marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Monday was a good day. Normally Monday is the day I "allow" myself to sleep in but I had arranged to take two friends to a morning showing of Ghostbusters so I had immutable reason to actually get up. (It still took some effort, but only half an hour after the alarm went off.) After the movie (very good) I was still able to get to work no later than I often have been recently and work solidly through the rest of the afternoon, getting home just in time for gaming. I did not feel unduly exhausted at the end of the day.

Monday was one of those days which prove that I do still have the ability to do a whole day with minimal side effects. I went to bed positive about my ability to springboard off this success to have a productive day Tuesday ...

... and indeed I was up at 7am to go to the toilet and thisclose to staying up. But as so often happens I fell for the same lie from my brain that traps me time and time again; it would be fine to hop back into bed long enough to catch up on the nights happenings using my phone. That would be one thing ticked off the list of things to do for the day, then I would be ready to shower, breakfast etc ...

... and then the usual thing happened and it was after 11am and yet another unpleasant dream by the time I actually managed to drag my frustrated self back out of bed, through the "morning" routine and off to work.

4 hours productivity lost. There are so many of the things I want to get done that just one of could easily have fitted in that time.

Today (Wednesday) wasn't much better for starting, except that I didn't even get out of bed at 7 to go to the bathroom. This mornings dream had a bunch of new unpleasantness for me to boot.

- it was in parts an out-of-control-vehicle dream but where in these dreams I am usually driving my own car this time I had stolen or "borrowed" it. (I was re-parking it somewhere in the vicinity of where I got it from).
- some of the dream I was talking to a counsellor, then running late to get to my usual monthly psych session because of it (via phone half-an-hour after I was supposed to be there we postponed). I do not recall my counselling ever appearing in a dream before.
- some of it I was running down the road / sitting in the pavement crying because I knew the car-stealing thing was so out of character for me and screaming "what is wrong with me?". This is also completely new to my recall.

It was also in parts a
- not having the strength to pull myself up dream,
- a back-at-university and not able to find my timetable / where I was supposed to be dream

There were a few positive bits but they don't seem to have fit into the overall narrative, like side-tracks my mind followed briefly.

Once I got to work today I put in a 7+ hour stint without too much trouble. I've been doing this one or two evenings a week for a while now, on nights I don't have a fixed commitment, staying on until 6:30 / 7 / 8 after getting in after midday. It's the only way I've been keeping my hours up where I want them to be, it's also more proof that I am /able/ to do this much work. I would /rather/ be starting earlier in the day but if my system won't let me it'll just have to happen in the evening.

It's not even that I don't want to be at work. I /do/. There are a /lot/ of projects particularly in-house ones I /want/ to get stuck into. The morning problem seems to be something to do with the whole idea of having to /go/ to work. Like "I'm going to get out of bed and them I'm going to go through this routine and then I'm going to be at work for the rest of the day and that means I'm not going to get anything else done anyway so I'm just going to lie here and get even less done".

(I know trying to work from home won't cut it at this point. That would be a bullet to my work productivity.)

I felt I was making some progress earlier in the year by making morning time me-time for getting things done around the house / off my project list but that fell by the wayside. I'm hopeful I may be able to pick it up again as the days get longer ans my get-up time in the past has been closely linked with the sun reaching a certain point.

I had a morning go-for-a-walk buddy for a while but they are currently a night-owl and much happier that way :)

I've tried setting up mental associations / triggers to stop myself gong back to bed in the mornings if I get up at about the right time; but my brain always seems to find a way around them.

The current drugs presumably are helping with my mood but are not doing anything about my sleep - they may even be making that worse. The previous ones were helping with my sleep but messing with other things to the point that they triggered a physical, emotional and mental rejection. Next month I'll probably ask to try something new (don't want to mess with prescriptions right now; need my headspace to be a known quantity for upcoming commitments).

I do not physically /need/ to be spending 10-12 hours a day in bed. My stamina levels for physical activity have dropped (probably as a a result of, not a cause of), but not that far. I do not /want/ to be spending 10-12 hours a day in bed. It is stopping me doing things I /do/ want to do. It is denying me the chance to enjoy the sunshine for more than the 30 minutes trip to work around midday.

Every night I go to bed hoping, planning, determined to do better the next day. I know I /can/ ... I just don't know /how/.
marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 153 units
Exported 28 units (@ 10c/unit)
---
Used 125 units (saving 29.18c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $39.27
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
Lying in bed this morning I managed to identify the thing mostly keeping me in bed was a mental rejection of tackling anything that resembled "work". Going to work, or picking any of the things on my to do list to spend some time on or even ultimately going to gaming tonight. So I decided to call in sick and spend most of the day napping or in front of the fire.

Ironically once that decision was made my brain then immediately switched mode to firing all available cylinders on a quote-request for a major project which has been sitting in my mailbox since Friday. So I just spent two hours working from home on that, and am currently taking a break before finalising the email.

I suspect this will be followed by a variety of other productive activities around the house, possibly interspersed with naps followed by cheerfully going to gaming.

So it seems that a big part of not getting going in the morning is something to do with being /expected/ to get up and do things. As soon as I am no longer "expected" to do anything it's full steam ahead :/

Need to figure out how to leverage this.
marsden_online: (write)
I thought I had already written a post on Ask vs Guess culture including an anecdote from my youth, but I am unable to find it. I'm not going to repeat the particular anecdote here because this post is to record and draw out a train of thought which occurred as I drifted into a "nap" this afternoon.

Background: I was a bit miffed at not having managed to acquire a second lotto ticket for the draw this evening (40 million must-be-won Powerball jackpot combined with a 700,00 Strike jackpot. I'll check in the morning). The reason it would be a) the second ticket and b) I didn't already have one was that I purchased the first online[1] then decided I could afford another; only to be informed I had exceeded my spending limit for the week[2].

[1] the one with maximum lines of Strike because doubling my chances in Strike seemed better odds than more lotto/powerball lines)
[2] Which was only like $30 because I set it (as a security precaution should someone get into my account) at a time when there was only one significant draw a week. And takes until the next Sunday for change requests to take effect (sensible). And would still have been fine if I was buying my usual[3] $9.60 tickets (minimum ticket because more than stuff all chance is a chance but still stuff all)
[3] only when the jackpot gets up a ways

While drifting off it occurred to me that I was /really/ miffed about being told "no" by the system. My increased determination to acquire an extra ticket was in reaction / rejection / rebellion against that. Which got me thinking (again) about my issues around asking / responding to being asked. Half-asleep brain made a new connection.

In terms of the previously linked article I would have said I grew up in a Guess culture and my asking habits reflect that. If I don't judge that there is a good probability someone will say yes (typically upwards of say 80%) I won't
- (rationalising) put them at risk of having to choose between an unwilling yes and an uncomfortable no
- (more realistically) put myself at risk of being made uncomfortable by having made them uncomfortable; or receiving a strongly negative reaction
... so I simply won't ask.

I don't usually /consciously/ have problems with a "no" answer
- although I have been known to interpret it as a "try again later in a different way"; a behaviour I hope I have broken myself of.
- the reason this one impacted me was simply that it was so unexpected; coming from a context where I didn't even realise I was asking for something (but of course I was)
- but see my final conclusion

On this afternoons half-asleep consideration though asking wasn't really a thing when I was growing up. The way our life was structured there wasn't really any "would you like to do x?" or would you like to do y?"; "can/may I do x?" or "can/may I do y?". "Questions" were usually just polite instructions: "Can you please pass the peas?", "Have you done [chore]?", "Will you please [task]?" As such a yes (or just getting on with it) was expected; any other response was likely to lead to unhappiness.

It may be one of the reasons I'm so good at politely taking charge; but it simply didn't give me soft skills around ... negotiation for lack of a better term. Or standing up for myself verbally (which may be related to other issues that developed later on). Or saying no because my fight-or-flight[5] response to being asked to do something is to "obey"/comply or rebel (the latter aggressively, probably even when I am not consciously aware that is what I am projecting. So no wonder people may feel nervious about asking for things they think /I/ may say no to.)

[5] The 3rd option, freeze ("play dead") is to vaguely accede and then passively aggressively ignore the request.

By the same token despite my best intentions it is likely I subconsciously expect people to "do what I ask" and get subtly (or not so subtly, just oblivious to my own reactions/projection) upset when "I do not get my own way". The first bit isn't really a problem for anyone but me; the second though would negatively affect other people and that, to my mind, /would/ be a problem.

If I'm being brutally honest the rejection (or possibility of rejection) probably influences my decision making and risk assessment around asking far more than I am willing to admit, even to myself. [It's half-past-midnight as I type this; a fine time for staring into the darness.]

~~~
[aside]
One of the comments on the link I chose for this post talks about experience a "Yes" culture; which from the description I would actually consider
- at best the culture shock of an Asker (the poster self-identifies as) who has found themselves in a Guess environment;
- a toxic outgrowth (or ingrowth) of a Guess culture or two merged Guess cultures
- an outcome of a Guess culture being colonised by unscrupulous Askers.
In my own personal experience, I think there is a third type of culture - Yes Culture. That is, social circles that have the expectation that it is OK to ask for anything at all with the expectation that you will receive a yes. Or, when asked of anything at all, you must say yes regardless of what the request is.
...
But I have witnessed first-hand what I'm calling Yes Culture. Having been submersed in it directly, I have experienced much frustration because my expectations and those of the Yes Culture differ greatly. Likewise, I have witnessed those of the Yes Culture's frustrations in dealing with me. No matter how I explain myself or my expectations, our expectations differ so greatly that I am almost always perceived as rude, selfish, unsupportive or uncaring for saying no (and believing it is OK). And no matter how much they explain themselves, I can't quite grasp how it's possible to expect that any request will/should be granted regardless of timing, workload, responsibilities, etc."

[/aside]
marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 116 units
Exported 19 units (@ 10c/unit)
---
Used 97 units (saving 29.18c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $30.20

Walls

Jul. 5th, 2016 10:52 am
marsden_online: (skull)
I was so very close to getting out of bed at a reasonable time this morning in order to accomplish more of the things I aim(ed) (and anticipated) to do today. Often the barrier feels like being stuck on the brain side of a wall of impregnable refusium; today body and conscious brain were both will and it felt like being on both sides of a mounded earthen wall.

Buried below the earth though was still whatever issue it is that is subconsciously making me "not want to" and I didn't make it. Still earth is much softer and amenable to digging; so perhaps I'm getting closer to figuring it out.

Now having dumped this out of my head perhaps I can get on and actually accomplish /something/ with what is left of my day.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
It has been two months since I did a "state of me" post. Looking back I see I was definitely in a worse place at that time. Things have picked up but I feel back in a bit of a dip at the moment.

Some major loops have been closed - the drain-laying and landscaping have been done; replaced with the less intimidating "cleaning up the mess left behind" and "paying off the mortgage again" loops. Having to be out of bed by 8am for workers did wonders for my productivity over those couple of weeks and I had hoped it would "stick" as an adjustment to my body clock but I have slipped back to not being able to force myself out of bed until quite late in the morning.

I have also switched off the medication which may have been helping with that (Sertroline); I developed a strong physical aversion to taking it so switched back to a low dose of the leftover Citalopram then changed my prescription back as well. There was an almost immediate improvement in my mood, alertness and creativity (measured by my urge to write); at the same time I have experienced a resurgence in vivid and sleep disrupting dreams and also a near-constant hunger/snacking.

The only weekday commitments I have at the moment are work; so that isn't suffering relative to my established "norm" but we are still behind and I would like to do more; as well as of course keep on top of other things before the list grows long enough to again feel overwhelming.
Hall commitments have receded; hopefully for the next couple of months until it starts warming up again.

~~~
running through my head )
marsden_online: (write)
I communicate with the pollsters by e-survey, especially since auto-dialers put me offering my phone completely. One particular company often starts with the question "What do you see as the biggest issue facing NZ today.", or something similar. This week it was beefed up a bit and led to an extended series of thoughts which I posted on FB (as being the most convenient format at the time) but am repeating here as a less ephemeral record.

The question:
What are the main social problems in New Zealand that the Government and community as a whole need to address?
My initial answer:
Inequity and poverty:
With our GDP per capita there should be no excuse for not being able to provide everyone with the basics of a warm, dry, private space to call their own and sufficient to eat; as a matter of right with no need to jump through any hoops to prove they are entitled to it.
Address this issue and a great number of other issues which stem from or are exacerbated by it will also recede.

Half an hour or so later I also wrote the following (edited a bit for clarity):
---
Ongoing thought about why our current social welfare system doesn't work very well wrt eg housing and food.

It consists of (reluctantly) giving people money and then leaving them to be able to procure the required services from "the market". But they're not dealing with /one/ market they are dealing with /many/ markets - accommodation, food, electricity ... - /each of which/
- has the goal of acquiring as much of that money as possible /without concern/ for the balance of the customers' needs
- and prices accordingly.

The result of course is that there is not and probably will never be "enough" money - see also for example how private rent increases have tracked the accommodation supplement.

The supply industries also benefit in their pricing strategy from individuals being given the money to spend rather than the services being purchased in bulk by a central authority with the clout to negotiate and keep the prices down.

For this reason I'm not opposed to government purchasing services from private providers; I /am/ opposed to the private providers being selected on the basis of lowest cost or metrics such as how fast they can get people off their books (churn). The correct metric has to be based on standard of care.

That would unfortunately require the government to care about the well-being of it's /entire/ constituency, not just those who voted for the "ruling" party or contributed to its coffers. :/
---

Back to now and a couple of other thoughts

Dealing with poverty is not a problem which can be solved by a single approach.
- Giving people money (or some form of equivalent discretionary resource) directly so they can target their own needs in their own situation is one part of the solution and has been shown to work well for getting people back on their feet. But as a sole or primary approach it risks capture as described above; where funds meant to help people into a position to better their lives end up straight in the (mostly metaphorical these days) pockets of "service" providers.
- /But/ poverty is relative and targeting the affordability of common - even "basic" goods and services is another piece of the puzzle. Not in an ad-hoc manner (eg taxes on/off fresh/processed foods - this has been a regulatory nightmare wherever it has been tried, save it for genuine luxury goods) but in a whole-of-market approach like Pharmac.
Bulk demand can shift the costs down but this is not something those already struggling with their living situation are in a position to organise. In a democratic/capitalist welfare society this should be a function of government.

One government department I think could make more of an impact here (if they were permitted) is Housing New Zealand; right now they are limited by having to use their own housing stock (which they have been forced to run down and sell down over the past decade); but if they were also able to function as a not-for-profit property management company effectively handling maintenance and property standards for those who for example
- have an investment property "retirement plan" but find the details of renting it out more effort than it is worth
- have a social conscience
- will accept a low-end-of-the-market-rent-range return

they might well be able to
- apply downward pressure on rental prices
- fill up some of those homes we hear about sitting empty
- reduce their waiting lists
- provide security for a lot of people who currently have found they can't ever trust they will still have a place to live after the next review
- upgrade some of NZ's abysmal housing stock
- and potentially be in a position to acquire some of those properties to replenish their own stocks when the bubble bursts

Yes the deal would have to be structured so as to appeal to the property owners opening it up to the criticism of being a government handout to that class; but I am reasonably certain it could be made to work for no more than is currently being handed to them indirectly via the accommodation supplement and putting beneficiaries up in motels for a week while simultaneously lumbering them with a paper debt which will, realistically, never be recovered.
marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 138 units
Exported 44 units (@ 10c/unit)
---
Used 84 units (saving 29.18c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $28.91
~~~
As the cold and dark has hit the bill has spiked making this a much lower reduction than usual proportionally as well as numerically, about 11%.

About as expected. I will be using the fire for heating more over the next couple of months though so hopefully that will keep it steady.
marsden_online: (Rage)
This year was very mixed for me. I think I probably broke-even with Saturday compensating for the disappointments of both Saturday and Monday, but it is currently the end of Monday and I am exhausted and grumpy.
snip )
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Giving is a major part of my life. Probably the greater part of it is invisible; charities I regularly support, flybys on givealittle and so forth but to be honest I find these less satisfying than what I can do directly for those around me. Making someone's life immediately better even if only for a short time kicks off one of the few emotional highs remaining to me. You can argue about whether than makes it altruistic giving or not elsewhere, I don't care. What is important to me is that there is less stress in a persons' life at frankly, little substantial cost to me.
- pad your groceries? People who have full stomachs are happier, healthier and think better.
- top up your bus card? Represents pocket change to me, to you might represent the freedom to leave the house and get to where you want/need to be when you want/need to be.
- covered an unexpected shortfall? Luck comes in good and bad, I have plenty of the former so please let me share it with you.

Life does not treat everyone equally, but it is within our power as people to redress the balance. Especially those of us to whom it has been more than fair; and I think compassion demands that we do so. Some people prefer to argue from a position of self interest - make sure other have (just) enough and they won't be motivated to try and take what you have to redress the balance. That's better than building fortresses ("gated communities") and hiring guards to keep the mob from the door I suppose.

I can understand how a person who has had to struggle, work and fight their whole life to get above the line and stay there might not be able to let go of that mindset, no matter how much success they achieve it may be that in their own mind they will always be poor and one unexpected bill away from disaster. But I also know that there are many who do not fall into that trap and having made their way to a comfortable position do a great deal to try and help others do the same. That makes much more sense to me - having been there how would not want to get other people out of the situation once you have means?

I am not one of of these; the metaphorical spoon in my mouth may not have been silver but it is less through my own efforts that I am where I am today than the gifts afforded from from my parents' hard labours. And so I can understand how, up to a certain age, a person can be raised simply not cognizant of the harsh realities of life for many. In the modern world my sympathy for that mindset runs out a year or two after they have reached university and should have had the opportunity to start taking a critical look at the world around them.

As always grateful that again, life has been more than fair to me and my sympathy for the struggles of others is born of intellect and a sense of fairness than hard personal experience.

So we come back to the position where I have- more than enough and so I endeavour to share my good fortune. I give this less than I would like; for two reasons
- Rationally I do need to keep putting some aside for my own future. How much is arguable, but I am not at the position where I can absolutely soak a large expense (such as the one about to be incurred for drain replacement) just yet, and I have no certainty that NZ's welfare state will be in a condition to look after me in my old age.
- it occupies not just the physical resources but also time and energy.

On this latter we have as a society theoretically harnessed the specialisation of labour to handle this. We pay takes to a central organisation (government) and one of the things they are supposed to do with them is make sure that if life treats us poorly we are looked after to a not-uncomfortable standard. In the meantime our money is (supposed to be) used to look after those who life is currently treating poorly. This should free us from the greater part of a need to worry about the circumstances of our families, friends, acquaintances / strangers.

Our current government is rejecting that part of it's duties (granted it is not the first to do so). Instead of going directly - in cash or in kind - to people who need food and shelter significant amounts of "our" money are shown to be being spent propping up companies that by National's own market ethos should probably be allowed to fail / take their business elsewhere, or paid in bribes to already wealthy individuals in countries where corruption is blatant, or siphoned off as indirect subsidies to private accommodation providers and old-boys-network businesspeople who are already "above the line".

One result of this is that I - multiplied by who-knows-how-many-others - have to spend more of my time and energy personally directing resource to the people I can see in need, and relying on the voids which are charities to be doing the right thing just to help regular people when they should be able to focus on those who positions are truly dire. And in some ways that /waste/ pisses me off just as much as seeing people around me living in poverty and the mis-appropriation of public money.

I am one person of good but still moderate means. I cannot do enough to even scrape the surface. I can feed a few people but I cannot house them. Organisations which have been set up explicitly to address the issues and channel the contributions of people like myself are barely scraping the surface. Central government is actively and deliberately following policies guaranteed to make the situation worse while benefiting those who already have more than enough.

My local council is one of the largest providers of social housing in the country (an operation which is currently being strong-armed to privatisation by central government). I occasionally encounter people who state vehemently how they are against their rates being used for such a purpose. I have no time for this attitude. Homelessness and poverty have both local and regional aspects and I absolutely expect our elected representatives at all levels to work together at the task of redirecting a sufficient portion of our taxes to those in need (rates being pretty much the closest we have in NZ to a formal tax on land even if they are not particularly responsive to capital gains).

Taking care of those who do not have the means to take care of themselves I consider the first duty of a supposedly democratic government. All else follows from or supports that. In doing so, for those of a more right-wing bent, people are freed to be more productive and contribute their best to society and the future rather than burning our all - and in the case of those who turn to crime, others all as well - just to survive.

[deep calming breaths]

The point I was getting around to is actually about the visibility of giving. This morning I posted quickly in my FB and Tumblr

When we talk about “give and take” why is the implication always that the giving and the taking are between the same two entities?

If I am in a position to give freely what someone needs why is it expected that I am expecting something in return? If you are in want of something why should it have to come from someone that already owes you or that you are then expected to owe?

Much better that we all give what we can when we see a need, and try to make out own desires visible without guilt or suspicion for others seeking to fulfil them - or be it necessarily with the the acceptance that there may not be anyone who feels they are in a position to do so.

I know a lot of people above and below the line, and plenty of those have moved from one side to the other and sometimes multiple times over the years. I am fairly public about much of the personal giving I do, not because I desire the plaudits (although they are nice) but in an endeavour to set an example to others above the line who may meander across my trail. To make giving freely visible and accepted, because I alone cannot make a lasting difference.

~~~
Related reading: that came through my Facebook feed while I was typing this up: How we got Here
marsden_online: (Sisters)
This morning I reached one of the rare points where I felt I was letting myself down more than others, and that still wasn't enough to overcome the executive dysfunction and get me out of bed.

Every day this happens I feel myself falling further behind on the things I am trying to do.

I toyed with the idea of taking the rest of the day off work too as a mental health day but I have checked my inbox and it is full of error notifications from debugging code I put in last week and a late-Friday request from the client for help, so it looks like I have to go in, only to once again be prevented from finishing the work I was aiming to complete almost every day last week.

For all that the weekend contained a lot of good it also contained a number of loneliness triggers and pain and not eating regularly and all in all appears to have taken a lot more out of me that I had thought.

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