What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. I’m trying to buy a house. I understand that there are effectively hundreds of bits of paper that I need to sign. As a matter of procedure, though, it’s not a good idea to send me a dozen of them and then disappear. When I email you, then follow up with a voice message, then follow up again the next day, and then email again the day after that and still get nothing in way of response, you can reasonably expect to assume it’s not looking good for your company to retain my business much longer. I tend not to make unreasonable requests and I’m Johnny-on-the-spot getting things done on my end, so expecting the same of the companies I engage to work on my behalf doesn’t feel like a big ask.

2. Today is the first official “snow day” for my office this year. “Free” days off are always something I appreciate whenever they occur. Of course even being an “off” day I find myself up and moving well before the crack of dawn, but it’s my time and that makes it OK. Unlike other people who would just take the day and enjoy it for what it is, my mind is already turning towards thoughts of “Damn. It’s only Thursday… I wonder what the chances of getting tomorrow off too will be?” Maybe it’s just my nature to never be quite satisfied with something good… but seriously even a full scheduled day of work tomorrow will mostly be a lot of people milling around waiting for the weekend to start – and the level of disinterest only increases if there would happen to be a few-hours worth of delayed opening.

3. Maggie is an emotionally needy dog. She has been since the day I brought her home. I have a share of the blame here, of course, since I’ve always let her get away with it. Since the boxes have come out, though, it’s been even worse. Even though there is no sign of “moving” anywhere here on the main living floor, she’s attached to my hip even more than usual. At the moment that translates into sitting on my foot with her chin on my knee while I type this with one hand and scratch her ears with the other. So I’m an enabler. Yet another reason I’ll be glad to have this entire process over and done with. Settling back into “normal” will be a good thing.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Standards. As a matter of principle, I never hold anyone to a higher standard than I hold myself. By the same token I don’t hold them to a lower one either. I’m many things but I do my best to avoid having hypocrite show up on that list – especially when it’s no harder a matter than maintaining just a little bit of consistency. Jaded as I am, though, I still find I can be surprised when people seem to behave with no sense of personal standards at all. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure whether it bothers me more that they do it or that I care.

2. Low Expectations. The high point of this week at the office was the arrival and unboxing of a new industrial strength shredder. I’m not even making that up. Given the volume of paper we push a heavy duty shredder isn’t a luxury item. It’s damned near an essential. An essential that we haven’t had for the last quarter of a year. It makes me a little sad to find my expectations of what constitutes a “good day” have been lowered so far that being able to turn PowerPoints into confetti now falls near the very top of the list.

3. Apple. I found myself reading through the initial reports from this afternoon’s Apple product rollout and rather than finding myself in need of selling a kidney for some new tech, I found myself mostly shrugging with something that approximated indifference. The latest iteration of iPad lacked something of the wow factor of a truly new product. The new iMac looks well enough kitted up, but not nearly enough to get me to drop $3K+ on on a desktop computer. There was nothing there that will find me leaping from bed at 3AM to make sure my pre-order is in. I know that every new product update can’t be a show stopper, but I’d have appreciated a little bit of “wow” when it comes time to deliver what should be iconic product offerings.


I assume most people don’t have any sympathy for the poor old man in Florida who drew down and shot the guy in the theater for texting. I’ll probably catch hell for saying this, but I’m not so sure we shouldn’t give him a medal, or a parade, and send him on his way.

After enduring three people in the front row who spent the entire movie glued to their own screens, the woman on my right who needed to get up not once, not twice, but three times during the movie to talk on the phone, her friend who got up to get refills on popcorn and soda (but not at the same time), and the middle aged battle ax directly behind me who had the incredibly obnoxious habit of repeating lines that she found humorous, I’m not so sure that the old dude was completely out of line.

Expecting people to come in, sit semi-quietly, and watch the moving picture doesn’t feel like it should be an over the top idea. Apparently it is. It’s little trips out like this that remind me why I generally avoid leaving the house when there is any reasonable alternative. The movie was good… I think… but I was far too distracted and annoyed to enjoy it.

Next time I think it would be a good idea to go out unbidden amongst the masses, someone please remind me that they make me absolutely crazy. I’ll thank you for it.

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?

First day of school…

After almost a week of Congressionally imposed exile, it’s back to work for most Department of Defense Employees. It feels a bit like the first day of school after a long summer of not giving a damn. Suffice to say that I am something a little less than motivated. What can I say, I’m having a significant emotional response to being told for a week that my services are unessential and then getting a call after 9PM on Sunday to hurry up and get back to work. Look, I know the old hurry up and wait is the Army Way and all, but seriously, taking care of your people should involve more than jerking them form pillar to post around the time many of them are headed to bed. Decent behavior and a basic level of respect are apparently expectations that are all out of proportion to reality. Good to know.

The great irony is that I’m going to be missing at least part of this first day of school. Instead of being on my way to the office, I’m killing an hour or two before heading out for my second root canal in the last seven days. Is it bad that dental surgery almost seems like a better way to spend the morning? It probably is, but Uncle Sam is currently ranked higher on my shit list than the dentist. As sad a state of affairs as that is, it doesn’t seem at all unreasonable.


Well, this is embarrassing. It seems that the American political system is precisely as dysfunctional as I’ve been afraid it was. Remind me to never to use the “world’s oldest operating democratic republic” line again, will you?
Today’s plan of attack:

1. Drive to work and get handed my official furlough notice. (Yes, for reasons that bugger the imagination, sending that to us in an email and saving everyone an unnecessary trip to and from the office is something that’s apparently too hard to do.)

2. Apply for unemployment benefits from the State of Maryland.

3. Update my resume on Monster and begin applying for jobs.

4. Spend some time writing something that I may be able to sell for profit and bidding on freelance writing jobs.

5. Call Representative Andy Harris, Senator Ben Cardin, and Senator Barbara Mikulski and leave a voice message expressing my absolute disgust with our elected “leaders.” (Since most congressional staffers are also non-essential, the chance of anyone ever getting that message are somewhere between slim and none.)

6. Write a blog post that hides the fact that I am stark raving furious about the disfunction of our political masters under a thin veneer of snark and sarcasm.

So that’s what I’ll be doing instead of the job that Uncle Sam has spent a great deal of time and money training me to do and which I have demonstrated award-winning skill in carrying out. I thought I had a career, but apparently it’s only a job. I’ll adjust my expectations and level of dedication accordingly.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The Bank. From time to time I have to physically walk into a bank branch. Every time I do, I’m reminded why I do as much banking as humanly possible online. That would be because online, I don’t have to stand in a line five deep while one teller window is open for business and two other tellers stand behind the counter looking at the fire extinguisher. I know I couldn’t do a job that required direct interaction with the public, but if you’re going to have one, maybe you should try, you know, interacting with the public.

2. Adulthood. Aside from waking up with the occasional ache or pain, the bills, and other assorted responsibilities, I feel pretty much like I’m waking up at approximately age 17. Society might be able to make me put on pants and give the appearance of being a responsible adult, but I’m mostly just faking it and hoping nobody notices. You might be able to make me be serious and responsible, but you can’t make me want to… and you certainly can’t make me like it.

3. Lists. I start every day with a list. Most weekdays the list I started the day with looks disturbingly like the one I end the day with. I would be easy to assume that means I wasn’t doing much during the day, but more often than not it means that whatever I planned on doing got overwhelmed by whatever crisis-of-the-day cropped up and needed complete and undivided attention. The problem with having the list is that no matter what crisis you manhandled into submission, some jackass is going to come along and ask why the stuff on the list didn’t get done too. I’m pretty sure the lesson here is to either not make lists, or stop having expectations. Possibly both.

Reality bites…

It’s Saturday! Woohoo! That’s what my inner 17 year old sounds like – full of good intentions and great expectations for the day. Of course after getting up, feeding the dogs and tortoise, changing everyone’s water, making coffee, going to the dump, picking up groceries, sitting in “plant expo” traffic on Main Street, putting groceries away, making lunch, letting the dogs out to burn off some energy, dragging the week’s laundry to the basement (but not yet starting it), dragging the vacuum up from the basement (but not yet using it), and finally sitting down to blog, I’m not entirely sure Saturday is “Woohoo!” worthy. As far as I can tell its only redeeming quality so far is that it’s not a work day. While that’s quite an achievement, I’m think we can do better. Yeah, this would be the part where my inner 70 year old takes over and is pretty much annoyed by everything… especially the reality sets in that I work harder on Saturday than I do any other day of the week and for way less pay.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

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.

Size 12…

Strip away the layers of technology, the fancy polo shirts, and khaki pants, and at my heart of hearts you’ll find that I’m actually a remarkably simple man. You’ll find that I’m the kind of guy who does what he says he’s going to do, when he said he’s going to do it, unless there are some truly exceptional circumstances preventing that from happening. The unfortunate side effect of that tendency is that it leads me to have that same expectation for the people and companies I deal with. There are only a handfull of things that make me as absolutely batshit crazy as taking time off, sitting around the house waiting, and then getting a call near the end of the scheduled “service window” letting me know that someone isn’t going to be able to make it out and that the appointment will need to be rescheduled for a more inconvenient time the following week. It’s even better when you call the other company who was supposed to do an estimate and they “can’t find a record of the appointment.” I’m serious. It makes me want to bash my head repeatedly against the nearest cinder block wall – right after I beat someone to a bleeding pulp with their own arms.

To the companies doing business at 866-366-2606 and 877-321-7038, I hope someone here on the interwebs hijacks your phone numbers and ties up your incoming lines for the next week or two. That would save me the trouble and the legal fees resulting from coming over there and driving one of my size 12 Doc Martens directly into your colon.