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 College is obsolete.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!

images.duckduckgo.com

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.

The Secret Power of Superman?

superman

I never see Superman drink any boos. I never see Superman eat any food. He’s usually just flying around saving the world. No time for merry making for Superman.

That might be where he gets his power, from not eating all the time. He’s probably so busy fighting bad guys that he skips eating for a day or so. And because of this, the dude is super healthy… he’s Superman.

The human body dedicates a lot of energy to digesting food.

We eat food all the time, everyday.

Hell, I’m always eating. I eat food to pass the time. I eat food just because I’m bored. I’ll look in the fridge because that’s the most exciting thing to do.

The body isn’t designed to eat this much food.

When we were chasing and running from animals in the great and wild plains of prehistory, we weren’t always successful in obtaining food. Humans survived because they were able to sustain through periods of no-eating.

When the body doesn’t eat food and doesn’t have to devote those energy units towards digesting foodstuffs, the body directs that energy to cleaning out the system. The body starts hunting down trespassers, like plaque that is choking your arteries, and destroys it.

When the body isn’t digesting, it focuses its energy on “cleaning the house.”

Get Fast Healthy.

When I discovered fasting I was blown away.

Intentionally not eat food? What kind of crazy thinking is that? But I’d been blown up by an avalanche, my body was devastated from the trauma and resulting surgeries. My ego (or is it the Id?) was crushed, which was great because that meant that my mind was open to suggestion. I was willing to listen to new ideas. I was willing to learn.

That’s when I found out about non-religious fasting.

I wanted my body to heal itself, to hunt down all the bad shit, the drugs and radiation from x-rays, etc., that had built up in my system.

It cost nothing to try it. Water was free. I even saved a little money because I wasn’t eating.

I began fasting one day a week. Usually on Mondays because Monday’s were already a mehh sort of day and it was at the beginning of the week so I could get it out of the way, then have a nice week.

I did this most weeks for about a year. At the end of the year I fasted about ¾ of the Mondays.

Becoming My Own Bank

In 2014 I decided to set up my first Infinite Banking Concept account. This is where you use a dividend paying whole life insurance policy from a mutual life insurance company, to build up a pile of money that you can access at any time.

Before I was sold the policy I had to get a physical for the life insurance company. They needed to determine my state of health to see how much money they’d need to charge me.

They sent a nurse to my apartment to take some urine and blood samples. But a 6.0 earthquake hit Napa during the night before the nurse was supposed to come over. It was my first earthquake and it scared the shit out of me. I was in no mood to be poked with needles so I called to reschedule.

A week later the nurse showed up and took the samples. No big deal. I’d hear from the insurance company in a few weeks.

My buddy that was selling me the insurance called a few weeks later.

“I can’t believe it. They gave you Ultra-Preferred. This is the best bracket they have. They know all about the injuries and surgeries from the avalanche and they still gave it to you. I sell their products and they won’t even give me Ultra-Preferred.”

My buddy calls this “The Superman Policy”. Because I’m qualified for “Ultra-Preferred”, I get to pay a little less for the policy and I get a little more in dividends.

It is important to note: the insurance company gave this to me after I had broken every bone in my face, broke a rib that punctured and collapsed my lung, had a trach inserted into my throat, severed my ACL, had 11 anchors holding my shoulder together, and I probably drink too much.

Give It A Shot

I’m convinced the reason I did so well on the exam is because of the periodic fasting. I could be wrong or maybe that is just part of the reason.

It seems to me that the body has an incredible ability to heal itself, if given the opportunity.
It’s like we have this great toolkit inside each of us that can fix ourselves, that we didn’t know existed.

If you are experiencing any kind of illness, give fasting a try. See what potential lays dormant inside of you.

Remember: I’m not a medical professional, so it’d be good to consult one first.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities that have limited to no downside and some or potentially large upside. No one has ever died eating 6 out of 7 days in a week. It costs nothing to try, all you need is several glasses of water. Fasting can provide benefits that no drugs can match. No one is allergic to fasting.

And if nothing good happens, at least nothing bad will either.

If You Like Chocolate Chip Cookies, Don’t Mess with Texas

Texas does not like chocolate chip cookies.

Texas does not like chocolate chip cookies.

It seems every few years I move from the East Coast to the West Coast or vice versa. I have made this journey several times. I know the highways well enough.

The southernmost interstate that traverses the country, Interstate 10, passes close to the border of Mexico in west Texas near El Paso. Due to the American government’s war on some drugs, the third world country of Mexico has become a savage land that services the American people’s demand for illegal drugs. Because the drugs are illegal they are highly profitable since no taxes are paid on them. Where there are illegal drugs there are violent criminal organizations that trade drugs for money.

This violence and these drugs first make their way into the States near the Mexican American border. Interstate 10 is a major thoroughfare for this activity. As a result, the US government takes extraordinary measures on policing this highway.

One of these measures is a Border Patrol inspection checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, located on the border of nowhere and nowhere in west Texas. I would say the checkpoint is located in the town of Sierra Blanca, Texas except the only thing in Sierra Blanca is a Border Patrol inspection station.

The extraordinary thing about this checkpoint is that Interstate 10 goes through it. This is a permanent checkpoint that chokes Interstate 10. Every car and truck, commercial or private, has to stop at this checkpoint in the desolate middle-of-nowhere west Texas. This is the only place I’ve ever seen in the U.S. that shuts down an entire interstate.

Usually checkpoints for D.U.I.’s or drugs or whatever, are temporary chokepoints on smaller highways. There is too much traffic on Interstates to bring all the traffic to a halt. This is why the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 10 at Sierra Blanca is so unusual.
I’d been through this inspection checkpoint 10 years earlier. I vaguely remembered that it existed and its location. I was not surprised to see it when I was driving through the middle-of-nowhere, then had to come to a full and complete stop at a check point.

HELD UP AT GUNPOINT

As I come out of the darkness of the Texas summer night into the bright lights of the inspection station, I brought my car to a complete stop before a white line and a large red STOP sign. A serious looking man greeted me, he was not smiling. He was outfitted in a forest green Border Patrol uniform. He looked like a soldier. He was wearing black military style boots laced half way to his knee and he carried some type of automatic rifle slung low across his chest. His torso was padded, he was wearing a bulletproof vest under his uniform, across his chest in white letters were the words BORDER PATROL.

I had the window of my car rolled down.

“Good evening officer.”, I said.

“Are you a U.S. citizen?” the officer said in an aggressive tone.

I didn’t expect such a question. It didn’t make much sense to me, plus I’d been driving through the desert for the last 6 hours, so I paused a second before answering.
U.S. citizen? What else would I be I thought.

“Uh, yes” I replied.

As the Border Patrol officer questioned me, I watched through my rearview mirror as another officer with a German Sheppard walked around the back of my car.

“Ok, pull over for inspection” the officer said.

He directed me to park between the office building and a series of orange cones. I was the only car I saw that was asked to pull over. The other vehicles seemed to stop briefly, then proceed down the interstate.

As I parked my car another Border Patrol officer said, “Turn off your vehicle and get out of the car.”

“Do I need my license and registration?”

“No, step away from the vehicle.”

I got out of my car. I was wearing a t-shirt, a thin pair of shorts made out of a breathable fabric, short socks and athletic shoes. I had nothing in my pockets.

The officer told me to stand in a spot that was 10 yards in front of my vehicle. An officer stood and watched me and made sure I didn’t cross an arbitrary white line on the pavement. I thought, “This will be interesting”, but I wasn’t worried. I looked back as two Border Patrol agents opened the back gate of my car and started rummaging through my belongings. Another agent had a German Sheppard on a leash. The German Sheppard had climbed in to the front passenger seat.

I wasn’t thrilled at having dog hairs all over the seats of my car. There wasn’t much I could do but watch.

I’ve learned how to deal with Border Patrol agents, cops, and highway patrol. You need to be cordial, respectful, and then talk about the most boring shit ever. I started asking what the elevation was in Sierra Blanca.

“What is the elevation here? Is it higher than El Paso? I just drove over some small mountains.”, I asked.

“No, it’s lower” replied the Border Patrol guy.

It’s always a good idea to talk about the weather, they can’t stand that stuff.

“I heard there was flooding in Texas. Will I have to worry about that on I-10?”

“No, that was over 3 weeks ago.”

The idea is to talk about tourist stuff so that the Border Patrol, cop, or highway patrolman will want to get away from you as soon as possible. It’s like bug repellant for those types.

It didn’t work on this occasion.

The officer with the German Sheppard had found something in the cooler full of fruit, energy bars, and a 3-liter bladder of water that I kept in the front passenger seat on the long cross country trip. He found my half full gallon zip-lock bag of made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies.

He comes charging up to the officer that was watching me, with the leash to the German Sheppard in one hand and holding my bag of cookies up in the air with his other. He had a smirk on his face that seemed to say, “I got you sucka.”

When I saw this I was not stoked.

He walks up to me holding my bag of cookies up high and says “You smoke bro?!”

I stare at the cookies and reply “No”.

“I said You smoke bro?!?!” he yelled with more force than the first time.

Again, I look at my beloved cookies. What the fuck is this guy saying? What am I gonna do? Stick chocolate chip cookies in a pipe and try to smoke them? Or is he asking if I smoke cigarettes?

“No!” I reply, enunciating properly so he could understand me.

The accusing officer looks at the bag of handmade chocolate chip cookies for a second and realizes he may have made an error in his line of questioning.

“These cookies are laced with THC!!!” he accuses.

I thought “laced” was a terrible word. Laced? What the fuck? “Laced” sounds like something that is done with crack or meth. Or maybe something industrial food producers put into fast food and junk food. Laced?

This is all fantasy land speculation, this is completely hypothetical–but if those cookies had THC in them, they most certainly were not laced. If those cookies hypothetically contained THC, then maybe they were made with the best THC oil to be found.

Remember what Papa John likes to say, “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza”? Same is true for chocolate chip cookies. T hose cookies hypothetically could have started with the highest quality strain of high altitude hand crafted cannabis to be found on the West Coast.

Then maybe said cannabis was used to make potent ganja butter by the hands of a master chef. Then most assuredly the chef used flour, sugar, butter, and chocolate chips, just the basic ingredients, no preservative garbage, to bake some wonderfully delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Then, hypothetically, I tested the cookies while out playing a game of disc golf and decided the cookies were too strong because after playing two holes I went over to a park bench, sat down drooling on myself, and stared at the clouds for an hour.

I may have told the master chef that the cookies were too strong, that I needed something less potent because I was driving across the country and couldn’t afford to pull over for a couple of hours at a rest stop while my cookies wore off.

The recipe, using the same high quality ingredients, could’ve been altered a few times until they were as Goldilocks would have liked them–just right.

Those handmade chocolate chip cookies were definitely not laced with THC.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about” I said.

“Has anyone been in this car besides you?”

“No one has been in the car. I’m driving by myself across the country and those are my cookies.”

The officer that was making sure I didn’t cross the arbitrary white line on the pavement completely changes his demeanor and becomes mean. He grabs my hands and puts them behind my back.

I realized I was getting arrested.

ROUGHED UP

“This sucks”, I thought. I’m in the middle of bum fuck nowhere west Texas getting arrested at a Border Patrol station.

The officer takes me in to a long white hall in the station and makes me face the wall. He starts asking me my personal information like name and date of birth, that type of stuff. I answer respectfully but I don’t volunteer any info.

Next he tells me to put my hands on the wall, and raise them as high as I can. When I say “tell”, I mean it was like a low volume yell. It was a command.

I put my hands on the wall but I didn’t understand the “raise your hands as high as you can part” so he repeats the command “raise your hands as high as you can!”

“Huh?” I say as I raise my hands up the wall a bit more. Now my face is right against the wall with my toes a few inches away from the wall. My arms are raised up so high my armpits are almost touching the wall.

The whole time I’m facing the wall he was his hand pushed firmly in the middle of my back. I guess this gives him more leverage in case I start resisting.

“Do you have any knives, needles, or weapons on you?” he commands.

“What? No.”

I had left Phoenix, Arizona that morning where it was 110 degrees. It was the middle of June and I was driving through west Texas. I was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of thin breathable athletic shorts, a pair of tightie whitties, below-the-ankle tennis socks and running shoes.

If I had my keys or my wallet in my shorts you would have been able to tell just by looking that something was in my pockets. When I got out of the car they told me to leave all that stuff. I thought it was obvious I didn’t have anything, besides where could I have put it?

Since his one hand is firmly pressed against my back, he takes his free hand and starts aggressively searching me.

Then he takes his hand from my back and puts one hand on each side of my leg. If you’ve ever skipped the x-ray machine at the airport and had the TSA do the manual search, this is similar.

The difference is the amount of force. The officer raises his hands with way too much force and the impact of his hands and my undercarriage, or “nads”, was too much. I coughed, my nads aren’t used to blunt force trauma. Then the officer moves to the next leg and repeats the procedure. I cough again at the uncomfortable assault.

The feelups the TSA give you at the airport are quite pleasurable compared to how the Border Patrol does it.

The officer stands back up and immediately puts his hand in my back again and with his right boot he steps on and crushes the heel of my right shoe.

“Take your shoe off.” the officer commands.

With my hands high against the wall, my face an inch from the wall, and his hand pushing me against the wall, I had no idea how I was supposed to lean down and take my shoe off. I didn’t want to struggle with the guy. I thought it was in my best interests to be cooperative, but everything was happening so fast, and I was confused as to how I was supposed to take my shoe off without being allowed to bend over to do so.

I made the mistake of saying “Huh?” again.

“Take off your shoe!” he yelled.

“Look, I’m trying to cooperate here. I don’t want to cause trouble, but how am I supposed to take my shoe off if you won’t let me bend over to do so?”

The officer responded by crushing the right heel of my shoe even more.

“Slide your foot out of your shoe!”

I was happy to do so because it did not feel good with his boot crushing my heel. I slid my foot out of my shoe.

With his left hand still firmly planted in my back, the officer reached down and picked my shoe up and examined it. I guess he was looking for drugs, weapons, or human trafficking.

After a careful examination he did not find anything except the unique smell that I insert into all my athletic shoes.

After examining my shoe he dropped on the floor and commanded, “Lift up you foot.”

I lifted my right foot off the ground maybe an inch or so. I thought it was some sort of test like they give to people suspected of driving while intoxicated.

He was pissed. I didn’t do what he wanted. “Give me your foot!” he yelled.

I was confused again.

I didn’t know how this process was supposed to work so instead of saying “Huh?” I just stuttered a few times. He realized that I didn’t know what he wanted so he reached down and pulled my right foot up, with the bottom of my foot facing the ceiling. The position is the same if you are trying to stretch your hamstrings while standing on one foot.

With his left hand firmly planted in my back, me standing on my left foot with my hands up on the wall, he takes his right thumb, while holding my right foot, and runs his thumb up and down my sock.

Again, I guess he was looking for drugs, weapons, or humans that I might be smuggling into the country. Again, he found nothing.

The officer dropped my right shoe then crushed my left heel.

“Take off your shoe!”

This time I knew what to do and promptly obeyed.

Next he commanded, “Put your ankles against the wall.”

Now I was really confused. How do you put your ankles against the wall? I can put my big toes to the wall, but I can’t put my ankles to the wall.

Again, I reiterated that I wanted to cooperate, I wasn’t resisting, but I had no idea how I was supposed to comply with his command.

The officer became somewhat reasonable. He could see that I wasn’t resisting and I’m as harmless as I look.

With his hand firmly planted in my back he calmly explained the procedure. I was supposed to twist my leg 90 degrees so that the inside ball of my ankle was touching the wall. Then I was supposed to repeat the maneuver with my left leg, so that the heels of my feet are facing each other about shoulder width apart. The right leg was easy enough. The leg left was more difficult. I severed my ACL 3 years earlier and had surgery to repair it. Even though I’ve done a massive amount of physical therapy it doesn’t work or flex like a normal knee.

I didn’t bother explaining this history to the Border Patrol guy. As I was trying to set my left leg the same as I had my right, I began to wonder how I was going to do this without falling over. My hands were so high on the wall that my armpits were almost touching the wall. I had my head turned to one side so my nose wouldn’t be crushed against the wall. With my legs in the position I’ve already described it was almost impossible for me to keep my balance.

It was as if the officer could read my mind.

“Don’t worry, I got you. I won’t let you fall.” he said as he applied more pressure to his hand that was in my back.

Oh thanks, I thought as I maneuvered my left leg into the position he desired. It was one of the most awkward positions I’d ever been in. If the officer wasn’t holding me up I’d have fallen over.

You are completely defenseless in this position. I guess that was the point. I was put in that weird position to see if I would be cooperative and to display the officer’s dominance. He didn’t do anything else while I was in that position, he didn’t pat me down, he just had me stand there for a while.

When he was satisfied he let me off the wall to stand like a normal human being.

THE INTERROGATION

Next we walked into the large office area adjoining the wall. There were several Border Patrol agents in their green military outfits typing at computers and joking with one another. On one wall was a long bench that ran the length of the room. There was a Hispanic mother and her young child sitting on one side of the bench while a Border Patrol officer sat typing at a computer in the desk facing them.

I noticed that every 2 or 3 feet on the bench there was a set of handcuffs attached to a chain. As the officer walked me to his desk he told me to sit on the part of the bench right in front of his computer terminal that was facing me.

I was a relieved when I realized he was not going to hand cuff me to the bench.

The officer informed that I was being arrested and slid a piece of paper across his desk. There were 3 boxes at the top of the page. I had to check 2.

The first box was informing me of my rights. Instead of verbally reading me my rights, they were written down. I had to check the box indicating that I had read them.

The officer explained the next 2 boxes.

The first one indicated that I would cooperate with the government and they could ask me questions about the cookies. If I cooperated I might be able to get a better treatment.

The second box indicated that I chose the right to remain silent and requested a lawyer. If I did this then the officer couldn’t speak to me about the allegations and couldn’t “help me out.”

I was getting arrested in a Border Patrol checkpoint in west Texas. It was the middle of nowhere. I figured I would sit in jail for a few days before I was able to talk to a lawyer.

I was not happy about the situation I was in.

I told the officer, “I dunno. What do you think? It kinda sounds like I need a lawyer.”

I was trying to play as dumb as possible while also being polite to the guy.

“If you ask for a lawyer then I can’t talk to you and I can’t help you out” said the officer.

I politely checked box number 2.

**Helpful Hint**

In case you don’t know… NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE. This also applies to any other branch of government that can arrest you. Remember, “Anything you say, can and will be used against you.” What they don’t say is nothing you say can be used in your defense.

Do yourself a favor and don’t say anything.

Please watch this video. It explains in detail why you don’t say anything when you are getting arrested.

****

“Ok, he lawyer’d up” the officer announced to the other Border Patrol officers milling about the large open office. They didn’t seem interested enough to look up from whatever they were working on.

The officer takes my license out of my wallet and places it on the desk next to his keyboard. Then he starts asking me the question of name, date of birth, place of birth, social security number, height, weight, occupation, those type of questions.

I politely answer but don’t volunteer any extra information than asked.

“Have you ever been arrested before? Remember, don’t lie to me.”

This is a tricky question for me to answer. Being a young, rebellious, and a fan of alcohol, I made a few mistakes as a kid. Most of those mistakes got taken care of by lawyers and were expunged from my record. The one that stayed on my record was a DUI I got as a teenager.

I figured that’s all they needed to know about.

“I got a DUI as a teenager” I said.

“You’re lying! I told you, don’t lie to me!” the officer fired back.

This is another reason why you don’t talk to the police, they hate it when you lie to them. And they ask you questions in a way that is meant to confuse you and trip you up so that they can yell “Don’t lie to me!”

I stumbled. “Well, I got arrested this one other time but I it was expunged from my record”
“Where?” the officer asked as he peered at the information on his computer screen.

“Stillwater, Montana”

What I didn’t realize is I was dealing with the government. The government collects everyone’s data on everything.

You’ve heard of the NSA? They know that you’re reading this website, they know you buy food at McDonalds, and that you watch a lot of Katy Perry videos on YouTube. The government also knows how many times you’ve been arrested, and whether those instances were expunged or not.

I realized I needed to shut up because I was only going to get myself in more trouble. I realized that they didn’t ask me about another scrape or two I’d had. I wasn’t going to volunteer the information and I knew if they asked I would just lie to them.

The questioning ended and the officer was content to let me sit there and worry while he punched at his keyboard.

After a while the officer said, “Were checking your information against the databases in the FBI, the Dept. of Homeland Securtiy, and the DEA. If you’re lying to me you’re gonna make it worse.”

“Holy shit” I thought. I hadn’t done anything and these guys think I’m some international criminal. I kept my mouth shut.

The longer I sat there the more worried I became. I was in the clutches of the government and the government can do whatever they want to do. There is no rule of law. There is only the will of the physically stronger.

It did not matter that I was not hurting anyone or breaking any laws. It didn’t matter that I was minding my own business. It did not matter that I paid my taxes.

The only thing that mattered was reality. The reality was my future resided in the whims of the Border Patrol.

I realized the situation could spiral out of control.

I remembered hearing a story about a guy who got arrested with some cocaine. The guy didn’t have that much cocaine, but he concealed it inside a plastic box with a bunch of other stuff in the box to try to hide the cocaine. Instead of taking the cocaine out of the container and weighing it by itself, the police weighed the container and all the contents with the cocaine. This weight was of a much greater weight than the cocaine itself.

The suspect then got charged with possessing the weight of the entire object as if it was all cocaine. This made it seem like the suspect had way more cocaine than he actually did and the penalty for this greater weight was much more severe.

I had a large bag of chocolate chip cookies that allegedly was infused with THC. If they wanted to, they could weigh the bag and the cookies and consider it all THC and come up with a large weight that made it seem like I possessed an enormous amount of the illegal plant substance.

They could also charge me with DUI, intent to distribute, resisting arrest. Hell, they could charge me with whatever they wanted to.

I tried not to dwell on all the terrible possibilities.

As bummed as I was, I was kind of happy about how I was handling the situation. I was responsible for the situation I was in and I’d take it like a Stoic, I would face whatever came my way. I tried to use my Dale Carnegie powers of persuasion, I was polite to the mean guys with assault rifles. I tried not to laugh when they talked about my bag of chocolate chip cookies as if they were a dangerous substance.

Several times over the course of the holdup the officers had to call in the situation, either by hand-held radio or by phone to some superior officer. It was funny to hear their explanations. On the phone they would say, “Yeah, we got a Mr. Paulson here with a bag of THC cookies.”

They would always have to repeat that part, then say “No, cookies. Marijuana cookies. They have THC in them.”

This explanation would usually be followed up with, “No, they’re for personal use.”

That was good to hear. I didn’t think they would try to get me on an “intent to distribute” charge. I didn’t look like a Girl Scout selling Thin Mints.

It took awhile for the background checks to come back from the various government agencies. During this time Border Patrol agents would come up to me from time to time and hand me possessions from my car. They gave me my phone and wallet. Then someone brought my emergency cash I keep in the center console of my car.

I became depressed sitting on the bench thinking how miserable it would be to rot in a jail in west Texas. I let out a deep sigh of resignation.

The officer sitting at the desk in front of me did not like this.

“I’m tired of hearing you moaning and moping around. Be quite. As long as you’ve told us the truth and nothing comes back on the background checks, you’ll be free to go. But if you’re lying to us or if you have a warrant out for your arrest, you’ll be going to jail for a long time.”

I sat straight and perked up. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. What? They might let me off? I hoped nothing came back on that background check.

I didn’t mention that the state of California had just suspended my license for letting my insurance lapse. The California DMV had screwed up the paperwork. I moved out of Cali and was a resident of Nevada with legal license, registration, and insurance. California didn’t get the memo, thought I wasn’t paying my taxes and suspended my license. I was tired of dealing with the bozos and gave up trying to correct them. I was hoping that didn’t come back to haunt me.

I sat on the bench and did not say a word.

Time started to slow down as I waited for the background checks. At last the officer informed me that there were no outstanding warrants for my arrest and I was on good standing with the Dept. of Homeland Security, DEA, and the FBI.

“You got lucky. If you had been here this time last week you’d be getting arrested. But, we’re gonna let you go” the officer informed me.

Holy smokes. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea what he meant by “If you had been here this time last week you’d be getting arrested.” I didn’t dare ask what had transpired in 7 days that would change my status from criminal to non-criminal.

I was stunned that I was going to walk out of that place. And I was proud of how I handled the robbery.

When I was younger, it was known amongst my friends when we went “out on the town”, if we ever were to encounter the cops, that I was never allowed to speak to them. I was always sent to the back of the group and those in our group with better social graces would converse with the police. For some reason, when I would talk to the police, it always ended up badly, usually with handcuffs.

If I had this encounter with the Border Patrol 10 years earlier, I would have gone to jail, guaranteed. Since then life has crushed me. I was forced to admit how weak I was. I was forced to learn. I learned much about psychology and the inherent weakness of human thought. I learned how to consider the other person’s perspective from Dale Carnegie.

The Border Patrol officers had no idea what was going on. They had no idea that they were the criminals. I was traveling along peacefully causing no harm and interfering with no one, and they stopped me at gunpoint. They stole my property. They harassed me.

The Border Patrol agents didn’t know they were engaged in criminal activity. They didn’t know that they worked for a vast criminal organization called the government. They thought they were they good guys.

They probably had a good laugh after work that night while enjoying my chocolate chip cookies.

There was a warm breeze that night as I walked out of the Border Patrol station to my car. I was relieved to be set free and I was also tired. The interrogation took about 2 hours and it was late when I got back on the road.

I drove for an hour more, then pulled over to a rest stop and slept in the back of my car. I woke up the next morning to a vast dusty view of west Texas stretching out as far as the eye could see. As I pulled onto the highway, with 14 hours of Texas driving ahead of me, I thought, “Damn, it’d be nice if I had a cookie.”