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Year 2010: Exit Dido and Enter Bingo

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Paradise

Oh.  Off the top.  "Paradise".  This is a term very badly abused or at least misunderstood by people with low expectations.  It is the start of January at 10:00 am.  The sky is clear except for maybe some cloud wannabees off on the horizon.  There is a mild wind: my small Mexican flag is well displaying itself.  The sun is warm.  The sea is calm.  The mountains across the way have their tops covered with snow.

No hurricanes. No tornados.  Not even serious rain storms. A few earth tremors last week.  No rain in site.  Never a frost.  The temperature is in the low 60's and will get to the 70's later today and into the 50's tonight.  The humidity is about 40%.  So much for the Paradise geography.

The police will stop and ask about my dog.  I have the most wonderful dog, Dido.  I live alone in my motor home on a lot on the north side of town.  If I cannot buy what I want here, I can go 70 km north to a middle sized town or 130 km north to Yuma.  Minor health care here is free.  My monthly blood test costs about $9 -- I do not attempt to recover it from insurance.  The Yuma Hospital is a major medical resource for seniors in the southwest.

The children in the area all run to see me when I drive by.  Why not?  I probably have lollipops to pass out.  Exercise?  Walk up the sand dune across from my lot.  Food?  All of the Mexican food you could want at the local restaurants at at least reasonable prices.  Friends give me free fish.  They would give me shrimp but I do not like shrimp.

I pay no rent but I pay water and light. I get free Internet at the park.  I pay 1 peso (9 cents) per minute for my cell phone.  No monthly charge.  And I am slowly learning Spanish.  I do not lock my door at night and mostly I forget to lock it during the day.  I do lock the fence now that the local economy is in the pits (thank you, GWB).

No local taxes -- you do not have to add 10% to everything you buy here -- but you do when you cross the border or even this side of the border in the cities.  There is an 11% sales tax included in the price.  Locally it is often ignored.

Now if any of you think you can top this, let me know.  But do not bother me with locations inside the USA.  I have been to all of them and none come even close.

JANUARY

I have a really sore knee left over from last year.  Monday the 4th I go to El Centro to see the doctor.  El Centro? Just across the border in California.  Doctors in Arizona are too arrogant and you need to beg to get an appointment in less than three weeks.  Given my Warfarin, I could die in three weeks from internal bleeding.

The verdict is in: the sore knee is permanent.  The bone doctor says that I have worn the cartilage in my knees down to nubs.  He asked if I had a cane.  He gave me a cortisone shot and scheduled another appointment at the first of next month.  Arthritis.  There is no repair other than an artificial knee.  I liked Dr. Diaz but after a few questions about artificial knees, I figure when that time comes I shall find a different doctor.  He also said nothing good about Glucosamine and Chondroitin.  This puts him into the "traditional"  category.  After waiting a day after the cortisone shot and getting no relief, I took a couple of the G/C tablets and found instant relief.  Maybe I did not wait long enough for the Cortisone but my knee hurts.  He also recommended the Tylenol sin Codeine that I was already taking for pain relief.  In the last several weeks I have also noticed the pain changes with the weather -- and the weather has been changing a lot lately.  Every few days the wind changes direction but never has died down.  Up in Yuma there are serious clouds.

Yuma.  No.  El Centro.  I was so tired from the lack of sleep from the sensitive knee that I never made it back to Yuma.  Last night I slept OK.  Not perfectly but with the G/C pills, the pain is seriously reduced and my knee feels stronger.  I wonder how long it takes for Cortisone to take effect.  Thank God and President Johnson for Medicare.  Now if our lame duck president and our sold-out Congress will let everyone have Medicare, everyone can have the confidence that their health can be the primary consideration when they visit a doctor.

Traditional?  Great for general practice but I need someone a little more "modern" but not "radical".  Modern means that they are up to date on the latest technology and are ready to use it.  Radical means that they are not only up to date on the current technology but would be ready to experiment on me with leading edge stuff.  I do not want leading edge.  I want the latest proved technology (No, General Motors, I shall not use your word) that will give me good results and take away the pain.

And General Motors invented the word "proven" as their legacy before going broke.  It is sad that so many people watch TV that a company can actually manufacture a word and people believe it.  Evolution of a language is necessary but creating words is obnoxious.

23 January

Nothing exciting.  We had a week of serious rainy and windy weather.  Mostly windy but the first real rain in almost three years.  The town needed it badly.  Now we have roads that are roads and not just beach sand aisles between rows of houses.  Another culture thing: the Mexicans never seem to know when they are well off.  They peel their fruits and vegetables and wonder why their kids are starved for vitamins.  They pick and choose pieces of chicken throwing away what they call "grease".  IN fact much of it might be grease but if they are so concerned about grease, then why do they eat the skin?  And then there is KFC: always crunchy.  Fat and carbs!  But the issue here is roads.  They seem to dislike roads.  They spin around corners and just any place straight they can find.  Soft corners here are always a problem. Spinning around them makes them worse.  I do not understand.  In another week the rain will be history and the corners will again be bad.

Visiting the CRA park, people are complaining about the weather saying that this is the worst winter they can remember.  I have memory problems.  I remember historic details but cannot remember what I ate for breakfast.  But these gringos are just plain wrong.  It is January.  The coldest month.  My door and windows are open and it is almost 70 outside.  We had a week pretty cold but otherwise the weather has been very mild.  More wind than usual making life hard for the fishermen but temperatures mild and only this week with rain and a few drowsy days last month.

This last week however was serious.  The wind tore away my ramada (12' square) with the stakes being pulled up and making a pretty design on the hood of my Ranger before I could cut it free.  The shower curtains that I use for shade turned the ramada into a kite.  Now there is the bent up aluminum frame that I lifted over the fence so that it could not return and do more damage sitting quietly awaiting disassembly.  The rest of the yard I have picked up and is like it was before the storm except the sand is a little better.  Playing fetch with Dido, however, is returning the lot to its usual state: thousands of embedded paw prints.

I have been doing some cleaning.  The lot needed it but I need to get busy with the things I have been ignoring.  I replaced the circuit box connector that has been an eye-sore reminder that the  guy I hired to do the lot work never completed the job. He had an 18" orange plastic hose temporary connector from the main CFE box to a box for the RV.  After 2 1/2 years, this hose was just pieces.  I wanted to replace it with plastic connectors but found that another hose solved the connection problem much cheaper.  Just think, to go from the box around the corner, straight 6 inches and 45 degrees into the other box cost about $20 in parts.  2 box connectors. three angle connectors, and a section of gray pipe.  With the hose, it is one foot of hose and two box connectors, about $6.  For this I bought permanent hose instead of a bright orange temporary plastic hose.  Now the boxes look almost professional and should last more than 2 1/2 years.

I repacked my outdoor refrigerator.  I rearranged my electric toys in the Ranger.  I repacked the new 50 pound bag of dog food into Zip Lock quart bags and loaded them into the waste basket I have for this purpose.  And that is about it.  There must be more as I am tired and have worked at this most of the day.

I am procrastinating on the vacation trip until February  so that I can get past the January bills and see what needs to be paid.  January always has lots of bills.  This is the first year in 5 years that I have not had an IRS $10,000 payment over my head or credit card loans of the same amount due to repaying the previous year.  So now I can take my "pension" in 12 equal chunks rather than take $12,000 of the front ($10,000 plus taxes) and deal with $1,000 more per month.  And I need to spend considerable time reviewing my investments for the upcoming inflation.  The peso exchange rate is starting to favor the peso.  This is a bad sign for the American economy.

El Golfo is in serious economic straits.  Fishing and shrimping are becoming history rapidly.  With the wind this winter and the low shrimp counts, shrimping was almost nonexistent.  With the wind again, and the longer traveling distances for the pongas, fishing is almost nonexistent.  Longer?  The lack of Colorado River water over the last 10 years of the northwestern USA draught has caused the Sea of Cortez to erode its beaches into the sea.  The only solution is a massive dredging operation which will never happen.  The sea is filling in.  100 years from now El Golfo will be swamp and beach all the way across to the Baja peninsula,  There is a line drawn by the Mexican government which designates the northern sea as a preserve: only the small boats (pongas) can fish here.  But there are many problems with t is.  Fewer fish because the fishermen use mono filament nets miles long that catch anything that swims.  A few Mexican Navy boats check the nets but for the Navy there is no motive other than the command to do so.  Others in their family count on the fish.  Mexicans do not look to the future and so have exhausted the already diminishing supply of sea creatures.

The pongas have been traveling further south but when they cross the preserve line, they are competing with the large boats (barcos).  Many of these from foreign countries.  so fishing further south is not only more expensive but not productive.  And Puerto Peñasco has its own fishermen that do not have to travel from El Golfo.

The government has a solution.  It is buying back the fishing licenses at very high prices.  The intent is for the fishermen to start new tourist businesses in El Golfo.  But this is also non-productive and a real waste of money.  Instead of investing in their futures with these new businesses, they are improving their homes.  Why not?  A block home with real glass windows and a front door is better than a 3-ply shanty with a tarp rood and dirt floor.  A car that can travel with the entire family rather than a clunker that gets them around town but not on the highway (like my old Tercel) is desired by anyone on the American continent.  There are also lots of new hotels and restaurants.  Vacant.  There are no tourists.

Tourism is down for several reasons.  There is the American economy.  There is the American fear of Mexican travel (travel in the USA should be so safe).  There is the Mexican insurance thing.  The frontier is gone so you do not go 200 miles into the country just to be turned back for lack of papers.  However, you may need the same papers just to cross the border but at least you have not waster 400 miles. There is the American dislike of anything foreign, especially Mexican.  And these are generic things.

There is the specific El Golfo competition with Puerto Peñasco.  Here is where El Golfo loses big time.  They have just completed the new pretty highway from San Luis to Puerto Peñasco.  They have not yet completed the border crossing gates but those are coming.  You will be able to just drive from I-8 out of Yuma down new American highway to the border and then Mexican highway to Puerto Peñasco.  You will have missed all of the small towns between Yuma and San Luis.  You will have missed driving through San Luis Arizona and Mexico and you will have driven nice highway straight down to Puerto Peñasco.  96 pesos toll: a bargain at one tenth the price.  El Golfo: just a stop along the way.

When you can get to Puerto Peñasco with just another 90 minutes driving time why stop at El Golfo?  There is no night life here.  The stray dogs will attack you after dark and the remaining fishermen protect their streets by parking at odd angles to prevent tourist traffic.  Change is coming whether they like it or not.  Mostly not.  Children will be killed and cars damaged before this happens.  There is apartment construction but no one is moving in.  There is the "invasion" north of town.  Good luck guys.  The previous invasion was dispatched by the Federales and the Army.

Back to the Mexican (Sonora State) government.  I think that they would be helping everyone if they had an office here assisting the nueveau riche with plans for future businesses.  The last thing we need is another hotel with no parking spaces.  Currently a lot of people are visiting relatives a long distance away in their new cars.  So whereas the town appears to the tourist that do come here to be increasing in wealth, it is an appearance only for the time being.  In the next ten years we can expect to see major hotel franchises further south and maybe a few north.  Sort of like in Hawaii.  The hotels built their own "towns" on the beach away from the existing cities and thereby the hotel owners collect all of the money leaving the towns to fend for themselves.  In Hawaii there are, or at least, were, sufficient tourists to satisfy both.  El Golfo no and maybe never will.  But whatever happens will happen around the current population because there is no government direction assistance.  Just government money that will not produce food.

Enough.

We need to go on that vacation.  I need to get away from here and travel a bit.  Dido needs to see some snow.  I need to get m knee back in shape.  I do not know how to do that.  The cortisone shot from the doctor seems to have had no effect.  The Glucosamine and Tylenol seems to help.  Maybe just time after the couple of bad twists is doing the most.  But going shopping is a painful experience.  Next time I shall use my walking stick as a cane and see if that helps.  Last week I was almost in tears by the end of the day.

FEBRUARY

Drug Checkpoints

Something is going on.  I noticed that the checkpoint at El Doctor is more thorough.  Semi trailers were lined up so far that the cars were using the shoulder.  "Suspicious" cars were being gut checked.  Suspicious was the term that the soldier next to me used when I asked about it.

Then there was an army checkpoint at the turn for 57 -- in all 3 directions.  It was gone later in the day.  I think this is a traveling, random, surprise, checkpoint.

The line at San Luis was long but that is normal and I headed for Algodones.  The line was a little long but I have seen much longer.  But slow.  I was there over an hour and a half in a line that ordinarily would have taken 40 minutes.  They even tapped the floor of the bed of my pickup but nothing unusual for me.  There are now Mexican soldiers making random inspections going north.  The Border Patrol X-ray truck was there and that sometimes slows things down but it was not being used that I could tell.

I know Calderon addressed the Juarez situation last week on TV.  President Obama has sent Calderon some cabinet -level people to discuss the border problem.   Maybe, just maybe, the US will start doing its share halting the drug traffic. 

Trickledown economics is just another Republican trick to make the rich richer and the poor  poorer and to eliminate the middle class.  Making life easy for the rich does nothing for the others.  Such a lie.  The rule of supply and demand is that if you decrease the supply, demand is not met.  If you change demand, supply also needs to change.  Turning this upside down does not work.  Applying this to the drug industry means that the US needs to reduce its demand and the supply will decrease to match.  GWB and the others all blaming Mexico for supplying the drugs does nothing to help.  It just makes things much, much worse.

Calderon ran on a platform to reduce the drug trade.  But one man cannot change a culture. GWB left him out to dry.  Mexicans on both sides are dying.  Obama has given only token support.  Until now.

I really wonder how so many Americans can live with their blinders in place.  This is an American problem.  If America would do the three things that I have said in other places, the problem would stop.  Three things?  Reduce demand.  Reduce money going south.  Reduce arms going south.  If any or all of these happened, the drug industry would dry up.  No demand.  No money.  No weapons.  No problem.  The police wear masks to protect their families.  Unlike the USA, family is very important in Mexico.  For every police or soldier or drug dealer killed there is a fatherless family.  The American people cheer when one of the enemy, any enemy, is killed.  They shed a tear, a dry tear, when one of their own is killed.  When any human being (or an animal) is killed, the entire world is diminished.  Love is lost.  The Mexican drug dealers would not be drug dealers if the Americans did not make it profitable.  If Mr. Obama is starting to help, we have made the first step in a long journey.  Forget people crossing the border.  Stop the drugs from crossing the border.

Telcel

Later --  when I am not so angry. 
Whatever you do, do not sign up for the Telcel Internet!
You sign an 18 month contract that you must pay regardless whether or not they provide the service.  And they do not provide the service -- their toy air card cannot handle the traffic and just stops.  Every 15 minutes or so.  Sometimes hard to tell as the data speed makes dial up on an analog line seem fast.  Their air card reminds you of a children's toy telephone.  Pretty blue with lots of bells and whistles but it does not really make calls.

14 February -- Mexican Labor Versus My Education

When I was in Junior High (called Middle school now), I attended a brand new school, Longfellow.  I have lost track of directions but I think it was the north side.  It was entirely non-academic.  If contained the shops, the art classes (Thank you Mr. Crandall), and the home economics.  And no, boys could not take Home Ec and girls could not take shop.  But for three years we learned in art class to carve soap, glue toothpicks, and draw.  I did poorly.  We also had metal shop, wood shop, electric shop, and print shop. Yes, we learned to set type and we learned the value of serifs.  If the type is set in the correct directions and properly seated, the serifs form a straight line from one end to the other.  This is how you told if you had an inverted sidewise character.  I remember print shop and I also did poorly but not as badly as art class.  But wood and metal shops were invaluable.  No, I did not do well in them either.  But it is shop that I now know made a great difference in my life.

We learned to use tools properly and to use the proper tool.  We learned safety and procedure.  I still remember: "Measure twice. Cut once."  We learned to use the original stick when making copies and not use sequential sticks.  Sequential sticks tend to migrate longer or shorter.  We learned to cut all of our materials and then assemble them.  Process.

I have had a series of those aluminum strut ramadas in front of my RV.  Ten foot square things you can buy at Costco or Sam's Club or WalMart for about $100.  The prevailing winds will tear apart the canvas top leaving you with just a frame.  I replaced the canvas top(s) with shower curtains and swim tubes.  I thought it sort of pretty as I mixed the colors.  But the other day a serious wind came along and uprooted my ramada leaving a trail of stake paint cuts across my car hood.

El Golfo is in serious economic trouble.  The shrimp/fishing industry is gone.    They are building hotels and restaurants and there are no tourists.  Even the real estate agents have fled town.  One of my Mexican friends stays employed by the construction of these buildings and the modification of others. So I hired him to put up a permanent ramada with green mesh screen on top.

I watched outside for a while and made various comments to improve what was being done.  I would have needed to replace his work if I had not been there.  When I felt I had corrected what needed to be corrected I went back inside and watched Jurassic Park.  Had I stayed, he probably would have left and we would have both been angry and our relationship damaged.

Some thoughts here.  All of the lumber bought at the lumber store is used and not new.  It is marked up and full of broken knots and dried split outs.  But it is good hard wood and not the soft white wood that I would have gotten at Home Depot.  The wind is not going to knock down my new ramada.  The green mesh turns out to not be square.  This causes some fitting problems.  We made the ramada eleven feet square presuming an extra six inches per side.  We were lucky to get it to fit on the wood frame -- the six inches were never n the same place.

But the disheartening part here was that the man had no concept of what would have to be done.  The four corner posts were each set in concrete.  He measured each one separately and cut each as he dug the hole for it.  Me. I would have dug the four corner holes and then cut the four corner posts.  When setting them into the holes, added concrete, staked them with angled wooden  supports.  I would have measured the holes for altitude and location.  I would have measured the posts as I set the supports.  I would have measured the diagonals to make sure that my ramada was square.  This for starters.  My friend cut each post, dug each hole, and set each in concrete, held by his assistant until it did not move on its own.  He measured the location multiple times as he set each new post.  It never occurred to him to measure the diagonals.  When I suggested it, he just remeasured his original distances and pronounced it square.  It pretty much was -- mostly because of the continuous repetitive remeasurment process.

Two days later he came back to install the roof. He measured nothing here except to measure how long a piece he needed and then cut to that length.  He placed five cross pieces set with those metal collars.  He measured each one.  Each time he cut the piece slightly too long and had to hammer the piece in place.  Oh. He had made two lengths and bolted them in place before he made the cross pieces.  He cut threaded bars instead of using bolts.  As a result each "bolt" is a different length.  Since he bought the bars according o the needed length, he had to drill out some of the wood on his final pieces and his original were longer than average.  Besides looking shoddy, it cost him extra work.  He maybe saved a dollar with his bars.  It cost him hours of hack saw cutting and filing the end threads to accept the bolt.  He did not understand my suggestion of placing nuts on the bar before sawing.  His crossbars could have easily matched exactly to the side bars.  He could have measured where the collars should go in both location and height.  Because he did not measure the height one end of the first and last crossbar was misaligned by more than half an inch.  It never occurred to him to drill the bolt holes in any of the posts or supports before installing them.  He drilled each as he went along.  He then started to place the green mesh over his misaligned cross pieces and this is where I stopped him.  I made hid cut down the corners so that the green mesh was not stretched across a sharp edge. Things did not get better from here and at some point I shall need to replace the mesh.  But if I had remained any longer the ramada would not have been greatly improved and our friendship would have dissolved.

He had his wife use her cell phone calculator to compute distances.  In measuring 5 crossbars.  You place the end bars and then divide the remaining distance by two for the mid piece and then divide by two again to locate the other two.  He could not divide the distance by two without his wife's help.  He had approximated it by folding his tape measure in two.

And this is why I value my shop experience.  My making projects with my father who was much more strict than my teachers made me mostly impossible to work with in an environment of uneducated workers.  I will pay him more than he would have been paid by a local "contractor" but not nearly as much as I would have had he done a good job.  Mostly I am sad.

This is not just a Mexican thing although it is disheartening.  He worked very hard to produce what he thought was a good job for me and it was not even close to the quality I wanted and would have easily done for myself.  I had originally thought to do it myself and have him only buy the materials for me (as a gringo I pay more at the lumber store).

I had a boss once who always repeated: :Work Smarter.  Not Harder."  Thank you, George Berry.

I shall always remember the annual tours of the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn.  On Henry Ford's birthday every year there was an open house.  You got to see the offices and walk the assembly lines and have cake and ice cream and soda.  A big deal for us locals.  The disheartening thing here was the two by fours used to align the car doors.  At the end of the assembly line, workers forced the doors into alignment with these wooden studs .  Car assembly was not a precision process.  Remember the Nissan TV ads where the ball bearing smoothly rolled the metal fitting lines?  We invented the automotive assembly line.  We could have made the cars to the same precision of the Japanese.  We just refused to let our education show through.  And now I resent every American product that I buy.

February 16

Dido died today.  Nothing else matters until I get my head back on.

OK.  Trying.  I spent most of the night on the Internet searching for a Dido replacement dog.  My criteria was specific: it must not remind me of Dido but must be intelligent and trainable.  I searched pet adoption web sites, animal shelters, etc.  I felt that until I had a new dog that I would just sit and cry.  And I was doing a lot of crying.  I found 4 or 5 dogs that met my criteria.

The big problem was that for the pet adoption centers you needed to fill out an application and maybe provide an interview.  If you ever had a dog run over you were ineligible unless you could prove it was not your fault -- and it is always your fault.  The county animal shelters did not have this requirement but you took more chances on the quality of the pet.  In the morning I headed out to the Mesa AZ animal shelter.  They had a good looking match for me.  By the time I crossed the border and was halfway to Mesa, the dog was gone.  An adoption center north of Phoenix (Anthem) stopped returning my calls.  A place in California called "Halfway ToHome" sounded like they had a match for me  -- I had seen his picture on the web.  I got to Los Angeles and I could not get past an overloaded answering machine and then headed back home unhappy about the loss of a dog but satisfied for the diversion taking the entire day.  Then I got a call from "Halfway ToHome" with the dog.  Lancaster/Palmdale. 4 hours away.  I spent the night in a motel (really rare for me but I needed a good night's sleep).  My judgment was gone and I needed to resettle my focus.  In the morning I wondered out into the desert north of Lancaster to meet the Halfway ToHome woman: Suzanne. 

When I say "middle of the desert", this is an exact description.  I left asphalt behind and entered a network of dirt-track roads.  Some of the corners had make-shift signs.  Most did not.  I live in "Beach" desert.  This is "high" desert.  I felt right at home.  The Saguaro cactus have evolved into Joshua trees.  I love Joshua trees.  When I got to where I thought I should be, I called. Suzanne was standing 30 meters from me in a driveway.

She said the dog was not a Border Collie. It was an Australian Shepherd.  I fell in love with it instantly -- from 15 meters away.  Suzanne had 25 dogs and this one stood out.  Spindly but excited that there was a visitor to the ranch.

The next problem was that Suzanne was hesitant on Mexico but she had promised and she was a woman of her word.  Her organization requires a contract that I shall have difficulty filling but I am also a man of my word.  I shall have the dog chipped.  There are no dog licenses in my town.  But if lost  with proper tags, he can be returned home and if lost north of the border there is the chip.

It was a ten hour drive home and I slept well.  You can read more about the new dog on Bingo's web page.  And he is indeed a Border Collie!

It is now the 20th and one of the neighbors tells me that down on the next block are some Dido puppies about to open their eyes.  He remembers because they are so pretty.  And they are already sold out.  Puppies sold in El Golfo for real money?  Wow.

MARCH

1 March

We went to town today.  Visiting Telcel took so much out of me that when it took an hour and a half to cross the border, I stopped at Kinko's, KFC, and the CRA park and then returned home.  I needed to go other places but I was worn out. from Telcel.

I do not really like KFC.  I like that  their grilled chicken is meat and bones and not covered with crust.  The real thing is my dog.  I like the dollar specials at Carl's Jr. but they are like hamburgers: mostly bread.  I do not want to fill my dog up with bread.

Bingo sleeps in the back and does not like the front.  I got my new cell phone(s) in the mail.  My poor old PEBL has a broken external display that I suspect will cause a problem one of these days.  I have already seen a message claiming the SIM was bad (I hope not).  The Samsung died the other day and so I ordered two new phones: one purple and one blue.  The Samsung was OK: a bad charger drained instead of charging.   Interestingly the new phones came with brand names on them although they are unlocked.  My Blue phone is Telcel and thinks it is AT&T.  Technology has sped past me.  I cannot figure out how to make the Bluetooth operate even though I can get the computer and the phone to pair.  I need to go online and get device drivers for the phones to use the USB cable.  I have a new Microsoft mouse that will not install and so it uses an older driver and the wheel operates sporadically.

Today we do laundry and rest up from the trip yesterday.  And I forced a new driver in for the Mouse so that it works OK.  And after many add/removes, I got the PEBL Bluetooth working.  I needed this to copy the pictures to the PC so I could download them to the new phone.  The new phone Bluetooth seems to work OK but pairing took a while.

6 March

Tomorrow is Bree's birthday.  I always remember her original birthday.

Not much is happening.  My knee seems to have recovered as it only aches a little.  I fell down walking the dog and my thigh hurts.  I guess that happens as you get older: falling down is not simply a matter of getting up again.  I went to the health clinic this week and got flu shots: regular and super (H1N1).  For the first time in my life I had no reaction to a flu shot.  I was surprised.  A friend had two sore arms for a few days and could not work.  Flu shots in Mexico are free as is most preventative medicine.  Anyone against Medicare-for-all is just stupid.

Oh.  I heard on the radio that even Mexico has national health care.  Finally I hear about someplace other than Canada.  The radio only had half the story.  IMS ("EEMS") is the national insurance and costs about $280 per year.  Gringos under 40 can sign up for it.  Gringos over 40 may also sign up but need a certificate of good health from a doctor.  This gets you free health care at any hospital with any doctor.

But what if you do not have IMS?   You get free health care at the local clinic.  I do this.  Local clinics and hospitals are primitive but serve their purpose.  A woman can go to one of these and have the baby delivered for free -- by a gynecologist.  She needs to supply her own clamp for the baby's cord and diapers for herself and the baby and has to pay about $100 for the baby.  Her care was free.  And the USA?  The politicians are afraid that the insurance company profits will suffer.  and who cares about the guy who has to pay the premiums and finds the insurance company won't pay his bills for some technicality.

I have ordered new sandals that should come at the end of this week.  When I get to Phoenix, I shall buy some hiking shoes and some tennis shoes.  At the start of the year I figured I could do one of two things. I could take out enough money to pay off the Ford and have more to spend on other things.  Or I could spend more on other things and try to pay off the Ford with what was left.  I have been doing the second.  I have lived poor for so long that I need to feel a little like I can use some of what I worked 40 years to accumulate.  Like shoes and next month a dentist. 

But thanks to Jim Loney at UBS, my income tax is about 20% instead of 5%.  For those of you paying a financial advisor, I can only say this: I was stupid enough to do so and it cost me half of my retirement funds.  I have moved most of my money into a Fidelity account and am slowly recovering.  I am taking out $2,000 and the account is growing by about $4,000 more per month and I am still offloading things that Loney bought in favor of more profitable items.  The money that he still controls is diminishing and not growing in a market that is growing to fast for its own good.  How do you lose money in such a market?  I think it takes real work and I know he is making good profits from his lack of effort.

I have been so busy for the last 6 months taking care of my world (and fighting TelCel) that I have not had time to move my stuff away from UBS.  That shall happen this month.  I need to talk to Fidelity on the phone and Morgan Stanley in Yuma and maybe a few others to do this.  My self-directed IRA has grown 30% since I took it away from UBS.  Another 30% and I can stop worrying about my future.

9 March and El Centro

I wanted one more trip across the border before I take my short vacation.  I stopped off at the vet and then headed for the San Luis crossing.  As usual a long wait.  OK as I needed some Glucophage and I headed off for Algodones.  Bought my medicine and saw another long line.  Wow.  I headed for Mexicali East.  The longest line ever.  Made a stop for the dog and headed for Mexicali Central.  Another long line but this is my last hope.  On the phone while waiting I initiated the IRA transfer to Fidelity.  Really helpful and it should happen this week.  Hooray -- the end of the theft of my money by the UBS money handlers.

But El Centro is not Yuma.  There is a FedEx north of town but no Kinko's -- no Internet.  The stores here are always short on "good" although the recycle guy in the Walmart parking lot is a positive part of the visit.  Going down the list:

Walmart

Bigger and better since they opened the new one a couple of years ago.  Old format so it must have been more than 3 years.  But they are always out of the things that I need.  The pet department in most Walmarts is under stocked but this one is bare bones.  No new leash for Bingo.  No choke chain.  Yes. anti-tick stuff.  McDonald's. I wish more Walmarts had other restaurants.  McDonald's is not a good choice for WalMart.  It leaves a bad taste for Walmart when you eat at the fast food that gives you the least food for your money and then count what you have left for you shopping.  The last time I went to a Walmart McDonald's the tiny piece of fish from two fish sandwiches fit into one bun with room for a third piece.

And they had no (zero!) shorts in size 48.  There was one 46 in their entire stock.  I do not mind paying the extra $2 for the large size but at least stock them!  Since I was down to two pairs of shorts, this was a primary item for the trip.

Lowe's

I like Lowe's because they usually have what I want and I got tired of going to Home Depot's and after searching discovering that they did not.  Now I do not bother -- I just go to Lowe's.  But in Lowe's I always run into the parts bins either empty or full of the wrong merchandise for the label on the bin.  This was no exception.  I finally got all of the fence and gate parts that I needed and went to check out.  I was lucky.  there was only one check out open and only one person in front of me.  But then one of my pieces did not have a sticker.  I know someone was working the outside fence stuff as I talked to him while I was there.  But when the cashier called, no one answered.  She sent someone back.  She went to the next register to help other people while I waited.  I think my comment to them that the wait for my stuff would take a long time was sufficient incentive for this action.  She ran out of people to help.  I ran out of patience.  I left with no fence parts.

Carl Jr.

This trip I did not stop there as I needed more meat than bread for the dog.  When I first started going to EL Centro there was a Carl's Jr. at the main corner in El Centro.  I went there once.  I ordered my food and then went to the rest room.  I wished that I had done this in the reverse order as I would have never ordered the food.  The rest room was so filthy dirty that it looked like it had never been cleaned since the restaurant opened.  I mean layers of dirt  on everything: walls, toilets, urinals, sink.  Sink?  I felt cleaner when I went in than when I left.  The food tasted OK but I felt dirty inside and out.  The restaurant burned a few weeks later.  I suspect they lost their health rating and it was arson but then who am I to make such accusations.  If dirt burns, it is amazing they lasted as long as they did.  There is a brand new Carl's Jr. there now but since it probably has the same management, I do not bother even trying.

There is another Carl's Jr. on 4th.  I went there but they overcharged me on my hamburger (their big) and I complained.  Since this held up the line, they refunded the overcharge and the manager accused me of refusing to pay the sales tax.  No. She was illiterate.  I showed her where the register had charged a higher price than their billboard for the hamburger.  She could not read her own receipt when I showed her the difference.  Where do they find these people?

KFC aka Kentucky Fried Chicken

This is a disaster.  This is the second time of two times that I have left with spoiled chicken.  Usually I prefer KFC to the other brands (e.g. Church's) because the chicken is larger and fresher.  Not at this KFC.  Both times I left with a stomach ache.  I should have known there was a problem when the dog would not eat it.  I headed back to Yuma from here.

This ended my trip.  When I stopped in Yuma for the dog, I had explosive diarrhea as I exited the car.  I mean diarrhea all over everything: my underwear, my shorts, my socks, my shoes, the ground around me.  I never saw such a mess.  I spent the next half hour cleaning myself up.  I even moved the car forward so as to not walk in the mess in the street.  The dog did not get a walk but had to go to the end of his leash to get out of the road.  I used up half a roll of paper towels, the two towels that I carry for emergencies. Both sets of spare underwear (a second batch of diarrhea arrived about the time I thought I was finished cleaning up.  I moved the rug from the dog's seat to mine and drove in my only remaining underwear hoping that I got no stops for inspections as I crossed the border.  All of the stuff with shit on it was in the truck bed and it stunk pretty badly.  I still smelled as there was residue on my legs.  I had used both gallons of water cleaning up but that had not been enough.

Luckily the Border Patrol passed me through going south.  I got a green light at the crossing and thought I was home free.  No such luck.  I was stopped at the MX 2 San Luis checkpoint.  They recognized the truck and let me through.  At the checkpoint at the 57 turnoff I was stopped.  They first noticed the underwear and when I mentioned the diarrhea, they caught a whiff of the smell and passed me through.  I heard them laughing as I drove away.  When I got home, I took a quick shower.  Also took an antibiotic, a few Imodium, and some Pepto-Bismol.  So much for KFC in El Centro.

Doctors and the Hospital

Why bother with El Centro at all?  For a couple of years my Siemens health insurance covered all of California.  El Centro was the closest large city.  The South and Eastern most city in California.  It is primarily a tourist town with a high senior population.  Historically an agricultural center for Death Valley (now called Imperial Valley).

There is also a nice little hospital in El Centro.  New and reasonably efficient.  The doctors in El Centro are overbooked but very helpful.  Many commute between offices in San Diego and Palm Springs.  They will send you to San Diego for anything more serious than the little local hospital can handle.

Etc.

My favorite chicken restaurant went broke and now a Mexican-named chicken restaurant is there.  I like it but the salads have little chicken and the chicken dishes are sort of expensive.  The dog gets the chicken and I eat the salad.

The Post Office has a long line -- usual for post offices.  The usual know-nothing clerks.  FedEx is north of town off of Aten Road.  Lord knows where UPS is.  I have not bothered.  Next to Costco ( a small one), is the Staples and Kmart.  Across from them is the Target and the Lowe's.  My bank is in the same complex as are the car dealers.

Imperial Valley Mall

I can say nothing of this huge complex as I have never even driven past it other than stopping once at the Home Depot on its north side.  Someone had a good idea for this mall since it is convenient to both Calexico and El Centro and will become the center of both someday.

Yuma -- El Centro Synopsis

I like this little town but .  It is not Yuma.  I always wonder why people are attracted to California over Arizona as a place to live.  Arizona would be better off with more Californians.  California prices are always higher.  The taxes are overwhelming.  Sometimes the price difference between Yuma and El Centro for gasoline is 50 cents per gallon although now it is only 20 cents.  California people are friendlier than Arizona's.   Certainly more hospital to Spanish-speakers than Yuma.  If the reason for the trip is shopping in Yuma is by far the better choice.  If the reason is minor medical, go to El Centro as the doctors have the better attitude.  Major medical: Yuma for the large hospital (some nurses are very rude).

The Yuma area has 4 Walmarts, 1 Sam's Club, and no Costco's.  I think that this is a poor choice on the part of some Costco executive.  The lack of a Costco is the only reason I carry a Sam's Club card.

All in All, my trip to the USA on this day was a total loss except for the Fidelity phone call.
Now I need another trip to Yuma before my vacation.

15 March

I changed the oil yesterday.  I saw transmission fluid on the outside of the Ford Ranger transmission.  Today's visit got what I needed to get and then a stop at the Ford dealer.  I have an appointment for inspection/repair on Friday.  I am one thousand miles within expiration of the warrantee.  I have always hated things designed to fail upon expiration of the warrantee.  Now I need to buy an extended warrantee for fear that other things will fail.  Either that or trade the Ranger for a real car.  I may do the latter as I am really tired of driving an inferior car.

We left at 3 am to beat the rush across the San Luis border.  No such luck.  The line was already back to 20th street.  I consider anything longer than 7th too long but Algodones is closed that early and with Daylight Savings Time, add another hour before it opens.  I had actually stopped before we got in line to go to the bathroom but after an hour in line, I was again desperate.  We left the line and headed for Algodones.  No chance for an early start.  We stopped at one of my favorite stops to let the dog walk.  I drove a ways off the highway and let him out without his leash.  Bad mistake.  It took an hour to get him back in the car.  During that hour, he headed for the highway -- one kilometer away at this point but these Border Collies can really travel.  This is definitely Alpha Dog behavior.  The sad part is that I cannot ever again let him off the leash until we have completed a successful obedience course.  I do not need another dead dog.

16 March

Bingo has obeyed no commands today.  I did catch him once for the morning walk but he has made sure that I never got close enough for the second walk nor to enter the RV for the night.  This is beginning to really wear on me.  I try to be really nice because of his previous abuse but he will either learn to obey or he will never leave the lot.  I did not get a dog to leave on the lot while I went somewhere else.  I bought a dog for the company.  He will become a "second" dog if he does not start to understand that we are in this together and it is not going to be a contest.  Any contest either a one-on-one difference or a permanent disagreement will be his loss.

22 March

Life goes on.  Bingo is taking up much of my time.  The Ford Ranger all of the time remaining. 

Friday I went to Yuma expecting to take the entire day.  No.  They do not stock transmission seals.  The seal is apparently the problem.  It might be worse: they could take the transmission apart and discover it is full of corn flakes or ruined parts.  In any case I bring it in again on Wednesday to have them replace the seal and I cringe on the thought of the corn flakes.  I expect to be in Yuma both Wednesday and Thursday since I do not believe them when they say that it will take "all day".  I suspect that they will run into Thursday.

So now I have a real problem.  I have discovered that Ford quality is as good as anyone else's.  I have also discovered that Ford Rangers are just poor facsimiles (cheap copies) of the real light pickups made by other companies.  The warrantee will have expired by the time the car is fixed.  I paid a thousand dollars extra for this warrantee. Extending the warrantee is obviously necessary if I am to keep the car.  Another couple thousand dollars down the drain.

I have already called Costco and I shall call Sam's Club for their Nissan dealer representatives.  While I am in Yuma waiting for the Ranger I shall visit the Yuma Nissan dealer.  In two more weeks I should have a brand new Nissan Frontier or whatever they call it.  The Ranger has been an expensive lesson in why you should never buy Detroit iron.  This time it is for real.  I have promised myself multiple times to not buy American.  The Ranger is the final straw.  Never again.

Toyotas are priced out of range.  This is why I bought the Ranger the first time.  Nissans are now about the same price as the Ranger.  The 4-cylinder Ranger was seriously under-powered.  Probably why the transmission seal broke.   I suspect a 4-cylinder Nissan would have sufficient power but why take the chance?  My first car was a Dodge Coronet with the smallest V8.  It turned out that the standard sized V8 actually got better mileage and lasted longer.  Why?  Because the small engine had to work harder to do the same work.  Working harder uses more gas and wears things out faster. This time I buy the 6 cylinder.  The new Nissan will also have a standard transmission.  The Ranger automatic transmission wore itself out shifting up and down at normal highway speeds (60 mph).

Hopefully I can trade the Ranger for enough to keep my payments the same and just add a few years to the count.  The RV will be paid off in about 4 years and then the only payments remaining will be the car payments.  I had hoped both would be gone in three years but it is either pay for a new car now or pay for extended warrantee and more repairs on a car that I despise.

At least the only expense is money.  The way the Ranger handles on the highway, I could be dead.  When I had the Tercel, an all day drive to Oakland (750 miles) left me really tired the next day.  The 250 mile round trip to Yuma leaves me tired for two days with my back and arms really sore the first of the two.  And, worse, by the time I get to Yuma I am already exhausted and usually cut my shopping short.  There was no painful hangover on Tercel Yuma trips.  The Tercel drove comfortably at 80.  The Ranger is dangerous at anything over 55.

I have also run into a minor problem at CRA.  The goofball running the Wi-Fi there insists upon me paying for using his system.  I have never used his equipment.  I can't.  I do not know the password.  I have used the Prodigy modem on a few occasions when I had problems otherwise.

I have made arrangements with the park manager to use his office system.  My equipment is better than the goofball's and I will be the only one using it.  I have heard rumors that the goofball, after initially spending 8 times more than he should have, has bought new equipment -- again at seriously inflated prices.  As if Best Buy were not bad enough, I hear that he went to Radio Shack.  Maybe I should ask if he wants to buy a used Ranger for the price of a new Nissan.  Maybe the reason Marcy is harassing me is that he is desperate for money.

Enough.  I think Bingo is coming around but there is still much more work to do.  Between Bingo and the Ranger, there is little time to think about Dido.  When I sometimes think that I have never known love, I know that I loved my Dido.

Next week is Semana Sancta (Easter week).  The forecast for tourist dollars is dismal.

APRIL

The Easter Quake

I have survived my first major earthquake.  It lasted for a long time but measuring time when you are having trouble standing is difficult.  It was a rolling earthquake.  The tops of the concrete power poles were moving a distance of 2 meters total.  I was surprised no cables broke.  We were not the epicenter.  I understand that there were two simultaneous quakes.  One 40 km southeast of Mexicali and the other near Ocotillo, Baja.  It was early Easter Sunday morning.

For the last couple of years there have been quakes up to 5.0 at the same Mexicali location and at the Salton Sea in California.  I have been concerned about the increasing number and strength.  We call the Mexicali location "43".  I understand 43 had serious damage.

We had little building damage.  Grocery stores had to repopulate their shelves.  Anything loose in the RV was on the floor.

I was walking the dog while it happened.  The dog immediately scooted to its normal place of security: between my legs.  This actually helped me to stay on my feet.  The visual effects are interesting (I use interesting a lot today).  I did not "see" the earth moving but then around here all of the earth is the same color: sand.  I saw the poles moving and the wires moving like they were in some sort of dance.  I would not be surprised if the ground under me moved vertically an entire meter but probably only a decimeter.  I notice serious cracks in the earth surrounding some of the poles.

The physical sensation was the most interesting.  I totally lost my sense of balance.  I did not know which way was up or down.  This persisted for over a minute.  I think that I regained my balance about the same time the quake stopped.  The quake did not just stop but diminished to nothing so I did not know if I regained my balance when it stopped or shortly after. 


Other than the initial shock, the quake did not apparently upset the dog.  Since he is a very nervous dog, this is a surprise.  For the last two nights he has wanted to sleep inside.  Usually I cannot get him to come inside at night.  But then it may have been the nightly firecrackers upsetting the dog.  It is Easter weekend.  This is our major annual tourist event.  Dozens of additional cops were in town.  Usually there are just 4 or 5 cops.  For the first time since I came here 10 years ago, the police were actually doing their duty prior to the quake.

 

With the quake young neighbor woman near me started to cry.  Her mother was calmer.  I told the young woman that there was no problem and that the quake was finished.  The quake was nothing more than the earth dancing to the loud Mexican music.  That got a smile.  I finished walking into town.  Power was out for the entire city (including the cell tower which is always the last to go).  Some stores had generators.  Generators were going in the RV park.  The dog seemed to not have noticed anything different until we got to town.  But then, to him, the most important part of the day is the morning walk -- usually two to three KM.

Everyone was very upset.  The police had cleared the beach for fear of a tsunami.  The tourists grabbed their stuff and headed home.  Interestingly the road home passed close to the epicenter.  The military checkpoints shut down or the traffic would have easily backed up 40 km.  The tension of the people on the streets upset the dog.  He became very nervous.  We started back home.  My friends selling fish and shrimp just chattered among themselves: the tourists had no interest in buying anything.  They would have bought gas as it is cheaper here but mostly they were getting out of Dodge.  The police cars filled (with police) and headed north.  The police had donned their riot gear so I presumed that there was damage up north but then there was no communication so you could not tell.  I presume the police station had a generator and their radios worked.  If not the Army base or the Coast Guard would have relayed the messages.  Mostly it was just a long gaggle of cars going north.


 

Remember that in the entire world only Americans will get into lines and reasonably wait their turn.  Most of the tourists were Mexican-Americans and so they primarily just tied the northbound two lane highway into knots.  Mexicans never wait in lines.  Like Koreans.

Then the commotion got worse.  The remaining police went door to door telling people to expect another quake and to head for the hills to the east to prevent being washed out to sea by the tsunami.  The woman across the street restarted her crying in earnest.  She has a speech defect and cannot say words -- only make sounds.  She has a couple of children under 5 years old and no car.  She was afraid that she was lost.  I told her that there was no tsunami and no more quakes -- just trembles.  She stopped crying but did not smile.  I am the local expert on anything and people have confidence in what I say.  Most people.

My landlady and her extended family showed up to take her belongings into the hills.  They left the gate open and it was now dark.  The dog is black and with the absolute dark of no power, I could not see him.  They got upset with me because they could not convince me that I must go with them and I could not convince them that the most important thing is the entire world right now was finding my dog.  He does not come when called and the few cars on our street would not stop for a dog.  Mexicans consider killing a dog a good thing, like killing a mouse (no, they do not eat dog meat).  The next morning another neighbor with an attitude similar to mine towards dogs was going from house to house to make sure that dogs had not been abandoned.  At this point anyone local had returned to their home although they had slept in the hills.  My landlady was still upset with my lack of concern for the high country.  Outside of the hills, this lot is about the highest point in town.  The town except for a few like me and those who could not go moved to at least the second layer of hills.  My tourist neighbors waited until midnight and then left.

Monday, yesterday, was interesting as I could get neither of my generators to work and people were still settling into life with no phones and no power.

Today is Tuesday.  Things are pretty much normal.  They restored power about 10:30 last night.  I was worried that my batteries would not hold up and that I would need the car battery to power my CPAP respirator.  The dog would not sleep inside last night.  Yesterday we had a great run on the beach since the police had cleared anyone in a car or truck or RV.

The most disturbing to me was the little news about the quake -- even a day later.  The United States makes a policy of ignoring Mexico.  This is true of the government, the news, and the general population.  With the exception of those Americans who come to Mexico.  I have Sirius radio so that I can get American broadcasts.  With 150 stations you would think that at least 1 would show an interest in Mexico.  Not a chance.  The only Spanish-speaking channel is actually from Spain!  There is also a Spanish sports channel but it does not bother with news.  The San Diego/Phoenix news/weather/traffic channel did not even mention the quake.  The Los Angeles news/weather/traffic channel only mentioned the news as it related to possible traffic delays due to increased traffic from the south.  The self-centered, self-serving, ego of the American people is unbelievable.

So there was no news at all.  I could have gone to the RV park to someone who had a generator and a satellite dish but I had other things to do.  My two daily walks for the dog were more important.  And I got to fix some water line things as there was no water.

Through Sunday night and even this morning there are minor trembles but they are rapidly diminishing in strength.  In fact the RV moving now may be more a matter of the wind blowing than the earth moving.

But it is done.  This will be the major cause for excited discussions for a while and then we start preparing for Memorial Day.  There is little fishing this or future years.  Even the street vendors primarily get their fish from Puerto Peñasco.   The Mexican tourists do not use the new motels -- they sleep on the beach in tents, RVs, or just blankets.  The number of people sleeping in blankets yesterday was a bit surprising.  They had probably spent the night talking or worried about the tsunami.  The woman across the street is apparently back to normal.  The relationship to a wife here is more like that of a dog to an American than an American wife.  This changes if the woman owns the house.
 

The Seventh Day Adventists (and maybe others) had field days on Sunday and Monday.  They stay away from me since I told them last year that I was an atheist.  But then the neighbors who are Adventists ignore me completely. I think they would like me better if I were a Catholic -- and the Adventists hate the Pope for changing the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday.

 

I have too many aches and pains these days.  Just after my knee has stopped hurting, the dog pulled me over and I hurt a muscle in my thigh.  The Ford Ranger aggravates the pain to the point it is difficult to walk after driving the Ranger.  The Ford Ranger is the most insidious device created since Torquemada.

 

My dog is learning and bonding.  Sometimes he comes now.  He has a sense of humor similar to my old dog.  When walking he will pick up and eat shrimp shells and fish bones.  These get an instant "no" from me but he attempts to eat them before he permits me to force his mouth open and drop the piece.  He also picks up clam shells.  He cannot eat these but hides them in his mouth as if they are fish or shrimp then tries to get me to chase him only to discover that it is only a clam shell.  He thinks that this is a good joke.  He has a few other jokes.  He will not fetch but we shall work on that.  If I throw a toy, he runs for it, brings it back just close enough to want me to try to take it away from him.  This is an Alpha dog thing.  I do not attempt to pull on anything that he has nor will I jump at him to take it away.  He has a few times made the mistake of coming to close and I get the toy from him rapidly.  Now he just drops the toy a ways away from me.  When I walk and stoop to pick it up, he races to get it and runs away.  He is pretty fast.

 

At least this dog will chase birds.  The other dog would not chase birds.  In fact he enjoyed watching them eat his food.  I had learned that the irregular white stripe on the Border Collie nose is a breed thing.  A totally black-faced Border Collie cannot be seen at night in Scotland where the dog's were bred.  The stripe being irregular lets the shepherd know which dog sees. This is also the reason for the white tail tip and chest.  It is interesting that the Border Collie was originally bred for a specific purpose: herding sheep in Scottish mountains.  The coloring, the body shape, the intelligence, and the devotion to duty.  The long-toed feet and the coloring are obvious. The Border Collie is easily the top of any dog breed intelligence list.  My dog will herd anything -- including bits of plastic bags that float by.  In fact it is often better to get a Border Collie mixed breed since the professional breeders will breed for looks and not traits.

 

He will attempt to dominate any other dog -- including dogs twice his size that would tear him to shreds.  When confronted and his growl serves no purpose, he outruns the other dog.

April 15

Tax Increase

I have a lot to do today and tomorrow I have to go see Telcel about my phone service and cross the border to mail my taxes.  Obama's tax cuts have increased my taxes from 15% to 20%.  They will probably charge me a penalty for underpayment but this increase caught me by surprise.

Earthquake Residue

There have been earthquake tremors of varying strength since the big one.  I look at the map at earthquake.gov and see that the tremors are moving south.  This is a problem.  The tremors are moving closer to me.  And they are moving closer to the Sea of Cortez.  This increases the chance of a tsunami.  I went to 57 and saw the first physical evidence of the quake: tumbled down block walls.  The other residue is a window sticker that says: "I was at the epicenter".

Facebook

I placed on "my thoughts" a paragraph complaining (mildly) about the US Government Anti-Mexico program.  This is the second time I have put something on my page hoping for an intelligent response.  No such luck.  The previous time I asked for comments on a book.  The response was that Jesus is God, etc.  The Mexico response agreed (spitefully) that I belong in Mexico if I do not like the American government actions.  I consider these responses to be absolute proof of the dumbing down of America and the destruction of public education.  But then the tea party movement is proof enough of this.  I shall stop posting comments on my Facebook page.  Any more and I shall just cancel the page.

CFE -- The Commission

Mexican service people are the same as anywhere else.  When the house here was built and electric power service installed, the nearest transformer was from the right corner of the lot across the length of the neighbor lot and then across the next street.  When they installed the new transformers, their equipment caught the house line a few times and pulled the house power  pole ("tablero") a bit to the side.  Here power to a home comes overhead to a tablero at the front of the lot.  The tablero has a meter and the main circuit breaker box.  From here the customer runs lines to his home or wherever.

This was not a real problem but was not as safe as it could be considering that the street crossed has become a major arterial feeding east of here and the line hung fairly low.  One day I suggested to the meter reader that maybe CFE could move the line from the transformer across the block to the new one at the left corner of the lot leaving only an expanse of line from the transformer on the left lot corner to the tablero on the right.  This drew an angry response which caught me off guard.  He told me that I must move the tablero to the left corner and then CFE would reconnect the lines from the new transformer straight down to the new tablero location.

In fact, if the house were new this would be the preferred location for the tablero.  But the house is not new and having already run lines underground to the RV from the old tablero, running more lines made no sense.  The easiest way to improve the situation was just to reconnect the line to the existing tablero.  If I had followed his demand, I would have had to reroute underground lines and pay CFE for the relocation and be without power while the tablero was moved and the concrete reset.  I told the man he was crazy and that my suggestion was solely to their advantage and none to mine.  Not mine unless the line across the street were snagged and my tablero pulled over.

In any case, I thought the issue closed until I saw a CFE truck in the neighborhood and I pointed out to the driver my suggestion.  He saw the value in it and an hour later returned to move the lines as suggested.  It was not over yet.  The meter reader filed a complaint with the CFE office that the location of my tablero did not meet their location and access standard,  He was correct but many others also do not.  Why not?  When the lot was originally established, the lot lines were not exact.  I paid for the survey to place the fence on the exact lines.  The tablero was now about 3 feet inside the fence, quite near the corner of the lot.  The CFE standard stated the tablero to be no more than a foot inside the fence and with a hole to access the meter.  The instructions told me to move the tablero to match their picture on the official notice.

I needed to visit the CFE office for a time extension since by the time I found the notice, the week that they had given me was already expired.  I considered moving the tablero across the lot since moving it 3 feet forward was the same effort as moving across the lot.  Instead I created a notch in the fence line by installing two new posts, one on either side of the tablero meter, running new fence from the original fence forming a square and then removed the original fence which formed the street side of the square.  Now I meet the CFE requirements.  The meter comes exactly to the front of the fence.  There is a new hole to provide access.  The small notch recess makes it a little more difficult for the neighborhood children to access the meter but does not hinder the reader.  I am sure that my method will infuriate the meter reader as the expense of this fence notch is much less than the expense of moving the tablero.  But unless they come up with new requirements, I think I have done a good job.  I shall find out in a few weeks when the meter reader returns.

There is one interesting aspect to this.   My construction list included: two fence posts, concrete, cyclone fence, fence top support bar, fence edge rods, and sundry connector braces with bolts.  There was a short section of fence left over from the original installation which we now used for my notch.  My friend had the concrete, posts and fence edge bars from my previously anticipated move to his lot.  So we needed a bunch of connector braces and a pole. 

I paid my friend 500 pesos ($40) for what parts he could easily obtain and for his labor.  I went to 57 to buy the connector braces, pole, and its connectors.  190 pesos ($17).  I bought the wrong size braces.

Last week on a trip to the other side (the USA), I went to the Home Depot.  I got lost looking for fence parts.  I went to Lowe's where the fence parts are where they belong: with other garden and lot equipment.  The new connectors, etc. cost me $30.  Twice the Mexican cost.  Smaller braces.  Now I had an extra set of braces.  This was OK since I needed twice the braces that I had originally bought.  So today I went back to 57 and exchanged my large braces for smaller ones and bought a few more parts.  $44 pesos ($4).  I suggested that the lady keep the 6 pesos change and she not only insisted upon giving me the  pesos but also gave me six cucumbers.  She would have given me more except 6 cucumbers is more than I can eat before they spoil.

In other words, it is always depressing to buy things in the USA.  Not only is the price double for the identical pieces but neither Home Depot nor Lowe's would have given me cucumbers.  It made my day.  The fence lady already has a husband.

April 22

We went to town today.  Just San Luis, RC and not the other side.  We stopped at 57 to buy more fence parts as I just wrote about above.  I stopped at the vet to buy a new choke chain for Bingo, and stopped to see Marisol  I talked with Amy on the phone and walked the dog on the beach.  Can Bingo run.  Wow.  His long legs makes speed easy.  When Dido ran, he put his whole heart and soul into it.  This dog lives to run.  When Dido ran towards me, his back feet extended forward of his body as does the back feet of a rabbit.  Dido also had this look of joy with his smile and his tongue hanging to the side.  Low to the ground looking like an orange/black fur ball with a mouth and lovingly racing toward me.  This is the memory that hangs on of Dido.  But now I have Bingo.  It is like having two daughters, one after the other.  You love them both but you love them differently.  I am learning to love Bingo and thinking less and less of him as a replacement.  Happy Birthday to me.

April 27

Costco called yesterday: my tires are in.  So Bingo and I spent the day going to El Centro.  Algodones crossing was full so we crossed at Mexicali East. Lines were pretty short and there are many of them.  About 20 minutes.  Maybe Megan is correct: Bingo will now rife around town looking out the window but on the highway his head goes down.  But is becoming company when he rides in the front seat.  Megan said he might get carsick looking out the windows.  This may be training but I do not think it was abusive.

In any case it was about 100 in the parking lots.  80's in the car.  I worried about someone calling animal control but inside was always cooler than outside.  Wanting to make sure that the new tires and wheel went in the correct places, I waited outside the service door with Bingo.  The hot concrete hurt his feet but I could not convince him to wait a little ways apart  in the shade.  There were so many noises coming from the tire shop that he needed the comfort of touching me.

The interesting part her was the number of people who stopped to admire my dog.  I know I am partial to him.  Dido was a great dog..  I think Bingo is going to be great.  But the flow of his admirers while we waited was constant.  Bingo was doing his best to show off.  He was sitting as pretty as he could and kept lifting his paw to shake paws.  There were no takers but he really wanted to show off for his admirers so the paw kept coming up.  I wonder what a dog thinks about at times like this.  Bingo obviously knew he was the center of positive attention and he was doing his best good dog show.  People admired his looks and his behavior, especially when I told them I had gotten him from a shelter just two months before.  One fellow commented two things that I happened to agree upon.  The first is that the shelter was not aware of the prize that they had.  The second was that Bingo was a good name for him as I had hit the jackpot.

I got the new tires.  Confirmed new doctor appointments and did a very small amount of shopping before returning home through the Yuma Sam's Club.

MAY

I missed my doctor appointment.  I waited 3 hours at the border.  Sometimes I think that the slow crossing times are punishment for leaving the USA.  When I got to the gate I saw that each green/red light set indicated 3 gates.  For each of the lines (about 6) one of each set of 3 was closed.  If they had been using the closed gates, maybe the time would have been cut in half.  To make the point: the Border Patrol intentionally wasted everyone's time for no necessary reason.

Vacation

So, rather than returning to El Golfo, I decided it was time to take my vacation.  We made it to Casa Grande and spent the first night in a motel.  Then we got to Paradise Valley (Phoenix) and I bought some shoes.  I have needed shoes for a while.

Then we headed up to 1000 Trails -- Verde Valley for a day or two.

JUNE

I missed some in May that I must go back for.  Beto has moved into his house.  He has divorced from his second wife.  His new girl friend has been hare a few times.  He plans to make money fishing.   Sort of like being a horse-buggy maker in 1910.  Bingo is taking the not lot sharing seriously.  I have not figured out whether the way Beto treats me and my things is just part of his personality or he really is attempting to get me to move out.  His personality does not lend itself to sharing.

I have a few more doctor appointments later this month.  I have applied for one of the fast pass cards for crossing the border.  I presume that for some reason or other that this shall not happen.  The last time I crossed the border at Algodones, the woman was quite offensive.  Unusual for Algodones but I have noticed her with an attitude previously.  I shall try to avoid her gate from now on.  My knee hurts so much that the cortisone injection last month made no difference at all.  I can only walk the dog once per day.

It would seem to me that if I leave, Beto has the lot to himself and has so little money that he could not afford the utilities. let alone the back taxes.  Manuel in the park has offered me one of his lots -- under contract and by myself.  If I left it might be the case that Beto would need to sell this lot and I might be able to buy it.  If I did not suspect this I would make plans to move now.

I discovered that the electric hot water heater conversion rod was costing me about $150 per month.  Now I have no hot water until I can get the gas heater working.  I may put a timer switch on the electric rod as an interim measure.  The bill this month having turned off the rod is 430 pesos -- about $40.  Next month will be higher because of the AC but I think still less than $100.  Last year I was running in the $200's.  The RV parks try to ban electric space heaters -- reasonable.  They try to ban Autoformer -- unreasonable.  They should ban these electric hot water convertors but this would be almost impossible to monitor.

It still gets a little cool in the early morning but the humidity is rising fast.  The consistent tremors north and around 43 are somewhat unnerving as I can feel some of them.

June 16

I went to San Luis today to interview for a "Sentri" pass.  A Sentri pass permits fast processing at the border gates.  My car passed (I need to move my rear camera and remove my trailer hitch ball) but it takes a month for my pass to arrive in the US Mail.  By August maybe I can cross rapidly.  The Sentri pass is a mixed blessing.  I become a "Trusted "Traveler".  This means that at gates honoring Sentri passes I go through rapidly but... And it is a large "but", if I am found in any violation ever at any gate they throw the book at me.  The pass is only good for myself: (no passengers) and my current car (Red Ranger).  I need to reapply for a new car or a new me.  And, by the way, the only crossing that I use that honors the Sentri pass today is El Centro Central.  Some day the San Luis East crossing will be open and either it or the downtown gates will honor the Sentri pass.  Restrictions"  The man says not even dog food is permitted because it may contain pork.  I only buy 100% lamb and rice food so I guess I will need to carry the bag's ingredient list inside the Zip-Lock bag carrying the dog food.

Now I know where the friendly Border Patrol agents are in San Luis: they are inside in the offices.  I took Bingo along as I did not know if they needed to inspect my dog as well as the car and me.

June 26

The Fourth of July is coming.  This is not the greatest of my concerns.  Summer is here.  Both AC units run most of the time.  The RV has been washed and waxed.  The window screens (solar) are back on: it will take a while to get used to being in what seems like a jail.  But the inside temperature instantly dropped 10 degrees.

Bingo is a really great companion now but there are other problems.  My right knee is beyond repair:   I need a new knee.  The doctor in El Centro says that 3 days in the hospital and 4 weeks of recovery: in El Centro.  I need someone to care for the dog.  Beto has gone but he might return.  While I am gone keeping the gate closed is critical.  While he was here several of Bingo's toys were stolen.  Maybe worse but I have not discovered it if so.  But a month of the lot being abandoned would result if disaster.  Bingo stays.  Someone needs to come see him and feed him every day.  With this heat, missing a day would be a problem.

Between now and the time I have the surgery, many things need to be done.  The Ranger needs to stay here because I do not want the lot to appear abandoned and I have no way to drive it with my right knee being out of commission for at least the month.  The cardiologist has to be on board because of potential clotting problems.  The hospital is already chosen: El Centro.  I do not know what choices I have regarding the operation.  Brand names for artificial knees?  Models? Sizes?  Flexibility.  Risks?  Nerves?  Muscles?  Tendons?  Maybe a problem considering the amount of Cipro I took.  Choice of recovery facilities.  Visitors?  Will my Sentri pass arrive on time?  Cell phone? Internet for the computer?  And what have I forgotten?  Do I get Pepsi at the recovery center?  Caffeine withdrawal?  I need to lose weight.  How much?  How fast?  Keeping it off?  Walking my dog on the beach?  Technology changes?

And is Beto coming back?  I need some yard work that I cannot do.  Money is really short and I shall need cash for the month I am in recovery.  I shall need cash to pay for people helping me here although they will do it for free, I need gifts for them.

JULY

The word is that Beto is working up north.  Good.  There is no employment for him here and although he has a free house, he still must eat.

The 4th of July went past without incident although Bingo was happy to sleep inside for a few nights.  Boy he hates sudden noise.

17 July

Sudden noises.  For the last couple of mornings it has threatened rain.  The humidity has been really bad but this is the time of year for it.  I saw lightning off to the east tonight.  Someone is getting a good storm.  The winds have been strong here so maybe a storm will arrive here by morning.  My dog will have real problems with thunder.

SENTRI and Jack in The Box

After wasting a few half-days waiting in line in Mexicali, I invested in a SENTRI card.  This is a credit card sized ID card issued by the Border Patrol to permit frequent travelers to cross with less hassle.  The nearest crossing for this is Mexicali central although San Luis should have it by the end of the year when they open the commercial gates down by Avenida 44.

Jack In The Box?  Many credit cards are now coming with an embedded RFID chip.  The cash register RFID reader at supporting merchants only need a swipe of the card to authorize your purchase.  Fast. Easy. Secure.  Arriving slowly in the USA because of the security paranoia.  In Japan, RFID is built into telephones and you just wave your phone at the soda machine and make your selection.

But GWB was not as smart as Visa.  There may be things here that I do not know but I know some.  As part of increased border security,, it was decided (passive), to include an RFID chip in the new passports.  Good idea.  It turns out that they have embedded these chips in the visa cards (small "v") issued to foreign travelers (e.g. Mexicans).  It also turns out that they have embedded these chips in the SENTRI cards. 

Here is the zinger.  You can buy an RFID reader in many electronic houses.  Anyone can buy one.  Anyone can read RFID information.  My dog has an RFID chip so that a vet can ID him if he gets lost.  Vets have RFID readers.  The RFID technology is pretty simple but the issue is security.  I want anyone to read my dog's chip.  I do not want anyone at all to read my VISA card chip except the cash register where I am buying my lunch.  The chips come with security programs.  The security programming is part of configuring the chip for its intended usage.

But what if the particular chip has a security flaw and after having designated a security environment for the cards and their reader it turns out that a regular reader with certain security codes available to anyone with that kind of knowledge can read these defective chips.  And what if you know that you choice of chips contains this defect.  What do you do?  If you learn about the problem early, you get a different brand/model of chip and eat a small recall and a broken contract.  If you learn about the problem late, well, this is not the case here.

GWB personally assigned the Border Patrol RFID contract to a German chip company.  He was quickly informed of the problem by a security person who demonstrated the ease of card duplication by and one standing fairly close to the card -- even if the card were in a wallet and in a purse.  Did GWB reconsider?  No.  GWB would never admit to having made a mistake.  He continued with the defective chip.  But he had a solution.

Now all of these cards are issued with a sleeve/jacket into which the card fits snugly.  The sleeve appears to be paperboard but in fact has paper/plastic cover over a copper sleeve.  The readers cannot penetrate the metal sleeve.  You are instructed to only remove the ID card from the sleeve at the precise moment you intend to have it read and then immediately return it to the sleeve.

I could say lots of bad things about the most incompetent president in American history (per Senator Joe Biden).  I could say lots of bad things about the company making the chip (Siemens Infineon).  But why bother.  Nobody cares.  And you will not learn about this unless you know more about RFID than I tell you here.  I have worked with Infineon chips in the telephone industry.  Every chip I worked with had a problem that we needed to overcome with a software work around.  I could even make my usual statement that German Engineering is an oxymoron.  But again.  Why bother? The damage is done and we all live with the little sleeves as reminders that nobody cares.

Getting the New Knee

The orthopedic doctor has told me that I need a new knee.  I am now going through the preparation process.  My cardiologist has to be involved because of the clotting problem.  I need to have a general practitioner for the same reason a movie needs a producer: someone has to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's.  I have also neglected my diabetes so that I need a foot exam and an eye exam. And I need some serious dental work.  The diabetes eye exam does not include a prescription so I need t get a regular eye exam too.  And new glasses.  and I should do this before the operation as I shall need good glasses to do a lot of reading for the recuperation time.  At this point I figure the earliest will be the middle of August. a good time as that is the hottest humid month and a god time to be in someone else's air conditioned house.

20 July

A wasted trip to El Centro.  I planned to go through the Mexicali Central gate as that is the only gate that accepts my new Sentri pass.  The shortest highway to central Mexicali turned out to be under construction. The entire highway.  One lane sometimes paved.  Sometimes not.  Paved or not, it was a mess and cost me more time than it would have saved.  But I got to the Sentri gate and with 5 or 6 cars in front of me, it only took 10 minutes.  I arrived at the doctor office with enough time to spare as his  parking lot is exceptionally poor.  So I arrived at the office exactly on time with the dog waiting in the car and it was at 11:15 already over 100 degree outside.

The receptionist had me fill out the usual new patient forms.  I resent new patient forms.  I have all of the information -- and more -- neatly printed.  The forms took 15 minutes.  I asked the receptionist how low before the doctor saw me.  He was keeping a good schedule -- according to her -- and the wait was only one hour and 15 minutes but probably would only be an hour.  My dog would be dead by then.  I informed her that I would return in an hour as I had errands to run and I had to care for my dog.  She told me to take my time but I assured her that the one hour time would be honored.  I went to the blood lab as I needed to have the blood drawn before I ate.  The blood lab was moving so slowly that I knew I could not make my hour deadline.  We went to KFC and had lunch before returning exactly on time to the doctor office.  40 minutes later we left.  Two hours exactly from the time I arrived.  During that 40 minutes no one addressed me in any manner.  When I had returned,  I had informed the receptionist (different) that they had my paperwork and she said she would inform the nurse that I was here.  I saw the doctor on the phone for most of the 40 minutes. .Not a problem as doctors need to communicate too.  But it would have been nice for someone to tell me that I was needing to wait another hour.

Some restaurants have waiting lines and when you arrive, you are given a pager and told the approximate wait time.  Then you can run your errands and return when you are paged.  Doctors cannot at least organize patients as well as the local macaroni restaurant.  The week before I waited over an hour for my cardiologist and then I was interviewed by a woman who showed no concern whatever -- she just took notes and went away.  I did get a prescription for a blood test.  They use their own form as they want you to go to their in-house blood lab.  Their lab charges more money than the insurance company pays.  As a result when I needed monthly tests and  I went to their lab, I always received a bill later for $5 to $10.  I stopped using their lab -- and had other problems since their forms are non-standard.

I called the orthopedist informing him that the surgery schedule was delayed until I located an honorable general practitioner doctor.  This might not be possible.  My knee has been behaving itself admirably.  Today was the first day in a couple of weeks that it showed signs of the pain returning.

25 July

I shall be returning to El Centro tomorrow.  Maybe I could handle what I needed by Internet phone but I want to visit a couple of doctor offices to make sure that they can professionally handle my case.  I could wait a couple days for my monthly money to arrive but I am desperate to complete the blood test.

I have made arrangements for one of workers at CRA to brick the  area under the motor home.  The dog is making a real mess down there and I want to start using the area for storage.

Now I have another problem.  The surgery and recovery will take a month.  I have gotten people to care for the dog and the lot.  I have figured out how to make the trip both ways. I need to get the GP online so that I can get the recovery home online.  I noticed yesterday that my neighbor's dogs were not here.  This is not unusual since he and the dogs migrate between house on this block.  His dogs are trained well enough to stay by the two houses abut they have not been at either house.  I asked him tonight. as he was organizing his lot.  His dogs were stolen.  These were common, mixed-breed dogs that he had picked up here in town.  They were nice dogs.  Now they are gone.

His stolen dogs change my entire perspective.  Now I do not only have to worry about my dog being stolen while I am here in town.  I am sure that he would be stolen if I were gone for a month.  My experience with Dido at the animal hospital was not positive.  And if the dog is not here while I am gone, I can expect other things to be missing when I return.  I do  not have answers for this.  I do not know anyone who could live here for that month but that is now the best solution that I can think of.  His dogs were nice mongrels.  Everyone around knows how special my dog is and I suspect they would think he were valuable for his breed.  This is not the case as he has no papers but...

And I wondered where the stress was coming from.

AUGUST

8 August

I go to El Centro again tomorrow, August 9, to talk to my new doctor.  His office called and said that he would accept me as a new patient.  So now I go to find the office, make an appointment, supply my medical information, and met the receptionist.  In two weeks or so I get to see the doctor.  Hopefully we then work on getting my diabetes numbers back on track, locate other specialists for my feet, eyes, skin, and whatever else I need to get checked.

I need to visit my cardiologist nurse to verify my blood numbers.

Then there is the banking, the phones call, and the shopping.  I debated leaving the dog home but I decided to take him.  No one thing should take so long as to cause a problem.  He enjoys the ride.  He does not enjoy waiting long periods of time in the car in 100 degree weather.

My knee has been much better.  So  much so that I am waiting for the twist that will put me in pain again.  I even survive the daily walks on the beach without pain although there is always a little pain to remind me that we are in a delaying action only.

13 August

I once read that insecurity is when you need others more than they need you.  The story of my life.  Back in the mid 1960's at college the psychologist suggested that I make a single attempt to improve my relationship with my father and if that failed, write him off.  I made the attempt at great expense and danger to my life as it turned out.  He gave me 15 minutes, said he liked things as they were and left.  It took another 12 years for me to understand that I should have written him off long before.  When I got divorced, I found that the rest of my biological family sided with my ex-wife.  It took another 10 years for me to separate from them.  I cannot move slowly because I have this need for family.  Maybe everyone does.  I went back to Michigan to look up my old farm family.  This was a strange experience but not altogether positive.  A chapter in the book of life best left behind. 

I read another book, "Toxic Parents".  I read this for two reasons.  The first is easy: I wanted to understand myself and my parents.  The second: I wanted to not make the same mistakes with my children.  I failed on both counts.  The book also repeated the point: you cannot cure yourself and must get professional help.  After seeing at least a dozen different counselors, the word "professional" is suspect.

My daughter Bree wrote me off with such a tirade and such malice that writing her off was easy.  I really do hope to never have to see her again and have pretty much forgotten her.  The money she did not repay seriously lowered my lifestyle.  I refer to Megan, as "my daughter".  At this point I think she has written me off too.

A friend of mine in Phoenix told me some years back that I should stop searching for and holding on to family.  Doing so just hurts me. A while back Megan accused me of abandoning and writing off my family.  It was never me that broke off relationships and attempting to hang on just caused me problems.

I know all of this is not their faults.  It has to do with me.  A personality trait.  Choices of words that come out the wrong way.  I am 66 now.  I spent the greater part of my younger life going way beyond my capabilities trying to be the best father that I could be.  And under the worst of circumstances.  An ex-wife who was more interested in the control of the kids than she was in being a mother.  Jobs that fell through or managers that wanted more than a single parent could give.  I still give myself more credit as father than do my children.  They have no children and have no idea what it takes even in the best of worlds.

Too much of my father in me. I understand the need to provide the best possible economic home.  I understand also that the love must always show through.  But that was 30 years ago.  As long ago as my children have memories.  I have memories of a life better than they remember.  It reminds me of that book: "It is Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood".  I think that is true for my children.  I know that the happiest times of my childhood were my escaping my father.  Life at the train tracks.  The hope of a life with Mary Anne.  The wind in my hair as I rode on the box cars.  When I see a movie with people riding on a freight train across the country, I envy them.  But unlike most of the audience I am aware of the dangers of their rides.  The other riders are not nice people and would not think twice about leaving you dead just for your shoes.  The railroad people are paid to make sure you do not enjoy your trip.   The police do not want you there.  And that is the USA.  In Mexico it is worse.  But my rides were 50 years ago.

Today I relive experiences in letters to my friends.  I never hear from them again.  I write doctors off that make me wait two hours to see them.  That seems to be the norm these days: two to three hours wait in the office.  This is not right but because of it, I have unresolved health problems.  The doctors are doing you a favor in just accepting you as a patient.  The latest doctors referred to me by United Health Care were butchers.   I shall have a permanent scar on my forehead for what should have been a small incision for which the doctors were paid extra to keep it small.

In other words, I am giving up on humanity.  I am giving up on my insecurity.  I know I shall never understand what it is that I say that alienates people.  Some tell me later.  At this point I no longer care.  I have a Facebook page and all I get are farm animal things, egg surprises, requests for more friends..  Notices that some friend is now a supporter of some organization or book or some other friend or something.  But nothing personal back.  Facebook reminds me of the Pet Rock trend back in the 1960's -- I think.

There is a high school class reunion and they want to celebrate Vietnamese War veterans but not acknowledge that the war was not ended by the military.  It was ended by turmoil (i.e. street demonstrations)  at home.  American citizens were killed and maimed by police and military just for being outdoors at the wrong times.  Hundreds jailed and named as fugitives for doing their patriotic duty: protesting illegal actions by their government.  Any celebration for them?  I do not hear from the reunion people any more.

I have Mexican friends that I know are only interested in the gringo that has money and things to share.  I have Mexican neighbor children who, after accepting the candies from me, attempt (sometimes successfully) to steal things loose in the yard and the dog's toys.  If I do not go out of my way to visit people, I never hear from them.  I have had (a very few) opportunities for girl friends that I have alienated because I draw the line too high.

But I am tired of drawing lines.  Even lines that I make for myself.  At this point I shall never love my new dog, Bingo, as I loved my old dog, Dido. And Dido was killed by Mexicans who did it for sport.  Sooner or later regardless of how hard I try, they will get Bingo too.  Then it will be just me -- until I get another dog. Because I do not want to be alone and a little love to a dog goes a long way.  Love for a person or a group of persons or all of humanity appears to be a waste.  At least this is the case for me.  Some of us just have parts missing.  Parts that other people take for granted and do not understand that these may be missing from some other people.  Sort of like expecting people to understand your language just because 99% of the other people understand.  There is the 1% that do not.  Maybe 0.1%.  Maybe 0.01%  Maybe less.  The point is that something seems to be missing that other people presume should be there.  Something that after 66 years of trying to learn is not learnable.   Something that is not as visible as a missing arm or finger but is a missing part.

I know what it is to be happy.  I was happy with Amy.  Even though I knew that she could never return the love, she could return the happiness.  I can play with my dog and know that he needs more from me.  But I play with him to make him happy and share his happiness.  In 66 years, sharing the happiness of others cannot make up for the fact that I do not enjoy playing.  I do not enjoy games.  Having "fun" is only a pipe dream.  In fact, I do not even know what having "fun" really means. I apologize to Bingo because he wants to play and for me just taking the walk is painful. 

What I can do is make machines work.  I can make computers do unbelievable things.  I can write programs to stretch processor performance like a rubber band.  I can imagine uses beyond the current paradigm.  I wanted touch-tone algorithmic destination control of telephone calls long before anyone thought them possible.  Now they are like doctor appointments: you may never get to see the doctor.

And where 20 years ago I made my own computers, now I use a laptop and wonder how to put the loose keys back on the keyboard.  I hear about iPxx's and Wii and MP3 and all sorts of communication things and wonder what they are.  This week was celebrated (by a very few) the first telephone call bounced off a satellite.  A very few?  I saw the Echo I satellite go up.  I was sitting on the end of a diving board with a girl, Phyllis, from Detroit.  We were in Juniper Springs Campground.  Later President Eisenhower made this historic phone call.  Today I listen to my car radio with signals coming from a satellite.  Very few others think that the first Sputnik changed our world.  But it did.  Today no one can remember what life was like when you picked up the receiver and the operator said "Number Please".  No one can remember life without a pocket calculator (1970).  Today they are even built into our pocket telephones.

I guess I live in the past.  No. I don't.  Memories of the past keep popping up in my head but I don't live there.  I live in my RV on a sand lot in El Golfo de Santa Clara, Sonora, Mexico.  I have little money left.  There could have been more but I was too generous.  No more loans to never be repaid.  No more dollies and toys for the neighbor kids.  Now they just get candies -- and I limit them and they are cheap candies.

Yesterday I got a $4 hair cut.  I gave her 50 pesos and she went to give me change.  I told her to keep it.  It disappoints me that the gringos are so selfish that they impose their dollars on other cultures and think they are doing the other cultures a favor.  Yes, the Mexicans happily accept dollars especially when they can make a profit from the exchange rate and think that the gringo is too stupid to know that he would be better off paying in pesos.  And yes, it would be better if gringos spoke other languages.  It is not me that is selfish but giving money away does not buy friends -- other people just think you are rich and stupid.

The high point of my day is when I return from my morning walk with my dog and my knee still holds my weight.  He is a good dog and he likes to cuddle more than he likes to be petted.  Cuddling is a good thing.  It has been so long since I got a loving hug that I no longer crave human touch.  I can remember the last few kisses on the mouth.  Two people in 25 years.  One was a Hawaiian girl at a luau who intended to kiss me on the cheek but I turned my head.  Lucky accident and she did not treat me like sour milk.  I expect to live another 30 years. I do not expect another kiss even by accident.  A feeling best left as history.

Sometimes I think my dog only lives for the treats.  He sits in front of me and begs for scraps.  He even does his tricks hoping to pick the one that will get him another treat after I have stopped dolling them out..  But then when he lies down, he looks up at me while nuzzling and licking my feet and I know there is more to him than just begging for treats.   In 30 years when I die, I hope no one will notice but I hope they feed my dog.

31 August

Labor Day is coming -- no more trips to the other side until it is over.  In fact After Thursday no more trips to the beach unless I think it is perfectly safe (unlikely).  After Labor Day we (Bingo and I) shall take a vacation up north.  I need so time away from my daily routine -- even though it does not seem like routine.

Shrimping starts on September 24.  The shrimpers are very optimistic as last year few shrimp were caught.  Shrimp should be large and plentiful this year according to the locals.  I think that the shrimp are gone forever because the Colorado River is dry.  We shall see.

There is also the expectation of a large tourist  population this holiday.  Gas prices are down and the economy is better.  Just nobody believes it and I think that we shall see another flop like the Fourth of July.

The earthquake map shows an ever-increasing number of tremors coming this way.  Sometimes I feel them but nobody else seems to.  I am expecting one in the neighborhood of 5.0 sometime within the year.  That will cause serious disruption.  Which reminds me: I had better get working on my generators.  Neither works.

SEPTEMBER

CRA and the Sociopath

Jim Marcy, a CRA lot owner and the assigned controller of the park Wi-Fi does his best to make my life miserable.  His wife helps.  Since he thinks he owns not only his equipment but the Prodigy modem owned by the park and I installed, he wants payment for his equipment.  He has already withheld his profits from the park.  But these are minor compared to the damage he is causing.  He lies to others about me and my dog's behavior.  He has told everyone but me that he does not like my dog running loose in the park.  He has even complained to the park owners.  I hate to see what damage he has done when I return from vacation.  He has already had the owners stop my mail delivery because I just hang out at the office and do not live in the park.  I could go on but it just makes me angry.  I have collected everyone's mail for El Golfo off season for the last 8 years.  Not just my mail.  And most of the packages are for the park and not myself.  Back to UPS mailboxes.  That will save me 20 miles on my trips to Yuma.

21 September

I am on vacation with Bingo.  We stayed at a couple of 1000 Trails parks. OK.  Normal.  We visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  OK.  Lots of people.  Trams still running.  Dozens of them.  Not able to visit Hermit's Roost.  Tried to find Halfway to Home to show off Bingo to his old shelter but I could not find it and Suzanne did not answer the phone.  Visited Yosemite.  Really crowded and many road repair detours.

Got to Megan's new house.  Really great house.  She is still moving in.  The local park area is large and grassy.  Bingo loves the grass and runs himself to exhaustion.   Will leave for home tonight.  Get there tomorrow night if I am lucky.

OCTOBER

Not really a busy month but lots of small things.  The vacation was good.  I need another one: maybe fewer crowds later in the year.  Mange is infecting many of the dogs in the area.  I got Bingo some medicine for Mange as it is so contagious and several of the neighborhood dogs have turned the indicative pink.

My Spanish is still not good.  It never will be but I now will speak it even in the USA if the person to whom I am talking is more comfortable in Spanish.

Bingo got sick.  The doctor said one of three: distemper, straight fever or Valley Fever.  Distemper was eliminated by a blood test.  Amoxicillin did not cure the fever in a week so we went to Valley Fever medicine.    He is getting better.  Rapidly.  He was so far gone I was afraid he would never be the same.

The CRA park is different this year.  No surprise.  Mexico has so few tourists at all.  Americans are tightening their pocketbooks and traveling less.  Since so few people know where to get the good Mexican insurance, just crossing the border is expensive.  Mexico is enforcing its tourist rules more aggressively but I do not believe that this is a deterrent -- yet.  Only 5 CRA members gave candy to the kids.  Previously this was a big event.

But mostly the park is more under the control of the lot owners who have letter writing campaigns to the home office and seem to have their ear for everything.  I can no longer receive mail in the park.  My friends are the employees -- I am tired of the lies about me and my dog.  Other members who d not have an investment are just not coming down any more.  Think of the Grinch that stole Christmas.  At least most of the lot owners are supportive of our manager, Raul.  He is extracting real improvements to the park.  Historically improvements came from the members and their activities donations.

One thing that I think has not been realized is the inflation.  This last week, a pack of 60 eggs went from $4.92 to $5.96.  A 25% increase.  Milk went from $4.50 for a 2-gallon pack to $5.30 in the same week.  Almost 25%.  Social Security is lying and hiding behind their own statistics to not increase the monthly payments again next year.  The American Dollar is worth 11.95 pesos.  It was worth 12.20 last month.  This means that the value of the dollar is falling faster than the value of the peso.  This is serious bad news but most people will not see it until they find that their pay checks do not go as far as they did before.  It is like going on a diet.  You keep tightening your belt a little at a time and ultimately you need a smaller belt and smaller pants.

But your payments for services and insurance keep going up.  Food tax in San Luis, AZ is up to 4%.  In some parts of AZ there are sales taxes in excess of 12%.  Between lower pay, increased taxes and increased prices, you must be rich just to come out even.  And people are voting Republican?  Stupid.  There is no other word for it.  They think that Obama had any impact on this problem in his less than 2 years in office when we had a drunken sailor for 8 years throwing our money out the window?  Remember that the first year of any new president is constraint of the budget passed by his predecessor.  That means that we have had less than a year of Obama money control.  And these people believe that Obama is out of control .  Where were they for the 8 years?

If you went from steak to hamburger in the last several years, blame your increase of potatoes in your diet on the president who got us here -- not the one trying hard to bail us out.

NOVEMBER

It is the middle of November.  I live in a motor home in a little fishing village on a lot owned by someone else.  Every day I see new priorities and new things.  I have a dog, Bingo.  The dog has Valley Fever.  He is getting better.  In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving followed by Christmas and then the new Year.  The Republicans have just won by large margins a national election -- the ultimate demonstration of stupidity.  The American people took a hit in the gut -- by their own hand.  If the general populace had any brains at all, the Republican Party would be history.  I am 66 years old and I am not old.  My mother is old.  She is 89.  I have two daughters in their 30's.  They have no children.   I have watched a few movies on my LCD TV from my DVD player.  The movies have a lot of family value things in them.  They have me looking over my earlier life.  Things that should be written in these pages under earlier years but will forgotten before I get them written.

Feelings are very complex and can never be written and explained thoroughly.  If you attempt to do so, the text will be overwhelmingly boring.  But I shall make some attempt -- and I know it is boring.

What am I feeling now?  I worry about my dog.  Two weeks ago he was on the edge of death.  He was so weak that he could barely stand and had to be lifted into the car or the RV.  He has Valley Fever and it appears that it took a couple of months to get to this weakened state .  With a good veterinarian and medicine and love he is recovering.  Between Bingo and my previous dog, Dido, I have learned much about life.

Life is about love.  I have not seen much love.  This may be my fault but more it is that I find it difficult to love and people find it hard to love me.  My dogs have loved me.  Bingo loves me.  Yes, he is a con artist as are all dogs but I know that there is more than just a con job in Bingo.  He eats his antibiotic pills even though he gets half pills and these may be broken pieces and they taste really terrible.  He holds his mouth shut but more out of principle than anything.  Once open, he permits me to drop the pill to the very back of his throat and to hold his mouth shut until he swallows the pieces.  I think this holding is unnecessary now because he is a good, loving dog.  I put the Valley Fever medicine in his food alongside food without the medicine.  He eats the food with the medicine first.  He sleeps outside except when he feels ill and then sleeps at the side of the bed.  If he is really feeling ill, he climbs up on the bed and sleeps next to me.

He knows that the hand I put on him is one of love.  I know that the nuzzle he gives me is one of love.  I wish I could know this kind of love with a person.  But that has not been my life and will not ever be.  Bingo has the hard job.  He learns and understands my words and all I can do to understand him is to see his actions and attempt to interpret what he wants.  He communicates very well with nudges, raising his paw, pointing with his nose at things that he thinks I should attend to.  Barks. Etc.

But this is about my life.  There is much time in my life now to go over where I have been and how I got here.  My health is a result of my life to this point.  When my RV was stolen, the tension resulted in diabetes.  I can blame GMAC insurance for this as they refused to process the claim.  I have Atrial Fib (look it up) due to a bad colonoscopy.  High blood pressure,  High Cholesterol.  15 pills a day.  A heart so weak that the pulse in my wrist disappears if the nurse presses too hard.  Headaches for the first time in my life.  Both knees will be replaced in the upcoming years.  I weigh 250 pounds and have lost 50 pounds in the last 6 months.  I need to lose another 100 pounds.

I need to spend more time cleaning and repairing my RV and my Ranger.  I need to spend more time with my dog.  He gets a morning walk but little else except on our days across the border where he sleeps while I pet him.

But as I go through my life, I find that I led a life that could have been better but only if I knew then what I know now.  I think my mother loved me but there was the distance.  Mothers and fathers read books by Dr. Spock and an entire generation grew up with little love.  Some people did not read the books and had healthy kids.  Some people came from unhealthy families and had more problems.

I have two sisters.  I am the eldest.  I am the last surviving Kelly from the paternal side of our family tree.  My Aunt Ginny tells me that her father would beat my father mercilessly -- especially while in drunken rages.  My father drank too much but having no background in fatherhood, did not understand the abuse he was bestowing on me.  But abuse it was.  Being told you are stupid almost every day of your life does not do much for self-concept.  Being hit for any infraction of his rules performed by myself or my sisters did not help.  Why for my sisters?  One, they were girls.  Hitting girls was forbidden.  Two, I was the oldest and should have prevented them from doing the wrong things.  I could relate times when my sisters took advantage of this but why bother.  When I got divorced both sisters and my mother supported my ex-wife in custody of my daughters.  Love?  Not from my biological family.  Jeannie called me selfish.  Even my ex-wife, when she was my ex-wife, disagreed with this.  I have a Santa Claus complex.  I could be a millionaire a couple of times over if I had not been so careless with my belongings.

School was hard for me.  Being told I should be smart as were my sisters did not help.  Teachers wanted to hold me back and then later I got ahead of the grade level.  Way ahead.  Then I got bad attitudes and habits.  I survived high school.  Just barely.  My biggest thrill as a teenager?  Riding freight trains.  And I could run for miles.  I loved running.

The military.  I started ROTC.  All male land-grant university students did.  The Army mantra was: "Kill!"  I quit.  I was drafted.  I convinced the Army doctor that as a second class person or lower that I could not take another life and if challenged I would await my own death.  I was disqualified.

Citizenship?  I am a citizen of a country that seems more lost than myself.  Shameful.  The USA has invaded more countries and started more wars than any other country in the history of the world.  Twisted.  Split.  In one claw a bunch of arrows and in the other an olive branch.  Spanish War: no excuse.  Archangel: no excuse. WW I: not ours.  World War II: not ours but an atom bomb?!  Korea: maybe.  Vietnam: no excuse, a travesty.  Iraq/Afghanistan: no excuse.  My country.  Right the wrongs?  Nobody seems to care.  It reads like Orwell's 1984.

Girl friends?  Love life?  I messed these up too.  What I thought was love was just an escape from my father.  She was not worth the effort.  I ignored a few girls who showed interest in me and favored other girls.  Maybe this is too common among boys.  But in my case even when I found a good match I would do something to ruin it.  In college a few girls made passes at me that I ignored for lack of knowing what to do.  I remember my sex ed.  It was composed of three things.  I was lectured by my father to not do whatever it was that my uncle did that made him get married.  I think I was in fourth grade.  In high school we went to a series of father-son "health" classes at the local YMCA.  We learned about sperm and ova, biological body parts, and babies.  When the sessions ended and the teacher asked for questions.  There was only one.  I asked how the sperm got in there in the first place.  I got no answer but that ended the class.  The third and last part of my sex ed was to see a movie with my father with Troy Donahue and Sandra Day accidentally spending the night on an island from their sailboat and all of the subsequent allegations.

So I was sexually retarded.  I had a lot of repressed anger.  I was on anti-depressant medication that made me into a zombie.  Literally.  I understand that medications have come a long way in 50 years.  The psychological industry still believes in shock therapy so I doubt it.  I was almost expelled from school when I drank some alcohol while on this medication.  Only because a Dean Stamokakis saw more in me than others did I survive my freshman year.  Only because a George Berry saw the same things did I make through college at all.  It took seven years and a lot of administrative help to get my degree.  I flubbed a few jobs.  I made history in a few jobs.  History is short-lived when there are giants moving in the same world.

Why did these matter?  Because I was driven to prove my father wrong while I believed he was right.  I was stupid and therefore had to work ten times as hard as someone who was smart.  I had obtained a college degree more by head-butting than learning.  But why in 1959 did my teacher tell me that the Sonar received had to be at the same location as the transmitter when I thought that placing it as far from the transmitter as possible was better.  Ultimately the Navy agreed with me.  Why did my physics teacher insist that the sunburn that I got could not have been obtained through the car window when my dermatologist states that it most definitely did.

Why?  Why?  Why?  Why is a dirty word.  Use any other word possible to ask a question as the word why invokes a hostile response.  My marriage counselor taught me that.  She was the first person to point out to me that I lived an identity crisis.  She asked and I was supposed to answer: "Who is Chuck Kelly?"  I spent several weeks of torment and depression attempting to answer this question.  She rephrased it: "Who are you?"  For this I had an answer but she did not like it.  "I am the entity who calls itself Chuck Kelly".  She said, "No, you are Chuck Kelly".  I did not accept this and did not for several decades.  To me I was a thought process inside a body who pretended to be a person and attempted to act like other people.  I did not see what other people saw.  I did not think as other people thought.  I did not speak as other people spoke.  This is still a problem.  People just voted Republican.  This is political suicide unless you are very rich or very stupid

I had a wife and we had two children.  The happiest days of my life were the days these babies were born.  I have no idea if my wife ever loved me.  There seemed to be this wall that separated us.  I think we both contributed to the wall.  I know I am good at wall-building but I attempted so hard to get past the wall.  Maybe too little too late.  Maybe.  But we split.  It tore me in two I went back to drinking.  I barely held my jobs.  I was so very drunk that my neighbors told me about it.  The evening I went home with my daughters from the restaurant and knew that if arrested they would be sent to their mother as I was sent to jail cured my drinking.  I think I am an alcoholic.  I do not drink so I do not know which.  I drank only to get drunk.  Once I have a drink, it takes a mountain to move to stop the drinking.  The mountain of losing my daughters was the second mountain. The first was when I failed out of the university for the fourth time and was told to not even think about returning.  I still drank but I got a job at Chrysler as a programmer trainee.  Bud Kulka, took a chance on a loser and I put his company on the computer map.  I also stopped drinking and smoking on the same day.  I knew that if I blew this job that I would live a short life in some gutter.  That gutter was my first mountain.  They say a true alcoholic cannot quit on his own.  I believe I am the exception to that rule.  But it no longer matters: no alcohol in my life ever again.

As many people are inspired by their parents and their siblings and their heroes to pick a path and their values, I did not have these.  Be like my father?  He was my best role model of who not to be.  Be like my sisters.  They had goals and their own lives and in an age where girls and boys were different.  Heroes?  Cowboys on TV?  Since I did not think I was a real person, how could I expect to be a success in anything real people did?  But there were heroes.  People who saw things in me that I did not see for myself.  Dean Stamokakis.  Harold Hilty next door in Wauwatosa.  George Berry.  Bud Kulka. Steven Sherman.  There were a few others.  For them I would work my very soul to its limits.

Girl friends?  I am afraid of homosexuals.  A few negative encounters in train and bus stations instilled that fear.  I feared sex to the point where with anyone but my wife I was impotent and our sex life was not good.  I was always afraid that I could not love.  That part of me, like the part of me that provided "happy", was missing.  So I intentionally fell in love with a co-worker Mary Anne.  It worked, I could love.  Now I could know that I could love my wife.  except maybe the Mary Anne experience ruined the possibility.  In everything in life there are consequences.  Sometimes, knowing the possible consequences, you take the risk because the upside  seems so much greater than the downside.  I could learn if I could love but then the person I should love may no longer be there.

But there was one girl  Her name was Janne.  I messed that one up.  I exploded in anger one night and it terrified her.  She spent the night with me and all I could do was bake a cake.  The problem was that I knew I loved her but was so very afraid that she would never accept a second-class person that I fulfilled my worst nightmare.  He even had a motorcycle like mine.  When I look back on my life, memories of Janne always pop into my mind.  I had a friend, Chuck, who said he wanted to meet her.  He could not imagine a woman that could make a man never again want another woman.  After getting married I made a point of not again seeing Janne.  I think if she had been interested she would have found me.  We knew where each other were.  It would have ruined a marriage.

When young, I was driven.  I was not a real person and I was competing in a tough world. Why did I fight for 7 years to get my Computer Science degree?  Because I knew that some day that it would not be possible to compete in the computer world without that degree.  I was correct.  My father had a degree.  Suma Cum Laude at Syracuse University.  I was a poor second to second.

I am still driven.  But not in the same directions.  I proved what I needed to prove in the computer world.  I made computers, both mainframes and microprocessors do things better than anyone else could.  And I could teach others how to do the same.  Wherever I worked there were people who really liked me and people who really disliked me.  Neutral did not seem to be in the mix.  Again I shall never know where the animosity comes from.  My daughters could tell me but from them I am afraid to hear it.  I try to be the most likable person that there is but since I am an outsider, what I attempt to do mostly backfires on me.  What I have learned is that respect cannot be bought.  It cannot be earned.  It must be freely given and it can be taken back just as freely.

At my last job a Vice President took a chance and overcame some serious obstacles to get me transferred under him.  His department was a political nightmare and hostilities quickly arose.  As he walked out the door to his new job, he called me aside and told that not even once did he regret having brought me to his team.  He also said to call him if necessary for help.

The very one thing in my life that I wanted most was taken from me when I got divorced.  I wanted to have the best loving family since Ozzie and Harriet.  When my wife left I was sure that I would never find another wife.  Actions by my older daughter made me sure that I would never want another wife.  I had vicarious relationships with a couple of married women that I could not have married of even gotten past a few hugs and kisses.

But I could still be a great father.  No person ever had more to gain or lose in fatherhood than myself.  Since head of family was now gone, best daddy was still possible.  But nothing is easy.  If it were to be just the three of us, best daddy would have been a walk in the park.  But when you try to live be the rules in this world, you will always lose.  Why? Because living by someone else's rules automatically takes you out of the game.  I could get specific here but that would probably get me more animosity and a libel suit.  Needless to say being best daddy was for me with my background a really tough challenge.  With the roadblocks coming left and right, it was impossible.  But I had done impossible things with computers, maybe this was possible.  My daughters wanted to be that miracle and with their help, we tried.

But even this was not to be.  All of the things that should have been done were done and exceeded.  Both daughters were exceptional at school.  Both were role models academically and morally.  Both had high ideals and goals.  Both seemed to have better relationships with their peers than myself.  I know Megan had a harder time of it.  But it was no cake walk for Bree either.

In any case, best daddy was also not to be.  I could write a book on teaching your child personal responsibility and financial responsibility, and so on.  I could not write a book on how to help your sons and daughters how to be happy.

One lesson hard learned: "What you do for someone you do to them".  Gifts change lives.  Decisions for the family are actions done to the family.  My daughters do not have children. They will never know the effort and considerations made in making family decisions.  I learned much about my parents when I had children.  If you do not learn more from your children than they learn from you, you are doing something wrong.  Moving from one location to another is traumatic.  I learned that as a child so moving my family from one place to another was done only after many sleepless nights.  I went to 8 schools by the time I graduated.  I swore that would not happen to my children -- and it did not.  But even one move is traumatic.  Maybe only one is worse.

My children had rights, responsibilities, and rules more than their friends.  The rights and responsibilities were earned and I respected my daughters for this.  How does a child understand the irrational rules of an irrational life?  When the next lightning bolt is going to hit, you carry a strong umbrella.  When your children may be molested, beaten, or kidnapped, rules become critical.  Rules that their peers do not have.  But I am reliving and I am not there anymore.

This also is in the past.  my daughters are now in their thirties.  They have had a decade to figure out who they are and where they want to be.  Bree wrote me off a decade ago.  Mostly I do not think about her any more.  Why bother?  She says I am not her father anymore and has taken such actions that I would rather not be her father.  That took a lot on her part but she knew exactly what buttons to push.  Her mother was good at pushing buttons.

Then there is Megan.  Until I met Megan, my sister Kathie was the smartest person that I ever met.  Now it is Megan.  I hear that there are 8 different measurable intelligences.  Megan has been assessed as gifted in 5 of them.  I suspect she does well in the other 3.  I could not name the 8.  I might get half.  But I know that the one person with whom I can hold an intelligent conversation is Megan.  Her vocabulary far exceeds mine which is good since I use words that nobody else uses except for her.  Megan has read so many books -- and books are where you learn.  Books are written by people who have something to pass on.  Some part of a life story.  Some part of how to feel.  Some part of history.  Some unique perspective.  Whether they are living today or lived 3,000 years ago, if the book exists, there is something valuable in it.  And Megan has probably learned it.

The worst part for me is that the credit for Megan being Megan is all hers.  Best daddy does not even come into play.  Megan is the sunlight in my life.  All I need is an occasional ray or the open window and I can go for months.

Today I live in my motor home.   I retired early at 56 years old.  I was worn out and darn unappreciated.  I had worked with computers and telecommunications since I was 21 years old.  I had spent the last 15 in the telephone industry.  You know those bulky  plastic things connected to the wall with the red-green-yellow-black cable.  The analog world where you what you heard was what was said.   Although I worked primarily on analog telephone lines, the phones became digital and had lots of lights but were still connected to the call with that colorful cable.

What you heard was what was said?  Back in 1983 I was part of a large marketing survey.  Everything from talking cars to plastic disks with music to TV advertisements for chain stores.  Back to the plastic disks with music.  CD's.  In our section were maybe 30 people.  We were asked to listen to a musical recording two times and tell which was the best.  I was the only one who picked out the second.  the others picked out the first.  What was the difference? The first was digital and the second was analog.  The sounds on the digital were cleaner but they lost the fluidity of the analog.  I have no ear for music but to me the digital was just noise.  There were other such groups and other preferences ratios.  As a result of this survey, the ultimately released standard for CD music had twice the digital sample rate of those that we had heard.  Twice the sample rate?  Many times the sound fluidity.  You might not know what you had heard but your ear  knew.

Today we live in a totally digital world.  Other people have no trouble with cell phones.  I find cell phones almost impossible to understand.  The choppy voice quality even from people I know grates on my ears.

History.  I retired because the entire analog world was to be history very soon.  I had retrained myself from CDC to IBM mainframes.  From  mainframes to microprocessors.  From 5-bit Baudot code to 300 baud modems to ISDN.  From key systems to PBXs.  From HDLC to TCP/IP.  To go to the next step meant learning an entire new world and most people who were there had started there.  I did not want to start over and be the junior guy on the block.  I quit.  5 years later the company I worked for quit.  The entire analog telephone industry is gone.

I quit at just past the top of my last industry's peak.  I left feeling good.  Except I made another mistake.  I had hired a stock broker to manage my money.  I had ridden the wave on my 401k going from nothing in 1989 to $600,000 in 1999 with another $120,000 in my company pension plan.  An IRA completed the picture for about $50,000.  By 2010 with minimal withdrawals (I live a frugal life), I had lost, or my UBS stock broker had lost,, several more times the money than I had withdrawn.  I was down to $440,000.  In the last 6 months by again riding waves, I have taken the $440K back up to $530K.  A 20% gain and I have maintain my monthly pension at the same level.  I pat myself on the back.  At this rate I expect to break $1 million by the time my daughter inherits the money.  This has been my goal for many years.  I may cheat and increase my monthly pension check.  If I do this, for one year, I can reduce my subsequent pension checks by half for many upcoming years.  If I could do this in 6 months, how did my money manager manage to reduce my account by more than 1/3 in ten years?  Might I suggest to anyone doing business with a large brokerage firm to bail out and move your money to someplace like Scott Trade or Fidelity and use their tools to manage their money.  The brokerage houses not only taken a huge amount off the top but you are at the whim of the individual assigned broker.  All stock brokers are, by definition, confidence artists.  It does not take much intellect to examine at your own holdings and move them to where they will get the best return and move them again as the market changes.  You have a lot at risk -- your stockbroker only has his future commissions at risk.

The current priorities in my life are my dog and maintaining my financial balance.  Neither of these are overwhelming and the current strain only comes from the dog's health.

I have friends.  Good close friends.  Some not so good.  Some not so close.  I have my daughter, Megan.  I have no agenda except to lead the happiest, best life, that I can from where I am.

I need to do a little better job with my health.  But as a whole my health is good.

It is nice to not have an agenda.  I can get up in the morning and decide what I want to do for the day, week, month, or year.  I want to help a neighbor family with their daughter's birthday.  15 here is a magic age for a girl and they will spend thousands of dollars on the party. I mean real thousands of dollars.

Religion.  I have so far left that out.  I believe in God.  Pascal's wager.  Why not?  Life after death?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Jesus and the others?  Not.  I think Jesus is the greatest hoax in the history of mankind.  I feel sorry for the people who have yet to figure this out.  Oh.  He was a great prophet.  The most positive of any.  I believe the Mary Magdaline as wife theory.  It makes the most sense of any of it and fits the culture of the time better than celibacy.  If I would need to pick a religion, it would be Buddhism.  We are our brothers' keeper.

There was an English TV series.  The hero always said: "Life is hard and then you die."  Maybe life is not so hard after you die.  Maybe you can pick a point where the hard stops before death comes.  Maybe this point is reached early.  Maybe this point is reached late.  Maybe it is not reached.  In my case, the hard stopped a few years ago and it just keeps getting easier.

It is bedtime and I could write forever.  Maybe I have accomplished what I wanted.  Maybe not.  All of that drive to prove that I am a real person and like other persons is gone.  I am who I am.  I have learned that it is the rest of the world which has critical parts missing.  Voting for a Republican?  What is wrong with these people?  Me.  If and when I die, the funeral will be small and no one will remember me.  And most of those that do will be glad I am gone.  But to a few, their hearts will know that in my heart I was great and I wanted was for the world to  be better.

DECEMBER

So ends the year.  It has been a good year with some bad times.  Each year I get weaker.  The walks on the beach get harder.  My life centers around my dog, Bingo.  I got really very sick last week.  I was so sick that I was afraid I would pass out before I got home.  I would have gone to the hospital except that my dog was with me.

Summary

I have come to the conclusion that my world is surrounded by stupid people.  Near and far.  Republicans after two years of vocally sitting on their asses and making sure that would be no return to sanity after GWB, won many seats in Congress.  Their idiot woman from Alaska seems to be headed for a run for President or at least Vice President.  Only an idiot would vote Republican after the ruin of the world and the country economy by GWB and the total loss of all American integrity .  Giving billions of dollars to banks and insurance companies as he left office to make his buddies rich and to handcuff his successor was successful.  GWB has hired 50 people to rewrite history.  The worst crook in any political office in 200 years and now there are books about how great he was as he stole our country out from under us.

More locally, the American government has initiated an anti-Mexico program that not only extends to individuals but the country as a whole.  The Mexican economy is in the sewer because tourists are afraid to visit.  Even people in American border cities are afraid and they should know that it is all lies.  When  was the last time you left your car or home unlocked?  In Mexico I never lock either unless I am gone for a week or so.  And I go barefoot everywhere.

Here in El Golfo, there is a dog anthrax epidemic.  But nobody cares as they have no idea how to deal with it or how dangerous it is.  El Golfo is now so poor that on Christmas they do not even give presents.

The CRA park is all but empty whereas even last year it was pretty full.  5 years ago it would have been turning away people.  The local sociopath, Jim Marcy, has spread his poison across the company.   He tells the park employees to stop my dog from roaming the park.  My dog has never roamed or even run free in the park.  He does jump from the car to the beach when we go for our walks.  20 feet.  Marcy tells people I am stealing his Internet service.  I do not need to do this as I use the park manager's line.  I would use the park service except that Marcy uses a security protocol only available to some Wi-Fi systems.

He has told people across the park system to not accept my mail in Yuma.  This is rally stupid on his part.  I have always picked up and delivered mail between Yuma and El Golfo.  No more.  I have a box in yuma and no longer need to make the 10 mile trip out of town for the mail deliveries.  My gain.  CRA loss.

It comes down to his continuing the false rumor that I am not a member.  I even get asked when i attend events who permitted me to attend.  More of their loss.

The lot owner, Beto, occasionally arrives here in the middle of the night.  When he comes, he breaks things.  He has been fired in two cities from their police forces.  He gave up trying to fish.  Now he is working in the agricultural fields on the American side.  On every visit he has a new girl friend.  Young.  Thin.  Pretty.  I may move just because I fear that one of these times Beto will break something important.  This week he destroyed the fence gates because he would not walk 50 feet to use my open gates and refuses to carry the key to his own gate.  Repair is at my expense.

My sisters have scheduled a birthday party for my mother. 5 months before her birthday and halfway across the Pacific from her home.  Maybe I shall make a trip to her home on her birthday but not a chance will I go to Hawaii.

And so ends the year.  I am glad I have some good friends here in El Golfo and I am glad to be able to see my daughter, Megan.  And there is the dog, Bingo, and my good health even if it is not quite so good as the year started.

Summary

Written:  2010          Updated: December 31, 2010         Back To Top