20/20 in 2020

¡Hola, amigos y amigas! ¡Feliz año nuevo! 2019 was a good year for us. I hope 2020 is equally kind to us and all y’all, though it hasn’t started out smoothly for me.

During the holiday season, my lovely supermodel wife and I took our first Mexican vacation and went to Mexico City for nine days. Going on a guided tour is kind of like being back at work. You have to get up early and leave your house.  And there’s a timetable. And a schedule. And other people. And stuff…

And I got a Christmas present I didn’t want. In Mexico, it’s called la gripe.

* * * *

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing, and fatigue. These symptoms can be mild to severe, and all of them combined can kill you to death, possibly from something called a cytokine storm.

Infected lung cells create an overstimulation of the immune system. Excessive amounts of cytokines are subsequently released into the lung tissue. This leads to a massive leukocyte migration into the lungs which, in turn, causes major destruction of lung tissue. In layman’s terms, your lungs turn into a soggy mush and you essentially drown to death in your own fluids even though you’re not under water.

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It is a terrible way to die.

The worst influenza outbreak on record occurred in 1918. It was a worldwide pandemic that killed anywhere from fifty to one hundred million people, depending on whom was doing the statistical analysis. In comparison, World War I, which ended in 1918, resulted in only forty million people getting dead from bullets, bombs and mustard gas.

* * * *

I shouldn’t have come down with the flu. I rarely get sick or catch colds. I like to think I have a good immune system. And I did all of the things you’re supposed to do to prevent getting the flu. I got a fucking flu shot! I guzzled liters of Emergen-C for two days before I got on the tour bus!! I took zinc. And Zycam. And Theraflu. And I still got sicker than a dog.

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Maybe two dogs…

I was in a fog of delirium the entire time we were in Mexico City. If I hadn’t taken so many pictures of the sights we saw, the whole thing could’ve been a dream to me. I can tell you this: Mexico City is incredibly beautiful. And huge. The largest city I’ve ever lived in was Phoenix. Mexico City makes Phoenix look like Dubuque.

I’m finally sure that the flu isn’t going to kill me to death this time. The only symptom I still have is what seems to be an endless case of head/sinus congestion. As result, I’m mostly deaf in one ear and I can’t hear so good out of the other one. Everyone around me sounds like they’re talking underwater. The only thing I can hear clearly is the ringing in my left ear.

This, too, shall pass eventually. That which doesn’t kill you simply gets out of the way so the next thing in line can take its turn…

* * * *

There was one notable passing in our household while we were on vacation. Our LG refrigerator broke down for the sixth and final time. Fortunately, our roommate wasn’t on vacation and literally saved our bacon.

Our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, was true to his word and bought us a brand new GE refrigerator. It was installed last Friday. I’m hoping I’ll never have to write another word about any of the refrigerators here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa.

* * * *

Our roommate experiment with my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend has gone just about as smoothly as it can thus far. Todd and Lea have been friends since middle school. When he decided to relocate here, we invited him to move in with us.

Todd is a good guy, and he’s multi-talented. He loves to garden, and has started growing a whole lots of vegetables and flowers and roses and stuff. He’s also one helluva cook, and has taken over half of the meal preparation for us. For Lea, this is something like unto winning the lottery.

I love to eat. I don’t cook, but I do dishes. With a smile on my face. Winner, winner chicken dinner for me. And pork chops. And ba-sketti, too. Life. Is. Good.

Todd also loves to golf. We hit the links three or four times a week. More golf equals more practice. More practice tends to lead to more better gooder scores. I’m consistently shooting in the nineties now, and frequently in the low nineties. My goal is to shoot 80 by the end of the year.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

* * * *

While our roommate experiment has been a success, our four kit-ten experiment was not. We have two darlingpreshadorbs super cute kit-tens, Mika and Mollie. When a friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer, we took in her two kit-tens, Sadie and Sammy.

Our new kit-tens were sweet and loving. With people. But they developed some serious animosity toward Mika and Mollie. I had anticipated some initial friction between the kit-tens, but I figured they’d eventually get used to each other and peacefully coexist. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

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I was not prepared for the feline turf war that ensued

Sadie and Sammy became gangsta cats, and systematically terrorized Mika and Mollie. All of our ex-pat friends down here are Dog People. None of them wanted a couple of badass thug cats that might terrorize their dogs. So I talked to my good friend and caddy, Francisco Flores Bernini. His neighbor was willing to take in Sadie and Sammy and give them a good home.

There’s peace at our home once more. Mika and Mollie no longer live in fear on top of the refrigerator or the kitchen cabinets. They’ve resumed running and frolicking all throughout their huge playground. It’s good to see them so relaxed again.

Our experiment didn’t turn out the way I expected, but it all worked out in the end.

* * * *

My former, and somehow, still favorite NFL football team, the Minnesota Vikings, finished their regular season by losing their last two games to divisional foes: the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Their 10-6 record was good enough to get them into the postseason playoffs. Then they surprised almost everyone on the planet by stunning the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Wild Card Weekend.

I predicted both of those outcomes. You don’t have to be a prophet to do that. The Vikings are a very predictable team. Over the last three decades, the Vikings have generally been pretty good in the regular season, and they’ve been really good in one playoff game. The last time they won two playoff games in a row was 1987.

Yesterday, they played thirty minutes of decent football before they got  beat up by the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of the game. There will be no Super Bowl rings for the Vikings this year. Again. Good thing I didn’t got dead from the Mexico City flu. I might still have a chance to see it happen…

I’ve come to the conclusion that my experiment with rooting for another football team was a dismal failure. I’ve been married to the Vikings for too long to start dating any other teams. I kind of felt like I was cheating on them by rooting for someone else. Win, lose or draw, I will always hope for the best for them. Even if they break my heart. Every fucking year.

* * * *

According to WordPress®, this is my 200th post. By my own admission, I’ve had some serious input from my Muses on a fair amount of of them, so I can’t take credit for all of them. No doubt some of you are wondering how that is even possible. I’m going to try to explain it.

Thought insertion isn’t a very common thought disorder, unless you have schizophrenia. Even then, thought insertion is viewed as more of a delusional disorder by medical professionals than it is as an actual occurrence.

I’m okay with that. However, sometimes I get insights into things I know absolutely nothing about, like the time I proved the Pythagorean Theorem.

* * * *

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Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher who lived roughly 2500 years ago. His geometric theory has been proven numerous times – possibly the most for any mathematical formula, some dating back thousands of years.

I hate math. So, yeah. That was a joke.

* * * *

Back to the way my dysfunctional brain works…  When these thoughts unfold inside my head they feel…different.

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It’s like unto this, except I don’t know Ung Fu Chinese…

Something similar happens when my Muses take over writing my blog posts. I am aware that it’s happening, but I have yet to find a way to stop it. In my last post I had no intention of writing about being bullied back when I was a kid. I had been planning on writing about old manic guys, and we all know how that turned out.

It’d probably piss me off if it weren’t for the fact that my Muses are much better writers than I am. My major concern about my Muses is they want to write about subjects I’d rather forget.

* * * *

And that’s about it for this installment. Be safe out there this year. Look both ways before you cross the street. If you live in Mexico, do it even if you’re crossing a one way street. Go ahead, buy those cute shoes. And order dessert. Enjoy this life as much as you can. There will always be something out there waiting for you that will break your heart.

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I’ve been struggling with this post for far too long. It’s times like this that make me wonder why I decided to start writing a blog. It happened like almost everything else that’s happened in my life. By accident. And to quote any number of porn stars, It sounded like fun at the time.

I’m not sure if I have writer’s block or if I’m just so lazy that I don’t feel like doing anything. It might be a combination of the two. I will freely admit that I’m probably the laziest person I know.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a writer. I usually love writing. I’m just being a grumpy old man right now. It’s one of the perks of getting old. Some people abuse that privilege. Like the lady in front of me at the gringo ATM the other day. She complained about the machine for five minutes before she tried using it. I almost cut in front of her because, you know, she wasn’t using it, and there was a line of people that were waiting our turns.

Instead, I decided to talk to mi amigo, Hector. He’s the security guard at the gringo ATM. He carries a shotgun to protect the gringos and their money. I always tip him when I use the ATM. He provides a valuable service, and he probably makes next to nothing doing it. And you never know, he might snap someday and decide he’s heard enough complaints from the pinche gringos, and he’ll shoot a few of them to shut them the fuck up already twice.

But he won’t shoot me because I was always nice to him.

* * * *

Two people that I know died last week. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with this post. You reach a point in life where every death hits you harder than it should. Because, you know, it could have been you, and Death has clearly been hanging out way too close to your neighborhood.

One of them was Belva Sublett. She was the realtor that showed us the house we’re currently residing in. Belva was also one of the property managers here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. She was a southern gal from Texas, I think. She was very sweet, and very, very helpful to us once we took up residence here. She was in the process of trying to get us a new refrigerator when she passed away.

Her death came as a big surprise to everyone that knew her. She seemed to be relatively healthy. For her age. I suppose I could add that qualifier. She was only 71. She wasn’t battling any illnesses or diseases as far as I know. It’s safe to say that her passing was unexpected, possibly even to her.

Vaya con Dios, Belva. You’ll be missed.

* * * *

The other person that recently got dead is Florentino. He was an ancient local guy that sold golf balls at the golf course I belong to.

I bought some balls from him a few times, but not because I needed them. I already have way more golf balls than I’ll reasonably be able to use before I die. I bought balls from Florentino because he was a sweet old man. He always greeted me with a warm smile, and he always wished me well. And, there was the offhand chance that he was an angel in disquise, and I was trying to win the golf gods over to my side.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. And no, my strategy didn’t work.

Florentino evidently knew a lots about golf because he always had advice for me whenever I bought balls from him. In my mind, he was kind of the Mexican version of Bagger Vance, though now that I think about it, even someone that doesn’t know anything about golf would probably know I suck at golf if they saw me play.

 Unfortunately, all of his insights were en español. I was never really sure what he was telling me to do. I would nod in agreement, and Florentino would smile and pat me on the shoulder. And that means, Hang in there. You can do it. In every language.

Vaya con Dios, Florentino. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out what you were trying to say to me.

* * * *

Our refrigerator. If someone had told me that I was going to be writing this much about a goddamn refrigerator, I probably would’ve laughed. Now, mostly I just want to cry.

We’ve had our LG refrigerator repaired at least four times in nine months. I’m starting to lose count. Refrigerators are usually bulletproof. You plug them in and they last longer than you do. The last time the service technicians were here to fix the fridge, they were here for three hours. Their repairs lasted one week.

So, I called Belva. She called Jaime, our other property manager. The plan was to get rid of the LG lemon that was taking up space in the kitchen, and replace it with a new refrigerator that worked. And then Belva died. Our fucking refrigerator probably killed her.

So, Jaime called the LG Service Department. Again. They told him a technician had to make the decision to replace our refrigerator. Last Tuesday, the technician arrived. Jaime came over to talk to him. Their conversation was in Spanish, so I only understood about every tenth word. The technician said he didn’t have the authority to replace our refrigerator, only the office could do that.

Clearly, someone was lying. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Jaime get angry. Jaime is a large man. I thought he was going to shove our refrigerator up the technician’s ass. Sideways.

The technician said he was here to fix the refrigerator, and he added that LG was never going to replace our refrigerator. They would rather keep sending technicians, so could he just get to work?

Jaime and I had a deep philosophical discussion while the technician fixed the fridge for the fifth time. Neither of us thought this guy was going to be any more successful than any of the other technicians that had allegedly fixed our fridge before. So, when it died the next time, Jaime wasn’t going to call LG. He would bite the bullet and replace it himself.

That was the plan. There’s only one thing that could screw it up. And that thing is maybe this technician was able to do something no one else has been able to do up to this point. He might have actually fixed our fridge! 

I’m good with that. I don’t want a new refrigerator. I only want a refrigerator that works. All the time. I’m not sure if I’m ready to accept the fact that it might actually be fixed for real. I’ve thought that several times before, and I was wrong every time. I still haven’t moved any of the food from our other fridge in the casita yet. I’m not sure how long I’m going to wait. I only know it’s not going to happen today.

I’ll keep you posted.

* * * *

Perhaps the greatest invention in automotive history is the radio. There are few things that match the feeling of driving down the highway when your favorite song comes on.

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See? I told you.

There are a lots of quirky things you have to adjust to when you move to Mexico, but one of the weirdest things are the radio stations. Most of them play Mexican music of some sort. And all of the DJ’s speak Spanish, which only stands to reason. I listen to them occasionally. It’s a nice change of pace, and I like almost every type of music.

My favorite Mexican FM radio station is 90.7 out of Guadalajara. Or as they call it, Señal Noventa. It plays gringo rock and roll. The music I grew up on.

I’ve spent way more time than I should trying to figure out what the hell is going on at this station. For starters, there’s only one disc jockey. It’s the same guy, every day, no matter what time of day. I’ve never heard him say his name. I call him:

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He speaks Spanish, of course, and he speaks it rapidly. Most of the things he says are Greek to me. Sometimes there’s a woman who makes some comments, which makes me think she’s his wife. She’s possibly saying things like, Hey, quit playing with your records and fix the kitchen sink like you promised. Or do I have to get your brother to come over. I should have married him when I had the chance!

Seeing how it’s only ever just the two of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that their radio station is home-based. 

The only time I ever listen to the radio is when I’m in the car, so I don’t spend that much time of the day hanging out with José. And his wife. But it makes me wish I understood spoken Spanish more better gooder.

I want to know what José’s wife is really saying to him.

American radio essentially plays current Top Forty hits, or classic Top Forty hits, so you tend to hear the same songs from the same bands all the time. José plays some classic American rock and roll Top Forty hits, too. But he loves to play the B-side songs you never hear on the radio. And he has the most awesome-est collection of music I’ve ever heard.

I have to admit, I still have some serious envy when it comes to his music collection.

José has the most eclectic taste in music of anyone I’ve ever listened to. And that includes me. He’ll queue up ten songs no one has heard in forty years, then he’ll play the same song three times in a row. Or he’ll play the English version of a song, then the Spanish, French and Japanese versions. A couple of weeks ago, every song he played before noon was by The Beatles or Paul McCartney and Wings. 

Monday through Friday, José plays whatever he wants as many times as he wants. American rock. Sarah Brightman. The theme song from Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Showtunes. You never know what you’ll hear. It’s actually very refreshing.

But on Saturday mornings, José plays classic American Country/Western from the 50’s and 60’s. Hank Williams. Marty Robbins. Tammy Wynette. Sunday mornings, it’s Heavy Metal Sunday because everyone knows God loves Iron Maiden. And Dokken. And Motörhead.

Sometimes José will start a song, then seemingly forget what he was doing and start talking about God knows what over the song. Perhaps, fixing the kitchen sink before his pain-in-the-ass-know-it-all brother shows up and takes off his shirt and his wife will start drooling like a drunken sailor. Again.

He often starts a song, then switches to different song before the first song ends without any explanation. Maybe he has ADD? José clearly has a favorite playlist because he’ll throw that on occasionally while he’s busy doing other things, like trying to fix the fucking sink.

It’s the only time he ever plays the same songs in the same order.

* * * *

Retirement has become much more of a learning experience than I imagined it would be, thanks to Mexico. It’s been a good thing. I still mostly suck at golf, but I did shoot my best ever Rainy Season round yesterday. There’s a glimmer of hope.

I’ll never be fluent in Spanish, but I’m not totally mystified by the language anymore. And if you speak to me like you would to a three year old, I’ll probably understand most of what you’re saying.

If you ever come to visit, we’ll listen to José Jimenez on Señal Noventa. You’ll probably hear something that will give you flashbacks to when you were young. You’ll smile to yourself, and think,

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I could do this… 

Halftime Adjustments

“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin.

* * * *

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

* * * *

“All battle plans are perfect, until the first shot is fired.” ~ Variation of a quote by Prussian military commander, Field Marshall Helmuth van Moltke.

* * * *

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” ~ Old Yiddish adage. It means, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”

* * * *

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. Don’t be a damn fool about it.” ~ Mark Twain.

* * * *

Back when I was a psych nurse, I used to encourage my dysfunctional patients to come up with a plan to make some positive changes in their lives. Write down the steps you need to make. Review your plan daily. Most of all, follow through with your plan of action. Otherwise, we’ll see you here again in six months or so…

Before you get the idea that this is going to be one of those self-improvement seminars, relax. You’re probably not going to learn anything here that you don’t already know, and I’m not at all interested in helping you become a better person.

That’s your job. If that’s what you want to do, get off your ass and do it.

Back to strategic planning. It’s a bit ironic because I’ve rarely made any plans, and I sure as hell never wrote any of them down. As I look back on my life, I’d have to say that I was fairly successful. I’m married to supermodel. I’m retired, living a luxury resort lifestyle in a gringo mansion in paradise. 

I must have done something right despite the fact that I put so little effort into planning any of it.

As confused as I am by life, I’m not sure if that statement is an accurate assessment. As for the secret to my success, I’m even more confused by that. The most useful piece of information my father ever gave me about life was this: If you dress professionally, people will automatically assume that you know what you’re doing. And they’ll continue to think that until you prove them wrong.”

I didn’t have any sense of fashion until I married a supermodel. After that, I was dressed to kill. If I had only been able to keep my mouth shut, there’s no telling how far the Peter Principal would have taken me…

* * * *

There’s little doubt that plans are useful tools, but all plans have one fatal flaw. Success is never guaranteed, not matter how comprehensive your plan is. Except in those Mission Impossible movies.

Good planning is nice, but in my humble opinion, the most important attribute for success is the ability to adjust quickly on the fly. And be persistent. Look at your objective from different angles. I  have never had a Plan A go off without a hitch. But I have had a couple of Plan G’s that worked out pretty good.

* * * *

Nursing is an occupation that requires a lots of different talents, and time management is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Back when I was a psych nurse, I learned there are essentially three types of nurses when it came to managing their time.

Some nurses developed a routine. Well, it’s more like they worshipped the routine.

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Rigid seems to be the best word to describe them. Any deviation from the routine spelled disaster. For everyone.

Some nurses didn’t develop any routine. Trainwreck seems to be the best word to describe them, for many reasons. They were hell to work with, and their personal lives were disaster areas.

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They appeared to have no real concept of Time. They were always running ten minutes late for everything, including getting to work on time. When their shift ended, they still had to finish charting on all of their patients. Which spelled disaster for the oncoming shift.

Most nurses tend to fall in a third category that’s somewhat hard to define. They just went with the flow and got shit done. Flexibly competent is the best term to describe them. Those are the nurses you wanted to work with. No matter what happened, you knew it was to be a good day when they were on duty.

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They were Rockstar Nurses. If there’s anything I miss about Nursing, it’s them.

* * * *

I have a few updates on our retirement lives. The only reason I’m ending with this and not starting with it is because I didn’t plan anything that I’ve written so far, as usual. But it just might illustrate the importance of being able to adjust on the fly. Here’s a free pro-tip for you: If you can’t do that, you do not want to move to Mexico.

One of the biggest adjustments people have to make after they retire is something I call Spousal Fatigue. It happens when you start spending every moment of every day with the person you married. You didn’t have to do that when you were working. You had time apart. You got to talk to other people.

And in one day, all of that changes. You don’t have to go to work anymore. You don’t have other people to talk to. It’s just you, and your spouse, and no one else. All day. All night. Every day and night, until death do you part.

It’s not a big deal for Lea and I. We actually like each other. And we don’t feel we have to do everything together. We understand that sometimes it’s just nice to do something all by yourself.

My lovely supermodel wife and my golf wife are flying to the States next week. They’ll be gone for ten days. But on the day they depart, Lea’s boyfriend will be flying in. Todd has been trying to sell his house in Idaho and move to the Lakeside Area, but that plan hasn’t gone according to plan, which sucks.

He says he needs a break from all that crap, so he’s going to take a vacation for a few weeks and come hang out with me. And his girlfriend. It’ll be great for all of us. Lea and Phyllis can go shopping and visit family. Todd and I can go golfing and throw wild pool parties. That will end at 6:00 PM because no one wants to drive home in the dark.

Retirement living. It’s every bit as exciting as you thought it would be.

* * * *

Our refrigerator is working again! So is the freezer!! And the ice maker!!! 

It only took three weeks to fix this time. But it’s the third time we’ve had it repaired in nine months. Maybe they got all the bugs out of it this time. The technicians were here for almost three hours, and it was a different team of technicians. Maybe the LG Service Department decided to send their A Team…  They were probably getting as tired of having to fix their piece of shit refrigerator as we were of having to move all of our perishable food from the house to the casita.

We’ll have a better idea of how successful they were in a few months.

* * * *

The motion sensor for the magic lights in the hallway to our bedroom died. Big deal, right? Just replace it. Yep, sounds simple, but I can’t find another one. And I have looked everywhere that even remotely looks like it might sell electrical equipment. Except the sex shop in Ajijic.

I did find another sensor, but it wasn’t an exact replacement for our dead sensor. It cost about five bucks. It doesn’t work because of the way the lights in the hallway are wired. I know this because I had a guy who knows a helluva lot more about electricity than I do come over and try to hook up the new sensor. In order to get my new five dollar sensor to work, I’d probably have to spend three thousand bucks to rewire the entire fucking house.

If we owned this house, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But for the first time in thirty years, we’re renting. I’m not sure there are written construction codes for this part of Mexico. Even if there are, not every contractor follows them. Obviously…  

We’ve had to resort to physically turning the lights on and off, by hand! I know right, that totally sucks! But yesterday, a glimmer of hope previously unplanned for appeared out of nowhere, like so many other times in my life.

My golf caddy, house painter, and good friend, Francisco Flores Bernini, called me and told me he had ordered a replacement sensor from the hardware store in San Nicolás de Ibarra. It’s a small village right next to the golf course I belong to. Most of the caddies live there.

The sensor he ordered might be in stock in a few days. I hope it works. I’m not sure how much longer we can go on living like this.

* * * *

Speaking of golf, it’s the only reason I can think of why we’re here right now. When we decided to retire, we weren’t really sure what we going to do, or where we were going to go. The only thing we knew for sure was we couldn’t afford to stay where we were.

Then the universe opened every door that led us to the Lakeside Area. Rather than swim against the tide that would bring us here, we decided to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

Our Christian friends in Arizona suggested that we were “…following God’s Will.” Yeah, whatever, I guess. If we’re here because of God’s Will, He hasn’t been very vocal about what He wants us to accomplish for Him now that we’re here.

So I started playing golf. And as near as I can tell, that’s what God wants me to do. I figure He must be getting more than a few laughs out of watching me golf because He hasn’t given me any other instructions so far.

* * * *

I’ve asked my lovely supermodel wife why she thinks we’re here. She said God wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and live happily ever after. Yeah, from what I can tell, that’s pretty much the last reason God would ever have.

Lea asked me why I thought we were here. Clearly, God wanted us to get out of Arizona in a hurry because the Yellowstone supervolcano was about to erupt, California was going to tumble into the ocean, and God wanted us to be in a safe place so the people He really cared about would have a place of refuge to go to.

* * * *

So, we’re back to golf. Of all of the reasons, it appears to be the only one that makes any sense.

I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like to be God numerous times. I would need some serious comic relief to keep me from coming down here and knocking some goddamn sense into most of humanity. I might be performing a valuable public service to all of mankind. Or not…  It depends on your point of view.

My golf game lately hasn’t been anything to write home about, but I have taken on a couple of new…duties, I guess, at my golf course. I became a contributing editor to the Country Club de Chapala Facebook page. (@golfinchapala)

You can check it out. It’s a public page. Since I took it over, viewership has gone up something like two hundred percent.

I wish I could say the same thing about my blog page…

Additionally, I kind of became the Unofficial Official Photographer of Events and Stuff at CCdC. I posted a bunch of photos on the above mentioned Facebook page of the last two tournaments. They’ve been well received so far.

One of my friends commented that she didn’t know I was so talented. That made me laugh because I interpreted it to mean that she didn’t know I had any talent. Well, she has seen me golf, so it’s understandable.

And I’ve been attending some the Golf Tournament Committee meetings for the last several months. Of all the things I’ve been doing at the golf course, this is probably the most confusing one. Even more confusing than trying to read a green.

I hate meetings. I don’t care what they’re about. Meetings carry a connotation of officiality. People take notes at meetings. Plans of action are put forth. And stuff like unto that.

I worked for the Federal government for two decades. I went to a whole lots of committee meetings. Committees that took a simple issue and turned it into a problem that was so fucked up we had to meet once a month to discuss possible solutions to a problem that never existed for three years. Maybe it was five years…  I was a long time ago, and I’ve been trying to forget that it ever happened.

Dude, if you hate committees so much, why do you go to the meetings?

That’s actually a good question. It’s all Naisby’s fault.

Dave Naisby is a member of the country club. He’s one of the first members I met after I joined. He’s from Scotland, so he’s fun to listen to even when he doesn’t have anything interesting to say, which is rare. Anyway, he asked me to come to one double-secret golf tournament sub-committee meeting five months ago. I have no experience organizing anything more complicated than my sock drawer, so I’m still not sure why Dave asked me. But I like Dave, and for that reason alone, I agreed.

It would appear that attending one meeting is the only prerequisite for being allowed to attend more meetings because now everyone who is officially on the tournament committee thinks I’m on the committee, and they ask me questions, like, Why weren’t you at the meeting last week?

As innocuous as all this sounds, I see the potential for disaster. Once you’re on a committee, people tend to start asking you to do, you know, things.

Could you bring this up at the next meeting? How would you like to be the next president? We’d like it if you would start singing at Karaoke night.

Any of the above would be enough to make me reconsider my membership. I might even quit golfing. And that would create conflict with the Will of God. And we all know what happens after that:

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Resort Style Living at its Finest. And Stuff

Greetings from the Chula Vista Resort and Spa!

Life is still mostly idyllic here, but as you and I both know, there’s always something.

Before I begin to start to commence to complain about my almost perfect life, I should mention the good things.

Lea finally got her curtain rods for our master bedroom! It only took about two months. And about a dozen visits to the ironworks shop to talk to the Moron Twins. I think she wore them down and they eventually realized the only way they were going to get rid of esta gringa loca was to give her what she wanted. I’ve got to hand it to her. I didn’t think she’d ever get anything she’d be remotely satisfied with from those bozos.

Way to go, honey. You’re still a force to be reckoned with.

She still has to make the curtains, but my lovely supermodel wife is more than just a pretty face. She has some pretty serious crafty skills. She’s made a lots of stuff over the years. She already has most of the materials she needs, and she has a plan to procure the items she lacks. I’m sure they’ll turn out great. I’ll post pictures of the finished product.

* * * *

We had to replace the toilet in my workshop because the water tank fractured and flooded the floor. I think it had been cracked for years and finally succumbed to the pressure. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. It’s not a high traffic area. It probably hasn’t been regularly used for more than ten years.

The floors are all tile, so no significant damage occurred. Jaime, our property manager, bought a new toilet. Tacho, our general handyman guy, installed it. Mischief managed.

The only weird thing is this is the second new toilet we’ve had to have installed in the short time that we’ve been here.

I’ve also asked Jaime and Tacho to construct some water diversion devices for the corners of the eaves by the pool. This is our first Rainy Season at this house, and after the first couple of serious rainfalls, we discovered that we had a problem.

I’ve written about the Rainy Season before. People that live here might tell you the rain is very polite because it mostly falls at night. I’d tell you there’s nothing polite about the rain. It’s true that it mostly falls at night, but when it rains here it rains like a bastard. Maybe two of them.

We basically have two waterfalls pouring off of the roof into the patio when it rains. The tiles on the patio are polished porcelain, and when they get wet they’re just about the most slipperiest surfaces on the planet. I bought a giant squeegee the last time we were at Costco. I think it’ll come in very handy for the next few months.

The patio is open to the weather, so there’s no way to keep all of the water off of the floor. I don’t want anything extravagant. I just want something that will direct most of the water into the pool. But if we can divert both of those sources, we might not slip and accidentally kill ourselves to death.

* * * *

Our LG refrigerator has been acting up. Again. Well, the refrigerator part is still working. It’s the freezer part that has been acting up. Essentially, it’s not freezing anything. Luckily, we have two freezers, so we just moved everything from the kitchen to the casita. Again.

Lea is as close to furious as she ever gets.

The refrigerator is still under warranty, and after all the work we’ve had done on it, the LG Service Department in Guadalajara no longer gives Jaime any crap when he calls to tell them they need to come repair their piece of shit refrigerator. Again. They didn’t even ask us to do another 12 Hour Test this time.

They’re supposed to be here next Tuesday. And they won’t have the part they need to fix the problem, so that will take another week. It might be fixed by the middle of July.

Thankfully, the restaurants here are mostly excellent, and affordable. Dining out is going to be an ordeal, but we’ll get through this somehow.

* * * *

We received our WiFi Super Booster about a month ago. As near as I can tell, it doesn’t even mildly boost our WiFi strength or speed. I’d actually go so far to say that our ambiguous signal works better when it’s not being boosted. So, if you were planning on purchasing this technological wonder, I’d advise against it.

It’s too bad. I doubt that Telecable® has any plans to improve their service, and they have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any communications company in the Lakeside Area. Telmex®, the other local communications company, has the second lowest.

It’s like having to choose between having cancer or leprosy.

This is easily the most frustrating part of our new lives. And by our lives, I mean mine. I don’t think Lea finds this anywhere near as irritating as I do.

Ask any blogger you happen to see and they will tell you in order to post anything they write, they absolutely need an Interweb connection. And if they like to research their topics, it’s an invaluable resource.

Research is too much like work for me, so I mostly make shit up. I might be lying about that, but I’m a very good liar. And yes, I could be lying about that, too.

* * * *

Despite the fact that our WiFi mostly sucks, I have binge watched a couple of series on Fire TV®. Catch-22 was quite good. Chernobyl was even better. It was so refreshing to watch something where there was no question whether or not the government was lying. It was one of the best qualities about communism. They lied about everything! And you could trust that.

* * * *

I started watching Good Omens yesterday. It’s produced by Amazon and the BBC. Interestingly enough, a bunch of offended Christians sent a petition to Netflix trying to get them to stop airing the blasphemous series. Clearly, Satan had a hand or two in that.

Good Omens is yet another fantasy TV series based on the book of the same name by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s the story of an angel, Aziraphale, and a demon, Crowle, who form an alliance in an attempt to stop the approaching Armageddon.

I guess there are plenty of reasons why Christians could be upset. Adam and Eve are black in the TV show. Everyone knows all of the people in the Bible were white. Even the Egyptians. And the Queen of Sheba. And they all spoke English.

In the TV show, God is a woman, so that could be another point of contention for the uproar. That’s the only part I find hard to believe. A female God would never have made all the mistakes that our solidly paternal God has.

Hey, mister! I thought God couldn’t make mistakes!!

Yeah, I used to think that, too. But for an entity who is supposed to be All-Knowing, it’s pretty hard to describe some of His actions as anything but mistakes. Granted, He probably has the ability to fix all of this shit because He’s also, you know, All-Powerful. In that case, He’s right. There are no mistakes, just clever corrections.

Back to the show: The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have been friends from the beginning of Time, and over the centuries they’ve essentially gone native, preferring life on Earth to life in either of the respective realms from whence they originated. They were supposed to be keeping an eye on the Antichrist, but through a series of semi-comical events, they lost him and have been taking care of of the wrong kid. It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.

In Christian eschatology, the Antichrist will fulfill Biblical prophecies about someone who will oppose Christ and substitute himself in Christ’s place, just in cases you were wondering. “…Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:15-18

I have no idea what that means, so I hope you’re not looking for any great insights here. On the TV series, it turns out to be a telephone number. Little Known Fact About My State of Minnesota Nursing License Number: It’s a six digit number. The first three numbers are 111. Any guesses what the last (6) three (6) numbers (6) are?

I once desperately wanted to be a prophet, but I have to be honest. When I looked at my nursing license for the first time, I damn near died to death. I used to be obsessed with the End of Times. I even wrote a book about it. It probably wasn’t a great book, and I base that assessment on the fact that none of the publishers I contacted were interested in publishing it. I used to have a stack of rejection letters that was more than a foot tall.

Seeing how I wanted to be a prophet, but had somehow been branded with the infamous Number of the Beast, the premise of my book was simple. The true identity of the Antichrist couldn’t be known because all suspicion would roll off of him like water off a duck’s back. Being the super-spooky twisted genius guy that he was, he could literally say anything and everyone would believe him. It’s one of his evil superpowers.

All he had to do was accuse his sworn enemy,  the True Prophet of God, of being the real Antichrist. And the people of the world would blame him for all of the crazy shit that happened during the turbulent End of Days, which made life more than a little complicated for our righteous hero.

And just to complicate matters further, both the Antichrist and the Prophet of God do a fair amount of crazy shit. The Antichrist does it because, you know, that’s his job. The prophet does it because, you know, that’s what God tells him to do.

It’s too bad that I was such a lousy writer back when I was trying to be a serious author. There was some pretty good stuff in that book.

I doubt that I’ll be able to get Lea interested in watching this series. It’s too bad because the show is fucking hilarious. She’s probably afraid that I’ll go crazy again, and start preaching to the multitudes on the shore of Lake Chapala, telling them to Repent! Or, ¡Arrepentirse! in Spanish.

Historically, that’s what prophets have done, no matter which language they spoke. Clearly, it’s a method that hasn’t worked. Past performance is sometimes a fairly good indicator of future results. I’d try something different. I’d hire the BBC to produce another comedy show, and take it from there.

However, I should point out that this is a subject I doubt I could ever get serious about again, even if the long foretold events actually started happening. I’m not sure I could muster the necessary energy again. Lea will read this someday, and maybe she’ll relax a bit.

Yeah, you’re right. I could tell her that. I’m just not sure she’d believe me.

I’d call my show Seven Trumpets. It was the title of my book. It’s still the best name ever for a series about the End of Times. According to Revelation 8:1-2, seven angels will sound the seven trumpets after the breaking of the seventh seal. Seven is a very popular number in the Bible.

It’s God’s favorite number.

(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.”

Tommy+Fleetwood+m_aot50FTKmm

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…