It’s not exactly a new thing I learned…

This space is usually reserved for a retelling of something ridiculous I learned this week. I wouldn’t have much trouble filling the space. Though maybe a second edition of What Annoys Jeff this Week would be more appropriate.

Instead of that, though, I’ll just say I put my 59 minute early departure from work to good use. I stopped on the way home for groceries, got home and turned out the dogs, got them fed, loaded out the bird feeders, and then bolted the house on the couple of errands I almost always relegate to Saturday mornings.

I say that to say this… I’m kicking off a three day weekend and I wouldn’t have to leave the house until Tuesday if I didn’t want to. If you don’t think it’s a real possibility, do you even know me?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Missing the obvious. I dropped my glasses on the sidewalk sometime back in about September. They weren’t damaged beyond repair, but there is a small gouge in one of the lenses directly in my eye-line. It’s obnoxious, but as long as the lenses are super clean it was something I could deal with until I was due for a new pair. A couple days ago, while they were particularly grimy, I mentioned how annoying it was to my mother. She, being ever practical, just sighed and said “You know they’re probably under warranty.” Yeah. I hadn’t even considered that. My new lenses will be here in 7-10 business days.

2. Sign stealing. I don’t know baseball. I admit it. But color me perplexed at the current “scandal.” I have no idea why you’d assume, in a venue in full view of 50,000 people, that someone wasn’t going to figure out what you were doing with your hands and translate that to what was happening on the field. I have a hard time buying that’s a situation where you have any legitimate expectation of privacy at all. But like I said, I don’t know baseball.

3. Professional decorum. Professional decorum, as far as I can tell, exists only to make it socially unacceptable for people to tell unpleasant truths to those higher along the wire diagram. If it weren’t for professional decorum, for instances, it would be totally acceptable for someone to kick in every door in the building, shake his or her fist, and scream I TOLD YOU SO! while a shitstorm unfurls. Instead this person ends up saying some ridiculous bullshit like “That’s an interesting idea and we should consider it.” Utter bollox.

On my relationship with sleep…

Further wrecking any hope I’ll ever have of having a normal relationship with sleep, I’ve pushed my daily wake up call up to 4:30. The extra 30 minutes means time to actually fix a reasonable breakfast, give the dogs a bit of attention, and to sit down and take a breath before charging out the door. I didn’t fully appreciate just how harried my typical mornings were, nor how much I was trying to cram into 35 or 40 minutes… and doing it badly.

I like the new, reasonable relaxed morning procedures. I suppose if that means I’m eternally damned to wake up well before 5am, it’s a price I don’t really mind paying. It’s not as if the dogs mind keeping vaguely unusual hours.

Leaving the house in a relatively calm and well prepared manner, specifically on a day I know is going to be a shitshow from start to finish at least starts me on the best foot. Since there’s no hope of finishing that way, best to control what I can, when I can.

Not to reason why…

Even if you’re not steeped in the history of the Crimean War, it feels likely you’ve heard about the charge of the Light Brigade, or at least know of the phrase, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” Few lines of English poetry are, in my mind, more evocative.

The (very) short version is that the British light cavalry, owing to confused orders and the fog of battle, was sent charging down into the valley against well placed and defended Russian artillery positions instead of towards the far more suitable target intended. The Light Brigade, brave sons of England, faultlessly loyal to Queen and country, was savaged by the Russian guns.

Mercifully, I haven’t been put on orders to seize anyone’s guns. In the better part of two decades in service I’ve made my bones by delivering projects on time and to standard regardless of impediments or restrictions. I’ve worked projects I’ve hated with the white hot fury of a thousands suns and a few that I’d have almost paid to be a part of. My personal feelings never figured into the effort if there was a job that needed doing.

I’m not the kind of guy who gets frozen with self doubt. It’s not my nature. I want to get the job done smartly and move on, always. But here, now, we have the first time a job’s been put in front of me where I don’t see any good or reasonable path forward. Every avenue of approach bristles with pitfalls and obstacles… and the clock is running.

I’m in the deeply unfamiliar and unhappy position of legitimately not knowing if I can get there from here – in some large part simply because I don’t know what I don’t know. If you think what you don’t know can’t hurt you, well, you’re a damned fool.

Let’s just say that my usual sense that if I drop my shoulder and shove hard enough, I can move the world seems to have abandoned me at the moment. After seventeen years, it’s possible I’ve found the job that I just can’t deliver. If you think I’m not well and properly shook, you don’t know me at all.

Theirs is not to reason why, indeed.

Eyes on the prize…

We’ve been back to work for a week now. It’s situation normal, but unavoidable if your life goals include not living under a bridge or in a van down by the river. Add in not going to prison and you’ve basically covered my Tier 1 Life Goals. Anything beyond those few things is really just the gravy.

Still, if I sit here and try hard to channel my inner Mr. Brightside, there is a federal holiday coming up. That’s something. The glimmer of a promise of hope in the darkness. It really feels like I’ll spend the next decade and a half casting my eyes from holiday to holiday looking for the dim gleamings of days not tethered to the cubicle.

So eyes on the prize or whatever

What I learned this week…

I was pulled over this morning. The thing is, as soon as I saw the blues and reds coming up in the rear view, I basically knew what it was about. I’ve never entirely cured myself of the lead foot that’s afflicted me since dad first put me behind the wheel of a mid-1980s Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera when I was about twelve. I had a lot of horsepower and a wide open road and, well, one thing led to another.

My point is, I didn’t get pulled over because this particular trooper felt like being a jerk this morning. The guy was doing his job and just happened to be sitting somewhere where he got a good look at me being stupid.

Once we pulled off to the side of the road, I waited patiently, kept my hands visible on the steering wheel, didn’t fidget or reach around for things, and waited for him to come up alongside. I produced my registration, insurance, and driver’s license – while narrating what I was doing and where I was reaching; left rear pocket for wallet, glovebox for everything else.

Directly behind my driver’s license in my wallet is the license that the state of Maryland requires me to hold to purchase handguns. He obviously saw it. The trooper asked if I had any guns in the vehicle. No, sir. Hands back to a very visible place on the wheel. OK.

I sat quietly for about five minutes, waiting for someone, somewhere to report back that I have no current points, no history of violations, and I’m not sitting on a stack of warrants.

Once we confirmed all that, I was handed back my documentation, issued a warning, and told to be safely on my way.

Every word that passed between me and this particular trooper was civil and professional. I didn’t feel any compulsion to give the guy a hard time or make an already dangerous job more difficult. I didn’t want to make a point or try to capture the whole thing with my phone.

We were sitting there on the side of a two lane country road because I gave him a reason to put me there.

So what did I learn this week? Nothing new, just a good solid reminder that if you act like you’ve got half a brain in your damned head, accept that you too can be in the wrong, and don’t antagonize the officer who’s just trying to get through his day, an engagement with the police doesn’t need to result with rolling around in the ditch getting your dumb ass shot.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Nextdoor. My neighborhood is one of many that have elected to use the Nextdoor website and app to take nosy-neighborness to the next level. The current conversation that seem to be monopolizing everyone’s time is focused on barking dogs, the causes, and what can be done about it. Participants are divided into two broad camps by this discussion. Without spending time recounting the dozens of posts, I fall pretty firmly into the camp that says that even though the lots here are large, we do, in fact, live in a neighborhood. That means we all have to endure a certain amount of fuckery we find personally obnoxious from neighbors (and their dogs). Yes, I’ve heard the occasional barking dog – and from time to time, mine have contributed to the cacophony. In the grand scheme of obnoxious shit neighbors do, the dogs aren’t even close to the top.

2. The House of Representatives. A few weeks ago, at least according to leaders in the House, the President of the United States represented a clear and present danger to the republic. Hearings had to be conducted and a vote held with all possible haste. Since then, though, the leaders of the House have spent weeks sitting with their collective thumbs up their own asses while refusing to deliver the charging documents to the Senate. Since they seem to be in no rush to get the trial underway, I can only assume House leaders no longer think President Trump is a pressing threat to the country. If he were, surely they would have pressed for a trial to go forward as quickly as possible… unless, of course, these fearless leaders of the House are more interested in political theater than actually standing upon their dire warnings for the future… and dealing with the fallout from their actions.

3. Doing for others. I’m generally open to lending a hand, or taking on a project, or generally at least attempting to make myself helpful. What I have consistently resented the hell out of over the course of my career are the things that land on my desk that could have been done by someone else faster or with less explanation required than pushing it over to me with a laundry list of instructions. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the details of everyone’s workload, but I’m willing to bet that if I walked the halls I’d be hard pressed to find someone with more ash and trash cluttering their inbox than I’ve had this week. The fact that so much of it is stuck there by “trusted professionals” who could handle it themselves isn’t surprising, but it is annoying as hell.