April 30, 2014

Crooked x 2

First, some beautiful flowers from Washington, D.C. 

Thought these were awesome, even though the gardner did a little bit of a crooked job here. 

And when it comes to crooked, I overheard a funny story in the locker room the other day.

These school students were talking about getting caught stealing something in a local store.

One says that he got spotted on the surveillance cameras and that they even have facial recognition now, but he's okay on that because he was wearing a cap. 

Another kid in the group says "why didn't you just tell them you didn't know you couldn't take it!" 

Some very sophisticated crooks we got here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 29, 2014

My New Mug Makes Me Happy

Florida - Sun, Palm Trees, Beach, Nature, Adventure...

I miss you, but I have this great mug ala Starbucks to remind me.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 28, 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

I was so humbled to hear the story of survival of Dr. Alfred Munzer today at the Holocaust Memorial Observance.

Dr. Munzer was hidden for the first four years of his life from the Nazis by a righteous Indonesian family in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, Dr. Munzer visited Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to share his awesome story of humanity and compassion in the face of Nazi brutality and genocide. 

Dr. Munzer told his story today through photos of his Jewish and Indonesian family's life during the Holocaust, and related how his father and sisters were murdered by the Nazis; from his immediate family, only he and his mother survived to come to America in 1958.

I was so inspired by Dr. Munzer's story and encourage everyone to hear it at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where Dr. Munzer volunteers. 

When people help other people, even at their own peril, that represents true globalization of the human race and the unity of all mankind. ;-)

April 27, 2014

Heaven To Look Forward To

Took the family today to see the movie Heaven Is Real.

We were all crying like babies, including me. 

Loved it!

When the boy has a near-death experience (NDE) and sees heaven, he comes back with stories about it being like here but more beautiful, where everyone is young, and relatives long gone hug him.

In heaven, there is no hate or fear--only love. 

It was eye-opening, when his father, a pastor, goes to the hospital to say the last prayers with a dying man and the pastor asks, "Do you have any regrets?" and the old man answers, "I regret everything!"

While living for our selfish satisfaction and fun may be great for a moment's high, it is certainly not a life of meaning and purpose--and will not open the gates of heaven to us. 

That life is hard is portrayed in the movie--with loss, physical hurt, and financial hardships.

But when these are viewed in the bigger picture as tests in life for us to overcome in order to merit a heaven that awaits us--perhaps this gives us some added perspective. 

In the movie, as in real life, there are those who are angry at others and G-d for what they lost, and it is our challenge to replace that anger with understanding, forgiveness, and love of each other and the Almighty. 

Regretting everything is tragic, but probably not that unrealistic for many of us...particularly in a world where we constantly strive for our individualized versions of perfection. 

In the end, I think our failures weigh on us and it's challenging to see past them to appreciate our successes as well--in whatever measure we've achieved them.

Let's face it, it is not easy to maintain 100% purity of heart amidst a world of lust, envy, and sin--but that should not take away from us constantly trying. 

Heaven awaits--even the imperfect. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 26, 2014

Luxury Survival

Interesting underground survival shelters by Vivos--and they are built for luxury. 

With everything from cushy entertainment theater rooms, indoor swimming pools, upscale kitchens and bathrooms, gyms, and stocked with clothing, bedding, toiletries, survival gear, and food and medical supplies for a year--this is for planning to survive and thrive. 

They have dual generators, multiple water systems, airtight nuclear biological and chemical filtration systems, and medical and dental facilities. 

This is communal living for 80-5,000 people. Shelters are co-owned--and it costs about $50,000 for an adult and $35,000 for children. Vivos will also make you a private shelter, but obviously this is a more expensive option. 

Is this an insurance policy for you and your family to protect against the ultimate catastrophes or is this simply preying on people's worst fears? 

You'll have to decide for yourself--and in the end, it's a gamble either way. ;-)

Treat People Nice

On a recent college visit, I saw this sign hanging on a door. 

The quote is by Maya Angelou and it is very powerful:

"People will forget what you said,

People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel."

As human beings in this world, we come and go.

Our time here is finite. 

We will be replaced by others.

What is truly memorable about us is our relationships and how we treat others. 

When we show kindness to people or when we are cruel to others--these things are never forgotten. 

Our interactions are the mark of who we are inside--do we sincerely care about others and the bigger picture or are we just plain selfish?

How about you--can you remember:

  • how that parent who loved you made you feel? 
  • how that teacher who taught you made you feel? 
  • how that friend who played with you made you feel?
  • how that boss who mentored you made you feel? 
  • how that clergy who inspired you made you feel?
  • how that spouse who was your companion made you feel?
  • how those children who looked up to you made you feel? 
  • how those colleagues who supported your work made you feel?

I'm sure you can also remember times when people made you feel not so good--perhaps, you scowled or even cursed them under your breath. 

Getting results in life is not enough--we can't do it by stepping on other people and really being successful that way.

Empathy and kindness or a hard heart and cruelty--you will be remembered one way or another. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 25, 2014

Most Novel Way To Make Hot Dogs

Someone sent this to me...

It's got to be the most novel way of making hot dogs.

>>>In a coffee maker!

The dogs in the water, and the buns on top. 

Where do you put the kraut?

Enjoy your meal. ;-)


April 22, 2014

Riding The T-Rex

Rebecca got me on another mini-adventure today.

The T-Rex scooter had only 3 wheels, but packed quite a punch. 

We navigated Las Olas and the Fort Lauderdale Beach pretty good in this thing. 

So low to the ground, my hand could touch it, and no windshield so everything sort of just flies right through. 

It was only an hour, but as we in this touristy-way waved at the passerbys and speed around town next to the other hulking vehicles, weaving and beeping on this crazy horn, it was a fun time and a good memory. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Bird Tries Again And Again

My daughter, Rebecca and I watched an amazing sight yesterday.

We sat on the beach before sunset to enjoy the ocean and sand without the crowds. 

It wasn't cold, but the wind was blowing somewhat strong toward the south.

There were four kite surfers enjoying the gusts and gliding over the water at enormous speeds, and curving this way and that. 

But this isn't what really got our attention.

Instead, it was this one little white bird...I don't know specifically the type, but if I had to guess I'd say it was a dove. 

The dove was flying not with the wind southernly, but against it to the north. 

In the heavy wind, it would sort of hold it's position for a little, and then try with all it's might to fly north.

But the wind was too strong, and it kept tiring and then literally nosediving--head first, straight down like off a cliff--into the water, bam!

We watched this and thought at first what is with this crazy bird--and laughed.

But over and over again this played out--I think we watched this for nearly an hour!

After each attempt, the bird would pick itself out of the ocean water again, fly back south a little seemingly to get some momentum--only to try again and end up on it's face in the water. 

Reflecting on this, the bird tried again and again to make headway, no matter how many times it fell flat on it's face.

I thought this is a good lesson in life--not to give up even when things seems difficult. 

If this little bird could do it--so could we--and eventually succeed at whatever we set our minds to. 

If the white little bird really was a dove--the symbol for peace--then what better story to keep trying until you succeed and make flight even against the strong wind. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 21, 2014

A Little Alligator Mischief

I was bad...but it was all in good jest. ;-)

(Source Video: Selfie)


Disease Of The Ordinary

Wow, I love these glasses--red, big, and with wings!

I asked the store owner about them, and he said he gets these mostly for (window) display purposes.

But one lady actually bought a pair similar to this for a big event she was going to. 

I think these would certainly make a statement (however crazy) when someone walks into the room wearing these. 

Maybe that's the point for many people--to stand out!

People want to be noticed, special, and be thought of as something or as somebodies. 

Being 1 of 7 billion people is not very satisfying--so how do we differentiate ourselves?

  • The fancy house and cars we have
  • The clothing and accessories we wear and carry
  • The trophy wife or husband that hangs on us
  • Our own physical good looks, fitness, and skills
  • The prestigious university we went to and the degrees we possess
  • Climbing the career ladder and our titles and offices
  • Our pedigree from kings, clergy, hollywood, rich, or otherwise famous or successful people
  • The children (and grandchildren) that we rear to be smart, successful, well-integrated, etc.?
  • How religious we are, how much charity we give, the kindness we show others?

This is something that we all struggle with as human beings--what is a life of purpose, meaning and how do we know that we've achieved it?  

I think the problem for many is that we measure ourselves by what we have and not who we are. Perhaps, this is a clear mistaken case of quantity over quality.  

Down in Florida, I see so many "haves" and "have nots"--but it's not enough for the haves to have, but if they aren't showing it off, getting stares, having people talk about them, then they seem to feel uncomfortably ordinary. 

What is this disease of the ordinary that people must ever run to escape from--and even with the reddest, wildest, wing glasses or whatever--will they ever feel truly happy and satisfied inside?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 20, 2014

Song and Dance in Ft. Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale is not quiet and conservative this time of year.

Between Passover, Easter, Spring Break, and the end of the snowbird season--the beach, restaurants, stores, and streets were quite lively.

This one restaurant had some nice entertainment with this guy playing guitar and this lady belly dancing and handling a sword and handkerchief--yeah, don't ask.

At the end of the 2nd video, this weird guy in a large orange cowboy hat sort of just shows up--unfortunately, the cameraman (me) was having some technical difficulty focusing the smartphone. ;-)

Swim ~ Splash ~ Swim

At the pool this morning, the fresh clean water was pouring in.

Swimming in the hot sun, I headed straight for the cool splash.

The water was frothing white against the blue background.

As it hit the pool, it created this amazing bubbling beneath the surface.

I swam under it a number of times and came up through the bubbling fresh water. 

Sort of felt like I was swimming in a waterfall in the Amazon or something exotic like that. 

Hey, I can imagine...but it really was amazing with the water, the sun, the air--felt so alive!

I am thankful to G-d for allowing me this wonderful moment today to feel his beauty in the world. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

April 19, 2014

Score One For Ocean Rescue

Not often that I get to see a real life ocean rescue.

Don't know why this kid almost drowned, but he almost did.

It was interesting to see the various rescue services come to help save him.

The lifeguards went out for him and got him back to shore; the paramedics administrated on scene medical help; and the police kept overall order. 

But I think what really struck me was how uninterested most of the beach goers seemed.

Maybe I am expecting too much, but people just seemed at best curious, but not really concerned.

Yet at Spring Break, I have a feeling the booze, drugs, and sex overshadowed this real life and death event for this young man. 

I know these kids work hard in college and probably need to blow off some steam, but the callousness was still striking.

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Hooters' Training

I thought this was a funny-sad photo.

This dad took his two kids (twins?) out to eat. 

The eatery is Hooters. 

The young, attractive, scantily clad waitresses in the orange shorts were serving them. 

It may be fine for the adult, but it didn't seem so okay for the little kids. 

Not that I'm so Mr. Perfect, but  couldn't help reflect that what we teach our children is important. 

This wasn't Ronald McDonald's, Subway, or Chipotle.

What was the lessons for these kids?

I remember when I would argue with my dad (still to this day) about religion and seeing seemingly "religious" people do things wrong (sometimes terribly wrong), and he would say to me, "You be the example!"

Maybe that's sort of the point--is that the way we live is the lessons we showcase to others.

Each of us has the opportunity to lead by example...that's what leadership fundamentally is.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 18, 2014

Jewish is Super

So with the shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland Park, Kansas this week right before Passover, and the near simultaneous "grotesque" targeting of Jews by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, we are reminded that while Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt (thank G-d), we are still unfortunately targeted by evil people around the world. 

In the Kansas City incident, I read how the white supremacist shooter went right up to a lady visiting her mother at the old-age home and asked her "Are you Jewish?" And when she replied in the affirmative (even though she was not), he shoot her dead on the spot. 

It turns out this lady was an occupational therapist that helped blind children...what kind of monster would just murder someone (anyone) like this? 

Similarly in eastern Ukraine, leaflets are being handed out demanding that Jews register in the government office, pay special taxes, and declare their property or face deportation. Here too, we witness the devilish markings of some that are repetitive of their deplorable past as Nazi collaborators, concentration camp guards, and murders.  

I read yesterday, that not only Jews, but Christians are being targeted in the Middle East with churches burned, those of faith being driven from their homes and ruthlessly murdered, except in Israel where the Christian population is actually increasing and thriving. 

While Superman may not be Jewish (I know of no Jews on planet Krypton), being Jewish is super--and for that matter being any person of faith and dignity is super!  Hate mongers and murders of today, like the evil oppressors of yesteryear--know that truth and justice and the 10 plagues of Egypt are just a {pow!} and {bam!} away--believe it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 17, 2014

You're Not All That

So they say that all sin is rooted in arrogance. 

We get too big for our britches and think we can do whatever we want including stepping on others and defying our maker. 

An interesting article in Harvard Business Review reminds us to beware of narcissism and hubris. 

Narcissism is a character disorder where because of feelings of inadequancy from childhood, people have to self-promote themselves every which way toSunday--they are "insufferably self-centered."

Hubris is a reactive disorder where due to past success and accolades from others, we become overconfidant, until the luck changes "toppling from their pedestals" and shrinking their ego back down to size."

I like the reminders from HBR cautioning about these:

- "Have more than thou showest; speak less than thou knowest." - Shakespear

- "Humble pie should be the only dessert served."

It's one thing to have decent self-esteem anchored in your knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, and it's another to think and act like you have all the answers--none of us do. 

If your showing it off, it's likely a turn off. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jampa)

April 15, 2014

Futuristic Highway

Some really great ideas here for the highway of the future.

These are the inspiration of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde.

To save energy and increase safety, there are four concepts presented:

- Glow in the dark road markings (i.e. lane dividers) with photo-luminescent paint that charges during the day and lights up at night.

- Weather symbols on the road with temperature-responsive paint, so for example, when the temperature falls below a certain level, the roads show snowflake symbols to indicate that they may be icy. 

- Motion-interactive lights on the highway that light up when cars approach and are powered by the draft of the moving cars. 

- Induction lanes that can charge car batteries as they run along them and reenergize the cars for further travel. 

Already, there is a 500 meter stretch of road in Oss, Netherlands with the glow-in-the-dark road markings--these are almost radioactive green in color and give a futuristic Tron look to the roads.

Now the question is when can we get these high-tech upgrades for I-495? 

What an awesome high-tech display befitting our nation's capital and maybe it would help with traffic as well!  ;-)

April 14, 2014

NYC at Passover

I love this picture of NYC. 

My daughter, Michelle, took this photo while visiting there for Passover. 

The skyscrapers, taxis, people -- all the hustle and bustle. 

New York, NY - it's a helluva town. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

How Do You Kill A Pothole?

With a pothole killer, of course. 

This is a funny truck roaming around Washington, D.C. 

Even the phone number tells the story...dial 1-877-Fix Road. 

All American too - red, white, and blue with the stars and stripes.

Bang, Bang. Pothole Dead. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 12, 2014

Pain Pain Go Away

Pain Pain Go Away, Don't Come Back Another Day.

I saw this ad about controlling back pain. 

The wincing face on the back was very effective. 

Given that back pain is  so common, I am sure many people can empathize with this.

For almost a year, I have been suffering with some arthritic pain although not back-related that has been horrible.

I never realized what this even was!

I'm at the point, where I feel surgery, with G-d's help, is the only answer. 

Of course, I am not keen to have surgery and keep thinking how I may be able to put it off. 

And then the inflammation flare-up and pain comes back and I rethink this again that I have to go forward and just take care of this. 

I feel that I am too young for these problems, but life does not ask when or what.

Certainly, I am thankful it is nothing worse--and there are so many things worse.

And I appreciate that there are modern treatments these days that probably didn't really exist just 20-years ago. 

Not sure exactly, what people did "in the olden days" when they had these things and just had to live (or die) with them. 

I just want to be pain free and completely healthy again, so I can fully enjoy all the things that I always did. 

Please G-d. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 11, 2014

We're Not Deadbeats

Good book review in the Wall Street Journal on America's Fiscal Constitution by Bill White.

The main idea is that we have gone from a nation where fiscal discipline and paying off ones debts was a valued tradition to one now where excess rules and profligate borrowing runs through our veins. 

Both personal and national debt were viewed as a means of last resort and not something to be proud of, but rather as something done out of necessity to get through tough times. 

On a personal level, we only borrowed what we needed and we payed it back on time or even early.  Poverty was just one step away or even akin to servitude.  

Similarly, on a national level, public debt was viewed as a safety net to preserve the union (i.e. war), territorial integrity (e.g. Louisiana Purchase), or in a severe recession (i.e. to maintain the government's ability to spend in the short term). 

The best option was seen as "pay as you go," with the alternative, under limited circumstances, to "pay as soon as you can."

However, the value placed on self and national discipline and sufficiency was replaced with elements of entitlement, greed, and waste. 

The problem is once you have inequity in the system, then people feel the unfairness of it all, and give up caring about the system itself and just want to get what they see as their fair share. 

Some politicians cater to these feelings of relative deprivation and are no longer viewed positively for fiscal constraint and ensuring our economic security, but rather "politicians gain favor by spending money without having to raise unpopular taxes."

In essence, the government can give people more now, and they don't have to pay for it until future generations--hence the ability to buy citizen's political consent and even win elections by increasing the treasure chest even temporarily. 

No, this is not China raising the fortunes of the middle class to keep the Communist Party in power, but rather this is us in the U.S. of A racking up tens of trillions of dollars in debt to keep people happy now (forget the future generations, let them fend for themselves). 

Shake hands, kiss babies, and hand out dollar bills--give me, give me give me! 

What has happened to us fighting hard and driving into the future on our own feet--together in strength and not as a debtor nation getting handouts from anyone that will lend us. 

Soon, the Fed will be raising interest rates, and with a greater and greater national deficit to pay on, interest payments have the real potential to spiral out of control and leave our economy in shambles. 

Like a credit card with interest payments that eclipse the principle borrowed, soon you are in over your head and there is nowhere to go but Chapter 11. 

We're not an inherently debtor nation, and we sure don't want to be a deadbeat nation--isn't it better to have what we really have financially and be who we really are and value?   

Let's leave our children and grandchildren economic and national security and not a towering pile of shameless debt, from mom and dad with love.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 10, 2014

Which Part of "Men's Room" Don't You Understand?

So after my swim, I'm in the men's locker room

There are dozens of folks showering and changing. 

All of a sudden in strolls a lady.

First she walks one way through the locker room--looking up and down the aisles.

Then she walks the other way through again--glancing this way and that way. 

The men are looking at each other like what in G-d's name is she doing. 

Some of the men start yelling at her to get out (maybe the others are sort of glad she's there)!

She sort of nods at them, turns unapologetically and strolls back out. 

The men are bantering back and forth now--like what was that all about?  Is she nuts or something?

On the way out of the facility, I stop by the front desk and ask innocently, "Do you know that their is a women walking around the men's locker room?"

One supervisor goes, "Oh, that happens. The men do that too--going into the lady's locker room."

Oh really--is this a professional swim club or a Roman orgy?

The other supervisor, a little more reasonable here, says if someone can point her out, he'll have a talk with her. 

The kid behind the desk says, "Thanks for letting us know."

The funny thing is there is a sign in the locker room that prohibits photos and videos--but, I guess in-person viewing is permissible--good to know. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Mess At Your Own Risk

This guy is obviously pretty serious about not messing with his car. 

"Touch this car again. You are laser sighted. You will be shot in the face!!!"

I remember in NY, people messed with the cars all the time--nasty stuff like backing or plowing into your bumpers when trying to park, keying cars, slashing tires, knocking off the mirrors, egging the cars, and one guy I remember even had his car stolen and the couple actually had sex in his back seat!

The stupid steering wheels locks to the brakes were a joke for security, the noisy annoying car alarms were so routine no one looked or cared, and LoJack helps you find the clunker again although you may never want to drive it anyway after what the crooks would do to it.

Not sure this sign will help ward off all the crap that people do--somehow they always find another way to be jerks with someone else's stuff.

Aside from James Bond's car that would explode if you tried to mess with it, does anyone else have any good ideas for car protection?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)


April 9, 2014

Hey Abrham!

Thanks Starbucks for writing Abrham on my breakfast purchase this morning. 

Apparently, religious sterotypes are alive and well with you. 

How about a little sensitivity training for your staff or do you guess biblical names for all your customers?

Don't worry though, it turns out that is my Hebrew name (and I'm Jewish and proud of it), although it's spelled like this: Avraham. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 8, 2014

Say It Loud

I'm not sure this guy had a lot to say.

But he was sure saying it loud. 

Cluck, cluck, cluck...hello, can you hear me???

One megaphone in each hand and another slung over his shoulder - that's three.

And he may actually have a fourth on the other shoulder - I couldn't see. 

Uh, how do you hold/use that many megaphones at one time--plus he's doing it balancing on the bicycle.

Hey, watch that foot, it's touching the ground. 

I think he's saying something like--serious noise pollution. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hydrant Hat

Yeah, a fire hydrant with a hat on.

What if all fire hydrants "wore" hats of different colors and styles (baseball cap, top hat, stetson, more)? 

Keeps the water warm in winter and serves as a stylish accoutrement to an important fire protection device. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 6, 2014

New York Deli Bread

No it's not my diet, just my impromptu spoofing of a song by Awkwafina. 

We took a hike to the local Kosher deli and it just sort of happened. 

Enjoying a beautiful, sunny Spring day and got a little inspired to try my hand at something new and fun. ;-) 

Not Bias, Just Plain Old Hatred

I read a book review in the Wall Street Journal on Profiles in Denial by William Storr about David Irving the notorious Holocaust denier. 

He is a "'revisionist' of all things World War II," but apparently is particularly keen on Holocaust denial, as someone who according to Wikipedia is an "anti-semite, and racist who...promotes neo-Nazism."

The Holocaust denial goes deep for Irving and even upon visiting Majdanek concentration camp, he tells his group "This is a mock-up of a gas chamber. Those cylinders are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide...There are handles on the inside of these doors," so the prisoners could let themselves out. 

Actually, the door was locked with huge bolts right on the outside and was sealed airtight, but to Irving it's as if these didn't exist. 

The book discusses how cognitive biases such as confirmation biases help people "find confirming evidence for our beliefs, ignoring or rationalizing away all discriminating evidence."

But I think this is really beyond the point with someone like Irving, who according to The Guardian is a discredited British historian and Nazi apologist" and was actually jailed for a "three-year prison sentence in Vienna for denying the Holocaust and the gas chambers of Auschwitz."

The State Prosecutor said of Irving "He's not a historian, he's a falsifier of history...this is about abuse of freedom of speech."

Judge Peter Liebtreau called Irving "a racist, an anti-semite, and a liar."

So this is no simple bias or mind game for Irving, but apparently a convenient way for him to pursue his hatreds under the guise that everything was and is really okay. 

So rather than "Never forget," is is far more beneficial for those that would wish it to happen again that they lull people to believe that it never even was to begin with. 

Interesting that another famous Holocaust denier is no less than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claimed the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, was a "myth" (Washington Post). 

By the way, Ahmadinejad also said "9/11 was an inside job."

People like Irving and Ahmadinejad are not about confirmation bias, but rather about distortion of truth to further their own evil destructive aims.

In the case of Ahmadinejad, it's that he wishes to see Israel be "wiped off the map" (New York Times).

And in the case of Irving, he has said, "there will...probably be another holocaust in the next thirty years...oh, and if the Jews are lucky, there will be a David Irving or Adolf Hitler [may their names be obliterated] to protect them" (The Independent).

Oh, G-d forbid! 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


April 5, 2014

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

- While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it's place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points. 

- Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn't necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected. 

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can't really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board. 

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college. 

She's a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I've seen in 25 years of professional experience. 

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more. 

But she doesn't just do this with me, but with all her customers.  

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn't just take their orders, but engages them as human beings. 

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other...and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I'd conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I'd probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job. 

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.  


Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos. 

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she'd never make "the cert" (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she's currently working in a coffee shop. 

Something is wrong that we can't easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don't have the perfect checklist answers. 

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it's not checklist-driven, then it's usually not at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

April 4, 2014

For The Love Of Animals

I read this incredible story in the Jerusalem Post about Denmark prohibiting Shechita (the Jewish kosher way to slaughter animals for food). 

What is amazing about this is:

1) Shechita is known as one of the most humane ways to slaughter animals for food. It involves a single rapid uninterrupted stroke across the throat with a super sharp knife. One of the reasons this method is used is precisely so that the animal does not feel any pain. This is unlike other common practices for slaughtering animals which include clubbing, electrifying, shooting, suffocation, and more. 

2) Denmark while prohibiting Shechita, permits bestiality/Zoophilia (human sex with animals). So bestiality, a very pagan-like practice, is legal in Denmark, even though it is prohibited under the penalty of death (for the person and the animal) in the Bible

So animal rape is okay in Denmark. And Judeo Christian laws and beliefs are not, especially when they actually protect the animals. Uh, something is rotten in the barn here. Or put another way:

Animals in the bedroom--Oh, no, no, no.

Animals ritually slaughtered for dinner--moo, moo, moo.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ed Schipul)


April 3, 2014

Liking My New Computer Tie

Funny..."Load Your Preferences." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Records Manager Appreciation Day!

Records Management is not about 45s, 33s, or 8-track music collections, but managing key document and electronic records. 

It's critically important for an organization to be able to archive and access needed information for managing their business, and enabling transparency and accountability. 

Managing records saves us time and money in the long run.

Moreover, as information workers in an information economy, information is power! And we need to be able to get to information, whenever and wherever we need it. 

While records may not be sexy unless you're Lady Gaga or Madonna, information is the lifeblood of the 21st century, so say thank you to your records management and information access professionals today! ;-)

April 2, 2014

Leadership Training, Where?

Rapid Learning Institute (RLI) has toilet training for leaders.

No, not toilet training, but T.O.I.L.E.T. training:


People are short on time for training, so this combines productive training with some downtime that "every worker engages in."

The kiosk incorporates an "eye-level WIFI-enabled tablet" which launches 6-10 minute rapid learning modules. 

This is a lot better than the Reader's Digest moment of yesteryear. 

So don't be fooled by the toilet in the video, this is rapid learning in quick chunks on important leadership topics such as employee engagement, communications, performance management, and more. 

The funny video is a neat advertising mechanism to drive the point home. ;-)

April 1, 2014

$5 to Plop Someone In the Face

Everyone in Washington, D.C. is Spring Crazy today. 

Outside, kids raising money for Strike Out Illiteracy. 

For $5 donation, you get to plop a plate full of whipped cream and chocolate syrup in someone's face. 

That's worth it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Do People Take The Cheese Off?

So my question of the day is why do people feel it's okay to take the cheese off the delicious macaronic AND cheese?

While I understand that it is the best part, isn't just a little bit of antisocial behavior that would drive people do something like this and leave everyone else with just the noodles underneath...

Anyway on the way back, one of my colleagues stopped me in the street to tell me some philosophy of life about how love makes the world go around, but revenge is the axis it turns on. Ouch@!

Perhaps this is April fools day making people a little snappy today. 

One last thought is from episode last week on The Vikings (great show on the History Channel)--excellent battle scene, but also memorable when the one of the characters says "Bad news travels a great deal slower than good news."

Maybe that's why no one told me before about the missing cheese on the macaroni today? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)