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Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:20 am

Last month I tapped a co-worker on the shoulder and she spun around and proceeded to chew me out and threaten me. A friend who I generally thought of as fairly leveled headed is starting to talk about the violent overthrow of the government. A rather non-threatening drunk woman in the E.R. is told to comply or she will be mopping up urine with her hair by a health care professional. An overweight, 50+ urbanite with joint problems and addiction prone spouse that has never grown a vegetable in her life and does not know the difference between alternating and direct current sits down to tell me how she and her husband are considering moving to the North Shore of Lake Superior. They want to buy a farm and grow all of their own food in a green house to be heated all winter long with a windmill. We are getting to the point of the economic/energy collapse where people are starting to get funny; and we should only expect it to get worse.

When I was fourteen I took a water rescue course and among the lessons that I have retained to this day was the only day I have ever been given permission to punch someone. As a rescuer approaches a drowning swimmer there is a very real risk that the drowning person will, in the course of panic, doom the would-be rescuer by grabbing them and pulling them under. We were instructed on how to approach a drowning person and, if all else failed, to punch them and knock them unconscious before placing them in a rescue position and swimming with them to shore. “If you can not do this,” the instructor continued, “swim away. Do not let them take you down with them.”

People are starting to get irrational. They are starting to panic. Even if you are more resilient and able to keep your composure as we spin down the energy drain there is the very real risk that someone proximate to you could take you down with them. This phenomenon could manifest itself in any of a spectrum of particular ways. The most dramatic, and rare, would be a “postal” co-worker or spouse who sends you to sleep with the ancients but there are many other possible manifestations of the some kind of panicked behavior threatening your plans to weather the energy drain.

As people react to the stress of our current economic environment, an environment likely to become more stressful as the decline of oil fields are felt in the geopolitical and economic scenes, individuals will begin to act out in unexpected ways. Individuals who barely retain the emotional resiliency to carry on their work and life under normal circumstances will find themselves unable to cope which may manifest itself by lashing out or making accusations of co-workers. It does not matter how recession proof your job is if you are run out of the place on trumped up charges from a co-worker. Political violence is liable, as Nancy Pelosi tearfully warned us, to become hip once again. Agitated drivers may just decide that they have had too much and target someone who stands as a symbol for the individual or group whom they blame for their troubles.

All of these are the risks that now, and with increasing intensity and frequency face the resilient. Navigating this minefield is the task currently before us. As one swimmer to another let me offer some unsolicited advice.

    1. Remember what brought you this far. I am assuming that you are not on the edge of “losing it” and taking others down with you in the panic. Remember what has kept you grounded to this point and able to move forward with a relatively coherent mind. Remember what your goals are in this time of economic and social decline and avoid the temptation to mission drift. I am focused on getting my family through the difficult transition to come in a manner that they shall be able to build on the foundations of what is left. I will leave it to others to storm castles and other destructive behavior regardless of how tempting it may become in the days to come. Have priorities and stick to them.

    2. Blend. The unobserved nail does not get hammered. This sounds simplistic but be mindful of who your co-workers are, their psychological strengths and weaknesses and then keep your impulses in check. The moment may call for a leader but leaders have a way of getting crucified. No good deed will go unpunished if it is shown to someone who is already going out the door anyway. They may misread your good intentions and get you involved in a manner that can not end well. Likewise, take that bumper sticker off your car. It does not matter what it says or promotes; it identifies you with a cause. No matter how mundane or tangential some sinking swimmer might grab on to it as a way to vent their frustration. The key is to go unnoticed. Get rid of anything which distinguishes yourself and can get you noticed. Do not antagonize anyone unnecessarily. Do not raise a fuss without an explicit plan. Camouflage is your friend so the time has come to blend in.

    3. Deal with the real. I have a friend who, when a conversation gets too doomy likes to say, “Well I choose to believe that…” We choose our friends and we choose the color of shirt we will wear today but we do not choose the nature of reality that surrounds us. The time of ridged adherence to a party line is pass. It does not matter if the reality of our situation sounds too liberal or the right way forward reminds us of a neo-conservative. We can no longer get tripped up by our daddy issues or our mother’s deficiencies. You are already a prisoner to the physical world; we have had the luxury of pretending otherwise for the last few decades. That luxury is about to disappear. You can either surrender it freely or have it pried from you cold dead hand. I would advise the former.

    4. Relax. Unnecessary hyper-vigilance will turn you and those around you into a basket case. Yes, everything is going to fall apart around you, that does not mean you should jump or worry about every bit of falling plaster. Heck, we should probably learn to not jump at every whizzing bullet we hear in the air around us. It is a long swim and the only thing worse than having some drowning swimmer take you down would be to become that drowning swimmer that drowns someone else near you.

We are entering the crazy time. Things will get a lot worse before they get better. Keep your head above water and your powder dry.

-the wisconsin cur

http://www.senecasdog.blogspot.com

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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Re: Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby Jack on Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:39 am

Cogent and timely.

The herd is restless - there is a spreading awareness that change is coming. This sort of change will not be the pleasant kind.
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Re: Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby Ludi on Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:13 am

Very helpful post. Thanks!
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Re: Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby TWilliam on Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:48 am

Words of wisdom Cur, thanks.

One point of note: bullets don't 'whiz' by, they 'crack' or 'snap', much like the sound of a whip, or a firecracker. And you can be far enough away from the shooter to not even hear the report of the weapon itself to be able to judge from whence the shot came, so if you ever hear a loud 'snap' near you with no immediately obvious source, GET DOWN AS LOW AS POSSIBLE AND SEEK COVER FAST. Don't stand there looking around wondering WTF, because the next one might not miss...
Last edited by TWilliam on Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
We all feed on tragedy; it's like blood to a vampire. Vicariously, I live, while the whole world dies. Much better you than I. ~ Tool, Vicarious
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Re: Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby Thralen on Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:52 pm

Very good post. I want to point out something that correlates with some of your points there. For many people it takes some sort of serious trauma or skin of the teeth situation for them to ever "grow up". Some of the reactions you list from "adult"s sound very much like the actions that teenagers take every day. So I hope that perhaps this situation may be the one that gets many to go ahead and finally grow up. It would increase their chances significantly to be a full-fledged adult, with adult reactions and temperament. It would increase ours to be surrounded by such, instead of people in adult bodies that have never have their mental states mature, also.

Also, yes they do teach that re:drowning victims. Having worked as a lifeguard for several summers when I was younger I'll vouch for the "if they threaten to take you down, disable them however you have to" that is taught. They tell you to extend a life buoy at arm's reach to such so as not to endanger yourself and if they are too far gone to hang on to the buoy then you need to consider whether it is safe to save them or not. Very pertinent advice in much more than water rescue (in my opinion).

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Re: Surfing the energy drain

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:09 am

TWilliam wrote:Words of wisdom Cur, thanks.

One point of note: bullets don't 'whiz' by, they 'crack' or 'snap', much like the sound of a whip, or a firecracker. And you can be far enough away from the shooter to not even hear the report of the weapon itself to be able to judge from whence the shot came, so if you ever hear a loud 'snap' near you with no immediately obvious source, GET DOWN AS LOW AS POSSIBLE AND SEEK COVER FAST. Don't stand there looking around wondering WTF, because the next one might not miss...


Thanks all and thank you for the clairifying point TW. I was thinking in metaphor at the time. That part of my advice should not be taken literally.
http://www.senecasdog.blogspot.com

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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