April 15, 2019

The Passover Menorah

It's Passover this week, not Chanukah. 

So what's with the menorah?

Well my friend, John Akkus (of Akkus Silver Touch), made this beautiful piece for me. 

I love the fine handiwork of copper, brass, crystals, Jewish symbols (Stars of David) and bold colors of this amazing menorah. 

John sells his art at the annual Suglarloaf Festivals in the Spring. 

I am so glad I found this wonderful menorah--it is beautiful all year long (through Chanukah and Passover). 

Thank you John and nice job!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Theater And A Bagel

We stopped in at the Flying V Awesome-A-Thon yesterday. 

How can anything "awesome" not be good? 

Flying V mixes it up with the arts and culture. 

They combine theater with wrestling!

Essentially, this group tries to add adventure and combat to the more staid dramatic performances. 

Anything that brings theater more alive is definitely a good thing. 

We got to sit in on the event organizers doing a live podcast and could definitely see their enthusiasm for "Shakespeare and training" and becoming a success story.  

Anyway, they did have some snacks at the event, and this colorful bagel was definitely the standout. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 14, 2019

Ilhan Omar - Laughing At Terrorism Against America

It's time to stop defending this anti-American hate-monger who sits in the esteemed House of Representatives.

Omar's words: 
When I was in college, I took at terrorism class....we learned the ideology...Every time the professor said Al Qaeda, his shoulder went back {in intensity/fear}...We are laughing his name.

Watch her video here mocking Americans about terrorists, Al Qaeda--the same who killed 3,000 people on 9/11.

This is just one of many instances of her extreme callousness, like where she recently said casually about 9/11, "Some people did something"--that something which was a mass murder terror attack on American soil. 

As we contemplate the hate-mongering of Ilhan Omar, we should think about what Luthern pastor, Martin Niemoller once cautioned: 
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
This isn't about left and right, but about hatred, bigotry, and racism at the highest levels, and we need to stand together against it. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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The Mitzvah of Vaccination

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The Mitzvah of Vaccination."
According to the CDC, "Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps, or rubella"...for yourself, your families, your community, and for all the other innocent people out there who want to be and stay healthy, please get vaccinated; do your part as a good citizen and Jew.

Getting vaccinated–it is a mitzvah and please G-d, for all, a L’Chaim!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2019

Gotta Love FANUC


I love FANUC industrial robots. 

They are made by a secretive company in Japan and they are #1 in workplace automation worldwide! 

They have over half a million installed industrial robots around the world.

Their robots are on assembly lines making everything from "cars and smartphones to beverages and drugs."  They also are in Tesla and Amazon...so you know they are pretty much everywhere. 

FANUC has customers in 108 countries supported by 263 service locations. 

Their robots are made by...that's right other robots...80% is automated

These robots are strong, fast, and precise, and they can do dangerous work. 

This company is the future of jobs, productivity, efficiency. 

But of course, people are still the brains behind the brawn.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2019

Israel 4th Nation To Reach the Moon Surface - Mazel Tov!


What an unbelievable achievement for Israel. 

Even without a soft landing, Israel is the 4th country in the world to reach the moon surface.

The Moon Club of Just Four:
USA - The Most Powerful
Russia - The Largest by Landmass
China - The Largest by Number of People
Israel - The Holy Land!

Mazel Tov on this truly great accomplishment.

We are all so proud of you!  ;-)
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Black Hole--What's Really Important?

Amazing beautiful photos of a black hole from 55 million light years (311 million trillion miles) away. 

It measures about 25 billion miles across--about the size of 29,000 suns. 

If this doesn't make you (with all the money, smarts, good looks, and ego to match) feel small, nothing will. 

We are but a speck of dust in this vast universe (maybe not even that). 

Perspective is in order for your life and what it means. 

Forget the money-grubbing and honor-seeking.

Realize what's really important is what you do in terms of choosing right from wrong and good over evil in every small thing you do.  ;-)

(Photo Credit: Event Horizon Telescope)
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April 10, 2019

Cats of Israel





Just wanted to share these photos of some lovely cats from Israel.

There are so many cats just roaming the streets, shops, gardens, and alleyways.

These don't run from people, but are part of the landscape itself.

Almost like a soul in each one that is living a peaceful life anew in the Holy Land. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2019

Solving Computer Problems

Funny T-Shirt on solving computer problems:

Does it work?

Did you screw with it?

Does anyone know?

Can you blame anyone else?

This little flowchart seems to capture so many issues in the office like:

- Accountability

- Problem-solving

- Doing the right thing

Oh, maybe that's a different flowchart. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 8, 2019

Extra Large Sizes

Obesity rates have been consistently growing in this country.

This is concerning for all sorts of health effects (including unfortunately Cancer). 

Many of us struggle with our weight and it is not easy to fight it especially given the processed foods and carbs all around us. 

The picture as of 2015 is that almost 40% of Americans are categorized as obese (versus a below average of 18% in Israel)  

In this context, this store sign in Israel for big and tall clothing was off the charts. 

Talking about extra large sizes for people...

Check out how many "Xs" as in XL this store is advertising? 

A full 11 Xs (after that I lost count)!

Hey, that is a large size for anyone. 

What does a size 11 XL look like.

Now that's something that I don't have a good picture of.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2019

@Strathmore With Violin Virtuoso Zoltan Maga





Nice time today at Strathmore Concert Hall. 

Listened to beautiful music by Violin Virtuoso Zoltan Maga and The Budapest Gypsy Orchestra.

Zoltan was amazing and he played the violin with expertise that I have rarely seen in my life.

It was as of the violin literally came alive in his hands.

His son, Zoltan, Jr. also played wonderfully and seems to be a "chip off the old block."

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Zoltan and the orchestra play a pretty mean Hava Nagillah!

Also, the Hungarian Ambassador was there to welcome Zoltan. 

It was beautiful at the end when they told how Zoltan does many charity concerts and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to needy orphan homes. 

I shook Zoltan's hand, but I could tell he was very protective of his magic hands.

Truly, he is a master and you can see the skill from Hashem in him--it was amazing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

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Bar Mitzvah Speech Page 3

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Bar Mitzvah Speech Page 3."
I wondered to myself how come this bar mitzvah boy didn’t end his speech with the traditional thank you to: my loving mother and father, my dear grandparents, my annoying brothers and sisters, and all my terrific uncle and aunts who came from Israel, Europe, and Canada to be with me here on this special day? There was none of that, and I was puzzled — how can he not thank everyone who made this day possible?
This was a true lesson about always being prepared and resilient, because that is what true empowerment is all about. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 5, 2019

Batsh*t Crazy

So have you ever dealt with these types of people?

They are what is commonly referred to as:
"Batsh*t Crazy!"

Some telltale signs in combination:

- Loud

- Out of control (off the spectrum)

- Exaggerated thinking/delusional

- Feelings of victimhood/paranoia/anger

- Gesturing wildly 

- Fingers tightly extended or clenched into fists

- Banging on the table/wall 

- Sharpening facial lines

- Clenching of the lips/teeth

- Bugged out/staring eyes

- Dark, hallowed-out eye sockets

- Disheveled hair/clothes

- Unkept/dirty/smelly

- In your face/space

- Potentially violent/dangerous

When you are dealing with batshit crazy...watch out!

You can't reason with them. You can't confront them.  You can't evade them.  

They have you in their sights. 

Scary, right? 

BTW, I looked up the derivation of this term:

It come from "there is nothing at all going on upstairs"--such that the bells are no longer ringing in the church tower, and hence the bats are coming to rest there, and they have been there so long that the batsh*t has built up.

There is certainly a lot of batshit from what I can see! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to geralt)
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April 4, 2019

Selling CRAP

I just thought this was an interesting acronym that Amazon uses for selling unprofitable knick knacks.

They call it:
CRAP

It stands for:

Can't Realize A Profit. 

Sometimes, you see people buying stuff, lots of stuff, and it's not important--often, it's all a lot of junk. 

But they like to shop--bordering on shopsholics' compulsion. 

Maybe they don't even have a lot of money for this stuff.

However, just the act of buying it--of having some control in their lives and some freedom of the purse--makes them feel good and buy and hoard more and more things. 

Likely it ends up in Goodwill, recyclables, the attic, or the trash. 

Is it crap?

Well you can't make realize a profit on it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 3, 2019

Relax, It's Just Sex

Just thought this was a really funny-sad display in the window of this store in Tel Aviv. 

It says:
Relex It's Just Sex
Forget that Relax is spelled wrong. 

But advertising for sexual items in such a casual way...like it's sex and what's the big deal.

Maybe I am old school, where sex actually meant a deep personal relationship and emotional intimacy. 

...Where you partner was also your spouse and best friend.

Now--unfortunately--it's just sex!

I think as a society that we have lost something here. 

...Something important. 

If it's just sex, and it's just with anyone, then what does that leave for us with that someone truly special in our lives? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2019

On Taste And Smell

Just wanted to share this saying (translated from Hebrew) that I like:
On taste and smell, there is no argument.

What tastes or smells good or bad to one person versus another is not up for debate. 

Each person has their own taste buds and odor senses.

Some people may be more or less sensitive to different tastes and smells. 

So there is no arguing there.

You either like or you don't like. 

That's your prerogative!

Don't make a big stink about it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2019

Victory Or Defeat

I was reading Vladimir Jabotinsky's "Story of My Life."

And there is this quote that I really like attributed to Kipling in it:
Victory or defeat: learn to accept both with equanimity since both are deceptions.
I just thought this is profound.  

We never really fully win or lose. 


Everything is on a spectrum. 

And where we think we are on that spectrum is often not even nearly correct. 

You think you won that one, but guess what someone else has outsmarted you and you don't even know it yet. 

Also, wins can be easily followed by loses and vice versa.

Things can turn on a dime and who's up becomes who's down--as the wheel of life turns and turns again. 

Recognize that you don't control everything--actually, the only thing you do control is how you react and behave.

Everything else is a test to teach you and help you grow. 

And as I heard from a speaker yesterday, "you can't make up in space, what you have lost in time."

Victory or defeat, both are deceptions. 

Only how you choose to act is the real win or lose. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 31, 2019

Meeting The Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "Remembering Amos Oz."

Wow, this was so awesome today--I got to shake hands with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

We went to the memorial today for famous Israeli author, Amos Oz. 
I love Oz’s literary works–he is a genius–even as I find myself disagreeing with some of his ideology: Yes, I agree with his humanism and the need to have peace with the Palestinians, but also I am steadfast that Israel must remain strong in the face of the numerous threats it faces, especially after the terrible lessons of the Holocaust. However, as much as I came to honor Oz, I felt is was a dishonor to him that the memorial was in great part turned into a political discourse for leftists (even as it was stated that Oz himself separated his pens for literature and politics).

I am convinced that in the end, it will be the moderates, and not the proliferating extremists (left or right) that bring peace, security, and justice to Israel and the Palestinians. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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March 30, 2019

This Is The IT Help Desk

This was a funny true story that happened recently. 

Someone found a roach walking around their desk in the office. 

Not knowing who to call...they call the (IT) Help Desk.


Hello. What is the asset number on the device you are calling about?


Asset Number! You don't need my asset number.


Well, what is the nature of your problem?


I'll tell you what my problem is. The problem is that I have a cockroach walking around on my desk!"


Ah, do you know that you are calling the IT!!! Help Desk?


Ah, yes I do. Can you give me the number for who to call about this roach?


Ah, you are calling the wrong number. Why don't you try finding out who your facilities person is?


Facilities person! But you guys are the Help Desk! Can't you tell me how to get help to get rid of this roach? And by the way--where there is one, there are definitely more.


Ah, We don't typically handle roach problems, but thank you for calling the Help Desk. {{click}}

I know many organizations are moving to Enterprise Service Desks where you can call and get help for all sorts of issues at work. 

Even then, I wonder if the employees answering the line will be trained in who to call to get a Roach Motel or some Raid. 

Perhaps this is the next evolution of support.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2019

Jerusalem's Amazing New Bomb Shelter



Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Jerusalem's Amazing New Bomb Shelter."
Israel Railways zips passengers north-south between Nahariya and Be’er Sheva and east-west between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv...but the best thing of all is that it also serves for the strategic defense for its citizens...there are provisions for 3,000 to 5,000 people to shelter from a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack on the holy city of Jerusalem
Thankfully, Israel is growing as a democracy, a Startup Nation, and as a light unto nations, yet it must remain vigilant and strong against enemies that could even attempt the unthinkable. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 28, 2019

Who Is The Most Dangerous?

Recently, I started watching this show called "Billions."

I'm in the middle of Season 2, and it is a brilliant and mesmerizing show that depicts the battle between the CEO of a Wall Street Hedge Fund and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY.

Ands it is a true battle of wits, might, and it gets ugly in every way. 

(I won't spoil the show...)

But there is one line from the show that came out in the heat of an exchange between the two at the end of Season One that I wanted to share:
The only thing more dangerous than a person with unlimited resources is a person who has nothing to lose.

When you think about it, there is tremendous wisdom and truth in this, and a poignant lesson to be learned for every person, organization, and even nation of great power.

No matter how much money, people, and assets you may have to fight...

...if the other guy has nothing to lose and is willing to go do the unthinkable then we have a very big problem indeed. 
Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

From those desperate and willing to act as suicide bombers to those that would actually push the button on a nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack, there is no winning even if you are the last one left standing.

The other guy who feels he has already lost is willing to take you with him by any and all means. 

Therefore, we cannot and should not ever think that the battle against evil is won, because even when the opponent appears in all respects to be defeated that may be when they become even more dangerous to us than ever.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 27, 2019

Having Those Difficult Conversations

Took an interesting class recently in having difficult conversations.

These are the conversations you need to have about performance, accountability, expectations, bad news, conflict, and so on. 

Often these are the conversations we tend to avoid, because we don't know how to have them without making things worse where things get emotionally charged, people become defensive, things gets misinterpreted, and they get escalated. 

And it's even more difficult when there is a discrepancy in power between the people having the dialogue. 

But it is important to have the critical conversations in order to solve the underlying problems!

Often problems are rooted in that we judge others too quickly and erroneously, or we just don't have all the facts. 

The data points we do have get filtered, interpreted, assumptions are made, conclusions are drawn, beliefs are adopted, and actions are taken that may be wrong (reference: The Ladder of Inference by Chris Argyris).

The key to having a productive conversation is to explain the issue and the impact, acknowledge your part in the problem, describe the desired outcome for the relationship and the work, and most importantly, give space for the other person to respond.

We need to get the other person's point of view, including the data points that we may have missed or misunderstood, generate options, and agree how to solve the issue.

Unfortunately, there are times when the other person digs in and isn't open to working on or resolving the problem, in which case you may need to decide whether to grin and bear it (i.e. live with it) or leave the relationship, because it has become too unproductive and toxic. 

The instructor said it well: This is about problem-solving. But life is too short to deal with jerks!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 26, 2019

Out of Control Ice Cream


I'm not sure how you control yourself around this Alpaca Ice Cream.

But somehow I managed not to get any...this time.  

I promise!  

LOL

These are made with fresh hot waffles wrapped around your choice of ice cream and toppings. 

As you can see these are pretty big and scrumptious!

Anyway, they have a store in Rockville and I absolutely must stay away from it. 

Oh, maybe I just go in once for a taste.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2019

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 

She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.

His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 

He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn't know when he would be coming back to class. 

The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 

Life is so tenuous--where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 

You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.

But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.

You can't really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 

Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 

A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 

I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2019

Three Ladies

Just a beautiful artist plate that I picked up in Israel. 

Loved the colors and simplicity of this. 

I got a "aged brass" (gold) plate stand for this.

Enjoy looking at this now in our living room and also remembering our wonderful trip, thank G-d. 

Also, I wonder if I know these three ladies from somewhere.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 23, 2019

Purim In Israel, Chabad Style

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Purim in Israel, Chabad Style."
We had the privilege to be in Israel for Purim night. We are going down Ben Yehudah Street in Tel Aviv looking for a synagogue for Megillah reading. Out of nowhere comes this Rabbi in Purim costume dashing down the sidewalk on roller skates. He pulls up in front of me and asks me to join them at the Chabad shul (#770 of course). Who can say no when Chabad is not only so cool and inviting, but also always helping to keep our minds focused on doing another mitzvah and towards the ultimate coming of Mashiach.

Over and over, I find you just gotta love everything about Chabad--they understand faith, ritual, and people's hearts and for that and their acceptance of all Jews, I truly appreciate them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 22, 2019

Israel and The Golan Heights

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "A Great Day On The Golan Heights."
Between 1948 and 1967, the Golan was used by Syria to indiscriminately shell and harass Israeli villages in the Galilee, including in April 1967 at which time Israel shot down six Syrian MIG fighter planes as a warning to Syria. Finally, after twenty years of these continuing attacks by Syria on Israel from the Golan, did Syria finally lose the Golan to Israel in the ensuing 1967 War. Contrary to those who say that recognizing Israel’s control of the Golan endorses the forceful taking of land from other countries, the monumental shift in American policy on Purim this week actually provides critical deterrence against war by recognizing the potential consequences to those like Syria that unjustly wage war and lose.

Thank you to President Trump for setting the record straight with respect to Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights and for supporting Israel's right to peace and security.  

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 21, 2019

Cool Clock in Amsterdam



Check out how the time changes in Amsterdam.

I guess automation hasn't put everyone out of a job yet. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 20, 2019

Israel - Day 6 - Northern Israel Akko



(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 19, 2019

Israel - Day 5 - Hebron and Tomb of Patriarchs and Matriarchs






















(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal) 

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