Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Month: October 2015

Ina Golub, 1938-2015

Ina Golub, an award-winning Judaica artist whose weaving and beadwork are in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum of New York and many congregations nationwide, died today in West Orange, New Jersey, from complications resulting from throat cancer. She was 76.


Ina was my aunt. She was the only notable relationship I had on my mother’s side of the family; my grandparents died early, and Ina and her husband, Herb, did not have children.

Going to their house was a much different experience than being in my own home. Ina and Herb were into the fine arts. He was a concert pianist and university professor; she, of course, was a weaver, and later a beadworker.

As a kid, stepping into their home was fascinating: the pianist rehearsing downstairs, the huge looms taking up two bedrooms, the balls of yarn and professional-grade drawing tables, the reel-to-reel playing classical music, the Eames recliner. Her house, never renovated, always stood out in my mind—the polished-brick entryway floor, the thick carpeting, the purple accents everywhere, and the dog, always a dog, a succession of fluffy Shetland sheepdogs when I was young (named Sebastian and Amadeus, naturally) and later an adorable rescue.

I spent hours drawing with high-end colored pencils in Ina’s studio, encouraged by her continual focus on creativity. Ina, my mother and I all inherited some of my grandfather Irving’s creative genes—Ina most of all, by far, but enough trickled down that Ina saw her lineage in me, and welcomed my explorations and curiosity.

Once a year, she’d drive me into New York from the suburbs, and we’d spend the day on the Upper West Side, poking around the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History, and occasionally exploring the flea market on Columbus Avenue and the curio store Maxilla and Mandible. Decades later, I now live in the neighborhood, and I think of my aunt every time I bring my sons to the museum.

ina_golub_fishIna was immensely talented in a variety of physical media. Her “Adon Livyatan”
Havadalah Spice Container (right) won first prize from the 1998 Philip and Sylvia Spertus
Judaica Prize. Her tapestries hang in congregations like Emanu-El in New York, Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California, and at several synagogues in her home state of New Jersey, including my mother’s own congregation.

I am honored to possess a variety of Ina’s works, including a woven challah cover and an astounding pair of beaded candleholders. Ina also created a pomegranate encasement that contained the ceremonial glass that I broke at my wedding ceremony, and the tallis in which I was bar mitzvahed and married. They are among my more cherished personal belongings.

Ina is survived by her sister, Myrna, and a lasting body of work that should be her legacy.

Emergency maintenance

Discovered late tonight that I had script errors that were compromising my WordPress install. The Ideapad looks to be up and running cleanly again, but some errors may persist. My kids’ websites may be offline a bit longer. Of course, you should just be following Nate and Eli on Twitter, anyway.

On leadership

In the wake of the Royals’ latest improbable postseason run, I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Ned Yost.

Not because Yost is so hard to parse—how is someone that obviously wrong turning out to be that right?—but because of Yost’s anecdote about his friendship with Dale Earnhardt:

In 1994, when a labor dispute truncated the baseball season, Earnhardt invited Yost to travel with him on the Nascar circuit and serve as “rehydration engineer” (in other words, water-fetcher). At one race, Earnhardt roared back from a huge deficit and nearly won. When Yost congratulated him, Earnhardt grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his friend nose to nose. ”Never, ever, let anybody who you’re around, anybody you’re associated with, allow you to settle for mediocrity,” Yost says Earnhardt told him.

What great perspective. So good I’m going to highlight it twice:

Never, ever, let anybody who you’re around, anybody you’re associated with, allow you to settle for mediocrity.

Why are the Royals successful? Because Yost holds his players to a high standard and expects them to reach it. He doesn’t pander, second-guess or micromanage. He sets a standard and his team follows it.

Ballplayers like to say they “believe in ourselves.” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer stated as much in his post-game interview last night. That comes from the top: Yost, like his mentor Earnhardt, doesn’t let his team settle. It’s an attitude any good manager should adopt.

On Ghostery

With all the recent industry fuss over ad trackers, I got responsible and reinstalled Ghostery on my browser, and I activated many of its blockers. This has had several interesting effects.

One is that active tracker blocking is invasive in its own way. I’m creating hardships in my own browsing experience that privacy hard-liners don’t mention. If I block optimization schemes too aggressively, I can break essential functions once in awhile, including a site I manage at work whose navigation is mboxed for Adobe Test & Target tracking. Visiting Monoprice with Ghostery on, I discovered today, gnarls their top nav, too, and their search box disappears. And so on.

Another is the level of awareness that Ghostery creates in the end-user. I know about ad networks and trackers, of course I do, I’ve been in this industry 20 years now. But I didn’t actively think about them all that often.

Then I turned on Ghostery, and I visited, a humble little type-geek website that allows for quick unicode character finding. And in finding my ✔, I also found 87 trackers. Eighty-seven! I no longer wonder what purpose the site serves beyond its builders’ nerdy satisfaction: it’s a robust ad engine. As are many other websites for whom users unwittingly expose their usage details.

The full list, behind the jump, for posterity’s sake.

Continue reading

On spin

Re/code, this morning: “Some Uber passengers said they’re waiting to buy a car because of the ride-hailing app,” was a finding from a new report. “CEO Travis Kalanick has said the company’s real competitor … is the auto industry.” The report was commissioned by Uber.

The auto industry, last week: “New-vehicle sales soared a stunning 16 percent last month to 1.4 million cars and light trucks. … Practically all automakers reported double-digit percentage increases.”

We tell the story we want to tell.

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