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.
Seven years ago I got the bright idea to become a blogger. I like to write, and I had tons of photos residing in obscurity on my hard drive. What to name it? I was a professor of economics for 45 years and, though, I didn't think I was all that curmudgeonly, despite what some of my 20,000 plus students thought, I thought The Curmudgeonly Professor sounded like a good name. And so the name stuck.
I'll write more as the days go by about my seven years of experience with the Curmudgeonly Professor. For now, I just wanted to comment on how difficult it is to get my blog resurrected after being inactive for several months. If you read my earlier posts, you know my world went dipsy-doodle with a severe vertigo attack in early May of this year. While I didn't have any more vertigo, I became unwired, so to speak, and had difficulty with my balance and, besides, I just plain felt like heck and couldn't feel comfortable sitting at my computer. I was told at the outset I would recover, but I didn't know it would take months to get my bearings back and feel like doing anything.
Before my episode, I was averaging 180-200 page views per day. Now I am lucky if I get 50 page views per day. Of course, that is 50 more people viewing my photos than if my photos were entombed on my hard drive waiting for deletion so I can't complain about that. But I did lose most of my viewers who gave up when I went week after week without posting anything.
I mostly feel quite a bit better now and can sit at my computer and get around a lot better. I'm back to doing most of the cooking, which is difficult for my wife to do with sciatic and other disc and back pain, but walking any distance with a walking stick is still a chore. My biggest issue now, which I wrote about before and attributed possibly to overuse of my hands and fingers on my iPad while I was ill, is stiff and sore hand and fingers every time I wake up. Sleeping seems to do them in. Something to do with lubrication or something which seems to stop when sleeping, according to my extensive research on the Wizard of Google.
I do appreciate comments and would welcome more of them. My audience, however small, is worldwide, and I like to know what you think about my pictures and comments. I'm making an effort to show my world audience what Utah is like, what kinds of flowers and vegetation we have here, and what it is like to live in the face of a massive mountain range part of the year and the southwestern Utah desert part of the year. So please, whether you are from India or the Phillipines or Canada or from Lightning Flats Wyoming, let me hear from you. You don't have to like everything I post, but be nice, please, when you write your comments. My photo taking for the past several months has been restricted to what I can see from the deck of my condominium but I have had a grand front row seat to mountains, clouds, birds, and the whole wide world. Sunsets, sunrises, clouds, rain, sunshine, changes in vegetation color, have all fascinated me and have led to several thousand more pictures on my hard drive of which you have seen only a small sampling. Plus I have well over 150,000 photos on my hard drive so I can always pluck something from the archives and show it again.
In any case, I feel blessed so richly and in so many ways to be recovering and to be able to assist my wife in doing the things we need to do each day. Photography teaches us that the world and everything in it is beautiful and worth photographing and studying and marveling at and looking at in awe at the complexity and beauty of the Lord's creations. And blogging has taught me that I can push the publish button on a new entry and never know who will read it or see it in what far corner of the world. And that is truly a wonderful thing. If just one person somewhere sees an image that inspires them or reminds them of something wonderful or prods them to go take a photograph or two themselves, then my efforts have been well repaid.
My wife and I have been married for a long time. Since 1952 to be exact. Before that, we dated for three years and broke it off once for a short time when we were afraid we were too young and too serious. During that break up period, I drove by her house frequently to see if there was a light in her corner basement window. Then she toodled off to BYU from Laramie for a couple of quarters and left me sad and despondent for the winter. I was 17 and a college freshman working my way through college, and my girl friend was 16 roaming the halls of Laramie High School when we went on that fateful blind date to a square dance in early January of 1950.
My wife, Velna, has had as her main challenge all these years the responsibility of being my psychiatrist. She is always upbeat and optimistic. I always assume the worst. I have been a worrywart all my life and have thought I might have had two or three dozen fatal illnesses beginning with polio, extending through MS in my 40s, which took 43 years to discover I didn't have after all, and a plethora of other disturbing symptoms and ailments. Of course, if one is neurotic, every symptom is potentially fatal.
Here is a summary of my wife's psychiatric advice and counseling, which has saved me numerous hours on a couch telling stories to someone who would have charged me big bucks to tell them.
I asked my wife, "How do you stay so upbeat and optimistic all the time?" Her answer: "I assume every day is going to be a good day and act accordingly."
When I say something like, "I'm not long for this world," or "I can feel the life forces waning," I get a variety of responses, all of which are very short and uncomplimentary.
My wife lives in chronic pain, and she rarely complains unless the pain becomes extraordinary, which happens now and then. Her general statement is something like, "It is what it is."
When I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through the day while I am in this lengthy recovery period from vertigo, she usually says something like, "Just keep going."
When I start wandering through the pitfalls of our various ailments, she usually says something pithy like "It is what it is."
Now she very much likes the advice we just recently heard: "It could be worse." So whenever I start rattling off the terrible condition of my physical ailments, she gives me a list of 10 or 12 or more ailments that "could be worse." So true. And it does help keep things in perspective.
You get the general idea. My wife is a woman of few words but when she utters a few words you had better pay attention and heed them if you know what is good for you. During our courtship decades ago, I would write long flowery letters and she would write short succinct letters with gems like "Jean and I went to Woolworth's today," or perhaps, "I fixed my hair this morning" leaving me to ponder whether any hidden ardor or lovelorn clues were hidden between the lines.
I wish I had the courage and strength my wife has to help us get through these challenging late years in my life. But she has an extraordinary ability, in few but meaningful words, to put my worries more or less to rest, and the capacity to ignore my negative diatribes and still face the day and its challenges with equanimity and courage without tossing me out the door. How could I be so lucky.
Long time followers of my Curmudgeonly Professor blog have likely given up on new postings by now. In early May, in the middle of the second night after returning to Salt Lake from Riverton, I woke up in the middle of the night with a severe attack of vertigo and landed in the emergency room. I stayed in the hospital for three days going through every heart, blood, MRI, and any other test they could come up with and ended up with a diagnosis of vertigo. I have learned since that several members of my family and some friends have had or now have regular bouts with vertigo. My problem was that my attack unwired my balance and it has taken weeks to at least partially recover where I was before the attack. Thanks to a wonderful physical therapist and an equally wonderful cardiologist, I am finally on the mend and, for the first time, actually feel up to sitting down at the computer and explaining my absence.
I passed every MRI test, every blood test, kidney function, echo cardiogram and EKG, and was left totally puzzled about why I felt so miserable for so long. I had to use a walker when I came home. Now, I finally think I am on the mend after about six weeks. I have whined and complained a lot but without much sympathy from my wife who has her own serious health problems. We have had a lot of help from family, friends, church members, neighbors, and health and medical professionals. We are grateful to everyone for kind thoughts, food, visits, phone calls, and for caring, help with shopping and doctor visits. planting 4 dozen petunias in our front flower garden, and so many other things. I keep hearing the words "it could have been worse" echoing through my mind as I think of friends and neighbors with far more serious and devastating health issues than I apparently have.
So please don't give up on the Curmudgeonly Professor. I have been worried that I would not recover balance enough to take photos as I have always done. Maybe, however, I might just recover enough to do that. I have a brand new fancy schmancy and expensive macro lens that I bought just before I got smashed and I am anxious to learn how to take pictures of bugs, spiders and other little bitty things. Plus I have taken hundreds of pictures 0f the beautiful mountain views just outside our windows to the east side of the south Salt Lake Valley. I hope to see you all back and will try to come up with more sarcastic wisdom to entertain and enlighten you. Thanks for enduring and for your patience.
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.
If you are a compulsive-obsessive type of person with the idea that if-I-don't-do-this-right-now-I-will-certainly-perish, the Curmudgeonly Professor is sending you some help with these five ingenious ideas that apparently have not penetrated your own brain cells:
There is a difference between what you think you should do right now and what someone else thinks you should do right now. I assume that somewhere someone has done a study showing definitively that 78% of stuff that people thinks that needs to be done does not need to be done. Moreover, if you ignore stuff that needs to be done, you will save a great deal of time on stuff that doesn't matter anyway. If something does matter, like if the toilet paper holder has fallen off the wall a year or two ago, and people really think it needs to be fixed, someone else will fix it anyway and probably do a better job than you ever would.
Pressuring yourself to do stuff "right now" upsets your digestive tract, raises your blood pressure, and causes stress that could lead to marital discord and increased medical expenses. If you relax awhile, someone else may take care of it, or you will realize that what you needed to do right now didn't need to be done at all.
If you go take a nap, as Dagwood does when Blondie is bugging the daylights out of him to fix the flooding sink, you may have the inspiration to figure out how to get someone else to fix it or you may come up with a better idea and plan about how to go about fixing it than if you just blunder right into the project and turn the water off.
If you do everything "right now", you will have nothing to do in the future, necessitating a complete reordering of analytical priorities and your evaluation of the diminishing rate of marginal utility.
Procrastinating allows time for more orderly planning, setting up Power Point presentations for analytical efficiency, and making decision trees on your whiteboard so that you don't mess up when you just blunder in to something that you are in a foul mood about because (a) you don't want to do it, (b) you don't want to figure out how to do it, and (c) you have put it off this long, what will another two or three months matter?
The Curmudgeonly Professor hopes this collection of wisdom about procrastinating will help you rationalize your own pitiful lack of focus on what you should be doing. Have a nice day.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has been deeply remiss in writing words of wisdom on this blog. He has had recurring thoughts of just abandoning the whole thing after five plus years of being imprisoned by it each day, checking page views to see how many of his sisters have been paying attention to it, a duty from which they are not allowed to shirk. Several valid reasons exist for not posting more stuff, among which:
The Curmudgeonly Professor is growing older and, as a result, is becoming more defunct. Should he last that long, he will reach his 82nd birthday by September 17. We all know that old people are not supposed to know anything any more.
Doctor and dentist visits have curtailed interest in blogging.
After several years of reading very little, I have started reading books once more, with a vengeance. There is a high opportunity cost to continual blogging, meaning, in economic translation, that you give up a lot of other stuff to do it and reading is one thing that I have done all my life until becoming captive to my blogs.
To use another economics term, one reaches the Point of Diminishing Marginal Utility after blogging for 5 and 1/2 years, meaning that increments to satisfaction from additional hours spent blogging begin to piddle away into less and less and teenier units of satisfaction.
So here are some cogent deep thoughts for today:
Daylight savings time reeks. Who needs another hour of daylight at night when you have to get up in the dark to get the newspaper?
BYU (Brigham Young University to the uninitiated) broke our hearts again yesterday, with both the men's and women's basketball teams losing to the villain Gonzaga.
As to Downton Abbey, we presume that Lady Mary and Lord Grantham are off tending the pigs this summer, since clearly pig farming was going to save the Abbey and prevent the Lords and Ladies from having to can all the common laborers and folks in the lower dungeons of the Abbey and maybe put on their own coats and tie their own ties for a change. As a former pig farmer in the Future Farmers of America, I could offer them technical support if so asked. Hard to tell about how well the pig venture will work, since Lord Grantham is clearly an economic dunce having already squandered Lady Cora's fortune by getting bamboozled on worthless Canadian railway stock.
But Mr. Bates has found a new lease on life by saving the Kingdom after cleverly purloining a damning letter from a visitor's pocket that apparently could have raised havoc with the monarchy. Lady Edith is spending the summer in Switzerland rescuing her child so she can deposit it in one of their tenant farmer families to be raised at somewhat less status than the lords and ladies of the Abbey. Mr. Carson, wading into the ocean in the declining moments of the year's finale holding hands with his ladyhousekeeper, may have found romance after all, after he takes time out from Downton to appear on Somerset Murders or whatever. A truly stunning development. Lady Mary's suitors are languishing in a state of unrequited and unreciprocated adoration, both pledging to continue the battle. The slimy Mr. Barrow was beginning to get his comeuppance, long overdue from Ms. Baxter who basically told him to go fly a kite, she wasn't going to tattle for him any dang longer. Hurray, I say.
We live in eager anticipation of next year's Abbey developments.
My sisters have strong opinions on what is happening on the Abbey, having sprung for the seasons's DVD and cheated and watched it all way ahead of time and then acting snooty about knowing what was going to happen while I remained in ignorance.
Now on to Mr. Selfridge, which my sisters claim is too racy for them to watch although in Downton the Turkish ambassador did manage to croak early in the series and had to be hauled out, plus the occurrence of a few other assorted infidelities and hanky-pankyings by the Lords and Ladies of the Abbey.
Thus ends this current round of imparted wisdom which the Professor hopes you have found as an invaluable increment to your own knowledge and wellbeing. Have a nice day.
I just trashed an article on procrastination. Procrastination means going into a trance and ignoring everything you are supposed to do. A whole bunch of it will never need doing anyway or, if it gets done, it will just have to be done over again. So why waste one's time? We are, after all, busy and important people.
But, reluctantly, the Curmudgeonly Professor realized with stunning immediacy today that he had never completed his analysis of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So, in an attempt to rectify this egregious oversight, here are the Eleven Pipers Piping. According to the purists, the eleven pipers represent the eleven faithful apostles. However, we don't want to mix our image of the pear tree, now deteriorated into a mere fragment of its original beauty, infested with turtle doves, calling birds and French hens, all of whom are getting terribly sick of waiting for their roosting period to be over so the hens can go back to France and lay their eggs. The geese are more problematic since they are awfully messy, hanging around the pear tree for 50 days. Someone has pilfered the golden rings and the swans got sick of swimming, the milk maids sued for job discrimination, the ladies dancing were arrested for loud and obnoxious behavior, the leaping Lords all retreated to Downton Abbey where the aristocracy and lords sat around waiting for their valets to dress them for dinner. (pause to change the batteries in my mouse).
Regrettably, The Wizard of Google provided only 95,600 (even) references to eleven pipers piping, giving us a paucity of knowledge and factoids with which to assess the eleventh day of Christmas. Author C. C. Benison wrote a mystery titled "Eleven Pipers Piping: A Father Christmas Mystery" but Amazon wants a hefty $10.69 for the Kindle edition and I am loathe to spend more than 99 cents for a Kindle book, $1.99 if it seems particularly crucial to my knowledge and entertainment. One of the reviewers, however, opined that the plot was "darned tangled" so that definitely ruled out spending $10.69 on the book.
Of greater importance, though, is the fact that you and I have twiddled away 50 days since Chrismas, leaving a mere 315 more days until we have to go through the pear tree and the calling birds one more time. The question is, how much have we accomplished in 50 days? Dang little, if you need my assessment. Since I have been connected inseparably to my iPad, I am reluctant to sit down at my two computers any more and write or edit blogs. Besides, few things are worth photographing in the dead days of winter. Right now, my iPad has run out of gas so I am reluctantly returning to bloviating on my blog while it gets juiced up again. As the LDS hymn says, Do what is right, let the consequence follow. No joke.
The following incremental additions to knowledge have cluttered my brain in recent days:
1. The latest big deal for men is to have a "man cave." A "man cave?" Who is anyone kidding? The mere idea sounds totally ludicrous. Pinterest even has a board for the most outstanding versions of man caves. The NYT crossword puzzle had a clue that was answered man cave. The mere idea suggests a reversion to primitive times when people did, indeed, live in caves what with primitive inscriptions on the wall. Grade: Number 10 (out of 10) on the Gag Index.
2. A shortage of Velveeta cheese is predicted for Super Bowl weekend. Apparently Super Bowl weekend is right up there with the super pigathon food consumption days of the year. A shortage of Velveeta cheese would mean being highly creative in finding something else to dip one's 20 bags of chips in while ingesting thousands of calories and dozing through what often is a boring game. But maybe this game won't be boring since it may be played in the ice age.
3. Imagine the revelations coming to light on Downton Abbey! Orange juice! Labeled as an American idea, apparently the Brits hadn't caught on to squeezing oranges yet. Sewing machines! Imagine the poor seamstresses who will be put out of work when everyone is sewing on a treadle or electric sewing machine. Oh yes, and then we earlier had mixing machines, which were intended by evil inventors to displace half the workers in the kitchens of the rich and privileged. We can only stand small degrees of modernity on Downton Abbey, since we are all plugged into the idea that the servants are there to take care of the rich and that everyone is deliriously happy with the arrangement. Except poor Mosely, the sad sack of the Abbey, whose run of bad luck continues ad infinitum, so to speak.
4. Disposing of actors and actresses who get sick of acting on soap operas and BBC series gets to be a bit of a pickle some times. Even though Ballykissangel is long over, those of us just catching up have had to endure a cardiac arrest to do in pretty little Dervla Kirwan who plays Assumpta Fitzgerald. An entire episode was devoted to her passing on, so to speak. Doc Martin's beloved Auntie Joan was done in, as the grouchy doctor announced from the pulpit at her funeral, by being overweight. But poor Matthew Crawley was extinguished in a bloody car wreck with details shown in the last episode of last year just so he could extricate himself from the drudgery of Downton Abbey and go seek his acting fortune elsewhere. And, of course, anyone who courts Lady Mary may think twice (thrice?) since three men in her life have already been extinguished.
5. Getting rid of emails is like shoveling out the Augean stables. The more you unsubscribe, the more garbage that shows up. Deleting en masse helps. I've heard people brag about having thousands of emails untended on their hard drive.
6. I love my iPad except for: (1) pop-up ads, (2) loosey goosey flipping around, (3) unreliable back arrow which is just as likely to send you to something you looked at six months ago as what you just looked at and want to go back to. Or to which you want to go back. to.
7. The Utah Jazz may require another 4-5 years of fine tuning before the talented team of young men can become a serious and consistent threat. But the Jazz can still be a fun team to watch if you don't care about winning more than a small handful of games.
8. It snowed here in early December. Patches of snow still remain on north frontages all these weeks later. And St. George is supposed to be in the banana belt.
The Curmudgeonly Professor does not wish to overburden his reader's "little gray cells" as Poirot so descriptively calls brain activity, and so must conclude. If and when he ever learns anything else of possible importance, you can read about it here.
There just isn't much to watch on TV this time of year. We are too early for Downton Abbey, and series we liked are off the air such as Doc Martin, Bally Kissangel,The Paradise, Mr. Selfridge, and assorted others. The Utah Jazz keep losing and, though they have some brilliant and talented young players, noone seems to know how to put them together and get them to more than a tiny number of wins, so watching the Jazz is problematic. We are through watching Matlock reruns, having wasted years and years of productive time watching Matlock episodes with a corpse popping up in the first five minutes and 55 minutes minus 20 minutes of ads to nail the culprit and for Matlock to collect his $200,000 fee. That leaves Hallmark romances. I do have to say that the Hallmark episodes are clean and safe for your four year old to watch. To help you navigate a generic Hallmark romance, here are a few clues:
First you will meet a gorgeous young female. She may be single and escaping a rotten and failed romance, widowed with one, two, or three adorable children, divorced from a scumbag, or simply a victim of a series of failed relationships. Likely, she will have a dog. No cats yet.
The gorgeous young thing has left a promising high-powered career on the 33d floor of a swank office building in LA or New York to attempt to rebuild her life and get away from the demons in her life.
The gorgeous young thing will bump into a handsome, half-shaved hunk of man. Or she will stumble and drop her groceries on the sidewalk after she and the half-shaved male have rudely bumped into each other.
Said male will also be divorced, widowed, ticked off at fickle female who dumped him, and otherwise seeking to find himself.
Gorgeous young thing and semi-shaved male will glare at each other and instantly hate each other.
Visions of acrimony in above observation are fake. You will know instantly that gorgeous young female and half-shaved male will find true love.
After enduring 20 minutes, at least, of ads and watching for another hour and 55 minutes, gorgeous young female and handsome dude will find true love after all, will embrace chastely while assorted kids cheer and the program will close to miniscule credits too small to read.
This year we have had a lot of Christmas tree lot sagas. Or there may be a music competition, a cooking competition, a dysfunctional family or two. We need a small home town to find refuge for the troubled predictable lovers.
Soon Hallmark Christmas sagas will disappear for another year and there will be absolutely nothing to watch on TV until the 3,233 epic college football bowl games begin their tedious assault on monopolizing the TV schedule.
Happy Hallmark watching. At least suspense in the outcome of the Hallmark sagas is lacking although we may have to exterminate a few villains,some despicable past boy friends and girl friends, end up in the hospital with a broken toe, or something else to kill time during the two hour saga until we come to the final clinch and go off into the rapturous sunset.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has written lucidly and extensively about the trials, tribulations, and sloppy handling of details by the phone company, the tv company, and the venerable but sloppy US Postal Service every six months when we migrate back and forth between St. George UT and Salt Lake City UT. So far, we have had to have the TV repair man come out three times to get our TV back to where it was six months ago. Working, that is. The US Post Office made its share of mistakes in not recording correctly the forwarding instructions. The phone company, after assuring us that all was well, neglected to set up our Salt Lake phone with a forwarding number, neglected to set up our St. George phone with calls forwarded to our answering machine, and sent a modem for the internet after they had already acknowledged that I had an internet modem to begin with.
What is so aggravating is the outsourcing. To change newspaper service in Salt Lake City, you are routed through Honduras or some similar place. The phone company can land you in the Phillipines. Automated phone answering means you listen to inane hot air about how they really are anxious as all heck to talk to us and if we will just wait patiently for the next available person anywhere from Timbuctoo to Anchorage AK for the next hour and a half, and then listen to ten or twelve options, and then punch in our number a couple more times, and then avoid using bad language about genealogy and such, we might be favored with talking to a real, honest to goodness person. And then, after being assured that all is well, we wait a day or so, and all isn't well. In fact, all is just as bad as it was before. Half the time I can't understand what the outsource persons with foreign accents are saying. I don't blame them. I blame the companies for going on the cheap to provide inferior service and generate an endless flow of consumer headaches and mistakes. If you write a letter in St. George to your next door neighbor, it goes first to Salt Lake City to be sorted and then comes back to St. George.
Meanwhile, to put The Curmudgeonly Professor in an even more curmudgeonly demeanor, the Utah Jazz keep losing, BYU men lose to UMass. But oh happy day, Ohio State gets busted from the unbeatens by the lovely Spartans. I learned not to like Ohio State when I was a student at Michigan. I still don't like them. Once in awhile I see someone with an Ohio State baseball cap or such at the grocery store and we embark on a discussion. Turns out Ohio State can't stand Michigan either. But Michigan is definitely better, even if they lose games and such. Then the BYU women's basketball team is still unbeaten, my esteemed grandson serving as an assistant coach for this wondrous team.
At least the sun is shining today. My wonderful neighbor shoveled our walk and driveway. I made enough potato, broccoli, cheddar, and bacon soup to last for a week last night. But then the handle on the microwave broke for the umpteenth time. It costs 58 bucks to replace a two-bit plastic handle. So how do you determine when you are ahead of the game? Have a nice day. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
I usually can't resist talking to clerks, baggers, stockers, mommies with five kids, and checkers in stores. Oh, and anyone who even looks like they are, or should be in college. Like the tall nice girl tending the fresh produce stand at a nearby intersection, who I assumed must be in college. No, she said, I just graduated with a degree in communications. I'm selling corn and strawberries and cantaloupe this summer in the 100 degree plus heat while I'm trying to find a job. Turns out she is from Washington state, and came to Utah on a running scholarship for Utah Valley University.
While leaving Costco and passing my receipt to the check-out lady at the exit door, she asked, as usual how I was doing, and I said, fine, now that I'm done here. But, I said, you get to stay here and check people out for a few more hours. She said, I am so thankful that I have this job. I am just happy I can stand here and talk to people because I am so grateful for this job.
Since the Curmudgeonly Professor is supposed to be curmudgeonly, he is now making up for lost time and a long absence from complaining and griping by summarizing the main irritations of life he is facing today, to wit:
Automated calling systems. Punch 1 if you are a Norwegian. Punch 2 if you have an account with us. Punch 15 if you haven't gone to sleep 15 minutes ago. Your call is very important to us. We will get around to answering it some time the next two or three days. Meanwhile we will play the most obnoxious commercials and music loudly in your ear to keep you frustrated and even more angry.
Robo solicitation calls. You can't talk to them since they are robots from Mars with some stupid message.
Quality of tech support. Oh please, please, please give me a person who can understand my question and whom I can understand in return. Please give me some one who doesn't stall for five minutes and then repeat everything we have already gone over 15 times. I have no quarrel or criticism with the many outstanding offshore techies who do a good job. But I rarely get anyone I can understand. I've had to hang up on three of them the past week, giving up in frustration.
Windows 8. Windows from hell. What were they thinking?
Computer passwords. Computer passwords have shortened my life exponentially each day I have remaining on this earth.
Stuff you drop in a wastebasket and it takes a course of its own, landing two feet away from where you deposited it.
Sock lint. I'm tired of vacuuming the carpet every time I put on or remove socks. Sock manufacturers obviously dump all their spare lint in the toes of their socks to avoid having to clean up said lint and dispose of it.
Money solicitation from "charitable" organizations. No mistake, I have great support and empathy for legitimate fund-raising organizations. But every time we send some money to one, we not only get repeated (over and over) additional calls for money, but apparently our name has been sent on to other organizations. We have enough return mail labels to last until the millenium.
Magazine subscription tactics. Fine, start or renew your subscription, against your better judgment. Wait a few days and you will start receiving a plethora of urgent pleas to renew your subscription (to save us the cost of bugging you 20 times between now and the time your subscription ends). Of course, if enough people renew 10 months early, that's a nice interest free loan helping cash flow for the magazine. Meanwhile, some of us don't know whether to buy the green bananas, let alone renew our subscription a year ahead of time.
People who are careless in taking care of details. Every time we go back and forth from Salt Lake to St. George. we have to get errors corrected from the postal service, the phone company, the TV cable people, et. al.
My new diuretic, which is causing a deep rut in the carpet between my recliner and the bathroom.
Meanwhile, a few positive notes may be added. After I turned on the vacuum cleaner for the first time in six months, a plume of dust three foot high blew into the air from the upper corner of the vacuum bag. So now I have a new vacuum cleaner that seems to work. For now. After I returned two Hoover (check rated by Consumer Reports) vacuums to Costco for various defects.
My list remains incomplete. I will, however, add to it and edit these comments as inspiration guides me. At least the sun is shining today.
Since the year is nearly one-third over by the end of March, and since today is about the middle of March, I thought it appropriate to inform my faithful blog followers of my accomplishments and activities of the past week, as follows:
I have quit my blog several times, thinking I was tired of posting stuff after nearly five and one-half years. Besides, all anyone does 24 hours a day now is stay chained to their iPhones and iPads and have forgotten that they are supposed to talk to other people and not spend all their time texting little cutesy messages. Then I took a batch of spring photos and didn't know what else to do with them, so here they are.
I lost my car keys yesterday when we went to lunch and then to the St. George art museum which puts on annual display of pink and white flowering blossoms. When I got home, I realized I didn't have my car keys and had a fit, so to speak. How could I lose my car keys? I have never lost my car keys in 80 and one-half years (almost). So back to the St. George art museum, not expecting to find the keys. Upon entering the museum and mentioning keys to the ladies at the desk, they gleefully produced them before the words were out of my mouth. I had dropped them while trying to untangle my seat belt with a few impolite suggestions, get my huge camera in the car door, and kick the junk out of the way so I could get in the car.
Of course, my camera battery died in mid-photo shoot, whereupon I said we might as well go home. At which time I spent an hour trying to find my camera battery. When my wife came home, I told her of my plight. She came in my "den", picked up some papers, picked up the box beneath the papers, opened the box, rummaged for a moment (I had previously searched self-same box numerous times in previous hour of disgust), picked up a Canon battery charger, and cheerfully said, "Would this be it?" Of course it would be "it." This was the third time this week she found something instantly I had been searching for forever and asked "Would this be it?". Now my camera battery is charged and I can go take some more photos of pink and white flowering trees.
I have spent about 2,000 hours trying to figure out how to format Microsoft Word 2013 manuscripts into Kindle publishing format. I bought about seven formatting manuals on eBooks from Kindle and found myself more confused than ever since everyone had slightly different suggestions and some left out rather egregious lapses in moving ignorant people to the next step. I have given up this project several times.
Other than the above, I have watched numerous episodes of the Duchess of York, which is hard to understand because of the accents, taken out the trash, given up on the Utah Jazz since the Jazz seem to have either stopped playing basketball or they have forgotten how to play basketball, watched BYU go down in flames in the first round of the West Coast Conference tournament to a team that had hardly won a game all season, and thought about cleaning up my den. The latter task remains in the contemplative stage. Meanwhile, my wife keeps hounding me to do my share of the taxes for this year, which would probably take me 15 minutes, max, but which is so daunting a task I can hardly bear the thought of doing it. I hope your year-to-date has been more productive than mine. Have a nice day.
Apparently everyone in the entire world has been watching the BBC Super-Soap called Downton Abbey. I have found that boring conversations turn animated and protracted merely by mentioning the words "Downton Abbey." Here is what I have learned from the first three seasons:
The aristocracy spends a lot of time eating magnificent cuisine in ties and tails and splendid dresses while the kitchen help, which prepared the magnificent cuisine, is eating gruel down in the kitchen.
When not eating splendid meals, various members of the aristocracy and the kitchen staff engage in petty intrigues, attempts at revenge, and loud arguments.
Lady Mary, having deposed the poor Turkish guy early in the whole story, now has lost poor Matthew in a bloody auto accident so he can be resurrected and act on Broadway. Was Lady Mary really so boring that Broadway was more appealing?
A very elderly lady with a sharp tongue was the star of the whole thing.
Poor wimpy Lord Grantham apparently hadn't studied agricultural economics, or perhaps had also skipped tabulating debits and credits, and was about to sink poor Downton Abbey at which time they would all have to move into a thatched cottage in the village and take their meals at the local pub or B&B. Of course, Lord G had already sunk poor Lady Cora's fortune on a kaput Canadian Railway. Some time and heated arguments ensued before Lord G acceded to Matthew's superior insights and realized they needed to "modernize" or go to the poorhouse. Fortunately, Lord G gained this revelation before poor Matthew met his bloody demise in time for the final credits for Season 3, leaving vast audiences in tears and ticked off that the Brits already have the next series and we viewers in the colonies must wait many months to be edified. Too bad we can't come up with something to equal BBC here in the US of A.
Other than presiding at dinners and hunts and appearing imperial and patriarchial in grand living and dining rooms, I was never clear on exactly what Lord G's duties were or what he did in his spare time when not eating or presiding.
Lady Cora didn't appear excessively worried when Lord G informed her he had flushed her fortune down the creek, but Lady Cora rarely expressed herself in any emphatic tone.
Poor Lady Edith. Left crying at the altar by a rich guy who could have supported her in splendiferous fashion, she is now left to ponder her romance with Rochester, whose insane wife is locked away. Oh, I forgot, this is Downton Abbey, not Jane Eyre.
After marching poor Bates around the jailhouse yard for most episodes in Series 3, he gets a reprieve and is able to return to Downton Abbey, apparently no worse for nutritional deprivation during his lengthy wrongful incarceration.
Meanwhile, the Sunday supplements today have counted up the number of marriages among the cast of our very own soap, The Young and the Restless. Downton Abbey doesn't even come close. Meanwhile, we start the countdown clock for next year's triumphant return with many months to construct our own version of what we think will or should happen