May 1st is celebrated in various places as May Day with events welcoming spring. The date has nothing to do with the international distress call "mayday" but seemed as good a time as any to offer some links for disaster relief.

I don't write much about "real-world" stuff here on the blog, with the exception of some family anecdotes. For a while now, though, I've been feeling like I should address the tragedies wrought in recent months by natural disasters.

We've had a noticeable string of such events going for the past several years, in fact, perhaps due in part to climate change but according to many geologists and meteorologists largely due to the fluke of earthquakes affecting more populated areas than usual — even if the number of such earthquakes (and resultant tsunamis) isn't significantly greater than normal on a global average.

I very nearly posted something after the 6.3 earthquake that struck New Zealand earlier this year. Ditto following the massive 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan, not only wiping out large areas with astounding floods but of course wreaking havoc on those nuclear reactors. Just as I'd finally decided to do so a series of devastating tornadoes struck here in the United States of America.

Over two years into the experiment that is Blam's Blog, I have yet to put up a PayPal button. At some point I'll direct you to stuff on EBay or Amazon or the like and start selling some of my out-of-print books and magazines, but rather than put up a "tip jar" here I'd like you take whatever enjoyment you get out of my online offerings guilt-free — until I have a new book to hawk, anyway, which you are then perfectly entitled to feel obligated to buy. However, I would be thrilled to have you express your regard for my writing by taking whatever you might normally be moved to drop in my virtual hat and donate it to charity. Just five bucks apiece from my most dedicated readers could add up to twenty dollars or more for worthy causes.

The Red Cross is probably the best known international disaster-relief organization, although I'm aware that it's been in the news on occasion for controversy over how effectively it uses its funds. Whenever I'm asked to contribute to a like outfit, I try to research it on my own or, if I know the person asking, see what research he or she has done, and Operation USA (whose site is video-heavy, be warned) seems to get high marks from those who keep track of bang for the buck. Another effort that's well regarded throughout the world is Doctors without Borders.

You don't have to worry about my tracking any donations made from these links, if that's even possible. And you needn't limit your giving to one of the above nor even tell me what you're doing; it would be neat, though, if folks left comments explaining which of these or other charities they've donated to either on their own or as a result of this post and why they made the choices they made.

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