Good People And Bad

So what is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn?


There are really good and holy people out there, but there are also truly bad and evil ones. 


It’s not such a difficult concept, except if you just don’t think that way. 


I think some of us just want to believe that at the heart of it all, people are fundamentally good–or at the very least they struggle in order to fight off the evil impulse.


They are created by G-d.


They have parents and families.


They have challenges and disappointments. 


They have a good soul. 


Or do they?


Perhaps like everything in life–G-d created everything and it’s opposite.


– There is life and death.


– There is light and dark. 


– There is cold and hot.


– There is land and water. 


– There is male and female. 

– There is pleasure and pain.


– There is work and rest. 


– There is holy and profane.


Everything has it’s counterpart.


– In this respect then, there are good people and there are bad.


Not that there aren’t people who are both–they do some good things and some bad.


Just like with everything, you can have greys or mixtures–some of this AND some of that. 


But still, G-d created everything and its opposite.


– Again, there is heaven and hell. 


And yes, there are some people that are perhaps truly good and others that are very bad.


The really good ones–they are holy, they give, they love, they inspire. 


The really bad ones–they are vicious devil wolves. 


That doesn’t mean anyone is completely perfect or imperfect, but as with everything, there are people as there are inanimate objects that function at the extremes. 


Most of us don’t live in the extreme, yet we do see those that we know are examples of each:


We recognize the best and these are people with a heart of gold and a soul that shines light, love, and gives to others.


Similarly, the worst ones are with a heart that is selfish and greedy and a soul that is dark, hateful. and violent.


We don’t like to think of the extremes.


They either are too perfect or too frighteningly evil, but yet they do exist and we know it just as we know life and death, light and dark, cold and hot, land and water, male and female, pleasure and pain, work and rest, holy and profane, and even the destinations of heaven and hell. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Body Morphic Disorder

So often you hear about people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). 


This is a psychiatric disorder where people are obsessed with their real or perceived body flaws. 


Often their notions of a physical flaw is widely exaggerated like someone who has a barely noticeable mole, but they see it as a major blotch on their skin that everyone must be staring at and repulsed by.  


People with this disorder may often stand in front of the mirror starring at themselves obsessing over these minor imperfections. 


But there is something major that is missing here. 


And it is the polar opposite of BDD.


I would call it the Body Morphic Disorder (BMD). 


My notion of BMD is where people are similarly obsessed with their bodies, but rather than real or perceived flaws, they are focused on real or perceived notions of their body’s beauty and  perfection!


Instead of looking in the mirror and perceiving problems and feeling self-loathsome, these people are excessively vain and see themselves as a (near) perfect specimen of a human being. 


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”


Or the equivalent of ain’t I just grand!


It’s funny-weird that we perceive criticism and self-contempt (BDD) as a psychiatric disorder, but we don’t generally see narcissistic self-worship as a personality disorder!


Yet any extreme is a bad thing. 


Excessive loving or hating of your physical self–is the kiss of death when it comes to seeing things the way they really are and being a genuine human being. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Off The Charts

Normal.jpeg

We all know people that seem to be conflict prone–they seem to have a tendency to get into it with others at work, socially, in the family, or wherever. 


Is it that they are abnormal or bad people?


Certainly many, if not most people, want to stand out in some fashion or form.


As the shirt says:

“Being normal is boring.”

We all want to be a little different or special.


If we’re the same as the other 7.5 billion people out there, it’s hard to feel that our lives are truly meaningful. 


Yet, being different or abnormal can be a good thing or a bad thing. 


Usually, you can be distinct in your combination of attributes within 1-3 standard deviations around the mean (average) and still be in the range of normal. 


1, 2, and 3 standard deviations equate to 68%, 95%, and 99.7% of the values in a normal bell shaped curve. 


So you can be different and still be considered normal.


The problem usually arises when you are off the charts deviant–and then you become “abnormal.” 


Is abnormal a bad thing?


Not necessarily, but generally extremes of anything can tend to become problems. 


For example, you can fall somewhere in between very generous and very thrifty, but when you go to the extremes of giving it all away or being a miser then that’s usually considered problematic. 


Similarly, you can be curious or indifferent and either of those may be okay, but at the extremes, if you become intrusive or apathetic then that’s a problem. 


So most of the people we deal with are normal in most senses of the word, although they may have traits that take them to the extreme and which can cause conflict or harm. 


Others may have many traits that are extreme and they have severe difficulty functioning at all with other people–they are seriously off the charts. 


Perhaps, that’s where healthcare professionals come in to assist with things like psychotherapy and behavioral modification (or even medications) to help people.


Being completely average is boring, but being off the charts can be dangerous to others who try to be themselves yet also constructively and humanely go along and get along. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Global Chaos But G-d Is On Watch

We are continuing to see the number 613 (a critical number representing G-d’s commandments to us in the Torah).


I wrote about this in my post last month (Nov 26).


Yesterday, I randomly looked up at this guy cleaning in front of one of the GW University buildings and there it is…613. 


On Sunday, we stopped for something to eat (see receipt total with the scrambled 613 in it)…$16.38.


The principle of divine intervention in everything we do in our lives is a paramount religious belief, and in Judaism, we learn that not a leaf falls from the tree without it coming from G-d. 


The times we are living in is certainly not normal with terror and war on nearly every horizon (ISIS, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China to name just a few around the globe), a growing threat from WMD, the economy in shambles, government debt exploding, energy, mining, and other commodities in free-fall, and global warming continuing to heat things up


Further, with immense conflict and political dysfunction in how to deal with these challenges, and amazingly little to no resolve to seemingly even address many of them at all, the views and positions are moving toward extremes and the people’s emotions seem to range from generalized frustration to genuine fury.


The story isn’t over on all these fronts for America or the rest of the world, but I believe even if leadership’s heart is hardened and progress seems almost completely stymied in the face of emerging global chaos, G-d is watching and guiding things very closely at this historic time. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Iced Pool BUT Hot Tub

Hot Tub
So I learned this vacation that some people really seem to enjoy temperature extremes.



These folks on the left are in the outdoor steaming hot tub.



However, see the pool next to them on the right–it’s nearly completely frozen over (and it would be except for a fireplace at the other end of the pool deck)!



The temperature outside a frosty 19 degrees fahrenheit.



Yes, for those who know me…I keep the air conditioner on in the Winter (true).



But even I didn’t bare it all in Santa Fe in December–at least not yet! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Free Behind Bars

Free Behind Bars

Fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal about going to mock prison to get away from the stresses of life.

Ok, so you know your working too hard, when your only escape is to lock yourself up and throw away the key for a few days.

In South Korea, where they work 18% more than on average (2090 hours per year vs. 1765)–their is a great need to get away from it all.

There where life satisfaction rates a 4.3 out of 10, which is 34% lower than the average (of 6.6), putting yourself in prison is a quality of life thing.

A two-night stay in the makeshift prison for extreme relaxation costs $146–and there you can meditate to your hearts delight.

You can also attend “spiritual classes” and participate in “healing plays.”

Normally smartphones wouldn’t be allowed, but people freak out without them, so they get to check them once a day while on the inside.

Being locked behind bars is a punishment in most places, but here its time to think, reflect, and get back to yourself–most of all you don’t have to go to work on those days.

It’s funny, but one of the hardest things is generally for people just to stop and think–really stop and think–it’s much easier to drown ourselves in endless activity and never have to deal with what’s going on inside.

When we stop to let our thoughts catch up, to deal with our anxieties and fears, to confront ourselves and all the mistakes we make, and to let ourselves feel what can be an tidal wave of pent up feelings–that is a freedom that few can bear to make. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

Six Internet Creepoids To Beware Of

There are a lot of basket cases out there–both in the physical world and in the virtual one.

The New York Times today has an article by Henry Alford about people who act or are mainly just perceived as creepy online.

He gives examples of people who take out their smartphones (with cameras) in the locker room, who show their online photos and whoops there’s an indecent doozie, who mistakenly send a critical email to the wrong person or distribution list, who say the wrong thing online because of autocorrect or autofill, and who act the detective looking up too much information about others.

At the end, Alford calls for “more tolerance toward the gaffe-makers.”

And while we should be good people and forgive genuine mistakes, some things are not accidents and deserve the seal of “ick!”

Here’s the list of 6 Internet Creepoids to seriously beware of:

1) Overly Cyber Friendly or Familiar: People who chat, text, email, or comment in a way that portrays an inappropriate knowing or intimacy with others.

2) Cyber Stalkers: Those who unsolicitedly and unwanted or obsessively follow, friend, monitor, or harass others on the Internet.

3) Internet Trolls: Individuals who giddily sow discord with argumentative, inflammatory or extraneous messages online narcissistically or just to be jerks.

4) Cyber Exhibitionists or Voyeurs: People who inappropriately or compulsively expose themselves or watch others naked or engaged in sexual activity online.

5) Cyber Impersonators or Identity Thieves: Those who falsify their identities by exaggerating or masking their true selves, pretend to be someone else, or otherwise steal someone’s online identity.

6) Cyber Freaks: Individuals who behave online in extreme unusual, unexpected, and frightening ways.

So while some things are innocent or accidentally creepy from otherwise nice and decent people, other actions are genuinely such from the real online creepoids. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)