Saturday, June 5, 2010
stock theatre. Last evening, my Sweetie and I went to
see their performance of My Fair Lady. Great venue,
great music, great voices, a great evening.
The following clip is not from last night's show, enjoy it
commercial real estate loans coming due over the next few
years and only 7 hundred million dollars (or so) worth of
new financing available. Interesting story here.
This blogger thinks that one of the chinks in our economy's
armor has been the notion that real estate investing is the
same as investing in financial instruments. That notion led
otherwise smart people to seriously over pay, and more
importantly over lend, on investment real estate. There are
now many investment properties with out-of-whack loan to
value ratios. More importantly, there are many financial
institutions with troubled loans on their books, still.
Right or wrong, that's where we are today. How this plays
out has the potential to make the next few years as
interesting as the past few.
The least painful way to deal with these loans is for the
lender to "extend" the due date on those loans where the
borrower is current on the payments and for the regulators
to cut the lenders some slack. The theory being, the
passage of time will restore enough value to the underlying
investment property to make the problems manageable, and
the loans re-payable. Consider this the "muddle through, it
hurts but we can handle it"approach.
The most painful way would be for the regulators to force
the lenders to call the loans due. If the borrower cannot pay
the loan off, or re-finance elsewhere, the lender forecloses.
Consider this the "slash and burn and destroy in the hopes of
a quicker healing" approach.
There are no good choices here. But in case you could not
detect my bias, I suspect that those in favor of the painful
approach are mostly bottom feeding investors looking for
serious bargains at someone else's expense, or sadists, or
change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom
to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying
one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway
to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as
I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will; That I may be reasonably happy
in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in
Friday, June 4, 2010
First, the announcement of an anonymous donation of
$800,000 for an all-weather surface playing field for their
football stadium. A very generous gift. Thank you, whoever
Secondly, this quote from the story:
"Although there are no ongoing maintenance costs,
(Superintendent Dave ) Hile said the field will have to be
replaced in 10 to 12 years. However, he said the money that
is not spent on mowing, spraying and fertilization costs will
be set aside to pay for the replacement field in a decade."
I suspect it is thoughtful and prudent fiscal leadership like this
that has allowed the Licking Valley School District to go 17
years without having a levy on the ballot asking the taxpayers
of the District for more money. There are some other
governmental entities around who might gain something
by watching how the Licking Valley Schools operate.
Finally, some of the comments attached to the news story
might be funny, if they weren't so sad. Our community is
amazingly generous. Enormous amounts of money have been
donated to enhance the quality of living here. The Midland
Theatre, The Works, COTC/OSUN, Licking Memorial
Hospital, the YMCA, the new Salvation Army and St. Vincent
and St. Paul homeless shelters, Weathervane Playhouse, the
bike path system, the NASA soccer fields, and the Ice Rink
are some of the assets of our community made possible, or
made better, by local generosity.
Simple gratitude is the appropriate response to such
Back in our young and foolish and no money days, friend
John and I traveled to New Orleans. Summer of 1972. We
thought we would save the cost of a motel room by staying
up all night. About 3:30ish, walking the side streets of the
French Quarter, we were beginning to question the wisdom
of our plan. Just in the nick of time we hear laughter and
music coming out of this hole-in-the-wall bar called "Molly's
Irish Stew". Funny what you remember. There was a
group of friends gathered around a piano player and a
trumpeter singing Summertime. It was magical and
energizing. Loved the song ever since.
Here are two more versions, with vocals. Enjoy.
loss of his left leg in a carriage accident while young, yet,
peg leg and all, kept a cheerful attitude towards life. He was
land speculator and a promoter of canals, figuring that canals
would both open up the western lands (Ohio) and cause the
interior trade to flow through his city, New York ( smart man,
canals did both of those things, but more on that later). He was
a deist, "his God was all-powerful, beneficent, and otherwise
unknowable", who believed in religious liberty for all and was
Besides being the principal writer of our Constitution, he
also said the following:
Slavery "was the curse of heaven on the States where it
"Religion is the relation between God and man, therefore
it is not within the reach of human authority."
"It is always my opinion that matters of conscience and
faith, whether political or religious, are as much out of the
province, as they are beyond the ken, of human
When Lafayette partially stiffed Morris on a debt of
100,000 livres, Morris wrote, "I only wish them a clear
conscience. Unhappily, that they will never have, and will
ever bear me, in consequence, a sincere hatred. The
ungrateful man never thinks of his benefactor without a
pang, and how should one not detest the object that causes
such suffering and lowers one in one's own eyes."
"Americans need never fear their government because of
the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess
over the people of almost every other nation."
"Religion is the solid basis of good morals; therefore
education should teach the precepts of religion, and the
duties of man toward God."
"This magistrate is not the king. The people are the king."
Power: Personal Choices that Create Miracles.
"Faith is an active force- not a passive one- an invisible
power, like love. It is not a simple belief in goodness, it is
a belief put into action in the present moment."
"Everything we do counts. There is no such thing as a small
act of service or goodness."
"Every time we encounter someone, we unconsciously make
either a compassionate or judgemental response."
"When your heart is engaged, it drives the body to act on
the mind's ideas; when your heart energy is absent- when
your heart is not in something, your actions have no force."
"God works invisibly- anonymously- through these powers
of faith, love, and grace."
"Grace and guidance do come to those who ask for it."
"The energy of grace is a relentless internal voice that
we can rarely misinterpret or silence."
"Life force simply 'is'. It is a neutral, undirected energy
that surrounds us and supports the vitality of all beings.
Grace, on the other hand, has a spiritual quality. It is
an energy infused with a force greater than our own, a
"Mystics and saints maintain a consciousness about the
presence of God within themselves and others. They
aim to practice this mindfulness at every moment."
Thursday, June 3, 2010
perfect Union, to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defense, promote the general
Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and
our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the
United States of America."
If you said "Gouverneur Morris" give yourself a gold star. He
was a member of the committee delegated to take the decisions
and resolutions agreed upon by the Constitutional Convention
and put them into "polished" document form. Morris is
credited with actually doing most of the writing and all of the
Morris is another one of those towering historical figures that
sort of slipped through the cracks when it came to general
His biography, Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris-
The Rake who Wrote the Constitution by Richard Brookhiser
is worth the read.
The phase "WE THE PEOPLE" caught many by surprise, who
were expecting "We the States". By saying "we the people"
Morris defined Americans as "a part of a single whole" instead
of citizens of semi-autonomous states. A significant difference.
More from Morris will follow.
"In the early months of the rock-and-roll revolution, in fact,
at a time when adult authorities around the country were
struggling to come to terms with a booming population of
teenagers with vastly different musical tastes and attitudes,
Santa Cruz captured national attention for its response to the
crisis. On June 3, 1956, city authorities announced a total ban
on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music
'Detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and
It was a dance party the previous evening that led to this
reaction on the part of Santa Cruz authorities. Some 200
teenagers had packed the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on a
Saturday night to dance to the music of Chuck Higgins and
his Orchestra, a Los Angeles group with a regional hit record
called 'Pachuko Hop.' Santa Cruz police entered the
auditorium just past midnight to check on the event, and
what they found, according to Lieutenant Richard Overton,
was a crowd 'engaged in suggestive, stimulating and
tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of
an all-negro band.' But what might sound like a pretty great
dance party to some did not to Lt. Overton, who immediately
shut the dance down and sent the disappointed teenagers
Fifty-four years later, this story from Licking Valley, here.
To quote my Uncle Ted, "Emerson said it well, 'Mankind
never advances. It undergoes continual changes: it is
barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is
scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For everything
that is given, something is taken.' "
blessed all those toxic CDOs (collateralized debt obligations)
with AAA ratings, here.
I wonder if his take on the rating agencies might be
different if he had not been a major shareholder in Moodys?
"The FCIC is trying to figure out how the entire financial
system blew up -- they have a report due by the end of the
year -- and Buffett gave them a history lesson on market
psychosis. The rating agencies -- Moody's and McGraw
Hill's Standard & Poor's -- were no more tragically
myopic than anyone else. Their analytical models had the
same horrendous flaw, one shared by the entire American
public, which said residential house prices can't take a dive,
and they won't take a dive all over the country all at the
How can an analytic model provide any semblance of
accuracy when the rating agencies had no clue about the
nature of the debt underlying those CDOs?
Wouldn't you look before you rated?
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
David Brooks offers one man's glimpse into our future.
"The failure of the top-kill technique in the Gulf of Mexico
represents an interesting turning point on the Obama
presidency. It symbolizes the end of the period of lightning
advance and the beginning of the period of nasty stasis."
Full essay here.
real estate is here. Titled Could be Better, Could be Worse,
the post contains some interesting quotes.
First the optimistic:
"We’re seeing more demand for retail space,” said Scott
Schroeder, vice president of marketing at Developers
Diversified Realty. “It’s good. We’re not completely back,
but we’re headed in the right direction.”
"William Taubman, chief operating officer of Taubman Centers,
echoed those thoughts. He said that he expects retail sales
growth to increase moderately throughout the year. And his
firm, which mostly owns high-end malls, is seeing more foreign
retailers enter the United States and take space in its assets.
“Tourism and luxury have both returned,” he remarked."
Now the realistic:
"However, landlords are seeing some pressure, admitted
Michael Longmore, an executive vice president at Jones Lang
LaSalle. In some cases, they’re getting $9 per square foot in
rent instead of $17, but good space is getting absorbed. He is
also seeing more shopping centers go back to lenders. At the
same time, though, rents aren’t sliding as much as last year.
“The rent reductions are pretty much done,” Longmore said.
Now the wishful:
"In the opinion of Sandy Sigal, president and CEO of Newmark
Merrill Companies, things are improving, but doesn’t expect a
dramatic bounce back any time soon. “Everyone wishes that
the market is going back to where it was,” he said.
an area creating a higher value, then maybe one of the things
our economy needs is a whole bunch more people like Steve
Jobs and Bill Gates.
While we are waiting, enjoy this site.
Unless your eyesight is
better than mine,
click on the picture
to read the captions.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
the BP's Gulf of Mexico oil well failure on real estate values
Short term impact- perceptions matter. Long term impact-
it is too early to tell, as noted below:
"Far too many variables play a role in predicting the
coastline(s) that will be affected by the spill. I have read
that the Loop Current is so strong that it could pull the oil
from its current path and bring it up the East Coast, to as
far north as the Carolinas. One thing is for sure, this is not
a passing problem."
Real Estate Appraiser Expected to Sizzle in the Future."
here. Only an on-line school would try to sell us on that
Appraisers play an important role in the financing of real
estate. Since most real estate buyers need a mortgage to
buy, appraisers almost assume the role of "gatekeeper"
for real estate transactions. Satisfactory appraisal equals
closing. Unsatisfactory appraisal equals no closing. One
might suspect that there is some pressure associated with
It is a job that has been exceedingly difficult for the past two
years. When the market ceases to function as a result of too
much money chasing too much product for too many years,
the question arises- how do you know what anything
It is easy for us brokers, developers and investors to posit
that a property has to be worth such and such. It is an
altogether different problem to have to prove it, or justify it,
in writing and have that opinion stand up to regulatory
oversight a year later.
Becoming a good appraiser requires knowledge, experience,
judgement, diligence, and a certain toughness. Not much
sizzle to it.
forty three years ago. Time sure flies.
The song is the same, but the Yellow Submarine video
is more fun. Enjoy
Monday, May 31, 2010
My Uncle Ted is one of those rare individuals who, over the
years of his life, has created a personal philosophy and lives
his life true to that philosophy. Calling him a mentor might be
too strong, if only because our paths have infrequently crossed.
Still, his example has always been clear and present in my
mind. His influence subtle, but powerful. Ted now faces some
health issues. He long ago confronted his mortality and now
faces his future with peacefulness and serenity. I suspect he
views death not as a ending, but as a new beginning.
Over the past month or so, Ted wrote two letters addressed
to his grandchildren. What follows below is the letter that
sets forth the outline, the bedrock, and the origin of his
philosophy. Ted defies classification. My guess is that he
would never believe anything that the suffix "ism" could
be attached to. He is just Ted. My friends, this letter is
fairly long. As a favor, I ask you to read it. Happy Memorial
"Long ago, the German philosopher Schopenhauer, taught
me a priceless lesson- for any one of us, the only world that
exists is the world that exists in our own mind. The burden
of debate is removed from my shoulders. There is no
argument about your world or mine, or his or hers. We each
have our own. Schopenhauer called it, 'The World as Idea'.
Keep this in mind as I outline my 'Idea' on two things: the
general social nature of humanity; and a small and
overlooked group called the Montanaro.
In Italian, Montanaro simply means person or people of the
mountains. But here I give a more narrow meaning- only
those few mountain people of the Alto Frignano, the highest
part of Italy's Apennines.
Up there, all of my ancestors, and some of yours, survived
in relative peace and independence for countless generations.
I came to know the Montanaro because a 'colony' of them
migrated to the small Chicago area town of Highwood well
before WWI. I was born into their midst in 1930. For my
first 16 years I had the opportunity and privilege to
observe them intimately from the inside.
The French philosopher Rousseau gives us a good start in
understanding the Montanaro and mankind in general:
'The oldest of all societies, and the only natural one, is that
of the family...the family is the first model of political
societies: the father corresponds to the ruler, the children
to the people....The only difference is that in the family, the
father's love for his children rewards him for the care he
gives them, while in the State, the pleasure of commanding
takes the place of love, which the ruler does not feel for his
Now to self-sufficiency, which Aristotle describes as that
which 'makes life desirable and lacking in nothing; and such
we think happiness to be; and further we think it the most
desirable of all things.' Goethe, another German philosopher,
adds: 'he alone is great and happy who requires neither to
command nor to obey in order to secure his being of some
importance in the world.'
Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese mystic, adds another dimension
and introduces the concept of 'lust for comfort,' which he
describes as, 'that stealthy thing that enters the house as a
guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master...with
hands of velvet, but with a heart of iron.' Next, Thoreau
states: 'many of the luxuries and most of the comforts of life
are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the
elevation of mankind.... let our affairs be as two or three and
not a hundred or a thousand.....simplicity of life and
elevation of purpose.'
This concept of self-sufficiency may appear simple, but in
reality is complex and subtle. My independence, or yours,
depends absolutely upon our not being a burden to others.
That burden is most apparent when I consume an extra
bowl of soup while you do without. As Rousseau said, 'He who
eats in idleness, that which he himself has not earned, steals
it.' But how can I know what I have 'not earned,' when I
know not, because of the world's anonymity, from whence it
A few definitions: God is the incomprehensible Creator, from
which I am convinced our universe came. And 'Nature',
Dante tells us, 'is the Art of God.'
That nature gives to each and every one of us, and to each
other mammal as well, three basis instincts: to work; to be
with others; and to treat them with compassion. Many will
tell you that this instinct of compassion does not exist, that
in its place is there is one of violence. I think they are not as
mistaken as they are deceptive.
With these instincts and nothing more, Rousseau's natural
society simply appears and then evolves naturally. And it will
grow from one family to two or three, and then twenty, all by
agreement, voluntarily and without force.
I suspect that at one time the earth was covered with such
natural societies, which I often call tribes. Each was 'self-
sufficient,' one was not a burden to the others, Each was
free of mechanical or artificial organization involving force.
Their members were not only collectively, but individually,
self-sufficient, and therefore 'required neither to command
nor to obey.'
Goethe's words of genius deserve yet more comment. At
first, it might appear that he identifies three classes of
humans- Commanders, Obedient, and Neither. But in reality
he names only two- the dependent; and the self-sufficient.
The Commanders depend on the Obedient, without whom
they are nothing. More obviously, the Obedient depend
upon their Commanders. Only the Neither are self-sufficient,
and only they are 'great and happy.'
Eventually, the Commanders gained more and more control.
Today they rule virtually the entire 7 billion of us Obedient
humans on earth. In turn, the Neither, the truly self-sufficient,
are almost extinct. As the Roman historian Sallust reminded
us. 'Few desire liberty; most wish only for a just master.'
Now to the Montanaro I saw. I use the term in the singular
to emphasize its unity rather than the individuality of each of
its members, even though each and every one of them
displayed amazing levels of individual self-sufficiency.
The Montanaro is a most difficult study. It did not exist and
survive in simple isolation, as did for example its pre-
Columbian counterparts in North America- the hundreds of
tribes of Cherokee, Sioux, and Navaho, and of may other great
nations as well. The Montanro survived without abandoning
its instinctive naturalness, even though all around it, in Italy,
and then in America, were exploding segments of humanity,
which were choosing instead to command or to obey.
Those newer societies, which now dominate the earth, I call
the artificial societies of Mankind- planned, built, and
maintained by the forces and powers of their rulers. They
exist and expand through competition between their rulers
and also between segments of the Obedient within the
command of a single ruler.They and the older disappearing
natural societies, such as the Montanaro, are as different as
oil and water.
How well I remember walking with my playmates anywhere in
our town of Highwood. I always sensed that we were under the
watchful and protective eyes of our contemporaries, or the
older children, or the adults. Anywhere and everywhere in
town, I felt at home. I could feel the electricity and energy of a
true family, a community, a tribe, based not on force, but upon
compassion, upon love. This last term, so impossible to define,
Freud tells us is that which 'brings a change from egoism to
altruism....love alone acts as the civilizing factor.'
In those earliest days in Highwood, I sensed that while our
Montanaro tribe had its definitions and boundaries, there
was no exclusivity. Instead, anyone wishing to step within
'our walls' and join us was welcome, and all guests and
visitors were treated with great hospitality.
No member was compelled to remain and was always
welcome to return. And I noticed how easily the definition of
Montanaro extended from those of the Alto Frignano to
other parts of Italy.
We were one community, one family, one tribe- expanding,
contracting, adapting, but always founded upon compassion
and without any authority.
There were no laws, no designated leaders or followers, and
yet justice seemed to flow naturally from only custom,
tradition and freedom of choice. Tragedies and violence
were conspicuous by their absence.
The community itself, the Montanaro, seemed to have a life of
its own, created by its individual members over the
generations; and the lives of those individuals in turn had been
shaped and influenced by the community. We were separate
and were one, simultaneously.
In the Montanaro households there was constant activity.
Friends, relatives and acquaintances came and went- to
socialize, to participate in the challenge of day-to-day living,
or to do both. The line between family life and communal or
tribal life was blurred. But I learned early on that not
everyone was so blessed.
In 1933, my parents bought their one and only house. By
coincidence, there were no Montanaro families in our new
neighborhood. My many playmates were all 'Americans'- a
non-judgmental term for someone with no apparent
connection with a foreign or immigrant culture or language.
My playmates spent much happy time in our house and I in
their homes. There was hospitality in all directions, and never
But in their houses I was always overcome with an empty and
even eerie feeling. My playmates had parents and siblings,
but where were the friends, relatives, and other tribesmen of
the Italian households? There were none. My friends were
secure in their own homes, as was I in mine. But outside, they
were alone, lost in a world of strangers, while I had the
Montanaro everywhere. I grieved for my friends and felt my
parents did too, since they worked so hard to include them in
our lives. The Montanaro spoke little of such things. For them,
compassion was a way of life, not a subject of conversation.
The way of the Montanaro was driven by habit. As Confucius
told us, 'Men's natures are alike, it is their habits that carry
them apart.' The habits of the Montanaro, learned and
ingrained in each of them from infancy, forged them into
strong, courageous, peaceful, patient, and compassionate
colleagues who did not burden others. And, as a result, they
had those feelings of self-sufficiency that made their lives
both 'desirable and lacking in nothing.'
The Montanaro was governed voluntarily from within and
greatly influenced by custom and tradition; not from without
by rules and regulations based on force and authority. Here's
My father and his brothers had a little trucking business, and
the boys started driving at young ages to help out. One day,
when I was about 14, my father called me aside and calmly
said, 'Primo (the police chief) said you're driving too fast.' We
both understood, of course, that Primo was not mistaken. My
response, equally calm, 'OK, I'll watch it; don't worry.'
Primo could easily have handled the matter from the 'outside'
with a speeding ticket, or, easier still, by turning his head.
But instead he followed a more difficult path- approaching his
good friend on a matter of preserving and maintaining the
tribe's integrity. My father too was similarly burdened. But
I suffered most, ashamed for having thoughtlessly troubled
two men I so admired. Never again did I speed in Highwood.
Such is the way of the Montanaro.
I admire and respect the Montanaro, not so much for what
they achieved, as for what they never abandoned- their
natural and altruistic way of life. They seemed instinctively
aware that, as Thoreau reminds us: 'Luxuries and comforts
are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to
the elevation of mankind.'
How well I remember the wry observation of an older
Montanaro, speaking to one of us youngsters who had not
developed here in America those amazing habits of our
elders. He said, "Allora, t'at trova' l'america", (Well then,
you've found (a path to comfort and ease here in) America).
I was always amazed at how these seniors could effortlessly
and with a sense of accomplishment, turn their backs on so
much ease and comfort and remain, instead, steadfast with
their lifetime habits. For them, doing without gave not only
no pain, but an obvious sense of inner satisfaction and
One of Highwood's older ladies told me once, "La miseria
la gh'era d pertutto, al la, gent' eran' contenti lo stresso."
(there was privation everywhere but people were happy
But more recently another said to me, "I mei i ghan'
tutto, na son' sempr' preoccupa'", (My kids have
everything and yet they still worry).
In spite of what the Montanaro did not have, and the
exploding lust for comfort I see in today's world, there
has been no progress but only change. Emerson said it
well, 'Mankind never advances. It undergoes continual
changes: it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized,
it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration.
For everything that is given, something is taken.'
As I compare the way of the Montanaro with that of the
world's seven billion people, my admiration and respect
for the Montanaro only expand. The lessons I learned
from them in my early years are without equal.
I pass these 'Ideas' along because you may find them
of some use as you adjust the courses of your own
lives over the years.
Remembering all the Montanaro who have gone
before us and my three dear cousins recently departed,
Germana Bernardi Braglia, Piero Galli and his brother
Ted Pasquesi April, 2010 "
she read down the list of foods
and it wasn't any one of them
really make her feel
even if delicious or spicy
or beautiful to behold.
she had tried all the
estrogen enhancing and
to increase her fertility
and not one lead to conception.
engaging any and all of the
five senses is one thing.
sight and sound, smell and
touch and taste.
but lighting up the sixth or seventh senses
of heart and mind is quite another.
she concluded there is no recipe.
better to enjoy
the unexpected glance,
the sparkle before the laugh
or the sigh or the kiss.
with gratitude for food and drink --
grace leads to love.
for God's sake, be wise and
separate pleasure from procreation.
Because love and desire,
together and apart
are gifts as great as
the fresh June cherries.
(From the Jade Page Press. Read whole post here.
Personally, I am pleased that it warmed up sufficiently for the
glaciers to retreat from Ohio.
My strong suit in school was history. Took only three
(required) science classes in college. My favorite was Rod
Grant's Astronomy class. Maybe that is why I like these
pictures so much. Enjoy this one. here
Sunday, May 30, 2010
He was the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig,
Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Woody Woodpecker, Foghorn
Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, and others. An iconic figure for the
generation that grew up watching "Looney Tunes".
While the following may not be the best example if one was
simply interested in Mel's voice work, it is one of the all time
great works of art. Enjoy- and wish Mel a happy birthday.
pole-star, which remains in its place while all the lesser stars
do homage to it.
2. The Master said, If out of the three hundred Songs I had
to take one phrase to cover all my teaching. I would say 'Let
there be no evil in your thoughts.'
3. The Master said, Govern the people by regulations, keep
order among them by chastisements, and they will flee from
you, and lose all self-respect. Govern them by moral force,
keep order among them by ritual and they will keep their
self-respect and come to you of their own accord.
4. The Master said, At fifteen I set my heart upon learning.
At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground. At
forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At fifty, I knew
what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them
with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of
my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped
the boundaries of right.
-The Analects of Confucius, Book II: Verse 1-4