April 24, 2018

Ramath Orah Synagogue



So the other day, I received this wonderful email from someone working on the 75th anniversary of Ramath Orah Synagogue on the Upper West Side in Manhattan where I grew up. 

My grandfather (Opa), Simon Blumenthal, had served as the President of that synagogue for many wonderful years.

I remember always being so proud of him for his dedication and hard work for the community. 

I look up to him when he got up to give the announcements at the pulpit. 

And he built the beautiful center bimah, the special succah downstair with the roof that opened up to the sky at holiday time, and made many other truly impressive improvements to the synagogue. 

He and his wife, my grandmother (Oma), Hilda Blumenthal were an absolutely beautiful couple and the finest of people. 

My parents, Fred and Gerda Blumenthal, continued in their footsteps and to be members at Ramath Orah long after we had moved away to Riverdale, and they were contributors to the shul and attended the annual synagogue dinners for many years. 

Even though the synagogue was mainly filled with elderly people at the time, we always knew and prayed that it would become revitalized again, which it did and is now. 

Pictured at the bottom is me as a kid sitting with a talit over my shoulder and in my grandfathers (the President's chair) in the front of the synagogue.

Aside from leading and singing the regular Yigdal and Adom Olam prayers, I loved to sit with my father and grandfather in synagogue.

We prayed together, and we stayed together as a family and community. 

I miss them all so much, but am sure they are up in Heaven together sitting in the Big Synagogue in the sky basking in the light of Hashem and watching over me and my family today!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 23, 2018

Jailbird Freedom

So I'm doing laps in the indoor pool.

And out of the corner of my eye, I see this bird swoop in overhead.

But it's not outside, it's inside the building enclosure. 

The bird dived in through an open door.

Now it was stuck inside. 

It perched itself on a shelf overlooking the outdoors.

But it was stuck behind the glass walls.

The lifeguard tried to swoop it out with the sticks, brushes, and nets for cleaning the pool.

But this bird wasn't going anywhere. 

I asked if it was injured or sick.

He said that the bird was scared, which made sense. 

Over and over again, the lifeguard tried to coax the bird out.

Finally, it took flight and headed straight into another glass pane--BONG--and fell down--SPLAT--onto another ledge. 

The lifeguard and I looked at each other -- asking whether the bird was still alive or not.

I suggested he call for help, and the advice he was given was just to leave it alone and that eventually, it would find its way out. 

It was time for me to go, but I am still thinking about that trapped bird.

If you love something, you have to let it free.

Everyone and everything should be free (unless they've abused that freedom).

Free to come and go, free to express themselves, free to choose, free to act.

Sometimes when you're free, you run into trouble or into a glass pane.

You need to find your way out and home again to freedom. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2018

Sugarloaf Crafts Festival


I love this time of year when the weather gets nice and we can do more outdoor activities. 

Today, we took the opportunity to go to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. 

There were so many vendors with artistic works in metal, glass, art, jewelry, leather, photography, pottery, and more. 

Everyone seemed to be looking for those one-of-a-kind special pieces.

I did manage to find a very special colorful menorah, which I had my eye on since last year, and which I was glad that I waited for because the artisan made it even better and more beautiful than before. 

Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most things were an easy pass on, but some things definitely caught my eye and attention. 

The photo here was one of them where the artist was selling pots, and he set up this plastic chicken--as if the chicken was set and ready to go into the oven. 

Creativity can definitely get weird, but everyone likes a standout. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)
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April 21, 2018

Happy 70th Birthday to Israel

What a beautiful Shabbat today at Magen David Synagogue celebrating the 70th Birthday of the State of Israel. 

Prayers, blessings, song, waving flags, and a lovely Kiddish feast following services. 

Immediately after the genocidal Holocaust that exterminated six million Jews - 1 out of every 3 in the entire world - the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948. 

With thriving cities, arts and culture, flourishing farming, science and innovation, Holy religious sites, a rich history everywhere, and a formidable military. 

There is so much to be proud of and to thank G-d for.

Oh G-d, we praise you in that you have returned your children to Zion as you promised from Biblical times and breathed fresh life into their dry bones. 

Only you can revive an entire people and a land.

Only you can create a blooming Garden of Eden from barren desert. 

Only you can make a strong and just a nation from one that once was carted away of crowded train cars to the death camps and crematoria 

Throughout 2,000 years of exile, we remembered your promise and we prayed for redemption, and you showered your gracious mercy on us and brought us back on wings of eagles. 

For 70 years now, nations have risen up against Israel to try to destroy it, but only you have saved it through the brave arms of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). 

Praise to G-d Almighty.  Praise be to G-d in Heaven and on Earth. Praise be the creator and sustainer.  

We honor you through keeping your Holy Torah commandments and remembering that you Hashem, are our G-d and you are One. 

It is our job to live a life of integrity, to do good whatever we do and wherever we go, as your children and as a light along with America unto the other nations. 

As we sang in the Holocaust, "I believe with a full faith in the coming of the Messiah, and thou he tarries, I will never-the-less wait."

The waiting was over 70-years ago, and we are living in the age of redemption. 

Miracles abound and the world progresses scientifically and technologically and with a spirit of doing good and justice. 

The nation of Israel lives!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 20, 2018

Understanding Genius

So working in a place with scientific geniuses and even a history of Nobel Prize winners is serious business. 

I see things that I don't know what they are. 

I meet people that I don't understand what they do. 

But in all cases, I am in awe of the smart and good people and the work they are doing to advance us. 

Here was an example this week in randomly meeting someone and starting up a conversation:
Andy:  Hi. I'm Andy.  What do you do here?
Him:  I'm [so and so].  I do neutron scattering.
Andy: [Gulp followed by big smile] I know absolutely nothing about that.
Him:  Well, what do you do?
Andy:  I'm doing process engineering and enterprise service management.
Him: [Smile] I know absolutely nothing about that. 
Get the picture.

One for the books right.

In another instance, when asked what their group does, someone leans into me and goes:

"We fix sh*t."

I could tell he meant it. 

And you know what--I absolutely believed him.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 19, 2018

Net-Zero Energy House

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to explore the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Net-Zero Energy House.

As its name implies the residential home makes as much energy as it uses. 

It is run by one of NIST's 7 laboratories, the Engineering Lab's Energy and Environment Division.

The 2,700 square foot home is super-insulated and hyper-energy efficient.

It runs on only 12,000-13,000 Kilowatt per year compared to a typical home that guzzles 40,000 KW. 

You can see the array of solar panels on the roof and there is a two-way exchange of energy to/from the grid as available/needed. 

There is also solar thermal water heater. 


The home simulates a family of 4 living there cooking, bathing, watching TV, etc. 

There are 600 sensors inside the house that monitor everything. 

The garage maintains the computers and controls for the research. 

Overall, I was very proud to see the wonderful scientific research being done here. 

It was truly impressive and good for the nation and the planet.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled

Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider "the fundamentals".

But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 

Test scores have not been improving--that's not the student's fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as "old school" and out of touch.

Not only don't we fish for them, but we don't even teach them to fish. 

We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 

Wash, rinse, repeat. 

We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 

Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 

It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 

This is where agile education comes into aspect. 

Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 

We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 

No more years of development and voila here's something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, "What the F*** is that!"

So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 

Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 

Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.

We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn't survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  

Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 

Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 

Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 

Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 

The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 

Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.

We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 17, 2018

Rocky Says

A quote from my role model Rocky: 
It's not about how hard you hit.
It's about how hard you get hit.
And keep moving on.
That's how winning is done.
Go Rocky!

And by the way, you should hit pretty hard also. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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April 16, 2018

Me Myself and I

I thought this was really fascinating about how we interact with others.

It's a theory by Martin Buber called the I-Thou relationship.

In every relationship, there are really 6 people in the room:

- Who I am.

- Who I want to be.

- Who I am perceived as.

-----------

- Who they are.

- Who they want to be.

- Who they are perceived as. 

----------

Taking about a break between reality, fantasy, and perception. 

Is it any wonder that there are so many communication breakdowns and relationship disappointments. 

We need to coalesce around a unified persona of I and thou--and if we don't know, perhaps we need to ask for clarification.

We don't want to talk past each other. 

We want to talk to and work with each other. 

I am me and you are you. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 15, 2018

Purpose Is To Help People

I don't get impressed by others easily. 

But one thing that does immediately get my respect and admiration are people who sincerely believe in and are there to help others. 

Of course, there are some professions like soldiers and first responders who put their lives on the line to safeguard others that come to mind. 

But then there are the people we sometimes meet in everyday real life--people that live for doing good for others. 

Yes, not many people are so unselfish and giving, and that is why it is an incredible person who lives this. 

One person that I have had the honor to meet recently is such a person. 

Months ago, in a stressful situation, I watched them get up and get someone a bottle of water who was choked up and just needed a sip of relief. 

Then again, I saw that whenever they were asked a question or for some assistance, they almost immediately dropped whatever they were doing--and without any resentment--to do whatever they can to help, anytime, anyplace. 

When I heard them talk recently about their philosophy on what life is all about--they confirmed exactly as I had been seeing, they said:

"I want to help people!"

And they went on to explain how that is the greatest job we can do--whatever our role is--simply, to help others.

Someone doesn't have to be wounded or dying on the battlefield or in urban warfare to merit that help. 

Just being another human being with a heart and soul--that itself is enough to jump to their aid and help, help, help. 

To me, this person really encapsulates the essence of what life is all about. 

It's not I, I, I.

It's about what I can do for others.

We were created by the Almighty to learn to live beyond our meager selves and serve the greater good, our Creator and his children.

All I can say is that these people who live and breath this loving, caring, and giving lifestyle are totally awesome to me and my personal role model and heroes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 14, 2018

Who You Calling Ugly Baby?

So in multiple organizations, I have heard systems referred to as ugly babies!

Whether or not it's true, it certainly doesn't make the IT folks that develop, run, and support that system feel very good. 

Are some of these (legacy) systems ugly?

Well, of course, they are. 

Many of them work despite themselves. 

What I mean by that is they are awkward to navigate and use. 

The functionality is flawed or outdated.

The workflows are unnecessarily complex.

The user interface is inconsistent and sloppy. 

The user experience is punishing. 

I told someone recently in using a particular system that was so convoluted:
"Is this system what they give to prisoners and make them use over and over again to punish them for hideous violent crimes?"

Seriously, that's how it felt, even as I knew it was still lightyears ahead of what a paper process still used in other organizations looks like.

Generally better than the waterfall methodology for the systems development life cycle, I understand that one dilemma with agile development is that requirements can be spotty from sprint to sprint and instead of doing the hard work and thinking it out upfront, users are made to expect a nearly endless series of enhancements and tinkering, which isn't practical functionally or financially either.

Even an ugly baby is still ours, and we love it and nurture it, and even help it change for the better--that's part of our responsibility. 

Whether we parented a real baby or an IT system, we have pride of ownership and a sense of accountability to the person, system, and future. 

My father always taught me never to throw out dirty water until you have clean water. 

Similarly, we shouldn't throw out the (ugly) baby with the bathwater. 

We need to work together--technologists and system users--to make truly functional systems and a user experience more like gaming where the players are so happy, attached (and even addicted) to it that they sometimes don't even get up to eat or go to the bathroom. 

We should love what we have and use, and we should, therefore, work hard to make these things great.

And an ugly baby can be made gorgeous again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 13, 2018

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:
Worrying is suffering twice!

I thought this was pretty smart. 

With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 

So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.

Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 

But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can't control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 

Do I worry?

Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 

Worry is suffering for sure. 

However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2018

Leave The Bad Bosses Behind

So an executive colleague reminded me of something about bad bosses:
People don't leave jobs, they leave [bad] bosses.
It's very interesting and so often true. 

Of course, people leave for all sorts of reasons, but one of the most important aspects of job satisfaction for employees is their boss!

When you have a good boss--someone with integrity, good communications, trustworthy, fair, and who empowers, develops, and supports you then that goes a very long way towards positive employee engagement and retention. 

However, when the boss is a bad apple and usually everyone knows it, then there is often a mass exit out the organizational door. 

Occasionally, the organizational culture is bad too, and that attracts those bad bosses, promotes their bad behavior, and keeps their bad butts in the corner office seats--this situation is even worse because bad culture and people are mutually reinforcing. 

For the good people out there, leave the bad bosses behind and never look back. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2018

Teambuilding S-Cubed

Awesome day today with my team at work. 

We had a half-day team building. 

Started off with a Play-Doh exercise where we had to answer things like what we'd like to accomplish as a team in the new year. 

This was my representation with a S-cubed for the new program implementing process improvements and enterprise service management using:

- Strategy

- Structure

- (Customer) Service

We followed up with a great team luncheon and then a game of Monster Mini Golf.

We broke into two teams and one team came in "first place" and the other team were the "winners."

I suppose whenever we genuinely come together as a team to appreciate each other and work collaboratively as a unified whole--greater than the sum of our parts--then we truly all come out as first place winners! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 10, 2018

On Time Is Late

Smart saying I heard today on time management:
Early is on time.
On time is late.
Late is unacceptable.
Having grown up in a very precise environment,  I can certainly appreciate this. 

Seriously, from a Yekke (Jewish German background), we were taught to be 15 to 30 minutes early--i.e. on time--for everything. 

I remember starting to get "little" reminders to get ready and get out the door well in advance and numerous times before the clock struck. 

Fashionably late or any other type is not in the vocabulary and frankly is a complete f*ckin insult. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 9, 2018

An Introverted Extrovert

I thought this was an interesting phrase someone used the other day to describe their personality.

They called themselves an "Introverted Extrovert."

I asked what they meant, and they explained as follows:

"I'm Introverted until I get to know someone then I am extroverted with them."

This actually made a lot of sense to me.

We may be reticent at the beginning when meeting new people, but once we feel comfortable with others and start to trust them, then we naturally open up to them.

The truth is most people aren't extroverted (social) or introverted (shy). 

Instead, people are on a continuum, which is generally a bell-shaped curve.  

In other words, most people are somewhere in the middle---either introverted extroverts or extroverted introverts. 

Well, what's an extroverted introvert?

It's someone who tends to be more comfortable and trusting and social with people, but they also need time alone to recharge, and perhaps they even get shy sometimes. 

Most people don't exist on the extremes--that's why they are called extremes!

So don't be so quick to judge yourself as an introspective introvert or an outgoing extrovert or anything else for that matter. 

We are "this" AND "that"--sometimes maybe a little more this or that, but that's all part of us and it's okay to be us! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 8, 2018

Haleli @Mimouna with Magen David Synagogue



Praise be our G-d, the Master of the Universe.

May he bless us with an abundance of good for the New Year after the Passover commemoration of our exodus from slavery to His redemption and the Holy Land of Israel.

Blessings, Peace, Health, Prosperity, and Joy!

What a lovely event with the community of Magen David Synagogue in Maryland.

My heart is uplifted by the song, dance, friendship, and faith in the Almighty. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2018

It Rises To The Top

So one of my friends who is dealing with some bad people in his work told me about his situation using a very interesting descriptive phrase:
"Cream may float to the top, but other things float too!"

Ah yes, in many cases the best ("the cream") climbs/rises to the top of the corporate ladder and extraordinary people are recognized with positions of leadership and influence to progress things. 

But in other cases, some really bad people (i.e. the sh*t) floats to the top based on lies and baloney promises and payback, malevolent power grabs, undermining of the competition, cronyism, or plain old corruption in the leadership suite. 

Yes, both the cream and the crap float to the top.

It is important to recognize who is who, and what is what. 

Not everyone who occupies the corner office belongs there. 

In some cases, they should never even be allowed in the building. 

In the end, you gotta believe that the stars shine, and the sh*t stinks and that's how you know who is at the top when. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 6, 2018

Jack Of All Trades

I saw this quote hanging on the wall. 

It's by science fiction writer, Robert Anson Heinlein.
"A human being should be able to:
  • Change a diaper
  • Plan an invasion
  • Butcher a hog
  • Conn [control] a ship
  • Design a building
  • Write a sonnet
  • Balance account
  • Build a wall
  • Set a bone
  • Comfort the dying
  • Take orders
  • Give orders
  • Cooperate
  • Act alone
  • Solve equations
  • Analyze a new problem
  • Pitch manure
  • Program a computer
  • Cook a tasty meal
  • Fight efficiently
  • Die Gallantly
Specialization is for insects."

It's sort of fascinating all the things that are expected of people to be able to do. 

And this is a short list--I'm sure you can think of many, many more things that people have to be able to do to survive, to live, to thrive. 

What complex and magnificent creations of G-d we are! 

Not only in terms of our physiology, but also in terms of our cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual capacities and desires. 

We are flesh and blood, but with a breath of life from the living G-d, and we are capable and can do so much. 

At the same time, we are imperfect, limited, fallible, and mortal. 

- Jack of all trades, and master of none. 

Expect the best, but plan for plenty of mistakes and disasters along the way. 

Live well, and return to the creator a better person. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 5, 2018

Ergonomics Ah!

So today I went for an ergonomic training and assessment. 

Never did this before. 

It was pretty awesome. 

The person had 4 degrees in ergonomics and really seemed to know what they were talking about. 

They got me set up in a special ergonomic chair with a footrest, bio-design mouse, and task lighting.

I tell you that I never sat so straight, perfectly contoured, and completely comfortable. 

They almost had to pry my butt out of that chair after I test drove it for over an hour in training. 

OMG, there is a difference. 

Don't need carpal tunnel.

Don't need sciatica. 

Don't need neck, shoulder, and back pain. 

I even learned that the standing desks can be BAD for you--they put undue stress on your musculature and may actually result in a notable DECREASE in concentration and productivity. 

Anyway, from the stupid chairs that I've seen most people have--and the lousy posture they sit with--I'd recommend seeing the ergonomist. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 4, 2018

Anus Protectus

So I learned this new phrase today:
"Anus Protectus"

It's what it sounds like.

It when you communicate (or do) something in order to "cover your a*s."

Sometimes we communicate as an FYI.

Other times as a FYSA.

And then there is the CYA. 

All of these are what we call "Purposeful communications."

The only real difference is their purposes. 

When you open your mouth or your email make sure you know your:

- Why (intent)
- Who (audience)
- How (persuasion techniques)

These are the secret sauce of good communication. 

More blogs to come on this important topic. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2018

The Heart and Soul Of The Matter

So I had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman who works in a menial job for minimum wage for most of his life. 

But this person was shinning and smiling ear-to-ear. 

What happened, he got offered a job to work in a lovely school as their cook. 

He's been doing this as a special treat for the students once a year, and they decided to bring him on to do this full time. 

He pulled out his phone and proudly showed me a picture of himself in the classroom surrounded by all the children.  He was in an orange sweater and stood out in the middle of all of them and with a smile that lit up the entire room. 

He told me how the children thought of him as a celebrity chef and the teacher even organized autographs by him for the children.

His whole life, he questioned his worth, and now he felt recognized, appreciated, and loved. 

I told him that I thought he was indeed quite a special person. 

He said to me, you may have a talent or be special, but you have to recognize it--and he repeated aloud again at least three times emphasizing more and more on RECOGNIZE it. 

Surely, after so many years, only now was he being recognized and more so, recognizing it himself. 

Apparently, someone who worked in the school was also a renown food critic, and she had nothing but praises to sing of him. 

Talking with him, I felt my eyes being opened. 

Everyone can do good with their lives and have worth. 

We have to recognize it in ourselves. 

We need to just be given an opportunity to show it and share it. 

It doesn't matter what you are or earn.

It matters where your heart is.

For many, they earn gazillions, but their heart is a heart of stone. 

For others, they may earn minimum wage, but their heart is a heart of gold. 

It's not the money, it's not the power, it's not the prestige...it's the heart and soul of the matter. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2018

Worst Passover Cake Ever

So this has got to be the worst Passover cake ever. 

It's definitely not kosher for Pesach. 

Not only is it made from chametz, but it's shaped like a chazer (i.e. pig) too.

This thing would be conceptually treyf even on the best of non-Passover days. 

Does it have lard too? 

I don't know for sure, but would it really be a pig cake if it didn't!

This lousy cake doesn't even have an ounce of chocolate in it--have you ever heard of a genuine dessert that tastes like the calorie count it adds up to be without chocolate? 

I've heard of the callous calling people a pig for eating too much cake and being fat, but making the oink oink face directly on the cake itself--and on Passover--is not only insulting, but at $28.95, it's overpriced too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 31, 2018

Iran Had Better Look To The Haggadah

On Passover, we recite the Haggadah to remember how G-d redeemed us from being slaves in Egypt. 

At the Seder, many also recite the Hatikvah--the Israeli National Anthem--to remember that our suffering and redemption didn't end almost 3,500 years ago in the Exodus from Egypt, but has continued to this very day post Holocaust with the establishment of the modern-day State of Israel. 

One thing that I will tell you is that if Slavery in Egypt and all the anti-Semitism, Inquisitions, Pogroms, Expulsions, and the Holocaust taught us anything is that:

- One, our faith in G-d Almighty and his love and promised redemption for us will never cease, and 

- Two, that we will never, ever, go like sheep to the slaughter again.

Already in 1981 and 2007, with the help of Hashem, Israel rid the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons of destruction from the hands of tyrannical Middle Eastern dictatorships in both Iraq and Syria. 

And I would venture to say that neither of these enemies were as completely hateful, ruthless, and vowed to Israel's destruction as Iran is today. 

In the Haggadah we recall the eternal fight of good over evil:
"For not only one enemy has tried to destroy us, but in every generation, nations have tried to destroy us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, always saves us from their hands."

As sure as we celebrate Passover today, I am confident that G-d will once again make a tremendous miracle and save us from the hands of the maniacal mullahs in Iran who pose an existential threat to the Israelites today. 

Israel's Operation Babylon and Operation Orchard in Iraq and Syria were successful actions in and of themselves, but they were also practice runs for what is yet to come to the spinning centrifuges in Axis of Evil, Iran. 

G-d's promise to Abraham to bless the Israelites and give them the Holy Land--whether by the ten plagues in Egypt or the Allied victory over Adolf Hitler--redemption will soon be coming again delivered compliments of the heroic Israeli Defense Forces.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 30, 2018

NATO Is Asleep At The Wheel

So this is the dumbest military strategy I have ever heard. 

NATO is planning a "rapid deployment force" of at least 30,000 troops, 30 naval ships, and 360 planes to fight off a Russian invasion.

Sounds good?

The only problem is that this rapid reaction is planned to occur "within 30 days" of being put on an alert. 

Gee, a lot can happen in 30 days. 

It took only a little over two weeks for Russia to invade and annex Crimea in 2014 in a blitzkrieg that completely took the West by surprise. 

NATO continues to be shockingly unprepared for a Russian land grab.

Further, the 4,600 troops stationed on "forward deployment" and the 5,000 additional "spearhead force" to come to their aid "within 10 days" is again completely inadequate and ridiculous. 

Israel won the 1967 War in just 6 days against invading armies from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and Israel again halted the advancing Egyptian army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War in just 3 days. 

With modern weaponry, Wars are fought and won in days--not months and years anymore. 

The long deployments we've had in Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars, but wars of attrition again terrorism and dictatorships. 

If and when there is a war with the "Great Bear," it will be fought and won--OR lost in days--as well. Russia will act with stealth and speed and a ferocity that we remain blind to. 

And I fear that when we are ready to fight back, it will be way too little too late--like in Crimea--and all that will be left--after the European lands are gone--is more meaningless sanctions that Russia will retaliate against, tit-for-tat, anyway. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2018

Light Drives Out Darkness

In the words of the great Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"Darkness can't drive out darkness.
Only Light can do that."
There is so much darkness in certain people. 

So full of hate, violence, and corruption. 

They use and abuse others for their selfish aims. 

Only faith and giving can drive out selfishness!

The other day at work, I briefly stopped over to help a colleague with something (I thought it was pretty minor, honestly). 

The next thing I know, another colleague who observed me, leaves--literally--a gold star on my desk. 

I had to laugh to myself--isn't this what we do with kids. 

And then I thought to myself--Wow! People at any age can be recognized for just being decent human beings with one another.

Rather than just recognize the latest work accomplishments, isn't it truly something to recognize helping others. 

Being good people is the essence of what life is all about. 

I'm glad that there are still people in the world that know this. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 28, 2018

Technology and Human Capital--They Go Hand-In-Hand

So there are some mighty impressive places to work that really shine in terms of the technology they use and the constant desire to upgrade and improve their capabilities. 

Usually, these are also the places that value and respect their human capital because they view them as not just human pawns, but rather as strategic drivers of change. 

Then there are the places that are "so operationally focused" or just plain poorly run that they can't be bothered to think about technology much at all or the people that make up the organization and its fiber. 

In many cases, the wheel may be turning, but the hamster is dead: 

There is no real enterprise architecture to speak of. 

There are no IT strategic or operational plans. 

There are no enterprise or common solutions or platforms. 

There is no IT governance or project/portfolio management. 

Even where there are some IT projects, they go nowhere--they are notions or discussion pieces, but nothing ever rolls off the IT "assembly line."

How about buying an $800 software package to improve specific operations--that gets the thumbs down too. 

Many of these executives can't even spell t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y!

It's scary when technology is such an incredible enabler that some can't see it for what it is. 

Rather to them, technology is a distraction, a threat, a burdensome cost, or something we don't have time for.

Are they scared of technology?

Do they just not understand its criticality or capability?

Are they just plain stupid? 

Anyway, organizations need to look at their leadership and ask what are they doing not only operationally, but also in terms of technology improvement to advance the organization and its mission. 

Look to the organizations that lead technologically, as well as that treat their people well, and those are ones to ogle at and model after.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 27, 2018

The Good Eggs

So I've learned it's not all about the money and the title. 

What is the most important is being around good, decent people.

I've always heard that your relationships are most important.

But it's not just relationships, it's also who you are relating to. 

There are good eggs, and there are not such good eggs. 

Don't get fooled by what's on the eggshell--that is certainly no yolk. 

Most of eggs know who and what they are. 

Some eggs like to scramble the others. 

Some eggs like to poach on the others. 

Some eggs like to crack the others' shells. 

But then there are other eggs that like it over easy with the other eggs. 

They all want to get the meal cooked and have it tasty and nutritious, but some eggs just don't know how to treat others eggs with decency, respect, and integrity.

It's best to be around those eggcelent eggs, and that is where the best happens and the good eggs gravitate to. 

Be careful what eggs you associate with, because there is nothing that smells worse than a rotten egg. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2018

Sadistic SOBs

So the scariest people in the world are the sadistic ones. 

They are the ones without empathy.

They get pleasure from hurting others. 

Yes, we all hurt other people sometimes.

But it's different when we do it by accident or when we feel bad about our wrongful actions.

Sadistic people don't just not feel bad or regret...

Instead, they actually savor watching others suffer and squirm. 

Other people's pain and misfortune are what gives them their energy and happiness. 

Rather than working on themselves, they rather put down others. 
"I'm better, because your worse or because I kick your a*s!"

What types of people are these? 

They are not really human. 

They are lacking genes for empathy. 

They are lacking a holy soul. 

They are cold, calculated, and hateful. 

While it wonderful to see some people seek love and peace. 

It is disturbing to see those that run after hate and harm. 

Your loss is their gain. 

Your pain is their pleasure. 

Your tears are their springs.

Your cries are their laughter. 

Why did G-d put these sub-humans in this world?

Perhaps to test us humans

Can we maintain dignity, integrity, and humanity among the beasts of hell? 

We can, but like others that have gone before us, we bear the mark of fighting with the devil. 

The devils live among us, but we must still strive to be angels before man and G-d. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2018

Got Skills?

I thought this was a very telling sign right off the highway in Washington, D.C. 

"Does your child have life skills?"

And then it lists things like:
"Cooking, budgets, sewing, ironing, time managment, communication, and fun"

The classes are offered by ActualLifeSkills.com.

I took a look online at what a typical 6-week class offered on Sundays for 3-hours at a time and at a cost of $345. 

It even covered things like:
"Handshakes, eye contact, and conversation starters
Voice projection and confidence
Party/guest etiquette, gifts and thank you notes"

And of course, aside from the cooking and budgeting already mentioned, there were more of the foundations such as laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.

I would suggest adding things like computer basics, child rearing, human relations, home maintenance, car mechanics, hunting, fishing, gardening, first-aid, fitness, and even self-defense. 

Since, we spend so much time teaching book skills, I have often thought why we don't spend more time teaching these fundamental life skills. 

We are raising a generation of kids that can score 1500+ on the SATs, but they don't know sh*t about real life and couldn't survive a week without electricity, Internet, or mom and dad taking care of them. 

Back to basics. 

Back to life skills. 

Back to survival. 

Back to being self-sufficient. 

There is no reason that we can't add these items to our broken school curriculums. 

You shouldn't have to go to special classes to learn to live life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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