At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Rule of Law?

Saddam Hussein is dead. Hanged. It always felt like an inevitability to me; perhaps, to most. It’s hard to work up great emotion about his demise when the stench of ongoing war is overwhelming.

I listened to the news. I listened to the pundits opining about what it all means. And then…a talking head said this:

“The trial by the Iraqi government, the fair trial, proves that this government is committed to a rule by law, and not the despotism of a dictator.”

THWONG!!! A thought arrow pierces me smack dab in the forebrain. Was this trial and hanging truly a compelling display of the magnificence of a rule by law? It didn’t feel that way to me. If I break it down, a man guilty of countless murders is caught and hanged. Now, call me a simpleton if you will (you may be right), but wouldn’t the outcome have been the same under “frontier justice,” or the swift, merciless "justice" meted at the hand of a despot? C’mon. If I wished to demonstrate the importance and the justice of the rule of law, I’d point to some innocent man, wrongly accused, who faces trial and is found not guilty. I’d point to the personal liberties the rule of law protects.

A murderer is hanged at sunrise. We humans tend to be a vengeful lot, regardless of the varied means employed to achieve the same end.

I’d truly love to see a demonstration of the beauties of the rule of law in Iraq. I would dearly love to see the innocent protected; a society in which each individual is given the liberty and security to pursue dreams. I’d dearly love to see that everywhere in this wracked and wounded world.

A murderer hanged at sunrise? That's not it.

It's not even close.

* * *

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Magi

I dearly love this poem by that gentle southern poet, George Garrett. I return to it often each Christmas, and derive great pleasure in doing so. I have shared this poem with many friends many times, over many years.

I thought I would share it once again, in the hope that you may enjoy it, too:

The Magi

First they were stiff and gaudy,
three painted wooden figures on a table,
bowing in a manger without any walls
among bland clay beasts and shepherds
who huddled where my mother always put them
in a sweet ring around the Holy Child.
At that season and by candlelight
it was easy for a child to believe in them.

Later I became one. I brought gold,
ascended a platform in the Parish House
and muffed my lines, but left my gift
beside the cheap doll in its cradle,
knelt in my fancy costume trying to look wise
while the other two (my friends and rivals
for the girl who was chosen to be Mary)
never faltered with frankincense and myrrh.

Now that was a long time ago.
And now I know them for what they were,
moving across vague spaces on their camels,
visionaries, madmen, poor creatures possessed
by some slight deviation of the stars.
I know their gifts were shabby and symbolic.
Their wisdom was a thing of waking dreams.
Their robes were ragged and their breath was bad.

Still, I would dream them back.
Let them be wooden and absurd again
in all the painted glory that a child
could love. Let me be one of them.
Let me step forward once more awkwardly
and stammer and choke on a prepared speech.
Let me bring gold again and kneel
foolish and adoring in the dirty straw.

* * *

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas 2006

"What are your plans for Christmas?” My therapist asked.
I’m spending Christmas alone,” I answered.

You could see it in her eyes…a grave concern. She kept her worries unspoken because she knew I understood. The “happy holidays” are also days of death…the season of suicide. I sought to reassure her (for she is most endearing when so concerned). She needn’t have worried.

Christmas is my salvation.

Last year, I shared my Christmas reveries with you. Each year, they remain the same. I will always be that little boy at Christmas.

I will always believe in the glory of Christmas.

The years have stripped me of that youth’s theology (amongst a great many other things). No matter. Strip away the theology, strip away the names, strip away the details…no matter. Imprinted within my heart and soul are the essence and promise of Christmas.

Is it any wonder we celebrate Christmas during the dead of winter? Is it any wonder that pagan cultures did so, similarly, too? Is it not true that the human soul needs hope most when all is dark, and death surrounds us?

All souls have their winters. It is the nature of things. The sun disappears. Night enshrouds all and the heart is crushed within a frigid, deathly grip. There are winters in the soul when all seems dead, when life itself feels impossible, and forgiveness hides beyond our reach. That is when we need our angels the most. We need the warm light of flickering candles to help us find our way. We need prayers and incantations to sustain us. We need that profoundly mystical, guiding star to lead us from this dark, forbidding world. A winter soul needs hope. It needs the promise of redemption and resurrection...
and the peace that dreams of miracles, love, forgiveness, charity and community bring.

* * *

I’ll be spending Christmas alone, but there will be no death in the cold night. There will simply be a young boy…patiently waiting…straining to hear the animals speak.

* * *

* * *

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 18, 2006

Love Comes Softly

I was absent-mindedly surfing through the cable guide at 2 AM when I came across this movie title: “Love Comes Softly” (I think that was the title; at any rate, those are the three words I remember… ). Love comes softly…I like the sound of that, the feel of that. There’s a certain soothing sibilance to it...a gumdrop for the tongue. So I savored it. Love comes softly, I repeated. And then, I asked myself: “Does it?”

I think so.

It took me a while to sort out my infatuations from my loves. Infatuation doesn’t come softly. It comes on like a burst of fireworks. A booming, blasting, blinding explosion. Well…OK…not so much anymore. Those fireworks occurred in my early years…grammar school through college. My infatuations, then, were magnificent to behold. By the time I began my professional career I had trialed and erred my way to grasping that physical and other, superficial, characteristics correlate poorly to quality of character. My infatuations, thereafter, came on more like sparklers. I think I’ve now entered a new phase. I’d be happy with, perhaps, a scented candle.

Well, that was a bit of a digression, no? This was supposed to be about love coming softly. Let’s get back to that.

Love comes softly. Yes, it does. It comes in the tiniest fractions, practically unnoticed. It comes and feeds on teaspoonfuls of tenderness; it is nurtured during moments of true intimacy. Love comes softly...and not that swiftly...because it is blind. It must somehow find its way to the unseen heart through subtle hints of grace, guided by the music heard when with the other. It edges closer when beckoned by unexpected gestures of affection, respect and concern. Love is found in the smallest of spaces, in the unlikeliest of locations. Love comes when invited by a note on a pillow, a flower in the glove box, a piece of shared fruit, whenever two hearts wish upon the same wishing star. Love comes so softly it’s impossible to say when it finally arrives. One day, it is simply there. Love comes softly…yes…it does.

* * *

* * *

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gambling Man

I never played craps. I never got into cards. Sure, like all teen-agers,
I was taught blackjack and poker by my “elders” (i.e., high-schoolers as opposed to us grade-schoolers). I promptly forgot how to play these games of chance. I simply didn’t enjoy gambling. Never have.

I’ve never been to a horse race (or dog race, for that matter). I never joined the office betting pools during March Madness, the World Cup, or the baseball, basketball, hockey and football play-offs. I don’t play the lottery. I never thought Ed McMahon would knock on my door.

I drove to Vegas to see what the hoopla was all about. That was first in the early 70’s, I'd guess. I arrived shirt-less, barefoot and quite the longhair. I was not welcomed (then again, very few establishments were inclined to welcome people such as I). I quickly decided to simply keep on going...(there is a great, big ocean just a day's drive west, after all...). But I remember this scene vividly (it is 3 AM):

A man in a stylish tuxedo is sitting on the curb, head in hands, crying. More than crying…wailing. At that very moment, a Vegas cab cruises by, roof-top billboard flashing horse race results, and megaphone blaring: Ain’t we having fun!?!”

I chewed on that for a bit. “No.” This wasn’t fun. This is something
I can never understand. Gambling away your fortune, perhaps your life, just doesn’t seem like it’s all that much fun.

* * *

OK. I’m not a gambler. So riddle me this: Why did I gamble everything…my possessions, my fortune, my heart and very soul, on the love of a woman? (More than once, I might add).

I’m not a gambler, I say. But, I went all in, I bet it all and lost…repeatedly…for love.

Who’s the addict with the problem?

* * *

Gratuitous non-sequitor: Origami intrigues and delights me.

* * *

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Terrible Longing

Every now and then, I succumb to a woeful state of mind. I think it’s best described as a terrible longing. I do my best to avoid the pain.
It stuns with its ferocity; it physically and emotionally wounds. I’m left choking on every breath. No good comes from feeling this way.

But then, it was one of those gray, indeterminate winter days. Not nearly cold enough to grab one’s attention and elicit a grudging admiration for Nature’s icy mood. Neither was it warm enough to feel refreshing. The earth was merely grumbling in its sleep.

I felt it coming. I resisted the urge to sneak peeks (for the millionth time) at a photograph or two. I tried to divert my attention elsewhere…anywhere. Despite that, the cold gray crept in.
The burning in my gut began.

I was overcome by a terrible longing.

What is it, really, that I long for? The pain, you see, doesn’t come with a label or an explanation. My simple heart simply feels, and then hands the whole sorry mess to the brain to sort out. I must muddle through, somehow, to reach something akin to understanding. I’m pretty good at muddling through, though. I tend to persevere in such things. So I asked myself, repeatedly: “What are you longing for?”

To be loved,” popped quickly to mind. Yes, there’s always that.
I won’t deny my need to be loved, but I honestly don’t think it constitutes the root of my longing.

I think it’s the far greater need to love.

I’ve mentioned it often enough; I’m comfortable in my own company…in fact, I’m growing ever more reclusive. I know that I am loved…not by all that many…but by enough. I know I love myself (despite myself). I know that I am loved; therefore, I know that my need to be loved is not the source of my terrible longing.

I hunger to love. I hunger for the human touch.

I can think of no greater, more satisfying, spectacular or resplendent state of mind than to be in love…to be truly, madly and deeply in love with someone (best, yet, if for a lifetime). Being in love changes everything. From that rapturous state, one radiates happiness to the world at large. And that is a good thing. When in love, all of my faculties seek to experience only the most beautiful, most gracious, most blessed and inspired facets of life. Loving someone is my heart’s North Star. It pulls at me the way the moon pulls at the sea, all to make me a better human being. Far cheerier to live one’s life devoted to bringing pleasure, happiness, rapture, delight, succor, warmth and shelter to another, than to pursue selfish-interests.

I hunger to love…as I recede deeper into the shadows.

* * *

* * *

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Austin City Limits

Everything is connected in some way, I guess.

I was driving home from a visit with my brother-in-law (a gem of a human being). The CD-player was spinning “What a Good Boy.” Without much forethought, I skipped over to Bruce Springsteen’s - “Human Touch.” I drove on while the song filled my head, over and over again. I decided that this tune, too, could stand as a signature song. It’s another facet of who/what I am.

And my visit with my brother was exactly the human touch I needed this day.

Much later that night…well…actually…early the next day, I was channel-surfing, bleary-eyed, when I came across the last quarter-hour of an Austin City Limits performance by Ray LaMantagne. Amazing Woman was the dear heart who introduced me to Ray LaMantagne. She understood me fairly well…(and not at all).

Oh...hold on...detour coming!

I love the Austin City Limits venue. I love the intimacy afforded the musician and audience by a smaller room. The Park West, here in Chicago, is a similar showcase. I have witnessed many magical performances there. It’s a pity these intimate, acoustically thrilling, heart-throbbing experiences are becoming ever more rare. Not enough money in it…but the soul suffers.

OK. Back on the main road.

Ray LaMantagne was on stage. He introduced a song he wrote when he was acutely missing people he loved (Townes Van Zandt, specifically). The song begins with a bit of slow, simple guitar-strumming. It is a gentle start to a wonderful song, beautifully sung in almost a whisper. I was mesmerized and transported. It captured another essential part of me. With the exception of just one verse, it was a song I wish I could have composed and sung myself. I was actually shaken by the intimacy and truth of it.

And then it came to me. Perhaps you’d like a portrait of me? Well, there it is…three songs. Play them in a row, play them in any order, it doesn’t matter. These three songs capture my essence. An aural portrait, if you will, more accurate and telling than any painting or photograph could be.

* * *

Unfortunately, after fruitlessly searching for the greater part of this morning, I discovered that the name of the song is “Train Song.” But, Ray has not otherwise recorded the song as yet! Here I am, eager to rush out and buy Ray’s current CD (he only has two), and I learn it doesn’t contain the one song…the only song…I needed to hear.

DOH! Long story short…I guess I just wasted a bit of your time.
I pointed to a portrait, but a good third of it is missing. Sorry about that. I have to believe he’ll record it eventually. It’s simply that good. I'll be waiting for it. I want that part of me back!

* * *

If you’ve never listened to Ray LaMantagne, you should. How can you not love a composer/singer who adds this quote to his liner notes?

"And you, liar, teller of tall
tales: you trample
all the Lord’s
underfoot, you murder, steal,
commit adultery, and afterward break
into tears, beat your breast,
take down your guitar and
turn the sin into
a song. Shrewd devil, you know
very well that God pardons singers no
matter what they do,
because he can simply
die for a song…" * * *
* * *
* * * (From The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kaztantzakis)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Just One Song

It seems I just can’t get into music any more. I no longer listen to music while at home. I live in silence, essentially. I believe I’ve beaten and blogged this particular subject/dilemma to death already, but I still find it all so very, very strange.

I do listen to music in my car, on occasion. My car happens to have a wonderful audio system, and it is a pleasure to listen to music within that confined space. I had the BoDeans on auto-replay for seemingly forever. Several days ago, I cued up What A Good Boy by the Barenaked Ladies. It’s been a personal favorite for many years. I’ve been listening to this particular song over and over and over again, lately. It has gotten under my skin. It fits my mood, my state of mind. For you see, I, too, am now suffering through my “hair shirt years” and this song captures elemental emotions inside of me.

It’s not that the lyrics dovetail perfectly with my emotions. They do not. But they come close. It’s more a matter of Steve Page’s voice.
I love that man’s voice. So crystalline, so melodic, so resonant, so absolutely perfect for this particular song. The production values are killer, too (props to the producer/engineer, Michael Phillip-Wojewoda).

The lyrics, alone, do not reveal the essence of the song. It is a song, after all…it must be heard…not read.

At any rate, it appears this song will be my signature tune for the foreseeable future. I think I’ve listened to it about fifty times, or so, in recent days. I’ll probably keep listening to it for many more months to come (then again, one never knows…)

* * *

What A Good Boy

When I was born, they looked at
me and said
what a good boy, what a smart
boy, what a strong boy
And when you were born, they
looked at you and said
what a good girl, what a smart
girl, what a pretty girl

We've got these chains hanging
around our necks,
people want to strangle us with
them before we take our first
Afraid of change, afraid of staying
the same,
when temptation calls, we just
look away.

This name is the hair shirt I wear,
and this hair shirt is woven from
your brown hair.
This song is the cross that I bear,
bear it with me, bear with me,
bear with me,
be with me tonight,
I know that it isn't right,
but be with me tonight.

I go to school, I write exams,
if I pass, if I fail, if I drop out, does
anyone give a damn?
And if they do, they'll soon forget
'cause it won't take much for me
to show my life ain't over yet.
I wake up scared, I wake up
I wake up wondering if anything
in my life is ever going to change.
I wake up scared, I wake up
and everything around me stays
the same.


I couldn't tell you I was
chickened out, grabbed a pen and
paper, sat down and I wrote this
I couldn't tell you that you were
so instead I looked in the mirror,
and I watched tv, laid away all night.

We've got these chains, hanging
'round our necks,
people want to strangle us with
them before we take our first
Afraid of change, afraid of staying
the same,
when temptation calls ...


When I was born, they looked at
me and said
What a good boy, what a smart
boy, what a strong boy
And when you were born, they
looked at you and said
what a good girl, what a smart
girl, what a pretty girl, hey

(I just listened to the song about a dozen more times. Yup. It works for me.)

* * *

* * *

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Broken Man

I’d be willing to bet that at least a few of you read the title to this entry and thought it likely to be a self-referential title to another solipsistic entry. Well, OK, it could have been…I am broken in several fundamental ways…but, no, tonight I want to write about another human being.

My mind has drifted back again to that amazing evening in Vilnius. In fact, my entire sojourn in the Soviet Union, so long ago, was an intensely powerful personal experience. I may return to those memories someday (or not…depending on the vagaries of my dendrites and synapses). But, for now, allow me to dwell a while on the man who came to dinner whom I have not yet mentioned.

He deserves mention.

He was of smaller-than-average height, seemingly in very poor health. His back was bowed, evidence of severe osteoporosis. He was inordinately quiet. He sat, listened and observed the celebratory festivities, but generally did not participate. At odd times, when the conversation turned to hilarious or poignant denunciations of Communism, he would utter a weak defense consisting mostly of tepid bits of simplistic, Stalinist sloganeering. He was oddly out of place; yet, no one seemed to mind. No one stood to rebut his mutterings. He was simply there…more a shadow than a man.

One could not help but notice his discordant presence. Clearly, he was an esteemed, beloved member of this eclectic group, but he was unlike any other, unlike any man I had ever met.

The next day, when again in the company of several of the hung-over revelers, I inquired about “the quiet man.” A grayed head leaned toward my shoulder. Sotto voce, my sofa-mate explained:

“He was an actor. He is harmless. We look after him because we know he would never betray us. He was sent to Kolyma.”

That was it. No further details were proffered; nothing more followed other than a momentary silence. The conversation shifted to other topics. I was left sitting there with this one word…Kolyma…as if that explained everything.

I had absolutely no idea what "Kolyma" meant.

* * *

The years, the decades, rushed along (as years, then decades, seemingly must). One night, while watching some late, late programming about mining and notable ore mines, I felt a visceral shock when Kolyma became the prime subject. It was, apparently, the most infamous gold mine in human history.

With a gut-wrenching jolt, I remembered the quiet man.

In the years since glasnost…since the disintegration of the Soviet Union…more and more information has seen the light of day regarding the hell on earth named Kolyma..."the land of gold and death."

The Kolyma region in Siberia is one of the most mineral-rich regions on the planet. It is also one of the harshest environments imaginable.

That meant nothing to Joseph Stalin. What better place to exploit slave labor? And so he did. He sent millions of political prisoners and common criminals to Kolyma to work the mines, to starve, to suffer and to die. The slaves were quite deliberately served inadequate rations; after all, there were always more prisoners on the way...
millions more on the way.

Kolyma was a death sentence.

According to Wikipedia:

Death in the Kolyma camps came in many forms: overwork, starvation,malnutrition, mining or lumbering accidents, exposure, murder at the hands of criminals, and beatings at the hands of guards. Escape was difficult, owing to the climate and physical isolation of the region, but some still attempted it. Escapees, if caught, were often torn to shreds by camp guard dogs. The use of torture as punishment was also common.

One can find a survivor’s brief summary of Kolyma here.

* * *

There are matters in this life that I simply cannot fathom, cannot process. Our species’ capacity for cruelty is at the very top of the list. Although blessed with a hyperactive imagination, I cannot imagine the hells we’ve created at various times in various cursed locations.
I simply cannot imagine the suffering we’ve inflicted on our fellow human beings.

I simply cannot.

Nor can I imagine the human fortitude necessary to endure, to suffer, and still survive. I’ve never been thrown into the flaming cauldrons that others have. I’ve never remotely suffered what countless millions have suffered.

The closest I have ever come to any of this horror was to break bread with a quiet man…a broken man with a broken soul…

* * *

Friday, December 01, 2006

Venture Capitalist

I wonder just how many of you read this:

“My mind has ranged far and wide this past week, across great swaths of time and a skull’s worth of topics…glorious past meals, family, friendships, unrequited love, war, venture capitalism, divorce and…letting go.”

…and thought…huh?...venture capitalism!?!

Seems kinda out of place, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Believe it or not, I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about venture capitalism lately. Seriously.

Let me explain.

Here I am, sitting atop Maslow’s Mountain, wondering about “self-actualization.” Wondering about doing “good.” Pondering abstract thoughts about living an “authentic” life. Pondering about making
a difference.” Mulling about love, charity and the human condition. There’s a swirl, a maelstrom, in my head. In this time of personal “troubles” all I know is that I want to do “good.” I seek redemption. I seek to please someone…anyone. How shall I do that?

I think I know.

* * *

I’ve been most fortunate. Although I’ve failed in SO many things, although I’ve completely, utterly, failed in love…I’ve continued to be a successful investor. Really. In the past year, I’ve watched my net worth increase by a sizeable amount. I’m not bragging. In fact, I’m thunderstruck. I’ve discovered the truth in that old adage: “The rich get richer…”

Funny thing, though. I don’t care. I really, truly, absolutely DO NOT CARE. My ex will benefit. I’m happy for her. I will have more than I need, more than I want. Money, these days, feels like poison. I’m so tired, sick and disgusted by the seemingly perpetual fight for dollars that the lawyers have been waging (to their respective benefit). I am truly sick and disgusted.

I want to live a modest, simple life (and I shall). I am not comfortable living an affluent life. Affluence seems foreign to me. Dangerous. Destructive. Corrosive. I shall have a simple home. I will be a humble teacher. I shall be a repentant soul. I will put my money to good use.

I will be a venture capitalist. Yup. That’s right. I will be a venture capitalist.
* * *

Just so you know, I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to learn that Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Have you heard the name? A pity if you have not.

Muhammad Yunus is a banker. A very successful banker. He is the head of the Grameen Bank in India. He is also an extraordinary human being. He is a hero to me (and I have very…very…few heroes).

Mr. Yunus asked a simple question: “Why do we lend money only to the rich…and not the poor, the very people who need money the most?” From that simple, humble, logical question came a new way of doing business: “micro-credit” (a.k.a. “micro-finance”). It has been a breathtaking success. The Grameen Bank, to date, has lent several billion dollars to individuals as venture capital, allowing those people to start businesses, new enterprises and start-up ventures that raised their standard of living, brought them out of poverty, provided jobs for others.

These loans have been small, no more than several thousand dollars each, at most, but…they have made all the difference in the world. And the amazing thing is: not a single loan has gone into default! Really. Donald Trump has declared bankruptcy, what? Twice? Trump has stiffed his creditors for billions. Yet, he’s an American hero. Sorry. Count me out. Mr. Yunus is my hero. He has lent billions to the poorest of the poor, and he has been repaid every cent…plus interest. And in so doing, he has lifted millions of people out of abject poverty.

It’s breathtaking.

Here’s what the Nobel Prize Committee said about Mr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank:

“Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world.

Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.

Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.

Yunus's long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision can not be realised by means of micro-credit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing efforts to achieve it, micro-credit must play a major part.”

Mr. Yunus is a personal hero of mine. And I have money, too. I will, henceforth, be a venture capitalist.

The Evangelicals preach that we should tithe 10% to the “Church.” More often than not, the “Church” is a corporation, a private enterprise, a sweet, sweet lifestyle for some fake “Man of God,” (i.e., "false prophet"). A pox on them. A pox on all of that. I do not wish to finance mansions, private jets, fancy rainments, mega-churches (with shopping arcades and ice-cream parlors, even!). But I WILL tithe. This Thanksgiving, I vowed…to myself…and, now, to you…that I will tithe at least 10% of my good fortune to my fellow human beings. I vow to share my good fortune with the far less fortunate.

I will tithe to humanity.

I vow to become a venture capitalist (and a damn good one, at that).

Furthermore, as the loans are repaid with interest, I will reinvest all monies in additional ventures. I will let the money grow and grow and grow to the benefit of the poor who strive so hard to make a life for themselves and others.

I will be a venture capitalist and I will be damn proud of that.

Here’s the thing. It’s SO easy!!!!! Did you know that a blessed collection of individuals banded together in San Francisco to create a venue for offering micro-loans to worthy individuals? Yup. A few truly blessed human beings did just that. They banded together, created a network, and harnessed technology to give all of us a chance to become venture capitalists! They created an organization called Kiva. Here is a link to their site

I hope that at least some of you nameless, faceless (but absolutely beloved) readers take the time to visit Kiva. I hope at least some of you decide to share your personal good fortune with others who seek to make a better life, a better world for himself/herself/others. I hope that both you and they will prosper!

I hope we can all become successful venture capitalists.

* * *

(OK, OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox, now…)

* * *

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