STEM. Questions. Good News. A Hero. Anatoly.

Trade And Vocational Schools. End Of April Questions. Saving The Day. So Funny, So Strong.

  • STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Trade-oriented instruction at the high school level and beyond was usually reserved for boys and young men, and to a degree, to groups of students seen as low achieving or low ability. This dynamic, dovetailed with many school systems reducing or eliminating traditional vocational offerings, has put the U.S. labor market in a precarious situation. As the world, and hopefully the U.S., move forward with solar electric, solar thermal, and geothermal systems, the alarm has gone off with the lack of tradespeople who are trained to install and service these types of systems. Electricians, plumbers, and other construction-related trades will be more essential as we move forward, and there are many critical issues with providing young people the essential training to eventually fill millions of available jobs.

I feel strongly that the “valorizing” of white-collar jobs has gone off the rails. We have put an emphasis on tech workers and the so-called knowledge economy. As we have all experienced, the tech world has again changed quickly, with most tech-related entities laying off workers and right-sizing their workforce, while the trade-related businesses are begging for workers to support their increasing workloads. A startling statistic from Stanley Black & Decker: In 2022, there were six hundred and fifty thousand unfilled jobs in construction-related trades in the United States, and ten million worldwide. From a personal standpoint, I had my car serviced last week. When I picked up my car, I briefly spoke to the owner of the car service and repair center. She told me that they are desperately looking for auto mechanics, offering $37 per hour, and cannot find anyone to interview. She told me she went to list the job on Indeed, but there were already fifteen pages of listings for auto mechanics – just in the central Florida area. Yes, we have a problem and one that is going to cause big issues as we move forward with 21st century technologies. Investing in vocational schools may be a smart play.

I Have Ten Questions For the End of April:

  • Is the conflict in Sudan a war between two Generals, or a proxy war involving Russia and the United States?
  • Is anyone up for another Covid booster?
  • Thank you, CNN. With that said, does anyone really care where Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson end up?
  • Were there no checks and balances or redundancy allowing a lower-level intelligence officer to download and steal classified documents?
  • Is the smell of cannabis wafting the New York City area not better than the smell of garbage – especially on a hot, summer day?
  • Many are taking the Netflix series “The Diplomat” too seriously. Can we not just enjoy the writing and plot without questioning the political semantics?
  • It is day 432 of the Russia-Ukraine war. How long will Vladimir Putin’s collateral damage continue with the sovereign nation of Ukraine?
  • Does anyone have a phone that folds?
  • What economic indicator is your barometer to forecast the near-term economy? One of mine is truck traffic as it is a forward-looking indicator, as trucks move products before consumers spend money. My other positive economic indicator is airport growth. For example, the Sarasota-Bradenton airport is the fastest growing airport in the country. There must be some strong economic indicators in southwest Florida.
  • With all the negative news we see/read daily, how can we reward this young man, who saved the day (and some lives) with his calm and heroic action?

  • You have to smile when you watch former world-class Ukrainian powerlifter Vladimir Shmondenko, who introduces himself to gym rats with the name “Anatoly.” Posing as a custodian, Shmondenko pranks the strong and mighty in a very funny way. At one time, Shmondenko was deemed, pound-for-pound, one of the strongest men worldwide. His acting and mannerisms are priceless, and the reactions from the people he interrupts are very funny.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Remember. Years 2020 & 2021. Intermodal. Respect. George’s Mother.

A Moment Of Silence. The Post-Pandemic Reality. High-Speed Rail. Prime Time Delivers A Message. RIP Estelle Harris.

  • Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. Two minutes of an air raid siren to remind people of the six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. This video shows traffic on a busy highway in Tel Aviv last Tuesday, with people coming to a stop to observe a moment of silence. Honor and sadness in one brief moment.
  • I returned late last week from an eight-day stint in Las Vegas. On the surface, you may think entertainment, food, and gambling, but this ordeal was dealing with a hundred details surrounding the massive National Association of Broadcasters conference. A great deal of work, very long days, and many meetings with customers, partners, and many media platforms. All went well with the conference, but something else was even more important and positive with these eight days in Sin City – the number of people at the conference, in the hotel, at restaurants, and at both the Orlando and Las Vegas airports. I was in Las Vegas during the Covid-19 turmoil, and the city was quiet, with hotels 75% empty, most restaurants only providing a take-out option, and the conference I participated in at 40% of their usual attendance. Thankfully and hopefully those days of despair are long gone as last week’s experience showed me that the food, travel, and entertainment business is once again strong and vibrant.

70,000 attendees and over 1,000 exhibitors at last week’s NAB show.

  • It is certainly not at the level of high-speed rail service that spans most of western Europe, but Florida’s intercity train system, at a minimum, is a good model for others states to follow. Eventually connecting South Florida with stations in West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa, the Brightline rail option will certainly be a welcomed alternative to driving I-4, I-95, and the Florida Turnpike.

The Miami-Orlando non-stop train will take three hours with other trains stopping in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, and Aventura. Tickets for some routes will be available next month with other routes, including Tampa, later this summer. A key step for Orlando is to obtain federal funding to connect their SunRail system to Brightline, which will provide Orlando residents easy access to Brightline routes. A long time coming but a welcome alternative for the state of Florida.

  • I have previously discussed Deion “Prime Time” Sanders – once a remarkable athlete who played in an afternoon NFL game with the Atlanta Falcons, and later that evening played in a Major League Baseball game with the Atlanta Braves. He is a coach now and does not exactly have a lot of experience or tenure as the head coach of a major college program. What he does bring is a high level of motivation and expectation to a team, with demands from his staff and players that do not sit well with many. In fact, his new head coaching tenure at the University of Colorado, all of five months, has seen many Colorado players leave the team for many different reasons. He has taken over the Colorado program after leading Jackson State University to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, losing only three games in two seasons. He has a mountain to climb with the Colorado program, who won one game last year, and lost their remaining eleven games by an average of 32 points. The ‘Sanders effect’ at Colorado has been amazing. Yesterday’s spring game had 45,000 people in attendance, apparel sales have jumped 525%, and 20,000 new season ticket applications have been processed since his December hiring. Most importantly, Sanders has delivered a stern message and warning to his players about respect. You have to love how he delivers this message to his players:
“Don’t have your momma call me.”

Five Things I Think I Think

  • If you think you had a rough week, take a look at Elon Musk. His Tesla investors are up in arms, his Twitter platform continues in controversy, and his SpaceX Starship exploded in midair shortly after takeoff. Rough week.
  • The Polar Ice Sheet loss now accounts for more than 25% of global sea level rise. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting seven times faster than in the 1990s. The ramifications of this ice sheet loss are too complicated for me to understand but obviously this is not good.
  • The Oakland A’s moving to Las Vegas? Another legacy franchise may be leaving its long-time roots for the money. Do you blame their ownership? I do not.
  • Nothing to do with politics, but I am done with Covid booster shots. Two shots and one booster will need to suffice.
  • Headline of the week: Alec Baldwin is working with a crew making a documentary about the Rust shooting. Take this the way you want, but the optics really look bad.

  • Seinfeld’s cast of characters were amazing, from the neurotic George Costanza to the looney-tunes Kramer. Estelle Harris, who played George’s mother, was one memorable character from the show, with her persistent level of paranoia and exasperation. This scene was one of her best in the twenty-seven episodes she appeared in from 1992-1998. Estelle Harris passed away at the age of ninety-three and will always be remembered as Estelle Costanza. RIP Ms. Harris.
The one and only Estelle Harris.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Have a Funday Sunday!

A Longer Border. MLB. Quotes. The Food.

Finland Puts A Line In The Sand. New Rules. Well Said. Passover Via The Italians.

  • Finland and other countries in the geographic region surrounding Russia have long maintained a military nonalignment. Finland had kept their distance from NATO since the end of WWII, but last week their application and entry into the thirty-one-country alliance was ceremoniously accepted at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The Nordic country became the alliance’s latest member, spurred by the war in Ukraine, in what becomes a strategic setback for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Putin is fuming with Finland’s inclusion in NATO, as the move doubles the alliance’s border with Russia, adding to NATO’s expansion to the east. Putin’s main concern is NATO having the largest artillery capability in Western Europe, with a reported 1,500 pieces in operation. Sweden may be next to join NATO, though their application is caught up in a political quandary with Turkey and Hungary. Does anyone want to provide their take on Putin’s next moves to counter NATO’s inclusion of Finland?

Thoughts for an Easter Sunday

  • Has Tiger played his last Masters?
  • Will mortgage rates continue to drop and spur home-buying?
  • The understatement of the week: “Ukraine says the coveted F-16 fighter jets are four to five times better than its Soviet jets.”
  • The Sunnis and Shias of Saudi Arabia and Iran, after seven years of cutting off ties, have re-established diplomatic relations. Blend this with Middle East tension bubbling up, and who knows if escalating conflicts flare up in the next few weeks?
  • CNN’s morning ratings must be favorable as I cannot think of any other reason they would keep Don Lemon on air.
  • Tomorrow marks the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’, a historic deal that ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Troubles is the term used to describe sectarian violence that took place in Northern Ireland, which led to more than 3,500 deaths and even more casualties. Horrific terrorist attacks were conducted by members of paramilitary organizations, as were acts of brutality by police and army officers. I was in Belfast a few years ago and along with my daughter and son-in-law, took a Black Cab tour, which unexpectedly included a visit to IRA headquarters and their “munitions museum.” A great eye-opening and learning experience for the three of us.
  • An Easter egg hunt. Great stuff for children (and adults) of all ages.

  • Last week’s post went into detail about the changes Major League Baseball has made to speed up the game. These changes include a pitch clock, a limit to the number of times a pitcher can throw to pickoff a baserunner, and the number of times a batter can step out of the batter’s box. There is some great news after the first week of the season as baseball’s new rules have made a difference. Game times for the first week of the season were down by an average of twenty-five minutes, with one game between the Twins and Marlins ending in under two hours. There is not much wasted time with these new rules. Kudos to Major League Baseball!

Six quotes I really like:

  • “There is no such thing as a grouchy old person. The truth is once you get old, you stop being polite and start being honest.”
  • “Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.”
  • “Your level of grit and resilience will define you more than your wins and losses do.”
  • “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
  • My dad once told me: “You are a product of your environment.” Derek Jeter said: “Surround yourself with good people. People who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests.”
  • “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”
  • “A mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting success.”

With Passover and Easter overlapping this year, I thought I would give you Sebastian Maniscalco’s take on the traditional Passover dinner celebration, the Seder. I shy away from religion, but Maniscalco’s take is one to watch. Happy Passover and Happy Easter to All!!

The one and only Sebastian Maniscalco.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Enjoy Easter Sunday!

Blue Eyes. Thoughts about AI. Baseball Is Back. The Ostrich.

Sinatra and racism. Generative Artificial Intelligence. Take Me Out To The Ballpark. 60 MPH!

  • There are many stories about Frank Sinatra. Once called the “Chairman of the Board”, Sinatra’s legendary career is well-documented. Another amazing detail about Sinatra was his disdain for racism. This short video clip has Quincy Jones explaining an incident that speaks volumes. In today’s world, still rampant with racism, we could all probably use more Frank Sinatra’s. Warning: this video includes language not suitable for youngsters.
Quincy Jones explaining how Frank Sinatra stopped racism in Las Vegas.

Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence—AI systems that are generally smarter than humans—benefits all of humanity.

That is a positioning statement from OpenAI, one of many technology entities exploring and developing artificial intelligence platforms – that will allow all of us to expand our knowledge base, solve problems faster, and create and compose simple tasks like technical writing as well as generating complex applications and services.

I used Bard, Google’s entry-level AI platform, to test their AI offering by simply inputting ‘April Fools’ Day.’ Within seconds of entering the subject matter, Bard produced the information below. I could have been more specific with my Bard inquiry regarding April Fools’ Day, but my goal was to witness how quickly the information was produced. Here is the information Bard provided:

April Fools’ Day and Springtime: A Perfect Match

April Fools’ Day is a day for fun and laughter, and what better time to celebrate it than in the springtime? The days are getting longer, the flowers are blooming, and the air is filled with the sound of birdsong. It’s the perfect time to pull off a harmless prank or two on your friends and family.

History of April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day is celebrated on April 1st every year. It is a day for fun and laughter, and people often play pranks on each other. The exact origins of April Fools’ Day are unknown, but there are many theories about how it started.

One theory is that April Fools’ Day is a day to celebrate the start of the new year. In the past, the new year began on March 25th. However, in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and the new year began on January 1st. This change caused a lot of confusion, and some people continued to celebrate the new year on March 25th. These people were often the butt of jokes and pranks, and this may be how April Fools’ Day started.

Another theory is that April Fools’ Day is a day to celebrate the spring equinox. The spring equinox is the day when the sun crosses the equator and the day and night are of equal length. It is a time of new beginnings, and it may be why April Fools’ Day is celebrated on this day.

The world of AI and how the platforms will help all of us is limitless. Sure, there are and will be limitations and issues with the use of AI. A statement from OpenAI: GPT-4 still has many known limitations that we are working to address, such as social biases, hallucinations, and adversarial prompts. We encourage and facilitate transparency, user education, and wider AI literacy as society adopts these models. We also aim to expand the avenues of input people have in shaping our models.

We have only witnessed the beginning of AI and how it will change our lives. Many have discussed how the cell phone forever changed the way that we live our everyday lives. AI, when fully developed, vetted, and socialized, will make the advent of the cell phone look like the Stone Age.

AI and all it will offer us is exciting but many technologists are asking everyone to pause on the development of AI systems. This sentence, taken from a letter signed by many, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, says it all: “Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.” Well….now what?

  • Baseball has always been a dilemma for me. While I enjoy going to the ballpark and the long-standing traditions of the game, sitting through three-to-3.5 hour games, especially on a warm day or night, is not exactly enjoyable. The good news: Major League Baseball, with pressure from fans, marketing partners, and television networks, has introduced some changes that should SPEED UP THE TIME OF THE GAME. Sure, some of these changes go against the ‘purity’ of baseball, but there was really no choice if baseball was going to stay relevant with their targeted demographics. Take a look at some of the changes:
  • The pitcher has fifteen seconds to make a pitch with the bases empty; 20 seconds with runners on base. This will decrease the overall game time.
  • The hitter gets one timeout per plate appearance and must be in the batter’s box with 8 seconds left on the pitch clock. This will decrease the overall game time.
  • A pitcher gets two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per batter; violations are a balk. This will also decrease the overall game time.
  • There is no more infield shift allowed where three infielders were allowed to be on either side of second base. Now, two infielders must be positioned on either side of 2nd base. This should provide more base hits and scoring.
  • No more positioning where the shortstop or 2nd baseman were positioned in the shallow outfield. All four infielders must now be positioned in the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber. This will also provide for more base hits and scoring.
  • The first, 2nd, and 3rd bases have increased in size from 15″ to 18″. This will decrease injury events.

Well done, Major League Baseball! Better late than never.

  • I hope you did not get fooled yesterday. April 1st is always an interesting day, with ‘pranking’ taking place at all levels of foolishness. Speaking of fools, the first Sunday of April takes us to Kevin Hart as he explains, in too much detail, his encounter with an ostrich in Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska. Note: in case anyone cares, an ostrich is the world’s largest bird, can run at speeds up to thirty-eight MPH, reach a height of 8′ and weigh as much as 320 lbs.

Warning: this video contains language not suitable for youngsters.

A Big-Ass Man Pigeon.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!