February 16, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 7


Today, we went to the Kotel (Holy Western Wall) in Jerusalem. 

We went on a special tour of the Kotel Tunnels.

Got to see the foundation stones under the Temple Mount where legend has it that G-d created the world from and where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac.

This is also the place where the first and second Jewish temples stood.

We literally got to see so much of the ancient underground building stones, pillars, arches, bridges, waterways, and even learned how they think that these mega limestones (weighing over 520 metric tonnes) were moved into place so many thousands of years ago with pulleys, gears, and levers. 

It was a fascinating and fun tour. 

Thank you to my son-in-law and daughter for getting us tickets to this. 

Lovely time by all. ;-)

(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal, and sorry about turning it sideways once it gets to the underground waterway) 
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February 15, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 6

Did a nice beach walk from Tel Aviv to Jaffa. 

It was sunny and warm out. 

Lots of people exercising, running, and enjoying the outdoors. 

The blue Mediterranean Sea, the white sand, and breeze in the air was lovely. 

Even a funny statue of former Prime Minister Ben-Gurion doing a headstand as he used to do in his fitness routine. 

Shabbat is a good time to stop and take that much needed walk on the beach. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 14, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 5

Went to the Holon Design Museum (south of Tel Aviv) today. 

They had exhibit called States of Extreme.

I found some really cool exhibits and ideas there.

Sort of felt my mind being expanded by it, which is I suppose one of the purposes of going to this. 

Two of my favorite from today:

1) The chair with people legs and 

2) The Fanuc robotic arm feeding the baby in the crib.


Hope you enjoy these as much as I did. 

And Shabbat Shalom to everyone from the Holy Land!

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 13, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 4

Wow what an amazing day in Jerusalem!

We went to the Israel Museum (the best museum that I have ever been at), the Shrine of the Book with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the best part was a tour of the Israeli Knesset. 

One of the interesting facts that I learned was that the 120 seats in the Knesset is in the shape of the menorah, and I loved seeing Herzl's picture facing the speaker (front left).

Also, got to see the Israel Declaration of Independence with all the amazing signatories as well as the most beautiful Chagall paintings!

Inside the Knesset, all I could say to my wife is what a tremendous zechus (merit) it is to be able to be here today in this great hall where the modern laws of the State of Israel are made just as they were thousands of years ago by the Great Assembly of the Israelites.  

We are living in the most amazing of historical and religious times. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 12, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 3

Went to the Holy city of the Kabbalists today, Sefad.

Saw the beautiful 15th century Abuhav Synagogue, the Candle Factory, the artist colony, and the of course, the holy graves of the Tzadikim to pray.

It was a marvelously spiritually uplifting experience (as well as being up high in the mountains) and is an overall beautiful and unique city of ancient winding alleys and treasures at every turn. 

So grateful to have had this opportunity to visit there, thank you Hashem!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 11, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 2

So went to Nahariya today near the Labanon border.

Nice shopping strip and gorgeous beach. 

Had a nice cappuccino at Cofix.

Got a new modern Kiddish cup for Shabbat and a washing cup for Netilat Yadayim.

Enjoyed the train ride up and back on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea shore.

Had dinner at Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv and marvelled at all the shopping and crowds on a Tuesday.

Real contrast between more sleepy resort town, Nahariya and high-tech, bustling city Tel Aviv.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 10, 2020

Israel 2020: Day 1

So great today to be back in the Holy Land of Israel. 

Every time we come, we can literally see how the country has matured and built up even more since just the short time before. 

Of course, we arrived with a little jet lag but still managed to take a nice walk around the bustling streets of Tel Aviv. 

The restaurants, cafes, shops, theaters, and culture here is awesome. 

I guess the toughest thing is deciding what we want to do each day, but that is all part of the adventure. 

See you tomorrow! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 9, 2020

How Fish Come Up To Breathe

This was one of the most interesting facts that I learned recently.

Dolphins needs to come up to the surface to get air to breathe. 

But how do they do this when they sleep?

The answer is that only part of their brain sleeps at a time, so that they can continue to rise to the surface for air 24/7. 

Part of their brain sleeps while the other part stays awake. 

I think that this truly happens with people too. 

If you have ever been overtired, your brain still needs to sleep. 

At some point, you can literally feel part of your brain go to sleep even as the rest is awake to do what it needs to do (even at suboptimal functioning). 

This is beyond fascinating how G-d created us to adapt and survive. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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From Victims To Victors

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "From Victims To Victors."
The critical image of transformation of the Israelites going from the very depths of slavery to the lofty heights of redemption, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and going to the Promised Land is relived again in our very own times. This happened immediately after the Holocaust, when the Jews left the death camps of Europe (in fact, many coming by boat over the Mediterranean Sea instead of on foot over the Red Sea as in biblical times) to come to Israel. Here too, the Jews went on to fight as free men in the War of Independence for the founding of the State of Israel just like the Israelites fought the Amalekites in the desert and the Seven Nations to receive the Promised Land of Israel. Furthermore, just like we received the Torah after the redemption from Egypt, we are seeing an incredible resurgence of Torah learning in Israel today.

In both cases of redemption, we had to transform from being victims of slavery and persecution to instead taking the reins in our hands, and with Hashem's help, determining our own destiny and becoming the victors! Incredibly, just as the Israelites were redeemed by Hashem from Egypt and brought to conquer the Promised land 3300 years ago, so too were we, Jews, brought from the ashes of Auschwitz to the shores of the Israel to fight and become "a free nation in our Land, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem" (Hatikvah). And just like the redemption from Egypt resulted in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) to worship Hashem in the desert, so too will we soon relive the redemption in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, in the right time, we will need to have faith and courage to rebuild it with our very hands, and this will happen speedily and truly in our days. May Hashem let it be!


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 7, 2020

A Cool Shabbat Shalom!

A very cool Shabbat Shalom to you!

Congratulations on another week of hard work and accomplishment. 

Now it's time for a day of spirituality, mindfulness, thanksgiving, and much needed rest and relaxation. 

Heal and rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul.

A time for Hashem, self, family, and community. 

Shabbat is a true gift from G-d. ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 6, 2020

Build Others Up

I saw this in one of the student lounges at the local JCC.

It says:
"Don't Cut Down Others"

It's far better to build people up then to tear them down. 

Jut like with trees, it's better to plant a trillion trees than deforest the Amazon Rainforest. 

Trees are life and people are life. 

Be constructive and not destructive. 

Offer a nice word or compliment; provide an attentive and empathetic ear; give direction with some advice or guidance; lend a hand to someone in need; and in general, be a good influence. 

Unfortunately, too many people default to cutting down the old cherry tree! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2020

Scary Model of Cancer

Saw this at a doctors office in one of the patient rooms. 

At first I wasn't even sure what it was. 

Looks like a stomach.

What are those globs?

Oy, they represent malignant tumors (from what I understood reading the fine print). 

Really makes it hit home when you see it in front of you on display like that. 

So much suffering from illnesses like cancer.

G-d should have mercy. 

We really need to find "the cure!"  

Imagine what a day that will be.  ;-)
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February 4, 2020

Pay Attention To Space Force

We're not paying close enough attention to the new U.S. Space Force.

It was signed into law by President Trump on December 20.

Space Force is the U.S. military's 6th service branch (separate from the Air Force).

While it is currently the smallest branch with 16,000 personnel and just a $40 million budget, I would look to this branch to move over time to one of the largest (if not the largest) branch of the military.

Let's face it, Earth is small potatoes in the realm of the Universe.

We will be expanding into outer space and colonizing it--we have to!

In addition, the weapons in space will be high-tech and costly relative to their earthly counterparts, and  our dominance in space will not come cheap either in terms of aerospace and engineering talent or in terms of the systems and weapons that will assure our superiority.

In January, the new Star Trek aired on CBS, and as is long said on that preminiscent science fiction show, "Space is the final frontier" and the U.S. Space Force will become front and center in our defense.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 3, 2020

Shave And A Haircut

I remember as a kid people would sing a jingle:
Shave and a haircut, dum dum.


This statue of the guy in the chair getting the shave and haircut is sort of nostalgic to me. 

Always sort of relaxing to sit back and get cleaned up!

Especially the hot lather on your face in that reclining position. 

Then of course, all is well until the gunslinger barges in and ruins everything. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 2, 2020

The Real Threat Is Surprise Attacks

Please see my new article in Israel Defense called, "The Real Threat is Surprise Attacks."
The element of surprise can overcome most defenses. This can happen whether through an insider threat or through new and stealthy technologies. Already in August 2018, two explosive-laden drones were used to attack the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. Similarly, last year, in the movie, Angel Has Fallen, we saw the president of the United States attacked by a swarm of drones. While this is a great threat in and of itself, I believe that the greater threat lies in the miniaturization of the drones, in some cases, drones with the size, shape, and function of insects.

Unfortunately, Yigal Amir used the element of surprise to assassinate the prime minister of Israel. Now there are other high-tech threats like miniaturized, weaponized drones. There is no excuse for us not to be on the lookout for and to be prepared to defend against these, so that our leadership and our democracies are duly protected. Surprise is a big advantage in warfare, but we must be one step ahead, so that we are prepared to defend against these as well as to turn the tables and effectively employ the continued element of surprise against our relentless adversaries.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Business Case Scoring - Template

Just wanted to share this quick business case scoring template. 

In evaluating various business cases, individuals can score each based on the following:

- Business Justification
- Analysis of Alternatives
- Technical Alignment
- Feasibility of Implementation Strategy
- Funding/Resource Availability

The ratings are done with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. 

The scoring sheet calculate average, and identifies highest and lowest scores.

Then the individual scores can be summarized and used to rank the projects in your portfolio. 

Based on overall funding, you can determine how many of the top-ranked projects are doable in the year, and then roll over the others for reevaluation along with new business cases next go around. 

Capisce? ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 1, 2020

Jew-Hate Shouted Aloud

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "Jew-Hate Shouted Aloud."
We were walking to synagogue today for Shabbat services, and were taken aback when out of the window of a speeding car someone yelled, “Heil Hitler!”...While I value all the freedoms we have in this country, including the freedom of speech (especially as I am a writer), I am concerned that if the anti-Semitism can’t be addressed through law enforcement action when it’s at the verbal stage of offense then what does that leave—it has to escalate to violence for the police to be able to take action against the haters and perpetrators?

Just as it is illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre and cause danger to the public, I believe that shouting vile hatred and incitement should be illegal for the same reasons. We don’t need to be able to punish people for thought crimes, but we do need to be able to protect people from hate-mongers who are openly leading up to violent expressions of their deep-seated Jew hatred, by identifying hate speech as a bona fide illegal and punishable crime.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 31, 2020

Hope You Had A Good "Veek"

So I was asked do you spell week with a "W" or a "V."

I guess sometimes it does sound like we say veek.

Someone else told me that they are divorced and that person is still a "dark force" in their life.

They said they have to pay child support but can't afford it. 
It's not like I still earn $55,000 like I used to.

But if they don't pay...
Well my ex will just refuse to let me see my son!

People have tough lives. 

So when you think about your week, hopefully in context, you can resolutely say that you had a good veek. 

Shabbat Shalom! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 30, 2020

Your Expiration Date

So I was talking to someone about their challenges in life.

And they said something that really hit a chord:
You never know what your expiration date is!

What an interesting way to say you never know when your time is up.

They used the phrase "expiration date" like we so commonly see on food and medicine products. 

You know when you read the label and it tells you to discard after a certain date. 

So people are like all these other goods that have a date stamped on them.

We have a date stamped on us (maybe it's on our forehead or some other less conspicuous place), and we just can't see it. 

Yet, we need to live every day as if that expiration date is coming due. 

Because like that stale food in your fridge or the old medicine in your cabinets, everything and everybody has a shelf life.

So you better live every day good and meaningfully before your expiration date comes due. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 29, 2020

Street Art Wow

Some street art just makes you stop and say wow!

This mural on the side of a building in Philadelphia is just amazing. 

It takes a regular street (even next to an abandoned lot) and makes it eye-popping. 

Some people seem to walk by and not even notice. 

I'm not sure how. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 28, 2020

Hand Pointer

That's a cool way to point something out. 

Sort of unexpected sticking out of the wall like that. 

But effective use of visualization. 

The floating hand. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 27, 2020

Life Equated With Hate

Does anyone get this sign from the Pro-Life rally last week?
Pro-Life is Pro-Hate

But equating Pro-Life with hate doesn't add up.

It actually seems the opposite that if you want to sanctify and protect life that you are loving people, not hating. 

Sometimes to make a point, people will just say anything. 

It's related to "gaslighting" where they want to manipulate you into questioning your own beliefs, values, and sanity.

Perhaps, throwing around terms like hate just dilutes the real meaning of it similar to making other false accusations against people. 

We need to argue the issues, and not attack each other. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 26, 2020

Cannibals Love To Have You For Dinner

I love this saying from one of my colleagues in the National Security field about the Middle East:
If you aren't invited for dinner, you're likely on the menu!

Oh how true it is. 

It reminds me of a mother-in-law joke my father used to tell about this guy telling his friend:
Yeah, we had my mother-in-law for dinner. And boy was she good!

Anyway, no one can tell a joke like he did. 

Last thing you want to be is on the menu. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 24, 2020

NJ Pollution--How Do You Ignore It?

This is the view along the New Jersey Turnpike. 

The pollution and stink coming out of these smokestacks running up and down the Turnpike is enough to make anyone sick. 

Personally, I had to cover my nose and mouth with my shirt just to try and filter this crap out. 

What do people tell themselves that live near these?
Oh, it's okay because the government regulators wouldn't let them be here otherwise!

For real???

If you can see it's nasty, and you can smell that it's nasty, and there is a lot of it, then you better wake up as to what you are breathing, drinking, and eating. 

How about these polluters put a cork in it once and for all! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 23, 2020

Help Victims Of Terror (Warning Graphic Content: Not For Children)

I don't usually do this, but I felt this situation truly merits your compassion and charitable giving. 

Niv Nehemia was the victim of terror in 2017 in this Israeli grocery.  He suffered "14 stab wounds to the head, chest, hands, and necks, including a cut in his esophagus."

The article appealing for help to cover his mounting medical costs appeared in the Jerusalem Post last week: Don't leave a hero behind.

I still remember this video from when it happened two years ago. Niv is truly a hero in fighting off his brutal attacker and in saving other store employees and shoppers!

Further, Niv and his wife, Sigal, have 5 beautiful children aged 18 to 4 1/2

If you can kindly open your heart to these victims of terror, here is the link for your donation as listed in the Jerusalem Post:
https://www.jgive.com/new/en/ils/donation-targets/24591.

May Hashem give a full and speedy healing to Niv and may He bless this family and all of us with peace!  ;-)
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January 22, 2020

How Are These Unlivable "Living Conditions" Allowed To Persist?

Continued to be appalled at the unlivable "living conditions" of the homeless in the Capital. 

Makeshift tents line up and down under the train tracks to Union Station. 

Spikes overhead make this an extra frightening looking arrangement. 

People walking by and to/from work--after a while, is there a mixture of acceptance and indifference?

It's freezing outside and this is NO WAY for any human being to have to live. 

Can we put partisan politics aside for any period of time to deal with the very harsh problems facing real people?  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 21, 2020

Dunkin' Mugs

I love my new Dunkin' Coffee Mugs.

Got one in each color: blue and orange. 

Inside the mugs, there is a finger sign "V" (for victory) and it says "Be Awesome".

These oversized mugs are so happy and I can't wait to fill 'em up.

And they really do make me ready to "Wake Up" for a brand new day. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Visit Back Home


On the way to a family wedding in Monsey.

We stopped back home in Riverdale, NY after 20 years.

Wow, old building still here. 

And the KeyFood supermarket too. 

Had a nice lunch at Kai Fan kosher Chinese food (the Sesame Chicken was great!). 

Went up to my parents old apartment and saw the outlines of where the mezuzah had once stood. 

I wanted to hear their voices through the door and go in to see them again.

It was very emotional, but I felt like their presence was there with us. 

Enjoyed seeing how some (very few) things have changed and all that has otherwise stayed the same 

With seeing my wife's family, some after many years, it was like I had never not seen them. 

I imagined that this is what dying must be like when you go to the afterlife and there is no time and you see everybody and it's just like they have always been there. 

That was an amazing realization and feeling for me. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

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January 19, 2020

@Eastern State Penitentiary















Photos are from my tour of Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. 

The prison cells were in these tomb thick concrete structures, freezing cold, and completely claustrophobic!

You have to stoop through a tiny doorway to get in and out. 

The cell with the car in it shows how small these prison cells were.  

There is a photo of a cell with a stinking toilet and also the one with a barbers chair. 

Then there is the picture of the fancy cell which is that of Al Capone's (right after the regular disgusting cell). Pretty sure Capone had some real pull with the warden and guards, and I'm sure they were afraid to cross him.

There was even a synagogue in this frightful gothic-style prison with a light that says Shalom (peace).

One cell had art painted on the walls and had many of these dreamy-looking women in Island type spots so far away from the reality of these horrible prison conditions. 

It was also interesting the the prisoners inside these walls were I'm sure dying to get out, and yet the visitors to the prison were lined up at the ticket booth to get a glimpse inside. 

The whole experience was so full of juxtaposing contrasts. 

I feel like I learned a lot. Overall, a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here! ;-)

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 18, 2020

Project Governance and Gate Reviews

Thought this may be helpful for those looking at a Governance Process and Gate Reviews for project management. 

This aligns the Capital Planning and Investment Controls (CPIC) process of select, control, and evaluate phases with the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). 

There are 5 notional gate reviews with associated documentation for project conception, initiation, planning, execution, and launch.

Of course, this can be modified as needed based on the project threshold and governance stringency required and seeks to create strategic alignment with the goals of the organization. 

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can't Be Blind

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Anti-Semitism: Preparedness Can't Be Blind."
As I'm standing there, I feel someone coming up behind me and then running into me. Of course, with anti-Semitic attacks prominent and growing, I may have been at a slightly higher state of alert, and I turn around ready for whatever or to give someone a few choice words...And then I see the cane from a blind person.

So even in these times, when there are gangs, drugs, violence, and anti-Semitism, and "we can't be careful enough" (especially given our long, deep history of religious persecution), at the same time, we need to judge our fellow man favorably first and foremost, and still we must be prepared for, G-d forbid, the worst at any time.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 17, 2020

Airplane Art

Why aren't airplanes really decorated like this?

It would be so much more fun to get on a plane that displayed some pizzaz!

All we hear about are plane delays, cancelled flights, mishandled baggage, and involuntary bumping.

Oh, and don't forget the ever more cramped seating and the entertainment system that is habitually broken.

How does this industry get away with all this crap? ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 16, 2020

Sucking It Up

Here we are sucking up leaves in January. 

It almost looks like we're sucking up the whole ground with it!

After the warmest decade on record, we seem to be having the warmest year on record. 

It's 52 degrees out, and we've been reaching up into the high 60's so far this month.

Global warming or the big fires in Australia or action with Iran are heating things up here in Washington, D.C. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 15, 2020

G-d Hears Your Prayers

My son-in-law reminded me of a beautiful Jewish saying about prayer:
Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person's neck, he should not refrain from praying for mercy. 

One can still hope for mercy from the Almighty even at death's door. 

This is truly beautiful and uplifting--we can approach G-d anytime, and as long as we are alive, there is always hope.

The saving from G-d is like "the blink of an eye." ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 14, 2020

I Say Upside Down You Turn Me

I liked this advertisement for WOOW eyewear. 

Like the faces, the colors, the upside down and right-side up orientations. 

Seems cool, hip, with it. 

Happy hippie times. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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