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.

Completely.

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.

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Dropping Edward Jones and moving my money to Vanguard

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAf7I5gl72A

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

 

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

 

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

Delicious routines: Why a Jazz drummer eats 2 Chipotle burrito bowls a day to explode his creativity

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2 Chipotle Bowls a Day: The (Delicious) Power of Routine

When I first read the headline I thought that’s a great rationalization for being obsessed with Chipotle. My next thought, I want Chipotle right now.

Before you also get the craving and leave know that this Jazz Drummer and Entrepreneur inspired me. A year ago I set a goal to write more. I accomplished that goal using his method for lowering activation energy and setting up an easy routine/system.

Yoni’s creative process begins with his Chipotle system to save time and mental energy.

“Anchoring your routine around something by eliminating unnecessary choices to consume and shift mental and physical energy toward the projects that truly deserve them.”

Routines provide stability and channel your energy.

Yoni’s 2 bowls a day Chipotle routine inspired me to set a writing routine while I was stuck working on a Drillship.

He makes an interesting analogy with jazz drumming: his fundamental drum beat is Chipotle. All the variations and creative fills occur because of his fundamental beat.

Besides making me want Chipotle, I reflected on the time I devote to planning, buying, preparing, cooking, eating and cleaning up for meals. This is probably why I write more offshore than when I am onshore. I love to cook, but it definitely cuts back available time and energy to write.

Achieving creative bliss by lowering Activation Energy

Yoni eats healthy delicious meals, then put his time toward being a professional drummer. When I first read this article about a year ago I wanted to begin writing more on my blog. So I decided to set up a system.

Write 2 sentences a day

If I wanted to write more each day I would, and I usually did. But setting such an easy goal made it laughably easy. And as my man Mr. Money Mustache has said,

small efforts, repeated over time, will almost always surprise you.”

Sometimes I don’t write on days, but I’ve never stopped by being discouraged because the goal of 2 sentences was so low.

Lowering the activation energy of those tasks by eliminating the excuse that I don’t have time has proved to be the catalyst for incorporating writing into my daily routine.

I have a word document saved on my computer called 2 sentences a day. I am now at 119 pages and 67,000 words.

Yoni has his 2 bowls, and I have my 2 sentences.

My preference at Chipotle:

Chicken Fajita Bowl with brown rice, black beans, corn salsa, tomatillo green salsa, lettuce and guac.

Always finish Strong.

The Yoni Dina Chipotle Routine on Art Of Charm.com