The virtue of Prime…

After getting my notice of another Amazon Prime subscription price increase, I’m realizing that I either need to start using it for more than watching 10 episodes of The Grand Tour a year or get rid of it. I signed up way back when Prime’s major benefit was two day shipping on books. Although it offers many more features now, I find I’m barely using it for any of them. With many of items I’ve bought from Amazon recently not making the 2-day shipping window and/or being damaged to some degree in packing or transit, it’s starting to feel like less of a bargain overall – especially when Amazon has opted to push it over the $100 price point.

I’m well aware that arguing over the value of $21 per year increase is patently ridiculous on its face, but there’s just something about that three-digit bill that really sets me wondering just what the hell I’m paying for and if it’s actually worth it. In all likelihood I’ll just go along letting apathy and inertia carry it along, but don’t let that in any way be confused with my willingness to bitch and complain every year when that $120 bill shows up in my list of financial transactions… because I still want my dented and damaged crap showing up in two (or three or four) days.

I supposed that’s what Amazon has been counting on all along.

I didn’t miss it…

A few minutes ago I realized it was Monday. I also realized I hadn’t written a word since Thursday. Even if it’s not something I’m going to share, a four day break is awfully unusual. It’s even more unusual if you take into account I didn’t make any notes, didn’t proof anything, and didn’t so much think about anything that might be confused with writing. I didn’t miss it. And that’s what really surprised me.

It seems that the long weekend threw me utterly off the routine. I have no idea that getting back to work tomorrow will bring it all careening back into place, but at the moment it all feels like a big pile of “meh.” Maybe that’s to be expected as an appropriate end to a lengthy weekend. Besides if I ever found myself perfectly content with anything I’d be worried that it’s a sure sign of a stroke. As it is, I’ll just take it as a sign that it’s been another weekend governed largely by apathy.

That’s the spirit…

There’s a lot going on in the world. Between the incredible imploding generals, John Kerry’s name on the short list for Secretary of Defense, Israel chomping at the bit to bomb its enemies further back into the stone age, an impending fiscal disaster of biblical proportions, and a few dozen other odds and ends that are making the news today, you’d think I could gin up something pithy to discuss tonight… but in thinking that, you, gentle reader, would be exactly wrong. No matter how earth shattering or sensational, my official response to most of the day has been a rather disinterested shrug coupled with the occasional “Meh” for emphasis.

After several minutes of in depth analysis, I’ve determined that the harder I look at the world around me, the dumber it gets… and the higher my blood pressure soars. Perhaps it’s best for the world, and for my long term cardiovascular health if I just start ignoring everything that’s going on around me. That approach seems to work well enough for the masses, so maybe if I stick my nose in a book and pretend that civilization isn’t actually doomed everything will turn out just fine in the end. I mean it’s the approach that works for the inevitable 6 out of 10 who can’t find their state on a map or are more likely to follow news for Justin Bieber than Joe Biden.

So in this new spirit of apathetic mediocrity, I bid you all good night. I’m sure I can find something perfectly pedestrian to take my mind off the world. If a good book doesn’t work, I’m sure one of the 87 channels of reality television will fill the bill nicely.

Looking…

If you stopped by looking for some new foolishness, you’re going to be disappointed. I haven’t gone back to work since Christmas. And when it comes to work, out of sight is definitely out of mind. Except for the fact that I have to go back on Tuesday, I haven’t given the office so much as a thought for the last week. It’s been nice. Of course I know there is a mound of stuff piling up on my desk that will demand immediate attention when I wander in, but just now it’s nowhere near the top of my priority list. This is yet another strong indicator that I’m better suited to a career as a lottery winner than as an actual productive employee. When it comes to work, my apathy indicator is blazing green.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…

When things start coming off the rails, there are usually alot of small indicators that its about to happen or that it’s actually started happening. If you’re lucky, you’ll know what those indicators are when you see them. If you’re not, well, aren’t you in for a surprise?

Maybe the best heads up that stupid is in firm control of the situation is when the word goes out that it’s mandatory that everyone get along with one another. Respect is a slippery thing. The best people command it just because of who they are. They wear it like a cloak of authority. The second tier will get respect because of the position they happen to occupy. People will follow them, but their hearts aren’t likely to be in it. The worst of the lot try to command respect through intimidation and by exerting good old fashioned command and control. Sure, that works… For a while. In the end, all you’ve done is breed a culture of resentment, driven real opinion underground, and created a world where it’s better to hide than stand out. In that environment, you’ve set the stage for dissent, frustration, apathy – the great hallmarks of a race to the bottom and the time when you have to start telling people to be nice to each other.

Once you’re bogged down in that morass extracting yourself is a bit of a problem. Not impossible, but certainly not easy. The tendency of people is to stick to what they know. The factions will pile up. The conflict will continue. It’s the only release valve left when you’ve slammed shut the only other avenues of advance. No one wants to fail as a matter of principle and for the most part, people want to believe what they are doing makes a difference. Take that away and what’s left is a tiny universe filled with the cynical, the sarcastic, and the discontented. Not exactly a recipe for high performance teaming.

All the “Working with Difficult People” training and be nice to each other pep talks in the world aren’t going to fix that. At best, it only recognizes that things are on their way from bad to worse. That’s something, I suppose.