Random Thoughts About Old vs New Great Depression

Back in the Old Great Depression young people moved back to their families.  They could not afford rent, so they went where the roof over their head was paid for.  They took care of their elders, scrounged for food and supplies, and did whatever they could do to keep the households afloat. 

A similar process is of returning home is happening now.  Many college age kids have returned to nests recently emptied.  Older children area also returning home, or staying home instead of setting out into the world.  They settle into a spare room, use the internet, eat the food.  Some exert themselves to take care of their parents or grandparents or siblings who are less able, and do the work that needs to be done around the house.  The richer and more entitled ones hunker down with gaming or other internet pursuits and refuse to even grocery shop.  The internet is the difference.  Back in the Old days our best avoidant distractions were books, now in the New it is the bottomless pit of sex and violence and disinformation that is the internet.  A mind-corrupting abundance of dopamine hits.  Back in the Old days the youth still had a work ethic that included the possibility of picking up a rake or a hoe or a hammer.  Now in the New days the youth think they should have gotten rich and famous somehow but they didn't, and now they don't know what to do.

Granted, the distancing requirements and loss of employment are especially hard on young people who are just getting their feet wet in the world.  But I have to put it out there that there are things worth learning and exploring at home.  Elders have things to teach.  Knowing how to build a wall, fix a pipe, or grow a vegetable garden, these are valuable skills.  Sure, you grew up in a time when your parents hired someone else to build and repair the house, and you got your groceries wrapped in plastic from a grocery, or already prepared from a restaurant.  But food grows from the earth, you too can grow it.  Animal food has to be butchered--are you ready to kill your meat?  This is your chance to learn some things that have been progressively more forgotten over the last 5 generations in America.  It's a good time to be able to subsist.

Back in the Old Great Depression, people got happier.  Several different studies noticed this change.  I have lots of theories about why this was true.  I suspect that being forced to work out differences with your families helps people grow up.  Instead of remaining a petulant child who has it your way but lives alone, you can learn to live with others and understand and respect their point of view.  I think that growing up takes us to a happier place.  I think that having honest, real, loving relationships with the people you know best is the strongest foundation of happiness.

During the Old Great Depression businesses closed but there was no pandemic.  In the New Great Depression we know that when the virus finds our ailing and elderly relatives, they will die.  This is a very hard thing.  I am mourning already for people that I talk to every day.  I know that someone dear to me will die, it is only a matter of time.  Back in the Old days people were dying at a normal rate.  Now we are dying by the thousands and we're nowhere near done with that yet.  The deep sadness is pervasive.


Interesting Times Indeed

Being a doc and a dork too, I've been studying on COVID-19 since it first appeared.  Still the magnitude of the crisis is shocking.  This will be a life-changing event and it may last for years.  I expect to loose both of my parents.  I would not be shocked if I also were to die, but then I have been expecting to die since early in life.  What surprises me is that I am still here, to see all of this.  I never thought I would see the American experiment fail.  I did not anticipate being alive for a pandemic.  I didn't know that I'd live to see another Great or Greater Depression.  But here I am, still breathing, still enjoying the sun streaming through the window and the softness of Kitten's fur, drinking hot tea, with access to internet and hot water coming out of pipes.  I am waiting to see what is next.  I am lucky and I know it.

Being an intravert, it is not yet a hardship to stay home.  In fact, I am more connected with my family and friends because I have been making daily telephone calls.  I generally avoid the telephone, preferring one-on-one in-person conversations.  But now, the telephone is what I have.  And the internet.  I have been spending a lot of time on fecebuk.  I discover more interesting articles there than I do from my own independent web wanderings.  My friends are a thoughtful and intelligent bunch.

I recently read a book called Perennial Seller, about how to create and market a lasting work of art.  I am a writer and a philosopher, and I have several books in the works...and I am thinking that this long period of lockdown will be a good opportunity to write.  If I can persuade my dear partner to stop interrupting me with his stream of consciousness verbal leakage, I have a chance.  My next hurdle is deciding which book to focus on.  I shift back and forth among all my writing projects as a new idea or bit of information provokes me.  This shifting--and the splitting of one chapter into two, one book into two, does not facilitate finishing anything.

Of course, because my job is at a clinic, filling doctor's orders for herbs and supplements, the business may remain open.  I may be one of those who still has a job for a while yet at least.  This is both a blessing (paycheck) and a curse (exposure).


QotD: We are the Change

"If you look throughout history, all the great changes have come from the people. We are being betrayed by those in power and they are failing us. But we will not back down...And if you feel threatened by that, I have some very bad news for you. We will not be silenced. Because we are the change. And change is coming. Whether you like it or not."
--Greta Thunberg at youth strike for climate February 2020, Bristol UK

QotD: Viewpoint Diversity

 ..."viewpoint diversity is necessary for the development of critical thinking, while viewpoint homogeneity (whether on the left or the right) leaves a community vulnerable to groupthink and orthodoxy."
--Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in Coddling of the American Mind; How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, p113.

Whitewater Readiness Quiz


This quiz is designed to help whitewater paddlers assess what class of whitewater you have the skills to run with success.  For each question, pick the answer that is most true for you now, not historically.  Rigorous and honest self assessment is difficult, but it may be your most important skill for longterm enjoyment in a risky sport.  If you are not honest with yourself, this tool is of no use.  Our abilities shift throughout life so keep checking in about what you can do, adjust your paddling choices accordingly.  You do not have to tell anyone else about your process. 

To take the quiz: Jot down a single number answer to each question, making a list that looks something like this: 1, 3, 2, 2, etc.  You should have a list with 11 numbers by the end.

  1. Rolling
    1. I roll most/all of the time in the pool but tend to bail in combat situations.
    2. When I flip on the river I immediately get into a tightly tucked set-up position and try a roll or a T-rescue.
    3. My roll is 90% or more successful on the river.
    4. I roll on both sides, have a hand roll, and can usually do one of those in a pinch.
  2. Ferrying
    1. I can get across mild currents efficiently.
    2. I’m confident doing a strong ferry across moderate current with turbulence.
    3. I can jet ferry across intense current and hit the other side where I want.
    4. I am comfortable using waves and holes to cross a rapid upstream from dangerous obstacles.
  3. Catching Eddies
    1. I catch the biggest eddy at the bottom of the rapid.
    2. I enjoy catching medium sized eddies in the middle of rapids.
    3. I like to sew up rapids by hopping from eddy to eddy all the way down.
    4. I am happy catching tiny eddies in weird places for strategic positioning or to get a view of what’s downstream.
  4. Reading Water
    1. I need someone to follow because I'm not good at picking lines.
    2. I usually follow through new rapids and feel OK leading through familiar rapids.
    3. I can find my way down a new class II.
    4. I pick my own routes in unfamiliar class III rapids without scouting or following.
  5. Playing
    1. I don't play because I don't want to flip over.
    2. I play at the best spots when I am in my playboat.
    3. I bow surf on waves when they have eddy service.
    4. I catch waves on the fly and drop into holes sideways for fun.
  6. Rescue
    1. I hate swimming rapids and often need help getting my gear rounded up.
    2. I am good at self rescue and often get my kit to shore before anybody shows up to help.
    3. I always carry a throwbag and deploy it without hesitation.
    4. I can extricate boats and people from pins in the river most of the time.
  7. Strength
    1. I need help loading my boat on the car.
    2. I can lift my own boat overhead and set it on a vehicle.
    3. I do shoulder and core exercises regularly because they improve my paddling.
    4. I can carry my boat 0.7 miles and then paddle and portage for 4 hours.
  8. VIII.Cardiovascular Fitness
    1. My most vigorous workout is walking.
    2. I run, bike or do cardio at the gym at least twice a week.
    3. I do aerobic paddling workouts like sprints, slalom, or continuous/high water whitewater runs at least twice a week.
    4. I can carry my boat four miles uphill then paddle big rapids without problems.
  9. Toughness
    1. I get emotional or angry when things don’t go well on the river.
    2. I am anxious sometimes on the water but manage my fear without requiring reassurance from others.
    3. I can take a bad swim or a beating on rocks/in a hole and still have a good day.
    4. I am cool as a cucumber and can function in life and death situations.
  10. Flows
    1. I let other people decide when the flows are right for a run.
    2. I know what CFS stands for.
    3. I pay attention to gauge readings for each run I do (maybe even log them) and study the runoff/release patterns.
    4. I carefully investigate flow recommendations and patterns for new runs and enjoy high and low water.
  11. Crew
    1. I participate in pick-up trips with people I find via the internet or clubs.
    2. The folks I usually paddle with are mostly weaker paddlers than me.
    3. I’ve had the good luck to fall in with a crew that’s stronger paddlers than me.
    4. I paddle regularly with a few friends who are strong paddlers and whose habits and idiosyncrasies are well understood.

Don't cheat yourself!  Write down your answers to all 11 questions THEN follow this link.