November 20, 2017

Hammer and Nail

Often, we have a one size fits all orientation to life. 
"To a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

We try to solve fresh daily problems, yet everything we are going through is seen through our preset filters and mindsets. 

In many cases, we are simply and undeniably biased, mistakenly believing that what worked in the past or for particular challenges will always work in the future and for all our problems. 

We stereotype people and races and see them as either "the good guys" or "the bad guys"--but there's no grey in there to further differentiate.  

Also, we work in a comfortable zone of blind routine thinking that we wish it's all as simple as wash, rinse, and repeat.

But while some die-hard habits and lessons learned in life are very valuable and should be mentally recorded and referenced, seeing life through a single, or even a few handy-dandy, filters can prove disastrous when things or times change. 

For example, one big criticism of our dealing in Washington is that:
"Politicians, like generals, have a tendency to fight the last war."

Instead, if we evaluate the nuances of each person and particular situation, we can work to get a more detailed evaluation, and potentially be able to fine-tune approaches for what needs to be done, and how, with each and every one, accordingly. 

Chucking a batman belt approach to just using whatever tools are immediately available, can facilitate a broader and more creative approach to problem-solving. 

Sure, to a certain degree, we are creatures of habit--and we intuitively rely on what's worked in the past, and reject and shun what hasn't--but past experiences do not necessarily foretell future successes. 

If we don't stay agile and resilient, we can easily get blown away by the situation or the competition. 

There is always a new challenge to test us and someone coming up who may be better, faster, or stronger that wants to try and take us on or down. 

A shotgun approach, in lieu of a more precise surgical strike, can result in a lot of collateral damage and maybe even missing the mark altogether. 

Think, think, think. 

Focus on what needs to get done--apply lessons learned as applicable, but also look for new sources and methods to build a bigger and more versatile tool chest.

In the walking dead, a hammer to the head works fairly well on all Zombies, but sometimes there are too many zombies in the hoard or even more dangerous living people and situations to attend to. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to stevepb)
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November 19, 2017

White Lie, Black Truth

No this is not another civil or human rights post, although I like writing those as well. 

Rather, this is about how we use our words to help and not hurt others. 
"White Lie, 
Black Truth"

Yes, we all know that it's wrong to lie (it's even in the 10 Commandments). 

Except, of course, when we need to tell a "white lie" in order to keep someone's feelings from getting hurt.

For example, I may not like your new haircut, but when you ask me glowingly what I think, instead of telling you how it's too short or whatever, I tell you, "Yeah, it looks great!"

Then, there is the "black truth."

That's when we swallow hard and tell the  truth to someone, even though it may hurt their feelings, it's ultimately for their good. 

For example, your child may be going of course with their lives, and while you don't want to hurt their feelings, you know you need to tell them the truth in order to help them course-correct.

Telling lies or truth can be hurtful to people, but a white lie isn't really bad, because it's used to protect someone's feeling, the black truth, is also not so dark and foreboding, because there are times when you need to get past the superficial, be real with someone, and tell them the hard truth in order to help them in a very practical sense. 

That's one of life's most difficult lessons, that not everything is black or white. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 18, 2017

Invasion of Dinosaurs



So what's with the invasion of dinosaurs. 

First one is standing next to the checkout line in Whole Foods in Maryland.

Second one is actually on someone's terrace overlooking the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

Third one is the real McCoy from the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 

Certainly, dinosaurs aren't cute and cuddly--even the plush ones from Whole Foods--they'd eat you and I for dinner if they could!

So why do we gravitate to relics from the Ice Age past?

Perhaps, just like looking forward to Aliens from outer space, the dinosaurs represent an important historical link for us, and thus anchor us in a much larger perspective of time and space. 

In a way, it all points to the dichotomy between us as humans with great--almost endless--potential, and yet at the same time, how small we are relative to the enormous dinosaurs that roamed the earth of yesteryear as well as the distinct possibility of mighty extraterrestrials that we may someday (soon) encounter from outer space. 

From this context, I guess what's really amazing is that we, as a people, are still here!

Despite our bad habits and unsustainable living, we continue to innovate our way out of own messes of greed, conflict, contagion, pollution, and resource depletion, and create a future far beyond what destroyed our predecessors or even what may come from current or potential future foes. 

Like the economy, we think we can grow ourselves out of all our troubles--and who knows, maybe we can if we can continue to stay at least one or two steps ahead of all the challenges and threats--but, at the back (or front) of our minds is what if we can't or don't?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 17, 2017

A Future Beyond Fear

This is my spin on a Jack Canfield saying, but I like it this way:
"The future is on the other side of fear."
Sometimes we feel hemmed in or torn down by life.

And there is plenty of fear of failure and not being able to do what we need to do. 

But the only way to get there is to get past the fear!

You need to look straight ahead into the future of what you want. 

And you need to overcome your worst fear...that you're not good enough, you're not smart enough, you're not strong enough, and you're not beautiful enough.

...and the gnawing feeling inside that you can't do it.

This is precisely when you need to center yourself, strengthen yourself, and pray for G-d's help.

Whether to get over it, under it, or through it. 

The future--your future--is on the other side of that fear--that fear that is holding you back.

No, you're not stupid, ugly, weak, or unworthy.

Yes, you're a child of the G-d on the most high. 

So you can reach deep and reach high to accomplish your mission in life. 

You can truly leap over mountains and even reach for the stars. 

No, it's not beyond you.

It's right in front of you.

Take that deep breath, clench your fist, gird you sword, and ready yourself in every way.

The fear holding you back is yours to conquer. 

And the future is yours to be had. ;-)

(Inspired by my wife, Dannielle Blumenthal)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 16, 2017

The Folly of Bullies

So there is an issue with people not treating other people with respect and dignity in life and at work.

Today again, the Wall Street Journal reported that "Companies Wake Up To The Problem of Bullies at Work."

This is leading some organizations to issue "Codes of Civility" for people to act like mensches and treat each other nicely. 

Adults are just so like children--with work bullies not all that different from schoolyard bullies.

Why do people need to elevate themselves on the backs of others? 

Isn't it better to join hands and work together as brothers for the betterment of all.

Bullying anyone at work or at home doesn't benefit anyone, including the bully!

I read today in Psalms 37: 35-36:
"I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; I sought him, but he could not be found 
[But] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace."
How can people forget that the true "big boss" is G-d Almighty in Heaven.

And He judges us for a good or not so good end. 

We are all just flesh and blood and we all answer to the One That Was, Is, and Will Always Be!

Isn't it obvious that we're here to learn to act with lovingkindness to one another.

All are imperfect, but treating each other well is how we get closer to G-dly perfection. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 15, 2017

Body Morphic Disorder

So often you hear about people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). 

This is a psychiatric disorder where people are obsessed with their real or perceived body flaws. 

Often their notions of a physical flaw is widely exaggerated like someone who has a barely noticeable mole, but they see it as a major blotch on their skin that everyone must be staring at and repulsed by.  

People with this disorder may often stand in front of the mirror starring at themselves obsessing over these minor imperfections. 

But there is something major that is missing here. 

And it is the polar opposite of BDD.

I would call it the Body Morphic Disorder (BMD). 

My notion of BMD is where people are similarly obsessed with their bodies, but rather than real or perceived flaws, they are focused on real or perceived notions of their body's beauty and  perfection!

Instead of looking in the mirror and perceiving problems and feeling self-loathsome, these people are excessively vain and see themselves as a (near) perfect specimen of a human being. 

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

Or the equivalent of ain't I just grand!

It's funny-weird that we perceive criticism and self-contempt (BDD) as a psychiatric disorder, but we don't generally see narcissistic self-worship as a personality disorder!

Yet any extreme is a bad thing. 

Excessive loving or hating of your physical self--is the kiss of death when it comes to seeing things the way they really are and being a genuine human being. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2017

Wrapped In Bubble Wrap

So I thought this was an interesting risk management strategy...

One colleague joked with me that:
"Everyone should just wrap themselves in bubble wrap!"

Reminded me of that game where people put on big wearable inflatable bumpers and then smash into each other for fun.

The problem though is that sometimes we put on the bubble wrap, bulletproof vest, or seat belt, but then we get stupidly overconfident. 

We think we are protected, but nothing human in impenetrable. 

So the person with the seat belt and air bag drives too fast and off a cliff and still gets him/herself killed. 

Or the person with the bulletproof vest gets shot with a high caliber armor piercing shell or in the back of the head.

Like on many cars, where the mirror says, "objects in mirror are closer than they appear," we need not over rely on safety, protective, and risk measures and still do stupid things.

One guy told me, he backed up into the wall in the garage, because he thought there was more room and that's not how things looked in the mirror. 

Let's face it, there is no bubble wrap that can fully protect us from life. 

Everyday we face risks out there, and we need to manage them with common sense or else... ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2017

Inspiring Greatness

I thought this was inspirational. 

Muhammad Ali believing that he's the greatest boxer.

And the child sitting in front with these huge red boxing gloves on--presumably dreaming about becoming the next Muhammad Ali!

The butterfly sitting on the boxing gloves in front of the child adds an interesting dimension, where the child dreams of developing into the "next great one," just like a butterfly morphs from a caterpillar into a beautiful flying creatures with colorful and expansive wings. 

This child wants to fly and soar to greatness like Muhammad Ali did. 

We all need an inspiration that has overcome adversity to make it against all odds. 

For me, this inspiration was Rocky who rose from the streets to become a fighter and winner not only in the ring, but in life as a person of integrity and a mensch. 

If we dream it, it can be--with G-d's blessing and plenty of hard work. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 12, 2017

Potty Mouth Award

So I had to laugh when I saw this Potty Mouth "work of art" award. 

And it had a real potty in it too!

It reminded me of some foul-mouthed, but fun-spirited colleagues who actually used to keep a scorecard in the office with tick marks for each occurrence of cursing by person.

Let's just say that there were some clear winners on this account.

In many cases, they did it as a vent for all the frustration at work and also because they thought it was funny. 

I remember my dad who was very religious and he used to say jokingly and with a big smile:
"Don't use that f*ckin language with me!"

Growing up as a Jewish kid even from the Bronx, it was never really an issue for us.

Although even I have to admit that sometimes hearing someone get really angry and spewing off like that--while not appropriate, it does let you know where their head is at--at least for that moment in potty time.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 11, 2017

The Fine Line Between Fantasy and Reality

So I've started to realize that there are at times a (very) thin line between fantasy and reality. 

In some cases, people hear some facts or some truth, and then in their mind, they concoct entire stories of fantasy or full-fledged conspiracy around it.

But more than that, the fantasy in their minds, because it starts with a real fact or two then becomes entirely perceived as reality itself. 

We saw plenty of this in the last election cycle and even today, with one political side or the other purchasing phony dossiers or making up stories about the opposition--and they may even have some underlying facts associated with it. 

But around these facts, entire scripts and stories are concocted through inductive reasoning or highly imaginative thinking, whether for example, of deep Russian conspiracies reminiscent of the era of McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trails of yesteryear. 

Again, I'm not saying that nothing is there, but the question is whether there is real truth then to the whole conspiracy that has been drawn from fantastical minds of opposition agents, reporters, and others gainfully benefiting and perhaps running amuck with these grandiose versions of alternate reality?

What I am coming to believe is that it's not so much that people are willfully making up these stories (although there can certainly be plenty of biases, exaggerations, and agendas at work as well), but that in their mind, they create these bombastic versions of what seems like truth to them and then they pawn it off and sell it to others who are only to happy to latch unto some juicy new gossip or theory of "what's really going on."

Similarly, some people who get very mad may actually take albeit a genuine fight with another person and pour layer upon layer of evil doings and manipulations on them until by the time their mind is done, the other person has become the devil themselves--and the fantasy for a short time seems like it is the reality--until such time that cooler heads prevail and reality replaces the mind's fantasy or it's ultimate fears. 

In short, there is a very fine line between fantasy and reality--our minds can get carried away with facts or notions of the moment and build those into full-fledged conspiracy theories of "who done it" and "why didn't we see it all along."

Certainly, this doesn't mean that there aren't some very good pretenders out there who truly are doing very bad things and covering their tracks, and it's for the gifted and detective minds out there to perceive those and prove them as being the greater reality.

But we have to be careful in accusing people--until such time that the facts are all there and the perception or fantasy of our mind's eye is shown to be the reality indeed. 

We need good investigative journalism, excellent law enforcement and intelligence, and clarity of mind to know what's real and what's fake in life and in our fantastical minds. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2017

Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 

1. Teamwork - Remember you're not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting! 

2. Work-Life Balance - Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life--professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual--then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!

3. Perspective - You've got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side--we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!

4. Sense of Humor - When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you're looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly...perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!

5. Faith - No matter what...G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life's journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!

On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:

"The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!" (or in Hebrew "Adonai li v'lo ira")

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2017

Couple Arguing Loudly About Sex and Pregnancy On The DC Metro {Funny}



This couple is arguing loudly in front of everyone on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 

She claims the coming baby is his, and that he needs to take a paternity test. 

He says it's impossible that it's his because she's 3 months pregnant and they haven't had sex in 5 months!

This goes on and on in a most hilarious and boisterous way, and they even try and involve some of the innocent bystanders on the train. 

Always a show in this crazy town and it's not just the politics! ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 8, 2017

It's All In The Interpretation

So a friend sent me this hilarious spoof about automatic transmissions, and it goes something like this...

A guy calls up the car service hotline and asks for help with his car.

What's the matter?

Well the car works perfectly in the daytime, but it refuses to drive at night. 

The lady on the customer service line is baffled.

Then he explains:

- During the daytime, I just put the car into "daytime" (D) mode, and it drives fine.

- But then at night, I put it into the "nighttime" (N) mode, and it doesn't move.

- What's worse yet, when another car tried to jump ahead of him, he puts the transmission into "race" (R) mode, and he ends up hitting the car behind him!

At this point, the customer service representative is completely cracking up laughing. 

Apparently not everyone has the same notion of "drive" (D), "neutral" (N), and "reverse" (R)--and frankly, maybe we shouldn't take so much in life for granted.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to AliExpress)
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November 7, 2017

Sometimes We Get Surprised

Sometimes we get surprised in life. 

Now of course, the surprise can be good or not so good. 

One person told me this funny story about how they were in the bathroom and they reached for the toothpaste.

They put it on their toothbrush and proceeded to brush their teeth.

All of a sudden though, they realized that something didn't taste quite right.

Lo and behold, they see that they had accidentally put Desitin (diaper rash ointment) on their toothbrush.

Yikes, that was nasty indeed (at least no mouth sores after that)!

But surprises, even when not so good, can be a wake up call. 

In this case, you better be more careful what the heck in put in your mouth.

And more generally-speaking, we need to pay attention to what we're doing--be deliberate, plan, and adjust accordingly. 

I remember early in my career, one supervisor telling me, "I don't like surprises!"

Yeah, unless it's winning the Powerball lottery jackpot or something like that, what surprises are usually all that great anyway? 

Sure, I like a my share of adventure, novelty, fun, and challenge in life, but also I'll take a mouthful of tranquility mixed with some incremental progressive learning and growth over Desitin on my toothbrush any day of the week. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 6, 2017

Begone With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight saving time is one of those ideas that should be relegated to the dustbin of history. 

It serves no functional purpose and is actually a negative for society overall. 

Originally devised to have longer daylight in the Summer months by moving the clock forward an hour, it was also thought to save electricity by having more daylight.

However, research on the energy savings have had at best mixed results and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening in Summer with sunset extending to after 9 pm is necessary why???

Let's face it...it is stupid to move the clocks twice a year "springing forward" in the Spring and "falling back" in the Fall. 

Aside from the nonsense of actually having to move the clocks, it is disruptive and unhealthy to our sleep and other bodily patterns--was anyone else up too early for work this morning and hanging around until it was actually time to go in?

And it's not only people's bodily cycle that gets messed up, but animals too. One of my colleagues complained this morning about their dog needing to go out for their walk early this morning--apparently, the dog didn't get the message about daylight savings time. 

Time is not something to mess with--it should be stable like the other natural cycles of good 'ol Mother Nature--that we depend on as the "Laws of Nature!"

We don't change the number of days in December from 31 to 32 (taking it from perhaps October, which we can easily cut back on to 30 or 29 days) to extend the joyous holiday and  the shopping season which is good for economy.

We also don't mess with the number of days of the week--perhaps, for example, we should shorten the week from 7 to 6 days, so that we can have a more frequent rest cycle and rejuvenate our bodies and minds more frequently. Who wouldn't vote to get rid of Mondays and just start the week with Tuesday instead. 

Change is a good thing when it actually has a net benefit to society and it is more than negligible, but continuing to move around the dials on the clock, just because someone woke up one day with another cockeyed idea is not something to keep repeating.

It's time to recognize the bad idea for daylight savings time for what it is and restore stable time like a tick-tock that we can all set our watches consistently to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 5, 2017

STOP Human Trafficking

So we watched the movie "Sold."

It was about this young Nepalese girl (maybe age 12) who was sold into a horrible brothel in Kolkata, India.

She fought to keep from getting raped, but eventually they drugged her and tied her hands to the bedpost--where the evil bastards had their way with this child. 

She and the other young girls in the brothel were raped about 10 times every evening to "repay their debts."

The horror these children go through taken, beaten, drugged, and raped over and over again. 

It's unthinkable and the lowest grotesqueness of people who could possibly treat children this way. 

Finally, the young girl does manage to escape to Hope House (a rescue shelter for the human trafficking victims) and with the information she provides, the police are able to raid the brothel and rescue the other children. 

The movie tells how their are 5.5 million children around the world that are being sex trafficked--and I would presume that the real number is unfortunately much higher!

I can only imagine how G-d must cry heavenly tears for these poor children.

It is incredibly hard to understand that in some areas of the world poverty is so bad that some desperate families actually feel they have to resort to selling their children to survive.

In other cases, the children are preyed on and simply disappear.

Children who should be playing with toys are instead forced to be sexual play things. 

Innocent children who should be treated with love and care are instead treated as animals for the sick and cruel physical pleasures of others. 

Have mercy on these children---save these children from wherever they are bound and held--give them back their freedom and their dignity. 

If ever there was a cause for people to rally around--surely, saving these children from sexual abuse and trafficking is one that all can agree is at the crux of our very humanity and mankind's soul. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 4, 2017

5-Minute Intervals




This was sunrise at 5-minute intervals. 

All I can think is how glorious G-d is and how marvelous his creation.

- The light of the L-rd chases the darkness away.

- The might of the L-rd brings forth a new day. 

- The right hand of the L-rd shows us all the correct way. 

How are your works so majestic indeed. 

All we can do is gaze with eyes wide.

Truly the perfection of the L-rd is shown in his creation. 

We are blessed to see and experience it.

Every day is a miracle that we have in this world.

Even with pain and sorrow, our soul clings to this life. 

Until such time that our Maker calls us home to Him once more. 

Then we gasp our last breath and enter his Heavenly abode. 


For this world is just a corridor to the true world that is to come. 

And so just imagine what that must be like to be even closer to G-d and his endless loving majesty. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 3, 2017

Tooting Your Own Horn

So I always try to see the best in people.

But sometimes it is hard when they are so intent on tooting their own horns. 

Bragging, boasting, patting themselves on the back about how smart they are or a job so incredibly well done.

Oh, you've got to ask yourself...

Is it all really true?

OR  

Do we have perhaps some slight exaggeration going on with a dose of self-aggrandizement, a spoonful of self-promotion, and more than a pinch of big ego?

Perhaps, also the person is in denial as to what their own capabilities--and limitations--really are. 

For example, many artists are enthralled with their work and themselves.
"Isn't this so good?"
"Can you believe I made this?
"Wow, this is impressive, right?"

Sure, there are plenty of talented people out there doing good and even amazing work. 

But even then tempering your achievements with a little modesty and balance, like "I do this well, but I need to grow more in that area"--goes a long way to making the admirable talents and achievements more honest, humble, and believable. 

Always, people are good at some things, and worse at others.

We all have things to work on and improve, and nobody is so perfect in this world!

We can try to come close--that's our job to strive for it--but true perfection belongs to G-d alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 2, 2017

If I Could Be Anyone(s)

So someone asked me a very deep personal question.
"If you had $20 million dollars and could do whatever you want (be whoever you want), what would that be?"

I was on the spot a little and didn't have time to introspect the way I like to do, and I gave an answer that I really wasn't happy with...and it's been bothering me since. 

So sitting down now and really thinking about who I want to be--this is my real answer:

As a composite person, I want to have the:

- Lovingkindness of Mother Teresa

- Serenity of the Dalai Lama

- Spirituality of Moses

- Determination of Rocky

- Leadership of Rick Grimes

- Strength of Samson

- Agility of Bruce Lee

- Intellect of Sigmund Freud

- Understanding of Albert Einstein

- Ingenuity of Steve Jobs

- Inquisitiveness of Capt. James T. Kirk

- Bravery of those martyred in the Holocaust

- Heroism of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

- Beauty of my wife and daughters

- The integrity of my dear father, Fred Blumenthal

What would I want to do--just simple things like:

- Cure Cancer, Parkinsons, ALS, etc.

- Eliminate poverty

- Herald in world peace

- Help/comfort those that are hurt and suffering

- Make people smile/happy

- Be a good person with integrity in all situations

I could probably go on and on, but generally this is what life means to me. 

Maybe today, I ain't the smartest or fastest or strongest, but I have dreams, hopes, and aspirations. 

If that isn't good enough, well at least I have a heart and a soul. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2017

Pennies From Heaven

So I ran into this lady in downtown Washington, D.C.

She posed for the picture and made sure to line up the top and the bottom posters to get it just right

It says:
"Not One Penny In Tax Cuts For The Rich"

Makes intuitive sense doesn't it: the rich already are blessed with...riches!

Any more pennies in their war chest is sort of a drop in the billionaire bucket. 

With tax reform is on the table now...we need tax relief for the middle class and to grow the economy. 

The rich really do not need to get any richer.

Especially with a national debt over $20 trillion already--and not including future entitlement obligations that exceed projected revenue for social security and medicare, which bring the debt in excess of $70 trillion!). 

The gamble with this whole tax reform plan is that the $1.5 trillion or so in proposed tax cuts over 10 years translates into a much bigger economic expansion that makes up for that revenue loss to the government and more. 

If not, well then Uncle Sam bet wrong and our annual deficit gets bigger and bigger (already $666 billion in FY 2017).

Tax cuts for the rich today and estate tax cuts to pass wealth between generations--when they impact the top 1% are ridiculously targeted to those who really don't need it, and many of the decent ones, like Warren Buffet, don't even want it

Let's have a heart and help the people that really need the help--let's narrow the growing divide between the haves and the have nots, and move to eliminate the class system that elevates one child of G-d over another. 

- While some live in McMansions, others are homeless.

- While some eat steak and drink expensive bottles of wine every night, others go hungry and thirsty.

- While some wear fancy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and different outfits every day, others don't have a clean shirt on their back. 

It's nice to think that some "deserve it" more than others, but we also have to think who really needs it more. 

And if the pennies do ultimately come from Heaven (as all blessings do), then let us distribute these with compassion and lovingkindness as we know our Creator would want us to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 31, 2017

Stop Playing Politics With Our Security

Another terrorist attack in NYC, not far from the World Trade Center, now memorial!

Radical Islamist mows down pedestrians and bicycle riders in a bike lane along the West Side Highway. 

- 8 innocent people dead.

- Another dozen wounded. 

Now, the Mayor and pundits say, ah maybe we should've had barricades up there so someone with a darn truck couldn't do this. 

And better double up on security for the Halloween parade tonight and NYC Marathon on Sunday.

Well, as they say: 
"Better late than never!"

And so it is with our nation's borders.

As the President tries to erect a border wall and to restrict visas from countries that have not put in the necessary screening security, certain lawmakers and liberal judges keep blocking these actions. 

They don't want to discriminate against anyone, which I agree is a noble cause. 

However, as every news station was reporting again tonight, the terrorist in NY today was shouting in Arabic that G-d is great!

This was not an innocent vehicular accident. 

There ARE people out there that want to kill us and inflict serious harm on our country. 

To those people that continue to fight rational, reasonable security measures to protect our homeland and our citizens, I say to you:
You have blood on your hands!

And unfortunately, we can rest assured that our enemies are planning plenty more to come in their incessant attacks on the West (may G-d have mercy on us).

It is time for the people of this country to demand security...to insist on a border wall...to assert our right to restrict visas to those countries that won't ensure proper screening procedures. 

How long will we wait--how much blood will be spilled--before we stop playing politics with national and homeland security! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 30, 2017

Halloween DC Style

So Halloween in Washington, D.C. is no small deal.

I liked the new spooky Orange Fanta soda cans with the scary lady on it--it really stood out from all the others--Coke, Pepsi, etc.--that were otherwise so boring. 

Then there was this other lady riding the Metro in her Halloween outfit--anybody need a nurse?

Let's just say she seems to have evoked some attention on the train. 

Even more than another women (lower left) holding 2 baby dolls slumped over backwards in a very unfortunate manner.

One more is Mr. Baywatch lifeguard here, and peering over his shoulder is someone with scary Zombie hallowed out black eyes and sharp growling teeth!

Finally, one of my wonderful colleagues told me about a Halloween party she went to with her male friend. 

I asked whether they dressed up. 

She said, "yeah," and smiled.

So I asked, "What did you dress up as?"

Well this was a new one for me...

She was dressed up as the jelly side of the sandwich and he was the peanut butter side. 

What all this means for this zany holiday, I have no idea...but it's a fun time of year that doesn't go unnoticed by anyone. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 29, 2017

Who Won The Election? Russia

So it turns out that the all important election of 2017 for the 45th President of the United States...

Was not between President Trump and Hillary Clinton at all.

Oh no.

Because who really won the election is Russia!

From the dossier to the uranium deal, charges of collision and stealing the election, the investigations, special counsel, weakened White House, chaos, confusion, misinformation, fake news, and alternative facts.

This is called INFORMATION WARFARE. 

All of these serve not only to weaken our elections and political system, and unnerve the trust of the American people, it wastes the time and efforts of our elected officials and media chasing ghosts. 

When you can't win an election fair and square, you pull out the McCarthyism card invoking fear of Russia and provoking political repression here at home. 

It's the "Commie bastards," of course that are interfering in our democracy.

But really it wasn't!  

Unless you count a hundred thousand dollars or so of political ads and botnets in a billion dollar plus election as serious meddling--not

Basically, we are talking a self-inflicted national wound--that keeps bleeding and bleeding. 

Our country is going on a wild goose chase--looking for something, turning over stones, but what they find--how significant is any of it?

The real winner again is Russia.

They are strengthening themselves in the world. 

They have the West on edge.

Our politicians and system of government is weakened.

We waste time, while Russia takes over Crimea, wins big in Syria, militarizes the Arctic, partners with China, and advances their world agenda. 

We are distracted with eyes off the ball--spending days, weeks, months, and years in a tizzy pointing fingers at each other, seeing shadows, scared of ghosts, and punching into the air. 

Russia won the election for sure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 28, 2017

Deterrence Alone Is Not A Strategy

So there is a military doctrine that has been in place for decades. 

- MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction 

If you attack the USA with weapons of mass destruction, you'll get an overwhelming responses that will totally destroy your country. 

This was what supposedly held the USSR at bay during the cold war. 

And even recently, President Trump threatened North Korea that they would be "totally destroyed" if they try anything on us. 

The problem is that the MAD doctrine of deterrence assumes incorrectly that you are always dealing with rational actors and not with madmen.

Let's face it, their are plenty of crazies out there, and some of whom may be willing to go down in a "blaze of glory" as long as they stand up to the United States and die a heroes death for their radicalized or "subjected" people. 

Whether it's Iran or North Korea or others--we may not know what we are really dealing with here until it's too late. 

Life is not everything to these people--remember many a terrorist has died a martyrs death with the promise of 72 virgins in heaven awaiting them. 

To some, as Prime Minister Gold Meir stated:
"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us!"

Hate by virtue of perceived injustice, required Jihad or "holy war," brainwashing or threats and the desire for a "glorious death" standing up to the infidels or the "great Satan...any of all of these can contribute to ignoring the consequences. 

Israel has tried to deter horrible homicide bombers/and other mad terrorists from performing their evil misdeeds on the civilian population by for example, demolishing the terrorist homes as a potent consequence that they know going into it, yet many terrorists still wear the explosive vests and detonate anyway.

Similarly, North Korea despite the President's threat that they "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," brushed it off and shot off more volleys of ICBMs and threatened to engulf Guam in fire. 

- The point is that deterrence alone is not a strategy!

If our enemies can hit us with a devastating attack--whether WMD, cyber, EMP, or quantum attack-- that can inflict immeasurable harm on us--they may actually choose to take their best shot, rather than wait for us to hit them or continue to feel disrespected, subjected, inferior, and hopeless.

To someone on the radical fringes or the mental edge, maybe--just maybe--they will do the unthinkable and surprise us.

What good will our fire and fury counterstrike do us, when our cities are in ruin and our people dead and dying en masse. 

Revenge isn't so sweet when your family, homeland, and virtually everything you know and held dear is gone.

The only real military strategy is to be able to defend ourselves and AVOID getting a homeland catastrophe!

We need massive investment and expertise in missile defense, bio defense, cyber defense, quantum computing, and expansive hardening of our critical infrastructure.

Unfortunately, as naysayers to the threats abound, we are no where near where we need to be in protecting the homeland.

If one person falls from the high wire and smashes their head, what good is it that the other person falls and suffers similarly or worse. 

The point is not to fall, not to get hurt, not to die, not to have our country and way of life destroyed.

Deterrence does not guarantee this security to the country--especially when dealing with no shortage of radicalized nuts out there. 

Only a genuine defense that can STOP and counter the threats BEFORE a devastating attack happens and hits us is a strategy worth pursuing ...and THEN you can punch the other person squarely in their devil's face!

Without an adequate defensive strategy, get ready, because every high flying act eventually falls to the ground and hits their head hard. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 27, 2017

Longevity...85 Is The New 65

So I was speaking to one of our very nice elderly neighbors.

Last week he lost his dear wife of 60 years!

I had visited him during Shiva (the Jewish period of mourning) to wish him our best and let him know we are there if there is anything he needs. 

He told me how the night before she passed, they had gone out to eat and to the theatre (she loved the theatre)...and everything was fine!

And then the next day, he went to work--he still teaches medicine at the local hospital 2 days a month.

At midday, he called his wife and asked how she was and if she needed anything from the store (to eat etc.)

She told him she was fine and she didn't need anything. 

But by the time he got home just one hour later...she had fallen, hit her head, and died. 

He tried to do CPR by it was no use, she was gone. 

Both he and his wife were 84-years old. 

He mentioned that would tease her that he was 3 months older than her, and so she had to listen to him!

I felt so bad for him...it was obvious how much he loved her and missed her already. 

When he told me how old she was, I tried to say reassuringly:
"That's a good old age...at least she lived a full life!"

But then he answered:
"84--that's nothing! 85 is the new 65!!!"  
And went on to tell me how many of their friends are already in the 90's. 

It's funny how no matter what age you are...there is always a will to live!

He said how she had passed quickly and so maybe he could consider that a blessing. 

And we talked about how it truly is especially when some other people really suffer prolonged periods with terrible debilitating and painful illnesses. 

It was also strange that around the same time, I ran into yet another elderly neighbor, and he had tears in his eyes...and I asked how he is. 

He told me how he just learned 3 weeks ago that his wife has lung cancer. 

Seeing his expression how bad things were, I inquired what stage it was at. 

He said, "stage 3 cancer," and I told him as well how sorry I was for his pain. 

All this made me realize again, how very tenuous life is...and we all hang by a thread that G-d decides at any moment when to shear and when to cut--we need to live every moment to the fullest and as if it's our last. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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