I Got The Call

ATM.jpeg

I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting what they wanted when they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!” 


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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613 Faith Redux

So between Nov 2015 to June 2016, we were all seeing the mystical number of 613, the number of commandments in the holy Torah. 



Then on June 12, 2016, there was a terror attack in Orlando, which killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. 



We read about this all over the front page of USA Today on 6.13.16  (the date spells 613 in BOTH directions!) 

Then all of a sudden we stopped seeing 613–completely stopped. 



That is until 2 weeks ago.



When out of nowhere we all simultaneously and independently started to see 613 again. 



On clocks, license plates, order numbers, treadmills, everywhere. 



Yesterday, I saw 613 displayed brightly on a warning cone (above) in the roadway!



And today again, an order number received “randomly” for a purchase online ends in 613! 

In Judaism, we are taught that nothing in life is random…everything comes from G-d. 



All I can say is that it is scary to see this–it feels like some sort of warning or message–and we need to have renewed faith in G-d, turn to him, and ask for his mercy. 



In the ongoing war of good over evil, I think it’s certainly a time for extra repentance, prayer, charity, and lots of good deeds. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Hey, Pay Attention

Watch Your Step.jpeg

It’s funny, when the way forward is uneven, broken, or fraught with danger, and someone just puts out a sign (and orange cone) warning you to be careful. 


Sure, it’s the responsible thing to do–protect people from misstepping. 


But even with the largest, loudest warnings, there always seem to be some people who just go right ahead anyway and tempt fate–they step on that 2nd broken stair.


Maybe it doesn’t give way (this time for this person) or maybe it does.


But they are too busy, too much in a rush, or too cocky to pay heed or else they like to play the odds–hey, what are the odds that something will actually happen to “me”?


The more cautious, perhaps smarter folks look for another way–using their ingenuity to go over, under, or around the obstacle in their path–in this case stepping over the broken 2nd step. 


Other may yet be deterred altogether and just turn backwards, giving up on their trek or just stop in their tracks like a deer in the headlights frozen by indecision.


I’d suggest that it is well worth it to take the time to look around you, sense the environment, and make a sound judgement before giving up or stepping stupidly into the ditch, minefield, quicksand, or on the broken step. 


It’s much harder to get out of trouble than to avoid it to begin with. 


I joke with one of my colleagues that they always have time to do things a second time (always!), but because they are rushing, never enough time–or focus–to do it right the first one. 


Watch your step, because some of them of definitely broken. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Guardian Angel Handbag

Gun Purse Gun Purse Warning
So I took this photo of a Guardian Angel Handbag in Florida.



Back in New York starting in the 1970s, the Guardian Angels were a crime patrol often of martial arts practitioners that rode the dark graffitied trains and stood on the corners in dangerous neighborhoods…they eventually went viral in over 130 chapters around the world.



The handbags of same name are made by Dutch label Vlieger & Vandam and are designed with images of engraved guns or large knives.



The tag stitched inside the bag comes with a warning:



“This is an original Guardian Angel. Do not use it for self-defence purposes. The Weapon feature at the front is fake. To avoid any problems: Do not take this bag on a plane as hand luggage and do not take this bag to the bank to pick up cash. Please do enjoy it!”



When you see the bag, you’ve got to ask yourself is a person bold enough to wear a bag like this also is packing one too?



As they say, never show or threaten to use a weapon unless you are really ready to use it. 



So is it a bluff, a fashion statement, or is the person really carrying and very dangerous–care to find out? 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All The Frogs From Egypt

Frog

So what happened to all the swarms of frogs from the Bible when in Exodus, G-d struck the Egyptians with the 2nd plague of frogs (reminds me of the children’s song: “Frogs here! Frogs there! Frogs are jumping everywhere!“)? 


I saw this sticker on a pole in downtown D.C. advertising for this Frog called the Rabb’s Fringe Limbed Tree Frog, where there is just 1 left in the entire world. 


Talking about facing extinction!


And this interesting website called PhotoArk by National Geographic freelance photgrapher, Joel Sartore (noted at the bottom of the sticker) sells all sorts of amazing photos of endangered animal species to promote conservation. 


One of them has his “greatest hits” featured with 90 favorite images and sells for $225–what awesome creatures G-d has created.


I remember reading in the Wall Street Journal how since1970 the world’s wildlife numbers have dropped by more than half (52%)–“in rivers, on land, and in the seas.” 


That is crazy!


Surely, we need to preserve life and create a sustainable future–my G-d, what are we doing to world and these beautiful creatures? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Losing Deadly Control

Skull

So today we hear that there was a horrible mistake in which at least 52 sites (in 18 states here and 3 other countries) were inadvertently sent LIVE anthrax!!!


This after a prior incident in December where ebola had been mishandled and a technician potentially exposed. 


Again last August, they announced that a lab had accidentally cross-contaminated benign bird flu virus with a deadly strain of it. 


And there are at least five other major mishaps just since 2009 including more with anthrax and bird flu as well as with Brucella and botulism–these involved everything from using improper sterilization and handling techniques to inadvertent shipments of deadly live germs. 


Also in July, the CDC discovered six vials of LIVE smallpox in an unused storage room at the NIH.


This is reminiscent of similar gaffes by the military with an inadvertent shipment in 2007 by the Air Force of six nuclear warheads while the crew was unaware that they were even carrying it.


And here we go again (a doozy this time), information was disclosed in 2013 that we nearly nuked ourselves (specifically North Carolina) with 2 hydrogen bombs (260 times more powerful than that exploded on Hiroshima) in 1961. 


Yes, mistakes happen, but for weapons of mass destructions that we are talking about here, there are layers of safeguards that are supposed to be strictly in place. 


After each incident, it seems that some official acknowledges the mistakes made, says sorry, and claims things are going to be cleaned up now. 


But if the same or similar mistakes are made over and over again, then what are we really to believe, especially when millions of lives are at stake?


We have too much faith in the large bureaucratic system called government that despite how well it could be run, very often it isn’t and is prone to large and dangerous errors and miscalculations.


With all due respect for our experts in these areas, we need to spend a lot more time and effort to ensure the safety of our most dangerous stockpiles–be it of nuclear, chemical, biological, or radiological origin. 


We can’t afford any more mistakes–or the next one could be more than just a simple (not) embarrassment.


What good is all the preparation to win against our enemies, if we are our own worst enemy or we have meet the enemy and it is us! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dire Warnings On Cybersecurity

Security Camera
This week Adm. Michael Rogers, the Director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command issued a stark warning to the nation about the state of cybersecurity:



With our cybersecurity over the next decade, “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’ that we are going to see something dramatic.



The Wall Street Journal reports that he gave ” a candid acknowledgement that the U.S. ISN’T yet prepared to manage the threat!”



China and “one or two others” [i.e. Russia etc.] are infiltrating our SCADA networks that manage our industrial control systems, including our power turbines and transmission systems,.



The cyber spies from the nation states are “leaving behind computer code that could be used to disable the networks  in the future.”



Can you imagine…you must imagine, you must prepare–not if, but when. 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)