Friday, March 6, 2015

Spumoni by Committee

My Inner Patient Sweetie-Dumpling Self

My inner Martha Stewart could not tolerate approaching the Target store on the bus yesterday morning and not getting off and buying supplies to make birthday spumoni at work, even if it meant walking in the below-zero temps the rest of the way to work. 

So that's what I did, and I'm glad I did because everyone got into smashing strawberries into vanilla ice-cream (softened in the microwave), and voting on lemon or orange flavoring for the white layer (orange won), and stirring green food coloring and mint essence to make a green layer.
And then eating it immediately!

I'd planned on letting each now-soupy color harden a bit in the freezer, and then layering them. You'd think I'd not just spent five months around people with dementia, eh? I still wrestle with my orientation toward "later." (Delayed gratification is not my forte, but my brain does
naturally envision a future.)

So when someone said, "Aren't we going to eat it now?" I actually had to stop myself from saying, "Oh, let's wait...", and say instead "OK!" 

But I did say it, of course (those 5 months have taught me something), and I said it joyously, because if you're living in an institution and a disease is making a rat's nest of your brain, why shouldn't you enjoy a milkshake at 9:15 AM?
Or even if you're not.

The muddy spumoni we made qualified for one of those "what I thought I was making" + "what I actually made"
FAIL memes, but it tasted great and everyone was happy, including me.

My coworkers think I'm so patient and kind and nice. Really, they say so. Ha! If they could see the inner workings of My Brain on a Committee...

My Inner Snarly Hanging-Judge Self

I had quit the Grant Committee this week via e-mail, saying my time would be put to better use elsewhere since the committee seemed to have everything sewed up.
And this morning the chair wrote back a clueless e-mail, like it was something about me...

So I wrote again and spelled it out:

I wrote that my decision was based on their not seeing the ethical problem of accepting a grant-seeker on the grant-awarding committee.  (I'd thought my previous objection would make it obvious, but I guess that's like expecting people not to eat the ice-cream right in front of them).  And, just to be clear, I googled the issue (conflict of interest)-- took me 3 minutes--
[ever feel some people have not yet realized you can look stuff up on the 'nets?]
----and sent the very first thing I found --from "Conflict of Interest Policies" ( [my boldface]:

"We strongly urge nonprofits to develop conflicts of interest policies which all board members, staff, consultants and volunteers must sign. Here is what the Nonprofit Financial Center (NFC) says:
Any member of the NFC Board, any Committee or Staff who is an officer, board member, a committee member or staff member of a borrower organization or a loan applicant agency shall identify his or her affiliation with such agency or agencies; further, in connection with any credit policy committee or board action specifically directed to that agency, he/she shall not participate in the decision affecting that agency and the decision must be made and/or ratified by the full board."
---Delena Wilkerson, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Financial Center (NFC) in Chicago, Illinois

The chair wrote right back and said he'd take that to the Board, although he'd already taken my initial objection to them and they'd brushed it off.  Maybe spelled out by a real-life Executive Director it'll get through to them?

These people don't appear to have rats nests in their brains... In fact, the committee members are all "successful" people, with all the trimmings (nice cars, etc.).
What's their excuse?

Maybe it's something about Committees?

My Inner Mildly Optimistic Disgruntled Realist Self

Googling around I found what seems to be a famous little essay by designer Tibor Kalman: "FUCK COMMITTEES (I believe in lunatics)".

And this, which is emotionally gratifying:

But I take note that Hal Riney is the genius behind the1984 (really) "Morning in America" ads that helped Ronald Reagan win the presidency. Would I really rather deal with a tyrant? Well... which tyrant? 
Or a lunatic? Um... what kind of lunatic?

In truth, I do believe in people working together in groups, even though, yeah, its like entering a rat's nest to do it.
Because, you know, who's guarding the guards? who is this mythical genius who is going to make such great stuff? and in service to whom and to what? 
To Reagan, the cowboy who really did have tangles in his brain?

So, committees are a pain; and I'm not good at them, and hardly anyone else is either; and I sure don't want to work with the one I just quit, but---sigh---I wouldn't altogether throw them out the window. 
After all, what have we got that's better? 

Ain't nobody here but us chickens.


The Crow said...

I have found that, all things being more or less equal, committees make decisions to appease the lowest common denominator, to cover their own asses and to maintain/sustain/inflate the already overweening egos of the men in charge and their power-starved minions.

Does it sound like I do not like being on committees, either? Good, then I am functioning rather well today.

Thanks for that link to the nonprofits site. I have a battle coming up at work and might need to arm myself with truth, justice and some nonprofit no-nonsense rulings.

Zhoen said...

Groupthink is a bugger. Most of the people in charge seem to have floated there because they couldn't do practical and productive work. But that may just be my cynicism.

Shall I send to a Tyrant button? (From the Pratchett quote, when Vetinari is told "you can't" and he replies "Do I need a button that says 'tyrant'? So, we have some up on cafepress.

Zhoen said...

Oh, and excellent that you just went with the joy!

Fresca said...

CROW: You are functioning very well! Loud and clear, and committees operating on the "lowest common denominator" seems right to me.
The power of inertia is very strong.

Glad if the nonprofit site is useful---you'd first pointed me toward the idea of Conflict of Interest policies that everyone signs.

ZHOEN: Groupthing, bad. Joy, good.

Fresca said...

P.S. S/b "groupthink"
But I like my error: "groupthing.