Category Archives: Uncategorized

When climbing a mountain, you have to look down…

For the longest time, I have been told that I need a bucket list.   For years I kept one, list all the things that I have not done yet, all the things that I want to do, places I wanted to go, and things I wanted to see.  In fact, there was a movie about it that I watched.   But, every time I looked at the list, I was often bummed, about the things I wouldn’t do, places I may not get to go etc.  It was like I was a prisoner of things that could not be done.

When my wife passed away in May of 2017, it hit even harder.  We were planning things that we would do together, and not just for the long-term future, but for things we wanted to do in 2-3 years.   All those plans now lost, never to be done, and if I spend too much time, I start to really feel bad that it will never happen.

What took me some time to realize, it is not what we didn’t do, but all the things we did.  We should have kept a list of where we went, what we did, who we met etc.   Many people have maps or globes with pins of all the places they have been, this is the idea.  When people take pictures with their phones, post on social media or share, they are creating this list.  The key is to somehow organize it so that you can review it once in a while.    If you spend all the time looking at what you do not have or have not done, you will not be as happy as looking at all that you succeeded.   I hate that it took the loss of Sheila for me to realize all the places we went, the things we did, and the time we spent.

What is strange that I talk about looking down the mountain at work.  As stated before I manage a lot of IT projects, which seem to never end.  As developers, we are always looking at what features are next, what system is next to build etc.  In the late 90s, we used to give lexan mementos for releases.  It was the age of excess we spent money often poorly, but in hindsight, this was actually something that was important. It was celebrating milestones.  The sad thing, was once budgets were cut, one manager thought to celebrate it by creating a tombstone one.  We all laughed, but looking back, those little paperweights probably meant more in morale-boosting than many other things being done.

On large projects, I now remind my developers to look down and what we achieved, I take them to lunch to thank them and want them to know that no matter how much work lies ahead that we need to celebrate what we have completed.   There will always be new features to do, new systems to build, and another mountain to climb.  If you don’t look down and celebrate what you have achieved, as well as enjoy the view, you will miss enjoying what you got into IT for, building systems.

So in life, and in work, it is important to remember to not just look forward, but look behind.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do with my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there are no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities I care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

History will be written by Disney….

Well not just Disney, but whoever is making “bio-style” pictures, and/or whoever writes the most compelling story.   Why do I say this?  Simple, I sat down late one night to catch a movie before crashing, and it was “Rudy.”  Rudy is one of those movies I love to watch, and one that is “based” on a true story.   Well, the fact it is based on a true story many people believe it is somewhat accurate.

Take the climactic scene where Rudy’s teammates are willing to give up their spot in a game to allow Rudy to dress in their place.   This scene which seems to validate all the hard work and the talk he was given about doing the right thing.  But, it never happened.  In fact it was the head coach at the time Dan Devine who thought the right thing to do was for Rudy to dress in that game.  That decision, if it made the movie would probably be less climactic, and maybe the movie wouldn’t be as good.  Those thinking I am not telling the truth a link here – – as well as checking Wikipedia will surface the same information.

But what does this movie have to do with History?   Well, this is parallel to what has happened in all of history.   All of the history lessons we have been taught, everything in books etc. have been written by someone.  And that someone will have the decision on what they choose to portray.  This includes facts they choose to omit and twist they would like to have.  What we end up learning is no more than one view of the truth.   The bigger mistake we ask children to memorize these inconsistencies and grade them on whether they can regurgitate them.

Where is the proof?  Well let start with Christopher Columbus, start here some a great listen – – “For centuries, Columbus was a historical footnote. But that changed in 1828, when Washington Irving, the writer of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other tall tales, wrote the first English-language biography of Columbus.” – So the author of the Sleepy Hollow chose to make Columbus into an Italian hero.   Thanks to Adam Ruins Everything for bringing this to light.

But this is not the only gaff – Our history lessons are riddled with it. There are books like “Lies my teacher told me,” most of the episodes of Adam Ruins everything,  and all to let us know things like Vikings never wore horned helmets.  The question should be asking is why we allow this.  I have written before about how I thought the internet was supposed to make the world better and hoping that sites like Wikipedia allow history to be properly detailed as we won’t rely on a single author to present their one-sided view of the facts.  I also hope that that site and others will allow multiple versions of what happened.  As looking through a war on the side of the victor is not always the right version.

I have constantly asked in my blog for you to become a better person, one simple way is to question what you read, see etc.   If you see a bio-pic, dig in to see what is true and what was left out, or changed.  So the next time you watch Apollo 13 you will realize there were very few inconsistencies, and none that would ruin the move –

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do with my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there are no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities I care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

What I learned playing chess as a kid…

As a kid, I was unfortunately injured playing football.  Yes it was a head injury, and no they really didn’t know what to do at that time (it was the 70s.)  I will dig more into that story some other time, but it’s not the point of this post.  My parents got me into some other activities as I was a very “active” child.  One of the games they had my play was chess.  Being the over aggressive child, I would play at the speed of hockey, not chess.  I was attacking, and pushing the pace.  It worked many times, as most of the people I played were not “experts”

I never got great at chess, my parents got me the book “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” and I read it, to some point.  But it had a lot of what I at the time thought was too much thinking and strategy, I was 12, and I wanted to win quickly.  The more and more I played, the more I realized that I did not know everything.   I learned the first from a movie,   I watched “Searching for Bobby Fischer” (Great movie by the way), and it put me back to my Bruce Lee thoughts, that a mix of aggressive style and traditional style (no style as style) led young Josh to victory.  That learning was the one key to life.  That no “one way” is perfect, and to reach the top you must learn all different ways something can be done.

The second key thing was understanding how to move backward and sideways, not just forward.  Many times in life, I had to reset, make a change or do something that wasn’t going straight forward.  The road I took was not in a straight line, and it was not a perfect resolve like a half-hour sitcom  Being able to make changes, understand you have to move in different directions to reach your goal is something that I should have learned earlier, but itis something that I have lived.   My late wife I convinced to change career paths, with my daughter her sport of choice is one that was just a side diversion, and for me, I changed jobs not so long ago.   All were turns, u-turns, and walking down different paths.  I don’t know many people who had a simple straight line and go to where they are going, knowing it is going to be full of turns, get in a sports car and enjoy the ride.

Maybe all kids should learn chess in school….

I wanted to protest and complain….

But I realized the problem was me, I need to change. And why I wanted others to make the change, was more that I did not have the strength to do it myself on my own, and didn’t think that one person making a change could make a difference. Buy asking for the world to change its laws, I was making it ok for me to act how I am acting, instead of doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing has many meanings, and if you change your point of view can vary. Doing what is best for me personally, could hurt someone else (non or intentionally), the community, the country or even the earth. So when I make decisions, the question is who am I making them for, and can I really start change. If I make changes to what I do, do I shout them from the highest mountain top (ok post it on social media) or just quietly go about making the change.

A simple story I have told before, about 15 years ago NJ changed so you can select your “energy” supplier. One of the choices was to get energy from renewable resources, albeit a higher price. It was not that much higher at the time. I chose that I could afford it and that it was the right thing to do (not for my finances it was more expensive) so I signed up. I asked a few people over the different political spectrum and got a lot of “I want the government to mandate it, this way everyone had to do it”. But to me, you had a chance to change. I almost look at home recycling as the same, I see a lot of people not put anything out, and others loaded bins. I can give my old friend Bill a break he found a use for everything, but he was unique. ‘The question is what are we waiting for? We have some of the ways to do the right thing in front of us.

Now I don’t think if you don’t do everything, you are a loser, more to say pick the things you think are important, and what you can or think you can add value, and then see what progress can be made. If everyone made one change, just one change, we could have a massive push for the positive.

I also don’t think this is an environment problem, its a financial problem, a social problem, a political problem, a health problem… you name it, there is a lot of problems, and it’s not a champion of all, but basically just a small change for the better. Do you wish there more local stores, well shop at one, do you want better schools, run for school board. The power is with us not with our elected officials or others we want to blame. If we want to blame what is wrong, and we want to change, I think its time we just did it ourselves. Don’t wait for heroes, do it yourself, you have the power.

Heroes and what happens when we find they are not perfect.

I have always looked at people who carry themselves in a certain manner.  Those who walk with confidence, don’t seem to have an insecurity in the world.  These famous people who are idolized, seem to be untouchable.  I always wondered why can’t I be like them, why do I feel so insecure, why do I have some demons that are on my mind.  But as I dig deeper there are stories of my Heroes and see they have fought demons and some that brought them down.  A few months ago I watched a documentary on Bruce Lee, well it was more a detailed autopsy.  They were trying to find out “why he died.”   Low and behold, the most likely reason was he was addicted to certain types of drugs, which although helped him be as leans as he was, but caused other issues.  It was not an allergic reaction to migraine medication.

Recently in the news, I have seen more people who were “stars” fall out of the sky.   It started making me think, what to do with all these fallen heroes, and the confidence they walked around with is more of a facade.   Now comparing demons to people who did horrible things is not what I am talking about.   But those who seem to find themselves losing the wars with their problems.

A few years ago, we often joked about the NFL, and how many of them were finding themselves in legal trouble.  I quick check of Congress and the Senate, and many of them have been caught doing illegal things.  If you look, we are often hunting for the worst in people, whether it be our heroes, or even more our villains (Who can be other people’s heroes,)    I had a coach once tell my daughter, it is not what you do when people are looking, it is what you do when people are not.   I think some of these people are learning, there isn’t a time when people are not looking.

But now to look at the title…   What to do when we find out they are not perfect.   To me learning Bruce was not perfect was something i knew already.   It didn’t change the way that I felt about him, as I still use his sayings for motivation, and to try to get better.  A heroes faults should not define the good they do.   You as the one who puts someone up as a hero, have the choice what to think.  All Heroes in movies/comics have a weakness, many are flawed, which is intentional.   We often still think they are heroes, people have not stopped watching superhero movies, in fact, we are inundated with them.

Separating the hero good traits from their flaws is what we need to do.  And not idolize the person, but the traits that we want to have.  Our goal should be to find a way to add those traits to our own lives and have others look up at us, and something to strive for..   I hope all the things that hold me back, the things I fight every day I can overcome, and I hope others can find the same…



I am not unique… But at least I have a plan… and another plan…

Growing up I was given the usual story from my parents, that i was unique, i was special… That i could do anything I put my mind to.  The world was my oyster, and only hard work stood between myself and success.   In fact that generation then imposed that will over the years and changed the landscape as much as they could.   The US was a superpower, and nothing was going to hurt us, hell we upset the Russians in hockey in 1980, what could go wrong.

Now that isn’t to say there were a true few who were special and stood out.   But it wasn’t everyone who stood out, and it was not everyone who was born for stardom.   The question became, then what was I born to do, what my plan, what was I destined to do (if you believe in destiny)  And also, what do I say to my kids, who want to be something/someone.    It has been 50 years of my life, and guess what, I still do not know the answer to any of those questions.

I really thought from a young age, the story we were told was true, go to college, get a degree, get a job, have a career and a family, and you will be happy.   My path was never that straight forward, I didn’t think I was ready for college when I went, I had no idea of my disability (more on that on other writings) and no Idea what the difference between success and failure was.  My younger life was filled with setbacks and tragedy, that a family motto was “It is only a minor inconvenience”  Please note, this was used to describe my sister battling cancer.

Now before I get the “oh poor you…” do not bother, because it was a part of my daily life, it didn’t bother me.  I knew what I had to do, i had figure out what it was to survive.  One of the best stories I remember was I came home from school/tennis practice and in front of my house was a fire truck and several police cars.  I walked past all the people into the house to make my dinner and get on with my evening.    When my parents asked why i didnt ask what was going on, I said I saw them, figured my brother did something, and figured they would tell me later.

I think at this age, I should have ruled out making plans, that someone was trying to tell me, that we are going to throw curve balls at you, no matter what you do.  I still set my sights on going to school (Carnegie Mellon) working in AI and getting a job etc.   Well most of you know my life story, I did not follow that path directly.  And every time a curve ball came, and came up with a new plan.  I felt like Pinky and the Brain trying to take over the world, just the plans were more realistic in my mind.   And as each one failed, I guess I should have been more phased that I was, I usually freaked out for a while, then figured another plan.

Up until May of this year, I thought what I had was great plan.  I married the perfect person for me,   We had 2 beautiful daughters, and were planning out life after they left the house.    My Wife unexpectedly passed away, and again I was stuck trying to figure out what the next plan is going to be.   Its Five months later, and I am taking it to day to day.  I have a sorta plan, just a plan to get thru the next few months.  For the first time I have not planned out to the future.  It is not that I dont want to, but for the first time I think the lesson I never learned was that don’t plan to far ahead, instead dream and try to make your dreams come true.  Between those two there is a fine line, but they are different.

And the second lesson I learned over the last few months, is that I am not unique.  I knew this, but what i didnt know was how hard everyone I know lives have been. How they have overcome a lot.   Many of my friends who became doctors were told, they wouldnt make it as a Dr, many paths were just as wiggled as my own.  And when someone tells my Samantha she wont make is as a Doctor, my response has been, lets talk to a few, and let them tell you what they were told.  The typical response, they were told “do something else, you dont have what it takes” …   When Ariel is told she is too small to be an athlete, I tell her “Prove them wrong”  “Stuff it in their faces…” and in many cases she does.   Just ask the Colonials a few weeks ago.

Maybe at 50 years I do know the answer, and I do know what to say…    And maybe people should take a quick look around, the journey for many has not been easy, and maybe since we are in this together we should look at becoming better people, and help each other a little more.    I know I try to do the best I can, and hope others are willing to do so.


I thought the Internet was going to be better….

I was incredibly lucky growing up, that my parents encouraged my use of computers.  They bought me one when i was barely in my teen, and even bought me a modem (Micromodem IIe for those who know what that is) –  I had access to a whole world of people who were like me.  It was a great experience exploring.  Soon services like CompuServe, Genie, Prodigy were around.  I got access to them all.  To me the world seem smaller, I was in this bubble that no one in my town really had access to it, and I was  interacting with adults and kids  who had this privilege.

Fast forward to being an adult, and hearing about the internet.  I do not remember the exact day i went from using connected services to dialing up with Netcom (my ISP) and searching the internet, but what I did see happening, was what I thought was the new normal.  HTML was not hard, it didnt take a rocket scientist to do make a page.  Anyone could have a voice, the playing field was the same, NYTimes was on par with John/Jane Doe.   Now it would take years before everyone could get online, but once they did it was going to be wonderful.  A new generation of people could speak their mind freely.

What I didn’t know, is that if everyone has a voice, everyone has a voice.  That is good, bad  etc.   I have written previously about sunlight being the best disinfectant.  My hope when I wrote that was that given people the ability to shine  their real colors would shine, and people would see them for what they are, good and/or bad.  The same on the internet, if people posted something that was truly off color, and really bad, that they would be exposed.  The collaborative internet would shut down hate, violence and all the “bad stuff.”

I think what has done is closer to the opposite.   It has given a voice to the negative, and allows them to find like minded individuals and amplify their voices.  Although that voice maybe in the minority, enough people agree to make it more like a megaphone.  Now of course to me amplification of voices sometimes is a good thing, like when people are truly oppressed.  But now the same amplification to hate, this really doesn’t make for a better society.   What I never expected was how this would all surface, and it is probably because I don’t understand it.

I have mentioned before how privilege I am, as well as most of the people I know are in the same boat.   Now I don’t mean in the way some will think that have a beach house, multiple luxury cars etc. My privilege was more how  I was raised and what i was able to learn as I grew up.   I was able to understand many sides of the story, gain empathy for my fellow people, and eventually understand my own ignorance to gain wisdom.   To me that is a whole world of privilege.  I don’t fear being wrong, and although sometimes i struggle through it, eventually I can change.

Now, please do not take this as defending anyone who supports hate and violence.  Not everyone has grown up in the same world as I.  But, take any of the current hate groups, and allow them to publish their views on the internet, and now they seem to find like minded people which was harder to find locally.  And although what people believe by showing “facts” is simply enough to change someone.  Apparently it makes people dig in harder to their beliefs.  I was really stunned to understand this.  But is is not possible to win some arguments.   I am not defending anyone who doesn’t see when they are wrong, just understanding that I and others may not be able to change their opinion.   And the notion of ganging up on them once they are exposed doesn’t solve the problem.

No, I do not have a solution, as the Pandora’s jar has been opened (yeah its not a box, look it up.)   I wish I did, I hope someone does and we should be discussion how to fix it.  Having companies take content down is not going to be the answer, at some point someone will be willing to take money.  Google is in one of the biggest spots, if it hides post and information, it doesn’t exists , or at least finding it is a bit harder. My understanding of Law is that the Government cannot interfere with free speech, but I don’t think the law states companies have to allow others free speech.

Maybe my wish is that we discuss the right course of action in any case instead of having a mob mentality.  There will be cases when ideas or thoughts should be squelched, but then how to we convince those with the ideas, that they are wrong.  How do we get them to accept the better idea.  How do we bring up the next generation not to hate?  Too much for one issue to be the champion of, but at some point, we need to address root cause, other wise our children, and our children’s children will be asking the same questions I am asking.

My generation was the one who was going to fix all of this, and now its my kids generation that again has to pick up the pieces of the broken world.   I just hope its not beyond repair.

Self Preservation vs. Realizing you have a problem

What took my close to 50 years to understand was that many of my reactions to situations are about one thing, Self Preservation.  Our brains, in in fact every living organism, is about self preservation.  I (and many of the people I know personally as well as those reading this)  are extremely lucky and blessed to have most of our basic needs met, food, shelter, and air.  After that everything else is just extra.  Although my kids thing a Range Rover is a necessity, I have to remind them nope, its extra.

But with basic needs met, what do our self preservation instincts do?  Most of the time it helps you while crossing the road (unless you are looking at your cell phone) so you don’t get hit by a car that you notice movement from your peripheral vision.  But what has become the new twist on the brain you react to change, as well as wanting to keep the status quo in your life the same.  Now there are people who are actively going for change, like a new job etc.  But in many cases most of the people I know, want to keep their lives moving forward, slowly with little alternation.

When life throws a monkey wrench in to what is your world, you then act out.  Your world can be your job, your relationships, even the election.   I found myself a long time ago over reacting to something, that was not in my control, and not even anything I could affect, because I was afraid of what it would do to me.  Why my personal life was going to be miserable, and because of social media I was able to find like minded others.  Posting my anger got me likes, and I didn’t care about who I alienated, as it was about me not anyone else.  It took me a while to realize it shouldn’t have been that way, that no matter what was wrong with what was going on, others are not you, and have their own problems that they perceive as their world that needs fixing.

I grew from that situation, and took stock.  I learned that I don’t attack someone posting in a space whereas there is more than one side, I don’t retort in my posts either (sub-tweet as they say) as I understand things around me will change.  Bruce Lee once said, “To Change with Change, is a Changeless state” – and yes, if I want my changeless state, I need to change with what is going around me, not fight to keep my current status.

Besides social media being this outlet for self preservation, there is a second one that also shows (mainly because of where I work) it head to often.  During the economic downturn many people lost their jobs.  So often, people react to issues at work with the notion of how do I keep my job.  How do I do what I am doing so that I can survive.  I need to provide food and shelter, so what do I need to do so that my homeostasis is continued.  Only thinking about my self preservation, the company is second, so what is the proper solution to problems where I look good, or I come out of issues not looking bad, someone else does.

This view of wanting to put the self first, leads to a plethora of bad decisions at work.  From technology choices, direction choices etc.  I have seen people argue about moving forward even though whatever is working isn’t working properly, but its less scary than going to the unknown.  Or people spending more time figuring out how to cover their ass instead of taking the risk, trying to get the company better.  The goal of this action is “who to blame” when a decision is made if it goes wrong, as opposed to putting all effort into making it succeed.   I work with software developers, and many would love the chance to put in effort to get the best stuff working, instead of patching the old thing over and over again, even though it often is just putting a duct tape on a problem.

This self preservation may lead to also those not seeing their deficiencies.  When making the decisions, if one constantly goes to their strengths, there is no way for you to grow.  Technology is moving faster, and making those decisions is often balance between what you know, and what is right going forward.  I have learned to hire people around me that are in my blind spots, my weaknesses.   I have also told them, after I hired them, this is what I need your help in.  The ones who step up and do it, are the keys to our success.   I know that I am not perfect, that every year when I get a review, often my deficiencies are swept under a rug, and it is up to myself to figure out what is not going right, or what am I not doing well enough to either change, or build my team to resolve.  But it has become that, as my new self preservation vs. the old me who would lash out and figure out who was to blame, who was at fault, and who needs to be punished for my actions.

It is unfortunate we teach high school students many things that are not of value, instead of teaching them how to constantly learn and change.   To think of self preservation not as a survival instinct that needs a reaction like it used to, but one that needs to extend as a learning experience for yourself to get better.  Yes, it does not mean get hit by that car, but and I am not talking about that, but the same basic instinct needs to be updated so that we often do things that are better for the common good, than just ourselves.  We do have the ability to adapt, and as things change around us, we can alter our lives to keep moving forward.

Revisiting Gorilla’s and Bananas real quickly…

Every time I see an article looking at something that has done traditional, and unfortunately will not change no matter what is said or day, and keep remembering my gorilla’s and banana post.  Today I read an article and how bad the Jewish high holiday services are, and know my kids hate going.   Making them go, makes it worse, its like more of a punishment than a celebration.   I wish religion would take advice from this article.

I don’t think I will need to say any more.

I always wanted to be a hero…. never knew I already was

As a kid I had heroes, from athletes, to musicians, to actors.   I would dream about being a hero, being successful having everything I ever wanted in the world.  From reading books of swashbuckling swordsmen, to winning a Stanley Cup, to singing in front of fifty thousand fans what else would anyone want in a hero. There are even times later in life that I would daydream about it.  It seemed the world would be perfect if I could just be one of these superstars, it seemed like their lives were perfect.  They seem to do everything right, the worked out, looked awesome, made money, got the girls etc.

Every so often i would hear about chinks in the armor.  Finding out that the ripped athletes were taking drugs, professional wrestlers who were sworn enemies were actually best friends, and learning musicians were ‘taking drugs’ to write songs started to wear on me.  One of my favorite heroes Bruce Lee smoked marijuana and was most likely hooked on cortisone and there was no way he could reach the body fat he was without it.

So if heroes aren’t what they seem to be maybe I should be looking at it in a different way.  In the movie “A Bronx Tale” the dad shouts at C letting him know what real heroes are, stating the working man is the real hero.  I saw his argument, but didn’t think he was one hundred percent complete.

Three months ago, I lost my wife, and I knew I had to hold it together, it took everything I knew to not completely freak out.  What I found out that I had, or I should say we have a lot of good friends and family that stopped their world to be by my side.  It was overwhelming, it was unbelievable, and still is ongoing.  What took me three months to realize, I had been there for my friends in their darkest hours (and their brightest days) and will continue to try to be.  My sister has been helping out in my house, and many of my friends have been doing anything I ask.

Today I went to visit someone in the hospital, a friend who i saw at Shiva, but had not seen in a long time before that.  I didn’t think twice about trying to make some time during my crazy day to get there.

The notion of friendship, how to be a good friend, and to surround yourself with the right people.  That is what is makes a hero.  And its the ability to do the little things to make someones day, to help one another, In a book my father read to me Alexandre Dumas wrote “All for one, and one for all..”  The three musketeers were one of my heroes, and to realize I have grown up to be like them, or at least to follow what they have found in each other.   I have become one of my heroes, as well as my sister, many in my family, and most of my friends.  We may not carry swords and fight a bad king, we fight for one another.