What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Spring mix. Look, a hungry tortoise needs to eat. I’m slowly working on getting George to accept pelletized dry food as a supplement, but it’s a hard sell for a boy who was raised from day one eating fresh leafy greens. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a shortage of spring mix, kale, or collared greens, but I still have to schlep out to get them… and that happens just about every 4th or 5th day, because fresh greens get slimy in a hurry. I’m a past master at drying off and storing spring mix in layers of paper towels, but what I really need is for that stuff to just last for another day or two before turning to slime so I can knock down the mandatory trips out of the house from two each week to one. 

2. Masks. Reports are that the CDC is considering recommending everyone where a mask when they leave home, which is exactly counter to the recommendation that the general public didn’t need masks that they’ve been pushing for weeks. Adjusting to new information is fine, it’s how science is supposed to work. Except it can’t work that way right now. The CDC suddenly recommending that everyone should wear a mask when there aren’t enough of them in the supply chain to satisfy the demand just of the medical community is irresponsible. Sending 300+ million people out to panic buy masks will make them even harder to acquire. Even if it is the best medical advice, in the current environment it doesn’t make sense.

3. Essential. A former boss of mine could always be counted on to remind you that “words have meaning” whenever you wrote something that wasn’t exactly the way he would have put it. The thing is, you see, he wasn’t wrong. Words absolutely have meaning. We use them to convey information. The word that seems to be creating the most struggle this week is “essential.” Sure, everyone wants to feel like they’re important. They like to believe that they’re the cog without which the great machinery of state can’t run. There are jobs that can’t be deferred for a month, a week, an hour, or a minute. There are jobs that need doing right fucking now. Despite what people or bosses think, most of us don’t really make the cut. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Romaine. After discovering that romaine lettuce was temporarily poisonous to people, anything containing that devil’s weed was unceremoniously yanked from the shelves of grocery stores across the country. That’s fine. E. coli isn’t exactly something most people want spread around. But please, in your haste to throw out all things green, spare a thought for the poor tortoise keepers among you. Even if romaine wasn’t a staple food for my tort, it was an element of the spring mix he got on a fairly regular basis. With romaine being potentially toxic for human consumption, of course spring mix it disappeared from the shelves too… which has left George with a mix of kale, mustard greens, and collards that he is clearly not in favor of based on his attitude for the last several days. The supply is also a lot more limited with people also opting for the “whatever is green” option to meet their salad needs. We’ve reached the point where I’m 100% willing to risk a few measly human deaths to have a happy and well-fed tortoise again. 

2. People. It’s kind of adorable that anyone who knows me thinks I can be guilted into changing my position by showing me pictures of or telling me stories about people. I think my position on people as a group is pretty well known. There are, of course, exceptions and people who I dearly love and highly respect. For the most part, though, I literally can’t even with people. By contrast, though, if you harm one little hair on the head of an animal that’s not culturally accepted as livestock, though, and I’d be happy to melt your face off with a blowtorch.

3. The United States Postal Service. We’re now well into day five of watching my latest prescription refill travel the approximately 40 miles between DC and Baltimore. After two days of lingering around our nation’s capital, the precision tracking app provided by the USPS tells me that it’s once again on the move… of course it neglects to mention where it’s headed or when it may arrive other than blithely saying it will be on my doorstep my 8PM tonight. That seems unlikely since the rest of my mail arrived hours ago and, well, since this is the 2nd soon-to-be-missed delivery estimate. Yes, I can call in a “bridge” request and CVS will front me a few days of meds from a local store – with the requisite $80 co-pay of course – but that’s not the point, really. I don’t think expecting a delivery service that would arrive to me in a more timely manner than if I drove way the hell down to Tampa and picked the order up myself from the warehouse is really anything out of order.

Nose job…

I interrupted a perfectly nice telework day today to take George over to the reptile and exotic pet veterinarian in the next county over. One of the most endearing qualities of your average small sized tortoise is that they are a remarkably low-maintenance animal to keep around. Keep their enclosure clean and stocked with things to push around or climb over, daily feeding and watering, and they almost take care of themselves. Except, of course, for the times when they don’t.

Despite my best efforts to provide sufficient rough surfaces to keep George’s beak in check, it was obviously growing too long and would eventually give him trouble eating. The tortoise nose job turned out to be a 5-minute exercise with a Dremel tool that people all over the internet say you can do yourself. Honestly for less than $50, it’s well worth letting the professionals handle carrying out the task and giving the old boy the once over.

Maybe I’m too use to dragging a bulldog to the vet, but a quick trip where everything was easy and there wasn’t a massive bill due at the end almost felt like a let down – like something too easy. Then again I wasn’t the member of the herd getting a nose job with a Dremel so it’s hard to say what “too easy” might actually look like. I should probably just be satisfied that for the moment all the creatures are in reasonably good health and not racking up new bills.

Animal kingdom…

The homestead is something of an animal kingdom. The squirrels and birds get plied with all the nuts and seeds they can eat, the resident deer get the occasional handful of corn, and all manner of morsels from the kitchen feed whatever creatures will eat them. The critters inside pretty much have the run of the place. As often as not it feels like the whole household is designed around them. Given the amount of time I spent shifting furniture yesterday that’s not quite an understatement.
Until Hershel the cat came along, George the tortoise lived happily in his open topped enclosure in the office. With the addition of a cat, who wasn’t so IMG_6401.JPGmuch interested in the tortoise as he was in jumping into and out of the enclosure and spinning ground coconut onto every flat surface in the room with every leap in and out. Between the never-ending cycle of vacuuming up coconut shell and the threat of tipping over various heat lamps, the two had to be separated.

That was easy enough in the winter – close up the doors to the sunroom/office and go on about the day. With spring setting in and inability to satisfactorily control the ambient air temperature coming to a head, George had to move… Which is why I spent most of the day yesterday getting him installed in his own bedroom. Yes, I understand how perfectly ridiculous that sounds, but I suspect we’ll all be happier with this arrangement. Well, the cat may not be as pleased since I seem to have taken away one of his favorite toys. I supposed he’ll just have to satisfy himself with other less messy options for the foreseeable future.

I’m well satisfied with out new arrangement, but perhaps more satisfied that the furniture is all back in place and the hand carts and other implements of moving are back in the garage. Around here the biggest enemies to a happy life are chaos and disorder. Spending the better part of a day bringing those to heel feels like time awfully well spent.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

If you thought movin’ on up was going to in any way interfere with regular installments of WAJTW you clearly don’t know me at all. In my head there’s always something worth bitching about. Like these:

1. Going bump in the night. Two nights in a row I was brought out of a dead sleep by something going bump in the night. It’s a fine little rush, but doesn’t make for a restful time. The third time it happened it wasn’t so much a bump as it was a persistent scratching… and that’s when reality sank in. My headboard and George’s tank align almost perfectly and are separated by two thicknesses of drywall and about three inches of air. Every time he did a little excavating or nudged the side of the tank I was hearing my tortoise loud and clear from half a foot away. That made it a lot less unnerving at 3AM, but didn’t do much at all to eliminate it’s the week’s most annoying “discover” here at Casa de Jeff v2.

2. High efficiency. I inherited a high efficiency front load washing machine. It’s an impressive piece of equipment, no doubt. However, with the old top load $300 Sears outlet model, when I set it to a normal wash cycle it would finish like clockwork in about 40 minutes. This new, improved, high efficiency model on the other hand just takes as much time as it decides it wants to take no matter what it’s set on. Could be 30 minutes. Could be 2 hours. Just depends. While my clothes, I’m sure, are cleaner than ever it sure would be nice to have a little predictability in how long getting them to that state might take.

3. Stupid dreams. So far this week I’ve had dreams about home networking, dreams about washing machines, and dreams about work. Whatever happened to dreams about Sports Illustrated cover models, I have no idea. All I know is going to bed is way less fun when it involves home improvement projects rather than scantily clad supermodels.

By George…

From time to time I’m criticized for not posting enough pictures, stories, or thoughts about George, the Russian tortoise who’s been in residence here for almost two years now. Rest assured that George is alive and well. He’s living in a 100 gallon Rubbermaid tub in the living room, eating a eclectic mix of greens, and spending his days pushing things from one side of his tank to the other. He’s basically doing what a tortoise does. For the record, they’re not a pet I’d recommend for someone looking for an activity partner – unless your preferred activity is basking.

With fall and winter coming on (not that you’d know it from the temperature around here lately), the days for getting him outside to roam around the yard are coming to an end. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building him a bigger indoor enclosure to replace the three giant blue containers sitting in the corner. I was looking at materials and what others had done online, but really struck on what looks like the future the last time I was wandering around Home Depot. I think the solution might just be the plastic pond liners people use to add water features to their back yards. It’s got high sides, lots of interior space, and should be easy enough to configure into multiple levels to give him room to maneuver. With a little work it also looks like it would be less obtrusive in the room than what I’m using now.

OK, so technically that’s more of an update on what George’s future home is probably going to look like, but hopefully it’s enough to earn some credit for discussing the least mentioned of my 4-legged kids.


I’m hopelessly devoted to the dogs. It’s safe to say that there are human children in Ceciltucky who are more poorly cared for then these two fur balls. Even so, it would occasionally be nice to take a step backwards without needing to check my six. I only bring it up because Maggie has been exceptionally needy this afternoon. And by needy, I mean attached to my hip even more than usual. That’s not an exaggeration. Every time I move, she adjusts so that some part of her is in direct contact with me. It’s sweet, but more than a bit inconvenient.

Winston, bless my stoic descendent of British fighting dogs, is mostly happy just to lay in front of the couch protecting his marrow bone and casting an occasional look around the room to make sure everyone is still there. George, being a tortoise, could care less. At the moment, he’s under his heat lamp looking very much like a round, shiny rock. It’s for the best. I’m not sure I could manage with three that need undivided attention.

This post would be longer, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to type anything coherent with one hand while the other is occupied with playing tug and dispensing ear scratches…

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Sequestration. Some are hailing the alleged reduction in furlough days from 22 to 14 as “great” news for Defense employees. While I agree that it is news, that’s pretty much where I’m going to have to stop. It sounds a bit to me like the Pentagon is set to announce the good news that its civilian employees still have a sucking chest wound, but it was delivered form a .40 round instead of from a .45. Neither one of those events would be welcomed as a “good news” story by most people. I guess when it comes to getting screwed with your pants on, I can’t differentiate by degrees of badness.

2. Tortoise Poop. George has been part of the menagerie for about three months now. He’s been a great, non-obtrusive addition who seems to enjoy spending most days alternately sleeping in his flower pot, sitting under his sunlamp, or grazing on mixed greens. The only problem I’ve encountered so far is that tortoise poo reeks – and I don’t mean it’s a little smelly. Think more like condensed cow manure being deposited in your living room. It’s not awful if you are home and can get to it right away, but if you happen to be at work and it festers under the heat lamp all day, well, then God help you. Yankee Candle doesn’t have enough wax to cover that shit up.

3. What is Dead May Never Die. With apologies to House Greyjoy, they ain’t got nothing on the bureaucracy. Surely one of the most agitating features of work is seeing the project that was supposed to be dead and gone three months ago, that you buried, purified by fire, and hoped to never see again, rising from the ashes to again steal time and attention away from other things you’re trying to get finished. No matter how thoroughly an idea has been debunked, disproved, and derided, just wait a while and it’s sure to come back to you. Like the murderer in a horror movie, just when you think it’s long gone, it will rise again to claim at least one more victim.