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 all know that New Year's resolutions are smothered and nurtured by fear, good intentions, threats, genuiune desires to do something, guilt, and a host of other personal motivations. We also know that many of us just find last year's list of resolutions, update it to the current January 1, and vow that this year, we are really, really, absolutely, for dang sure, going to keep our resolve and do what we should have done ten or twenty or thirty years ago and never got around to. So, to avoid going "over the cliff," as we say today, here are some resolutions I won't make again this year:
Lose weight. Oh boy. Decades of overweight, yo-yoing, listening to cheers at Weight Watchers, counting calories, buying everything lo-fat, lo-cal, watching portions, skipping desserts, quitting drinking three cans of Mountain Dew a day (actually, because it had caffeine and caffeine caused a-fib), writing a book on weight loss, buying a library of weight loss books, trying to think myself thin, tabulating food points for Weight Watchers, keeping a food journal, listening to threats from my cardiologist, looking at myself in the mirror with disgust, actually reading a few pages in my library of weight loss books, I'm back where I started. Maybe my reverse psychology of not putting weight loss on my resolutions list will have a magic effect.
Repent of all my sins and bad habits. Actually, I don't have many sins or bad habits according to my latest tabulation. But check with my wife. But I do not seem to have made much progress in this direction. According to the LDS hymn, "angels above us are silent notes taking." Oh brother. Busy, busy, busy little angels with their celestial iPads and celestial iClouds and digital cameras. Every action? Really? How can one angel then keep track of more than one person? A point to ponder.
Become neat and orderly. This miraculous resolution is likely to be kept at about the same pace as going over the Congressional fiscal cliff, whatever that is. Some people are neat. They pick everything up. They put everything in it's place. They abhor clutter. They disdain bread crumbs. They can't stand a dirty dish in the sink. They brush their teeth three times a day, floss five times, and use dental mouth wash by the gallon. Then there are other people, like me, who have never had time, inclination, inspiration, or the ability to be neat. I have seven pages of computer passwords, with writing sideways, upside down, in the margins, circled, underlined, several ink colors. Now I have run out of space. I am planning to make a computer spread sheet of my passwords. Some time. I am in the planning and meditation stage so far. I also believe in leaving newspapers and books strewn around where they will be handy. I eschew sorting out the mess on my desk and work table, just as I did through 45 years of teaching school, because if it is sorted and put away, I will never find it again. Besides, much wasted time is avoided because much stuff put away at exorbitant expenditures of time is never needed again. Beware if you are messy and your wife is neat. Or vice versa.
Avoid procrastination. I bought a book once titled "How to overcome procrastination." But I never got around to read it or even open the cover. Just having the threatening title in my bookcase where it would remind me of my miserable status was enough. I finally donated the book to charity for someone who needed it much more than I did. I always felt that if you wait until the last minute, your mind is sharper, you use time more efficiently, and you are more likely to focus on what is really important.
Prioritize my activities. Steven Covey made a lot of money and sold a lot of books telling people what they obviously needed to know, viz., put first things first, know where you are going, and stuff like that. If people didn't piddle around so much wasting time and not having a clue about what to do next, they never would have needed to read Seven Habits. But most of us are a sorry lot and we need a guru and an overseer to remind us to get off our duffs, stop wasting time on NFL and NBA, and figure out what the heck we should be doing next. Or, as my son has told his wife frequently, with limited degrees of success, "plan your work and work your plan." I sort of operate as the spirit moves me. If something really is important then someone will make five phone calls and send four emails reminding me or fine me $50 for not renewing my business license on time. Meanwhile, I will have saved a whole bunch of time not wasting it on stuff, that in philosophical retrospect, never needed to be done in the first place and would have wasted a big chunk of my life. What seems important today may seem a small trifle tomorrow.
Set new goals. I have a whole batch of goals. Some of them I have met, like getting through a long night of janitor work at the University of Wyoming so I could collect 75 cents an hour and buy another can of Campbells's soup the next day. Or asking my new girl friend out on another date hoping she wouldn't dump me. That goal was rather clear. Or deciding I wanted to get a Ph.D. so I could sit in class another four years while my wife slaved and labored to put me through school. My goal now, as I tell my wife, is to remind her and myself that, "every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." My wife never listens to me say stuff like that any more. She knows better.
To be more optimistic and stop catastrophizing, if there is such a word. Someone once told me that if you remain a pessimist you will never be disappointed and, occasionally, you might be pleasantly surprised. My problem is, the worst outcome always seems like a possibility. I just don't know how to figure the odds.
The Curmudgeonly Professor hopes that he has inspired you to make a similar list of stuff you never have done or never really had any serious intention of doing for more than a few hours on New Year's Day. But we do wish you Happy New Year.
In today's comic strip Hagar the Horrible, Hagar, who is one of my role models, arrives home with his arrow-penetrated shield and his nicked sword, and asks Helga, "When's dinner ready?" Helga brilliantly answers "You'll get dinner sometime between now and when it's time to go to bed." To which, our hero, Hagar, concludes, "It's always nice to have a time frame."
In our extended family, I have set the example on this topic. Instead of asking when dinner will be ready, I started asking, "When will the Q-zine (sophisticated for cuisine, or dinner) be served up?' I have learned that this is a question not likely to produce positive results. During my long years of school and work, I always took a lunch or ate out somewhere at noon. When I retired twelve years ago, I had visions of having happy lunches together with my spouse. Are you kidding? My wife always polls other retired mens' wives and has yet to find one who fixes their dear husbands, who have labored in the salt mines lo these many years to provide for their dear wives, any sign of crumb of lunch. So face it, lunch is out. But dinner, that's another matter.
During the long years of work, my wife usually had one or more jobs. She came home about five or so and about six would go into the kitchen ane work some miracle with something boiled, nuked, fried, stirred, mixed, or otherwise prepared and within moments have a miraculous dinner on the table for five kids and a husband. I remember we had a lot of fish sticks. Actually, I still like fish sticks. But I never discovered that I was popular by asking how soon the Q-zine was going to be served (up). Now, unfortunately, I think some of my kids have picked up on this expression and annoy their dear spouses with this question. I imagine the response they get is something similar to Helga's words quoted above. I used to get comments in response to this question like, "When I get around to it," or, "As soon as I figure out what we can have given the fact we ran out of grocery money the middle of the month and we have seven mouths to feed," or, "After while," or some combination of all of the above.
As a general rule, men, you would get much more mileage if you would ask, "Dear, what can I fix you for dinner? Pizza? Chinese? Tacos? I'm sure they can be delivered quickly."
As part of my legendary Self Improvement Program, one of the main features is my firm resolve, more or less, to stop uttering bad words when one or more of the following events occur:
I aim a piece of trash or a Kleenex at the trash can and it flies in an arc and lands ten feet away from the intended target.
I bang my shin and it hurts.
I can't figure out the answer to a diabolical, fiendish, and evil crossword clue in the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle.
Ten minutes of egregious, loud, obnoxious ads occur just before the final end of a TV program.
I let a scrub pad fall down the garbage disposal.
The toast burns.
An egg yolk breaks when it isn't supposed to.
I wake up more often in the night than I should have to wake up.
The Salt Lake paper carrier dumps the papers out the car window at the edge of the driveway and the street instead of tossing them up toward the garage door.
My wife asks me to go with her to Kohl's Department store because she has three $10 coupons and she can't stand to throw found money like that away.
Someone cuts in line in front of me at a checkout counter.
Some moron runs a red light and would have hit us if we hadn't known ahead the driver was a moron and wouldn't stop.
When I go for a teeth cleaning and my wonderful dentist tells me I need three large fillings, one small filling, and an extraction. What are you supposed to say? Thank you? Dang?
When I tip over a full glass of water or, heaven forbid, a glass of juice. What would you say?
When the Utah Jazz cave in and lose big time one game after they played a heroic game with a big win.
When I wake up in the night and can't remember whether I took my pills or not and am concerned that I might not make it until morning and if I double dose I certainly will expire.
When I am ready to take photos of a gorgeous flower or a stunning sunrise or sunset and discover (a) my memory card is on the desk by my computer, or (b) the battery has deceased.
Ooopsy. I just punched the wrong button and all this brilliant stuff just disappeared momentarily and I thought I had lost it forever and I never would have been able to reconstruct it and it would have been lost permanently for my blog viewers. But I just got it all slithering back and repented immediately of the word I uttered, reminding myself that my intentions to stop uttering said types of words are serious and that I want to be more righteous and have a cleaner mind and vocabulary.
When I get a bunch of garbage on facebook, twitter, or my incoming email.
When my internet dies and I have to spend twenty minutes unplugging, restarting, and replugging everything, saying kind words of happiness all along the way.
I am sure there are other incidents of daily life that might prompt the temptation to utter a bad word. As our LDS hymn intones, "Let us all speak kind words to each other." Truly this goal is one worthy of seeking after and I intend to work on it incident by incident, incrementally. We will see how these intentions all work out.
My wife is a genius at pithy wry humor, none of which she ever thinks is funny and she is always wondering what I see as humorous about what she says. So here are her top three quotes for the year, one of which I posted earlier, but since it is top three caliber, it is worthy of being posted again.
I complained to her the other day that she took my cell phone away. In fact, years ago. She replied, "I did not," rather emphatically, and then added, "I just canceled your service. You still have your cell phone and you can get it out and play with it any time you want to." Then she advised me that she had saved $50 a month for ten years which adds up to $6000. But I never know when I might need a cell phone and it is a little unnerving not to be in control of one's own life.
I announced the other day that I was going to launch my famous Self Improvement Program the next day. She said, "What's the hurry? You might as well wait at least until New Years' day to start." That sort of took the urgency of Self Improvement out of the picture. Now I realize there probably is no hurry.
I was commenting while watching a political talk show that I thought the lady speaking was wearing an ugly tan leather jacket. She informed me, "I don't think someone who wears a polo shirt 365 days is hardly qualified to be a fashion commentator." Ouch.
We saw a few dreaded white things fall from the sky awhile ago and asked it not to fall any more, since we are living in the desert and this is supposed to be a balmy desert climate. Otherwise, we would have stayed in Salt Lake for the winter. So the snowflakes disappeared, on command.