Dear Mr. President

Hi our Prezza! How the hell are you? Had enough vacations on my tax dollar, thrown enough star studded parties yet to actually DO something – anything? Or still pinning the blame for everything (like all of your loathsome kind) on your predecessor. Yes, I’m sorry, I don’t care much for politicians of any party or persuasion.

Actually, to tell you the truth, what I want to ask you about is rather selfish of me but here goes….

When I became a US citizen, I was quite proud, especially when the examiner at the joke of a test that passes for a citizenship examination told me “Congrats, you got all the answers correct, most Americans couldn’t do that!”

“Really?” I asked, “How many would they get right then?”

“Three or four out of ten if you are lucky,” says she…..

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So, I digress, apologies.

Everything was OK until I decided to move back to Europe. It was only then my problems started. See, I know that you with your millions of dollars in income only pay what – 19% taxes?, well, I with my low six figure dollar salary pay something like 28%. Guess I am the rich you want to squeeze except? I mean that’s fine, if I am sat in the US actually using the place but when I am here – in Europe – for 7-years, it gets a bit tiresome to pay you taxes so you can get elected again promising free phones on my hard earned dollar.

Ok – yes, you are right. I don’t pay all of my taxes to the US. I pay my Czech taxes first and then we take what I would owe in the USA, subtract the Czech taxes (more or less), and what is left I pay the IRS. Fortunately there is a tax treaty in place. But I still have to file a 60+ page tax return and that costs me a bunch of cash too in fees every year.

To be honest, I don’t mind paying the taxes for nothing in return. It’s just that as far as you are concerned all overseas Americans are crooks. Yes, we are viewed as criminals. That’s why we have to also produce an annual report listing all of our overseas bank accounts and balances and submit that as well right? That’s why my Czech bank has to report to the IRS as well right? You want COMPLETE visibility into my finances just so you can be absolutely sure I’m not cheating.

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But, Mr. Prezza, this causes me some issues. Most banks here won’t accept US citizens as customers because they don’t want to have the expense and burden of reporting stuff to you all of the time. So, its kind of tough to find a bank to deal with…

Oh, I could use my US bank you say!

Yes, well, since I have no US residence, I don’t have an address there do I? You know what that means right? Yep – no US bank account for little ol’ me…. can’t have one without a US residential address.

Its OK Mr Prezza, I think its great I can’t open a bank account anywhere as it means I can keep all my cash as cash. That way, when you and your government decide to make a grab for more of my money, you won’t be able to get it.

But wait, without a bank account, how do I pay my taxes…….?

While this is a tongue in cheek article let me tell you all, the US government is making life for US citizens overseas almost impossible and demanding more and more visibility into our private affairs. I for one have had enough so I am looking at dumping that citizenship….

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Oh wait, to do that I have now to pretend to sell everything I have, pay capital gains taxes on everything, and only then I am free…. Think that through people……Nice.

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Plumbing

I’m not sure what consciousness is and apparently scientists are clueless too but, I do know that I am conscious – most of the time. Consciousness is associated with the brain – I guess people would argue as to whether the brain is an instrument of consciousness or actually creates the illusion of it. I prefer to believe the former of course. However, if you really think about what we are we are just brains on sticks. The stick is the spine of course but that’s pretty much what we are right? A brain on a stick. The rest of it is plumbing and a sack to hold it all in.

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The problem is that occasionally, the plumbing goes wrong. It did for me. About 18-months ago, my plumbing had a blockage and the blockage needed to be removed. Some 10cm of my plumbing was removed and stitched back together again. The whole experience really made me see myself as so much plumbing equipment so that my brain – on a stick – can be kept fueled. It’s quite an efficient arrangement actually and even the sack that holds it all together can sometimes be rather attractive!

The idea of a brain on a stick was also sort of put forward in the past too. In Comte de Gabalis, one finds Merlin’s Prophecy and in that we find reference to the stick…interpreted as follows;

The spinal cord is “just like a tree with its innumerable branches covering the whole of the human body, the roots being upwards and the branches downwards.” * The spinal cord is the tree whose roots and branches are here mentioned, and connects those minor brain centres which are seats of the higher consciousness in man and which when energised enable him to draw spiritual nourishment and illumination from the heaven-world”. “As trees by their extremities are rooted in the earth, and through this are earthly in every part, in the same manner divine natures are rooted by their summits in the One.” PROCLUS. To-day man is rooted in the earth. To-morrow, awakening to a consciousness of his divine nature, he shall be rooted in the One, and such radiation of Spiritual Light will result that the newness of the world will be a miracle.

In fact, there are many veiled and not so veiled references to the brain on a stick in ancient texts and documents.

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So I quite like the idea of being a brain on a stick with plumbing and a sack to hold it all in…. hope my plumbing holds…

What if I were a Wizard….

I was thinking today (dangerous activity in of itself), what would it be like to be a wizard. Yes, a wizard. Like Gandalf except maybe not so hairy! Would I use my power wisely? Would using my power for good be actually good? And, more importantly, what would I do to those BMW drivers that push me out the way lights flashing aggressively in my mirror?

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If you had that kind of power and you intervened for good – you know, cured someone of a terminal disease or something – would that actually be good? What would happen to the karma? I recall reading something by Franz Bardon about this. He did some healing and he had to deal with the karma issue too. It would seem that is was or could be an unpleasant experience with many un-thought of and unconsidered ripple effects. The question I was left with was, am I doing good interfering in someone else’s life even if I meant it to be positive? The question is a little like the one where you wonder what would happen if you went back in time and changed something. And the fact is, this is exactly what you would be doing…. You would change the future by interfering.

Imagine, a child lays starving to death. You raise your wand and pow! The child is well, has plenty of food and lives a long life. You just did a great thing right? How the hell do you know? Maybe the child had designed its life for some reason of karma and you with your bloody good intentions and wand just screwed everything up. Maybe, the child goes on to become a mass murderer. The list of questions is endless.

The dilemma reminds me of the meeting of Moses with Melchizedek… it too had a surprising outcome and I recreate it here (taken from the Comte de Gabalis).

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When found they one of our servants to whom we had vouch-safed our mercy, and whom we had instructed with our knowledge. And Moses said to him, ‘Shall I follow thee that thou teach me, for guidance, of that which thou too hast been taught?’
He said, ‘Verily, thou canst not have patience with me;
How canst thou be patient in matters whose meaning thou comprehendest not?’
He said, ‘Thou shalt find me patient if God please, nor will I disobey thy bidding.’
He said, ‘Then, if thou follow me, ask me not ofaught until I have given thee an account thereof.’
So they both went on, till they embarked in a ship, and he–the unknown–staved it in. ‘What!’ said Moses, ‘hast thou staved it in that thou mayest drown its crew? a strange thing now hast thou done!’
He said, ‘Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not have patience with me?’
He said, ‘Chide me not that I forgat, nor lay on me a hard command.’
Then went they on till they met a youth, and he slew him. Said Moses, ‘Hast thou slain him who is free from guilt of blood? Now hast thou wrought a grievous thing!’
He said, Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not have patience with me?’
Moses said, ‘If after this I ask thee aught, then let me be thy comrade no longer; but now hast thou my excuse.’
They went on till they came to the people of a city. Of this people they asked food, but they refused them for guests. And they found in it a wall that was about to fall, and he set it upright. Said Moses, ‘If thou hadst wished, for this thou mightest have obtained pay.’
He said, This is the parting point between me and thee. But I will first tell thee the meaning of that which thou couldst not await with patience.
‘As to the vessel, it belonged to poor men who toiled upon the sea, and I was minded to damage it, for in their rear was a king who seized every ship by force.
As to the youth his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should trouble them by error and infidelity.
And we desired that their Lord might give them in his place a child, better than he in virtue, and nearer to filial piety.
And as to the wall, it belonged to two orphan youths in the city, and beneath it was their treasure: and their father was a righteous man: and thy Lord desired that they should reach the age of strength, and take forth their treasure through the mercy of thy Lord. And not of mine own will have I done this. This is the interpretation of that which thou couldst not bear with patience.
THE KORAN, SURA IS, THE CAVE, EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY EDITION, PAGES 186-188.

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I’m interested in people’s opinions on this – what do you think?……

I’m a Total Failure

I was reading an article by my friend and partner in crime in writing the Mystical Hexagram this morning on her blog. I suddenly understood that I am a total and utter failure.

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It’s true. I am.

She has over 800 subscribers to her blog!!!! I have been blogging for years and have never developed any kind of a following at all. Nope. I am a total failure as a blogger. Inept. Asteroth’s Domain – online since 2005 has 4 followers! How damning.

I’m sorry though. I’m not quitting. I like failure….. I am used to it. Ever since I can remember I have failed at things or, quite honestly, decided I am crap at stuff. I recall when age 12 playing school soccer with my new glasses on suddenly understanding how people could head a soccer ball. They could actually see it. Of course, by that age, it was far too late to develop any sporting ability now that I could see. I suck at so many things its not true. I trip over the smallest obstacles, I can’t fix anything, I have two left feet and two right hands. But, I don’t care….

I’m quite happy about who I am these days. I like myself you see. Not in an egotistical way but I am comfortable with myself (well mostly – that belly and those man boobs excepted). I am who I am and I do what I do. It’s great. I can’t be labelled. I am maverick.

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I have also learned that mistakes and ineptness are useful. If you really try hard you can actually learn from mistakes. You can! Its not easy I will admit, but its possible. Ineptness – well it strengthens you. You learn to adapt you see. Weakness becomes strength. Age does this to us I think. We mellow and we learn who we are and to be comfortable with that.

In terms of blogging, writing books and so one, I just keep at it. Why not? It is fun.

Sex Sells

Ha…. that got ya didn’t it. Sex really does sell but this post isn’t about sex. I was just being sneaky hoping to catch your eye and stimulate your hormones….

Sales.

If you write books, you like to see them sell. At least I do. I don’t write books because they look pretty and therefore wonderful on my shelves at home. Nope, I want people to actually read the buggers. OK, so I could give them away, and I do, quite a few anyway, but really I’d quite like to live as a writer. That means generating cash and at my age, I’m not gonna be able to do that shaking my booty (actually, at no point in my life would that have been viable). So, yep, sorry my friends… it is all about sales.

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So, how many books can an author expect to sell?

You would be astounded if you knew how FEW books you have to sell to make a best sellers list in a specific genre. You’d be blown away by how many books the average author doesn’t sell. I was. It’s an industry in which .01% of the authors sell 80% of the books. selling a few hundred books in a specific genre will put you on a best sellers list. Apparently, some 300 sales a day will put you atop of the Amazon.com best sellers list…Selling a few hundred books in a specific category isn’t bad at all apparently.

So, lets say a book sells 500 and the royalty is 10% of lets say a $15 price. That is the grand total of $750 royalties. Not great is it…. Further, lets say that the author paid some set up fees and spent some money marketing, takings may be just a few hundred bucks – that for a reasonable seller. OK – its not that simple as there are print books, ebooks and all kinds of markets and genres etc. but it isn’t a luxury lifestyle unless you are JK Rowling or a stephen King.

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So, as I sat looking at 6-years of royalty statements last night for Inner Journeys, I was reasonably happy. I barely made a penny but it did shift around 350 copies to date and it still sells around 20 a year. The best deal I ever did was the hedge fund book. Being a business book they paid us upfront. It was in the thousands of dollars….. nice if you can get that kind of work.

But, I am encouraged. If IJ sold 350 to date and lets say each copy gets sold on or passed on 2-3 times, well, some 1000+ people may actually of read it. That’s satisfying.

I guess then if I want to be a ‘professional’ author, meaning living off the ill gotten gains of my keyboard, then either I gotta get lucky, spend 90% of my time marketing rather than writing or write a ton and a half of books…..

Or, maybe I should write a book about sex?

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Why This Blog?

So I have been blogging at Asteroth’s Domain since what? 2005! I started it when Inner Journeys: Explorations of the Soul was published. Like all first time authors, I had half expected the book to sell, if not in the thousands then certainly in the many hundreds. ‘Build it and they will come’ was my mantra…. These days I know a lot more about publishing books (especially in rather strange and suspicious genres!) and much more about blogging. At one time, I think I had 8 blogs on the go. One even had hundreds of visitors a day! Then, well, I got busy, stopped posting and things declined. These days, I have more books out and far fewer blogs.

So why would I build another blog? (this one!).

Well, it struck me that nowhere do I have an online presence that brings together all the incoherent strands of stuff that make up the me. You know, there is the poetry (some of it isn’t too bad… even if I say so myself), there is the interest in the Czech Republic, there is the small ExPats group I co-built with a colleague in Brno, there are my business books on exciting and interesting topics like ETRM software yes, and Hedge Funds…. everyone loves a hedge fund! There are my weird occult books and now, yes, a novel! But how to pull it all together with some clever marketing statement and coherent brand? Problematic huh?

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Well, it says “Dr. Gary (G.) Michael Vasey writes extensively across a number of disparate areas in which he has a passionate interest.” on my Amazon authors page and that’s probably not a bad description. Or maybe we could just say the Wacky World of Dr. Vasey?

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Whatever. It doesn’t matter. From now on, this site will be used to pull everything together – whatever the everything turns out to be. Most certainly it will be a bunch of new books because I am addicted to writing and publishing books. We will see won’t we…….

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