I don’t know shit about Adversity.

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Adversity

What is adversity?

I thought I knew.

Getting crushed by an avalanche gained me a ticket into the Survivors Club. The snow broke my ribs, collapsed my lung, broke every bone in my face, including the ones I didn’t know existed behind my eyeballs, severed my ACL and left me spilling blood and gasping for air on the side of a mountain.

I thought I knew what adversity was because of the searing pain I experienced. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the back every time I hit a bump while being carried in the rescue sled down mountain.

I thought I knew about hard times because the ambulance ride took 3 ½ hours to get to the hospital. I was spitting blood all over the place, bitching, moaning, crying, and begging for random strangers to save my life.

I thought I knew about adversity because of waking up in the hospital on life support. I was unable to speak because I had a hole with a tube sticking down my throat and into my lung. My jaw was wired shut and I couldn’t scream out for help.

Three facial surgeries in seven days left eight titanium plates in my face.
Several months and several surgeries later I found myself battling depression, anger, and the worst of all—self pity.

All this led me to believe that I knew something about adversity. That I was something of an expert on the topic.

Now I don’t think I know shit about adversity.

I just got news that my friend (I’ll call him Jon) was admitted to Hospice care. Jon is transitioning to the next experience.

Jon has been battling brain cancer for 4 years. Jon knows about Adversity.

Jon is the most charismatic dude I’ve ever met. The guy had flair that came from a mixture of confidence, competence, and personality.

When I first met Jon he was a gourmet chef in Napa Valley. He was a showman. A food showman. I never gave a shit about food, but when Jon would talk, I found myself paying attention to every little detail about food that he rapped on about.

He had great showmanship with food, but one of the things that made him so interesting, is that he was also a great teacher. He made a subject I found boring, cooking, into something interesting. I loved hearing Jon talk about food (Use grapeseed oil, not olive oil! – when cooking steaks).

He taught a food and wine class every weekend.

I took my Mom to one of his classes for Mother’s Day one year. It was the best Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever gotten Mom. Maybe the best gift I ever got her. It was such a cool thing to see this guy so in his element.

I met Jon through work, we were employed at the same winery. Eventually Jon moved on to other employment. I expected to see him become a famous Chef, like the ones on the TV. I imagined he’d have his own restaurants and cookware and pots with his name on it.

Life had other plans.

Jon was diagnosed with brain cancer several months after my accident. One day my buddy showed me a picture on Facebook of this guy in a hospital bed with a horseshoe sized scar on top of his shaved head.

The guy in the picture looked lost. My buddy said, “That’s Jon.”

The look on Jon’s face reminded me of what I felt like when I was in the hospital. I visited him in the hospital the next day. He was surprised to see me. We hadn’t spoken since he left the winery. It had been two years.

I hung out with Jon and tried to listen as best I could. He was going through serious Adversity. The good news was, the doctors had caught the cancer early. They had successfully removed a golf ball sized tumor from his head. His future looked bright.

I attempted to impart some of the thoughts that had helped me during my struggle. I encouraged him to start writing. I dunno. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything and just shut up and listened. I couldn’t fathom the battle that Jon was in.

I visited him a few days later and this time I brought him a box of See’s chocolate candies. He seemed to like them. Jon was stronger than when I’d seen him before. I could see Jon’s charisma attempting to burst through the trauma of the surgery.

Unfortunately I never spoke with Jon again. I meant to but I didn’t.

Time passed. Jon left the hospital, then eventually returned to work part time. I kept up with him through a few texts and word on the grapevine. He worked when his health would permit him to.

I’m sure his work provided a welcomed distraction.  He loved cooking.  I doubt he ever thought of it as work.

But the news always returned that Jon was back in the hospital having another surgery or round of cancer treatment. It was brutal just to get the news of his struggle. I couldn’t imagine being the guy going through it.

Everyone was pulling for Jon. I remember there was a charity dinner held at the winery he worked at when he got diagnosed with cancer. The winery was raising money to help pay for Jon’s medical expenses.

I didn’t want to go to the dinner because it was on the weekend and it was wintertime. I wanted to go skiing.

I called up the phone number where the tickets to the dinner were being sold and I asked if I could just give them some money instead of buying a ticket. The woman on the phone was relieved that I just wanted to send money. She said the dinner was sold out but people kept trying to buy tickets.

I heard later that the charity dinner was so over sold that they were worried about getting shut down by the fire department. Apparently the fire department let them slide because they knew purpose of the event.

That’s the kind of impact Jon had on anyone that met him. There weren’t a shit ton of people at the event because Jon had cancer. There were a shit ton of people at the event because Jon had this magnetic personality that people couldn’t help but be attracted to.

Jon battled cancer. He didn’t give up.

He married his long time girlfriend, which I know made him immensely happy.

And, he taught people. There isn’t anyone that knows him, that can’t use him as motivation. If anyone that knows Jon is battling Adversity, they can pause for a moment, think of Jon, and realize that their situation isn’t as bad as they think it is, and they must persevere.

I often think of Jon when I’m bitching and moaning and life is difficult. I think of Jon and I think that I need to shut up and stop complaining. I think of Jon and I am reminded of how grateful I am to take a simple walk with my dog and enjoy the breeze.

I think of Jon and I think about how I’ve got a lot of work to do to be a better human being.
I’m sad I won’t be able to visit Jon in Hospice. I moved away from Napa to the East Coast and cannot make the trip.

I love that dude. He’s an inspiration.

I will miss Jon. I know he is going to a good place.

Be well brother.

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Year End Book Review for my homies.

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Hello Wonderful People of the Internet!

How are you? Did you survive all the holiday treats? I did not. All I have been eating is cake and chocolate and sugar…

But I have also been working. Not much but a little. I promised you, my dear reader, that I’d publish my year end book review… ON TIME for once. And here it is…

The Serpent of Venice – Christopher Moore – fiction

Christopher Moore is a great literary re-cycler. He takes old stories, puts his comedic spin on it, and repackages it as a new story. Serpent is a blend of Othello and The Merchant of Venice and Moore mixes in some of his favorite characters from his fantastic book Fool. I enjoy Moore’s style. The dialogue in his books is always great.

Moore also has the rare talent of comedic writing. It’s hard to be funny in writing. It’s even more difficult to switch from comedy to drama, then back again. This is something Moore does well. I enjoyed this book.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice – Bill Browder – non

I took an unexpected detour into the subject of modern Russia. This book by Bill Browder, tells the fascinating story of how a guy from the Midwest United States goes on to become the largest foreign investor in Russia.

With great risks come great rewards. At first, Browder’s Hermitage Fund made huge gains investing during the time that Russia’s economy took its first steps from communism to capitalism. Then Browder found himself on the wrong side of Putin’s graces. Going against Putin is not a fun endeavor. Browder had to shut down his fund. He was banned from Russia. Innocent people were killed.

Putin is a gangster and this is one of the many tales that illuminate the power of the man who controls Russia

Once Upon A Time In Russia – Ben Mezrich – non

Mezrich tells the story of the rise and fall of Boris Berezovsky, and a few of the other Russian Oligarchs. When Russia changed from communism to capitalism, the vast majority of the country’s wealth fell into the hands of a few people, the Oligarchs. Life was swell for Berezovsky during the Yeltsin years when he had the government on his side.

Once Putin came to power, Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider, found himself on the outside looking in. Then he started publicly criticizing Putin. Needless to say, that’s not a smart move. Berezovsky quickly fell from power, fortune, and had to flee Russia.

This is another sad story that portrays the wildness following the Soviet Union’s collapse and another example of someone going against Putin—and losing.

Born To Run – Christopher McDougall – non

This book is fantastic. It read more like a novel than a non-fiction. McDougall tells the story of the Tarahumara of Northern Mexico, the world’s greatest endurance runners. The Tarahumara live in the Copper Canyons which are similar to the Grand Canyon. The terrain is rugged, vast, and unforgiving. The Tarahumara thrive there and run vast distances as a part of daily life.

McDougall also weaves in many stories of endurance running throughout the ages. He argues that humans were born to run. That is what makes us so unique. He convinced me.

My favorite line is “We don’t stop running because we get old. We get old because we stop running.”

This is a wonderful book.

The Martian – Andy Weir – fiction

The story of how The Martian was written is almost as interesting as the book itself. Weir went to great lengths to get the science of the book correct. You can listen to James Altucher’s podcast with Weir where they discuss this in more detail. In short, he’d post chapters of the book on his website and his readers would correct him if he messed up a particular physics problem… or whatever.

So, here’s the idea: Astronaut gets stranded on Mars through unfortunate events. He uses his smarts to stay alive. Then all of Earth bands together to try and save stranded astronaut.

Weir writing style is entertaining and informative. His main character uses comedy and sarcasm in between the drama of staying alive. This is a wonderful and original story.

Of A Happy Life – Seneca – non

This was my first time reading Seneca. I wouldn’t even call Of A Happy Life a book. It’s more of an essay. It had zero impact on me. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good. I can’t really remember much about it. I guess there is reason why, when people talk about Seneca, they usually mention his other works.

When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron – non

A friend of mine, a guy a greatly respect, sort of a mentor, recommended this book to me. At the time he was going through tremendous adversity. He’s a smart and determined guy. I knew he’d handle the adversity and be a better person for it.

My friend is also a good person to talk to about books. He’s the one that gave me one of my favorite books Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. When he mentions books he likes I pay attention.

I found When Things Fall Apart to be kinda slow and wishy washy. There were some good parts about making meditation accessible for the average person, which I liked. But in general I didn’t get much out of the book.

Sometimes the way a book impacts you depends a lot on where you are in your life, at the moment you read it. Maybe that’s why this book didn’t do much for me.

Fooled By Randomness – Nassim Taleb – non

I’ve been meaning to read some of Taleb’s work for a while. I’ve followed him on Twitter for a few years and I listened to the podcast he did with James Altucher.

Fooled By Randomness has some brilliant ideas. Some of which I couldn’t follow because I’m not smart enough. Some of them I got. It gave me a new way of looking at things. You can navigate life safely if you understand how to deal with probabilities. Most people don’t. It wasn’t the easiest to read. The writing doesn’t flow like a great novel. It’s more academic.

I liked the book and I recommend it. I’ll be reading more of Taleb’s work. If you’re interested in finance you need to read this book. If not, then it’s ok if you don’t, but you probably should.

The Ultimate Sales Letter – Dan Kennedy – non

I think it’s important for everyone to have some level of sales skills. We all need to be our own mini-brands. It makes sense doesn’t it? Of course it does. Corporations are downsizing and no should work for the government. So we all need to learn how to work for ourselves—in whatever capacity we can find.

And to work for yourself you need to learn to sell. Dan Kennedy will teach you how. Listen to what this guy has to say. He is one of the smartest marketers around. Kennedy breaks it down in an easy to understand language. He spent his entire career educating people on marketing and sales.

You’ll learn a lot from reading this book. But, you’ll learn a lot from reading any of Kennedy’s books. So pick up the first one you can find.

Market Wizards – Jack Schwager – non

If you study finance for more than three days, you will here at least five people suggest that you read Market Wizards. Market Wizards is a series of interviews Schwager conducts with the top financial traders of the day. Which is sometime in the late 1980’s.

Some of the interviews are dry and kinda boring. But if you like investing and finance you’ll love ‘em. A few of the interviews are deep and insightful. The ideas in these few interviews are applicable to many areas of life outside of finance.

It’s a thick book, but I blew threw it faster than I thought I would. I also read it just after I read Fooled By Randomness and I began to think that maybe, many of these successful traders were simply lucky.

The Ultimate Marketing Plan – Dan Kennedy – non

Remember how I told you a little higher on the page how you can learn a lot from Dan Kennedy? Yes? Good.

Well, I learned a lot from reading The Ultimate Sales Letter so I decided to read some more Kennedy. This book is also jam-packed with useful information. I recommend reading books like this over going to business school.

You’ll get a better education and a real ROI for Kennedy’s ideas. I got the book, when I signed up for his offer at the end of The Ultimate Sales Letter. It only cost $20 and I got a ton of useful information and this book. I recommend it if you ever have aspirations of working for yourself.

And so…

That wraps up my Reading List for 2015. I think I read about 25 books or so. I hope to do better next year.

I attempted to read The Essays of Montaigne. I’m still working on it. It’s slow going. I’ll let you know if I finish it.

And naturally, I want to know what you think. Have you read any of the books on my Reading List? If so what did you think? Did you read a book that rocked your world? If so, what was it?

I’m always looking for that book that will make me shake when I read it.

Have a Happy New Year. And thanks for reading my blog!

A Massive Amount of Free Learning

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Hello Beautiful Peoples of the Internet!

It is I, the lazy blogger.

No I was not dead, only lazy. And I’ve neglected this blog and my 2 or 3 readers for too long.

I’m sorry!

I want to make it up to you. So I’m gonna give you some important stuff for FREE. And because it is free, you won’t value or use it. Because no one values free stuff.

Now, let’s go on.

What could I give you that is valuable and free? Knowledge and learning. In this case it will be a shit-ton of stuff to learn.

You’ve heard me say this before. The internet has brought a world of learning to the masses. College is obsolete. You can learn way more by reading and doing.

Onward.

Better Than University

I’ve learned a lot by reading the internet and I thought I’d give you a list of great resources to learn from. So here it is:

MIT OpenCourseWare. Don’t pay to go to college. Go to MIT for free online.

Seriously.

The chances of your college curriculum being better than MIT’s is low. Check this out. The chance of it being a better value than MIT OpenCourseWare is exactly zero.

If that isn’t good enough for you then here, go to Duke’s free online learning.

When I was researching Duke’s free learning I came across Cousera.  It includes Duke and a bunch of other stuff, so it has to be even better right?

Hot Damn!  Is that a good start or what?

I hope you’re not still mad at me for neglecting you, my dear reader, for over 2 months.  I feel bad about it.

I really do.

Okay, so now that you have some knowledge about how the world works… what do you need to do? You need to put it to work.

How do you do that?  Well my friend, you need to learn how to sell.

And the internet is one of the best places to learn how to sell.

Learn How To Earn A Buck

I highly recommend reading The Boron Letters. Actually, you need to print them out first, then read them. Gary Halbert, maybe the greatest copywriter ever, went to prison.  These are letters he wrote to his son from behind bars.

They’re entertaining and informative.

Next you need to read both of Claude Hopkins’ books Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising.

Now that you’ve got the foundation of sales in writing, you need to learn how it is applied online. There are many great places to learn copywriting. Here are just a few of the better ones in no particular order:

Kopywriting Kourse: Sign up for Neville’s emails. You’ll learn a ton and they’re funny.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich: Ramit Sethi is a master copywriter. He also has a ton of high quality free content. Sign up for his emails.

Stansberry Reseach: Pay attention to these emails, they sell, sell, sell. Then they sell some more. Analyze how they push the psychological buttons of the prospect. If you can write even a fraction as good as these guys, you will do well.

Well, now that you learned a bunch of stuff, then you learn how to sell it, you’ve made a bunch of money and now you want to relax. What do you want to do when you relax? Obviously you want to read some more, right?

Right??

A World of Reading

Well Project Gutenburg.org is a great place to go. This site has a tremendous catalog of public domain books you can download. I recommend starting with The Count of Monte Cristo if you haven’t read it yet. And if you like Project Gutenburg, why don’t you send them a small donation so they can keep the lights on?

That’d be nice of you.

Ok, here’s a crazy idea. This resource will give you access to a ton of books for free. And, not just old public domain books. This resource has old and new, and I’ve heard they even have digital books although I’ve never tried this.

And here it is: Your Local Public Library.

Stunning reveal, right?

Well it gets better.

These days you can go to your local library’s website and search through their inventory and request books. They pull the books and have them waiting for you to pick up.

Which is great because you don’t have to waste your time walking around a dusty old library, searching and trying to figure out what the heck the Dewey Decimal System is.

You can also tell the website where to send the book. If you have a library branch close to your house you can have it sent there. If it’s easier to pick up the branch that is on your way to work you can pick it up there.

The local library system gets even better if it’s connected with other local systems.

When I lived in Napa, CA, I’d never go to the Napa County Library website, I’d go to the SNAP website. SNAP is Solano Napa Area Partners. It was 3 or 4 neighboring counties that all shared books. This system had way more books than just the Napa County system.

And I’d get all the books for free.

Unfortunately not all county libraries are hooked up with their neighbors. Right now I live in Durham, North Carolina. Durham County Library isn’t hooked up with any of the surrounding county libraries. And the Durham County Library inventory of books is shockingly bad. Boohoo.

I miss the days of SNAP.

YouTube

Sometimes it’s better to see a demonstration than to read about it. A great place to learn by watching others is YouTube. You can learn all types of stuff on YouTube.

I needed to change the headlight in my car one day. The dealership said they would gladly do it for $100. I said, “Oh hell no.”

I needed to learn how to change the lightbulb in the headlamp of my Subaru so I watched this video. And BAM! I was able to change my lightbulb. I changed both headlights. Cost? $12 for 2 headlights. And some bruised knuckles and a bit of aggravation. It was worth it.

Audio

I’ve mentioned this before. Podcasts are a great way to learn. I often listen to podcasts when I’m cooking food. I can’t read because I’m busy choppin’ and stirrin’… but I can listen and still learn. And podcasts are also free.

Twitter

How can you learn stuff on Twitter? Well, what are you interested in? Pick the top 10 or 15 people in that field and follow them on Twitter. You are bound to learn something from those top performers.

Whew!

That is a lot of learning. If you learned all that stuff you are a genius. I would like to meet you and say hello. I’m impressed with your work ethic.

You know, that was a lot. You should be good to go for a while now. But if you think that is not enough and you still need free learning, well—go find it yourself.

Sheesh. That’s the best I can do for now.

What more do you want? Heck, you even read this blog post for free.

And, as always, thanks for reading.
P.S. I should be getting out my Semi-Annual Book Report out on time this year. Look for it at the end of the year.

Elevate Coffee to another level. By taking it down a notch.

This stuff elevates the coffee experience.

This stuff elevates the coffee experience.

I start every day with two large cups of black coffee. Therefore, I start everyday with a smile due to the hot brew.

I think that coffee taken black and in moderation is good for you. It seems there is a new article every day stating some health benefit of drinking coffee. I like to think that coffee is part of my healthy lifestyle.

Naturally, as a health nut, I’m always looking for some little trick or tweak that I can incorporate into my day, to be healthier. When I started to hear of a way to make coffee healthier, I paid attention.

I started hearing about putting MCT oil in coffee. Then I heard about adding grass-fed butter to your coffee. Then maybe you were supposed to blend the two together and put it in the coffee. I dunno. I heard these recommendations while listening to the Joe Rogan podcast.

I was confused. Then I found out that MCT oil, which stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, is simply coconut oil. I’d never used coconut oil before but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find.

And you know what? It wasn’t. I found some in my local grocery store. I bought a jar, brought it home and decided to give it a shot.

It’s super easy to make your coffee with coconut oil. Just make your coffee the exact same way you always have except put a spoonful of coconut oil into your cup before you pour in the hot coffee.

And Presto! That’s it, you just took your coffee up a notch.

You might be thinking, “Eww. Why would I want my coffee to taste like coconuts?” That’s a fair question and that’s what I thought at first too. It turns out that coconut oil is tasteless.

It’s weird but true.

The coffee tastes the same, it just looks like there is an oil slick in the coffee.

When I tried coffee like this the first time I thought, “What’s the big deal?”

After drinking coffee with coconut oil for a week I think I figured it out. The coconut oil makes the caffeine come on slower. Instead of the caffeine hitting you like a train… or a punch in the face, it slowly, gently comes on. I guess the coconut oil slows down the absorption of caffeine.

As you know, I’m not a scientist, but this is what it feels like to me.

The “coffee feeling” comes on slower and seems to last longer. I also feel “coffee satisfied” much longer than without using the coconut oil. After drinking coffee like this for a week the strangest thing happened.

I was no longer reaching for that second cup of coffee.

I’ve always drank two large cups of coffee throughout the morning. Using the coconut oil, I found that that second cup was too much. Now I just drink one large cup of coffee in the morning.

Adding coconut oil to your coffee makes a subtle but profound difference. The coconut oil optimizes the coffee experience by moderating the rate of caffeine absorption.

Adding coconut oil doesn’t make your coffee taste different, it makes your coffee feel different. And the texture is a little oily as well.

You should try adding some coconut oil to your coffee.

And here’s why.

It’s one of those low-downside to potentially large upside situations. The jar of coconut oil only costs a couple of bucks. If you don’t like the new coffee after trying it, quit. If you do like it, you have set yourself up for a lifetime of healthiness and coffeed happiness.

P.S. I’d love to hear from someone that has tried coconut oil in coffee or grass fed butter in coffee—or both. What do you think? Has it changed the way you drink coffee or did you switch back to your old way? Let me know.  I’m trying to learn more about this.

Drink Up. 9 Reasons NOT to Age wine.

Wine is meant for consuming.

Wine is meant for consuming.

I want to save the good stuff to drink when I’m with family and friends.

And that can be a problem.

Wine enthusiasts like me, will build up large cellars of awesome wine. This wine can sit for years and sometimes decades while the owner waits for the perfect occasion to open it.

While the owner of this wine collection is waiting some undesirable stuff can happen.

The wine can go bad.

Even stored under perfect conditions, wine can still go bad. Like everything, wine has an expiration date. The problem is no one really knows when that is. Some wines can last for decades, others only a year or two.

And that’s a great place to start my list: The 9 reasons NOT to age wine.

  1. Wine doesn’t last forever.

It’s a tragedy to find someone with a large old wine collection, only to find that many of the great bottles are past their prime and should be poured down the drain. It makes me cry.

2. Usual Suspects

Another tragedy that can happen to great wine that you are waiting for the perfect occasion to drink is that some unauthorized person can take the wine. Family members are a usual culprit.

Mom, who is going to a dinner party with her friends from work, and she doesn’t know Yellow Tail from Bordeaux, just took the first bottle of wine came across in you cellar. She figures you have a lot of wine, you won’t miss one bottle, plus she’ll go to the grocery store to replace it if you want.

She leaves the cellar with a bottle that says Cabernet Sauvignon. What she doesn’t know is that that was your last bottle of the 2002 vintage from your favorite small winery in Napa Valley. The bottle has the word Rutherford on it. You can’t replace the wine, it’s sold out, plus the current vintage sells for well over $150.

Thanks Mom.

3. 3-5% of all corks are faulty. Corks have one of the highest failure rates in any industry. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t matter if you buy California, Bordeaux, or Brunello, corks all around the world have a high failure rate. And the best wines are still sealed with corks.

You could hold on to a wine for a long time, pull it out, and the wine is garbage because the cork failed years ago.

4. Natural disasters. A house fire, hurricane, earthquake (I lived in Napa when the quake hit and lost some good wine), any random shit you can’t predict, can happen. And then you don’t get to drink your awesome wine.Why do you want to start collecting and aging wine?

5. I don’t know what the bullet point here is but consider this…

I worked with one of the best winemakers in Napa Valley. One of his bottles of wine sells for $250. He tells me to drink all California wine 8 years from the vintage. His customers buy his wine and say they will store it for 20 years. They are making a mistake.

6. Burglary.

I know this sounds out there, but someone could break into your house. While they are trying to steal your expensive shit, they see your wine cooler and snag a bottle on the way out the door. I’ve heard of this happening.

7. Moving.

You might move. It’s very difficult to move a collection of wine. Most people move in the warmer months. When you move the wine it’s easy for it to get too hot. The wine gets ruined in the move. I’ve experienced this many times.

8. You didn’t buy enough of the wine.

I only hold on to a wine if I have at least 6 bottles but preferably 12. That way you can drink it over the years so you can see when it’s at its peak. If you only have 1 or 2 bottles, go ahead and drink ‘em.

9. You could die.

If you get in a car accident or whatever and you leave this earth… Well, you can’t take your wine with you. You will have saved the wine and not had the pleasure of drinking it. That’s sad.

You might want to consider if you even should age wine. Most people (me included) should not. It’s not as good an idea as it seems.

“Serious Wine Collectors” hate to hear this. Ok, I understand we all have our deeply held beliefs. I’ve had “Serious Wine Collectors” tell me that my winemaker friend in Napa who makes great wine and suggests you drink it within 8 years of vintage, is an idiot.

Ok. Not likely, but whatever. This post isn’t for “Serious Wine Collectors.” We all have our hobbies and I’m not trying to shit on anyone’s hobby.

I’m just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I’ve made and mistakes I’ve seen a lot of others make as well. When I’ve had a beautiful bottle of wine that I’ve held for a long time get ruined I always think “Damn! I should’ve drank that wine on a Tuesday night while eating Ramen noodles and watching a movie, instead of holding it for the perfect occasion.”

It’s always a better use of the wine to drink it, than to hold it and it goes bad. But that’s just my opinion that I developed the hard way.

There are all sorts of bad random things that can happen if you hold on to a good bottle for too long.

I’m not trying to talk down to people aging wine. I’ve experienced the downside and the limited upside. The vast majority of the time it’s not worth it to hold wine for long periods.

Wine is meant to be consumed with family and friends. Do that instead of storing it forever.

What do you think, am I crazy?

I want to hear from Wine Enthusiasts.  What do you love about aging wine?  Has anything unfortunate ever happened to your favorite bottles that you’ve held on to?

Love me or hate me but please don’t ignore me.  Let me hear your thoughts in the Comments section.

Adult Braces are… Awesome??

I had braces with rubber bands as an adult.  One time the girls talked me into wearing the pink, blue, and green rubber bands.

I had braces with rubber bands as an adult. One time the girls talked me into wearing the pink, blue, and green rubber bands.

Braces are painful. The metal rubs into your mouth causing sores.

Food gets caught up in the braces. Your tongue gets sore trying to get the bits and pieces out. Brushing your teeth is difficult. And flossing? Flossing your teeth with braces is like knitting with a slobbery wet needle and thread and slobbery knitting fingers.

Now for the fun part: you’re supposed to engage in this pleasant experience every night before you go to bed. It is important to do this.

Every kid that gets braces at least has several friends going through the same experience. Misery loves company. You have to do what your parents say. Getting braces as a kid ain’t so bad, except that every kid that has to get braces thinks it’s the end of the world.

You know what I’m talking about, eh? You had them when you were a kid and remember the pain and embarrassment? How you’re lips would stick out to cover the metal and you wouldn’t smile because it hurt too much?  Oh, the good ‘ol days.

Well, getting braces as an adult is different animal. Especially if you had braces as a kid and you know already know what you’re getting into.

As an adult you know most of the things about braces that kids do, plus you have a few more things to worry about.

Adults know how expensive (!) braces are. That new car or fancy vacation you were thinking about? That’s going to have to wait. Then there’s the added discomfort of “everybody’s gonna stare at you” because you’re not a kid and all your friends aren’t getting braces as well.

No, you are the only adult you know that is getting braces. If you’re a dude, women aren’t going to want to touch you. If you’re a woman, dudes will think at least once or maybe even twice, but they will still touch you.

It’s easy to decide not to get braces as an adult. It’s always easier to do nothing. Adults get stuck in their ways.

They say something like, “I’m already in my X’s (X = 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc.). I’ve looked this way my whole life.” Plus they’re expensive. And all the other reasons. Blah.

It’s easy to not get braces.

If braces suck so bad why would you get them if you’re an adult (if you’re a kid you get them because Mom and Dad said so)? You get braces as an adult because having straight teeth is awesome.

I respect the heck out of adults that take the plunge and sign up for the misery of getting braces.

When you grow up with crooked teeth you can’t imagine what it’s like to have straight teeth. Smiling tends to be something you do only if your Mom forces you to.Once braces align your crooked teeth, you know how much better your bite feels with your new alignment.

You gain a bit of confidence or–you lose a bit of self consciousness. Thumbs up either way.

It’s easier to smile. Smiling is awesome. Smiling makes you feel better. Braces, once you go through a year or two of pain, will make you feel better.

I’ve never met someone that got braces as an adult that said, “I did the wrong thing. I shouldn’t have gotten braces.” Adults love having straight teeth. We all complain about the process, but we all love the end result.

After the avalanche I was curious to see what my teeth looked like. I’d smashed my jaw in several places. When I woke up in the hospital my jaw was wired shut. Because of the wires holding my jaw shut I couldn’t see my teeth.

The good news was that I still had teeth.

Once the wires were removed it was easy to see that my teeth had moved around. My jaw didn’t close like normal. I knew I needed braces.

I hated braces as a kid. The trauma from the avalanche had tempered my anger and frustrations. After recovering from those injuries, something like braces is no big deal.

I still wasn’t stoked to get braces. I decided to view it as another surgery or rehabilitation I had to do to recover. I signed up and got some metal on my teeth.

I didn’t smile much before I got braces for the second time. After my braces were removed I try to smile as much as possible. I’m not good at it and sometimes I think I come off as creepy. Sometimes I try too hard to smile.

Deciding to get braces as an adult was not a fun experience. As an adult it’s easy to decide against getting braces. The good thing is that as an adult you can understand the benefits of straight teeth and an easy smile better than you can as a child.

You will look back on this decision and realize it’s was one of the best you ever made.

P.S. I got my adult braces from Dr. Cooke in Napa, CA. I can’t recommend her and her staff enough.

PPS. If you got braces as an adult let me know how it made you feel in the Comments section below. I bet once they were taken off you loved the way you looked, right?  It was totally worth all the pain, misery, and expense, no?

Semi-Annual Book Report… 3 months too late.

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Procrastination has always kicked my ass.  This book review should have been written at the beginning of summer not the end.  Here’s what I’ve been reading so far this year:

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr – fiction

This book takes place in Europe in World War II. The work follows the two young children, a blind girl in France and an albino hair orphan in Germany. I thought it was a beautiful book. The description and imagery is vivid and real. It is a sad story but then again most WWII stories are. The author made it seem like it was real. I was impressed and definitely recommend this one.

Deep Simplicity: Finding Order in Chaos and Complexity – John Gribbin – nonfiction

This book is deep. Did you know that there were laws that dictate everything from the way coastlines are formed to the pattern of traffic jams? Me neither. If you did you are probably an astrophysicist like the author. I did not understand everything that was going on in this book, but I got the main points. The author did a good job of making it accessible to average folks like me. Here’s a friendly warning: Put you thinking cap on for this one. This book is also a Charlie Munger recommendation. I liked it too, check it out.

How We Decide – Jonah Lehrer – nonfiction

This book was recommended to me by Pat who is wicked smart. I told him I read Deep Simplicity. He said if I liked that then I’d probably like How We Decide. Pat was correct. How We Decide is fascinating. We all know humans are not rational, right? It turns out we need the emotional side of our brain to make the best decisions. We need our emotions to cut through the noise so we can act. This book challenged my thinking. It’s well written and full of good information. Check it out.

Lamb – Christopher Moore – fiction

One of the brilliant things about Moore is that he is one of the few writers that can be funny and tell a good story. This book is about Biff, Jesus’ childhood friend. I stayed away from this book for years because of the religious aspect. That was a mistake. Moore did a great job. What if Jesus was a ninja, a yoga master, and could make himself invisible? What if he had a best friend that he forced to sleep with a bunch of prostitutes so that he could learn about sex, because he was celibate? What if?

My Life In Advertising – Claude Hopkins – non

If you want to learn about business or marketing read this book and Hopkin’s Scientific Advertising. If you cross a value investor with a marketing wizard you’d get Claude Hopkins. I also like his short sentences. The short but powerful sentences reminded me of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Because of that I think this is a good read even if you don’t care about learning marketing.

Outrageous Advertising – Bill Glazer – non

If you’re trying to something, learn from someone who has accomplished what you’re trying to learn. Bill Glazer learned effective marketing. His main point is You Have To Get Noticed! Otherwise no one will care. This book is full of good info, but if you’re not trying to learn marketing they are other books to read.

Siddhartha – Herman Hesse – fiction

In looking for balance in my life I’m spending time thinking about Spirituality. My buddy Jason recommended this book. This is a short but powerful story of a man who spends his whole life searching for inner peace. He goes through successes and failures. He learns all his life. He learns to listen. And that is the key. Check this book out.

“Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson – non

I’ve never cared about Steve Jobs. I didn’t have an opinion. I was never an Apple hater or lover. I found myself fascinated with the story and playing with my ipad with renewed interest while reading this book. Isaacson did a great job portraying a complex and difficult man. Steve Jobs was a little crazy but not stupid. He was influenced tech, movies, and music. He was the definition of one who is creative. I will also be reading Isaacson’s book on Ben Franklin. Well done.

The Black Count – Tom Reiss – non

First read The Count of Monte Cristo. Then and only then can you read this book. I admire the amount of research Reiss did to uncover this fascinating story. General Alex Dumas’ mother was a black slave from Haiti and his father was a white French degenerate aristocrat. His father sold Alex’s siblings and his mother, but kept Alex and brought him to France. He rose to become one of the most powerful leaders of the French military. Napoleon didn’t like him. Which was not good for General Dumas. A sad and powerful story of the man that would leave a mythical impression on his young son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas. I highly recommend this book—but—don’t read it until AFTER you’ve read The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – fiction

Holy Smokes! This is one of the best books I have ever read. Do not leave this earth without reading this book. As a guy that struggles to put words together I was blown away by the skill of Alexandre Dumas. The book builds pressure in a way that will make you itch and fill with anxiety. The story is amazing. At times I was crying, and shaking, and angry. Just read the damn thing. It’s epic. It’s beautiful. A masterpiece.

The Survivors Club – Ben Sherwood – non

I read this book because I was wondering if it could provide any insights into my avalanche experience. It did. Thing is everyone joins the Survivors Club at some point. If you read this book you might get a few pointers that will help when life gets tough. There are some crazy stories. This women fell out of a jetliner that exploded from a bomb. She fell 30,000 feet. And lived. I’m not joking. The last part of the book was lame because you’re supposed to take an assessment on the website and then read and see what type of survivor traits you have. The website doesn’t work. Don’t even bother reading the assessment part. Other than that I liked it.

The War Of Art – Steven Pressfield – non

This is a very popular book and one of the most recommended books around. For good reason. It is a short and accessible read. Pressfield cuts through the crap and forces you to see you hang-ups and get to work. Read this book.

“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”

The Wild Truth – Carine McCandless – non

Don’t read this book until you read Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. Carine McCandless is Chris’ sister. She unloads all the family dirt that lay hidden. The story of her brother’s death had a massive impact on her. Over the years she saw people take advantage of the story and wanted to set the record straight. Lots of messed up stuff happened in her family, so she’s normal like the rest of us.  Parts of the story made me cringe.  If you liked Into The Wild you’ll probably like to read this part of the story.

In Search of Captain Zero – Alan Weisbecker – non

This is a book about surfing. Weisbecker drives his truck from California, well he starts in New York, then down south all the way to Costa Rica. He follows the coast all the while looking for his friend he hasn’t seen in 6 years. He stays camped on a beach until the surf dies down, then moves on south to the next camp site. It’s introspective and at times slow. Weisbecker put words together that were above my comprehension level. His description of surfing though, was top notch. That was his strength, describing the waves and Big Blue. This book was ok.

Bank On Yourself – Pamela Yellen – non

This book is about setting up a dividend paying whole life insurance policy to use as your own bank. This concept has been called Bank On Yourself, Income For Life, and the most popular Infinite Banking Concept. I set one of these up for myself and wanted to learn more. If you’re interested in looking for an alternative saving vehicle—give this book a read—if not, read something else.

The Authentic Swing – Steven Pressfield

This is another of Pressfield’s short but powerful books. In The Authentic Swing he tells the story of how he wrote the novel The Legend of Bagger Vance which was his first novel. He finally broke through after trying and failing for decades. I love how Pressfield explains his thoughts and techniques. His writing style is deceptively simple. It seems like he’s in the room talking to me. That’s when you know your reading good writing. Pressfield believes in putting in work, in having your butt in the chair and trying, and listening to the Muse. I always learn something from his writing. I liked this book. I recommend it even if you haven’t read The Legend of Bagger Vance or seen the movie. I hadn’t experienced either and I still enjoyed this book.

Pressfield gave this book away for free over the summer to subscribers to his emails. I recommend these emails as well, they’re always well written and you get to learn something at the same time.

These are the books I’ve read so far this year. I liked them, hopefully you will like one of them. If not, no worries!

Of course you can purchase these books. I am a ski bum at heart and often try to find the cheap way around, I get most of my books for free from the library.

A friend recently told me that you can get some books for FREE on iBooks. Mostly old books that are “Public Domain.” I just picked up some Descartes, Plato, Montaigne, Proust, and Seneca for free. Haven’t read them yet though. Bruce is happy.

Hopefully these books will bring you something extra than just time spent reading. They all had an effect on me that made me contemplate and want to share them.

If you’ve read one of these books and liked it, let me know at brucepaulson1@gmail.com. And if you have a book that made a huge impact on you let me know about it.

Today I lost a homie.

My homie and my hero.

My homie and my hero.

He was the first rescue personnel I saw after a wall of snow crashed on me. The first time I ever laid eyes on Chewy, I felt a burst of Hope. I thought I might actually survive. He was a good omen.

Two years passed from that day before I was formally introduced to Chewy. When I finally returned to the mountain I was asked if I’d like to meet the dog that rescued me.

OF COURSE!

We were introduced at the top of Chair 6 the “Cornice Express” chairlift at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

It was an overcast February day. Chewy’s owner Fredrick and I were disembarking the chairlift and walking up the short hill to the Ski Patrol shack.

Lounging in the snow outside the shack was a Golden Retriever. He was a beautiful dog. He had that classic Golden look… the shaggy brownish goldish hair, the hairy paws, and the big dark nose.

“Do you remember this guy?” Fredrick asked Chewy.

Chewy sauntered over and sniffed me. He rubbed up against my leg, then looked around for someone to play with or a ski pole to chew on.

I kneeled down and started petting the guy. “Thanks Buddy.”

It was as if Chewy recognized me but was nonchalant about our initial introduction. It was as if he said, “It was no big deal. I was just doing my job.”

It was a big deal to me.

The trauma from the avalanche was so great that I began to question some of my memories of the experience. I thought I remembered seeing a dog, but I wasn’t sure. I thought it was a Golden Retriever, but I wasn’t sure. As time distanced me from the trauma I began to think that maybe I was dreaming and I’d fabricated seeing a dog come right up to my face. Maybe I had fabricated the wash of relief that came over me from seeing the rescue dog.

Now that I was finally there petting the guy that found me, I knew wasn’t making up memories. Chewy had charged into dangerous terrain that had just avalanched and could possibly slide again. He charged in with significant risk to himself.

He found me quickly and that is why I’m here today.  I was stoked to meet him.

I loved that dog that I’d just met.

Chewy was as cool as they come. His favorite chew toy was a ski pole.

How cool is that?

He loved to be outside in the snow. He loved to ride up the chairlift.

And he loved to shred! Chewy was a better skier than me. Chewy could handle the rowdiest terrain at Kirkwood, which has an abundance of.

And everyone on the mountain loved him.

I got to know Chewy and Fredrick over the next few seasons.

It was always a privilege to me to get to spend time on the mountain with the two guys. I learned a lot from them and gained a tremendous amount of respect for the way they handle themselves in such a wild environment like Kirkwood.

Last season I asked around to see where Chewy was. I was told that he hadn’t been on the mountain for a few weeks because he had surgery for cancer.

I was stunned. Cancer is always scary.

I was informed that Chewy was ok, that he’d visited the mountain to say hello and would be back to work in a week or so.

The next time I skied at Kirkwood, I met Fredrick and Chewy at the base of Chair 10 or “The Wall”. Chair 10 goes to the top of the mountain. Every way down from Chair 10 is steep. Very steep. I figured if Chewy was good to go up The Wall, then me must be ok.

Chewy loved to ride the chairlift.

Chewy loved to ride the chairlift.

It was always special getting to ride the chairlift up with Chewy. There is a special procedure. The chairlift slows down. Chewy walks under Fredrick’s legs that are spread wide for the pooch. Everyone must be extra careful, the sharp edges of skis would hurt Chewy’s feet if there was accidental contact. That’s why he stays under Fredrick.

When the empty chair arrives Chewy hops on, lays down on all fours with his head looking forward. Fredrick took the seat left of him and I sat to the right.

It was amazing how calm Chewy was on the chairlift. He’d done it so many times, it was no big deal to him. No fear of heights. He was in his element and he loved it.

Fredrick told me how Chewy had cancer in his jaw and part of his jaw had to be removed. It took Chewy some time to recover, but he healed well and the cancer was gone. His tongue would flop out of the side where he had surgery.

I was surprised to find that Kirkwood has good health insurance for the avalanche dogs. All Chewy’s operations were covered.

When we disembarked from the Chair 10 at the top of the mountain Chewy was playful. He seemed like his old self with plenty of energy. He wasn’t allowed to chew on ski poles anymore because of the surgery, but other than that he seemed normal. He was ready to charge the mountain.

The three of us started down the top of The Wall. The top was icy and I had a hard time getting through the beginning section. Chewy dropped in effortlessly. He stopped 100 yards down the mountain, followed closely by Fredrick and waited for me.

These two can shred.

These two can shred.

It looked like a good shot with the two of them next to each other on the steep slope. I asked them to wait while I took a picture of them.

When I caught up to Chewy and Fredrick we resumed a leisurely cruise down the mountain. Chewy would zig-zag across the slope letting lose the occasional bark of joy.

Kirkwood was his playground and he loved it. I’ve never met someone that loved their job as much as Chewy. And it was his job. He was an avalanche rescue dog. It was his job to go into dangerous areas and look for avalanche victims. It was his job to be out in the weather even when the weather got nasty as it often does on that untamed mountain. It was his job, he loved it, and it did it well.

That ride was the last time I saw Chewy. He seemed healthy and strong. I thought I had many more visits with that cool character. I thought I had more time with him.

Even though I didn’t get to spend much time with Chewy he will always have a special place in my heart. I can’t describe how bad I felt after the avalanche. When I saw Chewy I got a little bit of Hope. Like if someone had reached out and grabbed my hand at the last possible moment before I fell into the abyss.

I couldn’t thank that dog enough.

I won’t be able to tell Chewy “Thank You” again because the cancer returned and flooded Chewy’s body. He held on and endured an incredible amount of pain. Now he is in a place where there is no pain.

I’m sad that Chewy is gone but I am grateful for the opportunity to have met him and spent time with such a heroic figure.

Beware the Bozo Contagion: An example of when to apply the Most Useful Philosophy.

This boat ramp is occupied.

This boat ramp is occupied.

It was an awesome summer Sunday and we were not the only ones that thought it would be a good idea to go to the lake. There was a line of vehicles pulling trailers with their boats.

There are four ramps at the place we go to launch the boat. The process is simple. You pull your vehicle up on the right side of the launch area and check the ramps. If the ramps are occupied, you wait.

“Occupied” means there is a vehicle with a boat on a trailer backing down the ramp to launch. Or there is a boat that is in the water tied to the dock. If the boat is tied to the dock it means one of two things: 1) the owner of the boat just launched the boat and is parking their vehicle, or 2) the boat owner just pulled up to the dock and tied off their boat.

If the ramp is occupied you wait. Like a public restroom, if it is in use, you wait.

Dad was in the “on-deck” slot. My yellow Labrador Carson and I were standing at the top of the boat ramps a few yards away. I would motion to Dad when a ramp became available, and point to which ramp.

I do this because the boat ramps go down at a steep angle from the “on-deck” area. The driver can’t view the bottom and see which ramp opens up.

It’s not a complicated process.

The problem with boating is that most people don’t know how to do it properly and safely. At least 9 out of 10 people with a boat don’t know how to use it.  And most people can’t control their emotions.

If you take a beautiful summer Sunday, lots of people wanting to go to the lake with their boats, and lots of people who can’t control their emotions, you have the perfect recipe for… Bozos.

As I was watching the ramps for the first availability, several trucks with boat trailers pulled up behind my Dad.

They started honking their car horns at my Dad telling him to GO! They were yelling from their cars. Dad was getting frustrated.

These people were Bozos.

He looked at me and yelled, “What’s going on? Can I go??”

“No”, I replied.

All the ramps were occupied. I would have told my Dad if one was open. It’s not a complicated process.

The guy who was two positions behind my Dad in line, we’ll call him Bozo #3, decided that he couldn’t wait any longer. He had not been in line 5 minutes. He pulled out of the line, pulled in front of my Dad and started to line up his truck and trailer to back down one of the occupied ramps.

I could see Dad getting angry.

The guy waiting behind Dad got out of his car, walked up to the offending line skipper and said, “Hey! There’s a line here.”

Bozo #3 started mumbling something. He was embarrassed that he got called out. He pulled his vehicle back in line.

Then a truck pulls out of one of the middle ramps with its trailer empty. The boat was in the water tied off to the dock.

I told you most people who go boating don’t know what they’re doing, right?

Well they don’t become Bozos magically when they are in the water on a boat. They are that way in all interactions with a boat. They don’t know how to launch a boat, drive a boat, and they don’t know how to put a boat on a trailer and pull it out of the water properly and safely.

The guy who just got out and scolded Bozo #3 for skipping the line, who was waiting behind Dad, pulled out in front of Dad. This Bozo, we’ll call him Bozo #2, started backing down the middle ramp that the truck with the empty trailer had just come from.

Dad got angry and started yelling at the guy. “Hey! I’m waiting in line here buddy!!”

Bozo #2 did not care and started backing down the ramp anyway.

There are several reasons you don’t back down a ramp with the boat in the water tied to the dock. First, it’s a dick move. You’re crowding the other person. You could potentially hit the boat tied to the dock if you back down too far.

Second, it could take the person a long time to get back from their car and by that time another ramp will have opened up. If you’re a Bozo and started backing down an occupied slot, then you will miss the chance to get the open ramp to the next person in the “on-deck” slot.

And you will look like a Bozo.

Lastly, boats break down all the time. That’s the nature of having a boat.

People will launch their boat, tie it to the dock, park the car, come back and try to start the boat. The boat will be a boat and something will have broken or whatever, the boat won’t start. This is not unusual. Then the boat has to be pulled out of the water.

If a Bozo has backed down an occupied ramp, they have to pull their rig back out if the boat their encroaching on won’t start.

Dad was amazed at the foolishness of the scene. He started looking at me as if I could explain the Bozo #2’s actions.

Bozo #3 saw the bold move of Bozo #2 and couldn’t control himself. He pulled in front of my Dad a second time and immediately started backing down a ramp with a boat tied to the dock.

I’m guessing that Bozo #2 and Bozo #3 thought my Dad and I were Bozo’s because we were just sitting there waiting for a ramp to get open instead of charging down the first ramp we could see.

A Bozo never knows he’s a Bozo.

Dad lost it. He yelled at me in desperation “Can I GO?!?”

It was easy to see what was happening. Dad lost his self-control. He let other people’s actions dictate his. He was getting angry because everyone at the boat ramp was acting like Bozo’s.

I see this happen to people of all walks of life. This used to happen to me all the time. Then I got crushed and put in the hospital and cried a lot. Then I learned and got better. But I still fall in this trap occasionally.

When you find yourself in a situation where other people’s bad behavior makes you angry, remember the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine.”

This is the most useful, practical application of philosophy you will find.

If the people around you are Bozo’s and acting shitty, so what? If someone cuts you off on your commute to work, so what? If you have co-workers that make your life miserable, stop and think.

You don’t have to act like them.

You have a choice. You are the one in control of how you think, feel, and act. Don’t give that control away so easily.

Get away from them, or ignore them. Do not let other people’s bad behavior influence yours.

Breathe. Then take another deep Breath. The world is full of Bozos and uncomfortable situations. It’s ok. Don’t let it get to you.

One of the boat ramps finally opened up and I directed my father to it.

We got our boat in the water before Bozo #3. He was still waiting on the ramp for the boat that was tied to the dock to pull away so he could put his boat in.

Write That Down!

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Writing is an exercise, it is a muscle, it is a discipline.

If you can learn to write, if you can teach yourself the discipline it takes to sit down and stare at the blank page and THINK, then you can do anything.

You should start writing because it’s hard.

Most of the best things in life are hard to obtain. Writing is this way, it is hard to do, but if you do it, it makes you feel better. You will have accomplished something, even if it’s just the discipline of putting your butt in the seat, your hands on the keyboard and forcing yourself to think.

Always be suspicious of people who give advice on things they have not done.

I’m telling you to write because I learned I need to write. It is hard for me to write. I can come up with all the excuses in the world not to.

I was forced to write.

My sister made me do it.

I was crushed by an avalanche. I was in the hospital, hooked up to life support. I had broken every bone in my face. They cut a hole in my throat and inserted a tube to support my airway. Because of the trach and the fact that my jaw was wired shut, I could not talk. I could only communicate by writing with a Sharpie and a piece of paper on a clip board.

My Mom and my sister lived in the hospital during that time. My sister stayed in my hospital room, while Mom would sleep in a hotel room in a different part of the hospital. My sister would go to the hospital room occasionally to get away from me and rest for an hour or so.

My sister is a nurse practitioner. She knows her stuff. She looked out for my care while I was in the hospital. She would send updates to friends and family through the Caringbridge website she set up for me. This way she could update everyone without having to answer the many phone calls and text messages.

She got tired of writing the updates, she was already doing so many other things to related to my healthcare. She wanted me to write the updates.

At first I refused (I always have an excuse not to write), then because I appreciated everything my sister was doing for me, I decided I write a post on my Caringbridge webpage.

One of the first posts I did was at 2 am. I couldn’t sleep because of all the pain, I had no energy and wanted nothing more than sleep. So I started typing. I was crying the whole time but it felt good to do. That post might be the best thing I’ve ever written.

That first post came from a deep dark place. It was pure emotion. The act of writing made me feel better.

I started this blog to keep up the practice of writing.

When I tell you, “You should write”, I mean it. I am talking from experience.

People will always be drawn to good shit. It’s an innate part of humans. We like the good stuff.

Everyone knows a lot about something. Everyone is passionate about something. Everyone goes through hard times.

This is what you should start writing about. Write about what you know, write about what drives you, write about your hard times.

I’ve encouraged many people to write. Because I was insecure and didn’t feel like an authority figure I’d tell people to write even if they never share it with anyone.

Now I think I was wrong.

I think you should share your stories, even if they are traumatic and personal. If you want, you can write them under a fake name or anonymously, just get them out there. The internet is a beautiful thing.

Everyone can have a blog, everyone can put their work out there.

The expert knowledge that you have, the passion about a subject, the adversity you’ve faced, these stories can help other people out there in the vast world. But only if you do the work, then put it out there, the people that need to find it will.

Here are 6 examples of people that I’ve recommended to “Write That Down!

I have a friend who is an executive at a major oil company. She grew up in the oil business. She has been all over the world working in the oil business. She is a smart and articulate woman I have a lot of respect for. She has always been there for me, including after the avalanche when I needed a lot of help.

She almost died. She had a major health scare that put her in the hospital shortly after her third failed marriage. She wasn’t feeling so good. I encouraged her to start writing.

This woman has repeatedly overcome adversity in her life. She has a lot of powerful stories that can help people. If she started a blog about her knowledge, passions, and emotions during adversity, it would attract a lot of people. She could positively impact a lot of people, especially women.

I want to read her stories.

I have a friend who was a successful CEO of a mid-sized company. He is a smart, polished dude, and one of the strongest athletes I’ve ever met. He got fired by the board of the company he ran. It was a shock.

He was thrown into adversity.

He’s a talented guy and I knew he would come through the ordeal stronger than he was before. I encouraged him to start writing. I knew it would make him feel better, and I knew he’d have some powerful stories to share. There are lessons to be learned from this man.

The world needs to hear what he has to say.

One of my friends is a talented chef in wine country. He’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met. I hadn’t seen him for two years when I went to visit him in the hospital. His head was shaved, he had a large horseshoe shaped scar on his head, and his speech was slow. He had just had brain surgery for a cancer tumor.

He was surprised to see me. I was there for support, just to say hello. I wanted to listen, if he wanted to talk. After I listened for a while, I encouraged him to write about what he was going through. I told him how much writing on the Caringbridge website made me feel better.

I knew his stories could help a lot of people.

One of my best friends is a nurse. He has worked the night shift in ICU’s all across the country. He was a wrestler in high school and ever since then he has been interested in health and fitness. I view him as an authority figure on these topics.

If I ever have a health problem, I run it by him. If I ever have questions about fitness, I want to know my buddy’s opinion. I encouraged him to write a blog about what he knows. He’s the man, and he could help a lot of people, including himself, if he got his body of knowledge out there.

What did he tell me when I encouraged him to write?

He told me about all the ways he’s not an authority figure on these topics. Here was the man I know, knows more about this stuff than anyone else, telling me he doesn’t know his stuff.

I get it. I have my excuses too. Silly humans.

My other friend sells life insurance. He knows more about the benefits of life insurance than anyone else I know.

He realized that people getting close to retirement age have no idea how to best handle their retirement benefits. He created a seminar to teach people simple steps they could do to boost their retirement income. He was disappointed that he couldn’t reach more people with his seminar.

I encouraged him to start a blog. Once a week he should write a blog post about the good stuff he knows. The people who are looking for good honest information will find him. Then he told me how he always reads this one guy’s blog because he knows more about life insurance than anyone else and he learns a lot from that guy.

I said “See? Do that.” My buddy agreed it was a good idea.

But he never started writing a blog.

My Dad!

My Dad knows all about fixing computers, fixing printers, fixing crap around the house, RC planes, and fixing Chryslers.

I hate Chryslers because I grew up with my Dad and we were always fixing his broke down Chryslers.

But who cares?

Turns out there is a large sub-culture of people who love Chryslers for the same reason my Dad does, because they break down and then they get to fix them. My Dad would be an authority figure on this subject if he wrote about it. People would seek out his advice.

If Dad wrote about networking computers, fixing printers (PC load letter!), and building RC planes people would seek him out because he could help them solve their problems with these subjects.

I told Dad about this and he did his Dad thing, he just smiled and chuckled. Which is his way of saying there’s no way he’s going to consider what you just suggested. He probably doesn’t think he’s an authority figure on these topics.

I get it.

Writing is hard. You have to battle what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance.” You have to battle the blank page, you have to battle yourself. You have to overcome fear of not being an authority on the subject you’re writing about.

It is a worthy endeavor. You will learn. You will help others.

You will become a source of light in the subject that you feel you are not an authority figure in. Everyone needs a good source of light to illuminate the path.

I don’t think anyone I’ve suggested to start writing has actually started writing. This is understandable. No one asked for my advice, but I gave it anyway.

That’s a No-No, never give advice if it isn’t asked for.