Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I’m an asshole

Regular readers of my blog won’t be surprised, but someone thinks I’m an asshole. But you might wonder who’s the latest person to have this opinion of me? It’s one of the women I criticized in a recent post (“Ultra PC oppressed queer studies majors process ‘It Gets Better’ to death”). She wrote another post in which she, to sum it all up, calls me “an asshole.”

I can own that. I can also own that some of her criticism is valid.

However, I guess that her post also proves that even the people who claim to disapprove of name-calling and of taking people out of context can be guilty of those things.

I posted a comment on her blog (a privilege she extends to her readers that I do not), but I’m posting it here as well:

Message received. Yes, I can see how my post was a bit asshole-ish.

I make fun of the ultra PC LGBTQIAA alphabet soup because I think it’s a bit extreme—when do we stop adding letters to this acronym?

And you may not have read my post very clearly because in the very first sentence I link to an IGB post by someone who is not LGBTQ or I (but is a straight Ally). I know there are all kinds of kids who get bullied.

And I didn’t assert my right to call myself a “white guy.” Go revisit my post and do a search for the word “guy” — it’s not there. I asserted my right to identify as a “white queer,” without the “LGBTQIAA” or “cis” labels. I guess taking people out of context is a skill that you and I share.

I also didn’t say you or femmephane sucked, and I certainly didn’t issue any bodily threats and I don’t think that my post, though admittedly mocking, quite counts as verbal abuse. If criticizing or mocking someone counts as saying they suck or as being verbally abusive, then femmephane, by mocking how Dan Savage and his boyfriend met (quote “vomit”) did so as well.

My blog post wasn’t just about criticizing critics of IGB—I did acknowledge one criticism, which is that IGB isn’t enough. I agree with 300baud’s comments above, that criticism goes down more smoothly if accompanied with some positive suggestions. Perhaps that’s part of why I and so many others found criticisms of IGB difficult to hear.

I won’t say that I’m sorry if I offended you—those kind of non-apologies aren’t worth the time it takes to say them. I also won’t say I’m sorry I wrote what I did—I still believe what I said. I will say that I do appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.

Approve my comment or don’t—I do recognize your (and femmephane’s) right to choose which comments appear on your blog, and I admit that I don’t even allow comments on my blog. Even if you don’t approve this comment, I intend to put it on my blog. I can own the fact that someone thinks I’m an arrogant asshole (wait, just who was it who did the name calling?) whose opinion’s not even worth listening to.

Update 10/14/10: Oh, I get it, Samia. You don’t like me and don’t welcome my comments on your blog (any more than I welcome yours, or anyone’s, on mine). You also think it’s okay for oppressed queer studies majors (or science majors who have the language of queer studies down pat) to be snarky or mocking but not for white guys who have any privilege. You also are in a place in which you have no sense of humor. I guess we’re not meant to understand one another, which is a shame because I think we both do want things to get better for queer teens even if we disagree about how best to work towards that, but I’m sure we’ll both have perfectly happy lives nonetheless (or at least I hope we both do—I realize that telling you that you will would be condescending).

Saturday, April 14th, 2007
Seven years ago I was still working as IT director for an educational publishing company and had worked there for 17 years. Much of my time there was good and enjoyable, but by the last few years, when I’d risen to the point where I reported to the president and was part of the executive team, it was often rather mind-numbing.

Today I happened to run across some old backup CDs and discovered the following notes from a meeting held in July 2000, the year before I left. I don’t particularly remember this specific meeting, but I do remember many meetings held over the years with highly paid consultants hired to re-engineer the company using whatever corporate buzzwords or acronyms were in vogue at the time (TQM is the one I remember most, following by “thinking outside the box”).

Read and enjoy, or skip past the bullshit.
Meeting 07/05/2000

Start of process over next 2 to 3 months

Bill’s thoughts on organizing values
  • value creation for customers, employees, shareholders
  • reward employees for contribution
  • become more flexible and adaptive, using continuous learning and improvement
  • increase work collaboration amongst divisions
  • grow value of company at 15% per year
  • integrity and ethical management
New strategic operational structure
  • strategic team to set corporate goals and make strategic decisions apart from operational concerns
Miles Kierson, consultant with JMW Consultants (Stamford CT), will act as moderator
  • Bill looked for outside experts on organizational development
  • How to create new leadership and management style
Miles gave overview of his company, which does two major things:
  • Organizational transformation: companies with a goal for the future that requires a different structure to get there
  • Break-through projects: e.g., work in Canada with oil company alliance extracting oil out of oil sands and need to do a $2 million project for $1.8 million
100 people, in business for 18 years, offices in Connecticut and in London. He’s been consulting for 20 years. Worked for CSC Index. Alan H used to work there also. Miles has been at JMW for 2 years now.

Concept: background and foreground conversations
  • foreground are what you say normally, out loud (“Oh, yeah, that sounds great”)
  • background are what we don’t normally say out loud but think in the background (“Is he out of his mind?”)
It’s important for this process to get more of what we think out on the table.

Miles’ activities:
  • Meetings with Bill F, at least once a week
  • Two 2-day offsite meetings of strategic team (probably next month and the month after)
  • Two 2-hour on-site strategic team meetings
  • Two 4-hour operational group meetings
  • Individual discussions with all managers
  • Collaborative design of the process
  • Coordinating organizational communication
Deliverable of this process:
  • A vision of the future that we’ll have created together and to which we’ll be committed and alignedA clear set of strategies on how to meet the goals we’ve set (a specific plan for the next year, something less specific for beyond that, and a process for continually reviewing the plans)
  • We’ll all know our roles in the plan and will be organized as teams that can work together effectively.
  • We’ll have gained skills and insights about ourselves and begun a process to develop ourselves as leaders of this company.
“There’s always room for more ‘straight’ talk.” If we don’t have “straight” talk, it will impede our progress and minimize our success. Improving straight talk involves our willingness to increase the background thoughts that we’re willing to say out loud.
Doesn’t that last bit just kill you? Imagine a roomful of white executives all wanting to keep their jobs, thinking about what they could say that would pass for “straight talk,” unable to say what they really thought, which would be along the lines of “what bullshit!” Or perhaps some of them really bought into this stuff, but I know I didn’t. Looking at my calendar for the day of this meeting, I see I spent 5 hours of an 8-hour day in meetings. Mind numbing.

A year after this meeting, I’d be gone from the company, involuntarily, but I’d also be going to Europe for the first time and back in school. I should have quit long before and done something different, but I was still scared of change, despite having gone through some. I’m not quite so scared any more.
Friday, April 13th, 2007

Seven years ago
I had a letter
in Savage Love
Exactly seven years ago today Dan Savage told me I was an idiot. I'd sent Dan an e-mail on February 17, 2000, asking a question about my closeted live-in boyfriend, and Dan saved it for a special "Closet Cases" column. Well, my relationship ended in flames, and I was an idiot, but I never thought to write Dan to tell him he was right. I figure he wouldn't have been surprised.
Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Okay, I'll admit right up front that there are a billion more important issues in life and that I'm revealing my road rage tendencies by even writing about this. However, today no left turn some guy and I pissed each other off while driving, and there's a chance that he may be googling "left on red in Ohio" this very minute. My writing about this now will be too late for him to find this if he googles today, but someday he might see it, and then he'll know I was right. For all that's worth.

What the hell am I talking about?

Well, I'm not the world's most patient driver. I don't think I'm particularly reckless, and I don't have high risk insurance, nor have I had a speeding ticket in several years. However, I do not see the need to putz along, and I do think that most speed limits are set too low for normal conditions. In my defense a large plurality if not a majority of drivers agree with me about speed limits as evidenced by their behavior. If you don't believe that, drive 65MPH on an Interstate (or 55MPH where that's the limit) and count how many cars zip by you.

So today I was out doing some errands (I stopped at Fifth Third, Kroger and Trader Joe's), not really in any particular hurry. It's a Saturday, and I had no place I had to be.

Map of Patterson, Second and St Clair

On the way home I decided to stop by the main library to pick up some books and a CD that I'd reserved (reserving books online and picking them up through the drive through is ultra-convenient). I live downtown, a feature of which that some love and others hate is its grid of one-way streets. Dayton's main library is on a block bound on three sides by the one-way streets Patterson, Second and St. Clair, and coming north on Patterson, as I was, meant I had to make three left turns to get to the drive through. On a busy weekday that can mean waiting a bit, but on a Saturday afternoon with little traffic downtown, even if the lights are against you, you can turn left on red, so it's no big deal.

Except today, as I approached Second St., there was a guy in the left hand lane waiting patiently for the red light to change instead of going. The light changed to green just as I stopped behind him, we both turned left, and he putzed along slowly enough that by the time we got to St. Clair, the light there was red too. There was a bit of traffic there, but even after it cleared the intersection, he made no move to go. Now if the light had changed to green, and he'd still just sat there, probably most people would think I was justified in tapping my horn lightly to call his attention to the green light. Perhaps fewer would think I was justified in tapping my horn lightly to try to get him to turn left on red, but that's what I did. Yes, three or four times, lightly, pausing between taps (no, I did not hold the horn down so it blared, although I did just a few minutes later).

He flipped me off in the mirror, the light finally changed, we both turned left again, and wouldn't you know it, he turned into the library's drive through. He pulled up at the window, waited briefly, no one came to help him, and I'm sitting behind him, yes, this time patiently, no honks or anything, but cursing my luck at having to wait on him yet again.


He decides not to wait, pulls up but then stops as I pull up and stop at the window, gets out and comes to talk to me, starting off with, do you always turn left on red? I reply that yes, in fact, I do, that it's legal to turn left on red from one one-way street to another. He says, well if I wanted to get a ticket, that's fine, but he's not going to, and I repeat, that turning left on red on one-way streets is legal in Ohio and he can look it up online, and he says that I shouldn't tail gate him, and I say, if he'd just go, I wouldn't have to, and he says, I didn't need to honk my horn at him, and I say, all I did was tap it to get him to go, and he says, I honked it as loud as I could, at which point, I do hold the horn down and blare it to demonstrate that no, I'd just tapped it earlier.

Well that was kind of embarrassing because my blaring horn got the attention of the librarian who should have been at the drive through in the first place. She saw the other guy's and my little discussion and realized I hadn't blared the horn to get her attention. I quietly turned to her, handed her my card and said I was there to pick up some books, and he turned to get in his car and left.

On the rest of the way home I was able to make my left turns on red and couldn't help noticing signs that say, "No Turn on Red except left curb lane," signs which this guy apparently never noticed before in his life, else he'd have had to wonder why we'd need such signs if left turns on red were always illegal. And now I am at home and have done my own Google search and found that on page 33 of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, published on the official Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website, it says:

Under limited circumstances, it is legal to make a left turn after stopping at a red traffic signal. A left turn on red may be made only from the extreme left lane of a one-way street to the extreme left lane of another one-way street, providing there is no sign posted forbidding a left turn on red.

One-way street to one-way street

So yes, I was right, and he was wrong. He wouldn't have gotten a ticket if he'd turned left on red. Yes, I realize that if Jesus were driving, he wouldn't honk at people who decline to turn left on red, but then Jesus probably wouldn't even own a car, and even Jesus got angry sometimes, though admittedly at issues that are way more important than this. Yes, this is not a shining moment in my life of which I should be proud, but fuck it. If you're sitting at a red light in the extreme left lane of a one-way street with your left turn signal on and decline to turn left onto another one-way street, I'm still gonna be annoyed, and yes, I still might tap my damned horn to let you know it.

Sunday, October 12th, 2003
I haven't updated my blog in two months. Bad blogger! My negligence is due partly to just plain laziness but also to my not having developed a smart way to update the prior entries listing easily without having to update each prior month's page's prior entries listing as well. I knew one way was to use JavaScript includes but I never got around to it. Well now I have. From now on, all I have to do is update the months.js file, and all the blog pages will display the new month.

To make up for not having updated for so long, I have lots of pictures from yesterday. Scroll down to yesterday's entry (which yes, I've created today, but tough) to see them.
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