Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm bitter and I'm venting

Sorry guys, I'm bitter and I have to vent.

After about eight years, I have been replaced in a position that was frustrating, aggravating, nail chewing but one I really enjoyed.  Through that eight years, I spend about three of them as a volunteer.  The position was newsletter editor for the Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory.

My responsibilities were to supposed to be just the editor of the little twelve page newsletter - proofing articles and fitting them into a pre-my tenure format and making sure that "it was pretty." Of course, that morphed into something much more including tail twisting the many contributors to send me articles reasonably on time, writing much copy to fill holes because managers didn't want to do it, writing ads, chasing down illustrations for articles and so on. I worked hard to make it relevant and up-to-date.

My position was taken over by a lady I haven't met but who has been a thorn in my side for a couple of years - she didn't like the way I placed articles, she didn't like some of my illustrations, she just didn't like what I was doing, apparently.  THAT, coupled with the office administrator who didn't particularly like my format either, I guess, provided a death knell to that position. Rarely, did I see a published newsletter in the form that I presented.  Over the past two plus years, I NEVER received a final copy to proof before it was printed for the members and I believe I WAS THE EDITOR! Nor, in the past two years has an issue been published even reasonably on time - because of the above mentioned folks.

The pay for doing this newsletter was a pittance compared to other newsletter editors out there - especially ones who created as much copy as I.  They are supposed to be sending me one issue worth of pay as severance (which I expect they will).  This is a good thing because I was already working on the next issue. I am led to believe that my replacement is going to do this as a volunteer.

This firing (what else can I call it?) was done entirely without my knowledge.  The board/administration had one of my best friends call to tell me that I was being replaced.  I had no input, no way to attempt to salvage the job, no option to counter any criticism that might have been made. In fact, I never heard any criticism at all and I worked with the office administrator closely to correct the things she didn't like. I never had a review, ever - just here's your check, take your hat and good-bye. There was not even a thank you.  I was blind-sided.

This organization is a non profit one. However, they spend an incredible amount of money on absolutely stupid stuff.   As many of you who know me are aware, I contribute hundred of hours a year to the astronomy side of the organization as a volunteer.  The observatory is world class and one of the largest public ones in the United States.  Most of the dollars spent on the observatory side are carefully weighed for the cost benefit of the operation. The other side, the Nature Center, looks little different than it looked nearly 20 years ago when I first became involved and they spend a fortune on help and who knows what else.  A marketing company a couple of years ago suggested the observatory name be changed to separate it from the nature center. This was done ostensibly for marketing but in truth it was done to propel the observatory to the world class stage that it was while letting the Nature Center languish.  In fact, the then manager of the Nature Center chose to not follow their recommendations - those to slightly change their mission to improve it. The current manager is following in his footsteps.

I will continue working with the observatory because it is something I love. My feelings for the administration of the organization and most of the board have never been all that positive but the man who runs the observatory has a vision and the people who work with him share that vision for the most part. That sort of person I easily can work with.  I do a twice monthly blog for the observatory which is published on the website . That will satisfy the writing craving, I suppose.  And I guess the observatory manager will likely ask me to contribute some to the observatory side of the newsletter on occasion. If that happens, I'll definitely insist on a by-line (something I rarely did). 

Several people who are close to me have congratulated me for losing this position.  They have been aware of the trials I have gone through over the years to create this newsletter.  I'm not happy at all but I think as deadlines approach (what deadlines, they ignored those, too),  I'll be happy not to sweat tears trying to chase down relevant stuff to include in the pages. I wish the new editor luck.

So yes, I'm a little bit bitter...mostly for the crap way that this was handled.  Someday, perhaps, the organization will become professional.  Someday.


  1. Don Smith aka 'Wilf Woodhouse'February 10, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    Larry, i'm sorry that you were treated so shabbily by that organization. This was a well written and much deserved vent. Hopefully this will open a door to writing about what you like here on your blog to an audience who appreciates you.

    I'd like to see more here on astronomy and perhaps astro photography.

    1. Thank you, Wilf.. I know you know that writing is way to explore and then cast off emotion. That's what I did. I felt a whole lot better after it was written.

      You definitely will see more astronomy here. If you remember MySpace days I did one a week. Most were pretty well received. The astro photography side of astronomy I'm pretty weak in. I know far more about the gear used than the process but I'll take a stab at it now and then.

      Again, thank you. As I said above, I love the observatory side with a passion and that will be my focus for the organization.


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