What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The difference 30 minutes makes. Leaving the office on time gets me out and away minutes ahead of the big rush of traffic trying to squeeze out a couple of undersized gates and onto the also undersized surrounding highways. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’ve put some thought and analysis into minimizing the amount of time I spend fiddling around in traffic.  You see, the difference in leaving 30 minutes later in the afternoon translates into getting home a full hour later than I usually would… so it’s not so much an issue of minding staying in harness for an extra 30 minutes, but the fact that that 30 minutes really costs me a full hour. Anything that slices that deeply into my evening is bound to top the list of things that annoy me.

2. When I tried to warn you. If I come to you four or five times over a period of a few weeks trying to give you a heads up that something is coming along that will bite you in the ass if you ignore it, there’s a fair bet that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve been at this a while now. I don’t cry wolf and I don’t ask for top cover very often. When I do, it’s probably something you should have on your radar. Otherwise, 20 hours before the thing happens you’re going to end up getting hit with a fast moving shit sandwich, wonder how the hell it came out of nowhere, and then get all angsty and aggravated that something that could have been easy turned into a smoking hot mess. I know being the guy who says “I told you so,” isn’t the best look, but I did tell you so. Sadly, I have very little control over what anyone chooses to do with that information even when they have been forewarned.

3. Failure to close. I should have been closing the sale of my condo today… but thanks to various banks, lawyers, and the state of Maryland, I’m not doing that. Instead I’m carrying the place into another month – making another mortgage payment, paying the insurance, and paying the utility bills. Plus, after three and a half weeks of planning, I’m just finding out that the damned home owners association that I’ve been paying into for almost 20 years hasn’t spit back the two page form they’re supposed to fill out so now I’m leaving never returned phone messages for them trying to determine what their dysfunction is. Buying a house is the single most stressful thing I’ve ever done… but don’t kid yourself, selling one is almost if not just as much of a pain in the ass.

Precognition…

So far today I’ve have the opportunity to enjoy all of my usual warning signs that some kind of head cold / sinus thing is in the offing. Itchy eyes? Check. Sore, scratchy throat? Check. Difficulty focusing on any activity lasting more than ten minutes? Check. Constant state of cold/shivers? Check. General feeling of “not quite right.” Check.

Usually my body is kind enough to give me these symptoms as a kind of 48 hour warning that I should wrap up anything important I’m doing and plan on spending a few days on the couch. Since my throat started tickling a little after lunchtime yesterday, I’m willing to bet that my noon-ish tomorrow, maybe as late as close of business, I’m going to feel like warm death. It’s not always a sure thing, but the signs are pretty consistent over time – consistent enough that I’ll be utterly shocked if I don’t end this week feeling like crap.

Thought I’ve often wished for the power to predict the future, I generally only want precognition for important activities like tonight’s winning Powerball numbers or the correct finishing order for a trifecta at Preakness. Going through life knowing with certainly when you’re about to get a cold feels like an awfully lame bit of foresight into the misty uncertainty of tomorrow.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Warning the USSR… errr… Russia. I’ve lost count of the number of times in the last six months that the US has “warned” Russia that its bad behavior will have really bad consequences. As far as I can tell, our national warning is roughly equivalent to an exasperated mother warning the child who’s trying to set the curtains on fire that they’ll “be in trouble when dad gets home.” Except dad isn’t coming home. Ever. We warn and nothing happens. We warn and the UN tries to just talk it out. We warn and the world ignores us. Historically speaking the only influence we’ve ever had on that part of the world, is when we spoke out from a position of military and economic strength and with the voice of a leader who demonstrated his willingness to back up his words with deeds. Now that we as a country seem to be resolved to back up our words with only more words, well, maybe we should just keep our national mouth shut instead of repeatedly sounding like the neighborhood wimp begging “come on guys, stop it.” Better to stay silent than to make a display our current flaccidity on the international stage.

2. Peeing in Portland. Having spent some time in Portland and having enjoyed many, many of their fine micro brews while I was there, I can understand the overwhelming need to pee at inopportune moments. Apparently yesterday someone else had the same experience, but instead of finding the nearest available tree they followed the altogether more dramatic option of taking a leak in one of the city’s reservoirs. And while that’s bad, I think maybe the city overreacted in their response of dumping 38 million gallons of water literally down the drain. I know the vast majority of us don’t want urine spiked drinking water, but it seems to me that anyone who’s ever used a swimming pool are probably exposed to a much higher concentration of the stuff than the good people of Portland were as a result of this incident. And that doesn’t even take into account the number of non-human critters who have used Portland’s open air reservoirs as an all access restroom. All I’m saying is that sometimes overkill really isn’t the answer… except when something is caught on film and a local water authority wants to show that it’s going the extra mile. My guess, if it hadn’t happened within range of a security camera, no one would have a clue it even happened. Sometimes, we’re all better off that way.

3. Rush Hour. Calling it rush hour might be a little extreme, especially for a guy who use to grind it out on the DC beltway and 95 every morning and afternoon, but lately the flight away from the office here has started taking on that flavor. They’re doing some kind of seemingly random construction outside the fence and the Jersey barriers are apparently just enough to make every driver trying to leave a 4PM forget everything they ever knew about operating a motor vehicle. Where I use to be to the car, out the gate, and pointed the right direction on the highway in under 10 minutes, now 20-25 is the norm. Sure, in the grand scheme, and extra ten or fifteen minutes doesn’t make that much difference, but it’s happening at the end of the day, when I want to be anywhere other than where I am. Really, at that point, anything standing between me and the house is considered a hostile target to be put down, gone around, over, or through. I doubt I’m alone in this feeling, but it’s one of those unnecessarily annoying things that could be alleviated by, oh, I don’t know, opening another gate and a few additional outbound lanes of traffic. Or we can just let departing personnel build themselves into a mile long backup in their daily effort to get away. Apparently that’s fine too.

Relax(er)ed…

The last time I was on muscle relaxers, I remember sitting at my desk listening to a phone ringing… and ringing… and ringing… and ringing and looking around in frustration wondering why someone wasn’t picking the damned thing up. Of course it was my phone. Sitting three feet away from me on the desk. Ringing off the hook while I was busy being blissfully unaware of pretty much anything going on around me. It’s a good time, but it’s safe to say that productivity levels suffer as a result.

The hardest thing I do on any given day is keeping the thoughts that pop into my head from simultaneously popping out of my mouth. I suspect for the next week or two that task is going to become even more difficult. If anyone catches me with a look on my face like I’m about to say something ragingly inappropriate for whatever environment we happen to be in, please give me the benefit of a jab in the ribs instead of just sitting there waiting for the punchline. There’s a very, very good chance that I’m going to be far too relax(er)ed to judge that sort of thing on my own.