Beware of dogs…

A quarter mile from house I stopped this afternoon to help a guy pull two dogs off his collie. I could tell just rolling up on it that his pup was getting worked over and he either had the good sense or lacked the stones to do more than yell and flail his arms like a eight year old girl. Of course my critique of him isn’t the point.

41tUNV0ZVdLI saw one of those two loose dogs yesterday afternoon running the neighborhood. What I didn’t see yesterday was the foot of broken cord on her collar, telling me that she wasn’t just a dump and run, but she is probably from somewhere relatively local. Fortunately, she was docile and let me chase her off without putting up a fight. The male was more aggressive. He had the collie pinned and tried turning on me as soon as I got my hands on his collar. Now I didn’t have any intention of getting bit myself and God knows I wasn’t going to let go, but I’m not proud of saying I rang his bell with a size twelve Doc Marten under the chin. Wild as he was, I still feel bad about that. At least it stunned him long enough to reconsider his options. He backed off and let the guy to retrieve his dog.

It was obvious from the look of them that they belong to someone. They weren’t thin, but from the look of things, the female of the pair had a litter waiting for her somewhere. She was bold enough to come over for a nuzzle, but wouldn’t let me get close enough to wrangle her before running off. I hope these two find their way home sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what else is to be done, but I’ll give animal control a call tomorrow during business hours so maybe they’ll stand a chance of getting picked up rather than flattened.

With all that said, I think everyone reading this knows I’m as big an animal lover as you’re likely to find. I love furry critters far more than I love people. I don’t blame them for being loose or aggressive. I blame the owner – the asshat who obviously left at least one strong 50-pound dog tied out at the end of a piece of cheap paracord. I hope those two find their way home even if that’s to people who don’t deserve them, because if they make it to this side of the hill and try to tangle up with either of the two that live here, I won’t be anywhere near as dainty as the guy with the collie.

Turn your head and cough…

Most nights by the time I get home I have at least the kernel of an idea about what I’m going to write about that night. Usually it’s a few words dashed out on the back of a post it note, or a voice memo on my phone, but that’s enough to get me started. Tonight is one of those other nights – the nights when despite being busy from dawn until an hour before dusk, I don’t have a single decent thing on my mind.

You’ll have to trust me when I say that’s not a function of just having been bored today. The fact is today was probably one of the busiest days I’ve had in the last few years. None of it was particularly hard work, but everything I touched was time consuming – understanding the issue, talking to the right people, making sure the right answers go to the correct places; put another way, it was an all-star day of coordinating, integrating, and synchronizing. It lasted forty minutes longer than my usual day, could have lasted another fifty minutes past that, and when I left I still wasn’t close to finished.

Tomorrow looks like more of the same. Actually, tomorrow looks like more of a continuation of today because so much of the work will carry over or worse yet because people will have had the night to sleep on it and dream up some new and interesting wild-assed questions. That’s my long winded way of saying that since around 8AM it’s felt a lot like we’ve been trying to cram ten pounds of day into a five pound sack.

It occurred to me some time this morning that Friday is a day off for me. I’m going to get my yearly physical and eye exam. Getting my eyes dilated and being treated to the old “turn your head and cough” routine sounds better than the alternative at the moment. That should tell you all you need to know about the kind of week I’ve got lining up.

Known knowns…

The better part of a decade ago the then Secretary of Defense befuddled members of the Pentagon press corps with a discussion of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Love him or hate him, Secretary Rumsfeld had a certain happy felicity of phrase that made his press events a thing of beauty to watch. Believe it or not, though, I did’t log in tonight to talk about the former Secretary.

Instead, I came to complain about the known knows – namely that I know the weekend is ending in a few hours and I know even before Monday gets here that I’ll be working late tomorrow night. I don’t mean that I’ll be there until the small hours of the morning, but there is an unavoidable afternoon meeting that’s definitely going to step all over what is normally a very happy time of the day. In this case, it’s not exactly my fault. I inherited this meeting from someone who has moved on to practice other opportunities to excel and it was set in concrete long before it landed on my desk. I like to think you all know me well enough to know there’s no way in hell I would schedule a meeting at end-of-tour. That’s just not my style.

So that’s my known known before the new week even starts. It’s a fair bet that it’s a known that will annoy me for the rest of tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. I wish it didn’t. Things that screw with my carefully cultivated schedule are one of those things that bother me well beyond all reasonable levels. With all that said, the knowns aren’t likely to be the things that really jam up the week. It’s the whole host of unknown unknowns lurking right below the surface that promise to blow the week to hell and back.

With that said, I’ve got a bottle of wine to finish and a good book to stick my nose in for the balance of the evening. That should decisively keep both the knows and unknowns at bay for the time being.

Good intentions…

no_motivation1I came home from work last night with good intentions (and a list) of things I wanted to get done before calling a full stop for the day. Exactly none of those things happened, as I sat down after dinner and promptly fell asleep. That was not part of Friday night’s grand plan. Of course instead of jumping on those items this morning, I’m trying to ease into Saturday while nursing an unearned headache. I don’t mind an early morning headache when I’ve done something like spend Friday night drinking cheep booze, but when I spent it mostly sleeping and sending periodic texts, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to earn the morning unpleasantness.

Now sure, I could sit here with the lights off and continue pouring coffee down my throat, but I still have good intentions towards the grand plan of getting through the things that need to be done this weekend. Now unfortunately I have a day and a half worth of “stuff” jammed into Saturday… and at the moment, instead of doing any of them, I’m sitting here taping on the keyboard and waiting on a fresh pot of coffee to finish dripping. I have a feeling that good intentions may not be enough to get me over the hump today… so this post basically services as documentation that despite my best efforts even I succumb to my inner slacker, but at least I have the decency to feel bad about it.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Detroit. Apparently now indoor plumbing is a human right. At least according to the United Nations, who it seems wants the city of Detroit to provide water to everyone without regard to who has paid for the service and who hasn’t. And that’s where I have the problem, because you see, eventually someone will have to pay. The building and maintaining the infrastructure used to purify and delivery water certainly costs money. At some point, someone has to pay in order to keep the system running – typically that means those receiving the service (city water) pay for what they receive and when they stop paying they stop receiving. It feels like a pretty straightforward pay-as-you-go arrangement. But if the customer base stops paying, who picks up the tab? Whose responsibility is it to pay for something you use? The city? The state? The people who actually pay taxes and their utility bills. Surely we could just charge them a little bit more, no? We have a real problem in this country when huge swaths of society feel entitled to the fruits of labor that isn’t theirs. Detroit’s water woes are just the latest example of nice people being well intentioned, but inherently stupid.

2. Work versus email. The number of messages you send is a really shitty way to measure how much “work” you get done. A) It doesn’t take into account the length, complexity, or content of said emails. B) Being “busy” passing out electronic missives doesn’t mean you’re adding anything of value to whatever you’re engaged in. C) Chances are whoever receives your email is going to misinterpret at least part of it. Sending a lot of email is not a substitute for doing the work. More often than not it’s a sure sign that you’re spending too much time electronically “talking” and not enough time actually thinking.

3. Gaza. Despite what social media apparently want you to believe, the Palestinians and Israelis are not morally equivalent. For as long as there as been an Israel – actually since before then in British Mandate Palestine – they’ve been engaged in a fight for their national survival against a numerically superior foe whose stated ambition is to drive them into the sea. My take on the current Gaza situation is basically the same as if Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia decided Delaware was the odd man out and started hurling missiles into Wilmington. Expecting Delaware in this case to not use every resource at its disposal to make that stop happening would be ridiculous. It’s not the cool or popular stance these days, but I’m saying it out loud and in print: I stand with Israel. Our only real ally in the Middle East and the region’s only functioning democracy deserves at least that much.

Those days…

Today was another one of those days. You know, the kind you spend dashing from Very Important Thing to Very Important Thing without ever slowing down to do any kind of analysis about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Those days are becoming more and more common lately. My read of the future is that they’ll probably become the norm rather than the exception and that it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

I’m not saying I want to be one of those occasional government employees I ran across in DC who unfolded the Post when they got in and proceeded to spend the day reading it from cover to cover, but it would be nice to be able to do more than race from one meeting to the next until they all start bleeding together into one great endless timesuck. I’m a little envious of the people who seem to be able to sit through meetings and digest all the information on the fly, compiling it into some intra-cranial database with perfect recall of how it fits in with all the other information from all the other meetings they’ve sat in. My brain, of course, doesn’t work like that. I process information best when I have time to think on it, write things out, and then aggregate it into a comprehensive whole. That’s why given the choice I’d be better served sticking with PowerPoints and information papers and distilling big ideas down into their essential elements. Needing to do it on the wing quite literally makes my head hurt.

Based on the way the last couple of weeks have gone, I’m projecting the need to lay on a bulk supply of aspirin. As “those days” become the new normal, I’m going to need them. There are a number of management philosophies that apply here – some say do more with less, some say do less with less, the one that seems to be in play at the moment is “do more and quit your bitching.”

Rest assured as long as I have a blog and an internet connection they may be able to make me do more, but I will never, ever quit my bitching.

Two weeks ago while I was sitting on the beach, somewhere between my credit union and Visa the auto pay that pulls my credit card payment every month got switched to the off position. This is a fact of which I was unaware until I got this month’s statement and the bill was about 2.5x what I was mentally prepared to see. After ten minutes of chasing down what happened and another 20 minutes on the line with the credit card company, I think we’ve gotten things sorted out, reversed the late charge, and paid the overdue balance.

I haven’t had something like that show up on an account since I was in broke ass college student shoveling cash out the door faster than it came in. Still, I want the record to show that I’m not blaming the credit union or the card company for this one. Sure, auto-pay is theoretically a convenience that shouldn’t just turn itself off, but my name is the one on the bill and that makes me responsible for seeing that it gets paid on time. I didn’t do that last month and wouldn’t have argued too strongly of they insisted on letting me take my lumps.

Fortunately, they were readily willing to work with me and cut me a break. I appreciate that. I guess having an account in good standing for the better part of 20 years is good for something after all.