Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cookies, Towing and Mockingjay

Last weekend I finally made cookies. Boyfriend had only been asking about them for months. I felt bad because I've been wanting to make them, I just didn't have the time. And on the random weekends that I did have the time, I wound up doing nothing because that's what I wanted to do. I don't get many chances to do nothing anymore, and I relish those times.

So I went whole-hog last weekend. I made one of my favorites, peanut blossoms. And I had the ingredients to make chocolate chip and snickerdoodles. I had made a double batch of the chocolate chip, but last night we officially ran out of snickerdoodles. Guess who informed me? The empty cookie jar. And a Boyfriend with a puppy-dog face.

Our Christmas decorating is more like a random hodgepodge college dorm room this year. Most of the decorations were still in my parents barn, so we had to drive an hour to their house to go unload the stall that housed the last of our stuff. It didn't start out well. Boyfriend's big-ass Ford is a great truck except the 4 wheel drive doesn't like to work. And guess what happened? We got stuck in the mud in the corral. Only because my parents are currently having solar panels installed for the house and the panels are being installed on the south side of the barn roof, and the solar crew and just finished trenching all the power from the barn to the house. So it was even softer than the rest of the corral. My parents had just come out to say hi and Boyfriend had to do something he will never live down: He had to ask my Dad to use his GMC to rescue his Ford.


I had to hold that in. He scowled at me for taking pictures for my dad. Boyfriend vehemently is not a fan of anything besides Ford. My family owns GMC/Chevy products. That's what we've liked and so, bought. One time, last year, Boyfriend even made a cardboard Ford sign and taped it to the front grill of my Dad's GMC to try to "improve it". The only thing he owns that isn't a Ford is a VW Golf. I think Volkswagon is the only other car brand in the world he approves of.

Then, he couldn't find the key to the lock he had put on the barn door. He searched and searched but couldn't find it. So, he had to use my Dad's bolt cutters. He then started loading the trailer. And guess what he put all the way in the back? The Christmas stuff. *sigh*

We finally got it all loaded and ran off to go see Mockingjay. I splurged and bought myself a small popcorn and a bag of Kit Kat's and bought Boyfriend a box of Reese's Pieces. He's not a fan of popcorn; mostly he hates the smell of it. I just don't understand it; it's one of the best smells in the world. We were the first in the theater and grabbed the best seats in the house - the seats just behind the handicapped area with bars to put your feet on while you recline and/or rock in the seats. First world comforts.

The movie was awesome, except for some dumb kid who just happened to be sitting right behind us, who either didn't read the books or did and doesn't realize that some things just change when the book becomes a movie. He made the dumbest comments and asked the dumbest questions. Our entire row kept looking at him and his mother who didn't seem to object to her son talking at a normal tone in a movie theater. Finally Boyfriend told him that if he didn't stop talking we were going to get an usher or manager. That kid didn't utter another word. The only other problem I had? Is that I have to wait a year for part two to come out. I find that to be uncalled for since I only had to wait six months for the second part of the Harry Potter finale.

I will say that we are fortunate we have similar taste in movies. I just wish that was the case for TV as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Sampling of Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. A day to spend with your family and to remember what you're thankful for.

Unless you're working retail. Because then it pretty much sucks.

I, for one, refuse to shop on Thanksgiving. Black Friday beginning at 3am was enough. But Black Friday on Thanksgiving? What is happening to society? 

Anyway, here's a list of things I'm thankful for - in no particular order:

For the roof over my head.

To have not one, but three jobs to help keep that roof over my head, even if some days I still have nothing in the bank account.

My family.

My friends.

 To have Boyfriend at my side.

The three kitties that enjoy snuggling (when they're not being giant pains in the ass).

For excedrin when I have a headache.

That I already owned a set of studded tires for this winter (it also allows me to save up for new regular tires next spring).

For my parents instilling a good work ethic and morals in me.

To those who teach me things.

For the really super nice IRS guy on the phone the other day. He took the time to help me figure out what I feared was a huge problem. Turned out to be nothing. (whew!)

That I love reading. I could have a much worse addiction.

No offense to Ferguson, MO, but I'm very thankful I live 2,000 miles from your city.

That none of my three jobs include working in retail or being a telemarketer.

That Mockingjay is in theaters. Because I cannot wait to see it!

And many, many more things.

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bad, Part II

(I know, I know . . . I took another hiatus! Shame on me!)

In part one I kind of introduced you to The Villagers (that's usually how we refer to them) and their sheer hatred of meters. And also their belief that we are fixing all the wrong things first. Case in point, I just had a gentleman in the office who was on the Board a few years ago who wanted to know "what hell was wrong with the generator" and why we have to spend money to fix it because "there's nothing wrong with it - change the oil and put a new battery in it". The generator in question hasn't run in a number of years and needs several things fixed. But I politely told the gentleman that I personally have no idea what may or may not be wrong with it, but that the guys would look it more in depth before winter hits and figure out what it needs.
That seems to have placated him for the moment.

As he left, another Villager called and spent the next 20 minutes telling me exactly who started one of the many rumors about those of us that work for the water company. We apparently need to make sure to wear our suits of armor because one of them is a "midget (I think the PC term is Little Person) with severe mental illness, who carries around a sword and a nigger-beater" and that her "husband/current boyfriend is a murderer" and that "they are both drug addicts". She believes that they've killed her cats because they accused her of doping their dogs when she took care of them after they over dosed on whatever drug of choice.
This has been my Friday afternoon.
And believe me, this is far from the worst of anything.
It began slowly, with Boyfriend talking to people about wasting water and issuing fines for doing so. A couple people started spouting off that Boyfriend has a bad attitude and he's menacing and harassing customers.
We took that with a  grain of salt. I mean, seriously, Boyfriend comes to town in the middle of the worst drought on record and tells people they no longer have "unlimited" water and that they can't wash their car in the street or water the road or drain their pool because they thought it looked crooked (yes, someone actually did that) or flood alley ways. Of course some people aren't going to like him. Duh.

The Board of Director's continued to tell Boyfriend to do his job and that if any customer gave him shit, to tell that customer that they could talk to the Board.

Part of this begins in May, when one Board Member resigned. According to our By-Laws, should a vacancy occur on the Board within 90 days of the annual shareholder meeting, then we have to hold an election. BUT, if the vacancy happens to occur more than 90 days from the meeting, then the two remaining Board Members can appoint someone to fill the empty seat. The appointed person would be confirmed at the next annual shareholder meeting.

One Villager expressed interest in being on the Board. The Board Members discovered that they lived outside of the subdivision and cannot be on the Board. In the end they appointed someone else. So this Villager comes to a meeting of the other water company and accosts us when we leave. He kept telling us we "can't do this to an American citizen". I think he thought that one of the reasons he didn't get on the Board was that he's a Cuban immigrant. We kept trying to tell him that the we had nothing to do with the decision and that he can come to our Board Meeting the following week and bring it up to the Board. Finally this Villager tried to push Boyfriend; when he didn't budge, the Villager then flopped himself against the wall and fell on the floor and claimed that Boyfriend assaulted him.

We both stood there like, "WTF? Are you serious??"

I lost my cool and said, "This . . . this here, is bullshit." And we left. And called the sheriff's department.

Later in June, Boyfriend and our other employee tell me that about 20 empty chemical buckets were stolen from the company. And not just from any part of the company - the wastewater treatment plant. My first question is, who in their right mind breaks into a wastewater treatment plant??? Boyfriend had kept the empty bleach tablet buckets to use for random things - carrying tools, hauling soil, or covered tomato plants so they wouldn't freeze. He had looked all over and couldn't find any evidence of forced entry to the treatment plant, which meant that someone must have either scaled the fence and made it over the razor wire or they had a key.

Of course, we're still dealing with the typical "you can't shut me off, so I won't pay my bill" customers; the "I pay my water bill so I can use as much water as I want" customers; the "You're gouging us customers to put money in your own pocket" customers; and my personal favorite, the "we're not in a drought" customers. You know, typical.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Bad, Part I

I alluded to some bad that has happened during my hiatus. Actually, a lot. First, here's some basics and a tiny taste of some of the negativity.

As I've mentioned, Boyfriend manages a small water company. It's a "mutual" so that means that all the customers "own" a piece of it. It's been run by the "good ol' boys" club for the past 40 years. They've never had a licensed operator to run the place and somehow managed to get away with it. Nothing was updated or upgraded. Band-aides were put on only when forced. Being so small, the state turned a blind eye. Until the last couple years. And the band-aides aren't working anymore.

Last year, the state finally inspected the surface water treatment plant and found some deficiencies - because it's 60 years old. Because of these deficiencies, when we have to use the river and run the treatment plant, we have to issue a boil advisory, per state law. Due to the drought, we've had to use the river to since March, about 4 months earlier than normal. We have 5 wells that, up until now, have provided adequate or near adequate water supply. But they are slowly running dry; two of them are dead in the water. One is consistent, and two are intermittent. If we don't get any rain this winter, by the first of the year we could be forced to use the river as our only supply. By law, we can only pull so much out of the river in a day; plus our plant is only designed to handle that maximum amount in a day. Any more than that and it just overflows and goes right back into the river.

Another problem is that when Boyfriend started, none of the customers were metered. Everyone pays a flat rate for what they believe is "unlimited water". No one has ever really been able to show these people how much water they waste. Earlier in the year, we instituted a strict water waste policy (well, strict for these people anyway), where if water was in the street, it's waste and fines are added to their account. We even made sure to take pictures to prove to people. They would argue about it while letting it continue to run in the street that they "pay their bill and therefore can use as much water as I want". Seriously.

A lot of changes have happened in a very short period of time. Boyfriend started last December, I started in April and the three Board Members have only been around a year or less each. They are all learning and have been surprised to learn how bad of shape the system is. They agreed to updating the water waste policy so that there were fines attached; they agreed to changing the due date (it used to be the 10th of the month and I suggested the 15th or 20th, they chose the 15th) and agreed that the due date should be enforced; they agreed to do public monthly board meetings, even though as a mutual, we don't have to; they loved the idea of a newsletter to go out with the bills; they want the water company to become a non-profit so we can pursue grant funding; they want meters installed.

All of us are aware that a lot of our customers have lived here for 20, 30 or even 40 years and they aren't used to the changes. They don't like and they don't want it. As one customer shouted during a special informational meeting about becoming a non-profit, "WE DON'T WANT METERS! WE DON'T WANT THEM!!" The anger over meters shocked the shit out of our panel. We had invited our attorney, our drinking water engineer from Ca Dept of Health, our waste water engineer from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and a gal from Cal Rural Water Association; who are all in favor of us becoming a non-profit.

So what are people concerned with? Rates. That's it.

They associate changing to a non-profit with rate increases. They associate meters with rate increases. They associate grants with rate increases. They associate loans with rate increases. They believe we are fixing the wrong things first. They believe we're spending money where we don't need to.

They want an all new system with a guarantee of zero rate increases. They want us to replace the distribution system first because the pipes are old. However, our drinking water engineer says that is one of the lowest things on their list to fund, while things like new surface water treatment plants, new wells, new storage tanks - those are priorities.

We actually had some guy who, even after the difference between a grant and a loan were explained, said he didn't want to pay back a grant and would rather pay back a loan. He believed that it's fair that he pays $40 a month for water and two people live in his house, and a few houses down there's a house with 10 people living in it and they only pay $40 a month of water. He didn't believe, however, that his bill would go up at all in order to pay back the loan(s).

We have people that tell us that meters are a complete waste of money and they are inaccurate. We've installed approximately 35 meters. In July, we found 12 houses that used nearly 1 million gallons of water. One house alone used 240,000 gallons; the previous owner's son tried to blame that on the water company - that my guys installed a meter and broke pipes and refused to fix them. But Boyfriend didn't some looking around and discovered that someone had purposefully set the toilet to run non-stop. Meters have also shown some people just how much they actually use. One guy, who has one of the nicest and greenest yards was shocked to see that in two weeks he had used nearly 30,000 gallons. After that we noticed he cut back a bit.

We have not decided on a rate structure; that will probably happen sometime next year once meters are completed. We've been using a nearby water company's rate structure as an example since they are smaller than us. We've discovered that some people's bills would actually go down; some would stay the same, and yes, some would go up. But we're finding there are people who don't think it's fair to pay for the water that they themselves are using.

While this is just some of the negativity, there is more. Much, much more.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Unexpected Hiatus

I realize it's been a little more than a month since my last blog post. I have thought about blogging each one of those days, but life simply got in my way; it wore me out. In the last month I have not even opened my laptop. I've missed blogging, but like I said, life literally wore me out.

The past month has been full of so much, both good and bad, which overshadowed the good.

The good? Boyfriend and I closed on a house just before Labor Day weekend (the last weekend of August). We moved that same weekend and the house is still in disarray. We closed about two weeks early and life had severely limited how much I had been able to pack up. So the weekend we moved was the weekend everything got packed. Boyfriend's Mom came and spent the weekend with us to help us get stuff packed up. My parents came up to see the new house and got roped into helping a little bit. My Mom came and helped me clean the rental a couple weeks ago.

We love our new digs. It's old and it's dated and needs a lot of work inside. But there's great potential. In fact, my cousin and her husband are on their way up to give us a quote on doing drywall - he's a contractor. The inside of the house boasts not one but four different colors of wood paneling from the mid-70s. I shit you not. It also boasts two kinds of yellow wallpaper in the kitchen. The carpet definitely needs to be replaced, and the owners told us that there is red oak hardwood flooring under the carpet upstairs in the living area. The basement needs a coat of paint as the walls are filthy and the carpet was torn by the renters as they moved out.

The good about the house? It feels like we're camping. There's no traffic that goes by the house as we're the last on the road. There's a retaining wall/terrace out back that needs some love. We're on our own private well and the water is great. We no longer live next to our customers in the water district. We have a basement with a kick ass laundry room (it's so big!!). We have a nice back deck made of Trex Decking, and Boyfriend has a place to put his BBQ. We have half a dozen fruit trees. We have just under 8 acres of peace and quiet. Granted most of it is up a ridge, but that's okay. We got a brand spankin' new propane tank as the service valve was found to be leaking - and that was the propane company's cost, not ours - haha! The kitchen is a real good size and we have counter space again (the rental had none). I have a nice full-size pantry and lots of cupboard space. Most importantly? We can do whatever we want to this place and make it ours.

To start that off, we went to Home Depot on Labor Day for their big sale. We shopped for a new refrigerator and found one that was reasonably priced and just what we wanted and needed. (Fortunately, our landlord was kind enough to let us borrow the fridge from the rental until our fridge was delivered! It's currently in the garage). However, Home Depot said it would delivered in 7 days, and when we didn't hear from them, we called them and said it wasn't even in yet. Then when it was in, it came off the truck damaged. So they wanted to reorder it, which would be another 10 days out. We were very unhappy and let them know it so they gave us a $3,500 fridge instead - the one we wanted and purchased as $1,600. Holla! We also spent time furniture shopping and decided just yesterday (Saturday) on a couch - we sat on it and loved it. And Boyfriend was able to haggle the sales guy pretty well and got a decent deal on it. It's a large chocolate colored sectional with a chaise lounge on it. OMG it's soooooo comfy! We have been enjoying it since the moment it arrived. My rule is that we don't eat on it. That's what our recliners are for. However, with the huge-ass couch and two recliners, our big living room is suddenly much, much smaller. lol

Lacey and Wyatt (the kitties), also love their huge new play house. Unfortunately, while Boyfriend and I were living in the basement - hoping we can get drywall and carpet done soon, every time the cats are upstairs it sounds like a herd of horses running around.We had to lock them in the basement with us every night or they'll keep Boyfriend up all night playing. Although, they did still get in trouble by making noise. I wear ear plugs because Boyfriend has a tendency to snore loud enough to wake the dead, so I don't hear the cats. Which just pisses him off. On the carpet and drywall, well, that's going to take awhile, and after the fridge and couch, the practical me says to hold off awhile. Besides, my cousin's hubby is behind on his projects as he has a part-time job as well because of the economy. So we moved all of our stuff upstairs.

Lacey has decided that she much prefers it outside. She's finding all kinds of lizards and things to eat. I think that once it gets real cold outside, she will be more willing to stay inside. Wyatt doesn't mind being outside, but he seems to prefer the house, especially for snoozing during the day.

Boyfriend brought home a new kitten a week ago. He was in a lot trouble for doing so. But he put her on my shoulder and she just sat there and he kept telling me that she's never done that before and that she usually hates being held. I decided to name her Katniss. However, up until the last couple days, we've been calling her Shitty Kitty because she has taken it upon herself to shit all over the house. With diarrhea. I took her to the vet at the end of last week and he gave me some medicine for the diarrhea and also a ton of food samples that were grain free. The medicine seems to be helping and I won't change her food until we're done with it, because if I don't need to, I won't. She is actually Wyatt's half sister. Their mother really needs to be spayed.

The bad that happened in that same time . . . well, I will leave for another post. I don't want to end this on a sour note.

What we really love about this place is the peace and quiet. That and we no longer live amongst our customers. Because, trust me, it was not turning out well. We can come home and relax a little. And I'm hoping that Boyfriend will be able to immerse himself in the house and the property and the projects and forget about work for a little while. He already has someone that has asked him to make a bar top.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Facebook Asshatery - Over Cute Dog Pics - Seriously

So, I went onto Facebook and was informed of my "notifications". Four of those notifications were for the water company's Facebook page (it took about 3 months, but we're finally getting a couple of likes). So I went and took a look at these comments from some random person whose name I didn't recognize.

The first one I went to was a post that I put up on Tuesday. I had a picture of Libby and was being a bit silly with the post and in all honesty, who doesn't enjoy a random dog picture? Apparently the woman commenter doesn't. (I'm dog-sitting for my parents this week while they are away for their anniversary).

Photo: Libby's Random Water Fact: There are over 59,000 community public water systems. 
Come on, who doesn't love a cute dog pic once in awhile??

"Libby's Random Water Fact: There are over 59,000 community public water systems."

This woman's comment was, "Dogs Like Water Toooooooo......."

Well, yes, they do. Just like us they need it to survive. I was a bit weirded out by her comment but I moved onto the next. The next post she commented on was from earlier in July when I posted a friendly reminder about a board of director's meeting that night.

"Friendly reminder - our regular monthly Board of Director's Meeting is tonight at 7pm at the Community Center on Blah Street."

Her comment was, "Is everyone invited? Maybe not......"

My response was, "The regular monthly meeting is open to the general public for comments, questions or any concerns; however, business and any voting is done by shareholders. The next meeting is August Blah at 7pm."

Now, prior to the current board/staff, not all board meetings were public. They also weren't always posted publicly. For the record, as a Mutual, we are governed slightly different than a normal water company. I've done some homework. It appears that anyone who wishes to attend a public board meeting is supposed to RSVP. Seriously. They are supposed to call in advance and let us know they plan to attend. Also, we don't have to have public meetings. However, we want our residents to be better informed of what's going on. They all believe they know more about the system, how to deal with the issues, how to replace the 60 year old infrastructure and in what order, yadda yadda yadda. What they fail to realize is that they are part of the problem. In the past 60 years this system has been around, no one has ever invested anything in the infrastructure. Anything that was repaired or replaced was done because they were absolutely forced to - as in, they had no other choice. Here's another picture: For the past 15 years (or more) one of the two river pumps has been broken. They've never replaced it because they had a working one. What they failed to realize is that if that good pump had failed, they wouldn't have been able to deliver water to their customers in the summer. Also? Similar situation with one of the two pumps at the treatment plant - one works well and the other one leaks oil like crazy, so we can't use it. If the good pump failed - again, no water would be delivered to customers in summer. We've replaced both. Well, one of them is at a pump shop, but the one is already replaced and working well.

Anyway, only shareholders are allowed to conduct business at the meetings. But we do open the regular monthly meeting to the general public so they can ask questions, share any concerns they have, or comment on what's going on. And, the agendas for the meetings are now posted one week in advance in 4 locations, plus it is now in the newsletter I started up and began putting in with bills in July. Can't tell me people aren't notified.

 Moving on, the next post she commented on was the one the day after the board meeting. The meeting got a bit out of control.  The meeting had garnered a lot of interest as I had started putting a newsletter in with the bills, we'd made some changes to the rules, and we were enforcing the rules. This had ruffled a lot of feathers. Residents kept interrupting with their questions so that it was difficult to get through the agenda. When we tried to move on, people would shout out, "We have questions!! We should be able to ask questions!!" Seriously. Even when we explained that would get to them at the end where it says, "Public Comment" at the end of the agenda. Then we'd quickly get off topic because one question would lead to another that would lead to another and so on. Even I had to shout to get people to be quiet. Once more than one person starts talking in that room, you can't hear anyone - it echoes horribly. Trying to decipher shit from the recorder was very interesting. Anyway, here's my post:

"We would like to thank everyone that came to the Board Meeting last night. We had an excellent turnout - approximately 25 people (which by the way is a huge turn-out as we usually have zero). While we understand all the topics discussed were "hot items", we would also like to remind everyone that those who come the meetings should always be respectful to everyone at the meetings - Board, Staff and Customers alike. All of us care very much about the Water Company and want only the best for it. Please remember that. We are happy to talk with any of our customers who have questions or concerns about any of the changes or problems with the Water System - but again, please be civil and respectful. Rudeness helps no one."

My reason for such a post was that folks were quite rude that night. I spoke with a couple customers the day after the meeting who were upset by how the meeting was handled - by everyone involved. I told them that yes, it could have been handled better and that I would speak with the board members about some basic rules of conduct for meetings and such and that hopefully, we can all learn from that meeting and move forward. They agreed and we very happy that I took time out of my day to meet with them and hear their concerns.

Her response was, "Civil....Respectful....I think that considering the circumstances a little rudeness may be appropriate here. I live in NC and already am aware of the lawlessness involved in the way you run this company. Go back on disability for heavens sake and give your community a chance!"

My response was, "We are not "lawless" as you claim. We're attempting to make up for things have not been done for 40 years. By getting things accomplished, we are ensuring that we can get grant funding to upgrade an ailing and aging system. We realize that all of us (board and residents) could have handled our last board meeting better. We can only move forward and hopefully become better. None of us are "going back on disability" because we weren't on it to begin with."

It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around this comment because the last bit really makes absolutely no sense. Firstly, I totally understand that the residents at the meeting had every right to be upset. What no one enjoyed was them trying to run the damn meeting, talk over each other, yell at all of us for something that happened two years ago when none of us were employed or on the board at that time, attempt to throw us under the bus for things previous board and staff did or didn't do, or tell us how to do our jobs. Now, not everyone was a "Negative Nelly", we did have supporters in the crowd. But the naysayers were the loudest. Granted, members of the board could have handled things differently . . . or better . . . but like I said, it's something that we can learn from and hopefully improve. The last dig about "go back on disability for heavens sake and give your community a chance!" - that's what is confusing. If we "go back on disability" (which ain't gonna happen), and leave, the company will go under. Without a licensed operator (Boyfriend), the state will more than likely step in and take over and their rates will quadruple at best. The board has told me that more has been accomplished in the 7 months since Boyfriend's been employed than in the history that they know of. They same the same to me about me in the 4 months I've been at the office. But just up and leaving, we risk condemning the company to utter failure and ruin. And we care too fucking much to let that happen. Also, the "lawlessness"? I'm the one that discovered our company had been operating without worker's comp insurance for a year and a half - previous board/staff allowed it to get canceled due to non-payment. I had to haul ass and fix that shit fast. We're covered now, just an FYI.

And my personal favorite. I had posted this on Monday - again, I'm dog-sitting and often when I have the dogs, I will take them to the office with me so they're not stuck at home all day (except for Wednesday, because I had to go to the other water office and I couldn't take them with me, plus I had to run to town for deposits). They make me get up every couple hours to take 5 minutes or so for a quick walk outside, but otherwise, they don't disturb me and prevent me from getting my work done.

Photo: I have office buddies this week! So far, Libby has been a good "alerter" of knocks at the door, but otherwise, they're both kinda sleeping on the job! lol  ;) 
Sleeping on the job. But they're cute.

"I have office buddies this week! So far, Libby has been a good "alerter" of knocks at the door, but otherwise, they're both kinda sleeping on the job! lol "

Her response was, "Hey W (meaning Boyfriend), or your girlfriend or your mother......Is this really what Lewiston CA residents pay you to do? Time to get back to business. Do you not realize or appreciate that your community is in crisis? Ummm...."

My response was, "Office buddies or no, things are getting done - business was not interrupted. If you're curious about the things that have been accomplished, we'd be happy to let you know. You're welcome to email us at or give us a call."

I had warned Boyfriend of backlash from the community for hiring his girlfriend to be the office manager; although, she's not currently in the community. All of us (board, Boyfriend, me) were concerned about nepitism, but overall, it's turned out well. Boyfriend spends very little time in the office, so I'm alone much of the time to work at my pace. I've accomplished a lot in the office, even though some days it feels like I don't. About the mother bit - the office pays my mother mileage once or twice a month tops to come up and help me learn some of the ins and outs of running a water company; it's cheaper than paying her $20/hr. She's an excellent contact being that she worked for a water company for nearly 25 years. She's been a big help!

Now, I did a bit of digging. I didn't recognize the woman's surname, and by her own admission lives in North Carolina. So, unless she's from here and knows folks here, in our service district, she wouldn't know much. So I clicked on her friends list. And there it was - the office gal before me who up and quit in January with absolutely no notice. The same person who couldn't answer anyone's questions without changing the subject or crying or getting angry. The same person who flatly refused to work in the office and keep any kind of business hours. The same person who didn't want the company computer at the office, but instead she wanted to keep it at her house. That's where she's getting her information from. From someone who doesn't see the big picture and hates Boyfriend. From someone who makes shit up and spreads the word (people 'fess up that they've heard it from her).

Now it all makes perfect sense.

But I'm still pissed.

And some days, I just really want to tell folks what I think of them. Some days, it just makes me want to cry.

And then I remember what a PR nightmare that shit would be, so I keep my mouth shut.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Better to be the Shamer, not the Shamee

I have officially shamed three people into deleting their comments or posts that are wholly inaccurate and ignorant rants. Being located in a small rural area, I understand that the rumor mill runs like wild fire. That is still no excuse for not doing your due diligence in getting the facts. Which usually means going straight to the source.

The first was in April, shortly after I started at the water company. Some guy on Facebook tried stirring the pot by saying that the reason our water company has to issue a Boil Advisory is because we're out of water.

Not true - one has nothing to do with the other. Our Boil Advisory is due to the age of our system (60 years) and no longer meets the current California Dept. of Public Health regulations in two ways: 1) Our surface water treatment plant doesn't meet current state regulations regarding how long our water sits at the treatment plant in contact with the disinfectant and 2) the cloudiness of our water; our treatment plant puts out like .5NTU where a modern plant will put out .1NTU (please don't ask me what NTU means because I have no idea lol), and the state's concern is that bacteria can potentially hide in that cloudiness. Therefore a Boil Advisory is issued as required by state law as long as we're using water from the river. Water from our wells does not need to go through the treatment plant, therefore, in winter, we can issue a "stop boil" notice to our customers. This year, the Boil Advisory started in mid-March and we dated it through the end of October. We don't run the river every day, but every two or three days as needed and it would be such a pain the buttocks to issue notices all the time. I'd never get anything else done.

The second and third were just tonight.

On Monday evening, we had what turned out to be a water main break in our little subdivision which is our service area (we only have about 167 connections). We had to turn the main off the entire street for about 16 hours or so. When they built our system 60 years ago, they used an odd size pipe that, today, is difficult to find things like repair clamps that fit our size pipe. I went and notified people twice - the first time to tell them that it was a service line that broke (which we thought at the time) and the water would be off for 3-4 hours, and a second time to tell them the bad news that it was a main that broke and we'd have to run to Redding in the morning to get the special clamps that fit our pipes. When I got into the office this morning, there was a message from KRCR News Channel 7 (at 3am!) saying they were getting reports that the residents were without water. I finally caved and talked with one gal who really wanted to come up and have someone speak on camera. Well, Boyfriend was like "No way!" because he was grubbed out from working on the main. Plus, that's not really his thing. Soooo, I agreed to it. The gal came up, put a microphone on me and sat in front of me with a  scary video camera and asked me maybe a dozen questions about the drought and how it's affecting us. I told her honestly what our situation is and what the worst case scenario is. I showed her around the treatment plant and one of our wells. Well, my parents said they saw the clip on the news (which I am SOOOOOOOOO mortified about being on the local news! ACK!!!) and they said I "looked so cute!!" To which I replied that I probably had food in my teeth and that my bangs were standing straight up. lol

This afternoon I saw a story on KRCR's Facebook page about a water main break in Happy Valley, just a half mile-ish from my parents house. Some gal commented that "the city needs to focus on pipes but instead they build juvenile centers and stuff." I totally paraphrased but that's the gist. I commented on the story with, "The city (I think you mean Redding or Anderson) isn't paying for CCCSD's water main repair. The money comes from the water district itself, from funds they have set aside for upgrades and/or repairs. That money is generated from their customers." This evening, her comment no longer existed.

The third was this evening. Our neighbor (who is also our Operator-in-Training), called us saying that they had just seen a comment on KRCR's Facebook posting of the story - a comment that was plain mean and completely ignorant. The comment read: "Don't believe the lies. They're not even mentioning the 2.9 million dollars they have because they want to spend on themselves. And they're installing meters before they do anything to the pipes or the system. Fishy fishy fishy." Again, I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember everything verbatim. There were also comments like, "they're surrounded by water", "pull it from the river", "they probably don't even have water rights", and "they have two lakes and a river and they're running out of water?"

Oh. It's. On. As for the main comment and I addressed everyone else, too, I wrote a very long comment explaining everything. Firstly, the 2.9 million dollars was awarded to the Community Services District, which is the other water company in town - which is a completely separate company. And when awarded grant funding, it's public funds, which means you have to account for every single dime that's spent - especially because it's typically awarded for a specific project. I also explained that while, yes, we have two lakes and a river - we can only pull a certain amount out of the river - BY LAW. The two lakes/dams are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and are part of the Central Valley Project. We do not draw water from the lakes. You can read my Facebook comment and others here. Or you can read some additional comments on the actual story here.

Within the hour, the dumbass who started it all deleted his comment. HA!! Take that.

Look, I hate being a bitch and I hate writing what I had to write. Literally, my heart was pounding while I wrote my response to that person. It makes me so angry that people just assume they know more about our water company, how it operates, how it should operate and what our situation is. It's entirely possible the person I was responding to lived in the nearest town, Weaverville and has nothing to do with our system. I put it in my response that if they have concerns about our system that they are welcome to come our Board of Director's meetings, which are open to the public, and to refer to our Facebook page, they can email us or give us a call.

There's absolutely no excuse to be so rude and accusatory.

Also? You accuse me, Boyfriend, our staff and/or Board Members of lying - BOOM!! - it's on. I will shame your dumbass for being an asshat. 

I absolutely DO NOT stand for being called a liar and/or a thief.