Saturday, November 27, 2010

More…and more…it’s about!

In the Beginning
Like many of you I use the Internet on a regular basis...and I often find myself using Craigslist to buy and sell various items including...yes...Christmas presents...I have bought and sold a plethora of items via this medium for several years. Several days ago I sat back and calculated just what I have bought and sold via this online clearing house…and the list was staggering to say the least!

1. A BMW convertible 325I of which this car has been an absolute blessing for Ian and I; we still drive it...and it's a "rocket ship" on 4 wheels...yet fantastic on gas!

2. A Dodge 4x4 Truck which was one of just a few vehicles actually mobile this past winter in DC – while others were stuck...we were blissfully driving by and throwing a “snatch-line” and rescuing stranded motorists all along the I-95 corridor...or transiting the BW Parkway to get to MD for ice hockey that never got can cancelled!

3. A 1996 Chevy Suburban that belonged to a fire department in "BFE" Colorado; this was the same truck that the window was shot out while I turned on Route 1 in Stafford last year - the boys named it BART...Big @ss Red Truck!

4. Various motorcycles including the boys 4 wheelers; a dirt bike; and a dual sport motorcycle used to "save money" going to work...that never happened...but still a very nice bike!

5. Hockey equipment for both boys as well as officials gear...and yes...even lacrosse gear too!

6. Text books for school (mine...not Jake's!)

7. A BMW Z-3 with no engine…but a gorgeous convertible

8. Skis and various pieces of ski gear (still looking for pants for Ian as we speak!)

9. Ski lift passes for Maryland, Utah and New Hampshire

10. A computer from a guy in dark parking lot in Alexandria

11. Computer programs from another guy in a dark parking lot

12. Computer services from a guy who said “never buy a computer from a guy in a dark parking lot”

13. A long wool jacket

14. A tuxedo to go with the long wool jacket

15. etc; etc; etc

Virtually every item listed above has also been placed for sale and subsequently sold to others via the medium....usually with 10-15 others wanting to at least take a look at it!

Craigslist is the place to go today for much of what I need in my daily life…and when I think I need something surely it can be found on CL – which is short for Craigslist for those of us, in the know!

This weekend we scored big…I mean really big…but before I go there I am not sure many of you knew the “history of CL” …so in a nutshell here it is!

Historically Speaking

Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums. Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four in 2001 and 2002 each, and 14 in 2003.

In 2009, Craigslist operated with a staff of 28 people.[3] Its main source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities – $75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; $25 per ad for New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Orange County (California) and Portland, Oregon – and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).

The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 33rd place overall among web sites worldwide and 7th place overall among web sites in the United States (per on June 28, 2010), with over 49.4 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone (per on January 8, 2010). With over eighty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over two million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements to personal ads.

The site is notable for having undergone only minor design changes since its inception; even by 1996 standards, the design is very simple. Since 2001, the site design has remained virtually unchanged, and as of April 2010, Craigslist continues to avoid using images and uses only minimal CSS and JavaScript, a design philosophy common in the late 1990s but almost unheard of today for a major website. In December 2006, at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.

The company does not formally disclose financial or ownership information (like any good privately held organization). Analysts and commentators have reported varying figures for its annual revenue, ranging from $10 million in 2004, $20 million in 2005, and $25 million in 2006 to possibly $150 million in 2010.
Fast forward…to Harley

So while the minions were standing in line at Wal-Mart (don’t get me going on this one) on “Black Friday” I was still looking for ski pants on CL…and found Harley…not a Harley (I have one) but Harley the chocolate lab. He needed a new home and we figured we could provide that…and more! Full blooded and full of energy...he was the "one" we had been looking we scooped him up! Oh...and by the way...did I tell you that this 16 month old animal knows how to turn off the light switch on the wall?

Enjoy…and thank you CL...he is a great addition to the family!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...with a note!

“You choose how you live your life and with whom you live it with. You also decide how you will respond to life’s incessant challenges. When life is at its very worst- who do you pick to be by your side? Who is your champion through adversity? Life is short and often far from easy. Life’s challenges do not come with a “time-out” but, how we address them is the difference between existing or surpassing all expectations”
The Life On Point Group COO

Another holiday season is starting…and yet for this one I have to reflect back on the past year and take solace…just a few more weeks till the TF Hayes ski trip…the one time of the year where I take a break and concentrate on skiing and my family...and not on the commercialization that has become the holidays!  

It's evening in Burma and for my counterparts fighting for survival…and it’s just another day. You should all take solace as you enjoy time with family and friends today…nobody is hunting you as you wake from a deep and comfortable sleep; nobody is lobbing mortar rounds into your backyard as you serve the turkey; and nobody is shooting at you as you make your way from one neighbors house to the other…consider it a good day…for that is what it is!

I sat around the table last year and we all asked what we were thankful for…some of the answers were comical…. (“I am thankful for football Mr. Brian”) and yet all of them were more about being together as a family unit…that is what is truly important…and that is where I want to be…with my family.

Tomorrow will start the one time of the year that I really do not like…pre-Christmas shopping! The roads in and around the house will be clogged with shoppers making their way to the mall to get 10% off the next purchase…or to buy some gift that will never be truly appreciated.

While on our way home yesterday we discussed the true meaning of the holidays…I understand it’s a time for families and reflection…about putting aside everything that has happened this year (and years past) and for just a few moments realizing the importance that comes from being together. It’s amazing how many people forget that…and those are the folks that will be standing in line at Wal-Mart tonight at midnight for a chance to get a LCD Television set for $199…it is a sad state of affairs when you look at the holiday season strictly from a consumer standpoint…but that is what it has become!

My Grandfather use to put a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle anytime he could…and when he could no longer make the trip he would send my Grandmother….and yet I watch countless folks walk by that same kettle carrying overflowing bags filled with gifts, food, etc…and they turn the opposite way so as not to make eye contact with the bell ringer…I think to myself what a sad state of affairs…where we no longer have care for fellow man that we could not spare change in an effort to buy a meal or provide some shelter to a displaced family…those are the things that make the holidays complete…being with my family and making a difference in the lives of others.

Now…I know there will be those who disagree with me and that is fine…I am not telling you not to go stand at Wal-Mart or Target with the rest of the minions…far from it…what I am stating is that during the holiday season for less then the cost of that TV, stereo or some toy that will be discarded in a month or two…you can make a difference at this time of year who really need it…its your call!

Planning on getting some lunch and then further planning on departure back to Asia…a lot of work to do and so little time to do it…add to it some medical appointments and the dissertation board and I am “racked and stacked” with things to do…and yes…I am still looking for yellow ski pants for Ian…so if you see them while in line please drop me a note!

Happy Holidays


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Goes On....and On

“Adversity is beating the odds, standing strong when the easiest thing to do is to hide or runaway...we chose to stand in the face of adversity because it is either our natural temperament or because we believe in something”
The Life On Point Group COO

Yesterday was one of those days where you never really have enough time to get done what needs to get done in the life of a productive citizen…don’t get me wrong…I accomplished a host of activities in that 24 hour period however I still have more to go and much more to do today…some of which I could have done yesterday but I choose to put off for various reasons…book signing events; lodging for the ski trip; travel arrangements for Asia; food shopping; etc are now on the calendar for today versus yesterday when I should have accomplished these mundane tasks…but I did not.

So what did I do with the precious 24 hours that was 22 November, 2010? A quick breakdown;
1. Dinner at 5 Guys Burgers: What was memorable about this meal was not the burger itself but the two toddlers that were watching us eat our meal – it made me think back to Jake and Ian playing with french-fries at the table. These two kids were quite comical and without a care in the world as they devoured the food in front of them while providing a free show for those fortunate enough to be in close proximity. It made me think of how much I missed being that father of such young boys! I always had a dream of having 4 boys to raise…hmmm…I wonder…just two more!
2. Searching for my Ski pants: I had no idea of where the hell I put my pants from last season – trivial I know BUT I have had these pants for almost 10 years and they are a part of my skiing persona…Jake and Ian have always told me that I needed to buy a new pair to bring myself “up to date”…well that time has finally come…the pants were thrown out back in July along with a bunch of other stuff…a very long and costly story that has yet to be resolved…oh well…over to!
3. Consolidating the Life On Point Group: I divested myself of a former organization that I was holding on to (Life On Point Therapy Group) simply because we were not going to use it anymore. I was contacted several weeks ago about utilization of the name and its close approximation to another existing organization…so rather then fight about it I relinquished the domain name (Life On Point Therapy Group) as of 22 November, 2010. Now some of you may ask “what the hell is Life On Point Therapy Group?” – well this was an initiative started in 2008 in order to facilitate counseling services after I completed my doctorate studies…well with everything that is happening with our not for profit organization, my personal health as well as ongoing work in Asia I thought it best that my focus remain within the not for profit community…henceforth the decision to forgo Life On Point Therapy Group. My discussions with the president of the organization that will take over/utilize that name went well and I wish them nothing but the best.
4. More ski pants: Now Ian called me yesterday…I can’t tell you how much I enjoy our conversations…he has become so “British” in his sarcasm, wit and humor…well I had thrown out the question several days ago asking “do you need anything for the upcoming ski trip”…to which Ian replied that he needed “neon yellow snowboarding pants”…now I have been skiing since I was 4 years old and in that time I have NEVER had a piece of “neon-anything” never mind psychedelic yellow snowboarding pants…but we have a saying here…”what Ian wants…Ian gets” and so it was off to the internet to find said pants. It should be noted that conventional colors such as brown, blue, black and tan cost far less then neon pink, yellow and green…SIGNIFICANTLY LESS! I sent Ian a picture of some nice used ones from E-Bay…wonder why he has not called me back yet?
5. Updates on Asia: I spent considerable time speaking with my boss regarding funding and support for our efforts in Asia. One thing I have found is that in the not for profit world you are continually running to find funding…its not like a conventional job where paychecks “magically” appear in the bank twice a month…no...that is not the way it happens when charities and not for profit organizations are in need…besides planning for operations we also discussed funding streams for 2011 and beyond and just how much is enough given our plans for the future. It costs money to do charitable acts across the globe…and the reality of it is that the greater the charitable act the larger the funding needed!

"Why Burma...and why now?"
Somebody recently asked me why I care so much about Burma…to which I stared at them sipping their full fat Double Mocha-Latte in Starbucks and carefully picked my words...I said quite frankly...“because nobody else does” … a recently published Reuters news piece captured the essence of why I care…the interview was conducted while I was in country and gets to both US policy as well as the international community’s views on Burma;

“A significant reapportionment of US Government aid is in order, so that it is focused on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and villagers under attack inside Burma. The case is now that around $10,000,000 is spent in Thailand principally on 150,000 refugees there, while less than $2,000,000 is spent inside Burma where many times that number of villagers are at risk, under attack or on the run”

Recently, Baroness Cox, a prominent member of the British House of Lords and no stranger to Burma visited the border areas with Thailand - having run her own not for profit organization prior to entering politics she is no stranger to what is happening to the Karen people – she was asked to comment on the assistance being provided by the international community - her response albeit short and quite blunt hits the mark in so many ways…and causes one to think about what we are doing versus what we should be doing:

“It’s kind of like handing a pillow to a repeated rape victim just as she is about to be ravaged yet again. No matter how noble or helpful at the moment, it does not get at the proximate cause. These impoverished people have been denied the fundamental right to protect themselves. Nothing will change until they have this capacity.”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving…and like many of you I have much to be thankful for…and yet still so much more to do. The day is over 8 hours old and I have yet to make a dent in what needs to be done…top of the list…neon yellow ski pants for Ian!

Warmest regards


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burma Update

"Burma is at the center of a torrent of powerful economic forces, and at the same time its political system is frozen...decades of pursuing policies of isolation and sanctions by the U.S. have done little to influence change in Burma, so it’s time to do something different.” General Wesley Clark

Good Afternoon

It has been a whirlwind of activity since coming back to the States from our tour in Burma – we have been focused on not for profit status and filing with the government; assistance to other organizations conducting relief work and expanding the Life On Point Group – these activities alone have kept us hoping! Add into the daily routine continued preparations (already underway) to head back into Asia and rest assured that it has been non-stop every hour of every day!

I have several key appointments coming up over the course of the next several weeks that will have me focusing on health issues (“yes I still have them”) as well as my doctoral dissertation defense board (scheduled for December 3rd in Washington DC) as well as strategy sessions focused on support to the Karen people. ..Suffice to say December and January will be busy months. Add into the fray the yearly Task Force Hayes Ski Trip as well as several book signings and work on the follow-on manuscript and time will quickly become a precious commodity.

The Life On Point Group Update

Just a quick note on what has happened over the past 3 weeks since getting back. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) strongly condemned the Burmese military regime’s continued use of repressive and restrictive measures during the election process which ultimately ensured that the outcome of the general elections perpetuated continued military control of the country. The regime continues to ignore calls by the democratic movement in Burma, ethnic groups, and the international community to release all political prisoners, cease hostilities against ethnic groups, and engage in genuine dialogue with all key stakeholders...not until after securing “victory” did the junta release political prisoners illegally detained.

As an aside and something I had not covered previously, in September, the election commission cancelled voting in over 3,400 villages in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, and Shan states, where ethnic groups dominate...and several of these were areas where the Life On Point Team had been operating. As many as 1.5 million people are believed to have been disenfranchised by this action! At the same time, serious international crimes, including extra-judicial killings, forced labor, torture, rape and recruitment of child soldiers, continue to be documented and are a daily routine in Burma.

The international community (of which you are all now part of!) should have no illusion of what these oppressive elections will produce....a delay in democracy and national reconciliation in Burma. In the aftermath of the elections, the world must step up its support for all human rights defenders and the democratic movement in Burma and spare no efforts in holding the military regime, whether in its current or future structure, accountable for the serious international crimes. For over 40 years the world has watched the repression in Burma and only uttered statements. It’s time to act.

This is where the Life On Point Team and The Life On Point Group will make its Burma

Enjoy...and much more to follow!