What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The first taste of spring. I’ve paid my dues and part of my reward has been “graduating” to a cube next to the windows. Usually that’s a good thing. Except this time of year when the weather finally starts shaking off the winter doldrums, things start greening up, and our courtyard looking more like an ill-tended park than a well-tended prison yard. It’s good to have a view of something, but once the rain stopped this week and the sun came out the view has mostly left me with a feeling that I’d much rather be outside working in the yard (or holding down a stool on one of my favorite deck bars) than sitting here working on version 43 of The PowerPoint Presentation that Will Save the World.

2. Being common. Pretty much everyone I know professionally carries around something called a Common Access Card. The theory behind the CAC is that it would be the one ID card to rule them all. It’s a good idea. Except that it’s not. Although it is ubiquitously common, it provides access to basically nothing. One way you know this is by standing behind a woman at the front door card scanner and watching for almost a minute while she tries to use it to unlock the doors. Even offering up a helpful, “Uh, I think you need to use you other access card for that door” was met with a furious gaze and a firm “No. You have to use your CAC.” Yeah. Fine lady. Don’t mind me while I reach past you to swipe my card so I can actually get to my desk.

3. The yard. One of the reasons I liked the new house so much was that the yard took up a relatively minor space on an otherwise spacious lot. The rest is filled in with reasonably large trees and plenty of undergrowth. The house needs a few odds and ends, but I made my peace with living with it for a while to decide what and how to attack those. The yard on the other hand is probably only a few days – a week at most – from demanding immediate attention. Trimming shrubs, weeding front and back, new mulch, dirt patches to seed where gas and septic have been dug up, areas where grading pushes water towards the house instead of away from it, the eventual fence project, and the general mowing and edging. Assuming the yard stays dry some of those things are going to have to start this weekend with others following on shortly thereafter. I haven’t had the amount of time to plan the attack that I’d have liked. By the end of summer I’ll have it sorted out, but don’t expect progress to be coherent or consistent in any way. Sadly that means it’s going to take more time than expected to bring the outside up to my probably unreasonable standard of “finished.”


If there’s anything I can say about this house, it’s that when the previous owner built the place they were bound and determined to never want for lighting. At least in the kitchen. With 12 recessed light pots, two pendant lights, a hanging 4-bulb light 8 feet away in the “breakfast nook”, and a few recently discovered battery powered lights under the upper cabinets, kitchen lighting feels like it might have been something of an obsession.

The obsession isn’t quite as bad elsewhere in the house, but by my last count I currently need to stock up to 8 different styles and wattages of bulb. Not including anything on the outside. I managed with no more the four different types of bulb (including the outside) in Memphis and knocked that down to three types in the rental. Currently one pantry shelf is pulling permanent duty as my own personal lighting warehouse. That feels vaguely excessive.

Eventually everything is going to get swapped out with LEDs so I can screw stuff in and then forget about it for about a decade, but in the meantime I’ll spend half my time at home swapping out dead bulbs for live ones – and never having the style or size I need.

It’s just one more item on the list of micro-fixes this place needs to fully carry my personalized stamp of approval. If I’ve learned anything during my various trials of home ownership, that list never actually gets any shorter as there’s always “just one more thing” that needs doing.

An off night…

One of the problems with blogging that no one ever seems to mention is that sometimes after sitting in front of a monitor for eight hours the very last thing you want to do when you’re home and settling in for the evening is once again set yourself down in front of the computer. Tonight is one of those kinds of nights. I’ve sat at my desk now three times since around 6 o’clock hoping that something would pop into my head, but it’s feeling like a lost cause – the rain drumming against the skylights is one of those sounds that may have a propensity to make me very, very sleepy. That’s a good fact to know, but not in any way constructive for getting anything done between now and lights out…

Which, of course is how you end up with a blog post like this one; a few lines offered up to justify how and why I just don’t feel like trying all that hard tonight. After a couple thousand posts, I’m going to go ahead and say I’m entitled to have an off night here and there.

The long cycle…

In my wildest ideations I can’t fathom a situation in which I would ever willingly vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Secretary Clinton has a fine resume, a solid education, and years of experience operating inside the beltway in both the executive and legislative branches. On policy issues, though – starting all the way back in 1993 with the Democratic Party’s first run at nationalized healthcare and running all the way through her tenure as Secretary of State and her “What difference does it make” moment – we have deep, abiding, and fundamental disagreements about the scope, task, and purpose of government.

Could and should a woman be president? Sure. For most gigs I don’t think knowledge, skills, and abilities are based on genitalia. The idea of a woman in the top job doesn’t cause me any consternation. The idea of this particular person in the top job, however, causes no end to my angst…

In the interest of full disclosure I should admit it might be fun to watch Bill figure out how to be First Lady and the antics he’ll be able to get up to when he’s not also occupied with trying to run the free world. Bill Clinton in the White House with time on his hands feels like something that could be deeply entertaining.

In any case, my only prediction at this stage of the game is that we’re all in for a very, very long election cycle.

The hood…

I’ve been so busy talking about the house and the move that I feel that I’ve neglected talking about the neighborhood. The new place, as much as I might want it to, does not exist in a vacuum. That being said, this is about as decent a subdivision as I’ve really ever come across. Acre lots are the minimum, with most being a little closer to two. No more than 40% of any lot can be cleared. Translation: Even in areas where the neighbors are closer than you’d like them to be, there are still plenty of trees between you and the next guy so if nothing else you have the illusion of space.

It’s the kind of neighborhood where everyone (except me) is out jogging on Saturday morning. It’s the kind of subdivision where everyone’s trash cans hit the curb at 6AM on the dot. Except mine, of course. I’m the redneck neighbor who throws it all in the back of the truck and hauls it away myself. Everyone has a fire pit instead of a burn barrel. I wonder if I cut a 55 gallon drum in half if it’ll look enough like a “fire pit” to get away with it.

Since the weather was nice and I wanted a chance to eyeball the people living on my left and right, I took a bit of a walkabout this afternoon. In order proceeding from my left it’s mom, dad, and two kids; ditto; mom, dad, three kids; mom, dad, two kids; mom, dad, four kids. That’s where I stopped. I know this because house-for-house ever single homeowner was out doing yard work this afternoon and I tamped down my inner hermit enough to make introductions. It’s almost a company town, with at least one half of most of those couples working for the government in some capacity. The rest are commuting to Baltimore, Philly, or Wilmington. I’m apparently a rare an exotic species in my hood – single without dependent children. Other than that, I’m living the stereotype of exurban bliss.

My friends living in DC or Baltimore would probably find this place as deeply unnerving as I find those cities… but now that I’ve had a weekend of “living” here rather than just spending time taking things out of boxes it feels more and more like the only right choice. I’m over the natural uncertainty of transition and find that I really do like it here.

And I’m not just saying that because the HOA Architectural Control Committee approved my plan to put up a fence in 36 hours. Over a weekend. Clearly these are my kind of people.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

If you thought movin’ on up was going to in any way interfere with regular installments of WAJTW you clearly don’t know me at all. In my head there’s always something worth bitching about. Like these:

1. Going bump in the night. Two nights in a row I was brought out of a dead sleep by something going bump in the night. It’s a fine little rush, but doesn’t make for a restful time. The third time it happened it wasn’t so much a bump as it was a persistent scratching… and that’s when reality sank in. My headboard and George’s tank align almost perfectly and are separated by two thicknesses of drywall and about three inches of air. Every time he did a little excavating or nudged the side of the tank I was hearing my tortoise loud and clear from half a foot away. That made it a lot less unnerving at 3AM, but didn’t do much at all to eliminate it’s the week’s most annoying “discover” here at Casa de Jeff v2.

2. High efficiency. I inherited a high efficiency front load washing machine. It’s an impressive piece of equipment, no doubt. However, with the old top load $300 Sears outlet model, when I set it to a normal wash cycle it would finish like clockwork in about 40 minutes. This new, improved, high efficiency model on the other hand just takes as much time as it decides it wants to take no matter what it’s set on. Could be 30 minutes. Could be 2 hours. Just depends. While my clothes, I’m sure, are cleaner than ever it sure would be nice to have a little predictability in how long getting them to that state might take.

3. Stupid dreams. So far this week I’ve had dreams about home networking, dreams about washing machines, and dreams about work. Whatever happened to dreams about Sports Illustrated cover models, I have no idea. All I know is going to bed is way less fun when it involves home improvement projects rather than scantily clad supermodels.

Interoperability (or lack thereof)…

One of the only bit of electronics I haven’t managed to really set up yet is getting all my devices to play nicely with one another yet. The current state of affairs has me forever wondering whether the files I’m looking for are on the desktop, the laptop, the external hard drive, or somewhere in the could. This is obviously an unacceptable situation… and the one that it looks like I’ll spend the balance of the evening trying to wrangle. As much as having the occasional cardboard box sitting around is unpleasant, trying to run the house on tech that isn’t communicating is downright intolerable.