Asking…

People have a certain way of asking things that isn’t so much about getting permission as it is about telegraphing what they plan on doing. The thoughts of the person being asked are entirely secondary, because even when the answer is no, they assume that the answer is really yes, because that’s the answer they want to hear.

Most people are polite. They’ll let themselves be bullied into doing something that they don’t want or aren’t able to do just to avoid offending the person asking the question. I’m as guilty of going along to get along as anyone else. Sometimes putting up a fight just isn’t worth it.

On the other hand, sometimes the fight is that important. In those cases, I believe in standing my ground. I won’t be bullied, guilted, or otherwise manipulated into giving the wrong answer just because that’s the one someone wants or thinks that they somehow are entitled to hear.

There’s a long and wide stubborn streak running through my family and I’m willing to put up my share of that streak against all comers.

Zero point zero…

Let me be among the very first to say I can admit bad decisions when I make them. My idea to kick off an August AMA was met with a resounding silence zero point zero.jpgfollowed by the distant womp womp of a sad trombone. Level of interest: Zero point zero. That’s ok. The sheer volumes of topics around here that never get past the idea stage is staggering so it’s just one more aborted notion on the pile.

Of course if there’s no one out there feeding me ideas, that means I’m back to relying on my own devices. After compiling a couple of thousand posts, I guess you can say that I’m ok with that. It’s not exactly a new thing. I’m just going to proceed from the assumption in this case that silence implies consent and that I should continue doing what I’m doing.

So, you may be asking, what does that mean? Well, it means you’ll be sure to see more stupid things that happened at the office, a bit of commentary about the news of the day, and whatever else happens to catch my interest in the moment. After so many posts I’m finding it’s nearly impossible not to tread some of the same ground, but I’m finding it entertaining to look at how my thinking has evolved over time. All things considered it’s not a bad way to run a joint.

What’s on your mind?

About once a year, but on no actual specific schedule I like to throw open the doors here at jeffreytharp.com and let you tell me what’s on your mind. No, I’m not asking you to click, or share, or forward to 10 friends to prevent the ghost in the machine from deleting all your porn links, but I am offering up the chance for each and every one of you to set the agenda for a little while. I usually do this kind of thing when it feels like my own topics are getting a little stale and it’s safe to say looking back over the last few months’ worth of posts, I get the distinct impression that the day job is getting way too much time inside my head. Thanks to the power of social media and the vast reach of this blog (you know, 20-60 people per day), I’ve got a chance to set out of my head for a little while and stretch my legs – or more aptly, my fingers.

So, you may be asking yourself, what are the ground rules? There really aren’t any. Want to know my thoughts on a topic I haven’t talked about? Ask. Want a deeper dive on something I’ve only tangentially touched upon? Let me know. Want to hear more about dogs and less about work? Tell me. Have an unanswered question about that one time I did “this” when I clearly should have done “that?” It’s your chance to get the straight dope from the horse’s mouth… or horse’s ass, I suppose, depending on your particular point of view.

Now for the fine print: While I will provide an answer to every question asked, I do reserve the right to “vague up” some details that could be incriminating for me or embarrassing for others. I will, however, provide the straight dope answer directly to the questioner in these cases. All questions will be answered in the order in which they were received, or the order in which I feel like answering them. Scheduling really depends on the day. I will lead off each AMA response by crediting the asker, by name, link to their blog, twitter, etc as appropriate unless they have requested to ask anonymously.

So now, it’s all up to you. What’s on your mind?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Bagged salad. I need a steady supply of fresh “exotic” greens to keep the resident tortoise healthy and happy. The most convenient way to procure these greens is usually by picking up a bag-o-salad since I’m more focused on variety than buying in bulk. What I end up with half the time, though is a slimy gelatinous mass in my crisper drawer – often before I’ve even opened the bag. There’s got to be a better way to package this stuff that doesn’t leave it turned into a bag of green, foul smelling water the minute it leaves the supermarket.

2. The next question. Most people are OK at asking the question. What they generally suck at is asking the next question or the one after that. Most people are crap when it comes to really drilling down through an issue and getting at real causes. The surface answer is usually the easy one – the one that doesn’t offend anyone or hurt any feelings. Drilling down into the what and why tends to be invasive and means putting more noses out of joint and occasionally making life uncomfortable. Go ahead and be the person who make things uncomfortable now and then. You’ll be amazed at what you can find out.

3. Leftovers. I usually like leftovers but I’m in a rut at the moment. The last few weeks I’ve made my traditional big Sunday dinner and then a pot of soup on Monday. My logic was that it would give me plenty enough to ensure non-sandwich lunches and minimal cooking the rest of the week. I’m coming to the unhappy realization that even as much of a creature of habit as I am, I can’t eat the same two meals four four days in a row. It’s really kind of a disappointment, because it was a wonderful time saving plan… which seems to have lots a lot of points in execution.

Posts on demand…

Since this blog has taken on the feeling of a full time discussion of the trials and tribulations of home buying, I’m going to fall back on an a tried and true method of ginning up some new ideas for those periods when my brain is churning through some house related issue about which you likely have little to no actual interest.

That’s right! For a limited time only I’m opening the request line and offering up my take on the topic or topics of your choice.

I won’t make an “I’ll answer everything” promise as there are still a few bits of life I don’t think belong on the internet, but for the most part the field is wide open to your ideas – so go ahead and leave a comment, send me a message on Facebook, a direct message on Twitter, email, text, of whatever method you prefer. I always like these little exercise because they get me outside whatever is going on in my head at any given moment. Hopefully that keeps things a little more interested for everyone out there, too.

So yeah, go ahead and help me help you, ok?

August: By Request…

It’s been a while since I’ve opened up the request lines around here. With July rolling to a close, the summer doldrums well in place, and realizing that I can’t write about sequester and furlough every day and expect 99% of you to keep reading, it seems like as good a time as any to let someone else do a bit of the heavy lifting involved in topic selection.

11182-i-love-question-markThe rules are simple and straightforward:

1. You pose a question or identify a topic of your choice. Be ruthless, I’m looking for a challenge. Just don’t ask about math. I don’t do math.

2. I carefully hand craft a response and post it on jeffreytharp.com for your amusement.

I’m tempted to say that nothing is off limits, but there’s not a chance in hell that I’m giving you jerks passwords or account information just because you were froggy enough to ask for it. With a very few limitations, though, the gloves are off so feel free to pick your topics and ask your questions with reckless abandon.

I’ll keep the request line open for the entire month of August (or until I get tired of it), so the sooner you leave me a comment, the sooner I can get on with the serious work of writing a sarcastic response.

Guesswork…

We’ve had three successive meetings this week about the exact same topic – Which 10-12 people are “essential” to continue operating in an emergency even if that means they must work from a fallback location somewhere outside the commuting area. Also of topic: Are we calling things the correct name? – Crisis Action versus Crisis Management. Continuity of operations versus relocation. Telework versus alternate workplace – but what no one is talking about is how they intend to pay for any of it or where people might reasonably be expected to go. Which is all well and good until someone actually wants to put their plans, and I use that term loosely, into action.

What I’m guessing will happen at that point is 75% of people who you previously decided are essential are going to be launched to the four winds trying to find safe shelter for their families or themselves, trying to keep their home from being overrun by floodwater or looters, or will just plain decided they want to go somewhere else when the excrement intersects with the ventilator. Fact is that you can give people whatever title you want, but you can’t make them do much of anything once they’re outside the four walls. That’s one of the perks of being a civilian instead of a soldier.

Until you can actually start answering some of the hard questions, good luck in trying to nail things down how anything might actually works in a worst case scenario. What you’re doing is not planning, it’s charitably described as guesswork.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.