How Atari’s Asteroids Helped Launch THE SENTINEL

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Life is a never ending series of wagers. Each decision you make is a bet that can have long-term consequences. Sometimes you make the right decision. Sometimes the decision you make doesn’t seem right but turns out to be the best decision you ever made. Such was my case in 1982. I turned down a $30,000 fellowship that fulfilled my dream of taking complex concepts of astronomy and spreading it to regular people across the land. I decided against that offer because I thought I had a better one. Although it paid slightly less, I accepted a job at a New York City consulting firm. Because it fulfilled my dream of being the communications go-between with the technical folks on one side and the non-technical folks on the other. Of course, who knew I’d get laid off before I even graduated? In the end. I accepted a non-descript, less-than-entry-level, dead-end job that paid roughly a third of that fellowship.

Sounds like I made the wrong bet at the beginning of this series of decisions.

But, you know what? Life has a way of turning lemons into lemonade. In the first segment Continue Reading “How Atari’s Asteroids Helped Launch THE SENTINEL

The Incredibly Weird Way I Landed My First Job and Accidentally Started a Life Long Career

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Remember that oft-postponed Honeoye Falls-Mendon Rotary Club meeting I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. It finally happened. We had a sumptuous supper at Mendon 64 and, as always, the conversation was jovial, inspired, and ever enlightening. If you don’t know by now, Rotary does an awful lot of good things in our community. I like organizations that do an awful lot of good things in our community. I like the organizations like the Honeoye Falls-Mendon Rotary Club.

Betsy and I were delighted to be the appetizer for the evening’s dinner. And by “appetizer,” no, I don’t mean Hilary and Molly named a pre-dinner dish after us. Rather, I mean we provided the entertainment prior to that delicious dinner I referred to in the first paragraph. During our short presentation, I offered a never-before-told story about the beginnings of The Sentinel. (The end of this story was alluded to briefly in the never published Carosa Commentary entitled Banzai! that was “reprinted” on our Throwback Thursday page seven in the March 23, 2017 issue of The Sentinel.)

It occurred to me it would be unfair to our vast ocean of readers to limit knowledge of “the rest of the story” to the select group of Rotarians who attended the March 22nd meeting. Upon further reflection, it seemed there are actually two lessons in this story. Rather than consume an entire page of print, I’ve decided it best to create a two-part Commentary.

Lesson #1: Never Let Bad News Defeat You and Never Underestimate the Power of Curiosity
Our story begins in the spring of 1982. It’s roughly thirty-five years ago to the day that I Continue Reading “The Incredibly Weird Way I Landed My First Job and Accidentally Started a Life Long Career”

Speed versus Accuracy? It All Depends on the Game

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Quantum physics is weird. Despite studying it for four intense years under the tutelage of some of the most elite professors in the field, I didn’t really get it until I read The Cosmic Code shortly after I earned my degree. Written by Heinz Pagels, a physicist and frequent contributor to The New York Times on topics like cosmology and other fun science subjects, the book explained the complex concepts of physics to the lowly layman. Now, my curriculum vitae might have suggested I wasn’t a lowly layman. While this may have been true for most areas of astrophysics, when it came to quantum physics I was as lowly as lowly could get.

In Pagels’ words, I was a “determinist.” A determinist is a classical physicist who sees the Continue Reading “Speed versus Accuracy? It All Depends on the Game”

Leadership Lessons of George Washington

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What can one say about George Washington that hasn’t already been said? Sometimes people think we paint the Father of Our Country in larger than life colors. In fact, George Washington was larger than life, and that’s a truth that needs to be continually emphasized. Not only was he tall in stature and well-built compared to his peers, but his stoic disposition commanded respect. It is that disposition, and the wisdom of his character, that makes our first president such a model citizen – one that we should neither be afraid to pattern ourselves after nor be afraid to expect our fellow citizens to pattern themselves after. If this expectation sounds a bit “larger than life,” then you understand the true impact of George Washington upon our nation. [Editor’s Note: Some of the quotes contained herein feature misspellings, improper grammar, and usage conventions different from what we experience today. We present them in their original form to lend flavor to their authenticity.]

George Washington was born February 22, 1732 on his parents Pope’s Creek Estate (near what is today Colonial Beach, Virginia). Well, I cannot tell a lie. He was actually born on February 11, 1731. At the time England was using the Julian calendar and Annuciation (a.k.a. “Lady Day”) Style where the new year began on March 25th. England finally joined the rest of Christendom in 1752 and began using the Gregorian calendar (with January 1st now designated as the start of the new year). Thus, the old “February 11, 1731” now becomes “February 22, 1732” and that’s the day we once designated as a holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday.

“Washington’s Birthday” became a national holiday in 1879 through an Act of Congress. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act shifted it to the third Monday of February, meaning Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of George Washington”

Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the first president to die in office, but he was the first president to be assassinated. While credited as being the president who unified a divided country and cementing the notion of a single United States of America rather than a group of states united on the American continent, he came into office as one of the most controversial and divisive presidents. Yet, today, we revere him for his character, his wholesomeness, and his willingness to make personal sacrifices to get the job done.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky and, unlike William Henry Harrison, was a true frontiersman, having grown up in Kentucky and Indiana before moving to Illinois. During the era when we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday as a separate holiday, we’d hear stories of his life. Whether apocryphal or true, it didn’t matter, for they burned into our minds and hearts an ideal we were inspired to make as our own life’s work to continually strive for. The totality of Lincoln’s life offers many lessons. Here are just three:Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln”

Leadership Lessons of William Henry Harrison

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Our nation’s Founding Fathers were well studied men. When called upon to forge a new nation, they looked upon the lessons of the Classical Age for their source. But it wasn’t merely a litany of Greek and Roman heroes they sought. They dug deeper. They wanted to learn not only what succeeded, but what failed. They learned this about great nations, great government, and great men. Greek literature teaches us that every heroic character contains both good traits and bad traits. We learn the good traits to know what to mimic. We learn the bad traits to know what to avoid. So it is with the leadership lessons we learn from our presidents. Not all those lessons teach us what to do. Some teach us what not to do.

William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773 on his family’s plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. The ninth president of the United States, he was the last one born as a British subject (his father signed the Declaration of Independence), but the first one to have his picture taken while in office. He’s also the only president whose grandson would later become president (Benjamin Harrison served as the 23rd president from 1889 to 1893). He’s perhaps best known as the president who gave the longest inaugural address (taking almost 2 hours to read its 8,445 words) and served the shortest time in office (31 days). At 68 years of age, Harrison was the oldest president to be inaugurated until Ronald Reagan topped him by a year in 1980 (who was then surpassed by Donald Trump who was age 70 when he was sworn in).Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of William Henry Harrison”

Leadership Lessons of Ronald Reagan

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February once offered two holidays: Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, moving “Washington’s Birthday” from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Gone was “Lincoln’s Birthday” and the holiday soon became the generic “Presidents’ Day” we celebrate today (though the federal government still officially calls it “Washington’s Birthday”). It is in the spirit of “Presidents’ Day” that we mark February as “Presidents’ Month.” We will do so by devoting each weekly Commentary to the leadership lessons learned from the four presidents born in February.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. After a workmanlike acting career, Reagan served as governor of California before becoming our nation’s fortieth president. He remains one of the most popular and successful of our chief executives and is often referenced by Republicans and Democrats alike. (On a historical note, it wasn’t always that way, and those old enough to remain recall how the establishment’s reaction to Reagan’s inauguration was just as dour as what we see happening with President Trump today.)

Much has been written about Reagan’s leadership style and how it fueled consistent accomplishment. Some characterizations of Reagan unintentionally revealed the secret of Continue Reading “Leadership Lessons of Ronald Reagan”

The Secret Power of Multitasking No One Ever Talks About

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“If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I first heard this famous adage from Benjamin Franklin in my early twenties. I had just joined the Data Processing Management Association and the new president asked me to volunteer for a position. She was a smart, motivated, and very successful woman. So it goes without saying she was more than prepared for my inevitable (and lame) response. “I’m kinda busy,” I sheepishly replied. That’s when she said it.

“You know what they say, Chris, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’” She didn’t know it (or did she?), but, Continue Reading “The Secret Power of Multitasking No One Ever Talks About”

Are Better Educated People Easier to Fool with Persuasion Tricks?

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Dropped maskThe following is mere observation. You’ll understand why I’ve had to put the (rare) qualified at the beginning of the piece when you get to the end.

As I am wont to do given the demands of my primary profession – that would be picking (hopefully) winning stocks – I tend to read a lot. There are two types of articles I read. The first you might consider obvious. I read about anything that smacks of “the coming thing.” I want to know about the leading edge before the “L” in “Leading” appears. To do this, you’ve got to read a ton of articles detailing wild and crazy ideas and hope you’re alert enough to connect the dots before the rest of the (investing) world does. Then you find a publicly traded company (hopefully no one has paid attention to for a long time) and begin buying. This way, when the euphoria of that crazy idea reaches its climax and the rest of the (investing) world is doing everything it can to buy that stock, you can ride into that rising wave, confident you can sell (for a tidy profit) to those over-eager buyers.

OK, like I said, that was obvious.

The less obvious type of article I read doesn’t talk about wild and crazy ideas that become products. Instead, these articles provide potent examples of just how wild and crazy Continue Reading “Are Better Educated People Easier to Fool with Persuasion Tricks?”

You’re Never Too Old to Learn

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duck-with-ducklings-1543709For some reason, I never felt part of my high school peers. Actually, I know the reason. I never fully accepted moving from the comfort of the community where I was born to this strange new place. Mind you, the non-acceptance didn’t start with me. It was quite mutual. But that’s another story.

This story is about psychology. I can’t remember what interested me in the subject, but it had to be something very early in my life. By ninth grade, I had psycho-analyzed the entire high school population, separating them into nine distinct demographic groups based on their psychological profile as determined by their observed behavior. I never showed it to anyone, but I’m pretty sure I Continue Reading “You’re Never Too Old to Learn”