Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 40: Lifeguards

We had the opportunity to hit Manhattan Beach the other day and the kids loved it.  The waves were high and the surfers were out.

At one point, a lifeguard walked over to me and asked if those were my kids. He said that he was worried that a surfer might lose his board and it  might hit one of them because of how close they were.

Though the kids were unhappy with the request that they get a little closer to shore, I was grateful for the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep others out of danger.  A truly selfless act.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 39: the Museum of Tolerance and Renee Firestone

We visited the Museum of Tolerance in LA yesterday. It was extremely well done with a powerful Anne Frank exhibit and a broad message of tolerance (I think the naming is very smart as well).
We were privileged to hear Ms. Renee Firestone, a 94 year old Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz share her personal story. It was captivating and so important.
I worry about the future when the survivors are no longer around and the deniers feel emboldened and empowered.
Which is why I am particularly grateful that this Museum exists and works feverishly to ensure not just that a Jewish Holocaust will never happen again but to take the horrible lessons from it and help prevent genocide and human rights abuses against everyone and anyone in the future and, at the same time, working to protect the legacy and memory of those victims and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

I am grateful for the Museum of Tolerance and the immense courage and strength of survivors like Ms. Firestone, both for having made it through the Holocaust, but also because of her willingness and conviction to tell the story to future generations.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 38: Ancient Artists

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to visit the Getty Villa in Malibu. (We also hit Manhattan Beach and the amusements at the Santa Monica Pier).

I hadn't really had a deep appreciation of Greek and Roman antiquities despite high school classes (thank you, Mrs. Boyar) and some in college.

However, yesterday, as we strolled the beautiful grounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I found myself with a newly discovered sense of appreciation for their enormous efforts. The sculpture work and the mosaic work take tremendous amounts of effort and skill.

I was thinking about the artists who created these magnificent works--long dead, of course--and the gift that they have given us thousands of years later to experience their handiwork and their craft.

I am grateful that there are people who develop their skills to create something of beauty and who want it to outlive them as their contribution to the human race and civilization. It's more than art, of course, as this can happen in many walks of life, but I was thankful for these artists in this case.

They spent a lifetime refining their skills and there is still a return on their investment, even if they personally don't realize it. I wonder though, perhaps that was their motivation?

In any event, I am grateful for the artists of previous centuries.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Gratitude Journal-Day 37: The Entertainment Industry

Today, I am grateful for the men and women who work to keep us entertained through television and movies.  

We took a tour of the Warner Brothers studio and saw how much of what we love is made.  It's quite the production and I am appreciative of how hard they work to make it all happen

Plus, I was glad to help Batman when he called and pick up an Oscar for my role as "Dad" in the mini-series "Team Finland Goes to LA"

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 36: Pacific Sunsets

Team Finland is on the West Coast this week doing a SoCal tour. Yesterday, after visiting the Walk of Fame, we caught a beautiful sunset in Long Beach.

Today, I am grateful for gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 35: nightguards for my teeth

One of my health challenges is teeth related. Aside from the periodontal issues I've faced, I also grind my teeth (or so I'm told).

That's why I wear not 1, but two, nightguards. They aren't the most comfortable, but I am used to them and I am grateful to my dentist who helped fit me for them, giving me a few more years to keep my own teeth.

It may seem like a small thing-and it is- but that's the point of this exercise, isn't it?

So, today, I am grateful for dental nightguards.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 34- Dave Sloan and Compassionate Friends

As many people know, I've become a big fan of blockchain and Bitcoin in the past 2 years. I haven't been quiet about my excitement for it either.

This week, Bitcoin took a big hit, so my confidence on Tuesday/Wednesday was definitely shaken a bit.

This morning, I was talking to Dave Sloan who said to me, "you know, I was thinking about you this week" and he went on to more accurately describe how I was feeling than even I realized myself. 

The self-doubt, the questions from all the people who looked to me for guidance. It was grueling and Dave perfectly summed it up.

It felt really nice to be understood and it made me appreciative of having a friend who could put himself in my place so well.

And it inspired me as well.

It inspired me to work harder to be the kind of friend who thinks about his friends and understands what they must be feeling so that it informs the way I behave.

Today, I am grateful for compassionate friends like Dave Sloan.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 33- UN Watch

The job of UN Watch is really, really difficult. They just have to let everyone know when the UN is full of crap.

What makes it particularly difficult is that that the UN is full of crap pretty much all the time. Personally, I think I'm ready to pull the plug on the experiment. Save the money, auction off the real estate, and get the diplomats out of NYC.

It's a sham organization.

This all came up because of the recent vote against US for the move of the embassy to Jerusalem.

This isn't about the move. It's about the ridiculousness of the UN which Jake Tapper eloquently points out on CNN.

I'm grateful that we have people and organizations like UN Watch which help keep a small bit of sanity in the world.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 32- WiFi

It's so commonplace now that we are ticked off when it doesn't work on airplanes.

But, for some reason, yesterday I was telling the story of the first time I ever set up a home wi-fi network and it was one of the greatest feelings. Right up there with my kids being born.

No, that's a bit excessive. It was better than when my kids were born ;-)

Just kidding, NFO.

But seriously, we have a technology that allows us to be connected and work from pretty much anywhere. Without wi-fi, I wouldn't be able to work from home for the past 8.5 years. 

I am grateful for Wi-Fi today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 31: Amtrak

I know it has been a really, really tough week for Amtrak and my heart breaks for the victims in Seattle.  It's so sad.

Still, I am grateful for the existence of Amtrak as it allowed me to go up/back to NYC for the day in relative comfort and speed. I've noticed that, at least at BWI, the bathrooms have gotten cleaner as well. The Acela train is actually quite pleasurable. The conductors are friendly and the wi-fi is solid (not so much on the Regional train).

I know Amtrak takes a lot of abuse and criticism even on weeks when there aren't horrific tragedies and there are always areas for improvement, but a service like it has made a positive impact on my life and I am grateful for what they do.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Gratitude Journal: Day 30- Emart

For 4.5 years at Sprinklr, my steadfast travel companion was Eric Marterella. We shared many train rides and hotel rooms.  Plus, if you ask nicely, he'll tell you what Marriott thinks about the two of us.

Over time, however, as jobs change, etc., you find that the people with whom you have day-to-day contact are no longer day-to-day contacts.  Relationships change.

So, it was quite fortuitous that Emart (as he is known) was taking the train from DC to NYC at the exact same time I had planned, so we got to hang out and catch up on some great times.

Today, I am grateful for friends who are willing to run 8 miles through Central Park together in 10 degree January weather.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 29- Exciting football games

Like many people who grew up watching football, I've been struggling with my relationship with the sport since all of the news about CTE has come out and since I saw the movie "Concussion."

It's tough to stomach at times.

There are athletes who say "look, we know the deal and we're willing to make it because it changes the future for our family."

Of course, there are plenty of people who take the risk, but don't get the NFL paycheck reward.

Still, when you see the last 4 minutes of a football game that was as exciting and drama-filled as Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game, you are reminded of why you love sports and why you love the game.

So, today, I am grateful for last minute, unscripted, and unpredictable sports finishes.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 28: QuinnJim who saved my furnace

I came back home on Sunday morning to a freezing cold house. Something wasn't working, after doing a bit of troubleshooting (and recalling that the issue had happened before), I opened up the furnace.

I saw the trouble light blinking, like morse code and I knew it meant something.

Thanks to QuinnJim's video, I was able to figure out what the issue was (fuse blown), go to Home Depot, get the part for $3, and fix it, thus saving the day and being the hero in the eyes of my family!

More importantly than that :-), I was able to save the hassle and money of getting someone else to do it and get back to doing all of the other things I needed to do that day.

I'm grateful for YouTube and for people like QuinnJim who share their expertise so willingly and graciously so that guys like I am able to get on our with our lives.

Thanks, Quinn Jim!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 27- Gratitude Journals

It was 4 weeks ago in the Wall St. Journal that the NFO saw an article about the value of "Gratitude Journals" and which served as the core motivation/catalyst for me beginning this project.

While I can't say it's been a epiphany-like experience, it has been a gradual erosion of my worldview (though with much more to go) and a gradual emergence of a new one. 

So, today, I am grateful for the Wall St. Journal and for the article on Gratitude Journals that helped inspire me to be more grateful.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 26: Metamucil

Following up on yesterday's suggestion from Ginger that we should focus on the smallest of things, I hereby offer my gratitude for the existence of Metamucil.

Now, I have a long and well-documented history with Metamucil, but I would be remiss if I didn't express my appreciation for this fantastic product and service as part of this effort.

If you have used it, you know what I am talking about!

If you haven't, well, you're missing out.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 25: Ginger Pinchot and Friends

The amount of support I have received from friends for this gratitude journal has been really inspiring. One of the most vocal and sincere advocates has been Ginger Pinchot.

First off, how can you not love someone named Ginger, right? ;-)

But more than that, this is a woman who oozes gratitude and authenticity.

Yesterday, I saw her at the middle school basketball game and she told me how much she enjoyed my journal. It led to a great conversation and she shared some advice about how to cultivate it more.

"Focus on the smallest things."

If you look at the really, really small things, you can't help but feel wonder at the fact that they are there and they enrich your life.  So, it could be the stool that my legs are resting on now or the keyboard I am using to type or the fact that I just pushed a button and the screen became brighter.

So, today, I am grateful for all of the friends who are supporting me in this effort to cultivate gratitude and a special shout out to loyal blog reader, Ginger Pinchot!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 24- Waze

"Trust in Waze," that's what we say.

Anyone in the DC area who knows what it is like to drive from Virginia to Maryland in rush hour has felt the pain.

Waze to the rescue again. I am grateful for Waze.

Or, more appropriately, I suppose...I am grateful for crowd-sourced data that leverages route optimization algorithms in real-time

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 23: Kids' Self-Sufficiency

As a parent, one of my goals is to help raise kids who can do things on their own.

We recently bought a nightstand for Paco and the NFO asked me to put it together.  Now, in fairness, she did ask me to put it together, but what I chose to hear was "make sure it gets put together." But that is a topic for a different day.

You know what I really heard? Learning opportunity!

So, I tasked Tikkanen and Jokinen with getting the job done, figuring they were at the stage where they could do it.

And they did (I only got involved at 2 small points for some final Quality Assurance work). 

It was a great feeling to see them do it and I felt very grateful to the NFO (aka my wife) and my kids for the fact that we had all reached this milestone.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 22: Epi Pens

I have a pretty severe allergy to sesame seeds (not oil) and tree nuts ( but not almonds, pistachios, pine nuts or peanuts).

Last night, we went out to dinner at a local Israeli place.

Anyone who has been to Israel knows that they basically fly planes over the entire country and consistently air drop sesame seeds on pretty much anything you can imagine. Pretzels, dates, etc. I think they make you walk through a pile of sesame seeds after you get your passport stamped when you enter the country.

And it's insidious because, for example, take something like hummus. Ground up chick peas, right?

Yes, but added in Tahina and boom...death trap.

As a result, I know to be VERY careful.

Asking is usually not a good idea because Israelis don't even realize how it is everywhere--the hummus example being the bets one.

But last night, I got caught...there was a beet salad that had a sauce which, I am pretty sure had a Tahina base.

Sure, you could say, "Jeremy, why take the risk?"

A fair and noble question, but let's ignore that for another time.

I got hit...hard. I was miserable. I thought I could fight through it. Water, claritin, benadryl.

Nothing. Finally, after a few hours of misery and a couple vomiting attacks, I stabbed myself with the Epi-Pen and...voila. All set.

Another valid question is: why didn't you do it sooner?

We can also ignore my own psychology on that one. The point worked. Well.

So, today, I am grateful for the Epi-pen and its wonderful abilities.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 21: Warm beds and blankets

Like many, we had our first snowfall of the season yesterday. I hadn't been sleeping well the last few nights so I decided that I would allow myself a bit of a "sleep-in" on Sunday morning.

Of course, the NFO had given me the green light as well since there were no pressing child-related obligations.

It had been a long time since I could just lie in bed on Sunday morning and not have to jump out to do something.

The snow on the ground outside, the grayness of the was a perfect morning for just staying snug in the bed.

And it was warm.

I found myself being very grateful for the fact that, in this cold weather in particular and when so many others have less than I do, that we have a warm bed with great blankets and a warm house.

It was comfortable on many different levels.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 20- the Gift of Song

This weekend, our synagogue hosted the Maccabeats, whom some of you may remember burst onto the scene with the Candlelight video that went completely viral.  For a while, it was a sensation.

As part of the festivities, we were privileged to host 3 of the singers for lunch where we got to hear the story from the inside and "talk shop."  

In addition, they regaled Tonka with "Happy Birthday" as it is tomorrow.

As I listened to them sing and others around the table joined in, I found myself feeling grateful for the gift of song that we have and how much we can communicate to each other through song and music.

It's not something that I've thought much about, but our 3 guests devoted a nice portion of their lives to it and have enriched the lives of millions of people (look at the # of views they have!) through it.

That's a great gift.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 19: Maria and Irma

I love Fridays. Not because it is the end of the week or because Shabbat is that evening (though both of those are true).

I love it because our cleaning ladies, Maria and Irma, come and work tirelessly.

It's not that our house is dirty. The NFO and I both make efforts, but you know how it is.

But the time from 10-3 on Fridays after Maria and Irma have left before the kids come home from creates a  special Zen-like atmosphere for me.

They have an amazing work ethic and always with a smile on their face. They NEVER complain and are just fun.  They have fascinating personal stories as well as they have overcome adversity.

I just feel so fortunate to have them and am so grateful for all they do to run the household.

They are here right now, as I am typing this, so it's top of mind. And yes, I tell them how much I value them, greeting them with "my favorite 2 people in the world!" when they walk through the door ;-)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 18: Nikki (our Roomba)

Keeping a house clean is a challenge. Both the NFO and I are running around daily and let's just say that the kids don't always help as much as I would like ;-)

Recently, however, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum and it's been a nice stress minimizer for me. We call the Roomba, "Nikki" (more on that later).

When the kids leave in the morning, I do a quick walk through of the main floor of the house, picking up anything that will get in the way of Nikki doing her job (like shoelaces, etc.)

Then, I push the button (I was going to say 'turn her on,' but thought better of it) and go about my business. About an hour or so later, she returns to her dock and the house has had a nice vacuuming. For a wanna-be Zen guy, it's a great feeling.

We call the Roomba "Nikki" for a few reasons.

"Nikayon" in Hebrew means "clean up" or "cleaning."

Then, in a nod to our Finland fetish, we made it "Nikkanen" (to go along with Tikkanen, Jokinen, and Lakkanen).

Finally, we shortened it to "Nikki."

When we were deciding what to call Nikki, we also had to determine gender. I didn't want to assume it was a female who did the cleaning and we thought that Nikki could be male or female.

However, Lakkanen (age 9) suggested that Nikki was actually a transgender female, so we agreed that Nikki was a transgender female robot vacuum.

As part of the deal, Lakkanen is also known as "Nikki Janitorial Service Team" as she is responsible for cleaning the Roomba after each use.

So, today, I am grateful to the inventors of Roomba who give me a feeling of serenity.  I am grateful for the effort they put into creating something that works (pretty damn well) and which has some amazing technology to solve a need.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 17- The Right Therapist

I've changed my mind significantly about the value and need of therapy.  I'll admit that, once upon a time, I viewed it as a sign of mental weakness. Sorry, just being honest here.

Anyway, I eventually felt compelled (for reasons I'd rather not share) to give it a try.

Thing is, I've learned the hard way that the "fit" between therapist and patient is ueber critical.  My first two were very nice people, but didn't have the requisite skills to call me on my excessive amount of BS and self-justification.

Third time is the charm, I suppose, as I have found someone who meshes well with me. It's been a powerful and enlightening experience.

So, today, I'm grateful for the right therapist and, I suppose, for the wrong therapists (for me) who helped me realize what the right therapist looks like.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 16-- Erica and Alice

Apparently, for the last 8 months, all of my e-bills that were meant to go to BGE Home have, instead been going to BGE.

These are 2 different entities.

As you can imagine, I was surprised and unhappy to learn that BGE Home thought I owed them $1,000 for payments that I thought I had already made.

Naturally, I wasn't excited about the prospect of having to clean this mess up and so, as I made my way to Erica (at BGE) and Alice (at my bank), I may have been a little more curt and gruff than I would have liked.

This was probably email #15 and call #6 around the still unresolved issue.

So, I was thrilled to find two people who seem to genuinely care about solving this issue and doing so with empathy and compassion, even if I wasn't as nice as I could or should have been.

What Erica and Alice showed me is how to be graceful under pressure and how to be professional when a customer/client is stressed.

One of the things I struggle with, at times, is treating everyone with the respect they deserve simply by virtue of the fact that they are human beings.

I'm getting better at it and I'm not proud to admit that I have this problem, but I am grateful for people like Erica and Alice who demonstrate how it can be done and how you can get things done at the same time.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 15: Autumn in New England

Paco and I spent the weekend in Stamford, CT.  It was cool and sunny.  The leaves were all different shades of colors and there was a slight breeze.

It was refreshing and a great reminder to appreciate the natural beauty that is around us.

So, today, I am grateful for autumn in New England.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 14: Inconsiderate husbands

A few weeks ago, someone we know spoke incredibly rudely to the NFO. The content of the comments were fine, but the manner and tone were entirely inappropriate.

I wasn't there myself, but the NFO tells me that the wife of this man was working quite hard to have him stop and he totally ignored her.

Later, when I confronted the man about his behavior, I expressed how I felt. His wife was present when I did and she concurred with me.

He was obstinate in his position, so I said to him, "you shouldn't just take my word for it, listen to your wife, SHE is telling you that you made a mistake."

His response was, "it's ok, there are plenty of things I ignore that that she says" (or something to that effect).

As I listened to him explain to me why he thought his behavior was ok (it wasn't), I had a realization. It was something that the NFO has been saying to me for a long time.

When you are a husband, your actions do not simply reflect upon you. They reflect upon your wife and your children.  It makes them look bad by association.

I felt terrible for this man's wife as she not only had to deal with the mess that he created and being ignored (on this topic) but also had to suffer the indignity of being cast in a bad light because of something he did.

Now, I probably should listen to my wife a lot more than I do (working on it), but I was grateful to have the opportunity to see an example of what not to do and how every action I take as a husband does reflect on my wife...whether she is there or not.

I am very sorry that the NFO had to go through this experience.

I am sorry that the wife and family of this man had to go through it as well.

However, I am grateful that his total disregard for her feelings in this moment was a huge reminder to me of what I should and should not aspire to be as a husband.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 13- Viola Davis

I just finished watching the movie Fences and thought it was magnificent. I was so enamored with Viola Davis' convincing performance that I feel compelled to express my gratitude for her gifts as an actress.

With so much video content out there, we see all ranges of acting quality these days, so it is particularly powerful when I am privileged to see someone who obviously has a gift for her craft.

That I get to appreciate that as part of a story that tells a really powerful me, that is something worthy of gratitude.