Shock & Awe Ebola

Posted in Just A Thought at 11:14 am

Every so often the universe takes a terrible tragedy and adds an element of slapstick. The latest Ebola outbreak was expected to infect up to 1.4 million people without the aggressive interventions already started. That someone infected made it into the US couldn’t have come as a shock to anyone. That the person is in Texas and the case was mishandled is just cosmic irony at work.

 Small Business Campaign

Texas raised eyebrows in the past year by advertising aggressively in the NYC region to encourage small business owners to move to Texas to get lower taxes and a ‘more business-friendly’ climate. I can’t wait for the NY response ads in Texas pushing our superior health care system and Ebola-unfriendly climate.

 Shock & Awe

Texans are partial to shock and awe solutions. What happens when there’s evidence that vermin checked out the vomit in the parking lot from the Ebola victim and ticks in Texas are infected with Ebola? The clear solution will be to evacuate the area and bomb the infected wildlife to oblivion.

Another Angle

Assuming you are not in favor of either of the above ideas you might want to contribute to the CDC’s nonprofit foundation to study Ebola (Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever) in the wild and to help ramp up the response efforts.


Graduation Mass Photos

Posted in Family Legends at 8:59 am

Drag your mouse over the slides to stop the show. (These photos have been extensively edited in PhotoShop (R) and then the resolution is really reduced. If you want the originals so you can play with them, let me know.[widgets_on_pages id=1]


The Party Photos

Posted in Family Legends at 7:52 am

I got the pictures back Tuesday of the Saturday party from Studio 6 Photography, in Englewood, NJ.

David, the owner & photographer, gave me the best deal – I get all the digital photos and the raw video CD. If I want pictures or finished video later, he’ll produce them at a very reasonable charge. I got them fast and at a great price. (It generally takes 2-3 times as long to process the videos and photos as it does to take them.) Best of all, Dave is such a great photgrapher that all but 2 out of 411 were already framed beautifully, perfectly exposed and completely in focus. (One of the two he repeated the shot immediately and the second was during an action scene of the murder mystery – simple cropping will make it perfect.)


How to Have the Best Kid Celebration Ever

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:03 am

I run a lot of events and was a bit bored with the candle lighting/testimonials of the typical kid coming-of-age party. In this case it was a Bar Mitzvah but I’ve done these for a Sweet Sixteen and seen them at Confirmations and Bat Mitzvahs too. Plus, my son hates to dance.

I decided to experiment. First, instead of the typical event hall, I held it at a local restaurant – The Harvest Restaurant in Closter, NJ. I’ll go into much more detail later, but their food and service were the best I’d ever seen. Not only were they incredibly nice and helpful – many guests reported that their meal arrived hot and perfectly cooked. These were not polite compliments – these people help me run charity auctions (or I help them) and we are well aware that the far tables get food a bit overdone.

 Remember that I said that my son hates to dance? (Too many Barclay Dance lessons in his youth?) A DJ was out. A frKilling Kompany actorsiend recommended a murder mystery by The Killing Kompany . They’re based in NY but they cover the whole tri-state area. Five actors mingled with the guests and put on the funniest show between courses. They involved people from every table, turning the lamest responses into witty repartee. Nothing was the least embarrassing (well, except for one young man who had an encounter with the vamp – I hope he’s not traumatized for life – I think I’ll give his mother the video clip of it for his wedding.)

Great food and novel entertainment aimed at the entire family (not just the kids) made this the best party ever. I’ll write more on the details later but this was definitely a winning formula.


School Busing As a Private Enterprise

Posted in Just A Thought at 9:05 am

I recently switched my child to the local middle school at the sleepy town I live in and immediately developed an appreciation for why the town had spent so much for traffic studies. At the start and end of the school day the town center is paralyzed with traffic. Almost everyone in town has to get their kids to town themselves since the town is barely bigger than the distance public buses are mandated.

Some parents carpool but the inclination of teenagers to sleep in and the variety of after school activities often makes this difficult. My son was anxious after 4 days of driving to bike the 2 miles to school himself. (A great solution if the parents driving their kids to school don’t hit him.)

Maybe new technology (Twitter/internet/GPS), private jitney buses and enterprising parents can help. If the town/school can establish bus routes along a few main roads, vetted drivers can pick up students waiting at designated stops for a dollar or two. Drivers can Twitter their planned start times for a route so riders can plan their arrivals. With a little more work, riders can twitter their need for a driver.

Will Jitney (small bus) drivers participate?
I’m talking with companies to be sure, but buses drive people over the George Washington bridge for $1.25-$1.35. If there is enough interest they’ll be able to make money here.

How would parent’s participate?
Research is needed on legal pitfalls, but the HSA could run this as a fund raiser. Volunteer drivers would get photograph certificates and a car decal after proving they have a licensed, insured car and a clean driving record. The HSA could sell tickets. Half of the proceeds could be used to buy gift cards that drivers could buy with the tickets they collect. Again, participating drivers would Twitter before the start of their runs allowing riders to plan their rides.

Who could ride?
Encourgaing the whole community to use the rides all day – particularly to the center of town, senior center, library and community centers. At least initially it probably shouldn’t be directed at elementary children.


Afghanistan is a Slightly Post-medieval Tribal Culture?

Posted in Just A Thought at 3:16 pm

Wasn’t fostering a way to forge relationships in the middle ages?

Instead of spiraling troops upward in Afghanistan, wouldn’t it make more sense to invite a child (12 years old?) from each family to spend a year in the US with a host family? Ideally you’d have a representative from every family here to be able to go back and talk about where the US is coming from in it’s ideas.  With luck, it will be seen as so desirable that you may be able to offer every child of tribal leaders a chance for their year in the US.

Concentrate on English as a second language in school. If they lack basic schooling, have them assist in kindergarten or first grade classes while their American peers are studying core subjects.  Have them rejoin their peers for gym, music, art.  I’d make it clear that the child will accompany the host family to their religious services each week although the child would be assisted in their religious observances.  Try to get the children involved in community soccer or other sports leagues.  A reccommended number of museum trips and a required visit to an amusement park should make the year one that will make an impact their entire life.


6th Grade Items

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:11 pm

Items of interest to the 6th grade are under pages to the right.

 I’ve just added the Greek Scrapbook handout and the protocol for sending in food.

Finally, the teachers noted that a resturant is serving a fixed-price medieval dinner this month ($48 + tax,tip & beverages)

The New Leaf in Ft Tyrone Park in Washington Heights,near the Cloisters. 212 568-5323

Each week has a different theme (Geman/Italian;English) so be sure to call for details.


Venice 1949

Posted in Family Legends, Uncategorized at 4:20 pm

In 1949 my father and two friends traveled by motorcycle from England, through Paris, Briancon and ultimately to Venice. Since my son is in Venice now I decided to post the pictures from the 1949 trip (most bought at the tourist stands).

Grand Canal – The Regatta

Grand Canal - The Regatta

St Marks Church

St Marks Church

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

St Marks Bassin & General View

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin & General View

St Marks Bassin

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin (Nottemo)


Where was this photo taken?

Posted in Family Legends at 8:43 am

Stan Dowler & 2 friends went on a trip from England to Italy after WWII.  Any clue where this could possibly be?

Mystery Location


Silent Auction Process

Posted in Running A Non-profit Auction at 8:06 pm

It’s the night of the Auction. The room is glamorous, people are having a good time, everyone admires the items. Just one small problem – you need to start closing and no one has bid. Don’t panic.  People know they’re at the auction to give money to your cause but they like a bargain too. They are going to bid at last moment. Extending the time does not change this dynamic – it just ruins the dinner.

Closing The Auction

Watch for the bid sheet filling up for hot items. Additional sheets should be added to this item and carefully labeled page 2, 3 etc. Also keep an eye on the location of bid sheets. Sometimes bidders pick up the clip boards to read and place them down at some distance from the item.  This will confuse other bidders and result in lower bids.

Unless you have fewer than 60 items, close the auction in sections.  Give a five minute warning, a 1 minute warning and a countdown. Make it a very slow countdown if there is a bidding war going on.  Your object is to allow everyone to give as much money as they want to for an item without dragging the affair on all night.  

When the announcer says section X is closed, carefully trained volunteers should place a line in the space under the last name of those items in the closed section.  Make sure the volunteers know which section is being closed and only mark items in that section.  Bid sheets should be collected immediately and taken to the computer person.  Empty clip boards should be removed and packed in boxes.

This should be repeated at approximately five minute intervals for the remaining items.

Preparing Items To Be  Claimed

As soon as the guests clear the room the administration team needs to pack away all props (you don’t want winners to think the props are part of the prize and take them home) and pack all items in their boxes or protective bubble-wrap envelops.  Any packing for items should be under the table that has the item on it.  If the items are not in numeric order they should be moved into numeric order. Tables should be labeled with a range of paddle numbers to allow for assembled items to be placed in numeric order by winning paddle number.

Preparing Packing Slips

Meanwhile the computer person and their partner will be entering all the winning bids into the computer. (Don’t forget the program must be in Auction Mode under Settings.)The computer person enters the item number, paddle number and winning bid into the program. If the bid sheet has a letter on the bottom, multiple winners should be entered – B= top 2 winners; C = top 3 winners, etc. As each bid is entered the bid sheet is passed to the partner and filed in numeric order.

As soon as all bids are entered the packing slips are printed.  it is fastest to print in groups of 10. As soon as packing slips start to print they should be passed to the packing team to assemble the winners’ items.

Once the packing slips start printing note the total of the silent auction and send it to the Live Auction Chair.

Preparing Invoices

Once all the packing lists have been printed the invoice header should be changed from packing list to Winner’s Copy under invoice format header and a second complete set should be printed. Asssuming odd paddle numbers were given to those who have a credit card on file, place a sticker on the odd buyers thanking them for leaving their credit card on file and asking them to go directly to item pickup. If the winner only has gift certificates, the gift certificates should be attached to the  invoice.  Fold the invoice in thirds so that the name shows. The invoices should be kept in piles for each table.

 Then the Winner’s Copy should be changed to Cashier Copy and all even bidder number invoices should be printed. These invoices should have the payment information stickers placed on them and then folded in thirds so that the name shows and the Cashier Copy is on top.  As soon as all invoices for a table are prepared they should be delivered to the table unless the live auction has started. If it has already started they should be arranged on a table between the dining area and the cashier in numeric order.

Taking Payments

The cashier should encourage people to fill out the payment information before they get to the cashier table. Confirm credit card numbers are legible and all information is clearly filled out and that a MasterCard or Visa (not American Express) . Staple checks or cash to the invoice.  If someone who has left their credit card number on file wishes to to make alternate payment arrangements, place a sticker on their packing invoice  and take the alternate payment.

Item Pickup

Winners show their invoice to the packing team (the packing team should not care if they paid – just make sure they take their items.) who will fetch their items from the assembly area. It may be necessary to assist some winners to their car with their items.