What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Pulling it out of your ass. There are any number of things that you should never have to worry about pulling out of your ass – gerbils, light bulbs, the usual. If you spend enough time making the hard to do seem easy and the impossible just a touch harder than that, sooner or later people will come to expect it… and then that time when you can’t deliver there will be hell to pay. The longer I serve the bureaucracy, I realize Chief Engineer Scott wasn’t actually a miracle worker. He was an expert at pulling things out of his ass and had an unlimited pool of good luck. Most pools aren’t nearly so limitless.

2. Panhandlers. How high would you have to be to try getting money from me when I’m pumping gas? The fired and true death stare wasn’t effective, but the growled command to “step. back.” apparently got his attention. His mouth worked, trying to form words while his addled mind struggled mightily to come up with something to say and then he did finally backed away slowly. I’m not saying I would beat someone to death using the end of a running gasoline hose like a medieval flail… but I’m not saying I wouldn’t if properly provoked.

3. People. I know many of you will find this hard to believe, but I legitimately want to like people. I want to assume the best about them and hell, maybe even be friendly… and then I go out into the world and actually meet people going about their business and find myself wondering how the hell they function in society and how quickly I can get away from them and back into the peaceful, access controlled confines of Fortress Jeff. Every day that ticks by seems to leave me with that much less patience for suffering fools… and yet the sheer volume of fools that must be suffered appears to grow exponentially.

On trying to like people…

Thanks to the Facebook “On This Day” feature I saw an early meme I shared on back in 2012 that read something like “I try to like people, but they’re all so fucking stupid.” I smiled, nodded, and thought “Yep, that’s still pretty much true.

On reflection, though, I realized that statement is getting less and less true. With every day that passes I find myself not Stupid.pngeven attempting to like people. It wasn’t like I started out making a big effort on that front anyway, but frankly my compassion and understanding reserve is all but worn out. Again, not that it was particularly deep to start out, but still.

I’m just sick to death of turning in nearly every direction and seeing people making incredibly stupid life choices. Look, I’m not saying everyone needs to be an Einstein. God knows I’m never going to sit at my desk and churn out a grand unifying theory of anything. I’m tired of playing off bad things that happen as fate or just bad luck when it so very clearly is a result of a piss-poor decision someone made a few steps back.

Every day I’m reminded of the late, great George Carlin who said, “‘Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” That stupider half is out there living among us while we live with the consequences of their actions and decisions. If that doesn’t keep you up nights or put you off people completely, I have no idea what will.

As for me, I’m done smiling and nodding. I’m done trying to like people. If I look in your eyes and can’t find a spark of anything in there keeping the lights on other than habit, I just don’t have the energy to even pretend. There are public libraries in just about every town in America. The internet has given us access to very nearly the sum total of all knowledge accumulated across the vast sweep of human history. We carry that shit around on our telephones. Information is too easy to access for people to walk around just being stupid.

I no longer have the energy required to try liking stupid people. Instead of faking it from here on out, my official policy will be to glare at them and walk away.

Learning to wait…

I’ve said it before but it seems to bear repeating: If you call my desk five minutes before the end of the day there’s a good chance I’m not going to answer – a) Because there’s absolutely nothing I’m working on that can be discussed in less than five minutes and b) Because it’s just rude to delay someone who’s already put in a full day for anything less than a full blown (and legitimate) emergency. I hold the same line on email too – if the building isn’t burning down and it requires more than a yes or no answer, you’re going to wait until there’s time on the clock to provide a complete and well-reasoned response.

In case you think this is just about managing expectations at the office it really isn’t. I have no problem at all letting the phone ring at home if it’s not a convenient time to have a conversation. My Gmail box will occasionally go untended for a day or two. Hard as it is to believe sometimes Facebook posts even go unliked and messages even go unreturned if I don’t have anything of substance to add to the conversation or the time with which to attend them.

All this technology surrounding us is supposed to be a convenience, you see. It’s supposed to let us engaged on our own schedule and in our own way. Instead of using these tools to manage our schedules and actions, many seem perfectly willing to let their scheduled be managed by the tools. As much as I love my iPhone, make no mistake that it is the servant and I the master. It’s the only reasonable way I’ve ever found to even attempt keeping things in their proper perspective.

All of that’s probably just a longer than necessary way of saying don’t call or email expecting great and wonderful operational insights at 3:55 PM. You’re going to be disappointed. Along the same lines, you probably shouldn’t bother trying to reach me between the hours of 10PM and 5AM for anything, really. My ringer is off because even if there is an emergency there probably isn’t a damned thing I can do about it before the sun comes up. Even if it is an actual emergency, it’s probably best for everyone if I’m allowed to face it after a few hours of sleep anyway.

Priorities people, priorities.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Greece. What’s the problem? You ginned up a mountain of bills and now suddenly don’t want to pay because it’s too hard. It’s unfair. The big countries are picking on you. God it sounds so familiar – like exactly what happened when so many people in this country found themselves in homes they couldn’t afford “through no fault of their own.” Except see, there is fault. There is definite fault when you spend other people’s money without any reasonably expectation of ever being able to pay it back. Putting your financial house in order is painful. It sucks. All the free stuff people thought they were entitled too is suddenly not free – or not there because you can’t afford it. And the only way the economy keeps on working is if people who loan money can expect to get that money back. It’s a loan, not a gift after all. I feel ever more strongly that the US is headed in a similar direction to our Greek friends. $18 Trillion in loans aren’t going to pay back themselves – and they’re certainly not going to get paid while we continue to add more debt to the pile. If Greece’s gnashing of teeth is any indicator of the howl that will go up when the US realizes we can’t afford to be all things to all people, we’re in for one hell of a rough ride.

2. Negotiating with terrorists. According to the US government it’s now OK for our fellow citizens to negotiate with terrorists. While I won’t pretend to imagine the nightmare that is having a family member or loved one in the hands of ISIS, I can tell you that I wouldn’t want my family to be responsible for providing aid and comfort to the enemy in the form of a substantial cash donation on my behalf. What I would like, on the other hand, is for the armored fist of the most powerful nation in the world to come crashing through the terrorist’s front door in an effort to a)rescue me and b) eradicate the terrorists who believe kidnapping an American citizen will end well for them. If Option A and Option B are mutually exclusive, please feel free to exercise Option B with as much lethality as necessary to get the job done. And then drop a few more 1000-pound bombs just to stir up the dust and make the rubble bounce a bit for good measure.

3. The joys of home ownership. Don’t get me wrong, I love the house. It crossed off just about every feature I had on my list. Having been in it now for three months, though, some of its warts are showing… and by warts I’m referring to the perpetually moist basement / piss poor foundation grading and drainage / sieve-like window well combination that I’ve been fighting since spring time turned into Maryland’s version monsoon season. Between the landscape contractors looking at fixes to my own modest efforts at improving the around-the-house drainage situation trying to get a grip on the underside of this not so old house has become something of a second job. Now I know it’s mostly just a function of sealing up the window well, correcting the drainage, and adding on a secondary source of electricity to keep the pumps chugging along… but just now, with another couple of days of rain in the forecast, my patience – something never know to be in vast supply – is wearing even more thin than usual.

Making empties…

I wish I had one of those USB port in the back of your head kind if get ups that Neo had in The Matrix. If I did, I’m pretty sure the first thing I’d do is download some semblance of patience. I’ve already spent too much time here talking about basically having none of it to speak of so this won’t be a long rant. It’s not like I’m asking for infinite patience, just a little. Enough to keep me from cleaning out the fridge while I’m waiting for the weekend to start. Then again maybe the best thing to do is turn a few of those full bottles into empties and actually try to relax.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Mandatory Training. The first time we had mandatory suicide prevention training it was fine; just one of those mandatory training requirements you have to check the box on. The second time this year they mandated additional anti-suicide training, it was a grumble. And today, for the 3rd time in less than a year, we got more suicide training. OK. Message received loud and clear. Killing myself is a violation of policy, doctrine, regulation, and possibly law. As much as I appreciate the emphasis you’re trying to place on this issue, throwing multiple hundreds of thousands of people into auditoriums across the country and telling us that suicide is bad for the third time may not be as effective as some other methods you could possibly try. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy in row 27 trying not to fall asleep and drool on myself.

2. Fans. For three weeks NFL fans have been raising high holy hell about the ineptitude of the replacement refs. I suspect that within 2 minutes of kickoff in Baltimore tonight, the same fans will be complaining about the over officiousness of the “professional” refs. If there’s one thing I’ve observed from many years of being surrounded by sports fans, it’s that the officials are never, ever right… unless they’re blatantly calling the game in favor of .

3. Not Knowing. I like to think I’m educated on a fairly wide number of topics. The last week has shown that one thing I’m woefully under educated about is the basics of veterinary medicine. Honestly, I’m not sure I can tell the difference between the “I’m ready for more pain killer” whine from the “I need to go outside” whine. It may be that there isn’t actually a difference, but it would still be nice to be able to do something other than pour over hundreds of internet posts from people whose dogs have had the same surgery and distill for myself what constitutes “normal” at any stage of the post-operative game.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Waiting. Some people, God bless them, are able to sit all day waiting on something to happen. Me? Not so much. Blame it on computerization, the Internet, youth or whatever else you blame such things on, but the bottom line is I’m not a patient person. When something is supposed to happen, I want it to happen right the hell now. Maybe that’s something I should work on, buti don’t think I have the patience for that.

2. Alarm clocks. On any given weekday morning, the alarm built into my phone goes off twice. I don’t remember the last time that work me up. About ten minutes later, my normal alarm clock sounds. That one might wake me half the time. The third and last line of defense is the rediculously loud alarm I picked up from Amazon. That one is still getting me up, but it’s taking longer and longer to get my attention. Another month or two and I’ll probably be immune to that end too. What I’d really like is an alarm that wakes me consistently without needing to set three or four different clocks. Sure, it seems like overkill, but it’s barely getting the job done. Surely there’s a better way.

3. Parking garages. This is America. We drive big vehicles here. Many of us have full sized cars, trucks, and SUV’s that are not only tall, but also wide. While I completely respect your efforts to cram as many parking spaces as possible into that fancy seven story garage you built, what I’m going to need you to do is widen up those spaces a bit so I don’t have to use two of them, every time I come visit or leave a big chunk of my vehicle hanging precipitously far into the travel lane. This is really something that I shouldn’t need to mention in the country that decided the Hummer would be a good ride for in and around town.

4. Bad coffee. If you’re going to charge almost $3 for a 20 ounce cup of regular, no frills drip coffee, there’s no reason you can’t make it from legitimately good grounds. Whatever you lose in the margin will be more than made up for by people who don’t go seek out your competition for the next cup.