What Annoys Jeff This Week?

1. Fall. It’s not fall specifically, but I do hate that by 2:30 this afternoon there wasn’t even a hint of sun shining in the courtyard at work. I am so not ready for it to be dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home. And fall only serves as reminder of this upcoming unpleasantness.

2. Apple. Again. This week you officially announced that next week you’ll be making an official announcement about the next iPhone. You guys are killing me. Just let me plunk down my money and order the damned thing already. And for the love of God, will you please bring back pre-ordering? I’ll get up hours before the ass crack of dawn to drive 60 miles to the Apple Store if I have to, but please don’t make me.

3. The Federal Hiring Process. I got an email this afternoon letting me know I’d be was in the running for a position I applied for in February. Seriously? It took you seven months to get around to putting the list together, FEMA?

4. Facebook. Your new changes have crushed the number of clicks I’m getting from Facebook to my blog. I hate you for that, but since I’m way too cheap to pay for ads, I’ll eventually figure out a way around you.

5. People who ask for a read receipt on every email. You know who you are and you suck. That is all.


As a technology organization, there are a few things that should pretty much always work. I’m past belaboring the importance of keeping the network up and running, though. The things that you need to focus on are apparently more basic. Like a keyboard that doesn’t drop every fourth or fifth letter while you’re typing.

Without this pretty standard piece of kit, you end up with sentences like “Norma people souldn’t be expected to wrk under thse conditions.” Which is all well and good until you actually start working on something, you know, that needs to get done in a reasonable amount of time. So now instead of actually being productive, I get to put on the editor hat and spend the day correcting everything that I’ve written. I shudder to think what tidbits got past me before someone bothered to point out that I was writing like a small retarded child.

I don’t know why I still hold out hope that someday basic office equipment issued by my employer will actually works as specified. Personally, I’d rather pony up my own equipment and have something I knew would work than continue to bend my spear on the underpowered and ill-repaired hand-me-downs we subsist on. Honest to God, this isn’t work, it’s just the vague illusion of being busy.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.


I have a Kindle app on my iPad, I have a Kindle app on my iPhone, I even have a two month old Kindle sitting in the living room on the table beside my big comfy chair. Despite all logic to the contrary, I still find myself looking at the new and improved Kindles trying to convolute logic just enough to justify buying a new one. It’s obvious that I absolutely, positively don’t need one. It’s even more obvious when I admit that even though I have an actual Kindle, I use my iPad for 90% of the reading I do. So, yeah, I’m going to do my best to resist the temptation to run out and spend $150 on a new device that’s mostly just going to sit around. Especially since in another few weeks I’ll be hot on the trail of the latest and greatest iPhone.

Sigh. It’s sad that there’s so much tech and so little time. The new Kindles do look slick, though. If anyone is picking one up, let me know how it handles. Maybe you can give me the nudge I need to sell my lightly used current model at a deep discount. Come on. Be an enabler. You know you want to.


Last night, a member of the United States Congress stood in front of a campaign fundraiser in New York City and told the crowd that “The country is ripe for a true revolution.” Worse yet, he had the unmitigated gall to use this call to revolt as nothing more than an applause line. I suggest you study your history, Mr. Paul. Revolutions are brutal affairs. Look to our own Civil War and War for Independence as your examples. Look to France’s Reign of Terror as a guide if the fields of Antietam, Shiloh, Lexington, and Bunker Hill aren’t bloody enough for you.

Words, Congressman Paul, are important. How we use them is important. The meaning we convey, whether intentionally provoking or simply aimed at garnering easy applause, is important. And by God, sir, when you as use your status as a duly elected member of Congress to call for revolution against the government of the United States, you’ve saved us all the trouble of deciding and branded yourself a traitor.

We had our revolution, Congressman, and with it we secured the right to replace our government through legal means. As a twice failed candidate for president, you’ve not garnered the support of enough of your own party to even be the nominee, let alone convince half the electorate at large that your ideas are right. No sir, we don’t need a revolution. What we do need is to get back to the spirit and intent of the revolution we fought to win our independence. I’ve been a capital “R” Republican for most of my adult life, but I’ve been a lowercase “r” republican for much longer. The founders gave us all the tools we need cure what ails this nation. We must fix the foundation, but you want to tear down the whole house and then set the rubble alight. You may couch your rhetoric in populism, but a call to revolution, intentional or otherwise, is a supreme act of cowardice from a man who’s run out of legitimate ideas. Shame! Shame!

Criminal stupidity…

Last week, one of my mortgage payments went down. Thinking I would do the prudent thing and reallocate the surplus to paying down the another that’s at a higher rate, I logged into the online banking center and changed my autopay settings on both accounts. At least that’s what I thought I did. In reality, I set a brand-spanking-new automatic payment for each of the two mortgages in question. That wouldn’t be so bad, of course, if you caught your mistake right away. It turns into a bit more of an issue when you miss the mistake for a few days and the bank deducts twice the normal payment from your account and leaves you with a balance of $4.37.

Since almost every bill I have is set up to automatically pay every month, I rarely look at the actual accounts any more. Which helps explain the near-epileptic fit I launched into when the bank sent me a friendly “low balance” email this morning. I’m glad to say that the bank was more than accommodating at getting the situation resolved, but that didn’t really help me feel like any less of a tool. Although I’m still glad I found out today and now three days from now when I stop by to pay the rent. Since I spend most says ranting about it, I thought it was only fair to call out my own bout of criminal stupidity. And now you know the rest of the story.


I realize that I’m using a work computer on a work network and I’m completely cool with there being limits on how those things can be used. I just think there should be a little more transparency about what the rules are and how they are applied. No internet porn. Got it. I’ll try to remember that it’s whitehouse.gov next time. No harm, no foul. But how about the BLOCKED/Humor category. I can’t get to The Oatmeal or The Onion, but I can get to Dilbert.com. Irony much? Why is it I can’t check the winning Powerball numbers (that site is BLOCKED/Gambling), but the guy next to me can spend half the afternoon selling stuff on eBay? I mean we’re both just trying to strike it rich, right? He’s just willing to put in a little more effort than I am.

Look, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be standards… I’m just saying that once again, you guys down in the network ops bunker are doing it all wrong. At least you’re consistent.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

Wooden Warbirds…

In over five years of blogging, I’ve only rarely made product endorsements and I think almost every one of those was for various new toys Created by Apple in California®. Frankly, I don’t generally have enough personal interest in any product to bother writing about it. Lots of other bloggers have a very good handle on the field of endeavor. From time to time, though, something comes along and catches my eye.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that Greg has been a good friend of mine for the better part of the last two decades, but that’s not really the point here. I think the guy’s onto a winning product and has picked a great and innovative way of raising the funds to make it happen. The interesting thing here is that no one is asking you for a donation. By signing on as a project backer of Wooden Warbirds, you’re pre-ordering a product, not just giving away “cash-for-a-cause.” If enough people out there think this is a good opportunity, and Greg reaches his $10,000 goal, there’s one small business that can tool up and start putting together product and making sales. Have you seen the economy lately? How can you not admire a guy who wants to take his passion and make a business out of it, right? I’ve seen Greg’s work, and he’s the real deal.

Look, I know for $1 a day you can feed an orphan in Greater East Dirtbagistan. Charity is great, but how often do you get to help a guy start a business? So seriously, go check out the link have a look around and see if it’s a project you can get behind. For $5 you can get that warm fuzzy feeling you get from doing good (and a fancy laser-cut medallion). Kick it up to $25 and you just covered the Christmas present the historian or aviation buff in your family will covet.

Do me this one favor. Click the link and have a look around. If nothing else, maybe you just discovered the tool you need to generate startup capital for your own great idea.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

I’ve been told that some people can get through a week without being annoyed by anything. Those people are apparently suckers. Want to know what annoys Jeff this week? Here they are, as always, in no particular order:

1. The Maryland Transportation Authority. A week after the news from Annapolis reported Maryland’s budget was in surplus this year, the board members of the MTA unanimously voted in favor of the largest toll increase in the state’s history. Nice move asshats.

2. 30-somethings who complain about the stock market dropping. If you were 60 years old and contemplating retirement, you’d be right; a declining stock market would profoundly suck. If you’ve got 30+ years before you can even reasonably contemplate hanging up your career, the bottom falling out of the stock market is the best thing that could happen for you. You see, the whole point is to buy low and sell high. In case you’re wondering, this is the “buy low” part.

3. People who think that a satellite is going to fall on their head. OK, I’ll admit that a bus-sized satellite is hurtling back to earth, but A) It’s most likely to come in over South America (i.e. it’s someone else’s problem) and B) Even if it were coming in directly at the good old US of A, what do you realistically thing that chances are of it falling directly on your head? For you as an individual, the odds are 1:21 Trillion in case you were wondering. Please perform an immediate reality check and then go sit quietly somewhere.

4. Douchebags who hike near the Iranian boarder. You know what? You deserved to go to jail if for no other reason than being stupid. At what point did setting out on foot anywhere close to the boarder of a nation that’s a sworn enemy of your country strike you as a good idea? Well, two years later, I guess you could say lessons learned. In this one case I’m in the incredibly uncomfortable position of thinking the Iranians did the right thing.

Office food…

The top dog around here wandered into our office this afternoon and announced that he had descended from the 5th floor because he’d heard that we had pizza. Not only did we not have pizza, but we also didn’t have a clue what would make him think we did. As it turns out, the pizza was for an office on the other side of the building, but hey sir, it was nice seeing you. Realistically, I can understand his confusion. Our office eats. A lot. There’s always a pie or a cake or, strangely, a ham sitting in a conference room somewhere. I’ve never worked in an office that wasn’t run by some arm of the government, so I have no idea if it’s this way everywhere. For purposes of discussion, I’m going to assume that it is.

Maybe it’s just my own proclivity, but most of office food makes me nervous. I’m ok with the bagels and donuts that come from the nice shop down the street. It’s the stuff that people bring in from home that worries me. I mean how well do you really know that cranky old battleax that sits down the hall? Want to tell me the last time her kitchen counters got a good scrub? How many cats did she say she had again? You get the point. Let’s be brutally honest here, there’s a pretty good chance your coworkers can’t even make a good cup of coffee. I can’t think of any legitimately good reason I’d trust most of them to make lunch.

Sure, you say, but most restaurant kitchens are filthy too. But what I have with the restaurant that I don’t have with my coworkers is plausible deniability. Plausible deniability and a certificate from some local government inspector that says yeah it’s dirty, but not dirty enough to kill you. Probably. But come on, you’ve met the people you work with. What are the chances they’re not going to try to kill you?

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

It’s you, not me…

Dear Facebook,

We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last few years. I use to love the way you told me what my friends, family, and random people who found my account were up to on a regular basis. Back then you were friendly and easy to use. Unfortunately, you’ve changed and now I seem to have to spend hours tweaking your settings to get even a bad approximation of what you use to do automatically.

I don’t dig it and as much as you want to call it a feature, it’s really you trying to guess what I think is important rather than just giving me the information and letting me make my own decisions. You’re smothering me, Facebook, and I’m not alright with that. This isn’t easy for me to say, but I think it might be time for us to start seeing other social media. I mean, I still want to be friends and all and we can totally still hook up, but I just can’t rely on you to be my one and only. You’ve broken my heart too many times for that. It’s a shame, because we could have had something real.

So yeah, I really think you just need to spend some time focusing on being the best you possible. You still have so much potential, but I’m afraid you’re trying too hard to overcomplicate the plumbing and you’re going end up like that used up old husk MySpace. Please don’t let it end that way.

If you want to talk, you can always hit up my cellie or look me up on Twitter (jdtharp) or even add me on Google+ (jeffrey.d.tharp). I’ll still look in on you from time to time and I’m totally going to use you to shamelessly plug my other endeavors, so we’ll always have that, right?

Take care,