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 spent three days trying to figure out how to do patterned mats with QuickMats 4, continually overlooking one minor step. This example is likely not the best example, but I have over 100 patterns and an infinite range of colors to pick from. Now I can move on to something else.
Yesterday my wife invited me to accompany her to WalMart. As we left, she did not turn where the street led to WalMart, so I inquired as to this strange route. She then informed me, for the first time, that we were first going to KMart. She has been looking for a couple of deck chairs for at least eight years and she thought she finally had found the chairs she had been searching for. First, I noticed the KMart parking lot was virtually empty. Second, I noticed the store was virtually empty. KMart was a huge, virtually empty store. Fully stocked, floors polished to a high gloss. One had to walk for miles to run into another KMart customer. I wondered how the store could possibly stay open. Time was, KMart was King. I used to warn my economics classes never, never to go to KMart on Saturday. Saturday was when working mommies had to face up to tending their little darlings and the cheapest thing to do was to take all four, five, six or more, to WalMart for a couple of hours of entertainment. Saturday mornings were not safe in WalMart with an infinite number of little darlings (dare we say brats?) running loose. "Jared, Nephi, I told you little (fill in the blank) not to knock that pile of motor oil cans over," and stuff like that echoed through the store amidst the frequent "Blue Light Specials." I haven't seen or heard of a Blue Light Special for 20 years. Now, KMart appears to be going the way of the horse harness industry, limping along, if this one store is any indicator of how other KMart stores are doing. Maybe the rest of them are thriving, but I doubt it.
Then our journey continued to WalMart. The greeter now sits on a chair behind a little lectern thing so they no longer have to stand as they largely ignore people coming and going. The chair is probably a good thing since the greeters I saw were obviously far older than I am and they can collect their wages for non-greeting in a bit more comfortable state. At least WalMart doesn't have cash register tape checker-offers that they have at Costco as you go out the door as you wait while they count all your stuff to see that you didn't sneak in an extra goodie on your way out the door, or, on the positive side, that you had everything you paid for. So, at WalMart, you don't have to stand around hoping you aren't a criminal after this meticulous search. The counting of stuff bought appears to be in direct proportion to the length of the checkout line at Costco, so some times you get a quick mark of the felt pen certifying that you are clean and you can leave with just a quick eyeball glance to see if you have anything at all in your cart or if they will call store security.
After walking thirty miles, at least, we gathered up everything on our list, waited 20 minutes in line for one of three checkers, a chronic issue we have with WalMart, divested ourselves of our last $100 of social security and federal wasteful stimulus spending that should have gone to a tax cut instead, wheel past the non-greeter, and head home. All in all, an eventful and inspiring trip. The only good thing I can say is that I am more physically fit after marathon walks through two mega stores.
Here is where my blog readers can help me: I earlier heard from my professional photographer neighbor in St. George that WalMart Fuji processing was better than Costco processing. I heard at WalMart that Sam's Club photo processing was better than WalMart's processing. Since all of the net cash in both stores ends up in the pockets of rich Arkansas multi-billionaires anyway, I did not detect that this information was disloyal to the late Sam and his now very rich heirs in any way. Besides, I was told, Sam's Club uses a dry processing, not wet, and you can get quicker service. Problem is, I don't have an active Sam's Club membership. I have read research reports showing that those who shop at Costco are on a higher social scale than Sam's Club frequenters, so I have been reluctant to lower my already-bottom-end social status. My question is: if anyone has experience with Sam's Club photo processing, please write me about it. Thank you very much. And enjoy your next trip to KMart, WalMart, Sam's Club, or Costco before you run out of toilet paper and Kleenex. Spend your stimulus checks quickly so you can run out of money again quickly and, like the banks, go ask for more stimulus money before you run out of stuff again. The Curmudgeonly Professor is a professional economist with a Ph.D., for heaven's sake, so he is an expert on all of this stuff. Have a nice day.
The clue in yesterday's USA Today crossword puzzle is "gambling site, abbr." The letters came out, by trial and error, to "OTB." This morning's USA Today conformed that the letters OTB were correct. Being ignorant of gambling sites, will someone in outer cyber space, perhaps someone who has just clicked on my epic post "Should I Wear Suspenders and Look Like Larry King?", tell me what the heck OTB stands for before I go nuts scratching my head?
The answer, according to my faithful blog reader and charming niece Julie, is "Off Track Betting." She advises that I have lived in Utah too long and that people in Colorado have more direct exposure to sin. In Utah, we just head for Wendover or Mesquite or Vegas or across the border into Idaho to buy our lottery tickets and enjoy sinning.
The Los Angeles Lakers, playing a mostly miserable game themselves as they frittered away a 20 plus lead for the third game in the first-round playoff series, ended the miseries last night for the Utah Jazz, leaving only the whatifs, the whys, the locker room cleanup, the summer vacations, the free agency and contract issues, and the question marks for the future. Laker Fans are about as scarce in Utah Jazz territory as Democrats and live dinosaurs, and to say there is no love lost doesn't even come close to the feelings Jazz fans typically have for the hated purple and gold Lakers. Jerry Sloan, new hall-of-fame inductee as the longest active coach in professional sports history with one team, explained the purple tie he wore last night which approximated Laker colors as having been purchased at a garage sale. The only interest now among Jazz fans is to see if someone else can knock the Lakers off enroute to what Jackson and gang obviously feel is their anointed right to another NBA title. All of which means that unless we turn off the television set, we will still see Jack Nicholson and the rest of the partly over-the-hill Laker celebrity gang a few more times before they take the summer off.
The problem now is, I may actually have to go back to reading books since I do not watch Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Something-or-other Housewives, and the like. Having spent about four or five hours per Jazz game, for a total of 80 games, equals 350-400 hours devoted to the Jazz this year, I pause to think what I might have accomplished in the equivalent of 10 forty hour weeks. I could have learned how to keep the toilet from running forever. Or I might have learned Photoshop. Or I might have read through a couple of dozen books. Or I might have cleaned up the mess in my den. Who knows what the world would have been like had I used the time on something besides remaining glued to the Jazz games? But, once in awhile, and some times in clusters, the athletes in professional sports execute a play of such finesse, such beauty and skill, that you remind yourself these moments were worth waiting for.
Jazz fans said goodby to Hot Rod Hundley last night, the only radio announcer the Jazz have ever had, who also doubled as TV announcer until the league made radio separate from television. As a sort of injustice to a faithful and much-loved sports figure, the league also sent Hot Rod to the rafters to the nosebleed seats where you could hardly see and where radio announcers were exiled, leaving the front seats for the big-money fat cats. So, we'll hear no more "yo-yoing belt high," or "the old cowhide sinks home," or "to the angle right," or to the angle left." Someone said in the media yesterday that Hot Rod sounded like he perennially gargled with salt water while announcing. But whatever one thought of Hot Rod, his devotion to the game and to the Jazz and to the Jazz fans who loved him was legendary and monumental, and we will all miss him, as we do when our icons vanish from our daily lives.
Obituaries are the source of much information and are intended to provide solace to the living as well as an opportunity to dwell on the accomplishments, family, and trivia of a life, depending on how much money the survivors wish to spend to publish these events to the world. Apparently there are no obstreperous, selfish, ornery, backsliders who ever die; or, if they do, they become instantly reconstituted into saints. The critical data for women is to list how many home making skills they had, including how many quilts they made, how much tatting they tatted, whether their apple pies were the best in the world, and whether they were a cheerleader and an honor student in high school.
But here in yesterday's obituaries, what should we come across but this gem:
She is survived by her . . . overprotective sister. She married a couple of losers along the way-later jettisoned.
Now there is unadulterated, unvarnished honesty for a change.
We who live in the desert are impatient when rain lasts more than a few hours, and we even become irritable when showers continue on and off for days. Sunshine is the norm in the arid and unforgiving dry climate of the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest. Thus, we must do something to counter the gloom and doom by considering how well off we are to begin with and then to realize the rain will soon be over. Most of us who live in the desert would find it hard to adjust to the constant rain and clouds of the northwest. I remember when living in Ann Arbor that the sun didn't show itself for weeks on end, but I was too busy trying to study and pass exams to notice, much. Snow in late spring is an even bigger nuisance, and I remember the last summer we lived in Laramie WY when we got two feet of snow on June 10. Water is the lifeblood of the arid west, of course, and every year the snowpack measurers and the river flow experts scratch their heads, count up their data, and worry about how many more thousands of toilets are flushing in Las Vegas every week. Too much water spells disaster, like the flood in St. George a few years ago near the place where we live there. Too little water means vulnerability to fires, denuding the hills, and making the soil ready for mud slides.
Those whose lifeblood and livelihoods are linked to the depth of water stored in reservoirs guage their planting by the expectation of irrigation flows. I remember the first time I was in Iowa and the midwest in high school where no one was hauling canvas irrigation dams and shovels around on their shoulders, there were no irrigation ditches, and water flowed down from the skies to make the corn fields green and tall. To a boy from arid Wyoming, I was amazed at realizing how much work these corn farmers were saved.
Those of us whose lives are linked to areas with only a few inches of annual rainfall are all too aware of the precarious balance between river and runoff flows and the always present danger of reverting to a landscape of cactus and jackrabbits instead of fields of sugar beets and green alfalfa. Those responsible for keeping the water flowing to crops and cities are continually balancing actual and potential shortages with the politics and verbal wars over water rights and water flows.
So, while we wait out the cloudy and dreary and rainy days, we acknowledge that we would not still be living in this part of the earth without whatever water we can get from whatever source. Mother Nature often does not behave in her allotment, sending too much if we pray too hard for rain, causing us to change our prayers for the welfare of the flood victims. Too little, and the dust swirls and the tractors sit quietly in the sheds and the farmers go to town to pass the time in their favorite haunts and bars and the trips to the bank begin to try and salvage the year's unpaid bills. Perhaps we should pray for just the right amount of moisture and not for more moisture in general. Meanwhile, the tulips are all closed, afraid to face the cold and dreary days, and I saw a horse in a pasture yesterday all hunched up, head hanging low, a perfect still life of utter horse misery, waiting for the rain to stop. Just look at the following post of the red, red, rose, cheer up, and be grateful "for the moisture."