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July 30, 2003

Time to book it out of lazyville.

In stark contrast to my last entry, I've decided to really get the process of selling Sarahpeutics started. By selling I mean finding a publisher who wants to take over the whole deal. Sarah and I had talked about this before, even decided it was time. I blame myself for putting it off. Well, it can't be put off forever, or the book will be too out of date. I wasn't sure how to approach it before, but now, after researching, I've decided to write a real book proposal for it and shop it around to publishers. I just bought some books off Amazon on how to write proposals and I've been reading helpful websites on the topic. Given how many we've sold with no PR or advertising, it seems like a no brainer for a publisher to pick it up. They'll sell it for twice what we've been and print it for less than half what it costs us. But, as always, I'm cynical. Its something I'm going to commit to doing in short order, but I'm not holding my breath on success. Success in business doesn't make sense. Why it works or doesn't is usually a set of coincidences and occurrences that are far beyond your control. Cynical indeed. But I'll give it my best go. I've got nothing to lose but my time, which isn't worth much to begin with. :) I'll post the proposal when I get it in some state worth posting.

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Oh Rusty. What happened... Lets get this idea straight.

In a prior blog entry, [Of all the financial wizards, it was Rusty that figured it out ], I introduced my genius friend Rusty. Rusty, in many ways, appeared to be on the same journey I'm on, only further along. He had so few responsibilities, financial or otherwise. Just enough to keep him going and having fun. I hadn't seen him in a while, but ran in to him today at the PO. He told me he bought a van. I was shocked! Think of the implications. I expressed my disappointment. Especially now, at this junction, when I'm pondering the legitimacy of my crusade. To his defense. The van cost 2K and he paid for it in cash. So his only added responsibility is insurance, gas and upkeep. And it is a 4WD van, which certainly lets him keep a few points.

I refuse to give up hope!.
I've started a personal journal, outside my blog where I can write things I wouldn't want people to read. I think I want to add to my mission the merging of the blogger Adam with the journal Adam. This seems like a lofty goal to me, but I've never been one to refuse a challenge just because it was difficult. So here's where I'm at so far in my definition of this mission. 1. Follow a path of idealism, 2. Reduce or eliminate the number of meaningless responsibilities, 3. Take opportunities as they come and, 4. Trust things will work out if you let them and don't worry about them, 5. Merge public and private self.

In many ways 4 is the clincher. Its #4 that prevents or hinders me from following through with the other items. #4 is #1. I'm not sure if I've managed to define or convey the meaning of what I'm doing yet, so I'll still work on it. There's also some bit about sanity and its lack of importance by popular definition that I've yet to come to terms with, but I've got time.

Posted by wonko at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On Government: Mammoth Lakes vs. Santa Monica

Santa Monica is very much a community town, even though it has a population density of over 10,000 people per square mile. Santa Monica has astounding diversity, cultural, social, and socioeconomic. Almost all of the government officials are elected and almost all of them feel a responsibility to engage their constituents and act on behalf of the people. SM government officials are not all affluent. Many are just townspeople who decided to get involved.
Further north, in Mammoth, we have a very different situation. Few of our officials are elected. Even our mayor (who's currently in Hawaii), is chosen by a board, instead of voted for by the people. All of our government officials are affluent, which becomes apparent in their decisions. When Intrawest came in, our affluent, home owning officials bent over backwards to please them and watch their home values skyrocket. As the town flourishes, our local school system suffers from state budget cuts due to soon to be recalled Grey Davis. Decisions are made which VERY negatively affect local businesses, but help 'the town' (ie. Intrawest). Local business are not even consulted when large 'works' projects are decided on that cut their revenue to almost nothing.

This dichotomy wasn't apparent to me until I was reading the Santa Monica Mirror just after reading our Mammoth local news. I realized that our government is much more like Santa Barbara where the wealthy make all the decisions which are mostly geared towards maintaining or improving the benefits of being wealthy to begin with.

People keep telling me I'm arguing a losing battle. Actually, they more hint towards the fact that those wealthy have every right to be where they are. We live in a free country and the story of the wealthy is really the story of America. God bless America and her Red, White, Blue and, less we forget, green. All of those wealthy people fought tooth and nail to get where they are, struggling with the rest of us. The most insulting insinuation is that the reason WE aren't as wealthy as they are is because we didn't work as hard. Well, I can't let it go. What I can't get through peoples heads is that the issue ISN'T the fact that one man has more money. Its the system that promotes selfishness and self promotion at the expense of others. Money is inanimate. It can't argue one way or another. People decide how to use the freedoms they are given. An old friend of mine used to say, "Character is what you do when no one else is around." I'd also like to add that, "Character is what you do with more money than you can use." The idea that money corrupts is tautalistically false. Money can't DO anything on its own.

People ARE corrupt, money is just an outlet for that corruption.

Posted by wonko at 04:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 29, 2003

Venice on my mind.

It was a great weekend. Derek and I ended up taking a road trip down to LA, visiting friends and old familiar places. We spent a good deal of time in Venice and Santa Monica on the Promenade. Some things change, while others do not. Really, things just change at different rates, but everything changes.

The things that haven't changed in so long intrigue me. Venice is such a wild place where so many things, including people, do not change. They must change eventually, or maybe it all is constantly changing, just at a much slower rate. On a given Saturday you can see many of the SAME people and SAME shops that people have been seeing for over 20 years. No where is this more apparent than the drum circle. It was particularly large this Saturday as it had been a beautifully warm day. The same people have been participating in the drum circle for decades. Its just something they do. New people come and go, but its always there, and there's always a contingent of old-timers. There is such a diversity of people who participate as well. Some look like Nam vets, while others look like old school hippies. Others still have an eastern flare, while the younger ones range from people look like punks, metal heads, latino gangsters, hippies, and businessmen. But they're all participating in their own way. The dancers also interest me. Doing something in front of people seems like a public act by definition. But in the drum circle it can be private, in spite of people watching. People just do their own thing regardless of what others think. And it is this confidence that stops lurkers from criticizing them. For, even if what a dancer is doing looks particularly silly, the lurker knows he/she would never have the courage to go up there in the first place. People are fascinating.

I feel very at home in Santa Monica and Venice. Even with all the freaks, I feel somehow safe and comfortable there. Going back to a place with so many memories always does strange things to people. In many ways it presents a mirror of ourselves where we can compare who we were at the time to who we are now. I used to get nostalgic in a semi depressing sort of way when visiting significant places like that. Remembering how good things used to be and wondering why it wasn't that good anymore. I don't do that anymore. Now I can enjoy the pleasure of the memories without the doubt. I've always got NEW good memories and I will have many new happy ones in the future. I also realize that I am a lot more confident than I used to be. Just in general. I feel older and wiser, but not old. In some ways this wisdom has lead me to feel comfortable taking MORE risks, not less as I had imagined. I'm sure this has something to do with my added confidence.

It was really good to see some old friends. I got to see Matt, Richard, Al, big Greg, Cat and my brother David. In many ways going back to LA and seeing those friends, it was as if I'd never left. I love where I live now and the opportunities it affords me, but I do miss those people and places.

I'm 27 now and curious how long I can take this experiment. Thus far my life has been everything BUT traditional, from my schooling, to my professional life to my marriage which continues to defy cultural mores. Sometimes I am riddled with doubt as to whether this experiment will work at all. I know I'm not the first to try it, though I am trying to take a balanced approach to it. I see a lot of 40 and 50 year old ex-hippie burnouts who tried to live with idealism as their #1 ideal (so to speak) and I know I don't want to end up like that. But at the same time I see other 40-50 yr old idealists who are still busy and happy. Maybe I'll try and figure out the differences between them. Of course, I've never really formalized what the experiment is, so maybe I should do that first. It has something to do with idealism, meaning, taking as many opportunities as one can, and EXPECTING things will work out if you don't worry about them and just let them run their course. This last weekend is a perfect example. It was so last minute, but it couldn't have gone better if it was planned.

Nuf' rambling.

Posted by wonko at 12:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

Off again...

Derek and I are leaving tonight and coming back Monday night. We're off to explore and have adventures before Derek ties the knot and his life ends. Wait a minute, I don't actually believe that. I think I'll have lots to write about when I get back because I've been thinking a lot about the future and such. Maybe I'll get a chance to add an update while I'm away.

Wish me luck!

Posted by wonko at 12:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 23, 2003

Thunder and Lightening

Finally, some weather. Last week I was in Tuolumne on Friday and Saturday. Both days it poured on us in the afternoon with a spectacle of thunder and lightening. Yesterday evening I heard LOUD thunder as I worked on this Kittredge computer stuff. I immediately would out for a bike ride and was caught in a downpour. The sound of the thunder was deafening and made me jump a couple times. I got drenched, but thoroughly enjoyed the weather. I came home and had a strange night last night. Lots of strange thoughts about the past, present and future. Even a premonition or two.

The thunder has returned today with brilliant lightening. It hasn't really started raining yet, but it will. I'm listening to band #1 pondering the thoughts of the night before. I am trying to break them down into sizable chunks. Simple questions. The hard part is knowing we (all of us) learn basically by analogy and example. In this way, it is hard for us to discern what should be done vs. what feels like it should be done because everyone else says it. How much of what people do can be attributed to blind faith that they SHOULD be doing what everyone else is trying to do? A lot of it just doesn't make sense. It almost seems like you need to be fully dedicated to the system, or not at all.

A lot of these thoughts come back to another paradox I've been pondering. Looking back over the last couple years it seems as though there are things that just work out only if you let them and do not worry about them. This is so against my nature though, to let things be without planning or worrying. But I cannot deny this observation. I've observed it in other people too. Those that didn't worry and let things happen tended to fair well. But its always a struggle not to take to heart what the world is telling you about how you have to be going forward in this way or that. So that even those worry-free friends I have seem to get pangs of guilt now and then which throws a wrench in it all.

Its raining now.

I'm getting older, but I'm both younger AND older than I was 8 years ago. Live IS really like chess. It seems to me now that we choose paths based solely on our current understand plus what we see as the next couple of moves. However, by the time we make those moves, our understanding of the game has changed, plus our opponent has changed his strategy. In this way you can find yourself going back and forth from opposing paths. Each time the change of direction seems like the most prudent course of action. Who's to say it isn't. Being flexible has its advantages, and disadvantages.

The only thing I DO know is that I can not choose courses of action just because it seems right. I have my doubts, I see the questions and my philosophy has always been that we are accountable for the answers to questions we know to ask, whether we ask them or not. The tough part isn't accepting the answers...

It's asking the questions.

Posted by wonko at 02:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Philip Morris Cares: What's wrong with this country!

I just saw a commercial FROM Philip Morris which stated some interesting facts. Here is the actual transcript of that ad.
At Philip Morris USA, we understand that people want to know where we stand on important tobacco issues. On our website, you can find out. For example, we agree that there is no "safe" cigarette. Cigarette smoking is addictive. SMOKING CAUSES LUNG CANCER, HEART DISEASE, EMPHYSEMA." and causes serious diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. The only proven way to reduce the health risks of smoking is to quit. For more, including links to sites that can help smokers quit, visit philipmorrisusa.com. Or call for a copy of excerpts from the site.

Is it just me, or is this insane. Its like a guy breaking into your house and before he pummels you, he gives you first aid tips on how to heal your upcoming wounds. How can we live in a world where a company admits they are selling you a harmful, addictive substance, which you should not take, but then continue to sell it to you. Do these people even have souls?

On their website, they have some handy links, such as:
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Cigarette Smoking and Disease in Smokers
Second Hand Smoke Causes Disease.

There's plenty more. Just click around. I'm certainly glad I never smoked. I've never had a single cigarette in my entire life. I feel for the people who inadvertently started and now cannot stop. It IS,after all, the most addictive substance out there. I'm just glad PM can continue selling it. After all its a free country right. I guess we're all free to sell products that slowly kill customers. It reminds me of SNL's Happy Fun Ball. It also reminds me of Nicarest on The Onion. Both are very funny reads.

Posted by wonko at 11:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 21, 2003

North Peak Couloir

Well, we did it and got back safe. I've posted the pictures HERE. It was a perfect trip. That area behind Sadlebag Lake is just amazing. Soft meadows, endless streams, waterfalls, lake upon lake, glaciers, etc... Going there is worth it just for the views. But we did go for a purpose and to that end we succeeded. Conditions in the couloir were easier than we'd expected so we decided to solo the whole thing. It was steep (55 degrees at times), but we were easily able to kick steps. It was quite surreal climbing side by side with Bruce on such steep terrain with 900' of air below us. It threatened to rain as we reached the summit, but never did. We took our time getting back, just enjoying our surroundings. I'm sure this will be one of many similar climbs.

Posted by wonko at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2003

North Peak Couloir

Its roughly 4:30am and Bruce will be here soon to pick me up. We plan on climbing the North Peak Coloir. A 900' AI3 route up North Peak near Sadlebag lake. Bruce is hoping to redeem himself on this climb from his backing off the V-Notch. Its a much shorter hike in (max 5mi), so we plan on doing this car to car. I'm a bit nervous and I didn't sleep much last night (due to nervousness), but we are both safe climbers and I have high hopes.

Posted by wonko at 04:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2003

Back from SC

I'm back from San Clemente, but I gotta work on work today. Also, climber Steve surprised me and is coming up today, so I hope I get some writing in over the next couple days.

Bruce called today and told me he wants to redeem himself by doing the North Peak Couloir this Sunday, which is the same hight and grade as the V-Notch, only does not require a day to approach. North Peek is next to Conness. More to come...

Posted by wonko at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2003

San Celente or Bust

My parents are vacating down in beautiful San Celemente, so I'm going to head down there for a couple days. I'll be back Wednesday night. Cyo!

Posted by wonko at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2003

A long haul in the Palisades.

Every time I go into the backcountry for more than a day, I feel like I am really living. Like what happens there IS reality. Whereas what happens back home is just politics. Sarah being the exception. She is part of my 'life'. It gets harder and harder to come back to the world of customers, debt and politics. Can I find a way to blend the two?

We made it back safe, but we did not do the route we wanted. Bruce woke up pretty sick this morning at our 12,200' camp. It was probably mild altitude sickness, exacerbated by the intense sun the day before. Later he told me he had a sense of doom about the climb and was happy to have to turn around. As we hiked down, we saw rescue helicopters fly overhead towards the glacier. Who knows about these things. It may have been nothing but pre-climb jitters, or something more. Certainly the climb was very intimidating. It was still a successful trip as we did get to see the Palisades and scope out the routes we want to do. Here are the pictures.

We were both pretty beat up by the time we got down. We each had 60+lb packs and did the entire hike in our plastic mountaineering boots, over sand, scree, talus, snow and slab. Our feet were pretty beat up by the time we got down. The approach was WAY farther than we'd thought. If we went again, we'd have to lighten our load quite a bit. No tent, no stove. Plus, we'd wear hiking shoes and carry our boots. Of course mine weigh >8lbs. I'm pretty tired now, but Adult Swim is on, and I can't miss it! You understand, right?

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July 11, 2003

Alpine time again.

Well, I'm off again tomorrow. I'll be gone until Monday. Bruce and I are hiking into the Palisades and climb the V-Notch. Its a 900' ice climb followed by a 400' rock climb. Its a good day's hike (10 miles + 4000' vertical gain) just to get to high camp before the climb. Here is a picture of the U-Notch and V-Notch. Here is a picture I found of a guy climbing it. Here is another picture further away.

This will be another first for me, doing such a large alpine route; an ice climbing alpine route at that. I've read a number of reports online of the route, and it does indeed seem difficult. It seems the most difficult part will be crossing the bergschrund. A bergschrund is crevasse that separates flowing ice from stagnant ice at the head of a glacier. One report describes climbing the 'schrund' is "like climbing a forty foot tall breaking wave." There is another option of rock climbing left of the 'schrund', but I'm not sure how difficult or safe that route is. Also, it requires a long ice traverse back to the center of the gully. The top of the V-Notch steepens as well. Finally, you have 400' of easy rock climbing to the summit. There is also some question of how easy it really is. Especially since we won't be wearing rock shoes. We'll be wearing our hard plastic boots.

Reading some of the epics people have had on this route, it makes me both nervous and excited. I know that I need to get through these rights of passage if I'm going to be comfortable on other more difficult alpine routes. Learning to deal, both physically and mentally, with this type of exposure and technical challenges is a necessity for climbing routes like the West Rib on Denali. Doing these alpine routes is definitely the direction I want to head. Especially if I ever do decide to try and become a guide. I am confident we have ALL the right gear to do this route and we have the experience between us to get through it, though I'm sure there will be a lot of learning as we go. But thats how it is done. At least we are giving ourselves lots of time to do this.

I'm leaving in an hour. Wish me luck. I'll take lots of pictures and write about it when I get back on Monday.

Posted by wonko at 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Environmental Entrepreneurialism

Derek just told me about this friend of his who started a recycling pick-up company in Mammoth. The City of Mammoth Lakes has its own recycling program, but its a real sore sport in this town. They require you sort everything yourself meticulously, or they won't touch it. Only certain types of glass, only certain types of plastic, etc... Money from our recycling efforts was supposed to go to the school, but never has. There's rumor that a lot of our recycling just gets thrown away and not recycled as they do not want to sort through it.

In comes this friend of Derek's. For $18/mo, he'll pick up your recycling biweekly. He gives you a container and you don't have to sort it yourself at all. Just throw all your plastics, glass, etc... into his bin and he'll pick it up. I had almost given up on recycling in this town because of how difficult they make it, but now that this service is here, I'm willing to pay a little to have it done right. Its exciting to see people coming up with business ideas that are also community driven. Steve S. would call it social business. I'm sure we'll see more of this.

Posted by wonko at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2003

Regular Route, not so regular.

Well, we did it. Here are the pictures. It was definitely a good first lead of the season. The first pitch was hard and scary. The picture gallery tells the rest of the story.

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July 06, 2003

The Regular Route on Fairview Dome

Bruce and I are camping in Tuolumne tonight where we'll get up early and climb the Regular Route up Fairview. Here is a picture of the Fairview dome. Another picture taken from the top of DAFF dome. The route goes up the longest part of the dome, just in the shadow on the left of the last picture. I've wanted to do this route for a long time. It is considered one of the best routes in the country. It will also be my first trad lead this year. Its been so long, I really need to get my trad head back. The climb is 9 pitches and then 400' of easy soloing to the top. Ovef 1000' of climbing. It will also be my biggest climb to date. I'll take my camera and post pictures when I get back. Wish me luck.

Posted by wonko at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2003

I'm embarrassed to be an American, but at least I know I'm free.

That was meant to be sung. I went to a fireworks show last night at Crowley Lake. We all had a good time and the fireworks were incredible. Crowley is 10-15 miles south of Mammoth. Most of the people there were from Mammoth. There's only one way between Crowley and Mammoth. You drive on the 395, get off on the 203 (on the right side of the road) and you're home free. The drive home took 1.5 hours to go the 15 miles home. The behavior of so many of the drivers was indicative of what I've accepted is American social norms. It starts with a few drivers who believe they are more important than the others and refuse to let others in as we all merge to get out of Crowley. Then, on the 395, there is a huge line of cars in the right hand turn lane, waiting to turn right. Again, it started with a few drivers who believed they were more important and decided to race up the left lane and cut back at the last minute. The second wave of important people sees the first wave cheating and decides to cut around themselves. They are probably thinking that they WANTED to play nice, but since the others ruined it, they've been forced to cut as well, or they'll end up waiting even longer! This causes a slow stream of people to start cutting. Finally, the last group of important people can't stand seeing so many people cut them off, so they too decide to cut. The only cars left are those decent enough to realize what is going on and 'do the right thing.' Of course, in the end those courteous few that 'do the right thing' are penalized, while those that cheat are rewarded. This does not escape any of them, I'm sure. It would also be naive to assume that even a few of the people cutting didn't know what they were doing. They knew that everyone on that road was going to turn right, and that by going in the left lane they could pass most of them and cut in at the last minute. I'm sure if you asked them, many would say they just saw an open lane and took it and didn't even realize they were cutting people off. This would be a lie of course.

I made one other observation, though I don't want to come to a conclusion as to its meaning. The majority of the vehicles who passed were SUVs. You can come to your own conclusions, it may be nothing.

Some may think I make too much out of too little, but I can't help but think of the larger implications of observations like these. There is so much that can be taken from this experience. First, there are a good number of people who, without prodding, made the decision that, even given the consequences to others, they had some reason to believe they had the right to cut ahead. Second, that so many people so quickly threw out any sense of civility or community courteousness once they felt others were being selfish. Somehow the fact that others were being selfish at their expense made it ok for them to pay the selfishness forward to others. The Irony that this all occurred on July 4th, a day when we're all supposed to celebrate our common heritage did not escape me.

Back to my title. I AM embarrassed to be an American. Most of the world does not like us anymore and for good reason. How far we've strayed from the country that wrote songs like America the Beautiful. Now when I hear all of this pro-American propaganda on the radio during the 4th, I sense that many people see through it. But part of being American is keeping your mouth shut while you smile. We are not nearly as patriotic a people as we used to be, but after Sept 11, its a HUGE no no to say anything anti-American or even question 'America'. I think this attitude just makes people like me even more cynical. How can anything be fixed if we can't talk about it.

The most telling thing I took away from this observation was with the second group. The ones that cut once they saw others cutting. There will ALWAYS be selfish people EVERYWHERE who believe they are more important, but the speed at which so many others gave up trying to be nice. To me, this seemed liked a microcosm of our American culture at this time. So many people have given up trying to be civil in the wake of so many who never intended to try. And so the dominos fall. We may find some answers in the tipping point theory. It may be that America is unique in our level of selfishness because we are the first country to pass that tipping point. I saw it on the 395. Once a certain number of first mover selfish people could be observed, there were a flood of others who went after. In our country, once a defined number of companies laid off people just before retirement, or health insurance companies screwed truly sick people, a flood of others gave up trying to maintain a sense of community. I'm sure if you could quantify it, you'd find we've passed several tipping points over the last century. Each one signified by a wave of people, exponentially larger than the previous wave, giving up. Its probably impossible, and pointless to try and find the first tipping point. More important is what began the move away from community values and what has exacerbated it over the years?

Its too bad too, because, as I said in the title, at least I know I'm free. We do have one of the freest nations in the world. We can do what we want when we want, even go into enormous debt or give up on our neighbors. Would another country with the same freedoms end up like us? Is it a foregone conclusion that humans are innately selfish and given the freedom to do so will exploit each other to the fullest? Or could our culture have made a right where we went left and ended up different. I'd like to believe in the former because at least then, even if its too late for our culture, some other culture has a chance of succeeding. Our empire has only been here for a blip of civilized history. There is no reason to believe we will defy history and survive as a culture forever. Another society will surpass us, it is inevitable. But will they learn from our lessons?

Posted by wonko at 02:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 04, 2003

Every holiday is labour day.

One of the negative side affects of living in a resort town is that holidays represent the busiest days of the year and thus the worst days to work. I definitely do not look forward to holidays now. Today is the 4th of July. Not a holiday I'd be excited about anyway, given me cynicism with our country. But now, it represents the time when a ton of up-tight LA people come into town with their kids they didn't raise and thus can't control. They'll drive angrily around town hitting each other and other things, but trying to run instead of find out what happened. I moved away from LA to get away from their discourteousness. A couple days a year, they bring it up with them. Our town is probably triple its population today. Oh well. Gotta just get through it.

I'll be busy the next couple days as I work long hours to get through this time. There likely will be no updates til next week. Sorry.

Posted by wonko at 07:39 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack