How to Be Jason Bourne: Multiple Passports, Swiss Banking, and Crossing Borders

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Is it possible to become invisible without breaking the law? (Photo: gravitywave)

LOS ANGELES, MID-JUNE 2008

Sitting on a plush couch in the neon-infused nightclub, I asked again:

“What’s it about?”

Neil Strauss glanced around and looked nervous, which I found strange. After all, we’d known each other for close to two years now. In fact, he was – as New York Times bestselling author of The Game and others – one of the first people to see the proposal for The 4-Hour Workweek and offer me encouragement.

“C’mon, dude, give me a break. Don’t you trust me?”

“Guilt. That’s good. Use guilt,” Neil said. But the Woody Allen approach wasn’t working.

“I can’t let the meme out early” he said, “I trust you—I’m just paranoid,” he offered to no one in particular as he downed another RedBull. So I fired a shot in the dark.

“What, are you writing about the 5 Flags or something?”

Neil’s heart skipped a beat and he stared at me for several long seconds. He was stunned.

“What do you know about the 5 Flags?”

I was in.

The 5 Flags

Neil’s new book, Emergency, teaches you how to become Jason Bourne.

Multiple passports, moving assets, lock-picking, escape and evasion, foraging, even how to cross borders without detection (one preferred location: McAllen, Texas, page 390)–it’s a veritable encyclopedia of for those who want to disappear or become lawsuit-proof global citizens…

I proofread the book months ago, and it’s been torture to keep some of the content from you, as I find the topics endlessly fascinating. For example, let’s take the concept of “geoarbitrage” to it’s natural but extreme extension: The 5 Flags. I was first introduced to the 5 Flags approach by a deca-millionaire in San Francisco, but here is Neil’s explanation:

“The way to break free of nationality, according to Schultz’s pamphlet, was to follow a three-flag system. The three flags consist of having a second passport, a safe location for your assets in another country, and a legal address in a tax haven. To these, Hill added a fourth and fifth flag: an additional country as a business base and a number of what he called ‘playground countries’ in which to spend leisure time.”

I never implemented the 5 Flags, but I fantasized about getting a second passport and the infinite options it could provide. Neil actually went out and did it.

I’ll get stopped at the airport in a lock-down; Neil won’t. If the FDIC collapses and bank withdrawals are blocked (as happened in Argentina in 2002 when the currency collapsed due to hyperinflation), I’m out of business; Neil has assets elsewhere.

Do I think the US banks are all going to collapse? Not at all. Do I think it’s intelligent to have a lot of options? Indeed. Do I think it’s fun to read about what billionaires and money launderers do, even if I don’t imitate them? Most definitely.

I’m very happy to offer you an exclusive first look at Emergency. Get this book. The following excerpts will set your mind spinning. Ellipses indicate skipped passages.

Lesson 22 – The Gone With the Wind Guide to Asset Protection

If you wanted to withdraw your entire life savings and move it to a bank in Switzerland, what would you do?

Now that I’d decided to hide my assets offshore, the information from the Sovereign Society conference about the government tracking withdrawals and transfers of more than $10,000 applied to me. It seemed impossible to get the money from my American bank to the Swiss bank Spencer recommended without ringing alarm bells. Even if I moved it in small increments, there would still be a paper trail detailing exactly how much money I’d transferred.

So I did what any resourceful American would do: I bought a book on money laundering.

After all, it isn’t a crime to move money secretly as long as the income’s been reported to the IRS and any other necessary reporting requirements are met. And my intention wasn’t to hide my earnings from the government, customs, or creditors, but to protect it from bank collapses, inflation, seizure, and lawsuits, which required leaving few traces of where it went.

Securing money overseas is not a new idea. Even in the novel Gone With the Wind, Rhett butler keeps his earnings in offshore banks, enabling him to buy a house for Scarlett o’Hara after the Civil War—in contrast to his Southern colleagues, who lose their fortunes due to blockades, inflation, and financial collapse.

For more practical, non-fictional inspiration, I bought Jeffrey Robinson’s 1996 book The Laundrymen. I’d always wondered how empty video stores renting movies for $3 a day could stay in business, and why I’d see Russian thugs running clearly unprofitable frozen yogurt stands on deserted side streets. According to Robinson, it’s because, in order to make illegal funds appear legitimate, crooks will slowly feed the money into the cash registers of a normal business.

“It’s almost impossible to spot an extra $500 coming in daily through the tills of a storefront stocked with 15,000 videos,” he writes. “Nor would anyone’s suspicions necessarily be raised if that same owner ran a chain of twenty video rental stores and, backed up with the appropriate audits, awarded himself an annual bonus of $3.96 million.”

Buried elsewhere in Robinson’s book was the answer I was looking for. The best legal way to surreptitiously move money, it seems, is to buy something that doesn’t lose its cash value when purchased. For example, there’s a black market for people who transfer money by buying expensive jewelry, art, watches, and collectibles, then selling them in their destination country for a small loss—usually no greater than the percentage banks charge for exchanging currencies.

So once AIG private bank in Switzerland returned my phone call—assuming that, unlike Spencer’s [a billionaire who appears earlier in the book] lawyer, they were actually willing to work with me—I planned to go shopping for rare coins.

But if it was all so legitimate, why did it feel so wrong?

While I waited to hear from the Swiss bank, I drove to Burbank to meet with the asset protection lawyers Spencer had recommended, Tarasov and Associates. The receptionist led me into a room with black-and-silver wallpaper where Alex Tarasov sat at a large mahogany desk with a yellow legal pad in front of him. With this pad, he would rearrange my business life forever.

“You did a very smart thing by coming here,” Tarasov said. Twenty- five years ago, he had probably been a frat boy. Maybe even played varsity football. But a quarter century spent sitting at desks scrutinizing legal papers had removed all evidence of health from his skin and physique. “By taking everything you own out of your name, we can hide it from lawyers trying to do an asset search on you.”

“So if they sue me and win, they won’t be able to get anything?”

“We can make it very difficult for them to find the things you own and get at them. It’s not impossible, but the deeper we bury your assets, the more money it’s going to cost to find out where they are. And if we can make that time and cost greater than the worth of the assets, then you’re in good shape.”

Like Spencer had said, this was just insurance. The cost of setting this up would be like taking out a policy against lawsuits.

“So what do you own?” he asked.

I laid it all out for him. “I have a house I’m still paying for. I have some stocks and bonds my grandparents gave me when I was a kid. I have a checking and a savings account. And I have the copyrights to my books.” I paused, trying to remember if I owned anything else. I thought there was more. “I guess that’s about it. I have a secondhand Dodge Durango, I guess. And a 1972 corvette that doesn’t work.”

In truth, I didn’t own that much. But ever since my first college job, standing over a greasy grill making omelets and grilled cheese sandwiches, I had started putting money in the bank. Since then, I’d saved enough to live on for a year or two if I ever fell on hard times or just wanted to see the world. I didn’t want to lose the freedom that came from having a financial cushion and not being in debt for anything besides my house.

“Here’s what we can do,” Tarasov said. He then sketched this diagram on his legal pad:

The stick figure was me. as for the boxes, I had no idea what those were. “These are boxes,” Tarasov explained. I was clearly getting the asset-protection-for-dummies lecture. “Each box represents a different LLC”—limited liability company. “If we can wrap everything in an LLC, and then all those LLCs are owned by a holding company, and that holding company is owned by a trust that you don’t even technically own, then you’re safe.”

I liked that last word. But I didn’t understand the rest of it.

“So we’re just basically making everything really complicated?” I asked.

“That’s the idea. We’ll even put your house in a separate LLC, so that if someone trips and falls, they can’t get at anything else you own.”

When Tarasov was through explaining everything, I couldn’t tell whether I was protecting myself from being scammed or actually being scammed myself. But I trusted Spencer, because he seemed too rich, too smart, and too paranoid to get taken in. So I told Tarasov to start wrapping me up in LLCs until my net-worth was whatever spending money I had in my pocket.

“Once we have these entities set up, we can talk about transferring them to offshore corporations,” Tarasov said as I left.

Lesson 54 – Secrets of Escaped Felons

Kelly Alwood didn’t say a word as he handcuffed my hands behind my back, opened the trunk of a rental car, and ordered me to get inside. With his shaven head, which looked like it could break bottles; his glassy green eyes, which revealed no emotion whatsoever; and the .32 caliber pistol hanging from a chain around his neck, he didn’t seem like the kind of person to cross.

As he shut the trunk over my head, the blue sky of Oklahoma City disappeared, replaced by claustrophobic darkness and new-car smell. Instantly, panic set in.

I took a deep breath and tried to remember what I’d learned. I curled my right leg as far up my body as it would go and dipped my cuffed hands down until I could reach my sock. Inside, I’d stashed the straight half of a bobby pin, which I’d modified by making a perpendicular bend a quarter inch from the top. I removed the pin, stuck the bent end into the inner edge of the handcuff keyhole, and twisted the bobby pin down against the lever inside until I felt it give way.

As I twisted my wrist against the metal, I heard a fast series of clicks, the sound of freedom as the two ends of the cuff disengaged. I released my hand, then made a discovery few people who haven’t been stuffed inside a trunk know: most new cars have a release handle on the inside of the boot that, conveniently, glows in the dark. I pulled on the handle and emerged into the light.

“Thirty-nine seconds,” Alwood said as I climbed out of the trunk. “Not bad.”

I couldn’t believe classes like this even existed. In the last forty-eight hours, I’d learned to hotwire a car, pick locks, conceal my identity, and escape from handcuffs, flexi-cuffs, ducttape, rope, and nearly every other type of restraint.

The course was Urban Escape and Evasion, which offered the type of instruction I’d been looking for to balance my wilderness knowledge. The objective of the class was to learn to survive in a city as a fugitive. Most of the students were soldiers and contractors who’d either been in Iraq or were about to go, and wanted to know how to safely get back to the Green Zone if trapped behind enemy lines.

The class was run by a company called onPoint Tactical. Like most survival schools, its roots led straight to Tom Brown. Its founder, Kevin Reeve, had been the director of Tracker School for seven years before setting off on his own to train navy SEALS, Special Forces units, SWAT teams, parajumpers, marines, snipers, and even SERE instructors. As a bounty hunter, his partner, Alwood, had worked with the FBI and Secret Service to help capture criminals on the Most Wanted list.

As the sun set, we drove to an abandoned junkyard, where Reeve let us practice throwing chips of ceramic insulation from spark plugs to shatter car windows, using generic keys known as jigglers to open automobile doors, and starting cars by sticking a screwdriver in the ignition switch and turning it with a wrench.

As I popped open the trunk on a Dodge with my new set of jigglers, I thought, This is the coolest class I’ve ever taken in my life.

Over a barbecue dinner later that night, Reeve asked why I’d signed up for the course. “I think things have changed for my generation,” I told him. “We were born with a silver spoon in our mouths, but now it’s being removed. And most of us never learned how to take care of ourselves. So I’ve spent the last two years trying to get the skills and documents I need to prepare for an uncertain future.”

I’d never actually verbalized it before. I’d just been reacting and scrambling as the pressure ratcheted up around me. Reeve looked at Alwood silently as I spoke. For a moment, I worried that I’d been too candid. Then he smiled broadly. “You’re talking to the right people. That’s what we’ve been thinking. Kelly has caches all over the country—and in Europe.”

Lesson 28 – Calculate the Odds That You’re In Jail Right Now

ST. KITTS, EASTERN CARIBBEAN

In a few days, I’d be committed to an expense of over half a million dollars, which was more money than I had.

And what was it all for? Symbolic paper. A passport, which is just a teeny little booklet that means nothing to the universe. Realistically, the world wasn’t likely to end in my lifetime. And if it did, everyone on St. Kitts would be just as dead as everyone in America.

If there were a smaller-scale world disaster, things would probably be even worse on an island in the Caribbean, where I was more likely to be a victim of food shortages, droughts, hurricanes, blackouts, and tsunamis. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide on an island—especially one in the smallest country in the Americas. I’d become so focused on my search for a passport—so consumed with escaping the blowback of American politics—that I’d forgotten the survivalist lessons I’d learned on Y2K and 9/11.

Soon, the whole endeavor began to seem like the biggest travesty ever. If something horrible happened in America, would a St. Kitts passport even get me out during a state of emergency? What if it was confiscated by customs agents? Or what if Victor, Maxwell, and Wendell were in collusion and just ripping me off? I didn’t have anyone to protect me here.

Once I’d ridden out that wave of anxiety, a new one formed. I began worrying that I’d blabbed my name and occupation to too many people. If they Googled me and saw the filth I’d written, they might not sell me the apartment or give me a citizenship. And then I’d be stuck in America if anything bad happened.

And so it went, all night, one wave of anxiety after another—half of them spent worrying that I wouldn’t get a passport, the other half spent worrying that I would.

I fell asleep around dawn for a few fitful hours, until I was woken by my cell phone. AIG Private Bank was finally returning my call.

Every day, my small savings were dwindling as the dollar dropped relative not just to the euro, but even to the Caribbean currency here. I never thought I’d see the day when Eastern Europeans came to the United States for the cheap shopping.

“I’d like to inquire about opening a private banking account,” I told the woman.

“Great,” she said, with barely a trace of a Swiss accent. “Let me ask you a few questions.”

“Sure.”

“Are you an American citizen?”

“Yes, I am.”

“We don’t deal with American citizens for a few years now.”

“But my friend Spencer Booth is American, and I think he has an account with you.”

“It’s likely an older account. We don’t do business with American citizens anymore. Sorry, good-bye.”

Before I could respond, she had hung up. I felt like an outcast. I couldn’t believe a bank wouldn’t take my money solely because I was American.

I’d noticed that many of the banks I’d researched had special policies for dealing with United States citizens. Even some of the online companies selling vintage travel documents said they no longer shipped to America because U.S. customs agents were opening and confiscating the packages. The government seemed to be sticking its nose everywhere.

In the meantime, I’d discovered a few other interesting facts: according to a report issued by Reporters Without Borders, the United States was ranked as having the fifty-third freest press in the world, tied with Botswana and Croatia. According to the World Health organization, the United States had the fifty-fourth fairest health care system in the world, with lack of medical coverage leading to an estimated 18,000 unnecessary deaths a year. And according to the Justice Department, one in every thirty-two Americans was in jail, on probation, or on parole.

Rather than having actual freedom, it seemed that, like animals in a habitat in the zoo, we had only the illusion of freedom. As long as we didn’t try to leave the cage, we’d never know we weren’t actually free.

That phone call was all it took to let me know I was doing the right thing.

Before going home, I had dinner with Wendell at a restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf [in St. Kitts, not San Francisco] and thanked him for his help.

After the meal, he patted my shoulder and smiled. “Next time I see you, you’ll be a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis just like me,” he said. “When you get married, your wife will be a citizen. And when you have kids, so will they.”

He stepped into his SUV, started the engine, then unrolled the window and concluded his thought: “One day,” he said, beaming, “when you come back to America, no one will recognize you. You’ll be a Kittitian.”

At the St. Kitts airport the next morning, I felt like I was returning not to a country but a fortress. “Your country is so tough to get into,” the ticket agent complained as she checked my documents for the flight home. “They make it so hard for us.”

She looked up at me and said it louder, almost with venom, as if it were my fault. “They make it so hard for us.”

She wasn’t alone in her opinion. A survey released the previous month by the Discover America Partnership had found that international travelers considered America the least-friendly country to visit.

“That’s why,” I told her, with the newfound pride that Wendell had instilled in me, “I’m moving here.”

Lesson 59 – Iceland is the New Caribbean

Maybe it was when Bear Stearns became the first brokerage house to be rescued by the government since the Great Depression.

Maybe it was when IndyMac became the fifth American bank to fail in recent months.

Maybe it was when the government gave customs agents authority to confiscate, copy, and analyze any laptop or data storage device brought across the border.

Maybe it was the unshakable sense that the worst was still to come.

But I was no longer alone.

It was a hot summer, and pessimism hung thick in the air. Most people I talked to felt as if they were inching closer to some darkness they couldn’t understand, because they’d never experienced it before and didn’t know what it held.

Even Spencer’s housemate Howard, who had once made fun of us for taking precautionary measures, was now looking into Caribbean islands. As it turned out, he would beat all of us there when his company collapsed and he had to hide from possible indictment.

“I’m so glad we started preparing ahead,” Spencer told me over dinner at the Chateau Marmont, where he was staying in Los Angeles.

Having struck out with the Swiss, I took Spencer’s advice and opened an account with a Canadian bank that had a branch in St. Kitts. Since both Canada and St. Kitts are part of the British Commonwealth, he’d explained, I would have easy access to my money if anything happened in America. Unfortunately, in the process, I discovered that keeping international accounts secret is now illegal: the IRS requires Americans with over $10,000 in foreign accounts to file an annual report disclosing not just the amount of money and the banks it’s kept in, but the account numbers.

Meanwhile, Spencer was moving forward with his ten-year plan. He started an Internet business in Singapore, enabling him to open a private banking account in the country, which he claimed was fast becoming the new Switzerland. Though he hadn’t gotten his St. Kitts passport yet either, Spencer had done more research into buying an island.

“I’m looking at islands in the north, around Iceland, because no one will think of looking for anyone there,” Spencer said, his thick lips spreading into a self-satisfied smile. “If I can get some other B people [billionaires] to go there with me, we can build underground homes and use geothermal energy.”

“What about your submarine?”

“It’s a great way to move between islands undetected, but we’re running out of time. We need to move faster. This is only the beginning.”

“How bad do you think it’s going to get?” Spencer seemed to understand the economy at a higher level than most people did, perhaps because he knew so many of the people who ran it.

“I don’t think the whole country’s going to collapse, but we’re looking at the worst economic disaster in America since the Great Depression. What I’m also concerned about is the increase in violent crime that’s going to accompany this.”

Everywhere I went that summer, the demon of Just in Case seemed to follow me, growling in my ear louder than it ever had, its jaws terrifyingly close to my jugular. I’d learned so much, changed so much, tested myself so much. It now was time to stop preparing, turn around, and face the demon—and my fears—head on.

And a musician would lead me there.

###

Note from Tim:  If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll love my extended interview of author Neil Strauss on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Click below to stream or you can find it on iTunes (see #15):

Also — If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”

 

Posted on: March 3, 2009.

Please check out Tools of Titans, my latest book, which shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. It was distilled from more than 10,000 pages of notes, and everything has been vetted and tested in my own life in some fashion. The tips and tricks in Tools of Titans changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for sample chapters, full details, and a Foreword from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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364 comments on “How to Be Jason Bourne: Multiple Passports, Swiss Banking, and Crossing Borders

  1. I agree this is interesting reading and seems many people here love the idea of having spread there assets all over the world. However this strategy is not so easily implemented. I have enough trouble trying to manage a checking account, savings account, a stock trading account, and one on-line bank account. I think people are over-looking the idea that the United States is the most stable place in the world to have your assets. Yes, there are risks everywhere, but if you live here, just go ahead and learn about the risks, and minimize them while at the same time keeping your life simple. If you have accounts in St, Kitts, Iceland, Singapore, etc…you better know the power those governments have, monetary policy, and the regulations that affect the accounts. Don’t get paranoid. If the US banking system goes down, so does the rest of the wealth in the world, so it seems logical to me that the US is a safe place to keep your money. St Kitts on the other hand…if their banking system collapses…who’s going to care? Only a couple beach bums and those people who paid an attorney $450/hr to spread their assets between 5 countries and 10 LLCs.

    Like

  2. Tim! I freakin love you right now. Being 21 and in college, my 2 biggest role models for handling my fears and attaining my goals have been you and Neil for well over a year now. I should have realized that you two would know each other. That being said, this pretty much made my year. I look forward to this, and adopting more techniques into living “pura vida.”

    Tim, you rock. I think i might have a man crush on you.

    take care man!

    Like

  3. Wicked post! Your blog is a great find, I will be back again soon.
    CHeers
    My contribution
    “Man should never fear death, but man should fear never having lived” Aristotle

    Sorry about the first post, I hadn’t read the comment rules.

    Peace out!

    Like

  4. I was using Liechtenstein as a reality check. Off-shore accounts = fishiness, which most likely lead to fraud. If you want to be your own independent citizen, that’s fine, leave the US. Stop mooching.

    Like

  5. My wife just sat down next to me & saw the page title, “How to be Jason Bourne”. She can’t stop laughing at me, says we can all have dreams but I won’t live this down…

    I’m sticking to my guns. Great read!

    Like

  6. Hi Tim, you might be interested in researching how Ikea is structured. The founder only owns a single copyright, yet controls billions in multiple layers of corporations across many countries.

    For everyone else, the trick about using all the LLCs for asset protection usually isn’t worth it unless you have hundreds of thousands. The hassle and cost to keep them registered is not worth it. Liability insurance covers most of your protection.

    Also, for money transfers, consider e-gold (maybe it has new restrictions?), or the digital currency the Russians use.

    Like

  7. I’ve always wanted to be Jason Bourne. That is I want to wake up one day to discover I know how to fight, speak a multitude of languages and have a private box at a Swiss bank.

    Like

  8. Neil re: the green zone

    My apologies, I had been watching ‘Ross Kemp in Afghanistan’ for the last few days where they referenced the green zone in a different way – forgot it was Iraq you meant.

    The difference in our fact checking skills is why only one of us is writing best sellers.

    Tom

    Like

  9. I have citizenship and passports for two countries, and legal permanent residence in a third. Now, given that you will most likely spend 50% of your trips through the airport immigration and customs of one of your countries of citizenship, you will discover the very nice (and simple!) benefits of having multiple passports:

    As between “citizen” and “foreigner”, you always get to choose the shorter line.

    Like

  10. Holy schmackers.. what an extraordinary post Tim.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on Neil’s book. Hopefully it’s delivery to my parts of the world is speedy!

    Like

  11. I know I’m being a hater here but Style is lying when he says this

    “Since then, I’d saved enough to live on for a year or two if I ever fell on hard times or just wanted to see the world.”

    He’s a milliionaire several times over from selling his annhilation method and alls his other pick up products. Not to mention his bestselling books.

    Like

  12. Think globally. Act locally. I attained a passport from another country this year. I also put some money in a Vanguard emerging foreign markets ETF and dollar cost average as commodities prices continue to drop. I heard R. Kiyosaki once say that this is “God’s money” and is a great trade for the ever diluting (man-made) American dollar. For buying gold or silver outright it is a great idea to think about storing overseas…now. Let’s not forget FDR’s gold seizure in ’33 which subsequently prevented anyone to do this after the bubbles of the ’20s. Those that don’t know their history..(well..you know the rest)

    Like

  13. Tim!

    I’ve gotta’ say, as a huge fan of this writing genre. . .you’re intro to this post was RIGHT ON THE MARK! What a crazy intro hook to a great spy novel. If you’re next book is a thriller, or a screenplay for a thriller, I’d say you’ve got some good chops to make it work.

    Very nice job. . .very cool.

    Cheers,
    Doc

    Like

  14. Amazing, I always knew that an LLC could own my house, however, I still just cant figure it out. And my accountant just asks me why I would ever do something like that. Looks like i need to find a new accountant/lawyer to get me setup…

    Ive already convinced my company to hire my business as a corp to corp instead of keeping me on as a W2 employee, and all my money now funnels into a business instead of my bank account.

    I can’t wait for this book to come out, does it give reference material as to how to accomplish some of these things like your book or is it just full of stories?

    thanks again, ive already purchased the book and am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

    Like

  15. Well that was well worth the watering eyes and congested nose…Sounds like a cool book. Scarily though, it’s reminding me too much of Y2K.

    I knew some people who went as far as to buying Alpine Air foods and moving to the country in preparation!

    Like

  16. Reading this yesterday sent me on a quest reading up on similar materials. I’ve discovered that my wife is eligible for Italian citizenship through her maternal great-grandfather. I became eligible for citizenship after we were married for three years (1996), and our children were eligible at birth.

    While Italy is not exactly a haven of banking and other anonymity like St. Kitts, something tells me that having US citizenship dualled up with one in an EU country could be a valuable asset.

    I’m disappointed this won’t be out for the Kindle, it appears. Or, at least, The Game isn’t. Just this morning I installed the Kindle for iPhone app, and would love to be able to grab this (and The Game) to read digitally. Big demerit to Harper Collins/William Morrow.

    Like

  17. Tim,

    Thanks SO much for this post.
    I really want to break free of the oppressive American system but never have really been sure how to do it. This book seems to give a lot of the right ideas. Keep up the awesome blogging!

    Kevin

    Like

  18. So half this book is about rich assholes trying to think of new ways to screw their country and their fellow man?

    Whatever happened to civic virtue? Christ.

    Like

  19. Both Buffet and Templeton made their fortune investing at the point of maximum pessimism. From this blog post and the rabid responses to it, I’d say it’s about time to invest.

    Like

  20. Neil Strauss and I must be on different wavelengths.
    I linked to the Amazon site and read the following excerpt under the heading of “A Brief Confession.” Neil writes,

    “By the time the Obama administration stepped in with a message of hope and change, it was too late to undo the damage.”

    What sort of “tooth fairy history,” might this be? Neil, the reason I’m interested in the book is BECAUSE of the Obama administration! What sort of “hope and change” have you bought into? Could it be:

    a: policies which redistribute the wealth of productive people.
    b: the corollary of the above which is, “reward drones”
    c: debasing the currency with pointless spending which “stimulates” nothing.

    I could go on and on, but it’s all too depressing.

    On another matter, here’s a “heads up” to Kevin, above. If you really want to break free of the oppressive American system, try Cuba, North Korea or perhaps Zimbabwe. It’s easy to do! Planes and ships leave for these destinations virtually every day. Of course, you’ll want to change any assets into foreign currency also. Try, Zimbabwe! I understand that Bob Mugabe has a firm grip on the economy over there.

    Dadoo

    Like

  21. I LOVE reading about this stuff. Years ago I did a bit of research into all of this and became fascinated with the process.

    Now that I have a baby the practicality of escaping the country fast is not too practical, but it still fascinating and I look forward to reading Neil’s book. Kudo’s.

    Like

  22. I am a dual U.S. / Other citizen. I have two passports, both of which prove convenient. I am also a U.S. attorney specializing in international estates and trusts. I warn against following Neil’s book to the letter. It may give you a ‘cool’ feeling to have your assets in safe havens, but unless you make millions, the transaction costs of doing so, plus the scrutiny it recieves and the possible tax implications and criminal liability makes it not worth it for a majority of people. For an ordinary U.S. citizen, I advise full financial disclosure. Also, an alternate passport will not help you escape trouble in a country if your name is the same on both.
    just some advice

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  23. Hi Tim,

    Very cool idea. I have done a bit of research in this area. Nothing quite Jason Bourne with multiple Passports and bank accounts spread around the world. But research in the living invisible lifestyle.

    Why do you think we live on a sailboat?

    Your Pirate Lifestyle Guru,

    Rob

    Like

  24. So The Game lead to a mass of wannabe Mysteries prowling through the bars repeating the same lines over and over and getting themselves into trouble. Looks like Neil is stepping up his game and creating an army of wannabe james bonds!

    He’s an excellent writer and I couldn’t think of a cooler topic, but I do actually worry about the effects of such a book given his audience.

    Like

  25. I’ve been reading up for years on the pro’s of working offshore, buying citizen-ships with certain small countries and so forth! I must say its interesting and tempting all at the same time….you can buy a passport for as little as $10,000.00 to certain governments to become a dual citizen! I know that there have been new published work outlining the USA and the E.U. working together to start making that world/pool a whole lot smaller to play in!!! So make sure to read everything and move swiftly, you’ll have allot of fun once you take the plunge into the international world 😉 I can’t wait to read his new book or get my hands on a copy.

    Like

  26. Real quick, I do agree with Dan J about his comment ‘but I do actually worry about the effects of such a book given his audience.’ if anyone is reading this that is thinking about doing this offshore work (including you Dan J) please remember you should partner yourself with someone who has been doing this for years or at least make sure you read and re-read the best selling books on the topic…..educate your self or the offshore world will eat you up and spit you out 😉

    Like

  27. I’ve got UK (can live anywhere in Europe) and Australian passports and could immigrate to Israel if I felt like it. My money is split between the US and Australia. My Mom’s assets are in Switzerland, the UK, and Israel (she has Israeli and Australian passports). I guess we did think to spread our assets around, the passports just happened. As my father had to flee Germany in the 1930s I guess this is just in our mindset…

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  28. One thing’s for sure: If McCain-Palin had (God forbid!!) were elected, the sales of this book would sell tenfold more copies. Electing Barack Obama President of the United States has helped tone down for now the fatalism that a book like this cannot help but convey. And if Palin was indeed just one cancerous wart away from the Oval Office, that fatalism would be very well warranted.

    Like

  29. Tim,

    That trip to Vietnam sounds great!

    But I asked if you have taken any mini-retirements since 4HWW. Plenty of wage-slaves go on 2-week trips. Those are vacations.

    I read somewhere that a mini-retirement “entails relocating to one place for one to six months…” 🙂

    So, I take it that you haven’t been on any mini-retirements since 4HWW? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    All the best,
    Edward

    PS. I’m not trying to be prying, just curious.

    Like

  30. Thanks for the great post!

    It is definitely not wise to put all your eggs in one basket, and for that matter, these days it is highly beneficial to look into off shoring assets.

    Hope to see you in Vietnam Ferris!

    Like

  31. I’ve been a fan of this blog for a long time and even though I have found many posts to be useful and interesting, this is my first time commenting. I just want to say thank you, I spent the last hour on the onPoint website which is great and look forward to getting this book as soon as it comes out. This is the kind of thing that I hope I never need to know but want to learn as much as I can about.

    Like

  32. I remember seeing some guest list for a party a while back with both you and Neil on it. I hoped that the two of you would be friends.
    There is no one I would rather see break this news than you.

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  33. Unfortunately this may lead many folks into distraction and wastefulness which seems quite opposite to the usual 4HWW message.

    If you put all of the cleverness and effort into creating a profitable business rather than delving into a paranoid fugitive fantasy – you might be happier with the end result. The only “positive” I can see from side-tracking people into paranoia is less competition for the real value creators.

    Like

  34. I’ve preordered the book – thanks for the entertaining excerpts, Tim. The Dirt and Long Hard Road out of Hell are two of my favorite books as well and I read them repeatedly when I was studying popular music and intending to head down the musician’s road in life.

    Like

  35. Great article about 2nd Passports etc…………….be great if you could further develop the subject of SECURE offshore banks, as Switz is losing its privacy tightness(UBS vsUSA recent developments)
    Singapore is reputed to be pretty good perhaps there are others…………….

    keep the great subjects!!

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  36. now you know what the so-called “B” people have been doing with the money they have been handed for the past 8 years, and why we’re going down the crapper right now. fun to fantasize about being one of them, it must sell a whole bunch of books. Whatever, global warming is going to submerge Iceland, St Kitts, Nevis, ultimately there won’t be anywhere for anyone to hide. ironic that those of us who live lightly, don’t care about stashing billions, have actual relationships with real people, make a contribution to the wellbeing of others, have as rich a life or better than people who are spending so much brain power on paranoia and fulfilling a constant rush of “getting over” .

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  37. Hi Tim-

    Fun article and a great topic to make people think about our own realities that we accept on a daily basis. I think creative problem solving is going to be important in the near term for many people as they try to figure out how to live in the midst of the growing disaster that is our economy.

    That said, I am curious about two things from you. 1) As an entrepreneur and capitalist, I would love to hear your opinion on the plans that the current administration is putting in place to “fix” the economy. You mentioned you supported Obama during the election, and I am wondering if you feel let down in anyway. (ie., 9000 earmarks in current budget, untraceable bailout funds) 2) Can you put together a future post on how one might apply your problem solving skills and optimistic attitude to prosper in the face of the current economy and obvious increase in government involvement in our daily lives?

    By the way, I think the previous administration contributed a ton to our misfortune of today (as well as congress). So my questions above are not a political statement one way or the other.

    thx

    Jaq

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  38. I’ve been living the offshore life ever since I left school, even before. I read the Hill books as a teenager and later Bye Bye Big Brother when it came out. But the thing you have to realise about these things, is sometimes it is good to declare high income and pay tax. That’s especially true in my business, which was real estate, because otherwise no bank will lend you anything, and you have to rely on credit in real estate.

    Of course, you can still live as a PT individually, if you have reliable people to head up your organization and take instructions from you. When I told the German tax department I was unemployed and living in Mexico, they just deleted me from their system and send me a sheet with all zeros…

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  39. I am an attorney and from time to time I have collected assets from people and corporations.

    First, in California where I practice, and in several other states, when you are enforce a judgment against someone, you have the right to place that person under oath and question him or her about assets. So all of the maneuvering and chicanery you outline above re hiding assets will be useless unless you are also willing to commit perjury. And perjury’s a felony where jail time is a possibility.

    Second, I have no knowledge of the attorney mentioned above and the following is not directed at him specifically. That said, I have represented clients in the past in suits against individuals who purported to have expertise in setting up trusts to hide assets. Unfortunately, the “trust experts” were scammers who created elaborate offshore structures to receive funds from the individuals and then proceeded to separate the individuals from their funds. So, if you don’t have much expertise in exotic financial instruments and foreign legal entities, you damn well better be a good judge of character before you place your financial life in the hands of a stranger.

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  40. Lance Spicer in Australia has had books out with ALL and more of this content for years in ‘The Underground Knowledge’ series. Go to http://www.tridentpress.com.au to check it out. That said I will still be buying Neil’s book.

    Tim, great post but I don’t really believe this is the type of material that should be introduced into ‘pop culture’ and made so obvious to the relevant authorities.

    Cheer,
    Dave

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  41. First time poster here…

    @Philipe Navarro
    In answer to the question of legal dual citizenship with the USA, there’s a loophole in the law. Technically one is legally obligated to give up one’s US citizenship when acquiring citizenship from another country. However, this law is impossible to legally enforce, (so far anyway), as the courts have ruled that a US citizen may not be stripped of their citizenship without a damn good reason and that wasn’t good enough.
    So get your second, third, etc passport and just keep your mouth shut and even if “they” find out there’s nothing to be done about it.

    (In a somewhat unrelated side-note, it might be of interest to some that a US passport is NOT actually proof of US citizenship.)

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  42. Tim, your about the only author…scratch that… the only person I know that will influence my purchasing decisions on books with such ease. I read about two paragraphs before I pre ordered the book.

    But I did it with money from my ridiculously successful muse that you deserve much credit for… lol So thanks and look forward to this..

    P.S. (I’ve ready pretty much every other book you recommended in the back of the 4HWW, all good)

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  43. Neil and Tim, keep up the good work.

    Anyone know where I can buy the EMERGENCY ebook prior to March 24th?

    I moved out of the US before the economic downturn. Now that my contract is coming to a close, I’m not so sure I want to go back. The timing of this book is amazing.

    Andy

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  44. Hi, All.

    Just to let you guys know that, Neil is having a book signing on March 10th, in New York City. Visit his or Barnes and Noble’s website for the location.

    Thanks

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  45. Thanks so much for the awesome comments, all! This has proven to be a really fun post. I have to get some sleep here in Hanoi, Vietnam, as I’m off to Ha Long Bay tomorrow (excited!) and a 3-hour ride awaits early tomorrow. Should be fun as we wind our way to Ho Chi Minh city. So far, Vietnam is fantastic.

    All the best,

    Tim

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  46. I cant believe it! Someone is actually doing it. I have always thought that it was possible to live that way, I just didn’t know how. Other than MAYBE two of my friends who are of like mind, everyone just assumed I was a classic slacker. (To some extent they may be right.) The part of passive income I hardly knew it existed! what little I did know I figured it was for rich people. I feel that I am a well rounded, good matured guy, I am just trying to figure how to establish my financial resources. I have always done what I wanted to an extent but never have had the finances/know how to REALLY go all out. I have found similar blogs,web sights,books etc, and I have begun studying this subculture I recently stumbled on. They say when a student is ready a teacher will appear. I fully am going to immerse my self in all of this. I’m relieved to know I am not alone in my thought process. Accumulating monetary wealth is something I am presently working on. If any one has tips, insight or advice of any kind, I would appreciate it. I know money is not the end all be all, but honestly that is one area of my life that eludes me. Spirituality, Family, attitude and every thing else I have a good handle on, but accumulating financial freedom would definitely allow me to provide a better quality of life for me and my son. Sorry about the long windedness but I feel so charged and enthused. Thank you.

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  47. @jane: I totally agree with you on one level. I wish I could live simply in a beach hut somewhere with no internet. But once you have seen things and understood the world (edication) you can’t go back. Most of us are not billionaires. But I fully support the right of billionaires (or anybody else for that matter) to do what they like with their money – stash it, spend it, whatever. And there are so many restrictions today, especially in places like the USA and UK, that literally restrict our right to spend or even keep our own money.

    I’ve known about PT techniques for years, but am happy to see them going mainstream via this book. It will be a force for the good eventually. We have too much government and government employees have lost all respect for their employers (you and I). If we can’t control our governments through the ballot box, we can control them by voting with our feet and by cutting off their money.

    Making a contribution to the well-being of others is something I believe very strongly in. And supporting big government would be the worst way to do it. That would be making a contribution to the surpression and enslavery of others, not to their well-being.

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  48. This is excellent!!! I’ve been working on my own 4th and 5th flags right now, without even knowing of this “flag” concept!

    I’m very excited about this book now. Thanks, Tim

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  49. nice plug for a seemingly interesting book (you might just get my 20 bucks for it), but any reader of this book should be extremely concerned about the local law and how it effects them before trying anything in the book.

    During the last few years (and very recently) international (i.e between US and EU countries, and within EU and non EU european countries) anti money laundering laws and full transparency on the history of said transactions must be available to law enforcement. Additionally as a US citizen (as also noted above) all monies earned in countries other than the US must still be reported to the US as income (it says this in your passport and in your tax forms).

    Also, (using Swiss Accounts as an example) Switzerland is under intense scrutiny these days by the EU in reference to current Tax havens, and UBS is also being sued by the US for helping people avoid paying taxes in the US. The US has demanded that they had over ~30k names of the account holders.

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  50. This type of strategy makes little sense for someone with a net worth of, say, under $20 million… The costs of administering the trusts and llc’s alone is not insignificant on an annual basis…. Tim, you’re a smart guy, quit bloviating!

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  51. I have read Neil Strauss’ books before. Loved ‘The Game’. Amazing writer that gets you enjoyably trapped in his work. Plus, who hasn’t wanted to be the Jason Bourne-type.
    Thanks for the suggestion Tim…..
    Dave

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  52. Not sure if this was mentioned in previous comments, but here in Boston, this book has been sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Nobles. I purchased it a few days ago. Really didn’t want to wait til the 10th. Can’t verify if the info contained within Neil’s book is valid in anyway, never the less it is a great read.

    Like

  53. Hello,

    Any ideas where I could get the book (and the earlier one “the game…”) in PDF format? I live in Poland and I don’t see any other way to get my hands on it.

    Like

  54. I read your book 6 months ago and loved it…but i lost it so i had to get a new one. Went to amazon and got a used one( way cheaper) I started to read your blogs and i think I’m hooked! I also read Neils(style)book The Game about a year ago and i loved it as well so i will definitely get his new book. I’m not so sure about putting my money off shores quite yet though. As far as the second passport i have dual citizenship but i don’t make enough money to even consider having another account in another country. but if it gives you piece of mind go for it.It looks to me that you’ve followed your gut feeling on things and i have no reason why this wouldn’t work for you. keep us posted on it and your trip to Vietnam as well!

    Like

  55. Thanks for the info on what looks to be an awesome book!

    The books you uncover go great with the fantastic information you provid in the 4-Hour Workweek. Thanks!

    Like

  56. @micki and others: why would you have to be a billionaire to live this way? If you decide it’s something you want to do, I don’t see why it would have to cost you a lot of money. For me it’s a way of thinking more than anything else. Just because the media hype gives the impression that people like this are all billionaires, doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, living internationally could save you a lot of money. I live as a PT and am quite sure my costs would go up a lot if I went to live in USA, UK etc.

    About buying the book in Poland, Colombia or anywhere else, Amazon ship to these places.

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  57. Great Tim! This sounds too cool.
    What to do when everybody’s looking for you or when the world ends?
    Can’t wait to find out what Neil Strauss has been cooking up
    with this new real life adventure book.

    Like

  58. Tim, The EMergency Book signing at B&N @ Tribeca was packed last night and I believe one third of the people were PUA’s, 1/3 were BN regulars and 1/3 came thru your promo (that was my demo). You gotta finish your next project and come to NY

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  59. Question: Once these ideas are available via mass media, doesn’t that mean they are effectively obsolete?
    If, as Tim predicts, this book is destined to be a bestseller doesn’t that mean that we are going to be subject to rubes everywhere trying to implement the ideas or walking around with paracord through their shoelace holes [read book for this reference]?

    Useful in the right hands, dangerous when distributed as mass media.

    That being said it at very least serves as a cautionary tale that reminds us of the many great cliches that harken back to the Boy Scout motto ‘Be prepared’ or for those military-types ‘Prior preparation prevents poor performance’

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  60. @Jack, I think you are right. But I haven’t yet read the book, and I guess it more superficial/theoretical stuff than the nitty-gritty PT practicalities from the old books, Bye Bye Big Brother etc. I mean, a real PT will not buy a passport from St Kitts. They will figure out a way to get one totally legally under the radar from another country that has never been written up.

    Any survivalist/military type stuff in there is just too add James Bond style adventure I think. PT has nothing to do with violence or anything military. PTs hate military stuff.

    So “dangerous” to the establishment, it certainly is – because it’s distributing the idea, making it mainstream to believe that loyalty to one country is a thing of the past, the concept of the Sovereign Individual (read the book of that name, by Lord William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson, it’s oldie but goodie)

    But these ideas can’t be made obsolete by a lot of people thinking about them. I don’t think this is dangerous to individuals. The PT idea is that everyone will find their own unique way of doing things, without Big Brother noticing they have disappeared from the radar

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  61. tim,

    i just came across your post on “no rules” twitter. i’d extend the metaphor to “no rules” to the wakowski brother’s “there is no spoon” essentially you are making others aware of their ability to redefine the sacred cows of order, and to bend reality to suite their needs. (other than federal/state rules of course).

    your platform is very fight club tyler durden, get someone to pay all your bills while you work on your favorite projects. I’m using it as a sort of rally cry for young americans at theaayp.org. theAAYP endorses the book not only for it’s “check out” construct, but if one chooses to stay within “The Matrix”, how to bend the rules to your advantage. why kill yourself to pay 60% in taxes for people you don’t know (boomers) (and frankly don’t deserve it, 700b bailout, credit collapse, overfishing, iraq, oildrunk, etc ) and programs you don’t give a shit about (like child care subsidies passed onto nonparent students) it’s taxation without representation.

    i’m smiling about this as i write but i’m reminded of beareded forrest gump running across the country and the hoard of people behind him. a pied piper of running. you are the pied piper of fleeing.

    keep creating value. we need it.

    matt

    director
    American Assoc. of Young People.
    Youth.Money.Voice.

    Like

  62. Didn’t want to leave my last pithy comment as my final word.

    The book is outstanding, thought-provoking and in the end , hopeful.
    There is something for everyone here. Greatly enjoyed this and will be prepping my family supplies this weekend.

    Keep learning, keep preparing and keep helping each other.

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  63. Oh my. I hope no one takes these seriously.

    Silly games like putting your personal residence in an LLC will leave most people worse off by denying them the protections normal, law-abiding folks get in bankruptcy.

    Leaving a trail of inconsistent banking statements all but guarantees years of pain at the hands of lawyers, judges, bankruptcy judges, and the US Trustee.

    Do yourself a favor: don’t hide assets, just buy a good insurance policy.

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    • To Max K.,

      Thank you very much for your comment, and your legal background is outstanding. What type of insurance policy would you recommend to protect against lawsuits, etc. and what criteria should be sought in a “good” policy?

      All the best,

      Tim

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  64. Hi Tim,

    I just finished the book. Excelent read. It definetly opened up my eyes about certain aspects of my life. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Like

  65. Let’s put aside cars and business for the moment and talk just about you, in your person.

    You need two policies:

    (1) a homeowner’s / renter’s policy with personal liability coverage,

    and

    (2) an umbrella liability policy.

    Most homeowner policies come with personal liability coverage, including both costs of your defense and the overall liability. Renter’s insurance is a more mixed bag — get personal liability coverage if you can.

    Don’t skimp. Get at least $300k in coverage, possibly more, and make sure you read the “exclusions” and “exceptions” very closely (some of these are designed to cheat you, others are perfectly fair, as in exclusion for intentional conduct), and verify both coverage for “defense” and “indemnity.”

    That’ll get you the most important thing: a lawyer. That’s the “defense” coverage.

    Your real asset protection comes from the “umbrella” policy (sometimes called an “excess” policy). It will not pay for your lawyer, but it will cover liabilities over and above your homeowner’s policy. It also tends to have minimal “exclusions” and “exceptions.”

    Umbrella coverage is cheap: $300-$500 for your first $1 million, less for each million up to $3-$5m.

    Those two together will get you a lawyer to defend you, plus coverage well above all but the very largest verdicts, the types rarely entered against individuals. Keep in mind that most physicians have coverage only around $1m-$1.5m, which most plaintiffs end up taking, even those bringing wrongful death claims.

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  66. Everything seems so smoothly and easily laid out, as a person who has a second passport I imply anyone to consider the nuisance you must go through in order to receive a second (never mind 3rd, 4th…) passport, like being a full time resident for a minimum of five years(in some countries) etc (remember that Jason Bourne worked for the CIA it was no trouble for him). As for a foreign bank account, firstly it will have to be a good lbatch of cash but then you can’t do much with your money if you trying to hide from literally everyone, and finally in order for someone to be like Jason Bourne it will require them to go under intensive training from a very young age, for example like living in a environment and a nature where one can build a high IQ (from a young age of course, no point when your older, you cant work on it then, in most cases your stuck with what ever you have), learn to respond and act rapidly in excessive, extreme and awkward situations and especially concerning languages and combating/martial arts modus operandi.
    Never the less I am still reading that book, after all am only 16…long way to go…

    “Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own.” ~Logan Pearsall Smith, “Age and Death,” Afterthoughts, 1931

    Like