Category Archives: Life Journal

Rise of the Machines, Part 3

Friendly robot

For some reason, we (meaning humans) have a tendency to anthropomorphize things, whether they are objects, animals, or phenomena around us. We assume that everything that we interact with in our environment rationalizes and thinks like us, that the things around us experience feelings and emotions the same way we do.

I do it with my dog quite often. I imagine him thinking about how much he likes to go for a walk, or how he wishes he could have steak for dinner every night. And while my dog does display some strangely human-like behaviors, it doesn’t change the fact that he is still a dog, an animal. A lot of what he does is instinctual or based on learned behavior as result of routine or training.

A similar problem arises with artificial intelligence. Because of how it responds to our questions, we have a tendency to attribute human qualities to it. We think that it wants to please us or be our friend. We assume it feels remorse when it doesn’t understand us because it responds with ‘”I’m sorry.” We’re amazed at how it knows the answers we’re looking for. While these things do feel oddly human, it doesn’t change the fact that we are dealing with a machine. The behaviors are based on the attributes programmed into it or learned from the data it’s fed. For both creators and users of AI, this is an important concept that must not be overlooked.

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College Sports – One step closer to the edge

I’ve written rants twice before about college athletics..

In my first post, ‘Paying college athletes isn’t the answer,’ I felt as thought college athletics had gotten too big for its own good. In the ten years since I wrote that post in April 2014, it’s only grown bigger. It’s grown so large that the landscape of college athletics has been forever changed with recent conference realignments throwing the entire system into a state of chaos.

In my second post, ‘The absurdity of college athletics,’ which was written in February 2016, I bemoaned how colleges have lost their way by placing an emphasis on athletics over education. Since I wrote that article, major colleges have continued to shift their priorities in favor of athletics. If there is any question, follow the money. You’ll see that its athletics driving revenue generation, money spent, and donations from wealthy alumni and boosters.

The absurdity of college athletics has only grown since my first two posts.

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Rise of the Machines, Part 2

Humanoid machine

In my first post about the rise of the machines and the emergence of artificial intelligence, I talked about the possibilities and opportunities. It embodies my general opinion that change isn’t something to resist. Resistance is futile, especially when it comes to technology. Instead, change is something to embrace. The earlier it is embraced, the better we, as a whole, can prepare for the opportunities and guard against the downsides.

While I am generally optimistic about artificial intelligence, I do have concerns. If we are going to reap the benefits that the technology has to offer, we need to acknowledge the risks and downsides. We must make sure that the provisions to protect against potentially bad outcomes are put in place. Given how fast technology advances, particularly AI, these provisions need to be created and enacted sooner rather than later.

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Why doing the hard things matter

I can still remember the day my oldest daughter asked me why she should take calculus in high school. When she said she wasn’t going to need it in college or for her job, I didn’t have a good answer. Sure, I used high school calculus to get my engineering degree, but that’s the last time I remember doing a derivative, integral, or derivative matrix.

Since I didn’t have a good answer, she ended up skipping math her senior year. I couldn’t come up with a good answer for my other kids as they went through high school either, although they ended up taking math through their senior year. I suppose they gave in to peer pressure.

To be honest, I’ve always wondered why I was required (i.e forced) to take certain classes in high school and college. Why does an electrical engineer need to know Chemistry, Thermodynamics, and Materials Science?

It wasn’t until I came across this post by Nat Eliason, Proof You Can Do Hard Things, that the answer became obvious. It’s too bad I hadn’t realized it years ago.

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Meditation and faith

I began meditating regularly around the beginning of 2019. It’s hard to believe that I’ve kept at it for over four years. I’ve written about my meditation experience in the past, which you can read about it in these prior posts if you’re interested:

Just because I’ve meditated for four years doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, nor do I profess to be one. However, I have learned a lot through the practice, both about myself, and the connection between meditation and faith.

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Golfing in Northern Michigan: Arcadia Bluffs, Forest Dunes, and more

Arcadia Bluffs Clubhouse

Brad and I like to do a golf trip every year. This year, we decided to go to Northern Michigan. It was going to be hard to surpass the experience of our last two trips – The Monterey Peninsula and Bandon Dunes. In fact, I’m not sure anywhere, outside of a trip to Scotland or Ireland, would compare to those locations, each of which I would highly recommend. Northern Michigan, on the other hand, wasn’t anywhere near the top of my list of golf destinations. In fact, it wasn’t even on my list. Needless to say, my expectations were pretty low.

For the trip, we did a little research, broke out Golf Digest’s list of top public golf courses, and did some asking around. We put together a list of courses that included Forest Dunes, Garland Lodge & Golf Resort, Grand Traverse Resort, and Arcadia Bluffs.

Before getting into the details, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised.

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My Volunteer Experience at the US Open

US Open sign on the hillside below the 4th tee at Los Angeles Country Club

The moment I heard that the USGA had chosen Los Angeles Country Club to host the Mens US Open Golf Championship, I knew I wanted to go. I just had to given how close I live to the course. I’d been to a major golf tournament venue before, but that was a practice round at the Masters back in 2018. It was an over-the-top experience, but I wanted to attend a major during the tournament rounds, and the US Open has been an event on my “to attend” bucket list.

When rumors started to swirl that the USGA would be limiting ticket sales to the tournament, I decided to sign-up as a volunteer. One of the perks of volunteering is that you get access to the grounds on both the days of your volunteer shifts and the days you’re off. Yes, I had to pay for the volunteer gear (which, by the way, is very nice), but it’s a small amount compared to what I would have paid for a ticket. In my mind, the cost of the gear and my time would be worth the experience.

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Las Vegas: Off The Strip

I’ve been going to Las Vegas on a regular basis for almost 30 years. Up until the last few years, I spent nearly all of my time on The Strip. There is so much to do on that stretch of road that you can easily overlook the fact that Las Vegas is a major metropolitan area with over 2 million residents. Considering this reality, I figured there had to be plenty of things to do that were not on The Strip. I was certain that those who make their home in Vegas don’t spend all their time under the lights and at the tables.

The Bellagio and Caesar's Palace on The Strip in Las Vegas

So over the last few years, I’ve researched and explored food, coffee, and recreation options that aren’t on Las Vegas Boulevard. As of 2023, here’s a collection of some of the best places I’ve found that are worth the trip off The Strip.

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Behind the Scenes at a PGA Tour Event

Last year, I signed up as a volunteer for the US Open, which is being held at The Los Angeles Country Club. I’ve been wanting to attend a US Open for some time, and this seemed like a good opportunity given how close it is to home.

When the USGA sent out their request for volunteers, I figured, why not? The cost for the volunteer package was on par with the cost for tickets. Plus, it guaranteed access without having to go through the ticket lottery, which is more challenging than usual this year. Tickets are in limited supply due to capacity constraints at LACC.

The rub is that I had never volunteered at a professional golf tournament. Given the importance of the event, I figured I should get some experience before showing up. For my first assignment, I volunteered at a local LPGA event, which turned out to be a great experience. For my second assignment, I decided to volunteer at The Genesis Invitational, the PGA Tour event held at The Riviera Country Club.

The sign for the PGA Genesis Invitational from behind
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