The Anxiety Filter

What a brilliant picture of “Anxiety” by a child in Montgomery County, Maryland. 


Notice the great big letters–and all in caps–for what ANXIETY feels like. 


Anxiety is black–it’s when we are in a dark foreboding place and we can’t find our way out–it holds us back from doing what we need and like to do. 


Anxiety feels so all-enveloping and ginormous–it dwarfs us in the “I”–and we feel so small and are paralyzed, incapable of freeing ourselves from it. 


Anxiety is a cognitive and emotional bias where we see things in black and white–everything is to the extreme–and there are no greys; we tend to talk in all or nothing and our actions may mimic our extreme feelings. 


Around the anxiety, we are bordering in blood red–we are in a dangerous place–where our feelings of fear, inadequacy, and being incapable of overcoming it can lead us to do something desperate and final. 


When we are drowning in anxiety, it is like a lens or filter that clouds our vision and thinking, so we can make bad decisions, not make any decisions, or just procrastinate in order to avoid the issue and thing we are afraid of. 


We have to fight off the octopus grip of anxiety.


We have to find our courage within and from G-d.


We have to conquer our demons so we can meet our destiny head-on. 


We have a mission to fulfill in our life, and we can’t let anything get in the way. 


Fate is waiting for us to make our important contribution, so then we can be gathered to our fathers and rest in final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Rich, Famous, and Suicide

So I can’t believe that Kate Spade (55) committed suicide — Hanging. 


What an amazing fashion designer–so much to live for!


Famous for her gorgeous handbags (that used to be the business my dad was in too). 


Her net worth was $150,000,000!


Why does someone so beautiful, successful, rich, and famous take their life???


Ultimately, none of these things make happy or meaning in life!


Still, it is incredibly hard to understand seemingly having so much and throwing your life away–unless of course, we consider terrible things like severe depression and other horrible illnesses that can break anyone. 


Yet, there seem to be so many of these hugely successful people that take or lose their lives so young and with still so much to give the world:


Alan Turing (41) — Cyanide


Alexander McQueen (40) – Hanging 


Amy Winehouse (27) — Alcohol 


Chris Benoit (40) — Broken Neck


Christine Chubbuck (29) — Shooting


Dana Plato (34) – Overdose


Ernest Hemingway (61) — Shooting


Jerzy Kosinski (57) — Overdose


Kurt Cobain (27) — Shooting


L’Wren Scott (49) — Hanging


Lucy Gordon (28) — Hanging


Marilyn Monroe (36) — Overdose

Michael Jackson (50) — Overdose


Mike Alfonso (42) – Hanging


Prince (57) — Overdose


Robbin Williams (63) –Hanging


Sawyer Sweeten (19) — Shooting

Sylvia Plath (30) – Gas Oven 


Vincent Van Gogh (37) — Shooting


Virginia Woolf (59) – Drowning 


Whitney Houston (48) — Drowning 

G-d should have mercy and help to take away the pain and suffering from people so that they can live and not die prematurely anymore. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

There’s No Shield Against Loneliness

Lonelieness.jpeg

Loneliness is empty, hollow, a panicky void, and depression. 


It’s like being in the ocean and feeling so small in its massive depths…almost like drowning. 


In the end, you are alone in the universe. 


No one can truly feel your pain or joy or experience all of you.


You’re a world unto yourself. 


You connect and form relationships with others–there is learning and growth and love and caring in that. 


Talking and reaching out and being part of someone and something washes away parts of those scary feelings and creates a greater purpose of being and meaning. 


But there is also silence and solitude and the darkness of the night. 


And in that there is just the faith in G-d Almighty. 


He alone is what comforts us as we stare into the vastness out there as well as the evil and loss that we come face-to-face with and combat in life. 


The soldier girds his sword for battle and carries a shield to protect himself.


But there is no shield for the loneliness we experience in life and ultimately in death itself. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Washington Like The Powerful Great Falls

Great Falls

We went to Great Falls on the Virginia side yesterday. 


It started to rain a little as we got off the highway, and so we started to turn back disappointed. 


But before we got back on the highway, the rain stopped and we continued our “Sunday Funday” trip. 


With 3 beautiful overlooks of the Potomac River–even on a cloudy, chilly Fall day–it was marvelous. 


Because of the changing weather, it wasn’t too crowded and we were able to get right up on the overlooks for some spectacular views and photos. 


At one point a (rescue?) helicopter suddenly pulled up from nowhere beneath the cliffs and was like right there up close in our faces, but we had already started to pull back to the trail and I missed a cool photo that I would’ve like to capture. 


The current of the water is really strong at Great Falls and an average of 7 people die a year there. 


Also, sometimes there is such enormous flooding that the water crests above the high overlooks–75 feet up!–and overflows onto the park’s grounds. 


We watched some climbers scampering along down on the rocks by the water (on the left) as they got close, but not too close to the water’s edge. 


As I think about it, living in Washington, D.C., the capital and superpower political hotbed of the world, the symbolism of being on the edge is not lost. 


Some people wade too far and get overcome by the rising water and powerful currents, and others may be too apathetic or fearful to even get close enough to dip their toe in the muddle. 


Even for those that sincerely care and want to try to make a difference in the direction and future of where we are going–technologically and success-wise–it’s water, water everywhere.


Like Great Falls, DC runs with a powerful current–a lot of it simply running nowhere, much is hidden beneath the surface, but overall with enough force to shape our country’s destiny for better or for worse. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sears Couldn’t Sell An Appliance Let Alone A Rolex

Sears Couldn't Sell An Appliance Let Alone A Rolex

So I was amazed at the depths to which Sears will go to try to save their horrible brand.

The Wall Street Journal (21 July 2013) described how Sears online has started a marketplace where they are now hosting the selling of high-end goods at their low-end department store site.

Sears which normally sells kitchen appliances, tools, and crappy clothing is now trying to market $33,000 Rolex watches and $4,400 Chanel handbags.

Good luck to that after their failed 2005 merger of Sears and Kmart–as if combining two lousy companies make one good one.

Since 2005, the company revenue has steadily declined about 25% from $53 billion to $39.9 billion and they lost $4 billion in 2011-2012. Yeah, that today’s Sears!

My own horrible experience with Sears:

I went online to order a range, and Sears botched the order over and over again and kept me holding endlessly throughout the miserable process and at each stage asking for my feedback and apparently doing nothing with it.

Problem #1: It started out pretty simply–I asked for some guidance comparing a couple of models, chose one, and they entered my order. However, when I looked over the order, they had entered the incorrect delivery date–when I wasn’t available. So I contacted Sears back to correct the mistake, but they couldn’t get their system to reflect the correct date–it would only show the original incorrect date–and this is a multi-billion dollar company? But I shut an eye when a supervisor finally assures me that it will arrive on the correct date.

Problem #2: The next day or so, I get a call from a Sears customer service representative who asks me whether I am the Andy located in XYZ (some G-d forsaken location)–ah, no! Well, they explain that’s where they have my order shipping to. They can’t explain how that happened, but promise Sears will fix it.

Problem #3: This time, I get a call from the Sear’s installation company. They are demanding that they will not come out to do the install unless I pay them a required inspection fee. But I explain that my order from Sear expressly states that shipping and installation are FREE. Sorry, they tell me free is not free, and if I have a problem, here’s a number to their national whatever line.

Three strikes, Sears is out–I contact them to review what had happened and to cancel this order. They refuse to cancel it–again, I think to myself this is a multi-billion dollar company? Over and over again this goes on, until finally they agree to cancel the order and refund my money.

All this nonsense literally wasted hours of my time.

Sears is no longer that brilliant mail order catalog of the early 20th century; now they are a dumpster diving junk company trying to sell brand stuff, but they are laggards to the brilliant Amazon and eBay retailers–and soon Sears will be out of business headed to the big retail trash bin of history.

The Rolex watches and Chanel bags are just another Sears circus sideshow. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Escaping From A Submerged Vehicle Gets Easier

Of all things, here’s an innovation to the seat belt. 

In the movies, we’ve all seen cars plunging into the water and submerging with people trapped inside. 

Wired Magazine (11 December 2012) reported on a new escape belt that helps people get out of the vehicles and to safety. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administation, almost 400 people die a year from car accidents that result in accidental drowning. 

Now Dutch company, Fijen TMLS has developed a seat-belt that releases when water goes in the interior and dissolves a salt pill in the latch. 

The mechanism costs as little as $40 and according to the company’s website can “be assembled on all seatbelt releasers in just a few simple steps.”

From the pictures of the assembly instructions, I am not sure it is quite so easy. 

Also, it is unclear how long the device is good for, since on one hand, their website states that the “Escape Belt lasts 6 months” and on other hand that “the cartridge will need to replaced after 2 years.”

In any case, I think the idea is a good one as long as the belt remains secure when not submerged and will not release accidentally with any simple spill or splash. 😉

Nokia and Microsoft, Desperate Bedfellows

Acquire

A couple of hours ago, Nokia’s debt was downgraded by Moody’s to Junk!

Nokia was once the world largest vendor for mobile phones with almost 130,000 employees, but since the iPhone and Android, they have since fallen on hard times–who would’ve thought?

Just 16 months ago, in February 2011, Nokia announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to try and stem their losses by adopting Windows Mobile, but this was like a drowning victim grabbing on to whoever is nearby to try and save themselves but only ends up in a double drowning.

No, Microsoft is not drowning exactly, but their stock has been more or less flat from a decade ago and one of the worst large-tech stock performers for the last ten years!

Will the acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion this week change this trend–I doubt it.

Between Yammer for social networking and the acquisition of Skype for video-calling last year (May 2011) for yet another $8.5 billion, Microsoft is trying to fill some of it’s big holes in its technology portfolio, just like Nokia was trying to fill it’s gaping hole in mobile operating systems by partnering with Microsoft.

Unfortunately both Microsoft and Nokia have essentially missed the boat on the mobile revolution and the sentiment is flat to negative on their long-term prospects.

So the shidduch (match) of Nokia and Microsoft seems like just another case of misery loves company.

Desperation makes for lonely bedfellows, and thus the announcement this week by Nokia that they are going to layoff 10,000 and close 3 plants by end of 2013 was really no surprise.

Aside from the short-term stock pop from the news of the acquisition, what do you think is going to be in the cards for Microsoft if they don’t get their own innovative juices back in flow?

Can you just acquire innovation or at some point do you need to be that innovative company yourself once again?

Rhetorical question.

Hopefully for Microsoft they can get their mojo back on–meaning rediscover their own innovative talents from within and not just try to acquire from without.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Kidmissile)
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