In the end, they’re all Monday…

It’s Monday. Again. This morning, I reached deep into the cabinet where I store my fucks, but alas those shelves were bare. It’s a sad state of affairs that my increasing lack of fucks to give is even seeping into telework days now. Historically, it’s mainly been a problem reserved to those days when I’m required, for reasons defying logic and common sense, to schlep over to the office and sit with other people all day.

But here we are. Trying to come up with new and interesting ways to say what I’ve probably said 137 times here already. Gods, I’m not sure I could be less interested even if I put maximum effort into it. That’s probably some moral failing in me as a person. Meh. So what?

It’s probably a gift that I don’t have to be particularly interested in something to do it tolerably well. If it were otherwise, we could be in a real spot of trouble here. As it is, I’ll sit here with a dog sleeping on my feet, a cat trying to occupy the keyboard, and tinker about with some PowerPoint slides (while trying not to dwell too much on the four Monday equivalents left to go before my time is wholly my own again). 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 16 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 16 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.

2. Missing motivation. You know it’s bad when I don’t even want to sit down and write. I do more reading on days like that, so it’s a bit of a trade off, but still, it’s not exactly good tidings. I’m assuming my current lack of being motivated by anything is part and parcel of the mid-winter doldrums when the yard is a mud pit, I see very little sunlight, and the temperature very rarely claws above 50 degrees. It’s about as bland a time of year as you could ask for and it can’t help, it seems, from seeping into my bones. The days, though, are ever so slightly longer than they were a month ago, so help on the way. Probably.

3. National sales tax. Republicans are currently hung up on pushing a national sales tax. If it were to, in fact, replace the current Byzantine income tax regime with a dead simple x% addition to the cost of goods and services, I could probably get behind it. What the whole program will end up being, though, is a sales tax in addition to an income tax. I mean even if, despite all odds against, Republicans manage to implement a sales tax and eliminate the income tax, does anyone really believe that some future Congress wouldn’t come back to the income tax trough so that John Q. Taxpayer ends up getting hit with both a federal sales and income tax? In the absence of a Constitutional amendment declaring for all time that income taxes are abolished, I’m a hard “no” on a national sales tax.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 14 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 14 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.

The GOP. It’s been a hundred years since a majority party in the House of Representatives failed to elect a Speaker on the first ballot. It’s a level of ineptitude that would be shocking if it weren’t so entirely predictable among members of what passes for the Republican Party. Government is serious business for serious people – and this slimmest of majorities has led off the 118th Congress in the most embarrassing way possible in not being able to conclude the most basic step of leading that chamber without devolving into a useless conglomeration of cockwombles. My level expectation of them being able to do anything else over the next two years is less than nil. 

The rut. Once upon a time, I use to believe that you were supposed to come back to work after time off feeling refreshed and energized. Maybe others do, but I came back from my long Christmas break no more excited or motivated than when I left. If anything, the time away left me even less enthused by the day-to-day after two weeks of doing “not work.” It’s a rut, to be sure. Uncle’s gold-plated fetters make it unlikely that any real changes are in the offing, so getting my head around this just being how I’m going to feel for at least the next 12 years is… troubling.

Don’t expect a Christmas miracle…

Most parts of life, in my estimation, are about finding the proper amount of motivation. Whatever goofy shit you can’t find a way to avoid doing, requires at least some motivation to get through. For instance, I rarely actually want to do laundry… but I like having clean socks and underwear. See, that’s the motivation. 

As I sit here, with a mere 24 working hours between me and a 17-day weekend, let’s just say that motivation is more than a little hard to come by. Systems not working right? Fuck it. “Urgent” email asking things that have been answered three times already? Don’t care. Computer refusing to download a critical system patch that will result in the machine becoming unusable after Friday? Yup. That sounds like a January problem.

Look, I like getting paid on a regular basis. That’ll be all the motivation I need to muddle through the next three days… but it’ll be just that – a good old-fashioned pre-holiday muddle. Don’t waste your time looking for over and above. Disabuse yourself of the idea of it being a zero-defect environment. It’s the time of year when everyone’s just going to need to be satisfied that there’s a warm body here at all. Anything past that truly is a year-end bonus… or perhaps a Christmas miracle.

Monday and other inconveniences…

It’s Monday. Again. It feels like Mondays are happening more and more often these days. I know that’s not how time works, of course, but it still feels like they keep showing up all out of proportion to how often we get a Saturday thrown into the mix. Perception is a hell of a thing, and what brings me to my real point today.

If I really dredge the far recesses of my mind, I can still vaguely recall the version of me that was a young, highly motivated professional who wanted to do all the things, go all the places, and generally be in the middle of everything. That version of me is unquestionably dead and gone, replaced by one that isn’t interested in wave making or in any way drawing unnecessary attention to himself or whatever he may be doing.

I can’t really say if one approach is particularly better or worse than the other. Both feel equally valid. Both are based on conditions, circumstances, and past experience. Present me has learned, from hard experience, that there’s no real benefit from getting too far out over my skies. Sure, maybe I could stick the landing, but the more probable result is face planting into the nearest tree.

Right now, experience is screaming in my ear that seeming too eager or too competent will lead to nothing but angst, frustration, and an increased workload. It’s better, then, to keep on quietly, not fouling anything off, but equally determined not to give in to any conspicuous display of more than average competence.

I like to think it’s a reasonable precaution in uncertain times.

The joy of nothing…

It’s rare to get through from the time I post Friday night’s blog all the way to a Monday evening without having at least one idea jump out at me as being at least nominally worthy of writing up a few lines. It does happen, of course, but it’s rare enough to be noticeable – or at least it is for me. 

I’m going to attribute this weekend’s lack of anything particularly interesting to a combination of reasons. The first of them being that the only time I Ieft the house between 5PM last Tuesday and now, was for about 45 minutes on Saturday. That’s just long enough to get out for the weekly supply run and get home. It generally happens before most people have even properly started their Saturday – and that’s absolutely done with intention. 

It might have started as a pandemic-induced way to avoid standing in line and needlessly exposing myself to whatever bugs people are toting around in their respiratory system, but it turns out even absent a plague, it’s just a great way to avoid people, their small talk, their general bad behavior, and any need to interact with them en mass. Plus, two and a half years in and I’ve still managed to avoid COVID, so that’s a perk. I thought maybe I’d miss restaurants or going places, but it turns out I really don’t. The incentive to leave the house has to be pretty overwhelming. It happens, but it’s a rarity. 

Another reason there doesn’t feel like much to report is, I expect, due to having dialed back a lot of unnecessary spending. Between continuing inflationary pressure, general economic uncertainly, and home maintenance projects both scheduled and unscheduled, a lot of “fun” spending got either reallocated either directly towards covering other expenses or into various holding accounts to be banked against further unexpected requirements. Between shepherding cash, avoiding people/plague carriers, and generally being content to hang out at home with the animals, the number of things worth writing about – or at least the number that anyone other than me might be interested in, sometimes gets a bit limited.

I have no doubt I could gin up a few attention-grabbing posts if I went over and wandering around the local Walmart for an hour or two. You can understand, I hope, why that doesn’t sound like a particularly worthwhile trade off. Much as I enjoy writing, I’m not in any rush to put myself back in a position of having unlimited topics presenting themselves on any given day. 

For today at least, I’ll luxuriate in the joy of having nothing to say.

Until Monday…

I started about four different posts for today and not one of them made it past the first sentence or two. Good ideas, maybe, that just didn’t have the juice to go all the way. It’s something I’ve just come to expect occasionally – especially on Friday evening. By the end of the working week, sometimes there just aren’t any creative juices left to flow. It’s an occupational hazard of trying to find something fun, informative, or snarky to say five times a week, 52 weeks a year. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

That’s when you get this post. The one written bemoaning the inability to write any other post, or to find anything interesting enough to comment on, or something aggravating another to earn my ire. By this point in the week, maybe the well of ire is running predictably low… or maybe the ire is still there, but screaming about it into the void feels like more trouble than it’s worth.

In any case, it’s Friday evening, so that’s something. We’re about as far away from the working week as it’s possible to be in the absence of a federal holiday or burnt off vacation time. Instead of spending a lot of time wishing I had some better writing, I’m going to accept this as good enough, pour myself a large gin and tonic, and not worry about any other deadlines until Monday.

Not for public consumption…

I’ve looked at a dozen potential topics today and rejected every single one of them with some version of, “Eh, I don’t give a shit.” I’m sure there are professional writers who aren’t deterred by whether they care about a topic or not, but my fingers just don’t seem to do the work when confronted with raging indifference. It’s always been something of a personal constraint when it comes to what and when I choose to write.

Over any stretch of time longer than a day or two, my mood tends to be pretty consistent. Some would say it’s consistently bad, but I don’t think that’s true. It just doesn’t generally swing too many degrees off center line, which happens to be a few points towards pessimistic. Overall, I go through most days in my own head being never too happy and never too gloomy. When it does swing, though, boy can I be a right moody fuck. 

That’s where today’s lack of topical interest comes in. Take any six things you can find and I’m fairly sure I could build a full-throated rant about why they’re bad and will be always. That would probably make for a decent bump in my views for the day if I were motivated to chase those.

So, instead of putting up something interesting, what you’ve got here today is just a space-filling admission that I’m feeling decidedly off center without going into any of the contributing factors that would probably be at least marginally interesting. Sorry about that. Even when I am in a mood, some things aren’t for public consumption.

Comfortably at home…

Once upon a time, a three-day weekend invariably triggered a round of book hunting. I’d slip out to shops from the Philly burbs all the way down to Rockville.

Here in the 3rd plague year, I’m just having trouble finding that level of motivation. It’s not that I like the books any less, but that I hate people all the more. Obnoxious behavior in public seems to be the rule rather than the exception. It’s impossible to be out and avoid the Karens and Kens insisting common sense, decency, and decorum aren’t things they need. Decent behavior is, obviously, just for other people and not for these self-important twatwaffles.

Most of the mask “mandates,” to the extent that they were ever really enforced, have fallen, but good sense along with both my personal physician and RN sister still strongly recommend them. I’ll defer to their knowledge of best practices over taking unsolicited advice from the average American politician. I’ll also fully admit, though, hours of browsing for books fully masked with glasses periodically steamed over, frankly, just isn’t fun. 

I miss spending a good part of these long weekends picking through endless stacks. I’ve gotten out a few times since cold weather set in, but not often – and those trips rarely resulted in real treasures, even if they coughed up plenty of good basic reading material. As a former boss of mine was overly fond of saying, the juice simply isn’t worth the squeeze. 

Someday I’m sure it will be again, but just now I’m perfectly willing to rely on the internet to let me get my book fix either until the browsing environment gets more fun or I recover some lost motivation. It’s hard to say which of those things may happen first. Between the general fuckery of people as a group and the persistent low-level threat of plague, assuming it happens at all, could be out of order on its face. There are way worse ways to spend three days than comfortably at home.

The next long weekend…

I started the latest in my ongoing series of very long weekends at 4:00 this afternoon. My out of office message is set, my laptop is packed away, and I won’t be sparing another thought about COVID, or briefings for industry, or taskers for the next five days. It’s a decidedly good feeling. 

I have no real plans to speak of. I’m sure there will be a bit of junking and book hunting in the mix, but for tonight there’s nothing that even passes for a plan. I’ll be going as close as I ever do to playing it by ear. I’m not sure my version would pass as anyone else’s idea of spontaneity, but I’m ok with it.

I usually try to keep the blog schedule moving along without interruption during these vacation days, but as always, for the next few days I’m reserving the right not to sit down at the computer unless I’m really feeling a strong bit of motivation. I really have no idea whether I’ll be posting for the rest of the week or not. It’s a total coin toss.

Not to worry, of course. Even if I’m quiet here for a few days, there’s not much chance at all of me shutting up on Facebook or Twitter, so you can always treat yourself to a micro-rant elsewhere on your preferred social media platform.