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_Changing for Good_, Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente (kindle)
Subtitled: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward

It's not clear exactly when the last substantive revision of this kindle edition occurred. No OCR problems, typos, grammar issues, wtf were apparent in the course of a single read-through. Because the original book dated from the 1990s, the contents are somewhat, er, dated. For example, we have made much more progress towards what they call "social liberation" with respect to smoking, and to a lesser degree with respect to drinking. For example, most indoor and some outdoor public places in the US and many other developed nations are now, by law, smoke-free. Far more people have quit smoking since this book was written, and the phenomenon they describe (of smoking becoming increasingly covert, hidden even from family members) has progressed even further, albeit electronic cigarettes have produced a new wrinkle. Because I've been paying a lot of attention to alcohol portion sizes, the text has a single-alcoholic-serving as 12 oz beer, shot (1.5 oz) serving of spirits (both the same as now) or a 4 oz glass of wine.

Before anyone goes, OMG, do you drink/smoke/have a whatever problem, the answer is, of course I have a whatever problem. Almost everyone has a whatever problem. And this is a systematic way of thinking about whatever problems and what people do about them without involving professional assistance and when that works and, when it doesn't, why. Their theory, the TransTheoretical Model of Change (TTM) is a very 90s, pre-CBT approach to Helping People Help Themselves. Starting from then-current research that indicated that virtually all theoretical approaches in the helping professions (he calls them psychoanalytical theories, and quotes Freud without apology, altho fortunately not often) were roughly equally efficacious. Not too long after the TTM model was devised as a way to map approach to "stage" in the progression of change, the helping professions in general explored and adopted a bunch of Brief/Quick/client-centered approaches to helping -- they are now more or less lumped together as cognitive-behavioral therapies.

In any event, a bunch of people and organizations have adopted TTM as a way to better match therapeutic tools (whether that is consciousness raising or putting together a plan of what to do instead of whatever, or rallying one’s social network to provide support or any number of other things) to where in the change process the complainant/client/patient/addict/etc. is. In general, matching the appropriate tool to the person is a Good Thing; one of the major complaints about TTM is that 6 months out, a lot of people need a fairly significant Readjustment (whether that’s a relapse, or a secondary problem that was why the person had the bad habit in the first place, or one of their coping strategies has gotten out of hand, etc.). TTM is pretty much just like everything else in that respect, offering little more than platitudes about Hey, Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Many brief, quick, CBT type therapies, however, address the readiness for action problem very differently. If someone is sitting in front of a professional, they are ready for _some_ kind of action; these therapies are much more rigorous about having the client define the goal state. Prochaska et al are here to tell you what your goal state should be, and thus they generate a lot more classic therapeutic resistance. They are _smarter_ about responding to that resistance, but they still generate resistance.

Prochaska et al also stumbled across some perceptual things (like how bad punishment is, how good praise is, ratios of positive to negative statements to be perceived as balancing out as positive, the importance of making a goal more attractive vs. the current state of being less attractive, and having some numbers on that) that are pretty widely recognized by NLP types. In good news, this group of authors is considerably less cult-y than some NLP outfits. In bad news, their therapeutic tricks are a lot sloppier and thus take longer and don’t necessarily “stick” as well.

But if you are looking for a theory of habit change, this is a good one. While the primary focus is on smoking, drinking problems, anger management, exercise/diet/weight control and other health interventions and so forth, you could kind of use it for almost anything. One of the most consistently wonderful things about this book is its honesty about the crankiness of people who are in the process of major self-change, and how a lot of bad habits are the result of people trying to suppress negative emotions or avoid enforcing boundaries, and other things that cause social conflict. They emphasize the importance of developing assertiveness, and recognize that some relationships may need to end (temporarily or permanently) if they are getting in the way of necessary changes.

They do devote a chapter to exploring how to tell when it is time to involve a professional in the change process.

However, I’m going to look around and see if there is anything better out there.

LiveJournal not affected by Heartbleed
theljstaff wrote in news

Dear users,

As you might have heard, a major vulnerability in SSL (the secure channel used for HTTPS) has been detected recently. As many as two thirds of internet sites were affected, including social networks and major web sites.

We are happy to confirm that LiveJournal is not vulnerable and has not been affected at all.

Meanwhile, in the past 12 months we have been working hard to deploy many security features to protect user data.

Nevertheless, even though LiveJournal was not affected by the Heartbleed bug, changing your password is still a good idea, especially if you use similar passwords on other sites whose data may have been compromised. If you haven't changed your password in the last year, we recommend that you do so now.

Daily Activities Include: A.'s half day, no swimming, school, restaurants, no play date
Today, T. had a full day of school. A. had a half day. Her swimming lesson was canceled. She was a few minutes late to school, because she was watching Frozen and wanted to hear the rest of Let It Go. No one else can walk away from that song, so it is unreasonable to ask her to do so.

Today at school, T. refused to eat his apple for snack. It turns out he has been doing this for a few days. We will try carrots tomorrow. No more apples for a while. He had a cheese sandwich for lunch with R. in the cafeteria. He had speech with C. He had outdoor recess. He played with C. (different C.). They played on the slide.

After school, we were supposed to have a visit from S., which they were both excited about. Alas, S. failed to arrive and calls to her went straight to voice mail. We hope she is okay, and just forgot about us or thought she had already canceled to go out of town or something similar. If someone is sick, we hope they recover promptly and completely.

After R. got home, R. and T. went to Julie's Place (where I already had lunch) for dinner. I took A. to Johnny Rockets. Of course, the kids both had chicken tenders and fries, altho I understand T. had juice and R. ordered chocolate milk which she then mostly ignored and T. drank when we brought it home. I had a salad, and some of A.'s chicken.

A. does not have school tomorrow, but T. does. In the evening, they will go to open gym and watch Frozen and eat pizza and popsicles while R. and I go out to dinner. It's a Parents' Night Out thing and we've never been brave enough to try this before so wish us luck.

Daily Activities Include: school, walk, swimming, half day
Today, T. had half day. A. had a full day. I went for a walk. There was snow on the ground from last night. M.'s dog P. had so much fun rolling around in the snow; it was hilarious.

T. came home and we went to the swimming pool where he had his lesson. He is doing really well. He played for a little while after. B. met A. when she came home from school; we drove into the driveway while the van was still there. Then B. took T. to Julie's Place for an early dinner and a hoodsie cup with whipped cream for dessert; he ate everything.

At school today, T. had speech with C. He had Reading Mastery with E. He had indoor recess. He had lunch in the classroom. He says tomorrow he has P.E. with a Mrs. K. who is not E.

A. and T. are both playing Where's My Water 1 or 2. They are having a lot of fun, altho A. keeps making other people play her levels for her.

Today, I received horrible confirmation of what I have suspected for several weeks but had been hoping was just the light in the bathroom. Near my forehead, peeping out admit what I thought was an unbroken sheen of brown, were several grey hairs.
Ok it's not the end of the world and you can't really see them unless you are a) me or b) looking very closely but it is making me feel old.
Some weeks ago, I had to have passport photos taken for a visa. The last time these were done my face was full and lineless. This time, having lost quite a bit of weight and being some years older, lines were more clearly visible. I looked even worse than one generally does in these pictures.
I will be a third of a century old this year. It seems somehow more significant than 30, a rather meaningless fraction. A full third.
I will have been menstruating (therefore biologically adult) for 23 years. I will have been a wearer of glasses for 20. It will have been 15 years since leaving school. 15 years of being a legal adult, being able to vote, have a bank account, do what the hell I please. Half of my adult life has been spent lived outside the UK – soon probably to be more than that as I plan to teach in Korea for a year to earn muchos money before going back to Uni, that's the plan anyway. Though my plans never quite go where I want them to. Hell I have even lived in Russia for 3 years and it's a shock to realise that things I did in Edinburgh are almost a decade ago when it only seem like yesterday.

And what have I done with my life? I compare myself to people I know from my past lives (which seem so divorced from my current reality) and people whom I admire and what have I got to show? I don't have a home of my own. I have never been in love. I have fancied people and been very fond of some sure (and even had sex with 2 of them) but feeling as though I wanted to be with someone forever? No. I still don't quite know what I want to do with the rest of my life, everything I do seems to be a stepping stone for something else, and I do so want a final destination.
But then I have been craving that for a long time already. Even before I began to be old.
When I was 9, I began middle school in Bury. One Sunday, I went to the playground in my village which is near the primary school in Ixworth and even though I had only been at my new school for a week or two I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I knew even then there were people whom I would in all likelihood only see a few times again, if ever at all. I had the sense of leaving my old life behind and being set on course for something rather uncontrollable, a little frightening but also utterly inexorable. Ok as a 9 year old I would not have thought of it even remotely in those terms but I do remember thinking vividly 'is this the world I left behind?'
Sometimes on the metro in the mornings when I am trapped at interesting angles between people I remember there will come a time when all this is as unreal as primary school, as the endless grey days of middle school (where I can never remember the sun shining), as university, as all of my past lives. And then I feel a pang for the endless metro rides even as I am on them, I suppose fundamentally I am nostalgic in temperament.
I don't know if I will ever stop, it is the age we live in where there are no certainties. Countless people are in no better a position than I so I am not such a freak as I would have been in my parents' day And for every day I wish I could be still I know full well there would be an equivalent day that, were I not moving, I would resent it bitterly.
At least I am growing old. I am in pretty good health. For the first time in my adult life I am solvent so I have a few options. And we live in an age of hair dye if those naughty hairs decide to change colour again.
On second thoughts it would be rather brilliant if my hair matched my silver jewellery...

Daily Activities Include: school, Dutch, lunch, house guest
Today, A. and T. went to school. I went to the post office to ship some things off to a friend of mine. Then I drove to my Dutch lesson. After that, I came home, to meet two friends for lunch at Benjarong. It was really good, and wasn't raining too hard, so we walked. Fortunately, we all had hoods because it was raining harder on the way back. I got to show them all the things (painting, new furniture, etc.) that I have been blogging about for months.

After school, A. and T. scootered with umbrellas in the rain. This was pretty cool, but didn't last very long. Then we played Where's My Water on the devices.

When R. got home, M. came with him (friend, not my walking partner). They went with T. to Julie's Place for dinner. Then we all hung out for a while.

At school today, T. had OT group with J., C. and A. He did Touch Math with K. He had indoor recess because it was rainy. He had a cheese sandwich for lunch with R. in the cafeteria. He had an apple for snack in the classroom.

Speaking of habits: food
I've been attempting to re-start some old habits that worked well for me in the past; they were deprecated in the name of I Don't Have the Time or Energy for This Right Now (which was true, but isn't true any more). So I've been doing things like increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables I eat (cooking more/eating at home, making sure I keep fresh fruit salad and green salad in the fridge and include one or the other at each meal, and then try to also get some other veg in somewhere), reducing sodium (same batch of ideas), portion control (hey, don't free pour the salad dressing! type of thing, along with a certain amount of, no, you really don't need another waffle, even if it is home made and whole grain. Put it in the freezer), increasing exercise (slowly! Because if there is one thing I can be predicted to do nearly every spring, it's to cause some kind of RSI by doing a whole bunch of stuff I haven't done in 6 months).

Anyway. A while back I debugged Why My Husband's Drinks Are So Strong, so when I opened a bottle of wine, I said to my self, Self, let your Inner Geek Shine. Get that scale out, zero it with the wineglass on it and pour 5 oz. Let's see what that looks like.

Looks like what I thought it should look like, which is about 2/3rds what it looks like when any of my husband's extended family pours a glass of wine (and their glasses are usually larger in volume than ours).

Now Self is saying, hey, let's bring that scale with us next T-weekend/Xmas at the fam's, and show everyone else what 5 oz of wine looks like. I'm trying to cram Self back into a box.

This is what happens when the Inner Geek comes out to play. She doesn't want to stop.

In complete violation of the reducing sodium rule, and partial violation of cooking at home rule, but absolutely aligned with hey, there are leftovers! I took yet another batch of leftover chicken tenders (these two were from Johnny Rockets) and rather than eating them on salad (my usual strategy), I heated them, chopped them up, and cooked them in a pan with some sauteed mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and summer squash, penne pasta (already cooked from a few days ago) and Trader Joe's No Salt Added Tomato Sauce. The breading came off somewhat and thickened up the sauce in a super delicious way that doesn't ever happen when I cook chicken myself (duh, I don't batter and fry my chicken, because if I'm going to do that, I go out to a restaurant and let the people with the fryer do it for me. And I don't own a fryer because I have marginally more sense than self control). R. said it tasted like chicken parm without the parm. Which I wouldn't know about, because milk allergy.

Johnny Rockets nutrition calculator suggests that each piece of chicken (there were two, and I split this with R.) added 420 mg. of sodium. Ouch. OTOH, there wasn't any other sodium added, so right up until I added the garlic bread, I was doing basically okay.

_The Power of Habit_, Charles Duhigg (paperback)
Subtitled: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Don't read it. Don't buy it. Don't borrow it. Don't waste your time.

There are a bunch of really weird and disturbing things about this book, like the chapter about Rosa Parks that focuses on loose ties and doesn't really correctly frame Parks as the activist that she consciously was -- and then interleaves it with stuff about Warren and Saddleback (so, so, so wrong!!!) that ignore the multi-generational preacher aspects of the Warren family. There's a bit about gay rights:

"For example, when gay rights organizations started campaigning against homophobia in the late 1960s, their initial efforts yielded only a string of failures. They pushed to repeal laws used to prosecute gays and were roundly defeated in state legislatures." Conveniently failing to note the successes in municipalities in California that inspired Stonewall, and a variety of legal victories around the same time. "Then, in the early 1970s, the American Library Associations Task Force on Gay Liberation decided to focus on one modest goal: convincing the Library of Congress to reclassify books about the gay liberation movement... the Library of Congress agreed ... the effect was electrifying ... Within a few years, openly gay politicians were running for political office in California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon".

So, yay, ALA, but this misrepresents the timeline in so many ways it is hard to know where to begin, much less end.

Like many business writers, Duhigg is a lot more attached to "good stories" than he is to accurately describing reality, which is unfortunate, because we usually learn the most from those points where reality fails to follow the well-trod path of a "good story". Also as is typical of business writers, he tends to find "successes" and then go back and ask them what they did, and then (a) assume their recollections are accurate and (b) because success happened after what they claimed they did, the success was the result of what they did. Two problems there: people often remember the past somewhat if not entirely inaccurately (yes, I always turned my homework in and on time and done carefully!) and are there people who started out the same way but wound up in a much less good place? Un-confirmed anecdotes plus a logical fallacy leads one directly into the self-reinforcing land of We Must Be Good and Moral and Chosen Because We Are Rich and Famous error, a classic of the smugly self-satisfied who firmly implant their fingers in their ears and shout I Can't Hear You! whenever someone tries to say, but I did everything right, how come I'm unemployed and losing my home? Etc.

Also, his advice on habit modification is soooooo bad -- he seems to think AA is really effective. *sigh*

Habits are important. Everything we do, we do on autopilot -- including a lot of how we (re)program our autopilots, which is sort of a problem for people who could use a meta-level habit tune-up. I was really hoping to read a book that developed and expanded upon that idea. This is not that book.

In an ongoing effort to find that book, I am now reading Prochaska et al's _Changing for Good_, mentioned by writers like Miriam Nelson (I like Miriam Nelson's work. It is the good kind of simple.). It has its own problems, but it's way better than Duhigg.

Weirdly, along the way I've stumbled across a bunch of stuff about managing bipolar disorder by stabilizing life routines (mostly Ellen Frank's work developing IPSRT, if you want something to google -- she writes books for clinicians and I'm not necessarily interested enough to read, but maybe you are). This isn't _instead_ of medication, it's complementary treatment (generally speaking, anyway).

I also picked up Cohen and deBenedet's _The Art of Roughhousing_, which is really great. I mean, _really_ great. Nothing quite like reading a parenting book with lists of What To Do and What Not To Do and nodding as you go along, because everything is familiar -- except, oooh, cool new idea! I'm not done with it yet, and am sort of hoping they get around to talking about kids and martial arts at some point, because the connections are really obvious, at least to me.

Daily Activities Include: school, dentist, egg decorating, sprinkler
Today, the kids both went to school for a full day. I went to the dentist. Bleah. After, I stopped at Starbucks to get a iced soy mocha no whip, because there is a certain point at which coffee with a bunch of stuff in it seems like a really good idea.

With the coffee inside me, it was okay that I got a call saying my niece's ereader needed to be replaced. I understand that accidents happen with children and ereaders are not expensive any more. Also, the niece very kindly called me and thanked me extensively for replacing it, and my sister has committed to a change in the bedtime routine so the kids are not sleeping with electronic devices in the bed.

I suspect that a _lot_ of people, possibly most people who regularly use electronic devices, are at least some of the time falling asleep with them in the bed. May I please, at this point, urge you to consider improving your sleep hygiene by setting up a charger near your bed where you can decide, at an hour you deem appropriate, to plug the device(s) in and commit to falling asleep. End Public Service Exhortation.

Today at school, T. had OT with J. He did Touch Math with S. He did Reading Mastery with E. They had outdoor recess today. He chased around by himself. He had a cheese sandwich with lunch, with R. in the cafeteria. He had an apple for snack in the classroom.

A. did arts and crafts today, making big tagboard letters for her name which she decorated. She also played with trains, and then it was time to clean up and go home.

When they got home, they played on scooters in the driveway and we hooked up the hose and attached it to the elephant sprinkler. T. fell down and skinned his knee. We went to Roche Bros. to get eggs for decorating. When R. got home, he helped them dye the eggs with kits they got from BuildaBear.

Complaining about _The Power of Habit_: Things I Cannot Bring Myself to Believe
Expect this to be edited to add:

"At the time, Rhode Island Hospital was one of the national leading medical institutions, the main teaching hospital for Brown University and the only Level 1 trauma center in southeastern New England." Later in the paragraph, the year 2002 is mentioned, and the next paragraph mentions 2000.

I find this pretty much impossible to believe, unless the author (Charles Duhigg) has a definition of "southeastern New England" that excludes Boston (is _that_ possible? And would that even help the argument -- seems like Connect the Dots would have had something at the time).

There are dozens of these niggling little statements, the kind of thing that I normally associate with children and other people who produce rickety rhetoric ("it was the biggest!" "the fastest!" "the oldest!!!" "the first" "the mostest") -- expressing a superlative not because it is salient, but Just Because.

ETA: Only a business book would produce a sentence that uses "idyllic" in this way:

"Most economists are accustomed to treating companies as idyllic places where everyone is devoted to a common goal: making as much money as possible."

ETA Still more (I'm not modifying what I already wrote, tho, now that there are comments):

"However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits' routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it -- and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real."

Every single part of that paragraph is wrong. In the chapter on pregnancy and Target (which is terrible, but you've probably already read it as I think it was published in article form at least once when this thing first came out), he describes how people change all kinds of long standing shopping habits when they move, or habit a baby, or whatever. We know that if you make it more expensive and/or more difficult to engage in a behavior (smoking, say), people will adjust that behavior (up to and including quitting entirely), and not necessarily because they consciously decided to change that habit. I think he even mentioned that when fast food restaurants close, people often start eating at home, rather than going to another shop in the chain.

The worst thing about this book is that it has a mostly right idea -- we do most things on autopilot -- and then goes about explicating it and around it in entirely the wrong way. Most habits occur and are maintained by the environment; there are only a few people out there being conscious about their habits in anything like a systematic way. If you want people to Do Better (differently, whatever), you change their environment. And he even documents ways in which that can occur -- altho even those explanations use ridiculous language like willpower that is entirely wrong-headed.


Also, when I bought this in paper at Willow, there was a book at the register about a bunch of uses for a dead kindle. I used to love paper books and book stores. I fucking hate them all now.

But I do still love reading, despite dreck like this.

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