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.

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http://www.francethisway.com/paris/saint-denis-basilica.php

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.

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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.

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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

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“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

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https://traveltoeat.com/saint-denis-basilica-paris/

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.

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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.

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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:

http://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/ramit-sethi-will-teach-you-to-be-rich/

http://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/episode-172-ramit-sethi-iwillteachyoutoberich-com-dream-job/

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

 

Best parts of “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S.C. Gwynne: Comanches vs. Texas Rangers

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

The book tracks the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the creation of the Texas Rangers, and the closing chapter of Manifest Destiny in early Texas.

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Promotional hand out photo of the cover of “Empire of the Summer Moon,” by S.C. Gwynne. CREDIT: Simon & Schuster. Received 06/28/10 for 0704gwynne. For 2010 Texas Book Festival Illustration.

The Comanches, never numbering more than 15,000, kicked out the Spanish, Apaches, Mexicans and Texans from the Great Southern Plains, the better part of 5 U.S. States, from 1650 to 1850. They were the most powerful Indian Tribe in U.S. history.

Here are my favorite parts of this book, which was an exciting and engaging read from cover to cover.

Comanches

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“The Comanche horsemen who rode up to the front gate of Parker’s Fort [Texas] that morning in May 1836 were representatives of a military and trade empire that covered some 240,000 square miles, essentially the southern Great Plains. Their land encompassed large chunks of five present-day states: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.”

“Comanches, meanwhile, carried a disk-shaped buffalo-hide shield, a fourteen-foot plains lance, a sinew-backed bow, and a quiver of iron-tipped arrows.The Comanches had been fighting this way for two hundred years. War was what they did, and all of their social status was based on it.”

“He would dance for hours, or days. He loved to gamble and would bet on anything. He loved to sing. He especially loved to sing his personal song, often written expressly for him by a medicine man. He often woke up singing and sang before bed.”

Texas Rangers

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“Ranger John Caperton estimated that “about half the rangers were killed off every year” and that “the lives of those who went into the service were not considered good for more than a year or two.”

“The western part of Texas in those years was awash in young, reckless, single men with a taste for wide open spaces, danger, and raw adventure”

“The only thing the government reliably provided, in its wisdom, was ammunition.”

“Many were large, physically imposing men with thick, brawny arms, long hair, and full beards. Seen from the more civilized parts of nineteenth-century America, they occupied a place in the social order just this side of brigands and desperados.”

”They had learned the fundamental lesson of plains warfare: It was either victory or death.”

Early Texans and Manifest Destiny

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“The vanguard of the America push westward were simple farmers imbued with a fierce Calvinist work ethic, steely optimism, and a cold-eyed aggressiveness that made them refuse to yield even in the face of extreme danger. They were said to fear God so much that there was no fear left over for anyone or anything else.”

“It is one of history’s great ironies that one of the main reasons Mexico had encouraged Americans to settle in Texas in the 1820s and 1830s was because they wanted a buffer against Comanches, a sort of insurance policy on their borderlands.”

“They hated Indians with a particular passion, considering them something less than fully human, and thus blessed with inalienable rights to absolutely nothing.”

“The Texans were not the Spanish of the Mexicans. They were tougher, meaner, almost impossible to discourage, willing to take absurd risks to secure themselves a plot of dirt, and temperamentally well suited to the remorseless destruction of native tribes.”

“They pushed as far into Indian country as their courage, or Indian war parties, would let them. Imagine the alternative: the U.S. government sending troops to shoot down God-fearing settlers who simply wanted a piece of the American dream. It never happened.”

Mustangs

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“When the Pueblos pushed out the Spanish from New Mexico, the horses were abandoned, thus thousands of mustangs ran wild into the open plains that closely resembled their ancestral Iberian lands. Because they were perfectly adapted to the new land, they thrived and multiplied. They became the foundation stock for the great wild mustang herds of the Southwest. The event has become known as the Great Horse Dispersal. The dissemination of so many horses to a group of thirty plains tribes permanently altered the power structure of the North American Heartland.”

Walker Colt Revolver

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“In the first phase of the Comanche wars, the Indians held all the advantages. When Texans arrived from the east, they brought with them their main firearm, the Kentucky rifle”

“No one knows exactly how these revolvers came into the hands of Jack Hays and his Rangers…the date is sometime in 1843…the same year Sam Houston disbanded the navy. The Indians now faced the prospect of being blasted from horseback by guns that never emptied; the whites could now fight entirely mounted. Colt asked Samuel Walker [a Ranger Captain], to help him with the design. The result, the Walker Colt, was one of the most effective and deadly pieces of technology ever devised… Hays had adapted a weapon no one else had wanted and had turned it into the ultimate frontier sidearm, one that soon changed the very nature of the experience of the American West.”

“Jack Hays: He was the greatest Texas Ranger, the one the Comanches feared most…It was said that before Hays, Americans came into the West on foot carrying long rifles, and that after Hays, everybody was mounted and carrying a six-shooter.”

This was a great read. Also recommended is Rebel Yell, his book on Stonewall Jackson. S.C. Gwynne does an incredible job detailing the weaponry, tactics, and geography of battlefields. When I was in Virginia I went to Manassas with his book in hand. I can’t wait to go to the Texas Panhandle with Empire of the Summer Moon.

https://www.amazon.com/Empire-Summer-Moon-Comanches-Powerful/dp/1416591060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471465121&sr=8-1&keywords=Empire+of+the+Summer+Moon

How to stop biting your Nails: The Rubber band Approach

 

We are what we do. For 18 years I bit my fingernails. I was anxious about stuff and to temporarily alleviate the thoughts I bit my nails. It was an anxious habit and it sucked.

I was tennis player and sometimes I couldn’t play. I would bite them during lectures in classes I knew I needed to study for. I would bite them during scary movies.

I was self conscious of it, and each year made a resolution to stop that habit. I wanted it badly enough that I stopped being comfortably numb and took action, well many actions.

I tried using nail polish, habanero hot peppers, nail strengthener; all passive methods that didn’t work for me. Then finally I tried the simple rubber band. Having a rubber band on my wrist cured me.

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This method is simple: Snap your wrist when you bite your nails.Trust me, you will become hyper aware of biting your nails very quickly.

  • Have a thicker rubber band that fits comfortably around your wrist. Carry extras.
  • When you put your fingernail to your teeth…stop yourself, take a deep breath, and don’t judge yourself or be mad
  • Lift up the rubber band and snap yourself hard enough to sting the fleshy part of your wrist. Repeat it 3 times.

The important thing is too always have it on, and snap yourself each time you begin to bite your nails. This is negative reinforcement and believe me, it works.

You might think this is masochistic. But no one ever said changing your habits was easy. But once you win this battle, you gain confidence in yourself.

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From Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit

While breaking this habit, you will recognize the common thought loops that occur before biting your nails. Biting your nails is a symptom not the cause of anxiety. To eradicate the nail biting even further, you must address the cause. Those thoughts are reminders that you haven’t taken action. So take action.

After awhile you develop a new problem. You have to learn how to clip your nails, which is pretty annoying.

Bag Check: What to bring to a Tennis match in your Tennis Bag

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Day Six of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

I’ve been reading  Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis by Brad Gilbert. This part stuck out to me.

The player who understands the significance of gaining a small advantage (and of doing so repeatedly) might still underestimate the role that tennis equipment can play in helping you win more matches. Yes, you can bring the bare minimum, but any player who is serious about winning will go beyond the bare minimum.

I decided to make a quick list for my old high school team. I did some extra research and found this explanation from Gonzo Tennis very satisfying. Answering the question. Why even care?

If you’re heading over to the public courts for a quick rally or match with a buddy then don’t worry about what you bring with you (apart from a racquet and shoes) as there is no consequence for quitting early due to equipment malfunction or injury. However, if you are going into battle, so to speak, where winning might actually matter to you, you should have your tennis bag packed with these just-in-case items. Obviously, preparing for every eventuality is impossible so don’t bother trying. Keep the following basics in your bag and you can feel comfortable that you have taken reasonable measures.

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10 Essential items

  1. Water, drink plenty before, during and after your match. Hydration is the key to good performance. Sip water on every changeover.
  1. Energy food: bananas, oranges, mangos, apples, cliff bars, granola bars
  1. Rackets, at least 2 rackets, in case you break a string
  1. Towels, 1-2 regular size towels to keep you dry
  1. Medical kit: Different types of bandages, neosporin, athletic tape, blister specific bandages, body powder, small pair of scissors, sunscreen, lip balm
  1. Dry tennis clothes: 1-2 spare TC tennis shirts, 2-3 pairs of dry socks, extra shoelaces, extra pair of tennis shoes, sweatbands
  1. Hat with a visor and sunglasses
  1. Over grips, in case yours get soaked or unravel
  1. Extra Shock absorber, in case yours flys off and you can’t find it
  1. A plastic shopping bag, for wet clothes, or for a makeshift cold pack

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Credit: Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis by Brad Gilbert

Blood, Sweat and Oil; What Mud logging in the Oilfield is like

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Drillship in the distance

Extraction of volatile substances sometimes under extreme pressure in a hostile environment — means risk; accidents and tragedies occur regularly.

As a Mud logger my job is to take, describe and log the rocks and gas all the way down to TD. I also monitor the well, watching for problem indicators on our sensors. At the end of the day we produce reports for clients.

The job is sometimes hard, with long hours of dirty, sweaty work in hot cramped machine rooms. The job can also be boring, spending 10 hours staring at computer screens. I experience social isolation during the 14-28 days I am out here. But it does come with its perks.

Advantages:

The views.

Money. All food is provided, no long car commute. Pay is pretty good.

Hot showers, warm bed, laundry services, all you can eat buffets.

28 On / 14 Off Schedule. Is good for traveling.

Gym onboard, no alcohol. Can get in shape and lose weight.

Ability to read a lot. I’ve read many books while offshore.

The Oilfield Life

“It doesn’t rain in the oilfield” Applies today well. I am working the Midnight to Noon shift. It is pouring down rain and lightning is hitting around us. Still the rig crew keeps tripping out pipe.

It never stops working. These rigs go 24 hours a day 7 days a week. No holidays because it costs 1.5 million dollars per day to operate.

I work 12hr/day. My back to back, does the exact same job for the other 12 hours.

After I knock off I can play guitar, watch tv, or go to the Gym. I have been going to the gym less often this hitch because my circadian rhythm is still off.

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Sikorsky S-92 Personnel Helicopter

To get out here I take a 1 hour helicopter ride from Houma on a 20 passenger Sikorsky S-92, 20. Was exciting at first and now just monotonous. I normally just bury my head in my paper back because they don’t allow electronics.

My Drill Ship is 780ft long, 138ft wide. 10-15 floors. Built in 2014 in South Korea and cost 700 million dollars. Includes a cafeteria, helipad, 2 gyms, and a movie theater.

The global oversupply has led my company to cut around 30,000 jobs. My pay has been cut by 30%. Morale out here is pretty bad. Most of us are just happy to have jobs. People are getting laid off right and left. The training schedule has been canceled and we are all making sacrifices.

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Sunrise on the Drillship