Monthly Archives: October 2003

Ever wonder what I do for a living? I have….

It’s pleasant being in my own timezone. I got to bed at a reasonable hour and felt appropriately ready to sleep, and morning didn’t come exceptionally early today. I even had a chance to work out a bit before breakfast — I thought it was too dark to run along the Bay Trail (it was a very pleasant run yesterday afternoon, though!), so I used the exercise room at the hotel instead. It was crowded, mostly with other IBMers.

The IBM Academy of Technology annual meeting officially began a few minutes ago; IBM’s CEO will be talking to us at 8:45, so I think I’d better close the laptop and pay close attention to what he says.

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Too much travel

I spent most of last week in Boulder, Colorado, enjoying the beautiful weather and great food. The reason I was there was to do a field study of help desk folks — we gathered much good data, and, with any luck, will be able to make good decisions based on that data (and maybe even write a paper).

I actually stayed at the Hampton Inn in Longmont, which was a fine place to stay — free wireless and free breakfast always make a hotel more appealing. And Longmont has at least two good brewpubs; the food was better at the Pumphouse, but the beer seemed better at the Left Hand Brewing Company. Of course, I only had limited time to try them out, and more opportunities to evaluate both the food and the beer at both would be worthwhile. And, despite my preference for the beer at the Left Hand, I would happily drink more of the Kiltlifter at the Pumphouse (but not if I was going to drive — it’s 8% alcohol by volume!).

This week, I’m at the IBM Academy of Technology meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California (the meeting was billed as “San Francisco”, but we locals know better!). Again, there’s free wireless and free breakfast — also free lunch and free dinner — but I’m going to be awfully busy this entire week (since I’m on the Technology Council, I have to stay through Friday afternoon). My trip here was uneventful and easy (there are some advantages to being nearly local), and packing was a breeze, since I didn’t have to limit myself to a carry-on suitcase.

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Thoughts on Shabbat

At any rate, Shabbat was not my favorite day of the week. I never really observed it seriously, and eventually didn’t even pretend to do so.

But of late, I’ve found Shabbat to be more important to me. I don’t follow the rules at all strictly (I’m typing this on Shabbat, for example), but I still take the day seriously. Lawrence Kushner, in his essay “Thinking Shabbat” in A Shabbat Reader came up with a term for liberal Jews who are serious about Shabbat: “Zocher Shabbat” (in contrast to those Jews who are obsessive about the minutiae of Shabbat, who are called “Shomer Shabbat”).

Tonight, we spent Shabbat evening at Congregation Shir Hadash; first, we helped set up the Oneg (which definitely qualifies as work!). Then Jeff went to the regular service, and Diane and I went to the “Service of the Soul”, led by our new assistant rabbi, Yitzhak Miller. This was a very different service; we started with six niggunim, then six psalms, and then much more music. There were no spoken prayers at all, but there was time for silent contemplation. I surprised myself by enjoying the service quite a bit, though I wasn’t able to give up looking at the clock from time to time, since we continued for a good while after the regular service ended.

When we finished, we went out to the Sukkah for Oneg — Jeff had helped carry everything out at the end of the regular service and was cleaning up in the kitchen while he waited for us. We made our Oneg and then went back to our duties as Oneg volunteers and finished the cleanup.

And now it’s definitely time to call it an evening. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sukkot!

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Two Rooms

I spent most of the day, as expected, in the Board Room at IBM Corporate Headquarters, attending the first meeting of the “CIO Tech Board”. It was interesting and possibly productive (I got a homework assignment, which is probably a good thing), but that’s not what I want to write about. I don’t even want to write about David Weinberger’s talk, at least not at the moment.

Instead, I want to talk about the Board Room itself. I wish I’d had a camera with me — it is quite impressive (as befits the Board Room of a major multinational corporation). It’s loaded with technology, most of which is nearly invisible (for example, there’s a wonderful speakerphone setup; the mikes are very inconspicuous little bumps around the table). Something which surprised me was that the table is a round table (bigger than the one in Winchester, England, which is supposed to be King Arthur’s Round Table) — I would have expected it to have a clear “head” where the CEO would sit.

The Board Room is also very nicely furnished, and there are rules which help to keep it that way (at least for mortals like ourselves). The chief rule: No Eating in the Board Room (no, there wasn’t a sign — but the word was passed). And No Briefcases on the Table (for that, there was a sign). Neither of these was a problem.

And, of course, there was plenty of connectivity — both wired and wireless.

Now, I’m sitting in the Admirals’ Club in Terminal 8 at JFK. It’s a nice place, but as a haven for connected travellers, it sucks. Most of the phones are voice-only and cost Big Bucks, even for local calls; there are a few data-capable phones hiding in the back of the lounge, some of which even work. There is one wired Ethernet port which costs 25 cents/minute; there’s also wireless (T-Mobile), but that’s expensive unless you have the monthly plan, which I don’t (yet, anyway). Fortunately, I’ve only got a few minutes to spend here — because the Club is also very stupidly located outside security. *sigh*

Time to head for the security line so I can go home!

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The thirsty man stays OUTSIDE the bar

I’m sitting outside the bar at the Hilton in Tarrytown, New York, drinking my fill of free WiFi. It’s definitely more useful and enticing than anything they are serving inside the bar, at least as far as I’m concerned tonight.

I’m here to attend the inaugural meeting of IBM’s “CIO Tech Board” tomorrow. I had originally planned to phone into the meeting, but two things changed my mind — the meeting was extended to five hours, which is too long to stay on the phone, and they told me it was going to be held in the Board Room at Corporate Headquarters. I don’t know if the meeting will be important enough to warrant such an exalted venue, but my curiosity was certainly piqued! And our final speaker will be David Weinberger, which should be interesting.

We all had easy fasts, even Jeffrey, who had been worried about it. And I think I’ve had my fill of lox for a few days, since I had it for both break-the-fasts last night and on the plane today.

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Erev Yom Kippur

We’re about to get ready to leave for Kol Nidre services; this will be Jeff’s first time fasting, and he is definitely not looking forward to it. I can’t say I’ll miss visiting Jack in the Box mid-fast, though!

For those of you who are fasting, may you have an easy fast. And may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Shana Tova!

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Blast from the Past

Jeff’s school runs an annual fund-raising carnival; in the past, it’s been in the spring and called “Beach Blast”, but this year, they decided to have it early in the year, and they renamed it Blast from the Past. The courtyard was filled with old cars, there were games and music, and a good time was had by all. Unfortunately, by the time we got over there, they were out of Tri-Tip, so Diane and I walked over to a local restaurant for dinner…but Jeff made sure to use up all of the coupons we’d bought anyway.

It’s been a busy week — so I’ll be happy to be able to say Shabbat Shalom and turn off the computer for a couple of days. Monday is Yom Kippur, and I’ll be spending Tuesday and Wednesday on the road (all the way to Armonk for a five-hour meeting, oy!). I’m already looking forward to next weekend….

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Halloween is coming, but first, Yom Kippur

In general, I’m happy that I transferred to my new group — it’s nice working with people I can see on a daily basis. But there are a few small downsides, one of which is that they pretty much expect to see me on a daily basis, and so I don’t feel quite as able to work from home as I did when I was remote.

But yesterday, I had a very early morning call, followed by a bunch of other calls, with a routine doctor’s appointment thrown into the mix, and it just didn’t make any sense to drive to the office to spend all day on the phone when I could do it from the comfort of my own home. And with the weather so nice, that let me do my favorite thing to do when working from home — take a long walk for lunch. It was a nice break from my new routine.

Last night, we had a class at Shir Hadash — the first of a five-session series on Harold Kushner’s books. Last night’s discussion was on his gloss on Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough, and it was quite interesting. One of the things which I found most personally meaningful about Kushner’s book was that he’d written it about the time he was turning 50 — it gave me a very personal perspective on the book.

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