1. Mobile check deposit. I learned a fun fact about my credit union’s new mobile check deposit process this morning. That little nugget is if you deposit a check by phone and the transaction doesn’t complete, there’s nothing in place outside of their website letting you know that something has gone amiss. No email, no text, just an envelope that shows up on their website when you get around to logging in. That would have been nice to know before going to the ATM this afternoon and finding the account dropped to a zero balance. I’m sure part of the issue is my insistence on using different financial institutions for different services and therefore using mobile check deposits to avoid transfer fees to keep money in motion, but still, I don’t think an email letting a guy know something went sideways or at least that there is a new message waiting on their website is too much to ask.
2. Suing POTUS. This is just one of of the many reasons I left the Republican Party (or maybe it’s really an example of how the party left me). The House of Representatives thinks they’re being cute by trying to drag the courts into the ongoing drama between the legislative and executive branches. The reality is a political solution already exists to remedy the Representative’s grievances. Of course they realize exercising that option creates nothing but problems for them. So basically what you have is just another example of my former party lacking the courage of their misguided convictions. I may disagree with any number of decisions made from the federal bench, but those judges tend not to be complete idiots, so I’ll be amazed if they ever find one to let this kind of asshattery move forward. Then again, I’m not entirely sure anything coming out of Washington can surprise me anymore, so don’t take any of that as a prediction.
3. Ebola. Honest to God, I can’t believe this is even a discussion we’re having in the 21st century. It’s even worse that there are reports circulating about a “special plane” owned by the Centers for Disease Control that could isolate and import ebola victims into the United States for treatment. I’m all for taking care of American citizens who find themselves afflicted in Africa. Import a whole damned hospital wing and treat them on site, but loading them into a jet and bringing them and their virus here just sounds like a ridiculously stupid idea. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks willingly importing a deadly virus into the country is a monumentally bad thing to do, right?
I have a confession to make. If I’ve only met you once or twice, I’m never ever going to remember your name. If I only see you once a month, I’m not going to remember your name. If we pass in the hallway every day and I recognize you by sight but we don’t have any substantive interaction, I’m never going to remember your name.
Some people have a knack for matching names and faces – even for people they see once and then maybe never again. Honest to God, I can sit in a meeting with you. Have an entire discussion and use your name the whole time, but five minutes later I’ll end up referring to you as “that one guy from the meeting who had a beard.” I know that for a fact because it’s exactly the phrase that came out of my mouth this morning in reference to a meeting I was in yesterday.
So, I’m not good with names. I make up for it with wit, charm, and by never talking myself into a position where I’d need to use a person’s name. Studying your own handout while asking “What do you think,” is a good way to avoid the awkwardness, in case you’re interested. Just avoid eye contact so it’s never entirely clear who you’re addressing and most of the time you’ll be good to go. And sign in sheets. Sign in sheets are your friend. They’re like having a cheat sheet only it’s perfectly legitimate.
All I’m saying to the people who I’ve met already and for those I’ll inevitably be forced to meet in the future, is don’t take it personally when I can’t call you by name in a meeting, after a meeting, or really at any time. Frankly I can’t call anyone by name. Sometimes I draw a perfect blank on people I’ve worked with for almost half a decade, so it’s nothing personal. It’s not you, it’s me.
I’m sure there’s some kind of mental gymnastics I could do to power up that part of my memory that is supposed to store and recall names, but doing that would require far more effort than I’m really willing to invest in it. I’m happy enough continuing to use second and third-person pronouns to meet all my professional needs.
A quarter mile from house I stopped this afternoon to help a guy pull two dogs off his collie. I could tell just rolling up on it that his pup was getting worked over and he either had the good sense or lacked the stones to do more than yell and flail his arms like a eight year old girl. Of course my critique of him isn’t the point.
I saw one of those two loose dogs yesterday afternoon running the neighborhood. What I didn’t see yesterday was the foot of broken cord on her collar, telling me that she wasn’t just a dump and run, but she is probably from somewhere relatively local. Fortunately, she was docile and let me chase her off without putting up a fight. The male was more aggressive. He had the collie pinned and tried turning on me as soon as I got my hands on his collar. Now I didn’t have any intention of getting bit myself and God knows I wasn’t going to let go, but I’m not proud of saying I rang his bell with a size twelve Doc Marten under the chin. Wild as he was, I still feel bad about that. At least it stunned him long enough to reconsider his options. He backed off and let the guy to retrieve his dog.
It was obvious from the look of them that they belong to someone. They weren’t thin, but from the look of things, the female of the pair had a litter waiting for her somewhere. She was bold enough to come over for a nuzzle, but wouldn’t let me get close enough to wrangle her before running off. I hope these two find their way home sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what else is to be done, but I’ll give animal control a call tomorrow during business hours so maybe they’ll stand a chance of getting picked up rather than flattened.
With all that said, I think everyone reading this knows I’m as big an animal lover as you’re likely to find. I love furry critters far more than I love people. I don’t blame them for being loose or aggressive. I blame the owner – the asshat who obviously left at least one strong 50-pound dog tied out at the end of a piece of cheap paracord. I hope those two find their way home even if that’s to people who don’t deserve them, because if they make it to this side of the hill and try to tangle up with either of the two that live here, I won’t be anywhere near as dainty as the guy with the collie.
Most nights by the time I get home I have at least the kernel of an idea about what I’m going to write about that night. Usually it’s a few words dashed out on the back of a post it note, or a voice memo on my phone, but that’s enough to get me started. Tonight is one of those other nights – the nights when despite being busy from dawn until an hour before dusk, I don’t have a single decent thing on my mind.
You’ll have to trust me when I say that’s not a function of just having been bored today. The fact is today was probably one of the busiest days I’ve had in the last few years. None of it was particularly hard work, but everything I touched was time consuming – understanding the issue, talking to the right people, making sure the right answers go to the correct places; put another way, it was an all-star day of coordinating, integrating, and synchronizing. It lasted forty minutes longer than my usual day, could have lasted another fifty minutes past that, and when I left I still wasn’t close to finished.
Tomorrow looks like more of the same. Actually, tomorrow looks like more of a continuation of today because so much of the work will carry over or worse yet because people will have had the night to sleep on it and dream up some new and interesting wild-assed questions. That’s my long winded way of saying that since around 8AM it’s felt a lot like we’ve been trying to cram ten pounds of day into a five pound sack.
It occurred to me some time this morning that Friday is a day off for me. I’m going to get my yearly physical and eye exam. Getting my eyes dilated and being treated to the old “turn your head and cough” routine sounds better than the alternative at the moment. That should tell you all you need to know about the kind of week I’ve got lining up.
The better part of a decade ago the then Secretary of Defense befuddled members of the Pentagon press corps with a discussion of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Love him or hate him, Secretary Rumsfeld had a certain happy felicity of phrase that made his press events a thing of beauty to watch. Believe it or not, though, I did’t log in tonight to talk about the former Secretary.
Instead, I came to complain about the known knows – namely that I know the weekend is ending in a few hours and I know even before Monday gets here that I’ll be working late tomorrow night. I don’t mean that I’ll be there until the small hours of the morning, but there is an unavoidable afternoon meeting that’s definitely going to step all over what is normally a very happy time of the day. In this case, it’s not exactly my fault. I inherited this meeting from someone who has moved on to practice other opportunities to excel and it was set in concrete long before it landed on my desk. I like to think you all know me well enough to know there’s no way in hell I would schedule a meeting at end-of-tour. That’s just not my style.
So that’s my known known before the new week even starts. It’s a fair bet that it’s a known that will annoy me for the rest of tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. I wish it didn’t. Things that screw with my carefully cultivated schedule are one of those things that bother me well beyond all reasonable levels. With all that said, the knowns aren’t likely to be the things that really jam up the week. It’s the whole host of unknown unknowns lurking right below the surface that promise to blow the week to hell and back.
With that said, I’ve got a bottle of wine to finish and a good book to stick my nose in for the balance of the evening. That should decisively keep both the knows and unknowns at bay for the time being.
I came home from work last night with good intentions (and a list) of things I wanted to get done before calling a full stop for the day. Exactly none of those things happened, as I sat down after dinner and promptly fell asleep. That was not part of Friday night’s grand plan. Of course instead of jumping on those items this morning, I’m trying to ease into Saturday while nursing an unearned headache. I don’t mind an early morning headache when I’ve done something like spend Friday night drinking cheep booze, but when I spent it mostly sleeping and sending periodic texts, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to earn the morning unpleasantness.
Now sure, I could sit here with the lights off and continue pouring coffee down my throat, but I still have good intentions towards the grand plan of getting through the things that need to be done this weekend. Now unfortunately I have a day and a half worth of “stuff” jammed into Saturday… and at the moment, instead of doing any of them, I’m sitting here taping on the keyboard and waiting on a fresh pot of coffee to finish dripping. I have a feeling that good intentions may not be enough to get me over the hump today… so this post basically services as documentation that despite my best efforts even I succumb to my inner slacker, but at least I have the decency to feel bad about it.
1. Detroit. Apparently now indoor plumbing is a human right. At least according to the United Nations, who it seems wants the city of Detroit to provide water to everyone without regard to who has paid for the service and who hasn’t. And that’s where I have the problem, because you see, eventually someone will have to pay. The building and maintaining the infrastructure used to purify and delivery water certainly costs money. At some point, someone has to pay in order to keep the system running – typically that means those receiving the service (city water) pay for what they receive and when they stop paying they stop receiving. It feels like a pretty straightforward pay-as-you-go arrangement. But if the customer base stops paying, who picks up the tab? Whose responsibility is it to pay for something you use? The city? The state? The people who actually pay taxes and their utility bills. Surely we could just charge them a little bit more, no? We have a real problem in this country when huge swaths of society feel entitled to the fruits of labor that isn’t theirs. Detroit’s water woes are just the latest example of nice people being well intentioned, but inherently stupid.
2. Work versus email. The number of messages you send is a really shitty way to measure how much “work” you get done. A) It doesn’t take into account the length, complexity, or content of said emails. B) Being “busy” passing out electronic missives doesn’t mean you’re adding anything of value to whatever you’re engaged in. C) Chances are whoever receives your email is going to misinterpret at least part of it. Sending a lot of email is not a substitute for doing the work. More often than not it’s a sure sign that you’re spending too much time electronically “talking” and not enough time actually thinking.
3. Gaza. Despite what social media apparently want you to believe, the Palestinians and Israelis are not morally equivalent. For as long as there as been an Israel – actually since before then in British Mandate Palestine – they’ve been engaged in a fight for their national survival against a numerically superior foe whose stated ambition is to drive them into the sea. My take on the current Gaza situation is basically the same as if Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia decided Delaware was the odd man out and started hurling missiles into Wilmington. Expecting Delaware in this case to not use every resource at its disposal to make that stop happening would be ridiculous. It’s not the cool or popular stance these days, but I’m saying it out loud and in print: I stand with Israel. Our only real ally in the Middle East and the region’s only functioning democracy deserves at least that much.
Today was another one of those days. You know, the kind you spend dashing from Very Important Thing to Very Important Thing without ever slowing down to do any kind of analysis about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Those days are becoming more and more common lately. My read of the future is that they’ll probably become the norm rather than the exception and that it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
I’m not saying I want to be one of those occasional government employees I ran across in DC who unfolded the Post when they got in and proceeded to spend the day reading it from cover to cover, but it would be nice to be able to do more than race from one meeting to the next until they all start bleeding together into one great endless timesuck. I’m a little envious of the people who seem to be able to sit through meetings and digest all the information on the fly, compiling it into some intra-cranial database with perfect recall of how it fits in with all the other information from all the other meetings they’ve sat in. My brain, of course, doesn’t work like that. I process information best when I have time to think on it, write things out, and then aggregate it into a comprehensive whole. That’s why given the choice I’d be better served sticking with PowerPoints and information papers and distilling big ideas down into their essential elements. Needing to do it on the wing quite literally makes my head hurt.
Based on the way the last couple of weeks have gone, I’m projecting the need to lay on a bulk supply of aspirin. As “those days” become the new normal, I’m going to need them. There are a number of management philosophies that apply here – some say do more with less, some say do less with less, the one that seems to be in play at the moment is “do more and quit your bitching.”
Rest assured as long as I have a blog and an internet connection they may be able to make me do more, but I will never, ever quit my bitching.
Two weeks ago while I was sitting on the beach, somewhere between my credit union and Visa the auto pay that pulls my credit card payment every month got switched to the off position. This is a fact of which I was unaware until I got this month’s statement and the bill was about 2.5x what I was mentally prepared to see. After ten minutes of chasing down what happened and another 20 minutes on the line with the credit card company, I think we’ve gotten things sorted out, reversed the late charge, and paid the overdue balance.
I haven’t had something like that show up on an account since I was in broke ass college student shoveling cash out the door faster than it came in. Still, I want the record to show that I’m not blaming the credit union or the card company for this one. Sure, auto-pay is theoretically a convenience that shouldn’t just turn itself off, but my name is the one on the bill and that makes me responsible for seeing that it gets paid on time. I didn’t do that last month and wouldn’t have argued too strongly of they insisted on letting me take my lumps.
Fortunately, they were readily willing to work with me and cut me a break. I appreciate that. I guess having an account in good standing for the better part of 20 years is good for something after all.
It occurred to me this morning that there’s probably a deep psychological reason I’m so adamantly opposed to wearing a tie. Sure, I could give you the usual song and dance about them being constrictive and uncomfortable or about them serving absolutely no purpose in the modern world, but deep down I don’t think that’s the reason at all… even though those are all perfectly valid issues with the standard necktie.
The real problem with these damned decorative bits of fabric is that I never wear them on good days. I pull one off the rack for funerals, court appearance, work, and weddings – for good or ill, those aren’t what I consider the red letter days of my life. Those days are largely depressing and/or expensive hassles in which I’d probably rather not participate. In my near 40-year life, ties always come out for the pain-in-the-ass times.
The good times are marked with jeans, tee shirts, shorts, and muddy boots. They’re ratty clothes covered in dog hair and smelling of wood smoke or of diesel fumes and salt spray after a long day on the water. Never once on one of these good days did I sit back quietly and think to myself, “Wow, this day would have been so much better if I had on a tie!” On the other hand, nearly every time I’ve ever put on a tie, I know the day would have been better if I was somewhere else, wearing something different.
So there it is in a nutshell, my basic belief that ties aren’t just a pointless throwback noose we’re supposed to willingly put our necks into every morning. In fact, they’re basically nothing more than a visual cue that you’re about to experience a wasted day.
Thanks for stopping by tonight. This has been one of those occasional posts I make to give you a little insight into what’s churning around in my head while I’m standing quietly off to the side of the room observing the world around me.