I’ve been struggling to come up with a ramble or rant for tonight. The truth is, despite plenty of things going on in the world, I can gin up enthusiasm for just about none of them… and in the case of the ones that are vaguely interesting, I find that I just don’t have that much to say. It’s not a comfortable place to be for someone whose best means of communication has always been putting words on the page. Still, I’ve decided not to force it.
Whatever motivation I can usually scrape together as 6 o’clock comes on just isn’t there this evening, so I’m going to go ahead and hit pause. Maybe just for tonight. Maybe for the rest of the week. Maybe… well, who knows.
I’ll be back when I have something to say and the motivation to say it.
As I was fiddling around with last night’s post, I did some tangentially related digging in the archive. I was somewhat absentmindedly thinking about the overall premise for Thursday night’s regular edition of What Annoys Jeff this Week and how out of character it would be to have simply one thing standing on its own. That, inevitably, sent me scurrying down my own internet rabbit hole.
I’ve always thought of WAJTH as a static item. A blast of three very short form topics showing up each and every Thursday nearly without fail. That it consistently shows up on Thursday is true enough, but for the rest, well, memory isn’t always the best guide to what actually happened in the past.
As it turns out, over the last 481 weeks – yes, that’s nine and one quarter years of being annoyed – WAJTW has apparently evolved. The first post, way back on September 1st, 2011 covered four topics. After that, for almost a year, posts swung between four and five topics. It wasn’t until August 2012 that I seem to have adopted the standard three topic format that has dominated Thursdays ever since. Maybe it took me that long to figure out how to condense the week into the three most annoying – or at least the three most easily set to print – things that happened.
I’ve been filling up pages of this blog for so long now, that it’s easy to forget that there really is an evolution of style over time. Looking back at some of those early editions of WAJTW, I like to think I’ve made some stylistic improvements in how I get my points across. Even if they are better written, I was a little impressed with how many of the topics from those first few weeks are still things that annoy the hell out of me on a regular basis. Some things, it turns out, really are eternal.
The good news, I suppose, if you happened to miss reading my daily rantings, is that I’m back. The bad news, if you’re me, of course, is also that I’m back.
I’m not upset at all to be back to blogging. It’s the fact that my having anything to say is squarely driven by being back to work after nine days off that’s the problem.
As it turns out, when I’m not spending a large portion of each day screwing around with work, I’m mostly content to putter around the house, knock off an errand or two every day, and otherwise keep myself to myself. I believe I’d be happy to keep that schedule up indefinitely. There isn’t enough time in a standard weekend to really grasp how much better those days are, but when you stack eight or nine of them in a row, the truth outs.
If all goes according to plan, I’ve got just under 14 years left in harness. I’ve occasionally wondered if the blog will survive that transition. I use to assume it would go on as long as I did. Maybe I’ll catch a second wind, but it feels just now like the whole thing could easily find it’s end precisely when the work stops. It turns out the angst and bitching is dramatically reduced by the simple expedient of doing what I want and on my own schedule rather than tinkering about with email and spreadsheets all day. I’m not sure I’ll have all that much to say when I don’t have that to fall back on.
I’d imagine that will be a good problem to have… and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
I don’t think there’s a single week since I started blogging that I went silent for an entire seven day stretch. I’m not saying that’s going to happen this week, but I will say that I won’t be putting thumbs to keyboard unless I get some really solid motivation over the next few days.
It’s the first time since December I’ve had an entire week off and and so far I’m enjoying not having anything, including blog posts, scheduled.
If you’re desperate for reading material, feel free to dip into the archive. It runs all the way back to summer 2006 and you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy buried in there somewhere.
It’s been a big year at jeffreytharp.com. I mean that in just about every measurable way, because as the year closes out, views are up 52% over last year and more than doubled from 2018.
Where do we stand, you ask?
Views only fell below 1,000 one month once this year, which is attributable to a change in how updates were served out to Facebook. Once I got that sorted, it was back to the proverbial races.
All things considered, that’s not a bad showing for a poky little personal blog that doesn’t have a discernable theme, does no advertising, and basically consists of me using it as a platform to bitch and complain about the utter stupidity of daily life.
The fact that so many people have opted to come along for the ride – or just follow along to watch the shitshow – is absolutely remarkable. I’d say I’m humbled by it, but since you have been following along, surely you know better than that.
I won’t make promises of grand changes for 2021. There will be no wild rebranding or shift in focus. I fully intend to just plug along doing what I’ve been doing. Hopefully you’ll continue to like it (and recommend it to your friends for their reading pleasure).
It’s the middle of the week, a federal holiday buried between vacation days, pouring down rain, and about a gloomy a day as you could find. Businesses are starting to close up and people are beginning to revisit the days of “safer at home” as the Great Plague surges around us. I’ve largely tuned out the 2020 presidential campaign, which I consider over, done with, and not to be gotten back to until closer to the inauguration (aside from occasionally flinging rocks at both sides via Facebook or Twitter).
Put another way, there’s absolutely nothing that I feel a compulsion to talk about today. I’ve taken great pains to make the house a perfectly comfortable retreat from the world. I’m not sure the dogs and I could hold off a Spetsnaz assault team, but for keeping to ourselves through the pandemic whether it lasts a few months or another year, we’re reasonably well set to minimize how much time we need to spend dealing with the world “out there.”
The days, especially when untroubled by even needing to telework, do tend to blend together a bit though. If it weren’t for knowing yesterday’s vet appointment was scheduled for Tuesday, today would be more or less indistinguishable from Saturday or Monday or the day after tomorrow. I’m a dedicated creature of habit and it doesn’t particularly bother me in any way… but it does make fishing for new topics just a little problematic, which is how you end up with a stream of consciousness mess something like this one.
Fortunately, I can already predict that things will be back to normal tomorrow and you’ll get a full boat of What Annoys Jeff this Week. Some things don’t stop, regardless of how peaceful and docile the week seems. I should probably be thankful for that.
Sometime around 10:00 last Thursday night, jeffreytharp.com set 2020 as its best year for views yet. That’s not a bad place to be at the tail end of October and the numbers, of course, keep ticking up every day. Say what you want about the suffering of life in a plague year, but having people home, bored, and dinking around on the internet has done great things for my numbers.
I’m sure there are people out there who are making an actual living at this. God knows I get enough emails about “monetizing your platform.” That’s never been my goal here, though. The only reason jeffreytharp.com exists at all is as a venue for exorcising some of life’s daily bile without my brain exploding… and maybe offering up a bit of entertainment along the way.
Sure, making a few coins from it would be nice, but I value my position as an amateur bitcher and complainer. Maybe I could take the whole thing pro, but surely it would lose some of its charm when in the back of my head I’m always conscious of what drives views and spend time worried about who might be offended. That’s just a risk not worth taking, so we’ll keep on as we are… because I feel like there’s going to be a lot of things that need saying over the next few months.
OK. I’ve arrived at an executive decision. Keeping up a weekly feature highlighting “what I learned this week” just isn’t working for me. Call it a victim of COVID-19.
Yes, my home state of Maryland is continuing to open up. I could go eat at a restaurant, do some in-person shopping at local retail establishments, or do many of the other things that people did to amuse themselves in the before time. The catch, of course, is that I didn’t spend a lot of time doing those things back then – and I lack all motivation to do them now.
Curtailing my primary interests to whatever is happening on my woodsy acre means less opportunity to see something truly new and different that also passes for interesting to a broader audience. I’m still learning plenty, but won’t pretend that finding the perfect mix of herbs and spices for my meat sauce or investigating what’s killing off some of the local pine trees makes for particularly enthralling Friday reading. Likewise, regaling you with what I consider interesting tidbits from whatever books I’m currently reading doesn’t feel like something that would get all that much attention.
For the foreseeable future, I’m putting Friday back into the normal posting rotation. No theme, no special emphasis, just whatever ridiculous shiny bauble happens to have my attention that day.
I’m usually dead asleep seconds after my head hits the pillow. I’m mercifully untroubled by racing thoughts or ponderings once the lights go out. It would be nice to attribute that to some kind of innate superior ability to make my brain shut up on command, but I’m forced to assume it’s just a simple matter of the way I’m wired.
I did have something of an unnerving thought last night just as sleep was coming on, though. Just as I was drifting off, up from the depths, bubbled the questions “Do you even want to keep blogging or is it just force of habit?”
Sure, it’s not the deep meaning of life style question that some people get while they’re lying in the darkness, but it hit hard enough to stick with me once I woke up this morning, so there must be something there even if it’s just the wisp of a passing thought.
The honest answer is I’m not sure. After 3,181 posts I have no idea if I’m actually saying something new or regurgitating the same 20 topics ad infinitum. There’s never been a unifying focus here – no defining characteristic that I can point to and say this is what I’m writing about – unless you count whatever happens to be on my mind any given day as having a particular focus. Maybe it is, but I’m sure the blogging experts would be quick to point out that one man’s opinion isn’t generally something that monetizes well. Of course that’s never been the point here either. In fact, keeping this platform advertiser free ends up costing me a few dollars every year… although I consider it money well spent to keep banner ads from covering every bit of white space. As long as I’m active here, I’m determined to be the only product being advertised.
You might have noticed by now that I haven’t answered my own bedtime question yet. That’s mostly because I don’t really have a good answer. Some part of me would be happy to give it up and claw back the time. Another part is sure that I still have things to say – and that there’s absolutely no chance of my shutting up on issues as they happen. I’m an opinionated sonofabitch – and even when that opinion isn’t popular or cuts against the running tide, I can’t seem to help but give it voice.
All of that means that I’m not likely to go away willingly. I may take a look at the current five-day a week posting schedule, though. I can’t help but wonder if content wouldn’t be a little more fleshed out if I didn’t rush it through every day to hit my self-imposed 6PM deadline. Taking posts in a little more of a long form direction doesn’t seem like the worst thing that could happen – except for my general lack of interest in or skill at editing, which could prove even more painful than writing something fresh every single day.
Sorry if you were expecting something deep. Today has apparently been just a post where I do some thinking out loud. I’m not sure it’s driven anything towards a decision, but getting ideas down “on paper” always helps me clarify what’s rattling around in my brain… even if it doesn’t make for the most entertaining blogging.
It pains me to admit this, but a lot of what drives this blog is the need to talk about the people and situations I find myself dealing with at the office. With working from home mostly being the order of the day, I find myself with a significantly reduced level of angst and agitation. Unfortunately that also leaves me with far fewer topics than I usually have knocking around as things to talk about.
So this is where you come in. As we do from time to time, I’m throwing the doors open and inviting you to ask me anything. Is there something you’re dying to know? Is there a topic you think deserves my personal narrative treatment? Do you just want me to sweat out something I’d never even considered writing about? This is your shot.
I’m not going to get hung up on format or directions. Comment directly on this post, leave a comment on Facebook, tweet me, send an email or direct message. I’ll even keep your identity confidential if you’d like. I’m trying to keep this easy for you and interesting for me after all, an anonymity often makes for a more interesting question.
Fire away. The sooner you tell me what’s on your mind, the sooner I’ll be able to give you some kind of half-assed answer.