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.
Social media electronic devices are turning users into a society of robots. When I last walked across the Brigham Young University campus a few years after I retired, the first thing I noticed was that everyone was wired to earbuds and to the umbilical cord of a smart phone. When people get together, they instantly get out their iPads, smart phones, or whatever, and begin texting away and answering calls. In grocery stores, people are yapping on phones and texting instead of looking where they are going. The instant people leave where ever they are, they immediately flip out the cell phone and begin yapping. People in waiting rooms deluge us with all of their personal junk. Unfortunately, too many people yap and text away while driving, thus killing either themselves or someone else from their passionate stupidity.
First came the cell phone, freeing us from finding a phone booth in the dark in a dangerous area when we had an emergency. The computer was already there, enabling instant communication anywhere in the world. Then came the social media. FaceBook enabled us to be in touch with the trivia and details of daily life of an infinite number of "friends." Twitter let us vent our innermost wisdom in 140 characters or less. Texting taught a generation of five year olds how to twiddle their thumbs and send messages. Hand written junior high love notes no longer are necessary since the kiddies are twiddling their thumbs with juvenile passionate messages night and day to all of their romantic attachments. The iPad became the official nanny of toddlers with, incidentally, the side benefit that little urchins are teaching themselves arithmetic and reading before they are out of diapers.
Then comes Pinterest like a bat out of you know where. I must admit, I love Pinterest. I have found more useful information on Pinterest more quickly than I ever found on Google, FaceBook, and Twitter combined. I discovered that, as a male, I am one of the 20% minority, the other 80% being sweet young things Pinteresting about their weddings, home decor, doilies, and such. But I can look up a recipe faster on Pinterest than anywhere else, and I can find how-to-do-it stuff for about anything that I should have been born knowing how to do but never learned. The only problem is that once you get started on Pinterest, you can never get out of it. You are doomed to stay there forever.
I nearly abandoned FaceBook until I discovered that I could link to a whole bunch of historical photo blogs and sources so that each day I get my fix of ancient architecture, buildings, abandoned ghost towns, and the like. Besides, FaceBook is the only way that I can keep up with what all of our extended family is doing. I mostly gave up on Twitter. Too much of Twitter is a bunch of hash tags or inside jokes or cryptic messages known only to those already initiated in the lingo of the Twitterer.
As a result, the rules of penmanship, which we so assiduously learned in first grade, no longer apply. The main requirement now is to learn what LOL stands for along with all of the other preferred shorthand texting symbols and shortcuts. As a result, we can no longer write. Since we remain glued to our phones and pads and whatever else, we hardly even know how to talk to each other. When I went away to college, it took a week for my letter to arrive back home to let my family know I had arrived in Laramie, WY safely. Now some college kids don't even cut the umbilical cord, staying in touch with mommie hour by hour and minute by minute, thus delaying the wonderful growing-up pains and process.
I'm not sure how comforting or helpful an overload of addictive social media absorption is. Maybe we would be better off if we would shut the dang things up and smile at each other, acknowledge a stranger, help someone who needs help, carry on a conversation, and act like we care more about those in our vicinity than we do about twiddling our thumbs with LOLs. Maybe we just need to tell the person next to us, verbally and vocally, that we love them. Otherwise, heaven help us if we get out of Wi-fi or cell phone range, or our batteries die, and we have to, heaven forbid, speak, write in long hand, laugh, or otherwise abandon our robot addiction and rejoin the real world. Whatever. The purpose of the Curmudgeonly Professor is to rant and rave. Have a nice day. LOL.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has now been retired for 14 years. I taught college economics classes in the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University until I was 70. I would have taught a couple of years longer, but the BYU retirement system cuts your spouse's benefit in half if you pass on, so to speak, before you officially retire. During this post-retirement time, my wife and I have lived in two retirement communities--one in St. George UT and the other in the south Salt Lake Valley. We spend about six months each year in each location. Each retirement community has about 110 condo units. During these past years, we have become acquainted with numerous retirees and have watched and observed what has happened as so many have confronted the challenges of retirement.
Here are five of the most serious mistakes people make when they retire:
Assume that your health will continue about as it has been during your retirement. Thus, people do not pay enough attention to the fact that their health will begin to deteriorate and that they will face increasingly difficult and challenging health issues as the retirement years go by. As a result, some retirees ignore the necessity of convenient access to emergency and specialized health care facilities. The dream of retiring in a dream location is enticing, but if you have to travel 50 to 100 miles or more for specialized medical care, you may rue the day you chose your existing location. Some of my high school classmates returned to our small home town of Powell in northwest Wyoming. That location meant that when my former college roommate contracted prostate cancer, he rode the "cancer bus" five days a week for two hours a day to Billings, MT, 96 miles away, for treatment. I apply the Charmin rule to retirement living location: If you run out of TP and you have to drive more than 20 minutes to buy replacements, you are living too far away.
Many retirees are not willing to give up their family home and simplify their lives. I have never met a retired couple since I retired who moved to our retirement communities who regretted giving up the family mansion and living in more convenient living quarters.
Failure to seek adequate professional financial advisors has spelled the financial doom and retirement misery for many retirees I have known. Some have succumbed to scams, some have assumed that their own "do-it-yourself" financial management would be adequate. I can list the people who went under during the recent recession or who turned their funds over to an unqualified financial hack and lost their condo and all of their financial resources.
Failure to seek professional legal help in preparing wills and planning estates. Some people assume lawyers cost too much so they do their own homemade legal papers which some qualified attorney ultimately has to spend twice as much time and expense straightening out than if they had been given the job to do in the first place.
Failure to appreciate the fact that declining health will mean paying attention to adjustments in living conditions: Face it, you will need raised toilets, grab bars in showers and along walls, a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, hand rails on your porches. I would hate to tell you the stories of people I know who have fallen and broken fingers, legs, shoulders, and who knows what else from falls. Falls are almost epidemic when care is not taken to prevent them.
Former LDS Church President Gorden Hinckley made the famous comment that "The Golden Years are full of lead." Yet, despite living with declining health, despite the tension of awaiting the latest medical test results, despite nights of worry and concern, the retired people we know mostly have a cheerful outlook on life. We confront our challenges. We look after and care for each other. We face the uncertainties and miseries of declining health. But we remain thankful for each day and for each other. By paying more realistic attention to the need for adequate retirement planning we are more likely to make the most of our retirement years.
When you take anywhere from 50-200 photos a day, it takes a couple of hours a day, at least, to do minimal editing, deleting, and all of the other little technical things you need to do to get them in shape to post and to file on your permanent archive. I can't always keep track of what I've posted before, so if I double-post something, I hope you'll just enjoy it a second time. Running a photo blog is truly a lot of detail work, but the rewards come from opening the last photo you took to see if it is a quick delete or a gorgeous keeper.