Showing posts with label Discipline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discipline. Show all posts

October 13, 2017

The Yom Kippur Diet Plan

So Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar is a 25-hour day of repentance, prayer, and fasting. 

This last Yom Kippur, someone mentioned to me that some people take the idea of fasting and apply it to dieting during the year by doing a 3-day fasting. 

Uh, that sounds pretty severe and maybe even a little dangerous. 

But it got me thinking that on Yom Kippur we fast for a day and then eat a meal, so why not do that daily for dieting. 

Just subsist on one main meal a day--basically limiting intake of food to a few hours in the evening. 

This made sense to me as a moderate way that I could stay focused and disciplined without any food for about 20 hours at a time, but still give myself something to look forward to with a proper, natural dinner--almost like a natural give and take that I believe I could live with (at least for a good while). 

I thought let me give this a try!

And I did. 

First without drinking or eating. 

Then I rethought this after a few days and getting parched, and said just drink zero-calorie drinks, but no food or caloric intake during the day until the meal at the end of the day. 

And I've been doing this now since Yom Kippur 2 weeks ago. 

I have actually lost almost 10 pounds in that time and feel great. 

It hasn't been hard--except for one day when the synagogue had a mega Bar Mitzvah kiddish/luncheon and I sat there and didn't have a thing!

But otherwise, I go to work and all my activities, including working out--sometimes twice a day--and without any food.

It seems to be working. 

While previously, I stayed completely off any carbs, and still gained weight--now, I allow myself to eat everything (kosher) at dinner and am losing!

I wonder if I am on to something with this new "Yom Kippur Diet."

I pray to Hashem that I've discovered something good and healthy here and am committed to seeing it through. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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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)
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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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December 29, 2015

Why Yell And Intimidate The Child?

So at the table next to us this morning at breakfast was a mean looking lady and a fidgety young child. 

The lady as we found out over the course of their dialogue was the child's grandmother. 

And she wouldn't stop berating this kid, maybe 5-years old. 

Grandmother: "Don't you dare get up from the table until I'm done with my coffee, [and then this weird chilling] thank you."

Child: Obviously looking to run around and have some fun, "But I just want to go."

Grandmother:  Who has finished her breakfast and coffee and is just making a continuing point, "You'll wait until I'm done, and I say we're ready, [and again, the long controlling pause and then] thank you."

Child: "I'm tired."

Grandmother: "Then you'll go upstairs, get back into bed and go to sleep, and no tv, just sleep--you will not move!"

Child: Looks up helplessly sad.

Grandmother: Now the truth starts to come out, "You know I don't like the way you treat you mother. Your disrespectful! And that won't go with me."

Child: Appears to not really understand what she is saying and legs dangle anxiously off the chair, but clearly very afraid to get up.

Grandmother: "You'll learn to be respectful to your mother. You will learn!"

Child: Head leaning sideways on table, says nothing. 

Grandmother: Makes child wait some more and more, and finally, "Now we can go."

Child: Child picks head up and runs to take her hand. 

Grandmother: Sneers and smirks with her power over the child--she looks like a freakin' witch. 

Whole scene was sort of heartbreaking. 

My wife and I look at each other, and shake our heads.

This was not teaching or loving, but something else and it wasn't normal or nice. 

I say, "Perhaps, when a child is abused this way--day after day, year after year--this is why they grow up and then do horrible and hateful things."

It's amazing how adults take out their issues on children--and they think it's legit--but deep down you can see it really isn't--and the children and society pays for the sins of the adults. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 17, 2015

Everyday, A Catch-22

I took this photo of this guys' cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 

Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.

Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.

In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 

Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can't unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can't look for them.

In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22's, however not solving them is not an option...we must come up with a workable solution.

At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 

At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 

With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 

With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren't just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 

The list of life's conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face...there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard...you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 5, 2014

Just Can't Bear To Think

Whether though endless work, family activities, exercise, computer time, or whatever, people have a hard time just stopping to think. 

According to the Washington Post, a study in Science shows that people would rather do just about anything--including administer electric shocks to themselves--rather than having to just think for a little while. 

Fully 67% of men and 25% of women chose electric shocks over sitting and thinking for just 6-15 minutes!

People are "desperate for distractions"--whether through social media or smartphones and more. 

This is why many ancient practices such as Buddhism, martial arts, yoga, and other disciplines teach meditation--sitting silently, without distraction, deeply in thought. 

People are afraid to stop their endless running, rounds of chores and activities, hustle and bustle, and just think about what they are actually doing and where they are going.

Sitting alone with yourself--you have to confront you!

  • Fears and anxieties
  • Life problems of all sorts
  • Mistakes and personal inadequacies
  • Bad habits and even dangerous addictions

Keeping yourself endlessly busy is an enabler to avoid sometimes painful reflection, introspection, and even necessary self-help. 

While you often hear that doctors recommend a certain amount of activity to keep physically healthy, I believe that similarly, mental and spiritual guidance would be for carving out time for physical inactivity and instead focusing on meditation and reflection. 

Perhaps, this is one reason that the Sabbath (kept in various ways by religions around the world) is so important to the mind and soul--it is a time to stop the work and daily mundane activities and instead focus on your spiritual side. 

Contrary to what you might think, refraining from all the activity may be one of the hardest things to actually do, but stopping and thinking (instead of just continuously doing), confronting yourself, and making life course corrections can be some of the most rewarding. 

Can you stop and think for just 15 minutes or do you need that next fix of compulsive distraction? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 10, 2014

I Like That Technology

Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal makes the case for letting employees go rogue with IT purchases.

It's cheaper, it's faster, "every employee is a technologist," and those organizations "concerned about the security issues of shadow IT are missing the point; the bigger risk is not embracing it in the first place."


How very bold or stupid? 


Let everyone buy whatever they want when they want--behavior akin to little children running wild in a candy store. 


So I guess that means...


  • Enterprise architecture planning...not important.
  • Sound IT governance...hogwash.
  • A good business case...na, money's no object.
  • Enterprise solutions...what for? 
  • Technical standards...a joke.
  • Interoperability...who cares? 
  • Security...ah, it just happens!

Well, Mims just got rids of decades of IT best practices, because he puts all his faith in the cloud.

It's not that there isn't a special place for cloud computing, BYOD, and end-user innovation, it's just that creating enterprise IT chaos and security cockiness will most-assuredly backfire. 


From my experience, a hybrid governance model works best--where the CIO provides for the IT infrastructure, enterprise solutions, and architecture and governance, while the business units identify their specific requirements on the front line and ensure these are met timely and flexibly.


The CIO can ensure a balance between disciplined IT decision-making with agility on day-to-day needs. 


Yes, the heavens will not fall down when the business units and IT work together collaboratively. 


While it may be chic to do what you want when you want with IT, there will come a time, when people like Mims will be crying for the CIO to come save them from their freewheeling, silly little indiscretions. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 9, 2014

Slow, Smooth, Fast

A colleague told me a good saying from the Navy Seals. 

"Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast."

The idea is that when we slow down and practice diligently, we give ourselves time and space to heal and to work to perfect our technique, so then when we need to execute, we can do it fast and flawlessly. 

Embedded in this concept is that we do things right the first time, and eliminate risk and having to do them needlessly again...slow down and nail it!

In martial arts and other physical disciplines, this concept is honed by practicing in "motion study" and then "exploding" dynamically in executing upon the enemy. 

Slow, Smooth, Fast--practice makes (near) perfect. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2014

Bird Tries Again And Again

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

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

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

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

But this isn't what really got our attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2014

We're Not Deadbeats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2013

Rock Climbing With Rebecca

So we took my daughter, Rebecca, and a friend indoor rock climbing and it was awesome!

Each of them climbed three walls of increasing difficulty. 

They ended with a 5.7 grade climb and did it more or less with ease. 

We were yelling "Go Rebecca!" the whole time. 

The guy who holds the rope, the belayer, told me its not so much about strength as it is willpower--and that is a terrific lesson not just for kids, but for all of us!

I was really impressed not only with how they climbed so energetically and with such determination, but how much fun they were able to have doing it. 

I told my daughter that next time--I hope to climb with her--that'll be interesting (oh G-d help me...).

I took a picture here of the place on the wall for the 5.10 climb, and it was funny for two reasons, it has this crazy looking skull on the wall, and someone taped underneath a note that said "Brush Your Teeth." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 17, 2012

What Happened To My Shoes?

So yesterday, I was on one of the hikes of my life.


After a certain period of time, I said that we had had better head back, leaving ourselves enough energy to make the return trek.

But after a number of times at this mountain, my daughter was determined to make it to the major overlook and do "the full circuit."

I was so impressed with her determination and enthusiasm that I too caught "the bug" to just do it!

So we went and went--marker after marker--laughing, sort of, about how far we were really going--and would have to return.

But the weather was good--it had cooled off--and we felt that we could get there, and back, with some pushing. 

At one point, we hit the summit, and put our rock on the tall pile with the others left by those before us, and we went on to make it to the overlook.

We took some pictures and sat down on the rocks to take it all in--it was magnificent.

Then I casually look down at my hiking shoes, and notice something--the rubber soles had actually come loose from the rest of the shoe--on both feet.

My first thought--great products, not! from this company--darn it. :-(

My second thought--%^(*#$ how am I going to get back in broken shoes?

Making a long story short, the shoes were wobbling over the rocks, tree trunks, and terrain--and I prayed that I did fall or end up getting stuck barefoot in the hills. 

G-d was good to me and we made it back and I headed straight to the hiking store to get my money back for the shoes--I literally took them off at the counter and handed them in tatters to the customer service rep.

Now without shoes in the store, I walked around in socks to the shoe section and picked out a new pair--yay!

Some lessons:

- Enthusiasm is catchy and can spark you to do things you wouldn't normally think you could achieve.

- Never say never--who would think your hiking shoes would literally fall apart in the middle of a hike, but they can and did!

- Always be prepared--mentally and physically--for all sorts of eventualities; life doesn't just go the way we expect or want.

- Thank G-d for a happy ending--because it could easily go the other way.

- And finally don't buy brand X for your hiking shoes--they really stink! ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

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July 2, 2012

The Tiger Woods of Ping Pong


This 9-year old kid--Tom Spicer--from Australia is quite simply amazing.

Hard to believe this is real--but I understand that it is!

This kid throws a ping ball every which way into a tiny cup. 

Straight shot, with a bounce and even 4, off the wall, rolling off a roof, behind his back and around the corner, out of a window, a backflip while laying down, with a flick of a skateboard, with the cup in motion, even while bouncing on a trampoline. 

This kid is an inspiration with just a ball and cup, a million and one shots, and a big smile. 

Tom has been practicing for 5 1/2 years. 

Amazing discipline and creativity--seems right for America's Got Talent.

Imagine what we can do if we set our mind to accomplishing great things too.

Everyone can score! ;-)

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May 15, 2012

Getting Off The Debtor Highway


I.O.U.S.A. (2008) is the best explanation of our nation's financial problems and the deep severity of these that I have ever seen.

This video is a 1/2 hour condensed version of the full almost 1 1 /2 hour award-winning documentary.

David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the U.S. (1998-2008) is the star of this movie.

The documentary, with Walker's steadfast warnings, describes the 4 ominous deficits that are driving this country to Financial Armageddon:

1) Budget Deficit

2) Savings Deficit

3) Trade Deficit

4) Leadership Deficit

What is incredible is how rather than listening to Walker's exhortation, when the National Deficit was $8.7 trillion in 2007, just 5 years later now, there is a deficit going on nearly double that of $15.7 trillion.

We are facing a financial ticking time bomb that could result in huge inflation, economic stagnation, and the undoing of our economic and national security.

Moreover, towards the end of this year, we are facing the economic one-two punch of rising taxes and reduced national spending that could easily send our economy spiraling into recession or even depression.

Add to that rising interest rates, a financial crisis in the  European Union, a continued housing crisis and high unemployment at home, and a true economic reckoning is at hand.

Watch I.O.U.S.A. and become proponents for financial discipline for ourselves and for the country.

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May 10, 2012

Oh Deer!

This is an amazing photo by my daughter, Michelle Blumenthal. 

This deer just tried to jump a fence, but got impaled right through its neck--yikes! 

Truly a life lesson--it is good to reach high for what you want, but not to overreach. 

It really is a fine balance and takes self-awareness, discipline, and some good fortune. 

We have to know how much and how quickly to push ourselves to grow past prior limitations, but also recognize just how far we can make it on the next leap. 

Maybe that's one reason an incremental or phased approach is good.

It enables us to move ever forward, carefully planning and navigating our next steps, while hopefully not getting unnecessarily hung up by the life obstacles we must overcome. 

Good luck everyone!

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December 21, 2011

Getting Control By Getting Back To Basics

I don't know if you've seen this--it's pretty popular, but I just really liked it:
“Beware of your thoughts, they become your words.
Beware of your words, they become your actions.
Beware of your actions, they become your habits.
Beware of your habits, they become your character.
Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.”

To me it just makes so much sense--and it's how we can either get ourselves on a track for successful living or potentially into some pretty big trouble:

It starts with a simple thought--good or bad--light bulb goes on, bling!
Utter the thought (in word) and it begins to take form--blah, blah, blah.
Put that thought into action, and now--boy oh boy--what have you done?
Repeat once, twice, three times, and you have a habit--or in Jewish tradition a "Chazakah," something firm or established--think of it as, you're hooked.
Habits sure as heck breed character--and don't pretend otherwise...
And your character is your calling card with others and ultimately with G-d.

The good thing is that we have 5 steps to intervene--to gain control over where we are going with our lives.

And we can turn things around, at any time.
- Change your thinking.
- Clean up your mouthpiece.
- Act with kindness.
- Repeat only the things you want to ingrain.
- Guard your character through regular monitoring and course correction.

(Source Photo: here)

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March 20, 2011

A Rocky Moment

I was searching for just the right clip for how I feel about determination and perseverance, discipline and focus--and this is it.

Fight the good fight--Go Rocky!

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June 4, 2008

Good to Great and Enterprise Architecture

What makes a good organization become great in terms of technology?

In the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, the author describes a five year study conducted in organizational greatness and what makes a good enterprise become great. Here are some finding in terms of achieving technology success:
  • Align technology with your mission—the key question that drives the enterprise’s technology is whether it fits directly with “what you are deeply passionate about…what you can be the best in the world at…[and] what drives your economic engine.”Through the User-centric EA target architecture, transition plan, and IT governance, EA moderates new investments in IT so they align with mission requirements and priorities.
  • Technology enables mission execution—“Good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it…a company can’t remain a laggard and hope to be great, but technology by itself is never a primary cause of either of greatness or decline." User-centric EA synthesizes business and technology information to enhance decision-making. EA ensures that the organization’s technology direction and investments enable mission.
  • Culture of discipline—Good-to-great companies have disciplined thought and action. They “respond with thoughtfulness and creativity, driven by a compulsion to turn unrealized potential into results; mediocre companies react and lurch, motivated by fear of being left behind." User-centric EA is a structured approach to managing and integrating business and technology. EA ensures that the organization follows an adaptable plan and does not get lurched around by the changing market, competition, or technology tides.
  • Change incrementally—“‘crawl, walk, run’ can be a very effective approach, even during times of rapid and radical technological change.” User-centric EA develops the target and transition plan for the organization, which ensures an approach of incremental change. New IT investments and business process improvements are done in a phased approach, rather than trying to “eat the elephant in one bite.”
In short, User-centric EA is a perfect fit with the conclusions of Jim Collins research into good-to-great companies.
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