May 11, 2020

Stock Market Pinocchio Style


Look folks, Pinocchio's nose is getting longer by the minute.

The market continues on a tear, even while the economy is heading in the other direction. 

I know people have been conditioned to buy on the dips, but I'm not sure that applies while we're in the middle (or maybe still just in the beginning) of a pandemic that has claimed 286,000 lives in just over 2 months (and that's with a global shutdown)!

Somehow, there is a notion that when things start to reopen that all the problems will just magically go away, including the $3 trillion we just added to our national debt, all the bankruptcies being declared, and all the job losses that are becoming permanent. 

If you believe this, perhaps you'd like to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

The greater fool theory is alive and well.  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my dear, beautiful, and special mom!

Even though it's been 6 years since you passed over to Heaven, I can still see you here with me today. 

The love and caring you showed for me, my sister, and Dad as well as the grandchildren filled all of our lives. 

You always worked hard for the family and to do your best. 

Life was not always easy especially coming with your parents from the Holocaust. 

Yet, I never doubted for a moment that our family was the world for you.

And both you and Dad still mean the world to me and I know you both are with me always. 

I can feel it!

Happy Mother's Day--we love you!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2020

Am Yisrael Chai!


I love the Merkava IV, Israel's main battle tank. 

The shape, the versatility, the power! 

Complete fighting awesomeness. 

The new "Merkava IV Barak" (scheduled for deployment in 2021) will even have artificial intelligence (AI) for advanced battle management systems. 

I wish we had the Merkava during the Holocaust and could've given the Nazi bastards what they rightfully deserved. 

Never again! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 7, 2020

The Coronavirus Stock Market

I believe this photo best summarizes where we are with the Coronavirus stock market.

As they say:
Don't count your chicken before they hatch.

This market has gotten way ahead of itself and the pending economic realities of the Coronavirus and the consequences of the trillions of response fund debt. 

Remember:

- The virus does not yet have a vaccine, and it is mutating and may become even more virulent!

- The deaths continue to soar in the U.S. with now over 75,000 dead in just two months.

- The deaths involve much pain and suffering both for the victim and his/her grieving loved ones. 

- The unemployment is at all time highs since the Great Depression. 

- Companies are starting to move from temporary layoffs to permanent firings and contraction, and many eventually to bankruptcy. 

- Profitability and gross domestic product are way down and may be even worse in the next quarter.

- Price Earning ratios are around their 10-year highs even looking out toward a possible 2021 recovery. 

- Restarting the economy does not mean a return to what was as the extreme trauma from the pandemic, shutdown, and social distancing rebalance us to a "new normal."

- A second and third wave of Coronavirus may be as bad or even worse than the first. 

- The two biggest global economies of the U.S. and China are facing a deteriorating and toxic relationship.

- The lingering $3,000,000,000,000 that we just added to our National Debt is going to increasingly strangle our future economic outlook. 

- The election is in November and brings increasing instability and likely volatility. 

In summary, the term used by former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan of "irrational exuberance" seems like a gross understatement when it comes to our current stock market.  

Get ready to see the froth come painfully off this drunken market--these eggs are about ready to crack.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2020

Lockdown In Coronavirus

This photo is sort of what it feels like to be in lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

You're stuck inside, but still have to keep everything moving anyway!

As we enter the next phase with people itching to go back out and "restart" life and the economy and the second wave where more people unfortunately get sick, we are really as they say:
Stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

And that's where bad things can happen (G-d forbid) and it's never a good place to be. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2020

Standing Tall

Thought this was a pretty cool statue at Baltimore Penn Station.

No people though on a Sunday or because of COVID-19. 

I imagine this is what a ghost town looks like. 

The statues stand tall but the remnants of the people are hiding in shelters.

End of times or a new beginning...we'll see. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 4, 2020

Matzo Ball Soup For The Soul

It's a pretty well-known Jewish tradition that Chicken Soup is almost like an cure all. 

Our moms for centuries have preached chicken soup whenever you didn't feel well or felt like you may be coming down with something. 

Hmm...I wonder if it even works on Coronavirus. Heck, I'd try it for sure. LOL

From an alternative medicine perspective, like it says on the package:
It's penicillin in a pot.

Anyway, I thought this package kit of matzo ball soup was pretty cute. 

With the old lady that looks like she's about to fall in the soup saying:
Good. Not as good as mine. But good. 

Hey, I guess there is no package matzo ball soup that is going to be as good as homemade. 

Especially as I was taught that the magic ingredient is not chicken, but love!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 3, 2020

We Impact Each Other's Souls

Finishing Natan Sharansky's book Fear No Evil

And I rarely write twice on a book or movie, but this was so impactful. 

First on our souls, Sharansky writes:
The law of attraction, interconnection, and interdependence of human souls...there is a universal gravitational pull of souls, of the bond between them and influence of one soul on the other. 

Wow, Sharansky understood the deeper meaning of the soul and how they all emanate and are pieces from G-d and they are all connected to their source and each other, and what one person says or does impacts all the others (and thereby G-d himself). 

Literally, I experienced this the other day...when I personally made amends on something I felt that I had done wrong, and I could literally feel somehow righting a wrong in the universe and G-d, Himself, smiling down on me. 

It was the best feeling I think I have ever had in my life. 

Second on fear, Sharansky writes:

My inner freedom [is] more powerful than the external bondage...[and] fear of the L-rd...is a necessary prerequisite for man's achieving inner freedom, and is also the prerequisite for spiritual resolve, the fear of the L-rd is the only thing that can conquer human fear.

Wow again. Sharansky through his nine years of suffering and hardships in Soviet prisons and labor camps found his deep inner strength to resist the tyranny of the KGB worldly masters and overcame them with his finding his fear and faith in G-d and was able to overcome. 

These are two amazing heavenly lessons that Sharansky shares with us from enduring and overcoming his incredible worldly hardships.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this and am with G-d's help continuing to quench my thirst for this type of wisdom and true enlightenment.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 2, 2020

Bacteria Vs. Virus--The Cure!

There is an old adage that:
The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Both bacteria and viruses are enemies of people in that they often make us sick. 

If they can make us sick, why can't they be used to fight and make each other sick (i.e. destroy each other). 

Thus, bacteria can be our friend, if we use them to destroy viruses, like Coronavirus. 

Why can't we create a "virus-eating bacteria" (and vice versa "bacteria-eating virus") to destroy these little monsters that are infecting and killing us?

Let our enemies kill each other!  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 1, 2020

Shabbat Shalom and Stay Healthy!

Beautiful Shabbat is almost here again. 

A time for rest and rejuvenation. 

Each of us has to take care of and nourish our body, mind, and soul. 

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom!

Please stay safe and healthy. ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 30, 2020

Predicted It Right In 2017

This was such a funny photo I found of me from 2017.

Holding a book called The End of The F*cking World.

Little did we know back then Coronavirus was coming our way.

One thing that is amazing to me is the incredible lack of responsibility when it comes to our fiscal (tax rates and spending) and monetary policy (interest rates and money supply). 

For example, we've spent almost $3,000,000,000,000 (i.e. trillion) on Coronavirus Relief/Recovery. 

And there is another package in the works to borrow and spend more money. 

This on top of our already tens of trillions of dollars of national debt we already accumulated. 

The crazy thing is that this is going on globally with Europe and Japan and others borrowing and spending without any sanity as well. 

Now here is the BIG QUESTION for you all:

If everyone is borrowing and spending, who are they borrowing from???

Yep, this is called funny money! 

Because it's not possible for everyone to be borrowing and carrying a bottom line net debt at the same time.  

The money has to come from somewhere doesn't it?

The Federal Reserve is "injecting" trillions into the economy and their balance sheet of "loans" to us is going up towards $11 trillion dollars now.  

These injections are short term medicine that may kill the patient down the road by overdose!

Have you ever heard of a Chair of the Federal Reserve that "urges policy makers to spend more"?

Simple economics tells us that this will yield at some point an unbelievable inflation.

We are injecting or "printing" more and more money (or electronic bytes of it), and that causes the money to devalue because there is so much of it (supply side economics) with nothing but hot air backing it up (we haven't been on the gold standard since 1971).

There is a DAY OF RECKONING coming when:

- People's savings and wallets will devalue and money will be worth close to squat after RUNWAY INFLATION.  

- Also, what do you think will happen to the stock market and jobs too when people have only loads of valueless funny money and can't buy anymore like they used too--can anyone say MARKET CRASH and UNEMPLOYMENT!

Folks, you heard it here first, the end of the f*cking world is coming--it's called CONSEQUENCES, plain and simple. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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April 29, 2020

Towards Peace and Freedom Among Nations

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Towards Peace and Freedom Among Nations."
Natan Sharansky showed tremendous personal strength and integrity to respond with humor and wit while suffering under the Soviets in prison, separated from his wife, deprived of all outside contacts, placed in “punishment cells” cold, hungry, and sleep-deprived, and regularly interrogated to try to get him to incriminate himself and his fellow refuseniks and human rights activists. Sharansky is truly a hero who stood up as a Jew persecuted in the Soviet Union and as a human rights activist leading the way to help other refuseniks to get released, with eventually millions escaping through the “Iron Door” to emigrate to freedom in Israel and the United States.

Yesterday, we celebrated Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, so I will add that for too many years since the founding of the State of Israel that the Soviets armed and supported the Arab League nations in warring against Israel and in seeking its destruction. However now, Israel and Russia not only have an anchoring of social idealism in common, but also Israel has 15% of it citizens from there. Further, as Israel has made peace with Egypt and Jordan decades ago, and has a warming of relations with the Gulf States, perhaps Russia will also continue to come around to growing a mutually beneficial friendship with Israel.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

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April 28, 2020

Reach Out And Grab Ya

This is a candleholder. 

But in a bizarre way it looks almost like a toilet. 

The place for the candle is the toilet!

Sort of would make a pretty scary toilet in real life if the back of it (ie. tank) has a body with arms that looks like it is reaching out to grab you as you take your royal seat. 
Hey, someone let me out of here!

Ok, I have definitely been shut in too many days due to this Coronavirus thing. 

I am imagining the world's scariest toilets. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 27, 2020

The Doctor Is Out!

So one huge downside to this Coronavirus shutdown is that you can barely get any help for other medical conditions or elective surgeries. 

I just heard this morning from a relative about family members that can't get shots they need for pain control or surgeries for breathing problems.

Everything now is COVID-19.

That's the priority (maybe all of the top ten priorities)!

But does it really make sense to completely triage COVID-19 above Cancer, Heart Disease, Respiratory Disease, Strokes, Alzheimers, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Liver Disease, Parkinson's, and more. 

Coronavirus patients are who the hospital and ICU beds are for now. 

And the respirators. 

The testing. 

The new research dollars. 

Perhaps, the global medical community has gone a little Coronavirus crazy, extreme, radical, overboard in their singular focus, panic, and chaos over just one virus to the exclusion of everything else!

Apparently, our totally "overwhelmed" medical system can't "walk and chew gum at the same time."

Certainly, we have a lot to be grateful for to the dedicated and selfless doctors and nurses in the medical community for everything they are doing to help people with Coronavirus under very trying circumstances.

The problem is that in the meantime, people that have new or other chronic conditions are being left out and sometimes to rot. 

Unless of course you are a big fan of telemedicine, which may be good to get something routine looked after, but something major, and I think you're in big trouble. 

After this Coronavirus (assuming there is an after), there is going to be a lot of pent up demand for medical care. 

I think a lot of people are suffering now with conditions that they were waiting to take care of until they were absolutely necessary, but unfortunately when it became necessary, then the care was not there. 

Makes you wonder whether and when you should do or put off medical procedures in the future: just because the care is there "today," doesn't mean it will be there tomorrow. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 26, 2020

Count Your Blessings

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Count Your Blessings."
I just wanted to share a short reflection with everything going on in the world these days with coronavirus and the economic shutdown: I see people are scared and confused, under lockdown and feeling financial strain, and many are getting sick and dying. But I remember the words of my dear father who used to say: "Count Your Blessings!" And he was so right. There are so many things, literally every moment of every day, for us to be grateful for:

Certainly, we all face extreme difficulties or challenges at times in our lives, but things can always be so much worse, and there is still so much for us to be grateful for. Therefore, truly thank you G-d with a hundred blessings—and more—for every moment of every precious day. And we affirm that surely the L-rd who created us will continue to sustain us, and that ultimately all will be for the good.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 24, 2020

The Great COVID-19 Lie

We have been told that the first case of Coronavirus/COVID-19 death in the U.S. was in February 2020. 

First, we were told it was February 29 in Kirkland, Washington. 

Then that is was earlier on February 6 and 17 in California. 

But I and others who I have spoken to believe that the first cases of COVID-19 were with us many months earlier. 

Both I and my wife developed extreme coughing around the September/October timeframe. 

The coughing didn't go away for months!

As is now being reported with COVID-19, it was like it reactivates again and again, 

I went to the MinuteClinic and was prescribed antibiotics. 

The cough lingered and got worse a second time. 

I think I went another time to Minute Clinic or to Urgent Care and got a stronger antibiotic. 

The cough lingered and got worse yet a third time. 

As I become weaker and more sick (with fever at some point(s)), I found myself waking up and barely able to even get out of bed. 

I forced myself back over to Urgent Care again. 

I was given the flu test and it was not the flu. 

And no one seemed to know what it was!

They told me that they were getting so many cases...I believe they said each location was seeing about 100 patients a day!

I was so weak I just laid on the doctors exam table half falling asleep and barely able to move to get up. 

I was given yet an even stronger antibiotic and I believe some steroid medication. 

After about 3-4 horrible months and almost near collapse, it finally started to get better. 

I don't remember ever getting anything like this! 

I hadn't traveled anywhere either. 

Lots of people seem to have had a similar experience. 

Was this COVID-19 or some precursor to it?

I/We may never know the truth. 

But these symptoms and sickness was not normal.

And the high number of cases I was hearing about was beyond anything I can remember. 

As we know everything about this COVID-19 is not normal as we can all attest to after weeks and months of global lockdown. 

The reason that you are hearing all the confusing and contradictory communications and crisis from the "experts" and in the media is because the professionals are confused!

And we are left to wonder: when will we find out the truth about what this is, when it started, what the real dangers to us are now and into the future, and whether there will really ever be a cure for it? ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 23, 2020

Josep Borrell: A History Of Anti-Semitism

Josep Borrell, the disgraceful High Representative of the European Union strikes once again with his extreme anti-Semitism. 

Borrell has threatened Israel that if they follow the United States' Middle East Peace Plan that includes annexing 30% of the West Bank then "it could not pass unchallenged," even though:

  • It is part of the Biblical promised land.
  • Israel won it in a war of self-defense against multiple attacking Arab armies in 1967.
  • It is recognized as absolutely strategically necessary to Israel's peace and security. 

Understanding that this is not an isolated incident, Borrell has an anti-Israel and pro-Iranian track record that includes his stating:
Iran wants to wipe out Israel; nothing new about that. You have to live with it.

Borrell's Jew hate apparently goes all the way back to when he was a child and participated in a sickening pogrom in the 1950s where he yelled "To Kill Jews."

Can you imagine that this is who the European Union selects to be their High Representative AND what does this say about the EU after all the atrocities they committed against the Jews: the Holocaust, Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, expulsions and pogroms?

The EU should very publicly dump this anti-Semite Borrell and place him in the trash bin of history where this type of disgusting behavior and hateful sentiment belongs.  ;-)
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April 22, 2020

Free COVID-19 Cure

This sign was just too great. 

Advertisement with the little slips at the bottom to tear off. 
Free Cure for COVID-19.
Please take an information strip below

And what do the strips say:
Stay the F**K at home

I wonder why no one took any of the strips? LOL

Like every meaningful issue, we have people on both sides of the aisle fighting it out what is the right thing to do. 

And when it comes to life and liberty, passions certainly run high. ;-)

(Credit Photo to my son-in-law Itzchak for sharing this with me from his friend in California)
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April 21, 2020

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Thought this was cute at Java Nation (BTW, they are a better Starbucks!).

A mini sink that says:
Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Truly, that sorts of like what they are since they sell coffee but also wine!  

How did we ever come up with this saying about kitchen sinks to begin with? 

Like would you ever make an offer on a property, and say:

 I'll take it, but you keep the kitchen sink.

There must've been some pretty cruddy kitchen sinks along the way. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 19, 2020

Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy."
What an interesting time this week during the coronavirus for my bar-mitzvah parshas of Tazria and Metzora, where we learn about how to handle someone with the plague of leprosy...What’s fascinating though for our times is that right here in the Torah, long before medical science understood germs, washing of hands, and disinfectants, we have the first instruction on quarantining someone who is sick. The person with leprosy is deemed impure and is put outside the camp in quarantine, repeatedly checked (e.g. tested) by the Kohen, until they are healed, at which time they are purified before being allowed back in. What we don’t see with leprosy is that the whole community is put in a state of quasi quarantine as we are doing now globally with the coronavirus.

In the end, I see this coronavirus blowing up with some people forever anxious and germophobic and others becoming complacent and careless about the whole thing. Either way there will be more sick and dying people, as well as anger at the system that over time repeatedly failed us. This week’s parsha is a good reminder to go back to the ultimate wisdom of the Torah and read again how we handle the leper and manage with a thoughtful risk-based management approach and an eye on the ultimate purity—physically and spiritually—of the individual and the community.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

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April 18, 2020

Not That Great!

I like this quote from former Israel prime minister, Golda Meir:
Don't be so humble; you're not that great!

Nice way to pop someone's oversized bubble of an ego and tell them to put a cork in it. 

Or as my dad used to say:
He's not a big shot; he's a big sh*t! 

Anyway, she had a sharp mind (like my dad) and was an amazing leader that Golda.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 17, 2020

Shabbat Shalom From Elmo!

Remember before Coronavirus when times where a little more innocent...

When we didn't have to worry about viruses spread by eating live or wild animals or that "escape" from weapons laboratories. 

It's good to be a little nostalgic.

Shabbat Shalom! ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 16, 2020

Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End."
Despite our redemption from slavery in Egypt (1312 BCE), we continue through cycle after cycle of enslavement and exile.

In Kabbalah, we learn that the Jewish soul reincarnates until it reaches its spiritual enlightenment and fulfills all the mitzvot. Similarly, the soul of the Jewish people is reincarnated and relives painful destruction, slavery, and exile until we learn, grow, and finally become what we are destined to be as servants only of Hashem and as a light unto the nations. This has been our fate, but also it is one that we are finally nearing the end of with the return to the Promised Land and perhaps even the arrival soon of Mashiach.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

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To Bear Eternal Witness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "To Bear Eternal Witness."
I just finished reading a most gut-wrenching book, Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. I came across this book after learning that my wife’s grandmother had been selected by Dr. Josef Mengele (may his name be forever cursed) for torturous experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust. This New York Times Bestseller is a vivid eyewitness account by a Jewish forensic pathologist, who worked directly for Dr. Mengele, and tells of the unspeakable cruelty and horrors at Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp vastly accounting toward the twelve million people exterminated by the Nazis, six million of them Jews.

From my experience, once you pick up this book, you cannot put it down until you finish it completely, and I urge everyone to make this a must-read, especially as there will soon be no more Holocaust survivors to tell us, in-person, the hell that they lived through.

(Free Photo of Kyklon B Poison Gas via Pixabay)

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April 14, 2020

Plan To Restart The Economy WILL Look Something Like This

What will restarting the economy after Coronavirus look like?

Well Israel has a well-thought-out 4 Phase Plan (pending approval) and I would imagine that the U.S. plan will look something very much like this:

- Phase I: Tech and Finance, some Import/Export industries, 50% of Public Sector, and Preschool

- Phase II: Commerce/Retail Stores, Elementary School (ages 6-10)

- Phase III: Cafes, Restaurants, and Hotels, and most of the rest of the Education system

- Phase IV: Leisure and Entertainment: Culture, Sports, Large Shopping Malls, and Flights

There are 4 additional key provisions to this plan:

- 2 Week Buffer between phases to review and evaluate success before moving forward with the next phase. 

- "People over 60 and at-risk populations will not resume normal activity throughout the four phases."

- Resuming these activities occurs with the exercise of continued caution (e.g. social distancing, testing, etc.)

- Expect 2nd outbreak in the Fall and therefore continue to build up healthcare capabilities in preparation for this. 

This sounds like an excellent plan as a basis to reopen and one that we can and should build upon. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal and thank you to my sister for sharing this with me)

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April 13, 2020

Three Sides (At Least) To Every Story

I liked this saying:
There are at least three sides to every story:
Yours
Mine
And the truth

Everyone sees the world through their personal filter. 

And they present their side of things in a distorted way to make themselves look right and righteous. 

Calls it what you will:  a slant, bias, twist, falsification, or a distortion or perversion of the truth. 

Sure, sometimes one person is right and the other is clearly wrong. 

But more often than not, there are elements of truth and of lies in each person's story to greater and lessor degrees. 

Hence, the truth often is it's own entity and exists independent of those presenting it. 

It's not a bad mission to seek out and promote the truth in this world of many falsehoods. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 12, 2020

Reopening The Country WITHOUT Endangering The Masses

I understand the absolute need to reopen the country from this Coronavirus. 

We can't shelter in place forever and watch our economy go into the toilet and our national debt bankrupt us!

Therefore, once we have the mechanisms to control the deadly spread, we must open up offices and stores again gradually to get people working and our economy going again. 

At the same time, I am pissed by those corporate executives that actually have the chutzpah and are pushing for us to open up crowded theaters, stadiums, and other such entertainment or other venues that are NOT critical and pose a greater risk for contagion to masses of people. 

Instead of these CEOs understanding the need to hold off on this pending a vaccination or adequate disease control measures, these greedy corporate chieftain seem to care little to nothing about the health of their customers, and only about lining their fat pocketbooks with more ticket sales. 

I think it's criminal type behavior to push our government to open prematurely and irresponsibly those venues that are of greatest risk to potentially millions of people to get sick or dead in order for them to profit from it!  ;-)

Note: It's reported that COVID-19 compared to the flu in 22 fewer days infected 11x as many people and killed 60 times as many

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 11, 2020

Now This Is Scary On Coronavirus

Latest Coronavirus news reported by Reuters from South Korea...

Virus appears to be "reactivated" after person is already cleared of it.

91 patients so far!

Is this the result of faulty testing or is this not your typical virus???

Folks, it does not look like we are in clear by a long shot on this yet. 

Be careful and stay safe!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal and thank you to my sister with a PhD in biomedical science for sharing this with me)
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April 10, 2020

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Ignorance Isn't Bliss."


It’s Passover, and we celebrate our deliverance from Egyptian slavery, yet this is a slavery that was foretold by Hashem, and as you could say, like with many bad things that happen in this world (e.g. Coronavirus), we knew it was coming!

To me it’s not about being afraid, but rather it’s about being prepared. It’s great to be an optimist, but it’s important to be practical, especially when it comes to saving lives. Yes, we need to have faith in G-d and believe that ultimately everything is according to His word and plan for the world, but at the same time, we need to be responsible and do our part to protect ourselves and the future from terrible things that we have a relatively high-level of confidence will happen. There is no mitzvah to wait and be caught off guard, rather there is a commandment to save life (“Pikuach Nefesh”), and for this we need to “face up to facts” (including our known vulnerabilities, threats, and our capabilities to address them) and actually be very well prepared.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 9, 2020

Synagogue or Sickness?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Synagogue or Sickness?"
When I was a kid and my father would {strongly} encourage me to go to synagogue. My father was a man of deep faith and he used to say warningly to me: "It's better to go to synagogue than to the hospital." Obviously, he was implying that if I didn't follow G-d's word, then G-d forbid, he would punish me and instead of going to Shul, I would go to the hospital. Maybe not the best way to teach someone to want to go to prayer services, but I know he meant it out of complete love for me and ultimately for my best.

Yet ironically, now with coronavirus preventing us from practicing the many communal aspects of our faith, so many of us can only but wish that we could just go to synagogue to celebrate the holidays and Shabbat together once again. Unfortunately, for now at least, we don't even have the option to go to synagogue⁠—the choice has been taken from us. G-d willing, hopefully soon, we can once again go⁠—with willingness and love⁠—not only to pray at synagogue, but also to the holy Third Temple in Jerusalem itself.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 8, 2020

Corona Matzah Man

So this is what happens when Coronavirus pandemic coincides with Passover. 

We get a Corona Matzah Man wearing his face mask so he doesn't get sick, G-d forbid. 

Even as we get ready to celebrate the seder tonight and recall G-d's mercifully delivering us from Egyptian servitude, we also can be certain that He will deliver us from this dreaded Coronavirus. 

G-d is all powerful and has a purpose for everything. 

Perhaps, we just needed a reminder of who was in charge not only on Passover, but all the year round. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2020

The Grass Still Needs To Be Mowed

Even with Coronavirus and the associated lockdowns and social distancing, the grass still needs to be mowed.

These two are doing the work but also look like they could be playing some bumper cars too! 

So it is: Life goes on; the world is not (yet) ending. 

Unfortunately, there are people suffering and dying. 

And we need to help them and try and save their lives. 

Also, not forget their families and those out of work. 

But as far as the world is concerned, the grass still keeps growing. 

The living will go on living as best they can. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 6, 2020

Buy Right From The Start

This was a funny sign in an eatery:
Our tasting panel samples each item before we buy it.

And the picture is of the guy  ready to dig into the food. 

There was another saying that I heard that I liked:
If you buy on price, you buy twice. 

In other words, never just buy the lowest price item if you don't really like it, because in the end, you'll end up having to buy a replacement for the cheapo, crappo thing you really didn't like to begin with. 

Better to save up and get what you really want to begin with. 

A savvy shopper, indeed. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 5, 2020

The Covid-19 Graph -- No One Wants To Confront

This is the Coronavirus chart that I don't think anyone wants us to confront. 

Rather than the typical chart we are shown with one high and then it tapers off and all is well...

There could be scenarios where there are multiple curves and peaks. 

For example, if we send people back out to (work, school, etc.) and stop the social distancing too early--while there are still Coronavirus carriers around us and we don't have an effective vaccine--then the contagion can start all over again. 

Further, even with a vaccine, if the virus mutates (and could become more virulent) then this infection can go on spreading and killing with multiple peaks. 

In short, this is the chart that speaks to cases where businesses are closed and people out of work much longer than expected, and where the recession takes hold and does some potentially real and lasting damage above and beyond what's perhaps already priced in. 

Again, let's hope and pray that we don't stop the social distancing prematurely and that our doctors and scientists get the vaccine for us sooner rather than later. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 4, 2020

From Hate To Love

Just a self-reflection today...

Important to me. 

It's about who I thought I was and...

Who I became. 

Truly, I went full circle from a child's hate to an adult's love relationship with:

- Reading

- Writing

- Swimming

- Hebrew

As a kid, I tried to avoid these like the plague, and as an adult I like to practice these every single day of my life. 

I wonder to myself is it that I strove to become good (or decent) at what I have previously been bad at or was somehow afraid of. 

Yet now, they are integral to my life, learning, and growth. 

Like the hands of a clock that circle and tick the hours and minutes. 

My life takes me full circle and brings me home to who I am and what I really love spending time at. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 3, 2020

Those Were Different Days

Wow, those were different days...

When the stores still had stuff on the shelves. 

And you could go in without waiting outside for half an hour for social distancing. 

With everyone wearing protective masks and obsessively washing their hands, so please G-d not to get sick. 

Then we were happy!

Now we are all just scared. 

Even if some people are pretending they aren't.  

It's more what we still don't know then what we do. 

And how things can unravel so quickly.

Makes us all appreciate what we had, and hopefully what we'll have again. 

Shabbat Shalom!  ;-)

( Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2020

The Truth Hurts

So I purchase some nutrition bars from a prominent online store. 

If you click on 2 boxes (12 bars each), they charge you $30. 

But if you look over a little on the website page, they have 24 bars for $24. 

I contact customer service and start chatting with them about this. 

Basically, I wanted the difference refunded to me. 

Surely, not a lot of money, but more the principle of it. 

They are charging 2 different amounts for the very same thing! 

The lady on the other end of the chat asks me to forward her the link for the product. 

I comply. 

She says, "You see that link is 2 boxes for $30!"

I say, "No, that's just the primary link to the product, and it has 2 different prices for basically the exact same thing."

She says, "On that link you sent it has 12 bars x 2, which is different than ordering 24 bars!"

I'm thinking, Oh really!  What math class did she take in elementary school???

And then for good measure, she adds socking one to me:
"Truth Always Hurts!"

At this point, I couldn't believe my chat "ears".  

Aside from her "truth" not being "the truth" in any universe...

I was in shock and said something like "How dare you.  You are incredibly rude.  Put your supervisor on."

She says: "Well, my supervisor will tell you the same thing!"

I repeated once more: "Please let me speak to a supervisor."

Finally when I got the supervisor, who was a more normal, reasonable person, and also could do simple arithmetic, she immediately apologizes issuing me a refund. 

She asked if there was anything else she could assist with.

I asked, to confirm again, "Are you a supervisor?"

She responded affirmatively. 

I asked her to review the chat with the prior customer service rep and asked, "Is this how you want your company represented to your customers?"

Needless to say, she was flabbergasted by what she saw from their outsourced "customer service" representative.

She assured me she was flagging the chat for review by management and that this outrageous behavior from this company representative would be addressed. 

To me, it is amazing that our companies not only outsource the manufacture of our vital goods, but they also outsource customer service to people that barely seem to speak the language, can't do basic math, and have zero customer service skills. 

This does not bode well for American competitiveness--in the age of Coronavirus or at any other time. 

I believe that this truth hurts much more than any company's horrendous customer service. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2020

Pathogen Deaths - Worst Is Yet To Come

So maybe I am the only one who doesn't see how things are adding up.

But in the U.S. we have 4,000 dead from Coronavirus and 3/4 of the country (all the major population centers) are on lockdown. 

Yet, the projections are still for deaths in the U.S. to pile up between 100,000 to 240,000

How do you get from 4,000 to 240,000 with most people under lockdown?

The numbers of projected deaths were in the millions before the lockdown and social distancing, so yes the numbers are lower and better now. 

Still the escalating death toll is frightening in its magnitude of what is yet to come DESPITE the lockdown.

Moreover, the estimated death in the U.S. from the Flu was only 34,000 (2018-2019) and that's with everybody round and about doing their business.

My question is what happens after the (first) peak when they send people back to work and school?

There are still going to be people sick and contagious out there and the whole cycle STARTS AGAIN until we get the vaccine. 

And even after the vaccine, it may become seasonal like the flu or mutate and become even more virulent. 

It seems like there is plenty of reason to be cautious and concerned about what is yet to happen from here.

Then again we may be considered fortunate this time and actually beat this Coronavirus, but then again what happens when the NEXT really bad natural or man-made pathogen gets out? ;-)

Note: There are approximately 16 countries with deadly biological weapons programs. 

(Credit Photo: My wonderful so-in-law, Itzchak)
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March 31, 2020

Children Are Our Future

There are already 32 states under lockdown orders and more surely to come.

It is good to see the children playing outside (even in smallish groups). 

It's trying times with schools closed, many parents trying to telework, and the need to take care of the children (especially the younger ones) at the same time. 

We can't lose sight that the children are our future. 

They are everything in this world. 

Even with the Coronavirus pounding away at our older and more vulnerable populations, we can still thank G-d that not many children have been infected

Even in challenging times, G-d shows His mercy to us. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 30, 2020

Harris Teeter War Zone

Who would've thought that going to Harris Teeter would be a war zone. 

But this guy in the respirator mask is showing us how bad things can start to get. 

As an avid fan of the show The Walking Dead, I think we are entering TWD territory with the people walking around with their face's half covered and some looking sick with fear and worry or perhaps even with symptoms--who knows!

What is amazing is how things can go from boom to bust, and not just for our economy, but for life and civilization itself at the turn of a dime. 

Yesterday, I read how the CFO of Jefferies Group Investment Bank (NYC) died at age 56 from Coronavirus. 

Even as the Navy's hospital ships Mercy and Comfort enter the ports of Los Angeles and New York City to lend a hand and about 1,000 hospital beds each, it seems like more and more of these deadly cases are hitting the papers and social media every day.

Where does this sickness stop?   

What happens if the virus mutates again and become even more virulent?

How do we ever feel even remotely secure again?

Can we keep taxing our already overwhelmed healthcare system with more and more sick patients?

How long can we keep printing Monopoly bailout money (incredibly, there is talk of yet another multi-trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill even after we just passed this $2.2 trillion one last week)?

Eventually, as we all know circumstances can indeed overwhelm the health and financial systems, and even our governments...thank G-d we aren't there. 

But what we are all beginning to see in the midst of crisis is that "there" isn't really all that far away from "here."

...That life hangs by a truly thin thread. 

And because we can only do so much, this is where we really need to look up to the heavens and ask for G-d's help and mercy.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: my wonderful son-in-law, Itzchak)
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March 29, 2020

Hope Amidst Coronavirus

This is absolutely what I call:
Hope Amidst Coronavirus.

Life is hope. 

The children are our future. 

Love and caring is our continuity. 

G-d's is the Master over it all. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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