Airplane Art

Why aren’t airplanes really decorated like this?


It would be so much more fun to get on a plane that displayed some pizzaz!


All we hear about are plane delays, cancelled flights, mishandled baggage, and involuntary bumping.


Oh, and don’t forget the ever more cramped seating and the entertainment system that is habitually broken.


How does this industry get away with all this crap? 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Give Me That Fridge Handle

So we got a new stainless refrigerator. 


A cause for celebration!


It get’s delivered and afterwards, I notice that the door handles are installed unevenly. 


I call the store and they agree to send their guys out to us again to fix it. 


Well, the handles were on the wrong doors and they switch it so that now they look even, but in the process, they break the handle on one of the doors so that only the top is attached to the door and the bottom is blowing in the wind (and ready to scratch the door). 


With this second installation debacle, I call the store again and not a happy camper!


Three calls later, the store agrees for me to come over and literally take the handle of the fridge on the showroom floor to replace my broken one–which I promptly did!


Third times the charm…no more broken door handle. 


As for the one in the store, let’s just say you can only open the left door for now.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It Spills Over

Sometimes the glass is not half full or half empty. 


But rather is spills over entirely. 


There is nothing, nothing left inside. 


Worse even is when the glass completely shatters.


Then there isn’t even a vessel anymore. 


All that’s left is to pick up the pieces. 


As humans, we try to fill up the water, stop the water inside from spilling out, and to save the glass.


The rest is in G-d’s hands. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 


The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one’s country. 


Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 


While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 


Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 


But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:


– From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  


– With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 


– Just recently, we’ve seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 


– We have also seen many years of pay freezes–with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!


– The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 


– Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 


– There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 


– Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of “conduct” issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.


– The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 


While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 


For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 


Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country–from the front lines to the back offices–we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Terrible TV

IMG_4280.jpg

So we bought a new big screen television. 


That’s exciting, right?


We brought it home from Costco. 


And we gave our prior model away to a family member. 


It was a shlep to move that $2,000 Panasonic behemoth from 2007!


By the time we got back home and connected our new LG TV, oy vey what a disappointment. 


It had this brilliant display in “test mode” that when hooked up to the cable box looked dark and worse than lackluster. 


Even when fidgeting with the settings to offset the dark screen, the gorgeous test display mode still came out looking like crap in actual tv mode. 


But the worst part was that there was a black line down the middle right of the screen. 


When we looked it up on the Internet, it was a known error. 


The instructions said to call LG and make a service appointment. 


WTF!  To heck with this sh*tty TV–it’s supposed to be brand new and actually work–so it’s going back to Costco where this crappy product came from. 


I dragged this widescreen TV back to the store and put it on one of their flat wide carts. 


The problem was that the wheels on one side of the cart were busted, and it kept turning into the fence, store shelves, and wall.


When the lady behind the returns desk called me for my turn, I tried to push the cart and it wouldn’t move. 


Not being able to budge this thing,  I gave it shove forward and the TV went flying from upright to horizontal–SMASH!


The lady behind the returns counter goes to me sarcastically:


“So what was wrong with it BEFORE you just knocked it over???”


Well to make a long story short, I returned the lousy LG television and got a refund. 


And instead ordered a new Samsung curved TV from Amazon–hope this one works!


As for the horrible quality control of today’s electronics–it’s a shame that they can’t seem to make them without problems–they’ve only been making televisions for like 100 years or so. 


In fact, we recently bought a Dell laptop and within like 5-6 weeks, the motherboard died.  


As you can see, the vendors are wringing profits from the products they are making at the customer’s expense. 


There is no quality control to speak of–instead be ready to return the junk electronics to the garbage vendors that make them. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Together 4Ever

In elementary school, the children sing about love and romance. 

“The spades go.
Two lips together.
Twilight forever. 
Bring back my love to me.”


When 2 people are together, it’s as if the angels in heaven themselves are dancing and singing. 


Love seems to make everything in the world right again. 


Recently, an old person from my building lost his wife of over 60 years!


I see him around and while he continues to go about doing his everyday things, I can see that he misses his wife so much. 


He is broken, and his strength is gone. 


I remember my grandfather and father the same way when they lost my grandmother and mother, respectively. 


Completely devastating to them–their wives were their lives and what made them complete– afterward, they were never really the same. 


Our companions are truly our other halves. 


When someone asked the old man from my building how he was doing late last week, he simply responded:

“I’m getting along the best that I can.”


He said it was such sadness and loneliness for his wife who passed that his words literally cut right through me. 


People need each other–no one is an island–and especially loving couples who have been together for decades and decades–they are for each other and with each other, even if “together forever” is just a song that children sing…it is what we all ultimately wish for. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

America The Polarized

So on one hand, in American politics today you have this–Make America Great Again.

And those who support Trump and change.

On the other side, you have those that oppose and resist.

And those that blame and wash their hands from the dirty politics.

And many that think that the worst in politics already happened.

But our problems are large and eating this nation up alive–from Iran and North Korea to Jobs, Healthcare, Immigration, and more.

 

Our social safety net is fraying under a frightening and mounting national debt, and our national security needs are growing amid an endless array of real doomsday threats from WMD, EMPs, and Cyber Attacks.

 

What will it be America–blame, ridicule, resist, endless fighting or work to help and not hate. 😉

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Paper Navy Tiger

Damaged Navy Warship.jpeg

We spend $600 billion on defense and this is what we get?


In the middle of the night our U.S. Navy DESTROYER crashes with a ginormous container ship.


The commercial vessel (yes it’s bigger, but it’s a civilian ship) is lightly damaged, but the U.S. Navy BATTLESHIP (after having undergone a recent $21 million upgrade) has 7 dead, the captain injured, and it can barely make it back to its port except with tugboats for extensive repairs. 


WTF!


How does an battleship with the latest sensors and technology collide with a civilian ship–how did such a foreign vessel even get close to our navy ship let alone collide with it–was someone completely “asleep at the wheel?”


This is no joke!–this is our first line of defense in our ability to project force globally. 


What if this had been a terrorist ship laden to the hilt with high explosives or an Axis of Evil Iranian or North Korean fast attack craft or even a Russian or Chinese attack submarine–surprise!


Doesn’t a battleship need to be ever-vigilant and -ready for battle? 


How can we fight sophisticated 21st century militaries with advanced ship-killer cruise missiles, torpedos, and mines, if we can’t even avoid the essential sinking of one our own fighting ships in peacetime. 


Our brave men and women who take up the uniform to serve this great nation–and this country–DESERVE BETTER!


Does this paper navy ship with a punched hole in it represent a larger forgotten or war-weary military in dire need of modernization and genuine readiness to defend the beautiful and free America? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via The Guardian)

Lies, Injustice, and the New “(Un)American Way”

Tank.jpeg

Superman and all the American heroes have been so great because they represented the fight of good over evil.


And…with the principles always of “Truth and Justice.”


We were proud to be Americans because we were a free democracy and we fought for freedom and human rights everywhere. 


Truth and justice in the world meant something; it meant everything to us. 


It was part of our Judeo-Christian faith and who were were as people and as a nation. 


We defeated colonial rule, slavery, Hitler, Communism, and even put a man on the moon while heralding in suffrage and equal rights irrespective of color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and more. 


The truth was sought out no matter where it was to be found, and justice needed be done to satisfy the courts below and the Heaven above. 


But it seems that a lot has changed, hasn’t it?


Right is no longer right, but rather politics makes right. 


From smear campaigns, secret dossiers, exaggerations and fairy tales to name-calling, hate speech, cyber attacks, and marketing and branding to undo the opposition. 


From secret email servers, foundation pay-to-play, and pizzagate to claims of Russian campaign ties. 


From a Snowden surveillance state to stolen questions from election debates. 


From abstention at hateful, bigoted UN resolutions to deals with terrorist Iranian mullahs.


From honors at the White House for Army deserter Bergdahl to injustices meted out against the opposition party by unscrupulous political appointees. 


From fake news to the abandonment of investigative journalism with now one-sided bias and trash talking journalists and even SNL “comedians.”


From the reversal of dry-foot wet-foot immigration for Cubans (what ever happened to helping refugees in need and danger?) to watching 500,000 dead in Syria from the sidelines of violated red lines. 


From a purge of 36,000 after a Turkey coup to the rise of competing ISIS and Iranian terror caliphates across Asia and the Middle East. 


From nukes on NATO’s borders to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Georgia and from China’s buildout in the South China Sea and threatening of its neighbors and freedom of navigation of the seas to North Korea developing and tests ballistic missiles and nukes. 


From shootings of African Americans to “revenge killings” against police officers and the demise of inner-city America with skyrocketing crime and the long misery of poverty and homelessness.


From decrepit U.S. infrastructure, jobs going overseas, a widening trade deficit, and an overwhelming national debt. 


From rose-colored glasses, half-baked statistics, and selling bogus ideas to the “media echo chamber.”


From abandonment of allies and friends to embracing terrorist murders and the inability to say “radical Islamist.”


From campaigning from within the White House on the taxpayer dime to attacking Bernie Sanders for his faith to steer the primary to Hillary. 


From secret meetings on airplanes with the Attorney General while in the middle of an investigation to lies about videos being the cause of an attack on our Benghazi mission and the murder of an American Ambassador. 


From prosecuting some for mishandling government classified information to letting others go who were “grossly negligent” endangering national security.


From divisiveness and “resistance” to creating an inability to get anything done. 


From sit-ins and walk-outs and from disrespectful “peaceful” demonstrations to violent protests, and from loose-mouths to paid operatives to disrupt lawful campaign rallies. 


From “Not my president” to how dare anyone question the legitimacy of our elections. 


From breaking glass ceilings to creating new barriers between peoples and races across the spectrum. 


From broken healthcare to bankrupt social security, and from failing education to trailing life expectancy. 


From a decrepit nuclear triad “deterrent” to a weakening of the global order, including Brexit. 


From terrorism and war to genocide, refugees, and human rights violations. 


So as lies and corruption run rampant and we are aghast with mouths open wide at how far things can fall…we recognize when power itself becomes the end rather than the means, and wielding it becomes more important than any truth and any justice, and that is fundamentally how totally unAmerican things have become, indeed. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Greatest Danger Is Still Man

broken

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” kicked off last night, and it was an absolutely devastating storyline


This was the long awaited episode to see what happens after Rick and cohorts are captured and literally put down on their knees in the gravel by the evil and ruthless Negan and his army. 


The killings of Glenn and Abraham by getting their skulls brutally bashed in was one of the most horrific things I have ever seen. 


And forcing Rick to nearly cut off his own child’s arm and all the other mental torture and physical abuse he endured left the show’s leader and hero, a completely broken man. 


All that they had overcome and survived was now just a shattered history. 


They were overcome, they were defeated, they were wholly broken.


What is amazing is that they could handle the Walking Dead zombies (even hordes of them), but ultimately, it was the evilness of man himself that they could not win against. 


Zombies are dangerous and scary, but man is the most dangerous and brutal predator out there, and the horrific things they can do to each makes everything else pale by comparison. 


Especially, when Negan kills and destroys, he does it with such completele evil joy that it leaves one questioning, how can this whole evil thing exist in a universe created and maintained by a good and merciful G-d. 


My wife said to me that this was a small reminder of what the Holocaust must’ve been like–with the Nazi’s holding a stranglehold of power and committing the most heinous atrocities and genocide against 6 million starving and enslaved Jews held in notorious concentration death camps.


After the show, watching “Talking Dead,” viewers indicated that this was the turning point in the whole show, and there was no going back for Rick and his group.


Yet, I am most certain that even if it can no longer be Rick who regains his strength and leadership mantle, there will be another who will rise up and overcome the evil Negan. 


It’s a dog eat dog world, and there is always another younger, leaner, and meaner dog in town–hence, every dog has it’s day.


Ultimately is that justice?


While perhaps we all wish to see good triumph over evil every time, there are certainly moments when good takes a good walloping. 


And then G-d sends a savior to restore good to it’s rightful dominant place in the universe.


In the process though, lives and souls can be shattered and never be the same again. 


Watching the eternal battle between good and evil is what totally tests our faith and gives us the free choice on which side to be on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)