Cafe 42 Blog

A True Email Tale

This morning I came into my office and there was an email from my husband. It was title, “The terminator is coming…” No joke. That was the exact SUBJECT LINE of his email.

I don’t care that another Terminator movie is coming out. I liked only the first and second Terminator movies, and thought the rest (and Arnold Schwarzenegger) were crap.

I didn’t open his email. I trashed it. I didn’t see the link he had inside it, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have paid attention it with his email subject line.

As I reviewed my emails, I watched the news, as I do every morning. The segment was on Boston Dynamics, a well-known robotics firm. They were showing off the agility their Atlas robot, doing a back flip! I was so blown away, it looked so real, like a person, I sent the video clip to my husband and kids. My subject line: “Totally cool robot moves!”

My husband sent me back an email, “I sent this video to you this morning.”

Hmm…he did? I didn’t see it.

“It was in the email about the terminator coming,” he wrote. “I guess I gave my email a bad title.”

No shit.

WORDS MATTER! Marketing/Copywriting must choose the RIGHT WORDS for the right audience to get response.

4 Simple Steps to Better Relationships

romancegifThe first year of my marriage didn’t go according to plan. The creative, smart, strong man I thought I married appeared as the jobless brat who refused to take on consulting while he toyed with his latest algorithm instead of engaging with me.

I’d waited 36 years to marry, ten years behind most everyone I knew. I’d waited to find a best friend to share life with. I had this idea of the man I wanted to be with since childhood. He’d be smart. Very smart. Massively creative, anything less would bore me. Financially stable, able to support a family with his skill set. And fun, of course, loved exploring new places. Cute was a must. I had to be physically attracted.

My husband had all these things and more, even after we married. And similar goals of having a family remained intact, but something changed between us. The best friend I wanted became the burden I carried the poorer we got. I couldn’t support us both on my salary alone. Ten months into our marriage we’d gone through most of my life savings. He had none, used the last of his for our honeymoon.

Working tirelessly at developing technology for profit, my dear husband’s response to going broke was making his already complex software even more complex. Marketing was a mystery and easily avoided by immerging himself in his muse. He seemed more intimate with his computer than with me. Many a night I had to please myself while he was downstairs making it with his 64-bit Alpha, coding.

There were many good days, long drives and hikes along the Pacific coastline, filled with conversation that flowed from one topic to another in a smooth, endless dialog. Those days bonded us, reminded me why we married, how much I enjoyed his mind, his perspectives, his passion. But things got harsher and more contentious. Eleven and a half months into marital bliss I lost our first baby in utero eight weeks into the pregnancy. And my husband engaged with his muse while I morned alone.

Time and again that first year of our marriage, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that considered divorce. Yet, he arranged to celebrate our first anniversary with a second wedding ceremony, in an empty courtroom in front of a judge who reiterated the vows which we repeated. Our first wedding was with a large crowd of family and friends and I’d always wanted an intimate affair.

The commitment was between me and my husband after all, not extended family. I was really that naive.

A chasm was growing between us. I’m sure he felt it too. He was just better at ignoring it, and me, which personally, I found infuriating. And I was so very lonely, and when prodded, my husband admitted he was too. We were stuck in a downward spiral which I couldn’t live with, in a relationship I didn’t want to abandon, but ultimately fear of missing my childbearing years starting from square one dating again compelled me to stick with my marriage.

I narrowed the root of our discord down to three possible scenarios:

  • He feed off other people’s pain, which would make him a psychopath.
  • He was indifferent to anyone’s needs but his own, which would make him worse than a psychopath.
  • He didn’t know any better.

It was improbable I’d married a psychopath. My husband was guilty of distance, but never violence. Indifference was impossible to work with. Trying to motivate people to care—that don’t, was a fool’s play. So I went with the third possibility. He didn’t know what was wrong between us, or how to fix it, so he froze, paralyzed by uncertainty.

My husband is a mathematician. Like the metal doors and iron bars that slammed shut behind Maxwell Smart as he walked down the hall to Control, my dear husband’s brain shut out chaos. He craved order, created it in tidy mathematical models with strict parameters. Feelings were messy, but exploring them was downright unnerving for him.

My dad once told me the difference between men and women lies in our nature. Men are self-oriented, internal. Women are maternal. Producing life grounds us outside ourselves. Therefore it is the woman’s role to coax the man outside himself, bring him to her—even their children.

It was my job to figure out a method, a series of clearly defined, linear steps we were both beholden to take that would make our marriage work. I felt certain once a path was apparent my husband would gladly take it with me, if for no other reason then to end the perpetual arguing. And though it took me several months, I eventually came up with an equation, and presented it on our vacation, because timing is everything.

We were climbing on the gigantic slabs of granite rocks and exploring the spectacular rugged shoreline of Acadia National Park in Maine. Humbled by the grandeur all around us, we connected in the shared moment. That’s when I unveiled my latest plan to improve our interaction.

  1. We are a team.
  2. What does my partner need/want?
  3. What do I need/want?
  4. Compromise.

Four simple steps, in that exact order.

First define the goal, I explained. The proceeding steps are the methodology to achieve it. To effectively manage discord we first must acknowledge we were not competing, we’re on the same side trying to work together to solve the issue at hand. Next, if I knew he considered my needs and desires before his own, and he knew I was looking out for him before myself, we could build a foundation of trust knowing we’d be there for each other. Finally, meeting close to the middle was mandatory. At least, understanding must be achieved before archiving an issue. At best, both parties get most of what they want. And as a sidebar—giving in didn’t mean losing. Concessions were more easily accessed by referring to step one.

My husband paced me across the granite slabs but with much more grace as we climbed the rocky shoreline. His slender form moved easily across the rock. He scrambled ahead to help me with a vertical climb, then reached down to give me a hand up. A moment later we stood on cliff’s edge overlooking the Atlantic. “Other than I think you’re hot, I married you because I knew you were smart. Anything less would have bored me.” He smiled at me then stared out at the ocean, big waves striking the shoreline sending plumes of mist around us.

We walked and talked and climbed for the next five hours, breaking down each of the four steps with specific case scenarios. After analyzing and massaging the data the rest of the weekend, and each step passing QA of course, it was agreed upon to give them a go.

For our summer vacation this year we took the kids to Acadia in Maine to share with them the park’s pristine beauty. My husband spoke of our earlier adventures there, and told the kids about our long talk. He quoted the four steps in order and explained why each was important, then pointed out how applying them to most interactions strengthened communication and improved relations. A big wave sprayed us all, and as we laughed with the mist twinkling around us I spied my husband staring out at the sea and flashed on our moment there so long ago, what he’d said, and smiled.

We will be celebrating our 15th anniversary this coming spring. And though it isn’t always bliss, our marriage has been a lot less rocky since we adopted the four steps on that Maine shoreline all those years ago.

The Future Out of Time

I was 9 years old the first time I saw the future before it happened.

It was a warm fall evening and dad and I sat on the flying bridge and sang, talked, and reveled in the beauty of the setting sun over the languid Pacific as we made our way to Catalina Island that Friday evening. My mother and sister were taking the public ferry over in the morning–mom too afraid to cross the channel in our 30-foot cabin cruiser at night.

There were no moorings available at Avalon, Catalina’s main harbor, which was always preferred for its calm sea protected by the rock breakwater. We had to pick up a mooring at St. Catherine’s, a small harbor on the north side of Avalon, exposed to the open ocean. Boats moored there continually pitched and tossed. Mom wasn’t going to be happy when she arrived with my sister on Saturday.

It was well after dark when dad got the boat in position and I grabbed the flag attached to the mooring line. I yanked the heavy rope out of the water, slipping and sliding on the deck as I secured it to our boat. By the time we laid anchor and tied the mooring lines it was almost 8:00 p.m. We caught the first water taxi to Avalon where we dined at the Flying Yachtsman, a favorite steak house for boater and locals. Just me and dad, captain and first mate, we ate mostly in silence, relishing the good meal after our long voyage.

We were almost through with dinner when a Coast Guard buddy of my father’s happened by and joined us for dessert. I was a little disappointed that my dad got involved in talking with his friend, Jim, and I was suddenly out of the loop. But I ate my apple crumb cake turning my head attentively to whomever was speaking, pretending to listen, though lost after the first few lines about horsepower in Jim’s new twin, fuel-injected engines.

After dinner, dad accepted Jim’s offer for a ride to our boat in his dinghy. I sat at the bow of the eight-foot skiff and dangled my hand over the side, letting my fingers comb the frothy waves created by the dinghy’s forward motion. My father sat in the center to keep the weight balanced, and Jim screamed over the engine as he drove. He described the damage from the Santa Ana winds that had blown through the island the previous week. Huge waves, some over 20 feet flooded storefronts. Several boats smashed into the shore when their mooring lines ripped from the ocean floor in St. Catherine’s.

And that’s when reality shifted. My awareness of where I was became distant, background to another. On some level I knew I was still on the skiff rounding the breakwater to the open sea on the way to our boat. But that’s not what I saw…

I wake on our boat in the middle of the night and lift my head to see the deep red light of the digital clock turn from 3:30 to 3:31. I glance over at my father sleeping next to me on the pull out bed in the main cabin. He’s turned away, snoring loudly. I slide the small curtain aside to glance out the window, and instead of the expected blackness I see a white sailboat six feet from our starboard side. It takes me a second to get that we’re about to crash into each other, suddenly aware that during the night our mooring line must have broken and we are free floating. Deck lights lit and mast lights on, every detail of the sailboat registers in my head–white, with light blue trim around the portholes and polished teak decks; identification numbers on the bow: K6749.

Then I was back in the dinghy, my finger’s freezing in the water. I snatched my hand out of the sea, tucked both hands between my legs and sat rigid as Jim pulled his dingy up to the stern of our boat. My father bid him goodbye with thanks as we boarded our vessel. Before my dad crossed the deck to the cabin I started ranting.

“Dad, our mooring line is going to break tonight and we’re going to hit a sailboat!”

“What are you talking about?” He stopped and turned to face me.

“I saw it. We’re going to smash into a sailboat at 3:30 in the morning. We have to move the boat now!”

“What do you mean, you ‘saw it?'”

I just stood there staring at him. I knew he wouldn’t believe me if I told him I had a vision. Hell, I didn’t believe me. But I knew what happened on that dinghy wasn’t a dream or fantasy. I knew I’d seen the future. I went back to proof by instance.

“Dad, our mooring line is going to break tonight and we’re going to hit a white sailboat with the call numbers K6749 if we don’t move the boat. So can we just move it, now please.”

Dad took the empirical position as always. “Do you see any white sailboats anywhere near us?”

By the moonlight the closest one I could see was a few rows up and far to the right. I couldn’t make out the call numbers, but I could see it had long narrow rectangular windows, not portholes. I shook my head.

“Okay. And hasn’t our boat been secured here all evening, the mooring clearly holding fast?”


“And even if our mooring did break, we’d have the front anchor to secure the boat from drifting, isn’t that right?”

“Yeah. I guess.” I started to doubt my vision with his compiling logic.

“Well, what I’m guessing is when Jim told us that the mooring lines in St. Catherine’s harbor broke last week with the Santa Ana’s, it scared you. Did you hear him say that all the moorings were replaced with new ones?”

No. I’d missed that part because I was inside my head living an alternate reality at the time. “No. I didn’t hear him say that.”

“It’s late, sweetie,” my dad said, going into the cabin. “Let’s get ready for bed.”


When I woke up in the middle of the night and the first thing I noticed was the digital clock turning from 3:30 to 3:31, I knew instantly that my earlier experience had not been a fantasy born of fear. I held my breath as I moved aside the curtain. I knew before actually seeing it that we were almost on top of a white sailboat. It had moored next to us while we slept.

I woke my father, screaming for him to get up as I scurried around him. He followed me out to the deck and saw that we were about to hit a sailboat, got the 12-foot push pole and wedged it between our two boats to avoid them smashing into each other while he put out the side bumpers. He told me to lift the front anchor and then yelled to the people on the sailboat to rouse them. As I moved along the narrow ledge around the side of our boat I noticed the call numbers K6749 printed on the sailboat’s bow.

The captain of the sailboat finally came on deck, got his push pole and kept our boats apart while my father ignited our diesel engines. Slipping and sliding, struggling to pull the heavy anchor out of the water onto the bow of our wet deck, I almost fell off the boat several times, which, to this day, over 40 years later, my father says was his greatest concern whenever he recites the incident, though he always adds “Something else happened weird that night…” but he can never recall what. I’ve never reminded him, but I’ll never forget.


Similar experiences of ‘seeing’ the future occurred many times growing up, through my early 20’s. It came without warning, usually triggered by something someone said, and I would experience a reality shift in a flash. Sometimes, though rarely, it came in the form of a dream, but upon waking I knew it wasn’t a dream. Within hours the dream would play itself out in reality. Earthquakes were a big trigger. I would ‘see’ them before they occurred, know how strong they were going to be and the effects in their wake. Unusual events, generally with life threatening potential were also triggers, though rarely involving someone I knew. I saw car accidents, sometimes through the eyes of the drivers, hear about it the next day on the news, knowing what it was like in that car moments before, and then upon impact.

I don’t know where the visions came from. I knew they were glimpses of the future because they weren’t disjointed, like a dream or hallucination. They were sequential, tactile, visceral, a complete and instant emergence into another reality, separate from, yet similar to my experience of present time. I have not experienced one in over 20 years and I have no wish to. They were fundamentally frightening, and totally uncontrollable. The few times I told someone what I’d experienced before the event went down, no one ever believed me, until after. And I was never able to stop an event from occurring. Not once.

Seeing the future is pointless without the ability to change it.

(Of course, it can be argued I did change the future by alerting my father and thus avoiding a collision with the sailboat. But I never saw us hit each other in my vision. I ‘saw’ the exact same view out our boat window as the one in reality, at which time we were still six feet apart…)

Making a Difference

Typically on Sunday mornings my husband and I share articles from the New York Times. He’ll often read me pieces while I prepare breakfast or visa versa, and we’ll discuss the ones that pique our interest. The year end edition of the Sunday Magazine runs detailed obituaries on a handful of famous and infamous people who died that year. Though many are well known—actors, x-presidents and the like, some are more obscure, but they all share one thing in common. They all had [at least] 15 minutes of fame.

As my husband read on from person to person I began to feel more and more irritated. Where was the balance with the everyday hero—the dad who worked his life to support his family, or the career woman who slated her ambitions to be a mom? Their stories are equally interesting as some one hit wonder, or marginal actor. Even the most common among us had lives that mattered, that touched many, and deserve to be told.

On my mother’s death bed she asked me “Did I make a difference?” She stared at me with sunken eyes, her skeletal face practically begging me for an affirmative answer. And I gave her one. And, of course, it was true. She was my mom. She made a difference to me.

She turned me on to love, light, color, beauty, nature, music, art. She would often point out a vibrant flower, stop everything to view a sunset and be truly awestruck by its magnificence. She genuinely liked people. She was open to most all ideas as long as they weren’t filled with hate, or born of ignorance.

My mother was a humanitarian, and without prejudice, and she taught me to respect all things equally.

She was a wife for nearly 50 years. My father used to call her his ‘sunshine.’ Laughter and joy came easily to her. She exposed him to simple things—good talks during long walks, exploring new places, trying different foods. She sang all the time, had a beautiful voice that blended perfectly with my father’s melody.

My mom was a passionate and devoted teacher. She created a magnet ocean science program she taught to underprivileged and gifted kids that is still active today. I’d met several of her students, decades later while with my mom in the market or mall, who claimed they became oceanographers and biologists because of her influence. She loved kids. They were uncomplicated—what she pretended to be, even wanted to be, but wasn’t. She was childlike in many ways, always curious and loved learning.

As I sat on her bed and ran through her list of accomplishments, her expression became sadder and sadder, and my “turn that frown upside down” mother started to cry. She wanted to give so much more. She had so much more to give, but she realized, laying helpless in bed and gasping for every breath, her time had run out.

Two weeks later I stood over her grave and refused the dirt filled shovel the Rabbi handed to me. I knelt down and scooped a handful of moist, sweet earth from the freshly dug ground, smelled its musty richness, then let it fall off my hand and run through my fingers as I released it onto her casket. And then I silently thanked her for teaching me to recognize natural beauty and engage with it at every opportunity.

My mom died of cancer at 73. Over 100 people attended her funeral. Another hundred or more have contacted our family since her death to give their condolences—lives she touched, who will touch the lives of other, and so on.

Andy Warhol was wrong. Most of us live and die in obscurity.

But we make a difference.

What is SEXISM?

My father raised me to believe my mother was ignorant. “Your mother, (implying like most women) is irrational. Fickle. Full of love and lightness, but not really a [deep] thinker.”

All women were (are) not as…capable as men, as the woman’s primary job—her role in society of mom, caretaker, homemaker—doesn’t take much real work, or brain power, according to my father. (His ignorance is only surpassed by his arrogance, as he left the raising his children to what he’d deemed his nescient wife.) He actually said to me, “Isn’t it odd that women can’t walk and talk at the same time,” and stopped to tell me this, in all seriousness, while we were walking.

My father thought he was inherently smarter than my mother, or any woman. He was a MAN, after all. He was well read, had to be for business in the real world, unlike silly homemakers. (My mother read the newspaper daily, news magazines monthly, new non-fiction and fiction monthly. My father read only Scientific American and Popular Mechanics, and watched TV. Cop shows, like Magnum PI mostly, where the main, white male character was rescuing ditsy, busty women.)

My mother graduated high school at 16, and attended Florida State University two years before most of the classmates she left behind in New Jersey. My father has no degree beyond high school.

My father went through five or more businesses, several of which failed, none of which ended up in substantial wins. My mother started a pilot magnet program at Cabrillo Marine Museum for underprivileged East L.A . kids, to teach them marine science. For almost 20 yrs she touched thousands of lives, many of whom I met personally, in the store or gas station, when they stopped my mom to gush that they were now oceanographers and scientist because of her program. As a woman, she made 1/3 of the men whom she worked beside, offering comparable programs.

What is SEXISM?

Sure, most of us will agree equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender is an important step in ending sexual inequality. According to Forbes, the top paid actress of 2016 is Emma Stone, at $26M. Actor Mark Wahlberg, made $68 million. Women had only 28% of the speaking roles in major movies, and Emma is the first women, at #15, of highest paid Hollywood stars. (Women are half of the human population, yet no actress is even close to #2, 3, 4….)

In 2017, 54 years after the United States passed the Equal Pay Act, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

So, why, even today, are women fighting so hard for equal pay, which most of us agree is one obvious step to ending SEXISM?


My father was born in 1929, when MEN WERE MEN, and everyone ‘knew their role.’ His mother, my grandmother, was a homemaker. His father, my grandfather, was a pianist for the New York Philharmonic, and the breadwinner for his family. To make it through the depression years, and the harsh realities of being a Jew through WW2, each family member had a role, a function to fulfill to assure the family unit was maintained—literally stayed alive, however modest an existence.

Back then, many jobs required physical labor suited to a man’s physiology, as technology wasn’t here yet. There were no robotics building our cars or manufacturing our appliances. Go back further in time, all the way back to our caveman days, and you’ll find a distinct division of labor. It took the strength of many men to kill a mastodon, and they had to work as a group to do this. There is an adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and women naturally took on this role as the childbearing sex. But make no mistake about it, it took a community for both sexes to fulfill the often integrated tasks of their respective roles.

Fast forward to present day. Last Sunday my husband is reading me an article on the feminist #MeToo movement, in the New York Times, while I cook pancakes for him and our two teens. At the end of the article he sighs heavily, his ‘this is absurd’ sigh, and says, “It gets so tiresome hearing women complain how hard they have it. It’s equally hard on men, and always has been.”

I looked at him incredulously, and said, “How many times have you been sexually assaulted on the job?”

He didn’t respond to my rhetorical question. I already knew his answer. Zero. He didn’t turn my question around. He knew an investor in my very first startup tried to rape me in my office at our Christmas party, then fired me that night for not letting him assault me. He knew my second job out of college, as an Art Director for 1928 Jewelry Company, the CEO came into the empty conference room moments after me, introduced himself, and instead of taking my outstretched hand, squeezed my breast, as if checking the firmness of an orange. I’ll never forget, he said, “Mmm, Nice!” before I pulled away, shamed as others I’d yet to meet walked in.

My husband wasn’t at my housewarming party, when a relative accompanying an invited guest tried to assault me when I found him at my work-space on my Mac. I could go on, but you get my point. And even knowing all this, my husband is “sick of hearing women whine about how hard we have it.”

Can’t blame him, really. My father-in-law talked down to my mother-in-law, probably all their lives together, but clearly in the 20 years I’d been on the scene of their married life. He was cruel and cutting with a continual barrage of snide ‘jokes,’ if he listened to her at all. My husband tells tales of his mom going ballistic on his dad every few months, probably when she’d had enough of trying to communicate with him while he verbally slammed her, or, by and large, ignored her.

To this day, most men do not BELIEVE a woman is as ‘equal’ to them, as other men.

The problem is, most women BELIEVE this too. We do not feel ‘equal.’ Why would we? We get paid less for the same job. Our bodies are more valued then our minds (as most men can’t seem to get their brain out of their little head). Women are rarely taken seriously by the overwhelmingly male controlled business world, nor in our home environments.

How many women reading this post did most of the cooking and serving of your last holiday meal, even with a career/job? How many of you do most of the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring of the kids, even working full time? The fact is, according to the 50 news articles I just read, women still do 80 – 90% of all domestic chores, including kid care, regardless of her job status. Equal pay for equal work, of course, but also equal WORK must be invested by both genders to reach sexual equality.

How do we get there from here? I honestly have no idea, other than to stand up, and say “NO! Not OK,” whenever you are a victim, or see the action of SEXISM.

Since the mastodons are all gone, and we can now buy packaged meat at Safeway, we no longer require the muscular physique of the male physiology to survive as a race. While most women have always brought to the table of any union equal intellectual, logistical and financial support, men are rapidly losing their position of strength, literally and figuratively. Our bodies and minds are adapting to the changing needs of our time. In fact, we are getting fat! Obesity is at an all time high, close to 40% of the population in some states now, and rising fast! (Think Pixar’s Wally.)

Men have dominated the business world from the beginning, and this too must change. They have created an ugly, psychologically and sociologically corrosive environment with their continual attacks against women, to keep us ‘in our place.’ It isn’t “locker room talk.” It is degrading, and women buy into it, thinking our value really is just in our breasts and vagina. At the very least, women are made to feel we must acquiesce to this humiliating behavior men dish out to be heard at all, at work or home.

This BELIEF, that women are lesser than men, by both genders must end, before SEXISM is a non-issue.

Humans, all of us, ACT as we BELIEVE. Change the BELIEF, and change the ACTIONS of SEXISM.