A Lesson from the Mighty Zambezi River

This summer we had the opportunity to travel to Zimbabwe (by way of Zambia) and spend a few days in Victoria Falls with 7/8 of our children. The falls are incredible – with seemingly endless amounts of water!

Interestingly, being on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, each country owns part of the falls. Zambia owns 75% while Zimbabwe only owns 25%.

This would seem to be an advantage for Zambia – owning 3X as much as their neighbor…

But it’s actually not. Because to enjoy the falls you need to gaze across and see them! So Zimbabwe is actually more fortunate – able to see 3X as much of the falls as Zambia.

I have often found that the best way to appreciate a delicious chocolate bar is to share it with someone else – and I am certain that I get more enjoyment from their loving it than I would if I ate it all myself!


Mean Guys & Good Guys

A few years ago when my two eldest sons were little kids my mom once commented that when they were playing they were talking about ‘Good Guys’ who were fighting ‘Mean Guys’. She commented that usually kids talk about Good Guys and Bad Guys.

I always thought Good and Mean were good opposites.

A few days ago I realized why.

Calling them ‘bad guys’ doesn’t give you enough information – it implies that perhaps its not their fault, maybe it’s just an undeserved label.

‘Mean guys’ on the other hand, deserve what they get. Their crime is in their poor behavior.

So we’re sticking to Mean Guys – seems like they deserve whatever the Good Guys dish out anyway…

Collecting candies at shul – business behavior parallels

At synagogue (shul) yesterday there were two Bar Mitzvahs – and after each of the boys had their “aliyah” the boys were showered (pelted?) with candies. Fun stuff!
From my vantage point off to the side I noticed that different kids prepared themselves and conducted themselves in different ways and I took some mental notes.
After which it occurred to me that these kids were exhibiting the same types of behaviors that I see in the business world. See my notes below:

1) Some kids got to the center area of the shul several minutes early (non-procrastinators)
– of these, some seemed to have chosen a strategic spot (planners)
– others just plopped themselves down anywhere (followers)
2) Playing the odds
– most kids went for the prime area where there is maximum candy and maximum competition. (Competing for the #5 spot)
– some stayed on the periphery, probably figuring there would be less competition (Choosing a market Segment to dominate)
3) Some kids had a plan of how to maximize their take (businessmen)
– Partnerships with other kids (corporate types)
– Using other objects to catch the toffees (inventors)
4) When the candies started to fall
– some waited for the candies to fall into their hands (9-5 job getter)
– some got down on the floor and searched for the sweets after they were already on the ground (eyes open for better opportunities)
– some tried to track the trajectories of specific clusters of falling treats and plan accordingly (entrepreneurs)
5) When all candies had fallen..
– Some kids actually threw some of theirs – (conspicuous consumption)
– Some kids shared their candies with people who didn’t get as many (philanthropy)
– Some kids horded their candy but kept quiet about it (The millionaire next door)
– Some kids flaunted their candy but didn’t share (not my kid, I hope…)

Interestingly it doesn’t end there…

6) Spending
– Some kids ate all of their candies within a few minutes (instant gratifiers)
– Some rationed them out slowly (rationers)
– Some went outside to compete in a game of throwing candies closest to a set point (gamblers)

Not sure of the pedagogical or scientific ramifications of any of this – but I did spot one or two kids who I may want as summer interns in a couple of years…..

Shhhhh! the President is sleeping!

paris 283
For our trip to Paris 2 weeks ago we used Priceline to get 2 rooms at the HILTON Arc de Triomphe for $225/night per room.
Excellent hotel – very recommended. (The theoretical price posted on the inside of the door was a whopping €1,500/night!)
Anyway, across the hall from our room we noticed 2 African men who seemed to be present all of the time. We eventually asked them who they were, only they didn’t speak French or English. (as if my French would have allowed for a meaningful conversation about anything other than ‘the pencil is on the table’…)

It turned out that they were from a country called Guinea Bissau, in Africa. As far as I know it’s the only country in Africa that I had never heard of. Bordering with Senegal, Guinea Bissau is a former Portuguese colony with a population of 1.5 Million. Turns out the President was staying across the hall and this was his security. There seemed to be additional security people in the lobby including French ‘Inspector Clouseau’ lookalikes.

Daniel, my 13 year old says to me ‘Abba, it’s a nice Hotel, but shouldn’t the President be staying somewhere nicer?’ I think the president doesn’t know about Priceline… Anyway I told my wife that if I am ever president I will want to at least get a room on an executive floor with a 24-hour lounge stocked with grapes and butter cookies…

Well, staying across from the President has certain advantages. Firstly, we were able to leave our double stroller in the hall instead of folding it up – we had guards around the clock.. Also it was very effective in getting the kids to quiet down at night – shhhhh! the president is sleeping. You know what they do to kids who don’t quiet down outside the president’s home in Guinea Bissau? You don’t want to know…

Just before setting out for the airport we told the guards we wanted to meet the president. He was happy to meet us and get his picture taken with us – he even gave me a high five as he exclaimed “Guinea Bissau” – as if it was the name of our favorite hockey team! It may have been the first time that a head of state gave me a high five.

Before parting with my new friend I said the blessing reserved for the occasion of meeting a king or ruler. I had explained to Mr. President that we were from Israel and that we were thrilled to meet him. I also told him about the blessing I was going to say. He gave me another high five.

We had wanted to invite the president to visit us in Israel – but did not get a chance. If the president or any of his buddies are listening please let me know – we are always happy to have the president as our guest!
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