Unsettled…

One of the undeniable perks of working from home once a week is getting outside with the dogs at lunch time. Usually it’s about as close to a mid-day moment of zen as you’re ever likely to find around my place. Today, though, the only way I can describe it is that the whole outside felt unsettled.

It’s not that there was anything wrong with me, or the dogs, or the house but it felt very much like this little patch of woods was holding its breath – and waiting for something. There were no birds chirping and no small fuzzy creatures – or even large fuzzy ones for that matter. Aside from the steady wind in the upper reaches of the oaks, it was unnaturally quiet. I can’t say it made me nervous, but it definitely had the feeling of being something other than normal.

I’m not a fancy big city scientist, but if I had lay down a guess, it would have something to do with rapid changes in barometric pressure and “big weather” moving in. If it can make the old timer’s arthritis act up, I don’t see any reason not to believe the other creatures of the forest can sense the same thing since they’re the ones really living out in that mess. At least that’s my meager effort to explain today’s brush with the strange and unusual.

In any case, I’ll be happier when it all feels normal again. Like that’s a surprise.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Weather forecasts. I know weather is a complex “system of systems” but damn. If I were as often wrong at prediction and prognosticating results within 24 hours I’d get shitcanned for sure. Yet another example of where I’ve made poor career decisions overall.

2. Restorative days off. I’m a jealous guard of my time off. There is almost nothing I value more highly. I do my best to maximize the value of those days. I hate wasting them… which is why it’s so sad that the restorative effects of time off last no more than two hours into the first day back. It feels like it should take longer than that to slide back into a sea apathy and discontent. The operative word there being “should.”

3. Talk. People talk a lot. They talk and talk. They make promises and speak to high ideals. What almost none of them do, tough, is back that talk up with their actions. Talk is important. It speaks to our aspirations. Behavior, though, that’s what shows people how committed you are to getting there. If you can’t be bothered with the action part of the equation, it’s probably best to just shut the fuck up.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The Obvious. Headlines screaming “America in Deep Freeze,” or “Arctic Blast Cripples East Coast,” or “The Big Chill,” seem a bit superfluous at the moment. It’s mid-December here in the northern hemisphere. We’re right up against the winter solstice. For those who need it spelled out, that means for the next three months or so, cold is perfectly normal and should, generally, be expected. If for some reason the arrival of winter and cold weather have caught you off guard and unprepared, well, you’re an idiot. The fact that so many people are idiots, however, still does not make “it’s cold in the winter” a breaking news story.

2. Election Meddling. It’s cute that we’ve collectively decided that foreign powers meddling in a US election has raised the collective hackles of the press. Anyone familiar with their history over the last 200 years will tell you that we meddle every bit as much as the Russians. Ask the Iranians who ousted the Shah. Ask the Vietnamese about the Diem brothers. Ask any number of Latin American countries about our “helpful” deployment of Marines to ensure their elections turned out the way we wanted them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as angry about Russian interference as anyone, but for us to pretend we don’t do the exact same thing everywhere else on the planet is the height of hypocrisy.

3. Competing priorities. Given the lack of guidance I currently operate under, I’m put in a position where I have to make decisions about what problems get my attention and which ones don’t. I imagine I get it right more often than not (but that’s a complete guess since feedback is also something we don’t do). So when you stop me in the hall at the end of the day and wonder why I wasn’t in some meeting I was “supposed” to be in, there’s fair chance that time got allocated to one of the competing priorities that appeared to be more pressing. I’d be more than happy to work the issues in any order leadership sees fit if they’d just bother to tell me the flavor of the day. If they are going to leave me to my own devices, I’d mostly appreciate not getting blind sided in those rare moments when they choose to care.

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.

The lucky ones or, The difference between climate and weather…

I’m about to say something controversial, or at least controversial among some of my more right leaning friends. Here it is: the Global climate is changing.

It’s shocking I know, but there are a whole sea of scientists who tell me it’s happening and in cases of science, I’m generally inclined to go along with the majority rather than hang in with the outliers. For purposes of this post, I’m just going to stipulate that climate change is a real thing. In fact that’s all I’m going to stipulate to, because I don’t know (and it really doesn’t matter) whether that change is being caused by humans or whether it’s the result of natural phenomena. The cause, at this moment, isn’t actually the important thing.

If we accept that the earth’s climate is changing and that this change will result in a number of negative consequences, the only question that really matters is what are we going to do about it? We can do nothing, let the temperature creep up, let the oceans rise, and get use to the idea that the breadbasket of the world will end up in central Canada instead of the American Midwest. We can adjust to record rainfalls and droughts, to stronger and more frequent hurricanes, and to the coming unprecedented migrations out of areas that will no longer be suitable for human habitation. Those things are coming regardless of whether we cause the earth to warm or if it’s just part of a natural cycle. It’s going to happen.

Why am I saying this? Well, you see I’m one of the lucky ones. Most people my age have had a few kids and might be interested in leaving the world a better place for their offspring. I’m not tied down with that kind of long range baggage. What I’ve got on my side is the fact that global changes come on fairly slowly and that I’ve already exceeded half of my average life expectancy. Playing the numbers, I’ll most likely be able to ride out the last of the good times and then promptly drop dead before things really go to hell in a handbag, so even if we collectively decide to do nothing, it’s mostly wine and roses for this old boy. You bunch out there with kids or grandkids, on the other hand, wow. The world is going to be a different place for them.

The world is getting warmer and that means life is going to get harder, more violent, and generally less pleasant. We can piss and moan about what caused which, or we can throw in and come up with some solutions to get after the worst of the consequences. The only thing that the pop science I have access to seems certain about is that we can change now or change later, but either way a change is going to come. I’d say it’s better now while we have a chance to think it through instead of just reacting to external stimuli. Then again, what do I know, I’m just a guy sitting here who’s smart enough to know there’s a whole world of things he doesn’t know. As a rule, though, when big groups of smarter people than me say there’s a problem I tend to listen to them rather than dismiss them as hokum and witchcraft.

Now I’ll just sit here quietly while someone from the RNC comes to collect my Republican Party ID card and decoder ring because I think it’s ok to know the difference between climate and weather.

Scheduling…

If spontaneity were measured on a scale of 1 to 100, I’d rate myself somewhere around a -36. I like it when there is a plan. It provides order in the face of a chaotic world and clearly delineates options and deflection points where things could go astray. A good plan is a thing of beauty.

Since time immemorial my weekly plan has designated a 45 minute block of Saturday morning for carrying out the week’s primary sustenance acquisition. Given the onrushing storm that’s being hyped without end as Snowpocalypse 2016: The Revenge of Global Warming, planning for a Saturday grocery run seems somewhere between overly optimistic and potentially foolhardy. That means there needs to be a deviation from the schedule in order to pick up fruit and vegetables, meats, coffee creamer, and the rest of the assortment of items that made the cut this week.

Sure, the plan for the week makes allowance for deviations, but now it’s put me in a position where I’m going to have to fight the masses who are religiously unprepared for a minor disruption in their supply chain in order to pick up my basic groceries. While I could ride our a day or two of snow without putting a dent in the canned goods stockpile, fresh food on hand his just better all around. Sadly, it means a direct confrontation with the bread, eggs, and toilet paper crowd sometime in the next 48 hours.

It’s going to be stupid and angry making and precisely the kind of thing a decent plan should prevent. I’m going to have to reevaluate the whole damned schedule now.

Climate and weather…

Over the weekend, the world’s governments trumpeted their having reached an accord on a theoretical way ahead on slowing down global climate change – what we like to call Global Warming.

I’m sure it’s just coincidence, but this weekend it was also just shy of 70 degrees. It’s very nearly the middle of December. Whatever else it is, the temperatures here on the east coast are certainly an anomaly.

Now I’m smart enough  know there is a huge chasm of difference between local weather and the overall climate. Still, if there is any chance that temperatures like these in mid-December is in some way related to climate change, maybe we should be quite so hasty to try rolling it back. I mean sitting in the porch in shorts and a tee shirt on December 13th isn’t exactly all bad.

Sure potential for the 115 degree summers could be problematic in this part of the world, but just now I’m enjoying the hell out of early fall weather in the middle of winter.