1. I’m not making things up. If I tell you there’s a new requirement, it’s not because I went home the night before and dreamed up some new and complicated way to screw with your universe. In each and every case I’m passing along decisions made by those at echelons higher than reality. You are, of course, perfectly free to ignore me. However, when a shitstorm rains down on your head it won’t be because I didn’t warn you.
2. Dreaming in PowerPoint. There comes a point in this one particular project I work on every year when the dream shows up. It’s never quite the same dream, but it always deals with PowerPoint in some way. The dream showed up Tuesday night. Like the three ghosts warning Scrooge of his sure path to hellfire and damnation, my PowerPoint dream has arrived and it’s a sure as anything warning that I’m heading at speed in the general direction of a breakdown – or at least a profound hissy fit. Possibly both.
3. Everything else. Frankly over the next 22 or so days it would probably just be easier to talk about whatever happened during the week that hasn’t annoyed me. There’s a far better than usual chance if I’m awake and not at the house I’m just barely restrain a scowl, eye-roll, or sarcastic comment. Occasionally the temptation will be so great that all three happen simultaneously. The only appreciable bright point is that on day 23 onward life should get considerably less rage inducing.
I’ve largely taken a pass on the latest trend towards nostalgia television – Unless you include that one time I skipped senior year Russian history class to watch Walter Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair during John Glenn’s return to space on the shuttle Discovery, I just haven’t found it all that compelling.
Last night I did tune in to see what the Conner’s had been up to after twenty years off the air. I approached it with some trepidation, because even at the hight of the original run’s popularity, I hadn’t been a diehard fan of the show. In the end, though, this reboot won me over. The set piece comedy against the backdrop of a kitchen and living room that are as familiar to me as the ones I grew up in offered a trip down memory lane that I’m happy to take.
Maybe I haven’t entirely missed the boat on this trend towards nostalgia… Now if we could just convince someone to pick up a new season of Buffy, I’d climb fully on this bandwagon.
It’s been three years since I made my mark on the sales contract taking ownership of Fortress Jeff. The first two years in residence has largely been about taking away – taking away overgrown shrubbery, cutting down encroaching trees, eliminating the basement waterfall, and dismantling the massively over engineered wheelchair ramp in the garage. It was and continues to be a litany of projects left behind by the previous owner who had really “aged out” of an active interest in home maintenance and improvement.
I like to think now that I’m starting the 3rd year, I’m finally reaching the point of adding too the place rather than just taking away. We’ve already tackled the living room, water heater, and furnace. The air conditioning will be next most likely based on age. Most prominently, there’s the long awaited and sought after master bathroom renovation that I’ve wanted from Day 1. Then new carpet for the bedrooms. Kitchen appliances, countertops, washer and dryer all make the list too. By the time that list runs out, the 30-year shingles will probably be reaching the end of their service life.
The think that no one ever tells you about home ownership is that there’s always something lurking in the background waiting to suck giant wads of cash out of your wallet. Still, if you’re doing it right, the place is a home in addition to being “just a roof over your head.” Hard earned experience tells me that’s one of those intangibles that can’t necessarily be measured directly in dollars and cents.
They say robots and artificial intelligence are coming to take all the jobs. Apparently this time it’s not just manufacturing that’s going to feel the pinch of automation, but professional services will be absorbed into the collective too.
On days when I’ve sent 87 emails and received about twice as many, all I can really wonder is what the hell out robot overlords are waiting for? Why on earth would I resist or even object to an AI system taking over the heavy lifting so I can focus in on the 5-10% of those emails that should have really gotten some academic rigor rather than just the stock answer.
As far as robots taking over the place, personally I welcome it. Let them do the drudgery and free up some good old fashioned human brainpower to deal with the stuff that actually matters.
Then again, at the end of a day like this one I’d also probably be equally welcoming of Skynet come to eradicate the species, so my judgement could be somewhat compromised at the moment.
When I was about eleven years old, I remember distinctly watching coverage on the then fledgling Cable News Network of protestors in their thousands pouring into the streets of Eastern Block countries to demand liberty and the rights of citizens from their Communist masters. Moscow itself trembled under the weight of these demands for freedom.
This afternoon on the same news channel, I watched as thousands of American citizens took to the streets to demand their government strip away centuries old, foundational rights of their republic. As they say, those who don’t know history…
Honest to God, the longer I live the less I recognize my own country.
1. Late breaking winter. I had a passing thought that I might get through this winter unscathed in the landscaping department. It would have been the first winter since buying the place that was the case. Clearly that’s the kind of thing that’s a homeowner pipe dream. In the bright light of afternoon – and now that a lot of yesterday’s snow has melted off, I can see at least three boxwoods that appear to be broken at the stem, several other shrubs that may have been bent and twisted beyond recovery, and a reasonably good sized maple limb that landed squarely on top of a forsythia that was just starting to take off. Some people love nature for what it is. Me? Aside from the adorableness of the fuzzy animals, I find nature to be something to be pushed back against at every opportunity. Seems like I’ll have reason to break out the chainsaw after all.
2. Six hour days. I use to enjoy two hour delays. That’s until I ran into a short day that felt like it lasted at least 2,476 hours instead of just the six that the “clock” says passed.
3. Congress (again). These asshats literally only have a handful of things specifically named in the Constitution as part and parcel of their responsibilities as elected representatives. The fact that they fail so spectacularly to get those few things done even when one party controls all the levers of government speaks to both their uselessness and our stupidity for continuing to elect 90% plus of the same 535 people time after time after time. Truly democracy has given us the kind of governance we so richly deserve.
I’ve often enough mentioned how much I generally enjoy the one day a week I get to work from home. What I don’t usually mention is that there is a dark underside to this arrangement.
That underside comes in the form of a little noticed provision of the agreement that specifies that during unschedule office closures due to things like bad weather, terrorist attack, or super volcano eruption, I’m required to either work from home or burn off a day of vacation time. Giving up your snow days is the devil’s bargain you strike for the privilege of having a regularly scheduled day where you get to skip out on sitting in a cubicle.
It doesn’t happen often, but on the days when it does, it feels like a particularly onerous paragraph buried in the fine print. The only redeeming quality it may have is that most of the people I’m required to respond to on a day to day basis don’t have such an agreement – and are therefore sitting home quietly and not bothering me with new requirements… so while this is technically a work day and I did manage to get a few things done, it was surprisingly stress free.
Now if you don’t mind I need to go check and see if telework has been authorized for tomorrow yet.
My first professional job after college was as a history teacher at Great Mills High School. I spent two and a half years walking those halls. A decade and a half has passed since I last set foot in the building, though I have kept in touch with a few of my former colleagues and more than a few of the students who I know count as friends.
It’s a hard day for Great Mills and those students, teachers, and staff past and present. It’s a hard day for the community. It’s a hard day.
Even in the midst of a hard day, though, the story of Deputy Blaine Gaskill, the school’s resource officer, has come to the fore. His is the story of heroism that came unbidden and unwanted. You see, he was the man charged with standing between his community and danger. When faced with uncertainty and chaos, Deputy Gaskill ran towards the sound of the gun. He ran towards the danger, engaged it, and ended it.
Blaine Gaskill is a hero. His actions reflect great credit upon him, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department, and the good people of St. Mary’s County.
It’s the kind of debt that can never be repaid. I don’t know if the teachers and staff at Great Mills still gather at the Brass Rail or maybe the Green Door from time to time, but if they do, there’s a man who should never buy his own beer again. That might at least be the very beginning of a start on a downpayment.
The best part of the one day a week I spend working from home: The usual distractions found in every office don’t exist. It’s a rare chance to concentrate and actually do the work versus dealing with the administrative minutia of the office.
The worst part of the one day a week I spend working from home: The usual distractions found in every office don’t exist. Some days that means the requirements stream in relentlessly and being at home means you don’t have the myriad of office interruptions to force you into taking a breath or distracting you from it for a minute.
Don’t get me wrong, here – I love my day spent working from home. It’s easily 2-3 times as productive as any other day of the week. Occasionally through, that level of productivity comes at the expense of going utterly crosseyed based on the volume of electronic paper that needs pushing. Sure, that volume of paper would have still needed pushed regardless of my geography, but it just seems more onerous on days when it happens when I’m at the house.
All things considered, I should probably be glad it happened today. If the tide of emails had come in tomorrow it would have taken three days to get through them all with something like reasonably coherent responses.
Surely there’s something wrong with life when this is what passes for a “good” version of Monday.
1. Staff requirements. I’ve always been slightly put off by the idea of needing “personal staff” to run a household. After a few more weeks like this one, I’m going to need to seriously reconsider the need to hire out both the cooking specialty and the cleaning specialty to qualified subject matter experts. We’re very quickly reaching the point where I not only want to stay home during every available moment of down time, but where I don’t want to spend that down time doing anything that requires actual thought. The next 40 or so days promise to be an epic battle between my internal demand for order and expending every drop of mental energy focused on other things.
2. Lunch. I miss regularly eating lunch. I did manage to stuff food into my face during the middle part of two out of four work days this week… so if lunch were a professional sport I’d be averaging .500 and headed for the Hall of Fame. Still, it seems I’m going to have to come up with better options for physically breaking away for 30 minutes because even the wild hope of managing to snag a meal at my desk has proven to me a pipe dream.
3. The elephant in the room. I suspect I’ll never not be perplexed when a room full of adults sits around asking questions to which everyone knows the answer, but in which not one of them wants to be the one to say it out loud. I mean are we all pretending that we don’t know the answer? The reason some things are the way they are is because someone made the decision. It might not sound like a good enough reason when you say it out loud, but that doesn’t make it any less the reason something is the way it is. It would be convenient if we collectively had the internal fortitude to say it out loud, but that’s the kind of brave decision that needs to take place at pay grades well above mine so I’ll just sit quietly and wait for someone to call for the next slide.