Exploring Michigan: A Scenic Journey through Northern Skies, Biking, and Birding

Over the past few days, my wife Jennifer and I drove "up north", as they say here in Michigan, which means what it sounds like, going up to the northern part of the state. We met up with two other couples that are friends of ours for a multi-day adventure.

We started out with snacks at Farm Club, a lovely local gathering place that is a farm, restaurant, brewery, bakery, and marketplace all in one, before we transitioned over to the rooftop bar at the Hotel Indigo to take in the sunset, and then to our Airbnb in Traverse City.

The next morning we joined a larger group for a birding, biking, and wine tour by Grand Traverse Bike Tours in partnership with the Detroit and Grand Traverse Audubon Clubs in which everyone meets up in Traverse City and then goes on a guided trail ride passing farms and orchards, plus visiting vineyards (Shady Lane Cellars and Black Star Farms) and the Hop Lot Brewing Company (where we caught the end of the Detroit Lions game) along the way.

We went on the Grand Traverse Birds, Bikes, and Wine Tour in Partnership wtih the Detroit Audubon Club and Grand Traverse Audubon Club
We went on the Grand Traverse Birds, Bikes, and Wine Tour in Partnership with the Detroit Audubon Club and Grand Traverse Audubon Club.

Shady Wine Cellars Wine Flight
Shady Wine Cellars Wine Flight

Ripe wine grapes at Shady Wine Cellars in Michigan
Ripe wine grapes at Shady Wine Cellars in Michigan

Jen has biked across the country previously and we both own bikes, but neither of us had ever done a group tour like this…nor had we ever done any type of birding adventure. I must say I would do both again. I also didn't realize how many wineries there were in Michigan.

Of course, in the vein of using ChatGPT and recently finding out what kind of dog would I be, I similarly asked what kind of bird I would be using the same extensive introspective research I've done on myself.

Here's what it said:

Based on your rich description of your attributes, character, and inclinations, if you were a bird, I'd suggest you might resemble an **eagle** – specifically the **Bald Eagle**. Here's why:

1. **Size and Strength**: Your height and weight align with the sturdiness and dominance often associated with eagles. They are strong, powerful birds of prey.

2. **Vision**: Eagles are known for their keen vision, and you've described having high-level vision for your dreams and ambitions.

3. **Courage and Independence**: Like the eagle who soars alone, you're willing to stand out and take on risk. Eagles are also known for their independent nature.

4. **Adaptability**: Eagles are versatile birds, adapting to different environments, and your description speaks to a capacity for adaptability and entrepreneurial spirit.

5. **Intuition and Decision Making**: Eagles, while having acute vision, also rely on their instincts when hunting. This aligns with your approach of exhaustive research followed by intuition.

6. **Leadership**: The eagle is often seen as a symbol of leadership. While you might end up in the public eye due to your leadership, eagles, too, are often watched and admired from afar.

7. **Solitude**: Bald Eagles, outside of mating pairs or when rearing chicks, are often seen alone. Your introverted, independent nature aligns with this.

8. **Teaching and Communication**: While eagles don't teach in the way humans do, they certainly do mentor their young, teaching them to fly, hunt, and survive. Your desire to share and teach from your experiences is akin to this mentoring process.

9. **Appreciation of Beauty**: The elegance and majesty of an eagle in flight can be likened to your appreciation of beauty and finer things.

10. **Honesty and Integrity**: The Bald Eagle, as the national bird and symbol of the United States, often represents freedom and the highest ideals and values.

Given all these parallels, the Bald Eagle seems a fitting avian counterpart to your multifaceted personality and life approach.

One of the family of 4 bald eagles on March 26th, 2023 that make Belle Isle Park their home
One of the family of 4 bald eagles on March 26th, 2023 that make Belle Isle Park their home

This is really interesting because I remember my first golf coach Dan Shauger used to say I have eagle eye vision, one of our original names for Sterling Irons single length irons was Eagle Irons, a spiritual medium I've worked with has told me that eagles are part of my spirit guide council, and I've really enjoyed communing with a family of eagles over at Belle Isle Park since moving to Detroit.

Anyway, it was a great start to the trip, but it only got better on Monday, where we stayed at the Sunrise Landing Motel.

After wandering around Northport with coffees, we got morning snacks at 9 Bean Rows (a farmstead, cafe, and bakery), ate day time snacks and drank wine at Dune Bird Winery (Jen's and my 2nd visit there this year), got sandwiches elsewhere, walked around Northport more, and had a serendipitous hangout with the owner of Yard & Lake, before finally ending up on the beach for a fire.

That's where the magic really kicked in.

With only two matches we managed to get our fire going, and then proceeded to see shooting stars, Mars shining brightly, the Little Dipper, satellites (which is another story with both pros and cons), our first fogbow, and the northern lights set against the Big Dipper. None of us had ever had such an array of astronomy packed in to one experience. It was wild and amazing.

Fogbows are apparently even more rare than rainbows. This is a panoramic view of one we saw from the beach at the Sunrise Landing Motel overlooking Northport Bay in Michigan
Fogbows are apparently even more rare than rainbows. This is a panoramic view of one we saw from the beach at the Sunrise Landing Motel overlooking Northport Bay in Michigan.

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, were visible against the Big Dipper in Michigan on September 18th, 2023
The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, were visible against the Big Dipper in Michigan on September 18th, 2023.

The last of the beach fire coals before I poured water over them
The last of the beach fire coals before I poured water over them

After sunrise the next day we all headed back down to Detroit at different intervals.

A view of the sunrise on the beach at the Sunrise Landing Motel looking out at Northport Bay in Michigan
A view of the sunrise on the beach at the Sunrise Landing Motel looking out at Northport Bay in Michigan

The view of the Northport Bay from the Sunrise Landing Motel is spectacular
The morning view of the Northport Bay from the Sunrise Landing Motel is spectacular.

However, Jen and I decided to take in a new area and destination for us while we were in the region, the Mission Pointe Lighthouse, before driving home. If all we hadn't seen wasn't already enough, while there we ran in to the Midwest Brass & Gas Touring Group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, where we got to get up close to about 10-20 pre-1916 cars parked in the lot of Old Mission Point Park as they headed out to continue their tour of the region.

Midwest Brass and Gas of the Horseless Carriage Club of America rolled through Old Mission Point Park in Michigan
Midwest Brass and Gas of the Horseless Carriage Club of America rolled through Old Mission Point Park in Michigan.

What an amazing trip!

What Kind of Dog Am I? Discovering My Canine Counterpart with ChatGPT

Earlier I was out at dinner with my wife and two of our girlfriends at Ima Izakaya in Corktown and we were chatting about dogs, how sometimes people look like their dogs, and what type of dog we thought would be most similar to each of us.

So, I decided to feed ChatGPT the extensive introspective research I've done on myself that's based on many things like astrology, human design, etc, and then proceeded to ask it what kind of dog would I be?

Here's what it said:

Given your detailed and unique description, you'd be an **Alaskan Malamute**. Here's why:

1. **Size and Strength**: Alaskan Malamutes are large, strong, and athletic dogs. Your height and weight, coupled with your strength, mirror this breed's stature and capability.
2. **Old Wise Soul & Spiritualist**: Malamutes are an ancient breed that's been around for thousands of years, often seen as wise souls in the dog world.
3. **Calm & Intuitive**: While they are powerful, Malamutes are often calm, intuitive, and introspective.
4. **Grounded in Nature**: Malamutes are hardy and thrive in natural settings, especially colder climates reminiscent of Alaska.
5. **Leadership**: As sled dogs, they have often been in roles where leadership and teamwork are crucial.
6. **Loyalty and Honesty**: Malamutes are known to be extremely loyal to their families.
7. **Independent & Solitary**: While they are pack animals, they also have a streak of independence and can be reserved.
8. **Hard Worker & Disciplined**: These dogs are bred to work hard in challenging conditions, showcasing their discipline and resilience.
9. **Smart & Observant**: They are intelligent dogs, quick to learn, and very observant of their surroundings.
10. **Path Finder**: As sled dogs, they've historically been used to find paths in challenging terrains.
11. **Resilient & Patient**: Working in tough terrains and conditions has made this breed both resilient and patient.
12. **Communication**: Malamutes have a diverse range of vocalizations and are expressive communicators.
13. **Colors & Climate**: The colors of the Alaskan Malamute, often a blend of gray, sable, and white, could be associated with the "Dusty Soft Autumn" palette you mentioned. Moreover, they thrive in cooler climates, matching several of the states you mentioned as ideal.
14. **Diet**: Malamutes do best with a high-protein diet which can include fish, mirroring the Mediterranean-style diet you prefer.

The Alaskan Malamute's strength, independence, wisdom, loyalty, and adaptability to various climates and terrains seem to make it a fitting representation for your described characteristics.

Alaskan Malamute

How fun!

Should I Leave the Flagstick In Or Out?

During the 2023 Michigan PGA Professional Championship, I was playing with two other pros and we got to chatting about the flag stick. One of the guys I played with said you should leave it in and that he tells all the members at his golf club to play accordingly. I, on the other hand, recalled from the research that I did that it's better to leave it in.

So, which is it?

I've been having fun with ChatGPT lately. I decided to put it to the test to see what it says.

Question 1

My first question was:

What does the research say on whether or not you should leave the flagstick in in putting in golf?

It told me:

As of my last update in September 2021, the question of whether or not to leave the flagstick in when putting in golf has been the subject of debate among golfers, especially since the 2019 update to the Rules of Golf allowed players to leave the flagstick in the hole during putts.

Here's a brief summary of what research and anecdotal evidence suggest:

1. **Effects on the Speed of the Ball**: Studies by golf publications and independent testers have found that a putt struck at a high speed is less likely to drop with the flagstick in. For putts traveling at fast speeds, the flagstick can act as a barrier that prevents the ball from going in.

2. **Effects on Direction**: For off-center hits, the flagstick can either help or hinder the ball from dropping. If a ball is going slightly off-center, the flag might redirect it into the hole. Conversely, if it's going significantly off-center, the flagstick might keep it out.

3. **Type of Flagstick**: The type and thickness of the flagstick can make a difference. Some tests have shown that thinner flagsticks are more forgiving, whereas thicker or more rigid flagsticks can act more as barriers.

4. **Psychological Effects**: For some golfers, having the flagstick in can provide a psychological benefit. It might serve as a better visual reference, helping players aim and judge distance more effectively. For others, it might be a distraction.

5. **Downhill Putts**: Anecdotally, some golfers feel that leaving the flagstick in for downhill putts is beneficial, as it can act as a backstop for faster-moving balls.

6. **Convenience**: From a pace-of-play perspective, leaving the flagstick in can speed up the game, especially for longer putts where players would otherwise walk up to remove it.

In conclusion, the decision to leave the flagstick in or out during putting largely depends on individual preference and the specific circumstances of the putt. Factors like putt speed, angle of approach, hole position, type of flagstick, and personal comfort can all play a role. Some golfers may choose to always leave it in or out, while others might make the decision on a putt-by-putt basis.

Question 2

I revised and said:

Thanks. Let’s not consider convenience or psychological effects. I’m just interested in pure data from testing. Can you answer more objectively?

It said:

Certainly. Based on pure data from testing conducted up to September 2021:

1. **High-Speed Putts**: When a putt is hit at a pace that would send it several feet past the hole (if it missed), the flagstick is generally more of a hindrance. Data suggests that a fast-moving ball has a higher probability of bouncing out with the flagstick in compared to it being out.

2. **Off-Center Hits**: The flagstick can sometimes assist slightly off-center hits. If the ball is just missing the edge, a flagstick might redirect it to drop in. However, for balls moving significantly off-center, the flagstick can act as a barrier and prevent the ball from falling in.

3. **Type of Flagstick**: Tests showed that the effect of the flagstick can vary depending on its thickness and material. Thin fiberglass flagsticks were found to be the most forgiving, allowing more balls to drop than if they were out. On the other hand, thicker and more rigid flagsticks tended to repel balls more frequently.

4. **Downhill Putts**: For downhill putts that tend to pick up more speed, having the flagstick in can be beneficial. The flagstick can act as a backstop, slowing down a fast-moving ball and allowing it to drop. However, if the ball is moving at a very high speed, the flagstick may still repel it.

To sum it up: For putts that are hit firmly or are moving downhill quickly, the flagstick can sometimes be beneficial but can also hinder if the ball is moving too fast. The effect is also influenced by the type of flagstick used. For slower-moving putts or those hit directly at the center of the hole, the presence of the flagstick tends to have a lesser effect on the outcome.

Question 3

Based on that, I asked two more follow-ups. I wanted to ask about slow moving putts in particular because I like to hit putts at about 2-3 revolutions per second approaching the cup speed, which is fast enough to get it there but slow enough to not have a big testy comeback putt. That speed is such that the ball falls deep in the cup and take full advantage of the full width of the hole.

Objectively, is it better to leave it in or take it out with slow moving putts?

For slow-moving putts, objective tests up to September 2021 generally showed that the flagstick has a minimal effect on whether the ball drops or not when hit directly at the center of the hole. However, if there's any variation (i.e., if the ball approaches slightly off-center), the flagstick might increase the chance of the ball dropping in.

So, based purely on data, for slow-moving putts, it's slightly advantageous to leave the flagstick in.

Question 4

Objectively, is it better to leave it in or take it out with fast moving putts?

Objectively, based on testing data available up to September 2021, for fast-moving putts, it's generally better to take the flagstick out. Fast-moving balls have a higher probability of bouncing out with the flagstick in compared to it being out. So, for putts that are hit with a pace that would send them significantly past the hole if they missed, removing the flagstick is advantageous.


So, there you go…ChatGPT's answer for whether or not you should leave the flag in when putting.

For me personally, I like to have it out, assuming it's not leaning towards me or one of those super thick flagsticks. I like the visual frame of reference, particularly on long putts. I also hit my putts at a slower speed.

What do you like?

ChatGPT's Career Insights: An AI's Reflection on My Two-Decade Journey

I tend to reside in a pioneering space…and higher level vision and innovative pathways are often things I find myself submerged in. I was early in on YouTube. I've been ahead of the curve in golf club design and golf fitness.

Lately, I've been playing around with ChatGPT, almost on a daily basis. To test it out, I've tried to trick it, and it actually seems really good about providing solid answers despite the trickery. That being said, it is still in a place that requires discernment.

Recently for fun, I decided to see what job's it would recommend for me if I plugged in a description about myself.

It's the age old question, what would you do if you weren't do what you are currently doing?

So, I gave it the text at this link, which is a pretty exhaustive description about who I am.

Here's what it said:

Based on the comprehensive description you've provided about yourself, here are a few potential career paths you might consider, along with some reasoning:

1. **Consultant or Strategic Advisor**: Your ability to systematically organize, observe, investigate, and seek out knowledge combined with a high IQ and introspection makes you a prime candidate for strategic roles. Given your comfort with data and information, you can provide solutions based on research and intuition.

2. **Entrepreneur or Business Owner**: Your entrepreneurial spirit, combined with risk-taking, leadership, loyalty, and a hard-working nature, indicates that you could start and run a business. This would also cater to your need for independence and making decisions based on exhaustive research and intuition.

3. **Life Coach or Spiritual Guide**: Your deep introspection, high intuition, spiritual nature, and desire to teach from your experiences make you suitable for guiding others in their personal journeys.

4. **Outdoor Guide or Retreat Organizer**: Given your connection to nature, water, and high places, you might find fulfillment in leading outdoor excursions, organizing retreats, or participating in wilderness therapy. This would allow you to blend your love for nature with your leadership abilities.

5. **Author or Motivational Speaker**: Your gift in speaking and communication can be channeled into writing books or delivering speeches. Sharing your experiences, knowledge, and insights can inspire others.

6. **Researcher or Investigator**: Your qualities of being an investigator, knowledge seeker, and being comforted by data can be utilized in fields that require extensive research.

7. **Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer**: Given your athletic build and potential focus on alignment (especially considering your concern for back, heart, and circulation), you might enjoy helping others attain physical health and alignment.

However, as with any career suggestion, it's important to align it with your passions and desires. I'd recommend engaging in some introspective sessions, perhaps with a career counselor or coach, to explore these paths further and see which one feels the most right for you.

These are actually a pretty solid list of recommendations.

For the past 20 years, I've been a pro golfer and owned my own business that's revolved around playing and teaching golf, fitness training, and providing consulting and strategic advice to business owners, boards of directors, and executives.. A lot of the products I've created and services I've provided have been based on having done a lot of research and investigation. Often times, I end up using what I learn to write insightful articles, speak, and guide others.

And prior to golf, after pharmacy school I had thought about a career as a massage therapist or maybe something revolving around landscaping.

Seems I'm doing pretty good with being in alignment with who I am…at least according to AI, haha!