Richard Nikoley

Koh Phi Phi Noi, were the beach scenes for the film The Beach were filmed

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. Almost 20 years later, turns out I’ve written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish…from lifestyle to philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income, and food. I intended to travel the world “homeless” but the Covid-19 panic-demic squashed that. I’ve become an American expat living in Thailand where I’ve built a home. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances.

Free the Animal really means to free yourself to reach your ideal potential in all areas of your life, learn from mistakes and successes, and move on.

Fasten your seatbelts. There’s no chance you won’t encounter turbulence.

I authored Free the Animal: How to lose weight & fat on the paleo diet.

For an overview of how I think, how the human animal fits into it and the things I blog about, see The Manifesto. Or just read the blog

The problem for me, as you might begin to ascertain, is that I’m by nature a die hard generalist. I cannot specialize. If someone says to me, “I specialize in…” it’s in my nature to want to say, “oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

So in the history of my writing here, I’ve blogged about everything that interested me. Sure, at times—even for years at a time—it looked as though I was a specialist. But even in the depths of the Paleo Diet, or Evolutionary Diet, or Primal Diet…whatever it is you wish to call it…I was constantly doing offshoot rabbit holes like gut health, potato hack, honey, grains, higher carb, higher protein. You name it.

Motorcycle, beach, pool, and Buddha…and that’s just getting me started.

I have many sorts of lives and like to write about them all. My interests are far ranging and I’m well informed or I get well informed about all of them in a manly, competent way; and I guess my way is to convey, just in case others have their own curiosities about those things too.

So, yea, my interests are varied. So varied that at the age of 59, now 61 and never having children, I embraced the patriarchal stewardship of a rural Thai family and it’s a kick. It’s also quite a story, but you have to read the blog to get the best.


I was born & raised in Reno, Nevada, the son of a German immigrant. I attended a private, church-run high school. Went on to attend a first year of college at the fundamentalist Baptist Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga for my first year of college. (While now a “non-believer,” I find far greater affinity with believers than I do with activist non-believers.)

I transferred, then graduated Oregon State University in 1984 with a bachelor of science in Business Administration, and two minor courses of study: mathematics / computer science, and naval science. I was a member of the NROTC unit.

I was commissioned in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) immediately upon graduation from OSU. After some 8 months attending various schools in San Diego, CA, I traveled off to Yokosuka, Japan to join my first ship, the USS REEVES (CG-24), where I served from 1984-1987 as the Assistant Missiles Officer, First Lieutenant, and then finally, Electrical Officer.

After those first three years in Japan, I crossed the pier for another two years, joining the U.S. SEVENTH FLEET embarked aboard USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19). From 1988-1989, I was both the Assistant Fleet Scheduling Officer and the Assistant Logistics Officer. I managed a fuel budget of $180 million (a lot of money in 1988).

I left Japan after those two tours over five years and headed to Monterey, California, where I studied immersion French at the Defense Language Institute for the latter half of 1989. Upon successful completion of the course, I headed to Toulon, France, where from 1989 to 1992, I took up duties an exchange officer with the French Navy: first aboard the FNS COLBERT (C 611), and later, the FNS DUQUESNE (D 603), both as the Navigator.

I left the US Navy in 1992 and returned to the U.S., San Francisco Bay Area. After a few false starts in entrepreneurial endeavors, I started a company in my bedroom in the summer of 1993 that evolved into lots of employees, good money, and a 20-year run.

I was also married for much of that time, but since 2019 we’re just buddies and text-pals and have gone our separate lifestyle ways.

Now I tend to a couple of income streams, imagine, do audacious things, ride a motorbike without a helmet, swim the tropical ocean, walk on amazing beaches, take photos, eat amazing food, tend to a much younger Thai lovely, and write well and cleverly about all of it…

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2022, contains over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More
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