Category: Parenting

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. 

Nonverbal Confessions while trying to focus… How ADHD Strategies go wrong

I fidget, it is a way that I help stay focused due to my ADHD. I could be doodling during a meeting, swinging my feet or when at a standing desk moving side to side. These actions are some ways that allow me to focus on a meeting, a task or a thought. What I never thought about is someone who does not know me, and what they might think are the nonverbal cues I might be giving them. 

I often heard the saying that ninety percent of all communication is nonverbal. I have repeated that statement. There are some classic books about Body Language and how to read people for use in interviews, lectures and even dating. I am not sure the authors ever considered that sometimes body language can be confused with strategies for those trying to concentrate. 

The ninety percent, or the ninety three percent number was based on a study in the 1960s by professors at UCLA including Albert Mehrabian. I will leave it to you to read his study, but he broke it down to 7% Actual Verbal Communication, 38% Vocal Liking, and 55% Facial Liking. Since only 7% were verbal, the other 93% must be nonverbal. Yes, I do know that Charles Darwin wrote about it in 1872 but did not put a number to it. And over time the details of the study were mostly not discussed, and people drifted towards just using 90% as a number. Of course, in the 1960s ADHD was not even a diagnosis yet, nor did people trying to find strategies to help focus. 

I have stated before I have not yet started taking medication for my ADHD, it is not that I do not believe in it, but I do not take it and I use the words ‘yet.’ I have worked on multiple ways to manage and help me focus. If I know I do not need to take notes at a video-based meeting (not in person) I like to stand. I can sway side to side, and it allows me to focus in on meetings. If I am home, or when I have an office, I can pace back and forth, and this has the same effect. Some in person meeting I choose to have my iPad with me or a notebook and write a lot. Many of the notes are about the meeting but there are sidebar notes of other thoughts that come up. The simple fact of writing them down means I do not need to dwell on them and can refocus on the meeting. There are plenty of articles written about fidgeting and focus

While I was focused on myself and being able to get the work done, what I did not think about is how other people are affected by my fidgeting. Does the person across from me in a meeting think that my swinging my foot shows that I am nervous? What about going on a date, does changing my arms from folded to open and then to figuring out what to do with my hands show that I am not paying attention. The goal of all that was to help me focus on the conversation at hand, but I could be giving the other person nonverbal cues that I do not like them. What is even funnier, in any face-to-face conversation if the other person beings to  mirrors my movements without thinking, thus my fidgeting makes them fidget. This could be my kids, my boss, my friends, anyone.  

I do think of myself as good at reading a person’s nonverbal cues. The inflection in a friend’s voice this week let me know how much pain they were in yet trying to hide it, the glow someone had as they were super happy, the enjoyment someone had playing music live and at a concert seeing the body language as he struggled to sing with a cold. By no means am I an expert as sometimes I have no clue. Now looking at a few of them I am wondering if the nonverbal cues I was giving made them adjust, altering what would have been their norm. Sometimes the best way is to either ask or bring it up in the conversation in a playful way. Eric Martin of Mr. Big joked Friday night as he struggled to sing at one point asking the audience to sing their biggest hit as he could not hit the notes. I wrote last week about the power of words and the effect they have on the mind. Today I am talking about the power of nonverbal communication, but the caveat is one should confirm the latter. And personally, I need to verbally show that my fidgeting did not mean I was not listening.  

I am sorry if you misread me, I will try to do better.  

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.  

If you succeeded in everything you do, you are lazy….

Last week I wrote about lessons from a goalie parent, but it was missed a few, and well this one was in draft for 2 years (writing another one about my draft problem) and figured hey this is a good time to finish this. When my daughter was first playing hockey competitively there was a notion you most wins or play on a winning team or in some cases play on the highest level of hockey in your age group. I will go into parents ruining youth sports another time, but inside the tornado of youth sports it is a bit crazy. The truth is at the youngest age you want to be on a team that wins equally as many as it loses (whatever level you are in.). The reason, if you are winning all the time, you are not being challenged, if you are losing all the time, you might get completely discouraged. 

Some of the greatest athletes of all time talk about their failures. Michael Jordan once said “I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” What do people remember? Most of us remember the shot of MJ hitting the shot with no time left on the clock. Not only did he fail many time at it, but I am sure (like thousands of other kids) played in their driveway/school yard etc. pretending to make that last shot. I know I did, and I missed the shot a lot, but the one time I hit it I celebrated like I won the NBA Championship. What I didn’t realize I was learning from the missed shots and worked on getting better. 

Bruce Lee (yeah quoting him again) said “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” I wish many times I followed this in my personal life. Simple in words and great in thought, like many other quote from Bruce (Note the 20th of July was the 50th anniversary of his death) show a simple philosophy that many struggle due to inertia to break thru. And the fear of failure and the reaction of others around us to that failure adds to the forces against taking risks. There are few who can escape the stigma, may fail more than the rest of us, but their successes may far outweigh someone who takes not chances. 

I once complained that in school that you could get an A for a failed experiment, as you proved something could not be done the way you thought. I was wrong, in life and in many work situations the notion of moving out of your comfort zone should be celebrated. In real life, whether it is work or your personal life there is a need to ignore the stigma of failing, look forward to the possibility of learning something even in failure. Those standing in the same spot may laugh at your attempts, but they will be in the same spot when you succeed and go past them.  

Now remember what I said about hockey, you need to have equal wins and losses. You can’t lose all the time in life and work. So, moving out of your comfort zone all the time is as bad as not moving out at all. Picking the time to take risks comes with experience and wisdom. Back to hockey, the goalie with the greatest number of wins in hockey also has the greatest number of losses. He had to go out and play with the risk of losing each time, but obviously 691 wins and victories were definitely lessons learned from those losses. In sports sometimes you can’t pick the risk you take, in life you can. Stick your neck out at work, take the new role that is out of your comfort zone, change careers, ask that person out you never met, say yes to something you would normally say no to… but do it with the experience gained from your earlier failures.  And don’t be so lazy, you might fail, but you might succeed.

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. 

Understanding Oil and People.

The best, and I mean best analogy came from Leo Laporte about what is going on right now.   Humans have become the new oil.   Let us go back, and dig deep into this because people need to understand, and right now it is just the Tech Community that (and few in it) that really grasps what is going on.

First, when the internet started, there were many things that were free.  It was for colleges and learning.  It was a large sharing of information, all to help each other.  Soon as more people got on, there was a race to monetize it (the Internet gold rush) – One key thing was advertising.   And the event of the “banner add” – Get a flashback to all the banner ads that were annoying, bright and really pissing people off.  Then came Google, a simple search UI, that was truly minimalistic.   Just a search bar, and results.   The results were most relevant, and slowly it became the defacto search.   Of course, this too needed to be monetized.   Later on social media hit, Facebook being a dominating winner, and it too was searching for monetization.

Well, neither of these companies can charge so they had to go to an  “ad” model.  Generic ads (like the ones on TV) are only effective to a point.  How many times have you seen an ad on TV and are like, I am not the audience for this?   Well Google, Facebook and countless of other companies that rely on advertising needed signal from you so that they could direct advertising that would be relevant.   And if you think about it, wouldn’t you rather see something you are interested in?   So these companies tried to get as much data about you, but giving you “free” things, and even giving our free things to others where you interact to gather additional signals.  This is all technically fine, as you are getting something free for what you are giving them (eyeballs for ads.)

But, here is where the creepy line hit.  Instead of saying showing you ads of Porsche SUVs, when you clicked on articles about SUVs, and Luxury cars, people started looking deeper into the signals.  They started mining your actions in a more psychological way.   These companies started trying to figure out if you were happy, depressed, angry etc.   So think about it this way, for some people they may “eat more” when they are upset,  If systems can figure out by what you are searching for what you are reading and or what you are posting, and able to sell you something or convince you to Vote (or possibly not to vote)  This is where the analogy for Oil.  Oil needs to be mined and then refined before use.  We are being mined, our data is being mined and refined, and they figure out what can be used.  Our information is useless without being refined.

The mining of this information, and the ability to use it to an advantage where we are weak crosses the “Creepy” line.  The Creepy line is what most people feel, but don’t get.  They don’t know that their emotions are being played with, or that they are finding weaknesses to exploit for financial gain.   In Amazon, if you search something, they often show you the same thing in an ad (whether you bought it or not) and sometimes it feels annoying but not creepy.  But what feels creepy is when you and ad are there that somehow touches and emotion.  As long as these companies are giving you “free” access (Google/Facebook etc.) they need to figure out how to make the most of your eyeballs.    Would you be willing to “pay” for Facebook?  Some estimates put the revenue about $26/per person per year.  I think many people would pay that, I sure would. To have zero ads, and keep my data private.  But most likely it is not going to happen, people like “free”

We were not born understanding how to determine these things, we don’t a grasp of what is going on.  I hope my kids and the younger generation can see what is going on and act appropriately.  Until we build a filter, the best we can do is understand what is going on.  But just knowing is an effective way to at least make sure you can think before you click on something in those systems.

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








How many “List of Successful things people do are there”….

In my twitter, facebook, email and other feeds I get a least one “Top X things Successful people do” Articles, and like a sucker I read each one.

  • http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-things-successful-people.html
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-friday-afternoon-2016-10
  • and over 3 million other links.

I don’t know why I read each one, hoping there is some magic pill that makes me turn from who I am to uber successful.  Then I woke up.   I finally realized, these articles are no better than the “fitness” in a bottle, or even lose weight on a DVD.   It does not take a genius to realize that you cannot lose weight by taking a pill, that no workout is going to rescue you from eating a crappy diet.   There is no study ever proving any of it, no matter what Dr. Oz or other idiot on the TV says.  Losing weight is purely about 1 thing, finding a calorie deficit, aka. burning more calories than you take in.  (If you read my fit.lrau.com blog you will see there are some questions about what is a calorie and a lot of interesting side thoughts but I digress)

So if you cannot lose weight in a $19.95 purchase, what made me think, I can suddenly become successful by reading an article and suddenly giving myself 10 new traits/practices etc.  And yeah it took years of reading these articles to wake up.  I woke up to the reality that anyone can find dozens are so successful people, find a few things they have in common and say “Hey guess what, do these or act like this” and you will be successful.   I chose to see what I hide in common with Bruce Lee to prove a point.  Lets assume we are both “successful” here is what i found we have in common.

  • We both took fencing
  • We both believe our children are our greatest accomplishment
  • We believe the relationship with our spouse is one of a team
  • We both had a miniature schnauzer for a pet
  • We both read a to on non-fiction to learn
  • We both multi-tasked often (reading / listening to music)
  • We both were constantly fidgety

Now of course I went for stuff that really seems insignificant, and that was done intentionally.  Success does not happen due to having some list of traits.  In fact I wish the articles would find people that had the same 10 traits and were not successful.  To me it would be like athletes are musicians.  I know 100s of musicians that I think are really good at playing or singing.  But very few “made” it.  Same with Athletes, 100s that are talented, work hard and look like they should be playing at the next level.   But only few of each ever make that ‘next’ level, and fewer stay there.

So what are you supposed to do.  Later in life my daughter had a hockey coach who carried around a saying in his wallet.  “My name is Josh Esformes, and I make a living being myself”  To me it is something that sank in, to be successful, you need to be yourself.  Taking the athlete example again, look at Borg, McEnroe and Connors as tennis players (Google them if you don’t know who they are)  They were as different personality as they could be, Borg was quiet, and just went to work, McEnroe somehow had to get enrage and angry to play well, and Connors needed energy from the fans and pumped his fist often.  Yet they were all successful.  You don’t have to be someone else to be successful, you need to be yourself, who that is, you must find out.  It is your inner journey, and Bruce Lee would be proud of that, as he always believed reaching up and learning (guess that is another thing we have in common)   I now carry that same saying in my wallet (changing the name of course)  and will let others determine how successful I am.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is 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.








Sometimes someone writes something better than you could…

And this is one of the times.   19 Things that I wish my daughter learns….

Having two daughters I hope they learn all of it way before that.  The last is to find one charity that you can give to.   I have written about that previously.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is 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.  Thanks for reading.








Sometimes you drive a Camaro

When you are young and single, you buy yourself a hot car like a Camaro.   Yes I know some people are mustang fans, and others are into Japanese crap, but for the story let’s stick with the Camaro.  It’s great seats two, and not much in the back seat, you look cool with your hair slicked back, ray bans on.  Drive around with the windows down and the radio blasting on ocean ave by the shore.  The goal to impress chicks, and guess what?  Some day you do, and you finally find the one.

Of course the first few years of marriage, still driving around in the Camaro it’s cool since it is just you.  But eventually you have to 2.3 kids, and when they are really little, they fit in the back.  You by strollers designed by origami experts so they fit in th trunk, but runs to Cosco are not that easy as you need to load up on diapers etc.  As kids get older and they have friends it’s hard to squeeze the 4 kids and 2 adults in the car, yes kids can sit on each others lap, and while they are young, they seem to be ok with this.  But as they get bigger it’s harder.  The funny thing is that you don’t blame the car for the issue, but the situation. That the car was fine in your 20s its fine now.

Fast forward 20 years, the kids are gone, and now you have an antique Camaro that you take to car shows as its all original, and mint.  You tell stories of how you and your wife met and how you squeezed 6 kids in the back once, and tell fond stories.  Noting there is nothing wrong with the Camaro.

It’s not that every tool is right for the situation, but sometimes you do have to use a hammer, sometimes you have to use a screw driver, and sometimes you can drive a Camaro

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is 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.  Thanks for reading.








Being a parent…. on simple lesson to be a better one.

Definition of Adolescence. “The 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day battle to not be embarrassed” – and “Any kid would rather be perceived as bad, then dumb”

Why does that mean anything?   As a parent you do millions of things that have an effect on your children.  But often you don’t see the motivation behind some of the behavior.   And this one is key.  Sometimes the acting out etc, is not because they are bad, it’s because of a perception.  If they perceived to be dumb, they are thrown into a “group” which it is hard to get out of.  Being “Bad” is a group that is good to be in for an adolescence.    So when you have kids, this is something to keep an eye out for, but it does also happen as adults.  If you see the behavior in your child, make sure you don’t have the halo effect and think they are smart.  Look at what they can or can’t do, and the best think you can do is get them the help so they learn what they need to learn.   The stupid label on them, is tough to shake, but catching it as acting bad, and then getting them help will stop the bad behavior and fix the root cause.

What does that have to do with being a better person?   It is often we need to dig deeper into the cause of the behavior not just the behavior.  If people around you are acting in a way that seems off, you can either say “they are just bad”  But they may be ignorant and hiding it, thus causing a problem that shouldn’t be.   You being the better person, has to rise above the pettiness and not get into the shouting match, the argument and the name calling.  You must take a step back, and find an alternative to figuring it all out.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is 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.  Thanks for reading.








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