I guess I cheat more than I thought:
--I never take out a flagstick when I'm playing alone, and I don't give myself any penalties for that.
--I add a penalty stroke, but I never return to the tee box to hit a lost ball (so, I take the stroke and keep the distance...). I'll often hit a provisional ball just in case though.
What's the flagstick rationale anyway? It might stop a fast-moving ball? Is it supposed to help establish a line? ???