What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Politics in 2019. Someone told me this week that I should be “open minded” and read up on the ten or so leading Democratic primary candidates, suggesting that I might even like what I found there. Hey, I’m all for open mindedness and considering a wide variety of information in my decision making process, but the simple fact remains that as long as whoever is ultimately the Democratic candidate for president is once the primaries shake out is standing on a platform that supports massive tax increases to support “free” stuff for everyone, unchecked creeping socialism, abrogation of the Second Amendment, unchecked illegal immigration, and hollowing out the national defense establishment, there’s just not much in a candidate left for me to get behind. I’m not about to give up one four decades of slightly right of center positions because “orange man bad” is the best argument you’ve presented.

2. Failure to sleep deeply. Over the last few months I’ve gotten attuned to waking up at the first sound of a dog peeing in a crate a few steps away from my bed. It hasn’t been a regular occurrence, but has happened often enough that my brain has apparently gotten attuned to it. Under normal circumstances, I can sleep through a small war taking place in the next room. I have a feeling that this new skill of mine, along with what I can only presume is a much lighter sleep, is directly responsible for my increasing level of what can probably best be described as “hostile lethargy.”

Other than linear thought. I admit it, I’m a linear thinker. I think and express myself best in neatly ordered, structured parts and pieces. It’s the systematic way of doing things. The problems arise when I bang directly up against systems that were not designed – or at least don’t behave in – a linear manner… let us just say for instance, a web-based tracking tool that arbitrarily changed the numbers it assigns to each task it’s tracking, which makes using the basic search function of the site nothing more than a roll of the dice. I’m sure it was a good idea to someone somewhere, but it’s the kind of tinkering that takes an already pretty inelegent system and makes it downright unpleasant.

Powers of procrastination…

I don’t talk much about it because I’ve never considered it one of my finer qualities, but truth be known I have world class powers of procrastination. All those powers are currently being employed to distract me from pitching a wild, no way he’ll take it, ultra-lowball offer at the owner of one of the houses I looked at last night. Despite it’s rather quirky master bathroom and my natural aversion to home owner’s associations I’m having a bit of a flirtation with this place.

After getting word back through my agent this afternoon that the seller would “really like to get an offer and was willing to make considerable concessions,” I’ve been hard pressed to continue resisting the temptation. It’s a night of trying to remember that the place has been on the market for 2/3 of a year already and doesn’t seem likely to go anywhere in the next week, that even if it does something that’s just as charming will be along, and that even at it’s reduced price it’s a budget stretcher.

I’m procrastinating… with purpose. If I look around for another couple of weeks and this place is still sitting around, it seems to me that I’d be in a stronger negotiating position – especially since the only thing I stand to lose is something that was never mine anyway. For now, I’m just going to let it ride.

Trip Report – House Hunting Day #1

Saturday was House Hunting trip #1. There locations were on the menu – I’ve affectionally named these properties The Tub, Hill Climb, and Suicide Exit, respectively.

The Tub was a nice enough Cape Cod with 2 and 2. Needed some paint, some stain on the deck, and someone who knew something about yard work to take the place with a firm hand. I could have made it work well enough. The emphasis there was on “could.” Then there was the issue of the namesake “tub” in the upstairs bathroom – a tub that I can only think was ordered using “how big a jetted tub can we squeeze up the steps” as a planning factor. Not that I’m opposed to large jetted tubs. I’m just opposed to them when all other “conveniences” of the privy are relegated to afterthoughts and I’d need to trek downstairs and to the other side of the house every morning just to find a shower. Pass.

Hill Climb looked promising… on the map. I believe it was labeled as “on a bluff overlooking a creek.” What the description left out was that you’d have to have 4 wheel drive and willingness to follow a 30% grade dirt track to reach the house. Probably OK in the summer, but anything worse than a good frost would leave you stranded indefinitely. Pass.

Suicide Exit. Ah, the most alluring of the three potentials I wandered through yesterday. Curb appeal to spare, privacy, and a long stretch of creek in the back that eventually turns into the Elk River. It was exceptional – the kind of place I would buy if I were settling in to look for a place to fade into the twilight. Sadly, the musty smell of leeching water in the basement and damned near killing myself trying to back out of a blind driveway onto a winding country road are not insignificant or inexpensive issues to overcome. It’s a shame, really, because it was the kind of quirky post-war house I really like. For now I’m keeping it on the list because I’d really like to see the place when spring comes to Ceciltucky. For now, though, it’s a pass.

So ends the first day of house hunting. I’ll try to hit three more tomorrow afternoon if the light holds out.

In case you’re wondering, yes there are pictures, but I’m not feeling up to stripping out the geotagging information, so for the time being you’ll be forced to rely on your imaginations. It’ll be good for you. It’s how we use to do things in the olden days.

Information overload…

The problem with the internet is it puts every little thing you want to know right at your fingertips. Sure, that’s also the very best part of the internet, but that’s not the side of the coin I’m dealing with just now. In the opening stages of House Search 2015, I’m finding some decent places – or at least places to start… but then my damned inquisitive mind starts to wander.

It wanders to issues of property tax and leads me to the state government websites. It wanders to issues of boundaries, zoning, and planned nearby development which leads me to the county planning website. It skips towards flooding and hazard mitigation which leads me to FEMA’s notoriously inaccurate maps. And then there are the pictures – The fuzzy ones taken by the realtors and then on to the satellite imagery, bird’s eye views shot from airplanes, and Google’s evil car cam. As a side note, Google has not yet reached many the back roads of Ceciltucky. I find it oddly comforting that they actually don’t know everything.

I know more or less what I’m looking for in a house. I’ve moved enough to know what I like, what I don’t, and the fact that it’s all one enormous compromise in order not to totally blow the budget. I suppose it’s time to bring on a professional to help me narrow the scope a bit. From what I gather the good ones make pretty decent coin for sifting through the data I’ve been trying to manage on my own for the last few weeks.

I have to keep telling myself it would be a shame to just hand over their commission without really putting them through their paces to earn it.

A total slut…

For the last few weeks, one particular phrase keeps popping up on the list of terms that people search for when they end up finding my blog on Google. That phrase: Hot Lesbian Cheerleader.

I can only imagine how disappointed they are when they click in and see that, in fact, http://www.jeffreytharp.com has very little do do with that particular fetish. As much of a pity as that is, I’m glad they stop by from time to time. When it comes to visits, hit counts, and clicks, I’m happy to be a total slut. I’m just happy to see the counter going up, regardless of why they happen to be here. Maybe that makes me a bad blogger, but to paraphrase Eric Cartman, it’s my sexy blog and I’ll do what I want.

For those of you who stopped by hoping for hot lesbian cheerleaders, yeah, I’m sorry about that. Clearly you were lured here under false pretenses. Personally I’d complain to Google, because honestly, if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m the last thing you really want to find in your search results.

The view from my fighting position…

I’ve been blogging here at jeffreytharp.com for almost three years now. For all my other ranting and raving, the single most searched for and commented on posts were consistently focused on the 2011 Army hiring freeze. Some version of “hiring freeze” has been in the top spot for searches that bring people to the blog. Now, I love web traffic as much as any blogger, but honestly, I hoped that was a topical area that I’d be able to leave dead and buried. The hiring freeze that trapped me two years ago is long gone, but it’s been replaced by a newer, broader, and seemingly more permanent version. That doesn’t bode well for the average person working the line in an organization that has always sung the praises of personal mobility as a means to progress to reaching bigger and better opportunities.

In a world where a one-half-of-one-percent raise is a political football, the future does not look like a particularly bright, shiny place. Throw in what looks like a cross between budgetary indecision and panic at the most senior levels of leadership, the knowledge that the worse of the cuts aren’t yet here, and that there’s now open talk of across-the-board furloughs and reductions in force for the first time in a generation, and well, you’ve got yourself a workforce that shows up every day wondering when the other shoe is going to hurtle out of the sky like a dying communications satellite.

Even if the budget situation is resolved without what feels like almost inevitable bloodletting, it’s already taken its toll. Not backfilling empty positions, piling more work on those who remain, holding salaries flat as the price of everything else increases, and repeatedly telling everyone that the worst is yet to come isn’t a recipe for getting the most out of a workforce. In this one case, my hat’s off to management for trying their best to moderate the worst of the outside forces that impact all of us… but when your fates all hang on the ability of politicians to get things done in a smart and timely manner, well, you can understand my not being particularly optimistic about what the future holds.

That’s my view from my fighting position, anyway. So let’s all cross out fingers and hope that someone proves me wrong.

Go Google Youself…

Three years ago, if I googled myself, I think the blog I was running at the time started showing up somewhere around page five or six of the search results. A few minutes ago I typed my name into the search bar instead of the address bar and ended up googling myself by accident. I swear it’s not something I do on a regular basis. Seriously. I don’t. Honest.

As it turns out, a few years make a difference in the standings and there I am right there as the second listing whenever anyone searches for “Jeffrey Tharp”. Let’s just ignore the reasons why anyone might be doing that for the moment. As it turns out, the #1 Jeffrey Tharp in all of the internet is not yours truly, but rather an orthopedic surgeon based in Ohio. He seems like a good enough doc, rated better than average from what I can see. But still, I lust after his coveted 1st place search result location. Does that give you any indication of how slow a week it’s been? Yes, I’ve had time tonight to sit here and ponder zen and the nature of Google search results.

All I can say, Dr. Jeffrey S. Tharp of Akron, Ohio, is I’m coming for you. Do you hear the footsteps? You’ve probably improved the lives of hundreds and thousands of people with your healing arts, but I’m a go to source of humor, sarcasm, and snarky commentary for at least several people who I can name off the top of my head. I think we can all see why I should be first in the rankings, right? So you can either stand aside gracefully to let me claim my rightful place atop page one, or I’ll be forced to continue blogging five days a week until I simply overwhelm Google with the volume of subpages linked from http://www.jeffreytharp.com. The choice is yours. I know you’ll do the honorable thing.

Election 2011…

As you know from time to time I like to look at the searches and keywords that bring people to my humble home on the internet. OK, so technically I obsess over that kind of thing on a pretty much daily basis, but that’s beside the point. I was looking at my analytics this morning (yes, I check every morning before I go to work, now stop smirking). I think yesterday gave me my new all-time favorite search term: did jeffery tharp win the election-2011. For some reason, this blog returns to top two spots on Google for that group of words all crammed together in the search box. Other than that, there’s not much record of Jeffrey Tharp running for anything in 2011, except a dead link to a local news program in Indianapolis.

If I did run for election in 2011, there’s almost no chance that I would have won. Setting aside the whole telegenics issue for the moment, it’s way too likely that at some point during the campaign I would come unglued and tell some well-meaning, but stupid constituent that they were simply too dumb to vote. I’d have been overcome by compulsive honesty and told a group of concerned citizens that the worst possible thing the government could do for them was try to create jobs out of thin air and deficit spending. I wouldn’t have kissed babies or pandered to old people and I’d have walked off stage at the debate when someone tried to drag religion into the discussion, because believing in Jesus or Jehova or Vishnu or the Supreme Order of Jedi Knights makes you any better at administering the levers of government than the guy next to you who believes in something else.

I wouldn’t have made campaign promises I knew I couldn’t keep. Nope. I’m not going to lower your taxes. We have bills to pay. And no, I’m not going to increase your benefits, because guess what, we have bills to pay. We got twenty years of good times and now we’re getting the lean. That’s how the economy works, people. It’s a cycle. 10 years from now when we’re somewhere north of Dow 20,000 you’re going to forget all about The Great Recession. If four cable news networks weren’t cramming the economy down your throat and telling you how bad it is out there every night, would you know there was a problem? I sure wouldn’t judging only by the number of cars parked at the local shopping mall or the number of flat screen TVs rolling out the door at Best Buy.

That’s my long way of saying that I don’t think there’s much of a chance a guy named Jeffrey Tharp got elected in 2011… But if he did, I hope he’s got the guts to call it the way he sees it and not the way that’s going to make a great quote for the local newspaper.

The searchers…

Running a blog is a mixture of art and science. The art comes in the form of the actual words on the page. The science tells you who’s searching for what, why people are visiting, and where their coming from. It’s probably not a discussion to have with your friends who are worried that the government or big corporations are tracking your every move. The analytic tools that are available to me, a poor simple blogger, would be profoundly disturbing for them. Disturbing images of big brother aside, I’m always curious about what brings people here. And since it’s bad form to blatantly ask, I’m using some analytic tools to let me know what web searches lead people to me. So yes, I’m tracking you, but only a little bit. I’m sure there are ways to put names with hits, but that’s not something I’m interested in so your secret identities are safe. All I know is that you’ve been here. Sort of like knowing that people lived in your house before you did by finding a box of their crap pushed all the way to the back of the crawl space.

If you’re wondering what brings people here, there are some obvious answers. The top draw was apparently the DOD/Army hiring freeze. That one’s still bringing in hits although I haven’t written about it in three or four months. Electronic cigarettes is another big winner. Apparently there’s alot of interest out there. Of course my old favorite is still well into the top five: Teamwork Sucks. That’s been bringing in consistant visitors since I opened the doors here. None of those is surprising, really, once you remember the the town square of the modern world.

The ones that are really interesting are the one offs that land just one lone individual here on the site. Some of my personal favorite searches from the last year are:

– memphis storm drain backup
– how can i protect my grass from people driving over it?
– narcotics jeff tharp
– how to piss off apartment manager
– ocd mowing the lawn
– jeff tharp star wars oregon
– tactical retrograde
– glen beck institutionalized

Some of them I can understand. I did spend some time ranting about Glen and an inordinate amount of time worrying with my lawn. If any of you are updating my mother, though, can you please assure her that I have no idea where the narcotics part came from. Thanks for the solid.

Hunting…

The house hunt was over before it began. A few weeks ago I spotted a place online (thanks Craigslist) and through the good graces of family in the area, was able to have it checked out in advance. It’s not palatial and is hard to compare to my own house that time and money were poured into, but it’s four walls, a roof, and enough fencing to keep the dogs contained. It’s in a subdivision sufficiently rural that i can see why they call it Ceciltucky. That, at least, was exactly what I was looking for after five years inside the Memphis city limits. In most respects the term “serviceable” comes to mind.

I’m not in love with the place, but it’ll make a good jumping off point for my reentry period. I’ll pick up the keys Sunday and hope that a truckload of stuff will follow shortly behind me. It will be nice to start seeing what the new normal looks like.