Friday, February 29, 2008

Movie: The First Basket

Hmmm...the intersection between history, sports, and Judaism.

Seems like a good combo for me.

What impressed me most about the movie wasn't so much the fact that the first basket in the NBA was scored by a Jew or the role of Jews in the formation of the league.

What really impressed me was how many quality interview (ranging from Red Auerbach to hard-core Rabbinical authorities) were part of the documentary.

The filmmaker is David Vyorst whom I met a few weeks ago and he's done a very impressive job in documenting this story.

Who wants the DVD? I'll send it to you (and yes, review of the movie would be necessary). Hey, no such thing as a free lunch!

The Culture of Tipping

This post will probably be as popular as the ones on gift cards and was motivated by this Op-Ed from the WSJ.

Bottom line: I don't get the culture of tipping.

Perhaps it is my overly economic-based view of the world, but I guess I feel like there is a price for a good or service, you agree to pay that amount and you get the good or service in return.

That's it.

Why do you need to give "something" on top of it?

And, if a tip is only for truly spectacular service, why don't we hold off when the service isn't so good or really lousy?

The Op-Ed summarized it well.

Sign the Petition...

Guinness is sponsoring Proposition 3-17 which, after obtaining 1 million signatures, would submit a proposal to the US Congress to make St. Patrick's Day an official holiday.

In a great example of integrated marketing, I saw a TV ad and then went to the site.

On the petition, they ask the basics and then you need to fill in the blank that says:

"I signed the petition because..."

So, I wrote:

"According to Thomas Cahill, the Irish Saved Civilization. This is the least we
can do."

His book is called How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Loving the next one...

The NFO and I were talking last night about how when Paco was born, our big concern was that "we couldn't love another child as much as we loved the first one."

We were wrong.

Last night, we were discussing that with number 3, we just have no concerns. We know that the love we feel for the others will be matched. It is just a matter of time, but we're not stressed about it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Movie: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death

Netflix recommended Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death after watching Blood Diamond . It's a 90 minute documentary about how the Belgians, led by King Leopold II absolutely raped, pillaged, and plundered their way to fortune by total exploitation.

Pretty damning and conducted in the form of a trial of the King, it really dives down into some of the late 19th/early 20th century abuses (and this was, according to the film, well past the time that the other European powers had realized it was not worth it to exploit without reinvesting). The Belgian King felt pressure to catch up.

Interestingly enough, the practice of chopping off hands which gained notoriety in Sierra Leone's conflict actually was, according to the film, 'invented' en masse by the Belgians.

A sad, sad tale that will make you look at the "wealth" of Brussels and Belgium in a whole new light.

20th Democratic Debate..and First

It may have been the 20th for them, but it was the first for me.

The NFO went out dancing (yes, I am not kidding) and I was holding Ahn (working nickname seed).

I am not voting for either of them, so it wasn't like I was trying to be persuaded or something like that.

I've got to tell you that, although Obama certainly is more inspiring than Clinton in the speech giving arena, I thought he held up well in the debate.

A few observations about style:

  1. There was one interchange where Clinton was attacking Obama for saying he "denounced" but didn't "reject" Farrakhan's support. She was making a big deal about it. Obama finally said, "ok, I concede the point. I denounce and reject!" Brilliant.
  2. When Clinton spoke, Obama looked at her. When Obama spoke, Clinton looked down. There was also one answer at the end (don't remember which one) where she just wasn't making eye contact at all with Tim Russert, looking down. Made me feel like she wasn't being honest.
  3. On releasing her tax returns, she said: "I'm getting those together. It's taking some time." Are you kidding me? I could walk downstairs and give you my last 6 years of return and be back by the time the commercial was over. You don't want to release it. Fine. You're hiding stuff. I get it. Don't take me for a fool.
  4. Obama is left-handed. So is my brother, Barak. Bizarre coincidence.

On the more substantive issues

  1. Who doesn't want universal health care? I just don't understand how we're going to pay for it and, at the same time, give people the level of care they expect/deserve? How do you price a life? (see Epidemic of Care if you want a PHENOMENAL book primer on the subject)
  2. NAFTA-You're going to pull out if you don't get it re-written? Protectionism, much? You want economic hardship for the whole country? Do that. The best primer on this topic is The Choice by Russell Roberts.
  3. Taxes--oh, by the way, if you institute mandatory health care at rates based upon your income, that's a nice way of saying "I'm going to raise taxes."
  4. Foreign Policy-aside from the "oh, I was an idiot for voting on Iraq" or "we need to get out," I didn't hear anything substantive about the threat of radical Islam to Western Civilization. Further proof, IMHO, that it's not top of mind for the Dems...and another reason why I'm not voting for them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

starbucks training

many of you heard about the three hour closing of starbucks so they can get their mojo back.

nice marketing

here is the one near my office delivering the training

Posted by ShoZu

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Mom Song...

Received Links of the Day

Leonard Nimoy: The Origin of Spock's Greeting

Stuff White People Like (very funny!)

Three Kids...First Thoughts

I know it's early, something like 1% of the precincts have reported, but so far, I'm willing to go along with the wisdom I've received that:

"the transition from 1 to 2 kids is more difficult than 2 to 3."

0 to 1 is, of course, a paradigm shift of epic proportions, so that's a different category.

But, especially with the whole bedrest experience, I feel pretty confident and at ease in my ability to manage the other 2 (playing zone) while the NFO takes on Nitzahn (man to man) [btw, a lot of folks have asked-no nickname can't rush the evolutionary process]

Besides, it's proportionally not that big a deal. Going from 1 to 2 is a 100% increase. 2 to 3 is only a 50% increase in the number of kids!

There was a moment over the weekend when the NFO was napping and I found myself in the den with all three kids at once. Caught myself thinking...whoa, I have a brood here.

That was a bit crazy, indeed.

I understand why non-first children feel a bit neglected sometimes (the NFO is #4) b/c you just don't have as much time.

On that topic, I am a bit do you allocate time, my most valuable asset, to the kids in the right proportion?

I feel like Paco has been given a bit of extra time gut tells me that he needs it a bit more, so I've focused on it. But, I don't want Tonka to be left out of the mix and tonight, I apologized to her for not having as much 1:1 time as I would have liked today.

They had a solid day and we had fun (and a big assist to my brother, Barak, and two rock star sisters who came in for some middle inning relief work), but knowing when to give time to each, all, or none [need to have time to blog, of course] is something I'm going to have to learn.

Regardless, it's pretty ego tells me that I'm a mild patriarch now.

What's interesting is the absolute blurring between work and life, particularly in the digital age.

I've got a desktop pc and 2 laptops, deployed strategically around the house. Plus a smartphone. I move seamlessly from one to the other as I alternate between work and home responsibilities. Send an email, go change a diaper, pick up some toys, and then analyze a spreadsheet.

The digital revolution empowers me to be at home and do more than I would if I were at an office, but knowing what is "work time" or not is more and more becoming a thing of the past.

The NFO has been great about not asking me to get up too much in the middle of the night (she asks for 1 time so she doesn't have to get out of bed to change diapers) and I've becoming a devotee of the "whenver I can get it" nap, so all in all, I'm not too exhausted....yet.

Honestly, a bigger challenge recently has been that Paco (who usually naps for 2-3 hours in the PM) hasn't been going to bed [and has been getting out of bed multiple times a night] until 10pm.

So, yesterday, even though he threw a tantrum, I wouldn't let him nap at all...made him take a bath when he was tired, just so he would stay awake. I worked, but it was a 1 hour long tantrum. Need to figure out a way to get him 'over the hump' so he catches his 2nd wind without the kicking, screaming, and crying of "I want to take a nap!!!"

Bottom line, Nitzahn is a beautiful kid. Her siblings and mother adore her (as do I) and we're day at at a time. As I've often quoted my mom:

"The days are long, but the years are short."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

wisdom at the bakery

was walking through the store with paco this morning and got into a discussion with the bakery manager about how they use statistics to forecast demand for cakes.

i started to explain to paco the concepts, as if he were in a college level economic class

the manager, robert, encouraged me.

'i love how you speak to your son. i have two boys in their twenties and i never used baby talk with them. and now, i couldn't be more proud of them. keep doing it and he will turn out just fine.'

Posted by ShoZu

Lens Activation...

Just got a pair of "transition" lenses that turn into sunglasses.
When you pick them up, they put it under an ultraviolet light that "activates" the chemical.
Neat stuff.

Embedded Reporter...

This would be my right hand cutting Nitzahn's umbilical cord.

Meeting the sibs...

Paco, Tonka, and Nitzahn got to meet and get acquainted.

For more pictures of Nitzahn’s first few days.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gathering up the feathers...

There's a great story within the context of spreading rumors:

A Chasidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."

I'm in the unfortunate position of having to gather the feathers up as well.

The bulk (over 85%) of the explanation of Nitzahn's name was written by the Nameless/Faceless One (NFO=my spouse) who is also the Creditless one, but...

because it was on my blog and I sent the note out, everyone thinks that I wrote it.


I didn't.

NFO did. I just added a bit.

Consider this the first feather I am attempting to gather.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fear of the Unknown...

Interesting how many women have written back to me and said "I don't want to read your 'liveblogging' of the birth of Nitzahn because I hope to give birth one day..."

And, here's a HILARIOUS site for you Obama folks (and you non-ones as well)

Law of Parental Proximity...

In parenting, it's tempting to overhear a dispute between your kids and try to resolve it. That's natural.

The NFO and I have added a new axiom. The LPP (Law of Parental Proximity).

That means, whichever parent is closer to the action at the time of conflict is the de facto field commander until he or she decides to abdicate that position to the other spouse.

What that means for the spouse who is farther removed is that s/he must resist the temptation to communicate over the de facto commander to the kids, thereby calling the chain of command into question and reducing the field commander's effectiveness.

The further removed spouse can consult directly with the field commander, of course, and collaborate on the best course of action.

The LPP. You heard it here first.

Say Hello to... Nitzahn Ta'ira Epstein

Our daughter’s name is Nitzahn Ta’ira.

The word “Nitzahn” is Hebrew for “blossom.”

“Nitzahn” is a unique word in that it constitutes a hapax legomenon, that is, a word that appears only once in the entire Bible.

It is found in Chapter 2 (verse 12) of Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs):

הַנִּצָּנִים נִרְאוּ בָאָרֶץ, עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ; וְקוֹל הַתּוֹר, נִשְׁמַע בְּאַרְצֵנוּ.

“HaNitzanim Niru Ba’Aaretz. Eyt ha Zamir hegiyah ve Kol Ha Tor Nishma Beartzeinu”

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land;

The Song of Songs is widely recognized as some of the most vivid love poetry in existence. In naming Nitzahn, we recall our beloved Nana and Poppy (z’l), Jeremy’s maternal grandparents, and specifically the love affair they shared for over 60 years.

In our estimation, their love was one of a kind, unparalleled, as is the word “Nitzahn” in the Bible.

In the next verse, (2:13), we read:

קוּמִי לכי (לָךְ) רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי, וּלְכִי-לָךְ

Arise, my love, my fair one, and go forth yourself.

This was the hallmark of Nana and Poppy’s style of love throughout their lives until their passing. Their mutual love and attraction unquestionably empowered each other to go forward and perform seemingly mundane as well as heroic acts;

Nana courageously waited for Poppy as he flew missions with the Flying Tigers during World War II and she supported his dedicated work as a volunteer at Sibley Hospital.

Poppy encouraged and rejoiced in Nana living a life that Frank Sinatra must have imagined when he sang “My Way.” A friend to hundreds, a classy lady, and a woman of dignity, Poppy reveled in Nana’s unique and elegant style.

And Poppy made the ultimate sacrifice.

Watching as his beloved endured a year’s worth of physical pain and passed on, and longing to be reunited with her, he knew that he had only one more task in his life’s work.

On the night after she died, Poppy said:

“I loved her, I will always love her, and I cannot live without her,”

5 weeks later to the day, he too passed away.

They were buried next to each other on what would have been their 64th wedding anniversary.

The appearance of a blossom reminds us that despite the cold, harsh winter, life can re-emerge. Sometimes at the expected time. Other times in unexpected ways. A blossom appearing on a tree is a true indication of the ability of the tree, so battered by winter, to yield fruit, to draw from its roots, and produce beauty and sustenance where it has been lost.

Nitzahn, our daughter, arrived approximately one month earlier than expected and represents life and sustenance on our family tree. She draws upon the roots of her ancestors and brings light at the end of a dark and cold winter, our first without Nana and Poppy.

The role Nitzahn has played in this context also constitutes our hope for the role she will play in the lives of her friends, family, community and nation going forward.

Nitzahn’s middle name is “Ta’ira,” which means “bringing or shining forth light.”

We pray that she will seize upon the examples set by her family, Stanley (Poppy) and Karlyn (Nana) Robinson as well as Tamar’s maternal grandfather, Frederick Goldsmith (in Hebrew ‘Uri Shraga’) and known as “Saba.” Saba brought light wherever he went through unselfish, heroic, and noble acts, whether in the darkness of World War II or in the lives of friends, family, and community.

We will regale Nitzahn Ta’ira with tales of the light brought by our family members and the community of Kemp Mill in the weeks of uncertainty preceding her birth. And, she will undoubtedly, we hope, quickly come to recognize and bask in the light and joy brought by her sister, Calanit and her brother, Erez.

As her parents, we hope that we will have the Zchut (merit) to raise her to a life that fulfills the vision of the name we have chosen, to Torah, Chuppah (the wedding canopy) and Ma’asim Tovim (good deeds).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Baby Girl's Name--Focus Group

In one of the comments (I can't find it now), someone asked if we were going to continue on with our botantical theme for our kids name.

Answer: maybe.

Today, however, we were discussing the issue of

"what is the best way to spell, in English, the name of our daughter...whose name is of Hebrew origin?"

After some debate, we decided to conduct a survey of the nurses on the floor.

We wrote down three options.

"Ladies, excuse me," I said, "but I need some multi-cultural input here.

I am assuming that you don't speak Hebrew."
They nodded.

"So, my wife and I are trying to figure out which way to write the name of our daughter, which is a Hebrew one, in English so that the largest number of people will pronounce it correctly at first glance."

I showed them the three options.

#2 was eliminated and, to my amazement, for both #1 and #3, all eight respondents pronounced it perfectly. By a vote of 6-2, they settled on version 3.

So, that is the spelling that went on the Birth Certificate form.

On my way back to speaking with the NFO to share the results, I thought it would be interesting to get the country of origin of each of the nurses, in order to "bulletproof" my data set from cultural bias.

While I was asking, "where do you come from?" a strange incident occured.

A doctor, who hadn't overhead the first conversation, confronted me and said in a rude tone (and for me, that's saying something), "WHY are you asking where they are from?"

"Excuse me?"

"I have been here for 35 years and I know what you are doing. It is not
right to categorize people."

"Is this some sort of joke?"

"I know what you are doing and it's not ok."

"You know what I am doing?!" I was incredulous. "You KNOW that I am trying to figure out the best transliteration of a foreign word so that the largest number of people will find it easy to pronounce in English and in order to support my results, I am gathering the country of origin of my focus group respondents?"

I was really ticked off by this jerk.

Finally, I left and when I came back, I asked the nurses what had happened.

One said, "I don't know, I guess the doctor was just very sensitive. I didn't think it was a big deal, but in this country these days, some people get overworked about these things."

Anyway, it was quite bizarre and shows that you shouldn't jump to conclusions, especially in an inflammatory way.

I know you want to know. The respondents (all female) were from:

  • Jamaica (2)
  • Rwanda
  • Colombia
  • El Salvador
  • DC
  • Chicago
  • North Carolina

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Movie: Maxed Out

Maxed Out is about the huge pain that is inflicted on people (and our society) when it comes to debt.

A decidedly liberal slant was obvious, but that didn't really bother me.

I was genuinely moved by the stories of the people portrayed. The hypocrisy displayed by government officials (much more in the film on the GOP side, of course) does turn your stomach. You wonder...where does it end?

The reason why I would only give this movie 2.5 stars is not because of its bias or its poor ability to tell a story. The bias was fine and the storytelling was very effective. I get the problem. It's huge. Real people are being hurt (and let's assume that individual responsibility has nothing to do with it)

What I didn't like is that there was (aside from one Harvard professor saying "I don't know the answer") no effort to even offer up a solution. Ok, it's a big deal, now what?

That's where I felt disappointed by this film.

I did feel thankful for the, I believe, relatively solid financial education I received from my parents and grandparents.

And, I felt a bit of nerves, wondering if I'd be able to duplicate that for all of my brood.

What's in a name?

A number of people have asked about our daughter's name.

The answer is that it will be revealed on Thursday morning.

It is customary/superstition not to announce the name of a newborn until done so within the framework of a religious service.

So, stay tuned...and thanks for all the messages of support.

Circle of Life...

When we found out that my sister-in-law was having a boy, my mom secretly (read: told everyone) wished that we would have a girl.

You see, both the NFO and my sister-in-law were pregnant at the same time.

And my mom was thinking about our beloved Nana and Poppy who both died just about a year ago.

Her dream: to have one child to "replace" (not the best word, but it's 4am) each one of them.

And, in some divine type of circle being closed, that is in fact what has happened.

Of all the things that happened to night, it was that thought that brought tears to my eyes.


Other Notes

Congratulations to Aviva who won the ad-hoc Baby Pool.

And it looks like the sibling birth sequences are unique

first weigh in

Posted by ShoZu

a new girl

born at 3:37am

Posted by ShoZu

It's a GIRL!!!

Born at 3:37am

The NFO pushed for a whopping 9 minutes...may be some sort of record.

Speaking of records...

Of our 3 kids, this one is:

  • the lightest by birth weight
  • the earliest before due date
  • the latest in terms of birth hour (if you think about night time and not the midnight idea, but whatever...)

Game on!!

head is coming down

doctor is here

let's do it!

live from labor room

video documentary of the room

Posted by ShoZu

Labor intensifying....

I can see it in her face. She's feeling a lot more pressure. Just paged the nurse.

I'm scared, but mostly because the lady in the next room is screaming bloody murder.

the baby team

dina, the nurse on the right with dr. dequattro

Posted by ShoZu

Mobile post sent by jer979 using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Ineffective Epidural...

Seems like our anesthesiologist hasn't done the same level of service as the previous ones.

The contractions are still hurting (granted, it's not as much), but she was hoping for NO pain (as was the case before).

That's annoying.

7 cm dilated.

Membrane to be ruptured....

It's getting serious now....

looks like a sword that they use to do that.

Man, this isn't for the faint of heart.

Ok, we're done.

Birthing Update...

Thanks to Dina, our great nurse, the Dr. (Johnson) and his tech (Mervis) got here quickly. Epidural is in.

No need to repeat the challenges of Baby #1 (see here)

Baby Timeline-Update

New prognostication from the OB: 3am

Call is going out for the anesthesiologist to deliver epidural

She's 6cm right now. Contractions still about 5 minutes apart.

Current weather conditions can be found at

Epstein Baby #3 Baby Pool...Enter Now...

If you're up and following the blog, you can enter the impromptu Epstein Baby pool.

  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Time of Birth

Winner of the baby pool gets a charitable donation made in his/her honor to charity of his/her choice AND naming rights (ok, just kidding on that one).

Add via the comments.

First two bets are from my sister in law and brother in law.

Aviva- Girl, 5 lbs 3 ozs, at 3.10am EST
Ami- Girl, 6 lbs 10 ozs at 2.43am EST

Now, it's your turn....

  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Time of Birth
Tie breaker will be closest time by minutes (over or under)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Random Comments from Labor and Delivery room...

Why I'm predicting girl.

Ok, healthy baby is most critical, but here's why girl would be neat.

The NFO (my spouse, aka Nameless/Faceless One) has 6 siblings. Four of them are married. All four of those have at least 3 children.

What's incredible to my mathematical mind is that NONE of the sequences of children repeat.

For example (if x= girl and y=boy)

Sibling 1 has X Y Y Y

Sibling 2 has Y Y X X

Sibling 3 has Y Y Y

Sibling 4 has X X Y

We are X Y


By my calculations, there is a 1/8 chance of a sequence repeating, so it's pretty neat that the odds have played out. Of course, if we have a boy, our sequence will repeat with that of Sibling 1. Hence, why a girl would be cool.

Regardless, healthy baby, but let's have a little fun (and, if it's a boy, yes, I'll still love him as much.)

Other random thoughts....


I'm finishing up our taxes.

Why is figuring out cost basis so difficult?

I'm tired. It's 11:30 pm.

Why can't kids be born in the middle of the day?

Wireless connectivity rocks.

Using my laptop to bluetooth to my phone to connect to Net. Sweet.

Baby Arrival-Timeframe

I said to the OB, "Ok, if you were in Vegas and had to bet on the arrival time of this baby, what would you say?"

"Around 1-2pm" was her call.

We'll see if she's on the money.

Hiring with Diversity in Mind...

The OB was just talking about her appreciation of the "patient diversity" in her new practice since moving here and leaving the military.

Made me remember a thought I buddy Tjada will be happy.

There's a mantra at Microsoft called "Hiring with Diversity in Mind."

At first pass, it smells of affirmative action.

But, I was thinking about it the other day after I joined my 4th or 5th con call in a row and realized..."hey, everyone with whom I've spoken to today is white."

A lot of women, yes, but everyone was white.

On the flip side, that's obviously not the make up of our customer base, so it got me wondering..."what assumptions are we making about behavior that may not be accurate? What are we missing?"

It put the concept of "hiring with diversity in mind" in a whole new light.

Now, obviously, there's a fine line, because quality of employee needs to be paramount, but ethnic and racial component of a candidate is an element of quality.

Ok, now back to helping my wife give birth...

"Are you having a boy or a girl?"

Doctor and nurse just asked.

Our answer, "we don't know."

Both of them say "COOL!!!!!"

They told us that fewer than 3% of parents take that route these days, so they are part of the adventure.

labor command and control center

my laptop is up and i am connected in the roomsready to roll

Posted by ShoZu

Baby--Looking like "Go Time"

We're admitted. In the Labor and Delivery wing. Contractions every 4-5 minutes. On the fetal heart monitor.


Just got call. Nfo may be in labor

Headed home to get her

I am emailing from my mobile device, sorry for any typos or brevity.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bedrest-Status Update...

There's a phrase people use to refer to the end of the Jewish ritual mourning period. People say:

"They/she/he is 'getting up' on thursday (or whatever the day.)"

This is said because during the mourning period (shiva), it is customary for people to sit lower down.

Well, last night, the NFO says to me:

"If I make it to 37 weeks [which would be Thursday], I am 'getting up.'"

And she said it in a way that sounded like the end of shiva.

What's more, she exclaimed that if the baby wasn't born by then, that night, she is planning on resuming her normal schedule and going to Israeli folk dancing.

Should be exciting...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Movie: Eastern Promises

One thing I enjoy is when one experience reinforces the knowledge gained from another.

So, as I watched Eastern Promises, I was reminded of a documentary about the Russian Mafia I had seen on the History Channel, particularly the role of tattoos and was able to have a deeper understanding of part of the film.

If I have a criticism, it was that, at the end, I was left feeling like I wanted a bit more, but I guess, that's probably a good thing.

I thought the acting was superb, the issues very real and the story very compelling, as raw and brutal as it was at times.

Definitely worth a view and made me miss even more the Russian/Turkish bath house in NYC (site of my bachelor party, no joke)

Now, if they only had one in DC...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I must have been in the control group...

A new study says that first-born children "have higher IQ's, make more money, and are better educated," on average. The explanation is that their parents tend to spend more quality time with them than with subsequent children.

Uh, I love my parents, but I guess something went amiss here, since I don't have a higher IQ, don't mkae more money, and am less educated (if we are going by credentialed degrees, at least).

Feeling a bit neglected....

And, another interesting note:
The research also shows that the youngest child gets roughly the same amount of quality time whether the family is large or small. Price found that parents of large families devote more overall quality time to their children, so the youngest of four siblings ends up with as much quality time as the younger of two siblings.

Digital TV: PSA

Just in case you haven’t seen it, here is the link to the official government site that hands out the coupons for the set-top converter boxes.

As you know, all broadcasts go digital next Feb.

Can't help but smile, quote of the day

Paco was roaming around the back of the minivan. We were trying to get to school.

Finally, I picked him up and unceremoniously tossed him (lightly) into the car seat.

He was angry.

"Leave me ALONE!!!" he shouted.

"We do not talk to our Abba [father] that way," I replied.

He looked at me with his still angry face and said:

"PLEASE leave me alone."

I started cracking up. Couldn't help it. He got the joke as well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Roger Clemens....

would love to hear some thoughts on why the hell congress cares so much about steroids in baseball.

Have some ideas, but, as some would say, don't we have more pressing issues?

Bedrest Fatigue...

Those of you with kids can the morning, when you hear the 6am wake-up call, there's no better feeling than rolling over to your spouse and saying,

"you know, I got up with the kids yesterday."

and then, peacefully and with a clear conscience, going back to sleep.

But, when your spouse is on bedrest, you don't get any days off.

I'm not going to suggest that it's more difficult for me than the NFO, it's not. However, that doesn't change the fact that I am pretty tired of this.

I've done more laundry, dishes, cleaning up, carpools, in the past 3 weeks than in the previous 3 months. Ok, slight exaggeration, but the lack of a break in the grind is, like erosion, starting to wear me down.

It's like running a to keep going...only thing is, I don't know the mile marker.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Book: Chairman X

Could an Israeli infiltrate the PLO and become its chairman?

What would happen if he actually did it

When my friend, Rami Loya, wrote in response to a recent FOJ mailing that he had just published Chairman-X and he'd like me to review it, I was a bit surprised.

Rami's previous book was Incentive compensation strategies for the new millenium.

This one, a Middle East thriller, was a complete 180...

and it is a page turner.

The story is only plausible because it is so ridiculously far-fetched, but Rami did a great job on many, many fronts.

First off, he touches on so many aspects of modern Middle East history, the Israeli war of Independene, the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, the peace movement within Israel.

Next, he gives some "behind the scenes" explanations for geo-political events which you may have taken for granted.

The intricacies of the Israeli political scene, the obvious challenges that an Israeli would face in organizing terrorist attacks against his brethren, and a true, "NO WAY!!!" moment at the end kept me turning the pages. 

The byline says "suspenseful to the last word" and I've got to say, it's pretty accurate.

You know you are reading a great book when, as you come close to the end and you feel the pages thinning, your heart is beating faster, as you know the climax is near. 

If I had to be critical in any way, I'd say there were times when I felt the prose was a bit stiff and some of the dialogue a bit too cursory.

But, the strength of the plot and the energy kept me riveted. 

Rami-I'm impressed and I hope that the book sells a lot.

And here's a bonus...I'll send (lend, that is, since I have a signed one) my copy of the book to the first person who posts a comment on this post.

Battle of the Potomac

So, I took the team to the polls this morning so, as one of my favorite bloggers, Fred, says I could feel good about voting.
As you can see, Paco had to fight for his right to vote, but they each did their part in touching the screen to participate in the great American democracy experiment.
I do have to say, however, that I think it is ABSURD that NO photo ID whatsoever is required to vote in Maryland. Just asking for fraud.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review: I Didn't See It Coming...

Let's assume for a moment that corporations are like pyramids and, eventually, you need to move up or out.

At the bottom of the pyramid, where there is a large amount of people, those with greater talent will move up in rank.

Over time, however, the most talented people, in theory, remain and you are competing against those who are more naturally talented than you are.

At a certain point, it's not ONLY about your talent, but how you navigate the politics of the organization. How you understand the roles and motivations of those with whom you are dealing.

I Didn't See It Coming is a book about just that. It's a cold hard dose of reality that, you know, sometimes there are people who are out to eat your lunch and you need to protect yourself.  It's a rough side of business that we'd rather not think about, but the authors say, "ignore these at your own risk" and, by the way, "make sure you know what you're going to do if the day comes when your boss says, 'thanks for your service, now clean your desk."

I'm not arguing for paranoia, but I think the authors (including one former president of CBS radio) are on to something when they guide you through potential political/corporate minefields.

It'd be great if we "all just got along," but better to "hope for the best and prepare for the worst." 

I Didn't See It Coming is your "prepare for the worst" manual.

Thanks to Reed for the suggestion.

YouTube videos of the day..

why you won't want lemon with that water...


saw this guy on ESPN (here's the story). He's got Spina Bifida and has become an extreme wheelchair athlete. He performed the first backflip in a wheel chait.


some flexibility feats you've got to see


Movie: Water

Almost a year ago, I put Water in my queue based on Ginger Pinchot's recommendation.

A powerful movie about the plight of widows in traditional Indian/Hindu culture, set in 1938.

The NFO and I were engrossed in the story for 2 hours and definitely felt for the main characters. 

The cinematography was marvelous, the music was perfect.  Really liked it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

new kustanowitz baby

went to see jack and penina's new boy.
looking good, he is. As is she....

mazal tov

Posted by ShoZu

The Next Real Estate Mogul...

A shout out to my sister, Kira, profiled in Washington Times.

Updated: Thanks for catching the error loyal readers!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Truism of the day...

On Russ Robert's podcast:

Everyone wants growth, but nobody wants change.

which do you return?

mandi dropped off dinner tonight and, after telling me that i overanalyze things, said that:

the soft plastic on the left need not be returned, but the harder plastic on the right should be

so, there you have it

Posted by ShoZu

On Social Networking and Social Lubricants...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times..."The #1 reason why people go to events is to meet other people."

It's not about the (often boring) powerpoint presentation. It's about your ability as a host to create an environment that is a social lubricant and helps people meet each other.

This morning, after seeing his "tweet" on Twitter and clicking through to the event invite on Facebook, I joined a number of other "fans/friends of Jeff Pulver" at a networking breakfast.

Networking events run the gamut, but Jeff understands his role as well as anyone. He utilized his newly created Jeff Pulver "Real-Time Social Media Networking Kit".

It employs the concept of "tags" and "labels" to facilitate networking.

So, as I am walking around, I see someone named Jimmy Gardner. His label said "passionate technologist." As I often think of myself in these terms, I began the conversation.

Well, was I lucky!

Jimmy's got a little app at which, I think, has some pretty cool potential in terms of the way we save and share REALLY large files.  (Full disclosure: I haven't tested it out yet, so can't vouch for quality, but the concept made a TON of sense to me).

Once you have a conversation with someone, you write a "tag" (a term that describes the nature of the chat or something you associate with that person) on a small sticker and then place it on their "tag cloud."

So, after talking to Thomas Vander Wal, where I found out that he is recognized as the creator of the term "Folksonomy" in Wikipedia, I wrote "Wikipedia" and put it in his tag cloud.

And, lastly, you could, like in Facebook, write something on a person's "public wall." So, Eric Litman, managing director of WashingtonVC, who was looking very slick, IMHO, in his velvet sport jacket, got a "nice jacket!" post on his wall from me.

Just a great morning (including David Vyorst, the producer of "The First Basket" about the role of Jews in the beginnings of professional basketball. Here's the story and some video clips from YouTube)

And Joel Selzer of Ozmosis, trying to bring some much needed better/faster information to physicians and Gordon Peters of Gratis Internet, whose label said "monetizing Facebook" also got me intrigued.

(and a huge call out to Tamar Lustman who helped make my attendance possible)

Jeff's event was a great example of how a network facilitator, or as Seth might say "Community Manager" can create a great (dare I say 'remarkable') experience for the members.

Social Etiquette Question....

Since Gadi tells me that the blog is getting a bit too intense (see his comment here), I will change it up.

The NFO (Nameless/Faceless one) and I are just overwhelmed by the gracious offers of assistance we've received. So many people. Just tremendous.

So, here's an interesting one.

A few people have made dinner for us and brought the food over in Ziploc containers. So far, so good.

Question: what is the expectation about whether they should be

On the one hand, the cost of the containers can add up and you are using
your own inventory up. Is that part of the "cost" of the generosity? Does it lead to resentment if you don't get your containers back? In other words, is Ziploc more like a glass platter (I think most would expect that back) than an aluminum pan (most wouldn't)

On the other hand, you are trying to relieve the recipients of some layer
of hassle in their lives. Is it adding hassle to expect that they will return
the containers?

And, if the recipients are in a prolonged state of, let's call it "being
short-handed," how long would one reasonably expect to wait?

I honestly don't know what the right answer is, so I'm open to thoughts.

Am I overthinking?

Feel inadequate today?

Anonymous comments are approved for this post

We all have things that are going for us.

But, we all look around and, let's admit it, we cannot help but compare ourseleves to friends, peers, and colleagues.

When you do that, where do you feel that you are lacking, don't measure up?

Looks, money, job, family?

Go ahead and vent. Misery loves company :-)

I am emailing from my mobile device, sorry for any typos or brevity.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

and why the Dems should fear McCain

I watched Obama's speech last night and really wanted to be impressed and moved. I wasn't. Maybe expectations were so high following the NH speech. Don't know, but I couldn't help thinking...

-how many people are like blog reader/commenter Jdub who say "ideas are great, but where's the beef?"
-or like a liberal blogger I read who explains why he chose Hilary over Barack (hint: it's an interesting twist on Mac vs. PC)

The risk for the GOP is that people are just moved by the emotion of Obama and that carries him to victory b/c most people won't ask the tough questions of "ok, HOW are you going to do that?"

But the bigger problem for the Dems is that they have two candidates who are "big bets."

Barack-you are betting on the emotional appeal.
Hillary-you are betting on the experience/Clinton machine

There's a lot of risk in that proposition because of the way that you may turn off people of your own party for those same reasons.

But, in McCain, you have a relatively liberal Republican with a high potential of crossover appeal.

I thought it was only Rudy. I was wrong.

The Evangelicals can choose to not show up in Nov, but I think the deal for them is the same.

"Get 50% of what you want or 0%."

They may cut off their nose to spite their face, but with a potential 6 judges on the line, I doubt it.

What that means is that the liberal wing of the GOP is announcing strong, "we're the only chance we have in 2008." And what that means is that middle of the roaders may feel more comfortable with a McCain.

Whatever, it'll be interesting.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why the Republicans Should Fear Obama...

I tell people that the "holy grail" of marketing is to get your customers to advocate for you, for free.

Following up on Obama's speech in NH, I see this video made by one of the Black-Eyed Peas.

It's impressive when a candidate can inspire people in this way. I daresay that Hilary (even though I thought she did a nice job on Letterman last night) doesn't do this.

Super Tuesday...

If you're in a primary state, please vote.

Don't take it for granted.

Appreciate what we've got here. It's pretty amazing. Reminds me of my time in Berlin.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Power of Euphemism...

Was watching a cable news talkshow the other day and one guy made a remark that struck me...

"He's popular among the millions of people living in this country without the proper documentation."

Nice way, to say "illegally", eh?

I turned to the NFO and said,

"Perhaps I should say, 'he's someone who doesn't have the proper receipts from the Internal Revenue Service, as opposed to 'tax evader.'"

Immigration is obviously a complex issue and there aren't any easy answers. And the war of words is just a part of it. "without proper documentation" sounds more like an administrative error on the part of the authorities than "illegal" which turns the issue on the individual.

What about charging for immigration? (see here and here from 2 Nobel Prize Winners)

As for my less erudite commentary on the subject... 

  1. Punished for Obeying the Law...

Bed Rest Diet...

It may sound crass, but having the NFO in bed is actually good for my health.

Hear me out on this one...

First off, the scale proves it, but more than that...

  1. I'm constantly running the stairs
  2. I'm eating less. Since I'm in charge of dinner time, I feed the kids and keep myself busy, instead of eating dinner myself.
  3. Just doing a lot more stuff around the house...staying active.


Ok, crassness over.

She (and I) would much rather have her out of bed.

Don't mess with the...

Couldn't resist...

Movie: The Bourne Ultimatum

Let's see...action, gadgets, various European cities I've visited (and thus feel a nostalgia for),and an investment in the previous 2 films...

Uh, what did you expect?

Of course, I would like The Bourne Ultimatum.

The first one is always the best, but I thought this one did a respectable job of keeping up the Bourne tradition.

Super Bowl, Priorities, and Technology...

A few observations on life and my priorities.

With the bedrest situation, I elected to stay at home for the Big Game.

Ok, makes sense.

Thanks to DVR, I am able to help out as necessary (bedtime, kids getting out of bed, etc.) and see the whole game and all commercials.

It does feel a bit weird to not be in sync with the actual game (this game more so than any other, but hey...)

Now, the really weird part...

With the compressed schedule that comes from the bedrest, I am doing real/actual work during the SuperBowl. Feels a bit unkosher, but's gotta get done, right?

And, just to top it all off, I'm blogging during the game as well...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Training Camp...

I used to tell the NFO that it wasn't fair for me to get up in the middle of the night right after a new baby was born.

The way I figured it, she had been having difficulty sleeping for months and, as such, was physically ready for 3 am feedings, etc.

I, on the other hand, had not been affected at all and consequently, it was the equivalent of throwing me into the deep end.

Perhaps, with #3, the bedrest is God's way of whipping me into shape for the logistical and operational challenges of going from the proverbial "man to man" to "zone." Cuz, man, I was beat yesterday.

And with that, comes the need to effectively "leverage our network," so a huge thanks to the many of you who have offered assistance (don't worry, I WILL ask you for it) and to a few who have delivered big assists this week

  • Mosh Teitelbaum picked up my dry cleaning at 11pm (I had just left it on the front stoop)
  • Daphne Price hosted Tonka for a 4 hour playdate
  • My sisters took Paco and Tonka for a sleepover
  • Karen Wasserstein parachuted in with a great meal
  • David Price picked up some groceries
  • and our awesome neighbors, Ronna and Steve w/a whole slew of activities.

Again, I have no shame and will contact those who asked and a big shout out to the many who have called on their way to various places. I'm sure I'll forget someone, but Ahava, Panina, Keren, Tamar, Carol, Marci, Tamar & Jeremy (not us), and Gadi all offered and we appreciate it!!!

And good news (for everyone)...the NFO is breaking down on the whole "letting others do things for us."

We now have

  1. a list of items needed by store
  2. a list of nights available for prepared meals


Paco gets out of the tub last night and proceeds to pick his nose.

He pulls out a rather large one and holds it up.

"Yuck," he says.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Tough week...

I am beat.

I'll tell you this much. I really appreciate all of the work my wife normally does.

I've been up early, staying up way too late...normal stressors of life.

Sometimes, you know, you just feel totally overwhelmed? Even for only a few minutes?

It's not a great feeling.

Yes, there's growth therein, but still, you feel yourself pushed to the limit.

Ready to rest. Need it.

Marketing on One Foot...

There's a parable that a man goes to a famous rabbi and says "can you teach me the Torah on one foot?"

The wise sage replies, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah while the rest is commentary; go and learn it"

While not quite as brief, I would say this...if you want to understand the fundamental shift that has occurred in marketing over the past 10 years, read this post from Seth Godin.

Permission Marketing was one of the first marketing books I read and it's been my guiding light since.