Sunday, September 30, 2018

Another Side of Me (You Probably Didn't Know)

The other night, we ventured out in the rain.  It has rained here for three weeks non-stop.  Hard, heavy downpours that have left many people and homes completely soaked.  We need the water, no doubt.  That said, my little brother is coming for a ten-day visit and we wanted to do some repairs and updates around the house.  The rain put a stall to all of it.   A long list and I won't bore you with the details.  More on this trip later.

We went to a concert.  Not just any concert and not one with loud amplification and crowds.  A very good friend of ours is a well-known music teacher at the state university.  He plays piano, string instruments and his love is the accordion.   You're already conjuring up ideas of folkloric music and polkas.   Not even close.  Alfonso plays classical music and very, very well.  Not necessarily related, but he is also a polyglot speaking six languages of which he all learned on his own.  

The invitation was for a two-hour concert which is located in a house in Monterrey.  It's not a big house but has a place downstairs to mingle both inside and out, with a small pavilion next to a pool where they have outside cocktail parties and concerts.  Very accommodating.   We had a glass of wine before the concert and met some of our friends there as well.

Upstairs is a small theater.  Dark, walls covered in long black curtains.  It's all with assigned seating and maximum capacity of 50 persons.  This place is incredible.  I've never quite understood, and have mentioned it before here on the blog, the need for amplification. Some of the pieces we listened to were; In A Persian Market, Funeral March of a Marionette, Por Una Cabeza, which to most of you are all very popular but have a long history in terms of musical composition.  If you were to hear them you would say, "oh, that's from a show or a movie".   Very true.

The interesting part of the evening was that Alfonso gives historical background about the composer as well as the intended story behind the piece so that as you are listening to.  You can actually imagine what is happening based on what you are listening to, just like they did before electricity, movies, and musical recordings. 

Back to my past.  When I was in high school I became a fan of symphonic orchestras, classical music and opera.  I don't speak much about it and don't play the music when other people are around.  They always seem to find the music boring and give me strange looks and poo poo classical music.  I started out as an usher at the Kansas City Auditorium where the orchestra played.  It was a great escape for a young kid but in a healthy environment.  We started a fan club for Jorge Messer who was our conductor and who by the way is Mexican but from a Hungarian background.  I met such greats as Zubin Mehta, Van Cliburn, Zara Nelsova (aka Sara Nelson) and many, many more famous people as well as opera singers and groups such as the Rolling Stones (yes, I was backstage watching them perform).  It was a lot for a 14 year old, at least at the time.  

One last thing, I haven't even checked the blog in a few weeks and I see several messages.  I apologize for not seeing or answering them but will do so this week. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Illegal Immigration - The Rush For The Border

I've discussed this in the past but it seems the problem is getting worse and Trump is losing ground.  Illegals are swarming to the U.S. border by the truckload and that term is literal.   This week on the toll road between Monterrey and Reynosa, Mexican immigration stopped a semi loaded with 336 people.

That's not a typo or a stuck key, 336 human beings herded into a trailer comprised of men, women, 31 children and two pregnant women just days away from giving birth.   They are safe now and housed in the shelter for illegals with food, hot showers, beds, and blankets as well as clean clothes.   The 31 children have been turned over to DIF (National System for Integral Family Development) whose job it is to care for as well as provide psychological evaluation and reunite them with their parents.

This cargo had a value of over $ 2,500,000 U.S.  Each person paid over $7500 to be taken from the Guatemala/ Mexico border to Houston, Tx.   This isn't a once in a lifetime trip, this trip is constantly being made through the Americas delivering people, not to the border, but to cities inside the United States.   Keep in mind, many people pay just to make it to Mexico which for many can be just as safe and lucrative in terms of improving one's condition.

How long did it take some or all of these people to raise $7500?  I ask that question because that is a lot of money.  When was the last time you spent that much on a trip?   We didn't even spend that much on our four-month-long excursion through the U.S. and Canada when fuel prices were at one of their all-time highs.

In Mexico, a person with a high school diploma who makes 10,000 pesos a month is doing extremely well.  With that 10,000 pesos a month you have socialized medicine for yourself, your spouse and your children until age 18.  You have access to a government home loan with a fixed rate.

85 sq meters (765 sq ft) 2 bedrooms, one bath.  Not a big house but a good starter home.  Imagine if the spouse works also and makes around the same.  Not a bad life.

So this blog post has been delayed for a week due to the fact that a certain cat strolled across my keyboard and erased this part of the post.  I couldn't retrieve it.  Too bad but my point with this topic was that I am not sure why people, especially Mexicans, risk their lives and families, not to mention their families money, to do something that they could easily do at home.  

Not sure why the United States doesn't just tell people not to come as the "dream" really doesn't exist and it's something they can do at home.  How many have died?  How many have never returned home to their families because of a change of plans, they had started a new family and forgotten the other, or ended up in prison?  

With the exception of those from Central America, a place that has no real future that I can see, who seek refugee status.   Central America is one of Mother Nature's mistakes in terms of human existence.  Battered yearly from both sides by cyclones, hurricanes, and heavy flooding.  No wonder those countries, although beautiful and I know a few, are so corrupt and crime-ridden.  

Just my take on this as we see them pass through Monterrey on their way north.   Stay home, get a good education, find a way.  There are solutions and as frequent visitors to Mexico, we can all help.  Used clothes and tips aren't the answer.   Help provide a good education and support for a family.  So when you come this winter, find someone to help, not with money with a better future.

Monday, September 3, 2018

It Finally Happened

It's not what you may think but it is certainly good news.  The rains have come and the temperatures are dropping.  I don't expect the heat to stay away for long but we will see a gradual decrease over the next few weeks.

Coming off the road after some hectic weeks and trips.   Oh the stories I could tell about almost having to turn Saturday night's flight around because of a drunk guy who locked himself in the bathroom, people listening to videos on their cell phones without using headphones,  kids running up and own the aisles (I guess if you are a grandparent that may sound cute), people attempting to stuff an oversized (supposed) carry on and being told it just won't fit and raising a stink and then almost breaking the compartment door clasp.  Oh and I didn't mention the flight delays that they continue to blame on the Mexican president's plane landing at the CDMX airport.   Not true, there are large posters in the airport dispelling the myth and showing a pie chart of the actual reasons.  The most common is that discount airlines have very few or no extra equipment so that when one is taken out of service unexpectedly, it throws the rest of their system off.  

So the drought has been broken or at least for now.   The lake is slowly filling and we seem to always make the right decisions sometimes at the last minute but right on time.   I was never happy with the gutters we had on the front of the house.  First off, they were ugly PVC gutter material and second the water came off the roof and over the gutters.  I found a great place that makes all aluminum gutters and they installed them on Friday.  As we say, "justo a tiempo".   The downpour lasted three hours and the gutters did the job.   They came back today to do some touchup and adjustments.   It rained again this evening and all is well.  Imagine, they brought a one-piece 15 meter gutter all the way from the northside of Monterrey.

Looks like I may be moving on from the school.   It appears they are not going for a bilingual program based on the demographics in the area.   Not a bad thing but I worked very hard to get where we are today and there have been some amazing advancements.  If the board decides to change its strategy I always have other things to do for the next year.  One is a course I am writing for the U.S. Embassy.  I'm just getting started and the pay is great.   The university publisher keeps me busy enough as it is and as December rolls around I think we will be rving much more.  

That's it for now.  I could go on but . . .