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My Reaction to the Election Result November 11, 2016

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Politics, Society.
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Over the last few months, weeks really, I finally had to chime in an voice my opinion here. It should not come as much of a surprise that my reaction to the election results includes the feeling of disappointment. But there are many emotions flowing through me in the days since the election results became final. Among them are shock, fear, hope, but disappointment is the one that rains supreme. That word, disappointment, is one that hurts. When my mom would tell me I disappointed her, it is the word that caused me to know what I did or did not do or what I said or did not say that created that feeling in her that hurt her. I never wanted to hurt my mother.

And here we are. In the days since the election, I have struggled, like many Americans to come to terms with this new reality. A man who ran his presidential campaign with wild abandon has been elected and will become our 45th President of the United States of America. I have tried to tell myself that he said things only to stir outrage, start conversations, create media buzz, and, ultimately, to get elected. He has this “problem” where he says whatever is on his mind, stream of conscience, without thinking, without being concerned with how people will interpret his words.

But in the days since the election, I have heard personal stories, like the ones found in this Twitter storyline. Personals stories, friends, co-workers. These stories are NOT okay. This is not okay!

I get that I have different feelings than Trump supporters. We believe our country, our shared nation, should be run in different ways. We can have different beliefs and I can accept that Trump will try different things to “Make America Great Again.” But the statements that the continue to divide us as a nation are not acceptable. WE MUST COME TOGETHER NOW!

I have tried to live my life with the belief that everyone has the right to live their life the way they want. As long as their life and their actions do not infringe on others, we should be able to life peacefully. But we can’t stop there. We need to do things for each other. We need to take care of each other. Each of us have strengths. And each of us have weaknesses. We must use those strengths to raise the capacities of the weak who in turn are using their strengths to improve our weaknesses.

When I was 14, my father passed away from lung cancer. There is nothing I was able to do as I watched his strong body be destroyed by the cancer and chemotherapy. As a freshman in high school, I had to see this cancer up close. When I was 17, my mom introduced me to blood donations. This was a way to give back. In less than an hour, this was a way to help people who are sick or hurt. It felt good. When I was about 31, I got a call from the National Bone Marrow Registry. I was a match for a sick leukemia patient who would benefit by receiving my bone marrow. Though I hadn’t given it much thought, when I donated blood that first time in 1989, I also gave a sample of my blood to be included in the registry.

And a couple of years ago, I was called by the Red Cross and informed that my blood was of a quality that would make blood platelet donations an option. It is almost the same as whole blood donations, though it takes a little more time, it can be done more often and helps more people. (whole blood can be donated every 56 days, while platelet donations can be done every 7 days.) When I learned this, I started to realize this is how I can help people, this is my strength. So now, I donation as often as my schedule allows, a few hours of my time to potentially save the lives of strangers. Seems like an acceptable trade-off.

Now, let’s get back to Trump and his vision of our future of America. One of the things Trump as said from the beginning of his campaign was that he will repeal the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (also known, unfairly, as Obamacare). I don’t know what other things Trump will do, but along with Immigration, Marriage laws, Gun Ownership, Women’s Rights, he is going to change the landscape and direction we have been on for the last several years. I fear these changes. Without a doubt these changes will have a dramatic impact on our lives and those of our children. When you put these changes in the same conversation as the hatred he has instigated and condoned during his campaign, it becomes a scary conversation.

I write these words because I have read Facebook in the last few days and there is still a great divide among us. There is a lack of understanding on both sides. We have elected a new President and we do not know the direction he is going to take our country. This uncertainty results in fear and the fear causes people to lash out. We must restrain our fears, resolve to create our own certainty and stop lashing out. We are ONE NATION, let’s come back together and move forward. But know this, moving forward means, we move forward together, all of us, all of our neighbors, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, White, Black, Brown, Yellow, National, Foreign, Man and Woman. Please! For our children! We must use our strengths and our capacities to make our neighbors stronger. Please Join me in whatever way you can.
Thank you for taking the time to read.

Election Season is over. November 10, 2016

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It seemed like the Presidential campaigns lasted two years and after much divisive rhetoric, the votes have been cast and we have a new president coming. Here is the final counts…
finalvote2016

finalpopvote2016

Trump was right. The polls were wrong. Many people said it in the last week, but I think more than 50% of the nation and probably the world was shocked by this result.

The Election October 16, 2016

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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I have been thinking about this post for some time and finally just need to get it out of my head and off my chest. I feel like this election is sitting on my chest, just suffocating me. I can’t wait for it to be over, but I am so afraid of the outcome. Despite the divisive nature the primaries and fall has taken, I think most Americans agree on one this about this election – There is not a great candidate!

There are two “other” candidates from the Green party and from the Libertarian party, but neither is truly qualified or have enough following to be considered true possibilities. But they do have the power to dilute the votes and make the lesser qualified candidate a potential winner. This is very scary.

The thought of having Donald Trump as our next president of the United States is not only scary, truly frightening; it is also confusing. Sure, I know Ronald Reagan was an actor before moving into public service. But Trump has zero experience in public service. He only knows politicians and has dealt with them for years as it related to his businesses or media career. He has never shown any interest in serving the great good in any way. His entire life has been about serving himself. He has started over 500 companies. He has made billions of dollars, and lost millions of others.

I am so confused by why people think he is actually planning to suddenly turn over a new leaf and started to care about the well being of other people. He only cares about himself. He has not dedicated his life to making the world a better place for people. He has only looked to fill his bank account. He admits this very clearly in many of his speeches. He is very, very rich. And he knows how to use the laws and taxes to his advantage… to HIS advantage. He has not ever said he knows how to use these same laws to help others, only himself.

And when he gets into office, he is not going to know what to do. Again, he has never performed public service in his life. The idea that he is looking to improve the lives of those less fortunate than himself is simply laughable. Unless he plans on printing more money for people (and himself), it is very unlikely people will become more wealthy. The said thing is there are people who think printing more money might actually help them.

I say he does know what he is going to do because he has said as much. His entire primary and candidacy has been based strictly on saying what he thinks people want to hear. He has flip flopped and changed his story to suit his needs and he continually contradicts himself. You can only base his platform from what he said last, since prior to that he easily could have said simply the opposite and people are buying it. I just don’t understand it.

Now, I am not saying Hillary Clinton is a MUCH better option. But she is a BETTER option. She has spent her life serving her community and country. I suspect she could have made millions, or dare I say, billions more in private industry. She went to Wellesley College outside Boston, MA, which is considered one of the top schools in the country. From the beginning she has demonstrated her intelligence – she made her name for herself there and it started with political activism.

Any idea where Donald Trump went to school? He loves to tout that he graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a degree from there. He did graduate from there, but he did not demonstrate his intelligence. He went to Fordham University for his first two years before moved on to Penn, but no one is quite clear how he was admitted there. He does not even appear in the school’s yearbook.

Seriously, can we just be done with this election? We have one candidate that has a lifetime of public service and interest in improving the community and one that is only in it for himself. I agree we need a change. But we need incremental changes. We need to careful with our changes and making the right way. I don’t know what Trump would bring to the White House, but I think it safe to say, he is not ethically equipped to do the job. If we needed someone to sue other countries or shutdown the companies that aren’t turning a profit, I might look to him. But I want a president that will demonstrate political leadership and a general understanding of the world around him, or her.

Please be thoughtful with your vote this year. We only get to pick a new president every four years, and this is certainly the most concerning election I have been a part of. I am afraid for what might come of our country if there is a male president on January 21st, 2017!

How do we find Meaning? September 28, 2015

Posted by shwaldman in Society.
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When I take a break at work, I tend to check my personal email. This often leads me to click links to blog posts and the like. Today, I was led down the path to LinkedIn and articles that members post there. Ironically, after coming across one titled “Here Is How to Get an Extra Hour a Day“, I came across another title that interested me: “How to Find Meaning in Your Career and Life” Eureka, I thought, someone figured it out…

But Alas, it was not so. In fact I found the article so frustrating that I had to comment on it, which I rarely do. The premise of the article was the following statement by Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl:

“The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.”

Now, for me to read this, I have an immediate and opposite reaction than the author and apparently many of the other readers of this post. So, this was my comment:

“I don’t want to be argumentative, but it seems to me that Frankl’s words are useless. If taken to imply that his statements is true for everyone, we are all just trying to help each other with no real progress. It is cyclical with no ending. It does not take into account the unique individual nature of ourselves and our lives. It also implies that we are in a better position than anyone else because we can help them (find their meaning). I am not saying I know how to find meaning, this is MY journey and I was hoping to receive insights in this posting, but alas I did not, only frustration.”

I am not sure why I reacted so strongly. I guess it was just so blatantly a false statement to me that it did not make sense why so many people would see the opposite. After further thought and re-reading it a couple of times, I was able to come to the conclusion that the statement could be modified slightly and made more simple to make it more true. Please share your thoughts if this resonates with you:

“The meaning of your life is to help others.”

Done.

For me, this makes more sense. It leaves it open for the individual to determine their “how” or “what”. The “How” is what we each need to find. It is something I think about regularly. I feel quite lucky to life the live I have. I feel inspired to see other people finding their way of helping others. We can all use help in some way. And I personally think that this is our journey. How will I help other today? Tomorrow? Next week?

BTW – In case you did not click the link and are wondering how you get your 25th hour in your days… stop clicking on useless links and spending hours browsing the web,  😉

This Is Where I Leave You Movie Review September 25, 2015

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ThisIsWhereNetFlix Synopsis: In accordance with Jewish custom, four siblings gather to sit shivah after their father’s death but are soon bickering and renewing old grudges. Brought together for the first time in years, the quarrelsome brood is in for a week long emotional duel.
***
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. Jason Bateman and Kristin Wiig carry the cast of a mishmash cast in a complex story about a dysfunctional family. It is the story of complex love between siblings and with their own spouses.
Jane Fonda plays the crazy mother of 3 brothers and a sister. The acting is solid and the interactions felt true and touching. But it made life seem so much more complicated and left many open questions. It left me feeling like it is easy to love and take care of a home. It felt like Hollywood scripting trying to depict “small town life.” They threw so many cliché situations into the mix that it made my head spin keeping track.
All that being said, it was entertaining and captured my attention to see what was going to happen next. But I would not go out of my way to recommend this one.

Freedom of Speech September 24, 2015

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Where is the line for freedom of speech? There was a 2012 uproar in Michigan was a state representative being banned from speaking on the House floor for saying the word “vagina”. And though it was less publicized, another representative was banned for bringing up male vasectomies.

I don’t understand why adults in the US are so restrictive on what we can discuss and what we can not. In the celebrity world, their personal business is put out there for everyone in the world to dissect. And yet two representatives were silenced after mentioning private parts. Really?

How are we supposed to progress as a society if we can not openly discuss important issues and come to logic solutions? I guess I am naive that politicians are not logical and are not able to separate their personal insecurities with the needs of the people they are supposed to represent. As much as I would have liked to serve my community, it is becoming increasing less desirable to seek office and be a part of the solution. The political world has turned into less about serving the people and more about …. well, I don’t know. I really do not know what most politicians are doing. As an outsider, it does not seem that they are there to serve the people any more. It seems to me they are out to serve their own agenda.

So, the question is raised, if they are going to restrict the topics that can be discussed in service of the voters, at what point, will they begin to further restrict the voice of the people. It seems to be a slippery slope and it is very concerning to me for the future of out society and out children.

I do not know how we will turn this around. Please comment below if you agree, disagree or have something to add to the open conversation.

Big Hero 6 Movie Review September 23, 2015

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BigHeroNetflix Synopsis: In this animated adventure, genius robotics engineer Hiro Hamada finds himself enmeshed in a nefarious scheme to wipe out the city of San Fransokyo. Accompanied by his robot best friend, Hero joins a ragtag team intent on saving the City by the Bay.
***
This an action adventure in animated form. It is not a Series, sixth movie of a franchise. It is a standalone outstanding animation of a boy, his skills and dreams. The story line is great, the morals are great and there is not much else I can say about it.
Think Toy Story meets Die Hard.
It is a fun movie for both kids and adults.

As a side note, my family watched this movie in a theater during a wind storm. When the theater lost power half way through the movie we got passes to come back and watch a movie at another time. Over a month later I got a chance to finish the movie via DVD. The movie was so good and memorable I could pick up right where I left off.

Definitely a top movie of 2014.

The Good Lie Movie Review September 22, 2015

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GoodLieNetFlix Synopsis: In this fact-based drama, a young Sudanese War refugee wins a lottery that allows him to start life anew in the United States. But adapting to his new home presents challenges — both for the “lost boy” and for the American woman who’s helping him.
***
This is a disturbing movie about the realities of war – viewed through the eyes of the children who survived. It is a story of strength, perseverance and pain.It stars Reese Witherspoon and I have to say she is such a convincing and talented actress and matches the character in every role I have seen her in. But the real “star” of this movie is the “Lost Boys”. These kids lived unimaginably hard lives. If you take any part of your life for granted, watching this movie should set you straight.
The biggest lesson in this movie was how naive and ignorant the Americans have been about their suffering. We are all so busy with our superficial lives we have been completely unaware of the turmoil existing in Sudan. I am certainly not removing myself from this category.

The movie is a touching story of sibling love and rivalry and selflessness. I am not clear what gives these kids such strength to overcome every possible obstacle that is put in front of them. The problems we overcome in our daily lives do not remotely come close to the pain they went through. It is hard to say much else. If you are looking for a story to demonstrate how small and insignificant our “first world problems” are, I highly recommend this film.

***
The movie ends with the follow African proverb:

If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.

Planet Money podcast April 19, 2014

Posted by shwaldman in Society, Work.
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Let me introduce you to one of my favorite new podcasts. Planet Money is a NPR show that is a lot like Freakanomics. It covers topics that affect our lives day to day and gives some insights into some aspect pf your finances you might not think immediately about.

In this week’s episode,  they discuss the automotive industry and how we have to pay more for cars because manufacturers have to retool their vehicles to meet both American and European markets.

Planet Money #533

The funniest part of this one was when the VW engineer (inadvertently) called Americans dummies for not always wearing their seat belts.

What do you track? August 8, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Fitness, Society, Technology.
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Before Google Glass came out, people started strapping cameras to their chest and recording their lives. They took pictures of the places they went and the people that talked to. Day after day, year after year…. with the cloud and the low cost of storage it has become very easy to record our lives.

I think I started tracking my life a long time ago. I used to track what I spent, earned and saving in little notebooks. Most people think I was crazy, but now millions of people do not think twice about tracking their finances online using Mint or other online banking tools. I, for one, love Mint.com. Years before the FitBit came out, my wife and I tracked our steps and activity levels using something called a SportBrain. It was one the first electronic pedometers that allowed you view your progress online. Now, we have the FitBit, Nike Fuel Bands, and the JawBone Up all tracking people movement.

Now that I have gone over to the dark side as a smartphone owner, I have started recording more and more different things. I like to think I am maximizing the usefulness of my phone. It is a small computer that is always with me. And it is capable of just about anything. So what do you track?

Here is a little taste of my list:
Gas fill-ups – I have over 50, 000 miles on my current car (ok, it was 52, 909.5 when I filled ip this morning) and I can tell you that I average 21.7 MPG and the average price per gallon has been $3.41. I also try to track the maintenance costs so I know what the total cost of ownership is.
Running – this is a more obvious one since most people/runners do it. I used to use Garmin watches, but recently switched to the Nike+ and Runkeeper apps on my phone (although Nike needs to resolve a problem with the app since it crashes and is useless since the last update!)
Sleep – this is a new one for me. I have been trying out this Sleep as Android app that tracks sleep patterns and tries to wake you up at the right time. I am not sure it works that well for that, but it does tell me I need to get to bed earlier and how restfully I have been sleeping.
Money – since I have done this since I was little this seems like an obvious one to me. Mint is a great tool that will let you track and categorize all your spending and income. It is also help when looking up expenses for taxes or other reasons.
Days Since… things I need to remember. Like when was the last time I put salt in the water softener. When was the last time I gave blood (Today). How about when my phone contract comes due. Easy. This app keeps this list sorted and serves as a good reminder of when things need to get done… yes, my “weekly” WordPress post is 4 days over due.

So what do you track? What do you need to track?