Israel Diary Day 3: HP Indigo and Nes-Ziona (+photos)

israel_day_3_coverThe third day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here, Day 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here.

Finally, I slept a complete night, and awoke feeling rested.  I can’t recall how long it took my body to adjust last time I traveled to this part of the world, but I’m starting to feel a bit more alive.

After a wonderful breakfast, I retreated to my room to write, respond to emails, and check on my wife and baby.   All seems OK at home, except that Abby has been a bit more difficult that usual.  I hope she doesn’t drive mommy crazy!

On my agenda today is a visit to the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona, to meet with Gershon Alon (he oversees the Workflow Solutions at HP Indigo) and further our integration with SmartStream (which we unveiled in Nashville a month ago), and discuss other cooperative goals.

I struggle to find a Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 2: Jerusalem & Bethlehem (+photos)

Israel Diary day 2

The second day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here.

I awoke at 3:30 AM, fully aware that it was too early to get up, but unable to coax myself back to sleep.  So around 4:30 I gave up, and resorted to responding to emails and checking the news.

At 6:30, the hotel’s breakfast opened, which provided a wonderful array of options.  The display reminded me of being on a cruise — so many yummy things to try!

After eating and pounding a few cups of coffee, I made my way to the front of the hotel to wait for a tour bus (which I arranged the night before).  I choose a tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which cost around $90.  Compared to what I’ve paid in other countries, it wasn’t too expensive.

Promptly at 7:20, our tour guide (Absalom) appeared, requesting that I follow him to boarded his tour bus.  He was a friendly and very helpful guide, and when I return to Israel, I’ll definitely look him up again.  After picking up a few more tourists, we made our way for about 45 minutes to Jerusalem.  I made friends with a number of my fellow passengers, including an attorney from Ohio, and an auditor for Shell.

For the next 8 hours, he led us on a journey of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, a kibbutz, and back to the old city of Jerusalem.  Here are some (but certainly not all!) of the highlights: Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 1: Tel Aviv (+photos)

israel_covershot2Leaving my wife and baby was harder than usual.  I’m headed to the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As we stood outside LAX’s Bradley Terminal, Abby seemed to know something was up.  Usually, she seems oblivious to what’s going on, but this time she held on to me, and even seemed hesitant to go back to mom.

She gave me a bunch of little hugs and squeezes.

Dave, Abby, and Sarah

One last picture before flying to Israel. Going to miss these sweet girls of mine!

We took our usual family picture, and I watched as they pulled away.  I said a prayer for their safety and protection.

Arriving at the El Al check-in, there were at least a dozen people ahead of me.  I wasn’t in line for more than one minute, when an El Al official came up to me.

“Sir, may I see your passport?” he asked.  I handed it to him.  “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you some questions,” he said, leading me towards the front of the line.  He asked me where I was going, and what my plans were.  After a few minutes he left, but returned with a young lady.  She introduced herself, apologized, and said that she would need to learn more about my trip.

I nodded and smiled.  In these types of situations, I enjoy experiencing the rush of adrenaline that comes from new situations.  I know I’m weird, but I like practicing remaining calm while my brain goes into overdrive.

“Sir, who are you visiting?” she asked, watching my face as I collected my thoughts.  I told her about the HP VIP event, my plans with Pageflex, and other objectives for the trip.  She continued asking about where I was going, and what I planned to do each day.  She asked who I would be with, and how I knew them.

After a few minutes, she excused herself.  I lost sight of her as she mixed with a sea of El Al reps behind the counter.  A moment later, she returned.  “Did you buy your own ticket? Who made your travel arrangements?” she asked, peppering me with questions about how I arrived at LAX.

Then, to my surprise, she said Read more of this post

Someone Please Create This Company: Travel Freely

I hate packing!

I hate packing!

Every time I travel, I think of a service I’d like to have.

In a nutshell, I really dislike packing.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I think part of it is that I used to be so dirt poor, that I’d stress about forgetting something that I wouldn’t be able to afford at my destination.  I’d worry that I’d forgotten something that would render the trip useless.

Of course, I can’t recall one time these fears actually came true, but nonetheless, the packing process wreaks havoc on my OCD-impacted psyche.

To ease my concerns, I’ve made a checklist of the items I usually need, along with a “best-practices” section so that I can remember lessons learned (example: waking up at 4 when a taxi is arriving at 4:30 isn’t good; wake up at 3:45 instead).  Yah, I know I’m weird — but having a list seems to shave a bit of the mental anguish from the experience.

Though I’ve done it dozens of times p/year and nothing really bad ever happens, I still find myself disliking the process.  Ask my wife; she’ll tell you what I go through.

So here’s the idea: What if you could pack the ideal suitcase, and ship it to a company.  Let’s call them “Travel Freely”.  When you make your travel arrangements, you simply send your reservation to Travel Freely, and magically, upon arriving at the hotel, your luggage is waiting with everything you need.  No waiting around at the airport.  No need to pack.  Just click-and-go.

Opening your suitcase, you see all your favorite clothes have been cleaned, pressed, and are ready to rock.

When you’re done with your trip, you check out of the hotel and they ship it back to Travel Freely, where everything gets cleaned and replenished, awaiting your next trip.

Of course you’d have some options when you make your request, like the # of days you’ll be gone (so that the right number of shirts are available), or if you need any additional items packed (like extra Advil).  These items would pull from a list of your favorite necessities and would be added with a few clicks or swipes on your iPhone.

What do you think?  Am I the only one that hates packing?  Is there a service like this?  Would anyone use this?

44% of Americans Are One Emergency From Financial Ruin

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

My sister recently posted a comment on this post, where another reader mentioned he felt most homeless are that way because of substance abuse.

While I have not found data to substantiate this claim, I did come across an LA Times article reporting that nearly 44% of American households are one emergency away from financial ruin.

As I’ve come to realize through my time with the homeless, it seems that most of the folks I meet didn’t have enough in savings to cover their basic living expenses at the time of their “event” — and according to this article, they’re not alone. Of the 44% that are one step away from the edge, most do not have savings capable of covering three months of living expenses.  This means that losing a job, becoming ill, or losing their family support system can be devastating.

Speaking of savings: according to a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, nearly a third of Americans have no savings account at all.

Of households that are on the edge, about 75% are working full-time, with slightly over 15% earning a middle-class income of more than $55,000 a year. Even so, they’re one paycheck away from the edge.

What do you think?  Does it seem likely that nearly half of all American households are that close to the edge?  If so, what can be done about this?

“I’m 54 Years Old, And I’m Not Going To Change!”

Sometimes, when I’m engaged in conversation with someone, they’ll say something like:

You know what?  No way.  I’m 54 years old, and I’m not going to change!  I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen.

When confronted with such a response, I don’t know what to say.  I usually just end up looking at the person, scrunching my eyebrows and scratching my head.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever said this in conversation, which is why it confuses me.  (If you know me personally, please point out if I’m wrong …)

When I was in my early twenties, I took this response as a put-down (as in: listen you little twerp, I’m far wiser than you; what you’re asking me to do is stupid…), but now that I’m in my 30’s and much more mature (come on, I’m joking), I’m even more confused.

I’m confused because I find myself changing.all.the.freakin’.time.  I don’t think I’m unique in that way.  I see people changing all around me.  Aren’t you changing, too?

As I reflect on this response, I’m left with an observation and two questions:

  • Observation: I think I typically hear this response from people older than me
  • Question: In general, what do people really mean by this?  What are they trying to tell me?
  • Question: Twenty years from now, will I also say this?

What I believe to be true is that I’m 34 years old, and I’m definitely going to change.

What do you think? If you have any insight, or if you’re uttered these words yourself, please share your thoughts.

Blog Traffic Report: February 2013

February_header

Pageviews continue to grow!

Welcome to February’s traffic report (see January’s here).  My goal in sharing these data is to provide you some encouragement and support in your own blogging journey.  If you blog, I’d love to hear how you did in February in the comments.

A few highlights from last month:

  • I began accepting donations using PayPal, totaling $1,421.  I’ve received many questions on how to use PayPal for donations, so I may post something on that soon.
  • I continued blogging less often (read why I began posting less).  In February, I posted 9 times, compared to 22 in January.  Even so, pageviews increased (see below).

Personally, I was pretty busy in February, with travel, work, and home-life.  Because I knew my time would be limited compared to prior months, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the month … Read more of this post

DSCOOP8 Nashville Photo Dump

DSCOOP8

DSCOOP8, held in Nashville.

This past week, a few members of the MindFire team visited Nashville to attend the DSCOOP conference.

DSCOOP is an HP user group, specifically for folks who own the HP Indigo (a digital printer), and companies that help these folks maximize their investment in HP equipment.

(By the way, these aren’t the little printers that sit on your desk; rather, they’re large $500k+ pieces of machinery for printing very personalized marketing pieces. If you want to know what a $1.5 million printer looks like, click here to see a picture of the Indigo 10000…)

I arrived a day earlier than the rest of the team to work on setting up our booth, and configuring our integration with HP (see the official press release here).

I’m very proud of how everyone on the MindFire engineering team worked to prepare us for the show. Our team worked with the HP engineering team to enable our multi-channel marketing automation workflows to easily print to the Indigo — with no human intervention. No human intervention means less errors, more value-added opportunities, and more margin for our mutual Clients.

We demonstrated the integration at the show, which required running a very long Ethernet cable from our booth to the HP booth. You’ll see that Read more of this post

The Power Of Storytelling: Generating $1,421 In A Week

If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Dave: he’s 40 years old, homeless, and lives under a bridge.  Here’s where he lives now:

Dave's place under the bridge.  This is where he's been living.

Dave’s home under the bridge.

Against the odds, he’s making a love-fueled comeback.

After writing this post (my third in the series), I included a link that allowed readers to donate towards Dave’s journey.

Within minutes, $50 had been donated.  After a week, we received $1,421, not to mention other physical donations.

Honestly, I never expected this to happen.

As I’ve shared Dave’s story (you can read it starting here) and talked to readers about my blogging journey, I’m often asked how it started, and why Read more of this post

Why It Sucks To Be In Multiple Places At Once

Daddy & Abby

What does it take to be present, like Abby is in this picture? I doubt her mind was anywhere but on my lap, in that swing.

Do you ever have days you just don’t feel completely present — like there’s something between you and the outside world? Or where you’re physically present, but mentally somewhere else?

Maybe you’re:

  • With family, but wanting to check that newly arrived text message
  • In a meeting, but worrying about the emails you’re falling behind on
  • On vacation, but dreading the last day when you’ll mourn that it’s over

I’m sure you’ve got your own examples (I’d love to hear about them in the comments).

So here’s the question: Why is it so hard to be fully alive in the present? Why is it that we’re often (mentally) somewhere else?

For me, one root-cause seems to be my addiction to

Read more of this post

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