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.
Life is a continuing story of choices. Decisions are a part of life that we cannot escape. Some decisions are easy and routine and we don't have to think about what to do. Others are difficult, ripe with consequences, and plagued with uncertainty. We can, however, take a major load of difficulty away from decisions if we always focus on doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing may not be the choice that will be of the greatest material advantage or give us the most convenience or result in what we had hoped for or dreamed of. Yet a clear conscience is worth more than any advantage we may have otherwise gained. Some times we may be confronted with a choice that clearly could be to our advantage if we took one path. Yet, if we end up taking advantage of someone else, or hiding information that we know but that we should have also told others about, we may gain an edge or get what we wanted to do but we will never feel that we did the right thing.
The path to a clear conscience when making choices is to ask ourselves, " What is the right thing to do here?" . We need to forget about any result that may help us or end up taking advantage of others just so we can get what we wanted but always leave us with a cloudy feeling that, some how, we missed the boat and the advantage we gained is a hollow victory plagued forever with doubt and regret.
Dear Velna, who read my Do List tasks every day through the first 287 tasks and who told me every day that I should use fewer words, here is one of the shortest tasks I have written. Yet, I think it makes the point and I know you have already approved it.
Task Number 298: Always do the right thing. That way you can sleep nights without worry, look others in the face and know you have been honest with them and haven't taken advantage in any unfair way, and continue on with a smile on your face. Keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
I had a clear and unambiguous dream last night. Ninety nine percent of my dreams vanish into thin air, or are troubled nightmares, or are about looking for something or walking down an unknown road. But this dream was one of those rare dreams that was so crystal clear I could remember every detail when I woke up.
What I dreamed is that I was giving a presentation to a large group of people about the importance of photography in genealogy. My first camera was a baby brownie at the age of 13 or so and for some mysterious reason I have bought dozens of updated cameras over the years. I graduated from black and white box cameras to 35 mm cameras and Kodachrome and ultimately to digital cameras. When I was young I took photos of my four sisters, brother, parents, the farm where we lived, the river near by and other scenes. As it turned out, those photos are the only photos my siblings have of our growing up years. Unfortunately, I or no one else ever thought about making sure I was in some of the photos since I was the one who took almost all of them. Today those photos are treasures of great price. Many of the most priceless memories I and my siblings have of our childhood are locked into those wonderful images of our youth. In turn, those photos become an additional treasure to our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, and so on down the line. Of course, one of the difficulties in those days was the fact that I had to take my little rolls of film to town to the drug store and pay to have prints made. Since I had no money, every roll of film developed was a precious and valued gift. Then, with 35 mm., we had to have the film developed and converted to slides. And that was expensive in the days when $1 may have meant an hour and a half of work.
Today we live in an age of photographic miracles. Anyone with a smartphone can take thousands of good photos if they will take a few minutes to learn how to use the wonderful camera in the phone. Digital cameras by the dozens are available at all price ranges. We can take an infinite number of photos for free, basically, and delete generously the duplicates and bad photos without paying to have them developed.
One problem today is that so many people don't take photography seriously. A few quick clicks and a fast post to Facebook and photography is over. While instant gratification on Instagram, Facebook, and other media outlets can be a valuable means of communication and can provide enjoyment to many people, the popularity of instant and transient photography is not going to be much help for family records and genealogy. Unless some effort is made to preserve these photos and make them available to family and others, all of the instant photography is going to vanish into thin air.
Digital photography offers a multitude of ways to preserve and distribute photos. The two most important ways, to me at least, of saving and distributing photos are these:
Storing on CDs and DVDs and distributing these discs to family members and others. Even these methods may be outdated by continuing technology shifts so we have to stay up-to-date on the latest methods of saving and storing photos so our descendants don't end up with a pile of unusable discs.
Print photo books. Printing photo books offers the most permanent and attractive way of saving photos, although the number of photos saved in photo books is likely to be significantly smaller than the vast numbers of photos you can save on CDs and DVDs. Dozens of photo book printing outlets exist. I like My Publisher and Artifact Uprising. Many people use Shutterfly. Shop around on the internet but check the ratings before you settle on a printer. By printing some of your best photos from Facebook and your phone memory every few months, you can be sure that you can save your images for another day. It's important to let others know how they can order copies of the books you publish if you don't just give copies to them to begin with.
So far we've talked about new photos that we are just taking now. The biggest treasure trove of photos, however, is likely to be held in shoe boxes, old albums, hard drives, on CDs and DVDs, dresser drawers, old trunks, and wherever else people saved the gems of their lifetime. Now is the time to resurrect these photos to their rightful place in family lore, history, and genealogy. Most people don't have any idea what to do with them. The best thing to do is to find some one who will scan these photos into a form you can use to print photos and photo books. Some libraries have scanners, and some photography companies will scan your shoe boxes full of photos. I have about 40 old photo albums that my wife put together over many years. If I die before doing something with these photos, none of my children or descendants will ever have an opportunity to see them. So I splurged and bought the Kodak flatbed scanner which many commercial scanners use. The miracle of this scanner is that it will scan a page in a photo album and then separate the photos on that page into separate photos just as if you had scanned the photos individually.
By taking a little time now to manage and distribute current photos and to find a method to preserve old photos, you can bestow a priceless gift to your children and to future generations. You can find much information on line about printing, scanning, and storing photos. Delaying too long can mean the loss of a valuable heritage. Doing something about your photos can provide an incredible boost to anyone doing family history or genealogy.
And that is what my dream was all about. Maybe there was a purpose to my dreaming this dream. I like to think that maybe there was a purpose.
Many of the most annoying events of daily life can be avoided if we take steps in the first place to keep things in order. Here are just a few examples of situations that become nagging pains in the neck and troublesome tasks:
Hundreds or thousands of emails piled up on our computers.
Password frustration from not recording or keeping track of 2 zillion passwords.
Not paying attention to bill due dates and getting charged late fees.
Postponing urgent tasks until the last minute when it is too late to remedy situations appropriately.
Avoiding fixing leaky faucets, broken light fixtures, sagging hinges, and countless other little annoyances around the house.
Not paying attention to your car and ending up with a flat tire, a stalled engine, and a tow truck.
Postponing necessary doctor's visits so that your life gets complicated from something that might have been avoided in the first place.
If you are a student, cramming all night before exams because you were too lazy to study ahead of time.
Avoiding making amends or apologies and letting personal relationships fester.
Clogging your mind with garbage. You know what I mean. Avoid time wasters and enjoy mental happiness.
Leaving papers and mail lying around instead of taking care of stuff in the first place and thus avoiding nasty clean up and sorting out chores.
Quit being late for everything. Try being 5 minutes early and see how much stress that relieves.
Simplify your life.
Quit buying so much stuff that you may use only once or twice or not at all and then have to store, insure, take care of, repair, and otherwise waste a whole bunch of time looking after.
Follow basic health rules for eating, exercise, sleep, medications, and daily routines to save yourself possible grief and misery and unexpected doctor and dentist visits.
So what have I left out? Surely following as many of these suggestions as possible would have saved me considerable misery and frustration over the years. What takes only a few minutes or an hour now could save untold amounts of time and expense to take care of things later.
Task number 298: Change your habits and avoid clutter. Don't even think about throwing that paper or pair of socks on the floor. Good luck, enjoy a simpler and less complicated life, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
One surprising benefit from my kids forcing me to buy an iPhone was my pleasant discovery that the iPhone had a built in steps pedometer. I have been relatively successful in losing weight by following the simple rule "eat less", but I hadn't paid much attention to the second cardinal rule of daily life "move more." Once I started monitoring my steps on a daily basis, I was shocked to see how sedentary I remained even though I thought I was moving around enough during the day. Once this bit of information sunk in, I remembered reading about how Nelson Mandela, the South African hero, kept himself in good physical condition while confined for many years to a tiny jail cell. My ability to walk normally vanished, probably permanently, when a severe vertigo attack landed me in the hospital two years ago and wrecked my balance. I move around fairly well with a cane, though it is difficult to manage stairs and high curbs.
So thus began my quest to increase my steps. I first ramped my walking up to 3,000 steps a day, then 4,000, then 5,000. On some days I managed 6,000 steps. Steps became a game and not a chore. Every time I got up, I would move around for a few minutes. Going to get the mail and walking with my cane beyond the mail box nets me nearly 1,000 steps a day. I know I feel better and that my legs are stronger so I can stand in the kitchen and do chores around the house without any leg pain or discomfort.
If you are a couch potato, start eating less and moving more. You don't need to read ten diet books and 50 exercise books although using common sense in choosing the right foods to eat less and knowing which exercises are right for you so that you don't overdo or cause muscle damage are still important to know about. But anyone can take more steps, and taking more steps is such a powerful step (no pun intended) in the right direction, that you will be soon motivated to expand your transition from an overweight couch potato to a healthier, thinner, happier person. And, miraculously, I always find that when I succeed at one thing, like taking more steps and eating less, that so many other things that improve my life become almost automatic, easy to do without much thought, and then I remain grateful for my kids forcing me to buy an iPhone and for following my own simple rule of eating less.
OK Velna, who always chastised me each day for writing too-lengthy do list tasks, this one isn't so long, but I hope it makes a point. Doing simple things can benefit our lives and the lives of others in so many ways.
Do List task number 298: Take more steps. Start moving, start taking steps, get a pedometer or use your iPhone, and quit sitting still for hours at a time. Your health and well being are too important and too valuable to ignore. Good luck, keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.