Author: LrAu (Page 1 of 16)

Simon Sinek sounds logical, but I challenge it.

I have a few authors, bloggers, YouTubers or whatever you would like to call them which make me think. Simon Sinek, Adam Grant, and dozens of others. They stand out as the way they challenge the common wisdom of how to manage teams, people and even yourself. Simon Sinek’s Ted talk on Start with Why is one of the most watched Ted talks of all time. I am amazed many companies do not follow some of his advice. 

Simon was interviewed and asked this question. He produced an answer and used a metaphor to attempt to get his point across. Simon was explaining that following his advice will help companies grow, but there is no timeline to achieve it. The metaphor related companies to a person getting into shape. To summarize, if you work out every day, I cannot tell you when you will get into shape, but you will eventually get into shape. Simon was alluding to the fact that it consistency is the key.  

As much as I admire him this quote made me step back and wonder if he understands physical fitness and getting into shape at all? Consistency only gets you part of the solution. When I was a child, I was told that ‘Practice Makes Perfect.” This seemed logical at the time but was followed up by ‘Perfect Practice Makes Perfect’ which again seemed logical. If you practice wrong, obviously you will not get it perfectly right. Just like Simon’s quote we assume it is correct as it sounds logical. 

Just like the first statement of practice makes perfect, there is something missing. Consistently going to the gym is not complete. One must not only go to the gym every day (ok ignore rest days) but also challenge yourself to get stronger or leaner etc. If you do the same exercises, with the same weights or speed etc., you will never improve and stay at the same level of fitness (or shape) you are currently in. Trainers will always ask you to track your sets and remind you to progressively add resistance, repetitions, or other changes to challenge yourself. Just going to the gym every day is not a guarantee to success.  

On top of that, Mark Hyman said, ‘You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.’ Thus, again going to the gym every day does not guarantee you will get into shape if you use the the working out as an excuse to have a poor diet. If you eat junk food and hope just going to the gym is your salvation, you will discover that this is a recipe for failure. Consistency is not just about the gym; it is also about your diet. Simon does mention that eating cake one day does not ruin it. Unfortunately, if people listen to just the sound bite, they may learn an incorrect lesson.  

In my current fitness journey, I can attest that you need both. It was a decision in the summer of 2023 to get back to simplifying my diet, limit my calories, increase my protein intake that allowed me to get back into shape. I rethought my workouts and progressively challenged myself with more weight and different exercises. The combination of the two was the key to getting into shape. Of course there are exceptions, as some people may need other help, but this is the game plan for many. 

So, is Simon incorrect in what his statement? Yes and no, but I am going to give him a partial pass. Simon is using an analogy that sounds logical to make a point. What I wonder is how many people believe things that sound logical?  Example take the following quote, “The majority of people in the United States die in hospitals, so stay out of them.” I hope that quote made you laugh, but if you saw the quote in a headline would you think twice about it? How about, “A patient either gets better or they don’t.” This one is a bit more confusing, why cannot it be both? What I challenge myself with is to listen and even if it sounds logical to question it. Everything we hear may have some partial truth, but that does not guarantee it is completely true. Going to the gym daily will help you get into shape, so it is partially true, but it is not the whole story.  

Simon is correct this goes with everything in life, being a good partner, being a good parent, being a good leader all need consistency. But there are missing pieces, tracking so you can see improvement, making changes to improve and looking back to see how much you improved. I again highly recommend his talks, and books, but as with everything you watch and read, question it.  

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using an AI tool that allows me to reuse them.

Was winning an F1 Race all luck, and what should we learn from it.

Do you ever wonder if your success had to do with luck? Did you get a job because the person who interviewed you had a good day? Did you get into college because your family knew someone at the school? Were you in the right place at the right time? These are questions I ask myself often, and this weekend I watched as luck turned into success, but was it truly luck? 

Let me set up the scene, Formula Racing has been dominated by a single driver and team for the past 2 years. Last year he won 19 of the 22 races, which is just incredible. The Red Bull team which he drives for has been dominant for several years, and with Max Verstappen driving it is hard to bet against them. In the last 539 days only one other team (Ferrari) has won a race.  

My daughter is a huge F1 fan, and she roots for someone else and another team, McClaren and Lando Norris is her favorite driver. Her dream was to attend an F1 race for her graduation. My original plans failed. In a last-minute crazy idea, I bought flights and tickets to the Miami Grand Prix. Just to give her the experience. I am not an F1 expert, nor planning, picking seats etc. Hockey yes, F1 no. But I asked some people, googled it, and figured enough out. 

We are at the race, Lando had a decent starting position and hoping for a podium (first, second, or third) result. The hope was a 2nd or 3rd as Verstappen penned in as first. The race started and Lando’s teammate got a great jump and vaulted into third. place, while Lando slipped down into 5th. Early in the race, Lando’s teammate made a move and got into second place. The top 5 cars pulled away from the field and Verstappen just pulled away from the top 5 cars. It looked like an easy win for him, and the field the way it is. It was this way for the first 30 or so of the 57-lap race. 

F1 has a rule where you need to use 2 diverse types of tires thus there is a mandatory pit stop. Some drivers had pitted but the top 5 had not pitted, many waiting for Verstappen in the lead to change. Red Bull made the call and Verstappen went in for the tire change. Instantly the Ferrari’s, who were in third and fourth at the time, followed by the McLaren (Oscar Piastri.) This put Lando Norris in the lead. Those not into racing a pit stop takes about twenty to thirty seconds under a green flag.  

With Lando in the lead, on lap 29 Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant crashed. This brought out a yellow flag and the safety car. Lando took advantage of it and pitted. During the yellow flag the speeds were limited, he was able to emerge from the pit stop still in the lead. During a restart, the cars were lined up, so Verstappen was right behind Lando when the green flag came out. Verstappen attempted a pass in turn 3, Lando was able to hold him off, and then seemed to pull away, eventually winning by 7 seconds. Amazing my luck of last-minute flights and tickets to a race where my daughter’s favorite driver would win. 

Someone texted my daughter asking how that happened, and I told her to say a little bit of luck played into it. There are apps that show where the conversation between the pit crew and the driver says, one driver commented that he did not know there was going to be a safety car break. No one knew that was going to happen, it was just luck and timing. Luck was not the only reason Lando managed to win this race.  

The McLaren team had made changes to this car for this race. Lando drove a great race for 57 laps and was able to avoid making any major mistakes. Lando has 110 races under his belt, years of practicing and climbing to earn a spot in F1. The McLaren team spent years and years of F1 development to have a competitive car. This victory was not just one of a single incident, but the accumulation of tons of work by lots of people. It had a little push with luck. 

Back to the question about my life, and questions you should ask about your own. There are lots of people who work hard, there are lots of people who are smart and plenty with dreams. Sometimes luck does play into success, not just effort. Luck could be the DNA lottery, (having the right parents) location lottery, (living in the right town) getting into the right school, picking the right major, meeting the right person or hundreds of other things. Many of us do not think of it, but it is something we should. And be prepared, work hard, put the effort in so when the time comes, you are ready.

This does not mean just in a professional manner but meeting the right people as friends and finding a soulmate. There is all some form of luck in it. The question we should ask for is how we take advantage of these lucky instances, and how we enable this fortune for others. The latter being what would make us better people.  This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images I took at F1 race at Miam, except for the Lando Celebrating, my seats were not that good.

There is a Story in a Napkin, and it is a life lesson.

In April of 2018, it was still less than one year since my wife’s passing and I was still in a fog. That year seemed to fly by. I buried myself in my work and taking care of my kids instead of myself. It is what I needed to do to ‘get by.’ I was lucky I had a lot of help from friends and family making sure nothing fell apart. Though there are many people to thank and stories to tell, this is a small tale that still resonates with me. 

A good friend of mine invited me and my two girls down to his shore house. He rents it out during the season, but during the off season he goes down as there are always repairs to do, as well as a wonderful place to relax.  For us it was a good break, to get away from our house, have a little adventure.  

Down the shore, as us Jersey people call it, there is a place famous for wings. After a day of chilling, relaxing and some work we headed out to dinner with our host and a few of his kids. We went a little hog wild in ordering food, a little too much for the number of people eating. It is hard to describe so just look at the picture below and realize that it is for 2 adults and 3 girls (all under 18.)  

But the food is not the story. This restaurant has two kinds of napkins, the ones that are at the tables, and the to-go napkins. The napkins at the table are very stiff and not that absorbent. The to-go napkins are fantastic, much better napkins. Our host knew this and asked the waiter for the to-go napkins. Me and my kids were unaware of the better napkins, and once we got them started saying “these are the good napkins.”  The dinner conversation continued about good napkins, and where else you need good paper products. This of course included toilet paper.  

While chowing down on the wings and extras, all you heard was pass the ‘good napkins’ and I need more ‘good napkins.’  Since that day when we got there many of the servers know we are going to ask for the to-go napkins and load us up. For my family and my friends, it is a running joke when going anywhere about having the “good napkins.” This went from being a simple dinner, to a memorable moment. It is now a lore in the Gold family.  

Why tell this story? One of the ways I got back to being myself was realizing there is a need for these memorable moments. In fact, I make it a goal to have somewhere between five to six memorable moments a year. My daughter and I took a two plus hour drive to New Haven to try Pizza. We hit Sally’s and Pepe’s like any pizza expert would. In 2023 I went to Vail with skiers, I am not a skier, but went to explore someplace I never went before. I said yes to concerts of Bands I never heard of, including figuring out how to meet someone from a band, who now is good friend. It is realizing it is a rainy day, and Taylor Swift is playing Met Life and ticket prices were dropping so you pick up your daughter working as a lifeguard and buy tickets on the way to the show. Yes, we were drenched but it is all part of the story. It is going to the office when most were not, to see people. It is throwing my girls in the car with the dog and picking a direction but having no destination for a vacation. We ended up seeing multiple hockey games in South Carolina and Florida. 

From that weekend grew a philosophy that I try to live by, ‘No good story starts with I was home watching Netflix.’ Try to plan to do something different, we have bought concert tickets to MetLife Stadium for a concert that was originally sold out, but due to rain there were tickets. We started to drive to the concert and were on our phones buying tickets. We got in, we got soaked, another memorable moment.   This philosophy has me saying yes to things I would not say yes to and getting myself out of the house.  

Before losing my wife, a memorable moment would just happen, but not really planned. Nor did I think about it. My whole life has some crazy stories. After this Napkin Weekend, I look to make some, and make it a goal for one every other month (6 times a year). It is those moments and stories you carry with you. Not all planned things will become memories, but if you do not try, you will never have one. Stop reading, look at your calendar and plan what could be your next moment.  

Disclaimer 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. All images I took.

What a Blowflex taught me about myself, so I could buy an EV, and other things….

I happen to have a thousand square foot gym in my basement. First, I do know it is a luxury, and I have spent twenty-two years building it. Every year at the end of the year, I would buy something to add to the gym to keep my motivation up for the following year.  But the building of the gym is not as important as a lesson that one of the pieces of equipment has taught me.  

I want to put a disclaimer here, that I am not endorsing this piece of equipment, I do not have stock in the company and right now the company is going bankrupt. I own a Bowflex Extreme SE (with an additional set of 50-pound rods.)  Gym Rats will complain it is not free weights etc. I do have seven hundred pounds of Olympic weights, barbells benches etc. But back to the Blowflex.  

It has these rods that bend to increase load during an exercise. The further the rod bends the more load is added. It is an interesting design not using the universal stacking of weights. But there are some issues. The Rods are not accurate in the weights they have on them. For example, if you do a bench press with the Bowflex at two hundred pounds, if you move to free weights, you will not be able to do two hundred pounds. I am not sure why they did not try to measure the actual weight or make it accurate.  

Second, the rods need to be maintained or treated properly. After each workout I must warp them up with chords, so they are straight up. If you leave them under tension they will not push back with the same force after a while. And every so often you need to take the Bowflex apart and spin the rods around to keep them in the best shape (not bending the same way all the time. With free weights, I can leave them on the ground, on the Bar, I can leave the Bar on the bench etc. I really do not have to think about it. Yes, it is my gym, I do not need to return them to the right spot. There is much less thought about it. And yes, I have on occasion forgotten to do it. 

The tradeoff does not hinder my ability to get a good workout. When I got my Tesla, I spent considerable time reading what others said about it. I learned that while EVs have a lot of plusses there are still some limitations. First the range is not as accurate as advertised (hmm sounds familiar about the rods) and that some precautions are needed to keep the battery lasting longer (sounds like the rods again.) Things like, do not charge the battery regularly over 80%, do not let the battery go below 20% and if possible, keep the car in a garage.  There are other limitations, or for me differences but I am not going to focus on those. 

The rules to keep the battery related to my Bowflex rods perfectly. I did not make the correlation to after my purchase, buy while making the purchase I questions can I manage them. I made the decision that I could, both my kids have internal combustion engine cars, I can use them if needed, I had a garage, 99% of my driving is local thus I can keep the battery between 80/20. Just like when purchasing the Bowflex, the benefits outweigh the limitations. For the Bowflex I enjoy working out by myself, it allows me to do a lot of exercises without taking up a lot of space, as well as no need for a spotter. I can live with the numbers being inaccurate, and the need to maintain it properly.  I have owned it for 15+ years and it is in great shape still.  

As advertisers bombard us with positive reivews of everything they sell, and media (social and regular) rant how awful something is, we must find the truth, and evaluate what is a true limitation.  Nothing is perfect, and our unconscious bias cannot make it that way. Negative rants may have some truth, but they may be edge cases that do not apply to you, or things you have and alternative.  Understanding what we are willing to live with to reap the benefits is an individual decision. I cannot say if the Bowflex, Tesla or your partner is the right pick for you, but what I can do is learn to understand how to weigh pros and cons to make decisions and understand there is nothing that does not have limitations, it is figuring out how to live with them.  

Disclaimer 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free. I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip. I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog. AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images for this are my actual gym, taken by yours truly.

Forty-Five Days of Celebrating My Birthday

The other night was technically the last night I plan to celebrate my birthday with a ‘Birthday Dinner.’ If you want to know, my birthday is in Early March, and I started celebrating it the night before with dinner in Red Bank. Split a giant tomahawk steak for two, and then continued for most of the month. Three trips to Nola’s in Garwood and Sally’s in New Haven for Pizza, 99 Favor Taste and Gyu Kaku for BBQ/Hot pot, Pine Tavern for some steak, and Beckets in NY, Chegg in LBI for wings. I might have missed a few more, I am sure I have. 

Yeah, I enjoyed going out with friends and family. I know in years past I would celebrate a few times and let move on. This year seems different where I almost wanted to find celebrations. Of all the things I have discovered about myself in the past few years writing this, is that I do have a zest for life. Thought throughout my life there have been obstacles the lessons from my parents that they were temporary hurdles or minor inconveniences. I struggled to understand they would always end. 

I have been given the advice that others have problems, often more challenging than yours, and that people would die to have my issues. Just this past weekend while hanging out with a DJ friend of mine who said every time you are frustrated, remember you can play piano and guitar, that are thousands like me that cannot play either. These reminders are why I spent a lot of time celebrating my life. Yes, I might not have some things that are important to me, but I spent time with people who remind me, I have more than others. 

The question really should be is why am I stopping celebrating my birthday? The answer is a bit more optimistic; it is that I want to celebrate life instead. In thirty years, I would love to have the health and youth that I have now. I did spend the last year getting myself in shape, though the latest injury is a struggle, but I need to realize that I need to look to see how far I have come.  

This is starting to sound close to a post I made previously about when climbing a mountain you need to occasionally look down. It is a derivative. That was looking more at a specific task, that if the task takes a long time to accomplish, you need to make sure you see how far you came versus only looking on how far you must go. This states your life is the mountain, and only looking down once a year is not enough. In many cases people talk about how you ‘survived’ another year. I do not want to be one who was told they survived a year; I want to be one who as my kids say ‘slayed,’ the past year.  

Each day may have a challenge, and some challenges pile up, but all of them are just that, something that I know I can get through. I may need help from family, friends, coworkers etc. And spending time with them, dinner, show, just hanging out celebrates our ability to get through the latest hurdle. My current hurdle is an elbow injury, and I did go for help. I doubt I will take out my Physical Therapist out, but my daughter helped me do a few things, my friends helped me with others. The key is do not waste time being frustrated, the problems will be there, and if you get one, another one will show up. Just like any other milestone, celebrate getting past it. My birthday celebration each year will be about how I crushed it.  

Disclaimer 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using an AI tool that allows me to reuse them. I double checked with ZeroGPT, this was not written by AI

Make Mistakes While You are Young…

I made the mistake of saying this to my children, and of course they made one. Fortunately, this mistake is a small fender bender or easy to hit the undo button. In a conversation with a young coworker, I said it, and she looked a bit befuddled, as everyone tells her that and she has no idea what it means.

To better understand this notion of making mistakes while young, let us first explore what we mean by “making a mistake.” In life, you are going to make some adult-level decisions, things like whether to go to college, what college to attend, and what major to choose. At 18 and sometimes 17, these are very adult choices that can determine a lot of the outcome of your life. The interesting thing about many of these is that they are easily changed.

Transferring colleges is not too difficult. If you picked the wrong school, it may bother you or upset you, but it is easy to leave at the end of the semester, take time off, or find a different school. At the end of the day, when someone looks at your resume, they are looking that you got a degree, not how many schools it took you to obtain it. Both of my kids transferred, and one happened to transfer multiple times.

And the decisions do not stop with college. Even after taking your first job, it is not a life sentence. Larger companies have opportunities to transfer, or you have the option of finding a new job. I understand not everyone has the same options, as some may be locationally challenged or face other obstacles in finding a new job.

Now, when I use the term “young,” I am not necessarily referring to chronological age. In many cultures, age determines adulthood, such as at 13 in the Jewish culture or 17 for a driver’s license, 18 for voting, and 21 for drinking alcohol. In Japan turning twenty is known as “Seijin no Hi” or coming of age day, were they dress in traditional attire and attend ceremonies. And the last example is the Amish who at 16 you are seen as transitioning to adulthood, they go through a period called Rumspringa where they can start to explore the outside world.

What I mean by “young” is that you have options open due to the lack of other dependents. Once you have a significant other and/or a family, the decisions are no longer about you. This is a time when it is important for you to have conversations with someone else. I was fortunate to have two of these with my late wife. The first was her changing careers where we set up a plan for her to go back to school and become a teacher. The second was when I was offered a job in NY City, which would reduce the time and flexibility of being closer.

In the end, the key is to remember that the freedom to make mistakes when you are young is not a license to be reckless, but more permission to explore and find your path. Make the choice knowing that you can change your mind or change direction without beating yourself up about it. This should give you the freedom to make decisions without second-guessing. There is a difference between being reckless and freedom, knowing the difference is for another lesson.

Disclaimer 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.  

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using an AI tool that allows me to reuse them.

Does New Equipment Improve Performance?

As a parent in suburban NJ one standard is getting your child into organized sports. I was no exception, as there are many positives from participating in team sports at a youthful age. I did, the sports in the 1970’s and 80’s are not as intense as they are now but there are some things that will always remain the same. 

One sport which consumed my time was tennis, and the key piece of equipment was the racket. I was playing at the time with the greats of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors etc. When I started, I was using the classic Tad Davis wooden racket. I won a lot of matches and tournaments with it. Being a fan of Borg, all I wanted was the Donnay Bjorn Borg Pro racket. With this racket I imagined myself winning the US Open, Wimbledon etc. I spent considerable time trying to convince my parents to get it for me. 

Fast forward thirty plus years, and my daughter is asking me for new goalie pads, sticks etc. With the same notion, how much better she is going to be with the new equipment. I am a sucker, really a sucker for both of my kids, and bought it for her each time. My other daughter needed newer skates, blades etc. for figure skating. And yes, she got them also.   

I am a rational adult, ok sometimes a rational adult, and I believe that new equipment does not make the athlete. It is ten plus years past buying equipment for my children, and I am going to put some thoughts that come to mind on this topic. Wondering if anyone goes through the same thoughts while shopping for new equipment for their child or themselves.  

What makes one a better athlete? Or better and any skill whatsoever? The answer in most cases is practice. What if that new equipment gets you to practice more? What if that new stick gets you to shoot an extra fifty pucks into the dryer?  That extra practice helps and helps more than the new piece of equipment. The new equipment did not help directly, but indirectly it changed your attitude, work habits etc. And that improved your game.  

Now there is an argument that this could be a race to waste. As every time a new piece of equipment comes out, if you do not buy it than the desire to practice will go. Using this method must be strategic when working with a child, and as an adult you need to also be careful. If anyone always needs a new piece of equipment to want to practice, they really are not interested.   

When moving from the wooden tennis racket to graphite larger head rackets my game jumped immediately. It was amazing, it made tennis accessible to many people who struggled with how hard it was to play with a wooden racket. The sweet spot to hit and tennis ball and the wooden racket was small, the larger head rackets made it easier. When you play better, you often play more so in this case the new equipment did make the difference.   

So, the negative of better equipment. Using the wooden racket, I learned how to move to the ball better, I mastered timing the ball and finding the spot on the racket. It was a skill I had to master to play, and for others learning with the newer equipment never mastered. Good coaches and better players did work as there still was a sweet spot, but it was just bigger.   

With my new hobby, astrophotography, I am using an older DLSR. I am learning the nuances of that specific camera. I could easily buy something like the Seestar S50, this is a telescope, camera that has software in it that generates pictures of the night sky easily. A simple smart phone app you can produce pictures of nebula and galaxies with almost no effort. There are others, but I chose this one as it was the one I found about first, I am not sponsored by it, nor endorsing it.  

This is both an upside and a downside. Gaining knowledge of the details is a skill, setting up the S50 and picking a nebula and saying go shoot, is well an instant dopamine hit. I look at this as an interesting balance of good and bad.  

First, getting an instant picture with some simple learning can drive me into taking more pictures and enjoying the hobby. I can then take pictures and share them to get likes on social media. Once I realized the limitations, I could dig in and learn the more difficult skills of stacking and photo editing. I could also get lazy and stick instant photos.  

If I start with the DLSR, I may struggle the first few months, or years, get bored and quit. I hope this is not what happens, and I use the failures and lessons, and I spend my time asking questions from experts and continue to improve. I cannot answer for my future self what will happen.  

The question I posed in the beginning, does the new equipment make you better does not have a straightforward answer. Digging deeper there is no simple answer. But I always say, I can learn more from a simple question than a wise answer. Waiting for the answer to which is right? Sorry, this is something that you might fail at, getting the new piece of equipment may not help you practice more, keeping the old equipment may demotivate you. Experiment and find what works for you as with many things there is no one answer. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.  

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using an AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

Do you know what is real, and what is AI Generated?

What if everything you read on the internet was produced using Large Language Models? That all content you thought you are reading was generated by an AI? Would you be able to tell the difference? Can you read something and say, ‘no human would right this?’  

I have some favorite blog authors as well as podcasters. I read and listen to them regularly and wondered how they can be so productive. How they can churn out content as often as they do. I also looked back at my own writing and wondered how original I am? And if you do not know me well enough those thoughts drove me into a black hole of trying to see if how to determine if content is real, or LLM generated. 

First, I found a paper that describes multiple ways to determine if content was LLM generated. Discovered another article that shares words that tip you off that something was written by and LLM. And finally started kicking around with ZeroGPT as a site that allows you to put content in, and it will give you what percentage was written by an LLM! Of course I took my recent posts, and then incredibly old posts and wondered what it would say about what I wrote.  

My most popular post ever was done recently, telling a story about a tree falling in my yard.

It thinks the first two sentences were written by AI GPT, but the rest were not. So, it believes my post was written by a human, which is good. I am not sure a LLM would think of a story like this, nor compare it to a relationship. I went through my team building posts, and then decided to go back to the really old posts.  

First, one of my favorites Disney being the new ’Historians’ as Biopics distort history. This one turned out to be 100% human written. Next my quick thought about sometimes you paint the car, sometimes you paint the fish, also 100% human written. Other ones I won’t link also turned out to be estimated at 100% human written. And one, which is a story I have told often and a quote I use often Even a Blind Squirrel eventually finds a Nut (according to Google this is the most clicked on link from their search), was estimated to be 90% human written, and 10% AGI. Strange as that was written in 2017!  

Of course, next I started putting some of the people I read, and their content to the ZeroGPT test. Most came out with excellence (5% or lower AGI) but there were a few outliers whose content was marked as GPT. I would not say it shocked me that at least a few people were leveraging LLMs to write their content. What I think was shocking is some posts were marked as almost 100% written by AI. 


I am not calling them out by putting any of their content here. And I should note, for the past year or so I have been using a text editor that has some AI built into it. It attempts to correct my grammar, my spelling etc. The AI suggests wording that might be more appropriate. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I do not agree. It is my choice while writing and editing.  

A primary concern when using LLM-generated content is the potential lack of authenticity. Bloggers may unintentionally present ideas or viewpoints that are not their own, compromising their credibility and the trust of their audience. Reader’s value genuine voices and personal experiences, which LLMs may struggle to replicate. 

Looking back at my posts, what amazed me was the influence of others on my writing. Whether it be Bruce Lee (who I quote a lot) authors like Adam Grant, Simon Sinek, other podcasts like TWIT, Hidden Brain, Huberman labs, or even just friends, my views, thoughts, and ideas are an accumulation of what I pick up. And to quote Bruce again ‘Learning is never cumulative; it is a movement of knowing with no beginning and no end.’ I have regurgitated information like an LLM, but I knowingly make choices on what I keep and what I throw out. The algorithm is not guided by any rules, other than the decisions I make. I will continue to ingest from talented authors and podcasters, and I will use them as a guide to discover more about myself. I just hope my output is not decidedly systematic and that my posts are marked as written by an LLM. 

If you made it through the whole post, one paragraph was written by an LLM, wonder if you spotted it. To answer the question, I asked in the beginning. If everything were written by an LLM, it would still be up to us readers to decide if we want to read it, if we stop, then maybe the production of it will be reduced. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them. 

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information, and the one paragraph if you can find it. Images are from ZeroGPT, I do not have a financial investment with them, I used the free version FYI.

What Astrophotography taught be about life.

My fascination with the night sky has never dwindled. When I was younger my dad purchased a telescope from Edmund scientific, not sure we were too successful in seeing the night sky, nor were able to get the Pentax Spotmatic to take pictures of it. Recently, having more free time I decided to learn about it. Driven from the Astrophysics class and the pictures that the JWTS took, I found myself diving into another hobby. 

The above picture is the Crab Nebula taken last year from the JTWS (They allow you to download the images but linked to the flikr for you to look at all the pictures. If you know anything about the JWTS, it is not a visible light spectrum camera. In other words, if you flew into space over sixty-five hundred light years away and could see the Crab Nebula in person it would not look anything like this. 

The stunning colors are done with a simple trick. Our brain can only interpret color based on the cone in our eyes absorb one of three colors on the light spectrum (Red, Blue, or Green). Ok, maybe that is simplifying how we see color, more details on how we actually see color is here. Which is a small part of the wavelength. The ROYGBIV, we remember from high school. The scientist (and for this story) and artists who help convert the data coming back from the JWTS to a picture that is visible are done with a simple trick. They assign visible light spectrum to a range in the infrared (IR above) and then render the image in color. They can even change the ranges of infrared to alter the image. There is an art to this.  

What is more amazing is that backyard astrophotographers can do the same thing. There is a website that is dedicated to displaying the Astronomy Picture of the Day (ASOD). Many were taken by NASA, but many as you scroll through the archive are taken by someone in their backyard, or at park. Taking them at home requires some special equipment, but not as much as you think but requires time. In a recent seminar I went to, the lecturer mentioned that it was often twenty to thirty hours of picture taking along with twenty to forty hours of post processing time. The below picture was taken in New Jersey by Brian Brennan, and was the speaker at a local astronomy event. He did this by stacking dozens of individual photos shot with different filters over the course of a few days. 

After hearing how long he spent setting up his rig, taking the picture and post processing my first thought that this is not a hobby for someone with ADHD. But after spending some time researching the equipment, the software etc. I started thinking differently. 

The beauty we see is not often visible to us immediately. Often, we find this beauty after interactions over days and years. I wrote a few times that effort and time needed to climb the mountain made the view better than if someone just dropped you off at the top. It is not just the work; it is the time taken to see what is there. And with each visit you may find something you have not seen before. It is like that movie that you laughed all the way through and watching it again you catch something you missed the previous times you saw it.  

But this is the same with people, we find beauty in them by interacting with them over the course of time. Sometimes we are quick to judge but often we are rewarded with our patience. Like stacking dozens of photos of varying wavelengths to provide a beautiful image, dozens of interactions with someone where the locations and situations become those different wavelengths allows you to paint the picture of who someone is. The final portrait will always be better than just one picture standing alone. 

No, I have not started taking pictures yet, my ferry photos are still my core photography. But I am starting to learn about what equipment I need, the techniques on how to take the photos, and finally how to post process the pictures into an image. I am sure just like the sunrise, sunset, my family, and my friends that I will find beauty when putting it all together. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them. 

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images courtesy of NASA with the links in the blog post.

Career Advice at 50+ .. And giving myself my own Job Title.

Every so often I am asked for career advice, which I take very seriously. In my field, I can give examples of choices I had and made, and the paths of others who made different choices. I have a wealth of stories in my back pocket to give people guidance. But recently I was asked by someone in a completely different profession for career advice. A good friend who I have known since we were little kids. 

I could have gone to the cliche bucked “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” (Marc Anthony) Well I heard this from my parents, many teachers etc. And have previously written about following your dreams quoting people such as Jim Carrey who said, “You could fail at something you hate.” I went as far as to write about the question we get in kindergarten about what you want to be when you grow up, the answer should not be a Doctor, Lawyer, or President. All could have been decent ways to direct my friend. 

When people are asking for career advice there are a lot of key questions to ask. I did ask a few, like what is important to you right now, and what do you think will be important to you in five years? I mostly wanted to hear his concerns about the choice he had in front of him. One common concern among many people who ask for this advice is the fear of failing, the fear that they cannot do succeed at the new opportunity. How do you convince someone that they will succeed? 

To answer my friend was found in a note a scribbled to myself over ten years ago, after learning it from my daughter’s hockey coach who died in a car accident. The note simply states, ‘Hi my name is Larry, and I make a living being myself.’ I responded to my friend that if he takes this new role, what does he think he is going to do differently than he does currently. After some other questions and digging came out was that he was going to be himself. And he is going to succeed not because he is one of the tops of what he does, not because he cares about what he does, that being himself is what gets him clients. He does not need to rethink and change. He needs to embrace what makes him special, and that is to just himself. 

There are very few jobs where every moment is perfect, and every second you are content. Finding what you love to do may not match your ability and I wrote two posts about talent versus skills, but now I throw in something completely different. What about you as a person brings to what are you doing. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube of people shredding on guitar, but how many can write an original composition, how many can make it entertaining, so that you are willing to see them in concert over and over? How many restaurant owners make you feel at home when you are there, and the food tastes that much better? 

This same friend of mine said things to me for the longest time, that I did things my own way and that I did not care if I fit in if I was being myself. When I was younger, I doubted not just what I did for a living, but my life in general. While I do not know how to teach someone to find who they are I did learn to assess when a person is acting as themselves. Often it is work trying to get that real person to surface. I may not be the best coder, I may not be the best software architect, but my teams at building software being myself. Often not knowing I was doing it and not knowing how to describe what I did until I saw that one note. And this was the advice I gave my friend, in either choice you make if you are yourself success will come to you. 

Twenty plus years ago I was working at a different financial institution, and for some reason they did not give us business cards. I was often at conferences, meetings with vendors and other instances where a business card would be useful. This was a time pre-smartphone era where business cards were common. I made my own and for a title I put ‘Web Geek.’ This described more than what I did, but my attitude towards how I did it. I would prefer my business card have as a title ‘Being Myself.’  

Simon Sinek was quoted as saying “Great leaders don’t try to be perfect; they try to be themselves.” It is not simply great leaders, the quote applies to anyone doing anything and with anyone, whether job, with friends, with family or by themselves. To be great, you do not need to be perfect, you need to be yourself. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them. 

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

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