Neighborhood watch (or A healthy dose of paranoia)…

© 2015 Steel City Corp.

© 2015 Steel City Corp.

Picture it: Ceciltucky. Early Morning. The sun just kissing the tops of the stately oaks and maples lining our exurban streets…

Near the exit of our happy little subdivision, I passed a car coming inbound. That’s not so unusual in and of itself. Based on my observation of the neighborhood over the last six weeks, though, it’s the kind of beater that definitely didn’t look at home here. Still, there are plenty of those in the county. I’d be crazy to think one or two didn’t lurk on our streets. Despite that, it just didn’t feel right.

These are all snap judgements I’m making in the time it takes our two vehicles to close a 100 yard gap at 20 miles an hour. In passing, I may or may not have shot the opposing driver the stink eye, but for sure I made a mental note of the car’s tag number and then watched as it grew smaller in the distance.

For a moment at the intersection I pondered pulling a u-turn just to satisfy my own curiosity… and to be positioned to call the police when the driver sooner or later did something felonious.

At the last second, just before my tires brushed around the median, I saw the plastic wrapped newspaper sail out the car’s passenger window… and promptly felt like a horse’s ass for being a judgmental prick. And for mentally convicting the guy up before the crack of dawn delivering papers.

There’s a lesson there, somewhere. “See something, say something” is a good tag line – but given my experience it seems it could also be helpful to know what it is you’re looking at before firing off half cocked.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Paid subscription to online “newspapers”. Um. No. I’m not paying for content that’s free elsewhere. If I were to pay for access, I would expect the content to be advertisement free, but since you’re not going to do that, I’ll keep my cash right where it is. I don’t mind paying for pay-wallservices and I don’t mind targeted advertising, but I’m not generally going to be willing to pay for the privilege. There’s nothing in the Cumberland Times-News, Baltimore Sun, or Washington Post that I really need to read, so instead of paying them for the service, I end up using news aggregator sites, blogs, and alternative media, which further reduces ad revenue for the newspapers, which further harms their business model. It’s some death spiral they’ve tucked themselves into.

2. Small talk. Not surprising for a guy who writes as a hobby/inspirational career, I don’t consider myself much of a talker. Most things I have to say tend to come across better in writing anyway, although that’s not really the point. Maybe it’s a social failing on my part, but I don’t like small talk. I don’t want to engage in it. If I’m not showing the least interest in your monolog about the week you’ve had, please take the hint that I legitimately don’t have any interest in the conversation. That should be your cue to back away slowly and let me get back to doing something that’s nominally productive. I’m happy to talk when something needs to be said, but idle chatter just for the purpose of having something to say isn’t my style. It’s never going to be my style. And if you force it on me repeatedly, I’ll consider you an irredeemable asshat and proceed to ignore you as much as possible, while seething silently inside because it’s considered bad form to punch you in the throat.

3. The New Friday. It’s finally New Friday here, which roughly translated means on this first week of furlough, it’s officially furlough eve. While I usually await time off with great anticipation, I’ve been sitting here ticking off the list of things I wouldn’t mind getting done around here. That’s good. I like having lists and like checking things off of them even more. Then, of course, the practical implication of why I have this abundant free time occurred to me and made most of the checklist a moot point. Since getting productive things done generally seems to cost money, well, let’s just say I’m sitting here looking at the first of what will probably be eleven remarkably unproductive weekends. Maybe it’s time to sit down and start the editorial and design work on the 2013 edition of the What Annoys Jeff this Week eBook. At least that’s more or less free entertainment.

Hometown boy makes good (or possibly evil)…

It’s not the post I had planned for this evening, but it always seems best to strike while the iron is hot. I’d like to thank the Cumberland Times News for picking up my press release and giving this hometown boy a little bit of publicity today. I’m not quite sure if I’ve “made good” or not, but if nothing else I like to think I’ve “made interesting.” It’s been my experience thus far in life that interesting trumps good on most occasions.

CTN Article - May 17, 2013If you’re looking at the print edition, the article is right there in three short columns on page 2C below the fold. I’ll take all the help I can get and I appreciate them helping me get out the word.

Apparently I’m a slice of life… Who knew?

It’s not a fad…

When I walked into the Toyota dealership’s waiting room this morning I took a quick lookie-loo at the dozen or so people sitting there trying not to make eye contact with one another. I’ve known for years that I’d be more or less lost without my iPad, but what I saw in that room legitimately surprised me. I counted two laptops, five iPads, one Kindle Fire, one Nook, one Android tablet of unspecified origin, one old guy reading an actual dead tree newspaper, and one lone soul actually watching whatever Saturday morning kid’s drivel they were showing on television. So out of a dozen people, eight were fully engaged with their tablets. Two years ago sitting in another Toyota dealership waiting for my truck my iPad was a curiosity and garnered plenty of questions. This morning, they were the rule rather than the exception. And that’s when I became well and truly convinced that the tablets aren’t going to be an electronic fad, but a legitimate way of the future.

Boo-friggin-hoo…

The USA Today is the ash heap of American print journalism. Unfortunately, it’s a large ash heap and nearly unavoidable if you spend any time in a hotel. Yesterday’s business section dedicated a good portion of the front page and the entire second page feature to the “plight” of workaholics in the United States. According to the article, “about 60% of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours a week…” Let’s stop right here and do some quick analysis… I mean, is anyone surprised that those individuals between the ages of 25-34 making more than $75,000/year and those over 35 and up making more than $100,000 per year spend more than 50 hours a week at work? Maybe I’m the only one who noticed the general trend that the more I work, the more I make. That was true when I was flipping burgers at McDonald’s and it’s true now that I have a nice cushy desk job. My point, I suppose, is how the hell can anyone be surprised that income is related to how much someone works? Is this really news to anyone who has spent any time thinking about ways to make more money?

The other aspect of the article that raised my hackles was the “high-earning individuals” complaining that they have had to sacrifice personal time and relationships because of work or that they don’t get enough sleep. Know what? That’s a choice you made in order to become a high-income individual, my friend. No one is making you work 60 billable hours per week. If it’s too much for you to deal with, step off the fast track so you can spend more time at the kid’s soccer games. Bottom line is that you make the choice to work in a high pressure workplace. The trade off is that maybe you will get passed over for that next promotion or maybe you’ll have to adjust your lifestyle to meet your new income. Bitch and complain about long hours all you want, I know I do. But don’t try to pass it off as some big, bad employer tethering you to your desk with wireless chains. Take some responsibility for your own actions and make the change if you don’t think you can hack it with the big boys.