Plant a tree in memory of Ilan Ramon

Plant a Tree in memory of Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon and his fellow Columbia crew members A couple of weeks ago, before the Space Shuttle launch, Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon had a televised conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He said,

“I call upon every Jew in the world to plant a tree in the land of Israel during the coming year. I would like to see at least 13 or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the [Columbia] launching. Here in space we are keeping busy and I would like to thank everyone.”

Posted on the Jewish National Fund website this week:

It is with much sorrow and a deep sense of commitment to the legacy of Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon and his fellow Columbia crew members that we send you this email today. It seems unbelievable that only one week ago we emailed you with Mr. Ramon’s request to have “13 or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the [Columbia] launching.”

To fulfill this dream and the requests from many of our supporters worldwide, JNF is coordinating a global effort to plant trees throughout Israel, including on Airforce Bases.

It’s a mitzvah opportunity. And as my friend Chaim says, it’s “a fitting tribute to a man who has personally seen more trees in one glance than most people on earth will see in their lives.”

My office in Santa Monica

Today is my first day at the Yahoo! Launch office in Santa Monica.

LAUNCH - Your Yahoo! Music Experience - Music videos, internet radio, artist photos, music information, and more.

After two years of working by myself in a home office, it is a thrill to be in a real office environment again. Even though it’s my job to be a computer geek, I supsect that I’m really a “people” person.

Many friends and co-workers I’ve spoken to about the move have expressed surprise that I would choose to give up such a sweet telecommuting deal. They wonder why I’d want to give up the ability to work in my bathrobe and set my own hours. They’ve never tried a permanent-telecommuting arrangement themselves, but they imagine that it’s the good life.

On the contrary, working from home every day of the week starts to make you feel cut off from the rest of the world. There aren’t any co-workers to say good morning and good night to, to go out to lunch with, and even to chat about politics or some stupid TV show we all saw last night. This might all seem trivial on the surface, but the social connection is a really important part of feeling productive. This is probably why I’ll never go into the software consulting business. Too much alone time.

Moreover, working from home makes it far too easy work really long hours. Since the Internet connection is always on, I’ve found myself hanging out in front of my computer until 8pm, grabbing some dinner, and then going back to work. That’s unacceptable; I refuse to let my workaholic tendencies take over my life. So I force myself to stop working by turning off my computer. It sits there in the spare bedroom, tempting me to turn it back on.

I’m hopeful that having an office in LA is going to help me to do a better job of keeping work separate from my personal life. I’m looking forward to coming home from work each day, having dinner with Ariella, and knowing that the rest of the evening is ours and not my employer’s. Whatever unfinished business is left on my desk will be waiting for me tomorrow.

Even though I’m in an office here in LA, I’m still working in a remote fashion. My boss (and my direct reports) all work in the Sunnyvale office. So I’m still going to be doing the whole LAX-SJC-LAX commute that I know so well. So far this year, I’ve averaged about 1.5 days a week in Sunnyvale.

Thanks to some help from Laura in the IS department, I just got a network connection set up. Now I’ve gotta figure out my how to use the new voicemail system and maybe order me some new business cards.

PHPCon East 2003

I’ve been invited to speak at PHPCon East 2003 in April:

PHPCon East 2003 – (April 23-25, 2003). PHPCon announces PHPCon East 2003 in New York City. This conference features two days of technical learning with speakers such as Rasmus Lerdorf, Michael Radwin, and Jeremy Zawodny. PHPCon East also adds a third, full day of tutorials offering practical, cogent PHP solutions and ideas including: MySQL and PHP; Building and Consuming Web Services with SOAP; Getting Started with PHP; High Performance PHP: Profiling and Benchmarking; and more PHPCon East has discounts for early registration, students, non-profits, and Tutorial/Conference packages. Early Bird Deadline is March 31st. For more program information, visit the PHPCon website. [PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor]

Unfortunately, the first two days of the conference also happen to be the last two days of Passover. So I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. :-(

Mishe-nichnas Adar…

Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar I. Since Purim is right around the corner, this is supposed to be a very happy time, but something seems terribly off in the universe. Part of me really just wants to block out the rest of the world and just sing the song of the season:

משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה

Mishe-nichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha

When Adar enters, our joy increases (Ta’anit 29a).

But it’s tinged with all sorts of sadness. Yesterday’s space shuttle tragedy stands out foremost in my mind, but I’m also reminded of the matzav in Israel. Every time I hear that song, I’m reminded of the wonderful time we had at ulpan in the spring of 2000, when peace seemed imminent. (Six months later everything went to hell.)

We visited our friend Julie in the hospital today. She’s recovering from some really serious surgery. Thank God she’s alive. But she’s got several months (if not years) of physical theraphy ahead of her as she learns how to use her body again. Can you imagine learning to walk again in your mid-twenties?

I’m also bouncing back and forth between apathy and anxiety over the inevitable war with Iraq. Part of me thinks it’s a pointless political move, part of me really wants vengeance, and most of me is downright scared about the possibility of soliders coming home in body bags. Our friends in Israel have their gas masks and drinking water ready.

As my friend Rachel said yesterday, Rosh Chodesh — the New Moon — is always the darkest time of the month. But as the moon returns, night by night, the brightness increases. God willing, the coming month will bring more brightness than darkness.

משנכנס אדר…

Favicon contest: win $5

My good friend Scott has been bugging me for about a week now to get a favicon for radwin.org.

I’m not the artist type (I still haven’t gotten past page 10 of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards), so I need some help.

Therefore, in good capitalist tradition, I’m going to contract out the work to someone else. I’m proposing a contest: if I select your favicon for the site, you’ll win $5.

Contest rules:

  1. Contest begins Friday, 31 January 2003 at 12:00pm PST and ends Monday, 10 February 2003 at 5:00pm PST.
  2. The favicon must be generic enough to work for the entire Radwin Family website, not just for my blog.
  3. Employees of Michael J. Radwin and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouse) are not eligible.
  4. If a Canadian wins, he or she will be required to answer a skill-testing question such as “What is 613 in binary?”
  5. If the winner and I hang out in person with any regularity, they can get the $5 prize in cold, hard cash. If not, payment will be sent via PayPal.
  6. Only original designs will be accepted. You can’t go and submit http://www.raysun.com/favicon.ico and expect to win.
  7. Void where prohibited by law.

Good luck, and may the best favicon win!

MovableType-2.6 release

Contrary to my pessimism yesterday about upgrading software, here’s a release I’m actually interested in:

Version 2.6. Version 2.6 is right around the corner. Some new features and improvements included in this planned release [Movable Type News]

Most of it doesn’t interest me too much, but I’d probably use Sanitize. I’ve already got an RSD file. I doubt I’ll license these ramblings via Creative Commons, but I’m interested in seeing what they mean by “support”. Leave it to technology to push the IP envelope.

Maybe jzawodn will upgrade from 2.21 so he can finally get TrackBack auto-discovery working.

70% considered low voter turnout?

Israeli polls opened about half an hour ago (they’re voting for Prime Minister). There’s little doubt that incumbent Ariel Sharon will beat Amram Mitzna in the election. The cover of last week’s Los Angeles Jewish Journal put it bluntly: Sure, He’ll Win the Election. But Can He Make Peace?

Skimming Ha’aretz for some news on the matter, I saw this:

An unprecedented number of undecided voters in Monday’s final public opinion polls indicate a possible turnout as low as 70 percent. [Ha’aretz]

Seventy percent is low? In the USA, we’d consider that superb. I guess when your very survival is at stake, people really get out the vote.