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.
In beginning economics, we spend an ungodly amount of time teaching students how to measure GDP (stuff produced with US assets no matter where) and GNP (stuff produced on US soil). But GDP hardly is a measure of how well off people are. Look at this summary from The Economist and get a better idea of how we "measure what matters." Yes, it will be on the test, so don't skip it. We're trying to learn economics here.
As if it were possible, today is September 30. How did that happen? September opened on sunny, hot days, and September is going out on a dreary, cold, rainy day with frost only a day or so in the offing. September, at the beginning, always seems like such a promising month. The days in Utah are likely to be warm and clear, the leaves will only start to turn at their fringes, and enough time seems to be waiting through the month to accomplish whatever didn't get done during a quickly vanished summer.
When we lived in Laramie WY, September may or may not have been entirely an extension of summer. Frost could come to the 7200 ft. high plains as early as late August, and snow often came throughout the month. My sister just returned from Nebraska and posted photos of the snowstorm over the summit just east of Laramie on I-80, the road to Cheyenne. Snow even shows up in Laramie for an hour or two in mid-summer once in awhile. Old timers say, watch for summer, it will come on a weekend. Gardeners labor all winter to prepare blossoms for spring and to nurture the beautiful flower beds on the University of Wyoming campus. But, alas, the season is all too short.
At least I made it through my 77th birthday with considerable fanfare. I find it irritating to be so old, though I prefer it to the alternative. I was always the youngest at everything, graduating from high school at 16, college at 20, teaching college at 22, full professor at 37, married at 20. Now I am just another old person, and old persons do not have class or age distinctions, no matter how prominent or ordinary their lives may have been. The common denominators of age and survival and endurance level everyone to a democratically equal standard.
I made my annual trip through the nostalgic September songs, "September in the Rain," "September Song" (But the days grow short when you reach September). I missed the start of school for about a week and then rejoiced that I didn't have to make sure all of my lectures were prepared, my syllabi were ready, punctuated with do's and don'ts and a few threats for misdeeds. I thanked the powers that be that I did not have to spend a week at back-to-school meetings, meetings that were supposed to pump everyone full of vim and vigor and inspiration to get back in the trenches and do the best job possible. I found back-to-school meetings a drag, actually, and don't ever remember getting fired up when I needed to work overtime to get the rest of my stuff ready for the start of school after sitting in meetings all day. Administrators pontificated about worthy goals, blah-blah-blah, department heads reviewed departmental news, old-timers brought papers to continue editing, and, typically, the same hydraulic hand raisers who loved to monopolize meetings continued to endow us all with their timeless and time-wasting comments.
Now I blog. I take photographs. I edit photographs. I study photography books. I keep a running string of inane comments going on Twitter, up to 140 followers, 2 million short of Ashton Kutcher. I bug people on Facebook. Dentist, urologist, and soon cardiologist. Now October is here. My mother's birthday was October 4. Though for some reason, Mom didn't pay any attention to the birthdays of her offspring, I always sent a card and message and some times little gift for her birthday. But I think about her a little more in early October.
Winter is just around the corner, though days of luminous Indian Summer will still be here as the cottonwoods along the river and foliage everywhere turns into shades of red, brown, and yellow. And we will remain thankful for what we have, where we are, and for the promising days ahead.
One of my critics pointed out that I had not reported on my trip to Costco. Apparently, she thought I was still there. But then she is my sister and pounces on any errant or questionable material I post on my blog as quickly as it is posted. She sits there watching the RSS feed just hoping for something to pick on a bit. At least it runs up the page views a tad.
My visit to Costco was somewhat uneventful except for my wife's trip to the optical department. The reason we went to Costco in the first place was to pick up her new prescription sunglasses, ordered two weeks ago. They had been in for a week, but Costco kept calling our St. George phone no. even though we told them to call the SLC number. Then, surprise, surprise, the dark glasses had clear lenses. The person ordering the glasses submitted the wrong order. So now we wait another week or ten days.
So there was nothing else to do but pick up a couple of things. TP for one, which seems to go up in price by astronomical amounts between each visit to Costco. Picked up Grisham's Associate, realized already had it when we got home. Bananas for $1.32. Cheap. And headed to the cash register. Stopped for gourmet lunch at the deli before we left the store, two hot dogs plus drinks for 3 bucks, loaded with sodium nitrate, but absolutely delicious. Leave the store, go home. That's it. You can't leave Costco by the entrance door because people stand guard there to keep you from being tempted to wheel out your goodies without paying for them, something that apparently doesn't happen at WalMart. I did not wander off and get lost during this trip, so I incurred no spousal chastisement. End of story.
With today's propensity for lying, misrepresenting, and distorting reality in politics and in some media coverage, what can we say about the honesty of photos? Can we really believe photos we see in the media are actual images of what we would have seen had we been there? With today's Photoshop software and other photo editing software, even an amateur can turn a photo into something that is a gross misrepresentation of the original photo. Now, no one need have warts, acne, or scars, and unwanted people and distractions can be Photoshopped out of existence, so all we end up with is a photo of what we wish we were, what we think we should be, what we wish the world looked like and we ignore reality. How much photojournalism can we really believe? I would like to think most of it, since photojournalists often risk life and limb and use incredible skills to enable the rest of us to see the world as it is. We just hope that those who choose not only to lie with their distorted words, but also with photos that portray the world as they want it to appear, not as it actually is, are found out for what and who they are.
Sept. 19, 2009 | By now the arguments are familiar: Facebook is ruining our social relationships; Google is making us dumber; texting is destroying the English language as we know it. We're facing a crisis, one that could very well corrode the way humans have communicated since we first evolved from apes. What we need, so say these proud Luddites, is to turn our backs on technology and embrace not the keyboard, but the pencil.
Haven't been to Costco for two whole weeks. A huge gap in my cultural, economic, and social calendar. Unfortunately, I think Tues. is when all the good new stuff comes in, but maybe they'll have enough food samples for lunch. I'll keep you posted.
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