May 31, 2015

Light Up The Night

This was a beautiful piece in the New York Times today.

It was about how two sons handled the final hours with their father after he was removed from off life support.

With the prodding of one son, the father reluctantly agrees to see a Rabbi before his death, and this Rabbi describes to the dying man the meaning of his (and our) life:

"Imagine your whole life now, and for each [and every] time you did something good, imagine it as a little glow you left behind that lights a dark road stretching back in time. It's a long, long row of lights now, isn't it?"

Remembering over time, the father nods, smiles and is obviously comforted in this final hour as he sees in his mind's eye all the shinning lights for the acts of kindness that he was leaving behind. 

Isn't this what life is all about?

Every choice we make, everything we do, can have an amazing impact and leave light when before there was just darkness. 

Imitating G-d in creation, we create light separating it from the darkness out there, good from evil...we create the future. 

Our goal...light up the night. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 30, 2015

G-d Is Good, (Some) People Not So

I am quite disabled after hip surgery, but I am livid. 

There was an article in the New York Times about a Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt who likes to take children and young adults naked to the sauna and Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) and watch!

Some even reported that he "gawked at a naked 12-year old," "invited a 15-year old for intimate night time conversations during which he frequently put his hand on the boy's leg," and invited himself into a 17-year old's living room and tried repeatedly to persuade him to change into a bathrobe."

The article describes how this has been going on for around 30 years and the Rabbi was asked in various forms to stop by the Riverdale Jewish Center synagogue, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and even investigated by Yeshiva University (YU). 

Interestingly, this is happening after the "2012 sex scandal involving top Rabbi's from Yeshiva University, another with Rabbi Baruch Lanner with "sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of scores of teens" in his charge in the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), and most recently, the 6-year sentencing for "videotaping more than 150 women" (going to the Mikvah) of Rabbi Freundel of Kesher Synagogue (right here in Washington, D.C.). 

All of these sex scandals involved highly prominent rabbi's (and I feel sick to my stomach even using that esteemed word for them), and at the time this abuse was going on and for years after, no one wanted to believe this was happening!

A friend posted this article about Rabbi Rosenblatt on my Facebook page --we both know this Rabbi from Riverdale, NY where we grew up--and asked "What have you to say to this?"

Well let me tell you...many have come forward for the NYT's article and others on my Facebook page and behind the scenes to confirm knowledge of Rabbi's Rosenblatt's gawking and other inappropriate behaviors with children.

- "I refused to consider having him perform my marriage ceremony because of this and another of his 'unusual habits.'"

- "Not only was this common knowledge personally--it was known institutionally, by both YU and the RCA."

Yet others choose to continue the disbelief (some excerpts):

- "I believe these rumors to be vicious slander."

- "I want to believe some weird habits are being blown out of proportion."

So let me tell you that not knowing something is happening or not wanting to believe does not make it so. 

I and others I have spoken to remember children being invited to play racquetball as I remember it (squash in the article) and to go to the Sauna with the Rabbi afterward. 

As someone described for the NYT article about going to the Mikvah with the Rabbi, I can attest that this similarly happened to me PERSONALLY. 

Before I got married, the Rabbi accompanied me to the Mikvah for the ritual bathing which he said was needed before marriage, and just as the 15-year old victim in the article described, the Rabbi was "watching me" and I remember the Rabbi also telling me that he had to in order to see my whole body immersed.

I also remember feeling his look at me being off and feeling sick afterwards, like I just wanted to wash again and again. 

However for others referenced in the NYT article, it was much worse, "The routine was always the same: 'Always the hand on the shoulder or the leg, always the hand touching some part of your body'…The rabbi’s touch 'was very seductive and it was very manipulative in a way.'"

Unfortunately, as is typical, it is easier to blame the victims or disavow them, then acknowledge a deep-rooted sick and evil in our society by some who are at the top of the pecking order religiously and otherwise.

To be completely clear, the chilul Hashem is NOT with the victims, but RATHER it is with the man who for over 30 years continued this sick ruse, even after he was asked repeatedly to stop his inappropriate behavior with children and young adults. 

For those who choose to continue to look the other way, say how nice and scholarly these Rabbis are, and make every excuse in the book, rather than demand a FULL investigation and justice, all I can say is they are being complicit! 

One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 29, 2015

Pain Pain Go Away!

So I am more the emotional type who cries at sad songs or heroic endeavors. 

But with the hip surgery, I have to admit that I have had some moments of literally screaming pain. 

The surgeon said he did about a full half hour of cauterization to prevent another bleed (hematoma) and infection that happened last time...so not sure if this is causing the extra-extra sting. 

Usually when they ask my level of pain, I say like 2-3, because I imagine a 10 being some horrible torture like being sawed in half (while hung upside down--actually saw this in a movie) or flayed of your flesh, burnt alive at the stake, or quartered by horses--or countless variations on these.

Let's just say, the medieval tormentors had this torture stuff down.

In a way, I almost feel guilty expressing my post surgical pain (sort of child's play) relative to these made-to-order cruelties.

Of course for pain, the doctors give you medicine, but honestly I don't like to take these because of side-effects and even addictive properties. 

But the nurse and physical therapist told me not to let the pain get ahead of me, because then it is harder to control it (and also harder to do the full PT and get the benefits from it).

In the hospital, I was amazed that some people had so much pain (i.e. me) and others just sat there in PT seemingly shrugging off the whole experience. 

Still I made it the full loop with the walker the first day (which the therapists told me is maybe 3x what most others do at that point).

Another thing that I am thinking about with pain, is how do you compare emotional and physical pain--which is worse?

The loss of loved ones, deep disappointments, suffering with sickness or disability, anxiety and depression can certainly cause a lot of pain inside--those are the screams that often no one hears.

Also, that hurt can often lead to physical sickness and bodily pain and vice versa--so they are not mutually exclusive.

My father used to tell me that "When you have your health you have everything."

I think this is partly because if you don't have your health, you can't really do or enjoy much else anyway--so good health is sort of a precursor to all other activities and pursuits.

Probably the worst pains are the ones where their is simply no hope of getting better...and you just have to accept the loss or the end. 

The corollary that my father taught me was "Where there is life, there is hope!"

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 27, 2015

Blogging On Percocet

So I'm one day post op from my 2nd hip replacement.

They definitely gave me a little too much Percocet this morning and on an empty stomach too...so I'm still feeling a little nauseous and loopy. 

I had my first physical therapy this morning and there is another planned for this afternoon.

It was really hard to walk and every little step was in pain...I asked the nurse half jokingly whether it was okay to curse as we went down the hall with the walker.

While I realize that I still have quite a way to go, I am glad to be starting the process of getting back on my feet again.

I am grateful to G-d for all his mercy, for my family and friends,(especially Dossy here with me and my very understanding daughters who put up with my kvetching through all this), and the superior surgical and medical care that I realize not everyone in the world has so readily available. 

Thank you to everyone for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. ;-)
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May 25, 2015

The Chalkboard Car

This is a photo of a chalkboard car. 

And on the hood is written "Happy Memorial Day!"

On the side was a design in chalk and on the back even a peace sign. 

Wouldn't it be sort of funny if everyone had a car with handwritten messages on it (as long as they were kept clean and non-aggressive). 

A little entertainment, humor, how ya feeling today, and more. 

It's also nice when we don't take ourselves so seriously and can just have some kosher fun in life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 24, 2015

Appreciating G-d's Gifts


Today, I heard a fascinating speech from Rabbi Haim Ovadia of Magen David Synagogue that put a beautiful new perspective on the Ten Commandments.

He explained how the commandments are not just commandments, but actually a covenant between G-d and mankind.  

G-d gave man gifts of:

1) FREEDOM and choice (He is the L-rd who brought you out of bondage)
2) DIVINITY, a direct spiritual connection (Thou shalt have no idols)
3) PRAYER, heartfelt (Thou shalt not take G-d's name in vain)
4) SABBATH, day of rest (On the seventh day thou shalt do no work)
5) FAMILY (Honor thy father and mother).

In turn, G-d asks that we appreciate His gifts to us, and not take from others what isn't ours:

1) LIFE (Don't murder)
2) Another Man's WIFE (Don't commit adultery)
3) THINGS (Don't steal)
4) DUE PROCESS/JUSTICE (Don't bear false witness)
5) Someone else's BLESSINGS (Don't covet, and essentially bring an "evil eye" on them)

This interpretation is sort of the ah-ha in the Ten Commandments, which otherwise some would say, "what's so novel or special about G-d telling us not to do these bad things--wouldn't we already know (many of) these ourselves?"

But what is novel here is that the Ten Commandments is a whole philosophy of thinking about life, one where we appreciate G-d's many gifts to us, but where we control our animal instincts and in turn act spiritually.

Thank you G-d for the many wonderful gifts, and for giving us the opportunity to elevate ourselves and be satisfied with our lot in life. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 23, 2015

Feeling It All

Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 

We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can't hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what's called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring--because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me--8 years--and I would listen to their "mature" girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, "You need to get a thicker skin!"


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others--but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception...sometimes you can see what others don't, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings--sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 22, 2015

Can You Just Stop And Think?

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

What do I mean?

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

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

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

Feeling a little jittery, scared yet. 

Why are people afraid to stop and think? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But doesn't thinking lead to more purposeful doing?

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

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

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

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

Smart Kelvin. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 20, 2015

Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee

This was a photo outside the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

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


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


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


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 19, 2015

The Flaming Bus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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New Body Parts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snatched From The Jaws Of A LARGE Shark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)
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May 16, 2015

Lady You Bring Me Up When I'm Down

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 15, 2015

The Back To The Future Car

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 14, 2015

Blame The SLOW Trains

So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 

Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 

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

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

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

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

Japan: 375 mph!

France: 199 mph.

China: 186 mph.

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

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

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

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

How Many Issues Do You Have?

I saw someone with this funny iPhone case in Starbucks.

It says, "More Issues Than Vogue."

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

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

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

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

But Vogue wins! ;-)
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May 12, 2015

Yeah, A Pat On The Back

Ah, this doodle says it all...

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

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

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

(Source Doodle: Linkedin)
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May 11, 2015

A Doll For Every Worry


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

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

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

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

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 10, 2015

Mom Through The Years

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

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

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

Today we volunteered at Manna Food Center.

"Fighting hunger and feeding hope in Montgomery County."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2015

From Vintage to Modern Threats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hard to imagine living that way!

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

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

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

(Source Video: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 8, 2015

Wine Bottle Extraordinaire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So this is a true story...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are racing to the wheelchair jammed in the doors.

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

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

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

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

The person lunges toward it and hits the round button.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 7, 2015

Parenting@CVS

This photo was taken in CVS.

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2015

A Political Teddy Bear

Thought this was an awesome photograph.

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

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

The gate is surrounding the construction being done.

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

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

- ISIS and radical Islam is still growing stronger.

- Iran continues building toward a nuclear WMD.

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

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

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

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

- Immigration crisis remains in "limbo."

- Economic growth is "grinding to a halt."

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2015

Freak Accidents, Illnesses, And Events

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

Poof...dead at age 47!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fashionistas Oh Mista

I found this gorgeous picture on Facebook. 

I believe this model on the runway is wearing Armani. 

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

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

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

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

The HaTikvah By Andy Blumenthal

Trying my hand at singing the beautiful HaTikvah tonight. 

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

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

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

They even come up with naming conventions for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 1, 2015

There You Are

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

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

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

It goes like this:

"Watch you thoughts; they become words.

Watch you words; they become actions.

Watch you actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits, they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

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

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

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

(Thank you to Chana Rivkah Herbsman and Minna Blumenthal)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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