Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
From a political perspective, I think my brother summed it up well.
McCain knows not to bring a knife to a gun fightOr, as I said
Think of it like a poker game. Last night Obama's speech was a big raise. He pushed a lot into the pot.She probably has some skeletons in her closet and she's certainly vulnerable on the foreign policy (heartbeat away from the presidency) angle, but other than that, she certainly appears very solid.
Today McCain said, 'I see your raise. and I'm 'all in.'
I am impressed.
It's going to be very interesting.
John Irving is the author of the book on which the movie was based and thanks to the power of Netflix, I figured, transactional costs for giving it a try were pretty low.
I am glad I did. A very interesting commentary on life in the '50s forward, particularly for women.
But, more than that, the dramatic and ironic twists in the development of the plot kept me involved. It did take a bit longer than I would have liked to materialize, but I suppose it all made sense in the end.
There were a few plot pieces that I expected to be foreshadowing of some calamitous event, but in hindsight, served a different purpose ('undertow' and 'red pickup truck.")
Nevertheless, seeing a much younger Robin Williams and Glenn Close (plus John Lithgow as an early stage transsexual) was fun in and of itself.
Definitely a movie worth watching if you consider yourself a pseudo-intellectual, as I do! ;-)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I thought it was a good speech, personally I preferred his Boston speech, but that was a different era. Regardless, the scale, the scene (outside, NFL stadium, etc.) was massive. So, it added to the sense of history.
Conventions (and I’ve been to one of each) are really just religious revivals, so those who believe, now feel impassioned even more.
Those who don’t, don’t.
I guess the question, as usual, comes down to the independents. Were they swayed?
67 days to election. Didn’t realize it was that close.
Fireworks were reminiscent of Beijing opening ceremonies.
Was using Twitter and watching my friends’ twitter streams during Obama’s speech. One of the most fun times I’ve had. Felt like I was part of a community activity.
Here is part of the stream…
Of course, I wasn’t the only one, which led to this message.
With the NFO away at dance camp, a mini "perfect storm" of activity came down on Wed. morning.
The kids are off from school until next week.
We had Jorge, from Bolivia, fixing the lights (those that had been the cause of the Fire Dept. visit.)
Lorena, repping Guatemala, had moved her usual cleaning day to come in and tidy up the house (since Jorge's work was creating a bit larger mess than usual) and prep for our esteemed weekend guests.
Lastly, our stalwart Amharic speaking (Ethiopia native) Nanny is playing zone on the 3 kids.
This is the FOJ Domestic Assistance Olympic Team, all imports as well.
Anyway, after coordinating the activities (they all arrived at 8.30am), and getting the kids settled, I turned to 2 of them and asked:
"Are you guys working for free today?"
They looked at me with a perplexed look, sensing the humor in my voice.
Jorge said: "I wish we could."
"I figured," I replied. "So, if it is ok with you, I am going to go down to the mancave and try to figure out how to pay for all of you!"
Seriously, it reminded me of the other "house full of immigrants" days (part 1 and 2) and gave me one of those perspective enhancing moments to appreciate our country.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Anyway, I am playing zone 1 on 3 (yes, I have imported a lot of assistants, but I'm still on solo point).
So, today's post is this:
Pick one of the two discussions that are currently raging on this blog and add your comment to it.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I did a double take when I saw the last names of the players "Geor" and "Gia."
"What are the odds?" I thought. "That's just not possible."
A few searches of Google and I had my answer.
Apparently, the Georgian Olympic Committee had decided to invest in beach volleyball and had essentially hired 2 pairs of Brazilians (one men and one women) to represent their country in the Olympics. The two guys had changed their last names accordingly.
That left me a bit puzzled.
Aren't the Olympics supposed to give each country a chance for its own people/culture, etc. to demonstrate its athletic prowess? Isn't the sports field suppose to replace the battlefield?
Are the Brazilians, in this case, nothing more than modern day Hessians?
So, what's happening here?
If Georgia can't produce beach volleyball players and has to import them, what purpose does the Olympics serve?
I suppose it is an opportunity for a country to coalesce around something. I mean, it's not like all of the Yankees are native New Yorkers, right?
So having a few people who agree to wear your flag and bring attention to your country (even if they aren't from there/born there/live there) may not be such a bad thing.
Besides, it's a win-win. The Brazilians couldn't make their own country's team, so this is right in line with the increased professionalism of the games.
The more I think about it, the more examples of it happening anyway, the more I am comfortable with it.
If Georgians (and granted they are in a unique situation these days) FEEL more close-knit because 2 brazilians are wearing a Georgian flag and competing in a medal game (which otherwise would not be the case), then maybe the investment in hiring these freelancers is worth it.
Gives me a new business idea www.olympianfreelancer.com You know, match up athletes willing to sell their talents with countries that need it.
Not sure it is exactly the same, but the world-record holder in the Women's 1500m has a similar situation (though her story of persecution is admittedly different)
Monday, August 25, 2008
Now, Obama supporters on the other hand...well, it feels like there's a sense of inevitability. He's due. He's the one. Etc.
So, I just wonder, what happens if he loses?
Does the thought even enter the minds of his supporters?
And, if he does...
My concern is that the reaction will not be:
"I guess America prefers McCain and his politics."
And instead it will be something like:
"America is [fill in the blank]
- racist and not ready for a black man to be President
- not willing to vote in its own self-interests
- gullible to Republican PR chicanery"
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Bela (who for those of you who don't know gained fame as coach of Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton) has shown his disappointment with the judging of the gymnastics throughout the Olympics.
With Shawn's victory (and the performance of Nastia Liukin), however, he said that "it was once again shown to the world that American gymnastics is the best there is."
That may be true, but while he was talking and then Shawn's coach, who was born in China, something dawned on me.
The gymnasts were all born in the US, but their coaches are all imports.
Karolyi (and his wife, Marta, who coaches the US team) came from Romania.
Chow is a native of China.
Valery Liukin (Nastia's father and coach) is from Russia.
America may be the home of great gymnasts, but great coaches are born elsewhere.
Hmmmm...I wonder if the protectionists will say that we should ban the import of Gymnastics coaches so we can keep the domestic market alive?
Friday, August 22, 2008
I took her for a walk and made a deposit at the bank ATM (it was working this time).
I ran into a friend going into CVS, she held up a roll of film saying "I have to get this developed."
I tried to take a picture, but she demured, so I put out a note on Twitter:
to which a friend replies:
but that was only part of the story.
I noticed while I was talking about the film that the Gianni was in a really great mood, so, as I walked home, I tickled her, smiled, made faces, and really made an effort to engage her.
Towards the end of the walk, Yoni calls my cell.
"I just saw one of the cutest sights of my day driving by you and your baby."His observation validated a moment in which I had been totally immersed. For that time, I wasn't aware of my surroundings, wasn't thinking about anything else, wasn't multi-tasking. Just appreciating the beauty of my 6 month old little girl.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Watching May-Treanor and Walsh repeat as gold medalists was a great Olympic moment. Hard-fought match against worthy opponents, but I thought the real moment happened afterwards.
The NBC reporter basically asked "so, what are you going to do next?"
Neither of them said "I am going to Disneyland."
They both said, "I want to have a baby and start a family."
Call me a bit dramatic, but for me this was a watershed moment in the history of feminism. I am far from a student of the movement, but for years, my impression was that women were expected to forgo family to focus on career and that you would never raise the personal issue of family within a career context.
Or, as my friend Rachel remarked, 'staying home with your kids was looked down upon."
I think May-Treanor and Walsh are saying, "not anymore."
Like stuffing the ball of an opponents spike, they are saying, "we've done our career thing and now, we want to do our family thing, and that's more than ok!"
They love Volleyball and will come back to it, but for now, it's not their focus.
In other words, it is ok (at least in their mind) to step away from their careers. You can have it all, but since you can't do it all (at the same time), it makes sense to do things in more manageable chunks.
I think this is a great moment for women who wonder "can I afford to take the time off?"
From a skills perspective, it may take May/Walsh more time to get back into Volleyball shape, but from a societal perspective (and Dara Torres showed this as well) more and more people are going to say
"She took time off from her career to focus on her family!!"
Not, 'she took time off from her career to focus on her family :-( '
Congratulations to Kerry and Misti.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Paco turned to me the other night and said, “I’m three [it was his bday last week], what is your number?”
Figuring he meant age, I told him.
“When I am your number, what will be your number?”
In other words, when I am your age, how old will you be then?
“Well, when you are 35, I suppose I will be 67.”
“And when I’m 67?”
On and on it went, until I was 162.
It wasn’t so much the idea that at some point before 162, I would probably die, it was thinking about what Paco and the others might look like when they become 35 or 50.
At that moment, I thought of a few friends, but particularly Ned Stutman, a dear friend of ours who died a few years ago from cancer.
He never saw his oldest child, my good friend Shira, reach the age of 35.
It reminded me of the lack of guarantees in this world, this life.
I think the fear of death, for me at least, isn’t about the fear of the end of my life, it’s in not getting to see the end of the story of my life, which will be written my kids and their descendants.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Went up to Albany to visit with various members of the in-law family, including those who live in Israel.
We got there around 7pm on Friday evening. At 9, we were eating dinner and hanging out.
My 4 year old nephew turned to me and said, “Uncle Jeremy, last time I saw you you were really funny, why aren’t you funny now?'”
We cracked up.
“I didn’t know the pressure was on. Let me see what I can do.”
By the end of the next day, I was redeemed.
“How am I doing? Am I funny?”
“Yes! You got your funny back!!”
Monday, August 18, 2008
Most wedding websites are dull and boring. Let's face it.
What's more, think the eco-movement hasn't hit mainstream? Well, take a look at their innovative approach to reducing waste in the registry/gift-giving process.
Feel free to sign their guestbook and wish them Mazal Tov.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
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Had lunch with an old friend, Jon Landy, a while back and we got to talking about our kids.
"You know, it's not so much the formal education that I think about with them, it's the little things. From the 'stop and smell the roses' to how to throw a baseball."
How to impart your accumulated wisdom into your children is a big question. Which is why, the other day, I was very excited to see how Paco and Tonka had picked up some of them.
The NFO had a late night, so I got up with all 3 of them. I was feeling pretty sore and muscles were tight, but in thinking about my day, I couldn't see when I'd have some time to do some yoga.
So, since my kids tend to take their time eating breakfast, I said, "what if I take Gianni downstairs and do yoga while you guys are eating breakfast?"
Then, Paco said, "what if we eat at the table in the basement with you?"
And Tonka added, "and if we finish breakfast before you finish yoga, we'll just play nicely together!"
Now, longtime readers of this blog know that the kids can only eat in the dining room or kitchen unless we are watching football, in which case they can eat in the den...
But, it seemed like a good idea, so they had yogurt and cereal while I did yoga in the basement.
It showed me that they could think creatively, collaborate to a win-win scenario, and thought in terms of the Power of the "And."
The very next day, the kids had executed brilliantly in terms of getting ready. We had 30 minutes before we had to leave, so they proposed "can we go out and ride our bikes?"
I let them, which set the stage for the next few mornings of "deferred gratification" education.
I don't have an answer for Jon of how you actually go about planning for these lessons, but I suppose that, as the moments come up, it is our job as parents to extract the larger point from the small example.
Friday, August 15, 2008
A hilarious video. So true...
It goes through their recruitment, indoctrination, and training and tells a fascinating story about the personal lives of some of these individuals. The challenges that they face, the relationship that they have.
The director said he wanted to show that they were "regular" people with normal issues. I think he did this, in the sense that they had wives, families, and angst. No question about that.
But I don't think he was morally equivocating. He showed a violent side of Islam that will rest at nothing to destroy America and the West. I walked away saddened by the existence of this threat and still shocked that there are those who, in my estimation, minimize its severity.
Much like in Munich, I did not feel that the "humanization" of the terrorists by the telling of "their story" made me sympathetic or empathetic to their cause. There may be some who have that reaction, but not many.
If you are looking to get a better understanding of radical Islam, this is a good movie to watch. Plus, as an alum of the German university system, it accurately represented elements of German student life, to which I could relate.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Enjoy Mark Cuban's post (he's got a bit more $ than I) on the futility of trying to police illegal downloads. As usual, well written.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Gotta love the fierceness (is that a word? Oh yeah, ferocity) with which the community has pushed back on the issue of "Thank You Note Bankruptcy."
First, they come after me online
Now, they are coming after me offline.
Jamie sent me this note, 2 weeks post-partem.
That is hard core.
All I'll say is "Jamie, you are still only on number 1!"
Nevertheless, I do appreciate the intensity of the gesture! ;-)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
You will often find MBA's who talk about an 'entrepreneurial mindset.'
This is great and I'm all for more people who take calculated risks.
But, there's one critical element to the entrepreneurial experience that I forgot during my time at MSFT. I've seen (and heard from others) that it is often neglected by corporate employees in dealing with entrepreneurs.
The recognition that TIME is an entrepreneur's most valuable asset.
My friend and blogging maestro, Jimmy, calls this the "No B.S. Disclaimer."
Just promise me that you won't give me any B.S.If you don't want to work with an entrepreneur (buy his/her product or service), that's fine, but the absolute best thing you can do is to say No and say it quickly.
It's easy to keep pushing people off and avoid the confrontation of saying No, but if you really respect entrepreneurs, if you have really no intention of buying and are just avoiding the conflict, just say so. That's the ultimate sign of respect.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Better Place is a noble effort to make electric cars. They are using Israel and Denmark as proving grounds.
It's fascinating and possible. Check it out. This is going to be big, IMHO.
Better Place is a noble effort to make electric cars. They are using Israel and Denmark as proving grounds.
It's fascinating and possible. Check it out. This is going to be big, IMHO.
That is the case with Adaptation.
I suppose between the kids, NFO, and dedication to career, I missed it.
Which is both a shame and a relief. Had I missed it entirely, it would have been a shame, because as I watched this film, I said, "THIS Is what movies are supposed to be. A story that envelops you, transports you, brings you in."
A relief, because I did see it and it is one of the best films I've seen in a long time.
Super simple plot, a writer is struggling to write a screenplay for the movie you are watching.
I didn't. Well, I did, but figuring out how to say it took a while. Or better this: You are watching a movie about a writer struggling to write the screenplay for the movie you are watching.
And, the story that he is struggling (Nick Cage playing TWO roles, btw) is just a great one. It's got intrigue, drama, great acting (Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper) and a nice subtext of NYC high society vs. 'real people' as well.
Great, just great. If you haven't seen it, please do.
Friday, August 08, 2008
There are 7 traditional species of Israel, so tomorrow's cholent has the following ingredients. We'll see how it goes
- Rib steak (which I seared beforehand)
- grilled onions
- olive oil
- pomegranate juice
- bread crumbs (wheat)
- mayonnaise (for texture)
- sauteed garlic cloves
- a few apricots
- pinch of ginger
- 2 sweet potatoes
Updated: ok, it was neither great, but not a disaster. It smelled great, but the taste lacked punch or "kick." There's potential, but needs works
Baseball is not my favorite sport (bonus points if you guess what is), but from a 'hang out' perspective, there are few better than a lazy summer evening (not too humid), in a beautiful setting only 2 blocks from the Metro, with some good friends and highly overpriced beer.
The Nats, to no one's suprise, dropped the game to the Phillies, but I didn't really care.
Felt like a kid again, enjoyed seeing "Take me out to the ballgame" and visiting with Conrad and Jesse.
I grew up an Orioles' fan and I think that is where my allegiance lies, but between driving 50 minutes, parking and having to come back and sitting in an air conditioned Metro car w/no parking hassle, not much of a contest.
PS (this guy on 2nd base by himself got caught overruning the basepath and essentially cost the Nats the game).
Don’t know about you, but I remember 8/8/88 because the Washington Post made a big deal about it. And there was a picture or two of kids who were born that day.
Happy 20th birthday
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The biggest enemy of oil rigs are icebergs. In a confrontation between the two, the iceberg is going to win.
So, oil rigs have an elaborate anti-iceberg defense mechanism that involves radars and tugboats. Once they detect an iceberg coming, they send out a tugboat interceptor, which has three options.
One is to try and blow the iceberg to smithereens.
The other two (literally lassoing the iceberg or throwing the engines in reverse in front of the iceberg to create wake) are designed to alter the course of the iceberg by a miniscule amount.
However, at a distance of 300 miles, a deviation of a few degrees or so will make the iceberg miss the rig by 200 miles or something ridiculous like that (the mathematicians out there can give you the exact numbers, but you get the idea.)
So, what’s the point?
Well, the sooner you see the need for change and the sooner you make the change, the easier it is going to be. It’s easier to change the course of an iceberg by 1 degree than 30 degrees, which is what you’d need to do as it gets closer to you.
Of course, my sister accuses me of having complex theories for simple ideas. This is also known as "ounce of prevention, pound of cure," but I like the visuals here better.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
It is even more unbelievable now.
I so married way above myself, not even funny.
There are some folks in my neighborhood that take Cholent very seriously.
There’s a Cholent committee at the synagogue.
So, when the NFO told me to “take this piece of meat and make a cholent,” like any good marketer, I decided to change the playing field.
Traditionally, the cholent is made with foods common to Eastern Europe; meat, potatoes, barley, etc.
Now, maybe I’ve been watching too much Top Chef, but I decided on a different route.
So, the shtetl component had:
- meat (breast deckel, it was called)
- sweet potatoes
and then I went Mediterranean
- marinara sauce
- garlic (cloves and powder)
- onions (sauteed first, by the way)
- balsamic vinegar
- red cooking wine
- campari tomatoes
- portobello mushrooms
I thought it was pretty good, but one guest said it was “one of the best cholents” she’d ever had.
The chairman of the cholent committee came over and tasted it (upon my request for authentication) and he said that the flavor was great, but it needed a bit more salt and probably a fattier piece of meat.
Anyway, I had fun and wanted to document.
Next up: Tropical Shtetl Fusion…
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.
Last night, I was thinking "what would it have been like for me during my 3 years in Europe and Asia if the Internet had been then what it is now?"
I was concerned that "travellers" (which I differentiate from tourists) would go to a place, use their phone or a cybercafe and never really interact w/the locals.
Shows what I know. The spirit of meeting other folks is alive and well.
Well, to some extent, we have the answer. And by the way, this proves once again that you can't "make something viral." It is or it isn't because of what it offers.
If you think it is the entrepreneur and private industry, read on. If not, this post may not be for you.
I may be too Ayn Rand in my outlook, but I've got to say, I'm pretty frustrated with the way that our system seems to be set up to make it difficult for the entrepreneur and small business owner.
I knew it was tough, but I didn't realize how (not sure if unfair is the right word) many barriers there are.
First, I blogged about Obama and his proposed self-employment tax. Frankly, there shouldn't even be a tax on self-employment. There should be a tax credit for it. How else do you stimulate it?
Now, I'm trying to get us off the ridiculously expensive COBRA family healthcare option and figure out a cost-effective way to get health insurance for the family.
Easy? Far from it.
Yes, it's easier than it was (I haven't purchased, but have worked through ehealthinsurance.com), but it seems like entrepreneurs are a group of people we want to keep healthy and, more importantly, make it as easy for them to go out and create wealth for others and for the country.
Anyway, just a bit demoralized at seeing, now that I am in the weeds, that the government doesn't seem to make it as easy as I would like for people to get their business off the ground.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Clearly the author has a bone to pick with his former colleagues on Wall St. and he obviously irritated some of them along the way with what is clearly a decent sized ego, but then again, sometimes when you're right, you're right.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets is how we delude ourselves into thinking we're good or that we understand situations more than we actually do.
He dives deep into statistics and philosophy (but in an understandable way) to educate you on how much luck actually plays into our daily lives...and how we should not delude ourselves into thinking that there are no "black swans."
I found the book very enjoyable and it has definitely already made its way into my mental vernacular.
I think it'll make you a smarter investor and potentially a more astute judge of context and situations. Never a bad thing.
And a big call out to my future brother-in-law, Eitan, for lending it to me. Way to get in with the family! ;-)
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
There are some days when I really wonder if the two are incompatible.
I heard the news on the other night that Congress had passed a $3.9b package to help offset real estate foreclosures and possibly bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This comes on the heels a few months ago of the bailout of Bear Stearns.
So, I guess the message is:
- if you are a large corporation with a lot of political allies, you can take big risks, fail and then the Gov’t will provide you a parachute OR
- you can be part of a mass of people who overextend themselves, fail, threaten to vote a representative out of office and the gov’t will bail you out as well
Perhaps I’m being cynical here and, perhaps it is Congress’ fault in the first place that both1 and 2 were happening (see Thomas Sowell’s article on Bankrupt Exploiters), but it seems to me that you want to let these companies fail. You want the market to correct itself naturally.
I may believe too much in Creative Destruction, but in a vote of something like 72-13 (where were the others?) only a few senators had the foresight to say, “we’re further leveraging our grandchildren’s money to pay for this…and it’s not a good investment.”
At first, I was frustrated. Then, I realized I’m an idiot. It’s an election year. This short-term pacification is what leads to re-election.
Give the lollipop to the 2 year old now to make him stop crying. Who cares if he is a spoiled brat later?
By then, it’s somebody else’s problem?
Am I making too much of this?