Game of Throes

It’s Monday morning in the Lakeside Area. I feel like I’ve been crying all night. It’s my allergies. It’s brutal here right now. If I knew how to dance, I’d be dancing for rain.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Rain Dances: Several Native American tribes have a ceremony related to rain, but possibly the most well known is the Hopi Snake Dance.

People generally assume that the Hopis dance so they will get rain for their crops, but the Hopis believe that they dance so everyone will get rain.

The next time you meet a Hopi, you should probably say, kwakwhay, which is Hopi for Thank you.

De nada.

* * * *

This will probably be my last lengthy post about anything related to the epic HBO series, Game of Thrones, and then I can retire. Again.

Yeah, the title is supposed to be a play on words. A throe is an intense or violent pain or struggle, especially accompanying birth, death, or great change.

Thanks. I thought it was pretty clever, too.

Historically, the imaginary civil war of the Seven Kingdoms in the fictional land of Westeros bears a striking similarity to the factual civil war in the real island of England known as the War of the Roses.

Two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, symbolized by a red rose, and the House of York, whose symbol was a white rose, took up arms against each other and their respective supporters for control of the British throne.

The war lasted roughly 32 years, and by the time it ended all of the male heirs to the throne from both houses had been eliminated, opening the door for the House of Tudor to seize control.

Oops.

Earlier this year I became addicted to the show. Several weeks later, I got my lovely supermodel wife hooked. Along with the addictive storyline, the cinematography was seriously incredible. Great job, HBO.

Now, like unto all of the other fans all across the world, we’re wondering what we’re going to do with ourselves.

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HBO is probably planning a whole series of GoT themed shows. Why not? Production costs for each season are around $80 million dollars, give or take. That’s a lots of money.

But, they’ve made roughly $500 million dollars per season. Multiply by eight seasons…. Um, you do the math. They’ve started already production on some prequel shows. Probably some ancillary shows. Drogon is going to host a stand-up comedy show.

It’s going to be called Funny, or Fry.

Last night was the last show of the final season. As with almost every episode of GoT this season, the Interweb has exploded with fan reactions. A lots of people hated the ending. And they’re letting the rest of us know it. A petition is being circulated to remake the final season. More than a million people have already signed it.

Good luck with that, you sniffle-snaffle crybaby twats. I have one word for all you mamby-pamby motherfuckers:

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As far as endings go, I thought it was better than The Sopranos. And probably better than Seinfeld. I couldn’t say, I didn’t watch it. But I liked the last GoT show. Given the time restrictions, the producers did the best they could to wrap an incredibly complicated story up. You may not agree, but:

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To all of you posers who think you can do a better job than the people who have created this series, let me tell you something.

You. Can’t. 

Personally, I don’t think the ending is the real issue here. The issue is that it’s

THE END

And now all y’all are gonna have to come to grips with that and move on, as much as that is going to suck, and I’m right there with you on that point. But all things must end, eventually. Even things that you never want to see come to a close.

* * * *

Game of Thrones premiered in April of 2011. For the people who climbed on bandwagon at the beginning, they’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of intrigue, drama, and bloodshed for almost a decade. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but it feels like ten years.

That’s longer than all of the Kardashians have been married. Combined.

Those diehard original fans have marked the passage of time with the deaths of their favorite characters.

* * * *

Honey, do you know what tomorrow is?

Yeah, it’s the two year anniversary of the Red Wedding when Robb, Talisa and Catelyn Stark were killed to death by Walder Fuckin’ Frey.”

Honey! I’m serious!!

Um, what were you…thinking…it…is…

It’s our son’s birthday!!!

Oh. Yeah. That was going to be my second answer.

* * * *

The death toll in Game of Thrones has been staggering. Over 200 main and secondary characters have been killed to death as the series as progressed.

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There were less than a dozen characters whose fate hung in the balance last night. The only thing we didn’t know was who else was going to got dead.

I was positive Tyrion Lannister was going to be one of them.

Lannister. Lancaster. See what I mean?

The only reason Tyrion didn’t get fried to a crackly crunch was at right around the halfway point of the show, he  manipulated Jon Snow into killing Daenerys Targaryen for him, and for the good of all mankind, before she had time to execute him. And, Lord knows how many other thousands of people after she had completed her descent into madness.

Nothing portrayed that fall more completely than her speech to her armies after they had destroyed Kings Landing. In a scene rife with demonic imagery and Nazi pep rallies of the Third Reich, Daenerys thanked her soldiers for helping her achieve her lofty goals by killing her enemies to death, then promised them they’d get to kill a lots more people when she went to war against the tyrants who were oppressing all of the miserable people of Westeros.

And her fanatic legions cheered!

There was only one, little, insignificant detail that was missing in her objective. None of the current heads of state in Westeros could even remotely be classified as tyrants.

Daenerys’ storyline had been one of the most compelling parts of the show. She was young, beautiful, and she was on a mission.

She was going to change the world! And, reclaim the Iron Throne. And she had accomplished some pretty amazing things along the way. Those deeds cannot be discounted, nor diminished. She broke the backs of the slave traders in Essos, giving millions of people a chance at a better life.

She helped save all of Westeros by joining forces with Jon Snow to battle the Night King and his zombie army. She didn’t kill him, or destroy his army, but it wasn’t from lack of effort on her part. When Daenerys was good, she was very good. She was arguably the most popular and charismatic character in the show.

Couples started naming their daughters Daenerys. And Khaleesi, one of her many titles. Then, a couple of weeks ago, she blew a gasket and slaughtered something like unto eight hundred thousand people because she had “a little squabble” with their queen.

It’s like the old saying goes, You safely land a million airplanes, and nobody says a word. But you have one, little mid-air collision, and it’s the only thing anyone wants to talk about.

From a psychiatric standpoint, the fact that Daenerys went crazy isn’t very surprising. The greatest risk factor in mental illness is heredity. The second greatest factor is drug and alcohol use, just in cases you were wondering.

Daenerys was seriously genetically flawed. There doesn’t appear to be an accurate count of how many of her ancestors were crazy, but evidently it was way more than one. Her father was definitely insane. And her brother, Viserys, didn’t appear to be all that stable either for that matter.

Daenerys was also an orphan. Her mother died giving birth to her, and her father had been killed to death before she was born. She most likely had abandonment issues, which is a huge factor in the development of Borderline Personality Disorder. One of the hallmark signs of BPD is a distorted self image. Additionally, when under a great deal of stress, people with BPD can experience stress-induced breaks with reality or psychotic episodes.

I rest my case.

Ask any psych nurse you happen to see what their least favorite patient in the world is, and they will all tell you this: Borderlines. Another thing psych nurses will tell you is they hate getting played. And the type of person most likely to play a psych nurse? Yep. Borderlines.

Tyrant, tyrant, tyrant! Targaryens! We hates it forever!!

That’s a paraphrase of Gollum after Bilbo Baggins — you know what. Never mind.

No one wanted see Daenerys fall from grace. Such things are never pretty. It’s hard to root for someone to succeed for seven years, then have to suddenly switch gears and start hoping someone has the guts to kill her before she goes through with her plan to rid the world of tyranny by establishing herself as the world’s only tyrant.

That seems to be the greatest source of unhappiness among the GoT faithful. The fact that they got played by a bunch of Borderline writers and producers, and the great avenging angel everyone had been rooting for turned out to be the devil in disguise.

Yeah, that part really does suck. I was hoping she would get killed — she had to be stopped from her mad intent — but it still broke my heart when it happened.

* * * *

Thank you, Jon Snow. You were Lea’s favorite eye candy guy. If I still lived in Minnesota, I would totally get one of those cloaks you wore. You sucked as a military commander. You loved two women, and they both would’ve killed you if they hadn’t been killed just before they were going to kill you.

You know, maybe you should consider taking up golf…

Even so, it’s never easy to lose someone you love, so what you did to your lover and queen must’ve hurt like unto two hells.

* * * *

The rest of the show was mostly wrapping up a lots of loose ends as neatly as possible. There was a trial. Tyrion was acquitted for the third time. And named Hand of the King, also for the third time. Jon Snow also survived, making House Stark the clear winner of the Great Game to claim the Iron Throne, which ironically, doesn’t exist anymore.

Drogon melted it with dragonfire after Jon Snow stabbed Daenerys in the heart. I felt that knife blade in my chest when it happened. I think Lea cried. But I think she also decided how she wants to die. Being kissed by Kit Harrington…

* * * *

One of the burning Interweb questions is: Why didn’t the dragon kill Jon Snow after he killed the Mother of Dragons? I mean, he was standing right there! My guess is it’s  probably because the dragon read the script. But Jon is also a Targaryen, so maybe that’s why.

You know what? You’ll never know. Let it go.

* * * *

The fanatic legions of the Dragon Queen sailed back to Essos to do whatever it was that their hearts desired after their queen had been murdered. The Dothraki  probably went back to killing and butchering and raping and pillaging again. You know, all the things they enjoyed doing before they did all of those things as part of a higher purpose.

The Unsullied are probably going to take a much deserved beach vacation in Naath. I just hope they don’t wear Speedos.

* * * *

House Stark had the most surviving members of any of the great houses, four. I’ve lost count of how many of the former great houses don’t even exist anymore.

The Starks ended up with two kings and a queen. And the Westerosi version of Dora the Explorer. Safe travels, Arya. I hope you’re using Trivago®.

Bran Stark, the Broken, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, Three-Eyed Raven, and Protector of the Realm, became High King of whatever was left of Westeros. He was chosen to be King for several reasons, not the least of which was he was the only person that didn’t want the job.

It was the weirdest job interview, ever.

* * * *

You have an impressive resumé, Mr. Stark. Can you tell me why you want this job?

I…I don’t want the job. But I did travel a long way to come to this interview, just so I could tell you that. Apparently.

Great! You’re hired!

* * * *

Sansa Stark became the Queen of the Independent Kingdom of the North.

Stark. York. See? I told you.

Jon Snow was stripped of any and all titles he might have had, and was banished to Castle Black to serve out the rest of his days as a member of the Night’s Watch guarding The Wall. Again. But he gathered a group of Free Folk once he reached the castle, and headed up into the wild north where he will most likely become the King Beyond the Wall.

The Free Folk already consider him a god because he tried to save them from the Night King and the White Walkers, and was murdered for his efforts by several members of the Night’s Watch.

I told you it was complicated…

* * * *

And they all probably lived as happily as they could after losing so many people, places and things that had once been dear to them.

* * * *

THE END

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The Bells

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably noticed something. For a guy living in paradise with a supermodel wife, I tend to complain about a lots of stuff. Yeah, it’s weird, but there’s little doubt that I live the life of Riley.

Unless you’re a geezer like unto me and others in my generation, you might not have any idea what that phrase means. Basically, it means a carefree, peaceful, easy life. The phrase came into common usage around the time of World War I. And  it turns out that it probably refers to the life of a real person–Willy Reilly– who lived in Sligo, Ireland during the late 1800’s.

Yeah, who knew?

In hipster lingo this phrase most likely translates into Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesey. Possibly. I wouldn’t really know. I’m at the age where talking hip probably means you’re talking about your hip replacement.

In my defense, if I didn’t have anything to complain about, I probably wouldn’t have anything to write about. No one wants to hear about how much better your life is than theirs is all the time. And I don’t care how great your life is, mine beats yours every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Besides, complaining is a time honored pastime of retired people. It’s probably a force of habit. We did it all the time. We used to complain about our jobs, our annoying know-it-all bosses, and our fucking annoying idiot co-workers. So there’s that. Habits are hard to break.

Granted, I have less to complain about than probably anyone else I know, including my lovely supermodel wife. After all, she is married to me. I’ve stated that my sole purpose in life is to keep her happy. But I think my unstated purpose is to also drive her a little bit crazy from time to time.

There was that fan thing…

We don’t have air conditioning at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We don’t really need it. But a couple of months ago Lea decided she wanted a fan for the bedroom because the hottest month of the year in the Lakeside Area is May. She thought if we waited until May to buy a fan, there wouldn’t be any fans for sale when we needed one. That’s kind of how things work down here.

Walmart had a veritable mountain of fans available in March. All I had to do was buy one fan that would help keep the bedroom cool at night. There was nothing all that complicated about my mission. I knew which fan Lea would buy if she had done the smart thing and gone to the store herself. I even put her fan in my shopping cart. 

And then I saw it.

An industrial strength, turbo-charged fan with a hemi engine. And that’s the fan I bought. It’s a thing of beauty as far as fans go. It has three speeds: Gale Force Wind, Category 2 Hurricane, and Blown Away. I had a feeling I had made a mistake when I was assembling it. It kind of sounded like unto a jet airplane taxiing down the runway when I turned on. 

Yep. Lea hated it.

Well, it wasn’t a total loss. I moved it out to the North Wing of the patio. From there, it directs a reasonably manageable stream of air toward the South Wing of the patio. Lea spends a lots of time out there. I thought it would help cool the patio down in the heat of the afternoon. The best result has been that Lea doesn’t hate it out there.

I bought a second fan for the bedroom, the one I had originally planned on buying, and it works perfectly. I really should pay more attention to that little voice in my head that tells me when I’m about to do something stupid…

* * * *

If you’re a Game of Thrones aficionado, you’ll understand the title of this post. If you’re not, go away. You have no business being here.

Speaking only for myself, I think HBO made a huge mistake when they filmed only six episodes for the final season. There’s just too much stuff to try to distill down that quickly.

It’s like trying to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and everyone’s birthdays over one weekend. It can be done, but it’s probably not pretty.

* * * *

“Here. Open this gift.”

“What holiday is it?”

“I don’t know. I don’t even care. Look at the wrapping paper.”

“But this isn’t for me. It has someone else’s name on it!”

“Oh well, now it’s yours. Shut up and open your goddamn present, or I’ll cut you open from belly button to brisket.”

* * * *

The Bells is the title of Episode 5 of the final season. It was the climactic battle in the war for the Iron Throne, the seat of power in Westeros that everyone with a claim to has staked their lives on.

When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die. There is no middle ground.

Truer words were never spoken. The series has gone from dozens of main characters to a handful. Maybe less. Almost everyone, both good and bad, have been killed to death. Some of them more than once.

There’s one episode left, roughly eighty minutes of opportunity for the producers to kill off two or three of the remaining characters who have somehow avoided getting beheaded, stabbed, shot, executed, poisoned, assassinated, or burned to a crisp until now.

And there was plenty of that in the last episode.

There was only one small, tiny, insignificant detail. It wasn’t supposed to work out that way. It was a given that some people would have to got dead. Queen Daenerys Targaryen had assembled all of her remaining armies outside of King’s Landing, the seat of ultimate power in Westeros, to battle the armies of her remaining enemies, Queen Cercei Lannister and King Euron Greyjoy.

The Good Guys would storm the city. The Bad Guys would see that they had no hope of victory. They would surrender, lay down their arms, and ring the bells. And a whole lots of bloodshed could be avoided. That was the plan.

Queen Daenerys had always said that she wanted to change the world, to actually make it a better place. She wanted to end slavery, oppression, and tyranny. It’s the reason why everyone fell in love with her. That was her fucking mission statement!

But then a funny thing happened on her way to the top. She was betrayed multiple times, most recently by Cercei Lannister, the lying-ass bitch currently sitting on the Iron Throne. Cercei promised to send her armies north to fight against the Night King and his horde of zombie warriors.

She didn’t.

Ser Jorah Mormont, trusted counselor and body guard to Good Queen Daenerys, was indirectly killed to death by Evil Queen Cercei’s treachery when he fell during the Battle of Winterfell. To add insult to injury, Evil Queen Cercei publicly executed Good Queen Daenerys’ other trusted advisor, the sweet and beautiful Missandei of Naath. That happened right after Evil Queen Cercei and Even More Eviler King Euron killed Daenerys’ second dragon to death.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dani threatened to kill one of her few remaining advisors if he fucked up one more time. Then she had another of her advisors executed because he really fucked up one more time. And then her boyfriend told her that he loved her, but he couldn’t have sex with her anymore. Probably because he’s her nephew.

So it was a very different Daenerys that we saw Sunday night. She was more than a little emotionally unbalanced as she went into what she called The Last War. She climbed onto the back of her one remaining dragon.

And. It. Was. On.

I’ve had mixed emotions over just about every episode this season, but this one was probably the worst for me. And just about every other fan on the planet.

Daenerys single-dragonedly destroyed an entire fleet of ships and most of the sailors aboard them. She destroyed the main gates of the King’s Landing, killing most of the army defending those gates, then barbecued all of the defenders on the walls and ramparts. So much for the pivotal role the highly vaunted Golden Company would play in this story. That was probably the most disappointing part of this episode.

Once the gates had been breached, the rest of the city’s defenders surrendered. The bells started ringing…

And, Daenerys didn’t care. She and her dragon systematically destroyed the city block by block, then she destroyed the castle. Neither did most of her invading armies. They slaughtered everyone they saw. Soldier, civilian, man, woman and child.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent people died in the process.

There is some good news in this. For once, Jon Snow didn’t need to be rescued during a battle he commanded. And some very non-innocent people finally got killed to death. Euron Greyjoy, Qyburn, and The Mountain all got the deaths they needed. Cersei probably got dead, too, but maybe not. Lea thinks she somehow survived having ten tons of brick fall on her, so we’ll see. But her death was certainly not the death she deserved.

But now the big question is this: Did Daenerys simply vent a considerable amount of repressed anger and rage at her enemies when she went combustible, or did she go one step beyond batshit crazy when she ignited an entire city on the back of her fire-breathing dragon?

The producers have certainly been pushing her character in that direction, which is really disappointing. How can you trust someone who says, Trust me. I won’t kick you in balls. And then kicks you in the balls. Really hard.

If that’s the case, someone will have to kill Evil Queen Daenerys to death to ensure that she doesn’t become the one thing she started out meaning to destroy. And she would potentially be worse than any of the tyrants she threw down when she was struggling to reach the pinnacle of power. A psychobitch with PMS, and the last living dragon. And someone will probably have to kill that goddamn dragon, too.

Eighty minutes. It’s not a terribly long time. How much can happen? In this case, next Sunday night, everything is on the line. A lots of right things have to happen, and they seemingly have to happen in rapid succession. The producers only have one chance to get it right. So, you know, no pressure.

And they all lived happily ever after…

Yeah, definitely not going to happen.

Some of them lived, and it wasn’t the most ludicrous ending we’ve ever seen.

Speaking only for myself, and eighteen million other people, that seems to be the best we can hope for right now…

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part III

It was a sad week last week.

It was the eight year anniversary of my father’s death. It was also the eight year anniversary of the death of Lea’s father. He died exactly one month before my dad. Hard to believe that much time has passed by so quickly.

I lost both of my parents in May. My dad at the beginning of the month. My mom at the end of the month. It’ll be twelve years this year.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2006. Eight months later she was dead. My dad had suffered from a laundry list of ailments for years. He had stuff standing in line waiting to kill him. In the end, it was his heart. It was the only thing we didn’t expect.

I miss talking to my dad. He was a funny guy. But I miss everything about my mom.

* * * *

If you live long enough, you might reach a point where you have more friends that are dead than living. I might be there right now. It’s hard to say. I have a long list of people I knew who are no longer among the living.

One of my former patients had that happen to her. She had four great female friends. They went to school together. They stayed close even after they all got married, and had kids. And all that stuff.

They had a catchy name for themselves, but I can’t remember it anymore. They had Girl’s Night Out. Girl’s Weekend Getaways. Sometimes they took vacations together to get away from their families and decompress.

“We used to have so much fun together. And then I woke up one day, and I realized that I was the only one left. That was five years ago. I’ve been depressed ever since. Then I started drinking. I hardly leave my house now. That’s why I decided to come to the hospital. I just don’t have the energy to fight it anymore…”

* * * *

Last week, Jim Ryan passed away.

When we came here the first time to visit Phyllis, she introduced us to her circle of friends. From my perspective at the time, she was the common thread, so I called her group The Phyllistines.

There’s another name for the group. The Usual Suspects.

That’s how we met Jim and his wife, Ronni. Well, that’s how we met almost everyone we know here.

Jim was an interesting man. People who knew him better than I did might say he liked to argue. He was an attorney, so it’s what he did for a living. Arguing creates the wrong impression in my mind. Jim liked to debate.

“Hey, I ran into a friend of yours the only day.”

“Really? Which one? I have a lot of friends.”

“He was a short guy. Kinda bald. He had a camera. I think his name was Mark.”

“Yes, I know a guy who matches that description. He’s been over to our house several times. I’ve been to his house a couple of times. But are we friends? That might be open to speculation or interpretation. We don’t really know each other that well, so…  How do you define friendship?”

That conversation is a figment of my imagination, but I know this would have been true: If I somehow found myself in a situation that I couldn’t handle on my own, Jim would’ve been the first person to say, What can I do to help you, my friend.

He had also been a political lobbyist. Unlike me, when Jim talked politics, he knew what he was talking about. He was probably the only man I know that when he talked, I felt I should be taking notes.

Jim was a wise and wonderful man. He loved dogs and children. Anyone who has that on their resumé should get a warm welcome at the Pearly Gates. Jim was incredibly generous, especially when it came to children. He used to buy Christmas presents for all the children at one of the local orphanages every year. He opened the doors to his house and hosted celebrations for everyone in his neighborhood.

Jim’s health started deteriorating about a year and a half ago. He never really fully recovered once that process started, but he didn’t let it stop him. He adjusted and adapted to the things he could no longer do, and kept doing the things that he could.

In true fashion, he was pragmatic about the whole thing.

“Forty is a tough age for men. Lots of us drop dead when we hit forty. If you survive your forties, you’ll probably live to be sixty. That’s another tough age. But if you survive your sixties, you’ll probably live to be eighty. And after that, you’re just living on borrowed time.”

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I think Jim was 79. He knew that his time had come, and chose to exit with grace and dignity. As the song goes, he did it his way.

Vaya con Dios, amigo. Maybe we’ll meet again someday. I’d like that.

It’s Always Something/Siempre es Algo

Greetings from Mexico! Hope you’re all doing well, wherever you might be.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my pictures of the Chinese Mountains behind our house burning at night. Las montañas de chino are still afire, despite the best efforts of the volunteers, and the fire fighters, and the helicopter that’s been ferrying big buckets of water from the lake to douse the flames.

It’s one of the hazards of living in this part of Mexico at this time of the year. It’s incredibly dry here right now, and there are fires everywhere. But you don’t need to expend any energy worrying about our safety. There’s no way the fires could ever endanger us, even if that were their only purpose, which it isn’t. So take a deep breath. We’re going to be okay. Relax, people. But it was nice to see so many people were concerned for us.

* * * *

It occurred to me the other day that the only people who come here to visit us are somehow related to Lea. Gwen is Lea’s oldest daughter, and she’s definitely related to her mother. She’s been here twice. Our only other visitor has been Todd, Lea’s boyfriend. He’s been here four times. He just put his house in Idaho on the market so he can sell it and move down here.

And it slowly dawned on me that I don’t have any friends who miss me enough to want to visit me.

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And that includes my celebrity crush lesbian girlfriend who doesn’t even know that I exist. Well, maybe she does now. I sent her a message on the Twitter® last week.

* * * *

Wildfires have become an annual summer event in many places, maybe even where you live. Arizona used to go up in flames every year that we lived there. Parts of Southern California burn down every year. Lea’s boyfriend, Todd, says he has the same problem where he lives in Idaho. A couple of years ago, Sand Point had a worse air quality rating than Beijing, China.

Thanks to Donald Trump, we all know the solution to this problem is preventative forest raking, which Mexico apparently doesn’t do either. The government could start trucking the abuelitas sweeping the streets up into the mountains and give them rakes…  Mischief managed. Probably.

The ironic thing is this fire started out as someone’s campfire. You’d think people would know better than to light a fire in a forest when it hasn’t rained since November, but you can never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Stupidity is probably mankind’s greatest common denominator. We all do stupid stuff. Some of us are quite good at it. It has actually come to define us. To err is human. And most human errors are caused by? Yep. Stupididity.

* * * *

Another thing you might know if you follow me on Facebook is I had the best golf week of my life. I shot three consecutive sub-one hundred score rounds. And I shot a 91 on Sunday, my new personal best score. It’s something I wasn’t sure I’d ever see a couple of months ago. In fact, I was seriously contemplating giving up golf for another decade.

One of my friends actually said I was getting good! I wouldn’t go that far because golf has a tendency to humble you. Did you see/hear that, golf gods? But golf has been a lots more fun to play all of a sudden.

I’ve written about my struggle with golf multiple times. You could read all about them if you don’t have anything better to do, but to summarize, I probably spent a lots of time whining about how much I suck at golf, even though I’m a good golfer.

Normally, the incongruency of that statement would make even me scratch my head. But last week made me think that I might have been right about me, and the only explanations I have are attitude and threshold.

The attitude part is easy to explain. All you have to do is believe you can do it. That’s what I used to tell my patients. And that’s what my caddy, Francisco Flores Bernini, kept telling me. You have to be positive. You have to think you can make every shot. Once I started doing that, I consistently started shooting better shots. I still have plenty of bad shots, but I balance them with some pretty great shots. And those are a lots of fun.

Threshold is a bit more complicated. It’s something that I learned about in nursing school. It’s the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested. In other words, it’s the point or level at which something begins or changes.

It took me about two and a half years of frustration, a new set of golf clubs, a new golf bag, one pair of magic golf shoes, three new hats, a few generic golf lessons and a lots of practice at swearing in Spanish. And last week it all became worthwhile.

Now all I have to do to keep it up and keep getting more better gooder. I’m actually looking forward to it.

* * * *

I feel physically ill today.

Game of Thrones is fucking killing me, much in the same way that it has killed off just about every decent character in the series so far. And there are two more episodes to go!!

K8xRUaA

All of us that have become addicted to the show need to stop seeing the characters we’ve come to love getting killed to death, and we need to start seeing the evil motherfuckers start getting the deaths they so richly deserve. And we need to start seeing it now!

I have no idea how HBO is going to wrap the series up, but I know it’s not going to end like this: And they all lived happily ever after. That’s the one possible ending that everyone agrees doesn’t have a chance in hell of happening.

Hey, it’s not a Hallmark Christmas movie…

There are seemingly a lots of people that have become upset with direction the series has taken of late, but it doesn’t appear that has stopped any of them from watching. They’ve just been complaining about everything they don’t like on social media. It’s like unto watching a slow motion replay/review in football and noticing a penalty the referees missed. It’s not going to change the outcome.

It looks like a lots of people are going to need counseling once GoT ends. Maybe I retired too soon…  Nope. I’m good.

* * * *

Back when I was a nurse, I don’t think I ever admitted anyone because of a TV show. It’s probably the only reason. Crazy people get admitted to the hospital for pretty much any and every reason imaginable, and several that aren’t. That isn’t a lie. You could ask around if you know any psych nurses.

I remember a delusional young guy who the police had picked up and brought to the hospital because he was harassing Natalie Portman. He had somehow obtained her phone number and email address and was contacting her a thousand times a day, telling her how much he loved her.

Hmm…  I wonder how long it will take the Mexican police to show up here and take me to the nearest psychiatric hospital?

I’ve had people ask me What’s the strangest thing you saw as a psych nurse? Honestly, I don’t know anymore. It probably depended on the week. After awhile, insanity becomes hard to quantify. Like stupididity. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely write about being a psych nurse anymore.

That’s how my blog started. It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve written. Over time, my blog evolved into some kind of diary about what I do now that I’m retired. And the answer to that appears to be not much.

* * * *

A couple of things happened to me after I married my lovely supermodel wife. First, I inherited two daughters. Second, I became a home owner. Homes and yards require a lots of upkeep and maintenance. Like, raking, among other things. We redecorated the entire interior of our house. Several times.

New paint. Wallpaper. Stuff like unto that. When we finished, I said something stupid, like, Well, we’re all done with that! Lea looked me in the eye and said, “When you’re a home owner, there’s no such thing as done.” The redhead does not lie.

In other words, It’s always something. In Spanish, Siempre es algo. I don’t want to brag too much, but I’m kind of proud of my bisexual language abilities. And that saying appears to be just as true in Mexico as it was back in the States. It might even be more true here.

We don’t own a home in Mexico, but we have become the Stewards of Casa Tara, a position we’d love to keep for a very long time. At least until we die. After that, I don’t think it’ll be as important anymore.

I’ve written about most of the the improvements we made to our home when we moved in. I’ve written about most of the challenges we’ve faced since we moved in. I do have a couple of updates, just in cases you were wondering.

We have a new kitchen faucet. Again. If you’ve been keeping count, this is our fifth faucet in six months. The Terminator Faucet 2.0 was installed last week. Tacho, our general handyman guy, was impressed with it, so that’s a good sign. Lea likes it, and that’s the most important thing.

Our patio has been free of bats for about a month. No bats, no batshit. Just to keep it that way, I bought a bunch of nightlights and plugged them in on the patio. They don’t emit a lots of light, but they’re seemingly more than bright enough to keep the bats away. Mischief managed. Hopefully.

We’re still waiting for our custom curtain rods for the master bedroom. Jaime, our property manager, went down to the ironworks shop with us last week to speak to the Moron Twins in Spanish on our behalf. One of the twins said that ours was the third complaint they’d received that day about the poor quality of their work.

That’s not a huge surprise to me. They seemed to understand exactly what we wanted. Unlike us, Jaime speaks excellent Spanish. Lea even gave them another diagram and measurements of what she wanted. They seemed agreeable to try to correct the situation. At least, they said they would.

And, nothing happened.

I’m ready to move on. Lea isn’t, and Jaime is on her side. He wants these guys to do the right thing. I think there’s some pride involved in this. He doesn’t like the idea of Mexican con artists ripping anyone off. He doesn’t want any bad apples giving people the wrong idea about what Mexico is really like.

You know, like me. I purposely misrepresent some aspects of life in Mexico because I don’t want any more people moving here.

At any rate, we’re essentially in a holding pattern with this process until something yet to be determined reaches threshold…

* * * *

My KODI box died some time last week. I tried to fire it up on Sunday, and nothing happened. Well, it’s Mexico. I waited an hour and tried again. Then I tried repeatedly for another hour. It stayed dead. I unplugged it and threw it out this morning.

The best thing about the KODI box was it was hardwired to our piece of shit modem, giving it an almost acceptable download speed. I had piggybacked my Amazon Firestick to it, and given the sketchiness of our WiFi service here, both devices worked miraculously well, most of the time. 

Our WiFi goes down here almost everyday for a few hours for no apparent reason, and none of our electronic devices work. That includes all of the telephones in the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. The only reason that I haven’t gone totally ballistic about this is our WiFi eventually reboots, also for no apparent reason.

I had to reconfigure the power supply to my Firestick. On the bright side, it still works, but it’s totally dependent on our WiFi strength, which, as you probably know by now, sucks. As a result, our Firestick doesn’t work at all during times of peak usage. Like, Sunday night, when Game of Thrones airs. However, it still works quite well during non-peak hours, so there’s that.

There are two possible solutions to my problem. One is a WiFi booster. Lea actually ordered one a week ago from an electronics company here in Mexico. It was invented by a Mexican guy to solve what appears to be a pervasive Mexican problem. That device might work, if we actually receive it. Their website says it might take as long as thirty days for it to be shipped. My guess is they have to make it first…

The second solution would be to buy another KODI box. A replacement would cost about a hundred bucks, and I could get one in about a week because it’s already been built.

Lea wants me to wait for her WiFi booster, mostly because she’s already paid for it. If we ever get it, and it works, it should theoretically solve all of my problems. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I can wait. I don’t really watch TV most of the time. All I really need is background noise, so in the Big Picture, it doesn’t really matter what that is.

The only problem is I’ve already decided that I want another KODI box. There are very few things that I actually want anymore. I’ve already got almost all of them, except for more speakers for my home theater system. And the only reason I haven’t bought more of them is I’m not ready for my lovely supermodel wife to kill me in my sleep.

Another holding pattern until something else reaches threshold…

And finally, my $40,000 flashlight died. Yeah, you read that right. A forty thousand dollar flashlight. It came with my Chevy Blazer, so I figure that’s how much I paid for it. It was a Maglite, and they’re really good flashlights.

Little Known Fact About Me: I have a weakness for flashlights. I had more than a dozen of them at one time because you never know when you’ll need a flashlight. I put them everywhere around the house, you know, just in cases. Lea finally told me I had enough flashlights, and I’ve mostly quit buying them.

Flashlights, much like homes, require a fair amount of maintenance. Batteries need to be replaced regularly, and I hadn’t done any maintenance on my $40,000 flashlight since we moved to Mexico. I kept it in my car because if anything goes wrong when I’m driving at night I want to be able to see whatever it is that I’m not going to know how to fix. There’s a reason why I became a nurse and not a mechanic, and you  almost have to be a rocket surgeon to fix a fucking car nowadays.

Because I had been lax in my duties, the batteries in my Maglite had corroded and were welded inside the battery tube. And I couldn’t get them out. I even tried drilling them out before I gave up and decided the only thing to do was replace my $40,000 flashlight with another one that wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much.

I found a lots of Maglite flashlights on the Amazon Mexico website. I bought a replacement for around 700 pesos ($35.00 US), and it was delivered to our house in three days.

I call my new Maglite Lightsaber. It kind of looks like one, and it emits a beam of light that can illuminate the backyards of the houses on the other side of the golf course that runs parallel to our backyard. That sucker is bright.

I’m keeping it on the patio. If one of those fucking giant Mexican bats ever tries to attack me, I’ll be ready for it. I’ll blind it with an atomic blast of light, then I’ll hit over the head. Go ahead and laugh, but you could seriously kill someone with a Maglite flashlight if you needed to.

It’s one of the things I learned in Dental X-ray Combat Training.

GoT Real?

Hey there, sports fans!

The NFL Draft was held last week. The Minnesota Vikings drafted a lots of offensive players, especially linemen. Hopefully, that works out for them. It’s hard to win many football games if you have a porous offensive line. There are sixteen games in the regular season. I think the Vikings will be fortunate to win half of them.

I might end up being a Detroit Lions fan before the year is over…

As a guy, I tend to mark the passing of the year by sporting events. The Super Bowl. March Madness. The Masters. The Triple Crown. After that, it’s just waiting for football to start. So, if I’m already this pessimistic about my team’s chances of success, well, that’s something I’m going to have to work on. At least until they start playing and prove that they suck.

* * * *

I went golfing last Sunday with the intention of shooting my best round ever. That lasted two holes. After that, I could settle down and hope I didn’t shoot my worst round ever. But I regrouped on the back nine.

That’s another thing I’m going to have to work on…

* * * *

I’ve had a few people question my theory about Guys versus Men. I think I can best explain it this way. Bryan Baeumler has a couple of home renovation shows on HGTV. Disaster DIY and Leave it to Bryan.

In the first show, a home owner started a reno project by demolishing a room or two, then realized that they had no idea how to put it all back together, and the house sat unfinished for months, sometimes years. Those are guys.

In the second show, home owners want to renovate their house, but they hire a professional to do it for them because they know they don’t have the skills to do it themselves. Those are men.

If you’re still confused after this, there’s nothing more I can do to help you.

* * * *

The final season of Game of Thrones has reached its halfway point, and it has not disappointed. Seventeen and a half million people tuned in to watch the season premiere, a record for HBO. Two weeks later, that record was shattered when almost eighteen million viewers sat glued to their seats to watch The Long Night, the epic battle of Winterfell.

Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and the Armies of the Living faced off against the Night King, the White Walkers, and the Army of the Dead.

Everything I know about planning a battle I learned as a dental x-ray technician when I was in the Army. I think Jon Snow went to the same school of combat that I did. Prior to last Sunday, Jon had commanded two major battles. The Battle of the Bastards, and the expedition beyond the Wall to capture a wight.

* * * *

I always thought the idea to capture a zombie warrior was stupid. Until Danerys said that it was something you had to see in order to believe it. That was definitely true.

Jon Snow: “The real enemy isn’t the person sitting on the Iron Throne. It’s the Night King.”

Pretty Much Everyone Else: “And who is that, exactly?”

Jon Snow: “Remember the Snow Miser? He’s like that, except he can resurrect the dead, and he’s really good at the javelin.”

Sno

The Hound: “Shit. This guy is a fucking cunt, too.”

Pretty Much Everyone Else: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

However, once he captured a zombie warrior, Jon was able to convince his Queen/girlfriend/aunt that the threat was real, and everyone stopped wondering if he had stopped taking his Haldol.

* * * *

Back to Jon’s battles. He lost them both. I pointed this out to my wife, and she told me to shut up. She has kind of a celebrity crush on Kit Harrington.

Jon Snow was saved both times by outside interventions. The knights of the Vale rode in to save his ass at the Battle of the Bastards. Daenerys and her dragons flew in to save his ass beyond the Wall. And he was going down for the third time when Jon’s half-sister/niece saved everyone’s ass by killing the Night King, which killed his entire zombie army. And an undead dragon.

All I can say is there better be two women that are Knights of the Seven Kingdoms after this. And whose idea was it to shelter all of the women and children down in the crypts? 

Jon Snow: “We’re fighting against a magical king who can reanimate the dead as warriors in his army!”

Somebody: “Okay. We’ll send all of the women and children down into the crypts during the battle to keep them safe.”

Somebody Else: “What’s down there?”

Sansa Stark: “Nothing much. It’s a cemetery…”

Pretty Much Everyone Else: “Brilliant!”

* * * *

Sadly, several of our favorite characters didn’t survive the Battle of Winterfell, most notably Ser Jorah Momont and his cousin, Lady Lyanna Mormont.

Ser Jorah was an honorable man who did some very dishonorable things, and was trying like hell to redeem himself. He kind of reminds me of me. Except he was tall. And handsome. And a great warrior.

Lyanna Mormont was ten years old. She was maybe four feet tall, but that kid was made of Valyrian steel. She definitely made the most of her brief screen appearances. Westeros will be a lesser place without her presence.

Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised that I’m a huge GoT fan. Anyone who knows my lovely supermodel wife would be very surprised to find out that she is. But she has even been researching the series on the Interweb and listening to all of kooky theories about what happens next.

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is as good as it gets.

* * * *

One of the struggles of being retired is finding something interesting to watch on TV, especially during the day. There is seriously nothing worth watching 99% of the time. I rarely actually watch TV, even though I rarely turn it off when I’m awake. I’ve discovered that I need the noise to keep me from going crazier.

A couple of weeks ago I started watching The Good Witch, mostly out of sheer desperation. For one thing, it’s on the Hallmark Channel, so I’ve probably seen most of their Christmas movies. Another thing, it stars Catherine Bell. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen all of her Christmas movies. And there’s one more thing, I’ve kind of developed a celebrity crush on the fair Catherine.

For those of you who don’t know what this means, a celebrity crush is someone famous that you find immensely desirable/attractive/sexy and, if given the chance, would be more than happy to sleep with, or more accurately, have a lots of sex with.

As a result, I decided to do some research on my celebrity crush, you know, just in cases Catherine Bell decides she can’t live without me. And I was crushed. It seems my celebrity crush has been cheating on me. With her girlfriend. Yeah, my secret sweetheart doesn’t even like guys.

And there’s another thing. Catherine Bell is tall, like, 5′ 10″ tall. She’s a fucking Amazon Princess compared to me. If she ever tried to hug me, my face would end up

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Yep. Right about there…

Given the fact that I’m a very happily married guy, and I’d hate to lose my lovely supermodel wife to a celebrity lesbian, I’m going to hold off inviting Catherine down here to visit.

Though that hug looks like it might be a lots of fun…

Bat Out of Hell

Life is strange sometimes. Okay, life itself might not be strange, but the stuff that happens certainly can be. It’s also possible the stuff that happens after you’re no longer living could be equally strange, but no one has ever documented it.

If the concepts of reincarnation are true, then we strive to improve on our past performances until we achieve enlightenment and no longer need to improve on anything. In that case, I’d expect a fair amount of the afterlife would involve having to read How Not to Fuck Up Your Next Life–for Dummies.

* * * *

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we survived Holy Week.

According to the Bible, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a hero on Palm Sunday, and five days later the same people who had cheered for him were demanding his death.

No one has ever had such a precipitous fall from grace, except maybe Howard Dean…

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Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The timeline is so improbable that it would almost have to be classified as one of Jesus’ miracles, and possibly his greatest. Or his worst, depending on your point of view.

It never made any sense to me. The only explanation that makes sense is that the actual events took longer than a week to unfold. Probably several months. Then everything makes sense, especially the conversations between Pontius Pilate and Jesus.

I’m not sure if Pilate hated the Jews, but he certainly wasn’t the most sympathetic Roman prefect of Judea. On at least two occasions he appeared to go out of his way to antagonize the Jews, and was eventually removed from office for dealing with his subjects too harshly. The fact that he would’ve had any hesitation at all about killing Jesus is another miracle.

And yet, in all four of the Gospels, he clearly doesn’t want to execute Jesus. A timeline of several months would, at the very least, give Pilate the opportunity to meet with Jesus more than once, probably after he had Jesus imprisoned. By all accounts, Jesus was a very charismatic guy. It’s not inconceivable that Pilate found himself liking the preacher from  Galilee. So much so that by the time this scenario had reached its climax, Jesus had become the only Jew Pilate didn’t want to kill.

Yeah, I know. It’s all speculation.

Some of you might say, You know, for a guy who claims to be a Christian, you spend a lots of time questioning everything you’re supposed to believe.

Yeah, I do. But then, I used to believe in American democracy, too.

* * * *

The cicadas have started singing their strident songs. In the Lakeside Area, cicadas are called chicharros (waterbirds) because the rains generally start a few weeks after they start singing. And I found a tree frog on the patio last night. Another sign of the rainy season.

The rains will be nice. They’ll knock all of the dust and pollen out of the air, and that should lessen our allergy symptoms. Maybe.

But it will also make the velcro grass grow thicker at the golf course, and that’s not good for my score.

* * * *

A lots of people that retire here do a lots of research about the Lakeside Area before they uproot and relocate. The good thing is that there’s a plethora of information available on the Interweb. I’m going to guess that most of the articles accentuate the positive. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read any of them.

I doubt there are many articles that mention the flying buffalo ants. And I know there aren’t any articles about the flying scorpion spiders. Another thing you won’t find much information about are the bats.

The Spanish word for bat is murciélago. There are a lots of bats in Mexico. I won’t go so far to say that I’m afraid of bats, but they do kind of give me the willies. The little flying mice bats that eat insects aren’t so bad. It’s the larger, flying rat bats that eat fruit that freak me the fuck out.

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Admit it. You thought I was was making this up, didn’t you.

Oddly enough, the most common fruit bat in Mexico is the Jamaican Fruit Bat. We had encountered these bats at our first house. They drank all of the nectar out of Lea’s hummingbird feeders. Retrieving her feeders with a herd of flying bats swooping around my head wasn’t a pleasant experience.

When a fruit bat finds a ripe and desirable fruit, it swoops in and plucks it from the tree, then it flies to a temporary dining roost to eat.

There is at least one desirable fruit tree growing on the hillside of the golf course just below our backyard, and there’s also a very desirable temporary dining roost near that tree. That place is our spacious patio. At night, our spacious patio probably looks just like a cave, which is no doubt very inviting to a hungry bat.

Bats are voracious eaters, so our patio floor looked like unto a disaster area in the mornings when we first moved here. Little Known Fact About Fruit Bats: they can digest an entire meal in about fifteen minutes. Any guesses about what else bats are really good at?

Yep. They shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Bat shit is slang for someone one step beyond totally crazy. Guano is the technical term for bat excrement, which is highly desirable as a fertilizer. If the bats only shit  in our yard, I’d probably love them. But they’ve been shitting on our patio walls, and I really don’t love that.

Our walls are white. Well, they were white. Now they’re white with greenish brown streaks and spots, or white with pink streaks and spots. It’s not a great color combination.

I don’t know how long the bats have been using our patio as a restaurant/restroom, but it’s clearly been going on for a while. I tried washing the walls. Guano is some tenacious shit. It doesn’t wash off easily, and some of it doesn’t wash off at all.

I have no intention of trying to kill all of the fruit bats in the Lakeside Area, though that would certainly solve the problem of them crapping in our patio. And that’s the first step I encountered in trying to solve this problem. Cleaning the walls doesn’t accomplish anything if the bats just come back and crap on the walls again.

So, how does one get rid of bats without killing them? No one seemed to know. We did have an exterminator come over and spray the patio with something non-lethal, but noxious to bats. It didn’t work. I set up a sonic blaster device. It was supposed to emit frequencies the bats wouldn’t like and they’d stop dining in our patio. That didn’t work either.

We usually go to bed around 10:00 PM, give or take. There are no bats on the patio when we call it a day. Lea sometimes has trouble sleeping. On those occasions she likes to sit out on the patio, except the fucking bats freaked her out, too. It seemed that peak dining hours for bats were between midnight and 2:00 AM. I usually don’t have any trouble sleeping, but I’ve been on the patio at 3:00 AM, and there were no bats.

It might have been a month ago, maybe. Lea went to bed, but I stayed up. I was probably writing one of my blog posts…  At any rate, I finished some time around midnight, and I went to check on the world before I went to bed. And there were no bats on the patio. Not even one.

Hmm. Why do you suppose that is? I wondered. And then it occurred to me that the lights in the living room were still on, and maybe that’s why there were no bats…

We’ve been leaving some of living room lights on at night for the past couple of weeks. No bats! They’re apparently very sensitive to light. It makes sense. The fruit they eat doesn’t look that appetizing to me, and the bats themselves are butt-ugly. Darkness is their only friend.

Having accidentally figured out how to discourage the bats, the only thing that remained was getting rid of the Technicolor® walls of our patio. Simple! I’ll get some white paint. But there’s something like unto three hundred shades of white. Not so simple.

In the States, you can bring in a color sample and it can be computer matched. In Mexico, you can guess which shade is the closest and hope you’re not too wrong. I suck at this kind of thing, but Lea is a supermodel, and she is spooky.

She picked out a shade that wasn’t exactly the same as the paint on our walls, but it’s so close that you barely notice the difference. Most of the guano stains have disappeared, but some of them are still visible after three coats of paint. If only our walls weren’t white…

I told you that shit was tenacious.

* * * *

There’s one other bat in Mexico.  El Pinche Murciélago Gigante! That’s right, Cupcake. The Fucking Giant Bat of Mexico. They probably live in the Lakeside Area. There’s some really big caves here.

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You thought I was making this up too, didn’t you.

The Giant Bat is probably about the size of a Labrador. Maybe larger. Some of them have interbred with chupacabras, resulting in something like unto the closest thing to an actual vampire you’d ever want to meet. Not the cute vampires from Hollywood that make women cream their jeans. These are savage bloodthirsty monsters that will make you shit your pants.

As for what it eats, I’m guessing it eats anything it wants. Cats, dogs, kids. Volkswagen Beetles. And they’re particularly fond of tourists. If we can tell who the tourists are, there’s no reason to think the bats can’t.

So, just remember that the next time you’re planning a vacation to Lake Chapala. It could be the last vacation you ever take.

To Serve and Protect

In my last post I mentioned that we haven’t had any major issues to deal with here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. And the next day the temporary faucet in our kitchen exploded and flooded the floor.

Thank God for tile floors.

Tacho, our general handyman guy, came over Saturday morning and installed a new temporary faucet. According to Jaime Mendoza, our property manager, our new permanent faucet is supposed to be installed on Wednesday.

We’ll see how that goes. It’s Holy Week, and not a lot gets done here this time of year.

Easter in Mexico is vastly different than Easter in the United States. In Mexico, Easter is when everyone goes to the beach. Except for the people that come here. Something like unto twenty thousand people will start flocking into the Lakeside Area today, and will be here through the weekend.

Unlike the United States, you can’t find an Easter basket in any of the stores here. I’ve looked. Only Halloween surpasses Easter in terms of candy sales in the US. But in Mexico, there are no jelly bean eggs, no chocolate bunnies. There will be no manic hunts for brightly colored Easter eggs by sugar-charged children on Sunday morning.

Just sun, bikinis, sand, and beer, and possibly beach volleyball. From my point of view, it beats the heck out of hard boiled eggs.

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Happy Easter Bunnies!!!!

I’ve never celebrated Mexican Easter before, but given my affection for bikini clad females, I’m starting to think I might be missing out on something.

Easter is the most Christian holiday there is, but American Easter traditions have next to nothing to do with Christianity. The Egg Thing and the Bunny Thing are rooted in Pagan traditions, not Christian. It’d be cool if they came from Scotland, but I can’t find any evidence to support that.

* * * *

The other major issue we’re facing here involves curtain rods for the master bedroom. We chose a local ironworks shop to make them for us. The old guy who runs it is an artist. We’ve purchased some of his stuff before, and were very pleased with our acquisitions.

However, when we took Lea’s measurements and designs to the shop, the old guy had one of his arms in a cast, and it appeared the business was being run by a couple of kids that I have named the Moron Twins. There’s a reason for that.

One of the kids looked at Lea’s designs, and he seemed to understand what we wanted. Lea suggested that he come to the house and make his own measurements, which he did. Last Friday, he delivered our three custom curtain rods, and none of them were the correct size. In addition, he had added finials that looked like mutant insect antennae. Lea hated them.

The kid said someone would come to our house the next day, Saturday, to install them. Yeah, that didn’t happen. We went back to the shop on Monday with a new set of measurements and designs. Lea handled most of the transaction in Spanish, which was impressive. Once again, the kid seemed to understand exactly what Lea wanted. He even showed her that he had the finials Lea wanted in his shop.

We thought we had sorted that problem out. Later that afternoon, the other moron twin arrived at our house to install the curtain rods we didn’t want installed. 

As of right now, we still have the incorrect curtain rods stored on the far end of the patio. We have no idea when, or even if, we’ll receive our new curtain rods. I’m planning on asking Jaime to go down to the ironworks shop to advocate for us when he delivers our new kitchen faucet, possibly later today. More likely next week…

* * * *

We watched the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones Sunday night. My long list of horrible people who need to got dead has shortened considerably because most of them have been killed to death already. Those who remain are Ser Gregor Clegane, Cercei Lannister, Euron Greyjoy, Qyburn, and the Night King.

It’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out. And how many of my favorite characters will get killed to death in the process. Then I’ll be depressed until Hallmark starts playing Christmas movies again. But long before then my lovely supermodel wife will have to tell me to grow up or she’ll really give me something to cry about. I haven’t seen Captain Marvel yet, or The Avengers: Endgame. So I still have something to live for.

* * * *

For those of you who are wondering how my golf game is going, it still mostly sucks. I attribute part of that to seasonal allergies, high pollen counts, and dust. The Rainy Season won’t begin for a couple of months, so those conditions are likely to increase in intensity until then. The rains start around the middle of June, followed by the invasions of the Flying Buffalo Ants and the Flying Scorpion Spiders.

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Eek! Hideous monster bugs!!

If you’re freaked out by giant, poisonous insects, you’ll hate it here, so you should probably just stay at home and not even think about visiting here. And you sure as hell won’t want to move here.

But I did beat Cheryl last Sunday.

I golf at least every Sunday with my golf wife, Phyllis, and Tom and Cheryl. Cheryl is a very good golfer. She was the reigning Woman’s Champion at the country club we’re all members of.

It’s been a goal of mine to beat Madame Champion at least once before I get dead, but I’m not sure this one actually counts. Cheryl messed up her hip on the third hole. By the time we hit the back nine, she was way off her game.

I ended up beating her by one stroke, the same margin of victory Tiger Woods had at the Masters®. Now that I’ve kinda beat Cheryl, I need to beat her when she’s having a good day. Then it’ll be real.

* * * *

Our purebred Mexican street kit-tens, Mika and Mollie, are about eight months old now. They rule our house, and they know it.

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They’re no longer little, which is kind of sad. They were so darlingpreshadorbs! They were a laugh riot with their antics. They’re still entertaining, but in different ways now.

They’ve developed very distinct personalities. Mika is a fearless tomboy, always looking for some mischief to get into. She’s our Arya Stark kit-ten. Mollie is a Sansa Stark kit-ten. She’s more of a lady, unless you drop an ice cube. And she’s more of a lover, especially at night. She always snuggles with us when she comes to bed and hugs us goodnight. It’s one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.

They are easily the two most finicky felines on the planet. I had to buy two more litter boxes because the two they already had just weren’t enough.

Lea used to go to every pet shop in the Lakeside Area, plus the Petco® in Guadalajara just to find the canned food they liked, until they stopped eating it altogether. They don’t like people food. Whoever heard of a cat that won’t eat chicken? Or pork chops? They only eat kibble, and they eat plenty of that. Hence, the need for more litter boxes.

I remember the day we brought them home and first time they pooped in the litter box. I was so proud of them! Yeah, I’ve pretty much gotten over that by now.

Little did we know when adopted our rescue kit-tens that they would become service animals, but they are. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

They’re kind of like unto psych nurses, except people actually like service animals.

Probably the most familiar service animals are guide dogs for the blind. Evidence suggests they’ve been around since the Roman Empire. Around the 1990’s, people started training service dogs to help with a wide range of disabilities. Various species of dogs were trained to assist children and adults with autism, people with diabetes, veterans and others suffering from PTSD, and a plethora of other disorders.

Unlike every other service animal on the planet, our kit-tens didn’t require any special training because they evidently already know everything. There’s some dispute about just how much service they actually provide, but that hasn’t stopped them from poking their noses into everything we do.

No matter what we’re doing in the bathroom, the kit-tens have to be there. To be truthful, I’m not sure they’re all that interested in what we’re doing. It’s more of their fascination with running water. They think it’s the coolest thing, ever.

Mika and Mollie help me floss every day. Okay, all they do is play with the dangling end of my dental floss. Whenever I shave, Mika practically climbs on my shoulders for a closer look. Neither Lea nor I can take a shower without the supervision of our service kit-tens. I’m no longer sure how we survived without them.

Lea can’t cook a meal without the kit-tens’ assistance. They climb inside of the cabinets to help her find pots and pans. They help her with recipes by sitting on her cookbook when she’s trying to read it. And they play with the water in the sink.

Oddly enough, the only time our kit-tens don’t like water is when I give them baths. I have the scars to prove it. I’ve thought about tossing them into the swimming pool the next time I want to bathe them, but I’m pretty sure Lea would kill me if I did, so I probably won’t try that.

It’s not just us, Mika and Mollie supervise everyone that comes inside of our house. They help our maid, Monica, sweep the floors. Okay, mostly they attack her broom and scatter everything she’s already swept up. When Tacho installed our new temporary faucet, the kit-tens sat on his chest to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes.

I assume that they would be equally helpful if anyone ever broke into our home. I’m not sure they’d actually attack anyone, unless they were barefoot. They would certainly come running to rub against the shins of any burglar, and he might trip while he was sneaking off with our stuff. But their most effective defense would be if a potential thief had an allergic reaction to cats.

I’ve thought about getting them official service animal vests, but I’m not sure I’d survive putting them on our ferocious, not-so-little kit-tens. We’ve started trimming their needle sharp talons of death about every two weeks, out of sheer necessity.

Neither of them are especially fond of being held, so I can only imagine their reactions to being dressed in cute service outfits. I’d probably end up looking like I had tried juggling chainsaws.

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Yeah, not the best idea I’ve ever had…

Well, that’s about it from here for this week. We hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Easter weekend. And that you find the perfect summer bikini.

The Glamorous Life

It’s been a quiet week here in the Lakeside Area. Most of the weeks are quiet here. It’s kind of a bucolic place. That’s probably why so many people decide to retire here. However, it is Mexico. And it comes to celebrating just about anything, the locals don’t take a backseat to anyone.

Holy Week, Semana Santa, is coming up. Ajijic hosts a passion play every year. I hear it’s very good. You could check it out if you’re interested. Just in cases you don’t know what a passion play is, it’s a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering, death, and resurrection. It’s a very Catholic tradition. Mexico is a very Catholic country.

During Holy Week, the Lakeside Area is going to be packed with tapatios, pilgrims, and tourists, which is why I’ll be at home. There’ll be the passion play, and bands playing at the bars and los eventos, and the eruption of cohetes will fill the air.

Tapatío, in general terms, is a colloquial Mexican term for someone from Guadalajara. In more specific Lakeside terms, it’s someone from Guadalajara who comes down here to escape from the Big City for the weekend.

We used to do something similar when lived in the States. When we lived in Minneapolis, we’d go up to the North Shore. It’s still my favorite place on Earth. When we lived in Phoenix, we’d go up into the mountains to Prescott or Payson.

Urban living certainly has its advantages. Jobs. Entertainment. Shopping malls. Fine dining. Paved roads. It also has it disadvantages. Air pollution. Traffic jams. Crime. Mostly, all of the other fucking people that also live there. The population of Guadalajara is around seven million people. If you lived there, you’d want to get the hell out of there, too.

* * * *

We go to Guadalajara every couple of months to shop at Costco. Or the high end malls. It’s an adventure every time, mostly because of the traffic. Guadalajara was a little town that became a huge city with little to no civic planning. If you live there, you’ll eventually learn your way around. If you don’t, you hire a driver, or you have to depend on GPS to get from Point A to Point B. You are not going to just drive around and hope you find what you’re looking for.

We’ve lived in big cities before. We’re not daunted by traffic. And we have a system. Lea drives and I navigate. I’m a better navigator than she is. And Lea loves to drive. She’d probably love it more if she still had her sportscar. But the roads here make a vehicle like that impractical. And you can’t load a lots of stuff into a 370z.

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Our current vehicle is a Buick Encore. I’ll probably keep it for a couple more years, then get an Audi Q3. I’ll have to get rid of my American plated car and buy a Mexican plated car at that time. The Audi Q3 isn’t a sportscar, but it’ll still be a lots fun for Lea to drive. And it has a great stereo system, which is the only thing I care about when it comes to cars.

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I actually bought a car once because of the stereo. I didn’t even take it for a test drive. I played with the radio for a couple of minutes without ever leaving the sales lot. I told the salesman to write it up, I’d take it.

“Don’t you want to take it for a test drive?” he asked, a bit dumbfounded.

“No. I want to drive it to work. Today. My shift starts at 3:00. You have two hours. You better get busy or you’re going to miss a sale.”

* * * *

I still have no idea what I’m going to write about. Maybe this will end up being a general update on our glamorous retirement lives…

We haven’t had to deal with any major issues at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa lately. Jaime says he’s still looking for a replacement faucet for the kitchen, but the longer this goes on the more I think he’s decided he’s decided he can live with our temporary faucet, too.

It’s not a big deal. We love it here. The most annoying thing about living here revolves around our satellite TV service and the download speed for our Interweb service.

As I’ve said before, we don’t actually watch a lots of TV, but we almost always have the TV on for background noise. Silence might be golden to some people, but it drives me crazy. After thirty years as a psych nurse, I’m accustomed to noise. The absence of noise disturbs me greatly.

Wow. I can’t believe I just said that. I don’t think I had realized how much I hate silence until now.

We have Shaw Direct for our satellite TV. Shaw is a Canadian company. We had next to no problems with them at our last house. Here, our satellite feed seems to be somewhat sketchy at times. Again, not a huge deal. I’ve become very skilled at rebooting our PVR box.

If there’s one thing that seems to drive all ex-pats crazy, it’s a slow Interweb connection. Hey, we’re spoiled. We didn’t have this issue before we moved here. There aren’t a lots of options when it comes to this suddenly vital service. Basically, you can go with Telmex® or Telecable®. Compared to speed-of-light fiber optic cable, they both suck. And neither of them seem to care.

Telmex® is essentially the Mexican version of the American communications giant, AT&T, before it was broken up into a bunch of smaller companies. Telmex® is a telecommunication monster down here. It owns eighty percent of the telephone lines in the country.

We had Telmex® service at our last house. I guess it was okay most of the time, though we consistently had issues whenever we wanted to stream movies through our KODI box.

We have Telecable® at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. I wasn’t enamored with our service when we first moved in. So I tried calling the office, and that’s when I discovered there isn’t an office phone. You actually can’t call the office unless you have the cellphone number of one of the service reps, and I doubt they give their numbers out to anyone.

On their website Telecable® lists two levels of service available in the Lakeside Area: 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps. So I went down to the office to talk to one of their service representatives about upgrading my package. That’s when I met Carmen and Marisol. And I wasn’t quite so pissed off anymore. Okay, they’re young, and beautiful. And they have really big eyes. And nice smiles.

Carmen said yes, I could upgrade my package, except for one small detail. They only offer 5 Mbps in the Lakeside Area. I’d have to live in Guadalajara to qualify for the 10 Mbps service.

There is a fiber optic cable company that is getting started in Lakeside. ILOX started running lines in specific areas late last year. I have no idea when there service will be available here. Maybe I’ll wander into their office one of these days, except I doubt their service reps will be as attractive as Carmen and Marisol…

Given the limitations of available Interweb service, and the sudden sketchiness of our satellite service, we talked to one of our friends, Donald Stordahl. Donald has a streaming TV service here in the Lakeside Area. We rented one of his boxes for a month, and then I remembered I already had two streaming devices, and they were already paid for. I hooked them up and gave Donald his box back.

And everything was great until I blew up my Amazon Firestick. I had tried to download the latest update, and after that it wouldn’t work. I have no idea what went wrong, I only knew that I felt like I accidentally hit that red LAUNCH button, and there was nothing I could do to stop the missiles.

Seeing how I couldn’t repair my Firestick, I decided to buy another one, you know, eventually. But then Donald bought a used Firestick and asked me if I wanted it, seeing how I had just destroyed mine. He seems to be a pretty savvy businessman, from my perspective.

My previous Firestick had been jailbroken. The one I bought from Donald wasn’t, so I channeled my inner Millennial, and went online to learn how to do stuff.

There are a lots of online tutorials about tweaking your Firestick. I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to do this, given that I’d just destroyed my last Firestick by trying to update it. But all you have to do is follow the step-by-step instructions, and I’ll be damned, it worked!

I’ll tell ya what, I was pretty goddamn proud of myself for a couple of days there. I successfully downloaded and installed the most recent KODI app, and the Mobdro app. Then I got my lovely supermodel wife addicted to Game of Thrones, and the rest is history.

* * * *

The final season of Game of Thrones airs this Sunday. Like every other fan, Lea and I have been speculating about who’s going to win the Great Game and sit on the Iron Throne. I don’t care who it is, just as long as it isn’t Cercei Lannister. She needs to got dead, soon.

Will the Golden Company help her maintain her grip on the reins of power, or will they break a contract for the first time ever and go fight against the Night King and his army from Hell? And how many of my favorite characters are going to get killed to death…

How are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen going to defeat an army of animated dead warriors, White Walkers, and a zombie dragon? And what will they do when they discover that they’re related? Will Jon freak out when he finds out he’s been having sex with his aunt?

Who will kill The Mountain? What the hell is a Three-eyed Raven, and what sort of spooky superpowers does Bran Stark really have?

The good news is we’ll all find out soon. Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.

Ship of Fools

Good morning, faithful reader. It’s another disgustingly beautiful day here in the Lakeside Area. Spring has sprung. I’ve been working in our gardens planting flowers and stuff.

Little Known Fact About My Lovely Supermodel Wife: Lea loves gardens. And Another Little Known Fact About My Lovely Supermodel Wife: Lea hates to garden.

As a result, I’ve kind of become a gardening guy. It’s one of the many services I provide to keep my wife happy. Studies have shown that if your spouse is happy, they are much less likely to try to kill you. Or hire someone else to kill you. I’ve watched enough murder mysteries to know that it’s always the spouse.

The temperature here is in the mid-80’s. It’s the peak of the Dry Season, so it’s also the peak of Allergy Season.

The jacaranda trees are all in bloom.

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See? They really are pretty!

While they’re incredibly beautiful to see, they also produce a type of pollen that effects almost everyone down here.

A lots of people suffer from seasonal allergies. Sneezing. Runny nose. Sinus congestion. Scratchy throat. Watery eyes. Sound familiar? Seasonal allergies are rarely fatal, but they can make you miserable enough to make you wish you’d get dead.

Possible Little Known Fact About Allergies: you can develop an allergy to practically anything at any time. Once you have an allergy to something, you’ll probably have it for the rest of your life.

If you don’t have any allergies now, you might have something to look forward to…

* * * *

It’s April Fools’ Day! Just in cases you were wondering, this day is an annual worldwide celebration of playing practical jokes on each other and spreading hoaxes.

As someone posted on Twitter the other day, Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me fourteen times, you’re Gonzaga.

Back when I was a psych nurse, I once started a new job on April 1st. It might have been the longest day of my life. I got pranked all day. By the time my shift was over, I pretty much hated all of my new coworkers. It was a new hospital. New policies and procedures. And psych nurses tend to have a twisted sense of humor. Some of them even enlisted the help of their patients.

The only good thing about that was they didn’t have any of their patients stick anything up their asses. That’s not something psych nurses usually have to ask their patients to do. It’s something they’ll do all by themselves.

* * * *

“I need a new bottle of shampoo.”

“What happened to your old bottle of shampoo?”

“It’s up my ass.”

“How did it get there?”

“I sat on it. Accidentally.”

It’s always an accident because things just naturally tend to slide up into your ass when you sit on them.

* * * *

April 1st is a common day for companies to get in on the fun and pull their own brand of special pranks. Among the most famous were Taco Bell claiming they had purchased the naming rights to the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. Amazon claiming it had invented the Petlexa to allow pet owners to communicate with their animals. Burger King unveiled the Chocolate Whopper. And the Left-handed Whopper.

Perhaps the greatest April Fools’ joke in history was pulled off by the BBC in 1957. It ran a report on one of its current affairs programs, Panorama, about a bumper crop of spaghetti being grown on trees in Switzerland. The film showed women plucking strands of cooked spaghetti off of branches. Voiced by respected British news anchor Richard Dimbleby, it was so convincing the BBC received calls from viewers weeks later asking how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.

As Abraham Lincoln said after watching the show, “You can’t believe everything you see on TV.”

* * * *

The origins of April Fools’ Day are somewhat murky–

Oh, man! Are you going to give us another history lesson, Herodotus?

Yes, I am. And if I weren’t already writing this, I’d suggest that you take notes.

Some historians believe the April Fools’ customs began in France. New Year’s Day used to be celebrated on April 1st until the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 1500’s, and the new year started on January 1st. The people who still celebrated the new year on April 1st in France were called April Fools.

Also in France, April 1st is called Poisson d’Avril, or, April Fish. French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs. The origin of the fish thing is pretty much a mystery, but I guess the French must think that fish are stupid.

Other historians believe that April Fools’ customs began during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine–1200 years earlier–when a group of court jesters and fools told their ruler that they could do a better job of running the empire than he did. Fortunately for them, Constantine was amused and allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

In Scotland, April Fools’ lasts two days!! Victims of pranks are called gowks (cuckoo birds). The second day is known as Taily Day, and pranks involving the backside are played. Supposedly, it is the origin of Kick Me signs.

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Thank you for that, Scotland

At least they don’t lift your kilt…

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Oh. Never mind. You owe me two beers, ya great gowk!

Whatever the truth might be, April Fools’ Day pranks have been around for a while. You know, in the same way that stupid people have. If I were able to choose one day to celebrate the stupidity of people, I would’ve chosen Election Day.

Mexico celebrates April Fools’ Day on December 28th, the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. Día de los Santos Inocentes commemorates the biblical story of King Herod’s order to execute all of male infants in Bethlehem to kill baby Jesus, the prophesized King of Kings. Herod wasn’t in the mood to be removed from his throne, and seeing how all babies tend to look alike, he had all of the competition murdered. You know, to decrease the odds that he had the wrong kid killed to death.

In Mexico, on December 28th, people play jokes and pranks to trick friends and family. The media also gets involved by reporting false news stories. When somebody falls for the false news or prank they say, “Inocente palomita que te dejaste engañar hoy por ser dia 28 en nadie debes confiar.”  

Roughly translated, “Neener, neener, you’re a weiner and only a fool would trust you.”

They tie a dead, bloated fish to your back, lift up your serape, and kick you in the cojones. Then they beat you with tree branches until the dead fish explodes. If you’re still conscious by this time, you get to drink a shot of tequila. If not, you’re left laying in the street to die.

April Fools!!

The Law of the Land

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, like, a state, or a nation. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. A government can be classified into many types–democracy, republic, monarchy, and dictatorship.

There are a few more, but you get the idea.

The original concept of government, I think, was to improve the lives of the majority of the people it governed. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t alive before the existence of any type of government. However, I can surmise that before any government was established, anarchy had to be the law of the land. Because anarchy tended to augment misery for the many, the need for control and order was of great value. 

Any government essentially creates and enforces the laws of whichever land it oversees. And sometimes those laws are humorous.

Did you know that in Scotland it’s illegal to wear underwear under your kilt? The fine is two beers, which is probably worse than the death penalty over there. Also in Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and asks to use the bathroom, you are required by law to let them in. I’m not sure what the penalty for non-compliance is. Possibly having to pick up poop in your front yard…

In Switzerland, it’s illegal to flush the toilet after 10:00 PM.

Did you know that whaling is illegal in Oklahoma? I didn’t, and used to live there. The interesting thing is Oklahoma is landlocked, and there hasn’t been a saltwater sea in Oklahoma for over 500 million years.

In China, it’s illegal for Buddhist monks to reincarnate without the express approval of the government. In Britain, it’s illegal to die in the House of Parliament.

Theoretically, government started out as a good thing. You know, like, the Interweb. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a return to anarchy. I think government is a good thing most of the time, except when it isn’t. And then it’s a huge pain in the ass.

I’ve pondered the vicissitudes of government many times in my life. My latest post made me start pondering them anew. My last blog installment was more or less about monarchies and a few crazy monarchs. And stuff…

No one knows who the first king was, but monarchies have been around for over four thousand years. The biggest flaw in the monarchical system was that monarchies tended to be hereditary.

Rulership was handed down from father to son, or sometimes to a daughter. And there was a simple reason for that. It was good to be the king, and even if it wasn’t, it was still way better than being a peasant.

To make it even more binding, one brilliant monarch came up with this idea: The Divine Right of Kings. It’s a concept asserting that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God

Remember the Middle Ages? Fuedalism?

Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. And evidently, blessed by God.

The classic version of feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.

A lord was, in broad terms, a noble who held land. A vassal was a person who was granted possession of the land by the lord. The land was known as a fief. In exchange for the use of the fief and protection by the lord, the vassal would provide some sort of service to the lord.

Grow crops. Raise livestock. Suck his cock. Maybe all three. Whatever. There was no such thing as rent control back then. Whatever their lord demanded as payment, the vassals had to pay. If they refused, they’d be fortunate to simply be removed from their land. They’d probably get their heads chopped off.

That was the law of land for centuries. It stayed that way mostly because the peasants were illiterate and uneducated. It wasn’t until the emergence of an educated middle class that things started changing.

Educated people were the death of the monarchies. It wasn’t that uneducated people didn’t ask questions. It was more of a case that educated people asked the right questions. When the profound answers no longer made any sense to the people asking the simple questions, they began to organize their opposition.

Eventually, there were riots and revolutions all across the planet. Thousands of people got dead. In the end, the monarchies were replaced by more democratic forms of government. Leaders were elected by the people, not chosen by God.

Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The people overthrew the repressive royal regimes to get more freedom, and eventually their elected officials slowly took away one freedom at a time. Once a freedom has been taken away, it rarely gets reinstated.

The only thing I can think of is the repeal of Prohibition. Most likely because the politicians were tired of not being able to get drunk, too.

Over time, those elected officials have started living like unto kings. The adage really is true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Nowadays, career politicians tend to be so insulated from the people they’re supposed to serve that they don’t have any idea of what real life is like.

The most urgent prayer of every member of Congress is that term limits aren’t forced on them by the American public. Then they’d have to get real jobs and work for a living like the rest of us. And as we all know, that can really suck.

* * * *

There’s one form of government that I haven’t mentioned.

Theocracy.

It’s defined as a form of government in which a religious institution is the source of all authority. Technically, that would be a church on this planet, and I imagine all of the administrators would all be priests. Or, even worse, nuns.

I’m sure this sort of political system has existed on this very planet, and failed. Probably for the same reasons monarchies did. Some priests and ministers and nuns had a tendency to be off of their fucking rockers, too.

Ever heard of Pat Robertson? He’s an American conservative televangelist. He more or less runs the Christian Broadcasting Network. And he’s kind of famous for saying some outrageous things. You could look them up. There’s a lots of them.

I can’t find the exact quote, but he said something like unto this: Atheism is bad because it teaches you to think for yourself, and not trust in the words of God. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most resounding endorsement for atheism, ever.

Again, I’m not advocating a government run by priests. If I wanted that, I could convert to Islam and move to Iran. Those guys seem happy over there…  What I’m trying to talk about is a government directly administered by God.

Yeah, that God.

I’ve written about my belief that the only reason God is interested in this planet is because He intends to establish His government here with us as His people. You could look it up if you’re curious. Why else would He need a king? In this scenario, Jesus would essentially be a supernatural alien version of William the Conqueror, minus the French accent.

I’m still not sure why He wants to do this. There’s that whole perfect world theory, but seeing how none of us have ever lived in a perfect world, it’s not something any of us would reasonably expect as a condition of life. But that’s what God says His purpose is. I think it’s similar to what Donald Trump wanted to do when he decided he needed to make America great again. 

The Donald has presented himself as probably the smartest person, ever. And certainly the most successful President. However, he’s consistently failed to provide any specifics beyond needing a Great Border Wall to accomplish his purpose.

Much like unto The Donald, God doesn’t have much to say about how He’s going to accomplish His purpose either.

I’ve learned to accept that from God. He has always presented Himself as being mystical and magical. Being secretive is part of His nature. However, if He can’t be transparent about His motives, can God be absolutely trustworthy? And He hasn’t had a perfect record in picking Kings, so there’s that.

* * * *

In my previous post about God’s theocracy, I speculated that if God ever acted on His purpose to establish His government, I doubted there’d be anything we could do to stop Him. God isn’t who and what He is because we voted for Him. If He did in fact create the world, He more than likely possesses the power to also destroy it.

I used to believe that I would be alive to see this happen. The longer I live, the less likely it seems.  Given the fact that things are most likely going to have to get a helluva worse before God sees any need to step in and fix stuff, it’s probably not the worst thing.

Game of Thrones

I’ve been staring at this blank page for about an hour.

Well, the good news is that it’s no longer blank.

* * * *

There’s more good news. Our refrigerator has been repaired! The LG service crew replaced the compressor and reset the ice maker last Tuesday. It looks like that saga has come to a satisfactory end. Lea is pleased and as any married guy knows, if your wife is happy, it’s the only thing that matters.

* * * *

It took about five seasons of binge watching on my part, but I finally got Lea hooked on Game of Thrones. Just in cases you don’t know what I’m talking about, Game of Thrones is a TV adaptation of several epic fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin.

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Yeah, he’s a weird looking guy

I joined a GoT Facebook page, which I immediately regretted doing. It wasn’t just the stupid commentary this time. These fanatic fans seem to be in a serious need of actual lives. They. Are. Fuckin’. Out. There. I’ll probably leave the group when I finish writing this post.

Facebook is full of those quizzes, like, Which GoT character are you? I’ve never taken one of these quizzes, but if I had to pick a character, it’d be Tyrion Lannister.

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He’s mostly terrible at fighting. He’s a short, quick-witted smartass, and he drinks and knows stuff. Except for the drinking part, he’s totally me.

The GoT story takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in a setting that very much resembles the Middle Ages of our Earth. While the story contains common fantasy elements, such as swordplay, magic, and dragons, those elements are somewhat downplayed in favor of political intrigue and human drama in a struggle to sit upon the Iron Throne.

You don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter plots and schemes to sit on the high throne. Historically speaking, monarchies have been our longest form of government. Theoretically speaking, they were also the most successful form of government on this planet.

During the Middle Ages of our Earth, that was how politics worked. In a kingdom ruled by a king or queen, they held the reins of power. And power evidently made the world go ’round back then.

Well, it probably still does…

History is full of stories about plots to usurp the throne and overthrow the king. A lots of people with claims to the throne spent their fortunes and their lives scheming to put their royal asses on the throne. It might have been good to be the king, but it was also probably a lonely place to be.

Being a king or a queen isn’t as big of a deal anymore. As our global system of government has evolved, royal status has meant less and less. Except in England.

Game of Thrones is an engaging story. What makes it unique, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the usual Fantasy genre distinctions between Good and Evil are very blurred. They’re so blurred that I’m not sure if any of the supposed good guys are actually good. And there’s a lots of sex and nuditity.

Well, some of the bad guys are really evil. I have to admit that I took a great deal of delight in watching them get killed to death. Especially King Joffrey Baratheon–First (and Last) of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm–that sadistic little fuck. And Ramsay Bolton, who made my skin crawl every time he appeared on screen.

In essence, if you combined Dallas and The Lord of the Rings, you’d get Game of Thrones. And in that sense, GoT appears to be a serious cautionary tale about the pitfalls of having unprotected sex with your sister.

At least two of the kings in the story are completely off of their royal rockers, probably as a result of noble family inbreeding and incest. The only good thing about the mad kings is they both end up getting dead. The bad thing about both of them is thousands of good people end up also gotting dead because of them.

But you don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter this sort of thing either. Royal intermarriage between family members was once a common practice on this very planet.

Mausolus, the ruler of Caria was married to his sister, Artemisia II. When he he died in 353 BCE, his grieving widow had a huge tomb built in the city of Halicarnassus. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

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The Mausoleum of Helicarnassus

Royal inbreeding has been cited as one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt as well as the Ptolemaic rulers in Egypt were often married to their brothers or sisters as a way to keep political power consolidated within the family.

Queen Victoria of England was a major proponent of pure blood lines. She married her cousin Albert, and the two had nine children who then passed hemophilia to royal families throughout Europe.

Remember the Romanovs?

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The Russian Imperial Family 

And then there were the Habsburgs. Some of you might ask, Who the fuck are they? Ever hear of Marie Antoinette? She was a Habsburg.

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Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of France

The House of Habsburg was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs for three hundred years. The house also produced emperors and kings of Bohemia, Croatia, England, Germany, Hungary, Illyria, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. As well as the rulers of several Dutch and Italian principalities. And the rulers of the Second Mexican Empire.

Hey, they were busy, and clearly, very motivated…

Following the reign of Charles V in the 1500’s, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.

Unfortunately for the Habsburgs, it wasn’t just the crown that was passed down from generation to generation, but also a series of genes that produced birth defects. This inbreeding caused this royal family to exhibit a number of peculiar physical traits, especially one known as the Habsburg Jaw. The most prominent indicator of the family’s inbreeding is what doctors refer to as mandibular prognathism.

This condition is marked by a protrusion of the lower jaw to the point that it’s significantly larger than the upper jaw and creates an underbite sometimes bad enough that it can interfere with your speech and make it difficult to fully close your mouth.

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Some of the Habsburgs rulers and their infamous jaws.

The last Hapsburg ruler in Spain, Charles II, was such a genetic trainwreck that he could barely speak and couldn’t walk unattended.

Mental illnesses also ran rampant throughout many European royal families, leading to some very odd behavior. For example:

Charles VI of France. He inherited the throne during France’s long conflict with England, the Hundred Years’ War. He initially appeared to be a sane and capable king and then while on a campaign in the forest of Le Mans, he had some sort of “seizure.” He violently attacked his traveling companions, killed four of them, and almost killed his brother, Louis.

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King Charles VI of France

From then on he was subject to periodic fits of violence, and his everyday behavior became more bizarre. He took to running wildly through the corridors of his palace and sometimes seemed unaware of his own name, or that he was even king – though he did once appear to claim to be Saint George. The Mad King also suffered from the delusion that he was made of glass and could shatter at any time.

Christian VII of Denmark. He would often throw food at his dinner guests, but kings can be real jerks sometimes. His reign seemed otherwise pretty normal, until the masturbation started.

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King Christian VII of Denmark

On the bright side, he didn’t usually do it in front of visiting dignitaries. What he did was leapfrog over them when they bowed to him, and sometimes he’d slap people in the face in the middle of a conversation for absolutely no reason.

Tsar Paul I of Russia. He had what can only be called an attitude towards his guards, and not a good one. He might have had a good reason for it because the palace guards had been instrumental in the bloody coups and palace revolutions that marked 18th-century Russia. But Paul developed an obsession with the fine details of their ever-more elaborate uniforms and insisted that they be kept in pristine condition.

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Tsar Paul I of Russia

Anyone who fell short of his ideal was liable to be flogged, sometimes by the tsar himself. He insisted on full parades outside his palace even in the depths of the Russian winter, and once sent a regiment off to march all the way to Siberia before changing his mind and sending word for them to turn back.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering where in the hell I’m going with this, and I have to admit that I have no idea. I’m sure I have something else to write about beyond Game of Thrones and royal incest and insanity. I just don’t know what it is yet…

* * * *

Upon further review, I don’t have anything else to write about. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s history lesson.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

¡Hola amigos! ¿Cómo están?

I know I haven’t written anything lately, so I’d like to thank my faithful readers for stepping up and demanding that I get back to work. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I don’t know how I’d respond if it ever did.

I’ve been busy. My lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend has been here for the last couple of weeks, so we’ve been kind of occupied with him. I say kind of because we haven’t seen him as much this time around. Todd has decided he’s going to move here, so he’s been busy sorting out the details of his eventual relocation.

We hooked him up with our beautiful and talented Immigration Attorney, Julia Vargas. They’ve had several meetings to discuss what his best plan of action should be. And they’ve gone out on several non-business dates. They’re spending the weekend together at the beach.

I hope it works out for them. They’re both good people.

* * * *

Several of my latest posts have been of a political nature, which implies that I’m a global thinker, or at the least, far more global in my thinking than I actually am.

I’m a guy. Guys, by nature, tend to be shallow, superficial, and think only about themselves. Clearly, I need to get back to basics. I’m going to try to keep this post generally within the confines of our yard. More specifically, it’s about the joys of home maintenance.

I’m fairly competent at doing minor repairs around the house. I can replace light fixtures and faucets. I can fix leaking pipes. I’m really good at building shelves. I also know when I can’t fix something, and when it comes to home maintenance, that’s probably the most important thing to know.

To be fair, we had home maintenance issues at our last house. We’ve been very fortunate that both of our landlords have been very responsive to our wants and needs, whenever I couldn’t manage them myself, and that’s not always the case here. Or anywhere else for that matter.

* * * *

I have a theory about life. If there’s nothing going wrong in your life, God will bless you with car trouble, just to keep you humble. I call it Mark’s General Theory of Life and Stuff.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About And Stuff: It’s an unofficial nursing term. Way back when I was in nursing school, some of my much younger female classmates used it to describe the symptomatology of their patients.

“My patient was vomiting fecal material, and stuff…”  Which begs the question, If your patient was essentially vomiting shit, what else can there be? You’d think anything that had been in front of it would be, you know, gone already. Well, that’s the first thought I had…

Believe it or not, that’s actually a true story.

* * * *

Back to my theory on Life, Car Trouble, and Humility. That was before I retired and started playing golf.

I don’t need any help from God staying humble anymore. Golf has all of the bases covered as far as that is concerned. My fairway game has improved. I’m consistently getting on the green in three strokes.

My drives are mostly beautiful. A guy I golfed with the other day commented that I must have a low handicap after watching one of my gorgeous tee shots.

“Wait til we get closer to the green.” I replied.

To paraphrase my nursing school buddy, Don Nelson, I can’t sink fuckin’ putts.

If you’re on the green in three, and you three putt, that’s always a six. It’s my new favorite score. I’ve become so good at it that one of my golf buddies said this after we finished the seventh hole last Sunday.

“Give me a Mark.”

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Jesus H. Tiger Fuckin’ Mickelson!

According to people who are reasonably good golfers, there’s only one way to improve your golf score. And that is to keep playing. I’ll be on the course tomorrow. I’ll let you know if there’s any improvement.

* * * *

Okay. Back to my theory on Life, Car Trouble, and Humility. Again. The proof of this is we haven’t had any car trouble since we moved to Mexico, other than having to buy new tires. Twice. I attribute that to the roads here in the Lakeside Area more than anything else.

However, we have been blessed of late with a few issues at our new home that have been keeping us on our toes. The two biggest problems are in the kitchen.

The first is the refrigerator, which has mostly been nothing but trouble ever since we moved into our new home. I’ve written about this previously, if you’re really bored and want to check out  any of my other posts…

Our landlord, Lord Mark, Duke of San Antonio Tlayacapan, upgraded all of the kitchen appliances before we moved in, and moved the old appliances out to the casita. They’re old, and a faded almond color; clearly outdated in terms of modern decor. We were thrilled to see them replaced.

The new refrigerator is a shiny, stainless steel LG. We had an LG refrigerator at our house in Surprise, and we loved it. The first thing our shiny, new Mexican LG failed to perform consistently at was the water dispenser on the door. Both Lea and I drink a lots of water, so we’ve developed a great affinity for this handy gadget.

The water line in our refrigerator kept freezing up. It was easily fixed. Remove the frozen filter, let it thaw. Grab one of Lea’s hair dryers, melt the ice in the water line. Put it all back together, and violá! It worked like a charm.

There was only one problem. It kept freezing up.

The refrigerator is under warranty. Jaime Mendoza, our property manager here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa, eventually convinced the LG Service Department in Guadalajara to send a technician to the Lakeside Area to fix it. Lakeside is about forty miles south of Guad. That took about a month. And all was well, until the ice maker died.

* * * *

I don’t use the ice maker much, but Lea does. She loves drinking really cold water. We’ve discovered she isn’t the only one. Our kit-tens, Mika and Mollie, do too. And Mollie is absolutely fascinated by ice cubes.

Another thing we’ve discovered is our rapidly growing kit-tens are really good at knocking things over, like, lamps. And ceramic chickens. And terra cotta armadildoes. And glasses of ice water. I started using a plastic water bottle because they can be resealed. And if the kit-tens knock that over, no clean up is required.

I think the only breakable things they haven’t already broken are the things we put on top of the book cases in the living room. And the only reason they haven’t broken those things is they haven’t figured out how to get up there yet.

* * * *

Jaime had to enter into another series of negotiations with the LG Service Department on our behalf, but before he was able to convince them that they needed to repair the ice maker on their warrantied product, the refrigerator stopped refrigerating, and then the freezer stopped freezing.

We moved everything that had been in the shiny, new refrigerator/freezer out to the ugly old refrigerator/freezer in the casita. Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with the way that old piece of junk works.

There was one bright spot with the bright and shiny LG. The water dispenser still worked.

It took Jaime about a week to convince the LG Service Department to send another repair technician to come look at the almost totally malfunctioning major appliance in our kitchen, but first we had to do The Twelve Hour Test.

Lea’s response was, “We’ve already done a one hundred and twenty hour test! This is bullshit!!”

My response to her was, “Honey, do you want your refrigerator fixed or not?”

So, yes. We performed the requisite testing. It was simple to do. Turn the cold settings up to maximum warp, put one glass of water in the refrigerator, and another in the freezer. And, twelve hours later, nothing had happened. The water in the refrigerator didn’t get cold, and the water in the freezer was still water.

Once LG was informed of the test results, they agreed to send out another technician. That was on Thursday. The LG repairman is supposed to be here next Tuesday. If we’re very fortunate, our refrigerator problems might be sorted out by the end of the month.

* * * *

The other kitchen issue is the faucet. We had asked Jaime to upgrade both the sink and the faucet, and he was willing to do that. The kitchen sink is stainless steel, but over several decades of hard use, it’s no longer stainless. The faucet was a mishmash of parts that didn’t match, and it leaked.

Jaime manages more than one property for Lord Mark, so it sometimes takes a while for him to get back to this property. Lea and I eventually decided to go look at new sinks on our own. That’s when we discovered that modern kitchen sinks are much smaller than our vintage sink.

Installing a new sink would have entailed completely redoing the countertop, and we didn’t think that was something Lord Mark would be willing to do.

No problem, we’re flexible. We informed Jaime we were willing to work at rehabbing the vintage sink, but we still wanted a new faucet. He sent us pictures of faucets he liked. Lea found one that she loved, and we had that installed a couple of weeks ago.

It was a weird-looking contraption, like unto the Terminator of Faucets. And the spray nozzle could really project jets of water.

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I think it performed flawlessly for about a week before it fell apart. It was easy enough to put back together because even I could do it. Unfortunately, a few days later it came apart at a different junction, and a few days after that it fell apart at the first junction I had already repaired. That was enough for Lea.

“Tell Jaime I want a new faucet. Now.” she said. Jaime is generally very easy to work with, but just so I knew he’d understand the urgency of the matter, when I told him we needed another new faucet, I added, “You don’t want me to put my wife on the phone.”

He’s a smart guy. He said he’d get another faucet.

The new faucet also has a warranty. We’ll see how long it takes to get that issue settled. In the meantime, Jaime had his crew install a temporary faucet, which works perfectly. So, that problem is sort of settled for the time being.

Fortunately, there are a few hundred excellent restaurants here. Another fortunate thing is it probably doesn’t cost any more for us to eat out than it does to cook at home. I’ll continue to post restaurant pictures on my Facebook page.

* * * *

The only reason I named our new house the Chula Vista Resort and Spa is because it has a swimming pool. I’m not sure I’ll ever use it, but Lea probably will once the temperature starts to climb. Whether we use it or not, it looks cool. And it doesn’t cost us anything to maintain it. That was included as part of our rent.

Well, it looked cool. Until the water turned green.

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I know next to nothing about pool maintenance. The first time I touched any of our pool equipment at our house in Surprise, I broke something. It was also the last time that I touched any of it. After that, I hired a pool service to manage everything related to the pool.

Our gardener is also responsible for maintaining the pool, so all I had to do was talk to Miguel, and he took care of everything else. However, I was curious why the water turned green. Miguel said the water here sucks; it’s too acidic, and that’s why the pool turned green.

We’re really glad we decided to install a water filtration system for the house now.

It took Miguel three days to shock the pool and vacuum all the crap out of it. The pool looked pristine for several days before the greening process started up again. He’s been testing the pool water daily and adding a series of chemicals to balance the pH levels. It looks beautiful today. I’m not worried about the pool. Miguel knows what he’s doing. If I try to help him, I’ll probably have to buy a new pump and filter system. Again.

* * * *

There’s one more thing that we’ve had to contend with, and that’s the water heater for the South Wing of Casa Tara. We have two small propane water heaters. We’ve never had any problems with the heater for the North Wing. It’s an older model with a pilot light, and that sucker can seriously heat up some water.

The other heater is a newer model. It’s an on-demand heater. The only time it runs is when you turn on the hot water in either of the bathrooms in the main house. I’ve had the opportunity to learn that the ignitor is battery operated, and if you know anything about batteries, you know that they have to be replaced eventually.

I discovered this when my lovely supermodel wife tried taking a shower with cold water.

If there’s one thing I know about propane heaters it’s this: If you fuck up playing with gas, you’ll probably blow up half of the neighborhood. I know how to relight the pilot if it goes out, but this sonuvabitch didn’t have a pilot light, and I didn’t know about the battery powered ignitor. Yet.

So I called my buddy, Elvis. He used to be a security guard at the golf course, but now he works for the gas company. It was Elvis who showed me where the battery compartment was. We put new batteries in, and voilá! Mischief managed. Or so I thought.

It seems the battery compartment is somewhat of a temperamental bitch. I’ve had to go outside and fiddle with the damn thing several times since we replaced the batteries. I happened to be in the shower the last time the hot water died, so Lea went out and whispered something to the effect of, Do this one more time and I’ll replace more than your goddamn batteries!

We haven’t had a problem since.

Maybe she should try that with the refrigerator…

The Real World

It’s another beautiful day in the Lakeside Area. The gas shortage appears to have stabilized. All of the gas stations have gasoline again and the long lines of vehicles clogging the roads waiting to get fuel have disappeared.

That’s a good thing.

I started my apprenticeship as a pool guy last week. The only thing I’m allowed to do is clean floating debris out of the pool with the long-handled net. I’ve been getting in a lots of clinical practice. It’s the dry season here, and the mature trees lining the fairway behind our house have been dropping leaves by the ton.

Todd, my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, will be arriving here tomorrow, provided he doesn’t encounter any weather delays at the airport. It’s been snowing like unto a bastard up in Pacific Northwest for the last few days, so we’re all praying for a break in the weather.

Todd has decided he’s going to move down here. Eventually. Todd is a cerebral guy. He likes to over think everything. Twice. The hardest part for him is over. He’s finally made up his mind.

Todd is going to be busy arranging as much of his future life as he can while he’s here, but when he has some free time we’re going to the National Chili Cook Off. Food, entertainment and shopping. It’s a lots of fun. And we’ll get in as much golf as we can.

Beyond that, there isn’t much of anything else going on down here.

* * * *

I was talking to my buddy, Brother Al, a few weeks ago. He mentioned that he doesn’t read many, if any, nonfiction novels. As he put it, he prefers reality.

I used to read a lots of fantasy/sci-fi/adventure novels. And the Bible, which contains all three of those genres. I’ve never been a big fan of reality. I mostly find it very confusing. I rarely need help to be confused. So much of what we deem to be reality may be nothing more than fantasy anyway, so I try not to split hairs over what’s really real and what isn’t.

About a year before I retired, one of my patients was a young man who thought he was being watched by the government.

“It’s not just you.” I told him. “The government is watching all of us. There are cameras on almost every street, and spy satellites everywhere.”

“Yeah, that’s what my dad says, too.”

“Listen to your dad. He’s probably smarter than you give him credit for.”

One of my colleagues overheard me, and suggested that my interaction might not have been the best thing I could’ve said in that circumstance.

“So, you think the government isn’t watching what we do?”

“I’m not saying that, but maybe you shouldn’t have fed into his paranoia…”

“Yeah, but if it’s really happening, it’s not paranoia, is it.”

* * * *

I rarely read anything anymore. If I didn’t have to write my blog posts, I probably wouldn’t even read them. I’m not sure what happened to me; why I developed an aversion to reading. I haven’t tried to analyze it until this precise moment. Most likely I lack the ability to make a long-term commitment to a novel right now. Another reason is the fantasy genre storylines are all essentially the same.

And then, along came Game of Thrones. Because of my current inability to read, I started watching it on TV last week. I was hooked in about five minutes.

Somewhat fortunately for me, TV and movies have jumped on the bandwagon and there’s a lots of fantasy/adventure shows out there for my viewing pleasure. I can’t say that I watch a lots of these shows, but I will l admit that I’ve kind of become addicted to the Marvel Universe. And Star Wars®.

Thanks to technological improvements in CGI, the cinematic versions of these stories are visual tours de force. Superheroes versus supervillains. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is also Stan Lee’s and George Lucas’s First Law of Storytelling.

But it’s not just computer generated action scenes and explosions. The Marvel Universe movies, and the latest Star Wars® movies are very well written, and the dialogue actually makes you think.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for fans of the Fantasy/Sci-fi/Adventure genre is that we’re transported to a world vastly different from the world in which we live. It’s not necessarily a better world. I mean, there’s no WiFi in Middle Earth.

However, there’s plenty of ale. And pipeweed. Two things I once was very fond of.

These alien dimensions or worlds are populated with exotic alien races, plus Men, Elves and Dwarves. And mythological monsters, beasts and creatures. And dragons.

Dragons are without a doubt the coolest of all the mythical creatures. There are hundreds of legends and tales about dragons from dozens of races and cultures. Asia, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe and Mesoamerica all have dragon myths.

My personal favorite is Tiamat, a Babylonian goddess who took on the form of a massive sea dragon to wage war on her enemies.

And there’s always the Dark Entity of Ultimate Evil who wants to conquer and subjugate the entire world. I guess we have one of those here, though by Evil Dark Entity standards, Satan appears to be more of an underachiever than anything else.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12.

Angels. Demons. God only knows what else. There’s evidently a war going on all around us that we can’t see. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an actual angel. I sincerely doubt that I’ve ever met a demon. But I have encountered more than a few evil human beings.

I don’t have a lots of faith in God. I don’t believe in the devil. But I do believe in Good and Evil. And who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…

I’m trying to remember a fantasy novel that doesn’t have a bad-ass bad guy, and I can’t. Probably because if there wasn’t an evil villain, there’d be no need for a hero to step up and save the day. That’s one thing you can always count on in fantasy adventures. Good always triumphs over evil.

I never imagine myself as the hero in these stories. I’m the least heroic person I know. For one thing, deep inside of my chest beats the heart of a fucking coward. I’m not especially skilled at sword fighting, or any other type of fighting for that matter. I don’t have any magical powers. If I actually found myself in one of these stories, I’d probably be a red shirt guy in Star Trek.

In an epic battle between Good and Evil, there are going to be a few casualties of war. I’ve almost died to death a few times for significantly lesser causes.

Be that as it may, I’m sure part of the reason I originally wanted to be a prophet was I thought I’d end up with a whole lots of magical superpowers.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s this: Never read the Book of Revelation after you’ve dropped a few hits of acid.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife is a huge fan of the Crime/Mystery genre. Shortly after we got married, I jokingly told Lea the only reason she watched those shows was to figure out how to kill me and collect my life insurance.

“Oh, I figured that out a long time ago.” she replied, with a totally serious look on her face. I don’t think I slept well for a month.

Law and Order. The Closer. Major Crimes. CSI:, NCIS, and Inspector Gadget. We’ve watched those shows so many times we both know the dialogue of almost every episode. I would never want to be questioned by any of those spooky smart TV cops. I’d probably confess to the Kennedy assassination, even though I was only seven years old when it happened.

We started binge watching True Detective yesterday. Apparently you don’t have to travel to another dimension to find monsters…

* * * *

I used to watch a lots of TV. I loved The History Channel back when they used to air shows about, you know, history. Now their programming is a bunch pseudohistorical, quasi-reality-based crap.

People will always debate what caused the demise of modern day civilization, but for my money it all started with the creation of Reality TV.

Nowadays I mostly listen to the TV. There are very few things that I actually watch. To me, television is essentially radio, with occasional pictures. It’s mostly white noise to me. I use the TV to distract me from the ringing in my left ear. The medical term is tinnitus. I developed it after I was assaulted at work and my jaw was broken.

See? I told you I wasn’t any good at fighting.

The ringing in my ear might be lessening. More than likely I’ve just gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’ll never go away. It’s a reminder of how parts of me are broken and will never work the way that they used to.

Don’t get me wrong, most of me still works pretty good. Like me, the world is certainly less pristine than it once was. I’m concerned about the reality I perceive, and I’m not sure it’s going to change for the better.

But the last scene in Episode 8 of the first season of True Detective gave me a glimmer of hope.

Marty Hart and Rust Cohle have just closed the case on a crime they had started investigating seventeen years earlier. Their personal lives have been all but destroyed in the process of solving a heinous and horrific crime that turned out to be a series of heinous and horrific crimes. And they were both almost killed to death.

* * * *

Rust: “I tell you Marty I been up in that room looking out those windows every night here just thinking, it’s just one story. The oldest.”

Marty: “What’s that?”

Rust: “Light versus dark.”

Marty: “Well, I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.”

Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that…  You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing.”

Marty: “How’s that?”

Rust: “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

* * * *

I hope that’s true. The light is winning…

I can’t tell anymore.

I Didn’t See That Coming

Another post? Dude, are you feeling okay?

I’m good. Thanks for asking. I will admit to looking for things to do of late. I got kind of caught up in doing stuff around the new house, and I have some excess energy that I haven’t figured out how to focus yet.

Give me a week.

* * * *

Hey there, sports fans. How’s it going? The two best games of the NFL season were played yesterday to determine which teams would play for the Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl.

Both teams were evenly matched, so I didn’t make any predictions about winners, but I did have preferences. Both games went into overtime, which shows you evenly matched the teams were. You guys all know what OT is and how it works, right? Because I’m not going to explain it.

The Los Angeles Rams kicked a field goal to beat the New Orleans Saints, 26-23. I can’t say I saw that coming, but I was rooting for the Rams. Many fans are upset about the defensive pass interference penalty that wasn’t called, allowing the Rams to tie the game and send it into overtime.

I have an extreme dislike of the Saints. I don’t care how many penalties don’t go their way. I hope they lose every Championship game they play in from now until the end of time. I think they’re a dirty team, and this is just the chickens coming home to roost. It’s karma, and they’ve accrued an outstanding balance.

The Los Angeles Rams are a very good football team, with an impressive history. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, the LA Rams were one of the best teams in the NFL, but they didn’t play in a single Super Bowl, mostly because they had to play the Minnesota Vikings, outdoors, in Minnesota, in the middle of winter, for the NFC Championship.

They never beat the Vikings in December.

The Rams moved from Los Angeles to St Louis in 1995. They were easily the best team in the league in 1999, and won their one and only Super Bowl that year. Two years later, they returned to the Super Bowl, but lost to the New England Patriots.

* * * *

In the second game yesterday, the New England Patriots scored a touchdown to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31. I did see that coming. Anyone that knows anything about football did. Like most of the country, I’m tired of the Patriots being in the Super Bowl. I was hoping the Chiefs would win.

It’s a testament to Bill Belichick, the head coach of the Patriots. I think he’s the greatest coach in the NFL, ever. There are a few coaches that have won multiple Super Bowls, but they did so with rosters that stayed essentially unchanged during their championship runs.

Belichick has done it with wholesale changes in personnel from one year to the next. The only player who has been a constant for Belichick is his quarterback, Tom Brady. Under his tenure, the Patriots will have been to the Super Bowl nine times. He has developed a near perfect system, and he knows how to coach his players to thrive in it, no matter who they are.

Lea and I have been discussing having a Super Bowl party, of sorts. Invite our friends, have everyone bring a dish to share, and their own liquid refreshments. What could be easier?

Go, Rams. Beat the Patriots. Please.

Maybe Tom Brady will decide to retire…

* * * *

In other news, there isn’t really much to report. Our kit-tens, Mika and Mollie have been keeping us on our toes, and sometimes they’ve been keeping us up at night. I mean, who doesn’t love wrestling at 1:30 AM?

They broke my terra cotta armadillo into six pieces the other night. It took me half a day to glue him back together again.

What I don’t understand is how two tiny, adorable sweethearts can make so much noise? They might weigh two pounds a piece, but they sound like a stampeding herd of horses racing across our tile floors in the middle of the night.

* * * *

The Mexican gas shortage goes on, despite the government claims that everything will be back to normal “soon.” Time is a very arbitrary unit of measure in Mexico. Seriously. Ahorita, the Mexican word for soon can also mean never. I mean, how arbitrary can you get?

It hasn’t been a huge inconvenience yet. I hope it stays that way.

* * * *

If I were going to write an autobiography, the title of this post would be a good candidate for its title. It’s one of the hazards of not being a prophet. And being oblivious to a fair amount of the things going on around me.

Two of my retirement wives have used that word to describe me. I could probably argue with them, but I’m not sure I’ve ever won an argument with Lea. And I have no idea how she does that.

She’s like unto a superhero in the Marvel Universe, and that’s her superpower.

Ms. Right.

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I know I didn’t see that coming when I married her. I used to be right about stuff before I married her. For the longest time I thought two people who were used to being right shouldn’t get married. I’ve gotten over that. In the Big Picture, being right isn’t the most important thing in a marriage.

Being at peace is far more important.

Besides, I really am oblivious to a lots of stuff. And I don’t see myself as being especially intuitive. Or empathetic. I might be those things from time to time, but it’s probably more by accident than design.

That would also be a good title for the story of my life.

* * * *

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I wrote a post that ended up being a political commentary on the United States and its current Commander in Chief. And one of my readers told me she thought it was the best thing I’d written.

It’s kind of like Mozart playing Die Zauberflöte for you, but you tell him, You know, I liked that Happy Birthday song better.

Let me clarify that. I’m hardly the Mozart of Writing. Weird Al Yankovic, maybe…

I think I’ve written some very good stuff. My last post wasn’t one of my best, in my opinion. It was one my least favorite posts.

Becoming a political commentator is something I know I never envisioned when I started writing my blog. If I had known it, I might have taken a different route. I am not politically savvy. You could ask any of my former bosses, they’d tell you. The fact that I’m writing about politics is probably one of the most egregious accidental things I’ve done in years.

What this person liked about my post was that I made my points without being ugly, or mudslinging, or name-calling. It’s not a tactic I would ever think about using. It’s something like unto the Golden Rule:

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I don’t like people being rude to me. Therefore, I try not to be rude to anyone. I don’t know anyone who enjoys interacting with rude people. Rude people suck. It’s one of the things I don’t like about The Donald. He’s very rude, which is an unattractive quality in anybody, but especially unattractive in a President.

And then there’s this whole collusion with Russia thing, which I will freely admit I don’t understand at all, and have made no attempt to understand better.

I did see something the other day that said Trump colluded with Russia to destabilize the United States, and I have to admit that it made me laugh. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t needed any help to do that.

He’s been doing a great job all by himself.

Any person in a leadership position has an obligation to model behavior that is beneficial to the organization they represent. Encouraging people to act like assholes is hardly needed in this day and age. Social media has that well in hand.

A leader who acts like a bully is nothing more than a tyrant. Back in the 1700’s, our forefathers fought a revolution to free themselves from what they perceived as tyrannical rule.

Is it time for another American revolution? Possibly. I’m still not much of a prophet, so I don’t know if it’s necessary or not.

All I know for sure is I won’t be fighting it. That’s for the generations that follow mine. I chose the Millennials. There’s a lots of them, they’re socially connected, and they don’t seem to believe in anything meaningful.

They need to create their purpose.

My generation already played there part in changing the world, for better or for worse. Like it or not, it’s something a generation gets to do only once.

Mexican Standoff 2.0

I’m not sure how much accurate news the US media reports about Mexico, but if they’ve mentioned anything about a gas shortage going on south of the border, that is true.

If you weren’t alive and driving a car in 1970’s, you might not know there were a couple of gas crises in the United States.

In October of 1973, OPEC decided to stop exporting oil to the United States in response to President Nixon’s domestic and foreign policies.

There was a second crisis in 1979 when the puppet government of the Shah of Iran, which had been supported by the American government, collapsed and the Ayatollah Khomeini instituted his repressive Islamic rule.

The result of these shortages was soaring gas prices and long lines at filling stations, and they contributed to  major economic downturns in the U.S.

I could elaborate more, but I’m pretty much done talking about American history. If you need to know more about this, look it up on the Interweb.

* * * *

The current Mexican gas shortage doesn’t have anything to with pissed off Arabs. The new President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is fighting a war against organized crime.

Criminal gangs known as huachicoleros have been siphoning gasoline from pipelines for decades, and reselling it. The new Mexican president campaigned on cleaning up the corruption in his country, and made it a priority to stop the gangs.

According to available statistics, the market for cheap stolen fuel cost the government some 60 billion pesos, or $3.14 billion last year.

That’s a whole lots of tacos, baby.

The short-term effect of this has been predictable. Long lines of cars waiting for gasoline, limited/rationed amounts of gas for sale, and a whole lots of pissed off people. It’s actually been closer to standstill than a standoff.

The long-term effects should be considerable. Increased revenue for the government to fund the multitudinous improvements that Mexico needs, and it could weaken the hold of some of the fucking gangs of criminals who have essentially done whatever they want without any fear of repercussions.

If you want to make an omelette, you have to break a lots of eggs. If you want to attack the grip of organized crime, you have kick a lots of gangs in the cojones. Studies have shown that if you kick a guy in the balls, he’ll stop engaging in whatever he was doing and get down on his knees to pray. Or puke. Or both.

I wish Presidente López Obrador the best of success. He seems to be concerned about actually improving his country for the benefit of his people.

* * * *

cor·rup·tion
/kəˈrəpSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.

* * * *

That’s the one of the definitions of corruption, just in cases you were wondering. To be certain, you don’t have to be in a position of power to be corrupt. In just pays better when you are.

Corruption isn’t a problem specific to Mexico. It’s a global political issue. Fixing it isn’t a huge priority for most governments, mostly because it’s such a huge problem. It appears to be easier to look the other way than it is to try to fix a broken political system.

The Donald was elected President of the United States partially because he promised to clean up American politics and make government work better for those who feel their interests have been neglected by political elites.

He proudly proclaimed that he’s not a politician. And nobody disagrees with him.

Yet, rather than feeling better about progress in the fight against corruption over the past year, a clear majority of people in America now say that things have become worse. Nearly six in ten people now say that the level of corruption has risen in the past twelve months, up from around a third who said the same in January 2016.

If you don’t change the way you do business, you end up with business as usual. This is one of The Donald’s broken promises that he hasn’t lost any sleep over. Trump’s hardcore supporters don’t seem to be upset by that in the least, and that says more about them than any of the things they actually say.

In all honesty, I’m getting tired of pointing out Trump’s shortcomings. I had no intention of writing about him when I started this post, and yet, here we are. Again.

The partial government shutdown is in its 29th day. Trump said he is going to make “an important announcement” later today that will lay out the details of a deal he’s hoping to make with Democrats that will end the shutdown.

It’s a face-saving gesture. The majority of the country blames him for the shutdown, and people remember that shit when they vote.

I hadn’t thought of The Donald’s Great Border Wall in terms of political corruption until recently. I thought it was more of his shortsightedness than anything else.

But if he gets the funding to build his wall, The Donald will be able to hand out government contracts to private companies to build his wall. And those contracts will go to some of The Donald’s rich buddies who support him.

* * * *

America is the only country whose lifestyle has been immortalized with a catch phrase.

The American Dream.

No one dreams about living in Haiti. Or Nigeria. Or anywhere else.

People want to go to America because it has promised something no place else offers. A chance for a better life. That’s what the American dream is. That’s all it is.

It’s not that much of a dream anymore. Global opinion of the United States has dropped precipitously in recent years, and remains at an all-time low. And there’s only one reason for that.

Donald Trump.

* * * *

It’s abundantly clear that Americans could care less about what the rest of the world thinks about them, or their country. They’re actually kind of proud about not caring. There’s another word for it.

Apathy.

If you don’t know what that means, look it up.

The American Dream is dying. To be sure, it’s dying a slow death, but whether you die swiftly or slowly, you still end up dead.

There’s still time to save it. America just needs to wake up and remember who, and what, she used to be.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ The Lorax

Mexican Standoff

A Mexican standoff is a confrontation amongst three or more parties in which no strategy exists that allows any party to achieve victory. As a result, all participants need to maintain the strategic tension, which remains unresolved until some outside event makes it possible to resolve it.

I had no idea what a Mexican standoff was until we moved to Mexico. Even then, I thought it was a term most likely used to describe multiple vehicles entering an uncontrolled intersection, actually, any intersection in Mexico. Traffic laws are interpreted more like unto suggestions down here than actual laws most of the time.

I tend to approach every intersection with caution because you really never know what the other guy is going to do here. Red lights might mean stop to some people, but they could mean go really fucking fast to others.

Given the specifics of the above cited definition, I’m not sure if it adequately describes the current political situation in the United States. There might be three or more parties involved, but I doubt that I could identity all of them.

If you are somehow unaware of what’s going on in the US, a partial government shutdown has been in effect since December 22nd because Congress and the President couldn’t agree on a budget and the appropriation of funds.

The main item of contention is the US-Mexico border wall. The Donald wants $5.7 billion dollars to build his wall. Evidently, he doesn’t have enough support in Congress to get it.

I’ve written about the political chasm dividing the Republican and Democratic parties before, but in this case I don’t think The Donald has the complete support of his own party. Because of Trump’s intransigence on this issue, he essentially has everyone in both parties, and God knows who else, by the short hairs.

The Wall. I’m not sure why The Donald is so stuck on such an archaic idea. No one with a functioning brain does. A wall might be a barrier, but in and of itself, a wall cannot prevent someone from climbing over it or tunneling under it. The Great Border Wall would have to be equipped with a whole lots of armed guards to make it an effective barrier against the immigrant horde that’s allegedly trying to storm into the United States to destroy it. Somehow…

The border wall was one of Trump’s campaign promises. He hasn’t kept many of his other promises, and not keeping any of them hasn’t seemed to bothered him one bit. This Wall, however, is somehow different.

Back when The Donald was running for President, he promised he would build a border wall and Mexico would pay for it. And then Mexico fucked up everything by not doing what The Donald said they would, cleverly avoiding being part of that Mexican standoff by racing through the intersection when the light was red.

I saw something the other day that The Donald is now saying he never said Mexico would pay for the wall. His hypocrisy, it seems, truly has no limits.

Perhaps in an attempt to sway public opinion in his favor, The Donald gave a speech from the Oval Office the other night, painting a picture of a national threat and humanitarian crisis occurring along the US-Mexico border, saying his signature border wall would provide a solution.

Even if what The Donald said were true, how would a wall effect a humanitarian solution? This is one of those Zen koans that doesn’t have an answer for multiple reasons. One, no great natonal threat exists. Neither is there a humanitarian crisis. If none of those conditions exist, why spend almost six billion dollars to fix it?

I think the answer is this: The massive military parade The Donald wanted was shelved. So he’s decided no one is going to take his wall away from him.

It makes as much sense as any explanation I’ve heard. Given The Donald’s petulant nature, it actually makes more sense than anything else I’ve heard.

* * * *

“Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.”

The Donald said that in his speech. This, is apparently what the national threat and humanitarian crisis is.

Immigrants.

Illegal immigration is certainly a reality. Is it a national threat? Is it as huge of a problem as The Donald says it is? Probably not. From what I’ve seen so far, nothing is as big as he says it is…

“Them there immigrants are coming here to take jobs away from hard working Americans!” That’s probably what all of Trump’s blue collar, Walmart-shopping supporters say. So, is that even close to the truth?

Most undocumented workers are lucky to get even a menial job once they get to the US. Busing tables, washing dishes. Mopping floors, cleaning toilets. Harvesting crops. You know, the jobs most Americans think they’re too good to do.

In my entire working career,  I’ve never met anyone who lost their job to an immigrant. Have you? As near as I can tell, immigrants didn’t have to come to America to put any hard working Americans in the unemployment line. American industry came to them.

Have you ever heard of outsourcing and offshoring? I’ll bet you have.

“Do what you do best and outsource the rest!” has become an internationally recognized business tagline, and it’s essentially how Big Business functions now.

American companies discovered they could pay workers in China, India, or Mexico a helluvalot less than they pay their hard working American workers, and moved their plants to foreign countries. But can you blame them? Those big buck executives were barely getting by on their six figure salaries.

Let’s say the average American worker in the US makes $10/hour. Work an eight hour shift, make eighty bucks. The average worker in Mexico makes 80 pesos a day. That amounts to roughly four dollars. Imagine yourself making twenty five, maybe thirty dollars a week.

Yeah, let that sink in for a minute.

Increased profit margins. Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money. Greed is good. Executive pay in the United States in 2007 was 400 times more than average workers — a gap 20 times bigger than it was in 1965.

They’re called capitalist pigs for a reason…

But that’s not the problem. It’s those fuckin’ immigrants sneaking across the southern border.

* * * *

“More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War…  Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border.” That’s more of The Donald’s rhetoric.

Yes. America has a drug problem. And yes, Mexico supplies a double buttload of heroin to the hard working Americans that demand it. However, the President’s assertion is misleading, blaming the drugs coming across the US-Mexico border for the total drug deaths in the US. Additionally, The Donald’s figures don’t distinguish between deaths caused by drugs smuggled into the country versus those prescribed by US doctors.

Doctors who don’t have to smuggle drugs in from anywhere. All they have to do is write a prescription that can be filled at any drugstore on any corner in any city of the country.

Just say No. Remember that? Nancy Reagan declared war on drugs back in the 1980’s. Judging from The Donald’s statistics, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are quite a few Americans that didn’t say No, and just like the American experience in Vietnam, this is a war we aren’t going to win.

Building a wall is not going to solve this problem, Mr. Trump.

* * * *

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There are a lots of points of entry into the US, and most of them aren’t located on the US-Mexico border. Somehow, The Donald doesn’t seem to be concerned about any of the rest of them. He hasn’t said anything about building a wall on the northern border. In this he appears to be quite logical because there aren’t any criminals or even any crime in Canadia.

* * * *

“I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven’t done it yet, I may do it. If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”

That’s what The Donald said yesterday, indicating that he probably, almost definitely, doesn’t have any real idea of how to extricate himself and the rest of the country out of the incredible clusterfuck of a mess he has created.

Using his logic, I could declare myself President of the United States, and it would be just as real as The Donald’s delusional emergency. How has he not ended up on a psych ward?

There is one specific group of people that have borne the brunt of The Donald’s disastrous desire to build his Great Border Wall. The 800,000 federal employees who have been sent home or are working without pay.

“Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing…  and certainly they’re not thrilled — but they say, ‘Sir, do the right thing. We need border security.’ And these are people that won’t be getting paid.”

All I can say in response to this is the President’s head must be further up his ass than any of us could have imagined. Do you know anyone who would agree to keep doing their thankless job, with fewer people in the office to do it–probably doubling or trebling their workload–and they won’t get paid for doing it.

In the former Soviet Union, maybe. You’d probably end up in a gulag if you protested. In the United States of America, where the majority of those federal employees are living paycheck to paycheck? No. Fucking. Way.

I was once a federal employee. I was a nurse at the Minneapolis VAMC. Not only did I have to work without pay while Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich engaged in their pissing contest over the budget, I ended up taking out loans from the bank so we could pay our bills, and buy gas and food.

I don’t remember anyone that I worked with who thought shutting down the government was the right thing to do. We hated Clinton. We hated Gingrich. If either one of them had come to visit us during that time, we would have locked them in a seclusion room and shot them full of drugs until they got their goddamn minds right.

While some federal workers might support The Donald, the vast majority of them feel this way: Pay the workers, furlough Trump. There were protest marches in Washington DC, Chicago and Dallas yesterday. With no end in sight, there will certainly be more protests.

* * * *

The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. This, more than a Mexican standoff, appears to be the best description of the machinations of The Donald.

The Mexican standoff at least offered the hope that an external force could precipitate a solution. I can’t think of anything or anyone that could bring enough force to bear on The Donald to make him rethink his strategy. His mom got dead eighteen years ago. We can’t even appeal to her.

The saddest part about this is that the one person who is responsible for it will, most likely, never be able to understand that.

It Is Hereby Resolved

I had been giving some thought about writing something like unto a Year in Review post. Then it occurred to me that the year I was going to review has already come and gone. I probably should have written that post a month ago…

Not only that, but anything of even passing interest that happened to us last year has already been documented in this blog. And everything else in the world has already been reported by other people. So, why bother?

There’s a couple of more reasons why I didn’t get around to doing it. One, it was the holiday season, and there were all those Hallmark Christmas movies to watch. We actually celebrated this Christmas. We had guests. We were busy going out to eat, sightseeing, shopping and showing them around, doing, you know, touristy stuff.

Two, I was actually busy doing guy stuff. I’ve been building things in my workshop. Everything I’ve built is storage related. I converted a coat closet in the hallway into a linen closet. I built a bunch of shelves in my workshop. I made a huge honker of a storage cabinet for the car port. I’m hardly a master craftsman, but the stuff I’ve built is solid and sturdy. It’ll last for years, unless the termites get to it.

I think there’s a law that states, The amount of stuff you have will automatically expand to fill the available storage space you have. We’re going to have to keep an eye on that. We have a lots of closets and shelves here. The last thing we need to do is collect more stuff.

I’ve also been working on maintenance projects around the house, and trying to keep up with our kit-tens. Mika has become very good at sneaking out onto the patio. She has the timing of a blitzing safety and hits the doorway just as I open it. Lea says she doesn’t have that problem with the kit-tens. They probably know better than to piss her off.

They’re also the reason I’ve had so many maintenance projects. I’ve had to repair all of the screens on the patio doors, and I’ve had to kit-ten proof a lots of stuff.

Kit-tens, like sand on the beach, get into everything! If they weren’t so cute and adorable, I’d trade them in on a herd of chickens and a chicken-herding dog. Mika and Mollie probably know I’m bluffing when I tell them that. They know Lea would never allow it.

Have you ever tried to get a kit-ten out of a chimney flue? Those were the first things I kit-ten proofed. We’re going to have to take a trip to Guadalajara soon to buy new lamps for our bedside tables in the master bedroom. Some heavy-ass lamps. Made out of boulders. And tree trunks. And sheet metal.

And I know the kit-tens aren’t malicious with the mischief they get into. They simply have an endless curiosity and way more energy and agility than anything that…domesticated…needs.

I believe our kit-tens have become the fulfillment of the curse my mother put on me, back when I was young and constantly getting in trouble. Wait until you grow up and have kids of your own. They’re going to be just…like…you! I thought I had outsmarted my mom, but it looks like she’s finally getting her revenge.

Some of you might say, Hey, wait a minute! Don’t you and Lea have kids? Lea has children. Gwen and Abigail. I have stepdaughters. They’ve rarely given me any headaches, and neither of them have ever gotten stuck in a chimney flue.

Additionally, there was golf. Well, something like unto golf…  My game hasn’t gotten any better. It probably hasn’t gotten any worse either, though I have developed an affinity for hitting trees of late. Especially on the fifteenth hole. The fairway is lined by a miniature forest of mature trees on both sides.

I think I’ve hit almost all of them the last three times I’ve been on the golf course. It’s possibly been a preview of what Hell will be like for me…

The final reason I decided not to write a retrospective on 2018 is probably the most compelling. I can’t remember what happened last week, let alone last January. That, more than anything else, convinced me to write about, well, anything else.

There were a few items of importance that happened last year that even I couldn’t forget. One of my work daughters, Nancy Rodriguez, got married. Nancy is an attractive, young latina from Yuma, AZ. Jake, her husband, is from Whitebread, WI. She has the most alabaster-sounding name in the history of Caucasianality.

Mrs. Holmberg.

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She probably looks like my second grade teacher and smells like cheese curds now. Ay chingao.

My other work daughter, Brea Brichta, got knocked up.

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That’s Brea and her husband, Charlie. My darling pseudo-daughters. I love and miss them both. I hope 2019 is kind to them.

* * * *

A lots of people make New Year’s resolutions. This is going to be the year they stop doing annoying stuff and start doing better stuff. You know, quit smoking. Start working out at the gym. Stop getting stuck in chimneys. Stuff like that.

I’ve never broken a New Year’s resolution, mainly because I’ve never made one. When I was a nurse, I was often asked if I wanted to go back to school and get my degree. I replied, “No, I have no desire to improve myself.”

My bosses usually didn’t see the humor in my response.

It’s not like I don’t have room for improvement. I doubt any of us look at ourselves and think we’re perfect. So, why don’t I make any New Year’s resolutions? Because I’d probably last about two weeks if I committed to making any lifestyle changes.

Historically, my life has changed, and then I adapt to it. I’ve made two conscious life changes that I can think of. I quit chewing my fingernails, and I quit drinking. Neither of those things happened on New Year’s Day.

Many, if not all New Year’s resolutions are health conscious decisions. I’ve rarely done anything to take care of myself, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Kind of by accident, Lea and I are both living a healthier life, without making a bunch of lifestyle changes.

The food is healthier here simply because it’s fresh, and not overly processed like it is in the States. We don’t go to the gym, but we stay active. Our stress levels are almost non-existent. Life is very good down here.

There just aren’t a lots of things that I feel I need to accomplish anymore. Back when I was gainfully employed, there were a few times when I wanted to win the Lottery, but I’m pretty sure that’s not something you can make a resolution to do. I probably have more money than I’ll need to live out the rest of my life comfortably, and if I get dead before Lea, she’ll be a Mexican multimillionaire.

But, don’t you want to live a long life? I have. That’s why I’m old. That’s how it works. I’m far more interested in quality than quantity.

It is hereby resolved that I’m not going to do anything to fuck up the near perfection of my life. The bottom line is If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Home For The Holidays

¡Feliz Navidad!

My lovely supermodel wife and I want to take this opportunity to wish you a blessed and joyful Christmas season. Well, and probably any other season too, for that matter. Unless it’s football season. If you’re a Packers fan, or a Bears fan–all bets are off.

In that instance, we hope that your team sucks and that you, as a fan, are miserable every time your team plays our team.

Despite a mediocre record this year, the Vikings still have a chance to make it to the playoffs as a wild card team. I had pretty much given up on them, and didn’t even bother to watch their game last week. So they played their best game of the season and clobbered the Miami Dolphins.

We’ll probably watch the game today. They’re playing the Detroit Lions. Besides, we’ve already watched every Hallmark Christmas movie at least five times. I’ve written about the Hallmark movies before. Despite the fact that they’re all essentially the same movie, we’ve apparently become addicted to them.

I’ve had my heartstrings pulled a few times watching them this year. As predictable as they all are, it’s Christmas. And everyone loves a happy ending at Christmas. 🎄🎅

* * * *

This will be our third Christmas in Mexico, but it’ll be the first Christmas in our new home. It actually feels like Christmas this year. For one thing, it’s freezing inside of our cavernous abode. Lea and I are from Minnesota, and Christmas is almost always cold there. Like, below fucking zero cold. It’s one of the reasons we moved to Arizona.

We have a couple of portable propane heaters at the new house, and we’re getting good use out of them. They kick out a lots of heat, until their tanks run out of fuel. The propane guys who fill the two big tanks that supply the main house and the casita can fill the portable tanks whenever they’re in the neighborhood, but I hate to request a special delivery from them if I only need a few liters of propane.

There’s a place called Zeta Gas about a mile west of here. They have a drive through facility. You pull up to the pump, hand the guy your tank, and he fills it up for you. It’s a minor hassle in the Big Scheme of Life, but the last two times our heaters died, they died on a Sunday. The one day of the week that Zeta Gas is closed.

Back in the States, you don’t actually buy propane tanks. You more or less rent the canister, and when it’s empty you take it back to the store and rent another full one. And you can do that at probably a dozen different places any day of the week. Here, you buy an empty tank at the hardware store. It’s up to you to get it filled and keep it filled.

It was one of those “on the job training/This is Mexico” things for me. We didn’t have this issue at our last house. So I bought a backup tank the other day, and filled it right away. Take that, Sunday! I’m ready for you now.

* * * *

Second, our Christmas decorations are on display. We even have a Christmas tree, thanks to Al and Jane Castleman. They loaned us one of theirs. It even looks fairly festive. We set it up on the patio so our kit-tens, Mika and Mollie, can’t destroy it.

Kit-tens. I don’t remember our last kit-tens being so…mischievous. I struggle to find the right word to describe their antics. From their point of view, all they’re doing is what comes naturally to them. They’re smart, they’re curious, and they’re very good at jumping. And they like us, so of course they want to help us, no matter what it is we’re trying to do.

I’ve discovered I spend quite a bit of time talking to our growing furbabies.

“Mollie! Get off of the table!” 

“Mika! How the hell did you get up there?”

“Don’t make me get the squirt bottle!!”

I don’t like having to use the squirt bottle on the kit-tens, but it’s the most effective tool in feline behavior modification, ever.

* * * *

And thirdly, we have guests this year. Gwen and John Henson flew down from Austin, TX to celebrate the holiday with us. Gwen is Lea’s oldest daughter. She’s also our brilliant financial planner. John is her loving husband. He’s a very good man.

Historically, Gwen and John have always traveled back to Minnesota for Christmas. I’m not sure why they decided to come here this year; I’m just glad they did. And Lea is thrilled beyond words.

Other than Lea’s boyfriend, Todd, they’re probably the only people who actually like us. They’ve come to visit us more than anyone else.

* * * *

We’re finally settled in at our new house. It feels like home. We’ve been here about two months, but it seems somehow longer. Like, this is the place we were supposed to be when we moved here. All of the big things we wanted to do when we moved in have been crossed off the list. Pretty much all of the little things that needed to be done have been taken care of, too.

I can get back to resting on my…laurels…again. And playing golf.

I went golfing last week with the guy who painted our house. Francisco Flores Bernini is a caddy at Vista del Lago, the country club that I’m a member of. He showed me several of the houses he had painted out there. That’s why I decided to hire him to paint our new house.

Francisco is a very good caddy, which has been good for me. He’s also a very good golfer, which wasn’t so good for me last Thursday. I played the best round of golf I’ve ever played in my life, and Francisco still beat me by seventeen strokes. He gave me a lots of tips while we golfed, and some of them even worked when I tried them. I might end up being a decent golfer someday if all of his suggestions work.

But my favorite best memory of that day was buying coffee from Luli, the refreshment cart girl. I was paying for our drinks, and I gave Luli a nice tip. You know, it’s Christmas…

“Do you want to give her a hug?” Francisco asked me in English, but the way he said it made it more of a suggestion than a question.

“Sure. Why not.” I replied. Francisco told Luli that I wanted to give her a hug, in Spanish. She speaks some English, but I guess he didn’t want there to be any confusion about this. Luli giggled, and she hugged me. That’s when I figured out why Francisco wanted me to hug her.

Luli has what we call in America an epic set of tits.

“¿Puedo tener un abrazo también?” Francisco asked Luli, and she smiled and hugged him, too. “Man, I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.” Francisco confessed, as we drove to the next tee box. “When I’m caddying out here, she won’t give me the time of day. But today, I’m a golfer. After you gave her that tip, I knew she wouldn’t say no to hugging you.

“I was just hoping she wouldn’t say no to hugging me. I’m never going to forget this day. I’m going to remember this as one of the best days in my life.”

Because of Francisco, I’m going to remember it that way, too.

* * * *

Christmas, as every Hallmark movie will tell you, is a time for family. I can tell you it doesn’t always work out that way in real life. The last time my entire family got together for Christmas was 2006 when my mother was dying to death from cancer.

It’s not one of those warm, fuzzy memories for me.

Given the fact that Lea and I are now living deep in the heart of Mexico, it’s not likely that we’ll travel to the Great White North. Lea has sworn that she will never go back to Minnesota during the winter. To be honest, it’s not something I would look forward to either. It’s even less likely that anyone in my family would come down here to see us.

That’s the reality of life. Even so, if I don’t spend another Christmas with my family, it won’t be the worst thing that will ever happen to me. Or them. We still love each other. Well, most of us still love each other. I can always call them. Or at the very least, send them a deeply affectionate text.

Once you grow up, you realize that family is a word that can have multiple layers. There’s the family you were born into. There’s the family you make when you get married. There’s the family you make with friends, co-workers; pretty much any group of people you want.

Family, much like unto reality, can be anything you imagine it to be.

So, Merry Christmas to us. Merry Christmas to you. And as Tiny Tim so eloquently stated, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us every one.”

The House of Diez Doors

¡Hola! Buenas tardes, y’all.

Now that we’ve finally completed the moving process, I can sit my ass down and try to write something. Until Mollie or Mika decide to help me edit this post. The kit-tens are getting so big! They’re still cute and adorable, except when they’re getting into mischief, and they’ve gotten pretty damn good at that. Mika has shown herself to be the leader when it comes to getting in trouble. That darn kit-ten!!

It’s like my crazy Polish grandmother used to say, “If I had two assholes, yous kids would climb in one to see what was up there!” Those old Pollacks, they had a way with words, not?

Mika and Mollie have been busy exploring their new home, and racing around the rooms playing kit-ten hockey. It’s a game I invented. All you need is two kit-tens and a ping pong ball. It’s seriously fun to watch. I’ll try to take a video one of these days, if I can stop laughing long enough to hold my camera steady.

Or maybe I’ll think of something I was going to do until I got distracted by another thing and forgot to do the first thing. Then I’ll have to quit writing and take care of that dangling thing immediately before I forget that I remembered that I needed to do something. Whatever it might be.

That has happened a lots the last few weeks. And it’s likely to continue for awhile.

And there was this, too: Where did I put the hammer?!? I have five hammers. I’ve used every fucking one of them putting this house together because I couldn’t find the one I was just using. I don’t know if that’s because I’m getting older and can’t rememberate stuff so good anymore, or because I have a very diffuse attention span. It might be both.

But another part of this equation is the sheer size of this place. I’ve posted a lots of pictures of our new house on my Facebook page. Many people have commented that our house looks like unto a resort. Yeah, it really does. But the photos fail to convey the scope of the space, and the layout. I’ve actually called my lovely supermodel wife on her cellphone when we were both in the house to ask her where she was.

I couldn’t find her, and I probably thought she had taken my hammer…

* * * *

We had no idea we’d be moving into the largest house we’ve ever had when we started our home search. Our last house was roughly 2200 square feet. This house is easily twice as large.  In Mexico, anything under a roof is considered indoor living space. Like, you know, a patio. If you use Mexican math, it’s probably closer to 5000 square feet.

I suppose the yard is bigger, too. But 90% of the lot is filled by the house. And the casita. And the swimming pool. Our backyard runs parallel to the first fairway at the Chula Vista Golf Course. It’s the other golf course in the Lakeside Area. The one I’m not a member of.

* * * *

I could say we have a great view of the golf course, but we don’t. There’s kind of a forest growing on the hillside below our house. And there’s a verdant garden growing along the fence line. You actually have to look pretty hard to see the golf course.

There are a couple of downsides to the Chula Vista course. It’s carved out of the side of the mountain, and the fairways run over hill, over dale. That in itself isn’t a deal breaker. There are no golf carts at Chula Vista. If I wanted to walk that much, I’d sell my car.

That’s not gonna happen.

On the bright side, I have found two golf balls in the backyard. I may never have to buy another golf ball…

* * * *

There aren’t many long-term rental houses available in the Lakeside Area this time of year. It’s Snowbird Season! We didn’t think we’d find a new place to live until May or June of next year. Then a kind of funny thing happened. Our friend, Cheryl, alerted us that this house was available. That wasn’t the funny part. Several of our friends had told us about available rental houses they knew of, and suggested we check them out. The funny part is Lea contacted  the property manager, Belva, immediately. Lea never does that. She has to think about stuff for awhile first.

We were the first people to contact Belva, and arranged to take a tour of the place. When we arrived for our walk through, she informed us that ten other couples had contacted her expressing interest in the property. But we had been first; we had dibs.

Belva had a fistful of keys in her hand. And she needed all of them. Two of the three exterior doors in the kitchen were on the same key. All of the other lockable doors, exterior and interior, were on separate keys. And you needed two different keys just to unlock the huge hobbit door that is the grand front entrance, that hardly anyone will ever use.

It’s an old house, probably twenty years older than our first Mexican house. It’s a classic Mexican style gringo mansion. The decor and furnishings were straight out of the 70’s. If The Brady Bunch (El Grupo de Brady en español) had been set in Mexico, this would’ve been their house. An elderly British couple had lived here until they got dead. Their son, Lord Mark, the Duke of San Antonio, inherited the place and has been renting it out as an income property.

This is The House of Ten Doors, not counting the two main gates. One gate leads to the grand main entrance. The really big gate secures the carport. There’s actually thirteen exterior doors here, but the title of this post is an adaptation of the title of the novel, The House of Dies Drear, and I hope at least one of my readers caught that. The number thirteen just wouldn’t work in my title, no matter which language I used. I suppose I could have used Gone With the Wind because the name of our casa is Tara, but that title didn’t make any sense. Not even to me.

“Well, what do you think? If you don’t want it, the next couple I show it to will take it.”  Belva said, after we saw the house. If she was bluffing, I couldn’t spot her tell.

Lea and I had a quick discussion. The place was old. It wasn’t move-in ready. The interior needed to be painted. We’d have to install a water filtration system. And there might be other surprises. It’s an old house…

As renters, that was money we’d be spending on a property that we were never going to purchase.

It had everything we were looking for, plus several things that weren’t on our list. Like, a casita, an attached exterior room that defies conventional description which could easily be converted into a workshop where I could play with my power tools, and it had a solar heated swimming pool.

* * * *

Okay. The Unconventional Room. It’s attached to the back of the north wing of the house, behind the kitchen. You can’t access the room from the inside, you have to go outside to get to it. Seeing how the only entrance to the Unconventional Room is an exterior door, it can be locked.

There were bunk beds in the room when we took our initial tour. Okay, it was a kid’s bedroom suite with a full bath. A bedroom with an attached bath that could be locked. It looked like a seclusion room to me. That’s what I called it until I converted it into my workshop.

* * * *

Back to the discussion Lea and I were having.

The house was huge, certainly much larger than anything we needed. Three bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms. Plus the casita. And the pool. And, well, everything! And it had so many goddamn doors! We were going to have to be on double secret alert for the rest of our lives to make sure we didn’t accidentally lose the kit-tens. But it wasn’t any more expensive than our first house. Plus, it came with a maid, and a gardener, and a pool guy, all of which were included in the rent.

A bird in the hand…  Yeah, we took it. Brady Bunch decor and all. It’s probably the only two times in her life that my lovely supermodel wife has made two decisions in less than ten minutes.

* * * *

By the way, Monica is our maid. She’s the best maid we’ve ever had. Miguel is our gardener/pool guy. They are both great at what they do, and we’re fortunate to have them.

* * * *

Our painter, Francisco Flores Bernini, had all of the interior rooms prepped and painted in less than two weeks, except the kitchen. Lea’s boyfriend and my golf wife painted that room. Thank you for that incredible gift, Todd and Phyllis.

Lord Mark had upgraded the kitchen appliances and had moved the old stove and refrigerator into the casita. In the process, the gas line to the stove in the casita had developed a leak. It took Moses the repairman three visits to fix it.

We moved fifty loads of the smaller household items in our SUV from our old house to our new house over a two week time period, with more help from Todd and Phyllis. The moving crew took five hours to transport the rest of our furniture here.

I spent something like unto fifteen hours setting up my home theater system. It sounds so good!! It was built for this house. It took two days to install the water filtration system. It took the satellite dish guys three visits to get our two TV’s up and running.

The locksmith we hired had to make two trips here to rekey four locks on the kitchen doors and the main entrance to one key. It took us about a week to find the key to unlock the third patio door.

* * * *

That mountain of keys! We threw them in a pile on the dining room table, and every time we needed a key we had to dig through the fucking keys until we found the one key we wanted.

Several years ago I had bought a whole bunch of oversized decorative keys. They look like the skeleton keys the head jailer might carry around in an old prison. I hung a decorative key by every exterior door, and the corresponding key to each door.

Mischief managed.

And then there were the light switches. There are a whole lots of those, too. We had to replace at least fifteen light bulbs, but now we know what what most of the switches operate, and the coolest light switch ever is in the hallway running along the bedrooms. It’s a sensor. The lights turn on and off automatically as you enter and exit the hallway. There are two switches we’ll probably never figure out. For all I know, they might turn on the lights at the neighbor’s house. Or, possibly your house.

* * * *

All in all, it took only nine days for Lea and I to put the new place together. We finished today.

Casa Tara, the House of Ten Doors, looks cool. It also feels cool. Literally. It’s like living in a cavern. The high ceilings and the brick and mortar walls make the interior feel as though it’s air conditioned, which will be very nice in the summer. But it’s actually kind of cold inside this time of year.

There are three gas fireplaces; one in the living room, one in the den, and one in the master bedroom. None of them are functional. Yeah, we need to fix that.  ¡Pronto!

There are hundreds of small jobs still left to do. I’ve completed several of them while I’ve been writing this. It’s one reason why it’s taken me so long to finish. It’s also one reason why I need a workshop.

Pretty soon I can start to get back to playing golf three times a week and doing as little as possible of anything else. I was getting really good at personal energy conservation.

Speaking of golf, Phyllis and I are playing in a tournament tomorrow. I need to visualize my one, true, authentic swing. Maybe I’ll be able to do it once or twice when the spotlight is on me…

* * * *

We’ll be taking reservations at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa soon as the Casita/Guest House is ready. Please call ahead to check availability before showing up at the front gate. Ring the doorbell if you arrive unannounced. It’s a big place. We might not see you otherwise.

Tumbling Dice

Hola, amigos. How’s it going?

I decided to try to write something today. I’m not sure what, so that always adds a degree of difficulty or two to this task. I have a lots of random thoughts rolling around inside of my head. The tricksiest part is putting them all together so they have a modicum of synchronicity.

Whenever I find myself in this dilemma, I tend to begin with updates about what’s been going on in our lives lately. I’m pretty sure that’s all this post is going to end up being, so if you could care less about that, you might as well do something else.

We’re retired. I doubt anything about our lives is all that interesting. But I did discover something cool the other day. The Spanish word for retirement is jubilación.

That’s right baby, jubilation. It sounds even more better gooder in Spanish.

* * * *

Retirement has been the most blissful time of our lives. I’ve said this before, it’s the least stressful time that I can remember. I literally don’t have a schedule, or an agenda, or an itinerary. There are very few things that I have to write on my calendar anymore. If I feel like doing something, I do it. If I don’t, well, there’s always tomorrow. Or next week. Or whenever…

And then two things happened that impacted our stress-free lives.

One, we adopted kit-tens.

This hasn’t increased the stress levels in our lives. Unless they’re attacking my feet, which they do like little furry ninjas. Little Known Fact About Me: my feet are incredibly ticklish. I just about fly through the roof if anyone touches my feet. I’ve had to practice godlike restraint to not punt them halfway across the living room.

Mika and Mollie have been growing up fast. Too fast. At this rate, they’ll be going to college by Christmas. They have adjusted to moving in with us, and they now rule the house. Anyone who has had a cat will know the truth of this statement.

I don’t really remember much about the last time we had kit-tens. It was twenty years ago, and I was still working. Plus, I wasn’t as much of a cat lover then, so I had other things on my mind.

I’ve had a lots of time to observe our kit-tens this time around, and it has been a blast. They were learning how to walk when we brought them home. They’ve graduated from that and are testing out what else they can do now.

I’ve been documenting the progression of kit-ten growth and development with videos on my Facebook page. Kit-tens are simply darlingpreshadorbs! Their antics are so entertaining. If you’re depressed, watch kit-ten videos. You won’t need medications.

Mika and Mollie have become very good at jumping, which is evidently something kit-tens love to do. Because the kit-tens have become so good at jumping, they can now get onto our bed. They join us at night and wrestle for an hour before their batteries die out and they fall asleep. When they wake up in the morning, so do we.

They love to help us, no matter what it is we’re doing. Folding laundry is something they can’t resist. They are absolutely fascinated when I clean out their litter box. They look up at me like they’re asking, What the hell are you doing? We buried that stuff in there!!

That reminds me. I should probably buy another litter box. Soon.

They love to add their perspectives to my blog. And Mika actually posted a picture on my Instagram account last week. The thing that pissed me off about it was she did it faster than I ever have.

The only thing the kit-tens have an aversion to is vacuuming. I vacuum the floors at least once a day now. It’s the only time I don’t have to worry about accidentally stepping on a kit-ten when they come racing out of nowhere to attack my feet.

* * * *

The second thing that happened is we have to move, and that has increased the stress levels in our lives. We’ve looked at several houses so far, but haven’t found anything we’ve fallen in love with.

One was way too small for us. The rest of them were large enough, but… A couple of them were gorgeous, but one was way out of our budget. Another looked like an art museum, but the owner wanted to keep all of her very expensive custom art and furniture in the house.

I would’ve been afraid to sneeze in there. And Lea said she would never feel like she was living in her house.

Another was reasonably close to what we wanted, except it felt like a prison yard, minus the armed guards. And someone had painstakingly painted verses of Scripture on several of the walls, so you could get your mind right with the Lord while you served out your term in solitary.

One was undergoing a major renovation. It’s going to be gorgeous, but that process is going to take several months. Also, the owner wasn’t sure how much he’s going to need for rent to get a return on his investment.

We looked at close to fifty houses before we bought our house in Surprise. I’m hoping we won’t have to repeat that process this time around.

That was more or less because of Lea. She had a detailed wish list of what she needed in a house. Open concept. Huge, modern kitchen. Split floor plan. Master suite with a spacious walk-in closet. A swimming pool.

Our realtor, Cynthia McNicol, understood Lea’s desires, and agreed all of those were requisite.

I’m a guy. Guys essentially live like bears with furniture, and not necessarily nice furniture. The only thing I wanted when we were looking for a house was a three car garage.

“That’s it?” Cynthia asked. If there’s a word that describes something beyond stunned, that’s what Cynthia was. She probably thought I was a moron. “As long as Lea is happy, that’s all I need.”

“Smart man.” Cynthia replied, and her opinion of me changed in a heartbeat. “Happy wife, happy life.”

Exactly. Happy husband–no one cares! They didn’t even bother to come up with a word that rhymes with husband. I didn’t see the house we’re living in before we moved here. I told Lea to find a place she liked and wrap it up.

Our friends here have been keeping an eye or two open, looking for potential houses for us. We got an alert from Cheryl about a house in Chula Vista. It’s a development a couple of miles east of where we live now, on the mountainside. It doesn’t have a scenic view of the lake, but the backyard looks down on the Chula Vista golf course.

I’ve never golfed there, and I doubt that I ever will. The course was carved out the side of the mountain, and there are no golf carts. If I still wanted to march over hill, over dale, and hit the dusty trail, I would have never left the Army.

The Chula Vista house is huge, much larger than our current home. Four bedrooms, four bathrooms. More closets than I’ve ever seen in one house. There’s a swimming pool in the backyard, and a casita. It’s like unto a little apartment where guests you don’t really like can stay if they come to visit.

The best part, it won’t cost more than the house we’re currently in.

We went to see it this morning. Lea loved it. And just like that, our home search ended. We can start moving in on November 1st. That was easier than I thought it would be.

* * * *

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately, but something feels amiss. It’s not a physical thing. I don’t feel any worse than I normally do. I’m not battling an infection, or an illness.

Last week was the anniversary of the death of Lea’s mom. I’ve written about that series of events in a previous post. I’m not going to say much about it here, but it was easily the worst week of my life. That could be the cause of my unease. Those ghosts of traumas past. It doesn’t matter where you go, those fuckers will always know where to find you.

There’s a good chance I was emotionally bindsided. Given my relatively stress-free life, I haven’t needed to expend much energy maintaining my defense system. That’s one of the hazards of PTSD. All it takes is one little trigger and things can unravel quickly.

My activity level is down, too. I used to golf three times a week. It’s been more like once a week lately. And it hasn’t been that much fun. The rainy season should be winding down soon… Probably.

When you know what the problem is, you can start working on a solution.

* * * *

If you’re still reading this, thank you. It hasn’t been easy to write, so it probably hasn’t been much fun to read. I may not have much time to write once our moving process kicks off.

But writing about my angst has helped me regain my sense of balance. And finding our next place of residence has removed that uncertainty. Things tend to have a way of working out in life if you don’t panic.

One Simple Thing

Do you remember when the Age of Political Correctness began?

I’m not sure of the exact date and time, and I’m not interested enough to Google® it to find out. The thing is, I’m reasonably sure that political correctness became popular because it was supposed to make our lives simpler and easier. Distill everything down to the least common denominator and we would all be on equal footing.

And then we discovered what a slippery slope political correctness actually was.

It was confusing as hell for me. There are reasons for this, of course. I was raised in a time of political unrest, not correctness. My generation was not going to be silent. We wanted our voices to be heard.

And there was alcohol. I used to drink. A lots. Drunk people tend to lack filters. Almost anything that pops into their heads is likely to come out of their mouths. I like to think that I was a pretty funny guy back when I drank. But I wasn’t always funny, and sometimes I was a real dick.

I could never survive a Congressional investigation into my past, though if I testified that I couldn’t remember a specific event, it would probably be true. Those aren’t the things that would scare me. It’s all the things I do remember. Satan, if he exists, likely held himself to a higher moral standard than I did in my youth.

However, I would be able to state with complete confidence that I have never had sex with a goat.

The Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings have brought the collective sins of our youth into a focus that can only be achieved through an electron microscope, prompting Donald Trump to say this, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America…”

Yes. Equal footing for our sons has been achieved. Now they know how our daughters feel.

Nor was The Donald speaking for all young men. Whether by accident or design, he was referring to young white men. It’s been a scary time for young African-American men since, well, forever.

The thing President Trump found to be the scariest was that “…you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.” Guilt, I think, is still something that has to be proven. A lots of people have accused me of being an angel, and I know they’re wrong about that.

This latest shitstorm came to light when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. In his defense, Mr. Kavanaugh produced a calendar that didn’t note he had sexually assaulted anyone, and admitted that he liked drinking beer.

One of my female friends pointed out that he never described himself as a raging drunk. Back when I really was a raging drunk, I didn’t describe myself that way either. It’s called denial.

As for not leaving a paper trail of your crimes, that’s simply self-preservation.

Is Mr. Kavanaugh guilty? Did Dr. Blasey Ford make all this stuff up? From my experience, I can tell you when there are two disparate stories, someone is lying.

* * * *

I’ve been thinking about this post, or something like unto it, for a few months now. I still don’t want to write it. There are reasons for that, too. I’m not a political pundit. I will freely admit that I try not to think about the current political situation in the US, or any other country for that matter.

I am probably the last person you want to talk to if you’re seeking clarity about American politics.

Be that as it may, I find that I am distressed by what has been happening in the country of my birth. A lots of people are, on both sides of the divide that currently exists in the American political system.

It is this schism that I find particularly distressing. A house divided against itself cannot stand. A guy named Jesus said that a couple of thousand years ago when he started preaching his message. A guy named Abraham Lincoln repeated it sixteen hundred years later, two years before the beginning of the American Civil War.

Whether this vast political divide is the cause of all the turmoil in my former country, or merely a symptom of something deeper and more insidious would take someone far more discerning than I am to diagnose. But lack of understanding has rarely stopped me from going where I have no business being.

Ready? Here we go.

* * * *

The American political system is composed of two major parties. The Assholes, and the Other Assholes. Some of you may know them as the Republicans and the Democrats. And once upon a time they actually used to work together for the betterment of the country.

I’m not going to offer an in-depth examination of the American political system, but I’ll elaborate this much. The Republicans are the right-wing, conservative party. The Democrats are the left-wing, liberal party. If you need more context than that, read something. Or watch a video on the YouTube®.

I’m not sure when the precise moment that the political chasm that separates the two parties occurred, but as far as I can tell, the only things our elected government officials do now is say some partisan based uncomplimentary things about each other, get together once a year to approve a budget, and the rest of the time they campaign to try to keep their very cushy jobs.

Any time this guy has more credibility than anyone in Congress:

giphy

That’s a problem.

I’m not even sure why the Republicans and the Democrats decided they needed to oppose each other tooth and nail on anything the other party proposes, but instead of seeing each other as their esteemed colleagues from across the aisle, they now view each other as the enemy from the wrong side of the tracks.

One theory I’ve heard about the lack of meaningful dialog between the parties is because the extremism of both parties is too great.

Perhaps that’s true. If you know the answers to any of the questions I’m not going to even try to answer, please feel free to fill in the blanks for all of us. You can comment on this post.

The Extremism Theory holds some water in my bucket of beliefs for one reason. And that reason is the current titular leader of the Republicans. President of the United States and Disgruntled Teenager with a Twitter Account, Donald Trump.

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of The Donald. He has done more in two years to divide the country than anyone has since the birth of rock and roll music. I don’t think President Trump created the Great Political Divide. He simply brought the boundaries into a stark relief, and sharpened the edges.

I call this new status quo The Walmart Intelligentsia v. The People With Brains.

Is he a bad President? I don’t know. Like unto pretty much every President I can remember, people either love him or hate him. And I don’t think it’s the politics or the policies. It’s who you are. If you’re liked as a person, you’ll probably be liked as a President.

Except Jimmy Carter. Great person, lousy President.

I think The Donald is a buffoon. You know who else does? The United Nations. The General Assembly actually interrupted his last speech there to laugh at him. And he wasn’t telling a joke!

There’s no doubt that he’s a narcissist. He makes fun of handicapped people. He disparages anyone who doesn’t agree with him. He’s a misogynist. He fabricates facts and accuses the media of fake news. He’s a schoolyard bully in a suit. In an age of political correctness, he’s everything none of us are supposed to be anymore.

And, he’s the President. How is this even possible?

Donald Trump is essentially the least Presidential acting President since Franklin Pierce. For those of you who don’t know about Pierce, he saw his only surviving son get horrifically killed to death. His son was run over by a train a few weeks before President-elect Pierce was inaugurated. President Pierce spent most of his time in the Oval Office in a drunken stupor.

On the bright side, I haven’t heard any reports about The Donald getting drunk. In my opinion, he’s already unstable enough. That instability has essentially drawn a line in the sand between his supporters, who absolutely love him, and his detractors, who totally despise him.

There is no middle ground here. In a world rife with gray areas, this is vividly black or white. Period.

* * * *

“Let the word go forward from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” A guy named John F. Kennedy said that in his inaugural address. What was true then is true now.

The leaders of the current Asshole party and the Other Asshole party are straight outta my generation. We have done some great things in our time, but elevating a pissing contest into some sort of incomprehensible art form? There’s nothing great or even laudable about that.

We must remember, as Franklin Roosevelt so eloquently stated, that “…problems created by man can be solved by man, so long as we pull together toward a common end.” Therefore, it is incumbent upon the generations that have followed us Baby Boomers to vote all of those motherfuckers out of political office as quickly as possible. That’s not a joke.

It’s a call to arms.

To every forgotten male and woman out there who chooses not to vote because they feel their vote won’t make a difference, you are wrong. Your vote makes the only difference.

Distill this problem down to the least common denominator.

It’s a simple thing.

There’s a simple solution.

* * * *

FEMA recently instituted the Presidential Alert system. It’s similar to the state-level systems that let police and local authorities send out AMBER Alerts and weather warnings, except from now on they’ll come from the Commander-in-Chief.

Afterwards, Donald Trump may or may not have tweeted something like unto this: Just sent a message to 300 million people. No one responded. Oh well…

I’m sure I saw this, but I haven’t been able to verify it since. Seeing how President Trump can play it fast and loose with the facts, there’s no reason I can’t do the same. My Twitter account was actually suspended because I used to respond to the President’s tweets. A lots.

Give the people some time, Donny. I’m sure they’ll respond to you soon.

Like, November.

The House We Used To Live In

As some of you are possibly aware, one week ago my lovely supermodel wife and I found out we have to find a new place to live.

Yeah, that kind of sucketh greatly.

We really love the place we’re in. It had everything we were looking for when we decided to move here, and it’s three doors down from Phyllis’ house. Phyllis is my wife’s best friend, and she’s also my golf wife. In terms of location, it was perfect.

We’ll be hard pressed to find a better landlady than Planet Janet, but ultimately this is merely an inconvenience to us. I could tell you the story of how all of this got happened, but it’s a real messy personal disaster for Janet.

You don’t need to know all of the details.

Have you ever seen the movie Young Doctors in Love? It’s a spoof of TV soap operas, like, General Hospital. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and because I worked in the medical field, I thought it was beyond hilarious. You might want to check it out if you don’t have anything else to do.

One of the characters is an elderly Mafia don whose family is in a war with a rival family. He ends up in the hospital, and his oldest son disguises himself as a woman so he can visit his father without, you know, ending up getting killed to death in the process. One of the young doctors starts falling in love with her. Him. Whatever.

The young Mafia don-in-training isn’t exactly ladylike. In fact, he/she swears like two drunken Marines, and one of the catchlines he/she says is, “For various fuckin’ reasons…”

That’s why we have to move. Let’s just leave it at that.

It’s not all bad news. We have at least fifteen months to find another home. We’re meeting with a realtor this morning. Several of our friends are keeping their eyes open for us. And we’re following up on any rental leads in the local publications and social media.

I’m sure we’ll find another suitable abode eventually. I’ll keep you posted.

* * * *

Tenemos gatitas! Pequeños leones de la casa feroz!!

For those of you who aren’t bilateral like I am, that’s Spanish for, We have kit-tens! Ferocious little house lions!!

Mika and Mollie. They’re still adorable. They’ve taken control of the house. And us. The little terrorists, with talons of death. Bare feet are irresistible to kit-tens, and they attack out of nowhere. We’ve learned quickly to watch our steps with kit-tens underfoot. My lower legs look like unto I’ve been skipping through a field of barbwire.

They’re growing so fast! They’re about twice the size they were when we brought them home. They’re running and climbing over everything. It’s been very entertaining, and sometimes exhausting, having them around.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Betty, has seen the kit-tens a couple of times for vaccinations. She has fallen in love with them, too. Her partner, Dr. Gaby, doesn’t think our kit-tens are part Himalayan. She thinks they’re part Siamese. Seminese/Semilayan. It’s all good.

* * * *

The Minnesota Vikings lost again. They got beat by the  Los Angeles Rams, who just might be the best team in the NFL this year. The good news was the Vikings made a game of it, and had a couple of chances to at least tie the game before they ultimately lost. The bad news is the Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend and they are the defending world champions.

Yeah. The Vikings are probably going to lose that game, too.

* * * *

Virtual Update: My social media BFF’s have been busy. Grecia is pregnant with her first child. Serena is getting back into shape after her second child. Danessa is getting married next year. Mark’s girlfriend broke up with him and he’s devastated.

I still get random requests from young women who are interested in a serious relationship with my money, but I’m less likely to even acknowledge them anymore.

I guess an old dog really can learn new tricks…

* * * *

We just got back from looking at our second potential new home. It was a nice place. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms. The only thing we didn’t like about it was it lacks any scenic views, but that’s a huge drawback.

The first place we looked at was a cute little place in our current development, but it was way too small for our needs. In one of the most generous offers I’ve ever heard, Phyllis said she’d move into it, and we could rent her house.

It’s hard to render me speechless, but that did.

When it comes to our new home, neither Lea nor I are willing to compromise when it comes to what we want. Neither of us wants to settle for something because we’ll probably end up hating the place, and then we’ll end up moving. Again.

I am not a big fan of moving. Lea isn’t either. It’s one of the many things we have in common.

Well, why don’t you just buy your own place then, you might ask. It’s a valid question. The biggest drawback is the lack of reasonable mortgage financing in Mexico. Some financing is available, but it’s not like the US.

We could probably buy our own place, but it would easily wipe out half of our retirement savings, and neither of us is wild about that. Housing and real estate is one area where it’s cheaper in Mexico doesn’t apply.

Someone figured out a long time ago that all of the gringos here would pay serious cash for beautiful houses to live in. A nice house here would cost us roughly the same as it would in Phoenix.

I’m finding it hard to stay focused on writing. Between the kit-tens jumping on my lap to help me type and checking for housing updates every thirty seconds, I’ve been having more than a little difficulty completing two consecutive sentences.

I’m sure there have been times when I have procrastinated about starting a project. Or finishing something I’ve started. Like this blog.

And even though we have something like unto fifteen months to find another house, neither of us wants this process to take that long. We basically want to find a place in the next fifteen minutes. The reality is that our best chance of finding our next place won’t happen until April or May of next year.

Hey, it is what it is. Patience is a virtue. Breathe in. Breathe out.

That’s what I used to tell my patients.

Looks like I’m back in business.

The Year of the Cat

It’s Sunday. I usually reserve Sundays for watching football. But today, the Minnesota Vikings took the day off. It’s too bad, because they were supposed to play the Buffalo Bills.

Way back in the day, professional football was something a select few guys did for a few months, then went back to their real jobs when the season was over. Nowadays, professional football is a year-round endeavor. For the coaches and players, it’s their only job. It’s not just a job, it’s a career.

From that point of view, there’s no excuse for a football team that’s allegedly this good to look so bad against a team they were supposed to beat by sixteen points. There’s no doubt that there’s a lots of talent on the Vikings roster, but you didn’t see any of it on the field today.

In an upset of epic proportions, the Vikings lost to the Bills, 27-6. The Bills, who lost their first two games this season by a total of fifty five points. I don’t know how to explain this, except it’s possible that the Vikings thought they were already in the Super Bowl. Then their performance is easily explained.

They haven’t looked this bad since the NFC Championship game last year. The only good thing about this game was the new Vikings kicker didn’t miss any field goals. As far as I know, he wasn’t even given the opportunity to attempt one. Anyone who knows anything about sports will tell you there’s a name for good teams that don’t beat bad teams.

Losers.

It’s nothing new for my team. They’ve played like this for as long as I can remember. Look like true Viking warriors one week, then look hungover drag queens the next. It kind of sucks. I am a big fan of professional football, and the Vikings. This NFL season is only three weeks old, and I’m already kind of over it.

If this truly is the Year of the Cat, the Jacksonville Jaguars should win the Super Bowl.

This year’s football roller coaster ride went south in a hurry.  My lovely supermodel fanatic wife was so disgusted she didn’t even yell at the TV once. She just quit watching the game and went out on the patio. I quit watching, too. I changed the channel to the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods won! It was an amazing comeback for him, and for his sport. He’s clearly the most popular golfer in the world.

I could say something about my golf game, except I don’t have any meaningful updates. I haven’t even been golfing much. It’s been tremendously wet down here, in terms of water. I guess it doesn’t matter who says that line, it still sounds stupid.

* * * *

Year of the Cat is a song by Al Stewart. It got a lots of air time on the radio back in 1976 or so. It’s about a guy who’s taking a guided bus tour through the Middle East. During one stop, he and his fellow tourists go out to look around at a local marketplace. The surroundings remind the guy of scenes he saw in the movie Casablanca.

As he wanders around the bazaar, he sees a beautiful, “mysterious” girl. She’s not a local, but has been living in the area since the Year of the Cat. I guess that’s what makes her so mysterious. She leads him back to her room where they make love for hours, of course. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds that the tour bus is gone. So are his luggage, his clothes and his money.

It’s a very pretty, cautionary song about the hazards of leaving your group when you’re a tourist in a foreign country, apparently.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I retired to a foreign country, but I doubt either of us will ever have a misadventure at any of the local bazaars like unto the one outlined above.

Neither of us are in the market for any random hook-ups at this point in time of our lives. The only thing we have been in the market for since we got back from vacation, is a kit-ten. Or two.

We used to have a kit-ten, Samantha. She lived with us for twenty years. Sadly, we had to put her down in February of this year. I figured Lea would last about six months without a cat. I was more or less correct in my timeline. When Lea started her search she said she would be willing to take two kit-tens if they were from the same litter.

I don’t think I predicted that, but I can’t say that I was surprised to hear it.

Lea went to the nearest kit-ten rescue shelter a couple of times after we returned to Mexico and checked out the kit-tens, but she didn’t find the right one. We went to a place called Casa Miau, another cat rescue shelter in Jocotopec, the westernmost town in the Lakeside Area. It’s run by Don and Anita. They own a house in Joco, and rented another house just for their twenty-some-odd rescue cats.

There was only one problem. Anita seemingly didn’t want to part with any of her cats, even though she said all she wanted to do was to find good homes for them, and get her life back.

“I’m here everyday. I had to hire helpers because I can’t keep up with it anymore. That’s Chola. She’s not the right cat for you. That’s Paco. He’s not the right cat for you either. That’s Chance. He’s not going anywhere.”

We didn’t come home with a cat, but we accidentally heard about some orphaned kit-tens while we were at Casa Miau. We had taken a friend of ours named Randy, who has done a lots of animal rescue work, when we went to visit Anita’s herd of cats.

Anita mentioned the kit-tens to Randy because she didn’t have the time nor the energy to take care of any more cats. So Randy went to see the couple who were suddenly raising the three kit-tens whose mother had vanished. And that was how we met Rob and Pat.

They also live in Joco. They’re artists, quite good artists, in my opinion. Roughly eight weeks ago, a stray cat wandered into one of their art studios and decided it would be the perfect place to have her three babies, two females and one male. She would go hunting every day, but always returned to take care of her babies. Until the day she didn’t.

Rob and Pat knew nothing about about being kit-ten foster parents, but Randy did. She taught them how to bottle feed kit-tens, and all the other stuff you need to do when you’re a pet foster parent. Rob and Pat have four or five dogs. They like cats, but didn’t feel they needed more pets. Mostly what they wanted was to find good homes for their orphaned kit-tens.

And that’s how we met Mika and Mollie. They’re sisters, the two females in the litter. It was love at first sight for both Lea and myself. We had to wait nine days before we brought them home, but there was never any question in Lea’s mind whether she had found her new kit-tens or not.

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That’s Mika on the left. She has the cutest little kit-ten face. And that’s Mollie on the right. She’s fuzzier than Mika, and a bit bigger than her sister. The fuzzy fur is the easiest way to tell them apart. They look remarkably similar.

I’m not sure what their mother looked like, but our kit-tens almost look like Himalayans. Maybe they’re Semilayans? Whatever they are, they’re so little, and so cuuuute! They’re maybe eight weeks old at the most. They’re just learning to eat solid food. And run. And jump. And do kit-ten stuff.

They are seriously darlingpreshadorbs!

I’ve never been the parent of small  children. The only thing I’ve ever raised in my life is hell, and it’s probably the last qualification that anyone would look for in a foster parent for anything. Luckily, Lea has raised children, and kit-tens before. I’ve been counting on her expertise to get me through the first few weeks or months until the kit-tens don’t need constant supervision.

My duties so far have been cleaning the litter box and cleaning the floor. I’m okay with this. I have experience in those fields. The other thing I’ve been doing is buying things, like, cat condos, scratching posts and play toys. I think the kit-tens will eventually grow to like the play toys more than they like crumpled wads of paper, or my toes, someday…

I might grow to appreciate their help with writing my blog someday, too. I’ve had to stop writig multiple times today when they’ve climbed on top of my lap to edit what I’ve been writing about them. If I ever get tired of doing this, I might let them take over. They might be better writers than I am.

I will never get tired of watching them play. Kit-tens are kind of like furry, little wind up toys. They run around at manic speed for as long as they can, then sleep for an hour or so. They make me smile like unto a

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A Football Wife

Hey there, sports fans.

Today is Día de la Independencia in Mexico. There’s a band playing in the eventos right below our development. There will probably be a band playing there almost every night from now until Christmas Day.

I call it Fiesta Season. Bands. Cerveza. Music. Más cerveza. Singing. Tequila. Fireworks. It’s basically a four month party. I don’t mind the loud music. Most of the time I think it’s really cool, and it adds to the charm of our retirement lives.

I am not a fan of the fireworks. Mexican fireworks are essentially sky rockets made out of sticks of dynamite. That first one always catches me by surprise, and I always have to check if I shit my pants. After I crawl out from under the bed.

The following explosions aren’t as traumatic. You tend to get used to them. Or you leave.

* * * *

And, another American football season is underway. It’s basically a five month roller coaster ride for most football fans. My lovely supermodel wife is starting to believe it’s true for her. I don’t usually brag about myself much, but I won the Grand Slam of Marriage when I married Lea. Spooky-smart, beautiful, great cook, and she loves football.

I’ve been a Vikings fan since I was a kid. Lea has been a Vikings fan since she married me. She didn’t know anything about football when we got married.

“I wanted to know something about the game, but my dad and my ex-husband wouldn’t explain it to me. They said it was too complicated and I wouldn’t understand.”

Yeah, right.

I didn’t have any problems explaining it to her. Football isn’t that complicated.  It’s not like cricket, which makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. Even people who understand it can’t explain it. Lea has a very good grasp of football. She can hold her own with any guy on the planet when it comes to talking about her team. She can break down a game with the best of them.

Somewhat oddly, I think I become a little less of a fan as each year goes by and my team fails to win the Super Bowl. Again. Plus, I’ve just about had it with the NFL. Between the rule changes and the controversy over the national anthem, I’d give up on the game entirely. Except it’s football, and there’s nothing else like it.

Equally oddly, I think Lea becomes a little more of a fanatic each year. Somehow, balance is maintained, and that’s always a good thing.

Last year the Vikings made it all the way to the NFC Championship game. Some people think they’ll go all the way this year. They have a good team, but making it to the Super Bowl requires far more than just a good team. In every football season there are at least ten good teams, or more, that don’t play in the Super Bowl.

The Vikings had the best defense in the NFL last year. I don’t know what happened over the off season, but there appears to have been a dramatic drop off in their performance from what I’ve seen so far this year.

I have one theory about this, and I’ll get to it a little later.

To enhance their chances of winning it all this year, the Vikings added some key players through free agency and the draft, most notably, Kirk Cousins at quarterback. He might be the missing piece of their championship puzzle.

The Vikings thought they were missing just one puzzle piece before. In the end, they didn’t win the Super Bowl, but the trade they made allowed the Dogass Cowboys to win three of them.

There are a few NFL teams I don’t like. The Patriots. The Steelers. The Eagles. But I hate only one team. If Dallas never won another game, I’d be okay with that.

Elite quarterbacks in the NFL make a ridiculous amount of money. Kirk Cousins signed a three year contract with the Vikings worth $84 million US dollars. That’s something like unto a ga-zillion Mexican pesos.

But football is the ultimate team sport. One guy probably isn’t going to make your team great. I wasn’t convinced this was a personnel move that the Vikings needed to make. Until today. The Vikings played the Green Bay Packers and almost won a game they absolutely should have lost. And the reason they almost won was Kirk Cousins. He completed 35 of 48 pass attempts for 425 yards and four touchdowns.

One of the reasons the Vikings almost lost was because of a guy named Laquon Treadwell. He’s a wide receiver. He was the Vikings number one draft choice in 2016, and signed a four year contract worth almost $10 million. In two years, he’s caught 21 passes for less than 300 yards, and he scored his first NFL touchdown today.

That comes to roughly $476,000 per catch. In football terms, he’s been an absolute bust so far. In football fan terms, he totally sucks. He might have caught his first TD pass today, but he dropped at least four passes and deflected one pass directly to one of the Packers’ defenders for an interception that almost cost his team the game.

I think Lea stopped breathing when that happened. I have never been a fan of Laquon Treadwell, and I’ve been wondering why he’s still on the team for two years.

It was at this precise moment that I kind of fell in love with Kirk Cousins. Laquon looked like he was ready to kill himself, and Kirk came up to him and said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get ’em next time.”

That was a class move, and was probably worth $10 million all by itself. If Laquon Treadwell ever becomes a decent NFL receiver, he’ll probably owe it to Kirk Cousins.

As it turned out, the final score was a tie. 29-29. And the reason it ended that way was another personnel change. The Vikings released their veteran place kicker and signed a kid from Auburn named Dan Carlson. In football terms, he has a monster leg, and signed a contract worth $728,000 for this year.

Dan missed three field goals today. One attempt was 35 yards, a distance a guy with a monster leg ought to be able to hit even if he only had one leg. Two of his misses were in the overtime period. My lovely and fanatical supermodel wife didn’t take that well.

“You have one fucking job! ONE!!” she screamed at the TV three times today. I don’t think Lea likes any kicker, and she sure as hell doesn’t like Dan Carlson right now. She is just too cute for words as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve come to realize that everyone has a bad day, and this was clearly the worst day of young Mr. Carlson’s life. I’m sure the Vikings will him a chance to redeem himself, but he should realize that NFL stands for Not For Long if you’re a field goal kicker that can’t kick a field goal.

* * * *

Will the Vikings win the Super Bowl this year? Based on what I’ve seen thus far, I don’t think so. On paper, the Vikings have a great defense. But this game isn’t played on paper, and the defense I’ve seen has had moments of greatness, but they have not been consistently great.

Part of this is an attitude thing. The Vikings seem to think their opponents should fear their greatness. If they looked at the tape of the games, they should be able to see that none of their opponents have feared them yet, and they aren’t going to find many teams that do.

Not the way they’re playing right now. So it’s probably a very good thing that the Vikings spent a couple of truckloads of money for a guy who can throw a lots of touchdowns.

My lovely supermodel head coach wife agrees with me on this issue. She is far more anxious about how this year’s team is going to perform than I am, but I have a twenty year head start on her when it comes to being disappointed by the Vikings.

This year’s roller coaster ride is going to be a whole lots worse than last year. I better stock up on my blood pressure medication because I think I’m going to need to double my dose on Sundays.

Mark’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize.

Creating unnecessary drama isn’t something I normally do. In all honesty, I have a deep-seated aversion to it. I was a pysch nurse. I saw enough of that crap to last me the rest of my life and half of my next life.

Normally, I would’ve kept any personal drama to myself. Well, I probably would’ve shared it with lovely supermodel wife. But this time I went outside of my usual boundaries. I did what any other person living in this day of social media frenzies would do. I shared it with the whole world. And it wasn’t just one overblown incident. There were two.

This is not to say that I have never been a drama queen with multiple pots boiling over. Every alcoholic has that skill listed on their resumé. The fact that this is something I’m no longer invested in makes me smile.

I have a need to explain some of what happened. So, without further ado, put on your hip waders and let’s jump into the swamp and get this over with.

* * * *

Drama #1: A Tale of Two Websites

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” That is the famous opening line of the novel, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The two cities in question are London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution. It’s a good book. If you haven’t read it, you might want to check it out.

In my case, the two sites are WordPress and Facebook. I write all of my blogs on WordPress, then link them to my Facebook page. The reason for that is simple. Facebook wasn’t designed for bloggers.

Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online. WordPress is an open source website creation tool. It’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system in existence today.

In the past, all of my blog posts on WordPress were more or less automatically posted on to my Facebook page because you can share everything on WordPress with multiple sites, Facebook being only one of them. That was a good thing because something like 80% of the people who read my blog come from Facebook.

On August 1st, Facebook changed their policy regarding linking external sites to your profile page. Basically, you couldn’t do it anymore. I could create another Facebook page. That was the only way I could still post my blog installments to Facebook. It probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal to me if I wasn’t going to lose most of my audience.

Now, I could say I don’t really care if anyone reads my blog, but that would be a profound untruth. All artists want their work to be appreciated by others. If not, there wouldn’t be any reason to create anything.

My initial response to Facebook’s policy change was that I was 80% fucked. I’m not exactly skilled at a lots of computer stuff. I’m the opposite of a computer geek. I’m what most Help Desk Tech guys would call a moron.

What follows is a very condensed version of the events that occurred last Friday.

I stumbled through the easy to follow instructions and created a new Facebook page. Even I thought it seemed pretty simple, at first. Then everything I had done just disappeared, and I found myself back at the starting line again. When I stopped swearing at Mark Zuckerberg, I started all over, though I’m pretty sure I never actually stopped swearing.

When I finished, I announced the creation of new Facebook page on my old Facebook page, and I sent the link to my new page, out into the Cyberworld. I was seriously stunned by the response. I honestly had no idea so many of my friends read my blog.

I don’t get a lots of”Likes.” A few people might make a comment.  If neither of those options are employed, I wouldn’t know anyone had visited my site.

However, thank you, all of you. Your response touched me deeply.

It was somewhere around this point in time that I discovered I hadn’t created just one new Facebook page. I had created two of them.

Little Known Fact About The Facebook Pages I Had Just Created: there doesn’t appear to be any way to delete one of them. I mean, there probably is. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Thankfully, there was an option that allowed me to merge my pages.

That actually made me laugh because I’m apparently not the only moron who has made this mistake before and Facebook has had to take this into account.

When I merged my two new Facebook pages I discovered that I couldn’t merge them into the page I just created and announced to the Cyberworld. In addition, all of the content I had loaded onto my second new page had vanished.

It was right about this time that I wished I had never quit drinking.

I was a psych nurse. I’m a very patient man, with humans. Computers, on the other hand, can turn me into an axe murderer in about five seconds.

I suppose frustrated could describe my state of mind at about this point in time, but it doesn’t seem adequate. To make a long story, punctuated with a lots of profanity very short, I eventually created yet another new Facebook page then made yet another announcement to the Cyberworld, then I went to bed.

I’m reasonably confident this installment of my blog will automatically post to my new Facebook page. I really don’t want to contemplate any other outcome.

* * * *

Drama #2: My Idiot Brother

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The very next day, I had to Unfriend my brother from my Facebook page. I can’t say we were good friends. I’ve had problems being in the same room with him since 2007, and it’s only gotten worse with time.

I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities. I haven’t seen Our Idiot Brother. It’s probably very funny. Conversely, there’s nothing funny about my real life idiot brother. It’s not even a joke that he’s an idiot. It’s just a tragedy.

I’ve contemplated writing about my brother several times, but always found a way to write about anything else. Including nothing. That was a level of Hell I wasn’t willing to enter if there were any other options. I’m still not convinced this is a good idea, but I’m sure he’s saying a whole lots of outrageous things about me.

I want there to be a written rebuttal.

Little Known Fact About IQ Ratings: Way back in the day, Moron and Idiot were actual IQ classifications. According to a model designed by Albert Levine and Julius Marks, a moron had an IQ of 50 to 69. An idiot had an IQ of less than 20.

I have four brothers. John, Tom, Bruce and Bob. My brother in question is John. Like unto all brothers, we were fiercely competitive. Unlike all brothers, that competition became something of an obsession to John.

I wouldn’t discover this until years later, it was after John and I started writing to each other when he was in prison. I kept his letters for a long time, but only because I thought I might have to turn them over to the police one day. I decided to throw them all out when we moved to Mexico.

I could hold on to that poison for only so long.

* * * *

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I come from a long line of suicidal alcoholics. The successful people in my family are the ones who just kept drinking. Historically, we haven’t raised the bar of our expectations very high. But as far as I know, John is the only person in my family tree who has ever been in prison.

Several years ago, John decided to become a meth dealer, and because he wasn’t an especially organized person, he got busted with a shitload of meth one day in 2012. I think he was originally sentenced to twenty years. His sentence was reduced to ten years because, according to John, there were a lots of busted meth dealers, and there wasn’t enough room in prison for all of them. In fact, there were so many meth dealers that John was incarcerated for only three years before he was released.

Yeah, go figure on that.

As a psych nurse, I had counseled a lots of people who were meth addicts. In retrospect, those people at least claimed that they wanted help. I figured if nothing else, I could help my wayward brother find a better path to choose when he got out of the Big House. I wrote him a couple of encouraging letters. Maybe being the  Meth Lord of Morrison County wasn’t the best career move for him…

You might be able to imagine my surprise when John replied that he rather liked being a Meth Lord, but I doubt it. Being a Meth Lord was cool. John had money. He had friends. He had power. He had women lined up outside of his door who would do anything he asked. Anything.

Try not to figure on that one too much. Your brain might explode. Mine almost did.

How much money do you have in the bank? I asked. How many of your friends have come to visit you? How many women are lined up outside of your prison cell? 

They seemed like reasonable questions to me because I was certain the answer to all of those questions was None.

John didn’t think they were reasonable. I think in terms of the war of words that would follow, John fired the first shot. Neither was this our first battle. The real war between us started back 1979 or something.

It’s safe to say that our relationship deteriorated even more about this time. John said a lots of unkind things about me and my holier than thou attitude. I’m pretty sure I called him a Scum Lord. I know I called him quite a few things when I wrote to him after that. But I think I called him this more than anything else: sociopath.

I was a psych nurse. I knew a sociopath when I saw one. And I knew one other thing: there’s no cure for sociopathy.

I’ve met a lots of sociopathic people in my life. They are not nice people. I engaged with them because I had to, but there was one thing I never did with any of them. I never told any of them what I thought they were. It’s one of the things that tends to really piss them off. I will have to admit, by this time I was no longer trying to be therapeutic with my brother. I was trying to hit him with a baseball bat, hoping that I might accidentally get his head out of his ass in the process.

I thought John’s situation would, you know, make him see the error of his ways. I mean, he was in prison! How much lower did he have to go? Amazingly, John didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. He felt he was a victim of the system. And there was more.

Like me, John had been sexually abused by our uncle. Like me, John had chosen self-destructive coping skills. But if you ever want to break out of that cycle, you have to start seeing yourself as something other than a victim. You have to stop blaming someone else and take responsibility for your actions.

That’s what I had to do. I think most people in this kind of situation would agree it’s true. To the best of my knowledge, John hasn’t been able to do that. What I do know is that he told me how I was responsible for fucking up his life because I had an affair with his first wife.

I’ve done a lots of shitty things in my life, but that wasn’t one of them. I told him that. I have no idea why we kept writing to each other, except once we had started venting our hatred of each other we couldn’t stop. It’s like we were seven years old and in the backseat punching each other. And our dad wasn’t there to warn us to knock it off before he had to stop the car.

John wasn’t about to let the facts about anything confuse him. He started flinging accusations at me that I will never understand. His letters actually made me physically ill. I think the only thing he hasn’t accused me of doing is having sex with a goat. The kindest thing I can say is prison gave John’s imagination free rein, and he has a very twisted imagination. The worst thing I can say is my brother should never have been released from prison.

I don’t know if my brother has started using meth again since his release from the slammer, but I do know he’s been drinking, a lots. I’ve talked to him on the phone several times. He was drunk every time. I quit calling him.

By his own admission, he’s been in treatment at least twice since he’s regained his freedom. That’s what he told me, but I have to take into consideration that he could be lying about treatment. If he has entered a recovery program, it hasn’t taken root yet. Much like our present President, he doesn’t seem to know how to tell the truth.

The reason I decided to Unfriend my brother is he threatened to kill me. Again. I’ve lost count of how many times he’s done that.

I’m going to kill you if you ever have the guts to meet me in person, you fucking chickenshit! Have a good day. You’re my brother and I love you…

Yeah, go figure on that one, too.

To be certain, he’ll never get the opportunity to make good on his threat. There’s no way he can find me in Mexico. I’m not sure he’d actually do it if we ever ran into each other again, but I don’t trust him enough to ever want to take the chance.

Goodbye, brother. I hope you find your way. It’s been said that God loves all of His children. You’ve got that going for you if nothing else.

* * * *

In brighter news, we started looking for a new kit-ten or two. We’ve been to a couple of kit-ten rescue shelters. The kit-tens were cute, of course, but Lea didn’t feel she’d made a special connection with any of them. Apparently, that’s very important in the kit-ten choosing process.

And then Lea got these pictures from a fellow cat lover in the Lakeside Area today:

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They’re so cuuuute!!! They’re sisters. Lea fell in love at first sight. She’s going to meet them tomorrow, and she’s already given them names. Mika and Mollie. I think Lea has found her kit-tens.

* * * *

I, too, have fallen in love. I fell in love with our rental car while we were on vacation. It was an Audi Q7. And what made me fall in love with it was the stereo system. It’s the only reason I buy cars. I test drove the stereo of the Buick Enclave I bought in Arizona. Then I told the salesman to write it up.

“Don’t you want to take it for a test drive first?” he asked. Nope. I just wanted to listen to the stereo. I’ll take it.

It was the easiest sale of his life.

The Q7 is way more car than I’ll ever need here in Mexico. It’s the same size as my Enclave was–roughly the size of a small school bus. But Audi makes a Q5, a somewhat smaller version of the Q7.

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It’s so cuuuute!! And Audis are made in Mexico. I’ll wait a couple of years until I have to replace my Buick Encore. Our Q7 was white, but I kind of like the red model.

I look good in red.