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2020-07-28 Stress, stress, and existential stress

For the last year, I've been under a lot of stress. In the last few weeks, it's been overwhelming.

During 2018 and 2019, I grinded on bookwriting. I produced 900 first-draft pages, the equivalent 75% of 4 new books. I'm not a prolific writer. All my published books over the last 12 years amount to only 688 pages, so this was a major accomplishment. I've been pushing myself because I truly feel these are the most important books I'll ever produce, but I still feel deeply worn from the sustained effort. I'd planned to take a few breaks in 2020, maybe travel a bit more.

Circumstances changed, and by June 2019, it was clear that 2020 would be a stressful year for me. Then COVID-19 made my plans hilariously impossible, while adding considerably more stress.

For the last 2 months, I've had a low-level, unrequited need to cry that I couldn't identify. Living in SEA, I feel saturated by the suffering I see around me. COVID-19 has made that suffering so much worse. I see animals suffering, people suffering, people at risk of losing their relationships, their jobs, and their homes. The social safety nets of developed countries don't exist here. (We used to befriend and feed some of the ubiquitous stray animals here. After 6 weeks of lockdown, it seems roughly 75% of the stray population is gone, presumably starved to death.)

I'd been telling myself that the stress wasn't an issue because wasn't I wasn't worried about my existential stress, like having enough money, keeping my home, being separated from my partner, etc.

The lockdown closed my usual source of stress management: gyms. I compensated by running endless circles around my building in the middle of the night. However, local palm oil plantations have used the pandemic to burn almost every night, raising the PM2.5 AQI to unsafe levels.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany - I was wrong. Obviously I'm experiencing existential stress. I'm feeling the insecurity of my relationship, my home, and the futures of not just one, but almost a dozen people.

My girlfriend's visitor visa has expired and, for the last 4 months, we've been uncertain where she'll be two weeks into the future. We could be forced to split up for 6 months or more. Neither of us are suited for long-distance relationships, and our relationship would likely not survive. For months, we've been simultaneously planning to both stay and move to a different country, but we don't know if it would even be possible.

To help the vulnerable local economy, I've hired a lot more staff. We're producing rope for many years in advance, but it's been a huge financial strain. If I screw up inventory, planning, or money management, then possibly 10 people will find themselves suddenly with no job in a market with surging unemployment (despite "official numbers").

Normally, I have a manager handling day-to-day stuff, but when the lockdown started, he decided to keep collecting his pay, but stop working, and not tell me. After I was forced to fire him, I've had to pick up the mess he made.

There were several other minor stresses, including not being able to repair my only vehicle (because mechanics were either closed or overloaded), racist police arresting and extorting legal foreigners for overstaying their visas (when it was impossible to leave or renew their visas and immigration were saying it was legal to stay), and so on.

Then the big one: My landlord stopped paying his condo fees and possibly his bank loan, making my long-term home insecure. During the lockdown, an unchecked water-tank leak destroyed our apartment's main elevator motors; the condo board has no money to repair them. Although I'm fully paid up, the condo management has cut off my parking pass and is threatening to do more after 14 days. If they also disabled my elevator pass, I couldn't access my home, even via the stairs. Local laws exist to theoretically protect consumers and tenants but, in practice, they're completely unenforced and widely ignored. To protect ourselves, we were forced to move to someplace more stable... immediately. Suffice to say, you don't want to move everything you own, unplanned, in the middle of a pandemic.

Once we had our new place, we didn't have Internet. Although I had my phone as a backup hotspot and my gf on a different service as a secondary backup, we were getting speeds of 800 bps to 8kbps. I'm unsure if it was heavy load on the mobile network or being physically above the cell tower, but I couldn't load a single sales-management webpage in ten minutes. Café wifi obviously isn't an option and my building is 90% empty, so I have no neighbors to borrow from. Again, the pandemic made a simple hookup much more complicated.

Living in SEA has made me much more safety conscious and has prompted me to carefully build a system of backups to protect my home, business, health, and those I care about. In the last few months, I've watched COVID-19 knock them down like dominoes (including many others I didn't discuss). More frighteningly, COVID-19 knocked down the foundations upon which my dominoes were placed.

Normally, I'd just deal with the stress myself - it's not in my nature to publicly share private information like this. I know a lot of people are worse off. However, the stress is really compromising my physical and mental health, and consequently, my productivity. I've ensured my employees and girlfriend are taken care of, but with my compromised productivity (and unavailable Internet access, etc), I've not kept up with emails and shipping. I sincerely apologize for the delays. Please know that I'm working at catching up.

Thank you so much for your patience, support, and understanding. Please know that your orders directly fund living wages for some the the world's most economically vulnerable people. Your purchases at Douglas Kent Rope honestly make a difference, especially now.

Doug

Epilogue: Things are better now. My gf can safely be here for at least the next 5 weeks (though I must accompany her everywhere). We've moved to a more secure apartment. Nighttime (and sometimes daytime) air is still bad (we hit PM2.5 AQI of 321 the other day), but there's room to exercise and a short nearby path usable for daytime jogging. We finally have wired Internet again, so I can finally access the DKR site to manage sales. My long-term plans to move our rope distribution to the USA are progressing, which will reduce turnaround times for all orders. Finding a manager/researcher that's both reliable, affordable, and kink-friendly is still a work-in-progress.

2020-04 Chroma Rope!

We now offer Chroma Rope in four amazing colors: Electric Blue, Wild Green, Crimson Red, and Hottest Pink!

The ropes are fully dyed and feature a high thread count so your Chroma Rope stays bright, colorful, and beautiful for a long long time!

2018-07: Complete Shibari 1&2, Version 2!

After a long, difficult search for a good-quality, reliable printer, Complete Shibari 2: Sky is printed and back in stock! It's also updated!

Before each reprint, I make little fixes, tweaks, and updates. I'm proud to say there were very few errors in the original version, and they were consistently minor. However, I made little changes to improve clarity or provide better information.

Generally, the changes were generally so minor the versions incremented by 0.01 or 0.10.

However, Land and Sky have been updated enough that both are now v2.00!

To determine your book's version:

    1.  Open Land or Sky to the boilerplate on page 2.
    2. Under "Printed in Canada", look for a string of characters that look like "1.10...". The first number is your book's version number.  Expect to find versions like 1.00, 1.01, 1.10, etc.

If you own an early version and you use Land or Sky often, consider upgrading. You can gift your books to a friend and get a fresh, updated set.

Don't feel obligated - your version 1 books are still fine. It's just that the newer versions are better!

And if you still haven't bought copies of Complete Shibari 1 & 2, now's the time to get them!

2018-06: Updated booklets!

Major updates to our free download booklets!

  • Care and Feeding of Your Douglas Kent Jute Rope v4.00
  • Using Your Douglas Kent Furoshiki v2.00

Get them on our Downloads page!

2018-04: Rustic rope!

We've created a new, low-cost rope!

Douglas Kent Rustic is our usual beautifully finished rope, terminated with simple Overhand Knots!

 

2018-02: New rope colors!

We've added three new rope colors! 

In addition to Bare Blond and Natural, we now have Harlot Scarlet, Envy Green, and Ballsy Blue! Configure your beautiful Custom rope with these amazing new colors!