What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Air conditioning. If reports out of central Maryland are to be believed, we are now living in the midst of the worst rash of human rights violations in the history of the state. I wish I’d have known back in the 80s and 90s that air conditioning in schools was a civil right. It turns out mine were violated regularly between about 1989 and 1996 when I and my classmates were forced to endure education without the benefit of air conditioning with only the comforting whir of dozens of box fans stirring the broiling air inside our classrooms. Since these long-dormant childhood injuries have now been pulled to the surface by an insensitive media establishment, I’m left wondering which state office we need to file with to receive our settlement for emotional trauma and discomfort?

2. Cowardice. Courage isn’t hiding behind a brick wall of anonymity saying mean things for fun and profit while trying to make sure you don’t lose your job. If you’re a member of the administration, outraged by it’s behavior and feel that you have no recourse but to speak out against it, the only legitimate option available to you is to resign your position. Then you are free to speak out and avail yourself of every other opportunity afforded to you. When I have an opinion, unpopular or not, I post it here and make sure my name is one it. To make your stand anonymously from a position of safety protected from public scrutiny isn’t an act of bravery, but a self-serving act of personal cowardice.

3. Thursday dinner. I loath and dispise needing to cook a full meal when I get home from work. Mostly I solve that problem by over-making Sunday dinner and crock-potting something on Monday. Juicy leftover goodness is the dispensed for lunch and dinner for the next three days. By Thursday, though, the options box starts looking a little bare… and by a little bare, I mean selecting between frozen burritos, Spaghettio’s, or a tasty bowl of Corn Flakes. Sure, I could order up something for delivery, but that involves someone coming to the house, so it’s a less desirable option. I could, of course, give in, and prepare an actual meal. That option, too, feels unlikely. If it’s Thursday and you’re reading this, chances are Corn Flakes has ended up being what’s for dinner.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Loaded Thursdays. A few weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea if I loaded Thursday from top to bottom with meetings. Getting them out of the way, having the bulk of the week to prep for them, and generally ruining as few days of the week as possible running hither and yon to these sessions really felt like I was on to a winner. Compressing meetings onto one date should free up time and be efficient. Maybe it is, but in my planning I forgot the First Rule of the Bureaucracy: The Bureaucracy must expand to consume all available time and resources. I now have more meetings and less prep time than I did before arranging this new wonder schedule. If someone could step in and hit me in the face with a shovel the next time I have a good idea it would be incredibly helpful.

2. Common sense. If you log on to social media and call for common sense legislation on any topic, but then call anyone who disagrees with you on any point an idiot, a terrorist, or worse, you’re pretty much the reason we can’t have an effective dialog in this country about anything. On issues of social policy, thinking people can have wildly differing opinions about the whole array of ends, ways, and means. Refusing to so much as discuss any idea that differs from your own forecloses any possible avenue for progress. In a republic of free people, what may be “common sense” to you, may well be nonsense to another. There’s no hope of finding a scrap of common ground without the conversation, though.

3. I’m not the decider. Look, I gave up an dreams I ever had of being a professional decision maker a long time ago. I can advise, I can recommend, I can object strenuously, and I can present information in any format and order it needs to form a coherent platform from which to base decisions. What I can’t do is fight city hall. I won’t be the guy who’s tilting at windmills. Let someone else take on the burden of making a decision based on the best data and analysis I can provide them. I don’t want it. But for the love of Pete, once that decision is made can we all agree to shut up and move out smartly? No? Fine. Let’s all just sit around and piss and moan that we think it should be different. That’ll do the trick.

Today in history…

I had planned for today to be one of those most rare of occurrences where I make two blog posts on the same day. First and foremost, it’s Thursday and regardless of what else Thursday might be it’s a time for What Annoys Jeff this Week. If you came here tonight hoping for your daily does of what three things annoyed the hell out of me this week, sadly you can’t read them because WordPress completely overwrote that post a few minutes ago.

However, all is not lost because in addition to the weekly spectacular that is WAJTW, this particular Thursday is also important for many other reasons.

First and foremost on June 1, 1495 Scotch whisky appears in the Exchequer (tax) rolls of Scotland for the very first time. If that doesn’t make it a red letter date worthy of celebration, I don’t know what does, really.

On June 1, 2011 I made the 879 mile drive from Memphis to Maryland for the last and final time. That was a big deal.

On June 1, 2015 I discovered that the basement of the new house I’d so eagerly purchased leaked like submarine with a screen door in anything harder than a drizzle – triggering ten thousand dollars in unplanned back yard renovation work to correct and landing my plan for fancy new master bathroom on the indefinite hold pile.

More important than any of those past events, perhaps, is that June 1, 2017 marks exactly 18 years until I’m eligible to retire and begin my life as a proper hermit on some far off mountaintop hideaway.

Oh, yeah, and as many of you have sussed out through various means, it’s also my birthday, so I guess there’s that. I appreciate all the kind words and texts and emails and calls. You guys are just the best.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Kars for Kids. I hear their two octaves too high jingle every morning at 5:45 AM. I know this because almost without fail it comes on the satellite radio station I’m listening to almost precisely when I’m starting to shave. Mercifully the throat it makes me want to slit is not my own. I have no idea what organization Kars fronts for nor do I know what portion of funds raised go to support their good cause of the day. It doesn’t really matter because with their deeply agitating icepick-in-the-ear method of early morning advertising if they were providing free food for life to every kid in America.

2. Getting wet. Spending two hours milling around a parking lot is bad enough by itself. Add a heavy does or rain and you to spend the rest of the day squishing around in sodden shoes. Here’s a pro tip for you – having a pair of dry socks is important, but dry socks don’t mean a damn think when you’re sticking them back into waterlogged boots. Lesson most definitely learned.

3. Thursday. Why on earth isn’t Thursday the day before the weekend starts. Instead, it’s mostly just Monday #4 and I hate it for that.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Forgetting Thursday. Most weeks, by the time Thursday rolls around I have a laundry list of potential topics to pick from. The annoyances range from monumental to petty and all are perfectly suitable for taking up a hundred or so words in print. Occasionally though, you run into a week where nothing exceptional happens and grievances are too petty to even be worth mentioning. Mercifully they don’t come along all that often or this whole effort would come to a painfully sudden stop. It’s been my experience that good times tend to make for piss poor writing.

2. Satellite Radio. I dearly love my SiriusXM radio, but it occurred to me yesterday when they renewal notice arrived $273.22 seems awfully expensive. I’m perfectly willing to pay for the joy and convenience of not needing to change a channel from one side of the country to the other, but honest to God shouldn’t something called a “Music Royalty Fee” be included as part of the standard bill for a device whose purpose, largely, is to play music. An entirely separate $33.34 line item for this does seem a touch excessive me. I like Sirius. I want to find a more reasonable price point so I can justify keeping my subscription. As it stands, though, there’s too much competition online that’s free or cheap for me to fork over the better part of $300.

2. “Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” In response to the question “Why don’t Muslims do more to stop the radicals among them,” the immediate response seems to be “well Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” Except that’s not true at all. In 1954 President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to ensure the integration of Little Rock High School. In 1964 the FBI under Director Hoover flooded into Mississippi to break the grip of the KKK on the local justice system. Federal agencies have continued to infiltrate and prosecute all manner of hate groups from then right through to the present day. The second half of the 20th century was never my primary area of study, but I do seem to remember a fair number of whites who went south to register voters, help organize boycotts, and generally be part of the process. With that being said I’m assuming the counter question being asked is really “what did ‘white people’ do to curtail the activities of white hate groups, I think the answer you’re looking for is “a lot.” I can’t speak for anywhere else, but when the KKK shows up “on parade” here in Cecil County, it’s mostly six old guys on the courthouse steps. They might not be dead, but they’re sure as hell defanged compared to where things stood in 1950, dontcha think?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Big Brother Knows Best. His distinguished honor the Mayor of New York City said earlier this week that “…our obligation first and foremost is to keep our kids safe in the schools; first and foremost, to keep you safe if you go to a sporting event; first and foremost is to keep you safe if you walk down the streets or go into our parks.” He went on to say “We cannot let the terrorists put us in a situation where we can’t do those things. And the ways to do that is to provide what we think is an appropriate level of protection.” Public safety is a key critical function of government, I agree, but we shouldn’t buy it at the expense of our other liberties. Whether they’re lost to a terrorist’s bomb to to the government trying to stop the terrorists, once those rights are gone, they’re never, ever coming back. If we let cowards change the way we live or lives, if we let government tell us how much privacy we should have or how much of other essential freedoms we need to have or how much we should be willing to surrender, well, I’m not sure I know what we’re fighting for anyway.

2. Moving the Goal Posts. I’m a tiny cog in a vast machine. As such, I’m cognizant that I have almost no control over my own schedule and even less influence over setting the agenda… but honest to God, I’ve had the same meeting scheduled and cancelled three times over the course of two days. Priorities shift, sometimes on short notice. That’s fine. I’m all for improvising, adapting, and overcoming. The hurry up and wait mentality is as old as the institution I serve – far older really. I have a suspicion that the Greek and Roman bureaucracies were not strangers to WTF moments. Expecting a schedule that everyone can agree to and stick with is a pipe dream… but that doesn’t make the constant moving goal posts any less obnoxious.

3. Thursday. Screw you, Thursday. You use to be cool. You use to be thirsty. You use to have dime drafts. Now you’re just as much a crank as any of the other weekdays – just another work-a-day trudging towards the weekend. Not even your neighbor Friday is good for much of anything these days. He’s in a pissy mood until the middle of the afternoon, so I don’t really have much use for him either. The only thing that makes either one of your tolerable is that the path to Saturday runs right through you. That’s the only reason you’re not dead to me.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The Maryland Transportation Authority. Dear Asshats, if you’re going to chance what lane collects which kind of toll it might be a good idea to go ahead and let people know that in advance instead of surprising everyone with the new and improved layout during afternoon rush hour. That would have saved you from receiving many of spontaneous hand gestures and it would have saved us from sitting on the bridge banging our heads against the steering wheel while everyone at the front of the line tried wrapping their tiny little minds around what was happening.

2. Retirement. If I had to figure out the most talked about issue I’ve heard discussed since joining the workforce it would be retirement without question. It’s possible that it’s a national obsession. I’m looking forward to that happy day when I can tell The Man to shove it just like everyone else, but I don’t have an overwhelming need to talk about it at every opportunity. Maybe it’s because even after eight years I’m still usually the youngest guy in most rooms, but I don’t get the obsession these old codgers have with agonizing over every detail of the how’s and what’s. Check back with me in about 27 years and 332 days and maybe I’ll be singing a different tune, but for now, I think just quietly disappearing one day may be the best approach.

3. Donald Trump. Does this really require an explanation?

4. Thursday. For no other reason than it’s so close to the weekend yet still not Friday. It use to be passable back when Thursday was thirsty, but now that it’s just laundry night most of its allure has worn off. Now it’s just a second helping of Wednesday and there’s nothing cool about that at all.