Envy and the Crab Bucket

Yesterday one of my online acquaintances/fledgelings who is fast becoming a friend had an unpleasant experience which brought to mind sideways and backward something that’s been percolating at the back of my mind for a long time.

First let me start with a story – years ago (21 years ago, to be exact) my family was living in Columbia, South Carolina and we were dead broke.  Part of this was because my husband had been unemployed for six months, and hadn’t been able to get a job, since he had to look after me through a difficult pregnancy.  Six months of paying your visa with your mastercard when you’re young and were barely making it before REALLY puts a dent in your finances.  Then the birth of our long waited and worked for son was a three-day-nightmare ending in a two-surgeon emergency Caesarean under COBRA.  The bills, when all was said and done, came out to 20k.  Twenty one years ago when that was still money — heck, it was a third our debt on our then house.

To make things worse, it took me about a year to recover from the pregnancy, I had post partum depression and was neither physically able, nor emotionally capable of thinking clearly, much less finding a part time job or even doing little stuff (I started towards the end of our year there, stuff like making baby booties from tapestry scraps, and selling those at our garage sales for $5 a pair.)

Dan got a job almost immediately after I gave birth, but it required moving to Columbia.  We still had our house in Charlotte and it took us more than a year to sell it.  We had to pay for a place in Columbia.  All we could afford was a house with no air conditioning.  Yeah, it sounds like “uphill both ways” but on a normal day, not the three months that passed as winter, we woke and it was 104 degrees in the house.  And Dan worked sixteen to eighteen hour days (It was that type of software shop) and we only had one functioning car.

I honestly think if it hadn’t been for its being South Carolina and there being cheap places to buy fish and vegetable stands by the side of the road selling excess zucchini, and if I hadn’t got help from my parents, we’d have starved to death.  We did, more than once, consider going into a soup kitchen.  Never quite had the nerve to.

As the year wore on and we worked out a payment plan for the medical bills, and I started being more able to think and do stuff, now and then, rarely, we could afford to go to Burger King.  We’d get a burger for Dan and a grilled chicken sandwich for me, and we’d drive down the street to this really nice neighborhood and park in a place with a nice view and eat.

I’m no saint.  I didn’t like the situation we were in.  I got bitter very often.  But it never occurred to me to envy those people (many of them our age) in the nice neighborhood.  I liked the thought that even though I couldn’t and might never be able to, these people got to live in these nice houses, with these lovely gardens and not everyone had to slog along with me.

I didn’t think these feelings were that rare or that strange, but around that time I was reading about Eva Peron and there was a quote about how she grew up poor and the thought that there were rich people in the world infuriated her.  I was shocked, not just at the naked envy but the fact the magazine doing the profile seemed to think of it as normal or maybe even a virtue.

In writing, G-d knows, I’ve come across tons of people who had a much easier ride up than I, and yeah, I do get bitter.  Do I envy them, though?  Do I want to see them brought low?  Well, no.  I do get very annoyed when they assume (sight unseen) that I must write much worse than them/be stupid not to have broken big yet (instead of suffering from a bizarre combination of luck and odd circumstances.)  I get annoyed because even from my modest success, I can tell you writing, like all other careers, is not a meritocracy.  Wait, like all other careers not dealing with vital stuff, like things that will explode if mishandled.

Now, I believe in traditional publishing (Baen excepted, of course) there is a strong element of political bias.  Yes, I know, the OTHER side says that conservatives just don’t make it because they’re establishment and therefore not creative.  First, it would be the first time in history that creativity is consigned to a political side.  Second – REALLY?  We’re the ESTABLISHMENT?  Really?  Only if establishment is defined as “people who hold no positions of power in the industry whatsoever, except a relatively small house we love to beat up on.”

Anyway, so I do think there’s political bias.  Whether it hit me or not, I don’t know. There were ways around it, but some I couldn’t do and sleep with myself.  (Or wake with myself.  Waking was the hard part.)  But I do know that BOOKS that got the fawning treatment had to hit the points they were looking for.  (Yes, there is a way to tread the needle, I just never did it.  By the time I knew enough craft to, I was in a permanent state of anger at having to do that, so it didn’t happen.)

But beyond that, there is luck.  While I don’t think that my first publisher had me slotted for a long and fruitful career, I also don’t think they planned 9/11 to completely torpedo sales of my first book.  I also don’t think  that they planned to pay for a book dump, then have stores order only two, so most stores never unpacked it.  And, of course, according to the push model then being used, that book and those numbers  took me ten years to recover from, to get even to the level of “normal beginner”.  (The name changes, though that house adores them, did nothing but make it harder for people to find me and for me to build a following.  Jim Baen told me — and Jim would know — that the numbers go off the COPYRIGHT page.)

Even from my small amount of success, I keep running against unpublished or small press published people who are at least as good as I am.  Yeah, sometimes it means that though their talent is great, they fail at something: submitting, sending out, application. BUT I don’t assume their idiots.  Sometimes, it’s luck and life circumstances.

Anyway, all this to say I don’t precisely feel envy of people above me in readership and distribution.  I want to get where they are, but I don’t want them to not be where they are.

Again, I’m not a saint, and I’m not bragging.  It would be like bragging that I never wanted to eat live snails.  It’s something left completely out of my makeup.  I don’t want to bring people down to my level, though I often want to get up to theirs, and sometimes – mostly on my friends’ behalf – I get a little annoyed when people who have a lot with a lot of help think I’m a lower life form because I’m stuck where I am (or my friends are where they are).

But we’ve got – partly because of the idea of Marxist economics, I THINK, in which everything is zero sum and if you have something it means I can’t have it; but also because of this odd idea that seems to affect mostly boomers (no idea why) that anyone who succeeds is crooked and must be brought low – to a place in society where we glorify envy.

People are considered worthy, not because of how hard they’re working or because they’re decent people and good friends, but because they’re “disadvantaged.”  I.e. they’re in a bad position, and this alone entitles them to bring others down to elevate themselves.  And people who are successful – at least in all books and movies – are considered somehow crooked and evil because they’re successful.

I don’t understand this.  I don’t think that a society as a society can survive this sort of upside down idea.

While we’ve always as a society been sympathetic to the underdog, now we’re sympathetic to the underdog qua underdog.  Forget deserving poor. The most deserving thing is to BE poor, and the only way to remain moral is to never try to do better, never “sell out.”

This was brought to mind by friend’s experience.  He is in a position, after a long time, to do something about writing a book he’s thought about for over ten years.  He’s been talking about it a lot, as writers do with their early projects, and he’s just got told that he can only do this because he’s “lucky” and that therefore he’s somehow unfair for doing it.

Look, guys, I know what we all told Josh K. (And told him, and told him – runs!) about homeschooling, and I won’t say anyone can do whatever they have their heart set on.  I know very well that any number of people end up in places in life for a time at least when NOTHING can be done, no matter how much we try or want to.  And sometimes the time you can do it, never comes.

I was there the year after Robert was born.  Between the depression and recovering (not least from six months on bed rest) there were days I counted myself lucky if I and the baby were both out of bed, bathed and dressed by two in the afternoon.  And the days dishes got done and we had time/energy for a nice walk down the street were red letter days.

However, if there’s something you want to do ENOUGH which is not bound to a particular time (so, not like homeschooling!  But a lot like writing) you can do it in practically any circumstances. Not all.  But almost all.  I did write – and send out – a novel during that horrible year.  Note only ONE 90k word novel, but given what all was going on not bad.  It was my first personal rejection too.  And the other novel I started that year eventually won me a writing contest, which sort of got me on the road to publication.  At least it showed me I wasn’t delusional.

Now, I’m not going to say it’s easy to have a full time job or infants and a house you’re rehabilitating, or anything else and write (or do art.  Or compose.)  And yeah, some people have it easier than others.

But here’s one thing I noticed: once you start working on it and pursuing your dream (whatever it is), there will always be people who come out to attack you and go out of their way to try to stop you.  Most of these people SAY they too want the same thing, but they just caaaan’t.  Poor they.

However, I’ve lived fifty years in this world. I’ve seen a number of those people get their “opportunity.”  Do you know what happens?  They continue whining, sometimes finding the most transparent excuses for why they “can’t.”

Whining is a WHOLE lot easier than trying, and in our society it comes with its own crown of victimhood.  Pah.  And bah.

Don’t let these people get you down.  They’re all wanna be Evita Perons, unable to be happy until everyone else is in the muck.

Pity them a little, if you’re a good person.  Then run ahead and forget them.

The best way to live is to do what you can, work towards what you can’t (yet) and never try to pull others down to your level.

It’s what’s best for you.  And over time maybe it will turn the culture around, too.

 

256 responses to “Envy and the Crab Bucket

  1. Evita got the golden ring – and she could not or would not share it. She made people maybe feel happier that ‘one of our own’ was now rich and happy and with the Presidente – but it didn’t change THEIR lot.

    Before anyone jumps on me for this – I’m only going by the gestalt of the whole thing.

    But it doesn’t seem to me that Argentinians in general were better off after the Peróns. Just more shell-shocked.

    • But amazing, isn’t it, how feel-good speeches and throwing a pittance to the masses seemed to make up for everything else?

      • Rob Crawford

        That and a heck of a lot of favorable myth-making.

      • If you tell liberals priding them on their superior virtue how much more conservatives give to charity, (and blood drives and food banks), they instantly start manufacturing excuses why it doesn’t count.

    • I get on my knees and pray, we don’t get fooled again.

    • The Perons nuked Argentina’s economy and poisoned their politics. It took decades to somewhat come back, and then came the current crop of semiPeronists, who did it again. If the standard cycle plays out, the next thing will be another military junta, with perhaps another disastrous war.

      I think it’s fair to say the people of Argentina gained nothing at all from either the original or the sequel.

      • From the looks of it, they’re going to skip the junta and go straight to the war.

        • They can’t. They’re broke and no one will lend them money because the IMF & Co. at “The Chicago School” already stole everything via “Austerity.” (They even lost their tall ship when it pulled into a port that allowed seizures of sovereign vessels by creditors and a hedge fund seized it.)

          • Why should anyone loan money to a country that has a horrid track record regarding their payback? Wouldn’t it be simpler to give them the money outright? Oh, I forgot — most people who put up money expect to get it back … preferably with interest.

            As to the seizure of the ship,was the government under default on debt?

            • They certainly were. And when Ms Kirchner “demanded” their ship back, the hedge fund representative said, “Certainly! As soon as you pay your bills!” ;-D

            • “As to the seizure of the ship,was the government under default on debt?”

              Very much so.

              As for not being able to go to war because they are broke, that has never stopped any nation in the past, why would it now? A lot of nations have gone to war BECAUSE they are broke. Now whether they can effectively fight a war while broke is a different question.

              • They don’t have the POPULATION to go to war. None of them do, really.

                • They may have some trouble getting to the Falklands and the Georgias again, I’m sure they don’t want to risk the British Navy again – and The Last Time the Junta was depending on the US and NATO staying out and they may not be willing to bet on that yet.
                  This does not exclude an invasion or border war with Paraguay or Uruguay since they can walk there.

                • Clark E Myers

                  I have no idea what the current situation may be. Certainly for the conflict in 1982 the Argentines pulled troops in dribs and drabs from all over the country and all sorts of previous duty – see the pictures and notice the lack of uniformity in Argentine uniforms and equipment. The pilots were certainly willing to take great risks for small hope of gain though FWIW..

      • I disagree; the Argentinians gained a really popular musical (whitewash) from the Peron experience. The English made the money off it, of course.

        Remember the war against Franco?
        That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
        Though he may have won all the battles,
        We had all the good songs.

        The folk song army
        by Tom Lehrer

    • I have several (older) friends who came here from Argentina/Uruguay, and without exception they have not one good word to say about the Perons/Evita/Peronistas, which were in fact a major drivers to their emigrating northward. All were from working-class backgrounds, although they became civil engineers, teachers, etc. either just before leaving there or just after arriving here.

  2. I needed this. Thanks.

  3. Ho yes to all of this. And crab bucket is right – people keep themselves down, all on their own. Most of us have voices in our head saying, Not for you, even if we logically know that isn’t true.

    The worst are those who pull others down, or try to. I’ll say it here, the old saw, you don’t help small people by pulling down great ones. Quite the contrary, only so many people don’t seem to care.

    • One of my failings as an accountant was my inability to charge people a lot of money for helping them. While other accountants were charging $100 for a tax return (which wasn’t even that hard to do), I felt guilty charging them $35. This undervaluing the worth of my work has apparently carried over to my writing. Maybe it’s a side effect of growing up poor, being the youngest, and always being the smallest where ever I went. (In HS I was 5′ 7″ and 114# – I had to cheat to get into the Navy – min weight for my height was 116#) Or maybe it’s just that I live in the real world, and the people who charge someone $100,000 an hour for their time are the ones with a skewed sense of self worth?

      • Wayne Blackburn

        My father was the same way. He started a business building houses (before all the requirements became onerous) with a friend of his, but they didn’t charge enough to keep themselves in business and quit. After he retired in the ’80s from the YMCA where he did maintenance work, he did some Insurance repair work for the local insurance co-op, and I just recently found that he was only charging them $7/hr for the labor.

      • If somebody is paying them at that rate they do not have a skewed sense of their worth, their customers do.

        • Sooo…. when’s the last time you offered to pay more than the vendor was charging… “Oh, no! You’re worth FAR more than that. Here, let me give you an extra $1,000!” 😀

          • Can’t say as I have, but I have been on the other end and had people pay me more than I asked for. Then you always wonder am I providing that much better of a service/product than my competitors, or am I just undervalueing myself? Or am I working for people with more money than sense? 😉

          • You’ve gotten it backwards. If people are willing to pay exorbitant fees, the vendor is a fool to turn them down. You have a limited number of hours in a day and setting your price high is a way of optimizing their use.

            They couldn’t get away with setting their fee so high if customers weren’t clamoring to pay it.

            Because value received is often subjective, A person might offer to pay you “every cent I have” and only be able to cough up a dollar*; another might drop Ten grand without blinking an eye.

            *memory is unclear, but I believe such an offer is made to Nero Wolfe in one tale.

          • Dorothy Grant

            Don’t we do that, in a way, every time we tip?

          • I do this at yard sales pretty often…it’s a family mental defect.

            My mom once happened to be the first one to a yard sale where the husband had died and the wife thought that “$5” was a fair price for a three-level metal tool box stuffed with high quality tools. She bought a chain saw for $35, then started asking questions…. ended up asking the lady for her masking tape and a marker, and went and repriced everything at the place. Sometimes just by adding a “0” to the end, or writing “each.” Would ask if it was more important to get a fair price or to get something gone on some items, but mostly spent the time assuring the lady that she was not marking things so high that nobody would buy.

            Cursing herself for an idiot the whole time, there were thousands of dollars worth of shop stuff– the guy’s shop had been awesome, even after the “kids” had come and picked out what they wanted, I think while they helped drag the stuff out– and mom could’ve probably gotten it all for $500, or less if she’d haggled.

            When mom went by that afternoon to check if she needed help, the lady tried to hand her a wad of bills, widow had made way, way more than she’d ever dreamed about.

            Mom still calls herself an idiot about that, and it was over a decade ago.

            • Finding a good deal at a yard sale is a far cry from taking advantage of a clueless widow… Tell your Mom that she’s one of the “Good Guys” and that I’m sure God will reward her for her thoughtfulness somehow.

              • I think, if she decided it was important enough and you were safe enough to be honest to, that she’d say the effect it had on her kids about doing the right thing because it’s right, even if it’s not the “smart” thing, is the payment.

                There’s a reason that I love Mr. Weber’s War God series.

            • Woman once brought a very nice high end shotgun to a small gun shop I frequented (sadly no longer in business) and asked how much he’d pay for it. I watched the shop owner look it over and tell her that he couldn’t give her what it was worth, because his clientele didn’t buy shotguns at the $4 to 5K range that that english double was worth. He then gave her the address of a shop that did carry that kind of merchandize and told her roughly what she should ask for it.

              I made sure to patronize him from then on.

              • Amen. You find a place like that, you give them your loyalty.

              • Dorothy Grant

                As my father taught me, “It’s always who are the folks, and what’s the deal, in that order.” If someone who knows a field speaks well of a mechanic/plumber/web designer/doctor/whatever, and that person gives me a warm fuzzy gut feeling on meeting ’em, I’ll be a whole lot more trusting and accepting of their diagnosis and estimation of time/cost (and forgiving of overruns) than if I’m shopping by price, unable to size ’em up beforehand, or interacting through a corporate interface.

              • One thing to do to check the prices on your own is to search e-bay for things like it, and look at the bids.

                • In this case, the widow didn’t know enough to be able to identify what she had in the first place, to be able to search. And the gun shop owner knew it.

        • RES,

          Depends on the quality of the work. If the work is good and someone is willing to charge below market value, they could be trying to build a custormer base, working it as hobby or the market value is over inflated.

          • As my point seems insufficiently clear …

            A vendor who overvalues his work will find a shortage of customers.

            Customers who overvalue a vendors work will have not problem driving up his prices.

            Market equilibrium is achieved when vendor and customers agree on the value* of a vendor’s work.

            *Value in this formulation is a price sufficient to encourage the vendor to work for the customer. No inherent nor intrinsic “value” of this work should imputed or inferred. Such value is a matter of conjecture and impractical to demonstrate or measure.

            • I’ve found though, that if you undervalue yourself, you’ll sell less in aggregate AND individually. It’s very odd.

              • You need to challenge the market. Push prices until you meet resistance.

                • Dorothy Grant

                  As any good vendor knows, when they ask the price of a bundle, tell em. If they don’t wince, immediately say “each.”

                • Classic market theory says that if something is overvalued you will not sell any, or not sell enough, so price accordingly. This does not touch the other extreme, in that the buyer is not just buying the item for price and utility (unless it is drywall spackle in 5 gallon buckets) but also buying the dream, the status and the excitement. CMOT Dibble supposedly sold the sausage sizzle, and if you are selling anything besides rice and beans you need to be sensitive to the emotional content of your product, figure out what your typical client is aiming to get, and try to supply it – at reasonable prices, guaranteed.

              • I have heard this story as a true story, but I am no longer sure of its veracity or to what it has become apocryphal:

                A vender opened a hot dog stand. He thought I have a really good product, much better than my competitors. I can take a minimal mark-up on my costs, thereby beating my competitors price, and, by selling in quantity I shall be very successful.

                The customers, accustomed to what was on the market were skeptical that anyone could make a decent hot dog that could be sold at such a low price. Having assumed that it must not, therefore, be a quality product people avoided the stand.

                The man only became successful when he put a price on his hot dogs a bit higher than his competitors. Then, on seeing the price, people believed it might be a better product.

                • I was going to sell a dog before I moved to Idaho, I had it priced reasonably (I thought) and had a couple people look at it, but nobody was interested, I doubled the price and in just a couple days sold it, TO ONE OF THE GUYS WHO TURNED IT DOWN AT HALF-PRICE! He was an old retired guy and I would have made him a deal, but he wasn’t interested at the original price, at double the price he jumped on the deal and was very happy with the dog as long as he lived (the owner, the dog actually outlived him).

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Sometimes there’s things like that, and sometimes there’s the perception of getting a deal. My father tells of a store which had an open bin of different pieces of silverware that it was selling at $.25 a piece (many years ago). They hardly ever had anyone buying any. When the owner put up a sign, “3 for a dollar”, however, they sold out.

                  I’ll leave the math up to the reader.

                • Our last house. We put it up for a reasonable (we thought) price. No offers, except one that lowballed us by 20k and wanted all sorts of things done. We took it off the market for a month. Set it up with “posed” furniture. Made a couple of cosmetic improvements. Put the price up 100k. Sold it at asking price within two months, in a HORRIBLE market.

                • There was such a dealer on Coney Island. People doubted the purity of his product. He finally figured out a way to sell at the lower price, however: he told Mayo Clinic that if their doctors visited his booth while wearing their white coats, they would get free hot dogs.

    • Sometimes one sort of pulling down may be because those people may mean well. I’m very much one of the small people, but when it comes to this writing stuff I prefer to dream big, mostly because that seems to be the best way for me to make myself work at it. I find putting my stories out there a bit scary, and it also embarrasses me (who do you think you are!), so if I think modest I might not do it, or keep putting it off for some unforeseeable future (when I may be good enough to let them to be seen). Thinking there is perhaps the chance of hitting the jackpot, even if I’m not actually good, just get lucky by being right kind of entertaining in the right moment, is what seems to work best for me as an encouragement.

      Now I don’t expect that to happen, it’s the carrot – something that might happen, like winning the lottery, and dreaming about that what if is a cheap way to entertain myself at times, too. However I have this one friend who seemed to think I do expect it, and she had the habit of trying to keep my feet on the ground, mostly by diligently reminding me that the odds are against me, and most likely I will never get much more than very modest success, and probably not event that. I do believe that at least on the surface level she thought she was doing me a favor. I suppose it’s possible there may be some wishing I will not succeed (better than she has) on some level, that would be just human, but yep, I don’t believe she was consciously aiming to keep me down. She has gotten better with it too after I have explained to her why I joke about writing the next Da Vinci Code or whatever, even if that took a few years of doing… but there was a time when she was quite able to drag me down. And it may have cost me a a couple of years. I guess I’m rather easy to discourage.

      • Dorothy Grant

        I find I alternate between wanting to encourage my Dearest Man to shoot for the stars, and wanting to keep his expectations low so he doesn’t miss any very real success. Our Esteemed Hostess relates she makes about $200/mo off fifty-odd short stories that were already sold once. If she expected to sell more than Joe Konrath and top the Kindle store, would she miss the very real success she currently has, and get discouraged?

        Mostly, I stick with encouraging him, and trying to find a set of covers that will thematically tie books 1-4. And once I have the mock-covers done, changing my mind and swearing, and starting over again.

      • I think I’ve made MAYBE $200 from my writing since I put my first novel up some ten years ago (on my own website). I’ve been making about $20/month since I joined Amazon and B&N. Since WRITING these novels are entertainment enough for me, for someone else to like them enough to buy them is gravy — very delicious gravy (more would be better, but then…).

        Something I’ve learned over the past ten years is that every novel written that isn’t utterly HELPLESS is good enough to entertain someone. It might be difficult to find that one (or more) someone, but there’s still a buyer out there hungry for what we write.

        Besides, finishing them, polishing them, and posting them will stop the voices in your head from clamoring — for a little while, anyway.

      • Crab-buckets are extremely passive aggressive. I’ve had people I considered to be friends warn me off of goals because they were concerned that I would be disapointed. On mature reflection, I figured a number of them were warning me off things that they were afraid to do or couldn’t afford to try.
        I don’t really blame them, I don’t think they were intending to keep me in the bucket, but I also don’t think they realized they were trying to beat down possible competition. They just thought that was the caring thing to do, keeping me safe, and that was why they felt good for doing it. However, you keep children, livestock and the incompetent safe.
        I figure a real friend doesn’t try to keep you safe, but may insist that you make a plan B and either be willing to help clean up the mess, or state unwillingness to watch you destroy yourself.

        • The absolute WORST was my DENTIST in South carolina who tried to scare us about moving to CO “how do you know the job will even be there” — I mean, seriously. He was our DENTIST.

          • Then again your dentist may have concluded that he would be a fool not to try and keep you as clients …

  4. The summer following my first year of college I had an impacted wisdom tooth taken out and subsequently suffered a muscle spasm that effectively caused lockjaw. I spent two weeks with migraine-like pain, unable to open my mouth enough to slip a Necco wafer between my teeth. At just under six feet tall my weight got down to 135 pounds from my normal scrawny 150. The only sleep I got was under the influence of Percodan and all I could read was Heinlein & Niven (clear, linear prose? I don’;t know.)

    It was at the end of the two weeks something happened that I had no choice about dealing with (ahem: it involved attractive members of the opposite sex.) Dragging myself from my foetal curl in my bed, I went out to address the matter. And by addressing a problem outside myself I found my own pain abated. Well, not abated, but became background, became tolerable (sorta.)

    Wallowing in my misery made it worse. Accepting it and moving beyond it enabled me to rise above it.

    • There’s a whole blog post just in that.

    • HOOOORAAAAYYYYY!!!! a proper use of the word “impacted”!!!
      ;-o

    • Don’t scare me like that. I have to get THREE impacted wisdom teeth removed in the near future. D:

      • I had all four. They had to put me under because — Portuguese socialized medicine — they delayed for six months, which means my teeth were already actively GROWING into the jaw. Also, I appear to have Neanderthal tooth roots (TM) After week’s recovery, I was fine.

        • My mom still has two of hers (actually all four, but only two are impacted) she didn’t have them taken out when she was young, and when a dentist referred her to an oral surgeon when I was a teen the surgeon looked at them and told her he would have to break her jaw to remove them. So every few years one of them swells up and she looks like a chipmunk for a week or two, but the rest of the time they don’t bother her. She did however take me in and have mine removed shortly after that, so I was young enough that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

        • I also had four impacted teeth. When the dentist took them out, he thought he would only have to give me a local anesthetic. Two or more hours later, he was still trying to pull those teeth. He finally busted each one and cleaned out the pieces (the roots wouldn’t let go). Also I have a very small mouth with big teeth (recently I found out that my mouth is the size of a large child– really– when the dentist tried to make an impression of my teeth.) I can’t even fit a small adult mouth impression lol…

          He gave me a handful of narcotics afterwards and told me to use them until the pain went away ( a week or more later… maybe). Anyway I was bruised from my cheekbones to my neck. It was quite an experience.

          • Yeah, the doctor had to put me under for mine. When my mother showed up to pick me up, the receptionist told her I wasn’t ready yet. I, it turned out, had BAD impactions.

        • I fear the idea of wisdom tooth impaction, namely because I don’t have four of them. I have EIGHT. Every one of them still in place, too. What can I say? I’m an alien. 😛 But the thought of having them out very much scares me. :/

          • Are you a large male? Older son has this and was told it’s not unusual for large males. 😉 Also, he is of course, a Neanderthal. BUT all of his came in fine, so…

            • Male, yes, but only in my dreams am I large! 😀 I am 5’5″ in my stockinged feet, and half Japanese. Rather on the tiny side, bodily speaking. Two dentists have wanted to remove these teeth, and I refused to let them. I figure if they aren’t hurting and they aren’t causing me any trouble, why go to the pain and expense of removing them? I had a lower molar on either side removed when I was 14 or so, and both empty slots are still the same size as they were before the surgery. These teeth are apparently set in concrete and not interested in even shifting a bit for more comfortable spacing. 😛

      • Mine was a …. not usual reaction. I likely had the basis for a malpractice suit. Your mileage will very probably vary.

      • This generally is not as big a deal as you fear. I had three impacted teeth out and I had a friend who insisted that I spend 24 hours on his sofa so he could be sure I was out of the anaesthetic. The first thing I did when I got home was buy a pound of fried chicken gizzards, which was a major mistake (owowowowow).

        • My sister had a bad reaction to the anesthesia and had a hard time alone at home. My mother therefore insisted that I have mine own out the week she was off from school. (I, to be sure, had no unusual reactions.)

      • Billy Oblivion

        I had 1 or two out and went back to work (the oral surgeon was across the street from where I worked). I only left work because the blood I was swallowing made my stomach upset.

        Then again, I’m usually too stupid to pay attention to the pain.

      • Make sure you have plenty of really mushy food about beforehand. When I got my four wisdom fangs yanked, I subsidied on half-melted ice cream — with no chocolate chips or anythign liek that — applesauce, and really mushy cereal, and lost a good chunk of weight that week.

        Also, don’t come down with the flu four days later. That was a real mistake on my part.

        • After my wisdom teeth were taken out, my mother made me eat baby food. Seriously. In the jars and everything. I added a lot of salt and hot sauce, though. (I also ate yogurt, etc.)

          • When I had mine removed I was specifically told no milk shakes, or anything else you drink with a straw. That can cause you to suck the scab out and end up with dry socket, which I am told is very painful. I ate normal food, but had to chew with my front teeth, chewing steak properly with your front teeth takes practice 😉

            Of course I was in high school at the time and had to prove how tough I was, so soft food for a couple days might not be a bad idea.

          • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that grits constitute a soft food. No, even when thoroughly cooked, they are most definitely not. Grits are a good name for them, as I found out to my sorrow, after having my wisdom teeth removed. After that I ate yogurt — without strawberries or raspberries. 😦

  5. 🙂
    It sounds so pretty, when you say it.
    😉

  6. Back in the Eighties, when the intelligentsia were pushing the threat of Japan’s rise to sell their nostrums (no matter the problem, their cure is always the same) there was a survey about people’s views on economic growth. Asked to choose between 4% growth in the American economy and 8% Japanese growth versus 2% American and 0% Japanese growth a sizable majority voted for the second option.

    There is a Russian proverb to the effect of “It is not enough that I do well, my neighbor must also do poorly.”

    I do not pretend to understand the basis of such self-destructive thinking, but I cannot deny its existence.

    • There is a shaggy dog story about the end of the world where punchline is that the Russian informes everyone that if the world was ending he will burn down his neighbor’s house. I am not sure that is so much envy as the supressed, stomped-down person’s response to finally being able to hit back at someone, _anyone_, without all the consequences.

  7. I think it is the difference in mind-set between the people that think that others are doing really well because they want to do well with their skills, and those that think others are doing really well because they want to grind their success in your face.
    there is a bit of maturity in the difference. I was driving home one night from my swing-shift job in my 4th-hand 1978 LTDII and caught myself being jealous of some BMW or Landrover or whatever, and I realized the only reason to buy an upscale car like that was to make strangers jealous.
    Once I realized that I also realized two other things. One is, If bought my cars in cash I could bank what I would otherwise spend on car payments, and two, if you look un-insurable the BMWs and Jags tend to give you right-of-way.

    • LOL – yes.

      To be fair, there are people who just really love very nice cars. I remember a friend of mine, a self-imposed poverty type who tended to sneer at people who like luxury goods – that is, until her boyfriend took her for a ride in his Porsche, and she was delighted and swooning about it for days, not because it was Porsche, but because it was a wonderful experience to drive in such a nice car. Said boyfriend was not an arrogant person, quite the contrary, he just had the money and truly loved the car.

      It’s just a question of where you want to put your energy. I’m not a car person, so I drive a cheap Honda and put my energies elsewhere. But I don’t begrudge someone who loves cars, or wants a big beautiful house – heck, invite me over and I’ll enjoy it, too – but it’s not worth the money and effort to me. Just as I respect the person who has chosen a more simple, pared down life, making do with very little, but still being self-sufficient.

      Now, if someone is worthless enough inside to want such possessions only to put others down, that’s wrong and that person is truly inferior. But so is the person who envies and resents (and yes, we all have those moments, but hopefully, like you, we laugh at ourselves and move on).

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Unfortunately, my wife is one of those who would, at least partially, want nice things just to rub it in the faces of people she perceives as having looked down at her in the past.

        Now, myself, if I could find a car that gave me a ride like my ’77 AMC Matador Barcelona Edition (which was the fancier version of the car), I wouldn’t care if it was technically equivalent status-wise to a Lexus, or a Kia. Riding in that sucker, you felt like you were floating down the road.

        • my wife is one of those who would, at least partially, want nice things just to rub it in the faces of people she perceives as having looked down at her in the past.

          Does she realize that her reactions mean that they still have power over her? “CAST OFF your chains of bondage and set yourself FREE!!!” (Hey! Maybe I could write action movies?)

        • I confess to a few high school reunion fantasies myself – it’s in all of us, it’s a revenge fantasy. Not something to be proud of, but we’re human. I would even forgive some indulging there, as long as it didn’t go too far.

          My Mom went to school with a very nice, but very shrimpy boy, who grew up to be a gorgeous tv star, and yes, he showed up with his Miss Universe bride at the high school reunion, and if he was indulging a bit there, I can’t blame him.

          • I’ve never actually been invited to a re-union because I insulted and offended the organizers. Repeatedly. Yea me!

            There is a lot to be said about living in the small town you grew up in. I can go on for hours, but I can’t quite explain why I never moved out when I had the chance.

            • You have to be INVITED to a reunion? We just have them and folks decide whether they want to go or not. I skipped my 40th HS reunion because I realized that except for one friend, not one of the 500 plus people in my graduating class had called me or contacted me in the intervening 40 years. So…. why should I spend the money and travel and time to go visit people who don’t care enough about me to stay in touch? If they have a 45th, I might go… just to see who’s still around (as in “not dead.” My class is starting to croak… Ribbet. Ribbet. Ribbet!) I was surprised when that friend told me that several people who were going to go changed their minds when they heard that I wasn’t going… Yep. That’s me. Still clueless.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I got all the reunion revenge I needed at my 10-year, when I met one of my chief antagonists from High School. I had grown nearly 4 inches since graduation, and the look in his eyes at having to look UP at me was kind of gratifying.

          • I don’t have high school revenge fantasies, but I have been snubbed a few times as an adult, and my preferred revenge fantasy to that is becoming rich. Not the kind of rich who shows off, but somebody who’d be stinking rich while still driving an old car and dressing cheap. And then be snubbed, and not react to it, just cackle in my mind “oh, if you only knew who you are talking to (or refusing to talk to, as the case may be)…”. 😀

          • Dorothy Grant

            My revenge fantasy of high school reunion died a hard death the day my mother called me. One of the tree trimming crew recognized her as “Dorothy’s Mom”, and asked her what I was up to. At the time, I was flying in Alaska, working my tail off for a job that paid a lot and demanded even more, and trying to keep from turning into a total hermit with the odd hours.

            I was feeling pretty grumpy about life until I heard my mother relate (and I can just see the broken look in his face when he said it), “Tell her she’s living my dream.”

            That’s when I realized you never know – and if I did turn up, as late and as odd as I am and it would be now, I might hurt those whose lives didn’t give them the chance, or only recognized it after it passed by. Revenge didn’t seem as fun, after that.

    • My favorite car EVER (which I continued driving after Dan got one for himself) was the huge 70s Suburban which we bought when our car (parked on street) got totaled by a drunk driver. We had 1500 in the bank, the drunk was claiming we hit him (no, seriously. We were asleep. In the house. We had witnesses) and the insurance was delaying paying. So we found a car for 1500 and went out and bought it. We thought it would last till we got a payout. It ended up lasting… forever. Well, okay, ten years. It had a missing front bumper and the entire left side was shoved in, just missing the light. Eventually the steering went out, but until then, if I suffered a lapse of judgement while driving, the other cars got out of the way when they saw me coming. Yeah.

      • I’m still using a 1982 Chebby one ton 4 door PU on the farm. It has all the latest conveniences. Like if your coffee gets cold and you don’t want it anymore, just pour it through the “coffee disposal hole” in the floor!

        Despite the fact that it’s a Chebby, it worked FINE after we replaced the factory engine with an aftermarket rebuild (at 28,000 miles). Of course farm trucks are especially favored by the Gods of Vehicles when it comes to longevity…

      • A couple of decades ago, I had a ’78 International Scout II … two different body colors not including the factory equipped rust … one year someone hit it while it was parked – which I knew had happened because it was moved about three feet up and onto the curb – but I never could figure out where it was hit …

        I miss that Scout.

        • I was once rear-ended when I had a Lada Niva. It had a towing hitch, and because of that the other car ended with a v-shaped front. I found no marks on the Lada. Bit of a whiplash on my neck, but since I didn’t notice that until later I just let the very embarrassed young man drive off without asking for his insurance information or anything else.

          You should have used ear protection when driving that car, and it used a lot of gas, but it was sturdy and actually pretty good off road. I liked it a lot.

        • I had an 81 Toyota with a ‘custom’ channel iron rear bumper and ‘custom’* bumper mounts. I was spending the night at a friends house and somebody hit it, knocked it clear up over the sidewalk into the front yard, and the only mark I could ever find on it was a little green paint on the bumper, the truck that hit it totaled out the next three cars parked along the street. That Toyota was the toughest most reliable pile of junk I ever owned. It had 350K on the odometer when I got it, and the odometer didn’t work, a ratchet and socket for a handle to roll the drivers window up and down, a big hole in the dash where the radio used to be, the heater didn’t work, a warped head that caused it to leak a quart to a quart and half of oil per tank of gas (but it never burned a drop 🙂 ) and somebody had lifted it by stacking an extra set of leaf springs on the stock ones, both front and rear. It was the roughest riding truck I’ve ever been in, but you could stack it full of firewood scrap iron, hay, or whatever and it never squatted (never rode any smoother either). I was driving down the highway one day and the power steering pulley ripped off the motor, leaving the bolts with small chunks of the pulley still under them still in the motor, since power steering was on its own belt I just untangled the belt from the fan and kept driving it. As much as it had wrong with it that truck never broke down, and never left me anywhere as long as I owned it.

          *’custom’ in this case means homemade by someone who had delusions of a Toyota really being a deuce and a half.

      • Heh. I drove a’74 Buick Apollo (essentially a Chevy Nova with Buick marque) for years. Solid metal with just enough dings to persuade anyone at a glance that I wasn’t likely to fret over one more. People didn’t hesitate to let me merge.

        Only problem was that the speedometer developed a knack for misreporting my speed in an increasing level of variance. At 25 mph it was accurate, at 35 mph it read 40, at 45 mph it read 60 and at highway speeds it read 90.

      • Birthday girl

        Ah trucks! I drive a Chevy Silverado pickup and LOVE it and I hope it lasts 50 years. Getting in and out is comical because I’m quite petite, but once I’m in … look out, baby! I love being up high and the sense of power is a real treat. And other drivers tend to have a little respect they don’t show when I drive a minivan. My daughter’s boyfriend’s family asked me to use it to move some furniture they bought used … what a trip, driving my truck with stuff in the back and it’s “giving back”, too! I love my truck.

        • My diminutive daughter loves to drive “Pigpen”, the 82 1T Std Xmission Chebby. Yeah… the guys give her respect when she’s in that… (“You can drive THAT?”) or when she rolls up on my Honda 750 Shadow Aero in her leathers and Legion Riders vest… Funny how that works.

          Someone tried to steal Pigpen once… but apparently couldn’t drive a stick… ;-D

          • I recall that The Mother-In-Law seemed to think I would move past my attachment for driving a stick shift once The Daughter was born. Never happened. I think that only two things are likely to ever force me to give up on my preference — the manufactures cease to build ’em or my knee gives out.

            (They are becoming harder to find in the used market. There are, sadly, fewer and fewer of us who like a manual transmission.)

            • “(They are becoming harder to find in the used market. There are, sadly, fewer and fewer of us who like a manual transmission.)”

              Something that drives me nuts, I HATE automatics. I actually own one because it was a great deal but I still hate them and if at all possible will never own another. The thing that really drives me nuts is all the 3/4 and 1 ton diesel automatics, I will NOT own a diesel work truck without a manual transmission.

              • I can’t drive a manual. I’m not coordinated enough. So, Dan keeps our cars automatic, so I can drive them.

                • Dorothy Grant

                  I can’t drive ’em either. I know the theory, but the body can’t handle the stess and jerking that comes with going from 0 hours to experienced. Learning to drive stick shifts is for people who don’t have whiplash, and two good working legs.

                  • and weren’t born severely premature…

                  • I’ve been driving a stick since before my son was born, and now find driving an automatic scary.

                    (Sure, my head knows that the left foot isn’t supposed to do anything, but the left foot disagrees.)

                    On Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 11:10 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                    > ** > Dorothy Grant commented: “I can’t drive ’em either. I know the theory, > but the body can’t handle the stess and jerking that comes with going from > 0 hours to experienced. Learning to drive stick shifts is for people who > don’t have whiplash, and two good working legs.” >

                    • Wanna burn out your automatic X-mission? Try picking up hay bales in a hay field rated HEL. With the stick shift I can just pop it in granny & let it idle across the slope and relax…

                    • I learned to drive when I was barely big enough to reach the pedals, but the first automatic I ever drove was the drivers ed car. I gave the drivers ed teacher whiplash 🙂

                  • ” Learning to drive stick shifts is for people who don’t have whiplash, and two good working legs.”

                    Not necessarily, I knew a guy (he is dead now) who was paralyzed from the waist down, and he always drove a clutch. He had special rods attached to the pedals so he could operate them with his hands.

                    I also had a great uncle (also dead) who had only one leg (lost the other in a motorcycle accident) and would only wear his prosthetic for special occasions, weddings, funerals, etc.. He had a love for old Volkswagen bugs, and always had a couple of them around that and they were all manuals, he simply power shifted without using the clutch, and would operate the clutch and brake with one foot while at stop signs. I did see him use his crutch one day to operate the clutch when taking off on a hill in a borrowed car.

                    Both them however had learned to drive for years with two good legs.

              • Funny thing is my first experience driving a stick shift was after a night with no sleep, having never driven anything but an automatic, no lessons with a manual and the car in question had a very stiff clutch.

                It was furniture market in High Point, NC — which for those who might not know is a big bi-annual international reveal of the latest in styles for the buyers of various businesses. The gentleman to whom the car belonged was a friend of the family. He was a professional photographer and had hired The Spouse to help him out during the market. I had gone over to get a chance to see the market.

                We could not find a parking place and they had an appointment So I was told to drive the car around the block, and, after they made contact one would come out to find a parking place. As things went I drove around the block for quite a while. I never did get to see the market, but I did learn how to drive a stick shift by the throw ’em into to the water method. In spite of it all I was hooked.

                • There pretty much were no automatics on the market here when I learned to drive, so a stick shift it was. Took a while to get good with it though, may have something to do with being left handed. During the last couple of years I have been driving automatics at work, and since those are cars configured so you can put the mail to a mailbox without getting out of the car the driver’s seat is on the right, but learning them was easy for me – again, may have something to do with being a lefty, I think I could probably learn a stick shift in that configuration easily enough too.

                  Okay, I did have bit of a problem keeping them fully on the right lane at first, since you are sitting on the wrong side it’s easy to drift a bit too far towards the left, scaring the drivers coming towards you on that lane. But I’m good now.

                  And I do prefer a stick shift. May be just because that’s what I’m used to, but it seems to be make things easier when the roads are icy, for one thing. I have gotten stuck when going uphill more with those work cars than I have ever done with any of my own. And I don’t think I’d like driving off road with anything but manual.

                  • Oh yeah, I used to have people tell me how automatics did better in the snow, that is total BS by someone who has never driven a stick in snow or ice. There is absolutely no comparison manuals are hands down much better in snow and ice.

                    • It’s the abacus/calculator problem.

                      If you’re good with a stick, it’s better in the snow– at least, last time I was actually driving them regularly, so add 15 years. (Disclaimer because my folks, who have been driving sticks for a minimum of 50 years and are very big proponents, have decided that autos have improved enough for towing that they bought one. Don’t use it on the Forest Service “roads,” but that may be simply lack of desire to risk the vehicle.)

                      If you aren’t any good with a stick, then an automatic is better, but it won’t reach the level of someone that really knows what they’re doing and has a stick. It’s a matter of fine control.

                  • Okay, I did have bit of a problem keeping them fully on the right lane at first, since you are sitting on the wrong side it’s easy to drift a bit too far towards the left, scaring the drivers coming towards you on that lane. But I’m good now.

                    The Spouse and I were traveling on a bus in a rural area of England in 1980. I had one moment of utter panic as I looked up as we crested a hill and I saw the oncoming traffic. It took a moment for my analytical brain to remind me that we were not on the wrong side of the road about to have an terrible accident.

                  • Although I have not, myself, had the pleasure of experiencing it, I have been told that for an American to drive a manual on British roads can be a disconcerting experience.

    • My dream, after winning the lottery/ having an indie best-seller that makes Hugh Howey’s sales look small/ having the world’s best-selling regional history book, is to get a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost or similar inter-war touring car. My mother lusts, in a nice way, over a 1950s MG in the late Queen Mother’s dark green racing color. As it is, I miss the 1982 Toyota Camry Wagon I bought from my parents 20 years ago.

      • Someone around here owns a classic old Bentley. I have no idea what it is, beyond just THE EXACT THING YOU SEE WHEN YOU THINK CLASSIC BENTLEY, but I nearly ran off the road when I saw him drive by (yes, he was wearing a gray suit, had an apparently full head of white hair, a white mustache and was wearing some sort of dark, shaped, felt hat– bonus points for awesome) and then called up my sister to gush for a good twenty minutes. It says something that she was as excited as I was!

        • Did he have any Grey Poupon?

        • I picture of the Major The Hon. John Wickham Gascoyne Beresford Steed.

        • My Mom is a big Inspector Morse fan, partly because of his Mark 2 Jaguar. It was obviously a fiction car, since Morse never had problems with the electrical system (at least on the episodes that I saw.). 🙂

          • Ah, that must have been the episodes that you saw. I watched every episode I could and it was a real Jag, with real Jag problems; John Thaw as Morse used to grumble magnificently about it.

            We had a neighbor who owned a Mazda Miata that bore the licence NO LUCUS.

    • There is also the difference in mindset of the people who think you are successful because you are good at what you do and those who think you are successful because you are good at who you do.

      There is sufficient factual basis underlying each mindset that it can be hard to budge the begrudge.

      Resenting other people’s success does little harm to them (it may even please them) and much harm to you. Far better to just dismiss it as undeserved luck (there is ever an element of luck in any success, and luck is always undeserved. Being able to capitalize on luck, now that is a different issue.)

      • Luck favors the prepared. It might rain soup, so make sure you know where your bucket is and have your emergency stash of oyster crackers ready to hand.

        (as for “Who you do”, well yes. What seems to work is being able to act like a motivated, engaged employee, it does seem to work better than apathy, negligence, and ignorance. Sadly, no-one likes that sort of advice)

        • The “Who you do” approach is the basis of the “Chicago-Style” school, wherein your opportunities are determined by your being well-connected. Judge (and law professor) Abner Mikva tells the quintessential tale of Chicago politics:

          One of the stories that is told about my start in politics is that on the way home from law school one night in 1948, I stopped by the ward headquarters in the ward where I lived. There was a street-front, and the name Timothy O’Sullivan, Ward Committeeman, was painted on the front window. I walked in and I said “I’d like to volunteer to work for [Adlai] Stevenson and [Paul] Douglas.” This quintessential Chicago ward committeeman took the cigar out of his mouth and glared at me and said, “Who sent you?” I said, “Nobody sent me.” He put the cigar back in his mouth and he said, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.” This was the beginning of my political career in Chicago.
          http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people/Mikva/mikva-con2.html

          This school is probably History’s most common, lying at the heart of Hollywood, the U.S.S.R., China and most human regimes. For further exploration, see: A Few Good Men, on sale at better providers of reading materials.

          • Oh, yeah. I know. But I neither want to participate in corruption, Alinskyism or domestic violence, so I don’t give these forms of political and social thought power over my actions. I’ll stick to being good at what I do on my terms.

        • The folks who got there by “who” they did are really, really good at targeting those who focus on the “what” you do. For elimination and exploitation, depending on the situation.

          I really, really hate dealing with people, sometimes.

    • Not to mention vanity. Like the other students who described me as showing off when I did well at school.

      Show off? To them? Did they really think I thought so much about it?

  8. I knew I loved your books, I don’t know why I didn’t expect to enjoy your blog 🙂 You are so right on. It’s worse in some communities than others but if you get above yourself, there are always people there to try and drag you back down. I try to be the one pushing people out of the bucket or dragging them with me when I go. Whining and trying to make other people miserable just makes you more miserable.

    Of course, I’m finally doing what I’ve been wanting to do since I was 7, and I did it by telling the people trying to keep my in my place to take a hike and reminding myself why I’m going to be successful.

  9. But I do know that BOOKS that got the fawning treatment had to hit the points they were looking for.

    Welllll Ummmm… see, I’m so clueless that I thought all I had to do was write the great American Novel (SF variety) and it would get published… I had no clue that it wasn’t a BUSINESS but a political thing.

    if there’s something you want to do ENOUGH which is not bound to a particular time (so, not like homeschooling!…)

    We home schooled our three. At the time we were going into it, of course they had all the “curriculum” and “complete programs” and such… (at some VERY fancy prices) but we found in the cacophony of the Buy OUR Program barkers just one “still small voice” that said something to the effect of, “the worst thing you can possibly do as a home schooler is to try to move the classroom into your home.” Then they went on to say something like: You’re not a school – you’re a learning place. Learning does not happen only between certain hours of the day. Learning does not only happen between a specific 4 walls. Learning happens anywhere and everywhere you are, all day, all night. References to the numbers game were mentioned (ie YOU don’t have 30 kids to corral and try to cram SOME kind of information into each of them. You only have one or a few.)

    So we took that to heart and had “class” all day, every day, everywhere. From a lesson on hot blooded/cold blooded animals and terrapin and a turtle (after finding a large turtle on the road) to “find the can of green beans that has a yellow label on it.”

    Our youngest, an OEF/OIF vet, just collected his BA in Anthropology, and was “invited” to apply to the grad school. And the other two are doing quite well in their chosen areas of service and expertise. So it worked. and they are all VERY intelligent and creative.

    • Then they went on to say something like: You’re not a school – you’re a learning place. Learning does not happen only between certain hours of the day. Learning does not only happen between a specific 4 walls. Learning happens anywhere and everywhere you are, all day, all night.

      Unfortunately some state legislatures and departments of education are just not into this mind set. Pennsylvania has had pretty tight requirements on curriculum and supervision. California also requires certain subjects and curriculum be covered. There has been a push in number of states to have truant officers pick up children that are out and about during official school hours, even if they are under direct supervision of their home educating guardians.

      • When the kids were small Iowa didn’t “allow” homeschooling at all (unless you were Amish). So we moved to Missouri where we could be free. I like to think that the State of Missouri has benefited from our presence – and the State of Iowa is too dumb to realize that they drove out not just two professionals (with their combined taxable incomes), but also a whole 2nd generation of productive, innovative citizens (3 of them) and the accumulated tax revenues that now go to Missouri. And when I post a bio for published work, I say I’m from Missouri!!! (The bio on my first commercially published Short Story said that “I was born in Des Moines, Iowa and left the State at the first reasonable opportunity.”)

      • We homeschooled our three here in CA between 1983-99 and the requirements to continue doing it became increasingly onerous, while not making excessive amounts of sense. I understand it’s even worse now.

        All along I couldn’t help thinking, after looking at what they were mandating, that it was largely and attempt to pull us down to their level.

        • If untrained amateurs, working without the support system offered by unions, principals, assistant principals, vice principals, assistant vice principals, vocational ed counselors, special ed counselors, therapists, school administration, school board, curriculum development specialists, state and federal departments of education can produce better educated kids it becomes much more difficult to justify all those jobs and the taxes required to support them.

    • The goal of home schooling should be to instill* in the child the habit of learning. With that habit unimpaired the intelligent mind will readily adapt to any circumstance and acquire the knowledge needed. That is a key part of the parent-child relationship, far more important than genetic material or mere meeting of material needs.

      *Some would opine that the goal is prevent impairment rather than instill that with which they are borne. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

  10. Rob Crawford

    Here’s a thought: the dreaded “keeping up with the Joneses” that’s derided as one of the scourges of the middle class mindset, is precisely the OPPOSITE of the crab bucket. In the crab bucket, anyone trying to get ahead gets pulled back; with “keeping up with the Joneses” anyone getting ahead is a SPUR to others to do better.

    Yes, it can be pathological. Anything can be pathological. But who would you rather live around?

    • But “keeping up with the Joneses” defines success in one way: that of the Joneses. I don’t want to look like I’m succeeding like the Joneses. Quite probably, I don’t want to even succeed like the Joneses. I want to succeed like me.

      They’re both pathological, and I’d rather go live in a cave.

  11. Martin L. Shoemaker

    This post is best read to the tune of William Shatner’s song “Has Been”.

    (And I find it amusing that my phone’s autocomplete feature has “Shatner” in its dictionary!)

    • er… But I don’t think I am. Never been perhaps, but it’s hard to be a has been when you never get there…

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        You’ve been more than have the forces of envy that seek to pull you down. The song is all about envious critics who criticize someone for going out and trying what the critics themselves are too lazy or afraid to try. Tearing down is easy for them, but trying scares them.

        Really, it’s very thematically close to this post. I keep that song in mind when i write.

  12. What I derive from this, is you don’t adhere to the Liberal progressive line it will be very hard to get published? Or you have to self publish.

  13. “but also because of this odd idea that seems to affect mostly boomers (no idea why) that anyone who succeeds is crooked and must be brought low ”

    Who are these “boomers” to whom they refer? I’m right in the thick of that cohort (born 1950), and I’ve never assumed without a good deal of evidence (and there have been some cases in my experience) that someone who’s successful made it because they were crooked and at the expense of others. Yeah, I know a lot of my contemporaries go that way, but still.

    Sadly, it’s not just boomers thinking that way; some young (just became parents for the first time) friends of mine I love dearly … but don’t wander off into politics or economics with them. The koolaid is strong in some of these youngsters.

    But they’re not 30 yet, so there’s hope. I hope.

    • “The koolaid is strong in some of these youngsters.”
      Nice… gonna steal it.

    • You are NOT in the middle. That’s spin. The cohort used to end around those born around 53. They’ve been eating my generation to convince themselves they’re still young. Gee, I remember when we were “Those materialistic kids who are nothing like our generation” You’re one of the younger boomers. They either idolize the older ones, or they throw in with us. Even if you were, though the attitude is NOT universal and in their defense, they got massive agit prop from the soviets. (On purpose, I think.)
      And your friends? Echo boomers. My son is at the tail end of that. All the parents of his classmates were ten to fifteen years older than us. Next, four years later, all the parents were ten years YOUNGER than us. We were, sort of as usual, caught in the middle. However, also in their defense, the brainwashing usually lasts till 35, courtesy our friendly school system.

      • My oldest brother is a leading edge Boomer – born in 1947.
        I’m a bit behind him from 1950.
        My kid sister is a tag-along from 1960.
        Boomers are generally 1946 – 1964. (+/-)

        • Good FRUCKING heavens, no, they’re not. Go look at older stuff. End of the war to about fifty four. Look at the iconic boomer stuff. What was I doing in the summer of love? Well, I was POTTY TRAINED.

          If you look at older articles they cut off fifty four or fifty five. My generation is wedged between boomers and xers. I like the xers better. Lately they’ve started calling us Jones, because they think we “Jones” for what they have. Idiots. (By which I mean the boomers who follow the media image. No aspersions cast on fine people who just happened to be born those years.)

          • Can we please eschew group finger-pointing? Baby Boomers are about as homogeneous as women, Latinos or Asians.

            Now, if you want to name individuals for condemnation, I’ve got a little list. I grew up amongst Boomers and do not think your disdain for them one half of mine.

            • I mean “boomers’ as in those who embrace the stupid media image. I’m so tired of their trying to aggregate me. I imagine what it’s like to grow up with them!

              • I guess then I don’t count as one, not embracing much of any image. Not much of a joiner, either, so there’s that. I just thought that being born in ’50 put me in the middle of a group spanning from ’46 to ’54. But we’re not talking about manufacturing date so much as behavior?

                That’s a relief.

          • Let’s see…. “The summer of Love” (I had to google it – I must have slept through the love part.) 1967. I was about to start my senior year in HS. And 1968 was the summer of turning 18 so I could get a job at the steel plant where we pre-fabbed bridges and such while my oldest brother was in-country with the Navy, and some of my best friends (the ones a year older than me) were fighting to retake the US Embassy in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. (If you ever get a chance to see the news photo of the two Marines standing in front of the pillars at the end of the Embassy driveway, the Marine on the right was a friend of mine. (He served his time and was discharged with two silver stars, a bronze star, and three purple hearts.) And the spring of 1968 I graduated from HS, and by the time I was 18 and two weeks I’d enlisted in the Navy on the delayed entry program, and before I was 20 I was in Gitmo on an aircraft carrier when one of my best friends, LCpl John Carter (who went on active duty the same day I did) had stepped on a land mine and was dead. Yep… we boomers really had it posh… Wish I could compare us to the X-ers – but I don’t know any of them.

            • ” I was in Gitmo on an aircraft carrier when one of my best friends, LCpl John Carter (who went on active duty the same day I did) had stepped on a land mine and was dead. ”

              Wasn’t that how John Carter traveled to Barsoom once, or was that the other Earthman?

            • Note why I said “the boomers as painted by the media.” Somehow soldiers were never a part of it. BTW these boomers painted by the media TOOK OVER the media and squatted on it. We should have another name for them, really. I thought the summer of love was 66? Oh, fine, then, I was reading by then.

              • No discussion of the Summer of Love is complete without P.J. O’ Rourke’s after action report: The sexual revolution is over and the microbes won.

                • Actually, I LOVED O’Rourke’s memories of his hippie days, particularly being eaten by the desk. My kids don’t get it, but I remember my brother’s friends at that age/time, and it’s stupid, but it’s funny too.

              • Absolutely… my hubby can tell stories of the things that generation did to him and his buddies when they went off base after coming home from Vietnam. The stories ain’t pretty.

              • Try being the “youth vote.”

                I FINALLY turned 30, sent out a gleeful text about how I was finally, finally, FINALLY not part of the youth vote!

                And now I keep hearing the youth vote expanded to be “Everyone under 35.”

                *muttermuttermutter*

        • 1947 to 1964 is one generation? What a bizarre idea. The differences in the experiences growing up could not make for one cohesive zeitgeist.

          • This is what annoys me. It wasn’t talked about in the eighties. Then the boomers — by which I mean boomers in media and entertainment who are the “summer of love” idiots — decided they didn’t want to be talked about as growing old. And suddenly they were calling me a boomer and trying to fit me in that niche. I mean, my brother, who is ten years older was at the end of the “experience” thing.

            • I have the same problem when they added us at the end of the Boomers. They didn’t want us. They bullied us, and then called us names like materialistic. Then all of a sudden we were the end of the “Flower Generation.” Bull-puckie I am of the Lost Generation.

      • I’ve been told that I’m part of the Boomer tail. Look, I was born after 1970. I’m closer to the WWII generation in outlook and morés than I am to Boomer or Gen X. Leave me alone and get the h-ll off my lawn.

        • I don’t know what Gen I’m supposed to be in, but I’m pretty sure I don’t fit the profile. I would have to agree with you on the WWII outlook and mores though.

          Hey, I was born late 70’s, maybe we should start our own generation index 🙂

          • There are elements of commonality that unify a cohort of people born in the same general era, that imprint on the consciousness. The Depression. World War II. The JFK Assassination. The Moon Landing. 9/11/01.

            Other, less single-point events also create a “generation” The internet. Twitter. E-books — things that phase-in over a period of years, permeating the consciousness until you have people who cannot imagine a time before.

            The Baby Boom wasn’t even the first mass pop culture generation. Saturday morning staples of Sky King & Penny, Roy & Dale and others were simply replacing the Saturday matinees that fascinated the Depression generation of kids. The commercial jingles of our youth hold a peculiar sway, and foe many of us the way we think of Bob Hope is a significant generational marker.

            But these are all superficial elements and do not confer knowledge of individuals within a “generation.” They also fail to reflect the changing of attitudes over time, such as the views of “The Women’s Movement” or “Gay Marriage.” For that matter, the acceptance of drunk driving has undergone a massive reversal, as have views on smoking. For that matter, who in the Fifties would imagine that some day discussions would include a phrase like “free range kids”?

            Reducing complex socio-cultural eras to simplistic labels is regrettably very much a Boomer thing.

            • I love free-range kids. They’re a little gamier, but much better fla- oh. Wait a sec, what were we talking about?

            • Reducing complex socio-cultural eras to simplistic labels is regrettably very much a Boomer thing.

              Serious respons time. I wonder how much of that is a reaction to growing up with the imminent (or apparently so) threat of total global destruction. Just speculation, here, as I only relatively recently broke the age over which nobody should be trusted. But to be taught about nuclear holocaust as though it was a simple fact of life, even an expectation. I can see that damaging the generational psyche to the point of withdrawing into what are basically juvenile reactions. A lot of what we see on a national – and even global – level is little more than, “you’re a poopy head,” from one side, with the other replying, “no, you’re a poopy head!” Is any of that behavior at all different than Gaius Julius and Cato glaring at each other across the Forum floor?

              • I would just like to say that I loved CD training in Jr. Highschool. The films from the Mercury Shots, the sections on building a shelter, sanitation, dealing with floods and wildfires…all of this said, “you may survive this if you plan.” (Tommy Turtle was kinda lame, though.)

              • So would you suggest that we identify the Boomers as the generation that will remember duck and cover drills and had a paper bag labeled in big block letters with their name containing a blanket, a change of clothes, some tinned tuna and a can-opener stored in the fall out shelter in the basement of the school? I shall have to think about that.

                • It wasn’t all bad, you know, on a more hopeful note — the boomers can probably recall the ushering in of the manned vehicle space age and watching Alan Shepard take the first ride into space.

                  • Clark E Myers

                    Celebrate Yuri’s night?

                  • We were told we would die anyway, so at least you guys had duck and cover. We were “waiting for the hammer to fall.”

                    • And my generation got the battle cry of, “Wolverines!”

                    • When you consider that the Boomers made hit shows of The Monkees and The Munsters there is really nothing more that need be said.

                    • Well, some of us had parents who knew enough science to know that the drills and the shelters were the equivalent of much of the rig-a-ma-roll at the airports now: done to make it look like something was being done.

                      I can understand what you were told, and it was probably more truthful. Europe had been badly churned up twice before in recent memory. Even now there will be news of unexploded shells found. And Europe was not in control, and felt it was in the physical position of monkey in the middle. In contrast, whatever unexploded ordinance from battles that lies unfound in fields of the contiguous states of America will be over 150 years old now. We were one of the nations holding the cards at the table. It produces a different perspective.

    • There’s a reason Millennials are AKA the “echo boomers.”

      Don’t forget the spoiled apple effect– or is it the giving it away effect? The folks who are very willing to give you their views at the drop of a straight line are often giving away sub-par product.
      (There’s the counter-effect of “works of love” where the person is pathetically eager to share their mind-babies as soon as they’re sure it won’t be violently attacked. Amusingly, the blogosphere ends up having a lot of places that attract works-of-love folks. Or maybe it’s just more obvious, since it’s a safe place to go?)

  14. The worst case of envy I ever saw was on a TV show–NCIS. McGee had written a best selling mystery and had bought a high end leather jacket with some of the proceeds. The day he wore it to work, his coworkers destroyed it! He had done well because he wrote during his free time and other factors, as opposed to his coworkers who fooled around during their free time. He had previously been teased by his coworkers for being industrious and not a goof-off like them.

    I hate the implicit message that the most important thing is to be cool and not be industrious. If being a party animal is your main goal in life, it’s not my fault if you’re bankrupt when you’re 30.

    • If memory serves (it has been quite a while since I saw some of the early NCIS episodes), part of the problem was that McGee had “borrowed” the lives of his colleagues and used them as the basis of his novels, only slightly modifying their names.

      I don’t write fiction at present, but assume that is bad form.

      • That’s no reason for destroying his jacket.

        • Billy Oblivion

          I saw that episode (my wife got them on NetFlix for a while) and it’s not *THAT* he wrote them into his book, it’s WHAT he wrote about them in his book.

          Yes, it was a reason to destroy the jacket.

          • So you’d be okay with someone keying your car if they felt that you had said something derogatory about them?

            • Wayne Blackburn

              I might not be OK with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised with it, if I Libeled them as they perceived him to have done.

              • Wayne,

                When did it become acceptable for adults to act like children on the playground?

                • I did not take Wayne’s statement as condoning the behaviour, merely understanding it. There is a vast difference between the two.

                  For example, if somebody wearing a para-military uniform and brandishing a cudgel was acting in a threatening way toward citizens trying to enter a polling place, I would not condone — indeed, i would deplore — a person shooting the aforementioned thug in the knees. But I would understand the emotional impetus upon which they acted.

                  • RES,

                    Neither did I. That question was really for everyone that seem to think it was ok to take there frustration out on inanimate objects instead of talking it out like adults.

                    I should have included a, you think, some where in that sentence: “When d[o you think] it bec[a]me acceptable for adults to act like children on the playground?”

                    Sorry, another way I could of asked the question, thought on my mind, is, “Why are we not surprised when adults act like children on a play ground? Is it that common that it has become the expected way of doing things?”

                    Destroying the jacket was just passive aggressive nonsense. The sole porpose of doing it was to make them feel better with confronting the issue or resolving anything.

                    My 2 cents.

                    • ” That question was really for everyone that seem to think it was ok to take there frustration out on inanimate objects instead of talking it out like adults”

                      Alternatively it is much better to take the frustration out on animate objects, like the person you’re frustrated with.

                    • Yah, We wouldn’t want to have to say, “That wasn’t cool, and here’s why. Can you not do that again?”

                    • Why didn’t anybody just talk to McGee and tell him how they felt? Destroying someone’s expensive jacket because you are upset with them is incredibly passive aggressive, and not funny. In my opinion it is also theft.

                  • Yes, but you had better not do so in Philadelphia ( 😉 ) as the possession of that fire arm will probably get you into more hot water than the non-lethal use of it. Might I suggest the judicious use of a small blow gun and a tranquilizing dart?

                    BTW: you forgot to mention that part of the impetus for your extreme action would be the recent recorded failure of the government to protect voting rights under like circumstances, therefore, may I refer to the third charge of The Declaration of Independence, although I can assure you that it won’t get you very far as a defense in court:

                    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

      • Not quite, the names were close enough to make it obvious in the script, but the characters were at most caricatures of his co-workers, and the most lightly modified part was that he really, really carries a torch for Abby. Pretty obvious fantasy life as a book… which makes it just like 90% of the “Best sellers” out there.

        He’s vulnerable, and they exploit it, because he’s a good target– when he does fight back, it’s like being mauled by a mouse. Very good character design, I practically puff up like a pissed off mother cat when they start in on him– my folks taught me how to not be that person, but it could have so easily been me who was walked over and exploited like that.
        He ain’t perfect, but I dang near jump up and cheer every time he shows some backbone. (I would also probably harm Tony inside of a week, but that’s neither here nor there.)

        • This kind of endless bullying in my husband’s opinion causes victims to bring a rifle to school and start shooting. He says that if he were in McGee’s place he would’ve shot Tony. Both of us wonder why Gibbs didn’t say anything. Steve thinks less of Gibbs because Gibbs didn’t stop this childish and unprofessionally destructive behavior.

          • Part of why I like the show is because you can read-in stuff– if you contrast Tony at the start from a few seasons later, he stops harassing McGee when Gibbs is around. That happens as Gibbs slowly is more willing to give McGee the same sort of very tough hassle that he gives everyone else, and McGee stands up for himself more.

            One of the few series that I can actually suggest folks get the whole thing, then sit down and watch two or three episodes a night for a few months. It holds up amazingly well.
            (Note: yes, a lot of it IS reading-in– at least as far as I can tell, I’m not so great at telling what folks are thinking when they are really feeling it, let alone when they’re actors.)

            Gibbs doesn’t say anything because that would be a nuclear bomb. He thinks McGee can be stronger, so he keeps pruning the others back to give him light, and when the kid grows, he gets some pruning too.

            • McGee’s character is pretty much a cypher – and thus easy to write. DeNose-O’s character is also lacking in depth and definition – also easy to write.

              Giibbs’ character is less so… and some effort has been expended in including Grunt (Marine) attitudes. Gibb’s disregard of the hazing of McGee’s character is IN character for Gibbs. He observes the situation and the individuals – and only intervenes when it interferes with the unit’s mission. In the military most people have to make their own place, and it is the responsibility of non-coms to allow this sorting out to happen naturally without affecting unit cohesion or effectiveness.

              So Gibbs’ character has a bit more depth than the others. The whapping of DeNozo’s head is a good indicator of the relationship between the two characters, and sort of a territory marking, as Gibbs almost always does it in front of the other characters. It’s an “I’m the boss – you’re not.” putting DeNose-o’ in his place and a reminder of that.

              I think the best job of character writing and probably the most difficult to do was the integration of Ziva. Now THERE is a complex character where lots of different back-grounding must be incorporated, and making the transition from essentially freelance Mossad Agent (essentially cinematically equivalent to a Brit 007) to part of a team where different tactics and strategies must be employed for success. ie She has to ADJUST both socially and professionally to an alien environment, and we see a lot fo conflict in her facial expressions and actions. I’d say one of if not the best actor/actress on the set.

              For the worst and most shallow character in the series I nominate the former Secret Service Officer – can’t even remember her name just now. Shallow – no definition. It was like the writers thought that everybody knows what a SS agent is so they didn’t have to give her a character – it was an auto-fill.

  15. Paula Handley (aka Mystik Waboose)

    Sigh. This hits a nerve with me for one reason. My biological family refers to my business as “that little hobby of yours”. They can’t wrap their heads around the fact that this is my living, and in my terms (and those of quite a few of my friends) I *am* successful. This however does not meet their version of success.

    • masgramondou

      Doesn’t apply to me, but I know other who suffer that problem. In at least one case the “hobby” earns more than the spouse’s “respectable regular job”, so much so that spouse is considering quitting the regular job to help support the hobby

  16. One of my acquaintances from undergrad (I think from the UAE) during a debate once told me:

    “I don’t care how you think (whatever we were talking about at the time) happened. Behind every great fortune there is a great crime. By definition. No one gains except by another’s loss, therefore those who achieve much must have done so at the expense of many.”

    Holy alien philosophy, batman!

    Unfortunately, it seems to be the instinctive assumption of a great many people.

    • Ah, the zero sum life. I heard a [denomination] missionary opining that Americans should not have nice things until the rest of the world has them first, more or less, because it was not fair for the US to be wealthy when the rest of the world was not. Pretty sad view of life. She was also peeved that the US govt gave Rwanda more money than it gave [her mission station]. The fact that “her” country was still having an active, nasty civil war that spilled over the borders at least once a month notwithstanding.

      • And from such idiots come the entitlement generations… I wonder where they will get their government handouts when the workers are retired/gone? (“And who will help me bake the bread?” “Not I” said the welfare queen.” “Not I said the person talking on their “‘bamaphone.” “Not I said the government worker.”… ) And who will know how to bake bread when the Little Red Hen is dead?

    • Dang I aways thought it was hard work. Now in some cases it may be true, but I have seen cases where it was dedication abd hard work. (Bill Gates Criminal?)

  17. All of civilization is nothing more, or less, than Dick-Waving — walking around saying “LOOK AT THE SIZE OF MY DICK, MERE NUBS, AND DESPAIR! I AM THE SUPERIOR SPECIMEN — WORSHIP ME, FEMALES OF THE SPECIES!”.

    Not being Female, I’m not wholly certain what the Female Equivalent of Dick-Waving is, but it also resolves into “I am a superior specimen, whose genes should be passed on”.

    Thus, dragging down the Successful is no different from the ancient practice in war of defiling male corpses by cutting off their genitals and shoving them down their throats.

    • Dorothy Grant

      No, that’s all of teenage male adolescence. Civilization was created for the benefit of mothers, children, and the elderly and infirm…. even the Zulu tribes, for all their ready warfare, have complicated and sacred rituals, made for ending blood feuds and all the disagreements that come with living around others.

      Most dick-waving comes from either an inflated ego that, if it ever met reality, has quickly walked on by without looking. The rest comes from deep insecurity, neediness to bring others down because they neither know how to bring themselves up, nor believe that they can. And a few rare cases of sociopaths who are just evil, like to brag about it, and jus’ need killin’.

  18. masgramondou

    One of my runner friends posted this – http://barefoot-monologues.com/2013/03/21/why-bragging-is-a-good-thing-and-you-should-do-it-more/

    It seems somewhat apropos

    One of the interesting things about Silicon Valley and the SV inspired part of the tech world is that – in general – there just isn’t that envy of the guys who made it big (or at least bigger). That particularly applies to those of us who were paper millionaires in ~2000 only to see the whole lot crater 6 months later while we were still trying to figure out how not to pay ridiculous amounts of tax on our putative gains*.

    I’m sure I read somewhere (Hernando de Soto?) that the economic crab bucket effect has almost certainly been a part of the reason why some countries have failed to develop while similar (often neighboring) ones have done great. Examples include Chile vs Argentina, significant chunks of Africa vs SE Asia and so on. The great thing about the last decade or so is that, in various ways, the crab bucket and the related issues of government corruption/cronyism have eased all over the developing world and as a result something like 1 billion people have been lifted out of abject poverty. Meanwhile the crab bucket countries (hey Venezuela I’m looking at you) have managed to impoverish themselves despite enormous natural resources.

    *important moral: even though the government steals 49% of your money, 51% of $1,000,000 is a lot more than 100% of $1,000

  19. After reading this post, it reminded me of my dad saying the same thing about the Native Americans in our area. There were a lot of them who were pulled back into drugs, alcohol, and fighting by their friends and family. What my dad couldn’t see was that he and my mom were the same way.

    When I did my level best to leave, my mother would try to lure me back with tinsel ideas– jobs, guys, etc. But by the time I was a teenager I already knew that I was Odd and that the boys in my area who were looking for wives were not looking for someone like me. Some even told me so– I wasn’t excited about them either. The area in question (Vernal and surrounding areas) have more people related to me by blood (up to the fourth generation) than any other area in the US except Southern Idaho. My first boyfriend (who is still a friend…) looked exactly like my brother. 😉 We found out a few years later that he was related to me through two of my lines… not close close, but too close.

    So the crab bucket metaphor can be used with any group of people who are running on instincts instead of using a little brainpower imho.

    I had to leave my area and join the Navy before I found someone who had bloodlines that didn’t intersect mine at all.

    Even after I left home and was married, my mother tried to lure me back with a bookstore (I should buy it) or land. I already knew that I was incompatible with the land or the people. The thought of going back there made me sick to my stomach. The two friends I made have some really bad stories about domestic abuse. They are both out of there and are married to other people. (Good men).

    My mother’s excuse was that she wanted her family close to her. My father’s? It was a good place. –well, no.

    • OK, stupid “small world” question: Cyn, was that bookstore the one in Vernal that was owned and run by (in the mid 1980s) a little old lady? IIRC the shop I’m thinking of had a very eclectic selection, especially for kids’ books. She got me hooked on L.M. Boston’s “Children of Green Knowe” series. I don’t remember her name, or the name of the shop.

      • YES– so you have been there. She was selling the shop in the mid-1990s because she wanted to see the world before she died. I think it was called Bitter Creek Books. I don’t even remember her name, although she was a school teacher before she started the bookstore.

        • Now TX– how did you make it to Vernal? I lived in Vernal, Jensen, Ballard, out in the Book Cliffs, and ugh… I can’t remember the name of the next place… the parents now live in Lapoint. I was ready to leave after the Jensen episode. lol

        • YES!! That’s it! Bitter Creek Books! I still have the books and bookmark somewhere. 😀

          Ahem, calming down now. My parents decided when Sib and I were wee sprogs that the best way for us to learn history was to go where the history happened. So one year we’d follow the Oregon Trail, another year the fur trapper rendezvous sites, or the Mormon Trail, or the eastern theater of the Civil War. Over the course of several years we did the Colorado Plateau, got to all the Anasazi sites, went to Dinosaur N.M. and Four Corners, Arches and Moab and Monticello (before they got “discovered”), Comb Ridge and Escalante (before the Feds added to it.) Some great memories, some not so fun (the biting flies at Hovenweep, when the back window of the FourRunner got left open going down Mule Twist Canyon and all the dust filled the “trunk” and back seat.)

          • Yea– dang dust– but the Dinosaur quarry was really great. You probably didn’t see Josie Morris’s cabin (it was farther down the same road). Her sister was Queen Anne. The cabin and box canyon was given to Doug Chew (a sweet older man in our church). He gave it to the Feds for a park and then the Feds turned it into a wreck. He finally sued for it back and turned it into a camping area– I don’t know if it is still there. He was the youngest boy of his family and his brothers were part of the Wild Bunch. It had some interesting history over there—

          • The joy of learning history is in the family blood. My grandfather’s undergraduate degree was in American History and Daddy’s was in English. When I was young Daddy used to play what we called name a date — a date was named and then he, and later we, look at what was happening all around the world at the time.

            Two summers Daddy piled Momma, me and my dog, a beautiful cinnamon beige standard poodle, into the our family car and drove us on a loup south, stopping at various historical sites along the way. Those memories are about the best I have of my family.

            I found the crater at Petersburg awesome. The horse flies near the ferry station on Ocracoke were a painful nuisance. Historic Williamsburg had made such a distinct impression on me that when I visited it over three decades later for a training conference I was able to navigate my way around. (This was much to the chagrin of one of the group, who grew up there and was having trouble.) The mountains, well I still love those mountains. And we stopped at Monticello, as well.

            I think this is, in part, is why I started to travel with The Daughter. And that has lead, eventually, to a visits as far flung and varied as Four Corners, NM and Kohler Dunes Natural Area north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan.

            (Rumble, rumble, dang. I do wish Washington was not so dead set raising the price of energy, and destroying our economy. There are so many places I would love to see.)

          • “My parents decided when Sib and I were wee sprogs that the best way for us to learn history was to go where the history happened.”

            So I take it this how you knew where Crazy Woman Canyon was?

            • *grin* Yep, that and the name of the VOR beacon always tickled me. The Cheyenne and Albuquerque sectional charts are good for tricking, excuse me, teaching students that there’s a lot of ground that is higher than it looks.

      • L.M. Boston’s “Children of Green Knowe” series

        Oh, thank you for touching on some very found memories.

    • Cyn, I expect there’s no need to explain why your comment brought this joke to mind (from interwebs, one of many variants):

      One day a girl brings home her boyfriend and tells her father she wants to marry him.

      After talking to her for while he tells his daughter she can’t do it because he is her half brother.

      The following week the daughter brings another boyfriend home but again her father tells her she can’t marry him either because he is also her half brother.

      The same problem happens again four more times! The girl starts to get really annoyed.

      She goes to her mum and says: “Mum, what have you been doing all your life time? Dad has been going around laying every maiden in town and now I can’t marry any of the guys I like because they have turned out to be my half brothers!”

      Her mum replies: “Don’t worry darling, you can marry any one of them you want, he’s not your dad!”
      http://www.railwayphotos.net/jokes/jokes.html

      • oh yea– I gotta chuckle out of that one

      • Well– by dad kept his proliferation in the one family (9 kids), but all my great-great-grandfathers were polygamists.

        • I was fascinated by Juanita Brooks’ autobiography when she talked about going with her father to visit her grandmothers. Five of her grandfather’s wives were still alive at the time.

          • I should add that back in the late 1800s, one of my paternal ancestors petitioned the TN legislature to legitimize his 20 kids by two wives, so the boys could vote. The legislature never took up the petition. Must have been a busy year.

            • We have been trying to find out about the hubby’s ancestors– which we found info up to Missouri, but not where they came from–. Well, the original part of the family left Virginia (lost the plantation on the death of the husband) and ended up in Tennessee. Some of the brothers left for Missouri– some with slaves and some w/o slaves. As you can see when the Civil War started, the brothers were on opposite sides of the war. We have pics of hubby’s great-great-great- grandfather in a Missouri Civil War uniform.

              • The LDS branch of the Red family split off during the Civil War and headed west. Don’t blame them.

                • Hubby’s side of the fam is NOT LDS. 🙂

                  • I was just observing, not really commenting. Between the maternal and paternal halves of the Red family we ended up with Union, Confederate, fled west, and “held by C.S.A. government in Virginia and forced to design currency” sides. *shrugs* Typical for families close to the border, I suspect. (Except for the poor German immigrant trapped in Richmond.)

                    • LOL– oh yea– well some of my family went down that Mormon trail. Others were with the Mormon Battalion. One of my great great grandmothers came around the end of the Civil war with her estate in Denmark (plus people, etc) and bought enough supplies to supply everyone in their train. Once they got to Utah, they helped each other and were given a good start–

                      Others of my family left the church too at the same time and went to California although that branch says my great great great great grandfather didn’t entirely leave in his heart. 😉

          • I need to read that book. My grandfather’s father was one of the youngest boys in a polygamist family. The church had already stopped polygamy but my great grandfather came home with a woman and told his wife (my great-grandma) that they would have to live together. She dumped him and the other woman out the door, packed up the covered wagon, and drove her four children to her father’s place in Southern Idaho (from Northern California to Idaho). Her father and brothers helped her to homestead a piece of property that the State took from her for a mess of coins (under 5,000) when she was in her 80s. They say my temper is much like hers. 😉 I knew her as a child and I can think of no greater compliment. She was tough.

            • “Quicksand and Cactus” is her autobiography. Fascinating stuff (as are most of her books) that I borrowed a bit of when I designed a class on agriculture in the US Southwest.

    • “My first boyfriend (who is still a friend…) looked exactly like my brother. 😉 We found out a few years later that he was related to me through two of my lines… not close close, but too close.”

      I had some friends try to set me up with a girl one time, we got to talking and discovered we were some sort of cousins. Convoluted, not close but second or third cousins a couple of ways. (this was in an county where neither of us were aware we had any relations)

      • Yea– I still talk to my first one– We see each other once in awhile and tell each other about husbands/wives and family. He is more family than some of my family ;-). I just call him cousin.

  20. Sarah, thank you so much for this blog post. It inspired me to write a blog post about the same issue that’s been weighing me down for some time: http://nonmfawriter.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-omega-approach-to-good-life.html

  21. You sound to me like a good old fashioned red-blooded American.
    All those stories of your history, and you forgot to mention something: the moment you pulled the sword from the stone and became Heinlein’s Heir. Which you undeniably are.

  22. Pingback: IMAO » Blog Archive » Whatever the Opposite of Liberals Is