Fairy Tales

Reading Fairy Tales Is Good For You!

Reading Fairy Tales Is Good For You!

This evening, I started reading a sale book I had downloaded onto my Kindle 2: It was Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants. I did not know it was a children’s book, or a fairy tale, but it was set in that twilight world of the Vikings and their Asatru gods. It was probably the best thing I could have read on this grim day of endlessly analyzing the investments of our largest client. I highly recommend it, as I recommend all fairy tales … because they help one do things that are extraordinary.

Years ago, there were published in England a series of fairy tale books edited by Andrew Lang. There were twelve of them in all, and all were identified by a color: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Violet, Crimson, Brown, Orange, Olive, and Lilac. All twelve are now in the public domain and available in cheap illustrated editions from Dover Publications. You can find them (along with other of Lang’s books) by clicking here and checking out the two pages that follow.

I own all twelve of the Lang books and frequently pick one up to read a fairy tale or two. Why should kids have all the fun?

The Proverbs of Hell

Blake’s Illustration

Blake’s Illustration

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
Dip him in the river who loves water.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur’d by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.
All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.
No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
A dead body revenges not injuries.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
Folly is the cloke of knavery.
Shame is Prides cloke.

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
Let man wear the fell of the lion. woman the fleece of the sheep.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once only imagin’d.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet; watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.
One thought fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
The fox provides for himself. but God provides for the lion.
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
He who has suffer’d you to impose on him knows you.
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
Expect poison from the standing water.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title!
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow; nor the lion, the horse, how he shall take his prey.
The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest.
If others bad not been foolish, we should be so.
The soul of sweet delight can never be defil’d.
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. lift up thy head!
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Damn braces: Bless relaxes.
The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.
Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!
Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!—from William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

 

Yummy! Fried Brains!

Some Days You Just Can’t Describe in Any Other Way

Some Days You Just Can’t Describe in Any Other Way

Today was the most brutal day of tax season so far. In addition to continuing securities analysis on our biggest client, there were a half dozen 1099s to print, tax returns on partnerships and fiduciaries (neither of which entity types I understand), installation of a new version of our tax program, filing our 4th quarter 2012 payroll tax returns to the IRS and California Employment Development Department, and miscellaneous other administrative duties. The net result: At least another half day or more tomorrow just finishing up today’s work.

In the next three months, there will more more days like this. I just want to hang it up, go home, eat dinner, drink some iced tea, and finish reading Jason Goodwin’s Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire.

There will be better days to come. And there will be worse days. May the latter be few and may they pass quickly.

Expires Soon!

Don’t Be a Sucker for Sales!

Don’t Be a Sucker for Sales!

I used to follow all the sales, and I would be mobilized into action by hearing that the low price would “expire soon” As a result, I bought a lot of junk I didn’t need. And instead of saving money, I ran up my credit cards thinking I was getting a terrific bargain. Now I get this cynical smirk on my face when being offered a low price. Remember: You will be paying an even lower price if your spending is zero.

Unfortunately, with the economy being the way it is today, it would help if more people were spendthrifts—but not if, by so doing, they got into serious debt.

For me, the biggest temptation was—and still is—books. On Sunday, Martine and I took a walk on the campus of Loyola-Marymount University in Westchester. Because I’ve seen as much of the campus as I want to, I usually accompany Martine for only the first half of the walk and spend the rest of the time in the nice new Hammond Library.

While there, I took a look at a relatively new book by Karl Schlögel entitled Moscow, 1937. It was a fascinating picture of the Soviet capital during Stalin’s purges. I was so enthralled that I read the first chapter in its entirety (about Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita) and scanned the rest of the book page by page. The illustrations and maps were amazing.

Needless to say, I was sold. That evening, I found a cheap new copy on eBay and purchased it. As you can see, I can present myself as a bit of a cheapskate; but I still have, hidden not so deep within myself, a raging spendthrift.

 

Giving the Mafia Free Access to Your Credit

Don’t Gamble With Your Credit!

Don’t Gamble With Your Credit!

Since I have begun this blog on WordPress, I have picked up some 1,100 Spam comments. At first, they were mostly from Lista de Email or Lista de Emails from Brazil. Now an altogether more unruly crowd has moved in: “Free” Casinos.

These are mostly people who want to have free access to your credit cards and transfer your credit to their own offshore bank accounts. That’s why I check several times a day for Spam and assiduously delete it permanently, less you think I am in cahoots with these goniffs, which I am not.

I do not accept a comment unless it:

  • Responds in some way to the web posting to which it is attached (generic praise just doesn’t cut it) and
  • It does not have a number of links sending you all over the Internet.

So if someone finds a way of escaping my vigilance, know that I do not endorse any commenter’s website unless it pertains to the discussion in my blog postings.

 

Accounting Nightmares

Some Things Just Won’t Reconcile

Some Things Just Won’t Reconcile

Even though my first memories are of childhood nightmares, my dreaming has, over the last few decades, been remarkably free of anything scary. Those first nightmares, however, were real wowsers: In response to toilet training, I would be stuck in the bathroom with the walls closing in on me with the sound of a steam engine. Or there were the times I was being chased around our home on East 120th Street by a lion.

Since I started working in accounting, I have had a different type of dream—particularly when I am facing some problem of whose resolution I am uncertain. Right now, I am trying to analyze the sales of government securities that just don’t seem to reconcile. First of all, there are Fannie Mae investments with a monthly Return of Principal, which I am not sure is being accurately registered in the brokerage statements. And then there was the mistaken sale of three securities that had already been sold earlier that month in the same statement. What was even stranger was that, when the sale was canceled, in each case it was assessed at a different value than the value at the time of “re-sale.”.

When I have trouble dropping off to sleep, I occasionally revisit these technical problems; and the numbers swirl around and around in my head. Sometimes, in my half-sleep, I come up with brilliant solutions. Almost always, I gain some insight, even though I lose some sleep in the process.

If you were to ask me, I think I would prefer the extra sleep.

 

Nothing But Short-Term Solutions

Eric Cantor and John Boehner

Eric Cantor and John Boehner

It now looks as if the House GOP leadership will allow the debt ceiling to be raised—but only temporarily. In the meantime, they will hope that the Democrats will undergo some type of old-religion conversion, allowing them to see the light and cut back on spending. And the spending they want to cut back on are for the most part social programs that benefit people.

Is there any plan to cut back on military spending? Well, no! Between guns and butter, it’s butter that’s going to have to go. In the meantime, we will be facing the same discussion in a few months’ time, with hundreds of hours of the legislators’ time being wasted because no Republican is interested in yielding a millimeter on their [anti-]social agenda.

I have a suggestion. Perhaps this is the right time to cut down on our spending on Congress. Cut their stipend by 80%, rent out the Capitol Building for weddings and funerals, and make Congress meet in a hangar at Dulles Airport—a hangar that is neither heated nor air-conditioned. My prediction is that Congress would move faster, and there would even be a modicum of cooperation, especially inasmuch as the Democrats would be in the same boat.