April 23, 2017

Nice Chompers

So this was funny-weird at the dentist. 

The dental hygienist comes in and does the cleaning.

Ultrasonic cleaner, scraping, polishing, flossing, rinse--all sort of routine. 

Next the dentist comes in--looks this side, that side, bite, bite again, looks some more. 

Then sort of out of the blue, the dentist goes to me:

"You got some nice chompers!"

Ah, never quite heard anyone say that before or quite the way this dentist said it.

Uh, a little strange sounding and feeling a little uncomfortable. 

I go out and tell me wife about this weird thing. 


And I start laughing and going...

"Doctor, you got some nice chompers there too!"

Somehow the way I said it, we both cracked up laughing. 

I'll never think of going to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist quite the same way again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2017

Water Cross

This was so fun in the pool.

The water was on and it was almost like a really high-speed jet jacuzzi. 

The cool water was rushing at me and splashing in my face and it was a nice moment of relaxation and feeling of life. 

For those who have been to the mikvah, it felt refreshing and like a renewal of spirit. 

Just in jest...when I look at this, I can't help noticing that it almost looks like Jesus on the cross. 

Except, thank G-d no nails, torture, or Roman Legion involved in this. ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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April 21, 2017

Breaking The Bounds Of This World Thinking


Coming from the Metro, someone stopped me and gave me this card for meditation, and I thought it was really insightful. 

"Changing the human mind to infinite universe mind"

Our minds are constrained by our mortality, materialism, and physical limitations of space and time. 

But if we free ourselves even momentarily from these, we can enter into a sort of limitless universal mindset.

"Human is incomplete because human are living inside human mind world which is one's lived life and thoughts."

We are beset by a near endless barrage of life's fears and worries--like that we can't fully perceive the metaphysical and spiritual world that is the real and meaningful one for us. 

"One can live forever and [when] he has escaped pain, burden, stress, and the countless kinds of agonies; his old self has disappeared and so it is great freedom."
Through mindfulness, centered and balanced thinking, we can go above the "false world" and enter the "true world."

Doesn't this ring fundamental and true?

What an amazing approach to thinking that we can use elevate ourselves above what we live and see every day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Rockville Meditation)
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April 20, 2017

Nuttiest Duck In DC

Just when I thought I'd met all the nuts in this town (Washington, D.C.)...

I ran into this one in the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Mall. 

Check this out!

The duck is head first waddling away it's feet in the air like a lost puppy.

Reminds me of too many folks who don't want to deal with the many consequential problems that our nation faces (fortunately, there are also many good folks that do!).

From the imminent dangers of North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to our staggering national debt (all of which I wrote about yesterday) along with other critical issues such as healthcare, immigration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. 

Then there are the all too frequent projects that are out of control and funding that is flushed down the proverbial $4,000 toilet. 

A history of dysfunction, fraud, waste, abuse (along with an assortment of personality disorders) have ripened for the picking in the election famous "Swamp"--that we've been promised will be drained!

Maybe that's what this duck is wading into...and what do you think he will find? 

This nation can no longer afford to go head in the sand unless we are looking to be a good-for-nothing dead duck rather than a thriving democracy and beacon of freedom to the world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal
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April 19, 2017

Nation In Denial

We are a nation in utter denial over our problems.

Just to name a few...

Whether from the threat of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, who smiled while displaying a video yesterday of nuclear missiles destroying the USA.

To the shooting death of three in Fresno, CA yesterday by a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" that was deemed not a terrorist attack.

To our national debt of $20 trillion which quadrupled in just the last 15 years under the administration of both political parties.  

Unfortunately, denial is still alive and well, while smiling photos of the North Korean dictator adorn the light poles outside the capital of the USA.

We don't like to admit our problems be it from despots threatening us with WMD to global terrorism that gives us no peace, and a mammoth debt that is sinking our national economic sustainability.

Smile for the camera!

Don't worry about big problem-solving. 

What we don't admit can't hurt us or can it?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 18, 2017

The Nature of Good and Evil


Like in the Bible...

When our forefather Itzchak was about to bless his son Jacob and he said the words (are good) like Jacob, but the hands (deeds) feel like Esau.

Words are cheap, and actions speak volumes louder!

Good deeds mean something, but words are easily manipulated.

We can all spot good deeds, and that is what must guide our judgement of people and situations--that is where the truth rests.

Like my father and grandfather always taught me--some people are good and some are not so good.  ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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April 17, 2017

Lying Down and Looking Up



So yesterday, we did something that is really fun for me...

It was such a magnificent sunny day out. 


The air was slightly warm, but at the same time there was a refreshing cool breeze.

We went outside, and just laid down in the wide open grass and looked up into the sky. 

I put some music on for us from the iPhone and just let it all sort of be.

There was a father and son flying this beautiful kite that looked like a huge butterfly. 

There was other people riding bicycles and running.

It seemed so freeing to be in the open space under the big blue sky. 

And to have the blessing of time and the luxury to relax a little and enjoy it. 

Thank you G-d for your mercy and wonderful gifts that you bestow on your people. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 16, 2017

North Korea and Iran--No Time For Nuke Time

We are at a unbelievably critical moment in history. 

North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons capability and are threatening and maniacal enough to use them. 

Negotiations, incentives, and phony deals have led to nothing but advancing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with our enemies and their continued vows to kill us. 

As Iran vows to annihilate Israel and chants:


"Death to America"

North Korea vows a nuclear attack saying Washington will be:

"Engulfed in a sea of fire."

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 72a) teaches the principle of self-defense:


"If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first."

Preemption is justifiable if the threat is real and imminent. 

North Korea and Iranian threats are very real and getting ever more imminent as their capabilities increase--and if anything, they have been underestimated and underreported.

They have continued to build and test nukes and the missiles to deliver them to the U.S. and our allies, despite pleas as well as carrots and sticks to cease their menacing actions.

The prior administration's position of "strategic patience" has meant nothing but indecision and a do nothing approach as things get worse and not better.

Now, we have the opportunity to destroy the deadly nuke sites before these despotic regimes hit us and our population of nearly 320 million people with a nuke first strategy!

We are a peaceful nation that believes deeply in freedom and human rights, but we cannot live under constant threat of nuclear attack on our cities and allies. 

A preemptive strike is a very, very serious decision, but we cannot wait indefinitely and let ourselves become victims of the most horrific weapons and their destructive capabilities and aftermath. 

What do we do if North Korea and Iran refuse their endless pursuit weapons of mass destruction and their threats to use them on us?

Perhaps, this is soon to be a rhetorical question if not the most dire of all decisions to make and the time to make them. 

May G-d have mercy  on us--if ever their was a time, now is the time to pray and mean it.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 15, 2017

Indian Wedding Rocks



Loved seeing this amazing Indian wedding.

The rocking music, the beautiful colorful outfits, the pageantry, and the adorned white horse.

While this looked like a relatively small and intimate wedding--perhaps quality balances out quantity. 

Although one of my good friends from India told me that he had 4,000!!! people at his wedding that was held in a stadium--I can barely even imagine how awesome that was. 

So happy...all life should be great times like this. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 14, 2017

Inspector Inspects Starbucks

This was the first time that I have ever seen an inspector in Starbucks...

See the lady in the white lab coat with hair cap and gloves...

Ah, she stands out like a saw thumb in contrast to the other staff person in the traditional green Starbucks apron. 

So I would imagine that she's not a doctor moonlighting as a barista!

She was checking here, there, and everywhere. 

At this point, she was taking out the milk and looked like she had some thermometer like device to make sure it was cold enough and not spoiled. 

Honestly, I was impressed that they have this level of quality control in the stores. 

We need more of this to ensure quality standards as well as customer service -- here and everywhere in industry and government. 

There is way too much dysfunction, inefficiencies, politics, power plays, turf battles, backstabbing, bullying, lack of accountability, unprofessionalism, fraud, waste, and abuse, and mucho organizational culture issues that need to be--must be--addressed and fast!

Can the inspector that inspects do it?

Of course, that's probably not enough--it just uncovers the defects--we still have the hard work of leadership to make things right--and not just to checklist them and say we did it.

I wonder if the Starbucks inspector will also address the annoying long lines on the other side of the counter as well? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 13, 2017

What ISIS Saw Today

So this is what ISIS saw today...

After the U.S. dropped the Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) on it in Afghanistan.

30 feet long, 21,600 pounds, GPS-guided, equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, and a blast radius of 1 mile!

The largest non-nuclear bomb in our arsenal that sucks out all the oxygen and lights the air on fire. 

It was never used before in battle, and it is wonderful to see that we are finally pulling out the stops on radical Islamist Terrorism. 

It's time to make them crap their pants and see nothing but spots before their eyes. 

Terrorists, there is a new President in town--and the game is up! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2017

Mice End Up Dead

So there are three main ways of reacting when in a bullying situation by someone:

1) Passive - You can sit back and take it for now, shutting your mouth and turning off your feelings, maybe even running for safety, as you get temporarily scr*wed, but perhaps maintaining the moral high ground and smartly saving your chips and choosing your battles for the right time and place to set things right and the record straight. 

2) Aggressive - You can fight back, make sure you have a good strategy, but you may nonetheless end up blamed or bloodied, or who knows, maybe you actually win the day, but also you need to be sure to win the war. 

3) Assertive - You can hold your ground, assert your rights, maintain your own opinions, and do what you believe is right, being firm in your self-determination, but you could be reprimanded or punished for not falling in line or best case scenario, you could actually end up being respected for it.

Listen, there is no one right answer, but you need to be a man and not a mouse.

Protect yourself--and as long as you don't go overboard or act like a jerk--be you, be proud, and don't let anyone mistreat you. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2017

DISGRACEFUL United Airlines


To all decent human being out there...

Think twice about United Airlines. 

They overbooked a flight and then forcibly removed passengers that had paid for their seats. 

What right does anyone have to sell something that they in essence don't have to sell?

And then treating their passengers like animals, smashing them and busting their lips, and dragging from from seats they paid for!

These passengers just wanted to go home.


On top of it, the joke of a CEO of United Airlines, Mr. Oscar Munoz, defended this abhorrent violence against his paying passengers stating:
"Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose [not that he regrets that they oversold seats and then beat the sh*t of this passenger], I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to do above and beyond to ensure we fly right [this is what he "commends" and consider going "above and beyond" and doing what's "right"--what a complete moral disgrace!]."

While Mr. Munoz had a heart transplant last year, apparently he truly has no heart at all--these are subhuman actions whose defense can only be considered to be the vacuum of any decency or morality in the leadership of United Airlines. 

If no passengers took their offer of $400 or even $1,000 to get bumped, then let them offer $10,000 or more--whatever the market price is to get the seat--but they have NO MORAL RIGHT to force this passenger out of a seat he legitimately paid for and was already sitting in. 

Either United Airlines should immediately apologize and extraordinarily compensate this harmed passenger, promise never to do this again, and fire their corrupt CEO or the public should boycott this disgraceful airline.

Where is the Federal Aviation Administration? 

Where is the board of directors of United Airlines?

Where is justice for this passenger and protection for airline customers?

Please G-d, justice will be done. ;-)
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April 10, 2017

Tunnel From Egyptian Bondage

On Passover, we celebrate G-d's redemption of the Israelites and the great miracles he wrought in bringing them from slavery to freedom, giving them the sacred Torah, and taking them to the Holy Land of Israel. 

His mercy and kindness endures forever!

While many people think that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and the desert...

Little do most people know that there is also this miracle tunnel that many Israelites took when G-d took them out of Egyptian bondage and exile. 

It connected them from Egypt and straight to the IRT subway train, which took them to the shuttle that then got them to John F. Kennedy International Airport and on to El Al planes to the State of Israel.

In G-d's world, there is no limitations of time and space...and He literally brought them on wings on eagles to live in Israel and worship at his holy Temple in Jerusalem. 

For 3,500 years, the Israelite Jewish people have inhabited the land of Israel--from their days and until ours, may Judah be saved and may Israel dwell securely, and let us bless and thank G-d, and say Amen!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2017

Third-World Office

So hooray for paper towels. 

A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 

That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 

I've been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 

In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels--yes, believe it!

Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut--high-tech security, not. 

In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people's coffee. 

Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 

Don't these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.

How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can't provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 

It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn't.

We're not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either--just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 

Wake up America--you're people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 8, 2017

Rivers Of Blood

So after years of brutal war in Syria and use of chemical weapons of mass destruction...

Obama and Kerry did nothing!

And the result has literally been rivers of blood in Syria. 

Obama and Kerry could have fired the warning shots--as President Trump just did 79 days into his new administration--but Obama and Kerry choose weakness and inaction.

The result of the Obama administration's inaction is that Russia has now comfortably moved and settled into Syria and that 500,000 Syrians are dead, 13.5 million require humanitarian assistance, 6 million are internally displaced, and 4.8 million refugees have fled across the borders.

Contrary to all who have accused President Trump of being complicit with Russia, instead we now see in him a leader who in fact stands up for what is right to Russia and despots like Syria's Assad.

Perhaps the real person complicit with the Russians and Iranians was Obama who let them ride roughshod over human rights and over America.

In complicity was not President Trump, but Obama secretly whispering to the Russians and caught on an open mic: "After the election, I will have more flexibility"--to do what Americans obviously wouldn't want me to do.

With regards to Syria's chemical weapons, Kerry falsely stated to the American people:


"We got 100% of chemical weapons out of Syria."

However, the slaughter continued for years and we continue to see chemical weapons used again this week with horrific pictures of men, women, and children brutally murdered in the streets of Syria.

But the weakness, disengagement, and leadership from behind from Obama and Kerry is hopefully behind us now. 

Stay tuned...next up is the phony deal that Obama and Kerry made with "Axis of Evil" Iran and the do-nothing with North Korea that has continued to lead them to a nuclear ICBM that can reach America!

So as we will soon start the holidays of Passover and Easter, we know that only G-d can make rivers of white water or of red blood flow mercifully or justly, but Obama and Kerry are the ones complicit in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Syria that they could've stopped, but didn't. 
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April 7, 2017

Managing for Humpty Dumpty Risk

So this was interesting...

I was in a meeting and someone was discussing the risks involved in a project.

And they mentioned the Humpty Dumpty Effect.

A bunch of people looked at them like what's that. 

Then they explained that it's the risk of breaking something during the project. 

Sort of like the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take to, "first, do no harm."

When we are planning, designing, building or implementing a project--be it information technology or something else--we don't want to break something in the process. 

That's the Humpty Dumpty Risk to beware of and it's an egg-celent point! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 6, 2017

Rhymes With Venus

So these were some funny stories recently...

First, I came across an information system with a comical name. 

Let just say that it rhymes with venus and starts with the letter P. 

Well not exactly that word, but it very, very close. 

When I heard it, I could not help but say, "That's an unfortunate [system] name."

That's the thing about names and acronyms...you really have to think about what they stand for and what they sound like or you can get yourself into some pretty ridiculous situations and problems. 

Second story is when I was talking to this lady and I asked how she was feeling after going through some surgery and then having various complications from it. 

She told me the pain and problems she was having, and the tests and doctors she is continuing to have to see ,and that physical therapy didn't help much. 

I'm nodding and empathizing and then after this went on for a while, all I could say in dismay for all what she had been through was "Ay, yai, yai." 

Then she asked me about how I was doing after my hip surgeries and I told her how grateful I was for the modern medical procedures and G-d's blessing that enabled me to walk again. 

But what was really funny is that she then starts going, "Ay, yai, yai."

And as the conversation wore down, we were both looking at each other and practically saying in harmony, "Ay, yai, yai."

Anyway...sometimes there's nothing left to say but just that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 5, 2017

The Key Is Calm

So what happens to most of us when we experience the stresses, disappointments, and conflicts in life?

We feel...

- Angst

- Anger

- Upset

- Frustrated

- Murderous at times

We even question, "Why me?"

But none of this helps.

In fact, it just makes things worse.

Because we compound our life challenges with more problems in how we react!

What should we do instead?

The key is to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed. 

Don't get rattled, disjointed, and out of whack over anything or anybody. 

These are all tests in life.

They are all fleeting. 

G-d is watching us and seeing if we have faith in him.

When you remember the creator and sustainer of all life then you can rise above the adversity before you.

Go beyond the superficial.

Experience the world beyond the earthly bounds of time and space. 

See the larger picture.

Breath deeply...a sigh of relief. 

There is nothing to be upset about that G-d can't make right for you. 

Face the challenges with a clear head, a brave heart, and follow your conscience.

Act with determination to speak out and right the wrongs you encounter. 

Remember, you are one with G-d and the universe, and all will be for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 4, 2017

Time For The Cruise Missiles

It is high time to stop being bystanders while our military is forced to stand mostly idle in the face of the heinous crimes against humanity occurring in Syria over the last 6 years and half a million dead! 

Today, at least 70 people, including 10 children were killed in a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians.

In 2013, Syria killed at least 1,500 in what was the unbelievable fiasco of Obama's disappearing red line on the use of such weapons of mass destruction. 

Unfortunately, we can ill afford to tolerate the irresponsible use of these dangerous weapons--chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear.

President Trump needs to show strength where Obama showed only weakness. 

It is high time to light up the cruise missiles into the heart of Damascus--goodbye Presidential Palace and then some. 

Aside from redrawing the solid red line against WMD and punish the Assad regime's criminal activity, we will also put Iran and North Korea on notice not to underestimate or mess with us. 

We must act, before the nuclear ICBMs and suitcases rain into American cities. 

Now is the time to correct the mistakes of the past and reset our national security for the future by restoring the peace through strength. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 3, 2017

Under The Feet Of Haters

So there is a saying in Washington, D.C....

"You know you've made it when you have your haters."

This is a very political town!

But more than that, a leader has to take a position. 

You have to stand for something. 

There are oodles of constituencies and no matter how hard you try, you will never satisfy everyone. 

Yes ideally, we always want to create a win-win situation. 

However, every give, usually has a take, since the pie isn't infinite. 

Compromise where possible, but hold your ground where necessary. 

The key is to choose a direction from your conscience and follow your moral compass and do the most good for the most people and what's right in the eyes of G-d. 

Unfortunately, some people will declare themselves your mortal enemy and try to stamp you out of existence just for being and following who you are. 

Many of us who have experienced racism, discrimination, slavery, and even genocide know this senseless hate all too well. 

Be strong of of good courage and do righteousness. 

G-d is our rock and shield. 
Psalm 27: "The L-rd is my light and salvation--whom shall I fear?  The L-rd is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid." 
So as your enemies advance to step on and try and crush you, remember that G-d will decide where their feet actually land and how they will fall. :-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2017

Why We Fight?

Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day. 

Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!

I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don't get along. 

She said something that I thought was really astute:

"If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!"

Think about that a moment...

Everyone feels they don't have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won't get their share, and so what happens?

Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox. 

Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!

So this isn't the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about. 

Instead, everyone has to work "by the sweat of your brow," and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.

Yes, truly "greed is the root of all evil."

What we need to learn and internalize is that it's more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass. 

Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it's fool's gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are. 

If only we had enough--in both perception and reality--then peace could reign among mankind. ;-)

(Source Photo: Google)
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April 1, 2017

A Sexless Generation

Oy vey, the statistics are not good. 

Sex in America is on the decline (and no, this is not an April Fools' joke)!

Based on this who can argue with President Trump that we need to "Make America Great Again"--and that should include sexual vitality along with military might, economic competitiveness, and social justice.

In the early 1990 and 2000's , Americans had sex on average about 60 to 65 times a year.

Moreover, for married couples, who are at the high end of the sexual spectrum, this is down from 67 in 1989 to just 56 times a year now.

This is a reduction of 9 , which doesn't sound like much--however that actually comes to 14% less nookie!

And geez, that's less than once a week! :-(

What's weird is that the statistics show that Americans working longer hours and watching more pornography actually is tied to a "busier sex life."

To me the obvious answer is that people are living too much in a virtual world of loneliness and nothingness. 

And they have lost touch with each other in the real world and have become more selfish and less giving personally and sexually. 

So while some people are busy infighting and infatuated with reading and generating all the fake news these days, it seems like they are missing the real disheartening and unloving American news of the times. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 31, 2017

Shabbat Candle Holders with Gorgeous Flowers

These are our new Shabbat candlestick holders. 

So colorful, and full of nature and life, and it makes me happy. 

I just wanted to give a callout to Mira (Pinki) Krispil from Ashdod, Israel who makes this beautiful artwork. 

Her expertise is in using polymer clay and glass and making it very special. 

You can find her Mira's wonderful work on Etsy.

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!
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March 30, 2017

Future Home For Mankind



Thought these artist renderings of the Trappist-1 Star were awesome. 

NASA discovered this star and 7 Earth-size planets around it that could conceivably have water and sustain human life. 

As we continue to gobble up Earth's resources and build incredibly powerful weapons that may one day soon destroy it, we need to have a viable Plan B.

Hence, the race to find another planet(s) with resources and environmental conditions where human civilization can survive and thrive.

I'm not sure what is more exciting than finding that magic planetary home of the future, where everything is new and pristine again like the Garden of Eden.

A place to go where hopefully we take not only the bits and bytes of our current world, but also the lessons learned to do it better again. ;-)

(Source Photo: NASA JPL here and here)
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March 29, 2017

X Marks The Spot With A Dot Dot Dot

Love this exhibit by Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, at the Hirshhorn Museum. 

Unfortunately, they were out of passes for this special showing, so I could only grab a quick photo or two. 

But I was amazed at how splashes of dots and color can make such am amazing impact on a room. 

Futuristic and yet surreal. 

Everything in the room--walls, floor, chairs, tables, fixtures, and ornaments--had the design elements on them. 

The only thing that didn't were the people checking it out and what a contrast that was. 

It felt like being in the fantasy world of Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory or something amazing like that. 

It is no surprise that people were lining up out the doors for tickets to this exhibit. 

What an spectacular vision for the world--so happy, so magical and so wow beautiful! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 28, 2017

People Literally Eating Garbage

So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 

They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 

I was choking watching this--it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 

Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 

And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 

They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 

When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don't stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).

G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 27, 2017

Loyalty To Others Vs. True To Yourself

So after the aborted Healthcare bill to replace failing Obamacare, President Trump tweeted about the alt-right's lack of support for the bill: 
"We learned a lot about loyalty [today]."

The Freedom Caucus refused to vote with the rest of the Republicans on the 7-year long awaited repeal and replace of Obamacare. 

Instead, they felt it didn't go farther enough to rescind everything from Obamacare they hated, and they chose to leave Obamacare as the solution for the foreseeable future, rather than get a replacement bill they felt was also subpar.

Whether this was smart or dumb, time will tell. 

- Smart - If down the road, they get a better replacement to Obamacare then what was being offered now. 

- Dumb - If rather than a better replacement, we end up either stuck with Obamacare indefinitely or get an even worse alternative later. 

It's a little like gambling Vegas--they decided to roll the dice again, rather than leave the table with their winnings. 

Sure, they could end up a bigger winner or they can lose it all, so we'll see. 

But there is another important question here:

What obligation did they have to be loyal and vote with their party vs. being loyal to their own conscience?

The Democrats have held the line better in terms of voting as block--and hence they have proved superior in many cases in wielding their share of power. 

In contrast, the Republicans have been more divided and hence, they can't get the votes they need to pass the legislation desired by the right--because somebodies are always holding out for a better deal. 

But Trump represents "The Art of the Deal,"--and a deal usually means negotiation, compromise, and that nobody gets everything they want.

So while everyone should vote and act their conscience, there is also something to be said for loyalty to the team effort. 

If everyone just holds out for what they want, then really that stoneheadedness will result in virtually nothing getting done. 

We've all got to give a little to get a little, as long as it doesn't violate our moral compass, core values, and faith. 

Loyalty also has to do with showing and acting with respect. 

And being disloyal to the team and leadership has ramifications.

Those who seemed as if they were being true to themselves and their constituents--may end up having really let themselves and the others down, and not just Trump and Ryan. 

Finally, loyalty is a two-way street, and I have a feeling Caesar is not yet done with the great treachery that was perhaps so callously inflicted on him and the greater national cause. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 26, 2017

Taking It Back

So I was watching Baahubali, the highest grossing movie in India, ever. 

Enjoyed the Bollywood action and pageantry and am looking forward to the sequel coming out this week.

There was one line in the movie, spoken between swordsmen that stood out to me:

"Spoken words and spilled blood can never be taken back."

Mean and harsh word can cut like a knife and hurting someone with words or deeds, can never really be taken back. 

Sure, we can ask for forgiveness and try to make amends.

But it's like once you let the genie out the bottle, you can never really put her and keep her back in. 

A veteran recently fought to have a VA hospital in Florida put the picture of the President up instead of the blank frame on the wall they had (some nonsensical notion of resistance indicating "not my president")--the veteran said about trying to right this wrong:
"It's like trying to put 5 pounds of baloney back in a bag that only holds 2 pounds."

People are doing bad things and saying bad these things these days that can't be just taken back. 

Family, friends, and colleagues--are fighting it out and splitting up.

Each side tells themselves and the other that their cause is right and noble.  

But how much of it is really just brainwashing, hyperbole, and politicking?

While our values as individuals and as a nation should never be put at stake, maybe we could get more done and better by working together than spilling blood--friend and friend, neighbor and neighbor. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2017

A Nation Conquered By Politics

So Obamacare is failing with rates spiraling up out of control and choices narrowing for people that need good affordable healthcare. 

And the Ryancare replacement plan failed to garner enough votes and has been questioned by the alt-right as not going further enough to change things for the better. 

Blame the parliamentarian, blame each other, blame the Russians. 

Between the two sides of the aisle, there aren't enough centrists, and the parties won't work together on a solution to this or anything else apparently--hence the utter catastrophic deadlock and lack of progress in Washington going on for years now!

The democrats passed Obamacare along party lines without a single Republican.

And now Ryancare similarly had not a single Democrat. 

Resistance.  Resistance.  Resistance!

This is how polarized and ineffective our system of governing has become, when the two sides love their position and power more than they love the people of this great nation!

The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians didn't have to fire a single shot...they just continued to shame our ineffectiveness with bogus deals and aggressive posturing, fed us boatloads  of misinformation ("fake news") to agitate our already divided country, and then they left us to split asunder under of our democracy's own weight. 

As the Republicans point fingers and the Democrats gloat--there is a great refrain of La La La Koosh Koosh going on--and the Superpower U.S. is looking not only asleep, but also fat, stupid and sprawled out pathetic with no where to go but up from here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2017

Locked Inside Your Own Body

So being imprisoned in torturously tight spaces and uncomfortable positions is...physically, mentally, and emotionally harrowing. 

Of course, the criminal justice system centers around incarceration (and less so rehabilitation) and for most of history--from chains, cages, and dungeons--the most vile despots have placed people's bodies in desperate restraints. 

But I have learned that people can be not only physically incarcerated and shackled, but they can also literally be imprisoned within their own bodies. 

My own dear mother suffered terribly with Parkinson's Disease and I watched helplessly and in horror as the degenerative rigidity, contortion, and incredibly horrendous pain made her suffer so. No amount of pain medication could ease her unbelievable suffering...only death itself.

In another instance, a colleague's spouse got sick with ALS and as this horrible disease ran it's course, the person could not move, eat, speak, and eventually even breath on their own.  Their mind worked fine, but it was imprisoned within a body that continuously closed in on itself and could no longer function. 

In both these cases, the body itself was the prison of the mind and soul--no bars, no barbed wire, and no high walls necessary. 

Another case, I read and watched about his week, was of a husband and father who suddenly became a quadriplegic.  Kevin Breen was a healthy and active 44-year old, when suddenly he came down with a case of strep throat that traveled to his stomach and almost ended up killing him. He survived, but had to have his hands and feet amputated. Can you imagine the absolute horror of this?

There are so many good things that can happen in life, but also so many, G-d forbid, misfortunes--it is frightening to think about let alone confront. 

Locked up or imprisoned within our own failing bodies, leave mankind looking out into the darkest and deepest of the abyss, and that is when we need G-d's ultimate mercy and to answer us more than ever.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 23, 2017

Needed: A Giving Hand With Smart Border Security

While we should certainly help immigrant refugees and those in need, we also need to provide adequate vetting and border security for our people. 

This does not mean that all immigrants are bad or that we are mean or paranoid, bur rather that we need to take smart and measured precautions in the dangerous times we are living in.

Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other such brutal terrorist organizations have shown they mean murderous business, and they are vowing to strike at the hearts of America and the West.

So while we open our hearts, we can't close our eyes!

Safeguard America and the good decent people already here, and at the same time be merciful and giving to immigrants, but don't sacrifice one for the other. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with photos adapted from here and here and with attribution to the New York Times and Alan Silver)
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March 22, 2017

UN Is Plagued With JEWPHOBIA


IT'S AN EPIDEMIC AT THE UNITED NATIONS.

It's a most evil disease of the mind, body, and soul. 

And it's called--Jewphobia!

And it's taken many forms throughout history...

- Hateful Anti-Israel Resolutions

- Terrorism

- Wars

- Boycotts, Divestitures, and Sanctions

- Genocidal Holocaust

- Death Camps

- Crematoria

- Gas Chambers

- Forced Labor

- Human Medical Experiments

- Kristillnacht

- Iron Curtains

- Persecutions

- Pogroms

- Discrimination

- Blood Libels

- Torture Chambers

- Inquisition

- Expulsions

- Occupations

- Destruction of the Temple (2x)

- Plundering

- Masacres

- Sieges

- Infanticide

- Slavery

WHEN IS THE HATE AND JEWPHOBIA GOING TO STOP?

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with source background photo here)
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March 21, 2017

When Little Girls Are Not Princesses

Normally, little girls dream of and are treated as the beautiful princesses that they are. 

But not in Rockville, Maryland last Thursday, where a 14-year old, 9th grade girl was brutally raped by two immigrants (17- and 18-years old) in the bathroom of their high school. 

She was mercilessly raped multiple times "vaginally, orally, and sodomized."

One of the attackers had previously been detained at the border, but then released as per the lax standards of border security that were in place by the prior administration. 

It is incredible that as a superpower nation, we have not secured our own borders and our homeland. 

Unfortunately, there are many stories like this, and I personally know of a girl from the Bronx who was similarly raped in the stairwell of her school. 

Forget education or competitiveness, when we can't even provide a safe and secure school environment for our children. 

It is not a strength to let our enemies gain the upper hand, but rather a weakness of our national character--to let bleeding hearts undermine our security.

Sure, we must be empathetic and caring for all people, but this must come hand-in-hand with proper vetting and due precautions. 

Every child in the United deserves to be a princess and a prince, and no one here legally or illegally should be allowed to destroy that present or future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 20, 2017

Budget Cuts Conundrum

So I'm hearing two opposing themes about the proposed federal budget cuts:

1) It's horrible because we are cutting into the bone and this is going to really hurt a lot of important government programs.

2) It's great because we have been spending money that we don't really have, and we need to finally reign it in. 

Let's face it, we'll never get such drastic cuts across the civilian government unless this country goes into severe crisis mode--which never happens until it's too late and something terrible has happened. 

If we even got half the cuts being proposed--which most people don't seem to believe will even happen--that would be significant and painful itself. 

The truth of the matter is that we are facing enormous danger on both the national security and financial fronts!

- Militarily--Russia, China, Iran, North Korea pose huge threats including those involving weapons of mass destruction. 

- Financially--We have a serious national debt to the tune of $20 trillion, an annual trade deficit of half a trillion dollars, and social security and medicare trust funds that are going bankrupt. 

If we let these threats run their course, we will eventually have a crisis that will be truly nationally catastrophic. 

So what's it gonna be--guns or butter--or national bankruptcy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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