Archive for March, 2010

Things I don’t understand but thanks to Wikipedia now do

Obviously, this list is not comprehensive.  In fact, it’s just one thing.  But I am considering making this a regular column. 

What is Ruth’s Chris Steak House?  I mean, I know what it is, but why on earth does it have that bizarre and difficult-to-say-without-spitting-all-over-myself name?  Well, after years of headscratching, I went to the all-knowing Wikipedia and learned that a woman named Ruth bought a steakhouse in 1965.  The name of the steakhouse she bought?  You guessed it, Dominick’s Steak-and-Shake.  Just kidding.  Chris Steak House.  No possessive apostrophe, apparently.  So now we have the oddly named Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which must have seemed to make sense at the time.  By the way, I think steakhouse should be one word. 

Any other mysteries you’d like me to solve by using Wikipedia?  Let me know because I’m on it!

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Resignation 101

Well, it’s not REALLY a resignation; it’s just a letter of intent not to run again.  And here it is.  I am soooooooooooooo relieved.

Hi all, 

The annual election for WSAA board members is coming up quickly – the meeting will be held sometime in June.  My seat – a DOJ-only post – is up.  I just wanted to give advance notice that I will not be seeking another term.  While it had never been my intention to do so, it has been made all the more clear to me lately that I cannot continue to serve.  I am fairly proud of the work I have done.  I have tried to be reasonable and cordial, rational and considerate.  I was successful in moving the meetings from the Madison Club to the Hilton, which saves the WSAA a lot of money annually.  I created and have run the WSAA’s website, which is far more workable than its predecessor.  I brought my perspective as a lower-paid attorney (and the lowest earning member of the Board) to the table and fought my hardest to do what I thought necessary to protect jobs.  I argued against raising dues in an era of furloughs.  I think I was quite vocal and stood up for my beliefs.  Unfortunately, this often results in name-calling and condescension and ire from members, as well as board members.  Ultimately, this is why I am not running again. 

 

I learned a lot and I encourage anyone – particularly those who have not previously done so – to run for the board.  I learned that, despite what we may sometimes think, we are lucky to work at DOJ, an agency that usually operates rationally and treats its employees with respect and recognizes them as professionals.  Unfortunately, when it comes to state agencies, this seems to be more the exception than the rule.  Although I do encourage any of you to run, I caution you that the task is not for the overly sensitive (like me) or for those who shy away from conflict.  It can get contentious and mean.  Passions run high and disagreements are frequent.  There is very little (positive) recognition for the work that you do.  That said, I think the WSAA serves a vital function and hope that whoever next takes the reins will serve with the knowledge that their task is important and that I, for one, am greatly appreciative of their work.

Thanks for allowing me to serve my term,

Kate     

I have received some gracious emails and a nice phone call from a fellow board member, telling me he was shocked by my decision and disappointed as I am the only rational one on the board.  That was nice to hear.  Anyway, as I said, I’m relieved.  I wish I could continue to serve, but that I could pick the people who served along with me.  Unfortunately, though, I don’t think anyone would go for that.  Another chapter is coming to a close.  Goodbye, useless stress and anger from the WSAA board! 

Bonnets and bees

On a much lighter note, my bees are now out of my bonnet!  Well, mostly.  Well, mostly as far as the bedroom goes, I guess.  I mentioned a few posts ago that I woke up one morning, tried to move my bed, broke it, tossed it and was waiting the arrival of a new one from CB2.  I also mentioned that I decided that the new bed would require new nightstands and new lamps.  I mean, obviously.  New bed would not have been happy with nasty old nightstands and pretty lamps, but ones that wouldn’t have meshed with new bed.  After looking around online a bunch, I had settled on nightstands and lamps from CB2, as well.  And, of course new bedding.  I’ve discovered that some folks change their bedding seasonally, some not at all and then some are like me.  I like to fall in love with new bedding and keep it for a few years until I tire of it and then opt for something new that I fall in love with.  Usually I keep the old bedding in storage, but this time I just tossed it.  It was pretty ratty and I was severely annoyed by it.  Wasteful?  Yeah, maybe, but I have a one-bedroom condo a little over two miles from my work so I don’t think I break the top 100 in terms of environmental offenders even when I tossed out the old bedding.   If you remember, and especially if you don’t, this is how the bedroom looked before Operation New Bedroom began:

Old bedroom

The bed was particle board or something, as were the nightstands.  They had to go.  I had had enough.  This is what the bees led to:

New bedroom

It’s not radically different, I realize, but in a room with a layout like mine, the only way to go radical would be to, say, hang the bed from the ceiling or something.  I really like the new look — I think it looks clean and sleek.  While I would have preferred nightstands with a drawer, I was trying to save money.  The ones I liked best are $199 a piece, while these are $99 a piece and actually, I really like them.  I would choose them again.  I’ll pick up some cheap storage options from Target to place on the bottom shelf to hide things I would normally have in the drawer.  The bed is really low, which I actually like because I think it makes the room look bigger, calmer and is better for Gracie.  And it’s all about Gracie, of course. 

A word on CB2.  They are simply awesome.  Crate & Barrel and CB2 are the Nordstrom of the furniture world, as far as I’m concerned.  I originally had purchased these wonderful, sleek, nickel-based, touch-switch lamps that arrived last week.  While I absolutely loved the look, they didn’t work very well.  They would turn off on their own, not turn on at all at times, and flicker when they were on.  I emailed the company and they called me (!) suggesting I not use them.  They said they’d send new ones and I should send the old ones back in the boxes that would arrive with the new ones.  And they said to call them when I am ready to send them back because they will come pick them up (!).  Note: these are $50 lamps.  So, the new ones arrived on Saturday, but the same problems occurred.  So, I called them up — on Saturday — and after some voice prompting I heard, “We’re sorry, but all agents are busy.  The next available agent will answer your call in … 20 seconds.”  20 seconds.  On a Saturday.  I’m not even sure it took 20 seconds, but soon I was talking to a nice woman who couldn’t have been more helpful.  She seemed genuinely concerned about my problem (even exclaiming, ‘Oh dear!’) and said she would send UPS to pick up the  newer lamps on Monday and all I had to do was put them outside with a note on them saying, “For UPS.”  She said she would have the warehouse send me boxes for the older lamps (since they are out in the recycling bin) and when they arrived I should call back and they would again have UPS come and pick them up at my front door.  And then she placed the order for the lamps I chose instead — creamy white and awesome — and they arrived today!  I recommend CB2 (and Crate & Barrel) for everything.  EVERYTHING!  Even things they don’t sell.

Bad, bad day

I’m having a really lousy day.  Last week, a minor problem erupted within the union board.  Without going into too many details, I’ll just recount that I emailed my disagreement with the way the board’s president handled a particular matter.  He emailed back how much he disagreed with me and how his position was correct.  I responded that, of course, I did not see things that way but what’s done is done.  He responded — and these emails are all going back & forth among the seven members of the board — that he has members to protect (as if I don’t) and he would do what he did again to protect them regardless of my objections. [There were also several other condescending emails from him in the interim  — probably because I had made the mistake of attempting to temper my disagreement with him by kindly stating things like, “I’m confused as to why you would do such-and-such” as opposed to “Damn you for doing such-and-such.”]  I responded that I wish he would check the pompous-ness at the door, that I know he acted out of good intentions, but that he needs to respect my opinion and that all of us act out of our duty to our members, he is not alone in that.  He offered up this response on Saturday, which I did not receive until today:

Kate:

For somebody who is done talking about it, you do carry on.  Carper.  Throw names about, and you get em back.  You don’t like my position or the way I say things, so you decide its OK to be personally insulting.  I am a little tired too, of the constant back biting.  Basically, anything that has come out of my mouth the past six months, you have had a problem with.  You got a problem with me personally, give me a call Monday, and we can both let our hair down.  Pompous attitude indeed.  You walk a mile in my footsteps, see where you are.

And that about does it for me folks. I have done my best to try to lead this massive herd of cats.  But I have had just about all of the crap I am going to take.  My cup is full.  I will not be running for the Board in June. 

So, wow.  I sent the email to our past president (along with the rest of the email chain) and said that I didn’t understand where on earth he was coming from and was pretty upset.  Past President imparted to me that Current President is losing his marbles, sexist and incorrect that I had said anything personal in my email to Current President.  This felt better, but not great.  After taking a couple of hours to determine how to respond, I replied that there was nothing in my email that was offensive, that Current President’s effort to blame me for his decision not to seek reelection was insulting, that Current President takes cruel and hurtful words from other board members without insulting them in return, that I do disagree with a lot of what he does — which means, of course, that he disagrees with me and when he does so, I do not throw insults at him.  He has not responded.  I believe he may be out of town, which makes his Saturday email — on work email — all the more infuriating.  He tosses insults at me and knows that any response I have will be met with deaf ears for the time being. 

Anyway, what is my point?  It’s that I feel lousy.  I know that this man is not a person I would ever be friends with or even know outside the context of us both serving on the union board at the same time.  I know that I don’t really care what he thinks of me since I do not find him to exercise, or even have, good judgment most of the time.  I know that I find him, in the words of another board member, to be a bit of a blowhard.  I know that he is an unhappy man.  I know that he thinks more highly of himself than he has any right to.  But I also know me.  And no matter how much I know, I feel hurt.  I feel attacked.  I feel bullied.  And I feel alone in it all. 

I have always felt that if you see someone being treated poorly and you don’t do anything, you are complicit in that behavior to some extent.  Even when I was a kid, I never understood other kids who would say, in reaction to being told that a friend of theirs had been mean to another kid, “Well, she’s never done anything bad to me.”  What possible difference does that make?  Yeah, Idi Amin never did anything mean to me, either, but he’s a bad guy and I’m not going to be his friend.  There are people who seem to act as though  not getting involved is some sort of moral high ground, that not having people get angry with you is some sign of popularity or righteousness.  I believe the opposite.  I know I can do more and do better to stand up for the downtrodden, and I know that it’s not fun to get involved in arguments and conflict, but I do know that I always regret not doing something, not saying something more than I have ever regretted the opposite.  I don’t want to live my life not getting involved.

I am not saying that standing up to Current President is the equivalent of taking down a militant dictator, but it’s voicing my opinion that I think something was screwed up.  And my fellow board members’ silence — with the exception of one — regarding his email may be even more hurtful than the email itself. 

Spring!

At the risk of jinxing everything, I have to say that it truly feels like spring here! Most of the snow is gone and the sun is shining. While I have little doubt that we still have some snow in store for us this season, I feel like we’re going to make it! And Daylight Savings Time has started, which is the best thing in the universe.

Because I’ve felt bottled up and stuffy, I got an early start on spring cleaning this weekend. The windows were open and the vacuum cleaner was purring. Actually, it was more grumbling because it was forced to work triple duty. As most of you know, I’m a fairly clean person (except when it comes to showering, which I won’t go into). I vacuum at least weekly — it’s a must when combining Kate’s pathetic allergies with Gracie’s intense need to leave her fur everywhere — dust every weekend and clean the bathroom multiple times per week. I can get messy, but I try very hard not to be dirty. Well, I got a serious bee in my bonnet over the last week about my bed. I bought it over two years ago when we were going through the pumpkin. I had gotten the mattress; Ben had gotten the box spring and our old bed. I bought it online from some super cheap place. I think that the bed, along with the two end tables and shipping, came to about $500. Needless to say, it’s rather a piece of junk. A billion pieces of uber-heavy particle board. It took me hours to install. Literally. I liked it at first because it was cheap but looked kinda nice — it was a platform bed with clean lines. But as time wore on, I realized I kinda hated it. I hated the way the headboard slanted backward so you could never sit up straight. I hated the way that the veneer on the end tables started to wear away and get bubbly-looking from having too many wine or water glasses on them. And I really started to hate how I felt that it was trapping dust behind and underneath it — spots that were nearly impossible to get to because of how heavy the bed was and because of the design. So, on Saturday I ordered a new bed from CB2, new end tables and new lamps. Holy cow. I know. When I get that bee in that bonnet o’ mine, you’d better not be in my way. The times they are a-changin’. So, even though the bed won’t be here for awhile, on Sunday morning I woke up knowing I couldn’t take it any more. Old craptastic bed had to go. And it had to go that day. I set to work. It took awhile — a screwdriver and tons of brute force — but that crappy bed broke apart, broke down, and went into the recycling bin (thanks to Aaron for that part). A few of the pieces of particle board have been put up on the beams in the garage to create a place for extra storage. See, the bed was worth something after all.  Back in the bedroom, though, my worst fears had been confirmed.

And I wonder why my asthma is so bad. That was the little treat waiting for me, and my vacuum, behind the headboard.


March 2010
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