1. Edible arrangements. Here’s a tip. If you’re going to send a “gift” that requires refrigeration to a friend, family member, or whatever, make sure that person is going to be home when it’s delivered. Otherwise the nice delivery person will annoy the dogs of your friend or family member’s neighbor and then that neighbor will end up having to rearrange 75% of the things in his own fridge to accommodate your thoughtful gift. As a general rule, your gifts should not constitute an added burden on an utterly disinterested third party.
2. The couple with the matching roller coolers. Every morning I arrive at the office at more or less the same time as a couple who seem to wear semi-matched outfits and roll identical rolling coolers across the parking lot to the building. I don’t know exactly what it is about this couple that annoys me quite so much, but it’s an automatic and visceral kind of thing. Their whole set up just feels wrong and unnatural.
3. Satellite Radio. My SiriusXM “demo” expired last week. Being a long term fan of being able to listen to the same three or four stations no matter where I drive, I logged in to my account and renewed my subscription. Only problem is for the last seven days the damned radio has showing nothing but the preview channel. By this morning, I’d completed half a dozen calls to “listener care” and at least twice that number of “refreshed signals.” I’d already made up my mind that they’d had their last call. Once the weekend rolled around and I had a few minutes to play the game, I was going to cancel the service and be done with it. Lo and behold, pulling out of the parking this afternoon the satellite receiver sprung to life as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. I’ve been a fan of the satellite radio for years, but I no longer have the patience for “services” that make me jump through hoops as part of the program. There are too many companies competing for entertainment dollars to keep shoveling cash at something that’s not dependable. Our friends beaming music down from space would probably be well served to remember that.
1. Junkies. A 17 year old addict stabbed a woman in the neck at one the county’s fine retail establishments Tuesday morning. By Tuesday night local social media pages were filled with calls to pity the poor addict. Far fewer mentioned his victim. Addiction may well be a disease but at some point little Johnny Eightball made a decision to give it a try. All the “he was raised rights” and “he is usually such a nice young mans” in the world doesn’t change the fact that his original sin was a decision not an immaculate victimhood. If Jeff were king for a day the prescription for what ails twatwaffles like young Johnny Eightball wouldn’t be zen meditation, three hots and a cot, or sympathetic understanding that’s for goddamned sure.
2. LED bulbs that “pause” before lighting up. As the 64 watt can lights in the kitchen burn out, I’m replacing them with comparable LED bulbs. Other than the living room reading lamp, these are probably the bulbs in the house that get the most daily use because I like excessive light when fiddling around in the kitchen. Mostly it’s been a happy transition to LED… except for this last one. Where all the other bulbs exactly replicate the feel of “old fashioned” filament bulbs, this latest one has a noticeable, and increasingly annoying “waiting period” before it comes on after I flip the switch. Yes, I know, it’s a minor first world problem, but seeing that I live in the first world, that’s to be expected… so now I’ll go off to Lowe’s and buy another $12 bulb in the hopes that I just got a bum the last time around.
3. Deceiving looks. There’s a tree still lying across the sidewalk and partially into the road just a few dozen yards from my driveway. To anyone driving past it would look for all intents and purposes as if I were the irresponsible homeowner who was leaving it lay there. Of course being the anal retentive jerk I am, I had a full survey done when I bought Fortress Jeff and know exactly where my responsibilities begin and end. The tree in question is without a doubt something that is squarely within the bailiwick of my neighbor to the northeast. Looks are deceiving… and just now the deception is making me look like an asshat.
Five years have come and gone since I was sitting in a West Tennessee cubicle and received a call from Mother Maryland that it was, at long last, time to come home. I will always celebrate it as one of my personal high holy days – the beginning of the end of a particularly troublesome personal and professional period otherwise known as my late twenties and early thirties.
Somehow it feels like it was a lot further away than just five years ago. The transition came with its own set of pains and problems, of course. The rental and eventual sale of a decidedly underwater house, footing the bill for dragging my gear a third of the way across the country, renting a house here sight unseen, the drug addict neighbor, the property manager who wouldn’t, and finding that the grass on the other side of the fence is still just grass no matter how green it may appear.
Every minute of that slog was worth it. It would have been worth the cost at twice the price. Even with the incumbent ups and downs, it’s one of those rarest of moments that I can look back on and say without sarcastic intent, that I regret nothing.
1. Fall foliage. I live in the woods… but not the deep woods. That’s a plan for the future. After a couple of days of wind and rain I’m reminded that I have neighbors. For the first time since mid-May I’m starting to see them again. Well, not “them” exactly, but certainly their houses. I’m deeply happy with my little plot of land, but at this time of year I’d be ok with another hundred yards – or maybe a few more miles – of trees between me and the next guy.
2. Rain is the new snow. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen any rain to speak of. I know it must be a frightening and unnatural experience for everyone. I know this because for the last two days everyone has driven like there was eight inches of new-fallen snow on the roads. If nothing else, it has served to reinforce my long-held belief that most people are idiots. As usual, though, it’s probably all my fault for having even the lowest of expectations of my the average man on the street.
3. Draftees. As the American Army, the most decisive fighting force ever fielded in history, is drawing itself down to the pre-World War II levels, the Russian president is drafting an extra 150,000 of his citizens into military service. Let that sink in for a minute. In terms of troops in active service, that will put Russia within spitting distance of parity in manpower. Figure in their increased pace of modernization and the simple fact that they don’t have to move their personnel across an ocean to get at many of the world’s current “areas of interest,” and in my humble opinion, this brave new world of our is going to look very familiar… almost like the one we left in the early 1990s. Talk about back to the future.
Setting aside the profound constitutional trouble we’d get into for depriving fellow citizens of several rights without some kind of due process, I think out friends in Holland are on to something. With a few tweaks around the margins I could get on board with Amsterdam’s proposal to round up “nuisance neighbours” and exile them into one location where they wouldn’t trouble neighbors who actually give a damn and where they could be constantly monitored by the police and social services. Admit it, you know you’ve secretly dreamed about having their neighbors hauled off for generally being bad at life as an adult.
Sure, there’s a bit of a problematic history of rounding up undesirables and throwing them in camps far away from polite society, but with a few checks and balances, I’m confident we can figure out a way to keep the system from being too abusive. Add a few claymores, a little concertina wire, and I think we can make folks very comfortable in their new shipping container homes… and if they’re not comfortable, well, at least they’ll be out of earshot so we won’t have to listen to them complaining about it.
Sometimes the best thing about being a blogger is that at those moments you have no idea what you’re going to write about, the universe drops a plum in your lap. I was just sitting down to dinner when one of my neighbors – the one who is more OCD about his lawn than I am and who I actually get along with – knocked on my back door. It seems our mutual neighbor has gotten himself into a bit of a scrape with the fine people of Douglas County, Kansas. And by “scrape,” I mean he got his ass locked up for allegedly robbing a couple of convenience stores… while allegedly using his finger as an imaginary gun. With many, many wonderful pictures of him in the stores, somehow I’m having a hard time imagining a Kansas judge or jury looking kindly on an out-of-towner allegedly doing anything other than just passing through.
The whole story is out there in the local media, but I’m not going to link to it as a modest nod towards neighborhood peace and tranquility. With that said, I hope they’re planning on giving him a nice long stay at one of the fine Kansas State correctional facilities. With those boyish good looks, I’m sure he’ll make an excellent wife for one one their lifers who’s looking for a fresh start with a new special someone.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things one of my neighbors has asked to borrow over the last fifteen months:
1. My lawn tractor
2. Gas for his lawn tractor
3. My circular saw
4. $25 cash
5. My phone (3x)
6. A cup of “dark liquor” (reason unknown)
7. Jumper cables
8. $10 cash
In fairness (and as a point of comparison), here’s the corresponding list of things I’ve asked to borrow from anyone since I moved in here at Rental Casa de Jeff:
Whoever said good fences make good neighbors was on to something there. I’m more than happy to wave and say hello or even help out in something approaching a legitimate emergency, but I don’t need to be your friend… and I certainly don’t need to be your home improvement supercenter / liquor store / ATM. Seriously, if you can’t seem to take care of your own stuff, why on earth would I think you’re going to bother taking care of mine? Feel free to keep asking, but the answer is almost always guaranteed to be no.
Honest to God, my own island lair or a 500 acre mountaintop compound with clear fields of fire, a couple thousand claymores, and plenty of concertina wire sound like better and better housing options every single day.
So the neighbor’s kids still annoy the living bejesus out of Maggie and Winston, but they are slowly starting to show a few potentially redeeming qualities too… Like when they were playing in their driveway yesterday and we had a conversation that went something like this:
Neighbor Girl 1: Your grass looks nice.
Jeff: Uhhh… Thank you.
Neighbor Girl 2: Mommy says daddy should take care of the yard like you do, Mr. Jeff.
Neighbor: Girl 2, did you just say what I think you said?
Jeff: Bwahahahahahahahaha! *and walks away*
I’m beginning to think that these kids might not be so bad after all.
I spent most of Saturday morning outside laying siege to the trees, bushes, and random foliage that kept smacking me in the face while I was cutting the grass. Sure, I could just duck, but that’s nowhere near as fulfilling as chopping off branches and making nature look you want it to look. While I was standing hip deep in the ditch obliterating a tree that had no business growing there in the first place, I heard a car pull up behind me and a door open. It’s my experience that random people stopping by for anything usually doesn’t end well and I expected a pitch about why I should come to their church or at the very least who I needed to make a donation to some cause or another.
What I ended up with was an introduction to the old dude and his wife who live diagonally across the street from me – nice people who just wanted to stop and say thanks for making the outside of the place not look like crap. Not surprisingly, he brought up the previous tenants who apparently were every bit as worthless as I imagined them to be. Not like that’s a surprise, but it’s always nice to have confirmation. Other than keeping things mowed at a reasonable length and laying down plenty of weed killer, I haven’t actually done much. I should probably be grateful to the last guy for setting the bar so low.
The old dude would be less impressed if he saw the inside of the place with its god awful drywall patches, cut-ins done but walls not painted, doorknobs missing latches, and general lack of even the most basic maintenance. I’m fixing the things I can with the tools and supplies I have on hand, but lord knows I’m not sinking a dime of my own money into this place. I just need to nurse it through the next year or two and then it will be someone else’s problem. There’s very little I can do to remedy a cheapskate landlord or lazy property management, so the least I can do while I’m here is try to prevent this place from being that house that drags down everyone else’s property values by having that nice abandoned look about it. But seriously, thanks for noticing.