What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Home security. I’ve made a point to have an alarm system in ever house I’ve ever owned. Over the years and moving from house to house the systems have become progressively more complex, evolving from a few simple sensors towards something that’s constantly monitoring and able to show me the health and safety of the homestead in real time. In all my years of using a home security system, though, the only thing it’s ever actually alerted me to was various problems with the security system itself. It’s probably a good problem to have and I’m certainly glad it’s not constantly alerting me to real world problems at home… but I could have done with a little less time spent running diagnostics and troubleshooting earlier this week.

3. Better late than never. Ten minutes before 3PM, the powers that be expressed their concern about the weather and sent everyone home “two hours early.” That’s a fine gesture, of course, except that I would have had to travel back in time to take advantage of this generous offer. On my own authority I dumped in a leave request and departed the area at 2:30. It’s a safe bet to assume that I value my own neck a hell of a lot more than any of the aforementioned powers do anyway. My commute home took twice the normal amount of time and would have easily taken 3x as long had I waited around for others to make a decision and found 20,000 other people all trying to make a break for it at the same time. Thanks to the vagaries of the federal personnel system, though, even though I only took 90 minutes of leave and the powers subsequently approved a blanket 2 hours, I’m still out the 90 minutes I asked for because it was on file before the blanket leave was approved. Maybe it’s an even trade since I’m not stuck sitting on the road somewhere between here and there. Still, it’s just a helpful reminder that Uncle doesn’t put much of a premium on free thinking despite whatever lip service may be paid doing an “individual risk assessment.” That said, I regret nothing and will always use my own best judgement where issues of life, health, and safety are concerned – even if that means putting my money or my leave balance where my mouth is. It would just be nice if we didn’t play the same stupid game and win the same stupid prizes every single year.

4. Florida. I’ve mentioned the Sunshine State once already this week, but they can’t seem to keep themselves out of the news. I just find it mind boggling that all these years after the contested 2000 election any county in Florida has this much trouble counting little pieces of paper even when given the benefit of large and powerful electronic tools to do so. Surely if we line up enough Floridians they can account for enough fingers and toes to do the damned math, right?

Election month…

I’m old enough to remember a time when we had an election day in America. On the Tuesday after the first Monday in November everyone showed up at their designated poling place and voted. By 11:00 that night the results were reported on the three major networks and everyone went to bed more or less satisfied that the results were the results.

What we seem to have now is an election month instead of just a day. We have early voting for a few weeks, then we have actual election day, then the batch of ballots that someone finds unsecured somewhere, then there’s the inevitable batch of recounts and legal challenges that stretch out for God knows how long. It doesn’t feel like we’re making progress on this front. In fact I tend to think we’re making the opposite of progress.

I don’t foresee a circumstance that will take is back to a place where we all agree to just show up on one day to register our vote in the local elementary school, or fire hall, or church basement… but I think we should. We’ve overcomplicated the plumbing on what should be a very simple exercise of the franchise. We’ve over complicated it and everyone is busy looking for the perfect way to stop up the drain.

Sometimes the old ways aren’t better because they’re the old ways – they’re better because they’re just better.

Obsession…

We Americans have a problem with obsessions. I’m not talking about the good kind of obsessions like washing your hands three times an hour or making sure you have on clean underwear before leaving the house. I’m talking mostly about the kind of “news” and current events that we obsess over. Since one of the major news channels is almost constantly running as background noise at the Rental Casa de Jeff, I feel that I’m completely justified in wondering WTF our national obsession is with the currently unfolding trial of George Zimmerman.

It’s not like homicide is particularly unusual in our society. I don’t want to imply that homicide is common, but with major cities regularly racking up triple digit body counts every year I’m having a bit of a problem figuring out why we decided to single out just once of them for the magnifying glass treatment. The incident involving Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin wasn’t the most deadly, it certainly wasn’t the most unique, or even the most dramatic or high profile. All I’m saying is George is no OJ.

Still, to see the minute by minute coverage on ever news channel seemingly all the time leaves me wondering why anyone other than those immediately impacted by the case really care? Why don’t we collectively show that same level of concern or outrage about every homicide? Why aren’t we more concerned about the ones that took place within 20 miles of our own homes that we’ll probably never hear about? It’s obviously selling advertising for the networks, so maybe I’m the one that just doesn’t get the “so what” of Zimmerman’s trial.

With Egypt imploding, NSA listening in on your calls and reading your email, a national debt continuing to pile higher and deeper, and the regular ephemera of everyday life, I have enough to obsess over without including a trial taking place 921 miles away that impacts my life in no actual way.

P.S. If there’s anyone out there reading this who happens to thinks a jury verdict is a reason to hold a riot in the streets, stop reading this blog now. Seriously. Go away. There is no room for you here.