Rolling Up Your Sleeves

Yesterday I was talking to one of my younger mentees about a reading list I intend to drop on her.  She was half joking when she asked if I also could give her some time.

Look, I get it.  She has a full time job and is trying to break into writing.  In fact, part of the reason for my interest in her is that of everyone I’ve taught ever she’s putting out more work in less time than… well, than anyone but me.  And only me when I’m not fighting illness or depression.

I get completely how tired you can get.

Weirdly, I was also talking to a successful peer yesterday.  He’s just slightly older than I, and he was talking about how every year he gets busier and has less energy.

In my experience, this has been my story, too.  If I could have the work I have today, with the energy of my twenties, I’d be fine.  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.  And adults buckle up and do what they must (which neither my mentee nor my friend were arguing against, btw.)

However, I think a lot of this is embedded in the current ethos of “that’s not fair.”

Look, like has never been fair.  EVER.  Granted, for some and at some times, it’s more unfair than others. Right now, a lot of people are working more than they should have to, partly because of the socialist illusions that have controlled government for over 100 years (yes, even when Republicans are in power.)

Expensive government means it sucks the vitality out of the economy, makes it harder for the young to start careers (and demands they have more and more expensive and often useless education) and makes it harder to retire with any semblance of comfort.  So my older friends are still all working: often working like crazy at five or six jobs, because ageism means they aren’t easy hires particularly in tech fields.  And my younger friends are struggling to break in, and be paid, well… anything, since particularly in the “liberal” industries interns are supposed to work for nothing, even as their bosses agitate for a higher minimum wage.

None of this is fair.  It really isn’t.  Earlier generations had it easier.  Yes, sure, most of mine went through the hell of rotating temp jobs before we found our path, but at least it wasn’t being unemployed and held out.

… but life isn’t fair.  As long as you understand this, you’ll be all right.

Our monkey brains have this illusion of “fair” and that things should be evenly distributed or whatever.  It comes from this being a good way to keep a simian band happy and fed.

But society and life in general aren’t a simian band.

And some people will always have it harder.  That’s okay.  With great hardship comes great opportunity.

One of the disheartening things when I visited Porto last year was the “arts and crafts.”  Look, the city has gone touristic, and makes good money, good for it.  The fact it obliterated the places I liked is neither here nor there.  The city owes me nothing.

The disheartening thing is that tourist shop after tourist shop sold practically the same things (which a high ration of pseudo-folk penis and vaginas in various uses.  Probably because they sell well to Germans, in chess sets, and folk scenes, all of it done in lumpy clay, of course.)

The reason this was disheartening is that I remember the seventies.  Most people in my brother’s generation left school with degrees and there simply were NO jobs.  So many if not most of them took up doing something.  Most of them were UNLICENSED vendors on the street (it was a treat watching them pick up stakes as the police approached.)  Their sales were unlicensed, and unsanctioned.  But the thing is walking down the streets where they clustered, there was an immense variety of arts and crafts, most of them looking REALLY polished, (not lumpy clay) and really creative.

One of my brother’s friends made (unlicensed, natch) drawings of Disney characters, and wrote little motivational things at the bottom, for people’s birthdays and stuff.  He was always backed up on orders.  Another painted scenes in glass, from little ones used as desk ornaments, to wall or window ones.  Sold on the streets.  Others did everything from painted rocks (many, many in the beach, and I wish I’d then known the trick of painting them to look like animals.  Could have cleaned up.  Sleeping dragons or something.)  Others made hanging figures in balsa wood.  Picture frames (I still have some) in leather and wood. Stuffed animals (I might yet revive my business in lucky frogs ;)), jackets.  Jewelry, from the conventional beads, to this guy who made earrings of tiny flowers embedded in resin drops. You name it, they did it, and the inventiveness was amazing.

Now, none of these people were in art school.  Most of them were engineers of some stripe.  Were they making crazy money from these odd jobs?  Well, no.  Particularly because the city wasn’t particularly touristic back then.  But many were making car/gas/apartment money, as opposed to staying in mom and dad’s house, in eternal childhood.

And the products were good and filled a niche.  Of course they were also untaxed, for obvious reasons.  And of course it wasn’t an ideal situation.

But it was very much making lemonade out of lemons.

In 2008 I remember Jerry Pournelle writing an article that said something like: if you’re unemployed and can’t find work, DO SOMETHING.  Find something you can make and sell or do and get paid for.  Find a niche and fill it.  And if you can’t find that, then clean.  Make things really clean.  Because when you find a job/get to work, you won’t have time to clean like that.

He was right, you know?

If you let go of the idea that life is fair, or should take a prescribed course, or that your degree “entitles” you to this or that, or that government should take care of you, you can accomplish great things.

As you let go of the “expected” your eyes open to “possibilities.”  This might be a great main chance, or “Multiple, tiny streams of income.” (Lucky frogs!)

But whatever you do, brace yourself.  The way things are right now, we both have to pay for the illusions of the past, and to build on the quicksand of fast changing tech.

Yes, our generations (the one before me, mine, the one after me) might have it harder than most because we, by definition, life in interesting times.

Did someone promise you a rose garden?  Well, they were lying.

It’s going to take sweat, tears and toil to right this ship and maybe make it easier for our grandkids.  Particularly toil.

Open your eyes.  Then roll up your sleeves.

No one said it would be easy.

Build under, build over, build around.

Get started the sooner you can.  You’ll have more energy.  And the work will only get heavier with time.

But, hey, you’ll never be bored.

Now go to it.

124 responses to “Rolling Up Your Sleeves

  1. The parsley, sage, and rosemary weren’t enough?

  2. I’m working in the field I went to school for. So far? I’m bored stiff. But I have to pay my dues. And in the down times, I’m writing. Or making dragons in the evening (and selling them wholesale, which hurts, but I don’t have time to market them otherwise). If one stream of income drops, I have others. If I keep working like this, I can be out of the school debt and then I’ll have more choices.

    • You’re the first person I thought of when I read this. You have tons of things going on to bring in money!

    • I can be out of the school debt and then I’ll have more choices.

      And this is something too few students are taught.

      Not only are they not taught this, but innumerable helpful organizations will encourage them to go into debt for school — because: !SCHOOLl!

      And then once they are out of school there will be a whole new group of people who will be encouraging them to extend their indebtedness. A whole new kind of modern slavery. (I owe my soul to the company store.)

      You don’t want to get me started on a screed on the progressive and socialist tinkering with the banks … in their minds some kind of magic money tree must grow in their cellar of every bank and the only reason the banks don’t want to share is because of mean nasty selfish conservatism … at the same time they paint a picture of a fixed amount of wealth in the world … and people buy it.

      Sometimes the thought of the lack of thought out there just makes me sad.

      • Owing your soul is about right. I was sad but not surprised at the reaction to my recent blog about not *needing* credit cards. You’d think I was going around beating people’s dogs.

        • Hm. Gonna have to go read that. We don’t need CCs, we just abuse them for the free stuff from Amazon (Amazon Prime Rewards Card). If money ain’t in the bank, it isn’t getting bought.

        • I’ve personally had credit cards, and have since concluded that they are more hassle than they are worth. And, sure, you can pay them off every month, but It’s oh so easy to run things up on it, a little bit at a time, and then have a huge balance that you can’t pay off all at once…

          And then there’s the window of opportunity that the bank has, to sneak in extra fees and services (I once got a monthly credit report for only $5/month! Which turns out to be $60/year…) that nickle and dime you to death, particularly if you don’t have the energy to fight for every nickle and dime…

        • I hate credit cards with a passion. The only reason I have them is for emergencies, and because it hurts your credit rating if you close them.
          Right now I’m leaning on one of them fairly heavy because I’m prepping a property for sale. Once sold, the money made from that will pay off the cards. Anything extra will go towards a really nice lunch :-9

          • They can be useful to rack up a credit rating — I know a woman who got one figuring she might buy a house one day — but that’s if you can keep them under control.

      • * Heelot clip goes here. *

  3. Or, you know, just rip the sleeves out altogether.


    N.B., some people carry this look off better than others.

  4. Look, like has never been fair.
    Neither has life.

    • In life, looks aren’t fair. Now that is something I could get very redistributionist about!

      • It depends on the basis for the redistribution …

        THOUGHTS FROM THE AMMO LINE[SNIP]
        There was a veteran emcee [at the rodeo] whose job it was to fill dead air every second. He told a funny joke which I will include here for free. He used his colleagues in the joke, and so will I.

        John, Paul and Scott are (God Forbid!) in an unfortunate accident and go to Heaven. They are surprised to learn that in Heaven they will be assigned new wives. John’s new wife is shockingly unattractive and he asks why. “Well,” says St. Peter, “once you cheated on your taxes.” Paul steps up and his new wife makes John’s look like Marilyn Monroe. Turns out one time he also cheated on his taxes. Scott is thrilled to find he has been assigned a beautiful, shapely blonde! When he asks St. Peter how he got so lucky, Pete says, “She cheated on her taxes.”

        • I’d have given the tax cheats wives who actually looked like Marilyn Monroe.

          “Resistance to Tyrants is obedience to God.”

  5. Did someone promise you a rose garden? Well, they were lying.

    Not really. A lot of time spent working the soil to make t friable, lots of horse manure, thousands of thorns, great diligence required to get the aphids and other insect predators and, with a little timely rain, some sun (but not too much) and a bit of luck, a few roses will bloom.

    Briefly.

    Then it’s back to work.

    • Yeah, beat me to it.

    • My grandfather grew the finest rose bushes in the county. Won awards. What I remember most was hauling countless bushel baskets of cow flop to fertilize them. Always prayed for a dry week before we went out to the farm to fetch it as damp manure is a special treat. And he had this really evil metal duster gun that he used to spray a powder on the plants to kill off the bugs that liked rose leaves very enthusiastically.
      And grandmother had a basement root cellar with shelves lined with hundreds of quart mason jars filled with vegetables from their back yard garden.

      • Daddy’s mother had one of the most magnificent private rose gardens I have ever encountered. There were several long beds of roses. Daddy had had been tasked with the digging for her while he was in high school and college. From his description at his mother’s insistence he deeply double dug the beds while working in massive amounts of manure and compost. (By the time he was done I expect he could have matched any dough-boy in WWI in the art of digging trenches.) Knowing his mother, I expect there was method in the madness of setting a growing adolescent boy to hard physical work, and it was not just to have the roses.

        When she and my grandfather moved to their final home I think that was one of the very few things she regretted leaving behind.

      • When my grandmother died three years ago, she still had stuff in her basement from when she taught my sister and i to can stuff

        in 1983

        dunno if i’d eat it tho.

    • Speaking of rose gardens …

  6. Mu daughter — after having run through a couple of jobs, and lost interest in college, started a Teeny Artistic Business of her own – like your friends all did. She makes tiny origami earrings, and sells at local craft fairs, and markets. She has been building a clientele, and collecting a number of outlets who either buy from her for resale, or on consignment. I’m hoping that she will soon be able to realize a regular and steady income from it, as she loves creating them.

    We see so much of what you saw in Porto – the same old, same old – usually junk made in China and retailed for a considerable mark-up.

  7. > If you let go of the idea that life is fair, or should take a prescribed
    > course, or that your degree “entitles” you to this or that,

    It’s not just an “idea”, it’s what they teach in school, at least in the 1970s when I was in high school. The degree meant a low-work, high-pay job. Guaranteed. Not like those bozos pumping gas or picking fruit. Shoulda got a degree, hahaha.

    Though I still find it amazing, most people *believe* what they’re taught in school.

    They probably teach the same thing in Colorado in the 21st century too, but I figure if an Authority Figure told your kids it was Tuesday, they’d check the calendar before they’d accept it as a working hypothesis.

    • None of my degrees even entitles me to a cup of coffee.

      That’s the way it should be.

      • That’s not what they’re telling the kids in school these days, though. Not even at the college level. A lot of the kids coming out with masters degrees in my field (Geology) are expecting six figure salaries. Given that the industry is at a low (Thank you Saudi Arabia.) You can guess how that’s working out for them. The only saving grace is the age gap. There’s a lot of ‘near retirement’ and ‘just getting out of college’ but the middle group ‘of been around a bit but do not remember the ancient ways personally’ is a bit sparse due to previous down turns.

        • and they’re telling kids that what you master in is no biggie either, “Got Degree? Get Bucks”
          This leads to kids whining they can’t find work in their field . . .because majoring in Puppetry is obviously a guaranty of 6 figures.

        • Those “retirement waves” often seem to be continuously coming. Been hearing the aerospace one for years. Can think of two retirees from my program in 5 yrs.

          • At least in some areas of engineering, part of that may be because whenever there’s an unexpected new project with sudden demands for engineers and designers for, companies go hiring back (often as contractors) recent retirees in lieu of new hires. I think there’s three major reasons: they know where to find them, know their work product, and know they can be productive relatively quickly. New hires are coming on board, but slower than they otherwise would.

            Where I work, due to this trend and an extended period of low spending in the industries we support, the age distribution is effectively bimodal. There’s darn few of us in the 35-50 year old range. But new hires are finally slowly but inevitably shifting the shape of the curve.

          • Our upper end is old enough that some of the retirement is being handled by the grim reaper. And our folk are retiring out slowly (or getting laid off and NOT rehired after the slumps. New guys are cheaper.) I foresee another gap after this long slump. The last major push through was ended about the oil crash of ’84. So there’s a lot in the 65+ range. A fair number in the 30 to under range, and precious few in between that are not non-trads who are changing careers. They exist, and are usually hung onto because they’re hard to replace and they can train up the new guys… usually. I’m lucky to be in part of the industry that’s more cyclically robust. Processing is cheaper than a dry hole. On the other hand if the money’s not coming in at all…

        • Given that the industry is at a low (Thank you Saudi Arabia.)

          According to the resident troll at Chicago Boys, low oil prices are due entirely to his hero Vlad Putin and his multidimensional chess game to destroy American frackers.

          • That’s right up there with some of the Saudis thinking that American Shale Oil (and Fracking) was a CIA conspiracy to manipulate the oil market. (only they actually BELIEVED that… they asked one of our professional society’s speakers about it when he was there on business. His response was essentially ‘Conspiracy or not, the check doesn’t bounce’.)

      • I have two Baccalaureate* degrees, each something cum laude> which, accompanied by a slight processing & handling fee of $1.75 entitle me to free coffee at Starbucks.

        *My Giveadamn was insufficiently robust to permit post-graduate studies, especially as my Sufferingfoolslightly app never installed correctly. The idea of me lecturing undergrads caused strong deans to whimper.

    • That’s pretty much what they said back when I was in high school in the early 2000s, namely “if you don’t go to college, then you’ll spend the rest of your life flipping burgers at McDonalds,” and, “VoTech is for juvenile delinquents and kids who aren’t smart enough to get into college.”

      And now most of those same people for give us grief for being “too proud to work in McDonalds” and “getting a worthless degree instead of learning a trade.”

      • Had you gone to work at McDonalds circa 2000 and seriously applied yourself there is a not insignificant chance you could by now be owner of one or more franchised outlets and accumulating a not at all insignificant little bank account.

        One reason why the prior maladministration and its agents sought to destroy the franchising model.

    • Yep. On checking, it is actually Monday…

  8. “Did someone promise you a rose garden?”

    Unless you really, REALLY like roses, and hard work, TURN THEM DOWN!

    • Yep. Two words: Black Spot.

      Everything else was happy it got 2.5x the amount of rain as the year before. Not the damn roses.

      • Tell me about it. This is the first year I’ve had to deal with black spot since I can’t remember when. And a late, hard frost plus early aphids cost me Fire Sprite, dang it.

        • I will say this; I actually know of a rose that is very little trouble to grow. Rosa Rugosa. It’s an old fashioned rose, a shrub, and it is the only plant I have ever seen that can choke out poison ivy.

          It smells nice and has pretty rose hips in fall. It is also positivly fuzzy with thorns and only comes in pink and white.

          But of you can get it to take at all, your only real problem will be keeping it from taking over the immediate world.

          • Yep. And for all my whining, the black spot isn’t as bad as it could be. The grasshoppers did more damage (while I was away, of course).

            I remember my spray-pilot boss in Iowa talking about how you could hit rugosa with everything short of a tactical nuke and it would barely shrivel on the edges. It is prohibited in IA as a nusiance plant.

            • Our corner of Deepest Oregon isn’t friendly to decorative flowers, though I’m pretty happy with the squash blossoms we’re getting (even happier with the zucchini that follow).

              I’ve heard that some damned fools imported thistles because “they looked good”. When I get the time, I nuke the suckers (we have a few types, all listed as noxious weeds in Klamath County) with 2,4-D. That time is a scarce commodity this summer; I’m building a pumphouse and acting as GC for the plumbing and the part of the electrics I won’t do. No sir, I am not running 300 feet of #4 wire in conduit without a pro to do the dirty work. Still, I have to build the medium-sized ‘house–when the time permits, we’re going to put in a large-enough solar system for it, so the pumphouse is built to handle a half-ton of batteries.

              My BSEE isn’t totally worthless; I “won” the argument with the electrician who wanted to put in smaller wire than I wanted. My knowledge of circuit theory (and what low voltages can do to motors), combined with my being willing to pay for the thick wire, won the day. I rather suspect the latter was the key factor…

              The MSEE acquired in ’91 was useful for a few years, and the odd course/RTFM work paid off later on. The MSEE diploma is on the same wall as the one from Jeff Cooper’s place; given current conditions, I know which one is more valuable.

              • Nuke the thistles hardest in fall, as they are “bulking up” for winter. They will take up more of the chemical. At least, that’s what the ag-pilots and ag chem people told me.

          • When I first saw the Rosa Rugosa mentioned here I thought, “Hey, isn’t that a vanished coastal state in the Balkans?” Alas, that was the late Republic of Ragusa, not the same thing at all.

          • I have those growing feral all over my woods. When (and IF) I get time this summer, I’m going to clean those up and put in a trellis for them to climb on. Same colors, pink and white, mostly white.

  9. William O. B'Livion

    “Did someone promise you a rose garden?”

    No. I was a Marine. I was a mushroom.

  10. life isn’t fair

    ” I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. ” Marcus Cole, Babylon 5.

    • I find Marcus’ thought comforting…

      Straczynski wrote a rather squicky short story about Marcus being revived after 300 years, tracking down a mind imprint of Ivanova, having it edited to delete all of her memories from just before he died, and then reviving her on an empty planet and pretending they had been stranded. Happily ever after, the end.

      “Space, Time, and the Incurable Romantic”, as found on various of the B5 sites.

      • My favorite quote from him was the simple “Who knew they were French?” when the two were hunting up the Old Ones, and came across some who refused to speak English, but obviously understood it.

      • And the follow up video was one of my all time favorites: “No moral ambiguity. No hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces. They were the bad guys, as you say. We were the good guys. And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor.”

        Of course, I absolutely love G’Kar. His arc, especially in counterpoint to Londo’s, is what turned B5 from merely good to great.

  11. Work is what you are willing to do. I have known only a couple times in my life where I couldn’t find a job. Those situations were not because of me really, but because of the location and job climate. Since then I have always worked and always done something. As to life is not fair? A fair is where they award ribbons, that’s it.

    • The only times I’ve not had work it’s been because I was physically unable to hold a job. And even then, I had to be sent home because I still tried. Falling asleep at the fryer because you literally can’t function isn’t good for anybody.

    • The only time I had trouble finding a job was my next to the last layoff. As I did when laid off before that evening I hit all the fast food and retail I could Nothing because they figured I would leave as soon as I found something better which for me (degree and field) would be any day now they reassured me.

      Not so much. Even if I promised to say at least six months it was no dice.

      Wound up proctoring tests for a while.

  12. Off topic, but important to publicize:

    http://www.blacktiderising.com/

    John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series is being considered for development into an episodic TV series. The production company is trying to raise funds to make a pitch video to use to convince investors to back the series. Take a look, consider helping out! To try to make all this somewhat appropriate to the topic, isn’t it unfair that someone as successful as Ringo is now being considered for a TV series too? (I’m being sarcastic here, don’t shout at me! 😉 )

    • I lack confidence in their ability to cast Faith properly, given what Hollywood has claimed represents “strong, empowered women” but am willing to be surprised. More valkyrie, less nymph, please.

      • It’s not Hollywood doing it. It’s a veteran-owned company from Georgia, and Ringo is closely involved with them.

        https://www.facebook.com/blacktiderising/

        https://www.facebook.com/richard.rosenthal.92

      • It’s not Hollywood doing it. It’s a veteran-owned company from Georgia, and Ringo is closely involved with them.

        https://www.facebook.com/richard.rosenthal.92

        • I had grasped it wasn’t Hollywood producing — else why the “kickstarter” appeal, but H-Wood has a way of influencing our standard expectations, hence 5′ 3″ Scarlett Johansson*, weighing likely less than 110 lbs kicking the butt of 6′ 1″ Jon Favreau and (est.) 225 lbs.

          Again, more valkyrie, less nymph, please.

          *Note, that is an inch shorter than Kick-Ass Hit Girl, Chloë Grace Moretz, who is at east depicted as a runt on-screen. Keep in mind that Peter Jackson employed numerous camera tricks to reduce 6′ 1″ John Rhys-Davies to a dwarve; images on screen may not correspond to actors’ real sizes.

          • Egads! Insert a / following Kick-Ass in the sentence:
            *Note, that is an inch shorter than Kick-Ass Hit Girl, Chloë Grace Moretz, who is at east depicted as a runt on-screen. Keep in mind that Peter Jackson employed numerous camera tricks to reduce 6′ 1″ John Rhys-Davies to a dwarve; images on screen may not correspond to actors’ real sizes.

            Unlike the NY Times and other MSM news crafters, I do not have layers and layers of editors. All errors are my own.

          • Understood and agree, but let’s not prejudge the effort. I’m pretty confident that Ringo wouldn’t allow anything to go forward that miscasts his characters very badly.

            • In the back of my mind I hear John Ringo quietly state, ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’

              My mind decides it doesn’t need to find out.

          • richardmcenroe

            Best line in the movie: “Toss me. Don’t tell the elf.”

      • And because WordPress won’t allow multi-URL posts, here’s Ringo’s comment on the idea:

      • And finally, the effort’s facebook page:

        https://www.facebook.com/blacktiderising/

  13. My mother had roses bushes in the backyard, when my oldest sister told my next oldest sister that if she ate rose pedels she would become beautiful. When mom came home to a backyard full of upright sticks, well…. Let us say that it ended badly for both of my sister’s

    One for saying it and the other for believing it

  14. “My younger friends are struggling to break in, and be paid, well… anything, since particularly in the “liberal” industries interns are supposed to work for nothing, even as their bosses agitate for a higher minimum wage.”

    If you’re ever on a college campus or a big city and want to have a little fun, ask one of the “clipboard kids” (the ones walking around asking you things like, “Do you have a moment for economic justice?”) what they’re getting paid per hour. If they’re getting anything, it’s almost certainly below the current minimum wage, much less the $15 that we’re told is the only fair thing to pay them.

    While I certainly understand that life isn’t fair, none the less, this is one of the things that gets my goat, that “unpaid internships” have become the way that the well-connected avoid the consequences of the high minimum wage they’ve imposed on everyone else.

    • #RulesAreForLittlePeople and #ItsDifferentIfLeftistsDoIt

      • BTW, how completely progressives embrace those ideas and do so while denying has a lot more to do with my distaste for them than silly ideas.

        Everyone can be ignorant or stupid or even a bit blind about reality.

        Thinking that much more highly of yourself and that it gives you the right to not obey the rules you would force on others, though, is unacceptable.

    • Byzantine_Corporal

      I’ll take “charmingly naive” for 200, Alex!

    • ‘…that “unpaid internships” have become the way that the well-connected avoid the consequences of the high minimum wage they’ve imposed on everyone else.’

      And at the same time it is many of those ‘unpaid internships’ are the way in which the elite’s children make the proper social connections in order to be in line for future employment.

  15. People flip burgers or mow lawns because they lack imagination. It’s a very different thing than being stupid.
    A fellow in my metro area when jobless decided he would go around and pick the dog crap up from fenced yards of people who don’t want to clean up after their own dogs. He will come once a week or every day – depends on how much you will pay.
    He’s making a good living from it.
    I recently have seen signs with a phone number for a service that comes out and cleans your BBQ grill with live steam. Most people can only get the whole thing so clean, and some of them are far to expensive to just put on the curb this fall and buy a new one in the spring.

    • I used to pick up pine cones from yards. I charged $5/bag. Would take them home, spray them with bug spray to kill any critters, then sell them to the crafters at $5/bag. I was 8 at the time. My son got drafted to mow lawns for aging relatives and handed out business cards to all their neighbors. He now has regular customers, a marketing budget, and a decent savings account going because he hustled. At 13 he’s got a decent skill set, resume and drive that I know he’ll manage to get by when he’s older.

      • A most excellent money-maker!
        I made scale miniature dolls to pay for my own college. That and specialty sewing.

        The dog-poop pickup and the BBQ steam-clean service are pure genius!

        • I cleaned up and one of my best clients would pay me extra for first pick because she sold her pine cone wreaths for $300-500 each. The big wreaths took maybe 2 – 3 bags each.

          And those are genius. I honestly know people who would pay for those services and I don’t know anyone locally who provides them. Might mention them to the kiddo.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          My mother made cornhusk dolls when I was a kid. My first jobs were 1) making accessories for her dolls at 25 cents per item and 2) selling leftover doll accessories to the dollhouse store at $1.50 per item. It took me a while to catch on to the mathematical disparity here.

    • And this goes with this line in the post: Find a niche and fill it. And if you can’t find that, then clean. Make things really clean. Cleaning up messes of any kind is something a lot of people will gladly pay others to do. On a cash basis.

  16. Heh. I was looking at my to do list for Ama-Con, my household chore list, my writing list, and rememebred that I need to make those lesson revisions before August, so I won’t be trying to do it during the start-of-school frenzy. But hey! Wait a minute. I’m supposed to be lazing around all summer enjoying the pay from my ivory tower tenured job and basking in the admiration of students in my 2/2 teaching load. What the Hockystick happened?

    Life. Fair is where I go to get funnelcake and look at giant produce. I finished grad school as the job market tanked. A bit like leaving my last flying job when the pilot job market was the worst it had been since the end of the Vietnam War. Stuff happened. Work+time is what turns stuff into composted manure and roses.

  17. Work ethic is the only thing that explains how hard I work on something that is entirely optional (writing) – and is very hard, especially for me. Somehow or other I never got allowed the lazing-around thing, even with my many degrees – which led, when I was working for science, to way too many hours spent, again, doing hard things.

    I don’t understand where someone gets the idea that high pay and little work should go along with a professional job or a college degree. If so, they’ve been seriously misled.

    It just leads to a different kind of work.

    • And first you gotta work your brains out doing all that homework to get the degree in the first place; like, say, thermodynamics, the bane of my GPA (or was it girls in shorts [decades ago, pre-wife] or role playing games or should I just quote Jimmy Buffet: “…it’s my own…fault?”

  18. Side Hustle School

    While I doubt any Huns really need it the lessons are still worthwhile for little details and ideas plus some of the stories are great (chicken saddles to avoid fata molting accidents anyone).

  19. I’m working on building up my blood again (iron anemia)… so that I can think and write. Always something.

  20. I’m doing pretty well at the temp job shuffle–switching seamlessly to a different assignment in a couple of weeks, woot.

    (Though I do love this one…)

    Anyway! I’ve actually had endless opportunity to make money in art side-hustling. I had a weekly comic on a Patch site run by my old restaurant manager. I got free partial space in a sheep and wool festival booth at several shows just for helping my mother-in-law run her booth. I’ve sold random stuff I was working on to passer-by, and portraits at bars for a while.

    Aside from the last two, which weren’t very consistent, I managed to blow them all up all on my own.

    But, y’know, I know the particular issues that went into each of them now, and hope springs eternal that I’ll find a niche I can’t blow up with depression and fear of answering the phone or whatnot. Keep the day job. Don’t take commissions, you’ll plotz. Don’t sign up for an indefinite-length run of the same project, you’ll plotz.

    Anyway. Keep moving forward, as they say.

    • “FORWARD MOMENTUM”

    • SheSellsSeashells

      Yeah, Fear of Plotz is my bane. I write freelance marketing copy and do quite well at it; family members keep trying to get me to hook up with local retailers and try to get a contract with them. And I know that the *second* I get a deadline of any sort, the words will dry up. I am working on this, but I’m nowhere near functional with deadlines yet.

      • Self-knowledge is the key! Unfortunately, self-knowledge is hard-earned. :-/

        (For me, Portrait Adoption works really well–somehow, subbing a portrait for a Submitted Description doesn’t invite the brain weasels that a commission does–they can take it or leave it, no pressure. Sounds like freelance marketing might be more of the same.)

      • …er, same niche for *you*. Not honing in. 😉 (I don’t know a damn thing about ad copy….)

        • SheSellsSeashells

          Is all good. 🙂 I don’t know that much about ad copy formally, but what I DO know is that I am a human thesaurus, and if you want a breathless description of perfume that’ll make you want to bathe in the stuff, I’m your woman. 😀

  21. I hear you on the time thing. I’m trying to sell my other house and right now I have to repair the fence in several (large) sections, paint the outside of the house. Paint a few places inside the house. Replace a (special order fire) door. Patch a number of holes, and a dozen smaller things.

    So I have to drive over there every morning and work, then drive back home for the things I need to do in my normal day. Which includes finishing up the last book in a trilogy (which is now in the first re-write). So lots of work that has to be done ASAP, as well as lots of money going out the door that won’t get a return until the house sells (hopefully in a couple months). And lots of running and driving around trying to take care of things.

    In 100+ degree heat. Why can’t these things happen when it’s cooler out?
    😛

  22. Oh, in terms of thinking outside the box, perhaps: A former football player (a long snapper) with a BS in mechanical engineering works for a NASCAR racing team. See http://www.wralsportsfan.com/news_and_notes/video/16811477/.

    (And that video took forever to load for me.)

  23. It occurred to me yesterday that life being unfair is, in a way, a bedrock of Christian theology as it posits that the just died for the unjust or the sinless for the sinner.

  24. The disheartening thing is that tourist shop after tourist shop sold practically the same things (which a high ration of pseudo-folk penis and vaginas in various uses. Probably because they sell well to Germans, in chess sets, and folk scenes, all of it done in lumpy clay, of course.)

    !?!?!?!? Sarah, Sarah. Now I’ve got that chess set stuck in my imagination forever.
    Now this is what a proper (Scottish) chess set ought to look like:http://mentalfloss.com/article/70597/12-berserk-facts-about-lewis-chessmen

    • Charles, it’s worse than that, and somethings are totally weird. They had an operating room scene in pseudo-folk art clay, only all the people were penises with arms and legs. It’s something some 11 year old would consider terminally clever. It has nothing to do with local culture and I’m flabbergasted.

  25. Justice Roberts gave a little speech to his son’s middle school graduation [YGTBKM. Middle school graduation? Sheesh] and said he hoped they would suffer set-backs, be treated unfairly, bad luck, betrayals, and losses. So they would learn justice, trust, how to recover from set-backs and hardship, and would grow stronger. The address was excerpted in the WSJ’s “Notable and Quotable” bit last Saturday.

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