The interregnum…

As we all know by now I’m a devoted creature of habit. Some of them are so well worn in that I’m not sure I’d know who I am without them. Others are more malleable based on circumstances. Contrary to opinion popular in some quarters, I’m not completely inflexible on all points – though I am on a few of them to be sure.

The real trouble comes when, of necessity, one of those more ingrained habits must change. Since unwelcome change in all its myriad forms is something that must be resisted at almost any cost, migrating one of these habits towards something new and different is rarely a course of action I’ll embark on willingly. I don’t like spending that much time with a warning klaxon rattling around my head that something isn’t right. The whole idea mostly just serves to remind me of a sign a friend of mine kept in his dorm room lo those many years ago. Perched above his desk, the sign gave off the constant reminder that “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”

That seems to have become my unofficial motto across several fronts lately. My reading of history informs me of all manner of destruction/creation cycles and their near-inevitability. Mythology is filled with tales of the old giving way for the new to rise. It’s all very inspirational, of course… But that damned interregnum between one habit dying and the next taking hold tends to throw my whole neatly ordered universe temporarily out of kilter and that just sucks.

Who you want running the apocalypse…

I’ve taken a couple days to sleep on it and have concluded that the hard truth many Walking Dead fans need to face is that a year or two after civilization has collapsed, it’s guys like Negan who are most likely going to be running the show. Rick and his crew, our main protagonists, are nice enough folks, always thinking that their key to safety and survival is joining up with the next group of survivors, fortifying a prison, negotiating, and hoping for the best. Every time their hopes get dashed when someone proves to be dishonest, there’s a little bit of cannibalism, or their neighbor drives a tank through Negan.jpgtheir front door. Through it all, despite what they say, Rick’s crew seems desperate to want to believe the best about people. It’s constantly their undoing – and precisely why guys like Negan will triumph in the post-apocalypse.

Like any number of tribal chieftains of old, Negan maintains his rule and the stability of his followers through brutally enforced discipline. While this may seem abhorrent to us sitting comfortably in our homes tonight, it’s nothing new for most of human history. In fact, under the circumstances, it’s probably the group of survivors most likely to thrive in the face of the brave new world we’ve met yet in the Walking Dead universe.

Ponder for a moment if you will that Negan’s followers are highly organized and able to defend and expand their territory through better communications and tactics than those employed by Rick’s group. They’re well fed, clothed, and supplied, which indicates a relatively sophisticated economy based on the imperial model of commodity goods flowing towards the “mother country,” and finished goods and protection being furnished to the colonies. Unlike Rick, Negan doesn’t seem to shy away from his role as leader. As a result the command and control structure of his organization is very clear. He’s at the top, but he also indicated in this week’s premier that he has trusted lieutenants who he depends on. He may delight in dispensing rough justice, but his actions shouldn’t be a surprise – after all, he told our friends from Alexandria that bad behavior would be punished and then when they behaved badly he responded exactly as he said he would in order to establish a clear correlation between cause and effect.

I wouldn’t vote for Negan if he were running for president, but as a post-apocalyptic warlord, I think I’d quickly see the value of joining a group like his. This world they’ve created full of walking dead and the even more dangerous living is a violent place. The fact that violent men rise up to establish some kind of order shouldn’t surprise anyone. It was done like that in this world for a lot longer than we’ve been trying to master such societal niceties as peaceful transfers of power.

It staves off the madness…

Spend enough days in a row sitting through meetings where nothing is ever decided, writing emails that no one ever reads, and dreaming up good ideas that will never see the light of day and one might be forgiven for tending to adopt a healthy cynicism about their profession. In a bureaucracy where every cog has its own agenda and can through even the best laid plans off the rails, frankly I’m surprised when anything gets done at all. It’s practically a cause for celebration.

I suspect that’s why I spend so much of my “off” time doing things that can demonstrate a tangible result. Reading and writing are easy. Finish the book, draft a new chapter, and either way at the end point you have something to show for the effort. It’s measurable. I suspect it’s also why I throughly enjoy mowing the grass, running string trimmer, and cutting back another few feet of encroaching saplings. Adding two hours of physical work after eight hours of repeatedly banging your head against you desk probably isn’t everyone’s idea of good times… but it makes me unreasonably happy, even as it leads to increasing exhaustion.

In that one small way, I’ve carved a bit of order away from chaos. It’s not making the world safe for democracy, or curing polio, but it helps stave off the madness and that contribution shouldn’t be undervalued.

Lines, lines, everywhere there’s lines…

So, Apple… listen… you’re a big, multibillion dollar international corporation with a supply chain that wraps around the globe. So I have to ask… What asshat in your marketing and sales department decided that not offering pre-orders for your new flagship phone was a good idea? I know you want the faithful to line up and cram the stores because that’s a great PR image that every news outlet is going to cover, but let’s face it, people are going to line up regardless of whether you have preorders or not. I’ve been on both sides of launch day; waiting in line at Saddle Creek and Christiana and sitting at home waiting on FedEx. Both served me well in the past, but I always had the option.

You know I want your shiny new phone on launch day and you know I’m going to be sorely tempted to schlep over to the Apple Store and get in line, but the fact is I’m older now and less willing to put up with the jackassery of standing around in lines waiting to give people my money than I once was. It’s not that I’ve gotten any more patient. I’ve just grown increasingly intolerant of large groups of people that I can otherwise avoid. As much as I want your new toy on its first day of availability – the day that I’ve had my greasy little hands on every previous model – I think I’m going to have to ride this one out until I can have one left on my doorstep or until your supply chain catches up and I can walk into a retail store and pick one up without getting into a knife fight in the parking lot.

I wish I could point to this as a sign of becoming older, wiser, and more responsible… the reality is probably that it’s just a sign of me becoming even more of an antisocial hermit as the years roll by. Then again, maybe it’s just the same concept expressed in a different way.

Failure to communicate…

At least once a week, UPS shows up at my door with something I’ve ordered from somewhere. In all those orders I’ve never once had a problem with the delivery address showing up wrong on their website. After calls to both Apple and UPS, their website stubbornly insists that my iPhone 4S is going to be delivered to Elkton, Delaware. That’s a problem for two reasons: 1) I don’t live in Delaware and 2) There is no such place as Elkton, Delaware. The street address is right. The zip code is right. It’s just the damnable server refuses to update the state. Everything was right with my original order (yes, I checked three times to make sure the shipping address was right and even had the nice customer service people at Apple pull it up just to be sure). But somewhere between Apple and UPS we’ve apparently had a failure to electronically communicate. And I’m just paranoid enough to believe that this is going to cause a delivery delay. On any day but Friday that would be obnoxious, but correctable. In this case, delivery is scheduled on Friday so the correction wouldn’t take place until after the weekend. If you’re in any way obsessed with getting your hands on new toys at the earliest possible moment, you understand. If your phone is just another appliance, well, I don’t think I can explain it.

I did get to have a relatively nice conversation with a gentleman from UPS Air Cargo in Louisville this morning. He assures me that it’s just a glitch in the website and the actual manifest shows delivery to my actual address in Maryland. I’m mostly inclined to believe him since he rattled off my correct address before I told him what the issue was. Still, I’m now both obsessed and paranoid and that’s not a great combination of ways to spend the next three days. Maybe I’ll call tomorrow and see if I get the same story. Or I could just drive to Louisville, pound on the door, and ask them to hand it over.