This is not a post about writing (except insofar as it is my work.) even if it seems to be so at first.

Over the last twenty years I’ve mentored maybe 30 people. Now the quality of mentoring went to heck 10 years ago, because of life. But usually I try to read at least a few pieces by people I mentor, and try to figure out what is holding them back. Because that’s what mentors do.

When I was younger and took raw newbies, one of the hardest things to get them to see — and something that drove me nuts because I struggled with it myself, back in pre-history — is that you can’t have character in solitude, aside and apart from plot.

Sure, I said I get characters for free — a lot of newbies do — but that means I know who they are, how they talk, their strengths and weaknesses; their fears; their sore spots.

That’s great so long as I want to have imaginary friends I take out when I’m alone to play with. But if I’m writing a book with these characters, I have to give them something to do.

What I first wrote (though perhaps not that bad, because ADD, and I bore easily) and what these people are writing is this: Peter the Paladin gets up in the morning and shaves. Then he exercises his horse, goes for a walk where people cheer him for his outstanding courage. Comes home where his wife tells him she loves his unwavering morals. Goes to the palace to get a commendation for his bravery.

Well, good for Peter, but I was yawning while his wife was praising. And that’s not in any way a story. And why are all these people saying things for which there is no evidence whatsoever?

Because, of course, for Peter to prove he’s a Paladin, and to make him interesting at all, he must do the work of a paladin. He must get up off his exquisite chair given to him by Sir Grateful in gratitude for saving his daughter from the Dread Dragon and do something to prove he still deserves the chair. Or at least we must see him fighting the dread dragon.

Okay, so how is this not about writing. It’s not, because it’s about us, and the times we live in.

In a private group, a friend who has sudden piercing insights asked how it would affect society that we took people out of work for a year, smashed their routine with a hammer and set them adrift.

I immediately panicked, because I have reason to have extra insight into this kind of situation.

Look, much sh*t has been talked about millenials. Don’t wind younger son up. We’ve had screaming arguments with me defending millenials while he condemns them. I won’t say I don’t get it, because part of it was going through public school in a high-left area.

I will say though that from the things no one talks about, like the real voting pattern, not the one ascribed to them, the people I meet on the street and coming to my house to do work, and a million other little things, they were shaping up d*mn nicely. Or as I express it “the kids are all right.”

The point being that if you come out of the continuous indoctrination factory and face the real world, in a halfway healthy nation and economy, you’re going to lose a lot of the indoctrination. The ones that don’t are usually the wealthy ones (it’s no accident the most strident lefties are pampered females) or those who are too smart to think their way to reality.

BUT…. 2020.

I do have some special insight into this, because in the mid seventies the Portuguese economy went…. odd. I won’t say it was wonderful before — hey, it was national socialist and all socialism kills. Fast or slow — but it was predictable.

In the mid seventies it became completely unpredictable, with the government arrogating to itself the right to promulgate rules for prices, salaries, and how many bottles of oil you could own. (Frying oil. It’s a precious commodity in a Latin country, particularly one were natural gas — the main fuel for cooking — is going through the roof, so baking is a rare and precious luxury.) And hyperinflation struck.

Remember I was a kid. My range of interests was even more limited than other kids, because mostly I read. So how hyper was the inflation? Well, science fiction paperbacks went from the equivalent (look, I don’t remember the prices in escudos anymore) of maybe $2.50 to $200 in a period of six/seven years. No, the prices weren’t in dollar, and the exchange rate wasn’t that. But if you visualize an asset taking that kind of hike (yes, I’m afraid it will be all too easy in five years) you can see what I mean by hyperinflation.

Which brings us to…. uncertainty. In that climate, who the heck is going to start a business, when any minute the government could regulate you out of existence and/or your need for materials/machinery might hit at the wrong time in the cycle and strip you of all your capital?

So, while a brave souls did start or continue jobs, there were very few new jobs, and a lot of companies/factories/etc shut their doors.

This means a generation (the one before me) left school and found themselves adrift, sometimes for years, before they could find a job. (Incidentally this is one of the reasons — not the only — I ended up in languages and teaching, despite a complete and utter lack of interest in the actual work. I’d seen what prolonged unemployment did to people. I figured that as Portugal opened to the world, and started to recover from the hammer to the gears, languages would pay well (they did) but until then, or if things went pear shaped again, I could teach, because there were always jobs for teachers. Yes, my dears, when you make plans, G-d laughs.)

Now a lot of people started businesses of some kind, and whether they were flipping houses, starting crops on abandoned fields to sell on the black market, or making crafts to sell on the black market (the black market or at least grey was everywhere. Either you knew someone, or people set up stalls on the street corners that were foldable into a bag, so they could run away when the police showed up. My first independent purchases, be it for gifts or for myself were from such people, usually selling groceries, clothes, and seriously IP violating books.)

I daresay those people were okay long term. Well, maybe not, because the work is…. different. But looking back there was an explosion of creativity and artistry among young people, and I bet a lot of them are fine.

OTOH a lot of them had no interest in arts and crafts and couldn’t do much. Oh, there was a lot of teaching/tutoring/ doing this one job “under the table.” But nothing regular or sustained.

I know several people who went through that later situation. And the ones who were excellent workers, dedicated, driven, emerged from the experience curiously maimed. (For the others you couldn’t tell.) In the end, when jobs came back, they did the minimum necessary, because the habits of their time out of work had shaped them. And most of them never went anywhere.

Now this is nowhere near the level of — pardon me — f*ckery the country just endured (the world, actually.)

Look, it’s closer to what happened to me. I used to do six books a year, without much trouble, while tutoring my younger son in one year. And then–

My health went South.

The amazing thing is how fast you lose habits that enforce productivity.

None of us likes working. Well, no. That’s not precisely true. I love my job, and I enjoy working. The problem is that I don’t enjoy working productively EVERY DAY. Sometimes — say twice a year — an idea strikes, and I will wake up from bed and write something, from 2k to 30k words, at one go. And that’s great. But one doesn’t make a living that way. Nice, hobby you’ve got there…

Getting up, rain or shine, brain fog or worry about a kid, a friend or a pet, and sitting down and writing is difficult. Okay, not as difficult as dancing on a broken ankle, or going to work in the sleet and the rain with chest congestion and worry about the bills. I’m not making myself a victim or a martyr. I’m quite aware I have it easy.

My biggest difficulty is grabbing myself by the ear and making myself produce words. And since my work habits were hit with a hammer twice — first by health, then by a very complex move — it’s been hard, bordering on the impossible. Not the writing itself, but sitting down to write. On time. And producing the required words.

Guys, the me from fifteen years ago, despises the me now, and wants to kick her butt.

But a habit that’s broken is very hard to get back, just like a muscle that withers has trouble getting back. (And sometimes can’t.)

And we just put people in enforced idleness for a year and change. They’ll go back to work when they need to, but will their productivity ever be what it was?

My experience suggests not. You see, productivity is an habit, too.

I’ve told here, half in jest, about how I started taking a laptop on our big glitzy weekend vacations. (It’s a joke, folks. While raising the kids, our great vacations were two and a half days in Denver — we lived in Manitou and then in Colorado Springs — where we haunted museums and Greek diners and painted the town a mild pink. If we were lucky, we had three and a half days. I still remember those.) My husband, understandably had a “don’t work while on vacation” rule, made all the more important as at the time I was either not getting paid, or I was getting paid peanuts. And working like a madwoman. So, of course “leave the laptop at home on vacation.”

The problem is I had an habit. Only slightly less demanding than the reading habit. You see, when the younger kid was in school (his being the important one because pre-school was only 3 hours) I sat my butt on the chair and wrote. Produced pages and pages of words.

Then when they came home, I was mommy. Though I might be plotting the next scene in my head.

(Some of my most productive years, btw.)

Saturdays were different only in that our writers’ group met at my house at 3. And our writers’ group was composed of insane people. At least in 95, we decided that novel or no novel in progress, to remain a member in good standing you had to bring in a short story a week.

Well, I normally didn’t do that during the week. Because I was doing novels. So, on Saturday, I cleaned 1800 sq feet in a couple of hours (took that long because kiddies) and then sat at my computer and pounded out a 2k to 6k story in an hour or three. Did spell check, and threw it at the group. (It’s amazing how many of those, de-typoed, sold.)

The problem while on vacation, is that characters and ideas for shorts showed up right on time either Friday night or Saturday morning. I wrote many a story on hotel note pads, napkins and even toilet paper. (Started novels, too, because my brain has no sense of proportion.) Until Dan sighed and told me I could bring the laptop. Which I MOSTLY used to pound out a story before they woke up on Saturday.

I no longer get the story of the week. (Which might be a habit worth getting back, as it would improve my numbers greatly.) In fact, I’ve limited the short story invites I accept, because writing a short can take me the better part of a week, as I’m no longer in the habit.

It’s not that I don’t try. It’s that I’m no longer used to sit at the keyboard and concentrate. And trust me, it’s a matter of habit.

The monasteries of old, being communal living amid people raised in more violent environments that most of us, kept the whole thing harnessed tight with habit. “At this house you do this. At this hour this.” It’s a trick borrowed by boarding schools and heck, even public schools. And yes, definitely factories.

For most people work is not a “career.” It is “That which pays the bills.” The actions of working (as I was prepared to accept with my degree choice) aren’t in themselves pleasurable, or even overly interesting, but you do it the best you can, and you earn a living. And habit lubricates that and makes it easier. I mean, I didn’t want to write a short story on vacation, but the habit compelled me to.

What happens when you have most of the world broken of the habit of working?

I know — because I’m struggling with it — how hard it is to rebuild the habit, so that you can work at your best when you’re supposed to. (And working from home is not necessarily “work hours” but the hours that you need to work.) So that you’re not fighting yourself just to get to the desk/workbench/whatever and do what you have to do.

Because there’s always other things that need doing. There’s always distractions.

In addition to throwing a massive wrench of uncertainty (and almost for sure hyperinflation to come) into our economy, the last year and a half has destroyed work and study habits of a vast portion of the population. Can they get them back? Will they even realize they need to? Or that they’re not working at their best?

Breaking an habit is the easiest thing in the world. Building a new one…. not so much.

This might be the biggest damage from the covidiocy. And it will blight more lives than the virus ever could.

Other than the fact it’s a textbook example of why government needs to be small, starved and limited, what can we do about it?

I don’t know. I know what I can do about me, and about everyone I know who is having issues. And that’s encourage you to form new habits as fast as you can. To harness yourself tightly to work standards, and to struggle to regain the habit of productivity.

Because regardless of natural gifts and abilities, if people don’t get that habit back, they’ll be very poor.

And so will society.

Go to work. I’ll do likewise.

286 thoughts on “Habitually

  1. The hardest part of building habits for me, right now, is the changing schedules. We went from all three kids doing distance learning (from last March, mind you) to the ability to go back in-person four days a week, which is great. Except that I have to drop three kids off at two different schools at the same time of the morning and have three separate pickup times, twenty minutes apart at two locations for the latter ones. (Yes, the older one should be going to school on his own, but he’s not as comfortable on a bike as I’d like and they only have one entry point, which is *not* the accessible and pedestrian-friendly one in the back, but the one in the front where the drivers are crazy. So car it is.)

    Most of what I need to be doing right now is both highly physical and very dirty, and there just isn’t much I can do in a 90-minute period that needs to include a full shower (slinging dirt around) so that I can at least walk to pick up and walk home the younger two. And then it’s over 90º, dang it. (I have a deeper tan now than I usually get all summer.)

    1. Neighbor. Reading Teacher in local grade school, right across the street. Sounds good, right? Except she has exactly one child of 6 going there. Between the two parents, they have 6 kids (hers/his) in 5 schools in two different school districts … All on different schedules. I’d be insane. Dad? Works out of town, all week. He’s home on weekends. IDK what happens when kids are with alternative custodial parents.

  2. Re-acquiring a Good habit will be difficult enough. It’s all those who will desperately need to acquire a Good habit that they were set up to not even believe in. I do not have a solution, let alone an even tolerable one (easy? ox slow, sure, but not damn fool!).

    1. The thing is, my own example leads me to think that there is at least one mechanism for recovery.

      Have I ever hit the really desirable levels of productivity? No.

      Have I made progress? Yes.

      Sarah’s comment about maiming is true, but it may not be the only mechanism/mode of importance.

        1. Folks here were a good influence, I kept trying.

          Knew that part of the problem was medical, and had someone looking into that, even when I personally saw little hope.

          Eventually identified a debilitating condition when trying something that significantly eased it. (Allergies. Very bad, finally noticed when the swollen head became obvious. Have gradually improved my mental function by working on the allergies, and other issues.)

          I still have days where my brain does not work no matter what. But I’m seeing improvement in how far I can push myself before I quit, in pacing myself to work and not ruin myself in the doing.

          I recall you mentioned anxiety. I have had some crippling issues with that at times.

          It is possible that some of the recent improvements in neurofeedback therapy can help. There are some experts that have been doing some impressive stuff. If there is secure comms, I can point you in the direction of someone who may know someone good in your area.

            1. Basically, neurofeedback is in a really early stage of development. It can work, but the techniques for making it work are not all widely available for people going into the business to learn. And there is basic need for cooperation from the patient, so it is less useful than psychiatric medication for something like trying to fix someone who is involuntarily confined.

              But it can do some pretty amazing things in the hands of an expert working with an appropriate patient.

              Modern electronics and computers make a bunch of stuff possible that wasn’t possible back in the sixties. The modern tech lets you do a 3D map of the activity of the brain at the various frequencies. An expert can listen to the symptom, do a brain map, compare to a data base of brain maps, and maybe come up with a training protocol that shifts the activity in some way. The training protocol is how the computer maps the brain signals to the beeps that tell you that you are doing the right thing. These can have some pretty significant effects, decreased anxiety, increased self-control, etc.

              It doesn’t fix organic problems, but even with organic problems it can adjust mental function in a way that may be a significant improvement.

              Seriously, if you don’t have an email you share in public, and if you are in email contact with TXRed or Sarah or maybe someone else, I can maybe bounce an email to you through one of them.

  3. Sometimes a habit is imposed on you (job schedule and responsibilities, etc.), but sometimes you can force yourself into a habit. Since I’ve been retired I took upon myself a responsibility to do a daily update of new scientific papers for the Interstellar Research Group, Monday through Friday each week. Besides that responsibility, I decided I would get said updates out by 11 AM at the latest, every day. I do occasionally miss that deadline by a bit, but in general having set specific requirements for myself has pushed me into a week-daily habit of getting the update process started every day between 9 and 9:30 AM (it takes about an hour for me to finish each one). What makes such habit-forcing successful is convincing yourself of the importance of accomplishing whatever task the habit is for. If it’s just a nice-to-do-if-possible, you’ll find yourself avoiding it whenever you don’t feel like it. But if you’ve internalized it as a must-do-at-all-costs, you’ll find it will stick.

    1. Speaking as an author and a geek, I do appreciate the updates. They’re full of things that have me going “There’s a really cool story seed in that” and “Ooh, run that in an interstellar trade economy, and how would it impact the society?”

    2. Internalizing it as a must-do-at-all-costs is the hard part for me. If anyone has any suggestions on how to do that, I’d be very grateful.

      1. External accountability. I belong to a group on social media (MeWe) that exists only to check in at the end of the day and say what you accomplished. So every time I hit social media, there’s a pressure to say “Have I accomplished anything today I can report, no matter how trivial, in the group?”

        There’s a group of friends in chat whom we all check in at the end of the day with wordcount and other things accomplished. Some days my accomplishments are “lifted at the gym, got one load laundry in the dryer, worked.” With that one – sometimes, the hardest part is focusing on a project. But with people talking about wordcount and writing every day, it helps to keep the brain trying to write daily. Even if it’s only 356 or even 15 words on the WIP, it’s progress.

        1. That sounds wonderful, but it also sounds like I need different friends.

          Mainly, ones in the intersection of “people who would follow through” and “people whose opinion I’d value enough to care when they did”.

          1. Read Jordan Peterson. It’s one of his 12 rules. Have friends who want the best for you.

            Also, go make your bed.

          2. You and me, both! It’s challenging to make new friends (I’m an introvert and somewhat right of Mao, so, yeah, it’s challenging), especially ones close enough that I’d care what they think.

        2. I’ve gotten good results from a place online where I can post that I wrote today, even if no one reads it.

            1. It isn’t any particular place. Time was it was an online writers’ group where we had a topic “I Wrote Today” until the group vanisehd — for a while I posted in a group of mine own — when that venue went away, I started posting a new writers’ group I had joined, a monthly topic where I post my progress.

              It’s just a lot harder to pretend you haven’t let it slide when you haven’t posted.

      2. Dorothy Grant’s recommendation of accountability partners is really helpful… but if you can’t find some of those, I’ll add that I once heard that anxiety is related to lack of action, and that struck me pretty hard. Now, when I’m anxious or feel like I have nervous/restless energy, I think of that as unused energy that needs to be put to work on some task, and I find a task on my to-do list and start it. Nine times out of ten it takes care of that restlessness. Once you start associating ‘getting moving’ with ‘fixes some of my mental issues’, it gets a little easier to turn ‘I could do’s into ‘I must do’s.

      3. Several other things on internalizing habits you wish to acquire:
        1. Treat yourself like someone you love that you’re responsible for caring for. If you know that building this habit is good for you, then tell yourself “Yes, I sympathize, but it will get better.” If you had a small kid whom you were responsible for seeing they got their required things done, you wouldn’t yell at them and berate them and snark and cut ’em down, would you? But so many of us are so abuse, bleak, and black in how we treat and talk to ourselves.

        2. Reward yourself. Tell yourself good job, and mean it! Give yourself a snack, or some time outside, or 15 minutes playing whatever you really wanted, or dress up in the outfit you enjoy even if you’re not planning to go anywhere more than the grocery store. Because you Did the Thing! You can be proud of you!

        Seriously, just as other people respond much better to praise and rewards than to “Well, that was barely adequate, now do it fifteen more times for no praise, only criticism if you aren’t good enough or are late.” … Yeah, our own subconscious reacts just like that, too.

        …why yes, my commenting here *is* rewarding myself for getting up and moving the laundry. I did the thing, so now I get some internet goof off time. When I’m done, I will check on whether I’m up to another stab at writing, or I’m going to go fold the laundry.

        And yes, I do put a gold star on the calendar every day I write, and record the wordcount at the end of the day. So I can look back in the dry spells and say “Self, you have come back before, and you’ll do so again.”

        3. Review and adjust fire. If you’re not consistent, the answer isn’t to say to yourself, “Self, you suck!” The answer is to say, “Self, why are we missing? What is the common root cause? Is the task too big, and we need to break it down to smaller, more achievable steps? Is the timing wrong? Is the location wrong? Is the sequence we planned not working, so we need to adjust that?”

        By openly telling yourself that you need to find and address the external causes instead of blaming yourself, you remove a lot of the negative self-talk, and you also make it much easier to seek out solutions. If something didn’t work, that’s not a personal problem, that’s striking a potential option off the list, or tabling it to revisit later.

        1. Coding. I got very little feedback on what I did. There really was no visible accountability. Just myself. Good thing about the coding I was doing, was I could break it down. Little dance when something was visibly coming together. Even if was an outer shell, then this little section, that section, until the entire thing was finished. Putting together a cheat so when a new process was documented, it would speed up production on next pieces from weeks to hours, including testing.

          Little harder now that I’m retired and not writing code. But dog and I are doing training. Little more frustrating because on HER timeline, and whether she wants to train or not. Not obedience. That she doesn’t get a choice with. But agility. That is for fun, so she gets to decide. But when it is clear she “gets it” … little dance … then she starts volunteering sequences, that isn’t ideal either, but progress she’ll learn that bonus for the sequence when asked, at speed. When we started I was beginning to wonder if this day would come.

        2. Thank you for this! It’s the most concise explanation of “treating yourself like you matter” that I’ve seen.

        3. I am going to hang onto this comment and try to use it in my life because I have the self-esteem of…something that has no self-esteem. As my wife SheSellsSeashells often says, “Dear, I wouldn’t let anybody else talk about you the way you talk about yourself, so I’m not going to let you do it either.”

      4. In addition to what Dorothy says: small steps. If you want todo a thing daily. Tell yourself you will do the thing on a set day at a set time. Just once for now. You can do the thing once. As soon as you do the thing, give yourself some kind of ‘yay!’ Moment and tell yourself you will do it once more at a set date and time.

        Then when you have done it twice you can go ‘let’s make it three ‘ or, if you fail at three or even two, you can go ‘I did it once, let’s shoot for once’. Then twice… then eventually it’s every Thursday and you try to add in Tuesday. But you keep up Thursday.

        I’m doing this now with my writing. I’d fallen off the writing wagon. So I declared Friday writing day. It’s only been once a week, but it’s there. Last week I wrote on Thursday and Friday, then fell off the every day intention, but hey I wrote one extra day last week. I’m going to shoot for it again this week.

        When I write for 2 weeks in a row, every day, I’m going to start slowly upping my word count minimum

      5. Make there be someone else that you do it for.

        Someone else depends on this, or needs this, or wants this, or expects this. You will do it for them. For yourself? You know the deadline is fake and arbitrary. But if you’re a decent person, you don’t want to let others down, or be late and waste their time. you owe it to be done for.

        A good examination of conscience includes ‘Have I wasted my time or through my actions caused someone else to waste their time?” It’s difficult to fix the first motivation. But much easier for the second.

        Trouble (not clinical depression level, mind you) getting up in the morning? Get a dog who needs to go out. Or a companion/child/boarder you make breakfast for.

        Trouble writing? Hire someone to be your editor who is depending on the money.

        Trouble leaving the house? provide teaching of childcare to someone whose kids need help right now.


        1. Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll have to think about how to someone as an editor…Money isn’t as tight for me as it is for some (thank you, software engineer hubby!), but the times they are a-challengin’.

  4. On the bright side, for those with hustle, right now is a great time in many industries to pick up and entry-level job. So many people aren’t returning to work, preferring to draw unemployment and hope for the next stimmy check, that there are help wanted signs all over Texas.

    Personally, I never stopped working. Never stopped lifting weights, either, no matter the covidiocy – because I’m already high risk enough, and I’m not going to get any lower risk or healthier by sitting on the couch and letting my hard-won gains atrophy. Although I got set back to bare bar anyway, but that wasn’t the government overreaction, that was getting the actual Lung Pao Sicken. It knocked my lungs down, and took a while to recover from because breathing is pretty critical to everything else. I’m still working my way back up at 2-3 pounds a week on squat and rack pull, but I’m trying.

    As for the word output… I suspect that’s not lack of habitual productivity after WuFlu, that’s pure, sheer burnout. Because I’m tired, so so tired, of dealing with panicked, brittle, angry people all day, every day at work. I need a vacation, somewhere nice and normal and maskless. Might go down to Galveston and do horseback riding on the beach, as soon as i have breathing space at work and the WIP finished and out to beta readers.


    1. I don’t know how it might fit into your schedule, but Mike Williamson is running ConFinement 2.5 June 25-27 at the Courtyard Nashville Mount Juliet in Mount Juliet, TN. Masks not required (or welcome, if I know Mike). For those missing the face-to-face of LibertyCon. My wife and I are going.

    2. Exercise patterns have been ruptured along with the tendon. The stretch I did for Plantar Fascia wasn’t doable until I could put weight on the right leg. I’m easing back into it. The sciatia stretches are a hard nope; half want full-knee flexion, and that’s not a thing right now. I *finally* can get onto and off of a yoga mat, so no longer have to do exercises in the Comfy Reclining Chair.

      I saw the physical therapist last week, and got an official set of exercises to replace what I’d gleaned off the ‘net. Somewhat easier, more appropriate for my level of healing, and there’s a website that shows videos and offers tracking. OTOH, the website has some limitations (I think the medical center got the minimum service tier). Still have lists and videos of the exercises, but the logging is write-only at the client level. They recommend 1-2 sessions per day, 5 days a week, but I can’t review any of the history. If I deem it necessary, I’ll do my own logging.

      (Progress is occurring. The outer quad muscle is a laggard, but the new exercises address that. I can actually walk down steps, though without much grace. Note to self; more handrails! I’m supposed to do chores outside wearing the brace, but I should be getting an official release to wean myself off of it this week. Already did that unofficially a couple of weeks ago… OTOH, when I’m on rough ground, I should use the brace. Since our non-road areas qualify as rough, I try.)

  5. In that climate, who the heck is going to start a business, when any minute the government could regulate you out of existence

    I became a libertarian in spirit at about age 12.

    My dad, a Stanford-educated petroleum geologist, left Union Oil to start his own business. Back in the ’60s (and probably long before) the various state and federal governments apparently wanted to encourage wildcatters, so they had programs that basically raffled off oil & gas leases on state/federal land. You had five years to develop the lease, or sell it to someone who would, or it would revert to the government. Pop’s business was advising clients on which leases to buy tickets for, submit the tickets, handle the paperwork if they won, and handle selling to an oil company if they didn’t intend to develop it themselves (most didn’t).

    Along about 1972, the big oil companies no longer wanted to deal with the hassle of buying out little operators to build up the big blocks they preferred, so they bribed lobbied the states and feds, who obediently started phasing out so-called “non-competitive” leasing in favor of “competitive” leasing (meaning auctions, where only big corporate money could win). So by 1975, Pop had been “legislated out of business” as he would say. And he never worked in geology again.

    It took me a couple of years and a bit of maturity to realize that depending on a government program — any government program — for your livelihood was a losing proposition, because the government does not care about you and will squash you like a bug without warning. It took me another couple of years and learning about regulatory capture and public choice theory to understand that this was an example of crony capitalism.

    But regardless of whether raffles or auctions are better exemplars of “markets”, it all comes back to government intervention being unreliable, arbitrary, and irresponsible.

    1. Sorry, not really related to the OP topic, but “regulated out of business” is a bit of a trigger phrase for me.

    2. I became a libertarian at not much younger – when I had seen a metallic green bicycle at the cycle shop, lusted after it, and saved for months, assembling Christmas money, birthday money, snow-shoveling and lawn-mowing and can-recycling (I hit the backroads where the teens tossed their beer cans after partying, and turned those in to the metal salvage) money, and showed up at the shop with the whole huge amount on the sign, in crumpled dollar bills and a mound of coins…

      Only to learn about the existence of sales tax, and that I was short. My father told me years later he was biting his tongue to keep from laughing when I pulled my indignant self up so I was standing on tippy-toes to be fully a head above the counter, and yelled at the at the old dragon that ran the place “Tax?!?! I have to bribe the government to get my bike?!!?!?!”

      He looked so proud, my dad, as he continued, “That old dragon never gave a discount to anyone. She faced down hells angels without turning a hair. But you walked out with your bicycle, still steaming mad and using words you weren’t supposed to know about the government and their filthy bullying habits.”

      1. “I have to bribe the government to get my bike?!!?!?!”


        Exactly how I feel whenever I have to get a permit to work on my own house. And not even for something that could cause harm like electrical or plumbing.

        1. Remember that every single one of these multitude of government mandates and hurdles are ultimately enforced by a government official with a gun, which naturally leads to much more incidences of contact with armed officers who are being asked to act as the nanny’s for the nanny state. If even a minute percentage of these end up with a violent result, the reason is proclaimed to be “evil racist police” rather than “evil liberty crushing nanny state.”

          1. It’s almost as those there is a direct line between punitive tobacco taxes (to punish smokers, who are more likely to be poor and minority in the US) to the death by choking by a poor, black man selling loosies in NYC.

            But, leftists only care about “good little minorities” which aren’t ones with vices they don’t like or any sense of initiative.

            1. I think you give the leftists too much credit. Leftists don’t think about people, they think only of abstract categories.

              1. Exactly. The left considers thinking of individuals rather than groups to be racist wrongthink, or to use the proper Newspeak dictionary term, ungoodthink.

            2. No, I think they genuinely don’t see any connection between Gardener’s death and the cigarette taxes that made lawbreaking profitable for him in the first place. I think there are a lot of people on the Left who don’t understand that “there ought to be a law” means “if people don’t do this, other people with guns should come and make them do it.”

              1. I think there are a lot of people on the Left who don’t understand that ‘there ought to be a law’ means ‘if people don’t do this, other people with guns should come and make them do it.’

                Meanwhile, they want to defund police and empty the jails.

                On Guns, New York City Wants It Both Ways
                The Wall Street Journal reports that most of the candidates for Manhattan District Attorney are opposed to jailing people for illegal firearms possession …


                This really is quite bizarre. On the one hand, we hear progressives telling us that it would be a disaster for public safety if the Supreme Court were to strike down any of New York’s draconian firearms laws. On the other, we hear progressives proposing the abolition of serious punishment for violating those draconian laws. How can this possibly make any sense? In effect, the people who wish to run New York are arguing that the city ought to have the toughest laws in the nation, but that those laws will not be meaningfully enforced against criminals. Say what you will about the looser firearms laws that obtain in, say, Texas, but at least nobody in that state is suggesting that prohibited persons should be treated leniently.

                Second Amendment advocates such as myself often argue that, in practice, gun-control activists are much more interested in going after law-abiding people than in targeting criminals. By rigorously enforcing its laws, New York City has long served as an exception to this rule. If it, too, descends into magical thinking and lax administration, it will make a farce of its claim to practicality — and, in turn, of the false-but-popular idea that governments in big cities have a compelling interest in safety that outweighs the protection of our right to keep and bear arms.

          2. Not all are “ultimately enforced by a government official with a gun.” Some (indeed, more and more) are enforceable by other means, means which might not even require a court’s acting.

            Suppose, for example, that government suspects an individual of violation of some edict; might not that government order third parties, under threat of forfeiture of assets, to (for instance) freeze that individual third-party (e.g., banking & credit card) accounts? Perhaps freeze them until the targeted individual can provide exculpatory evidence, perhaps until their innocence can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

            Sort of the way Criminal Forfeiture Law has been operating?

            Perhaps they could declare that as a suspected baddie insurgent it is entirely necessary that social media platforms forbid participation?

            Or maybe your Social Credit Score falls below the requisite minimum.

            1. Sheesh! Revising but not extending my remark:

              Perhaps they could declare that as a suspected baddie insurgent it is entirely necessary that social media platforms forbid participation?

            2. But we’ve been assured that Forfeiture abuse is just an excuse raised by criminals. Doesn’t happen! Only criminals want it gone.


              A 2017 Inspector General report found no evidence in 91% of the forfeiture cases that the money came from illegal activities. IRS investigators simply looked at banking records and then confiscated the accounts of hundreds of people. Most of the victims were “legal businesses such as jewelry stores, restaurant owners, gas station owners, scrap metal dealers, and others.”

              The IRS targeted businesses with legal sources of income because “the Department of Justice had encouraged task forces to engage in ‘quick hits,’ where property was more quickly seized… rather than pursuing cases with other criminal activity (such as drug trafficking and money laundering), which are more time-consuming,” the Inspector General reported.

              1. If you clicked through to the actual press report, you’d find that it’s not even a related thing, and that the quote your article used is at best misleading– and moreso, this is an example of Obama’s IRS getting smacked for abuse after even they figured out their bad behavior needed improvement and put in a policy change (which was ‘inconsistantly followed’), and having to fix it.


                1. Oh, I read it. And I’m sure you’ll keep defending it until your account is seized because of wrong think.

                  1. Oh, I’ll keep telling the truth even when it doesn’t fit your desired narrative until my massacre by federal employees I know who also fail to fit your desired narrative.

                    1. “Laughs in Tea Party…. and True the Vote founder who had her and her husband audited only after she started it…. and laughs in Gibson Guitars….”

                      You haven’t done any of that. No matter how frantically you deflect, at the end of the day, you are supporting denial of due process and jackboots at the door. But keep it up, please. Because ever time you do, I’ll have more citations of facts to refute you, and anyone can see it.


                      “”The constitution does not abide guilt by association,” argues Robert Frommer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, in an op-ed published by The Orange County Register.

                      “What the government has done here is completely backward,” writes Frommer. “The government cannot search every apartment in a building because the landlord is involved in a crime. After all, when somebody rents an apartment, that apartment is theirs.””

                      Innocent until proven guilty? What a concept.

                    2. You haven’t done any of that.

                      That is exactly as true as it was when you claimed that your calls to execute a woman for not giving her son Tamiflu was my “delusion.”

                      And your response when I dropped the link to you doing so demonstrated that what I have not done, is forced you to accept it.

                      Which… is not my goal.

      2. It would be an easy procedure to post prices inclusive of sales tax, backing out the tax in the accounting process. They manage to do it with rent, building upkeep, insurance and all the other store expenses.

        Shops, of course, would not be so able to rub the government’s vigorish in your nose, of course, so there is that.

        1. But sales tax varies not just from state to state, but from city to city. Any business that operates store locations in multiple cities in multiple states would then have to … you know what, actually it wouldn’t be all that hard. They’d have to print different pricing labels in every store, so that the $99 item would be $107.31 here, and $108.75 there, and $114.29 in Los Angeles. But, hey, they print out different pricing labels all the time when they put things on sale, so that wouldn’t be nearly so much of a burden as I initially thought. They could still have the same price-before-tax across every store, and they could print labels like this:

          (In small print): “Base price: $99”
          (In small print): “Sales tax: $9.75”
          (In large print): “Total price: $108.75”

          That way customers who complain that the item is more expensive in Los Angeles than in Dallas where they were just attending a conference last week can be told, “Yeah, in Dallas the sales tax is five dollars less. We’re still charging you the same amount, $99, in both places, it’s just that California is greedier than Texas.”

          1. I seem to recall some places had law/regulation specifically forbidding the inclusion of sales taxes in prices. Not sure if that was/is “the price sans tax must be shown” or “must be the ONLY price shown.”

            1. If I was a merchant in that area, I’d probably read that law carefully, then do something that adheres precisely to the law as written. E.g., if “the price without tax must be shown” then I’d make sure that the price without tax was part of the label, which would *also* include the sales tax. If the law said something like “must be the ONLY price shown” then I’d omit the dollar sign in front of the base price, so that technically it’s just a number, not a price. If the law was carefully written enough that I couldn’t get around it on the labels, then there would be large signs all over the store saying “The state of California wants to stop us from telling you that you’re paying 20% sales tax on your items”, because the law only addressed labels, not informational signs. And your suggestion of the names and pictures of the politicians who voted for that law is a good one, too.

              1. Basically, good old Malicious Compliance. Read the law carefully, and follow it exactly as written. Then if they try to claim you’re doing something wrong, countersue for wrongful prosecution with a copy of the relevant law included in your lawsuit.

              2. And finally (I keep thinking of new things to add to my comment), if the law is written such that you can’t even put up informational signs explaining the law to your customers, file a lawsuit against the state saying that the law is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds: you are conveying truthful information about the law in the state of California, and that is protected by the First Amendment.

                  1. At which point the signs would go up saying “The state of California won’t let us tell you how much you’re paying in sales tax. Here’s a QR code to scan to find out more.” The website would have a copy of all the relevant information: the law, the lawsuit and the Ninth Circuit dismissal, and all that.

                    I’m not the type to take “shut up and sit down” kindly.

                    1. And then the US Marshals show up with the “contempt of court citation”. Or the IRS to seize your business, or SturmAntifa shows up.

                      People really need to get over the idea that there’s such a thing as “a government of laws” in this country any longer.

                    2. Oh, I’m aware. Which is why I’d have videotapes streaming live to the Internet to capture what went down, because while there are parts of the country that are no longer a nation of laws, there are other parts that are. And the more light can be shone on those sorts of abuses, the better.

                    3. Also, personal lawsuits against the people enforcing unconstitutional orders, for violation of rights under color of law. And when that gets thrown out of court, raise a big stink about it on friendly media. Wouldn’t get on CNN, but that’s the kind of thing that might get Tucker Carlson to do a segment about it on his show.

                      Point is, never let despair keep you from fighting back. Public attention being brought to their tyrannical antics is the thing the Democrats fear most, which is why CNN et al cover for them all the time. So the best way to fight them is to shine as much light on their behavior as possible. The more obviously they try to crack down, the more obvious they make their basic corruption. What they want most is for you (generic you) to give up and quit in despair, saying “You can’t fight Tammany Hall.” So don’t give them what they want. Do your best to shine a light on their evil deeds, because evil hates the light.

          2. When Seattle enacted its “sugary drinks” tax — which includes cranberry juice cocktail as well as soda — for a while the local Costco had signs saying “this will cost you $X more than it used to, but if you go to the Southcenter Costco [outside city limits] it will be the regular price”. I think the city council got mad at them and made them stop, but it was amusing while it lasted.

            1. Haw!
              I can just see the ‘new’ signs taken down… to be replaced with signs [Why are these price higher than they should be? These guys:] and pictures (with names) of those who voted it in…

        2. That was made illegal in Quebec. The theory was that it might encourage people not to pay taxes

  6. Oh, Lord – yes. I needed this reminder, a lot.

    I was actually pretty good through much of last year because, when lockdown happened, my husband and I kept most of our weekday habits (got up at the same time, even though we didn’t have to allow for a commute, etc.). It’s the weekend habits that went sideways and so far haven’t quite recovered.

    Rebuilding those habits is my priority. Maybe we should form a support group or something?

  7. OK young lady, I did break, in the middle of reading this and go downstairs & change the faucets on the tub/shower.

    Back in the day, I’da done that months ago but in this, the Age of Asparagus, the wrench has been sitting there and every time I’d shower I’d look at it and think I’ll get around to it soon. Yea, right.

    Thanks for the kick in the habit.

        1. Ok Orvan and Balzacq I’m holding you two personally accountable for the earworm that’s going to be running around in my head until I find a way to excise (or perhaps exorcise) it from my brain.

        2. My mother used to sing the chorus as “Age of Asparagus” and see if anybody noticed. Sadly, I can only remember some of the fast part: “Broccoli and cauliflower/Mashed potatoes and green be-e-e-ans/Fresh tomatoes and some snow peas…”

          Can you tell she was a gardener?

  8. Well, science fiction paperbacks went from the equivalent (look, I don’t remember the prices in escudos anymore) of maybe $2.50 to $200 in a period of six/seven years.

    I think I still have 300-page paperbacks which I bought new (OK, which I insisted be bought for me in some drug store) way back when dinos roamed the earth, telephones had dials, and there was no such thing as unleaded gasoline, marked $.05. I certainly still have paperbacks from the 1970s marked around $1. I just randomly grabbed a couple of paperbacks from the shelf behind me – let’s see, the older is On Basilisk Station 1995 ed, 442 pages, $5.99; the newer is 552 pages of Monster Hunter Alpha from 2011, likely one of the last softcovers I bought, $7.99.

    The big jump was due to the 1970s inflation – when you have well over 10% inflation year over year for a decade, the good side is that mortgage payment that was a real stretch when you signed those papers is now child’s play to pay, the bad side is your hard-earned savings are now similarly childlike.

    Lessons that come with one after living through such an era of financial upset – like always go for the biggest mortgage and biggest car loan you can get as the payments in then-year dollars will only be smaller in reality, and sink your income into things instead of savings as savings will be worth only less – do not necessarily prepare one for other financial milieus. Similarly the hard-earned lessons from the previous major financial dislocation, the Great Depression, such as don’t trust banks, save cash money at all costs, and don’t go into debt ever, perfectly positioned that eras survivors to be in eth absolute worst possible position financially when the Great Inflation hit.

    Being situationally flexible and financially aware are the best I can come up with as universally applicable financial rules.

    1. Yes. With what is coming down the line for inflation (it is coming), our house and vehicle interest rates look anemic. We lived through the 70’s and hyper inflation then and the ’80s. We’ve had the > 10% home and interest rates. We gotten the letter from the government student loan company “We’ll discount if you pay it off now. Plus you’ll save the interest!” Problem with that is you sent it to someone(s) who can do the math, idiots. Making more on our money, just paying monthly payment. They didn’t discount it enough to make it worthwhile.

      1. My largest student loan lender informed me in the fine print, when I was finally smart enough to go looking for it, that if I pay it off early, I get charged the full amount plus all the interest they would have made. So, there’s quite literally no point in doing so. And therefore I haven’t done so. All the smaller loans to other lenders have been paid off long ago.

        1. “I get charged the full amount plus all the interest they would have made.”

          The [redacted]?

          My parents warned me about “pre-payment penalties.” But oh lordy, I’ve never heard of that one.

          1. Yeah, I was 18 and unwise and unwary, followed by being 20, transferring school, unwise, and unwary about what the financial aid office said was best. Which was not best. And was more than one change in the federal code ago, so the protections added since – I’m under the old rules.

            So they’re not getting paid early. Not at all.

          2. Those are/were common enough that our “How not to get screwed over” classes in the Navy specifically mentioned looking at pre-payment penalties.

            Their specific wording, in the class, was that paying off early wouldn’t save you the interest on the full term of the loan.

            In other words– the loan was “I will give you $150 dollars. You will give me $175, at the rate of a minimum of five dollars a month.”

            Rather than it technically being interest.

        2. Ours was government backed. No prepayment penalties. The prepayment penalty is something we double check for every contract, house, vesicle, whatever. We walk first. The other situation to watch for is the 0% interest as long as it is paid off within time limit. Not you have 6 months to pay what you owe without interest, either. Make sure to make the “minimum” payment every month.

      2. The Administration has started admitting “some,” inflation is coming. Which makes me think of wheelbarrows of dollars.

    2. And that was 10% Official *admitted* inflation. Since then, the price of fuel and food was excluded as “too volatile” (aside from auto/house payments, where does most money go? Utilities ARE fuel, eventually…) Someone has been tracking things the “old way” and the REAL inflation rate? Has been 10-11% for *DECADES*. And, as anyone here knows or can work out,when fuel costs go up, everything goes up due to transport.

      1. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the price of corn is up 50% — good thing corn isn’t used for anything except stretching gasoline.

        1. Dried beans are dropping to near-reasonable levels. We normally get a big of of beans (Pintos, preferably) and a bag of rice for [redacted] each month. Beans spiked around $33 for a 50 pound bag, but they (new supplier) are running $28 for supposedly the same quality. Rice is back in stock, but the $16 dollar bags are running $25 right now. And that’s the same Texas supplier we normally use.

          $SPOUSE told me that the 14 ounce cans of no-salt-added green beans that were $0.69 a can have been replaced by 7 ounce cans for the low, low price of $0.79. Now that I’m driving again, I’ll get my chance to witness Xidenflation for myself. Whee.

          OTOH, it’s Alice in Wonderland when I hit Home Desperate. 7/16″ OSB going for more than decent grade plywood? I saw an article that said a lot of sheet-stock mills went under during the 8 years of Summer of Recovery and didn’t manage to get back up to speed under GEOTUS. 2 x stock is higher than it was (maybe 80% higher than last summer), but nothing like OSB or plywood. $61 for a sheet of 7/16″ OSB (or $76 for 19/32s) makes me very thankful that I finished the garden shed last year, and that I have the supplies for the need-to-be-installed new gutters. Mercifully, pavers haven’t spiked in price. Yet.

          1. For once in my life I find myself in broad agreement with the FED that most of this price inflation is transitory supply issues and base rates. In the long run, deflation is still the way to bet driven by demographic changes. Someone is bound to make the trillions of dollars argument to which I respond that there really aren’t trillions since the vast majority of those trillions are reserves on bank balance sheets, which are not money.

            This all existed before COVID and nothing fundamental has changed (I actually wrote a guest post on that here last year) That could change, but my long term outlook continues to be deflation and that the central banks and governments are pushing on a string.

                1. No. I mean I’ve written about it, but not recently. Sometime — about 20 years ago — I realized the only countries SUPPOSEDLY increasing population were the ones that received per capita international aid.
                  I also knew how census was done in Portugal. And that when Portugal was declaring 5 children per women, mom was fertile fanny with 2 kids.
                  Then things started leaking out, like about the Arab countries. They don’t have nearly the population growth they claim to have. (Partly they can’t COUNT. No system for it.) Partly macho exaggeration and the “islamic womb.” Yes, they’re exporting people. But that’s because they’re so severely cluster f*cked.
                  Then in one of the economic crisis — 2003? I don’t remember — I did a deep dive and the only thing that explains how the economy was behaving is if the population were already plunging.
                  Look, our system is geared to ever increasing generations. The blue model necessitates it.
                  I think the wheels came off at least twenty years ago. It’s only going to get funkier.
                  And the population numbers? Completely made up. Even we routinely add up “uncounted” numbers for, you know, the homeless and people who are “shy” of the law.
                  Other countries AHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

                  1. This is why we’ve been in a depression since 2007 and why I think the current inflation won’t follow through. The trend is toward deflation and the US has the best numbers. If you want a real horror show, look at South Korea and China is on its way to being smaller than the US within two,decades. It’s all shocking,

                    1. Ah. So you are seeing the same thing I saw.
                      It’s also why we haven’t rebelled, yet. The population is top heavy towards middle aged and older.
                      BTW it’s why they’re shocked at low birth numbers. As Foxfier said, once, they’re expecting women who don’t exist to have babies.

                    2. Oh and Europe. Dear Lord, Europe.
                      Europe is an old age home with borders.
                      Meanwhile the establishment in the west keeps on on and banging the drum of overpopulation.

                    3. $SPOUSE and I got married too late to help with the population implosion, One of my cousins was quite fertile (4?) kids, but most relatives in my (boomer) generation have/had 1 or two. OTOH, I have hopes for one niece and her husband.

                    4. Tried. Wished we’d tried IVF. Sister did. They had no luck (then had 3 biological and one adopted). We just couldn’t figure out how to afford it. Knowing what I know now, should have risked it. However then wouldn’t have the resources we have now. Sigh. A round robin of what-ifs, and how-changes, to then can’t afford. Can’t change the past.

                      Sisters and I, 3 of us had 8, if I count all our first cousins, and my inlaws, including adopted: 17 had 34 (of which inlaws is only 4 having 6 counting our son), my side is much more prolific. OTOH the great nieces nephews, cousins once removed drop down from 34 having 15 or so. What is difficult is I keep wanting to include some of my first cousins in the second batch because broader generation wise they belong to that group (or cousin M kids are the same age or older than Uncle K, and Uncle B, kids. Which makes sense when one realizes that cousin M is only 3 years younger than Uncle B.) OTOH the numbers look better: 30 having 20 but still fewer as the generations go on. Although not sure about our son, my nieces are adding to the population. At 3 and counting, 4th due this October.

                    5. Noted in the Wednesday Wall Street Journal:

                      Heard on the Street
                      Beijing Confronts a Smaller, Grayer China Dream
                      China is aging much more rapidly than many demographers expected. That won’t be enough to derail its rise, but it will pose a serious challenge to its economic model.

                      No link because they impose a paywall, but if you Google the lede sentence you might find unhindered access.

          2. I am frantically growing beans. And hitting the bargain grocery store to fill up the canning jars which I am also buying. And wildly grateful for the pressure canner I was gifted last year. Thankfully, we’re work-from-home and homeschooling, BUT STILL.

          1. *picks up soap box and chases the “mandatory ethanol state wide in Iowa” activists around with it, with malice aforethought*

            1. Here, here! And I grew up in the next corn state eastward. Food should not be fuel!

              1. “Food is fuel. You get picky about what you put in the tank, your engine is going to die. Now shut up and eat your garbage.” —Remy’s dad

  9. Just about any habit can be broken, depending on the stimuli used. In 1982 I successfully quit smoking by gradully changing the conditions when I would smoke. I quit in November of that year (not related with a Smoke Out campaign) and haven’t smoked since.
    And I’m ADD/ADHD. After a rather contrary episode with the prevalent meds of the day (Ritalin) which resulted in a month long visit to a hospital, I developed coping mechanisms that allowed me to keep the ADD/ADHD symptoms largely at bay.
    Then in the late ’90’s I developed an issue with the cartilage in my next. Severe pain that ended in a spinal fusion and cartilage removal/replacement. But the coping strategies I had developed beforehand were eliminated as well. I had to seek help in dealing with the ADD/ADHD I had.
    So, yeah, any habit can be broken by the right stimuli.

    1. Truly one of the great modern taboos: the discussion of handling psychological oddities without psychiatric drugs. I salute you. Every person willing to say stuff like this makes it safer for people who want to choose a different path.

      1. While I firmly believe in better living through chemistry (because of wonky brain chem issue), I also believe in not resorting to drugs for every problem. I am ADHD myself, but didn’t realize it until much later in life than usual. I’m still working through coping mechanisms. One of them is to ask someone else in the house to help keep me on track. They don’t have to actually do any house work, they are just there to remind me what I’m supposed to be doing in case I get distracted. ‘No, you are vacuuming right now. You can dust next, but only after you finish vacuuming.’

        1. The best techniques often involve a combo. The meds to bring down the distractions to a dull roar, and the techniques learned then so that if you miss some meds, it’s not crippling.

          1. The body tends to eventually acclimate to the meds, negating their usefulness as well as producing some very bad habits). Use the interval the drugs provide as an opportunity to develop comping skills.

            Put another way: after a knee surgery you will require crutches for a while, but the goal is to eliminate the need for those crutches.

            1. Remembers the minutes I tried the crutches. Yikes! Ruptured tendon and crutches are not a happy combination for me. Walker, then 5-footed cane, then Old Hickory did me much better. I’m using the brace as little as I can get away with it right now. Should be officially released this week.

      2. Thanks to an interaction of a couple asthma meds, I now had symptoms that mimic ADHD as a drug side-effect of being able to breathe. Because it’s not the same common cause, the meds wouldn’t work anyway, so I’m having to learn coping mechanisms from scratch. Here’s to the people willing to discuss herding the squirrels that are their brain!

        1. Allergies, both environmental and dietary, also cause ADHD symptoms, and it’s particularly visible and misdiagnosed in kids because unlike adults they don’t have the tools or the interest in hiding or self-medicating their symptoms. My allergist has an A++ rant on kids getting put on inappropriate drugs when what they need is an allergy test.

          A lot of adults too, but in adults it’s often ‘it’s too much trouble to figure out what’s causing this, just give me something that’ll fix it.’ -_-

    2. I had to seek help in coping with ADHD because thyroid + sleep apnea nuked my careful schedules and my habits. Without meds, I wouldn’t be even on the way to rebuilding.

      1. Yes. I fully agree that ADHD is overprescribed in school-age boys, many of whom just have Y-chromosome syndrome and need to have more hands-on work (bring back shop class and watch many of those bored boys suddenly want to learn). But people also need to know about folks like me, who got prescribed Ritalin at age 25 and suddenly all my coping mechanisms started working, and I could get work done like a normal person. I described it as having had a ball-and-chain around my leg my whole life and not ever knowing it until someone brought along a key and took it off. (I did fine in school, because learning was fun and interesting and therefore my ADHD never got in my way. The problems started when I left home and had to deal with laundry and other boring tasks, without parents around to remind me that they needed doing.)

        1. Well, I refused to get meds for the boys, despite teachers’ screaming.
          Turns out both of them SHOULD have got meds. Yeah, they’ve coped, but….

          1. My approach to medication at this point is, “Do some people experience truly nasty side effects from just the first few doses? Then let’s be cautious and do more checking to make sure it’s really needed before we try it. Does it have nasty withdrawal symptoms? Then let’s be cautious. Is it cheap, and a week or two will show whether it was needed and not cause side effects? Then sure, I’ll give it a try.”

            Now, since Ritalin worked for me, I haven’t asked my doctor to try anything else. I did consider asking for the slow-release form at one point (as I understand it, it slowly dissolves in your digestive system over the course of several hours releasing a slow trickle of medication, as opposed to the normal form that just puts the whole dose into the bloodstream at once). But that was way more expensive, and it wasn’t too hard to just set an alarm reminding me every 4 hours that it was time to take my next dose. (By now I’ve gotten into a habit: one dose when I get to the office, one after lunch, and one just before I leave the office at 5).

            P.S. I actually was prescribed Ritalin in college at one point, tried it, and decided I didn’t like the way my brain no longer went off on weird tangents, so I quit it. I wish I’d realized that that was the medication working, not a weird side effect; I would have had a few more years of productivity. Oh well, at least I can inform people so they don’t make the same mistake in the future.

            1. I fought it till 57, when my sons argued me into getting it.
              OTOH they are refusing to be treated, so you know…. Younger son considered as how he MIGHT need it.
              Trust me, he needs it. DESPERATELY.

  10. no longer get the story of the week. (Which might be a habit worth getting back, as it would improve my numbers greatly.) In fact, I’ve limited the short story invites I accept, because writing a short can take me the better part of a week, as I’m no longer in the habit.

    If you don’t want that habit anymore, I’d be happy to take it off your hands.

          1. …is there something Hunnish afoot on Discord? Could I get info if there is and if I’m inviteable? Am “trufox” at the Mail Service of the Positive Charge.

                  1. made one. sent a link via FB. not sure if you want to just mass invite, or be more selective.

        1. I would love to join . . . if the opportunity presents itself. I read this article with way too much clamoring going on in the background of my mind that says THIS IS YOU stop sitting around …

  11. I wonder if part of why Jordan Peterson [Hail Lobster!] is so intensely disliked by The Proper Sort and so valued by the younger Great Unwashed is because he’s one of those who shows how you can get good habits and work through to success. And he reminds the reader over and over that it’s not easy. No one finds it easy. That’s comforting – I’m not the only one fighting to [quit smoking/get to work on time every day/stay sober/raise a civilized offspring].

  12. There’s a good deal of effort put in to destroying will power by them who profit from folks not having any. From payday loans and rent-to-own to drive-throughs for purchases, to credit cards, to every single billboard, to adults who want compliant children, to autoplay on the next youtube video, all designed to keep folks from developing the will power to say no to things they may have no real desire or need for.

    Building habits requires will power: to do the thing even though you don’t feel like doing the thing right now, until it becomes a habit, and you no longer have to choose to do the thing. Developing will power when yours has been broken down your whole life because others profit by that, well, that’s a different story. I’ve done a little bit of study on it, and it seems the generally considered way to start is by doing something tiny and absurd with no actual consequences. There’s a series of articles here: https://ecosophia.dreamwidth.org/tag/will which because dreamwidth is of course upside down, so if you’re interested, #1 is at the bottom.

    1. My teeth clench every time I hear/see a commercial or ad “Because you deserve it.” Ah, no. I had a grad student associate use that as an excuse to blow off an entire semester and skate through on the rest of our good natures. No!

      1. You deserve it until you default on the promissory note, then you find yourself with a deficiency judgement and a nice, fat lien. They don’t tell you that.

      2. When they changed Nick Jr. from whatever it was called, ad-free and kid programming around the clock, to many of the same programs but with ads, they started innocuously enough, with a few items for mothers of small fry, and learning programs. It wasn’t long before they went full-on Nickelodeon, though, and I found myself explaining to my kids how advertising works, with its over-promising and under-delivering. Now we only watch streaming, so they don’t have that, but at least a little of the lesson sank in.

        1. Heh. My kid STILL remembers the rant I went on when she was three and Disney decided to open one of their DVDs with a massively manipulative anti-piracy ad. She didn’t know what most of the words went (polysyllabic, not profane) but that evening I caught her asking her father what pusiwwanimous meant.

      3. I get triggered by the Progressive ad (of course!) featuring a life coach who specializes in teaching people how not to be like their parents. I know some of us have/ truly awful parents, but, “Put down that book because your father liked it,” is an utterly perverse message.

    2. Things like payday loans have their place, but the commercials make my teeth clench as well. “Their place” is most assuredly not, “So I can hang out in the farmer’s market and buy the expensive organic melons.”

  13. Development of constructive habits is an essential element of Civilization – one which we’ve not only bee neglecting but actively obstructing.

    1. Schools now teach that such constructive habits are evil because they are tools of “white supremacy” that must be rejected.

        1. I can “white supremacy” and so can you, regardless of skin color. Funny, most of the white guys don’t really mind if you can play their game better than they can and get promoted ahead of them for following the rules better. It’s almost like the rules of the game are indifferent to your racial attributes.

  14. I wonder if one of the reasons the Proper Sort can’t stand Jordan Peterson’s ideas [Hail Lobster!] is for the same reason they are proper with the Lesser Types. He writes about ways to build good habits, how to take advantage of ground-level grunt-work, and how to grow will power. He’s also up front that it is not easy, which lets other people know “Hey, I’m not alone! Other people are also struggling to [quit smoking/get off anxiety meds/get to work on time every day/finish what I start/raise a civilized offspring.]”

    1. Also that it is possible to recognize the horrors of life and not succumb to nihilism.

      Meanwhile the Proper Sort’s solution has be to destroy themselves and anything they can get their hands on.

      1. I just had a horrible thought….

        What if the complete lack of care about places like the rust belt collapsing in on themselves with drugs and suicides isn’t *just* a matter of the BS everyone is familiar with? What if the fools like seeing that because they went full omnidestructive nihilism long ago, and now (from their perspective) teh poors are joining the one true religion.

        1. Thoughts seen from many sources sometimes have a common origin, and have been spread with a lot of push.

          Ideas seen many places may be a measurable proxy for those with a lot of resources to spend pushing ideas.

          Thinking about some of those ideas, it would possibly be surprising if the PTB weren’t omnidestructive nihilists.

      1. I might be bribing myself with “If you get this WIP done before Friday, so one of your potential beta reader pool who’s going on a trip and will have time to read it can get the full thing, then you get the shirt.”

        Because do want.

        1. I also like the new New Discourses “I am the counter culture” shirt. I couldn’t resist that one. XD

          1. Just because you can smell hippies doesn’t mean they’re anywhere near you. 😛

      2. I don’t think it’s been kept anywhere, not anywhere I could find the body, but something like thirty years ago there was some minor kerfuffle over a school child praying to a lobster … which prompted Beloved Spouse I to work out a prayer, of which this is but the start:

        Hail Lobster who art in butter,
        Hollowed be thy shell …

    2. Tyrants hate authenticity because real people love it, and it attracts people like a magnet.

      If you want to spend 2 1/2 hours of pure joy, watch JBP’s podcast with the fellow who wrote Braveheart, We Were Brothers, and some others. The dude is a Christian believer, and it’s just love and joy and connection. For 2 1/2 hours.

  15. There are things that you have to do and things that you know you should do. I lump those things together into the, “do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it” list. Being able to build habits to support all those things can be fleeting for some. Present company excepted, of course.
    But look, don’t worry too much about habits right now. The needs for different habits may change, since we’re tumbling down into the “new normal”, right? Yeah, right.

  16. Thankfully, when the great lockdown came for us, I was already part of my team’s emergency recovery plan, so I not only had a laptop that I was required to take home with me every day, but I also had a full work setup at home, with dual monitors, docking station, keyboard and mouse. So the only thing that changed for me was what time I had to get up in order to get to ‘work’ on time, since my commute changed from ‘drive 25 minutes and cross the full parking lot’ to ‘shuffle 12 feet from the bedroom door’.

    I am not a morning person. I can force myself to get up and function, but my most productive hours are from about 5PM to midnight. Left to my own devices I would sleep until 11 or noon, then stay up until 1-2 AM. Since I have yet to find an employer who will let me work those hours, I force myself to get up and do the work during the time requested. On weekends or on vacations I have a tendency to revert to my natural sleep rhythms, which makes getting up and going back to work on Monday rough sometimes, but that’s where that will power mentioned elsewhere comes into play.

    Will power and effort will get you much farther in this life than talent. That was taught to me early. These days it all seems to be ‘follow your dreams’, even if your dream is to sit at home in your underwear playing video games. If you can find someone willing to pay you to do that, go for it, but you’ll probably be better off applying a little elbow grease and finding a job you don’t actively hate to get the bills paid.

    1. These days it all seems to be ‘follow your dreams’

      Daughter: “People always say to follow your dreams, but last night I dreamt that I genetically engineered ducks to speak English, and all they did was criticize people’s fashion sense. I don’t think I want to follow that dream.”

      Me: “Well, ducks are jerks, everybody knows that.”

      1. Reason #1,894 that I love Terry Pratchett. “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

    2. I work as a SAP ABAPer. I had a full setup at home like you did but my commute was about twice yours. Worked well for a good time but the company wasn’t expecting the same output, the same productivity. They started to assign fewer jobs. Most coding is maintenance and after changes the functionals and users have to test. They became slower, Worked it, ready to test, Wait, then Wait some more, then wait. So I did other stuff while I waited. Has become hard for some jobs that will take time and that I know may not be tested for a couple months. Jobs that will take time but that will be easily tested by people that will do it quickly are a snap, no problem. That FIX of solving the problem, completing the Service Request, just isn’t there for most jobs. Not after waiting a month or more for testing. I like coding, solving problems, getting the users what they need. But I am have a tuff time getting started sometimes. The habit of getting it done, is gone because I get my part done, then wait. The day goes so much faster when I am coding, solving the problems. The coding and testing my code is becoming harder to do, more procrastinating. I know I have to do more and buckle down but it is not easy.
      For the last year, talking like this has been a large percentage of my interacting with anyone. That isn’t helping. My few friends are work friends. Just feeling sorry for myself I guess. Even this interaction helps.

      1. Not SAP programmer, but I’ve heard of it. Last job I worked was writing software for Cost Accounting Management System for small governmental departments. County, City, and more recently Federal Tribal.

        Most coding is maintenance and after changes the functionals and users have to test.

        Most? Almost ALL. At my last job, anyway. Biggest new coding I got to do there was when the old Symbol data collector couldn’t be purchased anymore and the program had to be rewritten from C to embedded C++ then eventually C#. Same simple inventory program, just moved to new code base. Then there was taking the existing custom form method to allow clients to preview, VS directly to printer or PDF, plus add new features that the old method couldn’t accommodate. Kind of new.

        Users testing and giving feedback? HaHaHaHaHa … oh wait, you are serious? No. Not a chance, if something is wrong, sure. 10 of 10 times something wrong meant the change wasn’t even installed. That stopped almost cold when we were allowed to install change on (some) clients servers. (“What company testing division? There wasn’t one.)

        Where we had issues was when we had to rely on them or a 3rd party for something. Take Fuel Cardlocks. Not a problem when client got a new system or a secondary. All was needed was the Cardlock data text file layout. That is it. Once that was available. Might take a day, if the file layout had a twist not seen before (rare, but it could happen). BUT if didn’t get the file layout … it did not get done. Period.

        Job before this one, did have testers before it was released (beyond me). They taught me, while I’m better than most, I cannot macro test software I wrote. Retired now so doesn’t matter.

        1. I got let go from Zulily.com back in 2010; I’m pretty sure because I clashed with the CTO — I said “we’re more than four guys sitting around a table and coding, we need to have real testing and we can’t ‘code review’ our own code.” He didn’t like that. At the time, “testing” was “release onto two of the ten servers and see if it breaks”. o_O

        2. I got to write scripts to update the Linux kernels in the machines at home.

          (Manual process:
          0 – see update available
          1 – download files (Ranges from 9 to 12 files with checksums)
          2 – verify files
          3 – Install/upgrade files
          4 – change the bootloader config
          5 – run the bootloader setup
          6 – reboot)

          The first bit automated steps 1,2 and 3 in separate files (each piece has three separate files; the main code, the verify key, and a text description. This could lead to 12 files for a full upgrade, and usually 9.) with variations for when portions were not available. When I went to the bleeding edge software for a couple of machines, the distribution made it a bit easier, in that two of the groups of files were already handled in their package system. Still, it turned a every-few months task into one done weekly or more often.

          So, I did a rewrite to automate it further. I created a New! Improved! configuration file so I could use the system defaults or download under local control. Combined the download and verify stages, though I’d like to set it up so that the install can happen upon an acceptable verify stage. Have to think about the bootloader config mods.

          The main bit is that I’ll have to be able to use this stuff when the bleeding edge software is released as production, with updates every few months. I used to specialize in breaking software in my career, so I should be able to come up with something robust.

    3. One girl at Occupy Wall Street was in quite a snit that her major didn’t land her a lucrative job — weren’t you supposed to follow your dreams?

      No one apparently pointed out that if she had followed her dream of a lucrative job, she would have chosen another major.

  17. 2020 managed to just about obliterate the good habits I was starting to develop…

    I was getting out and exercising at least a couple times a week, I’d gotten my bike riding up to a 10 mile ride each outing…
    And then, June 11th hit. That’s the day I broke my wrist on a ride and wound up spending the rest of the year (just about) either in a cast, in a brace, or in occupational therapy and could barely open a jar on my own.

    But, I’m trying to get back into the good habits. Trying to get on the exercise bike in the basement 2x a week and the gym 2x a week before work (but I slacked off for over a month,) and starting to plan to get the bike out on the road after work soon. No, I’m not a writer, but I’m trying to get my hobbies back on track to keep myself amused (and I just started in on a new hobby.)

    As for work, despite the fun of 2020, I’d like to say my output hasn’t appreciably declined and that despite doing IT work with one hand for a couple months…
    Or maybe that does say something about my job, that and the fact I’m writing this during the work day…

  18. [Y]ou can’t have character in solitude, aside and apart from plot.

    One of the most useful phrases in all literature is often never written but merelyimplicit: “Hmmmm, what’s he doing here?”

    If you cannot offer an answer perhaps writing is not your vocation.

    1. And what’s he going to do now that he’s here?

      Of course, How did he get here. 😀

      1. And who is that, looking on from the sidelines, saying to their companions “Hmmmm, what’s he doing here?”

                1. ce que j’ai fait, ce soir la. Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir la. realisant mon espoir. Je me lance vers la gloire

                  1. Mais pourquoi moi, pourquoi maintenant
                    Pourquoi déjà, et où aller ?
                    J’arrive, bien sûr, j’arrive
                    N’ai-je jamais rien fait d’autre qu’arriver ?

                    1. Why me, why now? Why again and where to go. Well, I was quoting Psycho Killer since it seemed we were on a Talking Heads riff. I learned to play bass from that tune. I saw them at Forrest Hillls Tennis stadium on the Stop Making Sense (83?) tour and at the Mudd Club when I was still underage. I had a thing for Tina Weymouth.

                      Life during wartime could be a theme. burn all your notebooks, what good are notebooks. They don’t help,you survive.

                    2. Heard of a van that’s loaded with weapons, packed up and ready to go.
                      Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway, a place where nobody goes.

                      — dispatches from 2023, if we’re not very very lucky

                    3. I’m good with a quote and a quip, and I put together a mean rpg world, but I am so not a creative writer. 🙂

                1. (if you can’t beat them….)
                  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
                  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
                  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

                    1. They will try their tricky device, trap you with the ordinary
                      Get your teeth into a small slice, the cake of liberty

                      Sex and drugs and rock and roll is very good indeed.

                      Perhaps you could do post on reasons to be cheerful.

                  1. Shine your light into the darkness
                    Behold and let aurora fall upon you
                    Oh, Let the storm descend upon you.

              1. And with the Huns it is not once in a lifetime.

                No matter how many nor who think it ought be.

          1. And you may say to yourself “This is not my beautiful wife.”

            You’re likelier to say this if you’re Hunter Biden.

        1. My favorite is ‘What if…’

          But whatever gets the brain activated and the gears turning. And when I hit a wall I often ask random people questions about my issue. The answer usually don’t fit with what I’ve already got, but they often spur a thought that will let me get past the wall and moving again.

          “If you were a space cop at the local equivalent of a ren faire, what costume would you wear?”

          “If you were a religiously repressed magic user, angry and bitter about your parent’s hypocrisy, how would you get back at them?”

          “If you were in a space biker gang and the government….

  19. We’ve had screaming arguments with me defending millenials while he condemns them.

    I will not defend Millennials as a group, nor will I condemn them. People are individuals and must be judged (if one must judge) individually, not assessed as representative of a group and debited (or credited) with the sins (or virtues) of their group.

    Of all the things i this world for which one is blame or praise worthy, the timing of their entry into our world is certainly among their least achievements.

    Unless you want to debate Astrology, in which case please excuse me, I have some paint drying which urgently requires my supervision.

  20. I wonder if part of the break down is also the back brain expecting the end of the world soon?

    Since things started to go nuts, it’s been one long struggle with the “why bothers?” As in, if everything I do is likely to get swept away in the flood, why bother making the bed?

    Like assorted interesting ideas, but if I make them, chances are the company will take them, or the gov’t will ban them, or some third party will take them down. Or it’s successful and the mob comes for it.

    And that’s not counting the impact of the inflation we’re likely to see.

    It feels like all the pain for none of the gain.

    1. As in, why am I busting my ass to improve my house if I’m probably going to have to flee Seattle in a few years anyway.

      I’ve noticed in the last year that I’m approaching all my cherished remodeling-and-improvement plans with a lot less enthusiasm.

      1. * Get even more inflated money? *Even if it just covers what you have to pay where you flee to?
        * Saleable faster in a downturn, which is also coming? Note * applies too.
        * Satisfaction of the job?

        1. Indeed, but there’s a qualitative difference between “I’m doing this to make my house exactly the way I want it because I’m going to live here forever” and “I’m doing this to make my house attractive to others for resale value”.

      2. Your ass busting is putting money into your future self’s bank account. That’s a big deal, if you can get your heart wrapped around it.

    2. Know this feeling. Tbh, accepting I shall die and have the ability to choose has made dealing with the last year bearable. Escape hatch so to speak.

  21. I’m working hard at building habits to keep me on track. I’ve managed to always get a prompt done and submitted and next weeks sent in by Monday evening. I’ve made that non-negotiable with myself. Now, I have to set up days for short story writing, blog posts and book writing. I’ve gone through a couple of iterations and I will keep going. If I get 2-3 weeks in a row of doing the same thing I’ll call it a victory.

  22. Something just dawned….

    Yeah, breaking a habit can hurt.

    But…. if you never had much of a habit, beyond what was imposed from outside…
    you can also be so starved for meaning that you will give yourself Marks To Hit.

    Say, “I feel worthless. Hm, this self help thing says that setting regular, objective goals can help. K, I’ll clean one room a day. I’ll get all the dishes done. I’ll make a list of Things I Must Do, and break it down into roughly the same sized things, and make a game of doing at least one a day/week. And if I do TWO, then DANG I’m good!”

  23. I get it. I broke the habit of writing daily around the time my friend and editor died. Then the kidneys did a runner. I’m hit and miss in the writing habit. So this week I said that I would start– write daily and of course, I didn’t. I’m sitting here after a walk, conversation with a resident here, and a nap– I’m contemplating my zero words on the page. *sigh

  24. Almost all of the jobs opening up in the area are jobs that I will be terrible at (food and customer service, “grunt” labor), but I am in a circumstance where I can wait a little bit.

    Most of the jobs I want, there’s people who are desperate for any jobs in the fields I’m looking at that they’re willing to take the “entry-level” positions.

    Doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped looking.

    1. While neither the wife nor I are looking, just about every restaurant in our area is hiring. When Burger King is offering a $300 hiring bonus, you know places need help.

      1. Trouble is, no one who doesn’t have to is going to take that bonus. Why? Unemployment plus the federal money sends you about $2,400 a month. For doing nothing.

        WA State is such a disaster I’ll probably be able to collect unemployment for 52 weeks. A year.

        Meantime, I’m building another life. Trying to reclaim the good habits I had. Doing the best I can, on average.

        1. Depending on the conditions to get it, I could see people who might be looking to work part-time for some extra money going for it.

          Figuring 2x 8hr shifts at the minimum wage here, ~30% going to taxes etc, by July 4th week you’d have another $500 roughly to spend.

          1. Seems legit for sure. If you can wear the muzzle there is opportunity for gain.

            1. Yeah, there’s the issue…
              It’s one of the reasons I’m NOT looking forward to the end of June (and I could see it happening sooner,) seeing as where I work is subject to the FEDERAL guidelines and FICUS Biden mandated all masks, all the time…
              And he’s probably forgotten he mandated it, so 2 years from now (if he makes it that far,) when the rest of the world is maskless (either not required anymore or just plain ignoring the mandates,) we’ll still be masking up…

        2. The owner of Portland/Seattle restaurants The Matador is apparently the local Emmanuel Goldstein for the next Two Minutes (supplanting Elon Musk) for pointing out that people have gotten lazy on Covid cash. “Yeah, how dare people want a decent wage to go back to work” seems to be the modal response. Boy, I wish I’d made the 1985 equivalent of $48K when I was a dishwasher.

          1. I am sure that customers of The Matador would complain bitterly at any increase in prices required to cover the increased labor cost — just as I am sure none of them noticed the lack of price increases when operating at one-quarter capacity yet with undiminished Fixed Costs.

            How dare anyone try to make a profit from feeding the hungry!

            1. Well, the other great sin of the Matador was a couple years ago itemizing how much of the bill was due to the local increase in the minimum wage. How dare they something something the workers something something.

    2. Then start writing TO SELL. (Not saying to write things you hate, but look towards nudging closer to what’s selling) And then write like crazy. It’s possible to make a living. And then you can live anywhere.

      1. The writing has been going badly, because every time something happens that requires adult labor/supervision around the house and a strong back-guess who gets “volunteered”?

        But, will write faster. And harder.

        1. It’s a matter of squeezing the writing into what would otherwise be your private leisure time (and making such time if necessary).

          I had that going for a while (until the wind got knocked out of my sails), and it’s when I made actual and swift progress in what I was working on.

        2. I feel your pain on the “guess who gets volunteered” part.

          I have started trying to combat it by writing during my lunch break. It’s not even a whole hour, but it’s better than a kick in the head. Of course I’m not up to writing anything worth selling yet, but if I keep practicing I’ll get there one day.

        3. What helped me put walls around my working time was respecting my own work to the proper level. This is my work. This is my time and even if I don’t much feel like it, I need to do my work.

          Adopting that attitude helps me when other people forget that the work I’m doing isn’t me on unemployment just playing around. I’ve been given this time to thrive and grow and create. And I respect the time that God’s given me to do that.

          Maybe you could look at your work and elevate it a bit higher? And show people how you really need your time and space?

  25. Everything you say is correct, and I’ve learned it the hard way in my own life, but the other factor is that it seems like low-income people are aware that a social contract has been broken. I assume in Portugal that when hyperinflation hit, it wasn’t simply from money-printing. It was printing the money and spending it on things other than for the direct benefit of a low-income person, but they are the ones who had to pay for it by adding an extra half-can of water to their Campbell’s soup to make it go further (that’s what we did in Philadelphia at that time, anyway).

    Montana and Florida told low-income people to go back to work, but if every government teacher isn’t also going to work, in person, every day, then a social contract is being broken and I understand preferring to say “f-you”.

    Or look at California where government policies result in low-income people forced to have roommates and spend 50% of their money on rent. No one is forced to live here, but if suddenly on a whim government also takes away the small businesses and then bans the right to have a beer in a bar or dance or worship, it again seems like an unspoken contract is being broken. After the past year, I understand not wanting to return to some lousy $15-an-hour job only to see half of it wasted on expensive living conditions that were needlessly created by government restrictions.

    1. Technically my retail job waits for me when the mandatory slave muzzle diktat goes away.

      Fred Meyer decided to make our 6-bin carts 9-bin carts, and reduce the time allowed to fill them. The union just wants dues, so it won’t do what it takes to reverse that decision. Mandatory overtime is just that, but they sneak it in so you just can’t go home at the end of the day because you’re in the middle of a two-hour shopping run. “Oh, we got nobody to relieve you, just hurry.”

      Yeah, nope.

  26. LARedOne, spot on! and add to that you still have to wear a muzzle but congresscritters don’t. BTW, dear BBESP, thank you for letting me know it’s not just me. I’m not lazy and hopeless, I just need to learn to work again.

  27. I took a look at the labor participation rate (the better to see through the games TPTB play with the unemployment statistics, my dear). The bad news is that we’re still about 1.5% short of where we were right before the covidiocy hit. The good news is that we’re only about 0.7% shy of where we were after the last Recovery Summer before Trump started fixing things. The interesting news is that the falloff is driven almost entirely by Whites; Hispanic and Asian labor participation is back where it was and Black participation isn’t quite caught up, but it’s well within the historic range and it’s closing the gap.

    So I think that while a small (relatively) number of people may have lost the habit of working, they’re going to be surrounded by people who either never lost it or have already regained it. And the people who are recovering fastest are the people we most need in our political coalition.

  28. Identify a closet large enough to contain a chair.

    Move all the ‘stuff’ out.

    Put a chair in.

    Screw a shelf to the wall.

    Put laptop – with no internet connection – on shelf.

    Enter closet, close door, write.

    No phone. No internet. No bookshelves. No cats. No spouse. No cleaning. No remodeling. No distractions.

        1. Hmmmm … I can recall many a time that I went some place and there was nobody there.

  29. I think you’ve violated the proximity rule by mentioning extra/special insight twice within a couple paragraphs of each other. That’s the one my Ninth Grade English teacher (a Marine Major retired out of F-4s) would hammer you for.


    1. And your ninth grade English teacher could take a hike.
      This is not an essay or edited. And that rule is not a rule. It’s at BEST a suggestion.
      I used to teach English. Trust me on this.
      It’s a boogaboo of small minds.

    2. I wasn’t aware there were any Marines who had matriculated beyond Eighth Grade, much less qualified to teach Ninth Grade English.

      I sure as heck ain’t taking writing instruction from one until they prove they can read beyond Asimov’s Lucky Star books.

      1. At least the Lucky Starr books were/are fun to read.

        Too much fiction pushed in English classes aren’t fun to read. 😉

    3. “a Marine Major retired out of F-4s”

      Well, that fits. The F-4 was designed from the ground up to prove the theory that a brick could fly with a big enough engine…… 😎

  30. Which brings us to…. uncertainty. In that climate, who the heck is going to start a business, when any minute the government could regulate you out of existence and/or your need for materials/machinery might hit at the wrong time in the cycle and strip you of all your capital?

    Raises hand: Meee! 😛 It’s not that I expect this not to go badly, it’s that this is the time I have to do this, and I HAVE to do it, whether it makes sense or not. How I wish civilization wasn’t on fire and capsizing. Nevertheless, I need to build things, REAL things, whether steel is $20 a bar or $200.

    Will be buying a welder soon, and would like to learn to do that, so I can make vacuum chambers, so I can make other things. (Dewars, plasma chambers, cryogenic pistons, any number of things.)

    1. I imagine its the same way that people start families in communist/feudal hellholes. No it doesn’t make sense – it’s a guaranteed ticket to poverty and destruction, and brings kids into an insane prison society where their lives will be hell. The alternative is also death. I suppose the people who are wired such that they can’t not start a family are why the Soviet TFR wasn’t precisely 0.

      1. You do realize that the vast majority of people who “started families in Communist hellholes” also survived the Communists. So did their kids. So did their grandkids and great-grandkids.

        As for “feudal hellholes,” there was actually a surprising amount of social mobility in feudal societies, including people on the bottom. Obviously some feudal societies were more hellholes than others (ie, large swathes of France and Germany in the late Middle Ages/Early Modern period).

      1. “The King was never a well man.”

        (The Prime Minister, after pushing the King into a well)

    2. DIY gas laser? I always thought those were nifty. Though for some reason I’ve always had a special fondness for the nutters who make their own vacuum tubes. Nothing like the cheery glow of thermionic valves on a cool evening…

  31. Why me, why now? Why again and where to go. Well, I was quoting Psycho Killer since it seemed we were on a Talking Heads riff. I learned to play bass from that tune. I saw them at Forrest Hillls Tennis stadium on the Stop Making Sense (83?) tour and at the Mudd Club when I was still underage. I had a thing for Tina Weymouth.

  32. Re: those people that reality will never un-indoctrinate. From a December 1972 article in Commentary, “The New Politics & the Democrats” by Penn Kemble and Josh Muravchik on the changes to the Democratic Party from the 1968 to the 1972 conventions.

    “The fact is, however, that the purpose of the McGovern quotas was not to make the convention more representative of the Democratic electorate as a whole, but to favor the affluent liberals within the party and to diminish the influence of its lower-middle and working-class constituents.

    Those who take up the vocation of politics, as Max Weber insisted, first must have an extraordinary amount of free time. Such time is readily available to the suburban housewives and the subsidized students who have provided so many second-level leaders and foot soldiers to the New-Politics movement—and who, in practice, are the “women” and the “young” singled out by the McGovern quotas.”

  33. Something I saw on *gack* tumblr today, which resonates with my personal brain: if you can’t flog yourself into doing chores, trick your brain with TINY BUT IMPOSSIBLY URGENT deadlines. “I have three minutes until my egg needs to be flipped. I MUST PUT EVERY DIRTY DISH INTO THE SINK before time to flip the egg!” I adore beating deadlines and this totally resonates for me. So I figured I’d share.

  34. I am trying to write every day. But today, when the dialogue didn’t flow, I thought, Oh, go see what Sarah posted recently. She writes long, interesting posts, and the comment thread is unreal and fascinating. But I had to stop reading it because I have to get back to writing. Unlike you, Sarah, I’ve never had the energy or unlimited ideas. Just doggedness. I wanted my kids to know what it took to pursue dreams. And there’s no money in it for me because I can’t market myself. But I started a trilogy, so I’m going to finish it. And my husband refuses to read any of it until I have a full draft (his tactic for the last 20+ years). It’s a wonder that my novels are at all coherent. The last one took years to finish (I too have health issues and I homeschooled three kids), but somehow it came out page turning! At this point, I’m grateful that my husband can support both of us because I’m in the hole as far as self publishing goes. And I write because I think making order out of chaos is good for me.

    1. I’m one of the worst about advertising my books, beyond, “Um, dear blog readers, there’s a new book out.” And people still found them, and passed the word, and I got readers who pop up yelling, “Hey everyone! New book is live!!!!!” before I even know. 🙂 Patience and production can work.

      1. Well, there’s something you have on me. A blog. I started off almost 15 years ago writing thoughtful book reviews at Goodreads thinking that would help me when I shelved my own titles. And I had FB pages for my books. But then I had a stalker for several years that made me wary of social media, even more than I had been. It’s also one reason that I switched to a pen name. I guess I’ll focus on the production part for now.

        1. YOu actually don’t want to do book reviews. Not if you’re a writer. First, Amazon will penalize you. Second, other people will do revenge reviews.
          ….. Again, I say onto you: do you have a discord ID? There’s someone I’d like to introduce.
          Conversely, if you’re on mewe, ping me. There’s a group I can pull you into.

          1. I was very choosy about the book reviews at Goodreads (prior to Amazon buying that site) because I didn’t want to tangle up my reviewing with the fiction that I wrote precisely because I realized that it could get me in trouble. I hardly even rate books anymore, certainly not on my new pen name profile. I’m not on MeWe, but I’ll take a look at the site. I’m also not on Discord, but my son uses it a lot so I feel comfortable trying that venue out. I’ll get back to you in a bit when I set that up. Thanks!

  35. Ah. As with the habit of writing, I need to be disciplined with the habit of learning how to use the tools at my disposal. Thanks for reminding me to tweak the keywords at Amazon. It seems less like procrastination if it’s activity geared toward getting my work seen.

    Btw, thanks for sharing it a few weeks ago, Sarah. I actually sold a handful of copies! I assume that you get a little bit from Amazon for that.

    As a mother of three young adults who always tried to have a disciplined schedule with flexibility (we didn’t copy public school at home), I’ve long worried about their ability to be productive. When the eldest was 16, I despaired. But she’s unbelievably disciplined now. In fact, she amazed the heck out of me with the load she carried in undergrad. And her current employer can’t believe that she’s doing the job of 2. But then there’s her younger sister, who has worked her tail off for a healthcare firm in Washington State doing admin work (that’s all she could get after graduating college last June) only to find that her company has done a terrible job at its contract work with the local county government — often leaving her to clean up messes that she’s inexperienced at handling. She told her sister that she’s worked long enough to get unemployment now. I’m flabbergasted and disappointed. I know she has goals in life (already engaged and dreaming of a house), but she doesn’t seem to understand that she can’t afford to slack off, especially now.

    I guess the point is that it remains to be seen what the last year will do to those members of a young generation who were already largely undisciplined (that is, those who think college is for delaying adulthood).

  36. 275 Comments? Pretty good for a Monday post! Be sure to stay tuned for the sequel: Son of Habitually.

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