Fruit Juice Want Some

Cartoon Juice
I took this photo in the supermarket.



It is of these Good 2 Grow juice bottles for kids with cartoon sip tops. 



Everyone from Ninja Turtles to Scooby Doo is here on the shelf.



And peeping out in the middle from the back is none other than SpongeBob SquarePants. 



I guess if I were still a kid holding hands with my mom coming down the aisle, I would stop right here and start yelling and jumping up and down for these.



Juice Smuice…I just like these fun, happy cartoon characters. 😉

Guns And Roses

Guns And Roses

This was an interesting student portrayal showing decision on whether someone is a friend or foe–I like it!

On the face of it, is a computer screen “head” with pictures of a drone for surveillance and a fighter jet for carrying out battle.

In the right hand is a rose for the friend, and in the left hand is a gun for the foe.

On the bottom, it says “You Decide” with little pieces of hanging paper marked “Friend”or “Foe” and you pick one.

To me, the kid that designed this is pretty smart–smarter than a lot of adults today,

Why?

To many people, everything is black or white–for example, liberals may default to everyone as good and trustworthy until shown otherwise, while conservatives may take the alternate track where they assume people are bad and we should be cautious with them and be prepared to defend ourselves.

Neither is simply right or wrong–it’s just how we approach things–although for me, it’s definitely you have to earn trust, and still it’s important to verify!

The kid that made the friend or foe robot apparently realizes that we have to discriminate between those people that are friends and those that are enemies–and act accordingly.

Surveillance is a good thing and being ready to defend ourselves is a very good thing.

Sometimes, those that masquerade as friends are really foes, and those that challenge us may really be our best friends.

We must be very discriminating in determining who is who–and be ready with both rose and gun. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Memorize?

Why Memorize?

G-d, I remember as a kid in school having to memorize everything for every class–that was the humdrum life for a schoolchild.

Vocabulary words, grammar rules, multiplication tables, algebraic and geometric equations, scientific formulas, historical events, famous quotes, states and capitals, presidents, QWERTY keys, and more.

It was stuff it in, spit it out, and basically forget it.

This seemed the only way to make room for ever more things to memorize and test out.

In a way, you really had to memorize everything, because going to a reference library and having to look up on the stacks of endless shelves or microfiche machines was a pain in the you know what.

Alternatively, the home dictionary, theasarus, and encyclopeda were indispensible, but limited, slow, dated, and annoying.

But as the universe of knowledge exploded, became ever more specialized, and the Internet was born, looking something up was a cinch and often necessary.

All of a sudden, memorization was out and critical thinking was in.

That’s a good thing, especially if you don’t want people who are simple repositories of stale information, but rather those who can question, analyze, and solve problems.

Albert Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.”

But an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal by an old school teacher questions that logic.

David Bonagura Jr. proposes that critical thinking and analysis “is impossible without first acquiring rock-solid knowledge of the foundational elements upon which the pyramid of cognition rests.”

He says, “Memorization is the most effective means to build that foundation.”

As a kid, I hated memorization and thought it was a waste of time, but looking back I find that more things stayed in that little head of mine than I had thought.

I find myself relying on those foundations everyday…in writing, speaking, calculating, and even remembering a important story, principle, saying or even song lyrics.

These come out in my work–things that I thought were long lost and forgotten, but are part of my thinking, skills, and truly create a foundation for me to analyze situations and solve problems.

In fact, I wish I knew more and retained it all, but short-term memory be damned.

We can’t depend on the Internet for all the answers–in fact, someday, it may not be there working for us all, when we need it.

We must have core knowledge that is vital for life and survival and these are slowly being lost and eroded as we depend on the Internet to be our alternate brains.

No, memorizing for memorization’s sake is a waste of time, but building a foundation of critical skills has merits.

Who decides what is critical and worthwhile is a whole other matter to address.

And are we building human automatons full of worthless information that is no longer relevant to today’s lifestyles and problems or are we teaching what’s really important and useful to the human psche, soul, and evolution.

Creativity, critical thinking, and self-expression are vital skills to our ability to solve problems, but these can’t exist in a vacuum of valuable brain matter and content.

It’s great to have a readily available reference of world information at the tips of our fingertips online, but unless you want to sound (and act) like an idiot, you better actually know something too. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chapendra)

Wheelchair Kids

Wheelchair Kids

So I was swimming in the pool and noticed a dad playing with his kids in the shallow section.

One kid–the littler and younger one–was swimming this way and that and playing in the water.

The other kid–bigger and older–was in a flotation tube, and she was clearly struggling.

First, I misinterpreted the girl wiggling around in the tube as her just jumping around and having a good time with it.

Then, I saw she was uncomfortable and having some real difficulty, and I noticed the mini-wheelchair for a child parked at the side of the pool.

I saw the dad go over to her in the water tube and help settle her, stabilize her, and he pushed her hair out of her eyes, and poured some cold pool water on her forehead and over her hair.

I held back tears watching the love of this father for his disabled daughter and for the challenges that the disabled regularly have to endure.

The girls little sister started to jump around her sister’s tube and wanted to play with her.

The whole scene was sort of surreal.

As it happened, a day later another man in the hotel elevator started talking about how he arrived at the hotel but had so many problems: he lost his wallet, his room had a flood and his family needed to be moved, and he was dealing with a six year old child with cancer.

When I see these children suffering, I really feel emotional–they are too young and innocent to be so sick. They haven’t had a chance to fully live and they can’t look forward to the same things that other healthy kids can.

That doesn’t mean that they can’t live purposeful lives, just that they have great challenges for little people.

I think how terrible it is to be confined to a wheelchair or bedridden–instead of being free to run and play.

I hate seeing anyone sick and suffering, but with children it’s worse, and I remember my dad telling me as a kid when times were tough: “If you want to see real problems [in life], we should go over to visit the children’s hospital!”

He was right–I will never forget those words or the plight of sick and disabled children–may G-d have mercy.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Joanna C. Dobson)

Fun, The Good ‘ol Fashion Way

Fun, The Good 'ol Fashion Way

This was a funny picture today on the street in downtown D.C.

This guy was getting a cheap ride down the thoroughfare in a bin.

She was pushing and he had his arm raised as the winner of the big race.

It reminded me of when we were kids and used to ride go-karts down the hill–and only after we picked up some speed did we realize that the breaks didn’t work that good.

Oh well, a little flip and some chuckles and no worse for the wear.

Those were the days, young and carefree–nothing to worry about except whose house we were going over to, next, to wreck some havoc.

I remember, one day we were having a huge wet paper towel fight and one kid ran into the garage to escape the barrage, I gave chase and unwittingly pushed against the glass in the door to follow and oops my hand went right through.

Not a pretty sight, but I thank G-d lived to tell my kids about it, and now they got one up on me when they do something a little out of bounds and fun–actually they are a lot better than I was at that age.

And it wasn’t that I was a bad kid, I was actually one the good ones–or so I was told–but before we all had computers, the Internet, social media, and smartphones, we had each other.

It wasn’t the technology that drove us, but rather the evolving web of interactions (today my new best friend is…), the challenges we made up (let’s bike up to Tarrytown in 100+ degree heat), the fun we found ourselves in (from the board game Risk to early gaming on the Atari, or just cleaning out a friends garage for a few bucks)–times were simpler, more innocent, and in a way better.

When we went home at night from work or for the weekend, our time was our own–were weren’t glued to email and always on call.

When we attended an event, we didn’t check our Facebook and Twitter, but paid attention to the company we were in.

When we ate dinner together, maybe the one rabbit-ear TV was going in the background with one of the 3 networks stations, but everyone wasn’t being pulled away for gaming, blogging, or some Internet shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my technology as much or maybe more than the next guy, but I also miss just being me in the physical world with my family and gang of friends, and not just so much TheTotalCIO in the office and in cyberspace. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Vandalism and Vomit — Only $2,500!

Vandalism and Vomit -- Only $2500!

So we went to look at a new dorm-type apartment for my daughter.

She and her friends want to be near campus and where everyone hangs out.

When we got to the building, the front door glass was smashed in and wooden planks filled the space over the whole door.

While we were waiting in front, a group of girls were walking in–and one was saying to the others, “Oh, he says he love me, and he wants to have sex with me…”–then couldn’t hear the rest as they continued by.

Inside the lobby was this “Vandalism Report” with dates for each (not shown)–Take a look at it (THIS IS REAL!).

– Signs and fire extinguishers vandalized.

– Beer cups thrown off the balcony.

– Graffiti painted on the walls.

– And best for last…urine, vomit, rubbish, and blood discovered–at multiple times and in multiple places!

The slumlord landlord, buys up the filthy apartments, renovates them, and rents out two-bedroom units in this building for approximately $2500, split 4 ways among the students.

He takes 2 months security deposit.

And he makes each person responsible for all the others, so if one person backs out or doesn’t pay, each of the other students are responsible–not just for their share (lease).

He advertised one unit, but showed us another.

Then told us this one was also already taken and we should trust him and sign up for another unit that he is purchasing and “it will be the same thing, trust me!”

This whole thing was disappointing to my daughter who was excited to be with all her friends so close to campus.

I was proud of her when my wife asked her despite how much she wanted this…did she feel this guy was trustworthy?–and she said, “No!”

Not sure who would want to live in a place like this…but my daughter was disappointed anyway.

It’s hard to be practical, when the emotional side for people take over.

These young people are victimized by the slumlords, who prey on their youth, inexperience, and needs.

This place was disgusting–even so, it’s tough to be a parent because you want your children to learn from mistakes, but mistakes can be so costly.

Funny thing is, there were plenty of kids in this building–where are the grownups? 😉

Rock Climbing With Rebecca

Rock Climbing With Rebecca

So we took my daughter, Rebecca, and a friend indoor rock climbing and it was awesome!

Each of them climbed three walls of increasing difficulty.

They ended with a 5.7 grade climb and did it more or less with ease.

We were yelling “Go Rebecca!” the whole time.

The guy who holds the rope, the belayer, told me its not so much about strength as it is willpower–and that is a terrific lesson not just for kids, but for all of us!

I was really impressed not only with how they climbed so energetically and with such determination, but how much fun they were able to have doing it.

I told my daughter that next time–I hope to climb with her–that’ll be interesting (oh G-d help me…).

I took a picture here of the place on the wall for the 5.10 climb, and it was funny for two reasons, it has this crazy looking skull on the wall, and someone taped underneath a note that said “Brush Your Teeth.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Seesaw, Yeah It’s For Kids

There is an interesting new crowdsourcing application called Seesaw.

And like a seesaw goes up and down, you can take a picture and crowdsource decisions–thumbs up or down for what you should do.

Food, clothes, movies, more–I could imagine people even going so far as to use this for dating–Go out with them or not? Keep ’em or dump ’em?

While the possibility of having others chime in on your everyday life decisions is somewhat intriguing, social and fun…it also seems a little shallow and superficial.

Do you really need to ask your friends about everything you do or can you make simple day-to-day decisions yourself?

And when it comes to big decisions, perhaps you need more than a picture with a thumbs up or down to give the decision context, evaluate pros and cons, think through complex issues, and make a truly thoughtful decision–perhaps some genuine dialogue would be helpful here?

Finally, many decisions in life come at the spur of a moment–should I or shouldn’t I–and you don’t have the benefit of saying hold on “let me take a picture and get some of my friends opinions on this”–life waits for no one and timing is often everything!

It is good to get other people’s opinions (i.e. the proverbial “second opinion”) as well as to do what my father used to tell me which is to “sleep on it,” because things look different over night and in the morning.

But while you should consider what others think–in a meaningful way–in the end, you need to trust your inner self and take responsibility for your own decisions. 😉

GW Valentines Day

GW Valentine's Day

So this is how they celebrate Valentines Day at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

These posters of George Washington were plastered everywhere and each one had the big kiss lips on it as well as some provocative saying penned on its forehead.

This one in particular sort of got right to the intimate point saying “My place or yours?”

I believe this was the student’s attempt at humor and hopefully meant no disrespect to good old GW.

Anyway, kids will be kids–they celebrate in all sorts of interesting and innovative ways.

Happy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)