Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The sky was yellow and the sun was blue – how to take yourself to the next level

May 19, 2018

Technology changes everything but do you have grit? Every scarlet begoniasbrand today will cease to exist if it does not change with the times and technology.  ‘Voice first’ for all Internet searches will be in place by 2020.  This includes in your home, in your car, and on your phone.  You need to be open to change to succeed.  There are two test markets in operation today with drone delivery.  With a web order you can get tacos delivered by a drone in 5-20 minutes.  Every drone has cameras and Machine Learning (ML) will enable the drones to understand what they see.  However, with this digital transformation, there is still no substitute for grit.  Embracing change combined with old fashioned hard work will get you to the next level and beyond.

jena-rockwood-scarlet-begoniasCould be an illusion but I might as well try, might as well try – are you making enough money?  Is your career where you expected it to be?  Here’s the keys to ramping up your energy level and success. I know what you are saying, I couldn’t possibly make more than I do today.  And, why would I want yet another promotion?  Super “how to” classics were written by Dale Carnegie, Steven Covey, and Zig Zigler but that was before the social media paradigm and the modern economy with the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and ubiquitous Cloud computing. 

New paradigm – start by reading the new classics yearly: Crushing it, Gary Vaynerchuk Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi and The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone.

So what is Grit ?  Let’s see how you measure up.

  • Courage.
  • Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs. Dependable.
  • Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through.
  • Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity.
  • Excellence vs. Perfection

With regards to the character of kids, there seems to be growing concern that kids these days are growing soft.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Angela Duckworth, a grit researcher aptly tweaked this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

courage-wordleCourage – while courage is hard to measure, it is directly proportional to your level of grit. More specifically, your ability to manage fear of failure is imperative and a predictor of success. The supremely gritty are not afraid to tank, but rather embrace it as part of a process. They understand that there are valuable lessons in defeat and that the vulnerability of perseverance is requisite for high achievement.  One who at the worst, if he/she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  Some believe that the current trend of coddling our youth, by removing competition in sports for example, is preventing some kids from actually learning how to fail and to embrace it as an inevitable part of life.  In our effort to protect our kids from disappointment are we inadvertently harming them?

Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs. Dependable – the achievement-oriented individual is one who works tirelessly, tries to do a good job, and completes the task at hand, whereas the dependable person is more notably self-controlled and conventional.

Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through – “… achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction, and duration of one’s exertions towards a long-term goal.”  In his 2007 best selling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines the conditions required for success.  They are talent, access to coaching, and lots of practice…10,000 hours to be precise.  That’s where long-term goals come in. They provide the context and framework in which to find the meaning and value of your long-term efforts, which helps cultivate drive, sustainability, passion, courage, stamina…grit.

Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity – of course, on your long haul to greatness you’re going to stumble, and you will need to get back up on the proverbial horse. But what is it that gives you the strength to get up, wipe the dust off, and remount? Gritty people believe, “everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”

Excellence vs. Perfection – in general, gritty people don’t seek perfection, but instead strive for excellence. It may seem that these two have only subtle distinctions; but in fact they are quite at odds.  Certainly there are times when “perfection” is necessary to establish standards, like in performance athletics such as diving and gymnastics. But in general, perfection is someone else’s perception of an ideal. Anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and clinical depression are only a few of the conditions ascribed to “perfectionism.”  These are barriers to success.

fbook liveOnce in a while you get shown the light.  Are you using Instagram stories and Facebook Live? These technological gems are game changers so explore them.  If you take away one thing from this guide let it be this, everything is attainable if you focus on what you are passionate about, demonstrate to all that you care, and work extremely hard.  This means 10-16 hours a day – there is no substitute for effort and the journey is the reward.

Check back soon for my next blog post – 20 romantic dates.

How to know if someone is lying

May 15, 2018

liar-500This is a guide on how to spot a liar and no, it doesn’t involve buying a polygraph machine.  I’ve read and listened to everything on this topic that I could get my hands on.  One of the best sources I found is Susan Carnicero, a lead investigator for the CIA.

Why pay attention?  This is not for your significant other.  It is for interviewing candidates in the workplace, understanding children, evaluating sales pitches, and so much more.

Notable facts – A person lies an average of 10x a day.  It can be as simple as, “how are you today?”  The response, “fine” because primarily you don’t feel like discussing your  headache.  A typical person speaks around 120-150 words per minute.  The brain goes 10x faster but it’s hard to measure because we don’t think in words, we think in concepts.

Liars avoid mentioning themselves and are overly negative.  They also include unnecessary details in drawn out explanations.  If you’re not sure about a story you’re hearing, ask them to start from the beginning.  They will be trapped by all their unnecessary detail (this works well).

The keys to determine the veracity of statements center around timing and clusters.  To determine a lie, you need to see deceptive behavior within the first 5 seconds of a question.  Clusters are more than one deceptive behavior in response to a question (two or more behaviors).  If you see one indicator they may not be lying.  If you see several, you’re on to them.

Six keys:

Analyze vs. speculate – don’t guess based on posture, look and listen for behaviors based on the question asked.

Manager your bias – if you look for truthfulness, you’ll find it and miss important cues.  Listen to the response given and observe behaviors.

Recognize evasiveness – did they answer the question you’ve asked for?  Also, exclusionary qualifiers beg for a follow-up question.  Examples are: honestly, to tell you the truth, frankly, for the most part, fundamentally, and not really.)

Aggression – attacking the questioner.  This is big.  When a person goes from 0-100 in a few seconds it is a major tell.

Convey vs. convince –  The most important thing to any person falsely accused of TruthMeter_Nov2011something is denial.  The other end of the spectrum, is a convincing statement.  This is the strongest indicator.  “I’m a good person.”  “What have I ever done to make you think that?” “Everybody likes me,” and I’ve done so much for this company.”  People can talk for 10 minutes trying to convince you without answering the question.  Furthermore, repeating statements and invoking religion are also strong signs.

Understand non-verbal cues – many questions don’t need time to answer.  “Did you rob the Bank of America branch?”  You shouldn’t have to think long about that.  Watch for behavioral pauses, no response for 5+ seconds, and anchor point movements.  Feet are always an anchor point.  Moving in response to a question: grooming gestures, fixing a tie, touching of hair, looking at watch, tapping fingers, and hands to the face are all indicators.  Liars look up and to the right when they are lying.  When they are done lying then regain eye contact to see if you are buying what they are selling.

Reference guide – the more people talk, the worse it is. Wait 3-4 seconds between questions – just South of uncomfortable.  This does work on the phone although you lose non-verbal cues.

  • Minimal self-reference
  • Negative language
  • Simple explanations
  • Convoluted phrasing

Here’s how you test your new skills – watch politicians testifying under oath in congressional hearings (if you dare).

Look at Susan Smith’s statements (the woman from South Carolina who killed her two sons by driving her car into a lake and then went to the police claiming her car was carjacked).  Also, examine Scott Peterson’s statements when he was asked if he killed his pregnant wife Lacy.

Additionally, there are many great YouTube videos on this subject.  Please leave a comment and share this with your friends if you find this guide helpful.

Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone

May 10, 2018

google AIA long-standing goal of human-computer interaction has been to enable people to have a natural conversation with computers, as they would with each other. In recent years, we have witnessed a revolution in the ability of computers to understand and to generate natural speech, especially with the application of deep neural networks (e.g., Google voice search, WaveNet). Still, even with today’s state of the art systems, it is often frustrating having to talk to stilted computerized voices that don’t understand natural language. In particular, automated phone systems are still struggling to recognize simple words and commands. They don’t engage in a conversation flow and force the caller to adjust to the system instead of the system adjusting to the caller.

Today we announce Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.

One of the key research insights was to constrain Duplex to closed domains, which aregoogle-deepmind-artificial-intelligence-2-720x720 narrow enough to explore extensively. Duplex can only carry out natural conversations after being deeply trained in such domains. It cannot carry out general conversations.

Here are examples of Duplex making phone calls (using different voices):
Duplex scheduling a hair salon appointment
Duplex calling a restaurant

While sounding natural, these and other examples are conversations between a fully automatic computer system and real businesses.

The Google Duplex technology is built to sound natural, to make the conversation experience comfortable. It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that. We want to be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context. We’ll be experimenting with the right approach over the coming months.

Here is the link to the the full post from Google that includes more details on how this works. https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html.

My next post is kind of dangerous – how to clearly and accurately spot a liar.  Check back soon!!  

3 books that matter, mixed doubles, and the greatest iPhone accessory ever

May 8, 2018

Thanks for reading my blog.  If you like it please comment or better yet, share it with a friend.  Here’s my comments on three books that have positively affected my life.  I also touch on Philly Mixed Districts and the greatest iPhone accessory ever made.

raising men logoRaising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons As a SEAL, Eric Davis learned to innovate and push boundaries, allowing him to function at levels beyond what was expected, comfortable, ordinary, and even imaginable, and he knew that as a father he needed to do the same with his son. In Raising Men, Eric and his SEAL brothers will use a blend of discipline, leadership, adventure, and grace to teach you how to connect, and reconnect, with your sons.  My key takeaways are:

  • Being a winner means that you always believe you have one more try in you. #NeverGiveUp
  • The best part about making mistakes is finding solutions (and ultimately redemption)
  • No matter what kind of a parent you have been – get in the game! Your kids might not be ready to connect with you but doing your part it makes all the difference

nietzscheThe Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche.  First, I don’t agree with him.  The German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and a Latin and Greek scholar who died in 1900 has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy . While confident in the progress of science and the rise of the German state, Nietzsche saw his era facing a fundamental crisis in values. With the rise of science, the Christian worldview no longer held a prominent explanatory role in people’s lives, a view Nietzsche captures in his most well-known phrase “God is dead.” However, science does not introduce a new set of values to replace the Christian values it displaces. Nietzsche foresaw that people need to identify some source of meaning and value in their lives, and if they could not find it in science, they would turn to aggressive nationalism and other such things. The last thing Nietzsche would have wanted was a return to traditional Christianity, however. Instead, he sought to find a way out of nihilism through the creative and willful affirmation of life.

I finished his book three weeks ago and I’ve intentionally waited to blog about it because I needed time to process.  I’ve been an avid church goer for years and his rhetoric is disturbing yet powerful.  I do not agree that pity and compassion are the worst things in life and I 100% believe in a higher power and the golden rule.  These fundamental concepts apply to your family, personal life, business success, and everything else.

Now assuming there is a God it may have been Stephen Hawking.  He’s seen by many as the world’s smartest person and is thought to have the highest IQ.  He was a theoretical physicist and died at the age of 76 on March 14 2018.

hawkingI read A Briefer History of Time which is a shorter and updated version of the original.  The notion that a book about cosmology (the study of the universe), including topics such as elementary particles and the unification of physics, could become a widespread bestseller is surprising.  Hawking defied all odds: he was given a life expectancy of two years in 1963, when at age twenty-one when he was diagnosed with a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He wrote about the origin and composition of the universe in accessible terminology for the masses. By explaining complex topics such as relativity and quantum mechanics, and phenomena such as the big bang and black holes, Hawking expanded general interest in cosmology and sold more than twenty million copies. What distinguishes Hawking’s bestseller from traditional scientific textbooks is his ability to be clear, without the use of intimidating equations. Indeed, only one equation appears in the entire book: E = mc2.

hawking 2Hawking begins with an account of the historical studies of astronomy by ancients such as Aristotle and Ptolemy. The concept of a round-shaped Earth that was held by Aristotle was contrary to most others of his time. He came to this conclusion via his observations of lunar eclipses and by considering the altitude of the North Star from various observational points.  Next, space and time are examined, especially with respect to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.  Hawking goes on to the big bang, which grew to be the dominant theory of the creation of the universe.  Then he describes what is known as a “grand unified theory” in which some scientists attempt to explain weak and strong nuclear forces and electromagnetic forces in a unified manner.

black holesBlack holes are a central focus too. Black holes are stars that have collapsed into one very small point called a singularity. They have a very strong gravitational force, thus are able to pull things, including light and stars, to their centers. Black holes are almost impossible to locate because they do not let light out. However, they can be seen by telescopes when they suck in other stars, thus emitting x-rays.  Worm holes and time travel are discussed as well.  A worm hole is, in theory, a passage that could serve as a shortcut through the universe by collapsing space and time. He contends that time travel must be possible and the only thing that remains is the engineering to build a time machine.

Pork Chops and Applesauce, the 18 & Over 8.0 mixed doubles team that I’ve captained since 2004tennis fun got roughed up at Districts this past weekend.  We have qualified for postseason play more often than not and have advanced to Nationals twice (2008 & 2010).  I think all three teams we faced (UD Ballerz captained by Henry Kim, Ninjas Nuts & Berries – led by Lauren Park, and Kinetix – Krista & Jeff Crosten) were among the toughest teams we’ve ever faced.  We brought a great lineup and our superstars over the weekend were undoubtedly Mary Brewster and Deanna Robinson.  A little humble pie is good for the soul I guess. Awesome job Ballerz – go Henry and team – I’m rooting for you!

I also captain a 9.0 team called HP.TA Chamberlin.  We merged with Rob Isaacs team out of Riverside and finished 2nd in the regular season.  We faced HPTA – Ballerz captained by Ngoc Tran in the single elimination format.  We lost and the Ballerz who went on to defeat the Tennis Addicts in the final.  I never thought I’d be spelling “Ballerz” so many times in one post.  Congrats guys – another super team with a fun group of players including one who sits next to me at work.  #SmallWorld

apple-airpod-review-3Apple AirPods are the greatest thing ever.  The Apple watch, eh, not so much.  My watch v3 works great but I really don’t find any of the features that impactful.  I wore a Fitbit for four years and it also let me know when someone was calling me.  Getting AirPods was a suggestion from my son Gregory.  I’ve learned that virtually all suggestions from my sons are golden nuggets that I ignore at my own peril.  I’ve had five other BluetoothIMG_5327 (1) headphone options and they each lacked functionality and were easy to lose.  AirPods are awesome because of how they operate.  For instance, if you take one out, it pauses whatever you are listening to, when you put it back in your ear the playback resumes – laying down or standing up.  They are the best business headset I’ve ever used with amazing sound and speech quality.  The case charges the AirPods in 15 minutes and there is Find my AirPods option in the Find my iPhone app.  Also, I resisted because I don’t want to be rude in public and they look funky but…. get yourself a pair for $160 and send me a thank you note later.  You’ll be thrilled.

How to use social media, alternatives to college, and bye bye Sears

May 3, 2018

twTwitter is for news, insInstagram is for fun, faceFacebook is for friends and family, ytYouTube is for settling in on the couch for the night. Remember when people used their phones as phones?

crushing itCrushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk is an go-to guide for building your personal brand and leveraging Social Media. Vaynerchuk explains the importance of a personal brand and shows you the endless possibilities that come with building one today.  Bottom line, it’s all about your personal brand, how much you care, and being authentic.  Success equals work ethic plus how much you care.  This concept is more important than anything else including a college degree depending on your area of interest (however doctors & lawyers still need college degrees).

This leads right into an important topic for our children.  What should they do after high school?  I think that the current educational system in the USA is a giant bubble that must eventually burst.  Costs are skyrocketing and will soon be $100k/year for the top schools.  Students spend an average of 2.6 hours per day in all related academic activities (school & studying), the average cumulative grades are now 3.4 vs. 2.6 twenty years ago, and benchmark performance tests have a US college student’s aptitude far below their international peers.  This a big reason why US companies can’t find the local talent they require.  Fantastic options in my opinion include attending many underrated community colleges for 2 years and then go to a major university, apprenticeships, and the military.  Here’s a great article on your options https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/is-college-for-everyone-10-alternatives-to-the-traditional-4-year-college/. 

searsSears is going away.   Kmart bought Sears in 2001 for $11.5B.  The market cap for Sears (SHLD) today is $313M – that’s a 97% drop.  Did you know that 1 in 3 homes has a Sears appliance in it?  Here’s a link to the Top 4 Reasons Sears Could File Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2018. https://www.thestreet.com/story/14450394/1/sears-could-bankrupt-in-2018.html

Check back in a few days for my best post ever!  I’m going to review three books that could change your life, I’ll recap my 8.0 & 9.0 mixed doubles teams results this weekend in the Philadelphia 18+ Mixed Districts playoffs being held at Pennsbury Racket Club, and I’ll share the best accessory ever for your iPhone.  The books I’ll recap are Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time, Frederick Nietzsche’s AntiChrist, and Raising Men: Life Lessons from Navy SEAL Training by Gary Davis.

 

Order and Chaos, 12 Rules for Life, AI, and Grip size

April 6, 2018

1200px-Yin_yang.svg

The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section. In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad.  In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole.

Said another way, In Chinese philosophy, yin yang describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.  Others would reference The Circle of  Life and that from chaos comes order, from order chaos appears.  Life is fluid so consider the concept of simply jogging in place just to stay where you are in life.

12Rules4lifeJordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are the psychology of religious and ideological belief, and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.

12 Rules for Life knocked my socks off.  I highly recommend it.  My favorite takeaways from this book are:

  • You evaluate yourself and precisely how and where you fit in to society.  Your perception then becomes reality emotionally and physically.
  • It takes a village to organize a mind.
  • If a married person discovers unknown facts about their partner it will change their perception and understanding of them.  But, perhaps more importantly, it also changes their own perception and understanding themselves.
  • Treat yourself with the same care and compassion you would with a child or loved one.
  • What saves is the willingness to learn from what you don’t know.

 “Grow up and man up is the message from this rock-star psychologist. . . . ”  It’s a self-help manual of self-reliance, good behavior, self-betterment and individualism.  Formerly a Harvard professor, now at the University of Toronto, Peterson retains that whiff of cowboy philosophy—one essay is a homily on doing one thing every day to improve yourself. cheetos

Another, on bringing up little children to behave, is excellent…. [Peterson] twirls ideas around like a magician.” —Melanie Reid, The Times.  And remember, living in your parent’s basement, playing video games covered in Cheetos dust is not a fulfilling path.

Artificial Intelligence – pay attention!!  This is important.

AI is already helping decide who gets a job or whether somebody gets out of jail. But how objective are the algorithms behind these often life-altering decisions?  You will soon have an algorithm classifying you (think recent Facebook revelations) along side your name on your resume when applying for any organization, for a mortgage, and perhaps for on-line dating.  The concept of such accurate information based on the myriad amounts of data available combined with your social media presence, web history, texting, financial, GPS and many other sources is eye opening.  Those who can aggregate data will apply algorithms that will only get smarter and smarter with historical data.  This leads to the ability  to determine future behavior.  How do you know what criteria is used and how do you correct errors?

 

I am reposting this excellent post, it’s fabulousHow to Reduce the Grip Size of Tennis Rackets   BY  MICHELE M. HOWARD

Playing tennis with the wrong grip size can cause the racket to twist in your hand, making it harder to hold or leading to arm problems. You have a few options if your handle is too large and needs to be reduced. Handles made of wood or foam can be reduced by carefully shaving off a small amount of material. But if the handle is made of carbon graphite, it can’t be shaved without compromising the strength of the handle. Some options are easy to do yourself, while others require an expert.

Shaving Technique

Step 1

Remove the tape securing the synthetic or leather grip to the top of the handle. Unwrap and remove the grip. As you do this, be mindful of how the grip was installed so you can reverse the process when installing a new grip. Pull off any remaining adhesive tape.

Step 2

Remove all staples or tacks securing the butt cap to the handle, using an awl to pry them loose and a pair of pliers to pull them out. Set the butt cap to the side.

Step 3

Measure the circumference of the handle with a flexible measuring tape. Note the size as you will need to check the shaved circumference against this measurement.

Step 4

Color all eight sides of the handle with a permanent marker. This helps you remove an even amount of material and helps you maintain crisp, beveled edges as you remove the material.

Step 5

Hold a rasp flat against one of the sides and carefully file off a small portion of the handle material. As you remove the material, the marker color is also removed. The difference in color between the side you are working on and the adjacent sides helps you see if a straight line along the beveled edge is being maintained. Continue to work on this side until all of the marker color is removed. Repeat this process on every other side of the handle for a total of four sides.

Step 6

Recolor these four filed sides with the permanent marker. Repeat the filing process on the four sides that have not yet been filed. Be sure to only remove a small portion and to maintain a straight beveled edge between sides.

Step 7

Measure the circumference of the handle. Compare this measurement with the initial measurement. It is recommended that only one grip size, one-eighth of an inch, be removed. If you shave off more than that, you risk filing completely through the handle material. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 if you have not shaved off enough material. You may need to repeat this process a few times before achieving the desired size.

Step 8

Wipe down the handle with a clean rag to remove any shavings. Slide the butt cap onto the bottom of the handle. Insert tacks into every other side of the butt cap using a tack gun.

Step 9

Install a new self-adhesive grip. Pull off 8 inches of backing from the grip but don’t cut it off. Stick the tapered end of the grip onto the edge of the handle at the butt cap. Wrap the grip around the handle in reverse of the way you removed the old grip. When you get close to having 8 inches installed, pull off another 8 inches of backing. Continue to wrap the grip until you get to the top of the handle.

Step 10

Cut off the excess grip with scissors and wrap the supplied finishing tape around the top to secure the grip to the handle.

Other Options

Step 1

Follow the instructions as outlined in Step 1 of the previous section to remove the current grip and expose the bare handle. If the old grip is a cushion grip, install a thinner replacement grip. This may reduce the grip size just enough for your needs.

Step 2

Remove the grip and install one or two thin overwraps onto the bare handle. This makes the grip significantly smaller but you lose the cushioning you get from a replacement grip.

Step 3

Remove the grip and examine how the handle is made. Some racquet manufacturers design the handles with removable parts called pallets. The pallets can be changed out to a different size. Changing the pallets is a difficult process, so if your handle has pallets take it to a racquet specialist who has the necessary tools and expertise.

 

The Devil is in the detail

February 15, 2018

In everything we do, our careers, guidance to our children, and efforts to improve the world around us, success lies in the details.  It’s so crazy how drastic even the small details change – in such an amazing way.  In other words, “The devil is in the detail.” Accomplishing a successful project might seem simple at a first look but often it will take more time and effort to complete than expected.  Plan accordingly.

freshly deadWatch YouTube clip

Dr. Frankenstein[To Igor] Igor, may I speak to you for a moment?

Igor: Of course.

Dr. Frankenstein: Sit down, won’t you?

Igor: Thank you. [sits on the floor]

Dr. Frankenstein: No no, up here.

Igor: Thank you. [sits on a chair]

Dr. Frankenstein: Now… that brain that you gave me… was it Hans Delbruck’s?   Igor[Crosses arms] No.

Dr. Frankenstein[Holds up hand] Ah. Good. Uh… would you mind telling me… whose brain… I did put in?

Igor: And you won’t be angry?   Dr. Frankenstein: I will not be angry.

Igor[Shrugs] Abby…someone.  Dr. Frankenstein: Abby someone? Abby who?  Igor: Abby Normal.  Dr. Frankenstein[takes a deep breath] Abby Normal?   Igor: I’m almost sure that was the name. [He and Dr. Frankenstein laugh] Dr. Frankenstein: Are you saying… [Stands] that I put an abnormal brain… [Puts hand on Igor’s hump] into a 7 and a half foot long… 54- inch wide… [Grabs Igor by throat] GORILLA?!?!?! [Strangling Igor] IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME!?!

mcVegan

If there’s one thing McDonald’s wants you to think right now, it’s that it isn’t, you know, McDonald’s.  Not the old McDonald’s, that is.  Not the old, slightly worn, very predictable McDonald’s where the ice-cream machines rarely seemed to work.

The burger chain is trying all sorts of peculiar things to change its image.

It’s using, gasp, fresh beef. Or even no beef at all in its McVegan Burger pictured above. Oh my!

 

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was comment after comment Monday, February 13th about the capabilities (and risks) of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.  These tools present new capabilities, shorten decision cycles, and are game changing to our lives in this decade.  The first major security challenge that was brought up is IoT (Internet of Things).  You’ll learn so much more about this soon.

Active Shooter Training.  Schools must do this immediately.  Companies do it.  Schools do fire drills when there hasn’t been a significant school fire in 50 years.  There’s been 8 school shootings in 2018.

active-shooter

2017 Nationals

October 16, 2017

ek logo (3)We had a fun weekend competing in the USTA 18+ 4.0 Men’s National Championships.  I am the captain of Easy Killer (team name means – whoa there big fella, chillax, it’s only tennis).  We had 9 players who competed in the 95 degree sun in Surprise, AZ against the other 16 Sections in the country for the 2017 national championship.  Each match is 5 individual courts (2 singles and 3 doubles) so you have to win 3 courts to win a team match.

Up first we played a team from Des Moines. IA.  Individually, this was my toughest opponent by far and he was the best sportsman ever and had us laughing numerous times.  Our opponent is the definition of what tennis and life is all about.  I nominated him for the sportsmanship award.  Ron Bradfield – what a class act.  The match was the highlight of the weekend for me and Easy Killer started the festivities with a 5-0 win.

Match 1 vs Des Moines

Up next we played Minneapolis and won 5-0 again.

Match 2 vs MinneapolisIn the third match we faced Honolulu, HI with the winner advancing to the semi-finals.  They were also 2-0 coming in winning each match 3-2.  Despite the sage advice shared by a few teammates (don’t fuck it up) we lost 2-3 and did not advance.

Match 3 vs Honolulu

nats standingsLooking back it seemed, for a minute, that a title seemed plausible…  Then we saw the final on Sunday.  SoCal (all small, quick, pan-asian guys against Southern (from Jackson, Mississippi) a bunch of very fit, tall white 18-20 somethings wearing Ole Miss Tennis shirts.  They were aggressive clearly the best team.  And so young.

We learned a few things along the way.  We have some great partnerships.  Neal Rutman IMG_3637(co-captain)/Chris Wasson went 6-0 together at Sectionals and Nationals.  Matt Short and me went 10-1 at Districts, Sectionals and Nationals.  Victor Munoz and <insert name here> make an excellent team.  Victor and Jimmy Kaufman had outstanding performances at Nationals as did Victor and Henry Kim and Guy Judkowski at Sectionals.  Oh, and we have some decent singles players too.  Adam Simon and Phil David set the pace for us all year – our top two players for sure. Thank you team for the memorable season and being such terrific teammates.

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Easy Killer advances to Nationals #SneakerGate

August 24, 2017
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Phil and Russell

I captain an 18+ 4.0 men’s USTA tennis team named Easy Killer.  The team name means “whoa, chill big fella, it’s only tennis.”  We won our local league that started in April and then a month ago we won a close match over Germantown CC to win the Philadelphia District and earn a berth into Sectionals.  Our section is Middle States which is comprised of NJ, DE and PA.  The winner of sectionals advances to Nationals to represent Middle States vs. the 16 other sections in the US for the 2017 National Championship.

On Friday, we only played once and we took it on the chin losing our first match to AMD (Pittsburgh) 2-3.  Rain forced us indoors and to play 8 game ad-scoring pro sets.  As I shared with my team, it almost always comes down to the final match on Sunday and we have 4 more matches to go.  We choose how we respond to this challenge…

Saturday was a good day.  We went 9-1 on the day dropping Central 4-1 and New Jersey 5-0.  Sat kudos go to our singles guys Adam Simon and Phil David.  Matt Short had two outstanding performances, Victor Munoz/Henry Kim had another superb W and there was an amazing, 2.5 hour performance by Chris Wasson/guy judkowski at #1 doubles against a solid NJ team.  The top 3 teams after Saturday were Delaware 3-0, AMD (Pittsburgh) 3-1, and Philly (us) 2-1.

#SneakerGate – this changed everything.  On Sat AMD was up 2-0 with wins over Philly & NJ on Friday.  AMD’s match vs. Delaware was tied 2-2 and came down to a match tiebreaker at #2 singles.  Then, the DE player’s shoe came completely apart.  AMD wanted a penalty, a game, or for him to continue.  To that end, their teammates were getting the officials to come to this court.  In a few minutes, someone got the DE singles player’s spare sneaker out his car and the tiebreaker commenced with the officials still in route to the court.  The AMD player was up 9-6 in the match breaker, served, came to net with a putaway volley, holds his racket completely vertical and pushes forward without turning sideways.  He clips the tape with the sure winner and it falls back on his side. DE wins the next 4 points, wins the breaker 11-9 and suddenly we’re alive again and controlling our own destiny.  Had he successfully made the volley, AMD would have been 3-0 with the two weakest teams to play. Or, in other words, it was OVER GOPHER.

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Dave R, Chuck Sublett, me & Matt Short

On Sunday we faced Eastern in the morning and Delaware (who was 4-0) at Noon.  Delaware was a superb team and we did well to get past them.  The Delaware team, top to bottom, is just about strongest players, fun guys and best sports you will meet.  The pic on the left was one of the doubles courts (Dave Resurreccion/Chuck Sublett vs. Russell/Matt Short.

Saturday and Sunday combined we won 19 out of 20 courts individual courts (each match is comprised of 2 singles and 3 doubles matches).  This clinched the first tiebreaker (individual team wins) by 8.

EK 2017 Sectionals

Everyone stepped up and was team first.  Well done gents!  Nationals are Oct 13-15th in Surprise, AZ.  What a great group – thank you for the memorable weekend.  Nationals will be a blast.  #YesWeCan

Cool tech Part Deux

February 10, 2017

This is the second half of my Cool Tech post.  Having moved over the Summer, I had the opportunity to experiment with Kevo, Ring, Hue, Arlo, and the Echo.  Here’s my reviews along with the Russell rating system of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) tennis balls.

kevoKevo $200 is a deadbolt lock for doors.  It’s Bluetooth and you control it via an app on your phone.  Despite having it professionally installed it has intermittant issues, a slow interface and poor battery life.  I think the unit should have better options such as automatically unlocking when you approach.  I’ve contacted their support and they are helpful but the solution is not fully baked.  This is software, c’mon man, improve it!!  Russell’s ratingtennis-ball

Ring $200 is a doorbell with a camera that connects to WiFi.  If ringyou already have a doorbell you can easily wire it into Ring.  If you don’t hard wire it, you can run it on batteries.  It has an app for your phone so you can see and talk to who’s at your door.  It’s motion sensor and cloud storage saves everything that it sees.  It has an optional ringer too that’s $30.  Russell’s ratingtennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-ball

hue-1Philips Hue is LED lighting available in adhesive strips, stand-alone hue3lights, and traditional LED lightbulbs.  It’s $10/foot for the strips so it’s not cheap. You cab set up zones and control everything via an app on your phone.  Think accent lighting and places where you can have indirect lighting.  There are themes and Hue lighting can be any color.  There are additional apps like Hue Disco and Hue Fireworks that put your lights to music and simulate (in this case) fireworks. Remember, it’s always good to have fireworks on demand in your house!  Russell’s ratingtennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-ball

arloArlo $300 with 2 (max 5) cameras and the base.  This is a wireless high-def camera’s in your house with cloud storage accessible via an app on your phone.  The cameras can be wall mounted in seconds and set to on, off, or motion detect. To me this is added security for your house because I know who came in and out of all entrances and when.  Plus, I can see my cat on demand.  Russell’s rating: tennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-ball

The Amazon Echo is a round black cylinder with an audio system connected by WiFi.  The Echo interacts with you by voice, and answers to the name Alexa. If you don’t like the name you can call it Amazon.

echo-dotThe Echo could become the center of your home automation efforts by acting as the brains of your home automation and IoT network. Alexa, or the Echo, understands queries and commands issued in natural language. The Echo is always listening for interaction from anywhere in the room.  To get Echo’s attention you begin commands with its name, i. e. “Alexa.”

megan-and-jackEcho can be connected via its app to the major audio streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Amazon’s Prime Music. Once it’s connected, you can say things like “Alexa, play Megan Davies.”

You can pair your phone or tablet with the Echo over Bluetooth and use it as a wireless speaker. Once paired, you connect/disconnect it by telling Alexa to do so. Once connected, open the app on the phone and play music normally and it plays through the Echo speaker system. It’s not the best audio system, but it’s good enough for casual listening.  Simple tasks available are making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, reading PDFs, providing weather forecasts, warning you of traffic conditions, answering trivia, and supplying information in real-time.   Russell’s ratingtennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-balltennis-ball

Tennis updates – there’s a FaceBook group for Middle States League Tennis. Please check it regularly for updates and information. Here’s the Facebook page Middle States League Tennis.  By the way, the adult season in Philly starts the last two weeks of April.

Pork Chops and Applesauce (PCA)  My Philly 18+ 8.0 Mixed team got off to a shaky start this season essentially splitting courts in the our first three matches.  The league is composed of 3 flights, 2 flights of 6 and our flight of 9.  We have to win our flight to guarantee advancing.  We have 5 unbelievable teams in our flight, all easily capable of winning at Districts and Sectionals.  They are Great Valley, Healthplex, UMLY and Springton Just for Fun.  We’ve been on a roll recently so hopefully we can advance out of local league.  Good grief,when did things become so competitive?!?!

Bryn Mawr Bashers is my 40+ 8.0 Mixed team.  This is a good team and we’re in a dogfight to advance but there does seem to be a path to Districts.  Having a such a small team full of fun teammates facing excellent competition is what it’s all about.  For the record, I never expected 40+ to be this much fun…  (don’t say it).

Lastly, Boeing produces over forty 737 airplanes a month.  This video accessible via the link below shows the epitome of cool tech. Image:The train arrives with the main body in the morning and in this 3 minute time lapse video it shows you the fabrication of a new plane.  Watch this amazing process here Boeing 737 assembly line.  Check back soon and please share your comments.