Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Israel at 60!

Last year I blogged about Israel's Memorial Day. This year I'll focus on the second (and happier) part of this two-day national event -- Independence Day, that immediately follows Memorial Day. And quite a day it is this time -- Israel is celebrating its 60th birthday!

I will not go into all of Israel's achievements in its first 60 years, but you can find a few listed here. Instead, I picked up the phone (ok, Skype) and had a chat with a member of Israel's founding generation/team -- my dad. Here are a few of his comments.

First, I wanted to know what he felt on the day that Ben Gurion declared independence?

Turns out he only heard about it two days later. He was in the middle of a battle in Jerusalem, and two days after the declaration, he was injured by a bullet and was taken to a medic for treatment. The woman in charge of the medic (who later became Israel's first lady) came by and told them it had happened. Not a big surprise -- they were actually expecting it to happen sooner or later.

Second, I wanted to know what they were thinking those days.

Not much. They wanted to stay alive and make it through another day. Not surprising -- they were constantly being shot at. Interestingly, they believed that once the war is over, the conflict will be done and there will be peace. They certainly did not anticipate having to fight wars 60 years later.

Then I asked my dad whether he's happy with the result 60 years later.

There were two parts to his response. He claimed that he and his cohort did not imagine Israel would have so many achievements and grow to be the strong country that it is. Their expectations were exceeded by far. On the other hand, he claims his 1948 cohort were a bunch of 20 year/old idealists. They thought their idealism would pervade all walks of life in the country they created. But today there is too much "business/politics as usual" in the country. All aspects of human nature are represented, and perhaps that's inevitable.

Finally, I turned to my mom and asked her what was she thinking when she emigrated from the US to a 7 year-old state (she emigrated after marrying my dad in 1955). She answered, and I quote: "I've never met anyone so passionate about his country (like my dad). It was a great adventure to come here. So what if they didn't have toilet paper".

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hair-Care Records

There has been much talk recently about electronic health-care records. Imagine that whenever you go to a health-care provider, your health-care record is available to them, thereby enabling them to give you better care. There is a lot of controversy about the implementation and the privacy concerns and policies surrounding such records, but ultimately this will happen.

I'd like to propose a simpler and much less controversial idea. Last time I went to get a haircut, I realized my hair dresser had no idea about my hair history. She didn't know when I had it cut last, how short and what style I asked for then, and whether I liked the result or not. And being a busy guy, I couldn't recall all the details myself either.

So why not create electronic hair-care records? Every time you go for a haircut, you get before and after pictures, with a time stamp, and a few comments attached from the hair dresser. Now you can take this record with you wherever you like and next time you come in the discussion can focus on more important issues.

There are more benefits. You can highlight a particularly good haircut and always ask the provider to mimic that. If your hair is especially challenging (in a good way), you can auction your haircut to a hair dresser who wants to boost their resume. If you're anywhere in the world, say, Patagonia, and you feel the urge for a haircut, simply whip up your record and no words are needed. After all, hair is a universal language.

Technologically, building these records is simple. We just need someone with the right entrepreneurial spirit.