September 20, 2017

There Is Always A Bigger Fish

So as we are about to enter Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year...

I want to share a very important lesson that I came across again this year. 

The lesson is:
No matter how big a fish you think you are, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish out there.

You may have position, title, money, status, and all the trimmings, but someone with more of this and that and the other thing (and overall power) can come along at any time--at G-d's decree--and swallow you right up.  

I connect this to the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah when it is customary to go and cast bread (symbolic for our sins) into a natural body of water, so the fish can eat them up--and in a spiritual sense we throw away our sins and cleanse ourselves of our wrongdoings over the last year--let the fish have them. 

And like the fish eating our sins, I think another more powerful person can come and swallow us up and even spit us out (like Jonah and the Whale)--we are all fallible and mortal. 

We are made from dust and we go to dust, and my dad would joke to clean up the mounds of dust under my bed!

As we enter the New Year, may Hashem have mercy on us and bless us, and may we have peace, health, and prosperity, and may we be written in the Book of Life.

Oh yeah, and may no fish big or small come against us to cause us distress or harm--G-d is the Almighty Protector--Amen! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 19, 2017

Customer Service NO-NOs

So if you're in customer service...

The answer is easy. 

It's always got to be YES. 

- Any less is a big No-No!

The customer's needs are paramount.

Their satisfaction is your goal. 

So your job is to figure out how to get from no to yes!

You've got to problem-solve and figure it out. 

And it's not enough to come up with any old solution.

When I said to my colleagues the other day:
"There's a solution to every problem."

Someone joked and answered back:
"It's just that the customer may not like it."

And I responded:
"Well then that's not the solution you are looking for!"

You've got to go back to the drawing board and get to a legitimate yes. 

Of course, it can difficult, especially when at times you deal with some challenging customers and problems.

But listen, this is the customer service field and in the end, the customer experience should be WOW fantastic!

It's the customer that is depending on you to come through for them and their mission. 

Doing your job isn't just a matter of reading off of some cue card or playbook. 

This is real life with real consequences. 

If you can deliver, the customer will be able to do their jobs, and they may even sing your wildest praises--wouldn't that be rewarding? 

Customer service means getting to YES from the earliest possible moment in the interaction, meaning it, and legitimately delivering on it--no other questions asked.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 18, 2017

Brighten Your Mondays

So a colleague asked me why I wear bright, happy ties on Mondays. 

Well, I explain, I guess it's a combination of two reasons: 

1) I'm starting the week all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed coming off the weekend energized and ready for a brand new and exciting week.

2) I'm trying to counter what many consider the "Mondays Blues" and make them brighter and more cheerful for everyone. 

- Smile and the whole world smiles with you!

So the other person responds, as if all the craziness of the office and organizational psychos during the week will somehow wear down my good cheer:

"So by the time you get to Fridays, what are you wearing black ties???"

I guess everyone knows the workweek is the workweek.

And they don't call it work for nothing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 17, 2017

What Is Wisdom?

Some thoughts today on what is wisdom:

- Knowing you know nothing--and you can prove it (ah, humility)!

- Knowing when to ask--like the infamous directions when you're lost or how to use the latest new technology.

- Learning from all others (everyone has something they can teach us).

- Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience (you've gotten an inkling about some truth out there, and you've had a chance to test it out). 

- Seeing that people's outer bodies are just the superficial, material cover for their inner souls. 

- Realizing that doing for others is so much more rewarding than doing for ourselves. 

- Following the great truths of morality and responsibility.

- Keen awareness that we are not alone in the universe--G-d is everywhere.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 16, 2017

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

Ok, folks.

This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgement). 

We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!

A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  

Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 

But I definitely don't think G-d does that! 

Talking about rejection with a big R. 

To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 15, 2017

Management Is A Privilege

So some people have this notion about management that is all wrong. 

- Management is not a right or entitlement.

- Management is a wonderful privilege!

The privilege comes with responsibility and is earned by knowing how to manage and treat your people right.

That means:

- Acting with integrity

- Treating people fairly, with dignity, and respect

- Showing you value them

- Helping to develop them

- And of course, achieving results together!

I heard it said well like this:
"If you don't treat people well 
you won't be a manager for long."
Again, it's a privilege, not a right, to manage and lead others. 

Those who abuse their privilege and people--it's like the cycle of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 14, 2017

What Women Want From Men?

So I was talking to this nice gentleman.

He was telling me that he lost his wife of over 27 years to cancer--this happened over 15 years ago. 

And since then, he had a girlfriend who recently broke his heart and married someone else. 

I felt really bad and sorry for this nice man--who is always so friendly and intelligent.  

He says to me:
"Over the years, I've learned what women want from men."

I ask him inquiringly:
"And what is that?"

He's obviously glad that I asked, and he proceeds to tell me:
"Women want two things: curiosity and security."

Not understanding what he means by the first one, I ask:
"What do you mean curiosity?"

He looks intently at me and says:
"Women want to talk, and they want to know what's going on."

He explains to me that if you talk and be a good listener to women and provide (your part) materially in a stable relationship with them--they will be happy and you will be happy. 

This is sort of the "Happy wife, happy life" idea that I've heard before. 

Listen, even at this stage in my life, with a wife and two lovely daughters, I can still learn something about what makes women happy...teach me the pearls of wisdom and I will learn it well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 13, 2017

Live 4 Something

I was on the treadmill the other evening. 

On the TV was Sylvester Stallone in the movie, Rambo. 

Ah, some nice welcome action to take my mind off the exercise.

Some doctors and missionaries are trying to make their way to to Burma to help the helpless victims being slaughtered by the military warlord and his henchmen. 

Stallone knows the danger in going there, and at first, he ties to discourage them from going.

The beautiful and sincere women in the group convinces him to take them there...to try to make a difference in these people's lives who are suffering. 

Stallone takes to the lesson and incorporates it into his inner persona. 

And later he says:

"Live for something 

Or

Die for nothing!"

I thought this was a really good philosophy. 

THINK ABOUT IT: 

- We can choose to make our lives meaningful and impactful or to hide in the closet or under the bed and really accomplish nothing.

Our lives are a gift, given to us to do something good with--it's a sin to waste that gift and not do everything we can to be a good influence, help others, and make this a better world. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 12, 2017

Feeling Good Vibes

So what a nice compliment...

I'm talking with someone this week.

They're new, and so I tried to be generally nice and ask about them, show interest, and just be overall friendly and welcoming.  

It was amazing--these little things, and they made someone else feel comfortable and happy. 

They are smiling and go to me:
"I get good vibes from you!"

Wow, good vibes--awesome!  

And now I was happy too. 

I thought to myself, how often we goof and give off the wrong vibes and how easy it really is to just treat most people decently and sincerely, and get a good reaction. 

Yes, not everyone is easy to get along with and not everyone is nice.

But generally, I think it's good to try to be the type of person that others feel good vibes from. 

I'll take that and continue to try and spread the wealth. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 11, 2017

Always Be Prepared

It was nice going to a local festival yesterday and seeing a table set up with brochures for the kids and families on Emergency Preparedness. 

Even when we're having a good time, we need to have in mind the possibility that things can go very wrong.

These last couples of weeks with Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we saw again the destructive forces that Mother Nature can bring. 

And today being the 16th Anniversary since the terror attacks on 9/11 and the almost 3,000 murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are reminded of the necessity to always be ready for man-made/inflicted disasters as well. 

Now with Axis of Evil nations, North Korea and Iran, continuing to pose alarming threats to the West, the need for preparation and readiness to dangerous WMD--whether from an ICBM or a suitcase bomb--is ever present

Let's just say until the final redemption when peace will reign on earth, we can never just rest securely on our laurels. 

Even on a sunny day, the clouds may be gathering to threaten us.  

So have a plan.  Be prepared.  You and your families lives across our beautiful and free nation depend on it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 10, 2017

@Takoma Park Folk Festival


So today we were at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. 

It was a combination of food, chachkas, art, dance, and music--thank G-d, it was a good time!

When we were going through the booths, I came across this one artist pictured here. 

A little scary looking at first, but actually seemed nice enough and he stopped to speak with us. 

I asked about his very cool jacket.

And he told me, how he had actually made it with all the artistic things on it, including spikes, skulls, medals, patches, and even a pair of teeth!

Then he took off his jacket and turned around to show me his vest. 

On the back was this awesome fighting foe.

I said feigning surprise:
"Oh, and it says RESIST on top?"

He replies:
"Yeah, never miss an opportunity to share a message!"

I thought to myself this guy is pretty smart, especially as he started to explain not only his jacket, but the meanings behind some of his other artwork. 

Creativity is a wonderful thing--especially when no one gets hurt :-)--and it immediately sparks interest and dialogue.

How'd you do that?  What gave you that idea?  How do you use it?

The boring becomes exciting when another soul expresses itself. 

Yes, we're all the same, but also we're all different!

It's by "going there," you explore and learn new things.  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 9, 2017

A Holocaust Bar-Mitzvah

So there was a bar-mitzvah in synagogue today. 

It was very memorable, I think not only for the young man and his family, but for many of the congregants--and frankly, it brought me to tears.

The family was from the Israeli embassy, and they did something that I had never seen before. 

When the father got up with his wife and son at the pulpit to speak, he didn't talk about how great his son was.

Instead he spoke about a young boy from the Holocaust who never made it to his bar-mitzvah.

The father told of the just 12-year old that lived in Europe and was murdered by the Nazis in the Jewish genocide that killed 6,000,000!

The father presented a certificate from the Remember Us program with the name and information of the murdered boy to his son. 

The message of this father and Israeli official on his son's bar-mitzvah was very clear--Never again!

Never again--the hate, prejudice, discrimination, and murder of Jews just because they are Jews.

The people that were murdered by the evil Nazis and other hating bigots throughout history showed no mercy towards G-d's creatures--in fact, quite the contrary--they relished in the absolute torture and killing of each and every one.

Never again, is not just a phrase, but it is a determination and a commitment to be a "light unto nations" not to forget how some can fall under the evil influence and not to allow it to happen again that people engage in the most outrageous and vile atrocities against their fellow man. 

Unfortunately these days, hate and bigotry comes in many colors, races, genders, orientations, and affiliations--and the haters may often pretend--like the Nazis did as the "Aryan Nation"--that they are superior, better, and even righteous in their (evil) cause. 

However, we have to know better--we have to be able to discern good from evil--raise up good over evil--and fight for good to win against evil. 

It is not just a single battle, but a long intergenerational war, and one that will be won.

G-d Almighty will most assuredly see to it that those who hate on and perform the vilest of deeds against their fellow man, they will end up paying the ultimate price not only with their rotting flesh, but with the eternal burning of their sickening souls. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to the Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team--HEART)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 8, 2017

What's With The Water

At this time of some major hurricanes hitting the USA (first Harvey, and now approaching IRMA and Jose)...

I have been remembering from the other day when I was in the pool, but I had a very different experience from usual. 

Yes, I was swimming hard and disciplined doing my laps.

But my mind decided to focus on the water.

Just the water...nothing else. 

I literally blanked out the world around me...no pool, no exercise, no other people, no current events, no random thoughts.

I just put all my senses unto the water itself. 

The cool softness of the water as it glided over my hands and body. 

The subtle resistance of the water, yet the buoyancy it provided. 

The waves and current as the water flowed around my body moving crisply through it.

The healing purity of the water physically and spiritually. 

I imagined the clearest and cleanest water, and how it quenches our thirst and washes everything in the world clean again. 

Water, earth, wind and fire...the wisdom and perfection of them and us cannot possibly be random events, but they are testament to the genius of our Creator. 

Thank you G-d especially for the water in the time, place, and amount that is for a blessing--and as a series of strong hurricanes continue to roar towards your people, let it be merciful. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 7, 2017

The CEO and The Janitor

Wow, I heard a powerful story from a colleague that I wanted to share.

The colleague's father was a industrial psychologist and he would go into some relatively big organizations to improve the functioning and culture. 

One of the things that he would do is get the CEO and the janitor in the same room together. 

And he would say:
"Both of you have vital jobs in the organization and you need to appreciate each other!"

At this point, the CEO and the janitor would be looking around the room super quizzically.

And the psychologist would to the janitor and say:
"The CEO's job is critical, because without the CEO, we wouldn't have the leadership and vision for the organization to be successful, and you wouldn't have a job and salary.

Then he'd turn to the CEO and  explain:
The Janitor's job is critical, because without the janitor, we wouldn't have a clean and functioning building and facilities for everyone to do their jobs and be successful, and you wouldn't be able to come to work ever day."

It's really amazing that despite all the fancy titles, corners offices, and rich compensation packages for some, really everyone in the organization is vital in their own way!

We need to remember that when we deal with others that they are human beings--in the image of G-d--and we need to treat all with the utmost dignity and respect for both who they are and what they contribute. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

September 6, 2017

Learning To Save For A Rainy Day

This was so funny coming across this big bright red piggy bank in a thrift store. 

What a blast from the past!

I remember having one of these as a child. 

My parents taught me to put my allowance in to save for the future. 

When it accumulated $10, the metal door on the bottom would open and we could put the money in the bank.

It was like a game to try to get to the magic amount and get the register to pop open.

In those days, the bank had little books for your checking and savings accounts, and when you deposited the money, you'd get a line printed with the deposit and new balance printed in the dot matrix print of yesteryear. 

Again, these were all good lessons about savings and seeing the benefits in the toy register or in your bank book.

Maybe these were things that initially inspired me to get my bachelors degree in accounting.  

The discipline of numbers was great, but it was never as exciting as the promise and hope of ever new technology, but that's what added up at the time to me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 5, 2017

The Meaning Of Pain

Wow, I am so impressed with my daughter.

I spoke with her this evening and she has grown into such a smart, mature, and good person. 

We were talking about some hard times.

And she said to me so smartly (and I am so proud of her):
"The reason that we have pain is to avoid more pain."

Wow...think about that for a moment. 

Everyone gets physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain in their lives. 

Even little things like stubbing your toe, getting a small burn, or a paper cut--these things give you a instant or more of pain...but it jolts you into attention of what to avoid and to action how to protect yourself to prevent further and worse pain down the road. 

A little pain now can fortunately save you a lot of pain later!

(Or in the gym they say, "No pain, no gain.")

My father used to say about difficult life lessons:
"Better to cry now than to cry later!"

He was right--bad situations generally don't get better with age. 

Continuing the discussion with my lovely daughter tonight, she said to me:
"A person becomes better when they struggle. I've become better by struggling."

Again, like little pains, even larger struggles in life challenge us to learn, grow, and become better and stronger people. 

I remember as a kid--when we went through those growth spurts--it would actually hurt a little--some muscle aches here and some cramps there--whew, a few inches taller already. 

Growth hurts, but it's kind of a good hurt that only someone with the emotional intelligence to understand maturity and betterment can really grasp. 

No, I'm not advocating for self-flagellation--just that we know when pain and struggle is a defining moment in life--like shaping and sharpening a great sword in fierce fire. 

It's hot, but the heat is healing and necessary sometimes to grow as human and spiritual beings. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 4, 2017

G-d Created Evolution

So I've been thinking a little bit about evolution.

And I don't see any contradiction between evolution and creation.

In fact, G-d created evolution!

You see, in His infinite wisdom and love, G-d made his creations with the ability to change over time. 

We are not static creatures, but we are able to evolve, adapt, transform, and grow ourselves, our species, and our world over time. 

But, but, but...there are fossils hundreds of millions years old...how could G-d have created the world less than 6,000 years ago?

Well, who says G-d created the world at time horizon zero--if the world was fully formed with trees and plants, and fish, birds, animals, and people--then these could all have had age associated with and built into them already. 

Boom...G-d just created Adam and Eve--was that from the point of conception, day of birth, or fully grown adult?  Similarly, how old is the tallest mountain or the fullest forest when it was created? 

Time is not a function of G-d who is timeless. 

And the formed world appears at the blink of G-d's eye and it can disappear that way too. 

Similarly, we learn in the Bible how G-d created the world in 6 "days" and rested on the 7th, but who says a day is literally that.

Couldn't a day as in 1, 2, 3, etc. be phases of creation...where a day could be anything from a split second to a millennium or even a hundred million years.

To the G-d who Was, Is, and Will Be--what is a day, but a span of infinitesimal to infinite time to create His children and the world to teach and grow them. 

We are here in a infinite universe enveloped by the love of a limitless G-d. 

Evolution is no more a constraint on G-d then time or space is--to the contrary, evolution is a blessing of G-d that lets things develop and mature from the image of G-d to the imagination of His mind's glory. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 3, 2017

@Catoctin Wildlife Preserve






















(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

September 2, 2017

It's Just Bling

So sitting in synagogue today, my friend Jacob said something very interesting to me.

He was talking about some very wealthy people with multi-millions and even billions. 

And then he says, you know what the difference is between the rich and everyone else:
"Nothing!"

I asked him what he meant by this.

Then he starts listing off to me like this:
"Well, they live in a home, and you live in a home.
They drive a car, and you drive a car.
They eat food and you eat food."
And it was amazing how smart his words were, and it hit me how right he was. 

It's all sort of just in our minds.

Their homes are bigger and nicer; their cars are more luxurious and fancier; their food is better and tastier...but what difference is any of that really.

We both have a roof over our heads to protect us from the elements and a nice place to sleep. 

We both have a car that gets us from here to there and back again. 

We both have food and drink to fill our bellies and nourish us. 

Isn't the rest just a bunch of bling?

It's branding and marketing and the sense of luxury that some are better and have more than others. 

But beyond the essentials, we really don't need any of that!

What we do need is our relationships--people we care about and love and who love us. 

The ability to have a deep impact on others. 

To influence them and make a difference in their lives--in what they do and how they treat others. 

The ability to help people and society. 

The bling is just bling. 

The ability to love and influence that is true wealth. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 1, 2017

From My Cats To Yours

Diversity is a very beautiful thing.

Whether you're an orange, red, or green cat.

It doesn't matter--you are a cat!

All cats gotta get along. 

Might does not make a right in any catfight.

But brotherhood of cats does us all good. 

Does every cat need to stand up for it's daily food?

Sure, but there is more than enough catfood and nip to go around. 

I like to be in a great cat sea purring and frolicking all day long.

Live and let live--and love--all cats and dogs and people and others!

And from the great Martin Luther King Jr. 
"We must learn to live together as brothers 
or 
perish together as fools."

Shabbat shalom and happy Labor Day holiday weekend!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 31, 2017

VICE News Superior

So I have started watching VICE News and you should too. 

It is on HBO and is superior to the other big news outlets in so many ways. 

The intensity and clarity of their photography and videos is unbelievable!

My daughter said to me:
"This is clearer than REAL life!"

And she was right...I don't know how they do it. 


Also, they remove all the clutter from the news screen that CNN, MSNBC, and others use at the top and bottom of the screen--instead it's just clean, focused, and right to the news point. 

VICE puts the key messages in callouts right on the screen in large and easy to read boxes--the impact is you see the visual and the print message dramatically together and you get it and remember it!

They do this for their photos and videos.

Finally, with all the "talk is cheap" news these days, it is nice that VICE seems to focus more on reporting and less on subjective opinion. 

With all the failing, fake, and alternative news out there, it is nice to see that someone has invented a better news program.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Vice News)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 30, 2017

Always An Evil Cersei

So Games of Thrones session 7 was fantastic!

And the evil ruler of Westeros in King's Landing, Cersei Lannister, never ceases to amaze in her deviousness and wrongdoing. 

There is a great existential threat to the 7 Kingdoms as 100,000 strong army of White Walkers and a zombie dragon (as Air Force) invades from beyond the wall in the far north.

And while Jon Snow (King of the North) and Daenerys Targaryen (Queen heir to the 7 Kingdoms) unites to fight them, Cersei seeks to win it all for herself. 

Cersei gives her word to join them with her armies in the fight against the invaders, but instead she backtracks and plans to conquer them from the south as they faceoff with the enemy to the north. 

This is the classic treachery of getting the upper hand and working to divide and conquer. 

As the Queen of Evil, Cersei will torture and kill anyone in her path to power, even threatening her own brother and incest partner, Ser Jaime, so turning on her competition to the Iron Throne is just a walk in the park for her. 

Unfortunately, this is really a tale of everyday life...where people band together to fight big enemies that threaten us--whether from violence, poverty, or illness--and someone always uses the war of the day as an opportunity to benefit themselves. 

Whether it's arms trafficking, human smuggling, drug profiteering, intellectual property theft, money laundering or someone else trying to get rich, famous, and powerful by exploiting an opening for themselves, there is always a Cersei! 

Cerseis are people that don't care about solving large institutional or global problems--but instead are selfish and seek to capitalize on them.

While the White Walkers invade, Cersei is counting bodies of her enemies fending them off, while she seeks to take over once the battlefield is full of everyone else's corpses. 

Cerseis are people you know at work, school, in the community and in politics...they take when others give, and they don't give back in return, because they want what everyone else has and works for, and that is how they win the Game of Thrones in everyday life.

How do you stop the Cerseis of the world--anyone got some Dragonglass? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to HBO via the New York Times)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 29, 2017

Doctors In Houston

With the crisis of Hurricane Harvey and the rains still battering Houston...

It was so amazing to read this morning about the doctors who are going all out to help people in need there.

Doctors staying in the hospital for days to cover their patients stuck there and requiring care and treatment.

And others that are wading through the waters at there own risk to get there to treat the sick.

One doctor mentioned was Adi Diab M.D. who trekked 3 miles through a foot of water to get Anderson Cancer Center "to attend to a patient undergoing an experimental cancer treatment."

He did this so as not to interfere with the patients scheduled treatment for the re-engineering of immune cells to fight a tumor.

I'll tell you, there really are some truly amazing people out there--whether doctors and nurses, firefighters and emergency responders, law enforcement and military personnel.

They run into danger and disaster zones when everyone else is running out. 

Is it professionalism, dedication, duty, or an angelic calling to help people and the nation in need.

This is our nation at its best--united!!!--and helping our neighbors, saving lives, and putting others before self.

"Houston there is a problem", and as unbelievably horrible and unfortunate as it is, perhaps it is also a critical reminder of what's really important and a healing to our great nation.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 28, 2017

Thank You To The Rescuers

With all the devastation going on around Houston and the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Harvey...

I thought it would be nice to just take a moment to reflect.

First, the pain and suffering of the people affected. 

I couldn't believe last night when I saw this image of residents in a assisted nursing facility sitting up to the necks in flood waters.

Or this morning, when I saw a photo in the Wall Street Journal of a firefighter holding a mother with her baby daughter lying on her, rescuing them through the waters. 

With over 3,000 rescues performed for people stranded in attics, rooftops, in cars, and all over the city and surroundings, I also think it's important to recognize all the firefighters and other emergency workers who put their lives on the line to help others. 

The Houston area is expected to get 50 inches of rain in under a week, which is what their usual annual rainfall is. 

So there is massive flooding and damage from Harvey as well as 250,000 people without power. 

My prayers go out to the people impacted and gratitude to the people who help them. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Huffington Post)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 27, 2017

That's Lucky

So a retail establishment opened in the area.

They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 

I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:
"Lucky Cat"

Why a cat symbolizes luck I don't really know.

But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.

We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 

That's what Mazel Tov means--good luck!

But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?

We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 

With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month--Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur--we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 

We seek G-d's mercy and his blessings. 

There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 

Life is what we make out of it. 

What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy--did they deserve it?

I suppose it's impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).

As it says in Genesis (18:25):
"Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?"

Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 

How he tests us and tries us and to what ends...that is a matter of faith and conviction--and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 

The judge of all Earth...please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 

As to the lucky cat--wave us some good vibes--all long as we realize that we all need G-d's grace! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 26, 2017

Look Down To Feel Up

Listen, everyone has problems.

Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.

Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could've killed him.

Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 

And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 

But people make the best of it!

They have to.

I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson's Disease:
"We are part of the survivors club."

It wasn't easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 

When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:
"There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad...that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet."

It doesn't take much for things to get really bad in life...sometimes it can seem like we're literally just holding on by a thin thread. 

But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren't worse....and yes, they can even get better again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 25, 2017

Ever Feel Like You're Target Practice

Thought this was really spot on.

The knives get sharpened and readied. 

At some point, they come flying out of nowhere. 

Often, from all directions at the same time.  

When it rains, it pours. 

Some people latch on to the opportunity to try and make a kill. 

You do your best to duck this way and that and survive the onslaught.

Hopefully, you were adequately prepared. 

The big question is--can you hold unto your cheese? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark