Monday, March 31, 2008

Getting Old is Shitty...

Or so says the 88 year old grandmother of the Bar Mitzvah boy I met last weekend.

But, you know what I've realized?

People who are getting old are actually ok with the idea of talking about getting old. In some cases, they WANT to talk about it with you.

Think about it.

They've never been there before. They're afraid of it. They want to discuss their fears.

Between this past weekend, a previous conversation with my Nana, and one with the NFO's, it's dawned on me:

When someone makes a comment such as "I'm getting old," the best thing you can do is...continue the conversation, as awkward as that may be.

Give a listening ear...see what happens.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Waiting for Godot...

Some of you have been on the Friends of Jer (FOJ) list for over 15 years.

I was reading an email I sent out 11 years ago that said there were 140 people on the list (today, over 900). The thing is, the email was printed out on paper.

Despite my digital lifestyle, I am a bit of a bind.

Having traveled so much, changed computers, suffered crashes, etc., much of my earlier writings are gone in a digital format (this was before I understood the importance/ability of backing up and blogging!)

Anyhow, my dear mom had printed most of them out. She recently gave them to me.

They are in a pile in my 'man cave." A huge pile.

I am waiting, like Godot, for the day to come when I can have a massively high-speed scanner to cost-effectively (and with text recognition) put everything back into digital form.

I know the day will come...with technology, it usually does.

Wicked Cool....

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. Check out

You'll need to install something called Silverlight (mew MS technology), but let me tell you, it's worth it!

What's in a name?

Was talking with my sister Kira about the concept of hyphenated last names, say Joe Mother's Name-Father's Name.

The thing we were wondering about is, what are the motivations for hyphenating a kid's last name?

  • is it a "women's lib" thing? (Kira's words)
  • is it an idea of keeping a name alive?

The question is...what happens when two people with hyphenated names meet and get married?

Do the offspring have 4 last names? Is one chosen?

And, if the child decides to take the last name of her spouse and abandon the hyphenated name altogether, does that defeat the purpose?

No judgments here, just curious about how the phenomenon will play itself out...


Lubavitch Principal in the South Bronx

Someone had sent me an article from NYT about this man, but HT to Mike Eisenberg's blog, here's the video.

Friday, March 28, 2008

spring in the air

what is better than two kids enjoying the innocence of a springtime seesaw?

Posted by ShoZu

Only Hillary Can Unite America...

It's not often that my wonderful liberal friends agree with Op-Ed's from the WSJ, but Peggy Noonan's piece today about Hillary Clinton is an exception.

What's interesting, and this came out in my chat with Tjada a few weeks ago, is that there are many Democrats who are getting fed up with Clinton behavior/style-something Reps talked about 16 years ago.

Regardless, in a twist on the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" concept, we now have Obama supporters, disenchanted Clintonians (Clintonites?) and Republicans all in agreement about one thing...

Nobody likes the Clinton modus operandus.

Obama may preach a desire to bring the country together, but Hillary is delivering on the promise ;-)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Painful Moments in Parenting...

It's not the middle of the night requests for blanket adjustment or water.

It's not the incessant demands for "pasta" or whatever.

It is when your kid is just over the top exhausted and there's nothing you can do.

Paco had a long day yesterday. He was at the playground, running around, and things were great.

Until about 5.45pm.

Recently, we've either taken him off his nap entirely or just let him go for an hour (otherwise he's up until 9pm), but yesterday's no nap and severe activity made for a potent combination.

He was inconsolable and out of control. He hit the NFO a few times (he was redcarded for that one) and wouldn't calm down. Eventually, I had to put him in the shower (something he doesn't like), but usually gets him to take a deep breath.

No dice.

Poor guy just lost it.

I wasn't angry or worked up or stressed because, at that moment, you know there is nothing you can I just held him, hoping it would make things better.

It didn't really.

Eventually, I compelled him (by any means necessary, right?) into the bath and got him into bed.

3 minutes later, it was lights out.

Rough. Very rough.

Reader Submitted Ethical Dilemma...What Would You Do?

Growing up, my dad would invite guests at our home to offer up "ethical dilemmas" for discussion.

Yesterday, I received an ethical dilemma from a blog reader. S/he would like your input.

Posted in full with permission:

             I am an employee of US Fortune 100 company. the company has a corporate matching gift program wherein it will match every one dollar an employee donates to a charitable organization that meets the programs guidelines with two dollars from the corporation. (ie If I donate $100 to Habitat for Humanity, the company will donate $200, resulting in a total gift of $300). The list of eligible organizations is long, there are dozens of eligible organizations that cover different areas. The company will match up to $10,000 in employee contributions per year with matching funds.

            The programs rules state that only employees are elgible and employees should not collect funds from non-emlpoyees to take advantage of the corporate program.

            But let's say I can only donate $5,000 a year and my friend approaches me and says I can donate $1,000 on my own, but if you donate it for me through your program, then we can have $3,000 donated to this worthy organization that feeds hungry children, researches cancer cures, what have you.

           Obviously the program explicitly prohibits this. But if I cannot reach the 10K limit and my friend does not have access to a way to multiply his funds, is it so wrong or horrible to do this? are the means truly immoral even though the company has said it would make the mathcing funds available and we would ostensibly be increasing the resources of worthy organizations (which the company has already deemed worthy of their support otherwise they would not match) who would presumably be able to help better achieve their missions?

            some might think this is a variation on robin hood, but I think there could be a difference since the money is being offered for donation freely (albeit under certain rules), whereas robin hood clearly had no wish to part with their money acted against the will of his victims. so can't one say that it is not really thievery?


            and if its not and is merely dishonesty, is truth a more important value in this imperfect world we live in than alleviating human suffering. to put face on it, (in an admittedly self-serving way). If twenty children came to a food pantry and we had to turn away five that could be fed if we had used those matching funds, can you look them in the eye and say, "I don't have food for you because I could not lie to my corproate employer."

           And yes, i know that an answer is to find an ethical way to get the funds donated to feed those last five, either yourself or persuade others to donate (and yes, right here I will say, check if your company has a matching program, I am ashamed it has taken me over two years to discover this at my employer).

          But is that the only acceptable outcome? Especially when we know that it is not five or five hundred or even five million, but more than that? can we afford the goal of moral purity?

          or maybe it is the only answer since it is a slippery slope the other way to more immoral deeds in the service of ostensinly moral ends and a slide into anarchy.

           I look forward to hearing people's views on this blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Book Review: Brazen Careerist

At first I thought, "another self-help book by a would-be know-it-all."

I'd read Penelope Trunk's columns over the years in a few different places and she struck me as someone with a big ego. Hey, just being honest here.

But, I'd heard some good things about the big and figured I'd give it a shot.

I'm glad I did.

It's easy to mistake candor and straight-shooting for ego (it happens to me, so I should know), but she's got some very good insights into the challenges of the modern workplace.

Perhaps it was difficult for me to stomach at some level because I feel like I've made so many of the mistakes against which she advises.

Had I read it sooner....

When it comes to self-development, I am of the mindset that you need to keep pushing yourself. So, reading a book like this (and combining it with I Didn't See It Coming, for example) would be a career enhancer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Childhood Memories...

Think back to your childhood.

There must be certain snapshots of your homelife, of carefree days that are etched in your memory that represent those moments in time.

When you think of the house in which you grew up, what images do you see?

Yesterday was a glorious day and in a break from "taking back the house," I took Paco and Tonka outside.

We kicked the ball around, collected some sticks, and climbed the tree in the front yard.

Then, somehow, they got the idea of doing laps around the house.

I sat on the bench in the front yard and for a few seconds, I didn't see or hear them, and then in a flash, they were there, laughing and running.

I wondered (and hoped) that this memory would become one of the seared images of their childhood.

And if it did, I would feel pretty good about that.

Your Brain...on the web

This is a remarkable presentation, for many reasons, about how your brain works.

Real brain included.

You may not like it...

but it may be reality.

Some sobering thoughts on the prospects for Middle East 'peace'.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

3 kids: I think we're gonna make it..

So Take Back the House Day was a huge success. The whole team pitched in. It was inspired.

At some point, as we were processing all of the items, it dawned on me, "we can do this 3 kid thing."

We had moved out of "survival" mode into "strategic management of the house" mode and it wasn't crazy...if only for a moment, we had a glimpse of what it could be like to have 3 kids and have time to take a deep breath.

Movie Review: The Kingdom

With my intense passion for the issue of dependency on foreign oil as a strategic threat to Western Civilization (see Syriana, The Prize,the Coming Economic Collapse and Crude Awakening), it's probably no surprise that I liked the premise of The Kingdom

To me, of course, the story is highly plausible. There's a lot of action and I found the storytelling to be quite solid. Good elements of creating empathy for the main characters and of tying together various plot points.

The last scene is jarring for its veracity. Silent, subtle, but poignant.

Take Back the House Day...

Between the birth of Nitzahn, the Simchat Bat, and all of the craziness of Purim, we have lost control of our home.

Today, it's an 'all hands on deck' situation as we Take Back the House.

With a hat-tip to Take Back the Night.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's all about the taxes...

I was inspired by "Fun with Dick and Jane" to meet up with my financial advisor. Actually, it was the comment to the post that really got me going.

Seriously, I already had it planned, but I had a chance to chat with Josh yesterday and he proved once again why I'm a big fan.

I'm actually such a big fan that I've offered to host a "Scotch and Taxes" night for him at my house, so if you're interested in understanding some "tax minimization" strategies and drinking Scotch, let me know. Probably in early May.

I've discovered over the years that investment strategy without a complementary tax strategy is like peanut butter without jelly. They go hand in hand and I've made the mistake too long of not taking that into account.

It was fortuitous that I spoke w/Josh yesterday, as it made the article from Smart Money on Solo 401k and ROTH IRA's that I read today make a lot more sense.

Catered Anniversary Dinner

I made a mistake last week.

One of the wonderful aspects of our community is that other families will prepare meals for you in the weeks following the birth of a newborn.

When Tamar Teitelbaum called and asked which day was good, I let it slip that the 18th was our anniversary.

Well, a framed menu and a 1st rate meal later....our compliments to the chef.

So, I don't write a card, but I have a world-class chef prepare a meal for us :-)

Romantic! And yes, I drank the champagne.

Now playing: Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Marketing/Tech/Networking Blog...

If you miss those topics (now on my other/biz-focused blog) you can:
  1. subscribe by email to my other blog
  2. add the RSS feed
  3. make a habit of visiting

Would be honored to have you...

The address is

New Comment Record...

You know how I feel about anonymous comments, but I'm making an exception.

Whoever took the time to write this one, well...

7 Years of Being Smarter than my wife

The NFO (Nameless/Faceless One for her lack of desire to be called out or pictured on the blog) and I celebrate 7 years of matrimonial bliss today. (Here's our original love story)

Another year down of evidence that I am smarter than my wife (here's the proof).

The NFO has MANY strengths. One of them is an uncanny ability to purchase cards for an occasion, forget to use them, and then at some point in the future (even 2-3 years down the road), use it at the right moment.

We've gone over Carrying Cost, so we know her calculations are sound in holding on to them for a long timeframe.

I was pleased to receive a card today which was purchased for our anniversary last year and deployed today.

I guess that's better than what I did...which is not have a card or a gift at all.

The way I look at it, if I've been a good husband all year, I don't need to mark the anniversary and if I have to rely on an anniversary gift to tell her how much I appreciate her, well then, I've not done a good job during the other 364 days! :-)

It's interesting how your perceptions of marriage and what it means to be married change over time.

You realize more and more each day that it is the little things that make the difference and that "happily ever after" isn't a given, it's a process and a commitment. And you realize that it's not about 'being right' (and no, I'm not a sore loser because I'm way behind), it's about winning as a team.

Not easy. Definitely not easy. But worth it.

There's no doubt that the truism of "I married up" applies as much today as it did in Albany, NY 7 years ago. I am a blessed man. 

Monday, March 17, 2008

Honesty and Parenting

Tonka came home from a birthday party on Sunday with a bag full of goodies.

Then, she turned to me and said, "where's my bag of cookies from last week's birthday party?"

I paused. I had thrown them out. I looked at her.

"They were over there," pointing to exactly where they had been.

I took a deep breath and realized I was having a "Strong Father/Strong Daughter" moment.

"Tonka," I said, "I threw them out."

She looked hurt. Very hurt.

"...for two reasons. First, they were a week old, but the 2nd reason is I
felt that you didn't need anymore sugar. You had a lot of sugar today and you
just got another bag of treats. I felt like it was too much, so I threw them

She was a bit angry, but when I asked if she understood, she nodded. And I got another hug. Guess I'll have to ask her for feedback again, eh?

Movie: Fun with Dick and Jane...and a bit more

Disclaimer: I like Jim Carrey's humor.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was light. It poked fun at corporate greed. Had some great moments and made me laugh almost to the point of crying.

At the same time, it begged the question of "what would you do if your financial world collapsed around you?" (more reason to have an exit strategy and a good financial advisor).

With a newborn on your chest, it's easy to have thoughts of amazement about the beauty of life and the delicateness of the newborn.

At the same time, it's also easy to get filled with anxiety about being an effective provider. I think the transition from 0 to 1 is obviously the biggest in that sense and it may get easier, but it's never easy.

Parental Feedback...

As a marketer, I know that the most important thing I can do is ask for feedback from my customers. If it's honest, I'll get. some advice that will help me.

Sunday morning, Tonka and I were both awake at 4:30am. Not sure why.

She was coloring at the kitchen table, I was blogging.

I turned to her, got down to her level and said:

"Tonka, can I ask you a question?"
"Do you think I am a good Abba [father]?"
"Anything I can do to be a better Abba?"
"Do you promise to tell me if there's something you think I can do?"

And she gave me a big hug.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Principles of Playdates...

Two criteria for a successful playdate.
  1. is the kid a good influence on your kid?
  2. does the kid's presence in your home increase or decrease the amount of work for you, the parent?

Paco Makes Me Laugh...

We're driving along yesterday (Paco and I) just chatting when he says,

"Hey, check out the playground over there!"

He's 2.5 years old.

Where does he get this stuff? Oh wait, I think I know.

Note: With respect to Mandi who uses this "Eli makes me laugh" in email form for her son...

Book: Kite Runner

I will just start off by saying that I feel richer as a person for having read this book.

It delivered on so many of the key elements of a great book. The story was riveting. I felt transported to another time and place. Received an insight to a different culture. Felt empathy for the charachters. Felt emotion as a result of their situation. Learned about myself.

Plot basics: How one person's life over 25 years is affected by the culture/history/politics of Afghanistan.

Definitely worth it and a HUGE call out to my Microsoft buddy, Janell for the recommendation.

Blog Reader is Engaged...Breakup Doctor Plays Small Role

Long time readers of the blog know Tjada as an avid commenter, a diehard reader, and a fierce believer in liberal politics.

We love her for her intelligence, candor, and commitment. In fact, a few readers have said to me that they "look forward to the day when" they each can meet her face to face.

Well, today, we wish Tjada a hearty "Mazal Tov" because she is newly engaged to be married.

And, would you believe it, the Breakup Doctor had a role to play! Not enough, I think to get "Olam Ha-Ba" credit, however.

Just for fun, I called Tjada on Friday afternoon to get her take on the Clinton-Obama mess. It was a good chat and at one point, she said something (I think we were talking about Jeremiah Wright) like, "talking to you is good for me, it gives me perspective."

So, I say, "what am I, the token white guy?" :-)

And we both say, "no, there's Joe." (her boyfriend)

At which point she says, "hey, let me ask you your opinion on a relationship issue."

I won't go into the details of it, but I'll just say that it is no different than most couples (and it is the number one reason for divorce).

Anyway, I gave her some suggestions and then pulled a line out from the Breakup Doctor Manual.
"Either we're having fun or we're in this together."

Well, tonight she emails me to say thanks for the advice, they had a healthy chat (the first step to a successful marriage, IMHO), and afterwards, Joe took her out for dinner and proposed. She even used the line!

The NFO and I are so pumped and invite you all to wish her the best.

The Americanization of "Mazal Tov"

Joining a long line of yiddish expressions that have joined the American vernacular (shpiel, schmuck, tchotchkes), I am officially certifying that the term "Mazal Tov" has as well.

In the past week, I've been to three different Jewish events where I've met non-Jews (does anybody say Gentile?) who have said, totally comfortably, "Mazal Tov!"

Also seen it in email a few times.

Friday, March 14, 2008

International Social Activist...

It was late last night and I was watching the Glenn Beck show.

He made an analogy to the S.S. St. Louis, which led to deaths of hundreds of Jews in Hitler's camps, and spoke of a young gay Iranian man, studying in London (whose boyfriend was executed in Iran for being gay), and was denied asylum in UK and Netherlands.

Then, Irshad Manji gets on and she advocates that we email the first openly gay Muslim member of the UK parliament.

I'm sitting in front of my PC, so what the heck?

Here's what I got back this AM

Dear Jeremy

I am the first openly gay member of the House of Lords.  I was shocked and saddened to read about Mehdi Kazemi.  Mehdi is a gay teenager from Iran and faced imminent deportation.  He came to London to study in 2004.  His boyfriend was executed for being gay in April 2006.  Over 4,000 men and women face execution in Iran for being gay.

I raised this issue in the UK parliament on Tuesday and I asked the UK government to reconsider his case.  I am please to tell you that yesterday the UK government said they would reconsider his case and I am hopeful that he will be allowed to stay.

Your emails and support are gratefully received and I will let you know what the final decision is.  I have forwarded your letter to the government as a show of support from concerned individuals from America.

Thank you for writing to me and rest assured I will do my best to help this young man.

Kind regards,


(Lord Alli)

From: Jeremy Epstein ]
Sent: 14 March 2008 04:46
To: waheed alli
Subject: help the persecuted Iranian homosexual

Just heard about this story on the news. As a Jew, the analogy that Glenn Beck made to S.S. St. Louis was poignant.

I hope you'll send the message to the Iranians that this type of persecution isn't acceptable.



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guilt and Passion

No, not talking about Spitzer here. :-)

(though it was interesting to me that I only went to a traditional major news AFTER I had seen 8 or 9 status updates on Facebook/Twitter about it. More evidence that the person [or at least the group of friends] is the channel).

Talking about sushi, my love of which has been well documented.

Today, was reading Scientific American's article entitled Bluefin in Peril.

The surging popularity of sushi and sashimi has devastated the bluefin

Made me realize how I am contributing to this and felt more than a bit guilty about it. But, even though we live in a globally connected/integrated world, I wondered...."what will my reaction be over the long-term?"

Similar (ok, granted a different scale), but how one might react after hearing about Darfur...

It's a tough question: not how do you get people to care? But, how do you get people to ACT?

Parenting milestone

First time at the playground with all three kids and i am the only parent.

Apologies for any typos or brevity as - am emailing from my phone.

Morning in Bed Ruminations...

Spent all morning sleeping/resting in bed while holding the Parmi (aka Nitzahn), who was napping.

After I woke up, she was still sleeping, I came to appreciate how developed the mobile Web really is.

I caught up on all Facebook activity, all RSS feeds from Google, contact info (Plaxo) and the usual email.

Hint, put an "m." before your favorite site to see their mobile web version

e.g.,, etc.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Credit Expiring on Southwest...can you help?

I've got $227.40 on Southwest airlines that will expire May 8th.

Anyone have a trip that needs to be purchased where I can apply this credit and you can reimburse me?

Know what I hate?

This idea that if I buy a ticket and then cancel it, I get a credit. Then I have 1 year to use it or else the airline basically gets to take it from me.


I just lost $220 on American as a result of this policy.

Paternity Leave...

Say what you will about Microsoft, but when it comes to being an enlightened company, we've got it right.

New fathers get 1 month of paid paternity leave.

Yesterday, I picked up Paco at school at 1, took him to the park, got him a bagel, and went to the grocery store.

At 3:30, picked up Tonka, took her (I'd promised a 1 on 1 father/daughter outing) to see our Aunt Susan's new apartment (it's fabulous, a challenge since it was my grandparents apartment) and then to see her new male cousin.

Today, went to Paco's Purim Sing-a-long, where we convinced him to wear his tux as his costume. Very cute!

Totally made the time count and that made me feel good.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Movie: Capturing the Friedmans

Capturing the Friedmans is simply remarkable.

A father and son of a middle class Jewish family in Great Neck are accused of mass child molestation.

Tragic, yes, but what makes this film is that the bulk of this movie is made of home videos by the Friedman family themselves.

It was raw, unedited, videoblogging of a family's total disintegration. The lies, the deceit, the emotion...EVERYTHING is captured 'real time' (1988) by one of the other brothers and everyone (except the mother) is a willing participant.

And, to add a few twists...the film adds some seroius reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the two defendants (both of whom plead guilty).

I don't think I've ever seen a documentary like this.

What's even more touching about it is the early footage of the father and the boys and their happy family life.

As a parent, you think, sometimes, about all of the things that could happen to your kids as they grow up, of how life could play out in bizarre ways, but the reality is, you can't possibly fathom the extnet of life's twist and turns...this movie drives that home in a poignant way.

So sad to see how lives get destroyed sometimes.

Wish I could remember who suggested it, but definitely worth it. A few solid suprising twists.

Releasing the names...

It's good policy to not tell people the name(s) you are considering for your unborn kids. The last thing you need is pre-birth name ridicule. Some people can't control themselves.

Usually, once the kid is born/named, you are generally safe except from the most severe critics.

Well, put a bunch of Israelis in that category.

Despite our market research on the best spelling for the transliteration of the name, we've gotten a number of Israelis who've emailed us/my mom directly saying, in effect,

'that's not how you spell it. It should be Nitzan."

Yes, that's true, but the point is we were concerned about the 5.994 billion people in the world for whom Hebrew is NOT their first language!

Internet ADD

Do you think the Internet gives you ADD or just serves as a catalyst for those with the natural leaning towards it?

Comfort for the bedridden..

According to blogger, this is post 2,163.

In all of this time, I've had people tell me that
  • 'wow, you post a lot'
  • 'how do you find the time to blog?'
  • 'it's difficult to read all of your posts'

Until last night, I had never had someone say "could you post more?"

Loyal blogreader, Ellen, who is on bedrest for the rest of the century (though I can't find her comment right now), apparently looks forward (at least, in part) to my posts.

I guess I've found my niche...a captive audience indeed.

Send Ellen a shout out (on bedrest since week 14) to show her the love!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bday card from my mom...

Got to love my mom.

For my birthday card (this is the actual), she wrote:

"I know you hate wasting paper and this came for free in the mail."

Later, she said:

"You're the only person I'd do this for!"

Cost-effective and limited paper. Just great!

Content Bifurcation...

Coming back to this post on content questions, I am thinking that there is a way to break down my two blogs so that it makes sense.

On this blog, I talk about the topics that are related to how I make money.

And on this blog, I talk about topics that are related to what I am doing while not making money.

How's that for a bifurcation?

Updated: i've added a feed of my "work" blog to the sidebar, so you can always see what is going on there :-)

Facebook and Terrorist Love

A Facebook group that praises the terrorist who killed 8 Israelis last week.

Interested what it says?

Use the Arabic-English translator

What you can do:
If you are a member of Facebook, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Report Group”

The reason I gave: “this is a group that glorifies violence.”

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Welcoming the newest Epstein..

We probably closed in on 250 people today at the Simchat Bat for Nitzahn and we loved every minute of it.

The NFO had a vision...make the event about serving other people.

So, we had 4 activity tables (as kid-friendly as possible) to accomplish that. And each table was devoted to the memory of one of our grandparents
  1. a table for making flower blankets that will be donated to A Wider Circle's Well Mother program
  2. a table for Sunnygrams for Project Sunshine
  3. a table for Craft Kits for Project Sunshine
  4. a table for cards for the bombarded children of Sderot, Israel

We also asked our guests to answer the following question for Nitzahn (if you didn't do it already, offer up via a comment here):

What valuable skill do you think you can teach Nitzahn?

And we've gotten some great responses so far.

I'll post some pictures later, but for now here are some from Edith Gelfand.

I was particularly pumped to hear about the connections made via the use of name tags.

Josh Pines met Esther Kustanowitz in person (previously only known online). Mike Fox and Mark Spira met in person for the first time even though they are both in the same fantasy football league. And Tevi Troy reconnected with Alan Gersch, his high school and college classmate after 18 years!

It's the people you meet at an event that make the experience, so we were excited to see that happen.

And a few key lessons on big events

  1. As the host, you should expect to have no more than 2 minute conversations with each guest.
  2. You can have up to 2 two minute conversations
  3. As a guest, you shouldn't expect more from your host. Don't try to monopolize. I can't stand the high maintenance guests. Sorry, have to be honest here.
  4. When bringing a gift, staple or tape securely the card to the gift. The worst feeling in the world is when the host can't match up the right gift/card combo.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Circle of Life, contd.

The three days in March from 8-10 were always a special time growing up because my grandfather, my aunt, and I had consecutive days of birthdays.

Last year, we lost Poppy and the March 8th part of the equation.

Today, we filled that void.

My brother and sister-in-law had their son this AM and now the three days of Birthdays in March remains whole, only with the next generation.

More than that, however, is the cosmic significane of the boy part of the "there's one for each of them" coming on my grandfather's birthday.

When I heard, I began to tear, as my kids and I had been speaking about Poppy this AM, right around the time that his great-grandson was being born.

On Sunday, we unveiled the tombstone for my grandparents. On Saturday, we welcome the next of their offspring.

One week: death, birth, and of course, that other certainty: taxes.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Airborne cold relief...

Apparently, the claims that Airborne helps prevent colds aren't so solid....that's the bad news.

Good news: you can get some money back. See here.

Heads up on the

I've been thinking a lot about my online "global microbrand"

How do I use it most so that I can maintain my personal relationships (i.e. this blog and my personal CRM strategy) AND use it to build out my professional relationship.

This follows on the heels of the social networking 4 biz post (and JimBud's insightful comment)

As you may know, I've had a very successful blog at Microsoft for the past 2 years (top 8% of all MS bloggers), but I'm concerned about it long term.

Not that I'm going anywhere, but when the day comes for me to move on, what will happen to the "brand equity" I've developed, since my blog will be erased?

I had started a business focused blog (purely marketing, passion for technology, and (social) networking), but wondered if the Jer979 term was appropriate or not (after all, it's on ALL of my online stuff...FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

So, I'm going to try something out....let me know what you think.

If you type in, you will come here. That won't change.

But, if you type in, you will go here (in beta).

Right now I have a home page that will be a guide to the site
  • a biz focused blog (calling it "Igniting the Revolution" since that's the working title of my MS blog
  • a resume/links
  • a link to this blog

What I like about it is that the platform I am using ( offers me a LOT more flexibility to grow my site and Jer979 online experience than a simple blog.

I'm not sure it'll work, but wanted to give a heads up on it and ask for feedback...

Democrat Heavyweight Fight...

A few months ago, no one could imagine that a Republican might win in '08 (and there's no guarantee), but the multi-month heavyweight fight between Obama and Clinton is, in my opinion, a 'perfect storm' for the GOP.

  1. It drains resources from the Dems as they fight each other instead of fighting McCain.
  2. It delays the time when the Dems start raising money against McCain
  3. It allows more Dem on Dem in-fighting, which gives McCain the ammo he will need come General Election time to just say, "don't take it from me, Obama/Clinton already said it back in April about Clinton/Obama"
  4. It lets McCain lie low, recuperate, rest, and strategize. If he's off stage for 2 months...good. It's like having time off before the playoffs to rest your starters (though the Giants proved that may not matter!)

Add in all of the turmoil re: Michigan, Florida, and SuperDelegates and you may end up with Dem fatigue, which may open the hearts/minds of Independents to McCain.

My buddy, Tjada, argues that the fight will "toughen Obama up" and that may be true, but it may also wear him out.

And here's an interesting piece from Victor Davis Hanson on Obama as a liberal pessimist.

Front Page of the New York Times...

My dad used to say to us growing up:
"Act as if what you are doing will be on the front page of the New York Times."

In an analog era, there was some, but not much risk of that happening.

In a digital era, the exposure opportunity on the scale (or beyond) of the NYT is omni-present...and it is going to affect EVERYTHING.

Some are paranoid about a "police state" or intrusive government, but more than that, it's your fellow citizens who will expose your individual and/or corporate behavior.

Remember the $1800 video I took? That's one example.

Today (HT: Seth Godin), I offer up some interesting/disturbing videos from the classroom. Teachers are now on the front page of the NYT.

What I may tell my kids as an updated version:
"Act as if what you are doing will be on YouTube"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

15 minutes can save you 33%

Had my annual brush with hypertension yesterday when the tax bill arrived. (here's last year's episode.)

It was too big. Well, given my political views, it is always too high, but this was ridiculous.

Pored over it line by line. With a fine tooth comb.

Called the CPA.

Well, it turns out what we had here was a failure to communicate.

When all was said and done, the WHOLE bill was 33% lower.

Ok, blood pressure high. Just not as high! :-)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Scariest Night of Marriage

Got off the Nordic Track after watching The Departed last night and heard the NFO screaming for me.

Like your kids, you just know the different types of screams...and this one was sincere.

I shot upstairs to find her shivering and crying on the couch.

She was holding Nitzahn (aka the Parmesan) and hadn't put her down for "fear of dropping her."

Ultimate diagnosis: Mastitis. Treatable by anti-biotics.

But that was the end.

Between the two, however, I had to literally carry the NFO up the steps (she couldn't walk), needed to call the OB at 1am, and pump her full of Advil/Tylenol.

In our 7 years, I don't think I'd ever had a moment where I was this genuinely concerned for the health of my wife and man, it was intense.

Made me think...this is only the beginning. Sure, we're (relatively) young now, but as we age, it'll just get more and more challenging for us and we'll have more of these moments.

But, I never thought that yesterday, we'd run into this.

It's so scary to have the person you love be so powerless. But it is the reality of marriage.

Flipping the Script...

One of the most impressive things about our community is how people arrange to have meals prepared and delivered for families with a newborn.
It is a big burden lifted and heck, the wide sampling of food is quite exciting for me!
We've enjoyed some great meals, but none where the cook did a 180 on us.
Our "unique" requirements documents such as here and Conditions of Acceptance…(here) as well as acceptable gift items. (yes, more than a “bit” of gumption on this one).
Well, Sara had a different take on that. See her note here.
Well done!

Seamless Digital Commerce...

I'm committed to E*trade as a financial platform.

I like their security and I like how it is so easy to move dollars around from bank to credit card to investments.

Now, another thing.

I tend to prefer credit cards that offer cash back as a reward. (No surprise, given my gift card philosophy, eh?)

Historically, it was a bit of a tedious process that ultimately involved a paper check being sent to me. Then, I'd have to deposit.

E*trade Visa offers the same 1%, but instead, I can have it automatically applied right back to my statement. One click and I'm done. So easy.

That's what I'm talking about.

Movie: The Departed

NFO (aka my spouse) and I were watching the Oscars the other night. They did a chronological tribute to all the movies that had won "Best Picture."

Beginning in 1971, I had seen every movie except one (1980-Ordinary People) until 2006, The Departed.

I felt the void, so I moved it to the top of my queue.

And I'm glad I did.

It lived up to the hype. Was pulled it at the beginning and hung on until the very end. I just love stories like this. Great movie, great acting. Now, I get it.

Petty Guidelines for Leaving a Voicemail...

Here are my guidelines. It'll help you build your relationships.

  1. Don't drone on
  2. REPEAT your phone number. It' s really the only thing I have to have.
  3. Don't just say "call me." Tell me WHY you are calling.
  4. Be quick.

I hate it when people don't tell me what they want b/c odds are, I'm going to get your VM and they we are going to play phone tag for a while.

Waste of time. Neither of us has extra.

If I can answer your question via VM, isn't that just as good?

Simchat Bat Volunteers...

I know this is unusual, but I'm looking for 12 volunteers to help with part of the activities on Sunday's Simchat Bat.

30 minutes is all I need from you.

Please let me know if you can be part of the Team Parmesan (Nitzahn's working nickname)

Monday, March 03, 2008

There is no "social networking for business"

I've had a few people ask me to blog on "social networking for business."

Thought about this for a while and my answer is: It doesn't exist. There is just plain and simple social networking.

A bit extreme, perhaps, but business ultimately comes down to relationships with other people and whether you like them or not.

I guess I don't think it is possible (and perhaps not desirable) to think anymore of a "business" life and a "personal" life.  It is all one.

Now, you may not care that my grandparents died or that my infant daughter got up at 3am, but that's part of who I am. And that's fine.

When I blog about that, you can skip over it, but when you see my Twitter updates, connect to me on Facebook or LinkedIn or add my Tumblr feed or connect in Plaxo, you'll start to see the whole person.

You can decide if I am the type of person with whom you want to do business.

You may not like my political views.

You may think I spend too much time online.

But, you may also find some of my links fascinating and my Shared Items/Articles to be very informative and helpful.

And, even though you aren't interested in the fact that my kids are sick, it may tell you that I am a sensitive guy (maybe) and like to reflect on things.That may consciously (or subconsciously) be of value to you.

Or, if you look at my Amazon wishlist, you'll get a feel for the type of interests I have...

Yes, there will be "noise" that you'll have to filter out, but when I expose all of this information, it gives you a clear idea of the person with whom you are dealing (full disclosure kind of thing) and that will help you decide if you want to work with me because of who I am.

That's social networking for business.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

65th Wedding Anniversary...

One year ago today, my family and I gathered to bury my grandfather, Poppy, next to my grandmother, Nana, on what would have been their 64th wedding anniversary.
Today, many of the people who were there last year, reconvened for the unveiling of the gravestone.
There's certainly a void in all of our that can never be filled, but of course, we recognize that life goes on...and it goes on in the smiles of Calanit who sat on my sister's lap for the entire ceremony and the warm embrace of Erez who napped for most of the time on my lap and then, as 2 year old boys are wont to do, began to climb on the tombstones of others.
My aunt's friend, Carol, had the great thought of bringing roses to adorn the top of the grave and my sister-in-law, the rabbi, led a moving and appropriate service that touched all of us.
It's strange to think that it has been a year since we saw Air Force One pay its final salute to our Poppy and how much has changed in all of our lives as well. How much our grandparents haven't seen...and obviously never will; how the NFO and I work through stories and pictures to maintain the memory of Nana and Poppy within the minds of our children, knowing that the battle is an uphill one.
Hearing the stories again, surrounded by those who knew and loved them most, gave me a strong and warm feeling. I knew that, no matter how much time passes, they will always be a part of me.
I guess that's a hint of eternity.

Online Event RSVP nightmare...

I am SO unimpressed with it's not even funny.

Last week, I sent out an invite to folks with a link to the event on Facebook.

Straightforward and easy.

However, I got a lot of responses from folks saying "I don't do Facebook."


OK, I needed some way to track attendance, so we know how much food to order.

So, I decide...ok, Evite.

Try it out and dillignetly enter the 400 or so email address (not one by one, but still).

I click "send."


I click it again. Nothing.

Now, I know enough to know that something could be happening, but I don't see anything happening.

Finally, after what seems like forever, I get a message saying "your invite has been sent."

I look at the invite list and everyone is in their 2 (or 3 times). Just ridiculous!!

So, I go through and delete the duplicates...I'm irritated at this point at how long things have taken.

When I'm done, I see that NONE of invites are there...back to square one.

Meanwhile, I get email from folks saying "I've gotten 3 invitations from you."

I can't win!! :-)

If I were on the other end of the multiple invites, I'd probably skip the party just because I was so annoyed with the idiot who couldn't use eVite properly!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Most Meaningful Comment...

It's no secret that I love when people comment on the blog. Even more so, I love people engage in conversations with each other via the comments.

And with all due respect to my top commenters, the one on this post is the most meaningful by far. It makes all of my efforts worthwhile. Thank you, Kristen!

I encourage you to read the comments of your fellow readers. It enriches the experience. And, if you are so inclined, add your own.

Settling for 'Good Enough'

Following my discussion with the single woman approaching 30 about her future challenges in finding a husband (and her unwillingness to 'settle') and the previous post on the "tragedy of single women in their 30's)...

Saw an article today called "Marry Him: The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough". Worth the read.

Reminded me of the book I am reading about how the idea of 'love-based marriage' really is a novel (and possibly flawed) one.