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.
I just trashed an article on procrastination. Procrastination means going into a trance and ignoring everything you are supposed to do. A whole bunch of it will never need doing anyway or, if it gets done, it will just have to be done over again. So why waste one's time? We are, after all, busy and important people.
But, reluctantly, the Curmudgeonly Professor realized with stunning immediacy today that he had never completed his analysis of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So, in an attempt to rectify this egregious oversight, here are the Eleven Pipers Piping. According to the purists, the eleven pipers represent the eleven faithful apostles. However, we don't want to mix our image of the pear tree, now deteriorated into a mere fragment of its original beauty, infested with turtle doves, calling birds and French hens, all of whom are getting terribly sick of waiting for their roosting period to be over so the hens can go back to France and lay their eggs. The geese are more problematic since they are awfully messy, hanging around the pear tree for 50 days. Someone has pilfered the golden rings and the swans got sick of swimming, the milk maids sued for job discrimination, the ladies dancing were arrested for loud and obnoxious behavior, the leaping Lords all retreated to Downton Abbey where the aristocracy and lords sat around waiting for their valets to dress them for dinner. (pause to change the batteries in my mouse).
Regrettably, The Wizard of Google provided only 95,600 (even) references to eleven pipers piping, giving us a paucity of knowledge and factoids with which to assess the eleventh day of Christmas. Author C. C. Benison wrote a mystery titled "Eleven Pipers Piping: A Father Christmas Mystery" but Amazon wants a hefty $10.69 for the Kindle edition and I am loathe to spend more than 99 cents for a Kindle book, $1.99 if it seems particularly crucial to my knowledge and entertainment. One of the reviewers, however, opined that the plot was "darned tangled" so that definitely ruled out spending $10.69 on the book.
Of greater importance, though, is the fact that you and I have twiddled away 50 days since Chrismas, leaving a mere 315 more days until we have to go through the pear tree and the calling birds one more time. The question is, how much have we accomplished in 50 days? Dang little, if you need my assessment. Since I have been connected inseparably to my iPad, I am reluctant to sit down at my two computers any more and write or edit blogs. Besides, few things are worth photographing in the dead days of winter. Right now, my iPad has run out of gas so I am reluctantly returning to bloviating on my blog while it gets juiced up again. As the LDS hymn says, Do what is right, let the consequence follow. No joke.
Eating oneself to death is more than too much edible energy in and too little exhausted energy out. In fact, a person could be rail thin and still have things eating at him or her to the point of death by stress. To be an official autocannibal, one has to be stuck in an emotional snowbank and eating his or her way out.
Excessive energy contributes to the growing concern for diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. If there were an accomplice to our national mass murder, one would have to point at our sedentary society of stress, the agricultural-industrial complex and ourselves. Hello to sugar in every possible disguise. We have a large bullseye drawn on our foreheads, targeted by the hired gun advertisers. Who else is going to buy the thousands of new products formulated every year?
Interestingly (yet not surprisingly), there are common ways that help people go from where they are to where they want to be. Drawing from these interviews and my own personal experience, and based on additional years of research, here are three ways to avoid regret and to make this year your year.
SALT LAKE CITY — It would be a glorious fight — a contest to test our mettle. My coworker at the Deseret News, Ryan Morgenegg, and I were about to push the limits of decluttering endurance.
Every workday each of us would bring in a book from home until one of us bookaholics, hopefully Morgenegg, would cry uncle.
The loser would buy the other lunch.
Along the way we both learned a lot about why people hold onto things like books. Many secrets of getting rid of clutter hit home and are now starting to affect other areas of our lives. They can also help other people eliminate book and other clutter in their lives. By having less and concentrating more on other areas of life, better purchases can be made that don't clutter.
The following incremental additions to knowledge have cluttered my brain in recent days:
1. The latest big deal for men is to have a "man cave." A "man cave?" Who is anyone kidding? The mere idea sounds totally ludicrous. Pinterest even has a board for the most outstanding versions of man caves. The NYT crossword puzzle had a clue that was answered man cave. The mere idea suggests a reversion to primitive times when people did, indeed, live in caves what with primitive inscriptions on the wall. Grade: Number 10 (out of 10) on the Gag Index.
2. A shortage of Velveeta cheese is predicted for Super Bowl weekend. Apparently Super Bowl weekend is right up there with the super pigathon food consumption days of the year. A shortage of Velveeta cheese would mean being highly creative in finding something else to dip one's 20 bags of chips in while ingesting thousands of calories and dozing through what often is a boring game. But maybe this game won't be boring since it may be played in the ice age.
3. Imagine the revelations coming to light on Downton Abbey! Orange juice! Labeled as an American idea, apparently the Brits hadn't caught on to squeezing oranges yet. Sewing machines! Imagine the poor seamstresses who will be put out of work when everyone is sewing on a treadle or electric sewing machine. Oh yes, and then we earlier had mixing machines, which were intended by evil inventors to displace half the workers in the kitchens of the rich and privileged. We can only stand small degrees of modernity on Downton Abbey, since we are all plugged into the idea that the servants are there to take care of the rich and that everyone is deliriously happy with the arrangement. Except poor Mosely, the sad sack of the Abbey, whose run of bad luck continues ad infinitum, so to speak.
4. Disposing of actors and actresses who get sick of acting on soap operas and BBC series gets to be a bit of a pickle some times. Even though Ballykissangel is long over, those of us just catching up have had to endure a cardiac arrest to do in pretty little Dervla Kirwan who plays Assumpta Fitzgerald. An entire episode was devoted to her passing on, so to speak. Doc Martin's beloved Auntie Joan was done in, as the grouchy doctor announced from the pulpit at her funeral, by being overweight. But poor Matthew Crawley was extinguished in a bloody car wreck with details shown in the last episode of last year just so he could extricate himself from the drudgery of Downton Abbey and go seek his acting fortune elsewhere. And, of course, anyone who courts Lady Mary may think twice (thrice?) since three men in her life have already been extinguished.
5. Getting rid of emails is like shoveling out the Augean stables. The more you unsubscribe, the more garbage that shows up. Deleting en masse helps. I've heard people brag about having thousands of emails untended on their hard drive.
6. I love my iPad except for: (1) pop-up ads, (2) loosey goosey flipping around, (3) unreliable back arrow which is just as likely to send you to something you looked at six months ago as what you just looked at and want to go back to. Or to which you want to go back. to.
7. The Utah Jazz may require another 4-5 years of fine tuning before the talented team of young men can become a serious and consistent threat. But the Jazz can still be a fun team to watch if you don't care about winning more than a small handful of games.
8. It snowed here in early December. Patches of snow still remain on north frontages all these weeks later. And St. George is supposed to be in the banana belt.
The Curmudgeonly Professor does not wish to overburden his reader's "little gray cells" as Poirot so descriptively calls brain activity, and so must conclude. If and when he ever learns anything else of possible importance, you can read about it here.
Starting a get-healthy program is like having a pre-exam nightmare. You walk into a strange classroom (preferably wearing pajamas), look at the test — and have no idea what any of the questions mean. Your classmates, of course, know everything.
Fitness can seem overwhelming, too. Everyone (but you) seems to understand carbs and fat, and everyone (but you) seems to know exactly how much and how to work out. Faced with the embarrassment of asking questions that everyone (but you) seems to know the answer to, you do nothing.
New products: Scale measures body fat, hydration by Deborah Porterfield, Special for USA TODAY
SCALE MONITORS FITNESS
Most any bathroom scale can tell you how much you weigh. But if you're serious about monitoring your health, you're going to want more info. One option is a know-it-all scale from Pyle Audio. Working with the included app, its Bluetooth Fitness Scale measures a variety of data related to your hydration, muscles, bones, body fat and, of course, weight. This info can be displayed on its LCD screen or transmitted wirelessly to a compatible Bluetooth device, such as the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The scale, which is made to share, can store data for up to 10 different people. Available in black, gray, green, pink and orange, it costs about $60.
We know we do. Let's face it: three square meals are no match for your appetite. The good news is that eating small meals throughout the day not only silences your grumbling stomach, but can also aid in weight loss. From soybeans to gummy bears (yes, really!), we've got 25 workout-friendly foods that can be eaten (in snack size) whenever hunger comes knocking.
A historical speech about the origin of the names of Utah places may not seem religious in nature at first glance.
That changes when the person delivering the talk is Elder Steven E. Snow, church historian and recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Snow, a St. George native who now works out of church headquarters in Salt Lake City, spoke on that subject Jan. 3 during a fireside chat at the church’s historic St. George Tabernacle.
By now, if you have been good, you have quit making feeble excuses, you have gone to the doctor and know how your thyroid is doing and whether you can blame your weight on it, checked your cholesterol to see if you are clogging your arteries, checked your blood sugar to see if you need to take steps to fix your diabetes, weighed yourself, kept a food diary for a week, and you have evaluated the results of a week's worth of posts in your food diary.
Now comes the fun part. Go through your desk drawer at the office. Get rid of the M&Ms, chips, chocolates, "energy" bars, and anything else in your goody stash. Chuck it all. Wave goodby, forever. Go through your pantry and toss out everything you know dang well you're not supposed to be eating. That's right, cookies, chips, candy, pork rinds, all the stuff you nibble on during your TV watching and your late night fridge binges. All of it in the trash. Don't think you have to economize by eating all this worthless stuff before you can toss it. You'll waste more money trying to fix your health problems from being overweight than you will ever lose by getting rid of the stuff you shouldn't eat. Out of sight, out of mind. Always ask yourself before you use fork, spoon, or glass to put something in your mouth, "What can I substitute for this?" Oh, and all soda must go. Including diet soda. If you think diet soda is good for you, you are only deluding yourself.
Now, congratulate yourself. You are free at last. And you have room in your fridge, pantry, and office desk drawer to find some healthy stuff to eat and nibble on.
According to Ask.com, on one of a piddly 898,000 posts concerning 10 lords a leaping, "A Lord a leaping is a type of dance that is wild and strenuous and it is performed between meal courses during feasts." Well, what do you know. Serve the soup, the lords all get up a leaping. Serve the truffles, the lords are at it again. Then the boar's head, and the lords just can't get enough prancing around.
The only lord I know today is Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey. Lord Grantham hardly appears as if he could gracefully and daintily leap in between courses. By the way, the food on Downton Abbey is presumably prepared at a movie set somewhere in London and the stately lord-and-lady-like meals are presumably taking place at a mansion somewhere in the boondocks. We leave it to your imagination as to how the meals get transported from point A in London to point B in the boondocks. Besides, Lord Grantham apparently is a lousy manager and poor bookkeeper and the below-stairs staff is whining a bit about less footmen, butlers, hair combers, and such, beings as how we are now in postwar England and the hoity-toity aristocracy is now on the downhill slope on account of economic necessity. Another two decades, Lord Grantham will have to go downstairs and get his own grits.
But Lady Mary, gradually recovering from her black-widowhood of having done in three men in her life, is taking issue with Lord Grantham, her daddy, over selling off a big chunk of the estate to pay the taxes. So we will see if she can outsmart the Lord of the manor before she gets too caught up in her next romance. Meanwhile, the partridge, calling birds, French hens, and turtle doves can hardly wait for the twelfth day of this tune so they can regain their freedom. So far, five hens in 24 days, averaging 4 French eggs laid per day, have laid 96 eggs. The milk maids have long since been sent off somewhere and the ladies dancing have all gone to Las Vegas, having got sick of the birds and the stupid pear tree. Two more days and we will be through with the Twelve Days of Christmas for another year.
The Curmudgeonly Professor confesses to slovenly and lazy behavior in waiting 21 days to take up the ninth day after Christmas celebrated by nine ladies dancing. Why would anyone's true love want to send their true love nine ladies dancing? Wouldn't that be a pain in the neck? Meanwhile, the Professor is concerned that a full 21 days have elapsed since Christmas and that we are finally getting around to taking up the ninth day. If I were a teacher, I would give a very low grade for such late and inexcusable performance.
In consulting my dear friend the Wizard of Google, I am pleased to see that a mere 66.9 million entries pop up for the entry "twelve days of Christmas." Clearly, this topic is more critical to the Wizard than issues like unemployment, the diminishing rate of returns, and the reasons why marginal costs are supposed to equal marginal revenue in economic analysis. I assume, without checking even 1 million of these entries, that some hidden and arcane knowledge must be associated with all these women prancing about the stupid pear tree, which by now is all bedraggled and littered by all the noisy birds roosting in it night and day. Moreover, no one has ever offered to go and gather the eggs from the French hens and, obviously, without a French rooster, these eggs will never hatch into baby hens and baby roosters.
Rather than bemoan the passage of time since Christmas has gone by, it is now time to begin planning for next Christmas. If you haven't taken your Christmas decorations and doodads down, my suggestion is just to leave the stuff up all year and save the trouble. Unless you are the compulsive decorator who has umpteen boxes of Valentine junk, 300 plastic pumpkins and goblins for Halloween, 150 pilgrims and turkeys for Thanksgiving, and your garage is littered with storage boxes for all of this valuable stuff. Not to mention 4th of July and the signing of the Magna Carta. And Cinco de Mayo. As the reader can see, the Professor is bypassing the issue of how on earth we can get rid of nine ladies dancing since the mere thought reminds him of noxious TV commercials that cause wrenching headaches. Three more days go to.
As an economist, I was inspired by estimates of the cost of providing all the items mentioned in the Twelve Days of Christmas." Besides, you will see an analysis of the inflation index for these costs.
My good neighbor who has some wonderful yellow-blooming cactus offered to transplant a start in my front yard. So here it is. If all goes well, and I'm around to see it, here's what this cactus will ultimately look like:
After you have kept your food diary for a week or more, it's time to analyze what you have written down. You might make a series of lists, such as goodies, candy, second helpings, large portions, fruits, vegetables, cereals, fried foods, fast foods, sodas and other beverages, and whatever else you consumed or drank during your first week of writing down everything you ate and drank. Now, based on what you see when you look at your weekly summary, write down a list of changes you can clearly see you need to make so that you can successfully begin eating less and losing weight. Have fun.
Like some fast food restaurants, department stores have super size, big and tall, matronly, extra large, or however they describe their clothing sections for people like me. And maybe for people like you. Number one, big and tall stuff costs more. Reason: Economists call this higher price "the price elasticity of demand." This term means that a 1% increase in price leads to virtually no change in quantity sold. The reason is obvious: Overweight people need big clothes and they have fewer purchase options. So we (they) pay through the nose for super-sized stuff.