2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 01:34 pm
jayfurr: (Default)


Lots and lots and lots of stuff has happened to the Furr family in 2017 -- and by Furr family, I guess I should say "Jay and Carole Furr" since the larger Furr family kind of blew up last year when my father died in March (Mom had already died, back in 2011). And we haven't really posted about much of any of it, not in any organized fashion.

I doubt that anyone really cares, since unused, cobweb-covered personal blogs are a dime a dozen, but once in a while I feel kind of guilty and think "I should post something".  So here goes: 2017 as it's happened to us.

  • We went to Hawaii for two weeks in February -- one week on board a cruise ship out of Oahu, stopping off at the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and ending back up in Oahu, and three days before and after just bumming around Oahu.  We had a fantastic time, more or less.

  • Carole's mom Anne Stoops passed away in June after a long illness.  That leaves only one of our four parents alive: Carole's dad Glenn.  May he live for many, many more years.

  • Carole started a new job in August at the Burlington Housing Authority as a staff accountant.  Carole has had a lot of jobs over the years, but this seems like the best fit for her in quite some time.

  • Carole has long wanted to learn to cook, but has always been terrified of hot ovens and complicated recipes and so forth.   So, she signed up for the Blue Apron program, where they send you all the ingredients and detailed instructions for two or three meals a week and there are all sorts of tips and tricks and technique videos on their website to refer to if you need them.   I've helped on some recipes, but she's been making fantastic progress, mostly on her own, just by dutifully following the recipes.  It's turned out to be a lot more cost effective than eating in restaurants, too, and we can't really recall any of the meals we've been sent turning out less than "pretty good".  Most have been "great".

  • In August, we went to Kentucky for the 2017 solar eclipse.  Saw it from the Jefferson Davis State Historic  Site near Hopkinsville.  The eclipse was stunning.  The 12 hours of traffic getting from Hopkinsville back to Carole's dad's house in Dayton, Ohio was less so.

  • I turned 50 in September.   Carole bought me a cake and that was pretty much it as far as observances went.  I guess not having any friends who live in the area would have made having any kind of party in honor of the big 5-0 difficult.

  • We lost our beloved tortoiseshell cat, Starlight (aka "Torbie") to complications from bladder cancer and Carole was absolutely devastated.  I wasn't exactly turning cartwheels either, but Torbie had basically been Carole's personal cat for 15 years, sleeping on her chest most nights and so on.  

  • We adopted a new cat, Maggie, a couple of weeks after we lost Starlight.   Carole just felt that the niche in her life earmarked for "tortoiseshell cat" should not be left empty for any sizeable length of time, and instead of doggedly watching the local Humane Society's web page for new kittens, we wound up driving all the way down to the New Paltz/Poughkeepsie, NY vicinity to adopt a cat from a local adoption nonprofit down there.   Maggie is a sweet little kitten and Carole has taken to her like a duck to water.

  • We've both been dealing with estate stuff.   Even though my dad passed away a year and a half ago, stuff relating to the sale of the house in Florida is still ongoing, and one of these days it'll be done, but don't ask me when.   Carole's mom left some money directly to her and so she's got all sorts of tax implications and 401(k) rollovers and so forth to process.   I knew losing one's parent(s) is stressful, but I guess I was naive about exactly why.
  •  
  • This past weekend I walked in the 2017 Atlanta Susan G Komen 3-Day.   I raised, thanks to generous friends and co-workers, $2,600.   This was my 17th walk as a walker and 27th walk overall.  I had a bad time the first day because I'd reflexively taken my metoprolol blood pressure medication in the morning and forgotten how it really impacts any kind of physical activity.  Big-time fatigue.   That night I found out that a close co-worker had passed away from a massive heart attack, and on Day 2 I was a complete wreck.   I managed Day 3 just fine, but I've got some blisters from heck as a result of all those Atlanta hills.

  • On kind of a less date-specific basis, I've been dealing with some pretty bad clinical depression.  I'm seemingly out of the worst of it at this point, but earlier in the year I felt so bad that I shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts and started apologizing to people for existing.  Fortunately, it didn't negatively affect my work; I'm too pre-programmed for that.  But in many other respects, I just turned into a zombie.  I'm sorry for being a drag to those of you who got to witness the whole mess.

I'm sure there's other things that might have been considered "newsworthy" -- Carole going to a cousin's wedding in Quebec City, for example -- but frankly, given that just about no one noticed I was taking a months-long sabbatical from social media, I doubt anyone's going to be going through the list, above, and ticking off things we forgot to include.   That said, if you read this far, thank you!  It's nice to know that a few people still read personal blogs.
jayfurr: (Default)


I apologize to everyone for being a tiresomely annoying, self-centered, whiny, attention-whoring, angry, malicious jerk.


I wish I could make amends to everyone I’ve harmed.


Since I can’t, I am planning on more-or-less permanently deactivating all my social media accounts.


If, in the short term, you would like a personal apology, let me know. It’s always hard to know if a personal attempt at amends will actually make things worse, and that’s the last thing I want to do.

jayfurr: (Sepia)

As of this April 16, it'll have been ten years since the horrific events that took place in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16, 2007.

In the ten years since a mentally ill young man ran amuck with his guns and took the lives of 28 students and four faculty members -- and wounded seventeen others -- members of the Virginia Tech university community have gathered each year on April 16 to stand vigil and to remember those we lost.

I'd like to be there in person for the remembrance (I grew up in Blacksburg and received my masters degree there), but unfortunately, I have to be in Lubbock, Texas for work that day.  In fact, I've never yet managed to be there for the memorial despite my active travel schedule.  I've always hoped that I could route myself through Blacksburg on my way to Seattle or San Francisco or Tucumcari, but it just hasn't worked out.

I wish I could say that the Virginia Tech massacre served as the Pearl Harbor-like wake-up call for the American people that finally got us to realize how out of control our love affair with firearms has become.

I wish I could say that the National Rifle Association realized that there are more important things in life than maximizing gun manufacturers' profits.

I wish I could say that we, as a society, took a look at what happened in West Ambler-Johnston Hall and Norris Hall that awful day and decided "this far, and no further."  That it had to stop.

Unfortunately, I can't say that.   Blacksburg wasn't enough.  Sandy Hook wasn't enough.  Aurora wasn't enough.  Orlando wasn't enough.  Ten thousand gun homicides a year in the United States aren't enough. Nothing's enough.

Nothing's ever going to be enough.

Our society has "addict brain" where our fetish for firearms is concerned, and the only thing that satisfies the craving, however briefly, is...

More guns.
jayfurr: (Default)

In my office, at work, which I never actually go in to, I have a wooden bowl containing five plastic potatoes.

I have a lava lamp.

I have a Lite-Brite.

I have a wooden Vietnamese croaking frog.

I have a 2016 Cattle Mutilators wall calendar.

I keep thinking about taking in my TI-99/4A and my one remaining CRT-based TV and hooking them up and leaving them on my desk, just to confuse people.


Office as performance art.

50

Feb. 9th, 2017 08:40 am
jayfurr: (Default)

As of tonight, when we arrived in Honolulu and checked in to a hotel on Waikiki Beach, I have now been to all 50 U.S. states.  I don’t count “changed planes in an airport” visits; I’ve stayed overnight in almost all states and the ones I haven’t, I’ve driven around in, had a meal in, etcetera.


My 49th was Alaska, back in 2007.  Took ten years to cross off number 50, but I made it at last.

jayfurr: (Default)

I’ve worked for my current employer for almost 19 years. In that time, I’ve been through a vast swamp of performance review systems. You name it, we’ve probably tried it, from picking three co-workers to review you, to reviewing yourself and having your manager go over the review with you, to reaching into a bag of randomly selected biting crustaceans and … well, no, we haven’t tried that one.


Yet.


This year’s system is a bit less onerous than most. Rather than pointlessly setting goals for 2017 that are dead on arrival due to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of my specific job, mostly I was asked to look back on 2016 and say that I worked hard, made a difference, reflected corporate values, and so forth.


Since I work really, really hard all year and take my job very seriously, there’s never really been much difficulty coming up with a list of all the stuff I did all year to make customers count, embrace change, promote innovation, and so forth… and generally each year my manager ends whatever subsequent discussion takes place with some form of “there’s not much for me to say, really, except ‘attaboy’.”


I just submitted the final version of this year’s review and got asked to complete a quick little survey from Corporate asking how much I liked the current process, did it make a difference, etcetera, etcetera. It ended with “Describe your opinion of the process in three words.”


Naturally, I put down:



  • “Zesty”

  • “Empowering”

  • “Pellucid”


I’m sure they’ll take my opinion under advisement as they begin to put together what system we’ll use next year.


I’m hoping for something that involves cheese.


jayfurr: (Default)
I've worked for my current employer for almost 19 years. In that time, I've been through a vast swamp of performance review systems. You name it, we've probably tried it, from picking three co-workers to review you, to reviewing yourself and having your manager go over the review with you, to reaching into a bag of randomly selected biting crustaceans and ... well, no, we haven't tried that one.

Yet.

This year's system is a bit less onerous than most. Rather than pointlessly setting goals for 2017 that are dead on arrival due to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of my specific job, mostly I was asked to look back on 2016 and say that I worked hard, made a difference, reflected corporate values, and so forth.

Since I work really, really hard all year and take my job very seriously, there's never really been much difficulty coming up with a list of all the stuff I did all year to make customers count, embrace change, promote innovation, and so forth... and generally each year my manager ends whatever subsequent discussion takes place with some form of "there's not much for me to say, really, except 'attaboy'."

I just submitted the final version of this year's review and got asked to complete a quick little survey from Corporate asking how much I liked the current process, did it make a difference, etcetera, etcetera. It ended with "Describe your opinion of the process in three words."

Naturally, I put down:

  • "Zesty"

  • "Empowering"

  • "Pellucid"


I'm sure they'll take my opinion under advisement as they begin to put together what system we'll use next year.

I'm hoping for something that involves cheese.
jayfurr: (Default)

Image result for crappy hawaiian souvenirs


Carole (aka Squeaky) and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We’re heading to Hawaii, for a cruise that starts in Honolulu but spends a couple of days at Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. The cruise is six nights and seven days, and we’ll be staying on Waikiki Beach for three days both before and after.


This is only our third cruise ever — we’re not really cruisy people. But the idea of carrying our hotel with us and visiting more than one island in this, our first trip to Hawaii, kind of appeals.


The thing that my thoughts keep coming back to, though, is the oddness of visiting a location that to me, will be rather exotic (I’ve been to 49 states, some Caribbean islands, and the UK and France, but never to Hawaii) but to others is a place they’ve often visited or, in some cases, they used to live in.


To me, it’s exotic. To them, it’s like reading about someone’s vacation to Parsippany, NJ. In other words, not that exciting, and what we’ll think of as “super cool and neat” they’ll think of as “they did THAT? When ___ was ten minutes away and much neater?”


I get the impression that I’m among the last of my friends to go to Hawaii, which I’m sure isn’t the case, but given how many people I’ve seen checking in from there, I know I’m not the first.


Does it sound like I think it’s not going to be as much fun to go someplace that everyone else has been?


I guess I might be conveying that impression. But in actuality, I’m not jealous that I’m only now going there when everyone else considers a Hawaii trip old hat; I’m just acutely sheepish about how pedestrian my “Once In A Lifetime” Big Hawaii Vacation is going to seem to some people.


(That’s me, always attempting to look at myself from another person’s point of view and automatically assuming that they’ll deem me hyper-lame.)


Ah, well. If my vacation photos result in massive ho-hums from all and sundry, I can always try to go someplace more interesting next time.


Maybe Tulsa.


jayfurr: (Cocoa Beach)


Carole (aka Squeaky) and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We're heading to Hawaii, for a cruise that starts in Honolulu but spends a couple of days at Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. The cruise is six nights and seven days, and we'll be staying on Waikiki Beach for three days both before and after.

This is only our third cruise ever -- we're not really cruisy people. But the idea of carrying our hotel with us and visiting more than one island in this, our first trip to Hawaii, kind of appeals.

The thing that my thoughts keep coming back to, though, is the oddness of visiting a location that to me, will be rather exotic (I've been to 49 states, some Caribbean islands, and the UK and France, but never to Hawaii) but to others is a place they've often visited or, in some cases, they used to live in.

To me, it's exotic. To them, it's like reading about someone's vacation to Parsippany, NJ. In other words, not that exciting, and what we'll think of as "super cool and neat" they'll think of as "they did THAT? When ___ was ten minutes away and much neater?"

I get the impression that I'm among the last of my friends to go to Hawaii, which I'm sure isn't the case, but given how many people I've seen checking in from there, I know I'm not the first.

Does it sound like I think it's not going to be as much fun to go someplace that everyone else has been?

I guess I might be conveying that impression. But in actuality, I'm not jealous that I'm only now going there when everyone else considers a Hawaii trip old hat; I'm just acutely sheepish about how pedestrian my "Once In A Lifetime" Big Hawaii Vacation is going to seem to some people.

(That's me, always attempting to look at myself from another person's point of view and automatically assuming that they'll deem me hyper-lame.)

Ah, well. If my vacation photos result in massive ho-hums from all and sundry, I can always try to go someplace more interesting next time.

Maybe Tulsa.
jayfurr: (Default)

As someone who spends a lot of time on aircraft (122 flights in 2016), I’ve gotten a lot of experience sitting in a semi-comfortable chair and staring blankly off into space.


I take a book along on trips and of course I’ve got my Nexus tablet, which doubles as a ebook reader, if I want to read anything I’ve downloaded. Often, though, neither gets any use. I hop on the plane, stow my backpack in the overhead, take a seat, and either go straight to sleep or I adopt a ten thousand foot stare that leaves me almost entirely unaware of what’s going on around me.


Yesterday we’d been airborne for about five minutes before I went “Oh. We took off.”


I think this behavior sort of creeps people out. You know how cats sometimes like to sit staring worriedly at something only they can see? I do that sometimes too, with much the same result on the people around me.



Friday night I found myself in seat 4B on a regional jet on the way home from Chicago to Burlington. I wasn’t at all sleepy and I didn’t really feel like reading, so for some reason I found myself staring fixedly upwards toward a light on the ceiling of the cabin, completely lost in thought.



The light wasn’t on — the cabin had been darkened for evening travel and most people weren’t using their individual reading lights. The light was in no way remarkable. But I stared right at it, like a cobra trying to hypnotize its prey, for so long that eventually it freaked out the flight attendant. He came back and somewhat timidly asked me if there was some problem with the cabin ceiling; he even poked the panel with the light in case it was loose or something.


I replied “No, no, I was just staring off into space.” Then went right back to looking at the ceiling.


He stood there and looked worried for a moment, then turned and went back to his jumpseat, glancing back over his shoulder at me a couple times in case I gathered myself to spring (or something).


I don’t know exactly what that scores on the “Weirdo On The Plane” index, but I bet it’s pretty good.


jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
As someone who spends a lot of time on aircraft (122 flights in 2016), I've gotten a lot of experience sitting in a semi-comfortable chair and staring blankly off into space.

I take a book along on trips and of course I've got my Nexus tablet, which doubles as a ebook reader, if I want to read anything I've downloaded.  Often, though, neither gets any use.  I hop on the plane, stow my backpack in the overhead, take a seat, and either go straight to sleep or I adopt a ten thousand foot stare that leaves me almost entirely unaware of what's going on around me.

Yesterday we'd been airborne for about five minutes before I went "Oh.  We took off."

I think this behavior sort of creeps people out.   You know how cats sometimes like to sit staring worriedly at something only they can see?  I do that sometimes too, with much the same result on the people around me.



Friday night I found myself in seat 4B on a regional jet on the way home from Chicago to Burlington.  I wasn't at all sleepy and I didn't really feel like reading, so for some reason I found myself staring fixedly upwards toward a light on the ceiling of the cabin, completely lost in thought.



The light wasn't on -- the cabin had been darkened for evening travel and most people weren't using their individual reading lights.  The light was in no way remarkable.  But I stared right at it, like a cobra trying to hypnotize its prey, for so long that eventually it freaked out the flight attendant.  He came back and somewhat timidly asked me if there was some problem with the cabin ceiling; he even poked the panel with the light in case it was loose or something.

I replied "No, no, I was just staring off into space."  Then went right back to looking at the ceiling.

He stood there and looked worried for a moment, then turned and went back to his jumpseat, glancing back over his shoulder at me a couple times in case I gathered myself to spring (or something).

I don't know exactly what that scores on the "Weirdo On The Plane" index, but I bet it's pretty good.
jayfurr: (Default)


Parenthetically, I won’t miss the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus.


I believe I last went to a circus in Blacksburg in 1978 or so. I have the vague idea that they set up behind Gables Shopping Center, but won’t swear to it.


In any event, despite the tradition of the circus, I’m much more interested in animal protection… myopically, since I still continue to eat at McDonald’s now and then and don’t take pains to investigate the source of the groceries and clothing I buy.


I guess there’s always Circ du Soleil when you want acrobats and trapeze artists and so on. On the other hand, I don’t see a huge tragedy in the elimination of clowns as a national menace. Silver lining in every cloud, and all that.


jayfurr: (Default)


2017 marks two landmark dates in my life: my 50th birthday on September 20, and Carole and my 20th wedding anniversary a week earlier on September 13. (I was determined to get married before I turned 30. I managed it with a week to spare.)


Carole and I are taking an early 20th anniversary trip to Hawaii next month — we’re taking a Norwegian Cruise Lines seven day cruise around the Hawaiian islands, starting in Oahu and spending two days each in Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai before returning to Oahu. We’ll also be hanging out on Waikiki Beach for a few days before and after the cruise. This’ll be my 50th state, incidentally — I’ve been to the other 49, and not in the “I changed planes in an airport there” sense.


I know everyone else has already been to Hawaii, but we just never got around to it before. Hopefully no typhoons or cane toad infestations will ruin things for us.


As for my birthday — I don’t normally make any big deal out of my birthday. Most years I don’t ask for or receive any presents, but since you only turn 50 once (in most cases), I thought I’d mention that anyone who does want to get me something is welcome to pick most anything from the following website:


http://www.justdezineit.com/


Send me an email if you want my shipping address. I’d set up a profile and wish list there, but alas, they haven’t configured the site to make that possible. I know September is a long way off, but I want to give people plenty of advance notice. Great tragedies only come around so often, you know.


 


jayfurr: (Default)


Sometimes I miss splitting firewood.


When I was a kid Dad (Keith Furr) attempted to heat our house in the mountains of Virginia with a wood stove and blower system. (It didn’t work that well from my point of view; my bedroom was at the opposite corner of the house and in the winter it was not uncommon to get up and find that my bedroom thermometer read 58°.)


Our house outside Blacksburg was surrounded by woods; some oak, some pine, some poplar, other stuff too. Dad spent weekend days out in the woods with his chainsaw and we kids spent our weekend days hauling it up to the house. At a certain point in my teenage years, it was explained to me that I was perfectly capable of wielding a sledgehammer, axe, and wedges, and splitting the larger logs.


At first I didn’t much like it. I had the knack for wedging our two available wedges deep into a partially split log and then having to use the axe head as a third wedge to get the other two back out. But I eventually got the hang of it, and depending on the density and grain wood in question, I could usually account for a decent pile of split logs in the matter of an hour or two after school.


It was a small accomplishment for a kid who had nothing else to brag about: my grades were awful because I never did homework, I washed out of concert and marching band due to an abysmal lack of musical talent, and if I wasn’t at the absolute bottom of the “guys I’d like to date list” for the average girl my age, I was certainly close enough that I could ask the guy who was to pass the Clearasil.


My house in Richmond, Vermont doesn’t have a fireplace. We have an oil furnace and a ductless high efficiency heat pump (recently added). In other words, there’s no need for me to wander out back and spend an hour or two working up a sweat by a pile of logs. Sometimes, though, I miss it. I have to think it did some good to release tension and stress. And in any event, it was nice to have something I could avoid failing at.


It’s been pointed out to me that I could go get some logs, split them, and donate them to someone who needs them. The thought’s occurred to me, but I don’t own a pickup truck and thus I wouldn’t be able to get that many logs… not enough to make much of a difference. And in any event… due to my work schedule, I’m never around. I enjoy traveling for work as much as I do, but it basically costs me the opportunity to contribute via volunteering and charitable works. But, if I traveled less so I could pitch in locally, I’d lose the job satisfaction of traveling and doing my job well. I don’t know if it’s precisely a Catch-22, but it’s certainly frustrating.


jayfurr: (Default)

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I hate myself and think that I’m basically the worst person in the world. Being chronically depressed can be like that.


But even though I hate myself and assume that everyone shares my opinion, I refuse to walk around acting like a total jerk. I may be a total jerk, but where I can, I try not to be. And one area in particular that I try pretty darn hard is in being polite to strangers.


When I was in France in 2010, I learned that it’s considered a major social faux pas if you walk up to a store clerk and just start asking for something without saying “Bonjour” and waiting for them to respond. In other words, you’re supposed to be nice to people, as a rule, and if you can’t be bothered to do that, people will think you’re a rude jerk. Carole and I consistently followed that rule, and we had a wonderful time. I suspect that people who come back from France complaining about snooty Parisians simply took for granted that they can treat people overseas the way they treat people back here at home, namely, like doormats.


I’ve tried to practice the same principle here in the USA. I don’t curse out a barista who screws up my drink. I just smile and wait to get their attention and politely explain. I let strangers merge in in front of me in traffic. I hold doors open for people who are carrying a lot of stuff. When I eat in a restaurant I compulsively clean up after myself, stacking places and silverware and making sure I haven’t left straw wrappers and napkins and bits of food everywhere. I’m nice to my waiter or waitress and don’t make their job harder than it has to be. I don’t assume that a customer service representative on the other end of a phone line is a faceless drone of some kind who exists solely for me to vent my spleen on. When they ask how I am, I cheerfully exclaim something like “I’m livin’ the dream! I’m a Green Mountain Power customer!” Nearly every time, I get told that I’m the first person with a positive/cheerful outlook they’ve talked to all day. And so on, and so on.


I don’t think my trying hard to be polite makes me an awesome guy. I still do a lot of annoying things that I wish I could stop. I talk too much. I think I’m funnier than I really am. I can be absolutely clueless at times. I have a hard time realizing when people don’t want me around. I sometimes have a really bad temper… but even if I’m mad enough to chew nails and spit out thumbtacks, I’d still stop and smile and hold a door open for a stranger and I’d still say “Please” and “Thank you” where appropriate. I’m not going to take out my bad mood on some poor hapless soul just trying to get through their day.


What bothers me is that my point of view is apparently uncommon enough that day after day, people I meet comment on it and act like it’s something unusual. Frankly, that makes me kind of sad. If a jackass like me can generally manage to be halfway nice to people, why can’t the vast majority of humanity?


I’m not asking for compliments here. Really, I’m not. I know this all sounds like a massive #humblebrag post, but that wasn’t my intent. I’m actually curious what other people think. Are people generally jerks as a rule, with some exceptions, or is the answer more that most people aren’t jerks, but the ones who are are such assholes that we tend to remember them and not the ordinary people in the middle of the bell curve?

jayfurr: (Default)

Hardly a day goes by lately where I don’t see someone on Facebook or Twitter bemoaning the number of “idiots” on their friends/contact list who say imbecilic things about, say, the Louisiana flooding or some other regional misfortune. You know the kind of posts: “I had to defriend five people today for being jerks” and so on.


Apparently, the flooding in Louisiana has brought jackasses out of the woodwork to ridicule the people dealing with the loss of their homes, belongings, pets, and so forth and saying “this is what you get for ignoring global warming” or “this is what you get for being homophobic rednecks.” It’s not funny when a member of the religious right blames homosexuality or some other “sin” for a hurricane hitting somewhere; it’s not funny when the people on the other end of the ideological spectrum do the same in reverse.


And I’m extremely pleased to note that no one on my friends lists’ has said anything of the kind. Apparently my decision to cull my friends list down to zero and start over last year has paid off — I’ve only got people on my friends list that I know in real life and am at least somewhat interested in hearing from, and I don’t have any of the “guy I met at the gym who turns out to be a rabid David Duke supporter” types.


So I just wanted to thank you all for sparing me from a daily dose of crazy bigotry. I consider myself lucky that apparently I don’t know anyone whose day is brightened by adding a little hate to the world.

jayfurr: (Default)

Furr garage


Which is more of a “sign of the times” that we live in, here in mid-2016?


The Tesla Power Wall in my garage? Or the big heap of empty Amazon Prime shipping boxes?


 


jayfurr: (Sepia)

angrygoose

I spend every day of my life wanting to apologize to everyone I know on social media and quite a few of the people that I know in person.

I believe that most people who know me either:


  • think nothing at all about me, or,

  • think I’m an annoying, attention-hungry loser

I’m not worried about apologizing to people to whom I’m a complete non-entity; that’s actually the preferred state, I guess, given what I assume the alternative is. But everyone else — all the people I’ve annoyed, all the people I’m going to annoy, and all the people that I’m currently annoying — to you, I am very sorry.

I’ve spent my whole life doing impulsive, stupid things and then realizing how offended people were and then asking myself “why the hell did I do that?” And I suspect that there are countless more things that I’ve done that I didn’t pick up on. That when I leave the room people look at each other and just shake their heads. That people cheer up when they arrive and I’m not around. And so on.A)Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.

I sometimes think that the only way I can avoid cheesing people off through my spastic, dumb-ass sense of humor is to say nothing at all to anyone, to stay off social media, and to never go out in public except to go to work. (Somehow, I’m able to adopt a work persona that gets the job done and doesn’t feel a need to go off on weird tangents. Usually, anyway.)

I’m not overly fond of the blanket excuse offered up by over-psychoanalyzed Late 20th Century Man: “My parents did this to me.” I imagine that everyone’s parents did various not-so-constructive things along the way, and I believe that blaming one’s misfortunes on one’s parents is just a lame albi. My father did spend my entire childhood telling me that I was a jerk, that no one would ever like me, that I was an idiot, that I was a quitter who would never accomplish anything, and so on. That probably contributed somewhat to my belief that I had no friends, that the world was pretty much divided into:


  • people who don’t know me at all

  • people who can’t stand me

  • people who barely tolerate me

I was careful growing up to never ever ever refer to someone as my friend, for fear that they would look at me with a repulsed look on their face and say “We know each other. We’re acquaintances. But we’re not friends.” To this day, I feel weird about the term “friend”. Other people have friends. I have people I haven’t completely cheesed off yet.

But I don’t think this way of thinking this is all my father’s fault. I’m a gray-haired 48-year-old man. It’s past time that I take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions. It’s fairly pathetic to say “stuff that happened over 30 years ago continues to shape my thoughts today and every day.”

I think that the truth is that I really do careen through life doing a lot of dumb-assed stuff, and always have, and unless I take up the life of a hermit, probably always will. I’m very glad that I’ve got my work persona to fall back onto, but I can’t be that way 24/7. Somewhere along the way I developed a strong work ethic… but when I take the necktie off at the end of the day, the other Jay comes out.

And so I spend a lot of time face-palming at my own actions and wishing like crazy I had an “undo” button. And since I don’t… I wind up apologizing a lot, or wanting to apologize, or wishing I could go back and apologize. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to make amends to everyone you’ve ever hurt, even if they were disposed to give you a chance. In my case, there are just too many people.


Sorry


And thus, this post. To you, dear reader, I’m really, really sorry for anything and everything I’ve done to annoy you, irk you, cause you to sigh despairingly, waste your time, bore you, or otherwise act like a millstone around your neck. If you want to contact me for a more specific apology, please let me know.

Unless, of course, you’re a Canada goose. The blanket apology, and offer of a more specific apology, does not apply to them. Canada geese are mean. To heck with ’em.

goosehead

Footnotes   [ + ]

A. Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.
jayfurr: (Default)

Waring Blender

Just killed my red Waring bar blender trying to make Carole a smoothie with skim milk, frozen berries, and frozen yogurt chunks (which she’d prepared in advance in a silicone cube tray). Apparently there are some things that are too much for a Waring blender — deep frozen 1 inch cubes of frozen vanilla yogurt, for one, and Warren Zevon for another.


Note the Oxford comma there.


Anyway, the thing gave me 11 years’ service, so I’m not too broken hearted.


I went to look up and order another and to my horror, the blender arms race has gotten a bit out of control; they make Waring blenders that go up to almost a thousand dollars. I assume those are for making the Bruce Banner smoothies out of pitchblende, carnotite, basalt, and, of course, skim milk.


jayfurr: (Default)

My life is full of mysteries. Some more interesting than others.


When I was in graduate school in 1988, a lowly candidate for the Master of Public Administration degree at Virginia Tech, I dutifully tried to do adult things like subscribing to the local newspaper. That said, I didn’t actually sit down and read the paper most days — I’d sleep until I had to rush out for class and then I’d come back much later in the day and brainlessly eat something and go to bed. Unread newspapers piled up in a big stack on my sofa.


One day I decided to throw them out. I picked up half the stack and headed for my recycling bin, then stopped and did a classic Hollywood doubletake. Fanned carefully out across the topmost paper in the remaining heap were five crisp new $20 bills. If I’d split the stack at any other point I’d have missed them.



To this day I don’t know how they got there. My mother had a key to my apartment in case I ever misplaced my own copy, but I can’t imagine that she’d have decided that the best way to slip me some extra cash was to conceal it in a stack of unread newspapers.


The cash was clearly on top of one issue and below another, not tucked into a particular issue. And I can’t imagine how I’d have dropped a whole newspaper onto the stack if there were five $20 bills fanned out on top of the stack at the time. The only explanation that makes sense is that someone put the money there, but again, why would someone choose that method of delivery? It’d have been so easy to overlook the money altogether. (I did finally ask my mother; she denied all knowledge and seemed as genuinely confused as I felt.)


Less Twilight-Zone-esque, but still perplexing, is the matter of my going-away gift that I received when my temporary position at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals ended in 1994. I’d been doing temp work at Glaxo for a while after giving up on my PhD program and moving to Durham, NC. Our department supported clinical trials on ondansetron, an anti-emetic used to prevent opioid-induced nausea, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and post-operative nausea and vomiting. When the powers that be decided there was no need to do any further clinical trials to support additional indications for the drug, I was surplus to needs.


So: on my last day in the department before moving on to another temporary position at Duke University, everyone wished me well and then one of the Pharm.D’s, Melissa, told me she had my farewell gift in her car. I thought that was a little odd — why hadn’t she brought it in? Mind you, I hadn’t been expecting a farewell gift at all; temps aren’t normally noted nor long remembered. But at the end of the day, as I was leaving the building for the last time, Melissa walked me out to the parking garage and retrieved my gift from her car.


It was a 24-pack (a “suitcase”) of Budweiser beer.


budweiserTo say I was a bit nonplussed would just about sum it all up. First, why a farewell gift at all for a lowly temp, and second, why Budweiser? I couldn’t recall ever even discussing alcohol and drinking with my former co-workers and I certainly hadn’t indicated a preference for the King of Beers.


I decided not to ask, though — best not to look a gift horse in the mouth, after all — and simply thanked Melissa and went off, suitcase of beer in hand, to my car. What made Melissa think “Oh, right, Jay’s position runs out tomorrow. Better stop off at the store to get him some Bud”? I’ve even thought about writing her to ask — what’s the Internet for, if not for cyberlocating people who you used to know decades ago and who’ve long since forgotten you?


But no. I think it’s best if I leave this mystery unsolved.


 


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