Showing posts with label Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Change. Show all posts

August 17, 2019

Copy Any Key

Thought this was pretty cool in Safeway supermarket.

A automated key copy machine. 

You insert your key. 

And out pops a duplicate for you. 

Home, car, business, whatever.

What is happening to that guy who used to work the key copy machine at the local locksmith?

Who says automation and robotics isn't taking and going to take away jobs. 

I still remember that key machine--where the locksmith would put the key on one side and a blank on the other, and the machine would copy the surface grooves of one unto the other. 

Now even that is gone. 

I guess we're lucky still to have keys (for now).  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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July 13, 2019

I Pray For The Day

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Pray For The Day."

While I am a staunch supporter for the security of Israel, I pray for the day (a miracle) when Jews and Arabs can be brothers again--shoulder to shoulder--that embrace and help each other, rather than enemies "at each others' throats."

In my mind and heart, there has got to come a time when the hatred and violence ends, and when instead peace can and will prevail. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 12, 2018

Loneliness Is Death

There is a very important article in the Wall Street Journal today on the link of loneliness to death. 

Frightening loneliness statistics:

- One in 11 Americans over age 50 "lacks a spouse, partner, or living child."

- More than 1 in 4 baby boomers is divorced or never married.  

- 1 out of every 6 people lives alone. 

Research indicates that loneliness leads to early death. 

The impact of loneliness is equivalent to:

- Smoking 15 cigarettes a day

- Drinking 6 alcoholic beverages a day

Loneliness is worse for mortality than:

- Obesity 

- Physical activity

"The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful...we have to address loneliness," says the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Whether you are extroverted or introverted, we all need human interaction, sharing, caring, touch, and love.  

Truly, no man is an island!

Those that are stranded on loneliness island need to escape it and make their way back to human civilization.

Alone our lives are dull and stunted; but together, we have the inherent social dynamics to be able to experientially learn, grow, change and mature. 

Alone we die--together we live. 

It's not just power in numbers, it's life itself. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 12, 2017

Wherever You Go

So my father used to say this idea about dealing with life's challenges:
"Wherever you go, that's where you are!"
If you think about it for a moment, it really is very profound. 

Some people think that they can run away from their problems.

Move here, there, everywhere. 

Change schools, jobs, spouses, whatever. 

But you can't run away from yourself. 

Wherever you run, you're still you!

So you need to fix yourself, your problems, your life. 

Yes, sometimes your in a place is bad, a bad fit, the people are bad, the chemistry is bad, the circumstances are bad. 

And then change can certainly be a welcome and good thing.

But when you change the external, the internal has to keep developing and changing as well, so that we learn and grow to be better people.  

Change your place is not a substitute for changing and growing yourself--that is the only constant with change. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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September 4, 2017

G-d Created Evolution

So I've been thinking a little bit about evolution.

And I don't see any contradiction between evolution and creation.

In fact, G-d created evolution!

You see, in His infinite wisdom and love, G-d made his creations with the ability to change over time. 

We are not static creatures, but we are able to evolve, adapt, transform, and grow ourselves, our species, and our world over time. 

But, but, but...there are fossils hundreds of millions years old...how could G-d have created the world less than 6,000 years ago?

Well, who says G-d created the world at time horizon zero--if the world was fully formed with trees and plants, and fish, birds, animals, and people--then these could all have had age associated with and built into them already. 

Boom...G-d just created Adam and Eve--was that from the point of conception, day of birth, or fully grown adult?  Similarly, how old is the tallest mountain or the fullest forest when it was created? 

Time is not a function of G-d who is timeless. 

And the formed world appears at the blink of G-d's eye and it can disappear that way too. 

Similarly, we learn in the Bible how G-d created the world in 6 "days" and rested on the 7th, but who says a day is literally that.

Couldn't a day as in 1, 2, 3, etc. be phases of creation...where a day could be anything from a split second to a millennium or even a hundred million years.

To the G-d who Was, Is, and Will Be--what is a day, but a span of infinitesimal to infinite time to create His children and the world to teach and grow them. 

We are here in a infinite universe enveloped by the love of a limitless G-d. 

Evolution is no more a constraint on G-d then time or space is--to the contrary, evolution is a blessing of G-d that lets things develop and mature from the image of G-d to the imagination of His mind's glory. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 16, 2017

Going Down B4 You Go Up

So a really special person that I know is going through some major life changes...

And they told me this interesting, wonderful, and faithful perspective.

"Sometimes you go down before you go up!"

Like the Wheel of Life (Gilgal Hachozer), what goes down, thank G-d can and does tend to go back up--it's a return to the mean and then some. 

When you realize that challenges and even hardships are part of the cycle, and that these test and grow you and your ability to overcome, then you can face them knowing that you can rise up and hopefully to another level of maturation and happiness. 

Yes, know that nothing is easy in life!

Often we take a step back to take two forward or a step down to boost ourselves further up. 

It's the nature of progress.

Don't be afraid to go down a little right before you're about to go way on up. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2017

From Cradle To Grave

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

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

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

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

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

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

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

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

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 7, 2017

Enter With A HANDSHAKE & Leave With A HUG

So after almost 6 years at the U.S. Department of State, I am moving forward in my career to a very exciting role at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

As I look back, I have fond memories of the wonderful high-performance division I was part of and the many amazing achievements we had together, and what our Deputy Assistant Secretary called, the "A Team."

But one thing today is sticking out in my mind and it's this image.
"Enter with a handshake and leave with a hug."

On the first days, when I arrived it was all formality and firm welcome handshakes.

We don't really know you and you don't really know us, but we're embarking on this journey together, and where it takes us no one really knows, BUT we wish you the best of luck--now go out and do great things!

Then on the last days, as I was preparing to leave, the formal handshakes were long gone and instead they were replaced with warm heartfelt hugs (and some special emotional words and cards). 

I was no longer a mystery of a person, with just my reputation, coming in to do G-d knows what. 

Now, I was a human being that had a genuine history with them, formed relationships with many, had faced challenges together, and had touched not only minds, but also it was apparent, hearts. 

I will not forget the special people, nor the many times shared, our accomplishments as an organization, and how we grew. 

I am moving forward not only with their tight hugs to more handshakes anew, but also to once again hopefully grow heart-to-heart with people, as further relationships are formed and we make, please G-d, amazing new progress together--for the mission and for the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 22, 2016

Hope vs. Change

So we were promised hope and change, but what's the difference?

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal says, "Hope is the helium -filled ballon of politics. Governing in office is the gravity that pulls it back down to earth."

Many politicians are giving the false impression that "giving people the rhetoric of hope, lifting them with words, is more important than delivering results, which some might call change."

Despair is when we are told that there is hope and promise, but we don't get meaningful, impactful, and lasting positive change.

The hard work of leadership is not just providing a beautiful Garden of Eden vision for people to salivate over and to get their votes, but rather it is making something REAL happen that makes people's lives and the world better. 

As they say is plain english, "Words are cheap!"

We don't need any more fancy oratory skills--Hitler had those too and it led to the murderous genocidal Holocaust and disaster of World War II. 

Time for some elbow grease and some results that aren't fake like the news we've been getting. 

We've heard too many lies, too much spin, and been subjected to language control of the "media echo chamber."

Just one prominent example has been regarding terrorism and radical Islam which is not and never has been "workplace violence" and traffic accidents. 

Who is the President of the U.S. fooling when he says that theres been "no foreign-planned terror attacks in 8 years."

Gee, ISIS and their numerous terror supporters seem to violently disagree about the many terrorist attacks we indeed did have on U.S. soil in the last 8-years, including Orlando, Garland, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, MinnesotaOhio University, and many more.  

It's time that we stop being fed a bunch of false hope and political malarkey and instead we get some genuine change, improvement, and progress in our lives and the nation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 4, 2016

What Path Are We On This July 4th?


Over and over again, I hear people say that as a country we are on the wrong path.

According to recent polls, around 70% think we're moving in the wrong direction!

Very pessimistic bunch or something more going on?  

Despite all the technology advances--from smartphones to video-on-demand, drones to 3-D printing--people are still feeling like things are a mess. 

And the upcoming election seems to have given everyone with half a brain, reason to pause. 

The world seems like a very dangerous place these days with a resurgent Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS with your guess as to where terrorism of the day will be hitting. 

Moreover, weapons of mass destruction are proliferating from nukes to chemical and biological weapons...can anyone say $350 billion in the next 10 years to modernize America's nuclear arsenal

Deadly diseases from Ebola in Africa to Zika in South America are striking without warning and causing horrible sudden death and frightening birth defects in infant babies. 

The economy and politics of the world are grossly unstable with many banks now offering negative interest rates and Brexit tearing at the very core of the EU.  

Hundreds of thousands are dying in the Arab Spring and Middle East wars and millions of refugees are streaming to Europe and as far away as America. 

Ballooning national debts are leading to the looming bankruptcies of not only Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Puerto Rico, but also the 3 pillars of American entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

Unemployment shows at a deceptive 4.7%, but yet anyone looking for a job knows this is far from reality, and robots, artificial intelligence, and automation loom large over any future prospects. 

Racism and hate are all too alive and well as tempers seem to be boiling over in city after city, with or without police shootings precipitating things. 

Already as a kid, I always used to ask my dad rhetorically, "What's gonna be?"

As an adult, I understand that this was a question born of the deterioration of the moral and leadership fiber of our society and a future that was far from certain in the inner city or beyond, along with the anxiety born of wanting to have some reassurance that things somehow would end up being okay. 

But things aren't okay in our f*cked up world!

Especially with political jockeying to gerrymandering, from sit-ins to sequestration, from pork-barrel projects to outright fraud, waste, and abuse...the system is getting so broken. 

Now when I think in my head, what's gonna be, my mom and dad are not here anymore to reassure me that everything will be alright, and frankly in this day and age, those reassurances would not even be able to ring true. 

We need change and hope, but perhaps we must look Heavenward for it to come, because down here, things are looking more like a creeping hell, than a heaven that awaits.  

But good people can help to change things...one good thought, word, and deed at a time. You and I can be influences for good, for a brighter tomorrow, for peace, for freedom and equality, and for prosperity for everyone that doesn't buy into the status quo and the spin and lies that sustain it any longer. 

This is our magic wand to wave and wave and make good times based on values and faith return again. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 31, 2016

Broken Mirror Reflections D.C.

So I took this photo of a smashed mirror hanging out of a corner trash can in downtown D.C.

Half is reflecting the garbage in the can and half is reflecting the buildings and trees outside. 

Such a metaphor for the society we live in these days. 

Where we are broken, and society is broken, and certainly lots of government is broken. 

And the shards of glass reflect on the both the garbage of what has piled up inside us and the system, but also the possibilities on the outside for development, growth, and change. 

The broken mirror with the sharp glass shards is dangerous, but perhaps by seeing the mess we are in, we can finally step up and do something to fix it. 

No more circling the wagons, infighting or deflecting from the issues; no more blaming the past or demonizing the opposition; no more excuses for stagnation, incompetence, or impotence; no more whitewashing and red tape; no more firefighting, shoddy quick fixes or waiting for another break/fix; no more whirlwind spin around the dazed and confused; no more sugar-coating, backpedaling, or dressing up or down the facts; no more playing politics or deceiving ourselves and others--is that even possible any longer?

Instead, we change to a model of acknowledging that which is broken and teaming together to fix it--doing something positive, and constructive for ourselves and the world--oh, fix it Dear Henry, please fix it.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 27, 2016

Cabs R Colorblind

This was funny when a cab pulls up to the curb in Washington, D.C. 

And some people walk out from the building and get in. 

Call them and they will come.

It's a black and deep orange vehicle. 

On the side of the cab is the name, "Yellow Cab Company."

Now why would you paint yourself a (fleet of) orange vehicle(s) and call yourself a yellow cab company?

At least back in New York City, taxis really were yellow--and they were really taxis and had a medallion to prove it!

These days, car ride services like Uber drive around with "U" sticker in the window, where the U is practically closed at the top. 

And Lyft cars have that cute, but ridiculous mustache on the front grill.  

Taxi services are desperate to get a brand that customers will recognize and want to call. 

No more lifting you hand and index (or middle) finger on the street curb to hail one of a blizzard of cabbies racing down Main Street.

Now it push button easy to ride a yellow, blue, red, or orange cab--with or without mustache--anywhere you want to go.

But the more things change, the more they don't stay the same---Next stop already is driverless cars. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 9, 2016

First Cherry Blossom Of The Season

Cherry Blossom in downtown Washington, D.C.

So happy winter is over and Spring has sprung. 

Sunshine, cool breeze, so good.

Feels like more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 5, 2016

The Voter Psychology Behind A Trump

Over and over again the left AND the right try to get a knockout on Donald Trump. 

But what happens?

He's not knocked out.

He's not even knocked down.

To the contrary, he is still standing and seems to become stronger!

What is going on with this phenomenon?

Some would like to call it perhaps a psychosis of the masses

Other like to belittle those that like him by dissing their intellectual status and calling them stupid

Many even seem to go to every extreme to to make him out as crazy, fascist, bigoted, hateful, and a con man

Yet, for the most part it's doesn't seem to be working--people are still flocking to him

It's like the more they try to gang up on him, torment him, bash him, and zing him--and rather than buckle, he is still there standing and remains strong--perhaps, the more "proof" it is for people that he can and will stand up for America!

With dismal ratings for the President, Congress, and government overall, the outsider, the business man, the billionaire, the dealmaker, the one who isn't afraid to speak his mind and to say to the people the non-politically correct thing is coming across refreshing to many who are seeking change from the the last 7 years, 15 years, or further. 

With many seeing the current politics of the U.S. as leading from behind, appeasement, weak, divisive, and disengaged, it is not surprising to see bands across America yearning for something more. 

Is Donald Trump strong and anti-establishment or truly bad and dangerous?

This is for America to seek the truth on and wisely decide. 

What's riding on this?

Whether Trump OR another candidate to be determined --(someone/anyone) -- can potentially get things positively and constructively done in our large and complex political machine that has in many ways become increasingly stymied by bureaucracy, obstructionism, defeatism, game-playing, selfishness, pork barrel politics, (corruption,) sequestration, government closures, and political fighting across the aisle/behind the aisle/and in the aisle.

Let's hope for America and the world's sake the voters get it right.

But keep bashing Trump and you are keeping his message of superior strength and hope very much alive. ;-)

(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or political party)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 1, 2015

Awesome Northeast Fall Season

Just wanted to share this awesome photo that my beautiful daughter, Michelle, took this last week. 

I love how it vividly captures the Fall colors, the falling leaves, and the changing seasons. 

The bridge seems to magically span the lush green before with the orange and tan hues of the after all under a clear light blue sky. 

The scene definitely looks like a cozy and happy time and place I want to be in. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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October 11, 2015

Imagining The Unimaginable

So today, I am imagining the unimaginable, and thinking the unthinkable. 

What if extremists in Iran stopped hating Israel and the United States, and instead liked or even loved us?

Not because of the recent agreement on nukes and lifting of sanctions, but actually in spite of it--because as the Ayatollah has said, he prohibits any further negotiations and often refers to the U.S. as it's enemy (the only thing missing is the usual Iranian chants of "Death to America!").

But today, I saw the Iranian family again the I referred to in a Sept. 27 blog post, where the father had a stroke and the son comes on the weekends from Texas to help his father with physical and occupational therapy to recuperate. 

Well today, I saw the daughter too, and both she and the son where in the pool trying to help the father in every way to move and walk again. They swarmed around him in such loving-kindness, I couldn't believe the amazing display of love and devotion to any parent or disabled person. They were all there for him!

And my heart opened up, and I couldn't help thinking what if the Iranian leadership could be moderated by average normal people who just want to care for their families, earn a living, and worship and live in freedom? 

What if the Iranian leadership could learn to forgive and love again those who they have hated for so long and so much--the USA and Israel?

If the U.S. can forgive Iran for the hostage crisis that took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 long days and the bombing of the Beirut barracks that killed 241 marines, and Israel can forgive the endless Hezbollah terror attacks, the bombing of the Argentinian Jewish Center that killed 29 and wounded 250, the Holocaust denial, and threats of maniacal genocide...then surely, Iran can forgive the U.S.'s role in the 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power and can forgive Israel for merely existing!

As a son of Holocaust survivors, I am a die-hard for the defense and security of the Jewish people, so maybe today I am just being naive, foolish, or letting my imagination run wild. 

But I feel that Hashem is putting the words on the screen through my fingertips...what if Esau can stop hating Jacob? What if Iran can stop hating the USA and Israel and there can be peace and not war?

This is a fantasy, but perhaps it can become a reality.

Instead of the cycle of hate, the sponsorship of terror, the secret building of nukes, and aggression escalating until ultimately major devastating military strikes...instead imagine abandoning the old hateful and belligerent ways...imagine forgiveness for the past transgressions and affronts...imagine peace!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2015

The Pen From A Puddle

You know how ideas just sort of come to you...

Well, major innovations that have changed the course of history haven't really happened that way. 

All innovation and development start from somewhere--usually where G-d or someone else has left off--and then we take things a cycle forward. 

In the Wall Street Journal, James Ward describes how the simple yet profound ballpoint pen was invented. 

Not until 1899 was it founded giving everyone the ability to write away with a ball at the point (a ballpoint) that rolls and dispenses the ink with ease. 

The ballpoint pen was invented by Liszlo Biro of Budapest. 

Observing that in printing presses the machine cylinder could only roll ink back and forth, however for everyday writing people needed an all-directional mechanism. 

So what happens...

Sitting at a cafe and thinking, he sees children playing with marbles.

And one child's marble rolls through a puddle of water. 

The marble leaves "a line of water in its wake."

Boom...the idea for the ballpoint bearing comes in being with "minute grooves" in the pen head to draw the ink to the tip and unto the paper. 

With further experimentation, the famous Bic (Cristal) pen named after Frenchman, Marcel Bich, was born in 1959.  It has a "hexagonal body (inspired by the shape of aa traditional wooden pencil) and instantly recognizable lid"--since it's launch, more than 100 billion of these pens have been manufactured and sold!

By the way, remember the hilarious commercial for the Bic Banana Ink Crayon Pens (watch here to laugh a little).

So in both instances of the invention of the pen, the developers found other things in their environment from which they learned and then they applied it to something new (in one instance the child with the marble and water, and in the other the shape of the good 'ol pencil). 

Lesson learned here: 

Watch, learn, experiment, learn, apply -- change the world! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to photosteve101)
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March 14, 2015

Moving And Emotional

So we are supposed to be moving in a few weeks, G-d willing. 

Not going far, but after 15 years in the same home, it's time. 

We found a place that we like and could agree on...following primarily the rule of thumb on location, location, location.

Lot's of places to shop, eat, workout, play, and pray. 

And close to public transportation...and of course, good 'ol work--his and hers.

As we're preparing for the move, there seems like a million things to do to get ready, but the hardest is figuring out what to take and what to leave. 

My friend told me to throw out half, and then come back and throw out the other half. 

You know what, a little extreme, but not a bad idea. 

So as I am going through things I bought or saved over the years, I am left scratching my head at what was I thinking for many of them, and for many of the memorable items that I can't believe any of this really happened. 

It's emotional looking back, and it's emotional looking forward--just different emotions.

Back--yes, where did the years go and with that regret for mistakes made, but also joy at things accomplished, lives touched, and beautiful memories made with people I really love. 

Forward--Oy, am I getting older (well, still middle age but...), there is excitement for what comes next, also some anxiety there--I hope all goes well, please G-d--and then there is the acknowledgement that it's not forever, and I better make the most of every moment of every day. 

My father used to tell me, when you are with those you love, you can live in a tee-pee and be happy...and I believe he was absolutely right. 

Moving to my next tee-pee with those precious to me...I don't care so much where, but just that we are together and happy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 1, 2014

This Is Our World

This is some of the unbelievable crazy news just from today--check this out:

- Russia accuses U.S. that the rallies of masses of people seeking freedom and human rights in Hong Kong and Ukraine are really CIA plots.

- Ebola enters the U.S. ten days ago by a man who arrived from known, striken Liberia.

- "The Earth lost half of its wildlife in the past four decades."

- Oklahoma man, who recently tried to convert colleagues, beheads one of them at work. 

- Man who is armed felon (with "three felony convictions for assault and battery") gets within feet of and potentially endangers President on elevator within days of another man with a knife, who climbs fence, enters White House and skips about and into the East Room.

- Report that if just a "100-meter wide asteroid hit Washington, D.C....'it could wipe out everything within the Beltway.'"

So in case you didn't have enough to worry about ..this is our world and what we are doing to it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 20, 2014

Love, Strength

This has been an enormously tough year with the loss of my mom, my dad going into assisted living, and my hip replacement and complications.

I have found myself torn from my normal routine--my structure, my discipline--and thrown instead into a world of unknowns, hopes, and definitely prayers. 

Throughout, my family and close friends have stood by me--as I gave the eulogy for mom, as I moved my father out of his loving home, and as I growled in pain with the osteoarthritis and then joint replacement.  

When my daughter took my hand telling me all be well, when my youngest drove me to the doctors and PT, and when my wife fought for my care--I feel eternally grateful to have these people in my life.

With all the technology in the world, there is nothing like a human being to reach out and grab a hold off. 

One of my colleagues asked me what I have learned from all of this, and I'd say three things:

- Take time to reflect on the direction of your life and work to make the tough changes while you're able.
- Empathize with the plight of others, be merciful and compassionate, and help where you see the slightest opportunity. 
- Be sincerely grateful for everything you have and remember who is the Master of all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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