What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Throughput. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: When you have X amount of time and Y amount of work, unless you’re managing things pretty closely the sum is almost never going to be zero. There will always be more work than time. The best most of us can manage is to prioritize the effort and try to get to the important stuff. If there’s important stuff that’s not being tended, it’s probably a good idea to tell someone it’s important rather than relying on them to read you bloody mind.

2. Scheduling. It’s Thursday night. The list of things to get done between now and Sunday evening is already twice what I should reasonably expect to get done. I shouldn’t complain since I make my own list, but still, I’d love to at some point have one of these nice restful weekends I hear people talking about. At least there’s a hard stop at about 8:30 Sunday night. The Dead are back and a man has to know where his limits are.

3. Election. Oh dear god how is this election not over yet? Please make it stop.

Flexible and transparent…

I wish I could tell you that I was about to launch into a sales pitch for the newest cell phone by telling you how it’s improved screen was flexible and transparent, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to lament that I sat in a meeting today where we were told that things are changing rapidly and that we should smile more because that makes things better. We were also told on three separate occasions that it’s really, really important to “be flexible,” and that the powers at echelons higher than reality want to make the whole experience “transparent” for everyone.

Honest to God I don’t know how anyone is expected to sit through that kind of putting-lipstick-on-a-pig banality without fierce eye rolling. Worse yet I don’t know if it’s what people say because they don’t know what else to say or if they say it because they believe it. Frankly neither option is particularly palatable.

After the 100 minutes of my life sacrificed today that I’ll never be able to get back, I wish I could tell you that I have a warm fuzzy that anyone has some kind of clue what’s going on, but again that would probably induce another massive eye roll. The truth is, I haven’t had a clue what’s happening in six months or more. What I do know is that now “everything we do” has to somehow be tied in to the newest overlord’s three main priorities… Which, of course, addresses a couple of big showy ideas, but does precious little to address the everyday issues of running an organization of 70,000+ people.

I guess as long as we’re ever smiling, flexible, and endlessly transparent, it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference whether we know what the end state is actually supposed to look like… since when you don’t know where you’re going anyplace can be a destination.

Just to be on the safe side, if anyone needs me I’ll just be taking another shot at rearranging these deck chairs, because slamming directly into an iceberg feels every bit (if not more) likely than anything good happening at this point.

The simple things…

A wise old Prussian told us that “Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult.” Of course every strategist’s favorite general was talking about war, but I’ve found that in application it is a truism in nearly every field of endeavor. I mention it because that’s precisely the kind of week it has been so far. At first blush everything has looked so bloody easy, but has turned out to be harder to get done than anyone could ever imagine.

For the last two months the powers at echelons higher than reality have promised that during the most current reorganization, construction, and office move, everyone would be keeping their old phone numbers. It was the one thing that was supposed to be seamless and allow the other changes to happen without disruption to anyone outside who was unaware of the internal organizational churn. This afternoon, moving those numbers was proclaimed too hard to do and instructions came down from Olympus to turn off all the call forwarding and “fall in” on the phone number already associated with our new desks. That too should have been easy enough, except for the part where some numbers had already been moved – which allows the old “ghost” numbers to exist and continue forwarding calls indefinitely.

The only solution was asking the help desk to open a trouble ticket to have it corrected centrally. Anyone who has ever talked to the help desk knows with that one call, we’ve thrown simple or easy directly out the window. Then of course there’s the “new” number we’ve been assigned, which hasn’t actually been assigned to us… and requires a second call to the helpdesk so they can have someone open a new voicemail box and assign our name to the number.

That’s only supposed to take three work days. Honestly. Three days is the estimate. It takes AT&T about 3 minutes to do it when I upgrade cell phones, but it takes the single largest employer in the world three damned days. It appears there’s nothing about this week that isn’t going to be absolutely exhausting, especially the simple things… because they’re the very hardest things to do.

Buy American…

I was about to start this post by saying “I’m a simple man…” and then of course realized that despite my powers of written persuasion, not even I would buy that particular argument. I’m mostly an enigma even to myself, but that isn’t the point. At least that isn’t the point this evening. What I started this whole post to say is that it’s possible I’ve gotten entirely too accustomed to ordering something online and then having it show up at my door 24-48 hours later… or maybe 72 if I’m ordering from overseas. That fact that it happens so consistently is really a remarkable feat of logistics. It’s so remarkable that I’ve started taking it utterly for granted.

That is to say I took it for granted right up to the point where I’ve had a package sitting in Philadelphia waiting to clear customs since Wednesday of last week. Apparently because it’s “imported goods,” it now requires an FDA release prior to being released by Customs. Just one release use to be good enough to satisfy good old Uncle Sam, but in the best traditions of government, where one is good, two must be better.

What all that means, as far as I can tell is that instead of the 72 hours turn around I’ve grown accustomed to, getting something into the country now takes God knows how long. All things considered there are easier ways to convince people to buy American. As is now all you’ve really managed to do is set me thinking about ways to subvert the official process and still do what I want to do without technically being in violation of the law.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Refinance. I’ve had two deals blow up in the last 45 days. One because of obscure federal regulations governing how many condo units have to be owner occupied and one because the appraiser used a nearly-unrelated set of comps and low-balled the house value. So now basically I’m out $850 with nothing to show for it but a shit ton of paperwork and the exact same rates with which I started the process. Some days it’s not at all hard to imagine why people don’t trust, like, or particularly want to do business with large financial institutions.

2. Party Planning. I’ve once again assumed my mantle as supreme party planner. Feel free to talk to me about event registration, catering, party tent reservations, name badges, parking, shuttle bus service, cash bar socials, menu planning, and all of your party, wedding, or other event needs. When I walked out if the gym at dear old Frostburg State with a shiny new social science degree in hand this is not at all the future I had in mind. Let my life experience serve as a reminder to you all that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you’ll have any interest in doing it. But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and spend a few months each year doing something you loath. It’s sure it’s character building or something.

3. All the other things. Perhaps capping off the list of annoyances this week are all the small things. That’s what life is made up of, really. The day-to-day, moment-to-moment instances. Usually they pass by unnoticed and unremarked… until they all start fraying at the same time. This has been one of those kind of weeks, where even the easy somehow makes itself hard to do. If I make it through Friday afternoon without verbally expelling what’s really on my mind at anyone I’ll consider it one of my greatest personal and professional accomplishments to date.

The rare bit of social interaction…

Honestly it had been so long since I’d gotten rid of my old Wrangler that I’d forgotten about the propensity of other Jeep drivers to wave to one another in passing. I know motorcyclists follow a similar protocol when passing each other and maybe there are other vehicle brands that do the same. I certainly never experienced it in my wide range of other vehicles. Drivers of Cavaliers, Corsicas, Grands Prix, Mustangs, and Tundras certainly don’t engage in this behavior. If I’m honest, I should be calling it the “Wrangler Wave,” since the Cherokee, Renegade, et al, don’t participate… but let’s be honest, when someone says Jeep it’s the round-eyed icon from the days of the world at war that everyone’s mind conjures up.

While being reminded of the “Jeep Wave,” I’ve also noticed a few trends in the last few weeks. Your most consistent group of wavers are the drivers of “old fashioned” two door Jeeps. It’s even more likely if they’re lifted or kitted out for the trail. The Unlimited 4-door drivers seem less likely to lift their fingers from the wheel. I have no idea if that’s circumstantial or if it has something to do with the type of people who buy hard riding, wind-noise and leak prone, impractical 2-door vehicles versus those who want the same experience but in the more suburban, practical 4-door variety. There are definitely “two-door people” and “four-dour people,” but we can leave that discussion for another day because I’m mostly focused at the moment on “Jeep people” in general, because someone willing to put up with the ride, the noise, the leaks, and the fuel economy that hasn’t budged since 1986 are a different breed altogether.

In any case, it’s real thing that people do… and it’s a rare bit of social interaction of which I cheerfully approve and engage in.


I’m what most people would consider an early riser. I’d be hard pressed to remember the last time I slept past 6:00. More often my days, even the ones at the end of the week, start no later than 5:30. Sometimes they start much earlier. It seems the years of well before dawn alarm ringing have exacted their penalty. I don’t mind it, though. I’ve gotten to like the early morning routine, the quiet, and general lack of people.

Much as it may sound it, this isn’t my ode to the morning. I like to think I’m more subtle than that. Instead, what I’m grappling with now is how it’s possible for me to claw out of bed at 5am on a typical Saturday, Sunday, or holiday Monday, hit the ground running, and keep myself mentally engaged until it’s time to turn the light off that night. I only wonder because on the usual weekday I spend most of that time feeling nearly comatose at worst and merely addled at best. The only discernible difference between those days and today are where I’m spending the hours.

​There’s something telling about that. Now if I didn’t have a shit ton of bills to pay I could ​probably do something about it. The more likely course of action is that I’ll just go ahead and trudge through five days a week in a situationally induced torpor and feeling like a real person on the other days.