Tiny Houses Old Style

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Recently, we visited the Underground Railroad Experience Trail in Maryland. 


It simulates the route and challenges that runaway slaves had to face in seeking their freedom. 


While I am certain that the suffering endured was in no way captured here, I thought it was still beneficial to have people sensitized and thinking about these horrible historical events around slavery.


Aside from the hiking trail, there were these amazing tiny houses from the 1800’s.


The wood cabins and stone houses were so cute, but also so inviting. 


If I had to live in a Tiny House, these looked sort of incredibly charming. 


HGTV tiny living spaces–like the one we saw last night that had only 200 feet and was really awkward–have nothing on these tiny gems. 


The matching tiny trees were also a very nice effect. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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DC Lights It Up – Just Physical or More

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Wanted to share these beautiful lights from around Washington, D.C. 


They are all sort of magnificent!


But even while I am marveling at them, my mind is tearing another way…


I am thinking, there is physical light, yet in so many ways the world seems dark. 


We have lots technological progress to be proud of, and yet there are big problems all over the horizon.


Nuclear and missile proliferation, and rising cyber threats.


– Rising global terrorism and potential for military conflicts


– Spiraling national debt and the trust funds for social entitlements running out


– Rising discrimination and associated hate crimes

– Family strains and the decline of marriage

– Challenges in confidence with organized religion 


World leadership at a crossroads. 


We need light–but not just the physical type. 


Transparency, enlightenment to solve big problems and a spiritual awakening to ensure good wins out over evil are all on order. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Absence, A Big Statement

Paris Rally
We all know from psychology 101 that what we pay attention to and give to is what is really important to us. 

 
Parenting is an example of this where we give our time and efforts to our children as our most important investment of self. 
 
This last week was the historical Paris Unity Rally attended by millions, including 40 world leaders, to denounce blind discrimination and hate and the associated terror and murder that marked the terrorist attacks in Paris.
 
The Paris attacks were a striking blow on free speech and resulted in the murder of many innocent citizens and law enforcement at Charlie Hebdo magazine and numerous Jews in a kosher grocery store–it was more than shocking to see our top leadership missing in action (MIA).
 
In the Wall Street Journal today, there are many words on this from “error” to “lost opportunity.”
 
Yet, despite acknowledging the blatant absence, what we are left with are an unfortunate series of excuses, such as the incredible statement that “No one in the White House brought such a request to the the President’s attention.”
 
As if someone needs to tell the leader of the free world that he needs to be participate in the Paris Unity Rally. Did the millions who attended or the other 40 world leaders need a reminder or a nudge?
 
Or here’s another one about not being able to attend because of “security concerns.”
 
Once again, did the heads of state for France, Germany, England, and Israel not have similar concerns that their protectors were able to adequately address. 
 
What about the  apology that he “regrets his decision not to send a top White House official,”–uh, what about going himself?
 
I remember immediately after the attack of 9/11, President George W. Bush, with bullhorn in hand, standing on the rubble of what was once the World Trade Center…there was no excuses as to a need for reminders from staffers, security or health concerns, or sending surrogates–the leader was there and doing his job to lead, period.  
 
How can we fight a war on terrorism, fanaticism, and blind hatred, when we won’t give it our time and attention–from the top down. 
 
As with a parent who is absent with his children, it speaks a thousand words about what is really important to that parent and the impact on the (symbolic) child.
 
“A cat’s in the cradle with a silver spoon little boy blue and the man in the moon when your coming home dad I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then dad, you know we’ll have a good time then.”
 
In the past, the administration has been incredibly supportive in fighting terror, anti-semitism, and standing up for human rights, and with genuine commitment of time and effort, can do so again. 
 
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Doug)
 
(All opinions my own).

Interned On The Aisle Of Man

Isle of Man

Recommendation

I found this amazing letter to my dad from 1940. 



He was interned during the war as a child with his mother in the Rushen Internment Camp on the Aisle of Man, a possession of Britain.



My father was only 12 years old, but already worked as a messenger for the camp Superintendent. 



Here is probably one of his first letters of recommendation for a job very well done. 



“On His Majesty’s Service”



How incredibly awesome for a child during World War II and the Holocaust. 



Love you Dad!



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Saw It Right Off

Saw It Right Off

This was something amazing that really gave me pause.

In the physical therapy center, hanging on the wall, encased in this wooden box.

A saw from the civil war that was used by the doctors of the time to amputate soldiers legs and arms.

The saw was so ominous looking, especially with it’s design of medieval-looking torture, it’s raw industrial quality, and the age and rust.

I could literally envision the utter fright on the faces of the young men upon seeing the doctor approach with this tool.

They would give you a piece of wood to sink your teeth into, so you wouldn’t bite your tongue off when they started sawing away at your limbs.

Not sure how people lived like this…not all that very long ago.

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

To Archive Or Not

To Archive Or Not

Farhad Manjoo had a good piece in the Wall Street Journal on the Forever Internet vs. the Erasable Internet.

The question he raises is whether items on the Internet should be archived indefinitely or whether we should be able to delete postings.

Manjoo uses the example of Snapshot where messages and photos disappear a few seconds after the recipient opens them–a self-destruct feature.

It reminded me of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the tape recording of the next mission’s instructions that would then self-destruct in five seconds…whoosh, gone.

I remember seeing a demo years ago of an enterprise product that did this for email messages–where you could lock down or limit the capability to print, share, screenshot, or otherwise retain messages that you sent to others.

It seemed like a pretty cool feature in that you could communicate what you really thought about something–instead of an antiseptic version–without being in constant fear that it would be used against you by some unknown individual at some future date.

I thought, wow, if we had this in our organizations, perhaps we could get more honest ideas, discussion, vetting, and better decision making if we just let people genuinely speak their minds.

Isn’t that what the First Amendment is really all about–“speaking truth to power”(of course, with appropriate limits–you can’t just provoke violence, incite illegal actions, damage or defame others, etc.)?

Perhaps, not everything we say or do needs to be kept for eternity–even though both public and private sector organizations benefit from using these for “big data” analytics for everything from marketing to national security.

Like Manjoo points out, when we keep each and every utterance, photo, video, and audio, you create a situation where you have to “constantly police yourself, to create a single, stultifying profile that restricts spontaneous self-expression.”

While one one hand, it is good to think twice before you speak or post–so that you act with decency and civility–on the other hand, it is also good to be free to be yourself and not a virtual fake online and in the office.

Some things are worth keeping–official records of people, places, things, and events–especially those of operational, legal or historical significance and even those of sentimental value–and these should be archived and preserved in a time appropriate way so that we can reference, study, and learn from them for their useful lives.

But not everything is records-worthy, and we should be able to decide–within common sense guidelines for records management, privacy, and security–what we save and what we keep online and off.

Some people are hoarders and others are neat freaks, but the point is that we have a choice–we have freedom to decide whether to put that old pair of sneakers in a cardboard box in the garage, trash it, or donate it.

Overall, I would summarize using the photo in this post of the vault boxes, there is no need to store your umbrella there–it isn’t raining indoors. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Spinster Cardigan)

Saving Iraq’s Jewish Scrolls

What a beautiful job by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

In Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, our Special Forces looking for WMD instead discoverd thousands of ancient Jewish texts.

The texts dating from 1540 to 1970 taken from the Iraqi Jewish Community were sitting defiled in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence HQS molding and decomposing under 4 feet of water.

The U.S. military and NARA rescued these texts and have painstakingly restored and preserved them through freezing, categorizing, condition assessment, stabilization, mold remediation, mending pages, washing, binding, and more.

Pictures of the collection of texts from Iraq before and after preservation can be found here.

The collection includes:

– A Hebrew Bible from 1568

– A Babylonian Talmud from 1793

– A Zohar/Kabbalah from 1815

– A Haggadah from 1902

– 48 Torah scroll fragments

– And much more.

On October 11, NARA will unveil an exhibit in Washington, DC featuring 24 of the recovered items and the preservation effort.

Hopefully, the collection of Jewish religious texts will ultimately be returned to the Jewish community from which it came, so that it can be held dear and sacred once again, and used properly in religious worship and never again held hostage or profaned.

Thank you so much to both the Department of Defense and to the National Archives for saving and preserving these ancient, sacred Jewish religious texts.

You did a beautiful mitzvah! 😉