Damned Myspace…

The last two books I’ve red haven’t been located by the wonderful little “what are you reading” function on the blog posting page. For anyone who cares, reviews are as follows:

1. Gentleman Soldier – A short narrative on focusing on the brief, but exemplary military career of LTG Wade Hampton, CSA as well as his political life after the war as governor of South Carolina and US Senator. An excellent little work if you are interested in Confederate leadership beyond Lee, Jackson, and Stewart. An easy and good read even for those not particularly versed in the Civil War.

2. Alan Shrugged – A newish biography of Alan Greenspan, covering his childhood and delving into his personal life as well as his tenure as economic advisor and Fed Chairman. Just started this one tonight, but so far have been impressed with the book’s readability.

I could rant about why Myspace doesn’t link to these titles, but have a feeling that I would end up sounding more like a elitist prick than usual. Does anyone want to comment on the irony of being called an elitist prick and being from Western Maryland? At some level the two seem somewhat incompatible, I think.

Something’s different…

I read a number on blogs of this infernal machine and a common refrain among my fellow drones is something like “my job sucks.” While you’ve often seen me bitching and complaining about whatever happens to be going on, I actually thoroughly enjoy what I do. When I’m bitching the loudest, I’m usually the happiest. It operates on a similar principle to only picking on the people you like. Despite it all, I can’t imagine doing anything else just now.

It’s hard, though to deny that something’s different lately. The phone isn’t ringing as often. The steady flow of e-mail has slowed to a trickle. It’s like the organization is hunkering down, doing underground to ride out the coming storm. I can’t shake the feeling that we’re in the calm now. I hate the waiting. Give me something that I can work against, something I can plan against, something to drive against. I hate the waiting.

Kevin Smith is a funny, funny fucker…

If you haven’t had the chance to see Clerks II, make a little extra effort to go see it you damned slacker. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. No spoilers here, just my personal assurance that the usual suspects are all there and that it’s the best hour and thirty-seven minute movie you’re likely to see this summer.

And now you know the rest of the story…

So, twelve hours ago everything was a pressing crisis and the wheels were coming off. This morning, I sit here at 0930 and really have nothing to do. The super-secret-leadership-team hasn’t issued any taskers, made any requests, or made there presence felt in any way with the exception of running into some of them taking a smoke break. Does anyone what to take a stab at explaining why people wait until 1600 to tell you something needs to be done by the end of the day. I’m just wondering… and waiting. No need to be optimistic, so I’ll just be cautious.


I had hoped to write this centennial blog post in tribute to you good and true readers out there. This topic, however, has been preempted by an overwhelming need to rant. I will save my half-written homage to you people for my bicentennial post or other appropriate celebratory occasion. With that said, on to the rant already in progress…

So far my plans for this work week have included the following: 1) working in Winchester; 2) working in an undetermined location that would not be Winchester; 3) working in Baltimore; 4) Working in DC instead of Baltimore; 5) working my “regular job” instead of the “special” project I have been working on; 6) Working on the special project; 7) actually getting home on time and having some semblance of my normal life back for at least a week regardless of what “type” of work I was doing.

To give you a little idea what a normal day looks like, I wake up between 0400 and 0430 and leave the house no later than 0515. I arrive at the office at 0630, take lunch around 1130, and leave at 1500. If the stars are aligned and I have managed to not anger the Beltway Traffic Gods, I should be home by 1630. All of those times have some flexibility built into them to account for things such as traffic, stupid Metro, and the occasional last minute issue that needs to be resolved at the office. I like my schedule, but we only live together; I’m not married to it.

Today, for all outward appearances, should have been reasonably “normal.” Met with Big Boss Man at 0745 to get marching orders for the day and between three of us managed to churn out much of what he had requested well ahead of the Thursday deadline he requested. Feeling good about our head start on meeting this deadline, we adjourned a few minutes after 1500 and headed for the stupid Metro and our respective places of residence.

I knew there was trouble when I looked at my Blackberry sometime around 1545 and noticed that at 1523 we all received an email with the subject line, “Where are you guys” and no additional message. A follow-up email had come through in the meantime exclaiming, RETURN TO OFFICE. The difficulty was that by this point, I was squarely in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to merge onto the exit for I-95 north. Quite simply, I was stuck and not RETURNING TO anywhere in the foreseeable future. By that point an additional follow-up email had hit my inbox, which by that point had the same effect as a horrendous accident in which modesty demands you avert your eyes, but curiosity gets the best of you. This last email was instructions to change our work schedules to 0800-???? for the rest of the week.

Now, simple civility demands that one may want to inquire if we were able to make those changes. After all, the last anyone had heard, this was to be a “normal” week. We’ve all been jerked from pillar to post for this damn project and for the most part we’ve done it with remarkable good nature. It’s not even that a schedule change lays us into an hour of the morning when traffic is a nightmare and parking all but nonexistent. It’s simply another straw on an already overburdened back.

For me, the bottom line is this: I’m tired. Exhausted is a more accurate description. Things have a way of looking better by first light, but right now, this minute, I just don’t care if we succeed or fail. I just want it to be over.


In the Apology, Socrates wrights that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Presumptive arrogance aside, I’ve never claimed to be a Socrates, although I do subscribe to this particular philosophy. From time to time, I have always found it necessary to withdraw for short periods of reflection and introspection. Typically, these periods have led me to some deserted stretch of beach in late September or October. There is something about the chilled wind coming off a grey sea that aids the thought processes. More rarely, it has led me to the mountains. A small cabin in the dead of winter with a roaring fire and night closing in during the late afternoon does tend to give one more than ample time to think. Usually, I take a few changes of clothes and a larger bag of books, writing pads, and a computer for those moments when spell-check is important. More often than not, my thoughts have ended up on stacks of yellow legal pads. Im slowly moving those into electronic format, but do not intend to ever make them available for public consumption. Its simply easier to reference the electronic format than my own hand-written papers.

I haven’t been on one of these sojourns in a while now, and thought that some of you august readers may be interested in knowing what goes on in my head from time to time. I wouldn’t say that I exactly have been contemplating mortality. I have come to terms with that reasonably well and don’t spend much time pondering the hereafter. What comes, comes has always governed my thought process here. More recently, I have been contemplating the more mundane aspects of life.

For the better part of the last ten years I have watched friends and colleagues pair off, marry, have children, and start an “adult” life. Those things have never been an ambition of mine. When asked why, usually I dismiss it with an offhand comment about time or living more or less on the road. The reality is somewhat different, however. A more accurate response, I think, is that the care and maintenance of a relationship demands flexibility. It requires compromise and a willingness to substitute the needs and desires of others for your own. Somehow, I missed the part of class where they were teaching those things. I was recently accused of suffering from a case of arrested development, and I suppose that case can be made with some justification. One thing I want to make perfectly clear, however, is that while I may show some symptoms, I don’t suffer from it. I revel in it. I wear it like a winter coat and it keeps me warm, fat, and happy.

As a lover of movies, its not surprising that I find as much inspiration from them as I do from the above mentioned Socrates. Both have things to teach us if we are willing to learn. One of my favorite movie quotes captures the sprit of how I feel on most days:

“…greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Alone and lonely are not synonymous for me. Alone implies that there is time to think, to learn, to pursue things not yet achieved. Lonely implies a state of mind that one chooses to embrace. I’m not philosophically opposed to the idea of life-long relationships, to great loves, but I have always demanded the right to embrace them on my own terms. Some people look slightly askance when I say that my dearest friends are those I grew up with. These are the people who have seen my flaws up close and have forgiven me. I’m sure the phrase “well, that’s just Jeff” has passed in conversation on more than one occasion. Distance and time has not, will not, dim my respect, admiration, and yes, love, for these individuals.

We all have a star to follow and mine has led well and truly. It has provided opportunities I could have scarcely dreamt of growing up among the small coal towns of Western Maryland. It has led me to range across the continent and the oceans and it has always brought me home again. I make no claim to know the future, but where it leads I will follow and try to never be too surprised at where it takes me.

No smoking…

Let me begin by saying that I recognize that the Marriott Corporation is a private enterprise and I recognize their right to do virtually anything the want with their private property.

I have been a good and loyal customer of the Marriott brands of hotel for most of my adult life. With the number of days on the road this year, I have been an exceptionally good customer lately.

I was disappointed to see this morning that as of September 1st, all hotels under the Marriott brand will become “smoke free for the comfort of our guests.” Since I’m a guest, I inquired this morning how that was increasing my comfort. At the moment, I have not received a response from the customer service department that up until earlier this morning had returned my e-mails in a matter of an hour or two. Go figure.

To make a long rant short, I will no longer be patronizing Marriott hotel brands. I cleared my outstanding reservations for the remainder of the year and will be closing my rewards account shortly. I have no intention of patronizing a company that presumes to tell me how to live in this, or any other, aspect of my personal life.

The camel’s nose is under the tent now and I wonder where he will end up. He has found us in our hotel rooms and I can’t help but think our living rooms aren’t far behind.

Delayed gratification…

I’m struggling with my next post… It has the possibility of becoming more of an epic narrative, but I just can’t seem to get the cadence right and I’m not willing to post it until I do. In the meantime, I promise I’ll try to be better about posting more simple observations from the great City of Baltimore, since I have the pleasure of working there for the rest of the week.

I will warn you in advance that what I am working on is more of a philosophical piece, so I’ll apologize in advance. I usually have to be pretty drunk to get to far along into things like that. Suffice to say, its working title is “Lying awake at night…”

More to follow, so stay tuned.

Things unexpected…

There are a lot of thing I expect to see lying along the side of a major highway. Mufflers fall off, I understand that. Tractor trailer tires explode and are left where they fall. Occasionally whole bed liners lift out of place and end up on the shoulder. Trash, animal carcasses, all manner of refuse of the civilized world ends up there at one time or another.

What I never expected to see on such a list is an entire steering wheel. Now, I know that the most likely explanation is that it fell of a truck hauling cars to the auto graveyard, but I can’t quite shake the image of a frustrated commuter finally pushed over the edge, pounding on the wheel, tearing it from the column, and flinging it from the car in a fit of traffic-induced rage. I can almost feel the singular moment of ecstasy and freedom just before the car slammed into the guardrail, nearby tree, or under the wheels of the neighboring 18-wheeler. The final scene of Braveheart comes to mind.