February 28, 2014

Hanging By A Thread

This spool of cable has been hanging from this utility pole for days, maybe weeks. 

I have never quite seen anything like this. 

This huge spool hanging by a thread from this skinny little pole.

Of course, there is one warning cone sitting right underneath the overhead spool. 

Can't you just see that spool crashing down and flattening the cone? [Wonk!]

Then you have some sporadic red warning tape not doing much of nothing.

And cars and people regularly going up and down this street--which you don't really see in this photo.

Maybe the workers just left the spool of cable up there in case they need it again in the future.

Hey, less work lifting it all the way up there again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 27, 2014

Newspaper, Identity Thief

So, true story.

I know identify theft is a serious matter, but really...

I'm heading out of the driveway and I see the newpaper delivery guy just pulling up.

He's running a little late, but I figure I can still get the paper in time for morning reading on the Metro. 

I walk over to him and ask if I can get the Journal that he's deliverying to me.

He says, "No, I only deliver the Wall Street Journal and the Post."

I say, "Yeah, the Wall Street Journal, can I get it, since you're running a little late this morning."

He says. "I'm never late!"--actually, he is and sometimes doesn't deliver at all (the other week, I got 3 papers in one day). 

I say, "OK, but I can take it from here."

He says, "No, I only deliver to the door."

I say, "But I'm right here."

He says, "How do I know you are who you say you are?"

I say, "I am, and thank G-d, I really don't need to steal a $2 newspaper from you, Sir."

He says, "Okay, but I'll need to see an id!"

I say, "Are you serious?"

He says, "Yeah," pulling back to safety the pile of newspapers he is holding is his arms. 

Reluctantly, I flip open my wallet and flash my license to him.

Not good enough...he insists I take it out so he can read it. 

I finally got the paper, but we wasted what seemed like 5 minutes between the negotiation and proof of identity exercise. 

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate his diligence, but I think this type of scrutiny over access and identity would be better placed squarely on our cyber assets--somewhere where we really need them! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 26, 2014

March Of The Dangerous Penguins

This was a funny picture on the streets of Washington D.C.

Someone drew these "armed" and dangerous penguins on the back of a chair. 

The chair is translucent, but with the snow coming down and covering it, you can see this crazy drawing. 

Perhaps this is a message from the local NRA advocating for gun rights, who knows?

Anyway, these penguins are cute little fellows even carrying scoped rifles and staring down the everyday passerbys. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 25, 2014

What A Waste Of Coin

Coming to work this week, I saw a penny on the ground...then another...and another.

I saw people passing the money, and instead of picking it up, they kicked in off the curb.

That's even worse than throwing them into the fountain where at least you might get some good luck from it. 

Thus, the state of our minting of coinage--it's essentially worthless.

After getting a pretty basic Venti Java Chip at Starbucks for a whopping $5.45, I quickly calculated, I would need 545 pennies,109 nickles, 54.5 dimes, or 21.8 quarters o pay for this--how ridiculous!  

And uh, how many of these would you need to pay someone one hour at the new proposed minimum wage of $10.10 if you did it in coins?

Otherwise, I could just give them a credit or debit card--yes, sort of a no brainer, right?

Why do we keep making coinage that no one wants or needs in the digital age?

We have direct deposit for payroll, automatic deductions for many expenses, online banking, ecommerce , credit and debit cards, paypal, and even bitcoin...let's just be honest and admit it, traditional money is basically obsolete. 

At Starbucks, I see many people now just use their Smartphone App to pay and get rewards--another advance. 

Someday soon, we will have embedded chips that simply add and deduct payments as we go along and live life--it's really not all that complicated. 

The funny thing also is that it costs more to make many coins then their intrinsic worth--and hence the drive towards making coins with cheaper materials. 

According to Business Insider, in 2012, a penny cost 2.4 cents to make and a nickle 11.2 cents--quite a losing proposition. 

While there truly are some valuable coins out there and I appreciate that there are many coin lovers and collectors--numismatists--perhaps there are alternate hobbies to consider. 

A colleague once told me that "If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow"--and that may be some good investement advice, but in a 24/7 society and after decades of inflation, there isn't enough time or room to collect all the pennies we would need to make much of a difference. 

ABC News reports that while our northern brother, Canada, got rid of the penny in 2012, we still make something like 5 billion of these useless things a year. 

Full disclosure: my first job in Washington, D.C. was for the U.S. Mint, and while there were good things about it, I could never feel good about the mission--it just had no purpose. ;-)

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maura Teague)
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February 24, 2014

Google Fiber 4 The Nation's Capital

How About Google Fiber for Washington, D.C.? 

- Lead, by example, the rest of the nation forward.


- Speed up the functioning of the government.


- Helpful for Emergency Management


- The Patriotic thing to do! ;-)


All Opinions my own. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cameron Yee, & no idea why it's in Spanish, but I like it!)

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February 23, 2014

Tie Dye Cake


This is a fun cooking experience.

We're making tie dye cake.

It's not yet done--just went into the oven.

Frosting and sprinkles are also on the way. 

In 30 minutes we'll have a very colorful dessert. 

And yum!  ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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Don't Let Debbie Downer Take You Down


Saturday Night Live has a spoof about Negative Nellie's and they call her Debbie Downer. 

We all know people like this who are the Voice of Doom and the Doctor No's.

Whatever the topic is--they've been there, done it, and have seen it fail--"We tried that before," "That's not the way we do things here," "You just don't understand," "It will never work."

They see danger and bad everywhere and in everything, even in the face of positive and promise. 

These are the people who are obstinate, the naysayers, and are against change at all cost--they fear it or just don't want to deal with it. 

BusinessWeek has an interesting perspective on this--how even these people can be employed to have a beneficial impact on projects--by having them tell you everything that can go wrong, so you can take steps to plan and mitigate against these. 

Some people only want to have positive people around them--"yes men," who only tell them how smart and right they are all the time. 

However, the best leaders don't want kiss ups and brown nosers, but rather value"truth tellers," who will provide them solid advice and guidance on issues, tell them when they think something is wrong or risky, and even take an opposing point of view or play devil's advocate.

I remember when I was asked about whether a certain project was going to meet a very near deadline, and I said point blank, "Do you want me just to say yes or do you want me to tell you the truth?"

I got a big smile to that and the appreciation that I was real and truthful and there to make a difference and not just be another lump on the log. 

The point is not to be a Debbie Downer or a brown noser, but to be an Honest Joe or Jane. ;-)
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February 22, 2014

National State Of Cyber Insecurity


This video is a wake up call on the state of our national cyber insecurity. 

It is the opening statement (about 6 minutes) of Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of Oversight, Investigations, and Management.

What he describes is quite grave and every American should listen carefully about the state of our cyber insecurity that poses a real and significant threat to our economy and national security.

We are under attack by cyber criminals, terrorists, and hostile nation states. 

Our adversaries seek to and can paralyze our critical infrastructure, steal our intellectual property, conduct espionage, and access our personal and financial information. 

The collapse of our military networks, financial system, energy, transportation, and electricity "is not science fiction."

The cyber attacks are "real, stealth, and persistent, and can devastate our nation." 

It is "not a matter of if, but when a Cyber Pearl Harbor will occur."

And "we have been fortunate that up until this point that cyber attacks on our country have not caused a cataclysmic event."

I read from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011) that cybersecurity has taken a back seat after 9/11 to the War on Terror as well as the economic fight after the recession of 2008, with the result that "the United States is unprepared to defend itself."

Chairman McCaul critically states at the end of his opening statement, "Let's do something meaningful [now] because it is not a tolerable situation!"
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February 21, 2014

Can You Trust Social Media?

Interesting article in BBC about a project underway to develop a system that will rate information on the Internet as trustworthy or not. 

Considering how quickly we get information from the Net and how easy it is to start crazy rumors, manipulate financial investors, or even cause a near panic, it would be good to know whether the source is legitimate and the information has been validated. 

Are we simply getting someone mouthing off on their opinions or what they think may happen or perhaps they are unknowingly spreading false information (misinformation) or even purposely doing it (disinformation)?

Depending how the Internet is being used--someone may be trying to get the real word out to you (e.g. from dissidents in repressive regimes) or they may be manipulating you (e.g. hackers, criminals, or even terrorists). 

To have a reliable system that tells us if information being promulgated is good or not could add some credibility and security online. 

What if that system though itself is hacked? Then lies can perhaps be "verified" as truth and truth can be discredited as falsehood. 

The Internet is dangerous terrain, and as in the life in general, it is best to take a cautious approach to verify source and message. 

The next cyber or kinetic attack may start not with someone bringing down the Internet, but rather with using it to sow confusion and disarm the masses with chaos. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 19, 2014

Jewish History At A Glance

I really like this poster graphic outlining Jewish history and key figures from Genesis until modern times. 

While there is already a lot of information on here such major events in Jewish history, world events, Jewish historical figures, Jewish literature and Jewish population, I would suggest adding major Jewish contributions to the world from Einstein to Freud, from Columbis to Salk. 

Also, I found that 23% of all Noble Prizes (or 193 people) between 1901 and 2013 were awarded to people of Jewish descent--and the awards were across the fields of chemistry, economics, literature, peace, physics, and medicine. 

We are not a very large people--just .2%--in terms of population, but we have a very rich history--a mixture of persecution and contribution. 

Thank you Minna Blumenthal for sending me the link to this!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Odyeda)
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February 17, 2014

Alert, Alert, And More Alerts

No this is not an alert, but some strategic thinking about alerts. 

As a kid, we get our first alerts usually from the fire alarm going off in school and practicing the buddy system and safely evacuating. 

As adults, we are used to get so many types of alerts:

- Homeland Security threat alerts
- Breaking news alerts
- Emergency/Disaster alerts
- Severe weather alerts
- Smog alerts
- Transportation delay alerts
- Accident alerts
- Fraud alerts
- Economic and financial alerts
- Amber missing child alerts
- Internet security alerts
- Power loss alerts
- Home or business intruder alerts
- Fire alerts
- Carbon Monoxide alerts
- Medical/health alerts
- Chemical spill alerts
- Product safety or recall alerts
- Unsafe drinking water alerts
- Active shooter alerts
- Work closure alerts
- Parking garage alerts
- Dangerous marine life alerts
- Dangerous current or undertow alerts
- Air raid siren alerts
- Solar eclipse alerts
- Meteorite or falling space debris alerts
- Special sale or promotional event alerts

With the arrival of highly successful, mass social media applications like Twitter, we have alerts aggregated for us and listed chronologically as things are happening real-time. 

The brilliance of the current Twitter-type alerting is that we can sign up to follow whatever alerts we are interested in and then have a streaming feed of them.  

The alerts are short--up to 140 characters--so you can quickly see the essence of what is happening or ignore what is irrelevant to you. 

When more space is needed to explain the details behind an alert, typically a (shortened) URL is included, which if you click on it takes you to a more in depth explanation of the event or item. 

So alerts are a terrific balance between short, attention grabbing headlines and links to more detail, as needed. 

What is also great about the current alerting mechanism is that you can provide concise alert information, including:

- Message source (for ensuring reliability)
- Guidance (for providing immediate instruction on response). 
- Hazard (for specifying the type of incident)
- Location (for identifying geographic or mapping locality)
- Date/time (for implications as to its currency)
- Importance (for determining severity such as catastrophic, critical, etc.)

While we remain ever, hyper-vigilant, we need to be careful not to become anxiety-ridden, or at some point, simply learn to tune it all out, so we can actually live life and get stuff done.

It's good to know what's going on out there, but can too much information ever become a bad thing? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 16, 2014

Some Mighty Big Shoes To Fill

If you're ever feeling like a big shot--remember there are always others out there who are bigger than you. 

_________________________

We walk in the footsteps of the giants who came before us. 

We walk among colleagues who are superior to us.

We walk before future generations who will certainly humble us. 

We walk in the sight of G-d, our creator and master, who bestows all divine benevolence to us. 

_________________

Now those are some mighty big shoes! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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How Our Colony On Mars Will Get Built


Absolutely amazing development in robotics...

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University researchers have developed autonomous robots inspired by termites or ants. 

They can build complex structures by working in a group or swarm.

Each robot is independent, yet by being programmed with the target structure, they work harmoniously together to build the structure without further guidance. 

They have sensors along with a set of rules that enable them to interact with each other and the environment to get the job done. 

They can even build stairs to enable themselves to get to higher levels of the structure and add the next set of building bricks. 

The robots are 8" by 4.5" with pinwheel tires for traction and are powered by off-the-shelf motors.

"Each robot 'walks around the structure until it sees something that needs to be done and then does it...they can recognize errors and correct them.'"

Perhaps, the robots can not only learn from the termites, but we can learn from the robots. ;-)
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February 15, 2014

Another Day In The Middle East

It can be hard for a regular person to understand the course of events in the Middle East--I certainly don't!

I recognize that I don't know what I don't know, but with all due respect, it would be great if we could all better understand where we are going there. 

- On the 9/11, we were attacked by Al Qaeda hijackers, 15 of 19 of whom were Saudi Arabian, yet after 9/11, we didn't go after Saudi Arabia, but instead overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

- However, early in the 1980's Iran-Iraq War, we supported Iraq against Iran and permitted the sale of American arms to Hussein. 

- By overthrowing Saddam, in effect we established a Shiite-lead Iraq, right next to a fundamentalist Shiite Iran with a history of conflict with America. 

- In subsequent conflicts, it is not clear whether we are supporting the secularists or the fundamentalists:

a) In Syria, we have been supporting "moderate" Sunni's (although often seen aligned to Al Qaeda) against Bashar al-Assad, and what is considered the "secular Ba'ath party."

b) In Egypt, we withheld military and economic support after the overthrew of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose aims include establishing a state ruled by Sharia law, and an organization that is aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah, both listed as terrorist organizations.

- In Iran, in an attempt to move towards peaceful nuclear disarmament, we are relaxing sanctions on a country that former President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union, declared part of the Axis of Evil (2002), and with an agreement that is viewed as not better than having a 50-50 chance of success

If you find this a lot to take in, you are not alone. ;-)

All opinions my own.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 14, 2014

She's Got Bling

My daughter, Rebecca is usually very earthy. 

However, I convinced her to get these "bling" sneakers from Guess. 

It was out of her usual comfort zone, but it took her about 3 minutes to admit it--she loves 'em!

Good job Daddy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Snow, No Snow

Great photograph by my daughter, Michelle Blumenthal. 

Washington, D.C. area digging out of Snowmageddon 2014. 

Talking about taking the middle-of-the-road approach... ;-)
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I Quit, And Here's My Clothes

This was a funny picture on the Metro in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. 

Apparently some people threw off their Costco jackets (I think with name tags and all).

One jacket was on the train floor next to the heating vents and the other lying on the seat next to the window, 

They were not neatly folded, but sort of angrily shoved there. 

As people got on the train looking for a seat, over and over their eyes did a widening and they paused, some said, "What's that? Did someone leave their clothes on the train?"

Two teenage girls and a boy started laughing and pointing.

No one would actually go near these--maybe they were afraid of germs or to get involved in whatever happened here. 

Well Costco, if you're looking for some of your long white jackets with emblem (one from your tire center), you may want to contact the lost and found in WMATA.

As for the employees, I don't think they are coming back. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 13, 2014

Combat Tires 4 Commerical Use


I love these combat-level tires on the Polaris Sportsman All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).

These tires are non-pneumatic, never go flat, and are nearly indestructible. 

They were developed for the military to absorb combat damage, navigate difficult terrains, and take lots of impact. 

No spare needed!

Can I have these James Bond tires on my family car? ;-)
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Who Do You Want To Be?

Walking through the halls of one of the local schools, there was this awesome display of cutout hands. 

Each hand, done by a student, was supposed to represent who they wanted to be as people. 

In the center of each was a core saying/belief of the student written on the palm.

And then on each of the five fingers was their personal aspirations:

Emotionally
Physically
Socially
Intellectually
Spiritually

I thought this was a really cool assignment to think and focus on where we're going with our lives and what our personal goals are. 

Like a mini-personal architecture, these hands are the hands of our young people who have their lives ahead of them and the energy and opportunity to shape their futures. 

No, none of us has control over the future, but we can do our part to shape who we are as human beings, as this student says: 

"I am who I want to be."

Of course, we have to choose wisely, work hard, and go for it! 

We never know if there are any true second chances.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 9, 2014

Go 2 Shul

My wonderful dad is very religious and enjoys going to shul (i.e. synagogue) every day--multiple times a day. 

I love him for who he is and respect his deep religious beliefs and devotion to G-d--my dad truly serves and walks with Hashem.

And I hope and pray that my Dad has many more happy and healthy years to go to synagogue--"Until 120 years," G-d bless!

Often, Dad reminds me how important it is to attend services, especially since I am a more private person who would rather connect with G-d on a more personal level. 

To each his own and live and let live.  

My wife saw this license plate today and my daughter took a photo of it. 

Apparently, this is someone else who either wants to go 2 shul or wants others to go as well. 

I'm not sure, but it even looks like they wrote or carved the word "synagogue" on the bumper of their car as well. 

Anyway as long as everyone drives safely, it is great to find innovative ways to get the message out there. ;-)
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Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo..."I don't know what we're yelling about!!"

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger--because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a "righteous anger").

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can't handle their sh*t (i.e. "they are losing it").

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you're about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell...this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. "they'll look for an easier target"). 

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month--this includes shouting, cursing, calling them "lazy," "stupid," or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less. 

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates. 

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do "silent yelling--sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don't yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless. 

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, "Sometimes--I don't want to say scream at them--but you have to be...forceful."

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down--way down--using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it. 

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, "Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations." ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)
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February 8, 2014

Take Your Advice And Shove It

Great piece in the Wall Street Journal today on getting and giving advice. 

This was a funny article about how most advice comes not from the wise, but from the idiots trying to push their own agendas, make a buck off you, or bud into your business. 

When people try to tell you what to do, "the subtext is 'You're an idiot for not already doing it."

But who wants to do what someone else tells them to do--unless you a robotic, brainless, loser!

Every manager should already know that everyone hates a control freak micromanager--and that they suck the creative lifeblood out of the organization. 

The flip side is when you give people the freedom to express their talents and take charge of their work activities, you motivate them to "own it!"

Real meaning from work comes from actually having some responsibility for something where the results matter and not just marching to the tune of a different drummer. 

The best leaders guide the organization and their people towards a great vision, but don't choke off innovation and creativity and sticking their fat fingers in people's eyes. 

The flip side of advice not getting hammered on you, is when you have the opportunity to request it. 

People who aren't narcissistic, control freaks seek out other people's opinions on how to approach a problem and to evaluate the best solutions. 

This doesn't mean that they aren't smart and capable people in and of themselves, but rather that they are actually smarter and more capable because they augment their experience and thinking with that of others--vetting a solution until they find one that really rocks!

While decision making by committee can lead to analysis paralysis or a cover your a*s (CYA) culture, the real point to good governance is to look at problems and solutions from diverse perspectives and all angles before jumping head first into what is really a pile of rocks under the surface. 

Does vetting always get you the right or best decision? 

Of course not, because people hijack the process with the biggest mouth blowing the hottest stream. 

But if you can offset the power jocks and jerky personalities out there, then you really have an opportunity to benefit from how others look at things. 

While the collective wisdom can be helpful, in the end, all real grown ups show personal independence, self-sufficiency, and a mind of their own, and take responsibility for their decisions and actions. 

We can learn from others, but we learn best from our own mistakes...no pain, no gain. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2014

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California. 

Yes, "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" and in San Jose in 2013!

Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and "surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley."

In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.

What if this was a broader attack--what could have happened? 

Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.

According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), "if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S."

Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in "prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years."

Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?

Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid. 

"Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage." 

The Former FERC Chairman said, "What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem."  

Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time? 

On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?


Our Achilles' heels--is anyone even paying serious attention?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic)
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Beautifully Icy

This is a photo I took this morning of the icicles on the tree on another cold morning around Washington, D.C. 

Hope you enjoy,

Andy
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February 4, 2014

From Flat Tires To Wounded Warriors


Totally awesome new technology breakthrough for treating hemorraging patients from the battlefield to the obstetrics ward. 

Popular Science reports how a pocket-size syringe filled with sponges can stop bleeding in seconds. 

Instead of having to apply wads of gauze and apply pressure"that doesn't always work...[and] medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again," the injection of sponges into the wound "boosts survival and spares injured soldiers from additional pain."

This same technology developed by RevMedx for the military is being adapted for postpartum hemmorages, and I would imagine could eventually be used in other serious bleeding cases whether caused by accident, trauma, in surgery, or other medical necessity.

The sponges are about 1-centimeter circles and are coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance.

Once injected, the sponges expand to about 20 times their size to fill the wound, apply enough pressure to stop the bleending, and clings to moist surfaces, so they aren't forced out by gushing blood. 

The sponges have X-shaped markers on each that are visible on an x-ray image to ensure none are left inside. 

The solution is sterile, biocompatible and in the future may be biodegradable so they don't have to be removed from the body. 

And to think that the inspiration was Fix-a-Flat foam for emergency tire repair. ;-)
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February 3, 2014

Metro Opens (Wrong) Doors

MetroOpensDoors.com is a website name for WMATA trains in/around Washington, D.C. 

So this was Metro opening the train doors today.

Unfortunatey, it was the wrong doors--the ones facing the tracks, and not the side with the platform.

I took this photo with the doors open on the wrong side. 

I wondered what would have happened if the trains had been full and someone was leaning up or against the doors--they could've actually fallen off/out of the train. 

Where exactly are the safety features so this doesn't happen? 

Anyway, we ended up being offloaded from the train, but at least no one that I know of ended up as train kill. :-(
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February 2, 2014

If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem

So here is Israel on the map in the red.

You can barely see it, right?

It is surrounded by 22 Arab countries. 

Israel is 1/16 of 1% of the surrounding Arab countries.

After the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were murdered (1 of every 3 Jews in the entire world), Israel has been attacked again and again by invading Arab countries calling for their utter annihilation. 

By the grace of G-d, the determination of the Israel Defense Forces, and help from righteous countries like the United States, Israel has been able to survive. 

But now, Israel is under a new threat--coming from the the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The new tactic of Israel's enemies is that if they cannot defeat Israel easily on the battlefield, then they will try to conquer them by a campaign of eroding economic and political pressure and sanctions on Israel. 

For millennia, Israel and the Jewish people have been the minority and have repeatedly faced destruction, murder, expulsion, inquisition, crusades, forcible conversion, Holocaust, and more.

The BDS movement is another attempt to conquer this tiny country and add it to the trove of the surrounding Arab nations and "throw the Jews into the sea."

Thankfully, America and other friends and allies see that Israel seeks to live in peace and security, and not the oppression of anyone.

Hopefully, Congress, in their wisdom, will propose and enact appropriate legislation to stop the destructive action of the BDS movement, and will call for and mandate the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of any country or entity that does this to Israel.

As it says in Psalms 137:5 -6--"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skills! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!"

(Source Photo: here with attribution to ScaryIsrael.com)
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February 1, 2014

We're Dead And We Don't Even Know It

We all know the frightening threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) heading over the ice caps--from Russia, China, and even North Korea someday) and landing in our "backyards" destroying life as we know it. 

But what The Washington Beacon reports about the arms race to new ultra-high speed missiles means we are probably dead already and don't even know it. 

These new missiles being developed by China, Russia, India, and the U.S. are designed to be so fast, so small, go so low ("ground-hugging), and be so maneuverable with precision guided systems that they may completely evade all our missile defenses (long-range interceptors, medium-range sea and land-based interceptors, and short-range, near target interceptors).

China tested one of these on Jan. 9--it would sit atop an ICBM and "then glide and maneuver at speeds of up to 10 times the speed of sound from near space en route to its target."

It "takes off towards its target from near space, or less than 62 miles from earth."

Traveling at Mach 10 or 7,680 miles per hour, the warhead would hit accordingly to my calculation in under 30 seconds!

These hypersonic weapons can be loaded on the last stages of ICBMS, submarine missiles, aboard strategic bombers, on cruise missiles, and even on surveillance drones. 

This is the "hypersonic arms race" and the winner has asymmetric warfare advantage and can take out their opponent before the other guy even knows what hit them.

The good news is that the U.S. is testing the Lockheed HTV-2, Hypersonic Technology Vehicle, capable of Mach 20 (13,000 mph), and within the next 10-15 years we expect "rapid kill" to be able to "attack any location on earth within an hour." 

Note: the diameter of the earth is only 7,926 miles so if we can achieve Mach 20, it will actually only take us about 36 minutes!

So conventional missile defense is a bust, which leaves kinetic weapons and lasers (high-speed hit-to-kill capabilities) as our last defensive hope, as Ian Easton of the Project 2049 Institute said, "If there is a great power war in this century, it will not begin with the sound of explosions on the ground and in the sky, but rather with the bursting of kinetic energy and the flashing of laser light in the silence of outer space."

What follows though is anything that gets through these defenses rings will destroy everything down here before you would even have enough time to read this post.

In a sense, we're all dead already, and this is a very small foreshadowing testament. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jonathan McIntosh)
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