March 31, 2020

Children Are Our Future

There are already 32 states under lockdown orders and more surely to come.

It is good to see the children playing outside (even in smallish groups). 

It's trying times with schools closed, many parents trying to telework, and the need to take care of the children (especially the younger ones) at the same time. 

We can't lose sight that the children are our future. 

They are everything in this world. 

Even with the Coronavirus pounding away at our older and more vulnerable populations, we can still thank G-d that not many children have been infected

Even in challenging times, G-d shows His mercy to us. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 30, 2020

Harris Teeter War Zone

Who would've thought that going to Harris Teeter would be a war zone. 

But this guy in the respirator mask is showing us how bad things can start to get. 

As an avid fan of the show The Walking Dead, I think we are entering TWD territory with the people walking around with their face's half covered and some looking sick with fear and worry or perhaps even with symptoms--who knows!

What is amazing is how things can go from boom to bust, and not just for our economy, but for life and civilization itself at the turn of a dime. 

Yesterday, I read how the CFO of Jefferies Group Investment Bank (NYC) died at age 56 from Coronavirus. 

Even as the Navy's hospital ships Mercy and Comfort enter the ports of Los Angeles and New York City to lend a hand and about 1,000 hospital beds each, it seems like more and more of these deadly cases are hitting the papers and social media every day.

Where does this sickness stop?   

What happens if the virus mutates again and become even more virulent?

How do we ever feel even remotely secure again?

Can we keep taxing our already overwhelmed healthcare system with more and more sick patients?

How long can we keep printing Monopoly bailout money (incredibly, there is talk of yet another multi-trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill even after we just passed this $2.2 trillion one last week)?

Eventually, as we all know circumstances can indeed overwhelm the health and financial systems, and even our governments...thank G-d we aren't there. 

But what we are all beginning to see in the midst of crisis is that "there" isn't really all that far away from "here."

...That life hangs by a truly thin thread. 

And because we can only do so much, this is where we really need to look up to the heavens and ask for G-d's help and mercy.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: my wonderful son-in-law, Itzchak)
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March 29, 2020

Hope Amidst Coronavirus

This is absolutely what I call:
Hope Amidst Coronavirus.

Life is hope. 

The children are our future. 

Love and caring is our continuity. 

G-d's is the Master over it all. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 28, 2020

Don't Cough On Granny

So these are the signs of the times of Coronavirus. 

Pictures telling us not to cough on Granny. 

Cover your germy mouth!

Don't get the older and more vulnerable amongst us sick. 

I was in the elevator the other day, standing in the corner next to the elevator buttons. 

Someone else--an older person--gets on with a big (double size) shopping cart.

He's standing in the opposite back corner (kitty corner from me) with this huge cart between us. 

Then he starts yelling at me, literally, to "get in the corner!"

Ah, I'm already in the opposite corner. 

He's huffing and puffing angry that he wants me to literally get up against both walls. 

I was almost tempted to say something like maybe you should just get off and catch the next elevator Sir. 

But I held my tongue, in part out of sympathy for these elderly people who are obviously really scared (and maybe rightfully so) of the Coronavirus. 

Sometimes, I think to myself what if we were really hit at some point in the future with a very deadly bioweapon that was expressly designed to kill and to repulse any sort of countermeasures against it. 

What if the fatality rate was 1/3 to 2/3 of the population like in the Middle Ages Bubonic Plague or even higher like 100% of anyone that gets infected from a military-grade, genetically modified virus (similar to effects from Ebola). 

Maybe it's not good to ask what ifs, but if we are really going to learn anything from this, then I think we need to extrapolate from the relatively minor now to the potential major down the road. 

If you think we have hysteria, deaths, and $2.2 trillion U.S. impact now, this is just a glimpse of what could actually happen. 

We need to seriously rethink our disaster preparedness and response--big time.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 27, 2020

You Can Overcome It!

I like this runner's shirt a lot. 

It says:
Courage is endurance for one moment more.

Just when you feel that you cannot go on for another moment.

Just when you are at your very limit.

Just when you've reached your total breaking point. 

Then...

You take that deep breath and focus your mind intently. 

You disassociate yourself from the pain and struggle. 

You see the challenge in front of you for what it really is and you raise yourself above and beyond it.

Your inner spirit is so much greater than its power over you. 

You have the inner faith and can endure whatever it is. 

You can overcome it! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 26, 2020

Rescue Plan Is Largely Another Shortsighted Bailout


First of all let me point out these photos of the day.

The first one are blue lines on the floor at Whole Foods telling people to keep their social distance from other customers. 

One person crossed the blue line and another customer promptly yelled at them that they were going to get them sick!

The second photo is limiting Nutter Butters ("Nut Butters") to 4 per customer during this coronavirus--sh*t people are downing Nutter Butters like there truly is no tomorrow.  LOL

Finally, looking over the $2 trillion Coronavirus Rescue Plan, I see a lot of bailouts--about half through grants and half through loans.  

On the positive and largely necessary side are increases to unemployment insurance payments and aid to needy households (up to $150,000 for married couples is needy?) and to hospitals and transit.

In terms of the business loans, there are "forgivable" ones to small business, so not sure how that is a "loan."

Overall though, it seems like we are throwing a lot of other money around that we as a country don't have and will end up paying in terms of a higher national debt and higher interest payments for generations to come.  

This is another lost opportunity!

If we were already going to spend big money like this, why not pass the infrastructure spending bill to rebuild our aging roads, bridges, electric grid, aviation, public transit, and expand internet coverage.  This would actually put people back to work and build America again, rather than give corporate handouts that are shortsighted and with squat to show for it for the country's ultimate benefit.

Everyone likes to get freebies, but eventually the country will come back to pay the piper, and there will be bread lines and not Nutter Butter. ;-)

(Credit Photos: Minna Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2020

O - Change The World - O

Change the world...by changing your attitude.
Life is Beautiful!
It's a gift.

Every day is renewal and opportunity

Everything is for the best. 

Believe it.  Live it.  And share it.

A smile and a positive attitude is contagious in a good way!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2020

Enough! Coronavirus Already

Day G-d's knows what of being locked down for this global Coronavirus outbreak. 

I am soooo SICK of Coronavirus!

It's time to slay this Covid-19 and get this world back to normal. 

Sure, I am extremely grateful for every day of health and certainly not to be in the lousy hospital.

But life has got to be about more than Coronavirus. 

It's not Armageddon, but slow water torture or death by a thousand cuts. 

The repetitiveness is mind-numbing, repulsive already. 

The news is boring, snoring everyone to tears. 

The fear is morphing into unintended complacency.

The "rescue plan" everyone knows is more pork barrel politics.

The wild gyrations of the stock market is nonstop ticker tape Vegas style. 

Even the grocery and toilet paper hoarding has got to have an end in sight.

It's not that Coronavirus isn't serious and important, but what about everything else in the world.

Can we start to give some attention to life again? ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 23, 2020

3 Months of Social Distancing

Here is a link to the modeling for Covid-19:
https://covidactnow.org/

You can click any state to see the impact of 3 months of social distancing or 3-months of Shelter in Place.

Basically, it looks like this first round of coronavirus will last until around the beginning of June. 

The hope is that we can keep the hospitals and medical system from being overwhelmed while we try to come up and test an effective vaccine. 

Of course, vaccines are helpful, but look how many still get the flu every year because viruses mutate and the vaccine misses the mark.

Also, there is a risk that the virus comes back even more virulent again, so we all need to continue to pray! ;-)

(Thank you to my sister for sharing this with me.)
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March 22, 2020

Life In The Times of Coronavirus

I heard my daughter laughing from another room.

A real hearty bellyaching laugh. 

Then she came in and shared a WhatsApp post from one of her friends which said:
I ate 11 times and took 5 naps and I woke up and it's still today!

Then I couldn't stop laughing. ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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We Just Magically Found $2,000,000,000,000

It's amazing how we can magically find $2 trillion for a Coronavirus "Rescue Plan."

This after we already wasted over $6.4 trillion (and thousands of our dead and wounded) through 2017 in unexplainable and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no known or lasting benefits to this country (while archenemy, Iran continues their pursuit of nukes unabated). 

And for decades, we haven't been able to find money for:

- Decent healthcare for all Americans.

- Ensuring our national security, including adequate planning and disaster preparedness for things like Coronavirus, cybersecurity, WMDs, EMPs, and for critical infrastructure protection. 

- Repairing our aging roads, bridges, and infrastructure

- Fixing our broken public education system.

- Helping our countless of homeless and needy lying the streets of our nation. 

- Restoring our space program to get a man on the moon again or put another shuttle into space. 

When politics are in play, there is plenty of money to go around. 

But when the nation needs proper care and feeding, there are no adults in the room. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 21, 2020

Trying To Maintain Normality


People are trying to get out of the house for just a little bit each day amidst the mandated social distancing. 

Especially difficult is to try to get some exercise with all the fitness centers, gyms, and pools closed down. 

Some people are just choosing to go for a walk around the track or get in a quick workout with a few friends or family members. 

Can we be normal when everything is abnormal? ;-)

(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 20, 2020

Great Explanation of Coronavirus (Covid-19)


Great explanation of Coronavirus (Covid-19) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Need a Part II though to explain what people should do when they get sick--communication on this part has been awful. 

BTW, the governor of California stated that he estimates that 56% of their population or 25.5 million people would be infected there within eight weeks. 

At a 1-2% fatality rate (lower than the current global 4% fatality rate) that would mean between 250,000 and 500,000 dead just in California.  

This is very serious stuff folks. ;-)

(Credit to my daughter, Rebecca for sharing this with video)
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The Dog Diet

Funny story from a wonderful relative of mine...made me laugh during this coronavirus outbreak.
-------------------
"I interrupt the COVID-19 pandemic to bring you this lil story...

Last night I went to Sam’s Club to buy a bag of food for my dogs.

Already in line, a woman behind me asked me if I had a dog.

I stare at her (those who know me will imagine my gaze 🤔😳) ...but then why would I be buying dog food...right? 😝😝

So on impulse I told her no, that I didn’t have a dog, that I was starting the dog food diet again, and that I probably shouldn't because I ended up in the hospital the last time, but 15 pounds less!

I told her that it was the perfect diet and that all you had to do is carry the kibbles in your pocket and eat one or two every time you feel hungry (I have to mention that practically everyone in line was interested in my story).

Frightened, the woman asks me if I ended up in the hospital because the dog food had poisoned me. I answered...of course not!

I was admitted because I bent down to smell the butt of a bulldog and I was hit by a truck 😂😂😂

I thought the man behind her was going to have a heart attack...he was laughing so hard!

...Let’s continue promoting reading! 😁

I have to confess...I posted this to make you smile. It's your turn to copy/paste it and make someone else laugh.

We need to laugh more! Have a GREAT DAY😄😄😄"

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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March 19, 2020

Coronavirus - Something or Nothing?

I don't know about you but I have found the communication about the Coronavirus to be absolutely confusing.

And the actions demonstrating unpreparedness, disorganized response, general chaos, and panic do not match the few calming words we are getting. 

No wonder everyone is panicking and the bottom is falling from the market.

On one hand:

- The officials tell everyone to remain calm, and there is no reason to panic. 

- Help is on the way.

- People are overreacting.

- Most people that get Covid 19 won't even know they had it or the symptoms will be mild (or maybe moderate)

- The death rate is "only" like 3 or 4% and it's mostly older people or those with chronic ailments anyway (as if these people don't matter). 

- Younger children aren't really getting it (although we don't know exactly why or the impact on pregnant women). 

- It's less contagious and deadly than the flu (wait, it's more contagious and deadly). 

- There are plenty of tests available for everyone (no, there aren't).

- It will be over in a few weeks when the seasons change and the temperature goes up. 

- A vaccine will soon be ready for testing and then distribution after 12-18 months. 

- The numbers of infected are going down in China--see they have it under control!

- Maybe we should allow investigative drugs to be used (or maybe not, the FDA thinks this is a bad idea).

- The impact to the economy will be over probably by August (or will it?). 

- It'll ALL be over soon.

On the other hand:

- We don't know what we're facing (people are routinely using the words apocalypse and armageddon). 

- This could be the "big one!"

- Is this a punishment from G-d (and is the Messiah coming)? 

- This has reached pandemic proportions. 

- We are declaring a national emergency. 

- This may have come out of a Chinese bioweapons lab.

- Also, China suppressed information and initial response on this making the outbreak worse. 

- "China should be punished for these things" (or some version of this).

- Cases are raising around the world. 

- The contagion is worse than initially thought (there are comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed around 50 million people)

- The death rate is higher than expected. 

- We don't know why or where certain people got Covid 19 from.

- The hospitals are already overwhelmed and are unprepared for a real surge of cases. 

- We need to "flatten the curve" so our healthcare system isn't brought to its knees. 

- We are already triaging patients and our doctors and nurses are working extra long hours and are exhausted. 

- We aren't prepared for this--our healthcare system and government has "failed us". 

- We're rolling out unprecedented economic assistance from the Fed, the Treasury...another trillion dollar deficit (no answer for how this gets paid, if ever...can anyone say runaway inflation in the future and lots of worthless dollars). 

- Washing and "Social Distancing" are paramount. 

- There is a run on toilet paper and disinfectants and these are either sold out or vendors are price gouging these items. 

- We are shutting down the country (workplaces, fitness centers, eat-in restaurants, entertainment, travel, places of worship, and any significant gathering of people). 

- The instructions to stay at home in "indefinite"!

- People are stuck in the house and worried about how long this will go on. 

- Some places like New Rochelle, NY are under quarantine and the National Guard has been called out.

- There is talk of a curfew and further measures of quarantine to be enforced under penalty of imprisonment. 

- The lines at the stores (Costco, Sam's Club, Supermarkets, Groceries) are out the door and the shelves are empty. 

- Amazon announces that they are running out on consumer stables!

- Businesses are suspending workers, moving them to part time, and laying them off. 

- The stock market is down by 1/3 and we're told that this could just be the beginning. 

- A recession is looming and the economic impact and duration is unknown. 

- Italy is on lockdown. 

- Borders are being closed. 

- People can't get home from abroad. 

- Cruise ships aren't being allowed to port. 

- Airlines are screaming for a financial bailout. 

- Navy Hospital Ships with 1,000 beds each are being deployed to the east and west coast. 

- We're sending $1,000 checks (or something like this) to people below a certain income level (maybe $65,000).

- Taxes are supposedly being deferred (although not filing of returns or estimated taxes yet).  

- People are wearing masks everywhere (but we are being told only the sick ones need to wear it and we see everyone in China wearing it and of course our first responders and medical professionals, so which is it).

- Primary voting is delayed in some states and there is question whether the November Presidential election will also be delayed.

Summary:

Does anyone know WTF is going on around here???

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 18, 2020

COVID-19 Dashboard Tracker

Incredible COVID-19 tracker at: 
https://ncov2019.live/data

Developed by a 17-year old Jewish kid from Seattle. 

There is a page for data by continent, country, and state. 

And another tab with an interactive map of the cases. 

Also, a page of useful information from The Center for Coronavirus Information.

The information updates every minute by scrapping information "from reliable sources from all over the world."

I think it would also be helpful to add an aggregator of top news stories on the Coronavirus.

I find this to be a very simple, straight-forward dashboard to keep up with the developments of this virus. 

Thank you Avi Shiffmann--job well done!  ;-)

(Credit to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)
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March 17, 2020

Telework Lessons from Coronavirus

So we're all stuck in the house teleworking because of Coronavirus.

After a number of hours, I hear from my daughter that her laptop stopped working.

Apparently the battery overheated. 

Like a good millennial, what does she do?

She puts it in the refrigerator to cool down.

And sure enough, when she takes it out, it's working again. 

Next problem of the day is where the VPN circuits are overloaded (too many people trying to login from home).

And when you try to call the help desk, of course all you get is a busy signal. 

We sure are learning a lot during this Coronavirus outbreak. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2020

Germs, Can't Think About Anything Else

With Coronavirus media madness 24/7...

Who can think about anything but germs!

Or should I say killing germs. 

Nobody wants to get sick.

And we don't want to get others sick either. 

- Wash your hands a lot!

- No more handshakes.  

- No more touching "suspect" surfaces.  

- Keep good ("far") social distancing. 

- Quarantine yourself in the house for 2 weeks (actually it's more like indefinitely).

What has become of our world. 

Just one big GERM BOWL. 

Can we really hide from the germs? ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 15, 2020

The Coronavirus Panic


Fruits and Vegetables...


Bread....


Cereal...


Paper Towels and Toilet Paper...

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal @Harris Teeter)


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March 14, 2020

Coronavirus Cancels Synagogue

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Coronavirus Cancels Synagogue."
While I understand the rationale to close the synagogues, not to congregate with others and expose ourselves or spread the Coronavirus, I can’t help thinking and believing that what we need now, more than ever, is prayer to Hashem and the mitzvah of Torah study that the synagogue provides to us. Indeed, only in the hands of G-d is the ultimate power of health or illness, and life or death...To me, this Shabbat was not a full Shabbat, because there was no synagogue, no Rabbi’s sermon, no community to talk and share with. I feel robbed of my religion today. I want to be able to go to synagogue and have a real Shabbat. How many other Shabbatot will we have to continue to go through without being able to pray in a minyan, hear the Torah reading, listen to the Rabbi’s speech, and see our community friends?

Many say and I firmly believe that we are on the doorstep of Mashiach and that he is even here among us waiting for the right moment to reveal himself. We’ve survived so much and finally have returned as a people to our homeland of Israel. Now we must survive the final birthing pains of Mashiach and then we will be able to go not only to our synagogues once again, but also to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray and learn at G-d’s very footstep in this earthly world.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 13, 2020

Stop The Coronavirus, Please!

It's been a few exhausting weeks since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has gone public. 

First case in China in November.

Now as a Pandemic in 126 countries!

Over 132,000 confirmed cases, so far .

And around 5,000 deaths 🕱.

The numbers are projected to climb/////.

With Dr. Faucci of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) warning that it will "get worse before it gets better."

Everything is closing down from our work facilities to Cruises, Broadway, and Disney.

Of course, we need the government (at all levels), health professionals, and pharmaceutical companies to get their acts together with an effective response strategy. 

Also, this is a wake up call for better preparedness for all sorts of natural and man made disasters that are awaiting. 

Today it's a virus (natural or biowarfare) and tomorrow it'll be a devastating cyber attack that we are woefully unprepared for. 

No more playing politics, half measures, and waiting for the next shoe to drop (Spanish Flu, Pearl Harbor, 9/11).

The rest of us need to do our "prepping" parts and to say a prayer or two and keep going. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 12, 2020

Simpsons Predicted Coronavirus

It's incredible that the Simpsons' creators predicted Coronavirus back in 1993!

I understand that the sign in the first photo (top left) was edited from Osaka Flu to Corona Virus.

But still incredibly...

The Chinese workers are seen coughing/sneezing into the box of goods being exported to us.

Simpson opens his new bought goodies.

And instead of the joy of shopping, he gets sick.

And the virus spreads and spreads. 

(Source photo: Dailymail and you can watch the Youtube video there as well)
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March 11, 2020

Learning Hebrew: One Book at a Time

My daughter had a great idea for improving on our Hebrew language skills. 

Start small...as in children's books. 

She got a few of these from the library and it actually was fun to read these. 

Aside from taking me back a few years in parenthood and bonding as a family over these, I found it useful to solidify my learning.

Dr. Seuss definitely had the right idea. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal with attribution to book בּובי בוא בובי לך by ××ž×™ רובינגר)
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March 9, 2020

Happy Purim from Magen David Synagogue!




















(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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Camel In Thought

Love this little camel.

My daughter got this is Israel and displays it in the living room. 

Sitting peacefully, looking upwards. 

Colorful mosaic. 

Jerusalem, its brand. 

Amazing animals. 

I wonder what he's thinking. 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 8, 2020

Peace Or War

I like this saying by Shimon Peres, you can choose:
Either peace and pay the price or war and take the risk.

It's very smart.

Peace isn't free...there is a price (maybe a large one) to pay for it. 

War is also not free...there is a risk of what you will win or lose. 

These are very serious life calculations with consequences that are far reaching. 

Peace or war and if you are wrong what will it cost and how will you achieve security? ;-)

(Credit photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Why The Happiness of Purim?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why The Happiness of Purim?"

In a world that is constructed of the story of Purim, everything looks like it's based on mere happenstance and there seems to be no G-d involved—this is a world of randomness and meaninglessness. Whatever happens, just happens by nature or luck, and what can be more meaningless and depressing than that! Thus, the Rabbis had to decree all the laws for the happiness of Purim, because happiness is not innate to a story that is seemingly happenstance and devoid of G-d. That is the big difference between Purim, where Hashem is hidden, and Passover or Hanukah, where Hashem revealed Himself and made incredible miracles—the 10 plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea or the one day of oil that lasted for eight days.

On Purim, we celebrate our deliverance from the evil Haman and the king's decree to kill all the Jews, but also we are overflowing with Joy remembering that G-d is always with us—in good times and G-d forbid in the bad times--we are not afraid of anything (another indecisive election, the stock market downturn, our enemies, Coronavirus, etc.) knowing that He loves us and cares for us, and will deliver us in the old days and in the new. May the final deliverance soon be completed with the arrival of the Mashiach—and the hidden will become revealed like on Purim and the joy will be forever increased. Amen.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 6, 2020

The Tavor

Love my new keychain with the Tavor.

It's the latest Assault Rifle by Israel Weapon Industries.

The short stock makes this very versatile yet it packs a hell lot of fire power.

Good reminder for me of "Never again!" ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal, and thank you to my son-in-law for the thoughtful gift)
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March 5, 2020

Dysfunctional Breeds Dysfunction

A colleague was telling me a while back about a dysfunctional organization they were in and how it made them feel...well, dysfunctional. 

I told them:
Never let the organization define you!  You are who you are. 

Honestly, I could see how this situation wore on them.

Then we met up again, and it was like they were a new person. 

I asked them what happened and they said how they made a change in their life and sure enough in a healthy setting and culture, they felt great again!

It's incredible the negative impact that a bad organizational culture can have on its people. 

But it's up to you to find the right place for you, so you can be who you are!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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