Blog #671 Information Overload – part III

Information Overload – part III

Okay, Information Overload is real – and can swamp you!!!  You can get stressed out, not sure what to believe, and not sure what decisions to make on the data you have.

So, let’s look at some ways to stay afloat.

-1 Alter the delivery

The article says:

“Changing your perception of a task by changing the medium, method or platform you use to work on that task. For example, printing out a document and working with it outside vs. reading the same document on your computer screen at your desk.”

I’ve worked with “Decision Support Systems” in the past.  Some people like charts, some like tables, some even like narratives.  Some want summary reports, others want exception reports (that is, the unusual items).  How do you want your information? Think about it.

-2 Delegate

Again from the article:

“Delegating tasks to the right/relevant teammate or co-worker, rather than taking it on ourselves. This is easy enough to understand, until you realize that on average, 20 percent of the people in your organization are doing roughly 80 percent of the work, which in all likelihood includes you.”

Yes, the old 80/20 rule – 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work.  Somebody in your organization is having an easy time of it and yet has the skills to do more.  At the University of Texas, I was a ‘Senior Lecturer’ not a full professor like I had been for the twenty prior years.  In terms of activities, I wasn’t expected to do much more than teach – and I did have some free time. I could have helped with internal reports and accreditation as I had done that for years.  Maybe there are unutilized people in your department that can help take the load off your shoulders.

3. Escape

Okay, not really ‘escape’.  One of the biggest productivity hits are the interruptions.  You are working on something significant and somebody stops by (with a cup of coffee in her hands) and wants to chat.  Or, you are working hard and you get a phone call.

Can you close your door?  Can you put up a “do not disturb” sign?  Can you unplug your phone (or turn it off)?  Every interruption costs you and the company money.  When you get back to your major project, the first thing you ask yourself (mentally) is “now, where was I”.  You have to get the focus back to the project. If you can, you might want to consider working from home (provided you don’t allow interruptions at home).

-4 Filter

You get a lot of information from websites, from email, from documents – and some is more important that others.

In my last series on Fracking, there was a source from “”.  I can tell just from the website name that this is a group proponent of natural gas (from fracking).  On the other hand I also used USGS – United States Geological Survey as a source. (Hey, if you can’t trust the government, who can you trust?”  <smile>)

There is a fear of “what if I miss something”.  Yes, that is possible. The term I like is “satisficing” – not quite ‘satisfied’ – but close enough.  I could have read many more articles about fracking, but I had ‘enough’ to give me a good picture of the concept.  There is a parallel – FOMO – fear of missing out!!

You have to learn (sometimes by tough lessons) what information is essential to your work, what is good – and what might be fluff!!

Ah yes, too much information.  I’ve also heard this in social context as a person is telling his or her story and has embellished the story (maybe a ‘wee bit’).  TMI might be a person’s comment.

More on too much information tomorrow!!!

Have a great weekend!!


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Blog #670 Infomation Overload – part II


I started looking at TOO MUCH INFORMATION yesterday!!!

Yes (from the article)

“Professionals struggling with information overload are typically ambitious, highly driven people who:

-I Feel they’re at the end of their rope

-I Have trouble sleeping

-I Are anxious, irritable and unfocused

-I Feel stressed out

-I Are overwhelmed by life

And, are you ready for this?  
Q: What causes “Information Overload”?  



The article goes on to quality that statement (about too much information).

For example:  Years ago, I/we applied for a mortgage to buy our first house.  We went to a local bank (“our bank”), filled out an application (on paper), signed it.  We also took tax records, employment records, marriage certificate to verify that we were ‘worthy’ of a house loan.

Today, we can apply for a loan and get instant approval (or rejection).  The data, credit scores, and much more is readily available (electronically) and the algorithm can decide if we get the loan or not.  (Maybe it might have a human to review special cases).

Another example:

You are a marketing pro for the XYZ company.  Your biggest competitor announced today that they are lowering the price on their product that competes with your product.  Management comes to you at 9:00 and asks “What can we do to counteract this situation. And, I need to know today before our 2:00 p.m. meeting with the board of directors.”  

So, you have about five hours (not counting lunch where you will run to the cafeteria and get a sandwich to eat at your desk) to put all the figures together for your manager.  Is that stressful? Yes!! Will you have to do a lot of data analysis? Yes!!! Can you do it? Maybe. [And, what if you do it wrong and give your manager an analysis that says we can cut our price on that item – and you really can’t cut the price and keep the business afloat?  Goodbye job!!!]

Maybe you have to contact your manufacturing facility in China to see if they can cut the manufacturing costs.  Maybe the contact person in China is sleeping – and you can’t get an answer? Maybe the contact person in China says “Sure, we can cut the manufacturing costs” – and six months later you are getting all kinds of flack because your ‘cheaper’ product is also much inferior to the current product.  

Are you going to compete on price?  On quality? On customer service? Where can you skim a few cents off your price?  Can you do it?

It all takes data – and it all introduces more stress into your life.

Think on this – and more tomorrow!!!


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Blog #669 Information Overload – part I


Okay, I am not really drowning – although we have had almost sufficient rain in Central Texas this spring (and rain is important here!!) – but all of us are ‘drowning in information overload’!!!!

This article states:

“25 percent of workers experienced significant stress and poor health due to the volume of information they’re required to process.

“36 percent of managers reported poor health due to the excessive information they were required to process in the workplace.

“68 percent of those managers felt information overload has had a negative impact on their personal and professional relationships.


“33 percent felt they were suffering from poor health due to information overload.

“66 percent reported tension with their co-workers and management as well as reduced job satisfaction.

“62 percent admitted their social and professional relationships were suffering.



The article goes on:

What complicates things further is the amount of information we’re forced to deal with on a daily basis.

5 Quintillion bytes of data is created every day.

Every two days we create as much information from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.

By 2020, 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second, for every human being on the earth.

Only 0.5 percent of all data is ever analyzed or used.


There is SO MUCH information – how can a human handle it?

Seemingly not so well – we get stressed out.  We might miss out on a particular data item that might make our jobs and our lives easier – but after reading “bushel baskets” of data, it is easy to miss out on something.

The last few days I wrote about fracking to get more oil and gas.  There were many articles from both sides of the spectrum (pro and con).  In some cases, those in the environmental protection agencies get conflicting information –  and sometimes the conflicting information comes from trying to reach a good balancing point.

For the next few days we are going to look at Information Overload – and how to handle the stress that comes with it

See you soon!!!


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Blog #667 Fracking IV

Fracking IV

Here is an article from Forbes Magazine that says Fracking is dangerous to your health.

Let’s see …

“Respiratory problems:

Cough, shortness of breath and wheezing are the most common complaints of residents living near fracked wells. Toxic gases like benzene are released from the rock by fracking. Similarly, a toxic waste brew of water and chemicals is often stored in open pits, releasing volatile organic compounds into the air. These noxious chemicals and particulates are also released by the diesel powered pumps used to inject the water.”

“Problems during pregnancy:

“Fracking chemicals are harmful to pregnant women and their developing babies. West Virginia researchers found endocrine-disrupting chemicals in surface waters near wastewater disposal sites; these types of chemicals can hurt the developing fetus even when present at very low concentrations.

“Another Hopkins/Geisinger study looked at records of almost 11,000 women with newborns who lived near fracking sites and found a 40% increased chance of having a premature baby and a 30% risk of having the pregnancy be classified as “high-risk,” though they controlled for socioeconomic status and other risk factors. Contributing factors likely include air and water pollution, stress from the noise and traffic (1,000 tankers/well on average).”

“Noise, stress and sleep deprivation

“Other studies have found that the noise from the drilling itself, the gas compressors, other heavy equipment and the truck traffic is high enough to disturb sleep, cause stress and increase high blood pressure. Longer-term exposure to noise pollution contributes to endocrine abnormalities and diabetes, heart disease, stress and depression, and has been linked to learning difficulties in children. Sleep deprivation has pervasive public health consequences, from causing accidents to chronic diseases.”

“Spills and accidents

“A newly released study found 6,648 spills in just four states over the past 10 years. Once again, the EPA had reported a far lower number—457 in eight states over a six-year period. Why the huge difference? Because the EPA chose to only look at the actual fracturing stage, rather than the whole life cycle of the gas and oil production.”

So, a brief three day look at fracking.  Energy companies say it is okay; others say not it is not okay.

There are real trade-offs here.  We need oil and gas for energy in our country (and around the world.  We also need honesty in reporting and analysis of data. Protection of human beings is important – but is fracking worse or better than lung cancer deaths from tobacco?  Is fracking worse or better than obesity and diabetes? Is fracking worse or better than alcohol deaths from driving while intoxicated accidents or the social problem of alcoholism and abuse within families.

I am glad I am not a legislator having to decide to have fracking.  Does the end result of reasonable (almost cheap) energy balance the risks?  It is hard to tell.

New topic tomorrow!!!


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Blog #666 Fracking and Earthquakes

Fracking and Earthquakes

Now, how about earthquakes.  There are many reports of minor earthquakes near fracking sites.

The first linked article (earthworks) states:

“These aren’t just small quakes

“Although fracturing-related earthquakes are chronic, they were thought to be minor. But new research is showing that they can be quite large and damaging. The focus of the study, a 5.7 magnitude quake near Prague, Oklahoma, damaged 14 homes and other structures in the area.”

And this:

“In Oklahoma, where the number of earthquakes magnitude 3.0 or more has jumped from an average of less than five a year to about 40, the state has been slow to act

But, on the other side, the USGS – (United States Geological Survey group) says:

“Fact 1: Fracking is not directly causing most of the induced earthquakes. Disposal of waste fluids that are a byproduct of oil production is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.

Fact 2: Not all wastewater injection wells induce earthquakes.

Fact 3: Wastewater is produced at all oil wells, not just hydraulic fracturing sites.

Fact 4: The content of the wastewater injected in disposal wells is highly variable.”

As presented before, there are two sides (or at least two sides) on this issue.  Cheaper energy made by taking ‘worn-out’ oil sites by pumping in a water (or salt-water) solution to cause the oil sites to release their gas and oil that (seemingly) can be done with a minimum of risk and problems,

The other side says that: (a) the number of such minor earthquakes is increasing and (b) the intensity is also increasing (although still minor as compared to San Andreas fault earthquakes).

I’m still probably on the cheaper energy side – but really would prefer more ‘renewable energy’.  But, ‘renewable energy’ sounds good, but it isn’t free. Yes, the wind blows (and blows and blows) the wind turbines – and the wind is free.  But, the wind turbines themselves are expensive to build and install on sites. Yes, they might last many years and generate a lot of energy, but the cost to produce the steel bases and blades is still significant.  

There is also an issue that the wind turbines do kill hundreds of birds a year (actually number is hard to determine).  

Solar power is also on the rise, but the expense of making solar panels exists.  I heard an estimate that it would take about 15 to 20 years to pay off a private house solar installation.

Are there good solutions?  Probably not. But, people on both sides need to be willing to hear both sides of a situation.  

What do you think?


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Blog #665 Fracking part II

A look at Fracking II

Here is another look at fracking – and the effect fracking has on the environment.

(Disclaimer – like yesterday – different ‘experts’ view fracking differently.  The Texas Oil and Gas industry told us that fracking is an economic way of getting energy; today, this investing group says it harms the environment and affects greenhouse gasses and global warming!!)

The article states:

“Fracking and Air Quality

One of the main chemicals released in the fracking process is methane, and it is estimated that 4% of it escapes into the atmosphere during extraction. Because methane is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat, the release of this gas is detrimental to the air quality of surrounding fracking sites. Additionally, the ancillary components of fracking directly increase air pollution at well sites.”

Continuing from the article:

“Waste water is also an issue at fracking sites. Between 20% and 40% of the water used for fracking that is returned to the ground surface consists of toxic contaminants. The presence of wastewater has harmful ramifications for the environment, as it cannot be easily treated and returned to a usable state – for purposes other than fracking, that is.”


From yesterday’s article from the Texas For Natural Gas group, they talk about water:

“Over 99 percent of fracking fluid is water and sand. The other additives are things you’ll also find under your kitchen sink. One of the most prevalent additives is guar, which is an emulsifying agent that’s also found in ice cream, toothpaste, and numerous other products.”


The industry says it is stuff that might be under your kitchen sink (cleaning supplies?).  I’m guessing some of the stuff under most kitchen sinks can be toxic. I don’t understand the scale.  The investment group says that 20% to 40% has toxic contaminants; while the supporters say “it is like stuff already in your household (and … going a little off topic to suggest it is like ice cream and toothpaste!!!)


The investment group adds:

“In addition to air and water pollution, fracking also increases the potential for oil spills, which can harm the soil and surrounding vegetation. Fracking may cause earthquakes due to the high pressure used to extract oil and gas from rock and the storage of excess wastewater on site.”


I suppose that anytime oil is pumped out of the earth, there is a potential for oil spills.  I would guess that the oil and natural gas industry would try to convince us that they are doing an excellent job of transporting (possibly with pipelines) the oil and gas products.  

It reminds me of the anti-H2O groups (again tongue-in-cheek) that say H2O is a leading cause of drowning; and also of floods and hurricanes.  The anti-H2O groups remind us that upstream of H2O intake systems, cow and other animal waste is introduced to our drinking water!!!!

So, one more look at fracking tomorrow – earthquakes!!!

See you then!!!


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Blog #664 Fracking – part I

Fracking – is it a hazard?

Fracking?  For the next couple of days, I’m going to be looking at a controversial concept of fracking

Let’s get the definite from the Texans for Natural Gas link (realize that this seems to be a pro-fracking group)

“What is fracking?

“Simply put, fracking allows companies to produce more oil and natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Texas’ annual oil production increased by over 225 percent from 2007 to 2017 thanks to fracking. The process involves injecting water deep into the ground to crack rock, which allows more oil or natural gas to flow. On average, the process only takes about three to five days to complete. Once the well is “completed,” it is ready to produce oil and natural gas for years to come.”


Okay, we use a lot of oil and natural gas – so getting a 225 percent increase in 10 years from using fracking is good for getting energy.

Speaking out of both sides of my mouth – I use purchased energy everyday.  I’m sitting at my computer (using electricity), with a lamp (using electricity), in a home that uses energy for cooling in the summer and energy for heat in the winter.  I use a stove to cook food (using energy), make coffee (using energy) and many other things.

If we can make existing natural gas and oil wells more productive by fracking, it sounds like a good idea.  Is fracking causing minor earthquakes? More on that tomorrow!!

But, I prefer using renewable energy is possible.  Ancient man mastered fire – for cooking and heat – but used wood (and other renewable items) for the energy.  


Back to the article:

“What’s in Fracking Fluid?

Over 99 percent of fracking fluid is water and sand. The other additives are things you’ll also find under your kitchen sink. One of the most prevalent additives is guar, which is an emulsifying agent that’s also found in ice cream, toothpaste, and numerous other products.”


And, a quote from a May 2nd, 2019 Homeland Security bulletin:

“Small earthquakes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas can be linked to hydraulic fracturing wells in those regions, according to researchers. While relatively rare compared to earthquakes caused by wastewater disposal in oil and gas fields in the central United States, the researchers  have identified more than 600 small earthquakes (between magnitude 2.0 and 3.8) in these states.”

And, another comment about the size of earthquakes (i.e. Richter Scale)

“4.0 — Buildings shake a little. It feels like a truck is passing by your house. 3.0 — You may notice this quake if you are sitting still, or upstairs in a house. … 1.0 —Earthquakes this small happen below ground.”


That seems to imply that a micro earthquake from 2.0 to 4.0 will hardly be felt (like a truck driving by).  

What do you think?  Is fracking good, bad, or in-between?

See you tomorrow!!!

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Blog #663 People Pleasing IV

I’m a “people pleaser” – part IV – and finished

hI’m trying to wean myself off from being such a people pleaser.  Pleasing people is actually good, but when it becomes obsessive it can be a problem.  The Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Yes, I want to be nice and I want others to be nice to me.  Like Warren Buffett (one of the richest men in the world), I need to use his secret word occasionally (‘no’).

Let’s look at the rest of the suggestions from the article.

-15 Set clear boundaries (and follow through)

Hmmm – how to say this.  There are ‘leeches’ in the world that want to attach themselves to you (maybe like groupies?).  If you wanted a puppy, get one, but with those that ‘demand’ time with you try to set some boundaries.  Don’t lie and make excuse like “I’d love to spend time with you today, but I have an appointment at 3:00” [when you don’t have an appointment at 3:00!!!]  How about “I can give you an hour today, will that work for you?”

-16 Don’t be scared of the fallout

The author gives a great example – of being a maid of honor at a wedding:

“Even a significant request such as being the maid of honor at your friend’s wedding isn’t disastrous. Being the maid of honor “takes a lot of time, energy and money,” which you may not have. You saying that “I’m really honored and this means so much to me, but I won’t be able to do it,” “isn’t going to ruin the wedding,” Newman said. “If you have a solid friendship, this isn’t going to end it.”

There are ‘destination weddings’ where the wedding party all goes to some Caribbean Resort – which will probably be expensive.  Be honest and say “I’m love to, but I can’t do it”.

-17 Consider who gets your time

I mentioned before leaving my wife as a “tuba widow”.  Did I really need to play in five musical groups? My wife and family need to come first, then people that enrich me and that I like spending time with.

-18 Self talk

Be a ‘good mother’ to yourself’.  Reassure yourself like a good mother might have done when you were a kid.

-19 Recognize when you have been successful.

Be confident and remind yourself why you are saying ‘no’ (to take better care of yourself)!!!

-20 Keep a confidence file

When I was down (when teaching), I looked at the wall over my desk with a variety of plaques and citations – educator of the years, CSAB, Baldridge, ABET, EDSIG, and others.  I also have some letters (or notes) saying “Thanks”

-21 And, you can’t please everyone.

Yup – I can’t please everybody.  The only person I can really change is myself!!!  Work on being the best version of YOU!!!

Through this article and others, I realized that I wanted to please everybody and that just doesn’t work.  Shakespeare wrote “To thine own self be true”. While I can try to be ‘all things to all people, that probably won’t work!!

How about you?  Did this help?


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Blog #662 People Pleasing III

I’m a “people pleaser” – part III

I’m into some introspection for the past few days – and have found that I am a ‘people pleaser’.  I want those around me to like me, and so I volunteer, and do things that please them.

This is really going around the statement “If you can be anything, be nice”.  Yes, definitely be nice.

I was thinking about this at coffee hour after church last Sunday.  I was nicely conversing with friends, when other friends came to the coffee table.  I grabbed some styrofoam cups, wrote their first names on them and filled the cups for them.  I didn’t have to do that!! All I needed to do was say ‘hi’ and let them get their own cups. Writing their names on the cups was again something that I didn’t need to do, but it was a ‘nice’ thing to do – to please (and impress) my friends.  (And, fun). We all had a laugh.

If I was a barrister at Starbucks, writing names on cups is expected to avoid giving the wrong beverage to the wrong person.  

Let’s look at the article about how to stop being a people pleaser (at least in an overt way).

-9 Consider if it is worth it.

I am doing tutoring.  I enjoy it and I get a little money out of it.  Yesterday I was contacted to do some algebra tutoring and I’m trying to impress this person to get his business.  But, as I look at it, I’m not sure I really want this person. It is a longer way to drive – in and out of Austin (and Austin traffic) – so probably an hour drive to meet with him, then an hour tutoring algebra and an hour back home.  My tutoring is also some life coaching and I enjoy both the tutoring and life coaching – but …. Is this one worth it – worth the time and driving?

-10 Don’t give a litany of excuses.

Let your yes, be yes, and your no be no.  Saying “no’ when asked to do something is okay; saying ‘no’ but then adding excuses like “Well that doesn’t fit into my schedule” and the other person can say “I can change the time for you – what is a good time for you?”  which puts you (or me) into the situation of either saying “I really don’t want to do it and I was trying to be nice” or give the person a time that might work for you.

-11  Start small

Take some baby steps as you learn to be more assertive and less of a people pleaser.  

-12 Don’t apologize

If you start to say ‘no’, you might want to say “I’m sorry that I can’t help you with that”.  But (if you are like me), you really aren’t sorry – you really are happy that you were able to say ‘no’.  My college student who is now leaning on me to help him with statistics does need help – but it doesn’t have to be ME.  He showed me his last test and on one of the questions, the teacher wrong “You must have been studying with Jordan”. My answer was – maybe you should ask Jordan for help, not me!!!

-13 Saying no has its benefits

The author writes “you as a person are entitled to your time and you need to rest and rejuvenate to be there for the people you want to help out. Look at saying no as an opportunity to spend your time doing what you value in your life.”

In reality, the ultimate test is “do you want to do <this>”?  Do you want to volunteer at the school or hospital in your retirement years?  Or is it just something nice to do? As a senior, I can probably volunteer many places – but will I enjoy that?  Will it become a burden for me.

Tomorrow, we will look at the rest of this list.  Have a great weekend!!!


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Blog #661 People Pleasing 2

Another personal problem!!  I’m a “people pleaser”

Yesterday I looked at the “problem” of being a people pleaser!!!  I want people to like me, I want people to say “thanks” – and that ultimately means that I hurt myself in the process of extending myself, not having enough time to recover and relax.

Let’s look at some of the suggestions from the article, starting with #1

-1 Realize you have a choice.

“People-pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help.”  I have a choice – I CAN say NO!!!!

-2 Set your priorities
Even though I’d like to say ‘yes’ (because I’m a people pleaser), there are things I have absolutely no interest in doing.  If it is a priority in my life, then I should do it; but if is a ‘nice thing’, but doesn’t do much for me, say “NO”!!!

-3 Stall
When somebody asks you for some help, tell them you will think about it.  Some jobs do not need any real expertise – just a ‘warm body’. If anybody can do the job, pass on it.  If the person says “I need an answer now”, then give them an answer – “NO”. Don’t be bullied into doing something that later you will say “why did I do that?”   Aside, a casual acquaintance knows I was a math major and do tutoring. He asked if I could help with statistics. My statistics are old (of course, the field of statistics hasn’t changed much) and I haven’t done much statistics over the years.  I should have said “NO” – or can you find somebody on campus or somebody in your class to help you? [Another aside, we went in a coffee shop – he didn’t offer to buy me coffee or anything while he bought himself something – and he didn’t give me a little stipend.  Hey – get me a coffee – and I’ll be glad to help you out with some statistics!!!]

-4 Set a time limit.  
A friend wants you to help out at their garage sale on Saturday.  The sale goes from 9:00 to 3:00. Do you really want to help this friend for six hours on a Saturday?  Maybe you can bargain, “I can help you, but only from 9:00 to 11:00” (and unsaid “as I have my own life and helped watch your garage sale for six hours is just too much out of my weekend).

-5 Ask yourself if you are being manipulated
Does the person flatter you? “Oh you are so good at <XYZ> and I just can’t do that.  Could you do that for me on Saturday?” Are they buttering you up? Are they pushing you.  It could be like my statistics student friend who was praising me – I got a great grade on the second test all because of you.  – my thoughts, you thought you could manipulate me and cajole me into free help!!!

-6 Create a mantra
Picture a huge neon sign in front of you flashing “NO” when somebody approaches you and you can just ‘tell’ that they want you to do something for them.

-7 Say “NO” with conviction.  “No, nope – that just isn’t going to happen”.  It might take some practice but say it. A neighborhood lady has done a favor for me in the past and wanted me to help her child with some math. After about three sessions, she gave me a Starbucks card (and I really don’t like Starbucks coffee), since then (about 18 times), I’ve been showing weekly to help the students – and no coffee cards.  Fortunately, the school year is about done. I’ll ‘eat’ my time for three more free tutoring sessions!!!

-8 Be empathic
You:  “Oh yes, I hear you.  That is a tough job to do for one person.  I really do understand your need, but “NO”, that just doesn’t fit into my life currently.  How about after school is over?

Hmmm … some good ideas there.  Psychologically I sometimes feel like a pushover for being such a ‘people pleasure’.  It is like “Ask Bruce, he’ll do it”.

More tomorrow!!!


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