Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How I Spent My First Day of Vacation


The next two weeks are activity driven school days and don't involve, to my dismay, learning in the classroom.   The Japanese, Chinese and Indians are kicking our asses when it comes to education and in the U.S. and Mexico we are cuddling each other to make sure everyone feels good.  Great, but that won't get us ahead in terms of innovation and creativity.

So, I decided to say goodbye until September.  I still have a meeting or two and a course to teach in Monterrey tomorrow but I'm pretty much free.  I got up at 5 a.m., and really enjoyed my coffee.   The gym could wait an hour so I went late and it was the best.  All on my own time.

I came home and showered, had a nice breakfast of rice and a banana.  I headed out to the most northern side of Monterrey to have the charge controller checked.   It isn't working and I may have done something to have caused it.   The guy wasn't there but I got the website and will call him tomorrow.   Monterrey is not the city it used to be.  It's grown, cleaner, bigger and brighter.  I wasn't sure I was in Mexico except for the fact everything was in Spanish.  

Our roof needs some work and I am looking for the teja (tile).   Regios (people from Monterrey) are truly good people.  I happened to see a place on my route that sold roof tile and bricks.  I went back around the block or blocks and pulled in.  I had a sample of our artisan tile which is almost non-existent.   She wasn't worried about selling me anything.  She said we could use the power washer to bring it back to life and she put me in contact with an installer who has a contact in town that manufactures the roof tiles we have.   This may workout to be a less expensive project than we had thought.

On my way home I knew I would be passing the building where Juan works.  I called him up and invited him to lunch at the Cafe Paris.  In Spanish we say the food "es muy limpia y sana", it's very clean and healthy.   In other words, it's all cooked fresh, not heavy in fats and a lot of condiments.  There are only eight tables and one waitress who is the owner and cook's daughter.   They run a great show and the lunch specials complete with soup and drink is 85 pesos.  Truly a full meal but you don't leave waddling out of the place because it was a large portion and heavy.   

We have needed a new vacuum for the last year.  We have been using vacuum cleaner bags that we have to mold and cut so that they fit.  Our upright lost its handle last year but I use it on the area rugs.   Funky but it works but no more bags not even "mexicanadas" (you know, tape, glue, gum, and staples).  The water vac petered out too and the motor is cost prohibitive considering the vacuum is going on 20 years.  Am I cheap or what!

There is a place down the street from the restaurant that has demo items cheap.  I found a new Shark that separates into two vacuums, upright and canister, for the price of 400 pesos.  I had him open it up, gave it the sniff test, fingered the hose, no dust, and all is new including the filters.  Has great suction and lots of attachments.  Looks like it will work out well.  BTW, I gave up using a broom years ago.  They just stir things up and trust me, I don't miss wall-to-wall carpeting.

Renewed the car insurance on the VW and took a short nap.  Hmm, I wonder what I'll do tomorrow?  Need to get the rv ready.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Should We Be Jumping Up and Down?


I'm not jumping up and down.  I've seen these ruling go haywire and decisions reversed.  First off, you know I'm conservative and will always be that way.  Yes, we're happy for those who want to be happy but there is an underlying current.

Take into account the ruling of 5 to 4 and the fact that any decision made by the Supreme Court could always be reversed.   Clarence Thomas made it very clear in his sermon that the constitution does not tolerate this type of change.

Also, what is marriage anyway?  For me, being a conservative, is an institution that protects families.  It has pretty much become an abandoned institution since the beginning of Vatican II.  Marriage, and I've said it before, is not about a couple.  It's not about the love between two persons.  Marriage is for those who have children and want to raise them in condition that improves society as a whole.  Vatican II not only destroyed that, but you can see the  societal deterioration that has followed especially in the Catholic church.

Marriage was never meant for two people who may or may not be together for any length of time.  Hence we have divorce at an alarming rate because the institution is not valued.  If marriage really were an institution, it would provide for women who have been impregnated by a man and force him to take charge of his responsibility.   That's why marriage doesn't work today.  It's too easy to get out of.  I know I'll receive flack for this but it is my blog and my space to say what I feel corresponds with my beliefs.

There is no reason for two persons, hetro, gay, and all the other combinations that exist not to have a legally binding contract.  I should have a right to see my partner in a hospital, institution, legal access to real estate, pensions, and bank accounts.  That's what the law should be focusing on and provide, not marriage.  Two very distinct concepts.  

The jury is still out and the debate is just starting to heat up.  Notice this was approved to land on a weekend and reduce the impact on both sides.  There is a lot of politics involved in this.   Flaunting your winning can do considerable damage in the end.   We shouldn't be shoving it down people's throats but being humble and giving it time to sink in.   Look what happened with civil rights.  Started out on the right foot and has now ended up with greater racism than before.  It's not about black people and it's not about gay people.  It's about the majority (society) and what they will tolerate. 

So I'm not waving a flag, marching in a parade, but hoping that this ends on a good note.  I've seen too much in my life and know what discrimination is and how these changes can backfire.  I hope I'm wrong but only time will tell us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trip To Ciudad Juarez


I received a call on Friday for a trip to Cd. Juarez in Chihuahua.  Sure, I get to go somewhere, work with a school, and earn Aeromexico mileage.

When I left yesterday for Mexico City it was almost a red eye flight.   I met my coworker at the airport and we traveled to Mexico City.   From there the flight didn't leave until 10:30 p.m. and we arrived in Cd. Juarez to the hotel after 1 a.m.  It was raining in Monterrey and hot and sunny here in Juarez.

Not what it used to be, Cd. Juarez has changed its image.  I think I mentioned that last time I was in El Paso.  People on both sides of the border travel back and forth freely without any worries like in the past.   I gave a presentation to parents at a school today and they were very excited to talk about how the city has grown, become safe and life is back where it was eight years ago.

The picture above doesn't do justice.  It was taken from my hotel room and it is the back side of the hotel and there isn't much to see.  The avenues are wide, good sidewalks with ramps for wheelchairs and the streets are clean and well kept.   

It was a fun day working with parents, teachers and students and they were happy for me to be there.  We had a wonderful lunch at a Chinese restaurant where I had the best lettuce (bok choy) soup, broccoli and mixed vegetables and rice.   Lots of conversation with the distributors and a couple of authors who were in town for other events.  

Tomorrow I do it again and then we are leaving early for home.  It's a two and a half hour trip direct to Monterrey if we can make the change otherwise it's back through Mexico City.  The school year is coming to an end.

An important announcement, Juan received a six-week scholarship to work at the University of Arizona in Phoenix.  I won't be going because it will be way too hot.  I checked at San Ramon rv park in San Miguel de Allende and they want 4500 pesos for a month in the middle of the summer.  Hell no!  I put out some feelers for a boondocking spot long term hoping I get some bites.  If not, I may just go and stay for a couple of weeks and then return home.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Regarding My Last Post


I mentioned racism and it was right on time.   The event in Charleston is pushing the envelope in terms of changes that need to take place.  This kid killed nine people in cold blood.  These people weren't criminals, cartel members, gang members or drug addicts.  Innocent people who had gathered in a church to pray.  The killer hates black people.  How can you hate another human being?  I just don't get it.

Slaves in the U.S. built the country and they did it for free.  The weren't given the opportunity to charge Americans anything, they never received a dime for their blood and sweat.  It was blood as they were raped, beaten, killed and abused physically and mentally.   It didn't stop with the Civil War either.  It goes on today.

It's not over, it's not forgotten and there is a large group of people who truly hate black people.  Someone taught this youth to hate black people.  He didn't pull it out of the thin air.  It is something that has been going on for a long time.  

Guns are creating havoc around the world.  They threaten the innocent,  are responsible for literally over 150 million deaths in just the last century if not more depending on how you count.  It's sick. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cardiologist and Racism In Mexico?


Yep, kind of a two for one today.  I had my cardio check up today.  My cardiologist is the best.  Very friendly, a funny guy and yet he really knows his job.  He works with his dad who is a heart surgeon as well in the same place.   

My checkup began at 9:45 with blood workup and an x-ray.  Unfortunately, they still wouldn't let me have a cup of coffee.   I went back upstairs to the cardio ward where they began with an EKG.   

Following were blood pressure analysis by the doctor as well as listening to my blood flow.  Scary because it sounds like you're in a submarine.

Stress test was next and he really up it until I was almost running.  He kept asking if you could keep going and I said yes.  The last 30 seconds were tough but he said I was like a professional soccer player.  I know he wants to make his patients feel good. 

I go back next week for the follow up on blood work and his consultation.   He says there are no blockages or other issues.   Total charge was 1500 pesos, or around $98 dollars.   Thank you Mexico.

Now on to racism.  Does it really exist in Mexico?  Some think so but most don't.  I think if it exists it is against indigenous groups because of language and cultural differences.  But color as an issue, I don't think so.  As you know we call people by color.  If you are black we all you negro.  If your very dark but not black, prieto, and as the scale goes down to moreno and then to guero.   They are even people's names.  People call me guero in public even if they don't know me. 

Here is a new product to hit the market.  I saw it when I went to buy my wonderfully strong cup of coffee after the four hours at the doctor's.  The sign said, "Bimbo El Negrito"  2 X 1.  I couldn't resist.  The product name is "Nito".   The cashier said they are selling like hotcakes.  I won't eat it but it is what we used to call a longjohn, long donut type, cream-filled with chocolate icing.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Not Sure What Summer Will Bring


I've lost my steam on working this summer.  I have worked way too much this last year and I'm through.  Juan isn't sure if he is going to get his scholarship to Arizona State for th summer.  If he doesn't, it's off to higher ground for the rest of the summer or as long as we can.  I may stay out longer if he has to come back.  The heat this week is borderline 36C.  The nights are still cool but it is getting later and later, in other words, it was around 10 pm and it cooled off, now it's midnight and soon it will be 2 a.m.   No thanks.

I put some time in the yard this week with grass seed and fertilizer.  One week without rain and high temps it's time to start watering the grass.   I want my old yard back.  Huge mistake relying on someone else.   A year and a half ago we asked the gardener to buy some topsoil.   We gave him the money.  We should know better.  He got cheap dirt filled with all kinds of crap, pocketed the proceeds and left us with a yard full of weeds.  We ended up killing most of it off.   Now the front has large barren spots.   That's my project now.

Today we bought paint, the painter is supposed to show up tomorrow at eight in the morning.  We'll be ready.   I hate deferred maintenance.   We went to Home Depot for the paint and I bought a door for the bath that is off of the kitchen.  It has a hollow door and it looks like crap.   I wanted a hardwood door to match the rest.  I will be responsible for sanding, staining and varnishing it.   Finding a door hanger is another job.  I'm not messing with the fit and finish of the hardware and the door.  

The pool is in better shape now and we are using more frequently.  It was a task but hey, somebody has to be in charge and tell people what to do.  One of the problems around is the lack of education on part of the worker.   He is older, knows it all, but really doesn't and he won't take advice.  I can bitch about him but we can't replace him either. 

A new neighbor coming on board.  He is building a house on an empty lot two door over.   There is talk about a gated community going in also on our street, that would be a welcome neighbor too.  

Next two weeks I end my school visits and consulting.   I'm ready to drop out for the summer.  I also want to share with you the TIF, which is the USDA equivalent for meat inspection in Mexico.  Mexico exports a lot of animal product to the U.S. and Canada.  A teacher I work with is a veterinarian and does inspection at a packing plant not far from our house.   Very interesting what she has to do to even enter the plant not to mention the inspection, analysis, and certification process.   Most foreigners think it doesn't exist.   Maybe this week.  

Also, Monday morning I have my visit with the cardiologist.  Anxious to see if the diet of the last six months has made a change in my health.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mexico Makes History - First Independent Candidate To Win Governorship


Still waiting official results on Wednesday but preliminary results are in and by a landslide.  Jaime Rodriguez (El Bronco) is the new governor of the state of Nuevo Leon.

The two major Mexican parties, PRI and PAN took a beating.  We are waiting for the statistics on funds spent by candidates but the PRI pulled all stops and spent millions of pesos.  El Bronco had little to no support to the point where he had a plane which flew over our house with a recording on a beat up speaker giving a message.   

In the end, democracy wins and the people's voice has been heard.  State senate results will determine how hard it will be for him to move ahead with his plan he is presenting in October when he officially takes office.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

History In The Making - Elections in Nuevo Leon


Tomorrow is the big day.   For the first time in the history of Mexico, an independent candidate has the opportunity to win state elections in the governor's race.

We are currently under lock down in term of  Ley Seca (dry law).  No alcohol has legally been sold since midnight last night. 

There are three major candidates; Ivonne Alvarez, PRI,  Felipe Calderon, PAN and Jaime Rodriguez (aka El Bronco) as the Independent candidate.  

It has been a rough six months as they have been digging up dirt, paying people to commit to a party vote (can't happen in reality because once the person is inside the voting booth they will vote as they wish but it has an impact on the pre-election results), up to and including editing and false phone call recordings.

El Bronco is the chosen candidate even by the ever present PAN party here in the north.  PAN members have ceded their positions to Bronco and have promised to support him including major investors, stockholders and company CEOs.   Unlike the U.S., people in Mexico are fed up with the heavily promoted two-party system.  

Stay tuned for results this week.   

I also wanted to talk about Mexican universities but I will keep that for another day this week unless you are a Facebook friend and I will be posting some information and pictures there.

We've had a great week weather wise with only one evening shower.   Let's hope it holds out so we can get our roof done and also plant some grass and fertilize.  Happy Weekend!