Pacemaker No-No!

So I learned that this is called a Van de Graaff Generator.


It generates very high voltage electricity. 


The guy setting it up asks me:

Do you have a pacemaker?


I respond in the negative and ask what’s the danger zone on this thing.


He says: 

You probably wouldn’t want to get within 10 feet of this!


Good to know. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(Please note that blog is not to be taken as medical advice.)

My First Interfaith Event

So I attended my first interfaith event today at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


The first lady that I spoke to said that she wasn’t any one religion.  


When I asked more about this, she said:

The core to all religions is Rachamim (mercy, compassion) and Ahavah (love).


Pictured above are the table seating cards that directed people to sit next to people of other religions:  Jewish, Muslim, Other. 


The event was led by the One America Movement, and the Director, Andrew Hanauer spoke very well about bridging what divides us. 


Here are some of the take-a-ways:


– We need to address the divisiveness, polarization, and conflict. 

– Remember that we are talking with other human beings and not with labels.


– Polarization is not just issues, but devolves into identity–“I hate your stupid face!”


– But we are all human beings (and children of G-d). 

– Republicans and Democrats each say that the other is 20% less human than they are. 


– We all have our own “facts”:  My facts vs. Your Facts. 


– We attribute good that happens to us as being because of “us,” but bad that happens to us because of “them.”


– Similarly, we believe that we act out of love, but they act out of hate–and:

– We interpret threats to our viewpoints (political and otherwise), as threats to our groups and to ourselves. 

– Try to remove binary thinking (right and wrong, left and right, etc.), critique your own point of view, and share doubts

– Reconciliation:  If we can cross the divide, have open dialogue, and positive interactions with each others, and develop cross-cutting identities then we will make it easier to counter divisive narratives, solve problems, and reduce violence. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Loneliness Is Death

There is a very important article in the Wall Street Journal today on the link of loneliness to death. 


Frightening loneliness statistics:


– One in 11 Americans over age 50 “lacks a spouse, partner, or living child.”


– More than 1 in 4 baby boomers is divorced or never married.  


– 1 out of every 6 people lives alone. 


Research indicates that loneliness leads to early death. 


The impact of loneliness is equivalent to:


– Smoking 15 cigarettes a day


– Drinking 6 alcoholic beverages a day


Loneliness is worse for mortality than:


– Obesity 


– Physical activity


“The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful…we have to address loneliness,” says the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 


Whether you are extroverted or introverted, we all need human interaction, sharing, caring, touch, and love.  


Truly, no man is an island!


Those that are stranded on loneliness island need to escape it and make their way back to human civilization.


Alone our lives are dull and stunted; but together, we have the inherent social dynamics to be able to experientially learn, grow, change and mature. 


Alone we die–together we live. 


It’s not just power in numbers, it’s life itself. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bored Meetings

So it’s been raining so much here in the DC area lately.


The result is that the hot Summer July temperatures are down in the cool 70’s and the rain is flooding everywhere. 


When I got in the elevator this morning, someone goes to me:


“Did you see the leak in the hallway?  They are watering the tree with it.”


And sure enough, there it was!


When all this rain finally stops, there is going to be a lot of cleanup and repairs to do. 


The other thing was yesterday, we were on the way to a board meeting in our synagogue. 


In the elevator, are two other people–a man and women–carrying binders.


They say to us:


“Are you going to the board meeting?”


Surprised, because I didn’t recognize them from our synagogue, I respond affirmatively and ask to clarify:


“Oh, you’re going to the board meeting too?  I don’t recall seeing you there before.”


Then the elevator stops and they start to get off–but it’s to a different board meeting for the building.


When they see that we’re going to a different floor, they start laughing:


“I guess we’re going to different board meetings!”


I say:


“Yeah that’s right, different board meetings, but we’ll all probably be bored!


Another laugh by everyone, and we we’re all off to the races. 😉


(Source Photo:  Andy Blumenthal)

Keep A Cool Temperament

So this was amazing. 


I was working with someone for a number of weeks/months. 


All of a sudden, I got a complete blow off email from them that said they are done and they wished me well in a sort of very sarcastic and even contemptuous way–like a real f*ck off!

Were they just being nasty or trying to pick a fight or something?


First, I was taken aback and honestly hurt–like what the heck happened that they showed their true strips…did I miss it all along. 


I showed my wife their email, and she read it the same way, and said “What an asshole!”


I continued to hold my mouthpiece and feelings as I contemplated how I would respond. 


I have to admit that some choice words and wishes back to them definitely came to mind. 


But I said to myself, “Hold, hold, hold!”


It wasn’t easy not to respond in kind–lash back out at them–and even then some for good measure. 


No, that isn’t the way. 


You can rise above this. 


I kept my mouth shut and literally controlled my reactions.


Well, lo’ and behold, I thought I would never hear from this person again the way they spoke to me, but then a few days later,  I received another email where apparently they rethought what they did.


It didn’t have to come from me to them to “set them straight!”


Their own conscience seemed to have played on them and they came to their own senses about how they behaved and spoke. 


I learned from this that it is critical to maintain your composure and keep your cool under all circumstances, no matter how trying. 


Don’t stoop to their level–you rise above it!


Sometimes, the other person may just surprise you and rise back up too and do the right thing in the end. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

That Look On Their Face

So I love that look on people’s face when I say something that just startles them or takes them back a little. 


The other day when I got a haircut, the barber lady was talking to me (BTW, she’s a very nice person).


At one point, she says something about my hair being a little different on each side. 


So I blurt out something like:


“Well, that’s because my brains are pushing it out!”


I got the funniest look from her…yes, it was priceless.


First, she’s like right, of course, your brains are pushing out your hair!


Then, she looks at me, and I start smirking, and she gives me the big eyes and raised eyebrows, like a combination of that’s funny and now don’t be such a wise guy. 


Then, we both started laughing. 


I love that. 


I love doing that with people. 


Being alive. 


Getting a reaction. 


Making them wonder for a second. 


Getting them to smile and laugh. 


Maybe my brains are pushing my hair out!  😉


(Source Art: Sean M., 8th Grade Montgomery County and Photo by Andy Blumenthal)

Understanding Genius

So working in a place with scientific geniuses and even a history of Nobel Prize winners is serious business. 


I see things that I don’t know what they are. 


I meet people that I don’t understand what they do. 


But in all cases, I am in awe of the smart and good people and the work they are doing to advance us. 


Here was an example this week in randomly meeting someone and starting up a conversation:

Andy:  Hi. I’m Andy.  What do you do here?
Him:  I’m [so and so].  I do neutron scattering.
Andy: [Gulp followed by big smile] I know absolutely nothing about that.
Him:  Well, what do you do?
Andy:  I’m doing process engineering and enterprise service management.
Him: [Smile] I know absolutely nothing about that. 

Get the picture.


One for the books right.


In another instance, when asked what their group does, someone leans into me and goes:


“We fix sh*t.”


I could tell he meant it. 


And you know what–I absolutely believed him.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)