Giving Tuesday…

I’ve led what, for most purposes, has been a charmed life. Maybe not Gates Foundation or Ford Foundation charmed, but well enough for a kid from down the crick.

Since today is Giving Tuesday, another internet created special purpose day, I’m giving back in the way most likely to avoid requiring interaction with people – Sending cash.

This year, I’m throwing my support to these good causes:

As per usual, I’m focused in, mainly, on organizations that exist for the benefit of animals. I’m sure there are many, many wonder charities that do wonderful things for people… but people as a group are just awful, so animals it is.

Whatever your passion is, though, I hope you’ve found some way to give back today.

A message of Thanksgiving…

Just so we’re clear on this point, I hope everyone remembers the real reason for the season: gluttony. Let other holidays simper about peace, love, and joy, I’ll take the one that pushes consumption to grand new levels each year. Unlike the others this is still a holiday in its most primal form. It’s the one our caveman ancestors sitting around a roasting saber tooth cat loin would at least understand. All we’ve done is dress it up in a big hat with a buckle and a few proclamations, but it’s still the most primitive of the holidays we celebrate as a society… and I love it for that.

It’s in that spirit that I wish each and every one of you a very happy Thanksgiving and a Black Friday filled with spoils and pillage.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Christmas Music. I leave the radio on for the dogs when I go to work. I came home one day recently to find that the station had transitioned to a 45-days of Christmas music format and nearly lost my shit. I’m sorry but I just don’t need to be told to have a holly, jolly Christmas ten days before Thanksgiving. For that matter I don’t need to be directed to have one ten days after Thanksgiving. Christmas music makes its appearance on my playlist only one day a year… that’s on whatever day I happen to be driving, like a swallow back to Capistrano, back to my native land a day or two before the actual holiday. Even then, it’s not exactly traditional Christmas songs that bleat from my speakers. My carols tend to come from the likes of Blink-182, Reliant K, Bad Religion, and a few others. I just can’t even with the other stuff this early in the year.

2. The damned darkness. I have a fundamental loathing for this time of year, not because I hate the holidays, but because every time I see the outside it looks like the middle of the damned night. It’s dark when I get to work. It’s dark when I get home. Five days a week, there isn’t a lick of actual daylight to be seen since my desk sits in what might as well be a giant shoebox wrapped in tin foil. It might be enough to drive a lesser man off the rails… fortunately it only drives me to drink.

3. Meetings after the end of the day. This seems to be a perennial topic. I guess that’s so for a reason. By the time close of business rolls around, every ounce of mental energy I can muster is being pushed towards getting the hell out of the building. When suddenly a meeting appears that will frustrate that which is my heart’s desire, I can’t guarantee that you’re not getting my best effort. You’re not even getting a half-assed effort. More likely you’ll end up getting what I generously call “I’m here under protest” face. Sure, I can smile, be polite, and even accommodating, but my brain is already 20 miles away. I’m sure it shows and that isn’t good for any of us.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. You’re a racist. Can someone explain to me, perhaps using small and easy to understand words, why I’m a racist because I believe it’s a responsibility of the federal government to have functioning boarders for my country. My travels have carried me to England, France, Germany, Italy, and Mexico and I entered those countries using their established processes and in accordance with their laws. It doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to expect the same of people who want to come to the United States.

2. Oh my God the traffic! In the absence of anything even remotely newsworthy to cover, news outlets across America have spent a fair amount of time over the last 36 hours commenting on the high volume of Thanksgiving holiday traffic on the roads. The fact that large numbers of Americans take to the roads as part of their holiday tradition probably hasn’t been news since sometime immediately after World War II. Hyping it as “the worst traffic we’ve seen since… last Thanksgiving,” is just lame and not worth the time it took to script the story. Maybe we could use the free air time and column inches to report on something going on somewhere else in the world. I mean you do know that other places aren’t stuffing their faces with turkey and pie today, right?

3. Selective memory. My liberal friends are howling because of the conservatives President-elect Trump is appointing to fill his Cabinet and White House staff positions. In a grand fit of selective memory, they seem to have forgotten the howl that went up when President Obama selected his cabinet and counselors and surrounded himself with leading lights from the left. Sorry folks, that’s what happens when the party running the Executive Branch changes. It means the heroes of the opposition party have to go away for at least four years. Expecting a liberal president to appoint a deep bench of conservative advisors is stupid… and so is expecting a conservative president to surround himself with liberal lions.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. “American genocide.” Every year at this time there are a flurry of opinion pieces telling us that we’re supposed to feel guilty about the arrival of Europeans on America’s shores. Since I wasn’t there at the time, I have no intention of feeling guilty about it – and I certainly won’t pretend to feel badly about my lack of guilt. You see, back in the 16th century, there was a principle called the right of conquest, which meant if you were strong enough to occupy and hold a territory, it was yours to govern. Under the banner of the many of the crowned heads of Europe, those early arrivals during the colonial period did just that. They occupied and then they governed under the well-established rules of the day. I don’t feel any more guilt over that than I do the Norman conquest of England in 1066 AD or the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC.

2. Just unfriend me. If your response to an opposing viewpoint on social media is something like, “If you think X, just go ahead and unfriend me,” chances are we probably shouldn’t be friends anyway. See, I value the debate, the discussion of ideas, more so than I value the “rightness” of my own opinion over all others. I think there should be loud and voluminous debate about important issues of the day. An approach of “just unfriend me” cuts that off and ensures that neither side of the debate can never be fully informed. I don’t pick my friends because I happen to agree with all of their politics, but if that’s what you expect of me, maybe you should go ahead and unfriend me after all. And if at some point in the heat of a moment I’ve ever thrown down that gauntlet, I abjectly beg your indulgence and forgiveness.

3. Working the holiday. Over the last 20 years I’ve had many jobs. Some of those jobs required I work nights, or weekends, or holidays, or be prepared for “call outs” on short notice. Because I liked getting paid, that means there were many family parties, weddings, funerals, and yes, even holidays I missed because I needed to be at the office. I’ve enjoyed traditional Thanksgivings around the family table and I’ve celebrated them with a turkey sandwich on the clock. I don’t expect anyone to be out there doing the job because they love it, but if holidays and weekends are part of the position description, it pretty much is what it is.

The laughing of a dead Prussian…

Watching the news this morning, I was glad to not be one of the thousands sitting bumper to bumper on the Baltimore Beltway. Or last night on I-70. Or later today on I-95 in either direction. I’ll roll the dice at some point, of course, and hope to slip through the migrating herd before most of them get a start on their day.

The rabid instance on having a weekly Wednesday staff meeting today, however, forced me to rethink if sitting in a nice warm truck with the radio on inching down the interstate would really have been the worst of the two possibilities. A good leader might not acknowledge it in so many words, but he would certainly have known that although there are plenty of seats being filled today, those filling them are present in body, but long gone in spirit. To a person, we’ve all have our faces set in that far away, somewhere else I’d rather be look – eyes glazed over, lips slightly parted, the occasional deep sigh or eye roll. It’s a look I know well if only because I have worn it so very often.

Still, we dutifully held this middle-of-the-day meeting. Because it’s Wednesday, if not because there was any actual important information to share. Despite any application of reason to the contrary we clung to the battle rhythm on this day before Thanksgiving… and I can’t shake the feeling that somewhere there is a dead Prussian staff officer laughing at us.

Slow week…

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, it’s bound to be a slow week. Even the people who are in the office are generally not going out of their way to find new projects to get jammed up with. I won’t say there’s an effort to run out the clock on the week, but damned few are out roaming the halls looking for trouble.

All of that means I’m basically tinkering around at my desk tending to odds and ends that never make it to the top of the to do list at any other time of the year. Basically I’ve got plenty of time to work on whatever comes along and to be honest, I don’t mind any distraction that might help the day move along.

When that distraction lands on my desk at 3:49 and has to be wrapped up by “close of business”, however, I’m mostly going to look at it, mutter WTF, and wonder what I can to to push that paper down the line as quickly as humanly possible. I’m sure whatever it was is very, very important, but not so important than anyone started worrying about it until everyone was headed home for the day.

There were 7 hours and 49 previous minutes in the day when this little project could have found its way to me. At any point on that spectrum it would likely have been treated as a serious activity. Arriving as it did, though, it was just the one major inconvenience standing between me and a quiet evening with the dogs… and even in a slow week that’s a bad place to be.