Take Off Those Shoes

So this was pretty funny. 


We have a sign in our house that people should take off their shoes when they come in. 


Heck, it’s part of being a neat freak and somewhat germaphobic.


But of course, the kids invariably don’t follow the house rules and we get the shoe dirt all over. 


And guess who has to always clean it up?  


Well the other day, my daughter was looking to purchase a condo, and when she found a place she liked, she was walking around the apartment and saying:

When I have my own place, everyone is going to take off their shoes.


Hmm, when the place is yours and you have to clean up the messes, all of a sudden the house rules are in effect and big time.  😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Never Say Anything

So I overhear this conversation…


Woman:  “Never say never and never say always.”


Man: “Well then what should I say?”


Woman: “Just keep your mouth shut!”


Yeah, that’s one for the books.


Anyway, thinking about this a little more–there is an exception to every rule. 


Never say never is itself violating this rule of thumb. 


Hence one conclusion perhaps is that many rules are so stupid to begin with! 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

Organized Religion.jpeg

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Exceptions To Every Rule

stock-and-pillory

Fair or not, some of us have to live by the rules and others do not. 


As in all history, we have a class society–there are:


– The kings and the commoners. 


– The lords and the vassals and serfs. 


– The elites and the commoners. 


– The majority and the minorities. 


– The rich and the poor. 


– The haves and the have nots.


Or any other number of variations of this.


Recently, with Hillary Clinton and her multitude of scandals, there was some shock that even in modern-day America, she was able to get off scot-free.


And in this great democracy of ours, it was understood to shut up, or else, for not toeing the line. 


The message to everyone was clear: while “the little guy” is made to pay the price for mediocrity, there are some people that will always be above the law!


It was funny-sad, because we don’t want to believe that anyone can really escape from justice–that it can be beaten–although at times, we just have to acknowledge that justice may have to wait and come in the next world from the true Master of All. 


Today, coming out of my building, a dog from a neighbor started jumping (playfully) on my leg and barking–it was sort of hard to get out of there. 


The problem with this scenario was that my building doesn’t allow dogs.  


So out of curiosity, I stopped someone in the building and asked innocently, “I thought dogs are prohibited in this building?”


“Oh yes.” they answer, but seeing this lady with the active dog, they continue, “That lady has an exception from the board!”


We sort of all looked at each other, because this was not a service dog or anything like that, and it obviously seemed unfair that for her there was one set of rules, and for everyone else, another. 


Yes, there is an exception to every rule…some people can basically do what they want by virtue of their power and money or by who or what they know (i.e. can anyone say lots of skeletons in the closets).  


So while the little guy gets locked in stocks and pillories and the key thrown away for maybe the littlest of misdeeds, others are the exception to the rule–and may even become the Commander In Chief.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mindful Treatment Of The Disabled

Brain

What great brain at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with the idea to curb access to prosthetics for the disabled?

What is supposedly driving CMS?

It’s a half-wit effort to put a dent in fraud for lower-limb prosthetics –estimated at just $43 million relative to CMS’s annual budget of close to $1 trillion!

Uh, doesn’t CMS have anything better to do then pick on disabled people missing one or more legs?

The profound dumbness of the proposed CMS new rules would limit amputees from possible reimbursement for artificial limbs for example, “if they use assistive devices such as canes or crutches.”

But isn’t that precisely what someone who can’t walk and is missing a limb would use???

Here’s the next doozy…CMS would limit advanced prosthetics “if the device doesn’t enable them to walk with the appearance of a natural gait.”

OMG, this is too much!

People with disabilities who require help need it precisely because they are not “natural” in their mobility functions–that is what we are seeking to help them with. 

You’re going to penalize someone from getting artificial limbs because they still can’t walk completely normal with fake limbs like with real ones?

Moreover, if the Veteran’s Administration adopts these rules, this will also affect our wounded warfighters. 

G-d (and the Secretary of HHS) needs to put some sense back in the minds of the people who, in this case, instead of helping the disabled are misguidedly working against them. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

How Our Colony On Mars Will Get Built

Absolutely amazing development in robotics…

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University researchers have developed autonomous robots inspired by termites or ants.

They can build complex structures by working in a group or swarm.

Each robot is independent, yet by being programmed with the target structure, they work harmoniously together to build the structure without further guidance.

They have sensors along with a set of rules that enable them to interact with each other and the environment to get the job done.

They can even build stairs to enable themselves to get to higher levels of the structure and add the next set of building bricks.

The robots are 8″ by 4.5″ with pinwheel tires for traction and are powered by off-the-shelf motors.

“Each robot ‘walks around the structure until it sees something that needs to be done and then does it…they can recognize errors and correct them.'”

Perhaps, the robots can not only learn from the termites, but we can learn from the robots. 😉

Is Bureaucracy Just Another Name For Governance?

Is Bureaucracy Just Another Name For Governance?

Fascinating opinion piece by Fisman and Sullivan in the Wall Street Journal on Friday (15 March 2013) called “The Unsung Beauty of Bureaucracy.”

The authors argue that bureaucratic rules and regulations serve important purposes in that while “less good stuff gets done–but it also puts a check on the kinds of initiatives that can lead to catastrophe.”

And they give numerous examples of industries that perform sensitive functions that you would want to actually take some extra time to make sure they get it right.

A vary basic example given was the company Graco that makes infant car seat and strollers; they have five design phases and hundreds of tests that add up to two years to product development, but who would rationally argue against such quality controls processes to protect our children.

They make another good point, we always here about bureaucracy slowing the innovation and product development down, but what about the “bad ideas that were quashed as a result of the same rules?”

We all rail against having to jump through hoops to get things done and rightfully so. The mission is important, time is of the essence, and resources are limited–last thing anyone wants is to be told you have x process that must be followed, y gates to get through, z signatures to obtain–and that’s just for the routine stuff! 🙂

But as much as we hate to be slowed down to cross the t’s and dot the i’s, often that’s just what we really need–to make sure we don’t do anything half-a*sed, stupid, or jut plain reckless.

One mistake in an operational environment can bring things to a standstill for thousands, in a system it can have a dominos effect taking down others, and in product development it can bring deadly consequences to consumers, and so on.

So putting up some “bureaucratic” hurdles that ensure good governance may be well worth its weight in gold.

Frankly, I don’t like the word bureaucracy because to me it means senseless rules and regulations, but good governance is not that.

We need to stop and think about what we are doing–sometimes even long and hard and this is difficult in a fast-paced market–but like a race car taking the turn too fast that ends up in a fiery heap–stopped not by their steady pacing, but by the retaining wall protecting the crowds from their folly.

One other thing the author state that I liked was their pointing out the government which is involved in so many life and death matters needs to maintain some heightened-level of governance (I’ll use my word), to get the food supplies safe and the terrorists out.

From clear requirements to careful test plans, we need to ensure we know what we are doing and that it will work.

At the same time, showing up after the party is over serves no purpose.

Like all things in an adult world, balance is critical to achieving anything real. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)