October 21, 2014

Waiting For You To Succeed

I love this on the sidewalk this week. 

"The World is Waiting for you to SUCCEED!"

Encouraging, inspiring, motivational, hopeful, purposeful, future-oriented, and more. 

Too often we can focus on the negatives--how hard things are and can be; how many obstacles and challenges there are to getting somewhere; the many failures along the way; the bullies, naysayers, competition, and power-mongers who don't want us to succeed.

But think about it...

When we overcome all these (with G-d 's help), the world is waiting for our success--our contributions, our building blocks, our ideas, inputs, innovations, and creations.

When we succeed in advancing things (and not just doing for self), the world benefits!

We can have a purpose and meaning to our lives--we are part of something bigger and greater than ourselves and our mortality. 

Everyone has to do their part for the world to succeed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 20, 2014

The Grafitti Car

So you like your car with a little Graffiti?

Someone here did...it's covered bumper to bumper!

Wonder if this car also is one of those self-driving cars...so it's real special inside and out.

This car can be yours if the Price is Right...no that's a different show. 

Anyway, another day of more zany antics and styles coming to you from Washington, D.C. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Shining A Light On Your Privacy


Check out this special report...

~Half a billion~ downloads of the top 10 Flashlights Apps--the ones we all have on our smartphones--and guess what?

All/most are malware/spyware from China, India, and Russia that are spying on you!

Your contacts, banking information, even your location, is being intercepted by hackers abroad,

The cybersecurity experts Snoopwall (that conducted this study and are offering a free opensource "privacy flashlight") are recommending that you don't just uninstall these flashlight apps, because they leave behind trojans that still are functioning behind the scene and capturing your information. 

So instead doing a backup of key information and then a factory reset of the smartphone is advised.

Pain in the you know what, but these flashlight apps are shining a light and compromising your personal information.

Snopes points out that the flashlight apps may be no more vulnerable to spyware than other apps you download and that perhaps the screening process from the app stores help to protect us somewhat.

When the cyber hackers decide to exploit those apps that are vulnerable, whether for political, military, or financial gain, it will likely be ugly and that flashlight or other app you use may prove much more costly than the download to get them. ;-)

(Thank you Betty Monoker for sharing this.)
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October 19, 2014

Andy @ Apple Picking


Practicing my TV skills here...

And enjoying a good apple.

Just picked it at the farm. 

Nothing like being one with G-d, family, and nature. 

Nice time--thank you! ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2014

The Painter

I love this picture of this painter that I took in Florida. 

Each of the circles on the tree are part of his color palette. 

He is standing on a ladder leaning against the tree, and reaching for the red paint. 

It is so cool that the painter is part of the painting that he is making. 

The integration of the person with his creative work--he is one with it!

I can practically feel the love of this person for what they do.

And IMHO, they are very good at it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Welcome Ebola To America!

While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!

Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, "the world faces an 'unprecedented situation' for which there is no plan."


But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows...


What isn't helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes--get this--that "A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea."


While Kenny acknowledges "Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection" dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the "trade-offs" of quarantining the source countries--"because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks"--i.e. "People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest."


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would "completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world" even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights "will deter people from volunteering to work in the region"--here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed--although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don't quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola--uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!

Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, "We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there's no escaping an infection."


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people--there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us--what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection--not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 17, 2014

Closed And Closed

This is sort of hilarious.

Check out the signs on either side of the road.

- Right lane closed.

- Left lane closed.

Even more stupid, notice that the signs are reversed (the left closure sign is on the right side of the road and the right closure sign is on the left side of the road)...oops.

Thank G-d, there were three lanes--at least for a little while. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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Time, Our Most Precious Asset

Albert Einstein taught us how this world is governed by space and time. 

Before we are born and once we are gone, space and time no longer apply--we are in G-d's realm.

Time is so important and precious, that even space is constrained by time--i.e. we cannot be in two places at the same time.

When it comes to time, we can never have enough and this pervades every aspect of our lives.

Here is a short list of how we are bound by time:

What Time Is It?

What Time Are We...?
Do You Have Time?
Can You Spare Some Time?
Who's Got Time?
How Many Times?
How Much Time?
Do You Remember The Time That...?
Where Has The Time Gone?

Time Is Precious
This Time is Different
Only Time Will Tell
If Only There Was Time
Wish I Had More Time
Time is Too Short
It is Time
Time is Ticking
Time Flies
One Step At a Time
Maximize The Time You Have
Stop Wasting Time

Decision Time
Time To Change
Timeless
Timeline
Time Bound
Time Heals
Time is Money
In No Time
From The Beginning of Time
Once Upon A Time
There Was A Time
Now's Not The Time
A Long Time Ago
Time To Getaway
Awesome Time
Great Time
Good Times
Bad Times
Marvelous Time
Excellent Time
Meaningful Time
Hopeful Time
Horrible Time
Depressed Times
Manic Times
Next Time
Time of My Life
Makeup Time
Time Out
It's About Time
The First Time
This is The Last Time
There Is No Time Like The Present
Between The Time
About That Time
Same Time
Different Time
Parallel Time
Past Time
Make Time
Use Time
Spend Time
Save Time
Best Use of Your Time
Take Your Time
Short of Time
Losing Time
Taking Time
Stealing Time
Don't Have Time
Some Time
No Time
Anytime
All of the Time
Every Time
Numerous Times
Exact Time
All The Time
At The Same Time
For The Time Being
Keep Time
Out of Time
Long Time
Short Time
Right Time
Wrong Time
Before It's Time
Now is The Time
Past Time
Present Time
Future Time
Spacetime ContinuumTime Travel
(Not) Enough Time
Most of The Time
It's The Only Time
Need More Time
Time is of The Essence
Tell Time
Local Time
World Time
Time Zones
Timetable
Timekeeper
Timekeeping
Time and Attendance
Overtime
Comp Time
Part Time
Full Time
Old Times
Modern Times
Wartime
Peacetime
Summertime
Wintertime
Springtime (wonder why there is no falltime?)
Setup Time
Time is on Your Side
Time of Redemption
Time of Mashiach (Messiah)
Time to Forgive
Time to Avenge
Judgement Time
Time Unfolds
End of Times
Confusing Times
Work Time
Busy Time
Down Time
Quiet Time
Meal Time
Bed Time
Nap Time
Starting Time
Ending Time
Almost Time
Happy Times
Sad Times
Holiday Time
Hopeful Times
Solemn Times
Special Time
Important Times
Tough Times
Structured Time
Lawless Times
Time of Doubt
Time of Birth
Time of Death
Time to Work
Time to Retire
Time Alone
Time Apart
Time Together
Me Time
My Time
Our Time
Family Time
Play Time
Party Time
Happy Hour Time
Game Time
Show Time
Movie Time
Real Time
Dinner Time
Lunch Time (no real breakfast time!)
Private Time
Time Stamp
Time Magazine

Thank You For Your Time ;-)

With special appreciation To Rebecca Blumenthal for brainstorming this with me--it was a fun time! 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 16, 2014

A Jewelry Kiss

I really like these Hershey's chocolate...earrings!

No, they are not really made out of chocolate., but they are in the shape of chocolate kisses!

There are different colors based on the gemstones of the person's birth month. 

There are also similarly rings and necklaces in the shape of the Hershey Kisses.

What a nice way to tell someone you love them and give them a jeweled, if not chocolate, kiss. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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"The Chief"

So swimming in Florida last week, I couldn't help but think about my years back at Eagle Day Camp.

First as a camper, then counselor, and finally lifeguard at this fairly large Orthodox Jewish children's camp in Rockland County, New York. 

As a camper, I hated swimming and the smelly, musty, and overcrowded locker rooms.

When I was only about 6-7 already, I told my parents, I would only go to camp, if I didn't have to swim--after a lot of fuss, I got them to agree.

But years later, I learned to love swimming--the gorgeous outdoors, calming water, and health and therapeutic effects. 

I worked with "The Chief" (Norman Garfield, pictured at left) for many years...he was a radio talk show host and actor, and in camp played the starring role of Chief Taka Zeis, last of the Gutta Neshamah (Yiddish for Good Soul) Tribe.

He entertained the children like no one else could--with made up chants of "Tzitsamagoo!", his silly outfits (notice the unmatched socks in addition to the feather hat), and to songs like "Let the Sun Shine In," he was always someone that could be counted on to safely watch the children swim, teach them, and make them laugh. 

One Summer, The Chief, encouraged us (the other lifeguards) to sign up for the Red Cross Swim and Stay Fit program, and I think I swam 20-30 miles in between lifeguarding over about 6-8 weeks. 

Those were some fun times with The Chief and some of my old friends like Mark Stadtmauer, Elissa Rothman (Brodsky), and many others. 

Today, just a few months post hip surgery, I once again appreciate the swimming, and try to go as often as possible for health reasons. 

I am thankful for those years and for the ones granted now. ;-)

(Source Photo: Who The Heck Remembers)
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October 15, 2014

Super What

First, I thought this was an advertisement for a DJ (there is a DJ Arturo).

But then I looked this up on the Net. 

On Twitter: "Christian man living in DC and shining a bright light on a dark world. The mask protects me and the ones I love from retribution."

So not sure what this really is:

- Vigilante ("None Violence") Crime Fighter

- Superhero wannabe

- Whistleblower

- Hot Air Blower

- Nut job

Anyway, hope you are lawful and one of the good guys! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Want to Ride The Falafel Bus?

Falafel is a funny sounding food, but actually tastes pretty good. 

The best that I've ever had was in Tel Aviv with spicy falafel balls, hot french fries, and loads of creamy Tehina stuffed in the pita.

Only thing better is with juicy grilled schwarma, right off the rotating fire spit, and hot sauce, and for that try Max's in Silver Spring. 

One of my friends used to joke about the guy with an accent selling falafel, but who used to ring out (what sounded like), "Pizza and Palapel!" 

In terms of getting it from a curbside bus--only if it is hot and kosher. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 14, 2014

Not Exactly A Genie

Okay, we all like a genie in a bottle (with G-d's help) to grant us our wishes for the good. 

A colleague told me that if he had a genie in a bottle, his first wish would be to have infinite wishes; his second wish would be for all his wishes to come true; and his third wish would be that all the wishes would be free of ambiguity such that the intent would be fully clear--nice!

But this here is no genie...this is an umbrella in a bottle. 

Twist the top (handle) and pull it from the bottle (case) and whoola, an umbrella. 

Cute design, but when I tried to open the umbrella, it felt functionally, like a piece of garbage (IMHO). 

Oh genie, how about an umbrella that actually works and who cares if it's in a bottle or not. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 13, 2014

Purple Hair Day

This lady in line at Starbucks apparently likes purple, a lot. 

It seems a pretty common favorite among many women.

One that I know claims she ALWAYS wears something with purple.

When I saw her a couple of times seemingly without any purple clothing or accessories, I asked innocently, "So no purple today?"

She replied with a big grin, "Oh, it's there!"

Yikes, TMI--don't ask so many questions. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 12, 2014

Going With Happiness

We went to synagogue yesterday and the Sukkot celebration today at Chabad in Downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Such lovely warm and welcoming people--thank you Rabbi and Rebbetzin Schneur for your very gracious hospitality.

My wife and I both cried at the services and in getting in touch with our inner Torah spirituality.

Somehow, Chabad brings out the best in others, and they did it with us as well.

Here I stood next to the picture of the Rebbe and I looked into his eyes and was strengthened.

I remember many years ago, Dossy and I went to visit at Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights, New York and we received a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

He told my wife to always go with happiness ("B'sever panim yafot").

Today was a little fulfillment of that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dossy Blumenthal)

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For The Love Of Pizza

So I was at an eatery (not this one) in South Florida. 

I order a sandwich, and I must've been in a little mood.

The waiter says to me, "Do you want it with everything?"

And I smiled and said, "Yeah, especially the everything!"

Then when we were done eating, I get up to pay at the counter, and pull out my plastic. 

The cashier says to me, "We only take cash."

I smile again and now playing with her respond, "Well, I only pay plastic, now what do we do?"

I was only joking around as I pull out the few bucks of cash I happen to have in my pocket (note: I rarely even carry paper money in the age of technology).

As I left, I thought about the brief exchanges and sort of laughed to myself. 

It doesn't pay to take a hard and fast line with people...

Much better to be flexible like, "What would you like on your sandwich (we have X, Y, and Z)?" or "Cash or credit today Sir?"

Being all or nothing just provokes an occasional smart aleck to pay a little back. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 11, 2014

See It Change

This was a pretty cool effect at this hotel (The Sonesta) in Fort Lauderdale, where we stopped to cool off for a few minutes.

In the lobby, they have these wavy lines over the entire walls and doors where you come in. 

But what is even better is that the lines change color.

Here you can see three pictures of a door in the lobby.

One minute they are pink, next orange, and then yellow. 

The funny thing is I barely noticed it when I was there.

It is was such a subtle change.

Maybe that's the way to make change really take in your life--incrementally, rather than violently and abruptly.

Then instead of withdrawal and personal convulsions, you have a new and hopefully better you! ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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High-Tech Dance Shoes


These shoes are called Kangoo Jumps.

They provide the high-tech bounce for dancing, running, or other exercise.

This video is from their 2014 International Festival in Florida that I had the opportunity to watch.

Amazing what the participants were able to do and the fun they had.

I'd like a pair and to be able to kick up my heels like that too. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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Taking A Bow

Wow--this is some an awesome piece of art!

Aside from the beauty of it, what do I think about looking at this?

Something like this:

Some people take a bow in arrogance and self-aggrandizement, while others are bowed in humbleness and grace.

Those who see only their own greatness fail to see all those people, factors, and most importantly, G-d's mercy that enabled them to achieve what they have. 

We are but agents of the heavenly maker above who endows us with creativity and the ability to capitalize on it. 

We should be bowed in thankfulness to G-d, but unfortunately all too often instead stare in the mirror admiring our own image that we imagine is so talented and successful because of who we are and what we ourselves have done--that we can't even contain our bursting self-satisfaction in wonderful selves. 

Yes, it's good to recognize when we do something good and when we make mistakes so that we can learn from them, but G-d is not only our one-time maker, but he gives us the knowledge, skills, abilities, and good fortune to succeed in what he wills. 

I remember being taught in Jewish day school that not a leaf falls from a tree without G-d wishing it--that G-d is not only the creator, but is intimately involved every moment with us and the world.  

Like the most brilliant computer that can calculate gazillions of calculations a second, G-d can orchestrate the fates of all his creations in a just and masterful way that takes everything we do and don't do into account.

May it be G-d's will to endow us with what we need to succeed and for us to be deserving of it, and to recognize from where it all comes and not be so in awe of ourselves that we fail to see our innate limitations and mortality that is us. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 10, 2014

What Is The World Coming To?

This sign from a business on trendy Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale...for real.

Pay for the water you drink, the air you breath, and the doings you leave behind. 

Money makes the world go round, but what happened to love, friendship, and brotherhood. 

It only goes as far as the restroom apparently! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Selfie Heaven

So this lady found out how to take the best selfies.

She has an extendable stick with an adjustable ball head that attaches to her smartphone, and a separate remote control for snapping the photos.

Here she is with the camera snapping away.

I looked it up on Amazon and this device is only around $6.

For a completely ego-centric society without friends, why not get this doodad and you too can take selfish selfies all day long. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 9, 2014

Cat's Cradle Favorite


The guy took my request for Cat's In The Cradle.

An old Harry Chapin favorite of mine.

"The little boy blue and the man in the moon"--love it!

Thank you for playing this oldie but goodie. 

An "A" for effort--if not for authenticity. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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The Light Of Heaven

What a gorgeous sky is South Florida.

The wondrous sun shining through the beautiful clouds floating overhead.

May the light be a healing light and may the power of the L-rd above reign over us in mercy.

From ebola and other illnesses to a sick economy, gruesome terrorism, and general inaction all around, we need G-d more than ever to show us the way.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Mickey Isn't Smiling On Everyone

Orlando, as you know, is home to Disney's amusement park, one of the biggest employers in the area--70,000 people.

That's nice you say...only Bloomberg reports that Orlando has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation @ 20%--and that's not amusing!

Even though Disney just upped their minimum salaries to $10 an hour, they have thousands on the rolls (ride operators, bus drivers, maids, etc.) earning less than $25,000 a year (and that is similar to 40% of all the jobs in Orlando), and for that even Mickey Mouse couldn't buy any cheese.

Funny though that Disney costs a family of 5 about $1,500 for a 4-day pass, and they just earned a profit for the quarter of $2.2 billion.

Maybe next time you go to the fun house at Disney, you'll think for a moment that it's really a house of horror for tens of thousands of hardworking, decent people. 

Mickey Mouse is a louse and Donald Duck is a F-unny character, indeed.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 8, 2014

"Shitty" Advertising

Florida is a beautiful, but sometimes a strange place.

I stop in a restaurant to use the restroom.

Now, I know sometimes people put art inside to sort of spiffy the place up.

But in this (semi-fancy) restaurant's restroom, there was actually advertising--yes, right where you do your thing.

And in one spot, they had this sign from Insite Advertising, Inc. for the bathroom advertisements.

"...Thank you for allowing us to spend this time alone with you. We understand that during your hectic day quiet moments are few and far between..."

Well, this was one alone time that was definitely interrupted and a little less quiet.

Isn't there any place we can go anymore without being bombarded by branding, marketing, advertising, selling, and companies trying to make a another quick buck.

Darn, leave us alone and give us our bathrooms back--I'm not buying from you at a time like this! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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The All American Shoe

Ok, so this is a very cool shoe.

I'm in Ft. Lauderdale, and I came across this shoe.

No straps, no buckles, no bows, no ties, no tassels, no sparkles.

Just this woven American flag--prominent and proud. 

Thought this was pretty cool. 

Maybe there is a time for pretty shoes on the runway, and boots on the ground to defend our nation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 7, 2014

The Games Organizations Play

So HP, under Meg Whitman, is breaking up into a PC/printing company and an enterprise products and services firm.

Um...well of course it’s the right thing to do to focus each and release the great value of these two companies.

Only, just a few years ago, under Carly Fiorina, HP a printer and enterprise products company combined with Compaq, a PC company, in order to gain the size and clout to succeed in the ever-competitive technology marketplace.

The B.S. of corporate America—everything and the opposite--to try and do something, almost anything, to try and raise the share prices of those strategically stalled companies.

From Meg Whitman, CEO of HP:

- October 2011--“Together we are stronger!”

- Then today, 3 years later--“Being nimble is the only path to winning.”

Yeah, whatever.

Merge, split—wash, rinse, repeat…fool the fools.

HP is still HP—especially compared to Apple, Amazon, Google, and even now Lenovo. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Angie Harms)

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October 6, 2014

Lock Or Peephole

So is that keyhole in privacy for a lock and key or as an exhibitionistic peephole?

The New York Times had an excellent article on this yesteday, called "We Want Privacy, but Can't Stop Sharing."

We are compelled to share online to demonstrate that we are:

- Important
- Interesting
- Credible
- Competent
- Thoughtful
- Trustworthy

The problem is when you inappropriately overshare online, you may leave youself little to properly disclose in building real-world intimate relationships in a normal give and take of "opening and closing boundaries."

Moreover, being like a lab rat or in a house of glass walls for all to watch indiscriminantly can leave us with feelings of "low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety."

Being under observation--even when it is voluntary--implies being open to judgement and this can drain us of our ability to be ourselves, creative, and take calculated risks.

We don't want to become too busy brushing our hair back and smiling for the camera and making everything (artificially) look like made for reality TV (e.g. Kardashian) perfection. 

The key to privacy is to disclose what needs to be shared, put a lock on what's personal, and not arbitrarily leave the peephole eyes wide open. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to g4ll4is)
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October 5, 2014

Got To Be A Caveman

So this was an awesome caveman experience.

We had seen a sign a number of weeks ago from the highway for Crystal Grottoes Caverns.

Today, we decided to try it out, and made the trip to Boonsboro!

I wasn't expecting much, since I had heard a lot about Luray Caverns in Virginia, but never anything about this one in Maryland. 

Well we were really pleasantly surprised.

Half an hour tour underground through a literal maze of caves filled with the densest formation of stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) and stalagmites (springing from the floor). 

These things grow only like a centimeter every 150 years, so when we saw literally countless that were meters long, we were really looking at thousands of years history. 

Incredibly, these beautiful mineral rock formations come into being from water seeping through the limestone a drop at a time, and we saw rocks sparkling with crystals, and in shapes ranging from hands to turtles and much more. 

The guide even showed us a special place (almost like a chamber) where a number of couples had gotten married down there...sort of an appropriate place to tie the knot ever so tight in those caves. 

It was also nice that we had our own tour guide for this thing, and that made this all the more interesting to ask questions and really get to see everything. 

At one point, the guide suddenly shut the electricity in the caves, and we were left in complete and utter darkness...it was so surreal and sort of scary, but peaceful to be in a complete void. 

The guide explained that if you were down in the blackness for 6 or 7 months, you would actually go blind from not using your eyes whatsoever. 

Overall, it's sort of a oxymoron, but we just felt so alive down there...breathing this super pure and clean oxygen (no real carbon dioxide down there, because basically nothing grows there) and the cave is this marvelous perfect 54 degrees all year round.

The owner is third generation and you can tell that he truly loves owning this precious jewel of a cavern, and he meticulously cares for it and continues to expand and improve the spectacle. 

However, from a business perspective, I definitely don't think he has took advantage or capitalized on this priceless property.

There were basically no concessions (except that you could buy some samples of the rock from a single display case under the front counter), and there was no cross-selling of t-shirts, pins, posters, hay rides, animal petting, hiking, boating, or food stands!

We took some (as in like 20) brochures from the owner on the way out to give out at Rebecca's school (especially, since she is taking Environmental Science this year), but this guy otherwise doesn't seem to even advertise. 

This place was a hidden underground gem...50 feet down underground, but no Starbucks. ;-)
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October 3, 2014

Data Like Clouds

So data is like clouds...

Clouds want to be free roaming the wild blue skies similar to how data wants to be searchable, accessible, useful, and so on. 

But with data, like clouds, when it rains it pours--and when data blows about with the windstorm and is compromised in terms of security or privacy, then we not only come away wet but very uncomfortable and unhappy. 

Then, as we actually end up putting our data in the great computing clouds of the likes of Amazon, iCloud, HP, and more, the data is just within arm's reach of the nearest smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. 

But just as we aspire to reach to the clouds--and get to our data--other less scrupled (cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation states)--seek to grab some of those oh so soft, white cloud data too.

While you may want to lock your data cloud in a highly secure double vault, unfortunately, you won't be able to still get to it quickly and easily...it's a trade-off between security and accessibility. 

And leaving the doors wide open doesn't work either, because then no one even needs an (encryption) key to get in. 

So that's our dilemma--open data, but secured storage--white, soft, beautiful clouds wisping overhead, but not raining data on our organizational and personal parades. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 2, 2014

Face Down

Rounding the corner, it was interesting to see this guy lying face down in the pavement.

Heart attack, stroke, mugged, shot...lying in a pile of garbage-looking stuff.

Other people walking right past him holding their cups of coffee...not even paying attention to him.

Turned out he's working, and there is an open manhole and he's practically head first. 

Anyone down there?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Devil's Beer

This was an interesting delivery truck in Washington D.C.

Anyway, I didn't know that the devil drinks beer.

I wouldn't want to see what happens when he gets tipsy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 1, 2014

Pants Down

My question of the day, and I know it's the fashion and a lot of people do it, but why do they want to wear their pants this far down?

Maybe, I am just getting old and not so cool (anymore), but this looks mighty uncomfortable to me. 

Also, how do those things not just fall completely off?  

All the more power to them. ;-)
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Reflections On Our Journey



As we approach the holy Yom Kippur, the annual day of Judgement following the Jewish New Year, we realize how everything is in G-d's hands...

But we can repent, pray, and do good deeds to influence our journey and Hashem's decree. 

Thank you Bettty Monoker for sharing this wonderful, thought-provoking video at this reverent time of year. 
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This Is Our World

This is some of the unbelievable crazy news just from today--check this out:

- Russia accuses U.S. that the rallies of masses of people seeking freedom and human rights in Hong Kong and Ukraine are really CIA plots.

- Ebola enters the U.S. ten days ago by a man who arrived from known, striken Liberia.

- "The Earth lost half of its wildlife in the past four decades."

- Oklahoma man, who recently tried to convert colleagues, beheads one of them at work. 

- Man who is armed felon (with "three felony convictions for assault and battery") gets within feet of and potentially endangers President on elevator within days of another man with a knife, who climbs fence, enters White House and skips about and into the East Room.

- Report that if just a "100-meter wide asteroid hit Washington, D.C....'it could wipe out everything within the Beltway.'"

So in case you didn't have enough to worry about ..this is our world and what we are doing to it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 30, 2014

Ebola Has Arrived

The Washington Post ran an article on August 1, "Why You Are Not Going To Get Ebola In The U.S."

As of about 10 minutes ago, they are now reporting, "As Ebola Confirmed In U.S. , CDC vows, 'We're Stopping It In Its Tracks.'"

What do you think we'll see in the news about Ebola within the next 6 months or year--completely eradicated, mostly contained, spreading slowly, or G-d forbid a global pandemic? 

G-d should help us to conquer this disease quickly and completely. 

(Source Photo: here with Attribution to European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)
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Speaking Truth To Power



Excellent video!
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September 29, 2014

Talk To The Hand

So you know the saying "Talk to the hand, because the face ain't home..."?

Well IPSoft has an artificial intelligence agent called Amelia that handles service requests. 

Instead of talking to a human customer service rep, you get to talk to a computer. 

The question is whether Amelia is like talking to a hand or is someone really home when using IA to adroitly address your service issues?

Now apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal, this computer is pretty smart and can ingest every single manual and prior service request and learn how to answer a myriad of questions from people. 

On one hand, maybe you'll get better technical knowledge and more consistent responses by talking to a computerized service representative.

But on the other hand, if the interactive voice response systems with the dead end menus of call options, endless maze of "If you want to reach X, press Y now" along with all the disconnects after being on for 10 minutes already are any indication of what this, I am leery to say the least. 

The Telegraph does says that Amelia can service customers in 20 languages and after 2 months, can resolve 64% of "the most common queries" independently, so this is hopeful and maybe even inspiring of what is to come. 

These days, based on how much time we spend online in the virtual world, I think most people would actually prefer to talk to a knowledgeable computer than a smart alec human who doesn't want to be handling annoying customer calls all day, anyway. 

The key to whether Amelia and her computerized brothers and sisters of the future will be successful is not only how quickly they can find the correct answer to a problem, but also how well they can understand and address new issues that haven't necessarily come up the same way before, and how they handle the emotions of the customer on the line who wishes they didn't have the problem needing this call to begin with. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Vernon Chen)
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September 28, 2014

Asleep During The Speech

Short story...so this nice gentleman came from the house of worship to visit my dad in assisted living over the holidays.

The man talked about the speeches the clergy gave and how he only understood the basics, and the rest was sort of over his head (hey, I can definitely relate to that too...we all can). 

Perhaps, this points to how important it is to talk to the people (and not over the people)--making it relevant and stirring--although it's probably not easy to give a speech that resonates well with everyone. 

Anyway, there are good speeches, and then let's face it, there are speeches that could be better. 

Afterward, my dad and this man joked about how they've seen some people actually fall asleep during the clergy's speech...yes, this is obviously not very respectful, but sometimes people just doze off perhaps because it's hot inside with all the people, and they work so hard during the week that they just are relaxed and off they go.

My dad goes on to tell this joke:

The clergyman is giving a speech from the pulpit.

All of a sudden he notices this guy sleeping in one of the pews.

The clergy says to the man's neighbor sitting next to him, "Can you please wake him up?"

The worshipper responds, "You put him to sleep, you wake him up."

Then my dad let out a really nice, healthy laugh...it was good to hear (the other guy was laughing with him). 

On a side note, my dad said something else funny and insightful today:

"It's not easy getting old...it takes many years!" 

Amen to that.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 27, 2014

Mars On A Dime

So no one can seem to believe that India made it into orbit around Mars for just $74M.  

According to the Wall Street Journal that compares with $671M that it cost NASA (which arrived just 3 days earlier than India's) and the European Space Agency's mission that cost $386M in 2003,

But aside from the Indian's being able to achieve a Mars mission at a tenth the cost of what we did, BBC reported that they also did it $26M cheaper than even the cost of the science fiction movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock about the International Space Station. 

While we clearly go the extra mile and are able to do great things--why does it always cost us so much to get there?

Perhaps, you can say that we are somehow more diligent or careful in our work (i.e. putting a premium on safety) or that it's just the higher cost of labor in this country or that we are early innovators and incur the costs of research and development that others than leverage. 

However, even though we are considered a very wealthy nation, it is fair to ask whether we are managing our wealth with discretion and an eye to the future or do we just take it for granted and are wasteful with it?

With a $3.9 trillion federal government budget (note, this is a full 21% of the entire U.S. economy/GDP), we are talking about some serious money, and we should be getting the most for it.

Unfortunately, the gravy train extends from certain "Beltway Bandit" contractors--e.g. remember the $640 toilet seats, $7,600 coffee makers, and $436 hammers uncovered by the Project on Government Oversight--and apparently all the way to mission Mars. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah iPhone Greeting Card

I had to share this wonderful Rosh Hashanah greeting.

This was developed using Apple's iPhone icons.

It is one great technology way to usher in the Jewish New Year of 5775.

Please G-d, let it be a wonderful year full of blessings! ;-)

(Source Photo: Sarah Herbsman from Pamela)
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Flower Car

I like this flower car in Washington, D.C.

Different, happy, sort of stylish...

Well it's not sunny Miami, but at least it's interesting here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Dexterous Drones


Ok, after the da Vinci System that uses robotics to conduct surgeries this many not seem like such a feat, but think again.

While da Vinci is fully controlled by the surgeon, this Drone from Drexel University that can turn valves, or door knobs and other controls, is on the road to doing this autonomously. 

Think of robots that can manipulate the environment around them not on a stationary assembly line or doing repetitive tasks, but actually interacting real-time to open/close, turn things on/off, adjust control settings, pick things up/move them, eventually even sit at a computer or with other people--like you or I--and interface with them. 

Drones and robots will be doing a lot more than surveillance and assembly line work--with artifical intelligence and machine learning, they will be doing what we do--or close enough. ;-)
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September 23, 2014

What Are You Looking At

So what does this fashion statement mean?

- I have eyes in the back of my head.

- I'm too cool for my sunglasses.

- I dare you to try and snatch these new designer shades.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2014

For Everyone That Loves Reading

I thought this was a great picture for everyone that loves reading.

Whether you read from traditional paper books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, or you prefer reading from a tablet, smartphone, eReader, or browser. 

Reading expands our mind, challenges our thinking, and builds on our knowledge. 

Here's to reading...just about everything you can get your hands on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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