Ten Pieces of Inspiration #15

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir
This is an awesome application of the internet. Composer Eric Whitacre collected a large number (in the thousands, at last count) of individual performances of choral pieces on YouTube and combined them into a single piece, utilizing the individual audio tracks as well as the videos of the people performing them. Here’s the most recent one, “Sleep.”

This is one where it’s worthwhile to just ignore the video, close your eyes, and listen. Here’s some more info about the virtual choir.

2. Emerson on persistence
The more you work at anything, the easier it becomes. Not because the task becomes easier, but because you get better at it.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think this is true for frugal behavior, for example. It’s hard to establish a new normal, but once you do it, it becomes easier and easier.

3. The Inflation Calculator
I’ve been using this little tool for years to put inflation in perspective. All you have to do is drop in a dollar amount, put in the two years you want to compare, and it’ll show you the comparison. For example, I wanted to compare what $7.00 looks like in 1970 dollars and 2010 dollars. “What cost $7.00 in 1970 would cost $38.86 in 2010. Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2010 and 1970, they would cost you $7.00 and $1.21 respectively.”

Inflation is a harsh mistress.

4. Agesilaus on frugality and liberty
Frugality isn’t about restriction. It’s about freedom – freedom from want, freedom from reliance, freedom from being under the economic thumb of others.

“By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest.” – Agesilaus of Sparta

I am frugal because I want freedom.

5. The Yellow House (The Street) (1888) by Vincent van Gogh
My three year old daughter’s favorite book is Vincent’s Colors, which depicts some of van Gogh’s paintings along with five or six word descriptions of the painting from van Gogh’s own pen.

Vincent van Gogh 1888 The yellow house ('The street') - detail

My daughter often stops and looks at this one for a long time. Lately, I have, too.

6. Jaques’ soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It
What act are you in?

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Are you making the most of that act?

7. FDR on taxes
It’s easy to get very frustrated after paying taxes. FDR puts it in perspective.

“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Taxes may be painful, but without them, we’d either be without roads or we’d be paying usage fees to use them. The same is true for police, hospitals, schools – the list goes on and on.

8. Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit
I get goosebumps every time I hear this.

9. Morels
It’s early spring in Iowa. Time to start hunting the woods for something wonderful.

Morels

Thanks to grongar for the wonderful pic.

10. Quote on love and games
My favorite opponent at games is my wife. Often, one of us loses and one of us wins. Not always.

Love is a game that two can play and both win. – Eva Gabor

It’s hard to really lose when you walk away from the table with your opponent’s hand in yours.