Monday, January 30, 2012


I'm not in the habit of writing obituaries or in memoriams, but an old friend passed away recently and I felt a special need to share it with all of you.  You see, Bob and I had been good  friends back in the day, but I hadn't seen much of him over the past few years. Ironically, I had been thinking about Bob over the holidays but I never bothered to pick up the phone.  The last time we spoke a few months prior, he was outside his office downtown grabbing a smoke. Bob was just beaming as he told me of his son Henry's acceptance into a top- rated high school on the north side of Chicago. No easy feat with the highly competitive academic requirements. It was great to hear from him and to hear the genuine sound of joy in his voice at his son's accomplishment.   And while we had grown apart over time, we nonetheless could still pick up a conversation as if it was just yesterday. It was especially sad for me to hear of Bob's passing, of course, because he had recently been in my thoughts.

At the funeral home there was no casket to view. Just the small but elegant wooden box holding his remains from cremation.  I saw people I hadn't seen in a long time, we all sat close together upfront near the podium, right behind Henry and his mom, Anne.  A group of Bob's co-workers were a few rows behind us.  After his family said their goodbyes and told some funny anecdotes about Bob, his  sister Alexandra faced the room and asked if anyone else would like to say a few words about Bob.
There was a long and somewhat awkward pause, so I got up and said a few kind words about how Bob had been such a good buddy for letting me crash at his place when I lost my keys during a night of misguided drinking.  I felt like an idiot afterwards, with all the things I could have said. But following, many others paid their respects  with consistent references to his generous nature,  his kind character, and his devotion to being Henry's father.  It turned out to be a really nice tribute for a guy who didn't have an easy life, battling severe physical issues, who somehow managed to pull it all together with the help of his family, friends, and co-workers. But most of all, it was Bob. He was the one who took on the challenge and met it head on. Nobody else.

So here's to you Bob, it really was great to know you and we are all proud to have been your friend. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Word of the Year for 2011 - Robust

While it might be a little late, I'd still like to nominate robust for the Word of the Year 2011.

The adjective's  ubiquity has been  unequaled in its use this year as a modifier for everything  from robust computer platforms to robust cell phones, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. A quick search revealed more than  147,000,000 results on Google alone. Did you know that you could have Robust Statistics?  And you could have some robust coffee while perusing those stats. And if you ever need to know how to design a robust monitoring system, fear not, for it too is out there for those willing to take on such a challenge.  Too technical for me.

I'd rather sit back and read a report about the robust earnings my investments were making, if only it were true. And if you really wanted to get technical, you could speed up your robust features for a better understanding of  the convergence of visuals and imagery. Even the restaurant industry is reporting robust action in the highly competitive pizza and bakery markets.  And hospitals are taking  robust measures to battle disease and save lives. How about a robust shopping cart for your blog?  As you can see, the possibilities of robust pursuit are everywhere around us.

So here's to you robust, you've truly earned top billing in my book for Word of the Year. You and all your bad ass Robustness,  BTW , by Thomas J. Sargent, Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Now, don't you feel smart knowing you have made a robust decision ?