ISIS Ruined Our Vacation

613.jpeg

So we rolled the dice this Thanksgiving vacation and came up sort of empty.


We were supposed to go to Las Vegas, but then there is ISIS threatening to strike the U.S. 


Already, ISIS is claiming 71 soldiers in 15 states in the U.S., and the FBI is saying that ISIS terrorists are being recruited in all 50 states


Yet our leadership doesn’t want to fight ISIS while they are still over there–instead, we are foolishly waiting for the next big terror attack over here, as if 9/11 with 3,000 dead wasn’t enough!


We are stubborn, deaf to the terror threats, reactive, and refuse to wake up to the danger that is facing our country. 


Dancing around the issue with some drone and airstrikes–no matter how lethal–is not going to remove this enormous terror threat–coming from some of the most barbaric of enemies that we have ever faced. 


My sister told me from a lecture she heard recently about the terrorist threats we are facing, “We are used to fighting finite wars–there is a start/middle/end. [But] they [ISIS] fights infinite wars–not defined [by time or space].”


So how did we come to cancelling our Vegas holiday vacation?


Here is our story…


The number 613 in Judaism is very important–it represents the number of commandments in the Torah.


We have been seeing this number lately wherever we go: We look at the clock, it’s 6:13. We are driving and look at the license plate in front of us–613. We go shopping and the receipt is for $6.13. We rolled a pair of dice (above), that’s right 613, and much more. 


We asked what this means and were told it’s a warning and to do teshuva (repentance) and follow the commandments more stringently. 


On Shabbat this week, I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and then saw an article on a new illustrative book of the commandments called, “The 613.”


That night, I dreamed the entire night about 613–and the need to unlock the code of what it meant for us. 


The next day, my wife said “I have a really bad feeling about Vegas, let’s go visit your parents graves.”


When we got there, my wife touched the tombstone, and said she could hear my dad telling her not to go to Vegas–was this just playing on her imagination?


So she calls her father who is chasidic and he contacts a famous, pious and mystical Rabbi, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe–and without asking him about the trip–the Rebbe just pops out to my father-in-law that he should tell us not to go on our trip, and if we have to go, to take a different path.


My wife tells her father that we already made plans, have tickets, and don’t want to cancel the trip, so we are instructed to give charity (so I immediately write a check for $613!) and do other deeds for repentance instead. 


Then the night before we are supposed to fly out, my daughter comes out with her iPhone and a news items on the State Department issuing a global travel alert “amid concerns that terror groups and individuals plan more attacks after the Paris massacres.”


If all this wasn’t enough, my back which has been hurting the last week, then completely gives out out on me–and in enormous pain, we simply can’t go anywhere.


One warning, two warnings, three warnings…we can’t be deaf to G-d’s message.


So on this Thanksgiving, a sincere thank you to Hashem (and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe) for guiding us and keeping us from danger.


And a not so thank you to ISIS for implicitly spoiling our Thanksgiving holiday plans to Vegas. 


A small and insignificant, but nevertheless a casualty to our political disengagement, false appeasement, fearfulness to recognize the enemy, and war-weariness to take the bastards down and take them down hard and for good before something, G-d forbid, serious and much worse happens. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Light Up Your Life


We’ve seen colored light bulbs before…very hippie.



However, I like the Misfit Bolt, which is a multi-colored bulb, whose combinations are controlled by an app on your smartphone or -watch. 



It’s was introduced at the Consumer and Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas this week. 



And it has lighting that simulates landscapes such as a beach sunset, forest, island volcano, rainbow, and more. 



It can also be set as an alarm to wake you up to a simulated sunrise.



At $50, it’s more than a mood ring–how you feeling today, buddy?



But how nice to relax to, wake up with, and to create some pick me up feeling lighting around you. 😉

Something Everyone Cares About

Funny Face
This was a funny Facebook post by someone from Las Vegas.



He bemoans that there are no virgins left in Vegas.



I tell my wife what he said.



And she says, “Well what does he expect in Vegas?”



I say, “I’m not sure, but I think he might be married and has kids.”



So my wife says, “Then why does he care?”



I think for a second and answer, “It’s someone everyone cares about like global warming.”



And we both started to crack up laughing.  



My wife ends the conversation with, “Andy, you are a funny guy!”  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Balloon Mugs

Balloon Mug
Love this new balloon mug from Starbucks.



Most of their tchotchkes are so ugly or cheap looking, but this mug rocks.



Got this for my daughter, but I want one too.



Reminds me when we went air ballooning in Las Vegas together.



Great memories and a really beautiful mug.



Too nice to drink out of. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ushering In 2014

Ushering In 2014

As we usher in 2014, I thought this amazing Fendi Jewel Watch for women was a great timekeeping way to capture the moment.

I took this photo in the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.

There was a huge advertisement hanging by the lobby, and it immediately caught my eye.

I like the different colored stones for each hour around the dial, as well as the overall white diamond ring around the face.

I found it at their website for $3,000 and it is an absolutely gorgeous timepiece when you first see it.

But it’s interesting to me that while it catches my eye, the more I look it, I find that I start to tire of it, and it is not one of those truly timeless jewelry pieces.

Maybe an important lesson for the New Year is that we need to look closely and carefully to avoid expensive buyers remorse, because not everything that glitters is gold–in fact, this watch is stainless. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Up Up And Away

Had a wonderful time with Rebecca Blumenthal today.

We went air ballooning over Las Vegas.

I was surprised at how large the balloons were and how easy the ride was–didn’t even feel it when we lifted off the ground and before I knew it, we were 4,000 feet above sea level.

I shot the video standing in the balloon as it was being inflated–never knew you could do that!

And I took the photo of the balloon with the Vegas Strip in the background–you can see the Stratosphere on the left along with the other fancy hotels and sites.

The view from above was beautiful, the air outside was cool, but under the burners of the balloon we were warm and toasty.

Sheldon Grauberger was a terrific aeronaut and guide today and you could see, completely, the total passion he had for this sport.

He told us how he actually trains others for free–he “pays it forward,” since he was taught almost 20 years ago similarly.

The sky, mountains, city, breeze, and peace and quiet floating overhead was so amazing.

I sort of felt like the young boy, Pascal, in the movie, The Red Balloon.

He dreams of a better future and is carried off by the balloons into the wild blue yonder to live happily ever after, please G-d. 😉

(Source Photo and Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

So Harry Basil was great at The Laugh Factory.

His costumes, impersonations, and audience involvement in his act was well done.

In the course of about half an hour, Harry spanned the gamut from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Leonardo DiCaprio, Eminem to Michael Jackson, and from Batman to Superman.

He was very animated and played with the people in the audience–so quick, spontaneous, and always in control.

This morning, I took this photo with Harry Basil at Starbucks.

As we started to walk away down the hall, my wife (who is wont not to take the greatest photos) says “Oh, I don’t think the picture came out, it was too close.”

And as we were going to start bickering, it was so funny…Harry pops up right behind us, and goes “Was it too close–let’s take it again.”

Another thing that happened that was interesting at The Laugh Factory, was when we were about to be seated, I said sincerely to the host “How are you doing this evening? Happy holidays!”

He goes to me, “No one ever asks me that. You know what? I’m going to give you seats right up by the front,” and he did.

It was a lesson for all of us about talking and treating people nicely–what goes around, comes around. 😉