More Photos About Buildings & Yaks

It's never too late to post photos from a trip until it definitely is. Like after you inadvertently delete 300 photos from your godamn iPhone. I tried getting Jobso on the iPhone to fix this, but the guy doesn't even return calls from Woz, so my expectations are low.  Plus there's that restraining order thing from the time I saw him chowing down on BBQ Pork at Whole Foods in Cupertino.  Vegetarian, my ass.  So these photos are from my Canon G9.  And honestly, I'm not sure they're any better than the iPhone except for the fact that they're higher resolution and they weren't deleted.

These are completely unretouched except for editing I did in PicasaPhoto to crop them, refocus them, change the colors and otherwise make them look more like National Geographic. Heck, some of these I downloaded from National Geographic.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

At any rate, feel free to take these photos and turn them into your last minute Christmas, Hanukkah, Quanza or New Year's greeting card.  You can claim you spent three weeks in Mongolia and it was the time of your life.  I mean, it's not like somebody's gonna really quiz you on it.  And if they do, just tell them the place was big, there wasn't a single Starbucks to be found anywhere and you got food poisoning.  They'll quickly lose interest.  Some topics just aren't that social, ya know?

Bigger than Yak Whisperer?


It figures that after nearly 3 weeks in Mongolia, the only person who was able to track me down was a recruiter.  I was knocking back a pint of Chinggis Light getting ready to catch our flight out of Ulaan Bataar and suddenly my cell phone goes off. 

It's a Kleiner-Perkins backed social networking startup looking for a CEO.  They claim it's gonna be bigger than Heck it's gonna be the next Google.  Or maybe Facebook is the next Google and this is gonna be the next Facebook.    

It was clear the recruiter didn't really understand the business, blathering on the way he did.  "That's why they need a guy like you."  Before I could tell him I'd think about it, the call got dropped.  Hey, sometimes AT&T does the right thing after all.  Like total Schadenfreude Zeitgeist.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... 

Join us next week for a blues & BBQ adventure in Austin.

Or as they say in Mongolia: бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга.  
God bless you and may your mustache grow like brushwood.

--Yours truly, Johnny Dollar.
  July, 2010

Lake Hovsgol Photos

Lake Hovsgol was amazing. This was the highlight of our stay in Mongolia and a great way to end things. Although the drive out is not for the faint-hearted, it is a beautiful national park with great hiking. We  saw some ancient Deer Stones near the town of Mörön which were 3,000 years old.  We also met with a family of reindeer herders, though that's gotta be a tough life.

As this was an extension to the National Geographic tour we were on, it was just a few of us, which made for a relaxed pace.  There were notably fewer lawyers, but way more mosquitoes.

Life is always a trade-off.

And here are some photos of people from around the country.

Art in the Capital

Photos from Ulaan Bataar including the National Gallery and the Memorial Museum of Victims of Politcal Repression.

In 1937 Mongolia was run as a Soviet puppet state and Stalin launched purges with brutal ferocity that resulted in the closure and destruction of more than 700 monasteries and the death of more than 30,000 people.

Oddly enough, the purges were implemented by Mongolia's now controversial leader Choibalsan.  His statue remains in front of the Mongolia University and is shown in the photos above.


Click the link below to see on a map.,106.92281&ll=47.91831,106.92281&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Big-Time Opportunities in Mongolia

(Starbucks: China, Summer 2007)

I don't know why the Kleiner-Perkins guys didn't think of this earlier, but I think they could have turned the social networking site into a massive opportunity here in Mongolia instead of selling it off as soon as the going got tough.  I mean, where would the Yak herders and Yak shavers be if they did the same thing.  I'll tell ya, they wouldn't be cooling their jets playing 18 holes at Half Moon Bay waiting for Google to acquire their latest Twitter-with-geo-location-group-shopping-discount-social-network-with-a-heart over-funded startup.  

No wonder so many VCs are floundering. It's like they're the Babushka apparatchik kazakh who cant get out of their own Khozraschet.  The only creative guy in the whole business is Roger McNamee and that's because he's out of his mind. But I digress.

The thing is, to tackle this market requires more out-of-the-box thinking than a lot of VCs are used to.  But it's just a question of opening the Kimono of the Keiretsu zaibatsu approach to a more mobile, nomadic population.  I'm thinking...

  • Distributed virtual community Yak Shaving
  • Starbucks downloadable Yak-shakes 
  • Nando's Peri-Peri Yak with free home delivery
    (Ride it, then eat it)

C'mon folks.  Work with me here.  Add your own ideas to the comments below.

My Advice to a Young Man Named Jake

My Advice to a young man named Jake

How do you distill forty years of knowledge?
And pack it for Jake to take with him to college?
For better or worse
I've chosen verse
In just five lines I hope you'll acknowledge

My Advice to a young man named Jake
The world's an adventure in which you partake
Now the secret to a great life
Marry a wonderful wife
And for God's sake spend less than you make!

Gobi Desert Photos

Our visit to the Gobi Desert was a tremendous experience. We stayed at several different Ger camps and met with local families. Temperatures were reasonable and we had some light rain, which was much appreciated.  Saw lots of camels, sheep, goats.  Unfortunately, still no Yak sitings. 

I'm beginning to worry about the long-term viability of this site.  I may need to raise a series B round if I don't find some yaks soon. We'll be heading north shortly to Lake Hovsgol, so hopefully that will work out.

Still, even noted National Geographic writer and Yakologist Jeremy Schmidt did not appear to be optimistic.

Also, please feel free to leave comments below. Note, I do not take responsibilities for unsolicited time-share pitches or other investment opportunities.

No Yak Shaving!


Apparently Yak Shaving means a useless activity undertaken in lieu of meaningful activity. The term originated at MIT some years back in reference to Yak Shaving Day, a fictional holiday featured in a Renn & Stimpy cartoon.  

Here's a definition by uber-blogger and noted Purple Cow expert Seth Godin who got it from Joi Ito:


I want to give you the non-technical definition, and as is my wont, broaden it a bit.

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. "I want to wax the car today."

"Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I'll need to buy a new one at Home Depot."

"But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls."

"But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor's EZPass..."

"Bob won't lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though."

"And we haven't returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it."

And the next thing you know, you're at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

Its amazing how many times you meet people who are constantly distracted by technological Yak shaving. They need to redo the website but first get a new build of the latest Ubuntu release before they can download the compiler, to write the framework to patch the library, to write plug-in for the browser, to automate the process of updating the whatever it was they were supposed to do in the first place. 

Are we all clear?  No Yak shaving!

Unless you're a Yak Whisperer in Mongolia during the Yak shaving season.  

In that case, Namaste, Dude.