Archives for the month of: December, 2013

The sun hasn’t been seen in 6 or 7 days. The heat from the sun is how we warm our houses in this part of the world. It is winter here just like it is everywhere else in the northern hemisphere. The climate this far south and at this elevation (5000 ft.) is more moderate; or supposed to be anyway. It’s not supposed to be raining either because it’s dry season but it is and has been for the last 6 straight days.

We have an additional problem here that I might have mentioned in some other post. The city hasn’t supplied water for over two weeks and the rumor is that the pump won’t be fixed until sometime next month. The water authorities stop gap plan is driving a water truck around and filling up people’s subterranean reservoirs as they go empty.

I could never get the lid off the cover to mine – too heavy, rusted shut – so I bought myself a big old pry-bar at the hardware store on the way back from breakfast this morning and just short of a hernia and throwing my back out I managed to get the damn thing off.

It appears to be quite full. I stuck my head down as far as a I safely could and shown a flashlight around but whether it has 5000 liters or 50,000 liters is anyone’s best guess. I investigated the best I could without falling in which I reckoned at the time could have been a life-threatening situation; thinking wisely at the time that it might be better to skip a shower or two then to drown.

Until yesterday, the very idea of showering was too unappealing to contemplate anyway. Too butt numbing cold in the house to even imagine stripping off 3 sweaters, a t-shirt, fleece vest, wool hat and flannel PJs. Better to smell a bit off then to freeze.

Showering wasn’t even an option on the 24th, the 25th, and [almost] the 26th. My propane tank went dry Christmas Eve which I discovered when my pot of beans quit boiling. I called in an order for a new tank the day after Christmas only to be told that I’d be put on the list and that it might be a couple of days. Screw that. I stood out in front of my house and before an hour was up I was able to chase a truck down in my multi-layered ensemble – right down to the plaid PJs – and was able to get a fresh tank of gas.

The heat problem got solved yesterday.My clothes were getting smelly so I grabbed a cab and dashed out to Sorriana and bought myself an electric space heater. It was the best thirty-five bucks I’ve ever spent. It might not heat the house and the electric meter might be twirling but with the thing sitting 6″ away I am warm and toasty for the first time in a week.

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That’s the British paper that ‘outed’ Edward Snowden.

I was the 290th comment this morning to the realistically speculative article entitled ‘Which will be the 15 big economies in 15 years? It’s not a done deal’.

Read the article here – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/29/worlds-largest-economies-and-their-future?/

My comment was in general agreement with the author of the article and what I wrote is as follows:

“The opening line states ‘it is a puzzle’ over which countries are going to be the top economies in the coming years.

Years ago when FDR was structuring the New Deal to pull the US out of the Great Depression he interviewed many economists for advice. His consensus was that if you took every economist in the world and put them in a line that they’d all face in different directions.

So I will agree with the author of this article that the relative strengths of country’s future economies is anybody’s best guess.

I believe that a country’s ability to create value and be innovate; supported by their respective governments through rightful policy and just generally staying the hell out of the way is going to be one of the key deciders.

I’ve worked as an engineer in China and India and many other countries. And my observation is that merely have a large population is no guarantee of success.

I presently live in Mexico; the land of MexiCANs. There is an abundance of optimism here that you don’t see on the more affluent side of their northern border.

My prediction is that as oil and transportation prices continue to rise we are once again going to see more products being produced closer to home. Which in the US’s case is going to be Mexico, not China and India.”

It is still pissing down rain and I was told it will continue for the next 3 days; mother nature is acting like she’s completely ignorant of the fact that it is the Dry Season. There is so much rain in fact there are torrents of water pouring down my street and every other street that points westerly in an uphill direction. With downpours like this it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why some of the sidewalks and curbs are 2 feet high.

The weather here isn’t typically a mystery. There is wet season that runs from April to October and dry season that runs from November through March. But there are anomalies like today. And I’d know more about the local weather if I had a TV but I can’t break a 25 year old tradition just for the sake of getting better weather intel.

But being TV-less didn’t give me 19 siblings like it did Roberto to whom I just spoke with in the Mercado. He asked me what I was doing at my house for Christmas and I told him that I had an invitation elsewhere. I asked him about his plans and he said the women in his family had been cooking up a storm and he continued on to say that he had a big family as in 15 brothers and 4 sisters. I said ‘You’re kidding me, right? I know there’s big Mexican families but 20 kids, come on’? We had a big laugh when he said that his parents never got much into the habit of watching a lot of TV.

I neglected to mention that the city of Sahuayo has been without water for the past week and a half. The main municipal pump burnt up and water authorities are as they say ‘working on the problem’.

I’ve been told that there is a 65000 liter reservoir under my house but how full it is can’t be verified because I can’t get the concrete cover in the laundry area unstuck.

Water distribution in Sahuayo is an interestingly jury-rigged proposition at best.The water mains are mere 1 1/2 inch galvanized pipes that run above ground at sidewalk level. They feed the reservoir under your house. Each house has a small electric pump that pumps the water from the subterranean reservoir to a 1000 liter cistern that sits on top of your house. Gravity does the rest.

It’s pouring rain at the moment which is a bit disconcerting because central Mexico is in dry season. This was the sunrise from yesterday:

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Manolo’s big beautiful house, in his big safe gated community was broken into Saturday night while he and his 16 year old son slept. The thief made himself at home cooking up a couple of tuna steaks which he washed down with a couple of premium tequila’s and coke before making off with Manolo’s laptop and a few other things. Unbeknownst to the thief his criminal activity was captured on security cameras so he is probably chilling his 20 year old self in jail today. I’m spending Christmas Eve with Manolo and his family so I’ll get an update this evening.

My friend Pancho is headed up to Guadalajara today to spend Christmas with his family. He might as well as the holiday cantina business (like all other local businesses) are upside down due mostly in part to the continued violence and peoples’ unwillingness to travel.

I spent Sunday afternoon with my buddy Gilberto. He is getting divorced for the forth or fifth time. She’s an absolute beauty of 35 and he is a 63 year old successful businessman who just can’t ever seem to want to box in his own weight class.

I have to report to Immigrations after the holidays. Instead of getting my usual 180 day tourist visa at the airport I got shunted to the principal’s office for possible reprimand/expulsion/who knows?

Either the immigration system (they have networked computers these days) flagged me as a punter – as in why should a tourist be given his 4th consecutive 180 visa? – or the immigration officer at the airport was merely being a dick because he lied to me and said that he was giving me 180 days. I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t catch it and see the checked box telling me to report to the Immigration office until the next morning.

I might not be much to look at anymore but I am a creative old bastard; you got to give me that. So anticipating the worst, I am already in the process of executing Plan B. So I’ve ordered up another 60 pair of sandals; mostly the beautiful basketweave clogs, got business cards printed along with a t-shirt or two and so in the middle of January I am off to Miami for a month to work on the sales end of my business.

Miami is the ideal city for me. So if Immigration tells me that I need to leave the country and re-enter with another class of visa, fine – there is a consulate in south downtown Miami. Hopefully the weather will be good and I needn’t add to my wardrobe of shorts, sandals, and t-shirts. I can continue to work on my Spanish, rent a short-term apartment (Craigslist) in the old part of downtown and hawk my sandals on the beach if need be.

Worried? Not in the least. We at sahara sandals® make the best sandals in the world. You just have to try a pair on and you’ll see what I am talking about.

I brought a pair of sandals back from Oregon that I had purchased in Italy 3 years ago to show my guys here in Sahuayo that we don’t just compete with the Italians in the art of sandal-making but we can beat them too. (And forget about that mass-produced crap made in Asia).

Here is my sandal lying next to its Italian brother:

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The finish and quality of leather is quite comparable.

But turn them over and it’s a different story:Image

The Italian sandal (bottom) has a leather bottom which you have to purposely scratch up or they’re so slippery that you fall on your ass.

All of our handmade sahara sandals®, including this model, are double-lock stitched onto recycled airplane tire for comfort and durability.

Weight: Identical – both of these size 10s weigh 230 gms each

Price: The Italian sandals cost 80€. Our sandals will retail for substantially less in both the United States and Europe.

Comfort: You’ll have to take my word for it until you buy a pair, but there is no comparison. You can walk in ours all day while the others are as stiff as a board.

Durability: No comparison. My daughter, Sarah wore through the heels of her Italian’s in less than 3 months time (and it cost USD $32 to put new heels on them). I’ve got a pair of my model Colombianos that I’ve been wearing everyday for 15 months and they’re still going strong.

You decide but know that I will put my sandals up against any.

I’ll say it again, we make the best sandals in the world.

The run in a few months ago with my neighbor, Raoul reminded me of two very important things: 1) I need to keep a tighter rein on my temper and 2) how the world would be a better place if everyone just did their job.

Just do you job; that’s the subject of this particular post.You don’t need to have a smile pasted on your face all the time to make the world a better place. In fact smiling happy people of the New Age variety with their out of a can spirituality, everything is god attitude just generally pisses me off. But I can put up with your fake smile if you accompany it with doing your job. Don’t do your job and there isn’t a smile big enough in the universe to keep me from wanting to push you out in front of traffic.

If you’ve taken my money for a product or a service don’t patronize me and tell me you’re going to do something and then not do it. In my humble opinion, stated as simply as I can – the one true way to a better happier world is if we all just shut up and do our jobs.

Now it is not inconceivable that certain people and organizations will deliberately try to mislead us away from their real job definition. Take the airline industry. The flight deck (and the airport intercom systems) constantly reminds us passengers that their primary duty – their job –  is all about our safety. And that we the passengers need to assist them in providing for our safety chiefly by following the rules and when onboard by remaining seated at all times with our seat belts securely fastened. Right. If you’ve ever flown outside of the US you will know what an absolute boldfaced lie that is.

And just as a reminder, the whole safety thing is an implicit promise embedded in most of the goods and services that we buy. For example, the restaurant we are dining in; we sort of expect that the waitress doesn’t somehow accidentally confuse one of their cleaning products with the coffee creme substitute. And anyway, how long would a restaurant stay in business if their main mission and motto was ‘Your Safety Comes First’?

Or how about if the wheels of your brand new SUV mysteriously fell off the first time the speedometer pegged 65 mph? Not just is that not going to happen but it’s also not going to be talked up as a selling point. So why should the whole airport/airline transportation industry get away with elevating the safety aspect of their business to be more or less their primary talking point when if you think about it, that argument is really only that red herring that serves to purposely obfuscate the real issue?

This post is about ‘do your job’ so obviously I am not here to talk about airline safety and the relative worthlessness of the whole TSA apparatus. I am only using the whole airport/airplane thing to call attention to what their real job is and that is to get us to our destination on time.

Come on. That’s why everyone flies as opposed to buying passage on a ship, driving or taking the bus; it’s supposed to be quicker. But in a lot of cases it really isn’t anymore. So is the airline industry doing their job most of the time? No.

My beautiful daughter asked me a few days ago if I had any gender biases. Like did I expect different things from a woman than a man?  Like should women be expected to take different jobs then men? She wasn’t really asking me specifically as she was more like thinking out loud. Still my answer was an unequivocal ‘hell no’. And I don’t care about what color a person is either or where they’re from or what their sexual preferences are. I have one and one only judgment criteria; do your job.

PS – If you got the feeling that this post turned into another American Airline bashing post, let me just say that it was an unintended consequence through my recent experiences in dealing with their inefficiencies of such epic proportions that the example serves as a classic case of how not to do your job.

PPS – Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com should be consulted to modernize the passenger delivery system. Why? They get their stuff delivered on time.

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We had big juicy ribeye steaks last night grilled with vegetables and some fine California Cabernet. Ryan did the meat and Sarah did the veggies.

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Tonight it is just Sarah and I. She has a final exam tomorrow so I am doing the cooking. I am going to make linguine with smoked fish and capers in a creme sauce. She is on her way home so I better get in the kitchen.

AA Flight 1568 had a 2 hour late departure out of DFW yesterday. There were the usual and expected inefficiencies that always accompanies dealing with things like the bureaucracies of storm aftermath like a long bevy of wait-listed passengers (18!) and de-icing.

But the primary cause of the flight delay – as they announced – was that the crew were waiting for the first officer (co-pilot) to show up. And for whatever reason everyone sat and twiddled their thumbs until an hour after our scheduled departure time of 9:20 am,  when the guy finally turned up and they started the boarding process.

Somehow in all that dicking around no food managed to make it’s way on board so when the planned 4 hour flight became 6 hours there were some very unsatisfied and hungry passengers.

On landing the pilot fatuously thanked us for our ‘patience and understanding’.

Exiting the aircraft I stuck my head in the cockpit and asked, ‘Who is the first officer’? Both men looked at me and the one in the right hand seat said’ ‘I am’. I took the Casio watch off my wrist and handed it to him and said, ‘Next time it might help you get to the airport on time’.

I smiled thinking, ‘Skewered’!

And I am going to hate them even more after they merge with US Airways; creating the world’s largest and quite possibly most inefficient airline company this side of Aeroflot.

AA majorly dicked me (and a bunch of other people) around when they had their pilots’ strike a dozen or so years ago. I landed in Miami, coming back from S. America, to witness total airport chaos, lots and lots of angry people, and flashing boards with ‘cancelled’ repeated over and over. My angry face, according to a buddy of mine, actually showed up on national TV.

It took me 3 flights and 24 hours to get from Miami to California. I was steaming mad and made sure to give the pilots of each flight the finger while deboarding. I reckon a person would probably go to jail for that now (as well as end up on the evil no-fly list).

So in America we are royally f***ked. We have no train system that’s worth a damn. Greyhound? Forget about it. So we are left to the mercy of the assholes that run our unapologetic and increasingly more inefficient airlines.

Today, I hope to leave for Oregon. But I hoped that yesterday. Granted, ice-storms are deal breakers but AA is still using the cover of yesterday’s storm around DFW to cancel flights today. Everyone else seems to be flying out of DFW but AA.

In my case, American Airlines says that Flt. 387 is on schedule for an on time 4:25 pm departure time from GDL (Guadalajara) arriving DFW on time at 6:45 pm.

That’s good.

However, the inbound Flt. 387 from DFW to GDL has been cancelled; so how they are going to service my flight remains a mystery to me.

But I am going to the Guadalajara airport anyway. I spent 2 hours on hold with AA this morning trying to reconcile this discrepancy before my call got dropped.

But, the flightstats.com for GDL confirms an outbound coshare flight (Quantas/BA/AA) to DFW at 4:25 pm; which is good.

However, instinct tells me that AA is going use the a later DFW – GDL flight to get the Flight 387 passengers back to to DFW. So I expect to spend upwards of  5 additional hours in the airport because the bastards at AA want to consolidate the 2 flights to maximize profits.

And instead of doing the right customer service posting thing by announcing a departure change; they are cloaking all of this as collateral storm damage.

I hate American Airlines.