March 31, 2016

Say W.H.O.

So a colleague submitted this photo to me to share on my blog. 

So funny!

This was posted by Federal Occupational Health in the organization's gym.

Publisher is the World Health Organization.

I don't think this translates well from Switzerland. 

I'm not going to say another word.

(Source Photo: Colleague)
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613 Menu

So for those of you following my blogs about 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah)--this is blog 6 in the monthly series. 

And here it is again, on the menu for a simple Caesar Salad--depending on the size, it's $6 or $13.

I'm sorry but I don't need a statistician to tell me that the number of times and places for the revealing of 613--without even looking for it (seriously)--is extraordinary. indeed. 

G-d has a message for us of hope and faith--613--I plan on listening. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 30, 2016

Need Some Money

Big banner advertising Money!

A Monopoly sweepstakes by McDonald's to draw customers. 

Sort of ironic a low-cost fast food provider "giving" money away.

But who doesn't need money? 

I remember the song as a child, "Money makes the world go round..."

Always distasteful at the focus in the world on money, instead of on being good decent people with a bigger picture on issues, suffering, and tikkun olam. 

Really, it's the tug of war between people's personal selfishness and the ability to exhibit selfless giving to others. 

Does a person need a certain amount of financial stability and security to be a better giver?

I guess that makes sense--if you have more and don't feel financially burdened and threatened at every turn in life, you can be more charitable with your own giving--not feeling pinched and vulnerable. 

Still, I think it's important to remember that money can certainly be at "the root of all evil" when it becomes the end rather than the means to a life of purpose, understanding, and compassion that goes way beyond our own little desires and selves. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2016

STEM Lost And Found

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things...from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 



Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the "STEM crisis is a myth," still "we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts."

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), "Oh, don't depend on my math skills for that!"

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets--and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it's being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization's free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 28, 2016

Hoverboard Dog Walking

This was a humorous site.

The guy has his dog on a leash and is "walking his dog," but he himself is not walking.

He's on his hoverboard and the dog is pulling him down the block and across the street. 

Apparently dogs need exercise, but people need convenience. 

Mankind is always trying to control his environment with technology, gadgets, and science.

So is this what "dominion over the earth" looks like in short? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 27, 2016

Making The Deadline

It was funny at work recently.

The team was having some "technical difficulties" getting something done. 

It wasn't like it wasn't going to happen, it was just taking a little longer than expected. 

I was riding herd on this, since we had made a commitment to get it done by a certain date and time and it was important to get it right. 

After a number of delays, I started to question whether we were really going to be able to meet the deadline, and one of my colleagues asks about how the boss will react if we don't make it. 

Then all of a sudden, they blurt out, "Is he going to sh*t a brick if we don't make it?"

I was a little taken aback at the saying, but then it was sort of a funny image of the extreme kvetchy face a person would be making in such a situation--trying to pass not a (little) stone, but literally a big brick. 

As it turns out, we made the deadline--although we had to use the buffer time we had carefully built in--and the team did a great job, so no bricks, no stones, and just kudos all around. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 26, 2016

When They Say They Want To Kill You, Do You Think They Might Mean It?

We tried out a new large conservative synagogue in Rockville today. 

And they had an interesting speech this Shabbat by scholar in residence, Tal Becker.

He spoke about how as a Jewish people traumatized post Holocaust, we tend to view threats to us as existential or the possibility of them escalating to that. 

And of course, many of the threats out there are or could be--like the Iranian Ballistic Nukes or terrorism combined with WMD!

But in terms of overall Jewish security, normalcy, and exceptionalism--with two thriving Jewish communities in Israel and in America--we are probably doing better than at any time in recent history. 

It's a paradox, he mentioned, that in America, the Jews are a minority but amidst all the freedom, they may at times feel like a majority, while in Israel, the Jews are a majority, but amidst the dangerous neighborhood they live in, they can feel like a minority. 

Unfortunately, there is still quite a lot of hatred and anti-Semitism out there whether in America or the Middle East. 

Just this week, we saw numerous terror attacks in Israel and Turkey that left several Israelis dead or wounded again. And in America, not only did we have Palestinian protests on college campuses painting Jews as the occupiers and Apartheidists (rather than as the victims of daily Palestinians terror and intransigence toward a two-state solution living side-by-side with Israel in peace), but also Microsoft having to take down their AI Bot after users taught it to spew anti-Semitic remarks like "Jews deserve death" and holocaust-denial posts in social media.

So as wonderful as it is to be Jewish, there is typically not a day that goes by when we are not somehow reminded of those that reject us, hate us, and may want to kill Jews. 

The truth is that Jews (as Mark Twain pointed out)--despite having a pretty large and impressive footprint--are a very small minority of the people out there, and they have endured unbelievably difficult times from slavery to the destruction of the temple and exile (twice), forced conversions, tortured inquisitions, expulsions, pogroms, and genocide...so it is hard not to be a little touchy about people saying or implying that they  don't like you and want to kill you...someone may take that as an existential threat and it wouldn't even have to be a bad day at that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2016

Cherry Blossom Sky

What beautiful weather we are having this time of year.

Just loved this gorgeous Cherry Blossom tree with the white leaves against the pale blue sky. 

Almost looks like snow flakes, but thank G-d those are gone now. 

All this nature is sort of the opposite of work, but on my mind is this quote that I heard this week:


_____________


"Plan the work

AND

Work the plan"

_____________

It's simple, but gets right to the point of the necessity of planning and then executing on the plan.

I like the gorgeous nature and this smart saying.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2016

The Great Apartheid Ruse

What a shame the hatred and anti-Semitism on college campuses and in political theater now under the guise of Israeli Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Israel is no more apartheid that any country or society in the world that has guards and erected walls to secure their inhabitants--from armed bandits, illegal immigrants, marauding armies, and dangerous terrorists.

From the castles across the European landscape to the wall around Vatican City, the U.S. border fence, and even the Great Wall of China--every country seeks border and homeland security!

Keeping out bad people who seek to inflict harm on others is not segregation, but appropriate and common sense self-defense, especially in Israel's case where Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other avowed terrorist organizations and their sponsors seek not peaceful coexistence, but the annihilation of the Jewish people and Israel.

From the Iranian building of nuclear ballistic missiles to Hezbollah and Hamas raining missiles on Israeli population centers, from the building of terror tunnels to abduct and attack Israelis, from homicide bombings in discotheques and on buses to shootings, knifings, and vehicular rammings, the crazed hatred and genocidal ambitions of the anti-Semites does not end.

Nothing would make every Jew in the world happier than a genuine and secure peace with their neighbors, but when every peace deal that shares between the peoples is rejected by those that seek not compromise and living side-by-side in peace, but rather to throw every last Jew into the Sea then the Free Palestine movement under all it's guises is nothing more than a very deadly wolf in sheep's clothing.

- Listen to their chants of "From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, Palestine Will be Free."

- Read their signs that say, "Our revenge will be the laughter of our children."

- Watch their actions: teaching little children to utterly hate and arbitrarily kill Jews.

That NOT an anti-apartheid movement and a desire for peaceful coexistence, but rather maniacal ambitions to maim, murder, and take everything bar none.

Those who march, chant, and support Free Palestine, Israel Apartheid Week and the BDS Movement have shown themselves the true haters and supporters of terrorism, and usurping a mantel of legitimacy from those who have really struggled for freedom and peace is the lie and ruse of the century, but very reminiscent of murderous Jew-haters from Amalek, Haman, and Adolf Hitler from the days of old to our times. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Care2)
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March 23, 2016

Happy Purim At Magen David













(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)


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Panda Love Express

This was interesting on the sign in Washington, D.C.

An advertisement for a dating site with a picture of a panda bear apparently with love in it's eyes.

(Note: I don't know what Panda.com site is as it wasn't working when I tested it--hopefully, nothing bad.)

Juxtaposed with the sun glaring off the window on the building next to it, made it seem like it was just calling out to the singles--who are looking to meet Mr./Mrs. Right--for a new beginning. 

Bees do it. Birds do it. Of course, even panda bears do it. 

Everyone should have a chance to find their soulmate and live happily ever after. 

Social sites, gatherings, or personal introductions, whatever brings people together--it's a beautiful thing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 22, 2016

Stop To Think OR Stop Thinking

The Thinker.

It's very important to have time (and space) to sit down and think. 

Not just go through life in the motions--"doing"--because that's the way we always did it or that's the way your parents did it, or that's what your teachers or society told you to do. 

Thinking means we evaluate and assess what we are doing.  Are we going in the right direction?  Are we happy with ourselves?  Are we good people doing good things?  Are there things that we regret and need to learn from and/or course correct. Can we do better and what does better mean? 

I remember at a certain point in my life working very hard, but also feeling like I was in a fugue--and when I "awoke" I couldn't figure out where the time went to and why I had been sort of numb for a time. Were some things perhaps too raw or painful to deal with (better to shut them off somewhere in a little box) or was I just moving so fast and so hard that I just lost sight of my surroundings and the meaning or lack from it all. 

But then I started to feel and think again. And I knew it because it was like an monumental awakening from a long hibernation through eons of time and space. What precipitated it all, I don't really know. But when it started coming back--memories, feelings, some satisfactions, too many regrets--I knew that I had been gone a while and wasn't sure exactly where I'd been. 

So need to regularly stop and "smell the coffee"--think and feel--not just do like a real dummy or stubborn a*s. 

The dilemma with thinking is too much or too little is that it can be a dangerous thing. 

Too much time to ponder and you can become lost in thought or mired in analysis paralysis. Don't bother me, I'm still thinking about it. Or perhaps, your thinking can be "all wrong" and messed up--your misunderstanding, misconstruing, not thinking clearly or brainwashed by others--maybe those with good intentions who want you to be like them, who think they know better, who mean well but are misguided when it comes to YOU or are engulfed by their own zealousness, self-righteousness or are even jerks trying to f*ck with you. 

Also, while ample time to think can leave you revitalized, with new direction, commitment, and enthusiasm, the flip side is you can become demoralized or depressed by "it all," It's too much, it's too hard, it's too meaningless, or even it's too overwhelming important and meaningful. 

Then there is too little thinking going on in that head of yours, and you are a dumb, numb robot who washes, rinses, repeats...not knowing why they are doing it or maybe even that they are doing anything, just that they are in a state of being. It easy maybe to turn off to the world, to keep running on the treadmill of life, get up and do the same routine day-in and day-out.  Not questioning.  Not feeling.  Not getting hurt or dealing with issues better left for another day. But that's not living. That's a life of a sick roaming flesh-eating zombie. Someone just stick that iron rod through that useless skull already. 

Think and live...live and think...go forward as in a directed, meaningful way, and not as the walking dead in pain and sorrow or lost in the abyss of lifelessness. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 21, 2016

Loving Your Sheep

I guess people love all sorts of things. 

This one lady had a bumper sticker on her truck that said, "I [Heart] Love Sheep."

First, I thought the messaging was about loving "The Shepherd"--either her husband, a paramour, or a reference to the Messiah. 

Then I took a second take, and realized, NO not the shepherd, but the actual sheep--she loves. 

Well, people love their dogs, cats, horses, and so why not their sheep?

I don't know, but as a "city boy," loving your sheep never would really occur to me, then again I was sheltered in Yeshiva. 

Anyway, after I took a quick photo of the professed love sticker, this lady starts yelling after me about why am I looking at her car.  

I responded, "No, not the car--the sticker (about the sheep)."

She's like, "Oh, that's okay then!"--like of course, it's about my love of sheep. 

So here, this post is dedicated to everyone that loves their sheep or shepard or whatever rocks their particular boats. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 20, 2016

Attack On Human Rights

So we're sitting in the coffee shop and this guy near us has some books on the table. 

He's reading three things:

- The Holy Bible

- Second Amendment Primer

- The Heller Case (the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2008 protecting an individual's right to bear arms for self defense in "federal enclaves"). 

So somebody says jokingly, "You think he's a Republican?"

It made me think how we get judged by not only our behaviors, but also by our apparent beliefs, politics, and associations. 

Even if we don't necessary do anything wrong or controversial, people see us, sum us up, and place judgement upon us. 

Moreover, while we may have a legal right to do something, people may still look disparagingly on us for exercising our rights.

Speak you mind freely, practice your religion openly, stand firm on privacy, own a gun in a liberal part of town, and you may find yourself being stared, pointed, or sneered at, whispered about, threatened, harassed, or otherwise disapproved of in small and/or big ways. 

My question is how is something a right if people still can mistreat you for exercising it in appropriate ways?  

I've heard people say things like you're eligible for X, Y, or Z, but your not entitled to it.

They confuse rights as eligibility, rather than entitlement. 

So some people water down our Bill of Rights that way--thinking, saying, and acting in way that you are eligible to do something, BUT only if you ask nicely or do it a certain way that the other person arbitrarily approves of, and not that you are entitled to it as a basic human right!

Yes, of course we all need to behave responsibility and not yell fire in a crowded theater, but that doesn't mean that human rights are subject to the whim of people's mood's, tempers, personal views, and bullying behavior. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 19, 2016

Bricks And Chips

This was quite interesting in the local food store. 

There in the aisle are shelves full of chips to eat. 

On this shelf were Stacy's Pita Crisps--5 Cheese Flavor...doesn't sound too bad.

But next to the chips, on the same shelf, was a brick...yes, literally a solid brick wrapped in cellophane...why to keep it fresh!

Who would wrap a brick in cellophane and put it out among the other foods to eat???

Maybe the chocolate custard-filled donuts got stale--very stale--and turned into a brick. 

So even the cellophane wrapping couldn't keep it fresh.

Never buy baked goods wrapped in cellophane...you already know they are old(ish) and who knows it could be turning into a stale brick. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 18, 2016

AFRICA Out Of The Back Of A Car

So not what you'd expect from the back of someone's car.

But this guy is selling some pretty nice artwork. 

This piece is obviously a colorful painting of Africa. 

I took this photo, and the guy popped out of nowhere yelling, "Hey, why you taking a picture of that?"

I said, "Oh sorry!  Didn't mean anything.  It's just really nice."

The guy gives me a funny-grouchy face as I am walking away, and then another guy who is panhandling on the street goes to me, "You know you're right, those really are very beautiful!

So we can all appreciate nice artwork even from the back of a car on the sidewalk of Washington, D.C. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 17, 2016

Exercise It Dirty

So these ladies and gents are exercising underground in the Metro tunnel. 

They have grabbed the banister underneath and are doing pullups. 

However, the tunnels are really ick!

Often a sheltering place for the unfortunate, homeless, and sick trying to get out with their belongings from the cold or rainy weather. 

And the smell of urine is not uncommon even with the CCTV cameras at either end, 

Nice to workout and toughen up, but this is more than a share of morning wash up or hand sanitizer can deal with. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2016

Metro Doesn't Always Get You There

So today the Washington D.C. Metro has a full suspension of service for at least 24 hours over the entire system

Metro says it is to check safety after a fire on the system on Monday, but the hastiness and extremeness of the action has many scratching their heads and asking "Terror Threat?"

Either way, better safe than sorry!

It's funny because just on the way home yesterday, I took this photo of what I believe is a advertisement for taking Metro (instead of driving) or for some reason I took it as that. 

Metro is supposed to get you there, but doesn't always. 

Still better than sitting in traffic or getting tickets downtown. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 15, 2016

X Marks The Spot

So what is this with the big orange X on the street in downtown Washington, D.C.

Is this the site for something really big and grand going up here--maybe the next big monument or tower (hehe)? 

Hopefully, (G-d forbid) not the next ground zero for the Iranians who have once again tested their long-range missiles in violation of UN resolutions and have called us their "main enemy."

Can anyone out there really understand why we've abandoned a decades long relationship with Sunni-Saudi Arabia (and related other friendly Sunni states in the Persian gulf) and instead replaced it with a deal with Shia-Iran that hates the U.S. and is hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles to deliver them?

Since an estimated 87-90% of the Muslim world is Sunni, renouncing the relationship with Saudi Arabia--and by extension the 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims (of a total 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide)--seems like a very risky proposition.

Indeed, 1) going into Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Husseim and liberating the 70% of the Iraqis that are Shia, then 2) lifting sanctions and aligning ourselves with Iran, the largest Shia country, and 3) now allowing Iran and Hezbollah to go into Syria to support the Alawite-Assad regime (the predominant Shia group) presumably has us taking sides in the Sunni-Shia Muslim worlds. 

However, why in the world would we choose those that explicitly hate us, support and conduct terror, and vow to destroy the U.S. over those like the Saudis that have in some ways worked with us in the past (even if we don't need their oil as much now)?

Just a hypothetical, but perhaps could we be strengthening the smaller, thereby weaker Shiites as a counterbalance to an otherwise overwhelming Sunni majority Muslim world and a potentially dangerous and developing radicalized powerful ISIS state.

And if this is our strategy, at what risk are we playing this hand with a dedicated Iranian foe that has it's own schemes for hegemony with a powerful Caliphate and the nuclear weapons to match. ;-)

(Source Photo: Danielle Blumenthal)

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March 14, 2016

Making a Right, Left, or Straight

This was a funny sign to an Ethiopian cafe in downtown Washington, D.C. 

"When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left."

(and next to it is another sign that says, "Money isn't everything, but it keeps the kids in touch.")

So what type of person are you?

When the going gets tough and nothing is going right, where do you go--to the coffee shop, door on the left--or more seriously do you:

- Close your eyes and keep marching forward like a good soldier?

- Get scared off, turn around, and run the other way?

- Take a break or slow down, stopping long enough to figure out what's wrong, and come up with solutions? 

Maybe you do a little of all three--sort of the Curly Shuffle. 

But aside from faith in G-d (and coffee-drinking), perhaps two really critical traits for success in life are resilence in the face of adversity and your problem-solving skills.

That doesn't mean that you never plow on or turn back--these are appropriate at times too--but that you know when to turn right, left, or make a straight dash to the goal line. ;-)

(Source Photo: Danielle Blumenthal)
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March 13, 2016

Is Blame A Leadership Quality

One of the most important qualities of a leader is responsibility and accountability--as they typically say, "the buck stops here."

So why do we have so much of this:

1. "Blames his guards [the U.S. Secret Service] for closing White House Tours"

2. "Blames [former U.K. prime minister] David Cameron for Libya Descending into a 'Sh** Show'"

3. "Says GOP is to Blame for Rise of Donald Trump"

4. "Blames [former House Speaker] Boehner for Ongoing Government Shutdown"

5. "Blames Democrats for Midterm Losses"

6. "Shifting Blame for Bergdahl Trade to [former Defense Secretary] Hagel"

7. Blames "Detaining Terrorists at GITMO Helps ISIS [recruit terrorists]"

8. "Blames media for losing war against ISIS"

9. "Blames U.S. for Gun Violence in Mexico"

10. "Blaming [former HHS Secretary] Sebelius" for botched Obamacare rollout

11. "Blames 'bad apple' insurers for cancelled [Obamacare] coverage"

12. "Blames his Low Approval Numbers on Racism"

13. "Blames China...for not playing fair [as competitors]"

14. "[Russian President] Putin largely to blame for Syrian crisis

15. "Blame Middle East Turmoil on [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu"

16. "Blames Christians from Holding Back America from Doing 'Big Things'"

17. "Blames Founding Fathers' 'structural' design of Congress for gridlock"

18. "Blames the rich--big banks, big oil, big hedge funds...[and] recklessness of Wall Street" for economic crisis

19. "Blames [former President] Bush for Economy While Standing Next To Him"

20. "Blames the Messenger" for "legitimate criticism"

21. "Blames Everyone but Himself for Failed Economic Policies"

Do you think that there is probably a lot more blame to go around? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wild Trees)
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March 12, 2016

Head Of Peace Now Is A Moron

I don't often go about calling people names.

It's not diplomatic or politically correct, of course. 

But I want to make an exception on this special occasion.

And that is when this week, the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, actually had the audacity to criticize terror victim, Yonatan Azriaev, in Israel.

The victim was savagely stabbed by a terrorist, yet the victim managed to pull the knife from his own neck and trust it into his attacker, killing him.

What an unbelievable act of courage, strength, and heroism!

But to the leader of Peace Now, he blames the victim and calls this an extra-judicial execution, instead of a completely appropriate act of self-defense against a terrorist on a murderous rampage.

All I can say is the guy is a complete moron (yes, I said it) and shame on the self-hating, anti-Semitic, Peace Now members who are indirectly supporting terrorism, instead of defending their brothers and sisters. 

Let's hope and pray for a genuine peace with security for the Holy Land.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 11, 2016

613 In Miniature

So this is my fifth month in a row now posting about the holy 613 (number of commandments in the Torah). 

This time my daughter sent me this photo from this afternoon. 

Do you see the 613 in the middle (I almost missed it)?

She actually saw this on a city bus--it was on the vertical cord you pull to request a stop--and it was tiny.

But there it was--calling us out to have absolute faith in the Almighty above. 

As it happens, I saw another 613 this month--again out of nowhere. 

I was talking to a colleague in the office. 

He was wearing his badge--I think off to the side of his belt. 

And when I looked down for a moment, the number of the badge was glaring out 613. 

I thought for a second to take a photo, but this obviously wouldn't have been appropriate. 

It's just too weird at this point...

613 everywhere...and we are all seeing it.  

Mass psychosis, no.

Living in the time of the Messiah, hopefully.

Message to have faith, absolutely.

Please G-d, it should all be for the good. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Note: If there are any Torah scholars out there that can help interrupt these 613 sightings--would greatly welcome your comments for blessings. 

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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Hey, Pay Attention

It's funny, when the way forward is uneven, broken, or fraught with danger, and someone just puts out a sign (and orange cone) warning you to be careful. 

Sure, it's the responsible thing to do--protect people from misstepping. 

But even with the largest, loudest warnings, there always seem to be some people who just go right ahead anyway and tempt fate--they step on that 2nd broken stair.

Maybe it doesn't give way (this time for this person) or maybe it does.

But they are too busy, too much in a rush, or too cocky to pay heed or else they like to play the odds--hey, what are the odds that something will actually happen to "me"?

The more cautious, perhaps smarter folks look for another way--using their ingenuity to go over, under, or around the obstacle in their path--in this case stepping over the broken 2nd step. 

Other may yet be deterred altogether and just turn backwards, giving up on their trek or just stop in their tracks like a deer in the headlights frozen by indecision.

I'd suggest that it is well worth it to take the time to look around you, sense the environment, and make a sound judgement before giving up or stepping stupidly into the ditch, minefield, quicksand, or on the broken step. 

It's much harder to get out of trouble than to avoid it to begin with. 

I joke with one of my colleagues that they always have time to do things a second time (always!), but because they are rushing, never enough time--or focus--to do it right the first one. 

Watch your step, because some of them of definitely broken. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 10, 2016

Every Day Is Women's Day

My mother taught me well, every day is women's day!

Little did I know that March 8 is also designated International Women's Day.

Today is the 10th, but I still saw a lady on the Metro carrying a balloon down the escalator celebrating this special time. 

Overall, even in the 21st century, it is appalling to say that women are not only still under-appreciated, but highly disrespected, and worse physically and emotionally abused around the world

Just this week, I read about another horrible rape in India of a 16-year old girl who was then set on fire and burned alive over 95% of her body--what crazies out there do this to women?

In Afghanistan, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for being a girl and wanting to go to school.

In other places in the world, terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram abduct and make sexual slaves of women

In Germany, migrants sexually assaulted literally hundreds of women on New Year's Eve. 

And in Brooklyn, New York, 4 out of 5 suspects in a rape of an 18-year girl in the park go free without bail

This doesn't even touch the more mundane matters of pay inequity and equal opportunity issues where women still only earn 84% of what men earn in the workplace.

As if any normal person should even need to be told this, I remember some progressive teacher in yeshiva telling us that women being disrespected or hurt could be your mother, sister, wife, or daughter, so DON'T do it or tolerate it!

While gender stereotypes still prevail about women being solely the homemaker and rearer of children, at least more men are now open to sharing or taking on these roles as well. 

I think for women, it's still a grossly sick and inequitable world out there and it's a true mark of shame on anyone who perpetuates these abuses. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 9, 2016

First Cherry Blossom Of The Season

Cherry Blossom in downtown Washington, D.C.

So happy winter is over and Spring has sprung. 

Sunshine, cool breeze, so good.

Feels like more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Who Sells The Cookies

So we see the traditional setup with cookies being sold on the street corner by the Girl Scouts. 

My daughter says to me, "Why is it that only the Girl Scouts sell the cookies, while the boys learn outdoor and survival skills?"  

Good observation and I didn't have a good answer, except thinking to myself that sexism is unfortunately still alive, well, and institutionalized in America.

I'd be interested in hearing a comment from a representative of these organizations as why this biased, sexist nonsense continues, especially at a time when we have a viable women candidate for President of the United States (2016)--what gives here? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 8, 2016

Meeting the Boss, John Kerry

What an awesome day today getting to meet Secretary of State, John Kerry. 

It is truly very cool to work for the Federal government and to be part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Meaning, purpose, contribution, service, and constant learning--that is a lot of goodness and opportunity to receive in one's career. 

Thank you G-d for the amazing moments as well as the daily grind to work through it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Colleague)

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When Technology Is Our Superhero

I liked this Linux Cat Superhero sticker that someone put on the back of the street sign in Washington, D.C. 

There is something great about the promise of technology (with G-d's help of course) to make our lives better. 

When we get excited about technology, envision it, invest in it, and bring it to market--we are superheros making the world a better place. 

While many technologies may be "pie the sky" invoking more hype than higher purpose, if we can discern the doers from the duds then we can achieve the progress for ourselves and our children that we desperately want. 

Technology should be a superhero and not a villian--when its about the mission and doing what we do better, faster, and cheaper.

While Washington DC is a long way from entreprenurial and innovative Silicon Valley, the nexus between IT and public service has never been greater or more important. 

For example, when it comes to ideological clashes between (the iPhone's) security/surveillance and privacy or between the proliferation of robots vs. jobs for real human beings, balancing the competing interests is the soul of technology and public policy. 

Every truly useful technology should have it's superhero to represent and advocate for it, while us mere mortals sort out the implications and make sense of it all for the real world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 6, 2016

Oh Those Crispy Wontons

These were some good-looking crispy wonton chips at the Kosher Chinese. 

But I was good, and didn't have a single one!

Dossy was lucky and could have some and she put soy sauce on hers.

It was tempting, but I held strong.

Carbohydrates = Poison. 

Carbohydrates = Poison. 

Carbohydrates = Poison. 

I tell myself over and over.

Do NOT touch. 

Do NOT eat.

Do NOT even go near them. 

Not so bad...mind over matter. 

If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. 

Willpower, plain and simple. 

Would be easier perhaps with some different "food" genetics. 

But grateful for every blessing G-d has bestowed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 5, 2016

The Voter Psychology Behind A Trump

Over and over again the left AND the right try to get a knockout on Donald Trump. 

But what happens?

He's not knocked out.

He's not even knocked down.

To the contrary, he is still standing and seems to become stronger!

What is going on with this phenomenon?

Some would like to call it perhaps a psychosis of the masses

Other like to belittle those that like him by dissing their intellectual status and calling them stupid

Many even seem to go to every extreme to to make him out as crazy, fascist, bigoted, hateful, and a con man

Yet, for the most part it's doesn't seem to be working--people are still flocking to him

It's like the more they try to gang up on him, torment him, bash him, and zing him--and rather than buckle, he is still there standing and remains strong--perhaps, the more "proof" it is for people that he can and will stand up for America!

With dismal ratings for the President, Congress, and government overall, the outsider, the business man, the billionaire, the dealmaker, the one who isn't afraid to speak his mind and to say to the people the non-politically correct thing is coming across refreshing to many who are seeking change from the the last 7 years, 15 years, or further. 

With many seeing the current politics of the U.S. as leading from behind, appeasement, weak, divisive, and disengaged, it is not surprising to see bands across America yearning for something more. 

Is Donald Trump strong and anti-establishment or truly bad and dangerous?

This is for America to seek the truth on and wisely decide. 

What's riding on this?

Whether Trump OR another candidate to be determined --(someone/anyone) -- can potentially get things positively and constructively done in our large and complex political machine that has in many ways become increasingly stymied by bureaucracy, obstructionism, defeatism, game-playing, selfishness, pork barrel politics, (corruption,) sequestration, government closures, and political fighting across the aisle/behind the aisle/and in the aisle.

Let's hope for America and the world's sake the voters get it right.

But keep bashing Trump and you are keeping his message of superior strength and hope very much alive. ;-)

(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or political party)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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