Category: personal

How to Win an Argument When You’re Wrong

I get it. Sometimes, we all say things that just aren’t right. We have beliefs we can’t back up worth a bean. But just because we think something that’s totally unjustified, doesn’t mean we need to lose when we argue for our point of view with anyone else. If there’s one thing I’m learning from our current political environment, it’s that you can win just about any argument as long as you approach it the right way. Here’s my breakdown of Important Steps to Follow:

  1. If at all possible, try to move the focus of the argument away from the area where you’re completely wrong, and over to safer territory. If the argument is about who should do the dishes, and you haven’t done the dishes in five months, switch the battleground to something where you’re stronger. Say . . . the ultimate breakdown of household chores. It doesn’t really matter where an argument begins. All that matters is where it ends. And you winning.
  2. Keep track of several irrelevant weaknesses of your opponents. Whenever they draw blood in an argument, whip out those weaknesses and divert the attention away from your own. So what if you didn’t do the dishes this month. They didn’t remember your birthday three years ago. I think we can all agree that people who don’t remember birthdays are far less caring than people who do minor things like “live like a complete and utter slob.”
  3. Never, ever, EVER let yourself be suckered into allowing the argument to shift toward verifiable facts. Facts are not your friends when you know you’re wrong. As soon as the argument shifts into absolute truths, you’re going to be sunk. So keep it grounded in generalities if at all possible. Things that can’t really be proven one way or another. Ideally, things you can say are a certain way, without anyone coming along to question those statements.
  4. Ask for proof when someone makes a claim against you. Lots of proof. No matter how much proof they provide, question its reliability and ask for more. Who cares if they’ve been keeping a “Who Did the Dishes Diary” for the past several years. Was it just them keeping it? Why wasn’t it an uninvolved bystander? Should we really allow their evidence to stand when it’s so clearly biased?
  5. When things aren’t going your way, you can always shift from generalities into hyper-specifics. (If you do this fast enough, it’ll really stump your opponent.) What does “doing the dishes” mean, anyway? What does it consist of? You brought a dish to the sink last February. Isn’t that part of “doing the dishes”? Why haven’t we ever really nailed down this definition? Can you honestly be expected to live according to a standard that (up to now) was so loosely defined? I mean, you can commit to following anything from now on. You’re a reasonable person. But let’s not be petty about things and take cheap pot shots just because you haven’t scrubbed a pot in the last decade.
  6. If you happen to be painted into a corner with facts and hard evidence that destroy any shred of a hope you have of actually winning the argument, fall back on the old reliable approach : deny. Deny the proof. Deny that you said that. Deny it’s your voice on the recording. Deny it’s you on that video tape. Just keep denying things. In the end, an argument is won by the person willing to keep arguing. Anyone walking away from the argument is clearly the loser. Deny until they give up.
  7. Always remember that logical fallacies are your friend. Straw man arguments. False dichotomies. Slippery slopes. Use these as much as possible. Ideally, your opponent will call you out on them, and then you can switch the argument away from where you’re losing and over to safer ground: about how your opponent uses hoity toity language to try and distract from what really matters.

With these simple steps, you’re pretty much guaranteed to never lose an argument ever. Which you can brag about often to anyone who actually still cares to listen to what you have to say. #winning

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

What Simple Things Make You Happy?

I’ll be honest: ever since we bought our new bed, I really love lying down each night when I go to sleep. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like every time, I’m just extremely happy with the choice we made to buy that mattress. Yes, I realize that makes me sound like a total shill, and the mattress isn’t for everyone, but boy do I sleep well on that thing, and it cost half of what another decent mattress would cost. Add to that the fact that Denisa and I have our own, unconnected mattress each, so we don’t feel it if the other person is tossing or turning at night, AND that it’s a king size equivalent, so my feet don’t stick off the end of the bed . . .

It just makes me happy.

So I wanted to try and think of other things that make me happy like that. Simple things. They don’t have to be too elaborate. It’s November, after all. The month of Thanksgiving. And so here’s my list of Simple Things that Make Me Happy:

  • My new bed (see above)
  • Walking through freshly fallen leaves: I love the sound they make and how they smell, and I love how they remind me every time that I’ve arrived at my favorite stretch of the year. Fall into winter. Great holidays. Football. Wood stoves. Mulled cider. Snow days. Good times ahead.
  • My new addition to my house: It all turned out pretty much exactly like I pictured it. I’ve got my huge projection screen, a quiet place to sleep, a great bathroom, a cool loft. I’m continually pleased with how it all ended up, which is good, since I’m up there a lot.
  • Finishing the crossword each day (without looking at the answers). It feels even better in the last half of the week. Sense of accomplishment!
  • Being able to download anything I want on my phone, and not having to delete other stuff to make room for it. Getting the bigger sized storage was totally worth it.
  • Playing Magic the Gathering: Arena. (I probably have too much fun playing this.)
  • Seeing my kids succeed in something they’ve worked hard to achieve.
  • Eating my chocolate banana shake at night when I’m dieting. I look forward to it the whole day. It’s always the same thing, and I always love it.
  • Waking up to a message on my phone telling me it’s a snow day, and I can sleep in, instead.
  • Reading a book or watching a show that’s so good, I decide to sleep less so I can consume more of it. (Though definitely *not* the feeling of waking up the next morning after having done this.)

I’m sure I could go on, but there’s a least a sampling of the little things for me. How about you? What little things make you disproportionately happy?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

How Are You Doing?

“How are you doing?”

It’s a question we’re asked multiple times each day. And each time I’m asked it, my default answer has been to say something kind of self deprecating or unexpected. “Awake.” “Here.” “Ooooookay.” I don’t know how I fell into the habit, but it’s just what kind of developed on its own.

And today, I decided to switch things up. To start answering “good” or “great” or “excellent” to the question. Why? Because I wondered if in all my “awake” answers, I wasn’t subconsciously convincing myself that I was just okay and not great.

Things are going well for me, for the most part. (I always feel the need to add that disclaimer, as if that will ward off anything bad happening as a result of stating publicly things are good.) If I can’t respond “great” to the question “how are you doing?” right now, when can I?

Some of my response might come from having lived in Germany for two years, where they take the question very literally. (Seriously. Never ask a German Oma how she’s doing unless you want detailed descriptions of her health and bowel movements.) But I think there’s some power to be found in positive thinking and positive self-affirmation.

In other words, if I tell people I’m just okay all day, every day, I think it might make me start to believe it. So if I tell people I’m great all day every day, I want to see if the same thing works in reverse.

Will this make my life magically even more awesome? Probably not. But maybe it’ll help me appreciate the good in my life a bit more, and help me be more upbeat.

We shall see . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I’m not a person who typically scares too easy these days. I still don’t really enjoy purely horror movies, as I don’t like jump scares much at all. But over the past few months, I’ve had two experiences come up that highlighted some areas where I’m more afraid of things than I thought I was.

First, the balconies in Hungary. Two of the apartments we stayed in where on upper floors of the building. Fourth floor or so. And in both cases, they had these long outdoor corridors that had nothing between you and a very long drop to the ground but a seemingly-flimsy metal railing that wasn’t even that high. I found myself practically hugging the wall each time I had to walk down one of those, and I kept yelling at my kids to stay away from the edge. The image of how easy it would be for someone to fall over those railings was just too hard for me to get out of my head. I still shudder to think about it.

The second experience happened earlier this week. I was down in my basement checking my oil tank to see if we were approaching the time when we’d need to fill up. And as I was down there, in that dimly lit space stuffed with storage bins and cobwebs, something . . . scrabbled. Claws on cement. This was too loud for a scurry. I’ve got plenty of experience hearing mice in the walls these days. (Old farmhouse.) No, this had weight to it.

I froze and looked around, eyeing all the places where something my dart out from the shadows at me. I moved a little, and the sound repeated. This time I could tell better where it was coming from. I looked over and saw a large rat crawling up the wall and then streaking off into the crawlspace.

That, my friends, gave me the heebie jeebies.

Of course, I went right upstairs and grabbed the rat trap from my garage, plastered it with peanut butter, and took it down to the basement. But then I had to put it right where I’d seen the rat, and it took a fair bit of effort for me to get the gumption to stick my hand out and place the trap down. I managed to force myself to do it, but I couldn’t dismiss the thought of a rat darting out and attacking me. Never mind the fact that I’ve lived with pet degus for years, and I know how skittish the creatures can be. Down there, the fear instincts were much stronger.

(We’ve caught two rats now, if you’re wondering. And yes, I’m disgusted. But dead rats are much preferable to live rats. One of the things I like least about my house is how easy it is for critters to get in. Not enough to outweigh all the things I love about it, but still . . .

Anyway. There are two irrational fears I’ve recently had. How about you? Anything you’ve caught yourself fearing, even though you know you don’t really need to fear them?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Fun with Canning

We found a wild grape vine on our property last year. A really big one that produces the most delicious concord grapes. Saturday, we picked about 25 pounds of wild grapes. Last year we put them in the freezer and used them for smoothies. This year, we wanted to try branching out some and make juice out of them.

Friends had given us a simple recipe: put 1-2 cups of grapes into a quart sized canning jar. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and then fill the rest of the jar with water. Can it (boiling for 10 minutes), and then wait 4-6 months. Take out the leftover grape bits, and voila! You’ve got grape juice.

I wanted to give it a shot, despite the fact that I have never canned anything in my life. But how hard could it be? You fill the jars, stick some lids on, put them in boiling water and wait for 10 minutes. I know how to boil water, and that sounded like the hardest part of the process.

Denisa assured me it was trickier than that. Jars could burst if you didn’t do it right. They could not seal. Anything might go wrong.

Undeterred, I pushed for us to start right away. DC and I cleaned the grapes while Denisa got the rest of the canning stuff ready. We were sailing along, despite Denisa taking all these silly precautions. Washing the jars multiple times. Trying to keep them warm before we put them in boiling water. This wasn’t rocket science!

In no time, we had six jars ready to go into the water. Just had to wait a little bit for the water to get to a full boil. A few minutes later, we stuck them in all at once. They made a popping noise as they went in.

“See?” I told Denisa. “They’re sealed already.”

“Not quite,” she said. “They’re not supposed to make that sound yet.”

I lifted a jar up to prove her wrong. Except when I raised it out of the water, it was strangely empty. A little farther up, and the cause was clear: the bottom had broken off the jar as cleanly as if it had been cut.

Three of the jars had that happen. The other three were good, but that was a lot of work that disappeared in a quick spray of glass shards. I felt pretty stupid.

Thankfully, it got better from there. We ended up with around 10 jars of juice. Four or six months from now, we’ll know how it tastes. In the meantime, I’ve definitely learned my lesson: listening to Denisa when I’m trying to do something she’s done before and I’ve never tried is . . . definitely a good idea.

Go figure.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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