Wine Bottle Extraordinaire

Wine Bottle
I took this photo of one of the amazing wine bottles at an event last evening at Magen David Synagogue. 



Apparently, a very talented lady in there makes these special bottles. 



Unfortunately with the lighting, this picture does not near do them justice for how exquisite they looked. 



They were in different colors of lacing, with beautiful beads, hamsas, and other decorations, as well as pictures of our honored sages, and their names in hebrew over the photos. 



I asked facetiously one lady who was taking home a bottle whether she was going to drink it all that evening, and she pulled the bottle close to her and leaning in to me said, “This is going in my display case!”



And that truly is where these belong…they are amazing.



The wonderful lady that painstakingly makes these gave how many of them charitably so they could be auctioned for benefit of the synagogue. 



Aside from a wonderful soul, this person is very talented and should seriously start a business with these because they are awesome! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Whiskey Pie

Piehole
So I picked up a Powerball ticket this week…hard to resist with a jackpot of $360 million!



The store that sells the lottery tickets sells liquor.



I see these 3 bottles side-by-side.



And it’s for whiskey.



The whiskey has cherry, pecan, or apple pie flavored liquor.



The ladies pictured on the bottles are sitting on the different pies. 



And this “Pie-oneering” whiskey is called Piehole!



70% proof, and makes for quite some table talk. 



Not surprisingly, they never has this at the kiddush in shule on Shabbat! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Addictions R Us

Addictions R Us

I was having an really interesting conversation with a friend–okay, and it got a little deep.

He said something fascinating to me–which is that everyone is addicted to something.

Think about it–some are addicted to the hard stuff…drugs, alcohol, smoking.

Others are addicted to sex, work, shopping, exercise, even religion.

In modern times, there are new addictions to technology, gaming, and social media.

My friend is smart and we discussed or alluded to a number of reasons for the addictive nature of all people.

1) Meaning – Many people have a tough time dealing with the seemingly meaningless, mortal nature of their lives. Without a strong purpose and meaning, we can sort of float through every day looking for some anchor, stability, or rhythm. Addictions, for better or worse, can provide that habit or repetition compulsion. While not very meaningful itself, these addictions help people forget–temporarily, during their high or while they are being kept busy–that they are perhaps lost amidst it all.

2) Pain – Everyone has pain–emotional, physical, mental–these cause stress on people and their ability to deal or cope can be stretched thin, and they turn to some sort of addiction as a “crutch” to help them get through the day. It reminds me of a very crude song that I overheard years ago, called “F*ck the pain away” (excuse the language here, please). Anyway, simply replace the first word, with “work, shop, drink, and so on and poof, you have opiates (i.e. pain relief) for the masses.

3) Fear – People are afraid–afraid of living, afraid of dying–and addictions take us away from having the time to stop, think, and have to deal with our fears. If every minute, I am running around doing a million things–then I don’t have the time to shut it all down and out, and deal with what’s really going on inside. In fact, some people credit the Holy Sabbath day, as being beneficial to us to just stopping all that daily stuff at least for one day a week!

We are all human, and there is no one who is immune to looking for meaning, avoiding pain, and dealing with their fears.

The question is do we just throw ourselves into something to keep going or do we take more of a Buddhist approach, accept that life is suffering and try to raise ourselves above it through healthy balance, contemplative meditation, compassion and thinking about others, doing good deeds, and so on.

Keeping busy is good too–but going through life in a drug or otherwise induced fugue is not–then we’ve lost ourselves, which is maybe the point for our crazy world where addictions abound and we are all too happy to dive right in. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Miles Cave)

Driving Away With It

Driving Away With It

This last week was another week for gross social injustice.

As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help–and killed them all.

The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!

What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.

And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison.

On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken.

The defense teen argued “Affluenza” — like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because…he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision–in effect, he is a victim of having too much–too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well.

I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!

While others that have too little–education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on–must take the rap and go away for their crimes.

Too much–you can buy your way free.

Too little–you get sent up the river without a paddle.

Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way around–if you have more, then more is expected of you. While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?

But no, money talks, and the guilty walks.

It is a shame on our society–and what we inappropriately call a justice system.

Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.

Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial–another travesty of justice. How many more?

Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art–in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist.

You see it’s not whether you’re black or white or yellow or whatever, it’s plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rape Crisis Nation

Rape Crisis Nation

I’ve been wanting to capture this in a photo for some time.

I took this picture from a moving Metro train and one with incredibly dirty windows at that.

It is the phone number for a 24-hour rape crisis hotline.

Underneath the phone number is a picture of a hand picking up a telephone to call.

It is written as graffiti on the wall facing the train tracks.

And around it are radio towers, telephone polls, what looks like transformers, and a barbed wire fence.

It is quite an ominous setting for the ad placement.

To me, rape is one of the most horrendous and brutal crimes.

Ironically, it physically and emotionally violates a person through the very means that most people make love and life.

My first exposure to rape was in the opening scene to the movie Death Wish, where Charles Bronson’s wife and daughter are brutalized–I saw this movie as a little boy and it left a huge imprint on me.

Over the course of my life, I have known people who have been both raped and molested and it changed them forever.

I found these rape statistics online, and even though rape is down 60% since 1993, 1 out of every 6 women in this country experiences a rape or attempted rape at some point.

Also, it means that 20 years ago, the percentage was about 26% or 1 out 4.

The Atlantic-2 years ago–reported similar numbers with 18.3% of women who were raped or where rape was attempted.

Honestly, I think the numbers may even be higher, since so many cases go unreported, and according to the American Medical Association is one of the most unreported crimes.

The numbers are outrageously high for a western, modern, civilized country or any nation!

What is even more shocking is that the U.S. is listed as the 6th highest country for reported rape.

Perhaps a large part of this is because we report more frequently in this country, but also maybe because we are more free and affluent and thereby, people are able to partake of vices such as alcohol and drugs, which are associated with sexual violence.

Rape is a horrific act and in medieval times, the crime of rape was often punished with castration or even death.

In Death Wish, Bronson became a semi-crazed vigilante and sought out his own form justice.

Today, in real life, we provide the victims a hotline number to call and the rapists–if they even get reported–and caught, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced–may get some time or not, who really knows, but we should all care.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sorry Amanda Todd

Just watched this video with my daughter about Amanda Todd, the 15 year old girl from Canada who hung herself on Wednesday.

She made some mistakes with some guys–looks like she was taken advantage of–and then she was ruthlessly bullied, tormented, tagged, shamed, followed, beaten, and encouraged to kill herself.

After depression, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, cutting, and drinking bleach, she finally hung herself and is gone.

To those horrible people that pursued this young women and essentially murdered her–you are vile and disgusting and G-d will one day bring you to final judgment.

To the family of Amanda Todd, our heart, prayers, and sympathy goes out to you–your daughter and all decent people like her deserve better from society.

If we can only learn from this tragedy, perhaps her death will not have been in vain.

She wrote: “I have nobody. I need somebody. :(”

Hopefully, she is now with the heavenly father–and has not just somebody, but the one that matters the most.