Monday, March 9, 2009

Stuff - redux

My office desk had reached critical mass. You know, that state where the piles are so bad even you can't find stuff. So I decided to 'tidy' it. Susan came to help.

What I had envisioned as an hour or so chore turned into a major 4+ hour project. 8 'billable' hours later (two lawyers!) my desk and workspace are much different and better.

I don't have a before picture -- imagine a pile of paper several inches tall; here's 'after'.

The big question is how long will it last? . . .

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Characters: Dr. C meets Councilman T

I like to tell stories; I've even built up a bit of a repertoire of some of my favorite stories. In fact, when I was teaching at National College (f/k/a National Business College) the students did evaluations of the instructors. I taught a two-term course, and the written comment from one student was "Mr. Hart's stories were great the first term; when he repeated them the second term . . . ". Well, I guess my repertoire is somewhat limited.

Anyhow, from time to time I'm going to put some of those 'stories' here. Some will be "War Stories"; others will be "Characters Encountered". Some will be my personal experience; others will be stories I heard and feel are worth retelling as the original 'author' is no longer with us. I'll change names to protect the departed.

We begin with a "Character" story. It involves "Councilman T" and a constituent "Dr. C".

I learned a lot about observing life from Councilman T. He could tell stories about his time on Roanoke City Council and those stories gave great insight on how to approach a local governing body about an issue. I also learned a lot of what NOT to say -- Elected officials absolutely hate when someone says "I'm a taxpayer and . . . " Guess what, genius, the elected official is probably paying more in taxes this year than you'll pay in your lifetime. The argument doesn't work.

One time about 30 years ago the City of Roanoke had annexed a bunch of Roanoke County. (don't ask about Virginia's screwed up local government system in which a City -- first class, please -- can and does tell the county that surrounds it to go to hell if it feels like it) A lot of people who had lived in the county found themselves proud citizens of the city but were still paying the higher rates for water and sewer service to the County's Public Service Authority. They felt that if they had to be in the City, they ought to pay the same as other Roanoke City residents.

Dr. C was an extremely vociferous member of this group. At one time he taught Economics at Roanoke College (he even taught my mother economics at the University of Virginia Extension back in the 1960's). Verbosity was a trademark. And he could insult with the best and treated most people as students -- even members of City Council. I had my share of contact with him in those days.

At any rate, one Council meeting Dr. C appeared and spent a good 10 or 15 minutes haranguing Council about the injustice of the water/sewer rates. Near the end (although Dr. C hadn't planned it as the end) Councilman T. asked what he later said was a basic question. Dr. C responded "The problem with you Mr. T is that you just don't understand basic economic theory".

To which Councilman T responded "That may be true, Dr. C.; as I recall when I took Economics at Roanoke College you were my professor".

At this point Dr. C decided he had said enough.