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.
As the Curmudgeonly Professor has heretofore noted, making up New Years' Resolutions is largely a waste of time. Chances are the New Years' resolutions one makes out this January 1 will be identical to last year's resolutions, only this time the list of resolutions will be appended with statements like, "This time I really mean it!" or "This year I will really shed 100 pounds of excess lard," or "I will really become more saintly and quit all my bad habits." Stuff like that.
Instead of going through the waste of time to write out new resolutions will actually, definitely, finally, absolutely, certainly, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die will be carried out moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, and month by month, the Curmudgeonly Professor has an alternative suggestion: make up a To-Do List.
Every once in awhile, when the spirit moves him, the Curmudgeonly Professor makes up a new To-Do List. While going through old papers, I have discovered a number of to-do lists from days of yore. Sadly, I discovered that very few of the items on the lists were ever done, and remain perpetually in the to-do category. A couple of months ago, I decided to get a head start on my slovenly and procrastinating ways and made out a complete to-do list. And then I lost it. The list miraculously resurfaced yesterday.
I counted 36 items on the list, and the number of items is growing as I gain inspiration about things that I should do. I am pleased to report that I have already completed five items on the list without even remembering they were on the list. That is five more things than I would have accomplished if I had made out a list of new years resolutions. Thus, my self confidence has been restored in the ability of mankind to move from a lower state to a higher state, at least by a little bit.
The trouble with New Years Resolutions is that they tend to be universal and ethereal pronouncements, like the gushings of Miss America candidates who want to bring about world peace, end world starvation, and end discrimination. Similar goals like "lose weight," "get more exercise," "be a kinder and nicer person" are lovely thoughts, but these kinds of thoughts are quickly relegated to the dust heap. Like deathbed repentance, as soon as the near-croaked person recovers and rises from the sick bed, like the old geezer in the John Wayne movie "The Quiet Man," the fear of dying recedes into the past and the recovered person goes on pretty much the same as he or she did before nearly passing on to the higher realms.
A to-do list, however, focuses on specific tasks. For instance, one of my tasks is to fix the hinge on the kitchen cabinet, as the door is almost off the hinges. To help remind me of the urgency of this task, I finally wrote a sticky note and attached it to the cabinet door. Not being visible enough to provide a sufficient reminder, I moved the sticky note to the face of the kitchen TV where I could not avoid seeing it day in and day out. Thus, I am firmly confident that soon I will prioritize this task and conceptualize its completion and, ultimately, see if I can figure out how to fix it. This kind of reasoning and recognition of things that one must do is far superior to the broad-guaged nonsense of New Years' Resolutions which noone has any intention ever of keeping. In the case of the kitchen cabinet door, I have every intention of fixing it,. if for no other reason than I am really weary of my long-suffering wife who keeps sweetly commenting on the necessity of this task being completed.
Similarly, all of the other tasks on my to-do list are necessary and manageable duties. I can see right off that several I can postpone as long as possible because the chances are good that they will never need to be done if enough time elapses and these duties become inconsequential and unnecessary. That is the beauty of a to-do-list as opposed to a resolutions list. The tangible duties enumerated on the to-do list pose only incidental difficulties of completion, whereas the universal and mind-bending goals of the resolutions are never going to be done in the first place and we already know that to be a fact. Thus, we have offered here a worthy alternative to the New Year's Resolutions lists, an alternative that will give one a tremendous sense of pride. And, by the way, if your goal is to lose weight, you could try losing one pound this next week, and put that on your to-do-list. Then one pound the following week, etc., etc., and thenceforth 52 pounds during the year. See how easy it is? Happy New Year.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has long ago learned, along with countless millions of other weak-willed but goodly intentioned citizens that making up New Year's Resolutions is a pitifully hopeless pastime. I heard some statistics the other day about how quickly people abandon their fleeting good intentions to repent of all their sins, lose all their excess poundage, change their nasty dispositions into Pollyannaish sweetness, quit all their offensive and obnoxious bad habits, quit wasting time watching Matlock, clean out the garage, help with the dishes, and all manner of other behavior modifications to overcome heretofore slovenly, ignorant, and lazy behavior patterns. No longer do we want to emulate Hagar the Horrible and the Born Loser on January 2.
Problem is, so the statistics show, and as a former statistician-economist, I know that statistics convey only truth, half of all folks give up on their resolutions within a couple of weeks. The new gymnasium memberships are abandoned, the frozen pies are unthawed, the trips to McDonald's recommence, the new treadmillsand exercise bikes are sent to the basement or to a garage sale, a few bad words are slipped in a moment of despair, and the Lord, who knew your future patterns beforehand, acknowledges once more your sorry and miserable plight as a human being. Within a couple more weeks, the pain of maintaining an unrealistically pure and righteous demeanor has become all too stressful, causing gastric distress, grouchiness, and doubts about the hopelessness of man. And another half of the previous half drop out. A few more days, and you guessed, it, half of the half of the half are dead ducks. Before you know it, only two or three out of hundreds of millions have maintained their fervent devotion to cleanliness of mind, body, and spirit. These people listen to Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer self-improvement tapes 24 hours a day and also participate in self-hypnosis and study their horoscopes daily to determine if they will encounter a new love life before the day is over. These people tend not to be members of the Rotary Club and have only a small circle of friends since the level of righteous and exactitude they convey is not conducive to mingling with riffraff, which most of us, regrettably, are members thereof.
All of this dire and Biblical-like pronouncement of woe and misery is not to suggest, however, that all is hopeless. In future installments, the Curmudgeonly Professor will provide greater enlightenment on these weight matters that clog our brains at this inventory-taking time of year.
I know, Christmas is over, but I have a few more Nativity scenes and I don't want them just hibernating on my hard drive until next Christmas. I hope these photos continue to remind all of us who care about the birth and life of the Savior.
2000-2009, the first decade of the new millennium. Of the thousands of books published in the 2000s, which were the ones you absolutely should read? Here are the best books of the decade, 10 books that are highly recommended and that should withstand the test of time. (Wondering which books, good and bad, were the most popular of the decade? Here are the People's Choice Top 10 Books of the Decade).
I love Best Books lists. Some courage is required to come up with a Best Books of the Decade list. I actually have read five of them and have a sixth, unread. Now to catch up on the other four, then go on to another list.
All best-books lists are pretty subjective, none more so than a list of the year's best fiction. For example, I probably experienced the most unadulterated readerly bliss this year while buried in the pages of Lev Grossman's "The Magicians," but then the quirky theme of Grossman's novel -- how a child steeped in literary fantasy like the Chronicles of Narnia comes to terms with the ambiguous nature of adulthood -- is virtually the same as that of my own nonfiction book. They even have almost the same title! And the author is a good friend. If that's not too many caveats for you, dear reader, then you can consider this a strong recommendation.
Here's another stupendous website our daughter Carolyn discovered and passed on to her parents. The Pioneer Woman is obviously a multitasker who can do anything, including passing along cheerful and uplifting comments on a multitude of topics. Her site includes cooking, home and garden, homeschooling, tasty kitchen and, to top it all off, Confessions! First blog I've seen with confessions. This blog will brighten your day and is worth preserving on your favorites and bookmark lists. Let me know if you try a recipe that really makes your day. Love, the Curmudgeonly Professor. (website is http://thepioneerwoman.com/
Make this sometime over the holidays. Serve it on Christmas Eve with your roast beef. Serve it the day after Christmas with a big Caesar salad. Eat it straight out of the pan after you’ve wrapped your last gift at 11:47 on Christmas Eve.
When our daughter Carolyn was here from Texas while her mother was recuperating from hip replacement surgery, she made a big batch of corn and chicken chowder, the recipe for which is shown in the following post. Since then, my wife has made it several more times, and given soup bowls to several neighbors instead of plates of sugared goodies. We received nothing but raves and requests for the recipe.
Carolyn also recommends that we make the shrimp enchiladas, the recipe for which is on the website. She almost drools when she tells us how good it is. I have posted the live link to MyKitchenCafe.Blogspot.com at the right under favorite blogs. Lots of really excellent stuff on My Kitchen Cafe! Try some recipes and fire back your experience with them. The Curmudgeonly Professor is switching from flowers to food. For the moment, anyway.
3 cups whole milk (I didn't have whole milk so I used 2 cups 1% and 1 cup cream)1 cup yellow corn muffin mix (Jiffy brand was recommended in the original recipe but I used a Betty Crocker mix and it worked just fine)2 T. butter1 onion, chopped fine3 garlic cloves, minced1/2 tsp. ground cumin1/2 tsp. dried oregano2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 " cubes2 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese3 cups frozen corn (not thawed)1/2 cup chopped fresh parsleysalt and pepper, to taste
A hospital, as the saying goes, is no place for sick people. It’s filled with hazards to your health, not least of which are the myriad infections, missed diagnoses, dosage mistakes and other complications that arise from human error. And in a hospital, human error seems all but inevitable. How can any one individual, or even any one team of individuals, keep all the tasks straight and anticipate all eventualities 100 percent of the time?
A simple but powerfully effective idea on how to reduce mistakes in hospitals: the checklist. The checklist also has a universal appeal in minimizing or eliminating errors in an infinite variety of activities.
Some years, the holidays seem to bustle right past, and you’re hurled into the new year — flung onward by the gravity of time — before you know it. There are also years, and this is one, when darkness seems to pile up in drifts as the nights grow longer and the day goes down into its burrow earlier and earlier.