Better than average…

Now that the sappy sentimentality of Christmas is behind us and the drunken orgy of New Years still lies ahead, it’s the time of year when we look back at what made the year memorable… Yeah, I’m coming up blank on that, too. Fact is 2011 was pretty much identical to 2010 and there’s every indication that it will be substantively similar to 2012. I’m not making a judgment call about that so much as I’m just letting it lay there as a statement of fact.

2011 had something in the neighborhood of 104 weekend days, 10 paid holidays, 19 vacation days, and about 6 sick days. That leaves about 226 work days. That’s 62% of the available days in the year spent sitting in a cube, playing with PowerPoint, trying to wordsmith every outgoing email to reflect a bold, can-do attitude, and generally trying to convince ourselves that what we’re doing really makes a difference to more than the 2 or 3 people on our left and right who actually know what we’re working on. A handful of those days were really, really good. Another handful were really, really bad. The vast majority were just somewhere between the two.

I have no reason to think it won’t be the same in 2012. The only difference is 2012 has a head start on the number of good days because I’m not going to spend a third of it trying to escape from the hellish clutches of the Uberboss. The long painful job search and transition process is over. I’m settled in to the new job and back in the part of the country I never should have left in the first place. All in all, maybe that’s not such a bad kickoff to the new year. If I can manage more average days than bad ones and find myself home every night in the right part of the world, I guess I’d have to say I’m pretty happy with good enough.

Here’s to the new year. Best of luck at keeping things better than average.

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


From the editorial staff at, a merry Christmas and totally excellent new year. Enjoy the time off and visits with friends and family. After the 2011 we’ve had, lord knows we’ve all earned it. Let’s see if we can prove the Myan calendar wrong, shall we?

Can’t stay away…

After what seems like an excessive amount of scanning, poking, prodding, and stressing, my faith in the marvel that is modern medical science, is somewhat less than complete. The good news is that there are no obvious signs of things that could cause me to suddenly drop dead. The bad news is that whatever it is that’s causing my head to occasionally explode remains as a diagnosis of “uhhh… we’re not really sure, but here’s some heavy duty pain meds to take in case it comes back.” Now I’m as big a believer in better living through chemistry as anyone around, I think It’d still rather know what it is than what it isn’t. Since that outcome is apparently a bridge too far, I’ll follow my other tried and true solution and try ignoring the problem until it goes away on its own.

… And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging hiatus.


When someone is sick, most people feel some kind of empathy. That’s the human response. The slightly more jaded response, though, is giving a brief moment of thanks to God that the person in question is not going to be in the office today. As badly as I feel about someone being ill or suffering, that’s nothing compared to the overwhelming relief I feel at not having to deal with them for two days in a row. That’s probably more than a little wrong. It’s possibly evil. It does, however, have the virtue of being exactly how I feel about the issue. I may be a lot of things, but dishonest isn’t one of them.

Sure, if it were something life threatening I’d probably feel bad about the situation, but if someone having a head cold can give me a few moments of peace, there’s no harm in being happy about that, right?

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

Wrong again…

Every time I get the brilliant idea to take a brief respite from writing, something happens that nudges me back here. Some of that is just my nature as an e-attention whore and the rest is that writing things down tends to help my give my thoughts a little bit of structure. So instead of a Christmas hiatus, here we are again.

Since I’m now working on day three of this headache, I think it’s fair to finally have to start giving it some serious consideration. The good news is that the initial period of feeling like someone shattered the back of my skull with a baseball bat is over. The bad news is that the searing pain has given way to an apparently semi-permanent dull ache running from behind my left eye around my head and down my neck. Loading up on aspirin dulls it a bit and the doc was nice enough to give me a prescription for Oxy to use if the worst of it comes back. Still, though that doesn’t tell me much about where it came from in the first place. In the absence of actual answers, I’m all in favor of better living through chemistry.

Doc seemed happy enough that there was no neurological issues yesterday, but the MRI should give us a read on whether something is lurking around waiting for the opportunity to strike. I suppose aneurysm is a possibility, but then again the MRIs are a great excuse to jack up the bill too so every one wins. Except the guy who didn’t realize he was claustrophobic until they jammed him into the machine. The brain is a marvelous thing… My abject fear of dropping dead from a blood vesel exploding in my head apparently overrides my newly discovered abject fear of confined spaces. Even fear is a matter of priorities, I guess.

So until I hear otherwise this morning, I’ll be sitting here with my OCD running through all the possibilities that Google can come up with. If I come at it logically I know if there were any critical issues, they’d have me strapped hospital bed right now. Being a pessimist, though, my tendency to plan for the worst isn’t particularly helpful this morning. Getting my answers on someone else’s schedule just isn’t working for me.

Christmas Hiatus…

I’m thinking about taking a Christmas hiatus. Seriously. I mean it this year. I’m really considering just pulling the plug and letting this place gather dust for the next week or so. After all, it’s not like many sites put up a whole bunch of new content during the holidays when people are paying attention to other things. It really seems like a perfect time to take a little break without too many people noticing I’ve been gone. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before actually. It might be interesting to see how things play out when “how can I write a post about this” isn’t always pinging around the back of my head. Then again, maybe I’ll hate it and be right back to posting before the weekend even rolls around.

Right now it’s just an idea I’m kicking around, but if you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s just because I’ve idled the engines for a few days not that I’m taking a permanent vacation. Or not. I think everything depends on how I feel and how interested I actually am in writing on a day by day basis. Just now I happen to think that a week off is just what the doctor ordered of course that could easily change the moment some shiny bauble catches my attention. How’s that for being indecisive and noncommittal?


Ten people sit in this room on days when we all happen to be here. This morning six of them are on the phone, three of them are engaged in a heated yet pointless conversation, and then there’s me sitting here trying to keep my head from exploding while listening to the whole cacophony grow louder and louder with each passing minute. I’m sure at least 50% of what’s going on is more or less work related, but really what I need them all to do is just STFU for a few minutes. As good as I usually am at blocking out whatever chaos is going on around me, they’re getting on my last nerve this morning for some reason. It’s good that my desire to stay out of prison is so strong, because otherwise I’d probably go on a wild 3-hole punch swinging rampage.

Sometimes I wonder if the bosses think that lots of noise equals lots of things getting done. It could be that I’m just the outlier here, but my work tends to be better when I have a nice quiet place to work on it without too many superfluous interruptions. If I had skills that were marketable anywhere other than to other big government agencies, I’d strongly consider just hanging out my own shingle and then only accepting work via email. It’s a real pity that landed gentry in England stopped hiring hermits to live on the grounds as part of the scenery round about the time the Victorian style passed from fashion. I think I’d have been exceptionally talented in that field of endeavor.

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

A Christmas Miracle…

For every Christmas since I was old enough to buy my own presents for people I’ve been the guy who went on a mad dash on Christmas eve picking up gifts and dumping them in the lazy man’s wrapping paper – the oversized gift bag. I’ve improved a little over time since most things can now be delivered right to my door (thanks for that, Amazon). This year, though, is a high water mark. With a week to go before Christmas, I survived my final assault on the shops, actually wrapped everything with Christmas paper, and essentially have nothing left to do with five entire days left between me and the holiday.

That probably doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment to those of you who start their shopping in August, but for me it’s huge. It means that this year all I have to do on Christmas Eve is show up – which shouldn’t be too hard since I’ll get up early enough to be ahead of all the other lunatics trying to get from Point A to Point B. It also leaves me with an unusual amount of free time this week. It’s unusual, but I’m sure I’ll manage to find some random activity to occupy my attention… because, really, at this point anything is better than more shopping.


It’s good to start the weekend with a closet full of freshly laundered clothes. The fact that laundering those clothes is what I’ve done so far on my Friday night is pretty lame. It would possibly be forgivable if I were going to change into some of those cleaned clothes and go do something interesting, but what’s really going to happen is I’m going to hit the couch with my iPad and read until I can’t keep my eyes open. Then I’ll take the dogs out and go to bed. Probably around 10:00. Yeah. Lame. But I’ll bounce out of bed at 6:45 tomorrow morning feeling rested and reasonably well put together… Which in retrospect is probably also a cause for concern. Although since that’s sleeping in by almost two hours, maybe it’s not so bad, right? Right? *insert cricket chirps*

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

And here is your regularly scheduled installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week…

The Federal Hiring Process. I just received an email notice that an agency I applied to work for back in April (yes, that’s 8 months ago), has finally decided that they’re not going to hire for that vacant position. Really? I took some jackwagon eight months to decide that hiring into the teeth of massive budget cuts wouldn’t be a great idea? Brilliant. Give that man a promotion. This has got to be one of the top two or three reasons that people don’t list the federal government as one of their “wishlist” places to work. The process itself makes you question whether you’d want to work there in the first place.

Automatic Faucets. We have faucets at the office that turn on automatically when you hold your hands under them. It’s a neat bit of tech. Unfortunately, now I find myself standing in front of “old fashioned” sinks shaking my hands furiously wondering why the water isn’t flowing. Even though I use automatic doors from time to time, I still seem to be able to let myself in and out of the old fashion kind without any real trouble. You’d think the same basic technology applied so something I use as often as a sink wouldn’t leave me standing around pondering what the problem is on a regular basis.

The National Transportation Safety Board. As a group, Americans can be pretty dense… and we’re at our collective dumbest when we get behind the wheel of a car. I applaud the NTSB for wanting to keep is all safe, but will need them to do a reality check. In 2009 about 6000 people were killed by “distracted” driving. Four times more people die in this country die every year from unintentionally falling down. Falling. Down. Seriously. In terms of the big scary ways to die that are out there, distracted driving doesn’t seem like one that I’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time worried about. Besides, even if I weren’t texting, it’s just as likely that I’d be distracted by changing the radio, scratching my butt, talking to a passenger, or scarfing down a Big Mac. Then again, those are probably the next things the fine deciders at the NTSB will want to ban.