Like a half-assed grail quest…

I’ve been reaching out to potential mortgage servicers for the last week or so to see if anyone’s interested in underwriting a refinance for Fortress Jeff. With interest rates stupidly low, I can only assume every other American home owner is doing the same thing right now. That’s a net good overall for homeowners, but has driven the whole process towards being even more of an absolute pain in the ass than it would be under normal circumstances.

If nothing else, you’d think I could get my current mortgage servicer to pick up the damned phone. And yet here we are, with all my calls for the last four days kicked over to voicemail and emails left without response. 

I’m sure they’re busy. I know my mortgage is in no way even remotely close to “big business” for a national bank. But, hey, a quick email letting a long-term customer know they’re in the queue and someone will eventually get back to them – or gods forbid giving an actual estimate of when they may get in touch – would go a long way towards making me feel like they should keep my business and fending off the increasing likelihood that I’ll just slam a request for quotes through one of those online aggregators and go with the absolute low bidder.

Under normal circumstances, I’d just walk into the credit union and ask for their best offer and move along, but it seems that since they’re still operating under COVID procedures, requiring advanced appointments, and also getting flooded with work, adding them to the list would just make for one more outfit that doesn’t seem interested in calling back. They may get added to the mix yet, but life would be altogether easier if the current lender would just get on the stick and work a streamlined loan for me versus starting over as a new customer. 

Yes, it’s a first world problem… and yet since I’m living in the first world, that really just makes it a problem… and one that you wouldn’t think should take so much time and effort to work through, but, of course, here we are. It’s like some kind of half-assed grail quest. 

Of groceries and new routines…

Cecil County has most of the problems every other semi-rural county in Maryland is facing – drugs, pockets of poverty, a questionable education system, and a government that occasionally verges on dysfunctional. It also has some remarkable natural beauty, low cost of living (for Maryland), and a convenient location between Baltimore and Philly that’s close to both, but far enough away to allow those who prefer the quiet life to avoid big city fuckery.

What the county lacks, however, are the kind of supermarkets I got use to while living in the DC exurbs or during my west Tennessee exile. The local Food Lion is convenient, but comes with limited options. Walmart has decided they’re no longer interested in my money. There’s an Acme, a company that I assumed had gone out of business 20 years ago, but its location in the heart of Elkton attracts a certain element that I’d just rather not step over, walk around, or studiously pretend to ignore just to get my weekly shopping done.

I happened to be off my usual Saturday path last week, which put another option in reach. Even looking a little dated and feeling like the aisles were too cramped by half, Safeway has it all over any of the more local options. It’s not a Kroger or a Giant, but by comparison to what I’ve gotten use to out of convenience there’s no contest.

As much as I am a creature of habit, I’m also adaptive enough to adjust when there is a better alternative available. I hate the idea of adding an extra 20 minutes to the standard Saturday errands run (and probably spending a bit more than I would otherwise on groceries), but the trade off with more and better options is too enticing… and makes me wish I’d have reconciled myself with driving to Delaware for groceries much sooner.

I’m reasonably sure the hardest part of all this will be remembering that the new routine takes me across the county from west to east instead of east to west. Pity me my first world problems.

When Monday sucks a little bit more…

It’s Monday. That would usually mean I spent the day happily tucked in to my home office with views of the woods and three fuzzy critters keeping me company. Those Mondays, telework Mondays, are something to be celebrated rather than serve as a source of existential dread.

Today, of course, was the existential dread kind of Monday. It’s the kind that required my presence in the 5×5 foot, half walled box I usually only spend four days of the week occupying. I was thrown off my normal Monday by a meeting at which my bodily presence was encouraged if not actually required.

The catch is, some time between signing off on Friday and arriving on Monday the meeting in question got cancelled… with the net result being I gave up a delightfully dreary telework Monday for absolute no reason at all. Not cool, man. Not cool at all.

Sure, I know this is one of those fancy first world problems that everyone enjoys, but since I, in fact, live in the first world, I’m not sure what other type of problems I could be expected to encounter on the regular. I’m not saying that anyone died or was maimed as a result of this series of unfortunate events. All I’m saying is that Monday sucks as a general rule and I missed out on an excellent opportunity to make Monday suck a little bit less.

The not so mysterious case of Comcast sucks…

Well, tonight you were schedule to get the post you should have gotten yesterday… But it seems “Comcast is experiencing technical difficulties that are impacting your cable television and high speed internet service.” Therefore, since I don’t feel like re-typing the damned things with my thumbs, you get another day of space filler. So in conclusion, Comcast sucks.

Yes, I know this is a first world problem… and since I live in the United States and not some remote herding camp in East Dirtbagistan, we’re just going to call them problems from now on. It’s one of the perks of living in the first world.

Dead space…

I feel about federal holidays like some women seem to feel about shoes; I love them and can never, never get enough. As much as I love President’s Day for being one of the days I can sit back with my feet up and enjoy not doing a damned thing. Nothing in life is free, of course, and that means taking the bad with the good. In this case, the bad is that President’s Day is the last holiday between now and the end of May. Call me crazy but the months just seem to go better when you have a impending long weekend to look forward to every few weeks. Having one 90-odd days off into the future doesn’t have the same motivational effect. No one has ever accused me of being a big fan of delayed gratification.

Sure, be happy you have a job, not everyone even gets federal holidays, blah, blah, blah. All of those things may be true, but the only thing I see stretching out in front of me between here and May 27th is dead space. Well, dead space and as-yet-unscheduled days of annual leave, but mostly dead space. And please, don’t get me started on how it’s possible that it’s the middle of February already. I’m pretty sure time has been set to march past at the double quick. First world problems, to be sure, but since I live in the first world, I just think of them as the regular kind of problems.

What Annoys Jeff This Week?

So it’s Thursday and by now you’re surely wondering what annoys Jeff this week. From a host of things, here are the three that made the final cut this time around:

1. Religious zealots. Every religion since the dawn of time has been based on what it’s followers (or creators) considered some kind of “revealed truth” about the universe and our place in it… and mostly, the central tenant of most major religions is the same: Try not to be a doucebag. The problem arises when people make an addendum to this basic philosophy and you end up with something more like: Don’t be a douchebag, unless the person you’re acting like a douchebag towards doesn’t subscribe to every particular detail of your system of beliefs. I’m not known as the most laid back guy in the world, but at the end of the day, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Jesus, Vishnu, Buddha, and Mohammed all seem to agree on that point. So yeah, don’t be a douchebag zealot, regardless of who hears your prayers.

2. First world problems. I don’t need a new iPhone. I definitely don’t need a $600 new iPhone. I’m not even particularly impressed with the incremental design improvements the leaks have shown this time around. And yet somehow despite those three pieces of evidence to the contrary, I really, really want to order the new iPhone when it’s launched next week. Not even my best mental gymnastics can manage to transform this from a “want” into a “need.” And lord knows I’ve tried. That a slightly lengthened form factor, a marginally larger screen, and a couple of as yet unknown new bells and whistles can cause me this much gnashing of teeth is an impressive tribute to the power of marketing… and a slightly disturbing testament to my priorities.

3. It’s not the end of the world. I’m constantly amazed at people’s misguided assessment of their importance in the grand scheme of things. Nothing makes me want to bang my head against the keyboard more than people who spend all day lost in a haze of everything they do being an emergency. Things worked just fine before we showed up and unless you’re actually the next Einstein of your field, they’re keep going along in more or less the same direction long after we’re all singing with the choir invisible. The sooner you come to grips with that fact, the less bothersome these nominal “emergencies” become.

This message will self destruct…

When you die, who gets access to your email and other electronic information? An article yesterday on msn asked just that question and it really started me thinking. My immediate response was that I want the electronic innards of my pc fried upon confirmation of my untimely demise. There are lots of files that I would not necessarily want my then grief-stricken family to go wading into… from years worth of journal entries, to draft blog posts too harsh to see the light of day, to yes, you guessed it… internet pornography.

Of course the other reality is that with online banking, investing, managing credit cards, and electronic billing, much of the things that use to end up as paper files in someone’s desk drawer now litter files on our hard drives… when they exist at all. The issue is sort of a novelty now, but by the time our generation starts shuffling off in large numbers, it’s going to be an issue… So don’t say I didn’t warn you.