Live… from my kitchen…

iPhone release day is typically one of the highest traffic days of the year here at jeffreytharp.com. Then again on a fair number of those days I was standing in line using the blog as a time killer at 4AM more than anything else. Lots of pictures. Lots of updates. It was just something to do to pass the time that didn’t require “making new friends” with the people on my left and right.

FullSizeRenderWith Apple again offering home delivery on release day, I opted t stay home and follow the whole event from the comfort of my kitchen table. So…. if you’re checking in to see what kind of foolishness is happening over in the line at Christiana Mall, you’ll need to find a different huckleberry this year.

I’ll spare you the constant updates this year since what I’m doing to pass whatever time now between me and delivery are such exciting events as paying bills, washing dishes, and running the vacuum cleaner.

In the spirit of my heroic live blog of past years, I give you the following:

7:21AM – My iPhone 6 traveled overnight from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and arrived in Newark, DE last night at 2:41AM. It loaded onto a UPS panel truck at 5:47 AM and send out into the world for delivery. All that’s left now is the waiting.

8:40AM – A moment of hope for an early delivery. Sadly, the squeal of breaks and rumble of a diesel engine at the end of the driveway turned out to be a school bus.

10:10AM – First pot of coffee finished.

12:01PM – Soup.

1:24PM – I’m going to cut the grass… in hopes that UPS will try to sneak up on me while I’m distracted.

1:48PM – UPS delivers to guy two doors down… and then drives off in the opposite direction.

2:02PM – Delivered.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The occasional bout of insomnia. I usually sleep like a brick, but twice this week I had the opportunity to see 1AM, 2AM, 3AM and then the final alarm at 5AM. Much as I’d like to think I can get by on two hours of sleep a night, you’re safe in assuming that I can’t. It might be ok when it’s a one off, but when it happens back to back, by the second day I’m worse than useless. If there’s a redeeming quality it’s that I generally sleep well the following night. It’s still a hell of a price to pay for a good night’s sleep.

2. Runaways (and the people who let them). Speaking as a dog owner, sometimes they just get way from you. I got it. Once Maggie squeezed through the 1/4 open back window of the truck and bounced off the pavement at a gas station somewhere along the interstate in middle Tennessee. Fortunately, she didn’t make a dash for it. That’s the only time either one of these fuzzballs was ever really in danger of getting away. As it turns out the black lab who made himself in my yard last night belongs to a family two streets over. The lady who lives across the street saw him in the yard after I left this morning and returned him. She said that was the 5th time this summer. I’m not sure why you’d bother to have a dog if you’re not interested enough in them to make sure they don’t wander off in the first place. It seems the first or second time they were returned by someone else these people might get the message. One more example of why I like dogs more than people. It’s a pity such a good looking and sweet pup gets to spend his life with asshats.

3. Motivation. I’m not sure where it went this week – probably the same place my ability to sleep has disappeared to, but wherever it is, it needs to make its way back. I’ve got the proverbial laundry list of things I want to do this weekend and not so much as the first drop of will to get them accomplished. As much fun as a good weekend on the couch sounds, not having anything to show for it will just piss me off come Sunday night.

The scores are made up and the points don’t matter…

Maybe the worst thing you can do in a room full of people who analyze and evaluate information for a living is walk in and show them a presentation while telling them that you don’t know how the data was processed to arrive at the stated conclusion you want them to believe. Most of us are already cynical from long years of having people try to convince us that “this time is different” or “shit doesn’t stink and I have a comprehensive study to prove it.” When you, the peddler of snake oil wrapped in a pretty PowerPoint covering, basically tell us that the scores are made up and the points don’t matter all you’ve really said is you’ve wasted an hour of our time. You see, that’s what happens when you pass along data that’s impossible to validate, from sources that are impossible to verify. Now that might not have been your intent, that was most assuredly the result.

In this line of work, credibility is pretty much the only coin of the realm. Once it’s lost, it almost never comes back without a massive effort and wasting even more time. It’s my estimate that avoiding that path from the outset is the better, more practical, course of action.

But what do I know? I’m just a guy sitting here with 105 minutes of his life gone today that he’s never going to get back.

Research…

There’s always a fine line when a project starts between wanting to just do the work quietly and wanting to blog about every step along the way. In the interest of not giving away the store before it’s even written, I’ll try to keep my discussion points fairly general in terms of the next product in the jeffreytharp.com pipeline. Suffice to say it’s not going to be quite like any of my previous efforts.

I haven’t set down to a writing effort yet that didn’t start off with research… and that’s where the lion’s share of my self-imposed writing time is allocated at the moment. I’m doing my best to spend an hour a day sourcing background information in the hope that once I have a stack of notes, I’ll actually be ready to sit down and put words on the page.

What I supposed you need to know now is there is a fresh work in progress. What I hope you’re going to see at the end of this trail is a deeply personnel (and intensely sarcastic) look at my relationship with life, work, and social media. It may not be of interest to anyone. It may not sell a single copy. But from the preliminary research I’ve done so far, I’m wholly fascinated by the ground this effort will end up covering.

The inevitable leggy brunette…

I think I know why Hemingway went to places like Havana and Key West to do his writing. I can put more words on the page sitting in a dive bar perched at the end of a ramshackle pier than I can most days sitting in the comfort of my own kitchen. Working at home offers the distraction of the familiar and the hundred other things that need to be done to keep the household running. The dive is full of any number of exotic distractions, but they’re different somehow – almost inspirational in a way that your tired old Mr. Coffee and the hum of the refrigerator will never be. There’s something about being away from the familiar that lets the ideas come more freely. Who knows, maybe there really is something to being outside your normal box.

Plus, if only in my own deluded fantasy, when the inevitable leggy brunette slides in next to you with her CrossFit body and a voice of a 1940s Hollywood starlet asking what you’re doing, you can tell her you’re writing a novel… or a novella in my case… but you’re going to want to say novel because no one really knows what a novella is. Besides, chicks dig writers. Quiet down. I already pointed out this is my own deluded fantasy and not the real world where people stare at you blankly when you tell them your grand aspirations as a writer. Sadly, neither the fantasy brunette nor the writing career is really the point.

The only reason I bring any of this up is I’ve spent the last six weeks writing from notes I put together while I was at the beach. That’s six weeks working from material I put together in my spare time over three days and nights. I’d hate to think what my daily word count could jump to if not saddled by such trivial matters as having bills to pay and a full time job. Reality is an often troublesome taskmaster.

Tonight, much to my chagrin, I realized my bag o’ ideas was empty and what I reached for as a substitute turned out to be something I wrote extensively about in 2011. In fact that old post was so close in phrasing at some points that it was genuinely creepy to look at them side by side, but written almost exactly three years apart. I’ve always said that I value consistency, but in this one small area, I worry it could be too much of a good thing.

Aside from being damned inconvenient, it also means from now on I’m apparently going to have to search my own website to make sure what I’m having is a legitimately new idea before spending any time rehashing a chestnut from the past. New ideas get harder and harder to come by when you’ve strewn opinion online for as many as five nights a week for almost eight years. I’ll either need to change up the routine, start seeing different parts of the world, and interacting with new people. Or I’ll just have to spend more time at the beach coming up with ideas. When I put it that way, there doesn’t really feel like a contest about which I should do… because changing up the routine, seeing different things, and meeting new people sounds just awful.

In triumph shall wave…

20060809101028Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of American victory at the Battle of Baltimore. At dawn on September 14th, 1814 a 30×42 foot flag was raised over the embattled Ft. McHenry. After 25 hours of bombardment by a numerically superior British force the American Army held it’s position, securing the entrance to Baltimore’s harbor and denying the British invaders a second major victory following their sack of Washington.

At seeing this massive flag flying over the fort’s battlements, a Maryland lawyer, Francis Scott Key, was so moved that he noted his thoughts in the form of a poem – Defence of Fort M’Henry – that would serve as the lyrical basis for America’s national anthem.

If the American Revolution gave birth to our republic, the War of 1812 – and the Battle of Baltimore – confirmed that the new nation would be preserved and not restored to the dominion of a far away monarch.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Paying cash. There’s a time and a place for cash. I carry it myself. However, the toll plaza at rush hour is neither the time nor the place. That’s the time and place where you should suck it up and order an E-ZPass so you can keep moving through the booth while the toll is automatically deducted from your account. I’m sure you have some very good reason like it being a privacy violation or you’re too lazy to use the internet, but no one has the time to wait around behind you while you try to scrape together $8 in loose change.

2. Strategy. Time was in this country when the chief executive said he had a strategy that meant he had a grand vision for the role the country should play in world affairs. Monroe, Lincoln, Truman, Reagan, and even Bush (43) were able to clearly articulate how they wanted to use American power. Apparently now the grand vision is to tiptoe around the hard issues, not try too hard, and for God’s sake avoid offending the international community in any way. It might be an approach, but it’s not what I’d call strategy.

3. Ray Rice and Mrs. Ray Rice. He’s a dirtbag and she’s dumb enough to not just stay with him, but publicly defend him too. News reported. Could we now please move on to paying attention to something that matters?