HOA’s prove that apathy can make you miserable

Given that we’re currently showing our house, it’s probably not the best time to write about our Home Owners Association. However the issues I experience with my HOA are simply an example of the problem with the institution of HOA’s as a whole.

As you know, we’re selling our house, and like most sellers we put up a sign in the grass next to the sidewalk and our front steps on Friday.  Apparently it took all of three days before we got a letter in the mail from the HOA management, informing us that our “For Sale” sign is three feet out too far and cannot be in the grass.  For the grave offense I may be fined for causing all of this trouble, unless I go through the pain-staking process of moving this sign the three feet it will take to restore balance in the universe.

Yes, I guess we technically broke the rules, but the worst part about this is that rather than our neighbor actually being neighborly and saying something to us, they go to the trouble of tattling to the HOA management company that has to get someone to draft the letter, buy a stamp and mail the letter us.  This typical “hall monitor” stuff is gutless.

While this is the first time we’ve been held in contempt, this is not the first time I’ve been infuriated by the actions of our dear leaders in the HOA board.  We have a swimming pool in our neighborhood, and last summer the dear board decided to cut the funding for having a lifeguard, and instead divert that money to getting a card-access security system for the gates.  The problem there: the system didn’t work for most of the summer, and the times you were there, people just left the gate open anyway.  So much for security.  When it became apparent these state-of-the-art measures weren’t working, the HOA board decided to then increase the height of the gates – but guess what – we’ll put some cool looking sculptures at the top of these fence posts.

The problem is that these examples aren’t isolated to our own HOA, and I’m sure many of you have dealt with some form of absurdity.  Virtually every HOA has asinine rules and ridiculous decisions.  Unfortunately there is only one person to blame for the irrelevance of the HOA: me.

My problem: I don’t care. I don’t go to any of the meetings, I proxy my vote on issues.  My apathy stems from my schedule and priorities – I simply have too much going on to help decide what kind of shrubbery people should put in their yard.  I think My apathy has given way for two kinds of people – people who have a specific agenda (or special interests), or people who simply have too much time on their hands and want to feel important – rise to leadership positions.  Since the majority of people can’t be bothered to attend the meetings, these crazy policies get passed with little opposition.

In thinking about HOA struggles, it helps me explain why we end up scratching our heads about governing bodies like Congress.  The collective masses are too apathetic to be involved in monitoring the day-to-day operations, and it takes something as crazy as SOPA & PIPA to wake the sleeping giant.  Given the amount of expense and grief we give candidates, no reasonably-minded person wants to go through that experience, once again giving way to special interests and people with a sense of self-importance.

The moral of the story: as mundane as it may be, we need more people with common sense to step up and play a role in decisions that impact everyone – otherwise you may find yourself 3 feet inside “crazy”.

Ruining the community with your self-promotion

spam

That said, musicians are as much as a sub-community as any group out there.   Good musicians realize pretty quickly that you’re not competing against other bands and musicians, as much as you’re competing against the other ways people find entertainment.  I’m always eager to connect with musicians and exchange ideas, as well as lean on each other so that we all may succeed.  In any profession, “Networking” can be extremely valuable when done right, but many times can deteriorate into a cheap sales job.

With that, I was excited to be added to a “Local Musicians of Denver” group on Facebook, joining hundreds of other musicians in building local community, exchanging ideas and finding different ways to support each other.  For the most part, many of the people are there to do just that.  After the joining the group however, you’ll quickly see that a significant portion are there to only contribute their cheap sales tactics.

Exhibit A:

SelfPromo1

This guy went to all the trouble it took to click “Paste” and put his link up for all to see. No introduction, no context, not even a call to action. Just a spammy link.  Thanks for your contribution to the community.  The least you could have done was at least ask “Let me know what you think.” Better yet, ask point out something specific in the video that you’d like feedback on.

Exhibit B (which was right below Exhibit A):

SelfPromo2

You did the exact same thing as Exhibit A did, the only thing is that Facebook massaged the Event Link so that you don’t look like a total spammer.

Look, I understand you need to promote your shows. I also realize that musicians often are interested in other bands and musicians and want to scratch another band’s back with some support.  At the same time, this guy has given no indication why you as a member of the musicians community should go see this show.  At least say something like “This is a really big show for us and we’d love your support”, or “We want to show the Denver Art Society that musicians can represent.”  Please, just give any kind of invitation, even if it’s just a personalized message.  Instead you’re no better than Exhibit A.

 

While the first two examples show how people are spamming the community, there is a grey area that if done correctly – can at least give the appearance of active participation:

 SelfPromo3

To me this successfully walks the thin line of shameless self-promotion and community participation.  Why – because you’re giving the community something, also the personal invitation helps.

 

Finally there is the other side of the coin: getting wisdom from this community to better yourself.  Some examples:

SelfPromo4

SelfPromo5

Notice the biggest difference between these last two from the first three? They actually have comments!  Now you’ve established a connection with other musicians, which you can cultivate into a relationship that will be beneficial to the both of you.

 

The moral of the story: There is a time and place for Shameless Self-Promotion. If you’re going to use your “networking” time to do it, then be prepared to walk a fine line – better yet, put away the two thumbs that point at yourself.

We’re selling the farm! [Announcements]

This has been several weeks in the making, but we finally took the plunge and decided to sell our house!

RockCreek-2832Entrance

Our Rock Creek home has been an awesome place to live for the past four years.  For a couple starting out, this home provided the perfect amount of space, is located in a beautiful neighborhood that is full of life, and is a short walk away from the Front Range Village shopping center.  We definitely loved living here.  There last few weeks getting it ready to list have been pretty busy. You don’t realize just how much extra stuff you have until you try to de-clutter from it.  If you’d like to see the results of our effort, you can check out the pictures at our listing.

We’re now looking for a single-family home that’s a little more in between of our two jobs, as well as something that will host a few chapters of our lives.  We’re anxious to see where these next few weeks and months will take us and are excited for the opportunities.

40,000 Scrobbles & Counting

Note: This is a follow-up post to a follow-up post, when I Scrobbled 29,000 songs back in May of 2010.

Back in December of 2006, I heard of this site known as Last.FM that tracked the music you listen to and offered recommendations based on those stats. While I rarely take advantage of the radio stations and streaming, I am fascinated by the data my “Scrobbles” bring.  Two years ago I jumped the gun and eagerly published my list before I reached 30,000 songs, so after patiently waiting for 40,000 I am eager to see how much musical tastes have changed over the last two years and 11,000 songs.

Dropped Off the Last List:

  • Gym Class Heroes (363 Plays, Previously Ranked #10).  This dropped all the way to #13.

#10: Pearl Jam (402 Plays, Previously not on the list). When the Pearl Jam Twenty documentary came out last fall, I binged on their music for a month straight. If I were to put together a Mt. Rushmore of albums of my teenage years, Ten would have to be on there. Top Album: rearviewmirror (greatest hits 1991-2003) Top Songs: Daughter, Given To Fly, Even Flow.

#9: OutKast (476 Plays, Previously at 7).  Andre 3000 is one of those renaissance men who seems to do anything besides what he does best.  OutKast has fallen down on my list simply because they haven’t produced anything relevant in nearly 6 years.  Top Album: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Top Songs: Ms. Jackson, Rosa Parks, Hey Ya!

#8: Jimmy Eat World (502 Plays, Previously at 6). Not much to say here, except that this is a solid band that I still want to see live some day. Top Album: Chase This Light Top Songs: Here It Goes, Open Bar Reception, A Praise Chorus

#7: John Butler Trio (562 Plays, Previously at 9).  I think these guys haven’t even peaked when it comes to their music, each album gets better and better. Top Album: Grand National Top Songs: Daniella, One Way Road, Used To Get High

#6: O.A.R. (565 Plays, Previously at 8).  Another band on my “Need to see Live” list, their newest album King, is really good. Top Album: All Sides Top Songs: Right on Time, War Song, This Town.

#5: Red Hot Chili Peppers (594 Plays, Previously at #3).  RCHP was a band that I definitely missed these last few years, and am glad that they’re back with I’m With You, but these guys need to get their stuff together and get on Rdio, which is how I’m consuming 90% of my music today. Top Album: Stadium Arcadium Top Songs: Under the Bridge, Soul to Squeeze, Dani California.

#4: Five For Fighting (613 Plays, Previously at #5). John Ondrasik has got to be the classist musician out there. Top Album: Slice Top Songs: The Riddle, 100 Years, Slice.

#3: Michael Franti & Spearhead (728 Plays, Previously at #4).  When I last wrote about them, I was hoping that their next album would be like their earlier stuff. Sound of Sunshine is as good as you can get, producing one of my favorite songs in Hey Hey HeyTop Album: Stay Human Top Songs: One Step Closer To You, Hey Hey Hey, People in tha Middle.

#2: Muse (842 Plays, Previously at #2). Whether it’s working out, coding or having a party, Muse is a great soundtrack to life. Top Album: Origin of Symmetry Top Songs: New Born, Hyper Music, Time Is Running Out

#1: Dave Matthews Band (2011 Plays, Previously at #1). 2012 looks like to be a big year for them, with an album supposedly coming out sometime before December. Now if they would just come back to Denver… Top Album: Big Whiskey and the Googrux King Top Songs: Two Step, #41, Crash Into Me

Thanks for indulging me in the vanity of looking at my listening habits.  If you’d like to check out some of my statistically favorite songs, I’ve created an Rdio playlist.