November 22, 2014

In Case Of Emergency


Washington D.C. Metro Emergency Instructions

Ugh, long and boring.


How 'bout this instead:


- Don't Freak Out

- Don't Get Out 

(unless your in immediate danger)

- Don't Take Your Bulky Stuff Out

- Don't Fry When Your Out 

(stay away from the electrified 3rd rail--zap!)

Easy, smeazy. ;-)


[Note: Follow instructions at your own risk.]


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal - sorry so fuzzy, train was moving)

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Dire Warnings On CyberSecurity

This week Adm. Michael Rogers, the Director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command issued a stark warning to the nation about the state of cybersecurity:

With our cybersecurity over the next decade, "It's only a matter of the 'when,' not the 'if,' that we are going to see something dramatic."

The Wall Street Journal reports that he gave " a candid acknowledgement that the U.S. ISN'T yet prepared to manage the threat!"

China and "one or two others" [i.e. Russia etc.] are infiltrating our SCADA networks that manage our industrial control systems, including our power turbines and transmission systems,.

The cyber spies from the nation states are "leaving behind computer code that could be used to disable the networks  in the future."

Can you imagine...you must imagine, you must prepare--not if, but when. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 21, 2014

A Fat Pill

So true story...

This guy at work goes to me today, "Hey, did you get a fat pill?"

I am thinking to myself DID I put on a few pounds...but still how totally rude. 

My colleague must've seen me looking at him with some disbelief and irritation that he would say something like that to me. 

Then he gets this look on his face like, oh sh*t {oops that wasn't what I meant!}

Immediately, he reaches down to the counter in one of our common areas and picks up a Dunkin' Donut from the box that someone had brought in for Friday munchies. 

He's holding up the donut to his face mouthing, "A fat pill," as he takes a big bite engulfing half the donut (or more) in that one mouth shot. 

Well, I never heard of a Donkin' Donut called a fat pill before...

Probably lucky for someone that is what he was referring to (LOL). ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Homeless At Foggy Bottom

The homeless situation in Washington D.C. (as in other big cities in the U.S.) is horrible and tragic. 

The homeless person here is wrapped in a blanket trying to stay warm on her wheelchair. 

Further, her bucket, at her feet, for people to give is empty. 

The Thanksgiving holiday is this week, but where is the thanks and where is the giving?

Interesting...halfway down the block is GW Hospital and across the street behind this lady is a gorgeous, modern, brand new GW University engineering and science building (almost completed now). 

The haves, the have mores, and the have nots. 

Where are all the trillions of dollars of spending going..,that we can't feed, clothe, shelter, and educate our people. 

We need to do better as a society for providing care for the truly needy.

G-d is watching what we do and what we don't do.

Our test. and the test of our elected officials/leadership--will we/they stand up for those that can't? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 20, 2014

To Be A Free People

This week we saw an absolutely horrific terroristic attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem.

Two Palestinian cousins brutally hacked and stabbed to death 4 Rabbis's (3 American citizens) while at prayer and killed a policeman trying to stop them. 


I read  how one Rabbi actually had his arm wrapped in the holy Tefillin (phylacteries) completely severed from off his body. 


By the time the attack was done, the synagogue was filled with pools of blood of those in the middle of prayer to the Almighty G-d. 


I thought to myself of the Israel anthem, the Hatikvah, that speaks to the Jewish hope of being a free people in the land of Zion and Jerusalem (where this attack and many others have been happening):


"As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart, 
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem."

I wondered where is the yearned for "freedom" of our people post slavery; jailings and torture; destruction, rape, murder, and exile; from Crusades to Auto-da-fes, Pogroms, and Holocaust.


Indeed, our history is not only punctuated by discrimination, blind hatred and anti-semitism, but also by extermination and genocide.


Now in a beautiful Middle East democracy called the State of Israel--where the deserts bloom and technological innovation thrives, where people of three major religions worship in their Holy places, how can so much terror still exist:


- Tens of thousands of missiles targeting population centers
- Tunnels streaming with terrorists trying to kidnap and murder the innocent
- Suicide bombers striking buses, cafes, pizzerias, and more.
- Terrorists driving into crowds of pedestrians, stabbing people with screwdrivers, hitting them with lead pipes, throwing stones and firebombs, slitting the throats of babies, taking and murdering children from the bus stops, and hacking to death Rabbis at prayer...
- Moreover, with Iran, there is a stated existential threat from them to annihilate Israel [via Nukes]...the clock is ticking down.

No nation on Earth would live with this, and neither should the Jewish people!


Israel cannot have Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad as well as nation state terrorists striking at their heart from near, far, and from within. 


The immediate response should be a declaration of Jerusalem as the united Capital of Israel, period.


Subsequent decisions of borders, boundaries, and terms to be decided by the State of Israel to meet their security needs. 


Freedom to live, work, play, and worship without terror, non-negotiable. 


Peace underwritten with security by G-d's promise to the Jewish people...end of discussion. 


Finally, as to Iran (and others) who openly threaten Israel with WMD--Israel and the U.S. must preempt and hit them staggeringly hard--the best defense is an striking offense.


The terror must end here and now, once and for all. 


O' Lord, give us freedom from bigotry, hatred, and terror--O' Lord, give us peace. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to zeevveez)

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November 19, 2014

Turducken Is Real

So I thought Turducken was a joke (a fowl i.e. foul dish).

Everyone has regular turkey onThanksgiving, right--even if they don't like it!

Well maybe you get a pass if your vegetarian, vegan, or whatnot. 

But no, here a genuine advertisement at a lcoal eatery for--you got it--turducken.

Turkey, Duck, and Chicken--combined!

$130 bucks feeds 12...on second thought, I rather not. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 18, 2014

Say Little And Do Much

New Article by Andy Blumenthal here in Public CIO Magazine. 

"It's not what we say, it's what we do that really matters."

Hope you enjoy!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Give 'Em A Choice

This is a funny sign from Germany for exiting...you can go this way or that.

I guess that's a choice...even if they both take you to the same place.

It's like my dad said to me the other day, "Give 'em a choice: take it or leave it!"

It's true--we can choose--and if leave it, then we have another choice, "Walk away or run!" ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Martin Fisch)
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November 17, 2014

Balloon Mug

Love this new balloon mug from Starbucks.

Most of their tchotchkes are so ugly or cheap looking, but this mug rocks.

Got this for my daughter, but I want one too.

Reminds me when we went air ballooning in Las Vegas together.

Great memories and a really beautiful mug.

Too nice to drink out of. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 16, 2014

Didn't Do It

My elderly father retold a funny joke to us yesterday when we visited him at his assisted living home.

It goes like this...

A teacher in school asks the classroom of children, "Who killed Abraham Lincoln?"

One little child in the front of the room meekly raises his hand, and when called on by the teacher answers,"I didn't do it!"

The teacher is taken aback at the response, and after class calls the child's father and tell him to come in after school to discuss this. 

After school, the father shows up and sits down with the teacher, and listens to him repeat the story about what happened in class.

The father is visibly annoyed, and when the teacher is done staunchly says, "If my son says he didn't do it, then he didn't do it!"

Ah, I suppose one could take this as a sad commentary either generally-speaking on the state of our education system or in particular of this family that is quite clueless--and where it's clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Anime Kicks Butt

Japanese Anime is so cool.

They have these amazing characters that any kid would like to have. 


With swords, shields, guns and well-honed fighting powers, these champions are ready for battle. 

This one was at Barnes and Nobles for $34.95 this holiday session. 

If I was still a kid, I could wrap my imagination around this, and help save the world from all the evil and stupid characters out there--unfortunately, both fictional and too often real.   ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 15, 2014

Guard Your Menorah

This was a funny picture I took of a zebra with the stripes that are in the shape of a Jewish menorah. 

The menorah has a center stem from which to light the branches extending upward to the left and right on the menorah. 

Last night at a Shabbat dinner, someone said something very interesting about keeping G-d commandments and staying innocent and holy.

He said a person face, which has 4 of our senses (mouth, eyes, nose, and ears) is actually like a menorah.

These start at the center of the face and then are emanating upwards and outwards:

- First, the mouth (speech)  is sort of the center stem--and our words needs to be carefully spoken so that we speak nicely to others and not to hurt them with what we say. 

- Second, our nose with 2 nostrils (smell)--we should smell holy things like the sacrifices and incenses to G-d, and not things that make us improperly attracted to worldly impurities, like inappropriate sexual partners, drug, smoking, and alcohol. 

- Third, our 2 eyes (sight)--we need to see the good in others and the world around us, but guard ourselves so that we do not see things that make us want, desire, and lead us astray after falsity. 

- Fourth, our 2 ears (hearing) --we work to avoid hearing "evil speech" about others and instead seek to perceive words of insight, spiritually and growth. 

I would add the following to complete our 5 senses:

- Fifth, our 2 hands (touch)---because if we but lift our hands up to heaven in prayer and servitude to G-d, then we use our sense of touch for helping rather than hurting people. 

So while this zebra has a menorah on his side, we have it built into our very faces and bodies. 

And with a little effort, we can use all our senses for doing good, and guard ourselves from the otherwise seemingly natural impulses to do otherwise.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2014

Bring Us Peace


Amazing song "ONE DAY" by hassid Matisyahu--a light unto nations.

Sung by Public School (PS) 22 Chorus in New York.

One day...no more fighting--only love, peace, and brotherhood.

There should not be a dry eye out there.

Mashiach is almost here! ;-)
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Iran: Engagement or Containment

As the deadline for the now 2nd round of current negotiations with the dangerous Iranian mullahs fast approaches on November 24, we need to remember who we are dealing with over there.

Despite nearly endless negotiations that have gone on since 2002 (or for almost 13 years ), including yet another round of new talks that began 14 months ago and which were extended already once again...


Just this week, no less than Iran's Foreign Minister and lead negotiator made clear their position on nukes, and it is not favorable to coming to any real agreement:


Here in his own words:

  • Iran insists that the U.S. must bow to Iran's "Inalienable Nuclear Rights."
  • Despite our wanting to believe that a deal is possible, he states, "Some [Western] countries have fallen prey to miscalculations [about Iran's position] due to wrong analysis."
  • He goes on to say, "U.S. sanctions against Iran "have left no impact" on their position. 

While our goal may be for a peaceful Iran without nuclear WMD, "a goal without a [genuine] plan is just a wish!"


Hmm...is this a real partner for peace?


It is recognized that:


1) Iran has one of the world's worst records of human right abuses of their own people! 


2) "Iran is the single largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world."


3) Iran threatens "annihilation" and Genocide to their neighbors in the West. 


We cannot fool ourselves anymore that Iran will ever voluntarily give up their desire or pursuit of The Bomb!


Enough rewarding Iran with billions of dollars in incentives just for coming to the table with no meaningful results. 


Yes ideally, we would all love to celebrate this Thanksgiving with a REAL deal for peace.


However, we don't need a bogus agreement or another meaningless extension that gets the Iranians that much closer to nuclear breakout capability and the world to the next major regional or even global war. 


Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."


Perhaps it's time to change the playbook then...


Engagement is an excellent opportunity with a partner that is willing to seriously negotiate, but containment and ultimately military intervention is necessary when talks are simply a long-running ruse or sham to dangerous nuclear WMD and world terror. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 13, 2014

We Didn't Make History

A sincere congratulations to the European Union for the epic landing of a probe from the Rosetta spacecraft--the first such landing on a comet.

They did this with a landing area of just 550 yards in diameter and away from deep crevices, large boulders, and sharp peaks--it is amazing!


Their European space scientists are exclaiming and rightfully so, "We made history today."

The problem for us is that we--the U.S.of A.--didn't!

Yes, we landed the first man on the moon in 1969 and we haven't done it again since 1972.

I remember in grade school, with great pride and wonder, watching the first space shuttle taking flight--that was in 1981.

Since then, we had the horrific Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003), followed by the retirement of the shuttles altogether (2011).

Now, we rely on Russian rockets to bring supplies to the International Space Station and for our military and national security satellites.

Then, just a few weeks ago, we had the explosion of Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo (2014) that is said to have been plagued with problems from inadequate rocket thrust, flight control system issues, and deficiencies in basic structural integrity. 

In the meantime, the Indians have made it to Mars on a dime. 

Where are we as a nation looking to advance into space--where resources and our very survival may someday soon depend?

Just think what those multi trillions of dollars spent (some would say squandered) in Iraq and Afghanistan (now being overrun by ISIS or threatened by the Taliban) as well as for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (uh, what did we really accomplish for all that money spent?).

Where we once led, and as children we stood in awe, now we stand in bewilderment and leave our children marveling at the victories and accomplishments of others. 

We can not/must not become complacent or stop investing strategically in our future--we need to act with urgency and commitment again for our nation to succeed. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 12, 2014

Everything Else Is Anticlimactic

We went to a Veterans Day Concert yesterday, and it was quite moving.

Before the music--60's and 70's (and some dancing)--started, there were a number of heartfelt speeches by distinguished veterans of the Vietnam War.

One lady was a nurse in Saigon working 16 hour days tending to the wounded and dying from the battlefield. She joined the army after 8 of her high school friends from her small hometown were killed in the war. The nurse told us how on the flight to Nam, they were told to look to the person on the immediate right and left of you, becuase one of you will not be coming home.

Another speaker was a special forces Army Ranger who was fighting in North Vietnam on very dangerous covert missions. He led many draftees, who he said had only minimal training, yet fought bravely on missions with bullets flying overhead and mortars and rockets pounding their positions. He described one situation where he knelt down to look at a map with one of his troops, and as they were in that psition half a dozen bullets hit into the tree right above their heads--if they had not been crouched down looking at the map, they would've both been dead. 

A third speaker was a veteran who had been been hit by a "million dollar shot" from the enemy--one that didn't kill or cripple him, but that had him sent him to a hospital for 4-6 weeks and then ultimately home from the war zone. He told of his ongoing activities in the veterans community all these years, and even routinely washing the Veteran's Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Aside from the bravery and fortitude of all these veterans, what was fascinating was how, as the veterans reflected, EVERYTHING else in their lives was anticlimactic after fighting in the war. The nurse for example read us a poem about the ladies in hell (referring to the nurses caring for the wounded) and how they never talked about the patients in Nam because it was too painful, and when they returned home, they had the classic symptoms of PTSD including the hellish nightmares of being back there. 

Indeed, these veterans went through hell, and it seems that it was the defining moment in (many if not most of) their lives, and they are reliving it in one way or another every moment of every day. 

Frankly, I don't know how they did it being dropped on the other side of the world with, as the special forces Vet explained, maps that only told you in very general terms wherer you even where, and carrying supplies for at least 3 days at a time of C-rations, water, ammo, and more--and with the enemy all around you ("there were no enemy lines in this war; if you stepped out of your units area, it was almost all 'unfriendly.'"). One Vet said that if you were a 2nd Lt., like she was, your average lifespan over there was 20 minutes. 

The big question before we go to war and put our troops in harms way is what are we fighting for and is it absolutely necessary. For the troops being sent to the battlezone, everything else is just anticlimactic--they have been to hell. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 11, 2014

I Watch The Years Go By

So two quick stories on getting a little older...

First story:

After my workout today, a guy follows me into the elevator.  

He opens conversation and asks me, “Did you have a good workout?”

I said, “Sure did! What did you do today [for exercise]?”

He motions his arms up and down like pushing some machines and doing some curls, “A little of this and that [long pause]...You know I’m 80!”

I said, “Wow that’s awesome that you still work out--can I ask, how do you do it?”

He replies, “The key is to always keep going, and not to give up.”

I say, “Yes, but also I think it has a lot to do with the One Above.”

He nods in agreement, although still looking determined to keep himself pumping away in the gym. 

As the elevator doors open I say, “Well, I sure hope you can keep going like this for another 80 years.”

He gives me a warm smile, and says, "I hope so too."

Second story:

One of my colleagues at work is retiring after an amazing 51 years of service to the government. 

Now this guy having been around awhile has a really nice engraving of the agencies seal hung on the wall in his office, and months ago, I had commented to him how beautiful and special it was and that “they don’t make them like they used to.”

He said, “Well you know what? When I retire, I’m going to pass it on to for safekeeping.” I thought that is nice, but also probably just talk as they say. 

Well recently, he has announced his "big day" and so he stops by my office, and in his hands he is holding the beautiful seal engraving--he puts out his arms, handing it to me. 

I was like, “OMG, I didn't really expect this. This is great.  Are you sure you want me to have it.”

You says, “Absolutely!” referring back to his promise a number of months ago.  Then he pauses, obviously thinking for a moment, and says to me, “But you have to put in 51 years of government service also! [big smile]”

I said, "That's a noble idea, but honestly, I think I started a little late for that. How about we go for 30 or so with G-d's help?"

Anyway, thinking about these two events, I am not quite sure how these amazing people do it…years of doing, giving, and with a great attitude--and always a desire for another round to go. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2014

Needle and Button @ NYC Info Booth

What information do you get at this NYC booth...how to sew on a button? 

Or maybe this is why they call it "Big Data"? ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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For The Love Of America


Tomorrow is Veterans Day and we remember and honor the sacrifices of so many in securing our freedom and democracy.

Yet, recent events seem to indicate that we are straying from our principles and values as a nation.
  • November 6, 2014: Aside from trying to cut what many are calling a "bad deal" with Iran over their dangerous nuclear WMD program, there are now "private letters" being written to partner with arch enemy Iran against ISIS.
  • November 8-9, 2014: Just 2-3 days later, we once again see the tyrannical and genocidal intentions of Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei calling for the annihilation of one of our closest allies, the State of Israel. 

Hmm...Israel is designated the U.S.'s "Major Strategic Parter," while Iran is a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism.

Short memories? Iran took more than 60 American Hostages for 444 days in the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 and they have an ongoing "Horrific Human-Rights Record." 

Was all the sacrifice just for naught--for the love of America, what are we doing?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Cure Cancer B4 It Kills Again


Nice seeing these signs and slogans against cancer posted today in Washington, D.C.

Looking at the 2014 statistics, there were almost 1.7 million new cases and almost 687 thousand deaths in the U.S. alone for cancer including of the brain/nervous system, female breast, colon/rectum, Leukemia, liver, lung/bronchus, non-hodgkin lymphoma, ovary, pancreas, and prostate.

Way too much suffering and death from cancer...we must fight this killer. 

Whatever we can do to raise money, caring, and empathy...we should do. 

Run, walk, give, support, remember...even just hold someone's hand. 

Thank you American Cancer Society and everyone out there helping to find the cure. 

"14 million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays this year."

Won't it be miraculous when everyone is a survivor in a world without cancer anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2014

Medicine Back When




I thought you may find these photos interesting of how medicine used to be--not all that long ago.

I took these at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. 

1) The Circo Electric Bed rotates a patient 210 degrees to help them go from a prone to a vertical position; push the button and you go almost loop de loop. 

2) A Hospital Ward--no private or semi-private rooms yet; say hello to a dozen or so neighboring patients sharing a room, moaning and groaning, each their own. 

3) An X-ray--say cheese as this machine peers inside your body, hopefully not emitting too much radiation to the patient.

4) An operation--looks serious, almost like an alien abduction, hope they had plenty of anesthesia so it didn't hurt. 

Okay, medicine has come a long way...but we're not there yet, not by a medical tricorder longshot. ;-) 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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Lowest Price Guaranteed!

So I bought a really comfy chair--everyone wants one of these. 

(Note: Pictured here is not the actual chair or store from my story today.)

Anyway, I was so happy thinking about how lush the sitting experience would be. 

Yes, the "retail price" seemed high, but I got the "Veterans Day discount" and then bargained some more. 

So I thought I probably did okay on the negotiation, especially since I was dealing with a major national brand.

Also, the contract/invoice had in writing a "lowest price guarantee"--so that if within 30 days, I found the chair for cheaper, the company "would gladly refund the difference in full"!

Sounds good, right?

But something wasn't feeling right and when I went home I had trouble sleeping--something seemed off with this purchase and this merchant. 

So in the morning, I checked online and found the exact same chair for almost $300 less!

Well, I headed straight to the store with a printout of the lower price I had found and promptly presented it to the store manager for the refund of the difference as promised.

But instead of the glad refund, I got stonewalled and the dumbest look on the store manager's face I have ever seen. 

He started the million excuses why he wouldn't refund the difference in price as promised. 

First he said, oh, the chair I found was a different color--I showed him the chair online and the one in his showroom, and they were the identical color and everything. 

Then, he goes for a second attempt, saying, uh the price guarantee doesn't apply to prices found at outlets, and I said where does the price I found say outlet anywhere? He couldn't find anything like that. 

So he tries a third time to get rid of me, and says, the merchandise has to be advertised under "the same terms and conditions," and it wasn't.  I said what terms and conditions weren't the same?  He said, well, they just weren't the same. 

At which point, he told me plain and simple that he wasn't going to refund the difference and that I should get out of the store. 

I won't tell you all the (legal) details how, but let's just say this guy was sorry for trying to do that...and I walked out with the price difference refunded. 

Buyer beware--lot's of crooks out there trying to take your money and giving guarantees that are complete b.s. 

This is probably especially the case with many brick and mortar retailers who are having serious problems competing with their significantly lower overhead online brethren. 

Beware--Beware--Beware!!! 

I learned again today and taught my daughter to stand up for what is rightfully yours and don't let anyone take advantage of you!  

You work for your money too and no one should cheat you out of it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 8, 2014

Living In Fuzzyland

There was a very good piece in the New York Times by Steven Kurutz called "The 'Kind of' 'Sort of' Era".

The point of which you can, kind of, figure out.

We sort of come across as if we don't know what we are talking about.

It drives us crazy when our kids seem to constantly use that sort of language. 

We tell them to cut it out, but they, kind of, don't listen.

So now the contagion has spread and adults (many of which are in powerful positions) have adapted this tentative language, and sort of feel better using it. 

Why?

Because either they really often dunno what the heck they are talking about or just want to score political points, and so it kind of makes sense.

What? you say--all the "Geenius" pundits, researchers, academics, government officials, big company bosses kind of don't know? 

Ah yeah--we often discuss ad nauseam, throw in a few numbers or spurious "facts" and then sort of just make our best "guesstimate."

Usually, it's kind of like our gut, intuition, whims, politics, or personal agendas drive our approach or decisions as much as anything else.

This is reflected in what is often sort of wishy-washy deliberations and back and forth "decision-making."

Most of the time the answers are obvious....

- Disease Management: Make an ebola quarantine. SAFEGUARD AMERICAN LIVES.

- Terrorism: Put "boots on the ground." INEVITABLE.

- National Security: Cut a bad deal with longtime enemies building dangerous weapons of mass destruction. RIDICULOUS.

- Economy: Balance the budget for our children.  BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

The list goes on and on...

Kurutz is right--we are uncertain about what we are saying and doing, and this is reflected in our "hedge-speak" and our one-foot-in tactics, getting us sort of nowhere as a country. 

I for one am fed up with all this kind of/sort of stuff, and think we need to take a stand, speak the truth, make important decisions, and move forward from fuzzyland where we are now all living. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2014

Lighting The Shabbat Candles

Wanted to share this beautiful picture

The mother is ushering in Shabbat.

The children are gathered around.

The father is in synagogue.

The mother lights the holy candles.

She covers her eyes, and makes the blessing.

"Blessed are you, G-d, King of the Universe, who made us holy with his commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat light."

She then blesses her loved ones. 

Shabbat is here, and it is time to stop all the routine, mundane things from the regular weekdays. 

There is no work on the 7th day--it is the day for Hashem!

Rest, peace, and spirituality are upon us. 

Let us celebrate together and rejoice. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2014

At Peace Amidst Suffering

There is something very smart about Buddhist-thinking. 

(And frankly IMHO, can conceptually mesh very well with Judaism.)

Buddhists nobly accept that life is very much about suffering. 

That greed and evil cause human suffering.

And that we need to reflect, repent, learn, and grow from this as human being with spiritual souls inside us. 

Moreover, that we should have compassion on others, understanding their suffering, even as we experience or remember our own (may G-d have mercy).

This photo taken by at the DC Folk Festival captures well the suffering all around us.

At times, it seems that we are under attack from all sides. 

But like the Buddha at the center, we must submit ourselves to our maker, endure and work to be at peace with ourselves and our surroundings--and to help others achieve the same. 

Yes, maybe a lot easier said then done especially when we are in the throes of it all, but what a noble life we can live and go to the other side with, if we can but learn this. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 5, 2014

Luv Technology, Always

No reason for Sir/Madam technology here to feel down in the dumps.

Yes, we love you technology.

And not just sometimes, but always! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Good Spreads Good

This was a nice note to see this morning at the parking garage. 

"To the good samaritan who picked up an Amex card on 11/3: Thank you! You are awesome."

Look at how good deeds work and spread:

Someone lost their Amex credit card.

Another found it and went out of their way to take the time to safeguard it and turn it in.

The person who lost it then got to recognize the kind act and in turn make the effort to write this nice thank you note and post it. 

Other people passing this by get to see this and learn from it, and hopefully do similar nice things when they are presented the opportunity.

Do you look the other way and run off to do just your own (selfish) things or do you take the time to help others when they are in need?  

The answer may not be obvious to everyone or all the time, but we can all learn and grow. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 4, 2014

My Favorite Couch

This couch is awesome. 

I took this photo in Tyson's Corner many moons ago. 

If anyone knows where to get this couch, please let me know.

I want it--really!  ;-)
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100 Times Harassed!


After my last blog on stopping sexual assault, a colleague brought this other video to my attention.

32 million views and 120 thousand comments and counting. 

This young lady walks around the streets of New York for 10 hours in jeans and a t-shirt and is verbally harassed a 100 times--not including winks and whistles. 


Women (and men) should not have to live in fear, shame, or be abused doing nothing but living their lives peacefully and respectfully. 

Darn, can the folks out there show some respect and decency.

This could be your mother, wife, sister, or daughter...think about it.

Video sponsored by IHollaback
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Stop Sexual Assault

Saw this poster coming off the Metro today in Washington D.C. 

"It's on all of us to stop sexual assault."

It reminded me of this article I read in the DailyMail about this father of a 14-year girl in India that was raped in her home by a medical supply salesman. 

The young girl was raped and impregnated by a 45-year old man who boasted that he was "too well-connected" to ever be prosecuted. 

After some time passed, the father invited the rapist to dinner!

The rapist came. 

The father overcame the rapist, and repeatedly burned the man's genitals with hot thongs.

The rapist died.

This one rapist will certainly not be doing this again. 

While blatant violation of the law and vigilantism is not okay, the poster is right that we need to "stop sexual assault."

Statistics in this country are that 20% of college women are sexually assaulted before they graduate. 

Unacceptable!

Laws protecting women (and men) from sexual assault need to be strengthened, penalties stiffened, and we all need to be on the lookout for inappropriate behavior and speedily report this to law enforcement.

And no one should be above the law and basic morality. 

"It's on us."  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 3, 2014

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana

Took this photo of this very cool looking Orange Fridge.

It actually comes in all sort of vibrant colors including pink, blue, and even "Union Jack."

Made by an Italian appliance maker called SMEG, whose tag line is "Technology with style."

I like technology, and I like design...so this is great stuff!

For home and Museum of Modern Art. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Disabled Be Heard


Promising technology coming from Israeli startup Voiceitt.

Chosen by Wall Street Journal global technology conference as an audience favorite application.

This technology will help the disabled who have trouble speaking to effectively communciate with others. 

The application translates sounds and intonation patterns into words that can be understood. 

Victims of Stroke, Parkinsons, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism may benefit from this. 

The founder of the technology himself has two siblings with Cerebral Palsy and he is driven to personally address their challenges. 

Application is expected to be released 2nd quarter 2015.

To me, it is especially encouraging when we use technology to help the disabled live a fuller and more comfortable life.

Life is tough enough on people the way it is already, so if we can help make things better for those who are disadvantaged in any way, what a great, great thing to do! ;-)
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November 2, 2014

Exodus Hollywood Style 2014


Very excited about the new Exodus movie coming next month. 

Looks high budget action and with great special effects.

Hopefully, not a disappointment like Noah (2014 film)--I don't think it will be. 

Good wins over evil--well, we all know that already from the Bible!

According to the Passover Haggadah, we are supposed to retell every year, from generation to generation, our story of going from the cruel enslavement by evil dictators to the redemption by the merciful Almighty G-d.

It's timeless and our history!  ;-)

(Note: Movie name is Exodus G-ds and Kings, but there is only one G-d.)
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"Wicked" Contact Lists

So two interesting things I learned today about information and communications technology.

One, technology is better when it's chocolate. Pictured here are telephones, cell phones, and smart phones made of luscious chocolate. Only problem is that the technology is too beautiful to eat!

Two, kids these days are putting in some very creative names into their smartphones' contact lists to identify their parents. For example, one of my daughters friends who went out with us today told me about three names her friends are currently using for their mothers:

- Birth Giver

- Financial Aid

- Mental Case

Ah, while we have to appreciate creativity in our young ones, perhaps too much of anything is no good. 

Anyway, I'm glad that I'm still "Dad" on my girls' phones--or at least I think that what they are still calling me!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2014

Swarovski's Crystal Balls

This seemed like a cool shot in the Swarovski store.

Crystal balls hanging in a display case. 

Purples, pinks, greens, and more. 

Feels fanciful and otherworld-ish. 

These aren't the type you look in and see the future, unless you want to see more of the same crap we are in as a society today.

Well, hopefully, please G-d, things will be getting better soon.

And as long as these all don't start swinging...I won't need to puke!

P.S. After reading this one with a double entendre, my wife says I'm sort of a crazy guy...but funny!  

So what's wrong with having some fun and being a little provocative? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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More Information, Please.

This was a funny sign in a local medical facility. 

Printed: "Labcorp is no longer in this building."

Followed by in handwriting, "Then Where is it?"

Almost to the familiar reframe, "Well I dunno--do you? If not you--than who?"

These were plastered in multiple locations exactly like this. 

It's funny, we think we are giving people information--the stuff they need. 

But when it comes across to the other person, perhaps all we've done is left them with more questions than answers. 

In an age of information technology, business analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence...we still can't even seem to figure out the basics of managing information and communications with each other. 

Lots of products being heralded as the answer...including IBM's Watson, but aside from answering Jeopardy questions, the jury is still out on whether this can really evolve to true AI.

If it was just a technology issue, we may already be getting close, but the bigger piece of this puzzle is people really understanding the challenges they confront, and being able identify and work with the information to solve these. 

Then maybe we would finally have the answers or at least where it is! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 31, 2014

Draining Our Life Force

Here's a photo I snapped of one of the Fantastic Four (superheroes).

He's telling the evil Galactus, who drains planets of their life's energy, to "Stop!"

He yells at Galactus, "You have facilitated the Corporate Fascist Agenda long enough."

I think we all know a Galactus (or two)!

In every company and agency...there are individuals that seem to literally suck the creativity, problem solving, and life force from the bowels of the organization. 

They complain incessantly, make excuses for their lack of support and contribution, erect obstacles to progress, and needlessly put down other people's ideas and contributions.

These Galactuses facilitate their own or a corporate agenda in order to raise their stature, power, and purse.

They can be--almost G-d like figures in the organization that are feared and cowed to--but in the long term it's counterproductive to enslave humanity to them.

You can be like the Fantastic Four, who recognizes problem people and calls them out for bad behavior--you can be part of changing the culture from a BIG VILIAN negative to a SUPERHERO positive.

It starts, like in the comic--by identifying their personal agendas and bad behaviors and telling them to stop as well as by working with or around them to facilitate progress.

Galactus, you are finished! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 30, 2014

G-d, Nature and Technology



Hello out there in TV land!

@TotalCIO appreciating nature and G-d's gracious gifts.

Technology and innovation is a derivative of all the kindness and beauty G-d has bestowed on us!

Video clip, short and sweet. ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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War Of The Coffees

Funny shirt being sold at Dunkin' Donuts.

"Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks."

Now that's a Double D frontal attack on Starbucks. 

Let's see what Starbucks hits back with. 

Who would've thought coffee could be so bitter?  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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It's All In The Execution, Baby!

I took this photo on the left yesterday (while the one on the right is from a CD music set).

This lady was wearing this gorgeous shirt.

The words: "Hope, Progress, Change, Action. Yes we can Believe."

Aroud it were the tie-dye colors emanating like the sun,

It is very inspiring!

I was reminded of a similar 1960's slogan of "Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll."

Also good stuff and especially with the cool VW brightly painted minivan--who doesn't want that?

We all want great things from life.

The key is getting us from idea to execution.

Maybe not such a little thing, but that's what life is all about! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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