Jailbird Freedom

So I’m doing laps in the indoor pool.


And out of the corner of my eye, I see this bird swoop in overhead.


But it’s not outside, it’s inside the building enclosure. 


The bird dived in through an open door.


Now it was stuck inside. 


It perched itself on a shelf overlooking the outdoors.


But it was stuck behind the glass walls.


The lifeguard tried to swoop it out with the sticks, brushes, and nets for cleaning the pool.


But this bird wasn’t going anywhere. 


I asked if it was injured or sick.


He said that the bird was scared, which made sense. 


Over and over again, the lifeguard tried to coax the bird out.


Finally, it took flight and headed straight into another glass pane–BONG–and fell down–SPLAT–onto another ledge. 


The lifeguard and I looked at each other — asking whether the bird was still alive or not.


I suggested he call for help, and the advice he was given was just to leave it alone and that eventually, it would find its way out. 


It was time for me to go, but I am still thinking about that trapped bird.


If you love something, you have to let it free.


Everyone and everything should be free (unless they’ve abused that freedom).


Free to come and go, free to express themselves, free to choose, free to act.


Sometimes, when you’re free you run into trouble or into a glass pane.


You need to find your way out and home again to freedom. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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What’s With The Water

Water.jpeg

At this time of some major hurricanes hitting the USA (first Harvey, and now approaching IRMA and Jose)…


I have been remembering from the other day when I was in the pool, but I had a very different experience from usual. 


Yes, I was swimming hard and disciplined doing my laps.


But my mind decided to focus on the water.


Just the water…nothing else. 


I literally blanked out the world around me…no pool, no exercise, no other people, no current events, no random thoughts.


I just put all my senses unto the water itself. 


The cool softness of the water as it glided over my hands and body. 


The subtle resistance of the water, yet the buoyancy it provided. 


The waves and current as the water flowed around my body moving crisply through it.


The healing purity of the water physically and spiritually. 


I imagined the clearest and cleanest water, and how it quenches our thirst and washes everything in the world clean again. 


Water, earth, wind and fire…the wisdom and perfection of them and us cannot possibly be random events, but they are testament to the genius of our Creator. 


Thank you G-d especially for the water in the time, place, and amount that is for a blessing–and as a series of strong hurricanes continue to roar towards your people, let it be merciful. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Water Cross

This was so fun in the pool.


The water was on and it was almost like a really high-speed jet jacuzzi. 


The cool water was rushing at me and splashing in my face and it was a nice moment of relaxation and feeling of life. 


For those who have been to the mikvah, it felt refreshing and like a renewal of spirit. 


Just in jest…when I look at this, I can’t help noticing that it almost looks like Jesus on the cross. 


Except, thank G-d no nails, torture, or Roman Legion involved in this. 😉


(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)

I’m Telling You They’re Really New

Swim Fins

So I ordered a pair of swim fins to replace a pair that recently ripped in the pool. 


I went online and ordered a brand NEW pair. 


A few days later, the fins arrive in an envelope (no box). 


Already sort of terrified at what I will find in this strange bag, I slowly open it up, and find a completely disgusting dirty, scuffed, USED pair of fins with no tags or packaging


Ew…I am so grossed out and contact the vendor right away to return these, but instead of customer service, I got a boat load of b.s. and chutzpah.


They made a million excuses, tried to make me feel bad, and basically refused to provide for a return, saying that the product is not really used, that it just got dirty in the mail and on the trucks and all, and I just have to clean them off a little!


When I question them about why there was no box or packaging, they say, “Oh that, well we take it out of the box, so we can ship it more cheaply for you


I said, “What right do you have to take it out of the packaging when I ordered it new–maybe I want the packaging or need to give the item as a gift?”


Then they go on to give me an ear-full about about the high cost of shipping and that I should thank them for removing the packaging to the keep costs down (but the problem is that they were trying to keep costs down in more ways than one here). 


They continue to berate me as well about how I should be more understanding as to the dirt and scuff marks, since it’s no big deal, because when I put it in the pool, the water and the chlorine will wash it off and kill all the germs anyway!


After patiently taking this abuse for a while, I went online and saw that others had the same experience with this merchant–getting sent used goods in the mail that had been advertised and paid for as new.  


Now I had had it up to HERE, and I promptly did my duty and went online to give them an appropriate customer review to help others from getting cheated like this in the future. 


Guess what happens next? 


They email me to tell me that they took note of my feedback and not that they are sorry about what happened and want to fix it, but that “We will never ship to you again.” 


My wife explodes laughing…mwahahahahaha–like who would ever want to go back and do more business with these crooks. 


People are absolutely crazy out there.


Caveat emptor (buyer beware) a million times.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To Little Jonah

Butterfly

So swimming in the pool, I meet little 7-year old Jonah. 


He sort of made himself known to me when he decided he wanted to race me on the swim board.


I was going just a little faster–and I reminded him that I had a key competitive advantage, fins. 


He said, “Darn I should have brought mine!’


He asked how old I was, and I said a little older than you. 


Not satisfied, he pressed the question, saying “I can tell you are an adult.”


So I had to cave and admit that, and pointing to my heart, added that “I am young at heart.”


Jonah’s in 1st grade, and wanted to know what grade I was in. 


His guess was 4th grade, and I said “That’s about right.”


Jonah is from New Orleans visiting his grandmother for Passover. 


She was watching him in the pool and smiling with grandmotherly nachos, ear-to-ear.


I told Jonah to make sure to treat his grandmother nicely. 


But Jonah at this point had jumped into my swim lane and was in mock superhero fighting mode, and said “I want to punch you.”


I thought to myself, hmm it’s not only my wife that feels that way (LOL).


Anyway, it was clear that I had made a new friend with Jonah, who was off bobbing up and down in the water well over his head. 


Bye Jonah–have a good time visiting for Passover. 


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Popcorn Delight

Popcorn.jpeg

So we made it to Florida, but the plane ride was horrible.

Spent an hour and a half on the tarmac waiting to take off because of “low clouds.”

Is that for real?  

It was raining outside and the damp air and smell on the plane was sickening.

But we made it, and in Florida, it’s always happy and nice–air was warm, the sun was out, and the people were in holiday party spirits. 

Headed straight to the pool and had a great swim–pushed myself even though still woosy from the turbulent flight.

We had a nice dinner and then stopped in this store with amazing popcorn–covered in caramel drizzle and milk chocolate. 

Only in Florida (these were no Cracker Jacks)!

The lady gave me a sample and I passed it off to my daughter and wife–oops, the one with the big chocolate gob fell on the floor.

Then we passed this tattoo place and watched this guy in the widow getting a huge tattoo on his calf of this fantastical women’s face. The lady proprietor tried to convince us to come in–ah, no thanks. 

Next was a bottle of wine for the night and back to the hotel. 

Looking forward to more adventures this week. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Evil Cannot Be In Charge

Skeleton Street Art

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 


Hating and liking. 


For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the “Axis of Evil” and the arch enemy of America and Israel


Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 


Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.


These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 


One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.


The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 


Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 


The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 


I stopped to speak with them, and the man’s wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 


The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 


The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 


I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 


Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 


It’s amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 


On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.


On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.


We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 


As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 


When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)