Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) @JCC Rockville

Memorial for the 23,741 fallen soldiers and 3,150 victims of terror. 


Brave, strong, and dedicated to the survival of Israel. 


May their memory be a blessing!


Also a beautiful video my daughter, Minna sent to me. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An Early Death

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Iron Maiden Torture

Check this out. 

This is called an Iron Maiden.

It is from Nuremberg, Germany. 

This one is from Medieval times, but they were apparently still around even in the 19th century!

It has 14 spikes on the inside that were designed to pierce the eyes, throat, and heart. 

People placed for torture and death in the Iron Maiden sarcophagus would be completely mutilated. 

Is this one of the reasons that so many people suffer from claustrophobia?  

I remember seeing in a movie where someone was placed in a dungeon cell, but this one was carved into the rock wall horizontally. 

The prisoner would be forced to lie down in it with iron bars caged over the side vertically. 

S/he could not sit up, roll over, or move. 

Can you imagine the sheer terror and torture?

How people could be so evil and inflict such suffering on others and often for crimes like heresy is extremely hard to understand. 

Why in G-d’s name does anyone call it the “good ‘ol days?” 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Never Ever More Vulnerable

Vulnerable.jpeg

So we have never been more technology advanced. And at the same time, we have never been more vulnerable


As we all know, our cybersecurity have not kept near pace with our ever growing reliance on everything technology.


There is virtually nothing we do now-a-days that does not involve networks, chips, and bits and bytes. 


Energy

Transportation

Agriculture

Banking

Commerce

Health

Defense

Manufacturing

Telecommunications


If ANYTHING serious happens to cripple our technology base, we are toast!


From a crippling cyberattack that disables or hijacks our systems, steals or locks down our data, or creates massive chaotic misinformation flow to a EMP blast that simply fries all our electronic circuitry–we are at the mercy of our technology underpinnings. 


Don’t think it cannot happen!


Whether it’s Wannacry ransonware or the Equifax breach of our privacy data or the Kaspersky Labs hidden backdoor to our top secret files or North Korea threatening to hit us with an EMP–these are just a few of the recent cyber events of 2017!


Technology is both a blessing and a curse–we have more capability, more speed, more convenience, more cost-effectiveness than ever before, but also there is greater vulnerability to complete and utter death and destruction!


This is not just a risk that life could become more difficult or inconvenient–it is literally an existential threat, but who wants to think of it that way?


People, property, and our very society is at risk when our cybersecurity is not what it must be.


It’s a race of defensive against offensive capability. 


And we can’t just play defense, we had better actually win at this! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death With Dignity

death

It is amazing that still in the 21st century there is not widespread acceptance and legality of physician-assisted suicide. 


Even the term voluntary euthanasia (from the Greek meaning good death) is still considered taboo–similar to using the term radical Islamist.


People are afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with life’s complexities and harsh realities. 


All through history, mankind had the code of conduct and honor that when someone (person or animal) was mortality wounded by nature or in battle, they would be “put out of their misery.”


This is called COMPASSION!


Yet, in modern-day civilization, extremist PC-ness (politically correctness) dooms even such a basic fundamental act of decency toward one another. 


Like with radical Islam, the fear of saying it and admitting to a war against extremist and murderous religion ideology cannot be fathomed and so “leadership from behind” mandates that we close our eyes and pretend the boogeyman isn’t really in the room–even if it means continuous losing in the global war on terror. 


Similarly, with euthanasia, poor excuses for leaders fear that once the genie is out of the bootle, people will just be committing arbitrary acts of suicide left and right. 


Unfortunately, these weak people in leadership positions are not leaders, but rather cowards who force others to suffer whether by the hands of terrorism and war or by the unnecessary and cruel suffering for people with the most horrible illness and disabilities in society. 


In 1988, “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, provided assisted suicide to someone with the horrible, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in turn, he had to spend 8 years in jail for second-degree murder.


Fortunately, there are now already 5 U.S. states where “physicians cannot prosecuted for prescribing medication to hasten death”, where individuals that “have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live.” These include: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana (when mandated by a court ruling).  


Similarly, overseas in Switzerland, associations like DIGNITAS, provide services “accompanying dying patients at the end of their lives and assistance with suicide.”


The person must have a: 


– “terminal illness” and/or an 

– “an “unendurable incapacitating disability” and/or 

– “unbearable and uncontrollable pain.”


The end is made reasonable and humane by having a in-depth evaluation, followed by at least 2 face-to-face meetings with doctors, getting a prescription for the medicine, setting a mutually agreed date, having loved ones at their side, and self-administering the fatal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital (NaP), usually 15 mg by swallowing or administering by gastric tube or intravenously.


The medicine is “lethal, fast-acting, and completely painless”–after taking it, the patient falls asleep within a few minutes and passes peacefully. 


Having seen my own mother suffer horribly with Parkinson’s Disease, I know that voluntary euthanasia would not only have been the merciful thing to do, but the right thing to do to help people. 


Political correctness and fear of doing what needs to be done is no excuse for prolonging the suffering of those that want to exercise their right to die and who deserve their final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Do We Fear More?

halloween

So it’s Halloween tomorrow.


It’s a holiday to remember those that have passed. 


In modern times, it has become a holiday of ghosts and ghouls, spooky and scary.


People dress up often in ghastly costumes, party hearty, and go door to door, trick or treat.


With fright night, I ask myself, are we more afraid of what we don’t understand from the spirit world or perhaps of what do understand from people in this life?


Certainly, the supernatural and the spirits–elements of what’s awaiting for us on the other side are things we don’t really have tangible experience with or understand…we are afraid of the unknown.


But in this world, we are familiar and encounter bad people and deeds, and unfortunately have to deal with them, but it never becomes easier or less scary to confront these.


Sure, we understand that not everyone is good, and not everyone has the best impulse control–people do rotten, horrible things for selfishness and greed or simply because they can’t stop themselves.


How scary is it to run into and have to deal with people that can and will do almost anything–maybe without a conscious thought or remorse for doing wrong…perhaps, they might even enjoy hurting others, taking what doesn’t belong to them, forcing their will or themselves on others, and doing unthinkable acts of crazed violence and evil. 


We are definitely afraid of people like this…they are out of control, and don’t add up for those of us who think in terms of a soul, conscience, an everyday moral compass, and a seeing and hearing L-rd above


So life is scary, but death awaits us all as well. 


And as my dad used to say, no one has ever come back to tell us what happens over there. 


He had the most faith of anyone I know, and I understand we are supposed to have faith that we are going to a better place, but like coming out of the mother’s womb into this world, when we die, we are coming out into a whole new place altogether. 


New things are scary and going from the physical world to the spiritual one, I assume can also be a little earth shattering–where exactly are we going and how will we be judged when we get there? 


Of course, I hope that I will be with my family and with G-d and bask in his eternal light. 


Thus for me, I find myself less scared of ghosts and metaphysical things, but the evil that people can bring, behind ghoulish smiles and with hidden agendas, telling lies and fooling us of their evil intent, that is scarier than any ghost or goblin, any time of year on Earth or beyond. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Style From Head To Toe

Death Hat.jpegRed Sneakers.jpeg

So I took these photos of two young fashionable men. 


The first had a very cool “Death” cap on.

And the second had the reddest pair of sneakers, I’ve ever seen. 

Both were stylish standouts!

To me, the hat confronted the scariness of death head-on (excuse the pun) or that the person is themselves, in a sense, death to anyone that starts with them or gets in their way–it is not only bold in terms of the big white letters, but in terms of the courage to face the harshest of all our realities. 

Then to the shoes, going red and untied, spoke to me in terms of looseness, comfort, and ease with yourself–you are who you are and the world be darned!

Both the cap and the shoes are in your face and make a statement of cool nonchalance and the daringness to confront “whatever.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazing Will

Prosthesis

So this is amazing Will. 


He is a veteran who was disabled and is missing a leg. 


But that doesn’t stop him from going to the track with his beautiful son to play ball and do some laps. 


In a few short moments he switches between his regular walking prothesis and the carbon fiber running blades for playing and working out. 


All I could say to Will was how amazing he is. 


And he is amazing Will for what he can do despite any disabilities–he turns his disabilities into abilities!


And he is amazing Will not just because of his name and his service to his country and his devotion to his family, but because of his willpower.


Will is determined to succeed no matter what. 


Not to compare, but I thought to myself what excuse do I have with my titanium hips.


Get the heck around the track for another dozen Andy!


And I did, and I am losing weight and getting back to myself. 


I think the lose of both my completely dear parents the last couple of years was more than traumatic for me. 


But they would want me to heal and to be me again.  


I know they are watching and I want to make them proud. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better Than A Cadaver

Lying Down

So I’m at the doctor’s office for a checkup.

The doctor tells me to lie down on the exam table. 

There is also a 3rd year medical student in the room as part of her training. 

The exam starts and there are all these devices for checking things out. 

It’s feeling a little tense. 

I jokingly say, “I feel like a cadaver lying here (being studied).”

Then the medical student says, “Oh you smell much better than a cadaver! I just took that class.”

Oh, how comforting is that–smelling better than a stinkin’ dead person whose been embalmed!

At which point, there is some ridiculous talk about dead people and formaldehyde, body odor, and decay.

This was quite a lively visit, but I hope it was helpful to me and to medical science. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Got To Be

Tunnel

So I read a book review the other day that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. 


The book was by an atheist who had 2 near-death experiences. 


And while for other people, they see the light at the end of the tunnel–and are reunited with family loved ones and are in bliss from being with the Heavenly Father…


This guy saw nothing but blackness and said it was empty and nothingness. 


And he was dead serious about it. 


He said there is nothing after we die, absolutely nothing. 


Now, while I have always believed in life after death and even in reincarnation if we still have more growing and learning to do, I had heard others say contrary beliefs in the past.


One guy in synagogue when I was a young adult used to say, “When you die, you’re as dead as a dead dog!”


Lovely thought (not), but I never took any of that seriously. 


Yet, this guy’s book somehow got to me on a deep level. 


Maybe because I lost my beloved parents over the last 2+ years and am still deeply mourning them, and the only thing that can possibly console me about that is the notion that I will one day be reunited with them and see them again. 


So the opposing idea that it’s really over–that I will never see them again–experience their love and laughter again–is beyond my comprehension–it literally blows my mind in a bad bad way. 


Also, I said to my wife, if this atheist is by any chance right (not about G-d) but about there being no afterworld, then what is the purpose to anything we do–who cares?


Without G-d, without Divine will and justice, and a world-to-come, there really is nothing but darkness and not just after we die, but now too–because it would all be purposeless. 


No, I cannot believe that!


The atheist saw nothing afterwards, because he believes in nothing–it’s a measure for a measure. 


For those who believe that there is more, much more–there really is. 


It has to be that way…for anything to make sense. 


For us to try so hard. 


For us to go on.


For us to have a purpose.


For there to be justice.


For there to be us. 


My dad used to tell me that “No one has ever come back from the other side to tell us what’s there.”


So it really is the ultimate mystery of life…but I choose to believe in life now and in life later. 


The miracles of my own life and those around me show me again and again that there is design, there is order, there is a plan, there is a purpose and I will find mine. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)