Epic Columbus Day: Caught 52 Trout

Oct 12

In: Fly fishing, Personal

Wow. What a Columbus Day holiday.

Everything clicked. The weather was beautiful. The leaves were colorful. And, the trout were eager for my homemade flies.

Too tired to write much more. Very grateful.

Hope everyone had a good holiday.

True Joy

Oct 10

In: Brain hacking, College, Fly fishing, Personal

Two recent and very cool images below.

First, a precious 10 minutes. I was back at my alma mater to speak with some students about the Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew in College.

I stayed at my old residential college, Saybrook, in the guest suite. As I was settling in, I was greeted with the following view and sounds (below, or click here).

Twice a day, the bells of Harkness tower ring out. Students pick the songs and play a huge carillon. Sometimes it’s classical music. Sometimes it’s pop music.

When I’m back on campus, I smile every time I see Harkness or hear the bells. My heart strings are plucked, and I am flooded with really good memories about college. There’s a lot of gratitude and nostalgia, too.

I took for granted those bells when I was in college. I no longer do.

Second, I recently caught The Prettiest Fish of the Year.

It’s a male brook trout, with a kype (jutted lower jaw), pronounced humpback, and ablaze in orange. At 14″, I’ve caught plenty of bigger fish, but none prettier this year. The photographs don’t do it justice.

Brook trout spawn in autumn. As our New England leaves become bright orange, pink, and tan as the weather gets cooler, brook trout also transform themselves. Their bellies ablaze with vibrant orange. Their spots of blue, pink, and yellow become brighter.

It was a special moment to admire it and to let it go, with the hopes that it will generate many progeny. It’s very satisfying to land a trout on a fly I have tied.

Many moments in life are special. These two are especially so, and I’m grateful to be able to preserve them on this blog.

Hope everyone is having a good Columbus Day weekend.

Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew in College

Oct 8

In: Brain hacking, Career management, College, Personal, Philosophy

I just gave a talk. I feel as though I’ve waited my whole life to give it.

I was invited to come back to Yale and address freshmen from low-income households. I met up with some of them ahead of time for a small-group dinner. I then met with a broader group.

My topic: Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew in College. I talked about:

  1. Take more risks in life and learn to fail. Many of us are perfectionists. That can make us risk averse. Get over it. Many of us are addicted to validation from others. Get over that. Cultivate courage and consciously wean yourself from making decisions based on what others approve.
  2. My biggest obstacle in my life is my inner critical voice. Many perfectionists are highly critical of themselves. We say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemies. Don’t do that. Realize that you already are “enough.” If you don’t affirm yourself, you’ll be looking for it from others. A race against yourself is impossible to win.
  3. What drives personal happiness. Ignore the noise. The modern culture tells you that you are not “enough” unless you make money, drive a certain car, carry a certain handbag. Happiness is a choice and the data firmly support that. Decisions based on money, status, and prestige will be bad decisions in the long run.

It is really fun to be back on campus. It brings back so many memories.

I really miss my college friends.

Politics Today & Choices I’ve Made

Oct 8

In: Personal, Philosophy, Politics

I refuse to be brainwashed by politicians running for the Presidency.

I refuse to submit to their sound-bites, which have been repeatedly tested through consumer focus groups, to elicit alarm and anger.

I refuse to believe their messages that “unless I vote for him/her, the world is going to hell.”

I refuse to listen to people funded by billionaires and their Super PACs, whose incentives are not aligned with mine.

I refuse to listen to messages of xenophobia and hate, ones that blame “others” and do not adequately point the finger at ourselves.

I instead choose to believe that many immigrants who arrive here do so out of desperation and love for their families.

I choose to listen to third party data that shows that immigrants’ crime rates are lower than the rest of the population.

I choose to look for a candidate who is a fiduciary and wants to serve the nation vs. fulfill a deep psychological need to be loved by others because he/she grew up in a dysfunctional home.

I choose to believe that justice must be done, but that locking up criminals as though they were animals, with no education or help, will never rehabilitate them.

I choose to believe that many of our society’s ills are the results of inadequate, absent, or horrible parenting, and that the consequences can span many generations. I hereby resolve to be a better father and to mentor young people.

I choose to believe that integrity will win in the end, that shortcuts and lies will eventually be found out or found lacking.

I choose to love other people and expect nothing in return. It is only by giving more that I can help create a just society.

I choose to believe that I no longer have to listen to politicians, but, instead, to pick my own values.

I choose to see the glass as half-full, that honor, though it may not be recognized at one given moment, will win.

In short, I choose to choose.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Oct 7

In: Economics, Philosophy, Politics

I’m not a lawyer, and pieces of the law sometimes confuse me. Regarding daily fantasy sports, I think that pieces of the law are contradictory. Moreover, while all gambling involves wagering, I do not think that all wagering is gambling. Let me explain.

The government spends a lot of money nixing acquisitions that yield monopolistic pricing power, but allows sports leagues like the NFL to be “legal” monopolies. Gambling is illegal in many areas, unless they’re looking to increase revenues, such as what Boston is trying to do. Meanwhile, people drive to casinos on Native American land and the Federal government looks the other way.

In the digital world, there’s currently an argument about online fantasy sports and that it is a “game of skill.” Yet, the government shut down online poker which is clearly a game of skill and not chance.

I’m curious to see what regulators decide to do about the daily sports fantasy companies currently in the news. I don’t play those games, but a friend of mine does. It clearly does appear to be a game of skill, but, he also admits that he’s pretty addicted to them.

IMO, fantasy sports is “a game of skill that involves wagering,” but that adults should be free to play them. I do not think that wagering automatically makes something “gambling.” I do think that games of chance that involve wagering is gambling.

Unfortunately, at casinos, you have both games of chance (e.g., slot machines) and games of skill (e.g., poker) under the same roof and all that is called “gambling.” This isn’t good for fantasy sports companies, if the public automatically views them as gambling.

I think the explosion of digital technology is mostly good for consumers. I really loved Aereo and the online viewing it provided, and I was bummed when the Supreme Court effectively shut it down. Yes, “software is eating the world,” but, in the end, regulators have the last say in many markets. Here’s hoping they let technology expand and prosper.

I suspect PR will be very key in the daily sports fantasy space because, unfortunately, perception will become reality as regulators react to optics. Some will assume that all wagering is gambling, I suspect.