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)

Old Pool Out, New Pool In

Pool Makeover
So the pool is getting a major makeover. 



That’s what happens when it starts to get some cracks. 



It had to be drained a couple of weeks ago. 



Then they came in with drills and have been ripping up the pool and removing the floor and sides ever since. 



Next up a brand new coat of swimming pool — concrete and tiles. 



Followed by a top-to-bottom cleaning and shining up until it’s spick and span.



Right now it looks so gross, but when it’s done it will be awesome again.



Can’t wait–I need my laps and hydrotherapy. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Golden Retriever Swims Like A Fish

Out on the kayak today with Rebecca in Maryland. 



This beautiful golden retriever named Rudder was playing on the bank and in the water. 



He was swimming and chasing a toy that the friendly owners were throwing way out into the pond. 



On this hot sunny day, this dog was having a blast, and the people seemed to enjoy talking with us about him. 



Overall this was a welcome break from the Dog Days of Summer. 😉



(Source Video: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Fish Mish

I took this video in the aquarium store. 


Just found it so relaxing to watch these fish–swimming this way and that with their fish pals in the nice cool water. 


In the background is the sound of a little waterfall running into the makeshift pond.


Ah, the life of a fish–if you can avoid the nets and the bigger fish–it’s probably not too shabby. 


I remember when my mom used to make gefilte fish for Shabbos, especially the sweet kind in a sliced up roll, and it was delicious. 


For some reason, I remember calling it fish mish–I think because the fish is ground up–and then boiled or baked. 


A nice appetizer–pass the tartar sauce please. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Helpless And Helping

Feet

The following is all true.


So I dreamed last night a scary dream…


I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.


My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.


I could see my legs, but could not move them–at all. 


The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.


I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.


My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:


“Father! Father! Father!” 


I was looking for my dad, and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 


Then, my voice turned and called:


“Father that art in heaven” and repeated this again. 


I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 


Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted–I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 


Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 


As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.


I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 


But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 


Seeing that she was upset and couldn’t do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.


I said, “Why don’t you share with me (there is plenty of room)?”


She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, “It’s no problem.”


And then she went under and did her exercise thing–and we shared.


It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her–she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.

The following is all true.


So I dreamed last night a scary dream…


I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.


My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.


I could see my legs, but could not move them–at all. 


The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.


I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.


My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:


“Father! Father! Father!” 


I was looking for my dad (who I know deeply loved me and vice versa), and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 


Then, my voice turned and called:


“Father that art in heaven” and repeated this again. 


I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 


Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted–I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 


Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 


As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.


I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 


But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 


Seeing that she was upset and couldn’t do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.


I said, “Why don’t you share with me (there is plenty of room)?”


She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, “It’s no problem.”


And then she went under and did her exercise thing–and we shared.


It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her–she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.


Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy–seriously, I did. 


And I thought to myself…Andy, you can learn!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy–seriously, I did. 


And I thought to myself…Andy, you can learn!  😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Now That’s A Plug

Plugs
So I see this young man with these large things in his earlobes. 



I turn to my wife and daughter and ask if they think it would be okay for me to ask him about them.



After the look at him and me a couple of times back and forth, I get the nod, okay. 



First, I had no idea those disks in his ears were called plugs.



(Now I’m a Jewish kid from the Bronx, and to me earplugs are what I use for swimming!)



I asked innocently, “How did you get your lobes that big?”



He then described this process where you start with an earring in your earlobe and over time, you stretch the hole with larger and larger insets.



He had been doing this for 8 years, but confessed that his holes could’ve been much larger by now.



I asked, “Do you ever take them out?”



He told me sure at night, and for showering, swimming, etc. 



Curious, I inquired what he does about the big flappy earlobes when the plugs aren’t in.



The young man said, “It’s no problem….it just hangs there.”



At this point, I thank him for talking with me, but now am laughing at the conversation as I read it over, and happy to be a little innocent and even naive to some things. 😉



 (Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cool Cat

Cat
So yesterday I was coming home from the fitness center/pool.



I was wearing shorts and pool shoes even though it was only in the 30’s-40’s temperature out. 



This large man with a Texas accent stops me to ask how I can dress like that around Winter time.



And it’s particularly funny, because there is another man overhearing this conversation next to us wrapped up in no less than 2 coats/layers.



So I say in a lighthearted way “I guess that I just have warm blood, so the temperature doesn’t really bother me.”



He says, “Uh, in Florida, when it goes into the 60’s, people start shivering and bundling up down there.”



I smile, and say “Well maybe we’re just different people.”



Then he goes, “I like that–I like people that think different! You know why, [and he pauses and repeats again] you know why?”



I look at him sort of eyes wide open at this point waiting to hear his explanation to the build up. 



And he says, “Because it means they don’t give a sh*t what other people think!”



At that point we both started nodding and laughing. 



Maybe you had to be there, but I think you can probably envision this sort of nutty scene.  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)