This year I have kept the political
commentary in a separate location.
This year also I have moved thoughts and observations to a separate file.
This file will attempt to stay restricted to current history.
I have settled into my life in El Golfo and not much happens
here. The key word here is: "Tranquilo". I went up and
visited Megan at Christmas. I will need to go to Texas to renew
my driver license before April. Otherwise, mostly I am cleaning
house and trying to stay well. The weather has been a bit colder
than usual and very much windier than usual. Most of the neighbor
kids are my friends. Some are not.
In the last several months I have rented different cars. I
shall need to buy a new car. New for me anyway. My cable
ties are breaking and oil consumption is on the rise. Recently I
have rented 3 cars: Nissan Altima,
Chevrolet Malibu, and a
Chrysler P/T Cruiser:
So, I really like the Altima and I figure that the rental might just
be top of the line and the cheaper models do not have the
gadgets. I go to the www.Nissan.com web site.
Wow. What an eye-opener. This web site belongs to a man
whose family name heritage is Nissan and who sells computer services
and equipment. This would not be spectacular but he is under
attack -- and losing -- to the Nissan Motor company for cyber-squatting
on the Nissan name. This is really sad. Cyber-squatting is
usually someone buying a name that is identifiable to someone or some
place or some corporate entity for intent of depriving them of the name
registration. For example, people bought the names of singers and
movie stars -- and generated porn sites. Innocent people wanting
to see information on their heroes were instead blasted with
boobs. Boobs at best. After multiple court cases,
cyber-squatting is now against the law. It should be.
But this Nissan guy had his business in place long before Datsun became
Nissan. Oh. The Nissan name existed but the product was
know as only Datsun. I know. I had a few Datsuns. I
really loved them. I had them for 15 years and never heard the
word "Nissan". But now this Nissan man is losing because he has
refused to give up his family named company to the Nissan Motor
This is bad news for ANY person wanting to maintain their own name
and values. This is really bad news for me. I know that
there are people out there who would love to have my site name. I
know, offers to buy the name have been made. Like this poor
Nissan guy, I never expected when I started that anyone would want a
site with my name. I was wrong. In fact my preferred
registration was a "Kelly Family" but it turns out that there is a
German family of Kelly's who sing. Even if I got that name, I
would most likely have lost it. So we are at my personal name and
not a family name. So when some corporation comes along and tells
the court that they were a corporation before I took the name and that
because I have this site, they are losing business, I will be sued for
millions of dollars. In this lifetime, I shall never see a
I would think that before suing, Nissan Motors probably offered the
guy what they thought was a reasonable sale price. The Nissan guy
probably was as stubborn as I am and said no. Maybe several
offers. Several No's. I can understand not wanting to give
up your family name to a corporation just for money. But then if
I looked at the increase of my pension, I would probably take the money
and say discretion is the better part of valor. r I might say that this
is just a fight I do not want to have.
In any case, I shall have to look elsewhere as I shall now not buy a
Nissan Motor product. Sad. They make good, under-rated
cars. It is not just their marketing decisions that have led them
down the wrong path: their corporation wants to blame some poor guy
because he has the same name. I would think he is being hurt just
as badly because although Datsun/Nissan has made good quality
cars, their poor line-up and marketing may reflect upon Mr. Nissan's
I guess I take some pride in saying I am an alcoholic. I wish
it ended there. When I was old enough to buy alcohol, I drank so
much that at least one friend almost died trying to keep up.
Maybe that is elsewhere -- if so look at the University of Wisconsin --
Milwaukee section. I would sit on my drafting stool with a
thermos of Vodka Gimlet. It all started when my friend Karen H.
introduced me to blackberry brandy. I moved to VSQ brandy -- by
the quart -- very quickly. One day I stopped. That was the
day I started at Chrysler in 1967. I was going to die. I
knew that. CHrysler was the only hope I had left and I would not
let go of that. Smoking never caught on. Now I was
safe. No more alcohol. People say you are not an alcoholic
if you can quit by yourself. I can tell you here and now if you
have any brains at all and you figure that you will be dead within a
year and you are still young enough to have those dreams, you can
stop. It is just not easy. You don't like the wet bed
sheets? Work all night and you will not notice. Don't like
the cotton mouth -- drink Pepsi. Don't like the headaches -- go
for a walk. Don't like yourself -- that is the bottom line.
I put Chrysler (with the extreme help of my IBM friends) on the
map. I knew it. I was not going to live in the state
hospital like my father promised.
But I got past the alcohol. Within the year I almost forgot it ever happened. I went back to the university the following year. I needed something to stay awake. I had a heavy course load and I needed money which meant work for pay. Pepsi was not enough caffeine. I tried coffee. It tastes like burnt something. Maybe rubber. I tried tea. I ran to the bathroom every hour. I heard about diet pills with methedrine. I bought bags full. I became a speed freak. I went to bed every third night for about 4 hours. That is all I could handle before my brain was racing in new directions. Unknown to me, I lost my ability to remember anything at all. I missed an entire class for a month. My work programming was so sloppy that I spent all of my time correcting errors. My class project had me running in circle until Kathy Z. showed up to help. This was another case of the alcohol only worse: speed kills. We all know that. Again I would be dead within a year. My friends were gone. That stuff makes you very irritable. To put it mildly. When the semester ended my grades were not good enough to graduate. Surprise. I tried the usual appeal route and gained some ground but no graduation. I started a new job. Bendix. They were patient. I slept solid for a week. At my desk. At McDonald's. At my motel room. Anywhere. But no more speed. That was history.
I have a really strange way of putting these things behind me.
It is not super-faith in Jesus. It is making the decision to stop
with every conscious minute. With the alcohol. I always had
the bottle in the refrigerator. Always. I could drink it
anytime I failed. Even failed just for a few minutes. I
would not fail. WIth the speed, I kept the pills in my pocket (I
wore a suit). I always felt them in there. I did not
fail. Not even once. I did not want to die. I would
not end up a ward of the state as promised. No. I was going
to beat all of this. I think I did a good job.
Oh. No 12-step plan? No association of fellow addicts?
Not really an addict? Let me tell you. I am 64 now.
Almost. Some things in this life are hard. Much is easy.
Stopping an addition hurts more than you can imagine unless you have
done it. That is the resin for the plans and the
associations. It is not just the decision. Your body needs
to maintain a constant level. When you have poured poison into it
for a long time, removing the poison hurts. It hurts all
over. You do not want to get up in the morning: it hurts
mentally. Your head aches like it is split into pieces.
Your legs hurt. You cannot think straight. All of you
and your body are screaming to return to the poison. And that is
the one thing you cannot do. anything. But no more poison.
So when I got divorced I starting drinking again. Not a
little. A lot. You know those 2-quart-sized giant bowls
that they serve rum drinks in at the theme restaurants.
Yeah. I know you get a lot of ice. But I would drink one of
those at a sitting. And ask for little ice as if it were a
Pepsi. Then one of the neighbors told me that he never saw me
without my glass of drink. I stopped dead in my tracks. I
mean right there at the side of the house. I stopped
walking. I had gone back to where I had been and had not even
noticed. The drink went on the ground. The bottle stayed in
the refrigerator where I saw it every day. There was more at
stake this time than my life. If I were caught with this much
alcohol, my kids would end up with their mother. This was worse
than my death. This was the mental death of two very intelligent,
But, as I have come to realize, it is not a matter of chemicals or
drugs. It is a way of living. A way of thinking. Or
not thinking. I live alone. I am not lonely as I have good
friends and friends closer than family ever was. My world is
good. But I spend every cent I can lay my hands on. For
Valentines Day this year I bought a half dozen Barbie dolls, and boxes
of candies. It is unlikely that I shall find enough people to
give them to before the holiday itself. I have the same problem
at Christmas. I have been trying to control it but spending is
necessary. I cannot just quit or I go hungry. I have been
limiting my dollar amounts -- sort of like a budget. But I must
find a different way to beat the compulsive shopping habit. ANd I
shall. But it is a different beast than the others and harder to
This week I encountered what I consider the primary issue in the
United states: Anger. People are angry. Anger is the
emotion what what you expect differs from what you encounter. In
this case it was just another stupid Arizona senior citizen. We
were waiting in line and I made a comment about my upcoming trip to EL
Paso and the customer service person being bilingual (one of my
favorite topics). She laid one on me that I did not expect.
She said she grew up in El Paso and hated it because so many people
spoke Spanish and t they should speak the language of America if
they wanted to live in America. You know my position on this:
bull shit. The founding fathers primarily spoke English.
But not all of their constituents did. In the late 1800's when
our country was founded there was a plethora of languages spoken.
I remember hearing jokes about the "Pennsylvania Dutch" language.
For you young people, this is German. Then there were the SPanish
colonies and the French colonies and the Russian colony. Etc.
the years English has become the common language. As our country
homogenized the language became homogenized. This occurred
simultaneously with our country discarding many concept of cultural
values. Sine the 1870's we have been invaded by other countries
and their cultures. Like this stupid woman, our country has the
unique opportunity to encourage good new cultural values while
discarding the old. I am afraid we will just increase our anger
and lose this precious gift. In others, you stupid, stupid people
who want everyone to look like Tom Sawyer, get out of my country.
We need all of the diversity and the family values that are coming to
our shores. Learn a new language and learn about cultures and
histories. Histories that were old before the Unites States was
But then I went to El Paso. I bought a new 2008 Ford Ranger
pickup. Sort of Red. Like really, really, red. An
experience in itself. I drove my poor Tercel to Yuma, shopped,
returned it to San Luis to Marisol's house. Took the taxi to the
border. another taxi to the train station. 10 minutes to
spare. I was worried. But the train was two hours
late. Apparently this is normal. They will not wait for me
if I am late but I must wait for them with no penalty on their
side. I slept brokenly as I had no CPAP power and arrived in EL
Paso at 9:45 instead of 8:15. THen I waited an hour for the guy
from the Casa Ford to arrive. I was ready to find the next bus or train
back. I had no confidence that they even had the car I wanted let
alone that they would ever arrive.
But Rick Massey from Casa Ford made the wait worth while. The
car was everything that Ford could make that I wanted (we won't go
there here). So after financial papers and lunch (they have a
restaurant in the dealership), I took off. I started back to Yuma
at about 4:00. I gained an hour as I left Texas and another as I
entered Arizona. I arrived home
absolutely dead about 3:00 in the morning.
Interestingly I stopped at a Carl's Junior at about Casa
Grande. The clerk was bilingual and young. I asked
something that I have come to conclude: "Are more people bilingual now
than 40 years ago?" She replied definitely yes. Hooray. Our
young people (as opposed to our Arizona Senior Citizens) understand the
issue. If you want to be a real person, you will understand more
than one language. You will understand more than one narrow
culture, world renowned for its selfishness. The clerk made my
day. But then I was too tired to do anything except eat my
fish sandwich and drive another 300 miles.
Attention Arizona Senior Citizens:
There is NO requirement for any natural-born American citizen to speak
any particular language -- and that includes American English (the poor
man's substitute for communication). There is, however, a
requirement for ANY non-natural born citizen to speak American.
before you publicize to the world that you are a narrow minded, angry,
stupid, old bat, remember, most of the Mexicans you encounter
are able to speak American better than you ever will. They also
understand another language and have superior cultural values that you
will never even
In 1998 I bought a nice little condo in Mesa, Arizona. I
intended to rent it until I retired. There were a few
tenants. Mostly they ripped me off by non-payment or rent,
extortive telephone bills, and theft of my belongings. I spent
all of my vacations restoring the place.
I moved there when I thought I would quit Siemens. It was
depressing. The front window faced the Superstition mountains,
which at the time were pristine and undeveloped. But I
never saw them. The smog is so bad in the Phoenix area that
seeing more than a few miles is a rare exception. Maybe there are
clear days when you could see them. There were no clear
days while I was there. None.
So, when I looked out my front window upstairs I saw a parking
ramada roof, an asphalt roadway, and more condominiums. Try it
and see: 2300 University. I
observed from upstairs because the marijuana smell from the kids next
door was less upstairs.
After a week, I returned to San Jose and sold the condominium.
I worked too hard and too long to be boxed into a life that could not
even be called tolerable. The next year I bought a motor home and
decided to see the country. I saw the country. The mishaps you
may have read in this monologue on earlier pages.
Then I discovered El Golfo de Santa Clara, Districto de Rio
Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. On the beach of the Sea of Cortez 100
miles south of Yuma, arizona. After coupons and weeks of working
a free clinic for PCs and the Internet, I moved onto a lot owned by a
wonderful Mexican woman. For those of you who think they have
found paradise, maybe you have -- but it is not to be found anywhere in
the United States. The USA has too many narrow-minded, selfish,
egotists. There is too much stress. Too much hate.
Too much anger.
Too much pain. Too much of everything bad.
What is in El Golfo? Nothing. The popular word to
describe El Golfo both in town and elsewhere is "Tranquilo". That
is changing and that is regrettable. When the world discovers a
good thing, it ruins it. But in the meantime, I sit here in my
RV. I see a nice hill of sand in front of me and clear blue sky
above that. My neighbors at the top treat me as family. My
landlady treats me as family. My friends. Oh, my
friends. I have more friends than I can count. They
describe me as the "Gringo who lives on the lot of Beto the
policeman". And that, by the way, means that I have serious
security night and day.
My landlady visits her house at most monthly. I visit her in
her home (with Beto and Betito) in San Luis regularly. The
neighbor children run to see me when I drive by. I get free fish
(I am not a fan of shrimp). I get called at least once a day to
make sure I am still alive.
I get up when I want. I go to bed when I want. I visit
friends when I want. I help people with computers when I
want. I am trying to learn the language. I am too old to
enjoy time with them but the number of really beautiful young women
here really makes my day. Some are friends.
Gas prices are about $1 per gallon less than up in El Centro.
Fish is free (for me). Fruits and vegetables are fresh from the
fields -- so are eggs. And cost half of what they cost just across the
The weather is not perfect. I am told that the weather in san
Diego is perfect. I am not that far from San Diego. It is
March. I needed covers on my bed last night. I might want
to run the AC this afternoon. RVs get hot. El Golfo never
get as hot as Yuma (100 miles North). We never get as cold as El
Paso. No hurricanes. No tornados. Two or three rainy
days per year. Maybe a week or so of cloudy days. The rest
have a few jet plane con-trails but otherwise pure blue except for the
flaming sunrises and sunsets.
Did I leave anything out? I think not. Did I mention our
beautiful beach? Sunsets? Happy people?
In Mexico they celebrate Easter Week, not just a day. This
year the number of people in town is unbelievable. Every year we
get more tourists. Some years the San Luis District sends enough
police and Army and Marines to handle the traffic. This year they
sent no Army. No Marines. Very few policemen. You
would not believe the mess. Miles, I really do mean miles, of
traffic jams. The 4-way stop in the middle of town has cops
directing the traffic. The problem is the usual:
greed/selfishness. The main street in front of the school can
generally handle two lanes of cars each way. The outside lane
usually for people dropping off or picking up school kids or stopping
at the tiendas on the other side. Not today.
In the EEUU, you are never permitted to block the street. It
is a public street. In Mexico, the street in front of your tienda
is treated as your private space. Mostly this comes to
restricting the parking. Today there are cabanas in front of the
tienditas. And the sidewalk in front of the school is full of
caritas selling anything legal. And there are the outsized
pickups trying to ram there way around the other vehicles waiting for
the policeman to signal them ahead. and then there
are the quads. 4-wheel motorcycles with usually at least two
people on them but frequently you see one almost adult with two very
small children. These zig-zag through the cars as best they can
with never more than a foot to spare.
Other beach towns have banned the quads in town. On streets
or on the beach. After today, that may happen here.
If so, I hope they do it only on holiday weekends as quads are a normal
means of transportation here. Maybe some day I shall have
one. I think I should have visited Megan this weekend. WIth
my new, shiny Ford Ranger I am afraid to venture from the safety of my
lot. In the middle of town today at the new 4-way stop (it is
always there but sort of ignored) in front of the church/park.
While the traffic was stopped, the policeman stepped up next to me and
asked: "My friend where do you want to go? To the beach?" I said
"No, away from here by the Telcel tower" . He had his
partner clear the way to permit me to turn across the traffic and up
the road I wanted to go.
I can not explain the chaos. I do not have the prose and style
of professional writers. There are literally hundreds of quads,
hundreds of pickups, small to large, a couple thousand people that do
not live here, all of these crowded into a little town that has one
paved road through the middle of it and a paved cross street 5 blocks
longs. The rest of the streets are sand and a watering truck
makes rounds on the central streets to keep them packed as normal
traffic will leave soft spots. These quads are intentionally
tearing up the streets and leaving loose sand everywhere. The
water truck is in hiding as is the grader.
The closest analogy I can come up with is three dimensional: throw a
rock through a wasp nest. The wasps are more angry but you can
imagine the density and the chaos. Oh. Did I mention people die
during these weekends? The ambulance sirens could be heard though
the night. All night. There is a squad of tow trucks on the
main road. Pony rides (?!) and a squad of ambulances.
Two days ago a boy on a quad (I do not know how old) ran over a little
girl on the beach. Killed her. 3 other people died that
same day. And that was before the holiday weekend started.
I took the bus to 57 the other day as I did not want to get involved
with the traffic. There were multiple police stops for seat belts
and alcohol on the main highway. Many billboards too. But
nothing has stopped the idiocy of the people when they get here.
They are talking about building an expressway here from San
Luis. It will be built but that will create more chaos
here. I surely hope that someone figures out how to make this
town safer on the holidays. I think a squad of police and some
Army presence on the beach would go a long ways. A dozen police
at the main intersection has no effect whatsoever on the traffic
problems. And people die. I am thankful for my lot and
fence and Marisol and Liz in the RV park.
Marisol has not sold any shrimp. Maggie's restaurant has not
done a whole lot of business and so Marisol has not made a profit on
her voyage down here. Why no customers? Maggie's is not on
the main street and is small. For crowds like this she needs more
chairs and tables. But the crowds are on the main street.
The gringos do not go to Maggie's. They eat at the caritas and
taco stands along the road. The eat hamburgers at Martha's stand
up at the lighthouse: the hill with the abandoned lighthouse is the
famous local attraction. Abandoned? No light but the hill
is not abandoned. People race their quads, Jeeps, and pickups up
and down the hill day and night on the weekends. From here, the
hill looks black. A few people die on the town beach. The
other dies running over each other going up and down the hill.
I have neighbors who only arrive on holiday weekends. They
have a half-dozen tents of normal to gigantic on their lot. At
least 20 people, maybe more. These people make no noise. I
went over yesterday and told them that I thought they were too quiet
and needed to make more noise or they were not here having enough
fun. I think I heard music last night.
In two more months we have Memorial Day. I think I must visit
Megan then or I shall go mad.
Oh. It is Saturday night. I can see a row of red
taillights going back north. The red taillights go on for at
least 3 km when the road goes around the curve and up the hill.
Maybe there will be some sanity tomorrow. Why should they not
wait until tomorrow? At El Doctor there will be a couple of hour
wait at the Mexican checkpoint. After that most will cross the
border at San Luis. This will be up to a 6-hour wait -- even
those going back tonight. The kids can sleep while the car crawls
This town is changing so very rapidly. The new highway more or
less parallels the beach. The purpose is to bring American
tourists to the Mexican Mainland-Baja beaches. Money. That
is what it is all about. Owned property that extends the short
distance from the highway to the beach is selling for millions of
dollars. That's right. If you own adjacent lots that permit
highway access to the beach, you now own property valued from 15 to 30
million dollars. At these prices we are talking about major
resorts moving here within the next couple of years.
It is Easter again. It is THE time of the year where we
reexamine our relationship with our creator. It is the time of
year that Christians, even the cults, acknowledge the death of
Jesus. It reminds me specifically when I decided that I could
never be a Catholic again. At this point I also acknowledge
that I am no longer a Christian if that means the things that most
other Christians claim to believe. But that one Easter Sunday in
New Jersey. The Catholic Church in Livingston. The pastor
got up on the pulpit and gave a sermon. Usually a CAtholic sermon
is a few minutes expounding upon the Gospel message for that day.
This priest shit on Easter Sunday. He gave a Hell and Brimstone
sermon. He claimed we would all go to Hell if we did not
repent. It sounded more like a text from the Koran than a message
of anything Christian. It was certainly not appropriate for a
joyous church event such as Easter. I know he was wrong and you
can tell me that I should not blame the church for one lunatic
pastor. But I was the ONLY one who walked out on him. If I
had been a parishioner, I would have vocally objected. BUt this
was not my place and not my time and maybe all of these people needed
such a speech. For God's sake, I hope not.
It is too many of such events which drove me from that church.
It was too many other historical readings and my philosophy of religion
course back at the university that made me give up the last pretense of
Christian belief. I do not know exactly what God's organization
is and who sits where. I do know that I do not live up to the
qualities of Jesus although I try. God knows how hard I
try. He also knows how I fail. And we discuss it with me
knowing that I can never be that light. But I can make a few
people smile. I can make a few people have a little more
joy. Maybe that is enough. That is called hope.
I just got the DVD for this movie and I have almost worn it
out. Joe Black is death incarnate and has come to take a
successful entrepreneur away. Only one obscure mention is made of
what happens on the other side but the entire story is about a man, his
success, and his family knowing that on his 65th birthday party he will
die. He has every confidence in the days before that things will
be fine. He worries about his company. He worries about his
two daughters. Next month is my 64th birthday. There will
be no party. Not enough people care that much and I have no
millions of dollars for my daughters to spend to make a party. So
the movie is sort of close to home. The big part is that he is
prepared to die. He has done what he wants and he has left his
daughters with a path for their lives. None of us knows when
death is going to knock and take us away. And we do not
know what happens on the path afterwards. We can only have faith
that God is waiting for us with open arms.
I am diabetic and barely keep my numbers close. I have a heart
condition that puts me on a rat poison diet for the rest of my
life. There are some other things inside that do not have
names. These things let me know that the knock can come at any
time -- and I do believe that it is countable in months and not
decades. I sincerely wish that I could have made a better path
for my daughter, Megan. That is my sole regret. Anything
else is pretty pebbles to quote another movie. Maybe I shall
regret having bought a new American-made
car. I hope not.
I do not know all of it but I do know that I am different.
Most of it is gone now as several serious concussions (I did live
through them but just barely) reduced my memory and my mental
abilities. But I can lay out the split and maybe you can tell me
what is going on.
Although not entirely accurate and mostly short-term I have what is
called an eidetic memory. I remember pictures. I can store
the picture and recall it it. In fact this is how my memory
works. I used to page through texts in school without reading
them. Then when I needed the information for a test, I would
recall it and read it. I had a girl friend in college who could
do this perfectly and for long-term. I hope I loved Janne for the
right reasons. But then when someone I had just met got a haircut
I would not recognized them. The picture did not match. My
wife did not understand this. She would recognize anyone anywhere
in any circumstance.
My eyes work independently. When I was young (I have written
about this elsewhere), I saw double. I had great vision. I
just saw two of everything. Well, not exactly. Since my
eyes looked indifferent directions, I just had two simultaneous images
of the world. If I was looking in general in the same direction,
I sort of saw only one but not exactly that either.
Obviously I had no depth perception. Several car accidents proved
to me that there was something amiss here. But then nobody ever
told me that I should see only one. I had two eyes, two pictures
seemed normal. I was 22 before an eye doctor told me that what I
had was not normal and sent me to a clinic to do eye exercises until
both eyes learned to coordinate. This was a good thing but I
mostly lost the ability to separate them. A few concussions later
and I found image separation impossible.
It was more than double image. My wife would get upset when
one eye looked at her and the other wondered around the room. I
learned to not look directly into other people's faces when talking but
then this bothered women even more than wondering eyes. There is
another disconcerting thing here. I was reminded of it last week
when I renewed my Texas driver license. Since I know I need
glasses I did not protest but Texas was not using a standard eye
chart. I had not seen one of the machines since I took the draft
physical in 1964 but here they were (the vision machines) in
Texas. Texas. I should be surprised with Texas having the
latest 1960 technology? Here is how the machine works. It
has two sets of images: one for each eye. One set slightly larger
than the other. Each set is missing some items. Normal
brains and eyes with normal binocular vision looking into this
binocular machine automatically adjust to make the images
consistent. But they cannot be. So the ones that are the
same image but different sizes are size-adjusted to appear
identical. This leaves your brain in a quandary. It has
done its job but there are mismatches. So your brain goes the
extra mile and does not tell you that some are missing. It just
pretends that all of the pictures are available to both eyes.
Normal brain operation in real life for things that are moving and
sometimes partially hidden. The effect is to make the ones that
are only on the small-image side appear more distant. Similarly
the ones only on the large-image side appear closer. So you have
images, near, middle, and far. Great for testing depth
perception. So what is the problem?
My eyes do not work this way. Or maybe it is my brain.
Under these circumstances, my brain sides separate and I see two sets
of images. I have learned to not ask the tester which set does he
want because if he looks into the device, he only sees one set.
So I just read from left to right integrating the two sets
orally. Sometimes I make a mistake. On the Texas machine
the images were letters in rows decreasing in size lower on the screen.
Here is where I get in trouble. One of my eyes sees better
than the other. Yes, I said I need glasses. My problem is
that even with glasses I had trouble reading the larger line as my poor
brain attempted multiple times to behave in a normal manner and
integrate the images. The best it could do was to blur the common
ones and separate the unique ones. Trying to read the lines when
the images were moving back and forth was very difficult. I
almost failed the test. Explanations to the woman giving the test
were lost as she had no idea what I was talking about. To her
this was a great improvement over a set of letters on the wall.
To me it was reverting to the nightmares I had with these machine in
driver's ed (road signs 2, 8, and 16 were closer), the draft, and a few
other places 40 years ago.
But it is more than just eyes. My wife would also get upset
when I would be involved in multiple conversations at the same
time. I could be talking to her and interspersing sentences with
someone else at the same time. Mostly she thought it was
rude. The same with the eye-wondering thing.
This ability was especially useful in math problems. On a
test, I used professor Polya's heuristic technique of reading the
problems first and then returning to solve them on the second
pass. This worked especially well for me. I did have a
problem with this though: I often would have the correct answer, know
it was the correct answer, know I had solved it correctly, but have to
dig to regurgitate the process. Good teachers have no interest in
the answer, only the process. Waiting for my brain to backtrack
and restart was beyond the patience of most teachers.
The real problem was my inability to remember things. Oh, I
can remember all sorts of numeric things. History is a lost
cause. Things learned in class to be written on a test are never
recovered. I cannot remember birthdays. I cannot remember
names. I will call my favorite daughter Megan by another name
when I get excited. She hates this. She claims it is not
respectful. When pushed for information, my brain goes
blank. The two sides yell at each other that it is the other
side's job to know the answer. The two sides have no patience
with each other so the wrong information will pop out. I am
sorry, but that is how it works. Mechanically my brain and body
will do correct things. Orally, the wrong words will come out, if
anything comes out at all. If you cannot do these things then you
have no idea the panic that the two sides generate and the blankness
that I hear while waiting for a correct answer. Or the yelling
from Megan as I called out someone else's name. Or the shame I
feel because my brain just does not work that way. And I can
never explain it.
Sometimes, problem resolution comes so slowly that people think I
have forgotten about them. I have learned to say "thinking" out
loud while the voices arbitrate. But then you have read this and
think I am crazy or are putting you on. Sorry, I do not know how
thinking is supposed to happen. I do know that some parts of my
thinking are different. I do not know to what extent. And I
do know that in the last few years that the vision thing is all but
gone (except when viewing one of those darn machines) and that I can no
longer count on getting answers from the side that does not talk as
well as the side that does.
I heard once that it is OK to talk to yourself. It is just not
OK to answer. How do you get answers to questions if you do not
This weekend I am going to visit Megan in Berkeley. This will
be the first trip in my new Ford Ranger. I need to be out of
town for the holiday. With $4 gasoline now and predictions of $5
by the Fourth of July, the trip will be expensive but that is why I
bought the most fuel efficient Ranger. The problem as I see it,
El Golfo will be overrun with tourists for several reasons:
Every year more people arrive with their quads and unsupported
beliefs. They believe that there are no laws in Mexico or it
least none that they need to obey. They are wrong on both
counts. Although Mexican laws are rarely enforced, they have
teeth. You can go to long terms in prison if you cross the wrong
policeman. There are other laws. These are imposed harshly
and consistently. They are the laws of physics:
Every holiday we have people die on their or by their quads. A
few holidays back a woman on a quad stopped in the middle of a busy
intersection. I mean right in the middle. She waved at the
cars and trucks approaching her from all 4 directions. She
resided in the CRA park. I saw her a few minutes later. I
was one of the people who almost killed her. She was not drunk --
just stupid. She arrived in the clubhouse while I was still
shaking. She was not even aware of the problems she had
caused. It could have been worse. As it happened, people
were just angry and would have liked to see her dead before she caused
the deaths of other people. In a poblado, you have unmarked
crossings and people approach them with some caution but there are
occasional collisions and many near misses. Nobody expects
anybody to stop dead in the middle and wave. Yes, we are all doing
about 20 mph but driving in sand is not the same as driving on
asphalt. You cannot stop. You cannot accelerate. You
can turn sort of like you are on water skis. I was surprised no
one was hurt in this incident. Easter week this year only 4
people died. One little girl. No I am not a pedophile but
everyone has the God-given right to determine their own life. A
life snuffed out by a stupid person hurts doubly. First because
the child should not have died. Second, the person who killed the
child does not have the brains to accept responsibility for the death
of the child. I guess if they did have the brains to understand
what an atrocity they have performed they would not have done it.
You have no idea what a line a mile long in 4 directions can do to a
4-way stop. Only Americans in the entire world will honor a
waiting line and they only do it in America. When the road is one
and half lanes wide and half of the vehicles are quads you delve into
the concept of chaos. Not mathematical chaos. This chaos is
more like anarchy. Other Mexican beach cities have banned
quads. El Golfo is the only one left. And the others have
Enough. I am also stopping at the SKP park near
Coarsegold. They have informed me that I am number 50 on the
waiting list. That means that I need to make the decision to live
there within the year.
Park of the Sierras. It is the most beautiful RV park I have
ever seen. Each site (and there are 400 of them) is separately
landscaped, some with little brooks. Many trees and
gardens. If you love the mountains, as I do, and can live with
cold but not freezing and you like the open space of a grand clubhouse
and you like the people of SKP, then this is the home of your
dreams. You can grow old watching the world from up above it all
and away from the crowds. The local town is 10 miles up the road.
Fresno, the big city, is 50 miles down the road. The Costco and
Home Depot are about the third exit. Walmart about the fifth.
I have my reservation on the waiting list. I have arrived at
the park and discover that I am no longer number 50. I am now
number 26. 25. 24. This is not a good
thing. Here is my problem. They want me to visit more
often so that I can get to know the members. And I am reminded
that it is a cooperative: I must contribute work hours each week.
How many hours and at what tasks are not defined. Because it is
the first thing that I am welcomed with on each visit, I am concerned
about two things. The hours may be excessive. That one is
obvious. The second reason though is not so obvious. If
this is the highest priority item on the plate then what about the
important things. Social skills. Divertido.
Smiles. I saw so dew smiles.
Currently I live in a town where the oldest person I know is
myself. Oh, we have gringo tourists and members of CRA who are
older but they are seasonal. My friends average about 30 years
old. They still enjoy the life that awaits them. To veer
from SKP, today in Maggie's restaurant we suddenly heard a loud squeal
and everyone turned to the direction of the video game, The
little girl using it was hidden by the ice freezer. She had just
won 20 pesos and was shocked and elated. We all were proud of
Carol and her smiles did not end the entire time I was there.
Tonight I ate a the little taco restaurant at the main corner of
town. I was greeted with smiles. My tacos had double the
meat on them as when I first came. Children (and adults) waved at
me from the passing cars and pickups. Earlier this week someone
stopped and called me by name in the local Welton fruteria. This
was 50 miles from home. Last night while waiting for my laundry,
I sat on the beach and watched the sunset. An average sunset
here. Spectacular up north.
Look at the SKP park. People go to rest homes to die.
The SKP park is not a rest home. If they think you are about to
die, you must leave. But the people who live their have enjoyed
their past lives and live happily landscaping and helping each
other. I would be one of the youngest in the park watching what I
would become. And if my heart got worse, I leave. Where I
am, it is possible to live however I want and be appreciated for what I
can contribute and to continually hear the squeals of little children
and their surprises.
I may not be the most amiable person but when I see old people, even
in CRA, I do not feel like one of them. Megan says I am a
bigot. I dislike old people. I dislike Americans. I
dislike Caucasians in general. I hate Republicans. I should
live in an RV park composed exclusively of this crowd. I have
trouble with the concept.
I visited the park twice. Once before I got to Berkeley and
again leaving. I did not feel better the second time. I felt
worse. The waiting list is a refuge that I do not want to lose
but at this point it is an emergency exit. I will need
another $10,000 to move to the park. Plus monthly
maintenance plus the $2,000 (minimum) to get my RV up there.
You know. There is a problem here as I think about it. I
am an illegal alien. To live here I need a visa permit permitting
this. Instead I use a tourist permit. Tourist permits are
not renewable. They are good for a maximum of 180 days.
After 180 days, you count on their computer system to forget who you
are or just live with the expired permit. I have done both.
I have friends who tell me that if I have difficulties with the local
authorities, they can help. I live in my RV on a lot. A
beautiful lot. I am taking advantage of the life style that this
permits. I am taking advantage of the social structure that
permits kids to wave at me and stop me to see if I have any toys or
candy for them. A four year old little girl saying "por favor"
and a smile on her face hoping that my car is not empty this
week. I would pay to live here. But I do not have to.
I have been promised two other sites if I need to leave here where the
rent is the same: nothing. One of the sites is on the
beach. The beach is pretty. Really pretty. But the weekend
and seasonal noise from the motorcycles can prevent sleep for days at a
time. But the bottom line is that I may cross the border any time
I want. I can buy food on either side. I can see doctors on
either side. I can do what is legal on each side. But my
life in this wonderland is illegal. I m an illegal alien who to
date has slipped through the cracks in the system. I hope to do
this for many years.
Oops. I have been adding to my Politics page but not my
history. I went up to see Megan across the Memorial Day
Weekend. The last place I wanted to be was home in El
Golfo. I think that that is the last time I shall ever wish to be
away from home again. I mean I like to visit Megan but life in
the EEUU has gone berserk. In the next few days I shall amplify
Coming home from Berkeley I had made it over the Grapevine hill and
was now in a traffic jam. The lighted signs said the right lane was
closed ahead due to an accident. I know. To me it is ALL
Los Angeles. I am in the right lane. I know I need to move
left soon. So just as I am arriving at the police
barricades. A car on my left, a little, red, Pontiac-type car
rams the large, expensive, Class A Motorhome in front of it. I
mean the guy went from a dead stop to a serious ram in the space of 20
feet. I am sure that the people in the RV were shook up but the
RV weighs 10 tons more than the Pontiac. This means that the guy
rammed the trailer hitch. I did not see any damage to the RV (I
was really about 15 feet away when it happened) but it put a large
vertical "V" in the front of the Pontiac. At this point my lane
was moving. The RV moved to the shoulder behind me. To my
surprise, the Pontiac raced past me on the shoulder. This
happened while I was trying to find my phone, dial 911, and not have
the same problem with the car in front of me. I was succeeding in
all but dialing the 911. And I was approaching the police and
California has a law against making cell phone calls while you are
driving. I thought of pursuing the red car up to the barriers but
with my luck really bad things would happen if I did that and I would
be there in a few seconds anyway. The 911 call was answered by a
recording. "If this is a real emergency, press ANY key". I could
not see which key I pressed as a car did what I had thought of doing:
it was chasing the red car up to the barricade. The call was
answered. In Spanish. My Spanish is not good enough for a
911 call. "Ingles, por favor". I hung up two minutes later
as I had been transferred to a ringing phone which went
unanswered. Just as well. The pursuing car stopped at the
barricades and a CHP officer jumped into his car and pursued the
Pontiac. This is just where I-210 splits off of I-5 I saw
neither of them ahead of me on I-210 so I presume the pursuing police
officer made the correct choice. I also presume that he got his
man. I had tried to memorize the red car's license but I am
limited to how many things I can do at once. And as you know,
memorizing is not my forte. I was 7 years old before I could
remember my own name. And I never did get the spelling right.
But it made me angry. I am sure that the CHP got their
guy. But the 911 call was a bad thing. I had really hoped
that I would have gotten a call back to find out if the reason I hung
up was because I was maybe dead. I guess Los Angeles does not
take 911 seriously. After all there are a lot of people here and
I guess they have their own priorities. What if the car had
rammed me and I had a broken neck and the last thing I could do was
dial 911? What would you do if I skipped more than one month and
then disappeared? You would have nothing else to fill your
It is summer. It is hot. It has gotten humid. Yuma has started
getting monsoon rains and maybe we shall get them here soon. There has
already been on Pacific hurricane down south but nothing in our
I have gotten used to my new Ford Ranger.
I have also gotten used to the sore back muscles after driving it for a
day. Two things: the seat is not comfortable and the truck is
unstable at highway speeds. The 4-cylinder is definitely
under-powered. It drops down a gear just to run the AC -- and in
AUgust there is always the AC.
I always save my bottles and cans for recycling. Mostly I
enjoy getting my California CRV tax returned. I ran into a new
one yesterday when I tried to cross. They asked me if I had
anything from Mexico. I gave the usual response: no. I mean
when I sit in my car waiting for the border I usually have a bottle of
soda and maybe a couple of tamales. This time I was in a hurry:
the bottles were in the bags and none next to me. A few on the
floor that had not made it to a bag yet. I drink a lot of
soda. All diet. Light in Mexico. But they asked about
the bottles of gasoline and the empty bottles in the bags. I have
two 8-liter red, California safety-topped gasoline bottles and 5 bags
of recycle bottles. They are unhappy about the gas. I tell
them (from previous crossings) that they are looking for 5-gallon
cans/bottles of diesel. These two little red bottles are not on
their list. OK.
But the recycle bottles include, inside, one Mexican bottle on the
top of one of the bags. If they are unhappy, I shall take it out
and give it to them. This would be the procedure if I had an
avocado or a ham sandwich. No. An empty soda bottle is a
different problem. I am sent to the secondary area. I grab
my papers and get out. No. Get back in your car. The
problem is not that I have the bottle. THe problem is that it is
my intent to recycle the bottles. This makes the bottles a
commercial enterprise and I am importing a foreign product for
resale. THis must be taxed. The tax on a bottle for which I
shall receive 4 pennies is probably not a whole lot but I must go
through a commercial gate to pay the tax. Algodones does not have
a commercial gate so I must go back into Mexico and leave through
either San Luis or Mexicali using a commercial gate.
I ask if there are any other choices. There are 3:
I decide on the last. The Mexican border guard considers the
bottles trash and does not want to let me return. I point out
that they are for resale as recycling. This is acceptable and I
return to the line for the USA. While waiting, I hop to the
back and search the bags. Good thing. There were actually 6
bottles from Mexico. I contribute 15 pesos to the Teen Drug
Abatement canister and a Mexican happily takes my 6 empty pop
bottles. Had they been full and I drank them and then recycled
them there would have been no problem. I can take full bottles
into he USA. I cannot take empty bottles unless I wish to discard
them along the highway.
The process cost me an extra 40 minutes of waiting in line.
More gas. More AC. SOmetimes I really wonder about these
guys. Maybe the sun gets to them.
Last time in the USA a couple of weeks ago, I asked Hewitt (dba
that my home address be changed from El Centro to Yuma. With the
new Cigna health plan it turns out home address makes no difference but
it is the only reason I maintain the Celexico mail box. I also
want to have doctors in Yuma so I am not splitting my trips between the
two cities as I always end up in Yuma regardless. And after
the fiasco a couple of months ago with lost payments, I figured I
should verify the address change. I had gone on the Web the night
before and found my logon still expected me to be in California.
I had been assured before that the lost check was corrected.
Moreover before they credited the lost check the most I was behind 1/2
payment since I always carry a credit balance. With the check
credited, I am a 1/2 payment ahead.
So I was astounded when Cigna told me that my insurance had been
canceled last May. Their web page did not say so. Hewitt
did not say so. Nothing. But I am in serious health
meltdown. I talked with a most helpful woman, TIna, at
Hewitt who promised me that she would correct the situation immediately
. But immediately means two or three days. She started with
2 weeks but I informed her that I had imminent heart failure (true) and
needed to make sure that my insurance, insurance I had paid for,
payments that they have on record, notes they have on record to NEVER
cancel my insurance, my insurance was there when I needed it. And
I do need it.
So I put off seeing a cardiologist and will attempt to do so again
next week. If no insurance next week, they get the bill and I
send another report to the California insurance commissioner who
forwards the complaint to the NLRB. Even with GWB in the White
House, the NLRB has not been castrated -- yet.
I could be like others and cancel my insurance. But it costs
only half of market insurance and it is good insurance (not as good as
before but good). And Siemens owes it to me. That is the
bottom line. It is the only retirement benefit that I have
claimed. But between Siemens and Hewitt, they want to hassle
their retirees to the point that they cancel their insurance.
Cancellation is permanent. So Siemens/Hewitt wants people so
frustrated and so angry that they drop out. I have friends who
could not handle the bullshit and did drop out. I am pigheaded
enough that they cannot make me drop out. Eventually I may have
to but not now. New year I turn 65 and have to have the medicare
coverage. Then the Siemens becomes the extra that other s need a
contract for. My price goes up and my coverage goes down and that
may be the time to look elsewhere. But if I have heart failure
again, the question may become mute. I may become mute.
So I buy my stuff and head back home. I bought a
birthday cake for Liz. Walmart had a sale on mirrors so I bought
a mirror too. An easy birthday present.
Labor Day passed with the usual crazy tourists. The lines at
the Pemex were long. But there were many fewer tourists. The CRA
park tells me they are expecting fewer people there this season.
I would expect that as even the dedicated members still have to pay for
the trip and they can stay in Yuma or Parker just as easily and save
the expense of coming to Mexico. Some of them still buy their
insurance from rip-off places like R. L. Jones and that makes the trip
more expensive. But the real reason for fewer is that fewer were
here last year before the price increases and we can expect those that
did come to also be reduced. Why? The new owner policies
make the place much less desirable. No bar or restaurant.
Fewer 'staff" positions (although sometimes I think I am the only staff
to be eliminated). In other words, the family spirit of the park
is gone and now it is much like other parks. Oh. There are
Joe and Dee and a few others who will work their hearts out to improve
the place but even their hearts are not big enough to cover the
Grinch. When the new highway opens more people will want to visit
the park. I still think the best thing they could do is open the
east side as a separate park for non-members. It is not my
problem any more.
Yesterday, the 4th, I felt an earthquake at about 3:00 in the
afternoon. Now there have been times that I thought I felt one
before but this time I knew I felt it. The trees were not
blowing. The levelers were not settling. The RV was just
gently rocking back and forth. I thought for about 15 seconds but
it could have been less. I went to the computer and waited for
something to show up on the earthquake map. A 4.6 quake occurred
just north of 43 (Guadeloupe Victoria). I talked with friends
later and they told me they felt it in San Luis, MX tambien. The
earthquake center has a really stupid form to fill out if you felt the
quake. There are many entries but as they point out the ONLY
required entry is ZIP code. I think if they are going to require
ZIP code then they should stop reporting Mexican earthquakes. I
really do not want then to do that but come on guys show some level of
intelligence here. I know I shall upset their stats but I entered
the Yuma zip code and told the comments that I was in Mexico. It
has been a while since I felt an earthquake that I knew was an
(Repeat VERSE 1)
(VERSE 2: SLOWLY):
(VERSE 3: SLOWLY)
(I may have gotten the verses and choruses very confused).
This is an old song from about 1951. I hope no one objects to my listing the lyrics here. In any case, once in your head, the song repeats itself for hours. This to me was just a catchy jingle -- until I moved to El Golfo. I am always slow on the uptake and always too fast with the temper. I hate this but I am too old to change it. It is sort of biological -- and it is getting worse.
But here is the point. The women are waving good-bye to their
not just because they will be gone until they are loaded with
shrimp. That is the easy part. Shrimp boats are
small. The ocean is large.
And like me, the sea is very quick to anger. The wind can change
instantly from dead calm to a storm and with no cloud in site.
the clouds come. Then comes the rain. And it is often at
The tides determine when the shrimp boats go out and come back and the
tides change daily. When the wind changes, you head your boat
back for home. You watch and smell and feel and pray. You
watch for the marker signal lights. You watch the other boats.
So when the boats leave, the women wave good-bye and they pray. And they pray.
And when they see the white waves or the tree branches waving, they
pray some more. The song is joyful and it should be -- but there
is death out there in that ocean. Some of the men do not come
back. If you live in a fishing town for any number of years, you
will know someone who has died or has lost a spouse or a son to the
sea. Every day you watch the horizon and you wait.
A friend of mine told me that as an engineer in the computer
business, we had a perverted view of the world: computer
engineers do not die at the office except for ignoring their
health. He was correct. People I knew in my work die of
heart attacks, cancer, and strokes but usually after they have
retired. In the real world, where people work with their hands
and are outside in the weather, they are more exposed to the realities
of life and death. I would not die for a shrimp or even a large fish. So, for all of you people who leave your homes
every day and risk your lives in your work, I salute you.
<>I need a new bank, Washington Mutual (WaMu) is history.
Last year I banked with Netbank. I liked them. They had
good services and they had a good web page. When they went broke,
ING took over. ING is a disaster in every respect. No paper
statements for months. Online service canceled. Online
history canceled. Hours on the phone asking for statements and
check copies wasted. I can only presume based upon balances on
the ING account of what were paid and what were not. And ANY
history is gone. The IRS hates me. I am sure I shall be
audited for the next 10 years. They already sent me notices
requesting proof ot this years payments.
As soon as I could, I moved my money from ING to a different
back. I always have two checking accounts. As you know, I
am paranoid. I always have an option. Sometimes I need the
option but this was the first time that I lost control of
everything. When Netbank was taken over, ING promised
transparency. Bullshit. Automatic payments were not
made. In fact, no payments were made and without access to
anywhere, it was impossible to discover what had happened. I was
out hundreds of dollars in late fees by the time I got myself moved out
of ING. I should have known better than to trust a bank.
So, this time when I discover that WaMu has been taken over by
Chase, I shall move my money to a new account at a new bank as soon as
possible. Two reasons. The first is that I do not want
Chase to repeat the ING disaster. Second, I carry a Chase VISA
card. I never have my checking account in the same bank as a
primary credit card.
You will never convince me that this "financial emergency" to donate
$700B to $1T to the banks to pay them off for writing bad contracts is
not just another means of banks consolidating and becoming bigger and
more powerful. The "financial emergency" is an interesting ploy:
after robbing millions of their homes, the banks are now collecting
from everyone. It sounds like a bad movie -- and our elected
representatives -- rather than confronting the banks -- have collapsed
into bickering over paychecks to fleeing CEOs -- but the biggest banks
will get their money while the smaller banks are cannibalized.
And my grandchildren will be paying back the $1 trillion in taxes for
all of their lives. And our glorious leader, GWB, says that it is
not his fault: none of his people saw it coming? What lies.
If no one saw it coming why did he have a payoff plan ready to go?
Not much has happened. Life in the place where the dominant
word is "tranquilo". The 24th I leave for Berkeley for a
week. But I was watching a director's narrative of a movie and
started thinking about climate. I think that people have little
knowledge of life outside their own neighborhood. So I give you a
few descriptions here.
Yes, there are other cold places. Cold is really cold.
In the winter we would see lower than -40 degrees. Below -10 it
is sort of the same. Any skin exposed is frozen. I mean damaged
frozen. Your hair will freeze from condensation and your hair
breaks. You cover your face with a scarf and have clothing on all
of the rest. Gloves. Serious gloves. My mother never believed me
that I wanted fur-lined gloves. She believed the store clerks who
told her that the red lined cloves were better. That store clerk
never lived in real cold. Plastic in your car breaks. Your
battery freezes solid overnight. You may live inside but you must
go outside to protect your car and clear your sidewalk. Salt does
not help -- you need sand and gravel, an ice pick, and a good
shovel. I have friends who would like to go there and experience
it. Drive in the snow and ice. I tell them that they do not
want to do this. Go to Michigan (lower), Illinois or Indiana for
a visit and then tell me you want to see real cold. I kid you not
-- your eyes can freeze if you do not cover your face. Antarctica
is warmer in December than WIsconsin. And yes, you will lose part
of your tongue if it touches steel -- and it hurts. And if you
must stay outside to survive, get under the snow.
The desert will kill you. Every part of the desert is
dangerous. Animals, insects, snakes, spiders. Any of them
are dangerous. But this is about climate. It gets cold at
night in the winter. Not WIsconsin cold but cold enough that you
need blankets or jackets. But the heat is something that you need
to experience to understand. Plastic melts. Close your car doors
and windows and leave off your windshield screen and you can actually
return to melted knobs and dash controls. Not so much any more as
we have better plastic but 30 years ago this was a serious
problem. But the heat is real and there and all day long.
Shade helps but the numbers you heat like "130" degrees is in the
shade. In the sun it is hot. If you stay in the heat, you
will die. Your brain can only accept a limited range of
temperatures. If your feet are cold, your brain is stealing your
heat: wear a hat to keep your feet warm. In the desert, there is
no remedy to keep your head cool. Wear a hat to keep the
sun off your brain. wear a head scarf to get evaporative cooling
to your head. Drink lots of water or your blood will get too
thick. Thick blood does not cool your brain. Stay in the
shade. Sun block is necessary. Not sun tan lotion. Look for
SPF starting at 40 and go up. Zinc coat your nose. Wear
long sleeve shirts or gobs of sunblock. Sunblock will not stop
the drying. You need lotion too, Sun glasses. Your
eyes will dry out. Blink a lot. Spray water on your
face. Do not look at the sun -- with or without glasses.
People die in the desert. This is a mantra. A fact of life.
Then there is the dust. Up north the snow can blizzard and
limit your vision. DOwn south the rain can be so dense that it is
like being in a bathtub. In the desert the sand and dust can get
so thick that seeing more than 3 feet is impossible. And sand
hurts. And your eyes can get sand blasted. I kid you
not. I have two HEPA air filters running fulltime in my RV.
I have filters on my AC units. Others screens. After a dust
storm I have maybe 1/16th of an inch of dust all over everything.
And my filters need serious cleaning. Every couple weeks, I take
out my car air filter and shake out the dirt. It gets changed
with the oil every 3500 miles. And if your are driving during a
storm, pull off to the side, turn off the lights, take your foot off
the brakes (your lights will become a target to the oncoming
traffic). Do this while you can still see: do not wait for it to
be totally dark from the sand. Even the light sand will remove
paint. Before I learned this, my van had frosted glass and the
entire front of the van was bare metal.
Maybe you live where there are tornados. Maybe
hurricanes. Maybe earthquakes. Every place has its hazards
but the heat and the cold are annual and you either learn to live with
them or you leave. You do not like the other choices and if you
have not lived in one of these climates, do not make the mistake that
it is just like where you are except maybe warmer or cooler. The
temperature maps do not give you any idea what is going on in those
I guess I shall never learn. I had picked up Marisol and
Betito for a trip to Yuma for Christmas pickups and presents. From her house the
San Luis crossing is on the way to Algodones -- so we
checked. The line was very short so we tried to cross. Bad
mistake. When I got to the kiosk, the guard checked our IDS
verified we had nothing from Mexico. He then told me that my car was
"marked" for secondary inspection. It is not paranoia: San Luis
Border Patrol actually seeks me out. I was never "marked" when I crossed
at other check points. Never. We took our IDs and drove to
the back. The sign said "Stay by your vehicle". "By" is not
inside so I stood next to the car. Bad mistake again. They
yelled at me when the finally came out of their warm building" "Get
back in your vehicle." I made the mistake of presuming that Border
Patrol people understood English. Sorry. After again
verifying IDs, they sent us inside the building and ordered us to sit
down. They also informed me that I had to possess my wallet.
Because of their casual attitude and the "marked" car and the wallet
requirement, after about 20 minutes I presumed I would be arrested and
hoped that they would not also arrest Marisol and Betito.
No. The entire effort was just one of harassment. The made
a quick perusal of the car during this time. I know. I had not
sat down since they intentionally place the chairs in a location from which
you cannot see what they are doing. The INS (or whatever they
call themselves these days) want everything they do to be a
have more rights as an American citizen inside Mexico than you have
while crossing the border back into the United States. The INS
presumes you are under arrest and guilty until they release you.
It is one of those situations that when they say jump, you ask "how
high?" otherwise you may really find yourself under arrest and discover
where they have their retention cell. Every time I cross at San
Luis they find some way to harass me. You learn to hate the INS
when you discover it is intentional.
As usual I spent too much on Christmas again. I guess all of the time spent crying in my room on Christmas day while I was young has left an indelible mark. I worked really hard to make Christmas special for my children. These days I make it special for my friends wherever I am. I finally spent Christmas in El Golfo. Zero tourists this week. With no school all week, the city looked like an inhabited ghost town. Christmas in Mexico is celebrated Christmas eve. Christmas dinner is the night before Christmas. I promised Maggi that I would have Christmas with her but when I went to the restaurant, she was in San Luis. I spent the evening with Marisol's family at the house of Angelica's mother in law. They spent the evening making tamales. If you do not know, a lot of work that goes into making a tamale.
I went home early. They open presents at midnight. Not a chance I would stay awake that long. I wonder when Santa has time to deliver presents between dinner and present-opening time.
At the Library there was a line of children and adults. They
were passing out candy and toys to the poor children. Here that
is most of them but they know who is really poor and who is not.
The toys are cheap and probably only last the day. Wrapped in red
cellophane. I did not see what was in the candy package but it
was good sized. Enough to send the kid to the dentist. I
saw a couple of my neighbors in line so I stopped to give them
lollipops. This is before I understood the reason for having the
line. After passing out a few lollipops, I saw most of the line
standing at my car door. I said I was out and left. The
Mexican kids are smart. They quickly realized that I would run
out before the social center did. They got what they could and
returned to the social center line.
In any case, it is two days later and Marisol has returned to San
Luis and left me with her puppy for a few days. It is really a
nice puppy although there is no attempt in Mexico to house break
dogs. Dogs belong outside. Unless it is a chihuahua. Chihuahua
s get to stay inside -- otherwise they may be stolen. Weird this
place Mexico. For two days now it has gotten into the 30's during
the night. Cold. Really cod.
Next week I shall go out the Algodones gate. I wonder if I can
blame the INS harassment on Bush. Probably but I shall never know.