Book - Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I'm currently ready Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Its a classic and one that I had never read before, so I figured I'd tackle it. It is a whale of a book (pun intended) and is super long. Its definitely interesting but is so long and gets so dry at times. The author spends whole chapters on minute and seemingly irrelevant details, such as how to coil a specific type of rope in a ship. He spends numerous chapters discussing various types of whales and their characteristics. At times, it feels like you are reading a Wikipedia page (I first wrote encyclopedia instead of Wikipedia here, and realized that encyclopedia is quickly becoming outdated and may not even be a common term in 10 years). 

What fascinates me more than anything, is the authors knowledge on whales, history, literature, and humanity. Not only did computers not exist when he wrote the book, but libraries practically didn't exist either (there were some, but certainly not the way libraries are today). I find this to be the case with many classic novels. It becomes more about respect for the work than actual appreciation and enjoyment of reading. 

With that said, still an interesting story and certainly glad to have it checked off the list. 

Interesting Podcast

I just listened to this podcast and really enjoyed it, so I figured I'd share on here.


Amidst the constant noise and chaos and irrational anger of political conversation, this was refreshing to hear. I stay away from politics and tend to dislike both sides of the insanity, but I do enjoy when people just discuss things calmly and are willing to listen and learn and agree/disagree. 

Book - Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

I'm currently reading Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto)

It's a really interesting take on the importance of chaos and unpredictability. It applies Nassim's theories to all kinds of areas, including economics, biology, politics, technology, culture, and many others. He argues that being antifragile (to a degree) is the key to prolonged success and longevity because unpredictable events and chaos are inevitable. 

Excellent read and well worth the time. 


Don't Do

Below is a link to an excellent article on the importance of doing nothing and resetting and going on walks, and most importantly, reading books. Social media is so aggressive with making people feel like they constantly have to work, grind, hustle, do. This is an interesting and refreshing counter point to that philosophy.

Book - Benjamin Franklin Biography

Currently reading Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson    

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Great book. Pretty long, but very thorough and interesting. Isaacson is a very accomplished biographer. He has national best selling biographies on Einstein and Steve Jobs as well. He does a great job covering all sides and details of the person, including the darker and negative sides. Ben Franklin is no exception. The guy was pretty extraordinary. He had dozens of fascinating inventions, helped establish America as an independent nation and its constitution, was a very talented writer, created the first library, the first fire station, the first police force, one of the first colleges in the country, and many many other incredible things. Its pretty wild what he was able to accomplish in his life. He also had a penchant for women and was not an ideal husband, to put it mildly. 

Either way. Excellent book. Always motivating to read about such powerful and influential historical figures. 

Wanting to Want

Do I want to give, or do I want to want to give? I'm not sure. I guess if I have to ask the question, that means it's the latter. That's sad. Well, I suppose that's still better than not wanting to give. 

Let me clarify. By "give" I mean the broad idea of giving back. Whether it is in the form of charity, time, money, experience, helping a lady across the street, giving up my place in the grocery store line even when I'm in a hurry, etc. 

Just about every piece of literature says that giving back is the ultimate form of happiness and freedom. There have been hundreds of studies done and thousands of anecdotal experiences that all point to the same result, giving back increases happiness. Not only that, but the counter side to this theory has also been heavily tested and studied. Selfish acts and forms of life generally tend to result in various psychological impairments, depression, shorter life, etc. Well, this seems pretty easy then. Why not just give more of oneself in the form of time and money and receive happiness and longevity in return. Isn't that the key to life anywa? 

I suppose like anything else, it just isn't so simple. We are also pre-wired and programmed through millions of years of evolution to be selfish. Otherwise we wouldn't have survived and made it this far. And capitalism, which I'm generally a fan of, doesn't necessarily promote a philanthropic lifestyle. Not that it is against charity by any means, it's just a selfish system by design. Which is great because it forces competition and equal prices and opens up wonderful opportunities for all classes of people and many many other things, but it also instills a certain level of cutthroat drive/persistence/work. 

As great as giving is, we still have to survive first, and then make sure our family survives. So there is definitely some inherent selfishness to life. But how much? And that brings me back to the beginning. I want to give based on everything I know and read and heard, but I also want to compete and win and get rich and save for retirement, etc. So I guess I want to to want to give. Maybe the act of doing it will provide the level of happiness that is so often written about, which will create a positive feedback loop and eventually result in wanting to give back instead of wanting to want. 

So I just need to start. Get over my selfish ways and excuses and justifications and just start. Something, simple, something small, every day. 

The Investment Banker and The Fisherman

My first job out of college was working for a huge public accounting company. And I was miserable. It was considered a great job, hard to get, excellent pay, etc etc etc. I hated it and became very negative towards the entire corporate world. At this time I heard a parable about an investment banker on vacation in a Mexican village and his need to monetize and corpratize everything he sees. The story is in the link below:

When I knew for certain that I was going to quit and just finishing out my last couple months with the company, my parents, being naturally concerned, tried to talk me out of it. I remember telling them this story and it making my dad smile. He agreed. 

10 years later, my friend sent me the story (not knowing that I already knew it) and told me it reminded him of me. : ) 

Made me smile. 

Its the little things. Quick message like that to help keep me on my journey and not waver. Thanks Bobby! 

Balance is Bullshit

Balance is Bullshit

This is a quote stolen from Keith Ferrazzi's "Never Eat Alone."

Its an excellent book and definitely worth the read. I read this in my first year out of college and loved it. Everyone was preaching balance now that I was in the working world and gearing up for what seemed like a monotonous 40 year trot on a treadmill. I loved getting permission to have no balance, to be passionate beyond convention, to go against the grain of corporate rhetoric and philosophy. 

I had a chance to meet Keith and even had dinner at his house one night a few years after I read the book. I told him the impact that one line had on my life. It was a great experience.

However, as I sit here now, I think about this entire concept from a slightly different perspective. Balance is such a subjective, undefinable term when it comes to one's life. Saying people should have balance is like saying people should be happy. What does it even mean? Balance is individual and it is therefore up to each person to figure out what the proper balance is through trial and error. This balance may be 40 hour work weeks and the rest family time, it may be 110 hour work weeks, and the rest exercise time, it may be anything in a billion different scenarios. The key is finding your own balance and being honest with yourself. What is mine? Who knows. I try to figure it out every day. I know I have a need for creativity, competition, exercise, reading, and traveling. How those balance, I'm not quite sure. To make matters more complicated, most of those things can overlap (competition and creativity in acting auditions, or competition and exercise). Maybe happiness is just the opposite side of the true balance equation. Whatever the right balance is for you results in happiness? 


I posted about productivity a few days ago, and then came across this article, "Habits Can Make You Stupid, And Then Kill You."

Its another one by James Altucher. I know I know. I been reading him a lot lately. He's smart, and different, and interesting. But I read other stuff as well. Just have been reposting the stuff I think is pretty interesting. 

The idea is that there is such thing as over-productivity, and too many rituals and habits. Hard work is great, but spinning your wheels for the sake of action is not efficient or smart. I guess, like everything else, there is no answer. The key is being happy and making sure we aren't doing it at the expense of future happiness either. 

Irrational Productivity

What makes a day productive? Every day is different, every person is different, all goals are different. I suppose that is like asking, "what is happiness?" 

I constantly have this irrational drive for productivity but don't have a clear definition of what it is or what I'm being productive for. Does there have to be a specific task? Does the task have to relate to particular end result/future goal? What is effective productivity? Or is that a redundant statement? 

Who knows, who knows, back to it!

Thursday's random thoughts

The difficulty of writing something every day is that there is pressure to have an interesting thought every day. So I suppose that is the practice. The practice of thought and the discipline of work. Forces some sort of contemplation. Not sure what the end result will be, or even what the goal is, but its certainly challenging already, on day 5. 

Many great writers swear by this. And though I'm not a writer and have never claimed to be, I figured it was about time I try the practice of daily writing. Hemingway was extremely diligent in writing every single day. More recently, dozens of interesting and influential people like Seth Godin to Tim Ferriss, to Brian Koppelman (wrtier and creator of Rounders and Billions), swear by daily writing. A lot of this comes from an exercise called Morning Pages out of a book called, "The Artist's Way"  by Julia Cameron.

Her approach is a bit different than what I'm doing here. It is basically writing two pages by hand first thing every single morning. It can be nonsense. It can be anything. Its just two random pages. Her approach seems a bit more individual and a somewhat meditative process. I suppose this is also. It just forces me to slow down and be a bit more cautious since it is publicly available. Its a bit suffocating and freeing at the same time. Which is strange, but good practice non the less. For what? I don't know. 

All you need to know about investing

This is a podcast about 40 minutes long from Freakonomics Radio. These are the guys that wrote the hugely popular international best seller, Freakonomics. I listen to this podcast regularly. It is pretty great and covers a wide range of topics, mostly revolving around economics, society, and culture. 

Below is a link for a show they did called, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (but were afraid to ask)." Its fairly basic material, but super important none the less. Great listen, and very very worth the time. Check it out:

Great Article on Investing

The ultimate cheat sheet for investing by James Altucher

I'm not going to write much about this, since the article shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to read. But I figured I'd share it since I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm a big fan of James Altucher and his material. He has an excellent podcast and has written many best selling books. This is his take on investing and personal finances.