Saturday, January 29, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Takes on MassBike and in particular Tom Revay
(There was a Christmas in England, part the second, but it was depressing and the computer seems to have committed suicide (ok, the cat unplugged it) roughly two minutes before posting.)

It has been a harsh couple of days.

As many of you know, I used to volunteer and be a member of MassBike. And I left them. I left for a number of reasons. The biggest reasons were:
1) The stuff they were accomplishing wasn't very much.
2) What they were accomplishing mostly seemed to be happening outside of Massachusetts.
3) My volunteering efforts got left by the wayside, both by the staff members and the people who were supposed to be leading my volunteer efforts, and
4) a guy called Tom Revay.

Tom, and I've said it before, but not in print like this, is a certifiable, grade-A, class one jerk. When I first met him, my overwhelming reaction was "why is this guy so angry?" coupled with "really, shouldn't someone be coming by any minute to adjust his medication?" He's a computer guy, which is probably just as well - he doesn't have to have a lot of social interaction with people. Sadly, that shows.

Unfortunately, this week MassBike/Tom and I had cause to tangle again, which is a bit of a shame as I was hoping it was pretty much said and done. MassBike was holding a meeting to organize a Boston chapter. No biggie for me. I obviously wasn't going to go, and eh, it is a blip on the screen. But someone on a list I'm on asked for a sort of press thing whether or not people were going to go to this meeting and what they thought of the idea. My mistake was answering. I started typing and said that I wasn't going, and wasn't too impressed with MassBike. Sadly, Tom was the first person to reply. Thankfully though he gave a list of what he considered to be MassBike's accomplishments. Since he's their VP, he was speaking for the organization. He obviously didn't recognize my name, but in trying to throw him a bone, I cited back to a circumstance where I'd met someone at another event. I honestly couldn't remember if it was Tom or the old MassBike pres Tim, since I've met them both a number of times. Tim's an ok dude, Tom you've already heard me rant about. Either way, I figured a bit of the old physical description would certainly trigger a few memories for him. Let's face it. I've got that special physique. To meet me is to know you've done it.

It didn't trigger anything. I guess he's that much of a jerk to everyone.

He certainly kept right on being that much of a jerk to me on line. I would respond to points, he would start spewing reactionary vitriol. I would say, for example, that it was a waste of MassBike money to send people to DC to lobby the Mass Congressional delegation, and he would say that since he thought the Exec Director was nice and not paid enough it was the least they could do. These are not arguments that were exactly winning me over. He did invite me back to the organization once, but I missed it until he had to point it out again. Of course, I missed it because he also called me a troll, ranted on and on about how I should have read the newsletters for MassBike even though I didn't belong any more, and generally acted like the Tom I had encountered previously. And this guy is their VP? He's their elected public representative? This is not an organization that I want to belong to, and certainly not re-join.

I was put in a bind at the end of the day though when their new Exec Director, Dorie Clark, e-mailed me personally to say that she had been reading the thread and apologized for my previous bad experience, and that if I wanted to come back, MassBike would be enthused to have me.

I was impressed by this. For a first encounter, this shows a bit of moxie on the Executive Director's part. I e-mailed her back and said:
1) I was impressed she'd done this.
2) I didn't have a bad experience at MassBike, I'd had a *really* bad experience.
3) Tom Revay was not a great advocate for the organization, and that getting e-mails from other staff members at MassBike saying that they thought maybe I'd left because someone disagreed with my ideas was not helping either.
4) If there was tangible change at MassBike, I would consider re-joining. But for now I was winding up my other charitable commitments with a view towards leaving the country for 8 months, so now was not the time for a number of reasons.

A small conversation ensued. I think it is still on-going. Feeling that it was poor form to bad mouth Tom to the ED behind his back, I sent Tom a copy of the e-mail. Jerk or not, he should know what has been said about him, good or bad. That's only fair. Dorie informed me that he's not a paid staff member, but he is (as I already knew) on the board and the VP. That's pretty prominent to me, even if it is unpaid. But there's something about Dorie which says to me that she may be the one to turn this organization around and actually achieve some of the things they set out to do. If that's the case, I'd seriously reconsider joining. Because at the end of the day, it is a cause I'm passionate about, and would like to get stuff done. Of course, with this guy spouting off, not much actually is going to get done as he's so incredibly offputting, so de facto if stuff is going to happen, he's going to get shut down somewhere in the process. That's a shame, as he's obviously enthusastic as well, and that enthusiasm should find a way to get channeled. Maybe serious behavioural therapy can mold him into a more productive member of society. In the meantime? I'll stay out of MassBike, and right out of the whole spiel.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

In Which Our Heroine Takes a Wee Holiday, Part the First
Ah, the holidays. What better time to go on holiday. With those air miles in the "use em or lose em" category, I opted to use them, fly in a day before the black out period, fly out the day after it ended, and voila. Two weeks in England at next to no cost.

On arrival, I realized that it was a good thing that I hadn't paid for the flight as in fifteen years of trans-Atlantic travel, this was the worst exchange rate I had ever seen. One pound could easily be had in the local bank. Easy, that is, if you ponied up $2.08 for it. Yikes! This took my budget from "tight but comfy" straight to "austere." But never mind, I already had loads of pressies for everyone, the shopping was done, and I was there to enjoy myself.

The enjoying started immediately with Steve taking me to dinner at the local pub. Now, his local pub is about the nicest one I've ever been to in my life, so that worked for me. The food was excellent. The wine was excellent. The shot of brandy was excellent. We left the car in the lot, grabbed my backpack and went to the house, which wasn't far away. Single malt scotch ensued, as did loud music, and soon enough it was beddy bye time. (For those of you uncertain about my relationship with Steve, let me hasten to add - I sleep in the spare bedroom. Always have, always will, never want anything different.)

The next day dawned without anything like the hangover I deserved, but I soon began to wonder if indeed I was losing my mind as a foot long green parrot perched in the apple tree outside while I was making a cup of tea. Inquisitions did reveal that in fact parrots are now almost native to Thames Ditton, but it was still quite a shock to me. Apparently, Steve will get flocks of them in the tree on occasion. Thames Ditton, the new tropical paradise. I headed up to London for lunch with Neil.

Lunch with Neil is always good, and this time was no exception. He had plenty of news, but not a lot of time, so we made plans to catch up the next week. That didn't happen, and it was all my fault. I hope I shall be forgiven. Neil's a forgiving type of guy.

And then off to Cirencester. Good show, that. Greeted by the small children in an appropriate manner (the flinging of little arms around my knees so that I nearly trip and fall over), and a great dinner waiting, I handed out presents with some glee. But nothing quite like the glee of young wee James, who insisted that Auntie Anne sleep on the trundle bed in his room. I had asked his father on the way from the station if he was sure he wanted me to give the young lad what would no doubt be older woman fantasies for the rest of his life and Mark seemed to find it acceptable. (He would - he married an older woman. Not that you can tell!) I, and not for the first time, was glad to have packed my flannel jim jams. Sexy? Not.

But by the time I got to bed, I was very exhausted, and then couldn't fall asleep for ages. So the next morning I slept in. James was very considerate. It turns out that he has taken the standard interest in Harry Potter and witchcraft and informed his Mum that he was just going to check on me "as I think someone has put a curse on Auntie Anne." The curse of the deep sleep - I highly recommend it all. He was very impressed I woke up out of it. He was then also very impressed that we were going into town and I was going to teach him to knit. I have never, ever, seen a child so excited about learning to knit. I only hoped I could teach him. It seemed to work. He is incredibly patient. A scarf was created for Teddy, and when I left a scarf was being created for his sister's teddy. There will forever be warm bears in Cirencester.

Part the second to follow......