Funny how much better things feel if they start out poor and get better, instead of starting out good and getting worse. And even if conditions are deteriorating, if the rate of change is slow (or slowing) somehow it doesn't seem so distressing.
Immediate personal case in point: the main furnace (heat pump) at home died more than a week ago and won't be fixed for several more days. It's an exotic ultra-high-efficiency model, still under warranty, and replacement parts have to come from out of state. Winter weather in the area has been frigid. We tried to warm a few rooms of the house using electric space-heaters, without much success. Cooking and running the natural-gas stove (with constant monitoring and a carbon-monoxide detector in the room, don't worry) helped.
But next a blizzard struck the area, bringing more than two feet of snow and cutting off all the electricity. That got a wee bit discouraging! But we were already making-do, so we added more layers of blankets and kept on cooking etc. And to pile on the suffering, I did a first pass through my income taxes by flashlight—and got a paper cut in the process.
And then, after 33 hours, the power came back on. Yay! Paulette and I laughed together and agreed that things didn't seem so bad now after all. "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," as the Joni Mitchell song says.
(cf. PowerCurves (1999-06-18) on hysteresis, Andrew Tobias's remarks in NoRetrenchment (2002-08-05), and Z. A. Melzak's comments on annealing and Nazi concentration camp survivors quoted near the end of ResetTheThermostat (2004-04-01) and YearsOfWandering (2006-02-02) ...) - ^z - 2010-02-08