Friday, April 26, 2013

Biased or Fair?

I read this article,  Montgomery County workers took $30,000 hit since recession,  in our local newspaper and I was so taken aback by its one-sided nature that I wrote a letter to the editor and the reporter.

What I wrote is below. Tell me if I'm wrong.

To the Editor,

I read Ms. Alexander's article, Montgomery County workers took $30,000 hit since recession, and the first thought that came to my mind was, "I wonder how much the County Employees Union paid her to write this?"

No one enjoys a pay cut. No one enjoys having to cut back or facing financial hardship. However, in your numerous stories of County employees who have taken a financial hit, nowhere did you mention the alternatives to the pay freeze.

  • Would it have been better to raise taxes on the citizens of the county so that the employees didn't have to make the sacrifices you covered?
  • Were there services that should have been cut instead?
  • What about layoffs? Maybe it would have been better to fire the worst performers in the workforce and allow everyone else to keep their salaries at the level they wished?
I don't know what the better answer is or would have been, but your article didn't even present that topic for consideration. As a person, I share their anxiety. As a taxpayer in the County, I am entitled to have that information and make the best decision.  Your article had an agenda. "It's not fair what has happened to the employees of MontCo and you should be upset about it."  Maybe yes, maybe no, but you didn't give us that option. You tried to force our hand.

In the private sector, if a company does poorly, employees sometimes sacrifice. Either in pay freezes, reductions, or lay-offs. It's unfortunate, but these are the trade-offs inherent in our economic system (or any economic system, for that matter).

By not painting the full picture of the trade-offs, you do a disservice to your readership, particularly one which is immediately impacted. I'm not reading about a company that didn't sell enough and had to lay people off, I am reading about a situation where I am being asked to either directly pay more in taxes so that others don't have to sacrifice, receive less services, or accept the fact that some fellow citizens may get laid off from their jobs.

Regardless of what is optimal, if you want an informed citizenry, you should focus on presenting the full story, not what appears to be an advertorial.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tough Mudder #2…in the books

Not sure exactly what it is about running 12 miles on a cold, windy day through the hills of West Virginia and stopping every so often to deal with one of 22 obstacles that I enjoy, but whatever it is, I like it.

Maybe the rush, the mental challenge that is required to run through electrified wires and crawl through mud (as well as the physical), but I gave it another whirl this past Sunday at Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic.

Here are the pics. Videos below.

This one was tougher than Tough Mudder #1 for me because

  1. it was about 1.5 miles longer
  2. whereas NJ is flat, West Virginia isn’t
  3. it was colder
  4. it was windier
  5. it had more water involved

Still, the team performed beautifully (and I liked the fact that this time I had a group of people to do it with).


Monday, April 22, 2013

Lack of Sleep. Lack of Perspective.

The last few weeks have been hectic, more so than usual. If I was lucky, I was getting 5 hours of sleep a night.

I know. Not enough, but such was the scenario.  As you know, you can only go so long at that rate before it catches up with many ways.

One, was particularly unfortunate.

One of my trusted service providers (whatever she says, I'll pretty much do) emailed me to discuss a situation. I called her. It was early in the morning. I was exhausted and trying to help the NFO get the kids out the door to school.

She started listing Option A, Option B, Option C...doing her job, giving me all the scenarios.  I replied, perhaps a bit too sternly, "Look, don't tell me the Options, you're the expert, just tell me what I should do. I trust you and I'll do it!"

Normally, that's a sign of confidence, but in this scenario, it rubbed her the wrong way and she laid into me. She, too, was exhausted, but for a different reason. Aside from the relentless demands of her job, her husband had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the last thing she needed was for me, anyone, to speak roughly to her.

I felt about 1 inch tall and, naturally, apologized profusely.  Had I not been so tired, I probably would have been more calm about it, but it as the proverbial wake-up call (pun not intended, it just came out that way) that, no matter how much you think you get done, you can't avoid the need for sleep.  

I felt terrible.  

That night, I went to bed early and got 8 hours.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gratitude to my Son

About 4 months ago, Paco came to me and told me he was in the middle of book #3 of the Harry Potter series.

I had only read the first one...about 14 years ago, but he seemed pretty excited about it.

He also proclaimed quite clearly, "I think I am going to beat you."

"In what contest?" I asked.

"I am going to finish all of the books before you do."

I realized that he would--he has a bit more time than I do--but I also sensed an opportunity.  I saw that he was very excited about Harry and Voldemort and that it provided a chance for me to bond with him.

So, I devoured the final 6 books over the course of 3 months, savoring the chance to discuss them with him as I did, but realizing that I really enjoyed the books in their own right.

Without his prodding, I never would have read them, so I am just grateful for his encouragement.  Looks like I have a lot to learn from the kids.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The taxi driver from Jeremy

Well, turns out he is really from Jérémie, a city in Haiti, but we had a fun moment in New York City the other day.  

I had been calling a few people and when I was done, I started chatting with the cabbie (as is my custom).  I asked where he was from and he said "Haiti."

"Port au Prince?" I asked, trying to sound smart.

"No, from Jeremy."

"Yes. And when I heard your name, I thought it was funny."

After I chided him (playfully) for not saying something sooner, I shot this video.  Now, I have a travel destination (since I've already been to Epstein!).

Monday, April 08, 2013

Running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Washington is definitely one of America's most beautiful cities and on Sunday morning, April 7th, I was reminded of that.

I ran in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler which began at the Washington Monument, over Memorial Bridge to Arlington, past the Lincoln Memorial, Kennedy Center, MLK memorial, Jefferson Memorial and all along the Potomac River and Tidal Basin.  

It was a glorious day and I was shooting for a time of 90 minutes. Inspired by the weather, the crowds, and adrenaline, I managed to complete the course in 1 hour 24 minutes, so I was thrilled. I was even more excited that I ran the 2nd 5 miles at a faster rate than the first 5. (For details, see JEREMY EPSTEIN Results:)

All of those mornings running in the freezing weather had paid off. It's great when hard work does that.

There's something special about races (and I don't do that many), but I love the camraderie of the runners and I love the random kindness of the audience.

People will read your running bib and yell "Way to go, Jeremy!" and it's fun. The signs are great too, such as "Hey Random Stranger, I'm proud of you!"  and the folks who were (unofficially) handing out Oreos and Beer. 

A big thanks goes out to my friend, Dr. David Taragin (some ppl think he is Will Farrell's doppelganger) for the VIP parking and access to the medical tent for safekeeping of my belongings.

It's a great event, a great way to spend a Sunday morning, and a great way to appreciate the beauty of the Nation's Capital

Friday, April 05, 2013

A Great Golf Story

I am not a particularly big fan of golf. I don’t play it and find it boring to watch.

Yet, somehow, I was drawn into reading a phenomenal book called The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever and I couldn’t put it down.

It describes a little known event involving 4 of the game’s greatest players and how they fought it for the pure sport of it.

Written by the same author who wrote Greatest Game Ever Played, the story is riveting and raised my appreciation of the sport about 100-fold.

When I lived in Europe, I fell in love with soccer (er, football) and realized that just because I didn’t understand a sport didn’t mean there wasn’t something beautiful about it.

What this book showed me was how beautiful golf is.

And the storytelling is world-class.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Devoted Parent Example...Non-Parents should avoid reading

On the way back from Chicago following Passover, Nadia got car sick. Unfortunate. Smelly. Messy.

A total of 3 times.

The first one was all over her. We stopped, cleaned her up, and proceeded.

The 2nd time she managed to get it into a plastic bag. Well done!

The 3rd time (poor girl), she knew it was coming and tried to stop it by putting her hand in front of her mouth.  Because she had spaces in between her fingers, this had the effect of creating a greater force on the projectiles which did get past her.

She was sitting right behind me.

Travelling at 80 mph on the Interstate, all I could do was stay focused on the road as the bits and pieces of vomit landed on the back of my head and neck.

Got a wipe, cleaned it off, and moved on.