Alex’s Blog

  • Relaunching the site!

    As of today, I’ve relaunched my site to be a bit prettier and much more functional on the backend, and much simpler on the front-end. All in all, it feels great to complete this mini-project. I changed up the fonts, added a new background image and made the site more mobile-friendly. I adopted Yahoo’s PureCSS for some of the functionality, and will continue to grab from their toolkit as I add new aspects to the site. The biggest change I made was a move from Wordpress to Jekyll, a tool that generates generates static sites from Markdown files. I like WordPress a lot, but I’ve gotten tired of managing the security holes that seem to pop up every two weeks. Jekyll will let me get back to hand-coding my site like I’ve always enjoyed doing. Lastly, I put the entire site up on Github, because Git rules, and for some...

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  • Supporting Geeky Women

    In this post Felicia Day talks about Gamer Gate, her fears, and her love of gaming and it is one of the more powerful and personal pieces I’ve read on the entire subject. Well worth the read. FYI not long after she posted this she was doxxed. (Personal info often including location was shared publicly). I consider her a geek idol and it’s terrible to see her, and others scared to be who they are online and in person. Wishing for this harassment to stop isn’t enough, we need to fundamentally change geek culture so that attacks like these are unacceptable and don’t happen to begin with. That means guys like myself can’t stand on the sidelines anymore either. It means supporting women in tech during not only the bad times like now, but when things seem ok; when subtle (or not so subtle) sexism is holding women back from...

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  • Make Inclusiveness the Default

    This post on PandoDaily has the potential to open up a discussion of power and privilege within the Silicon Valley tech-elite. In it, Jason Calacanis expresses his deep anger for the way that three tech leaders have treated their local homeless population, and the utter callousness and displeasure they express towards those they deem to be in the “lower part of society”. Arrogance and abuse is rampant within the tech community; something that is rarely talked about, but that is slowly changing. This is one of the reasons there are so few women working in technology.1 Some technology leaders see insults and vilification as their “culture”, something they are entitled to do to others. Even amongst those techies who wouldn’t dream of mistreating others often find themselves look down upon those who do not have the same geek chops that they do. Think of IT guys scoff when a user...

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  • Hamba kahle Madiba

    My ability to write publicly, for anyone to read, is a freedom I hope never to take for granted. Nelson Mandela, the hero and inspiration for millions passed away this week. It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die. Closing Address, 13TH International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa, 14 July 2000 I wonder how Madiba’s passing will affect the political climate in South Africa, a country I know and love.

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  • Finding #nptech

    After spending four days meeting geeks from around the world, learning about the causes they care deeply about, I realize that I’m missing something. There’s a question I keep coming back to, over and over, that I can’t seem to answer.

    Why didn’t it occur to me before now that the nonprofit tech community exists?

  • 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks: Analyzing the Analysis

    2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study: Analyzing the Analysis

    I thought it would be fun to analyze the analysis done by two fantastic organizations (M+R Strategic Services and NTEN) about the state of nonprofit communications. There’s a whole lot of #DataNerd stuff in here, so let’s dig deep and take a look!

    The report they released is called the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. It’s easy to read, and I highly recommend spending some time exploring and reflecting on it for your nonprofit.

    You should see how your organization stacks up with others within and outside of your sectors. Then ask yourself why some organizations and sectors are outperforming or underperforming in certain areas.

    The tl;dr version: There are few surprises here.

    • Email is still more successful than social media.
    • Don’t forget The Ask.
    • Talk to your people more.
    • Photos go viral.
  • Turning the Clock Back 72 Years

    After reading a post on the Freakonomics blog, I decided to do a bit of research:

    If you are in the United States, you probably remember participating in the Decennial Census in 2010. These forms are kept confidential for 72 years—roughly an average American’s life span. But this same rule means that today (actually, a couple of days ago), the 1940 Census results became public information. The good folks at the National Archives have scanned all of these census forms, and put them all online. With a bit of work, you should be able to find your house—or if you are in a newer neighborhood, perhaps a neighboring house.

    It took me a few hours to make my way through the National Archives site before I hit on useful information. It turns out that their site really only likes Internet Exlorer. Blegh. Of course, not that you can find that listed on their website anywhere. If you’re looking to do the same research I did, I’d recommend checking out this Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. I didn’t find it until I completed my research, but it would have saved me a lot of time.

    According to the National Archives 1940s Census, where I live now was Enumeration District 1-106 of Washington, DC. Once I figured out my enumeration district, I was able to find a map (click through for the full size version).

  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs revolutionized industries and changed the way we think about technology and the world around us. I can think of no better way to memorialize him then with his moving commencement address.

  • Jews, Cigars and Mojitos

    El Patronato Synagogue

    Gotta love ’em

    I love the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Joint, JDC. Why? Because they’re awesome. I don’t mean awesome as in what a surfer dude might say. I mean that the JDC fills me with awe. Jaw-dropping awe.

    The JDC is responsible for millions of dollars worth of Tikkun Olam every year — providing aid to Jews and non-Jews in need, in more than 70 countries.

  • Startup America Comes to Cleveland

    What’s the best way to create jobs?

    Startups! … according to a Kauffman Foundation study. That study is now the basis for the Federal Government’s new effort called Startup America Partnership to encourage job growth by scaling startups.

    Today at Shaker LaunchHouse, Alex Gold spoke to a packed house about Startup America Partnership, and how LaunchHouse members can benefit from the resources available.

  • Seeing the Future at FOJNP

    On Wednesday, 24 August 2011, I along with 50 others attended Dave Weinberg‘s Future of Jewish Nonprofit summit (FOJNP) in New York. The event brought together some great minds in the nonprofit Jewish world to talk about how to raise money in these difficult times, proper use of social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and how to get your ideas out there. I think it was a resounding success.

  • #2: What’s PresenTense?

    So I figured if I’m going to be talking about what I’m doing in Israel, I might as well start with the present (yup, that’s a pun) — and work backwards. I assume I’ll work backwards, I suppose we’ll see tomorrow.

    So here’s a crash course in PresenTense — what they do, why I’m volunteering with them, etc.

    In short, PresenTense (PT) helps innovative Jews create social start-ups, so they can in-turn change their communities for the better.

  • Ethiopian Airlines Time Machine

    For the past three months I have been volunteering twice a week with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades at Dkalim School in the Valley of the Springs. I work with the kids on conversational English; if they were speaking in English, I didn’t much care what the topic of conversation was. It was a lot of fun for me, and maybe it’s because I took them out of their regular class, but the kids seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I even have a few thank you cards to prove it.

  • My Ideal Leadership Conference

    Over 400 “young leaders” from Jewish communities around the globe attended Masa’s Building Future Leadership (BFL) conference. Masa did a brilliant job in their first attempt at a week-long leadership conference, and my hat goes off to them. One thing that struck me during the conference: I really wasn’t the target demographic. So for the heck of it, I’ve decided to dream up what BFL could have been, if it had been designed with me in mind.

  • Cooking in English with OTZMA

    Shavua Tov from Beit She’an! This is my first post about my time volunteering in Beit She’an and the surrounding valley Emek HaMayanot (“Valley of the Springs”). During the next few months, we will continue to volunteer in the community, doing our best to fulfill the needs of the people who live here.

  • We Make It Rain

    This is a post I’ve been meaning to get out for a while. It dates to my time with Livnot U’Lehibanot (To Build and Be Built) in Tzfat back in December 2010. (Actually published on 27 February 2011).

    What’s it like to celebrate the rain?

    This is a question I had never asked myself before I had actually done it.

  • Secular Religion

    We celebrated Sukkot quite differently from our previous two holidays – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For the new year we visited our homestay families – I went to services and ate tons of food prepared wonderfully by my host mother. For Yom Kippur, OTZMA provided a structured curriculum where we learned about how different aspects of Israeli society view atonement. We were free for a week to do whatever we wanted.

  • We’re one month down with nine to go

    Kindly edited by Lauren Zink and Emily Settle. Republished in the October 2010 OTZMA Newsletter and the Masa Israel blog.

    Somehow a month has already passed us by. In that time, we’ve been taught about our history and our faith, helped each other overcome our fears, “rode” camels, floated in the Dead Sea, practiced yoga, attended a rally, hiked to a waterfall, moved into merkaz klita (absorption center) Beit Canada, began studying Hebrew together, watched the sun rise over the Old City in Jerusalem, welcomed in the new year, ate massive amounts of food with our new host families, celebrated a couple birthdays (Jason Winkler and Shauna Gamsey), and witnessed the serenity of Jerusalem on Yom Kippur. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve become a family.

  • The Old City is quiet

    I just finished walking around the Old City of Jerusalem on Yom Kippur.

    Empty Old City

    Jerusalem is so quiet today, the streets are nearly empty. I saw only three cars driving the road, there were far more people riding by bike. And even then, it was mostly the children. While the country is shut down for the day, the kids have free reign to play in the streets – running through the intersections without a care in the world.

  • New Year, New Family

    For ראש השנה‎ (Rosh Hashanah) voyaged north to בית שאן (Beit She’an). It’s located a bit north of the West Bank and just west of the Jordan river. I should be able to say that in hebrew, but I need to practice.

    Beit She’an is the Partnership 2000 sister city of my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. During the second part of the program I’ll be placed there with fellow OTZMA members, Rebecca Bigman and Lindsay Strauss. I’m very excited to live there not only because the community seems fantastic, but because they really want us there. Apparently they’ve been pushing hard to have OTZMA volunteers there for a while now.

  • New Photos

    I’ve added some photos to my Flickr. You can view all of the photos from my trip in the OTZMA 25 2010-2011 collection and this current batch of photos in the Beit Canada carnival set. Enjoy!

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  • Dancing Ethiopians show us the way

    On Sunday, 29 August we arrived in the small beachside city of Ashkelon. We dragged our bags into our rooms in the fifth, sixth or seventh floors third tower of Beit Canada absorption center. I live in apartment 3602 which has a wonderful view of the city. I have to admit, I’m jealous of those who have a view of the ocean instead.

    Just to fill you in, an absorption center is a place (a gated set of apartments, really) where new immigrant families can live while they adapt to being Israeli. They learn hebrew through Ulpan, and focus on acquiring skills so they can be productive members of the workforce. Just like the עולים חדשים [olim chadashim] – new immigrants, our OTZMA group is also taking ulpan. So far we’ve had only two days. I’m still learning my א-ב [aleph-bet].

  • Introduction to Israel

    Israel Bound!

    Our arrival in Israel was fun, exciting and personally interesting, but not really all that noteworthy for others. The first few days were mainly an extended get-to-know-you kind of thing. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong. I just doubt you want to hear too much about how great the group is, that we got to spend a few hours in Jerusalem at night or that I was quickly reminded that Israel contains an insanely massive population of cats. Seriously, they’re everywhere.

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