If this had been a real emergency, your face would hurt really really bad.

Well, shit.  It’s the Sunday before Monday and early on in the itchy season.  I sit down to write and find it difficult because my hands are too busy chasing down flares of itchiness all up and down my back and head and arms.  I think my brain is dehydrated, too, because the ideas just aren’t flowing these days.

On the bright side, it’s also sicky season and I’m getting lots of hours at work covering for the weak and getting union wages to do it.  I’m making dollars so fast I can barely keep up with converting them to rice and rifle ammunition.

LOTION!!!!

Plus I’ve got other projects besides this blog.  There’s the preliminary research I’m doing for Secret Project #1A.  There’s that novel I’m reading. And the various side hustles I’m developing.  And keeping up with all the trades I’m jack of but not master.  And dishes.  And Warzone 2100.

But mostly I scratch.

So rather than post mediocre content here just to meet a self-imposed deadline, I’ve decided it’s wiser to announce a short hiatus for the Wretched Facts.  I’m going to take some time to assemble a few things that are worth your attention. (Frankly, the recent stuff has been a snooze.  Too much tl;dr and not enough jokes.)  Four posts ought to be a good amount.  Once I’ve got that put together, I’ll start posting again.

In the meantime, I’ve got to give great thanks to Ferdinand Bardamu at In Mala Fide and Charlie Bushmeister at the Single Dude’s Guide for giving a lot of juice to this blogging cycle.  And the only traffic.  If you’re reading this page, it’s probably because you’ve already read theirs.

So check back in a month or so.  I’ll be back with a fresh haircut and a ruthless vengeance.

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Inspiration for the Real Man

The haters, man, the haters.  I fucking HATE them.  To begin with, they’re collectivists.  They can’t stand individualism or anything else that reminds them that they are dependent on the herd.  As soon as a real man steps forward and takes a risk, the haters SWARM upon him, trying to pull him back into the herd or if not that, kill him outright.

Mix it up, bitches!

In the long run it’s these haters, these collectivists, these weak-willed man-children that slow humanity down.

I know you don’t want to be that guy.  But I’ll admit it’s not easy to be an individual, to walk boldly into the future, taking the lead, swallowing fear in order to make something real out of this fleeting existence.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a couple of things that I’ve found inspirational lately. Firstly is the famous quote by the great American saint of Brass Balls, Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Secondly is this fantastic post from J.W. Black of the blog Fortune Favors Boldness:

“Well I’m shouting bullshit; I’m raising the flag of Bold Action.  Fuck excusing yourself from life’s challenges, from its hardships…from its bounties and rewards.  The things that are difficult and uncomfortable are the things you should be doing.  Healthy diets, two jobs, clocking over time at work AND the gym, gambling a year’s savings on an entrepreneurial pursuit, educating yourself, cancelling your cable and your world of warcraft account to reduce distractions – ACTION.  Think ACTION.  Don’t shrink from the challenge; assault it with the bayonet of your whole being.”

True facts about hard work

The subject of “hard work” keeps coming up in my life.  Not in appropriate places, such as the job site, but on the periphery of life as a concept, something to think about in the abstract, something to casually dissect to see if immutable truth can be separated from folk talkes and nonsense.  Something to subject to analysis, not because I want to prove it wrong, but because I want to find the parts of the concept that are going to help me live a better life.

Hard Work, as it is generally presented to young people in need of advice, tends to be sold as a magical act.  If you work hard, everything will work out.  Hard work is the key to success.  It takes no talent to hustle.  If you want to make it look easy, you’ve got to work hard.

Hard work is lauded with regularity, and I wonder if it is this routine celebration of something that is seldom defined that has caused hard work to take on a kind of mystic halo that obscures the real thing that sits at the core.

I feel an urge to deconstruct these ideas that we have about hard work, but unfortunately even after the stretches of time that I have thought about the subject, I still can’t seem to put my finger on hard work as a mythology.  Maybe I should leave that kind of stuff to cultural anthropologists.  Lots has been said on the subject.  A favorite book of mine is Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America by Tom Lutz.  If I remember correctly, he dismantled the American work ethic and the mythology of hard work pretty well.

So instead of pissing around with useless interpretation that will be done in eventual time, if it hasn’t been done already, I think it would be more useful to detail some of the things that I know for sure about hard work.

1. Hard work good and hard work fine, but not always.  All work is not equal.  Some work is more important that other work.  And here I don’t mean that cleaning the latrine is less important than being president of the USA.  Instead I mean that it’s less important to hose the latrine out if you haven’t dumped the sanitage yet.  First things first.  You’ve got to think.  You’ve got to plan.  The power of hard work is neutralized when you jump in and get going before you even know what you’re doing.

2. Hard work is for you, not for them.  On a job, you work as hard as you can at the task you’re assigned.  Even if you know that the task is unnecessary.  (Yes, it’s recommended to try to point out inefficiencies when possible, but often enough the “problem” will be fixed by eliminating the guy that’s making it visible.  The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.) But as you kill yourself to acheive nothing, remember that you are not doing this for the boss, the company, your colleagues or anyone else.  You are working hard for your own purposes.  You took the job for a reason, whether it be the money, the benefits, the resume entry or to stay out of prison.  Always re-evaluate your work situation, but when you’re there work hard to the point that it’s necessary in order to be a good employee.  Still, don’t waste your time working hard if no one knows about it.  Despite any propaganda that might say otherwise, there is no team.  You work for you.  For several reasons, being a team player will make your life easier at work.  But ultimately your motives are still selfish, aren’t they?  Less grief, less stress.  Maybe the best way to say it is that when you’re working at a “job” (ie something you wouldn’t do if you weren’t getting money for it) you want to get as much money as you can at the least cost of effort and spirt to yourself.

Off the job is different.  You may have a family, and that requires work.  You may be single.  That also requires work.  You have a yard, or a pet or a hobby or any of a thousand other things that are important to you just because they’re important to you.  You put effort into these things and no one tells you twice to work hard.  And that’s all for you.  Nothing could be simpler.

Simultaneously, there is that aggravating crap that comes up in life that promises no financial gain or personal satisfaction, but still must be conquered because the result of ignoring it would result in disaster.  These things are called problems.  They must be eliminated with all haste.

It’s normal to grumble about the work that problems require.  You shouldn’t have to be doing this, you say.  Why do you have to go downtown on your day off?  Why do you have to spend hours on the phone hassling with the insurance company?  Why do you have to pick the neighbors dog crap up off the lawn every morning? Etcetera etcetera.

The fact is, though, if you didn’t have the specific problems you have, you would have other problems.  The world is problematic and always falling apart.  In nature, the floors are always dirty.  Nothing is ever exactly how we would like it to be, because as human beings we have an unalterable need for things to be other than they are.  So much suffering goes away when you accept the fact that maintenance is inevitable.  Fix it and move on.

3.  Hard work now makes easy work later.   Stamina is measured by our upper limit of exertion.  The higher that upper limit, the easier the average things become.  The classic illustration of this fact is the man-on-deck in a baseball game swinging two or three bats to make swinging one feel all the more easy.  And since the harder you work now the easier your work will feel later no hard work is ever completely pointless.  At the very least you are contributing to your stamina.  So why not push a little further every time?  Go the extra inch in everything you do and by the end of every day you will have gone the extra mile.

4.  Hard work impresses people.  Usually it’s not the boss.  Bosses, for some reason, never give enough credit where credit is due.  Maybe it’s part of their job.  (And also, incidentally, maybe it is why we are always our worst critics, because in reality we all work for ourselves.)  But your coworker, your customer, your friend or family member may be watching closely enough to see that you are busting your ass.  Maybe.  Often times not.  So much work goes unnoticed.  But still, you never know.  It’s not rare for someone to admire hard work and say absolutely nothing about it.  The point, fortunately, is not to garner compliments, but to improve your image.  Yes, image is important because perception has such an effect on everything.  If you are seen as a hard worker, that perception will prevail even when you aren’t putting your whole self into the project.  There is a thing called “confirmation bias”.  If you aren’t aware of this phenominon, Google it now.  I will define it quickly for you in any case: Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to find evidence for things they already believe.  Whether that thing be right or wrong, the human mind has a way of supporting what has already been decided.  Once you are aware of this psychological phenominon, you should start seeing it all around you.  (… though this itself may be an instance of the phenominon, which leads to some paradoxes.  That is another subject.)

5.  What else are you going to do? You’ve got things to do.  They aren’t going to go away.  There’s no way around it, you’ve got to do your work. So why not make the most of it and do your best job?  Of course, this goes beyond working hard.  To do your best requires attention and care.  But working hard is a good start.  Roll up your sleeves, remind your body who’s in charge and dive right in.  It’ll be over soon enough.