New Quotes I Live My Life By

Anybody who knows me knows that I am big on self-improvement. I pick up a lot from the lessons of Freemasonry. I also listen to a lot of Podcasts. Some of them are light podcasts on historical topics, but a lot of them are  self-improvement (Art of Manliness, Tim Ferris Show, Art of Charm) and real estate education (Get Rich Education, Real Estate Guys, Bigger Pockets) and I pull a lot of platitudes from them that seem to stick. I posted about a bunch of them 2 years ago So, here are some of my more recently adopted maxims.

“Do the math and the math will tell you what to do.” Russel Gray of The Real Estate Guys

This is one that I get from the Real Estate Guys and also my good friend and mentor, Charles, who dropped some knowledge on me recently. This applies to any negotiation or deal, but I apply it to a BRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance) real estate strategy. When examining a deal, you have to plug numbers into your Bigger Pockets calculator (or other calculation device) to see how much to pay for the property for based on how much it will cost to do the rehab and how much you can safely pull out of it once the rehab is done. And don’t pay a penny more.

If you have taken the time to work all of these numbers out and you get to the bargaining table and the price goes beyond that point, you should just walk away.

Of course it’s not always that easy because there’s a lot of emotion involved, there’s the myth of sunken costs of time invested, and a whole host of distractions.

A good example of this was given to me by Charlie via anecdote. He was in a meeting with his client who was trying to sell his business. The client had carefully examined the books and the business, and had formulated a valuation of how much he thought the company was worth. When negotiations started, he saw his client getting caught up in the moment and was edging toward taking less money than his valuation. Charlie pulled his client aside and said (I paraphrase) “What about your calculations have changed from before this meeting to now?”

Boom.

His client was ignoring the math screaming out to him to walk and if not for Charlie’s wise counsel, would have walked away from the table feeling pretty bad about taking less than his company was worth.

“Overestimate your costs and underestimate your profit.” Charlie

I’m sure this concept was not coined by my mentor and Masonic Brother Charlie, but he put it  so succinctly that I felt I should use that phrasing. This is such a simple concept. Sometimes when analyzing a deal, it is so tempting to give your calculations slim enough margins to try to make the deal work on paper. “Oh, well, I can shave $4k off the budget if the roof ends up being fine for another couple of years,” or estimating that you will receive the high end of the rent range for that market. (I know, I’ve done this.)

Do not do that. Avoid this line of reasoning at all costs.

If you use conservative estimates for your deal and it’s still a good deal, then if the worst case scenario happens you are still profiting. And when the best case scenario happens, you are all the more in profit.

“Be Willing to Walk Away”

This one is hard for me. How do you just walk away from something that you really want? I’ve definitely made boneheaded concessions because I wanted something so bad. Then there’s the flip side. There’s something that you don’t want all that much, but are kind of interested in, so you make a super low, almost ludicrously low (but still somewhat reasonable) offer and when they push back you just walk away.

Then, as you’re walking away, they say either they’ll take your price or counter-back at what is still a screaming deal… for something that you could have lived without in the first place. So you got a great deal!

The point isn’t to offer on things you don’t want, but to go ahead and make the low ball offer on something that you only want at really low price even if you don’t think they’ll take it.

So, to apply this to something that you do want, you just have to convince yourself that you can do without it. That will give you leverage at the negotiating table.

“Don’t count on motivation; count on discipline.” – Jocko Willink

I was listening to the Tim Ferris podcast while hanging blinds in one of the rentals and the guest was a ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink (who is a super-human, FYI). One of the people who wrote into the show with questions asked how he stays “motivated.” To which he responded:

“Don’t count of motivation, count on discipline.”

And this totally rocked my world because we always see things about getting motivated and staying motivated, but “not being motivated” is just an excuse to be lazy or put off something hard or that you don’t want to do, but need to. It needs to get done, so you need discipline to hunker down and do it.

 

 

Real Estate, WWE, the Tour Business, and recent podcast listens

I feel like writing a blog post, so this is just going to be random stuff about what’s up with my life right now.

FYI: Married life is awesome.

Real Estate

First off, for our next rental property purchases we chose the “hard” difficulty level. We have purchased two single-family homes (one partially with proceeds from a 1031 Exchange sale of the condo in Reno). So for property number 1, aside from carpet paint, and various other minor repairs (replacing treads and risers on front steps), putting in appliances, and vinyl floor we have encountered these difficulties:

Rotted back door, frame, and part of the sub-floor and joists (Taken care of for a very reasonable price by BWB Construction)

Appliances in place, paint, carpet, etc. complete I then spent a week showing the house every evening to roughly 16 people (well, 16 appointments, half no showed).

Finally we get a renter and I show up Sunday evening to do some last little repairs and…..img_20161009_143225 img_20161010_173403 img_20161010_173424 img_20161010_175834and a tree fell. Luckily it just did some minor damage to the back deck guard rail.

But man!

And the Housing Authority is suppose to come and inspect maybe as early as this week.

So I got to do my best lumberjack impression and cut of the three with a much too small chainsaw borrowed from a fellow Mason.

Looks like I’m spending part of my Saturday repairing the guardrail.

Our other property is in the middle of a renovation loan (also with BWB Construction doing the work) and all was going okay until we needed to drop the power line to complete the fascia repairs and Dominion (the power company who also happens to own every government official in Virginia) says they can’t come out until October 24th… when our rate lock on the loan expires.

Sigh.

Luckily BWB got on the phone with them to come out earlier (although they were suppose to come out 2 days ago, but still haven’t).

Otherwise, things are going well there.

Wrestling

One of the best things about living in Richmond, VA is that the WWE comes through here 3 or 4 times per year for live events, TV shows, and sometimes PPVs.

Last Friday, Melanie and I went to NXT at the Altria Theater. This was the set up for those who are curious:

img_20161007_183853

The event was fun. We went to the PPV “Backlash” in September, but that’s a lot more casual fans and less hardcore “smarks” (referenced in a previous article).

Best match of the night was Austin Aries vs. Cedrick Alexander from a wrestling match perspective.

The most entertaining matches were Samoa Joe/Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/No Way Jose and Asuka vs. Aaliyah because of the personalities of who were involved.

The Smarkiness of the event led to much more fun crowd and lots of chants, singing along, and all the things that us rasslin’ fans like to do.

Backlash, the WWE PPV, had two really awesome matches in Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Title and AJ Styles winning the WWE title from Dean Ambrose.

For any long time wrestling fan, AJ Styles holding the WWE title seems like some fantasy land as of 5 years ago.

By the way, we sprung for the nicer seats for the PPV…

img_20160911_191821 img_20160911_191817

49ers

How about them 49ers? Man, we are terrible. Chip Kelly, Blaine Gabbert… our team is like the frickin’ Island of Misfit Toys.

Richmond Tour Guys

The tour business is a little on auto-pilot as I have turned my attention to getting these two rental properties together. Luckily I have an incredible guide in Michael Thomas who has been massively taking up the slack. It’s impossible to convey to him how much easier he has made my time management.

So far this year, we have given tours to over 825 people between regular walking tours, private tours, and custom tour packages. I swell with pride knowing that something that I started has been apart of 825 people’s vacations. They could spend their visit to Richmond doing anything… and they chose the Richmond Tour Guys.

We are Number 3 on Trip Advisor for “Tours in Richmond” behind only a bike tour and food tour.

Also, we brought on a new guide, Ray. He will start doing tours on weekdays, which is an area that I’ve longed to explore since the Tour Guys’ inception in 2014. Unfortunately it’s starting in October and November, which are traditionally less well attended.

As for the bad:

I had a couple of good private tours lined up including an Executive tour complete with an Executive Coach that cancelled; and a tour for a retirement home that I spent 10.5 hours routing, writing a script for, and practicing for them to cancel and thus, the Richmond tour guys has a new policy:

20% or $50 deposit for all specialized private tours!

New Phone: Blue Life One X2

I just got a new phone since the screen on my old phone (Huawei P8 Light) got shattered by an errant phone drop.

I don’t sign contracts for cel phones after I signed a 2 year contract with AT&T and submerged the phone I got from it in the river. So now I just buy unlocked smart phones by lesser known companies and I have not had a bad experience yet.

After cruising cNet, I ended up getting the Blue Life One X2 Android phone which has an octacore 1.4ghx processor, 4gb of memory, 64gb storage, 16 mp back, and 8mp front camera.

All of which the internet tells me is good.

I bought this one for $180 (normally $200, $180 special pre-sale price).

So far the phone is great. It’s way faster than the old one, I don’t have to worry about running out of space for podcasts, and the screen is bigger. The camera is also twice as good (literally, the old phone was 8mp). CNET rated it the best smart phone under $250 and honestly, since I’m not gaming or doing anything intense with my phone, I don’t really need the Samsung Awesome.

Freemasonry

In August I was all about working on Historic Mason’s Hall, the 1785 building in Shockoe Bottom that is the oldest lodge in the US continuously used for Masonic purposes. Then everything else took a back seat to real estate for the last month or so and probably will for 2 or 3 more weeks.

Efforts for the lodge are going strong.. slow and steady, but strong. We recently got a donation from the Sons of the Revolution and have embarked on a Facebook Ads fundraising campaign that has had some success. We have a great core group of guys who care about the building and are willing to put in the time to make saving it happen.

One of the things that we’re finding is how a little cleaning can go a long way:

2016-08-20-cleaning-masons-hall img_20160826_113044

I also recently discovered podcasts about Freemasonry. The one I’ve been listening to most is Masonic Roundtable. It features two Virginia Masons, so it’s got a lot of relevance to me.

I especially like the historical episodes such as on the Morgan Affair, the Baltimore Convention of 1843, and the episode on Prince Hall Freemasonry which is the traditionally African American branch of Freemasonry (we are working on bringing things together).

It also covers some more esoteric topics such as “memento mori,” or reflecting upon death and how we should make the most of the time we have on this plane of existence.

I reiterate as I did in my post about Freemasonry that Freemasonry is not a religion or cult, and it is non-denominational.

 

Good Coffee, DIY , Wedding Planning, WWE, and other musings

Since I feel like writing a blog post, this one will be filled with random thoughts and observations.

Wedding Planning

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. I’m lucky that my fiancee is really taking the lead on a lot of this stuff; her mom has been a big help in keeping us on track and task. We’ve got a date, photographer, location, DJ, Caterer, bridal party, almost flowers, and a bride and groom.

So much goes into a wedding. When I started getting asked about table centerpieces I was like “Wait, that’s a thing I have to decide?” Or whether or not to give away custom chocolate bars at the reception. How about: where to have the rehearsal dinner? How about planning for out of town relatives? I suppose I should get to work on an itinerary; being that almost everyone is coming from out of town.

But, I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with the woman I’m about to marry, and I’ve heard the wedding is one of the best days of your life and I can’t wait!

Good Coffee

I largely quit drinking coffee (except on weekends) because it gave me terrible acid reflux and stomach pains. I will have the occasional cup of Cafe Bustelo at work, but for the most part I don’t drink it during the week. The coffee that I have at home is basically store-brand coffee. It’s serviceable, I suppose.

So, my friend Greg and his girlfriend came to visit Melanie and I a couple of week ago. They both work at Starbucks and brought us a couple bags of Starbucks coffee: an Ethiopian blend and a Guatemala coffee. We ran out of coffee in the office, so I got one of the bags ground, put it in the Mr Coffee and tasted it and just as I had feared:

It was awesome…. and my taste buds have been forever spoiled by the smooth, rich tastiness of good coffee and I won’t be able to experience the savings of drinking Kroger brand coffee at home ever again.

Do-It-Yourself

Since we purchased the Duplex, and it was not renovated with great precision back whenever it was renovated (2009, I believe) there are some quirky things which I have been doing around there. One is masking the water heater in the kitchen corner with a closet which was the subject of my last post. The other project was an 11″ x 7′, 2.5 foot deep recess in the bathroom wall. We lacked cabinet space, so we purchased a thin cabinet from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and put that in.

It’s pretty satisfying building something, even if it isn’t perfect ( and lord knows it isn’t), but by trying to do things on this future rental property, I can learn and be much more well equipped to do things on our settle-down house.

The rough part about all this is that we keep having to buy new tools. Many of these are pretty basic, so we need to have them anywa: circular saw, plumb bob, drill/screw driver bits, framing square, speed square, saw horses, pry-bar, paint supplies, nails, screws, stud-detector, coping saw, clamps, etc. Then there’s the yard work stuff, lawnmower, weed wacker, rake, etc. We have spent more money at Lowes in the past 2 months or so than I have in my previous 29 years. We’ve still got a few more basics to acquire, but the bleed of money toward tools and equipment has slowly clotted.

But what about these nails, screws, etc.? You can’t buy them by the pound anymore, you have to spend $6-9 on a box of fasteners when you only need like 6 of them. So now, we have to figure out where to store this stuff in our small apartment.

My upcoming projects (after the wall) will be cleaning up the yard and trimming back the growth, cleaning out the shed (which was full of old building materials, spider-webs, and spiders) and putting a floor down (simple, 4×4’s and plywood), and building a handrail for the front porch.

Thoughts on WWE

Seth Rollins is out for 6-9 months and one of the best parts of WWE TV is gone. Shaemus is the champion and it really couldn’t be more lame. Roman Reigns is a very mediocre flag bearer. Randy Orton is out having shoulder surgery. John Cena is out to host a reality show.

It’s pretty bad.

And the lowest raw-ratings since 1996 illustrates this.

Kevin Owens is great on the mic and in the ring, but he’s not established enough to carry the company.

Dean Ambrose is awesome, over, and way, way, way under-used. How is this guy not the main guy for WWE? He always gets the biggest reactions.

NXT is almost always awesome. The women’ division is lacking a bit at the top since Charlotte, Lynch, and Banks left, but otherwise has a good crop of wrestlers coming up.

I like Finn Balor as a champion. He acts and carries himself like a Champion should… a true professional. It’s like he brings that Japanese “we take this sport seriously” aspect. And he has great matches. Main roster material? I’m not so sure…

Samoa Joe is not very over with the NXT crowd.

Currently Reading

The Book on Real Estate Investing With No and Low Money Down by Brandon Turner  It sounds like some cheesey sales pitch, but he’s pretty realistic in what to expect from these efforts. this is the guy who co-hosts the Bigger Pockets Podcast.

The Ups and Downs of Business and the Path to Success

One moment your on top of the world and then the next, life hands you a heaping helping of humble pie.

What Success Really Looks Like

What Success Really Looks Like

Maybe it’s just me and I’m inclined to have big emotional upswings and downswings, but life is a just a crazy roller coaster. Success is less like climbing a mountain and is more like climbing a series of hills that turn into a mountain range, with more hills in-between. Some of these hills and mountains will then have groups of trolls at the top trying to throw you back down the other side and make you start from the beginning, or to the bottom of a mountain that you’ve already climbed.

I will give you an example of this based on events happening solely this past week:

That trolley tour that I was suppose to guide got cancelled. I was very disappointed. The disappointment didn’t stem so much from not getting paid for it (although I’d be lying if I said that didn’t play a part), but stemmed more from the work that I put into mapping that tour route, memorizing the script, and practicing it once per day for 2 weeks all being for naught. True, it helped me write my Church Hill Tour script, and gave me something that I might be able to use if we do this sort of thing down the road; but that’s a tiny consolation.

I found out about this on Monday. On Tuesday, I get a call to give a private tour (which pays pretty well) that evening and execute it almost perfectly.

Success! Up the mountain.

Saturday comes and it’s time for the morning tour and I get one guy who doesn’t tip me anything for the awesome 2.5 hour tour I just gave him.

Well that’s a kick in the pants down the hill.

Granted, I didn’t expect a big turn out because of all of the cool stuff going on for the 150th anniversary of the fall of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War; but seriously; one guy?

Down we go.

So, the inaugural Church Hill tour was that evening as given by one of my new guides, JJ. I didn’t hold high hopes for turn out because of all of the Civil War living history and reenactment stuff going on at the State Capitol. It’s a tough competition, but Lo and behold…..

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

19 people show up for the tour!

Back up the mountain.

It’s not easy, but it sure is an exhilarating climb.

Tour Company Stuff, New Podcast Recommendations, WM 31, Star Trek, Musings

I haven’t written anything in a couple of months now, which is hurting my mission of this blog being the first thing that comes up when you Google my very unique name. I’ve still got to chase Spokeo and Quirky off of the first page of results, but that will come. I will take this opportunity to update y’all on happenings with the tour business (why I’ve been so busy), My Wrestlemania 31 predictions, some cool new Podcasts that I’ve been getting into, and pretty much just muse about stuff that I’ve been thinking about.

DSC01521Big Things For the Tour Guys

Big things going on for me with the Richmond Tour Guys. First off, tour season has restarted! I finally get to give tours again. I’ve even brought on 2 guides so I can have some weekends off occasionally. One of them is a recent VCU Grad with a degree in History and the other is long time Church Hill (the oldest neighborhood in Richmond) resident who will be doing 2 tours of Church Hill per month.

That reminds me, I have added a tour of Church Hill which will take place on Saturdays at 3:30 PM and Thursday evenings at 5:00 PM. I’m very excited for these as Church Hill has so much rich history share and the tour ends around a pub, so I may be able to have a pint or two with some of the more interesting tour attendees.

I was also contacted by Taylor’s Classic Travels that has a trolley that they rent out for private events, wine tours, brewery tours, and weddings. They have been hired by The Brownstone and Butler’s Unique Catering to do a tour of Church Hill and are using me to guide the tours. I’m very excited to make this connection and work with Terra and Joe.

If you want to buy tickets to this all-you-can-eat brunch, ride a trolley, and witness me blow your mind with my awesome tour guiding, the link is here.

After I get back from visiting family and friends on the West Coast in June, I’m going to start charging for tours and see if this has legs as a full-fledged business. So if you want to come on the free tour, get it while it lasts!

I’ve also had a ton of other opportunities come my way as well that I’m working on, but can’t mention yet on such a public forum…..

New Podcasts

Entrepreneur On Fire: Since the tour business has been going so well, I have decided that I need to update my business IQ. Since I have no formal business training and I am too busy to read any non-history related books since I’m writing and developing two new tours; I get it in during my morning cleansing ritual (shower, shave, getting dressed, etc.) and driving time (which I have much of) via Podcasts.

Entrepreneur On Fire has given me some, as the host John Lee Dumas would put it, “mind blowing insights” into my business. Basically, he spends a half-hour interviewing various entrepreneurs about their business, how they built it, and finding out their habits. I have gained more insight into how to run, market, and view my business than I could possibly have otherwise.

Ironically enough, the first one that I listened to was an interview with a guy who started Museum Hack which gives entertaining tours of museums in New York.

I was hooked.

Now I listen to the almost every podcast Lee puts out. If you are an entrepreneur, side-preneur (me!), or want-repreneur, this is a great Podcast to check out. It has quickly risen to the top of my podcast Queue.

What the Speak!: This Podcast is all about Public Speaking. Bryan Kelly interviews public speakers of all sorts and learns about their journey, which teaches me all sorts of tips and tricks.  Being a Tour Guide, a lot of what I do is performance based speaking. Since I have no formal education in public speaking (other than a one semester Speech class Freshman year of college where my final project was an epic speech on the word F***) I decided to look for a podcast on the topic.

One Google search later, lo and behold, What the Speak comes up. It really put what I do into perspective. Even without being able to see myself giving tours, I can already see things that I need to work on and improve.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour – Switching gears, this podcast is all about the most famous of Virginians… Thomas Jefferson. Clay Jenkins, award winning Humanities Scholar and Thomas Jefferson researcher, gives in-character interviews as Thomas Jefferson to give his view. It sounds really hokey, but it is one of the most incredible podcasts that I listen to. Jenkins has studied Thomas Jefferson so in depth, that he flawlessly answers questions off the cuff, citing primary sources for reference.

Actually, learning about Thomas Jefferson and all that he accomplished in field literally ranging from A to Z (he even knew how to tie arteries!) will really make one feel intellectually inferior.

Wrestlemania 31 Predictions

Wrestlemania 31 is coming up  and I’m not super thrilled about the card.

The match I’m most looking forward to is Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker. Now that the Undertaker has had his streak broken (last year by Brock Lesnar) it’s fair game as to whether he can win or lose. There’s no assumption that the streak will continue because it’s been broken. They could have Taker lose, and have that be the nail in his coffin as he passes the torch to the self-titled “New Face of Fear” Bray Wyatt, or he could win and redeem himself. I hope he loses and rides out into the sunset…. although by the looks of it he may have trouble getting on the horse. It’s a tossup, but I’ll say Wyatt wins which will fit into the narrative on next year’s Wrestlemania where Undertaker will hang up the boots if he loses and his opponent is some heel who just wants to “put him out of his misery.”

Triple H vs. Sting will be good. They are both incredible in-ring storytellers. Seeing Sting in action in front of 80,000 people again will be nuts. He’s been in small arena’s with TNA for the last 12 years. It’s hard to say who’s going to win, but my money is on Sting to fit with the Wrestlemania hero’s win narrative. The match will be very good.

John Cena vs. Rusev is a feud that I have really been enjoying. There’s just something so old school and nostalgic about a Russian talking smack about the US and the hero standing up and fighting for the country he loves. (Rusev’s actually Bulgarian, but WWE doesn’t have much regard for the geographic knowledge of their audience). They had a really good match at Fastlane and I think this one will be good as well. Cena goes over for the feel good moment.

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar…. eh.. the build up to this has been atrocious. I mean it’s basically Paul Heyman giving awesome promos and Roman Reigns fighting off the Authority. I like Roman Reigns, but I don’t buy him as a Wrestlemania main eventer. Not yet at least. Lesnar has officially re-signed with WWE, so I think he wins since Reigns is proving to be a non-starter for much of the WWE Universe. I still think Rollins is going to cash in Money in the Bank at WM 31.

By the way, that crowd is going to be very ruthless to Roman Reigns.

The Intercontinental Title Ladder Match is going to be a fun match, but there are better ways to use the guys who are going to be in it. Daniel Bryan was main-eventing Wrestlemania last year and now he’s been jammed into a match with 6 other guys who have nothing else to do on that Sunday night. The build up has been somewhat amusing, mostly thanks to R Truth’s antics, but overall it’s a real non-starter. I say Bryan captures the title in order to bring some prestige back to it.

The Bellas vs. AJ and Paige is also a real non-starter, mostly because I do not like the Bella Twins. Nikki is so sloppy and unbelievable as a credible threat. Paige and AJ can wrestle circles around them. Either way, it’ a Divas match, so the WWe will probably either give them 3 minutes or just bump them when Sting/Triple H goes too long. Because that’s what WWE does to Divas at Wrestlemanias. Paige and AJ for the victory.

Andre The Giant Battle Royal: Who knows? After Cesaro won last year and was summarily buried, it doesn’t feel like this Battle Royal matters as much as it did last year when it was new and could potentially be a stepping stone to greater things. I don’t rightly know who will win; or care for that matter. So…uh… let’s jut say that…uh…. Curtis Axel wins and gets pushed to the stars! Axelmania!

Star Trek

A few months ago, I decided to watch Star Trek, the original series on Netflix. I had never watched it before and had a much different idea of what it was in my mind prior to watching it…..

Zounds! What an incredible show! I mean the production value isn’t incredible, but the messages and morals are mind blowing. Spock’s insights into humanity from a purely logical perspective and his verbal exchanges with Captain Kirk are highly entertaining. The show really makes one think about humanity and society’s faults as well as our greater qualities such as a soul and free will. Things that we take for granted are put on display in different species that lack these things.

I’m almost ashamed I hadn’t given it a chance before. I’m smack dab in the middle of season 2 right now.

Other Thoughts

  • I was at Sweetfrog by the theater the other day waiting for my beautiful girlfriend to meet me and ventured over to see what was playing and realized I had never heard of any of the movies that were playing. You see, Melanie and I cut our cable cord a year or so ago and have not looked back since. Between the internet, Netflix, and Hulu, we don’t miss anything AND we get to save money and not watch all of the commercials. The commercials we see are not the same as they are on actual TV so we never see movie previews. I’m pretty sure they’re all going to be terrible anyway. Anything that’s grandiose enough to win awards is not worth paying to see in theaters anyway when it will be out on VOD and DVD in 2 months.
  • Light beer is disgusting. I use to drink it if it was present at a gathering. I liked it okay. I accidentally bought Yuengling Light the other day and was severely disappointed to taste that flavorless beer when I was expecting delicious Yuengling.
  • Yuengling, for my West Coast compatriots who haven’t heard of it, is a great East Coast beer. It’s like a step above Bud/Coors/Miller in terms of taste and maybe $1 more expensive for a 6-pack, but not quite as expensive or heavy as craft brews. I had never actually heard of Yuengling until I moved to the East Coast, because apparently it isn’t distributed West of the Mississippi. It is the oldest brewery in the country, by the way.
  • I want to have a Podcast in the worst way…. soon…..

Remember everybody, Matthew Maggy says “zip it up and zip it out!”

 

Who is the Best? Who is the Greatest? They Are Not One-In-The-Same

So many times, you may hear about the debate over “Who is the best _________ of all time?” or “Who is the greatest__________ of all time.” Some people might say that greatest and best are one-in-the-same; that the best is the greatest.

I disagree.

You can call it arguing petty semantics if you want, but there is a distinction between these two terms of distinction. So here’s how I define them.

The criteria for the best has to do with skill. If someone is more skilled at something than other people then they are the best. Plain and simple. This can be measured by stats, anecdotal evidence, or generally accepted agreement that someone is extremely skilled at something.

The  criteria for the greatest is much deeper than the best. The greatest takes into consideration impact, longevity, legacy, and success along with skill. The greatest, however, may not necessarily be the most skilled. In an effort to define more what I’m talking about, I’ll list some examples. (This post is basically a way for me to express my opinion on a few matters.)

Conqueror of the Classical World:

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

I am containing the scope of this question to the Classical world because Genghis Kahn wins hands-down for the best and greatest conqueror in history. So the field is basically  3 guys: Alexander The Great of Macedonia, Julius Caesar of Rome, and Qin Shi Huang of China. The best is an easy one…..

Best: Alexander The Great

He conquered the known world. The…known….world; and a lot that wasn’t known. He stood largely on the shoulders of his father Phillip II who handed him Greece and an army capable of, well, conquering the known world. As a tactician, he was a genius. He displayed bravery in leading from the front. All of his troops admired him as he led them into God knows where (we know it today as the North of India). He is one of the few who have been able to conquer the tribes of Afghanistan. He carved out a large piece of the world for himself, but he died young and his empire was split  among his generals into various Hellenic kingdoms.

Greatest: Julius Caesar

He not only conquered the Germanic Tribes and the Celts of lower Britain, but he won a three way civil war between himself Pompei, and Marc Antony who were all fighting with highly trained and veteran Roman Legions. This is a massive feat worthy of all of the glory he receives unto itself. The difference between him, Alexander, and Qin Shi Huang is that Ceasar’s conquests endured for another 300-500 years (depending on when one officially defines the fall of the Western Roman Empire). The duration becomes 1,300 years after his death if you include the Byzantine Empire which carried the Roman flag. Qin Shi Huang and and Alexander’s empires crumbled as soon as the people who created them died. When Caesar died, not only did his kingdom survive, but it thrived and expanded. It ruled the West and near East for hundreds of years after Caesar breathed his last.

Some may bring up the legacy Alexander’s conquests. Though his empire was split between his generals and did not endure, his conquests spread Hellenitic values with Greek learning, art, culture, and traditions throughout the known world. One can also point to Qin Shi Huang’s legacy as evidence of his claim to the title of the greatest. By unifying China aand forcing a single language and culture throughout these once culturally diverse kingdoms, he is still impacting the world in the form of the current Chinese state. He does not receive this title though, because his dynasty fell as soon as he died.

When Caesar dies, his adopted son Augustus Caesar takes control of Rome to keep his dynasty going. Then 300 years after Caesar died, a little thing called Christianity was made the official religion of and spread through the Roman Empire. This shaped the modern Western world and the modern Western world has shaped the world today. That, arguably, is the most significant legacy that any Western Military Leader could leave.

Pro-Wrestler:

Best: Ric Flair

Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair

Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair

WHOO!!! Ric Flair, “a Limousine-ridin’, Jet-flyin’, Kiss-stealin’, Wheelin’-dealin’, Son-of-a-Gun,” is a wrestler who would only be known to people who have watched wrestling at one time or another and to people in the South. He could cut a mean promo. He could put on a great hour-long match. He oozed charisma and he embodied his character. He stuck around and put on great matches for 40 years. The reason that he wins out over other wrestlers such as Shawn Michaels, Macho Man Randy Savage, Chris Jericho, and The Undertaker is that 40 year longevity. Any wrestling purist will tell you that the best wrestler of all time is Ric Flair.

Just check out Ric Flair vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat from Wrestlewar 89.

Greatest: Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan, however, takes the crown as the greatest. As far as technical, in-ring work goes, he was not good at all. He didn’t sell when people hit him (selling= making it look like you actually got hit), he barely left his feet and went down to the mat, but when he hit the ring, you never heard a bigger reaction. He was charismatic, he could cut a promo, and he sold lots and lots of T-Shirts. He was the one to bring Pro-Wrestling into the mainstream. He was in movies (who doesn’t love Suburban Commando?). He had a TV show. He is a pop-culture icon. People who have never watched a single wrestling show know who Hulk Hogan is. He wrestled until his back could no longer take it. His debut was in the mid-1970’s and had his last match around 2011. So taking into consideration great matches, popularity, impact, longevity, and transcendence, Hulk Hogan is the Greatest.

Rapper:

I should preface this by saying, per a previous post, I was once hugely into Rap music, but I don’t really follow it much anymore. I think the only new guys I know are Kendrick Lamar and Drake. I know, it’s sad.

By ThaCreator [mm.art] from Chicago and NYC, USA (jay-z and bill gates) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By ThaCreator [mm.art] from Chicago and NYC, USA (jay-z and bill gates) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Best: 2Pac/BIG

So that nobody jumps down my throat, I’ll put 2Pac and BIG tied. Now, neither of these guys is my favorite rapper of all time (that goes to the Bay Area’s own, E-40); but I’m aware they are considered the best rapper’s all time by most people. Lyrically, they are both incredible. Biggie’s flow was insanely intricate and clever. He weaved words in ways to whet the appetites of the most wily of word-smiths. Sold millions of albums, but he only released 5 of them. Two of those were released after his death. 2Pac released like 6 albums while he was alive and was active for about 6 years before he was shot He had a big impact at his time, but he didn’t stick around. Had both these cats lived, it might be a different conversation.

Greatest: Jay-Z

Hands down. In my opinion there is no argument to be made against me here. Jay-Z has been making hit albums since 1996 and is still making them. 15 albums. Multi-Platinum. Grammy winning. Lyrically sharp, crisp, clever, and went toe-to-toe with Nas, one of the best wordsmiths of all time. He is a pop-culture icon and Successful entrepreneur. He is as mainstream as mainstream can be, yet still maintains the respect of most hardcore Hip-Hop heads. A lot of kids today won’t know who BIG is, but they sure as heck know who Jay-Z is.

Early Solo Rock & Roller:

Best: Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry is without a doubt the most talented musician of that era. He invented an entire style of guitar playing. The Rock & Roll riff is basically his. He revolutionized music. He is charismatic and has influenced probably every band in every type of music that is an off-shoot of Rock & Roll. “Johnny B. Good” is probably the best song to come out of that era. He is still making good music.

Greatest: Elvis Presley

Was he a prolific song writer a’la Chuck Berry? No. Was Elvis a good singer? He was pretty good. Elvis is the greatest simply because of impact and longevity. Elvis brought what was a fringe branch of R&B music that was only played in African American music venues and made it mainstream. He didn’t invent Rock & Roll. I don’t know if he ever even wrote a song. He did, however, catapult Rock & Roll into people’s living rooms. He de-virginized the eyes of countless young women with his rhythmic hip gyrations to help loosen an uptight society. Not to mention, his songs are great. Most of them are covers that African-American musicians did, but he did great and entertaining renditions of them. I would say musically, a lot of them are also done better. He is, plain and simple, a cultural icon.

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Elvis’ “Jungle Room” in Graceland from my 2012 visit.

I understand Elvis’ greater success than Chuck Berry is owed to the fact that he was White. Chuck Berry was an African American guy and at the time that just wasn’t what mainstream audiences would find acceptable. Chuck Berry was also older and not nearly as good looking as Elvis, so I think that hurt him a bit too.

People don’t travel from all over the world to see Chuck Berry’s horribly decorated mansion, do they?

What other Best vs. Greatest comparisons can you make?

Random Observations, Quotes, Witticisms

Every-so-often I will probably post one-line thoughts, jokes, or quotes that I heard, wrote down, or posted on Facebook so here we go:

  • I’ve been reading a bit of Thought Catalog and have arrived at the conclusion that the Millennial Generation (of which I am a part) have surpassed all other generations…. in whinyness.
  • From my girlfriend, Melanie:
    • Q:What part of the world do bad jokes come from?
    • A: The Yuckatan Penninsula.
  • “History is the autobiography of a madman.” -Alexander Herzen (via Hardcore History)
  • There will come a point when I’m older and technology will have surpassed me, and young people will get frustrated trying to explain it to me.
  • The tragedy of youth is the inability to see the long game.
  • Life is so much better with the love of a good woman.
  • Is it wrong that one of the joys of my job is screwing with telemarketers?
  • My friend said he liked ” hot chicks on skateboards” one morning so I made him this before I went to work. hot chicks on skateboard
  • Helpful hint: wash your hands thoroughly before peeing if you have recently cut jalapeno peppers.
  • Too many options are not good: I hate going to a bar and having to choose between 200 beers. I found the solution (for most bars)… keep your choices to whatever is on tap.
  • My good friend Brendan asked me the other day why I like history so much. The only response I could think of was “because it’s (expletive)ing cool.”
  • I wish teleportation was a thing. How close are we to that?
  • Good Punk band name: “Terms and Conditions.” Feel free to steal.
  • “Our mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s how we grow.” – Padme Amidala from Attack of the Clones
  • Pictures cannot possibly capture how massive the Pantheon in Paris is.
  • When I was at the Louvre I thought “Man, no wonder France went bankrupt and the peasants revolted.”
  • The more life I experience, the more I see how accurate famous quotes are.
  • When I was outside of the Buckingham palace, I was thinking: “What if the Queen is in there right now, sitting on the toilet constipated looking out at us?”
  • Smiling panhandlers: frauds….. or very driven?
  • You have at least one thing in common with everyone.
  • My definition of Heroism: giving up what you want most for the greater good.
  • A few political alliterations (or as I call them, “Politicalliterations”) I came up with during the 2012 election while working at a political survey call center:
    • Conniving Congress constantly contrives constitutional contradictions; continuously conning constituents.
    • Research regarding Romney’s record reveal recondite rhetoric regarding Republican requisites; riling Ron’s rabble-rousers. (Ron being Ron Paul)
    • Obama’s organization offends olfactory senses.
    • Bit-by-bit Barack belligerently brings Big Brother. Beware, Boener backs Barack’s Big Brother bills by berating big budgets; blinding beings.
  • A High Five without touching hands = Wi-Five.
  • I should have read more of the assigned books in High School. I’d be much more well-read.
  • Some people complain about turning 30 years old. I turn 30 this year and I’m way more awesome now than I was at 20.