[svlug] with heavy heart, and a sigh - take II

Heather Stern star at starshine.org
Sun Sep 16 17:06:40 PDT 2007

  I understand now what Rick Moen's friendship has been worth - what he 
  will choose to see of things that I say, and what he will tell himself
  in order to paint himself in the best possible light, and more
  importantly, what he will manage to say when he knows that I have stepped
  away to be involved with a conference for some short while.

There is a man named Ian, whom Mr.Moen hates approximately as much as
tornados hate mobile homes, give or take a post office.*   I believe
that Mr.Moen is utterly incapable of sanity or reason when it comes to
any mention of this man.  In the name of supporting his favorite dose of
unreason, he will say and paint absolutely anything.  It is a true thing
that Ian kicked him off a list last year - before various bylaws were
changed and how who rules what happens, the president alone could do that.
For the same sorts of poison as he's spent on the Picnic this year, he
spent last time, and the methods have been different for the rules have
been different too.   This year, the president can't do things alone.
He doesn't like that either... this year's president would have been as
unfairly kind to him as last year's might have been unfairly critical and
it's all a complete wash because the actual group of individuals, several,
that were making things happen, made a decision that neither the machine
admins nor the glorified President chose to override, and which the active
Coordinator for the year supported.

* Yes, I'm aware that forces of electricity and wind have no emotions.  The 
  destruction comes naturally.   This doesn't make it good.

Principles that I honor and he does not don't make either "side" evil -
merely differemt.  If those differences are inescapably incompatible, then
someone's not going to like the results.

   Fancy how he ended up on the list for the current year, no problem 
   being aboard, as long as he could enjoy his presence there he was a
   happy go lucky guy.   (Apparently not.  Excuse me,  my cat is laughing
   at me.)

   It is the active abuse of people getting work done this year, carefully
   done on other lists in order that he could enjoy rules-lawyer status on
   the picnix group itself, however, that actually got him a *fresh request*
   for removal!  From someone besides his arch nemesis even.  And then
   there was a vote.  My golly, we're so evil I could just piss blood!

Odin's rules allow you to eat the high horse you ride in on, as Sleipner 
awakens anew, to face the morn.

   I believe I prefer the tabula rasa.  I do not know this man, have
   not met him.  There is some rumor that he's kind of well known around
   the group.  There's some mild bits of evidence around the volunteers
   list that he's actually helpful now and then.  I wonder if he'll
   ever show up at a meeting.  

   I will not any longer ever read his email, however.  There's this
   unfortunate jackalhead who looks just like him and occasionally makes
   all these bollixed up statements about how un-communitylike I am.

I will no longer play any Queen Of The Hive games with Mr.Moen no matter how
many bees he brings to help me play.  Any of you who are my friends, if you
catch me reacting to him, please do me the kindness of distracting me by 
asking if I have eaten lately.  I may be short on sodium and not thinking 

Whenever I meet new people, I will hope for friendship, let the world bring 
what it may.

Life must go on.   Brie needs to be working sooner, not later;  the old
server that SVLUG's living on may as well be named swiss-cheese instead
of gruyere considering how stable it's been lately.  I understand there's
some guy named Rick who has been bailing the old tub with his own bucket to 
keep it afloat.  Serious work and good attitude deserves support.  I have too
much work to do and this day has spare enough time to try to do some of it.

As Karsten would say, Peace.

  . | .    Heather Stern          |     (408) 374-7623 land
--->*<---  star at starshine.org   - * -   (408) 761-4912 cell
  ' | `    KG6ZYC                 |    

. . . . . . .

Exact reason for phone call:  
   To expect to have a human conversation with a friend, instead of fancy
   formal emails with "the list-admins" - I felt he might be interested in
   the whole reasons, the discussion, the wheres and whys, after all, this
   is Rick, he loves to know details.

The details I would gladly give to him over a cup of black coffee included
the following points, but there were two phone calls.  The first concluded
abruptly on his end when he decided he'd get back on the list;  he didn't
seem++ to actually *want* the explanation he'd demanded - just the result he'd
wanted.  I have the power to put someone back on a mailing list, but the
reasons are important, and the timing of me calling a Food Shelter before
their front-daytime office closed had some effect on the timing of calls I
was going to be making.

++emphasis: seem.  I have no idea what Rick wants anymore :(

Duncaan MacKinnon is (and remains til everyone finishes turning in their
reciepts and/or a few months pass and someone else with a cheery heart
steps up to the plate - look out for the lightning rod, it's a doozy)
the picnix Coordinator, but he knew he couldn't always be at hand.
There's a Picnic Steering Committee, which has been mentioned on that
Picnix list he doesn't read until Friday before the picnic.  There are
a handful of people on it;  either I or Ian could have been outvoted
easily... if there was dissension.

There was *some* dissension, but it was in the meat of why and what to do.

THe decision of the Committee, as spurred more than three emails in
private to the list-admins at some days distance before, was that
Rick's personal attacks on other group mailing lists (not just SVLUG),
of both the Picnic itself and of some of its most visible volunteers, was
sufficient to violate the List Netiquette policy against personal attack
and dead-horse topics;  that his presence made willing and active volunteers
distinctly uncomfortable and if he spoke to the list were likely to prevent
real work from being done.

I really do find myself wondering that if I had been as formal
myself as his request was, and said only that, if his reply would
have been to take it like a netizen and run off to other things,
satisfied that the Law was being followed.   My suspicion is no.

I am one of the votes in the Committee;  I am the one who knows everyone's 
phone numbers.  Because some of the mails were private, we had to bounce
them at each other.  I had several reasons for my own vote:
    * we've been asked to help out our volunteers, give them a comfortable
      environment to work in.  Having been asked, the question cannot be
      left alone, it must be answered.
    * Rick has oft expressed that he's not a volunteer to the Picnic.  
      Sometimes this has been in good cheer;  often it has not.  My best 
      guess *was* that he is either bored or annoyed with it.  Rick has
      been a friend of mine;  boredom he can handle in silence on his own;  
      annoying my friends is not something I actually like to do - if he 
      found involvement with the Picnix so annoying as to stir his blood 
      so, he'd be happier gone from it.

This was where my reasoning began, with compassion.  What I got to say on
the phone was much shorter - he grew angry - 

    * if he stays he would either be silent or he would not.  If he were 
      dropped, he'd be silent and probably unhappy.  Happier?  Unhappier?
      There are all the linuxer who *are* helping, who are already unhappy.
      There's only so much I can do for my friends - helping them make a 
      lot of people actively unhappy doesn't score well in it.  Sorry Rick,
      but that's the way it scores.

Regret at causing anyone pain would have given me the energy to come up
with an amiable solution, probably including lying to myself that he
couldn't do much damage on a list that was only going to have traffic
for about 6 to 8 hours longer in the current year anyway.   I know now,
that it would have been a lie even if I believed it - he's done plenty
enough without being on it at all.

    * I'd asked him personally to actually help make things work rather than
      complain about it before;  Duncan, entirely seperately, asked him that

You've seen what flamage that was worth.  Rick moans of "groups kicked out"
but perhaps he means "CABAL kicked out" because he answered hell-no rather
than merely no and stomped off loudly of his own accord.   This speaks
nothing to other groups Duncan attended and encouraged volunteers from.

Other voters had their own reasons.  

If my own vote had been geesh you guys, just give the viking a break,
he's just being loud again and doing any specific thing will cause
a specific hassle;  it wouldn't have won over.  The vote was a group
decision;  the larger group was being hurt by his not-local actions,
and the request was to prevent him causing local pain on an active list.

No, we don't - and didn't - kick off every non-volunteer.   Only the one
whose efforts to anti-volunteer cause such pain that action was directly
requested.  Think of it in the same vein as IRC's /IGNORE.   In the same 
spirit as that, most people don't get to learn how many IRC clients have
actually *used* the IGNORE command and utterly plonked their text forever.

Silence about it was because we figured he'd just turn every nearby
place into a stinkpot.  I actually argued this point; if he really
was as utterly uninterested in the Picnix workings as he'd loudly been
swearing much earlier in the year, he would never even notice.  And I
actually believed Rick's claim of disinterest.  If he *honestly* had no
interest - nobody would hear a damn word about it anyway.  The best of
all possible worlds.  Burgers ahoy.

I believed in his honesty.

He was not honestly disinterested after all - only almost.  But he didn't
notice until the Friday before it.

And he did, indeed, turn SVLUG's list into a stinkpot about it.

In a sense of friendship, I would have restored his access to the email
archives, let him read all he wants.  The exact vote was to prevent him from
abusing the *active* volunteers on the list *they* share to get work done.
It's almost lucky that some of the work is across irc and most of it was
across phone calls. 

If in speaking to him I could have believed that he really wanted to
seriously volunteer a specific effort, I honestly think that I might have
put him back on the list in whole.   It would have been an abuse of the
group decision, but I probably would have managed to convince myself if
he was gentle enough that I believed we'd done him ill - and that I was
doing better rather than worse by the Picnic itself, for encouraging,
rather than discouraging, a friendly sense of actual community.  At that
moment I hadn't seen the flamage he'd already raised about it on here;
I only had his voice on the phone to guide my sense of what he wanted.

It only occurs to me much later, that he never asked in good cheer, hey I
fell off the list, could you put me back on?  There was good cheer that 
day - when he decided he'd won his prize - and he hung up before I could
tell him anything more.  I never get to say all of what I intend in person.  
It's my curse.   In email I can say it all and I'm sure the world makes it 
a blur past paragraph three.

It's the same button that blocks one from mailing and blocks one from
rejoining;  I'm sure these can be split, but also so can the reading of

I'd never intended that he not be able to view, and had said so, but I guess
he heard what he wanted to hear.  He thought he'd have everything just the 
way he wanted again spot-quick.

The purpose of my second phone call was to mention that he'd have archive
access at the end of my workday, after I'd reached the shelter offices and
dug my not-often used admin passwords out of the corner I leave them in.
I'm sorry but my brain hasn't had rote-memory that's all that good since
I was about 16; it got burned out.  I don't know how many of you remember
more than two passwords at a time - I can't remember phone numbers well
enough to finish writing them down, and that day, I was writing a LOT
of phone numbers down.   The purpose of this waste of time instead of
jumping to his beck and call?   To make sure that any perishables left
after a wonderful 400+ linuxer picnic, give or take some random kids,
cousins, and spouses, would afterwards go to a proper Shelter.

Not only was it *not* a waste of my time, but the shelter which accepted
the food could actually refrigerate and serve the food to people they
house directly.  The sorts of poor that got the remainder, are the
sorts who will find themselves apartments again once their insurance
for burned homes and so on goes through.   That's *real* community -
and that shelter expressed a very fervent wish that more big events
would care the same to not waste what's still useful.

I *needed* to prevent a recurrance of the worst fiasco we had for cleanup 
last year, and I had to do it a lot sooner than I had to tussle with a 
password on a mailing list.  I felt it would be the honourable thing to tell
him that his results weren't going to be instant.

Bad move.

When he wouldn't actually participate in the give and take, question and
answer that makes up a normal conversation on the phone, and his voice
was racing, raising in pitch, and growing louder, I knew with a sinking
feeling and growing panick that he had no interest in knowing the rest
of anythign about why, what, or helping flip a burger, nor was he making
any rational effort to ask good sense of me, convince nor cajole nor
offer anything of goodwill whatsoever.   I'd had my misgivings on my
vote;  I was now forced to admit that the arguments of some of the rest
among the crew were right - at least at that moment they certainly were.
He was no longer himself.  He was too busy flipping out.  I quailed and
I did not expect that anything I could say any longer would be heard
by him.  (That's his *no comment* - I never said "no comment" like the
stupid talking heads say to the Press.   I tried to ask him something
that would drop him out of his broken-record attack, and maybe help me
understand why he was going so goddamn ballistic.  Waste of breath.)
I fled his increasing volume and anger.  If he had been in person I don't
know what I would have done... I probably would have let him pummel me
senseless... there is something in me that will not easily defend myself
from the anger of a friend, that finds it difficult to speak in the face
of such anger even if I thought I should.

But there was no way in hell I was going to let him put that brimstone
on our list with a halfday left to go and way too much work to do. 6
or 7 people were doing an awful lot, a few others doing a bit, and many
others had promised merely to arrive early with ready hands.   A couple
of project groups already had their internal plans what to do and where
to show up, they had their own lists for those things though.

The exact text of how I hung up was an If/Then statement.  Good
programmers know that If/Then statements imply an Else clause, if one
wishes to write one in.   That text was, with a dull ache:
	If you need to hate me, then we're done.  *click*

Having left me no avenue to the kindness of friendship, I was left with the
painful chore of President, Sbay;  to enforce the decisions of the picnix
committee and the later approval by its coordinator of what had been done.  
I swore when I took up the elected role that some of the things I had to do
would just plain earn me no thanks, and this is one of them.   Tomato me as
you will; no change was made to the list status.

Paul Reiber knows how I was immediately afterwards, because he was my next
phone call;  I feared how I can or can't be part of the hardware-volunteer
work I do for SVLUG, if I have to face this.   I will do no less for SVLUG
than I always have done for anyone - my best, when I can.   But it hurt so
damn badly.

I did the greatest good, for the most linuxfolk, and it wasn't good enough, 
and maybe never will be.  I wept.

I don't deserve to be hated; not for a moment.

I think he doesn't hate *me* - or he would say this - but he doesn't grant
me any credit at all for being any sort of positive force in Sbay.  What I 
feel is something else again.  I can't even express it.  His presumption to 
rule the lives of people he swears up-down-and-sideways no affiliation nor 
membership with...

If Rick needs to hate Sbay, that's too damn bad for him. 

If there'd been no money left from last year there'd have been no need
to have it lying about in an account somewhere.   There was remaining
money because the companies who think they're part of what makes Linux
cool, threw a few extra bucks worth of enthusiasm in.  That enthusiasm
came from the efforts of the coordinators and friendly volunteers to
make things work.  If there'd been no money left last year I'm sure
someone would have started raising ire about what wastrels everyone was,
that there should be ways to carry things over, that things are wrong
and someone must fall to blame.

Sbay's Treasurer has been excurciatingly careful to make sure any funds
donated tagged for the Picnic are used for the picnic *only* - that funds
dinated tagged for specific other things are used for those other purposes
*only*.   Rick has throughout the year, regarding Sbay, merely been

You'd think it was his ex-wife or something.

I do *not* think Justin's care and Jennifer's fervency to defend the
honour of that money for the bay area Linux community have been a waste.
Yes, there have been people who looked at the pot and thought they could
spend it on other things.  It was not allowed.  Their wails did not gain
them the abuse they desired either.   Wailing louder got it noticed as a
desire for abuse.

Abusing people who are actually getting work done isn't cool.  

When a cloud of blame and fear exists there is no possibility of compassion.
Nobody wins.

The one *real* thing that was wasted last year - Henry's efforts to bring
Davis' contribution of all the burgers we could enjoy - the huge pile of 
leftover food - wasn't wasted this year.  Or more accurately,  I prevented
the same fate for any of this year's leftovers.  I made sure the drygoods 
he'd been custodian to all year got down here too.

If individual penguins from three big LUGs and maybe a few little ones
(people werent required to affiliate with a LUG just to help out),
some opensource wireless group (that a few of you might recognize),
a couple of big projects and a few little ones, about half of whom
never even heard of Sbay since it wasn't mentioned on the picnic flyers
mailed to LUGs, throwing a damn fine picnic is a bad thing - well, I
said before that I'd eat my red hat if people had no fun at the Picnic.
It's just a freakin' symbol.  It's just a freakin' picnic.

That was Duncan's specific guiding mantra for this year's effort, after
reading the last few years' worth of notes about how they'd been run,
aground or otherwise, and his memories of the one he'd been part of:
	It's just a freakin' Picnic, ok?

*I* think it turned out a good Picnic.  I *know* that lots of you helped.

Folks who'd like any donation-thanks or reimbursements for their contribs
to this year, or any donation-thanks for helping deal with the Food-Cant-Get
Past-Four-Traffic-Jams fandango from last year, catch me or any of the
LinuxPicnic core people seperately.   Since the 501c3 status came in
positive the thank-yous are worth something in paper form, provided you and
your accountant care about such things.

If, by any chance, Rick doesn't need to hate me, nor the projects I've
poured love and life into, nor the many orgs and groups and companies I
do anything volunteerish for, then the rest is the future, unwritten.  
Which, to my mind, is how it should be.

But I will *not* give up my honour* -nor that of Sbay- for the sake of one
phonecall worth of a wail from anyone.  I did what I must for the sake
of the greatest goodwill, and I have failed, my friends, in preventing
all possible ill will or sorrow. 

I genuinely considered never saying anything to this - typing it all,
and hitting delete.   But I don't deserve what's been done to me, Justin
doesn't deserve the crap he gets given for agreeing to be a mailing
address, and the Org that elected me has somewhere around 60 people that
don't deserve the sliming that's been offered it.  The other cry raised
against it, that it was Sbay's picnic only and not run by the real linux 
folk of the Bay - I can hardly see how, for only the Linuxers among Sbay 
came, as many not-from-Sbay showed up early to help unload trucks, and
then everyone else arrived.

I *will* defend the people who get real work done in my crews, for any type
of event I am part of, and it has got not one goddamn thing to do with how
manay badgenames or group affiliations they hang off of their own hat.

There are some among you who pitched in driving, who pitched in buying the
raw goods, who helped move stuff, who helped defend the pristine honour of
the Vegetarian Grill.  You deserve everyone's thanks and good cheer.  You 
earned it.  Am I any more or less than any of you?  No - I show up, I do my 
part, it's worth nothing alone.

Do I honestly deserve bricks and bruises instead?

I know that there are friends of mine who will see what I've written
and be horrified that I actually graced this thread with my attention to
it; don't feed the fire, don't touch that stove, you'll burn yourself.
I have even promised that I would not allow myself to burn out in all
these things that I do.  But I have to be myself, be real, and what has
been painted of me, and of Sbay.... excuse me,  
(pesky state forms.  Don't *even* get me started.  The next person
to claim it's really easy to file a nonprofit gets a soak in the dunk
tank) ...is not real - it is merely what one man not getting his way
wanted to see of me - and Sbay - and needed to paint.  If someone tags
a car, you don't leave it that way.  You clean up, you stand up, and you
keep on doing what's right until the battle that should never have been
necessary in the first place goes away forever.

I'ev heard it said that the fights in nonprofits are so bitter because the
stakes are so low.

I don't care anymore if it's something besides hate that makes him need to
paint it.  I just need whatever mold this ooze is, to stop growing before I 
get enough allergic reaction to find myself in hospital, metaphorically
speaking.   The sliming has to stop.

I will throw the past I know of Rick away utterly rather than make any
guess what to expect of him any more.  Tabula rasa. 

-* Heather
* extra u's in honour and honourable brought to you courtesy of a sack of 
  u's from HantsLUG, that they gave me some years ago.  They have a meet
  once a month called a Bring-A-Box which is very much like our
  installfests.  I've been to exactly one of them, unless you count all 
  the times I've made it to one on IRC.  Webcams are cool things!

. . . . . . . . . .

I wrote:

> Thank you, Anne.  I've inquired with the three mailing list admins, 
> pointing out that I've always carefully followed the posted rules[1] on
> both the main linuxpicnic and announce mailing lists, and asking for 
> an explanation.  (My address was apparently silently removed and banned
> from _both_ mailing lists, at some point in the recent past.)
> [1] http://www.linuxpicnic.org/twiki/bin/view/Volunteers/MailListEtiquette

After two e-mails, one to the suggested list-admin at linuxpicnic.org
contact address, and a second follow-up to the admins' direct e-mail
mailbox, Heather's eventual e-mailed explanation about why I was
summarily removed and banned without notice from _both_ the linuxpicnic
and announce mailing list was that I mentioned not intending to be a
picnic volunteer this year, and therefore she figured I'd "probably be
either bored or annoyed" by seeing further mailing list traffic, and for
that reason she had removed and banned me without notice to spare me
from being "annoyed" because, she says, "I'm not interested in annoying
my friends."

I asked whether _all_ subscribers who aren't picnic volunteers get
summarily removed and banned, preventing them from seeing new postings
_and_ from visiting the back-postings archives, of both the discussion
list and the ultra-low-traffic announce list -- or just me.

A half-hour later, Heather telephoned me and reiterated her
doesn't-make-sense-to-me explanation about "helping" me avoid being
"bored and annoyed".  I repeated that I was confused by this.  She also
said the banning part was "accidental".  I said this confused me, too.
Anyway, after being assured that I wasn't worried about being "bored and
annoyed", she said she'd undo the removal and the "accidental" ban.

A few minutes later, she called back a second time and said she'd taken 
the removal and banning action "to make a lot of people happy", and
would not "find time" to take corrective action until quite a few days
from now.

I called her attention to the fact that her justifications were
nonsensical and transparent.  She declined to comment on the fact that 
I'd not violated any of the posted mailing list rules and that
apparently people get banned for violating unwritten ones.  She said she
guessed I'd "hate" her, and hung up.

So, there ya go.

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