The last posts from August 2007 and up and ready for your reading pleasure. Usually these Sunday morning updates are delivered in a five pack, but I didn’t feel right about leaving one post just hanging out there waiting for next week, so you get a bonus sixth post today and I get a clean slate to dive into posts from September 2007 next week. Sounds like a win for everyone involved, no?
A couple of editorial notes on this weeks posts:
- August 24, 2007 is the first mention of what will become jeffreytharp.com that we all know and love today.
- Apparently back on August 29, 2007 I still considered myself young and ambitious. Talk about a few years changing your perspective on things. I’m not quite ready to label myself old and crusty, but my greatest ambitions these days involve getting home to hang out with Maggie and Winston and have precious little to do with life at the office.
Check back next week as we step into the wayback machine and travel to September 2007. I’m sure a good time will be had by all.
I saw the new Star Trek movie this morning. Having spent a good part of my late childhood and early adolescence steeped in the legend, lore, and canon of the Star Trek universe, I’m going to admit up front that I’m still a touch troubled by the “alternate reality” premise adopted for J.J. Abrams’ relaunch of the series… not so troubled that I’m boycotting the effort, of course, but troubled enough to catch myself muttering “no… no… that’s not right at all” more than once before the end credits rolled. I suppose that’s to be expected when you give one of this generation’s great hotshot directors license to tinker around with a franchise that’s been around for the better part of fifty years.
I’m not going to go down the road of issuing spoiler alerts and cover the play-by-play of the new movie. I’ll simply say that it’s probably one of the year’s best adventure movies – even allowing for the ubiquitous lens flares and oddly unnecessary moments. It’s even probably a good Star Trek movie – allowing for the wild deviation from the doctrinal story line. Despite the deviation, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort taken at re-envisioning one of the great story arcs from the the original series.
It’s not the post I had planned for this evening, but it always seems best to strike while the iron is hot. I’d like to thank the Cumberland Times News for picking up my press release and giving this hometown boy a little bit of publicity today. I’m not quite sure if I’ve “made good” or not, but if nothing else I like to think I’ve “made interesting.” It’s been my experience thus far in life that interesting trumps good on most occasions.
If you’re looking at the print edition, the article is right there in three short columns on page 2C below the fold. I’ll take all the help I can get and I appreciate them helping me get out the word.
1. Filling up the quiet time. Some people assume that because I’m not talking they need to find a way to fill in all the quiet time. Rest assured, if something needs said I’ll say it in front of princes, profits, potentates, or presidents without regard to their rank, race, or religion. I’m quiet, not shy. There is a difference. On the other hand, when I don’t have anything of substance to add, I’m happy sitting quietly. I don’t need an endless nattering buzz of small talk in my ear to make me feel connected. Most days I desperately wish some people didn’t have a pathological need to fill in the quiet times with pointless chatter.
2. iPhone. I love my iPhone 5. It’s been a workhorse since the day UPS handed it to me. Since then, we’ve gone everywhere together. We’ve been inseparable. Sure, the UI could use an update and I wouldn’t mind a bigger screen sometimes, but those aren’t the issues that make up the hate end of my love-hate relationship with this phone. It’s the battery life. It wasn’t great right out of the box, but over the last few months it’s gotten progressively worse. Through resets, wipes, switching off functions known to draw lots of power, and aggressively managing what apps are open, I can sort of slow the battery drain a bit, but that’s not exactly a substitute for a battery that doesn’t suck. I’m trying to think of a good reason why after three hours of pretty limited use, my battery is drawing down towards 50% and none really come to me. I’ll limp along with a handful of cables and a external battery pack until the 5S comes along… but if that battery doesn’t show some significant performance enhancements, it might be time to reevaluate iPhone’s place as my daily carry.
3. Turning left. When you’re the first vehicle in the left turn lane, you should go ahead and pull all the way forward to the stop line. That way the invisible traffic gnome knows that you’re trying to turn left at the intersection and can wave his green light wand to change the signal. When there’s a line of traffic 40 cars deep sitting behind you in the left turn lane, it’s sort of a bad time to be confused by basic effing driving skills, you useless excuse for a meat sack. I have no idea why it’s socially unacceptable to drag people from their cars and beat them with a Stick of Shame for such mindless asshattery.
One of the most frustrating things about running a blog is that some of the posts I think will go like gangbusters end up falling flat while others that were more offhand seem to spark the most interest. Even when posting about a normally popular topic, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for why some posts get a large number of views and others languish more or less unseen. Such is the life of a blogger – always chasing after the next “hit.” Come to think of it, that description makes it sound a little like blogging is the nerd equivalent of being a smack addict. Maybe the two aren’t as different as they seem except for the part where a blog only tends to ruin your life by sucking up all your free time and possibly getting you sued for slander or libel.
If I ever find the secret formula that’s probably just the perfect combination of topics and timing, I’ll be sure to let you know. Actually, I won’t. It will become my most closely guarded secret as I let the number of visits reach into the stratosphere. It’s more likely that I’ll continue bumping along at 20-120 views a day indefinitely, because really I’m more interested in writing about whatever catches my interest on any given day than I am writing random crap just for the sake of driving web traffic.
Secretary Hagel announced this afternoon that the department was reducing it’s number of planned furlough days for civilians from 14 to 11. That’s down from the original estimate of 22 days they were talking about back in February and March. Judging from the blip of coverage I’ve seen, the media consensus is that defense civilians should be doing cartwheels and singing hosannas at the “good news.” That’s a problem for me.
While it’s true that 14 is better than 22 and 11 is better than 14, I’m not willing to concede the point that any number of furlough days is a “good” thing. In fact it’s bad precedent for the next 9 years of sequestration planning, it’s bad for productivity, and it’s bad for morale. I’m not going to get on the band wagon of a 5% pay cut this year (after 3 years of frozen pay) being a good thing. I’m not lending even the hint of my accepting the idea that this is anything other than a political problem being solved on the backs of a workforce that they’ve already spent three years beating like redheaded stepchildren.
The story we’re being sold is that leadership has “saved” the workforce from the worst effects of the sequester. The reality is that all you’ve done is replace one really shitty course of action with another slightly less really shitty course of action. It’s hard to imagine why I wouldn’t be falling all over myself with gratitude. I wouldn’t thank a mugger because he didn’t take all the cash in my wallet and I’m not going to thank our illustrious leaders for legally doing the same thing. If they were expecting a thank you for their half assed attempt at “leadership,” boy did they come to the wrong place.
Since there’s only so many times a reasonable blogger can gripe about back-to-back-to-back meetings, I’ll give it a rest tonight. Instead, I’ll simply mention a fun few seconds dashing from one meeting to the next. Admittedly, I have a probably inappropriate habit of whistling to myself if the hallway happens to be empty. Sometimes it’s whatever song is stuck in my head from the drive in, sometimes it’s something I heard at my desk. This morning, it was The Rains of Castamere. Something about it’s bleak overtones seemed to fit the day of meetings without end. Of course it’s even better when a complete stranger coming from around the corner recognizes the tune and makes it a brief duet without saying a word.