Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Self-Promote -- Without Being Sleazy (Advice for Self-Published Authors)

Self-promotion is a necessary evil for anyone starting a business. Here's how to do it so you don't seem like you've sold out.
How to self promote -- without being sleazy

The biggest obstacle I had to overcome as a first-time start-up founder was the discomfort I felt about brazenly promoting my own business. And I’m not the only one. I’ve talked with quite a few other founders who feel the same. But in a world full of businesses trying to get attention, you need to get the word out there.
Of course it is ideal to have non-related parties evangelizing your product, but there are a plethora of great products launched daily and few of them break through the noise. Many products well-established today spent much of their early days tooting their own horn.
First of all, I understand why many people find self-promotion difficult:
  1. It feels skeevy. Nobody likes a braggart. I was told as a young girl, “Let your accomplishments speak for themselves.”
  2. You’ll lose followers. Related to the first point, many people find self-promotion to be in bad taste.
  3. It seems unauthentic. If you’re so great, why isn’t everybody talking about you?
This is deeply rooted in the human psyche. According to Psychology Today, “research has demonstrated that there is a clear trade-off to being seen as more competent and being liked.” Those that sit back and wait for others to speak up for them are seen as less competent. The article also highlights that friends are more likely to feel uncomfortable with your self-promotion than strangers.
But why would your friends be uncomfortable with your success? Alain de Botton says it best in Status Anxiety:
It is the feeling that we might be something other than what we are—a feeling transmitted by the superior achievements of those we take to be our equals—that generates anxiety and resentment.”
When the success of your peers exceeds your own, you naturally compare yourself and feel envy. Of course, it’s not up to you to protect your friends’ feelings—you have a business to build. But when faced with the choice between making accomplishments known or keeping friends, most would feel heartless if they chose to brag a bit. But there are ways to toot your own horn tastefully (and keep your friends):
  1. Tell the story of the struggle behind the success. Great! You won an award or got funding or the like. Show how hard you worked and the obstacles you needed to overcome to achieve this milestone. It’ll soften the blow for those who are still in the middle of a struggle.
  2. Be excited, but be humbled. It pays to throw an ‘aw shucks’ into a news broadcast. I’ve watched many peers do this brilliantly. “We just launched our beta. It’s really rough, but I’d love your feedback.”
  3. Give credit where credit is due. When you are promoting, it helps to acknowledge the support and advice of people you are close with. “If it weren’t for those late-night chats, I would have never gotten through the rough parts.”
  4. Enlist the help of your friends to get the word out. Maybe your friends are tired of hearing you talk incessantly about your start-up, but have you ever sat down with them to get them on board? Asking for help shows your friends that you need them.
Whether you are announcing a milestone achieved or just trying to get the word out about your product, it is your job to promote your company in the early days. Make sure you do it well.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ingredients of a Revolution


Take decades to centuries of autocratic rule by an individual, family, political party or religious group.

Add suppression of political dissent

Mix with unemployment levels ranging from 15-70%

Turn up the heat even the slightest bit, and you have the political, social and economic circumstances that make a country ripe for revolution.

It happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, and led to the Arab Spring we all witnessed. Journalists have started to take note of the conditions that prime a country for revolt -- basically, when life gets cheap enough that deciding to risk or sacrifice one's life becomes a reasonable choice -- and have begun discussing which country will be next: Angola? Morocco? Jordan? Why don't the dictators ever notice (although Syria's Assad certainly seems to be aware, though he's raising rather than lowering the temperature) that they've created the elements of the perfect storm?

Meanwhile, the U.S. makes the mistake of moving in to help countries become 'democratic' when what we really need to do is let these countries overthrow their own dictators by themselves, and provide economic support for the rebuilding rather than the destruction. As Simon Winchester pointed out in Krakatoa, after the volcano destroyed much of Indonesia, it was the Muslims who came in to help the population rebuild. And what country has the largest Muslim population in the world? I'm just saying.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Wisdom of a Teenager with Cancer

This morning, I went for my annual exam at Scripps Clinic, and while I was having my blood drawn to check my cholesterol, I turned my head away from the needle to read a poem that was posted on the wall. It was written by a teenager with cancer.


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading light?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask 'how are you?' do you hear a reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in bed with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child 'we'll do it tomorrow'?
And in your haste not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die, cause you never had time to call up and say 'Hi'

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race,
Do take it slower.
Hear the music,
Before the song is over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


He had to be forced out of the womb and into the world, and for much of his life I didn't think Jesse would ever want to leave home. As a young teen, he had planned to attend UCSD for college, live at home, skateboard to school and come home for lunch every day.

Then music took over, and he couldn't help but fulfill fans wishes to have the band, Witt, tour internationally. He started planning the tour when he was 17 (but his bandmates' moms didn't let their sons travel at that age; not that he asked our permission -- he just told us what he had planned). It was another year before they could go, but for 3 weeks over the winter of 2010-2011, Jesse, Henry & Evan took Witt on the road, touring throughout Germany (where they're progressive in their musical tastes, surprising considering they like David Hasselhoff and are now planning a Rocky musical), Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and maybe a few other countries, too. Once Jesse came back (and he had booked all the venues, coordinated publicity, figured out how they were going to get from one venue to another -- each was a 4-5 hour drive away from the previous one), he expressed his desire to live in Germany for 6 months. And in January he's going to Kenya to teach music (but that'll be the subject of another post).

For now, enjoy this slide show of photos of my little boy, from birth to age 21, a little boys whose birth had to be induced because he was late and his father couldn't stick around indefinitely, but once he found his legs, he hasn't stopped running....

He is one amazing dude

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Don't Know How He Does It

People who know me know that I'm exceedingly proud of bothy of my boys, and the remarkable young men they are becoming. Today I have the opportunity to crow about something that my younger son, Jesse, is doing for a very good cause: The Che Cafe Benefit, which is planned to save the under-21 music venue on the University of California, San Diego, campus. The venue is the rare community space where kids under the age of 21 can perform and gather to listen to music. Many successful San Diego bands got their start here, but the Cafe needs to raise $12,000 to make an insurance premium payment that will allow it to stay open.

Jesse isn't the only person who has organized this benefit, or others that have taken place, but this will be the largest benefit concert -- to take place over 3 days: January 6-8, 2012. Just yesterday, the lineup began to be introduced. Go to to watch the lineup be revealed and, if you feel like it, donate to the cause.

Without intending to, Jesse is living the spirit of his great-grandfather, Jacob Marateck, aka "The Accidental Anarchist," in that he has the strength of his convictions and the courage to stand up for them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jews in Hollywood

Last week, I read an article in Heeb Magazine about  Elliott Gould, Brooklyn Boy, Hollywood Legend,
who said, in the context of discussing "Hollywood's Jew Wave" in late 1960s and early 1970s, "I think it’s difficult enough to be a Jew in this world and it always has been.” It prompted thoughts of my late father, Shimon Wincelberg, the first Orthodox writer in Hollywood. He used to tell a story about his first experience in Hollywood, which could also have been his last. And it echoes what Mr. Gould says about it not being easy to be a Jew, despite the fact that many people think that Hollywood is 'run' by Jews.

My father was summoned to meet with Darryl Zanuck, the legendary producer — on a Friday night. My father told Zanuck’s disconcerted assistant that he couldn’t meet on Friday night because it was the Sabbath. She didn’t want to bring the news to Mr. Zanuck, to whom no one said ‘no.’

After hanging up the phone, my father turned to my mother and said, “We might as well stop unpacking and move back to NY. I’ve just ended my career in Hollywood.”

But surprisingly, the phone rang a few minutes later; it was Zanuck’s secretary, this time asking, “Would it be ‘convenient’ for you to meet with Mr. Zanuck on Sunday?” My father’s point was that people respected others who had the strength of their convictions and didn’t complain about the fact that their religion ‘prevented’ them from doing something they wanted to do.

My father once got a call from an actor who was required to film a scene on the Sabbath, and didn’t know what to do. My father asked, “How much would it cost to film on Sunday, instead.” The actor replied, “$10,000.” My father said, “Then tell them you’ll pay $10,000 to film on Sunday, instead.” The director realized the actor was serious about not being able to film on Saturday, and changed the filming schedule.
Of course, my father occasionally liked to go out of his way to emphasize his ‘Jewishness.’ Also early in his career, when someone (an agent?) recommended that he change his first name because Simon sounded “too Jewish.” He agreed, and changed it to ‘Shimon.’

In spite of this, Mr. Gould is also right that there are plenty of people who would be happy to see Jews gone from Hollywood, just as many would like us to see us gone from Wall Street, medicine and law (all professions that Jews wound up in because they were prevented from being in the metalworking and woodworking guilds back in the 1600s). It's one reason some people don't believe, and resent Jews referring to themselves as "2% of the U.S. population." How can that be when we seem to be overrepresented in certain fields (but not only the top fields; apparently more than 2% of U.S. Federal prison inmates are Jewish). What must be true is a statement attributed to Jackie Mason: "Jews are like everyone else -- only more so."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Nephew, Eliyahu, the Fire Eater!

 Don't try this at home!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This past Saturday was the launch for my publishing company, Crosswalk Press's, second book. Cook the Part was created by Karin Eastham, former CFO of The Burnham Institute. Her book is a new type of cookbook that focuses on "team cooking," that is dinner parties prepared by groups of 8-12 people. Gather a group of friends and cook together, or schedule a team-building event focused on cooperation in the kitchen. The event was held at the Fairbanks Ranch Clubhouse.

In keeping with the theme of the book, many of us prepared dishes from the cookbooks for all the guests to enjoy. I made chocolate chipotle brownies from Cook the Part. The brownies are sweet, contain beer-soaked raisins, and have a slight hint of spiciness. Left, Patty Mekita with Cook the Part apple struesel cake. Yum.

Karin spoke about making the transition from the Boardroom to the Kitchen sooner than the 10 year plan she had announced in 2008. Here she is welcoming her guests, flanked by her husband, Gary, the great man behind the great woman.

The unique artwork created for the book was done by Salt Lake City artist Traci O'Very Covey, who flew in for the event.
And a good time was had by all!

Crosswalk Press' next book will be The Bitch and the Glass Ceiling: Shattering Through with Respect-Centric Leadership, by Rhonda F. Rhyne. Coming in 2012. Here, below, are my 2 partners in Crosswalk Press: Rhonda Rhyne (left), and Karin Eastham.

Stay tuned for Rhonda's book launch in 2012.

Photos by Patty Mekita

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Report from the Symposium on Moral Courage

This past weekend, I attended the Initiative for MoralCourage’s first Symposium at SDSU. It opened with “The Rescuers,” a photographic exhibit with statements from people who assisted targets of the Nazis, and the genocides of Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia. Leora Kahn, a Fellow in the Genocide Studies Center at Yale University who organized the exhibit, discussed the criteria for being identified as a “Rescuer.” The exhibit and the program use the same standards as those used at Yad Vashem, a “living memorial to the Holocaust,” located in Jerusalem. To be considered a Rescuer, the individual cannot have gained from his actions, received any money, or have killed anyone while protecting the persecuted. There was also a discussion of What constitutes Moral Courage? whether it involves standing up to academic fraud, military rule, or the expectations of the establishment. It is a matter of not asking permission to do the right thing.

The following day, investigative author Edwin Black, author of the “The War Against the Weak,” (he also wrote “IBM and the Holocaust”), revealed that the eugenics movement that Hitler institutionalized in Nazi Germany was developed in the U.S. with the support of Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the American Medical Association, etc. The ‘plan’ for this program was to eliminate the bottom 10% of the population (based on a biased test of intelligence) to create a better society. In this program, poverty was considered a genetic trait that needed to be eliminated through forced sterilization and even plans for a gas chamber. Not only chilling, but frightening that this fact is so little known.

Black’s talk was followed by one about the Armenian Genocide, given by Dr. Richard Houvannisian at UCLA. He noted that the Holocaust is the only genocide that has entered into human (as opposed to ethnic) history, and history books, while that of the Armenians by the Turks is little known. It is still a crime in Turkey to talk about the Armenian genocide.

As I listened to each of these talks, which was followed by one about the African Genocides, and the talk of “Rescuers,” I realized that when my father’s family escaped from Germany in 1938, they, too, had been hidden by their neighbors for about 6 weeks, and I had never asked about who those people were. My father passed away 7 years ago, but his two younger sisters are still living, so I emailed one of them to ask if she knew the names of those neighbors. Although I have not yet heard back, I expect that she was too young to know their names. If, by chance, she or my other aunt remember any of the people who had protected them, I want to track down their descendents to thank them. I can’t believe that it never occurred to me to ask.

Are there people who protected some one in your family in a similar way? Ask, and let’s find those people who, at their own risk, did what they felt was right and just, without any expectation of return, not even acknowledgement, but shouldn’t we recognize those individuals who had the Moral Courage to do what was right?

"The Rescuers" exhibit will be open for public viewing until November 24 at SDSU's Love Library.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stuff Your Face -- and Feed Someone Else's Belly, Too

In my spare time, I work to promote Mama's Kitchen, a San Diego non-profit organization that prepares and delivers nutritious meals for critically ill San Diegans who are physically, emotionally, or financially, unable to provide for themselves. The need for this service became apparent when Mama’s Kitchen predecessor, the AIDS Assistance Fund, observed that immuno-compromised patients were dying of malnutrition before their immune systems failed.  

Since 1990, Mama’s Kitchen has provided three meals a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year, to clients who have been referred by their case managers or physicians, and has now delivered over 5 million meals. The program not only provides balanced nutrition -- for some AIDS and cancer patients, the volunteers who deliver their meals may be the only human interaction.

Mama's Kitchen relies on volunteers and contributions, and one of its most popular programs is the annual Pie-in-the-Sky fundraiser. Over 20 local restaurants, hotels and caterers are donating hundreds of pumpkin, pecan, apple and sugar-free apple pies for Mama's Kitchen to sell for $20 each for Thanksgiving. The pies, which must be ordered in advance, will be available for pickup at 20 convenient pickup sites around San Diego county the day before Thanksgiving. That $20 is enough to provide 6 meals to those individuals who depend upon Mama's Kitchen for their sustenance.

If getting a delicious pie baked by one of San Diego's fine bakers -- including The French Gourmet, the San Diego Culinary Institute, Jenny Wenny Cakes, Twiggs Bakery and Coffeehouse, JRDN and the Andaz hotel among others -- and supporting Mama's Kitchen weren't enough, this year, if you order your pie by November 1, you'll also automatically be entered to win a set of Sam the Cooking Guy's cookbooks, which he will personalize for you.

Make your, or your host's, Thanksgiving a little easier and more delicious with a pie from one of Mama's Kitchen generous bakers by ordering at And while you feast, someone who otherwise wouldn't have food will be able to eat, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Initiative for Moral Courage

I had the opportunity to sit down with Jackie Gmach, a dynamic woman with a passion for education that can change lives and possibly change the world. This native of Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, founded the San Diego Jewish Book Fair, now one of the largest Jewish Book Fairs in the country.

She 'retired' last year, but in name, only, as she has now brought an even greater vision to life in a new program, The Initiative forMoral Courage (IMC), which is holding its first Symposium from October 24-November 2, 2011 in San Diego. Most of the events of the Symposium are free, and open to the public.

Gmach has assembled an International Advisory Board whose names and affiliations point to the recognized importance of identifying, acknowledging and celebrating the actions of individuals who uphold moral and ethical standards, even at risk to their own lives. Their examples could inspire others to take a stand, too.

The Initiative, whose home is at San Diego State University, includes among its partners SDSU's Jewish Studies Program and Department of Religious Studies, which is offering an Honors program on Moral Courage in what may become a new course of study.

The idea grew out a model at Yad Vashem in Israel, the world center for the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. Since 1962, Yad Vashem has recognized the actions of non-Jews who, at great personal risk, saved the lives of European Jews. They are honored with the title “Righteous Among the Nations”.

The Initiative for Moral Courage focuses on “The New Righteous”, those who, in the recent past as well as today, saved the lives of the oppressed out of the strength of their convictions and moral courage. Modern history has presented several such opportunities, including the genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cambodia, some of which will be discussed during the Symposium. “It is important for society to recognize those righteous individuals who emerge,” said Gmach, “as their efforts ensure that incidents like the Holocaust can never occur, again.” The Initiative will examine a range of issues related to the subject of moral courage under the broader rubric of contemporary global ethics.

The objective of the Initiative for Moral Courage is both modest and ambitious: "If just one person who attends the Symposium or studies moral courage has the strength to stand up for what is moral and just, whatever the cause, then we will have achieved our goal," said Gmach. Is that intention too humble? No, because a single righteous individual has the power to save many times his own number, as well as inspire others to do the same. At a time in our history when suffering is all around us and we may feel helpless to change the status quo, it is important to recognize those individuals who have the moral courage to take a stand. 

The Symposium opens October 24 with an exhibition of The Rescuers, a photographic exhibit that will be on display on the main floor of the SDSU library throughout the Symposium. The exhibit consists of extraordinary stories about ordinary heroes "who resisted overwhelming tides of prejudice and violence to risk their lives saving members from enemy groups. It helps to understand the presence of rescue behavior during genocide or mass violence.” Wednesday, October 26, will feature a musical program: Music and Resistance, based upon melodies from a 1931 cantor's book that was found in an abandoned synagogue in Romania. The Rescuers exhibit will be available for viewing through November 2. 

The main event, The Symposium on Genocides, Past and Present, will take place on Sunday, October 30, from 1:00-5:15 p.m., and will feature speakers on the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the African Genocide. It will conclude with reflections on the Symposium by Leora Kahn, Fellow at the
Center for Genocide Studies at Yale University, and Dr. Stephen Smith, Director of the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California.

The Symposium is FREE and open to the public. For further information, please contact: Jackie Gmach, Community Outreach Director,, 858-382-3254, or visit for detailed information.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yom Kipper Reflections

Today was Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, a day on which we conclude 10 days of repentance for our sins of the previous year . It is also a day on which we particularly remember our lost loved one through the prayer, Yizkor.

When I was a kid, parents always shooed their children out of the Synagogue when it was time to recite the prayer because it was deemed frightening for children to see adults cry. And for most of my adult life it was not a prayer I said. This year, in addition to remembering my father who passed away 7 years ago, I remembered my nephew, Ilan Tokayer, who was taken from us this part March, at the age of 25. Although I had shed many tears over him when I learned he had passed away and since then, a poem I read today in the prayerbook brought back the loss that his family and friends still feel:

We Remember Them, by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer,
At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them....

When people have real influence in life, their memory never leaves us, unlike the way we sometimes realize that we don't know if certain celebrities who once glowed brightly are dead or alive. But Ilan made a difference in his short life, which was easy to discern by the fact that 1000 people came to his funeral in New Jersey, and another 1000 people came to his burial in Israel.

What made me think about Ilan's legacy was the recent death of Steve Jobs, whose influence everyone has been commemorating over the past few days. The words I heard used most frequently used to describe him were "visionary" and "relentless," and his effect on society is undeniable. Although there were exceptions, few people talked about Jobs' impact as a human being, as a husband, father, or close friend. I don't point this out to detract anything from the famously private Jobs; I only mention it to highlight that the gentle soul who was Ilan left a different king of lasting influence.

Much as Steve Jobs' frequently quoted speech to the graduates of Stanford exhorts us to consider, at every moment, whether we are doing what we want to be doing with our lives, the memory of Ilan exhorts me, and the many people he touched, to ask ourselves Are we living the life of the kind of human being we can be proud to be? Ilan touched many peoples' lives, but he touched them all individually, and on different levels -- emotional, spiritual, creative, and many others. And I suspect that the people who were privileged to know him will keep asking ourselves the question of whether we're living up to the model he exemplified of what a human being can become, and how he changed the world.

In remembering Ilan, I'd like to cite one more poem, this from Hannah Senesh: "There are stars whose light reaches the earth only after they themselves have disintegrated. And there are individuals whose memory lights the world after they have passed from it. These lights shine in the darkest night and illumine for us the path."

Friday, September 23, 2011


From now through the Jewish Holidays, buy a copy of The Accidental Anarchist from my website and get a coupon with instructions to download the ebook FREE. Give a signed copy of the book as a gift and keep the ebook for yourself, or keep both!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Know How He Does It

I don't find enough time to finish all the things that I need to do, so how is it that my son, Jesse, can accomplish everything that needs to be done -- and then some? In addition to being a full-time student at NYU Tisch's @CliveDavisInst of Recorded Music (and he doesn't miss class), and a full-time musician (composer, performer, arranger, orchestrator, band manager and business manager for multiple bands; see, he also found time to organize a fundraiser for UCSD's Che Cafe, a performance venue in San Diego that Jesse calls a "creativity inspiring space," where a lot of bands get their start.

Che Cafe is on the verge of being shut down unless it can raise $12,000 by March to pay its insurance premium, so Jesse has arranged for a 3-night music festival, with a different genre of music to be performed each night, to beheld January 6-8, 2011. To make a donation, go to checafebenefit at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Modern Application of String Theory

My kids always accused me of circumlocution, of talking around a point before getting to the point, and I'm about to prove them correct again.

This weekend, I attended Tedx La Jolla, during which one speaker described the 'strings' of string theory as tiny particles that vibrate, and through those vibrations connect to each other. That led me into a conversation with someone about 'energy,' and how one can feel that energy in certain circumstances and know that it will affect the outcome. On a very plebian level, I can tell you that I felt it on the occasion of my son's last high school football game. When the team ran out onto the field, I didn't feel a confident energy, an energy that would have led them to win, and they didn't.

Not long after Tedx, I received an email about a Prayer Circle, or Healing Service to be held tonight for a friend, Jan, with glioblastoma (GBM), who will undergo her 2nd brain surgery tomorrow morning. This Healing Service called for women to come together to pray for our friend's health, safety and ultimate recovery with the goal of transmitting that energy, filled with positive thoughts and wishes, to Jan.

My intellectual energy was there, and my emotional energy was there, but I didn't have the spiritual energy that many other people in attendance had, but I hope that the prayers, hopes and wishes of over 100 women, some of whom don't even know Jan (including the woman I was talking to at Tedx about energy and string theory) will help her through tomorrow's surgery and her recovery over the weeks, months and hopefully years to come.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kensington Library Talk

I had a great time speaking at the Kensington Library in San Diego this past weekend. It wasn't a large audience,  but a very well-read one (as you might expect) with a particular interest in history. They enjoyed hearing about my grandfather being an "eyewitness to history."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Having One of Those Intensely Frustrating Days When Everything Goes Wrong

The last straw was a call for which I needed to look up my account number. No problem. Except that I had so many damn windows open on my computer that it was running ungodly slowly. And the more I tried to shut down programs to free up memory, the more it got locked up.

The kicker was that just as I got the website to open, Verizon dropped my call!

Times like these I know I should just call it a day and go for a walk, but now I'm further behind in everything I was trying to do.

My sympathies to everyone who has experienced the same.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Catching Up

I've been away for a few weeks, so I've been remiss in updating the blog. But the first thing I want to report on is my niece's wedding in Florida, which I attended a little over a week ago. She's the daughter of my youngest brother, an ultra-orthodox rabbi and teacher in Miami, and is the oldest daughter of 5 kids (her younger brother just had his bar mitzvah about a month ago). Naturally, I had to try hard to fit in, wearing a longish (below the knees) dress with a sweater because it was sleeveless). I more or less got by, but no one there made me feel out of place; in fact, they seemed quite happy that I attended, even people whom I hadn't met before (but many of whom recognized me from my picture on the back of the book. I was surprised that so many people attending the wedding had read it, especially since my mother had considered it too "sexy" to be read by my nieces (who don't show the slightest indication of having been corrupted by reading it).

It was about 23 years ago that I attended my brother's wedding in Florida in much the same setting. At the time, my oldest son was only 9 months old, and I hadn't yet had a full night's sleep since he'd been born. I remember taking him into the bathroom in the synagogue to change his diaper (he had been wearing a very cute, red white and blue knit sailor suit, with a beret that had a pom-pom on top, for some reason) and a woman who walked in began to kvell (Yiddish word for 'delight') when she saw him. And she immediately asked when I was going to have the next one. I told her I couldn't imagine having another one any time soon because the first was so hard. She agreed, and said, "I know; I have 13. And yes, the first 6 were hard." (Her point being that after 6 children, the kids raised each other).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fascinating Analysis of the Brain on Musical Improvision

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scenes for my talk to the Beth Jacob Sisterhood in Beverly Hills

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Carmageddon -- A Traffic Jam in Search of Motorists

Thank goodness it was all for naught. Either all the dire warnings (stay in your home! Don't come anywhere near LA this weekend -- We're closed!) worked, or ... actually, I'm not sure what else it could be as on a 'normal' day, LA traffic is a white-knuckle nightmare.

But instead of this:

                                    We had this:

(Take a good look, since you'll never see an LA freeway look like that again).

So it seem I spent the weekend in Culver City for nothing...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Well, That Was Dumb!

Last week I was in Florida to attend my nephew's bar mitzvah. I was there, but didn't make it.

Foolish me: I decided that I didn't want to miss my daily workout, and not having access to a gym, I figured that a walk would be a good alternative. I didn't walk fast, but long -- 1-1/2 hours. Unfortunately, I did this at the hottest time of day, though I didn't realize it was a problem at the time. But during this walk, I drank 3 bottles of water. When I returned to the house, I drank another bottle of water. I felt fine.

About 3-4 hours later, shortly before I needed to get dressed for the bar mitzvah, I stopped in at Best Buy in Aventura to buy a new power cord for my laptop, as my power cord was failing, and I knew I wouldn't make it home with access to my computer without it.

Suddenly, I felt very dizzy. It didn't help that the sales person I asked for assistance just pointed toward a wall and said "Over there." I headed for customer service, and by then I was ready to pass out. They weren't particularly interested, but one girl found a bottle of cold water and gave it to me. I drank it, but felt no better.

It was about an hour before I felt it was safe to stand up. During this time, I called my son, who was just leaving a job interview, to come get me. He drove up with food (that he made me eat even though I told him I had eaten and wasn't hungry) and a few more bottles of fluids. (He's very protective).

I was fine the next day, but I did miss the bar mitzvah... However I get to go back again next month for my niece's wedding, and I will NOT exert myself except under air-conditioned conditions!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Ten Questions-Interview Appears in Today's La Jolla Light

Bryna Kranzler Returns to Her Writing Career with Book on Her Grandad

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thank you to everyone who came to my book signing today

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Review from Last Year that I Never Knew About

So much for Google Alerts!

Read the review in the San Diego Jewish World

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Amazon Has Caught Up with the Temporary Discount

The price of The Accidental Anarchist ebook has been reduced to $1.99 for one week only, ending July 10. All ebook formats are available, either at, or my website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Continuing in the Spirit of Freedom

July 4 over too soon for your tastes? Mine too. So I'm offering a discounted price of only $1.99 on the ebook of The Accidental Anarchist until July 10, only.

The paperback version of the book is always available at a 15% discount through my Facebook store.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Am a Leading Adopter of Computer Viruses

When it comes to catching the latest computer virus, I am a leading adopter. Just caught the new javascript bug that's going around. Even the guys who know about it and can remove it (SohoTech in San Diego) don't know exactly on which ordinary activity/website it is a stowaway just waiting to be activated again.

But I've got a great idea for something that these obviously talented virus creators should be doing instead of complicating our lives: Cripple Al-Qaeda. Then their efforts would warrant a Congressional Medal of Honor instead of jail time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yale Closes One Program on Anti-Semitism; Opens Another

Yale University launches new program on anti-Semitism

The school is "not willing to engage in a comprehensive examination of the current crisis facing living Jews," says head of scrapped program.

  NEW YORK – After summarily closing the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) earlier this month, Yale University has announced the creation of the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism (YPSA), a program devoted to “serious scholarly discourse and research” on anti-Semitism and its manifestations.

The new program was announced by a letter from Yale University Provost Peter Salovey this week. “I am hopeful that this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of anti-Semitism,” Salovey wrote.

Flash! Yale will study anti-Semitism
Premium: Yale to shut down interdisciplinary study of anti-Semitism
Yale, Jews and double-standards

Reactions to the announcement varied. Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman released a statement saying the ADL is “satisfied that Yale University understood the critical importance for continuing an institute for the study and research of anti-Semitism.”

While describing the ADL as “disappointed” that YIISA’s director, Dr. Charles Small, would not be involved in YPSA, Foxman said the ADL is “confident that the study program will continue to strengthen its status, importance and significance in combating global anti-Semitism.”

“We hope that the decision to close the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative was only a blip, and that in the long run this reconfigured approach will help to stabilize and strengthen the study of anti- Semitism at Yale,” Foxman’s statement read.

Others were more skeptical. YIISA’s former executive director and founder Charles Small said the announcement of the new program “underscores [his] greatest concern about the university’s vision for the study of this subject,” which is that Yale has chosen to examine past, rather than present and future, anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is a 21st-century relevant issue,” Small said in a statement.

“To focus on its roots and history, glosses over issues scholars must address today, especially when it comes to the threat of contemporary radical Islamist anti-Semitism.”

Emphasis on Yale’s library and archival resources, Small said, only “underlines its inability to engage its focus on contemporary forms of genocidal anti-Semitism which is an urgent threat, not only to the Jewish people, but to democratic values and principles.

“It appears that Yale, unlike YIISA, is not willing to engage in a comprehensive examination of the current crisis facing living Jews, but instead is comfortable with reexamining the plight of Jews who perished at the hands of anti-Semites,” Small’s statement read. “The role of a true scholar and intellectual is to shed light where there is darkness, which is why we at YIISA are committed to critically engaged scholarship with a broader approach to the complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global anti-Semitism.”

The conference “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” held by YIISA at Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut, in August 2010, exemplifies this ethos – but also may have brought the ax down on the program, as many sources who preferred to remain anonymous conjectured that the conference’s condemnation of anti-Semitism in Muslim nations may have alienated prospective Yale donors, to Yale’s chagrin.

Similar points were made about YIISA’s research on Iranian Holocaust denial.

Kenneth Marcus, director of the Anti- Semitism Initiative at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, told The Jerusalem Post he was concerned that “Yale may be killing a forward-looking, critically engaged institution and replacing it with a quieter, more historically-minded center.

“This would not be a problem if anti- Semitism were a mere historical problem. Given the recent resurgence of global anti-Semitism, a more active scholarly response is necessary.”

“YIISA is in conversation with several academic institutions that understand the importance of our mission and they have expressed interest in YIISA becoming part of their academic community,” Small said in his press release. “I wish YPSA success in their efforts, we are all colleagues on a subject matter with profound implications.”