Card Ya

Thought this was novel in the store. 


They have a digital calendar with the date from 21 years ago.


It says:

To Purchase Tobacco Products You Must Have Been Born On Or Before This Date.

 Thank you for showing you I.D.


Ah, easy to match the DOB on the I.D. presented to the date on the calendar.  


Nothing to calculate, no mistakes. 


They raised the age for smoking (cigarettes and vaping) in Maryland to 21 on October 1, so it’s the same requirement as for drinking alcohol.


Luckily for me (even though I’m over 21), I don’t really do either–definitely not the smoking, and the drinking limited primarily to the Kiddush prayer on Shabbat. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Choosing Good Over Vice

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Choosing Good Over Vice.”

But yet, if everyone would just act out on each other based on their unbridled wants and desires, oy vey what a truly terrible world that would be…From uncontrolled desires for food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, honor, money, power, sex, and more–it seems like everyone has their little secret fetish. Whether it’s coming from their head, their heart, or down below…the key questions is how much can they control themselves.


However, inside us, our soul, like the Ten Commandments in the Holy Ark, guide us so that we aren’t just animals chasing game or tail, but are human beings trying to become angels.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Emo Art

So I’ve been wanting to post this example of this special art form from my daughter, Rebecca. 


She makes this novel art called, “EMO”, which stands for emotional.


In this art she mixes children and monsters–and it depicts how innocent kids have to deal with the monsters they find in an often unscrupulous and morally-tarnished society. 


I love the feelings and message of this art in that it encapsulates how children enter this world in purity, but how so many bad people and things around them (and us) can corrupt that. 


I always learned that the goal for each person was to leave the world a better place then the way we found it; however, I think a more personal goal should also be for us to leave here as better human beings than the day we arrived.  


Challenging ourselves–learning and maturing–yet at the same time keeping that essence of decency and integrity of mind, heart, and deed–that is a life where we can grow up, but not turn into the morally-bankrupt monsters that we see all around us. 


(Source Art: Rebecca Ochayon)

What’s Your Vice?

Sins.jpeg

So no one is perfect.


And no matter how outwardly pious the person, everyone inwardly has some hidden (or not so) vice or excess that they must learn to tame.


Here’s a top 23 list:


Substance Abuse

1) Cigarettes

2) Alcohol

3) Drugs


Greed

4) Food

5) Money (e.g. gambling, hoarding)

6) Materialism (e.g. homes, cars, boats, planes, jewels, clothes, etc.)


Obsessive Compulsive

7) Work

8) Sex

9) Popularity (e.g. talking, partying)

10) Religion 

11) Sport

12) Control


Anger

13) Violence

14) Abuse (e.g. verbal, emotional, physical)

15) Rape 


Callous

16) Indifference

17) Tardiness

18) Laziness


Egotistical

19) Selfish

20) Boastful


Crooked

21) Lying

22) Cheating

23) Stealing


Think about the people you know–love ’em or hate ’em–and is there anyone that doesn’t have one of these to some extent or another?


And for those of you wondering, my vice is, of course, pizza! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Guard Your Menorah

Zebra Menorah
This was a funny picture I took of a zebra with the stripes that are in the shape of a Jewish menorah. 



The menorah has a center stem from which to light the branches extending upward to the left and right on the menorah. 



Last night at a Shabbat dinner, someone said something very interesting about keeping G-d commandments and staying innocent and holy.



He said a person face, which has 4 of our senses (mouth, eyes, nose, and ears) is actually like a menorah.



These start at the center of the face and then are emanating upwards and outwards:



– First, the mouth (speech)  is sort of the center stem–and our words needs to be carefully spoken so that we speak nicely to others and not to hurt them with what we say. 



– Second, our nose with 2 nostrils (smell)–we should smell holy things like the sacrifices and incenses to G-d, and not things that make us improperly attracted to worldly impurities, like inappropriate sexual partners, drug, smoking, and alcohol. 



– Third, our 2 eyes (sight)–we need to see the good in others and the world around us, but guard ourselves so that we do not see things that make us want, desire, and lead us astray after falsity. 



– Fourth, our 2 ears (hearing) –we work to avoid hearing “evil speech” about others and instead seek to perceive words of insight, spiritually and growth. 



I would add the following to complete our 5 senses:



– Fifth, our 2 hands (touch)—because if we but lift our hands up to heaven in prayer and servitude to G-d, then we use our sense of touch for helping rather than hurting people. 



So while this zebra has a menorah on his side, we have it built into our very faces and bodies. 



And with a little effort, we can use all our senses for doing good, and guard ourselves from the otherwise seemingly natural impulses to do otherwise.  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rape Crisis Nation

Rape Crisis Nation

I’ve been wanting to capture this in a photo for some time.

I took this picture from a moving Metro train and one with incredibly dirty windows at that.

It is the phone number for a 24-hour rape crisis hotline.

Underneath the phone number is a picture of a hand picking up a telephone to call.

It is written as graffiti on the wall facing the train tracks.

And around it are radio towers, telephone polls, what looks like transformers, and a barbed wire fence.

It is quite an ominous setting for the ad placement.

To me, rape is one of the most horrendous and brutal crimes.

Ironically, it physically and emotionally violates a person through the very means that most people make love and life.

My first exposure to rape was in the opening scene to the movie Death Wish, where Charles Bronson’s wife and daughter are brutalized–I saw this movie as a little boy and it left a huge imprint on me.

Over the course of my life, I have known people who have been both raped and molested and it changed them forever.

I found these rape statistics online, and even though rape is down 60% since 1993, 1 out of every 6 women in this country experiences a rape or attempted rape at some point.

Also, it means that 20 years ago, the percentage was about 26% or 1 out 4.

The Atlantic-2 years ago–reported similar numbers with 18.3% of women who were raped or where rape was attempted.

Honestly, I think the numbers may even be higher, since so many cases go unreported, and according to the American Medical Association is one of the most unreported crimes.

The numbers are outrageously high for a western, modern, civilized country or any nation!

What is even more shocking is that the U.S. is listed as the 6th highest country for reported rape.

Perhaps a large part of this is because we report more frequently in this country, but also maybe because we are more free and affluent and thereby, people are able to partake of vices such as alcohol and drugs, which are associated with sexual violence.

Rape is a horrific act and in medieval times, the crime of rape was often punished with castration or even death.

In Death Wish, Bronson became a semi-crazed vigilante and sought out his own form justice.

Today, in real life, we provide the victims a hotline number to call and the rapists–if they even get reported–and caught, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced–may get some time or not, who really knows, but we should all care.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

That’s Not Window Dressing

That's Not Window Dressing

I remember as a child, the nursery rhyme that went something like–“How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggly tail.”

Now, it’s not dogs or even mannequins in storefront windows, but people–looking for work.

The job market and people’s self-esteem has gotten so miserably low that they are resorting to displaying their jobs skills or just sitting and looking pretty in storefront windows in an attempt to get attention and get offered a job–or as my mother-in-law says in this humorous way, spelling out each letter, a J-O-B.

In the picture at the top of this post, you can see one guy in the storefront window of the art studio bending wire–presumably for that long artistic piece behind him.

However, it’s not even just starving artists anymore taking this up as a marketing opportunity, as the Wall Street Journal (8 May 2013) reports–regular jobless folks in professions from lawyers, to tax experts, and even former CEOs are having to bare themselves in public displays to try and land a job offer.

Those who have been unemployed for months and years are becoming desperate for work as one unemployed political scientist states, “I’m willing to try anything.”

Despite it being so degrading that he “feels like a monkey…in a cage as people walk by and just stare at me.”

Assuredly, it is a sad commentary on society when people looking for jobs and to earn a basic income are treated literally like animals in cages to be examined, made fun of, or even marveled at in a strange sort of way.

Historically, in red light districts, scantily clad women have been exhibited behind glass enclosures to lure customers and money, but as most people would say “That’s the sex industry!”–however, what starts off as okay for the such social vices ends up by extension as the new normal for our educated, white collar workers.

Never-the-less, some employers are taking notice–they see these window displays of professionals, not as loafers or weirdoes, but as go-getters and even sometimes highly creative based on the sophistication of their window displays–with them in it.

In the picture, the guy in the window with his feet up, glasses off, and soda bottle on the floor behind him is making a marketing statement about himself, but I’m not sure I would hire someone based solely on the callouses, corns, and bunions on their feet. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)