I have a treadmill desk and at one point I used it religiously four to five hours a day.  Then I started having asthma attacks, and had to stop using it.  Now it feels strange, and I have trouble actually thinking to write on it.

But it’s all a matter of habit.

There are habits that come with twenty years in the traditional publishing sphere.  Mostly habits of stress and fear.

Because once the book leaves your hands you’re completely at the mercy of the publishing house, and because whatever the results of what they do will be imputed to you, you become used to fear.  Constant, pit of the stomach fear.

I learned this lesson early when a series in which book had earned out was yet deemed to have “failed” (one wonders what the house had intended for it to do.  One also wonders about what lies were told in expense reports, and whether much publicity was ascribed to the poor books, who got their ONLY publicity from me (which pretty much ate the first two advances)) so badly that no other house would touch me.

It’s not what you do. It’s not anything you can control. But your career could fail utterly at any moment due to even mere inatention (not even malice) of someone at the publishing house. Or you know, not even that, they could just “deem” you to have failed according to standards never communicated.

That was five years into my career.  It’s been another fifteen now.

Sometime around 2005 (I think) when actually the issue was hypothyroidism, I was having so much trouble concentrating, sleeping, motivating myself, or really giving a hang about whether I got out of bed in the morning, that I bought a book on overcoming burnout.

This was before I went mostly electronic. Electronic is good.  I can just return the stupid ones.  This book’s first chapter said that burnout was composed of overwork and lack of control.  Without the lack of control you don’t get the burnout.  So, first they advised changing companies, and going to one where you had more control.

If you’re a traditionally published author, what company you work for is ALSO NOT under your control.  So I walled the book.  And I kept on.

Fear of the other shoe falling — an invisible shoe falling from an unknowable height — does burn you out, though, even if I had something organic wrong with me.  Over time, slowly, it grinds at you.

For me the main symptom was my imagination going “arid.” (I find it weird of all the people I described it to, John Ringo is the only one who got exactly what I meant by arid.)

It’s not gone.  And you can still write carefully pre-scripted books.

It’s just if you’re a writer like me, you’re used to your bare bones plot being enriched by “grace notes.”  Characters who become unexpectedly multi-faceted.  Subplots that grow around who the characters are and what they want and which emphasize, contrast or otherwise make the main plot better. It’s… for those of you who’ve never written a novel, kind of like tasting the soup you made from recipe and going “Oh, just a touch of mint (or thyme or rosemary.) would make this awesome.”  You can still make soup without it, it’s just not as flavorful.  Just like you can grow crops in a parched land, but they will be stunted, barely surviving.  (Hence arid.)

It wasn’t even deadline stress.  It was just stress.  Each new book was like a hostage delivered to the hands of fate, and after a while it was hard to create new hostages.

So, a year ago I decided from now on I’ll be mostly indie.  Why aren’t the books pouring out?

First, of course, there is the fact that the last year has been fraught not just with worries, but with things that “need to be done right the frack now” so I end up being a construction worker (or furniture refinisher) for 17 hours a day, which even if I had energy to write, leaves no time for it.  But that’s minor-ish. I’m finishing the “last big to do.” Left is re-flooring two rooms and then nothing more till Spring. It would be wunderbar to have made enough money from indie by Spring that I can actually pay someone else to destroy their knees to do the rest of the house.

Second … second is something more insidious.

Humans are immensely adaptable creatures.  We adapt to everything, even things that are bad for us. Older son tells me that if you are overweight too long, or have high blood pressure too long, or any other thing like that, your body “remodels”.  I.e. it develops structures to support the incredibly unhealthy thing you’re doing and being.  Some of these remodels are worse than the thing itself.

I’ve learned to associate finishing novels with pain. So my thoughts of publishing come with flinching away from pain.

There is only one way to fix that. Yes, you’re right losing weight. :D.  No, that’s just the peculiar obsession of my past PCP. Seriously, you could crawl in with pneumonia and he’d tell you it was because you’d gained ten pounds. Is it weird that I’m finally losing weight under a physician who thinks my weight goals are crazy.  (They probably are.  I was unhealthily thin when young.)

Habits can be superseded by new habits, subconscious expectations by new expectations.  I’ve promised myself that publishing a book — just publishing — will lead to our going away for a weekend of writing (yes, I know that sounds funny, but Dan and I love our writing weekends.  We write and talk story, and take interesting walks, and do fun research.)  That way, regardless of how the book does, I’ll rush to finish with an expectation of something fun.  Yes, it will be tight.  But hopefully only for the first few books.

But habits are hard things to break. Even those that are counterproductive and you know they are.

For instance, I wrote for so long while listening with most of my attention for the sounds of kids in the floor below (when the noise stopped it was a problem) that for years after they entered high school and were more or less self-sufficient and trusted (at least not to water the piano, draw an entire landscape on their sleeping brother’s back, pull dressers down on themselves, build elaborate structures that obstruct their ability to leave the bedroom or other such adventures) I couldn’t settle to write.  Took me years to figure out that the problem was I was listening for sounds of little kids and panicking wen I didn’t hear them. (Silence was always bad.)

So, can I learn to live without the fear? the overhanging the stress? the listening for the other shoe to drop?

I’m going to try.

For most of the last twenty years I’ve been on a treadmill.  Movement was forced by movements I had no power over.  Series started and were declared dead at seemingly random. Proposals were written and the least likely was bought. Dates were set not by me.  In the middle of the next book, revisions would come for a book I finished over a year ago, and I had to wrench myself from one and into the other.  I’m not whining, that’s just the way the business worked.  But it’s hard when you write in as many different times and series as I do.

So… I need to learn to step down and write while standing on a firm surface (not physically. There I need to train to the treadmill again.  Ah, the irony.)

I need to figure out the best way to do things, and do them.  I need to set deadlines.  I need to reward myself for doing what I should (which is hardest of all. The reward thing.  I’m just not used to them.)

Habits. The problem is that we’re not creatures of will, we’re not creatures of mind and spirit.  We’re creatures of mind and body, and the physical body (even parts of the brain) run on habits which are hellishly hard to change.

But it will be done, because I’m a creature of mind and spirit too.

This analyzing what is holding me back is hard, and I don’t want to do it.  It’s still better than the treadmill.

And so it will be learned, and it will be done.  It is being done as we speak.  Because habits can be changed, and are not in charge of me.

I’ll stand or fail on my own.




153 thoughts on “Treadmill

  1. Sweetie, you’re already on the right path.
    I’m seeing more and more PJ articles with your byline, and they always get a flood of comments, a sure sign you’re having an impact.
    And I’ve heard a rumor that if you invoice them they will actually pay you a little something.
    You’re cleaning up old works you’ve gotten the rights to back, and publishing collections of your short stories. All those take are a bit of fluff and buff, a killer cover, and maybe a decent copy edit. I know someone who works cheap.
    And another rumor’s been going around about a new series, perhaps one with fire breathing winged lizards?
    Get the boys situated, achieve a livable sustainable level of clean, and start writing your ever loving ass off, please and thank you.

    1. I agree with Lar, you’re already on the right track, you just have to keep going FORWARD! Habits are hard to break, for a lot of reasons. Hang in, hang on and keep going forward!!!

    2. Yeah, but what a horribly nasty web site, with Flash and pop-ups and nearly-invisible text and stupid “click for more” buttons and Disqus, which is a deal-breaker all on its own.

      Surely someone with a non-demented web site could pay Sarah for her work… how many people click on PJM, see that mess, and click away? I’m sure it’s far more than the ones who was willing to jump through the hoops to actually read a story, then jump through more, including subscribing to a third party service, to reply to something…

    1. I hear she works for GoldPort Press now. But man, have you heard what their corporate structure is like? And the editor, Greebo, is so catty!

        1. Is Greebo still terrified of his long-lost sibling? Perhaps you could employ her as a bodyguard so you can occasionally sleep late. 😛

          Speaking of, did she ever get a name? I’m still thinking of her as Greebo’s Bane.

          1. She always had a name. She was a rescue eight years ago. I got called to get this tiny kitten (2 weeks) with a massive eye infection that mother cat had abandoned.
            We gave her away, but last year her owner became unable to keep her, so she was returned.
            She was named in the car (I was driving, son was cuddling her.) Son had just read Operation Chaos so she’s called Valeria Victrix.
            She is absolutely enamored of husband, whose supervisor she is. She herds him into his office. She has a habit of yelling at him which earned her the nickname Missy Bitchy.
            Note that of all the people in the household, including sons and SOs when they visit, I’m the only one she’s deathly afraid of. Me! who bottle nursed her and carried her in my bra for weeks, after vet said we’d never raise her because she was too young and the infection too massive.

  2. I’m trying to re-program as well. Hard as heck. The first thing I’ve been working on is attitude. When I write, I am now playing. 🙂

  3. I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter “borrowing Sarah’s shocked face”, so she’s definitely making waves.

    1. Is that why Sarah sometimes says “My shocked face, let me find it so I can show it to you”, because someone borrowed it and didn’t put it back?

        1. Nah – publish a 3D-printer file. Then anyone who needs Sarah’s Shocked Face can print one out at home, and the .gov can’t say anything about it.

        1. Just one more reason to @getongab. Twitter tried to zorch anything from a non/anti Marxist candidate in Brazil. Gab now has Portugese support, go figure.

  4. Sarah, if nothing else you can reward yourself by gloating at the injury your success will do to traditional publishing. You’re riding the leading edge of the New Self-Published World.

    1. Small correction, successful indie writers injure trad pub every bit as much as the average joe with a nice home and steady job injures that drug and booze addled homeless person lying on the sidewalk.
      Or to be clear, indie success does not come at the expense of the current massive failures in trad pub, that they did their own selves.

      1. Except that trad pub is the lazy guy who rakes leaves and mows lawns — sloppily and slowly, but was the only guy who would do them at all. A successful indie writer is taking his livelihood away.

        1. So, free market vs captive market.
          See, this is what the left wants, a captive market where what they have to offer is the only choice.
          As for the lazy lawn service, or trad pub for that matter, not a damn thing keeping them from upping their game and providing quality service, except their own arrogance and feelings of entitlement.

  5. I am starting to seriously suspect that the ignorant and incompetent among the medical profession have latched on to “You have to lose weight / it’s because you’re fat” with such near-religious fervor because it takes the onus of understanding and fixing off the physician, and puts it on the patient.

    After all, you don’t have to go past your easy checklist and find a cause, nor effect a cure, if you can blame the stars, the balance of humours, or the adipose tissue in the body.

    Meanwhile, the good docs will say “You have symptoms V,Y, & Z. I suspect it’s problem X, which has no easy cure, because I can’t find anything for the alternatives of R,T, U, and Q in the diagnostics we’ve run. X is exacerbated by your extra weight. As such, losing weight will reduce symptoms, but not fix the problem.”

    1. Weight is in an odd place right now in American culture. On the one hand, we’ve got officialdom screaming at us that we’re all horribly “obese” (and the definition of that seems to include slimmer and slimmer people every year). Meanwhile, we’re also told that we’re not supposed to “fatshame” people for being overweight.


      1. I wanted to reach out and thump the writer of an article at HuffPo over “fat shaming.” Yes, we should not shun people who are overweight. Yes, society OTOH, since severe excess weight leads to all sorts of medical problems and makes others far worse, being 300 pounds over weight is indeed a medical problem. (And speaking as someone who used to work med-evac, it makes treating the person, or just transporting them, horribly difficult and could kill them that way.)

        1. I think I saw that article. Either that, or a similarly stupid one at the Gruniad. The poor brainwashed idiot had decided that fat was no different than skin colour, and was hectoring us about how it made no difference to people, and didn’t impact them in any way?

          About the time she started claiming that fat did not impact your medical health at all, I had to go find where I’d rolled my eyes clean out of my skull before the cats batted them under the couch!

        2. I’m wondering how bad the effect of that #ShoutYourSTD has been, along with the growing advocacy that people with STDs were within their rights to not declare that they had some kind of STD, because doing so ‘lead to discrimination from the non-infected’ and that people with STDs had the right to sex just the same as someone who wasn’t infected…

              1. yeah, \don’t need to disclose’ creates lawsuits, especially if its HIV. There have been criminal charges filed against people who ‘didn’t need to disclose’ HIV.

                1. I don’t disagree with you; I thought that it was insane. There was the rationalization that it was ‘supposed’ to be applied ‘only’ to diseases that weren’t y’know… fatal like AIDs…

                  And I’d not be surprised if there were rationalizations that even AIDs infected shouldn’t have to disclose, because ‘it’s not as if it’s not mostly treatable now.’

                  1. I have literally seen someone post that homosexuals should be able to give blood because who cares if they give you AIDS, now that we have drugs.

                2. My marriage vows included monogamy, so I’m not tremendously concerned with infected freaks running around passing their diseases on… but the poor yahoos who are doing the dating thing… I imagine the RealDoll stuff looks even better.

            1. Remember that in California, giving someone a straw is a felony, but giving someone AIDS is a misdemeanor.

      2. I think they tend to cause each other, or at least feed into eachother– when it gets to the point where a woman’s monthly cycle is shutting down because she doesn’t have enough bodyfat to support it, and she’s still “obese,” we’ve hit crazy town; this makes it really hard to draw a distinction between “normal,” “a bit chubby,” and “holy crud dude you are FAT!”

        They go full nuke with fat on folks who aren’t even chubby, so there’s nothing left; it’s like “everything is LiterallyHitler(tm)” thing.

        1. A bit chubby lives longer than “healthy” weight. You suffer more heart disease but survive infection better.

          1. I remember when that lady did the mortality study that looked at nothing but BMI– and found that “over-weight” was the healthiest, with “prime” and “obese” tied. Mostly because they refused to fund any further studies.

      3. I am more and more of the opinion that at least half the hysteria over obesity is because the standards of beauty are shifting (again) and the Beautiful People are having a hissy about it.

        Also “Obesity Epidemic”? Do these morons think fat is contagious?

        1. By official CDC terminology, it’s a “disease.”

          Back in biology class ages ago, we were taught that diseases came from bacteria or viruses. But now, arteriosclerosis, compound fractures, and being punched in the face because you won’t shut up are all “disease.”

          Ooo-kaay. Eventually the remains of the English language will be so dumbed-down we’ll be reduced to the single word “muh”, which will mean anything we want it to mean, no more and no less…

          1. Language changes, or it calcifies.


            And I suffer from early onset geezerhood, so I’ve been grousing about the changes for a good while now.

            I realized I was slipping into geezerhood in my 30’s, when I noticed that my thoughts on seeing a ripe teeniebopper ripple past me in the mall were “Yeah, but she’d want to talk after, and she’s got nothing to say that won’t fit on a t-shirt.”

      4. Well, the medical men need SOMETHING to take the place of smoking. It used to be that everything wrong with a patient was because he or she smoked, but that only applies to a fifth of the population now, instead of over half.

        In the mid 1970’s my Father was having shortness of breath after eating. The doctors were SO SURE it was because he smoked that it took until he had nearly broken a lung-capacity testing device (he grew up in Denver) for anyone to ask HOW MUCH he smoked.

        Five cigarettes a day. Five. He didn’t want more.

        He had congestive heart disease, and was soon having the first of two heart bypass operations.

        He didn’t quit smoking until 14 or so years later, when a doctor associated with his second operation told him “Forget about cancer and how smoking is supposed to affect heart health. The difference five a day makes is too small to measure. But you are introducing carbon monoxide into a circulatory system that has enough problems.”

        Father quit that day.

        But they DO have their fads. I think ADD (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is a real thing. I also think it became a handy excuse for drugging little boys so they wouldn’t act like little boys.

        My Lady IS gluten intolerant. It’s a major source of annoyance to her. But many people who say they are are hypocondriacs at best.

        1. But they DO have their fads. I think ADD (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is a real thing. I also think it became a handy excuse for drugging little boys so they wouldn’t act like little boys.

          It’s also a disability that will get the single mother a payment, and doctors figure it doesn’t hurt anything.


          A friend was diagnosed gluten intolerant about seven years ago.

          This spring a doctor went “Hey… I just noticed there isn’t actually any test on here for your diagnosis. Mind if I run the actual test?”

          Turns out she isn’t.

          She is/was heavy, because she has a spinal problem, but carbs aren’t the reason and bread definitely isn’t.

          I’m still guessing if the doctor screwed it up, diagnosed it because it’s cool, or was doing it as a stealth get-them-to-eat-fewer-carbs trick. Navy doctors, so they’re all possible.

          1. Did you ever see the old Jerry Lewis movie, “The Disorderly Orderly”? One scene, Jerry is at a table with a bunch of elderly women who are discussing their “female problems” in as much detail as you could get away with in the 1960s. Jerry is standing there with his eyes and legs crossed, feeling every symptom himself… I’m *that* kind of hypochondriac.

            So it really annoys me that I’ve had to become an “informed consumer” of medical care, and demand copies of all tests and the doctors’ interpretations of same, because that the doctors have told me, vs. what the papers say, are often so different I wonder about their recordkeeping and competence.

            Then there’s “failure to follow up.” Like when I had a heart attack, and we went through all the usual commotion, and after being home for a few weeks I made a new appointment and asked the doctor, “shouldn’t we be doing something about this?” Huge surprise. So many specialists involved, nobody in particular felt it was their job to follow up…

            1. The follow up problem stems, I think, from the ever increasing load of documentation doctors are required to have, for the government and insurance. It eats at their time, and at their energy,mamd so they miss things, and some pinhead in Congress or some GS drone anxious to multiply subordinates things up more paperwork. Eventually, the stacks of paper will collapse and so will civilization.

        2. My wife is gluten-allergic, while trial and error has shown me that I’m gluten intolerant. (After the umpteenth time of the GI system opening the floodgates at both ends, a chunk of careful detective work showed the culprit. Took a while to pin down, too. Sigh.)

          $SPOUSE comes by it honestly; her family is prone to celiac disease. Mine was more gradual, but at one time I ate a lot of bread. The sensitivity eventually grew to the point where the handmade sauces at the taqueria can hit hard; the tricky part is each sous-chef does it differently.

            1. My wife is sufficiently sensitive that she cannot tolerate ‘normal’ soy sauce, since it’s made of wheat. Her niece is full-blown celiac, with a fair amount of damage before she was diagnosed.

              SIL has an infuriating story about the pediatrician who bungled. The damfool was going to bring in Child Services because the girl wasn’t growing. No, it was just the food not getting absorbed. After a proper diagnosis, he said “I’ll have to learn about celiac disease.” SIL’s reply: “Not for us, you don’t.” He was lucky, could have had a malpractice complaint. IMHO, he should have.

              1. The one absolute blessing of the entire annoying “gluten free” fad, is that it’s made life much easier for friends who have Celiac, and vastly expanded their choices. See also: keto.

                I fully expected “gluten free” to become as over and done with as the peanut allergy scare, or fat-free, but it’s stuck around with surprising power. Then again, cutting out wheat also cuts out a lot of carbs, and the low-carb diet does many bodies good. So perhaps it’s helping plenty of people for all the wrong reasons?

                1. “I fully expected “gluten free” to become as over and done with as the peanut allergy scare, or fat-free, but it’s stuck around with surprising power. Then again, cutting out wheat also cuts out a lot of carbs, and the low-carb diet does many bodies good. So perhaps it’s helping plenty of people for all the wrong reasons?”

                  Keto is one of the diets recommended for Diabetics & Reactive Hypoglycemia (RH), or at least a sliding variety of it. Those with RH problems can slide too far into the Hypoglycemia if they don’t keep their blood sugar up, but if they let it go too high (carbs a culprit, not just sugars, real ones or not), then their natural insulin fights back (with a vengeance).

                  Ask a physician “How fast should your glucose numbers drop after a meal?” Their answer for diabetics is “If glucose is over 200, it needs to be below 140, within 2 hours of eating.” Someone with RH answer – “That is not a problem, try below 140, in less than an hour, & below 100 in less than 2, & can have instances of 200 to below 90, in an hour.” Not fun. Plus you never know what is going to trigger this (other than real high sugar content). FYI. Those with RH typically test “normal” after fasting. Low side, but still normal.

                  1. I’ve read (take with a grain of salt) that gluten intolerance spiked when artisanal bread (made with high-gluten wheat flour for crunch) became popular.

                    I know it was a sensitizing process for me. My acceptable dosage was a lot higher years ago than now. OTOH, I can walk through the bread aisle at the store without having difficulty. Unlike my wife. Yikes.

                    1. I suspect there are other factors at work, and if your sensitivity coincided with the rise (Hah!) of Artisanal bread popularity, it was probably just that – coincidence.

                      All “Bread Flour” is high-gluten, because that is what gives the dough the plasticity to expand as the yeast generates carbon dioxide, without rupturing, and gives the interior of the bread its texture. “Crunch” is not really related to high gluten so much as it is other ingredients in the flour, or else basting the bread with something such as butter, egg wash, or baking soda wash at some point prior to removing it from the oven.

                    2. My gluten adventures ususually skipped artisanal bread. I don’t recall the source, but I did recall hearing about higher gluten flours (seminola, if memory serves) getting used. As I said, take it with a grain of salt, or a pound of skepticism.

                    3. Just so long as he didn’t try to make a girlfriend out of it. Master Semolina had some unpleasant twists for the happy couple.

    2. It’s also generally a safe bet that they CAN’T lose the weight, at least not enough to get down into the crazy low “healthy” BMI, so you never have to do more than charge them for showing up.

      1. And the doctors who do know what to do can’t tell you, for fear of malpractice suits, especially if they’re part of a clinic, because it’s all not accepted medical practice yet. With my two doctors, they know me and trust me enough to nod or even whisper “yeah” when I tell them what I’m doing.

        Before all the recent nutritional/fasting info, I’d pretty much given up on losing weight, and was just trying to be healthy. All years of starving got me was a crappy metabolism, no energy, constant hunger, and slow weight gain.

    3. The irony is that they tell you your ideal weight is below the weight at which, statistically, you are least likely to die.

      1. I function on the assumption that any dietary advice put out by the government is at lesst five years out of date, and probably dead wrong in any case.

    4. I’m convinced that weight loss would be a fruitful field for research, if there were resources to pursue it. The problem being that between the trick-food diet schemes and the sanctimonious self-righteousness of the naturally thin, there’s not much available.

      But if you DID want to pursue it, I’d look at the following:
      1. Gut microbiome and changes thereto.
      2. Effects of antibiotics in the meat supply. We feed food animals antibiotics to fatten them up, then eat the meat. Does this cause us to grow fat?
      3. How is hunger perceived? Do people with weight problems feel hunger differently? I know that when I’m hungry, it hurts. Hard to ask people to live in constant hunger-pain when they are surrounded by food.
      4. Effects of hunger on mood. Some people get angry. Others get depressed. Hard to ask people to live in a sour mood when they are surrounded by food.

      1. Effects of antibiotics in the meat supply. We feed food animals antibiotics to fatten them up, then eat the meat. Does this cause us to grow fat?

        Ignoring dosage and metabolizing issues, there’s a delay time between when an animal can be treated with antibiotics and when they can be slaughtered. IIRC, it was investigated because of worries about side-effects.

      2. What I’d like to do is just record mothers’ weight gain during pregnancy– just flat record it.

        I’d bet that those fat mothers who have fat kids did not gain as much as the fat mothers of normal kids.

        1. Uff. I had very little pregnancy weight gain, but then, I started off heavier than ideal and then…. GD resulted in abruptly cutting out a lot of sugar about the time it would’ve picked up. Well, I was never starving myself, and hopefully she’ll be fine.

          1. On Princess I started to try to stick to the weight guidlines…then realized it wasn’t happening with healthy eating, I would have to stop eating, frankly eat less than I did during non-pregnancy. Then I suddenly remembered my mom mentioning how she’d eaten “sensibly” and been starving her whole pregnancy, and how her mom’s lettuce and cottage cheese had allowed her to gain only ten or fifteen pounds when pregnant although a friend had managed to GAIN NOTHING…..

            Turned out I had really strange weigh patterns, losing like 10 pounds in the first two months, leveling out when I should be gaining and then gaining like crazy, unrelated to what I eat. Our last doctor pointed out he’d only seen one or two pregnancies where weight gain and growth was actually “normal.”

            GD probably keeps it from being detected as starvation from the kid’s side, since they’re still getting the sugar increase.

      3. There has been some study. Obese people have addicted brain chemistry: they anticipate greater pleasure from food than normal weight people, and they get less actual pleasure.

        1. For what it’s worth, Overeaters Anonymous tends to be part of the path for a lot of other addictive personality types. (IMHO, it’s the hardest to break, too.)

          I’ve seen the doughnut table at an AA meeting when an OA wasn’t available. Nope. Not going there.

                  1. 300 miles, and Portland. That’s a nope. Online sounds attractive. Grampa Pete was Danish, so the holiday berries might have some cranberry, but lingonberry was a staple for dinner.

                    I found a jar once at a Safeway in San Jose (two highly improbable events, I think), about 30 years ago. Hmm, lingonberry with some Vernor’s to wash it down. My taste buds would revert to 8 years old. 🙂

                  1. Or Amazon …
                    In the next four or five months, we will have an Ikea opening in San Antonio! Yay! No longer have to make the drive to Round Rock for frozen Swedish meatballs and jars of lingonberry sauce!
                    Alas – the traffic at the intersection where they are opening the store will be horrific, and the numbers of smugnerati will go off the charts …

                    1. yeah, nearest one to me is in Woodbridge, will be going past it tomorrow (‘nother trip to Udvar-Hazy)

      4. I lost a bunch of weight after a) significantly mitigating the chronic pain that was inspiring the desire to comfort eat b) noticing that the weight gain was a bit much, and making an effort to control portion size.

      5. Gut microbiome and changes thereto.

        Especially with age.

        They are just now figuring out how much the gut biome is in charge of things, and how random antibiotic treatments over a lifetime can screw things up in there.

        I’d also look into how the biome adapts to “sugar-free” foods, high sucrose corn syrup, and other things that would have been totally foreign to human evolution.

    5. I just found an article about a woman who went into the doctors complaining of weight gain (and trouble breathing, and other issues) and they told her to lose weight—and they just removed a 50 pound ovarian cyst. The accompanying picture was appalling—the assistant was cradling it in both arms and it looked like a lamb-sized haggis. Years this woman spent going in to doctors who dismissed her.

      Anyway. I’m of the (completely not peer-reviewed) opinion that most unhealthy weight gain follows health issues rather than leading it. For me, I had some unexpected weight gain last year that turned out to be the result of an iron deficiency (and accompanying exhaustion and high blood pressure.) Haven’t lost the weight, but I figure I’m over forty, and we’re treating the actual problem, so it’s fine. (Not a huge weight gain, either. Just noticeable for someone whose weight remains fairly consistent.)

      1. My pants were getting tight before my hysterectomy: two fibroids. They were measured on the ultrasound at 3 cm and 5cm, but when they came out, the surgeon described them as the size of a baseball and a grapefruit.

        And my pants fit.

        1. Right. It seems like every time I see someone who is truly overweight, there’s a problem that went undiagnosed for some time while they got berated. Insulin resistance (not diabetes but related), celiac disease, a blood clotting disorder (the one with that got told how lucky she was because “we usually discover this one post-mortem”), even something oddball like persistent vertigo. I mean, I’ve seen people who will freely admit that they turn to food for comfort and don’t exercise, but almost everyone seems to have a legitimate story, and I wish doctors would get over the “lose weight first, then talk to me” mentality.

          1. My “favorite” is really active people whose knees are bugging them– so they avoid using them, which makes them gain weight, which the doctors then howl “you wouldn’t need a knee replacement if you weren’t so heavy!”

            Yes, living on cottage cheese and lettuce like my grandma in the 50s and 60s would TOTALLY undo the damage her daughter, the track star, did to her knees.

            1. Well, there is the little factor that they have to drop not only the activity, but the calories they ate to feed it.

              1. Except you have no idea of the actual nutritional value or calories in the things you eat.

                The usual figures, including the ones put on packages by law, have no relation to, say, human biology.

                Back when I was young and innocent I thought the problem was the testing; maybe they fed a group of lab mice Chocolote Coverted Sugar Bombs for a month, then measured the difference with a control group, ignoring that there might be differences between the species.

                Nope, with the modern system, they just estimate the “heating value” of the different chemical constituents of a food; they don’t even have to test it. So the calorie count of sawdust or motor oil is probably right on up there. Great if you’re heating your barn, not useful information for dieting.

                And, just for kicks – that FDA calorie label on the package? – there’s so much leeway there, your estimated count just got another multiplier…

                1. Eh, it gives you a loose figure that I have found useful enough. The error is probably fairly consistent.

                2. Yeah, but heating value is probably the best cheap measurement, and we’ve been doing it that way for a long time, so its not like people are confused because we’ve switched measurement systems.

                  IIRC, if you look at the end products for the energy process, we are basically looking at oxidizing to CO2 and maybe H20, essentially the same as combustion. Yeah, sure, the recoverable energy is much lower, because of entropy taking its cut of all those intermediate processes. Yeah, sure, the loss will be different from substance to substance. The alternatives are either estimation from what is currently known about metabolism, or some process of measurement that will have inaccuracies because of differences in individual human digestion, respiration, and metabolism.

                  Work out from a human body strikes me as also having some measurement issues.

            2. or in my case,legs damaged from in the military, prescribed to walk with a cane as necessary, but the VA insists there is ‘nothing disabling with my legs’- but I apparently needed knee surgery a decade ago, and now need replacement, but i am ‘too heavy’

              1. > replacement

                The third orthopod I went to suggested “long walks to lose weight.”

                I told him if I could walk, I wouldn’t be talking to him.

                The “knee replacement” thing is brutally primitive and invasive. Technology has existed for nearly two decades to avoid the whole thing – high resolution imaging to map the bone ends, mill or print stainless steel caps, then laparoscopically cap the bone ends and slide the plastic wear piece in between them before closing. Outpatient-level surgery.

                Nobody wants to hear about that, no-no-no. Knee replacement is a big industry, that’s what the orthopods know how to do, that’s what their insurance companies know the risks for, and they’re not in the least interested in a better system. And certainly not the AMA, whose main purpose seems to be to block any medical progress.

                I could pay for high resolution imaging out of my pocket, and I own the equipment it would take to make the bits for a new joint. But I’d have to go out of the country to find a doctor that would do the procedure.

                1. You lost me at stainless steel. Fortunately, when I needed a post to reinforce a crown, the dental surgeon was able to use carbon fiber. Stainless and my bones and skin are not compatible. (Nickle, actually. I had to be careful about pocket change in the summer when I’d actually need change every day.)

            3. Yep. Before any of the kids get cleared to do sports, we have to figure out whether they inherited my knees or my husband’s. (Less tricky than you might think; his knees were basically on “too tight”, which gave him amazing leverage but which wore holes in the cartilage.)

      2. I think about a year ago I read a story about a man who had something similar. Obviously, it wasn’t an ovarian cyst in his case (cue screeches from the trans crowd). My recollection is that it was a tumor that was basically giving him a beer belly, and that weighed almost 40 pounds.

      3. I’m right at the age when thyroid problems (lack of) shows up in the maternal line. I still need to cut back on sweets, though.

    6. The orthopedic surgeon who worked on my leg after I was run over by a car seemed more concerned about my weight than the compound fracture I was paying him to deal with.

      Funny how so many people who are worried about my weight are carrying twenty or thirty pounds of spare tire that would be trivial to dispose of.

  6. “Silence was always bad” – I don’t have kids, but I have pets, and that used to be the case with them, too. Now they’re all very old, and silence means they’re just having a nap.

    And yeah, I’ve learned the hard way how much of my writing productivity is related to all the other structured tasks I had to work around – the more I had, the more productive I seemed to be. Now I actually have time, but it’s all new and strange, and it’s pulling teeth to get anything done.

    I’m going to try NaNoWriMo out this year, maybe that will help.

      1. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is as a basis for a system of government is looking increasingly attractive these days.

                1. As J.Y. said apropos of the RMS Titanic commemorative cruises (which yes, took you to the site of the iceberg encounter on the centennial date, “There’s tempting fate and there’s ringing her doorbell, tossing a tomato at her, and yelling ‘neener neener’ as you start to run.”

  7. One of those endless professional military education classes that I had to take, back in the day – informed me that stress, the kind of stress that killed and destroyed, was a situation in which great responsibility but NO control landed on a person.
    Which was exactly what occurred in my military specialty: no real control over the varying circumstances of the assignment — but OMG, would you be dinged when stuff went sideways!
    Along about 1990, I realized that every det chief/station NCOIC I had ever worked for had cracked up in some interesting and unusual manner. Serious alcoholism, serial marriages, stupid impulses (like fibbing on the expenses for a TDY, against the advice of other people on the same TDY!), and attempted suicide. (Yeah, I was there and present and responsible for picking up the pieces in the unit after both of the above.) I looked around after all that, and concluded – yeah, I didn’t want to be part of that game any more. Finished out the career doing anything else than my original AFSC.
    Responsibility and no control – an actual and a soul-killer.

    1. “It’s this devil’s distinction between being in charge and being in control. I’m in charge. You’re in control.”

      –Lord Vorkosigan to a sort-of terrorist

    2. I’ve seen this on various walls, including my mother’s – who would never say the words aloud, of course.
      It’s not my place to run the train
      The whistle I can’t blow.

      It’s not my place to say how far
      The train’s allowed to go.

      It’s not my place to shoot off steam
      Nor even clang the bell.

      But let the damn thing jump the track
      And see who catches hell.

  8. CeliaHayes – “Responsibility and no control – an actual and a soul-killer.” Made me realize why dear friend cannot get out of an abusive relationship. (And makes me even more grateful for having had such a wonderful spouse.) Looking forward to ever more Hoyt (and others) books as time goes by. You all have no idea how much help your comments and thoughts have been this past year. Thanks!

  9. There is no end to Liberal Privilege. Their tactics are rooted in the union thuggery of the last 100 years and in Jim Crow and the KKK before that.

    Demand an End to Liberal Privilege
    By Sarah Hoyt
    First of all, before I start this, let me say I disagree with most of the usages of the word “privilege.”

    The left refers to people of “privileged background” for instance, when what they really mean is “rich” or, these days, “middle class and with parents who insisted on education.”

    I suppose this makes some sense in the context of a leftist world view, but it makes no sense in reality.

    You see, privilege means “private law.” In terms of the past, noblemen were privileged because the law either didn’t apply to them (at all) or they had special laws that applied to them. For instance, in many jurisdictions, noblemen were exempt from the capital penalty. In most “clergy” were exempt from the death penalty. And the benefit of clergy would be given to anyone who could read and write. That was privilege. Private law. “The laws don’t apply to us, and you can’t make us obey them” if you prefer. …

    1. The laws don’t apply to them?

      That sounds *exactly* like how liberals behave, as opposed to what they say…

      1. *channels inner Prog* Our motives are pure and our cause is just so the laws of men do not bind us! *horks hairball toward SanPortDC*

      2. For some reason SJW/NPC’s project. “You colluded with Russia to ruin the election”…”The Koch Bros. are ruining the world by throwing their money into various vaguely conservative causes” and on and on. It’s not clear to me if they are disingenuous, stupid, hypocritical, oblivious or some noxious combination of the four. Some days its like they’re a 3rd rate villain in a Republic Serial spewing a monologue at the trapped hero and heroine. Other days its like they’re a mentally deranged person unable to keep their inner monologue inner.

        1. When the “Russia did it!” nonsense started up, I kept saying, “The 80s called. They want their foreign policy back.” Not that anyone listened.

      3. In ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, a prosecutor brought Bullwinkle up on charges. The judge (played by Whoopi Goldberg) tongue-lashes him thoroughly, reminding him of the citation in the California law code that clearly states celebrities are above the law.

        A rare example of liberal self-awareness…

  10. > Is it weird that I’m finally losing weight under a physician who thinks
    > my weight goals are crazy. (They probably are. I was unhealthily
    > thin when young.)

    You mean now that your thyroid problem is being treated?

    Yeah, that IS weird.

    1. Yes. But what I find funny is she thinks my wanting to lose 80 lbs more is insane and I absolutely shouldn’t do it. She made me revise it to 50 though she’s okay if I lose 65.

      1. Is that “what I weighed when I got married?” Does she think you’re going to lose it all tomorrow or something?

        I’m holding steady at 10 pounds down. This makes me happy. Now I need to figure out how to do another step and another 10 pounds.

        1. Yep. Losing 85 lbs would put me at what I weighed when I got married.
          No. She says that 128 lbs is way too thin for my frame. This is consistent with sons being convinced I was anorexic.
          Truth be told I didn’t eat and ran everywhere.
          She also says when entering late middle age 10 to 15lbs extra is a good thing.

  11. The way you described the all responsibility and lack of control with traditional publishing sounds a hella lot like academic writing. You research, write, rewrite, present, rewrite, present, rewrite, send out to journal. Wait 2-3 months for reviewers to return comments. Get comments back…many times the equivalent of “well, you didn’t cite ME so it’s a terrible article.” Or “This is not what I would have concluded, so you suck.” Thank you for putting words what I’ve been staring at without recognizing for the last few years. And, thanks to you and this group for inspiring me to start my own (waaaay more fun!) writing.I thought reading in these worlds was fun….running around in them while they’re being created is an absolute blast!

    1. *faint piping up*

      You know, if you wrote some academic stuff, and didn’t end up tying it up otherwise… you could always Kindle it….

      Folks are usually willing to toss out a buck or two for “hey, this looks interesting” type stuff, and if it’s already written…..

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