New Author’s Journal

I started a small publication called New Authors Journal in the mid 80’s when I was employed by RPI. I had been writing short fiction stories and was trying to get some of them published in small presses throughout the country. There were a few small successes but nothing I could rely on so I decided to start my own publication. I called it New Authors Journal because it was supposed to assist in getting new authors published.

The publication was crude at first. It was printed on ordinary 8-1/2 x 11 sheets of paper folded once and staples in the middle. The cover was made of light cover stock. I was able to find some simple art work and put it on the cover. The objective had been two-fold; to assist new authors in getting published and to have a reliable place where I could have my own stories published. I was the editor and always accepted my own work for each issue. At first the periodical was published quarterly. There were only a few hundred copies of the publication made each time and I distributed them to a few places like the authors, themselves, libraries, and friends and to the libraries of various colleges.

As time went by, I was fortunate to obtain competent assistance and the booklet became more and more professional.

Submissions began to come from all over the world and publication was pretty regular at three or four issues a year. Of later times, when I have been engrossed in publishing books on various subjects, the publications have been more erratic but it is still being published on an occasional basis. There are many references to New Authors Journal on the Internet.

I never created a web site for New Authors Journal but I believe its two objectives were and are being met.

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The True Value of Money

It seems to me that some people have no concept as to the real value of money. They use it in much the same way that one consumes a fancy dessert after a dining. The money is there; it promises to give pleasure in being spent; therefore it is spent.

When the money is gone, these people work in order to get more money and be able to do some more spending at a later time. Sadly, some of this spending becomes a debt on a credit card but that’s another topic.

I like to think of money and the use of it as was taught in the New Testament in the parable of the prodigal son.
In biblical times, people would often keep at least one piece of livestock that was fed a special diet to fatten it up, thus making it more flavorful when prepared as a meal. Slaughtering this animal was to be done on rare and special occasions. Thus when the prodigal son returns, the father “kills the fatted calf” to show that the celebration is out of the ordinary.
The value of a dollar does not remain constant at all times. In times when inflation is rampant, it loses value; in times when it is invested wisely, it grows in value. I suggest that you treat a dollar the same way that you would treat a fatted calf. Invest it wisely, then use it for a special purpose on rare and special occasions.

Some special occasions are to start a new business, to make down payment on the purchase of a home, to send a child off to college, and, of course, when it comes time to retire. There are other occasions; some occurring at unexpected times. And the time to start fattening the calf is not when you and the calf are middle aged but in your youth, when you obtain your very first calf.

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What is Old

As an octogenarian, I feel I can comment about age. What is old?

These days old is not what it used to be. When I was 27, I felt that a person who was 50 years old has reached old age. I used to wonder whether I would live long enough to see the year 2000 arrive.

But times have changed. People are living longer now and staying young looking even after age 50. Advances in Medicine have made living longer easier. At age 65, the age of retirement in the old days, has people still living vigorously, many continuing to work well past this age.

I think the age we used to think of a youth should be extended to about 55. The age we used to term middle age should extend to about 78. There should be an age period called “Almost Old” that begins at 78 and extends to about 90. I think old age can be determined to begin at 90.

What I’m saying, though, is open to modification. As people get older, they tend to push the age that they consider defines old age further and further into the future. When I reach 90, I may decide to shift it to 95.

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Weight Control

I believe the control of weight is highly important in our quest to live a long, healthful life. In this endeavor, I have been on so many diets that I lost count. All the diets were successful but I regained the weight I had lost soon afterwards.

I went on my first diet when I was about twelve years old. It had become clear to me that I tended to be stocky. Being of short stature, I knew something had to be done when my weight hit 180. I lost forty pounds and regained it soon afterwards.

In the Service, weight control did not seem to be a problem. I can see now that the reason was obvious. Army life is a busy life. It did not matter how much I consumed, never accumulated at my waist.

After returning from the Service, I remember going from 140 to 180 and back over and over again. Each diet was a calorie diet. I restricted my consumption of food until I reached my goal over a period of several months; then I’d relax with the obvious result.

It was not until I was over seventy years old that I decided I had to go on a diet, attain a goal of 140, and stay there. I weighed about 190 at the time.

To ensure that this next diet was going to be my last, I purchased a doctor’s scale. This allowed me to measure my weight to the nearest two ounces, to an eighth of a pound. Using Excel, I made a chart that gave me goals to strive for as I drove to reach 140. The goals started with one pound a week for several weeks, then half a pound a week for several weeks, then one-quarter pound for several weeks, until I had reached 140.

One new feature was that I should diet six days during the week and eat unrestrictedly on Saturdays.

The diet worked. I reach each of the periodic goals as planned over a period of about six months. Then began the period of weight maintenance. I found that in order to stay at 140, I had to keep dieting as I had been doing. And I also realized that keeping myself from regaining my weight, I had to keep on dieting for the rest of my life. It has been eight years since the diet began. I stayed with my plan; diet strictly during the week and relax on Saturdays. The only change I made was to allow myself to maintain my weight at 150 rather than 140.

Daily dieting has become a way of life for me. I don’t consider it a hardship. It’s hard work during the week but Saturdays make everything worth while.

Maintaining weight at a reasonable level is not easy. Everyone who is serious about doing this needs to develop a plan that works for him or her. The plan I use may be no good for anybody else except me so I don’t advocate it. But I do suggest that anyone who agrees with me that weight control is essential develop a plan that is custom-tailored for the individual involved, then stick to it. Yes, it may turn out to be a lifelong battle that constantly needs to be won, but the results are well worth it.

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Early Days of Stock Investing

After I had learned that the stock market does not have to be associated with the word crash, I began purchasing stock in earnest feeling that this was the road to financial independence.

I opened an account with Spencer Trask on State Street in Schenectady and purchased shares in Bethlehem Steel and Liggett and Myers. I bought these because the names were familiar and I felt that the companies had good futures. The stocks didn’t immediately begin going up as I had hoped and expected. I realized that I should select stocks more carefully.

I felt that fundamental quality was the key and began searching for stocks that exhibited good fundamentals. These were stocks that were low priced, had a good record of earnings growth, paid a dividend, had no debt, and had a reasonable price to earning record. I selected a stock named Simplicity Pattern and bought 100 shares for about ten dollars a share. I had no idea what the company did. I thought it made patterns for industrial tools. It came as a surprised that it made patterns used for sewing.

The stock rose dramatically and had doubled in value within a year. I then bought some Doctor Pepper, Friendly Ice Cream, and Dunkin’ Donuts. These did well. I ran out of money but wanted more stock. I had never heard of a margin account and did not know I could borrow money from Spencer Trask. But I was receiving my shares in paper form. I took some of this paper to a bank and the bank allowed me to borrow sixty percent of the stock’s value. I had to leave the stock with the bank and had to pay interest on the loan every three months.

I bought more stock and took this stock to a different bank and borrowed money from it. This led to more stock purchasing and more borrowing. Eventually, I had loans from several banks and had purchased a great deal of stock. It was several years later that I fully realized how dangerous it had been to use this technique and how lucky I had been that the stock market was in an upward spurt such that anything anybody selected was likely to rise in value.

If the market had gone down even a little, I could have lost everything like a the toppling of a row of dominoes.

My representative at Spencer Trask retired and I opened an account with Merrill Lynch. This was a margin account and I was able to borrow all the funds I needed from this company. The banks began charging ten percent interest and I paid back all the loans.

By this time reality had set in. It had become clear that stocks go down as well as up. But I had learned how deal with down markets as well as those that went up.

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