Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Plans

For several years now I've been telling myself "I need to climb..." or "I need to go back to...". The list has grown while I have not been diligently whittling away at it. Last year I did climb two of the High Peaks but the 'to-do' list grew by more than 2 so I'm further in the hole. So far the list has only been in my head and thus easy to forget about. This year I'm writing it out and checking things off. Hopefully by being more organized I'll get them done. My list so far:

Mountains - Hurricane, Noonmark, Spreadeagle/Hopkins/Baxter and Algonquin. I want to be on Algonquin when the mountain azalea is in bloom. I tried last year on Marcy but the one I'd seen there 8 years earlier was no longer there. I also want to climb Rocky Peak Ridge from Rt.9N in autumn when the leaves are turned and Colden via the slide over Avalanche Pass if that is possible.

Hikes - I want to spend a long day photographing around Avalanche Lake and on the Opalescent River above Lake Colden. Another long day on the West River Trail to Rainbow Falls. I'd like to climb Pyramid and shoot a panorama of the Great Range but that is a bit of a stretch so I probably won't get to that this year. I want to photograph Wanika Falls which may get rolled into an NPT hike. I've been meaning to hike the NPT for several years but haven't. A thru-hike would be my preference but I may do a 2 part section hike, Northville to Rt.28 then Rt.28 to Lake Placid.

That's a lot for one year. When I started listing it off to Diane, she asked if she would need an appointment to see me this summer or fall. It is unlikely that I'll get to all of them but the list is going up and waiting to be checked off. Check back in late Oct./early Nov. to see how I did.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Rage Over AIG

I read in the paper that Mr. Liddy and some of his staff have received death threats over the awarding of fat bonuses to the traders who caused the crash of the company. He came out of retirement and took on the job of guiding AIG out of the mess for a token salary of $1/year. The contracts in question were not written on his watch and he told the congressional committee that he took offense at the tone of their questioning.

I sympathize with him. When I worked in unemployment insurance during the downturn of the 80s I got at least one death threat (there were others that were implied but not explicitly stated). It is unnerving to have someone tell you they will kill you if you don't do what they want and I do not for a moment condone violence as a solution. That being said, what was he thinking? My father-in-law, a very practical man, once observed that there is nothing less common than common sense and lately those in high places seem determined to prove him right.

If Mr. Liddy really didn't think it was right, if he really found it distasteful, why didn't he refuse to honor the bonus provisions and make his refusal public? Had he done that, instead of him taking the heat for this debacle, those who tried suing to enforce the contracts would be getting blasted for their audacity in demanding to be rewarded for their malfeasance. Their names would be public, the outrage would be properly directed at those who deserve it. Mr. Liddy would be held in high regard for taking an honorable, if legally tenuous, stand. Is he really so naive that he did not foresee that the taxpaying public would be outraged? Where is his common sense?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Letter Writing Campaign

This morning I heard and read in several places that AIG is about to pay out 165 million in bonuses to the managers and executives who created the mess in that company. The bonuses will be paid out of the money that we taxpayers are giving AIG to bail them out so they don't fail and take the rest of the country down with them. According to what I read the bonuses are written into these employees contracts and AIG (and thus you & I) are legally bound to pay them. Further I am given to understand that Federal attorneys have looked at said contracts and agreed that they are indeed legally binding.

When I worked for the Dept. of Labor my salary, like all public employees, was public information. Since the taxpayers now own 80% of AIG I'm asking my congressman and senators to pass a bill stating that because these AIG execs are being paid out of public funds they should, like everyone else paid from public monies, have their names and the amounts of salary and bonus they receive from us the taxpayers released as public information, available to anyone who wants it. In fact I think that the web site that the Obama administration has established to show where the stimulus plan money is going would be the perfect place to list them all. I suggest to anyone reading this that you also write your Federal representatives (and the White House while you are at it) and suggest the same. If we're stuck with rewarding them for creating this mess perhaps we can at least shame them a bit for their greed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting Over the Hump

Wow, it has been over a month since I last posted anything. The doldrums of winter combined with economic doldrums are my excuse. I have had no enthusiasm for posting.

I've been reading about AIG and why we 'need' to save it from collapse. It seems that they are not just the largest insurance company in the world backing up millions of pension funds but they are diversified with fingers into all aspects of our economy. As one example the paper said that a subsidiary of AIG leases airplanes to most of the major airlines. If AIG goes broke, the subsidiary goes broke and the airlines go broke, etc. My son and daughter-in-law know about that kind of chain reaction. It wasn't many years back the (profitable) company they were working for went out of business because it was owned by a larger company that went bust and left them both out of work. It was a much smaller scale version the sort of what would happen if AIG goes down.

Diversification is a good thing if you are an investor or a small business. If one of your investments goes bad or one of your customers fails you have others to fall back on. Working in reverse however, a top down diversification of huge conglomerates apparently has the opposite effect of destroying the otherwise successful below it when the top fails. In my economically untrained opinion one of the things we should be looking at is limiting the size of companies so that none are allowed to get so big that if they fail they take the whole economy down with them.

Weatherwise Northern NY is seeing the start of the annual wrestling match between winter and spring. After a string of nights hovering around 0ºF (-18ºC) we had a couple of mild days where the high reached around 50ºF (10ºC) and then yesterday we enjoyed a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. Over the course of the day I got to clean ice off the windshield three times. Oh joy. I'm looking forward to green shoots pushing out of the ground.