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January 28, 2008


Shiloh Baptist Church is a 69,000-square-foot facility housing a 100-year-old congregation of African-American Baptists in Plainfield, New Jersey.

In short, exactly not the place you'd expect to find two pale Manhattan Jews on a Sunday morning.

Yet that's where we were, as my wife and I attended the dedication ceremony of an old friend's son yesterday. Impeccably dressed and smiling, we attracted curious, friendly gazes from ushers the instant we walked in, then sat down in the balcony to watch the service.

This was my first Baptist experience of any color, and frankly, it was pretty great. Shiloh's pastor is expressive and upbeat, and the congregation participates vocally and cheerfully.

The whole service was a visual and aural treat. The pastor was loud and soft, happy and sad, unfailingly optimistic. The sterotypical "get a witness" and "amen" utterances were in full effect. People clapped, waved, assented, took notes during the power-of-positive-thinking sermon. A farewell ceremony to a retiring volunteer nearly moved the pastor to tears ("Can I get a tissue before I cry up here? ... thank you God amen"). The choir, 40-strong and accompanied by a three piece band--organ, drums, sax--sang with smiles and moved in unison.

At the end of the regular service, the baby's dedication was called, and our entire party marched down from the balcony to stand in front of the pulpit, in solidarity and ceremony with the family. I felt, well, white. But I also felt proud and warm to have been invited and participated in the ceremony. The pastor knows my friends and has an obvious love for children. He wore a huge, genuine smile throughout the dedication as he held the baby. The rest of us did, too.

After the service, we all went to lunch, where I met up with my gang, the first time in a long while that we've all been somewhere together. We toasted the baby, saw each other's kids, congratulated one another on new jobs and promotions and pregnancies, and made plans to do it again, for the Super Bowl this coming weekend.

Congratulations, then, to Jerome Lonnie Jones III, and to his parents and grandparents, who have brought their first child into a wonderfully loving existence. I could hardly imagine a more uplifting day.

January 24, 2008

links for 2008-01-25 to 01-27

Recently on AIAIO

My business and tech blogging moved to AIAIO, the Alexander Interactive company blog, last month. I'm going to periodically cross-post links and follow-up thoughts on those items in this space. Recent pieces:

Pricing right—a pair of recent articles on price show that consumers are smart... except when they're letting themselves be influenced.

Next-gen ecomm—with the explosion of iPhones and increasing wireless high-bandwidth access, mobile ecommerce is going to be the hot phrase of 2008.

Accessibility design—it's like 2000 all over again! Except now, instead of discussing Netscape vs. Internet Explorer, it's whether or not we accommodate 800x600 user screens.

January 21, 2008

links for 2008-01-22 and -23

Get 'em while they're hot

Empanadas at Williams-Sonoma, via their website: eight "ready to serve" pastries on sale for $29.99, originally $49.99, plus tax and shipping, and a few days for delivery and defrosting.

Empanadas at Ruben's Empanadas in Manhattan: $3.50 each, or eight for $28 plus a tip for the deliveryman, for freshly made, piping-hot empanadas.

I wonder why Williams-Sonoma needs a clearance sale for theirs.

January 18, 2008

links for 2008-01-19

  • Now a major motion picture, opening Feb. 22! I have fond memories of seeing this play on Broadway, and getting kugel from the concession stand at intermission
    (tags: media movies)

January 14, 2008

links for 2008-01-15


I go whitewater rafting most every summer with my friends from high school. Some years back, a bunch of us bought baseball caps to commemorate the trip. Mine is red with two oars and, in big letters, "HUDSON RIVER." I wear it often, particularly on weekend-morning dog walks.

Walking in Riverside Park yesterday, with a calm Hudson River a few feet away, it occurred to me that my hat now lacks a certain panache.

January 11, 2008

links for 2008-01-12

  • Excellent, debatable point on what constitutes right and wrong in the steroids debate. The comments are refreshingly thoughtful and intellectual. Interesting how many anaolgies are being used... society just does not yet have the paradigm Gladwell craves
    (tags: sports society)

January 10, 2008

links for 2008-01-11

January 7, 2008

links for 2008-01-08

  • Jason Calacanis has 3200 LinkedIn contacts, and now he wants to meet them all. Which either means the "connection" paradigm is a bit off, or I'm a real hermit
    (tags: web)

January 4, 2008

The unexpected

Scene: a crowded N train, just before Christmas. A panhandler enters the car--old, dirty, hunched. As the doors close he breaks into song to encourage handouts. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...."

He finishes before the train reaches its next stop, and surveying the situation, he continues. "Sing it with me now.

"If you want my body and you think I'm sexy...."

January 3, 2008

links for 2008-01-01 through 01-04

January 2, 2008

The year in cities 2007

For the third straight year (and prompted by Jason for the third time as well) here is my list of travels for 2007. Per tradition multiple-visit locations are denoted with an asterisk:

New York, NY * (home base)
Livingston, NJ *
New City, NY *
Palisades, NY
Miami, FL
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
Half Moon Bay, CA
Dallas, TX * (N.B. I flew to Dallas four times in 2007, and never stayed longer than 18 hours)
New Paltz, NY
Marco Island, FL
Lake George, NY
Rockport, MA
San Francisco, CA
Yountville, CA
Healdsburg, CA
Mystic, CT
Edgartown, MA
Chatham, MA
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Last year I was able to extend my streak of international travel to five years (and seven of the last nine) thanks to the Costa Rica vacation. I'm probably not straying too far in '08, though.