What kind of year it has been, at least around here, can often be measured by a discussion of books. As this year ends, there are 1533 book making up my personal library. I added 113 of them to the shelves this year.
According to the statistics helpfully compiled by Librarything and Goodreads, I’ve read 66 books and 26,080 pages in 2022. That’s a pretty significant drop from last year when I read 79 books and 32,585 pages. The only significant difference year over year comes down to spending the last three months needing to schlep much more often into the office. The commute has stolen six hours a week that was otherwise free and open reading time. It’s obviously thrown me off the pace set in 2020 and ’21. One more reason to be bitter about that whole situation, I suppose.
In any case, the library continues to grow, even if at a slower, slightly more “reasonable” pace. If the internet is to be believed, if I stacked the whole bunch of them atop one another, I’d have a tower of books ever so slightly taller than the Taj Mahal and growing towards striking distance of the Notre Dame cathedral.
Depending on the source, I’ve read that the average U.S. household has anywhere between 30 and 114 books and also that the average individual purchases about 12 books a year. I speculate that average is all sorts of off the mark, being completed skewed by me and like-minded bibliophiles who have a mild affliction for stacking them deep – in my case, reaching the weight of 180 fully grown badgers and needing almost 16 Billy bookcases. That estimate, by the way, is frighteningly accurate at least in terms of bookcases… I don’t have a good point of reference for comparing the badgers, though.
I started off thinking one room here could be a library. The reality is that it’s more like a living thing – growing, evolving, and spreading out through the house. I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
Is it even the end of the year if we don’t take a minute to review some of the stats from 2022?
In a nutshell, we’ve had 251 posts weighing in at approximately 90,000 words, seen by 1,500 followers. It’s a nice round number and I’m not even going to ponder how many of those are bots.
Total views were down this year to 14,140. That’s a drop off of 2,333 views from last year. 2021 was the high-water mark for views since I started at WordPress, so this year ends a 3-year trend of steady growth. By the time views for this post and tomorrow’s yearly book review are published, I’ll be slightly ahead of where the numbers stood in 2020. I won’t be gnashing my teeth about any of that.
I don’t spend a lot of time looking at stats since they’ve never really drive what I do around here. That said, since I created this blog, it looks like there have been 117,885 views from 50, 507 visitors. In that time, those visitors have peeped at 3,804 unique posts. It feels like reasonable numbers for a nobody blogger mostly using it as a tool to scream into the void and hang on to his own sanity.
So, that’s where we’ve been. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll all come back a year from now and see if 2023 treats us better or worse. As always, I plan to walk into the new year with absolutely no expectations either way.
It’s been an easy, work free week filled with book hunting… but there’s one thing worth mentioning. It’s the annoyance that keeps on giving and gets more and more inexplicable the longer it continues. Incompetence? Indifference? Inability? Yeah. The world may never know. So here’s the one thing in this week’s list:
AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 13 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 13 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.
For 42 uninterrupted years, I woke up on Christmas morning on the western fringes of Allegany County. The arrival of the Great Plague in 2020 changed that. As it stands now, I’ll have only been home for Christmas one out of the last three years.
It’s a combination of factors this year. There’s been non-Covid respiratory sickness for the last two weeks at the old homeplace. Maybe it’s reached the stage of not being contagious, but then maybe it hasn’t. I came back from Christmas last year carrying a bug that unloaded on me on about December 28th… and see no good reason to ask for a repeat performance. Better, I think, to just push the visit out into January or February once everyone involved is healthy.
The second precipitating factor is the appalling weather. At 9:00 this morning, the temperature here was 46 degrees. By 10:00 it had started plummeting towards it’s anticipated low of 9 degrees. It’s not forecast to creep back above freezing for the next four days. Being away from the house for days on end while nature threw some of her worst possible conditions at us, felt like tempting fate unnecessarily. Add in problematic travel conditions enroute and staying put feels like even more of a no brainer.
Finally, and perhaps the most compelling factor, is that a certain feline member of the household came back from the vet earlier this week being diagnosed with a double ear infection. We’re treating it with drops twice a day. He’s just barely tolerating my administration of the drops. I know his normal sitter would have given it the old college try, be she only comes in once a day and there’s no guarantee he’d have been cooperative. Sitting tight ensures he’s getting the full course of meds as scheduled. Even surrounded by the comforts of my childhood home, I’d have inevitably spent the entire visit fretting that I should be doing something more for him.
It’s a disappointment, of course, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not catastrophic. I’ve got a ham to bake and made a trip out yesterday to pick up a few missing ingredients to whip up the appropriate side dishes for a proper Christmas dinner. It’s decidedly “less than” the normal traditions of Christmas, but it still won’t suck.
1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 12 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 12 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.
2. Cold. Yes, I know it’s winter. There may have been a time when I literally walked uphill in the snow to go to school (thanks FSU), but the intervening decades have left me out of practice and utterly stripped of whatever native ability to embrace this kind of weather that I developed in my youth. I’m not saying I want it to be perennially 75 and sunny like in southern California, but don’t expect me to appreciates lows in the single digits and wind chills plummeting well below that. Winter is absolutely the dumbest season.
3. Perception. Being that it’s now Thursday, I’ve been off for almost a week now. It feels like approximately 37 minutes have elapsed. I’ve done a bit of book hunting, punched holes in big sheets of paper, and tended to a few other odds and ends that needed doing… and the days are just screaming by in a blur. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s a good problem to have, but I wish a week off felt even half as long as the standard week at work.
Just a bit more than an hour ago, we marked what, for me, is the best of the winter holidays. Yes, this time of year, Christmas gets top billing. That said, the Winter solstice has long been the mark on the wall that my eyes turn to as the sunlight dwindles and the cold seeps into my bones.
Long before Christianity, the darkest days of the year were marked by the solstice – the sure sign that even in the depths of Winter, warmth, growth would return as the days now grow ever so slightly longer. Whether that was celebrated as the solstice, as Saturnalia, as Yule, or feasting for Sol Invictus, Western Civilization has scattered a great many major celebrations here around the point of the year when we face the shortest days and the harshest weather.
I’m hardly a religious scholar, but it doesn’t feel particularly coincidental. While my devoted Christian friends will wait a few days more for their big day, I’ll burn my candle tonight and wish you all a very happy solstice.
I’m not fool enough to think Winter is over, but it’s at least the end of the beginning. Now if I can avoid freezing to death when the temperatures drop into the single digits over the next couple of days, we’ll be all set. At least, unlike our heathen forbearers, I don’t have to worry about my larder running short before the harvest comes in. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
My venerable old iPad Air was released and most likely purchased in November of 2013. For the last year or two I’ve been limping along with its pretty rotten battery and a few quirky, but mostly ignorable behavioral issues.
Apple stopped supporting this first generation Air back in 2019 and still it trundled along doing most of what I wanted from it. Without iOS updates and the associated app updates, I knew its days were numbered. That it kept going for three years with no upgrades or support is probably a testament to Apple having developed a pretty bulletproof bit of kit way back then.
Over the last couple of days, though, I’ve noticed a fair number of my go to apps have stopped working – or have started demanding that I upgrade to versions of iOS that my device doesn’t support. Every few days it looks like a new app becomes unusable. Even though the iPad itself keeps defying expectations by plugging along, it’s a vicious downwards spiral into the end of its service life.
For the first time in nine years, I’m back in the market for a tablet. I should probably do some kind of market survey to figure out how the landscape there has changed in the last decade, but it feels more likely that I’ll just walk into the local Apple store and point at the shiny new version of what I already have. That original Air has been an absolute workhorse. Hopefully the next one will last me as long.
Now the only real question is will I brave the mall during the week before Christmas or suffer through it sometime the week after the holiday. It’s a classic no-win situation, even if it is for a good cause.
1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 11 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 11 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.
2. Feigned concern. Suddenly, with cryptocurrency crashed off its highs, and big players in that universe collapsing, and taking hundreds of millions of dollars in customer “investments” with them, there’s a hue and cry that something must be done. You didn’t hear much of that when early adopters were making millions off of every dollar invested. But that’s not the point, is it? Crypto, not backed by a national economy or the full faith and credit of a government, not pegged against any number of global currencies, or even backed up by a giant vault of gold, is like walking in your local casino and putting your bet down on red. Pretending surprise and alarm that the ball dropped on black, people are now outraged. Look, I still hold Bitcoin. At its high that holding represented about 1/500th of my net worth. Now it represents somewhere less than 1/1000th. If it went to the moon, great. I’d take my winnings and go home. If it collapsed, also great. It’s a tax loss that offsets a bit of earned income. If you took a 3rd mortgage on the house and pawned everything you owned because crypto couldn’t lose, well, yeah, you’re an idiot. I know there’s a subset of popular opinion out there that believes everyone must be constantly coddled and protected against their own stupidity, but damn, sometimes stupid should be painful and people should be allowed to take their lumps.
3. Singing. You know what doesn’t happen when I’m working from home that does when I’m in the office? Well, it’s a lot of things, but the one that’s currently topping the chart is the fact that while I’m home there’s no one sitting 15 feet away with their headphones on singing at full volume like they’re the only motherfucker in the motherfucking world. I was raised to believe in valuing civil behavior, but every now and then expecting a guy not to take his red stapler and beat someone unconscious is asking a hell of a lot.
I know everyone leads hard on October as the spooky season, but I’m going to need to give at least partial credit to mid-December as well. Oh, sure, it’s not spooky in the conventional sense, but the middle to end of December is the one time of year my personal email clears out. As of last night, there’s not one single receipt, shipping confirmation, or any information at all about items purchased, in transit, or being returned. If you happened to be familiar with my online buying habits, you’d know just how unusual that is.
It’s the time of year when my online orders dry up. It’s less because of not needing anything than due to the logistics of this time of year. Delayed orders, out of stocks, items lost in transit, abnormally long shipping times, and then the ever-present weirdness of having UPS, FedEx, or Amazon drivers stumbling around the yard in the dark well after I’ve gone to bed on those occasions when a package happens to get through.
Unless it’s something urgent, my proclivity for online buying is momentarily paused. Whatever I need for the time being should be easy enough to lay my hands on locally. Even so, it’s a sure bet that my Amazon cart will be full to the electronic brim by the time I get around to getting back to normal operations sometime around the first of the year. For now, I’m willing to wait out the worst of the Christmas rush. I’m sure it’s just a weird personality quirk, but I’d rather hold off on ordering completely than spend any bit of the next week or two raging about shipping and logistics.
So yeah, whatever else it may be, the back half of December feels like its own unique flavor of spooky season.
Most parts of life, in my estimation, are about finding the proper amount of motivation. Whatever goofy shit you can’t find a way to avoid doing, requires at least some motivation to get through. For instance, I rarely actually want to do laundry… but I like having clean socks and underwear. See, that’s the motivation.
As I sit here, with a mere 24 working hours between me and a 17-day weekend, let’s just say that motivation is more than a little hard to come by. Systems not working right? Fuck it. “Urgent” email asking things that have been answered three times already? Don’t care. Computer refusing to download a critical system patch that will result in the machine becoming unusable after Friday? Yup. That sounds like a January problem.
Look, I like getting paid on a regular basis. That’ll be all the motivation I need to muddle through the next three days… but it’ll be just that – a good old-fashioned pre-holiday muddle. Don’t waste your time looking for over and above. Disabuse yourself of the idea of it being a zero-defect environment. It’s the time of year when everyone’s just going to need to be satisfied that there’s a warm body here at all. Anything past that truly is a year-end bonus… or perhaps a Christmas miracle.