Sunday Advice Column #41


I had forgotten how much I really dislike painting. Back in New Orleans I had a side gig where I’d repaint apartments for landlords. Most of the work was in the summer, which is not the most fun in Louisiana. Especially when the previous tenant bounces with the A/C window unit.

Mrs. Lott is out of town this weekend, so it was a good one to tear the loft apart and paint. Something that made the process a little better is YouTube. You can go on there and look up tips and tricks for almost any drudgery. If I hadn’t touched up a wall with gloss instead of flat paint, I would’ve been done much sooner.

One thing I didn’t see anywhere was advice on how to paint baseboard trim that touches cork floors. Something I learned the hard way is that you really need to get painter’s tape with hardly any stickiness. I have had a motherfucker of a time getting the tape off. fortunately cork is self healing so you can take any paint or tape gunk off with a bit of sandpaper. In a few spots where the paint got loose and ran, I was able to get into the edge by wrapping a piece of sandpaper around a butterknife. This helps you sand the edge where the trim meets the floor.

Ok, so why am I telling you this house painting nonsense? Well, I have a bit of homework for you this week. Pick one or two boring, time consuming things you do on the regular and spend one hour researching tips, tricks, and hacks on how to do it faster and better. This could be anything from how to clean your car’s headlights to the best way to vacuum a shag carpet. If you use MS Office, go learn a few shortcuts.

Time is a non-replenishable resource. If you take a few minutes to get better and faster at the drudgery in your life, you will have more time and energy for other things. This day-to-day bullshit is never going to go away for most of us, so you may as well get after it and carve out a few more minutes for your creative pursuits.

On to your questions.

What do you think about the Russians “hacking” the election?

Historically, foreign powers have always influenced the elections of sovereign nations. The United States has had its hands dirtied by many regime changes. On the scale of election mischief, I put the well-timed release of stolen emails pretty far below arming rebels and supporting them with drone strikes.

The news I’ve read seems to be concentrating on hacks related to Clinton and her allies’ emails. Ultimately the decision to cheat Bernie Sanders, participate in weird occult food rituals, and any of the other shit that made people hate Clinton is on her team. It’s not like those shenanigans didn’t happen, she just had the “misfortune” of them coming to light.

Sure, some of that shit is “fake news” (the latest buzzword for “opinions that are not ours”). But again, does anyone remember when Harry Reid straight up lied about Mitt Romney not reporting his taxes? That story got legs and some say it cost Romney the election as it helped paint him as a cheating elite. This story was a pants-on-fire-lie and when Reid was questioned about it later, he basically said, “we won didn’t we?”

Fuck that guy.

What I worry about isn’t that Russia might have influenced the election by releasing information about a candidate (it was going to be one of two douches), it’s what government other databases might not have been secure. If there were any breaches like that, we’re in a digital cold war and that should frighten every single person alive.

If there’s one good thing to come from this, it might be that politicians will be less likely to do shady shit in the future for fear their plans will be revealed. However, these crafty fuckers will probably just start using quill pen writing and carrier pigeons to obfuscate their dirty work.

I can imagine a world where Russian drones fly around trying to capture message laden pigeons carrying the marching orders of reptilian oligarchs. That would actually make a pretty kick ass cartoon. Like if it was from the pigeon’s POV. Kind of like The Secret of Nim meets House of Cards.

I’m 20, in college, and I’m looking for a career/major. What should I do? 

If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve gone into some sort of medical profession. If the world continues on as it is, you have a stable high income. If it turns into a dystopian hell-scape filled with warring bands of guerrilla mutants, you will have a tremendously valuable skill set. If you save your hospital money and invest in real estate, arable land, and tools to build machine guns and you’ll be set for life.

Definintely don’t go to school for any major that ends in “studies.” Unless you want to stay poor writing for Buzzfeed or something.

What’s a good job to have while in college?

There are two directions you might go. The first is what I did, bartend. This is the most money you can make per hour and still have a flexible schedule. Instead of going out with your goon friends on the weekend, you’ll battle against bizarro world versions of them each weekend with your bar comrades.

This ends up saving you a lot of money because you can still meet romantic partners, but you don’t need to buy them drinks because you can just give booze to them while you’re working. This is a great plan as long as you stay away from cocaine (as much as possible anyway).

The other thing you could do is look for a job related to your field. For instance, a buddy of mine worked as an EMT while she was getting her pre-med done. Being around the thing you plan to do for the rest of your life, early, will either give you more experience or make you realize the job isn’t for you.

What techniques do you use to stay calm and focused on what’s important, when so many people are clamoring for your time and attention?

I’ve been experimenting with a time budget lately. Basically you just figure out the things you have to do, the things you want to do for yourself, and the things other people want you to do. You only have so many hours in a day and you can’t do it all, so you have to make decisions.

Start with the things you have to do in any normal 24 hour period. The weekend probably doesn’t have “work” but you probably have something to “work on.” For me that looks something like this:

  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 1 hour of dealing with the dogs (walking, feeding, “training”)
  • 2 hours food (average of time to eat, cook, clean, etc.)
  • 8 hours of work
  • 1 hour or so commuting/getting around

This quickly gets me to about 20 hours, leaving just 4 for things I want to do. This might include:

  • 1 hour of reading
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 1 hour of /Netflix/YouTube/online courses, etc.
  • 1 hour of writing

Now I have 1 hour a day to commit to other people’s needs. If you’re married like me, that time is already spoken for. If you have kids, you’re already in time debt and you have to cut something out.

So where does freelance work, concerts, emergencies, home repair, art, writing, apocalypse training, and all the rest fit in? If you look at my schedule, I have almost no time for any of this. So I have to make time for it. I sleep less (not a great plan), eat at my desk, skip lunch, and barely go anywhere. None of that it positive for health.

I recommend being fiercely protective of your time, especially days off. If you don’t recharge and do some things for yourself, you will quickly find yourself unhappy and edgy. I try to spend as much time napping and reading on the weekends as possible.





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