A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
When we make lists, we can either make a list in our minds, in which case we will likely forget what we wanted to remember, or we can write down what we need to remember. Even writing something down is no iron-clad guarantee that we will remember what we wrote, since we can lose our written messages about as fast as we can forget and ignore our mental post-it-notes.
When my wife wants me to remember to do something, she has tried sticking up a post-it-note in an obvious place where, she supposes, I cannot help but see it and pay attention to what she wrote and then, miracle of miracles, take care of what she had in mind for me to do. However, I have found that if I ignore the note for a few days it becomes a part of the scenery and I am not even aware that the note is there.
In any event, writing things down can be a major help in making some order out of the chaos and uncertainties of daily life. A list at the grocery store can be an enormous help so that we don't have to wander up and down every aisle buying whatever we think we might possibly need but not being really sure whether we need it or not. My wife shops with a list. My contention is that I don't know what I need until I see it. But I am surely and slowly converting myself over to my wife's superior way of thinking.
Taking the time to write just a few words in a variety of places each day can change our lives for the better. Writing a food consumption diary has been shown to accelerate weight loss and maintain weight loss longer than just thinking about what we are eating. Writing a daily journal can help us keep up to date with what we are doing and what we need to do. Writing a few words daily can also be an enormous help in problem solving and smoothing over difficulties that may be plaguing us and keeping us in a state of discouragement. Writing "To Do" lists can provide reminders of things that we are prone to forget and don't want to do. Post-it-Notes can be memory joggers and can help us avoid things that we know we should take care of. Writing thank you cards can give a boost to someone else and can help strengthen our friendships and family ties.
I often hear the excuse that "I just don't have anything to write." Writing begets words. As we write more words, we think of more things to write and say. As we make lists, we think more clearly about what we need to do to take care of things that need tended and fixed. As we write thoughtful little notes to others throughout the day, we help keep all of our work and family relationships on a positive and friendly basis. Maybe texting works in some cases, but the Curmudgeonly Professor would be pleased if people would send handwritten notes that can be saved as mementos rather than get countless text messages that are deleted as soon as they are sent.
When I started writing my 2015 Do List on January 1 of this year, I had the impossible idea that I could come up with enough words to write 365 entries between January 1 and December 31. I worry that I might run out of words. My wife tells me not to worry about it, that I can always come up with enough words for another day. As I write each day, I spend more time thinking about what to write. The more I write, and the more I think about what I am writing, the more ideas that pop into my mind for further daily posts. Continual writing is the key. Continual writing motivates us to think more about what we are doing and then generates more words, more ideas, and more thoughts. And then some times we wonder where all of these words came from. Now I am nearly through the first five months of the year. Can I come up with enough words to write To Do List tasks for another seven months? Only time will tell.
Task Number 143; Write more words. Write lists, diaries, journals, thank you notes, words of love and encouragement. But write. The more we write, the easier writing gets. Good luck, keep going, and see where more writing can take you. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Some words can empower us. Other words can destroy our hopes and generate gloom and disappointment. The words we choose can be either motivating forces or they can drag us down and leave us floundering. I have found that I must watch out that the negative words I may choose do not become my mantra and guideposts for the day or for even the days to follow.
I have written before about working with my grandfather stacking grain bundles to get ready for the threshing machine when I was in my early teens. My grandfather was always looking for a lesson to teach me, and the lesson for the day was "The Little Engine that Could." I had heard the story countless times, yet to this day, whenever I wonder how I am going to accomplish something, my grandfather's words still echo in my ears: "I think I can, I know I can." Just a few simple words. But simple words are often the most empowering, the most uplifting, the most memorable, and the most helpful.
Counter my grandfather's and the Little Engine's optimism with the negative words "I know I can't." Repeat "I know I can't" or "I just can't do it" a dozen times and see how far it gets you. Every day living is always a continual adventure, full of unexpected events, some times pleasant surprises, and hopefully not too many crushing mistakes and disappointments. If we let a bagful of negative thoughts guide our day and our efforts, we enhance the possibility that these negative words will be self fulfilling.
When I was working my way through college as a night janitor, I continually had to remind myself of the words "I think I can," and "I know I can," and "I must do it" as I walked the snowy and icy sidewalks in often subzero weather in Laramie Wyoming between janitor jobs in the middle of the night. I didn't think I was a hero by doing what I was doing. I just realized that doing what I needed to do was preferable to dropping out. Besides, by then, I was courting a cute 16 year old blonde girl I met on a blind date and I needed to make another 75 cents an hour so I could take her to the movies at the WYO theater. She is making a lot of noise now in the kitchen, slamming drawers closed and such.
Our words that we keep telling ourselves can be either our guides for accomplishing our goals, or they can continue to keep us from making the changes that we need to make to improve our lives. Just as we need to be careful about the words we choose to say or write to others, we need to be even more careful about the words we say continually to ourselves, words that cloud our worries, dampen our enthusiasm, and destroy our initiative.
Task Number 142: Don't let negative words become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Good luck, speak kindly and positively to yourself, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Our wonderful neighbor surprised us by planting a zucchini, a cucumber, and two tomato plants. I can hardly wait for the bounteous garden produce of summer, the farmer's markets, and several months of the most wonderful fruits and vegetables. Winter drags on a bit when you have expensive hothouse and imported tomatoes, expensive fresh vegetables and fruit, and you keep wishing summer would hurry up and come.
Task Number 141: Use caution in your food consumption on Memorial Day. Here are some suggested precautions you might consider imprinting on your mind:
Don't make a pig out of yourself.
Don't undo the progress you have already made in losing weight for the sake of a one-day eating binge.
Don't feel obligated to eat everything there is to eat at a picnic, barbecue, or dinner table.
You will not regret it tomorrow morning when you get on the scales if you skip a second hot dog, another helping of ribs, more potato salad, the third and fourth scoops of ice cream, half a bag of potato chips dipped in cheese and sour cream, a second hamburger, or a third glass of sugar-laden lemonade or soda.
Make up your mind ahead of time that you are going to control your food intake.
Don't make a martyr out of yourself or feel sorry for yourself because you have decided not to be a glutton today.
Don't worry about insulting someone if you decline multiple food offerings.
Don't feel that you are obligated to put another couple of pounds on because you feel that someone went to a lot of work to prepare all of this food for you and others.
Keep your eye on your waistline, not on the bounteous food offerings that will stretch you into another pants size.
Realize how happy you will be at the end of the day on Memorial Day if you stick to your resolve, curb your usual insatiable appetite for food, and don't feel bloated or need to take a dozen antacids or stay awake half the night complaining of indigestion.
Accept the fact that your health and well being are worth more than any sumptuous feast on Memorial Day or any other day.
Don't give in.
Substitute sensible food options wherever possible for food you know you shouldn't eat.
Try the foods you love but take small portions and never go for seconds.
After you have conquered all of your temptations and passed up the urge to indulge yourself in eating so much wonderful food, give yourself a pat on the back.
Realize that if you behave yourself on Memorial Day, you won't have to spend the rest of the week getting rid of the extra weight you added by eating too much just for a few moments of food gratification.
You can also make out your own list of what you can or shouldn't do on Memorial Day.
Task Number 141: Use caution in food consumption on Memorial Day. Good luck, enjoy what you do eat, enjoy even more the feeling that you stayed in control, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Here are two scenarios for starting a new day. Scenario number 1:
What a rotten day.
I don't want to get up and get ready for work.
I don't want to go fix breakfast.
I've got a headache.
I didn't sleep well and I'm tired.
Why are you looking at me like that?
Will it ever quit raining? or snowing?
I hate my job.
I can't stand my boss.
We can't afford to pay our bills.
I don't want to go to the doctor.
Will you quit griping at me?
Why didn't you call the plumber?
I can't help it if I don't know how to fix anything.
I'm sick and tired of (a), (b), (c), etc. etc. etc.
Why is everyone always picking on me?
I am feeling so sorry for myself and my miserable plight.
Everything looks hopeless.
What if disaster strikes before the day is over?
What if I lose my job today?
I don't want to do this. "This" being an indefinite antecedent covering a long list of things I don't want to do and do not plan to do and hate to do.
I don't care.
Why are you frowning at me?
You never agree with me on anything.
I still don't care.
I wish people would stop telling me to have a nice day.
And on and on and on we go, off to a truly abysmal, rotten, depressing, unproductive, miserable, and useless day. No need to ask me how my day was when I drag home at 6:30, still depressed, still doomed to misery. You don't want to hear about it.
Now for Scenario Number 2:
Did you have a good night?
Do you need anything?
I'm looking forward to having a good day.
Anything I can help you with before I go to work?
Today is a new and wonderful blessing, full of opportunities and potential.
Thank you for doing my laundry and folding my clothes.
I'm going to miss you today.
Take care of yourself.
I'll take care of that chore when I get home, so don't worry about trying to do it.
I'm so grateful for everything that you do for me and our family.
I hope you get over your headache today.
Here's a little present I got for you. I hope you like it.
I'm so sorry that I forgot to take care of what you asked me to do. I'll make amends.
Why don't you sit down and rest for a few minutes while I take care of that.
Let me help with the dishes.
I'll go (a) change the baby, (b) clean up the mess, (c) read a bedtime story, (d) take the clothes out of the dryer, (e), (f), (g), etc., etc., etc.
Things are going to work out fine for us, we just need to be a little patient.
I intend to mind my p's and q's. Note: you can Google p's and q's and see what they are.
I know I can do better.
The sun will come out after the storm.
So choose which scenario you would like best. Task Number 140: Choose the words carefully to start your day. Good luck, keep going, and make the right choices for a wonderful day. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
My regular readers will be astonished with Task Number 139, which admonishes us not to use more words than necessary. The Curmudgeonly Professor has always been a multiplier of words. By multiplying words, he could lecture for hours to classes of hundreds of excited students anxious to learn about marginal costs and marginal revenues. I could also write endless pages of blue book essay exams in graduate school with beautiful penmanship. One day I got my comeuppance, so to speak, when a renowned economist wrote "Mr. Blood, you would do well to develop a more laconic style of writing." I had to look up the word laconic. Laconic meant be brief, cut out the hot air and get to the point, I don't have time to read all of your filler. I have written about this episode before, but it bears repeating.
We can explain too much, we can dig ourselves deeper into a pit by using more words than necessary, we can divulge information that we should keep to ourselves, and we can waste our time and the time of others with a flood of unnecessary words. So Task Number 139 is to be judicious in our use and choice of words and keep such words to a minimum. Good luck, keep going, and get off your social media and do something useful. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
We are spending several more days on the uses and importance of words in our lives. Words are the building blocks of our ideas, the signals for our actions, the heart of many worries and troubles, and the sources of joy and hope. The overall theme of the Curmudgeonly Professor's Do List is the theme of making changes that benefit our lives and the lives of others. The more emphasis we can place on favorable and positive words, the more likely we are to get off dead center and make one or more changes we know we should make but have just not been inspired or motivated to move forward.
So today Task Number 138 is this: Use only positive words today. You may need to restrict your thoughts and your comments to fulfill this task. You cannot, today, call the person who is driving too slow a moron, the person who is driving too fast a jerk, or the person who cut you off on the on ramp an imbecile, nor can you ascertain their questionable lineage. You cannot find fault with your spouse, your children, your mother-in-law, or your next door neighbor who has let his dog loose every day for twenty years, as ours did, to visit the more favorable locations on your front yard.
If you feel rotten, you cannot say you feel rotten. Instead, you say "I don't feel very well right now, but I know I will feel better after while." Instead of saying "I can't," say "I can." Say "I will," not "I won't." Substitute hope for hopeless, smiles for frowns, patience for criticism, and simply do not say anything that may hurt, irritate, wound, or anger anyone else. You cannot bark at the call center tech person who obviously is struggling with your request, nor can you snap at anyone who has made a mistake that affects you in some way. Your dog will instantly detect your new and wondrously kind behavior and will not slink off in the corner to avoid you and may, instead, come up and lick your face. Your spouse may wonder what you have done wrong and what guilt you are hiding as you exhibit your new and suspiciously sunshiny behavior.
No matter how much you hate your job, you will tell yourself "I am so thankful that I have work and that I can make a living" and not your usual "I hate my job and I can't stand to go to work today." Your boss may be an ogre but you will greet him or her with a smile and a cheerful greeting rather than with your usual scowl that hides your true feelings. You will do your best work today so that you can stay in a cheerful and positive mood and can go home feeling that your day has been worthwhile and that you lived up to your expectations.
Keep a journal or diary of how your day is going. List the number of times that you wanted to tell someone off, criticize someone, argue with someone, gripe, complain, and to use harmful and hurtful language. Now list the times that you successfully avoided the temptation to perform at your usual, habitual, and fault-finding self. When the day is over, evaluate your performance. If you missed a few opportunities to transform your usual sour and negative feelings into a lovable and kind disposition, tell yourself that you will do a better job tomorrow. After all, we are all going to work hard to make today's task a permanent part of our daily living. If we can accomplish that task, our road will be smoother, or troubles will be more manageable, and we are more likely to make changes, large and small, that will make us a better, healthier, more useful person.
Task Number 138: Speak only positive words today. Good luck, enjoy your brand new disposition, and send the errant drivers and others who normally irritate us on a daily basis on their way. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
I have taken thousands of photos of these mountains, but I am always excited to see what the next photo looks like. Mountains, like flowers and like almost everything else we photograph, have many faces, many looks. Wait for the light to change, the snow to fall, the rainbow to come, the summer rain to turn the mountainsides green, the autumn frost to turn the aspen to bright yellow and the scrub oak to red and brown. Then take a hundred or more new photographs of something you have just discovered and realize you are always seeing something new and previously unseen or undiscovered.