Jake LaCaze

essays

Sketch of a kid playing alone at a playground #essays #covid19 #parenting

Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both he past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together.

The spirit of that quote from the opening paragraph of Joan Didion's essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” has stuck with me since my first reading. The essay has made me consider in particular all the games we play and all the scenarios in which we play them. We play games in the office, in the realms of dating and relationships, in the checkout line at the grocery store when we talk to strangers to pass the time. All these separate interactions are games with their own pieces and rules. And it's crucial to learn what rules and pieces apply to each game.

I saw these points played out recently when I took my kids to a local park. A group of girls came along and started screaming and telling each other to shut up in a manner that used certain four-letter words. I considered saying something to the girls but then decided it was better to ignore them. Either they had never learned the rules of this specific game or they had made a conscious effort to ignore the rules. Whatever the situation, I didn't get the feeling they were in the mood for redirection, so I instead redirected my daughter to the other side of the playground.

How many other kids will over time be discouraged from playing with these girls? And what other adults will decline invitations to play with them over the next few decades?

I think about my parental responsibility in regard to these games. Am I doing my part to teach my children the rules that will integrate them with society? And, perhaps more importantly, am I teaching them how to identify the rules I'm prone to overlook?

I can think of a few games I had to learn on my own as I grew out of an awkward childhood and into an awkward adulthood: the games of eye contact and firm handshakes and speaking clearly and confidently. I remember getting laid off thirteen months into a new career, when I learned my parents' advice to keep my head down and work hard was one of the rules of a vintage version of the employment game. The modern version has different rules dictating that you should never get too comfortable in one place and that, as the labor market continues to evolve, you may be better off as a generalist, as opposed to putting all your eggs in one basket as a specialist. For my generation and all who follow, adaptability may well be our best skill, not only in the workplace but also in the broader landscape.

Sometimes the rules of the game suck and should be changed, but I worry about any new rules that seem to have been created and distributed by a handful of armchair philosophers on Twitter. Change is inevitable and in some ways necessary, but it should be thought out, for even the best-meaning rule change has unintended consequences. This is the never-ending struggle between progressives and conservatives.

Lately, when I think about the games we all must play, I think about them in the context of Scott Galloway's Great Dispersion, the concern that the novel coronavirus has accelerated the demise of some meeting places which once brought people together—such as shopping malls and movie theaters—and that as we become more comfortable using technology to do more at home, we will miss out on opportunities to mingle with people from different backgrounds and classes. Will we further lose connection and empathy as a result?

I'm already worried about the side effects children will suffer after nearly two years of strained interactions courtesy of the global pandemic. And how will adults be similarly affected?

There are certain games, such as professional networking, that I haven't played in nearly two years. Will I again—or to what extent?

How many games have we forgotten to play? Do we care to learn them again? And which should we not feel bad if we never play again?

My daughter pulling her wagon through the park #essays #platitudes

LaCazes never give up.

I cringed when I heard my son once mutter those words. Some people would have you believe that I should have poked my chest out with pride and then yelled out Hell yeah! and head butted him in my excitement. Instead I told him that quitting can be a great option. He raised an eyebrow at my crazy talk, but I was sincere.

I thought back to early 2009 when I was selling cars (or at least trying to) in Ruston, Louisiana. I was a horrible fit for the job. I was too anxious and insecure when dealing with people. I don't get excited about cars; I see them more as expensive depreciating tools rather than something to get excited about. I don't know the difference between a 5.4L engine and a 2.7L engine; hell, I don't even know if those are actual engines.

Throw in the fact that I was selling cars in the height of the Great Recession when automotive financing was hard to come by, and it's not hard to see why I was eating a lot of ramen and chicken nuggets during those days.

I could have stuck with it. I could have gritted my teeth and plowed through until I figured it out and became the car selling king of Ruston, then Louisiana, then THE WORLD. Or I could go another path, when someone offered me a job in oil and gas abstracting, which is what I did. In this scenario, quitting was the right option.

Some people gravitate to absolutist statements like the quote opening this blog post because such quotes are simple. They don't require much thought once you've memorized the words and have gotten the rhythm down. They seemingly clarify the world and all its challenges.

If only life could be so simple as to navigate via a handful of sayings...

Perhaps this obsession is greatest on LinkedIn (or at least within my network), where I am bombarded with posts assuring me that attitude is everything and hard work always pays off. Sure, there's some truth to these statements, but I have problems with their absolutist nature.

And then there's my crown jewel of a pet peeve: the advice to never give up.

Barf. How short-sighted.

As I've already stated, quitting can be a great option, a point Seth Godin makes in his book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). Godin says sometimes we have to grit our teeth to get through the dip, that lull we may find ourselves in before we climb our way out to greater success. But sometimes we may find ourselves in a perpetual dip because we're dedicating our time and effort to the wrong thing, such as getting our VCR repair business off the ground.

So often we hear stories of entrepreneurs who stuck with it despite the odds, but we forget that many of them quit other projects before their successes. They did not stick with the losing projects. Instead, they carried the lessons from their failures to new adventures. In Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein argues that variety of experience can be a great asset, and sometimes that variety is acquired through quitting and moving on to new projects.

On his various podcasts and blogs, Scott Galloway has repeated the point it's better to fail early than late. The sooner you fail, the more time is on your side, giving you more chance to recover and find success elsewhere.

This line of thinking isn't anything new. People knew this centuries ago, as pointed in the September 19th entry of The Daily Stoic (See below.)

The September 19 entry of The Daily Stoic September 19 entry of The Daily Stoic

Flexibility and adaptability are just as valuable as grit and determination.

The point of this post is not to argue that we should quit at the first sign of difficulty. I do not seek to counter an absolutist statement with another absolutist statement. Only a Sith deals in absolutes, as Obi-Wan Kenobi tells us in his own absolutist words.

The point is that quitting can be a great option. But how do we know when it is a great option and when it's not? Welcome to the fun of being human, an exercise in navigating through endless uncertainty.

Joe Aillet Stadium, home of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs football team #essays #selfimprovement

If, before the 2021 college football season started, you had told me that my Louisiana Tech Bulldogs would start the season 1-2, with a grand total of three points keeping them from a 3-0 start, I would probably have said that wasn't too bad.

But my perspective would sour if you had told me my alma mater would lose by one point to Mississippi State despite entering the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead. My perspective would further sour if you told me the Dawgs would lose to SMU two weeks later after a go-ahead Hail Mary touchdown with less than a minute to play.

The differences in these reactions are a reminder that the final score doesn't paint the complete picture. There's always a story beyond the scoreboard.

Once we've established who won, we then likely ask: How did the victor come out on top?

Did a consistent ground game control the clock? Did a relentless aerial assault overwhelm the opposition? Did a dominant defense stop plays before they could start?

These days I often find myself more interested in the story of the game than the game itself. And as I've focused more on story, I've been thinking about the story of the game of my own life.

In the past, I've had a habit of telling a negative story about myself. I told a story focused on failures and lack of accomplishment and all the ways in which I was unremarkable. We often have no problem identifying the ways in which we fall short, so finding such material was easy.

But what if we tell ourselves better stories about ourselves? What if we focus instead on our accomplishments—both in the past and those to come?

How often do we tell stories about ourselves? What is a job interview, if not telling the story of your past professional successes and the bigger successes to follow? What about first dates?

It's not enough for us to recall the play-by-play for certain events. It's not enough to repeat the final scores. We need to slide a story in there somewhere. This doesn't apply only when we win. It also applies to the losses.

Sometimes putting a proper story behind a loss can be more important. Where did things go wrong? Where were your blind spots? What could you have done differently? These are some of the questions our stories can answer.

I've always had a self-deprecating sense of humor, and I expect that to remain true to some degree. You can't take yourself too seriously, after all.

But I noticed recently that I haven't been as harsh on myself and I have been telling a better story. And I'm pretty sure it all began by first telling that better story to myself.

Ducks at Grapevine Lake #essays #tutorials #socialmedia #twitter

My strategy for using Twitter in 2021 means using twitter.com and Twitter's official apps as little as possible. Instead, I rely on a couple third-party apps and services for a better experience: NetNewsWire and micro.blog.

If you've never considered using anything other than Twitter's official offerings, you may be asking why anyone would do such a thing. I'll give a couple reasons below.

That damn timeline

You never know what tweets Twitter's algorithm will throw at you if you stick with the default Home option for your timeline.

Screenshot of Twitter's timeline options

Sure, you can opt to view latest tweets first for a chronological view, but I can't help questioning the setting's consistency when old tweets reappear in my timeline. Also, the timeline view seems to reset to the default Home option from time to time. And then there are those damn ads that pop in and confuse you.

Enter NetNewsWire, a free RSS reader for Mac and iOS.

In addition to subscribing to your favorite blog feeds, NetNewsWire can connect to your Twitter account and provide a feed of tweets from the accounts you follow. Tweets are mostly in reverse chronological order, though I have noticed some threads do get out of order. But I'll blame that on the tweeters since any thread over three tweets long should be a blog post anyway.

How much does NetNewsWire cost?

Free. Simple as that. Though, as previously noted, this app is only for Mac and iOS.

Getting sucked into the abyss of tweets

You get on Twitter to post one thing. You glance at your timeline. You look up and three hours have passed.

This is where micro.blog comes in.

micro.blog is a Twitter alternative that allows you to microblog (and also blog longform) from your own domain.

Connect your Twitter account and you can cross-post to your Twitter timeline. I especially like that micro.blog allows you to cross-post from multiple external RSS feeds, so micro.blog is my hub for cross-posting my blogs to Twitter.

Because things tend to be slower on micro.blog, there are fewer opportunities to get sucked into a rabbit hole. So I can post, check in on micro.blog, and then go on my merry way.

How much does micro.blog cost?

micro.blog offers three tiers for individuals: – free – $5 a month – $10 a month (includes podcast hosting)

micro.blog also offers a Teams option for $20 a month.

A better Twitter experience

In short, NetNewsWire and micro.blog combine to create a Twitter experience that works for me. While I wouldn't subscribe to micro.blog only for the option to cross-post to Twitter, I do feel that the option adds value to my subscription.

On the other hand, at the low, low cost of free, NetNewsWire is worth the cost of a download, and more.

rocks welcoming you to the Rock Art Trail #essays #inspiration

If you've ever sought advice to combat writer's block or to rediscover inspiration, you've likely stumbled upon the advice to go on a walk. And if you're in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I would amend that advice by recommending you take a walk on the Rock Art Tail in Grapevine's Parr Park.

The Rock Art Trail is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a path lined with painted and decorated rocks. The rocks come in all sizes, shapes, and flavors.

Unsurprisingly, many works professed the creator's love of the Great State.

rocks at the entrance of the Rock Art Trail

A rock with major Texas cities and regions

Some rocks celebrated alma maters or cartoon and comic book characters. Some were pieces of larger works.

Rocks forming a rainbow at the Rock Art Trail

Some were products of their time.

A rock dedicated to someone who died of COVID-19

A rock of a heart wearing a mask for COVID

Some were intended to be inspirational.

Some sought to give practical advice.

And some were pure silliness.

Pet rock cemetery

But collectively, the rocks filled me with wonder. I marveled at the work that went into creating some of the rock art. The effort to paint the scenes. The time spent to find the perfect rock. How many people poked out their chests as they boasted about their participation in a Guinness record?

The trail served as a reminder of our desire to be a part of something, and a reminder that, regardless of what some people or outlets may make you believe, there are still beautiful somethings to be part of.

More pictures available in my snap.as gallery

#essays #fear #health

I cried when I read the lab results from my latest annual exam. Not because the results were bad. Quite the opposite—I'm a healthy adult male with imperfect cholesterol. But I'm not alarmed; I'm simply aware.

I smiled as I re-read the results and then I thought back to my first visit with that same doctor four years earlier. I had cried when my doctor asked if my parents were still alive and I had to tell her no—they've been dead for a while now. Cancer got them. I would later break down when I got to my car and then somehow fake my way through the rest of the workday.

Then I thought back to a moment before that doctor's visit, when I told my counselor I was afraid to get a checkup.

“What if you go to the doctor and everything is fine?” my counselor asked.

“I'll just think the cancer hasn't come yet,” I told her.

For a while, that was my fear, and that fear kept me away from the doctor for years. But that fear was nowhere to be found as I leaned against my car, in front of my mailbox, and shuffled through the paperwork from my latest visit.

To say I no longer worry about cancer would be dishonest. Cancer has taken more family than just my parents. But I do have certain factors in my favor. For one, I don't smoke. I don't work around the smog of heavy machinery. I'm prioritizing exercise. And I now get regular annual exams. I do have some things I need to improve on—like my diet, as my doctor reminded me.

Still, that old fear may come to be true. But it's not true now, so I should live my best cancer-free life while I can.

For too long, I let fear paralyze me. Fear led to inaction. But action has proven the best antidote to fear. Our fears are often worse than reality. This is a lesson I'm constantly relearning.

How else am I letting fear get in the way? Where else can I take one small step to shut down that unhelpful part of my brain?

Enough about me.

What about you?

lights at a Jesus and Mary Chain concert #essays #technology

On this blog, I recently asked why I keep coming back to social media and other platforms, and now I'm asking exactly how much digital convenience I need in my life.

I first asked this question sometime in the last couple years when I started examining my relationship with notifications. For most of my cellular life, I was the type of person to keep all the apps on his phone and also keep all notifications enabled. Because FOMO.

But that changed when I found myself on a quest to regain my attention.

First, I mostly disabled push notifications. One notable exception does come to mind: I retained push notifications for text messages. Fortunately, while hardly anyone wants to contact me, this is especially true for people who know me well enough to have my phone number, so this exception isn't as antithetical as it may sound.

I often go back and forth on exactly which apps I should keep on my phone because even with notifications disabled, certain apps tempt me to check in far too often.

So which ones should be removed completely? Twitter? RSS reader? Banking and investing? Do I really need to invest via my phone?

These questions force me to ask how I view my cellphone and how exactly I want to use it, because it is a tool, after all. We're reaching the point where we can do almost anything—or at least anything I want to do—with our phones. But just because we can perform a specific task on our phones doesn't mean we should, for no other reason than I'm an old man who's more effective with a physical keyboard and mouse than with onscreen controls. Some tasks are better put off until I have access to a better machine, such as my desktop or maybe even my iPad with a bigger screen.

Being intentional about which apps I hang on to forced me to acknowledge that every app is an opportunity for distraction, so which apps are worth that risk? I know I need a navigation app since I am directionally challenged. But GPS apps have never been unwelcome distractions, so they're free to stick around.

I ramped up thinking about these and similar questions more after I dove back into Douglas Ruskhoff's Team Human, which argues that we don't use systems like technology and markets so much as they use us. (One could argue that linking to the book via Amazon is a slap in the face to Team Human, and one may have a point.) We're more aware than ever before of the ways technologies like social media influence us via algorithms and showing us content we're sure to like rather than showing us reality.

With cellphones in our pockets, we're in an age of unprecedented convenience, but whom does that convenience serve? Surely some degree of friction is healthy as our persistence in spite of it reveals what truly matters, right?

Ever since I heard Chuck Palahniuk explain to Joe Rogan the difference between writing and typing, I've tried to identify the point at which technology gets in the way or—at the very least—stops adding value to the process. But as is often the case, I am able to identify that line only once I've identified my goals. And that process starts with asking the right questions, something I consider the real point of this blog.

my home sit-stand desk #essays #books #WeWork #business

If you had to sum up in only a few sentences the WeWork debacle to someone unfamiliar with the situation, how would you do so? The following quote from The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell would be my candidate.

But prior to the prospectus becoming public, bankers and other advisers had continued to shower [Adam] Neumann with praise—giving him criticism too infrequently and too meekly. These advisers either ignored or danced around the company's obvious warts and red flags.

Now, at the eleventh hour, they finally spoke up. But the IPO was already on life support.

If you have any interest in investing time reading about business train wrecks rather than investing your money into them, then pick up a copy of The Cult of We. Throughout the book, I often found myself shaking my head in disbelief, amazed at how many smart and successful people overlooked what should have been obvious red flags, such as CEO Adam Neumann's selling too many shares too soon, Neumann's constant power grabs, a private company buying a $63 million private jet even though it was hemorrhaging cash despite having had plenty time to find a path to profitability—the list goes on.

WeWork's business model was simple. They leased up office buildings, prettied the spaces up to attract Millennials, and subleased the space at a premium. Their plan was hardly unique, as Regus had done the same a couple decades earlier. No matter how you cut it, WeWork was a real estate company. Yet many viewed it as a tech company, which justified the crazy valuations it had received before its IPO. WeWork would not have been valued so high if it were seen as a real estate company, since real estate companies are unable to scale as well as tech companies. It was the era of the visionary founder, and if the founder said WeWork was a tech company, then it must be a tech company.

Neumann and Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank, had convinced themselves that WeWork was a $10 trillion company, basically because they dared to dream so. The authors point out that, in 2018, the entire value of the U.S. stock market was $30 trillion. (Take a moment to let that sink in.)

Neumann and Son laid out a plan to reach the ambitious valuation while never acknowledging all the obstacles they would face. Neumann believed he could change the world in myriad ways: from how people work and live to how they educate their children.

Neumann and his wife Rebeka had convinced themselves they were environmentalists despite riding freely on the aforementioned private jet and even taking an abundance of WeWork's unused couches to landfills. Rebeka had described the family as minimalists despite having at one time owned at least eight homes.

In summary, the delusions ran far and wide.

The story was a reminder of a crucial life lesson: Don't be afraid to question the herd; just because the herd buys into the same narrative doesn't mean they're right. And you're not wrong to question the herd.

The story also reminded me of similar moments I've experienced in thirteen years as a petroleum landman.

The first such moment came early in my career, when I was working in Dallas-Fort Worth's Barnett Shale play. In the shadow of the Great Recession, the natural gas play was a bright spot and a boost to the local economy. Everyone involved in the industry was in high spirits, some even claiming the boom times could last 20 years. I remember raising an eyebrow at that declaration. I couldn't make a convincing case for why the boom wouldn't last 20 years, other than a feeling in my gut that such good times are unlikely to last so long. Within 13 months, my employer had closed its Fort Worth office and most of the former occupants were looking for jobs, as natural gas crashed from all-time highs and is only now, over a decade later, showing signs of significant recovery.

The second such moment came when I moved to West Texas in 2012. The Permian Basin is no stranger to boom-and-bust cycles, so the narrative wasn't exactly the same as the Barnett Shale in 2008-2009. Instead, the collective wisdom was: This boom is different, whatever that meant. While the Permian Basin does not appear to be at risk of going the way of the Barnett, the area has still seen fluctuations in the near-decade since. The cycle of booms and busts is more frequent than in past decades, but the cycle still exists.

The Cult of We is not just a business book or a biography of a company that went from rising star to laughing stock in the blink of an eye. The book is also a warning: Never underestimate someone's ability to be out of touch with reality.

my daughter trying to hack the Mac #essays #socialmedia #authenticity

I've quit social media numerous times over the last decade. But I've recently been pulled back in.

So why do I keep coming back?

Other than the fact I lack in moral fiber...

These days crapping on technology is fashionable. We like to focus only on the negative. Everyone's angry and toxic. Fake news runs amuck. Our FOMO means we never have a moment's peace or contentment.

But we forget to give credit where credit is due, which means acknowledging that the internet and social networks do still deliver good, in the opportunity to connect with others.

I'm still naive that I can recapture the wonder that originally attracted me to the internet. That feeling of genuine connection with people you likely wouldn't have met otherwise. Is it still possible in 2021? Sure.  Is it harder to do so? It sure feels that way.

A friend and I recently had a conversation about authenticity (or lack thereof) on the internet. Our initial gripe centered around how so much content feels like a copy of a copy of a copy. It's as if most people online ran over to Google and searched for what works on the internet and followed the advice to the letter.

For an example, look at how many YouTube videos have unnecessary quick cuts, as if a single second of imperfection will kill the video. And hey, maybe it will. Maybe the data support the paranoia.

Find a product you're interested in buying and watch some video reviews and keep track of how much information is presented in the same way. How many of these reviewers reach the same exact conclusions? Maybe they reach the same conclusions because the conclusions are objectively true. Or maybe all the creators are following the same script.

Anyone interacting with me anywhere other than this blog has likely heard me rant about the bad storytelling on LinkedIn. I apologize for repeating myself yet again, but the problem irks me to the point that I wonder if I should even browse through LinkedIn for worthwhile content when the majority of what I see is formulaic and unhelpful. But still, I believe in the opportunity to connect, so I stay. I do have to remember that I have gotten at least one job via the site.

With the good comes the bad, so we must remember: Everything in life has a cost, and fitting in is no different.

No one should be a lone wolf, if for no other reason than that wolves are social creatures who understand the value of belonging to a pack. At the same time, no one should be the kind of person who does anything to fit in. Being human is an art, and that art includes finding the balance between fitting in and being an individual. This balance is what gives us our authenticity. This balance says: You know how to fit in, but you also know when it's time to stand alone.

Sometimes this art can be tough to accomplish online, when likes and follower counts allow you to measure how liked you are at any moment. Chances are you don't have comparable metrics for your offline interactions.

Does our online content have any value without the metrics to back it up? Wow, that feels like an online existential crisis waiting to happen.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we put ourselves out there for a reason. We want validation of some sort from the online communities that we choose. Likes. Follows. Retweets. Recognition from a more successful person with more status. Choose your metric.

We can play it cool and pretend we don't care, but if that were the case, we would keep our work and thoughts to ourselves for no one else to discover and consider. In hopes of being authentic, I don't want to fake humility. There is a certain selfishness that comes with writing and putting your thoughts into the ether to see what—if anything—happens as a result.

I guess I need to think about the metrics I'll choose to measure my success.

me looking out the window during Texas's 2021 winter storm #essays #covid19 #Stoicism

On his podcast, Bret Easton Ellis first referred to the pandemic as “the season of the virus” and then “the year of the virus.” Because we can now see that this pandemic may rage on indefinitely, I propose that we refer to it as “The Perpetual Pandemic.”

I've been trying to come to terms with what exactly a perpetual pandemic will entail, not for the sake of fear mongering, but for the sake of managing expectations, an exercise that I (and many others) failed at when I saw the availability of vaccines as a sign of smoother sailing across these chaotic seas. I now believe—as I read elsewhere—this uptick in covid cases is a reminder that this pandemic will not be over until the world at large has access to vaccines.

The good news is that, as things stand, vaccinated individuals do not have as much reason to worry as they did last year, as they now have a line of defense against the virus. However, the newer strains of the virus are more infectious, and the vaccines are not a guarantee against infection. Maybe the virus will mutate to the point that vaccines and boosters are useless. Who knows, but isn't that always the case? Also, children under 12 are not currently eligible for vaccines, so parents of young children are likely feeling extra stress as cases rise.

Over the last few weeks, I've been telling myself that this perpetual pandemic is an exercise in Stoicism. I recently heard a great summing up of Stoicism on a podcast which I unfortunately cannot remember to credit, but the summary went something like this: Doing the best you can with what you've got, where you are.

Stoicism also sounds a lot like the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,courage to change the things I can,and wisdom to know the difference.

Basically, Stoicism urges people to focus on what they can control while ignoring everything else.

Keeping that in mind, I have to accept that I cannot control whether others choose to get vaccinated. I did what I thought was the right thing and got vaccinated. That's all I have control over in this situation. I'm not convinced that yelling at people and telling them to get the shot is going to do any good, as their minds are made up. At the same time, I can't tell others that they're wrong to have concerns about the vaccines, because I've had my own concerns. That said, my energy would be better spent in preparing for what lies ahead.

So what exactly lies ahead?

Because I live in Texas, I do not expect to be subject any more lockdowns. That's pretty much where the certainty ends. The rest is anyone's guess.

I'm embarrassed to say that, even though I've had it pretty good during this pandemic, I still had trouble adjusting in 2020. I was never able to embrace working from home before offices reopened. I had difficulty accepting I couldn't go somewhere else just to get away for a bit. I will give myself some credit and say that adjusting to the pandemic brought a lot of change at a lightning pace, and at times the adjustment felt similar to grief. And remember: Grief isn't linear, so of course our emotions have bounced all over the place since March 2020.

But this time around, I'm leaning in to working from home, along with other necessary changes. Instead of surviving until get things better, I'm working on thriving during the inevitable. I'm reminding myself that waiting around for situations to improve is often a terrible strategy.

The few months of letting our guards down after being fully vaccinated were a nice reprieve from what first started as a two-week struggle to “flatten the curve,” only to morph into a seemingly never-ending plague. While the current mood is a step down from our spring optimism, at least things (hopefully) won't be as bad as our initial response.

But still, I want to get it right this time. Life is hard enough without your getting in your own way.