Keeping standard time…

Great. It’s light at 6:30 in the morning now. Except the problem is mostly that it’s not useful light. I can’t in good conscience fire up the equipment and get some yard work done. You know, the way I could 5 days ago when I had that hour of light in the evenings when I got home from work. Being able to use it for something constructive is what makes daylight worthwhile.

“Oh,” they say, “but it will be light outside when you wake up and it’s more in line with natural sleep cycles.”  That’s spoken like someone who has for sure never woken up at 4:30 a day in their lives. The only way it’s going to be light when I wake up is if we start keeping time with Bermuda.

Even if that wasn’t the case, being light when I wake up or while I drive to work is an utter and complete “so what?” Since I sit in a room without windows three days a week anyway, it could be pitch black all day long and not significantly improve or detract from the day at all. Resuming Standard Time, however, is effectively stealing a useful hour of evening light and appending it to the morning doesn’t improve my life in any way. In fact, it makes it worse.

It boggles my mind that people want to maintain Standard Time all year long. I’m going to need a serious explanation of why darkness at 5PM is advantageous in any way beyond coddling layabouts who want to stay in bed half the morning. If they ever accomplish it, the neighbors are going to have to get really understanding about crack of dawn grass cutting and leaf blowing on Saturday mornings.

You’ll never convince me that Standard Time is anything other than an abomination.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The middle of the damned night. Months ago, I signed up for the 4-hour in person class I need to sit through in order to apply for a Utah non-resident carry permit. I did it fully knowing that the class was scheduled from 5-9 PM on a weekday. I know it won’t seem like it to a normal, reasonable person, but let me assure you that to me, stumbling out of the training facility at 9 PM on a Wednesday felt like it might as well have been two in the damned morning. It’s over, finished, and done with and I now have all the required paperwork to file a request with our friends in the state of Utah, but it’ll take me a week for my internal clock to figure out what the hell happened and why we’re so far off schedule.

2. Misplaced expectations. Here’s something more people should probably know about me: I’m not going to chase you. I don’t care what you “bring to the table.” I don’t care how good you look in a sundress. I don’t really even care if you do that thing I like. I’ve arrived at a stage in life where I have been perfectly happy before I meet someone and I’ll be perfectly happy when they’ve departed the scene. I might feel bad for about ten minutes, but then I’m going to mix a gin and tonic, flip open a book, dispense some ear scratches, and be entirely content. If you go away expecting that I’ll chase you, good luck and godspeed in your future endeavors. We’re done here.

3. I’m cynical and jaded and don’t make much of an attempt to hide it. Give me enough time and I can find the lead lining in every silver cloud. That said, I’ve worked jobs where bosses were actively trying to make life more difficult – truly the kind of guys (and they’ve all been guys) who seemed to just want to watch the world burn. I can’t attribute that kind of malice to the current crop of immediate bosses. Some of them I might even be willing to concede are well intentioned. That doesn’t mean the decisions forced on them from higher, the general working conditions, and the ongoing efforts to suck what little bit of joy you can muster in cubicle hell out of the room aren’t conspiring to turn morale into a smoking crater somewhere beneath what use to be an already very low bar. I’ll do all the things on time and to standard, because that’s the devils bargain I struck in exchange for the money, but if you’re expecting a smile on my face and a song in my heart while it’s happening, you’ve come to the wrong place.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Blue Falcons. From time immemorial there have been Blue Falcons. They’re the kind of people who would step over their own sainted grandmother or cheat their best friend if they thought it was a chance to get ahead. The ranks of the great green machine are thick with them to some greater or lesser degree. The worst of them, the ones who create a lot of smoke and heat but not much light, are the staff schmucks who think they’ll gain the barest marginal advantage by selling out someone down the hall over an issue that could have been remedied with an email. Being a buddy fucker isn’t a good look, friends. Even if you gain a nominal advantage temporarily, the taint will be on you till the end of your days.

2. Weekends. The problem with the weekend is whole vast swaths of the population are off at the same time. I found myself unavoidably out on Saturday afternoon to do some business with places that don’t obligingly open their doors before 7 AM. To my never-ending horror, there were people everywhere. Traffic backed up at every light. It’s goddamned nightmare fuel. Maybe I need to find a gig where I can take two sequential weekdays off instead of Saturday and Sunday… because weekends are absolutely not relaxing when I have to subject myself to the crowd.

3. There’s been a wave of “climate protests” across Europe. The most recent spate of “protestors” feature assholes damaging and destroying art across the continent who rank right alongside the Taliban scum who blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas or the ISIS fucks who destroyed the Roman theater at Palmyra. At best they’re petulant little shits throwing a temper tantrum because their ideas can’t draw support on their own merits… but in my estimation they’re domestic terrorists who should be delt with as such.

Darkness, both figurative and literal…

Today was an office day. I like to think it’s also the day when we reached peak in-office fuckery. In order to understand why that’s the case, I should probably provide a little bit of background information.

When you have a billion dollar office complex, there’s always things that need fixing. It’s an issue probably multiplied because the whole thing was slapped together by the low bidder. Keeping up with general repairs and preventative maintenance given the perennial lack of money and personnel for those things is often more something done with a lick and a promise rather than really getting after the problems and making permanent fixes.

Today was supposed to be an exception to the rule. In order to make this particular fix, though, the whole damned building allegedly had to fall off the local power grid. Those of us serviced by the emergency generator would still have some limited power to run laptops and a few other odds and ends, but we’d be sitting in the dark while doing it since the overhead lights don’t rate having backup power. That’s not necessarily an issue elsewhere, but since the room we’re in is a windowless box anyway, how much natural light streams into the rest of the building from outside doesn’t really matter.

This “planned power outage” was scheduled to start at 7:30 and last four hours. By 1:00 this afternoon, the whole thing seemed decidedly suspect. A half an hour later or so, it was revealed that although it had been publicized as a planned outage, it turns out there wasn’t going to be one in order to do whatever work they were supposed to do. It was a big overture for a little show. You might think that planning, scheduling, and communication would be an integral part of life in the bureaucracy… but in most cases you’d be wrong. It’s more like a never ending game of the blind leading the blind.

Even though the lights didn’t go out this time, I had to wonder if all this wasn’t an allegory for the whole damned organization. Sitting in the dark waiting for stuff to happen is pretty much the definitive experience of being a cog in Uncle’s great machine… even on those days when the dark is only figurative rather than literal.

Bathroom report supplemental…

Two weeks ago, the plumbers that installed the works for my new bathroom were back to correct the mysterious problem of the shower handle that wouldn’t stay attached no matter how much or often the set screw was tightened down. To my mind it still feels flimsy, but to their credit it has stayed attached after their visit. If it breaks again, I’ll surely just call my own choice of plumbers to get after it rather than the guys who are subcontracted to the builder who did the renovation work.

The repair work for the handle involved some disassembly, a lot of fiddling around with the valve and stem, and reassembly to something that gave all appearances of working correctly.

About a day after that work was done, however, I noticed a steady, slow drip from the shower head. I’m not saying the two are necessarily connected, but one started immediately after the other was “fixed,” so I do have my suspicions.

I notified the plumbers that there was an issue a week ago today. So far it’s been radio silence. I just assume that’s going to mean yet another round of getting the prime contractor involved (again) in order to get anything done and the glaciated pace of everything involved in the last half of putting this bathroom together. I suspect the only reason he’s even remotely interested is his tile guy remains on the hook to come in and tweak a little bit of slope around the shower drain… which can’t happen until the steady trickle of water is stopped and they’ve got a nice dry floor to work with.

Truly this is the project without fucking end.

I’m pretty sure it’s a racket…

Tomorrow will start the first of a series of various doctor visits and lab appointments that I really had been hoping would somehow magically fall off my calendar. I’m sure they’re all very important and will reveal many interesting and entertaining things, but it’s a level of shit to do and sick leave I don’t want to burn off that’s just uninspiring.

A month or two ago I got myself an endocrinologist, who seems nice enough, but is determined to build her own history rather than just going on the eleven years of records I sent over from Johns Hopkins. So, over the next six to eight weeks, I’ve got multiple appointments lined up for basic blood work, thyroid testing, pituitary testing, a “nutrition assessment,” and one or two other things I’ve got noted as “Endo Appointment – UNK” on the calendar. I assume they’ll tell me what I’m there for. At this point, it only feels like I’m missing tests for color blindness and hearing.

The good news, I suppose, is as far as I know there’s nothing new actually “wrong” with me. The doc didn’t appear alarmed and used phrases like “establish a baseline.” Since I feel fine, my numbers are basically hanging around where they have been for a decade, and they didn’t immediately throw me in the hospital to conduct these tests, I’m proceeding from the assumption that this is either a) standard procedure for bringing a new patient into the practice or b) an unsophisticated scam to bleed me for copays while charging Blue Cross a small fortune. Either one feels entirely possible at this point – and both feel like some kind of a racket.

Now that the bathroom is in spitting distance of being done, I thought maybe this would be the time to get back to the series of dermatologist appointments I paused in the spring. Turns out that was wildly optimistic. Maybe I’ll see him again in November… assuming there isn’t some other ridiculous thing that comes up between now and then.

The last week wasn’t great…

So, the last week wasn’t great times. Personally and professionally there were a lot of moving parts that never quite meshed among themselves or with each other.

Monday and Tuesday I worked from home and all was well, or at least it was well until the storms rolled through, trees fell over, and grid power crapped out and took my access to the internet along with it. No internet means no working from home. Which was a problem because Wednesday was a day where the general contractor was making a big push to get a lot of work done and I needed to be home. Chalk it up to an unplanned day off while the bathroom contractors did their work using generator power. At least someone was getting some work done.

By Thursday morning power and internet were back, but I couldn’t log in to my work computer. After six hours of sitting around waiting for the help desk to get back to me, I was duly informed of the reason why I couldn’t sign in. It seems I was delinquent at completing mandatory annual cyber security training and had been unceremoniously expelled from the network until I took the class, sent in my certificate, and genuflected six times in the direction of the IT office.

Under normal circumstances none of those things would be more than an inconvenience, but there’s a catch. Because of course there’s a catch. Because of reasons, this training can’t be completed from a personal computer. I had to be on the official network, which means I had to schlep in to the office and use someone else’s machine. That’s great, of course, except last week was a steady parade of general contractors and painters trying to wrap up my bathroom remodel. They had full days scheduled on Friday and Monday. With so many more or less unknown elements coming and going at different hours, leaving the house for any length of time just wasn’t something I was willing to do.

The net result between weather and home improvement was burning off three unplanned days of vacation time last week. Adding another 24 hours to the 64 hours of leave I’ve already burned this year to mostly hang out at the house while other people do work. It doesn’t feel like a great way to take the lion’s share of your yearly vacation days.

Yes, I still have a mountain of combined annual and sick leave on the books. If I don’t take any more vacation time, other than what’s already have scheduled, I’ll still carry over the maximum amount allowed, but also means facing the next five months with no impromptu days off. That feels… stifling. I have grave doubts about whether I’ll be able to pull it off no matter how my good intentions.

The Bathroom Report: Day 26

After pissing away 14 days waiting for the county, we’re back in business. My crew of two has been here the last two days, patching holes, closing up the walls, and generally getting everything set to install the shower pan, lay in the heated floor, and start working through a small mountain of tile.

Heating the floor was one of my non-negotiable items – one of those things I’d have blown up the project without. With the master bathroom being as far from the furnace as it’s possible to be and still stay under roof, the room never quite gets warm. During heating season, the living room may be toasty, the master bedroom is comfy enough, but no matter how hard the furnace is working, the bathroom at the end of the house has never been anything but cold. That obviously won’t be an issue with Bathroom 2.0. Depending on how successful it is in the bathroom, it’s an option I’d like to look hard at when it’s time to replace the flooring in the currently carpeted sunroom.

I was forced, thanks to design oversight early in the process, to make one trade away this week. Since I was determined that the shower niche should centered on the wall instead of offset, I had to give up my heated towel rack. There was no way to mount it where it needed to be that wouldn’t have resulted in drilling directly into the back of the niche. I hated losing that little feature, but spending the next dozen or more years looking at an off-center niche would have made me far twitchier over time than continuing to be subjected to the indignity of room temperature towels. 

Seeing that the ceiling had been closed in, I asked “innocently,” if there was a plan to replace the vast sea of blown insulation that had come down when they opened it up. The sheepish look from the project leader told me that I probably wasn’t supposed to notice/ask about that. It’s not mentioned in the contract, so I’m sure I’ll get a change order and bill for it, but losing every bit of heat I put into the floor directly through uninsulated sheetrock in the ceiling feels like a dumb idea. Whatever it costs to rent an insulation blower for half a day will be worth it.

For all the good news this week, I’ve had to come to terms with the original project schedule being hopelessly blown. In fact, the original plan called for wrapping everything up next week. Well, everything except the glass panel for the shower that’s allegedly going to have an additional 3-6 week lead time from when they get the final measurements. The schedule might be blown and it may be well into July or August before I can actually use the shower, but I couldn’t help but notice that the pile of material and supplies stacked in my bedroom is dramatically less than it was at the beginning of the week. There’s visible progress and I couldn’t be happier to see it. 

The Bathroom Report: Day 12

It’s day 12 of the master bathroom remodel.  Plumbing and electrical rough in are complete. It’s also the second full business day of no work happening because we’re waiting on the county inspector to sign off on what’s been done so far.

I’m sure building inspectors do some kind of important work, but at the moment they’re at the very top of my shit list for being the reason there hasn’t been any forward progress on this project in two and a half days. Currently there isn’t even a date specified when the fine people from the county building will grace me with their presence. 

My enthusiasm for this project is, just now, at low ebb. The notion that the government should have a vested interested in when it’s ok to go ahead and put up drywall and stary laying tile in my bathroom would feel a bit farcical if it wasn’t so damned frustrating. Paying for the privilege of being hamstrung by slow-as-Moses county inspections is made all the more insulting because I’ve had to pay for the privilege of pulling the permits in the first place.

I’m a professional practitioner of the art and science of the bureaucracy. I know there’s nothing for it but to endure the process… but don’t for a moment think that I’ll be doing it with joy in my heart. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Return to work. I’m starting to see emails pinging around discussing the plan to “return to work.” What they’re really talking about is bringing people back to the office, which, if you’ve been paying attention for the last two years is not synonymous with “returning to work.” I won’t speak for anyone else out there, but for me, work has been work and the geographic area I’ve occupied while doing it has made effectively no difference in the end product I’ve churned out. Frankly, calling it “return to work” strikes me as wildly insulting. If you’ve got a shitbird who doesn’t do anything in the office, you’ll have a shitbird who won’t do anything while working from home. If you find you have a bunch of people sitting around not doing a damned thing, what you’ve got is a management and supervision problem, not a “working from home” problem. Of course that’s not the kind of answer that will satisfy those who are obsessed with seeing asses in cubicles. 

2. Failure to plan. So, here’s the thing… If some tells you that they need Thing A by the 6th in order for Thing B to happen by the 12th, you really don’t have any standing to act surprised when you send Thing A in on the 12thand Thing B cannot simultaneously happen on that day. That’s not how this works. It’s not how it should work. When there have been monthly and then weekly warnings of the dates involved over the last six months, you’ll forgive me, I hope, if I’m not overwhelmed by feeling like I need to jump through my own ass. I feel like there’s a very telling old saying about your failure to plan not being an emergency for other people that’s very pertinent here.

3. Situational awareness. It costs absolutely nothing to pay attention to what’s going on around you. It’s a freebie and I have no idea why so many people insist on not taking advantage of it. In the approximately 14.4-mile round trip from home to physical therapy today, I had to take evasive action three times to avoid being driven into by another driver. There’s the truck speeding out of the shopping center aisle into my travel lane without looking, the car who decided to drive in through a one-way exit, and the minivan who was fully in my lane coming around a turn on a winding country road. The only reason I avoided two T-bones and a head on today as because I happened to have just a touch of goddamned awareness of anything happening outside my own vehicle.