December 31, 2008

Clink-clunk-clank - and the sirens of Cast Lead

Here we go again.

War is here. To be politically correct it's not a war, at least not yet. It's officially a campaign. An operation. A series of "activities." An ongoing clink-clunk-clank of a hammer and a sweaty ironsmith doing his craft. Because it's his job. Because it's needed for a "transformation." Clink-clunk-clank, followed by fire - and silence.

It's also a live reality show- as proven by Eretz Nehederet on TV exactly at the same time that a Grad Rocket hits a kindergarden in Beer Sheva.

Oh, yes, it's eerily familiar. As Amir Peretz of Winograd fame hinted this morning on Galei Tzahal, we might as well just all recycle the TV broadcasts, the interviews, the analysis and the analysts of the Second Lebanon War. It's all the same.

Me? I'm having an out-of-body experience and I'm watching it from the side yet unable (unwilling?) to react. "About time we stick it to 'em," says my idealogically challenged neigboor. "We all know they just don't understand otherwise," says the technician who visits me the next day. But I don't share the enthusiasm. I just want it to end.

Time to check in with my friend S, who spent the night with her husband and 3 kids on the floor of her house's shelter. "Good thing I brought in some games yesterday and clared out the clutter, against my husband's instincts." Her oldest girl had a panic attack at 3 am. Nobody slept, she reports from her office near Tel Aviv. Kids are spending day with mother-in-law in "faraway" Holon.

And me? With one hand, reading David Grossman and praying for a truce. With the other, applauding the long overdue efforts of @israelconsulate and packing chocolates for our "troops" for my daughter to take to kindergarten.

Ridiculous. Bizarre.

Just going through the motions, like an ironsmith doing his craft.

August 25, 2008

Updates galore

Two quick updates on what's been going on in the last few months since we last saw each other:

  • In late March (last entry) I had a very bad case of the flu. What I didn't tell you was that I was severely limited on (a) the type and amount of medicine I could take to make me feel better (b) the way my body responded (taking ages to recover) because, well, I was in the early stages of pregnancy. So a belated "be sha'ah tova"/enhorabuena to me.
  • Remember ResearchTrail? Well, it shut down, unfortunately. As you may recall, I called it quits late last year (before the first funding round) and was no longer a partner, but it is still disappointing to hear. Good luck to Dudu & Judy in their new ventures in the future...
And some minor tidbits that might shed light on my mood swings of the past few months (compounded by pregnancy hormones, of course).
Here they are, in ascending order of stress level:
  • My sister-in-law and three nephews stayed with us for a visit. 13 days and 13 nights.
  • Did some renovations to the house (dust, dust, everywhere, and no toys to be found)
  • Have not yet completed (ehem, effectively started) handover to my recently hired replacement during the planned maternity leave
  • I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up
  • Bad news: Olmert is still PM. Worse news: Looks like Netanyahu is coming back. Or Barak.
  • How the heck will I juggle three little monsters when I only have two hands? (No, I'm not expecting triplets, just baby #3)
  • My wonderful friends and neighbors A & J just went back to Mexico for "a couple of years". (Yea right. I've heard that one before.) Still crying.
  • It's terribly hot outside. And inside. Everywhere.
  • How the heck will I handle three little monsters (and maternity leave) without A & J?
Ideas, suggestions and support all welcome.

March 24, 2008

Gathering strength - Preston Reed helps

Been out with a bad case of the flu lately. So thanks to my twitter pals, here's some inspiration to go on in the meantime.
This particular song is called "Overture for Lily" and legend has it he wrote it for the birth of his daughter.
Introducing la guitarra magica de Preston Reed.

February 24, 2008

Izhar Ashdot's new video: fiddle, guitar and grey hair

I always liked T-slam, but ever since our friend Isaac took us to see Izhar Ashdot live some 6 yrs ago, I got absolutely hooked.
Head-over-heals-hooked. Addicted.
To the point that my husband is convinced the reason for our 4-year-old's addiction to music is found in those 9 months of constant prenatal soundwaves from Ashdot's guitar.
Today I found this new clip (very sorry I missed his live performance). A sample of Izhar Ashdot at his best, with just a dash of Irish music. Enjoy!

February 03, 2008

On gender, faith and a 4-year-old's wisdom

Friday night dinner. Ben is telling us about what learned in Gan this week.

- So what's the Torah Portion this week?
- Mishpatim
[ah-ha. He remembers more than the drawings and songs]
- And what happens there?
- It's about rules. Like when you find a ball in the street and it's not yours. You can't take it. But if someone comes looking for it and they say it's their ball and that it's red, when the ball is really yellow, you can't give it to them.
[This is way beyond the level I had expected from a four-year-old. He's well on his way to become a lawyer. I decide to go on, just for the fun of it.]

- Ben, do you know what the Ten Commandments are?
- Yes, "Aseret Hadibrot"
- Right. Do you know what's written in them?
- Not really.
- Well, the first one tells us something about God. Like, do you know how many Gods there are?

[That should be a piece of cake for him after his elucidation on Jewish Law]

- Yes. There's two.

[Jaw drops. What kind of Jewish parents do we call ourselves?]

- Ben, we know there's only one God.
- No mom. There's two... One man, and one woman.

January 20, 2008

Creativity, Living and inspiration

Thanks to @edwardharran for sharing this entry from a blog entry by Prof. John Maeida (MIT Media Lab) A snippet below:

So it dawned upon me how important it is to be a creative. Because it means you
have within you infinite capacity to experiment. You are unafraid to go somewhere new because you are creating a new thought process about your own creativity. You know that if you stop and no longer challenge yourself, you cease to be creative. You become still, silent, and the bow no longer connect with the strings and music is not made. And you do not exist. You show you do not have the courage to exist.

[how can I not add this to CreatiVivi?]

Creativity is courage. The world needs more fearless people that can influence all disciplines to challenge their very existence. Creativity is reflection aimed not at yourself, but at the world around you.
[Hello world! Thanks for sharing]

January 16, 2008

My top 10 for Twitter

My Twitter chronology:
- It's early 2007. I don't get what all the hype is about. "Twitter is only for self-obsessed geeks"
- August 2007. I sign up. Might as well try it if it's survived this long. Now what do I do?
- November 2007. This is cool. Have 5 followers, don't have the faintest idea how they found me.
-December 2007 @LeWeb3. Meet serial twitterers and see them in action. Start to see the light.
-January 2008. I'm hooked. Here's why:

10. Procrastinating: Twitter's a wonderful way to pass the time when I want to avoid a task.
9. Blog traffic: I got over 100 visits in 3 hours thanks to a twitter by @LoicLeMeur (not that it has happened again since :-)
8. Diversity: I can "create my own village"
7. No pressure: Watch, listen, learn. No pressure to speak out, show up, bump into.
6. Garbage Can: Second thoughts? That's okay. Delete.
5. Style in 140 chars: If WW2 Allied radio operators could "see" who was behind the German transmissions just by "reading" the pulse and style of their morse code transmissions, I can surely get to know people in 140-character bursts of personality
4. No "fun walls."
3. The mental challenge of being concise. Of building a style, consciously or otherwise.
2. Great blog posts and great bloggers I wouldn't have otherwise gotten to know.
And my top top reason:
1. A weird sense of community. For Frozen Peas. For Ashley . For causes. For news. For something beyond the egocentric, narcisisstic tweets that I initially throught were the achilles heal of the app.

Let's meet. @creativivi

January 10, 2008

Update: redefining journalism & social relationships

This is an update to two seeminly unrelated posts: "What frozen peas can teach us" and "Jounnalism Reinvented."

A couple of days ago, a twitterer I didn't know about, but with whom some of my twitter "friends" had conversations and shared twitter/flickr initiatives - died in a car accident.

Her name was Ashley Spencer, otherwise known as @ahspeamama. She left behind a toddler, a baby and a husband.

A fund has been established in her name to help out her family. Spreading the word are lots of twitterers and bloggers who, in her honor, have changed their avatar to a purple and gold croc shoe.

I still can't get over the immediacy of the response. And over the lack of geographical boundaries. And the cross-channel coverage. And over the human story behind it.

January 09, 2008

Jounalism Reinvented

I always knew I wanted to study journalism. Ten years ago I graduated with honors from a good J-school in Mexico, complete with CNN internship and half-a-dozen "real" articles in business magazines by the time I handed in my BA thesis.

Today, all this is basically useless.

(and I'm not only talking about the concept of an undergrad thesis)

The only thing remaining is the “core” – the drive, the discipline, the writing skills (and the luck.) But the majority, that 89.6% of the content taught in journalism schools today, is completely out of synch with the reality of surviving in an era of blogs, free newspapers, and kids with camera phones and portable MP3 recorders landing larger headlines than the networks. No wonder that many of the traditional reporters are reluctant to blog, add video and other channels, change.

As Steve Outing recently wrote in his column at Editor & Publisher,

"Even at the college level, where you might expect all students to be on
board with the notion of a digital-centric, publish-it-right-now,
multi-media approach to news, I still run into budding journalists who cling
to the hope of finding a traditional newspaper reporting job."

Here's a snip from the reaction of Mindy McAdams (of Teaching Online Journalism blog fame)

Tear up your news hole. Destroy it.
Tear up your CMS templates. Install something else and link to the new thing.
Do it fast and furiously, as if your life depended on it. Because it does.


January 06, 2008

Looking for fun and safe playgrounds - online

The first time I saw a child-friendly keyboard back in the mid 1990's I thought they were a just a natural evolution of the "My First Sony" tape recorder + microphone that my friend Sara got as a present when we were both 11.

Fast forward 20 years. I’ve got a four-year-old who can spend 90 minutes, on his own, reading stories and playing a virtual xylophone. And I’ve got a two-year-old that is more adept at using a mouse than I was at age 12.

In a world where three-year-olds can’t figure out how to ring up grandma on the phone but have no problem skyping her, shouldn’t we invest more effort in ensuring their online time is quality time?

A recent article from The New York Times (free access, requires login) caught my eye.

“Forget Second Life. The real virtual world gold rush centers on the
grammar-school set.”

An estimate from eMarketer quoted in the article: by the year 2011, 20 million children will be members of a virtual world, up from 8.2 million today.

For now most of these sites have been extensions of old media empires (Walt Disney Co. or my local version, satellite TV’s Arutz Hop) or toy manufacturers (Mattel, Lego - or in my case, Sony)

Hopefully, there will be some real grass-roots efforts here and things will begin to change.

In the meantime, two big barriers to overcome:

1) Trust: I want top quality content for my kids. No ads (covert or otherwise). And safe logins. I can take more risks with myself and my online identity, but really don’t want my kids to be exposed in any way.
2) Money: Kids (or should I say, their parents) are buying online virtual pets at Webkinz (in the picture) or paying up $5,95 a month to dress up and play with online penguins at Club Penguin. But who else out there has a proven business model?

These two factors are, of course, interconnected. Unless they rid themselves of advertising based revenue models, it’s going to be really hard to build a safe, ad-free, educationally rich and well designed (and maintained!) virtual playground.

But this is exactly where web 2.0 grassroots initiatives from enthusiastic parents (and parents-to-be) might pay off.

January 03, 2008

Justifying offline guilt

There was a notable slowdown of blogging activity during the holiday season, often preceded by a note apologizing to the readers for going offline for the next few days.
"Of course I pardon you," I anwered back the Netvibes widget on my screen.

But then, within 48 hours or less, there was a new post that started "I just had to blog about this cool thing in my skiing vacation / Christmas presents / New year's resolutions." That's okay. But what I found disturbing was that it was sometimes preceded by an apology to their children/spouse/conscience for breaking their promise to go offline.

Then again, who was I to judge them? That is, what the heck was I doing online at that horrible hour in the day? Maybe my husband's complaints about the wife who quit her start-up partnership but is still online 24/6* were justified after all?

One has to think whether we're really taking our online lives too seriously. And with that thought, sorry, but I have to finish my accounting tasks for the month, pick up the kids, and find a birthday present for my husband before he really gets mad atme. After all, he does read my blog.

*24/6 vs. 24/7: A conscious decision not to turn on my computer on Shabbat I (thankfully) made prior to the Web 2.0 era.