Crud…

Today was supposed to be my first day back at the office after Christmas vacation. The crud I’ve been, unknowingly, fighting since Wednesday said otherwise. I really thought I just had a sore throat from kicking up dust when I started clearing out my closet to prep for the eventual renovation. Obviously, it wasn’t just the dust, but that wasn’t painfully obvious until late in the day on Friday.

The good news is that if the rapid test is to be believed, I haven’t been snookered by the Great Plague, but some other upper respiratory bug that’s set up shop in my head. At least I think that’s good news. It’s kind of hard to tell at this point.

I was feeling good enough this afternoon to prop myself almost upright and type this out with my thumbs. That’s quite an improvement from the last couple of days when dragging myself off the couch to let the dog out was a downright Herculean feat of strength. My voice is less gravely and every once in a while, I’ve found I’m able to breath through both nostrils simultaneously. Progress.

With a “not Covid” test result I probably could have hauled my carcass to the office today and been a slightly warmer than usual body in the room. If life in a plague era has taught us nothing else, though, I feel like “keep your germs to yourself” should be an important lesson. I’ve got a mountain of sick leave and won’t feel a moment’s guilt at using it.

Maybe I’ll try to dip my toes back into the exciting world of work tomorrow with telework Tuesday. Or maybe I won’t. I think a lot of it is going to depend on how long I can stare at a computer screen without my eyes crossing or my incredible 15-minute attention span completely losing the thread of whatever I’m supposed to be doing. 

Anyway, today was better than yesterday, so I guess that’s something. 

Roundup…

Do you even have a website if you don’t do a year end roundup?

2021 was my best year yet here at WordPress. I exceeded every measurable metric from last year, which was the previous record setter. Not bad for a poky little blog that doesn’t do any advertising, doesn’t have any particular focus or built in fan base, and doesn’t offer any tips or tricks for making anyone’s life any better.

The whole thing exists entirely as a method of saying whatever happens to be on my mind at day’s end. I’m consistently amazed that anyone chooses to follow along with the level of nonsense that shows up here.

Starting next Monday I’ll be back to my regular weekday posting schedule. Whatever fuckery happens in 2022, you probably won’t hear about it here first, but you’ll definitely hear about it eventually. If it’s not good times, I can only assume it’ll be interesting.

I won’t jinx anyone by wishing them a happy new year. Good luck out there.

Running out the clock…

With three days left in this grand 16 day weekend, I guess you could say the only thing I have left to do is run out the clock.

With a bit of a sore throat and a touch of post nasal drip, but no other signs or symptoms of crud, COVID, or anything else catching, I’ve laid in groceries and have no further plans besides three days of proper hermiting before work raises its ugly head and demands my time again. It’s celebrating this long stretch of days off by doing that which I most enjoy.

These last two weeks seem to be ending with more a whimper than a bang, but I’m not exactly complaining. Being holed up with the animals, rooms full of good books, food to cook, and vast quantities of tea and gin hardly sounds like a disaster. Who knows, I might even get crazy and watch something on Netflix or Hulu instead of just using the television as background noise.

All while in the back of my head rumbles the warning that Monday is coming. I don’t think any amount of time off will ever change how I feel about that.

Going irregular…

Over the next week or so, I’m not going to commit to keeping up the regular weekday posting schedule. I might post. I might not. It will be a complete roll of the dice depending on how motivated I am or whether something worth writing about happens to be on my mind.

At best, the schedule of posting here will be going irregular for a few days. The good news is that there’s more than a decade worth of posts right here. Surely a few of them will be new to you if you’re just thirsting for something fresh to read.

We’ll see about getting back on a regular schedule next week. Or maybe the week after that. Or maybe when the new week kick off. Lord knows I’m not making any money doing this, but it’s definitely work and I’m in dire need of not feeling obliged to do anything at all.

So if you don’t hear it directly from me in some other way, I hope each and every one of you have a delightful and enjoyable winter holiday of your choice.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Marking the long night…

I make a point never to let the winter solstice pass unremarked. Maybe it’s some kind of genetic memory harkening back to my 100x great grandparents who would have undoubtedly marked the long night in their own way, but it’s my favorite of the winter holidays.

Yes, it’s only the first day of winter. The promise of the solstice, though, means that every day now we’ll start clawing back seconds and then minutes of daylight. Like the other late December holiday traditions, the solstice offers hope of better things to come. If nothing else you’ve got to appreciate the consistency in branding the ancients came up with for their winter celebrations.

It’s almost as if people took a few minutes and looked at it unemotionally, they’d find the religious differences they’ve spent 2000 years fighting over are all horribly insignificant.

Chonky…

Hershel had his annual checkup and got his rabies booster today. He wasn’t thrilled with the experience. He doesn’t like to leave the house. I guess despite the difference in species, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

Still, the techs all made over him. Thanks to the thin walls, I could hear everyone in the procedure room fawning over “the good looking chonky boy.” I know I’m biased, but he is a good looking cat.

Other than needing to cut a little weight and a bit of dry skin, he seems to be in fine shape. He won’t love it when I start cutting back at mealtime. God knows I’d think it was a terrible idea if someone did it to me.

It was actually kind of nice to go to a vet appointment for “normal” issues for a change. Given my track record with animals I won’t let myself get used to it, but it was an appreciated change of pace.

Feeling pretty good…

It’s not polite to talk about money. That’s the kind of thing people drilled into your head back in the olden days. Maybe it’s still true. I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t polite to talk about money, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Like most people, I’ve had a complicated relationship with money for as long as I can remember. Some times were fat, others thin. Even in those thin times, though, debt was easy. I never had any trouble finding someone willing to let me borrow on their account. I’ve had some kind of unsecured debt following me around since Citibank gave me my first credit card as a college sophomore.

A decade ago, fleeing from an untenable career situation, I racked up a mountain of debt. It went to the costs of leasing out the house at less than I needed to cover the note (before finally selling it off at a loss), paying my own way a third of the way across the country, setting up housekeeping here along the northern reaches of the Chesapeake, and a bulldog with eye watering medical bills, among less dramatic things. It was all wildly expensive – and what I couldn’t cover out of pocket, I financed.

It’s taken every bit of those ten years, but as of this morning, with one last payment, I clawed out from under the last $279 of non-mortgage debt I was carrying on my books. With a rock bottom interest rate and no intention of staying in this house forever, it’s debt on an appreciating asset (and a deduction) I’m just fine with keeping. I’m perfectly willing to make that my modified definition of “debt free.”

Some people have said it’s a liberating feeling. Maybe it is, but mostly what I feel is relief – knowing that I can fully allocate resources to better goals than continually servicing debt. I could have cut costs to the bone, but you know, you’ve got to live a life too. I’m not saying I’ll never buy another thing with someone else’s dollars, but I’ll be a hell of a lot more judicious than I used to be when it happens.

This day would have arrived a hell of a lot sooner if I qualified for mortgage forgiveness back in 2008 or any of the COVID cash giveaways in 2021. There’s a good chance that’ll be a sore spot that festers for the rest of my life. Missing out on two big freebies aside, I’m feeling pretty good about things just now… and not only because I’m just a few hours into a 16-day weekend.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Systems of systems. Outlook was down most of the day on Wednesday. That was after three days of fighting another “file sharing” system. It’s possible that this week will enter my personal record books as the one in which I spent the most effort to accomplish the least. I’m sure there are good and fine reasons why all out tech seems to be tits up more often than it’s not, but it continues to be one of the top two or three most reliably annoying elements of the job. It’s just one of the many reasons I’m dedicated to being able to walk out the door in thirteen years, five months, and a hand full of days.

2. The week before Christmas. It’s the week before Christmas, or close enough for all practical proposes. It’s certainly less than eight working hours before my long Christmas holiday commences. It’s also been just about the busiest week of work I can remember since the beginning of the Great Plague. Easily 50% of the week’s dumpster fires are entirely self-inflicted because someone just got around to looking at something that should have been handled last week, or because our electronic communication system suck, or for untold other reasons. I shouldn’t say this with so many bosses, former bosses, and other trusted professionals following along, but with seven hours left in my work year, every single one of my fucks has already been allocated. Anyone coming at me between now and 4:00 Friday afternoon expecting much more than a blank stare is going to be sorely disappointed.

3. Prednisone. Thanks to the as-yet unidentified reason my arm had been broken out in a rash for about three weeks, I had a 4-day course of prednisone this week. The (mostly) good news is that the arm has sort of cleared up – it at least looks a lot better than it did a week ago and I’m not longer tempted to satisfy the itch by scratching it with a circular saw. What the four days of prednisone also gave me was an insatiable craving for salt, rampaging blood glucose levels, an even shorter temper than usual, and I’m pretty sure at least one panic attack. I have no idea how people stay on that stuff for weeks or months on end. Next time I’ll just scratch myself bloody and it will still be a less awful experience. 

More problem than solution…

This past Saturday, Twitter was determined to serve me tweets from people saying things like “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t rather use public transportation than deal with their own car.”

I suspect people who say things like this have never lived outside the ring road of a major city or god forbid in a truly rural area, where cars are literally freedom of movement from one place to another or indispensable equipment serving farms, ranches, or homeowner needs. Just try getting on the bus or subway with 500 pounds of horse feed or a ton or mulch.

I don’t have particularly fond memories of my time riding the DC metro five days a week. Maybe that comes from the time my Blackberry got stolen or maybe it’s just the general unpleasantness of dealing daily with panhandlers, delays, track service, oppressive summer body odor, and constantly arriving five to ten blocks away from wherever I really needed to go. By contrast, my personally owned vehicle generally gets me anywhere between 10-100 yards from my destination… and in all my years of driving, I’ve never had the person sitting in the seat next to me shit themselves. Can’t say that about being on the Metro.

I mean people should obviously feel free to take whatever combination of Uber, buses, trains, and subways gets you from here to there, but I’d be hard pressed to think of a time I’d have rather used any one of those means of transportation than my own vehicle. The people who think public transportation is the One True Way are every bit as out of touch with reality anywhere beyond their echo chamber as any other band of fanatical, myopic “problem solvers.”

If you’re so caught up in your one size fits all solution that you can’t see any other possible alternative, I promise that you’re more a part of the problem than you’ll ever be part of the solution.

My after Christmas list…

I couple of nights ago I noticed my iPad wasn’t holding a charge quite as well as it used to. The cover is pretty tatty and the aluminum housing is scratched and scraped. Every now and then it even stumbles trying to render a website. 

I didn’t think much about it until it popped up a notification that I was due for a software update. Poking around in settings (since I was there anyway), it dawned on me – probably not for the first time – that I was updating an almost 9-year-old piece of equipment.

I suppose that realizing that my venerable iPad Air crossed the pacific in 2013 made me a bit more forgiving of some of its latest foibles. With a little effort, I’m sure I could keep it limping along another few years, but I think maybe it really is time for an upgrade.

Yet another thing to be added to my after Christmas list. That should give me enough time to properly convince myself it’s a need and not just a want.