I just renewed my domain mapping agreement with WordPress… which really only means that your bookmark to http://www.jeffreytharp.com will continue to work for the next year and you’ll be able to avoid tracking me down using the half-mile long default address assigned by WordPress when you start a free blog. Nothing online is really permanent, but through next February I’ll continue to be the master of my domain.
Monthly Archives: January 2015
What Annoys Jeff this Week?
1. Negotiating with terrorists. I want to go on the record right now, while I’m thinking clearly and not under physical or emotional stress. Let the record show that if I ever find myself being held hostage by a bunch of terrorist thugs, I don’t want my country or my family negotiating for my release. I don’t want them to pay anyone off and I don’t want to be part of any kind of halfassed prisoner exchange. I don’t want anyone to give the lowlife cave dwellers the satisfaction of a “victory” on my account. With that said, however, what I would like is as many truly badass operators as possible to come get me out. If rescue is impossible, feel free to carpet bomb the entire town, city, or province. If I’m just going to end up dead anyway, lets make it count for something.
2. Lunch. I like lunch. I like lunch to happen some time approximating the midpoint between my arrival and departure times on weekdays. What I don’t like, however, is being over scheduled to the point where lunch doesn’t have a chance to happen until 90 minutes before the end of the day. Sure, I’m damned well sure still going to get my 30 minutes, but it would be nice if lunch and dinner were separated by a little more than the drive home.
3. Vaccinations. I’m the last person on earth who wants Uncle getting in our collective businesses, but can’t we all at least get behind the idea measles is bad. It’s a disease we all but eradicated in this country a generation ago but because a loud and obnoxious subset of people have decided that science is a bunch of elitist bunk, its making a comeback. Good job, guys. Your ignorant asshattery is going cause illnesses and deaths that are nearly 100% preventable. For your next act maybe you could help us bring back smallpox, polio, or the plague. I understand those were a laugh a minute back in the olden days. Let’s just go ahead and forget the upward surge of medical science over the last century and go back to the days of living in fear of every sneeze and infection.
So I sat down after dinner and started dinking away at the computer and somehow the last three hours just kind of evaporated on me. It’s possible that the internet is the devil. Regardless, it’s safe to say that you won’t be seeing any kind of actual commentary or discussion here tonight as I’ve got a chocolate lab nudging me every 23 seconds wondering why we haven’t gone upstairs yet. Sometimes I think the dogs have far more sense than I do about such things.
With my pants on…
Financial Advisor: You had a good tax shelter in the house you sold. You’ll be fine for 2014, but this year you need to buy a house and get married or the tax man is going to fuck you with your pants on in 2015.
Jeff: Well, at least one of those two things might happen… but could I just buy two houses instead?
The timeline I worked out in my head didn’t have me buying a house in 2015, but given the choice between that and the IRS getting to take me out for a ride, I think I’d better start getting things in order and see if I can rejigger the plan a bit. Buying a house is its own special brand of pain and agony, but re-inflating my debt bubble a few months ahead of schedule sounds infinitely less painful in the long run than taking a short trip down the aisle.
I wasn’t mentally prepared for today. To be more precise I was only mentally prepared to be around for part of the day. The other part, the part starting around noon and moving on towards the end of the day, I was counting on that being a little less cubicle and a little more sitting at home wearing fuzzy slippers and hanging out with the dogs.
I might not work with my hands rending a living from the bowels of the earth, but one thing I can tell you with certitude is I leave the office most days mentally worn out. It’s a different kind of tired, but it’s as real and deep down to the bone as any kind of physical tired I’ve ever been.
The level of tired notwithstanding, I need to do a better job of mentally preparing for Mondays… and I need to stop waking up early to clean off the truck and allow extra time to drive to work just because some jackass with a fancy meteorological degree has determined by casting bones and reading entrails that there could be snow the next morning. Two times out of three it’s painfully obvious they have no idea and I just end up missing out on a goodly fraction of the little sleep I allow myself to get on the average weekday.
I’m about to have the first time this year to engage in my favorite winter pastime – watching the Team Aberdeen Proving Ground Facebook page explode with commentary about the weather, when decisions should be made, whether it was a good call, whether it happened early enough, whether it should have been a 2 hour delay, a 4 hour early closure, and possibly questioning the paternity of those making the decisions in the pre-dawn hours of every day that snow is “likely.” Whatever decisions are made over the next few days, you can rest well assured that social media will decry it as exactly the wrong thing to do.
Despite its off the beaten path location in the wilds of north eastern Maryland, APG and its environs are densely populated with advanced degree holders, senior staff, and the occasional person who has stood toe to toe with Taliban fighters. At the first sight of a flake, all that education and experience goes out the window and everyone devolves into a hopeless mass of name calling indecisiveness. The only thing they can seem to agree on is the goodness of posting poorly thought out comments that everyone on the planet can read and hold them accountable for making.
I don’t want to discourage anyone from voicing their opinion tomorrow because God knows I enjoy reading them. On these snowy days, it really is the most entertaining thing on Facebook. With that being said, I’m not sure when we all got the impression that it was up to someone else to make decisions about our personal health and safety. If for one moment I think my safety is imperiled by being on the road, I’ll make the decision to stay home and sit on the couch with my fuzzy slippers while the world goes on about its business. My life. My decision. That’s one of the perks of being a grown adult in this society. I do wish more people might consider showing the least sliver of personal accountability, but as usual that’s likely too big an ask.
What Annoys Jeff this Week?
1. I keep a running list of the absurdities of life that I think might be worthy of including in the week’s edition of WAJTW. Because this week happened to include a federal holiday, I’ve spent the whole week vaguely confused about what day of the week it happens to be. As a result, I reached to that list and accidentally used one of the annoyances as an actual fully fledged blog post. That doesn’t seem like it would be much of an annoyance aside from the fact that most things have broken my way this week and there wasn’t much of a list to begin with… which is exactly why the first annoyance for this week is strictly a process piece.
2. Sports metaphors. I’ve seen enough sports in my life to understand most of the metaphors, but I’ve never quite understood our desire to try to take the lessons of the field and apply them to every other aspect of life. Since I don’t generally follow sports in any meaningful way maybe the stories just don’t resonate for me in the way they seem to for other people. I’m just a guy with a hard time applying the relevant lesson of the scrappy underdog team to the issues I’m fighting with on the daily. I realize I’m probably the outlier here, so don’t mind me. If it looks like I’m stifling a yawn, that’s because I am.
3. Prius Drivers. On Tuesday morning I sat in the truck and watched a Prius driver open his door, lean halfway out of the car, and back into a parking space. The next nearest vehicle was mine and Big Red was at least two dozen spots away and in a completely different row. Look, I know I don’t have an unblemished record here, but backing up in an effectively empty parking lot and landing between the white lines just feels like something you should be able to do without needing to nearly exit the vehicle… Especially when your car takes up about as much square footage as my kitchen table. The poor schmuck didn’t even have a pair of passing yoga pants to use as an effective excuse.
Temporary no more…
The paperwork needs to catch up and I’m probably making myself a tempting target for Fate by even breathing it aloud, but the word is that I’m in the process of completing the world’s shortest temporary promotion. In fact, it’s been so short that it isn’t even effective yet and won’t be until this coming Sunday. About a month later the powers that be have decided they’ll convert the temporary assignment to a permanent promotion. Still non-supervisory. Still in the same office I’m in now. Basically we’re formalizing the fact that I’ve been doing the job for the last few months without benefit of pay or grade. I can’t deny that it’s nice that they’ve noticed I was punching well above my weight class for a while now. Through a fortuitous convergence of other personnel departures, the fact that I competed for the temporary position, and a few other bits of administrative minutia, it seems that all things are possible.
As is my custom, I’ll be nervous and jerky every day between now and then from knowing nothing is real until the paperwork says it’s real. I’ve been burned one too many times on that front to be fooled again. Still, fingers are well crossed in hopes that the human resource professionals don’t fine a way to foul the lines between now and the end of February.
If anyone needs me I’ll be in my corner trying not to say, do, or think anything that might somehow inadvertently change the course we’re currently following.
I saw a Facebook post this morning that mentioned a “lethal mix of heroin” making it’s way around some part of the country. Now I’m a simple guy and try not to use 20 words when ten would do, so it strikes me that saying lethal mix of heroin economizes words about as much as saying toxic nuclear waste. Regardless of how you phrase it, what you’re trying to say is “if you ingest this shit, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up dead.” Easy peasy, no?
The second thing that occurred to me, is basically so what? I’m not sure why I care that some locality is inundated with this “lethal mix of heroin.” I’ve always sort of figured that if you’re loading something into your bloodstream that you bought in an alley, you’re reasonably well aware of the potential risks you’re facing. Knowing the average heroin user has a higher propensity to drop dead versus the average Joe Sixpack goes with the territory. You make your decisions and you take your risks. If every now and then a bad batch makes its way through to distribution, that’s in the nature of the business.
Addiction is a hell of a thing and while I feel bad for those who are impacted by it, that sympathy doesn’t extend far enough to make a distinction between a good dose and a bad one. Personally, I’d rather see the police rolling up the distribution channels than running “no questions asked” turn ins in an effort to get the Really Really Bad version off the street in favor of the Really Bad variety. It feels a little disingenuous to try making that type of distinction.
The president will deliver the State of the Union address tomorrow night. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, we mostly know the broad strokes of what’s going to be in it – I’m sure it’s not nearly as suspenseful as waiting for a president to send his hand written evaluation up the Hill once a year, but asking the cable news channels to adhere to an endearing 18th century standard of practice is surely too much to ask.
That means tomorrow evening I have two choices. First, I could watch the speech live and make myself crazy ranting and raving at the television in real time and ensure I’m too aggravated to get anything close to a good night’s sleep. Option two involves ignoring the live broadcast and catching the meat of it in dribs and drabs over the next few days, which would lengthen the duration of annoyance but likely reduce the intensity of my expected opposition to nearly everything I expect to hear.
In any case, it’s a safe bet that my blood pressure will be off the rails for the next couple of days. Under the current circumstances it seems the best I can hope for is avoiding a heart attack, ulcer, or throwing the remote through the screen. That doesn’t say much for my evaluation of the current state of our Union.