Saturday, October 19, 2013

oh, i knew that

How do you spot a liar?   

How do you fight a liar?

This is something that I have been struggling with for a long time, and only recently has it become a problem in my own home. 

A few months ago I was asked to sit on the board of directors for the condiminium of my residence.  I had run for the board, but was not succesfully voted on.  One member resigned after the most recent AGM, and as I recieved the second most votes, I was asked to sit until the end of the term which would be in 8-10 months (depending on the AGM).

My only experience with the board prior to joining was when I ran into 2 of 3 Directors in the parking elevators after the initial AGM a few years ago.  I greeted them and was greeted with the following;

"Who did you vote for in the election?"

Not 'hello', or 'how are you?', but an agressive statement which had me on my heels.  At that point, I made a quick judgement call that these Directors were primarily interested in power.  Finding out who was on their side and who was not.  What other reason could there be for such an unorthodox greeting?

In the most recent AGM each candidate was given a chance to speak.  The candidate who spoke before me (the winner of the "vote") was actually asked to stop by the crowd because he was rambling.  

At the time I went up and started to speak, the same two board members who had greeted me in the parking elevators started speaking amongst themselves behind me while I attempted to speak.  I say attempted because their conversation was audible enough for me to turn around, look at them until they stopped talking, and then return to face the audience for my speech.

Now, my speech was nothing of consequence.  It was the general, this is who I am, this is what I would stand for, proper governance and transperency.  But I was told by multiple parties afterwards that I had spoken quite well, and I felt that I had given the best speech,  the fact that I was the only candidate who didn't read off a piece of paper did help.

Once the votes were counted, something interesting happened.  The lawyers reading the vote results stopped, looked up and stared right at me.  At that point I knew that I had lost and I knew exactly why.

A few days before the election, there was a coffee club meeting where some of the candidates were given a chance to meet with residents and introduce themselves.  At that meeting were myself and the winning candidate.  Along with the same Director who was in the parking elevator and speaking outloud during my candidate speech.  

This Director made his support for the winning candidate known.  In fact, he didn't even mention that I was there or running.  That's fine, I don't need him to know who I am, but I did know where he stood as a result of his words.

Back to the election; in order to have a quorum, proxy forms were signed and handed out by residents who did not attend the AGM.  Their votes, if left blank went to the incumbent board of directors.  It is safe to say that none of their blank proxy votes were in my favor.   I finished second in the voting.  The proxy votes accounted for 1/3 of the votes and there were only 3 candidates running.

After a few days I was called in and asked to join the board by the property manager.  I took a day to accept, but I did.  This being a volunteer position, my only interest was to ensure that proper governance was in place and that the corporation was financialy sound.  As it was a new building, maintenance fees were low, expenses were also low, so the corporation was flush with cash.  But that cash would be needed in the future so  unnecessary  spending would need to be looked out for.

However, once I was on the board the lies started to begin.  

I'm not going to bore you with all the lies, I'm just going to highlight one as the most recent example of the outragousness that goes on.

And it has to do with Apple Quicktime.  

Property management was given a file by an outside party and their PC recognized the file as being in Quicktime format.  The property manager asked me (being in IT) if I could help with it.  

At that point the liar spoke.  The same man who had confronted me in the elevator, spoke while I was giving my speech, and who on one occassion had lied to me directly by saying he had handed me a document which he clearly had never done so, said this about Quicktime;

"I know what quicktime is."  He then started using his hands to help explain.  He held one higher than the other and then as he spoke he brought one down and said, "Quicktime is a type of camera where they take this picture on a camera through a tube." 

At which point he brought one hand forward as though he was putting it through a tube and made a sound "And pfff, the camera goes quick through and they take the picture and they pull it back through the tube"  at which point he returned his hands to his starting position.

I was flabbergasted.  Not only was he not asked the question, but he decided to jump in and speak and, quite frankly, speak right out of his ass.  

I ignored what he said and told management what Quicktime really was and that I would be glad to help.  After I finished speaking the liar said,

"Oh, I knew that."

In this experience I have learned one thing.  If a person says "I know that" more than actually stating what "that" is, they're probably a liar. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

welcome back

'As to this - well, we have lived so long in a garden that we have all but forgotten the common places of survival.  It was said : Si fueris Romae, Romani vivito more, and quite sensibly, too.  But it is a more fundamental expression of the same sentiment to say: If you want to keep alive in the jungle, you must live as the jungle does...' - John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos
It is not surprising that we humans anthropomorphize objects of our affection.  We may love our cars, our television shows, our lamps, our favourite sports teams.  We may feel that certain inanimate objects return their "affection" by operating as they were intended to.  We may love our local franchise of a multinational coffee shop and express our affection in kindness to the people who provide us our drinks from there.  We may even become regulars and form relationships with the people who are the face of the corporation behind the counters.  In doing so, we may begin to associate further with the corporation.  In these cases, where there are human faces, anthropomorphizing a corporation perhaps becomes easier.

Brand ambassadors seems to be a phrase that is used by corporations to define those people who customers interact with.  We may be able to go as far as to say that the manager of a retail store plays a larger role as a brand ambassador than a corporate executive who manages multiple stores.

However; the 4th wall behind which our relationship with the non-human objects exists comes tumbling down at times.  In the recent case of the NHL lockout, many fans have (or will) chose to detach themselves from the sport, citing many different reasons.  All of which are valid, yet none of which exist beyond the singular "fan" and the corporate entity of the NHL.  Even though the game is played by humans, and the corporations or management is also human, the league does not need the singular human"fan". Instead, they have a relationship with "the fan", a large entity encompassing all fans, who provide the money and attention that the professional game needs to survive.   

As a "fan" realizes that the NHL machine is larger than one person, one petition, or even one small group of people, or has felt that the lack of attention they have provided the game is enough, they shall return.  Much like parents who ground their kids, when the "fan" feels the NHL has learned its lesson, it will allow the NHL to come down and rejoin the rest of the family.

There are those who will continue to stand on their reasons and stay away, but they will be outnumbered by those whose attention shifts and who come back.  And they will come back, seemingly, they always do.  Their attention spans being what they are these days with all the twitters and the youfaces.

A shiny example of how attention quickly things turn today is what happened with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their (former) general manager and president, Brian Burke. 

Many people have speculated as to the reason(s) behind the (seemingly) sudden decision by the new owners (via their boards it is assumed) to relieve Mr. Burke of his duties.  Rather than play hypothetical regarding reasons why; hypotheticals which are very hard to understand when my first hand knowledge of conversations between the parties is nil, I present the result.

The result is after 100 plus odd days of a lockout which prevented the season from starting around it's normally scheduled time, a resolution was reached.  The news regarding the reaching of the resolution lasted exactly 3 days as the headline topic of discussion/attention.  On the 4th day, in the largest media market in the country with the most fervent support of the game, the story became about 1 man versus a conglomerate/board.

If this was a litmus test to see how the NHL would fare in the eyes of "the fan", the result appears to be that the past is forgotten (at least in Toronto).  That might be more of a survival technique of Leaf fans that we need to forget the past to be able to live with the team, but the fact is there is a new story; "Why did Burke get fired?"

Feeding that story was a press conference.  In which two people were on stage; the new GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the COO.  They were well prepared as to what questions may be asked.  There was  a narrative being searched for by the journalists, for most of them the firing was a Black Swan event.

For most of us it was too, but that's because we're consumers, we're on the receiving end of the information flow.  We get told what we need to, enough to keep the interest piqued until the games start and the games again become the narrative.

It is not my game, the NHL, it is entertainment which I can choose to turn on or off.  It does not owe me anything, especially not a start date.  The game did not go as planned in the fall due to no fault of my own.  The fault lies in the game itself being broken beyond one (or two or three) lockouts.  But as I understand that in 8 years this cycle will most likely repeat itself, if the game grows in size and people want a bigger piece of the bigger pie, I also understand there is more to the game than my relationship to the game.

There are many relationships with this game, different parties needing or wanting the game to fulfill needs or wants on their ends.  The biggest reason it continues to be a success in Canada is that it fills our winter nights with entertainment.   Our jungle is dark and cold in the winter time, and the stories of truculence on the ice keep some of us entertained. 

tautology: n 1 : needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word 2 : an instance of tautology