As most of you who follow along here will have noticed, I took something of a break from posting new content while I soaked in every moment of my Christmas vacation. They say a break every now and then is good for the whatever. Maybe it is. For the moment, at least, I don’t feel like every blank page is the enemy. Who knows how long that will last, but I’ll enjoy it for the time being.
Even though I wasn’t posting, my hands weren’t completely idle during the break. No matter how much down time I think I’m taking, I never really stop making notes or tapping out a few thoughts that might end up being the foundation for an interesting post. Right now, I have six potential future posts sitting in various stages from raw notes to decent drafts. They’ll probably make up the bulk of what I post over the next week or two.
It’s surprisingly nice not to be working from a blank slate against a daily 6:00 PM deadline. Even though it’s entirely self-imposed, the angst to get something ready is quite real. If I were the kind of person who made new year’s resolutions, making sure I had plenty of material in the queue would be a good one. I’m not that kind of person, of course, so I fully expect that by the end of the month every post will be a race against the clock.
Do you even have a website if you don’t do a year end roundup?
2021 was my best year yet here at WordPress. I exceeded every measurable metric from last year, which was the previous record setter. Not bad for a poky little blog that doesn’t do any advertising, doesn’t have any particular focus or built in fan base, and doesn’t offer any tips or tricks for making anyone’s life any better.
The whole thing exists entirely as a method of saying whatever happens to be on my mind at day’s end. I’m consistently amazed that anyone chooses to follow along with the level of nonsense that shows up here.
Starting next Monday I’ll be back to my regular weekday posting schedule. Whatever fuckery happens in 2022, you probably won’t hear about it here first, but you’ll definitely hear about it eventually. If it’s not good times, I can only assume it’ll be interesting.
I won’t jinx anyone by wishing them a happy new year. Good luck out there.
Over the next week or so, I’m not going to commit to keeping up the regular weekday posting schedule. I might post. I might not. It will be a complete roll of the dice depending on how motivated I am or whether something worth writing about happens to be on my mind.
At best, the schedule of posting here will be going irregular for a few days. The good news is that there’s more than a decade worth of posts right here. Surely a few of them will be new to you if you’re just thirsting for something fresh to read.
We’ll see about getting back on a regular schedule next week. Or maybe the week after that. Or maybe when the new week kick off. Lord knows I’m not making any money doing this, but it’s definitely work and I’m in dire need of not feeling obliged to do anything at all.
So if you don’t hear it directly from me in some other way, I hope each and every one of you have a delightful and enjoyable winter holiday of your choice.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Wow. OK. So, the idea of a series of posts codifying what I believe is already off to a rough start. Maybe I tried to lead off a little too aggressively with thoughts on climate change. What was supposed to be tonight’s feature blog post is currently a 2 page ramble on everything from fossil fuels to hunting. I probably should have started off on something a little less all encompassing than the idea of “the environment,” but here we are.
That post is going to take a level of editorial exertion that doesn’t usually show its face here. Honestly it’s probably going to need to be split into about three separate posts in order to make any sense of it at all. Usually it’s a matter of jamming a few thoughts onto the page, running spell check, do a quick read through, and hope I’ve caught the worst of it before letting something go live. This one, though, is in nothing even close to “ready for prime time.”
It turns out really digging into what you believe and spelling it out in a way that’s reasonably articulate is surprisingly hard to do.
If you’re looking for a preview though, here’s the takeaway: The environment is going to be the most important issue in the 21st century. Through a combination of ignorance, willful disregard, and simple inertia, we’re collectively destroying it. We’re extracting resources at a rate inconsistent with both long term economic growth and continued life on this planet for tens of thousands of species – including our own. Human beings have overcome every challenge that’s ever been placed in front of us. We need to find a way to stop destroying the natural world and the sooner it happens the less awful it will be.
It’s the challenge for our time.
For the last few weeks I’ve been pondering on the idea of a new limited series of posts. Maybe six or twelve posts here, expanding on my view of all the controversial stuff that seems to preoccupy our every waking moment.
I’m thinking here of abortion, voting and voting rights, free speech, LGBTQ issues, the Second Amendment, the environment, healthcare and the social safety net, and fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof). I’m sure offhand I’m missing some of the key topics that make people do the crazy.
It feels like good mental exercise to a) Refine my own thinking a bit and b) Likely offend, anger, annoy, or otherwise agitate every single person who reads the blog or follows me on social media over the course of two or three months. I mean with goals like that, what could really go wrong?
So, aside from anything I’ve already thrown out, what are the other grand controversies of the day just begging to be given the once over?
1. At least twice this week, as I drifted off to sleep, I thought of something and noted that it would be a good blog topic. Yep. I’ll write about that tomorrow. Of course by morning the thought had completely evaporated without hope of recovery. All I’m left with is the ghost of an interesting idea and no ink on the page. I’m going to need the ideas to start coming before that instant when consciousness blinks out of the night while I’ve still got a fighting chance of making some notes.
2. There’s a day next week I wasn’t scheduled to be in the office. Now I am. Not because of some bureaucratic fuckery, but because I opened my own stupid mouth and volunteered. After almost 19 years you’d think I would know better. Sure, it’s one of my few “high profile” projects, but there’s absolutely nothing I can add in person that I couldn’t have added in a video call. But there I’ll be, failing to strike a blow for the power or remote work. Let the record show I’m able to annoy myself just as much if not more than other people can manage to achieve.
3. I’ve been using my original Gmail address since back in the olden days when the service was “by invitation only.” Yes, I’m well aware of how much of my “personal information” Google is sweeping up in their net by providing this otherwise free service, but it has been an absolute workhorse over the years. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to check my email and found it unavailable. I’ve been using the account for everything, for so long now, that it’s almost starting to choke on the not-quite-spam – or the random marketing emails sent by companies I legitimately do business with. They’re companies I don’t necessarily want caught in the spam filter because I like getting receipts, bills, and the other bits of information I need,.. but getting 20-30 messages a day that are close to but not quite spam feels like way too much. I could probably spend a little while tightening up my filters, but I definitely wanted to bitch about it first.
I’ve been struggling to come up with a ramble or rant for tonight. The truth is, despite plenty of things going on in the world, I can gin up enthusiasm for just about none of them… and in the case of the ones that are vaguely interesting, I find that I just don’t have that much to say. It’s not a comfortable place to be for someone whose best means of communication has always been putting words on the page. Still, I’ve decided not to force it.
Whatever motivation I can usually scrape together as 6 o’clock comes on just isn’t there this evening, so I’m going to go ahead and hit pause. Maybe just for tonight. Maybe for the rest of the week. Maybe… well, who knows.
I’ll be back when I have something to say and the motivation to say it.
I spent a fair amount of today screwing around with PowerPoint. It’s only worth remarking on because I do it far less often now than I did once upon a time.
There are a chosen few people who can make PowerPoint sing. They turn it into a real dark art form. They’ll add all the bells and whistles and make the thing look like the slickest sales presentation you’ve ever seen. I’ve long known that PowerPoint is a tool of the devil, but I’ve always had just a little bit of admiration for these sorcerers and their unholy works.
On my very best day, my own slide decks could best be described as “wordy.” Some people think in charts an graphs. Others think in numbers. Me? Well, I think in words. A big beautiful block of text gets the point across to me far better than any amount of razzle-dazzle you can jam into a chart.
The written word, when used correctly, is a thing of real beauty. When used in conjunction with a slide deck, even the best words are a bit of a red headed stepchild. Even with that being the case, words are still the very best way I know of conveying meaning and subtlety. In retrospect I’m not sure I managed to do that either… but there were a lot of words on the page so I suppose that counts for something.
As I was fiddling around with last night’s post, I did some tangentially related digging in the archive. I was somewhat absentmindedly thinking about the overall premise for Thursday night’s regular edition of What Annoys Jeff this Week and how out of character it would be to have simply one thing standing on its own. That, inevitably, sent me scurrying down my own internet rabbit hole.
I’ve always thought of WAJTH as a static item. A blast of three very short form topics showing up each and every Thursday nearly without fail. That it consistently shows up on Thursday is true enough, but for the rest, well, memory isn’t always the best guide to what actually happened in the past.
As it turns out, over the last 481 weeks – yes, that’s nine and one quarter years of being annoyed – WAJTW has apparently evolved. The first post, way back on September 1st, 2011 covered four topics. After that, for almost a year, posts swung between four and five topics. It wasn’t until August 2012 that I seem to have adopted the standard three topic format that has dominated Thursdays ever since. Maybe it took me that long to figure out how to condense the week into the three most annoying – or at least the three most easily set to print – things that happened.
I’ve been filling up pages of this blog for so long now, that it’s easy to forget that there really is an evolution of style over time. Looking back at some of those early editions of WAJTW, I like to think I’ve made some stylistic improvements in how I get my points across. Even if they are better written, I was a little impressed with how many of the topics from those first few weeks are still things that annoy the hell out of me on a regular basis. Some things, it turns out, really are eternal.
The good news, I suppose, if you happened to miss reading my daily rantings, is that I’m back. The bad news, if you’re me, of course, is also that I’m back.
I’m not upset at all to be back to blogging. It’s the fact that my having anything to say is squarely driven by being back to work after nine days off that’s the problem.
As it turns out, when I’m not spending a large portion of each day screwing around with work, I’m mostly content to putter around the house, knock off an errand or two every day, and otherwise keep myself to myself. I believe I’d be happy to keep that schedule up indefinitely. There isn’t enough time in a standard weekend to really grasp how much better those days are, but when you stack eight or nine of them in a row, the truth outs.
If all goes according to plan, I’ve got just under 14 years left in harness. I’ve occasionally wondered if the blog will survive that transition. I use to assume it would go on as long as I did. Maybe I’ll catch a second wind, but it feels just now like the whole thing could easily find it’s end precisely when the work stops. It turns out the angst and bitching is dramatically reduced by the simple expedient of doing what I want and on my own schedule rather than tinkering about with email and spreadsheets all day. I’m not sure I’ll have all that much to say when I don’t have that to fall back on.
I’d imagine that will be a good problem to have… and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.