What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Gender specific household chores. In the last week I’ve seen a literal shitload of social media posts boohooing that traditional “women’s work” is unappreciated in the household. Yes, I’m sure these posts are directed at a certain sub set of the population that largely includes households that consist of two adults and a few spawn, but honest to God my reaction is almost universally “Oh just shut the hell up.” If I don’t do the “girly” things like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and making of doctor’s appointments those things don’t get done. If I don’t feed the dogs, cat, and tortoise they don’t get fed. Likewise if I don’t do the “manly” things like cut the grass, change the oil, clean the gutters, and do the other household maintenance, those things don’t get done. If I don’t drag my ass out of bed and into the office 40 hours a week, there’s no money to do any of the above mentioned activities. You see, I’m an adult. I do the things because that’s what being an adult means. There are days I’d love to have the luxury of dividing it vaguely near the middle and calling some of it someone else’s responsibility. The fact that somewhere out there many pairs of grown ass adult humans apparently can’t figure out how to each do approximately half the things I somehow manage to do on my own ranks somewhere between appalling and infuriating.

2. Pet owners who shouldn’t. If you need to be told to bring your pets inside during a hurricane you are an absolute fuckwit and would do the world a considerable favor by tying yourself to a bundle of cinder blocks and letting the storm surge have you. I’m willing to accept no excuse of stupidity, poverty, or unavoidable circumstance to justify your ineptitude to provide even the most basic level of care for a creature that relies solely on you to provide for it. In the benevolent reign of King Jeff you would be drug into the street, given a fair trial, and then summarily shot and left where you fall.

3. Internet experts. I love hurricane season because it’s when the internet experts in material acquisition and distribution logistics all come out of the woodwork with an “opinion” on how to a) get the right stuff and b) move it to the right place at the right time. I won’t go into my firm believe that these are the same experts who are personally challenged to execute their weekly trip to pick up family groceries and who’s greatest logistical achievement to date is packing the family truckster for a week long roadtrip to Wally World. My point is, it’s fine to have an opinion, you’re entitled to it… but it’s always best to try not to sound like a complete idiot while you’re having it.

Of beans and books and possibility…

About six days a week I drive past a little shop on Main Street that specializes in providing whole coffee beans and tea leaves to the more discerning hot beverage enthusiasts in the surrounding area. About once a month I stop in and pick up a pound of really good beans and sample of whatever brew they’re serving up that day. It’s the kind of shop I like to think I’d own if I had any interest in being a shop owner or working with the public in any way.

One of the charming features of this shop in particular is that they’ve blown out a wall to open their space into the neighboring building that does business as part antique shop / part used book store. There’s something in the scent combination of several hundred pounds of coffee and tea mixed with old objects and aging paper that just appeals to me. For whatever reason, I enjoy it and the shop owners seem to enjoy taking my money so it’s a win-win for all involved.

Sometimes I find a few things worth adding to the shelf, other times not, but until my last visit it’s always been a happy experience either way. On my last stop for coffee and a good rummage through the shelves, a youngish human, female type, injected herself into my personal space and struck up a conversation – mostly about the shop, the books, and general pleasantries. It’s not the kind of activity I usually encourage, but she was brunette and pleasing to look at and didn’t “like” or “you know” her way through the English language. She showed me a few of the books cradled in her arms and then asked what I was reading.

Right there, you see, is where I should have read the question as a danger sign. Instead of offering up something blandly inoffensive or popular or even one of the old classics, I had to open my mouth and gush about the intriguing book I was currently reading about the 6th ship in the Royal Navy to carry the name HMS Warspite and its service from Jutland to the end of World War II. I clearly missed the part where her eyes glazed over, but the “uh, that’s… uh, nice” as she suddenly found renewed interest in the stacks was unmistakable. I can’t help but remark on the grand irony of being torpedoed because of my great love of British naval history.

So that’s the story of beans and books and possibly squandered because I wasn’t smart enough to disengage half my brain and approach with caution. Next time I’m just going to say I’m reading Harry Potter for the 3rd time and try to avoid any topic that might hint that I’m anything more than a redneck in a golf shirt. Go ahead and file that under lessons learned.

Comfort and convenience…

So given the stink being raised (pun clearly intended) about who should and shouldn’t be using the variously marked public restrooms, I can’t help but wade in to the mess. See what I did there?

For purposes of this discussion let’s assume for a moment that there’s a clearly designated men’s room and a clearly designated women’s room. Anyone who self-identifies as a man uses the men’s room. Anyone who self-identifies as a woman uses the women’s room. Seems easy enough as long as we don’t get stuck on who has what plumbing.

With that understanding of the situation, my biggest question is what’s to stop me, a 300 pound, goteed, heteronormative male, from deciding I’d just rather use the ladies loo? Maybe it’s closer to my desk. Maybe it’s just because the ladies (maybe) don’t piss all over the seat. The reason behind my decision doesn’t really matter because we’ve established that people get to pick the bathroom where they feel most comfortable regardless of what their personal equipment or what anyone else using those facilities thinks.

Personally, I don’t care who’s popping a squat in the stall next to me, but if we’re all going to be cheerleaders for equal-access restrooms, don’t be surprised if I show up farting and belching in the ladies room at some point just because it’s more convenient. If anyone makes a fuss, I’ll just call myself a big, bald, ugly chick who likes looking awfully butch and wearing polos and khakis. How dare you question my authenticity and can you please point the way to the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity office so I can file a complaint and set myself up for a nice settlement.

I’m sure the issue is full of nuance and subtlety that I’m somehow missing, but what it seems to boil down to for me is a question of how far does my right to make the vast majority of those around me uncomfortable stretch in my relentless pursuit of pooping where I want to poop?

What Annoys Jeff this Week? (The Centennial Edition)

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 100th installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week. With nearly two years of weekly annoyances under my belt, the only thing I can say from the writer’s perspective is that despite living in a universe that seems personally intent on agitating the shit out of me, I always look forward to Thursdays. They’re the day I get to compact many of the small issues into one great big ball of pissed off and launch it out into the world. It may not be classy, but it’s cathartic.

I thought about working up something special for this auspicious occasion, but decided quickly that the best tribute would be letting it out the same way I do every Thursday – a simple list and brief description of the week’s three most pressing annoyances.

1. Technology. Honestly, I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t wrapped in the warm electromagnetic cocoon of modern technology. That’s also the problem. In a week that’s been a near constant battle with my laptop, with my wireless router, and my internet provider just to stay connected, I wonder if perhaps I’ve put a bit too much reliance on the network. Yeah, that’s really not so much a question as a statement of fact. Still, I’m pretty sure what I’m really looking for is a system that works flawlessly all the time and not a way to disengage myself from it… because the only thing more annoying than having every bite of universal data at your fingertips is not having it when you want it. Stupid double edged sword.

2. Insurance. I got a notice this week that my prescription drug plan cost is going up about $40 a month. The cost of my general insurance plan is jumping this year too, but that’s not what annoys me, really. After all, the insurance premiums and out of pocket costs are basically just the price I pay to avoid being dead. As far as I’m concerned, not being dead is basically worth every penny I need to pay. Quite frankly, I don’t want healthcare in the country to be “average”. I want to nation’s best hospitals and corporations to dump money hand over fist into developing innovative treatments and medical equipment. Like it or not, 300+ million people can’t all get the best care on the planet, but over time the ideas they pioneer at the best hospitals can develop into common practice across the country. That’s good for everyone. Until then, if I want to drive myself eyeball deep into debt to get treatment at Hopkins, Sloan-Kettering, or the Mayo Clinic, that’s my decision because at least for now I’m the one paying the bill. When someone else foots the bill and tries to be all things to all people, we inevitably end up with a mediocre “standard level of service,” and I like being alive entirely too much to let any government entity of company decide what treatment checks off the box that says “good enough.”

3. Chicks. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but love for you ladies out there. You’re soft and curvy and smell nice. I love the way you walk and the way you talk… but after 35 years I still have no ability to understand the way you think. Although I am an accomplished man with many skills and talents, the ability to read minds is one that, thus far, I haven’t mastered. I’ll keep working on it, but in the meantime I’d consider it a personal favor if you could just go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind rather than letting me speculate wildly on my own. Trust me, left to my own devices my mind can conjure notions that are generously described as “bleak.” And that tends to be a situation other than good for everyone involved.

Ladies lying about in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government…

I’m generally considered a pretty smart guy, but I have never understood the thought process that goes on in the mind of chicks when they are making potentially life altering decisions. I’m a planner by habit as well as by profession and one thing I can say with a far degree of certainty is that “butterfly feelings” in the stomach area and how cute it was because he cried are generally not major planning considerations. In fact, I’d go so far to say that they are, in fact, a poor basis for any decision-making process.

Decisions of significance are made after careful analysis of the possible and likely outcomes, the severity of risks, consultation with subject matter experts, and a through “scrub” to make sure you are even asking the right questions. Without applying an overlay of logic to the process, decisions basically become “guesses.” And quite frankly, it has been my experience that life is far too short and time is far too precious to stumble from one point to another based on my best guess

I don’t mind dispensing advice; in fact I rather enjoy doing it. But please, ladies, when you ask, remember that I’m going to apply logical analysis to the situation rather than take stock in whatever butterfly effect you might be feeling. And if at some point one of you can explain to me what I’m missing here, please, please clue me in. I’m serious here people, I know there are a lot of you out there who read on a regular basis. I just want to understand what I am working with here. Can one of you dear readers enlighten me?