October 13, 2015

Fantastic Drone Capabilities Coming

Exciting video by Futurism on what drones can and will do. 


Wall landings.


Drone on drone landings.

Playing catch.


Building a rope bridge. 

These little drones are so versatile and dexterous that perhaps what they can do is only limited by our imagination. 

Soon drones will do everything from caring for people's personal needs to building our cities, fighting diseases from within our very bodies, and conducting open warfare on the battlefield and behind enemy lines. 

Small and many is big and powerful! ;-)

October 12, 2015

Terrorism Knows No Boundaries

Another stabbing in Jerusalem--right in the back of the head!

So far 18 terror stabbings in Israel in less than 10 days.

You never know when it's coming until the blade sears through the air and into the head, neck, chest, or back of the victim.

In an apartment, at a shopping center, riding a bus, on the way to prayer--no one is safe!

Today, one 13-year old boy is in critical condition after being stabbed nearly a dozen times while riding his bicycle in Jerusalem.

The stabbing attacks are coming on top of shootings, stonings, bombings, molotov cocktails, and vehicular hit and runs.

The call for a third Intifada to terrorize and kill Jews in Israel is underway.

This on top of last year's Gaza War when thousands of rockets where fired targeting Israeli cities and critical infrastructure as well as terror tunnels coming under the border to murder and abduct Israelis.

But Israel is not alone in fighting a wave of global terror--it is engulfing the Middle East and farther--from Libya to Syria, Yemen to Turkey, Iraq to Afghanistan--and hundreds of thousands of refugees are streaming to Europe.

Bombing of markets, weddings, funerals, houses of worship, and even peace rallies.

Chemical weapons, beheadings, hacking off limbs, crucifixions, burning victims alive, abductions of women and children, slavery, and gang rape, are now virtually accepted items in the International news, and on a daily basis. 

Next in the mix--maybe some suitcase or missile-tipped nukes delivered by impassioned Jihadists?

For now, we are watching from our perch of safety and security here and in Europe, but what when what we witness happening "over there" eventually comes over here...

Have we become so used to and callous to all the terrorism that we barely even blink an eye anymore when we read, hear, or see it?

While terrorism knows no physical boundaries, perhaps with an ever-increasing tempo of sickeningly outrageous and barbaric terrorist acts, it knows no boundaries to our soul anymore either.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Facebook via Documenting Anti-Semitism)

October 11, 2015

Imagining The Unimaginable

So today, I am imagining the unimaginable, and thinking the unthinkable. 

What if extremists in Iran stopped hating Israel and the United States, and instead liked or even loved us?

Not because of the recent agreement on nukes and lifting of sanctions, but actually in spite of it--because as the Ayatollah has said, he prohibits any further negotiations and often refers to the U.S. as it's enemy (the only thing missing is the usual Iranian chants of "Death to America!").

But today, I saw the Iranian family again the I referred to in a Sept. 27 blog post, where the father had a stroke and the son comes on the weekends from Texas to help his father with physical and occupational therapy to recuperate. 

Well today, I saw the daughter too, and both she and the son where in the pool trying to help the father in every way to move and walk again. They swarmed around him in such loving-kindness, I couldn't believe the amazing display of love and devotion to any parent or disabled person. They were all there for him!

And my heart opened up, and I couldn't help thinking what if the Iranian leadership could be moderated by average normal people who just want to care for their families, earn a living, and worship and live in freedom? 

What if the Iranian leadership could learn to forgive and love again those who they have hated for so long and so much--the USA and Israel?

If the U.S. can forgive Iran for the hostage crisis that took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 long days and the bombing of the Beirut barracks that killed 241 marines, and Israel can forgive the endless Hezbollah terror attacks, the bombing of the Argentinian Jewish Center that killed 29 and wounded 250, the Holocaust denial, and threats of maniacal genocide...then surely, Iran can forgive the U.S.'s role in the 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power and can forgive Israel for merely existing!

As a son of Holocaust survivors, I am a die-hard for the defense and security of the Jewish people, so maybe today I am just being naive, foolish, or letting my imagination run wild. 

But I feel that Hashem is putting the words on the screen through my fingertips...what if Esau can stop hating Jacob? What if Iran can stop hating the USA and Israel and there can be peace and not war?

This is a fantasy, but perhaps it can become a reality.

Instead of the cycle of hate, the sponsorship of terror, the secret building of nukes, and aggression escalating until ultimately major devastating military strikes...instead imagine abandoning the old hateful and belligerent ways...imagine forgiveness for the past transgressions and affronts...imagine peace!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 10, 2015

David And Goliath - It's Biblical!

There are 22 Arab Countries versus 1 Jewish State of Israel.

The Arabs Countries far outnumber Israel with 64 times as many people, 760 times as much land, and 10 times as much GDP. 

Overall the world's Muslim population is even so much larger with 50 majority-Muslim countries and 1.6 billion Muslims. 

Some moderate Muslim or Arab countries are friendlier and have peace treaties with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, and others like Saudi Arabia are cooperating with Israel against a common Iranian threat. 

However, it is no secret that many other Arab nations and especially Iran would like to see Israel wiped off the map with a total genocide of the Jewish people (just 70 years since the Holocaust).

This last week alone in Israel there were over 150 terrorist attacks (including shootings, stabbings, stonings, firebombs, and more)!

To the west, just last year in 2014, there were over 4,500 missiles fired by Hamas-controlled Gaza indiscriminately into Israel. 

To the north, Hezbollah is estimated to have 100,000 rockets pointed at Israel. 

To the northeast, ISIS is menacing Israel with possible chemical weapons and even nukes if they get their hands on them. 

To the east, Iran is threatening Israel with ongoing development of nukes and ballistic missiles.

Many Christians and Jews clearly see the Biblical underpinnings for the threats to Israel and want to protect the Holy Land. 

One Central American, Christian lady told me today that she and all the people in her church love Israel and want it to be protected. 

She said many, many people are dissatisfied with the current state of pullback from the Middle East and what was always the iron-clad support for Israel. 

Further, the United Nations has been swayed by the numbers against Israel for decades--just last year alone, there were 20 resolutions singling out Israel versus 1 resolution against Syria, even though the war in Syria in the last 4 years has killed more than 10 times the number of those killed in the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict.

While many extremists falsely try to portray themselves as the underdog in this fight against Israel, the facts speak for themselves, and the Bible is clear--in the end, David does beat Goliath. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


October 9, 2015

It Doesn't Get Better Than This

This video was composed and produced by one of my very talented colleagues, David Ausman (2015). 

I was really impressed by the skill and creativity of this music video as well as the vivid portrayal of a fantasy vacation to Havana, Cuba. 

He recorded it in his own voice and used Garageband and his digital piano to jazz it up. 

When I asked him how he got the idea for this, he said that his associates overhead and told him a friendly conversation they overhead that went like this:

"Bob: Bill! I haven't see you in ages. How have you been?

Bill: Bob, you old sob! How ya doing?

Bob: I'm doing great, especially since I'm no longer posted in [edited out].

Bill: I know, I know. So how are you liking it back home?

Bob: (pointing his finger at Bill) It doesn't get better than this!

Bill: (pointing back) Yeah, it doesn't get better than this!"

Now that he shared this funny story with me, I also can't stop thinking about some fantasy fun trip somewhere. 

And most important that when we appreciate everyone and everything we have in our lives then "It [truly] doesn't get better than this!" ;-)

October 8, 2015

Please Tell Us Your Diabolical Intentions

So Russia is escalating in Syria (from devastating air strikes to sea-launched cruise missiles, and now a possible land offensive) and even considering expanding into Iraq. 

"We believe this is a fundamental mistake."  --Maybe a mistake for us, but not for Russia who is wielding their mighty bear claws and showing a decisive victory!  

"We are not prepared to cooperate on strategy."  -- Is this perhaps because we don't have one, and Russia apparently does. 

"Syria is not going to turn into a proxy war between the Russia and the United States." -- Okay, so the alternative is to capitulate and give the Middle East over to Russia, like with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. And what then will we let over to the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians next (because there's no reason for them to stop there)? 

"One of the profound difficulties dealing with Russia in Syria or elsewhere is how opaque Putin's intentions are and how the Russia system lies about what they are up to." -- Gee whiz, we can't figure out what Russia is up to as they slam Assad's opposition (that we are supporting) into smithereens? We're expecting the competition to tell us their strategy, and why should they do that? 

This last one is perhaps the most bizarre as we all implicitly understand that an adversary is not going to divulge their strategy, and moreover are using misinformation and deception to throw us off balance and advance their objectives. 

It is time for us to bring sanity back to the military equation here.


- Establish a no fly zone over Syria. 

- Put our own base on the ground or military assets into sharp play. 

- Issue a cease and desist ultimatum and mean it. 

The time for losing is over, and the time for winning must begin. 

We can pretend that we can look the other way and simply avoid a conflict, but all we are doing is bringing ever more devastating confrontation that much closer as we lose ground, credibility, and allies (who fear the commitment and iron hand of Russia far more than our own wavering and dubious one)--and we deceive ourselves far more than our adversaries could ever deceive us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


October 7, 2015

Outskirts City Life

Liked this piece of art, which I am calling Outskirts City Life. 

In the background, under cloudy skies, the tall city buildings--sort of wobbly with all the people and goings-on, which in a way we want to leave behind for some peace and quiet. 

In the foreground is a bridge and park with some sun and trees and people talking, sitting and laying in the grass and a lonesome car driving by.

The colors are vibrant, the shapes are almost like three-dimensional cut-outs making a sort of fairy tale feeling to the whole landscape. 

The picture is overall one where we balance hectic life in the city with the restfulness and tranquility of surrounding nature. 

It's a life where harmony is made by conscious choice and actions to promote a healthy body and mind amidst what we seek to do and accomplish and all that which we are asked to bear for it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 6, 2015

Kiss Me Where

OMG, so I had a major mess up last night. 

I go to a Sephardic synagogue and they have a custom of not just shaking hands, but kissing (not really) each other by sort of tapping each other first one cheek to cheek and then the other side. 

So this lady friend comes into shule (with her fiancee who walks away for a moment) while the dancing is going on with the Torah for the holiday, and she makes the signal moves for the cheek to cheek greeting to me.

But this whole custom is still sort of unfamiliar to me, and I mess it up big time!

I must've turned my head to the left when I should've turned right or something, and rather than end up cheek to cheek, I end up in this very awkward lip on lip kiss with her.

(Oh shit, that didn't just happen, did it?)

We both sort of jump backwards, and my wife is standing there in disbelief cracking up at the whole thing. 

This lady quickly turns away, and I quickly turn the other way, and I am just looking up at the ceiling thinking what did I just do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Love My Lava Lamp

We couldn't resist getting this lava lamp.

Only $26 at Spencer's.

My wife says, "This is special!"

We had one of these years ago when we first got married. 

Not sure what happened to it over the years--maybe it felt dated and got tossed at some point.

Now it just feels so good to turn it on and see the colorful lava bubbling up and down.

1970's--don't care, love it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 5, 2015

A Ricksha With A Worthwhile Message

This guy is pedaling this ricksha around town in Maryland, USA. 

And it carries messages of hope and peace. 

Some examples (visible in the photo):

- "Promote the Olympic spirit."

- "Hope for world peace."

- "Protecting mother earth."

It looks like he could be right off the streets of China or something and transported here to deliver and remind us of these important ideas. 

What is interesting to me is that in this day and age of social media and online advertising where messages are often drowned out amidst the daily deluge we get, that here a simple ricksha can grab people's attention and perhaps have a positive influence on them.

With just some subtle messaging along the vehicle's canopy and with pictures and flags around the back.

Perhaps it's not only how much one advertises and promotes, but how thought-provoking and novel it's done. 

I don't know how many miles this guy can pedal a day, but I bet he gets more likes than much of the garbage just being throw up online because it's so easy and available for everyone to do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 4, 2015

No More Flooding With Permeable Pavement

Very cool solution to flash flooding called Topmix Permeable by Tarmac (a U.K. sustainable building materials company). 

The concrete literally drinks up hundreds of gallons of water. 

Where the heck does all the water go? 

If you're walking, no more soggy shoes and pant's bottoms. 

If your driving, even more important is the potential life-saving element for about 75 people that die in vehicles every year when they try get caught in the vehicles in flash flood conditions. 

Also, many potential accidents, injuries, and deaths could be averted by people whose car's go hydroplaning on wet road surfaces.

Finally, think how transportation would be faster and more efficient (with less traffic) from better road conditions with innovations like this.

With this new material on our roads and some added heat elements to prevent snow and ice, we got some darn good road-safety going on. ;-)

Indian Food All You Can Eat--Is That A Good Thing?

So after we couldn't find the Amazing Maze today, we went to this all you can eat buffet of Indian food. 

Nice, clean place...

Food is set out finely in metal trays over burners. 

My wife says, "What a bargain!"

The problem is I can only eat vegetables, and it's all the heavy Indian type. 

I am a good boy with the diet--NO carbs--and pass on the pastry fried samosas, the hot leavened nan, the thin stir-fried noodles, and even on the quality orange basmati rice.

What's left for me on my plate?

- Chick peas and sauce.

- Green peas and sauce.

- Eggplant and sauce.

- Creamy saucy spinach, just a tad.

- Sweet finely-chopped mushy carrot halava. 

Each wasn't bad, but wait this isn't balanced--lots of mushy veggies in a superbly gross buttery way--all sort of just swooshing around without any substance food to soak it up. 

I need a Starbucks or sugar Coke to wash this all down and away--not enough time though...

Oh G-d, I want to make a big Indian buffet puke (even technology can't save me from this)! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 3, 2015

Russia Seems To Have A Strategy, Why Don't We?

Russia upends the U.S. and NATO once again, now carrying out a third day of a devastating bombing campaign that shows no sign of letting up in Syria. 

Russia is leapfrogging us to pursue their goals of keeping dictator Bashar Al Assad, tightening up on a renewed cozy relationship with Iran and Iraq--in what is the prime oil basin of the world--and reestablishing their place on the world stage as a superpower (apparently, Crimea wasn't the end, but just the beginning), and at the same time killing U.S.-backed Syrian rebels

But what about our efforts...

Well, we've had "dismal results" after dilly dallying around in Syria for the better part of its 4 1/2 year civil war that's killed over 250,000 people and created 5 million refuges streaming across the Middle East and Europe, and we keep having to "rethink" our strategy there. 

At the same time, as to our war to defeat the terrorist ISIS caliphate--who vows to smuggle nukes into America and plans a "religious cleansing" of hundreds of millions--uh, they continue to grow!

What about our more than 10 year investment in Iraq--where we spent over $2 trillion and in which almost 37,000 of our service members were either killed or wounded?  --Iraq is now cooperating with...Russia!

How about Iran--for whom we went to the mat with a controversial deal to relieve their sanctions and provide them hundreds of billions of dollars to funnel into their economy as well as global terror? --Iran is allying themselves with Russia (and Hezbollah), deepening their foray into Syria, and continue their threats to annihilate Israel and chants of death to America!

Then to hear yesterday that not only don't we have a strategy as has been the reframe for months, but that we are not going to play chess or get into a proxy war in the Middle East with Russia...well gee, the world game of strategy and brinksmanship is not going to stop for us. 

Just because we don't have a (good) strategy and don't want to play global chess anymore doesn't mean Russia, Iran, China, and others aren't going to forge ahead with their dangerous strategies and gains. 

We are a wealthy, mighty, and innovative nation--surely, we have a strategy in this country of over 319,000,000 people, somewhere. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 2, 2015

Am Yisrael Chai!

"For in every generation there rose up those to destroy our people.

In antiquity, we faced destruction from the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome.

In the Middle Ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion.

And in modern times, we faced the pogroms and Holocaust.

Yet the Jewish people persevered.

And now another regime has arisen swearing to destroy Israel.

That regime would be wise to consider this.

I stand here today representing Israel a country 67 years young, but the nation state of a people nearly 4,000 years old.

Yet, the empires of Babylon and Rome are not represented in this hall of nations.

Neither is the thousand year Reich.

Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone.

But Israel lives.

The people of Israel live.

Am Israel Chai!"

- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  United Nations, 2015

Insomnia Hurts Like Hell

Insomnia is a horrible ailment that many people suffer with and they do this in the dark and in silence. 

Because when the rest of the world is sleeping, you are lying in bed like a log awake--and not sure how you going to get to sleep or stay awake the next day.

What follows are sleepless nights, sometimes groggy days, and anxiety about even going to bed at night. 

How do I know this?

I've been battling insomnia since my hip's deteriorated painfully, and I had a number of hip replacement surgeries, and a lengthy recovery process, including lots of swimming. 

Despite melatonin, warm baths, and even some sleeping meds, my nights were filled with plenty of staring at the ceiling alternating with tossing and turning in bed. 

I was almost at the point of giving up hope on being able to sleep normally again, and then something occurred to me. 

Stop the meds and just pray!

Over a few days I weaned off the sleep meds, and was feeling really crappy and headachy. 

But the real difference was when I got into bed, I remembered and recited the prayers of my youth from before bedtime. 

And I added for G-d to please help me sleep normally again.

The very first night...I slept perfectly!

Now, it's been three nights in a row--in Judaism, we call that a chazakah (something that is established). 

I am so grateful to G-d for returning me to restful sleep-filled nights--thank you Hashem!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

October 1, 2015

Settle Things Like Adults

This was a funny picture on the Metro in Washington, D.C.

On their commute, one lady is reading her newspaper and one gentlemen is listening to his iPod.

On the man's shirt, it says something like:

"Let's settle this like adults: Rock-Paper-Scissors."

Adults are in so many senses just like big children. 

We get into disagreements, arguments, and fights, and then don't know how to get out of them and resolve things.

Hence, the old "Rock-Paper-Scissors."

- Rock beats scissors.

- Paper beats rock.

- Scissors beats paper.

Everything can beat something. 

And everybody is right from their own perspective on things. 

Decision is by the luck of the draw between two people--throwing off hands gestures. 

Probably just as good (if not better) than how most decisions get made and disputes get resolved in everyday real life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

September 30, 2015

Chabad Making A Difference

Beautiful job by Rabbi Yudi Steiner of George Washington University hosting the Chabad Sukkot Barbecue in Washington, D.C.

The Rabbi was there welcoming students and Jews from around town to a sweet BBQ luncheon in the sukah. 

And the students were making the blessing with the Rabbi on the lulav and esrog for the holiday.

As always, Chabad is out there making a difference in Jewish lives, helping them do mitzvot, and spreading cheer and unity wherever they are. 

We are so lucky to have wonderful Lubavitch chasidim all around the world helping Jews be better Jews. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Trader Joe's Is Growing On Me

I took this photo in Trader Joe's.

I like how organized (and colorful) they are.

A binder for everything...dairy, produce, bread, cereal, meat, cheese, snacks, cookies and candy, frozen goods, beverages, and flowers, , 

Another binder for training...nice, they care about their employees.

And even for donations--another sign proudly stated that the store had donated $925,000 of goods so far this year...that's pretty amazing!

I previously wrote about 10 Reasons To Love Trader Joe's (and 2 to not), but this store is continuing to grow on me. 

Especially with all the healthy eating you can do from there--that's probably the most important reason of all to shop there. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


September 29, 2015

Russia Outwits Us Again x 4

You can't build the world from the backseat. 

Either we're in it or we're not. 

Instead, Russia has jumped into the driver's seat, and we're not coming out looking too good on the world stage. 

- In 2013 they took in and continue to shelter Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who ran to Hong Kong after allegedly leaking oodles of NSA classified information.

- In 2014, Russia conducted a blitzkrieg and took Crimea from sovereign Ukraine (giving it a strategic port in the Black Sea), and are conducting a separatist war in the eastern part of the country. 

- In 2015, Russia enters the Syrian crisis and allies themselves with dictator, Bashar Al Assad (who has used chemical weapons on his own people), as well as with Iran and Iraq.

- Additionally, Russia is taking the lead role in the oil and mineral rich Arctic bolstering their presence and militarizing, including building new ice-breakers (while our Coast Guard has only one operational). 

Some people have said mockingly, "Well what should we do, start a war with Russia?"

And the answer is an unequivocal, no. 

But I assume they don't want to start a war with the U.S. either. 

Rather, this is the Cold War Part II, where we are fighting by proxy in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Arctic.

If we want the world to be modeled on freedom, human rights, and democracy then we need to be able to stand up for those things that are important to us.

Yes, we have to care about what's going on here at home too, but we don't live in a bubble, although surrounded by oceans on the east and west coast, we can sometimes easily feel that way. 

It's a big world--and it takes tremendous leadership to bring it along a good and noble path.

The leadership role will not stay vacant for long...it can be us if we want it, or else you might as well flip a coin on either Russia or China. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

September 28, 2015

Relating To G-d Through Rules And Relationships

So we had some friends come visit last night. 

They are religious Christians (brother and sister) who love the Jewish people, and one of them actually attends our synagogue on a regular basis. 

We had a nice time talking and eating, and I also learned an interesting religious lesson.

The man told me how he understood that Judaism is very focused on rules (i.e. laws) that people are supposed to follow as laid out in the Torah.

But he said, it is also important to build a relationship with G-d.

The relationship being about sincerely knowing that G-d is there for us, that we are bound to him, that we express our gratitude for everything he does for us, and that we ask him for what we need. 

I think the main difference in how he described it was that is was not in a rote and ritualistic type of way, but rather as in a real relationship, where we talk to G-d naturally and recognize him benevolently and lovingly. 

As Jews, we know we cannot substitute a loving relationship with G-d for doing what we are commanded to do, but perhaps we can do both. 

We can follow the rules--the do's and don'ts--AND we can bind with G-d in a one on one relationship--where we are and feel bound to him not just because we must, but rather because we really love him for creating us, sustaining us, and he is the ultimate good in universe.

When we are in a "relationship" with G-d, it's because he is someone we want to cling to, relate to, talk to, and yearn for. 

This is a just little different than how I learned about this in yeshiva, where it was much more about loving and fearing G-d in a rule-based way--again because we are commanded to do it.

But perhaps it is nice also to love and fear G-d, because he is G-d and we are in a deep and growing relationship with him. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


September 27, 2015

Beautiful Brookside Gardens

Today, we visited Brookside Gardens in Maryland.

My daughter needed to do some drawing for her art class.

We took the opportunity to enjoy the unbelievable beautiful nature there. 

If only the whole Earth was allowed to exist in such pristine form. 

No overcrowding, overdevelopment, and polluting of the planet. 

Just respect for Mother Earth and the bounty and miracles we are allowed to enjoy. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)


Evil Cannot Be In Charge

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 

Hating and liking. 

For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the "Axis of Evil" and the arch enemy of America and Israel

Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 

Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.

These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 

One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.

The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 

Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 

The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 

I stopped to speak with them, and the man's wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 

The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 

The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son's shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 

I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 

Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 

It's amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 

On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.

On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.

We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 

As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 

When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

September 26, 2015

When In Doubt

I like this sign that I saw in a local place of business that buys and sells goods. 

"When in doubt--PASS!"

How many times are we faced with a challenging situation, and we are not quite sure what to do.

We hem and haw and go back and forth in our minds whether we should really do it?

But like my wife and I came to with decision-making in general a while ago, "If it isn't yes, then it's no."

When that little something inside is giving you pause, doubt, and holding you back...there is usually a very good reason. 

STOP yourself right there--listen to your gut and instinct.

If you don't, you'll pay the price afterwards for making a bad call that you knew deep down was a big no-no to begin with. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

September 25, 2015

Kid's Games, For Survival Mostly

Some nights, I dream of fighting and others of running for my very life.  

This last night, I woke up from the dream, and thought how these instincts of fight or flight are so pervasive in our lives, and even in our sleep. 

But more than that, we are literally from the youngest age, programmed for survival (of the fittest). 

Ok, here's a simple hypothesis about kid's play:  

Kid's play is not just play, but rather the preparation through acting out of these basic human survival instincts.

At it's core, kids games mimic the fundamental human tendencies of fight or flight. 

Think for a second of some of the most popular games that kids play...the ones that mostly have been around forever, and kids from the youngest of ages gravitate too.

Tag -- Running after from someone else running after you. 

Hide and Go Seek -- Running to hide from someone looking to find you.

Play Fighting -- Fighting an opponent to see who is stronger and can overcome the other. 

Action Figures -- Often superheroes and villians that once again, fight each other.

Dress Up -- Girls often dress as the beautiful princesses to be admired by boys who are in turn dressed as (macho) heroes that seek to protect them. 

Video Games -- The most popular ones, first-person shooter (fighting) and racing (running away, faster than anyone else, and over the finish line or into the safety zone). 

Whether we are playing games, sleeping and dreaming, or going about our daily life activities, make no mistake, we are in survival mode. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


September 24, 2015

Fashion As Art

I took this photo today in Washington, D.C.--although it seemed for a moment like I was magically transported to downtown Beijing. 

What an stunning outfit this lady is wearing!

Fashionable yet modest, with brilliant colors, and contrasting patterns and solids--more like art than clothing. 

She is walking with a complete fluid grace--even while she's reading on her smartphone. 

Don't tell Dossy--Oh, she's right here! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyone's Heart Is Something

This video has gone viral since Monday. 

A 6-year old girl instructs her mom and dad on how to treat each other better after her parent's divorce. 

"I just want everyone to be friends."

"If I can be nice, I think all of you can be too."

"I want everyone to smile."

"I think you can get your mean heights to low heights."

"My heart is something. Everyone's heart is something."

"If we live in a world where everyone is mean, then everyone will be a monster. What about the future?"

"If there is a little bit of person, we will eat them, then no one will ever be here, only the monsters will be in our place,"

"I want everything to be good and possible, nothing else."

So innocent and pure are her words.

Yes, a wake-up call to all of us!

If G-d can endow us with such pristine souls, surely we can nurture these and one day return them to the Maker, certainly no worse for the wear, and maybe even some better with good deeds done. ;-)

September 22, 2015

Requirements, I Don't Know

This was a funny cartoon. 

Who are we?  


What do we want?

We don't know!

When do we want it?


This is like way to many IT projects...

The customer knows they need to do something, because of changing market conditions, internal (dys)functioning, arising competition, or external mandates and regulations. 

But when the IT project managers and business analysts interview and ask the customer what they want and need to address these...quite often they get blank faces and hands raised in circuitous, endless doubt. 

What do the customers really want?

For IT to define, solve, and make their problems go away--and by the way do it yesterday and without any extra / proportionate resources

For some IT "professionals" that may be a little lacking themselves, you end up getting half-assed solutions to half-baked requirements that accomplish nothing or perhaps even break things more.

Hence, the true miracle of technology--to read minds and deliver valuable solutions to problems that no one could fully define to begin with! ;-)

(Source Cartoon: Roz Blumenthal @ Facebook)

Yom Kippur, When The Masks Come Off

This mask does not mean that Jews have horns--that is a crappy and evil stereotype, so cut it out. 

Masks are dress-up and pretend, like the way most people behave day-in and day-out. 

People imagine and feign to be what they would like to be or what they want others to believe they are. 

Like when someone is gearing up for a fight, they extend their arms, raise their voices, bob up and down to make themselves appear bigger and more formidable than they really are. 

It's a fake out--but perception is (often) reality. 

Similarly, people may wear clothes, drive cars, or live in big fancy homes that make them look well-to-do, but really it's a great act and all bought on extensive credit (ever hear of 0% down!). 

Others may dream of being seen as smart and the go-to guy for answers, the subject matter expert, or the generally wise person for advice and guidance, but are they really smarter than everyone else or do the degrees plastering the wall like wallpaper or titles like doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, professor, and Rabbi simply often invoke credentials and an air rather than the smarts that should accompany them.

Even parents may pose for loving pictures with their children, seem to dote on them, and act the helicopter parents, but still when it comes to their own busy schedules, they have no real time or attention left for the little ones--because the parents put themselves first. 

It happens all the time, every which way, the authority figure who really abuses their authority rather than lives up to it. 

People are human, weak, fallible--and the show is often a lot better than the characters behind it. 

But that doesn't mean we stop trying to be inside what we know we really should be--more loving, caring, giving, and good people. 

This is the essence of Yom Kippur to me, the Day of Atonement--the day when we shed all our phony masks--and instead we bear out our sins, bend our heads with shame, are sorry for what we have done wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

Yom Kippur is the day when all the masks are off--we cannot hide from G-d Almighty, the all seeing and all knowing.  

On Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement we are inscribed, and on Yom Kippur the book is sealed. 

In Judgement, we may enter the court of heaven with heads still held up high, with the same act that we try to show every day, but on Yom Kippur we leave the court with our heads down and our hands humbly clasped, the sentence meted out for who we really are--based not on pretense, but on our underlying behavior.

A mask covers what is, when the mask is off we are left with who we are--naked before our maker, where all is revealed, and we must account for our actions--good, bad, or even just plain indifferent. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

September 21, 2015

Mindful Treatment Of The Disabled

What great brain at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with the idea to curb access to prosthetics for the disabled?

What is supposedly driving CMS?

It's a half-wit effort to put a dent in fraud for lower-limb prosthetics --estimated at just $43 million relative to CMS's annual budget of close to $1 trillion!

Uh, doesn't CMS have anything better to do then pick on disabled people missing one or more legs?

The profound dumbness of the proposed CMS new rules would limit amputees from possible reimbursement for artificial limbs for example, "if they use assistive devices such as canes or crutches."

But isn't that precisely what someone who can't walk and is missing a limb would use???

Here's the next doozy...CMS would limit advanced prosthetics "if the device doesn't enable them to walk with the appearance of a natural gait."

OMG, this is too much!

People with disabilities who require help need it precisely because they are not "natural" in their mobility functions--that is what we are seeking to help them with. 

You're going to penalize someone from getting artificial limbs because they still can't walk completely normal with fake limbs like with real ones?

Moreover, if the Veteran's Administration adopts these rules, this will also affect our wounded warfighters. 

G-d (and the Secretary of HHS) needs to put some sense back in the minds of the people who, in this case, instead of helping the disabled are misguidedly working against them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)


September 20, 2015

Apple Picking At Waters Orchard

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)