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 tend to waste a lot of time thinking and worrying about whether we should have done things differently in the past. Here are a few of our favorite "if onlys":
If only I had not put my money in a stock or investment scheme recommended by my friend.
If only I had kept my spending within my means.
If only I had paid more attention to my kids when they were growing up.
If only I had appreciated my spouse more over the years.
If only I had become a teacher instead of a lawyer
If only I had followed everyone's advice and not married so-and-so.
If only I had followed my doctor's advice and lost weight ten, or even twenty, years ago.
If only I had stayed more active and more physically fit instead of becoming nearly sedentary.
If only I had read more books instead of watching so much time-wasting television.
If only I had stopped being a Lakers fan.
You get the idea. You can make out your own list of "if onlys". Then if you wish, you can spend the rest of your life crying your eyes out about your past mistakes, indiscretions, shortcomings, bad habits, inattention to details, egregious sins, or whatever. By doing so, you can focus totally on your past and on your pitiful condition. Truth is, no one is going to pay much attention to you if you wallow in past miseries.
Economists have a concept called fixed costs. Fixed costs are costs we incurred in the past that we can no longer do anything about. That is why such costs are called fixed costs. They cannot be changed. Furthermore, Econ 110 teaches that you should ignore fixed costs. To the uninitiated, that advice sounds stupid. But the reason you should ignore fixed costs is that you cannot go back as if you had never incurred them.
Next lesson in Econ 110: Pay attention to variable costs. Variable costs are costs you can change, omit, vary (that is why they are called variable), fix. We don't necessarily want to totally forget yesterday, because some times we need to make amends, apologize, make up with people, ask forgiveness, and pay off debts we have incurred. But then we move on. Then we make a list of those things we can do today that will make our life better, such as the following:
Pay attention to our families and our loved ones. These people are the most important people in our lives and we should treasure them.
Become a Jazz fan instead of a Lakers fan. You will feel better, I promise.
Start moving, walking, getting up and being active, even a little, and then a little more. You will feel better almost instantly and the more you move the better you'll feel.
Pay attention to your food intake.
Get a book and read it. You might like a Kindle or a Nook or other ebook reader. People who have them say that even though they like paper books better, they read more ebooks continually than they ever read paper books.
Learn something new. Take a course at a junior college or a night school or a correspondence course. If you are unemployed, spend your time learning a new skill or sharpening up your old skills.
Get your will, your estate, and your finances in order.
Quit at least one egregious habit you have had for years. Just stop it.
Focusing on variable costs, or things we can change, is the most constructive and valuable thing we can do. We can clean up old messes, make amends where necessary, and then we won't have to fuss over those nasty fixed costs any more. Who knows, you might actually see some wisdom in the discipline of economics and become an economist.
The Utah sports world is segregated into a number of tight little kingdoms, each of which is ultimately more important than gerrymandered political districts. Starting at the north, the Aggie kingdom takes up space in Cache Valley, soundly detesting and booing both the Utah Utes and the BYU Cougars. Then comes the Weber State Wildcats with a covey of loyal fans who pretty much stay to themselves and that almost no one hates. Then comes the Big Red Utah Utes, that no one outside of Salt Lake City likes and a hop and a skip farther south and the BYU Cougars inhabit their own kingdom. Utes and Cougars do not like each other, although sometimes a Ute marries a Cougar or a family has athletes that split between BYU and Utah, and that can cause some interesting discussions. Wherever you go in Utah, you see Utah sports wear and BYU sports wear. The butcher at Costco told me my BYU hat offended him and that he didn't think he would sell me any meat. Most doctors in Utah graduated from the U med school, so chances are you are being treated by a Ute doctor who is a rabid Ute fan.
A few minor kingdoms exist with their own small but loyal fan bases, including Snow College, Southern Utah at Cedar City, and Dixie State in St. George, plus both major and minor junior colleges and private schools, and Utah Valley in Orem, destined likely to be by far the largest university in Utah and one of the largest in the west and just poised to find itself a major player in sports.
But whatever one's affiliation, the one unifying tie has been the Utah Jazz. Now the Jazz have had their fifth straight loss. With coach Jack Nicholson leading the cheers among his multi-millionaire buddies courtside at the Staples Center last night, the Jazz slumped to a 38 point deficit before Uncle Phil pulled the stars who then sat smirking on the bench (actually folding chairs) while the lesser Laker stars kept the margin in the twenties. Meanwhile Jazz exiles Boozer, Korver, and Brewer are doing just fine in Chicago and Wesley Matthews, conned out of Utah by the Trailblazers is lighting up the scoreboards in Portland. Jazz team members sat petulantly on their own folding chairs in LA with some heads partially covered, lost and dazed looks on their faces.
What to do? They can't all be sent to the D-League until they shape up. Venerable and veteran coach Jerry Sloan appears incredibly patient with his sluggish band of no-shows. Meanwhile, toilets flushed early throughout Jazzland last night as TVs clicked off and otherwise loyal and rabid Jazz fans scratched their heads and headed early to bed. Sports analysts are full of prescriptions and critiques. Some say playing for the Jazz can't be all that hard to learn since they have run only one play, the pick and roll, for 23 years, as D-Will reminded us in yesterday's press. But apparently playing defense, making shots, getting rebounds, and a few other fundamentals have escaped them, we hope temporarily. No mistake, we love our Jazz. We hate the Lakers. And we'd rather be Jazz fans and lose than be a Lakers fan and win. That's just the way it works. And some game soon, the Jazz will find themselves again and play like they did those few glorious games early in the season when they beat the best in the league before they started losing to the bottom feeders. The woeful countenances will disappear. Rebounding and shooting and defending will reappear. And we will never know what was eating them during the slump.
His name is as versatile as his game. It's a noun: An Arizona fan praised the Wildcats' defense for not letting a big-time scorer "pull a Jimmer." It's a verb: YOU GOT JIMMERED! read a sign waved in the BYU student section. It's an adjective: "He was making some Jimmer Fredette threes!" gushed Syracuse's Scoop Jardine about the six bombs Cincinnati's Dion Dixon hit from beyond the arc. Jimmer has several definitions in the Urban Dictionary, including this: One who is in range as soon as he steps off the bus.
The Curmudgeonly Professor is in an advice-giving frame of mind today, recognizing that people get rich by offering advice. The Seven Habits of this, the Twelve factors of that, the 235 secrets of Whatever, etc. People buy these books by the zillions. Covey's Seven Habits is still on the best seller list approximately 50 years after he first wrote it, proving that people never pay any attention to these habits, even after they read the book. The Curmudgeonly Professor offers his advice for free. Following are the Ten Laws of Riches, Success, and Love. You can read these in ten seconds and not waste time and money paying for the best selling book which is certain to follow.
Never waste time making out new New Year's Resolutions. Just recycle the ones you made ten or twenty years ago because chances are you haven't kept any of them anyway. You still haven't lost any weight, you still haven't repented of your egregious habits, you still do not think kind thoughts about morons on the highway. Just look at the old resolutions, file them away, and get them out again next January 1.
Never make out to-do lists. Such lists are depressing. If something really needs to be done, people will yell at you constantly until you do it, or until they get worn out bugging you about it.
Don't waste time sorting out your desk top or cleaning up your office. You'll never be able to find anything if you do this, and besides, neatness is not your "persona" and you will be uncomfortable with a neat, orderly office.
Do not accompany your wife to Wallchart, advice frequently offered by the Curmudgeonly Professor. Wives tend to be ticked if you don't stay by their elbow the entire time they are in the store and they complain for hours if they had to look for you. Best just to stay home.
Postpone tasks until the last minute before they are absolutely, definitively, positively due. That way many things won't need to be done anyway because their need has passed, and your creative juices will flow more freely under pressure and you will do a more outstanding job on last minute work, besides impressing everyone around who thought you were merely a lazy lout who never did anything.
Never, never ask questions during a meeting. The purpose of meetings is for insurance for management, deans, higher-ups who can then say they consulted everybody on everything that they had already made their minds up in the first place about and were just going through the motions having a time-wasting meeting. Eager beavers who ask questions and make suggestions in meetings merely prolong the agony of the meeting and delay your getting your coffee, diet Coke, or whatever break. Hydraulic hand raisers never succeed.
Never answer emails. If some one really wants to know something from you, they will remind you.
Learn to fill out your progress report wisely. Here's how I filled out my yearly progress report for 45 years: "Every day in every way I am doing better and better." You can imagine how outstanding I was at the end of 45 years. Now I have no need for further improvement, despite what my wife thinks.
Avoid the following topics of discussion with family, friends, and colleagues: Politics and religion. Everyone pretty much has a die hard rock solid commitment to their own beliefs and will merely be offended and convinced of your innate stupidity and bigotry if you express an idea counter to what everyone else thinks.
Buy as many impulse items as possible when you go to the grocery store--Cheetos, cookies, hot dogs, frozen lemon meringue pies, stuff like that. Best to go by yourself than to try and sneak this stuff in when shopping with your loved one who will always ask, "Do we really need that?", or "Aren't you fat enough already?"
The Curmudgeonly Professor will offer an update on these Laws of Success in a future post. For now, just pay attention to these first ten principles and tell me if your life improves as a result. Have a nice day!