November 25, 2015

Speed Of Time

So a friend told me yesterday something interesting about the passing of time. 

We were looking back and saying how quickly it all goes...

I said, "Like the blink of an eye!"

He then told me this:

"Time is like the speed of a automobile. 

Your age is how fast the car is going. 

So for a child of 10-years old, the car is going 10 miles an hour...and it feels too slow. 

But for an adult of 60-years old, the car is going 60 miles per hour...too fast--in this case, 5 miles over the speed limit. 

The older you get the faster the whole thing goes by."

I told him how much I liked this explanation. 

And finished by saying, that in the end, we should just have good memories of it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 24, 2015

Top 30 Legacy Of Hope And Change

Over 7 long years, the promise of "hope and change" has given way instead to the disappointment of chaos and dysfunction.

Just some 30 examples off the top of my head...

1) Nuclear IRAN

2) Civil War SYRIA

3) Fragmented IRAQ

4) Taliban resurgent AFGHANISTAN

5) Militarization of SOUTH CHINA SEA

6) Nuclear missile NORTH KOREA

7) Terrorist State ISIS

8) Resurgent aggressive RUSSIA

9) Weaponization of SPACE

10) Streaming crisis of REFUGEES

11) Broken system for IMMIGRATION

Sharply rising MURDER RATES

13) Growing and largest PRISON POPULATION

14) Rising RACISM

15) Increasing INEQUALITY

16) Worsening polarization in POLITICS


18) Dysfunction in GOVERNMENT


20) Crisis in HEALTHCARE

21) Failing system of EDUCATION

22) Stalling INNOVATION

23) Growing insecurity of CYBER 

24) Infringement on PERSONAL PRIVACY

25) Falling participation in LABOR FORCE

26) Slowing ECONOMY

27) Worsening CLIMATE CHANGE

28) Shrinking affiliation with RELIGION


30) Declining HAPPINESS

Now, one of our main hopes has to be genuine change for the better. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 23, 2015

Silence In the Face of Ongoing Terror And Murder

In the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel, in less than 3 months (Oct 1- Nov 23), there have been:

- 21 Murdered 

- 184 Wounded (20 critically)


- 74 Stabbings

- 10 Shootings

- 11 Car Rammings

The murdered include Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American citizen from Massachusetts. 

Despite the terrorism and the death of an American citizen along with so many other innocent Jews, the superpower country of the world is silent--not calling it reprehensible or deplorable or condemning it or demanding the terrorism stop immediately. 

- Silence, despite about the murder of Jews and even its own U.S. citizen in Israel on November 19.

- Silence, yet signing nuke deals with "Axis Of Evil" Iran--the #1 state sponsor of terrorism (undiminished in 2015) and top abuser of human rights.

- Silence in the face of terror attacks against Jews elsewhere abroad, like the Jewish teacher stabbed and killed in Paris last week by three assailants shouting anti-Semitic insults? 

- Silence through a "no-show" at the Solidarity Rally in Paris with 40 other heads of state in January to denounce the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo and on the Jewish grocery store that killed 17 innocent people. 

Could this perhaps be payback time to one of it's closest friends and allies for: 

- Continuing settlements for an expanding Israeli population who are surrounded by hostile neighbors that want to throw them into the Mediterranean Sea. 

- For a peace deal with the Palestinians that didn't materialize without a peace parter that would recognize the Jews States' right to even exist.

- For Netanyahu's objection to the Iranian nuke deal that put's Israel in the crosshairs of a sprouting nuclear regime that threatens annihilation against it. 

Regardless of why, it is abundantly clear that the killing of Jews in Israel and abroad is tacitly being given the green light to continue--and so it's an open field day for terror and murder of Jews!

Even the generally harsh critic of Israel, Amnesty International, has come out calling the terror against Israel "reprehensible and unjustified" and "a clear contempt for human life."

The appalling indifference to the murder of Jews by top administration officials, just 70-years after the Holocaust, is being heard loud and clear around the world.   

- It is a sanctioning of terrorism and murder, period. 

- It is reprehensible, period. 

- It is cementing a legacy of blind hatred and blatant discrimination and anti-Semitism that will go down in history, period. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 22, 2015

I Am Doing

Today, a disabled man asked the lifeguard at the pool, "How are you doing?"

The lifeguard couldn't understand or fully hear the disabled man who had to repeat the question multiple times.

Then, the lifeguard responded, "I am doing well. How are you doing?"

The disabled man with a blank to sad look on his face says, "I am doing."

His response of just "doing" (not well, good, or fine) was like just going on day-to-day amidst very challenging life circumstances of illness and disability--just in a state of being, but certainly not feeling like he was thriving in his current life. 

It reminded me of my own parents, survivors of the Holocaust. 

After the horror and loss of the Holocaust everything, including coming to this country without a dime or a job was just a cakewalk in comparison. 

For 25-years, my dad would never even go to the doctor. 

He would say, "G-d is my doctor!"

Only later in life, when all his friends were sick or failing, and my mom was so sick with Parkinson's would my dad respond to people's questions of how he was, by saying simply, "Surviving!"

And then often adding, "We are part of the survivors' club."

When we're young, healthy, and vibrant, the world seems too small compared to what we think we can do and accomplish.

That's good--it gives us the thrusters in life to go as far as we can with accomplishments and progress. 

As we age though, the realities of life and health come into vision and we realize that we can't lift cars with one hand (anymore) or fly lightening speed with just our cape around the globe--we're mortal. 

This doesn't mean that we can't do great things for ourselves and the world at any age and with any (dis)ability, just that it many not be as simple or as easy any longer--we have to fight harder and be part of the survivor's club. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 21, 2015

Life Is All About Stones

Today, Rabbi Haim Ovadia gave an interesting speech at Magen David Synagogue about the life of Jacob and his relationships to stones. 

Here's what I took away from this: 

- Jacob took a stone to rest his head on (i.e. a pillow) and went to sleep. 

- After Jacob dreamed about the Angels ascending and descending the ladder to the heavens, he anointed the stone with oil and consecrated it to G-d. 

- When Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her father, Laban's sheep, Jacob rolls the stone from off the well to quench their thirst. 

- As Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he is called the "stone of Israel."

So what's the significance of all this stone in Jacob's and in our lives?

MILESTONES: We celebrate major stages (milestones) in our lives like births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and jobs/promotions,  and we also give diamond (stone) rings to our beloved upon engagement. 

CORNERSTONES: We build the foundations (cornerstones) for progress and advancement with our contributions to the world (giving to others, leaving the world a better place than when we got here). 

HEADSTONES: We mark and honor a person's life and place a headstone at their grave to signify our love, respect, and gratitude for everything they have done. 

I'd add that hopefully, along the way in our lives, we don't have too many problems and too much stress and get KIDNEY STONES. 

Interestingly "Some people have a heart of stone, and some stones have a heart."

Like the Western Wall ("The Kotel") of the Temple in Jerusalem where the Jews pray to G-d--the stones in the wall have history, they have seen the joys and challenges of the people, and they have heard the stories and prayers of the worshippers that go to pray there.

Stones themselves are neutral--they can be used to celebrate, consecrate, build, and memorialize, with, and stones can also be used to hurl and smash and kill with.

For Jacob and his children, even simple stones are a way to worship G-d Almighty.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 20, 2015

Wishy Washy, Pishy Poshy

In school, we had one teacher who always used to say, "You've got to call a spade a spade."

Another used to tell us, "Never hesitate, act decisively, do what you need to do."

These people were inspirational!

But these days when it comes to national and homeland security, what's the world looking like:

- WISHY WASHY--We can't speak directly and say who the enemy even is.


- PISHY POSHY--We won't act decisively in defending the nation and moreover, we acknowledge that there isn't even a strategy.

It's like what happened? ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

It's The Way You Look At Things

It's the old saying, "Is the glass half empty or half full?"

You can be a positive Peter or a negative Nellie. 

Your choice--or disposition, perhaps. 

Last week one day when the weather was bad out and I was entering the indoor pool for my laps, someone said to me, "The worse it is out there, the better it is in here."

And he was right, you can complain about the weather or whatever, but you can appreciate having great indoor facilities or just a roof over your head. 

If you look up, you can be inspired to reach for the next rung, and if you look down you can be grateful for how far you've already made it. 

Also, however bad off you might be, there are always others who are worse off. 

As a kid, I remember hearing about the person who was missing a hand and feeling bad about themselves, until they meet someone who was missing both arms. 

I do recall in actuality riding the NYC subways and poor people would come through the end doors between the cars (not allowed on the DC Metro) to go begging from money through the train--the unbelievable thing was that they were just a stump of a body from the waste up (no lower body whatsoever!) getting around by sliding themselves on a skateboard inches of the ground--can you imagine that? father used to say, "Smile and the whole world smiles with you."

Sometimes just the motion (even if it's just an act) of putting on that happy face can actually transform you to being happier. 

No, not a placebo effect, but like the Jewish notion that from doing can actually come the feeling.

In other words, just try--there is so much to be positive about and thankful for--not just on Thanksgiving--coming up next week--but all year round. 

Life is a journey full of learning and growing--not a destination. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 19, 2015

Vetting The Refugees--Do You Think It'll Work?

So not that anyone was so thrilled with the Syria and Iraq refugee idea post 9/11 to begin with...

But now 31 States have come straight out refusing to take these refugees post the terror attack that happened just last week in Paris--where at least one of the terrorists was...

Guess what?

That's right!  A fake refugee from Syria

But what about the "intensive vetting process" that is being promised for these 10,000 refugees?

Well what can be more intensive than the vetting that the American government does on employees working for highly sensitive agencies like the CIA, FBI, and NSA? 

So how has that worked out?

Probably not too bad, but the problem is that no vetting no matter how thorough is foolproof, hence major spies have infiltrated these organizations for years or even decades and caused immense harm to national security:

Robert Hanssen (former FBI--spied for the Soviets for 21 years)

Aldrich Ames (31-year veteran of the CIA, compromised 2nd largest number of CIA agents after Robert Hanssen)

Edward Snowden (leaked classified information from the NSA on our surveillance programs)

The point is that no matter how well we vet 10,000 or more refugees from Iraq and Syria, with ISIS vowing "to strike America at its center in Washington"--there certainly can be some errors in the screening and final adjudication process.

Again no vetting process is perfect--especially when the refugees themselves are admitting that fake ideas are being given out to them like candy in a candy store. 

So that's the dilemma we now face:

HEART--do what our heart tells us to and help people in need by taking in the refugees.


HEAD--follow our heads not risking another one or more potentially devastating terror attacks on the U.S. homeland. 

The choice is heartbreaking or headache producing! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 18, 2015

Refugee Crisis OR Something More Sinister And Deadly?

When presidential candidate, Donald Trump said, "I will build a big beautiful safe zone in Syria for the refugees"--many on the left were aghast. 

Then I got forwarded this video on what's happening in Europe or to Europe (and to a far more limited extent to America).

The basic question raised--are the throngs of people making their way from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia to Europe (and to America):

1) REFUGEES: Is this diversity, multiculturalism, humanitarianism, and truly helping refugees in need?


2) MIGRANTS: Is this the overrunning of a continent and society--driven by the desire for money, land, power, sex and religious domination--without anyone ever even firing a shot?

No one wants to think the worst--even when terror is happening around us and ISIS is claiming to be planting thousands of terrorists among the refugees (like a massive Trojan Horse)--we still want to believe that we are doing the right thing, doing good, and helping people in need by welcoming them in. 

Most of us or our families have been refugees at one time or another--seeking safety and a better life--so we know what it's like to need others and to need a chance--and we want to help others like others helped us. 

But watching the terror attacks, violence, rapes, and threats by some (or many, I don't really know) of the current waves of "refugees"--one wonders is this like prior refugees coming and needing genuine help or something we've never quite seen before? ;-)

I Couldn't Do It

No this isn't my car, but it's definitely old. 

So we were going to go sell one of our older cars tonight. 

One of the warning lights recently went on and when we took it to the dealer he told us it would be thousands to service it. 

After agonizing about it, we resigned ourselves to just getting rid of it and not investing anymore $$$ in an old car.

We went to the car to empty it and get it ready.

As I watched Dossy cleaning it out, all these memories started racing through my head--seeing Dossy behind the wheel as well the kids. 

Remembering all the good times we had driving here and there together. 

But this was Dossy's car and it was special to her and I knew it. 

I looked again at her and said, "I can't do it--let's just keep it."

She looked at me--and gave me the biggest smile. 

When we went back inside, she said to me, "You love me!"

And I said, "Of course, I do."

Now, we get the car fixed--some things you can't put a price on. 

P.S. Last week, she threatened to move out if I didn't agree to fix it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 17, 2015

When Terror Strikes--We Do What?

Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today writes compellingly about how tolerance for terror (or what he calls tolerance for intolerance) is allowing it to happen. 

For example, Jews are getting knifed, stoned, and intentionally run over almost daily in the Holy Land and not a peep from anyone, except to blame it on settlements, even though this extreme barbaric violence was happening long before there ever was a single settlement

It has become okay to use violence--even terrible sickening and brutal violence against civilians--and as much of it as one can muster--if you have a perceived gripe. Shall we talk burning victims alive, running over live bound victims with tanks, throwing gays off of the roofs of buildings, beheadings and crucifixions, serial killings and mass graves, abducting young girls as sex slaves, use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombings and shootings, and more. 

So what do we do?

- We tolerate the intolerable by excusing absolute insufferable violence against innocent men, women, and children, because some are feeling upset or aggrieved--so we show maybe misplaced compassion, where we should be expressing outrage at inhumane acts of murder and barbarism.

- We negotiate to try and appease the terrorists, but they couldn't care less about deals when blood is the only thing that will quench their thirst for Jihad, power, and a new Caliphate.

- We use bold but empty phrases to placate the public and victim's families--such as we are at war or we will be merciless and we will destroy them. and then we perform another single bombing run and drop 20 in retaliation (on perhaps empty buildings as the enemy claims) after the U.S. has already run 6,000 bombing runs previously. 

- We are afraid to name the enemy, with democratic candidates at Saturday's night debate even refusing to use the term "radical Islamists"

- We are afraid to fight the good and necessary fight--after the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some are "war weary," or perhaps pacifists to an out of bounds extreme--where we are willing to risk another major attack on U.S. soil rather than appropriately defend ourselves and bring the fight to the enemy. 


This problem is not going away--it is not "contained"--the war is not won--far from it. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)


November 15, 2015

Beautiful And Serene Hiking Sunday

So after lunch out, we went for a little hike at Lake Needwood. 

Today was absolutely beautiful.

The sun was shining bright and emanating warmth, but the air was cool with a breeze--that is the best of all worlds. 

The path was quiet and serene except for some occasional bikers yelling, "On your left"--might as well have said get the h*ll out of the way--one bike, two bikes, three bikes...okay done. 

Dossy and I held hands like newlyweds and just walked and talked along the trail. 

The daily stress and worries seeping out and away--and I am just floating with a renewed peacefulness and gratitude to Hashem.

Thank you all merciful G-d for granting us peace--one of the greatest of all blessings--may it spread around the world and last for all eternity! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 14, 2015

BDS Just Another Terrorist Attack

There over 200 land disputes around the globe, but on Wednesday, the European Union singled out the one Jewish State of Israel and targeted them over the dispute with the Palestinians.

The EU insists that goods produced in Israel--on land seized from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in The Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967--be labeled as "Made In Settlements"--thereby supporting the anti-Semitic movement of Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) against the democratic State of Israel.

Just two days later, the EU got their sincere thank you from extremist Islamic terrorists who mercilessly struck Paris with attacks at the concerts halls, restaurants, and sports stadiums brutally killing at least 129 people and wounding over 350 others.

All loss of life is terrible, and especially innocent victims of terror, and my heart goes out to the victims of these evil attacks in Paris. 

Unfortunately, Europe is getting just a taste of what Israel has been living with for 67 years surrounded by hordes of violent extremists willing to inculcate generational hatred and wage unending terror and war--from missiles and suicide bombs, rocks and molotov cocktails, guns and knives to BDS, they are more than happy to use whatever it takes to kill all Jews and Zionists and throw every last one into the sea.

So perhaps Europe may finally awake from its deep slumber and long Anti-Semitic history, and instead of targeting Israel with BDS just 70 years after the Holocaust where six million Jews were murdered in Europe, the EU will recognize who is attacking them and is the true enemy of western civilization, democracy, and their very national identities.

High time for Europe to embrace Israel as their brothers in faith and allies in the battle against terrorism, hate, and extremism.

BDS is just another terror tactic by the extremists who want to terrorize and murder Jews and other "infidels." And labeling products from Israel like labeling Jews in the Holocaust with the Star of David is anti-Semitism and evil. 

It's time to reject BDS for the terrorism it is and instead Buy, Invest, and Promote (BIP) the Holy Land...and those that bless Israel will be blessed. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to zeevveez)


November 13, 2015

What's With The Best Buds?

 I never quite understood the best buds t-shirt wave.

This is especially the case when the person is alone and there is no best bud anywhere to be found. 

We are all social animals, and perhaps, we all wish to have a best bud in our lives--someone to "buddy around with" and who knows and understands us, and unconditionally accepts us. 

Best buds seems to almost be able to read each others minds and finish each others sentences...and they laugh hysterically together about these mindless things for which apparently only they get it. 

When best buds are together, it's like they are almost in a bubble of their own world, and everyone else is on the outside, if they even exist to the buds at all. 

That's because bests buds are it--they have history, they share things in common, they think alike, and they work in tandem.

It's like getting two for the price of one: they are Batman and Robbin, Tonto and The Lone Ranger, Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, and so many other couplings that stick together like peanut butter and jelly. 

If you have a best bud then you already know you don't need to give them a t-shirt to spell it out--the chemistry already says it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 11, 2015

Larry The Lobster Is All Wound Up

While Dossy was getting a haircut today, Minna and I went into the Hobby Store.

We wound up Larry The Lobster here and let him go wild. 

You can enjoy his crazy dancing and waving.

It was nice to have a day off together and fun for us to take this short video. 

(Video By The Blumenthals)

Honesty, A Great Policy

So I went to the Podiatrist today for some routine maintenance. 

This was a new doctor for me, and I was going in with a healthy dose of skepticism (until I know the person is good and trustworthy). 

Well after the doctor does all these things, I test the waters and ask him, "So how often should I come back to see you every 6 months or more often or what?"

Here's his opportunity to put money ahead of really caring about the patient and to say to come often and more frequently so they can make more patient visits and more money.

But instead he pleasantly surprised me and goes, "Well let's see how your doing and take it from there."

I loved it--some genuine honesty and not just business and a money-making racket. 

Now, I really do plan to go back to this doctor regularly, because I trust him. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 10, 2015

The Unsustainable U.S. Economy

The U.S. National Debt often touted at an enormous $18 trillion is really more than 3 times that amount and closer to a whopping $65 trillion!

That's when you actually count all the unfunded liabilities for civilian and military pensions, retiree healthcare, social security, and medicare.

For each of the 318.9 million people of that United States, it mean $203,826 of debt or for a family of four that's a debt of $815,303.

Put another way, the entire net worth of Americans is $84.9 trillion, but after subtracting the debt of $65 trillion, it drops to just about $20 trillion--coincidentally around the amount of our new debt ceiling.

Moreover, with the richest 1% owning more than 50% of the wealth by 2016 that leave only $10 trillion or $31,675 for each of us--not so hoity toity for 239 years of independence and founding as a nation or all the blood, sweat, and tears we put in every day of our lives.

In terms of our escalating debt, just this last year alone, social security spending went up to $944,143,000,000 or the equivalent of $6,345 for every American with a job. and this is projected to dramatically rise with the retirements of the baby boomers.

Projections are for social security to exhaust its funds by 2035, which could result in across the board 20% or more cuts in benefits of the already meager program where many seniors end up eating cat food.

Additionally, the retirement age already set to go to 67 by 2027 could be forced to go even higher, and social security would likely be curtailed or eliminated entirely above certain income levels.

Is this the financial security and brighter future we are leaving our children and grandchildren?

We can kick the can down the road, but the unsustainability of it all will eventually come back to haunt us. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Pictures of Money)

November 9, 2015

Sit-Stand Computer Desk 1-2-3

This adjustable computer desk stand from Veridesk for sitting and standing is awesome. 

Someone got this in the office, and it is the talk of the town. 

It comes as one piece, no assembly required and you just place it under your computer--simple, easy!

Just push the handles on either side and the desk height adjusts variably up or down. 

I found it on Amazon for just $325-$400 depending on the size and whether you have a double monitor. 

My colleague at work said just try it and you will feel so good--this seems like a good healthy deal. ;-)

Dreams Can All Be Good

So the Rabbi's wife told us a neat idea about dreams (which was very poetic in Hebrew). 

Basically it goes like this:

"If you have a good dream then your day is good, because you remember that good dream 

And even if you have a bad dream then your day is still good, because you are no longer dreaming." 

It's nice when you can come out a winner and have a good day no matter what happens in your dreams at night. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Nesster)

November 8, 2015

Internet Divide And Conquer

Remember in the old Western's when the Indians were about to attack the town, and before they rode in with knives and flaming arrows--what would they do?  

The Indians would cut the telegraph lines--no calls for help out, and no communications in--the town and its people were completely cut off.

The very next scene would be the slaughter of everyone in the town including a bunch getting scalped. 

How have things changed in the 21st century?

Not so much so, as the New York Times reports today on the constant threats to our underground Internet lines being cut--with 16 cuts to the lines in the San Francisco Bay area alone in the last year. 

Similarly just a couple of weeks ago, the media was reporting about the U.S. being worried about Russian subs cutting the undersea Internet cables.

But isn't the Internet built like a spiders's web (i.e. the World Wide Web) with redundant routes so that it can withstand even a nuclear attack?

Apparently, if you take out key Internet Exchange Points (IXP) or major international cable lines then the Internet can be seriously disrupted. 

Similar to the impact of an EMP weapon that fries our electronic circuits...poof no more communications. 

If you can cut off our core communications ability--then it's a simple strategy of divide and conquer.  

Divided we are weak and can't communicate and organize ourselves to either know what's going on or to effectively respond. 

Like sitting ducks in the Old West surrounded and cut off--it was a slaughter. 

This is why it is so critical that we not only build redundancy in the cable lines, but that we create alternatives like satellite Internet or Google's Project Loon for balloon Internet access.

It's not just the military, law enforcement, and emergency management not that needs to be able to communicate--we all do!

With excellent communications, we can unify ourselves and we are strong--but if we are left in the dark, then divided we fall. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 7, 2015

Don't Know When I'll See You Again

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 

Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 

This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 

The man stands on the dais and says:

"I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 

It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 

I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 

My life was a rollercoaster--at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 

Now, I ask myself what is really important. 

When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore--and it is the simple things that really count. 

My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work--not just his teaching responsibilities anymore--and he won't have time to call so often anymore. 

So while I've studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 

I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  

I don't know when I will get to see you all again." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 6, 2015

Are We Ready For Anything?

So contingency planning is a critical part of risk management.

You never know what can happen in life...

So you must have a solid business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DRP). 

That way in case of natural disaster or terror attack--we are prepared!

So what was really sad-funny this week was when I became aware of an annual contingency planning exercise that was being conducted as a table-top exercise--that's legit. 

It was well-planned, scripted to really challenge the participants, and I heard it went very well.

But then just that evening as it turned out there was a real contingency.

What happened?

Everyone was working well to address what happened and how to fix it and kudos to some super great people. 

The only problem was no one seemed to really know or was following what to do from a contingency plan perspective.

In the end everything turned out fine, but it was incredible how planning and training can deviate so far from real life. 

It's like in school, when administrators conduct fire drills for the teachers and students and everyone gets up like good boys and girls and goes out in an orderly fashion, maybe even in a nice buddy system, but then when G-d forbid there is a real fire, everyone starts screaming and running crazed for the exits. 

Perhaps table top exercises should be thrown out the window and testing should be conducted with realistic scenarios and under mandated lifelike circumstances. 

Instead of smoke and mirror planning, we need serious preparation for the day when it isn't child's play or cool drawings on the whiteboard only. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sharyn Morrow)

November 5, 2015

Thank You To Our Warfighters

I took a photo of this wonderful sign on this construction truck. 

It says:

"To All The Men And Women Of Our Armed Forces

Thank You!

United We Stand."

Next week on Wednesday is Veterans Day, but feeling gratitude to those who stand and fight for our freedom is not just a one day a year message. 

Let's always remember that freedom is not free! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 4, 2015

Fearless = Reckless

I took this photo in the Metro in Washington, D.C. 

It says, "Be Fearless."


No, it doesn't pay to be wholly fearful--and paralyzed by anxiety or indecision. 

But it is stupid to be fearless--because being fearless is being reckless. 

It's good to think about possibilities and consequences--not everything that can go right will and more often then not, as Murphy's Law teaches, whatever can go wrong often does.

Better to think about what can happen--both good and bad--how to manage the risks and how to maximize the rewards.

Have fear of heaven and of bad things--and try to make them better, where you can. 

Fearless is for those who want to be stupid, act reckless, and end up mortally wounded or prematurely dead. 

Fearsome is for those who want to confront their fears head on, manage them wisely, and make the most of the opportunities in a risk-reward managed way. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 3, 2015

A Pushy B*tch/B*stard

I remember the funny commercials of the vacuum cleaner salesman, who when he didn't get anywhere with his pushy verbal sales tactics, he would put his foot in the door as the homeowner was trying to close the door on him.

However, pushy doesn't just get your foot crushed in the door, but typically backfires as a means of convincing anyone of anything. 

If someone says no, as a recent sexual abuse poster said, then the answer is no--an unwanted advance is not wanted, period--get it?

You can't push yourself into bed with someone non-consensually, and you can't successfully push a product or service or idea unto others who just really aren't sold--eventually they will push it right back in your hostile, pushy face. 

It's one thing to make a sound argument if/when another person is willing to hear you out, and it's another to push, push, push, and just not take a hint--not interested!

On the show, The Last Kingdom, this past week, the English priest was trying to convince the violent Danish Viking to convert to Christianity--the priest thought that it was working as he continued to work the Viking over, until suddenly, the viking stands up and thrusts a sword through the priest.

Pushiness over!

If you can make a poignant argument for something and influence things for the better by all means try, but if you are just going to act the pushy b*tch, then be ready for the fallout from a non-receptive and eventually hostile audience. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

November 2, 2015

A Feel Good But Deeply Ailing U.S. Economy

Get comfortable with your salary, because it isn't going anywhere positive--payrolls are stagnant!

The Wall Street Journal reports that wages since the recession "have grown slowly, advancing at a pace of about 2% annually" for a total of 12% since 2009.

In contrast, in the 20 years prior to the recession, wages "grew on average better than 3% annually"--that's 50% more increase per year!

Sure some of the increase is now coming in the form of benefits growth, such as time off, subsidized commuting costs, and health insurance premiums, but workers still need to be able to pay their bills. 

For the federal workforce, things have even been worse with pay raises of "just 2% [total] over the last five years" and a proposed 1.3% (with locality pay) for 2016.

Is it surprising then the innovation--one of our greatest strengths--is also drastically slowing in the United States. We are not rewarding risk with reward like we used to--and that changes the whole innovation equation!

Also no surprise then that mergers and acquisition are booming as the key to corporate growth as well as cost-savings through economies of scale are seen as one of the only ways to wring out profit growth in companies bottom lines.

All in all:

While inflation is up an average of 2.13 over the same 10-year period.

- This leaves the average household more than 6% worse off then they were a decade ago...that's a lot of time to be working and getting negative returns on your investment of time and effort.

Combine this with:

Manufacturing down to only 9% of jobs in the U.S. economy

- The country's ongoing spending binge--a national debt that has doubled over 8 years from around $10 trillion to almost $20 trillion by 2017 and interest payments about to take off with rising interest rates.

- Throw in a arms-race with China and Russia and the aging Baby Boomers setting up the economy for dramatic increases in Social Security and Medicare

And the "fun" NOT is only just beginning. ;-)