Are you better off now?

An election-year question: Just out of curiosity, and I’m especially aiming this question to people living in the US: Would you say that you are better off than you were 8 years ago, or worse? Would you say that the US is better or worse than it was then? I’m not interested in assigning credit or blame either way, just curious as to the actual situation.

I’m curious, because the closest to a rational reason I’ve heard for supporting Trump is along the lines fo “yes, he’s awful – but the US is in terrible shape, falling apart, and if he can just fix that then we can put up with the rest of it.” I don’t thinl the ‘rest of it’ is forgiveable and I haven’t yet figured out why anyone would trust Trump to fix anything, but the weirdest thing is that it looks to me like that entire basic postulate is wrong. Far from being in a handbasket on the fast lane to Hell, it looks to me like the US is better than it was when Obama took office.

I myself am not better off for a complex set of reasons (see below), but I’m under the impression most people actually are – curious to see if others agree.

My own situation:
I’m not better off economically because 8 years ago I was an expat, pretty much protected from layoffs and with my housing, utility and fuel bills paid for. I had no debt at all, so pretty much my only non-discretionary expense was food – and saving to compensate for not putting money into Social Security in those years. But that’s a freaky and unusual (and temporary!) situation – I’d guess most people are more positively impacted by the improved economy.

I think we’ve come a very long way in a short time on civil rights. I’m not directly affected much because I’m a cis het white woman, so while it’s good for me to have e.g. three women on the Supreme Court, I was already able to marry who I wanted or use the correct restroom. I do not think the problem with violence against minorities by law enforcement has worsened, I think it’s that many more of us have realized how bad it actually is. At least we’re having the discussion, even if we’re too rarely able to make it a productive discussion. So since I’m white, that’s not a direct impact either. Nonetheless, all of those things impact me indirectly, because they make the US a better place in general and specifically for a lot of people I care about.

I have decent healthcare just at the moment, but as I plan ahead for retirement, it makes a huge difference to me if we have at least Obamacare and at best a single-payer system. If we lose what we have now, retirement will be further off just because of that one (massive) cost to plan for. So again, I’m not better off now, but many others are, and it will impact me directly someday – just not yet.

How about you?

I can’t crochet, but I can crotchet with the best of them

In less than half a year now, I’ll be entering my sixth decade, and I have figured out what I want for a birthday gift. (Aside from world peach. I would always like world peace for a present, but it seems safe to assume that’s not happening this year.) I want people to never refer to me as “50 years young” – or 60, 70, 80, whatever it is at the time. I hope to continue feeling younger than our conception of fifty is (or 60, 70, 80 – just assume for the sake of brevity that I’m including all the future ages I hope to achieve) because I’m already feeling enough of the chill breeze of middle age to understand that the storms of old age are not for the fainthearted. On the other hand, I’ve earned my experience, every bit of it. Even just on a physical basis, I can do things right now that I couldn’t do at 20; I erged 30 km over this past weekend, I hardly ever get sick any more, and if the 5-gallon bottle on the water cooler needs replacing I can do it. I’m 49 and 7/12 years old, dammit, and I have no wish to diminish that or to subscribe to the assumption that only youth has value.

While I’m ranting, don’t include me in a group you refer to as “the lovely ladies”. I’m as susceptible to a (respectful) comment on my achievements, skills or even looks as the next person, but only if you’re really complimenting me for some quality that really exists. (Complimenting a group is fine too – when you know who’s in the group and are speaking of a shared achievement or specific quality common to the group.) When you just slap on the adjectives on the theory that all women love compliments no matter how empty, and that compliments on our looks trump any others, I just feel I’ve been slimed.

catch-up compendium

Oops, yup, way too long since I’ve updated. What’s been happening? Let’s see, last week I spent a couple of days in Houston. Unfortuntely I was there for only two nights, sans car, on the wrong side of town, so I didn’t get to meet up with any friends from when I lived there. However, it was a very good conference – the American Productivity and Quality Council’s annual Process Conference. I already have an idea to submit, to see if I can be a speaker there next year. (Spoiler: I like to say that business processes rest on a three-legged stool: they need to be documented, deployed and then monitored. If you miss one of those, the whole thing falls down – and I heard lots about the first and third of those at the conference, but not the second leg.)

Also, I’ve concluded that Houston is the ideal place for services like Uber and Lyft – because you can’t walk anywhere (no sidewalks, and usually too hot anyway) and there’s no mass transit system. I’ve had the Uber app on my phone a while but never used it before, but I used it twice that trip, including to get back to my hotel from a restaurant that’s in a complex literally visible from the hotel but on the other side of the highway, with no safe way across on foot. (I got there on the hotel shuttle, but it was busy when I wanted to come back.) I also used Uber the next morning, when I wanted to get to my conference before User started running. It did work very well, both times.

I also realized, somewhere in the last several days, that I made a mistake in my workout plan. I’m doing a marathon training plan to get in shape for and complete the Concept 2 Holiday Challenge – I’ve done this for the last couple of years because it worked out so well – last year I was in about the 4th of 6 cycles during the Challenge, and got enough meters to let me finish early. However, this year I started too early, with the result that if I keep on it, I would finish the plan, all but the 2-week pre-race taper, right around Christmas. I just wanted to build up a little extra distance – I didn’t want to actually do a marathon! Those are no fun. That has me erging 80K the week before Christmas. And the worst part is, I did this to myself.

So the alternatives at this point are,
1) Slack off – stick with the rough idea of the plan but shorten the longest workouts. In particular, never do more than a half marathon (the plan calls for a couple of 25-30km workouts), or
2) Stay with it, suck it up, and then do an indoor marathon just for the hell of it – maybe do a couple weeks taper after Xmas, then do the marathon while watching the Superbowl. (May not work because I’m too slow; I don’t think the Superbowl stretches 4.5 hours.)