Woman In Gold, Gold, and More Gold

What an amazing painting featured in the movie, Woman In Gold.


The painting is called the Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I and was commissioned by her adoring husband. 


That face! And surrounded by everything in gold yet you can still clearly make out her stunning dress. 


I’ve never seen anything like this: the vividness and the majesty of it. 

Honestly, I think there is a resemblance to my beautiful mother, Gerda Blumenthal who was also from Germany. 


The interesting history on this is that it was stolen by the Nazis from the Jewish owners in the Holocaust, but was finally returned to their family in America that succeeded in suing Austria for it back.


This is truly one of the greats! 😉


(Credit Photo: Gustav Klimt [Public domain])

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)

Respecting Native Americans

So I don’t know what went down with the students from Catholic Covington High School and the Native Americans in the video that was widely circulated the other day.


People claiming all sorts of racism and hate, and others saying nothing happened–usually the truth is somewhere in between. 


In light of this, I wanted to share this awesome painting, and say we should absolutely respect the Native Americans and do everything we can to help them. 


These are the indigenous people that were here long before we ever were, and let’s just say that they suffered and lost a lot when the first Europeans arrived on these shores. 


We are all G-d’s children, and no one acting with integrity and peacefully should ever be mistreated or disrespected, no one! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Crumbs Are For The Birds, Not The Workers

Since the days of slavery, workers have had very little in terms of rights or protections. 


The rich and powerful capitalist employers hold all the cards.


Like this poster says:

“Which Shall It Be?
Duke: ‘If you demand your rights, no more crumbs from my table.’
Working Man: ‘Give me my rights and keep your crumbs.'”

The capitalist owners enjoy being able to give “trickle-down economics” to the average working man. 


Basically, it’s just crumbs from the rich man’s table. 


And if you don’t like it, and you want rights, protections, and more…tough luck, and no more crumbs for you!


But the little guy who breaks his back to earn his daily bread, wants his dignity and respect more than the crumbs from the “capitalist pig” taking advantage of him.


Trickle-down is bullshit!


Crumbs aren’t going to raise the standard of living for the working class. 


We need living wages, social and income equality, and workers rights and protections to keep the little guy from being bulldozed by the rich and powerful. 


Certainly, there are many rich and powerful people that are good and generous, but not everyone is that that way. 


And we can’t have mistreatment of people by those wielding a whip over them.


Yes, workers need to perform and conduct themselves professionally–that is their job.


But workers shouldn’t be taken advantage of with poor wages, little to no benefits, and miserable working conditions (including bullying, harassment, and hostile work environments). 


Remember that in life tables can get turned and the rich and powerful can become the poor and the weak.  


Therefore, pay and treat your workers as you would want to be paid and treated. 


No one is so big as to be untouchable by G-d. 


Money and power will not save anyone from illness, accidents, disasters, and misfortune.


The only thing that does save people is good deeds, kind words, compassion, faith, and prayer. 


Crumbs are for the birds, dignity and respect are for the people!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Folly of Bullies

So there is an issue with people not treating other people with respect and dignity in life and at work.


Today again, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Companies Wake Up To The Problem of Bullies at Work.”


This is leading some organizations to issue “Codes of Civility” for people to act like mensches and treat each other nicely. 


Adults are just so like children–with work bullies not all that different from schoolyard bullies.


Why do people need to elevate themselves on the backs of others? 


Isn’t it better to join hands and work together as brothers for the betterment of all.


Bullying anyone at work or at home doesn’t benefit anyone, including the bully!


I read today in Psalms 37: 35-36:

“I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; I sought him, but he could not be found

[But] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.”

How can people forget that the true “big boss” is G-d Almighty in Heaven.


And He judges us for a good or not so good end. 


We are all just flesh and blood and we all answer to the One That Was, Is, and Will Always Be!


Isn’t it obvious that we’re here to learn to act with lovingkindness to one another.


All are imperfect, but treating each other well is how we get closer to G-dly perfection. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Treating The Homeless With Dignity

I love this organization, Think Dignity.


They do hands-on advocacy and activism to help the homeless. 


From providing them storage lockers, bathrooms, showers, haircuts/shaves, clothing boutique, hygiene products (e.g. tampons etc.), drinking water, legal services, and more.

While others looks away, they jump in to actually do something real.

They actually bring mobile showers to them!

The video show on the left, one person living a regular life with a home, job, and everything they need, and on the right, another person down on their luck, homeless and needy.

Both are G-d’s creatures–one just needs a fresh start!

At the end of the video, it says:

Don’t Look Away.
Think Love.
Think Hope.
Think Strength.
Think Worth.
Think Dignity. 

I hope you are truly moved in the same way that I am by this organization and their beautiful mission and meaningful outreach activities. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Management Is A Privilege

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So some people have this notion about management that is all wrong. 


– Management is not a right or entitlement.


– Management is a wonderful privilege!


The privilege comes with responsibility and is earned by knowing how to manage and treat your people right.


That means:


– Acting with integrity


– Treating people fairly, with dignity, and respect


– Showing you value them


– Helping to develop them


– And of course, achieving results together!


I heard it said well like this:

“If you don’t treat people well 

you won’t be a manager for long.”

Again, it’s a privilege, not a right, to manage and lead others. 


Those who abuse their privilege and people–it’s like the cycle of life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)