The best ten weeks…

Here we are in mid-October, I’m comfortable saying I’ve mostly adjusted to the diminishing daylight and have started into one of my favorite times of year. Sure, it’s about to be the “holiday season” or whatever, but that’s not really it. Not directly, anyway.

I’ve long made a habit of mostly hoarding vacation time through the first 2/3 of the year. With the arrival of October, though, it’s time to start letting those days spool out. For me, that means the next two and a half months look something like this:

Three-day weekend… Work for two weeks… Five day weekend… Work for a week… Four day weekend… Work for three weeks… and finally the last, glorious Fifteen day weekend capping off the year.

The annual burning off of vacation time is a real thing of beauty. This annual rite of autumn is made easier in my case by not having to burn time during the rest of the year to tend to sick offspring or in accommodating spousal wishes. I sprinkle days through the rest of the year to get a quick breather when necessary, but it’s here in the fall where I really get my head right.

In a few months the new year starts and with it a new round of hoarding time off begins… with the promise of another fall filled with days not spent dwelling under fluorescent lighting. For now, though, I’ll happily celebrate the best ten weeks of the year,

What I learned this week…

It’s a harsh truth. What I learned this week is that three-day weekends don’t hit the same when you’ve mostly been home for most of the last 2+ months. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way hating the arrival of Memorial Day Weekend. An extra day not spent tapping away at the laptop is always, always welcome… but Friday afternoon didn’t really arrive heralding great plans and interesting things to do. I’m still thrilled beyond all measure to have three days in a row where not a thought will be spared for The NeverEnding Project.

I’d be a little more enthused if I were using the time to cull through book stores and junk shops, but I’ve got some new stuff to read and a nice new place to sit on the patio while I do it, so it’s not as if the Great Plague is really putting all that much of a damper on my plans.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even mask up and brave the Plague Lands to bring home a giant burrito as an extra special treat. I’m pretty sure I can manage to justify that as an essential component of the holiday weekend. 

1000% over budget…

The first tool I bought on my own, as opposed to scavenging away from one of the parental workbenches, was a 12 volt DeWalt power drill. For most of its life it stayed in the back corner of a closet, or later on a garage shelf. I needed it about once a month and as long as I gave it some time on the charger it fired off and did its thing admirably… or it did until this weekend when the last of its batteries finally gave up the ghost.

Now I don’t think these 17+ year old batteries owe me anything at all, but the timing couldn’t be more inconvenient. There’s a three-day weekend coming and here on the homestead that almost always means taking on some project that I can’t jam into a regularly scheduled weekend. The one I’m looking at for this weekend is definitely going to need more than a black and yellow paperweight.

The problem with power tools, as I’m finding in my research, is that half the cost seems to be in the batteries. While I could buy a pair of replacement batteries, by the time I get them here, I’m into it for half the price of buying two more powerful modern batteries, a charger, and and a new drill. Like so much of the other stuff that comes into this house, it turns out power tools are just another disposable commodity – more cost effective to replace than repair. Plus, since it use to run off the same set of batteries, I get to replace a circular saw too.

Somehow by the time it’s over, my $50 project for the garage is going to end up running about 1000% over budget. There’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere, right?

Last Friday…

thumbsdown-gladiator It occurred to me driving in this morning that if everything goes as planned, this will be my last Friday at the office for the rest of fiscal year 2013. Next week, I’ll be celebrating Independence Day by taking Friday off and making a 4-day weekend, but from there on out I am a part time employee of our dear old Uncle Sam.

We all know I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to live in the land of the perpetual three-day weekend, but it’s living in the land of the 80% pay check that seems like something of a problem. I’ve found that most things are never as good or as bad as I anticipate them being, but in this one little case, I’m not holding my breath for it to magically transform into a fantastic opportunity.

Thank God I like to read and write. Those are at least low budget entertainment options I can indulge in to excess in this new found free time. Have I mentioned I’m glad I didn’t get around to buying a boat?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Short weeks feel the longest. Why is it that a four day week feels at least twice as long as its standard five day counterpart? I’m sure there’s some deep psychoanalytical reason for it, but regardless it’s just stupid. Stupid and wrong. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Clearly “they” are full of shit and it flies when you’re just barely keeping your head above water too.

2. Furlough Fridays. Look, if you’re going to start letting me stay home on Fridays, how about not waiting for six weeks to kick off the new schedule. I’m more or less resolved that it’s the new reality, but there’s really no reason at this point not to dive in to the three day weekends right away. I mean that seems like the least echelons higher than reality could to to ease our transition to part time employees.

3. The birthday thing. I generally try to be a good sport because, well, it seems to be expected, but really I’d be just as happy if the whole birthday thing would pass as discreetly as possible. Some people want to celebrate for a week or the whole month. When the time comes, I’ll open a good bottle of wine, salute my good fortune at having managed not to drop dead for another 365 days, and get on with whatever else it was I planned on doing Saturday evening. Chances are I’ll pass the night either with my nose stuck in a good book or trying to write a half-assed one.

4. Bulldog checkups. Winston’s yearly physical and vaccinations are coming up tomorrow afternoon. The only good thing is that if you’re willing to take one of the last appointments of the day on Friday, I can get the vaccinations at half price. Inconvenient? Yes, absolutely… but when you’ve spent five years keeping up with bulldog related vet bills, you learn to take your savings where you can since it’s pretty inevitable they’ll discover something new and interesting that’ll need treated while we’re there.

Three days…

As the second three-day weekend in a row meanders towards a close, it occurs to me that three days is not nearly sufficient. It’s not that I have major plans or a enormous list of things to do. Everyone around here knows that nine times in ten I’m just as happy not leaving the house. The hermit tendency is strong in this one. The point is, I like I’m not on anyone’s schedule but my own (duh, who doesn’t). I like not getting sucked into meetings or repeating myself by email for the third time about something that the person on the receiving end may or may not care about. I enjoy not driving for forty minutes to go sit in a cube when I’d much rather drive 40 minutes in the opposite direction and be halfway to the beach.

I’m a year older now, but don’t seem to be any closer to really accepting the idea that I’m built for work in any traditional sense. It’s not that work sucks particularly, just that there are a million other things I’d rather be dong (again, duh, who doesn’t). Look, I’m perfectly happy to have a job that pays the bills. I recognize how incredibly fortunate I am in that respect. Even so, it’s hard to think of myself as passionate about PowerPoint, memos, and meetings. It’s one thing to do it and be good at it, it’s another thing to love it in its own right. Maybe I’ve just missed the point somewhere.

Until I’ve found some way to monitize being snarky and dispensing smartassed comments, it’s a good bet that I won’t be giving up my day job. Still, in a perfect world, it seems to me that there should be a way to sit on the deck with my nose in a book and somehow scrape up enough scratch to get by. Then again, just “getting by” has never been a strong suit for me either so I guess I’d better suck it up and get my head back in the game for the week ahead.

Left turn, Clyde…

To help give a little insight into how I spent most of the day yesterday, I wanted to provide a public service announcement to all the drivers out there. In most vehicles these days there’s a toggle switch on the steering column that controls the left and right turn signals that alert drivers around you to your intended course of action. For instance, when you’re in the turn lane with you blinker flashing, the rest of us assume that you are actually going to go ahead and turn in the direction indicated by your flashing signal. Well over 99% of the time, that’s exactly what happens. It happens with such regularity that it’s one of those things that the driving public just assumes to be true. They assume it to be true right up until the moment when it’s not true and they find themselves pummeled by a face full of airbag. You see, fellow drivers, when you signal one intention and then do something else, bad things tend to happen to everyone involved.

In case anyone is wondering, I’m fine. The dogs are fine. The Tundra, however, is distinctly not fine. We’ll find out just how not fine it is next week when the insurance adjuster and body shop get a look at it. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and write that check for the deductible so we can get on with getting Big Red back on the road. Nothing like doing $20,000 of damage to two vehicles because the asshat in the turning lane is perplexed by the concept of a turn signal. Meh. It’s safe for everyone to assume I’ve gone from the thankful not to be hurt stage to the throughly annoyed because my truck is torn up stage of the process.

Despite being throughly annoyed, I do have a few shout outs. Special thanks to the Maryland State Police for a professional and rapid response. Of course it helps that we were less than 500 yards from their parking lot. To my dad, thanks for the loaner car. I’ll do my best not to get fooled by anyone else’s signal while I’m driving your ride. Mom, thanks for not freaking out too badly when I called to give you a heads up. She doesn’t think this is a blog/Facebook-appropriate topic, so don’t give her too much crap about me posting about it ok? Thanks. And finally props to my evil stepmother – thanks for driving over and hauling me and the dogs halfway across the state yesterday.

So that’s the short version of my Saturday. It’s safe to say this is not the relaxing and restful three day weekend I was anticipating.