Hard and fast rules…

I came across this post as a stray draft a few days ago. I have no idea if I published it before or if it’s something I wrote that has been sitting in electronic purgatory for months or years. If I have posted it previously, it’s something that bears repeating. If I haven’t, it’s a post that’s deserves its moment in the sun.

In any case, here I present the following few hard and fast rules to live by that I’ve learned while serving as a cog in the vast recesses of the bureaucracy:

1. You can do it all.

2. You can’t do it all at the same time.

3. Timelines are meaningless and largely serve just to take up additional space in a PowerPoint slide deck.

4. Planning is, at best, a work of educated fiction.

5. At that moment when things seem to be working well, the wheels are about to fall off, the engine to catch fire, and the transmission explode, so don’t get cocky, kid.

6. There’s no such thing as “idiot-proof.” The world strives to always produce bigger and better idiots.

7. There’s no good work you can do that a general officer can’t undo with an offhand remark.

8. People rarely get the justice they deserve.

9. All projects can be a combination of fast, cheap, and good… but you can only have two at any given time, so choose wisely.

10. When all else fails, when you think the situation can’t possibly go any further downhill, when not even the third reorganization in eighteen months gets the results you hoped for, look out, because things can always, always get worse.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Nature. I’ve never made any bones about not being a hippy tree hugger. I like the idea of the outdoors… as long as it’s neat, and orderly. Wandering around in the woods looking for a place to poop isn’t high on my list of things to do without a damned good reason. I like to think of it as the difference between enjoying an English garden and enjoying the rain forest. Both have their role to play in the great scheme of things, but I really only need to be involved with one of them. Being a practical man, I know that I need nature to cooperate with me from time to time, though. Basically, what I need it to do is stop throwing thunderstorms around every afternoon so I can get some stuff done outside. Stupid nature. Why can’t we control that foolishness yet?

2. Lunch. I use to enjoy a wide range of lunch options – assuming you consider a score of fast food joints and gas station sandwich shops different enough to count as “a range.” Part of my furlough survival plan was to reduce the cost of lunch by bring it from home. It doesn’t sound like much at first blush, but $200 odd bucks a month adds up respectably over a few months. Now that I’m bringing chow from home, I’m thoroughly bored with everything. I’m philosophically opposed to being one of those people that brings in home cooked leftovers to reheat for lunch (throwing good food in the microwave is pretty much on step above reheating it on the engine manifold – sure it’s warm, but it probably tastes like ass), the options do tend to dwindle. There are only so many ways to be creative with salads and sandwiches when you don’t run your own deli counter or just happen to keep a lot of exotic ingredients on hand. When this furlough is over, I may never touch finely sliced roast turkey breast again. Ever.

3. Shipping. I’ve never exactly been known for my patience and I’ve been spoiled by features like Amazon Prime that default all of my purchases to 2nd day delivery. For a few dollars more, I can arrange for an item to be at the house in less than 24 hours. That’s the kind of service that makes me happy. Then there are the surprising number of things I order online that don’t have an Amazon Prime-like option for rapid shipping. They want to take my money, wait two or three days, and then get around to shipping my item by standard mail so it will take an extra three or four days to arrive safely on my doorstep. Maybe it’s just me but a seven day interval between flash and bang feels a bit like an eternity. They say patience is a virtue. Apparently “they” are idiots.