Ari Shaffir Skeptic Tank #277 with Henry Rollins: Iron and the Soul by Henry Rollins

I heard about Henry Rollins from Joe Rogan. Rollins is a world traveler and has plenty of insights into living a strenuous life. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ari Shaffir Skeptic Tank. Alongside Joe Rogan and Bill Burr I find Ari to be one of my favorite comedian podcasters. Ari really shines through as an interviewer in this episode. Included is Rollins essay on lifting weights. Iron and the Soul. A must read for lifters.


Iron and the Soul – By Henry Rollins

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.


When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time. As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.


Dropping Edward Jones and moving my money to Vanguard


Vanguard investment strategies are all over the personal finance blogs. Automated dollar cost averaging into passive index mutual funds has a certain sexiness to it that I didn’t appreciate until after I did it. And once I did, dang it felt sexy.

Basically,  “lower fees, from computerized passive index investing versus active management, leaves more wealth for yourself, and in 97% of the cases, gives you better portfolio performance as well”.

For 8 years I invested with Edward Jones active mutual funds. And they did okay.

Beginning in college I read books and blog posts about personal finance, including I Will Teach you to be Rich.

I mainly changed my spending habits.

I was reluctant to change investment strategies.

After running my own analysis, I realized that excessive fees were costing me lots of money.

And I don’t want that to happen to you.

I was paying 5% load fees, 1.5% expense ratios, 2% dividend reinvestment fees, and account maintenance fees.

What I didn’t know was really hurting my investment portfolio.

But, I didn’t switch over because I believed I was paying for solid performance.

I had my reasons.

-I didn’t want to upset my broker at Edward Jones

-I didn’t want to lose money in taxes and fees

-I didn’t have any experience with Vanguard.

But when I read Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins, and his chapter on fees, I realized I had to do something.

In 2015, I opened a Traditional IRA with Vanguard.

Then I tracked performance for 2 years and saw better performance in vanguard along with less fees.

Once I had that information I knew I needed to make a change.

I had wasted 3 years and hundreds in fees telling myself that I needed to switch.

But once you have momentum it’s hard to stop it. It’s why 2.1 million people still pay for AOL internet from a CD they got in the mail in 1998.

I Finally did an in-kind transfer from EJ to Vanguard. .

For a disclaimer: I am not an investment professional, and this is not investment advice. Past performance does not predict future performance. This is purely entertainment writing.

With that out of the way. Here are my takeaways.

The end of excessive fees

EJ Roth ira was $100/year. Bullshit.

Vanguard has no loads, and some of the smallest expense ratios in the business. With a minimum 3,000k to invest.

Processing fees to change over

$100 per account to roll them over. Bullshit but worth it to be rid of their loaded funds.

Forms to fill out

You only need a form from Vanguard.

I filled it out, signed it, and within 2 weeks my account was fully moved over to vanguard from Edward Jones.

I got a call from Edward Jones asking about canceling the auto draft from my bank. I told them to cancel it, said thank you, and got off the phone.

That was it from Edward Jones.

I spent 3 years procrastinating on it.

All it took was $200 to EJ, a 10 minute form, and a 1 minute phone call.

Finally high fees were a thing of the past.

Current management ratios

My current ratios range from 0.20% to 0.06% in the Vanguard funds I am invested in. 0.43% ratio for gold ETF’s.

Passive investment

Each month I have set amount of money taken from my bank account and processed without loads into buying Vanguard shares.

I did this before. But it’s still important to build that money machine as a young man. Time is on my and your side.

Warren Buffet wrote an Op-ed piece in 2008 during the tumultuous Financial Crisis. “Buy American. I am.”

The S&P 500 was a roller coaster that month. The largest percentage swings in history.

The day his article was published the S&P was at 909.53. His critics slammed him. But a 9 year Bull market vindicated him. Today the S&P stands at 2,500.03.

Linking up banking information

Takes a few minutes, but all they need is a banking account number and routing number. Set up an auto-investment and then lay back in a hammock.

Better Website

Easy to find portfolio breakdown and performance. Really good infographics and tools on the vanguard website for a passive investor. The Edward Jones site was clunky and hard to find real numbers.

That’s what I’ve noticed. I’m glad a made that change at an early age. I now I want to take a calculated risk.

Future investment plans

I turned 18 on the day of the largest point swing in S&P 500 history, -106.95.  This current 9 year long bull market will end. Everything that goes up will come back down. I’m preparing for it in the same way Mr Money Mustache has.

Recent books I read on Personal Finance and investing that were good.

Bachelor Pad Economics: Funny, engaging, actionable.

Money: Master the Game: Great All-Weather portfolio allocation strategy.


Top 10 Oilfield questions about life offshore from non-oilfield people

Sunrise bathes the S-92

First off, “How’s the Rig?”, this isn’t a real question but another version of “hows work?”. Its a filler. These are the real questions I get the most.


“Why do you do that?”

Offshore Mudlogging is good work. It pays well, you get a lot of exposure to drilling, and the accommodations are 5 star compared to land rigs. I am given a ton of responsibility at a young age. I get to troubleshoot 100k pieces of equipment and oversee million dollar operations. Not many young professionals get this type of opportunity.

“What’s the work like as a mud logger?”

  1. Fedex, packaging, manifesting and shipping rocks, mud, and gas
  2. Monitor and Report drilling problems, ie stuck pipe, kicks, hole cave ins
  3. Detect and analyze gases from the rocks
  4. Maintain computer networks, gas equipment and our sensor suite
  5. Produce real-time and depth projected logs of drilling, and lithology

“What is it like out there?”

War against Nature. Your squad and a bunch of computers against rocks and gas at high pressure.

“What’s your average day like?”

Wake up at 17:15, eat in the galley, go to pre-tower meeting, walk to work, drink coffee, monitor operations, talk to WSG, Coman and RF about anomalies, after 12 hours get off tower, work out in rig gym, shower in my room, read and sleep. Repeat for 21-28 days.

“Whats the rig gym like?’

Different on each rig, but on my rig they have ellipticals, treadmills, dumbells up to 100lbs, a squat rack, benchpress, ping pong table, bikes, rowing machine, pullup bars, and a smith machine.

“What do you do when you get off work?”

Work out, read, go fishing, eat in the galley, hang out, watch tv, smoke, listen to music, and sleep. Not much to do really, it’s a monks life. But I enjoy the time away from distractions. I am able to read 100 pages a night, write, workout, and invest. Each time I come back onshore I feel like I improved my life 5% in each of the categories I seek to improve. Physically, financially, and intellectually. Then I hang out with friends and decompress from all the stress.

“Do you guys drink alcohol and do drugs out there?”

A resounding No. Heliport x-ray scans and bag checks plus random drug and alcohol tests while onboard.

“Are there any girls offshore?”

Yes, about 5% of drilling engineers, mudloggers, and MWD’s are girls. Very rare to find a girl on the marine crew, drill crew or maintenance crew.

“Do they have fights, sex?”

Not really much fighting. Mainly arguments. If you did anything physical you would be run off. As for sex, I’ve head rig rumors, but the walls in the rooms are so paper thin, everyone would hear you.

“Do they have mental health seminars of counselors out there to deal with the problems?”

The crew becomes pretty tight nit. They become like a second family and the downturn in the industry really tightened people together. I think it’s similar to any line of work where you are away from family and friends for a prolonged amount of time. Yes its corporate and you have to watch what you say, but people are generally easy to get along with and can take a joke. As for keeping my mindset correct. Like everyone I go through days of low energy and cloudy thoughts. I try and do a couple things to get my mind off it. I write in my journal until I get to the root of the feeling, I try and stay off social media and tv, and I try and eat a healthy diet and stay active during and after my shift. That helps me stay even throughout my hitch.

These are the most common ones I get from friends and family back home. I had little idea coming in what it would be like and I’m glad I stuck it out through the tough times.

Hopefully things in the oilfield will stabilize and my friends that were laid off will once again be back on bottom drilling ahead.

Any other questions let me know.

5 Takeaways from the Art of Charm Podcast interview with Brett McKay

I look up to both of these guys. Having Jordan Harbinger and Brett McKay chop it up together for an hour was awesome. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Masculinity in Classical Greece was physical. Physical Strength is useful. This is manly because you can provide security to your family and friends. Increase you circle of protection. Barbell Training. I will look into the Starting Strength program Brett and Jordan talked about.
  2. Get outside of your head and just Act. I have heard around the web that confidence was not thinking. Just acting. When at the bar, its about just acting. Think afterword about what went wrong. Just starting is the hardest part.
  3. Me, Always, Everything think. Stop, and spin the box. Ask yourself questions. Is this really that bad? Have other people done this before? What can I learn from this? How can I slowly improve? Trust the Process and do what action you can take right now to get closer.
  4. Life isn’t about Facebook followers or personal branding. This blog isn’t about getting followers. I really only want to flesh out my ideas. When I write things down they stick.
  5. Be more useful. At work, at home and out with friends. I gained more satisfaction from fixing my creaky car door with some motor oil and a sander than I did skiing with my friend. Eliminating a small screeching door felt better in the long run. It’s about solving your problems and being better today than you were yesterday. I just got a promotion at work, and it’s important for me to learn everyday and get better. Lives are on the line.

Action items:

  1. Learn how to film youtube videos. Brett’s are really good.  His Grilling/Smoking series is awesome.
  2. Fix up my washer leak
  3. Fix my car headlight bulb

The Episode


Exploring the Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris while reading “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet

I found Saint-Denis while stumbling through Paris on my off-day from oilfield training. I explored a-lot of the city but my favorite by far was the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This was largely due to a friend who gave me Pillars of the Earth to read. The book does a fine job of mixing a love story with royal intrigue and the incredible task of building a cathedral in the 12th century.

Saint-Denis was built early in the transition from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. Saint-Denis was the first Bishop of Paris and was beheaded on Montmarte. The legend goes that he walked headless until he reached this spot and the church was built over him. In Pillars of the Earth the protaganist, Jack Jackson travels to find work at Saint-Denis and is marveled by the revolutionary new techniques in cathedral building, ie. flying buttresses, pointed arches, and ribbed vaulting.


Pillars does a great job pitting the dark triad royalty against the pious Prior Philip, the leader of Kingsbridge Priory, who wants to bring prosperity to a decaying and insignificant monastery and township. Philips efforts are thwarted and resisted along the way by a machiavellian Bishop Waleran Bigod and psychotic Lord William Hamleigh.


Philip is aided in his quest by the hero of the book, Jack Jackson, a skeptic of the church but intelligent, hard-working, and of high character.

He leaves England and makes his way to Paris while Abbot Suger is constructing the Basilica of Saint-Denis. The new design incorporates ribbed vaulting and point arches, replacing the Romanesque groin vaulting and rounded arches.


One thing I took away from the book was an appreciation for cathedral architecture.

 “To someone standing in the nave, looking down the length of the church toward the east, the round window would seem like a huge sun exploding into innumerable shards of gorgeous color.”
-Ken Follet


“I’ve worked with volunteers before,” he began. “It’s important not to… not to treat them like servants. We may feel that they are laboring to obtain a heavenly reward, and should therefore work harder than they would for money; but they don’t necessarily take that attitude. They feel they’re working for nothing, and doing a great kindness to us thereby; and if we seem ungrateful they will work slowly and make mistakes. It will be best to rule them with a light touch.”
― Ken Follet


Saint-Denis is also the final resting place of 800 years of French Royalty. One of the more interesting memorials include the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I am currently reading about Alexander Hamilton and the Reign of Terror. Hamilton is loathe to intervene in European wars even though they are bound to France. Hamilton argues that the US should remain neutral because the Treaty of Alliance signed in 1778 with King XVI was voided when he was beheaded in 1793.

“The cathedral is God’s shadow over history, Father. We… we live in a world that is striving for order, which is art, which is learning, which is people creating something that will bring God’s heart into their community, that will survive wars and famine, that will survive history.” -Ken Follet

Book Review “I Will Teach you to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi: Frontload the Work and Relax

This book is great for young professionals that want power over their finances. Ramit is a smart bachelor whose mission is to maximize his utility and manage his limited willpower. I’ve put his systems into action and I’ve saved thousands. We also agree on how to eat chicken wings.

I read this in college after hearing Ramit on the Art of Charm (back when it was pickup podcast, RIP). After 2 years in the oilfield, I know this book laid a solid foundation. Last month I put his negotiation tactics to work while shopping for car insurance and got a 30% reduction by switching to Allstate. His tactics paid for the book 20 times over. Besides that he makes financial literacy interesting and has a biting dry wit.


Ramit sets 6 weeks to put in his systems. By the end all of your finances will be automated. Your credit card, online savings and investment accounts will be connected. They will all be low-fee, high-interest, and minimal maintenance. The last section is about saving for weddings, negotiating for cars, and creating a rich life for yourself.


These are the habits I gained and recommend doing:

  • Mint: Probably the best thing I have learned from reading this back in college was getting a Mint account. I have had it for 4 years now and have an awesome data set. I spent the other day running through what I’ve spent over the past 4 years on alcohol, bars, groceries, amazon shopping, and even income.
  • Get rid of all subscriptions: Magazines, cable, Netflix, and linkedin. They are soul sucking. If you want them, buy a la carte.
  • Craigslist: I find its great to buy/sell used items.  I have sold bikes, shoes, furniture and TV’s.
  • Investing: Automation, putting money away for an index fund. It’s like tinder dating for your money. Keep working hard and learning at your job so you deserve the raises that will come your way, and you can invest those. Nothing feels quite like making money while you sleep.

Ramit has a large collection of articles and courses. I almost pulled the trigger on Dream Job but I decided to implement his free stuff first before I moved on to the premium services. This is an entertaining book and I plan on giving it to my nephews and cousins when they are in college.

For 2 great interviews of Ramit:

For another good book review of IWTTBR. Look to Mr Money Mustache’s Book Review.  He calls the title into question, “At best, it should be called I Will Teach You to Stay Out Of Trouble”. MMM is more of a stoic frugalist. Ramit is more of a measured hedonist.

Ramit’s main message is to set up the financial system so you CAN live a rich life. Whatever that means to you.

Buy the book here