Showing posts with label Surprise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surprise. Show all posts

October 9, 2020

@The Mariachi Brothers

The Mariachi Brothers came to Rockville, Maryland.

A nice Covid-19 cheer up today.

What a beautiful musical treat.  

Serenade me! ;-)

(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 19, 2019

Cockroach Tea



So I went into this store in Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and was looking around. 

I saw this chest of draws with all sorts of herbs and insects listed. 

One draw included a label for "Cockroach".

I asked innocently:
Do you have cockroaches in there?

The lady behind the counter responds in broken English:
Oh yes, there are roaches in there. 

Again, not understanding the relationship to the herbs for sale, I inquire:
What are the roaches used for?

The lady looks at me a little more intently and says:
It is for tea--cockroach tea!

My eyes literally bugged out and I go for a third round:
Do people drink that for health reasons?

She responds:
Yes, and it is good for managing pain. 

Hesitatingly, I asked her to take out the bag and open it so I could see for myself. 

I don't know about you, but growing up in NYC, we definitely didn't value cockroaches as part of our diet--in fact, we did everything we could to try and rid ourselves of these disgusting insects--but usually to no avail. 

The roaches survived everything we could throw at them!

If they are so resilient, maybe they can provide some health benefits to people (who knows--you've got to respect ancient alternative medicines), but I will only say this, you won't get me anywhere near this roach tea--and not for all the tea in China!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 1, 2018

Bad Little Mousey

So a colleague told me about an awful experience at work. 

They came into the office and had a big surprise. 

I won't ask you to guess what it was. 

I'll start off by giving you a hint.

It came from a mouse. 

Yep, they actually had what they called, "mouse poop" on their desk. 

Have to laugh even at the term...

But this is not what you want to have to deal with first thing in the morning, or anytime for that matter. 

What can you do though?

We share the world with other living creatures and if they want to poop on your desk--what are you really gonna do about it? 

I suggested setting some traps, but they said they want to see if it happens again. 

That's two too many times for me.

Now though I learned to be grateful if my desk is poop-free. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2017

Sometimes We Get Surprised

Sometimes we get surprised in life. 

Now of course, the surprise can be good or not so good. 

One person told me this funny story about how they were in the bathroom and they reached for the toothpaste.

They put it on their toothbrush and proceeded to brush their teeth.

All of a sudden though, they realized that something didn't taste quite right.

Lo and behold, they see that they had accidentally put Desitin (diaper rash ointment) on their toothbrush.

Yikes, that was nasty indeed (at least no mouth sores after that)!

But surprises, even when not so good, can be a wake up call. 

In this case, you better be more careful what the heck in put in your mouth.

And more generally-speaking, we need to pay attention to what we're doing--be deliberate, plan, and adjust accordingly. 

I remember early in my career, one supervisor telling me, "I don't like surprises!"

Yeah, unless it's winning the Powerball lottery jackpot or something like that, what surprises are usually all that great anyway? 

Sure, I like a my share of adventure, novelty, fun, and challenge in life, but also I'll take a mouthful of tranquility mixed with some incremental progressive learning and growth over Desitin on my toothbrush any day of the week. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 29, 2014

From The Bronx To Jamaica

So as a kid, I remember the older folks joking that "wine is fine, but liquor is quicker!"

As we went for some wine for Shabbat in Fort Lauderdale by the beach, we had a whole bunch of surprises in one evening...

- First, I was more than a little surprised to find a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape wine--in of all places, CVS!

- On the way to CVS, we ran into the Jamaican Man, from our last vacation, who makes straw hats on the corner by the beach, and he sees me and somehow recognizes me--next thing I know he is practically embracing me as if I am one of his best friends, high-fiving and fist-bumping me--yeah, me the Jewish boy from the Bronx (this was a riot)!

- On the way back, there is a lady with her kids in tow on the street, and all of a sudden she turns to one of the younger kids and says in her accented English, "That's almost a $100, you little SH*T!" We could barely believe our ears. 

What a lot of surprises all in one evening from the Bronx to Jamaica. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 2, 2014

Face Down

Rounding the corner, it was interesting to see this guy lying face down in the pavement.

Heart attack, stroke, mugged, shot...lying in a pile of garbage-looking stuff.

Other people walking right past him holding their cups of coffee...not even paying attention to him.

Turned out he's working, and there is an open manhole and he's practically head first. 

Anyone down there?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 11, 2014

Got Flashed

Crazy day...true story.

I was going out to lunch in Washington D.C. today minding my own business...

When two young women were coming down the block in the opposite direction.

As they got closer, they started to giggle...

And then all of a sudden, at point blank range, one of them lifts up her skirt.

Both of them crack up and run off. 

I am not often left speechless, but this was definitely a new one on me. 

Let's just say, my wife told me that I have some "splaining" to do this evening! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 12, 2014

Knees Horror Story

So I'm at a new medical practioner, and he sees on my information sheet that I am scheduled to have some orthopedic surgery. 

He comes out of his office and sits down next to me, and he is rubbing his knees. 

He proceeds to tells me that he had knee replacement surgery about a decade ago. 

I'm watching him still rubbing his knees, and I say curiously, "So how did it go--were you happy with the results?"

He says, "I still have some soreness"--and I'm thinking, after all these years, yikes!

Then he goes on to tell me this horror story about his brother (I think it was) that had double knee replacement. 

But after the surgery, the knees got infected, and they had to remove the replacements and put in studs (like placeholders) until the infection cleared with antibiotics.

I suppose he couldn't walk around without knees, and I was wondering how long this guy must've been laid up. 

Anyway, once the infection was gone, they put in new replacements for him.

OMG, all in all, the guy had to have 8 surgeries!

Needless to say, this was not the orthopedic success story that I wanted or needed to hear. 


But I guess it's good to know what can happen (bli ayin hara)--in all the gory details. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Isbye)
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April 10, 2014

Which Part of "Men's Room" Don't You Understand?

So after my swim, I'm in the men's locker room

There are dozens of folks showering and changing. 

All of a sudden in strolls a lady.

First she walks one way through the locker room--looking up and down the aisles.

Then she walks the other way through again--glancing this way and that way. 

The men are looking at each other like what in G-d's name is she doing. 

Some of the men start yelling at her to get out (maybe the others are sort of glad she's there)!

She sort of nods at them, turns unapologetically and strolls back out. 

The men are bantering back and forth now--like what was that all about?  Is she nuts or something?

On the way out of the facility, I stop by the front desk and ask innocently, "Do you know that their is a women walking around the men's locker room?"

One supervisor goes, "Oh, that happens. The men do that too--going into the lady's locker room."

Oh really--is this a professional swim club or a Roman orgy?

The other supervisor, a little more reasonable here, says if someone can point her out, he'll have a talk with her. 

The kid behind the desk says, "Thanks for letting us know."

The funny thing is there is a sign in the locker room that prohibits photos and videos--but, I guess in-person viewing is permissible--good to know. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2014

Restraint or Recklessness?

Like many of you, as I watch the events unfold with the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, I am amazed at the "restraint" being shown by the West. 

But I can't help asking myself why a military invasion by the Great Bear into a sovereign nation that is leaning toward democracy is being met with restraint.

Sitting in Starbucks, I overheard one young women saying to an older gentlemen that she did not understand the reaction of the President in saying there would be "consequences" and that no one took that seriously as there was no specificity, almost as if their where no real consequences to even threaten Russia with. 

So why all the word-mincing, dancing around the subject, and restraint by the West in light of this very dangerous escalation in eastern Europe:

1) Surprise - Was the West completely taken by surprise by Russia's military intervention? Didn't something similar happen with Georgia in 2008--less than 6 years ago? Did we not foresee the possibility of Russia lashing out against Ukraine to protect its interests when Ukraine turned back toward European integration and away from the embrace of Russia that it had made only weeks earlier? After Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and with all our "Big Data," intelligence, and military planning--how did we miss this (again!)? 

2) Duped - Were we duped by the misinformation from Russia saying that the 150,000 troops they called on a "training exercise" was planned months ago and it just happened to coincide with the toppling of Ukraine's President?  Also, were we fooled when the "mysterious" soldiers showed up without national markings and Russia said they weren't their military--uh, where did they come from--did they float down from the heavens?

3) Apathetic - Are we just apathetic to Ukraine's plight? Are they just a poor country of little strategic value to us? Are we so war weary from Iraq and Afghanistan that we just want to place our heads in the sand like ostriches even when democracy and freedom is threatened in a European nation of some 45 million people?

4) Fear - Are we afraid of the military might of the nuclear-armed Russian Federation? Is America, the European Union, NATO, the United Nations all not willing to stand up and hold Russia accountable even if that means a military confrontation? Not that anyone wants World War III, but if we don't stand up and defend against wanton aggression, how can any country or anyone be safe going forward? 

5) Optionless - Are we just out of options? Russia got the upper hand on this one and they are logistically right there on the border and in the country of Ukraine now and what can we do? Despite the U.S. assertion that it can project military power anywhere around the world and a defense budget bigger than the 10 next largest combined--how can we be out of options? Are we out of options because we tacitly understand that one wrong miscalculation and we could end up with WMD on our homeland doorstep? 

6) Butter Over Guns - Have we retrenched from world affairs, downsized our military, and emphasized domestic issues over international ones? Have we forgotten the risk that comes from a world without a superpower that helps to maintain stability and peace? Are we just under so much financial duress with a growing mountain of national debt, a economic recovery still struggling, and the lowest employment participation in over 30 years that we can't even entertain spending more treasure to fight again? 

7) Leadership - Who is managing the crisis? We've seen our President speak, various other government officials from the U.S. and European Union, the Secretary General of the U.N., the Secretary General of NATO, and more?  Who is in charge--setting the tone--deciding the strategy? Who has point so that we and Russia know who to listen to and what is just background noise? 

What is so scary about this whole thing is how quickly things can escalate and seriously get out of control in this world, and this despite all the alliances, planning, and spending--at the end of the day, it looks like we are floundering and are in chaos, while Russia is advancing on multiples fronts in Ukraine and elsewhere with supporting dangerous regimes in Syria, Iran, North Korea and more. 

Whether we should or shouldn't get involved militarily, what is shocking is: 1) the very notion that there wouldn't be any good military options, and 2) that the consequences are not being spelled out with speed and clarity. 

In the streets, at the cafe, on the television, I am seeing and hearing people in shock at what is happening and what we are and are not doing about it. 

Even if we get Russia to stop advancing (yes, based on what happened with Georgia, I doubt they will actually pull back out), the question is what happens the next time there is a conflict based on how we've managed this one? 

I do want to mention one other thing, which is while I feel empathy for the plight of the Ukrainians seeking their freedom from Russia now, I also must remember the events of Babi Yar where, between 1941-1944, 900,000 Jews were murdered in the Soviet Union by Nazi genocide and Ukrainian collaborators. This is history, but not so long ago. 

All opinions my own. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Utenriksdept)
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December 29, 2013

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

So Harry Basil was great at The Laugh Factory.

His costumes, impersonations, and audience involvement in his act was well done. 

In the course of about half an hour, Harry spanned the gamut from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Leonardo DiCaprio, Eminem to Michael Jackson, and from Batman to Superman.  

He was very animated and played with the people in the audience--so quick, spontaneous, and always in control. 

This morning, I took this photo with Harry Basil at Starbucks. 

As we started to walk away down the hall, my wife (who is wont not to take the greatest photos) says "Oh, I don't think the picture came out, it was too close."

And as we were going to start bickering, it was so funny...Harry pops up right behind us, and goes "Was it too close--let's take it again."

Another thing that happened that was interesting at The Laugh Factory, was when we were about to be seated, I said sincerely to the host "How are you doing this evening? Happy holidays!"  

He goes to me, "No one ever asks me that. You know what? I'm going to give you seats right up by the front," and he did. 

It was a lesson for all of us about talking and treating people nicely--what goes around, comes around. ;-)
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Fremont Street Light Show Las Vegas By Andy Blumenthal


Fremont Street has a cool free outdoor light show.

It is in the "downtown," which is actually at the north end of the Strip (go figure). 

The high-tech light show of 2.1 million bulbs is on a canopy covering 5 street blocks. 

The show lasts about 5 minutes and is beautiful.

I tried to combine the overhead show with some of the faces of the people walking down the street. 

Enjoyed the experience - like an IMAX and very creative. 

Interesting...on the way over, took a cab and talking with the driver, he told me how one of his colleagues found a box of chocolates in his cab this week.

When he opened the box, there was $300,000 inside!

Like Forrest Gump's mother told him, "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get" - in Vegas and beyond. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 9, 2012

Feeling Groovy


Who_cares
It was interesting, I was reading about how humans have six universal emotions.

These emotions are considered largely involuntary responses to stimuli, and they are:
  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
As I thought about these out of the six emotions, only happiness is the straight out good one. Hey, who doesn't want to be happy (maybe only an ascetic, but that's because they parodoxically get a type of happiness out of being unhappy)? 

Then, I thought about surprise and that is sort of a toss up--it can be a good surprise or a bad one. Most of the time, people don't like surprises and would rather have an element of control over what is coming, when, and how. So I would throw surprises in the you can keep it pile. 

And while the other four emotions--anger, fear, sadness, and disgust--may be helpful at times (in protecting us physically and emotionally), they all have negative connotations and implications. 

Anger usually means someone has hurt or slighted us. Fear impies that that there is something dangerous or scary to be feared out there. Sadness is the opposite of happiness, so it's a non-starter. And disgust is attributed to something vile or revolting and is usually something we want to get away from as quickly as possible. 

So, six primary human emotions and only one--happiness--makes us feel--happy!

Thinking about emotions as colors, we can feel blue (sad) or fiery red (anger), what about green (with envy)?  Uh, wonder why this emotion was missing from the list, but I would add it as number seven for universal emotions. 

Unfortunately, envy means we feel less than or jealous of the next person, so this is another one that doesn't make us feel very good. 

Maybe then expectations for how much happiness in life we should or can have should be tempered knowling there are six others to keep us busy and feeling--other things. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 8, 2012

A Race To The Future

This last week, we learned of the new defense policy that shifts the U.S. from a full two war capability to a "win-spoil" plan, where we have the ability to fight one war, but still disrupt the military aspirations of another adversary elsewhere.
While we would all like to have unconstrained capabilities for both "guns and butter", budget realities do not permit limitless spending on anything or anytime.
The Wall Street Journal (7-8 January 2012) had an interesting editorial that cautioned against reduced military spending and latched on specifically to focusing too much on the Asia-Pacific region and somehow neglecting other danger spots around the globe.
Basically, the author says it is dangerous for us to put all our proverbial eggs in one basket. As he writes, this single-focus approach or "strategic monism" is predicated on our ability to accurately predict where the trouble spots will be and what defensive and offensive capabilities we will need to counter them.
In contrast, the author promotes an approach that is more multifaceted and based on "strategic pluralism," where we prepare ourselves for any number of different threat scenarios, with a broad array of capabilities to handle whatever may come.
What is compelling about this argument is that generally we are not very good at forecasting the future, and the author points out that "the U.S. has suffered a significant surprise once a decade since 1940" including Pearl Harbor (1941), North Korea's invasion of the South (1950), the Soviet testing of the Hydrogen bomb (1953), the Soviet resupply of Egypt in the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Iranian Shah's fall from power (1979), the Soviet Union collapse (1991), and the terrorist attacks of 9-11 (2001).
Similarly, Fortune Magazine (16 January 2012) calls out "the dangers inherent in...long-term forecasting" and points how almost comically "the 1899 U.S. patent chief declares that anything that can be invented has been."
The Fortune article goes on to say that a number of the experts interviewed for their Guide To The Future issue stated that "cyberterrorism, resource shortages, and political instability around the world are all inevitable."
In short, the potential for any number of catastrophes is no more relevant now in the 21st century, than at any other time in history, despite all our technological advances and maybe because of it.
In fact, Bloomberg Businessweek (19-25 December 2012) actually rates on a scale of low to high various threats, many of which are a direct result of our technology advancement and the possibility that we are not able to control these. From low to high risk--there is climate change, synthetic biology, nuclear apocalypse, nanotechnology weaponry, the unknown, and machine super intelligence. Note, the second highest risk is "unknown risks," since they consider "the biggest threat may yet be unknown."
So while risks abound and we acknowledge that we cannot predict them all or forecast their probability or impact accurately, we need to be very well prepared for all eventualities.
But unfortunately, being prepared, maintaining lots of options, and overall strategic pluralism does not come cheaply.
In fact, when faced with weapons of mass destruction, threats to our homeland, and human rights abuses is there any amount of money that is really enough to prepare, protect, and defend?
There is no choice but to take the threats--both known and unknown seriously--and to devote substantial resources across all platforms to countering these. We cannot afford to be caught off-guard or prepared to fight the wrong fight.
Our adversaries and potential adversaries are not standing still--in fact, they are gaining momentum, so how much can we afford to recoil?
We are caught between the sins of the past in terms of a sizable and threatening national deficit and an unpredictable future with no shortage of dangers.
While everyone has their pet projects, we've got to stop fighting each other (I believe they call this pork barrel politics) and start pulling for the greater good or else we all risk ending up on the spit ourselves.
There is no option but to press firmly on the accelerator of scientific and technological advancement and break the deficit bounds that are strangling us and leap far ahead of those who would do us harm.
(All opinions my own)
(Source Photo: here)

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December 16, 2011

Decloaking The Adversary

Yes, we lost a drone in Iran and they won't give it back--that stinks!
Initially, the word coming out was it was a mishap, an accident, but the Iranians claimed otherwise--that they brought it down.
Who believed that they could actually do that?
Then there was word that the craft being displayed by the Iranians was a fake, a mock-up, only to reversed with a confirmation, as reported in Christian Science Monitor, that the drone "is almostly certainly the one lost by U.S. forces."
Well now, InformationWeek is reporting (16 December 2011) that Iran really did bring down the stealth drone as well as how they claim to have done it.
First they jammed the communications of the RQ-170 Sentinel, so that with its command, control, and communications (C3) no longer intact, it was forced to go into autopilot and rely on GPS signals to find its way.
Then, the Iranians spoofed the GPS signal making the Sentinel think it was landing at a U.S. base rather than right into hostile territory.
If this is true, then not only is all the captured sensitive technology aboard the craft (such as radar, fuselage, coating, and electronics) in jeopardy of being comprised by reverse engineering, but also as the article states, the Iranians may have demonstrated the means to be able to literally "divert any GPS-guided missiles launched at targets inside its borders."
Quite a scary thought when according to Reuters reports, Iran is less than a year from going nuclear!
So what is the truth and what is misinformation (PsyOps) to confuse or outwit the enemy and how much does any of that really matter if the Iranians have possession of our advanced technology along with the time and the nefarious partners to study it and use it against us?
Or perhaps, this is a great ruse by us and we intended for the Iranians to get the drone--tick, tick, tick... ;-)
We live in a new sophisticated world of electronic and cyber warfare and that combined with nukes makes for some truly dangerous scenarios.
Finally, we should never underestimate the capabilities or intent of our adversaries--surprise may be the the most potent enemy of them all.
(Source Photo: here)

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May 6, 2011

Avoiding The Ultimate In Surprise


Everyone remember the I Love Lucy show? Well, that show really epidemized what it meant to surprise and be surprised by all the antics that the main character, Lucy, got into--show after show.

One thing that's very clear is that no one really likes surprises (except maybe for some comic relief and that's one reason I believe the show was the most popular season after season).

So what's the problem with surprises? They are not inherently bad--there can be good surprise and bad ones.

The issue is really that people want to be prepared for whatever is coming there way.

Even surprise parties or gifts somehow seem sweeter when the recipient isn't completely "taken by surprise."

One of my bosses used to often repeat to the team, "I don't like surprises!"

Hence, the importance of what we all got in the habit of saying--communicate, communicate, communicate--early and often.

With the tragic tornados that struck last week across the south killing some 329 people, we are reminded how important early warning to surprises in life can be.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that new technologies are being developed for early warning of these tornados such as:

- Visual cues--Antennas that can track cloud-to-loud lighting, which is often invisible from the ground, but it "drops sharply in a storm just before a tornado develops" and can therefore provide early detection for those that can see it.

- Sound waves--Using "infrasonic microphones" we can pick up storm sounds from as far as 500 miles away at frequencies too low to be detected by the human ear and can filter out the noise to track the storm's severity and speed, and therefore hear in advance if it is turning dangerous.

Early warning saves lives...even a few extra minutes can provide the much needed time for a person to get to a shelter.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people, an early warning system was put in place there and again with the the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011, we see the ongoing need for these efforts to advance globally.

These efforts for early detection and alerts have always been around.

Already thousands of years ago, settlers built lookout towers and fire signals to get and give early notice of an advancing army, marauders, dangerous beasts, or other pending dangers.

Nowadays, we have satellites and drones providing "eyes in the sky" and other technologies (like the proverbial trip wires and so on) are being developed, refined, and deployed to protect us.

Advance warning and preparation is important for risk management and life preservation and leveraging technology to the max for these purposes is an investment that is timeless and priceless.

The challenge is in identifying the greatest risks (i.e. those with the most probability of happening and the biggest impact if they do) so that we can make our investments in the technologies to deal with them wisely.

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February 21, 2010

Life Isn't Always What You Expect

A big part of leadership and of life is understanding that things are not always what we expect. We have to be prepared to deal with strange and unusual circumstances. This is where emotional intelligence and a sense of humor come into play. So be careful the next time, you decide to look "under the covers". Have a look at this one.


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