I get out to Las Vegas a couple of times every year. Usually, I’m there without a car, and my coffee options are limited to what’s available on The Strip. Unless you’re drinking the coffee from one of the restaurants, about the only place you can get a cup is by venturing into one of the stores with the big green logo.
Since I’m not a big fan of their coffee, and I had access to a car on my recent trip to Vegas, I decided it was time to venture off The Strip to see what Las Vegas had to offer in the way of coffee. Given the population density, I figured there must be at least a couple of worthy options if I was up for doing some exploring. Without giving too much away, let’s just say my hunch was correct.
A couple of the computer science topics that I am deeply interested in are machine learning and artificial intelligence. I’m particularly interested in the progress and development of artificial intelligence. It’s already a part of our everyday life. Currently, it’s narrow in the tasks that it handles. If you’ve ever used Google’s search engine, the Facebook news feed, a maps application for directions, or the sales chat/IM features on a website, you’ve interacted with AI.
The development path for AI is to move it from narrow to more general tasks. It is here where there is a fear that AI will reach the point of “singularity.” Singularity is considered the point of runaway technological advancement where the AI moves from narrow tasks to general intelligence. At that point, it develops the ability to learn, or improve itself, faster than humans can control it. In the apocalyptic scenarios, the AI evolves rapidly to the point where it sees humans as resources to be optimized, which might eventually result in the extinction of the human race. While that is the grim side, there is also the hopeful side that a runaway AI will usher in a new age of prosperity for the human race in which rote, menial tasks are done by machines while humans can focus on more meaningful items.
In addition to sampling Seattle’s coffee and ice cream scene (two of my favorite indulgences, by the way), I had the opportunity to check out a few restaurants during my time there this summer, too. The restaurant selection in Seattle is large, diverse, and good – very good. It doesn’t top San Francisco or New York City in my opinion, but it certainly holds its own. Of the numerous places I tried, here are the ones that stood out. They’re the ones that I hope to get back to someday and would recommend to anyone visiting the city.
To keep myself honest with my diet and fitness, I like reading the occasional health related book. Through various referral paths, I got turned on to The Endurance Handbook by Dr. Philip Maffetone. Dr. Maffetone has spent most of his career working with endurance athletes to help them achieve peak performance and has written many books on the subject. In this book, Maffetone describes the methods and routines he teaches endurance athletes, which he has wrapped into a program that he calls the MAF Method.
What stands out about the MAF Method is that it’s not your conventional training program. It eschews a lot of the “no pain, no gain” themes that are the foundation of most modern workout programs. Instead Maffetone’s focus is on teaching the body to use and burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. While this is an important concept for endurance athletes, there’s a lot you can get out of the book even if you are just looking to futher your knowledge of nutrition, training, and fitness.
Those who know me know that I like Seattle. I had wanted to go there for the longest time, and my first visit a couple of years ago exceeded my expectations. So when my daughter Courtney landed an internship in the city for the summer, I immediately knew what I would be doing – visiting her!
I’ve made a couple of trips there recently, and it gets better each time. I’ve had more time to explore and search out those places that are hidden gems. Just like my first visit, I haven’t been disappointed in what I’ve found.
As luck would have it, I discovered over the last year that I’m a “foodie”. Don’t ask how. That’s a post for a different time. But being a foodie means I can get picky about where and what I eat. Fortunately, Seattle does not lack for good places. As part of my exploring, I’ve discovered that Seattle takes two particular food items very seriously – ice cream and coffee, which is fine by me. It just so happens these are two of my favorite indulgences. Give me good ice cream and good coffee, and I’m a happy camper. Give me both, and I’m in heaven.
If you’re heading to Seattle, here’s my go-to list of places to try out. If you live in the area, I’d love to hear your opinion and any recommendations you might have for my next visit.
When you dig into a genre of books, you quickly find that the depth of additional books you discover gets deeper and deeper. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
For example, last year I split my reading into morning and evening reads. Evening reads are my traditional fun reads, which include science fiction, business narratives, and health & fitness. My morning reads were a new addition to my routine. These reads focus on developing the proper mindset and approach to life. I had a good seed of books to get me started. What’s great is that the more of these books you read, the more books and resources that you discover. While they are all variations on the same theme, the repetition and reinforcement is good for developing the mind. It’s no different than lifting weights to build strength. The exercises may vary and work different parts of the body, but the combined effect of repeatedly performing the exercises keeps you physically fit. Well my morning reads keep me mentally fit.
One of the books that consistently appeared in my morning reads was The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. It was referenced so many times that I knew I had to read it for myself.
Back in 2012, my dad asked me to apply for tickets to The Masters. He had been applying for a few years and wasn’t having any luck getting tickets through their annual lottery. He figured that having me, my sister, my uncle, and a few others apply would increase his chances of getting to go back to the event, as he was lucky enough to have gone once before.
Every year since then I would apply, and I would get the same response around mid-June:
We have completed the random selection process for Daily Tournament tickets and regret to inform you that your application was not selected for tickets.
I’m certain that many of you are familiar with that message.
This year, I was shocked when I opened the email with the standard 2018 Masters Tickets subject line and read the following:
Congratulations. The Masters Tournament is pleased to announce that our random selection process for 2018 Practice Rounds tickets has been completed and your application for tickets has been selected.
My immediate reaction was what do I do now? To which my Dad replied, BUY THE TICKETS!!!
Needless to say, the tickets were purchased, and the planning began. It was a long wait from the time I received the email on June 20, 2017 to attending the practice round on April 4, 2018.
If Jim Nantz calls the tournament “A tradition like no other,” then attending The Masters is an experience like no other. It is difficult to convey how impressive everything in and around the event is in words and pictures, but I’m going to give it a try in the rest of this post.
My go-to resource for web analytics is Avinash Kaushik. Guru does not adequately describe his level of expertise on the topic. If you have any interest in analytics, his blog is a great resource that is chock full of information. The articles are deep dives into the concepts, techniques, and tools that allow you to get the most out of your online presence. For bite-sized pieces of insight, I’d recommend subscribing to his newsletter, which you can do from his website.
So what does Avinash Kaushik have to do with the book Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It? In June of last year, Avinash mentioned the book in one of his newsletters. I have such high regard for his opinions and insights, that I immediately added the book to the top of my reading list.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Ferris Bueller was right when he said, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that we moved Brad into his freshman dormitory at Eastern Michigan University. Well, whether I want to believe it or not, it was four years ago! Yup, four. years. ago. Where did the time go?
We recently got back from Brad’s graduation. Based on the picture at the right, I’m not sure who was happier. I know Brad had to be excited, but we as parents were also happy to have our second one through college. Having the financial burden and responsibility of a second child finishing school is a clear cause for celebration. It’s also a time for reflection, which I did plenty of during the weekend.
Yes, it is the year 2018. And yes, I recently read a sci-fi book that was published 50 years ago. And yes, I enjoyed it, a lot.
Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a classic. It’s amazing to me how much of the book is relevant today. While PKD may have been a little off with how soon his fictional androids would become a reality, it’s quite possibly a future that is not that far away.
If you’re not already aware, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis of the original Blade Runner movie. I first saw the movie in the late eighties and really enjoyed it. It was many years later before I realized that it was based on PKD’s book. I make a conscious effort to read classic science fiction, so I added it to my reading list. The book languished on my never ending reading list for a few years. When Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the original movie, came out last year, I decided it was time to move the book up in my reading queue. I was determined to read the book before seeing the movie (which, by the way, I still haven’t seen yet).