When The Ground Moves

Being in an Earthquake is an interesting phenomenon. The only one I went through awake, I’d just hit the stairs, on stocking feet (mom’s stairs are very polished highly varnished mahogany) at a run, to answer the phone. I was holding the banister. And yeah, I shouldn’t have been running on the stairs, in my stocking feet. Except I had done it hundreds of times in the past. And never fallen. I knew how to position my feet, so I didn’t slip. I was fine.

And then suddenly the ground went off from under my feet. The rail shook the other way. I tried to balance and hold, but the things I counted on weren’t there.

I was airborne. And then I was landing. Fortunately on my behind, which is padded. I was lucky. Nothing broken, but it hurt to sit for a week.

Some years ago, I started noticing a weird phenomenon.

Most of my friends were somewhere between 50 and 65, and times were unstable — kind of like now, but a little slower — and people would get laid off. When that happened, they seemed to become paralyzed.

It was bizarre to watch.

I mean, this often happens to young people, laid off for the first time often have that issue, because they simply don’t know how to look, or where to apply, and are scared.

But these were people with years and years of experience jumping between jobs, finding work, being productive.

And suddenly…. they weren’t. They couldn’t even get up and look. Even as finances got strained, most of them continued derping in place. Heck, you could throw them offers, and they would let them slip, or hesitate a lot before taking them.

I thought it was depression, and we did what we could to cheer them up. Most of the time it didn’t work.

It took me years to figure out what the real problem was. And yeah, I had to live through it. I’m only now, slowly, emerging from it. And yes, it’s hitting friends who are “laid off” from writing too.

You see, it’s not depression, though in the beginning at least it might have elements of it. It’s actually shock. Paralysis coming from shock.

They are in shock because they never saw the layoff coming. They have experience, they’ve been laid off before, just like I’d tripped on the steps before. They know the signs. They also know how to look once it falls, but suddenly ….

It’s all different. Their field might not exist at all, or exist in a form so different they can’t quite conceptualize it.

And they feel betrayed, and don’t know the way to go on.

Yeah, I lived through this as I got “laid off” from Baen. Over the years I’d built my identity as a writer into Baen. I was a Baen author. At signings we tended to sit together. Most of my friends were with the house.

For at least two years I knew it made me less money than going indie, but I felt I owed the house something, and all my friends were there.

And then — whammo. Earthquake.

And you’re at the bottom of the stairs, on your butt going “But what happened?”

Mind you this is still somewhat of a mystery, but what isn’t a mystery is that I was stunned, stupified, and it’s taken me three? four? five, I guess, years to even come close to normal functioning. (And the return of my IP helped.)

I know what to do. I have the tools. I’ve done the research.

But still, even now, somewhere within, my mind is going “but why do I have to start again?” Because of course, we expect a certain roadmap and feel out of it when it stops being there. It’s not… natural. And the older you get, the more ideas you have of what is, or should be, natural.

The problem is that over the next two/three years, and for good or ill, everyone’s roadmap is going to change. And for most people their career and daily routine as well.

Which means for those of us on the lee (and slidy) side of fifty, it’s going to be hard.

All I can tell you is it’s easier to be prepared, to be ready for the bump. To be braced. You might still fall, if the shake is big enough. But you’ll be ready.

And it’s easier as if, as for every major traumatic (happy or not) event, you have a plan. That’s why women make “birth plans” because it helps to feel at least a little in control. And that’s why you have routines.

So, prepare now. Make sure you have “Well, if I lose my job/house/town/family” this is the first thing I do. And this is the second. And–

We might not have control over what will hit us. That’s at a level beyond our control.

But we can control the aftermath. And cover our butts with a pillow, so they don’t hurt quite so badly.

Now is the time to do it. when planning food storage, and the worst case scenario, prepare for medium-bad too.

What if you lose a job? What if your spouse does? What if you have to help your parents/children/siblings.

It might seem impossible to survive, but it never is. Make lists. What do you do first? What are your secondary skills people might pay for? etc, etc, etc.
In the end, “never give up, never surrender” should be the motto of life.

Have a plan. Have two. Have three. And be prepared to keep on going when the worst happen and plans one and two fail.

You’re capable of more than you think you are. So are most people.
Be not afraid. And keep battling on.

160 thoughts on “When The Ground Moves

  1. “Have a plan. Have two. Have three. And be prepared to keep on going when the worst happen and plane one and two fail.‘
    Yes, I remember being paralyzed watching those two planes fail in New York. (Except for one funny letter typo, a great essay, Thank you Sara.)

    1. Good Lord. I went to bed immediately after writing this, without writing for MGC because ALL the writing was like this. But this typo escaped me. sigh.

  2. I know it’s none of my business or anything but since I’m dying to ask, I will; What happened at Baen? I went to their site some months ago and looked at the submission policy, when I got to the part which in effect said, ‘send up a manuscript and we might get back to you in a year.’ I let it go. I ain’t got years to wait. How does a publishing house lay off an author? If you have a post on this in the archives please let me know I don’t want to take up your time rehashing the wheel.

    1. Generally speaking (yes, I’m not Sarah), a publisher “lays off an author” by no longer considering the author’s books for publication (after a period of mainly accepting the author’s books).

      As for Why a publisher “lays off an author”, there are various reasons.

      As for Why Baen “laid off Sarah”, that’s Sarah’s “story” to tell and I don’t believe she thinks it’s worth telling. Sarah’s main concern was getting her book rights back and she got those back.

    2. F*cked if I know. From rumors that have reached me, someone at the office TRULY disliked me. I mean, right after talking to Toni about relaunching DST and everything else, she stopped answering my calls and someone at the office was telling barflies I would never publish with Baen again. (GLOATINGLY, mind.) Yes, I know who it was, but I see no point picking a fight.
      At the time I thought he was nuts, but it turns out he was right. In the fall of 2018, after much ghosting, I was told I could fulfill extant contracts, but I’d never sell to them again. And now I seem to be blackballed from anthologies also.
      I honestly am baffled by this.
      AFTERWARDS I did point out if they didn’t return my IP I would have recourse to law but only after my letters requesting reversal weren’t answered.
      So, two years ago, on my bday, I got letters reversing the IP.
      And THAT”S all I know.
      I honestly have NO clue. I should point out that I am singularly unable to understand/catch onto office politics.
      And yeah, okay, I’m probably better indie. Rhodes, which is a very short book, made me 5k more than I ever made from any Baen book.
      BUT… well, my identity was caught in it and I never saw it coming.
      So– That is what it is.

      1. What I mean is I MIGHT HAVE done something to deserve it, or at least they might have thought so, because I’m so bad at reading people, and I run my mouth here everyday, and it wouldn’t be the first time I run my mouth on something that someone IS SURE is something related to them.
        There is someone in SF/F who hates me with undying passion, because he was one of the least known Dragon nominees, had campaigned for it, etc.
        I did a post directly in answer to fans asking why I wasn’t campaigning for the dragon, and he thought/someone told him I was attacking him.
        I still don’t remember his name, and I’d never heard of him until he did this big post attacking me and calling me names, and someone sent it to me.
        Could something like that have happened with the Baen office? Sure. I’m clueless,okay? And besides I’d already put a fire out because one of my fans said something and they thought I’d told him something I wasn’t supposed to tell. (I hadn’t. He’d got it through some other channel, because barfly rumor mill runs 24/7.) But, you know…. Could it have happened again, and I was so busy with other stuff it never registered with me/I never heard of it? Sure.
        In the end it doesn’t matter. In other times, it would be end of career. Now? I just need to shake myself off and start working again.

        1. The fundamental thing is, you have a bunch of crazy people who post here *cough cough*, and some of them have at times paid very intense attention to the Baen Books publishing company.

          This isn’t the bar, and hence does not have the somewhat official and in olden days quite light censorship of speech considered harmful to the business interests of Baen.

          Authors and publishers at times do disagree vehemently.

          Some of these disputes have been waged using sockpuppets and deniable information campaigns.

          Especially to someone who naturally uses a deniable information campaign, comments here and or MGC by people who are not you could be interpreted in that light.

          Even if those here were simply crazy people, seeing things that were not really patterns or there at all.

          1. I never see those things coming, so it was a massive shock. I was cognizant that the market being what it is for trad, the day might come they would have to stop publishing me. But I didn’t expect the hostility.

      2. someone at the office was telling barflies I would never publish with Baen again. (GLOATINGLY, mind.) Yes, I know who it was, but I see no point picking a fight.

        Who thinks this is a good idea (the bragging, not the not picking a fight).

        Are there really so many writers who want to be published by Baen (or Tor or DAW or…) anymore that bragging about destroying an author’s relationship with the public because you don’t like that is a good idea. Don’t they realize other potential authors see that and think “uhm, maybe I don’t want to go there”?

        Or is this a “can’t see second-order effects” thing?

        1. These SJW behavior adjacent folks aren’t silently working in private for the greater glory of God.

          Nor is it necessarily for personal gain in the financial sense either.

          Forex, a rapist might prefer that their victim be aware of the act, because for that rapist observing the reaction, the victim’s emotional experience, is part of the joy.

          It seems like a lot of the SJW adjacent criminals are a similar sort of deviant violator.

          So the bragging may have been part of the motivation.

          It also seems like a lot of sexual predators like to destroy the innocence of and violate the boundaries of more than simply their preferred direct victims. Recruiting enablers, disturbing equilibrium by exposing people to pornography, etc. Some of this sort would be overconfident when it comes to recruiting helpers for ‘cutting out’ targets at Baen.

        2. Once upon a time, I was very set on being published by Baen. I gave them first crack, and I had a established Baen author help me with my submission. Radio silence ensued and continues to this day.

          Thus, I am published indy instead. Going from Sarah’s experience, I do believe I dodged a bullet.

          1. They are still the best in the field.
            It’s just a psychotic field.
            Also going by Sarah’s experience on anything is not a good idea. I REALLY am awful at peopling in business situations. An almost complete lack of self-confidence and extreme conflict avoidance (no, seriously) become a problem.

        3. It’s a combination of self-aggrandizement and bullying. “See how powerful I am (and you’d better not cross me).”

          They don’t really care about Baen, it’s just a means to an end. It does leave an open question of why anyone at Baen would give them that power.

          1. Baen used to be a house I trusted, as in it was the only one I’d pulled in a regular bookstore without internet research first.

            Oh, well. I’m sure Twitter and Locus will keep them making enough cash to have jobs. No, seriously, it seems that way. Popular culture, at least by large corporations, can find enough customers people like us really don’t matter. It’s one reason I don’t complain about service anyway not locally owned.

    3. As I understand it, what’s happening at Baen is similar to other publishers, just not nearly as hard, fast, enthusiastic, brutal… whatever words you want for “but not nearly as much.”

      It’s hard to do business when every other sub-group in the field is waaaaaay out of step and enthusiastic about enforcing it.

      1. Toni seems to have made a u-turn in an attempt to save the house. This doesn’t affect me, or my blackballing, apparently, but I hope it saves them. Too many of my friends work for them for me to wish them gone.

        1. Haven’t seen any of the woke crap that was infecting the baen ebooks main page a while back lately. A good thing, that. There are still good folks at Baen. I sincerely hope they get back to not giving a flying fsk about politics of any stripe and just do the book thing.

          Any time you apologize to the woke, they attack harder. Therefore Eff them and the transgendered gimp masked pygmy nonbinary pustulant pedophiliac pink haired and p*ssy hatted horse-kin they rode in on. Metaphorically speaking.

        2. When Toni got canceled as a guest I bought every single Baen book at the local BAM to support the house.

          Now? Now I wait until Larry’s Black Sword books show up at the paperback exchange so I can continue the series. I’m madder at them than Tor for the same reason Chik-fil-a no longer gets any business, being too embarrassed to dance with who brung you.

  3. Falling and getting physical damage isn’t fun and can hurt your self confidence. Getting laid off after 20-40 years is the same thing psychologically. Have experienced both of those as well as cancer diagnoses in 2016 (4.5+ years cancer-free) and 2021 (should be 6 months cancer-free will know Monday).

    Humor helps better than brittleness.

  4. Another quake is losing a spouse. You two have kind of discussed what will happen, but not really, seriously visualized it. Then it happens and you sort of swim, then try to float, then swim again. The spark that made the house a home is really gone. You make a little shrine to her and the great memories, but that is temporary at best. Now you have to decide what you’re going to do, and yes, your butt hurts. At least good friends and some of your relations are still there, that keeps the cracks from widening. And boxes, you need boxes. Why, because much of what is in what was a home is going elsewhere. Stepdaughters, donations, … you’ve got books, and books, and books. Some of them need to go. CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, awards, and on and on. The aftershocks from little things acquired in a happy time. And yes, it’s a lot like being laid off the first time. It’s even worse when you can see it coming, but there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.

    27 years ago I couldn’t imagine what was headed my way. Today I still can’t imagine what’s coming, because it’s a sure bet I don’t have a crystal ball. I missed 2016 completely, and I’d like a do over for 2020.

    1. Even secondary. They say, well a lot of things. But they say “don’t do anything for a year”. But you can’t wait a year. SS won’t let you wait a year. Spouse’s retirement won’t let you wait a year. Don’t think you can wait a year on the IRA … I do not want to discuss utilities, etc.

      We keep meaning to make a list of items that have to be done, when, how, here are the contacts. Here are the passwords … well the latter IS done and paper stored. For each other, for our son.

      OTOH mom has done this for me. All I want to do is plug my ears and say “La La La La …” I helped mom with some of it after dad died; well I was there to take over the phone when she burst into tears. Dang phone company. Everything was in dad’s name. That is what happened in 1963. They hadn’t moved since then.

      Sorry for your loss.

    2. wsbriggs would like your comment, but I really want a sympathy icon instead. Lost my wife of 41 years last May. The place is still full of her stuff even after I got rid of a lot. So many things are still in both our names. Gave away a lot of stuff, and still much more to go even before I get myself to dispose of her jewelry. Still putting off taxes although I know I shouldn’t. Covidiocy hasn’t helped. I know she’s up there roaming the countryside in an open Jeep with her childhood dog and our 10 cats vying for her lap. Take care, you’ll meet again.

  5. Much talk lately of “prepping,” mostly as it pertains to food, self defense, resisting tyranny, etc.

    Here’s the thing about Life on This Planet – every #@&% day is “prepping” for something.

    People discuss “life plans” over coffee, then go back to whatever it was they’ve always done. I have perpetually recommended doing a SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – a good one cannot be done quickly because it’s very involved, and it needs to be kept current, meaning at least annually, probably semi-annually, and the way things are now maybe even reviewed quarterly .

    Do it right and you’ll see the Options List, running from “highly likely” down to “only if the sun is shining and the wind is from the west” and those options will exist in every single category.

    Old joke: The crusty old senior enginner was working at his desk when the staff ran into his office screaming and crying; scientists had discovered a giant meteor that was going to strike earth in 24 hours, knocking the planet out of its orbit and push it into the sun, destroying all life. Without looking up the old engineer pointed to his bookshelf and said “second shelf, blue binder, section 4.”

    When you can do that with your life on a daily basis you’ll still suffer the shocks, even from the expected stuff as well as the unexpected; they will still stun you, they will still hurt, they will still leave you dazed and confused, but only for a little while if you have the tools to stay resilient. One of the tools is mindset, which has to be developed, most of us are not born with it.

    buttebillButte Bill (above) has it – run with Plan A daily, but have Plan B, and Plan C, and Plan D, and Plan E in your hip pocket and don’t be afraid to Chinese menu the plans – one piece from B, two pieces from D, maybe a couple from E and F.

    1. I’ve felt two. One was on my first visit to California (to hear Michael Crawford as the Phantom of the Opera). I realized what was happening and thought, “Wow! Neat, the real California experience.” The second time I was in Amarillo. Saturday morning, and Athena T. Cat dove off the bed. I sort of blinked, felt things roll like being in a boat, and then it stopped. The epicenter was in Oklahoma. No damage at RedQuarters.

    2. I lived in California long enough to get the “shaken, not stirred” experience a fair number of times. After the Loma Prieta earthquake (the one that took the SF Bay Bridge out as well as collapsing a major freeway, killing 60 some people), anything else qualified as minor. My cats took residence on the roof for a week; the slow-cooked roast that ended up on the kitchen floor (along with the remains of the cooker) held no attraction to them.

      FWIW, my first earthquake was felt in Chicago. My folks were visiting at a university in southern Illinois when the New Madrid fault burped. They were in a hanger, and it felt like an elevator. 300 miles further north, it was like a big truck was going down the road.

      Cali earthquakes when I was in bed were entertaining. One had me feeling like the gearshift knob on a 4 speed as a kid was a going hell for leather.

      Economic earthquakes, that’s a different story. Later.

      1. I was about 15 miles from the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge quake. Trailer hopped up and down for 30 seconds, but miraculously did not come off its blocks. Realized we might not have water for a while so went out to collect all I could out of the pipes, and the dogs were like… Why are you up at this hour? some of ’em didn’t even wake up.

        Someone could probably beat that into a metaphor for failing to feel the economic heaving…

    3. We were living NW of Pasadena when the Whittier Narrows quake shook things up pretty good. I stood in the bedroom doorway (okay, I braced myself between the door jambs) and watched the house RIPPLE from end to end to end. When the shaking finally stopped, we went outside and stood in the side yard to be “safe”. Until I looked up and realized there were three big power cables criss-crossing directly over our heads. So we went back inside, calmed the frantic cats, and just patiently waited out the aftershocks.

      I experience a few more in various places I’ve lived, but that was the most memorable.

    4. The one in 2020 in Utah was like being on the ocean for me. The ground was moving like a boat does.

  6. Only barely germane to the topic, but true story left for cheering-up purposes: way back when, we were living in a small house in Durham, NC. The Kid was five, being home-kindergartened, and *fascinated* by weather and geology. So of course she kept asking about it.

    “Mommy, what do we do if there’s a hurricane?” So I told her about protecting windows, showed her where we’d go, all that stuff. Two days later, a hurricane came close enough that the storms were literally shaking our house.

    Couple weeks later, “Mommy, what do we do if there’s a tornado?” So I took her down to the basement, told her about protecting her head, the usual safety stuff. Two days later? Tornado.

    There was a small but blessed pause. “Mommy, what do we do if there’s an earthquake?” “We don’t get earthquakes down here, but if we DID, here’s what we’d do…” TWO DAYS later? Earthquake.

    …she is not allowed to ask about volcanoes, meteors, blizzards, or UFOs. Ever.

    1. Our first summer on the road we encountered: flooding; hail; more hail and a storm with a tornado wrapped in it: more floods; a heat wave (in Minnesota); more storms; an earthquake (in New Jersey!); and a hurricane. Toward the end of the trip I listed the events and said, “What next? Volcanic eruption?” To which my beloved replied (in a fake British accent), “Oh, shut up.”
      Thankfully, we’ve spent 10 summers on the road now and no volcanic eruption. There was the plague year, of course….(and yes, we were out there in 2020. We had to change our itinerary, but we got out).

    2. So today she is going to ask about civil war, carrington events, and the rising of Ry’leh, quiaf.

            1. My definition of “Great” Democrats resembles General Sheridan’s definition of “Good” Indians.

                1. Good point. When it comes to huge and terrifying, many in Congress fit the bill all too well.

    3. My last airport job, my Supe was former Air Force, and was relating his phobia of earthquakes. He’d been stationed at Travis and had a fear of earthquakes to begin with, then he was there for the Loma Prieta quake and requested transfer. He ended up in Spain somehow, and sure enough, a quake hit while he was there, then he got transferred to somewhere in North Carolina, and I started giggling. He pointed an accusatory finger at me , but I sure wasn’t at fault for him not knowing there could be quakes in NC.

      1. I grew up in California, went through a couple of earthquakes – a small one in Pasadena, when I was about seven, which for a few moments felt like Granny Jessie’s house had been fitted with roller skates. Then the 1971 Sylmar quake, which was heavier, longer – and noisier. Gosh, it was noisy! It felt like standing in a railway station with a fast train zooming through.
        Then four years in Japan, which was so seismically active that we all got rather used to it. At the radio/tv station, we were blasé about them, until it shook so badly that the rolls of teletype paper began to fall from the shelves. That would send us all running for the exit, since the building was about 125 feet from a 125-foot tall water tower with very spindly legs. No one wanted to be in a building full of powered-up electrical gear when a full water-tank fell on top of it…
        Fun times, fun times…

        1. Growing up overseas in the Ring of Fire, I went through plenty of earthquakes. Then, we were living in Oregon when the MLK Day quake hit about 5:30 in the morning. I woke up, went “oh, that’s an earthquake,” looked up and checked to make sure there was nothing that was going to fall on me, then rolled over and went back to sleep. The next day I discovered that my friends were freaked out…

      2. Really? I was stationed at Travis at the same time; 60th Transportation Squadron, Vehicle Maintenance. I was at home watching the game and wolfing down supper prior to heading to one of my college classes when I saw the camera jumping all over the place. Switched to the news and about a minute or so later the waves hit the base. I stood in the doorway and watched the telephone poles sway, wires bounce, and actually rather enjoyed the ride. A minute or so later the news studio in Sacramento got hit and I laughed at the anchors’ antics.

        I think it would take a quake opening up huge holes in the ground to really get me worried. Or a tsunami while I’m at sea level.

        1. Did you know Craig Wilson, an A&P from LaPlace, LA. I think he grew up in LaPlace but I might be forgetting. Big guy, black.
          The contract maintenance guy was always on him to get his civilian A&P cert and go work for them. Only two guys did all the airline contract work at MSY, so they were kept very busy. Craig was one of the better Supes I work under. I last talked to him after Katrina, to see how he fared.

          1. May have run into him at some point. Travis is a BIG base, and a buttload of folks working in aircraft maintenance. Also possible we might have crossed paths if he went through tech school at Chanute in fall of 1977. I’m pretty terrible at names for people I don’t see frequently. Guess I need what RAH called a Farleyfile to keep track of the 100,000+ people I’m met over the years.

    4. For God’s Sake! Let her ask about UFOs!

      And make sure she reads the previous postings on dragon slaying. I’d love to read that SSS’s daughter befriends/vanquishes aliens and takes possession of their starship.

    5. …she is not allowed to ask about volcanoes, meteors, blizzards, or UFOs. Ever.

      “Mommy, what if the Hunter tracks down the Avenger?”

      (Which happened yesterday. Saved the game on the first turn an will have to try to play it when I have more time. It can take a LONG time to get through that mission.)

    6. She needs to ask: “Mommy, what happens if Nancy Pelosi discovers Hillary Clinton’s secrets?” Two days later, Nancy Pelosi will be discovered dead of an supposed suicide.

      1. Three shotgun blasts to the back of the head, worst case of suicide they ever saw…

      1. …And then you get all the disasters you just explained at once, two days later. Murphy won’t let you off THAT easy. 🙂

        Better plan: encourage her to save her questions for when you’re making short visits to people you don’t like. If you’re lucky Murphy will target them instead, and you’ll be long gone. 😉

  7. Sarah is very correct – ‘earthquakes’ of all kinds happen. So… I’m in my middle 50’s and I get informed by my employer of just over two decades that my position is being “RIFed” a nice reduction in force idea that put me into needing a job. The same day I got notice of that – I also got my 20 year award from the company! I spend several years doing contracting, getting and being laid off from a couple of really good positions (earthquake aftershocks??) and finding that experience means age and the average 29 year old HR type ain’t interested in an old goat like me.
    I hit 59 and fate smiles on me and I get a wonderful job! Sure, I’m broke and have to move but it all works out. The job is great until it isn’t so, I work the numbers, look at my pension (another blessing I was lucky to have) situation and at just shy of 67 retire and walk away.
    During the time I did lots of jobs trying to just survive the initial earthquake I too saw a bunch of fellow travelers in the 50-60 range that just couldn’t move on. Somehow I dodged that and was able to push through and re-establish my work self and continue.
    This taught me to have plans B, C, D etc. as none of them ever work out the way you expect. Stay flexible and work with the changes and don’t try to fight them. To quote the goofy movie: “Never Surrender, Never Give Up!” The wife, the pup and I are in a good place now but we review and adjust plans on an ongoing basis so any new earthquakes that hit we can ride out.

        1. It also works because it’s a love letter to Star Trek and fandom. It’s not snarking and belittling; it tells exactly the kind of story we want — imperfect heroes growing past their weaknesses to come together as a team and save the day — while acknowledging, “Yeah, this is goofy, but you don’t care because it’s also enjoyable.”

    1. I got a good dose of economic earthquakery around Y2K. In 2000, my long term employer (Hewlett-Packard) decided to split the legacy portion of the company from the computer side. We got called Agilent. At about the same time, my then-SO (now $SPOUSE) was laid off from her long term job at $MAJOR_SEMICONDUCTOR_INC. She went through some barely-useful retraining, then found a gig doing much like she did at $MSI for $SLEAZY_CO. That lasted until she couldn’t take it any more, at which point we combined households into Casa RC.

      Meanwhile, the boss of our group (a semiconductor operation within HP, lumped into the Agilent mix) kept planning for the great explosion of The Web. Just in time for the Dot Com Boom to turn into the Dot Com Bust. I was in the first wave of those laid off, along with others maybe just a bit too young to file an age discrimination suit. (I separated a few weeks before my 49th birthday.)

      The job search was interesting. This was a perfect storm. Semi manufacturing was being offshored to SE Asia (my coworkers found their jobs going away, and eventually Agilent sold that part of the business). The only portion of the industry that was healthy at the time was in RF circuits, of which I knew nuthin’. Then 9/11 happened, and what was left of the industry went scared-turtle.

      Except for a company I had dealt with before. Their rep called, asking me if I’d be interested in a consulting gig for them. They were trying some new functionality in their hardware, and needed a calibration solution. It was within my skill set, and yep, I was interested. The job paid well until it couldn’t (the vendor went toes up, losing their bet on the Dot Com Boom)f, but I was able to use the pay for useful things.

      The main thing was a renovation of the house in California. I did some of the work while doing the consulting gig, but when the vendor and the consultancy team went away, I did the house work full time. It took about a year of work to redo much of the house, at which point we sold it and moved to rural Oregon. We’ve been here since late 2003; considered moving closer to Flyover Falls, but the real estate market is overwhelmed by another wave of expat Californians. So, here we stand. We can do no other.

      Moral of the story: Being current in your day job is important, but being able to swing a hammer, dig a hole, saw a board and draw up plans might be more important. Not to mention growing your own food.

  8. One of my friends calls me “The Worst Case Scenario” girl. She gave me the board game for my birthday once. She also told me she knows where to go if Mr. Worst Case comes to visit. She thinks it’s hilarious that I’ve got alien invasion plans, zombie apocalypse plans, and wolverine plans (Wolverines!). None of them I want or look forward to. I just have to have a plan, that’s all.

    Today I’m going to buy baby formula at the store, because I might be around a baby if Mr. Worst Case comes along. I hadn’t put that in stores, and now I will. Thank you, Sarah.

    1. Army ants I’m prepared for. A massive CARPENTER ant invasion where the ground is black with them for miles? I’m afraid the old Houst Hacienda would be just an appetizer for them.

  9. This post was so dead on that I turned off my podcast to read it.

    The shock lasts for years and years, and it’s really helpful to read Sarah’s version of it, how it throws you, how nothing seems right or proper anymore. Looking for work at 62? Yeah, the system is different, and sometimes all I can do is just look around and take a deep breath.

    It’s really hard, and lonely, but it’ll be OK.

    1. If you’re still looking and you’re within commuting distance of the Moscow/Pullman area, take a look at Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL). They have a reputation as a very good company to work for and are hiring for a variety of jobs. I just heard that they’re putting on a recruiting event, looking to hire 100 assemblers for $19/hr starting wage. Trying to get my son to apply.

      Anyway, good luck with everything—from one Usaian to another.

  10. Sitting up here atop the world I’ve been through a number of quakes a flood, a fair amount of -40° cold and quite a few expected, and unexpected job changes.

    Plans, backup plans, get ahead and just get by plans are good to have in place but sometimes you just have to muck your way through whatever.

    It helps if you realize that doing just that, mucking your way through, is something we humans are quite excellent at doing.

      1. This, even if it’s not for paying work. There are three outbuildings on our property that started as a pile of materials. There are a couple of others contracted out–I’m not that crazy, or capable. As we get older, more of the work gets done by others, but I’m still acquainted with a shovel and hammers.

      2. I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of job opportunities for uninjected people in a few years.

  11. — Make sure you have “Well, if I lose my […] family” —
    This is one I didn’t expect to have to grapple with, but wow, the vaccine really caused divisions. The emotional pressure to take the shots from certain members was intense, and tactics included lies about safety, ostracism from Thanksgiving dinner, shaming, emotional blackmail, and going behind my back to try to convince easily-influenced vulnerable people to get the shots.

    At the height it became militant support for the government forcing the shot into everyone. I refuse to allow this and it led to dark imaginings about civil war and figuring out which side each family member would be on, and how to deal with it. They were probably wondering the same thing, from their side.

    As people continue to drop dead from the shots, it’s gotten better. One female relative, formerly a promoter of “vaccination”, was hyperventilating last week because she dreads getting boosted, but it’s that or get discharged from the Army, thus crushing her plans to pay for education and get a home loan.

    Still, in fifteen or twenty years as I ease into my seventies, do I want these same people around me, influencing medical care? Maybe they are learning a lesson, but how does one know.

    1. Re: your later medical care. Write an aggressively overly detailed advance directive for your medical care in as many circumctances as you can imagine, then take it to a lawyer to ensure that it is in prpper form, enforceable, etc.
      Deposit copies with your doctors, nearby hospitals, abbulance companies, friends, relatives, etc.
      Have named 2d and 3rd people to take over as your Medical Representative, and include their contact info.
      Then hope for the best.

      1. If you have a religious community leader you can trust, give them a copy as well.

      2. And make sure the most obnoxious, bossy person you know has a copy, telling them that you *know* they can trust their dedication to get people to listen to it.

        Hospitals can and have neglected legally binding living wills/treatment wills when they want to listen to a relative instead, but handing a karen a hammer and saying you have faith in their ability to enforce it is REALLY effective. 😀

  12. The shock is real, comparable to the shock of being told you have cancer, and it helps a ton to have loving family around….Re fighting–one reason I have played tournament chess and taught chess to children is that in chess you have to fight, no matter how objectively bad your position may be…you MUST fight, and many times that will turn things around…. but even if it doesn’t, you fought to the end and earned the respect of everyone, and most importantly, yourself..

  13. So what are people thinking this will look like during and after the dust settles? I know a lot of large companies can’t seem to get workers, and a lot of smaller businesses were not able to navigate the legal maze of covidiocy, and folded.

    What does tomorrow look like? Stock piles are good for short term disruptions, but this seems like a systems shift, not a short term bump in the road.

    1. I see a set of regional economies, linked by certain things (oil pipelines, telecommunications). A far more distributed power grid in some areas. More local production of things that can be produced locally. A lot more cash and barter and swap-work for a generation or two, because the financial institutions will have (with help) made themselves somewhat untrustworthy. More regional self-reliance. And alas, a more insular society, where it is harder to relocate and establish yourself because “I don’t know your people.”

      1. So things become more a case of ‘I know a guy who knows a guy’?

        It sounds very tribal in its way. I wonder what will for the nucleus and interfaces of these tribes though? Possibly any sort of social network, but it needs to be ones where people are in physical contact with each other to be sustaining.

            1. Wouldn’t that make YOU the tribal matriarch?

              And here I thought you weren’t a fan of matriarchy. 😛

      2. That’s what I see happening as well – people, who know people, who work with people … quietly getting things done.
        And a lot of regional/independent state reliance on their own resources, and telling the Federals to go pound sand.

    2. I suspect it will look much like it did pre WuFlu. Perhaps a bit less just in time but we need to remember that inertia is the most powerful force in human affairs.

      1. Possibility. One thing that’s rocked my faith in the system is discovering that more than one exchange has been, apparently, doing illegal things and getting away with it. Apparently the nickel crazy on the LME was another GME type short squeeze, and it sounds like the LME broke its own rules to protect one of their large investors from the hit.

        My prior plans had been to work at my large corp, and dump my retirement into index funds until retirement, but if the markets are going to rob the small investor to protect the big ones, that doesn’t feel like a tenable plan anymore. I don’t have a better one yet, but I’m trying to figure out where, and how much to hedge against that.

        I doesn’t particularly help that the large corps have also damaged their credibility as well. There are a number of industries, beyond the news, where credibility is required to the product, and I’m concerned the major players in my entire industry have been abandoning that for short term gains. It’s going to bite them, and everyone who works for them, hard, inertia or not.

        1. The thing to keep an eye on is the expected return calculation in any pensions you have and, very important, what your local public pension plan has. At current prices, the return expectations are, well, ridiculous. That means all the public pensions are underfunded and that money will come from tax. 6.5% is what my small sample testing is showing. that means 10%+ equity returns. I have no idea where they think those are coming from.

          China Is now providing direct support for its markets and US listed Chinese firms are up 27% today. This is a short squeeze of world historic levels. I suspect it won’t work in the longer run though, China simply doesn’t have the money to back up all the things they need to back up. they’ll have to print, which means inflation, which in China means food riots. Things are bad.

          Don’t get me started on nickel or GameStop or any of the other monkeyshines. We were bought and sold for Chinese gold, what a parcel of rogues in a nation.

          1. Yeah, for us its just a 401K with employer matching up to a certain percentage of salary. The 401K groups just keep wanting to stuff everything into government bonds which have an expected yield of basically nothing.

            I’d been going with a large cap index fund on the assumption that I don’t know enough, or have enough personal interest in dealing with anything more complex than ‘a little bit of a lot of things’ and betting the overall stock market will be better tomorrow than it will be today.

            But, seeing the shenanigans going on has rather shook my faith in that.

            I’m still in the middle of my career, and I figure I’m probably going to want to be working at something until I am not able to. Both my grandfather’s did pretty much the same thing, and my old man is doing the same. (Writing, ironically enough. Through non-fiction, I’m his case.)

            I’m also thinking of all those reporters and pundits who, no matter how much they loved what they did, are slowly riding the news industry down the drain, and wondering if my industry is about to start the same self-immolation.

            That said, the reporters and pundits who are surviving are the ones who kept their integrity, and took it independent, so perhaps my best hedge is to prepare to do that in my own field? The books are still happening, but that’s the sort of thing I can work as a side hobby.

            In that vein, I’m thinking the best hedge is to add the equipment and stuff for greater self sufficiency, and start digging into how to take the core stuff I do at big corp independent, if it comes to that.

            Guess it’s time to buy power tools, garden stuff and a good 3D printer?

            1. There’s really not much more you can do. The jump from 60/30/10 using index funds and active management is huge, it has to be your job with the steep learning curve that involves. The big thing is not to pay for active management and get index fund returns.

              You could do a little better by using style/size ETF’s so you don’t de facto end up with a quarter of your portfolio in 5 names,,like now. Capitalization weighted index funds tend to load you up with expensive names at the top. Vanguard has ‘em, others do too. Do your homework though, my risk tolerance and involvement is not your’s.

              The big thing in todays environment is that you’ll have to save a lot more because you probably won’t get the returns we used to get. Valuation yeah, but mostly demographics.

              Staying out of debt is the best thing I can think of. Unless you plan to farm, the vegetable garden won’t produce enough to keep you, though the vegetables will be better.

              1. My brain hurts. Much easier would be to hire BGE to handle it. 😀

                I can grow enough veggies to live on in a 35×35 patch, BUT… people forget that only starchy veggies and beans have enough calories to live on, and even then it’s a near thing. And it’s work, and seasonal, and needs reliable water, and then you gotta preserve and store ’em… and one wave of pests can do ’em all in.

                1. Spuds, you can live on spuds and nothing else, add some buttermilk and you’ll put on weight. You have to ‘et ‘‘em as they do in Cork, Skin and all. 10 lbs a day.

                  1. Yeah, but spuds and corn and tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, wild blackberries and raspberries, peppers and onions ain’t too awful bad to manage. Not that I want to go back to farming, mind. But that and a wire loop snare for some protein will do ya, if you’ve the right sort of area and good enough land for it.

                    Get good enough to have a surplus, then get you some hogs. Bacon, ham, pork chops. Or chickens, but while I like eating them, I am not overfond of caring for and raising chickens. That I’d rather trade for than do myself.

                  2. Our garden is a challenge because it’s it’s both Zone 1 (freeze possible any time, usually a hard freeze 2 to 3 times in June, and Sept 1 ends outdoor growing) and with a cold microclimate (river bottom). My only attempt at corn got stalks lower than knee-high by Labor Day. The previous owner had one good crop, but the 90s were a lot warmer.

                    We grow summer squash outdoors, and tomatoes in the greenhouse. Usually a couple of cool weather varieties (Siberian is a good heirloom if you’re not a Russia-hater) and a decent Roma. I’m going to try a pot (modified muck-bucket) of cucumbers in the greenhouse. If I get adventurous, I’ll try some pickles with the cukes, and maybe some pickled relish with the squash & tomatoes.

                    We normally dehydrate excess tomatoes. Will try that plus frozen for the summer squash. (I *might* be able to grow winter squash, but I really can’t stand it, plus the long maturity is a problem.

                    Looking into protein. Three neighbors are doing cows; I’m putting off thoughts of chicken coops til next year.

                    1. I didn’t see that my previous post actually showed up, thus the quasi-duplicate. One of *those* weeks.

                2. We usually grow two things in our rather-cold garden. (We’re zone 1 to start with, and in a river bottom.) I tried corn one year with risible results, and while the previous owner had a tolerable crop, that was during a couple-three warm summers in the ’90s.

                  Outside, in raised beds, we grow summer squashes. Mostly dark green zucchini, along with a crookneck. Sometimes we’ll do a true (light green) zucchini, subject to change upon whim.

                  We get more calories from the tomatoes in the greenhouse. Two cold weather varieties, one an heirloom (Siberian–no russian-hate here), the other an Oregon hybrid. The last is a Roma. These get used fresh in season, and dehydrated at the end of the season. We’re looking into various ways to preserve the squash.

                  More for the hell of it, we’re going to do a pot of cucumbers in the greenhouse. I might try pickles. Maybe.

                  Three of our neighbors have a cow each for meat. We don’t have the freezer space for it, though the concept is promising. Pig, maybe. I’ve been reluctant to build a henhouse/chicken run. Maybe next year, if things haven’t gone pear shaped in the meantime.

                  1. Save space with your cukes, grow them up a length of sheep fence. Makes finding ’em easier too. I’ve seen that done with big squash as well, tho it looked dangerous to walk under.

                    What the heck altitude or terrain are you in to be zone 1? My sister’s place isn’t that bad and it’s at the top of Bozeman Pass. Down here on the lower Yellowstone River I’m something like Zone 4.5.

                    Almost time to start digging… notably, I need to dig out the yearling cottonwood tree and try to transplant it somewhere more useful.

                    1. Elevation is 4350′. We’re east of the Cascades and at the bottom of a river valley running mostly E-W. At night and early mornings, we’ll get slope wind from the mountains south of us. Because of the slopes, we stay pretty cool in the morning. We’re also pretty arid. We had several junipers, but the temps are marginally a bit low for them. Ponderosa pine is the dominant tree (Lodgepole was, but got logged out in our area), and aspen/poplar/cottonwood will grow where it’s protected, or at the river bottoms. I gather there used to be willows along the river, but they’re gone; apparently most were removed by the ranchers.

                      June, we’ll get two or three hard freezes (generally 25F) in the mornings. Frost is fairly common the rest of the growing season; each bed has its own piece of frost cloth–that usually helps by 5F. For the June freezes, we’ll set the frost cloth, then cover the entire portion of the garden with a big sheet of 6 mil polyethylene. Plants in the greenhouse get frost cloth when it gets really cold. I use water jugs and a 50 gallon barrel to store heat. Works fairly well.

                      Growing seasons: Seeds started in our sunroom; kept indoors at night. Seedlings go in June 1 or a bit later if hard freezes are in the forecast. Summer squash in raised beds, tomatoes in the greenhouse. Squash harvest is usually done by mid August, while tomatoes will make it into September. I tried cukes outdoors several years ago with little success. I know our garden runs several degrees cooler than ones a quarter mile further from the river and 25 feet higher in elevation.

                    2. For a while plums and willows were thought to harbor mosquitoes and disease, at least out here, and willows were “water stealers.” Then someone introduced salt cedar . . .

            2. Buy hand tools first, for if the power goes out and stays out. Power tools are great, and I love mine, but be sure you can build a chair without them. Or a plow, more to the point.

              1. And tools includes kitchen tools. Eggbeater? Manual can opener?

                Wind-up clocks?

                Assuming you still have coffee, manual grinder? Off-grid means of preparation?

                1. For basic tools, we’re set. Haven’t used a powered can opener in years, and beating eggs works with a fork. Doing (gluten-free) bread would require back up power, which we have (assuming nobody took out our solar array, but if it got to that point, we’d be in deep shit anyway). Even a hand-held electric mixer doesn’t do well with the batter/dough.

                  The gas oven needs a bit of power to run the igniter and the control board. No idea of the capabilities of the current camping ovens, but earlier examples (stove-top Coleman, f’rinstance) were small and crude. OTOH, diligent searching will find match-lit ranges, most likely antiques right now. I saw one in a shop in Cali in the ’90s, and a neighbor got one for his outdoor kitchen.

                  On the gripping hand, an offgrid blog I follow uses a small range that needs a bit of power, like ours. He only bakes when there’s a lot of sun for his PV system. I’ve baked pizza using 12 x 12 tiles on the gas grill, though the results were iffy. There are units that act as decent ovens, but we don’t have, nor normally need.

                  Coffee: we let Hills Brothers do the grinding. Would want to dig out a percolator from the camping supplies.

                  Have both battery based clocks and a couple of winders. I don’t have a ready reference for the equation of time, but can calculate it from the sunrise-sunset tables, so a sundial would work reasonably well. Batteries are kept refrigerated, which seems to help shelf life a lot.

                2. WordPress seems to have eaten my comment. WPDE!

                  Quicker summary in case the internet gerbils get to it later:

                  Manual tools–if you don’t have them, tolerable versions will be on the wall at your favorite food/home store. Don’t overlook camping supplies for things like percolators. We use Hills Bros coffee, so the coffee grinder stays as a decoration. (Makes note to pick up some GI-style openers.)

                  There are gas grills that have an oven in them, but I’ve had so-so success with our old one, using a couple of 12 x 12″ porcelain tiles (might have had to trim them to fit, but I have those tools) to act as pizza stones. A gas fired range will need some 120VAC to run the igniter and the oven control, though once the igniter is done, it’s not a lot of power.

                  Our gluten free bread defeats any hand-held mixer, so if we want to go that route, we’d use our backup power to run the stand mixer. OTOH, for simple egg beating, don’t underestimate a fork.

    3. I honestly have no idea, and I’m usually good at forecasting.
      I HAVE NO CLUE. I think we’ll lose most of our institutions, including professional organizations.
      The ground will roll and roll again, and at the end is a landscape none of us will recognize.
      All we can do is try for better.

      1. The positive catch is that we no longer need the same type or number of organizations as before. Getting rid of them has primarily an issue of inertia.

        And of course some were never needed, merely imposed.

  14. Speaking of earthquakes. Tokyo is blacked out with Fukushima hit wit a 7.2 earthquake. No leaks at the reactors detected.

    Don’t know about all of you, but it’s been a day already and it’s only lunchtime.

      1. Could be. Although I read the breaking happened in 2020 – as did the COVIDiocy and the 2020 election steal. Coincidence?

  15. I’ve taken temporary jobs in the past where there was a set start date and a set termination date. Never any problems with ending employment for those. My military retirement was almost totally planned with a good transition from that to a civilian job. Again, no problem ending “employment” with Uncle Sam.

    However, during the dot com bust, the CEO of the company I worked at made a major error and lost a lucrative government contract that resulted in their laying off over 1/3rd of the company. But prior to the pink slips being distributed, I had been assured by my supervisor that my position was safe. So in this case, there was absolutely no reason to “see the layoff coming.” Betrayal? You God Damn Betcha. Not just the loss of the job; but the fact that I’d been lied to about it.

    Fortunately, I had a good nest egg salted away for just such an occasion. Took a week to get over the shock and then dug in looking for a new job. Problem was, the market was overstaturated with people in the same situation looking for the same jobs. It took 6 months and several dozen failures to sink in that I needed to broaden my horizens, and look for jobs using other skill sets. It also took a willingness to reevaluate family finances and see what level of cut I could accept. ($10K cut, took 5 years to reach previous income level.)

    I’m 63. I’m already planning for change, as in retirement. The problem is, like most of us, the environment can change far more radically than we even planned for. It is entirely possible for El Fauxident and Co. to get us into a nuclear exchange with Russia. It’s even more probable that They will get us into a bad case of high inflation. Certainly They have been making noises about taxing our IRAs, or even outright seizing them. And we all know that They are not doing anything to fix the Social Security insolvency problem.

    My recommendation is to plan for the worst, then double it (at least.) That’s not just white water ahead, it’s a friggin’ waterfall!

    1. I too was laid off after being promised to my face that I not only had a job for the next school year, but that I was going to receive a considerable raise.

      3 days later I got A LETTER in the mail telling me my position was eliminated. I KNOW my boss had to have known when he talked to me. After I cried for a bit, I felt sorry for him that he was such a coward that he couldn’t tell me to my face.

      But it still rankles a bit.

      That was the one and only time I have laid off. But with how things are going it could happen again so I am working on alternative skills so I can earn money on the side if need be. Only 3 years to retirement (if my health holds out) so I don’t know that I would be able to find a job if I lose this one.

      1. At one job, my supervisor submitted the raise request that would have moved me from “placement agency contractor” to “contract agency contractor”. A raise and benefits were part of it. But two weeks later, I got word from him that corporate had put a freeze on raises. So that was nixed.

        A month or two later, he suddenly left for a new job. And then not long afterward, we got word that our contract agency was not going to renew the contract with our work site.

        Now I don’t know exactly when my supervisor found out. But I’ve got a pretty strong suspicion…

    2. May I suggest that you have a part-time job for the first few years after your retirement, just in case. I expect that those with pension plans will get hosed.
      So, use what you can to reduce the overhead. Have a ‘side-hustle’ and tools that can be turned into cash/barter jobs.
      And, pray.
      A lot.

      1. Tried for Select Board member in town for the second year. Too many Lefties voting in town for me to get any traction. That would have kept me busy for 20 hours a week with squat for income.

  16. I got fired twice, once for being wrong and once for being right — try talking mortgage Armageddon in 2006. Hell, if I’d lasted till 2007 I would’ve been on TV. Being fired for being right was much worse. I’ve never just been let go.

    I do remember the first time, We we’re living in the UK and my parents were visiting. I had just “blown out” as the boys say, No bailouts for me. My boss had just finished calling me a Nazi among others choice things, and my father asked me what was the matter with me, I was probably very white in the face, I told him I was about to get fired, he said he’d been fired any number of times and that if you’d never been fired from a Wall Street job you’d never tried anything. He went on to say that we’d come to no harm. I pointed out to him that maybe the fact that he’d been fired any number of times was part of why I was so worked up. I have a much lower risk tolerance than he did, he accomplished much more than I have but I’ve had a much lower variance in returns,

    My da was one of those people who show how little in life you’ve accomplished. He did all sorts of breakthrough things back in the 60’s. Then again, he also hanged his boss by the suit jacket on a coat hook and invited all the secretaries to come view it.

    1. Funny thing, isn’t it, that it seems our parents did so much more with so much less than we have? It think it’s something we’ve lost with overspecialization. It’s harder to combine silos to come up with something new.

      1. A lot of the achievements were *possible* because someone else was an idiot– you need big problems to get big saves.

        Or big stupid to get big opportunity.

        Many folks who managed amazing things saw how many folks didn’t manage to make it through, and set about fixing the problems.

        Yeah, some of the fixes don’t work. And there’s new problems. But while they’re not nearly as impressive to tell about, fixing problems before they get big is a good thing.

      2. It’s harder to combine silos to come up with something new.

        Harder, in the sense that there are fewer people capable of doing the work perhaps.

    2. Then again, he also hanged his boss by the suit jacket on a coat hook and invited all the secretaries to come view it.

      Immediately thought of this…

      1. My da’s would’ve been 1970 or so. We used to spend the summers in Ireland and Da would stay in NYC. I came in one day and there he was sitting in my grandparent’s front room with all the adults saying nothing. Evidently his boss was George Costanza avant la lettre as it were and my Da ran out of patience. My da could’ve been in MadMen, he was tall, athletic, and very dapper, unlike me, i’m a schlump. This guy was pointing his finger into my Da’s stomach and my da either had to belt him or hang him from a coat hook. Absolutely ended this guy. No one would help him down, they called security instead and left him dangling until the At arrived. Da had already left.

        Feh, it all worked out in the end.

        1. Life would be a mite easier on all of us if more self important pricks got hung by coathooks more often in life. There’s quite the overabundance of arrogance of late. Folks what by rights ought to have been taken down a peg a time or two in life to set them straight.

          As I head it said the oncet, if a man’s got his head up his ass, you’re only doing him a favor by giving him an ass beating. With any luck it might get dislodged and he might finally be able to see the light.

            1. Ideally, before they become lamp post worthy. If the pattern of behavior is stopped early, perhaps some of those people could have been saved. Gone into, I dunno, road maintenance or fast food or car sales instead of politics, management, and whatever else place they got to.

              1. Some people just need to be shown the error of their ways. My wife was a Chemist. In college once, a fellow student was complaining long and loud about not being able to figure out what she needed for something about her lab report. My (future) wife finally yelled something like, “You’re supposed to go the xxx book section of the library and look it up!” (I am not a Chemist, and can’t remember the right detail.) The young lady left without a word, but the next day thanked my wife, and they became good friends. The woman in question just really had no idea, and thanked my wife for setting her straight, despite the tone my wife had used. SOME people are fixable.

  17. The last few times I was laid off, it was due to decisions made by someone half-way across the country, despite the fact that my managers always tell me how much they like the work I’m doing. That even applies to the call I got yesterday. I feel sorry for my co-worker (note the singular) because work is *really* backed up right now. But apparently someone half-way across the country decided that my department needed its budget cut. It’s frustrating. It’s an idiotic decision. But afaik no one I know has any say in the matter.

    Given that I live in LA County, I’ve been through my share of earthquakes. The first one’s a shock. Afterwards, you laugh at the people who’ve obviously only recently arrived in the state, and who freak out when they experience their first earthquake. Buildings here are about as earthquake-proof as it’s possible to make them. If stuff isn’t falling off the walls, then you might as well enjoy the shaking.

    1. I was in college in Riverside when we had the San Fernando Earthquake hit (Richter 6.6, epicenter about 70 miles from Riverside). It woke me up (it was 6 am and college). Being a California lad and a deep sleeper, I was surprised to be awakened, then realized, “Oh, it’s an earthquake,” and waited for it to stop. After about 20 seconds I became concerned that it hadn’t stopped yet, and heard all the panickers running down the hall to get out–good way to get yourself killed by a falling brick in a brick building like our dorm in an earthquake.
      I wondered if I should get up and get in a doorway. I’ve since realized that the longer the shaking, the further away you are from the earthquake, at least for any big one you feel.

      1. I was playing cribbage at a friend’s gunshop when the Loma Prieta hit. Started to bolt for the door, but the others told me to stop. Brick building. No damage to the building other than a light fixture crapping out.

        OTOH, a restaurant we used to go to on Range Sundays (usually every week) was permanently closed. Brick building, and the entire structure was unsafe. My own brick chimney broke, but a stainless steel liner kept it upright and apparently intact. Didn’t know it had broken until the home inspection in ’03, but the liner saved the house from a fire.

        We’re far enough away from the coast that we should survive any great Cascadia earthquake, but we try to have the furniture secured. There was a large quake in the ’90s here; a government building got destroyed (courthouse, I think), as well as some others downtown. So far, it’s been pretty quiet since.

    2. I had a one-day-a-week shift at a radio station, and they called me two days before one of my shifts to inform me I’d been laid off. (I hadn’t even realized the corporate overlords were cost-cutting.) Which, of course, meant that there was no-one to take over my shift except for my immediate boss, and the live shows I ran the board for were livid.

      Also note that this was in early December, so I called back and asked if I could bring by my charity gift when I dropped off my key. Merry effin’ Christmas, don’t you dare ruin a little kid’s charity gift.

  18. This is so applicable. Life always brings shocks and it’s important to somehow keep going despite them and remain optimistic about the future. Although my optimism may mean I’m slightly crazy.

    Overtime I’ve been through so many shocks. After my daughter was born with severe birth defects, I was told she would die. She has dodged the bullet for 37 years. In the early 1980s I was told twice that my job was being eliminated. Both times external events resulted in me keeping my job, which was good because I was still very much learning how to do a wide range of tasks as a corporate attorney. Then the company I worked for was taken over in a hostile junk-bond deal. There were 10 attorneys at the company and a 200 person central corporate staff which started being slashed. Of the 10 attorneys, I ended up being the last one standing. Of the 200 employees only 15 were left. Firings and departure were every day events, just like living in an earthquake zone. Finally things seemed stable, but then the company was acquired by a British company. I was the first and only person fired. I got a new job within six months. That was great for 10 years but then, because I had issues that led to spine surgery, I was the victim of reduction in force. Fortunately, my wife could return to full-time work and replace all my lost income. I took over taking care of the children and their schooling. You just never know what will work.

    Health issues are also a major shock. 25 years ago I was told I had bone cancer. It turned out to be a false report, but it’s quite a shock. A full body scan concerning bone problems indicated that my skeleton looked like it had been in a severe car accident, although I had not been in a car accident. Two major spine surgeries later and I’m 5 inches shorter,but at least somewhat functional.

    Life always bring shocks. We can only try to keep forging forward and always be ready for the unexpected. My faith has been a key to all of this. But best fortune to all of you here regardless of what unforeseen events arrive.

  19. For some reason, WordPress decided to stop sending me emails about 10:30 last night. Don’t know why, but it’s annoying.

    The only earthquakes that I have experienced have been the kind that rattle the windows and make me think that the quarry is blasting at a weird time, only to realize that I haven’t lived by the quarry in decades.

      1. No, as far as I can tell, on the Notification Page, there is a check-box saying “Block email from followed blogs”. WP seems to have decided that I really want that box checked, no matter how many times I go in and uncheck it. 🙄

  20. Long ago, I went through a bunch of earthquakes in a short time. Job loss, divorce, moving, moving again, death of family member, sued by other family members for the insurance, cancer, surgery, different cancer….

    Anyway, then-fiance (who had gone through most of this with me, plus major changes of his own) and I visited the Denver Museum for a badly needed break. They had a special exhibit about how stress affects mind and body. On entrance they gave you a little ticket where you marked off all the stressful events that had happened in the last, oh, 18 months and at the end of the exhibit you put it in a scanner and it told you how high your stress was and what effects you might experience. 50 points, insomnia; 100 points, ulcers, etc. I think it topped out at 250 points with a heart attack.

    My score was 400 points. Their chart literally didn’t go that high. We stumbled out of there laughing so hard we could hardly walk, yelling “I’m still alive!” out of sheer exhilaration. Some decades and many adventures later, it hasn’t killed us yet.

  21. I was at Moffett for the Loma Prieta earthquake, then 2 weeks later in a 7.4 earthquake off Honshu less than 20 miles from our base in Misawa. I was just a ‘bit’ paranoid for a while… And yes, ‘earthquakes’ happen in our personal lives too. Having to retire early and taking effectively a 75% pay cut was an eye opener, but my ONLY choice was to pick up and go on (and write a helluva lot more). And get the hell out of the NOVA area. I moved back to Texas, got a small place, and started rebuilding my life around what I could still do. I cannot and WILL NOT sit and vegetate, much less blame ‘somebody’ else. If I don’t stay active, I know I will die. I’ve seen too many others do just that.

      1. My boss told me to get a job or start a business. Believe it or not, a lot of folks in my part of Dept of the Army worked 40 years and some never took time off. He said he couldn’t count the people who said, “When I retire I’m going to play golf every day,” or “go fishing.” They’d retire and do their dream activity. Once. They’d discover their desire to do whatever it was had atrophied. And within a year they’d be dead.
        Fortunately my beloved is still looking for challenges.

  22. Apropos of Sarah’s post, I promised to post the reply from my bank to the letter I sent them regarding the Canadian Banks and the truckers. I now have in hand that response. I had received a letter saying to expect a response and a contact number. I knew that meant that my concerns had either been handed off or never seen by the CEO, so I wasn’t expecting any satisfactory answer. I did call the number and apprised the bank representative that the situation with the banks, Russia, and Ukraine had only added to my concern. To, I’m sure, none of your surprise, I now post the letter and the response:

    (CEO name)
    (company address)

    (CEO name here),

    I have been banking with (bank name deleted) for more than 30 years, and I have been pleased with the services you offer, and the compassionate way your bank treated me when I was unemployed for nearly a year back in the 90’s.

    I am writing to you now because we find ourselves in unprecedented times. My $6,000 in my savings account earned me all of a nickel in interest last month. This, while inflation is officially at 5.2%, and, in reality, much higher since the official inflation figures don’t contain such “volatile” expenses as food and gasoline. If I were to pull my money out of your bank and stuff it under my mattress, I would not miss the pocket change in interest that it earns me in a year.

    That means that, aside from implicit safety, there is no upside to my keeping my money in your bank. What has gone on in Canada however means there is a serious potential downside to the safety of leaving my money in your bank. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Canadian Prime Minister declared a state of emergency and “asked” the banks to freeze all the assets of thousands of citizens that had either participated in or supported the trucker’s protest in that country. And the banks, from all reports, complied meekly, if not enthusiastically, with nary a whimper of protest. Now he’s asked them to unfreeze the accounts, and there is a significant run on Canadian banks for customers to get their money out before it’s seized again.

    If President Biden were to declare such a situation and ask or order your bank to freeze the assets of anyone who organized or supported the January 6th event, or a new Republican president were to order the same for anyone who contributed to Black Lives Matter or any organization that he deemed supportive of those who took to the streets over the George Floyd matter, would (name deleted) comply like the Canadian banks without taking the issue to court before taking such an action?

    What the Prime Minister has done has irreparably damaged the banking industry in Canada. For your own industry’s sake, I ask you to come out now publicly and state categorically that this will not happen in the United States. That at the very least, any such mass freezing of assets without individual, legitimate court orders will not happen until the matter has been litigated to the highest court in the land. Even if that is what you would do, if you do not state it publicly now, it will be too late once the attempt is announced.

    I well know that most people would not consider such drastic action as taking their money from institutions such as yours, but if 10% of your customers decided to do that, how would that affect your bottom line? That number is not farfetched, as you can well see by the number of people in this country who have refused the COVID vaccines despite having to leave their jobs to do so. Ten percent may seem a small number to take such drastic action, but can you afford to lose 10% of the assets invested in your bank, and the panic that would follow such a step?

    If you firmly believe such actions as have occurred in Canada will not and cannot happen here, you owe it to your customers to publicly say so in the firmest terms to prevent any future government from contemplating such an action. As a leading institution in your industry, I think it will redound to you and your company’s benefit to take the leadership on this issue.


    (my signature)

    (my name and address)

    Case number: xxxxx
    Account number ending in: xxxxx

    Their response:

    Dear (name withheld):

    Thank you for your patience while we looked into your concerns. We’ve completed our research and are ready to share our findings.

    Interest rate: For interest-bearing accounts, you may earn interest based on the account’s daily collected balance. The interest rate may be as low as 0.00%, and variable interest rates may be changed by the Bank at any time. Interest is compounded daily and paid monthly using a 365-day year. Unfortunately, we are unable to increase the interest rate on your xxxx Savings ending in xxxx.

    Government orders: (name of bank) complies with all applicable statutes and regulations affecting its operations, as well as court orders directed at the Bank. (bank) does not speculate on what actions it may or may not take if there is no statute, regulation, and/or court order affecting it on a particular subject.

    How to contact us

    We appreciate your time and effort you took to contact us. If you have questions, please contact us at xxxx. We’re ready to help you Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Central Time. We accept telecommunications relay service calls.
    If you have a problem reading any attachment to this communication (if applicable), please reach out to me as indicated above for assistance.


    (Name withheld)
    Executive Office Case Specialist

    I know, none of us here expected any different, but I gave them the opportunity and maybe planted an ear worm in somebody. I suppose it’s comforting to know, they don’t contend that my interest can go below 0.0%.

    1. It can you know, go below zero. If I’m right it’ll happen in the next year or two. It’s been below zero in Germany and Japan for years now.

      1. Not familiar with the case of Germany, but in Japan that was because of deflation. Not gonna’ be our problem.

        1. The deflation was and is demographic in Japan and Germany. US not so much, yet, but we’ll see negative rates before long. I’m willing to bet, indeed i have bet, in size, that prices will collapse as we head into recession. They call it demand destruction, which is a sanitized way to say recession. WTI Crude is back to $95 from almost $140 a week ago and the increase in oil is the vast majority of the price inflation we’ve seen over the past few months. High prices cause low prices, that’s how it goes.

      2. I was working for a company providing software-based services for mutual funds in 2008. Suddenly we had to find a way to track negative rates on money market funds, something that has been thought impossible up until that time

    2. So, the unanswered answer is,

      Yep, we’ll seize your accounts in a heartbeat if the President so much as sneezes.

      I think we need to start adding riders to every bank contract where if the bank seizes or freezes our accounts, we have the right to assassinate any and all bank managers to recover said accounts, without prosecution.

    3. They may be looking at the consistent pattern where there is no correct response to that question– even companies that refused lawful court orders to the point that they were hit with legal action themselves get reported as “leaping to do whatever they can to hand over money/information/whatever.”

  23. If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Or woman, as the case may be.

    1. One variation I’ve read is “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs, and blaming it on you/” it’s because you’ve found someone else to take the fall.

      1. Alternately. ‘…you need to have someone explain the situation…”

        But I’ve found Kipling to be right more often than wrong, philosophically. His generation were somewhat racist and sexist by our standards; but he understood the need to stand in the gap, be ready to face whatever happens, and hold on to what is right, no matter the cost.

  24. “You see, it’s not depression, though in the beginning at least it might have elements of it. It’s actually shock. Paralysis coming from shock.”

    I will tell you what. That’s pretty close. It’s the rejection and the loss of trust in other people that really does it. You just don’t give a shit anymore, and you don’t trust employers not to screw you. Been there, got the t-shirt.

    Self employment is where I ended up. I can go broke, but I can’t be fired.

      1. Self employment is a hard road, there is no doubt. But having done the employment/job search/employment/job search treadmill for so long, waking up in the morning and knowing I can’t be fired no matter how weird/wrong/dumb I am, that’s a life saver.

        Just tell your boss to cram it and take a day off. ~:D

        1. Sigh. This explains the low productivity. He’s the anti-boss. He wants to be held and cuddled. he’s so lonely. I’d get him a kitten, but I’m afraid Valeria will kill the kitten. She hates cats…

          1. Could be worse. I’ve got two cats that both hate each other. A *LOT.*

            Recently they went at it so hard that when they hit the house supports I felt my room shake.

  25. Yes. This explains that feeling. It’s shock and betrayal. After being the good dutiful Boxer, I was facing the knacker wagon for my years of service. Now they are trying to pretend nothing happened, but that harness now chafes. My shock is wearing off and I’m just tied. Meanwhile they are pulling the chinch tighter.

  26. There’s a reason why I’m back in school, I’m writing (when my brain lets me and the Parents TV habits don’t make me want to scream in fury), and I’m trying to get back into something looking like good shape. The Crow Flu shook things up a bit, but I think it was a good shake-up, in retrospect. It got me out of a job that I wasn’t fond of. It helped me to find new mental health care that got me on better medication. It helped me to really resolve the relationship with family members.

    Do I wish it didn’t require me to have lost my job and get thrown into the meat-grinder of this particular disaster? Absolutely.

    But, I did get things done.

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