Update from the archives…

Since it’s sunday morning and dinner is happily doing its thing in the crock pot, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to load up this week’s update from the archives. Today’s offering includes the last post from October and the first four from November 2007. There are no epic rants this go around, but they lose dramatic effect if one pops up every week, don’t you think?

Today’s posts also mark a milestone in the “from the archive” series. There are now less than a year’s worth of back posts waiting to get transferred here to WordPress. It’s bittersweet. I’m sure I enjoy this weekly trip to the recesses of my brain as much if not more than anyone. I’ll be a little sad to see them come to an end.

Enjoy this morning’s posts and remember we’ll be back with poppin’ fresh content tomorrow.

All go, all day…

The problem with running all day like a house on fire is that you reach a point round about 5PM when all you want to do is sit down and sleep. That’s all well and good, but there’s also that little obnoxious voice in your head reminding you that there are still things that need done… like writing a witty and entertaining blog post on Saturday night. Yeah, I’m honestly not sure this post is going to be either witty or entertaining. I’m not really complaining. I really did get alot done today and since this has been my first weekend home in the last three, I feel good about that. Still, I’d rather not have looked up and realized it was going on 8PM. Maybe I should have cut off the productivity a little earlier. Of course then I’d be sitting here obsessing about the list of things that didn’t get done today. It’s a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Just one of life’s little hardships.

I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to a much abbreviated to do list for tomorrow. Beyond blogging and taking on a few other odds and ends, my only hope is that it’s a good day to get a little more writing done. Sitting down with a good book for an hour or two would just put the day over the top. I’m trying to manage my expectations.

Last Friday…

thumbsdown-gladiator It occurred to me driving in this morning that if everything goes as planned, this will be my last Friday at the office for the rest of fiscal year 2013. Next week, I’ll be celebrating Independence Day by taking Friday off and making a 4-day weekend, but from there on out I am a part time employee of our dear old Uncle Sam.

We all know I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to live in the land of the perpetual three-day weekend, but it’s living in the land of the 80% pay check that seems like something of a problem. I’ve found that most things are never as good or as bad as I anticipate them being, but in this one little case, I’m not holding my breath for it to magically transform into a fantastic opportunity.

Thank God I like to read and write. Those are at least low budget entertainment options I can indulge in to excess in this new found free time. Have I mentioned I’m glad I didn’t get around to buying a boat?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Nature. I’ve never made any bones about not being a hippy tree hugger. I like the idea of the outdoors… as long as it’s neat, and orderly. Wandering around in the woods looking for a place to poop isn’t high on my list of things to do without a damned good reason. I like to think of it as the difference between enjoying an English garden and enjoying the rain forest. Both have their role to play in the great scheme of things, but I really only need to be involved with one of them. Being a practical man, I know that I need nature to cooperate with me from time to time, though. Basically, what I need it to do is stop throwing thunderstorms around every afternoon so I can get some stuff done outside. Stupid nature. Why can’t we control that foolishness yet?

2. Lunch. I use to enjoy a wide range of lunch options – assuming you consider a score of fast food joints and gas station sandwich shops different enough to count as “a range.” Part of my furlough survival plan was to reduce the cost of lunch by bring it from home. It doesn’t sound like much at first blush, but $200 odd bucks a month adds up respectably over a few months. Now that I’m bringing chow from home, I’m thoroughly bored with everything. I’m philosophically opposed to being one of those people that brings in home cooked leftovers to reheat for lunch (throwing good food in the microwave is pretty much on step above reheating it on the engine manifold – sure it’s warm, but it probably tastes like ass), the options do tend to dwindle. There are only so many ways to be creative with salads and sandwiches when you don’t run your own deli counter or just happen to keep a lot of exotic ingredients on hand. When this furlough is over, I may never touch finely sliced roast turkey breast again. Ever.

3. Shipping. I’ve never exactly been known for my patience and I’ve been spoiled by features like Amazon Prime that default all of my purchases to 2nd day delivery. For a few dollars more, I can arrange for an item to be at the house in less than 24 hours. That’s the kind of service that makes me happy. Then there are the surprising number of things I order online that don’t have an Amazon Prime-like option for rapid shipping. They want to take my money, wait two or three days, and then get around to shipping my item by standard mail so it will take an extra three or four days to arrive safely on my doorstep. Maybe it’s just me but a seven day interval between flash and bang feels a bit like an eternity. They say patience is a virtue. Apparently “they” are idiots.

Catching up…

In addition to the 185 work-related emails yesterday, one of the hardest parts of being away is that I fell way, way behind on my blog reading last week. As much as I like to think of blogging as a solitary activity, the reality is that that the community of bloggers is surprisingly interactive. Instead of just a spectator sport, you end up in a round robin of reading, commenting, responding, and repeating. If you follow a dozen blogs and even half of them post every day, after a week you end up with a backlog of something close to literary tonnage. Now that the daily routine is getting back to a semblance of normalcy, I’m wading into the backlog. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that I like to read, because this is going to take a while.

I find summer in general to be the hardest time for a person who wants to spend time reading and writing. Writing in winter is easy – it’s dark by 5PM, it’s cold, and you just don’t feel like you’re missing much while you’re up to your earlobes in words. Summer is a different story, for me at least. It always feels like there is more to do – and those competing interests seem to win out at least as often as they lose. Maybe that’ll change now that we’re reaching the time of the season when hiding out in the cool embrace of the air conditioner is the order of the day.

I’ll catch up on my backlog soon enough… now if I can just shoehorn some quality time for writing back into the schedule, all will be right with the world.

185 emails…

There’s nothing quite as effective as 185 emails in your inbox to drag you back to reality. Three hours later, at least it’s a relief to know that 10% of them were discussing printer and network-related outages, 80% of them were crap you have no actual interest in, 5% were email from friends, and the remaining 5% are issues you actually need to do something about. It’s possible that I might have sat down and cried if there were actually 185 issues that needed my attention this morning. Even though I was physically present today, clearly my brain is still dragging in from somewhere on the Eastern Shore. Unless something ridiculous happens, it should be a day or two yet before the post-vacation afterglow wears off. I’d like to think that it could last until the 4-day Independence Day weekend, but I think we all know that’s more of a pipe dream than a plan.

Aside from the usual complaints about being back in the saddle, the routine is the routine. That’s probably good and bad. It’s comforting because it’s normal, but it still leaves me with a slightly sick feeling that it’s not what I really want to be doing with the day. Reality. 185 emails. Being a responsible adult is a real bitch.

The worst part…

The worst part of vacations is that they inevitably come to an end. Maybe if you sat on the beach for a few hours every day it wouldn’t feel like a vacation after 30 years, but I’d be happy to be the test bunny for just such an experiment if anyone out there wants to fund the study. If I thought for a second I could scratch a living out of a combination of writing and being the guy on 27th street who set up beach umbrellas at 9AM and took them down at 5PM, I’d be there in a hot second. Unfortunately, I’m almost positive that I couldn’t manage to get by on a starving college student budget again. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there isn’t a completely irresponsible voice in the back of my head telling me to say fuck it, sell everything, load up the dogs, the laptop, and whatever else fits into the truck, and head for the coast.

I know everyone has a daydream, but hell, life has got to be about more than sitting in a cube five days a week creating brilliant PowerPoint charts, right? Yeah. So now all I have to do is sell a million books or find someone who wants to pay me $25 an hour plus benefits for setting up umbrellas. Let me know if you’d like to see a resume.

Sunday habits…

Because you know I’m nothing if not a creature of habit, the very first thing I did this Sunday after getting home from vacation was fire up the laptop, find the five next posts from the archive and load them up here on WordPress. I feel like I owe everyone at least that much given the distinct lack of posts over the last few days. As much as I’d like to say I’m sorry about that I think it’s obvious that I’m not sorry in any way for taking a bit of a break. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my peace offering… the latest from October 2007.

It’s good stuff… and includes my initial reaction to being an iPhone owner. I’ll bet it’s not the reaction you were expecting.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean the annoyances stop coming. What? You think just because there’s sand in my shoes I’m suddenly going to be all lollypops and sunshine over here? Right. Anyway, here it goes in no particular order:

1. The parade. Apparently every fire truck in the state of Maryland was here yesterday for a parade. Usually that’s fine. Parades aren’t my kind of entertainment, but people seem to like them, so whatever. At least it’s whatever until it’s an endless line of flashing lights and baton twirlers between you and the hotel you’re trying to check in to. After 45 minutes of looking surly and inching towards the crowd with my bumper, the guy watching the intersection took mercy and waved my across even though the Tundra only has a passing resemblance to a fire truck. Thank God for small mercies.

2. Key cards. I’m sure for hotels they are a vast improvement over losing physical keys and replacing guest room locks on a regular basis. For customers they’re usually convenient too. Except when they aren’t… which in some cases is apparently all the time. I don’t have any real issue with electronic locks, it would just be nice if they were consistent. After a long schlep back up the boards, the last thing I want to do is drag myself down to the front desk for a 3rd time in 24 hours because the key doesn’t work.

3. Traffic lights. Again, probably a pretty useful invention… when they’re set to coincide with the flow of traffic, rather than fight it at every turn (if you’ll excuse the pun). I’m perfectly ok with stopping at every 3rd of 5th light, but getting caught up in every single one is a bit of a stretch. It’s a crowded town. There are a lot of people fighting over every inch of the place, how about we make at least getting from Point A to Point B a smidge easier for everyone?

Sea Fever…

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

– John Masefield © 1902