Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Skill and Luck

     I am a daily Wordle solver.  Each day I get a rating for skill and luck.  What an interesting combination.  Getting Wordle in one try is a miracle and in two tries is extraordinary.   Today I made it in two!  Surprisingly my skill rating was greater than luck!   Actually I think it was divine intervention.  Each day I read an Upper Room Devotional and from that reading I pick a word to start  the solution of Wordle.  Today the word adult jumped out at me and sure enough it was a dandy.  It set up the solution immediately.  Normally I have to puzzle and sort letters until I get a reasonable second try and so on.   I guess all this is to make up for the disappointment of failing in six tries a few days ago.  Alas I now have a long way to go to complete more that the longest streak I had of 110 days in a row.

    As an end note I would like tie this discussion to longevity.  I recently listened to a seminar on living well in an extended life.  That is to live beyond 75 or so.   There we lots of interesting tips on living a good life in geezer-hood.  A social network and a number of mental and physical exercises contribute to quality of life.    I would vote that skiing with a community of friends is an excellent activity that checks all those boxes.  Skiing always demands honing your skills in one way or another.  

    Last of all I must say that while we can all hone our skills, there is a bit of luck in having a satisfying senior life.  Good genes, good fortunes in the work place and other random factors do also contribute to what happens.  However, perhaps paying attention to skills may give us an edge on the luck side.   So today I will socialize at my volunteering assignment, take an e-bike ride and work on more puzzles.  Looking forward to enjoying the day!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

What Would People Think?

     Today I was reminded by something I read that the idea of what people will think has had a dramatic effect on some of our behavior.  Probably a check of rashness in both behavior and commentary!  The author of the piece that sparked my thinking on  this topic has decided he is done with that curb on his behavior.   He is ready to move ahead as inspired to act and say as he wishes regardless of the impact on the observer.  I guess as octogenarian,  that I am moving on into that camp.  However, my mother was quite controlled by the elements of what people would think and her words still ring in my head.  If one is convinced that an action or comment is best for them,  and actually is not meant to harm anyone, I think it is refreshing to move boldly ahead.  Too often we hold back from being our true self because we would not fit in or be welcomed by our current social circle or the world.   One should not have regrets that they did not do some satisfying activity just because of "what would people think".


Monday, May 6, 2024

Shovel Leaning

     I read that today is the date of the creation of the Works Progress Administration in 1935.   Notably it is a date just a few weeks past my birth day in April.  So 89 years later, why am I taken by this event?  For one thing, I have benefitted from the good works on infrastructure that it produced.   Improved roads, parks, bridges and other public works was the result.   One can go to state parks and forests and see the handiwork of those employed in those projects.  In the midst of the depression, unemployed people were put to work by the thousands and acted as a backstop to the rampant poverty.   I had a World War II Cornell colleague who benefitted from that program before he went to fight in Europe.  He told me some fascinating stories of his adventures.  It was stop gap employment until he went into the Army after Pearl Harbor.  

    Like all government programs, there was frequent criticism of make work programs.  Some are quite critical of those employed in these programs as a give away for the lazy and indigent.  I am not in that camp.  What was the beef about this program?   One that was often heard came from watching a work party on site.   By some appearances, the individuals were not particularly vigorous about their tasks.  Critics would say they spent more time leaning on their shovels than working!  So out of this came the expression "shovel leaning" on the job.   I'll admit that surely there were some slackers.  However, I am confident that for the main, most gave an honest day's work for a day's wage.

    Let me explain my reasoning for my last statement above.   Casual observers who just stop by a site, only see a snapshot of the day.  As a college student I worked construction.   I had a job building the New York State Thruway over the Montezuma swamp.   I helped build a water line in Fairport, New York and an electric utility building in Sodus, New York.  On these jobs, I was doing grunt work!  Many were long days, up to 14 hours on theThruway from sunup to sundown.   If you had observed me in those work days, there would be times I was leaning on my shovel.  Even in the prime of my youth, there is a limit to the length of time you can shovel, lift etc.  Let me close with an anecdote of how cruel a superintendent of a work party can be in preventing "shovel leaning".   On my electric utility job one day I was assigned the task of manually tamping the fill around the duct installed within the foundation.   The tamper probably weighed twenty pounds.   Since I was probably going to be at the task for the entire day.  I was doing it in a rhythm that I knew I could sustain.  My boss from his comfortable hut was observing me.  It wasn't long before he came out of his hut and chastised me for my slow progress.  I guess he thought I was a slacker.  So he grabs the tamper and proceeded to do a few seconds of rapid tamping and said that is the way you should be doing it.  He was a wisp of a man and he really angered me!  He could walk away and sit.   No way could he  have kept that up.  So in conclusion,  I think it behooves every one of us to be careful of our criticism of others in whatever task they are doing.   They say when you are pointing a finger at someone, three other fingers are pointing back at you.