[conspire] Fwd: Housekeeping, again

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 01:09:34 PST 2008

I have been having a problem, apparently due to fat-fingering, of
e-mails getting away from me before I am done writing them.

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 6:00 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
 > I find, to my distress and dismay, that I occasionally have to call to
 >  CABAL attendees' attention some basics of rudimentary courtesy inside
 >  people's homes.  This is one such reminder.

 Thanks, Rick.

 > (In case newcomers might
 >  not know, for quite a few years since CABAL lost its SOMA meeting space,
 >  it has been meeting twice monthly in my suburban home in Menlo Park.)
 >  The key point to grasp is that, when attending CABAL, you are a guest
 >  inside a nice, well kept, hospitable family home.  It's my father and
 >  mother's house, about which I care a great deal -- and also my own
 >  current family's personal domain.  There is quality, highly valued,
 >  one-of-a-kind furniture, wood and tile floors, irreplaceable Oriental
 >  carpets, and so on.
 >  It is not a public meeting house.  It is not your college dorm or
 >  cafeteria.  To sum:
 >  A nice home.  You: guest.  Me: host.
 [cross-cultural analysis snipped]

Well, maybe you can't just yell at a bunch of Vikings in your home,
but these are geeks. Shouting is our way of life, at least in e-mail.

>  1.  Over quite a few years, I've been rather appalled at most CABAL
 >  attendees' manners in using my dishes and flatware but never cleaning
 >  their own messes -- instead, dumping dirty dishes in my sink and on my
 >  counters (or, worse, just leaving them sitting around at random) -- and
 >  just watching blankly as I clean up after them.
 >  A couple of you, notably Kai and Denise[1] finally noticed that this
 >  pattern is absurd, and asked if I didn't think it an imposition on my
 >  household.

I asked you about dishwashing, too, as I recall. I have been washing
dishes at your house for some time, mostly my own, but occasionally
stuff that I found dumped in your sink. When I left a coffee cup in
the sink recently, I informed you that I was doing so to soak off a
hardened ring that I found in it. I wonder whether anybody else has
picked up on the issue and gone unnoticed because of leaving nothing
to complain about.

> Asked that question so bluntly, I had little choice but to
 >  give an honest answer:  _Naturally_ it was, actually, pretty outrageous
 >  for me, the host, to end up doing several dozen healthy computer geeks'
 >  dishes year and and year out -- but what could I do?

 I find that the general principle for handling clueless geeks is to
 Tell Them. Ahead of time, on-site, and at the point where they are
 about to misbehave. Cluelessness is apparently part of the neurology.
 So I appreciate Being Told.

 > If my guests
 >  lacked the common courtesy to clean up their own messes, I couldn't
 >  exactly bark at them that they were being slobs and they should be
 >  ashamed of themselves:  That would be shooting myself in the foot as a
 >  gracious host.  So, I just quietly _think_, about such people, "You're
 >  behaving like jerks -- again", and cleaned up after them.
 >  As an experiment, at the last two CABAL meetings, as I saw several of
 >  the regulars dumping their dishes in the sink (directly in other
 >  people's way), I politely spoke up, for a change:  "How about you
 >  washing that?"  To you-all's credit, the four or five of you immediately
 >  if belatedly did the right thing (for a change) --


> though your
 >  expressions suggested that being considerate and not being a burden to
 >  your host might have been something of a new thought in your respective
 >  universes.

Yes, there is a lot of that about.

 >  2.  After seeing one of the regulars being appallingly stupid and
 >  inconsiderate by putting a lacquered wooden salad bowl in my microwave
 >  oven, and thereby ruining it (an error that boils off and blisters the
 >  lacquer finish), I finally created the ONE AND ONLY warning sign in my
 >  entire kitchen.  This sign is black ink on a white-background sticker,
 >  smack-dab in people's faces on the microwave's black flat door:
 >     No wooden bowls.
 >  Last CABAL, a different regular put a different, not-yet-ruined wooden
 >  salad bowl into the microwave, and was starting to shut the door when I
 >  yanked his hand back, and directed his eyes to DIRECTLY IN FRONT, where
 >  the sign was.  (He did not apologise.  Nor did the other guy, who _did_
 >  ruin one of my salad bowls.)

Heinlein had a story in which somebody is leading somebody else
through a door market "No Admittance". "That doesn't mean us," he
says. "This means you," says the next door inside.

This, too, appears to be part of the neurology. Like people ignoring
the Do Not Touch signs on Rick's server, and trying to plug another
computer into the same circuit, and getting shouted at.

 >  3.  As many may recall from prior go-arounds on Moen-household manners,
 >  I finally put my foot down a year ago and forbade people from eating
 >  food, especially but not limited to crumbly food -- in my house[2] without
 >  plates -- after seeing a whole room full of CABAListas wandering around
 >  like barbarians dropping pizza toppings on my floors.

 A sign would help a bit. Putting the rules on the CABAL Web page
might help, though probably less. I, for one, will cheerfully remind
people of the rules that I know about. Dunno why I didn't know about
it, or think of it myself before you pointed it out. Maybe it's that

 >  Phase One of that was walking around to any offender and handing him/her
 >  a plate, with a very broad hint that the plate was NOT optional, and
 >  that I wasn't handing them out just because I adored handing out plates.
 >  When lightly wielding the cluebat didn't quite suffice, Phase Two
 >  entailed _not only_ handing the offender a plate but also making clear
 >  that the person's continued welcome relied on him/her using plates in
 >  the future similar circumstances.
 >  To my _utter_ astonishment, one CABAL attendee, who professes to have
 >  attended college at some football-farm outfit in New Haven that my
 >  college occasionallyencountered, expressed _indignation_ during such
 >  a third-time admonition at the most recent CABAL.

As a former member of the football band for said outfit, I feel that
this is letting down the side. I would be grateful if you would point
out the offender to me some time so I can give him What For,

 >  That seems a bit slow on the uptake.  Given that the gentleman had two
 >  ethical choices (comply with local standards of courtesy, or don't come),
 >  he somehow saw fit to find a third non-ethical one (stay, comply badly,
 >  and complain about it).  What _did_ they teach you in New Haven?
 >  4.  I have said, time and again, that people's bags of gear must not be
 >  dumped onto the tables we use for computer installs.  Instead, those
 >  should go out of the way, e.g., on the back porch.  I keep seeing the
 >  same longtime CABAL members doing it, over and over.  One of these
 >  occasions, the offender then shoved his bag sideways across the table,
 >  pushing off and breaking my irreplaceable 20-year-old WordPerfect coffee
 >  mug.  The avoidance of such disasters having been, of course one of
 >  several reasons for the rule that the attendee violated and thereby
 >  destroyed my prized personal property.

Porch. Got it. Hadn't heard that one before.

 >  In summary:  Act your goddamned age.  Act like you're a guest.  Act like
 >  you'd appreciate being welcome as a return guest.

Works for me.

 >  If these guidelines strike any of you as in any way unreasonable, please
 >  do feel free to be elsewhere -- any time.
 >  [1] Why is it always the women who have manners _first_?  Guys, kindly
 >  stop letting down the XY team, OK?
 >  [2] I.e., not outside or in the garage.
 >  _______________________________________________
 >  conspire mailing list
 >  conspire at linuxmafia.com
 >  http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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