Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crowdsourcing and the Art of Flying with Kids...

'Crowdsourcing' is the idea of posing a question to a large group and allowing that group to offer up ideas for a solution.

Prior to our 12 hour flight to Israel, I crowdsourced (by email) the question of: how to cope with 3 kids ages 5 and under without going crazy.

The responses were very similar:

  • activities, activities, activities
  • snacks, snacks, snacks
  • portable DVD player
  • Benadryl to "knock them out"

And my favorite two were:

"I don't buy junk food for my kids, unless we are flying. It's a special treat for them."


"NEVER give your kids sugar on a plane. It's a quick high followed by disaster."

OK, so maybe crowdsourcing doesn't always work.

Obviously, the situation with Hamas and Gaza is quite serious and involves matters of life and death, so I certainly do not mean to minimize the gravity of that situation, but when a number of people asked me about my concerns for physical safety, I responded:

Honestly, I am more concerned with surviving the 12 hour trip than I am with Hamas

My only advice to add to this is: Manage your own expectations.

In "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama, he suggests that you imagine as many possible scenarios for a given event, so that if one does come to pass, you are mentally ready.

I was ready for total meltdown and Armageddon, but it was overkill. Combining that with the solid advice from the FOJ community, the team performed brilliantly.

Of course, the flight home still hasn't occurred.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strong Father Bonus Points...

Longtime readers know that I was profoundly moved by the book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

(Warning: next section is not for faint of heart).

Well, I took Tonka to her 5 year old checkup because the NFO doesn't like to be there when the kids get shots.  Understandable.

Part of it was the necessity to get a urine sample.

Tonka had never done this before, so I had to assist.

And let's just say it wasn't a totally clean operation.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have even been able to imagine participating in this activity.

Now, I am proud that I did.

I still can't get over how much having kids changes your worldview.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Feeling Kind of Sunday...

Kids Dining and Watching Football_2

Image by jer979 via Flickr

The end of the regular season of football is always a bit melancholy for me.

And now, that Paco and Tonka have become big fans as well, it is even more so.

Growing up, football sundays with my brothers and grandfather was a special time, a very special time.

So, it's nice that the tradition is continuing, but at the same time, I'm sad that we're pretty much done for this year.

The kids have made a lot of progress.

They can do simple math now.

They recognize the abbreviations on the screen and can guess which cities they represent.

They know the basic rules of the game.

For those of you who watch, you've seen the State Farm commercials, "Feeling Kind of Sunday," which the two of them can (and do) sing quite often.

It's clear that they cherish those times with me. And I feel the same way.

Just nice to know that we are making memories in a meaningful way.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wave 6 Stats on the Invite Strategy...

KMS Feb Group Bday party (19)

Image by jer979 via Flickr

For those of you fond of tracking the progress of our Sabbath Invite strategy performance, I'll share the results from the recently completed Wave 6.

  • Start Date: June 7
  • End Date: Dec. 20
  • Number of Families Hosted: 25
  • Number of People Hosted: 115

Here are the stats from Wave 4. Wave 5 was abbreviated due to NFO bedrest.


Wave 7 Kickoff is TBD.


Pic is of one of the couples who participated in this wave...and loyal blog reader.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Hitting for the Parental Cycle...

Eric Davis hit for the cycle in 1989.

Image via Wikipedia

I was originally going to call this the "overnight hat trick," but realized it doesn't apply if you have more than 3 kids.

Of course, on 2nd thought, "hitting for the cycle" implies four, so there's a more encompassing analogy, but I should really get to the point, no?

The idea is this:

If you have a night where you are woken up a different time for each of your children (in my case, 3), then you have a 'hat trick' or have "hit for the cycle."

There are nights where I get up and two kids are up at the same time, but the worst is where one gets up, you settle her, go back to bed, and the process repeats..and repeats.

It's the exhaustion that gets you more than anything.




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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Season Buffet Guidelines...

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the U.S.

Image via Wikipedia

You know how when you get to an event and there's a buffet set up, all pristine and everyone is mulling around, yet no one is brave enough to be the first to break the buffet barrier?

Well, my experience says, that there's a huge value in being first.

Not just because you get first pickings, but because the other guests are waiting for YOU to be the first. They want the buffet line to open, but don't have the courage to do it themselves.

What's more, have you ever had a conversation at the end of a party where someone said, "I can't believe Joe was the first guy at the buffet line?"

No, of course not.

So, this holiday season, do yourself and your friends/co-workers a favor.

Break the buffet barrier and enjoy yourself!

They will thank you later.

To my friends who celebrate Christmas, have a Merry one.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Taking one for the team...

When I read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, the book made a point of how critical it was for fathers to make special time with their daughters.

To create memories for them.

To help them understand that women are to be valued.

I've taken that to heart.

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation and one of the attendees was the Director of Marketing for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.

Afterwards, she invited me (and Tonka) to attend a special VIP practice session at FedEx Field in Landover, MD.

Now, there are plenty of things I'd rather be doing than stand in a dance studio for 90 minutes watching 40 scantily-clad, extremely fit women perform dance moves, but since I know that my 5 year old daughter really likes cheerleaders, I figured I would take a deep breath and just do what my paternal responsibility required.

It was difficult, I took a bunch of pictures and videos to prove it. Here's one of them.

This parenting thing is tough work ;-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thank You Note By Email...

So, we received a thank you note by email the other day.

I'll admit did feel a bit impersonal.

And I'm not sure I liked it.

Of course, I took a step back and said..."new mother with a lot to do."


I'd rather not even receive one at all. I'd be happier that way.

For people new to the blog, there's a LOT of history on this topic ;-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hiding and Seeking

Nazi-Era Płaszów Labor Camp

Image by P.J.S. via Flickr

A tremendously powerful movie, Hiding and Seeking is about an Orthodox man in Brooklyn who is determined to go to Poland to find the places (and the people) who made it possible for his father-in-law to survive WWII.

In doing so, he hopes to demonstrate to his 2 sons, who are committed to the Israeli yeshiva world that there are non-Jews who are good people. His concern about rising Jewish extremism that says that all non-Jews are evil is creating a closed-mindedness that is unacceptable is one of the driving forces.

The film is about 90 minutes in a documentary format and I found myself getting choked up at times, particularly when the family finds the location of the barn where one layer of hay was all that separated their father/grandfather from certain Nazi death.

The implication of that moment and place was palpable.

A very different, highly personal take on the Holocaust, it's worth the time.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blogging Illusion...

If you knew that I didn't write this post today, how would you feel?

Truth is, there are often days when I don't have a moment to blog, so I compensate by overblogging on some days and just scheduling them to release on a future date.

Since most of my posts aren't really time-sensitive and while I may have the thought to blog about it, I don't think you want to read all of them at once.

Plus, I like having one post per day show up. Feels like a nice rhythm, you know?

But, I've heard from at least one vociferous individual that this fact "destroys the illusion" that I've had that thought on that actual day.

So, now that I've come clean, what do you think?

Shout out to SW-thanks for letting me write this on your computer.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Kinds of Tired...

There's bad tired and there's good tired.

The other night I was up until 2.30am.

Got up at 6.30am.

But felt fine.

I'd had a "power" evening of productivity (that makes me feel good) and I was fired up about the upcoming day's events.

Good tired.

Now, there's the non-stop of life's demands, when you're sick, and it's cold, and you have to do the less pleasant taxes.

And you're up late cleaning the house/apartment.

And you wake up in the middle of night and can't sleep.

And don't know why.

Bad Tired.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stress Relievers...

Just wondering what your stress reliever of choice is when things get challenging.

I hate to say it, but I'm a comfort food guy.

What I should do: sit in the sauna more often.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A dash of perspective...

Not sure who this guy is, but he sure is funny. Some good perspective on technology and modern America.

HT: Michael Eisenberg

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha

Satellite image of Japan in May 2003. :The isl...

Image via Wikipedia

With two years of life in Japan under my belt, I particularly appreciated the deep investigation and story of the culture in Memoirs of a Geisha.  Having read the book about 10 years ago (and I remember liking it, but had forgotten the bulk of the story), it was fun to go back and see the movie.

Also, since it has been a while since I left the Land of the Rising Sun, it brought back a lot of memories.

The deep appreciation for nature. For minimalism. For making the simple into the sublime.

The Japanese really do some things just so spectacularly that it's just special to behold.

The film does a good job of capturing that.

And the cinematography of the natural beauty, in particular, was magnificent.

It's about 2.5 hours long, but the story is compelling and it doesn't feel dragged out.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

In December's Oprah Magazine...


Congratulations to two of my clients, Dan Pink and Yes To Carrots! for some nice publicity and validation in the December issue of Oprah's magazine.

Update (just to clarify):I didn't get the Oprah placement. Just celebrating the fact that my clients are there.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

More reasons to be anti-Gift Cards

My opposition to gift cards is well documented.

I say, just give cash and be done with it.

But now, there is a practical reason.

A new company Gift Card Rescue offers you bankruptcy protection should the company that sold you the gift card go out of business.

Another risk you don't face with cash.

And don't tell me, "oh Barnes and Noble won't go out of business."

Yeah, that's what people said 40 years ago about GM and Ford...and they may as well be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New nickname for Paco...

Football fans will get this.

When my 3 year old boy runs around naked (pre-bath), his new nickname is:

T.J. Tushmandzadeh

For the rest of you, a chance to learn something new.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Real Football Weather...

Driving in the pouring rain the other day and with cold winds blowing, Paco says suddenly from the backseat:

"this is REAL football weather!"

I think my job here is done!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Tonka...

She made me a father.

Has shaped what Father's Day means to me.

and I've used (some of) the great advice I was fortunate enough to receive from all of you.

So, 5 years down the road, join me in marking the day.

And if you are interested in a trip down memory lane, here's the write-up of Day 1.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good News or Bad News?

When someone comes up to you and says, "I have good news and bad news," which do you say you want to hear first?

I always select the bad news.

I've found that the bad isn't usually as bad as the person thinks it will be.

Plus, I find it easier to absorb the blow of bad news from a neutral state.

And the good at least returns me to even (if not better), but on a positive trajectory.

End on an upbeat note.

Deferred gratification, I guess.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Is America Really Worth It?

After reading about the events at Walmart in NY where a man was killed by a Black Friday mob looking for a deal (and seeing this video), my initial reaction was:

If this is the state of American culture, why bother preserving it?

I know (hope) that was knee-jerk, but man...what does this say about our overly materialistic society.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

3rd Child QT

I think it is fair to say that Gianni (nickname for child #3) doesn't get as much attention as Tonka (#1's nickname) or Paco (#2's nickname) at a comparable age.

It's not fair, but the words of every parent are "Life's not fair."

While the NFO works on Sunday and I have focused time with all three kids, it's rare that I have focused time just with Gianni.

So, when the Nanny called to say she was sick and the NFO had to go to work, I had the opportunity to take Gianni on some errands (CVS and the bank) and play one on one with her.

She's almost 10 months old and really beginning to develop into her own little person.

It's tougher with later kids to appreciate all of the milestones (because you are so busy with all of the other kids), but it was fun to have a "strong fathers, strong daughters" moment with her...if only for a few before she crashed for her nap.

Of course, there are trade-offs and seeing how the siblings play and interact with each other is but one of the many ones.

And, as my friend said, "don't feel too bad, you did give her LIFE."

True. True.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Parent-Teacher Conference...

The NFO (my wife) went to Paco's (my son's) parent-teacher conference the other day.

The news was both comforting and funny.

Comforting because he is pretty much 100% the same at school as he is at home.

Funny because the teachers used their own words and basically were

Or, at least how I perceive myself.

They talked about his energy, how he gets along with people, how he likes to learn...and, uh, sometimes he could do a better job of listening.

Jeremy 2.0 is in full on development and testing

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Peter Schiff Was Right 2006 - 2007

I'd never heard of this guy until today, but wow....

Next time, maybe I'll listen to the contrarians a little more.

Movie Reaction: Akeelah and the Bee

A captivating story  about a young African-American girl from south Central LA who confronts a lot of internal and community challenges to win the national Spelling Bee.

The movie, which was financed by Starbucks (yes, Starbucks), was a solid feel-good story and had some good actors (Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett) and a solid plot line.

I'll admit it...I got a bit emotional at the end, which I guess is a sign of connection with the movie's heroine.

It had the usual elements of heroine, personal adversary, feel-good ending, but a nice twist on it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let Me Google That For You...


Search Google (trust me, worth the click)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Helpless Parental Feeling...

There are probably worse moments in parenting, but for me, few outweigh that of holding a vomiting infant.
Sure, the visual isn't great, but it's the one that gets to me.
They can't tell you what is wrong. They are scared. There's really not much you can do and the danger of something bad happening, say suffocation, seems pretty high, since they can't rollover.

The other night, Gianni was in that predicament and I found myself first up with her for 3 hours at 3am and then, sleeping on the floor in her room (as did the NFO, we took turns), just trying to make sure nothing really bad happened.

Fortunately, she seems better now and the "night journey" has passed, for now, but of all of the moments, this is one of the toughest.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Your Type of Blog?

According to the Blog Typealyzer, I am an ISTP personality type.

Here is the description

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.










HT: Greg Mankiw