2003-04-06 SvsG Emails
12:13 from Nick
|Date:||Sun, 06 Apr 2003 12:13:15 -0400|
|From:||"N. Staddon" <email@example.com>|
|Subject:||icq last night|
This was the only message I received from you this morning:
=== icq ===
|Bubba (9:18 PM) : BK
Bubba (9:23 PM) : Divisions are good in business to keep things straight, I agree and quantifying who is more valuable and who deserves what now after it's been built is a little late to start for us as far as I see it.
=== end ===
So I'll respond to it:
1. Why do you think it's a little late?
2. It has become plain to me that it's necessary, whether or not it's too late. If it's too late, then is there any hope for our continued collaboration? In what sense is it too late?
We started out with the presumption that it (tracking & itemization) wasn't necessary, because we would each pull our eight and thereby keep things going. Many $k later (and I'm not talking about loans to RDA, just what I've pumped into RH) I've finally realized that it simply hasn't been working that way. I've been taking nearly all the responsibility for keeping things going, and you've been giving me grief whenever I try to plug the leaks.
3. Side issue: it's not "who is more important", or even how important we each are. It's not about importance. This is not a contest. It's about preserving the value of sweat equity, not to mention preserving the value of actual cash invested.
And I think I should also respond again to this:
=== icq ===
|Bubba (9:02 PM) : do you really feel you're being reasonable or justifying why I still get no $ out of the deal or if you have your way never will and anything done to this point is yours by proxy?|
=== end ===
Let me be plain. I'm not saying I don't want to work with you anymore; I *am* saying I cannot deal with working with you under the existing arrangement (if you can call it an "arrangement"; it was never very clear to me). I have been trying (for at least a year or 2 now) to rearrange and clarify that arrangement in a way that is mutually satisfactory.
If I was planning to pull the rug out from under you, I would have long ago given up trying to work out compromises because all my attempts thus far have seemed only to get you angry at me. The way forward would have been much smoother for me if I had quietly gone on the way we've been going on, saying "yes Bubba" on cue and then one day just suddenly not being there. I have plenty of more enjoyable, more productive things to do than write emails outlining possible solutions to our mutual problem.
The effort I have put into thinking through our situation and trying to reach a compromise -- rather than just saying "screw it" and bagging out -- seems to be almost entirely unappreciated and gets me very little except grief from you or Lynne. I've been trying very hard to see all sides of the situation; the more I get yelled at (chastized, accused, whatever you want to call it), the harder it is to see the other sides.
I'm not sure what you mean by "by proxy" ("by default", perhaps?), but I do say that you have already been paid any compensation we had already agreed on, i.e. the 80% of sales less cost of stock, by dint of the fact that you borrowed much more than you have earned. This was a really sweet deal for the RDA, because I was letting you borrow money (for merch) interest-free AND paying you for the use of that money (which you borrowed). I've been trying to work out what other compensation you might be entitled to (either cash or percentage points) for your contributions to RH in general, and you're making it very difficult.
And while I'm on a roll, I'll respond to this thread:
=== icq ===
|Bubba (9:06 PM) : the underlying thing that bothers me most is that you keep acting like anything I've done so far has been to play w/some images and that counts for nothing
Bubba (9:07 PM) : sort of like I jumped on an existing wagon and had nothing to do w/building it to begin with.
Bubba (9:10 PM) : ok, the programming thus far has been you and what parts that are intrigal to the store are as a result of me suggesting something that you said was a no until I drew it on the white board and you'd cock your head and say, "Hold on a minute, let me try something"?
woozle (9:10 PM) : is that a question or information?
Bubba (9:11 PM) : had I not crossed the dividing line and ventured into your territory would we have come up w/that piece that led to other pieces, so what % gets assigned to that particular item if it bled into other parts of the program?
=== end ===
You mention two of your contributions to the business here: 1. The image work; 2. The idea-bouncing.
Item 1: I don't know how you got the idea that I'm trying to dismiss the image work as inconsequential when I've actually been saying that I think it was substantial, and in my opinion more valuable than item 2. If you set aside the question of whether I had agreed that the shirts would be a good direction to go in and would be worth the effort (yours and mine), then that was work which unquestionably needed to be done and from which we are still benefitting.
The question of whether I had agreed about the shirts is still a question. Further, we had no terms for how your work was going to be compensated. My somewhat sketchy understanding at the time was that you were willing to do the work if it gave you the opportunity to make a percentage off the sales. Lynne later bridled intensely when I suggested that this was the deal, so I suspect that there was a misunderstanding.
Whatever I might have agreed to, however, is no more than the above -- to whatever extent I agreed with anything. Nothing was ever put down in writing, so it's quite debatable that I agreed to share anything at all; the process was more like gradual scope-creep than what anyone would call an agreement. I thought you were offering to help contact bands and build up the music selection; before I knew it, I had to completely rewrite the store to accomodate t-shirts and art and drop the CDs altogether, and you and Lynne were living in my control room, keeping the food pantry in my practice space, and storing buses all over my yard and blocking my view of the woods. (And you want to take credit for this? But I'm getting ahead of myself; see item 2.)
Perhaps I believed the image work was in exchange for office space and equipment (and internet access, and tech support, and web hosting, and a mailing address) which you badly needed for the (then-new) RDA; a lot of what you and Lynne said at the time sounded like that was a big part of the motivation for getting involved with Red House. I also seem to recall that I asked you, around the beginning of the Wisconsin era when I first got the idea that you were going to be doing a lot of work on the store, to keep track of your hours. The fact that I asked and you declined does *not* make me look bad; it makes it look more like you went in with the full intention of causing the situation we are now in, where you can claim whatever share you want because there's no proof of what was agreed or what we've each contributed.
As I have said before, I am going out of my way to be fair in trying to reconstruct some kind of mutually satisfactory agreement from this scrap-heap of unwritten unclarity. If we can keep cooperating towards a mutual agreement, I will do my best to see that you receive fair compensation, whether we keep working together or not. If you keep fighting me over it, then I would remind you of the scene in The Search for Spock where Kirk offers his opponent a hand up so he won't fall into the lava-filled chasm. At this point, I fully expect I will ultimately be added to the long list of people who have stabbed you in the back, as there doesn't seem to be any way out other than to do exactly what you want -- but I will foolishly keep trying until I have exhausted all the options.
Item 2: Taking credit for prodding me in the "right" direction, when I was the one who actually did the work of figuring out how to make those ideas function and then writing and testing the code (and integrating it into the existing framework of the store, etc. etc.), strikes me as being like the grain of sand taking credit for the pearl. How do you know that on my own I wouldn't have arrived at those same ideas, or perhaps better ones? I'm obviously fully capable of conceiving and implementing them; conversely, I don't think you could have done anything with them yourself.
[ "'But it's mine!' screamed the bird. 'You stole it from me! Get out of my nest, and get out of my tree!'" -- Horton Hatches the Egg ]
(Side issue: how may of those ideas are we still using? Just what ideas are we actually talking about? I think we need to make a list.)
I'm also highly skeptical about the "rightness" of the suggestions you contributed. I didn't want to shoot you down for trying to be helpful at the time, but if you're going to wear those suggestions on your chest like medals and try to use them to impress me with how important your contribution has been, then I have to say waitaminnit. (Like, wouldn't you rather take credit for something useful? Like, say, image work?)
All for now,
12:48 from Nick
|Date:||Sun, 06 Apr 2003 12:48:53 -0400|
|From:||"N. Staddon" <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|At this point, I fully expect I will ultimately be added to the long list of people who have stabbed you in the back, as there doesn't seem to be any way out other than to do exactly what you want|
|At this point, I fully expect I will ultimately be added to your long list of people who have stabbed you in the back, as there doesn't seem to be any way to stay off that list other than to do exactly what you want|
16:11 from Bubba
|Date:||Sun, 06 Apr 2003 15:19:39 -0400|
|Subject:||Re: Some thoughts|
|References:||<email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>|
N., as we agreed - for your 20% [approx 40+% of the net] you agreed to pack/ship & do customer service. The software was 50/50... You, by the way, were the one who said that it was the work of the two of us as a team that made it possible to come up with the product [IE the software] to begin with and that 50/50 was the only way it could go. That is why I had no problem pitching in on the packing and shipping and doing some of the customer service, so that you could bring the software to a point where it could be marketed. At that point, you would resume the tasks you originally agreed to cover for the store while I move forward with the marketing of the software. Though you have filled the time I've saved you with things other than finishing the software, I would probably still be willing to help you with the packing and shipping had you not moved to Durham. I was the one that thought it should still be done from here even after you left so I didn't have to pack partial orders and add to the shipping cost (which cuts into my portion of the profits as it isn't covered in the customer's costs) I'd order, pull, pack and print slips and you could do the cards and customer service which would have been an equitable split by me. The choice to split the operation was yours, against my wishes and a direct contradiction to your commitment to put your all into the business for one solid year after you divorced Livia. It seriously damaged my level of trust in our relationship when I learned that at the time you made that agreement, you had already told Juliet that you were moving to NC along with a time frame. I had to learn about this from Juliet while you had Lynne looking for bigger houses to accommodate the whole operation.
Part of the indignant energy that you feel from me is that it feels beyond presumptuous that you repeatedly attempt to reopen a dialogue about agreements upon which I based my level of participation for the past six years. Despite your assurances to the contrary, your move has changed a lot of things, just as I said it would. It has changed my level of trust in you. It's changed how much I can help you with packing and shipping. It has pretty much eliminated the time we have to work together and has left Lynne and I holding the bag on several fronts. It does not, however, change our original agreement about the split.
P.S. I'm reminded of the comment you made in the living room, "I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't work before I quit working on it" and now it seems sort of like you're saying, "Well, I made it quit working, so now we can re-negotiate our original terms since I've made it impossible to continue as per our original agreement", which seems to equate roughly with the idea of going back on what was originally agreed upon just because it is now inconvenient, while avoiding responsibility for the devastating outcomes -- which apparently further equates to your wanting to itemize individual efforts that can no longer be undertaken because of choices you made that contributed to the stagnation of the joint enterprise (be that family, business, or whatever) in an effort to introduce a reduction in my percentage that would be more reflective of your lack of consideration and regard for me since you decided to change your life to be more suitable to your needs and the rather extensive needs of some of those in your newly chosen surroundings. Those choices are yours... and though I feel they have cost US much... there are some things to which you can't make unilateral changes... our original agreements about the split are among those not up for re-negotiation.
P.P.S. As for me glaring in some sort of a rage while pounding on the keyboard, imagine it as you must, however, I'm merely responding to your thoughts. Of course, I have energy about it, who wouldn't? My commitment is to working through the process, which does not allow for a whole lot of rage. I agree, that we are in somewhat of a "stalemate" but that it is only so difficult because you continually try to begin negotiations with the assumption that you can change the original agreements through a process of justification in which you wish me to participate. I'm not so much "mad" as I am unwilling to participate in this drivel at this time. We'll have to discuss this further. Maybe you could check in with me after the 20th when I'm done with lofts.
19:55 from Bubba
This is a bit confusing because the message looks like it is from Bubba, but it seems to be entirely Nick responding to an earlier email of Bubba's with no further commentary from Bubba. Perhaps Bubba was going to add comments but forgot to?
|Date:||Sun, 06 Apr 2003 19:55:02 -0400|
|To:||"N. Staddon" <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject:||Re: Some thoughts|
|References:||<email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>|
At 07:16 PM 4/6/03 -0400, you wrote:
|I thought you were sending a point-by-point response to my earlier email. This seems to be responding to a very different set of points. They are related to what I was saying, but you have not responded to the points I was making.
Nonetheless, I will respond to your points.
The first part, about the 20%, is a very coarse outline of the terms I offered you verbally circa 1998-9 when the RDA's debt started to mount. The most I remember getting was a vague nod or maybe "uh-huh" from Lynne; certainly nothing in writing and not even a clear verbal signal that I should put the offer in writing so we would have a record of it. Later attempts to put it in writing were met with outrage from Lynne or you.
About the software & 50/50, I don't remember saying that. Perhaps I said something which you interpreted that way. I might have said that *if* we were to proceed with developing the software (i.e. if sufficient funds became available that I could devote sufficient time to make it doable), I would be willing to split the proceeds 50-50 given that you were going to handle the marketing. (See also my response to your next paragraph.)
You make it sound like we had a plan for this. This was never a plan; this is what I would have liked to do, and we discussed doing it as a hypothetical direction we could take, but I was *never* able to drop customer service OR work entirely on the software because: for the first, you never covered CS reliably enough that I could leave it in your hands, and for the second we were constantly having financial crises which required my full attention.
My first reaction is that that's an outrageous claim... but if I ignore the implication that I was supposed to be using all my spare time to work on the software (which, again, was *never* something I said I could do *until* the store was making enough money that I could draw on it for living expenses -- which I have *not* been doing -- and that it would take many months to produce a saleable product), then the remaining claims are:
1. You have saved me time
-- arguable, but what are we talking about specifically? Areas in which you could have saved me time that I can think of are: (a) customer service (b) shipping (c) placing restock orders (d) image processing. In order: a. Nope. Your coverage of CS was always spotty and erratic. b. I spend so much time and energy chasing after you for shipping data that it hasn't been worth it. c. I've automated that to the point where it's just as easy for me to do it. d. You do remember that for every image you process, there's some work required on my end, right? I have to enter catalog data and sometimes rout out bugs which choose that time to rear their ugly heads, plus time rebuilding and uploading the web pages once everything's been entered. So you "save" me time when I don't have to process the images myself, but my time still isn't freed up because I have to do the other end of the process.
2. I have been doing other things besides finishing the software
-- meaning I shouldn't have been doing shipping, CS, and restocking?
Overall: I thought we'd resolved this thing about the software months ago. I never promised to finish it soon, much less on a deadline; I said I would work on it incrementally, as time permitted, but that to really get it going in the near term would require resources we don't currently have. Why do you keep saying I made a promise to develop it?
I don't know why we're suddenly talking about the splitting up of the shipping operations, but here's my response.
You seem to be saying the following:
1. You're no longer willing to help with the packing and shipping since I moved to Durham.
2. Internal shipping costs cut into your portion of the profits.
3. I committed to a year of putting my all into the business for a solid year post-Livia.
4. I broke that promise.
5. Moving to NC was a violation of that promise.
#1 -- this is the first I've heard of this. You were doing shipping and packing up to the point that I pulled Athens inventory from the DB a few weeks ago. Are you saying you were doing this unwillingly?
#2: This depends on whether you're talking about your 80%-less-restocks share or the portion of the business-as-a-whole you could be entitled to (the exact percentage of which is, I thought, one of the issues we were trying to resolve). Under the terms I had in mind, it would not cut into the 80%. Obviously any extra costs would affect your overall portion, but I do not believe they have exceeded $15 to date, over about 4 months of shipping.
#3 -- I don't know if this is true; I do recall stating my *intention* to do something like that. A statement of intention is not a promise, nor do I recall being asked to make it a promise.
#4 is definitely not true. (If I had wanted to neglect the business *and* do better financially, I could have continued working for Juliet.) I have continued to put my "all" into the business, hence all these emails trying to straighten this mess out so it can stop being a headache.
#5: How? I didn't see how I could continue to operate the business given the conditions in Athens. The fact that you did not and do not see this shows how little attention you were/are paying to the financial necessities of running a business.
I told her that it was a *possibility* that I was thinking about, which was true. She was paying for my work, hence I felt obligated to give her a heads-up in case there might be a need to replace me. You were not paying for my work (you were, in fact, borrowing large sums from me without my consent), nor did our work together depend on my physical presence -- hence I did not feel the need to give you as much advance notice of what was at that time still hypothetical.
Further, you made it very difficult for me to talk about such things with you; I'm sure I mentioned at some point that the situation in Athens was becoming increasingly impossible for me, but every time I tried to discuss it with you there was so much resistance to the idea of moving that I couldn't make any headway communicating.
I have suggested repeatedly that we have communications problems. You pooh-pooh this suggestion every time I bring it up. I would say this is just a case in point.
From what I remember, looking for houses was earlier -- and it was Lynne's idea. (My idea was to put stuff in storage and get an apartment.)
If there was any house-hunting going on at the time I was moving to NC, and a suitable house had been found, I might have moved there instead *if* we could have found a way to ensure that it was affordable.
I also seem to recall that the situation became abruptly more untenable for me around this time due to various actions of Lynne's; I would have to dig through my records to be more specific. (I think that her yelling at me about not moving out of RH on her schedule, regardless of prior agreements with you, might have been one of them; that encounter definitely exceeded my boundaries.)
Show me the agreements we made. I've been asking you to tell me what they were for almost as long as you now claim they've been in effect.
You should never base six years of participation upon vagueness.
Yes, you are right, it has. It has meant that I can reliably keep money in the RH accounts. It has meant that I can afford to eat on a regular basis. It has meant that I can be sure I have enough gas to get to the post office. It has meant that I can buy envelopes and other shipping supplies when needed. I don't think that's what you meant, though.
Not that I've really noticed. You used to sort the incoming shipments, but I've worked out ways to automate parts of that so that it takes one person less time than it used to take two people; also we now track what is ordered from suppliers versus what they actually send. Overall this end of operations has improved significantly from when we were doing it together.
You're pouring on the guilt, and I'm not buying it. For every bag you claim to be holding, I have several. Futher, there were NO agreements. There were informal terms I offered you which were never formally accepted, so I was never sure if they were in effect. I have been trying to be ethical in maintaining those terms, despite their vagueness and your lack of any appreciation for my attempts to maintain them in the face of adversity.
Do I have to go through my records and list all the things which caused it not to work? The business continues to function. What has failed is our attempt to work together without clear delineations. Your shit got in the way, Bubba, and I got out of its way and am now calling you on it.
Show me what we agreed on.
Wow, you love to cram implications and presumptions in so fast nobody can catch 'em, don't you. Ok, I broke apart the last two bunches; it's your turn.
Which "us" are you talking about? Me & you, or you & Lynne?
And how do you intend to monitor or enforce them if you can't even say what they are? (Your opening paragraph is insufficiently specific. If you like, I can try make a list of questions it doesn't answer.)
Again the presumption that there were agreements. I have been campaigning for agreements for many years now; it is surreally bizarre that you are now holding me to agreements which never happened because you declined to be involved in making any.
Whenever. That's the great thing about email; you can deal with it when you have time. Talk to you then...
19:55 from Nick
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" was a forwarding address which sent email to Bubba, Lynne, and Nick (possibly Sandy also)
|Date:||Sun, 06 Apr 2003 19:55:32 -0400|
|From:||"N. Staddon" <email@example.com>|
At this point I'm not sure I'll be able to get my stuff out of trailer #3 by the time your final deadline comes around (this coming weekend), so I'm wondering when I would need to get you (or the rental company) the $150 to hold it for next month.
Just let me know, or correct me if I've misunderstood the situation.