1. Christmas Music. I leave the radio on for the dogs when I go to work. I came home one day recently to find that the station had transitioned to a 45-days of Christmas music format and nearly lost my shit. I’m sorry but I just don’t need to be told to have a holly, jolly Christmas ten days before Thanksgiving. For that matter I don’t need to be directed to have one ten days after Thanksgiving. Christmas music makes its appearance on my playlist only one day a year… that’s on whatever day I happen to be driving, like a swallow back to Capistrano, back to my native land a day or two before the actual holiday. Even then, it’s not exactly traditional Christmas songs that bleat from my speakers. My carols tend to come from the likes of Blink-182, Reliant K, Bad Religion, and a few others. I just can’t even with the other stuff this early in the year.
2. The damned darkness. I have a fundamental loathing for this time of year, not because I hate the holidays, but because every time I see the outside it looks like the middle of the damned night. It’s dark when I get to work. It’s dark when I get home. Five days a week, there isn’t a lick of actual daylight to be seen since my desk sits in what might as well be a giant shoebox wrapped in tin foil. It might be enough to drive a lesser man off the rails… fortunately it only drives me to drink.
3. Meetings after the end of the day. This seems to be a perennial topic. I guess that’s so for a reason. By the time close of business rolls around, every ounce of mental energy I can muster is being pushed towards getting the hell out of the building. When suddenly a meeting appears that will frustrate that which is my heart’s desire, I can’t guarantee that you’re not getting my best effort. You’re not even getting a half-assed effort. More likely you’ll end up getting what I generously call “I’m here under protest” face. Sure, I can smile, be polite, and even accommodating, but my brain is already 20 miles away. I’m sure it shows and that isn’t good for any of us.
While I’m sitting here at 9:30 with most of the items on my list knocked off for the day, I’m enjoying the “extra” hour today. Sure, now I know most people want to use that hour for rest, but lying in bed wide awake for an hour just isn’t my speed. That being the case, the solution was obvious – get up and start getting stuff done at 5:30 this morning. The baseboards are ready for the heating season, the air conditioner is ready to haul down to the basement, the living room and kitchen got cleaned – but not before there was a real ham and eggs breakfast, the leftover ham is now in salad form chilling in the fridge, and a leftover chicken bits from last night are simmering themselves into stock for eventual noodle soup. All days should be this productive.
Check back with me in about 7 hours when we’re approaching dusk and I’ll sing you another tune. That part of the “extra hour” makes me crazy – if for no other reason than needing headlights to get home from work for the next five months is so damned dispiriting. With the impending end of yard work and a lot more dark hours to fill, it’s a good time of year for writing. If there’s any real silver lining that’s got to be it. I guess it’s time to drag out the sweaters and wool socks and kick this whole hermit thing into high gear.
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.
1. The damned darkness. It’s been said that it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Still, all things considered, I’d rather be home before lighting the candles is necessary. I know it’s that fabulous time of year when the days are getting short and all, but I can’t help but think it would be awfully nice to get home in the afternoon before the photovoltaic sensors crank on the outdoor lights for the night. Plenty of daylight while I’m driving to the office in the morning is nice and all, but while I’m sitting in cubicle hell, it doesn’t make a lick of difference to me whether it’s blue skies and sunny or pitch black out there. Having an hour or two of daylight at the end of shift, though, would make all the difference in the world. You can keep Christmas. The winter holiday I’m most looking forward to at this point is the solstice.
2. Hand holding. Public displays of affection are fine, what makes me crazy are the allegedly professional members of society who need hand holding through every step of whatever it is they are supposed to be doing. I don’t have the time or the inclination to be your security blanket and dispense constant reassurance that you’re doing good work, or the right thing, or whatever other nonsensical prattle you need to hear multiple times a day to keep your little world from flying out of its orbit. Being a grown ass adult means you get to meet your own needs, not wander around looking for someone to meet them for you… because right now the only thing I can say you need for sure is a punch to the throat. That might not solve your problem, but it would sure as hell solve mine.
3. Everything else. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s causing it, but my general state of being could best be described as “annoyed” for most of the last week. While that may not sound surprising, the truth is actually do my best to ignore, or at least not engage with, most of what goes on around me. Observe it? Absolutely. Interact with it? Only when it’s unavoidable. I find that I’m much more at peace with the world and those in it when I hold the whole ball of wax at arm’s length. This week, though, I wake up pre-annoyed for some reason… although it saves me the trouble of needing to gin up a good level of rage later, it doesn’t exactly contribute to the smooth passage of the days. Sadly, that’s not a problem that can be fixed by the judicious application of more cowbell… unless you duct tape the cowbell to the person annoying you and then play it with a crowbar. That might actually help.
1. Logos. People use their cars to broadcast things that are important to them to the rest of the traveling public – their favorite sports team, the fact that they’re memorializing a lost loved one by plastering their birth and death dates on the back window, or their affiliation with PETA, the NRA, or their great love of some random geographic location. What I never really expected to see was someone driving past with a two foot tall Under Armor logo affixed to his back window. I’m sure they make some very nice clothing, but for some reason it feels pretty much like me having a giant Fruit of the Loom logo emblazoned across the back of my truck. No matter how comfy they might be, it’s a safe bet that almost no one on the planet actually cares about your choices in underwear… but maybe I could interest you in a nice Dale Earnhardt “3” with angel wings if you’re really looking to class up your ride a little.
2. Printing. It’s apparently the hardest function known to network engineering. I don’t generally like having hard copies floating around, but there are just some moments when you can’t avoid needed a paper copy. Sure, that’s mostly because we’re woefully behind the curve when it comes to adopting ultra-portable computers and tablet technology, but that’s a different rant for a different night. All I really need is a printer that works reliably on the three days a month when I actually do need a dead tree copy of something. I can manage to keep a 99.99% up time on my home network with a history degree and a reasonable dose of common sense, surely the cast of hundreds who theoretically have advanced training and education in networking can come up with a way to make the bloody printers work.
3. Darkness at dawn. I’m ready for the cool, crisp evenings, but I’m not in any way prepared for the 6AM darkness that comes along with the end of summer. Over the last week I’ve regretfully noted the darkness encroaching a little further into the morning routine. At the end of July, the sun sparkled on the dew covered grass long before 6AM. Here at the end of August, there’s barely enough light to make out cars and houses on the other side of the road. In another few weeks it’ll be pitch black for the entire morning routine. A few weeks after that, it’ll be dark for the evening routine too. Maybe there’s something poetic about 10 hours of work and commute bookended by pitch blackness, but I trade in prose, not poetry, so the long, dark nights can bugger off because I’m nowhere near ready for them yet.
1. Springing forward. For the last 100+ years, we have jiggered with the time in the spring and in the fall. Maybe that made sense when everyone was a farmer (and maybe it didn’t), but in the 21st century there’s really not much of a practical reason to spring forward or fall back since our activities are more or less standardized to the clock rather than to the relative position of the sun in the sky. I say ditch the time change nonsense. Pick one, stick with it, and move on. It’s just one small pain in the ass that we can all agree belongs in the 19th century?
2. Follow-through, or failure thereof. I’m a simple kind of guy in a lot of ways – like when I tell you that I’m going to do something. Excepting completely unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, when I say it’s going to get done, it will be done on time and to standard. My frist mistake is probably expecting the same from other people. At a minimum it would be nice if they had the common decency to let a brother know they’re going to let him flap in the wind and look like a douche canoe. Really, how effing hard can it be to throw together some PowerPoint slides and send out an email? Apparently, it’s of a scope and scale that exceeds preparing for the Normandy invasion… I’m pretty sure those jokers got their slides on time.
3. Truth in advertising. The Dear Leader of our beloved People’s Republic of Maryland wants to raise the gas tax this year, except he wants to do it without calling it that. So instead of ending up with a proposed bill to raise the gas tax, we end up with a bill to reduce the gas tax this year and then supplement that reduction by phasing in a sales tax on gasoline over the next three years. Oh look, he’s reducing the gas tax! Sigh. I know most people are either dumb as a box of rocks or not paying attention, but if the Dear Leader wants to jam his hand even further into my pocket and take more money from my magical shrinking pay check, I wish he’d have the fortitude to stand up and at least call it a tax.
One of the consequences of getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is that now pretty much all I want to do from 6:00 onward is go to bed. That was a perfectly acceptable feeling when it got dark at 8:30 and bed was only ninety minutes away. It’s less ok now that between the time I get to crawl into bed and the time I start wanting to do that, there are four hours that need to be somewhat productive or the cleaning, laundry, and other activities that keep a household running are going to pile up to unacceptable levels. And so with that, I once again turn to the internet for an answer. Is there something, anything, that anyone uses to gin up motivation to be productive when it’s dark outside? Coffee is getting to be my only salvation, but somehow adding another pot to the one I already drink during daylight hours seems a touch excessive. I’ve always had some issues during this time of year, but this is getting ridiculous. I either need to find some energy or accept the fact that I’m going to go to bed at 7PM until the days start getting longer again.
I just want to go on the record and say that this “fall back” to standard time thing sucks. We’re a post-industrial society. There is no good reason that I can think of that we need to rejigger our clocks twice a year. I’m up and rolling before the sun in both “saving” and “standard” modes, so my proposal is that the country gets together and just picks one. I don’t care which one it is, personally. Plus, there was some asshat on the radio on Friday saying that we should be falling back an hours and 20 minutes to account for the slowing rotational speed of the earth. What? Give me a goddamned break already.
Fortunately, the issue of how we account for time is in the capable hands of the brains trust we call the United States Congress. May God have mercy on our souls.