June 24, 2018

Longing For The Slow and Happy Bungalow Days

So I used to hear from my wife about when she was young and went to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains.

And today, I heard from a wonderful young Ukrainian woman whose family does the equivalent in the mountains there in the summer. 

When I listen to the stories, it sounds so good to get away with your family and friends for the summer to the countryside. 

Just live simply in a cabin, stay up late by the campfire singing songs, get up lazily in the morning, and during the day play sports, go fishing, and swim in the lake. 

I can't imagine talking 3 months a year and actually being able to do this...so natural, so carefree, so back to living!

Yes as kids, we went to camp, but it's not the same as living communally like this in such freedom and fun. 

Honestly, listening to the stories about this, left me amazingly jealous!

Perhaps, it's a lesson about life these days...we're adults, we're responsible, we have to earn a living and take care of the bills and all of life's responsibilities. 

But maybe, just maybe, there is something--a lot--to be said for letting loose a little, and just being with your loved ones, and living, really living again. 

Why do we have to wait until we're old...too old to work anymore...and maybe too old to appreciate life as life was meant to be.  

We can't run from our responsibilities but isn't it worth looking for ways in life to enjoy more than a long weekend or a week vacation.

Life is too short to let it get away from us. 

Balancing the contributions of our hard labor with the enjoyment of family, friends, and fun...those are the memories that last a lifetime and beyond. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 23, 2018

That Look On Their Face

So I love that look on people's face when I say something that just startles them or takes them back a little. 

The other day when I got a haircut, the barber lady was talking to me (BTW, she's a very nice person).

At one point, she says something about my hair being a little different on each side. 

So I blurt out something like:

"Well, that's because my brains are pushing it out!"

I got the funniest look from her...yes, it was priceless.

First, she's like right, of course, your brains are pushing out your hair!

Then, she looks at me, and I start smirking, and she gives me the big eyes and raised eyebrows, like a combination of that's funny and now don't be such a wise guy. 

Then, we both started laughing. 

I love that. 

I love doing that with people. 

Being alive. 

Getting a reaction. 

Making them wonder for a second. 

Getting them to smile and laugh. 

Maybe my brains are pushing my hair out!  ;-)

(Source Art: Sean M., 8th Grade Montgomery County and Photo by Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2018

Everyone Deserves A Day of Rest and Happiness

So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!

They don't want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that's the way it is. 

On top of it, they don't even get overtime for all the unbelievable hours they have to put in. 

One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off. 

Finally, finally, finally--the employer gave in--for just a single day!

The person was so happy--one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity. 

I was so happy for them!

Every person deserves at least one day off per week. 

Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.

There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this. 

People need a day to rejuvenate.

Everything is nature does.

Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself. 

There is a natural cycle to things--peaks and valleys--and we need to have some rest and relaxation--to work for something and not for nothing. 

The joy on this person to just have a day off--it was so incredible and touching. 

It spoke light years to me about treating people right--just--humanly--with compassion--and doing good over evil in this world.

What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?  

Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers. 

Care for people--they are people. 

Love people--they are G-d's beautiful children. 

Treat others as you would like to be treated. 

Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to--to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)  
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June 21, 2018

Square Trees




So I never saw square trees until I visited Palm Beach, Florida. 

What's the saying:
"It's hip to be square!"

I definitely had to take a doubletake when I saw these. 

Wherever we were going, I was gonna stop and get a photo of this. 

These trees are almost as if they are from another planet. 

What planet would have square trees? 

Hope you enjoy it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 20, 2018

The Anxiety Filter

What a brilliant picture of "Anxiety" by a child in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

Notice the great big letters--and all in caps--for what ANXIETY feels like. 

Anxiety is black--it's when we are in a dark foreboding place and we can't find our way out--it holds us back from doing what we need and like to do. 

Anxiety feels so all-enveloping and ginormous--it dwarfs us in the "I"--and we feel so small and are paralyzed, incapable of freeing ourselves from it. 

Anxiety is a cognitive and emotional bias where we see things in black and white--everything is to the extreme--and there are no greys; we tend to talk in all or nothing and our actions may mimic our extreme feelings. 

Around the anxiety, we are bordering in blood red--we are in a dangerous place--where our feelings of fear, inadequacy, and being incapable of overcoming it can lead us to do something desperate and final. 

When we are drowning in anxiety, it is like a lens or filter that clouds our vision and thinking, so we can make bad decisions, not make any decisions, or just procrastinate in order to avoid the issue and thing we are afraid of. 

We have to fight off the octopus grip of anxiety.

We have to find our courage within and from G-d.

We have to conquer our demons so we can meet our destiny head-on. 

We have a mission to fulfill in our life, and we can't let anything get in the way. 

Fate is waiting for us to make our important contribution, so then we can be gathered to our fathers and rest in final peace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 19, 2018

Terrible TV

So we bought a new big screen television. 

That's exciting, right?

We brought it home from Costco. 

And we gave our prior model away to a family member. 

It was a shlep to move that $2,000 Panasonic behemoth from 2007!

By the time we got back home and connected our new LG TV, oy vey what a disappointment. 

It had this brilliant display in "test mode" that when hooked up to the cable box looked dark and worse than lackluster. 

Even when fidgeting with the settings to offset the dark screen, the gorgeous test display mode still came out looking like crap in actual tv mode. 

But the worst part was that there was a black line down the middle right of the screen. 

When we looked it up on the Internet, it was a known error. 

The instructions said to call LG and make a service appointment. 

WTF!  To heck with this sh*tty TV--it's supposed to be brand new and actually work--so it's going back to Costco where this crappy product came from. 

I dragged this widescreen TV back to the store and put it on one of their flat wide carts. 

The problem was that the wheels on one side of the cart were busted, and it kept turning into the fence, store shelves, and wall.

When the lady behind the returns desk called me for my turn, I tried to push the cart and it wouldn't move. 

Not being able to budge this thing,  I gave it shove forward and the TV went flying from upright to horizontal--SMASH!

The lady behind the returns counter goes to me sarcastically:

"So what was wrong with it BEFORE you just knocked it over???"

Well to make a long story short, I returned the lousy LG television and got a refund. 

And instead ordered a new Samsung curved TV from Amazon--hope this one works!

As for the horrible quality control of today's electronics--it's a shame that they can't seem to make them without problems--they've only been making televisions for like 100 years or so. 

In fact, we recently bought a Dell laptop and within like 5-6 weeks, the motherboard died.  

As you can see, the vendors are wringing profits from the products they are making at the customer's expense. 

There is no quality control to speak of--instead be ready to return the junk electronics to the garbage vendors that make them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2018

It's Time to Stop The Terror Arsonists

See my new article in the Times of Israel.

"Please Don't Burn Israel Anymore"

From Incendiary kites to flaming balloons, the Palestinian terrorists of Hamas need to give up their hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, and embrace love for the land and peace with their neighbors. 

Hope you enjoy the article. 

Protect the Holy Land!

(Source Photo: Picsabay)
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June 17, 2018

Today is Father's Day

What a beautiful Father's Day card from my daughter. 

Also, the message she wrote to me inside was so thoughtful and mature. 

It is wonderful for me to see her grow up to be such a lovely young lady. 

The cover of the card:

"Father:
Neither an anchor to hold us back, 
nor a sail to take us there, 
but a guiding light whose
love shows us the way."


As parents, we certainly don't have all the answers either for ourselves or certainly for our children. 

And frankly, the kids don't want us to tell them what to do or how to do it. 

The best we can really do is to be there for them--to spend time with them, to support them, to show them we really care, and to provide perspective, balance, and faith. 

I used to love going to my parent's house even if just to lay on the couch and feel the comfort of being "home" and with them. 

I didn't have to think about what I did or said--I could just be me, and they loved me for that. 

Now, I want my home to be that for my kids. 

Even though they are adults now, they know we are always here for them in any way that they want or need us. 

Our home is always their home. 

Our love is always surrounding them. 

My father used to say, he would go through fire for his family, and I always knew he meant it. 

I could count on him for anything.

I miss him always, and especially today, Father's Day. 

But I can carry on his fatherhood to my children and try to be a good dad--there, and loving and giving--no bounds, no expectations, no judgment--just love, plain and simple. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 16, 2018

Shabbat Risk

I haven't played Risk in years. 

But my daughter and her husband came for Shabbat, and we sat down and had a great game. 

We distributed the countries. 

Placed our enemies. 

And went to battle, army to army. 

By the time it was over, my daughter had conquered Europe, Africa, and North and South Americas.

It was so good to see her taking country after country from my son-in-law and me. 

My son-in-law joked that he had underestimated her. 

We had a good laugh and nice time just sitting down at the kitchen table and playing a board game. 

Afterward, we went down to the pool and relaxed in the deck chairs and then my wife and I took off our shoes and walked in the grass in the garden. 

I laid down on the beautiful green lawn and looked up watching some planes jet over in the clear blue sky. 

It was absolutely beautiful weather and a marvelous day today with my family. 

In the morning we went to Synagogue and the sit-down kiddush with our friends.

I am grateful to G-d for all this and for the peace of the wonderful Shabbat! 

Also, what more can a man ask for Father's Day. ;-)
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June 15, 2018

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization's office. 

I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 
"What people are saying:
You are making a difference."

Later in the sign, it says:
"The work you do is important."
Isn't this really what is critical to people--that what they do is important. 

Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 

And sure, we'd like something left over to save for a rainy day. 

But our lives are more than materialism. 

We are spiritual beings inside. 

At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!

- That we are touching people's lives. 

- That we will be remembered for the good we did. 

- That our good deeds and words will live on. 

- That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 

- That we've contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 

- That we've shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 

When we make a difference, it's about so much more than what money can buy. 

It's about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 14, 2018

Missed The Shot But Someone Else Got It

So check out this sleek garbage for bottles and cans. 

Like many of these, it has a small opening hole at the top to convey that only bottles and cans (like it says on the side) should be put in for recycling--no garbage. 

When I was walking by quickly, I took the shot, attempting to throw in my bottle.

But it bounced off the rim and landed on the floor. 

Before I could even turn around to pick it up, I saw another gentleman behind me swoop in and pick up the garbage and put it in the can for me. 

I tell you that I was really quite amazed. 

He could have easily said, I missed the can and so I should just pick up my own trash off the floor and throw it out--that's only right!

Instead, it was in his mind nothing to do this random act of kindness and he picked up my trash. 

I know it sounds like a nothing burger, but to me, it represented just a real decency from another human being. 

Not standing on ceremony.

Not being too hoity-toity to pick up the garbage.

Rather just saw something that needed to get done and doing it. 

I tell you that as much as some people disappoint me with their arrogance and evilness, others are genuinely good people. 

This is what it's all about--the good people showing the bad people what kindness, generosity, and humanity is all about. 

To the evil f*ckers out there--who are arrogant, materialistic takers, haters, bullies, aggressors, and abusers--to h*ll with you!

To the good people--keep doing good and let the good win over the evil every single time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 13, 2018

Mao Tse Tung - China Leadership Watch


So this was absolutely amazing today. 

We had a meeting and someone brought in a bag of "prizes" as an icebreaker.

Low and behold, one of the items being given away was a this cool watch. 

At first, we thought it was Kim Jong-il (father of Kim Jong-un, North Korea's current leader). 

"Coincidentally," this just one day after the historic peace summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

Then later, we realized that this is Chairman Mao Tse Tung, the founding father of modern China. 

It is mind-boggling to me why anyone would give a watch like this away. 

I am curious if anyone knows what the inscription on the back is?  

Anyway, I think this watch is an amazing piece of history, especially from China's transformation to the world's largest Communist country.

I can only imagine what the history of this timepiece is and how it got here to NIST.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2018

Getting To Know You

So we recently took on a new function at work.

With that came a new group of employees.

Today, we had a wonderful breakfast as a meet and greet for everyone to get to know each other.

There was a tremendous spread of food laid out everything from bagels and smear, granola and yogurt, free fruit and vegetable salad, donut and muffins, and more.

There was enough food to feed a small army.

Aside from the group joining us, we had people come from other departments that support the process they are involved in--so folks from finance, legal, and even the front office.

The new lead assigned for the group that came over even gave out envelopes to thank their new team and 2 big boxes of gourmet coffee for them to share.

How nice this all was done and the investment that was made to bring the new team on board was really amazing to me.

I saw all the goodwill that was being built up from this event and the niceties put into it to recognize the people and make everyone comfortable together as a team.

I learned that an investment upfront like this in people and function can have tremendous benefits downstream in building a team and performing services that everyone can be proud of who is apart of this.

Invest not only in things, but also most importantly in people and relationships! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 11, 2018

Contrarian on Apple

As Apple approaches the unbelievable $1 trillion mark in market value, I am going the contrarian. 

Historically, I love Apple products--truly. 

But since Steve Jobs, Apple has done virtually nothing!

They are losing the battle for common sense priced products. 

They are losing the battle on innovation. 

Think for a second what has Apple come out with that is "WOW" in the last few years--either in terms of new product or design. 

Do you care anything about Siri?

Are you in love with their Apple Watch? 

Do you think much of their new iPhone X?

What about the computers--same old, same old?

I am still using the iPhone 7plus and have no intention to upgrade anytime soon. 

See the picture above, this is Apple's idea of innovation. 

It's the new Mac Pro -- virtually the same as their iMac Pro, as their store rep explained to me--except it's shaped like a tall and weird version of the Amazon Alexa personal assistant. 

BTW, you still need to attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. 

Are you impressed NOT? 

Apple as a brand used to mean the latest and greatest. 

Even now, I am still drawn to Apple products, just because I am conditioned to think of it as the best!

But is it still the best and is it worth the premium price?

Apple still has me as a customer and I am still a big fan of what they have done in the past.

But they better do something amazing again and now, because I think their stock is in for a mighty big and painful tumble if we don't see the old Apple again soon. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 10, 2018

Living Life Vicariously

So the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.  Go DC!

This little figurine made a debut on the counter of the concierge late last week for us to cheer them on!

You can ring the bell for help and while your waiting, get excited about the game. 

While these types of sports are not my thing per se, I do like watching a good Rocky movie or action flick where the good guys beat the sh*t out of the bad guys.

Whether you'watching your favorite sports team, your Hollywood dream stars, or even an occasional do (something) good politician, we are living vicariously through them. 

It's not our success we are seeing, but somehow we temporarily suspend our own selves and live through others (their eyes, their actions) and we partake just for a second of what it's like to be them winning or doing something really significant in life. 

We all can't be superstars in the center ring duking it out (all the time) and so we take a step back to see others that we relate to face up to the challenge, fight and hopefully win big. 

We don't walk away with the trophy, prize money, or fame, but we congratulate ourselves somehow for being on the winning team. 

Heck, I didn't do anything but have faith, go along for the ride, and then take pleasure in seeing my guy(s) win. 

Yet, from the humdrumness of perhaps some of our own everyday lives, we fantasize and garner the courage and strength to do our own great things. 

We can't be the strongest, smartest, most good-looking, personable, and talented in the world, but we can see parts of ourselves in others and we can try to model the best of them in ourselves and leverage what we got going on!

I don't really like spending a lot of precious time living like this through others--I don't mind getting inspiration when I see something amazing, but really I just want to try my hardest to be the best that I can be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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June 9, 2018

Dr. Insane and Meshuggenah Island

So I want you to know that there is a very thin line between fantasy and reality. 

There are those who want you to not only question reality, but also to accept alternative deceptions. 

They want to substitute fantasy and conspiracy and their version of "truth" for what is happening and real or intentionally phony. 

But (more) fake news and lies are not real news and truth. 

They ask questions, and they provide "answers."

But the answers are more often contrived to make you think they are a reality when they are brainwashing and mindf*cking you. 

They show you maps and pictures--it is nothing but entertainment to sow fear and for mass hysteria and distortion. 

Dr. Insane is running her own Meshuganah Island. 

You can easily get caught up in it. 

But I caution you that there is a thin, thin line between fantasy and reality. 

It's not a game.

The game and joke are on you. 

Misinformation, psychological operations throw you off track. 

Yes, there are secrets--there have to be. 

Not everything is for everyone to know at the moment.

But the world is not run on: I say, he says, she says. 

There is power. There are plans. There is execution. 

Randomness sometimes. 

Intent sometimes. 

Corruption all too often. 

You can't really know. 

Were we smart or just plain lucky?

Someday, the unknown becomes known, but not on rants and raves. 

Follow the data carefully and question it to make sure. 

In the end, the King of Kings is guiding everything and therefore there is no reason to fear. 

The world is going according to plan.

Fear leads to you wanting to gain control. 

Some people want to vent or to pretend they know something when they don't. 

There is no reason to conjecture and cross with Dr. Insane into Meshuganah Island.

Making things up makes things worse.

What we do have to do is to keep good winning over evil with truth. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 8, 2018

Helmet Head

So happy Friday funday. 

We work hard during the week, right.

Today in the office, we replaced some old metal clunker garbage cans with some new clean plastic ones. 

The old ones, every time you threw a bottle or anything hard out, it made a crazy loud banging noise disrupting everyone. 

I started to joke with my colleagues that the dirty, heavy old cans were more useful as a helmet in case of emergency evacuation of something. 

So today the old metal junk cans got a happy face helmet head and a prestigious place next to the office plants.

Everyone had a good hearty laugh!

Honestly, it's wonderful to be incredibly productive and accomplish a lot for the people, the mission, and all the stakeholders, and at the same time know how to have some fun and make people happy. 

Good for morale and good for teamwork!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 7, 2018

That's Some Pricey Garbage Art


So we stopped in this gallery in Palm Beach.

And there lay this piece of "art".

Well, I'm not sure--is this really art?

The proprietor explained that this is made up of scrap pieces of metal from the garbage dump like from old discarded automobiles. 

The artist welded the garbage together, painted it, and voila there it is--some very pricey art. 

Who pricey you ask.

Take a guess.

No really. 

No, you're too low. 

Try again. 

No, you're still too low.

Not even in the ballpark. 

Okay, I'll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely.

It starts with a 95.  

No, not $9,500.

No, not $95,000 either. 

That's right $950,000!!!

All this "art" can be yours if the price is right. 

Can anyone say "irrational exuberance" again? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2018

Radio-Activity

So earlier in the week, I had a great opportunity to visit the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). 

It was fascinating to see the reactor, control room, and all the cool experiments--not things you see every day, right? 

For safety, we had to wear devices that measured radioactivity and also go through machines that checked us afterward. 

When one person in our group went through the scanner, it went off with a red alert, and the poor individual obviously got really scared--like OMG is there some contamination on me or something.

But they went through again and it turned out it was just a false positive, thank G-d. 

I guess these really can be dangerous substances to work around, but still so marvelous how the scientists harness these neutron beams and direct them to all sort of fascinating scientific experiments. 

Being around all this science makes me think whether if I could do it all again--wondering aloud--whether I would pursue an education in one of these amazing scientific disciplines and work in the lab like a "mad scientist"--exploring and discovering new things and figuring out the mysteries of the universe and how the world really works. 

What a fun, fun field to work in!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Art by 4th grader, Phillip Kenney)
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June 5, 2018

Rich, Famous, and Suicide

So I can't believe that Kate Spade (55) committed suicide -- Hanging. 

What an amazing fashion designer--so much to live for!

Famous for her gorgeous handbags (that used to be the business my dad was in too). 

Her net worth was $150,000,000!

Why does someone so beautiful, successful, rich, and famous take their life???

Ultimately, none of these things make happy or meaning in life!

Still, it is incredibly hard to understand seemingly having so much and throwing your life away--unless of course, we consider terrible things like severe depression and other horrible illnesses that can break anyone. 

Yet, there seem to be so many of these hugely successful people that take or lose their lives so young and with still so much to give the world:

Alan Turing (41) -- Cyanide

Alexander McQueen (40) - Hanging 

Amy Winehouse (27) -- Alcohol 

Chris Benoit (40) -- Broken Neck

Christine Chubbuck (29) -- Shooting

Dana Plato (34) - Overdose

Ernest Hemingway (61) -- Shooting

Jerzy Kosinski (57) -- Overdose

Kurt Cobain (27) -- Shooting

L'Wren Scott (49) -- Hanging

Lucy Gordon (28) -- Hanging

Marilyn Monroe (36) -- Overdose

Michael Jackson (50) -- Overdose

Mike Alfonso (42) - Hanging

Prince (57) -- Overdose

Robbin Williams (63) --Hanging

Sawyer Sweeten (19) -- Shooting

Sylvia Plath (30) - Gas Oven 

Vincent Van Gogh (37) -- Shooting

Virginia Woolf (59) - Drowning 

Whitney Houston (48) -- Drowning 

G-d should have mercy and help to take away the pain and suffering from people so that they can live and not die prematurely anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 4, 2018

THE MIGHTY MERKAVA IV

What an amazing birthday gift from my beautiful kids. 

A model of the awesome Merkava IV battle tank from Israel. 

They know how much I love this tank which the brave soldiers of the IDF use to protect the Holy Land of Israel. 

As a son of Holocaust survivors, this gift left me so emotional and literally brought tears to my eyes. 

One of the real tributes of the Merkava is that unlike almost every other tank in the entire world which has its engine in the rear to protect it from enemy fire...

The Merkava IV has the engine in the front to protect the lives of the Israeli soldiers who man it. 

To the Jewish people, it's not the tank that is important in and of itself, but it is its ability to protect each and every sacred life behind it. 

That is the noble creed of the Israelite people--nothing is more valuable than human life. 

70-years after the founding of the State of Israel--established from the very ashes of the 6,000,000 murdered in the Holocaust--I am so proud to say that IDF, despite being under almost constant threat from enemies near and far, protects the people and country with the utmost bravery, human dignity, and as a true light unto the nations. 

They are true heroes! May G-d Almighty bless each and every defender who stands watch over the Holy Land, and may He speedily bring a true and lasting peace to us all. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 3, 2018

The Blessings and The Curses

L-rd, Bless your loving children. 

And do swift justice to the wicked that seek their destruction. 

Bless those that stand guard at your heavenly and earthly gates. 

Curse those evil ones that make a mockery of your lofty kingship. 

Bless the humble and faithful to you and your laws.

Curse those that stand in arrogance and spread hate and vileness before you. 

Bless those that bless you and seek to do good. 

Curse those that curse you and do harm to your creations. 

Bless the righteous people with all that is good. 

Curse the wicked and tear them asunder so that they are utterly destroyed. 

L-rd, please hear your lowly servant and bring the ultimate redemption to your people. 

And verily discomfort, smite and throw to the depths of punishment and exile the cursed wicked. 

None can stand before you in their shame and disgrace. 

Do it for your name's sake; do it for your children's sake, do it for your justice's sake, do it to make things right in your beautiful and perfect world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2018

Agile Doesn't Mean Endless

So Agile development is great for iteratively working closely with customers to develop and refine information systems that are useful to them and the organization.

But even in Agile, there is a beginning and an end to the sprint planning and project management.

Taking Agile to somehow mean endless in terms of adding more and more requirements or scope creep is not what is intended. 

Agile has to be bound by common sense somewhere between what is needed for a minimally viable product (MVP) and what is achievable with the designated resources, objective, and scope. 

Good project managers always have to be sound arbiters and be willing to ask the tough questions and determine if something is truly a requirement or simply a wish list item that is out of scope (but of course, could perhaps make it in for future enhancements).

We need to understand the difference between genuine customer service and irrational project exuberance. 

It's not a dangerous project bubble we want to create that can and will get busted, but rather a successful project that is delivered for our customers that help them do their jobs better, faster, and cheaper.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 1, 2018

Expect Less <> Appreciate More

I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.

"Expect Less, Appreciate More."

Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life. 

They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long. 

But reality sets in and they don't get everything they think they have coming to them.

Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in. 

However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in. 

People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have. 

The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail. 

We don't need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us. 

The U-shaped curve of life--where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years. 

Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us. 

And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 31, 2018

Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.

I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.

One of them does work in contraband detection.

The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.

I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.

I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.

He says, "A cage will fall from the ceiling" and I'll be in big trouble.

Uh, we all laugh a little.

He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.

Oh sh*t, it comes up in the "red"--positive for cocaine.

Someone else says jokingly, "A little leftover from the weekend?"

I joke back, "Na, It's from this morning before work!"

Ha, ha, I think. 

It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine

I'm wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.

The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.

Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 

It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are--they are so unique and of the best in the world.

I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it's contraband on money. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 30, 2018

Dumb Socks

So have you ever gone to the shoe store, but you forgot to wear socks. 

Well, this is what you get to try-on shoes.

These absolutely crappy, thin, brownish wades of disposable nylon socks. 

How completely unappealing--especially piled up like this and looking like they are getting reused again and again. 

The try-on socks look shitty, feel shitty, and don't help you try-on anything, because they aren't the same density or texture as regular socks. 

Talk about penny wise and dollar foolish--if the store won't even invest in a proper pair of socks for their customers, then how much do they value their business? 

How about an intelligent shoe store with a little class that actually has some real pairs of socks for their customers, and when you're done they send them out to the cleaners or maybe even let you keep the pair if you buy the shoes!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 29, 2018

The 3 P's Do NOT Matter

So I heard Joel Osteen give a great speech. 

He said that it's not any of these things that make a person worthwhile:

1. Possessions
2. Performance
3. Popularity

But rather, it is a person's inner self and soul that determine their value. 

Each person is a son or daughter of G-d.

I agree that our personal worth is a matter of how we act as human beings in choosing right over wrong and good over evil; and it is not based on how much we have, how successful we have become, or how much we are liked. 

In the end, a person must return to their maker alone to answer for their actions.  

You can't take anything with you.

Materialism and vanity all fade away and only your spiritual inner self will pass over and live on.  

So how will you spend your time and attention--chasing vanity of vanities or doing good in all your words and deeds? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 28, 2018

@Great Falls Park








(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 27, 2018

Crazy Sink

This crazy water faucet in Florida has no sink basin. 

Where does the water go?

Product design takes a new turn, but the water just dish-appears!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 26, 2018

Amazon's Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 

Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!

For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.

But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 

Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 

Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 

Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 

For a long time, they didn't even charge sales tax!

It seems people can't even imagine not having Amazon--where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don't even want. 

So here is the rub.

Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns--with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 

Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 

Amazon got us all as their slave customers--and we let them and love them for it. 

And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?

I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don't like that they've built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 

Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you...

Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  

Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.

In the end, that is a winning strategy that won't land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 

Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it's not product returns that you'll be for long worrying about. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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