WP_20130906_003 This site is a collection of my travel writing, short stories, and photography.
You might also find an occasional review, musing, or rant. I write when I have something to say, whether it is daily or monthly. I received such great feedback on my Alaska trip report that I am currently rewriting it for publishing. Once that is finished I will start posting my Costa Rica adventures.

Category: Rants

Glen Hamilton International Organization

imageI’m generally skeptical whenever anyone asks for money. Today I came across a charitable organization that, at first, appeared to come from a legitimate organization. They sounded different than the scams I have seen and they caught my interest. They had a nice website and were almost convincing.

I am registered on a website that helps pair up volunteers with charitable organizations needing help (http://www.idealist.org/). I’d like to be able to do some good in the world and this morning I was excited to get the following email which I assumed was from my contact information on the volunteer website.

Dear Warren,

My name is Harvey XXXXXX and I am the HR manager for Glen Hamilton Foundation. I have just found your information at one of the employment portal and I think that you would be interested in two job opportunities at Glen Hamilton Foundation: CSR (20 hours weekly) and Corporate CSR (30 hours weekly). Both positions involve a lot of responsibility, attentiveness and independence, but they are well rewarded. Annual incomes of CSR and Corporate CSR are US $32,400 and US $65,600, respectively.

Warren, if you are self-reliant enough to work at the convenience of your own home or office, and if you are a quick learner and ready to develop your customer service and management skills, please contact me and I will give you a very detailed account of these vacancies.

It sounded interesting to me, the type of thing I’d love to do so I Googled them and came up with nothing, which was a huge red flag. I went to the website in the email (www.ghamiltonhome.org). It looked and sounded great. The type of thing I’d absolutely love to be a part of…but I still wasn’t sold.

I did a whois on the domain name and my enthusiasm melted. The address was registered two weeks ago in China (http://whois.domaintools.com/ghamiltonhome.org). I went back and looked at the website closely. It says their main office is in the Netherlands and they have job openings in New York (but no New York contact information). Then I read some of the job descriptions and it infuriated me.

They are looking for people who will be paid out of commissions from the donations they process (7%). They also talk about how urgent it is to process each donation immediately so that that charity can be performed on time. First it appears they are preying on people’s desire to do good by soliciting donations. And second, they are getting other people to do their dirty work all under the guise of working for a charitable organization.

I have filed a complaint with the BBB, the Attorney General, sent the information to the Seattle Times, and notified idealist.com.

I would love to be wrong here because I would have been eager to help promote a cause like this. But from everything I have found, it’s a total fraud. But more than that, it’s a step up from the typical email frauds we have all grown to know and hate. They’ve built up a website and gone even further to trick people into doing their bidding. And they try and leverage our desire to help and do good in the world to do it. It really pisses me off.

Based on the evidence I’ve gathered…it looks like a total scam and I hate to think of the people they are tricking into giving money and lobbying for them. If I’m wrong about this…somebody let me know and I’ll be one of their biggest advocates.

Category: Rants

Chinese for ‘Milli Vanilli’

art_girl_cctvThis little girl has a beautiful voice but, apparently, is not pretty enough to represent the Chinese people. They want her voice, not her face. So they plugged in a more “attractive” nine year old girl to stand in front of the cameras for the Olympic opening ceremonies. I saw the performance and was touched. I hate when I’m manipulated like this. It leaves me feeling like a dimestore hooker. And I didn’t even get a dime out of it.

I liked Milli Vanilli too, back in the day. Now before you rag on me for admitting it, I’d like to point out that their albums sold millions and they won a Grammy, so I wasn’t alone. I didn’t like them because of the dancing puppets we thought were making the music…I liked the music. I was sad there weren’t more albums. But were the dancing puppets necessary to get the music out? The sad truth is that I probably wouldn’t have ever heard Milli Vanilli otherwise…because it’s not just about the music.
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Category: Blogs Rants

Hunting the Endangered Mako Shark

shortfin-mako-shark How can people get away with this? The Mako shark is endangered (see the Wiki article) yet in this video we see one caught and killed for a fishing contest. How about we just have a Bald Eagle huntathon…hey aren’t endangered anymore. I don’t understand how a threatened species can be killed so thoughtlessly? If you watch the video (which CNN placed on their front page), you see the shark swimming around the boat before it is hooked. They saw what it was and yet they still chose to hook and kill it. A creature that is threatened by extinction, hauled in for a $15,000 prize. That’s just wrong.

Am I missing something? Maybe that sport fisherman call them one of the more challenging catches because they jump and splash and fight. We wouldn’t want to take that fun away now would we? I guess that makes it okay. And of course their impressive fang laced mouth looks better hanging over a fireplace than swimming through our oceans. They kill swimmers too. The wiki article referenced above reports 8 attacks, 2 fatal. I guess we better remove them and every other animal that has killed at least 2 human beings.

This just upsets me. They didn’t have to kill this shark. I’m not opposed to fishing or hunting. I haven’t hunted in years but I do go fishing a couple times a year. But this is a creature that we are in danger of losing. And they had a good look at it before they chose to cut it down. And then they win a contest and are plastered on CNN and newspapers reveling in their glory. Obviously I’m in the minority here. What am I missing?

Category: Rants

What the hell were we thinking?

chance-dice-lottery-ticket-2-AHD Three things usually make me change the radio station. Any jewelry commercial, a DJ that launches into a commercial while making it sound like he’s just chatting casually with his listeners, or a Washington State lottery add.

The lottery is one of the greatest hoaxes the wealthy have ever pulled across on the lower classes. It’s like the authoritarian father telling his children they are not only going to clean out the toilet; they are going to enjoy it. The lower classes have been duped into paying all the taxes funded by the lottery and they defend their right to do it. We are so disillusioned that we don’t care that it’s a scam.

People often vote for what they feel is best for them individually regardless of its effect on society. It’s why we see litter on the ground, why crime exists, why Exxon is making record profits while the rest of the country is suffering a recession. Desperation drives people to extremes. Somebody watching their children starve is going to have a lot easier time stealing food than most of us. But the lottery transcends this logic. The lottery is the pathetic epitome of this warped mentality.

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Category: Musings Rants

When it Hurts

 

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Molly was a good dog and as you can see, well loved. We didn’t expect her to make it through the night and the kids were saying goodbye. Although this was several years ago, I’ve been thinking about pain today. I made the mistake of watching the video on the news of the eight teenagers that beat up a girl and video taped it. I couldn’t finish it. How can people be so cruel? This type of things weighs me down. In addition, two people I care about are in a lot of emotional pain right now and I hurt for both of them. At least that type doesn’t weigh me down like the other example. Pain caused by love hurts but pain caused by cruelty is toxic.

I grew up with the teaching that we live in the “lone and dreary world.” Religion often teaches that this life is the test and the good stuff comes later if you pass. A core Buddhist philosophy is that “life is suffering.” Birth is suffering, death leaves a wake of pain, and in between is more sorrow than sometimes seams bearable. But what would I be without pain? My pain has carved and forged me into the person I am today and for the most part, I like who I am. I wouldn’t trade my pain. But the thought of future pain scares me and sometimes I hold myself back because I’m afraid of what is around the next corner.

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