Thursday, March 31, 2011

Had My Laptop Repaired

Sorry but I've been off line for a week.  My laptop froze up and I couldn't get it running.  It limped along for awhile but finally gave up.  I have been working all week from 8 to 6 and today I work  in the afternoon.  I have been evaluating teachers in the public school program.  I have heard just about all there is to hear as I evaluated over 200 teachers.  It has been a bit depressing because all everyone wants to talk about are the problems with public safety and the bad guys.

But now I'm back and will be posting again.  First off, I spent the night in Monterrey.  We sat out on the porch and had a couple of drinks.  It is strange to be in a cluster of homes.  It is a nice place, centrally located and as I have said before it is a gated community so everything is well controlled and the rules are abided by.  Kids were playing, the neighbors had friends over for dinner on their terrace and next door the teenagers were smokin' cigs and talking.  Wow, I'm not used to all the activity and noise.  Here at home it is so quiet all day and night.  I can come home and never see a soul if I choose.

This morning I got up to go downstairs and get the coffee.  The neighborhood is situated on top of a hill that overlooks most of Monterrey.  As I was coming down the steps at 6 a.m. I could see the lights of the city.  At the moment I was reminded of an old song by Melanie:

When I was young I lived in the country
Clouds were my friends, I cannot answer why
And now that I've grown I live in the city
And heaven is so far, I cannot reach the sky

Ted asked a question about the ULSD list I once had available on the blog.  I don't remember how I attached the list but it was a software program that allowed me to show the Pdf file that Pemex sent me.  You can send me an email to the address at the top and I can forward the list.  The list I have is over a year old but still valid.  I am waiting for a response from Pemex for a new list.

Now for the LED bulbs that Phil asked about in the photo of our remodeled bedroom.  I have pics of the following:

The lamp on the left has the new LED bulb and the right the old spot type.

We use these bulbs in the trailer for the table lamps.  They give off the equivalent of 60W but only use 7W.  A real savings for the batteries.  A bit pricey at 23 dollars but they are supposed to last 11 years.  The spots we use here at home are over 4 years old and keep running and only use 1W.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Can't Believe Obaman Said That

That he actually said that the U.S. should reduce illegal drug use.  Reduce? Reduce?  I think Mr. President it is more like "STOP" illegal drug use.  I know that is not realistic, but it should be the goal.  All I can say is, "thanks for helping us Obama".   

On to other things.  I have been pretty quiet this week only because I have been finishing up the remodeling of the bedrooms.  Never again will I own a cement block home with plaster walls.  Although it looks nice, it is a mess to contend with.   The workers will only do so much in terms of cleaning.  I asked one of the workers if he was married and he asked me why I was asking him.  I said it was obvious because he didn't know how to use a mop.

I'm a bit of a clean freak so I have spent this week cleaning dust from cement and plaster, paint splatter off tile floors and more.  Today I hung pictures, curtains and replaced switch plates.  Here are the almost final results.  

I think we have the insurance issue settled for the travel trailer.   So, this may be the weekend to take it out for an overnighter.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Holiday Today

We are enjoying a three day weekend here in Mexico.  Today is Benito Juarez' birthday.  Benito was president of Mexico from 1858 to 1864 and was succeeded by Maximiliano.   On this day we also celebrate the beginning of Spring.

Over the weekend we had our family birthday party.  This time we had it in a small warehouse that is attached to Adrian's dental clinic.  He has a laboratory that makes dental pieces and also teaches dentistry at the university.  

It was a bit different because we set the time for 5 p.m. forgetting that there was a soccer game at the same time.  So most people showed up after 7 p.m.  Boy, we can't miss a game, that's for sure.   The food poured in as everyone brought a covered dish.  We made cortidillo de res, cilantro macaroni salad and I baked a cake from scratch.  I told the girls last month that they should learn to bake and cook from scratch.  They laughed at me so I decided I would set the example.  I made a $100,000 chocolate cake with a very rich and creamy cream cheese chocolate icing.   

The birthday boys and my homemade cake in the middle.

The food was great and to top it all off some of the kids put together a show.  This whole thing is going right where I had planned.  If you remember, we started this with a traditional "posada" at Christmas to incorporate the kids into the party.  Before the kids were on one side or inside playing with the internet and the adults outside smoking and drinking.  Now it looks like that is all changing and now the kids have a role in the process.  

Next month I can't wait to see what happens.   I have challenged the boys this time to "do one better" than the show the girls did.   Let the competition begin.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What An Attitude

I've been watching the news today about the tragedy in Japan.  The most interesting part of all this is the nuclear reactors and the possible meltdown and escape of radioactive materials.  I am watching CNN and an expert, Jim Walsh from MIT,  says he is amazed that the Japanese are not giving out more information for global experts to analyze and he can't believe what he is or is not hearing.  Wow, I guess our memory is short.  Let's go back to Three Mile Island.  The U.S. government was long on disseminating information to the media and the world.  

We just can't let go of criticism and ownership of all the world's problems.  You would think with all the mess the U.S. is in right now, they would not only be more understanding but also less critical of other countries and governments.  

The U.S. is one of many great countries but it has an attitude problem. 

However, the Japanese not only provide a wonderful example, but are also exercising tremendous control over looting and their show of patience while forming long and endless lines.   In the Americas, well let's just say, Katrina was an example of culture and how not to manage a major disaster.

I may sound critical, but now that I am an outsider, I can understand why so many people don't like us. 


Thieves!  I deplore them.  I keep my watch over people like a hawk and yet they still got me.  I was had and I didn't even know it.

When they installed the ceilings, I made it a point to sit in the living room watching them the two days they were here.  I never left the house.  This is a small, one story house and I had a bird's eye view of what they were doing.

In the spare bedroom we have a computer table with the old laptop, printer, answering machine, modem and router.  I covered the whole mess with a sheet and moved the table from one bedroom to the next so that I had access to the internet to entertain me while the workers were here.  Days went by, a week went by, and this morning I decided to remove the sheet and reorganize the cables.  Guess what!  No laptop.  Bastards.  I didn't even bother to check, it was old, worn out but contained photos and files.  Lots of files.

I remember one of the sheet rockers, he told me he had lived in the states for 15 years.  He speaks English and he told me he came back last year after his dad passed away.  He told me he was making 15 dollars per hour in the U.S.  Then, he told me he was renting a room downtown.  That made me suspicious of his story.   He left the second day with his backpack.

I even made them leave the house and I locked the door when I had to go buy materials.  Trust  no one.  So now, we will check their bags, tool boxes, etc. when they come and go.  They will just have to understand. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Home Show

I didn't take any pictures but we went to the Home Show here at the convention center.  Wow, we walked around for three and a half hours.   Too much to see and do.  We found a company that is selling home solar.  400W panel with complete hookup to the grid.   The meter runs forwards and backwards sending energy to the CFE.  The owner of the company takes care of the permit as well as the installation.  I am looking into it.  The cost  is around 16,000 pesos everything included.  We could actually enjoy our air conditioning during summer months with the amount of energy we send to the grid for credit. 

Found the bedroom furniture there.  We have two nightstands that we had made years ago.  I still love them and they are good quality.  The company we chose is going to matcb the headboard as well as the entertainment center.  It will take about two weeks before it is ready.  We also bought the box springs for the bed, two singles, good quality and with super good pricing as it was the last day of the show.  Painters should be back on Thursday to finish up the bedrooms.  

I need to get my butt in gear and paint the front gates and the well.   Those are two things on my list for this week.  But guess what.  Coming back from Monterrey this afternoon I ran into a hail storm. That's right.  Mass pandemonium as cars pulled off major avenues searching for cover under carports, covered store parking lots, gas stations, etc.   It was too late.  I pulled off and stopped hoping the hail wouldn't hit so hard if I were standing still.  It worked but I did get a chip in the windshield.  I need to check the car again though to make sure there is no damage.  The trailer suffered none.  When there is hail in Monterrey we never have it out here because of the difference in temperatures.  Amen to that!  It was a bit scary though for a few minutes.

Did you know I repaired windshields for awhile on the side?  I just fixed a chip on the SUV over the weekend.  Fun business but people here like to replace windshields as the cost is a small percentage of the deductible.   I still do a couple every now and then.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remodel Almost Finished

It looks much better now.  We eliminated that old rustic look that was dated and pretty much ugly.  You get used to things and you need to force a change now and then.  The workers finished with the plaster yesterday.  It will take a week for it to dry completely before they can come back and paint.  At less than 150 dollars for sealer, paint and labor for two bedrooms including one ceiling, I am willing to do that!

It was a tough week, I don't like having the house in a mess.  Today we spent about three hours very early this morning putting things back in order and cleaning up all the dust from the cement, plaster and sheet rock.  What a mess!

So here are some before and after pictures.  The big bed is now gone and we are sleeping on a mattress on the floor until we get our new bed.  Keep in mind that the plaster isn't dry and the furniture not in yet.

You can see the dampness on the walls.  We were hoping for rain but now it looks like it will pass us by so the process will speed up by a day or two.  Now for new furniture.  We need a new headboard to match our nightstands and a piece of furniture with a couple of drawers that acts like an entertainment center.  

All the outlet and switch plates are being updated and we need to choose the colors for the paint.  I am thinking about ordering a Holiday Inn bedroom set that includes the sheets, pillow cases, quilt and covers.  I love Holiday Inn.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rver Visit In Saltillo

We received an email from Mike and Pat the day before yesterday letting us know they would be spending the night in Saltillo on their return trip to the U.S.  We drove up yesterday afternoon around 6 p.m. for dinner.

We had a lot of fun talking about their trip and their experiences and ours too.  We had dinner at El Tapanco on Allende street just blocks from the main plaza.  We had some problems finding they hotel La Fuente where they were staying.  I had called earlier in the day and the front desk clerk wasn't very clear on where it was other than he knew the place quite well.  He told me it was off of the highway to Matehuala.  Well, off we went and headed down Hwy 57.  We called again and asked if we were going the right way and he said yes.  Got to the toll booth and the woman said we were way off course and there was no turning back.  We paid the 32 peso toll and took the return loop back to Saltillo, about 12 kms past the toll booth.  

Well, there is another road from Saltillo that hooks up with the 57 but it is via Arteaga.  We found the hotel but the guy was a bit of a jerk.  Come to find out, the hotel charged them 300 pesos to park on a gravel parking lot.  What a rip off.   I am going to check to see if Mike and Pat got a receipt.  If not, hmmmm, this guy may have pocketed the money.  I'm checking into that.

All in all it was a great time and it would be cool to travel with these guys sometime.  They have a huge Bigfoot truck camper with slideout that is just beautiful.  They also tow a cargo trailer with two quads in it.  They have traveled Mexico a lot and seem to know many good places.  They are true adventurers.  

I recommended that we get a group together for an RVing Mexico reunion and spend a week sharing stories on side trips, cheap places to park and boondocking.

On our way home we missed the toll highway and took the libre.  It was just as fast and we actually were able to get to the house in Monterrey faster.  On the way we ran into a mega checkpoint.  They were X-raying all the trailers.  We attempted to merge several times but no one would budge.  About 100 meters ahead a federale started waving his flashlight at us to proceed again.  Not being an optimist, I thought he was going to let us have it for not getting in line.  Instead, he removed the barrier, asked us where we were headed and told to proceed with caution and to have a good evening.  

Work is progressing nicely here at home.  Again, the workers were here waiting at 7:30 a.m.  I am hoping to get the house back into some order over the weekend as they will finish with the bedrooms today.  They say we have to wait at least a week for the plaster to dry before we paint.

Pat pulled out some photos she found from 3 1/2 years ago.  Man, did I turn gray fast.  I can't believe I'm getting so old.  Lady Grecian????? 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Good News for Mexico

As I write this, I am sitting here keeping an eye on the workers.  The ceilings are in, and today they started plastering the walls to cover that nasty old looking stucco design that was on the walls.  This is really coming together although it is taking time.  I was surprised, they told me they would be here at 9 a.m. and they were sitting out front at 7:30.  I didn't know until they called my cell phone to tell me they were waiting at 8 a.m.

So here is some more good news on the Mexico front.  It looks like rvers have had a great winter season and trouble free to boot.  Our friends Kevin and Ruth said they never saw or heard a thing.  Tonight we are driving up to Saltillo to meet with our friends Mike and Pat, a couple we met in Creel a couple of years back.  They have a truck camper and pull a trailer with two ATVs.  They have been all over Mexico this winter and have had nothing but fun, fun, fun.

I posted a thread on asking about inexpensive campgrounds.  I thought for sure more people would chime in so that we could form a list of places to visit while we are on our summer adventure.  I'm looking for alternatives to the standard rv parks which are usually very disappointing.  I will give it more time, I am not the most patient person in the world. 

Carlos Slim has made the number one slot again on Forbes richest person's list.  Another feather in the hat for Mexicans.  

What I find most amazing is that exports for 2010 reached an all time high of 300 billion dollars.  That shows that employment is up in Mexico and unemployment continues to drop down to 4.5% in the formal sector.  This is very good news.  Here is a quote regarding the record high exports:

"Expertos económicos consideran que México está en el umbral de un periodo de crecimiento acelerado, que lo llevará a consolidarse como una de las economías que servirán como la locomotora de la economía mundial", puntualizó.

"Economic experts believe that Mexico is on the threshold of an accelerated growth period, one that will strengthen it as one of the economies that will drive the world economy".  Impressive!

And the dollar does it again:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Visit With Kevin and Ruth - Potrero Chico 

Fellow bloggers Kevin and Ruth are headed back to Canada this week via the Carolinas.  They were able to stop by this weekend.   I drove out Friday afternoon for a chat and then we returned Saturday to spend the night.  We wanted to take the trailer but the insurance was not ready yet.  They are bickering over the value of the trailer.

We spent the night in a rented room on Homero's property.  He has a campground with primitive sites that caters to climbers.  The room with full bath was in the main house and cost us 250 pesos.  Very comfortable not to mention the great price.  We went for a walk in the park in the afternoon to see the climbers.  Man are they nuts!  After a great nap, we had a couple of drinks and Ruth prepared quite a feast; baked chicken and stuffing, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables and a wonderful dessert.

The only problem was that Homero rented the covered area to a large group of teenagers who are into TechnoRock (?).  They partied all night.  We complained a couple of times to Homero over the phone but he did nothing.  I was a bit ticked off in the beginning but he is trying to keep his place open.  With the current problems he says tourism is down even though the majority of the climbers are Europeans.  Most of it of course is media hype on both the part of the U.S and Mexico.  Too bad.  I brushed it off after awhile and as the night went on we went to bed and the noise stopped around 3:30 in the morning.  

Goofy kids though, I guess the fashion is to listen to this obnoxious music which is very repetitive and do circus stuff while you get blasted.  I wouldn't doubt if there were drugs involved either as this is an extension of the Rave craze.  They were tight roping, hula hooping, hackisacking and wearing goofy hats.  When I was young we would say it was fruity.  Anyway, they were still staggering around when we left at 7:30 Sunday morning.

It is a beautiful place and a great stop after crossing the border and heading to Saltillo and all points south.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Work Is Done

The workers finished with the ceilings in both bedrooms this afternoon.  It was a long day and i took advantage of it.  I cleaned the pool, stained and varnished two nightstands, cleaned the entrance to the quinta, washed the trailer (again), took a short nap, kept an eye on those guys and cleaned up after they left.  Wow, a lot of dust.  But what a difference.  I love it.  I will start painting the ceilings next week and until then the furniture from the two bedrooms remains crammed in the dining room.

I like to watch the show "Hoarders", it reminds me why I throw things away.  This week however, I feel as though I am living in a hoarder's house.  I don't have access to the bedrooms and I am now living in the travel trailer.   Every time I walk into the house I get that awful feeling. 

I'm happy though being in the trailer.  I slept fairly well last night except for the fact I was so tired I went to bed early and woke up around 3 a.m. and started making my worry list.  I worked on that for about an hour and a half and finally went back to sleep.  I'm afraid someday it will give me a heart attack.

My shadow is worn out too.  He followed me around as I worked outside in the sun and I think it caught up with him.  You be the judge!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

O'Rielly On Mexico

I found this interview with Bill O'Rielly and Peter Greenberg on MexConnect this morning.   Bill touts himself as an authority on world affairs but has very little knowledge about his neighbor to the south, Mexico. If he does, it is very biased information. In the video he says "why would anyone want to visit a corrupt place?"   Hmmm, has anyone ever been to Italy, the Vatican City, Colombia, Greece, Cuba just to name a few favored vacation spots around the world where corruption is on the same level or higher than Mexico?  When Greenberg mentions the fact that there are over 6,500 gun stores along the Arizona/Texas border with Mexico, O'Rielly blows it off saying it is a problem for the U.S. and Greenberg responds to the contrary.

When it comes to political corruption, just take a look at the map, "white" being no corruption to "blood red" being the most corrupt (I don't see any white except for the ocean).

We all know the statistics and O'Rielly likes to quote the ones that are convenient for him  13,000 people murdered last year in Mexico.  He doesn't mention the 16,000 murdered in the U.S.  The ones in Mexico are bad guys (like 98%) and some police and military.  The ones in the U.S. are neighbors, friends, innocent kids on school campuses, postal workers, people enjoying a day at the  mall.  But I know Bill will say I am comparing apples to oranges.

O'Rielly goes on to say that Americans flock to Mexico because it's cheap and Mexico needs the dollars.  The tourism industry would suffer if Americans quit going to Mexico but the country would find ways to survive.  Americans (roughly 40% of the total)aren't the only ones who travel to Mexico. 

Here's the video and you be the judge.  I say O'Rielly is a pinhead.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This Guy Is A Creep
Take a look at this video. This soccer player kicked the opposing teams mascota, a live owl, across the field.  He now apologizes.  I ask you, if he treats a living thing in this way, how does he treat a woman or other human beings?

The owl was rushed to a vet and put on a oxygen and received treatment.  Unfortunately, the owl died today.