Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Wanna be a Philanthropist or Venture Capitalist

This really should just be a Facebook post but Facebook makes me neglect my blog so this is just evening things out.

i think I'd be good at figuring out who to give significant portions of money to, but I don't know how to train for such a career.  And I lack the essential large pile of money.  I have fun with my itty bitty pile at the end of the year enough to be harrassed by the recipents the rest of the year, but it's just not the same.

I think I should practice saying No as that's an essential VC skill.  We have and depend on caller ID to ignore the robot callers, but if I would just pick up the phone and politely say to the poor minimum wage slave that is answering the rare call pickups that "I'm sorry, we don't accept sales calls." and "Our donation program period is at the end of the year, and no it doesn't matter what your agenda or campaign is."  (The obvious exceptions would be around election time but we'll skip that.)

It takes effort to give money, and surprisingly little effort to say no.  It's completely maddening that charities will turn right around the second you give them money and ask for more.  It's hard not to take it personally, but they are operating on their own schedules and you have to realize that you don't have to dance to the same beat.

But back to my silly ambition.  It would be really cool to be in a position to really make a difference by investing $$$ in new research or new infrastructure, or just keep my favorite artists collective afloat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Judgment Day - Another Jonestown?

The fervor that Harold Camping has stirred up about his current prediction of May 21 being a day that at around 6pm there will be a massive Earthquake felt around the world (never mind that's not how earthquakes work - duh) and that the usual Christian cataclysmic events will occur, has me concerned.  Dynamic leaders know they carry a lot of sway but there are some ways that they seem unable to see..

Mr. Camping (who is 89 according to here) says he is 100% sure that "judgment day" (lower case intentional) will be May 21, 2011.  What he seems to lack is a plan B that he claims there is no need for and he desperately needs one.  Given that he is 89 and he group doesn't quite count as a cult (Dynamic Leader - check, Us and Them - check, Cloistered membership - nope.) I don't quite seem him pulling off a mass suicide like in Jonestown especially since Christians are taught to be passive and wait, but I don't think he realizes that the disappointment and outright anguish that his followers are going to experience.  I worry that those who truly feel abandoned are going to feel suicidal and I worry that there is a definite risk of several of them jumping off of the cliff that they're likely out waiting on.

Several of us happy heathens have been having a good time about this but there is a serious side to it. 
If you know someone who has bought into this, please check in with them.  They will not be happy campers on May 22.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Judgement Day people need FUD lessons

I was serious Christian from when I was 16 to until I was 20.

When I was even younger, I figured out that Jesus would come back in 1983.  Even at the time I honestly didn't believe it then and now most certainly don't since I'm no longer a Christian (I'm much more a Gnostic and the rest of Christianity wiped them out so I rather enjoy holding a grudge).  To help myself extract myself from Christianity, I took a fair bit of Christian history in college and it helped me a lot with perspective.  Anyway my point is doing these calculations are not hard as there are a lot of what appears to be hard numbers in the Bible.

So now we have Judgement Day prediction du mois which is set for May 21.

This end times thing is absolutely nothing new.  The early Christians thought Jesus was coming back very soon (like within their lifetimes, and that feeling is often stoked from time to time.

Reading this fantastic NPR article here:
It's clear that what Mr Camping needs is FUD lessons (Fear, Uncertainly, Doubt).  The strongest fears are vague and for heavens (sorry) sake don't put a date on it, you're just going to look like the moron that you really are.

And what I can't figure out is it they people are literalists then they really have their order all wrong.

I still have a New International Version of the Bible (a very geeky bible)

The order laid out in Revelation indicates that the current wackos are just off the scale.

There isn't a rapture in Revelation by the way.  In fact the word isn't in the Bible though this reference points out the various places the concept may be referred to in the Bible:

- Christ reappears in Rev 19:11 if you believe that "Faithful and Truth" is Jesus
- lots of B Movie bloodshed ensues
- then 1000 years passes (Where is this in their calculations?)
- at the end of that then Satan is unbound
- then you finally get your Judgment Day

Do you know how much I'm looking forward to doing a: "Happy Judgement Day, All sinners present and accounted for?" Status update?  And of course there will be: "Happy Day After Judgment Day."   A friends wants to see if she can talk one of them out of the nice car that they're driving.  I look forward to see if she succeeded.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Place

My father very recently passed away, which albeit expected doesn't make it any easier.

He wished to be cremated and my family has asked that some of his ashes be taken to the Sierras and I'm the only one able to make the trip.  My father loved the Sierra's.  He was a Boy Scout leader and took my brother's troop on trips there and later started taking my sister and brother and a family friend, then finally after a whole bunch of whining and prodding, I was included - first to the San Gabriel Mountains and then a couple trips to the Sierra's. 

Honestly, no one cares where I take the ashes including my Dad (perhaps especially him).  I could drive to the Sierra's, stop by a nice trailhead and dump them off, but of course the original inspiration for the suggestion was from the trips that he often talked about. But this isn't about him, it's about what I can live with for the rest of my life and the "where" really matters to me.  It mattered when I was distributing some of my dog's ashes and it really matters with my Dad's. It's a way of closure and the more effort I put into the process, the more at peace I will be.

But we are talking about the Sierra's here which is not always the most straightforward of destinations.  At first it was going to be really easy.  I have a Whitney trip coming up in July and I can easily take the ashes with me (it will only be some of the ashes so it won't be a huge deal bringing them.)  No problem right?

Leave it to me to over-think things.  Dad never climbed or even tried to climb Mt. Whitney even though a neighbor of ours did several times.  It was just never his thing I get the impression.  He went into the mountains to get away and the Mt. Whitney Main Trail is not the place to get away from people.  Ironically I don't mind people, I go into the mountains for the challenge and beauty of them and the people there usually don't bother me and are often welcome company.  In fact, if I'm hiking by myself having people around is a safety net of sorts - it's why Terri is ok with me going to Mt. Shasta by myself as you're never really completely by yourself.

But back to the issue at hand - making a simple task complicated.  So I'm thinking that Mt. Whitney may not be the ideal place.  My Dad was always looking for nice lakes to camp near.  Unlike me, he wasn't necessarily a climber.  He was much more into finding a nice spot to decompress.

So I'm thinking what lake?  Well there's no shortage of really nice lakes, but it has to be one with meaning.  The place that Dad spoke of over and over again was going over Kearsarge Pass (11,750') and then down into that area which has some lovely lakes like Bullfrog and Charlote Lakes.  Those would be just fine, but the trip that he talked about over and over again is the one didn't start at Kearsarge but from the West side via Bubb's Creek.  It was the time where he took us up a climber's trail (not a regularly maintained trail) into Gardiner Basin.  What made the trip memorable was not only the scenery, but his willingness to let me talk him into taking a "shortcut" up a mountain side.  We did not get all the way up and wound up spending the night on it.  In fairness, he did check this plan out with a ranger and the ranger thought it might be fun.  It was mostly a lesson for me in just how big mountains can be especially when you're 15 years old.

Here's the basic layout.  The actual trail is in pink and my shortcut is in red.  The plan was to get from Bubb's Creek to Charlotte Lake over night there and then go up into Gardiner Basin to the North.  We never made it that far and that's where we got to sleep with the Manzanitas.

Then the next day we hiked up into Gardiner Basin which should have been hard and was, but was nothing compared to yesterday's misadventure, and that's where we landed for a couple of days.  Just fishing and messing around the lakes.  I wasn't a climber then so it's didn't occur to me to climb Mt Gardiner or Mt Cotter.  It sure would have now.

So the choice that immediately occurred to me was somewhere in Gardiner Basin, but I haven't been over there since and if I go into that area I likely would like to go see something else, so I vacillate.  What makes me hesitate is that it's two day trip and there are some gorgeous places that we (Terri will come along) will pass up to do it.

I think one solution I have for the moment is to go in via Kearsarge on the East side and camp at Charlotte Lake (if it's allowed, it's a popular place).  Then just climb over to Gardiner as a day trip and come back and then if we wish, we can go somewhere else like Rae Lakes or 60 Lake Basin since I've seen neither place.  But all this rigmarole seems a little silly as simply going to the gorgeous places would be more than fine.  And so I dither.  Fortunately unlike a Whitney trip I have some time to make up my mind.

My sister found some photos of a Kearsarge trip we took and that trip started in the Onion Valley.  Fortunately the Onion Valley is out of Independence which is just north of Lone Pine where Terri and I were going anyway.  So we wound up driving up to the Kearsarge pass trail head and walking 1/3 of a mile up the trail till we found this gorgeous spot similar to the photo which was just perfect and it didn't take a day of trekking to get there either.