Monday, January 25, 2010

If Mozart had lived, he'd be old by now

Mozart’s 254th birthday is in two days and our local classical radio station is treating us to a surfeit of recordings of La ci darem la mano from one of his greatest operas, Don Giovanni. If they play this duet any oftener it’s going to start sounding like a commercial, so take a hint and drop the needle on some of the other great music from this opera. One would think that a classical station would have someone familiar enough with this opera on their staff to tell the programming czar, “Hey! When was the last time we heard from Don Ottavio?” or “Donna Elvira’s going to come after us with a meat cleaver because we never play any of her arias."

I used to like this duet, but it’s fast becoming a Moldy Mozart Oldie.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why I Hesitate to Donate….

The obvious reason is I’m a skinflint. However, there have been many excellent causes that I’ve wanted to donate at least something ($10? $20? $50?) to and decided not to. The reason: I end up on the organization’s mailing list and can’t get off.

Has this happened to you? A friend dies, the family requests that you donate to a certain non-profit, you do so in your friend’s honor, and you immediately start getting mail asking for donations. Or you hear about an organization that serves a good cause, make a one-time donation because you can afford it at the time, and they assume that you have a flammable bank account and come after you over and over. I have had this issue with four charities that I can remember offhand: a hospital, two health foundations and an organization that feeds the hungry. All good causes, but one penalty for my generosity was ending up on their pestering mailing lists. Another penalty is having your name sold (misspelled, naturally) to other organizations that would like you to split your assets with them.  For some reason, these are usually the ones that send you return address labels with your name butchered to the extent that you could end up on a terrorist watch list if you ever actually made use of the labels.

In all fairness, there is one organization I donate to that has never sold my name to another charity and for that reason I will mention them here by name: it’s the Slovak Heritage and Folklore Society. They have never asked me to buy raffle tickets either, a practice my fiscally conservative upbringing equates with the sin of gambling. So there are some organizations that graciously accept donations without turning into harping shrews, shrieking for more, more, more.

I wish some enterprising do-gooder would create a non-profit that donates to good causes without revealing the donor’s name and address. Call it, say, Give In Freedom from Tyranny, or GIFT for short. Take the money, write the donor a tax receipt on GIFT’s letterhead and send the donation off to the cause in question. GIFT then becomes the brunt of all that subsequent begging but doesn’t care, because they have a massive shredder!

I can’t believe I’m the first person who thought of this.