“Wicked” Contact Lists

Chocolate Technology
So two interesting things I learned today about information and communications technology.



One, technology is better when it’s chocolate. Pictured here are telephones, cell phones, and smart phones made of luscious chocolate. Only problem is that the technology is too beautiful to eat!



Two, kids these days are putting in some very creative names into their smartphones’ contact lists to identify their parents. For example, one of my daughters friends who went out with us today told me about three names her friends are currently using for their mothers:



– Birth Giver



– Financial Aid



– Mental Case



Ah, while we have to appreciate creativity in our young ones, perhaps too much of anything is no good. 



Anyway, I’m glad that I’m still “Dad” on my girls’ phones–or at least I think that what they are still calling me!  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Lost Children

Children

Often we hear about lost children with everything from Amber Alerts to our phones and billboards to advertisements on local TV and even on milk cartons–and it is completely frightening. 

 


Rarely though do we come into contact with lost children…but yesterday it happened to us. 

 


We were taking a nice quiet walk around the neighborhood, but something was different this time. 

 


I see 2 children running down the block, and as they get closer, I see they are not playing, but running scared. 

 


The taller, older girl is ahead of a smaller boy. 

 


As the girl is within speaking distance, her whole face breaks into tears and she starts sobbing loudly.

 


Not knowing if they were in some imminent danger, I asked quickly what was wrong and were they in danger. 

 


By now the little boy has caught up with his sister and they–taking turns–saying they are lost. 

 


We start asking more questions.

 


Are you from around here?  No, they are visiting from NY. 

 


What is the address of where they are staying?  Don’t know. 

 


What the name of the people they are staying at?  Don’t know. 

 


Where are their parents?  Don’t know–they told them to go out and run around the (strange) neighborhood.

 


How old are they? The girl is 7 and the boy is just 4.

 


We told these 2 little kids not to worry that we would help them find their way back and that we wouldn’t leave them until we did. 

 


Immediately, we headed back from where they had come from to backtrack and find their parents. 

 


The boy and girl took turns running ahead, crying, afraid they were not going to find the house they came from and saying the streets here are so curvy unlike the square blocks where they are from in NY. 

 


As we kept going around, I started to get leg pain, as I am still on a cane myself from recent surgery, and we were rushing to find their home in the midday Summer sun.

 


We made it down a long block, looking this way and that with the kids–turned the corner…then again the same thing…down another block…although we try to calm them, as we kept going, the kids get more panicky that they were just completely lost. 

 


Finally, thank G-d, a lady in the distance…the kids start running…they recognize her immediately…it’s their mother. 

 


The lady sees us behind them bringing them home to her…she picks up the little girl who makes it to her first…so glad to have her kids back.

 


She waves to us…a quick sort of thanks–and turns and walks away.

 


That was it…she didn’t say a word and was gone before we even caught up. 

 


The kids were really sweet–and were also fortunate–and I hope they are okay and never have to experience anything like that again. 

 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Treat People Nice

Treat People Nice

On a recent college visit, I saw this sign hanging on a door.

The quote is by Maya Angelou and it is very powerful:

“People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As human beings in this world, we come and go.

Our time here is finite.

We will be replaced by others.

What is truly memorable about us is our relationships and how we treat others.

When we show kindness to people or when we are cruel to others–these things are never forgotten.

Our interactions are the mark of who we are inside–do we sincerely care about others and the bigger picture or are we just plain selfish?

How about you–can you remember:

  • how that parent who loved you made you feel?
  • how that teacher who taught you made you feel?
  • how that friend who played with you made you feel?
  • how that boss who mentored you made you feel?
  • how that clergy who inspired you made you feel?
  • how that spouse who was your companion made you feel?
  • how those children who looked up to you made you feel?
  • how those colleagues who supported your work made you feel?

I’m sure you can also remember times when people made you feel not so good–perhaps, you scowled or even cursed them under your breath.

Getting results in life is not enough–we can’t do it by stepping on other people and really being successful that way.

Empathy and kindness or a hard heart and cruelty–you will be remembered one way or another. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hooters’ Training

Hooters' Training

I thought this was a funny-sad photo.

This dad took his two kids (twins?) out to eat.

The eatery is Hooters.

The young, attractive, scantily clad waitresses in the orange shorts were serving them.

It may be fine for the adult, but it didn’t seem so okay for the little kids.

Not that I’m so Mr. Perfect, but couldn’t help reflect that what we teach our children is important.

This wasn’t Ronald McDonald’s, Subway, or Chipotle.

What was the lessons for these kids?

I remember when I would argue with my dad (still to this day) about religion and seeing seemingly “religious” people do things wrong (sometimes terribly wrong), and he would say to me, “You be the example!”

Maybe that’s sort of the point–is that the way we live is the lessons we showcase to others.

Each of us has the opportunity to lead by example…that’s what leadership fundamentally is.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Go 2 Shul

Go 2 Shul

My wonderful dad is very religious and enjoys going to shul (i.e. synagogue) every day–multiple times a day.

I love him for who he is and respect his deep religious beliefs and devotion to G-d–my dad truly serves and walks with Hashem.

And I hope and pray that my Dad has many more happy and healthy years to go to synagogue–“Until 120 years,” G-d bless!

Often, Dad reminds me how important it is to attend services, especially since I am a more private person who would rather connect with G-d on a more personal level.

To each his own and live and let live.

My wife saw this license plate today and my daughter took a photo of it.

Apparently, this is someone else who either wants to go 2 shul or wants others to go as well.

I’m not sure, but it even looks like they wrote or carved the word “synagogue” on the bumper of their car as well.

Anyway as long as everyone drives safely, it is great to find innovative ways to get the message out there. 😉

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo…”I don’t know what we’re yelling about!!”

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger–because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a “righteous anger”).

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can’t handle their sh*t (i.e. “they are losing it”).

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you’re about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell…this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. “they’ll look for an easier target”).

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month–this includes shouting, cursing, calling them “lazy,” “stupid,” or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do “silent yelling–sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don’t yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, “Sometimes–I don’t want to say scream at them–but you have to be…forceful.”

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down–way down–using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)

China’s Dangerous Socioeconomic Malaise

China's Dangerous Socioeconomic Malaise

Fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal today on China’s “Left Behind Kids.”

While we hear about China as the rising Asian economic powerhouse, we do not often contemplate the socioeconomic impact of what is occurring there on Chinese families.

As China rises to economic superpower status, more than 250 million migrant workers pour from the poor rural parts of China to the cities to supply the relatively cheap labor to keep manufacturing humming and the economy brimming with growth.

Those left behind are 61 million Chinese children, who are growing up without one or both parents.

One in five Chinese children haven’t seen their parent(s) for at least 3 months.

But laws in China prevent children from coming to the cities with their parents in order to stem the flow of migration from rural areas.

Chinese parents are saying, “We’ll go wherever we can get the highest pay,”

Children are saying, “What’s the big deal of having no mother anyway? I can grow up without a mom.”

So while smog and pollution is spoiling beautiful China cities and harming people’s physical health, the greater concern is that children are missing out on the loving, bonding, caring, and guidance that comes with a regular parental presence and good sound parenting from them.

Understanding that strong parent-child relationships are critical to the formation of mental, emotional, and spiritual health of the children, the numbers and severity of Chinese children that are missing out on this is of great concern.

While some children may be okay under the care of able grandparents along with regular visits or calls by parents, many others children, who don’t have this, could end up having serious mental and emotional problems.

Already “more than 70% of children in rural China show signs of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”

And as is often the case, anxiety and depression turn into resentment and anger.

With tens of millions of left behind children being forced to fend for themselves and hundreds of millions of migrant parents living in “dormitories, tents, or bomb shelters” away from their families and homes, what we have here is a bonafide socioeconomic ticking time bomb.

Political pundits often point to the concern of China’s power elite that the people will rise up against them and the Communist Party,
but I think the far bigger concern is to those outside of the system altogether.

In my mind, the destruction of the core family will ultimately result in a tsunami of frustration, anger, and a weakening of social values.

Moreover, this could very well spillover and lead to a dangerous rise of militancy, where people do not want to lash out against their political system or leadership, but rather against everyone else who took the goods that left them economically richer, but poorer in just about every other way. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lessons Learned From My Family By Rebecca Blumenthal

This is a moving interview with Rebecca Blumenthal.

She came to me this afternoon, spontaneously, to tell me some meaningful lessons she had gathered from some of the special members of her family.

Immediately after I heard a few of the things she had to say, I asked her if she would mind me capturing these beautiful sentiments on this short video.

I was very moved by her sincerity and thoughtfulness, and it gave me pause in my own life to appreciate these things anew from the people who have been so important in my life as well.

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Driving Away With It

Driving Away With It

This last week was another week for gross social injustice.

As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help–and killed them all.

The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!

What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.

And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison.

On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken.

The defense teen argued “Affluenza” — like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because…he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision–in effect, he is a victim of having too much–too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well.

I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!

While others that have too little–education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on–must take the rap and go away for their crimes.

Too much–you can buy your way free.

Too little–you get sent up the river without a paddle.

Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way around–if you have more, then more is expected of you. While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?

But no, money talks, and the guilty walks.

It is a shame on our society–and what we inappropriately call a justice system.

Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.

Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial–another travesty of justice. How many more?

Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art–in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist.

You see it’s not whether you’re black or white or yellow or whatever, it’s plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Send Parenting To The Cloud

Don't Send Parenting To The Cloud

So my youngest daughter is taking her SAT’s.

Where did the years go?

As a parent, what’s my role in helping her prepare?

With all the new technology out there, you’d think I was just a parental annoyance…yeah, in some ways I am.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “parents are too tired, too busy–or too mystified to help” with homework.

And now “digital tutors” are taking their place for about $24 to $45 per hour (and even prorated per minute).

For example, on Tutor.com you can get on-demand tutoring to text chat and do calculations on a shared screen with your kid.

Tutor.com has about 1,200 tutors, 95% from Bangalore, India staffed by “moonlighting or retired teachers, college professors, or [other] professionals.”

Other online resources include Khan Academy with educational videos, Chegg.com with answers to homework problems from 2,500+ textbooks, and StudyBlue.com for sharing “study guides, notes, and flashcards.”

While these online tutoring resources can be a huge help for students, I think that parents can still play an important role.

Recently, my daughter and I have carved out some time every night to sit down at the dining room table with books, scrap papers, and our own flash cards to study, together.

What I am finding is that this is a really special time for us to bond and sort of be in this SAT rite of passage together, where I can provide emotional support and some structure for the studying.

We also have signed her up for a more formal review class as well as some online resources, but I am glad to be a parent to my children and not rely only on canned cloud solutions.

While I don’t know most of the answers and she does–I take that as a good thing. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)