Going Up To The Clouds

It’s been a week since Zach Sobiech, age 18, died from a rare bone cancer, called Osteosarcoma.

Zach was diagnosed at just the tender age of 14 and by 17 he was given less than a year to live.

During his last year on Earth, he wrote this beautiful song, Clouds.

The lyrics are amazing:

“And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear

It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now
If only I had a little bit more time
It only I had a little bit more time with you.”

Anticipating his death, Zach imagines, as a soul, flying up in the clouds–where the “view is a little nicer.”

And he knows, time is short–and “it won’t be long now”–and although he’ll be able to see his family, friends, and loved ones from the clouds, he wishes he “had a little bit more time” with them on Earth.

Death is hard at any age, but it is especially tragic when it is a child or someone who hasn’t been able to fully live–and experience so many things or make all their contributions.

But at any age, the loss of a good person, a kind person, a loving person–is a loss for all of us, left behind.

Zach, some day we’ll see you in the clouds with the other good people–it should be at the right time, merciful, and when our job here is done.

It is okay to love life and the special people around us and to miss them terribly when we go, but we all go to the same place…to be with G-d, and each other, in Heaven.

In the after life, we can fly higher, with a nicer view, and reflect on how we did with the precious gifts and time given to us–whether long or short–before being called spiritually home again to our perfect maker. 😉

Savor The Moment

This is an awesome slow motion video from Gizmodo.


It is taken with a Phantom Flex4k camera at 1000 frames per second and high resolution 4096 x 2160.


This camera can capture “explosions, crashes, and other split-second events” in amazing detail and costs over $100,000, but in a sense it is a small price to pay for what the value of what you can get from it. 


When I watched this video of the firefighters going into action, I felt as if I was really there experiencing the true heat of the fire, the thick smell of the smoke, the fear of what lay in the dark and burning building, and the human determination for everyone working together to put it out and save lives. 


This made me think about how in rushing around all the time to do everything that others expect of us and that we expect of ourselves that we often aren’t fully in touch with the moment. 


It’s more like we are just trying to get through it while everything is passing us by, and we are in a disconnected fugue state.


I imagine that at the end of life, we look back at the many moments that we don’t fully remember, experienced in just a cold and hurried manner, and that we never got to really feel or savor


If only we had been in the moment, maybe we would have listened to others better, been more empathetic, less judging and critical, and said and done the right things more often. 


Being in the moment would enable us to more fully experience it, remember it, learn from it, grow with it, be together in it–and really be alive (and not a bunch of Walking Dead zombies half the time)!


This video is an eye-opener and wake up call to slow down, experience, and feel life, rather than have it just pass us so quickly and shallowly by. 😉

 

Helicopter Over Miami Beach

We went on a awesome excursion today…a helicopter ride over Miami Beach.

We got picked up and taken to the air strip in Pembroke Pines.

Then, in a $450,000 helicopter traveling at 115 miles per hour, we got the ride of our lives.

With the sky clear blue, the sun shining bright, and the air cool and refreshing–what a great experience!

I put this in my memory bucket along with the jet skiing we did last year.

I thank G-d for the amazing opportunities and to experience this with my family.

Probably the funniest thing was when our pilot Jason asked “do you want to have a nice ride or a crazy time?”

I didn’t know we had to choose…especially after signing the waiver. 😉

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Vizualize Yourself

Vizualize_me_-_andy

I tried out this new visual resume online called Vizualize Me.

 

It is currently in beta, but it connects up with LinkedIn and pulls your profile, work experience, education, skills, and recommendations right from there.

 

You can edit the data in Vizualize Me and even name you URL–I named mine Andy Blumenthal.

 

There are also multiple themes for showing your information–although, I liked the default one the best.

 

And you can edit colors, fonts, and backgrounds, but I didn’t go that far with it today.

 

The only problem with the program that I had with it was when I tried to refresh the visual resume after making some updates to LinkedIn, it got locked up.

 

While the program is still a little kludgy, I like the infographics used for this visual resume and I think it quickly and easily captures a person’s professional and educational background.

 

Hope you like it too!

>When Butterflies Sting

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Butterfly

Stage freight (aka “performance anxiety”) is one the most common phobias.

While often attributed to children, this is really a fear that everyone experiences–to a greater or lessor extent.

Organizations like Toastmasters help people overcome their fear of public speaking by having them practice regularly in front of the group.

Yet even the most experienced speakers and performers still get that knot in their stomach before a really big performance.

We are all human, and when we go out there and open ourselves up to others, we are vulnerable to ridicule and shame and being seen as shysters and charlatans.

So it really takes great courage to go out there and “do your thing” in front of the world–for better or worse.

As the child poet, Rebecca says, “when I go on stage, it’s me, myself, and I.

What a wonderful perspective in being yourself and doing your best.

Here’s what she has to say–in a poem called Butterflies.

(Credit Picture: scienceray.com)

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Butterflies

By Rebecca

Butterflies, that’s what I feel before the poetry slam.

It’s 2 minutes before I read my poem.

I feel them tickling around my stomach making me want to puke.


My mom always tells me just imagine the audience in their underwear but it makes me feel even worse.

I told myself when I came up here you’ll do fine but, I know I’ll just stumble on a word.

Buzzing noises start in my ear.

I feel like I want to just go up on the stage and conquer my fear.

I shouldn’t care what people say because it’s my thoughts that matters.

When I go onstage it’s me, myself, and I.

1 minute till showtime.


Finally I hear my name.

I walk up to the stage unsteadily and all the lights are on me.

Everyone’s eyes beam towards me, almost as if they are watching a movie and I’m the show.

I read my poem.

I’m shaking.

I’m sweating like a dog running in the heat of summer.


I stumble upon a few words, but I survive it.

I am almost done. Just be done, already.

I read the last sentence but the time when I’m reading that sentence feels the longest.

My life is not going to end.

I’m done and I feel accomplished.

>Internet, Anything But Shallow

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Over time, people have transitioned the way they predominantly get their information and learn, as follows:

1) Experiential—people used to learn mostly by doing—through their experiences, although these were usually limited in both time and space.

2) Reading—With the printing press, doing was supplanted by reading and information came from around the world and passed over from generation to generation.

3) Television—Active reading was upended by passive watching television, where the printed word “came alive” in images and sounds streaming right into our living rooms.

4) Virtuality—And now TV is being surpassed by the interactivity of the Internet, where people have immediate access to exabytes of on-demand information covering the spectrum of human thought and existence.

The question is how does the way we learn ultimately affect what we learn and how we think—in other words does sitting and reading for example teach us to think and understand the world differently than watching TV or surfing the Internet? Is one better than the other?

I remember hearing as a kid the adults quip about kids sitting in front of the TV like zombies! And parents these days, tell their kids to “get off of Facebook and get outside and play a little in the yard or go to the mall”—get out actually do something with somebody “real.”

An article in Wired Magazine, June 2010, called “Chaos Theory” by Nicholas Carr states “even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.”

Carr contents that the Internet is changing how we think and not necessarily for the better:

1) Information overload: The Internet is a wealth of information, but “when the load exceeds our mind’s ability to process and store it, we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections with other memories…our ability to learn suffers and our understanding remains weak.”

2) Constant interruptions: “The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes out attention only to scramble it,” though images, videos, hypertext, email, IM, tweets, RSS feeds, and advertisements.

3) “Suckers for Irrelevancy”: “The stream of new information plays to our natural tendency to overemphasize the immediate. We crave the new even when we know it’s trivial.”

4) “Intensive multitasking”: We routinely try to do (too) many things online at the same time, so that we are predominantly in skimming mode and infrequently go into any depth in any one area. In short, we sacrifice depth for breadth, and thereby lose various degrees of our ability in “knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection.”

While I think that Carr makes some clever points about the dangers of Internet learning, I believe that the advantages of the Internet far outweigh the costs.

The Internet provides an unparalleled access to information and communication. It gives people the ability to get more information, from more sources, in more ways, than they would’ve in any of the other ways of learning. We are able to browse and search—skim or dig deep—as needed, anytime, anywhere.

With the Internet, we have access to information that exceeds the experiences of countless lifetimes, our world’s largest libraries—and TV isn’t even a real competitor.

At the end of the day, the Internet is a productivity multiplier like no other in history. Despite what may be considered information overload, too many online interruptions, and our inclinations to multitasking galore and even what some consider irrelevant; the Internet is an unbelievable source of information, social networking, entertainment, and online commerce.

While I believe that there is no substitute for experience, a balance of learning media—from actually doing and reading to watching and interacting online—make for an integrated and holistic learning experience. The result is learning that is diversified, interesting, and provides the greatest opportunity for everyone to learn in the way that suits him or her best.

Moreover, contrary to the Internet making us shallower thinkers as Carr contends, I think that we are actually smarter and better thinkers because of it. As a result of the Internet, we are able to get past the b.s. faster and find what we are looking for and what is actually useful to us. While pure linear reading and thinking is important and has a place, the ability online of the semantic web to locate any information and identify trends, patterns, relationships, and visualize these provides an added dimension that is anything but shallow.