December 22, 2014

No Soup For You!

Remember the "Soup Nazi" in Seinfeld?

After some silly insulting encounter, the Soup Nazi refuses to give Jerry any soup saying in his deep accent, "No soup for you."

Well, when I walked in the local pizza store and saw this sign on the counter, I couldn't help but laugh a little.

It's the real thing...and it says, "Sorry No Soups Tonight."

And it's sort of sloppily written on a guest check and placed in a Coca Cola holder. 

I wasn't too disappointed with the news though, since who gets the soup at a pizza joint anyway?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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December 21, 2014

Graduation Day

So proud of Minna graduating from University of Maryland today. 

And in only 3 1/2 years...record time, while she worked an internship too.

With a major in communication, please G-d she will go out as the keynote speaker said, "the glue that mends broken dialogue" in society.  

Communications comes from community...from marketing and branding to public relations and diplomacy, communications is key in everything we do from vetting ideas, innovating, decision making, teamwork, and even social media. 

Lots of luck in your future and may Hashem bless you in all that you do.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 20, 2014

2014 The Bad News Goes On

What a 2014 it's been as the world continues it's descent into madness.  

If Ebola, the War with Hamas in Gaza, the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 killing 298 including 80 children and 15 crew, the intransigence of Iran on Nuclear Weapons, employment still near a 30-year low, the National Debt hitting over $18 trillion (and growing $2.43 billion a day!) and the suicide of comedian, Robin Williams wasn't enough...

- Criminal Records: 1 in 3 adult Americans (i.e. 80 million people) now have a criminal record...hmm, if the average family has around 2.5 people then just about 1 person per household has a criminal record. Are you starting to look around you now?


- Economy: Uber, yes, it's a online "ride-sharing" (i.e. taxi) service, but after it's recent IPO, Uber is worth over $41 billion dollars (more than Delta, Charles Schwab, Salesforce.com, and Kraft Foods). Someone's getting taken for a ride. Is this even surprising considering the S&P is priced over 27 times average 10-year earnings (while the historical average is only 16), the result of pumping the economy with short term easy money policies.  


- Cyber Attacks: After a blithering cyber attack by North Korea, Sony withdraws the release of the movie, The Interview, surrendering to cyber terror, and putting us all at greater risk in the future because cyber crime does pay!


- Islamic Terrorism: While ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq, 132 school children (mostly ages 6-18) plus 9 adults massacred by the Taliban this week in Peshawar, many shot in the head and others lit on fire with gasoline and burnt to death so they are unrecognizable. This only 9 months after the April kidnapping by Boko Haram of more than 280 schoolgirls in Nigeria, which was repeated this week with the kidnapping of another 185 woman and children.


- Russian Militarism: The Great Bear is back with a vengeance as Putin continues driving Russian nationalism and buildup of advanced weapons, including WMD (e.g. nukes), aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs to counter alleged "Western Aggression." And despite, the rubbles' massive decline, Putin promises an economic comeback within 2 years--he'll wait out the West and hold Crimea hostage and spoil it for everything it's worth


So where are we going next--more hell on Earth or at some point a turnaround towards heaven again?   


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 19, 2014

Amazing Advances In Prosthetics


Watch this video...

Where a man who lost both arms over 40 years ago is fitted with these amazing dual prosthetics that he is able to control with his mind and muscle movements. 

Made with financing from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab shows the possibilities for the future for helping everyone from Wounded Warriors to those disabled from accidents and disease. 

G-d creates and we imitate and together we make an incredible flourishing world. ;-)

(Note: My gratitude to Rebecca Blumenthal for sharing this video with me.)
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Cool Cat

So yesterday I was coming home from the fitness center/pool.

I was wearing shorts and pool shoes even though it was only in the 30's-40's temperature out. 

This large man with a Texas accent stops me to ask how I can dress like that around Winter time.

And it's particularly funny, because there is another man overhearing this conversation next to us wrapped up in no less than 2 coats/layers.

So I say in a lighthearted way "I guess that I just have warm blood, so the temperature doesn't really bother me."

He says, "Uh, in Florida, when it goes into the 60's, people start shivering and bundling up down there."

I smile, and say "Well maybe we're just different people."

Then he goes, "I like that--I like people that think different! You know why, [and he pauses and repeats again] you know why?"

I look at him sort of eyes wide open at this point waiting to hear his explanation to the build up. 

And he says, "Because it means they don't give a sh*t what other people think!"

At that point we both started nodding and laughing. 

Maybe you had to be there, but I think you can probably envision this sort of nutty scene.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 18, 2014

Thirsty and Hungry

I took this photo today of this funny banner hanging out a thoroughfare window in Washington, D.C.

This big 6 feet banner says "Moms Drink For Free."

So not sure, is it a special running at the local bar for the holidays or a wish by a bunch of mom's looking to get toasted?

Now, look carefully to the right, and you can see in the next window the messaging continues and it says "+ Send 1 Pizza."

So these "moms" are not only thirty but apparently hungry too--they want pizza and brew!

Not sure to what happened to "moms" just being normal mothers and good role models, and not hanging their menu cravings out the window in downtown. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Yo Mama!

Thought this was cool.

This guy's bright orange bag on the Metro this morning says:

"Hello My Name Is"

And he wrote in "Ask Yo MAMA!!"

How 1960s, yet very present day.

It also matches his orange and white hat and white BEATS earphones and orange coat. 

It speaks volumes...I like it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 17, 2014

Cash And Books

I took this photo in downtown Washington, D.C. today.

It was interesting to me for a number of reasons.

First, the amount and variety of advertising here (and there was more that is not even pictured here) was a little bit incredible, especially in light of the single customer at the stand.

Second, this vendor is buying the books back from the university students at a hotdog stand--yeah, more than a little weird, no?

Aside from the fact that students pay an exorbitant amout for textbooks and then get pennies on the dollar back, now you are encouraged to make your transaction with a street vendor in the cold of December.

Anyway, you think anyone will notice this cash for books stand? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Hanukkah is the holiday of lights and miracles. 

It has special meaning for me as it was many years ago now on the first night of Hanukkah that I went on my first date with my lovely wife, Dannielle.

When I came home, I said to my parents, "This is the one!"

And so it began...

On another note, many of you are probably aware of the famous miracle of Hanukkah that in the ruins of the Jewish Temple, which had been desecrated by the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago, a single vial of oil was found, and although it would normally only last for 1 day to keep the menorah lit, instead it lasted for 8 days (the time it took to prepare a new supply).  

Apparently, the oil supply shocks of the 1970's really weren't that new a phenomenon after all...

Similarly, I recently saw a funny comic that said that the miracle of Hanukkah today is that the smartphone battery that normally last 1 day (or less if you use it a lot during the day) lasts for 8 days.

Clearly, the miracles of ancient times are still fresh with us in modern times as well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Chaos On Metro

Sheer chaos on the Washington, D.C. Metro this morning. 

A water main break suspended the running of the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.

The Metro spokeperson told me pointing with his hand up to his the neck that the water was filling the tunnels and getting way up there--nice!

At the same time, disabled trains on the Red line brought things to a "Major Delay," followed by the offloading of crowded trains because the conductors couldn't get the doors shut.

At the stations themselves, numerous escalators were out of commission, you can see them at boths ends of the station here, and the people were backed up all along the platforms. 

At one point, I got caught on the edge of a platform with a huge crowd pushing up against me, and had to tell the person behind me to please take a step back (that I didn't want to end up on the tracks, why thank you, and believe it or not, some not-so-nice people actually laughed at that!). 

Ufortunately, it didn't take much to see how most of the city can be brought to a snarl or taken right out of commission. 

After 9/11, one has to ask, what have we learned as the Capital of the nation that our basic infrastructure and support systems cannot endure the ups and downs of weather and age, let alone G-d forbid another attack on our soil. 

Hopefully, someone will wake up and step up the planning and preparations here, rather than just spending trillions abroad and with what results. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 15, 2014

Motivate, BAM!

I took this photo of the wallpaper at the gym.

It has "motivate" embossed under the lady with the sparring gloves. 

They have similar hangings for swimming, weightlifting, cycling, and more around the fitness center.

I like them--they are motivational. 

Would be nice if the place also had some big windows, but this ain't bad to keep it fresh. 

BAM! Exercise. BAM! Stay healthy and fit. BAM!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 14, 2014

Reach Out To Lead

The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”

In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 

He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”

While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader's job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.

The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)

Or as JFK stated:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” 

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.

Certainly it wasn't easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!

Yes, this is precisely what leadership is--not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism--and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job" and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!

Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”

In plain English...this is called broken promises and failed leadership!

A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds--whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.

Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?

He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 

Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 

No, we should never stop demanding great leadership--those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 

We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 

In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 

Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.

When one side feels ignored or that they've been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the "my way or the highway" decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 

We don't need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room" or "reach across the aisle"-- to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)
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December 13, 2014

Smartphone Or Kitty Litter

Interesting...Bloomberg Businessweek ran a special anniversary issue with a countdown of the 85 most disruptive ideas (in the last 85 years), and guess where they think the smartphone fell in that?

#78!!! 


Right up there with the white board (#82) and good 'ol high frequency trading (#80).


But not as important as get this...the corporate campus (#77), the VCR (#74), Kitty Litter (#73), Singapore, literally--{Uh, and how about Israel?} (#71), bottled water (#56), High-fructose corn syrup (#48), Air Jordan sneakers (#45), Napster (#43), and junk bonds (#7).


They ranked the smartphone so low in disruption, even after giving it a two-page spread with no less than 32 "things the smartphone killed" and they probably missed a few hundred!


There is no need to list everything the smartphone does for you, because you use these functions every moment of every day


To most people now, the smartphone is one of their most prized possessions and they don't go anywhere without it and rarely do you see anyone not "on it." (Uh, I know more than a few people who even dropped them in the toilet!)


Honestly, Businessweek...I think you missed the significance of the smartphone big time. 


Yeah maybe Starbucks (#68) and the Pill (#9) are competitors, but not as important or disruptive as Kitty Litter...shame on you!  ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Lonely Bob)

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December 12, 2014

Cancer 101


I saw this in a doctor's office and thought it was very educational on Cancer.

The first diagram has a brief definition of cancer and the incidence of cancer type for males and females.

The second explains the stages of cancer, I through IV, and is shown in the small intestine, as an example. 

This stuff is so scary and horrible. 

The "C" word...we should never hear it, say it, or know from it anymore!

G-d should help us find a cure to rid this world of this disease.

Save us from that which afflicts us, and send us a complete healing of body, mind, and soul, Amen!!!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Hair Drying Contraption

Took this photo at the Salon of this hair drying contraption.

The arms actually moves up and down in this crazy arc over a person's head...like butterfly wings flapping away drying from all positions and surfaces of your head.


Looks quite unnecessary, except that it probably makes the customer feel uh so special...having this unique machine working their hair all over (who the heck would have one of these at home). 


Maybe it hovers off the ground and does little whirlies too!


In life, it is up to us to be discerning--what is necessary and real and what is just bluffery and showbusiness.


Yes, there is no business like show business and alien space hairdryers--that fits right in. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 11, 2014

Finals Week

This was a funny (-sad) picture right outside the new Science and Engineering Building at the prestigious George Washington University today. 

It looks much like a noose and is lit up by the glass and modern finishes of this new building. 

So a colleague says jokingly to me "Is that because of [the stress of] finals week?"

Now execution and suicide are definitely not a laughing matter...

But what a juxtaposition of this gorgeous new building going up and the old time hangman's noose (almost) hanging down. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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December 10, 2014

People That We Meet Each Day

This piece of art sort of reminded me of the Sesame Street song "People In Your Neighborhood."

So, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day.

We meet and interact with all types of people...funny and nice to mean and scary. 

Sometimes, you can see it on their faces--or especially in their eyes--who they are and what are their intentions. 

Other times, looks can be grossly deceiving, and we really have no clue who or what we are dealing with--psychopath or good samaritan.

Lately, as I meet or pass people, I see them on two distinct levels:

One is the physcial body they are in...their outward manifestation...the shell or outer casing that houses "them."

Two is the soul or G-dly spirit on the inside...the real them...the part that lived before and will live on even after the outside body is long gone. 

Our bodies are just housings for our souls...some people have physical disabilities, almost like a car that has broken parts over time...but what is inside perceives the greater reality and in a sense is both facilitated through and limited by our bodies--whether whole or broken. 

Sometimes, I feel like I am just looking right through the person and am really seeing their inner essence soul. 

Looks are just outside...inside is the real people we meet each day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 9, 2014

Hair Please Don't

My friend used to joke when someone had a bad hairdo by calling it a "hairdon't."

I took this photo in the mall on Sunday of this mannequin head with hair in multicolors sticking up out of her head in all directions. 

Uh, you gotta be kidding--is this actually going to sell anybody on a new hairdo (unless of course maybe you count it's shock value)?  

See the mirror lying next to it too, so you can actually see how you would look in one of these get ups--if, of course, you really want to. 

When the nice young Asian attendant lady saw me looking at this monstrosity, she runs over like can I help you, seriously.

Yeah, I'm doing some holiday shopping (Chanukah's right around the corner you know), and I'd like to get a new look JUST LIKE THIS!

Not today, but thank you. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 8, 2014

I Want It To Mean Something

So I took this photo in Starbucks--one of the Baristas in Washington, D.C showing his tattoo. 

Not that I am a tattoo guy myself (uh, I'm not!), but I thought this was really an interesting one. 

"We The People Of the United States" -- our Constitution establishing our nation, freedom, democracy, and human rights here. 

Along with pictures of the Capitol, White House, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial (maybe more around the arm...I don't know). 

When I asked him what made him choose this?

He immediately said, "I wasn't originally thinking of a tattoo, but when I did, I wanted it to mean something!"

So this one wasn't just a vanity thing, but has meaning to him and I bet to many others--very cool! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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They Ain't Nothing


So Microsoft has tried to do the copycat thing of the Apple Store. 

See Apple (top photo) streaming with customers trying out their world-class computers and smartphones yesterday. 

See Microsoft (photo underneath) just a few storefronts down in the mall with nice vibrant colors, but just a handful of customers (the non-red shirts) in the entire place.

BTW, I took a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and liked the size (I thought I wouldn't) and ordered one (will be nice I hope to actually see the screen on this thing). 

At the same time, I tried the Microsoft Surface, and my wife says to me can you videotape me showing how long it takes to actually try to figure this thing out--piece of garbage!

It was also confusing why the Microsoft store was selling Dells and other companies computing devices--Ah, maybe because they don't have anything competitive of their own???

Microsoft great try with the overall store (Touche!) but you just don't have the retail products to compete with Apple--and the piles of Xbox in the rear of the store to draw people in--that wasn't working either. 

Microsoft still a winner at enterprise computing, but Apple hands-down has you on personal computing--everyone to their corners. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 7, 2014

U.S. and Israel: BFF

Yes, since the founding of Israel, the United States has been "Best Friends Forever" (BFF) with Israel. 

The U.S. helped found Israel in 1948 and it has graciously invested in Israel financially and military for almost 70 years.

And Israel has been a tried and true friend to America from intelligence, security, and innovation to shared values on human rights, freedom, democracy, and our Judeo-Christian shared roots and beliefs. 

The U.S. and Israel stand together, always.

Yes, administration after administration...the support, friendship, and alliance between the two nations have flourished and been unshakeable.

And while Congress passes unanimously this past week to make Israel a "Major Strategic Partner," something unthinkable and what others have called "unprecedented hostility" is going on elsewhere in our government:

While the U.S. is pulling back sanctions on one of our greatest enemies, Iran (part of the famous Axis Of Evil), it is said to be mulling the imposition of sanctions on one of it's best friends, Israel (Washington Beacon).

How is it that in extremist, terrorist world post 9/11--up to the recent grotesque torture and beheadings of multiple U.S. citizens--that we forget who our friends are and embrace our enemies? 

A world gone mad...and we are trapped in the audience watching the insanity unfold. 

Say it isn't so--not even in Disney World is such a fantastical breach possible. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Everyone Participates

So very infrequently do suggestion boxes actually work. 

In the office, I remember when the suggestion box was put out and the biggest suggestion put into the box was to bring paper towels back to the bathrooms after these had been replaced months before with hand dryers, so the toilets wouldn't get clogged up!

Most of the time suggestions boxes like meetings don't get the participation and input needed. 

Today, in the New York Times, Phil Gilbert says that in the meeting room, "You've got the extrovert, the introvert, the know-it-all and the ambitious steamroller. No matter what the mix, there's always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration--or worse, complacency."

Truthfully, I think Gilbert misses the point--most people don't speak up not out of frustration or complacency--but rather from fear...fear of sounding stupid, fear of people disagreeing with them, and fear of management retribution for saying the"wrong" thing.

In any case, his reflection on how some at IBM deal with this is helpful (although frankly I've heard this approach before and it was from a strategic planning class I believe, and not from IBM):

- Everyone writes their input on sticky notes.

- You go around the room where everyone contributes an idea and posts their note to the wall or board (and you keep doing this until ideas are exhausted). 

- The facilitator groups like ideas/sticky notes to start to form common theme and direction. 

- The group may go out and come back again for another round of ideas and input.

The point is everyone contributes to the discussion...no idea is a bad idea...and not one in the room is left to sit idly in the corner playing with their smartphone, daydreaming, or picking their noses. 

Through vetting and discussion, the best idea(s) become evident. 

I like how Gilbert ends his article emphasizing the importance of getting everyone's ideas out there..."Once you know something, you can't unknow it--you have to act."

Knowing what everyone really thinks is half the battle. 

The other half is executing on the really great ideas that people come up with (Gilbert doesn't address this). 

And again for that you need EVERYONE to contribute their talents...big mouths, naysayers, and do nothings begone! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 6, 2014

10 Reasons To Love Traders Joe's and 2 To Not

There are many reasons to love Trader Joe's, but here's my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):

1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and "convenient". 

2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium--like the "Belgium chocolate" above!

3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store. 

4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy--they've already narrowed the field for you. 

5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles--tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample--the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it--uh, not on my diet, but thanks!

6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done--tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up--ring, ring--a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick. 

7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don't break on the way home and the goodies don't fall out. 

8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside...never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line. 

9) They are eco-friendly and have lot's of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything. 

10) They ask you--and seem to mean it--if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect. 

Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe's that's Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.

So it's not the only store I go to--variety is still the spice of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Dress With Air Conditioning

This was a very cool outfit, indeed. 

This lady in Florida is wearing a dress that is closed/covered up in front, but open--except for these threads, literally--in the behind.

I am fairly sure this was not cheap and someone definitely put a lot of thought into designing it. 

It certainly gets some attention as it's a little unexpected.

Anyway, she was actually a very nice lady who helped me with some ties. 

A good dresser too.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 5, 2014

Paper Thin

I took this photo to show something "paper thin."

Did this after my daughter told me a quote she thought was pretty smart and which I immediately liked as well:

"No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides."

- Jewish Philosopher, Baruch Spinoza

I think of the two sides in terms of peoples opinions.

And it's true, no matter how thin you cut the differences, there will always be at least two views about it--usually more! 

It doesn't make it easy to get to consensus, but I guess we all have to give a little. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal, excuse the glare)
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Let Me Out Of Here

I took this photo in Las Olas. 

This statue of a women in a crate, peering out, is so eerie and awesome to me. 

Reminds me so much of Medieval times when people were punished by being locked up and confined in cages or very narrow prison spaces. 

Talk about claustrophobia?

Anyway, not sure if she is being shipped out or ready to be displayed, but either way, this lady wants out, I am sure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 4, 2014

Fire Truck Pride

I love when I see the fire and rescue vehicles that proudly display the flag. 

Not only are the people that do these jobs heroes in putting their own lives on the line to rescue and save others, but they are patriots as well. 

It's not only about the individuals they save, but also the country they serve. 

In democracys, there is a value for freedom and human rights--where every individual matters.

That's a country to take pride in and something worth risking life and limb for. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 3, 2014

Not The Ad You Want To See In DC

No explanation needed as to why you wouldn't want to see this walking down the street in the Capital. 

Ban this advertisement from Washington D.C. please. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Royal In Red

Took this photo on posh Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale. 

First, I thought this lady was asking for a handout with the cup.

But looks can be deceiving...

As I got closer, I realized that was her morning coffee...really!

Must've been some wild night out.

How come I never get to go to parties like that? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 1, 2014

Exclamation, No Point

Thought this guy had a really interesting shirt...

Just an exclamation mark (nothing else)!

But what's the point of the exclamation mark?

An exclamation mark denotes emphasis--but on what is the emphasis here--is it just on him as a person?

I like the shirt...it says I feel strongly...I am human, and things have meaning to me.

I guess if you want to know the details about what he feels strongly about, you'd have to get to know him better or ask.

Maybe that's the point, the exclamation is that I am worth getting to know...my life has emphasis and meaning...just check me out. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 30, 2014

Shoes On the Dumpster

So I had a great new pair of sandals that I wore just 3-4 times, but they didn't fit right on me.

We wanted to give them to a poor person, but didn't want to just walk up to someone on the street and say, "Hey, do you need a pair of shoes?"

So down in Fort Lauderdale here there are plenty of needy people, and we decided to leave them prominently on a trash/recycle bin on the street where we were confident that someone in need would see them and take them.

We left the shoes at about 5:45 pm and went to the store for some errands, and literally by the time we circled back not half an hour later, the shoes were gone.

It is terrible to see people on the street in need of food, clean clothes, and just a pair of shoes. 

While it was rewarding to see that someone got these shoes, the fact that they were gone so quickly shows me clearly that there is still so much more that needs to be done.

Too much poverty, too much suffering...my daughter says "Dad, we can change things!"

I hope someway we can all make a difference and help all the people that are in need--those are some mighty big shoes we need to fill, but I pray in my heart that G-d will help us all succeed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Colors Of Race

With the race riots in Ferguson again this week, the divide between black and white is once again evident in America.

Coming from big city life in America, like New York City and Washington D.C., I've grown up in divided neighborhoods and united organizations.

For example, just this morning, my daughter and I walking down Las Olas had to duck into an Illy's coffee shop when an impoverished (black) man in dirty clothes and talking loudly to himself turned around on the street and was coming up steadily behind us in a threatening way. Similarly, the day before, there was a (white) lady at the bus stop talking out loud, hallucinating, and thrashing...also scary in this otherwise posh neighborhood.  In other words, these issues are race-agnostic!

Simultaneously, I go to synagogue where blacks and whites (as well as "black hatters" and the modern religious) sit and pray and socialize together, and go to work where many of my esteemed coworkers are African-Americans, and watch as one of my daughter's best friend in school and who she blabs with on the phone is a nice young man who happens to be black

Also, I remember last year I think it was having to move a heavy piece of furniture and one of my black neighbors went out of his way to help me get it upstairs--he was incredibly generous and he and many others where I live are friendly, neighborly, and we live side-by-side together.

We need to move from racial inequality to racial harmony!

We don't have to wait for an alien invasion to realize we are all human beings here on Earth and that we share more than not.

In Fort Lauderdale, by Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and Broward College, the actual intersections of the street are pained in multi-color. 

I love it..not black and white, but the colors of the rainbow...mixed, flowing, getting along, and happy.

Let it be--black and white, yellow, brown, and red--a melting pot, together throughout the world in peace and prosperity. 

No more rioting in Ferguson or elsewhere, but celebration of humanity--nothing more, nothing less. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 29, 2014

From The Bronx To Jamaica

So as a kid, I remember the older folks joking that "wine is fine, but liquor is quicker!"

As we went for some wine for Shabbat in Fort Lauderdale by the beach, we had a whole bunch of surprises in one evening...

- First, I was more than a little surprised to find a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine--in of all places, CVS!

- On the way to CVS, we ran into the Jamaican Man, from our last vacation, who makes straw hats on the corner by the beach, and he sees me and somehow recognizes me--next thing I know he is practically embracing me as if I am one of his best friends, high-fiving and fist-bumping me--yeah, me the Jewish boy from the Bronx (this was a riot)!

- On the way back, there is a lady with her kids in tow on the street, and all of a sudden she turns to one of the younger kids and says in her accented English, "That's almost a $100, you little SH*T!" We could barely believe our ears. 

What a lot of surprises all in one evening from the Bronx to Jamaica. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Soften The Hearts

This last year has shown some difficult negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran.

It seems as if the P5+1 have been doing everything possible to get Iran to stop pursuing dangerous WMD, but that the response is just forever, "No."

So the deadline for a deal was extended once again. 

Many are saying no deal is better than a bad deal--and that certainly makes sense. 

The key is for national and global security to take precedence over any deal for deal's sake.

Everyone desperately wants peace, but it should be a real and lasting and verifiable peace.

Most people are good and want peace, but there are always those extremists who have an irrational hatred and seek nothing but power and destruction, and they says things like they want to "annihilate Israel" or seek to build ICBMs that can reach Europe and America. 

Oh L-rd, please soften the hearts in Iran to agree to a real and lasting peace that safeguards us, and that brings prosperity and betterment to the world. 

Maybe this next extension will be the charm--let's hope and pray.

Note: The characters in the cartoon are fictional and do not intend any disrespect to anyone--simply the hope for a softening of hearts and minds of Iran's leaders, and with that the attainment of a real and verifiable peace with this next round of negotiations. 

All opinions my own.

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A Richy Rich Reward

Check out this lost dog sign in Las Olas.

Do you notice anything unusual?

Look at the amount of the reward for finding this canine.

---Yes, $10,000!!!

A healthy Teacup Yorkie can run you as much as $2,000.

So this reward is 5x that and this kelev is on meds!

Amazing the meaning of money and dogs. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 28, 2014

Just Two Pelicans Doing Their Thing


Today, we walked over to the pier and there were these two pelicans sitting there.

They let us walk right up to them and sit down on a stoop next to them--maybe two feet away only,

It was nice just sitting with Rebecca and watching these birds: they were scratching, clucking, shivering, dancing, taking in their surroundings, and wandering away together.

Felt really at peace and happy by the water, doing something so simple and basic. 

In a way just wanted this time to last forever. ;-)
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Micromanaging Your Customers

Standing in line at the store the other day, I've got to to say that I sort of really resented this ridiculous check out line.

We are not in kindergarten and do not need little footsies and signs to tell us where to stand, how far apart, and who is up next in the line.

Actually, it's really not all that complicated--we can figure out to lineup in front of the counter and wait our turn civilly.

Micromanaging your customers (or for that matter your employees) is a pretty stupid idea.

Get your own house in order--and do a good job servicing the people that are paying you (or working to make you a success).

How about you take your little feet over behind the counter and get the line moving that much faster and stop making us wait so long to begin with to give you our business.

Happy Black Friday...loosen the reins a little won't you and you'll find a happier customer (and employee) base and make some more money in the process. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 27, 2014

THINK Different

Who ever sits in a beach chair with their back to the ocean for a photo?

Think Different!

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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Drones Neighbor Against Neighbor

Fascinating perspective in the New York Times today on the future diabolical use of drones.

Yes, drones can be used for defense, law enforcement, search and rescue, neighborhood watch, agriculture, and even Amazon or Pizza Hut deliveries. 

But what about the darker side of drones--used neighbor against neighbor, where anyone can buy a fairly sophisticated drone for merely hundreds of dollars and use it against others in the community.

- Want to use the (surveillance) camera to spy on your neighbor?

- Want to use its claws to pick up and steal something?

- Want to airlift and plant evidence or contraband and frame someone unjustly?

- Want to distract someone or cause an accident or fatality?

Ok, I am going a lot further than the NYT article...but really what prevents people from doing these things and more?

The article does mention new FAA policies "prohibiting drones from flying [over stadiums] near major sporting events."

But think about a drone in the hands of a terrorist with a dirty bomb or G-d forbid, even a WMD, and the drone swooping into a densely populated area like a stadium or even Times Square...what would prevent this--perhaps, nothing?

Think about it...this is about to become a lot more dangerous world because drones are not just for the good guys anymore, and the bad guys may not care about FAA regulations and penalties. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to outacontext)
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Turkey Head

The new insane fashion statement on Thanksgiving...wearing a turkey on your freakin' head.

This guy is at the beach and stopped for the photo--towel in hand, turkey on head.

But lest you think this is just for the beach crowd...

A obviously wealthy older couple are having their breakfast at no less than the Ritz Carlton.

And yes, they are sitting sipping their lattes and eating their danish WITH turkeys straddling their heads--both of them, facing off at each other!

What won't people do for some attention--to simply get others to look at them.

Perhaps to feel alive, relevant, or important in some way. 

Sure, there is fun in it too, but also some very mashugana stuff going on out there. 

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving from chilly, but sunny Fort Lauderdale. ;-)

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