3 Ways to Connect with People

3 Ways to Connect with People

Here are the three ways to connect with people—from worst to best:

3.) You Hate the Same Things

This is great during political season. You connect with people that you normally have nothing in common with. You might share a beer or coffee together, musing on the problems in the world. And you find out that you both hate Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Fidel Castro, etc. When you leave, you’ll have a renewed faith in humanity—you saw something in this person that was previously hidden to you. Now “they cool.”

But this is a weak connection. As the old saying goes, “Politics make strange bedfellows.” When the gestalt of the moment is gone, you’ll find yourself in the same place with this person—a relative stranger.

Be careful that you don’t overrate this type of connection.

2.) You Like the Same Things

Some people confuse this for love. You like baseball, she likes baseball. You like country music, she likes country music. You like sex, she likes sex. And on and on. These type of relationships become more common as we grow older, because our sphere of contact becomes smaller. We go fewer places. So people will “hook up” with one another at a place they both frequent, such as the gym – it’s mating through proximity.

This connection is ultimately flawed. Once the baseball game is over, or the concert lights have died down, then the ugly truth is revealed. And you’ll often find yourself at odds with this person. Their real nature is revealed, and you don’t like what you see – they turn out to be a liar, a thief, or a stubborn malcontent. What happened? Well, you were duped by the enjoyment of the moment, by the music of the evening. Your connection was momentary, influenced by external forces. The connection was missing an intrinsic glue at the fundamental level.

Be careful that you don’t overrate this type of connection.

1.) You Share the Same Values

This is the best connection; you both share a Weltanschauung on the world. Your understanding of integrity, respect and honor are similar. You operate from the fundamental framework of ideals, on what is best in principle. You both share similar understanding of the world.

Note that your values don’t need to be good—for every Bonnie, there’s a Clyde. For every Hitler, there’s an Eva Braun. There’s somebody out there for everyone. So you merely have to agree with the other person on a fundamental level. The hardware of your computers should be equal. The motors created in a similar factory.

This is the best type of connection – one that’s based on values.

Adam Smith: On Sending Your Adolescent Abroad

Adam Smith: On Sending Your Adolescent Abroad

Adam Smith discussed many things in The Wealth of Nations, not just economics. One interesting topic revolves around a father sending his son abroad for schooling. Smith frowned upon the idea, stating that it often produced a horrible result:

“He [the son] returns home more conceited, more dissipated, more unprincipled, and more incapable of any serious application….”

“By sending his son abroad, a father delivers himself…a son unemployed, neglected, and going to ruin before his eyes.”

Smith hits on an important point—adolescents are sometimes worse off when they leave home for college. As he points out they are more “conceited” and prone to “ruin.”

I’d say that Smith is generally right. In the United States, we do not send our children “abroad,” per se. However, the United States is large enough that adolescents can travel far away when going to college: from California to Wisconsin, from Florida to New York, etc. In these college years, adolescents can fall under the sway of different individuals: they can engage in drug use, premarital sex, etc. They can ruin themselves for life.

Would you send your daughter to a “party school”? Would you send your soon to a college that you knew was ripe with leftist indoctrination?

Parents should think twice…and tread carefully. Sending your child away for college is not an automatic recipe for success.

Who Occupies Your Mind?

Who Occupies Your Mind?

Imagine there was a podium in the middle of a town square. Only five speakers were allowed at the podium every day. The discussion topics were clearly outlined for the speakers, designed to improve the morale of the citizenry. The podium became the informational center of the town; it created the collective reality of the people that lived there.

Your mind is like that podium. Only a certain amount of conversations can be held every day. And what will the conversations be about? Will they improve your morale? Will they provide positive information to guide your life? These conversations in your mind will create the reality of your life.

The greatest challenge in life—removing negative conversations from your mind. Removing negative speakers from the podium.

You should learn to have prejudice. You should learn to discriminate. Not everybody has a worthy conversation, or a positive message. Many people merely want to pour their unhappiness into you. They’re unable to solve their problems, so they want to share their misery. They’re not looking for a solution—merely an audience.

Who occupies your mind? The answer should be clear—only the greatest thinkers of humanity. Only the people who are successful in life. Only the people who are active, instead of passive. Only the people who are “doers.”

There is a war for possession of your thoughts—you must fight to control the battlefield.

Where Can I Spit My Chewing Tobacco?

Where Can I Spit My Chewing Tobacco?

The pewter spittoon is a wonderful relic:

“Spittoons are containers made for spitting into, especially for those chewing tobacco. They were often placed in the home or in public places such as inns and taverns. This pewter spittoon has a removable lid so it can be emptied – a particularly unpleasant job.”

The pewter spittoon was a container to spit your tobacco into. You could find them in British homes, hotels, and bars during the 18th and 19th century.

“Spitting was a socially acceptable habit in the United Kingdom until the late 1880s…”

How many times have you needed a place to spit your chewing tobacco? If you’re like me, the answer is none…but that’s beside the point. Tobacco saliva needs a home, and the pewter spittoon is the perfect domicile. A welcome home. The perfect landing spot for projectile spit.

Having British sailors over for dinner? If so, I recommend that you purchase a pewter spittoon. You won’t be disappointed.

Buy yours today on Ebay: Pewter Spittoon for sale

In Praise of the Noble Sailor

In Praise of the Noble Sailor

I love the mystique of the sailor. I was reminded of this noble life by reading Tai-Pan, the great novel by James Clavell. Here is a choice excerpt:

A ship was charging through the east channel in full sail. Her free-lifting square sails and gallants and royals were swelling to leeward, cut into rotund patterns by the buntlines and leach lines, her taut rigging straining and singing against the quickening wind. The rake-masted Clipper was on the lee tack on a broad reach and her bow wave flew upward, her gunnel awash, and above the froth of her wake—white against the green-blue ocean—sea gulls cried their welcome.

Just beautiful.

It’s a world that’s removed from us. Today’s journey is centered on freeways, Iphones, and the drive thru line at Starbucks. Amazon, Instagram, and Snapchat. What do we know of bunt lines, lee tacks, or gunnels? And yet, it’s a world that planted the seeds of America—ocean discovery. It was the sailor, intrepid in his spirit, that forged the open ocean. It was the sailor that landed on the savage lands of America, bringing civilization to the teeming forest. It was the sailor that planted the seeds of adventure in the American spirit.

We owe so much to the ancient sailors—their courage can teach us to dream bigger, to reach higher. The sailor is a role model to the modern man.

Are You a Prisoner of the Mind?

Are You a Prisoner of the Mind?

Imagine you were in prison for 10 years. During that time, 10 songs played over and over. The music was horrible—angry vocals with lyrics about a violent world. You hate the songs at first. But then, for your own sanity, you learn how to process them—you learn how to accept the music as part of your consciousness.

Imagine who were in prison for ten years, listening to the same ten songs.

But then one day….you escape! You break out of prison, run to the shoreline, and steal a boat. You spend hours rowing on the open sea. Eventually, you come to a deserted island. It’s beautiful place, filled with clean water and tropical fruit. You kiss the ground and cry. Thank God you’re out of prison! Thank God you’re free!

Then  you escape prison, landing on a deserted island. You’re free at last!!!

Do you know what happens now? Do you know what happens now that you’re “free”?

You think about the songs that you heard in prison – you’re still a prisoner.

Prison is psychological, not just physical—it lives in your your mind as well. This point was elaborated on brilliantly in Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. The main character commits a double murder and he’s never caught—but he’s emotionally tortured by the guilt. The point is clear enough—he’s already in prison. He’s already serving a punishment.


You’re still in prison, even though you’re free.

What agitating”songs” are currently being played in your prison?

First solution: eliminate those songs. These “songs” could be people you’re surrounded by, television shows you’re watching, etc. Some tough decisions will have to be made. You might have to distance yourself from people you otherwise love – even family. But your personal happiness comes first. You can’t make somebody else happy if you’re miserable.

Second solution: teach yourself to think again. Read great books, hit the gym, only watch selective programming on television. Remember that ideas are the food of the mind. Garbage in, garbage out. So you’ll have to teach yourself to “eat healthy” thoughts. Like all changes, it won’t be easy. But it must be done.

Freedom is a mental state, as well as a physical one.


Can You Be Happy When You Know the Worst?

Can You Be Happy When You Know the Worst?

I stumbled upon this line in The Idiot, by Dostoevsky. A masterful book by a literary genius:

“It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.”

In short, it’s better to be a realist—to know the cold truth. And I agree…it seems like a good idea. Great men are better than fools. The genius is above the idiot. But I believe in something more: a higher plateau.

To be happy when you know the worst…that’s the goal!

Despite everything, your toes are tapping. You’ve read the history of foreign wars, massacres, and mutilations. You’ve seen into the darkness of the human soul. You’ve seen how a fantasy is destroyed by reality. Yet still, your toes are tapping. You skip to and fro like a child.

Strength: The ability to achieve happiness in the middle of carnage. How many people can do it? How many people can achieve it? Your degrees and diplomas won’t matter. Your travel destinations won’t be relevant. Only an ability to skip freely through the world. To lift yourself up like a child. To laugh madly like a loon.

People will think you’re stupid. Don’t you know about suffering? Don’t you know about the endless riots and robberies? Of course you do. But you’ve learned something great. You’ve risen above the carnage.

Your spirit is kindled in the fires of freedom.

The Greatness of Harpo Marx

The Greatness of Harpo Marx

Chaplin received a lot of praise as a great “silent” comedian—a man who relied on physical comedy to tell a story. However, I always found Harpo Marx to be more memorable (no slight to Chaplin of course, who was legendary in his own way).

Their differences were noteworthy…

Harpo was a world-class musician. And for me, the harp is a magical instrument—a device that hijacks the listener’s ear; it takes you into the auditory clouds and leaves you there. Heaven on earth! Harpo was a master of the instrument; he had a boyish charm, exemplified by the way that children loved him. My favorite renditions by Harpo were “Blue Moon” in At the Circus, “Suwanee River” in Love Happy (fast forward to 1:03:00 of the video) and “Everyone Says I Love You” in Horse Feathers. His performances can bring tears to your eyes.

Harpo strumming at his trademark instrument

Harpo was also part of a unique team—this allowed him to shine in a way that Chaplin never could. Harpo could lean on the talents of Chico and Groucho (my apologies to Zeppo and Gummo for the necessary omission). The Marx Brothers had a chemistry that melded into one—they were like a singular figure. Harpo worked well with Groucho, but I really liked his rapport with Chico. It’s funny how they were paired as “friends,” yet they were diametric opposites: an Italian gambler and a clownish mute. Yet their partnership was believable.  It was a strange combination that managed to fit perfectly—like chicken and waffles, or French Fries and mayonnaise.

Harpo shined in the presence of his brothers.

And finally, his antics were unique. He would honk his horn, place his leg in a person’s hand, or make a face called a “gookie.” These comedic charms have become a trademark. That’s the sign of a great actor—being unique. Anyone can copy, mimic, or imitate. But it takes a great mind to forge a unique idea. To give birth to an original thought. For these individuals, we reserve the title of “genius.”  They are the heroes of a generation.

Harpo does the trademark “gookie.”

For an introduction to Harpo Marx, watch the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udGuX7BdXyM

Do Germans have the Best Words?

Do Germans have the Best Words?

The German language is a train wreck. Guttural noises, crashing against one another. A reckless orgy of words. An assault upon the ear drums. Many foreigners have been ear raped on the mean streets on Munich.

But let’s give credit where credit is due—Germans have some great words. Like all great words, there’s only ONE way to describe the situation: and that word fits perfectly. There’s no need for an endless pile of synonyms, soon to be forgotten.

On that note, these are my favorite German words:

  • Backpfeifengesicht = A face that should be slapped
  • Weltanschauung = The worldview of a particular group of people
  • Schadenfreude = Pleasure derived from the misfortune of others
  • Waldeinsamkeit – The feeling of being alone in the woods

It’s time we gave more respect to this noble language. I believe that learning to speak German is an honorable goal. Sure, you will twist your tongue, sound foolish, etc. You’ll spend a lot of time and money. Your friends will wonder what you’re doing and you might even question whether it’s worth it.

But remember…the ability to say Backpfeifengesicht at the right place and time is priceless.

Your Mind is a Classroom

Your Mind is a Classroom

Ideas are spoken in the classroom of your mind…and what do they say? When you’re surrounded by excellent men, the ideas are uplifting, challenging, and they lead to personal growth. The ideas are centered on great books and people—the best in what has been thought and said. When you leave the classroom, you feel spiritually refreshed. The world is an open highway, leading to a city of gold.

But not all people are great. Some are clowns: the haters, the purveyors of bitter jealousy. Their goal is to disrupt the class, to incite, and to agitate—they have a misery that must be shared with all. They might be great at something in life—some rote trade, not requiring a spiritual satisfaction. But when it comes to enriching others, they’re incapable of giving back. They don’t make people better. They’re looking for an audience, not a conversation.

You have to limit the membership into the classroom of your mind. People won’t change their way of thinking; so you have to control who enters the classroom. Don’t waste your life with the wrong students in your class—you’ll fritter away the years of your life.

Is this you? If so, when will you change? When will you start putting your foot down?

Happiness is discriminatory. It realizes that humanity is not a brotherhood. It’s a Serengeti of battles, and you have to choose your soldiers carefully. Who will go into battle with you? It should be an individual who is dedicated to personal success, a person that is working to be better.

You’ll never climb the mountain of success if you have to carry other people’s backpacks.