Friday, February 25, 2005



I have been back in America for almost three weeks and I am starting to use that to help form a rational idea about Israel.

First off, I picked an amazing 3 weeks to be in Oregon, it has not rained once since I got back. That has to be a new record for February, it also has been really nice to be back at my house. I love the way I live here and frankly it is just a life that is super amazing.

We only use 1/2 of our house, and it still is 1.5 times bigger then our apartment in Israel, the food is cheaper here for most the stuff we buy, but mind you we shop like americans in both places.

What struck me as a scary comparison was eggs. I was at WinCo which is the american equivalent of Yad Izzac, and I paid $2.30 cents for 3 dozen eggs. This is 3.37 NIS per dozen or 1/3 the price of Israel. Same with milk I paid $1.99 per gallon for milk and it works out to be 2.26 NIS per liter, again just over 1/2 the price. Food is just really really really cheap here. Even the ground chicken is comparable in price, at 24 NIS per Kilo. Whole chickens and jewish food of course is the exception, but I am putting on dinner for 36 for friday night and it is down right cheap to buy the food.

The down side of course is produce. That is where Israel rocks, it is just dirt cheap. I paid $1.68 per pound for tomato's or 17 NIS per KG. That is just way higher, but on the whole I think food is cheaper here.

I miss not worrying if stuff is kosher that I get in Israel, but I really like the way that people say hi to you here and the lack of horns in the store parking lot is way neat.

It is hard, in Israel Iris can easily find work, and the kids are doing great, but for me it is a bit of the middle of nowhere. It is not an easy thing to just say that I will always be there because the one thing that Israel does so great which is community I do not value that highly. I still have not made that many close friends, and I still do not have many connections there. We are loners in Israel, and we are also Loners in America.

The one thing I can say is Day school tuition is cheaper in Israel then in America and if you have 3-4 kids in day school it just makes all the food shopping and apartment and car costs irrelevant.

Gan is the deal of a life time for example.

But I do not see it as dollar and cents, it really is two different ways of life, and in the long run I am not sure I would be happy with either.

All the best,

Benjamin Cox

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The bookstore is working.

Okay, we are 2 weeks in starting to really go strong with the bookstore. It is only going to get better, as we buy better inventory as we are doing right now. I am in America, and in probably 6 weeks we are going to have some amazing inventory that will really help the store. It is really fun starting companies when things are going well, when they are not going well I question myself daily.

It is very easy to question oneself, and frankly I think we are all our own harshest critics. Some times I think we hide behind the ability to see all of our own flaws and none of what makes us great.

What is interesting is that we are all great in our own way. We each have one skill to use, one thing that we do best, and frankly if the world spent more time looking for what people were good at rather then trapping them into things that they do badly. Frankly I think fear traps us from truly capturing upside and we end up doing more to make sure that we do not get hurt then making sure that we are going to succeed.

There is a period in every startup when you know that you have failed and you start to count out your losses. It is that first few weeks when things are just not going perfectly. We have all gone through those periods, and those periods are one of the reasons why I do things like prepay rent for 1 year when I start a company. The ability not to worry about some of the nut coming out of cash flow gives you much more time to figure out what works and what does not.

The fact is most businesses do not come thought this period because they spend everything on the first business model, and when they finally figure out what works they are out of cash.

I am reading through my blog and it is funny, but it so goes in waves, up and down depending on my mood.

Now that we have this thing working hopefully my mood with stabilize some.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, February 13, 2005



Me and Iris ducked out of Israel and came back to America for 3 weeks. There were cheap tickets, Iris was burned out, and I have to buy books.

We got very luck coming back. There is a manual that is in the furnace in my house in Portland, it was placed there by the manufacturer. The plastic bag that holds the manual broke last week and the furnace blower started to shredded the manual, clog the whole system. It is never cool to have a couple of hundred pages of torn paper, 10 inches from a live natural gas line. I caught it, but had I not been traveling back here, odds are I would have at a minimum had a new furnace to pay for and probably a new house. G-d watches out for the dumbest of us.

In some ways it is really great to be back, in other ways I can see more clearly what interests me about Israel. The fact is there is more opportunity in Israel then there is in Portland. Portland is a developed town, jobs pay well, but there is nothing new really being created. It is just a really nice safe place to live.

There is the new Biotech research building going up and that is cool, and there are things happening, but in Israel things are new and challenging at least for me. I live for making my life difficult I suppose.

Such different worlds, but I think for the long term I will be living in both at the same time.


Saturday, February 05, 2005


At the tender age of almost 27, I still have no clue what I want to do with my life. Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement, but some times I question what I am trying to do with my life. I love being a parent, I love launching companies, but I lack personal skills that I need to do my job well.

My wife career is starting to take off, and that puts me in an interesting position. Assuming I take a job it is probably within 1-2 years worth more for her to work then for me to work, and frankly I like being around the kids rather a lot. They are lots of fun, when they are not being pains, but that is only some of the time. Heck I am writing this with Avi on my lap as we speak.

Assuming Iris likes what she does, and she does like it so far, I do not have salable skills in the same way. If people ask what I do, I tell them that I start companies, but I am not some weeks sure what that means either. Iris is a patent attorney.

I lack the people and organizational skills to be a really good Entrepreneur, I also am not that good at betting with other peoples money, I am scared of failure and sometimes I do not make sense of stuff that I should. In essence, I have flaws, but then again who does not. What is interesting is I point them out more then most people. As I think about it most other people also have flaws, but they hide them better, and when confronted about them they can not admit that they are wrong. Both sides of the coin has problems the trick I think is finding a middle ground.

I need to get more confident, and I need to start to see people for who they are rather then who they present themselves to be. I need to learn how to get organized and I need to work on my personal skills. All of this is just stuff that I need to do, and I need to get to a point where I am taking less risks.

The issue is I tend to play to the edge and when I fall off I crash for months of end. This does not help me, but it really is a case of playing close to the edge for my whole life. What is so scary about my wife working is that I can see a scenario where I do not need to play close to the edge again, and I wonder if I will get better or worse at what I do?


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

And then the sun shines

The sun in shinning, and I am waiting for my car mechanic. We have this car that just loves electrical problems. Every week it has another one, Some days I just wonder and remeber why in america we moved up one grade of cars from the really old junkers. I think this car is going to have to be sold as it just is more work then it is worth, and I can not keep up with it. I will have to find another car, but at this point I am flexible.

What is funny now that we have moved in reality I really do not need 2 cars. I do local shopping most weeks and the second car is alot of expense and not much use. Funny how that works.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Rain Rain go away

Okay, I am kidding, but being used to Oregon, the rain here seems to depress me more. Part of the problem I think is that it is not user friendly, when it rains here, it really rains, and it is almost depressing in nature because it captures you into the space you are in creating a prison, why in Oregon when it rains you are not as scared of it, maybe because in Oregon the rains are gentle and here they are harsh and much harder in comparison.

Coming to Israel is an emotional roller coaster, up and down and up and down, and right now I feel like I am in a downward slope. 2 days ago it felt like winter was gone, and now it is back.

We are in the process of making decisions that are going to lock us down in ways that I am not sure that I want, but none of this is easy.

What is so amazing is when you go down emotionally it is completely chemical and 2 hours later you can be just fine, right now I am not feeling like it is going to be a 2 hour thing, but one never knows.

I got into a fight today with the Rebbizin that runs the gan over post dated checks. She asked for them and I refused. Then she pushed, and that was a really stupid idea, she thought she could play the nice grandmother stupid oleh line on me, and I just said no.

The fact is I am stubborn, more stubborn then I want to admit some days and when you get me backed up against a way I will fight rather then back down, and it is not a rational fight, but try telling my mind that. Some times I look back at these fights and just wonder what was going on, some times I know that Orville my grandfather is alive and well in my head, and other times when I get stuborn, it is a good thing, it is my subconcous saying do not get pushed around, and it keeps me out of trouble.