Book Review: 10% Happier

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story - Dan Harris

Dan provides a first hand account of his struggles through personal insecurity, war zones, drug addictions, therapy, religion, and self help, ultimately settling on the meditation and philosophy (but not mysticism) of Buddhism.  I had a lot of trouble putting the book down.  

With other books on meditation or enlightenment, I have always been left with the questions: "Yes, but what does the path of improvement feel like?  How much better do things get?  What should I expect?".  Dan provides his experience over the first four years of this path, all the while trying to offset his "zen" with a demanding and competitive career, in an honest and enlightening manner.

I'd probably recommend this book first for introducing "regular" people to meditation.

Book Review: Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin

Goodwin gives a lengthy, but enjoyable, retelling of the lives of Abraham Lincoln, William Seward, Salmon Chase, and Edward Bates, the four nominees for the Republican party in 1860, up to and through Lincoln's two terms.  Despite the fact that none of his rivals had very much respect for him and all essentially believed that they should have been nominated over him, Lincoln was able to convince and retain all of them in his cabinet.  Before reading the book, I already had immense respect for Lincoln.  After, it has at least doubled.

Book Review: Inefficient Market Theory

I'm happy to announce that my good friend and partner, Jeff Hood, has just published his first book:
Inefficient Market Theory: An Investment Framework Based on the Foolishness of the Crowd

Here's Jeff's summary of the book:
Efficient Market Theory is based largely on the concept of crowd wisdom – that a large group of people casting their collective votes in the stock market produces correct stock prices and hence an “efficient market.” However, we know from experience that the stock market is not entirely efficient, and sometimes produces wildly incorrect prices. This book explores the various criteria that are required for crowd wisdom to manifest in a financial marketplace, these being: 1) incentives; 2) independence; 3) diversity of opinion; 4) decentralization; 5) knowledge; and 6) rationality. A fundamental premise of this book is that a proper understanding of crowd wisdom criteria, and the ability to detect when these criteria are lacking in the market, is a significant benefit in identifying mispriced securities. In particular, this book explores the various behavioral and psychological biases that affect market participants, what we call the “Foolishness of the Crowd.” The predictability of this Foolishness, i.e., the predictability of these biases in a crowd setting such as the stock market, produces reliable offsets from crowd wisdom, i.e., stock mispricings. This book then proposes an investment framework based in part on the investor’s “inefficient rationale” – his articulated understanding, based on the above crowd wisdom criteria, as to exactly why the market is mispricing a particular stock. The investment framework also utilizes the wisdom from a select value investing crowd to both identify and help confirm good investment opportunities. The investor who adheres to this investment framework essentially places the full benefit of crowd wisdom and knowledge into his corner, including both the wisdom of the crowd and predictable departures from this wisdom. To the investor schooled in wisdom of the crowd criteria, these predictable departures act as signposts for great investments.
Everyone go buy it!

My Deep Dish Pizza Recipe

I've been working on this a bit on my travels, and I've gotten it into pretty good form these days (although it is still being refined).

Dough (from Ben, with minor variations, made the night before pizza day):

Based on:

330g water
330g bread flour (with preference for King Arthur's)
10-15g salt (depending on preference, I'm moving down from 15g next time)
1 package of yeast

Mix, should be a little more consistent than pancake batter. Let set for 20m.

Slowly add in 180g of whole wheat flour, mixing it in.
Note from Ben on last part: This last part I do by feel mostly, I often go slightly over the 180g. The end product should be a dough that is sticky after flour is mixed in, but a workable dough ball after adding a bit of flour. You won't hurt anything badly if you add extra flour.

Line a bowl with just a touch of olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, put in the fridge and let rise overnight.

Sauce (this is how I make mine, typically, and the day of, allow for several hours (at least 2) of cook/prep time)
olive oil
1 medium/large onion (yellow or white) - cook until mostly translucent, then add
1 bulb of garlic, minced finely - cook both onion and garlic until well cooked
3-5 links of italian sausage (optional for the vegetarians), cook until done
2-4 fresh tomatoes, diced (cook for a little while to soften them up by themselves
1 large can of crushed/whole peeled/diced/whatever tomatoes (preferably no salt added)
1 normal can of tomato sauce (preferably no salt added)

Now, spice the hell out of it. Easy version is ~half a bottle of italian seasoning. My spicing is something like:
1 diced package of fresh basil
a lot of oregano
a good amount of black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and other italian spices
red pepper flakes (enough for some back heat)
a touch of sodium bicarbonate to get rid of some acid (I believe that is baking soda, but I always forget and have to look)
a little bit of brown sugar

Cook it down to a good consistency, then
salt to taste
add a little red wine for awesome color and taste profile

then let it cook that off briefly

Optionals that I like:
full package of spinach, if you want that in the sauce, added towards the end
pesto, for added green flavor awesomeness

Pizza Time:
Roll out your dough somewhat thinly and line a lightly oiled ~10-12" cast iron, up to the brim, cut off excess dough
put any toppings you like down, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, red onions, etc.
put your cheese down, with a focus on mozzarella, make this a very decent layer
add sauce in up to the brim

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
cook pizza for ~45 minutes, mostly just watching the nature of the dough on the sides and underneath

remove from oven
transfer pizza from cast iron to cutting board/area
let sit for 5-10 minutes
cut into eights

In Honor of Robin Williams

What will your verse be?

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

Book Review: Search Inside Yourself

I just finished reading Search Inside Yourself, which is a book on Emotional Intelligence written by an early Google Employee. The premise of the book is that everyone can lead a happier, more productive life via mental training, with a focus on mindful meditation. The beginning of the book provides a pragmatic, science-based approach to mindful meditation, which I appreciated quite a bit. Later, it focuses on emotional awareness and how to interact with people, which I found to be good, but not as impactful as the beginning. For a lot of the social interaction aspects, I probably prefer "How to Win Friends and Influence People", which I plan to read yearly for the rest of my life, but it wasn't certainly good to read.

I've been doing this for quite a while and have already noticed some pretty substantial impacts on general outlook and changes in how my mind works (or at least how it feels like my mind works). If you are interested, there are a variety of things to watch/read, depending on how much time you want to invest:

The shortest, and which provides a good overview, is the Google Talk given by Meng:

Or, you can go to the Search Inside Yourself, video course:

Or, you can read the book, which has more detail than all of the above:

Recent Books

As I've read a ton of books in the past while, I'm just going to post a list.  I plan on posting reviews as I finish books of interest, going forward.


The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

Double Your Profits: In Six Months or Less


The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Shipping Man


Poor Richard's Almanac

How To Win Friends and Influence People

Tao of Pooh

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Siddhartha: An Indian Tale

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

Buddhism without Beliefs

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

The Alchemist Resurrection!

After closing in light of launching Austin Value Capital, I decided to relaunch it as  I plan on using it as an area to post projects that I'm working on (e.g., writing) as well as periodic blog posts.  I'll probably mainly use it to post reviews of books I'm reading, but perhaps other content as well.