Blurred…

So we’re officially back in the mode of operation where it helps to just turn off the ol’ brain box and try not to dwell too much on any one thing. The first three days of the week have blurred into what feels like one very long day. I don’t see that changing between now and Friday. In fact my forecast is for it to get appreciably worse the closer we get to the weekend – just another in the long line of weekly reminders that Friday is no longer to be trusted as a bringer of good things.

I’ve gotten better than I care to admit at just grinding out the work. I’d like to say it doesn’t get under my skin, but it does. At it’s heart my job is fundamentally about compiling large amounts of information in insanely short amounts of time, facilitating the flow of that information vertically and laterally through the bureaucracy, and and trying to make sure the decision makers have the right information at the right time. Basically, I’m a problem solver who’s expected to either know how to do something or figure it our pretty damned quick.

At nearly every turn this week I’ve run into my mirror image – the ones who say, I don’t know how to do that, or I haven’t had any training, or it’s too hard. Once they proclaim something too hard too do, these bastards look at you blankly, like an infinitely patient and utterly stupid dairy cow waiting for you to offer to do their job for them.

I don’t know how I seem to always find the jobs in every organization that requires miracle working as a principle skill set, but next time I switch offices I’d damned sure like to land in one where it’s ok to walk through the day being only slightly more intelligent and productive than the three week old sandwich slowly molding in the break room fridge.

Wild Kingdom…

Back when I was growing up and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we got 12 television channels. We were a stage past turning the selector knob (although there were still one or two of those old sets in the house). It feels archaic in retrospect, but it was perfectly normal back then.

I don’t remember the channel number, but where that TV landed more often than not was the local Maryland Public Television station. At the time, it fired up the transmitters at around 5AM and signed off with the national anthem around midnight. Public broadcasting was my first exposure to a lot of programming that I consider formative and central to who I am today – most walmartnotably shows that taught me to appreciate the British sense of humor. But grainy Monty Python episodes aren’t what made me think about public television today. That distinction belongs to seemingly inexhaustible variety of “animal shows” they were fond of running back in the early 1980s.

While it doesn’t have the quiet, authoritative dignity of Wild Kingdom or a Jacques Cousteau special, there’s something of a flavor of these shows in my regular trip to Walmart. After pulling in on Saturday morning to see half the not insubstantial parking lot occupied by a car show, I knew I was in for something special. All I can tell you is Walmart didn’t disappoint.

The very next thing I saw after the visions of chrome was a geriatric man pushing his easily 600 pound wife/significant other/pet wildebeest and a fully loaded basket of groceries out of the store seated on one of those carts built to have multiple small children strapped to it. I’ll admit it, I was transfixed. My only regret is that I already passed the scene before realizing I should really have taken a picture (so it would last longer). Now, I’m not a small man in any sense of the world. I don’t make a point of mocking the obese, because by any legitimate standards I am one of them. But I still manage to walk my fat ass into and out of the grocery store without requiring a two man lift and a push cart to make it happen. Honest to God, it took me a good five to ten seconds to process and come to terms with what I was seeing.

You’d think it might be over once I got parked far, far away from the door with at least once side of the truck protected by a curb, but no, there’s more. Saturday at Walmart was the gift that kept on giving. Near the front door were three cars all attempting to occupy the same bit of the space-time continuum at once. As I drew near, I heard the unmistakable sound of the deeply inbreed female redneck screeching three kinds of hell in the general direction of the (most likely) equally inbred male redneck who had stopped his Clampett-mobile in the middle of the travel lane to let his female companion take the wheel. This was just seconds before the older, female Alpha Redneck leapt from her car with the agility surprising for a woman of her age and apparent state of drunkenness. And then she took a swing at the male driver for daring to block her way. This all led to three full sets of paired North American Rednecks swearing and threatening each other in full plume. Honest to the little baby Jesus the only thing missing was a banjo player.

At this point all parties turn to look at the guy who was holding his chest and laughing his damned fool head off while walking past the commotion and staring at the shambles of six utterly wasted human lives as they further shattered on the hot asphalt of Walmart’s parking lot. It was truly one of the most monumental displays of redneckery I have ever seen in person… and had you grown up where I did, you’d know that’s really setting the bar quite high.

So there you have it, my friends. I hope it’s clear now how we got from basic cable in the 80s, to public television, and back around to how Walmart is possibly the 5th circle of hell. Like the African savanna, it’s an interesting place to observe wild creatures in their natural environment, but the moment we start interacting with them, we’ve endangered them as well as ourselves. The best and safest course of action is for all of us to avoid contact and allow this devolution to run its course, hoping that in time these roving bands will slaughter each other into a state of relative equilibrium allowing those who have more than a handful of firing neurons to complete further field studies.

Darkness at dawn…

It occurs to me that when I wake up at the customary weekend time of 6:30 it’s going to be absolutely dark again at a time of day I’ve just started getting use to having light. Tomorrow, though, the sun will follow me up in short order. The big problem is coming on Monday, because 6AM looks awfully bleak when it’s pitch black outside.

There’s probably a fine balance that we could strike between springing forward and falling back. As I’ve covered before, I’d say just do away with the whole mess completely and let the time and daylight operate independently of one another rather than making a hash of yoking them together as we have for the last hundred odd years. Surely tinkering with the time could simply be solved by letting individuals adjust their own wake-up time to accommodate the mount of daylight they want earlier or later in their respective day.

Frankly the whole concept of daylight saving time feels like a concept that has outlived its usefulness. Now that we’re well into the 21st century and even farming can be done by GPS in the dead of night, why we can’t simply pick one or the other and stay there is simply beyond my meager abilities to understand.

Some days…

Some days all I can do is sit at my desk and shake my head. I’m never quite sure if it’s my cynicism getting stronger as I get older or if it’s just the amount of stupid shit I deal with being cumulative. Some days I wish I was one of those people who wander through life not being bothered by what happens to and around them. My God, some days I envy those people who seem to get up and sleepwalk through the day.

I’m not self absorbed enough to believe that I’m the only one who deals with stupidity. Lord help us, the world is overflowing with it. You can’t help but wade through the day up to your knees in the stuff. What I increasingly don’t understand is why those of use who see it and recognize it for what it is, don’t call it out by name. Why do we smile politely and then roll our eyes at the first opportunity? Why does anyone with the least bit of talent at what they do tolerate the vast sea of stupidity that surrounds them?

Despite my best efforts, somehow, for some reason I still apparently give a damn. I can’t help but think that life might just be better if you’re schlepping through it fat, dumb, and happy. Or is life worse and you’re just do bleeding dense to know it?

The not so mysterious case of Comcast sucks…

Well, tonight you were schedule to get the post you should have gotten yesterday… But it seems “Comcast is experiencing technical difficulties that are impacting your cable television and high speed internet service.” Therefore, since I don’t feel like re-typing the damned things with my thumbs, you get another day of space filler. So in conclusion, Comcast sucks.

Yes, I know this is a first world problem… and since I live in the United States and not some remote herding camp in East Dirtbagistan, we’re just going to call them problems from now on. It’s one of the perks of living in the first world.

Detail orientation…

I spend a lot of time around here calling out people for doing dumb shit. In the interests of full disclosure, I need to make this confession. As it turns out, I’m not always the most detail oriented person in the room. I was reminded of this last night when I went to the basement to install a few A/V components before the Comcast guy came by this weekend with my new cable box. As you might expect, there’s a back story here just waiting to be told.

I was very pleased with myself last weekend because I’d finally managed to rearranged everything in the basement and haul out a truckload of trash and sundry useless crap I’ve moved all over the country. After almost a year of trying to figure out exactly what to do with the 1/3 of the house that’s below grade, I’d managed to set up what would pass for a media room in most 1200 square foot rentals.

It seems I’ve neglected one small, but important detail about setting up a TV, DVR, blueray player, and Apple TV. As it turns out, they all require electricity. Sadly, the wall I’ve decided to build my home media center around is lacking in that one particular feature. Even though the coax is right there poking through the wall, the closest electrical outlet is about 12 feet away… and in another room. Clearly, I’d lost the trees for the forest.

I’m not about to cut into the wall and put in an outlet. This dump is a rental after all. Instead, I ordered the surge protector with the longest power cord I could find (Special thanks to Belkin for the 10 foot cord option). With that, and hopefully some slack in the individual component power cables, I might, just might, be able to rig something up without dragging the orange extension cord in from the shed.

This should be ghetto fabulous. Then again, this is Cecil County so there’s a fair chance no one will notice.

Listening in…

As a rule, if you’re sitting in a 700-seat auditorium, you probably shouldn’t think of your conversations as privileged in any way. In fact I was doing my best to ignore everyone around me, as is my way. Sadly, some things are just too stupid not to stick with you long after you’ve punched out at the end of the day.

One of the distinctive features of the room we happened to be in this afternoon is a display of all 50 state flags. The guy sitting directly behind me casually mentioned to his friend that he didn’t understand the display as it must have “every flag every flown.”

“No dumbass, it’s the state flags of the country we’re, you know, sitting in right now,” I mumbled under my breath.

“That one must be UNC,” he said, I assume gesturing towards the powder blue flag of the State of South Dakota. By this point, I’m tempted to bash my head against the seat back in front of me. I’m pretty sure at some point, he was trying to figure out why Maryland’s flag included a “checkers board” motif.

Thank God for prompt start times, because the last thing I heard was a question about why we had the Australian flag in stage.

“And that would be Hawaii,” I muttered with enough oomph to make sure he heard me.

I know there’s now law about being utterly ignorant about the country you call home, but that doesn’t mean you should open your mouth and confirm to the world that you’ve been wasting oxygen for all these years.