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The "old buck," as my dad called himself when writing to me as he got older (yes, I had a daddy also), wants on your third birthday to give you a little something you can hold onto and be helped by as you get older.

1) Let me start by saying and listing where you are now. You are a happy and healthy boy. You have a magnetic personality that makes almost anyone who sees you love you at first sight. You love to fix things and see how things work, you love to do music in all forms — conducting, dancing, listening, and playing the violin and piano. You love to play with computers, banks, trains, baseball games, and cameras. You love to go on bike rides and adventures with your mom and dad. You love to hear stories and ask questions about what's happening and why, to be a chef, and a plumber, and to see how machines work, especially big systems like car washes and construction sites. Yes, you love to drive cars. Yesterday, two days before your third birthday you said — exact quote — "Hey, I'm not ready to leave. Would it be possible for me to do a little driving before I leave?" After you drive you like to say "Did you enjoy my driving today?" Yes, Mom and I believe that you should drive a car and play with fire when you're a kid (under parental supervision) because that's how you learn what good and bad things can happen.

You are a very sensitive boy but resilient also. When there is a story where someone is hurt like the Three Pigs where their house is blown down, or any song that has the least bit of sadness in it, you get up and say "I don't like that song" and walk out. Life regrettably has much sadness in it, as well as happiness, and I hope you will be able to overcome your sensitivity to the bad so that you can enjoy the good. There is good hope on that front as you like to run and climb much, and you do fall often and get knocked around like all kids but you are very good at getting right up and going at it again.

You have an immense vocabulary and use big words of a six year old like competition, interesting, fortunate, imagination, adventure, "in that case." [sample]. You love to ask what words mean, and you enjoy it when we take out the dictionary to discuss them. I first realized you have a immense vocabulary when you were one and we passed an outdoor restaurant with people sitting outside in the sun under cover and you said "umbrella." You love to rhyme words. One of your typical rhymes is "computer rhymes with commuter." You like to say things like "the train switched from the outside track to the inside track," or "I am ready for my next customer. Here's a menu. Would you like some Dover sole or shrimp? Thank you very much." When you were 2 1/2 you were cheffing [playing the role of a Chef] and your mom said "Is that water too hot?" and you said "let's test it." And just the other day when we were standing at the pool ledge at the Four Seasons talking about the pipes you said  "the more you flush the toilet, the higher the water in the pool gets?" or "It's cold outside, the wind is blowing. It's not raining. I don't see any drops on our window." You love to ask the meaning of words you don't know and you listen attentively when we get out the big dictionary to see how the words are used and what they mean.

You love good food, and since you were two days old you have regularly joined mom and dad at restaurants. Your favorite foods are fish, broccoli and spinach, and hot dogs. Your favorite restaurants are the Four Seasons and the Harvard Club, and you told me yesterday typically "I love to go into the kitchen here and see how all the big machines work." Loren and James and Hellman love to take you inside to see the way things work.

We play tennis every day and you can hit a running forehand most of the time with a small or big racket with one hand. You play the piano and violin every day,and you have perfect pitch and you know the notes especially A and D. One of your favorite things is to go to science museums. We've been to seven different ones, about 50 times in all, your favorites being the elevator museum in Dartmouth, New Hampshire. You like to go to shows and you've been to Broadway shows — South Pacific twice, Show Boat, Damn Yankees, Music Man, Hello Dolly, Sorcerer, and numerous kid musicals. You know from the first notes which is which when we play it on the CD. You are getting good at speaking in a whisper at concerts, and we've taken you to numerous Christmas carols, operas, orchestral events — your favorite being the Park Avenue Symphony where you are "David's assistant." It is unfortunate that your father has to use all his powers to get the other people there to appreciate that a kid should enjoy a show also, even if he says two or three sentences an act.

We like to go on adventures on our bikes, often stopping off at H and H, Cones, and Bleecker Pizza on our way from daddy to mommy. Your favorite vacations were at Disney, where you liked the Dumbo and Snow White rides and loved the playgrounds and the pictures with Belle and Mickey, and Florida, where you went fishing and played in the sand, and Maine where we went to Sturbridge Village to see all the mills, and you rowed a kayak, "a palindrome," and jumped in a quarry. You have several very good friends, Ava and Emma, Armaan, Oshay. You love to go to the park and play with machines, climbing, and music there. And you love to do creative things with your extended family especially finding pictures of interesting things on Google, and rhyming, and craft things. You have been very "fortunate" as you would say to have nannies who are like older sisters and friends and nurses and teachers to you in Lorna and Tashi.

2) In a previous letter, when you were born, I told you about the importance of music, and games, and money, and competition. Let me add a few things that will stand you in good stead.

The first one is from a game — checkers. Tom Wiswell was the world checkers champion for 25 years. He wrote 20 books. He was a great man, and I took lessons from him every week for 20 years. I hope that you will take lessons from greats over your life. Already you are taking lessons in dancing from Yuval who is the world champion at swing dancing, and Mara in violin who is a world class string player, having performed in Show Boat, one of your favorite shows, and me in squash, where I was the best, and Mommy, who won numerous contests on the piano. It's good to learn from mentors like that because they have learned the keys to success, and they have the track record to prove that what they do is best. In any case, Tom wrote a lot of proverbs for me that tied together the lessons he learned from checkers and life. His favorite proverb was "In checkers and life you need a strong base of operations." The base of operations is a line that connects all your forces, all the things you can do and all the equipment you have to do it with. Usually that base of operations is used to get something good, like play a good piece, or start a great business, or win an important event, or even defeat your enemy as your namesake Jack Aubrey always did. In your case, your base includes your love and abilities at music, sports, and machines, your homes in New York and Conn., your father and mother who would do anything for you and will always be there in life and after to support you, your extended family especially your six half-sisters and Susan and Mommie's very good friend, my brother "Uncle" Roy, (who at three years old was uncle to Galt and Katie, as you are uncle to Finn and Grover and Magnolia), your godfather Dan, and friends like Ava and Emma's parents John and Roseanna, and your very good friend and mentor Ming, and your "uncle" and good friend and teacher, Alex. You are fortunate to have so many who will take care of you and guide you through the many ups and down and highways and byways of life. The more you build that base of operations before reaching for the stars the better you'll be.

My father always liked to say "listen and learn" and that's part of it. You need to be prepared, to learn a lot and practice a lot before you can expect to reach great goals. Practice is the only way to get good at something. Herbert Simon, the man who most people refer to for learning about the science of people, found that you need to do something about 300,000 times before you are 10 years old to really get good at it. And that's just a start. One of the great things about music is that the way you learn there, by doing scales, and sitting down with your instrument each day to play pieces by yourself, is the key to practicing in any field. (I would add here that I am famous for using the music stuff to become great at squash and I was the only one who practiced squash by playing against myself for half an hour a day while everyone else just played games.) It will teach you how to practice in other things. You should find good teachers and listen to them very closely. I had teachers like Jack Barnaby, the greatest squash coach, and Tom, and Yuval, who were world champs, and Jim Lorie, who was the best at seeing the big picture in money things, and started the whole scientific study of prices with his base of operations for parts of businesses you buy and sell called stocks. I also when I grew up had a mentor in counting, Steve Stigler, who knows how to always keep the big picture in mind while counting right, and from Robert Schrade, who taught me piano, who is a father like Bach to one of the greatest music families. I love everything about his music and friendship and one of my favorite memories is how he and I traveled all over the world giving concerts about music and speculation. I hope you will get as much pleasure out of doing music with friends as your mom and I did and it is one of the happiest things in life.

Nothing is good unless you are healthy and I have been very fortunate in meeting two great mentors who have kept me healthy, David Brooks, who's like a combo of your two namesakes Aubrey and Darwin, and Raymond Chang, who's the only one that will tell and really can show you how to live five years longer if you are really sick with something eating you up. (Also, in a funny way, you wouldn't have been born without him.) Most of all I was mentored by my father, a man who knew everything about everything, and who knew and taught the right form in everything in life. He was the kind of person you'll meet in life who everybody who met him loved him like a brother. And one of the last things he said to me was "Vickie, I've always been there for you whenever you asked for anything." I can only hope that you will be able to say that about me some day, and I will try to live up to it as will your mother and many of the others mentioned above. Always remember that. Don't be afraid to ask them for help. I hope you will seek out such greats to learn from. You should know that I have taken about 2,000 lessons in various racket sports, and I have learned and improved from each of them. It is interesting for me to reflect here that when I was growing up, my father or mother came to each of my lessons, and all my tournaments, and that made me feel very strong and happy. Plus it made sure that I went to the lessons on time, and that I saw the importance of it, and they were there to make sure I practiced the right way. Other things about the base of operations to know are that you have to work hard and prepare well if you are going to achieve your goals. And it is best to have more than one way to get what you want. Jack Aubrey always liked to say that if you had a small base of operations, the enemy always knew where you were going to have to start and end. And in life, things are always changing. And even if you don't have an enemy ready to attack, you have to be able to adjust when the situation changes.

You will learn also that you are what you eat. What comes out of you can be no better than what went into you. You were very lucky to have good things sent into you with your cells from your parents and your living conditions. But what goes into you also is what you eat. You must eat things like fish, fruit,vegetables and nuts if you wish to be able to get what you want over the long term. Fortunately you love all these. That will give you the strength and the long life that is necessary for happiness and prosperity. I am afraid that you have developed a taste for hot dogs and salami already. You will have to curb that.

A Maze: You like to do mazes, finding the best way for Thomas to get back home, or for the turtles to get to the ocean. Life is like a maze also. You have to choose which path to take. And you have to get around things that block you to get there. Okay, the most important thing is to make sure that the path you choose has good outcomes at the end of it. The best way to do this is to surround yourself with good people. Always choose friends that good things happen to. Always put yourself in parts of the maze where the forks lead to good things . That means good places like the best colleges and good people like the champions, and good food especially the broccoli and spinach and brown rice like the ones they serve at the restaurants that Mom and Dad take you to. It means having good equipment in whatever you do. A good instrument like the Grotrian that mommy has, a good racket to play tennis with, a good house to keep you safe and healthy. There is an opposite side of this. Stay away from bad things and bad people. Don't hang around with people who are always getting into trouble. They're called hoodoos in our book, and even though it's not their fault bad things always seem to happen to those around. They say that the Rothschilds, a very rich and wise family always stayed away from hoodoos and you should too. Most of the things that happen to you in life are going to be because of the places you're in, and the friends you have. So be sure that you put yourself on the royal road to success by traveling with the benevolent people and things and not the hoodoos. Great People. You are lucky to have some great people around you. Many of your mentors and family are great at various things. Your mother is a great writer and musician. Your father is a great racket person and sometime very successful speculator. Your teachers are great in their fields and we will be sure to make sure that your other teachers are just as good. Many of your sisters are already very eminent in their fields, especially Galt at writing and producing movies, and Katie in connecting groups of people. Of course, you're going to seek out great people. One way to do this to add to what your parents put you in touch with is to say to some great people that you will work for them and do things for them for free, just so that you can be in that aura. Another way to do this is to read books about the lives of great people.

One set of books about two great people is very close to home. You were named after Jack Aubrey and Charles Darwin and they are the heroes of Patrick O Brian's book the Master and Commander Series. Between Aubrey, who knew more about the sea and boats and fighting than anyone, and Darwin, who always loved to study the way living things work, especially plants and animals, and who loved music, and language and food, and the things they both loved, music and women, you could learn a life time of lessons in do's and also the don'ts especially with regard to money in Aubrey's case. And perhaps most important is the love they had for each other. It's the most beautiful friendship ever, and I only hope that you can have friendships like A and D did, and that you will seek them out I like to read good biographies of people who are telling things as if it's the last thing they'll ever say after they have lived great lives themselves. When they're at that stage they don't hold back on the important things. Two books in this category come from the same college, Carnegie Mellon: Herbert Simon's Models of My Life and Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture". You learn things from them like setting great goals for yourself, always asking for things you want, working with friends to accomplish things, working hard as a key to success, not worrying about small things. The best story of a life I've ever read is Galton's Memories of my Life. Here is a man, who your sister Galt was named after, who did more things to advance science than almost anyone. He discovered how to count the relations between two things called regression and correlation, and he discovered why we have big storms, and how to find criminals through their fingerprints. He was a great traveler, and geographer, and most of all he loved to count things. Counting as you know is a key to success. He also wrote very vivid things about the many fields like medicine, and study of man, and how to cut things and measure things in every field. You will be well advised to know that while he was living he was considered the most loved and respected man of his age with everyone who knew him like my father, loving him. One reason for knowing this is that even though he is known as the founder of more good fields of science than anyone like psychometrics, anthropometrics, regression and correlation, weather maps, eugenics, et. al., like many great men, he is reviled by people who are frightened by greatness- people who believe that all people are equal in abilities and outcomes and that good luck in your cells and work habits and choices in the maze of life isn't the cause of the high and the low among people. Two autobiographies recommended by my mentor Stigler are Benjamin  Franklin's and Simon Newcomb's. Both of these men of science are very wise and tried many things before deciding on the things that will put them on the rite path. Recommendations like these from Stigler and your other fine mentors above and the new ones you will wisely choose are always to be placed close to your heart and bookshelf.

I also think it important and beautiful to read Albert Jay Nock's Memoirs of a Superfluous Man because it will teach you the idea of being your own man, and why its so beautiful to cultivate yourself like your own garden, and not to force anyone to do things that you think would be in their interests even if they don't. That's the idea that made America great and is behind what they call the constitution that gave everyone the base of operations for the great country we live in, and made everyone work so hard in his own way to better himself.

I guess that will be all for now. I should end by saying what my father said to me. "Be good, and be happy." Do know that every time I say good bye to you, I cry a little. I will try to be a good model for you, and to provide a good base of operations for you so that you can travel the road to greatness in life. And I will write again with other things that will help to put you on the royal path.

Love, Dad


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