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Year 2009 – Dido Comes Into My Life

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Political Commentary

This year I have kept the political commentary in a separate location.  Similarly, thoughts and observations are in a separate file.  This file will attempt to stay restricted to my current history.

JANUARY

Bandido The Dog - Bandido

Bandido  I inherited this puppy and wrote so much about him that I separated his life from mine.  Click on the picture to get to the dog's file.

My Leg

Mari agreed to keep the dog for the day while I went across the border for blood tests.  She promised to be there early when I arrived.  I needed a menu of tests as I have consistently complained of tiredness.  I took my monthly INR test in 57 as I like the consistency and I had no standing order from Susie available for the American lab.

But, as I have learned -- never trust a woman to keep a schedule.  Mari was not home. She was at the Mexican government office with her sister to get a birth certificate.  No, I could not take the puppy to her and no, she would not leave her sister.  But in the almost completed new house, the puppy had been kept in a back bedroom while it was with them.  Leave puppy there and she would attend to him when she got home.  Right.

Sure enough, right where she said it was, was a large section of 3-ply wood.  And there was water in the room and a section of unfinished concrete where puppy could do his jobs.  I left puppy eating and put the 3-ply in the doorway and left.  Puppy climbed the 3-ply (as I have come to find out, puppy is a good climber) and was happily trotting along next to me.  I got a bigger piece of 3-ply and walked around it then placed it firmly against the doorway.  No. Puppy forced his nose between the wood and door frame and again was happily trotting along next to me.

I got a 4x8 section of 3-ply , put it in the doorway and propped the original up against it.  No way out for the puppy.  Nor any way out for me.  But the windows were not framed and I climbed out the window.  The ground was further down than I expected and I landed on my left foot.  I expected this but I instantly discovered that my foot could not take my body weight without damage to my ankle.  I went down to my knee but my knee had the same problem: it would break if I kept my weight on it.  So I collapsed onto my left side as I hit the ground.  My thigh and shoulder took the weight.  I was OK and the puppy could not follow.  A few yips and I was gone.

By the time I got to the blood lab I could barely walk and was using my walking stick to hold my weight.  By the time I got to WalMart I could barely stand up at all.  I begrudged the woman who obviously could move much faster than myself for taking the last motorized shopping cart. It hurt.  I should have gone straight to bed but you know me.  Maybe most men.  By the time I got to Mari's and picked up the dog I was in so much pain that I did not even try to stand up.  The dog was happy to leave.  I was surprised.   I noticed Beto again was kicking the dog in the mouth for biting.  More training, less Beto.

By morning, even with the hotpad, I could not stand up.  As you know, most painkiller medicine contains aspirin or Ibuprofen -- precluded by my Warfarin.  Tylenol my be good for women's cramps but I have never met a man for whom it was any use at all.  That includes me.  I tried a few Tylenol.  I threw them up.  I could not walk up and down my steps.  The dog went hungry that day.  Sunday, I crawled down the steps and fed the dog and then crawled back up.  My thigh hurt so much and would take no weight at all.  My shoulder hurt but I did not worry about that.

What I did worry about was internal bleeding.  That is how the Warfarin kills rats.  It could do the same for me.  But there were no black and blue marks.  Just pain.  Monday I went to the doctor who quickly examined me and assured me that it was just a badly bruised muscle and I would walk again in a week.  In a week, I could walk but it hurt and the steps were a real problem.  Now my knee let its vote count: it could not take weight even if my thigh could take weight.  No complaints from my ankle.

FEBRUARY

So now it is the first week of February.  As of Sunday most of the pain is gone.  My weak knee still votes occasionally but for the most part, I am back to normal.  Puppy is his usual self.

I shall have Ernesto wash and wax the RV this week when I go to San Luis with the puppy.  He needs his vaccinations to cross the border.  Interesting.  In California for the dog to travel outside, he needs to be cross-tied so that he cannot jump or fall out.  In California and Arizona, if he is inside, he has to have good ventilation.  I have found no laws regarding crossing the border for him to be in or out.  I think some guards could get bitten by less amiable dogs.

Hank Aaron Turns 75 or The Day I Stopped Watching Baseball

I cannot even tell you which year.  Somewhere around 1965.  There were rumors that the Milwaukee Braves were moving to Atlanta.  The rumors were so pervasive that Hank Aaron, number 44, the fielding, home hitting star of the team went on TV and denied the move.  Additionally, he stated that if he were wrong and the team moved, he himself would stay in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee is an ethnic city.  Strong cultural values.  German, Polish, Italian, family types.  Russians.  Integrity and family count for a lot in Milwaukee.  The Braves announced the very next day after Hank Aaron's TV speech that they were moving to Atlanta and that nothing was going to stop them. Hank stopped making speeches for a while as he also moved to Atlanta.  I stopped watching baseball. 

I know: they were all gone too. Andy Pafco, Lew Burdettte, Warren Spahn, Johnny Logan, Del Crandel, Red Shoendienst.  I could name them all.  But they did not go on TV and lie to their loyal fans.  They just left with the team.

30 years later when my employer provided an afternoon off work,  a free bus ride,  a free sweatshirt, and a free ticket to the San Francisco Giants game, I continued at my desk working. Not even a second thought.  Not holding a grudge.  There was just no interest left in watching a dead game.

I hear a lot of old names attached to new cities.  I hear a lot of new names attached to old cities -- and new cities. There is still a World Series.  When, as a kid in the summer, there was a bus from the Wauwatosa Athletic Center to a Braves game, I went every chance.  The bleachers right over left-center field.  Milwaukee County Stadium.  The Knothole Club.  35 cents.  Hot dogs and soda were extra.  Sunburn.  All of it.  And it all died that day -- it died the day that Henry Aaron could no longer be my hero.

MARCH

The Highway -- Really Bad News

The new highway to Puerto Peñasco is open.  It ends a couple of kilometers north of town abutting the highway from El Golfo to San Luis.  I understand that this is a good highway.  I hope so because now it is a disaster for travel to San Luis.  South of El Doctor, major stretches are under reconstruction.  The reconstruction apparently will go from El Doctor right into El Golfo.  When this is completed, the dirt detours will be gone and maybe also the dangerous S-curve on the cliff side.

The dirt detours are tolerable except when you get behind one of 18-wheelers.  Then the dust is so high you cannot see and since the truck driver is Mexican, he does not slow down on detours.  Mostly I do not either but then I am not creating a wall of dirt.

But north of El Doctor is a different problem.  The highway between San Luis and El Golfo was designed for cars and farm implements.  It was not intended for commercial trucking traffic or the truckloads of dirt being hauled in both directions.  I understand the commercial traffic: a couple hundred miles have just been excised from the trip from the EEUU to Puerto Peñasco and the new highway is open road to them.  I do not understand the truckloads of dirt.  I see these big semi-sized trucks carrying dirt.  Sometimes north and sometimes south.  From where I sit, dirt is dirt.  Transporting it in both directions makes no sense to me.  But then I am not a Mexican -- yet.

There are some potholes on the old highway.  A few are refilled with asphalt.  Not many.  Some are refilled with sand.  Again, not many.  The potholes may be deep enough to ruin your wheel alignment.  But the real problem is that these heavy trucks have removed entire sections of asphalt.  There are bands across the road where there is no asphalt, only underlying gravel or sand.  Not just a couple of these.  Many of these and they vary from about 3 meters wide to about 30 meters.  At the current rate, there shall be no asphalt at all between Riito and El Doctor in a few more months.  And there will be broken axles and blown tires.  And no one seems to care.  All of the attention is on the new highway south of El Doctor and, if we are lucky, these repairs will be completed in another year.  It may become safer to shop in Tucson than Yuma.  Tourists leaving El Golfo are now using that route.

The El Golfo Economy

Bad and getting worse.  

There are not so many drug pongas arriving in El Golfo now.  Most are ending their northward trek in Puerto Peñasco -- now that the drugs can be driven along the new highway across the border.  Fishermen are learning new trades as there are fewer fish.  Corvina are running this week so when the wind is down, the fishermen are out.  But for the last year we have had too much wind.  I was given a corvina last night.  This will feed me for a week.  Longer if I liked fish head soup -- which I do not.

My neighbor just opened a new restaurant: "El Cameron Feliz".  It is a good restaurant and it is getting a lot of business from the RV park.  And a couple of local police have started eating there instead of at Magui's.  Magui moves out of her building next month and expanding her home to be the restaurant.  In another month, neither will have much business as the tourist season ends at Easter --Semana Sancta.

This will be a problem.  I mean Semana Sancta will be a problem.  Holy Week is always the high point of tourism in El Golfo.  The businesses are already gearing up for it.  Between the bad highway and the notices to not visit Mexico put out by the American government and the newspapers, I doubt there will be many tourists.  Either problem but not both problems together will keep all but the most die-hard tourists away.  Semana Sancta for El Golfo is like Christmas for American merchants: it can be an all or nothing for them.  People from Phoenix or Tucson can come through Puerto Peñasco but anyone from California or Yuma will find disaster in front of them.

The Papal Conundrum

This pope has diarrhea of the mouth and seems to really be out of touch. With all of his words, the only communication seems to rival my buddy at the El Golfo Times.  I shall concede that it took me 60 years to see the light and realize that the entire Jesus story is a hoax but then so is the Muslim story, etc.  But religion has its place for people who need something more than common sense to have moral values.  I have no grudge with them except when they insist upon invading the world with their prejudices.  This pope seems to be really good at this.  He reinstates a bishop who denies the holocaust --  within a month of the bishop reiterating his stance in a public forum and again after he is reinstated.

But going to Africa and telling people to not use condoms is sick.  Yes, I know the Catholic teaching that killing sperm without it being given a chance to impregnate a woman is a sin.  This sin includes condoms, masturbation, early withdrawal , any device keeping the sperm from an ovum, any chemical preventing the ovum from accepting the sperm, and any chemical modulating the metabolism of the woman to restrict the ova or prevent them from attaching to her if and when it is fertilized.  I guess male "wet" dreams do not count as killing sperm.  We all know what they call women who follow the church teachings on what time of the month they should permit sex.

But enough.  The problem is that this pope has gone to Africa and denounced condoms.  Condoms are the single device available to reduce AIDS/HIV.  This puts him in the unique position of denying that the world has changed in 2000 years -- and then it was a better world.  It has changed in 40 years.  While I was a college student, you could be sent to jail for buying a condom (Wisconsin state law).  Now you can be sent to jail for not using a condom (if you knowingly have an STD).

Africa is a place where the mores of the western world have been accepted very slowly.  The Christian man-of-one-wife is new to them.  Sex with only one person is not the norm and so the spread of STD's has been a serious problem.  How do you slow down the spread of STD's?  Use a condom.  How do you condemn a continent to painful death? Do not use a condom.  And remember where these STD's came from: they came from men not having freedom of sex with women and using substitutes (sheep and monkeys).  Does this pope really believe that he can roll the clock back 2000 years.  I think he would discover that the only difference between then and now is mass communication and improved condoms.  I doubt seriously that sex habits changed for the worse since Jesus.

The really bad thing is that these teachings encourage the concept that people who go against the law (God's or man's) deserve what they get.  Condemning a person to AIDs because they did not follow your God's law is so perverted that I find it unbelievable that they have not impeached this pope.

APRIL

Going To Mexico -- The New Border Patrol

Last year or so I saw the Border Patrol checking card going south into Mexico.  That was one time and I presume they had a singular purpose.  As of Thursday (April 2) they seem to have installed themselves permanently.  At San Luis, the usual two-three lanes going south with the orange plastic barricades forcing some separation are gone.  Now there is one lane with the orange barricades forcing all traffic through into a row of Border Patrol agents peering into each car.  I did not see a dog but I figure from the news clips that there was one.

I hope that the northbound San Luis Border Patrol apes do not talk to the southbound people or I shall become a harassment target in both directions.  In any case the rush hour traffic jam south if they keep the one-lane funnel will become a nightmare on the American side.

They talk about weighing cars going into Mexico.  This is an interesting concept.  My gas tank hold 20 gallons. 4 quarts to a gallon.  2 pints to a quart.  one pound for each pint.   160 pounds of gasoline.  In other words, if I just to to the USA and fill up the gas tank, I weight 160 pounds more going south.  But I buy things too.  Enough to raise the front so that people flash their headlights at me all the way home.  Add another 80 pounds for the milk.  Another 100 for groceries, etc.  I weight 340 pounds more going south than I did  going north.  This is like having two more people in the car.

Why do these things matter?  If they are weighing cars going south, then they must have a giant database of car weights.  They can list tare (curb weight empty)  weights but then they have to figure if the additional weight is "reasonable".  Between the dog and I, you can ad another 300 pounds.  Another 50 for the junk with which I normally travel.  This puts me at about 700 pounds above tare.  This should shout alarms to anyone if the database base weight is tare.

If they measure weight difference going south compared to coming north, the 700 pounds is only 340.  This should still be enough to get someone's interest.

With gas and grocery price differences, I do not think I am the exception.  I go out Algodones and come back in San Luis.  This might set off alarms.  I do not know and they are not telling. I am no threat to anyone but I do not fit into anyone's set of "standard" metrics so I can expect more and more inspections on the American side.  I think so can many other semi-resident tourists.

Health

The dermatologist sprayed off some minor things this week and excised one larger one.  No surprises.  The cardiologist told me to expect another stress test/angiogram this summer.  These things really scare me.  Last time I convinced the cardiologist -- a different one -- to not use anesthesia as I had to drive home afterwards.  I enjoyed watching the camera traveling around inside me -- exactly what scares enough people that they move and therefore the reason for the anesthesia.  The frightening part is the hole in my artery in my leg for the camera/cable.  When they are finished they insert a slow-dissolving plug.  The intent is for this plug is to hold in the blood until the artery heals over the cable hole.  The problem is that if my blood pressure surges, it can pop the plug.  If this happens I spend the remaining 2 minutes of my life making peace with my maker since there is not enough  time to do anything else.  Blood pressure surges? Walking, standing up, going up or down stairs.  The stairs are absolutely forbidden.  There are 4 steps up in my motor home.  If I live through entry, I can stay in the RV for a week.  The first step is the most dangerous.  Then there is the dog.  Oh. And lifting: a gallon of milk exceeds the lifting limit.

And who will check on me and why should they?  If I can make it to my bed, it is all down hill from there.  And of course, the insurance will not pay for a 24-hour stay in the hospital to make sure the plug stays in place for that long.  Banks and insurance companies, you have heard me go off on them before.  They make excessive profits, under-pay their people, and cry that at 25% on credit card bills, that they are bankrupt and need my tax money too?  For this they threaten my life for refusal to pay for enough care time to make sure the plug sets properly and does not just pop out on its own volition.  I hate insurance companies.  I guess if you have a wife, she can pray with you for those 2 minutes and call for the coroner afterward.

Earthquakes?

For several weeks now the area around and south of the Salton Sea has had minor earthquakes.  3 on the scale being the highest recorded.  But it is the number and the ongoing and the south that is of my concern.  The earthquake map shows the latest and largest quakes near Guadeloupe Victoria -- known as 43 around here.  This is 43 km from Mexicali as the crow flies (more or less).  You can place us at about 100km on the same line.  That is less than 40 miles from here.  A few months ago I felt one of these minor quakes.  A more serious quake would not surprise me.

MAY

Well, Easter week came and went.  My birthday came and went. My puppy is now a dog and I understand the concept of "Man's Best Friend". The weather is moving from warm days and cools nights to hot. 

My little AC units work their hearts out.  I love it.  I have two 5,500 BTU air conditioners mounted in my front window.  Each draws 4 amps.  I have them set a 4 degrees of each other so that they only both run when one cannot keep the RV cool.  What is there to love?  Elkhart is dead. 

It never occurred to the RV manufacturers to make RVs efficient.  There is little insulation in the walls or ceiling.  I have the luxury of a double roof thanks to a hail storm a few years back.  But the RV comes with two roof AC units and a current monitor to make sure they do not run at the same time -- or they will blow a 30-amp fuse.  This means that they uses as much electricity as 8 of my little wall units.  And what to I get for these two roof units?  Almost as much cooling as my two wall units.  The wall units will keep my feet cold they work so well.  The roof units circulate air better but then a couple room fans do even better.  The roof units will maintain a higher noise level and keep the RV vibrating and although their cooling units will not run simultaneously, their fans will.  This produces a nice harmonic that drives me nuts.  Elkhart?  If they had any interest in conserving energy, they might still be in business.  Oh, it is the price of gasoline?  The absurd excess usage of electricity by the RV units has caused various states to pass laws for RV parks to add electric surcharges to their park membership contracts.  And then there are the generators. You know the ones by Onan and that other company.

These Onan ("The Quiet Company") generators make so much noise that many parks, public and private, have banned their usage.  Oh, for the last several years Onan and the other company have finally taken to heart the noise issue and the current models come with sound insulation.  Too little sound insulation.  Too late.  I have a 5.5kw Onan, new one, side wall insulation.  Better than the old one.  Mostly the engine clogs up with dried gasoline for lack of use because I have this 1kw Honda that runs everything except heating and the microwave -- and it is so quiet that you have to be next to it to know that it is running.  And the Honda has an inverter to guarantee 60 cycles and 120vac.  The Onan cannot maintain 60 cycles to saves its life and the voltage varies all over the map.  This does awful things to electronics and you are always aware it is running because of the constant changing of power as it attempts to maintain a constant RPM since without this 60 cycles is a joke.  But Elkhart could have required more of Onan.  I mean Honda is not magic.  Little elves do not make them.  Oh. Size makes a difference?  Sit a 1kw Honda next to a 1kw Coleman say that again.

No. The RV industry is dead.  It did not have to be dead.  But it died because it made poor quality products that ran so inefficiently that they became the figurehead of profligate waste. My RV makes a nice home -- but it will never ride the highways again -- even if gasoline went back down to 75 cents per gallon.  Oh, the price of gasoline was the straw that broke the industry's back.  Bad management and faith in a lunatic president (GWB) bankrupted the entire economic backbone of the country.  Banks, Industry. GM.  Chrysler.  Ford may survive.  Maybe.  But only those able to reduce costs to a third world level will survive.  I hope to be one of them.  Right now I am borderline.

Prices.

My Ranger had a flat tire this last week.  Something on the El Golfo highway detours tore a hole in the old one.  $122 at Discount Tire.  Sam's Club does not stock the size.  You would think the would but the Ranger has a strange tire size.  When my RV was new, a tire for it cost about this much.  Now a mounted tire for the RV costs more than $500. Not going to happen.  I wonder if Costco stocks the Ranger size?  I had better check before it happens again.

Prices.  It seems that prices for things that you need are increasing rapidly.  Prices for things that you want are going down just as fast.  Excuse me: I had to sneeze.  I had better turn off one of my AC units.  I made the right decision on these units.  I went into Costco one day and saw a trail of these going out the door.  $90 each.  I bought one.  The next week they were gone.  The following week, they were back at $100.  I bought two.  One as a spare.  It is still under my bed waiting for one of the originals to die.  I saw equivalent units at Costco this week: $130.

But things never stay the same.  Marisol got divorced.  Complete.  She got the kid.  He got the house.  He does not like me and so I probably will have to move.  When she told me that she would divorce him, I expected that he would get the house but she assured me that that would not happen.  Now my tension level has increased.  I have not heard from him.  I hear his new wife is very thin.  I suspect that she will not like me either.

I have a few choices but the easiest is to move back into the RV park.  Cost is about the same as here but I lose the (false?) independence that I have here.  The park cost is about $180 per month with my current contract.  Here the cost is about $200 for electricity and water -- but there was $5,000 that I put in for the fence and hookups and septic tank.  Divide the number of months into that and today you get another $200 per month.  Lost if I move out.  If I am lucky, he will not be here much more than Marisol. I may attempt to buy the house from him.  Then I would fix it up a bit and rent it out.  I think I could make a profit at that.  Outside fixing is primarily painting and completing the electric work.  Inside, I would split the new bathroom into a bath and a kitchen and add a water heater.  I think about $2,000 would do it all.  If I could buy it for $15,000 with a favorable contract, I would do it.  Rent for $200 per week with a $50 cleaning fee would be about right.  Provide sales information including cheap Mexican liability insurance and it becomes a great holiday home.  Motel rooms are going at $60 per night.  Pretty brochures passed around town and discounts for CRA guests would do for marketing.  A nice picture page on this web site would not hurt.

If I move to the park, I have to chain the dog.  That would make us both unhappy.  Nothing ever stays the same.  She had choices.  I do not know it all but she had the choice to keep the house.  She told me that.


JUNE

I have heard from them. Sort of.  Marisol tells me that Beto will continue to permit me to live on the lot.  I have tried to contact him but he is not available.

Macho

I really get tired of this Mexican Macho shit.  And it is worse than shit.  It pervades the entire male Mexican personality.

Wife Beating is Endemic

I met a woman this month who had had all of her front teeth knocked out by her husband.  She had been in a coma in the hospital for months.  After running up a serious phone bill at a friend's house, she returned to her abusive husband.  He will hit her again.

Dog Baiting

The first question I always get asked by any Mexican about my dog: "Does he bite?"  Why? All of the Mexican men down to little boys teach all puppies and dogs to bite them.  And they do not understand when I tell them to stop teaching my dog to bite.  This week a Mexican young man with whom I am acquainted walked up and without saying anything to or about the dog started slapping him on the sides of his face. Back and forth until the dog bites them.  Then they hit the dog for doing so.  All Mexican males. Every time.  On the third time telling this man to stop, he did so but did not understand why I did not want my dog biting people.

If they are not teaching him to bite, they are teaching him to jump on them.  Beto arrived the other morning (at 4 a.m.) and the dog started jumping on him.  He encouraged it.  I told the dog to stop and asked Beto to tell the dog to stop.  He would not and assured me that it was just fine to have the dog jumping on him.  Right. Beto is over 6 feet tall.  The dog comes to his chest.  Dido (the dog) is 21 inches when standing normally.  He weighs 50 pounds -- and is skinny.  He is quite capable of knocking down all children and many adults with this jumping.  And as an Alpha dog, it is his nature to do this.  Only with consistent training have I been able to keep his feet on the ground.  As I told my kids when they were small, it takes 10 times of proper behavior to make up for 1 time improper.  For each Mexican that encourages my dog to jump on him, it takes me 10 or more times of telling Dido not to.  Do you know what a little kid thinks of a dog that knocks them to the ground and stands on them waiting for them to play?  And it is not the kid I worry about.  I worry about the mother, father, and my dog.

Little girls are not immune to stupid behavior with the dog.  They also try to get the dog to jump -- but not on them.  They try to get the dog to jump out of the pickup.  He can do this but it hurts him: with his weight, his legs collapse.  And hey flutter their hands cutely at their sides as they turn from the dog.  Right, my dog will jump them every time for either action.  The hand fluttering will encourage him to jump.  Turning your back on him is like a sheep running away: it is his job to stop them - and he will proudly do so.

Mexican Drivers

The Mexican drivers are worse than the Elkhart/South Bend drivers:  they do not want you to pass them. On the open highway they will accelerate to absurd speeds to keep you behind them.  If they are behind you, they will tailgate and then will pass cutting you off so short that you hit the brakes -- brakes chattering from the ABS.  This may be necessary as they have no concept of measuring oncoming traffic.  If the oncoming traffic comes too close, they will drive into your side.

Backing up is dangerous.  Really dangerous!  Why?  Because a Mexican driver going forward will not wait for you.  If he thinks it is possible to go behind you and live, he will.  He does not care if you hit him backing up as you will have to pay for his damages and if you are a gringo he knows that you can pay a lot.  Probably pay much more than his pickup is worth.  And a Mexican on a motorcycle?  You have not seen stupid until you have seen a Mexican on an ATV.

I am really surprised that more children are not killed.  Really.  There are no sidewalks.  There are no zoning setback requirements.  This means that houses and fences are built right to the street.  Especially dangerous at corners since when driving you must stop and look around the fence to see any oncoming traffic -- and the Mexicans are not as cautious as I am.  And the kids always play in the streets: there is no place else for the small child to play.  The bigger kids can go to the park but mostly they play in the street.

But it really gets worse.  The other day I approached the Second Hand lot on the main road.  It was a Sunday so there was a continuous line of cars returning north to go back home from the weekend.  Not a close string but enough that crossing the street between them was a problem.  The pickup behind me was far enough back and a family was trying to cross the road.  Two adults and several children.  I stopped far enough to the left so that it would be difficult to pass me.  The family could be seen on the right until they walked in front of me.  Stopping like this is fairly common practice since pedestrians have the right of way in Mexico.  Instead of stopping, the pickup behind me, a typical Mexican male, sped up and went around me: he saw the opportunity to be in front of someone.  Macho.  And the little boy who ran ahead of the family was running right in front of him.  The pickup driver slammed on his brakes and stopped 6 feet beyond the boy.  The parents of the boy had yelled at him to stop and he did -- or he would have been dead.  And the driver was not a tourist going home: he was a local and turned into town at the next stop sign.  I doubt that he even cared that he almost murdered someone.

The examples could go on forever.  It is always a "I am better than you" -- and it is not a game with the Mexicans -- it is a way of life.  Macho kills.

Father's Day

One day while talking with my Uncle Ernie about my abusive father, he asked me: "Why do you think it was only your father?"  Quite a shock.  Ernie to me was the ultimate father. 6 kids and they all loved him.  Me.  I could get hit for whatever I said and for sure if I said nothing.  And the one thing that was always stated and implied:  "You are so stupid that you will never be able to take care of yourself and it will be a burden either on me or the state."  I was 40 years old before I realized that I was not stupid.  But the father's voice in your head never goes away.  You just have to learn to suppress it.

I raised two daughters with a very hostile ex-wife.  This was a problem on several grounds.  The first was that I knew from the start that with my background, raising loving, happy, daughters would take more than I could do.  With a mother who was more interested in combat than being a mother, my children had it really hard.  I went to counseling.  I tried to get my kids to counseling.  I had discussions with my pastor, uncles, friends, and teachers.  I read books.  I did everything that I could do to get past my childhood and be the best possible father to my daughters.  I attended all school events, conferences, anything. No work overtime ever. My daughters heard every day how smart I thought they were.  They were both not only honor students but role model students.  The school counselor for Bree in several schools told me that she was the moral leader of her grade.  The principal of her final high school concurred.

As a father I failed.  My older daughter has not spoken to me for years and our last encounter ended with her yelling at me to forever leave her life and not consider her my daughter any more.  My younger daughter feels the same way and I hear about it on every occasion but she has not evicted me yet.

I had a friend once who told me to stop looking for family as every effort I made just hurt me deeper.  I think he was correct.  I sill talk with one daughter and my mother and rarely one of my sisters.  The one cousin that I keep in contact with enjoys our calls although the conversation is mostly one-sided.

No. Father's Day will come and go.  I will not celebrate my father and anything that comes to me as a father will disingenuous.

Title Insurance, Chicago Title, Wing and a Prayer

In my life I have bought and sold more houses than I am happy about.  A good real estate agent can handle many of the pot holes in this maneuver.  Everything centers around the selected title company.  The seller generally selects the title company.  Because the title company is so critical, I learned to add to any house purchase agreement a one line caveat: "Right of refusal of the title company".  Why?  Because some title companies simply do not do their job.  What is their job?

The title company job is to provide an insurance policy guaranteeing that the home you are buying is clear of any debts, liens, or whatever when you make your contract with your mortgage company.  The title company examines the history of the property to make sure that you and your bank are the sole owners of the property.  That is, there are no outstanding liens on the property.  Your bank requires this guarantee for obvious reasons.

To make sure that the current transaction is properly performed and recorded, you pay the title company a fee in addition to the insurance policy.  The purchase/sale of the property will include at document enumerating costs, fees, loans, and money involved to close the transaction.

This document is prepared by the title company at the direction of the seller -- usually his agent.  It is dated since the payoff of previous notes must be precise, the ownership of impound funds designated, new loans enumerated.  All money transferred in either direction are listed on this document.

Most people just accept their agent's word that the document is correct.  This is a mistake.

On each and every house sale I have made, there has been at least one error on this document.  An error that either my agent or the title company should have at least questioned.  Here is the problem.

The title company accepts a fee for their work usually corresponding to a percentage of the contract.  They create this document and expect everyone else to correct it.  I have had three very negative experiences.  One was with my Boca house where the seller pick an title insurance attorney rather than a name company.  The seller must provide the title insurance policy itself -- and pay for it. But the title company charges may be distributed in whatever manner the  title compete wants.  These show up on the document.  The one time I forgot to add my caveat, the Florida Title Attorneys put all of their charges on my column and said it was their option.  This added over $2,000 to my costs.  Most of their charges were bogus. They charged for time and space in their offices for a closing which happened elsewhere claiming that they had reserved the people and space regardless of whether they had been used.

This is the nature of the level of deceit of the Title Companies.  One experience with Chicago Title resulted in my having to go to the Federal Banking Commission and another federal agency to get money agreed upon as mine, returned to me as Chicago Title had informed the previous lien holder to refund the impound fund to the previous owner.  I got no assistance from Chicago Title in correcting this error.  They claimed that the document stood and it was my job to enforce the correction of their procedural error.  The document listed the impound fund correctly as mine.  The normal situation for the buyer.  The bank - under orders -- replaced the impound amount to my name.  I presume that the original owner needed to prepay them but that at least was not my problem.  During the two years it took to correct this, the original bank and Chicago Title were both unable to locate their files on the transaction.

The third problem was with Minnesota Title.  They simply did not do their job.  I was selling a home with a primary VA mortgage to be assumed and a secondary mortgage which was to be paid off.  At the same time, I was buying a new home with a new mortgage.  It was the title company's job to obtain the payoff balances of the existing mortgages so that I would bring to the closing a check for the exact amount.

I arrived at the closing and it was about to not happen because Minnesota did not bother to obtain these balances.  I had brought a check for the amounts that I knew.  I also brought $14,000 in cash to cover the unknown amounts.  The amounts were unknown to me but were supposedly known by the title company.  Minnesota Title basically admitted they did not do their job but put the ball in my court to correct it.  I did so.

At the table with everyone sitting there, including the Minnesota Office Manager, I placed phone calls to the 4 loan companies involved and obtain balances from them.  Since Minnesota Title would not accept these numbers coming from me, I had people at the loan companies record the information while they waited for a call from Minnesota Title (at the table) to obtain the figures -- which would also be sent by messenger as confirmation.

Now Minnesota updated the document and determined the exact amount that I needed.  They refused to accept cash.  I was very angry at this point.  I had done their job.  It was after hours.  People at banks had divulged over the phone payoff amounts that could have cost them their jobs.  Minnesota  would not accept cash.  With all of this they were about to refuse to continue the closing.  The office next door was a bank --in the same building .  I refused to walk the 100 feet to the bank to obtain a cashier's check.  For the amount of money they were being paid and for which they did not earn, they could walk the 100 feet.  And the bank was about to close.  The real estate agents refused to touch the cash.  The cash was on the table.  A different title company would have the contract the next day as I was going to be out of town.  Someone from Minnesota Title finally took the cash, got the cashier's check, and we finished the closing.

To be fair, I purchased a townhouse where there were errors in the recorded title and the title company took the effort to correct them before closing.  The one time that I was really happy to have chosen the title company that I had - but I forget its name.

In other words, he bottle neck in buying and selling a house is the title company.  Each office is separately managed so a gross condemnation of the Minnesota or Chicago Title companies may be inappropriate.  But I tell you that I shall never use either of them again.

On the other hand, the reason I write this is that I just heard on the news about a homeowner receiving a foreclosure notice from a bank for a loan that was never paid off by a previous owner. Identifying unpaid loans is the job ot the title company.  This is what you are paying them for.  When the owners obtaining the foreclosure notice went to their title company, their title company told them to get a lawyer.  The title company, title insurance document, stated that they have been paid to legally defend the rights of the new owner.  This title company is Chicago Title.  A friend of mine in Florida had the same problem some years ago.  He also had used Chicago Title.  He also had to get his own lawyer.  Enough.

Iran, the Wall, the Tank, and my Kids

Many years ago, you can look up the dates, events occurred that I considered important.  The Berlin wall came down.  I made both of my young daughters watch that on TV.  Then there was the man standing down the tanks in Tiananmen Square in China.  Again, I had my children sitting in front of the TV.  These were serious events.  They heralded the beginning of the end of secret tyranny.  Not the end of tyranny.  That will always be with us.  But the secret part was in collapse.  I heard that the primary reason that more people were not jailed and murdered in China was the quantity of FAXes being sent in and out.

The Iran issue is in the news. It is absurd to think that in such a contested election that either party walked away with 63% of the vote.  But the world is listening.  Either the dictator will be a dictator in public or he will succumb to election results.  It is way past a fictitious recount.  If there is a recount, it had better be visible to the world because a fictitious recount will just brand the dictator with more corruption.

In any case, we saw it start in Berlin.  We saw it continue in Beijing.  We want it to continue in Iran.  But we can only hope.  (At least the cowboy is not the president of our country any more.)  But we have a serious problem in the United States. I think John Naisbitt said it well in his 1982 book, "Megatrends".  The future belongs to the communicators.  He claimed that people would split into classes: those able to communicate and those who cannot.

Since the Sputnik went up in 1957, communication facilities have exploded.  TV showed the destruction of the wall and the man standing down the tanks.  We are currently overwhelmed with Internet and cell phone text and pictures.  Digital cameras the size of an ice cube.  It is not possible anywhere in the world for anything to happen without some person able to take a picture of it and probably get sound as well.  This is what is happening in Iran.

But.  And it is a big but.  More and more of our students are unable to communicate either verbally or on paper.  If we do not stop this dropout rate there is no hope for our country.  The United States is bankrupt.  The only way to survive is with a serious program of training people to work competitively in the world.  You can no longer retire in luxury from screwing mirrors on the sides of cars.  If you are able to retire it is because you learned how to do the things that other people have learned to do.  You cannot blame your not learning on your teachers.  You can blame it on your parents but after you point the fingers you must take the responsibility to get up and learn some skills.  Learning to talk would be a good start.

JULY

Things go down hill fast.  When Beto showed up with his new "wife" last month a 4 in the morning on a Sunday and told me that the house and lot were his, I believed him.  I have heard rumors that he refused to sign the final papers.  Marisol has texted me saying to not worry, he will honor my living here.  Since I have keys to the gate but not the house, permitting him that morning was not a problem although he broke the window screen hoping that the window was not locked.  He could have just removed the spring latch but he is not that smart.

Marisol's friends moved out all of her belongings.  Furniture, everything.  No call from either of them.  Mari's sister Andrea has been most helpful but does not talk to her sister that much.  They all say ot to worry. It has been a month and not an official word about my situation from anyone.

But I ran into another stupid yesterday.  This one cost me.  When Mari bought the house, it had a giant Air Conditioner unit on the far wall.  Typical Mexican: biggest possible unit.  For Mexicans, bigger is better is a life axiom.  In accordance with that principle, the circuit box installed for that unit contained a 75 Amp double-sided circuit breaker.  When we installed the AC circuit to the RV, we removed the several cables from the electric company service box and used only the cable to the AC unit.  This was because some of the cables just ended underground and some were reversed polarity.  The house was wired reversed -- randomly!  So we ran a cable from the AC box into the house with its polarity reversed leaving the house with the proper polarity -- mostly.

The first time Beto was in the house and added his bathroom, he discovered some polarity was reversed.  Rather than fixing it, he installed this maze of cables on the outside of the house back to the AC box -- now ignoring any in-the-wall circuitry.  Stupid.  Ugly.  But is solved the problem.

But this last week, a friend of Mari's (as I found out) took the AC unit out and covered the hole with a wooden panel.  this would have been OK (although I think illegal in the USA), but she also removed the 75-amp double circuit beaker.  And she also left all of the house wiring and the cable to the plug for the AC unit disconnected.  The house had no power.  This is not a problem for the house since there is nothing inside to use power. The problem is that my freezer is outside the house and is wired to Beto's maze.  Andrea's husband did that for me when I bought the freezer.  Mari volunteered the location rather than have it sitting alongside the RV.

Last week.  Today I noticed when I removed a gallon of milk that it was cool and not frozen. After checking my outlet, etc. I went back to the box and for the first time noticed that the AC unit was missing.  I opened the box and discovered the circuit breakers had been replaced with a rock.  I reconnected the house wiring to the connector bracket -- sans circuit breakers.

There is no need for a circuit breaker here.  There is a double 30-amp breaker at the service box. for the entire lot.  When we installed the RV circuit, we added an additional 30-amp breaker for the RV -- on the house side of the service box breakers. Double protection.

I lost about $200 worth of food when it became warm in the freezer.  The entire removal of the AC unit was stupid.  Had anyone told me, I could have helped but nobody is talking to me - except to tell me not to worry.

  1. They could have just removed the unit and replaced it with the wood panel. After all, it had its own plug alongside the circuit-breaker box.
  2. They could have told me and I would have helped with the circuitry.
  3. The could have left the circuit breaker box along, untouched.
  4. They could have reconnected the house wiring instead of letting it hang loose when they removed the breakers.

The 75-amp breakers, if you are electric-circuit challenged, are useless.  The house will burn down before they will trip.  If there is a problem, the 30-amp breakers at the service box will break.  75-amps is good enough for many small American homes.  The entire home.  One a given power line, the breaker with the lowest rating will break first.  So your house box will have many 15, 20, and 30 amp breakers for the various locations in the house.  Above these will be the 75-amp double breaker to make sure that there is not a total house overload.  Putting the 75-amp breaker downhill from the 30-amp breaker invalidates the 75-amp breaker.  Therefore someone has a 75-amp double breaker that may make them feel good but serves no purpose except taking it cost me $200 worth of food.

Washington Mutual and Bank Of America -- The Banks You Cannot Trust

Bank of America (BofA) ignored a check sent to them to pay  my monthly MasterCard balance.  The same billpay name and address I always use -- to the address I was originally given.  When the check was not credited, I went to the BofA web page and had them extract with their billpay, an equal amount from my checking account.  When the check arrived, I should have a large overpayment/credit.  The check never arrived.  At the same time that I authorized the BofA extraction, I notified my Washington Mutual (WaMu) account that BofA claimed to not have received the check.

WaMu acknowledged that the check was not cashed.  A week later, I requested WaMu to refund the amount of the "lost" check to my account.  They called BofA and BofA (Crystal) lied to them.  BofA denied the transfer from my WaMu account and claimed that they had cashed the original check.  Wait for the statement to arrive and see that this was so.  The BofA online statement says that they credited with the online transfer. No mention of a check. And by the way, a credit card statement does not say from where they got the payment.  If I had waited there would have been no improvement in the situation.

Multiple attempts to use the BofA web page mail have now ben refused access.  BofA has stolen my money and does not want to hear about it except from my lawyer.  They will at least have my $840 dollars until I can get a lawyer or a government agency to investigate.  This may take months.

I have informed WaMu that they have been lied to and given them the appropriate information but what is their motivation to jump BofA's case?  None.  They informed me that the matter was closed and that I was just out the second $842.01.  Sorry.  People wonder why I hate banks?  Banks are liars and thieves.  They will only be as honest os someone forces them.

But yesterday I bit the bullet: I called BofA customer service.  I got the same response that WaMu did: the check was cashed to make the payment but no credit was given for the BofA billpay although the withdrawal had been made and they had the money.  I asked for a supervisor.  Customer Service hung up on me.  I was angry enough to call back and ask for a supervisor.  This woman was patient enough to listen to the entire story and pass me on to someone else, Steven.  Explaining to Steven and his verification of BofA's actions took about an hour.  Together we called WaMu Customer Service.  With the WaMu validation process and music delays, this took another hour but we got to a WaMu customer service person who insisted the matter was closed except that Steven informed her that as a BofA Customer Service person, WaMu had take the wrong action and that Crystal's information to WaMu was in error.  The Wamu agent verified that the check had not been cashed and put a stop payment on it resulting, hopefully, in another week, the charge to be added back to my WaMu balance.  I hope.

This process from start to finish took about 3 hours.  I was sitting at a Burger King in San Luis, Sonora but near enough to the border that my tMobile sell phone worked as a local call.  I must thank Steven (BofA) for staying on the line so long because without his presence the matter would not have been resolved.  When I entered, people on their way to work were ordering breakfast.  Before I left, children waiting for the super-lunches were running around the tables.  My dog had climbed out and then back into the the truck three times.  The temperature was 105 by the time I got back to the dog.

You can expect occasional errors.  That happens. Two things went very seriously wrong here.  Not just random errors:  Customer Service failures and belligerent attitudes.  The first is that BofA ignored the payment check and lied about subsequently cashing it. The second was far worse.  Washington mutual could have pursued the matter diligently rather than being stopped by simple errors.  WaMu originally verified the check was not cashed.  Had they continued to verify the status they would have known that the information from BofA was in error.  My final request to them was to send me a copy of the cashed check. If it had been cashed, I had evidence to go back to BofA.  If it had not been cashed, I had evidence to WaMu that they had taken incorrect actions. But WaMu would not even send me a copy of the check in dispute -- and they admitted that it was a paper check and not an EFT transfer.

WaMu just presumed that their customer was in error causing a $842.01 permanent loss to me -- even though I provided them with a simple way to verify where the error had occurred.  Banks are not only dishonest but lazy, corrupt, and whatever else you want to say bad about them.  Never trust ANY bank.

In most cases, I make the payments such as this with slightly different amounts. For example, rounding up to the nearest dollar.  But the BofA online only permits the exact amount or less.  One penny less would have cost me the late fee that I was trying to avoid.

United Health Care Insurance and More Lies

A couple of months ago, I turned 65.  This means Medicare and my entire health insurance profile changes.  Finally I can get rid of the SIemens rip off scheme.  They act sort of like a Medicare supplement but not quite as good and charge more.  The concept is, now that you are 65 you can free Siemens of paying for you.  But now I need to find a supplement since Medicare only pays 80% after a deductible and only at reduced pay schedules that some doctors do not accept and nothing out of country.  So you buy an after-Medicare supplement.  I checked around and found AARP has good rates on good polices written by United Health Care.  United is a typical health care rip-off expert.  No surprises here -- all health care companies are rip-off artists.  This is exactly why we need a national health care program bypassing these companies.  Everybody want one.  The government will not give us one because these same companies financed their election campaign.

In any case, United   Their form stripped the apartment number from my submission because they claim to not mail to post office boxes.  Then they mailed things to the stripped address. Since my mail service requires this number -- as they should, the mail service takes extra steps to get the mail to the correct box.  If I do not correct this, they will charge me extra for it.  I corrected this error t United as rapidly as possible but not before they caused more problems.

Because some of these places will not change addresses by email and their online forms do not permit address changes, I emailed them with the proper information and my FAX number.  The FAX number to makes sure we got this problem resolved as quickly as possible.  My mistake.

United Health Care claims to have a privacy policy.  Immediately upon accepting my policy, the United sold my address to Walgreen's.  They may have sold it elsewhere but Walgreen's replied to the incorrect address before I even obtained a policy copy from United.  Fast. United should not have given my address, correct or incorrect to anyone, let alone a national pharmacy.

But it got worse.  They sold the FAX.  Within two hours of the email I started receiving FAXes for Medicare Supplement insurance - from other companies selling United policies.  now if the email had been sent via normal channels, I could think that maybe someone else intercepted it.  But no, I used the United Health Care secure form.  They were the only ones to get that number that month.  They obviously sold the number instantly upon receipt.  Probably vengeance because I was not real polite complaining about the sale of the improper address on the email request to correct it.

Between the two sales, I decided to inform the Texas Insurance Commission.  It took almost 32 months but I got a reply from them: case closed -- no violation proved.  Why?   Because the insurance company denied selling the address nor the FAX number.  I could reopen the case if I could obtain the sale documents.  Right.  Government at its best: the agency to protect me wastes my tax money protecting the insurance company.  All United had to do was deny my claim and they go away scott free.

I wonder why anyone anywhere believes the insurance company lies.  I know why the insurance commission does: they know where their bread is buttered.  I know why the insurance companies lie: they know where their bread is buttered.  Why anyone is against a national health care system competing with this house of lies is really beyond me. Remember the insurance company has a 35% or higher overhead (profits, computers, executive multi-million salaries, etc.).  Medicare has an 8% overhead.  The government bureaucracy manages to get 27% more of your premiums to the doctor than the insurance company.  How can you be against this?

But at the same price I previously paid SIemens I now have Medicare and supplement that covers everything (yeah, the lower pay schedules still apply) but if I have a heart attack on my way to Yécora, the insurance will pay for it.

Vacation

I am preparing for a vacation trip to Yécora to visit my old friends there.  With my new dog and with no new money.  Presents for the kids.  Taking the dog on the bus means a travel crate and work.  The dog deserves the vacation to the cooler climate.

"Yesterday Upon The Stair I Saw a Man Who Wasn't There" Hugh Means -- More or Less

Bits and Pieces.  That's all there ever is but I thought I would try to consolidate bits today, July 7, 2009.

I think I do not ask much of my friends but what I ask is always too much.  The same for family.

My Home -- Lot

I, without written contract, paid to improve the lot: fence, septic tank, full RV hookups, miscellaneous stuff.  Altogether it cost me about $6,000 to move from the CRA RV park two years ago to here.  I had met the owner, Marisol, through my friend Marta, who became angry at me when I picked Mari's lot over hers.  The choice was easy: I had no relationship with Marisol and I wanted my relationship with Marta to be independent of any financial arrangement.  Marisol and I became too close of friends and I have yet to learn that such friendships always cost me.  Say it, yes,  But understand and learn it, no.  I guess hope is somewhere part of the equation.

But Marisol was married and the lot was therefore community property.  Shortly after we made the arrangements, she moved to San Luis to return to her husband, Beto.  She had left him while he was a policeman with some ethics and morals problems.  Her return did not improve those issues and she later filed for divorce.  The settlement left him with this lot and house with a half-finished house addition.  His idea: a bathroom big enough to be a kitchen and a bathroom -- but no kitchen.  In every meeting with Beto, his first reaction is to break something.  Locks, window screens, whatever gets in his way.  It is no secret that he is no longer a policeman due to ethics violations. He seems to think the divorce settlement was unfair in favor of Marisol. Wherever I go, I run into this concept of "fair" and it never is -- fair I mean.

What to me is not fair is that now the lot has an owner who claims that I can continue to live here but since there is no written contract, on some drunk impulse, he may tell me to leave -- after destroying something of value to me.  He is a big man and I think I can trust him as far as I can throw him.  Up to two days before he showed up to tell me that he was the new lot owner, Marisol had consistently told me that she was keeping the lot. I think I could have shown her a way to keep the lot and own a house, different house - better house, in San Luis.  Her house in San Luis  consists of walls.  No roof.  No windows.  No doors.  No electric wiring.  No plumbing.  Walls.  And she lives in a trailer that the homeless would pass on.

For now I shall stay here but I do not know.  I can always move back to the park but having the dog live as he does would cause problems.   The RV tires are 10 years old -- not drivable. Another couple of places have been offered but they have their strings and drawbacks also.

Marisol

She not only did not tell me -- when she knew -- that she had let Beto have the lot, she also informed me that she had no intention of  repaying the loans for things that I had bought her: tires, freezer, etc.  She wonders why I am upset with her.  She called me by name for the first time yesterday rather than with an endearment.  But to her "fair" des not include divulging important things and repayment of loans.

CRA RV Park

My friend, Liz, has been at the front gate for as long I have been coming to El Golfo.  During the season, members ran the daytime gate and she ran the bar -- but there is no more bar or restaurant.   She has ben fired.  They have their reasons.  I have heard them.  We have the "fair" issue again.   I think making life hard for Liz and firing her is a serious mistake. I think the things she has been accused of may be true but do not warrant dismissing an employee of ten or more years.  Mostly CRA wants to rid itself of ALL previous employees because CRA believes they can find less expensive replacements.  It is this attitude of cheapness that has driven the membership away from the El Golfo park.  But the every member using their membership to stay in the park is an expense to CRA.  They are happy to sell memberships praising the El Golfo Park but not have the members use the park itself.  Every year they raise the fees and charges that they consider negotiable.  Every year they find ways to restrict coupon usage to the point that the coupons have become useless -- almost.

The new manager, Raul, does not understand why the membership distrusts him and the CRA organization.  But he only talks, he does not listen.  He will never understand and will always blame that on the members and his employees.  He has offered me a deal to support the Wi-Fi.  I turned it down because of the lies the membership already believes about me.

2011 August:  It has been 2 years now.  Raul is a great manager.  I underestinated him.

CRA Membership Lies About Me

These are the most vicious of lies and are disseminated solely to cause me serious harm.

  1. I need to live in Mexico because I am a convicted and fugitive child sex offender and cannot live in the USA.
    I know who started these and I thought at least one of these was a friend.  I had offered that person something that no one else would have ever offered which included a lifetime financial obligation.
    They spread this lie around to the entire El Golfo community and at one point, teachers from the elementary school came to interview me to make sure I was not dangerous to the local children.  Even still some of the neighbors make sure their children avoid me.
  2. I was evicted from the park and moved all the way across town because it was discovered that I am not a member and was pirating from the park.
    I have been gone two years and this issue popped up again this week.
    Patricio never informed me that I was evicted.  I was told by Liz that I had 12 days to leave as there were to be no more summer volunteers.  She informed me that I could use my 30-day coupon.  She and I could argue the word "evict" -- but I left the park because of that conversation and the expectation that eviction was imminent.  I had expected problems since the CRA owners were making problems for anyone anywhere.  Liz was and always has been my best friend in El Golfo.  My need to leave could have been negotiated by my contacting CRA corporate headquarters -- but then trusting them is not high on my list.  The thought never occurred to me.  I just left.
  3. That I made excessive profits managing the Wi-Fi system.
    In fact, I lost money on the system. I charged to the system most things that I bought.  Any excess went to Patricio, the manager.  The amount of time lost to supporting the system during the season approached 40 hours a week.  My arrangement for living in the park was the computer workshop that I ran -- independent of the WiFi system.
    For this I contracted a DirectWay Satellite service designed to work for two computers work for 20 or more simultaneously.  True, it could have ben better, but it worked for everyone, sometimes after considerable configuration effort on my part.

We shall skip he CRA lies to me -- they just prove that the company itself is corrupt and that is irrelevant here.

Preparation For The Vacation

Two trips to San Luis, Algodones, and Yuma for a new Mexican Visa, cage (cloth) for the dog, medicines, etc.  A visit to the bus terminal to see if the dog could ride with me -- no, the dog needs a cage and rides below.

Beto had shown up, tried to break the gate padlock and returned with a key after damaging the lock but not getting in.  I did not know it was he initially because he had shown up at night on a quad on the 4th of July weekend and I thought I just had more tourist thieves.  I called Andrea and she informed that it was probably Beto. When he returned in a pickup, he had a key.  He should have used the key the first time.  I do not like his "break it first" personality.  I think it relates as much to his relationships as to things.  He still has not introduced me to his new wife - but then she did not look like she expected to be introduced.  He left his usual trail of beer bottles and cans.  He expects the world to clean up his messes.  I placed the bottles and cans in front of his gate.  I notice that someone has already taken the cans for recycling.

I asked the local bus driver at 11:30 if I could take my dog - up front -- tomorrow, to San Luis.  No problem.

Calls to my friends in Yécora to verify that I was expected and that the dog could ride up front from Hermosillo to Yécora.  That left the only ride left for the cage from San Luis to hermosillo.  Liz's husband, Ernesto, will wash the RV on Monday morning before I leave.

The Vacation That Did Not Happen

I got up at 4:00 am and finished packing and cleaning.  I have been packing and cleaning and preparing for a week.  The dirty dishes in the sink stink but I am too tired to handle them.  By 6:00 am blood pressure is already below 100/50.    Ernesto shows up and cleans.  Ernesto is a reliable, hard-working guy.

At 10:00 I ran a few errands.  I saw Liz at the gate to wish her well as she will be gone by the time I get back.

I was informed that "Mike" had angrily gone to her and Raul about my dog pooping in front of his house and that Dido and I should not be allowed in the park since I was not a member.  I really hate these lies.  I am a member and my dog did not shit in front of his house.  I could tell him which dog dig but the owners of those dogs are his friends and he would never believe me.  "Mike" is the same guy who reported that Liz had used some park equipment without permission.  Some people are just evil.  You know, I am sure I would recognize "Mike" if I saw him.  He might even be friendly towards me.  But he did not confront me when the dog pooped.  Obviously he was close enough to recognize me at the time and could have yelled out.  But, no, he held his anger at me to people with whom he could spread his poison.  He did not tell Liz that she should not use park property and give her the chance to correct the situation.  No, he spread his poison to the park manager/owner.  If he really believes I am not a member contrary to all claims to the contrary, he should notify the CRA home office of my trespassing and his attempts to stop my visits.

I stopped in at Magui's and she repaid me the money for things I had bought.  I stopped at Jorge/Andrea's.  A few dog bones for their dogs, good-bye, etc.  He volunteered Andrea to wash my dishes.  Great -- they have keys but she will need nose clamps to enter the RV.

Ernesto drove me to the bus stop at 11:00.  The local tortilla grill owner told me the bus had already left.  I told him I did not believe him.  I had left my walking stick at home but for fear I might really miss the bus, it stayed there and Ernesto left.  At 11:40 (I was worried) the 11:30 bus arrived and we made our way to San Luis.  As the tortilla man closed for the day, he had thrown a lot of meat to Dido.

It was so hot and so humid.  The dog had a hard time with the bus ride but he did not complain.  We got to San Luis and the impact of my upcoming journey struck me as I put on my backpack (60+ pounds) and dragged the portable cooler with the dog supplies and walked the dog from the El Golfo bus station to the Hermosillo bus station.  The dog could not walk on the pavement nor the concrete.  He did slightly burn his feet trying before I started hopping from shade to shade to grass -- where there was some.  Got him a drink from a local faucet and into the bus station.  5 bus lines. 4 with trips to Hermosillo -- every hour.  Mexico has 3 classes of buses.   First class is slightly lower than airline first class but not by much.  I like third class. Sometimes they give me senior discount and they make more stops.  More stops is good as I can take the dog out for walks at each station for about 20 minutes.

But.  No bus line would take the dog.  It took a while to learn why.  The first answer was that the bus transport cabinets were full.  Here is where my broken Spanish causes problems.  Down country there is no problem but here at the border as soon as my Spanish is not perfect and the person I am talking to speaks only Spanish, they presume that we cannot communicate.  After a few minutes of conversation with me pointing out that the cabinets for all of the buses from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm could not possibly be full at all 4 lines, they admitted that the reason for not accepting the dog was the heat.  The dog would be dead by the time we arrived in Hermosillo.  The third class line had a bus leaving at 9:00 pm when it would be cool enough to maybe transport the dog -- if the driver agreed.  A big if.

I panicked.  I totally forgot that there was a bus back to El Golfo at 4:00 from the El Golfo bus line.  There were buses every hour from that line to 57 which I could take and then hitchhike to El Golfo.  I have done that several times.  I forgot the 4:00 bus went all the way home.  I did not trust that I could get a ride with my two large bags and the dog.  No ride from 57 would leave me at the desert roadside all night.  Dangerous for many reasons

If the 9:00 driver turned me down, I would have nothing until the morning 9:30 am bus back to El Golfo.  The new buses running through El Golfo from San Luis to Puerto Peñasco would make the dog ride below and were therefore not available either.

I called Marisol.  I really did not want to but she was to pick up Betito in El Golfo that same day and maybe I could ride with her.  No. Her car had broken down and she could not go.  She would call to see who from El Golfo might be returning that same night.  Magui, Martita, Millie were in town (together) and I could ride with them but I would need to wait until 9:00 pm.  No problem I would wait.

Now it is about 2:00 in the afternoon.  In Mexico bus stations are always busy since that is their primary means of transportation.  Busier now as gringo holiday traffic was dying down.  Traffic may be down but the air conditioning for the terminal is marginal and I had two large packs and a large dog.

Here we get technical.  Dido is massive but not large.  He is not really large as dogs go.  He is 22" at the shoulder.  But he is 36" from rump to middle of his head -- best measurement I could get him to stand for (playing with his rump and his head simultaneously makes him nervous at least).  He has a bushy tail and a large, flat head.  The tail reminds me of along broom -- not long for a tail but long for a broom.  His head is sort of like a furry rock.  Not ugly like a pit bull (leave it alone), but above that smile, and the small staring eyes, the head is big and hard.  But he is very heavy for his measurements and with all that fur,  he appears much larger than he is.

I moved the  bags to the front wall under the window.  I bought a large bottle of water and a Pepsi light from the inside restaurant.  Both were warm.  I needed at least cool.  No more from them.  When Dido stands, he is a beautiful dog.  I get many compliments on my beautiful dog.  They always ask if he is a German Shepherd.  I do not know how to say "Border Collie" in Spanish.  Maybe "Collie de la Frontera" but that would make Mexicans think he was an American Dog.  I also do not know how to tell them that he comes from the mountains in Scotland.  Scotland draws a blank.  North of England gets understanding but not breed recognition.

But in length he is more like a dachshund than a collie.  And Dido was hot.  I had brushed him out pretty that morning but after an hour or so of being sprawled on that floor, he was really dirty.  His fur hid it well but is was clumping.  I hate brushing out the clumps as much as he does.

People walked around him.  Parents accepted my statement that he does not bite as they grabbed their children.  Dido was so hot he ignored all but the children who approached him.  Sprawled out, he takes more than 3 feet high and 4 feet long.  He patiently waited all afternoon - and not going to the bathroom since we had left home.  That dog has remarkable bladder control.  Pooped on somebody's front door?  Not likely.  He has very limited places where he will urinate or poop.  He learned these himself -- neither I nor Mari attempted to housebreak him.  He has his own idea of propriety.  He no longer urinates next to my toilet.

By 6:00 pm, I did have the ride back to El Golfo verified.  I took my dog next door and bought some roast beef.  This restaurant I have been to before.  You get tortillas, a dish full of limes, radishes, and green onions, a guacamole dip, and a green salsa dip.  Red if you want it.  The roast beef comes in strips with nothing else.  Lots of roast beef.  Too much for one meal with nothing but onions and radishes.

In any case, most of the beef went back in a cup in my pocket.  I bought some more water, a diet fruit drink and two cans of diet soda -- all very cold.  We resumed our wait in the front row of seats watching my two bags.  Dido resumed his sprawl.  The local children got braver and then ignored him,  He ignored candy treats and junk.  Someone spit in his water dish.  Nobody attempted to steal our stuff and it was far enough away that we were not conspicuously the owners but there was no room near the seats for our bags.

I saw many very beautiful young Mexican women.  It was long wait.  And hot.  And humid.  I called Yécora and told them we were not coming.  I went back to the bus cashier and told her we did not need to accept her offer to ask the 9:00 pm driver if it were safe enough for the dog.  She seemed insulted but I had nothing to offer.

My admiration for my dog grows every day.  A friend tells me that dogs are con artists and feign affection to get what they want.  Maybe Dido  does this.  But Dido loves me as much as I love him.  He never complained for the 8 hours of waiting.  He knows how to tell me that he is unhappy.  He just lay there.  A couple of times I took him outside. He will pee on car tires.  Not this time.

Kids called him  by name. No response.  I called him, he looks up.  If say "vamonos", he is ready to go.  If I try to leave, he tries to got too.  At 9:00 we went outside to wait for Magui's troop.  Up the street she calls to him, he ignores calls from other people.  When she got close enough to recognize and I released his leash, he ran to her.  It is a good thing that Martita's car is large. We used up enough for all of the Tercel but he big car opened in the back in went the bags on top of Magui's restaurant supplies and off we went.  Except Dido does not like riding in back.  He kept trying to get in front.  The entire trip home.  If I dozed off, he broke for the front.

The reason I turned down the 9:00 pm maybe bus was that I had decided that even if safe,  Dido was not going to ride in a hot, totally dark, enclosed cabin while inside a cloth cage.  He had earned more than that.

Once in Martita's car, we made one more stop and I took the opportunity to let him walk around enough to urinate.  He must have been really dry because very little came out.  When we got home, he urinated and pooped thoroughly.

We made it back home without further incident.  I slept well all night.  Dido wanted to play fetch as soon as we got home and again in the morning when I showed my face.

My communication skills are abysmal.  I can speak good English.  I shall never speak good Spanish.  Oh.  It is good enough to get compliments but if it were really good, then there would be no need for compliments.  I make complements to English-speaking Mexicans but these are for Mexicans who are truly bi-lingual.  No.  My limits are in expressing emotions and good verb tenses.  "I love you" is never heard form my mouth in English.  I know that my daughters needed to hear it more.  My feelings for my daughters extended so far beyond "I love you", that saying so seemed trivial.  When I began to doubt that I could love anyone or anything, I just stopped saying the words.  In Spanish there as so may ways to express different kinds of love that if I were to find opportunity, I could say most of them.  I doubt "Te Amo" would be said -- although I wish it.  "Te quiero" is easy.

Dido knows how to say, "I love You".  He will come up behind me and touch his nose to my hand or my leg and then proudly walk in front. He likes front.  The touch is usually  a surprise and it is just a touch.  I would like to see how he does this.  His coordination is quick and I suspect if I could even see it from behind it would still be hard to recognize.   Walking, running, standing still, it is a touch and not a nudge.  A nudge means something else.  A nudge means that he wants something, probably what is in my hand.

But I love my dog.  I truly love my dog.  I feel pain in my heart for his hip condition that he does not even know is a problem.  He cannot get into a car.  On hearing "Subate",  he will raise himself with as much of his body as he can into the car with both hind feet still on the ground.  He needs help to get the hind feet lifted to the car sill or the seat.  He will accept any assistance to accomplish this.  Under the belly is best for him but even I have problems with this since it touches his privates.  Grabbing his feet and lifting works but you might get scraped by his claws -- short but sharp. He will even accept, without complaint, grabbing his fur and lifting. And like I have said before, he is a heavy dog.  You might get a handful of fur.  But he does not complain as long as he gets in the car.

Dido will complain when the brushing gets too rough.  The wire brush does pull and that does hurt.  The other brushes are useless.  He hates his teeth being brushed but they must be brushed frequently because his childhood Parvo decalcified some of them.  I want to see if a dog dentist exists in Yuma.

But mostly he does not complain.  He will look at me when he has no idea why his being tormented with these adventures or I have something else he does not want.  But he never complains, he just does what he is asked. And he will always follow me to get his head and back petted.  It is not his subservience that I love. That is not love.  It is not his obedience: he is not obedient.  It is that look on his face that does not have to be there that tells me that he feels towards me the same as I feel towards him.  It is the way he will suddenly lurch at me and hug me at the strangest of times: usually dangerous times.

I have been watching the "Meet Joe Black" movie.  The father's love for his two daughters I think I match.  I would wish that if anything should happen to me that my daughter's could see this movie to understand how I feel about them.  But then I do not think they care any more and I have difficulty dealing with my emotions when such anger and animosity are consistently returned.  But the love is deep inside in a way that cannot be said in my words or be removed.  The movie says it all well.

But with my dog, I do not need words.  I think that I could never trust friends any more.  Oh, I have couple: Tino, Gary, Tom, Atis, Liz.  They would do whatever it takes to help if I needed help -- as I would for them.  I think Tom understands everything and his communication skills are way beyond my comprehension.  But I do not know that I could return love to another human being again.  I am so grateful for my dog as he has taught me that I am still capable of loving -- if could ever get past the trust problem.  I think I shall need another dog before I that happens.

Now it is bedtime again and I need the sleep.  But I need to eat.  All I had today was one of those frozen cheese pizzas.  Leftover. Cold.  I ate a small piece last night for dinner  -- hot.

Tomorrow, it starts again.  Maybe next month I can get insurance and permission to drive the truck to Yécora.  In the meantime, I hold my breath every time I enter the RV until I get the dishes washed.  I really need the vacation.  And on the 21st of this month, I get heart tests and additional blood tests.

July 13, 2009

San Luis Veterinary Hospital

Another trip to the big city.  First to San Luis to the Vet.  Bought some Tick medicine (spray concentrate) for Dido.  After our last trip to the bus station the poor dog is infested with so many ticks that he had 4 in a row pumping blood like mad on one ear.  Two more larger ones on the top of his head.  Three.  Other scattered around his body.  Someone said sea water kills them -- not a chance.  The Hartz flea collar has no effect.  The Hartz Plus spray does not appear to effect them.  I am getting desperate.  I distrust the Vet Hospital in San Luis since the previous medicine almost killed my dog.  The vet on this visit suggested shaving my dog.  I suggested that the double-layer coat might have a problem with being shaved. He countered saying he does Chow-Chows.  I am not sure that this is a good response.  I bought his suggested medicine.

Telcel Office

Then I went to the Telcel store on 26th street.  This is the main store for Telcel here.  Talk about bad management.  Last week the level on my satellite disk failed and along with the wind, I needed to re-aim the dish.  Time to see about Telcel Broadband.  The line was not long: only 6 people in front of me.  4 cashiers.  After 2 hours of waiting -- with Dido in the car -- the manager dismissed her friend in her office and went to lunch.  The line had moved 2 people.  One had left.  3 more in front of me.  I gave up.  The man at the front desk spoke no English so I told him in Spanish that this was the worst business office that I had been to in my entire life.  He just smiled knowing that my next action was to leave and he did not like Gringos anyway.  I shall use the CRA network until I can re-align the disk.

Yuma -- 115°

I went to the San Luis Border Crossing, the line was too long so I drove to Algodones.  10 minutes.  I went to the CRA park for the mail and then to Sam's Club.  For those of you who do not understand: 115° is hot.  Dry heat?  Give me a break.  90° is comfortable dry heat. 100° is acceptable dry heat.  110° is hot.  When dry, you can handle it but because of the Bush Global Warming acceleration, July is now humid.  115° with 50% humidity is hard for me.  I stepped out of the car and almost collapsed on the spot.  My lungs burned.  My face burned.  I looked for something to grab but then I recovered enough to walk to the office and then to the gate and speak on the mic to get someone there.  I had called ahead but I think my courtesy of calling ahead serves no purpose.  In any case, not much mail.  Two insurance letters and an order from Whitney containing my tailgate lock.

Sam's Club

I parked in the shade as I always do and put the dog out with his new big, blue bowl.  If there is a God and I get to meet Him someday, I shall need to thank HIm for this wonderful animal.  I thank Him now but somehow I would like to do it face to face.

From Sam's we went to the RV parts store on Arizona for a couple of keys (they had one) and a knob for my shower.  I had given up on ever seeing one of these.

PetSmart

Dido went in with me.  We got a new toothbrush and paste (I either lost the old ones or Dido hid them).  Dido has been complaining about the lack of social contact this week.  He complains by ignoring his calls to come and the whistle.  Several people admired him in the store and he left happy.  The usual assortment of anti-tick products -- none of which have worked for me.

I had an address for a vet to inspect Dido's teeth but I could not find it on my way to Walmart.

Walmart on Avenue B

First to Walgreen's -- they no longer carry the compression stockings.  I wish that they did.

Walmart.  A long list today. Sam's was just for soda, juice, and milk.  We parked a ways out at the first tree island with acceptable shade.  Dido wanted to wait outside and did not want to wait inside even with all 3 windows open.  Again with the leash, the big, blue bowl, and an "esperame".

I got most of what I needed.  I forgot the rest as I had been gone for a while and I worried about someone stealing my dog.  When I got to the car, a Walmart young man told me that my dog had had no water and that he had given Dido his water.  He also informed me that it was against Walmart policy to permit unattended dogs in the parking lot for fear that the heat would kill them.  I thanked him for his concern and after my repeating this and his repeating the hat warning -- both a couple of times, he left.

He did his job and I understand the concern.  I pretty much agree with it.  The pavement is so hot that Dido will even find a way to get back in the car rather than waiting for me to assist him.  I wish he would do this all the time.  I dislike people who leave their pets in their cars in this heat.  But two things here.

The first is that my car and my dog were in the shade with the dog outside with his water bowl.  It really is a large bowl as I got tired of dealing with the smaller ones.  You cannot tip this bowl over without first lifting it off the ground.  I had not only filled it with water before I left him but I had added a couple handfuls of ice cubes.  I was not concerned about the heat for Dido.  He lives outside in this heat and he sleeps during the day under the RV.  Where he was in the Walmart parking lot is not much different than his afternoons at home.  If I thought he was in danger from the heat, I would have taken more precautions and made the trip shorter.

The second is my love of my dog.  My biggest concern leaving him is that someone will steal him.  He will tell me if he has a problem with where he is or the temperature.  If I ask him to wait for me ("esperame") and he tries to come anyway, I figure out what problem we have.  While he is waiting, he will play with anyone who will play with him, otherwise he lies down under the tailgate or backend of the Ranger.  No fuss.  No noise.  No anxiety, just a hopeful look in his face that someone will admire him or that it is I returning.

Weldon's

Back across the border and on our way home.  I stop the the Grullita Weldon's for two things.  The first is to ask the cashier to marry me.  She turned me down saying it is too hot for a wedding and a trip to El Golfo.  The second is for a plat of eggs.  I also buy a cold Diet Coke and a head of lettuce.  I point out Dido to my woman friend.  He is sitting on the front seat awaiting my return and watching me talking with my friend.  I tell her that he is a wonderful dog.  There is a bucket of KFC grilled chicken on the seat next to him.  Since I informed him that the bucket is mine, he will not bother it unless he gets angry at me for taking too long.  We get back to El Golfo with me exhausted but delivering the mail and some things to Jorge/Andrea before getting home -- and feeding Dido.  And telling him what a good dog he is.  I turn off the freezer.

July 15

I empty the freezer, install the milk, and replace all the items inside making sure that the items I think may have been spoiled by the previous outage are on top.  Now the freezer is clean and I hope no longer has the smell.  I think the smell came from the melted fish as the ice on the bottom had the appropriate color and the fish seems to be drier than I would have expected from freezer burn.  I needed to do this reload for the obvious reasons and the fact that when refrozen all of the items had formed into hard shapes interlocked in such manner as to make them impossible to remove.  Today I am just tired but I do have a few errands to run in town.  And I need to spray the dog for ticks and tonight give him a bath with the new anti-tick (Walmart) shampoo.  And people think I am bored?

AUGUST

Another attempt at a vacation to Yécora.  Foiled by Ford Credit.  I really hate corporate idiots. If they did not want me to take their Ranger to Mexico rather than wasting so many hours of my time, they could have just said no.

Finally.  A week late they send the letter.  I leave.  A week is long enough to visit someone.  Living single on a lot with a dog and moving to a house full of people with their own dogs is serious work.  Obedience is not a trait of my dog.  He has valid ideas on "fair" and by his terms he has been a very good dog and does not understand needing to be chained.   The visit may not last a week.

Dido is not well house-broken.  The house here has brick walls and the main entry and hall are dirt.  The result is that Dido will pee on the hall walls because he equates them with outdoors.  I cannot blame him but now he is banned from the house.

The parents work everyday leaving me with an uncle who watches TV all day and 4 or 5 kids.  I bought food for the kids yesterday and made the mistake of buying extra for today.  The adults ate it when they got home.  I cannot afford to feed everyone for a week.  I will be lucky to have enough to feed me for the week.  I need a trip to the bank to buy gas for the trip home.

SEPTEMBER

It is after Labor Day.  We saw few tourists here in El Golfo -- the economy up north is much worse than we see.  We can count the hidden things..  A trip to El Golfo is a cheap vacation.  Really cheap.  And the price of gas is about $2 per gallon.  The food is cheap.  You can camp on the beach for free or in a camp site for peanuts.  The weather is what everyone claims but no one has.  There have been no clouds for a month and then before that was a year ago.  Buy your Mexican liability for $58 dollars per year in Temecula.  And no one came.

The cities are hurting so city services are being reduced. Raising taxes takes an election and a vote and who would vote to raise their taxes this year?  Repairs to sewers, school bus maintenance, new vehicles, are all deferred.  And we know what happens when you defer maintenance: the cost later is much higher.  You remember the oil change ad: "Pay me now or pay me later?"  The implied threat is that if you pay later you may be paying for much more than new oil.

Counties and states have similar problems.  Raising traffic fines and issuing more citations is certainly a way to make your citizens hate you and fear the cops and will increase and not decrease traffic accidents.

The federal government just borrows more money from China -- but it is deferring services.  And that is government.  These are things that are hard to see.  Schools. That is a whole issue for after this.

Personal debt is in chaos.  With the new credit laws, money is really much more expensive.  Banks have increased their fees to extortive amounts.  Two years ago I borrowed on a credit card on a promotional rate of 4% and a $75 fee.  I checked this month when I got a 3% special offer.  It had to be paid back in 5 months rather than a year,  The transaction fee was $400.  I did not borrow the money.  In fact people who can are just not spending money.  Their credit card debt is at an all time low.  But people who need the things and money are increasing their debt astronomically.  I hear every few hours on the radio an ad on how to not repay the banks what you owe them.  Similar ads for not paying your federal taxes -- and the IRS has published notices that it is more tolerant on non-payment.

Health insurance rates went up in double digit percentages this year.  I am paying the same with Medicare and a supplement as I was paying in total last year before Medicare.  With the home loan foreclosures being at such high levels for several years, the COLA for Social Security will go down.  House price is a big part of the "market basket" computation.  But real income has shrunk.  Real costs have seriously increased. And Social Security will find another way to cheat the people who faithfully paid into it for 50 years.

My IRA is a third of what it was 10 years ago and I take out less than 5% per year.  That means that I live on one third of what I lived on ten years ago.  And my insurance has doubled and I have new car payments.

But I am better off than most.  I need not worry about working.  And I could not if I wanted to.  My health is good but not great.  My lot owner is now the ex-husband of my previous lot owner -- and he is one of the most dishonest people I know.  I was planning to move but I figure I shall wait until I have an incident with the new owner.  It is not to his advantage to evict me or even make me want to leave.

I fainted last week in a strip mall parking lot.  I do not know how long I was unconscious but people were walking around me when I woke up.  It could not have been long or I would have been run over.  I have blood pressure problems.  When I get up my pressure drops so low that I get dizzy.  To the point of needing to hold onto something for a few minutes.  If it were immediate I would just hold on to the side of the car but it usually happens about a half minute after I have started walking -- too late.  I reduced and then stopped taking blood pressure medications but two medications that I do take lower my pressure -- and those I cannot stop taking.  The problem occurs any time I am down for a while or any time I have been driving -- regardless of the distance or time.  Mostly I have the problem north of the border.  I do not have a reason for this as I think my pressure increases north of the border due to the increased anxiety level.

I usually write about politics on my politics page but I have abandoned it.  The case is simple: you are a criminal if you shout fire in a theater because you cause people to do things which will harm themselves and others. For exactly this reason, any Republican is a criminal.  Their leaders are causing their members to do things which are harmful to themselves and everyone else.

I ran into a man in El Centro last month who claimed to be an independent.  I think he registers as an independent solely to reduce his junk main and to keep from having to make a real commitment.  Hmm.  That may be sufficient reason for me to change from independent to Democrat.  I need to think about this.  This man's argument against single payer or public option is that he refuses to pay for someone else's health care -- even when the cost to him of real health care would be a small percentage of what he is paying now.  The Republican effort to ruin our public school system has worked when there are people like this.  Let us say that this man is in good health and has no medical claims other than routine physicals, etc. for a few years.  At today's rates, the current insurance cost him $6,000 per year.  For 5 years that would be $30,000.  Oh.  His employer pays for most of it?  Get real.  His employer is self insured: paying only administrative costs, benefit costs, and excessive cost coverage.  With health care rather than health insurance, this is $500 per month the employer could be paying the man.  $30,000 in 5 years would be a nice retirement package.  If the man has a family in similar good health, we are talking about $60,000 in 5 years.  If we are talking about the years from 25 to 30, this is enough for a total retirement package.  But he would rather pay this than have real health care.

Why? He does not want to pay for someone else.  This argument is so stupid that only someone with a moronic education would believe it.  What does he think insurance is?  A private company health insurance policy, real or employer self-insured has just paid for all of the policy holders who did need medical care.  That is what insurance is: it is the averaging of costs across its population.  If he did not need medical care then the money went either to someone else's care costs or someone else's pocketbook.  Easy.  This stupid person by being in god health has just made someone else rich and paid for everyone else's care.  Maybe this guy did have problems.  Maybe he had serious expenses that exceeded the $60,000 family allowance.  In this case, someone else paid for him.  I hope he objects just as strongly to this as the other way around but I doubt it.  Oh.  Insurance is a crap shoot?  He is willing to pay the policy price hoping he does not need the  care?  Right.  And 35% of what he paid out went into someone's pocket.  At least in Las Vegas (with the new rules) the house overhead is only 8%.  The same as for Medicare.

There is no valid argument against single-payer health care as would be the case in an extended Medicare system.  If every other industrial country in the world can provide health care for its citizens then the USA, the land of the free, is itself an oxymoron.  Or just plain moron.

Public Schools and My Dog

I have a separate page for my dog.  I got him at the start of the year.  I have lots of stories about him.  I am amazed every day by his skills and caring.  My friend Tom informs me that a dog is the ultimate con artist.  This may be.  My friend George informs me that there are other animals more intelligent than a dog but none are as socialized as a dog.  After 9 months with my dog, Dido, none of this matters.

Dido will touch me with his nose or slightly brush me with his fur as he runs past.  He does this just to let me know that he is there for me.  His communication skills exceed mine.  With sight head or body movements, he can convey information seriously beyond what words could say but he would use words if he were able.

His need to learn is similar to a very small child.  He will drop the ball into the ocean and watch the waves and wind move it.  He enjoys this.  He saw kids playing football/soccer and no his favorite pastime is to kick his ball around the yard.  When he returns the ball by kicking, he wants me to kick it back.  If he returns it to my feet, he wants me to kick it back.  If he returns it to my hand, he wants me to throw it.  If he stops with the ball in front of me, he is tired of the game.  If he runs into the ocean with the ball, he is cooling off and wants short rest.  If he returns and stays in the water he want me to throw the ball into the deeper water.  If he returns and waits on the shore, he want me to throw or kick the ball -- determined by his posture.  He has a very good defensive stance.  His favorite action is to run around the lot with and odd-shaped bottle attached to a rope.  He intentionally snags the bottle as he goes past things. He then figures out how to move to unsnag the bottle.  If all else fails, he grabs the bottle and pulls it away dragging the rope.  He is an Alpha dog type which means he wants to compete with me.  I do not give him the chance since his winning would make him my master.  We do not play tug of war.  He always goes down the stairs first if there are only a few steps.  If there are more steps and if by standing still, his eyes are higher than mine, I make him go down first.  I ignore his stare when he gets on top of the pickup because that would acknowledge his being higher and to an Alpha dog, the one on top is the master.

The other day at Walmart he figured out how to get out of the closed pickup.  He uses his toes very well.  I learned that he can open a plastic water bottle (and drink from it) with them some time ago.  Now he can slide the rear window open and jump out the back.

Why am I saying all of this?  Because as children was all behave in the same manner: we have a need to learn.  I saw it in my daughters and I see it in my dog.  If my dog can need to learn and my children need to learn then if someone has no need to learn then someone killed it.  By bankrupting our public schools both economically and morally, the Republicans have dumbed our society down to a level where the idiot who did not want to pay for someone else. By opposing health care reform this is exactly what he is doing.

Wauwatosa High School

Don't quibble.  When I went there, there was only one.  I went to the west campus.  The following year there were officially two but only after 1963.  Here is my problem.  Now Wauwatosa is no longer in the top 3 of the Milwaukee metro area.  Too bad.  It was then.  I have listened to people talk about how bad was our education.  I have commented upon my reading the WOrld Book in the 5th and 6th grades because I was bored.  I have bragged about my refusal to do homework.  I was a B- student.

If I had gone to a different school, it is unlikely that no matter how bored I got that I would have been permitted to read the World Book.  It is 55 years later and I can still remember many items that I read in those years.

If I had gone to a different school, would I have been permitted to not have homework or been in a position that if I refused that my education suffered?  I got a good education at Wauwatosa.  No.  I got an exceptional education at Wauwatosa.  And many people took great advantage of that same opportunity.  Some took advantage of the school and refused the opportunity.  You could go both ways.  The science department had the latest science texts -- some published in paper covers as they had not been officially released to public publishers and still had National Science Foundation hard paper covers.

I had a second year algebra teacher that I publicly ridiculed.  But I learned algebra and became a math major at the university.  I knew that the state animal was the white tailed deer (they changed it later).  I knew ow many amendments there were to the American Constitution (they had passed one the day before)..  When I got to the university, I protested the VietNam war but I also sat on the platform with Barry Goldwater.  I was involved with federal, state, and local politics when I got to the university.  Would I have had the interest, skills, or motivation if I had gone to a lesser high school?  I do not think so.  Others can talk about their high school and their education.  They may have had a lesser or better high school than myself.  They may have valid criticisms.  But I have learned from my dog that I had an exceptional opportunity to learn given to me by my parent's choice of home location and a school which encouraged (sometimes backhandedly) individual motivation and improvement.

Want a point-blank demonstration of this?  In 5th grade we moved to Wauwatosa from Ypsilanti.  The Ypsi schools were at least one grade full ahead of the Wauwatosa schools by 5th grade.  Proof of this is elsewhere.  But in my class, I was not the top student.  Bobby Bartelt was.  We competed for best scores in everything from arithmetic to spelling.  Everyone knew that we were the top two.  Everyone.  Not bad for the new guy.  But Bobby moved by 6th grade.  The Milwaukee/Wauwatosa city limit boundaries would make a gerrymander cry out in despair.  Bobby's new house sat on a corner that placed him inside Milwaukee although all of his neighbors were in Wauwatosa.  He went to the Milwaukee high School on Sherman.  I ran into him at the University as I was leaving my Calculus class.  He told me that he would never take an advanced math class: they were beyond his abilities.  In 7 years, his desire and ability to learn had been crippled by a line on a map.  I am sure that Bobby did well.  He was a good guy.  But someone stole from him his need to learn.

Crichton's Congo

I have read the book.  But I have been watching the movie.  People in the movie laugh at the relationship of the man with his gorilla.  Indeed it is their laughter that defines the relationship since the movie does not have sufficient time to do better.  I love my dog.  I wish I had loved my wife so much.  My dog loves me.  I have had dogs before.  I have had really smart dogs before.  I have had really loyal dogs before.  Maybe I have changed.  Dido is not obedient.  His obedience is a matter of convenience -- his to himself.  He will not come when called.  He escapes the lot every chance he gets.  Two reasons: he wants to know what changed since his last escape and he wants to find a little girl or boy to play with.

But the gorilla in the movie needs to be released to his own kind in the jungle.  He does this after showing extreme love and loyalty to his human master. Being petted is not a high priority with Dido.  I sometimes think he only permits it to please me at times it is convenient for him.  He also exploits his opportunities in the RV when he knows I am sleeping.  Today he found my Zip-Lock bag with trash in it.,  He had spread the egg shells all over the floor as he scoured the trash for something to eat.   Bits and pieces of egg shell all over the rug.  I told him he was a bad dog.  He already knew this and refused to look at me.  No false shame.  No hanging his head.  Just looked the other way.  An Alpha dog does not accept blame.  I used the vacuum cleaner to clean up the mess.  He hates the vacuum cleaner.  Usually I clean while he is outside but I was angry.  When I got it all cleaned up, he came over and sniffed the vacuum.  Maybe this monster was not such a bad thing after all.  He did not run for the door.  He did not hide under the chair. He lay where he was until I was finished.  His inspection showed that the floor was clean.  I went back to my movie.  He saw how he had hurt me.  Hurt?  He had done something that made me angry and sad and required work to restore.  He apologized and then asked t go outside.  Apologized?  He stood in front of me with his head down and waited to be petted or yelled at.  He was petted all over.  Then he went outside.  He has a short memory for the bad parts.  When I went outside, he was waiting with his favorite ball.  Holding a grudge against an animal (or your child) is about as stupid as the man who did not want to pay for someone else's health care.

I hope Dido learns better obedience but I would not trade obedience for his gentle touches or the pride he showed when he escaped the pickup and walked into the Walmart before me.  Walked? He can casually (and proudly strut) faster than many dogs can run.  You have to see it.  Megan is correct: I have the dog that was designed for me.  If you want a cute and cuddly little barking machine, you do not want a Border Collie.  If you want a subservient dog with which you can compete and always win, you do not want a Border Collie.  If you cannot accept an honest competition and then lose, do not compete with a Border Collie.  These wins he remembers.

Gentle Touches

I need to apologize to several people here.  All women.  My wife and several girl friends would gently touch me when they were near.  As, as I have have just mentioned, does my dog.  When I am tense or nervous, touching me will get an angry response.  It is exactly those times for which I must apologize.  When my friend touched me at these times, it was to show support and to let me know that they were there for me.  This I rejected and for all of those times my wife or girl friend was rejected, I apologize.

I do not understand and never will.  I accept the dog telling me that he cares enough to let me know he is there. Sometimes I know that the dog has the wrong home.  He is locked in the lot all day.  He watches the other dogs run loose.  He watches the people walk, run, or drive by.  He barks at them out of frustration: he wants to be with them. He wants them to stop and play with him -- even through the fence.  He does not bark at strangers except in the middle of the night.  He really needs more social contact than just living with me.  Today on the drive to the beach, I felt bad because he could only yip quietly as we passed other dogs he recognized.  I told him I was sorry and he hugged me.  If you have not been on roads like we have here, you have no idea how dangerous this is.  My rear tires have 15 pounds in them.  The roads are all sand and sudden stops will get you stuck.  There are 2 tracks down the middle of each road and intersections are really dangerous.  Some video games are easier than the drive to the beach.  A sudden attack by a 50 pound dog putting his paws on each shoulder and licking your face is  serious distraction.  Liz was right: my dog loves me and knows that I love him too.

OCTOBER

I fainted a couple of times and the cardiologist gave me a heart monitor to be worn for one day.  I had gone to El Centro two consecutive days and had gotten sick so when I needed the monitor, I did not return to El Golfo.  Instead I went to the Pio Pico Thousand Trails RV park halfway between Tecate and Chula Vista.  Interesting day.  We set up camp at the most distant campsite where there is a BLM road entry into the mountains.  We were a couple of miles north of the border.  We took a nice walk during the day to get us both some exercise.

As soon as it got dark, Dido started barking at invisible people: people hiding in the trees.  Illegals.  Dido would bark, the Border Patrol would show up and things went silent for a little while.  I got no sleep until I brought Dido into the tent.  I've said it before: Dido is not a big dog but he is massive and takes a large amount of space. But it worked out: no more barking but a lot of under the breath growling.  But every 20 minutes or half hour the helicopter with bright lights and the little Green/White trucks would show up, go through the gate and up the road.  I got to sleep sometime after midnight.  By morning all was calm again.  We took a short walk up the BLM road and then packed camp.

I returned the monitor and we shopped then went home.  A couple weeks later I saw the doctor and was told that my heart was normal except it missed beats mostly during the night.  No surprise.  I told her that as soon as I had fainted I figured it was a stress reaction and had canceled my move to the other lot.

Dido had a tumor removed.  We spent a good amount of time seeing the vet and his recovering his wound.

NOVEMBER

Dido's stitches come out this week.  I bought a propane catalytic heater for the RV.  Trying to keep the electric bill down this winter.  Expenses are high.  Social Security is frozen for the next couple of years because they use the same COLA market basket for seniors as they do the general population.  That is, house payments are a large portion and they went down and not up.  Everything else went up so the seniors lose.  At least Medicare did not go up.

The weather right now is great.  Mid 80's during the day. 60's at night.  Maybe we might get some rain.  I keep hoping.

"Holy Blood Holy Grail"

I joined Facebook a while back.  I have encountered a few, very few, high school friends.  I find the Holy grail book quite interesting.  It is the foundation non-fiction book from which "The DaVinci Code" fiction book was written.  I put on my status page an inquiry to see if anyone else had some input about this book.  The basis of the book is that the "Sangreal" is really "Sang Real" and not "San Grail".  That is Holy Blood and not Holy Grail (Chalice).  And that the blood in question is the blood line of Jesus.

Much to my surprise, rather than getting comments on the book, I got someone's testimony that Jesus is God, one of the Holy Trinity.  I am sorry but after living this many years and seeing so much of true and false and religious beliefs,  I must admit an undying belief that there is a God that created our universe.  I also believe that various person's of moral goodness or lack thereof have set themselves up as prophets.  Jesus being one of the better ones of these.  We will not go into the latter day false prophets.

The problem of Jesus is that his followers kidnapped his teachings and have convinced their followers that he was more than a prophet.  I have come to distrust anyone who claims to be a Christian.  I have no problem with people who do not talk about it.  A badge on the sleeve will drive me to higher ground.  GWB claimed to be  a Christian and attempted to change the USA into a theocracy.  But he never attended church services during or after his presidency.

My friend Connie Kearns back in Madison used to say: "Hypocrisy is the only sin".  That rings more and more true as I get older.  Go, Connie!

I want to take Dido for a mountain vacation as soon as he is better.  That may include a visit to Megan.

Gringos -- You Learn to Hate Them

I live on a corner lot facing more or less East on the North end of the lot.  The lot to the North of me is owned by Gringos who previously visited maybe three of four times a year.  The lot in front of me is almost empty.  There is a block fence but no house.  Kiddy corner from me and across from them is empty.  The lot to the West of me has a small trailer back from the road.  The lot across and back from me has a fence and a house that is visited also a couple of times a year.  In other words anywhere is open except the north side of my RV.

But my north-side neighbors who visit their house randomly but with increasing frequency have a young boy and an older boy and they bring one or two more.  They play baseball right next to my RV in the road between us.  Hardball.  And they regularly hit the side of my RV with the ball. They could play anywhere else and not endanger anything.  100 yards to the front. Nothing.  100 yards to the back. Nothing breakable.  Around the corner on the side of their lot.  Nothing.  Around the corner in front of me. Nothing if they go past the front of the RV.

In other words, they use the RV for a backstop.  They have ignored any number of polite requests to stop doing this.   This time I kept the ball and tossed it to the dog.  They stole the outdoor thermometer sensor from my car as they left for up north.  I can buy another one.  But I hate these people.  I have always been nice to them.  Always.  But no more.  I hate vandals and thieves.  I hate parents who raise irresponsible children.

The Dog and Breast Cancer

The dog got breast cancer and this has caused a lot of emotion (Dog) and trips to San Luis.  This cancer was rapid and on a male dog and a good chance will be fatal.  This is what frightens me.  Most men just smile and go on their way when they hear announcements for female health and breast cancer  examinations.  I have learned what most women already know:   Breast cancer is really dangerous.  It is fatal if not treated and it grows rapidly.  It is not only a cosmetic and psychological problem of a woman losing her breast.  The real problem is that if not treated almost immediately the woman (or man) can die.  My dog may still die but we caught it so early and started chemo so early that there is hope.

Three times.  The first tumor was removed.  Dido neatly removed all of his stitches leaving an open wound.  Resewn with drain tubes.  A second tumor, bigger. Removed.  The biopsy says no more cancer.  But this wound is now very long and very sensitive.  If we can keep Dido from tearing himself apart, in two weeks the whole tumor thing is history.  He has learned to leave it alone although it is so very sensitive that he has trouble lying down without having to put pressure on the stitches.

20 November

Yesterday I went back to the Bet because Dido had pulled out his drain tube and needed some more stitches.  That prevented anything else from happening yesterday since if I let him out of my sight, Dido would cause more damage.  I received another reprimand from the vet and was so depressed I bought some donuts for the trip home.

So, today I figured that if both of us spent the day together we would be so frustrated by nightfall that we would have a lousy Thanksgiving week.  We went to El Centro and I bought some things at Costco that are not available at Sam's Club.  Mostly I wanted the day traveling so that we would be close enough to keep him from scratching his wound but not confined to the house.  I bought a set of solar-powered flashlights as a gift for the vet. I discovered that he has a lot of business from snowbirds.

While leaving Costco, I tripped over one of those concrete logs in the parking lot that stop the car front wheels.  I do think the damage is not permanent -- but my right knee which took the major blow hurts.  Not like a pressure thing but like a thousand little pins stabbing me all at once.  I guess I am lucky as my head landed such that it scratched my glasses all up and they never left my face and my nose is dirty.  The dog threw up on the front seat but otherwise we had a good day.  When we got home he wanted to play -- I wanted some super aspirins but then my rat poison pills preclude aspiring.  I hope about 6 Tylenol will help.  I know 2 won't. 

I must visit people tomorrow.   Too much time spent alone this week.  Thanksgiving on Thursday.  It is amazing that the holidays are this close and not even a hint of SAD this year.  I think the dog has a lot to do with that.

Propane Catalytic Heater

I bought one of these to save on my electric bill.  I also bought a 2 gallon (?) tank. at Costco.  First off the gauge on the tank reads empty or full.  Running out of gas at 3 in the morning leaves me cold.  With electric I have a thermostat and and on/off switch.  The propane heater has one switch:  Off, Ignite, Low, High.  It costs 100 pesos to fill ($7.50).  If I fill it once a week, that is $30 per month and the electric bill would be more than $100. But.  I left the unit on last night, all night.  The RV kept toasty warm but in the morning my nose was so dried out that I spent the day in agony.  We shall not do that again.  I hope that the high position will heat the RV in the morning and I shall sleep cold.

The Invasion and the Coyotes

The El Golfo highway comes into the town center  from the north meeting at a 4-way stop.  West of the town (more or less) is the beach.  All of this area is occupied or is wet.  East of the highway (where I am rises) away from the beach.  There is a big sand/dirt hill east of town for most of the length of town.  Right by me the hill curves to the west.  This means that in front of me there is a row of lots and to the north of me there is a row of lots. But beyond these lots is hill. As it curves west, it slopes down to nothing.  As usual, the lots on the top of the hill are prime real estate.  Lots beyond the hill have no chance of seeing the water and so are not so valuable.  The hill sort of circumscribes the town.

So two things happen here.  The fishermen are out of work.  There are no shrimp and there are no fish.  Licenses are being resold to the state.  Hundreds of men looking for work and knowing that some day any property here will be valuable.  So, north of my hill from the highway to a ways beyond, lots have been staked out and occupied.  Mexico still has some adverse possession laws.  So people have moved on to the lots and do not leave them vacant.  At some point some legal decisions will be made and some people will be able to stay on their staked out lots.  Most will be sent packing.  This is not prime real estate since these lots are adjacent to the town dump.  But someday some of these people will be proud landowners.  They tried this south of town and the real owners called in the Federales and the Army.  But those newly staked out lots not claimed by original owners have new owners.

Since the road in front of me ends at my corner (more or less), I have a prime lot although it is at the bottom of the hill and not the top.  Very little traffic and the most of that from quads or pickups venturing up the hill.

But the invasion people have built their shanties from the north side of the hill to the dump and I think actually into it.  This might be wise since it is unlikely that someone currently owns the dump property and someday none of it will be dump.  There is no electricity to the invasion area -- nor is there water but that will change if the invaders are permitted to stay.

The current, or at least previous, tenants of the dump do not appreciate the new invaders and they make a lot of noise about it.  Coyotes go to the hill and complain about the loss of their lands.  Coyotes and people do not share well and sometimes lives are taken on both sides.  But the neighborhood dogs, that is my neighborhood dogs, do not like coyotes.  The complaining coyotes are growing in number.  The local summer puppies are growing into dogs.  I suspect in the near future we shall have a re-enactment of the "West Side Story" gang fight -- except that even the Mexicans would reject the sound track.  So far the coyotes have mostly remained on the other side of the hill but that is a temporary situation.  Oh. And you gringos have seen coyotes along the highway or in the zoo?  Scrawny little things sort of like red foxes except for color?  No. Our local coyotes might more be mistaken for wolves than foxes.

My Less Private Little Corner of the World

My landlord showed up last night with a pleasant disposition and reiterated his intent to leave me here indefinitely.  He checked out his house, found a small leak in the bathroom ceiling and promised increased police patrols in the neighborhood.  The police and everyone except the hill riders have basically ignored my corner but that is changing.  The lot across the street has a block fence and I think the house will start by Christmas.  They are moving a trailer onto the lot today and their own private street light on Saturday.  Kiddy corner is being restaked which means that the people moving the stakes are new owners and I can expect a fence to start soon.  The baseball people have shown more interest lately and the guy in the lot next to them has been in and out for the first times this year.  With the fisherman and his family behind me, the only open lot is to the south.  The invasion lots start on the north side of the hill and so I expect more pedestrian traffic coming by.  It also means more lights and less darkness at night.  I like it dark at night but my world is changing.  It will stop being private if the town completes the roads east and north of me.  That will happen but I would rather it happened later than sooner.  I see no advantage to anyone of completing the road over the hill since every rain would wash out the road again.  Completing the road north only gives better access to the invasion and the only reason they would want it completed is to give access to older neighborhoods.  I think this is not a good thing: leave the hill as it stands.

Oh.  The restaking?  The concept of "cheap" takes on a new meaning in Mexico.  When I moved onto this lot and installed the fence, I had the lot surveyed to guarantee the new fence location.  The survey moved the fence location from 3 to 6 feet on each side and squared the lot.  Only one corner had been correctly placed.  After I installed my fence, all of my neighbors corrected their fences by eye to match the lines drawn by my fence. I forget but the survey cost was between $50 and $70 and the guy came out with GPS equipment and everything.  Because his lines were so different from the original I asked it be resurveyed: same results.  But the new people across the way and the new restakers just use line of sight to measure their lots.  The guy across the street is pretty smart so he may have moved his lines and then had it surveyed.  Probably did.  But I know my Mexican neighbors did not.

DECEMBER


It is now the day before Christmas.  Dido is home from the hospital.  I am so happy but the vet hospital was absolutely ruining Dido's health.  Good care, god food, exercise, medicine, and a lot of love and I think he will return to normal health.

I cannot say the same about me.  When Dido went to the hospital, so did I.  My kidneys were killing me.  A urinary tract infection had gotten that far upstream.  But a day in the hospital and some more antibiotic and pain killing pills and I was in better shape.  Only better because two months ago I fell on my right knee and twisted it.  this hurt.  Two weeks later I fell again with that knee taking the brunt.  That got better but the original pain -- or maybe the combination, has me so sore that I cannot walk.  I can limp for a while but normal walking is out.  I cannot take aspirin or Advil.  Only Tylenol does not conflict with my rat poison pills.  I shall not return to the hospital or a doctor until the start of the year.  I will spend the time with my dog.  They we shall see about getting me fixed.

I can hardly stand up I am so weak.  Once up I go from thing to thing to lean on with occasional yelps of pain as I twist my leg the wrong direction.  It hurts when straight.  It hurts when twisted. It hurts when I am lying in bed.  It just hurts.

This year I went cheap on presents.  A few cheap things for a few close friends. Shampoo, etc.  I bought a half dozen of the Walmart throw blankets. Red and Green for Christmas.  They are great for sitting on the sofa and keeping your legs warm.  One will also cover a small child.

So, I bought enough supplies for 20 kids.  A bag of apples.  Two packages of socks.  Small candy canes.  I mean the really small ones.  A bag of chocolates.  Some balls, and a bag of balloons. Left over tennis balls, pencils, lollipops, and snack crackers make up the rest.  I placed these in a gallon size ZipLock with a sheet of Christmas tissue paper.  20 of these.  I blew it.  One the block around me covering both sides of the street, there are 30 kids.  Maybe more.   I am amazed.  I mean the block is 2 by 4 lots. 8 lots in the block.  20 potential houses.  In front of me and on each side, the lot is vacant.: minus 5.  The lot exactly opposite me is vacant with two of its corners vacant. minus 3 more.  There are 5 more vacant.  This means that in 8 lots, there are 30 kids under 12 years old.  I did not prepare for that many.  Oh.. I also have 6 packs of baby wipes.  These are in addition to the 30.  I passed out 15 gift packs before I realized I was in trouble.  I shall take my remaining 5 gift packs and fill them with leftover candies, balloons, and pencils and then pass these out one to each family.

It used to depress me that I got so few gifts -- if any -- at Christmas.  Now not getting gifts makes me free to enjoy giving little things to children.  Santa Claus has the right idea.  a few cookies and milk and on his way, leaving joy and happiness behind.  This is by far the greatest possible gift of al: knowing that you have left smiles in your wake.

I heard an interesting anecdote on the radio the other day.  I thought it was really funny.  One year a famous department store set up an 800 number for children to call Santa Claus and ask for their bundles.  But the papers misprinted the telephone number.  The number that was printed was a super-secret number to the predecessor to NORAD to indicate impending national disaster from a missile attack.  This attack center was deluged by tiny voices asking for Santa Claus.  Upon learning the error, the military voice answering the phones gave out the current location of Santa Claus on his world voyage.  This became the first time "NORAD" published Santa's route.  Annually televising a fake RADAR screen was easier than handling thousands of telephone calls.  The radio claimed that this is a true story.

27 December 2009

Who would have guessed?  I thought the previous would be my last entry this year.  But I twisted my right knee so badly that I could not stand up and the pain was so bad I could not sleep.  So, off to Yuma.  I thought about visiting the local doctor but he would have sent me to San Luis for X-rays.  The trip to Yuma was not really fun but interesting.  The San Luis line was short s I waited in it.  for 45 minutes.  Short but slow.  And I really needed a bathroom.  So I left the line and drove to Algodones.  I guess I am easily impressed and surprised.

I talked with Megan about my knee.  She agreed that it was not time for a replacement and I asked about my mother's knee.  I have never felt good about he artificial knee joint and I know other women who find the steel knew preferable to their original.  What is happening?  Megan tells me that until recently artificial knees were designed for men regardless of who got the knee.  She told me that the women had problems because they put different pressures on the joint than men.  I guess I am like the men who designed these knees: if it is strong enough for a man, why would it hurt a woman?  I spent the next hours in lines waiting watching women and men walk past my car.  I think it was a good sample since the waiting lines at the border are primarily of people.  I had never thought about it before.  I watched some young women and girls selling things from the roadside in addition to the seniors walking between the stores and the exit line.  We know that women walk differently than men but this is the first time I ever watched it.  The difference is obvious.  Men walk straight.  That is, they move their legs in a straight line.  Forward, backward, even sideways.  The joint moves in a linear path.  Any twisting seems to be from the waist up.  Not so with women.  Every joint in their body takes part of the twisting -- and there is more twisting.  A man might move his head to the side to speak to his partner.  The woman twists her entire body to meet the man's face.  He feet might even swivel on the ball of her foot.  Her neck will stretch sideways and up.  She will match the man's step which means a longer reach.  She may have proportionally longer legs but probably not equal to the man's and therefore, her steps are proportionally larger than the man's.  Interesting differences that no one but a homosexual, a sex fiend, or a bio-engineer is going to notice.  Like other things, it is not the physical strength of the artificial knee but its ability to easily move and support in the various directions that a woman requires that makes this design so complicated.  My daughter Megan, the bioengineer.  Me, the class dummy.

I stopped at the toll booth on Highway 2.  12 Pesos.  No big deal.  But for some reason, periodically there is a group of Federales checking cars coming from Mexicali into San Luis.  These are the really fierce police that you hear about.  Many wear ski masks to protect their identities because if the criminal element could identify them, their families would die terrible deaths.  The black uniforms are recognized around the world:  this is a Mexican Federal Police Officer and he can pretty much do with you what he wants.  Unlike the army officers, carrying rifles that were obsolete before Viet Nam, these guys carry weapons that you know are the latest technology.  Laser sites, rubber handles, all black.  I remember living in Detroit in the late 1960's.  The city police had mobile armories.  Police cars with the entire rear outfitted with special weapons.  Armored plating all around.  Bullet proof glass al around.  and you knew one when you saw not because it was labeled "TMU" for Tactical Mobile Unit.  You knew because it looked a little too fat and sat too low to the ground and the driver did not get out to chat with the other police officers.  These were intended to provide respect t o any police in an incident requiring one of these to arrive.  Now we have SWAT but then it was TMU's.

Well, when you see a Federale police car, the TMU image comes to mind instantly.  These are the 'A' Body Detroit cars and they are fat and they are black and they are squat and the officers in the immediate vicinity carry their weapons and their attitude at the ready.  If you want to approach these guys, think twice.  It is better that you wait for them to approach you if you really want the contact.  So today there is one of these road checks at the toll booth.  I always wonder what they are looking for that the military checkpoints have not found.  But these is always someone having their car checked when you ee these guys.  This time a car had its doors open and the officers were checking it out.

But then disaster struck.  I was gong the other way.  I needed a bathroom and I was waiting in the toll line.  And several of the Federales were frantically waving to me.  Then I saw the smiles.  They remembered me from another checkpoint further south and they wanted to see my dog.  My dog.  Dido.  He makes friends with everyone.  I had to point to the seat indicating that he was not here and then it was my turn for the toll.  The Mexican Federale Police have one of the toughest jobs in the world.  They travel around the country looking for trouble.  When they find it, people die.  Sometimes it is one of them that dies.

As much as I love this country and its general lack of respect for its own laws,  there is always the knowledge that what you are not seeing is very dangerous.  All of these friendly little towns with the smiling, innocent little faces and living in ever-improving houses, hide a drug industry that will kill you just because you know who they are.  When a police officer here stops you, he may be wanting money or just to wish you well.  I never heard of an American police officer asking you if you needed help and were enjoying your visit to his city.

All of my encounters with the Federales, have been extraordinary.  They are polite, friendly and smiling and it gets better when they meet the dog.  I guess I worry about this sometimes.  Once when I talked with one of them who just happened to have lived in Madison, Wisconsin, every one in El Golfo knew about it within a half hour.  I was seen in active conversation and pointing in different directions.

Once a month or so I get an offer to buy my dog.  To me this is more of a testimony for his personality than any bragging that I could do.

But I made it to the hospital having stopped 12 times along side the road between El Golfo and Yuma.  On the American side I find bathrooms but arrived at the hospital with dampened jeans.  I parked in front this time not too far from a convention of the little carts that carry you to the door.

I was treated and sent f my way with the name and number of a bone doctor to call.  A prescription for Vicotin.  Codeine with a Tylenol base.  The local drug store wanted $58.  I passed.  This is generic.  The ingredients are not rare or esoteric.  Vicotin should be on the Walmart $4 list.  I can live with a lot of pain before I give anyone $58 for a week's worth of pills.  I drove back home.

For two days now I limp around my RV.  Tomorrow I call the doctor and see what he can do for me.  I was really surprised that the emergency room could do no better than to refer me to a doctor.  The doctors I had called had a two-week to a month waiting line.  I hope this guy can see me at the beginning of next week.  I could have called on Monday and maybe seen him by Thursday but I am so tired that there is not a chance that I was going to make this trip again this week and with New Year's on Friday, there is little chance of a good visit this year.

But one thing surprised me at the hospital.  It was a real shock.  I was seen by a Doctor Romero.  He could have been Latin.  I thought so.  Maybe Italian.  Maybe Spanish.  I did not think about it much until he started pulling on my leg.  I mean he grabbed my upper leg with one hand and my calf with the other and pulled sideways across the joint.  Instant pain.  I screamed for him to stop.  Several times I screamed and he did not stop.  I looked down at my leg to see what he was doing and at this point he stopped stretching it and just held it taughtly in place.  I asked him to please stop and he did.  What was the shock?

I had been screaming in pain and yelling for him to stop in Spanish.  It took me a minute to realize that I had dropped my English and another minute to realize that either Doctor Romero did not understand Spanish or he did not understand pain.  I switched back to English and he let go.  I thought everyone in that hospital was at least a little bilingual.  I mean "Por Favor, Alto!  Tengo mucho duele!" would have been enough for someone who did not know Spanish to have stopped pulling.

But then that is why I prefer the California doctors.  I have not found the arrogance in California that I find in arizona.  It is just that  the nearest hospital on the California side with the facilities of the Yuma hospital is another 4 hour drive to San Diego.  To,oorw is another day.  The day after is another year.  Except for a few months of pain in my knee, this has been a great year.  And I have my dog Dido to share it with.

Summary

Written:  2009          Updated: December 30, 2009         Back To Top