Sep 25, 2010

Trying to glue a sunbeam to a piece of paper …

I’ve acquired a lot of wonderful acquaintances in my life. I consider it to be one of my achievements - my personality, geographical promiscuity and natural curiosity are all quite conducive to that. Yet, getting to know a couple I am about to write about, was just a fluke – being a member of lucky sperm club, if you will. I inherited them from my grandfather, and they are a rare treasure I can brag about.
Any attempts to describe this kind of people on paper usually fails – it’s about as hard as to glue a sunbeam to a piece of paper – yet I will try.

They are so full of life – not in an imposing “curb your enthusiasm and get me out of here” way, but in an “Indian summer” warm way – which one can just take in and count as a blessing. They savor life, every sip of it – and this ability is truly amazing, considering their life paths…
They were both born in Russia, year 1923… For those not so familiar with Russian history – very few of those born that year survived WWII… Most men were drafted or volunteered – right after their proms - and never came back… He was the “lucky” one – and he returned alive and almost unscathed… They both lived through Stalin terror – in fact he went to school with Vasilyi Stalin… They were both successful at their work and had a son…. Who was killed in a car accident at the age of 27… They came to the States when they both were in their seventies – and were able to accept and enjoy the new life….

I did not intend to write a biography, but I guess I just ended up gluing a sunbeam….. What can I say?... I am amazed… They are about to celebrate their 60 years together next month. After all these years and all this life, when they look at each other – they actually see each other… The way they were and the way they are… And, realizing all the impossibility of that I still wish they make it through another 60 – and secretly hope for a miracle, because they are a miracle themselves….
Hey, You, up there – do you hear me?!

Sep 24, 2010

Sep 23, 2010

Rights and obligations

How often do we turn our rights into obligations, while killing something intangible in the process?

The right to go to the gym a few times a month becomes and obligation to lose X pounds by date Y.

An “all you can eat buffet” - an absolutely striking example - which for some (many?) becomes an obligation to try out all there is to try out there.

The right to the pursuit of happiness becomes and obligation of always thinking positively and looking at the bright side of life, thus creating “Prozac nation”.

You have the right to keep your opinion to yourself :)

Sep 20, 2010

Teasy quiz

Here is a verbatim quote from an interview, published this fall. Can you guess who the interviewee was?

"Q: In the end you went to work as a computer programmer. Did you have previous experience?

A: I knew nothing about it. But this was back when there was a huge need for programming and no schools to speak of. So it was easy to get into. But I loathed it immediately."

Take a guess, even if you don't know the answer!

Sep 19, 2010

Snob - Magazine musing

I am puzzled… For those not in the know - Snob is a Russian-language magazine, coming to the US this September. It’s sold at B&N, so it’s not targeting the Brighton Beach crowd. Made me very curios to see what’s it all about – I do enjoy Linor Goralik lj and that’s how I learned about Snob originally.

I am still trying to understand what the product is, who the target audience is, and how marketing strategy ties one to the other… I looked through the pages - Snob does look good and a few pieces looked interesting, but Snob was the only magazine in its section in B&N, sealed in plastic and thus unavailable to browse over in the coffee shop (unless you are willing to break the rules of course :). (Which I did not! -just for the record! :)

I did not know what to expect from the presentation event yesterday – and it was nothing what I expected :). If it was a “meet the writer Linor Goralik” – it was quite nice, albeit there was some room for improvement when it came to logistic of the event. If it was a presentation for the new magazine… then it most likely was not… I’ve been wrong before, but my feeling is that something about Snob and its message will have to change in order to get the hearts and wallets of Russian-speaking Americans it claims to target.

Bottom line, it is an interesting idea and I think it has a lot of potential. Given the blockbuster funding (a rare luxury for the media these days, and especially Russian-language media in the US) and with the right people and strategy - there is a lot that Snob can achieve.

Sep 16, 2010

That's what YOU think about positive thinking

So the results are in: most of you chose to disagree with me (still allowed, even here, while we are in a free country at least :) and think that positive thinking is good.
Some are still undecided others are on the fence and no one thinks it’s outright bad.

I find it musing worthy and a bit amusing

Feel free to share why do you think the way you think about positive think-ing:)

Sep 15, 2010

New York - aMusings

Feeling dizzy? - The power of photographic art... :)

Wednesday Zen

The Torah says,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
The Buddha says,
There is no self.
So, maybe we're off the hook.

Jokes aside (well at least partially), there are a lot of people out there who proclaim self love, yet treat themselves much worse than not only their neighbors, but their own worst enemies... Some times they are aware of it, other times completely oblivious…

Yet another conundrum?

Sep 14, 2010

What explains the ascendance of Homo sapiens? Start by looking at our pets - The Boston Globe

What explains the ascendance of Homo sapiens? Start by looking at our pets - The Boston Globe

Finally - an argument that supports what I suspected all along - pets make a human!
It's obvious just by looking at the dogs walking their owners in the park every morning, but now it has a scientific confirmation.


Sep 13, 2010

'I would, but I need the eggs.'

Remember this part of the final "Annie Hall" monolog?:
"This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, uh, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken,' and uh, the doctor says, 'well why don't you turn him in?' And the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs."

I think this is a pretty accurate description of many a relationships, we, human beings, build for ourselves. Alas, not just romantic ones, but also friendships, business, parenting etc. We try to get those eggs anywhere we can - impeccable loyalty from friends, perfection from business partners, and sheer happiness from our children...

What do you think are the most “must have the eggs” relationships these days?

You think too much...

Do you hear this all too often? What prompts people to say it to another and what might they actually mean?

Granted, in a lot of cases, those sharing the wisdom mean it in a pretty one dimensional way – thinking takes energy and resources, the results are not always great, so just stop wasting your energy.
To illustrate the case look at pic. 1

Not thinking <------------------0----------------------> Thinking

pic. 1

This approach does not resonate with me, probably because I perceive thinking as “good” and I am too greedy to just give up something good because somebody tells me to do so.

However, there is another way to look at the meaning of “thinking too much” – and that is to take it three dimensional (pic. 2)

Pic. 2

In this case, an astute observation of “You are thinking too much” can be translated as “You are going one dimensional and are disproportionally low on the other two”.

Am I over thinking? :)

Sep 12, 2010

Forgive and forget?

These days between Rosh A Shana and Yom Kippur lend themselves well to contemplation on human nature, quiet introspection and reviewing one’s relations to another.

I think sometimes it's easy to confuse forgiveness with absolution, while the later is never possible between human beings.

To me forgiving means being able to grieve over the part of the relationship that has died (for example you had an illusion that a friend will always be there for you during tough times, and she was not – so this illusion of unconditional loyalty has to be mourned and buried, for you to be able to forgive). Things will never be the same afterwards – you may forgive, but cut off the relationship or become casual acquaintances instead of being friends, but things have changed...

Is it ever possible to forget, even when forgiving?

Sep 10, 2010

Stolen gems: Dramastic change

I must admit – I shamelessly stole this one. It was a slip of a tongue I overheard earlier today. I did not think the rightful owner was planning to put this one to a good use; I couldn’t let this little gem of an expression to die unnoticed and unappreciated.

I started thinking of it – and I don’t know how we could live without this definition when so many things fall right into this category of being Dramastic: internet, face book, cell phones….

Any other examples, outside of tech world?

Sep 9, 2010

Debt and punishment in the US – anything wrong with this picture?

If I decide to life beyond my means, have fun, travel and enjoy luxury stuff – I can max out my credit cards and take pleasure in knowing that someone else will pay for it if I can’t!
That’s right, if I can’t pay that debt – I declare bankruptcy, and can start from a clean slate in a few years (granted, it’s a bit tougher now, but from what I gather it can still be done).

If I decide to buy a house that’s at some point becomes beyond my means – same story again. If I can get that mortgage and it turns out I’ve overextend myself – I foreclouse – and voila , my headache is somebody else’s now.

Same goes for the corporations and business development debt.

BUT – and here come the BUT,

If I decide to invest in my education, (supposedly the level of education makes the US more competitive and is in general “good for you”), and it turns out to be a waste- it does not pay off in terms of job/more income – there is no way I can get rid of the debt, bankruptcy or no bankruptcy . I am enslaved forever to pay it back, even if I have to prostitute (oh wait, that might be illegal!) or wait tables to do so.

That’s right – indulgence, overconsumption, excessive risk in business ventures are good- you can have fun AND get away with it, but falling for education trap – that’s where you have to be an adult and pay for all your fantasies. Education is supposed to bring knowledge, and knowledge is power – now you know education can screw you royally!

Anything wrong with this picture?

Rhonda Byrne The Secret and The Power:

Rhonda Byrne&#8217;s &#8220;The Secret,&#8221; and &#8220;The Power&#8221;:

Is it od-ing on positive thinking?

This article in New Yorker got me to view positive thinking as a drug of choice for many.

When used sparingly it can be of value, however when this drug abuse is rampant, it could get outright scary…

Being a practical person I am thinking of countermeasure for those affected… May be some good old Woody Allen movies can help those who can still help themselves? :)…


Sep 8, 2010

Shana Tovah!

Wednesday Haiku

The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

(Author unknown)

Does it instantly brings memories of a close friend or a distant relative, who might have been a protagonist of this lyrics?

Do share the story!

Sep 7, 2010

Short Musing on Jewish history - Dor Hamidbar

This time of the year it's only natural to be contemplating on all things Jewish (the main part, of course, being the home made Rosh A Shana dinner :).

But there is a bit more to the musings than dinner, so here it comes...

Dor haMidbar, the wilderness generation is the generation of Jews who came out of Egypt and wondered the desert for 40 years without ever entering the Promised Land.
One of the explanation is that those years in the desert were punishment for worshiping a golden idol, another one that 40 years is the time necessary for generational change to occur and thus ensuring that only those who are truly free enter the new country

I am wondering - what is the significance of that generation? Where else in history do we see a similar thing occurring? Are the intergenerational differences really that substantial?

Sep 6, 2010

Do nothing – 3 easy steps

I consider this topic of special importance on Labor Day :)

Over the last few decades I heard, read and browsed so many unsolicited “How to do (blank) in ...3/5/8… (Some say using Fibonacci number of steps is the key) easy steps” solutions, that I felt compelled to make a contribution. Of course, to sound credible and make a real impact I must choose a subject I am very passionate about – so here it comes “Do nothing – 3 easy steps”

1 Plan (carefully)
2 Identify obstacles (make sure to list them all)
3 Execute (this step is should be easy breezy if you did well on the first two)

All done!

What's your "easy steps" pet peeve?

Sep 4, 2010

Ideas market

Thanks to one of my guests, who wished to remain anonymous, I decided to put out there some thoughts I’ve been contemplating for a while.

“Idea market” – I think it exists already, but it probably is still in very early stages. I am also thinking that if we view ideas as products of human activity we are looking for “people market”. People are conceiving the ideas and executing on them the same way companies create new products and services. I can imagine a future where each one of us will be able to raise money by issuing personal equity and go public locally or globally, choosing to be OTC or exchange traded. I wonder wether an Ivy MBA will be viewed as an asset or as a liability in that market? J

Think about it – it’s already happening, however the market is not efficient yet and is primarily OTC. New ideas attract angels and VCs, but not only – now a days with all the social media and information sharing available a new idea gets to the general public really fast, and the public votes with their wallets or clicks

Please share your thoughts – and have a good Labour Day!

What exactly do we celebrate on labor day?

Is it just a modern version of pagan end of the summer and/or harvesting feast?

Sep 3, 2010

And now politics…

Well, I think I mused about religion (shoes ARE religion :), am yet to make a meaningful public contribution to sex discussion, but today it’s about politics.

After reading about Russa’s decision to ban grain exports ( )

I am wondering whether Russia will habitually blame the US and other exporters for “artificially keeping the prices high and trying to dictate their will to the world” a few months from now…

What are your thoughts?

Sep 2, 2010

Blogging - a house of cards?

I got an impression today that 50% of the blogs out there are giving advice on how to promote your blog.

It brought back the eerie memories of the credit crunch, when everybody was betting on everybody and telling everybody how to do it better :)

So what is the future of blogs on how to write a blog?...