But first:

I just read CALTON‘s (CN) quarterly report, and it’s evident this former cash play is now a complete crapshoot. (Sorry about that.) That’s no guarantee of failure, and I am stubborn enough to hold on to all or most of mine. But with that nice $5-a-share cash distribution behind us, and its high-tech ventures bleeding cash, the possibility of a total wipeout seems very real.

Ah, but why worry about money when you can get to Hawaii for a buck and a half? When you can get 4-star hotel rooms just about anyplace for $79 with Priceline.com?

But how about something more than just lying on the beach, even if it’s no bargain in the traditional sense?

Muriel Horacek: ‘As you know, I am an Earthwatch Institute volunteer Field Rep, which entails recruiting people to assist scientists in field research. I also go on at least three field expeditions myself each year. We pay our own way, but it’s tax deductible. I have done 30 expeditions on six continents, and have no intention of canceling my next one, in November, to Kenya. If I opted out I would feel that the terrorists have won!

‘I was concerned that many people would be afraid of flying long distances and working in, and with the local people, in Third World countries, which offer little protection compared to our secure haven at home. However, I am heartened to learn from the Earthwatch HQ that, on the contrary, people are calling and saying that we need more contacts like this. I have found that many citizens of these countries are surprised that Westerners would pay for the opportunity to work on their hands and knees in an archeological dig, walking through jungles on bird or animal surveys, walking the beach all night protecting nesting 1,000 lb turtles, teaching maternal and child health in Africa or Asia, or monitoring behavior of dolphins, monkeys, macaws or a host of other animals.

‘We cannot compare with the good work the Peace Corps does, but for those who do not want to commit two years, Earthwatchers who give 2 to 3 weeks a year learn a lot, give a lot, and make lifetime friends with both the locals and volunteers from many countries.’


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