Playing with balls…

The internet has given us a world where information is hard to escape unless you really make an effort at it. Most days I find myself absorbing as many audio and visual signals as I can stand. Usually those feeds are clogged with finance, history, science, politics, and a bit of local news. Today it’s just chock full of the NCAA basketball championship and opening day of baseball season.

While I’m not actively taking any steps to avoid those things, my level of interest can best be expressed by a long, gaping mouthed yawn. It’s not that I hate sports in general. I don’t spend nearly enough thinking about them to be that bothered. I’d describe my attitude towards them as one of abject disinterest.

That disinterest carries the day most of the time – except on days like today. When everyone assumes everyone is a fan of something and every conversation turns on the Local Professional Baseball Team or Collegiate Basketball Program of Choice. On days like today, my disinterest is elevated to something more monumental in scope and scale.

Despite that, mostly I smile and nod at what feels like appropriate intervals… because being in polite society implies that you’ll spend a great deal of time listening to things in which you have no interest. The fact is, in addition to the lack of interest, I lack the specialized vocabulary and background information to speak on the subject in any intelligent way. I can only assume that since so many seem determined to live and die with their team, there must be something to it. I realize that in this one case, perhaps I’m the one who’s the extreme outlier – though that may just be part and parcel of my long standing personal feud with major social conventions. Regardless of the why, however, it’s simply that the part of a fan’s brain that gets tickled by a grand slam or a long three point shot, doesn’t get my neurons sparking in the same way.

I almost wish it did… if for no other reason than it would make these “big days in sports” feel a little less torturous than a slow death by a thousand cuts.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. I keep a running list of the absurdities of life that I think might be worthy of including in the week’s edition of WAJTW. Because this week happened to include a federal holiday, I’ve spent the whole week vaguely confused about what day of the week it happens to be. As a result, I reached to that list and accidentally used one of the annoyances as an actual fully fledged blog post. That doesn’t seem like it would be much of an annoyance aside from the fact that most things have broken my way this week and there wasn’t much of a list to begin with… which is exactly why the first annoyance for this week is strictly a process piece.

2. Sports metaphors. I’ve seen enough sports in my life to understand most of the metaphors, but I’ve never quite understood our desire to try to take the lessons of the field and apply them to every other aspect of life. Since I don’t generally follow sports in any meaningful way maybe the stories just don’t resonate for me in the way they seem to for other people. I’m just a guy with a hard time applying the relevant lesson of the scrappy underdog team to the issues I’m fighting with on the daily. I realize I’m probably the outlier here, so don’t mind me. If it looks like I’m stifling a yawn, that’s because I am.

3. Prius Drivers. On Tuesday morning I sat in the truck and watched a Prius driver open his door, lean halfway out of the car, and back into a parking space. The next nearest vehicle was mine and Big Red was at least two dozen spots away and in a completely different row. Look, I know I don’t have an unblemished record here, but backing up in an effectively empty parking lot and landing between the white lines just feels like something you should be able to do without needing to nearly exit the vehicle… Especially when your car takes up about as much square footage as my kitchen table. The poor schmuck didn’t even have a pair of passing yoga pants to use as an effective excuse.

The draft…

SSSI was scrolling through Twitter last night when I ran across a tweet from someone I follow commenting on watching the draft on television… Which my brain immediately processed as The Draft. The one in which numbers are assigned and men between 18-26 are inducted into the military. The draft that was never part of my personal life experience as it ended years before I was born. Rather than look for a some kind of draft that a normal person might be expected to watch in 2014, my brain rolled low def news footage from the early 1970s.

Apparently, the tweet in question had something to do with the National Football League. Who knew?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

The hardest aspect of writing What Annoys Jeff this Week isn’t finding the three things that have agitated the shit out of me during the last seven days, it’s the culling through the multitude of life’s little indignities to arrive at the three that best sum up the week that was. As ever, it’s a precarious balancing act between my liberty to speak and my willingness to deal with the consequences of those words once they’ve left my brain and shown up on the internet. In that spirit, I proudly present you with the 110th installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week.

1. Failure to communicate. Nine times in ten I don’t mind when something I’ve bought and paid for is backordered. As long as I know it in advance or it’s communicated to me as quickly as possible after the order. What you shouldn’t do is wait for two weeks, fill the balance of the order, and only then let me know that the one widget I needed to make it all work is backordered indefinitely. Some people would probably shrug it off, but for me it’s a sure guarantee that I’ll repackage the whole thing, return it at your expense, and never conduct business with you again. When you fail to communicate with the customer, at least when that customer is me, everyone loses.

2. Being not quite sick. There’s a murky line somewhere between feeling well and being sick. I’ve found astride that line for the last two days. With an obnoxious cough, a turbulent stomach, and a general feeling of malaise, I’ve mostly crashed through the mid-week period feeling vaguely out of sorts and enjoying the attention span the Almighty gave to the average walnut. It’s not the recipe for doing great and wonderful things. In fact it’s most likely the recipe to make sure foolishness and asshattery lurk around every corner.

3. Anything to do with the Winter Olympics or the Super Bowl. So there rest of the world doesn’t respond with a visceral sigh when someone mentions either the Olympic Games or the Superbowl. I’m sure there are even those reading this now who are beside themselves with anticipation of the great and exciting things to come. As for me, my disinterest has been driven to a state of outright hostility by the sheer shove-it-down-your-throatedness of media coverage of both of these events. I’ll leave the rest of the world to their excitement. As for me, I’m not a bit interested in any of it… until the summer games… or the world women’s volleyball championship. Whichever comes first.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Semantics. Listening to the news over the last few days, I’ve been surprised (shocked and appalled), to hear the talking heads from the party of fiscal responsibility saying that even if the debt ceiling is not raised, the US Government won’t technically be in “default” as long as it continues to pay the interest and principle on the existing national debt. And while it’s true that in that sense, the government won’t default on its sovereign debt, it would absolutely default on a host of other payments – to include veteran’s benefits, Social Security, salaries, and contracts for goods and services. I’m the first to admit that words and their meaning are important, but to say that the government will not be in a state of de facto default if the debt ceiling is not raised is a little like making a differentiation between dying of dysentery and dying of the dehydration caused by having dysentery. Either way you shit yourself to death, the rest is just semantics.

2. Obamacare. I’ve never pretended to be a fan of this first step in the headlong rush towards nationalized healthcare. While having access to affordable medical care is definitely a good thing, I’ve always been of the opinion having the federal government step into the fray adds nothing more than unnecessary layers of bureaucracy between a person and their doctor. Despite the best efforts of the right wing nutjobs, we’ve got it now, so c’est la vie. What really annoys me more than having this program foisted on the taxpayer is the fact that they had three years to design a website and couldn’t manage to do that correctly. If I were launching the capstone initiative of my administration, you can be damned sure I’d make sure it worked properly before it saw the light of day. The fact that the average guy with a “Websites for Dummies” book, a DSL line, and rented space on a server can set up and host their own website and my kindly old Uncle Sam can’t does not fill me with an abundance of confidence when it comes to letting him help me make decisions about my health. I’m screwing that one up just fine on my own, thank you very much.

3. Sports talk. I don’t know quite how to phrase this other than being blunt. If you come at me talking about last night’s baseball game or this weekend’s football lineup, you’re going to be met with a blank stare and a fairly blunt, “I don’t follow sports.” Then I’m going to disengage from the conversation. I’ve tried being a good trooper and faking my way through these conversations, feigning an interest, but I think I’m over that now. If you want to have a conversation about technology, science, history, current events, or occasionally the foibles of pop culture icons, I’m your huckleberry. You want to talk batting average and passing yards, you’ll need to look elsewhere. In this one, small segment of life, I’m just tired of pretending to care which group of millionaires are better than which other group of millionaires.

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.

Finally…

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me that March Madness doesn’t garner much more from me than the occasional “uh huh” when someone tries to bring it up in conversation. I know approximately as much about basketball as I know about partial physics. Actually that’s not true, I read a book about noteable physicists once, which I can’t say for basketball players. So it’s possible there is no topic I know less about than the fine points of college basketball. But still here I sit with the semi-finals playing in the living room.

Sigh. The trials and tribulations of being a semi-good son.