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Year 2011: It Just Started.  I Hope it is a Good Year?

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This year I have decided to write the calendar in reverse order.  To read the entire year you must start at the bottom.

Life in Paradise

I already wrote about how many deluded people think that they live in Paradise.  Not even close.

El Golfo has a beautiful beach.  I walk the dog three miles every day and rarely see anyone at all.  The US Government "Mexico is too dangerous to visit" campaign has been exceedingly successful.  There are no tourists any more.  There are also no fish nor are there any shrimp (not the fault of the USA).  Every year the town gets poorer.  In the central town, petty theft is up.  There are fewer Gringos in the CRA park and most of the regulars have given up.

I live in my RV on a rented, fenced lot with my primary concerns being my dog, my health, and my lack of responsibility in cleaning my RV.

DECEMBER

...

NOVEMBER

Thanksgiving Vacation

I went to Megan's house for Thanksgiving.  We had duck for dinner.  The drive seems to get longer each time I make it.  700 miles.  Nothing special happened.  The usual:  the weather is cooler there and Megan likes cooler temperatures than me. The forecast was for rain but we only had one rain but with several days of clouds.

Black Friday

We went shopping at the Modesto Mall and then to Costco  This was interesting and disappointing.

I had a few incidents with Bingo.

Best Buy: I bought an advertised disk drive.  Disk drives are hard to come by because of the Japan tsunami disaster this summer.  I got the last one and then only because it was sitting on the counter instead of on the shelf.   The ones not advertised were the normal Best Buy price.  This means double the normal Costco price.  Today I found the same drive at Costco too late: $20 cheaper than the Best Buy sale price.

OfficeMax:  This was a disaster.
I bought a will making program.  They should not have sold it.  The program was written for Windows XP.  The online update web page did not exist.  The help files were of the old WIndows format -- no longer supported under Vista or Windows 7.  The program was so primitive that it asked ME the responsibilities of the Executor.  OfficeMax after some complaint about returning software gave me a store credit with which I bought an HP expensive ink cartridge.
I bought Dragon Speak for $45 -- an advertised special.  Later Amazon had the same program for $39.
I bought Photoshop Elements 10 for $54.  Later Costco had the same program for $49.

I bought an HP printer for $79.  Later at Costco I found the same HP series next step up for $69.

Conclusion:  Not only were the Black Friday specials overpriced and discontinued products sold, nothing appeared to be better than the competition.  Local competition.  If you must shop here, check out the local stores first.

Costco:  I found the Radar detector that I bought last week for $30 off.  Maybe I could have got a refund if I had had the original receipt with me.  Maybe I could have gotten it anyway.  I was so disgusted with Best Buy and OfficeMax that I did not bother.

Advice:  Always try Costco and Sam's Club first and then go to the others if necessary.  I got good deals but I could have gotten better by ignoring the advertisements from the standard stores.

OCTOBER

Attempting Not to be a Tourist

I have applied for a Mexico Resident Immigrant visa (FM-2).  In theory I should have applied for this ten years ago rather than repeatedly obtaining tourist visas (FM-T).  The FM-T states that it should not be renewed.

As of this month the FM-2 has new rules.  Previously 3 bank statements were required to prove sufficient income.  People complained about invasion of privacy so now the requirement is a letter from the bank stating that I have an account with sufficient income deposits and no extraordinary expenses.  I have written Bank of the West and hope that they provide me with such a letter.

Another Almost Lot

I have stopped looking for a lot to buy.  Sometimes things are not good.  This gets a bit complicated.

The construction manager across the street informed me that a friend had a lot for sale.  It turned out to be a lot that I have admired for some time.  

<> The man told me that the owners were desperate to sell as they needed money for upcoming fishing season expenses.  This turned out to be a lie as I find out much later in the process.  The prices were reasonable but considering the El Golfo  economy, a bit high.  But I liked the lots enough to proceed as long as I had a period of time to pay the total amount.

The seller actually had 2 lots for sale at 13k dollars per lot.  I agreed to this since the one lot that I wanted was at the top of the local hill and the other lot was on the downside of the same hill.  This would prevent someone else from cutting the lower lot down and endangering the upper lot (this is legal and common here).

We negotiated a payment schedule and that the seller would pay the legal fees.  Normal.  Then I was informed that there would be a $2000 per lot registration fee with the distinct government.  I had thought that this was included in the legal fees.  The seller agree to pay for one of the registration fees and extend the payment schedule.

Property taxes and other fees are required to be made soon and before any sale can be made and the seller does not have the money to pay these.  I agree to pay these up front as long as we have a valid sales contract and this pre-payment is recorded in the contract and that all money transactions will go through the lawyer.  What I do not want to happen is for me to pay the man's taxes and then have him cancel the sale.  As it is even a written contract is dangerous for me.

I also verified that the real estate agent sign on the property was not my problem.  The construction manager referred me to a friend of his, a real estate agent, that could handle my ownership papers since a Gringo cannot own property here directly.  Now I have a representative in the transactions and explanations are made.  So there is a meeting of everyone.

The lot titles have a family ownership clause which means that the seller must have this clause removed before the sale can be made.  He is also going to use the most expensive lawyer in town (San Luis).  My new real estate agent friend refers him to his favorite lawyer because this lawyer is well known and has lower costs.

The construction manager (who is obviously getting a commission from the seller) now tells me that he new legal costs include lot transfer registration d come total to $4,000 of which he expects me to pay half.  I tell him that this is great that the expenses have been reduced but the only difference is that the registration costs are no longer to the district government but are covered by legal fees and are therefore not my problem nor expense.  Since he is only an agent for the seller, this dispute is not yet settled.  I am ready to kill the deal if anything goes wrong -- and they know it.

I go to San Luis with my new real estate friend to get my FM-2 and find out that I need the above mentioned letter.  On the side we stop at the lawyer's office at my request to make sure that he is getting the same story from me and the seller.  The lawyers that it shall take two to three months to clear the family clause from the titles.

We return and find the seller waiting for us in El Golfo.  I inform him that there is no point in discussing the lot sale prior to obtaining a clear title.  He insists on the tax-prepayment loan and a contract.  I say good bye repeating my need for a clear title to proceed.  Three months takes me into next year making my expenses easier.  The seller says good bye and we part company.  I do not think he is my friend.

Now I discover the real reason for the desperation.  It is the habit of people here to not ever pay their property taxes until the property is sold.  This leaves the government so poor that it has no ability to go to court to enforce payment.  President Calderon had a tax law passed a few years ago to help pay for collection agents.  As of the first of the year, the district is going to cancel titles of property for which taxes are unpaid.  The district is starting with undeveloped lots and, I presume, will expand into other lots when the vacant lots are handled.

After reclamation and a time interval, the lots will be resold with new titles.  Some time next year.

The reason that the seller is desperate is that he needs to pay the taxes or lose his lots.  Now he will not sell his lots as there are no more gringo suckers in the neighborhood.  He will lose them.  I might be able to buy the same lots for less than half his selling price some time next year.  Even if I cannot buy these lots, others will be available at discounted prices.

In the meantime another friend, also a real estate agent, has offered to lease me with a permanent lease a lot for $1,000 per year.  Including rights to lot improvement (fences etc.) the lot already has power, water, and septic.  For the time being I have also turned this down.  I need to recover from my latest escapade before starting a new one.  If I have problems with my current lot owner (Beto), I do have other places to live either permanently or temporarily.

Greedy and Selfish

I must update the previous month but it is already into the middle of October and I have been slacking.

I have stirred up a hornet's nest. at the RV park with my article on the theft of my dog's collar.  Letters have been written.  People have run up to me, yelled, and run away.  Even my friends have been accused of being my friends.  I would have believed that no one ever read these pages until now.  The word "insane" has been used.

All of this just proves my point:  American are greedy, selfish people.  They absolutely do not want to hear it.  You would think that Americans visiting a foreign culture with loving and caring family values would understand that they do not share these values.  My neighbor's father just put his car in hock to pay her back cell phone bills so that she could communicate with the agency that has stopped sending her support checks.  My father, a typical Republican American, had a different lesson when I loaned him money: "Don't trust anyone, not even your old man."  For months thereafter I missed many meals for not heeding his lesson.  My attitude on loaning money is that if I do so, and I rarely do, if it is not repaid all I lost is the money.  They lost a friend.

I shall never make the perfect Buddhist.  But I believe their basic tenants.  I am always polite to people even when they are rude to me.  I treat people as I would like to be treated.  This is a basic tenant of all religions but mostly ignored.  I only treat people with distance when they have shown intent to hurt me.   And there are many out there who would do so.  Strangely enough being nice to people who do not like you just makes matters worse.

The word "insane" is interesting since it is a legal term having no basis in behavior or values.  I doubt that any of the persons who think my actions are "insane"  have ever dealt with people with mental problems.  I have.  When younger, I volunteered at the state mental hospitals.  I befriended many people abandoned by their friends and families.  Many of these had serious problems.  Many had minor problems exacerbated by their loneliness.  I wish I could have helped more.  But calling me names, yelling and running away, making blind accusations about me to others but never confronting me directly just proves my original assertions.

This is why I live among people who care.  People who love and care for each other.  People so poor that they do not know from where their next meal will come.  Being poor is not a virtue any more than being rich but sometimes the better qualities of people can be seen among the poor.

The Wall

Once upon a time a man of good will died and went to heaven where he met St. Peter at the gate.  St. Peter gave the man a tour of the land .  As they returned to to the gate, St. Peter asked if there were any questions.  The man had one: "Why is there a wall running down one side of the entire land?"  Peter replied by placing ladders against the wall for them to view the other side.  Amazed, the man asked why the division.  The other side of the wall was identical to the first side with people enjoying their world the same as those he saw on his side.  St. Peter responded: "Oh! Those are the Catholics.  They think that they are the only ones here."  

A priest recited this to me many years ago.  It seemed funny at the time but as I grow older it seems that it belies a shortcoming in our world views. The word "Catholic" can be replaced by many other words.  The two that come to mind are "Christian" and "American".

SEPTEMBER

I have had a couple of conversations with Costco Travel.  I doubt anything useful will come of my (written) complaint.  Their argument is that we received an "upgraded" room.  Remember from the ship floor plan that each room has a class and sometimes the classes seem to overlap.  Costco claims that we received a room with a higher class but just because it has a higher class does not mean that it has a better view.  Costco claims that the class upgrade that we received was a room with increased floor space.  I guess we got a bigger closet.

They are pulling up my phone conversations with the selling agent to verify that I was told that my room had the better view since that was precisely the purpose of my second phone call.  Even still I expect that they shall claim that their agent may have understood my concern but not have promised the window.  I have not heard from them for several days and so I expect a letter apologizing for my confusion.  In the best case, Costco says that they will pursue the issue with Princess.  They have made no claim of any other assistance.

VACATION to Alaska

I think this is a great place to add something other than a month name.  I took two weeks off and went on a cruise to Alaska with my daughter, Megan.  I learned much on this cruise.  So let's get started.

Before I leave I have Andrea and Jorge each give Bingo one of his anti-biotic pills just to make sure they know how.  I leave the TV connected to only the DVD player and clean house.  Much cleaning.  This new Shark vacuum cleaner gets full of sand and dog hair only twice this time.  Other than a junk attachment (super dog hair cleaner), I like this vacuum.  Dog hair?  This attachment claims to be great at removing dog hair.  It worked the first time and then gave up.  It had two red furry strips that I guess were to raise the dog hairs.  The attachment quickly ate these.  The attachment has a belt-driven brush.  The belt is attached to a vacuum-driven windmill.  Neat.  It worked for a while but since the windmill in order to work must be in the same path as the dirt, it took only a short time before it was clogged with the dog hairs it claimed to remove and a whole lot of sand in the windmill axle and the belt drive.  I used a half can of canned air and got it working again but it will never be the same as new.  But in general the floor is better.

August 24: Wednesday

I leave for Megan's home in Patterson  This gives me an extra day to rest before we take off for Seattle.  I stop at 57 for my INR blood test, to buy some Pesos, and to pay the electric bill.  I discover when I return from vacation that the INR test results are either in error or I am dead.  The electric bill is three times normal.  Chayo and I shall have serious discussions about this.  The water bill was also more than double.  and they were gone for half of the month.  Pesos are slightly increasing.  This is sad.

Sad?  The economy of Mexico is married to that of the USA.  I read a commentary saying that Mexico should file for divorce.  When the Peso is falling as rapidly as the US dollar, Mexico is in trouble -- and they do not even have Republicans ruining their world.

The Republicans want to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment.  I am all for this but not the same amendment that they want.  They want to inscribe their hatred of the working people in stone by requiring that "balance" means cutting services and increasing taxes only on the working class.  Their "balance" does not include increasing taxes on the rich.  The Republican doublespeak calls the rich "job creators".  If they deserved this title, then the USA would not need an amendment.  My version of the amendment calls for balanced taxing without cutting services.  I worked hard for these services and am not about to advocate a bunch of lunatics tossing them away.

I stop in Yuma for my mail and to buy shirts and slacks -- required for the dining room ion the cruise -- semi-formal.  They say I need a dinner jacket and tie for the two formal dinners.  We shall eat elsewhere those nights.

August 25: Thursday

I arrived last evening and sleep most of today.  Megan is working.  I pay my bills on the Internet.  My back hurts from the Ranger.  Megan says I need a cushion for my back.  This car is the worst car for highway driving ever invented.  The long and narrow makes hitting bumps akin to watching a grasshopper with a sore foot.  The seats have no back support and curve forward in place of an adjustable headrest.  My Dodge Caravan was similar so I am sort of used to driving a car designed to cause permanent back injury.  Designed is always a bad word when used to indicate that an item is lacking design.

August 26: Friday

Megan and I leave early in the morning -- about 5:30 for Seattle.  Why 5:30?  We get to Tracy about 6 just in time to buy gas at the Costco.  We buy a few items at the WalMart next door and head on north.  We make a few stops for meals and gas and an REI for hats and rain gear.  The weather report says Alaska will have rain every day.  We arrive at my mother's apartment about 11:30 at night.  I get an apartment and Megan gets to sleep on my mother's couch.  I sleep well even with a sore back.  I think Megan slept well.

My eyes.  This was a very long trip preceded by an equal length trip just to arrive at Megan's.  This trip is longer because we need to locate new gas stations and the REI and stops for meals.  By the time we got into Seattle I had lost all depth perception and my eyes ached.  This makes Megan worried but we made it without incident.  My mother lives on the far north side and we went from cross-country driving with some city stops to a large city with many lights and exits.

August 27: Saturday -- Departure

The big day.  Breakfast with my mother.  The visit to my mother is pleasant.  She says Kathie wants to visit but we have little time for visits.   We take a quick run to the pier to get the layout.  Quick?  Not really.  Cruise ships arrive in the morning so we run into traffic.  I mislabeled the map program.  The real pier is 91.  I marked pier 61,  The difference is a couple of miles of congestion.  But this is why we took the early run.  We return to my mother's to reorganize and return to the parking lot.  The official Seattle parking lot.  $25 per day.  We get a good spot and a ride to the ship.

A porter takes our bags ship side and the ship's crew delivers them to the room.  Clockwork.  We wait in line for our passport check.  Our security edit.  Our boarding pass validation.  Our pass card.  The pass card is tied to our credit card.  You do not pay for anything on board the ship.  You just present your pass card and the charges add up.  The pass card also gets you on and off the ship.

The ship, the Golden Princess, with us on it, leaves Seattle about 4 in the afternoon.  We go to our rooms waiting for the fire drill.  We meet our room steward and sit through the indoctrination class.  Then it is dinner time.  This is a problem.  My new shirts both say XL but only the orange one fits.  The blue one is too small but I can get it buttoned.  I hope I can do this for the entire trip.  The slacks barely fit at all.  Again, the waist may be a problem by the end of the cruise.  My new belt looks and acts like a saddle cinch.

Although we shall enjoy the cruise, we find that our Costco room upgrade is not really an upgrade.  It is, in fact, a downgrade.  We paid for a room with a partial view.  This is an upgrade from an internal room.  This a once in a lifetime excursion for us so I thought we would want to see the outside while in our room.  On top of this we paid Costco trip insurance for Megan.  Costco trip insurance is not available for me -- my address is Texas and Texas has its own insurance laws.  For using Costco, we get a free room upgrade if such rooms are available.  We got our upgrade -- or rather a downgrade.  Our new room was at the rear of the ship .  I knew this beforehand from the room number and the ship's Internet diagram.  But the diagram was either a lie or just misleading.  The diagram showed a balcony next to the room.  There was no balcony.  This was a crew/emergency stairway down.  We used it on the fire drill.  No balcony.

The diagram showed the room at the same level as the rear pool.  Sort of.  We were at the same level as the bottom of the pool.  The pool deck was the ceiling of our room.  This meant scraping noises every morning as the crew moved the deck lounges away from the sides.  Again in the evening the same noises but we were not in our room to hear these.  Mostly we did not hear people using the lounges as most people in this area were either swimming or standing to watch the ship's wake.

But the worst part of this "upgrade" was that we had no glass windows covering a large part of the room wall.  Instead we had two little port holes at the far end of a three-foot tunnel.  The port holes were salt-encrusted and paint spattered on the outside.  You could see the ship's wake and the sun.  Nothing else.  Costco cheated us.  I wrote them a letter but I doubt that I shall hear from them except for an inept apology and a better luck next time.  There will be no next time.  First off, this was our once in a lifetime cruise.  Second off, what do they want to do?  give us another upgrade next time?  I had even called Costco to verify that this was a good upgrade.  The man said he had ridden this very ship and the room was good.  Liar.

If the room makes a difference, you are doing something wrong.  This is what I always told my kids when we traveled.  But I paid extra for the room.  Enough.

We were assigned the most elegant dining room for dinner.  A table for six.  Our companions were OK.  The room was so noisy that we could not enjoy dinner.  Megan has very sensitive hearing.  My hearing is exceptional.  The room noise was too much.  We could not hear our table mates talking except when we leaned over to them and then only to the person next to us.  We complained.  They would not move us to another table and I doubt that it would have helped.  Restaurants know that there must be soft walls, floors, ceilings, and furniture to keep the noise levels down.  Especially when the room is overcrowded with tables and people all wanting to talk at the same time.  ANd a restaurant does not have to deal with the ship's noise.  Too much.

When we returned to our room we found that we had been re-assigned to the next lower class dining room.  Same menu.  Six people at the table.  OK.  Maybe.

We discovered the buffet.  It was a great buffet.  Really super choices for different meal times.  On the net floor up.  We were on 12 and the next floor up was 14.  Since there were no room assignments on the upper floor, they could have named it 13.  Whatever.  We ate all of our meals except dinner in the buffet.  But it was still a buffet.  It had good windows so that we could watch the ocean and the shore (sometimes) from the buffet.  Getting a window table was impossible.  Most of the window tables sat 6 and people were not friendly enough to share tables.  It would have been better if almost all of the window tables sat two or four.  Much better.

August 28: Sunday -- At Sea

This is the "At Sea" day.  We learned our way around the ship and saw a lot of water.  I learned just how much water there is in the world.  I guess if you go out onto the ocean away from shore you learn this quickly.  I had forgotten from our S.S. Azure Seas trip almost 30 years ago.

Here is the time to make the Titanic reference.  You saw the movie?  The one about 10 years ago with the people looking for the diamond?  The one where the hero is poor and lives in the lower deck and is in love with the rich girl on the upper decks?  The movie where the class difference between the rich and the poor is very obvious?  Where the rich parade around showing off and have these beautiful suites and the poor live on bunk beds and have their party in an interior room?

This was not that structured but there was always the feeling that I was lower class than many.  Getting a window seat i the buffet was not easy.  Maybe I did it to myself.  I spent much more on gas and the rip up to be able to afford ship luxuries.  I was afraid to run up my credit card with unseen charges for extra meals in other restaurants.  Certainly no massages.  No jewelry or painting or picture purchases.  ut there was a definite second-class about us.  Oh.  I could have had better clothes.  Maybe that was it.  On the formal nights I could still wear my slacks and orange or blue shirt.  On informal nights, people dressed worse than myself.  Megan dressed OK but she also did not have the expansive wardrobe that maybe the uppers had.

But our new dining room assignment was indicative that it was not just my imagination.  The room was OK.  Our table was OK.  The noise level was much better.  Our table mates were rude and unfriendly.  Megan is more aggressive than me in these areas.  She would converse with the people who were otherwise ignoring us.  But this was dinner and not time for a lot of talking.  Neither of us bought dinner drinks.  I do not drink alcohol and Megan does but did not.

The table mates would talk over me as if I did not exist.  Or that whatever I had to say was not worth their time it took to say my piece.  I mean they could have listened and then ignored me.  No.  They just talked over me.  I am sort of used to this as Gringos at El Golfo CRA do it all of the time.  Megan had to tell me that this was happening since I have learned to ignore being talked over.  I just stop talking and eat my next mouthful.

But these people were rude.  On the last night (I know -- out of sequence but I need an early example of rudeness), the man to my left, coughed or sneezed and covered me and my dinner with snot from his nose.  He wiped himself off and continued his meal.  No apology.  Nothing.  I am sure it was at least partially intentional.  I could not eat my meal.  I used the dinner napkin to wipe my face and arms.  I should have gone to the rest room and washed up but I felt so humiliated that I just wiped off and asked the waiter for a new plate.  I had ordered steak.  The new plate arrived with a new meal.  It had obviously been microwaved.  The plate was hot and the steak was that microwave gray color.  I ate everything but the steak.  A shower when we got back to the room removed the snot and dirt but not the sick feeling.

August 29: Monday -- Juneau

Juneau is the capital of Alaska.  It is the only one of the fifty state capitals with no highway access.  If you want to go to Juneau, you arrive by ship or do some serious hiking.  We spent the day hiking around Juneau.  Already I forget events.  Megan had set us up for some excursions.  She did a good job.  We took the tour bus to the Mendenhall Glacier.  This is a National Park and quite well maintained.

The tour bus was a twofer as were most of the Juneau tours.  Some were whale-watching.  I have seen whales.  We saw some private gardens.  A total waste.  Maybe the garden owners bribe the ship company.  Maybe the garden owners and the ship executives are just good friends.  In any case, the gardens were a waste of time and money.  A cart ride around a trail through of what appeared to be just normal rain forest.  A couple inverted (perverted?) trees.  A good view of the city.  And a shop area with hanging plants.

Glaciers.  A sad commentary on global warming.  I noticed that no one in the National Park Service nor anyone on the tours used the words "Global Warming".  But it was enough to make you sick to you stomach if the snotty man was not enough to do this.  In 1979 we took a tour of Canada in the RV.  Carole, Bree (4), Megan (1) and myself.  We saw glaciers.  Many glaciers.  Proud.  Brilliantly white. Solid rivers of ice.  Enough to stop your heart in awe.  I know.  I stopped many times in awe of these marvelous ice fields.  The Athebascan glacier came right up to the highway with a vertical wall of blue-white ice.  You could take tours on top of the glacier.  We did not.

About 15 years ago, maybe about 1995, Megan and I took a vacation up to Jasper though Banff and Lake Louise.  The Athebascan glacier had receded about a mile back from the highway.  It was gray and crumbling.  Signs told you to not walk on the ice.  People fell into the crevasses and were not found.  The glacier was sick.  Today it may be lucky to still be a glacier at all.

But Alaska is covered with glaciers.  The whole purpose of a cruise through the "Inner Passage" is to see glaciers.  We saw them.  Many of them  And yes there were blue-white pieces of ice.  The Mendenhall glacier ended in a small lake with little icebergs floating in it.  Blue-white chunks of ice.  There were glaciers that ended in the sea.  The cruise ship went past them.  Big things.  Crevasses.  Dirt. Dirty little icebergs.  What we saw were glaciers dying.

What is a glacier?  When the earth was normal, the north received snow.  The snow fell on mountains, valleys, everywhere.  The valleys filled with ice as the snow packed and the weight of new snow compacted the previous into ice.  The runoff from the mountains froze into the valleys and since there was no melting of the total, the ice grew to fill the valleys.  Mostly pure ice and water.  A little runoff silt from the mountains but since the mountains are giant pieces of granite, very little silt.

But the weight of all this causes the river to slowly flow downhill in the valleys.  The bottom of the glacier grinds away at the rocks and crates dirt and silt and this embeds into the bottom of the glacier.   On a healthy glacier, you see ice.  Brilliant blue-white ice whit a white snowy cap.

On  dying glacier, you see crevasses where the warm sun has dissolved the upper ice down into the very heart and soul of the glacier.  The ice falling from the end of the more rapidly moving glacier is filled with the silt and dirt of the bottom of the glacier.  The part you do not see on the healthy glacier.  The chunks of ice falling into the sea had stripes of dirt.  Large stripes.

If Megan and I had not taken this trip this year, within our lifetimes the dying glaciers that we saw would all be history.  They will be history in our lifetimes.  We saw them dying and there is no lifeline to throw to them.  I doubt very much if the other tourists on this cruise felt the heartbreak that Megan and I felt on seeing the death of these beautiful entities.

Oh. We enjoyed the trip  We enjoyed the boat ride.  But inside our hearts we saw our world dying amd hope that its death comes generations after we are gone.

August 30: Tuesday

August 31: Wednesday

September 1: Thursday

September 2: Friday

September 3: Saturday

September 4: Sunday

September 5: Monday

September 6: Tuesday -- Labor Day

 

AUGUST

Just an update.  Things change and I forget to write about them.

I have opened a checking account at a Yuma bank.  I buy more of my things in El Golfo and Mexico.  I try to do my share of supporting the local economy and to stop supporting the American mega-banks.  But mostly I need a local debit card to get cash.

Megan and I go to Seattle for my mother's birthday and then a cruise to Alaska at the end of this month.  The very end: we return Labor Day weekend.  The cruise is a week and I need another week for travel time.  Two weeks away from Bingo.  My neighbor friends will care for him on the lot here.

I am buying a lot.  I hope it works out this time.  I do not trust the lot owner here needing my presence now that his cousin, Chayo, is living here (part time).  She is back in San Luis and said for only 15 days but it is turning out to be more than that.  I need to deal with the Mexican logistics.  A non-Mexican cannot own land close to the sea.  So I need a proxy owner.  Prices of lots have sky rocketed in the last couple of years.   Jobless residents are selling their lots for a premium.  This increases the value of the land but makes the original owners homeless but money-rich for a short time.  In ten years only the rich will be able to live here.  Like Puerto Peñasco.

My beautiful neighbor across the street is moving to Nogales.  Her boy friend left a few months ago and she can no longer afford to live here.  Just looking at her makes my day.

The neighbor's pit bull attacked Bingo on our walk around the block yesterday.  The owner said to not hit her poor dog because it is small.  Bullshit.  It is not small ("Only a year old"). I told her it was not small.  Maybe young but not small. Bingo outran the pit bull and waited by our gate.  I broke my walking stick on the pit bull and he did not even notice.  I was afraid the dog would bite me.  I doubt it has had any shots.  You should see the chain and collar they have for that dog.  And she thinks I should be gentle with a dog that could kill me and my dog and not even notice?

On the claim that I wrote something bad about the CRA lot owners, one of them came into Raul's office.  A couple of weeks ago.  I say came in but it was sort of a forced in after I opened the door a crack.  I propped the door with my bad leg and although the ankle pain is gone the knee still twinges a bit.  I doubt she noticed that her small push caused me any duress.  Although i protested her entrance, her entry should not have been permitted under any circumstances.  Raul has taken back my keys and I am no longer welcomed at the gate.  I have not seen Raul for two weeks to apologize.  An apology will not restore my privileges.  Internet activity is restricted until I can get my own telephone.  Maybe October.

There was another minor problem.  They asked for a photo of my membership card.  This business of me not being a member has gotten out of hand.  Subsequently I came into the gatehouse to find my picture exploded on a full page on the wall.  I looked like a felon n the Post Office FBI most-wanted board.  I insisted on the page being returned to me which caused an explosion of anger.  

I have been too busy to make much of this and maybe they think I am avoiding them.  It seems that every bad thing that happens to me is related to a Gringo and probably at the CRA park.  Maybe it is time to make the non-member thing a reality and become like the people who have stopped coming to the park.

2011 August 13

Yesterday was an interesting day.  It started normal.  I took the dog for a walk on the beach.  All three miles of a walk.  I was thinking about the LED collar I bought the night before.  I hope I ordered the right size.  I am angry with WalMart.  The collar I lost (stolen by American tourists) was a nylon collar and apparently the Large size.  Now in 3 different WalMarts I only see small and medium sizes of this collar.  They have a Large/Extra Large collar but it has a metal hasp.  Understandable for a large dog but this collar is giant.  There is a hook for the regular large but either the stores have been invaded by owners of large dogs or WalMart has just dropped the item.  I need all nylon or Bingo's neck turns orange.  Sea water will rust anything, chrome coated or not.

In any case the day went normal again after the walk.  I cleaned up the car a bit and about afternoon walk time -- I installed new latches on the ice chest.  The Mexican checkpoint soldiers have broken the other ones.  But Bingo was coughing under the car.  Coughing for him is not unusual but usually only after exercise and we had not left yet.  I climbed down to see.  Bingo was covered with blood from the top of his head, down his face, chest, and forelegs.  And he was hiding from me.  Hiding like when I first got him.  He was afraid he had done something wrong and was about to be beaten.  I hate those people.  I really do.  Who could instill such unhappiness and fear into such an animal?  I petted him and assured him that he was OK.  He did not believe me.  I took him over to his tub and hosed off the blood.  I needed to know where it was coming from.  It appeared to be coming from his mouth.

I packed up a few things and took off.  Really short of gas but I carry spares.  I called the vet and got someone who after five minutes hung up -- she did not speak English.  If she had returned I could have spoken to her in Spanish.  I called again and asked in Spanish for the doctor.  I told him I would be there in about an hour and Bingo was apparently bleeding internally.  5:50 now.  I drove faster than normal and hoped the police with Radar would not stop me.  I arrived at the El Doctor checkpoint.  I told the soldier that I had an emergency: my dog was bleeding and the surgeon was waiting for me in San Luis.  They let me drive around the line and made a fast check.

I made good time but the hour was up.  I called again.  5 minutes and they hung up on me again.  Close enough.  I got there and ran into the office with Bingo.  By now I had determined that he had a really bad nose bleed.  I thought it might be the antihistamine that the doctor prescribed.  But now the bleeding had stopped and we waited our turn.  I had forgotten Bingo's leash in the car but he behaved himself pretty well.  As usual Bingo was the hit of the office, everyone stopped to pet him.  He had blood on his legs and front but it was drying.  How many dogs are welcome in a crowded vet's office without a leash?

The vet checked Bingo and thought maybe he still had some Valley Fever but he wanted another test.  He gave Bingo a Vitamin K shot to improve coagulation.  Vitamin K -- the vitamin that interferes with my Warfarin.  For exactly the same reason: coagulating my blood is a bad thing.

The tests were a small tab with a slot for a blood sample.  Expensive.  I approved and the doctor prepared one for use.  He got a bit of blood from Bingo.  New blood with a syringe.  Bingo cringed.  He did not cringe or even move for the vitamin injection.  He is a good dog.  Understandably he does not like the stainless steel examination table.  The test showed two different blood infections.  Infections normally carried by ticks.  Garapatas.  Interesting.  I asked about the heart worm and Frontline medications.  The doctor agreed that fleas and ticks would drop off because of the heart worm medication in Bingo's blood.  But they needed to bite Bingo to discover the poison in the blood -- after inserting their own poison.  Frontline discourages the bite and provides better protection.  This is contrary to my understanding of the spot-on medication (Frontline).  I thought they invaded the blood by passing through the skin.  In any case, I have seen no ticks in my house or on Bingo.

Maybe it is these infections that have had him coughing for the last several months.  The blue dots on the test strip were large and solid.  There is no doubt that Bingo has these infections.  And they could cause the bleeding and the coughing.  The doctor does not carry the medications for these infections and must order them.  Tuesday from Mexicali.  I am going to Mexicali on Tuesday but I could never have found the vet pharmacy with the maze of streets that calls itself Mexicali.  80 pesos by bus delivery.  80 pesos extra.  7 dollars.  I can afford 7 dollars.  I can afford a lot more than that if it makes Bingo better.

The vet sells me some rat poison pellets.  Tiny things.  Not big chunks like at WalMart.  I can hide some small pellets where the mice can get them but not Bingo.  These darn mice have avoided all of the traps I have set for them.  The vet bill for tonight: $50 for the test kit.  No charge for the exam or vitamin shot or rat poison.  You wonder why this vet has so many Gringo customers?  His prices are high for Mexicans.  Americans expect a couple hundred dollar bill -- especially when there is no appointment, it is after office hours, and it is a stated emergency.

I am rethinking leaving Bingo in El Golfo during my vacation.  If the medication is daily for more than a week, then I may leave Bingo with the vet for my vacation.  I may do that anyway.  Maybe I worry too much but a chest full of blood is frightening.  Now I have blood all over the car seat and some clothes.  Tough.  Oh!  The cost of boarding Bingo (with a daily exercise period)?  75 pesos per day.  $7.  And that will be discounted because the vet likes Bingo.

But the trip home was the most interesting.  I got passed by a pickup truck who saw the police car parked at the roadside and slowed down.  I did not slow down until I closed on the pickup truck and then I also saw the police car.  Rats.  A ticket -- and I knew that they were waiting at the crossroad on purpose.  Speed limits at crossroads are lower.  Sure enough I saw the red and blue lights behind me.  I signaled that I saw them and slowed seeking a place to pull over.  In Mexico such a place might be a kilometer or so.  There are no shoulders and the drop off is about 6 meters -- 20 feet.

He was an elderly cop and asked only for my license and registration.  He took it and went returned to his car.  I had thought he was alone but there was another cop in the car.  One of the new pickup trucks.  They verified my identification, returned them, and sent me on my way.  No ticket.  No mordida.  Wow.  Guau.  I had been properly respectful and had mentioned the passing pickup but more as a coincidence than as an excuse.  I did not expect anything I said to alter the path to a ticket.  He had shown me the Radar gun.  74 in a 60.  45 mph in a 35 mph zone.  I am sure that I was doing the 45 -- other pickup or no.  I proceeded happily along the highway but the concern now was the yellow light indicating I was low on gas and also concerned about my bladder pressure.

I had been in such a hurry at the vet's office that I had left my car lights on.  I had gone back out to turn them off.  Now I arrived at home with the gas needle on exactly empty and did not wait to go inside the RV to relieve the bladder pressure.  Bingo was happy to be home.  But I was in shock  The front gate was half open.  The RV door was all the way open.  THe lights were all on.  Had I been robbed or had I left in such a panic that I had left everything open?  I thought I must have been robbed because I was not that panicked -- was I?  I must have wasted a lot of electricity cooling the outside.  I really must install the storm window pane.  No, I was not robbed.  4 hours with an open invitation to anyone passing by?  Try that in the USA.

So the day ends well.  No robbery.  No ticket.  Bingo just needs some heavy duty anti-biotic to cure the cough he has had for the last several months.  The doctor says that Bingo's activity level will go up when the infection is gone.  Activity level?  This dog runs all day long unless he is inside.  If he had any more energy I could sell it to the electric company.  Now all I have to worry about is the trip to Megan's, the trip to Seattle, my mother's birthday, dealing with my sister in Seattle, my vacation on the ship with Megan, the money to buy the lot, the roller coaster stock market, and Bingo with my friends while I am gone.  And there are the Canadians who might still have me on their sex offender list (another story -- no I am not a sex offender).  No wonder I need my massage collar to release my neck muscles.

2011 August 20

Three days until I leave on my vacation.  I am cleaning house.  I have started packing.  Packing is slow as I must have the packed items indoors.   Indoors?  Many of my things could not tolerate the outdoors temperatures.  ANd with things everywhere while cleaning and the empty pop bottles, even the dog is complaining.

I saw the doctors this week.  Other than a slight heart valve deterioration (!?) the EKG was just fine.  THe GP says come back in 6 months.  When I leave here I stop at 57 to pay my electric bill and get a blood test.  I have some shopping left to do and then the trip and then the boat ride.  I hope the relaxation can start before the boat leaves the dock.

Maybe I am getting too old.  Maybe it is because I live alone.  Maybe.  The Republicans have totally sabotaged our American economy and they have so consistently and for so many years lied so much that people are blaming the President for not caving in totally.  He has caved in enough that  I wonder how a man can get to be President with no backbone.  I mean he is responding to the lies with excuses rather than exposing the lies for what they are.

And the CRA members have really gotten my goat.  It is difficult for me to not wish them ill.  Maybe they are Republicans.  I have been accused of so many things.  The latest seems to be outrage at this web page.  I say on my caveat on the first page and it is repeated elsewhere: if you disagree with what I have written, tell me what and where and I shall erase or alter it.  But no.  No one has come forward with a web page article and file name to which they disagree.  Rather they attack me verbally and physically.  What is wrong with these people?  The more I live in Mexico, the more I like Mexicans and the less I like Americans.  Today one of them came up to a fence and yelled at me and trotted off.  They were not interested in correcting anything -- she just wanted to yell.  Again, she must be a Republican.  Yelling and lying seems to be what they do best.

Me?  I have what I need.  I have good friends.  I have a good home.  I have a beautiful beach to walk on every morning.  I have neighbor children who smile at me.  Maybe these Americans will never have what I have and are envious.  More likely they are just Americans doing what Americans do.

Next: Vacation

JULY

2011 July 15

We took a trip to town yesterday.  I had many things to do that I had not completed on my previous visit.  First, CFE to pay the electric bill.    Chayo paid about half. A little more than I asked.  Second, to the vet to return a duplicate set of medicines.  Third, to Carl's Jr. to get some breakfast.  Fourth, a call to validate my 1st Bank of Yuma debit card.  Fifth, a visit to 1st Yuma to withdraw $500 towards my new lot.  The ATM ignored my card.  I guess the database update takes a while.  I stop at an abandoned parking lot for Bingo to take a walk.  He has been very patient but tells me that he needs some time outside.

Now I am on my way to Calexico.  Oops.  Before i started the trip my stomach was a bit queasy.  I went to the bathroom and also took an Imodium pill.  On trip days I always take one JIC.  I stopped at a couple of Pemex to go to the bathroom.  Mostly because my diuretic had kicked in but the stomach got worse and I needed the other too.  More Imodium pills.  So also the bathroom at the vet.  And at Carl's Jr.  Not enough.  Shortly after I entered I-8 everything let go.  Shit all over my shorts, underwear, leg, dog's water bowl.  A serious mess.  I would go home i the primary work was yet to come in Calexico and El Centro.  I stop at the rest area and clean myself up.  Good thing I have an extra set of clothes in the back.  Wrong.  Underwear.  T-shirt.  No shorts.  I use my wet wipes (yes, a brand new package under the seat for the last year) .  I use some of the dog's gallon of water to clean off.  This rest area has no running water so I clean up at the side of my car hoping no one can see me.  Or at least no police can see me.  The dog is good.  He wonders around in the shade.  Warm: 102 today.  Not hot.  The shorts are a problem.  These are unusable.  But, any port in a storm.  I use the tailgate pickup cover crenolations and scrub as much off as I can.  Not perfect.  Far from it.  But as much as I can with one gallon of water and no soap.  I am gathering flies.  In the car.  On me.  On the tailgate.  On my shorts.  I wring them out by hand.  I cannot afford to lose these so I hang them inside.  After a few miles it is obvious they will not dry.  I pull over to the side and with a spare piece of yellow rope (yes, I have many things for emergencies -- just no shorts) I string up my shorts across the inside tailgate.  My feet are burning up.  I cannot put on my socks.  They are covered with shit.  The shoes are almost clean.  I clean them up but I want them to dry before I put them on again.   Off to Calexico.

Calexico arrives and I stop at the Walmart.  A shady distant parking space.  I stink but I need to get at least a new pair of shorts.  I find the shorts.  I also buy some new underwear.  At this point I do not see people avoiding me so I get a few more things.  This WalMart is seriously under stocked.  I take what I can find, checkout and go back to the car to change clothes.

I know I still stink a little but at least it is only me and not my clothes.  I ask Angie in the doctor office for a letter stating that I am in good health for the cruise.  Megan has suggested such a letter may be necessary.  Today I do not feel in good enough shape for a cruise.  I am no feeling empty.  The stomach is OK now.  We head up to El Centro to the Costco.  Several things that I wanted are not here.  I pick up some other things.  Mostly juice.  Regular and zero-calorie.  Then to the Walmart.  No, skip the Walmart.  We are going back to Yuma.  I let the dog out of the car while I pack the Costco stuff.  I do not feel up to walking with him.  Bingo is disappointed.  so little tie outside and no walks at all.  He does not complain but gets back into the car somewhat reluctantly.

We arrive in Yuma about 5.  I am sort of hungry.  We stop at the WalMart.  I need to return some stuff.  First a dog collar that I bought earlier: too small.  They had no large like I had before -- in any color and I want blue.  Medium is too small.  Second a pair of USB 2.0 hubs that I had ordered online Site-to-Store.  I hate junk.  I know.  I bought cheap.  But USB technology has been around 10 years.  It should all work by now.  Especially since USB 3.0 is now available.  In any case these did not and they got returned.

Walmart had sent me an email to review these hubs.  There is no zero-star ability.  I said my piece in the review.  Hopefully someone else will not make the same mistake and buy them.  But since I have found that stores remove reviews that they do not like, I am sure that my review will never see daylight.  I was honest.  I was specific.  My language was middle class.  My grammar correct.

Then to the Wells Fargo ATM.  The card worked.  I got my money.  We headed for home.  No lunch.  No dinner.  I finally got hold of Liz on the phone.  She says not getting hold of her has been my fault.  I got home just in time to see Juanjo and Chayo leaving.  They said good bye.  Their dog had gotten into my kid candy.  It could have been worse.

I feed Bingo and go to bed.  This was not a good day.  It could have been worse.  Mostly I feel for Bingo.  He patiently traveled an entire day with no walks and few treats.  No beach or neighborhood walks.  None tomorrow either.

While raising my daughters, I always gave my best.  I worked so hard.  But I always felt that I came up short.  Maybe you know this feeling.  Maybe it is just a complex.  But then they have both spouted off at how I failed them so it is not just a complex.  That is history and cannot be repaired now if I spent the remainder of my life trying.  But now I am feeling the same failure with my dog.  Except my dog will never complain.  He just waits for the next treat and mentally retreats a little ways for a while.

My New Neighbors

I have mentioned them a few times since the end of April.  Juan Jose ("JuanJo") and Chayo.  A young couple.  She is a Mexican national who grew up in Colorado.  Her English and Spanish both are perfect.  He is a fisherman -- but by now there are no fish.  She is a bit fat but Mexican women look good with a little extra weight.  She has a beautiful smile and if she did not live with her boy friend I would fall in love with her.  But then she is only 23 and she is still looking forward to having a family (that means children).  I would accept inheriting children but would not produce any myself.

They have paid their share of the electric bill.  They like Bingo.  I could not ask for better neighbors.  Except for their dogs.  They have a chihuahua with mange.  Really bad.  Scabs.  But they went to the 57 vet, got a shot and some powder and it seems to be much better.  They have a pit bull puppy.  Spike.  Mexicans.  Either they have tiny dogs or they have macho dogs.  Nothing like Bingo.  Spike is destructive.  He has ruined my sandals (old ones).  He has demolished my candy bottle treats for the neighbor children.  My new shoes were attacked but survived -- just wet.  Bingo has scabs where he has been bitten.  Bingo needs to fight back.  I have seen him growl and snap but he needs more.

2011 July 1 - Start of Independence Day Holiday

The more I live in Mexico the more I learn to really hate Americans and why I shall never live there again.

This morning, the Friday before the Fourth of July, American Independence Day, I took my dog for his daily walk on the beach.  Really early to avoid any tourists.

The American tourists are gathering so I am somewhat careful.  Americans do not like the real concept of freedom.  To Americans, freedom means "How long is the leash?"

This question relates not just to my dog but to companies and their employees; to families; to anyone that are not themselves, such as aliens, legal or otherwise.

As we returned, the dog was walking ahead of me.  It has taken a year to get this to happen.  Both because of the abuse of his original, American owners, and the nature of his breed, he tends to want to walk and run behind me.  Normal for a pastoral, sheep-herding dog.  I like him n front where I can see him and make sure that no one else intentionally runs over my dog.  I have taught him to come or stay by hand signals from a long distance.  He can get to a long distance when I permit him since in most cases the beach is abandoned very early in the morning.

Today south of town was no exception.   A few clam hunters and a few early riser to tackle the lighthouse hill, "El Machorro".  The sea was calm. Very calm.  We returned from a good walk with Bingo venturing further from me than usual.  I encourage this since with my knees, walking with me is boring.  As he settled into the return, I decided to take him swimming.  He does not like to swim by himself.  In fact it has only been the last couple of weeks that he actually seems to enjoy a swim.

As I walked into the water, he followed me.  This is a really shallow sea.  I could go into the reason for this in a small book.  The bottom line is that after signing the Gadson Purchase treaty with Mexico, the United States of America, in its normal tradition, immediately violated the treaty.  The treaty requires that the Colorado River continue, unimpeded through the purchased territory into the Sea of Cortez.   There are now a series of dams resulting in a trickle of water entering México and this water is polluted with irrigation runoff chemicals.  Without the flow of water into the Sea of Cortez, the sea is filling in with beach sand.  The sea itself is now so shallow you can walk almost a quarter mile into the water before it is over your head.  I walked a hundred yards or so up to my waist with Bingo swimming slow circles around me.  He was proud of this as he would come close enough for me to pet his back.

His back?   Until a couple of weeks ago his fear kept him far enough way that I could not sink him.  Now he proudly swims in front of me knowing that I will touch him and not try to sink him.  In 16 months we have peeled away his fears like peeling an onion.  His original owners beat him badly enough to have broken bones.

As we got back to shore, Bingo now struts proudly back home in front of me.  I stayed at the water line longer than normal heading toward town.  This was to give him a little longer walk than the normal cut back to the park entrance.  The tide was out about 300 yards this morning.

Some young American tourists were not too far ahead, a couple hundred yards.  Bingo, as was his custom, ran up to about 20 feet from them and paused.  He pauses to ask the people he has met if they want him to proceed or to leave.  These 4 young Americans indicated for him to proceed.  As he came close to them, they befriended him, petted him, and stole his collar and tags.  Bingo does not think this is bad but I do.  I can walk with my walking stick in the sand.  I cannot run.  I cannot pursue these American thieves.  They look back knowing that even if I could catch up that they could beat me to a pulp.  Two young men and two young women.  Older than teenagers.

I return to the car with Bingo.  Some dogs are possessive of their collars.  Not Bingo.  His only experiences since meeting me are with Megan and with Mexicans.  He no longer understands the malevolence of Americans.  Stealing just to cause others pain.  This is just pure evil.   A new Collar is about $10.  A new ID tag about $5.  A new Rabies tag -- free from the vet.  If the thieves had a dog, it is unlikely that they would steal my collar.  Maybe they stole it to teach me a lesson: keep my dog on a leash.  But more probably they stole it just because they are Americans.

Bingo has been scratching lately so when we get home, I give him a bath using a dog shampoo claiming to help with skin problems.  I also need to do my laundry and my home machine is not working well.  So I return the two miles or so to the RV park with my laundry and Bingo.  Sans collar.  I have another collar but it has been used and is very dirty and I am afraid will contribute to the itching.  I am washing the collar with my clothes.  The first batch goes into the machine.  Bingo is trying to be brave.

The laundry is a half floor below the park level.  A ramp on one end and a set of steps on the other.  He is afraid of both the steps and the ramp.  He runs back and forth a few times and stops in the middle watching me load the washer.  I then walk to the ramp.  Not a chance.  I walk back to the steps.  He runs quickly down them.  And then back up the ramp and around and back down the steps.  He is always proud when he does something new.

The new collar will do until I can buy a replacement.  He needs an all nylon collar because even chrome steel chain collars rust and turn his neck fur orange.  This collar is nylon with a short chain section to permit a choke action when pulled.  This prevents the dog escaping awhile normally fairly loose on the dog's neck.  He cannot stay in the car waiting -- it will go over 110 degrees today and is getting there rapidly.

Ordinarily I would have left Bingo home but I had hoped to see the thieves from my car as we entered the beach area near the park.  If they were park members, I would have informed the gate guard but they were not.  I knew this already.  Except for one RV, the park is empty.  It has been empty all month except for a few weekend visitors.  More will arrive today.  Unlike other holidays, the 4th of July attracts only American tourists.  It attracts many street vendors.  The one RV belongs to a member normally gone by now except that he suffered a stroke early in the year and they are living in the park until he feels strong enough to leave.  I understand it was a serious stroke.

His RV is close behind the laundry.  I walked around the laundry when we arrived so as to possibly say hello if anyone were outside.  No one was.

My first load finished and I fished out Bingo's new collar.  After making sure that it was clean and somewhat dry.  Nylon dries fast, I installed the collar on Bingo.  I then went about moving the clothes to the dryer.  As I went to start a new batch, George drove up on his quad and informed me that I needed to put Bingo on his leash.  He claimed that Bingo had attacked his cats and otherwise was roaming free.  I informed him that was about to attach his leash but had not yet climbed up the ramp to get it as I was finishing this laundry setup before doing so.  I would stop and get the leash immediately to please him.  He said thank you and drove off.  Not a pleasant encounter but not that unpleasant.

The remainder of the time there Bingo lay quietly with his leash until we left.  Again, doing laundry is boring.  I would have left Bingo home except that I had hoped he would recognize the thieves as we entered the beach area.  I had seen that there were 4 of them but they were far enough ahead that I could only recognize their clothes.  He would happily greet them from the car if he saw them again.  I need new glasses and I need new knees.

As I prepared to leave the park, the gate guard approached and informed me that before George had accosted me, he had come to the gate and formally complained to the guard and the park manager that my dog was roaming free in the park.  Since others have perpetuated this lie, I have made sure that it has never been true.  At no time this morning while doing the laundry was Bingo more than 30 feet from me.  He would not have attacked anyone's cats although he might have wanted to  play with them.  If George, or anyone else, had accosted Bingo, he would have immediately fled to my side.  George's RV was on the blind side of the laundry room and so Bingo had looped the rim.  Roam the park?  Not a chance.  Bingo knows that he is not permitted in the park without a leash or not closely at my side.  When going for our walks, Bingo knows that when he jumps out of the car, he must immediately run out through the gate.  When returning he may not enter the gate before I do.  The car is parked next to the gate.  20 feet max from door to gate.

If George had come to me, I would have added the leash, as I did.  He did not need to report Bingo to anyone.  He has been with Bingo before when I visited him.  But since people are claiming Bingo roams the park even when I am not there and am with Bingo at home two miles away, George had the opportunity to validate this lie.

As I left, the Mexican gate guard told me not to worry.  I worry.

This is why I hate Americans.  A thieving, greedy, selfish, lying culture.  I could add bigot and a few more but there is no need.

You see, George had a stroke.  I have not had a stroke.  Strokes run in my family.  I have lived longer than my father or his mother without having a stroke.  If George keeps up his attitude, he will certainly have more strokes.  I live in Mexico where the culture is laid back.  I have a dog which studies show and my doctors agree helps reduce blood pressure and stress.  I take 6 medications and 5 to 10 supplements every day.  I have a monthly blood test.  I am alive because I live a calm life in a calm culture next to a calming sea.  I could be dead.  I could be like George.  I grew up in a life like that.  I fought the American greed complex all of my life.  My wife was angry that I gave things away rather than be possessed by them.

Today I am angry.  I left the park without drying my clothes.  They are drying on the line now.  I sat and talked with my neighbors for a while and discussed ghosts and the difference between American and Mexican currencies.  American paper money is the only money in the world designed to keep blind people from differentiating denominations.  The mud-spatter colors make little difference.  Mexican notes are bright colors and larger for larger denominations.  They have clear sections of different shapes for automatic readers and anti-counterfeiting.  American coins are a mixture of sizes preventing anyone from understanding them.  Quarters and dollars are close enough in size that Americans pass off dollars as if they were quarters.  The government claim is that changing tradition is costly -- unchanged at American citizen expense.

So here I am, calmly writing an email.  Wondering what I shall do for lunch and how long before I need to visit up north again.  Not before Wednesday.  Hopefully another week. The worst is yet to come from the American tourists.  I wonder how many Mexican children they will kill this weekend while Americans race their quads through our otherwise quiet little sand roads.  Usually they kill 3 or 4 children on American Independence Holiday.

Next: August

JUNE

On Fatherhood

I was listening to an old JAG episode.  The one with the ensigns getting married.  When the groom confronts his father about the abuse, the father replies: you always had food, clean clothes, and a roof over your head.  The ensign replied that he could have gotten these at an orphanage.  You know, I have heard this in support of my own father.  The ensign was so right.  The father was so very wrong.  Being a father starts way before food, clothes, and a roof.  Being a father means loving, holding, watching, listening, understanding, learning, teaching, and just about every other positive value verb that you can add.

A father can never be a mother.   I have learned this.  I had the opportunity to come as close as any man can.  When I woke up in the middle of the night, I listened for hard breathing.  During the day I planned the evening activities.  In the morning I helped the children prepare for their day as I left for work and they got ready for school.  I often visited their schools and knew not just their teachers but the school administrators and sometimes board members.  I tried to know friends.  I encouraged them to take risks and adventures while closely watching their backs.  I sat next to a phone while they were in the air going to some distant place.

I understood that problems were my fault and not theirs.  It is never the child's fault as I read one time in a book.

When I see this episode of JAG about an abusive father, I know that just because we have moved to a new century, that many parents (mothers and fathers) have not stepped up to the plate.  Please, if you do not want to be a good parent, do not have the child.  If you want a good school, be part of it.

Abuse

I was abused as a kid.  The only people who dispute this are my mother and sister (s?).  I have written about it often enough.  I knew a woman 20 years ago whose answer was: all of our generation were abused, live with it.  In some manner she was correct.  The famous Dr. Spock wrote the bible on child raising back in the forties and fifties.  His methods were certainly abusive.  Hugging and kissing your baby or child made them milksops (weak) and dependent.  Spanking was certainly in.  Today we are past Dr. Spock but there are many people who still believe in his teachings.  We call them abusive parents.

A friend of mine told me that he could not imagine what it does to a kid.  In fact, neither can I.  You learn the life that your parents present to you.  You can get older and see some of the problems.  But all of your life, you wear coffee-colored glasses.  The joy that you should have learned as a kid and can live in your heart as your grow older and wish to share with your children is not there.  For most of my life I believed that God had left a part of me out.  The part that can show and share happiness and love.  At this point, I suspect it was not God who left it out -- it was stole from me.

I can be happy now.  Something that I did not know I could do for most of my life.  But the coffee-colored glasses do not come off.  People say I am too trusting.  This would be a laugh if they were not so wrong.   I do not trust anyone.  I trust them with things.  I cannot trust them with love.  I have trouble trusting my dog with love.

My dog.  I write about him on his own page (Bingo).  But this is about me.  My dog loves me.  This is clear.  He loves me enough that I know he would gladly die to protect me.  If he senses danger to me, he is instantly in front of me.  He may growl if the danger is from another person or dog.  He sleeps next to me facing the door.  If it is cold, he actually climbs on the bed sleeps with his length against my leg.  He enjoys obeying commands.  This week I thought it was time for hand signals to become the norm since he is frequently long distances from me.  It took two tries and he had it down.  If I hold my hand out, palm down, he is to sit.  He knows this.  Now he will sit 200 yards away.  Obedience?  Intelligence?  Right on both counts.  But I know he loves me when I tell him it is OK to come to me.  He does this with such joy for having been able to do what was asked that he seems ready to explode in happiness.

He knows that I enjoy children so he enjoys them.  He gets a bit clumsy with toddlers but he tries.  He always asks before he approaches anyone or walks away from me.  He steps off in the direction that he wants to go, stops, turns his head, and waits.  If he does not hear a "no" from me, off he goes.

Special?  I should say so.  If you have about my experiences with Bingo, you read about how he was abused by his original owners.  When I first showed Bingo to my vet a year ago February, he told me that Bingo would be a problem.  15 months later and Bingo is a different animal  A harsh tone and he withers with a flash of his history.  The word "bad" and he is crawling at my feet.  For sure he does not want to be bad and will do anything to make up for anything for which he might be blamed.

The traces are still there.  I often wonder how complex the thinking of a dog can be.  I know he has the memories.  He has nightmares.  Not so often any more but they happen.  I can see from how I have needed to treat him things that I did wrong in raising my daughters.  I also have the experience of having done many things correctly that I can pass on to my dog.

But, as with me, there is the history.  There is always the doubt.  Sometimes in a quick moment, he will act out of fear.  Thankfully, he has never snapped at anyone.  If I am hurting him, he will gently place his mouth on my hand.  This happens when I brush the snarls out of his fur.  But I know he loves me because he is confident that his informing me will cause me to do the best I can to prevent his being hurt.  And he knows that he will get a treat when we are finished. 

Treats?  He is fussy about treats but when we are out, his reward is a nose kiss.  He will run up next to me and kiss the back of my leg when he thinks he has done something good.  If I think he has done something good, I hold out my hand and he gives me a nose kiss.  A touch carries so much love.  Dr. Spock babies never learned this love.  At least I got spanked only with the flat of a hand.  I knew kids who got a belt.  My father hugged me once just before he sent me off to a mental hospital.  My mother forgot once when I arrived at their home without warning.  She quickly backed off and shook hands with me.  If I had gotten past my childhood training I would have grabbed her and hugged her anyway -- but I had not.

In this respect, I hate the dog abusers but they have given me the opportunity to see up front and personal the damage that abuse causes.  SOrt of like a mirror.  Sort of like having the opportunity to raise my daughters.  I got to see what most fathers never bother to see.  But most fathers had something that I did not have: a good start.  How do I teach my daughters to love if ever ounce of love has been systematically drained from me when I was their ages?

Family Values

The United States is unique in many ways.  For one thing, other than the few remaining aborigines, almost everyone here has a history of less than 200 years.  Other cultures measure their history in thousands of years.  If the United States were interested in family values, it would welcome the new immigrants from Asia and South of the Border.  I see more love in the streets of my Mexican home on any one day that I can remember seeing in years in the USA.  I saw more love in the Asian families in San Jose than in east coast families.  As I wrote above, love is an elusive thing but you know it when you see it.  We should be emulating the foreign cultures that we see rather than trying to deport them.  And the Republican catch phrase of "Family Values" does not even come close.  The Republicans use code words to avoid telling you the truth.

2011 June 9

I went to town today.  It was a mediocre day.  I stopped at the pool supply for CRA to pick up a pool cover.  There was a minor issue with CRA credit but the real problem was that the cover was too big to fit in my Ranger.  Between the two, I skipped them, pick up my waiting package of pocket T-Shirts at my UPS box and stopped at Walmart and Sam's Club.  I lost my shopping list along the way.  Then off to El Centro for my diabetic eye exam.  first one in about 8 years.  No diabetic problems but a few minor cataracts.  I do not like cataracts.  Minor or otherwise.  I stopped at Apria but they told me that I was 2 days early to get Medicare to pay for a new mask and hoses.  I stopped at Lowe's to get the carriage bolts for my new wood frame for the back f the pickup.

Wood frame?  With Dido I needed a wood frame around the sides and back to prevent other dogs from jumping up and to reduce the paint scratches from Dido as he antagonized the other dogs.  Dido is gone but when the old frame flue off last month, I decided to replace it with a new frame.  I cannot use the tarp without something to which to attach it.  The tarp survived the flight.  I have anchored the 4 corner posts of the new frame.  The wood prices are so prohibitive that I used 3 1/2 inch wide in place of the 6 inch wide.  The old wood really was a bit too wide.  I want people to have difficulty seeing inside but not for the border guards to think I am hiding something.  $70 for 3 side pieces.    Then pine supports, cut to length, holes drilled.  Sanded.  Varnished.  Flat varnish or at least the current substitute.  Save a tree.  Use petroleum.  I shall finish them this week.  I want them in place for when I bring down the new washing machine.

But I forgot to find a bank and forgot to buy some flea powder for my friends. More CRA pipe joints.  Miscellaneous other things.  I did remember to get some bumper black, a Barbie doll and a new bottle of Cipro.

Bingo is a remarkable dog.  He would rather suffer the heat and waiting in the car than stay at home.  I cannot remember the last time I got out of a doctor's office in less than an hour.  The eye doctor was two hours.  It is hot enough that he cannot walk around in the sand or the city sidewalks.  I also forgot to look for doggie boots.

2011 June 14

You have not heard much about Calderon's fight against the drug lords lately.  I think this is because he has lowered the tone and not because he has slowed the fight.  I think the fight is on.  He will not win this one but he will give it the right start.  Drugs have been part of the Mexican culture for a century with the demand from the USA ever increasing.   With an ever increasing profit motive and an impoverished economy (thank you, GWB), a drug life has a sparkle to it for many Mexicans.

Calderon took this on from his first day in office.  People at all levels of government and police agencies have been assassinated, killed, or arrested.  GWB snubbed his nose at Calderon.  Obama appeared to be ignoring him.  Appearances were deceiving.  We learn that American drones (a la Afghanistan) make flights over Mexico.  We learn that American intelligence and police agents exist everywhere in Mexico.  Secretary of State Clinton and her entourage have met with Calderon.  You can be stopped by the American Border Patrol going into Mexico.  They are looking for money and arms.  Your picture is taken in both directions multiple times.  The license is recorded in data bases on both sides each time you cross.

I wondered why I got so many red lights on entry to Mexico.   My vehicle is not really suspicious.  The new wood frame does not hide much.  Or at least it won't when I have it installed.  I rarely have the tarp covering things.  I also always wondered why, when I entered, the green light takes a while but the red light is instant.  Why?  The green light means the computer is searching and updating its data base.  The red light means I am on a short list.  The more I cross, the faster it remembers.

But this is not about the extra security that you do not see.  This is about what I saw yesterday.  I have always thought the El Golfo was off of Calderon's map.  I think El Golfo is an important drug stop.  After all, we are a small village at the northern most tip of the Sea of Cortez.  Drug-laden boats come here, drugs unloaded onto trucks, and the trucks make the short drive north across the border.  Understand that I do not know any of the people involved and for me this is primarily rumor but there are many rumors and we know that the local police are corrupt.  This is a common joke and would be funny except that they take your money.

Yesterday.  I saw about 6 army trucks with soldiers lolling about town.  I have heard rumors about the army making night raids here.  Houses on the outskirts being raided with drugs and arms being found.  Rumors.  No more than this.  There are always rumors.  Some people are serious about the rumors.  But 6 army trucks with soldiers is not a rumor.  Late in the afternoon or early evening, airplanes flew overhead.  Helicopter rotors made the RV rumble.  This went on for a half hour or so and then it was again quiet.  Go outside and watch?  Not this guy.  Not in this lifetime.

If you live north of the border, you do not know how quiet quiet really is.  There is no distant highway roar.  There are no jet sounds from the local airport or flying overhead. There are no private planes out sightseeing.  You can hear children laughing from blocks away.  Dogs barking at strangers or strange dogs.  Many dogs barking yesterday evening.  And then it was quiet.  I might find out when I go to town today but I doubt it.  I asked my neighbor last night about the sounds.  He had paid no attention.  Really?  Fight on, Calderon, you are winning this one.  It will take many after you but you have made dent and started the cultural change.  There are many frightened Mexicans (and Americans) who are silently wishing you well.

Next: July

MAY

2011 May 28

Another trip up north a few days ago.  Nothing special.  Saw a doctor.  Have another doctor visit next week.  Almost weekly until August.  The dog still coughs and his 65-day medicine regimen ends next week.  Guess he gets more pills.  He is a good dog.  When he comes in, he sits next to me, raises his paw (his "please"), and waits for his pill.  Then he gets praise and treats.

We walked the beach today since we missed two days and I refuse to miss three.  Memorial Day weekend has started.  Lots of police.  New guard stations.  A few early-morning drunks.  The fish monger tiendas empty.  Not many tourists. Sad.  Maybe more will show up.  I was surprised Thursday when I returned from El Centro (I never made it to Yuma) that there was no toll booth on entry to El Golfo.

I met the owners of the lot I intend to buy.  My blood pressure is already rising.

Summer has arrived.  I finally got a return shipping label from the shoe company and the Birkenstocks went back.  Now I hope to see the Visa credit posted.  I need some new sandals.  The sand is now hot enough to burn your feet and I hate shoes -- they are too heavy.  The dog will spend more nights outside and more days inside.  I wonder if I can convince him to wear boots.

My boring life continues.  I like boring.

2011 May 19

Talk about a bad day.  I left home on time -- more or less.  At the border the Border Patrol gave me a hard time about my bags of bottles.  They are afraid I might make a profit from the bottles and I should go through the commercial gate.  They let my by this time.  Gracious of them.  I spent three hours compressing the bottles after making sure that all of the liquid was out.  I had 5 bags full this time.  Usually only three.  I take the bottles back to the California CRV station.  CRV?  This is the California replacement for recycling.  This is the "Pop Can Tax".  You pay several cents tax when you buy the bottle (full) and you get a portion of the tax refunded when you return the bottle (empty).  There is no profit!  Hear that Border Patrol: the money from bottles and cans returned to the center in California is a refund of taxes paid.  There is no profit.  In fact the bottles must have been bought in california and have the CRV letters on the printed label.  The station will reject other bottles and cans. So (Listening Border Patrol), even if I had a few Mexican bottles in my bags, the CRV agent would take them out and throw them into a separate container: gifts to the state.

And even if I were recycling these bottles, I get a higher price in Mexico than in the USA. And then again is three hours of my time worth the $17 tax refund.  I do not think so.  I am just being a good world citizen.  You learn to hate stupid.

But I get across the border and pick up my mail at the UPS station.  No time for any shopping.  I am already late and the dog gets a short walk in an open area as we take off for El Centro.  A half hour late for the doctor appointment but I call and they say it is OK.  They tell me on arrival that I needed to bring the CPAP equipment.  When I made the appointment (at their request), I was told I did not need the CPAP.  Now they tell me that I need it every time.  I can do that but I removed it from the car just for this trip as the car would be full on return.  Then they tell me that the appointment is unnecessary as I have already fulfilled Medicare/Apria requirements for insurance payment.  This makes the trip a waste.  But I talk with the nurse to that the insurance will pay for this visit.

Then I go to the cardiologist office for my second appointment.  I try to make two per visit.  This went off well.  I got the good PA.  She makes me with I were younger and that she were available.

On to the CRV station.  I hand over my bags of bottles. $17 dollars.  But I have diarrhea and my pants fill up while I wait for my money in the car.  As I drive away the $117 flies out the window.  It has already been a bad day for the wind but this just made it worse.  A good thing I had stopped for a hamburger in Yuma or there would be no food today.

No Walmart.  No stops.  Just the trip home.  Oh.  I had stopped at Costco to see if they had a washing machine.  They did and they also had a nice bathroom.  But diarrhea does not care that you already made one potty stop.  I had back south to the Mexicali East crossing.  I figure it is the safest to cross in my condition.  No.  I get a red light.  WOrse the woman guard cannot open the ice chest and wants me to do so.  I ask to to try again and she figures it out.  Maybe she smelled my problem.  There was nothing to declare so there is no money thing.

I get back to San Luis and take the "stinky corner" cutout as I always do.  A San Luis policeman stops me for speeding -- a mordida stop as I was not speeding and I saw him as I turned the corner and made sure I was going slow.  But he wanted his money.  No money and he writes me a ticket and I ride in his car to the central station.  He smells my problem and tells me that 300 pesos is his price for freedom.  Less than usual but I think he was surprised to find I had no dollars and I would soil his car if I got into it.  I made it back home with no further incident.  Things could have been worse.  I could have gotten the PA that I did not like.  I cold have had an accident and carried my smell around outside.    I lost more than the $17 to the wind and I could have been arrested for littering.  As it was, things were just bad whereas they could have been terrible.

May -- Early

I still have the laptop problem and I really do not want to spend the money but I could use the time onboard the cruse to get it configured.  If my current laptop works for two more months or I can get my big computer working. And It will need to be transported to the office to bet Windows updates and other software installed.

I have the washing machine problem.  I think I will use the park this week and see how it works out.  If it does not, I shall buy the Costco machine when I go to the doctor next week.

The dog needs more exercise.  Today he walked into the water and a crab bit his foot.  It really hurt.  He cried out.  He limped.  He whimpered.  He wanted me to make it better.  I checked it out and saw no damage.  No blood.  Nothing stuck in the paw.  We went back home.  He seems OK now but he acts like he has been a bad dog.  Maybe more of his abuse heritage. 

Making progress on the new lot.  They found an excuse to jack the price up from $14,500 to $15,000.  I let them know that I wanted assurance that the lot had been officially measured and staked and that the taxes were paid to date.  They did not even know that they had been responsible for taxes.  They do now.  They know a notary (lawyer) in Mexicali that we can use for the transaction.  Now we have to make sure that they pay the notary for the contracts and we are back to the base price again.

This will happen by the August cruise I hope.  Then I can have the lot prepared while on the cruise and move the RV quickly after I get back.  I need this to be secret or I may have problems with Beto.  More problems that it.

There is a guy renting the house now.  A nice guy.  Not too bright.  He left the combo lock open and someone closed it for him -- after changing the combination.  You get used to stupid down here but it still hurts.  Why would someone invite such a prank?  He could have just closed the lock without chaining the gate.  I do this and only lock the gate while I am gone.  Bingo could do a better job of being a watch dog.

Someone sent me an email saying that they dated Mary Ann at UWM.  I did not remember that she went there.  I thought she only went to Oshkosh or Steven's Point.  But she could have switched after I left and went to Detroit.  She could have been there while I attended Madison and only visited UWM.  She could have been there while I worked there but then she would have had to lie as she and I talked on the phone a couple of times and she gave no indication of being able to meet.  Well, maybe not lie but at least more deceit.  The head nun at her high school had warned me about her but when in love...  If this guy did date Mary Ann, he lost out.  She got stuck on her high school boy friend that went to GMI in Flint before she ever left high school.  Any one else was just for amusement.  I learned that the hard way.  It is curious that I got this email on Mary Ann's birthday (May 16: Happy BIrthday MA wherever your are)

In any case, that is history.  I sometimes wonder about my history.  I have lived a long time.  The first 45 years were hell on earth.  The last 20 have been great.  Oh.  There are ups and downs as you know if you have read this.  But I live in a great place.  I could use a little more money but I have enough.  That reminds me of MA again.  I had always said that I would have enough money to get by.  No more.  No less.  MA (and Janne) wanted to be rich.  That conversation was never a winner but as it turned out, what I said 50 years ago has come to be.  And as it turns out I think I came out ahead -- so far.

And I belong to Escapees.  If my health gets really bad, I can move to Texas and the Escapees park assisted living is better than anywhere else (you must live in Texas but then hell is worse, maybe).

Off to Alaska

Oh.  I mentioned a cruise.  Megan and I are going on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska at the end of August.  First to wish my mother a happy birthday and then off to Alaska.  This is our second cruise.  I am not sure this is better.  The first was a three-day cruise from LA to Ensenada. Not much.  Mostly a gambling and drinking expedition.  Since I did neither the trip was boring.  Really boring.  I think my kids enjoyed it and that is why we did it.  A cruise ship so small that it had one deck on the outside.  We were on the E or F floor.  The bottom floor and below sea level.  The only lower floor was for employees.  The good side was that we could comfortably roll ourselves to sleep whereas the people on the upper floors got sea sick.  And the ocean was calm.  The Admiral Cruise Lines SS Azure Seas.  Last I knew it was working out of Miami.  This cruise is on the Princess Golden Princess ship.  A small city all by itself.  Even the pictures of the ship are foreboding, forbidding, scary.

There are many concerns here.  One is the dog.  I really enjoy traveling with my dog.  This will be a lng trek.  First to Megan's at 750 miles.  Then another 850 to Seattle.  If I were to take the dog the entire trip, I think Megan would be unhappy.  If I were to leave him home, I would not enjoy the trip to Megan's house.  If I took the dog the entire trip, I would need to find an instant dog motel in Seattle.  I found a nice dog hotel near Megan.

If I left him home, I could leave him at the vet.  The price is right but Bingo would not see the outdoors for two weeks and his only exercise would be a human walking machine: a tread mill.  If I leave him on the lot, I need to worry about the renter caring for him.  Andrea would feed him and maybe give him some love but I cannot trust anyone else to even keep the gate closed.  It is a couple of months.  Maybe the new tenant will show better colors than I expect.

In any case, Alaska here we come.  We shall be a few days late for my mother's birthday and even then have only hours to spend with her.  This is not bad as we can keep other involvement to a minimum.  I am not anxious to spend time with anyone other than my mother.

Laundry TIme

Time flies when you are having fun.  My washing machine has sort  of died with a whimper: the agitator goes in slow motion and nothing gets clean.  There are choices.  I can go to the RV park and wash my clothes.  I can buy another used machine.  I can buy a new one in Mexicali.  I can buy a new one in El Centro at Costco.

Each choice has its downside.  The park then requires a special trip weekly to do laundry and maybe wait for someone else or hurry to get out of someone's way.  Buying another used machine puts me into the roulette game -- and I mostly lose on roulette.  I can buy a new one in Mexicali: they are overpriced (Walmart) compared to similar models in the USA.  I can buy a new one at Costco.  They have a great machine at a great price.  But then I need to pay duty when I cross the border.  That adds another 25% to the price.  I am not sure that the 25% increase is a better bargain than the Mexicali machine.  Trying to cross the border without paying duty is unlikely and you pay a higher percentage if you attempt to not declare a large purchase.

My laptop (HP) is dying.  Three times now the hard drive has been corrupted.  Once so bad that it said to reinstall Windows because it could not boot.  I am taking daily backups.  Another $1,000 out the Windows -- and I just paid for and installed and registered a new copy of Microsoft Office.  I also just bought Windows 7 for my other machine and I have discovered that I am afraid of my other machine or it would be working by now.  First off I have to install the new video card, IDE card, network and adapter.  OEM   Then I instal Windows 7 (it is after all an OEM machine).  But this only after I have registered at the Microsoft OEM web page to get an installation kit.

Using Raul's Internet connection is painful as it is so very slow.  I also need to leave the dog at home (I miss my dog) and work in Raul's office.

CRA

This article removed due to controversy.

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Next: June

 

2011 APRIL

Trip to Patterson

I leave for Megan's with one couple still on the lot from Beto's party weekend.  They seem nice enough but I worry.  The trip to see Megan is uneventful.  I really enjoy traveling with Bingo.  I pick up another 20 golf balls at the park near her house.  We plan for a cruise to Alaska.  I have never been there.  Neither has Megan.  I hope that I have no problems with Canada.  I worry about their "Sex Offender" list.  I should not be on it but computers have a long memory and I never really believed that they removed my name from their list as they said.

2011 April 25

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men ...  I was expecting to be at Megan's house by now.  I was to leave Saturday morning and arrive about 8 at night.  But Beto showed up during the night on Friday.  Nothing broken and he was much more polite.  I think Marisol yelled at him.  I cannot leave while he is here or I will return to find at least the gate open.  He and his clan do not like/respect locks or gates.  He was going to leave on Sunday morning.  And in fact, he did.  He has the most beautiful, slim, Mexicana, girl friend.  He lives with her on the US side while he works in the fields.  She has a nice, bilingual daughter who translates for them as necessary.  The girl friend has three sisters.  One showed up -- Beto said only she was coming and they would be gone on Sunday.  I expected to leave on Monday.  Then the others showed up.  It is his lot.  However many he wants is up to him -- but I like to know as it changes my plans.  Call ahead?  "No telephone".  Sunday comes and it seems some are staying until Monday afternoon.  It seems someone has family here in town.  So now I am planning to leave on Tuesday morning -- but that may change.

They will not even close the gate.  Neighbor dogs upon seeing the gates open, rush in and carry off anything they think is valuable: food, toys, trash bags.  The people are nice.  Just not too bright by American standards.  But I need to do my final laundry before I go.  I reconnect the hose to the washing machine.  The hose is the only water on that side of the lot.  I start the laundry.  This takes a long time as the water pressure is low (the Oomapas, water company, system is overloaded) -- the washing machine takes a half hour to load.  Right in the middle one of them disconnects the hose and rinses his car.  They are always rinsing their cars to remove the salt scum.  I should do that but I don't.  The washing machine had managed to get to the low water level to start even though I had a very full load.  The guy had pushed the button for "low" making the water stop before disconnecting the hose.  Now my clothes are grinding away.  I go out, inform him that he can have the hose -- after the laundry is finished.  He leaves -- he does not understand the problem.

I love the Mexican culture: gracious and family-oriented..  But there is a serious problem.  I am not sure how to say this but the word that comes to mind is "stupid".  Maybe he does not know to push/pull the cycle button for on and off.  He could have waited.  He could have asked.  But the Mexican "macho" tells him to do what he wants -- nothing else is important.

They throw trash everywhere.  The streets and highways are lined with plastic bags and bottles.  They recycle the cans so those are gone.  Going barefoot is dangerous because of the chunks of broken bottles.  When they all leave, the house will be spotless but the yard will be littered with paper, plastic, and glass.  They expect it to magically disappear.  That I should pick it up because I do not want a trashed yard is beyond them.  That I do not like my locks or my gates broken is beyond them.

Here is my theory.  The Mexican men learn "macho" from childbirth.  Macho means showing disrespect for anyone and anything that gets in the way of their appearance of sexual prowess or freedom.  This especially means disrespect for anything or anybody that will not hurt them back.  The Mexican women learn to take care of their men.  They leave school early either because they are pregnant or because they do not want to have a better education than their man.  The society is therefore somewhat maternal and seriously under-educated.  The women manage the socal culture while the men go around being macho.  For us gringos this is at best disconcerting.  Expecting a Mexican man to show social responsibility is a lost cause and cannot even be explained to a Mexican.  Mexican women consider part of their job to retrain their men as best that they can.  This becomes a negotiated middle ground.  Mexican women are always cleaning the house, the office, clothes, etc.  Men wash their cars.  Big cars.  Pickups with four wheel drive, lots of lights, extra loud, and heavy suspension to heighten the car above its neighbors.  I still have not figured out the reason for the little blue lights by the windshield wiper swivels.  They look like eyes at night.  Enough.

I walked up the hill across the street on Sunday morning for the dog's morning walk but was delayed by my neighbor, Jose.  Nice guy.  Always working on his house.  He showed me his latest find: a Coral snake.  Dead  About 13 inches long.  I have not seen one of these in a few years -- but they are out there along with the spiders, scorpions, and rattle snakes.  I see their trails in the sand.  Along with the rabbit and coyote prints.

This is a problem for me.  I walk everywhere barefoot.  This means I walk on the desert in the hills around his house and further.  I watch for glass in town.  I watch for scorpions and rattle snakes in the desert.  And glass.  And thorns or thistles.  The dog is adept at removing spines from his paws.  But with a Coral snake there is no second chance.  Rattle snake venom attacks your blood system -- you have most of a day to get to the doctor.  Coral venom attacks your nervous system -- you have a few minutes and ae unlikely to use them.  The Coral snake is very small and is silent.  The reason more people do not die from them is that they have small teeth -- unlike their rattle cousins which have retracting hollow fangs which can puncture clothing and shoes.

My Birkenstocks

I ordered some Birkenstock sandals last month.  They arrived. One and one half inches too long.  I followed the web site size instructions carefully as I did not remember the size of my old ones.  The new sandals go back.  The company refunds rather than exchange since I used Paypal.  I do not understand the logic here but apparently Paypal orders cannot be exchanged.  I do not like Paypal for other reasons.  Not the least of which is that charging with them is trouble.  They make you wade through a couple of extra web pages to use a charge card.  They want to directly siphon from your checking account.  Why not -- more profit for them.

Since turnaround takes about 6 weeks, I need to order or buy sandals from somewhere else considering my Coral snake neighbors.

Coral Snakes And King Snakes And the Sonora Shovel-Nosed Snake

They are very different.  King snakes have no venom.  Coral snake venom is serious: "Red on Yellow can kill a fellow".  The coloring is different.  A Coral snake is basically yellow with alternating red and black bands separating the yellow.  Bright and pretty.  A king snake is basically red with black bands with yellow bands centered within the black.   Not as brightly colored and the yellow never extends to the red.

But there is a difference that I see in the snake books.  The books claim that you can distinguish the Coral snake by his black head.  Lots of pictures of Coral snakes with black heads.  King snakes with red heads.  The local snakes have yellow heads.  According to the Coral/King snake literature this snake does not exist.  Coral or King?  Which do we have?  Coral marking but a yellow head.  It sounds like a Canadian highway.  I think it is a Coral snake.  I am not about to test its venom on my foot to find out.

Note: I have scoured the Internet and found a good page that apparently resolves my dilemma.  Some Coral snakes have yellow heads.  No king snakes do.  But there is a third option: the Sonoran Shovel-Nosed snake.  It has the markings of a coral snake except is somewhat more pale and the color bands do not extend to the underbelly.  This is cream-colored. Hurray.   This is my snake -- harmless and it eats insects.  We have delicious local insects: scorpions.  May all of our skinny shovel-nosed snakes get fat.

I just passed my birthday and I would like to live long enough to get past the next one.

2011 April 15

Mentally I committed to the move.  It will take three to four months -- after I decide on the location.  There is a AMerican federal limit of $10,000 crossing the border.  A couple of thousand each trip would get me what I need in a couple of months.  I need to get the price down.  The $20,000 lot is now down to $15,000.  Maybe I can get it to $12,000. I think so.  Then I need to educate myself on the legal alternatives.  I am told that I can indeed own a lot, title and all.  But for this I need to be a resident.  This means trading in my tourist visa (FM-T) for a resident alien visa (FM-2).  I understand that to do this I need local plates for my car.  For local plates I need to have the car nationalized.  About $1,500.  I am not sure that I wish to do this.  Having the 30 year contract does not sound all that bad to me.  My daughter would not want to inherit a Mexican home with an expiring lease.

Preparation includes mental and physical.  Thinking of the in town lot.  The dog is permitted to wonder here on occasion.  This will never happen at the new lot as there is too much traffic.  It may be gentler traffic but people here consider a dog a nuisance. There are a large number of dogs limping on three legs while dragging the fourth. Fast enough to be hurt but not fast enough to get clear.  But the park and the beach are closer.  There is no hill to climb just outside the front gate.  But there is also less likelihood of Valley Fever.

The lot has a fence but this needs to be replaced -- not this year although it will immediately need a new gate.  The lot needs to be prepped a little -- it is not flat although it is flat under the ramada.  There are some trees.  Undernourished.  There needs to be an RV 30-Amp electric box added to the meter tower.  There needs to be a shed for the washing machine and refrigerator.  Concrete floor.  Water pipe across the lot.  Septic tank.

These can start as soon as I own the lot.  In addition, bricks from here can be installed on the new lot.  No concrete tracks for the RV but 4 concrete squares for the jacks to level and stabilize the RV.  Then bricks under and around the RV and the drive entrance for the car.  The car's ramada can be moved early.

The intent is to have everything prepped so that the entire real move can be done in one day.  This means that everything is ready for the RV while I am still living in it here.  When the move comes, the RV goes, the fence comes down, and whatever else I can claim to be mine goes -- all the same day.  I may not be able to keep from Beto that I am moving but I hope to keep the nature of the move a secret.  I also do not want to move and find that I am living in a temporary situation.  I can always move into the CRA park for a couple of weeks if push comes to shove.

I have encountered malicious land lords in my past lives.  I can expect that after the move that BEto will come and destroy something of value to me thinking rationalizing that it is owed to him but in fact just satisfying his need to destroy things.

Otherwise I am prepping to visit Megan next week.  We leave on the 23rd for about 10 days.

I have gotten my desktop computer running in a basic mode.  I need to upgrade to WIndows 7 from XP and to buy more memory.  I need to install some cards that I already have: IDE, Video, etc.  For a short time I need to keep it portable so that I can convey it to the RV park to get driver updates.  Once settled, I figure that I only need that my laptop be protected against viruses, etc.  If I move to the new lot, some day I can get a land line telephone with DSL and connect them both to the Internet.

And all of this counts on my maintaining a high growth rate on my IRA.  Last year I grew 39%,  So far this year I am maintaining 10% but then I already withdrew $26,000 to pay off the car and RV loans.  If the American economy takes a serious downturn -- and I think it will later this year -- I could be in trouble.  Companies are calling their high interest bonds.  This means I have an increasing amount of cash in the account.  This is not all bad considering that I need cash for the new lot.  The problem is similar to the beach home: there are no more high interest bonds and so for the long term my IRA cannot provide the growth that I need.  This means that I need to have a better head on my shoulders for making investments that profit in a down market.  So far I have done well in this area but I expect it has been due mostly to luck.  And retirement accounts should be bond-heavy and stock-light.  Mine is growing too stock-heavy.  I also need to lose some stocks and find some mutual funds that survive a bad economy.

2011 April 12

I feel very weak today.  Lots of aches and pains.  Our walk on the beach is so short that the dog wonders if it really counts as a walk.  On a different issue, I have a new problem.

I have been told that Beto, the owner of the lot, wants to sell it for $20,000.  I would have offered $10,000 and felt I was generous.  Surprise, lot prices in town have been escalating.  .No wonder there is the invasion north of me.

Invasion?  Every couple of years a group of people invade a new area and stake out lots.  If they occupy a lot for 3 months, they have squatters rights.  They can obtain a "letter of occupancy" from the town delegate.  For $3,000 more they can get a clear title.  Well, almost clear.  If someone else already owns the lot, and has a title, they must contest the new ownership in court.  Maybe they win, maybe they lose.  Interesting laws.  In any case a couple of years ago several hundred lots were staked out.  Many are now vacant: the new owners have gone back home and want to sell their new lot.  More and more lots are getting town water (Oomapas).  None have electricity.  Yet.  Wait another year.

But.  The existing town lots have soared in price in the last ten years from $3,000 to $20,000.  And the price goes up to $50,000.  The locals cannot afford these prices but then they do not need to. It is the poor residents who are selling their lots for the money  We are being invaded by richer people from out of town.

I remember years ago when my sister was able to sell her lot on the Hawaiian beach for an unbelievable amount of money.  She declined.  When there are no more beach lots, it does not matter for how much money you sold your lot, you now have now home on the beach.  The problem is sort of like that here.  The people are selling their lots but they will never own another lot.  On the other hand when someone wants to leave or they die and the relatives have no need for another lot, the money really helps.  Then there are the new lots and other lots on the town boundaries that someone stakes out and waits for the town to grow.

I have no faith in Beto for anything.  He has no respect for anybody else or their property.  Especially no respect for women.  He is also mostly drunk.  I know he can get that price for this lot but not from me.  I have offered to buy it.  He has turned me down.  I shall need time to prepare for the move.  I also need a new lot.  This time with a contract, etc.

I have approached several people.  The cost will be about $20,000 and this is a price only being offered  to me as a friend.  I can lease a lot for $1,000 per year.  This lot is only a couple of blocks from the beach.  This I shall turn down.  It has too much traffic although I do like the beach access.  One escape of Bingo and I would need a new dog.  The other thing is that I am not sure I trust the lot owner and the lease is for only 5 years although it may be extendable.

Jorge/Andrea has shown me a nice lot for $20,000 and they may be able to get a lower price.  It is the Mexican land ownership thing: only Mexicans can own the property. I need to find a friendly Mexican to buy the land (with my money) and then sign a lease with him for 30 years.  I can do this with a bank but I owe them an annual lease fee and they can cancel the lease.

There is an advantage for the lot owner to be my friend.  When I die or leave the lot or the lease expires, the property owner reclaims the lot.  This means that when I die, my friend gets a free home.  Maybe for his children or even himself if still young enough.  I am 67 now (later this month).  Thirty years from now makes me 97.  I doubt that I shall live that long and if I do it is unlikely that I can live here in Mexico by myself.

In this 30 years, I need to build a new little house as it is unlikely that the RV will last 30 more years.

Manuel at the RV park has offered me a lot for $14,000.  It is a beautiful lot.  Especially if you like living on top of the world.  It is at the very top of the third row of hills from the beach.  It is on the far side of the road so that the people on the lot on the beach side get an unobstructed 180 degree view.  But other than having to look at them,  I view the entire sea.  It is downhill in all directions.  The north end of the lot already has a steep down slope.  A row of old tires should help that until I can get concrete in place.

The lot is virgin and needs serious work to make it livable.  Electricity is simply a matter of buying a meter pole, planting it, and contracting with the electric company.  There is a power pole across the street so that the connection cost is minimal.  I do wonder if the people who paid to have the pole installed will try to bill me for half.

I need to contract with the water company to install a meter and a water line to the lot.  The others have water but I do not know if the have an "official" line.  They may just pay for the meter at the bottom of the hill and have their own pipes to the top.  Cheaper but then the entire line is your personal responsibility.

I need to build a septic tank.   I need to have a fence installed.  Bingo will not need a fence as there is no traffic.  But I need a fence to keep out the bad people and the coyotes.  This is real desert here folks.

After water, electricity, septic, and a fence, I need the lot prepped for the RV.  Getting the RV to the lot is a serious issue.  Not only is the road soft but it is a serious grade.   The Ford RV transmission has never liked hills and may need help by being towed up this hill.  There is a nice wind at the top and so I shall not need a ramada to protect me from the sun (I hope not anyway).

The downside of this lot is that I am almost isolated from the world.  A couple of neighbors but even fewer than here and very many fewer children.  Five years from now there might be neighbors but they would probably be the rich people.  Many neighbors at the bottom of the hill.  The lack of neighbors could be a real downside with my increasing concern of my health and the fear that no one would know if I had a stroke or coronary.  And the dog is more likely to extend his Valley Fever or become dinner for the local fauna.

What a dilemma.  I can get a beautiful lot with a view of the sea or I can get a lot with too many neighbors and have to drive to the beach.  The price is about the same but the downtown lot is already conditioned and has all of the utilities.  They tell me that I can even get a phone.  That means I can get DSL for the Internet.  Set up my own Wi-Fi hotspot for the local teenagers.  It does need a new fence and it has a sturdy ramada to protect me from the sun and summer heat.  I shall need to lock my doors as central El Golfo does have more problems with property walking during the night.

Just in writing this my thoughts have moved from preferring the hilltop to preferring the in town lot.

But there may be additional choices coming quickly.  I have let the word out that I am seeking a new home.  I do not need to make the decision quickly.  And after the decision, I need to get the money and then prop myself and the lot.  I would expect to move about August.  The lots on the hill in front of me look good but getting the RV up this hill would be very difficult.  The hill is steeper and all of the roads are too soft for the RV.

And the last time I planned to move my blood pressure rose so high that I canceled the move.  When I do move, it will be quick as I do not want to deal with Beto during the move.

Next: May

 

MARCH

1 March -- Start of a New Month

March already.  One sixth of the year already gone and heading for a quarter.  Many things this month -- including the first day of Spring.

Dog

I brushed the dog got and gave him his heart worm pill.  This is pill critical because it discourages mange -- mange is rampant in town.  Mange is a mite.

My dog amazes me.  I have his bowl with some food croquetas and a few left over treat pieces and the heart medicine cut into pieces about the same size as a croqueta.  He is able to select out the heart worm pieces one at a time from all of the other pieces in his bowl.  Since he cannot see into the bowl, he must have amazing senses of smell and taste.  He is also able to isolate the chunks of chewable medicine -- which he also does not voluntarily eat.

Medicare and Sleep Apnea

I had my "Sleep Study" for sleep apnea last week.  I get the results when I go to El Centro tomorrow..  CPAP-Supply tells me that Medicare will require me to rent a unit for a year and then buy it.  Medicare's expense but it is stupid since I have been using a CPAP machine for ten years.  Many people cannot handle a CPAP and so I understand the rental concept. But I already know I need the thing and the rental sequence costs about $1500 and then pay the purchase price.  The same unit from CPAP-Supply costs $400 -- including the mask and hose.   From the local supplier about $1,200.  The medicare thing will costs about $2,500 instead of $400.  I think I may skip Medicare but if I do, then the rental thing repeats the next time.  I need to check with United Healthcare and Medicare to see if the rental is covered at 100%.

No More "Gringo"

For the last couple of years the local kids have called me "Gringo".  This is fine with me since I am a Gringo and Mexicans have trouble saying "Chuck".  It comes out as Jock or Yuch.  A couple of days ago the local kids lined up in front of me.  The older girl told me each of their names and ended with hers, Madeline.  She then repeated my name, "Chuck". -- pronounced correctly.  They want to call me by my real name as they consider "Gringo" not respectful.  I suggested that Gringo was just fine.  So now they call me "Mexicano". 

No More Loans

I delved into my IRA and paid off the Ford Ranger and RV loans. About $24,000 total.  About $27,000 with the IRS withholding.  This leaves me about $4,000 more for the entire year.  $2,400 after the additional withholding. -- about $200 per month.  This along with the $1,000 per month Social Security should cover my expenses.  Next year I shall be rich with an average of $3000 per month total.  For the first time since I retired I should be able to live like I intended.  10 more months.  I have no more need to pay the $1100 per year insurance for the RV.  The bank required this insurance.  The problem is that although the insurance covers short trips into Mexico, it does not cover living in Mexico and the RV has not been driven for 5 years.

Candy, Milk, Eggs, and Fish

Every month I buy lollipops and gummy candies for the local kids.  About $25 per month total for the candies.  I occasionally buy extra milk.  Milk costs $2.25 per gallon at Walmart.  Milk costs about a dollar a quart in El Golfo.  I pass out several gallons each month.  Maybe another $12.  I also rarely buy a few cartons of eggs.  I sell these for what they cost and maybe give away a couple if no one wants to buy my extra cartons.  Maybe this costs me about $8 per month. For less than $50 per month I obtain amazing things.  I get all of the fresh fish that I can eat.  My RV gets cleaned when I leave.  My RV and the lot are watched by neighbors to make sure I am not robbed.  If I need anything in El Golfo, I probably do not need to pay for it.

The blood lab faxes my results at no charge to the RV park which skips its normal fax charge.  A neighbor woman cooks my fish.  Breaded with no salt.

Health

My health is deteriorating.  Last year I walked the beach 3 miles twice a day except days that I left town and the following day.  Now I am lucky to walk the beach once a day with another walk around the block.  The dog needs two walks a day.  This is built into his metabolism by heredity.  I give him the two walks to maintain my coronary health.  The problem is that the walks have become shorter and a real effort.  Today my abdomen aches so much that it is excruciating just to stand up.  But we walked -- after I did the laundry.

I do not know what to do.  I see my doctors.  I follow their directions.  I take my medicine -- all 10 pills every day.  I need more diuretics.  They tell me that I have no kidney problems but I think that they are wrong.  I have "heart failure".  This means that my heart does not provide enough pressure to force the blood through my kidneys so that the blood is cleansed of fluids.  The diuretics kick the kidneys.  They do not kick the heart.

I think that the walks should circulate the blood.  These are strenuous walks.  I walk barefoot to exercise my foot muscles (I also hate shoes).  Oh! Why do I hate shoes?  My feet change shape -- they expand from the fluids.

My WARFarin does its job: my blood does not clot.  My diabetes is not well controlled.  My numbers are too high.  I am working on this.  No more apple pies.  No more Costco products.  Even their dried fruit has added sugar ar the second ingredient.  A box of salt has sugar as the third ingredient.  I buy only Kosher salt -- and my current box has lasted 8 years.

I do not know.  I still believe that my mother shall outlive me.  I get so tired that I wonder why my heart keeps on going.  The cardiologist says that the x-rays indicate that my heart is nice and small.  Smaller is better.  A large heart means a relaxed and fat heart muscle.  The urologist says that my prostate is small.  This is also good. Same reasoning.

I know I need more exercise but these walks are my limit.  I should spend more time cleaning and repairing but they do not happen for the same reason: it hurts to stand up.  I wish the dog had the "Ball Gene" as an acquaintance calls it.  Some dogs live for their ball (Dido).  Some dogs have no idea what to do with a ball (Bingo).  Bingo has no idea what to do with any toy.  He likes squeakers but will not play fetch and tires of just making them squeak.

Next: April

 

FEBRUARY

8 February -- Planning to see Megan

Today  I get ready for the trip north to see Megan for her birthday.  I have promised money toward a new computer for her.  I have promised myself more regular trips to visit her.

Last week we went to San Luis to update Bingo's shots.  I will have had him a year on Megan's birthday.  It was really cold.  It got down to 29 degrees one night.  I caught a cold.  My knee went out.  I called Megan to warn her that I might not be able to come.  This week  is better: it was actually hot yesterday.  I still sniffle.  My knee is back to normal.

Now I collect things that I have set aside for Megan.  I pack my backpack. I clean up the RV.  My friends will clean it while I am gone.  Yesterday I got stuck in the sand.  First time in many months.  Locals helped me out.  We desperately need some serious rain to put our streets back in order.

And my beloved Ford Ranger.  The guy who wrote the owner's guide never drove one of his cars.  The car gets stuck in the sand on our streets.  Maybe it is the light bed on a long vehicle.  I do not know but the darn thing gets stuck in the sand anywhere.  My Michelin tires in back help.  The original equipment Continentals would get stuck anywhere.  The guide says to never deflate the tires and to just spin yourself into oblivion.  You can spin yourself down to the frame and then some in a few seconds .  Once the frame is in the sand, you need to be towed.

You learn very fast to stop trying as soon as the tires spin at all.  Rock a few times lightly but when you feel the back end sink, stop trying.  Hope is lost.  Get out of the car.  Deflate the tires down to 15 pounds.  Pray for nice neighbors.  And try it again.  Yesterday two kids and two adults pushed and I was out quickly.  I only had a 10 peso coin for the kids.  In general you want to be pushed backwards back to where you came.  And you want a dollar for each helper.

Today I buy more pesos for my Telcel phone.  Buy gas for the trip.  Put air back in my tires.  I also need to buy some new valve caps.  Rubber.  The pretty steel caps had corroded onto the stem.  We needed two sets of pliers to get them off.  One pliers for the cap.  One pliers for the rubber valve stem which rotated before the corroded cap released.  A neighbor supplied the second set -- I only carry one set of pliers.

Tomorrow will be very busy.  I have three stops in 57 before I get to the border.  I have five stops in Yuma.  I have six stops in El Centro.  And then I get to the trip north.  One stop in Los Angeles for gas.  If I am lucky, I arrive at Megan's at about 9 pm.

Next: March

JANUARY

20 January -- Blame Anybody Else

Maybe this paragraph belongs elsewhere but I am putting it here because I am angry.  I am angry about many things today. Some times it just builds up.  I have Sirius Radio.  I listen to the political talk shows.  The ones on the left make me angry enough that I would not even consider listening to the poison from the right wing shows.  Really. I wonder have they have the nerve to espouse such lies and worse I am afraid that they believe their own vitriol.  And I live near Arizona where the verbal poison just gone some poor people killed.

But all that aside what irritates me the most is hearing about how other cultures raise better children.  We have a serious problem in this country.  We are coasting off of our parents and grandparents.  Lazy.  We need to get off our duffs and start taking parenting seriously.  My sister argues that having two professional people in the family pays unfair taxes.  Sorry guys.  Any formulated tax structures is unfair to someone.  Ours just put a heavy burden on those people who when married earn a lot of money.   My sister has two inelegant (comes in our gene pool) children who are becoming successful professionals themselves.  I cannot use her for a bad example.

Here is the problem.  Our schools have historically taught our children to think  Outside of Texas this is how to think and not what to think.  This has been the bottom line.  I have worked with engineers from all over the world.  You know my low opinion of "German Engineering".  Asians teach regimented skill sets without analysis.  This can get them genius scores on some tests.  It can make them able to do wonderful things.  If the Chinese schools taught them to think,  they would have a different government system.  In fact that is the generic problem of any dogmatic education system.  Catholic schools.  Islamic schools.  Teaching dogma is antithetical to thinking.

And thinking is what our schools taught best.  At least before we had a stupid Texan for President.  But all of this is beside the point.  I have two daughters.  I am very proud of them  They came from a good gene pool so I had an advantage.  I was very liberal and very strict at the same time

I participated in the school life.  At least once per week in grade school I sat down for lunch with them and their friends..  I knew their teachers.  I met them at lunch.  I went to conferences.  I visited their classrooms.  When there was a problem, we discussed it.

When a teacher marked my older daughter down for counting on her fingers, I demonstrated to the teacher that this was not a crutch but my daughter's arithmetic skills were so advanced that she had the flexibility with her finger counting to perform arithmetic years in advance of what was being taught.  No more mark downs.  When my left-handed other daughter was being taught to write "crab" handed, I visited the teacher and showed her how to teach left-handers properly.  I learned crab handed and it ruined my penmanship forever.  When my daughter had a conflict with her chorus teacher, I attended a meeting with all of her teachers and a school administrator.  The chorus teacher claimed that my daughter was disruptive and disobedient.  In the meeting all of the teachers agreed that the chorus teacher was in error.  Sadly, my daughter dropped chorus as the teacher refused to back down even when everyone in the room disagreed with her.  Sad loss to the students who wanted to learn to sing.

The list goes on forever.  I could write a book on just their experiences in making their world a better place by improving on their own education.  When my International Baccalaureate student felt the school was not supportive of her needs, she went to the local City College for better classes.  When these were not sufficient, she went to the local State University.  My older daughter just skipped her senior year and went straight to university.

Was I a slave driver? Did I force study hours on them?  Did I make them get good grades or be punished? Did they get rewards for good grades?  No to all of these.  They were latch key kids from first grade on.

There were some very strict rules about after school.  Because their mother, my ex-wife was dangerous and would kidnap them,  there were times I needed a babysitter.  My ex-wife was disruptive.  She would make parent-teacher conferences and not show up.  That is history and her actions seriously injured my daughters emotionally and in at least one case, physically.  my daughters were required to call me when they got home and knew if I did not get their call that I left the office and was on my way to find them.

They went directly home from school and did their homework, maybe watching TV.  Maybe squabbling.  They were both exemplary role models in their schools.  One daughter's counselor at a high school to which she had just entered told me that my daughter had become quickly the moral leader in the school.  I know that she assisted in retrieving a few of her friends who had run away.

So. I have already written a book just to show my bona fides.  There are a few simple rules for making sure that your children get well educated -- even when the school shows little interest.  With one exception all of my daughters' schools showed interest although sometimes misdirected.

One thing and only one thing makes the difference.  Family values.  Not those espoused by the Republicans.  Not those espoused by the anti-abortioists.  It is the love for each other and the pride of knowing that your family is the best it can be (Sorry Army).

I have learned even more from my dog.  When I walk my dog, he struts proudly knowing that I love him and am proud of him.  I see it in his walk with his tail waving as a flag saying: "Here I am.  Look at me."  The same was true of my daughters.  When they knew they were right, they knew I would be behind them supporting them.  They were not afraid of people just because they were in authority or were bigger than they were.  Like the man said: "Be sure you are right and then go ahead".  They could make waves.  They could think.  They could plan.  They could lead.

I enjoy seeing the car bumper stickers saying "My child was ... at the ... School".  I enjoy seeing these as I never had any of them to deal with.  These stickers are to instill the pride that the student did not get at home.  Amateurs.  My kids were permanent professional model students -- not just the student of the month.

The love and pride did not stop at school.  We went camping.  They learned to live under different experiences.  Different environments.  Different responsibilities.  Different expectations.  No!  The same expectations: we are all in this together and we share the work and the rewards.  Allowance was not a reward.  Its removal was not a threat.  Other campers complimented my daughters.

In fact punishment was rarely an issue.  As such, when it was an issue, it was a serious issue.

I would often give my daughters problems to solve.  Some problems were easy: mispronounce a word and expect to be corrected. Maybe an arithmetic problem that had an unexpected answer because of how the problem was worded.  Some were really hard.  We are in Santa Barbara.  We want to get to Featherly Park in Riverside.  Here is the map.  Here are the two points.  It is rush hour and we need to get there before the campground is full.  If a freeway gets congested, tell me where we can turn to a different one and keep on the same path. Adults would just throw the map in my face.  My daughter got us there with time to spare.  If we had been late, it would have been my fault.  We had a good day at Disneyland the next day.

You want to have the best education for your children?  I have covered all of it above.  The details might change.  You want good schools?  I cheated here.  My home was in the best school district and nearest the best school in that district.  You can get this information from your district.  But after being at the best school, what makes it the best?  Not the PTA although that helps.  I did not leave for work expecting my daughters to leave for school and then be back together in the evening.  I was part of their school.  I said it above: I visited their schools.  I knew their teachers.  I knew their friends.

The most important day of the year was not a birthday or a holiday.  The most important day each year was when I waited on the first day of school for the year outside the school with my daughter; waiting for the new teacher to invite the class inside.  The pride I felt knowing that my daughter was about to impress some new teacher lasted even until today.

There might have been smarter students.  A few.  But none had the confidence that they were about to absorb any available knowledge.  Even in first and second grades my older daughter would be assigned other students to assist.  In middle school she got class credit for this.

My younger daughter was attending three schools: high school, city college, state university -- all at the same time.  She was also active in at least four outside activities including swim team and mock trials.   Against everything I had said while they were younger: I bought her a car.  No more pink tardy slips because the San Jose mass transit system does not keep schedules.

Much to the dismay of the state driving test person, Megan passed the test the first time even showing some initiative in avoiding a situation the tester had directed her into.  A few months later, my daughter had an accident on the freeway.  I could not have been more proud of her.  When I got home from work, she showed me the damage to the car as she explained what had happened.  Changing lanes too fast but even the other driver told me that she did what she needed to do to avoid a worse collision.  Proud?  She did not call me crying at the scene of the accident.  She handled the situation better than you expect from any 16-year-old.  Hide the damage and wait for someone to call me?  No.  She told me about it when I arrived.  Did I yell and holler? How do you yell and holler when what you feel is pride?  No one was hurt.  Just sheet metal.  How did she have the confidence to do this?  She learned it over her 16 years of knowing that she came first.  Everything else is just charade.

You want the best education for your child?  It starts before the child is born.  Your child knows that they are first full time.  My job is to earn money and support my family.  I guess that order is reversed.  The child's job is to grow up to become who they want to be and they have the tools to get there.  I always told my daughters that education is a tool and not an end.  The purpose of going to school is to acquire the tools to be able to make the choices that you want to be able to make as you get older.   WIthout a good education, your life choices are very limited.  With a good education, the world is open to you.  My daughters heard this mantra in kindergarten.

I had two rules and they were repeated frequently.  Rule number One:  Be Happy.  You can only have dreams of a great life when you start with today's dream.  Rule number Two: Like yourself.  In our world this was sometimes really hard.  It can be hard to keep these rules when the world around you hurts.  When people who should love you, are hurting you.  When you need to make choices that should not need to be made by a child.   When you know your father is wrong but you do it anyway and hope he learns better soon.

I could keep on writing.  I hope I have proved my point.  It takes love and pride.  It takes participation at every level from birth through the entire life of your child.  It means worrying to make you child's school life is the best it can be.  Choose the best school and work with the teachers and administrators to make sure your child gets the most possible out of the experience.

You can get lost in the details.  You can blame the school.  You can have excuses but the bottom line is simple: your child will be the mirror of your love and pride.   And they deserve all of the love and pride you can give them.  You accepted the job of parent.  Do it.

19 January -- Dogs

My dog is very precious to me for many reasons.  I give him care and medicine.  He returns with love and affection and hopes that maybe, just maybe, I shall take him for another walk today.  There are far too many dogs here in El Golfo.  Many have owners.  Many are just neighborhood dogs.   When my dog walks with me, his tail goes up like a proud flag and he struts.  Interesting gait.  It is sort of like he is pedaling an invisible bicycle.  After, I let him out to play with his friends.  Short periods.  He always returns in a few minutes-- I leave the gate open for him.

There are no other fenced dogs: only Bingo.  Some dogs are kept on a chain.  The dogs are territorial: they know how far they want to roam from their homes.  Some one lot.  Some one block.  Each his own.  Mexicans could care less about their dogs.  Once a year the San Luis Animal Control comes down and carts off strays.  Too many strays still wonder the streets.  The neutering clinic comes down occasionally.

This year, mange is a problem.  There are a number of pink dogs.  Mange is a microscopic insect that irritates the skin of its host animal.  The dog loses its fur and the skin showing through is pink.  It must hurt as these animals become isolated and look increasingly miserable.

Every week or so the coyotes attempt to come over the hill into the flat land residential area.  Many lots on the other side of the hill have no water and maybe even no electricity and are somewhat scattered.  The coyotes are getting desperate as they fight the local dogs more and more attempting to claim this side of the hill for their own.  As they come over the local dogs set off a barking storm.  My dog howls.  The coyotes may have come so close as to be on the other side of my fence.  Mostly the dogs beat them back  by sheer numbers and noise.

Last night was different.  Frightening.  I heard the death yelps, yips, and then weak cries as the coyotes killed some of the dogs.  Sad.  I am not sure what you do to keep the coyotes at bay.  If the dogs cannot do it, then what?  Good fences make good neighbors?

18 January -- My Trip to Yuma

I need a blood test for my urologist and I left El Centro last week before I could get one.  It was late.  I was tired.  So today we go to Yuma to get the blood test and complete the shopping that I did not get finished in El Centro.  At least to buy some more Diet Pepsi.  I promised Marysol plastic bags.  When I get to her house I find she has bronchitis.  The cure for this is Amoxcil but I cannot buy it any more.  The Mexico Department of Health has finally listened to its doctors and banned anti-biotics for sale over the counter.  You need a prescription.  why?  Too much abuse of the drug has caused to many bacteria to become immune to anti-biotics.  TV on both sides of the border are encouraging wellness without anti-biotics.  It is about time.

I leave and cross the border.  With the Sentri pass and with professional border guards (not the grumpy old men), I cross without incident.  Bingo already knows that stops for him will be limited.  The one stop we made for him was by his determination, too short.  We stop at Carl's JR. for a couple of chicken sandwiches.  He likes these.  I think the meal treats on our trips are the only reason he tolerates them.  I mail one letter to Kathie and one to Thousand Trails.  Two negative letters in one week.  The one to Kathie simply explains that I will not again be involved with tax arguments, her trips, her guilt trips, etc.  I really had to tone it down and cut it down to one page.  The Thousand Trails was to cancel my contract.  They have Las Vegas style bookkeeping.  They bill one amount and charge my credit card more.  The annual fee increases should have stopped when I turned 65.  The increase was $65 this year: 15% and I feared paying even monthly as they might again overcharge my credit card or consider my check insufficient and ask for more.

The line at the blood lab was over a half hour.  I went to a different blood lab.  Another  half hour wait.  I went shopping.  Chloro tabs for the CRA park.  Pick up my mail.  Walgreen's for test strips.  Another long line and a couple hour wait.  We went to Sam's Club and took a nice walk.  We had already made a couple of short walks but this was enough to make him happy.  I got what I needed at Sam's and left the optional items behind.  I left at 8:00 and it was now 2:00 and I was tired.

We returned to the first blood lab: there was no line.  Down to a different Walgreen's.  The prescription would be ready tomorrow.  I told the man I was crossing the border going home in an hour.  He said to return in 20 minutes but come inside as I might has to sign for the strips.  He was right.  In the interim I did my WalMart shopping.  Again the optional items were skipped.   I bought the ice I forgot at Sam's.   Interesting.  This is the first time that milk at Sam's cost less than at WalMart.  I think so anyway -- I bought it at Sam's and did not bother to check the price at WalMart.  I sincerely doubt that the price of milk went down at WalMart. The local price of $2.18 for whole milk is meant to lure Mexican customers into the store..

With the necessary shopping done, we headed for the border.  I bought a couple of the Little Caesar's ready-made pizzas.  I needed a nickel.  The guy rang it up short.  I like the Mexican culture.  The Arizona Gringos would have complained when I made them cash a $20 bill just to get the exact amount.  We got a green light at the border and no one flagged me down.  Surprise.  Happy surprise.  I have come to expect the inspections.

I called Marysol.  No answer.  By the time I got to her house she had texted me: one more hour at the doctor.  I gave Betito a bottle of apple juice and some bacon.  Marysol had asked for them.  She always texts me for something.

I drive back home.  No events.  Good.  I am tired.  I pass out 4 gallons of milk to my neighbors.  I give one pizza to another neighbor.  One of the neighbors with milk gives me some fish.  A lot of fish.  More fish than I normally eat in a year.

While at the blood lab I mention something about greed and the lab tech sadly agrees.  To be more positive I tell her than I am glad that some people are not greedy.  My interaction with my sister comes to mind.

But now the man who gave me the fish.  Normally I refuse the fish but after several months of getting milk and his daughters receiving candy, he feels out of exchange: I agree to a fish.  I got more than a fish.  He must have felt seriously out of exchange and i am glad that I gave him the opportunity to repay me for the milks.

This ends my day.  Tomorrow I go to CRA with the Chloro tabs and a chamois for one of the employees.  And I put away my groceries.  It is cool at night and the ice chest has lots of ice.  Everything will do fine.

But I am home.  I am with people who truly care and are not greedy.  It is hard to be greedy when you do not have enough to eat.  The five little kids running to their mother with the pizza were the happiest kids you ever saw.  I like it when they walk away with one piece of candy and do not beg for more.  The joy when they see the pizza is astonishing.  I hope they did not damage it too much as they ran into their house to show their mother.

These interactions leave me feeling good whereas when I left this morning I was still angry from my phone call with my sister.  I just have to keep reminding myself: they are irrelevant.  They have no concept of string less friendship.  People wonder why I like living in Mexico.  I like the people.

It is not just my family.  Arizona is still celebrating the murder of 9 people and the near killing of a Congresswoman.  I say celebrating because they claim it was a lone madman with mental problems who did this.  If the state did not have so much hatred and anger, the lone man would have had no foundation for his actions.  These people can hide all they want.  the blood is still on their hands.

To prove my point, because of this incident and its national attention, the Arizona legislature is passing even more liberal gun laws.  They even propose one permitting a person to display a weapon as an act of self-defense.  They want guns in schools, businesses, Congress itself.  There is another proposed law making it illegal to ban guns even on private property.  Today at a middle school two children were injured because a boy had a pistol in his backpack which fired when he accidentally dropped the pack.   I like it better here.  No guns. No anger.  Let us all live in peace.

It is time to go to bed while I am still feeling good about today and realize that I live on a peaceful island.  My island is surrounded by crazy people.  Tomorrow I shall ask someone to cook a fish for me.

13 January -- I Lost a day

I made a mess of it but it all worked out OK.  This morning I woke up thinking tomorrow was Thursday and I had a day to prepare for my doctor visits in El Centro.  The clock read 11:15.  Thursday. OK. The first appointment is at 1:15.  California time.  I have 3 hours to get there.  No problem if I hurry.  I take a quick shower, dress, get the dog, get out the gate, latch it and I am off.  Except the car clock says it is 12:25.  My house is already on California time.  I have but 2 hours to get to El Centro.  If I hurry and everything goes right I can still make it.  Close.

I get to El Doctor.  The soldiers discover my flash lights.  They want to buy one.  There was no line and I thought getting through would be fast.  I sell them the flash light then they want to buy the ice chest.  They like my trick lock.  15 minutes and I am off again.  Still I can make the time but even in a hurry I shall be a little late.  I'll call when I get to Calexico.  I miss my turn off the highway when I get to Mexicali.  The next turn costs me an extra 5 to 10 minutes.  Late.  and I have to cross the border.

The Sentri lane in Mexicali is empty.  Great.  I am not in San Luis so the guard checks my pass and sends me through.  Exactly the way it should be -- except I am late.  It is already 1:15 and I am a half hour away.  As soon as I can get a T-Mobile signal I call.  No problem.

I get to the doctor office.  I know the address -- it is the same as my orthopedic doctor.  Next suite over.  I apologize and fill out the papers.  No need to apologize they say as I am early.  Wrong doctor.  I rush out to the other doctor office -- only I do not know where it is.  A mailman gives me directions and off I go again.  45 minutes late but no problem.  6 pages of papers.  Two interviews.  Set the overnight sleep test appointment for two weeks and I go back to the first office.  Exactly on time.

At the sleep doctor's office I discover something new.  I knew my heart stops when I sleep.  The monitor last year by the cardiologist verified this.  Not missing a beat like when young as for my daughter and sister.  It stops for a few seconds and then starts again.  During the day I miss occasionally but when sleeping it stops and starts occasionally. Not enough for a pacemaker.  Yet.  They have suggested it.

The new information is that my breathing also stops.  I know this.  Sometimes my breathing stops and i have to remember to start breathing again.  The reminder is not gentle.  Brains set off alarms when things stop.  I just tell myself to breathe and keep on trucking.  Except that the nurse tells me that this is not normal.  Maybe it is the reason I sometimes wake up with such a head ache.  Brains take quick exception to lack of oxygen in the blood.  If my brain did not forget to tell me to breathe maybe it would not need to remind me.  In any case this is the reason for the upcoming overnight test.

I feel OK.  The nurse is concerned that I live alone but knows that good medical care care is available.  100 miles away.  Airplane?  Not a chance.  The ambulance drives fast.  $50 to San Luis.  She wants to meet my dog.

We stop at the chicken restaurant, pick up some fajitas and go to the Costco park area.  Bingo has been in the car all day.  A few minutes after the first doctor office for a pee on the tree but that is it.  Now he gets to run and run and run.  He does not even bother to eat.  Just run.  I eat.  The fajitas are really good.  I buy a few groceries at Costco and we start back home.  I forgot about Marisol.  I promised to visit her on the way up.  I'll call when I get back into Mexico.

It is 6 o'clock and already dark as I leave the Costco store.   I call my sister to wish her a happy birthday (tomorrow).  The usual.  The argument about how rich people pay too much taxes.  Sorry.  I don't buy it.  I pay 20%.  They don't.  Then we get to her birthday party.  My mother would be so happy and I am "flush".  I wonder why I bother.  How do I get emergency medical help on an 8 hour airplane flight?  My car is always ready for an emergency trip to the hospital.  Everything from medicine and blankets to my passport and papers in the door pocket.  Extra gas.  My friends know how to cross the border fast.  I am told that the only thing I am lacking is a defibrillator but then if I had one of those who would use it?  If I need it, I cannot apply it to myself.

When I deal with my biological family, it is always the pressure to do what they want.  The implication is that I am selfish.  More than an implication -- the word has been used.  Even my ex-wife knows that selfish is not in the list of my derogates.  And she has a long list.  I guess my arrival in Hawaii dead would be better than not arriving at all.  Maybe my health is not that bad.  Why find out?  Why do my friends check on me every day?  Why do I start getting frantic calls if I do not answer my phone when the messages arrive?  The real reason to not go to Hawaii is obvious:  I do not like Hawaii and I frown on any plans made without my input for any travel anywhere.

The Mexican border light goes green.  Surprise.  When there is no line I expect a red light.  Keep the inspectors busy.  Why not -- that is their job.  But the guy at the front of the revision area flags me and flash lights start blinking at me.  I tell Kathie I must leave and silently thank the border guard.   President Obama gave a great non-political speech in Tucson last night.  The airwaves are full of the fact that he could be so nonpolitical in a a place and situation that is the direct result of the anger fomented by his opponents.  This anger has resulted in someone acting on their rhetoric and killing 9 people with many others wounded.  I called to wish a happy birthday and know that my family has no concept of nonpolitical even when I bring up the President's speech.  9 years ago I said no to Hawaii.  There is no reason to discuss it or the "marriage penalty".  Waiting for me: Marisol and the border guard.

 I pull over and wait for the inspector to arrive.  The dog jumps out and luckily is intimidated to get back in.  My other dog would have run in front of the passing traffic and have been quickly killed.  Bingo is a good dog.  He just needs to get a chance to run and there have been few of those today.  The woman guard arrives and asks about my Spanish.  Good enough for government work.  An American inspector would have been angry that I made them walk the 100 meters to where I pulled over.  But I cannot back up in the traffic area and I pulled over at the first available stopping point.  No. She checks my pickup bed.  Flashes the back seat and also checks out the dog.   She knows I have more than the permitted $75 but not so much as to be a scofflaw.  She apologizes for the inspection and the inconvenience.  I thank her for doing her job and take off again.  Would I ever meet such a professional guard on the American side?  I should live so long.

Kathie?  After this call, the next may be next January.  Marisol?  The phone battery is dead.  I put it on the charger.  Yes: I have one always right on the dash ready for a phone.  One charger ready for each phone brand.  Three phones.  Prepared.  I get through the Mexicali traffic.  I have gone through the east gate and the major city is west of me but what little there is is a maze of lights and street vendors.  The woman I always ask to marry me is not on her corner.  Second time.  I guess she is gone forever.  There are several places to start heading east and I usually take the worst one.  Tonight I am lucky and make it to the best one but that means several extra traffic lights and a few shopping malls.  But I  make it and am on my way to San Luis.

The phone is charged and I apologize to Marisol.  I feel sort of guilty as I do so from San Luis and could  visit her except that I am really tired and it is already late.  We head on back to El Golfo.  No stops for the dog.  He is a good dog.  We get home and he gets to run for a while as I fill his food bowl and know my groceries will last the night in the ice chest.

I get to bed, sleep for a few hours and then get up to let the dog back out and to write this.  I do not know why I bother to be nice.   I always end up being upset.  And I do not detail my health concerns to people who could not care less.  Oh well.  All is well that ends well.  I shall go to San Luis net week, pick up what I missed shopping this trip and visit Marisol.

Next month this time I shall be visiting Megan and have much to do before then.  I need to update some clocks and calendars.  I wonder if the breathing problem means a new type of respirator.  Probably.  The urologist says I have Irritable Bladder Syndrome.  Everything has a name.

8 January -- Sentri and San Luis

I have one of the Sentri passes that permit me to bypass the long waiting lines to cross the border.  Sentri defines me as a "trusted" traveler.  This means that they check my pass, check the windshield sticker, peruse my car and send me on my way.  They still have the computer screen with more information than I wish they had but what are the choices?  But.  Even the Sentri lane in San Luis is sometimes controlled by nasty and vicious old men who think that people who leave the country and return are in some way traitors that have not yet been caught.  Most of the San Luis teams, as at other crossings,  understand that "trusted" means that mostly I shall not be cross-examined and my vehicle torn apart for inspections.  But San Luis is known to have the nastiest crossing guards along the border.  Sometimes these old men are at the Sentri lane.

A couple of weeks ago there they were.  They informed me that I was violating the privilege.  That I should arrive with an empty pickup bed as they claimed would have been the case when I was originally inspected.  They did not like my collection of items on the top of my dash.  They were determined to make an issue of it.  But after castigating me for abusing my pass, they permitted me to go through with the warning I had best not encounter them again.

Let me make it perfectly clear. I had exactly the same items as were there on the original inspection.  I can name them.  A large white ice chest.  An 18" cubicle cloth roller chest filled with water bottles.  A white, translucent bin containing emergency equipment.    A bag of empty plastic bottles for California tax refund.  An extra car battery.  Two red bottles of gasoline, cabled and locked.  A large blue basket to keep junk from floating around.  A bottle of Windex.

Each item has a reason.  The large ice chest is for returning home with gallons of milk and groceries requiring ice.  It is empty traveling north into the USA.  The smaller cloth chest has bottles of water for emergencies and for my dog.  The white bin contains flares, cables, cords, etc. for giving road assistance.  It also contains some items for my dog: leashes, etc.  The plastic bottles are just recycle things: all American and .none Mexican.  Been there. Done that.  The gasoline is obvious: gas station are sometimes few and far between and I travel at night.  Windex should not be a problem.  The extra car battery is for when I sleep in the car and need to power my CPAP respirator.

There is a reason for each item in the back and they are easily examined by looking into the bed.  Oh.  The battery was not originally there but one morning with  a dead car battery is sufficient.

The items on the dash panel are obvious: Passport and papers.  I have cell phones, sets of glasses, a DC/AC inverter, a small box containing headsets, a toothbrush, etc.  A Mexican flag.  Why atop the dash?  Ask anyone who travels in Mexico.  Unlike the San Luis Border people, the Mexicans take inspections seriously.  By putting all my small items where they can be seen, none will disappear at the drug stops and the soldiers or police will not waste their time sorting through paraphernalia.  In other words, I come prepared for an inspection.  Nothing questionable.  Nothing hidden.  By the time I get to the border I have been checked for drugs and other contraband as many as 4 times.

Any Border problems with the San Luis old man squad is purely of their making.  I carry nothing illegal.  I declare what I am bring across.   I have my Sentri pass in hand.  I have my passport and dog papers on the dash.  A quick check of the bed will discover all of my stuff -- not locked except for the gas.

I say emergencies.  In Mexico road assistance is not available.  You wait for the next friendly driver.  I have had to do so a few times.  This is the desert.  The climate, flora, and fauna are all your enemies.  The emergency supplies are (hopefully) not for me.  They are to help other people.

By the way, most of the teams at the San Luis Sentri gate are professional and polite, as were the original inspectors in interviewers.  On occasion a couple nasty old men escape from the regular entry lines and get to the Sentri lines.  Avoiding the nasty guards at the San Luis crossing is sufficient reason to obtain the Sentri pass.

Next: February

Summary

Summary

Written:  2011          Updated: September 9, 2011         Back To Top