ASK Musings

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Monthly Archive: June 2011



June 2011



The Life I Can Save

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Peter Singer is an interesting (and at times controversial) philosopher. He writes on a lot of issues that are of interest to me – you can read more about his writing and work here. Some utterly despise his view of the world – he's been removed from conferences due to protests, often focusing on his opinions about the rights of parents in making decisions about the lives of their terminally ill infants.

About a month ago I finished his book The Life You Can Save, which my mother kindly purchased for me during a visit last fall. He writes about extreme poverty from a philosopher's perspective but with a practical slant. He spends time talking about the problems of poverty in the world, then explores the arguments people use to justify not contributing more to help others. Those parts could stand alone as interesting reads. He then goes into the problems some charities have, in terms of their effectiveness and percentage of money used to help people as compared to other similar organizations.

At the end, there is a practical call to action: give. Give more than you have. And give to those in the most extreme poverty.

The book struck a chord with me, to the point where I've signed the the pledge. I'm not going to put my salary details here, but what I did was look at what percentage of $105,000 my salary is, and then took that percentage of 5%. So if I made 21,000, I would give 1% of my salary. Each month I'll set aside that amount and give it to one of the organizations ranked top by GiveWell.

This month? VillageReach.

I'm excited about this. It's also helping to motivate me to make some more intelligent decisions with my own money so I can be in a better position to give more, save more, and still live the life I want for myself. And I've posted about it tonight because I'm hopeful that perhaps a couple of you will check out the book, check out the the website, and maybe, if your life situation allows it right now, take the pledge.



June 2011



Beautiful Day

Written by , Posted in Adventures, Reviews

When I was in college I saw my first U2 concert. I think it came about because my boyfriend at the time liked the band. We went to see the band at the Tacoma Dome on January 10 2001, with PJ Harvey opening as part of the Elevation Tour. I obviously knew who U2 was, but I didn't realize how many of their songs I knew. I loved that concert, and came home with a desire to get the band's CDs and listen as much as possible.
I saw them again later on that same tour, this time in November 2001, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with my coworker Nicole. This was just a couple of months after September 11, and I remember it having a very different feel. No Doubt opened, and the show was once again amazing.
In October 2005 I saw them in NYC, at Madison Square Garden, with my friend Michelle, as part of their Vertigo Tour. Keane opened, and, of course, it was fantastic.
I was supposed to see them in September 2009 for the first leg of the 360 tour. I wasn't able to go, but for good reason: I had to be in London for school. Herman and Kathleen kindly took the tickets off my hands, and I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be seeing them on this tour.
About two months ago, I was TV and messing around on the internet. I don't have cable anymore, but I pay the Hulu Plus fee to be able to access some TV shows after they air. The catch is they make you watch a couple of commercials during each show. On that night, one of those commercials was for U2 360 in Seattle in June.
Then I remembered that U2 had to reschedule a bunch of dates last year due to Bono's back surgery. Could I really be that lucky? I immediately went online and saw there were tickets available. June 4 – a Saturday night. Perfect! Austin agreed to come with me, and I bought tickets in the nosebleed section of Qwest field.
Saturday was a gorgeous, gorgeous day in Seattle. The kind that makes it okay to sit through months and months of clouds and rain. The stadium was pretty full when Lenny Kravitz took the stage. It never ceases to amaze me that U2 can get people – Lenny Kravitz, No Doubt – to open for them when they could go on large tours themselves. I knew most of the songs Lenny Kravitz played, and it was a great, high-energy set.
Speaking of sets – the physical set for this tour is ridiculous. Check it out. It takes days to construct and deconstruct – we could see it taking shape from my office on Friday – and does some amazing things. The video screens move, the bridges from the inner stage to the outer stage move. It's huge, it weighs loads, and it fascinates me from an engineering standpoint.
About 45 minutes passed between the end of the Lenny Kravitz set and the start of the U2 set. When "Space Oddity" from David Bowie came on the PA system, the crowd started cheering, as many had read (as I had) that it was the song that played right before U2 performs.
They took the stage, and I was giddy. Giddier than I have been in relation to a show in a long time. I hadn't been that unwaveringly happy from a show since I saw the Beatles' "Love" Cirque du Soleil show a few years ago.
The show was fantastic. The set list included so many songs I love: I Will Follow, Mysterious Ways, Elevation, Until The End Of The World, All I Want Is You, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Beautiful Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Miss Sarajevo, Vertigo, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Walk On, One, and With or Without You.
The Walk On performance was especially amazing. I love that song – I find it to be inspiring and an example of lovely songwriting. It was played after a discussion of and then a recorded statement by Aung San Suu Kyi, for whom the song was originally written. The lights were down, and volunteers from Amnesty International brought electric candles onstage inside light boxes with the Amnesty symbol on them. It was gorgeous and just a lovely, lovely moment.
There was even a message from the space! Commander Kelly was projected on the screen, both making comments and showing some posters with words on it. Only U2 could make something like that happen.
The concert was amazing, Utterly and completely unforgettable. I am so happy I got the chance to go  and that, with today's technology, I can be reminded of it via pictures other have taken, such as the ones on Seattlest.