That’s Some Pricey Garbage Art


So we stopped in this gallery in Palm Beach.


And there lay this piece of “art”.


Well, I’m not sure–is this really art?


The proprietor explained that this is made up of scrap pieces of metal from the garbage dump like from old discarded automobiles. 


The artist welded the garbage together, painted it, and voila there it is–some very pricey art. 


Who pricey you ask.


Take a guess.


No really. 


No, you’re too low. 


Try again. 


No, you’re still too low.


Not even in the ballpark. 


Okay, I’ll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely.


It starts with a 95.  


No, not $9,500.


No, not $95,000 either. 


That’s right $950,000!!!


All this “art” can be yours if the price is right. 


Can anyone say “irrational exuberance” again? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.


I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.


One of them does work in contraband detection.


The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.


I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.


I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.


He says, “A cage will fall from the ceiling” and I’ll be in big trouble.


Uh, we all laugh a little.


He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.


Oh sh*t, it comes up in the “red”–positive for cocaine.


Someone else says jokingly, “A little leftover from the weekend?”


I joke back, “Na, It’s from this morning before work!”


Ha, ha, I think. 


It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine


I’m wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.


The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.


Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 


It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are–they are so unique and of the best in the world.


I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it’s contraband on money. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Heart And Soul Of The Matter

So I had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman who works in a menial job for minimum wage for most of his life. 


But this person was shinning and smiling ear-to-ear. 


What happened, he got offered a job to work in a lovely school as their cook. 


He’s been doing this as a special treat for the students once a year, and they decided to bring him on to do this full time. 


He pulled out his phone and proudly showed me a picture of himself in the classroom surrounded by all the children.  He was in an orange sweater and stood out in the middle of all of them and with a smile that lit up the entire room. 


He told me how the children thought of him as a celebrity chef and the teacher even organized autographs by him for the children.


His whole life, he questioned his worth, and now he felt recognized, appreciated, and loved. 


I told him that I thought he was indeed quite a special person. 


He said to me, you may have a talent or be special, but you have to recognize it–and he repeated aloud again at least three times emphasizing more and more on RECOGNIZE it. 


Surely, after so many years, only now was he being recognized and more so, recognizing it himself. 


Apparently, someone who worked in the school was also a renown food critic, and she had nothing but praises to sing of him. 


Talking with him, I felt my eyes being opened. 


Everyone can do good with their lives and have worth. 


We have to recognize it in ourselves. 


We need to just be given an opportunity to show it and share it. 


It doesn’t matter what you are or earn.


It matters where your heart is.


For many, they earn gazillions, but their heart is a heart of stone. 


For others, they may earn minimum wage, but their heart is a heart of gold. 


It’s not the money, it’s not the power, it’s not the prestige…it’s the heart and soul of the matter. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Three Legs of Quality of Life

So this is something that I am learning. 


Quality of life means perspective and balance. 


When people go to the extreme and focus all their energies on any one area almost to the exclusivity of the others in their life, it usually means they are going wrong. 


Some people are “party animals”–life is all about their fun, enjoyment, experiences (and even excessive partying, sleeping around, getting drunk and high), and their very immediate gratification. 


Others are all about work–climbing that professional ladder and earning more money, material goods, and more power is the holy grail and also the bane of their existence. 


And yet there are some people that are focused on faith, family, and community–they are mothers and fathers, religious students and clergy, community organizers and organizers of charitable events and giving. 


The problems is that people need multiple facets of their lives–yes, they need playfulness, interests, activities, hobbies, and fun and joyous times; at the same time, they need intellectual curiosity, professional contribution and achievement, and the wherewithal to be responsible and pay the bills; and very importantly, they need  social, spiritual, and emotional fulfillment from family, friends, giving, and faith. 


When a person stands on only one of these legs, like many seem to–they are on wobbly ground and are likely to fall hard and fast.  


Even on two legs, something is missing in their lives–they are standing tall, but not strong and stable. 


On all three legs, a person can be grounded and able to not just stand for themselves, but able to bear weight like on a stool, and they are can play music and sing and smile, knowing that they have a genuine quality of life that few ever really achieve. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

They Really Think They Deserve It

Sometimes I come across people with enormous wealth and power. 


Many wield it like they own it and deserve it. 


I wonder sometimes with billions of other people in the world without adequate food, water, plumbing, medicine, or a solid roof over the heads, how the mighty can think they are above it all. 


Do they look around–do they see anyone else but themselves?


They seem drunk with themselves and what they have–and very overconfident.


Worshipping self and all the honor and materialistic success–they forget where it comes from and what they are supposed to be doing with it to help others. 


Yet, G-d and His angels can strike in but a split second. 


Those that are high and mighty can be brought low and those that are in the depths of despair can be uplifted. 


But at the will of G-d Almighty.


At the top, people may erroneously think and come to believe that they are smarter or more deserving–and so what’s theirs is theirs for the taking and keeping. 


They think “To hell” with everyone else–they are the little people. 


Perhaps, they even come to enjoy squashing them underfoot.


They really believe and savor the power and even think it’s forever. 


Yet the wheel of life turns and often abruptly–illness, accidents, misfortune…it comes seemingly from nowhere when G-d breaths justice. 


How silly of the powerful and wealthy to think they are the untouchable and the forever mighty. 


G-d sees the good and the bad in the people–and ultimately, there is no escape from the King of Kings. 


Wealth and power are earthly and fleeting, but the will of G-d is all that endures. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)