Mountainfilm in Mill Valley

Mountainfilm is an annual international film festival that focuses on adventure, culture and the environment.  It has taken place annually since 1979 over Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado.

In addition to screening films (mostly non-fiction), the festival offers a full-day symposium on a large issue (such as energy, food, or climate), and includes art exhibits, author talks and book signings, student workshops, and serves as a meeting place for other nonprofit organizations that are aligned with Mountainfilm’s programming and mission (“dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.”)

In 2000, Mountainfilm started a traveling program, screening films in locations other than Telluride. This program now reaches 125 international locations including last weekend’s visit to the community of Mill Valley, CA for the 3rd annual Adventure Documentary Festival.  Co-presented with the Throckmorton Theatre, the Festival featured 3 days’ of films along with filmmaker Q & A led by Mountainfilm Executive Director, David Holbrooke.

It was an outstanding event – I spent much of the weekend in Mill Valley, attending 7 of the 8 film programs with over 40 films. Following are comments on several of the films:

14.C  (9 mins).  A warm portrait of a skilled teenage rock climber, Kai Lightner, who happens to be black and lives where challenging rocks are rare.  His mother’s comments illuminate the choices they’re facing.

64 MPH (4 mins).  Just outside of Telluride, a local “ripper” is challenged by a backcountry couloir.

A Life Well Lived (4 mins). Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest (in 1963), reflects on what makes a life well lived.  A personal favorite.

Catch It (10 mins).  Surfing in northern Norway?  Yes, made attractive in this modest yet compelling film featuring nomad surfer, Lea Brassy.

Emptying the Skies (78 mins.  Q&A with a protagonist in Milan was Skyped in).  Chronicles attempts to slow the rampant poaching of migratory songbirds in Europe, where millions are taken (illegally) annually.  The film follows an intrepid squad of bird-sympathizers who are waging a semi-secret war against poachers.  By turns, disheartening, educational, and encouraging.  For more, see CABS – Committee Against Bird Slaughter and/or The New Yorker.

High Tension (36 mins, Q & A with co-director Nick Rosen).  Balanced presentation of the unfortunate and ugly 2013 incident in which Sherpas who were fixing a line became infuriated with an independent climber.  Rocks and punches were thrown and an ambitious climb was truncated. The incident also spawned New Yorker articles and took on a new dimension the following year when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas.

Spice Girl (25 mins, Co-director Nick Rosen in attendance). Portrait of Hazel Findlay, a youthful, lady climber, as she strives to summit a vertical seaside cliff in the U.K.

The Fortune Wild (22 mins). Three surfing buddies interact joyfully with the coast of Haida Gwaii, a chain of beautiful islands off the north coast of British Columbia.

The Grand on a July morning, beyond a lifting fog, from a vehicle about 8 miles away heading south to the airport.

The Grand on a July morning, beyond a lifting fog, from a vehicle about 8 miles away heading south to the airport.

The Grand Rescue (53 mins, Q & A with co-director Meredith Lavitt). Story of a 1967 rescue of two climbers on the Grand Teton. Archival images and credible re-created scenes lend authenticity. Contemporary footage of the participants, featuring the now very accomplished rescuers, conveys the 3 day effort with unabashed candor.

 

 

Toy Train in Space (3 mins). Dad & son send a personable toy train 18 miles into space and then recover it.  Cute train, boy, & story line have led to over 4.7 million YouTube views!

Valley Uprising (98 minutes, Co-director Nick Rosen in attendance for Q&A). This film presents a history of climbing in Yosemite Valley – it combines archival photos and moving images with contemporary interviews to illuminate the legendary climbers who found irresistible challenges in Yosemite’s granite.

Wedge (4 mins).  A visually arresting film narrowly focused on Newport Beach, CA’s famous coastal configuration, The Wedge.  Footage of irrepressible surfers, bodyboarders, and bodysurfers finding challenges in the big and fast breaking surf.

I can safely say Mountainfilm patrons are already looking forward to its next iteration.

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Rocky Bridges, part 2

In a previous entry on Rocky Bridges (1927-2015) and his career in baseball, I promised more on him – here are several links to what others have written.

Tribute articles:

1) Weber remembers the late Rocky Bridges
By Pete Weber of the Buffalo Bisons. 01/31/2015.

“It was his approach to baseball and life that made him so special”

This article is notable because it contains two playable MP3’s of interviews with Rocky.

1989 - Manager of the Salem, Virginia Buccaneers, a Pittsburgh Pirate affiliate.

1989 – Manager of the Salem, Virginia Buccaneers, a Pittsburgh Pirate affiliate.

2) Rocky Bridges (1927-2015).  In FutilityInfielder.com, a category-leading blog & website by Jay Jaffe.  2/3/15.

“When Don Zimmer passed away last June after 66 years in baseball, I called him the ultimate futility infielder. Allow me to amend that, for Rocky Bridges, who died last week at the age of 87, was every bit as worthy of that title, and every bit as much an inspiration for this site. The secret of futility infielders is their ability to thrive despite their shortcomings in talent, thanks to persistence, flexibility and a command of fundamentals that go well beyond the playing field. They’re the laces that hold the leather together, the very soul of baseball.”

Lots more interesting stuff in this blog post!  Plus references to books which discuss Rocky.

3) An appreciation of Long Beach baseball great Rocky Bridges in The Long Beach Press Telegram, 2/3/15.

4) “The importance of Rocky Bridges,” Jamey Newberg, The Newberg Report (“Covering the Rangers from Top to Bottom”), 2/4/15.

(Manager of the Texas Rangers, Jeff ) “Bannister recalls Bridges, who I’ve learned in the last few days was one of the game’s all-time great characters, as having an uncanny ability to manage men, striking the perfect balance between stern and serious on the one hand, and keeping things light and loose on the other.”

5) R.I.P. ROCKY BRIDGES.  At  The American Spectator, Larry Thornberry, a writer in Tampa, offers a sympathetic recollection of Rocky.  2/6/15.

“I was never formally introduced to the Rock. But I enjoyed a brush with him and his Cincinnati Reds teammates in the early and mid-fifties when the Reds trained in spring at Plant Field in Tampa. Plant Field was an old pile even then, and very open. So it was easy to mix and mingle with the players in those less formal, less security-conscious days. My pals and I liked Rocky because he was always chattering and would take time to talk with the scrum of pre-teen boys who collected outside the clubhouse. We also liked him because at 5-8, he wasn’t much taller than we were.”

 

Pre-posthumous articles:

I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad,”Gilbert Rogin, Sports Illustrated, 8/18/64.

This full-length article features Rocky and offers a window on minor league ball; it predates the movie Bull Durham.

The Return of Rocky: A Welcome Sequel: In His 39th Pro Season, Giant Coach is Just Looking for Place to Spit,” by Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times.  3/25/85.

Rocky Bridges, the most colorful character in Valley baseball history by Bob Young.  The Arizona Republic 10/14/10.

For Rocky Bridges, baseball really was fun and games,” Jerry Crowe, Angeles Times, 7/24/11.

 

Reference sites:

Baseball-Reference is a compendium of facts on major league ballplayers.  See Rocky Bridges.

Wikipedia’s entry on Rocky Bridges.

 

Reverse of the Salem Buccaneer card

Reverse of the Salem Buccaneer card

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One Good Life: Rocky Bridges (1927-2015)

Everett Lamar “Rocky” Bridges Jr., 87, passed away last week of natural causes in the town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he moved with his family in 1970.

Rocky was a Major League baseball player and a manager in the minor leagues, including 9 years as the manager of the the Phoenix Giants, the San Francisco Giants top minor league team.

Born in Refugio, TX, his family moved to California and he graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic H.S. in 1947. Signed that year, he broke into the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, becoming the 8,344th major leaguer.

Rocky was an infielder, playing second, third, and shortstop.  In 11 years in the majors, he played for 7 teams: Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and the Los Angeles Angels in their inaugural season, 1961.

A card I wish I owned!  Rocky with the Cincinnati Redlegs, circa 1953.

Rocky with the Cincinnati Redlegs, circa 1953.  A card I wish I owned!  (Perhaps I did at one time?)

Rocky had a career batting average of .247 and never hit more than 5 home runs or stole more than 6 bases in a season.

After his playing days, Rocky served as a minor league manager for 21 years, leading teams in over 2800 games.  In addition to several years with the Phoenix Giants, teams he led included the San Jose Bees, the El Paso Sun Kings, the Hawaiian Islanders, the Albuquerque Dukes, and the Buffalo Bisons.

Called by some a “journeyman” Major League baseball player, Bridges is well-appreciated by aficionados as one of baseball’s most quotable quipsters, perhaps the best ever.  For example, speaking of his longest tenure with one team, 4 years with Cincinnati, he said “It took me that long to learn to spell it.”

He made the All Star team in 1958 when he was with the Washington Senators. He reportedly said “I never got in the game, but I sat on the bench with Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Yogi Berra…I gave ‘em instructions on how to sit.”

Some other of his quotes:

“A public address announcer thought Lamar sounded lousy and started calling me Rocky. For quite awhile I thought it was because of my build. Then I realized it fit my game.”

 “I’m the only man in the history of the game who began his career in a slump and stayed in it.”

“The main quality a great third base coach must have is a fast runner.”

In 2011 he reminisced about his life with a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I had fun playing baseball…Many of the players now, I’m not sure they have fun playing the game.”

My path first crossed with Rocky in the mid 1990’s on a trip to Coeur d’Alene (“CDA”) to visit with my wife’s brother and his family who resided there; my wife’s sister-in-law is Rocky’s daughter.  Over the years we’ve made numerous trips to CDA and are fortunate to have seen and enjoyed Rocky and his family over holidays and at regularly scheduled family breakfasts and lunches. Very special treats were visits to Rocky’s home and having him give us impromptu, guided tours through his collection of baseball memorabilia.

For a number of years Rocky had a special stool at the Lakers Inn Bar in downtown CDA.  You knew he was there overseeing a can of Coor’s Light when you saw the car with license plates “O fer” parked out front.

There is much more to say about Rocky, too much for this blog post, so I’ll soon provide links to several articles that help flesh him out.

Rocky’s wife, Mary, died in 2008. They had 3 boys and a girl, all of whom live in the Pacific Northwest with their families including grandchildren.

R.I.P. Rocky.

Brooklyn Dodger rookie in 1953.  "He was called the groundhog at Montreal because of his hound-like fielding of ground balls."

Brooklyn Dodger rookie in 1953. “He was called the groundhog at Montreal because of his hound-like fielding of ground balls.”

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King Tides and other interesting facts

On the west coast today’s tides, along with the last two days’, are popularly known as “king tides.”  King tides are the highest tides of the year.  Yesterday’s higher high tide in San Francisco Bay, 6.9 feet above MLLW* was just above today’s high tide of 6.8 feet above MLLW.  Tomorrow’s higher high tide will be slightly lower, and the higher high tide height will continue to decrease until February 7th when it is predicted to reach 5.2 feet. Then the high tides will again increase in height, reaching 6.8 feet again on February 18th, another “king tide” day.

Visual of yesterday's king tide, courtesy of the 2015 Northern California Tidelog.  www.Tidelog.com.

Visual of yesterday’s king tide, courtesy of the 2015 Northern California Tidelog. http://www.Tidelog.com.

Please note that after yesterday’s king tide, the next tide was a “minus” tide. That is, the low water level was below MLLW. Taking the different between the high and low tides’heights, we have 8.1 feet. That is a lot of water leaving San Francisco Bay in just a few hours!  With this much water moving out, the mean maximum ebb tide at the Golden Gate can approach 5 mph and is easily observed with the naked eye from land.  (Details at end of this post.)

Bay water lapping at the steps down to the Dolphin Club beach.

Bay water lapping at the steps down to the Dolphin Club beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King tides are the focus of the California King Tides Project, which is intended to help citizens visualize how a rising sea level will impact their lives.

The California King Tides Project is organized by a partnership among several state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. This season’s organizers are:

KingTideLogos

Some readers are aware that, for the past 24 years, I’ve been swimming in San Francisco Bay regularly.  I especially enjoy swimming in the winter, when temperatures at their lowest, in mid-January, are normally around 49-50 F.  While this may sound like a strange recreational pursuit, I’m joined every winter at the Dolphin Club by a growing body of “Polar Bear” aspirants, which now numbers in the hundreds.  (One achieves a Polar Bear by swimming 40 miles between and including December 21 and March 21 of the following year.  No wetsuits, honor system. I have 23 straight PB’s, far fewer than a clubmate’s 38 in a row.)

As best I can remember, for the prior 23 winters, the low temperature in the winter has varied between 47 F and 51 F. This winter is on track to break that pattern, since the water is now 55-56 F and hasn’t been below 54 F.  (These unusually high low temperatures are consistent with last summer’s temperatures, which for most of August-mid October, were in the range of 65-68 F instead of the normal 60 F or so.)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a number of stations (>2000 measuring points) along the country’s coasts that measure tide heights, water temperatures, and other variables.  The station nearest to and most relevant to the Dolphin Club is Station 9414290, which is about 2 miles west of the club and just inside

the Golden Gate.  For those readers interested in the subject or wanting more facts on tides, temperatures, etc., the Station’s website has it all.

Crissy Field tidal station...NOAA Station 9414290

Crissy Field tidal station…NOAA Station 9414290

Most interestingly, Station 9414290, also known as the Crissy Field Station, is one of the country’s major scientific landmarks, as it is the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Western Hemisphere.  The first bit of data was recorded on June 30, 1854, and this station has been providing data ever since. For more on the station, see http://farallones.noaa.gov/about/pier.html.

*(MLLW is Mean Lower Low Water, The average of the lower low water height of each tidal day observed over the National Tidal Datum Epoch (1983-2001).

Currents in SF Bay @ Max ebb.  These speeds, approach in 5 mph at the Golden Gate, are estimates but real on a day like today.  Courtesy of www.Tidelog.com.

Currents in SF Bay @ Max ebb. These speeds, approach in 5 mph at the Golden Gate, are estimates but real on a day like today. Courtesy of http://www.Tidelog.com.

Posted in Outdoors, San Francisco | 1 Comment

Crowdfunding

A few days ago, at a meeting of the board of a development stage angel investment, the subject of crowdfunding came up. Although none present had first-hand experience with crowdfunding, it sounded like it might be a good way to go about raising additional funding.

So, since that meeting, to advance my professional knowledge base, I’ve invested a few hours into researching crowdfunding*.  The subject meshes well with my interest in startup financing and could be helpful to a couple of other projects with which I’m involved.

There is a lot of crowdfunding information available on the web – sources include bloggers, Wikipedia, vendors, lawyers, and the SEC.  Many authors “have a dog in the fight.”

As the end goal of my research was to develop a prospect list of vendors (crowdfunding sites) that could help locate equity investors for for-profit projects in the US, I assumed this would be a simple, easy research project.  Well, it wasn’t as simple as I’d assumed, because the term “crowdfunding” covers a lot, plus it’s a fairly new, rapidly growing activity.  Plus, there are different types of crowdfunding with vendors in many different countries operating under different rules.

I learned fairly quickly that much of the chatter about crowdfunding is related to rewards-based crowd-funding.  According the The Ultimate Crowdfunding Guide (“The Guide”) “Rewards-based crowd-funding is where contributions are exchanged for current or future of goods or services.  Individuals or companies who launch campaigns may compensate contributors with something like a t-shirt, a copy of whatever they’re building or even just a thank you.”

The well-known crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are confined to rewards-based fundraising.

Unfortunately, rewards based crowd-funding doesn’t work for the for-profit projects I have in mind.  These projects need money in the form of equity funding and rewards aren’t a practical approach.

However, according to The Guide, “Equity crowdfunding cannot take place in the US at scale right now.  That isn’t to say it can’t take place at all.  It can and does.  There are complex rules in current law that allow a company to sell stock to “accredited investors,” which is basically a fancy term for millionaires… The second problem for equity crowd-funding in the US relates to solicitation.  In short, it is illegal to advertise the sale of stock.”

Uh-oh.

So, we have complex rules that, since the Jobs Act of 2012, the SEC is in the process of revising. Better talk with a good attorney!

However, notwithstanding the formidable legal issues surrounding fundraising in accordance with SEC rules, brave entrepreneurs have stepped into the ring and launched equity crowdfunding sites.  US based equity crowdfunding platforms include:

Angel.co – a prominent site for equity crowd funding of technology based companies.   Bits/bytes centric: mobile, Saas, Internet, etc.  Their syndicate functionality is big plus: https://angel.co/syndicates/suggested.

Circleup.com – The best site for consumer goods companies.

Equitynet.com – lead generation site with accredited investors.  By subscription.

Fundable.com – offers both reward-based and equity funding.

Seedinvest.com - says “Over $343mm in collective investor interest on SeedInvest”  (Whatever that means.)

As best I can tell, each of the above is no more or less than a lead generating site. That is, each enables a startup to publicize itself – to the site’s registered “investors’ and, in some cases, to the general public.  What is unclear is the legality of each sites’ approach as well as how the downstream mechanics work to achieve money in the bank.

There are hurdles and a legal thicket.  But let’s say we can (or think we can) get over them and raise money. Are there more issues to consider?  Certainly!  A main consideration, one the successful fundraiser will need to live with, is investor management and reporting.   For more on this along with other downsides of crowdfunding, see this article on the “9 Dirty Secrets of Crowdfunding.”

Having spent a few hours looking into crowdfunding, it’s apparent that it’s complicated, more complicated than the vendors advertise.  So I’ll continue to dig.

 

P.S. Here are a couple of articles by lawyers that I surfaced (but haven’t yet read):
In the Vanderbilt Law Review: Making Crowdfunding Credible
In the Tennessee Law Review: Proceed at Your Peril: Crowdfunding and the Securities Act of 1933

*The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “crowdfunding” is “the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people especially from the online community.”

 

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Berea High School (Ohio) ’62 Scholarship

I have fond memories of growing up in Berea, Ohio and my 3 years at Berea High School, where I had 360 or so classmates, many of whom are friends.  A couple of
years ago, in conjunction with my Class of 1962’s 50th reunion, I undertook an effort to create, with the help of classmates, a scholarship for seniors at Berea High.

The scholarship was created with the assistance of The Education Foundation (TEF), a local non-profit that supports Berea schools and teachers.  I’m pleased to say three ’62 scholarships have been awarded and it looks like the scholarship will soon be fully endowed.

A near term “to-do”  is to work with TEF to develop a checklist of best practices, a roadmap, so other classes can more easily create scholarships in the class’s name.

Berea High School

Berea High School

Below is a recent email sent to the 45 or so donors with more details.  (BTW, if you’d like to make a tax deductible gift to the fund, go to BereaHigh62.org where you may do so easily.)

 

 

Dear Berea High ’62 Classmate,

Thank you for your support of the Berea High School ‘62’s Scholarship fund at The Education Foundation (TEF). Your gift, along with those of over 40 ’62 classmates, has enabled the award of three $500 scholarships to BHS graduating seniors, each of whom is attending college in Ohio. Also, thanks to donations since our 50th Reunion from several classmates, our scholarship fund at TEF has grown to $8,814.20.

The first three ’62 Scholarship recipients are:
Danielle Wolfe, BHS Class of 2012, who attends Heidelberg University
Samantha Carson, BHS Class of 2013, who attends Ashland University
Sarah Strinker, BHS Class of 2014, who attends Ohio University.

More on the recipients can be found at http://BereaHigh62.org.

This past spring TEF awarded 22 scholarships including ours. Recipients of scholarships issued by TEF are chosen by a committee of local adults familiar with the Senior class members; for each scholarship, the committee works from guidelines provided by the scholarship’s sponsor. In the case of ’62, our guidelines are that the student be academically able, have demonstrated service to the local community, and be in need of financial support to continue his or her studies beyond high school. Also, our class asked that the selection committee strive to select a deserving student who might otherwise be overlooked by local scholarship grantors.

The Education Foundation
Since it’s inception in 1996, TEF has awarded over $400,000 in grants and scholarships to Berea School District recipients – it’s a significant resource to area students and teachers.

’62 classmates volunteer at TEF: Consolina Templeman is serving on TEF’s Board of Trustees, while ‘62’s Don Auble is Trustee Emeritus.

TEF is a 501(c)(3) so all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Summary
In connection with our BHS ’66 50th Reunion, class members created a scholarship fund which so far has provided $1500 to three BHS Seniors for their college expenses. From the results to date, we’re encouraged to strive for an endowed scholarship fund, which will be met when our fund reaches approximately $14,000.

I’d like to convey my personal thanks to each of you for your support of TEF and the ’62 Scholarship. Also, TEF and I offer incremental thanks to those of you who met in 2012 by phone to discuss the creation of a scholarship fund.

Since each of our social circles is unique, please consider reaching out to additional classmates who might be open to supporting the ’62 Scholarship fund at TEF.

Warm regards & Season’s Greetings,

Krist Jake
(415)385-0100
http://kristjake.com

Housekeeping:
Donations to TEF can be made by credit card or PayPal at http://BereaHigh62.org, or by check or securities to its office at 390 Fair Street, Berea, OH 44017. If making a gift other than by Paypal, please identify yourself as a member of ’62. For questions on TEF, contact Kim Dettmer, Executive/Development Director, at (216)898-8270 or kdettmer@berea.k12.oh.us. For questions on the ’62 scholarship, feel free to contact me anytime.

We were proud to be the "Berea Braves"

We were proud to be the “Berea Braves”

 

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Martin Litton (1917-2014)

On December 1 I tweeted a link to a San Jose Mercury News article on Martin Litton, who had just passed away.  The article begins “Tireless, fearless and often rambunctious, Martin Litton devoted more than 60 years of his life to protecting the natural beauty of the West, from stopping dams in the Grand Canyon to preserving California’s ancient redwoods and sequoia forests…”

A few days later there was  a New York Times obituary.  This morning an email from the Adventure Travel Association provided a link to its article on Mr. Litton, which in turn provided a link to an excellent article at O.A.R.S., the largest river-based adventure travel company in North America.

A trail blazing entrepreneur, in 1971 Litton founded Grand Canyon Dories and guided in the Canyon for many years; in 2001 he founded Sequoia ForestKeeper and remained active with it until his death.  On its tribute page on Litton, Sequoia ForestKeeper states:

“Martin Litton spent his 97 years walking on this earth with a single mission: to lessen man’s impact upon the natural world. Whether protecting Giant Sequoias or giant rivers, he was at the forefront, educating the public and legislators about why reducing forests to rubble and damming rivers until they are a trickle were bad ideas. Martin’s legacy will live on with the ancient sequoias and will be told in the geologic timetable that is found on the walls of the Grand Canyon…”

Bottom line, Martin Litton lived his life fully & well.  He was an adventure travel pioneer and an entrepreneur in business and advocacy.  My sense is he wasn’t particularly well known outside the environmental circles he operated in, so this post is to make visible my respect and provide his life with a little more visibility.

I’m sorry I never met Martin Litton.  However, years ago, before email, I picked up the phone and called him about his dory operation in the Grand Canyon. We had a  cordial 10-15 minute phone conversation – but he was having too much fun showing customers the river & canyon to consider selling his truly unique business.  It was of course a large part of his identity.

Martin Litton, R.I.P.

Posted in Entrepreneurs & Entrepreneurism, Non-profits, Outdoors, People of note | Leave a comment