What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Texas. For a hundred years, the Republican Party celebrated the states as testbeds of democracy – where we could experiment to discover new and innovative solutions to problems the country faced, without defaulting to top-down directives imposed as the One True Way as dictated by the general government in Washington. I have to admit it took a remarkable amount of testicular fortitude for Texas, 18 other states, and in excess of 100 members of the House of Representatives to so publicly abandon that position by attempting to force Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to do whatever Texas thinks they should do. It took a tremendous amount of fortitude and made each and every person associated with trying to bring that case before the Supreme Court look like an absolute fucking idiot. 

2. Tea. The problem with tea is first you have to wait for the water to boil. Then wait again while it steeps. When you need a good caffein charge it feels like it takes something just short of forever. I love a good cuppa, but there’s something to be said for coffee that heats and brews at the same time.

3. Existential crisis. According to the internet “A new survey finds nearly eight in 10 Americans say 2020 caused an existential crisis for the country.” I’d submit that the headline would have been more accurate had it claimed that the survey found that almost 8 in 10 Americans was woefully unaware of their own national history and lacked a fundamental understanding of just how bad historical “bad times” were in comparison to what we face in 2020. Sure, it seems bad in the moment, but that’s mostly because we’re the ones living through it. Ask the same people if they’d like to trade their life in 2020 for an all-expense paid trip to 1918 or 1864 or 1777. There, perhaps, they’d learn the true definition of an “existential crisis.”

The unexpected perk of tea…

I love coffee and have since middle school. It’s been my reliable go-juice for the best part of three decades. Splash it in your tumbler and go. There’s a pot always on the warmer – or plenty of K-cups on the shelf for those occasions when I don’t need to fill a to go thermos. It’s the undisputed king of getting my mornings started.

Tea, though, is increasingly coming into its own in this household. I brew my first cuppa around 10 AM and then periodically through the afternoon.

You’d think one hot, caffeinated beverage would be as good as the next, but there’s something about tea, though. It forces you to take a pause. To boil the water. Heat the cup. Wait exactly 4 minutes for steeping.

It makes you wait and then rewards your patience, which, as it turns out, is a good thing.

What I learned this week…

I’ve had a raging coffee habit since my freshman year in high school. Under normal circumstances,  my average intake is about a pot a day, so call it 10-12 regulation sized cups.

While I’ve been more or less at home continually over the last two weeks it seems my intake of tea has increased dramatically while coffee consumption has cratered. I still need that 5AM kick in the face that only steaming hot coffee can provide, but after three or four cups, I’m moving to tea for the duration of the morning and the entirety of the afternoon.

I’m sure someone could uncover a deep psychological reason for the shift, but at least some of it is practical, I’m sure. Coffee and plenty of it is easy to come by in the office – mostly by way of the thermos on my desk that keeps it scalding hot through most of the day. Proper tea brewing isn’t impossible in a cube farm, but it is, even if only slightly, harder than making a regular cup of joe… Mostly because of my refusal to use the employer provided tap water or the kettle surely tainted by the aforementioned water. 

I suspect when all this is over, assuming the republic doesn’t collapse into some Mad Max-style free for all, I’m going to end up needing  to buy a damned electric kettle to take to the office.

Thats’s it. That’s the big voyage of self discovery triggered by a week working from home. Sorry if you were expecting some kind of big finish.

No way to live…

I’ve been tired, and irritable, and struggling to concentrate all day today. I’d usually write it off to one of the six different projects sitting on my desk in some condition of “not done yet,” but that’s mostly situation normal. Hardly cause for the two spontaneous nose bleeds that left me with chunks of tissue jammed up not nose so I could get on with whatever it was that I was doing while stanching the flow hands free.

Other than conditions as described, I don’t feel bad. My blood pressure isn’t out of whack. All appears to be as well as you could expect.

It wasn’t until I got home this evening that I realized that I was carrying around the probable culprit of at least some of my ills on my back. It seems in the mad rush to try getting some of those unfinished projects nudged towards the finished stack, I neglected to maintain a regular level of coffee intake. I can’t begin to tell you the last time I came home with a perfectly full thermos at the end of the day. Usually I’m finishing up the last of it while pulling into the driveway.

I’m just going to assume that today’s low state of affairs was triggered entirely by the shameful lack of caffein in my system and commit myself to doing better tomorrow… Because going through the day wholly uncaffeinated is no way to live.

So apparently it’s not a stroke…

Not long after lunch this afternoon my left eye twitched once and then felt like someone was jamming an ice pick into the socket. My first thought, after the initial WTF, was “Wow, this is how it’s going to end for me… Stroking out at my desk after being utterly overwhelmed by stupid.”

Thirty seconds pass and the pain lets up enough to be mostly a roaring headache situated just behind my left eye… annoying but not debilitating. Since there was no face drooping and no obvious slurring, I went on about my business.

It wasn’t until around 2:00, when I reached for a long empty mug of coffee that reality dawned. I wasn’t about to stroke out at all. I was unintentionally coming down from a years long caffeine high and my brain was rebelling against it. I couldn’t tell you the last time I got so busy that I didn’t reach for a refill until almost the end of the day. It could easily be half a decade or more. After all but mainlining three cups, the pain in the ol’ brain box settled out from a dull roar to nothing at all by the end of tour.

Consider it lesson learned. Now that I know the unfortunate results of under caffeinating, I’ll never, ever let it happen again.

From the Mailbag: Energy Shot

The Question: How about you take on buying “energy shots” to make it through the day versus getting enough sleep to make it through the day?

The Answer: I wish this is one I could take on with some authority, but I don’t have any actual firsthand experience with these newfangled energy drinks. In the finest traditions of blogs everywhere, though, I’m not going to let my lack of expertise or experience stand in the way of issuing a definitive opinion on the matter.

The closest I’ve come to trying an energy drink was an unfortunate episode when a bartender handed me a drink made with Red Bull. As I recall, it tasted almost exactly like red cough syrup. That’s a flavor I don’t find particular appealing in an adult beverage and as I recall, most of it was left sitting on the bar.

While I can’t speak with any competence on Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy, I do have a certain familiarity with coffee – civilization’s original energy drink. I’d be hard pressed to function without its steady rush into my system throughout the day. At the moment, I’d say I average somewhere in the vicinity of a pot a day. Some days it’s a little more, some a little less. When it gets to be a lot less, then the blinding headaches start so that doesn’t happen very often.

I’m sure there’s plenty of virtue in getting a “full night’s sleep”, whatever that is. Personally, if I spend more than about six hours in bed I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’m wasting too much time just laying around being more or less unconscious. In fact I’m pretty annoyed that sleep demands even that fifth of my day, when there always seems like something more productive or at least more interesting that I could do with that time.

Maybe it’s the wimp’s way out, but I suspect that right combination of stimulants and sleep are probably intensely personal. What works for me probably won’t work for someone else. How else could I explain people who seem to spend their whole weekend in bed (other than calling them out as incredible slackers, of course)? As it stands, I’ve got maybe 35 good years left on this rock and I don’t intend to spend a third of them abed.