Warning 613

613

As per my prior posts in November and December, we are continuing to see the mystical 613 (representing the number of commandments in the Torah). 


This morning, on the Washington, D.C. Metro, see the time showing (above upper right). 


The whole family is seeing this, as I got a note from my daughter just a few minutes ago looking at online classes at Lynda.com and one of the classes had 613 views. 


Even to me (normally a critical thinker and healthy skeptic), it seems beyond regular explanations for the frequency and locations that we are seeing these signs. 


Also, last night I had a scary dream about what seemed like the end of times–it was almost like The Walking Dead, with people running to the countryside amidst chaos and destruction all around them. 


As tensions heat up between major Sunni and Shiite rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and “Axis of Evil” Iran unveils a 2nd underground depot with missiles capable of carrying nukes, and ISIS continues their jihadi rampage leaving 80% of Ramadi in Iraq destroyed at a cost of $10 billion, a new Jihadi John replacement is executing British hostages in Syria, and there are escalating superpower tussles with Russia and China–it is not hard to see just some of the potential dangers in our times in terms of escalating conflict, terrorism, and war. 


What is the future for us all, I do not know for certain, but all I can tell you is there appears to be warnings all about, and the question is will we heed them or not and then what is the outcome–it should be with mercy and for blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Work-Family Is A Word

Team

This week I learned something about “work-family.”


Yes, work is not family–it’s your job.


But on the job we meet people that influence us, change us, and sometimes inspire us. 


Not everyone has a positive impact on us–some people we work with are bad, unbalanced, selfish, biased, and abusive–they bring their personal craziness into the office. 


But some are truly good people out there–and they leave a lasting impact. 


This week was the first time I experienced someone in my group passing away suddenly. 


She was at work Monday and Tuesday–we had talked and joked.


I remember she wore pink on Tuesday and it matched a pink stuffed animal on her desk–she looked happy or at peace. 


By early Wednesday morning, I was getting texts then calls that she had passed away (I simultaneously let my boss know). 


One day she was there in the office (and had been for some 30 years) and the next day she was gone.


But there was something special about this lady and how she interacted with the team. 


She seemed to touch people far and wide with her outreach, caring for others, joking around, and good spirit despite whatever challenges she herself may have been going through.


When she passed this week, people were in my office and the halls crying–they loved this lady, their coworker and friend.


At 9 AM, I gathered the broader team to announce her passing. “One of our own has passed.” I spoke and then went around offering others to say a few words, which some surely did. 


At 10 AM, I sent a notification of the passing to the people in the entire building (and others associated).


Later in the day, there was a toast to her and more speeches from up and down the chain to remember this good lady as well as to pull together as a team to support each other.


By the next day, things had quickly moved to care for the family, packing her office things and memorializing her, as well as provisions for some grief counseling. 


[Note: I am blessed with an extraordinary high-performance team, and this passing was not only a shock but added to the intensity of the work we do and how much of it there is.]


Once we have all the funeral arrangements, then next up is sending out an broader department-wide notice–and a large attendance for her is expected. 


What I learned is that while work itself can be productive and meaningful, through doing good to others and sincere personal interactions on the job, there can be bonds formed that can have a personal impact on people and bring tears to their eyes. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Freak Accidents, Illnesses, And Events

Treadmill

Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey (and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook), died suddenly in a freakish accident falling off a treadmill and hitting his head. 


Poof…dead at age 47!


Unfortunately, we hear all the time about these type of tragic occurrences to people.


And of course tragedy knows no bounds–so while sh*t happens everyday to people from all walks of life, we tend to pay more attention when it’s someone we know and love or when it’s splashed wildly in the news about fabulously successful people we admire and follow. 


– Entertainer, Michael Jackson (50) dead from drug intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest.


– Actor, Robin Williams (63) dead by hanging suicide. 


– Singer, John Lennon (40) shot in the back by someone he had autographed an album for.


– Martial Artist, Bruce Lee (33) died on a movie set from a cerebral edema.


– Model, Marilyn Monroe (33) dead by drug overdose.


– President, John F. Kennedy (46) dead by assassination.


Whether by a plane crash or car accident, drowning or fire, poison or electrocution, a criminal or animal attackterrorism, war, or natural disaster, a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, through suicide, punishment, or mercy killing…regardless of the probabilities and statistics, many people never make it all the way to “a ripe old age.” 


We feel bad, shake our heads, say a few words of sympathy perhaps, when we hear of these lives cut short.


But like the TV shows, Six Feet Under (HBO) or 1000 Ways To Die (Spike)–there are a near endless number of horrible ways to go–and they can take you at literally any time.


While we can’t stop living and just sit around worrying all the time about all the bad things that can happen, we do need to remember that anything can happen at any time (and these things are not so freakish after all)–no one is beyond the Angel of Death, no one should be arrogant, and we should make the most of every single moment that G-d lovingly grants to us.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Military Health)

Comfort In Mourning

Comfort In Mourning
While sitting in mourning (Shiva) for my dad (as previously I did just last year for my mom), people come and say the ancient Jewish words of comfort:

 

“May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!”

 

The experience of sitting Shiva is humbling, being in mourning, sitting on a low stool, unshaven, and with torn garb, and reciting the words of the Kaddish (mourners prayer) out loud.

 

“…May He who makes peace in the high places, grant [in his mercy] peace upon us, and upon all Israel, Amen.”

 

But more than anything, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from so many good people in the community.

 

People have come to pray with me, tell me wonderful stories about my dad, and generally share with me in my mourning for him.

 

I have been truly taken by the many people who have come both in good health, but also from people that were blind and with everything from broken arms to walking canes and to those who called thinking of me while they themselves are sick or even wheelchair-bound.

 

People have shared their own stories of grief to let me know I wasn’t alone, and they brought food so I definitely wouldn’t be hungry.

 

Others have told me how wonderful my dad was as a friend and in the community, how he made people smile and was always in good spirits (even perhaps when he had good reason not to be), and how he did so many good deeds (some that were known and many others that were not).

 

I have been amazed how people stay not just for prayer services, but take the time to really talk to me, to give selflessly and generously, even from their own busy family and work lives and schedules.

 

Some of the people I know from the community, some just knew my dad, but I realize how these good, giving people are really worth knowing as human beings–not because they were my dad’s friends or gave to me at this time of mourning, but because they are truly spiritual people, who just desire to do some good in the world–like my dad who did this for others (and how he taught me all my life and especially as a child).

 

I hope that this time of mourning is not just one of finding comfort and healing, but also a re-awakening of my own feelings for community, spirituality, and selflessness.

 

I have much room for personal growth for myself, but also many role models around who have set the bar very high. Also, my dad has left some VERY big shoes for me to fill. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cure Cancer B4 It Kills Again

Stop Cancer 2 Stop Cancer
Nice seeing these signs and slogans against cancer posted today in Washington, D.C.



Looking at the 2014 statistics, there were almost 1.7 million new cases and almost 687 thousand deaths in the U.S. alone for cancer including of the brain/nervous system, female breast, colon/rectum, Leukemia, liver, lung/bronchus, non-hodgkin lymphoma, ovary, pancreas, and prostate.



Way too much suffering and death from cancer…we must fight this killer. 



Whatever we can do to raise money, caring, and empathy…we should do. 



Run, walk, give, support, remember…even just hold someone’s hand. 



Thank you American Cancer Society and everyone out there helping to find the cure. 



“14 million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays this year.”



Won’t it be miraculous when everyone is a survivor in a world without cancer anymore. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Welcome Ebola To America!

Ambulance Patient
While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!


Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, “the world faces an ‘unprecedented situation’ for which there is no plan.”

But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows…


What isn’t helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes–get this–that “A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea.”


While Kenny acknowledges “Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection” dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the “trade-offs” of quarantining the source countries–“because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks”–i.e. “People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest.”


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would “completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world” even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights “will deter people from volunteering to work in the region”–here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed–although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don’t quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola–uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!


Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, “We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there’s no escaping an infection.”


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people–there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us–what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection–not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ebola Has Arrived

Ebola 2
The Washington Post ran an article on August 1, “Why You Are Not Going To Get Ebola In The U.S.”



As of about 10 minutes ago, they are now reporting, “As Ebola Confirmed In U.S. , CDC vows, ‘We’re Stopping It In Its Tracks.'”



What do you think we’ll see in the news about Ebola within the next 6 months or year–completely eradicated, mostly contained, spreading slowly, or G-d forbid a global pandemic? 



G-d should help us to conquer this disease quickly and completely. 



(Source Photo: here with Attribution to European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)

The Ebola Bomb {^}

Ebola
Ebola is the “one of the most virulent microbes” to mankind–there is no known cure and it has a 90% mortality rate. 

 

The death toll from the current outbreak of ebola in West Africa has now hit 1,145.

 

And according to the U.N. Health Agency, the number of deaths are “vastly underestimated.”

 

Already, as of two weeks ago, more than 100 health workers had been infected. So who is going to care for the infected and sick, when the medical professionals themselves are sick and dead?

 

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is spread by “direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments infected with such fluids.”

 

However, as frightening and deadly as ebola is as a disease that spreads and must be contained, what is even more terrifying is that there are those who believe that terrorists may try to harness it into a dirty bomb.

 

CBS reports that a disease expert from Cambridge University says that “A bigger and more serious risk is that a [terrorist] group manages to harness the virus as a power, then explode it in a bomb in a highly populated area.”

 

A biological bomb like this “could cause a large number of horrific deaths,” and would further spread the disease–and until it stops, no one knows.

 

Visiting any number of local doctors offices, emergency rooms, or hospitals that are already filled with patients and with lengthy wait times to be treated, I cannot imagine what an Ebola (type) outbreak would look like.

 

I hope and pray we never find out the suffering, death, and havoc something a virus like this would cause–whether transmitted through human-to-human contact or by one of the dirtiest, sickest bombs you could imagine.

 

(Source Screenshot: here with attribution to Unicef)

Some Game This Is

I remember as a kid, my grandfather lived down the block from us on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

He was old and not in the best of health with a heart condition, hearing aids, and more.

One day, he was coming home from the bank, and he went into the elevator in his building.

He was followed by a punk, who after the elevator door closed, proceeded to grab my grandfather and choke him until he was unconscious.

The thug took his wallet and left my grandfather on the floor of the elevator.

Now, today I saw on the news about the Knockout Attack Game–and some “game” this is.

The attacker runs up behind the person unbeknownst and with full force slams their fist against a person head, knocking them unconscious, and when successful, this is done with one punch!

In other cases, an entire gang will attack, punching and kicking a victim until they stop moving.

While I couldn’t locate the exact video that happened in a neighborhood in NY to a Jewish woman, this video of an attack on a Muslim girl in London about a year ago, approximates it very closely.

While some victims of these attacks end up with broken jaws, skulls, shattered teeth, internal injuries, bleeding and more, others are not so lucky and end up dead.

I never forgot what happened to my grandfather and the cowardly schmuck that attacked this old, helpless man–but at least, he apparently did it for the money.

In these knockout attacks, when they ask the attackers why they do it, the response is for the fun and laughs.

What a commentary of our society, when people brutally attack other people–not for money, revenge, self-defense, or principle–but simply to see others needlessly suffer and to take a form of intense joy in it.

Perhaps, there are certain crimes for which the L-rd above must look down and mete out his own version of justice, in a way that restores order to this world of hope and despair.

From The Window In the Nursing Home

From The Window In the Nursing Home

I visit the nursing home pretty often to see my mom who is there.

While I try to focus on my mom and her needs, I do notice other patients there.

The images are deeply impactful on me…here are ten that are on my mind today:

1) The husband and wife who are both in the home in a shared room–the wife is wheelchair-bound and the husband dutifully pushes her around the floor. This weekend, I saw them together at the nurses’ station asking for some crackers. When the nurse came back with some individually wrapped crackers in cellophane, the couple took them and went off down the hall happy as clams.

2) The lady at the table who is overweight, but always asks for more food. She doesn’t talk much except to ask for more dessert. She stares at the other patients and seems annoyed and upset with them.

3) The guy who was a lawyer, but now has dementia, and sits and talks half to himself and half trying to engage others, but all that comes out is sort of gibberish. So others just nod or say something to politely acknowledge him, but can’t converse with him with any meaning.

4) The lady in the room who sits in a chair hunchback. She never seems to leave the room or the chair. Sometimes, she watches TV and other times appear to be crocheting. Mostly she sits hunchback, looking uncomfortable, but settled for the long hall like that.

5) The woman who sits outside her door in the hallway. She is in a wheelchair, and she doesn’t say anything, but she stares at you while you walk down the hallway. She sits there watching–sitting and watching.

6) The younger but still old disheveled guy. He comes into the dining room to eat, but gets food all over himself. He sits alone, always. He eats quickly, leaves half his food, and gets up and goes out while everyone else is still picking away at their food.

7) The lady with a wall of baseball caps. She has no hair, maybe she has cancer, I don’t know. She usually is in bed, sitting up. The caps look like they have a lot of meaning to her, but I’m not sure if it’s because she’s a sports enthusiast or why.

8) A lady in a wheelchair that pulls herself along down the hall. She puts one foot in front of the other in these baby steps motions, and the chair moves along, slowly, but at least she is mobile, somewhat.

9) This weekend, I looked out the window of the home, and there was a woman on the sidewalk. She had fallen on the ground, on her butt. Her walker was next to her, but she could not get up. Some people were near here, apparently trying to get help, but not wanting to touch or move her themselves. I ran for the floor nurse, and she came to the window to see. She said is that so and so, which meant nothing to me, and then she ran off to help her get up.

10) A lady sits downstairs by the glass windows–she is dressed up fancy like older healthy people are want to do. Next to her is an older gentleman in a turtleneck, but he is just visiting and is her son. They seem to be sort of wealthy as they sit upright in the high-back chairs and discuss family and what she’s been eating at the home. They look askance at some of the other patients who are crying out in pain.

The nursing home, like the hospital is a horrible place to be, even when you have to be there.

In both places, even the most caring doctors and nurses and attendants, cannot make up for the fact that you are a prisoner of age, failing health, and disability–and let’s face it, even if many are nice or attentive, not everyone is.

I am still unclear why people must suffer so–why we haven’t found a better way to end good, productive, and loving lives.

I am not sure that people are really even focused on this issue of old age, because it’s not sexy, it’s at the end anyway, and “they had the chance to live their lives.”

Maybe, it’s because we simply don’t have the answers yet, can’t afford what they would take, or we would just rather not deal with mortality, pain, and suffering when there are so many other things to do.

But one day, we all will face the piper–and it would be comforting if we had better answers.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)