I Come to Praise Work

I’ll start by admitting that I’m broken. I’m one of those people who has to work. Mostly because when I don’t, I get bored.

I remember the lovely Summer vacations that were three months and sometimes six during revolutionary times when teachers went on strike or the school flooded and there was no money to fix it. (A couple of years I was still on vacation during my birthday, in November.)

The first two or three weeks — I scheduled — were for re-reading old favorites and reading all the new books I could cajole out of friends or their parents. (Borrow. No one gave them to me. Sigh.) And then tedium would set in. I quite literally wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

I usually consumed a week or two making my room really clean, and moving stuff around. (The number of times I shifted furniture!)

And then… I had to give myself work. Either real work for which someone paid me. (Rare. I more often found work during the school year, since mostly I tutored.) Or work I imposed on myself. “This summer I’m going to write x poems a week.” Or “I’m going to study Romantic Poetry.” Or “I’m going to study Roman history within the limits of books I can borrow plus the public library.” (Harder, because it wasn’t a lending library.)

Or I’d research for a novel I was more or less sure I’d never write, but it gave me work. Or invented a whole universe (I have those littering my brain still.)

Because I’m broken.

I realized how broken when I was once fantasizing about winning the lottery, and realized the sum total of my lifestyle change would be “I’ll get someone to do the housework, so I can do more writing work.”


If tomorrow I became unable to write or at least to sell (could happen. The market is a tight funnel.) I would probably start a craft business, for the money, and continue writing on the side, to get the stories out of my head.

All of which amounts to, work gives shape to life. At least my life.

And I believe there’s immense dignity in paying your own way. In fact, I’ve often said the sum total of my ambition for my boys has always been “Grown up, pays own way.”

When I first heard of the anti-work movement, my mind blew up. What the heck does that even mean? Who do they think will do the necessary for society to work, and for them to eat and have a roof over their heads.

I’m not sympathizing with those people.

Except… Except I can see where they’re responding to just as crazy an extreme.

My generation by and large (there are always exceptions) went to work out of high-school or college, and got told there were any number of others to take our job. If we didn’t want it.

We wanted it. Or at least we wanted to survive. So we worked crazy hours. We worked crazy hours with no overtime, and always being told we fell short. (Yes, even as a free lance writer.)

Now by and large this wasn’t work digging ditches. But I almost want to say it was worse, because we had to be intellectually alert and push and push and push, when the mind and the body rebelled, and you just wanted to sit there and do nothing, for a day or two.

It’s easier to push just the body. The mind has a way of throwing a heck of a rebellion, trust me on this

And we were always short on time and short on money.

Now there are other alternatives, and we can work from home, but we’re exhausted, and we have no energy.

And working from home, as was mentioned here yesterday means you’re always on. I swear my husband works far more than he bills, because he doesn’t count the time he’s eating while trying to figure out some problem, or when he gets home in the middle of the night to “fix one thing.”

Meanwhile work places haven’t got more reasonable. Now I could point out that part of this is a lot of illegal workers cutting the bottom out of starter jobs, and the crazy inflation we’re caught in, but all the same: I know people in retail. I know administrative assistants… I know people.

Since Obamacare made hiring people more expensive, companies are reluctant to add to pay roll. It’s more effective to work the people you have half to death.

The other side of this is not giving people more hours than for part time, so you don’t have to pay health care.

I know it’s fashionable to pile on millenials, but all those I know work hard, and often in indivious positions.

And part of all this is that the attitude of the companies is “Do exactly as we say, or else.” Yes, even now with the so called labor shortage. And even when what they want is patently impossible.

And so…. So we see silent quitting. We see a lot of people, mostly women, (particularly those with kids) choosing to stay home, which is probably a wash even on medium paying jobs. We see people who are so tired and burned out they can barely function.

And none of this, none of it, amounts to the best productivity.

The truth is the culture has gone poisonous. Squeezed by the government, businesses squeeze employees. Convince that millenials are slackers, we demand the impossible of them.

And then we’re shocked the “no work” movement appears. As stupid as it is, so is what they’re reacting against.

And we wonder why millenials aren’t marrying and having kids. Most of them don’t have the time for a social life, and the married ones often lack energy for their spouses.

Let’s give the kids the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not one for collective action, and I’m not going to suggest a general strike. That’s what we’ll get if we don’t do something about it.

First, let’s stopped the macho culture of “I work all hours of the day, and barely see my family” is a good thing. (And women are often more macho than men.) Work is work and necessary, but there is life outside work.

Second, let’s agitate to get government’s foot off business’s neck. Because yeah, businesses can be asses, but government mandates don’t help anything.

Third, let’s figure out alternatives, and create alternative work pathways. Indie. Job sharing. Whatever.

Let’s dispense with the idea that a company making unreasonable demands is better than a government making unreasonable demands.

Can your boss demand you work the occasional weekend? Sure. It happens. Should your boss demand you work seven days a week and hem and haw at giving you Christmas off? Oh, heck no. (My husband ran into this when we were thirty.)

All the movies, everything picturing a “career” as the most important thing in your life are wrong.

Most jobs aren’t a career. They’re just work. (Like if I made crafts. Just work.)

Work is dignified, and it’s important. It gives shape to life. And paying your own way makes you an adult.

But life isn’t work. There is more to life than that. And until we start seeing that people should have a life beyond and beside work, we’ll see the reaction of trying to say all work is bad, or of “silent quitting.”

Yes, in the days ahead a lot of work might be required of us in order to survive. But there is a difference between that and make-work pushed at us because someone in charge can do it. And most people do know the difference.

Don’t lie flat. Build your own escape route and fight back.

Build under, build over, build around, and get ready to take the weight.

Because what can’t go on, won’t go on.

165 thoughts on “I Come to Praise Work

  1. I find great joy in creating! God created me and so I honor my Creator when I do the same. Worked my whole life and even “just a job” kind of work had some meaning and purpose. What’s wrong with cooking a meal for someone or cleaning up a mess or just making money to support my family?

    1. Absolutely nothing is wrong with any work. Note I’m not dissing work.
      I’m complaining about the corrupt relationship between employer and employee (somewhat influenced by the government)

      1. In the 1970’s individual productivity went up, but individual reward for such did not – partly lousy economy, but not solely – and well, the tune ‘Take This Job and Shove It’ resonated with many.

        1. Interestingly enough, productivity hasn’t gone up at all since 2008. Age cohort mix explains most of it.

          Real Wages haven’t gone up since the 80’s. Since Greenspan. the FRB explicitly measures inflation by real wages. It’s almost as if their mission is protecting corporate profits but that’s crazy talk,

          1. What’s an “age cohort mix”? I think I understand what you mean, but I want to be sure.

            1. Sorry about the jargon. An age cohort is simply the people born about the same time. In this case, I’m talking about the proportion of people in prime working age (25-64) within the total. when that a ratio is high, you get a huge productivity boost both in total and per capita. The US had it in the 90’s then busted through 2016. Trump inherited the next mini wave the p*ssed it away by listening to Fauci.

              Japan in the 80’s and South Korea in the 00’s had huge ones. China had one too but their numbers are all lies so it’s difficult to tell.

              All these demographic booms are followed by busts. Japan has been in decline for over 30 years now and China is in the process of collapsing.

              Most academic economists ignore demographics, which is why Intend to ignore most academic economists. Demographics don’t lend themselves to difficult integrals and greatly limit the opportunity for economists to take well paid consulting jobs addressing market failure.

              1. > “Trump inherited the next mini wave the p*ssed it away by listening to Fauci.”

                Weren’t the lockdowns, mask mandates and so on a matter of state and local policy? Which Trump decisions are you blaming for the economic damage?

        2. Mid-seventies on, wages, individual rewards, went way up, up here in Alaska, something to do with an oil patch on the Arctic coast and a pipe down to Valdez if I remember right. 😉

          BTW; That pipe (& I hate to use the word but I will.) literally runs through my back yard.

      2. The government has for decades created utterly perverse incentives that drive the kind of behavior that we see now. The only two Presidents in my lifetime that fought to undo the perverse incentives that government creates were Reagan and Trump.

  2. “My generation by and large (there are always exceptions) went to work out of high-school or college, and got told there were any number of others to take our job. If we didn’t want it.”

    Heck, if you’re in IT, like Dan and me, you’ve had it demonstrated. I’m surprised when I see a name on a team roster that looks Anglosphere. They’ve demonstrated that they’ll import whatever they need, because they can be and are paid less.

    For a long time, one of the few reasons to keep us around was that we could be sent to client sites here in the US cheaper than flying them in from “offshore”. Now that “work from home” has been proven to work and physical presence isn’t needed, they don’t even have to import. I was (inadvertently) shown the financial nuts and bolts of our project team, and the offshore consultants were being billed to the client at about 1/3 of the rates they were billing me at. Several of them had 15+ years of experience, too.

    Bottom line: you’re a widget. Better remember that.

    1. On the other hand, the quiet chatter is people generally acknowledging that Stateside IT support is generally of better quality than the overseas stuff. But the bean counters don’t pay any attention to that.

      1. i could have a long conversation about what happened when they tried to export vfx animation….

      2. Having just finished a long struggle to get my phone number transferred to a new phone, I can confirm.

        1. LOL. Last April (22nd, to be exact) we switched from Xfinity to T-Mobile, and from Android S8 to Android S22 (batteries). We used the Costco Kiosk to do so ($300/per phone rebate, + phone on sale, and not an idiot). OMG it was a PIA. Got the phones switched easily enough though it toooooookkkkkkk forrrrrrevvvvver 😉 Then spent 4 months, 12 calls, two trips to the Kiosk (new card, then replacement phone) to not solve the problem hubby was having. I love T-Mobile support (Kiosk people were good too), USA based if call between 6 AM – 5 PM PST. Not that they were able to solve the problem, they tried. Eventually, maybe we could use T-Mobile. Not now. Comes down to coverage. Problem was hubby would go in/out of coverage area and the network would not reconnect (without fussing with phone, and since driving, not an option) his number when back in coverage. No problem with son’s and my numbers. We switched to Verizon in August (28th). Same phone numbers, same phones. Hubby hasn’t had a problem since.

          Need to double check Verizon involving billing and if one discount is still missing, need to call Verizon billing support. I do not want to. We’ve been on Verizon before (for a long time before switching to Xfinity); Not looking forward to calling (sigh). Note, Xfinity’s call/online support isn’t any better, just I could push that off to the in store Xfinity employees (show up, tell my problem, they type, they talk to supervisor, they have to call support, Every Single Time). We switched off Xfinity because of monthly billing problem, costs weren’t that much different from T-Mobile/Verizon options (anymore, was $100, or more, less), and no Canada or Mexico (without selling first born, he objected).

          1. OOPs. Messed up the bold closing tag. S/b only Not in bold.

            Not looking forward to calling (sigh). …”

      1. Ha. Ha. He. He. … Oh! Wait! You are serious!

        Yes. Been there done that. I mean get out of timber (because ’80s) and one of us needed to be. Choose computers because “up and coming” and “more fun” than accounting, despite accounting just about guaranteeing a job somewhere. What happens? Technically Five (5!) jobs over almost 35 years!!!! FIVE. I didn’t jump jobs once (retirement doesn’t count). Nor was I ever fired for any reason (company moving, being sold, going bankrupt, also don’t count “as my fault”). Never thought I’d hear the coded “you too old”.

        AND I was lucky. I know people in tech who were let go in ’02, that never got back into tech jobs. Took forever (17 months watching savings drain IS forever) but I found something in computers, even if it meant entry level pay (still better than part time retail).

  3. I have the great good fortune to be in a job that’s occasionally interesting. It’s kept me interested, sometimes enthralled, for 40 years.

    I tried to retire when I was 43, but the wife told me about three months in that I had to get a job or she’d divorce me and take all the money so the choice wasn’t whether to work or not but whether to stay married, or not 😜

    I think she was right, I need to do productive work or I simply sink into depression.

    1. I was caught in the 2001 dot-com bust with both manufacturing and consulting jobs going away. At 50, it wasn’t going to be practical to search for a similar job elsewhere in the country (I doubt that type of job is common anywhere in the USA any more by now). So, retirement came early.

      Working for pay in Oregon wasn’t terribly likely. Close by jobs were ranch-hands, a struggling restaurant, and a couple of stores. Flyover Falls had jobs, but the commute would have eaten the wages.

      I tried developing a custom tile business, but enthusiasm dwindled as I researched Oregon business permitting. So, work became focused on the household and our mini-ranch.

      Grampa Pete was a carpenter and a contractor, and Dad did a lot of remodeling in our place in the Midwest. I caught the bug and remodeled two houses in San Jose before we moved here. Part of the deal in moving was to find a place good enough so we could skip remodeling, but construction opportunities existed.

      A permanent dog kennel, a handful of outbuildings and a solar system later, I’ve pretty much finished with the new construction. Of course, the place is now old enough to need some remodeling, though we had pros do the kitchen floor (twice!) and cabinets (after a dishwasher leak went uncaught for too long, thus the second floor). Right now, I’m demolishing the wrap-around wooden deck that’s far more fire hazard than beneficial. We’ll be doing a paver walkway and later on, a patio. One of these days, I’ll have enough spare time to consider relaxing on said patio. Maybe. 🙂

      1. I’ve been working on figuring out something productive to do when I go on the pension sometime in the next two to four years. The markets I’ll still do, it’s my passion, but I need something with my hands and something that keeps me In contact with other people. Introvert that I am, that’s what seems to be what gets me into trouble, Number two son managed to get me into the gym and coaching rugby a bit but I need something I can do every day. I thought about bookbinding since that’s my long standing hobby but I’m not good enough.

        Once I figure it out, I’m done with large organizations forever.

            1. Wow, that strip is dated. 20 megabytes of RAM and 1.2 gigabytes of disk space wouldn’t make a decent smart-watch today. I don’t think you can still get 1 GB USB FLASH drives; they’re just too small to bother with.

              I made the mistake of getting an iMac with 8 GB RAM, instead of 16 GB. Been regretting it for a while.

              I put a 2 TB USB3 SSD drive on my 8 GB Raspberry Pi 4, and it’s getting full.
              At my house, the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are cats.

              1. > “I don’t think you can still get 1 GB USB FLASH drives; they’re just too small to bother with.”

                Don’t know about flash drives, but the last time I looked at SD cards I think they were pretty much all 16 GB and up.

                1. I went through our stash of old SD cards because I needed one to give away (with pictures on it for a specific organization events). I found a 4 GB one. Thank goodness for stashing old SD’s 😉

            2. Oh my gosh…..

              I love living in the future.

              I have two monitors, 32g of ram, and 4 Terabytes of memory.

              Oh, and there’s more RAM on my video card. 😀

              And I don’t even have that fancy of a computer! (Z440, got refurb)

              1. > “And I don’t even have that fancy of a computer! (Z440, got refurb)”


                I wasn’t a big fan of the upgrade treadmill or the graphics race, but I have to admit: it’s left retro/indie gamers like myself in a very good position. When you don’t have disruptions like chip shortages or the crypto-mining bubble spiking prices you can get an excellent gaming machine for pretty cheap these days.

              1. Heh. Yeah, I remember that song. “What kind of chip you in there, a Dorito?

                On a somewhat related note, you know how I occasionally plug Dan Avidan songs? Well, it turns out the man is pretty good at channeling Weird Al Yankovic. The fact that Weird Al is still alive only makes this even more impressive:

              2. I’m old enough that some of Weird Al’s songs seem to be parodies, but I have no idea which song is being used. OTOH, he’s pretty funny as is. I assume there’s a list of parody/base song, but I haven’t tried to look, not yet.

                “My, my that Anikan guy…” (Yea, I know that one. OTOH, I like to sing Don MacLean’s “The Amazon” at times. “where the prophylactics prowl, the hypodermics howl, etc” Must. Rip. LP.)

                1. > “I’m old enough that some of Weird Al’s songs seem to be parodies, but I have no idea which song is being used.”

                  I think the vast majority of his songs are parodies, but he does have a few original works. For example:

                  1. Oh, and speaking of parodies vs. original work…

                    Hey Fox, has Dan Vasc sung anything original? There’s tons of videos by him, but as far as I can tell they’re all covers.

      2. When the long term log scaling gig died, before I moved into computers, I got into crafts. Briefly looked at selling crafts. But frankly “Oh, I like that, can I buy it?” off something I made for myself, was about my speed for that. Custom piece work was so not going to happen without driving me batty. After two years of crafty Christmas, both sides of the family were ready to pay me to go back to school (didn’t quite get that far).

        Once I was into computers and fully out of school (that took 6 years, AA & bachelors, for reasons), and between jobs. How desperate did I get to “work”. Lets just say I hate painting. Inside of the house got painted every 6 years (which happened to be the time period for the two jobs between 1990 and 2002. One of the reasons I did not retire when hubby did, and still wasn’t really ready to pull the trigger when I did. Retirement hasn’t gone the same as the prior times I was off and “not working”. I do not know why. (No. Rooms are not getting painted. Well eventually. But kicking and screaming.)

        1. We’ve been doing some redecorating, and things close to remodeling–new kitchen base cabinets after the dishwasher leak trashed the old ones (the cabinet guy says a lot of his business comes from dishwasher leaks–we now use a leak detector below the sink) and replaced carpet in much of the house with engineered flooring.

          We were supposed to do the master bedroom right away (needs paint and better flooring, since it missed the equivalent project 10 years ago), but triggered by the (now withdrawn, but semi-valid) fire danger listing from the state, we realized that the wrap around deck was dangerous. Removing the cedar from some areas showed that years of pine cones and needles were hidden where we couldn’t see or clean them out. Not good.

          So, that’s the interrupt. I’m marveling at the incredible framing job, (Incredible, as in “I can’t believe they did such bonehead things!”) but that should be removed in a few days. Then I have to spread gravel and do a paver walkway. All stuff I’ve done before, and the weather seems to be cooperative.

          $SPOUSE has been trying to get me to offload and find people to do work. Local talent is iffy (the guy who dropped a tree for me had it go 180 degrees from where it was supposed to, and forgot he promised to get, chip and haul away the slash), but some projects will be contracted. Need a couple of windows replaced and the cement-board siding is at end of life, partly due to the deck. Sigh. More phone calls, though there’s good people in Flyover Falls. I need to ask the local log guy if he wants a big Pondo trunk. 36″ in diameter, maybe 30′ long. Spikes and company town imbeds optional. Lost a couple of chainsaw teeth over the years. It’d be his for the hauling.

          1. “We”, okay I, just dug out the last 14′ of bulb bed. Not the first time I’ve dug it out, but last time just managed to thin it out. This time I kept digging until everything was out. Then put weed cloth down, a yard of walk on bark (for that area, fill in spots, and “refresh” other areas). Then hubby built me 3, 8’x20″x8″ bulb beds. One for the spot above, two others for spots that my black thumb has been prolific for the last almost 32 years and 10 months. We then got a yard of bulb quality soil (not just sandy loam, our soil is almost pure clay), and some chicken wire (goes over bulbs – stop dog from digging up bulbs, discourage squirrels too), moved half dirt in. Replanted bulbs, moved bulbs from other locations, added bulbs, put wire on, moved rest of dirt on top of bulbs and wire. Hopefully, now have early spring through late fall foliage and flowers … We’ll see.

            House itself. We’ve replaced all the old smaller baseboards with double height ones. All the doors and closet doors have been replaced with primed doors; 4 years ago now. Now ask me when they are going to get painted. Hubby wants to spray paint them. Since I won’t be allowed to do that unless he drops … not particularly in a hurry to actually get them done if he doesn’t. Now roof needs replacing, this is being contracted out (OMG the cost has sky rocketed over the last 30 years!). House needs painting (paint cost has sky rocketed too), Hubby wants to paint house, except for the part above the garage (neither of us should be climbing ladders to do it properly, son works 50 hours a week). I do not want to paint an inch. I do have a painter I know getting me a quote sometime when he has time this winter (friends and family discount, he is a second cousin).

            Need to paint the room over the garage, again. It is the room that escaped the last round after I retired. Also need new flooring, and blinds. Probably paint, blinds, then flooring. Problem with flooring is we really cannot get furniture moved out. Oh, I’ll empty the book shelves. Computer desk can come out (and won’t go back, for reasons). But no way will those couches come back down safely. We sold the pool table, so that is a worry that is dealt with.

  4. Time was when the hallmark of an adult was to make things and either use them or sell them and live that way. Youngsters worked for wages

    1. Today is potentially a rebirth of this. I remember 20 years ago that Craftsman was selling what was a kind of home cnc tool for woodworking that cost about $1000 iirc. I was really interested but too busy. Today, I’m sure you have that plus things like 3d printers, Cricuts, and a plethora of devices I’m unaware of. Not too mention POD and ebooks have made self-publishing way more accessible. The key, as in anything, is to get good at the basics and differentiate yourself in the market…never easy things to do. But it is and will continue to be an increasingly viable option in the market.

      That points to another source of today’s madness. The development and diffusion of technology through social levels is extremely fast. What once were rich man’s toys for decades, now often drop in price so rapidly that there is no effective period of exclusivity to technology, food, clothing. Housing can help fluff egos as can travel, but precious little else. Best to espouse ideas that are abhorrent to the proles and declare yourself enlightened, entitled, and exclusive. 😉

      1. The flip side of “differentiate” in the market, is Marketing whatever. This has always been my failure. I get to that step and it is a hard (self limiting) “No”.

        1. The common assumption is that marketing is fundamentally deception. Marketing is a cycle of understanding the value of your product and effectively communicating that to customers coupled with understanding the current and anticipated needs/wants of customers and feeding that info into upgrading products or developing new products. It’s a crucial part of innovation. I summed up the process on my product development teams with AIM: Anticipate, Innovate, Makeithappen. The anticipate part was the marketing part: understand the needs,opportunities, and technologies, develop the products, and then effectively communicate the value proposition.

          TLDR: marketing isn’t immoral, fraudulent claims are, but marketing isn’t.

          1. Didn’t say marketing was immoral. Just when it comes to marketing anything (including myself, like for jobs), it is something I do not do. Won’t say “can’t” because I’m sure I could learn, I balk it.

              1. Aha, a fourth major challenge for me.

                I’m pretty introverted, and most thrive on talking to people that I know at least a little, and by preference know more and have known for some years.

                1. The Reader had a light bulb experience about this in his mid 40s. Similar to you he is a strong introvert. He got back on a technical track at 40 after a decade as a round peg in a square hole in management. At one point he became the ‘expert’ in a particular topic and got caught up giving briefings to customers which he hated and considered a waste of time. After the third time in three weeks traveling 1500 mile to give the same briefing to different customers, the Reader was griping to his travel companion at breakfast, a very senior systems engineer roughly 20 years the Reader’s senior and respected both within the walls of the Great Big Defense Contractor and by many in the DoD and elsewhere in our customer community. He looked at me as if I were a troublesome toddler and said ‘this is your job – get used to it’.

                  I never got to like it but that message was taken to heart and I got good at it.

                  1. one point he became the ‘expert’ in a particular topic and got caught up giving briefings to customers which he hated and considered a waste of time

                    More general, but me too. Just I was never called to go to a site to give that talk, at any of my jobs.

                    Support at my last job was really more “Client has the system. Now implementing. They will be calling to let you know what their needs are.” True of long term clients too. Every client had their own custom Claims process, which meant custom forms (generally “similar”, but never the same, some wildly different). Wildly different names and format for Ledger keys (Expense and Revenue Budgets, General, Project, etc.). Sometimes easy. Sometimes hard. Hardest part? That it was delivered without waiting forever (generally, some more difficult stuff takes time).

                    Actual conversation with clients that happened regularly. Want to use new Cardlock system.

                    Me: “Okay. Need, from Cardlock Vendor. 1) File layout definition. 2) Actual data file using format.” Send email stating this, so client has it in writing.
                    Four months later – Client: “Why isn’t Cardlock updates here?”
                    Me: “(Sigh). Still do not have the file layout, and sample file.” Resend email.
                    Client: “Oh. Get back to you.”
                    Note, this can happen once to never-gets-sent. But. Once in hand. Two hours, tops, and that is only because it can take that long to type in the definition settings, into an INI file, test it write instructions, send the update, email any written instructions for the change, that update is available (or installed by our IT), followup. No actual program change with cardlock.

                    What very rarely happened was “Thank you. That is going on the next update release.” Instead it was “What needs changing?” Oh, quick fix. Just a minute. “Okay.” Then either “change installed” or “install patch #” plus “let me know”. Depending on work load and priorities, might be “Okay, on list” (i.e. in Ticket System) and gets done sooner rather than later. “Next Update Release” was not part of the environment unless involved major program interface changes (which was a whole different can of program worms).

                    Preview forms was one that was on the TBD list for years after I started, and it was there before I started. Started that change 18 months before I retired. Even then it wasn’t the “preview” that triggered the change. But since major change, might as well. Had all the standard programs with standard and a few custom forms completed, shipped, and in use. Was about 1/3 done with Claims, complicated by not only 100% custom form definitions, but 100% custom programs. Claims was create standard program, roll in all custom programs, and custom forms. Part one, standard program was done, along with the triggered client’s, and other more difficult clients, released and in use. Was down to rolling in 2 or 3 clients custom programs and forms, depending on surprises, tested, and released to clients, a day, without any other interruptions (like that never happened… um /s-off, JIC). Just claims alone had another 80 client programs (IDK how many forms) to complete the day I retired.

                    Not only that, but while changing everything I made sure two things happened. First, every form program had a “default” form so new clients getting the programs did not get an error when “no form found”. Then they had the option to customize it. Second, program was still using BDE protocols to access SQL database (which has not been “supported” for almost 20 years, now). But (supposedly) plans were in place to replace BDE. To do so programs had to be reworked to split the User Interface, Processing, and Data Access (BDE) levels into different files. That was done per format laid out by the person working on how that was going to work. Thus easier to upgrade programs from 2000 tool version to “current” tool version, depending on when it was gotten to. (Rumor it has. But rumor also says, not yet.) Rewriting in a new tool not likely to happen, ever. Not enough employees then. Worse now. Only the other software people will understand most of this.

                2. I’m a little better than that. I can talk to strangers about their needs. But under the umbrella of an employer, in my case, I’m not marketing. I am responding because they have already bought in. Now we are working toward implementing what that means. Now can that “act as future marketing”? 100%. Customer satisfaction promotes more sales. But it was the marketing team that takes that and uses it. Not me.

              2. You can talk to people about their needs and wants, and figure out how to meet them.

                Under the umbrella of an employer, no problem. Without that safety net? Nope. Not happening. Do. Not. Want. To. (Yes, tantrum. Not a matter of “can’t be done”.)

                Let me put it this way. One of our two year old cats has discovered there is this neat new rope like toy that can be sussed out on (supervised) outdoor adventures. He finds one grabs it and bolts for indoors (because he knows it will be taken away). The last time I got to the door and shut it on him so he could not take it inside. I made hubby take it away from him. Okay, I know garter snakes are not dangerous. It was < 12″ long. If neither hubby or son are home, I would have dealt with snake. Wouldn’t want to. Would have. But hubby was there, so made him do it. My point? I would rather deal with a snake than undertake any type of marketing on. (I have nieces who do not understand either.)

          2. Marketing isn’t necessarily deception, but it is fundamentally bragging: come buy what I’ve got, because what I’ve got is something so awesome that you just can’t live without it. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that kind of bragging, particularly if it’s true, but for a lot of us, there’s just a mental block that says “You should be humble about your accomplishments” and keeps us from doing it.

          3. I find marketing difficult for a few reasons.

            One, I find that it just isn’t an audience that fits my imagination very well. I somewhat naturally adjust between different small audiences, but a big general audience kinda boggles me.

            Two, I dislike emotional appeals. When someone is trying to make a sale using an emotional appeal, my instinct is to back off, and wait for my emotions to settle before considering making a purchase again. What I look for overlaps some with what marketing tries to manage, but not completely.

            Three, I try for strict honesty, and sometimes my depression drastically increases the negatives I point out, that people may have overlooked.

  5. Actually, that’s not broken, as I imagine you were trying to say to those with ears to hear.

    When I was going through cancer treatments, I had two long episodes where I had to step away from my job (thank God for short term disability insurance) because initially I was on some really strong chemo and then recovering from a couple of surgeries and weaning myself off the pain meds.

    In spite of the discomfort, it nearly drove me nuts. Fortunately, I was already there; but I managed to essentially use up all the kindle books I could afford, and everything I could stomach from YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix–and wound up trying unsuccessfully to negotiate with my medical team to get back to work more quickly.

    1. Never too late to learn! I’m soon going to try my amateur blacksmithing skills soon to make a small harpoon for gigging gators! (not currently legal to hunt this way though). But it would be fun to have one! (LOL)

  6. Better to work for yourself if possible than be a slave for a Master, but this is not easy to do these days with all the red tape associated with being in your own business. I’ve been an engineer most of my career and have faced the “Imported” engineers that depressed salaries of “domestic” engineers by altering the supply/demand balance. Ultimately, the government and the corporations have joined and we have become a fascist country .

    It seems that these days, half the country works so that the other half does not. Maybe it’s time for us workers to go Galt for a while and let it all fall apart (e.g. the silent quitting movement). Then in the aftermath of the country’s imminent fall, those that know how to work will reap the just rewards for their efforts. “Build under, build over, build around” is a path forward for us, those who work. I am an engineer and builder/creator by nature and training. Let us get to work again when that time comes!

  7. We are all in debt, and so none of us are really free in the sense that the founding stock of the country was free.

    Ownership is desperately important. When this country began, the people of the country owned the land and resources of the country, free and clear. These days, most of us don’t even own our tiny suburban/urban homes free and clear. We are all employees of someone else, very few people own their own livelihoods. This was not the case at the start of the country.

    We are now a nation of “hirelings and slaves”. (And yes, they are related.) Slaves don’t work towards their advantage for the betterment of their lives and community, because there is no advantage, no life, and no community. They work, badly, because they have a gun at their back.

    1. Um… no. Actually, debts and indentures were one of the pressures pushing the American Revolution, and a lot of our Founding Fathers died bankrupt from paying for the American Revolution.

      I mean, I never knew that in detail before I watched that one Great Learning show about the finances of the American Revolution, but I knew about it in a handwave-y way from a zillion years ago. It even comes into kids’ books like Johnny Tremain, IIRC.

      And surely you know about the investor companies, and how settlers had to pay them back for their lands and equipment? You know about Marietta and those poor French noblemen who found themselves in the middle of a land fraud, right? Even the Pilgrims at Plymouth had to pay back investors in their colony.

      Ugh ugh ugh. I don’t want to talk about economics in American history, it’s the most boring and horrifying part, but it’s there, it’s everywhere….

      1. I should add that my dad took a college course on American history from the economics and trade embargo POV. I didn’t know this, when I found his old textbook and started reading it. It was all about things like embargoes and the Bank of the United States and trustbusting, although at least it didn’t have the huge saga of all the Thirteen Colonies having their own money, their own scrip, and their own take on debts owed to foreign investors.

        Argh argh argh head-hurty. I probably should read it again sometime, though.

        1. Yup, yup, he was the man. And a lot of Jewish financiers from Rhode Island did their part, which was part of why Washington wrote that famous letter to the synagogue guys on Rhode Island and another less famous one to the Jewish folks in (Savannah? Charleston? someplace South….). I mean, Jewish-Americans did all sorts of physical serving as soldiers and officers too, in very high percentages, especially because most of Europe wouldn’t let them serve as diddleysquat… but they did help on the finance side too.

          1. Jewish bankers in Amsterdam as well. That’s what Adams was doing there all through the revolution.

            1. Jewish people (both religion and ethnicity) gained, and have, more freedom in the U.S. than any other nation in the world (and that may even include Israel.) What is so unfathomable is how so many, so-called, Jews in the U.S. do their best to piss it all away voting for socialist-Marxist causes and programs.

              1. Between “Aaah! Scary Christians!”, very stupid takes on Tikkun Olam, and “FDR saved us all!”

                … yeah, don’t get me started

      2. Got any good references I could mooch from you? Trying to understand how or even if money laundering, fraud and procurement of sin worked back in that sort of a time period.

        1. We consulted my cousin on genealogy a couple of weeks ago and one of the founding members of the family in America came over with a group being sponsored by a wealthy man. And yes, that meant he had a fixed number of years to “work off,” the passage fee.
          The man who had done this bit of research noted he couldn’t say if our ancestor paid his way or was a friend of the sponsor, but in a very American sentiment hoped he’d worked it off.

          1. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin talked about holding the indentures of some relatives whose immigration he financed.

            1. More recently– my dad has a neighbor whose name he recognized as Basque, and a familiar beyond that.

              My godfather paid for his family to come over in the early 50s. When he was basically fostering my dad. 😀

    2. In an inflationary environment, debt is a good thing. Buy stuff with real dollars, pay back the loan with crap dollars. I bought a second house because I couldn’t find anything else that would put me in debt.

      1. This is good until the bust that follows the boom. That debt starts to get heavy when real rates are high.

        FWIW, that’s exactly what the FRB is trying to active and what Hayek meant by forced saving.

  8. When you win the lottery hire a house keeper. Then go fishing. If you don’t think fishing is hard work, you don’t fish very much if at all. In between catching fish you can write on your laptop.

  9. I consider myself a pretty lazy person, but in the pre-Covid days, staying home sick two days in a row to make sure I was fully recovered usually translated to one day of sleeping and one day of puttering around sweeping and doing dishes. (Post-Covid, bosses at place where I work seem willing to just give you an extra work from home day if you feel capable of sitting upright in front of a laptop but don’t want to spread the bug around or don’t feel well enough to handle the daily commute).

    1. Heh, sick days… When I was a field engineer for a large Long Island-based company, Management had to come up with a special award for me because the longest anyone had ever worked without taking a sick day was two years. I had done three and was working on four.

  10. Yesterday one of the guys on our team got chewed out by the production floor because he got on our hardware and verified that one of the reported problems wasn’t a thing, then helped train the tech who was running the station.

    Apparently the production floor had a high priority unit that this “delayed by a day” because we used the test stand during the two hours before the guy on shift came in. Bear in mind, the next time we would have been able to check this was in about a month, after we’d already told the customer we were going to have the hardware to them.

    And they’re surprised that they can’t seem to ship product.

  11. Oh, yeah on the work from home. With my work, most of it is in my head formulating conceptual models – the smallest amount is what look’s like “work” – writing SQL code to extract data, writing R or LIMDEP code for statistical analysis, writing up the reports, conference calls/e-mails to explain the results to other non-research execs or clients or firm up specifications. I have been thankful for telecommuting because it doesn’t provoke comments from others who see me seemingly staring into space.

    1. At the first company I worked for, the VP came through and saw one of our best developers doing that and, my paw to Freya, this conversation happened:

      VP: Charles, what are you doing?
      Charles: Thinking about a problem.
      VP: Well, can’t you do that at home?!?

  12. Let’s dispense with the idea that a company making unreasonable demands is better than a government making unreasonable demands.

    Do you mean the idea that it’s better, or worse? Because I assure you, a company making unreasonable demands is much better than a government.

    The worst a company making unreasonable demands can do is fire you. An unreasonable government can revoke the licenses or permits your job requires, take your money and property, throw you in jail and leave you there without trial for years — or just shoot you and be done with it.

    Our government hasn’t quite gotten to that last point. Yet. Even the Clintons still have to make it look like suicide.
    Why do so many idiots believe that our problems will be solved by the same shitheads that caused them?

      1. Only if the government is keeping competing companies from forming and poaching workers with offers of better quality of life.

        Workers work for a compensation package, of which wages are only a small part. The infamous wage stagnation of the last few decades is largely the result of Congress deciding the every worker should have some perq and requiring employers spend money on it, leaving less money for cash wages.

          1. Flip side, they’ve also made it expensive to get rid of people who don’t work out, particularly if they can claim membership in one of the protected classes.

            1. Thus the trend toward “Temp to hire.” Which (locally at least) is through temp agencies. If whomever does not work out, tell the temp agency “Thank you. We do not need this person anymore.”

              Employers using this approach still have the option to send a potential candidate to the temp agency to submit an application, let them know one has been submitted, then tell the temp agency to pull the applicant and application and send them over.

      2. And yet the unions in the US still almost always require a government strong-arm in order to get new members and retain old ones.


          1. American ones are, at least. I had a co-worker at the job I just left who came here from Great Britain. He loved the union back home. He also hated the ones here in the US.

            There was also that incident several years ago when VW tried to force the workers at its plant in the US to accept representation by the UAW, but the workers refused.

            1. Unions here in the US are just monopolies in the labor market. It would do a lot of good to outlaw “exclusive bargaining unit” clauses in contracts.

              It would also help to end the asymmetry between joining a union and leaving one. A workplace can hold an election to join a union any time after a year since the last election, but an election to leave a union can’t happen within three years of the union signing a contract with the employer.

          2. Unions became a disease. Hubby hates the big unions. Single employer union is what he dealt with, even was on the Pension/401(k) board. But the difference with the big unions and the small one he was with, was no one was paid for being an officer. Anyone, officer or not, who took off work, LWOP, for union business got paid for 10 hours work (average assigned job hours). But the union officer jobs did not come with a salary. The minute they were forced to merge with a larger union (had to do with the single employer pension new requirements to be in compliance), the “union representative” between the two organizations became a “paid position”, not a working one. Everyone Hated That. The smaller sub-union, never did, still do not, have paid officer positions. His position on the 401(k) committee did not go away, just the pension portion.

            1. And we shouldn’t have public employees unions. There’s an incestuous relationship- the public employee union donates to (Democratic) campaigns, then the folks they subsidize owe them favors.

              1. Oh. That was another factor of the small single employer union. No Donations To Anything, Period. Not ever.

    1. I take your point about companies, but the distinction between management and politicians and especially between management and bureaucrats gets smaller every day. That’s the only real difference between fascist socialists and Marxist socialists. Fascists allow the facade of ownership whilst Marxists don’t.

  13. I bought my parents’ urban house, so when Dad died and I sold it I had a solid stake. I also had a couple months to lie around and stare at the wall. It lasted maybe a week before I was creating work for myself.

    I hope I can continue “unemployed.” I’m buying a house and enough land that I think I can take care of my own food needs. I have a fund set aside for taxes and insurance. And I’ll have solar this year, which should eliminate the power company.

    In essence, I am quitting. That does not mean that there will be less work, but it will be work that I have chosen, and that allows me to be independent to the extent possible.

  14. I’ve always liked to work. (Theologically, we were created to work and to enjoy it. But, amazingly tautologicaly, corruption corrupts.) When unemployed for 2 years, I had to focus my work ethic on other things: getting employment, cooking and cleaning house, a long overdue study of some theology that interested me, and other things. It helped, but was obviously much better when I was employed again.

    I also know overwork. My previous job I could never escape until a couple years before the layoff came. I thought about it at work, thought about it at home, had dreams about it every night…which was why my blood pressure was 160/100. Then dropped to 120/70 the day I was laid off, still remember thinking as they escorted me out, ‘At least I’m free’.

    My point is that work is good, a good work ethic is good. But a good work ethic includes home and family and also a leisure and rest ethic. We get our work ethic in part from the Puritans. But they had no leisure and rest ethic: 6 days a week of diligently working your vocation/home, then diligently doing ministry on Sundays. They were burned out here in 1-2 generations. I did the same thing for several years. It isn’t sustainable. You have to have a day to rest and recharge.

    These companies doing this will ultimately flounder. Normally, in response to this crap, people would start businesses or go to work for small businesses. Our malignocrats loathe that, which is why they continually assault small business with the regulatory state. Monopolies are bad, but fascist oligarchic monopolies greatly help keep the proles in line.

    In the end you pray, you prep, you perservere, and you prevail, because God hates tyrants.

    1. Never forget that government is the ultimate monopoly. Our Founders didn’t; they divided it up so that it could compete against itself. Leftroids have spent the last century breaking down those divisions. They want the people divided, and the government a monolithic colossus to grind us down.
      There are forms of stupidity that businesses can’t indulge in. There are no such limitations on the stupidity of government.

      1. It’s not so much breaking down the power as it is giving as much of it as possible to the unelected bureaucracy. The three branches can still all slap down the bureaucracy in their own ways. But so far, the branch most easily able to do so – Congress – hasn’t seen fit as of yet (the Courts need to wait for the right case, while the President has to deal with laws that are designed to block the patronage system).

        Which is a real shame. Congress zeroing out the budgets of a couple of departments – even miniscule ones – would probably serve as a wake-up call to most of the others.

  15. The work, family, leisure balance is one that can be difficult to achieve. That’s why there are so many people making a living coaching and teaching how to best do all these things in a balanced sort of way so you don’t make yourself sick or destroy relationships.

    We are a fallen race which is why we struggle. But progress can be made if you are aware that you need to work on it.

  16. “First, let’s stopped the macho culture of “I work all hours of the day, and barely see my family” is a good thing.”

    I agree with this; a lot of what went wrong with post-WWII culture in the fifties was husbands defining themselves by their careers rather than their interests or their families, and housewives popping pills and doing random stupids due to a lack of spousal companionship, among other things.

    1. This.

      I used to work 60 hours a week, minimum. I commuted from London to Hong Kong alternate weeks for a couple of years and again from New York to Chicago full time for another couple of years. The wife and I decided enough was enough and we ate the 300% cut in pay — before bonus and long term com — to take a job that was 40 ish hours a week. Saved the family, saved myself. I asked the wife not long ago where’d I be if I had stayed in banking, she said “you’d be dead from the stress.”

  17. One of the bits not mentioned.

    The government is absolutely part of the issues with management. Specifically, the regulatory overhead favors large companies employing executive with political connections to federal government, and has driven a substantial amount of small businesses away from being a significant employers. Squid farms on mars.

    Large bureaucracies have scaling issues, and some of those relate to ‘we have to screw over these people here, to save the…’, and to having no idea whether or not an act fundamentally damages the future of business.

  18. Now there are other alternatives, and we can work from home, but we’re exhausted, and we have no energy.

    And this is why I don’t get too mad at my mom and dad.

    Yeah, they could’ve stopped a lot of bad stuff– on a family/school level. And they did drop the ball, even when it really didn’t take mind-reading to identify issues, and took the lazy way out too often.

    They were exhausted.

    Yeah, they got more help than I do– but they also got blamed for having “too many” kids. At three. And mom got emotionally abused for not having a “real” job– she only did like four part-time jobs in any one month, and tried to make sure she was home– so she was TIRED.

  19. Real wages have been declining since Nixon closed the gold window….and no job has been a career since at least the 1980s..unless you are super connected, you can be fired at any time with minimal benefits..And life is unpredictable anyway….So I long ago adopted the philosophy of Travis McGee, take your vacations and live your life now, there might not be a then..,.

  20. If I’m not working at something, I go nuts. I HAVE to be producing something, be it needlework, books, researching books, cooking, making furniture, something. Even vacation I’m reading, learning, up and about early to see and do things. It’s partly “idle hands are the Devil’s tools” and partly “don’t waste a day.” I feel guilty if I don’t create or produce something.

    I’d fail as an aristocrat. I’m too productive. 😉

  21. I have trouble buying into a of this, but what do I know. Seriously, what do I know, it’s been at least 25 years since I worked for money.

    Sure I, even way back in the day, had a boss or four make unreasonable demands, but I was never chained to a specific job. If I didn’t want to put up with it I could quit and hire on elsewhere. If I stayed on accepting unreasonableness, it was my decision, no room to blame anybody else.

    Why yes I’ve worked 40 hour weeks, 60 hour weeks even a couple of 168 hour weeks (Manning a facility 24/7 after a flood or whatever.). Yes, of course sometimes it was exhausting. Ever spend over six hours in an eight hour work shift breaking clinkers larger than a cubic foot out of a coal fired boiler ash pit with a eight foot steel bar and swinging a nine pound sledge hammer, clinkers that are red hot inside when you break them, pick them up and toss them aside? I have. Why yes, sometimes I was a bit tired when I got home.

    No, I’m not doing a, not saying a, you kids have it easy but way back in my day…

    I am saying if the work’s too had for you, change jobs, go elsewhere. If you don’t like your boss, change jobs. My mental decision point was if I’m enjoying every other minute on the job, it’s a really great job!

    As noted above, I haven’t worked for money for quite a while so at least part of my view of the working world may, make that must, be dated.

    I do, however have a son and a daughter and a granddaughter working for money. Feedback, conversations with my son and working after school savage teenage granddaughter sound nothing like the toxic working environment being described and discussed here. My daughter’s, now 60, her descriptions of the job runs at least a bit closer to the POVs expressed here, but she’s, at 60, getting a bit jaded with working for money anyway.

    OK, again a big but what do I know, but I still see this as a country where if you don’t like it you can quit. A country where if you don’t like it you can stay on and bitch about it as long as you still do the work required.

    Sorry, I can’t see any valid excuses for those that are bitching but not working.

    1. Sure. Mostly you can quit. In some fields — see Steve’s experience — you really can’t find any better.
      Most of the people I know who complain ARE working.

      1. I can’t disagree with that. However one can change fields and as long as it roofs and feeds the family…

        When I first came up here to Alaska, I met a surprising number on guys, more than eight or ten, with PhDs working out of the labor union’s hiring hall. Many were delighted being able to make more in a summer construction season as a laborer than they could in a year within their field of expertise.

        I admit, luck or whatever, when I quit a job the next one was usually better than the last. However my fallback thinking was if push came to shove, I, or anybody else, could always get a job pumping gas back in the day and make enough to feed and shelter the family.

        As noted, I can’t buy it, but, so far at least, we’re allowed to disagree, but what do I know. 😉

    2. I am saying if the work’s too had for you, change jobs, go elsewhere. If you don’t like your boss, change jobs.

      The problem is, the complain is that 1) people don’t stay at the jobs, and 2) the people who do stay, do their jobs.
      Not their jobs plus two or three more.

      1. The other problem is that the application software is broken. People who were specifically supposed to apply and be hired for jobs have trouble making their applications show up on the hiring side, instead of being rejected (silently, with no message to the managers) by the software on its own. The same with job postings that cleverly are never shown to older people, people with higher degrees, etc.

        1. Which is where the “open applications– walk in, we’ll interview you!” signs all over (well, at least in Des Moines) come from.

      2. Every few weeks another article is published written by a lizard, which once you stop and think about what he is actually saying, is nothing less than a massive public bitchfest at the idea that the employees have any leverage in the exchange whatsoever.

  22. Aside from the point… But the Vatican has released this horrible pre-synod artwork that looks super-Communist, and which includes some art-ified photos of real people.

    The artified photos are captioned in the artwork as being various kinds of people… but some of them are photos of Pittsburgh Catholic students, who object to being identified with groups they aren’t involved with, and opinions they don’t hold.

    One white female student was recolored to look like she was not white, and captioned as not being white. Another woman, who is straight and chaste, was labeled as a lesbian. A Catholic was labeled as being Muslim. And so on. Even though only a few people’s photos were shown — all were identified wrong.


    So yeah, this is some more of the usual quality of propaganda spread by the Left.

    1. Oh, and apparently the cruddy artist responsible for all the artwork is an American named Becky McIntyre aka Bex. Oh, boy, and she went to Catholic schools. And look, she’s a typical white woman artist who copies Hispanic art styles and runs a non-profit with grant money. Yay, so typical of normal people!


    2. K, this is horrible, BUT–
      I gotta laugh.

      From the news story:
      Guidelines for the synodal process emphasize the need for people with different experiences and perceptions to “continue to meet and listen to one another” to help perceptions “become more realistic and less based on broader cultural or political narratives,” local organizers told CNA.

      1. blink, blink Um, right. That makes as much sense as [denomination] leadership insisting that “relevance” is more important than taking seriously concerns about “Is that really in the Bible? Really?” from parishioners.

  23. Early on in my career, I called my wife from work one night to tell her I’d be late. I was enmeshed in an interesting problem. My wife had a talk with me about what was important in life, and after that the only time I’ve worked extra hours was during Hurricane Katrina to help the DoD be able to communicate with the civil authorities. That was for 3 days. I just don’t work overtime, and I make good money through my good work.

    One company I worked for used a 5 by 5 grid for annual assessments. Columns were for performance with 5 being highest, rows were for quintile in your salary range with 5 being the top of the range. Each cell had a percentage for your pay raise. If your performance was 5 and your salary level was 1, you got the highest percentage raise. One year my boss was debriefing me on my assessment and said, “Frank, you’re almost a 5, but I couldn’t quite give it to you. Maybe if you put in more time.”

    “Boss,” I replied, “the only person I know that you gave a 5 to (one of the rare geniuses I’ve worked with) ended up divorced, living in his truck, and pumping gas for a living. I’ll take my 4.”

    “I can’t argue with that,” my boss replied, and we both smiled.

    Don’t fool yourself, you’re never going to be CEO of some big company by working 60-80 hours a week. The cake is a lie. Settle for a good career and be happy.

    I could go on, but the full advice is in the concluding chapter of my first book which I aim to put on Amazon before the end of the year. Meanwhile I plan on being very busy in retirement reigniting my first career (writing) now armed with 40 years of experience and no need to make a living at it.

    1. Don’t fool yourself, you’re never going to be CEO of some big company by working 60-80 hours a week. The cake is a lie. Settle for a good career and be happy.

      And these days if you want to run a large company the way to do it is to start a small one with massive room for growth.

      But if you are doing it because you want to run a large company you will fail.

  24. I’ve long internalized the notion that I’m lazy, but I’m slowly realizing that my real problem is a dysfunctional relationship with work, mostly because the work of my heart (my writing) was regularly defined as not-work, as “goofing off” or “wasting time” for so much of my life. So I internalized that “real work” had to be toilsome and disagreeable, something that was assigned to you and you forced yourself to do, and anything you actually enjoyed couldn’t possibly be work.

    Given that this was back in the days when traditional publishing was the only game in town and the chances of having an actual career with an income you could live on were vanishingly small, it’s probably an unsurprising attitude (although I could’ve done without the continual snipes and zaps about how “artists are unstable” and the dismissive “your little stories” and “little notebooks”). But I still remember the awful jobs where I was constantly struggling to find enough Visible Busy to do even as my head was fairly bursting with writing I wanted to put to paper, but wasn’t supposed to because that wasn’t the right kind of busy. Jobs that often ended with variations on “you do excellent work, but you don’t look like a good worker,”

    Now, even with people making huge money in indie publishing, I’m still struggling with the sense that writing isn’t real, valid work. Which probably doesn’t help my struggles to complete projects, as opposed to jumping from one to another. (If I knew then what I know now about the importance of series in building an audience, I probably would’ve approached things differently, rather than grabbing all the “low hanging fruit” of random stories that had accumulated over my decades of struggling with tradpub and throwing it up on KDP).

    1. Work is doing something productive. If it’s something you enjoy, that’s a great bonus.

      Doing something unproductive is busy-work. Corporate and government bureaucracies are full of it. Hordes of government drones filling out mountains of government forms is about the least productive activity in the known universe.
      Why should we have to subsidize rich people’s donations to charity?

        1. So true. Which I hated, and ended up poisoning a number of fields of study for me, because they became associated with toiling through endless worksheets. Math in particular — by the time I finally got to algebra and the fascinating puzzles of variables, my resistance to arithmetic caught up with me. I’d solve the complex variables, then blow some routine arithmetic with the constants.

          But the worst busywork hell was the library where they were always after me to find/make more work to do, then were telling me that I needed to read all these boring mundane books that were popular — but I couldn’t do it at work because that was “recreational reading,” never mind that every last one of them would be an uphill slog of characters and situations I couldn’t care less about. How much my refusal to read boring books on my scant discretionary time contributed to the unhappy ending of my time there, I don’t know. There were other issues.

    2. All of that sounds familiar even if writing is something that still has a lot of baggage for me even as a hobby that makes it hard for me to stick to. The jobs I’ve worked definitely don’t help things either (a lot of the other Huns know just how much my current employer drives me crazy from venting elsewhere).

  25. Quiet quitting, eh? Been there, done that, got the t shirt. And that was years before everybody started talking about it as if millennials invented it. The concept has been around forever.

    Sometimes it’s the only sane response to an otherwise impossible situation. In my case, I realized that in that workplace I was going to get the same results—a dead-end, underpaid job with others getting the plum assignments—no matter what I did. So I adjusted my level of effort to match the reward. And plotted my escape. Took a while due to various constraints, but I’m now making almost double in the best job I’ve ever had.

    Mind you, I have standards and pride, so I delivered when my coworkers needed me to and did my job well…when I had one to do. I just kept my workload down to what I could do in a couple hours a day. Four if I was working hard. Those same coworkers gave me the glowing references that helped me get my next job. And that’s how quiet quitting worked for me.

  26. Worth sharing?

    “If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”
    –Émile Zola

  27. “We see people who are so tired and burned out they can barely function.”

    That’s me.

    1. I’m frequently close to that point myself from work crap and trying to get this move in order when stumbling blocks still keep happening. I’m not sure how I managed to get as much stuff as I have done in these past few weeks that I have sometimes.

  28. I think I need a better dictionary. I was so excited to learn a new word.

    What is “indivious?”

  29. Well-put all around. I have a similar dysfunctional relationship to it to Leigh as mentioned above from the way my now-former stepfather treated the subject, school, and the jobs I’ve worked so I do get where a lot of the negative feelings towards it comes from and I’m glad you’re discussing the problems with modern work environments. I hope more people come around to your views on the matter since we really can’t afford to alienate people dealing with this mess, especially when crap like anti-work and socialism offers sympathy and good-sounding, if completely garbage, answers to their concerns. We know where all this leads of course but someone hurting from all of this might not care, especially if they feel like their concerns are just being dismissed.

  30. We need to be needed. There’s a lot of satisfaction in doing something you’re good at to help someone you care about. Maybe it’s paid work, and maybe it’s showing your baby sister how to dance.
    Maybe that’s part of “It is not good for man to be alone”: we’re made to serve each other and not just sit and consume.

  31. A good example of building an alternative: Bari Weiss’ Common Sense (https://www.commonsense.news/) an alternative and intelligent and rightish essay site. Bari established the subscription site after being canceled out of the NYT. When asked if the site was making any money, she just rolled her eyes and said something like “You have no idea” which I took to mean an emphatic “Yes!”.

  32. “All of which amounts to, work gives shape to life. At least my life.
    And I believe there’s immense dignity in paying your own way.”

    Work also gives social status: “I can do stuff. I can support myself and a family. I am of value to others.” People living on the dole do not have this, which leads to pathological attempts to gain status–a problem that we see not just in American slums but in British ones as well. (See “chav”. See Theodore Dalrymple’s writings.) The Glorious AI-Driven Future in which (virtually) nobody works but instead lives on welfare is a nightmare, not a utopia.

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