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.
We have been listing daily tasks on our 2015 Do List now for 31 days, counting today. In case you haven't followed all 31 days and 31 tasks, you can find the complete list under the heading "Categories" on the right of this blog, just go down the categories until you find "Curmudgeonly Professor's 2015 Do List." Each of these activities on the first month's do list suggested some activity or some action that could be taken to improve or change some aspect of our lives and the way we are now doing things. Now it's time for our first monthly exam, so here are the questions on the exam:
T F I have made an effort to eat less throughout each day.
T F I have made an effort to be more physically active and move around more.
T F I have made an appointment with my doctor for a complete physical exam.
T F I have defined and written down several goals I hope and plan to achieve this year.
T F I have begun keeping a daily journal in which I write my thoughts about what I want to achieve and how I am going to achieve my goals.
T F I have begun keeping a daily food and drink journal so that I can have some basis for assessing my eating patterns and so that I can identify changes that I need to make.
T F I have made an effort to record how I spend my time each day so that I can identify ways in which I can minimize time-wasting activities and focus more on the tasks that matter.
T F I have made an effort to get through bad days with less stress and more self confidence.
T F I have begun to give more thought to the consequences of each choice I make and each action I take so I can think more clearly about how these choices and actions are affecting my life.
T F I have realized that I need to get rid of resentments that I have needlessly harbored so that I can face life with a more positive and healthier outlook.
T F I have begun making a more regular practice of saying "Thank you" to anyone and everyone who does something for me in some way each day.
T F I have avoided the temptation of succumbing to one of the many diet fads and so-called magic solutions for weight loss.
T F I am drinking more water more regularly and avoiding other drinks that are either harmful in some way or loaded with calories, additives, and chemicals.
T F I have resolved not to be a quitter and to never give up on my quest for making improvements in my life that affect my health and happiness.
I have included only 14 of the 30 tasks for January in this exam. These 14 questions, however, are key questions and form the foundation for much of what we are going to include in our daily task list for another eleven months. If you are consciously eating less, and telling yourself each day at each meal and each snack time to eat less, then you are well on your way to conquering your weight problem if you have a weight problem. If you are keeping a food journal, you are adopting a practice that diet researchers have found is instrumental in helping people lose weight: People who keep a daily food journal lose more weight than people who do not keep a food journal.
I know that I have found over the years that if I can successfully implement even a few of the many changes I need to make to keep my life going as smoothly as possible, that making other changes becomes easier and more automatic because I have developed an entirely different and more conscious attitude about what I am doing each hour of each day. Thus, you may think that some of the tasks I have listed for January are either trivial or self-evident or both, but failure to pay attention to them can be costly if we are truly serious about moving our lives ahead down a more positive and healthier path. At the same time, each of the January tasks can provide a firm basis for thinking about and implementing a variety of changes in our lives that will make us at least happier and thinner by next January, if not wealthier. So take the True False exam. Reflect on what you have accomplished so far and what you need to accomplish. Then just keep going. You have your entire rest of your life in front of you. Enjoy the Super Bowl and get ready for February 2015. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Just the mental images and aromas on Super Bowl day of an endless array and flow of dips, salsas, wings, ribs, burgers, beverages, chips, crackers, sausages, and whatever else that can be barbecued, deep fried, lathered in cheese, soaked in marinade, smothered in cream cheese, or nuked in the microwave are enough to throw any idea of losing weight out the window for a day. After all, what does it matter if we add 2,500 calories for chips and dips, 1,259 calories for deep fried chicken wings, 3000 calories for super duper triple bacon quadruple cheese and triple patty burgers? You've got to live it up, enjoy life, relish the super bowl fantasy. After all, February 2 means that the real world comes crashing down on our 5 to 10 extra pounds of added fat. But we're strong, we're mature, we can handle it, we'll go on the super duper starvation weight loss and have it all back off in another six months, easy.
Grocers and restaurants are only too happy to cater to our gluttony. Restaurants are hiring extra workers while touting the number of mile long HD TVs lighting up their premises. Groceries are stocking every kind of appetizer and 200 kinds of cheese balls. Beer brewers are counting their kegs and six packs, while the soft drink semi-trucks are busy hauling sugared and caffeinated water around the country, back and forth between the bottlers and the retail outlets. Just think of the Gross Domestic Product that enhances the economy while we add to our gross domestic body weight.
The interesting thing is that many times the so-called Super Bowl can turn out to be a bore and a snore. But the Super Bowl is a ritual, no matter who is playing and no matter whether the game is a real contest or whether we are left shaking our heads and wondering how one of the teams ever got to the Super Bowl. Some women are likely to watch the game, but their main function as perceived by the male species will be to provide cold beverages, replenished snack and appetizer trays, greasy chicken wings, and all other food comforts perceived as necessary by their loving spouses.
And then the Super Bowl is ended. Whether the end is marked by a clear victory or a double overtime, the only thing left to do is to clean up the mess left by three hours of prolonged food and drink consumption. Empty bottles are gathered, a front end loader is brought in to scoop up the mess, and the Super Bowl is over. Maybe we need the Super Bowl as a respite from the tedium of daily sniping and carping among so-called politicians, or as some relief from a pressured job or a raft of personal problems. We may feel afterward that a few of the ads are the best part of the show while some of us can cheerfully ignore what apparently is meant to be entertainment at the half time.
The daily task today is to think ahead, plan ahead, and budget the amount of food and drink you will consume on Super Bowl orgy day. Repeat the mantra, eat less, drink less, behave yourself and you won't have a bushel of crocodile tears, whines, and complaints as you fight for a few days or weeks to undo the punishment you heaped on your poor body. Good luck, enjoy the game, and keep going with your plans and good intentions. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
I've often wondered how birds communicate when some goose or other bird decides that it's time to get off their bird rear ends and fly around for awhile and then land either somewhere else or come back to where they started. How does this all work?
Here is a January shot of the area surrounding the St. George LDS Temple in St. George UT. The view extends to the south end of the city into the rugged bluffs extending beyond. The photo was taken with a telephoto lens on a Canon 7D from the Red Hills Parkway. The Red Hills Parkway is an east-west connector across the tops of the bluff on the north side of St. George extending from Bluff St. on the west to the east side of St. George and into Washington City on the east. Double click for full detail.
My wife had intended to have this puzzle finished by Christmas, but the previous one she worked on was one of the most difficult puzzles she had ever tried to put together. So here are the Twelve Days of Christmas in late January.
Today's task may seem unnecessary. However, television is usually an important part of the leisure-time activities of most people and most households. Whether television programming is decided on democratically, where everyone's choices are considered, or authoritatively, where one person decides everything that will be watched, can be an important consideration in household harmony.
A high school classmate and fellow high school annual co-editor from long ago told me this story a few years ago to illustrate today's task. She told me that at least after her husband died she could have the TV remote and listen to whatever programs she chose. She said that during all of her married years her husband monopolized the TV remote and she was stuck with whatever he decided on. I find it hard to imagine that this situation could have occurred for so many years and that it could have led to so much bitterness, but apparently that was the case.
Actually, my wife and I each have our own remote. When our current television service was installed several years ago, I told the TV installer that he could do a very fine thing for our marriage if he would go out to his truck and bring in an extra remote. After initially protesting that company rules allowed only one remote, he relented, and so we have two remotes. Visitors are often astonished as they catch on to the fact that we have two remotes.
Thus, my wife and I both participate in the TV programming choices. She watches a very few programs that I can't stand, but I only gripe intermittently. She patiently watches TV sports programs and has become more of a sports trivia expert than I am. As a result of our TV programming choice procedures, we have little, if any, friction or hard feelings over what programming is selected. We both agree that most programs aren't worth watching anyway, even on a new large screen HD television set.
So today's task, if it is necessary at all, is simply this: Share the choices on television programming. Willingness to share TV programming is likely to lead to greater peace and harmony in a variety of areas of life with others in a household as greater flexibility in TV choices spreads to other household choices and activities. So share the remote, keep going, and good luck. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Today's Task Number 28 in our 2015 list of tasks is intended as much for me as it is for any of my readers. After being busy with errands and other activities most of the day, I almost decided that I wouldn't bother to post Task Number 28. First I did the usual breakfast and kitchen cleanup and dumped some baking soda in the dishwasher to get rid of the smell. Then I sorted through a bunch of books and boxed up about three dozen books to donate to Deseret Industries, the main local recycle charity. I decided I could get rid of titles like How I Can Make You Thin, How to Retire Rich, How To Find Financial Security in Your Retirement, and a few other similar books that I had never read and decided that it was too late to bother with any of them anyway. Then we went to Costco, my favorite store, where I walked over 100 miles to buy toilet paper--Costco's biggest selling product according to one recent analysis I read--tissue paper, bananas, a pineapple, sandwich rolls, a case of chicken broth, and a few other odds and ends that totaled something less than $1,000. I consumed a multitude of free samples and carefully avoided cell-phone wielding cart drivers who paid no attention to where they were going.
The checkout lady was clearly under stress because no one was there to help unload the carts or to load them again after running everything through the register. I told her that it looked like they expected her to do double duty, and she replied that she was just plain tired. Well, a checker is a human being and often we take them for granted. So I told her that I sympathized greatly with her and hoped she got safely through the rest of her shift. To which she thanked me and told me that at least my comment made her feel better. And that response made me feel that in a small way I may have helped someone for just a moment.
So tonight we had to watch the Utah Jazz lose to the not-so-well-liked LA Clippers after leading most of the game, and then the Mysteries of Laura. By then it was 11:00 p.m. and the day was waning, about to end. And I thought, what kind of a role model am I if I just throw in the towel today because I thought I was too busy today to write up something for Task Number 28? So I told myself "Don't be a Quitter." And that is the task I send along to those of you following my 2015 Do List: Once you start doing something good that you know you need to do and keep doing, don't be a quitter. Don't quit eating less. Don't quit writing in your daily journal, your food journal, and your daily account of how you spend your time. Don't give up your need to get a doctor's appointment and a medical checkup. Don't quit drinking more water. Don't quit smiling.
Then I told myself that if I quit writing my tasks today, how can I expect any of my readers to keep doing the things I am suggesting that they do to make life better for them? So here I am at 11:05 p.m., with still an hour in the day to go, and I am telling myself and anyone who is following what I write: Just don't be a quitter. Just keep on going. And smile while you keep going. Good luck, the Curmudgeonly Professor.
And just for the fun of it, I decided to add this photo to see if it would provide us all with a bit of inspiration to help us through whatever trials and tribulations we faced today by reminding us about what a beautiful world we live in.
I know this photo is out of season but we need something in January to perk us up a bit and remind us that after the winter doldrums are over, the iris and everything else will bloom again. So it doesn't hurt to have a few reminders, does it?
The original photo above was extremely dark and I guess I thought at the time it wasn't worth saving. But like many photos, a bit of touching up and removing the dark stuff results in an interesting and colorful photo.
When we stop to think about it, we find that we can achieve amazing results by making seemingly minor and somewhat effortless changes in our daily lives. One such change we can make is Task Number 27: Drink water. Perhaps we are already following this path, in which case we are on the right track.
All too often, we find people addicted to diet colas, sugared soft drinks, loaded lattes, beer and other alcoholic beverages, gallons of coffee and anything and everything else that is liquid to drink except water. If you have followed our task list and have started keeping a food (and drink) journal, you have recorded whatever you have been drinking as well as the amounts you have swallowed. Too often, we may think we are escaping the risks of sugared drinks by drinking diet drinks but many recent analyses have shown that diet drinks don't really solve many problems and may, in fact, create some health issues.
For several years I was addicted to Mountain Dew. I loved those green and red cans and kept several six-packs in my office fridge. I would come back from class and have a quick soda. Then one day I went to the hospital with atrial fibrillation and learned that caffeine can trigger A-fib. So on that day I gave up my beloved green and red cans of Mountain Dew and have never had another caffeinated beverage since. Occasionally we open a 2-liter bottle of 7-Up or some other soda at home and drink small amounts when we are thirsty. We drink a little, not much, 1% milk. Other than that, we drink water, night and day.
You may have withdrawal symptoms if you give up a caffeine-loaded regimen of beverages. You may weep crocodile tears if you decide to cut down on your cold and refreshing beverages while watching TV. You may have serious longings when you watch all the happy people downing gallons of beer on the beer commercials. But before you weep and cry too much, consider the benefits of switching mostly to water as your beverage of choice. Add up the calories you are consuming with one or two cans a day and a half dozen to a dozen cans a day. And heaven help us if you are among the happy throng that loads up on 64 ounce guzzle cups at the convenience store on the way to work. Horrors! And then think about how much time and money you are saving--time saved not having to load up on six packs and 2-liter bottles of your favorite beverages, and the money saved from not having to buy them.
Just make sure you are drinking filtered water. If you don't have a reverse osmosis or similar water filtration system in your home, you can get a filter to attach to your water tap. Bottled water is among the most unnecessary expenses imaginable although having bottled water to take on walks and trips is always a good thing to do. And if you have crummy tap water and no other way to drink pure water, bottled water may be your only choice, however pricey. You might consult your health care professional about the benefits of drinking more water. Many ills and misfortunes are caused by dehydration from insufficient consumption of water. Kidney function can potentially become a problem.
Drinking water is one of those little changes that can spin off into other changes that seem to come out of nowhere but that become obvious after we get unhooked from our previous regimen of soda and other beverages. The only cost is what we give up by switching to water. You figure out what those costs are in your own case.
So Task Number 27 is to drink water. Good luck, reach for a glass of water when you are thirsty, and keep going. January is about shot, but we have eleven more months to go, plus the rest of our lives. Can we do it? Are we up for it? I hope I am and I hope you are. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
I graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1953 with a degree in agricultural economics. I later served on the faculty of the economics department from 1965-1974 and was also, for part of this period, director of the Division of Business and Economic Research. Several times, I was summer janitor in Old Main as a student where one of my tasks was to clean the President's office which is on the second floor on the left of this photo.