6025 (2020 C.E.)
The Noble Grand Humbug with Many Names:
Matthew Ebert, aka “Metric” “Mattress” “El Colchone” “El Futon”
“Metricio E Bertus”
I wrote this to address some questions that have arisen about the various officer positions. It is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it will be helpful.
Estimating food amounts: This is always a tricky part of the job. I have found it useful to look at past year’s events for some guidance. You can do this by looking at the kitchen notebook (if it’s still in use), by talking to last year’s cooks, or by asking the Gold Dust Receiver to look at how much was made from last year’s event and estimating from there. People don’t prepay often, or the checks do not get picked up from the PO Box early enough for those to be used as an indicator. Here’s my best guess of what we did (approximately) in 2019: Demotion Dinner: 25; Candlelight: 80; Doins: 110; NV Day: 45. Ask Roofied Tom for his best guess of these numbers. I’m thinking we will have a busier year this time around.
It is a good idea to make your best guess then go a little bit higher. We are worried about food waste, but we do not want to have brothers coming from far away only to run out of food, and we definitely don’t want to be in a position where we are refunding their rub.
Food storage and maintaining inventory: We had a catastrophic loss of dozens of steaks recently and need to be careful about storing left over food in the refrigerators. The best strategy is to not have any food leftover, but this is rarely possible. The next best strategy is to use leftover food at the next regular meeting by making a chili or casserole. Meat can be frozen, but perishable food like vegetables and bread can’t be stored for more than a couple days. There has been some mention of donating leftover food, and last year I donated leftover donuts from the Doins.
The industrial freezer needs to be serviced in Reno and Gary Mack is looking into making that happen. There are filters for the ventilation fan above the grill that need to be sourced and purchased (1’ x 11’ roughly). Tim is looking into this.
If you are storing food in refrigerators, make sure that there are signs or labels that warn people to not turn off breakers to those fridges. Talk with Robert and ask him to make sure that the temperature in the fridge/freezer is maintained at the appropriate level.
You will need to make sure that we have a regular inventory of spices, especially salt and pepper. It seems that we have been buying too much salad dressing; check out what we have in the kitchen and plan accordingly. The same goes for rags, paper products, and cleaning supplies.
Keeping good notes: This is useful for establishing estimated headcounts, suggesting meals for future RIs, and otherwise. If the notebook is no longer being used in the kitchen, you should get another one and use it.
Organizing receipts and reimbursements: Receipts should be turned in to the Gold Dust Receiver NO LATER than 30 days from the date on the receipt. Really, they should be turned in before the next regular meeting. If you have been advanced money from the Chapter, you may have leftover cash to return if you don’t use all of it, or you may have spent a little more out-of-pocket that you need to be reimbursed for. This should be done promptly! It is helpful to keep receipts for a specific event in their own envelope, and to write the event name on the receipt for reference. It is also nice to keep receipts/reimbursements from meetings and events separate. We want to compare the expenses from year to year so we can learn how to run events more efficiently. I used to tape all receipts to an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with a written list of receipts, total, event name, and date written on the front page. Whatever you do, please do not just hand it all over to the Gold Dust Receiver and expect him to sort it all out for you.
Make sure that the items on the receipts correspond with items actually delivered for use at the hall or one of our events. No freeloading! You already get first dibs for leftovers, so please don’t abuse this responsibility. This should go without saying, but there have been issues in the past, so I’m putting it down for posterity.
Clean-up: If you don’t leave the kitchen clean, other people will assume it is OK to leave a mess in there, as well. If there are not enough people to get it all done, ask the Hangman or another officer to get you some help, or to roll up their sleeves and help out. Since Gary lives in VC, he may be able to facilitate garbage disposal. I think Fred has done a fair amount of this in the past also. Dump fees should be considered a building expense, not a kitchen expense.
• propane is turned off
• downstairs heater is turned off
• fridges are on, working, and set to sufficient levels
• everything is clean
• make notes in the book
• turn off lights last
• I’m sure there’s more. Make your own checklist if you find it helpful.
Events: We provide dinner at both the Candlelight and the June Doins, mandatory. This is always steak, potatoes, beans, and some kind of green side dish (salad or veggies). It doesn’t work to vary from this much. I have found that it is better to do a scalloped potato dish than a whole baked potato.
We have often served spaghetti for lunch to PBCs at the Candlelight, and usually provide spaghetti for PBCs AND red shirts at the Doins. The important thing is to let people know in the promotion what to expect so they can plan accordingly. Lunch at the campout is a good idea to keep people from being completely wasted. I provided donuts for breakfast last year and no one stuck around for that. Another year I made pancakes and bacon and lots of guys ate it. I think it’s safe to skip breakfast for the Doins to avoid wasting money.
The bar has been its own animal lately. The last Musician was on top of things so well I did not have to butt in very much at all (aside from grinding some locks off, which was premised on a chain of poor communications, and at least entertaining). Rob has passed the torch, Jeff has his team, and I’m not terribly concerned about how things will roll. This is one of the jobs that I did not do for the Chapter. I have some observations anyway.
Purchasing: The bar has been purchasing beer, liquor, and other supplies from the cash that comes in from regular meetings and events, then turning in receipts and cash to the Gold Dust Receiver. The bartender then produced a detailed report and turned over cash and receipts to the Gold Dust Receiver. If the new GM and GDR are OK with this arrangement, let it continue. My two cents were that it would be good to keep a standard amount in the till ($200), and also that purchases over $500 MUST be brought up at the meeting. Since bar expenses are not reimbursed by check, they do not show up in the Wells Fargo check register, and this is the primary source for expense information for the Chapter. I want to come up with a way of doing things that can be standardized and passed along to the next brother, and I also don’t want to try to fix anything that isn’t broken. I will keep in touch with the bartender and the Gold Dust Receiver to make sure everything as going as well as it can.
Income: The bar report shows proceeds of roughly $6000 and expenses of roughly $4000, or $2000 net income. This is $2,600 with food. Records show that the bar made (gross) $7,946.87 in 2017 and $3,167.03 in 2018; net: $3,221 in 2017 and $2,280 in 2018. It seems like we could do better. Rob suggested charging more for top shelf beers and being more judicious with our liquor pours. We should also be a bit more conservative with the distribution of wooden nickels. Any other ideas regarding this are welcome. As Rob says, maybe it’s enough that this comes out in the black.
One last note: I like Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and I like Manhattans. Maybe you could get a bottle of sweet vermouth, some bitters, and some maraschino cherries. I also like Anchor Steam beer. C’mon. Humor the Humbug.
Grand Imperturbable Hangman
This, too, is a position I never held with the Chapter. I will make my best possible observations.
The Hangman is essentially the volunteer coordinator. The main responsibility is to run the 601 volunteers at the initiations. I noticed that last year’s Hangman made a schedule to keep himself on track. He was very well prepared and should be a great resource for you if you have any questions. The Hangman is also now responsible for keeping track of the white coats, which were stolen a few years ago. You will need to get water for the PBCs and make sure they get it when necessary. It’s probably a good idea to read over the official ECV guidelines for initiations to know what they expect. You can also help organize work detail at the hall and get folks to help clean up after regular meetings. Maybe you can plan to recognize your volunteers in some way: a special gift or something. Make them huddle before the initiation for a pep talk and orientation. The more that 601s enjoy the experience, the more they will be willing to step up into the Chairs.
I have never learned of a specific procedure to recruit 601s. I just started helping Tim when he was the Recorder and they gave me a white coat at the Doins. The process has been very casual in my experience. All that is required is that he be a member of our Chapter, and willing and able to show up at regular meetings and events to help out. This can be challenging for our Chapter since most Brothers are commuting from Reno. We have started out this year with 5 solid names. Let’s see if we can pick up some more 601s as we go along.
Other than that, I have nothing to add. All the other officers are here to help, and you will recruit your own Damn Fool Doorkeeper at some point to help as well.
Gold Dust Receiver
This is a busy and very important job. People will be coming at you simultaneously and you’ll have to tell them to wait their turn. It is important to take your time and record everything correctly and fully. When you make out a check, always write in the memo space what it is for, even if it seems obvious. If you know that the expense is related to a specific event, make a note of it. Completely fill out the receipt part of the check that stays in the checkbook with the name, amount, and category for each payment.
To provide oversight, every check needs to be signed by two people. Small expenses are not a big issue. Anything over $200.00 should raise an eyebrow. Anything over $500.00 should raise both eyebrows. If you aren’t sure whether an expense is appropriate or notice anything questionable, ask the Humbug or Tim Pearce. You should be aware that the bank does not enforce the 2-signature rule. This is an internal practice and a good way to cover your ass over any particular expense if anyone raises an objection. If you had to sign a check for the water bill by yourself, no one will likely have a problem with it.
Please look over the financial reports from previous years. You can pick up details of how things generally have gone in the past. Notice the categories that things have been sorted into: bar, building, electric, events, fees, food, insurance, Moran Building, plaque, postage, printing, propane, scholarship, water. These general categories help to track specific expenses and compare from year to year, but they are very general. It would be great to know that “food” was purchased for a specific “event,” to know how much we spent on the Doins, for example. Some “events” expenses may be for events generally. A few simple notes in the memo field and the checkbook receipt should be enough to parse these out upon review.
We do not currently have much protocol for making deposits other than getting the money into the bank. I would like to know where the money you deposit has come from. If you would please just make a note when you make a deposit and keep it with the deposit slip (or wrote it on the deposit slip), I would appreciate it. Another way to keep this straight is to make two separate deposits: one from the bar and another from the event, for example. In a perfect world, we would have a deposit report that identified the source of each deposit every time, but if it were that important we’d be doing it already.
The water bill comes to Tim Pearce once a month; he will provide you with the card, and then you will mail a check to them, usually the same amount ($128.59). The power bill is paid automatically by direct deposit, and is the only bill paid this way.
Make sure to let people know that they have to provide you with organized receipts in order to get reimbursed. The Roisterous Iscutis (cook) knows that he should provide you with a total amount and
write notes on receipts saying what it was for: regular kitchen or a specific event. When you are given a bunch of receipts, read them each over to make sure that the things listed are appropriate for the purpose that they are meant for. The bar has been operating a bit more independently. They have been managing their own till, doing their own purchasing, and then presenting the Gold Dust Receiver with net cash profit for deposits. I’m OK with continuing this way as long as they present you with their bar receipts and you look it all over to make sure it makes sense. Check in with the bartender at regular intervals. If you don’t like anything about how things are operating, we can get together and figure out how to make it work for everyone.
Gold Dust Report: At every meeting you will provide a Gold Dust Report including the bank balance (always rounded to the nearest sixty-nine cents by tradition) and any other significant business. Any purchases over $200 should be mentioned, and DEFINITELY any purchases over $500.00. You should report the total amount spent (outgo) and total amount deposited (income) for the period. It would be nice if you produced a printed report with this information, but it isn’t mandatory.
Some other things. A signer on a checking account is not liable for overdrafts or fees even if they were caused by that signer, unless there is a specific contract which provides for such an arrangement. We have “run out” of money in the general fund before, but in that case, we “borrow” money from the Moran Building Fund. Greybeards are the only ones with access to that fund, just like the Hawker fund is separate. The Humbug and Tim Pearce both are watching the bank statement regularly and can help answer any questions that may arise.
Grand Noble Recorder
Minutes: The Recorder takes notes at meetings. These notes are called “minutes.” They do not have to record every single little thing at the meeting. The idea is to capture the most important bits. You do not have to record the dignitaries present, for example, since they should have filled out the big book. You do have to record the names of Brothers who have gone to the Silver Hills. This can be tricky, since people like to pay respects to non-Brothers and even mention the names of people who are sick and not dead. That is how Doug Walling’s name got added last year, and he ain’t dead yet. The Humbug will need the complete list of names from the Silver Hills for the Grand Council meeting in May.
Meetings: The agenda for the meeting is generally: begin the meeting (record time), pledge of allegiance, Silver Hills (record names), (be seated), dignitaries, guests, old minutes (record acceptance), Gold Dust Report (record balance and major expenses), Hawker’s Report (same), History, Old Business, New Business, Adjourn (time). It may be helpful to print out a sheet with these items and fill it in. Whenever someone makes a motion, you should try to record it, and record whether it was seconded and passed. Sometimes people just shout out and nothing comes of it. The Humbug will try to keep decorum to make it easier for you to record necessary information.
After the meeting, you should type up the minutes and submit them to the Humbug. At next year’s Demotion Dinner, you will be expected to hand over a printed packet of minutes from each meeting along with current Silver Hills list and any other relevant correspondence. I was posting the minutes on our Facebook page, but this did not continue last year. Sometimes a nonprofit has to demonstrate that they have had regular meetings, and the minutes are the way to demonstrate that to the authorities.
Events: The next big job for the Recorder is getting the names from new members at events and providing them with their sheepskin and walking papers. The Gold Dust Receiver has one sign-in sheet and the Recorder has the official one with the liability waiver on it. It is sometimes helpful to have two forms to double check information. Make sure that your form is filled out clearly so that you can read it and get them into the mailing list. Read it back to them and make sure the spelling of their name, address, and email address is correct. It is up to you to figure out how to get the names printed on the sheepskins and cards. I liked when Patrick’s wife in town did them in calligraphy. You can just write it on yourself or delegate to someone with clear handwriting. The sheepskins need to be signed by three different dignitaries, including you. Get this done ahead of time if you can. We have a laminator and I was laminating the cards in time to hand those over, too. Both the skin and the card are stamped with our seal, but the skins have a gold sticker for the stamp. You want to get the skins and cards done in time to hand over to the new red shirts by the time they are in line for dinner if not sooner. Otherwise it is a clusterfuck.
After the event, add all the postal addresses to the postal list and the email addresses to the email list. These are different because the printer does the mailing and the bulk email list is done in Mail Chimp. At a minimum, please type all of the information into a spreadsheet. Google sheets or Excel is fine. Each item should be in its own column: first name, last name, address, city, state, zip, phone, email. This needs to be done right away! Otherwise, we are not inviting these new members to our events, and they may have no other way of knowing besides the mail or email they get from us. If you just get the information into a spreadsheet, the Humbug can help you get the lists together when it’s time to do a mailing. The latest, most complete versions of these are on the shared Google drive.
Mailings and Emails: We do a postal mailing for the Candlelight, Doins, and Nevada Day Ball. The Candlelight and Nevada Day Ball have usually been postcards, and the Doins flier is a tri-fold. The Doins flier must contain the list of all the XNG Humbugs, some mention of a plaque, and also it’s good to list events on there, too. The Candlelight card should include a list of all the events for the year. The Nevada Day card is usually all about that event. If you need help designing this, talk to Tim or the Humbug.
I always used a rule of thumb that a mailer should go out 6 weeks before an event, but we have been going a little tighter, more like 4 weeks. The Candlelight card needs to go out no later than Friday, March 6. The Doins flier should go out no later than Friday, May 22, probably sooner. The Nevada Day Ball card should go out no later than Friday, September 25. We have played with the idea of sending the postcards out to only certain addresses instead of the full list, but I think we are better serving our Brothers by getting all of them each event invitation.
Emails have been produced by Metric through Mail Chimp. It allows us to send bulk announcements, to see how many people opened it, and what links they clicked. I was sending these monthly but slowed it down when I went back to school. I’d like to see these go out once a month, but it all depends on how much effort the Recorder is able to put into it. At a minimum, we should be sending an announcement for all of our events. I have shared information with you how to log in to Mail Chimp and shared a folder on Google with lots of art in it. Feel free to ask any questions.
Social Media: JCB has a Facebook page where we promote our events. We can also promote our events on other Chapter’s pages. First create an event on the Julia page then copy and past that link into other pages. I also used the “files” section to post minutes. When you post a file there (PDF is best), it automatically puts a post on the timeline. I allow just about anyone with an ECV connection to be a member of our page.
I look at the page regularly and get notified when someone posts something (seldom). I do not allow people to make disparaging comments about other Brothers on the Facebook page, which means it is not OK to insult people because of their religious, political, or other closely-held views. I’d rather keep it about history, Nevada things, Clamper things, and so forth. At our genesis, our order was invented to be lighthearted in the face of stodgy, grumpy, or self-serious pompous bullshit. Let’s keep it that way.
Website: This is managed by Metric. We can make a page for anything: history, notable events, pictures. I like to create a page for an event to link to in the email. I already have the JUNK trip page set up. Let me know if you want to get involved in this. Someday, I will stop doing it. I don’t know what happens then.
Vice Noble Grand Humbug
This was my job last year. I tried to do my best to support the Humbug and all of the officers. Sometimes this meant grinding off locks when just waiting 10 more minutes would have been enough. Sometimes it meant shutting up and letting others do their thing without interruption. Here are some things that I learned.
Grand Council: I did not realize that I would be expected to do as much as I did at Grand Council. I bribed the Clampatriarch for some reason, my wife and I ran the hospitality suite on the first night, I stood up for the Copper Queen Outpost in front of the Proctors with the Humbug, then I was the Hawker all day for Geno on Sunday to let him go and do other things. Even with all of this, not everyone was happy. So, what else is new. The hospitality suite is a motel near the event location where each Chapter sets up a different libation to share with the carousing dignitaries. Copper Queen had us get vanilla ice cream and liqueur to serve. I set up a Julia banner outside and CQ had their banner, too. The next morning, we waited until CQ was up before the Proctors then stood in support of them as they made their case to become a provisional chapter. I didn’t say anything. Then Sunday, I worked 10 hours at the hawker booth. It was not so bad. I do not know the degree to which this year’s VNGH will be involved in this event. I think Vic did it that way because he didn’t want to handle the traffic.
Kitchen: My main contribution was to fill in after the Cook quit. The assistant was struggling in his duties and it became apparent that our Doins would not succeed without some effort there. I did a bunch of the purchasing, helped prep all the food, got lunch to everyone at the campsite, then once he was set up for dinner, let the Vitrix take care of things from there. I still needed to hang out long enough to take away a bunch of stuff too. It all worked it pretty good, though. I continued to contribute by helping with the mailers and emails. I also continued to do the website. I imagine that I will still do these things.
The best I can say is to use this opportunity to prepare to be the Humbug next year. Since this year’s Humbug (yours truly, Metric) has to commute 8 hours round trip to attend meetings while pursuing graduate studies, be prepared to fill in at a regular meeting in case he gets caught up in traffic or breaks down on the side of the road. We are missing two Damn Fool Doorkeepers: the helper for the Hangman will be found by Rob, the Historian helper has yet to be seen. Help to make sure that the Recorder and GD Receiver are all set for events, check in with the bar every now and then, and maybe take notes. We have 5 solid names for 601s; hopefully they will all show up and you will have some people to plug in as Doorkeepers next year.