The Explorers Club, Northern California Chapter

The Northern California Chapter of The Explorers Club presents:

Gary Richter, Ph.D.

Tribal Life In Southern Ethiopia

DINNER MEETING - Friday, April 5, 1996, St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco (see map )

  • 6:00 PM, Business meeting
  • 6:30 PM, Cocktails
  • 7:30 PM, Dinner
  • 8:30 PM, Speaker
  • $35.00 each

    Dr. Gary Richter is a physicist with Sandia Laboratories, Livermore, Calif. He has had a long time interest in primitive tribal life, tribal conflict and violence, its role in social structures and its roots in human behavior. He will speak to us about his experiences living with the Hamar and neighboring tribes along the Ethiopian-Sudanese border.

    About the Speaker:

    Gary Richter, Systems Analyst at Sandia National Laboratories, is a nuclear and theoretical physicist. He has been with the Livermore, California, lab since he completed his Ph.D. studies at the University of Texas in 1983. He is extensively published as a physicist and as a military analyst. Unfortunately, all of his publications in recent years have been classified and are unavailable outside the military research community.

    Richter has traveled extensively--but not the travel of consumer brochures. He has visited more than 40 countries in the past few years, researching military violence and terrorism around the globe. He has driven the known invasion routes in Eastern Europe, studied the Vietnamese and Cambodian conflicts, and was one of the first Americans to enter Vietnam when the ban was lifted in 1991. He walked portions of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He visited Hmong tribal groups, the troubled Tonle Sap lake region shortly before the 1992 Khmer Rouge massacre, entered the sensitive border region near the spot where Highway Nine enters Laos, and recovered the dogtags of an American serviceman from the jungle-covered Lang Vei ruins.

    More recently, Gary has developed an intense interest and considerable expertise in clan and tribal violence, its role in social structures, and its roots in human behavior. In addition to first-hand investigations into Amazonian tribal life and tribal structures of New Guinea and Yemen, he has recently visited the Hamar and neighboring tribes along the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. The Hamar are distinguished by the custom in many villages that every young male must kill a man to be considered eligible for marriage. However, Hamar warfare is remarkable for the attendant codes of honor. For example, no attack is carried out without extensive prior warning, since sneak attacks are considered dishonorable. Local Hamar can be hired to guard a campsite with full confidence that those who give their word to do so would die fighting to defend the camp.

    While in Ethiopia, Gary also witnessed and photographed a tribal war party of several hundred Karo warriors preparing for combat with Bume aggressors. Gary also witnessed a very rare and secretive Mursi tribal festival centered around tribal stick fighting. This fighting involves gladiatorial-like combat between pairs of selected men wielding large clubs known as "donga" sticks. The battles are frequently fatal for one or both parties. The clashes, interspersed with larger clan fights, go on without end for an entire day.

    Gary speaks internationally on topics related to international violence and terrorism, and draws extensively on his professional travel experience in his lectures on political violence. He is a member of numerous societies and associations, among which are the U.S. Parachute Association, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management.

    Facts about Ethiopia LAND Area: 1,228,221 sq. km (435,608 sq. mi). Capital and largest city: Addis Ababa (1988 est. pop., 1,412,515). Elevations: highestóMount Dashan, 4,620 m (15,157 ft); lowestó116 m (381 ft) below sea level, at Kobar Sink. PEOPLE Population (1993 est.): 53,500,000; density: 47 persons per sq. km (123 per sq. mi). Distribution (1992): 11% urban, 89% rural. Annual growth (1992): 3.2%. Official language: Amharic. Major religions: Islam, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. EDUCATION AND HEALTH Literacy (1988): 60% of adult population. Universities (1992): 3. Hospital beds (1988): 11,000. Physicians (1987): 1,204. Life expectancy (1992): womenó55; menó50. Infant mortality (1992): 112 per 1,000 live births. ECONOMY GDP (1992 est.): $6.6 billion; $130 per capita. Labor distribution (1988): industryó3%; agricultureó90%; servicesó7%. Foreign trade (1988): importsó$1.1 billion; exportsó$415 million; principal trade partnersóItaly, Germany, Japan. Currency: 1 birr = 100 cents. GOVERNMENT Type: interim coalition. Legislature: Council of Representatives. Government head (1995): Meles Zenaweópresident. Political subdivision: 14 regions. COMMUNICATIONS Railroads (1989): 782 km (486 mi) total. Roads (1988): 27,972 km (17,381 mi) total. Major ports: 1 (use of Assab through agreement with Eritrea). Major airfields: 3.

    --from CompuServe

    Click for a larger map that is in color.

    Click for more information on Ethiopia (at Univ. of Pennsylvania)

    Quote Of The Month:

    You-all means a race or section,
    Family, party, tribe, or clan;
    You-all means the whole connection
    Of the individual man.

    --You-all; from The Richmond

    Last Month's Speaker:

    The February 23 meeting was one of the most popular of the season, as evidenced by the attendance of a record number of members and guests who came to hear Jeff Shea (MN-92) describe his experience of scaling the peak of Everest from the north face. As a preliminary event, Emily Cooper, Dan Reid Grant recipient, spoke briefly of her project.

    Emily thanked the Club members for their support of her research activities. During this last year, Emily worked with the project Earthwatch in Southern Chile. Earthwatch volunteers, who help primarily with natural-science research projects, are presently helping to catalogue all of the plant life forms which occur in the temperate zones of the world. Their ultimate goal is to create an atlas of temperate zone plants.

    The major presentation of the evening was a riveting tale of Shea's Mount Everest assault. Although Jeff operates a company which manufactures components for the computer industry, he has found time to climb five of the seven highest peaks on earth, each on his first attempt. His conquest of Everest was a seven-week project after arriving in Nepal, the climax of which was his ascent to the top on May 24, 1995.

    His luck was certainly better than that of the first to attempt the climb, and of many others through the years that have met bad weather, hardship, and death on their attempts. The first publicized attempts to climb Everest occurred in 1924, when Mallory set out to conquer it. Mallory became well-known when, upon being asked why he wanted to climb Everest, he replied, "Why, because it's there, of course." Mallory not only failed in his attempt but never returned, and his body was not recovered.

    Shea visited Nepal with a group known as OTT (Over The Top) Expeditions. The party totaled approximately 35, including guides, Sherpas, and climbers. Upon reaching the highest base camp, the weather was bad and it appeared that the attempt to summit would have to be abandoned. However, on May 24, Jeff decided to make the attempt with Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, who was also eager to try. Two French climbers in his unit elected to stay behind in their tent.

    The final assault began at 12 Midnight and, as the climbers got higher, the weather improved. About 0900 hours the peak was in sight, and Jeff knew they would be successful. The two finished their climb at about 0930 hours in sunny weather, with only a slight breeze. They talked with the base camp by walkie-talkie, left their mementos with the others at the "monument" on top, took several photographs--many of which he shared during his presentation--and started down about forty minutes later.

    Climbers know that the trip down is more difficult and dangerous than the way up. The pair carefully picked their way down. The wind and cold were fierce. They arrived back at their base camp at about 1800 hours, or eighteen hours after they had set out.

    The entire seven-week trek included stops for rest and acclimatization at several points along the way, as well as several days for rest on the trip back down from the base camp. Shea's exhilaration at his feat has continued, and he is already making plans for his next climb in Antarctica from South America, as well as peaks in Australia and Russia.

    Jeff's plan, to conquer all of the seven highest peaks on his first attempt, has been dedicated to Free Tibet. The formerly independent Buddhist nation of Tibet has had its resources devastated, its wildlife depleted to extinction, and near-eradication of its culture since the 1959 Communist Chinese invasion. Free Tibet is an organization dedicated to support educational and political efforts to secure the survival of Tibetan culture.

    Next Month's Speaker:

    We will feature Jonathan Chester, Photographer of the Antarctic.


    Meeting Date Changes:

  • (1) The March meeting will be held on April 5 this year in order to avoid any conflict with those Northern California Explorers Club members who will be attending the ECAD on March 22 in New York.
  • (2) March 22: Chairman Bob Schmieder (FN-86) will host a Chapter Chair meeting for any members who wish to assume a larger role in Club operations by sharing ideas. If you would like to attend the dinner ($35.00) at the Club Headquarters, please contact Bob.
  • (3) Please note that the date of the May meeting is on May 31, not the 24th as previously listed.
  • (4) The September meeting should have been listed as Sept. 27.

    Future Meeting Speakers:

    The meeting on April 26, 1966 will feature Jonathan Chester, photographer of the Antarctic. The May meeting will feature Nick Clinch, who will tell about the first ascent of the Vinson Massif in 1965. This meeting will be especially relevant because of the plan of Dana Isherwood to scale the Vinson Massif in November-December of this year with an all women's group, Expedition Inspiration.


    Correction to February Newsletter:

    Last month your secretary goofed when it was reported here erroneously that Expedition Inspiration is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. In fact, Expedition Inspiration is a non-profit organization of breast-cancer survivors and their supporters; it is not affiliated with the American Cancer Society or any other organization. Dana Isherwood, wife of Bill Isherwood (FN-70), will travel with this group to Antarctica to attempt to scale the Vinson Massif.

    The group climbs the highest peaks in the world to raise money for breast-cancer research, increased awareness of breast cancer and its effect on women and their families, and to demonstrate that women who have undergone breast-cancer surgery can enjoy any and all activities, including those that require physical strength, agility, and stamina. Dana will be a member of the climbing team, which will journey to Antarctica in November, trek inland and probably scale the massif in early December, which is the time of year most hospitable for these activities.

    If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the project, please contact Dana Isherwood at 37 Encinal, Orinda, CA 94563, or phone (510) 254-0739.


    "Like the man said, wherever you go, there you are"

    --Dark Rapture
    By Eric Overmyer

    From the Chairman:

    Golden Gate-Away

    My wife, Martha, and I are absolutely delighted with the response in support of the Golden Gate-Away. We have made great progress, and are now engaged in the next level of detail planning. Please note that we have established communications for the event:
    Gate-Away Phone: (510) 433-7951
    Gate-Away Fax: (510) 934-3735
    World Wide Web

    Tickets will go on sale May 1. We now fully expect this event to sell out. You might consider purchasing a few extra tickets "just in case." Also note that priority for seating will be given according to the order in which your reservation is received; the earlier, the better.

    Look also at the present Board of Directors list. We are especially gifted with Oscar Lopp to take over tickets and reservations, Fran Mullin to watch our money, and all the other "chairs." We need three more people to take the last few responsibilities (Decorations, Fundraising, Legal). If you would like to be on the Board but don't see a space, we'll invent a new title for you! If you want to lead one of the Saturday Forays, please let us know.

    Robert Schmieder (FN-86)

    News of Members:

    Parker Antin (FN-86), may have moved to Tucson seven years ago, but his heart remains in the Bay Area and at the tops of the highest peaks. As proof, he returned to the February 23 meeting to hear Jeff Shea recount his Everest experience. And congratulations to Les DeWitt, guest of Hank Skade (MN-90), for having summitted Mt. McKinley last summer.


    Dr. Sylvia Earle (FN-81) is featured in the March issue of Power and Motoryacht magazine. The article by Amy Rapaport is entitled "Onward and Downward: Sylvia Earle believes how we treat the oceans today will determine how we live tomorrow." She writes that Earle has spent more than 6,000 hours underwater and once lived there for two straight weeks. Earle's diving records include the deepest untethered solo dive (1,250 feet) and solo dive (3,280 feet). Earle talks about her concerns that people gain understanding of the importance of the oceans through education and by getting them into the deep ocean "to experience the wonderment." She also speaks about her dream to visit Marianas Trench, the deepest spot in the world's oceans. "Once there, you can go anywhere else in the ocean....That means access to the 99.9 percent of the world's oceans that have not yet been explored."


    When last heard from, Eve Iversen (FN-86) was in Cuba struggling with pack animals. Inquiry had been sent out over the Internet for information as to her whereabouts. The February 26, 1996 Fact Sheet on Cuba, released by the President, directed his Administration to take steps immediately in response to "the Cuban Government's blatant violation of international law," including indefinite suspension of all commercial charter flights to Cuba. This reporter decided to call Eve's home to see if she was back. She is.

    Iversen says that she went to Cuba to see about an ox, and found a matched set with Libya, where she went to see about a camel! Her specialty area is draft animals and agriculture. Eve says that 60 percent of the power used in Cuban agriculture is produced by draft animals, primarily oxen. Eve was at the Jose Marti International airport at the time of the shootdown, and has pictures and tales to tell. She got out of Cuba on the last officially sanctioned flight. Eve also reports that she has just finished her Master's thesis, which will weigh in competitively with two New York phone books.


    At the February 23rd meeting, all assembled joined in wishing Hal Roberts (FN-84) a happy 90th birthday! A birthday greeting card was signed by all present, which Erna Baldwin planned to present to him. Mike Diggles (FN-92), also celebrated his birthday on February 23rd, and best wishes were sung to him by the members present.


    Roy Warden (MN-74) moved to southern California about a year ago, but remains very interested in, and wishes to remain a member of, the Northern California Chapter. He would like to keep in touch with his EC member friends here and sends us (finally) his new mailing address for all those interested: Roy Warden, P.O. Box 6848-272, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; phone (909) 584-1058.


    Stephanie Wolf (SM-92), an "adopted" Student Member at Cornell University, has been added to our "other area members" list! Stephanie sends the following message via the Internet: "I wanted you to know that I just had the best week I've had in quite a while, despite all the work (22 units this semester) and extras! On arriving home at 2 a.m. from my interview at Tufts ...after having driven for six hours in the fog and mist, I had a surprise waiting in my mailbox. I have been accepted to Cornell's Vet School!!!! I can't tell you how happy I am! It was quite hard to adhere to 'quiet hours' at that point. Again, thank you all for everything, especially for all your faith in me and my abilities."


    Here are some of the responses we received about our Chapter Web page:

    From: Steven D. Van Beek <75124.3622 @compuserve .com>. Dear Mike, This is great news. I'm in Bangkok but will look for the Web page on my local server. Keep up the good work. Best, Steve Van Beek, FI 88

    From: Willard S. Moore . Dear Mike: Congratulations for getting the N.CA Chapter on the web. Your site is an excellent start to getting us linked worldwide. At the Chapter Chair's meeting the day before ECAD, I have been planning to propose that the Club have its own home page and that the chapters be encouraged to link to it. Now, with your initiative, I think the case can be made more strongly. A central home page would be an excellent way to improve communication among our various units and programs. Additionally, the Club's travel program could be featured and linked to sites that could provide possible participants. I look forward to meeting you at ECAD. Maybe you could come to the Chair's meeting to discuss the Home Page. -Billy Moore, Chair, Greater Piedmont Chapter

    From: Michael Herz <>. Greetings from the S.F. BayKeeper Emeritus in exile in Maine. Snow is falling, ice dams have jammed the river after a January thaw. Its a wonderful place to be and to work.... Thanks, & best to my Bay area fellow-Explorers.

    From: Just wanted to congratulate you on what you've done on-line, and to say I think you are doing something very worthwhile...

    From: (Don Bekins). Mike, Thanks for keeping me and Joanie Bekins on the information circuit. I'm trying to set up a Web site for a non-profit group I'm involved with that is nationwide, and worldwide, in scope. I have the pictures as GIF files done as well as the text, both of which have come from our illustrated brochure. Pictures are in color. In addition I have Pagemill, Acorn, Netscape, and Eudora software for my Mac. Our servers are AOL and SLIP-net. I want to link between each to get maximum coverage and pull in new members. The organization is the Society of Antique Modelers (model aircraft from the '30's and 40's, 3,000 members domestically, another 4 to 5,000 internationally]. We want to find new members and sign them up either through the mails or through the Internet. You provided some really valuable input some time ago regarding the data base we are using -- making of name tags for members, with the help of the PageMaker layout program. have done so with two non-profits I am involved with to the delight of the members. Thanks.

    From: Richard C. Woodbridge <74051.345 @compuserve .com>. Dear Mike - Thanks for the enote. I'll make a point of checking out the home page. Glad to see the chapter making that kind of effort. Hope to see you at the ECAD ( if I'm not in Mexico on that date). Sincerely, Dick Woodbridge MNR '68

    From: HATTORI @sask.usask .ca (Jason Schoonover). Thx for letting me know about it. Once I get back from Egypt/Turkey etc. in 3 months and more importantly - I change servers so I can pull graphics - I'll be sure to check it out. Cheers - Jason Schoonover FI '86

    From: (Marty Basch). Hi Mike: If you need some links to the New England chapter, pedal on over to my [Facebook] page.

    From: Michael Tudor <74227. 3630>. Mike, I'm chair of the club's library here in NYC. I also video lectures here and am involved in setting up our Web Page. Please keep in touch with me. I live 3 blocks from club on 61 East 66th and would be glad to meet with you prior or after the ECAD.

    From: Seth Condell . Subject: Thumbs up! Dear Mr. Diggles, My name is Seth Condell. I am a student member of the EC ('93). I think you've done a fine job with the web page. I had tried to get some kind of web page stated with Julian Nott, but being in school so far from the City, made it a little difficult. Do you know if anything has happened with digitizing the Club's Library? Well, I have to run. Meeting with my lab group..... Once again, kudos on the Web page. I've got a bookmark. -Seth Condell, Union College, Civil Engineering

    From: Bob Fabry--N6EK . Mike: I enjoyed every minute of it. Best so far is the page with the animal sounds. You probably know the one I mean. Under Netscape, I can't switch between the mail sender and the web pages, so I can't get the exact name at this moment [Bernie Krause's Wild Sanctuary,]. I did note that the link after your name needs to be updated [fixed]. -Bob

    From: (meksikatsi ). Subject: volcano action. Hi Mike- Since I am posting, I might as well congratulate you for the fine work you have done on the web page. I have it linked to my home page. I want to ask a question: my buddy has made an offer on a house in Mammoth - yes, he's now going ballistic over the recent geological activity and insists I find info for him on the net. I thought you might be able to direct me to something interesting []. I've already scared him enough with my ribbing - thought I would try to calm him down a bit now - :-) Thanks, Bryan Jonson

    In Memoriam:

    Mildred Buchsbaum, 83, wife of Ralph Buchsbaum (E-87) , died January 16th after a long illness. An inveterate zoologist, tissue culturist, and ecologist, she assisted her husband in tissue culture and in writing and editing books for their company, The Boxwood Press. She was co-author of Living Invertebrates; Animals without Backbones, Basic Ecology, and The Lower Animals. For many years Mrs. Buchsbaum was on the Board of Advisors of The Friends of the Sea Otter.

    She leaves her husband, Ralph, former professor of biology and now president of The Boxwood Press; a son, Monte Buchsbaum, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City; a daughter, Vicki Buchsbaum Pearse, Ph.D., a research associate in marine sciences at U.C. Santa Cruz; and three grandsons.

    Ralph Buchsbaum resides at 183 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove, CA 93950. Contributions may be made to Friends of the Sea Otter.

    Click for Calendar of future events

    Date created: 03/13/1996
    Last modified: 06/19/2015
    Content from Charlie (Chapter Secretary) and Louise Geraci email to Charlie and Louise
    Web page by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster, Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club. email Mike

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