Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

September 10, 2020

@The Amish Experience


It was a fun time at The Amish Experience today in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania. 


One and a half hour bus tour of Amish country. 


45 Minute movie about Jacob, an Amish teen, trying to decide whether he wants to be in the outside world or in the Amish one.


And another hour of so tour of an Amish school house and home. 


Felt like I learned a lot about their culture (including no TV, internet, electricity [just batteries and solar], and education only through 8th grade). 


Honestly, it doesn't seem like they really have much a choice in whether to choose the church and become Amish or leave, because if they choose to leave they are shunned (i.e. excommunicated)!


So you either choose you family, church, community, and a wife (and there is no divorce) or you run off to G-d knows where completely alone and "divorced" from everything you know. 


The video is when we stopped at an Amish farm and I went in to the big barn with all the cows.  


After so much time on the bus, I needed to ham it up a little and have fun with:


"How now brown cow. It is so nice to eat you! You are beautiful animals.  And thank you Hashem for making you!" ;-)


(Credit Video: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)


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August 18, 2020

When Planning Is A Joke

This is a wonderful example of horribly bad planning.

The College of Architecture and Planning apparently didn't plan enough space for the "C" of college and so it's plastered to the brick wall at a corner angle.

Talk about irony!

Would you want them teaching your architect and planners?

Oy this is just too classic. ;-)

(Source Photo: Facebook)
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March 22, 2020

We Just Magically Found $2,000,000,000,000

It's amazing how we can magically find $2 trillion for a Coronavirus "Rescue Plan."

This after we already wasted over $6.4 trillion (and thousands of our dead and wounded) through 2017 in unexplainable and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no known or lasting benefits to this country (while archenemy, Iran continues their pursuit of nukes unabated). 

And for decades, we haven't been able to find money for:

- Decent healthcare for all Americans.

- Ensuring our national security, including adequate planning and disaster preparedness for things like Coronavirus, cybersecurity, WMDs, EMPs, and for critical infrastructure protection. 

- Repairing our aging roads, bridges, and infrastructure

- Fixing our broken public education system.

- Helping our countless of homeless and needy lying the streets of our nation. 

- Restoring our space program to get a man on the moon again or put another shuttle into space. 

When politics are in play, there is plenty of money to go around. 

But when the nation needs proper care and feeding, there are no adults in the room. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 1, 2019

Being Jewish and Proud

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Being Jewish and Proud."
With roughly 15 million Jews in a world of 7.7 billion people, we make up less than .2% of the world population. However, despite our small size, we’ve been recognized with over 20% of the Nobel Prizes for contributions to the sciences, medicine, literature, economics, and peace. Most Jews tend to believe not only in a strong core religious education, but in higher education and lifelong learning, and others excel even when starting out and innovating from their garages. From Abraham and Moses to Einstein and Freud, and even to today’s Jews leading the Technology revolution–such as Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg–the Jewish contribution is truly unparalleled.

Until Mashiach, there will always be some people that hate on us and want to destroy us–perhaps and unfortunately, that’s just who they are. But we choose not be anyone else but Jews, because that’s who we are–and there is every reason to be ourselves, maintain our faith of thousands of years, continue to make awesome contributions that benefit mankind, and be forever proud to be a Jew.

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 10, 2019

Why Only Two, Daddy?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why Only Two Daddy?"
The father goes on to explain that these are the commandments that G-d gave to the Jews (when they were redeemed from slavery in Egypt). He enumerates just two examples: keeping the Shabbat and honoring your mother and father. The son asks, 'What are the other commandments?' The father hesitates either not knowing any of the other commandments or simply unable to remember any more of them on the spot. And all of a sudden, the little boy starts wailing to his father: 'Daddy, why do you know only two, why?'

Knowing the Torah and commandments is not only for ourselves to do what's rights, but also to pass on the torch to the next generation. It's not always easy to be good examples, but it's the challenge we all face. ;-)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 28, 2019

Rockville Science Fair - 30th Year!















(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 13, 2019

Not A Level Playing Field

Yesterday, dozens of wealthy parents were charged in a pay-to-play scheme.

To get their kids into choice colleges, prominent lawyers, business people, and Hollywood stars paid millions of dollars for bribes, bogus exam scores, and fake athletic achievements. 

Uh, let's give Bobby just a little extra advantage and he'll do just fine...

But while some people pretend to be so shocked that this is going on, the truth is that we all know that it's definitely not a level playing field.

All I have to do is drive by the local Mansions in Potomac, Bethesda or Chevy Chase, Maryland or in Northern Virginia and see the extravagant homes, schools, shopping, and neighborhoods, and you know there are the forever haves and the have nots. 

As the old adage goes, "Money makes money!"

If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth in the U.S., the chances are you will stay that way

Having the assets, information, connections, and opportunities seems to bode quite well for those who leverage it.

The worst part is that those who have these things often really believe that they are better or more deserving than others.

Can you see the nose elevated and those snooty eyes staring down on you? 

Wealthy parents cheating the system and paying off others to get their kids into the best schools--a surprise?  

Not a chance.

What the real surprise here is...that this time, they got caught.  ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 6, 2019

Trends In Homelessness

So the plight of the homeless in Washington, DC and other large cities like NY and LA is despicable. 

This photo is taken not far from the Capitol building in DC. 

The homeless are not living in tents in the dead of Winter. 

As the people pass by, under this particular overpass were no less than 4 tents. 

While millionaires and billionaires splurge on themselves, so many people continue to go without adequate food, shelter, clothing, plumbing, healthcare, education, and jobs in America. 

When G-d looks down and see the unsympathetic wealthy next to the downtrodden poor--and many of the wealthy act like insatiable pigs, while the poor go hungry and cold--shall the L-rd that judges all the earth not do justly?  

Yes, there should be incentives for people to work hard and contribute, but when the wealth is skewed so that more than 50% of all the wealth is owned by just the top 1% of people and the top 1% own more than the bottom 90% of the population--we have a system that is not just broken, but grossly unjust and inhumane. 

Corruption is alive and well, and who is there among our leaders to stand up and say and do what is right by G-d children? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2019

What Makes Happy

So the same things don't seem to drive happiness for everyone. 

Some like big jobs and lots of power. 

Others are happier with more work-life balance. 

Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.

Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 

Some like to travel the world.

Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 

Some like big families and lots of people around them. 

Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 

Some like lots of money. 

Other are happy with having what they need.

Some like to be tremendous athletes. 

Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as "couch potatoes."

Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.

Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a "good person."  

Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 

Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 

We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 

Happiness isn't a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2018

Training Them To Be Like Us

So I saw this in the supermarket. 

This kid was pushing the shopping cart with groceries in it. 

And a little sign at the top that says:
Customer in Training

His mom is nearby with the big shopping cart full of even more groceries. 

It's interesting how we teach our kids to be just like us and at the same time to be not like us. 

They emulate some things and they reject others.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

But no two apples are the same either. 

Teaching is an important component of parenting and schooling. 

We need to impart important lessons from the past, so children don't have to recreate the wheel in the present and future. 

But spitting out little clones is not helpful to innovation and the engine of "what's next." 

Sometimes, I envision that there is a really big war--maybe World War III--nukes are used and all our bits and bytes are wiped out, and we are thrown back to the Stone Age. 

All the teaching is evaporated in the vapor of the blasts.

All that's left in what's in the soul of the remaining. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 11, 2018

Blood Libels Unabated

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "The Jews Control It."

Unfortunately, the anti-Semites continue their refrain of "The Jews control the world" from Wall Street to Main Street to K Street.

But what they are completely missing are the true secrets of Jewish creativity and thought.

I hope you will read the article to learn about Jewish values and our faith. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 13, 2018

The Love Truck

Ok, the title of this blog may not be the best. 

Some may associate the "Love Truck" with human trafficking or something horrible. 

But this truck in Washington D.C. really fitted the name with messages on the windows and sides like:
Love not hate.
Peace on planet Earth.
One race, the human race. 
Left, right, make America unite again through love.
2 wrongs don't make it right.
Stop bombing, start educating. 
Smile, life is short.
Be kind to your fellow man.

I almost got to wonder what's on the other side of this truck???

Anyway, I know it's more than kind of kooky to graffiti up your own vehicle this way, but I still rather see these messages and actions than those of hate and violence in this world. 

Happy Friday folks!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2018

Radio-Activity

So earlier in the week, I had a great opportunity to visit the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). 

It was fascinating to see the reactor, control room, and all the cool experiments--not things you see every day, right? 

For safety, we had to wear devices that measured radioactivity and also go through machines that checked us afterward. 

When one person in our group went through the scanner, it went off with a red alert, and the poor individual obviously got really scared--like OMG is there some contamination on me or something.

But they went through again and it turned out it was just a false positive, thank G-d. 

I guess these really can be dangerous substances to work around, but still so marvelous how the scientists harness these neutron beams and direct them to all sort of fascinating scientific experiments. 

Being around all this science makes me think whether if I could do it all again--wondering aloud--whether I would pursue an education in one of these amazing scientific disciplines and work in the lab like a "mad scientist"--exploring and discovering new things and figuring out the mysteries of the universe and how the world really works. 

What a fun, fun field to work in!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Art by 4th grader, Phillip Kenney)
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April 19, 2018

Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled

Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider "the fundamentals".

But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 

Test scores have not been improving--that's not the student's fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as "old school" and out of touch.

Not only don't we fish for them, but we don't even teach them to fish. 

We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 

Wash, rinse, repeat. 

We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 

Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 

It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 

This is where agile education comes into aspect. 

Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 

We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 

No more years of development and voila here's something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, "What the F*** is that!"

So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 

Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 

Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.

We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn't survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  

Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 

Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 

Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 

Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 

The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 

Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.

We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2018

Got Skills?

I thought this was a very telling sign right off the highway in Washington, D.C. 

"Does your child have life skills?"

And then it lists things like:
"Cooking, budgets, sewing, ironing, time managment, communication, and fun"

The classes are offered by ActualLifeSkills.com.

I took a look online at what a typical 6-week class offered on Sundays for 3-hours at a time and at a cost of $345. 

It even covered things like:
"Handshakes, eye contact, and conversation starters
Voice projection and confidence
Party/guest etiquette, gifts and thank you notes"

And of course, aside from the cooking and budgeting already mentioned, there were more of the foundations such as laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.

I would suggest adding things like computer basics, child rearing, human relations, home maintenance, car mechanics, hunting, fishing, gardening, first-aid, fitness, and even self-defense. 

Since, we spend so much time teaching book skills, I have often thought why we don't spend more time teaching these fundamental life skills. 

We are raising a generation of kids that can score 1500+ on the SATs, but they don't know sh*t about real life and couldn't survive a week without electricity, Internet, or mom and dad taking care of them. 

Back to basics. 

Back to life skills. 

Back to survival. 

Back to being self-sufficient. 

There is no reason that we can't add these items to our broken school curriculums. 

You shouldn't have to go to special classes to learn to live life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 2, 2017

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)

In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.

1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 

2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah--this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.

3) The Plan to Take Esau's Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 

4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 

Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:

1) "People of the Book" - The Jewish people are known as "the people off the book" for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   

2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come - Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a "corridor" to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it's the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 

3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land - For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d's promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.
Ezekiel 11:17: "Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."
4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  
"(Ani Ma'amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah...Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him."
Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 

If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering--believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 28, 2017

The All-Knowing (Not)

Check out this guy's shirt:
"Those who think they know EVERYthing
annoy those of us who do."

What would make this grown man put this handwritten sign on his shirt like this?  

It's funny some people really do think they know everything. 

And they are the hardest and most annoying people to listen to, because their pompous arrogance blinds them to what others think, feel, and have to say. 

The only way to really know many different things is to learn from others and then incorporate that into your brain matter. 

Progress (societal and self), including thinking, is incremental--that's why education is so important!

No one (except G-d, of course) knows everything, but everyone knows something. 

So we can learn from everyone!

Don't fear other's people knowledge, skills, and abilities--we are a community and we really only work well when we function together. 

It's like on most of the survival shows I've seen--one or two people (even those highly trained) fail miserably at long- (or short-) term surviving, because "it takes a village!"

Overall, I like my father's humble version on life much better:
"I know nothing and I can prove it." ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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May 5, 2017

From Cradle To Grave

It's funny how in organizations talk about the lifecycle of people. 

From a full lifecycle perspective, it's "cradle to grave!"

In terms of lifecycle on the job, it's "hire to retire (or to fire)."

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

It starts with the cradle...we are born and go through a maturation process that focuses on our education and preparation for life. 

Then we get hired into our (hopefully) dream jobs, where we spend our careers until we retire--or if you mess up badly and get fired or decide to change career course--you may have to go back to "go" and "do not collect $200" and you get hired again for another career round. 

Eventually you retire and start your 2nd life in retirement, where please G-d, you have the health and prosperity to enjoy the fruits of your labor and your families. 

Ultimately, our lifecycle ends at the grave with the death of our bodies--our souls go on to Heaven and live forever basking in the light of the Almighty. 

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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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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February 20, 2017

Settle Down or Trade Up

So I always hear this question from people...


Should I be happy with what I have or should I seek out something better?


It's the age old question of whether to settle down or trade up.

When it comes to any decision in life...choosing a school, degree, career, place to live, an investment decision, or even your spouse and life partner--how do you know when you are making the right decision?

Maybe you like or love what's in front of your eyes, but you still don't know 100% if there's something better out there for you.

Every choice means you are settling in some way, because let's face it, nothing is perfect in life!

When is good, good enough for you?

There are trade-offs with every decision.

And it's a matter of what YOU can live with!

A guy may say, "I like this girl, but I'm not sure whether she's the one for me or that I really want to settle down with long-term."

Someone else says, "I'm studying to be an accountant, but you know I really always liked psychology."

And yet a third person says, "I like working at company ABC, but maybe I can learn something new or do better financially for myself and family if I go somewhere else."

So when do you settle down and when do you try to trade-up?

The dilemma is fateful because you don't want to lose what you have, but you also don't want to potentially miss out on something even better for you.

Listen, we're not prophets!

No one knows whether your investment in something is going to pay off in spades or land you flat on your butt. 

All you can do is try to weight the pros and cons of every decision. 

If you treat life like a roulette game in Las  Vegas, the one thing that is pretty sure is that at some point, you will lose it all to the house. 

So choose wisely and make sure you are passionate about your choice and that can live with it over time. 

Know that you made the best decision you could by looking at it from all angles. 

And most important of all, be grateful for everything you have--these are blessings from the Almighty Above and you need to have faith that He/She is guiding and helping you all along the way. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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