Birthday Of Trees

Today is the holiday of Tu Bishvat.


That is the Birthday for (fruit) Trees!


It’s when Jewish people celebrate and plant trees around the world and especially in the Holy Land. 


Last night, we celebrated with Chabad Israeli Center of Rockville where they had not only of the “7 Fruits” of Israel (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates), but they also had some very nice wine and cheese, delicious bourekas, and pastries. 


We learned about the biblical meaning of the “7 Species of Fruits” and the flourishing of the land of Israel, celebrated with music and song, and played a trivia game with our smartphones using a cool new gaming and learning application, called Kahoot


A special thank you to Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Beitsh and to Samy Ymar for sponsoring the event.


Overall, a beautiful evening to meet new people and celebrate a very happy birthday to the beautiful trees and mother nature that G-d has so benevolently bestowed on us. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

| Go With A Winning Strategy |

Chess

So there was an office discussion the other day about something having a “checkered past.”


And one of my colleagues said wisely about it, “I rather play chess!”


I though it was a smart retort, since chess is a game of strategy versus checkers, which is more a game of luck. 


Checkers is by far the more one-dimensional game with each piece moving or jumping in a similar fashion, while in chess, you deploy specific types of pieces (king, queen, rook, bishop, night, or pawn) for different manuevers. 


In life, when we deal with things that are especially challenging, double-edged, tricky, or plain dangerous, we need to handle it with a well-thought-out game plan and a solid strategy.


Having a plan and maintaining agility in dealing with the “facts on the ground” as they unfold is by far the better problem-solving approach than just trying to jump over the other guys pieces or block his next move. 


Chess in the only way to get to checkmate 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Florls Looijesteijn)

Yes, Awkward

Awkward
This is a funny (-sad) one for the day.



This book was a New York Times Bestseller!



There is a book, a Kindle edition, a board game, a calendar, and a website to upload your photos.



On Amazon, there are also versions with awkward family holiday and family with pet photos. 



I can’t believe this is for real either. 



Awkward, indeed. 😉

A Dangerous Game of WMD

A Dangerous Game of WMD

According to ArmsControl.org–in 1994, we reached a historic “agreed framework” with North Korea to “freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program.”

In return, the U.S. would phase out economic sanctions, North Korea would be supplied with 500,000 tons of fuel oil annually, and South Korea would build two lightweight reactors for them.

Fast forward just a decade–By 2005, North Korea declares that it has indeed manufactured nuclear weapons, which are then on display for the world in a nuclear test in 2006.

Today in the Washington Post, we herald another historic deal, this one with Iran that “freezes key parts of their nuclear program.”

In return, Iran gets relief from economic sanctions.

Yet, even now as we celebrate this historic agreement, the Iranian President is not dismantling but rather demanding the right to keep their atomic program.

Moreover, just last week, according to USA Today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog” amid chants of “Death to America!”

Online, The Diplomat confidently says this time is different, “Iran is not North Korea,” because “Iran is cosmopolitan” and “prides itself on international engagement.”

Yet, according to PBS, The Islamic Republic of Iran is far from both of these with a “Supreme Leader who exerts ideological and political control over a system dominated by clerics who shadow every major function of the state.”

And Amnesty International writes that Iran has a history of “widening crackdown on dissent that has left journalists, students, political and rights activists, as well as clerics languishing in prisons.”

Lest we forget, that Iran is the country that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, threatened to annihilate Israel, denied the Holocaust, asserted that the U.S. itself was behind 9/11, and is the “most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.

Oh, how very cosmopolitan!

While we all would hope and pray for a sincere and lasting peace with Iran, this agreement seems to spell a deja vu world of scary WMD cat and mouse, all over again.

(Source Photo: here)

Some Game This Is

I remember as a kid, my grandfather lived down the block from us on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

He was old and not in the best of health with a heart condition, hearing aids, and more.

One day, he was coming home from the bank, and he went into the elevator in his building.

He was followed by a punk, who after the elevator door closed, proceeded to grab my grandfather and choke him until he was unconscious.

The thug took his wallet and left my grandfather on the floor of the elevator.

Now, today I saw on the news about the Knockout Attack Game–and some “game” this is.

The attacker runs up behind the person unbeknownst and with full force slams their fist against a person head, knocking them unconscious, and when successful, this is done with one punch!

In other cases, an entire gang will attack, punching and kicking a victim until they stop moving.

While I couldn’t locate the exact video that happened in a neighborhood in NY to a Jewish woman, this video of an attack on a Muslim girl in London about a year ago, approximates it very closely.

While some victims of these attacks end up with broken jaws, skulls, shattered teeth, internal injuries, bleeding and more, others are not so lucky and end up dead.

I never forgot what happened to my grandfather and the cowardly schmuck that attacked this old, helpless man–but at least, he apparently did it for the money.

In these knockout attacks, when they ask the attackers why they do it, the response is for the fun and laughs.

What a commentary of our society, when people brutally attack other people–not for money, revenge, self-defense, or principle–but simply to see others needlessly suffer and to take a form of intense joy in it.

Perhaps, there are certain crimes for which the L-rd above must look down and mete out his own version of justice, in a way that restores order to this world of hope and despair.

Most Novel Bingo

I fondly remember when I was a kid going occassionally with my mom to the local synagogue to help the elderly with their weekly bingo game. 

It was fun to see the old people getting together, having a good time, and competing for the prize, usually some token tchochkes.

As a little kid, of course, even though I wasn’t playing, I usually walked away with a big Hersey’s chocolate bar–and that itself was enough to make me want to come back again and again. 

A couple of weeks ago though, I come to find out, there are other exciting versions of the game out there…

The Wall Street Journal (22 October 2012) described quite a novel version of the game called either chicken-poop bingo or cow-chip bingo. 

Not to gross anyone out, it is what is sounds like. 

The winning numbers are drawn not by the turning the game cage and having a ball with the winning numbers on it fall down the chute, but rather by where the chicken or cow does it’s business. 

Some have barked about this being cruel to animals to use them in this way or that people manipulate the animals to go on certain squares by planting feed, or that when the dung drops on multiple squares, then the winner is the one with the greatest volume–enjoy measuring that! 

This version of the game wins butt-down for the most novel way to play bingo, but for me, I still would rather accompany my mom to help the old people like I did as a kid and walk away with that great big cholocate bar. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B.K. Dewey)

The Winning Move

Think_outside_the_box

My daughter sent me this amazing picture portraying how we can “think outside the box.”

How many of us would ever have envisioned this as a possible solution to this age-old children’s game?

Important lesson learned–it’s okay to think differently, be creative, even change the rules when you can get a better result.

Groupthink drives so much–toomuch–of what we do at work, politically, and more.

Often, we can do better when we question the status quo and give things a fresh look–without the colored lens on of how things should be, have always been, or need to be done.

With the huge challenges we face as a nation and globally, we need to open ourselves to new solutions to old and emerging problems.

Like a simple tick-tac-toe game, the winning move may simply be right outside the box. 😉

(Source Photo: LOL Pics)