Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Unkind and unfair

I was thinking about the resurgence of the '70's policies and their inevitable consequences, and I realized something. 

We, as a nation, have become profoundly unkind and unfair.  

History repeats; or if it doesn't straight up repeat, it rhymes.  Or at least, that used to be the case, when it was actually taught as a series of choice/consequence pairs. Now, it just repeats.  Over and over.  About every twenty or thirty years.  

We used to learn from history, until people who were kind and gentle and didn't want to traumatize the kids changed the way it was taught (at the behest of people who thought that they'd find it easier to seize power if it wasn't taught...and they were right).  We no longer learn from the mistakes others have made; instead, we make our own.  

When I was in school, I read history.  I read a lot of history.  Mostly because of the self-esteem movement blocking me from reading-level-appropriate fiction because "we don't want to make your classmate that can't read feel bad."  I read a lot dissecting how this act led to that reprisal.  

And then, I saw similar playing out on the playground: one of my classmates would be an asshole, and another classmate would bop them, or kick them, and their behavior straightened up.  Action/choice led to obvious (and fair) consequences.  

And so, children used to learn not to be dicks to each other.  

I also saw when the "anti-bullying" turned from "Hey, y'all, stop being a dick to the weird kid" to "Oh, you poor, disenfranchised baby, you can be mean to anyone, and we'll punish them for applying consequences." 

That was profoundly unkind, and unfair: kids are dicks.  And they've got to learn that there are consequences.  By preventing the consequences of their actions from being applied, the "kind" grownups removed an opportunity and an incentive to learn socially appropriate behavior.  

It's spreading, even now: we've seen it with people living way above their means; we've seen it with businesses going under because they've made long-term stupid their missions statement.  And it's because kids aren't taught consequences of their choices at young enough ages, because kids are protected from the fallout of their own stupid choices.  

It's a profound disservice, and we're really starting to see the economic fallout: in slapping layers of regulations on businesses, the government are jacking up the costs of doing business.  The businesses start jacking up prices, and people stop buying from them.  The government slaps more regulations on the businesses, limiting how much they're allowed to charge, so the business cuts prices...but also cuts quality.  Which drives more people away from them...and then the business starts failing. 

We've seen what happens when they're allowed to fail.  Yes, it's horrible for the people employed by the business; however it's worse when the business is bailed out by the government.  Especially when part of the bail out is new regulations that prevent new businesses from rising up and doing what the failing one was doing, but better and cheaper and higher quality, because there are better choices--smarter choices--being made.  

Case in point: car makers with plants in the United States.  The ones owned by American companies are infested with unions and slammed with regulations; the ones owned by foreign car manufacturers have some of the same regulations, but they're not infested with parasites on top of it.  American car makers are failing; they're failing, and their flailing for government bailouts.  

Unfortunately, those come with more shackles strings attached.  

I say let them fail.  Let the unions murder the jobs that they claim they're trying to protect.  Let the government murder the industries.  Let them fail.  

Maybe, just maybe, we can figure out where the fail point was, and fix the problem.  

But it takes failure, it takes natural consequences to punish bad choices before we can even begin to recover.  

The fail point is government.  The fail point is regulations, regulatory costs, and the push by the stupid and uneducated toward the impossible. 

It's not fair to the rest of us.  It's not kind to us, or to our children.  

We're not allowed to hit the bully back.  We're not allowed to side-step the increasing regulations laid on vital infrastructure.  

Sarah Hoyt says "Build over, build under, build around." And we're going to have to.  Because the Gods of the Copybook Headings will not be gainsaid.  

Not teaching that has been the harshest, most unfair, most unkind thing that weaponized "nice" has done.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Of interest:

Yesterday, I grocery shopped in person.  I forgot to set up a pick up earlier in the week, and my phone was dead anyway, so...yeah.  

Anyhow, I have been needing new bathroom rugs for post-shower/post bath for a while.  Walmart's options were...not good.  All I wanted was basic, rubber-backed pile.  In darkish brown or gray because those can go longer without needing washed because they look grody--or at least, look worse than they are. 

There were options at Walmart, but I didn't want memory foam--takes forever to dry--and all of the rubber-backed sorta carpet? Light colors or bright colors.  All matchy-matchy with towels and wash cloths and all sorts of stuff.  

And not a single option was less than about $9.  None.  

There were designers, designs, and color palettes that Walmart used to not carry, not bother with.  Those were JC Penney or Target (both of which are having actual problems with falling market share, because in a lot of people's minds, Walmart meant cheaper...even if it's not anymore).  What there wasn't was basic level bath mats in the color families I wanted.  Almost everything but that, but not...that.

I'm not settling for something that isn't what I want, and paying that much to do so.  Not for something that basic.  If they'd had the general color families I wanted, in the material I wanted (rubber backed rugs were more like $16--the $9 option were the memory foam pads), I would have been less unwilling to pay that much for something that wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  

Fifteen years or so ago, I joked about JC Penney having gone to the dogs: Penney's prices, but with Walmart quality levels.  Walmart has now officially joined Penney's in having Penny's prices with Walmart quality. 

Dollar General has taken over the niche Walmart used to fill. Their prices are about what Walmart's used to be, on the types of things they used to carry.  You know: dry goods, some semi-durable goods, paper goods, and cleaning supplies.  Things like that. 

Dollar Tree has taken over what Dollar General has dropped: cheap shit that is about the most basic of the basic. THAT is where we found the bath mats I was willing to settle for, and I almost didn't have to settle: I got a slate-gray one, and a dusty purple one. 

As we were waiting to check out and leave, there was a young couple in front of us with a cart full of kitchen supplies: some pots and pans, basic mixing bowls, and some tableware.  Plastic drinking glasses. Paper towels, oven mitts. The most basic of the basic of setting up a kitchen.  Total price was $42. 

My bathmats were $5 each.  Yeah, the pile was sparser than I'd like, and the colors weren't exactly what I wanted. However.  I will settle for almost right for $5 each.  Not for double that, much less triple.

I may go back there when I need to get new kitchen towels.  Or dish rags.  The basics of the basic.  Because you don't need to pay Penney's prices at Walmart on basics when your budget is tight, and there are alternatives. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

ADHD Hack: checklists


I forget things.  Badly.  All the things. All the time.  It's worse when I'm trying to clean the house because the tasks are so tedious that it's actively painful, if I don't let my mind wander.  And sometimes, I get distracted mid-task by another task that needs to be done before I can finish what I had been doing.  And then, I forget what I was doing, distracted by another idea, and wander off to write.

(I get some great ideas while I'm doing housework, and carry a little notebook to pause and write them down...and that's one of the ways and reasons I get lost.) 

So, how do I combat the whole "wait, what the fuck was I doing?" 

Checklists.  I have checklists.  So many checklists.  I have every day checklists (it's on the fridge, because it's mainly the "before I can even get started on my coffee" tasks).  I have day of the week checklists.  There's a whiteboard calendar on my fridge where I keep the weekly tasks noted, and the approaching appointments written. 

My checklists are exactly that: a list of tasks typed up with a space to check them off, printed, and slid into a page protector.  I use a dry erase marker to check off finished tasks. 

What's on my checklists?  I'm glad you asked!  Because the things on my lists?  Are the things that I'm trying to build into a routine.  Into habit.  Into something I do automatically enough that I don't have to think about it. 

"Things like what?" you may ask.  

Everything.  I have everything on a checklist.  From "make sure the kids have their breakfasts" to "make sure the kids have their lunches" to "make sure your other half has his lunch" to "make the kids follow their checklists.*"  And all of that goes before coffee. 

Some of it has made its way into habit (specifically, the making breakfast for the imp, who still won't make his own).  But there's a lot that hasn't.  Not even in doing the same thing every morning for decades.  

My morning checklist ends with "get the kids to school." 

Day of the week checklists involve straightening up a single room: the bathrooms; the entry hall,  hallways, and the walk way into the kitchen; the kitchen, pantry, and utility rooms; the living room; the dining room and craft areas; the TV area; the bedrooms.  Then, there's a week-of-the-month deep cleaning for each of those areas (thank you FlyLady!).  

One thing I've managed to turn into a habit? Checking my checklist.  It actually was one of the hardest things to turn into a habit (it feels overwhelming, sometimes).  But it has kept me going, without forgetting too much.  

Wait, where was I going again?  Oh yeah, building routines.  

How do checklists build routines? Easy: they help you not to get lost in your attempts to create habits of your day-to-day, every day chores.  Eventually (maybe?), you won't even have to look at your checklist while you're moving through the chores--just remember to skim through it before you move on to make sure there's nothing you missed before you celebrate.  Or you'll end up with the cat so disgusted by the litterbox (that you've forgotten for weeks) that she's peeing on anything fabric left on the floor...and sometimes, fabric that she's pulled onto the floor to cover up a puddle.  

Seriously.  Make yourself a checklist (or more than one).  And use it. 

*The kids' checklists start with get dressed. Goes through assemble and eat breakfast.  Take your morning meds--focus pills for one, allergy pills and vitamins for the other.  Feed your pets. Wash hair, brush teeth, wash face, PUT ON DEODORANT!!!  Get your stuff ready to get out the door. Are you wearing shoes?

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

MUCH better

The school the kids go to fixed the absolute cluster-fuck they'd turned the drop-off into.  It's not perfect, but it's a lot better, and now moving quicker.  All the kids are still being dropped off at the same door, but they fixed the worst of the traffic flow issues (with pressure by and input from the local PD and FD).  Instead of having traffic moving both ways (in and out) in the same driveway, they've got everyone coming in the side street at the back driveway, and going around the building in the other direction from what initial drop off was.  There are two lanes for leaving the school's campus, depending on which way you'll be turning onto the MAJOR EAST-WEST ARTERY INTO TOWN the school sits on. 

There's currently only one drop-off lane, but I can see how they can reconfigure that to streamline things further.*  And I think I could re-configure things without FUBARing dropping the imp off next to his first class.**

They reconfigured the drop off over the weekend.  It still takes forever, compared to last year, but at least it's not a total cluster-fuck anymore.  And as people get used to it, if it streamlines further, it might start taking no longer to drop the kids off than it did last year.  Monday's drop off took double the time that it did from last year (but was so much better and less confusing--and less dangerous to both drivers and pedestrians), but Tuesday's was better, and today's was faster.  

Better yet, I seem to be done with school shopping (until one of the kids hits a growth spurt and suddenly need new shoes/new jeans).  I haven't had to go to Walmart this week at all, yet.  And I don't plan to until grocery pickup. 

 Because I need to stop hemorrhaging money.  August has really sucked for that, and for me replacing that. 

And, speaking of, I need to go do some writing, so I have new things to sell next year. 

*Once drivers get to the end of the school building and turn back south, they could be funneled into a two lane drop-off, which would funnel naturally into the lanes for turning right or left onto the street. 

**There is a separate trailer--a modular classroom--that had to be added for the increased student body.  It's a solid thirty or forty feet from the closest exterior door...and is a point of vulnerability that makes an absolute mockery of their "must use only one door for entry for safety!!!" policy.  Imp's first class is in that building, so I pause to let him out so he doesn't have to fight the crowds to get to his locker then out to class on time.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Dark brown sugar

I ran out of dark brown sugar, recently, and grocery day was still several days away.  So, I improvised--and improved. 

See, I've always gotten dark brown sugar, and I've noticed it getting...lighter. Much lighter.  Honestly, that last bag of dark brown sugar was about as pale as the light brown sugar used to be (and the light brown sugar's...well, damn near plain sugar).  I've always known brown sugar's nothing more than white sugar with molasses mixed in, so...I went hunting proportions.  So that I had a starting point.

For every cup of white sugar, you add a tablespoon of molasses for light brown sugar; for dark brown, you add two tablespoons.  

I made dark brown sugar.  And I discovered, in so doing, that I've never actually had dark brown sugar. 

I will never buy brown sugar again.  The dark brown sugar I made has far more--and better--flavor than anything I have ever picked up in the store. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Hey, sorry.

It's been a while since I was able to sit down and blog, last.  I've been chasing my own tail, trying to do ALL THE THINGS, all at once.  I'm pretty sure I dropped a couple of balls, but I'm trying to pick them up.  

The kids are back at school, as of day before yesterday.  Last Monday was their back to school night, when we take them in, have them collect their schedules, and load their lockers.* And go around and meet teachers and pick up syllabi.  

...at which point, we find out that some of the things they need for some classes weren't noted on the school supply lists (which haven't been updated since they started there ten years ago).  So I went to Walmart, and picked up the supplies.  Except for the composition books.  Walmart was out of their store brand of those.  I'd assembled a collection of all the colors they were offering this year...and now, I don't have two of the colors.  Because Walmart was out.  

Wednesday was an utter cluster-fuck.  Because they had a "potential intruder" scare last year, they've utterly fucked over the drop off.  They've got ALL THE KIDS coming in the same door--the main one by the high school office.  Instead of elementary being dropped off on the other side of the building.  They've set up traffic lanes.  Right lane for elementary, left for secondary.  Right lane pulls around the building to turn out of the worst exit onto Newman.  Left lane pulls around the ends of the parking lots to turn out of the second worst exit...if the driver's smart enough to pull through the lower parking lot, instead of just going around the outside of the main one, and through the incoming traffic and pedestrians.  This absolute brilliance caused traffic to back up in front of the school on all four sides of the traffic light a quarter mile away from the school's driveways.  

And then Wednesday, the kids get home,** and the pixie tells me she needs more.  Thankfully, Walmart still had a few spiral-bound notebooks still in stock.  Not many, but some.  And I found that what I'd wanted to get for Mom for her birthday (yesterday, in fact--she turned 78), was on the sales racks.  

And then, Wednesday evening.  Wednesday evening decided that I was going to have to go back to Walmart on Thursday.  Because my Other Half's wireless mouse shat the bed.  No worries, I thought, I'll grab that and...completely forgot to grab a gift bag for my mom's birthday present.  

By that point, I was getting supremely frustrated.  In four days, I'd been to Walmart four times.  I just grabbed groceries for the week, and said to hell with making a curbside pickup order, since I didn't want to go back.  

And then I got home, unloaded the groceries and got Mom's gift bagged up.  

And realized that I'd utterly forgotten to grab a couple of two-liter bottles of soda for the kids to use to get into their school-sponsored back-to-school bash...which is tonight.  

I had my beloved other half pick them up.  I am not kidding about "don't wanna go back to Walmart again this week."  

He did.  And without having to go out again, I've actually accomplished a few things today.  Which makes me feel a little less like I've been spinning my wheels and making no progress on anything.

And maybe, just maybe, I can finish that freakin' stuck turd of a story that's blocking everything else before I go get the kids in two and a half hours.  

*I'm certain the imp's is already a mess, and the pixie's is...heading that way, but never as badly as his.

**Pick-up was, thankfully, not the absolute cluster-fuck that drop-off was...and drop-off has not been the absolute shit-show that it was on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

It's alive!!!

 I'm refusing to fight this post into being on Firefox--took way too much of my time and energy last time.  This time I'm just...using Edge.  Which actually works.  Go figure.  

Anyway...part 3 of The Schrodinger Paradox went live as of this morning.