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Ring In the New

Jan. 8, 2022

by Dr. David Fialk, Publisher / Editor -- Photos by Scott Umstattd

A foursome of my daughter S.'s friends came down to Mexico, and visited San Miguel for a few days. The guys, A. and L., successful tech entrepreneurs, messaged me from the Church of San Antonio last Thursday at 2pm about getting together. They had some bounty to deliver to me from S., and I had some purchases for them to bring back to her.

I messaged them back that I just happened to live right behind the church (a happy coincidence) and would come meet them. It was easy picking out the Silicon Valley duo sitting in front of the church's colonial facade.

On our short walk back to my house, I was twice stopped by neighbors, giving my guests a good demonstration of how it is that San Miguel keeps getting voted the Friendliest Town in the World. Turning onto my dead-end alley, A. let me know that they were looking for causes here in SMA to which they could direct their philanthropy. I suggested that I myself had one they might be interested in. My daughter didn't coach me on much, but she did let me know that both of these gentlemen were making a lot of money, and that both were very concerned about doing good with their money.

I came late to the computer age. Veronica gave me her old cell phone a few years ago when she bought a new one. I was content with that old iPhone. But, a year ago, I was pressured into buying a more modern version so that I could keep an eye on how my website performs on the small screen. Such has been my attitude towards digital technology. For me it's a business. I know more about it than I ever wanted to know.

So, I don't blame the people who aren't up to speed with the current tech landscape, who have no chance at all of grasping what I am talking about when I try to explain my passion, Lokkal ("like the Yellow Pages robustly reborn for the new millennium"). That's okay. We can talk about something else.

The only time I get frustrated with digital illiteracy is when an acquaintance with a lot of money, sometimes a good acquaintance, who is already giving away a whole lot of money to other do-good projects, doesn't recognize the world-changing potential of mine.

And the only reason that this frustrates me is because of the single shoestring (my meagre, rapidly diminishing resources) from which this important project hangs. In my own defense, without the interference of the pandemic, advertising revenues alone would have greatly helped to sustain the project's development. But as it is the shoestring is quite taut and beginning to fray.

My Thursday get-together with A. and L. lasted two hours. Very impressed with my daughter, who is very impressed with me, L. and A. were primed on arrival for a significant encounter. I don't think that I disappointed them. I know they impressed me.

There was a lot of good fellowship and a lot of take-aways. The most delightful of these for me, as I mentioned to them on their parting, was having someone to talk to.

These young men, having helped create the current state of digital technology, being involved in its future, and having altruistic ideals, were in the perfect position to evaluate my Lokkal project. (My proposal is to run Lokkal as a non-commercial public utility.) I felt positively embraced by understanding. It was as if I had been living in a foreign land, unable to speak the language, and suddenly came across fellow countrymen of mine.

The next evening, Friday night, the young men invited me over to the house they were renting on Terraplén. There, in the company of their feminine duo, the conversation was again very animated.

I know the constitutional homeopathic remedy that my daughter prescribed for A. It's the same one that worked for me. Sulphur is for people whose self-confidence makes them insensitive towards others. A. comes right out with what he's thinking, often with the most provocative thing that he's thinking. You might say that his IQ is higher than his EQ (Emotional Quotient); I think someone did Friday night.

A. likes to stir things up. The two women were calling him on his excesses. He seemed to relish the controversy. Still, they were giving it to him good, and I waded in more than once to give him some breathing room. L. was mostly observing the process. It was all great fun.

Without greatly jostling the social repartee, I steered the conversation to Lokkal several times during the evening. I was gratified to learn that, since our meeting the day before, the young men had studied Lokkal and read a number of my articles. Several times during the evening L. told A. that he should "just fund Lokkal". I was sure that L. could easily fund Lokkal all by himself, but I had no basis to care which of them did.

Towards the end of the evening, I let loose a comedic routine that had L. in stitches. The heart of my schtick was giving A. a taste of his own medicine. I playfully barraged him with themes and metaphors that he had brought up over the course of the evening, all ending with the same thrust, the same punchline, "We would like you to make a commitment to fund Lokkal." It was a humorous hard-sell, spoken on behalf of L., with permission granted by L.'s affirming laughter and a few supportive comments.

For his part, A. was delighted and entertained by it all. He kept quiet, except to repeat, four or five times, that he had never seen L. so amused. Later, he wrote to Sefira, "I've never seen L. so giggly."

I think what really tickled L. was seeing A.'s provocative style turned back on him, to see A. on the receiving end of someone else's extreme enthusiasm, the salesman being sold. At one point, when L. caught his breath, he confided, "A. is my protege. He thinks he understands me. But then I do something to disrupt his concept."

With such a brief acquaintance, I certainly don't understand either of these complex individuals very well. I was a clever clown and everyone was gracious enough to allow and enjoy my foolery.

Saturday morning, the quartet from New Orleans got on the "party bus" and went down to Mexico City, where A. would host an online giving session. The intent was to inspire people to donate to whatever charitable cause they liked. The goal was to end 2022 by logging in $111,000us between 11:11am and 1:11am Mexico City time.

Saturday morning, despite their invitation, I did not get on the "party bus." Instead, I got on my bicycle and went, as usual, to our organic farmers' and artisans' market. But the market was not as usual. Everything: people, produce, live music, seemed transformed, richer, more available. After having cried alone in the wilderness for so long, I had begun to think that my dream of local internet might, indeed, be mad. But now that reinforcements have arrived, I am breathing sighs of relief, and feel absolved.

A. was successful in reaching his fundraising goal. Around about 9pm Saturday night I learned that some money had been donated to Lokkal. I don't yet know how much or from whom, but I suspect that L. is behind it.

Three hours later, I went up to my roof, as I do every New Year's Eve, to watch the fireworks erupt. I have a great view of the main show, up in the Jardin. And there are always many neighborhood displays adding their accents in the night. This year, my neighborhood, San Antonio, got into the action, with a pyrotechnic barrage, respectable in its intensity and duration, being launched from in front of the church. These hyper-local booms and bursts, still burning embers sometimes falling at my feet, rivaled with their proximity, the more luxuriant extravaganza lighting up el Centro.

After (almost) everything that was going to explode had exploded, while I was coming down my outside staircase, I saluted my neighbors, who had watched from their roof, across and down our alley a short distance. Calling back their Happy New Years, they asked me how I was. I replied, "It's been a great year, so far." And, indeed, it has.

Happy New Year to all.

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Dr. David presents Lokkal, the social network, the prettiest, most-efficient way to see San Miguel online. Our Wall shows it all. Join and add your point of view.

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