Life = Growth

Thought this was an interesting photo at REI.


It says behind the cash registers:

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. – Eleanor Roosevelt


The  background has this serene river flow–along with some obvious whitewater. 


But in front of it, the cash register area is hopping crazy and messy.


It’s a contradiction–not unlike life itself which is full of it’s own ups and downs that challenge us routinely. 


Life is where we get the experience that shapes us and strengthens us, as long as it does not break us.  


Life = Growth


Why else would we be here?


G-d is the best teacher. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Take Responsibility

I thought it was an interesting sign in the office.

Responsibility: At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start to be successful.  As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.  – Erin Cummins


While I agree that we have to take responsibility for our lives and do the work hard to achieve success, at the same time, we obviously aren’t in control of everything. 


We have to play the hand we’re dealt in life and make the very best of it.  Whatever challenges that we have, they are there for us to learn from, grow from, and become better human beings from. 


Also, success means different things to different people–for some it’s money, power and honer; for others it’s physical fitness and dashing good looks; still some care more about travel, experiences, partying, and having a good time; and yet for others it’s about G-d, family, country, and good deeds.


Whatever we want to achieve requires dedication and hard work from our end, but also a generous dose of prayer and good fortune for “the stars to align.”  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Awesome Drumbeat of Life

drumdrum2

Just thought this was such an awesome drum. 


On the top of the drum was a painting of a drummer. 


And on the side was a picture of a beautiful lady dancing. 


It was so simple, yet so eloquently done.


There is something amazing when you can literally feel the art come so alive.


Almost like seeing and feeling the vision of the artist as if looking directly through his eyes.


Our experience her on earth is that of our soul moving and acting in a surreal physical world.


But in so interacting, we leave behind and impact this world with artifacts, and deeds to others, that last beyond ourselves and the moment. 


What a wonderful world G-d has placed us in to experience his wonders and to learn and grow.


I can feel the drumming of my heart and the dancing of my feet all along the way.


And even though I don’t comprehend everything I am experiencing or the decisions that I must make, in it contains not only deep intrigue, but also genuine surprise and challenge, and ultimately meaning, every step  along the marvelous path of G-d’s garden. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Spending It All Down

Expand

So Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.


The more time you have on your hands, the longer it takes you to do something. 


I find this to be so true…like on a day off, I don’t find myself typically getting any more done than on a regular work day. 


But what is true for time, also seems to apply to money. 


The more money you make, the more you need


And while you may get more or better quality for your extra bucks, you still don’t have a lot in net savings. 


Thus in line with Conspicuous Consumption, we spend more on luxury goods when we have more money and we spend more of our leisure time on doing the same basic set of activities when we have more time to spend.


Either way, more time and money often means more wasting of each, with people finding it extraordinarily difficult to save when they have (too) much of either. 


Perhaps, that why the big time hip hop artist, Kanye West recently tweeted about being $53 million in debt.


Or why Benjamin Franklin said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”


Your personal decision is what you end up spending your extra time and money on. 


The only real difference with time and money is that money you can put in the bank, but time passes whether you are busy or not.


Perhaps the best investment for both is to spend on education, experiences, on loved ones, and on helping others. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Parg)

Oculus Rift Has My Attention

Oculus Rift

This picture is an older version of Oculus Rift–larger, heavier, more clunky than the streamlined version coming out this April for $599.


Zuckerberg’s Facebook announced the purchase of Oculus virtual reality (VR) in March 2014.


I can’t think of another piece of consumer technology that I want to try out more than this. 


Initially for immersive 3-D experiences in all sorts of entertainment, including gaming, movies, television, and more. 


But soon to follow are use cases for virtual meetings, classrooms, doctor’s appointments, and anything requiring our interaction and communication. 


Hush-hush is the more intimate use for things like virtual sex. 


Also, there are opportunities for augmented reality where physical reality is supplemented with computer sensory input making your real-experience that much richer and informed.


With the Oculus Rift, I imagine myself immersed on a safari in Africa, flying into the reaches of space, relaxing at the most beautiful beaches, praying at the Western Wall, fighting my way through first person shooter and action adventures, and reliving biblical and other major historical events.


I don’t see VR for myself as an escape from reality, so much as being able to experience many more of life’s realities and possibilities out there. 


My only fear is that as VR gets better and better, it becomes easier and easier to fall away from our challenges in the real world, and just live inside a mask with a controlled environment where our virtual choices and experiences seem all too convenient and real. 😉 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Weston High School Library)

If Terror Fits

If The Shoe Fits.jpeg

There is the old saying that “If the shoe fits, wear it” or as this holiday shopping sign says, “Buy it!


I know everyone has their personal filters through which they see the world–many of these come from family, friends, community, teachers, religion, personal experiences, or even innate personality. 


One thing that I think many people are struggling with these days with politics is what possible filters are guiding many concerning policies of our country resulting in:


– The tepid response to terror attacks on this country as well as in Paris, London, and Jerusalem. 

– The clamping down on free speech in the wake of terror.

– The lax immigration checks on refugees.

– The dangerous spread of ISIS after the withdrawal from Iraq.

– The disappearing red line in Syria.

– The emboldening Iranian nuke deal.

– The bias perceived against friend and ally, Israel.

– The unbriddled Russian resurgence

– The lumbering pivot to address Chinese militarization.


We are living in chaotic world times, and we need strong hands on the rudder to safeguard the people and future of the country–for that we need to understand where politics and politicians are coming from that may be leading to either sound or compromised decisions and the resulting return and risk to the fate of us all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Skip The Religious Brainwashing

Brainwash

So my wife and I took this picture yesterday of this Spongebob outside a matress store, but which you frequently find at places like a car wash.  


It gets some attention when your driving by. 


This cartoon fellow reminded me of something I heard in a movie trailer recently.


It was about people of faith, but rather than relying on being genuinely thoughtful about their beliefs, instead they adhere to a form of brainwashing, where the people in the community are kept in the fold by closing out any and all outside influences. 


When one of the ladies in the community was asked about this, she replied “You know what someone told me about brainwashing? What’s wrong with a clean brain!”


While I am a huge proponent of devotion and service to G-d, I think that relying on intentionally keeping people sheltered is not the path to G-d. 


Especially for the Jewish people, who are known as the “People of the Book” for their intense learning of the Torah, intellectual pursuit and challenge is a source of true faith.


Of course, there are bad influences in society–addictive drugs, alcohol dependence, indiscriminate sex, violent and deviant people, and more–and we want to keep our families away from these things and safe.  


Interestingly, when someone is free from drugs and alcohol, they often say that they have been “clean” for so many months or years. 


If that is what a “clean brain” is–then that is a positive thing. 


But if a clean brain is truly cutting people off from education and legitimate worldly pursuits just to force them to follow and keep them in state of brainwashing, then that level of a geder (i.e. gate or limitation) is destructive to the person and community. 


Recently, a 30-year woman, Faigy Meyer, “who broke free from the iron-tight grip of her ultra-conservative Hassidic community” and had been shunned by her family, leapt from a rooftop to her death.


The term iron-grip used in the article sounds like a medieval torture device used to force or keep people at bay, and if that is what the “religious” community is doing so-to-say to limit free choice of their members, then that is not honest belief and practice. 


For myself personally, I lived for some years in a highly religious community that despite having many wonderful people and families was for the most part not very accepting of anyone who believed or practiced not exactly like them–there was no room for that. 


One time, the legacy Rabbi on the pulpit (not the current one who is an extremely fine person that I greatly respect) even warned the members to beware of people in their midst who were not true worshippers (and could be a harmful influence). 


In a closed community thinking, one can feel quite alienated and a huge void of spirituality. 


Thank G-d, in our community with the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue, we have found not only a beautiful love of Hashem, but that mixed with acceptance for everyone to come and participate.


Now we actually love to go to synagogue and look forward to it. It has become a central part of our lives (similar in our own way to how it had been for my beloved father). 


Take away the iron-tight grip, the forcing, the brainwashing and fear of the regular outside world, and you have people from many walks of life, intellectual pursuits and experiences come together to seek and worship G-d with a pure and open heart. 


In a way, it is similar to technology: if you have a closed system (not connected to the Internet and the outside), you have a safe tool, but it is very limited as a standalone. Alternatively, hook the computer up to the Internet and while you take some risks browsing the limits of the virtual world, you come away with so much more you can do and richness in the experience. 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle and Andy Blumenthal)