Smoke ‘em Peace Pipe
This was a funny picture that I took on A1A in Fort Lauderdale.
Who climbed up there and put that in his mouth? (Not me!)
And that red cone in front makes it look like a real smoking emergency.
Also, the Indian looks sick from smoking that thing.
Maybe a good ad for people to kick the habit.
But where would you put the nicotine patch? ;-)
Amazon Delivery - By Crunk-Car, If You Like
Jeff Bezos of Amazon is one very smart guy and when he announces that he is interested in drones delivering your next online order that makes for a lot of grandstanding.
But really how is a dumb drone delivering an order of diapers or a book so exciting.
Aside from putting a lot of delivery people at USPS, UPS, and FedEx out of work, what does the consumer get out of it?
Honestly, I don’t care if if the delivery comes by Zike-Bike, Crunk-Car, Zumble-Zay, Bumble-Boat, or a Gazoom, as Dr. Seuss would say—I just care that it gets here fast, safely, and cheaply.
Will a drone be able to accomplish those things, likely—so great, send the drone over with my next order, but this doesn’t represent the next big technological leap.
It doesn’t give us what the real world of robotics in the future is offering: artificial intelligence, natural language processing, augmentation of humans, or substitution by robots altogether, to do things stronger, faster, and more precisely, and even perhaps companionship to people.
Turning surveillance and attack drones into delivery agents is perhaps a nice gesture to make a weapon into an everyday service provider.
And maybe the Octocopters even help get products to customers within that holy grail, one day timeframe, that all the retailers are scampering for.
It’s certainly a great marketing tool—because it’s got our attention and we’re talking about it.
But I’ll take a humanoid robot sporting a metallic smile that can actually interact with people, solve problems, and perform a multitude of useful everyday functions—whether a caregiver, a bodyguard, or even a virtual friend (e.g. Data from Star Trek)—over a moving thingamajig that Dr. Seuss foresaw for Marvin K. Mooney. ;-)
Life, Cartoonish And Not
Strange day, starting with these cartoon characters standing on the street waving to everyone.
And they say texting while driving is distracting — what’s this?
Some other weird things:
- At a food store, saw an argument between an Asian customer and a Spanish-speaking cashier—they were arguing over something as silly as an orange juice, but what made this especially comical was because of the language barrier, each was getting more and more frustrated, until they both sort of gave up, and the customer storming out saying he was never going there again.
- At the rehabilitation facility, spoke to a couple where the husband—age 88—was there “unexpectedly” for the last two months after a relatively minor surgery. The wife—age 79 (married 60 years)—was visiting him every day. She said that they had never been really sick before, and that when he got out, they were going to visit their other condo in Florida and resume their regular, favorite hobby of ballroom dancing.
- A nurse assistant, from Sierra Leone, told me how he had escaped the bloody civil war there that left 50,000 people dead. He described how the rebels would overrun the villages killing everyone as he pointed his finger saying “boom, boom” and making slashing movements as if holding a knife or machete—and that many from his family were murdered. He described how he had escaped to neighboring Guinea and from there called his uncle in America who helped get him here, but the price was that he had to leave his family—a wife and two children behind. He said in the last 11 years, he was able to visit them only once in 2008 for a couple of weeks, and at the end of this month, he was finally able to go back to bring them to America.
I wondered how very different our lives are—and how some people suffer with war, poverty, illness, and loss, while others are vacationing and dancing into their 90’s. I’m not judging or implying anyone as good or bad—especially since all these people seemed very nice—but these events reminded me of a Jewish saying about the conundrum of the seeming righteous people that suffer and the wicked that prosper—and that only G-d is The Judge, who knows who is really righteous and wicked, what they really deserve, and that some people get rewarded in this world, while others in the world to come.
Either way, I hope G-d has mercy on us, so we don’t suffer, and have much more happy dancing times and less to none illness, poverty, and fighting.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Adaptability and Integrity in the Face of Catastrophe
The Walking Dead is the #1 TV show—and this past Sunday was just amazing not only in terms of the plot, but the lessons it provided.
The big question raised was can people change?
The Governor went through a seeming metamorphosis after the destruction of his prior town and murder of his people (by his own hand) and now he has a newfound family and tribe.
When he comes to attack Rick and the prison to take it for the protection of his own people, Rick says let’s just share it, it will be hard to overcome old rivalries, but we can do it—we can change!
But the Governor, yells in a blood curdling voice, “Liar!” and proceeds in a craze to chop off Hershel’s head.
What is particularly dramatics about this—aside from their opposing views of change—is that Hershel is the doctor who not only takes care of the physical health of his people, but also is the conscience of his group seeing that they don’t lose their moral way.
The Governor is a cold killer that truly can never change—and he not only executes Hershel, but screams “Kill them all!”
He also kills his newly adopted daughter after she is bitten by one of the walkers..he shoots her right in the face.
At first, this seems like the Governor has changed, he can kill a Walker even if it’s from his new family, as opposed to his own real daughter that he kept (unwilling to let her go) until Michonne kills her.
But this was not real change for the Governor, because as he told Hershel about attacking and killing someone else’s children to survive, “they aren’t mine!”
The Governor is all about himself and will do anything selfishly to survive without consideration of others—this does not change.
On the other hand, Rick and others survive by their ability to change and grow—they kill when they must, they have empathy when they can, they live by a code of right and wrong—in every situation, they adapt.
For example, in a prior episode, Carol is forced to leave Rick’s group because she brutally killed and burnt two of people in the prison when they got sick and were a threat of spreading the disease. However, Rick understood that this was wrong and banished her for what she did. Not all killing is justified, even if it helps you survive.
The Governor (and his new cohorts) are finally killed off in this episode, and although the safety of the prison is gone, and Rick and the others must leave and wander again, they continue to survive another day—changing with ever new challenges and adhering to an informal code of conduct that they maintain, even in the face of a world catastrophe.
(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Skiing The Rainbow
After the rain stopped finally, we got to go jet skiing off the Ft. Lauderdale beach.
The waves were insane though…
The instructor tells us, “Oh be careful, because the waves can turn the jet ski over—especially when you’re coming in and out—and it weights 900 pounds!”
Trying to get on this thing with the sand shifting under my feet and the waves making this thing flip up like a bucking bronco—let’s just say that I had more than a few second thoughts.
But for my daughter’s sake, we went forward—BTW Rebecca, you were very brave and I thank you for making me do these things and come out of my comfort zone.
It was a scary, but amazing time, and a spectacular rainbow came out for the event (in fact, it was a double rainbow, which I had never even heard of).
Being a bunch of city kids, this was an awesome sight for us.
Thanks to my wife for taking the short video of our journey today, and thank you to G-d for bringing me to this moment.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Me and Wilson
This was a Monkey Mudslide.
The cup is my favorite—it’s happy and says at the bottom, “Have Fun.”
The drink was this combination of Malibu Coconut Rum, Coffee Liquor, Bailey’s, and Chocolate and Cream.
OMG, do they give free refills on this stuff? ;-)
Ok, this wins the prize for the stupidest holiday gift.
It comes from Brookstone, and it’s sand.
Yes, really—98% sand and 2% polymer to make it “soft and stretchy.”
You can get one jar of sand (12 ounces) for $14.99 or be even more stupid and buy 2 jars for $25.
Just imagine all the fun you can have playing with the sand, and you don’t even have to go to the beach or the dessert.
The bus fare or gasoline you save on the trip pays for this glorious sand in probably just one or two visits.
This is truly Pet Rock redux, where this guy sold 1.5 million rocks at the holiday time in the 1970’s and became a millionaire.
It’s amazing the marketing and branding brilliance behind this.
Imagine, you can sell rocks and sand and there are millions of people that actually take this seriously and buy it.
Next up, bottled flatulence (ok, I’ll just say it…farts!) ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Like That Scarf
After having lunch with good friends, we’re doing the Black Friday thing today.
Found this awesome scarf on Las Olas.
It is handmade and made up of this individual squares of beautiful fabric.
The store also had these gorgeous ties in a similar design.
Prices for the scarf was something like $395.
I admired, but wasn’t insane enough to buy. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
The Sony Wig Nut
Sony has so missed the mobile technology revolution.
In desperation, Sony has filed a patent for the SmartWig.
How incredibly useful (uh, not)?
Your faux hairdo can dial your hairdresser and make your next appointment for you.
It can locate via GPS the nearest salon.
And the SmartWig can even take selfies while you admire yourself in the mirror.
While Sony is goofing around again, and hasn’t had a hit since the to die for Sony televisions of yore (and let’s not forget the Walkman from 1980s), Google is moving out with bravado on Glass.
Google is getting display space for Glass in eyeglass retailers, and working with opticians to make prescription lens eye-Glass.
Let’s just say one company gets wearable technology and the other is hiding under wigs in The Technology Hall of Shame.
Then again, one customer may be interested in talking with Sony—the CIA for undercover operations.
Maybe a Smart Groucho Marx mustache that automatically shakes out the soup after you eat would be a cool new product, as well—go for it Sony!
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Annetta)
A Dangerous Game of WMD
According to ArmsControl.org—in 1994, we reached a historic “agreed framework” with North Korea to “freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program.”
In return, the U.S. would phase out economic sanctions, North Korea would be supplied with 500,000 tons of fuel oil annually, and South Korea would build two lightweight reactors for them.
Fast forward just a decade—by 2005, North Korea declares that it has indeed manufactured nuclear weapons, which are then on display for the world in a nuclear test in 2006.
Today in the Washington Post, we herald another historic deal, this one with Iran that “freezes key parts of their nuclear program.”
In return, Iran gets relief from economic sanctions.
Yet, even now as we celebrate this historic agreement, the Iranian President is not dismantling but rather demanding the right to keep their atomic program.
Moreover, just last week, according to USA Today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog” amid chants of “Death to America!”
Online, The Diplomat confidently says this time is different, “Iran is not North Korea,” because “Iran is cosmopolitan” and “prides itself on international engagement.”
Yet, according to PBS, The Islamic Republic of Iran is far from both of these with a “Supreme Leader who exerts ideological and political control over a system dominated by clerics who shadow every major function of the state.”
And Amnesty International writes that Iran has a history of “widening crackdown on dissent that has left journalists, students, political and rights activists, as well as clerics languishing in prisons.”
Lest we forget, that Iran is the country that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, threatened to annihilate Israel, denied the Holocaust, asserted that the U.S. itself was behind 9/11, and is the “most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.
Oh, how very cosmopolitan!
While we all would hope and pray for a sincere and lasting peace with Iran, this agreement seems to spell a deja vu world of scary WMD cat and mouse, all over again.
(Source Photo: here)
Six Dimensions Of Personal Health
There was a wonderful interview in the Washington Post with leadership expert, Bob Rosen.
One of the things that Rosen says is that there are six dimensions of personal and professional health that are vital to leadership.
I have taken these and created with my own photos, a little graphic to remind me of them.
The six dimensions (with my definitions) are:
I like how each of these is a a distinct contributing element of one’s overall health, but also come together to form a coherent whole of human health.
When all six dimensions are in good health, then a person has the foundations to live and excel.
However, when one or more elements are not being properly taken care of or are out of balance with the others, then a person will not have the ability to maintain or advance themselves.
Self-awareness and a commitment to doing your best in all six areas will help you grow as a person and leader.
(Source Graphic and Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
Listening and Blessings
Two reflections from this week:
1. Listen to understand:
I heard a colleague talk about the importance of listening. There wasn’t really anything new about that, except he went on to say, “Listen to understand, not to refute or resolve.” The more, I thought about this, the more brilliant I realized this was. How often do we either not really listen to the other person? And when we do listen at all, aren’t we most of the time jumping to either refute what they are saying or resolve their issue? The key though is to listen to understand. Ask questions. Get clarifications. Only once you really listen to the other person and understand what they are saying, can you begin to address the thoughts and feeling they are expressing to you.
2. G-d Blessed You:
Usually when I see people asking for help/money on the streets, they have signs—handwritten, often on cardboard or the like—that says something about their plight. Perhaps, they are homeless, lost their job, ill or disabled, have kids to support…and they are asking for your help and mercy. At the end of the sign or if you give them some change or a few dollars, they say thanks, but also “G-d bless you” in the future tense. And this is really nice to get a blessing in return for some basic charity and kindness. However, there is one poor person begging in downtown D.C., and he says it differently. His sign asks for help and says, “G-d blessed you” in the past-present tense. First, I thought maybe this was just a grammatical mistake, but then I realized what he was saying. G-d blessed you, so please give back to others. This wasn’t a thank you wish to the other person, but rather a reason that you should give to begin with. Recognize how fortunate you are (and maybe you don’t even necessarily deserve it), but G-d blessed you, so have mercy and give to others.
Hope these reflections mean something to you the way they do to me, and have a good weekend everyone!
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Nasty Flu Shot
I took my daughter for a flu shot last evening.
We went through the typical drawn-out paperwork and long wait to get something so routine.
When the medical practitioner finally arrived with the flu shot, there was a little baggy with all the acoutrements including alcohol wipe, band-aid, cotton, etc.
As the lady starts taking out the items to get ready for giving the shot, she drops the cotton on the floor.
She picks it up quickly, and pretending we didn’t see, she quickly throws it back on the medical tray.
Now I am watching…
She open the band-aid and places it at the ready on the side.
Then she get the syringe AND the cotton that had just fallen on the floor, ready in hand.
As she is about to give the shot, I say, “You’re not going to use the cotton on my daughter that just fell on the floor, are you?”
Her eyes look askance and she throws the cotton back down on the tray, and says, “Oh, of course not.”
I spoke with my daughter afterwards about this as it was hard to understand how a medical practitioner could on one hand, be administering a helpful medicine to a patient, and at the same time, was about to use a dirty cotton on the wound afterwards.
What happened to people actually caring about people and taking pride in the jobs they do, rather than just being in it for the paycheck only?
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sun Dazed)