The lost day…

Today kind of feels like the day that wasn’t. Between getting a latter than usual start, the usual Saturday errands, cutting the grass and a laundry list of other minutia around the house I sat down a few minutes ago and realized it was almost 8:30 and I hadn’t gotten a blog post in for the day. In fairness, that might be mostly because there wasn’t a thing that happened today that was worth mentioning. As much as I would like to opine about the current fiasco in Syria again all that really makes me want to do is throw my hands up, quit civilization, and go find a couple of hundred acres of the mountain west to call my own, build an off the grid cabin and the proceed to ignore the rest of the world as much as possible. I don’t know how you go from being the world’s only superpower to begging the French for help in less than a generation, but it seems like we’ve managed to pull it off. Of course that’s not the point of this post.

Then again, this post doesn’t really have a point that I’ve been able to identity other than the fact that it’s slowly creeping towards 9PM and I can’t really give you an accounting of where they day went. Fortunately there are two days left this weekend. Hopefully I can manage not to lose them too.

The kids…

Where I have little to no patience for human beings (regardless of whether they be large or small), I have a decided soft spot for most of the other members of the animal kingdom. I’d rather spend a day with dogs, horses, turtles, or dolphins than I would 99.999999% of the people on the planet. After living with myself for 35 years, I suspect I’m uniquely unsuited for the role of parent by aptitude, attitude, and general level of interest. I don’t have human children and I’m completely at peace with that decision. Kids 2Whatever nurturing instinct other people have for small humans, I seem to have for animals.

Where most people in my age bracket are lavishing time and attention on their kids, for me it’s the dogs. Sir Winston, my medical misfit, will turn six in January. He’s my special needs child if there ever was one. With a host of ointments, salves, and balms for his skin, drops for his ears, a prescription diet, and a bionic leg, like me, he’s alive mostly because of the wonder of modern medicine. He’s well into middle age for a bulldog and seems to be happy enough passing his time sprawled out across the middle of the living room floor. He still has an occasional surge of the old energy that’s really something to see, but more and more he’s simply the grand old man of the house, content to watch the world pass by through the glass of the back door.

Lady Margaret, the only chocolate in a litter of black labs, clearly follows in the footsteps of her older brother. By that I mean she is possibly the most atypical Labrador retriever I’ve ever met in my life. I won’t say that she’s lazy, but she is definitely laid back. Where other people complain that labs are overly excitable bundles of energy, she’s only really bothered when the doorbell rings or someone gets too close to her yard without seeking permission first. Maggie turns five in October, so it’s safe to say she’s well past the point where I need to worry about the rambunctious puppy stages.

The two of them really have been nearly inseparable since the day I accidentally brought Maggie home. Aside from a few random days and the occasional vacation, they’ve both been pretty inseparable from me, too. They’re the closest thing to kids I ever plan on having… and they have the added benefit of never wanting to go to college, or get married, or borrow the car. Now if I could just come up with a way to claim them as dependents, I’ll be all set.

This has been the final edition of “You Ask, I Write” for August. Thanks for playing.

Holding my tongue…

I suck at holding my tongue. It runs counter to my natural inclination to get loud and rowdy when points of personal pride are involved. I can only hope that my silence is never mistaken for assent. I have a long memory, particularly when it comes to keeping tabs on those who think I’ll stand idle while they malign my integrity. If I Asshatdon’t react it’s because I’ve opted to respond in a time and a place of my own choosing rather than based on someone else’s timeline.

My very first instinct when something stupid happens is to think about it as a “blogable” moment. Occasionally, despite how pitch perfect the post would be, a cooler head eventually prevails and I realize that now is not the time to shift my career dissipation light into overdrive. Instead, I bite my tongue, and file the original post away for future reference or for inclusion in Jeff’s Great Big Book of Asshattery, currently scheduled for publication in Fall 2036.

I may be keeping my own counsel. For now. But I urge you not to make the unfortunate mistake of thinking that I’ll ever allow myself to be backed into a corner – Especially by someone whose quiver is only filled with tersely-worded emails.

The thing I miss least…

Now and then I post about things I miss about working in DC. Today I was reminded about one of the great big hairy things that I don’t miss – trying to fight my way into and out of the city when the work day coincides with a major event or demonstration on the National Mall. Whether it’s a march on the Capitol or a memorial dedication, there’s nothing worse than being some schlub just trying to get to the office when there are roads closed all over town and hippies are packed into metro like sardines. When you’re just a guy trying to make a buck, thirty minutes of ye olde protest songs sung in an enclosed space and people dragging train cars full of kids to “see something historic” really just have a way of getting under your skin. Don’t get me started on the douchebaggery of not knowing you should walk to the left and stand to the right.

From those of us whose time in commuter hell is complete, all I can say is good luck and Godspeed you brave suburban voyagers. May your travels tomorrow not end in chaos and gridlock. If you can’t have that, at least try to remember it’s technically illegal to jump the curb, drive down the sidewalk, and run over the tourists. Sometimes staying out of jail is as much of a victory as you can expect.

The Syria question…

So, it would seem that the Syrians are chunking chemical weapons at each other. The good news is that if they are busy beating the snot out of factions within their own country, they’re not busy chunking the same weapons at us or our allies in the region. Of course there’s a fair chance that will change as soon as the Western allies start lobbing cruise missiles at Damascus. It’s a game changer and makes the US and our allies legitimate combatants. I’m not saying I don’t like our odds in a general engagement with the Syrian army, but we should walk into this thing knowing full well that it’s going to be a shit storm from the minute we light the candle.

Politics and the 24-hour news cycle prevent us from going to war the same way we did in the first half of the 20th century. I might even be inclined to argue those are two of the contributing factors for why our latest wars have had declared “endings” rather than ending in substantive and actual victory. If CNN’s cameras had been around to film Dresden burning or the blood on the sand of Okinawa, I wonder if World War II would have gone into the win column or if we’d have collectively settled for an unsatisfying and counterproductive draw.

I have no compunction about England and the US leading the world on this latest Mid-East escapade. It’s probably the morally right thing to do and we seem to be the only countries around with the stones to do it even if the world will immediately crucify us for it. We just need to remember that in throwing our lot in with the Syrian rebels, there’s going to be a price to pay in blood, treasure, or more likely in both. The stakes of the game are the lives of the men and women who serve and we damned well better be playing with loaded dies before we decide to give them a roll.

If I thought we were going to storm the beaches, stamp the flame of radicalism out using any means necessary, establish a working and legitimate democracy, and stay there for 50 years to make sure the peace is secure, I’d be more inclined to say it’s a good idea. That’s the model that worked in Japan and Germany. If we follow the model used in Iraq and Afghanistan of political half measures hog tying military expediency, or worse yet, fire off a couple dozen cruise missiles and hope for the best, all we’re doing is creating more trouble than we already have – and a mess that we can’t avoid ten or twenty years from now.


In keeping with my now long-standing Sunday tradition, I’m pleased to present this week’s installment of Sunday morning archive posts. Today’s selections come to you live and unedited via tape delay direct from March 2008. From Spring snow in Memphis to contemplating the end of a major stage of my career, we’re covering a lot of ground this week. There weren’t any epic rants in mid-March, so apparently most things were right with the world. I guess even I have weeks like that now and then. I suspect I’ll look back on more recent posts in five or six years and find that I’ve gotten more jaded an cynical over time. Some people would argue that’s a bad thing. I’d argue that it just makes for more entertaining writing.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll be blogging in the present day. I haven’t picked out a topic yet, but I’m sure someone, somewhere will do something ridiculous that will need commentary. One of the great perks of being an observer by nature is that it leaves you with an almost limitless supply of material. Even though I avoid people as a matter of principle, I do appreciate them as a source of content. I’ll be waiting for my Humanitarian of the Year award.

Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…

I’ve never been to Oklahoma, but if it’s anything like my perception of it, things have been boring there for a long time. If I had to put a date on it, I’d certainly say it’s been boring at least since we closed the frontier in the 1880s or at the latest during the oil booms of the early 20th century. The Old West and boom towns are full of stories about people being gunned down – for cheating at cards, rustling cattle, robbing banks, running liquor, and sleeping with the wrong man’s wife. What the old timey stories aren’t full of are examples of ass clowns who decided to shoot the place up because they were bored.

Seriously? They. Were. Bored. When I was a teenager back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth I’m not sure any of us would have even had the passing thought of running outside and shooting whoever happened to jog past the house. We had plenty of guns between us – and even used them to entertain ourselves by plinking bottles and aluminum cans – but gunning down someone for just wandering past never figured into the plan. Mostly, we entertained ourselves riding four wheelers, shooting pool, swimming, listening to music, exploring the just-born internet, playing the original game consoles, or what we generally called “hanging out.”

I’m already reading about how the shooting of Christopher Lane is a failure of society, about how these three turd burglars had difficult childhoods, and the hundred and one other excuses people have when their kids turn out to be assholes. Sorry mom. Sorry dad. You failed your kids, not me, not the government, not society, but you. Maybe if you had put a book in your kids’ hands at some point or sent them to music lessons or gotten them involved in sports they’d have turned out differently. Now you get to live with the consequences of your kids gunning an innocent in cold blood. Their actions are the result of your collective failure as parents.

It’s going to be up to the good people of Oklahoma to hand down the appropriate justice. I seem to recall them being the last bastion of the old fashioned firing squad in these United States. Let’s hope they put that tried and true method of sweeping the scum from the earth to good use.

This post is the third installment of “You Ask, I write.” Want an opinion on the news of the day? Feel free to leave a comment and I will opine.

Picked up…

Like a television being picked up for another season, I got my notice from GoDaddy this morning that the domain registration for was renewed for another year. Assuming the blood keeps flowing to my fingers, I suppose that means the posts will keep on coming.

A new season often means new characters, a new story arc, and sometimes a completely different direction in an effort to breathe fresh life into a well worn formula. Rest assured, I won’t stand for that kind of foolishness here. You’ll keep getting the same surly, sarcastic, barbed, and vaguely misanthropic posts that you’ve come to expect when you point your browser at my small slice of the internet.

There are currently no changes, no specials, no 2-for-1 bargains planned in this seventh year of blogging. I’m just going to be over here doing what I’ve been doing since 2007. Hopefully you like it… but if it’s not quite your cup of tea or doesn’t live up to your expectations, feel free to bugger off at the earliest opportunity.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Details. There are two general schools of thought when it comes to details. One school says that you should cover every minute detail in as great a depth as possible. The other is that you should flesh out the broad strokes of an issue and allow maximum flexibility in determining which of the details is important. I tend to fall into the latter category… and it makes me ragingly hostile when someone wants to nitpick every solitary detail rather than use their own best judgment about how to get from Point A to Point B.

2. Timing. It seems to me that despite best efforts to the contrary, most events generally happen when they happen. While most of us make an effort to manage timing as best we can, as often as not that train is leaving the station regardless of what we do and there’s not a thing gained from laying down on the tracks in front of it. So, although I’m more than happy to concede that timing certainly drives events and gives them momentum, I’ll be damned if I’m willing let it alone be the determining factor in how those events unfold. Grand strategy is far too important to be left to the simple whims of timing.

3. France. Suddenly the French have decided to be all loud and militant about chemical weapons in Syria. Welcome to the party, France, but you’re a little late. I don’t remember you coming online when Iraq was in the crosshairs and we know for certain that they used chemical weapons against their own minority Kurdish population. If France thinks Syria is a war worth fighting, I’m all in favor of giving them the green light to lead their own coalition of the willing into that stinking quagmire of a civil war. But after a generation or two of France thumbing its nose at US foreign policy, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t jump on board with whatever wild international game they’re hoping to play.