May 22, 2015

Can You Just Stop And Think?

So oddly, one thing that many people these days find really hard to do is STOP AND THINK.

What do I mean?

Be alone, do nothing, and just take the time to be with yourself and think.

--without your smartphone, television, music, game, or even a book. 

Just you, the four walls, and your brain...thinking, thinking, thinking.

Feeling a little jittery, scared yet. 

Why are people afraid to stop and think? 

Is it because within the thinking is some craziness, fear, anxiety, and even remorse?

Are there overwhelming feelings and thoughts about issues, events, people, and places that are unresolved and painful. 

Also, by ourselves and in our thoughts, we can realize how weak, vulnerable, and mortal we are. 

If we are here in our own heads, maybe no one will even notice we are gone or maybe no one will even miss us--maybe they'll replace us?

We're so easily ditched, replaceable, just another character in a long cast of characters.

When we stop and think, do we worry about all the other things we're not doing or getting done...perhaps, we don't have the time to think, because we need to be doing, doing, doing. 

And if we're not moving forward doing something, then we are being left behind!

But doesn't thinking lead to more purposeful doing?

A little upfront thinking and planning, maybe can save you some serious time wasted just acting out. 

Somehow, like a prisoner in isolation though too much alone time with your own thoughts is enough to drive anyone crazy, docile, and ready to behave just to get out, interact with other human beings, and doing something.

We need to stay active, not be bored, so we don't think too much.

When I was in the hospital recently, one orderly named Kelvin, saw me sitting there by myself thinking, and he said to me, "Oh no, you don't want to have too much time to think. Block those thoughts out of your mind. Why don't you watch some TV?"  

Smart Kelvin. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 20, 2015

Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee

This was a photo outside the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

These men in the HAZMAT-looking outfits may have absolutely nothing to do with NRC, but they sure did look the part.


Almost like playing dress-up as kids, but when adults do it--it can definitely look like a lot more forboding. 


Another day in the life of the D.C. Capital Region, but also making me think of Grease--Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee.  


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 19, 2015

The Flaming Bus

I took this photo today in Washington, D.C.

This cool bus is painted with flames on the hood and has a guitar at the top. 

No, it's not the bus from The Partridge Family although it has similar colors!

On this bus, the guitar has the name "Sailing Conductors Jack Mantis" on it. 

When I looked this up online, I found that these are some "music loving dudes" who travel (sail and bus) the world and record musicians across dozen of countries and 5 continents. 

They have music, videos, and a 4-part TV series from their global talent search--although there is only limited material at their site (so not sure where all the recordings from the "hundreds of local musicians" is available for consumption).

Anyway, this is a fascinating experiment in discovering diversity, music and the arts, and culture along their travels. 

As to the specific music--beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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New Body Parts

As I gear up for Hip Replacement #2, my sister sent this funny comic to me. 

I heard that something like a million joint replacements are now done in the U.S. every year. 

And these procedures are expected to increase precipitously with projections by 2030 of:

- 3.48 million knee replacements (a factor of almost 7 times)

- 572,000 hip replacements (an almost 2-fold increase)

This also means that revision surgeries will start to rise rapidly as replacements wear out or are in need of replacement themselves. 

Thank G-d that they have these procedures to help people--I don't know how people lived with the incessant pain and degenerative mobility even a generation ago. 

What's it like to have a body part inserted to augment your own?

Just ask this horse! ;-)
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May 17, 2015

Snatched From The Jaws Of A LARGE Shark

So this was a funny photo we took in Ft. Lauderdale. 

Right in the jaws of a very large shark...

Must've been a little what it felt like to be Jonah swallowed up by the big whale.

"Hey let me outta here...please!"

This whole thing reminded me of something I heard from a colleague.

At one time, he had said cautioningly, "You better dip your toe in the water, because there may very well be sharks in there."

In other words, watch out from some {unscrupulous and dangerous} people--they have their own motives, hidden agendas, sources of power, and they may be VERY intense on getting what they want, so be careful--don't get in their way (at least not directly). 

Hey, can't you almost see the large, strong jaws--snapping, snapping, snapping. 

And the very important lesson here is that if you dare dip more than your toe in the shark-infested waters, rest assured that you can lose a lot more than a foot. 

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)
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May 16, 2015

Lady You Bring Me Up When I'm Down

I'm been wanting to post this gallery photo for a while now. 

I think this is a great expression of the beauty that some women possess. 

The hair, eyes, lips, shape of the face...G-d is a terrific creator!

This makes me think of the song by the Commodores, Lady You Bring Me Up When I Am Down.

BTW, my wife is even more gorgeous (true)! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 15, 2015

The Back To The Future Car

OMG, so cool...the Back To The Future car.

It's the DeLorean sports car on display by Smithsonian Magazine in Washington, D.C.

I love the winged doors that go up, the cool muscle body, and of course being able to time travel. 

The past--I'd like to stroll through the Garden of Eden, witness the splitting of the Red Sea and the giving of Ten Commandments, see Samson bring down the pillars on the Philistines, meet King David and worship at the Holy temple, shake hands with Ben-Gurion, and talk with and hug my parents and grandparents again.

For the future...its got to include space travel to other worlds, the eradication of disease and hunger (and by the way the national debt too), and the coolest technology to do everything. ;-)

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 14, 2015

Blame The SLOW Trains

So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 

Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 

All over the news, we see that the train was speeding by going just over 100 mph.

Yes, it was a curve, and maybe we need to build some straighter more stable lines (I believe that is partly what eminent domain used properly is for) and with the latest safety features. 

But does anyone ask how can other countries safely implement their trains at far faster speeds--that makes 106 mph look virtually like a mere snails pace in comparison.

Just last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the U.S. potentially upgrading to bullet trains that rountinely and safely go at far higher speeds:

Japan: 375 mph!

France: 199 mph.

China: 186 mph.

U.S.: 149 mph (even the Acela train has the potential to do at least this much, but for the most part they don't due to shared lines with commuter and freight trains and an aging infrastructure--uh, so where did all that money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go exactly?)

In what now seems retrospectively almost mocking, Japan Railways, International Division Chief stated: "We have a track record of transporting a huge volume of passenger traffic with very few delays or accidents...Because the trains operate so accurately, travel can be made very efficiently [and safetly]." 

Do you think we the U.S. can catch up with our 21st century peers here?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toshy Island Paddy)
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May 13, 2015

How Many Issues Do You Have?

I saw someone with this funny iPhone case in Starbucks.

It says, "More Issues Than Vogue."

So I was curious how many issues of Vogue have there been...

And I learned that they have published this fashion, beauty, and culture magazine since 1892--more than 120 years!

And in the Vogue archive, they claim to have "more than 400,000 pages in full color."

I suppose even some of the biggest nuts out there rarely have more "issues" (and pages)...although maybe many would certainly come close. 

But Vogue wins! ;-)
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May 12, 2015

Yeah, A Pat On The Back

Ah, this doodle says it all...

Some people deserve a pat on the back--truly great job, went the extra mile, great collaboration, communication, and results. 

Others deserve A PAT ON THE BACK (or a good kick in the behind)--nasty, dirty, selfish, do little, take a lot, backstabbers.

I only know people in the first category. ;-)

(Source Doodle: Linkedin)
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May 11, 2015

A Doll For Every Worry


Some kids put their baby teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.

But in Guatemala they make Worry Dolls that children can put under their pillows, so they can be released from their worries and sleep better. 

If those were my worry dolls, I wouldn't put them under my pillow and have a lumpy sleep and wake up to them once again, but rather I would throw them out the window, so hopefully they would be gone for good. 

Man, if only we could really get rid of our worries and problems that easily--I think they call it transference! ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 10, 2015

Mom Through The Years

My Nephew Naphtali Herbsman posted this on Facebook today and I love it!  

I miss my mom (A"H) and dad (A"H) and wish they were both still here in good health with us. 

But I know they are in heaven watching over us, guiding us, and still showering us with their love.
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@Manna Food Center

Today we volunteered at Manna Food Center.

"Fighting hunger and feeding hope in Montgomery County."

There were huge bins of food that had been donated and collected from various organizations and charitable people.

A group of us from the synagogue, Magen David, met at the center.

We checked the dates on each item to ensure the food was not expired and still good to eat. 

We sorted the food by type into different boxes, crates, and shelves. 

There was areas for cans, pastas, cereals, pantry items, and more. 

The area that had the most stuff when we were done sorting...you guessed it--the junk food like cookies and chocolate--sort of unfortunate, but probably a comment on our times for what people actually buy and eat (despite all the calls for healthier eating and living).

There was one area specifically where we placed food for kids who don't have enough food for the weekends (when they don't have the school lunch program etc.), and they come on Fridays and fill their backpacks with milk boxes, crackers, and other things they can easily take home with them.

This really made me think about the dire straits that some families are in and especially the impact on the children.

G-d, no one should go hungry, and it was nice to see that people donate and volunteer to help, but still why in such a rich country like ours is there still so much hunger and need? ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2015

From Vintage to Modern Threats

video
Just wanted to share this short video captured of vintage fighter planes flying over the Washington Monument in D.C. on Friday, May 8.

This was in commemoration of 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. 

My father (A'H) used to tell me about when he was in England during the war and the Nazi bombers would fly over and carpet bomb them in a blitzkrieg.

This happened night after night, and so adaptive as people are, they sort of got used to the bombardment, if that is possible to say. 

After a while, instead of taking safety behind closed doors at home, people returned to go to the movies and dancing at night, even while the buildings next door were still being blown up--to the right and the left of them. 

In the morning, those who survived would get up, and see what was knocked down and what still standing. 

Hard to imagine living that way!

Now with new more destructive weapons (WMD, ICBMs, EMPs, etc.), we can only imagine that the destructive aftermath of WW II would be nothing in comparison to what a round III would be like.

It is crucial that we maintain our innovativeness and military superiority and not only offensively to defeat the enemy, but defensively so that we can stop whatever is coming at us whether a dirty bomb in suitcase, an ebola-type virus in an infected person or food, a drone carrying anthrax, or malware over the network.

We have come a long way in the last 70 years technologically, but the risk and stakes have also never been higher. ;-)

(Source Video: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 8, 2015

Wine Bottle Extraordinaire

I took this photo of one of the amazing wine bottles at an event last evening at Magen David Synagogue. 

Apparently, a very talented lady in there makes these special bottles. 

Unfortunately with the lighting, this picture does not near do them justice for how exquisite they looked. 

They were in different colors of lacing, with beautiful beads, hamsas, and other decorations, as well as pictures of our honored sages, and their names in hebrew over the photos. 

I asked facetiously one lady who was taking home a bottle whether she was going to drink it all that evening, and she pulled the bottle close to her and leaning in to me said, "This is going in my display case!"

And that truly is where these belong...they are amazing.

The wonderful lady that painstakingly makes these gave how many of them charitably so they could be auctioned for benefit of the synagogue. 

Aside from a wonderful soul, this person is very talented and should seriously start a business with these because they are awesome! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Someone I Know And Didn't Know

So this is a true story...

I am on the crowded metro coming home from the office, sitting facing backward and toward the middle of the car. 

There is some noise and rustling coming up from behind me, and I see people's heads turning and startled looks on their faces. 

I turn around to see what is going on...

Someone in a wheelchair is screaming to get off the train. 

However, he is caught about halfway in between the closing metro doors, and can't get back in or out and off the train. 

There is one guy who was apparently standing by the doors, and he is trying to get the door open, but can't budge it.

Everyone else on this busy train seems just frozen, almost as if time had stopped (really). 

But the double train doors are wedged into the larger and smaller wheels (for hand turning) on the side of the wheelchair. 

The person in the chair is still calling out for help and to be released from the clasp of these heavy doors around him--in his seated position, his lower torso from his thighs down are positioned outside the train, but his upper body is still on the train. 

The conductor is trying to move the train again and again...and it's not apparent whether the failsafe mechanism for the open door will work as the train is lurching forward and the doors are sort of vibrating in this quick open/close fashion. 

Then, I see someone spontaneously jump out of their seat.

They are racing to the wheelchair jammed in the doors.

I see them first try and push open on the left side...but it's still not budging.

Then, they try and pull the other, right side, open towards them...but it's to no avail as the forceful doors are wedged in on around the chair. 

With everything around them a blur of seats and faces, the person turns their head looking around for another way...

They see like a target standing out in the distance, an emergency intercom on the front wall of the train.

The person lunges toward it and hits the round button.

The conductor who is still fidgeting with the doors to get them closed and trying to move the train ever forward comes hastily on the speaker, but apparently not connecting the call to him with what's going on with the doors and wheelchair says "Yeah, what's the emergency?"

The person catching himself, musters the words to say into the comm device, "There is a wheelchair stuck in the train doors-- OPEN THE DOORS!"

The conductor immediately reacts and the doors pull apart from both sides, and the wheelchair almost falls forward, the disabled person sort of thrown from the train, but finally on the platform, and wheeling themselves as quickly as they can towards the elevator to get away from this whole situation. 

With nothing left to do, the person who helped, let's out a deep breath and is visibly shaken, but also glad to see the person in the wheelchair safe and on their way. 

As he is walking back to his seat, he realizes there are a lot of eyes on him that were just a blur before. 

At the same time, over the speaker system comes the relieved voice of the conductor with a simple "Thank you."

I see the person sit down, calling his wife to tell her what happened, he starts to silently cry. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 7, 2015

Parenting@CVS

This photo was taken in CVS.

The baby looks like it's trying to escape from the red shopping basket, but presumably the mother at the cashier is going...

"And I'll take one baby with the bottle of milk and Chiclets, thank you!"  

Hey look at all that candy kid...this is better than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2015

A Political Teddy Bear

Thought this was an awesome photograph.

Taken on the Washington, D.C. Mall...

You can see the Capitol of the United States in the background.

The gate is surrounding the construction being done.

On the fence is a Teddy Bear--representing so many of our national challenges--sort of just hanging there helpless.

This political bear looks like he's clutching for dear life, but unfortunately he is left hung out to dry as we just keep chugging away...but where is the real progress? 

- ISIS and radical Islam is still growing stronger.

- Iran continues building toward a nuclear WMD.

- China and Russia are "becoming [ever more] aggressive as they perceive U.S. pulling back."

- North Korea achieves capability for a "nuclear ICMB."

- Cyber insecurity is a "real and growing threat."

- There is a growing danger of a catastrophic EMP attack with a "staggering human cost."

- Immigration crisis remains in "limbo."

- Economic growth is "grinding to a halt."

- National deficit is "projected to skyrocket over next decade." 

- American economic competitiveness is in ongoing "slow decay."

- U.S. education "still lagging" significantly in science and mathematics. 

- Life expectancy in U.S. ranks 26th, "right behind Slovenia."

This doesn't mean that good things aren't continuing to happen especially with innovation despite all the gridlock...there is the Apple Watch (ok, the jury is still out on that one too).

Why don't we let the bear down gently please. ;-)

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2015

Freak Accidents, Illnesses, And Events

Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey (and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook), died suddenly in a freakish accident falling off a treadmill and hitting his head. 

Poof...dead at age 47!

Unfortunately, we hear all the time about these type of tragic occurrences to people.

And of course tragedy knows no bounds--so while sh*t happens everyday to people from all walks of life, we tend to pay more attention when it's someone we know and love or when it's splashed wildly in the news about fabulously successful people we admire and follow. 

- Entertainer, Michael Jackson (50) dead from drug intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest.

- Actor, Robin Williams (63) dead by hanging suicide. 

- Singer, John Lennon (40) shot in the back by someone he had autographed an album for.

- Martial Artist, Bruce Lee (33) died on a movie set from a cerebral edema.

- Model, Marilyn Monroe (33) dead by drug overdose.

- President, John F. Kennedy (46) dead by assassination.

Whether by a plane crash or car accident, drowning or fire, poison or electrocution, a criminal or animal attackterrorism, war, or natural disaster, a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, through suicide, punishment, or mercy killing...regardless of the probabilities and statistics, many people never make it all the way to "a ripe old age." 

We feel bad, shake our heads, say a few words of sympathy perhaps, when we hear of these lives cut short.

But like the TV shows, Six Feet Under (HBO) or 1000 Ways To Die (Spike)--there are a near endless number of horrible ways to go--and they can take you at literally any time.

While we can't stop living and just sit around worrying all the time about all the bad things that can happen, we do need to remember that anything can happen at any time (and these things are not so freakish after all)--no one is beyond the Angel of Death, no one should be arrogant, and we should make the most of every single moment that G-d lovingly grants to us.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Military Health)
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May 3, 2015

Fashionistas Oh Mista

I found this gorgeous picture on Facebook. 

I believe this model on the runway is wearing Armani. 

The green dress is overflowing with beautiful ruffles, accented only by a black belt. 

As the model walks down the black and white runway, the whole outfit just seems to pop with soft texture and sheer eloquence.

I showed it to my daughter and she was hesitant about it, thinking that the green color made her look like a tree and surrounding foliage. 

I can see her point--maybe a nice sky blue or candy pink would be better...I think all three on stage would be amazing! ;-)
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May 2, 2015

The HaTikvah By Andy Blumenthal

Trying my hand at singing the beautiful HaTikvah tonight. 

Thank you to my wife, Dossy, for her patience with me. ;-)
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You Can Always Go, Downtown!

This was fascinating to me at work this week...

I learned how people perceive who sits where and what it means to them.

They even come up with naming conventions for it.

So where (some) of the managers sit, that's called "The White House."

If you turn around and go towards the other end of the building, that's called, "downtown."

And crossing the hallway, past the elevators, that is called, "across the bridge,"

Clearly, the culture of each of these areas within the very same building can be completely different--some may be upbeat, friendly, and productive, and others not so much so or even the opposite with the folks running and screaming, "Get me outta here!"

The message...where people sit and even who sits next to whom is a big deal. 

Where you sit can indicate power, alliances, what is getting done, and at the other extreme who is on "the outs."

Like in the movie, Office Space,  when the guy with the red stapler is moved with his desk and all into the caverns of the building--basically to rot because management didn't quite like him. 

Often people who are in disfavor aren't fired, they are simply put in cherem--excommunicated--and to die a slow and painful career and emotional death. 

On the other hand, those who are the shining stars of the organization get moved to a higher floor, with a better view, possibly a corner office, and near the boss--aha, you're needed!

At work, I suggested a little enterprise architecture challenge to look at the three office areas: White House, Downtown, and Across the Bridge and to define the culture of these--what they are and also what do we want them to be for the people and how can we change to get there. 

No one should feel alienated, "less than" (as human beings), or put out to pasture (if they can be and want to be salvaged). 

The messages that are sent to people by assigning fancy titles, fatter paychecks, providing bigger and more luxuriously adorned offices is a form of performance management (reward and punishment)--but remember that those downtown or across the bridge--who may feel underutilized and not valued in the organization, may become the aggrieved marauding mobs that want to take the proverbial "kings head."

While there are differences in where people are at in their careers and where they sit, generally-speaking advancement and mobility should always be based clearly on fairness, equal opportunity, and respect and dignity for all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc. No one should be sitting in the leaky basement!

Also, sometimes it really is just "the luck of the draw" where people end up--truly--where G-d provides the right opportunity, you have the right skill set, those involved have the right personalities "to click", and it's at the right time "to work out.".

What was also interesting about this to me is that one's persons White House is another person's downtown or across the bridge--it's all relative and we are all part of the carnivorous food chain. 

Just to share something personal for me at work is that one thing that I do when setting up a meeting is that I never put in the meeting notice that the location is my office, but rather, I put it down as "my space," because some people don't have offices, but rather cubes, and I don't want to make anyone feel bad. 

In the end, it's all G-d's space!  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 1, 2015

There You Are

So my niece forwarded this over, and I thought it was really worth sharing...

It's about how our lives are really a bunch of building blocks, and each thing we do contributes to the next step.

So we have to be careful all along the way to do the right thing--so we can achieve the results we want and can be proud of.

It goes like this:

"Watch you thoughts; they become words.

Watch you words; they become actions.

Watch you actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits, they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

Sometimes, we ask ourselves how we got to where we are today--almost as if we are surprised--but the reality is that most of the time, we are going through our lives inch by inch and step by step in an incremental and causal fashion. 

Yes sh*t happens--bad things (and good things), and they test and challenge us and take us to the next playing level.

But for the most part, we didn't just arrive at this moment out of the blue, but rather given what G-d has given us, we mold ourselves brick by brick....until there we are. ;-)

(Thank you to Chana Rivkah Herbsman and Minna Blumenthal)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 30, 2015

Morning Entertainment DC

So this morning there was an interesting banjo player in downtown DC.

He was playing and this little dog in the shopping cart behind him was jumping around dancing. 

Sometimes I wonder as I get older:

- Will I remember all these scenes from my day-to-day life?

- Will they seem real or more like a surreal fantasy?

- Will I feel that I stopped "to smell the roses" or simply hurried on by doing all my things?

In each person a soul--but do we see the spirit or just the bodily facade--somebody homeless trying to get by, a simple distraction, street entertainment, fleeting fears of mental illness or other dangers, just an annoyance maybe, or a handout for someone in need. 

Ever wonder who are you and why are you deserving (or not) to have the fancy suit, tie, shoes, and bag, nice haricut, and are going to a cushy job and fat paycheck, while someone else is standing on the corner playing the banjo?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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April 29, 2015

Beautiful Spring Day

Washington D.C. on a beautiful Spring day. 

Thank you G-d for the changing seasons, the warm sunshine, the soft elegant standing flowers, and the vibrant colors. 

(Source Flowers: G-d)

(I am merely the photographer)
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April 28, 2015

Big Kiss Followed By Hard Slap

So I share this story not out of anger, but to tell of something important that happened to me.

It was when I was very sick last year from surgical complications...


And someone did one of the nicest things for me...and also one of the most hurtful.


This was at the point of hospitalization #3, I think (there was more after), and the doctors were shaking their heads--uh, not a good sign. 


Frankly, I didn't know anymore whether I was going to make it. 


At that time, someone close reached out to me and my wife and said they were going to hold a prayer vigil for me in their home one evening to try and help. 


They did and even sent me photographs of the wonderful people taking the time to ask G-d to save me...I was deeply moved and grateful. 


But subsequently on a phone call with the person who set this up, they said to me seemingly with resentment at having to have done it and undoing all the good they had done...


"You know you really need to get some zechusim of your own!"


Zuchusim means qualities or deeds that merit some reward or good.


In other words, I was getting judged and scolded and was being told that I was in pain, suffering, and sick because basically I MUST be an aweful person who deserves it


And if not for her organizing the prayer group and those others with zuchusim that attended, I on my own probably did not even deserve to live. 


Gee, thanks for the slap, slap, and slap.


While I am sure her words were intended to help me by exhorting ultimate life betterment, at the time and even now, the roughness and shrill of them hurt--it's nothing less than a matter of soul!


While I am no saint--and I think few of us can claim that title no matter how hard we may put ourselves on that lofty pedestal--I know that in my own way--maybe not the most traditional way that other religious people can fully relate to--I try my best to serve G-d, be a decent human being, and a good influence...while not perfect by any sense of the word. 


Laying sick and vulnerable, I needed to be told that I was okay and everything would be okay with G-d's blessing--that whatever the suffering and whatever the reason, my life has good in it and meaning to it--even while we can all better ourselves. 


But while I felt the kiss from this person when they organized the beautiful prayer group for me, I soon felt the sting of the slap from the strict harsh "religious" judgement from someone that didn't even really know my days in and outs. 


While I know I can do better--and I am committed to continue to try to learn and grow as a person--and serve G-d and help others--but for crying out loud have some compassion, go easy on the severity of the judgement and exhortations, and maybe give some benefit of the doubt. 


Words have meaning even though deeds surpass words, and we should be careful with both. ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos posting of Batmancomic.infogenerator)

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April 27, 2015

Creation and Time Management

This is a photo of a beautiful embroidery.

It is called "Creation" by Leonard Nierman. 

Really liked it!

Also, wanted to share something funny I heard from a colleague about time management (as learned at DoD).

It doesn't have to do with creation being 6 days and on the 7th day, G-d rested and it was good. 

Rather it had to do with being on time (or not) as follows:

"If you're on time, you're late.  If you're 10 minutes early, you're on time."

Wish that was standard fare. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 26, 2015

Andy Blumenthal With Roberta Grossman

What an honor today to be able to take this photo with Roberta Grossman, movie Producer/Director. 

First we saw her upcoming movie "Above and Beyond."

It is the story about the birth of the Israeli Air Force, and it was co-produced with Nancy Spielberg (Yes, the sister of Director Steven Spielberg). 

In 1948 when the U.N. (under G-d's guidance) established the State of Israel, the Arab nations prepared to attack the fledgling nation state.

Just 3 years after the end of Holocaust, the surrounded Jewish people with inferior arms, faced almost certain devastating defeat in their War of Independence. 

However, brave volunteer pilots from America, Canada, and South Africa answered the call to help their brethren in Israel. 

With ingenuity, some smuggled air planes, brief training by Czechoslovakia, and the blessings of Hashem, the Israel Defense Forces stopped the advancing Arab armies--of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq--in their tracks. 

It is an amazing story of courage and heroism, and Ms. Grossman did a wonderful job answering enthusiastic questions from the audience in Virginia today. 

Kol Hakavod on a excellent film--thank you!  ;-)
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The Best Cut

So I wasn't sure I wanted to share this, but my wife encouraged me in an effort to help others going through similar things.

Recently, I went to the Surgeon about my other hip to read my MRI...

After having read the report myself before the appointment, I was convinced I was heading under the knife again with the pain I was experiencing, challenges getting around, and the verbiage in the report like: 

"Significant..."

"Advanced."

Anyway, my daughter came along because I wasn't sure I was going to easily get parking in this place...always a challenge there. 

Waiting for the doctor, I asked G-d for a miracle, since after all the hospitalizations this last year, I literally thought that another one at this time could very well kill me.

Low and behold, the doctor comes in and as if G-d is directing his speech for the next 40 minutes or so, he does everything to dissuade me from having the surgery this month, even though he was the one at the last appointment that had already booked me on his surgical calendar. 

So today the miracle unfolded...

First, the doctor read my MRI, but then quickly flipped the screen to an MRI of another patient--a 76 year old--and he showed me the unbelievable progression of the osteoarthritis from near onset to ultimately the complete collapse of the joint over about 9 years time for this lady...the last MRI looked like complete and utter bone devastation--I had never seen anything like it!

Next he opened his drawer and took out a horror basket of used replacement joints parts that he had removed from patients that needed revision--he showed me the wear and breakage and described in horrible detail how he often has to dig these out of the bones of his patients and how each revision--which everyone will need after about 10-15 years or sooner if they become symptomatic--becomes more complicated and dangerous in terms of infection, blood clots, and recovery. 

Then he told how in the field so many replacement surgeries do not go well and that he sees 3-5 patients a week who come to him because they are UN-happy with the replacements their doctors did. 

This went on and on, and bottom line...he said, "I love to do the surgeries--I really do--but wait as long as you can before getting it [on the other hip], since while it can provide for short term improvements, each revision is worse, and at your age you could need three--on each side."

Needless-to-say, from this whole thing, I was in utter shock and some disbelief as I had been told these prosthetics can last 20-25 years with the newer models, and I was not aware of what the revisions really entailed in later years or the challenges they brought. 

As he continued to describe the risks in painful vivid details (note, I was his last appointment of the day and he was talking his time here), my eyes were literally welling up in tears.

I looked over at my daughter and she was sitting mouth agape shaking her head at what he was saying. I was deeply sorry that she had to sit through this (what we had thought was a simple MRI reading and confirmation of the upcoming procedure date). 

I left the doctor's office, of course, canceling the surgery--still in severe pain and with trouble walking--however, "scared straight" to make the best of this for now, but also afraid of what lies ahead. 

I have to have faith that the L-rd who made the miracle to hold off on the surgery for now will continue to guide and protect me through this illness that today has no cure. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 25, 2015

There Is Today

I've always enjoyed physical fitness.

While I've lost some mobility with my hips...


I am trying to make the most of every day.


Rebecca is showing me the ropes with racquetball, and even Dossy tried it. 


A friend told me: "There is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is only today!" ;-)


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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April 24, 2015

DC, The Cleanest City In The World

Check out what we have in Washington, DC...

Gum Busters--"chewing gum removal specialists"!

If we can get the gummies out of politics, imagine what we can accomplish. 

Man, DC has got to be one of the cleanest cities in the world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 23, 2015

Shut Up, Pleez!

Some people just don't know when to turn down the volume or shut it off, altogether. 

Perhaps they don't have enough to do, are craving attention, trying to make a name for themselves, are plain 'ol destructive, or are simply acting the fool and looking for their next victim.

But they have to get into everyone else's business, telling them how to do their jobs, taking over and hostage any meeting they can shove their way into with their private agendas, emailing everyone and their mother with their henpecking of the day, and demanding their needs are the priority and rises up over everyone elses--no matter whom or what else is going on. 

These people think they have an open mic and they are going to grab it, hold it, and never let it go. 

You beg them to stop, to control themselves, to work out their issues constructively, to give others a chance, to get in line, to let you do your job and they should do theirs, to get some situational and personal awareness, but rather than putting the mic down....

No, they see your calm and rationale requests for peace as squirming capitulation and the opportunity to hit you again and again. 

Everyone else has already given up and just won't respond or even acknowledge the Chicken Little screaming over and over again "The sky is falling"--when it isn't, and when so much important work is getting done by very hardworking and good people, who know how to act professionally. 

The kids nowadays say it straight up, "shut your pie hole!"

And that is really such a good idea. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2015

Might Does Not Make Right

I heard from someone the other day...

"Do what is right--the others be damned!"

And this is right on the money.

You should always follow the dictates of your conscience.

Do not worry about pressure from others or what others will do that you cannot control. 

My dad (A"H) used to say:

"YOU do what is right--YOU be the example!"

He was my example, and I will always follow in his footsteps. ;-)

(Source photo: here with attribution to cursedthing)
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April 21, 2015

Growing Shoes For Growing Feet


Great innovation from The Shoe That Grows.

Innocent children around the world living in poverty are frequently forced to walk barefoot, without shoes, risking dangerous injury from hard and sharp objects as well as disease from contaminated soil. 

Now there are expandable shoes that can be adjusted in the front toe piece and side with snaps, as well as with a back heel strap.

The shoes are made to expand five sizes and last 5 years with high quality rubber soles and leather uppers.

A donation of one pair for a needy child is just $10.

No child--or adult--should ever have to go without the basics like shoes and this can help millions get to a higher standard of living, which everyone deserves. ;-)

(Thank you to Michelle Blumenthal for sharing this with me.)
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April 19, 2015

Pumping Some Iron



It's good to be getting back to myself.

Starting off with the light ones--yeah, just getting warmed up. ;-)

Thank you Hashem!  

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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How You Treat Animals

This little bird is singing pretty with his Coronoa.

But this isn't always how we treat animals. 

Some absolutely revere their animals as integral parts of their family or faith--as pets, they may be loved and cared in nice homes, and as source for milk, dung, and tilling, they may even considered sacred as in Hindu India, or for sacrifices on the Temple alter in Judaism. 

I've seen dogs picked up after and wheeled around in baby strollers, while in the Movies like "Meet The Fockers," Jinx the cat is exalted for doing her deed in the toilet, the same one used by the family.

One colleague told me how she had to run after her dog cleaning up all over her house, when it was sick and had a bleed out of its butt--yeah, ick!

And I remember learning about how in Nazi Germany, dogs would walk on the sidewalk, while Jews were forced into the gutters. 

On the other side of the animal coin...

We have animals sickeningly and inhumanly confined and caged in tiny spaces; starved or fattened; pepped up on antibiotics, and clubbed, electrocuted, given lethal injections, shot and cut up.

Animals are used for food, fur, and even so-called fun from cock fighting to bull runs.

Further, animals are used for research in everything from new medications to abusive studies in mind control and even punishment.

Animals have also been used for horrific torture of POWs where masks were attached to victims faces and a fire would heat the other side and force the rodent locked inside to burrow into the faces of their victims.

Similarly, in Nazi Germany, gruesome studies were conducted on humans by sewing live cats into the stomach of victims.

In more positive ways, animals have been used to locate everything from disease to the implements of war--from dogs being used in identifying human diseases like cancer and tuberculosis to giant rats used to locate land mines

Also, animal products are used in many life-saving medications. 

I found the remorse of an animal experimenter today in the New York Times to be refreshing, and those who choose to become vegan or disavow the use of fur and other animal products to be noble, as long as they accept that others may feel different. 

When the experimenter in his guilt thinks about the tables being turned, he imagines aliens coming to Earth and abducting and conducting experiments on us humans...oh, he seems to go, now I know how it must feel. 

Guess he didn't think to walk in that chicken's shoes before...

While to carnivorous animals, we are just another piece of beef in the food chain, other domesticated animals can be "man's best friend."

Killing an animal for survival is one thing, and where people draw that line can vary quite some--for example, how badly does Kim Kardashian need another fur to keep her warm?

But pure abusive and sick treatment of animals for amusement, profiteering, or psychotic ends is wrong, period. 

Animals are not people, but they are G-d creatures and sentient, and they should not be harmed or pained just because some of us like to act like animals too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 18, 2015

G-d Gave Us So Many Gifts

Today, I just wanted to share the words of this beautiful Israeli song that a friend shared with me in Synagogue. 

It is called (in Hebrew) "Elohin Natan Lecha Bematana,"which means G-d gave you as a present.

It's about everything wonderful that G-d has given us, and we just ask for one more gift...peace. 

Hope you enjoy (it brought tears to my eyes)! 

****************************

Chorus:
God gave you as a gift
Something great, something wonderful
God gave you as a gift
The life on earth

Gave you the night and the day
Love, hope and dream
Summer, winter, autumn, spring
Good soul to look around

Gave you green fields
Flowers and blooming trees
Rivers, streams and seas
Sky, moon, stars

Chorus

Gave you feasts and Sabbaths
Israel, the fathers' land
Hands and head to fulfill dreams
Gave you all the wonders

Gave you such nice things
To bring kids to this world
Listen to songs, see colors
Oh, so many are your deeds, God

Chorus

God, oh, please give me just one more gift
A small gift but a wonderful one
God, please give me just one more gift
The peace on earth

***************************
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April 16, 2015

CIO, Social Butterfly Or Tyrant

So I've seen it both ways...

There are those who "lead" by friendship, as if the workplace is one big playpen; and the notion is that those who have the most office buddies wins; to them it's not the mission or work that is important but rather it's a popularity contest, plain and simple--they are immature and still stuck in the preschool mode of thinking about what leadership is and how to work productively with others. 

Then there are others who "lead" by tyranny--it is a one person show and they are it; no one else has an viewpoint or idea that matters; anyone else who is good to great is a threat to them--they are insecure and narcissistic and the scariest thing in the world to them is to surround themselves with people smarter than themselves or give credit, respect, and honor to others.

Now there is nothing wrong with doing a coffee, lunch, or happy hour, networking, and building relationships with good people...in fact, interpersonal skills is a critical part of the job and of success.

However, those who flutter around smoozing it up with anyone and everyone, and unlike normal working discussions that have a congenial, "how you doing?" aspect and a serious, let's get down to business part, these social butterflies never get past the game on last night, their trip to Paris, or their one night stand...it's all personal, conferences, speeches, but no real work getting done (maybe some smoke and mirrors). 

Similarly, there are times, when decisions need to be made and the debate must end, and not everything in the office can be a vote where majority wins--sometimes tough decisions and trade-offs need to be made, authority exercised, and responsibility taken.

Nevertheless, it's when moderation and good judgement is lost and a person's emotional issues, personality disorders, and social anxieties take over that they act the fool--and they either rule by shaking hands and kissing babies (or the office equivalent of favors, favortism, and coffee or drinks, I'm buying!) or they are hard-a*sed, prickly jerks who cannot work with anyone that can pull their own weight and instead we see a flurry people make a dash for the exits. 

How do either of these types of people become leaders of anything? Don't the executives they report see or hear the chaos in the ranks below and the projects going bottom-up, kaput?

We've got to get along and nothing wrong with work friends, but we are here to do a job and do it well and for that we need to come together as decent human beings who treat each other with respect, dignity, and where everyone can make a valuable contribution--CIO social butterflies and inglorious tyrants begone! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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