Archive for 2002

Steady Stream Of Sameness


24 Dec

hunger

Steady Stream Of Sameness

samplex

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 11:13:22
From: Stephen E. Taylor

Hey there—wanted to wish you and Sue a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and rising fortunes with the post-solstice daylight gains.

Yule finds me in Bloomsburg anticipating the forecast snow with childlike glee. Trips to local orchards, general stores, a freshly (and on our order) slaughtered goose lies in the fridge awaiting tomorrow's roasting like an insecure Friar's Club member.

Tonight it's a fine piece of friendly grass fed cow that's roasting. Apple cider quaffed and cookies baked...Christmas tunes bobbing up and down on the CD carousel with a purring fire in the family room. Good to be back home with the folks for a bit. Looks like I'll be here through the early days of January before returning to Philly in the hopes of making something more of 2003.

SET

Nothing new it seems under this sunny side of life, Steve, or me. Steady stream of sameness, gaming for the rich variety that has been my own past, present, and future sameness. My change is loose, and while the tones grow coarser, they nevertheless remain the same after all these muddied tracks of wobbly foibles lost in the whimsy of the uncharted memory stick we each clutch uniquely according to the redoubtable drives and infernal combustions of our own struggling natures.

Alarming Matthew Manus has been trying to get me to re-buttress his own buttery realm of sticks and stones with an odd assortment of half-measured email quips and a Sunday afternoon phone call I missed, fortunate I was to have BS to buffer, but no thanks—the weights and measures of our previous three and a half year toil encourage no need for ubiquitous jokers on the run. Meanwhile, you might guess I know nothing of nothingness.org, the Spudster, or any of those sad little puddles of leftist charm leftover from the quintessential flummox of Lenin reading a book on Marx.

If indeed a password were required, neither you nor the unsavory bootjack could enter but would indeed be blocked, or perhaps saddled with another name for delightful exits perched exactly where you rode in from, save the request for ID and code, forced entries once again the pickled folly of the fruitless to be surveilled by the highly equipped.
The raw facts are that I have whittled nary a whit new, and damned near nothing onto the wash spots in ages. New to you? Probably a few additional chainthinker hiccups have made it to the site within the past year. Like MacArthur Park I shall return with a vengeance, no doubt, but suffice it to say that I am in no mad rush, no longer feeling the excruciating pressures of web publishing. As far as I'm concerned I've already perished in the flames of the economic burst. Keeping up was just too tough for one person with too many interlocking interests to keep me focused on a shifting mirage of minor chords, Manny, Moe, and Jack would have me dancing around in suiting their own peculiar fancies...

You must earn your own bars and stripes on this battlefield of little or no return, my friend, a pop pop slam dunk for a smartly seasoned surf monkey like yourself. Alas, the cage that is the rather recent past fails to muster any new hope in my isolated corner of the ring. Meanwhile, I play the ditto, mimicking my own yawn of yore, still splashing around inspired photographs and the painted word, bouncing back and forth via the manuscript blues, busy work down at the lab, and even an occasional awkward muster to sweat at the gym, aiming to perform miracles in silence, solemnity, and the slow boil. The password scene is only a front, easily backed into an open wound only eloquent passersby can detect. If indeed a password were required, neither you nor the unsavory bootjack could enter but would indeed be blocked, or perhaps saddled with another name for delightful exits perched exactly where you rode in from, save the request for ID and code, forced entries once again the pickled folly of the fruitless to be surveilled by the highly equipped. One day perhaps soon, I may complete the password hack, and pass the struts and strider along to those few in forensic flutter about my darling daily debriefing.

I imagine you to be among them. I am often wrong about the right people.

GT

Lampshades Made Of Flesh


11 Nov

Long and white pickings
of the litter slid past
this old television set
where filthy & famous
flying objects affectionately
gorge themselves on civics
the fool's camera, off topic,
some gorgeous idea devoured,
their own well-greased
bravado and beauty
to set Smith free from
the mules of mockery
of misery and forty acres
of danger, democratically.

Society of the spectacle
ain't without its icecapades
or pumpkins carved up for freight
until writing clay poems in short raids
scattered along the glittering class
loving then shooting on first sight
sane pigeons walking the awful plank
hands in nobody's pockets, nobody's
like some promised quack on the run,
we believe ourselves dutifully astonished
swooning at the slow taint of suicide songs
entering nations now as the thief moons
simple courtesy to some frenzied
God of the dead licking steroids.

Hatred and phobias best in news
best in show, framed for flight
no time for sergeants or shirtless Jews
no cross-bearers, no Zen numbers, no holy waiver
to rot this new perspective, only
the icy pool of blood to spend
words in a book of terror
left as Joe Mohammed's
calling card
to each of us who doubt
we're on the invitation list
engraved by fourteen centuries
of lust wandering the sands of time's
last stand. Time is the detonator.
Time is the fire, the flame, the scream.

Time in due time will prove itself the liar,
or bring back lampshades made of flesh.

[ 2002, Washington, DC ]

My Short Life As A Process Server On The Way To The Photo Lab


28 Sep

process-server

The Process Server

samplex

Date: 1:00 AM -0400 9/28/02

Well, not much of a protest in DC today. I followed the DC IMC Breaking News like a combination of a rip-and-read newswire and a soap opera where no one's getting any. Other than my bountiful garden, not too much else to report up here. No more bites in the job hunt ... though I have scheduled an appointment with a career counselor. Dealing with combinations of regret, despair, and shame while going through some painful soul digging this week. Came out better at the end with some more hope and ... well, at the very least, a better appetite. What's news with you? —SET

Just working hard, and digging it, down at the upscale Chevy Chase Moto Photo Lab, and having finished up my first case as a process server, waiting with snot up my nostrils to get that first check from the District payola system for that godawful experience.

A couple hours later, he'd need to reassure himself again with another call that I was going to actually do whatever it was I'd said repeatedly that I'd do, and so forth. Needless to say, his micro-management style quickly became tedious.
I don't believe I've mentioned this latter gig to you, but I landed it by way of Len Bracken the same weekend that I was hired at the photo shop to start the first week after Labor Day. Fortunately the three subpoenas were being served to so-called co-operative witnesses—an attorney, a detective, and a court clerk; and though the two of the three who weren't exactly "cooperative" each was effectively served through certain and uncertain channels, and each showed up for court. While my boss, John Moran, the investigative attorney hired by the Court, assured me that my imposing presence on the senses in the more sticky of the cases helped get across the message, I somehow feel that I did not really execute the plays as they were called, and those failed efforts didn't amount to much more than wasting gasoline, my preferred off time from the photo lab, and a snarling chunk of the taxpayers money.

The attorney who'd hired me is a somewhat likeable chap in short doses, but he also quibbled and quaffed to such a degree as to make him the worst experience in the whole affair, heavy-handed and wishy washy, always changing his rather relentless mind, requiring constant confirmation of the simplest matters. Hmm, sort of reminds me of..

We'd talk things out rather thoroughly over the phone, hang up, then five minutes later he'd call back to shift directions, or perhaps instruct me on exactly which route to drive out there to save myself aggravation, even though I had tried to convince him that I was quite handy with a map, the Internet, and was primed with a first hand knowledge of the city from my surveying years. A couple hours later, he'd need to reassure himself again with another call that I was going to actually do whatever it was I'd said repeatedly that I'd do, and so forth. Needless to say, his micro-management style quickly became tedious.

After all, I just turned 47. Feeling like 67 is a god-damned sin, a floundering fillibuster, and from where I hang my cap, absolutely no fun.
I may very well complete an online private investigation correspondence course I'm considering, just to get the groove down pat, but frankly I don't figure I'm much longer for this rather rank shark-infested pool...

The photo lab, meanwhile, according to the Maps On Us folks is 1.2 miles, or nine blocks, straight up Connecticut Avenue from my cockpit. I almost always hike the distance both ways, and since our lovely but smiting weather has only receded from the daily nineties to the daily mid-eighties, I have shed a few unworthy pounds in the process. To boot I have just joined Gold's Gym which is three blocks blind in the other direction, open from 5 AM to 11 PM on weekdays with only slightly slimmer hours on the weekend. I have yet to make my first appearance on the money so to speak, after locking in a special price of forty dollars per month for life, rather than the nearly sixty they wanted a year ago (also losing the usually hefty sign-up fee), yet I am slowly but diligently stalking the proverbial track upon which I will zestfully reorder my senses, distill a few angry molecules, and in some sort of coup de grace, hopefully rebuff the usual critics, to paraphrase an often-paraphrased young Rimbaud. After all, I just turned 47. Feeling like 67 is a god-damned sin, a floundering fillibuster, and from where I hang my cap, absolutely no fun.

Get dizzy in the dirt, though, you deserve it. Gardening was such a pleasure for me as well...

GT

Working At Not Working Is A Tiresome Business


25 Sep

capitalize

Capitalize On It

samplex

Dateline September 25, 2002

We always appreciate our good fortunes when sound and logical visitors to the Scenewash Project with enough time on their hands and maple syrup on their pancakes to take us to task, whether it be my boot size, the weight of zero, the odor in my sock drawer, or my favorite color of hero. Gives us the chance to deepen the mystery, as the old Queensbury Mews poofer Francis Bacon so neatly put it. Ruth, one such prevailing visitor, took the time to write:

Then I take it you would be against the ideology of the Church of the SubGenius also? And their belief in the benefits of 'slack'. At least Bob Black offers a great degree of intelligence. I don't agree with him about not working—disagree totally actually—but I think he tells the truth—which is a whole lot different than what so many others in the world right now try to pass off as a philosophy for our time.

Ruth, thanks for the email.

Slack is for those who choose slack, and possess the strength of character to not complain about the consequences of that slack like do so many in the world today. Otherwise, slack is counterintuitive, hypocrisy is the norm, and no one is served by one's own potential. Rich man, poor man, beggarman slack, makes no difference to me if you're a professional liar or an honest-to-god hack. Either way, each choice one makes or is forced to accept plays into a host of competing consequences. It's how we react to these consequences which churns the grist and sorts the wheat from the chaff, at least on the material level, that which is observable and easily measurable. Of course, science is even putting an end to that entry-level sort of objective observation.

As to the specifics of which of Bob Black's counsels I find disagreeable, based on the few crumbs you've provided above, I'd suggest you and I have indeed landed on the same secret square, so if your beef with me is simply one of TRUTH, I'd say try again.

Work, while obviously travailed differently by those divided across the chattering and the muttering classes, is the very mesh of life where meaning and satisfaction are manifested beyond the dubious markings of profane job descriptions and its so-called bearing on social rank.

Work is the freedom to excel.

But feel free like some to tout Bob Black. Believe me, as one who has periodically tried with the 20-20s wide open, therefore sacrificing the career track several times, and failing to dodge the realities of gross subemployment when I would choose to work—working at not working is a tiresome business. We all must adhere to our own natures, or die trying, don't you think?

GT

Remember When Bussius Blew Us Off, Plumb Missing Our Gesture


29 Aug

Bussius Beach

Bussius Beach

samplex

Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 10:52:13
Point of Origin: Washington, DC

Sorry I haven't got back to you, didn't stop by because my wife decided to invite her friends and they followed in another car. Make a long story short, they were not to interested. Well I have spent a week at the beach. Only company really was my son, wife (after we already got to the beach) invited another friend of hers. Came back the next Sunday, Monday truck broke down, dropped 200 bucks to fix, tried to replace my serpentine belt, broke that cost 75 bucks, this Monday finally fixed truck completely, living with the in-laws has almost become truly unbearable. Looking, possibly for a new job (pays more) so I haven't been feeling too spunky about anything lately. It was good hearing from Yall!! Yeah Haw! Haven't been doing much of anything except the last month or so trying to get back in shape, getting up at 4:30 am go to work and go running for 4-5 miles, work, go home, lift a little weights, go to bed, repeat.

Made the History Channel, summer of 2000 going through Ranger school, they had a t.v. crew out there filming. Finally got a copy last month (2 frickin years) come to find out, all the video they took you only see me close to the very end! Sux!! Oh well. Let me get back to pretending I'm working and not playing on the Internet. Later Gator,

—Sergeant Buss

Hey Sarge, we gotta see that video, man. Came across some pics just the other day you'd sent me from Hawaii of yourself snuggled up to God & Country & sweet teat familia gob-smacked in face mud and camouflage. Spunky goo, maaan, spunky...

Speaking of changes, I just took a part-time job myself down at the neighborhood Moto Photo. Plan to join Gold's Gym which is three blocks away, soon after I get my first paycheck. I begin right after Labor Day. Should be a halfway decent job, 20-24 hours a week, cop a few skills, and spot check the pushy Chevy Chase photo-processing public before the whole stinking industry goes flat out digital. And this weight problem I've been hiding under an enormous appetite for has GOT TO VANISH INTO THIN AIR.

Meanwhile, I dolly around the house working up my websites long in ill-repair after three highly decorated years of preparing to move, moving, and reorganizing into the new place, a MUCH smaller place. But I can't complain, despite a mess of health issues. I've just got to straighten myself out, Sarge, one day at a time (he laughs with a big-assed ho ho ho, as if he were some buck naked private singing in the desert rain for pennies on the dollar and a new identity from which to launch a David Foster Wallace attack on all those sinking souls he knew by the sound of their tongues crying out from the purest unalloyed Turkish copper, rich in history, freshly poured off process from the long queue of smelting pots containing only the perfected element.) Truth unalloyed.

GT

Time: 29 Aug 2002 16:20:11

Yeah it's gonna cost your whole paycheck to go to Gold's Gym. They ain't cheap.Yeah I packed on 20-30 lbs since I've been out and now I've been running just about 4-5 times a week 3-5 miles and the only thing I noticed is I'm getting better at running again and I think my body is just adjusting to keep the fat and be able to run. What a bitch!! Have to come up with some more strategies besides just running, need to lift more weights or more exercises like push ups and pull ups, sit ups (definitely). Well, I'll keep trotting around the trail every morning until this shit falls off. What are you up to this weekend? Maybe I can wiggle myself away from the looney bin and the Master-Where's-Your-Paycheck.

Mrs. Beaversnatch

Mrs. Beaversnatch

Any Hooo let me know and I'll probably have to email or go somewhere and call since the in-laws don't have long distance calling after my sister-in-law raised the bill to over 500 bucks with her homey friends. What a wasted human she is, worthless as cancerous tits! Well I'll get back to ya.

—Roberto the Boogaloo Dance Technician

Come on down, Corona Pooch...since we cancelled our plans to go visit my mother in Chicago, we have zero inertia. Might go looking at affordable outboards this weekend just for kicks, but that might be even more fun if you were along. Paycheck? Uh, I don't START working until after Labor Day, but I don't really need the check to sign up at Gold's. Just thought it would be nice to see money coming in instead of always going out. Moving out of the ghetto put us bug-eyed in debt, again.

But let's get together for real. I'm hardly drinking anymore these days, weight and blood pressure issues. I'm a fat old man fer sure. Though I look younger than my age (47 in September), I look fatter than I feel, but then again I surely feel like the 300 pound ghostbuster I am, so who am I kidding? Saturday? Sunday? You name it. Wassup dude?

Anyway speaking of automobile troubles, I've got to get outa here and head out to Wheaton on the Metro to pick up our car that's currently in the body shop. While visiting down in Charlotte, NC earlier this month, Sue's childhood friend's husband backed into the rear door panel with his SUV. $1200 worth of crush and paint. The body shop has had it since Monday. No problem though. Sue takes Metro to work, and I don't leave the house, so the car rarely goes anywhere these days except on weekends occasionally.

Later,

GT

Of Course I Love To Trade


10 May

samplex

Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 10:13:24 EDT

stilllife

Still Life

Gabriel, hi, this is Angelique from the Foundation for Integrative Therapies. I have a new development. Many web designers have answered the ad. Some want more experience, practice, portfolio work so it has been suggested that we do an informal contest.

I have the logo and ideas. I will need a server and education on how to update the site myself. Would this interest you? I respect your time and understand if this does not appeal to you BUT if it does, there will be some great opportunities for the designer selected.

My small business will need a web site and I will refer to my peers and collegues. Also, the designers name, bio, and contact information will be on the nonprofit web site, my own business web site possibly. I will be part of the DC Chamber of Commerce and Visitors and Trade Association. I will be visible. Of course, I love to trade.

Let me know if you would be open. We can talk later. I'm swamped so don't take it personally if I don't return your call or e-mail right away. I'll be out of town May 23-June 11th. Take care and THANKS!

Angelique
The Foundation for Integrative Therapies

Thanks Angelique for your encouraging response. I have run my own Macintosh web and mail servers here from my home studio since 1998. The web links I provided in my initial email reflect just a few of the professional and personal web sites I have designed and hosted over the years. To maintain the site yourself, you would need to obtain and configure an FTP client with the appropriate USER ID, password, and default directory path, information which would be provided to you by the web hosting company (preferably me). Of several Windows clients available for free on the Internet, WS_FTP seems to be the most popular.

But since I work solely from the Macintosh platform, I don't have any specific experience with any of them. I am presuming you are a Windows user, given the realities of personal computer market share, but I promise I won't hold that against you. As for competing in an ad hoc contest, well, I think my portfolio, skill sets, and technological resources already speak for themselves. However, I can certainly understand if you choose to go with someone else. My credentials can be found at:

http://www.imote.com

and while I am intrigued by the possibility of developing and hosting any number of sites you may have in mind, especially since you appear organized as well as creative, I just don't think I am prepared to duke it out with others for that opportunity, loaded as I am with other freebie projects which unfortunately tend to be more aggravation than they are worth. But if you investigate my work thoroughly, and decide to opt in, or at least desire to discuss matters in more detail, please don't hesitate to contact me. Good luck!

Gabriel Thy

Hi there, I absolutely understand that "duking it out" with others is not your style. Thanks. I have yet to look at all your information. I worked all weekend. You can reach me during the week.

PS. I have a Mac.

:)Angelique

Pure Dishonesty In These Gosh Darn Infuriating Markets


05 Mar

Dishonesty In The Markets

Dishonesty In The Markets

samplex

Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 5:37 PM

Hi Carla—now that most of the riveting issues that have been bouncing among the Communications and Operations committees and the Board of Directors are beginning to bear fruit, perhaps we can get together for a half hour or so at your convenience to discuss the parameters of building & hosting a web site for your business.

I talked briefly to Julie Rosenthal this afternoon, and she said that you are really busy, and are very much interested in creating a site, but may be a little overwhelmed by the prospects of pulling it all together.

I have been developing web sites since 1996, and would love to discuss the range of options Graphic Solutions Ink Systems can offer in helping you assess your goals, map out a plan, and bringing it all together in an attractive, informative, easy to navigate web package. It's easier than you might think, but you are right, it is important to organize from the ground up.

So let's do it! And thanks for your earlier comments. I look forward to hearing from you again,

Gabriel

Hi Gabriel, I am really busy but would like to pursue this. Julie's right, I don't have much time to spend on this but could give you a few links to competitors sites and to my company's site so you can get an idea of what other info people have included. I am an email link already for several agents in the area and would prefer this to be a link to a website. I'll try to figure out a good time to meet one day later in the week. Thanks for following up.

Carla

Date: Fri Mar 8, 2002 4:03:50 PM America/New_York

Cheers Carla—I'm thinking of you. And I'm thinking, might you please, please, please take five minutes to send me that handful of links so that I can start pondering your situation...Julie says you are still interested in seeing what I can do for you, and I'm still interested in doing just that, so whaddya say, LINK ME...I don't need a lot of hand holding to get started, but I do need just a few details to work out a budget and a design you will LOVE, maybe some ideas for your domain name, and down the line some specific text, that sort of thing. BUT I PROMISE I WILL MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU.

So let me know. Operators are standing by...

Your friendly neighborhood web designer,

Gabriel Thy

Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 23:09:57

Hi Gabriel, thanks for your email. Just a note...my business is a different type of business than most mortgage sites gear towards. I do no advertising. My clients are referrals >from agents and former clients and I operate from a different point of reference than other loan officers in my company and most other companies. I'm not looking for a website to attract new business. I would want it used as a tool for my clients. I'd like to have information about the area for new arrivals (links to museums, restaurants, theatre, etc.) and a resource for program explanations, online calculators and maybe an online application. I'm a pretty simple person so although I like sleek and cool as much as the next, I don't want to appear too sleek or cool to my more conservative clients.

Also, I've found that many of my clients do not want to use the online form of contact. They are more interested in having personal contact (phone vs. email) and the type of relationship that is built with one on one conversation...

Let's plan on getting together toward the end of next week. I'd like you to make a very rough proposal and we can go over it and talk about what you have in mind. One more note...although I've spoken with three "web designers" ... one was the brother of a very good friend, one was my dance partner and one was the close friend of one of my agents. They all seemed the far side of reasonable since they have other jobs and this is a sideline for them. So, I don't think I have a very "real" idea of what this all costs which is why I'd like you to make a proposal. Thanks so much for your time.

Carla

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 7:09 AM

No need to send any more links, Carla. I've checked out the sites you sent me, and several others listed below, including the one from a fellow senior officer at Community. Given the feature sets on the sites you've sent me, I am positive that we can implement a site with the same leading edge design and functionality of the more aggressive sites you've seen, and we can accomplish this at more bang for your buck than ANY of my competitors would dare offer, given my own lower overhead and current lull in new business clientele. You've mentioned you've already chatted with other designers. That's great! So you should have an inkling what they would charge you for what you are aiming to accomplish.

What I need to know from you is how much you want to spend. Great designs packing all the latest bells and whistles come with price tags, but of course, almost any option package can be scaled upward or downward to suit the client's budgetary concerns.

Postscript: That proposed face to face meeting never took place. The agony of defeat, unable to close the deal after thousands of prep lines of code, promotional savvy, coins of the realm for the poor, staggered with zero marketshare, wrapped, rippled, and on a warming Mid-summer's Atlantic spring day like this one, runny with certain scarlet sensations, once again strikes the stymied but munificent Fatz Bullwinkle against the slack jaw with the ferocious wink of eternal damnation...
This said, I can guarantee my final prices will tally 30-50% lower than anything you have already been quoted, as several past clients can attest. Hence, more bells and whistles for your design, hosting, and maintenance dollar. Choosing an exciting and informative domain name is an important decision YOU must make. Below I have listed the results of an hour-long online search. But since I have no idea where you would like to go in terms of branding, these queries were merely off the top of my head. Perhaps you already have a few ideas of your own.

So Carla, let's be frank, I'm not much of a salesperson, but am an eager and communicative designer. I'm not going to press or hard sell you today or any other day, but I might just impress you with my dedication and attention to the details of the job at hand. Again, I await your perfect timing.

Let me know how I can make this easy on you, given your hectic schedule. At some point before negotiating and signing a contract, we'll need to agree on a budget, the specific web content and features, a domain name, and a hosting package. Beginning the work is the fun part for me. So you just give the word.

Thanks,

Gabriel

Postscript: That proposed face to face meeting never took place. The agony of defeat, unable to close the deal after thousands of prep lines of code, promotional savvy, coins of the realm for the poor, staggered with zero marketshare, wrapped, rippled, and on a warming Mid-summer's Atlantic spring day like this one, runny with certain scarlet sensations, once again strikes the stymied but munificent Fatz Bullwinkle against the slack jaw with the ferocious wink of eternal damnation...

Getting To The Heart (Of That Rascally Board Of Directors)


25 Feb

paperwork-tango

The Paperwork Tango

samplex

Date: Mon Feb 25, 2002 7:50:38 AM America/New_York

Hello Bill—I am glad we bumped into each other on Saturday. Pursuant to the need for direct and simple clarity, the starting point of my own personal anxiety is page 10 in the Public Offering Statement, also repeated on page B-23 of the bylaws which reads (and nowhere superseded that I have found)...

"The Declarant or the Board of Directors shall not make renovations of the common elements and the units for a cost of over $100,000 as aggregated in one calendar year period, unless the owners representing a percentage of ownership of at least 80% approve of said renovation. However, this requirement shall not apply when the Declarant or the Board of Directors determines and declares construction or renovation to be necessary because of an emergency."

At the January Board meeting, I requested and was given permission to read this language into the record. Well, it did not make the minutes, nor did the Board adequately respond to the point. A one liner suggesting the Board's authority is explained somewhere else just doesn't meet the criteria for honest leadership in my experience as a former ANC Chair.

At this week's February meeting my wife again tried to get clarification on whether this was an emergency or not, and an accompanying declaration. Again, something was barely articulated along the lines that this wasn't exactly an emergency, before our property manager Rick Honig interrupted him saying that the engineers recommended that this repair be undertaken as soon as possible. End of explanation.

Contrary to your perception of anger and a unified loyal opposition, I've encountered nothing of the sort. A scattered few voices of meek resentment, but nobody ever speaking in rage, or from the same page, or any page at all for that matter, but simply out of exasperation, confusion, and voicelessness, tied in knots by the sheer powerlessness of it all. Alienation after all, is a two way street, given the stress points of cause and effect.
I have combed ALL my documents several times and can find nothing to contradict this governing edict. There may be something. I have not found it.

Frankly, the Board of Directors is legally vested with stunningly comprehensive powers by our governing documents to the near absolute exclusion of a daily voice for the remaining ninety plus percent of the association. Indeed this would be intolerable were it not for a few checks and balances already indeed in place. There is little in them that offers ANY individual owner the right to an EFFECTIVE voice in MOST situations. This spending check is nearly the ONLY limit put to the Board in writing, and it is the one, which by its very nature of presuming an equal treatment to all owners carefully informed by an assumption of variant capital capacities among individuals within any association, is wisdom in a nutshell. Money is often where the heart is, since nobody can seem to live without it, and few of us are not pursuing it with every clue we possess.

Our association is a democratic organization operating within a nation founded on these very democratic principles, and is fortified by governing laws and codes. This spending cap exception to an otherwise absolute rule of the many by the few, makes absolute sense, and until this issue is cleanly and plainly addressed by the Board, I am convinced of my own position that the Board is in effect, acting illegally. Ignoring the issue exposes the Board to legal liability by an opportunistic litigant. This concerns me, and it should very well concern the Board, don't you think?

Continued short and rather callous rebuffs by the Board when sincerely questioned does little to encourage the goodwill of the few who find themselves suffering intellectual or financial hardship by some swift action of any Board of Directors. And let me be clear about this, Bill; I am not part of some loyal opposition. While I have been approached with several complaints personally, no attempt to get at the heart of their own arguments has been very successful. Hence I take full responsibility for my own LOUD, NERVY writing. Nobody wants to hurt anybody else's feelings. Nor do I. Contrary to your perception of anger and a unified loyal opposition, I've encountered nothing of the sort. A scattered few voices of meek resentment, but nobody ever speaking in rage, or from the same page, or any page at all for that matter, but simply out of exasperation, confusion, and voicelessness, tied in knots by the sheer powerlessness of it all. Alienation after all, is a two way street, given the stress points of cause and effect.

You know, this is not about winning or losing turf or prestige. This is not about any web site or even the garage deck assessment. This is about accessibility and connectivity (in the neighborly sense). Genuine and effective connectivity. There seems to be so much to say, so little time, and so few ways of doing anything without offending somebody up or down the ladder of our discontent...

There are a couple other bylaw comments I'd like of course to make, but (and I tried, I really tried to be brief)...

Please feel free to call me this week as per your request. And thank you Bill for ALL your efforts in these matters. I am honored.

Sincerely,

Gabriel Thy

The Condo Association Wars: Website Purposes & Procurements


20 Feb

autumn

In Autumn At 4707 Connecticut

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At 6:56 AM -0800 2/20/02, Joseph Robinson wrote:

Hi Gabriel—I checked out your Web site again today. I like the new poll. I had class last night, and was unable to attend the meeting. How did the meeting go? How did the board feel about the Web site?

Hey Joe—thanks for popping into the site. I wasn't able to make the meeting last night either, but my wife Sue attended. So you'll have to settle for second hand news, what there is of it. Seems that Bill Tilghman was quite an effective agent of change. He initiated the web site discussion, then championed the site as a positive step in the right direction. In other words, to quote one of the communication committee's finest, he "gets" it.

I can thoroughly appreciate his sensibilities and applaud his efforts in seizing an opportunity to float past the butterfly net. Thank you very much, Bill. You have my strongest respect. First Gloria, now the whole Board! Impressive!

I however, envision the site as something more robust and comprehensive, a vital communication and archival tool or else it's just not worth my time, nor probably anybody else's. And isn't the Board already overworked and overmuscled as it is...
In what I heard was a formidable defense, Bill beat back most of the neutralizing reactions of Diane Ferro, Victor Fried, and Brian Moran, with solid responses. After some discussion the Board eventually voted to have the communications committee write a proposal for the Board to consider at a later date. Victor abstained from this vote.

Frankly, for sake of argument, I'm not at all convinced I am comfortable with the Board CONTROLLING the site at this point, although I feel that ceding the work to the Association one fine day when most of the heavy lifting is finished and the weekly grind is manageable at minimum expense and expertise, is certainly in the cards. But in the meantime, no doubt, we should abide the communications committee, chaired by Laura Baptiste, to organize an effort to articulate the full range of issues impacting a community site, answer them honestly and wholly, and then respectfully suggest that the best solution is defined by what a web site can mean to the association as a whole, and is not simply a mediocre offering existing primarily as yet another flexed muscle of the Board. I however, envision the site as something more robust and comprehensive, a vital communication and archival tool or else it's just not worth my time, nor probably anybody else's.

And isn't the Board already overworked and overmuscled as it is...

Victor Fried voiced poignant concerns about money and site continuity. Diane wants Board control over every document posted. Doesn't it already have that power with every document I have in my possession? Does Diane want proof reading duties? She's more than welcome to that thankless task, I'm sure. I'm not clear as to what Brian Moran questioned about the online delivery of pages that should matter to us each solely as equal members of the association, but I'm sure he's well-intentioned. Ditto ditto on the rest of us. On continuity, if the project eventually dies with me, then so be it. Who's lost anything? Not Victor. Not the Board. Not the Association. Just me and some folly of selling myself far too short for far too long and never thinking far enough ahead in begging to differ.

This shoddy method of governing apologetics simply amounts to a deflection of the inquiry, and while I am sure the Board members may grow weary of explaining what to them is an obvious fact of daily operations, this repeated stonewalling of sincere inquiry seems to indicate possible collusion and willful intent to deceive, which is not fun city. Especially when fact turns to myth when more carefully reviewed.
Two letters, one by Julie Rosenthal and another by Joe Remy, concerning the recent garage assessments were read into the record by Tish Kilpatrick.

The garage assessment bothers me as well, but not in a way that I've heard articulated by anyone else. However, I'll leave the stickier details of that discussion to the paper I had hoped I would have had prepared by last night's meeting, but did not.

The gist however is this, and I must put it bluntly: our Board of Directors is acting ILLEGALLY. It is beyond my comprehensive powers to understand the Board's apparent lack of respect with regards to the seriousness of this legality issue, even as it becomes clear that the vast majority of unit owners are persistently acquiescent, even comfortable with the Board taking these risks. After thoroughly absorbing the specific documentation in the District Code (see below), the 4707 Association's governing documents, and any presumable common sense, or more precisely, any savvy political and financial lucidity I could muster, what I behold as the Board's insistence on pushing through this assessment according to their own lights instead of BY THE BOOK, has left them conceivably open to charges of gross impropriety. And that charge could come from anybody in this building, and in my humble opinion, that charge might very well stick.

Even after certain details are brought to the Board's attention, instead of a well-reasoned response, a series of conflicting explanations, often by the same people within the same retort, are manifested. This shoddy method of governing apologetics simply amounts to a deflection of the inquiry, and while I am sure the Board members may grow weary of explaining what to them is an obvious fact of daily operations, this repeated stonewalling of sincere inquiry seems to indicate possible collusion and willful intent to deceive, which is not fun city. Especially when fact turns to myth when more carefully reviewed.

But I hardly expected the degree of alienation that has swept through some of us who simply feel there is an urgency to be more routinely informed and in charge of our own specific destinies within the greater context of association unity, and to be recognized as allies in these efforts in helping to make this transition a reality.
I am not an attorney, but I do believe I can read at a decent level of comprehension. Specific regulations protect Board members from personal liability when their decisions are rendered honestly, even if mistakenly. The Board is also heavily insured by the Association against untold other species of lawsuits from unit owners, contractors, or other vendors for faults real or imagined. For lack of a better phrase, let me just say I think our Board has taken this protection racket a little too far. Lawsuits are filed every day against associations or their boards nationwide. Interesting case law is being propagated locally (VA), and is worth noting. Not that I'm suggesting a lawsuit. I am most solemnly not. I wish only to encourage a spirit of cooperation and civil discourse on important matters, in this case, with my neighbors and trusted directors, and in the process get a firm grasp on protocols and procedures as we each seek a strong and common foundation. But some things must not be allowed to stand. Bad precedent is bad precedent. Even if this is how things have been done for 20 years.

Yet this Board expects to be given "some leeway" as Tish said to me in passing while we were attending the Community Associations Institute (CAI) seminar ten days ago where every speaker I heard made mention of the association's governing documents as the"only God in town." Their words, not mine. They emphasized, and re-emphasized this quite specific aspect of surviving life in an association. Even the Courts refer to the association's governing documents as the primary source of appropriate action, as noted in article after article in over two years of archived CAI publications I've poured over these past few weeks. It is now my impression that this Board believes that the 4707 CACA is unique, a special case, or in systemic terms, their own special project, and that the rules do not or should not apply to them because they each have good hearts and stellar credentials and are simply doing the right thing. While I continually beat a dead horse, it is no surprise that decent, smart, affluent, hardworking people can be dead wrong too. That includes me. That includes you.

This rather unsettling feeling as to the Board's procedural nature has only recently been settled upon me.

The legitimacy here I think is signaled in the fact there there should be little or zero difference with regards to what the web site can produce equally for all three parties, and that is a closer-knit community where each of the three groups contribute and earn respect for each other's contributions and perspectives within the association.
Last November when another resident who is now selling her unit in protest rather than organize the fight as she originally tried to do among a small group of would-be dissenters (I refused to go, reading details only later), I cavalierly dismissed her description of the Board, as inflammatory and surely unfounded. But her description unfortunately now seems all too fitting in the couple of months I have vigorously chased the idea of becoming better informed.

The assessment value cap per annum whereby the Board must officially consult with the rest of the association in a vote of the whole body is being resolutely ignored. And that misstep is just the tip of the iceberg I believe.

This is a rather sad and difficult situation for me. My position on those matters is further complicated by the unfortunate politics of trying to invigorate the web site in this new era of controversy with the same gratifying community spirit I had in mind when I believed there was no extenuating hassle immediately at hand.

I began the web site as a measure of self-ordering. The idea of public service to the association at large wasn't too remote of course, since this is what I do (communication via publication), even knowing that without fail some tenacious controversy would arise. But I hardly expected the degree of alienation that has swept through some of us who simply feel there is an urgency to be more routinely informed and in charge of our own specific destinies within the greater context of association unity, and to be recognized as allies in these efforts in helping to make this transition a reality. Not treated as intruders, know-nothings, corrupters of the code, or worse.

As you know, there is a lot of work already in place, and so much more that should be encouraged.

After several declarations as to not knowing enough about the proposed site (although every board member was made privy to passwords and ID last November) my wife last night offered to answer any questions any of the Board members might have concerning what I've started. Not a single person accepted her offer. They each turned to her to stare silently, and then, just as quickly resumed discussion among themselves.
So a legitimate line of questioning is indeed, what's in it for the vendor, what's in it for the association at large, and what's in it for the Board of Directors? And again, what are the downsides for each group? The legitimacy here I think is signaled in the fact there there should be little or zero difference with regards to what the web site can produce equally for all three parties, and that is a closer-knit community where each of the three groups contribute and earn respect for each other's contributions and perspectives within the association.

It's called: GETTING TO KNOW YA....

Pardon my pessimism, but to have the Board suddenly co-opt or stunt ongoing efforts to creatively archive the immense body of papered documentation that owners should read, file at home, and recall on demand, with non-compensatory bureaucratic hoopla is mundanely counterproductive, even as I concede that the Board might simply be running this project through the same gristmill as any other professional project under its formidable wings, and are simply seeking similar assurances from any web vendor, whomever that happens to be, based on its own well-honed formalities in conducting business for the Association.

Yes. But of course, why would ANYBODY volunteer to do all this work for free unless there is an ulterior motive? Call it a creative passion to organize. Call it just looking for something to do. Call it community spirit. Call it ridiculous. But don't call it ridiculous, wage war on it, and then expect a happy volunteer next year when the shadows shift...

After several declarations as to not knowing enough about the proposed site (although every board member was made privy to passwords and ID last November) my wife last night offered to answer any questions any of the Board members might have concerning what I've started. Not a single person accepted her offer. They each turned to her to stare silently, and then, just as quickly resumed discussion among themselves.

Strange. It's as though I can't figure out if I'm too close or too far away from the situation to effectively make a difference. In the end, keen perspective doesn't matter I suppose, if all it means is one spends far more time standing in somebody else's shoes than in one's own, and don't even have a clean footprint to show for it. Apologies for the length of my doubts...
It was at this point Bill suggested that the communications committee work up something for later consideration. And since, I truly do not wish to involve myself in a dogfight in a formidably rigged match...

I sigh. Volunteerism is only as good as the spirit in which it's received...

Since accountability is a two-way street I grant that there should probably be some "legal postulate to protect all parties in place" for the web site to operate as a highly functional yet volunteer project and still hope for anything close to certified Board sanction, nor did I ever think otherwise. I for one would like to think the PRIVACY POLICY, once composed, and then ratified by the Board of Directors should amply satisfy all but the most domineering of critics, but I could be wrong.

So Joe, since you are already equipped with a positive take on the web idea, perhaps you'd like to contribute to the communications committee's newest mission in helping to formalize that postulate. Strange. It's as though I can't figure out if I'm too close or too far away from the situation to effectively make a difference. In the end, keen perspective doesn't matter I suppose, if all it means is one spends far more time standing in somebody else's shoes than in one's own, and don't even have a clean footprint to show for it.

Apologies for the length of my doubts,

Gabriel

As A Resident, I Speak


12 Feb

understanding-distance

Understanding Distance

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Date: Tue Feb 12, 2002 2:10:13 PM America/New_York

Hello neighbors—I can't say I rightfully enjoyed the meeting last night, but it was certainly clarifying. Even though I wholly embarrassed myself in that final swing around the circle by continuing to blubber on ineffectively about what I consider the no brainer potential of a comprehensive and interactive web site to what I felt was an otherwise preoccupied audience, I was pleased to note that despite the tendency of nearly every one of us in attendance to speak repeatedly from our own narrow mantra for what we think ails us as a collective in crisis, I did learn something about the general sense of alienation that the CSI management issue is for some owners in the building with regards to what is considered wasteful spending.

That issue of wasteful spending caught me by surprise, and I guess it shouldn't have, being already privy to the "thrift-wise" and "self-serving" spirits that stimulate most of us. But I was impressed that everyone did make several good points, and that there were enough strong reassuring personalities to help check others who unfortunately exchange the realm of idea for the personal attack far too easily to suit the common good.

The luxury condominium thrust versus the cost-conscious community angst dichotomy could very well sum up the problem that I had seen simply as more parliamentarian neglect on the part of the Board as regards to their simply pushing through spending projects that appeal to genuine capital improvement considerations while ignoring the possible hardships that these decisions, especially when coming in rather rapid succession of each other, may place on others given a conceivable variance in financial circumstances among the ownership.

Again I appeal to the Associations' governing documents. An educated owner is also informed by a general consensus found in the larger body of association institute literature as well as the courts and applicable case law of how these governing documents are mandated as the first, usually final, and nearly always, most persuasive tool we have in clearly recognizing and reasonably honoring the fiduciary trust and incumbent responsibilities a board of directors is elected to discharge for the association as a whole.

Consensus building, that is to say, the obligatory pro-active lobbying of the association membership in rousing necessary support for any large spending project long before before the mad rush to levy a special assessment and hire a contractor, to this particular owner, would seem to be the prime directive of any Board of Directors. I would like to think that this consensus building initiative is why the operations committee, among others, has been formed. I applaud the good faith. Now let's just do the work. With all due respect to our appointed leaders, both at the committee and board level, this consensus building initiative is clearly what is meant when volunteers are called to serve their community.

So we do have some tough issues to resolve since, while our building may simply be a single grandiose house in Jean Masson's words, the legal pitfalls and liabilities of 93 or so heads of household sparring over choices great and small, is hardly the same entity and cannot warrant precisely the same modus operandi as a single large structure serving a single Lord of the Manor, who finances all, instructs his dominion in every detail, and demands trust and obedience with no questions asked.
If the operations committee needs a launching point, and I would agree that it does, I humbly suggest, a careful read of these governing documents by every single person who would claim a seat on this committee, whatever our individual pet peeve or talent.

But I will be organizing my thoughts more concisely in the coming days and have challenged myself to publish these for the Board of Directors and interested members of the Association at large at the January 19 Board meeting.

Some of you may experience some difficulty in accessing the 4707 web site this morning as I move the site over to its own domain:

http://www.4707.org

and kill the old location. Registered on Sunday, world wide propagation of the new domain name should be completed by this afternoon. Conflicting password realms and broken databases caused by the move will take me a short while to rectify. Once the site is again fully in place, the original User ID and password will again be operative. Please note that the site is a work-in-progress and is not sanctioned by the Board of Directors (not that we should not seek it), is hardly fleshed out at all, and is being compiled at the full expense and energies of this unit owner as a labor of love and a project of peace given my own needs to communicate clearly in a forum that provides, however briefly this technology has been among us, just such an historical precedent.

Given certain resistance from one or more officers on the Board, I am also preparing in tandem my arguments calling for the Board to acquiesce to a laissez faire stance concerning this web initiative as it relates to free speech and freedom of assembly issues in order to ease my own anxieties about continuing the work. My recent research of precedent within similar community bodies and case law has thus far revealed nothing to deter us from consolidating and assimilating the body of information we have available to us as owners, but rather the evidence is quite convincingly, favorable. But of course, the body politik will always have the last say. Lack of participation during this heated crisis of commitment by the same concerned ownership the site seeks to serve will effectively render this particular skirmish moot, and not worthy of the Board's condemnation, unless personalities again rule over common sense with the iron mask of misplaced power. Meanwhile, we have our occasional meetings.

Shouting matches stretched weeks and months apart where the spectacle of one's own voice is soon mere ineffective vapor is not my cup of tea. I tremble at the prospect of another one of these round-tables that end rather suddenly with little else to show for it but another date and time for a scarlet reunion. And while I put every trust in our chair Bill Tilghman to effectively parse last night's discussion and present us with yet another laundry list of things to shoot for in some vague future, I request that he and others please feel free to pass this note along to any one else in the 4707 community you feel may benefit. Open communications is my aim despite the quarrels of human nature.

Internet communication is not everyone's first choice in aiming to communicate clearly many rather complex issues, complex if for no other reason than that of an individual being uninformed often as to the conflicting approaches to any solution of a problem already on the table. But then again, hemming and hawing over the same tired diversionary topics is a big turn-off for others as well. And there are tried and true ways to record and codify the wealth of information each owner can contribute to this or any discussion.

In closing, I apologize for what may appear to some readers as linguistic grandstanding in an age of quick soundbytes and spectacular noisemakers on the draw, but as last night's debacle showed me once again, I am decidedly less confident in trying to orally plead a case (especially my own case) when I sense an uphill battle than I am in my own ability to articulate more clearly and more comprehensively via the written word.
Nevertheless, I will continue to contribute to any or all calls to action whenever and wherever I believe I can be most effective to the greater good because I was INDEED ENCOURAGED by the insightful quality of most of the commentary last night.

To recap a few observations I heard from Julie and Lisa and Rachel last night, I too cherish the charming elegance of this old building and yearn for a more comprehensive community spirit, but I also know that after hearing the description of how dreadful an environs (perhaps with some exaggeration) it used to be, it is absolutely silly to surmise that it became such a lovely and alluring abode overnight by always thrusting a tightly clenched fist into the air, refusing to spend a nickel in advance of property values and simple maintenance.

So we do have some tough issues to resolve since, while our building may simply be a single grandiose house in Jean Masson's words, the legal pitfalls and liabilities of 93 or so heads of household sparring over choices great and small, is hardly the same entity and cannot warrant precisely the same modus operandi as a single large structure serving a single Lord of the Manor, who finances all, instructs his dominion in every detail, and demands trust and obedience with no questions asked. Again, trust is manifestly earned, not a perk to be cavalierly presumed by anyone or any smaller group within the larger body honored by the guiding principle of—governing by the consent of the governed.

But finally, let it be said there is little if anything unique about the 4707 Connecticut Avenue Condominium Association, by nature or by nurture. Thus, neither our elected body nor the firms or personnel we hire have any special exemption to go their own way, except as prepared by our own governing documents. We have appropriate guidelines we must abide. It is not mere hyperbole to suggest we ignore them at the peril of our own collective peace of mind. Last night we were offered a reminder of what always happens when the cult of personality dominates, rather than heeding the domination by community law. As good measure, we must rediscover the true path we inherit from our governing documents. Until that day, chaos will plague all of our houses, or at least those who dare involve themselves...

And not everybody will.

In closing, I apologize for what may appear to some readers as linguistic grandstanding in an age of quick soundbytes and spectacular noisemakers on the draw, but as last night's debacle showed me once again, I am decidedly less confident in trying to orally plead a case (especially my own case) when I sense an uphill battle than I am in my own ability to articulate more clearly and more comprehensively via the written word. I hope this note suffices as my sincere contribution to the discussion without harming this confidence, or that of others who feel more comfortable expressing themselves in other considerate and neighborly ways.

Just my two cents as a 4707 resident. By whatever means necessary,

Gabriel Thy
Unit 306

S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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