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.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has previously announced that his spouse had banned him from accompanying her to WalMart and Costco on account of his whining and tendency to become lost in the ten acre labyrinths of monster stores. Now, being smarter than I am, my spouse has devised a new strategy: She now makes out a separate list, hands it to me, and tells me to go collect the stuff on the list while she takes a cart and goes off and finds her own stuff. That way I cannot get lost. Not only that, but she does the grocery side, thus preventing me from running up the grocery bill with impulse items like frosted Halloween orange cookies.
Today I was sent to cosmetics and to get a new battery for her watch. I collected cranberry tablets, magnesium, and headed for the shaving aisle. I spent 13 bucks on four razor blades. Which is better, the old Gillette blue blades for 25 cents apiece that you can shave with two or three times at the most, or one blade for 4 bucks plus pennies which, theoretically, lasts three months, but which begins to scrape and pull after six weeks or so? The Gillette Fusion blade is touted as having "the comfort of 5 plus the precision of 1"(trademark). The information is also spelled out in French, a language in which I became proficient enough to pass the French reading exam for my Ph.D., but which still looks mostly like misspelled English.
My most daring purchase was Axe Fresh Action deodorant stick which is "approved for hot enounters." I asked my wife "what is a hot encounter?" and she did not know. The instructions were helpful, however, which direct one to apply to underarms only. A phone number is provided for other questions in case users are not quite sure either what a hot encounter is or how to apply it to their underarms.
From thence to shampoo, where my wife thoughtfully had a $1 coupon applicable to two bottles of Suave shampoos, which cost 99 cents apiece to begin with, so I got 2 shampoos for 50 cents each, a bargain that made my coupon-clipping spouse extremely happy. My Suave shampoo is "ocean breeze, infused with sea algae extract and vitamin E." It is helpful for me to realize each time I shampoo that I am washing my hair with gunk from the ocean and that I am enjoying "the revitalizing scent of clean ocean air as gentle cleansers bring out the natural beauty of your (my) hair." Natural beauty? Hair? What little hair I have is gray, and, so far, I have never ascertained any advantage of one kind of 99 cent shampoo over any other.
So then I added Suave naturals cucumber melon rejuvenating body wash which is "infused with cucumber + melon extracts." Well, I like cucumbers and melons, and it is good to know I am sloshing off in the shower with a "rejuvenating blend of cucumber and melon extracts along with skin conditioning vitamin E." Heaven knows, I can certainly stand rejuvenating in my defunct condition.
And now to shaving cream. I have been shaving with women's shaving cream out of a pink can which does have a negative impact on my male sensibilities, so I replaced it with New! Nouveau! Gillette Series Shaving Foam Mousse A Raser, sensitive skin. Avec Aloes. Well even a dummy like me remembers that avec means with. The French angle provides a sophisticated and high end wrinkle to the shaving experience, though one wonders if the French buy 50% of the Gillette stuff, thus warranting 50% of the lanaguage on the can in French. Why not Spanish? or Greek? or Republican? Now we're down to Aquafresh triple protection advanced 2x whitening ice mint dentist recommended toothpaste that fights cavities, plaque, healthy gums, and strong teeth. Fights strong teeth? Well. I am informed that when I brush my teeth I absorb essential ingredients from my toothpaste. Well I never.
Then some Nivea sensitive post shave balm, which is alcohol and dye free which immediately calms the skin, helps prevent shaving irritations from my French labeled shaving cream can, and has moisturizers that alleviate dry skin, thus making my skin look healthy and smooth and making my skin feel relaxed and moisturized long after the application. The instructions are helpful, advising to apply to face after shaving. Who would have known?
So thus, after tromping ten miles to the back of the store to find some night light bulbs, I wend my way to the front of the store where my spousal unit awaits me, not mentioning that I no longer run off and get lost at WalMart, or chuck needless junk in the cart. She hands me a fistful of coupons that ultimately saved me $4.50, while she heads for the car and I begin my torturous grind through the check out line. After an hour, more or less, I punch in my zip code, which Costco certainly does not require, already having access to your entire personal history and every roll of toilet paper you ever bought at Costco over the past 100 years on their little magnetic strip. I leave through the Exit door, as befits proper WalMart etiquette, watching other ill-informed and ill-mannered folks exiting through the "enter" door, totally oblivious, and speaking volumes about why they shop at WalMart in the first place. And so ends another chapter in the Curmudgeonly Professor's epic adventures in the WalMart Chronicles. Enjoy.
Lesson Number 1: When you set forth on your photographic journey and take 100 or more photos, check to see if your memory card is in your camera before you go, not after you get back. Your photos will be infinitely better and you will be in a much better humor.
In the past few weeks, my wife and I have spent time in the waiting rooms of a urologist, an ophthalmologist, a cardiologist, an orthopedic specialist, an internist, a dermatologist, and tomorrow we consult with an orthopedic surgeon about my wife's upcoming surgery for hip replacement. Not to mention a dentist and an oral surgeon.
I'm not much good at trying to read in hospital and doctors' waiting rooms. My anxiety level keeps me from absorbing anything I read, anyway. So I watch people. Old and young, obese and slim, meticulously groomed and otherwise. Some with walkers, some with canes, some with oxygen, some assisted by obvious daughters, sons, and sisters and brothers. Some for whom every small step is an excruciating and unbearable pain. Some for whom every breath is a major exertion. Some with looks of despair. Others with blank looks of fear and hopelessness. Others with passive looks of endurance.
As my wife underwent a two hour cardiac stress test, which she passed, I watched a sister and a brother entertain their mother and try to keep her smiling and even laughing. After the mother and daughter spent considerable time in the testing area, the daughter came back into the waiting room and burst into tears and sat down, crying.
I thought, please dear Lord, let us take care of sick people. Let us try to help those in pain and misery find comfort and healing. Let us sort out the labyrinths of vested narrow and wrong-headed and stubborn views and spend our efforts helping people get well and reduce their pain and suffering. What valid excuse can exist for not taking care of sick people, for putting our own selfish interests first? No system will be perfect, all legislation has always been and will always be rife with holes and flaws. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't quickly pass legislation that will reduce the sleepless nights, the chronic pain, the fear, the financial ruin, and the despair of those without adequate health care. Why do we want those people on our consciences? I wonder some times if some of us even have a conscience. To help your understanding of sick and suffering and pain and fear and tears, please spend a couple of weeks in hospital and doctors' waiting rooms and then go vote.
One of the most difficult tasks in either a simple or a complex world is to discern what we know, what objective and analytical bases we have for the strongly held opinions and conclusions we have already reached. And since many of us already have our minds made up, no amount of information that discredits these ideas and opinions will typically cause us to change our position. Like the blind men and the elephant, many perspectives attach to a given set of data, which can be twisted, squeezed, sanitized, shaped, misinterpreted, and abused to support whatever opinion we have already reached. We tend not to listen to opposing viewpoints, because we "know" ahead of time that these viewpoints are warped, distorted, tainted, and "wrong."
All of this conundrum, made even more complex by the mutltitude of actors, data sources, "authorities," political viewpoints, and ideologies, leads to contentious debate, righteous indignation, absolutely certain conclusions that do not brook opposition, and wrong-headedness. Such richness of the stew contributes endlessly to delays and contention in formulation of public policy and passing legislation. Now, once again, the climate change gurus have reared their heads. The debate is reminiscent of the middle ages, when science was quieted in the name of religion. I'll trade you my climate expert for three aces and raise you one. Every one who opposes climate legislation that will protect our universe has indisputable evidence from an absolutely correct authority who has three Ph.D.s, two centuries of experience in climate and meteorology, and played quarterback for a Super Bowl team. The unwillingness to go beyond our own initial and rigidly held beliefs remains an albatross in moving forward in this area so critical to our survival as a planet.
This moving sculpture of pioneer medical care illustrates how medical care was paid for by baskets of produce and eggs and a chicken. Note the intent looks on the faces of the mother and the boy, and the kind look on the face of the country doctor. This sculpture is located at the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George UT.
Over the years, I have always supported the home team, wherever I was at the time. That process meant that I had loyalty to the U of Wyoming, Montana State, Colorado State, Michigan, Penn State, and BYU. Wyoming has had its ups and downs, crashing for years after the infamous "Black 14" episode when Coach Eaton dismissed 14 black players who were told they could not wear black arm bands at the BYU game. Montana State never roused much interest with me since I was there for such a short time and I had no experience with their rivals. Colorado State also had its ups and downs, mostly downs, during the years we were there. I sat in the 98th row in the end zone at Michigan during my grad school years there, totally in awe of the giant stadium and the team. Penn State was not yet the renowned Nittany Lions when I was there, playing in a small stadium, mostly against teams, as I remember, like Bucknell and Holy Cross. I hated BYU teams when we were at Wyoming and Colorado State, but have become attached to the "Y" since coming to Utah nearly 30 years ago. Now, like all faithful Cougar fans and Utah Jazz fans, I save my venom for the "U", the red menace from the north, and the LA Lakers. It's really hard to develop a passionate distaste for TCU, since they are relatively new to the conference.
We have attended many Holiday Bowl games, and BYU usually got beat at most of them. After the Jim McMahon and Steve Young days, and a string of other great quarterbacks, BYU struggled for a few years, went through two coaching changes following LaVell Edwards' retirement, and looked to be back on the high road to glory and sports immortality. Until they played Florida State this year, a team that itself turned out to be mediocre, and got blown out in Provo. Then the ship was righted, the interceptions stopped, and TCU appeared to be a challenge, but a manageable one. Except that TCU played like a well-oiled new machine, flawlessly, almost, and BYU played like a '73 Chevy Vega with a rusted-out carcass, 300,000 miles, and a leaking transmission. So 65,000 Cougar fans in the stands, and countless others around the planet, were wondering why they watched the game through to the end.
For those who stayed, and watched to the end, they were treated to a superb football game, though one played by TCU. How can a little tiny school like TCU put together such an impressive football team? For faithful and passionate Cougar fans, the day was a massive downer, not only because BYU was blown out so badly, with weaknesses exposed in every area of their game, but rival Utah also beat Air Force. Now the total focus will be on the BYU-Utah game in late November. Then winter will set in, and the barbershops, water fountains, emails, Twitters, and Facebooks will be saturated with the woulda's and coulda's and do we need new coaches and where will we get a defense and why couldn't we protect the quarterback and why don't the coaches put more fire into the team.
And through it all, too many of us will overlook the fact that these players are just boys, young men. They have an incredibly difficult schedule with school, football meetings, practice. By mid-season, many of them hurt and play hurt and play when they are sick and play when they have the flu. Wives and kids and parents and friends anxiously watch, hoping and praying no serious injuries will occur. And those who get hurt must go through painful surgeries, months and months of painful and time-consuming rehab. And if they have a rough game, they will hurt and grieve far more than you and I ever will. And then the next Saturday, they will run out on the field and try again, donating their time, their bodies, and their devotion to the sport once more so the rest of us can marvel at what they accomplish. And do you think the coaches won't have dozens of sleepless night and inner pain after a blowout, or even a loss? These men have families, too, who grieve with them. So, please, let's not forget the human side of the sport, the aches and pains, the discipline, the countless hours, and the hurts that make up college sports. All we have to do is watch. And that doesn't take much effort.