Carnival…

Carnival, the cruise line that I vaguely remember from life in the 80s and 90s as advertising vacations aboard the “fun ship,” is planning to start cruising again on August 1st. I’m sure that some courageous souls will be tempted aboard these plague ships buy unbelievably discounted prices, but I’m not sure you could tempt me to on board with an offer of giving me the actual ship at the end of the cruise.

With at least one of the other large cruise lines already flirting with bankruptcy, it’s not surprising that Carnival is chomping at the bit to get back to business. I’ll be curious to see how many people take them up on the opportunity, though. Are there enough people still holding onto their vacation money in the face of 20% unemployment who also have a wildly under-developed sense of self-preservation to make the effort profitable? Watching the increasing reports of asshattery from around the country, at first blush, the answer is a definite maybe.

I don’t suppose you’ll ever go too far wrong trading on the stupidity of the average person – even, or maybe especially, when the penalties for stupid range from debilitating viral illness on up through death. Go ahead and enjoy the buffet and that sweet, sweet balcony room though.

The list maker…

I’m a list maker. I’ve got a list for groceries, a list of projects that needs done around the house, a list of books I want to read, and countless others of varying lengths.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve started keeping what feels like it could be the most dangerous list of all. No, it’s not an enemies list. I’ve earned a few of those over the years, but I don’t consider my enemies in any way dangerous enough to need to keep the little shits on a list. This new list that has been evolving lives on my phone under the heading of “Things I want to Learn More About.” It’s a deceptively simple title for what’s threatening to become a weighty issue.

My reading, especially in history, has long suffered because of my habit of allowing myself to fall down research rabbit holes either because of footnotes or random tidbits that caught my interest but were only tangentially related to the main theme of whatever I happened to be reading. I’d often find myself stopping to google something and then spend half an hour or more picking up the basics. Interesting as it is, that methodology is a hard way to get through a book.

So, for the last few weeks I’ve been making a conscious decision to just take a note of the people, places, or things that warranted further reading. It’s hard to say for sure, but I feel like my reading pace and retention rate are both at least a little better off for this new way of conducting myself.

The down side, because of course there’s always a down side, is that I seem to be adding an innumerable amount of topics to my already lengthy reading list. Just from the past weekend’s reading of Arsenal of Democracy, I want to dig in to a) The transfer of power at Ford Motor Company from Henry to his grandson; b) Henry’s Fair Lane estate; c) General Motors early corporate history; d) Bill Knudsen, biography; e) Alfred P. Slone, biography.

There’s no particular reason I need to know any of these things other than having a curious mind and an interest spurred on by some passing references in what I was reading. It’s only a problem when each new book leads to four or five other things and you realize, as always, that time is a limited and non-renewable resource. If I’m lucky, my thirst can be slaked for most topics with a quick read through a Wikipedia article. Others, though, will deserve full books in their own right and each one of those will lead to its own list of more things I want to know.

There are times I wonder if it wouldn’t be altogether more satisfying to be a little bit stupid. It feels like it would certainly save me a great deal of time and effort… and probably reduce the number of items on all my lists significantly.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Words and their meaning. I’m all for healthy political discourse and debate, but for the love of little baby Jesus I need right wingers who want sound edgy and disdainful to stop saying “Democrat” Party when they mean the Democratic Party. It makes them sound like a particularly asinine flavor of fucking idiot. Organizations have proper names. People have proper names. Unless we’re all going to start calling ourselves members of the “Republic” Party we should go ahead and start using thoughtful discussion rather than schoolroom sophistry to make our points.

2. Extreme selfie-ing. If you jump a fence and try to pose for a selfie with a jaguar and get yourself a little bit mauled, I have no sympathy. In fact, if I were an onlooker at such an event, I would gleefully stand aside and cheer on the jaguar – looking on in joy as the penalty for stupidity was extracted with immediate violence.

3. Being oblivious and preoccupied. I was too occupied at the office to even notice that Facebook had collapsed on Wednesday and taken a large portion of the social media universe with it. I don’t mean that to imply that I wish I had been able to spend all day surfing Facebook on Instagram, though. The real reason that I’m both surprised and annoyed that this kind of major media happening passed unnoticed is that it means dumb work stuff has monopolized every fraction of available brainpower… and that’s clearly no way to spend your life.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Stomach. My stomach has been trying to kill me off and on for the last few days. It’s not debilitating or preventing me from getting on with my day, but it’s made food something of a dice roll, meaning that I traipse through the day mostly hungry in order to avoid workday unpleasantness as much as possible. Of course continuing to pour coffee down my throat probably is doing nothing to mitigate the issue. Realistically, though, if I’m going to be hungry also having me uncaffeinated feels like it’s just asking for more trouble than we’re trying to avoid.

2. Perceived time. We humans have a bit of an odd relationship with time. We struggle mightily to measure it down to the merest fraction of a second, but it’s really how we perceive the movement of time around us that matters most. I’m grown increasingly interested in the perception of time after sitting at my desk for 37 hours on Tuesday, but finding that the most recent Saturday lasted only 192 minutes.

3. Be nice. Someone from time to time will suggest that I should make an effort to be more understanding – to “be nicer.” I’m sure the suggestion is well intentioned, usually implying that I’d be more approachable, less apt to judge, or in some way become a kinder, more sensitive human being. Seriously? Have you met most people? Piss off with “be nice.” I’ll continue to respond and react to people as their actions and attitudes dictate. If you’d like me to be nicer, I’d recommend convincing people at large to be a little less dumb. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Some days…

Some days all I can do is sit at my desk and shake my head. I’m never quite sure if it’s my cynicism getting stronger as I get older or if it’s just the amount of stupid shit I deal with being cumulative. Some days I wish I was one of those people who wander through life not being bothered by what happens to and around them. My God, some days I envy those people who seem to get up and sleepwalk through the day.

I’m not self absorbed enough to believe that I’m the only one who deals with stupidity. Lord help us, the world is overflowing with it. You can’t help but wade through the day up to your knees in the stuff. What I increasingly don’t understand is why those of use who see it and recognize it for what it is, don’t call it out by name. Why do we smile politely and then roll our eyes at the first opportunity? Why does anyone with the least bit of talent at what they do tolerate the vast sea of stupidity that surrounds them?

Despite my best efforts, somehow, for some reason I still apparently give a damn. I can’t help but think that life might just be better if you’re schlepping through it fat, dumb, and happy. Or is life worse and you’re just do bleeding dense to know it?

Lost, Damaged, or Destroyed…

After one of the longest four-day weeks in recent memory, I managed to get away from work nearly on time. I pounded out a txt on my way to the parking lot, put my bag on top of the truck bed cover, sat my phone down beside it, and tossed my coat in the back seat because I hate driving with my coat on. The bag is tossed in next, I settle in to the driver’s seat and I’m off to start a week and a half of vacation time.

You might have noticed that I didn’t mention picking my phone up. Well that’s because I apparently didn’t. Of course I didn’t know this as I pulled out of the parking lot, drive through the gate, and made best possible speed for the house. I only realized this ten minutes later when I reached down to grab it off my belt clip. There was the clip sure enough, but the phone was ominously missing. I reach behind me, thinking it probably had just popped out of the clip or maybe slid between the seat and center console. No dice there. Not paniced yet, I pulled my coat over the seat and rummaged through the pockets. Sill no phone. It wasn’t in its usual spot on the center console either. This is where the dread starts setting in. I pull to the shoulder, check under the seats, check my coat again, and actually check every place a phone could possibly end up. It, of course, was in none of these places.

So now I backtrack to the office. No one has turned in anything to the gate guard and it’s not lying in or near the parking lot. It’s not lying anywhere inside the fenceline for that matter. I scouted that area pretty well. It’s not outside the gate where I would have made my first quick acceleration. It’s not at the exit where I turned onto the highway. By now it has begun dawning on me that I’m not likely to find it. In a shower of curses not often heard from me, I admitted defeat and accepted that my phone was lost, damaged, or destroyed.

So yes, my pretty and still relatively new 16 gig iPhone is now officially listed as missing in action. I only hope that flying off the back of a fast moving truck damaged it beyond repair because the thought of some schlep using my phone as a high powered iPod makes me crazy at the moment.

I’ve switched over to a back up phone and my number still works, so all told I was off the grid for about three hours. Three absolutely terrifying hours.

I’m not dead… yet…

I somehow feel that I have been neglecting my blogging responsibilities as of late. I assure you, I have not suddenly developed a sense of compassion or become less curmudgeonly under the influence of too much steak and barbeque. Quite simply, there hasn’t been that much to bitch about as of late, but fear not… a new week is starting and this one has all the potential to be overflowing with stupidity.