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.
Once approximately every six months we must change our mail, television, phone service, and a few other things as we migrate back and forth between the snow and cold of the Salt Lake Valley and the relative warmth of St. George UT. Once again we are going through the miseries and frustrations of trying to get our mail correctly forwarded and delivered. We needed to postpone our relocation to St. George since one of our granddaughters decided that she wanted to get married the day after Thanksgiving. We were happy to oblige by postponing our departure so we could be at her wedding.
So. . . we made a trip to the local postoffice. I explained to the clerk that what we wanted to do was to postpone mail forwarding from SL to St. George for a month, and to continue forwarding mail from St. George to SL for another month. Complicated? The clerk couldn't fathom what I was talking about. A manager was called in who understood quickly what I wanted and said he would forward the request to St. George to continue forwarding our mail from St. George to SL for another month.
Lo and behold, miracle of miracles, our neighbor in St. G. called us to tell us she was at the mailboxes in St. George when the mail delivery person was dumping a load of mail in our box that should have been forwarded to SL. So, another phone call to the St. George PO to straighten it out. Now, we must confront the probable issues when we actually make our change. I can truthfully say that in 15 years, the post office has never gotten our mail forwarding changes right. One summer, we didn't get our mail for 3 months. Turned out the regional PO had filed the wrong forwarding card in front of the correct card and was, therefore, sitting on our mail for 3 months.
Of course, the problem of never following through and of making errors in doing things is not unique to the post office. We typically also have problems with the TV, phone service, and internet service and have to make a half dozen calls or so to straighten them out. This experience is delightful since one must deal with automated horror machines that leave you dangling forever while continuing to tell us that our call is important to them and that if we will just patiently wait for another hour we might be privileged to speak to someone. Changing the Salt Lake Papers to St. George involves speaking to an outsourced call service in Honduras. Totally disgusting. We could save all of these problems if we would just cancel TV, phone, internet, magazines, newspapers, and other such stuff and go back to living the standard of living I grew up with in northwest Wyoming.
Meanwhile, would it be possible to try and train people to doublecheck what they do and make sure they get it right? At least for those slow on the draw who don't have brains or professionalism enough to check stuff without mommie standing over them and reminding them? Is that asking too much? My new secretary when I became department chair at BYU asked if I had any instructions for her. I said no, other than making sure that you doublecheck and proofread everything. She was competent enough to already be doing all of that, one in ten million. And, to my knowledge, she never made a mistake. And our department nominated her for the All-University service award for outstanding secretary which she breezed through and won, much to the consternation of many secretaries old enough to be her mother.
I signed up for Pinterest quite awhile ago. I always try almost everything out that is new and looks interesting. Then I ignored Pinterest up until last week. My perusual of Pinterest suggested vast infiltration of pins and boards from the fairer and younger gender, young females, that is. Pins seemed to flutter around female attire, flowery and lacy doodads, and a zillion other efforts to organize and file information of little interest to me. Meanwhile, I was off on a Twitter crusade. I kept posting snide political comments on Twitter because I knew none of my family would likely ever see such comments, beings as how I am regarded as a hopeless degenerate Democrat. I ground my way up to about 400 followers, which have stayed constant over quite a few months. My posts on Curmudgeonly Professor were automatically reposted to Facebook and Twitter, so I still had some presence there. I had a sterling list of distinguished people I was supposed to follow. However, as time went on, too many Twitter posts were unintelligible mishmashes of hashtags, trivial nothings, and inside information understood maybe by the original poster and one potential postee. Meanwhile, the rest of us were scurrying and scrolling and trolling trying to find a Twitter tweet worth looking at. Maybe I just don't follow the right tweeters. But I seemed to waste a lot of time trying to follow stuff that just didn't make any, or much, sense. So I will keep my Twitter account and check it occasionally, posting from my blog. But my former true love, Twitter, is now fading as my former ardor has dissipated, having met my new and exciting best love, Pinterest.
Once I discovered I could use Pinterest for a giant filing cabinet to sort stuff I find on the internet, I was hooked. Ninety-eight percent of my affection was transferred from Twitter tweeting to Pinterest pinning. I first had to overlook the fact that the stuff I am interested in has a paucity of male pinners. Presumably males are busy working, gathering around the water cooler or going on coffee breaks while their dearly beloved spouses deal with broken water pipes, grubby sinks, piles of dishes, indelible stains in laundry, incorrigible but otherwise adorable children, and preparing for the most coveted moment of the day when overworked hubby comes in the door, asks "what's for dinner" and then heads for the remote and the couch. Since my wife ran into some health problems a couple of years ago, I have learned to feel very, very guilty for my shameful lack of support for cooking and housecleaning over the past 60 years. (Our sixty-first anniversary is coming late December). Thus, I have had to school myself in the fine culinary arts of gourmet cooking like beans and fried eggs, and trying to figure out how to get soap scum off shower doors. Enter Pioneer Woman and Mel's Kitchen Cafe, bless them both and all their cute kids. Actually, I have learned to make quite a few things, like Mel's "best clam chowder" ever, which my wife hates so I get to eat it for lunch for a week and it is very, very good.
Then behold, once I got used to the idea that my name, Dwight, didn't quite ring true with names like Doris and Isabel and Sandra and a million other female names, I gleefully started sorting recipes, food blogs, and cleaning posts and blogs and filing them all on wonderful, wonderful Pinterest. I once contacted Mel of the famed Mel's Kitchen Cafe, never expecting to hear back, that as far as I could tell I was her only male commenter. You can sign up for Pinterest and find my posts, to date, and follow my conscientious search for new and exciting stuff to file away on my Pinterest boards. My efforts have already paid off as I successfully cleaned my shower doors for the first time in 150 years with vinegar and dishwashing soap. Who knew?
So until a new and sexier and more wondrous cyber doodad comes along, I will remain true to my new and now truest love, Pinterest. Now I need to figure out how to use Pinterest and Etsy to see if we can sell a few of our wondrous photo greeting cards which are pretty darn spiffy if I do so say so. Happy pinning from the Curmudgeonly Professor
I taught economics for 45 years. I taught thousands and thousands of introductory economics students, upper division students, masters students, and Ph.D. students in four universities. Students taking introductory economics often hated the course. When I see people today and they ask me what I taught when I taught school, universally and without exception they typically throw up. People reiterate that econ was one of their most difficult and hated classes. More is the pity, since economic illiteracy and stupidity are at the very heart of many of the problems facing our country and the world today. People and politicians cheerfully substitute their own ideological crackpot economics for sound economic reasoning and analysis. As I was warned during an early graduate econ class at the University of Michigan, "Good economics is rarely good politics."
To keep a class of 400 students semi-alert during my two decades at Brigham Young University, even 20 percent alert, I invented outrageous stories and finally began simplifying economic analysis. To begin with, on the first day of school, I usually said, "I would like all the students from Idaho to please leave now. We have too many students in here." The class would look around at each other and ask one another, "What did he say?" But no one ever left. Either I had no one from Idaho in the class or they were being sneaky about it. If they had known how much they were going to hate economics, they would have cheerfully left and avoided a semester of persecution.
Of course, students came into economics biased by horror stories they heard from economic illiterates who took the class two or three times and still failed it. So they started economics with a huge load of negative thought. Then many had heard that I was a hard teacher. By hard, they meant that I covered the basic material in the textbook and then asked them a few questions about the material to see if they had learned anything. But such expectations placed much stress on students used to a less demanding curriculum.
After the first exam, the whining and weeping and wailing began. Students would pop into my office with the usual predictable complaints such as, "I really knew the material but your exam didn't allow me to show what I learned." So I would say, "Please sit down and let's give you a short oral exam and see how much you actually knew." Whereupon, the student(s) began to squirm, sat down, and quickly proved they were full of hot air and didn't know the difference between economics and sociology.
Then again, many students, though hardly a majority, really find an intellectual home in economics. Economic reasoning requires analytical reasoning, a bit of long division, and at the upper reaches, some differential calculus. Basic economics requires doing some simple equations and drawing some simple graphs. I have watched students freeze up when I draw my first graph of the course on the overhead display. The x axis? The y axis? You have lost me. The demand curve slopes downward and to the right? Why not upward and to the left?
The best students were selected as Teaching Assistants for the next semester. I had many outstanding teaching assistants, some of whom were better able to interact with students and explain the material than I could, and I was always quick to recognize such ability. Some of the best students went on to enter Ph.D. or MBA programs, and, some times, even medical and dental school. Many went to law school. These students were quick to acknowledge that sharpening up their analytical skills was critical in their professional success.
My ultimate reward would come when I would see a former student who had been out of school awhile and they would tell me, "I wish I had learned economics. Most of the work I am now doing requires economic analysis and I know I could have done a better job if I had paid attention to you." Hallelujah. Now if just one wayward economic know-nothing in Congress would just admit the same. Members of Congress should be required to sit through a basic class in economics and money and banking. But I know that is expecting too much. It is much easier to assume that economists know nothing and just spout nonsense than it is to accept the fact that you are spouting nonsense yourself.
Dad was always looking for new ways to expand his creativity and use of different kinds of wood veneers. Making inlaid Christmas cards like this one was one way he did something new. Each piece in the card is cut out by hand, then glued to a background. Probably made some time in the 1950s.
I caught Oz, our neighbor's cat, sneaking under our deck this morning. Oz's full name is Osmond, but he goes, obviously, by Oz. Oz disappears along the Jordan River for days at a time but always shows up in the neighborhood and goes home once in awhile.