Monday, October 16, 2017

I'm Blocked!

That could lead you to believe one of several maladies.  This one happens to be writer's block.  I've been working on my presentation for Ecuador and I got a bit stuck.   Sure, there is a myriad of webpages, Wikis, books I've read, personal and teaching experience and more but once in awhile it requires a time out.  

This is my time out.  I'm presenting CLIL.   You can go look it up if you want and discover that it is a very broad subject and its interpretation is even more than that.  There's soft CLIL, hard CLIL and a list of CLIL acronyms in between.  That may be gibberish to some of you but to me this is what I do. 

Now for my break.  We came, we saw and we conquered.  The drive to San Antonio was long, tedious, but fun as we yuked it up along the way as Little Bit slept for seven hours.   When we arrived to the house I called the police and the locksmith.   The police were witnesses to the locksmith opening the door to the house to make sure there were no belongings in there and if a security alarm should go off there wouldn't be patrol cars out front with guns drawn. 

The house was filthy dirty to put it mildly.  We decided not to spend money on a hotel since the power was still on.   We packed an air mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets along with coffee service for the mornings and our favorite music.  The first order of business was to clean a room and the bathroom so we could work from there.  We chose the living room as it was the cleanest and of course the one bathroom the house has.  Yes, this house dates back to 1956 and then, three bedrooms and one bath was the in thing.   We cleaned up as much as we could and hit the hay.

Friday, I headed off to the CPS which manages the power and gas.   They closed the tentants' account and then informed me that there was a $334 deposit I had to pay based on usage.  Who in the heck spends $150 a month on electricity?  We cringe when the bill comes in at $40 for a two-month billing.  Anyway, I wasn't a happy camper and she began to get personal about the tenants and  why they used so much power and abandoned the house.  She asked me where I was from and the conversation turned to speaking in Spanish.  We finished the deal and I asked her, "Can the deposit be paid in payments without interest?"  She said, "don't worry, I've waived the deposit".  Yes!

The rest of the day and Saturday was spent on cleaning and more cleaning.  Trash everywhere, cigarette burns on the carpet in one bedroom and dog poop in another.  It was obvious it was done purposely as they dumped the cat litter box on the floor as well.  Pigs.

It was a great weekend, we worked as a team and got it done.  Now, we need paint and to re-tile the bathroom shower.   The house has a new roof and a new central A/C so that is a great selling point.  Other than filth and trash it wasn't all so bad.  They violated the lease by smoking, having pets, and renting out an additional bedroom.   Had they left the place clean, kept in touch with me, they would have received $1000 minus any minor repairs.  Too bad.

We came home Sunday afternoon and both of us with back and leg problems.  Not from the work but from that damned air mattress.  Thank goodness for rvs.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Not Going To Be Easy

This week won't be easy.   I have a list a mile long of things to do.  The house in San Antonio is high priority.  I never heard from the tenants after we gave them a very warm and friendly notice with a juicy offer even though the lease is expired.  I got a call from our neighbor that they packed up and moved.  I've attempted to contact them to no avail.   We will be going there towards the end of this week in hopes the house was left in good condition.  We are meeting with a lawyer to do some deed changes and also with the realtor to sign the agreement.  I'll make arrangements to get the place cleaned up and painted so we can start showing the house a.s.a.p.   It's been a long time coming and it will sever one more tie to the U.S. 

I'm trying to be positive about it but you just never know what to expect.  They are a wonderful couple who, as of our last visit in January, kept the house pristine and in order.  Some things have occurred over the years but we never said much as it was no harm done.  

The house was built the year I was born so it has some negatives but those are covered in clauses for older homes.  It has the new roof, new central A/C, new wiring 10 years ago but it has the original 50s bathroom and kitchen tile.   Spend on one end and make a little on the other so we will just sell it without any remodeling unless repairs are involved.

I'm not very good in these situations until I'm in there and working.  It's this lead up to period that keeps me awake at night.  Yes, I know, wasted worry. 

I'm ordering some odds and ends for the rv and some clothes for winter.  Still not ready for a color change.  I bought a nice white pull over and it stayed in the bag in the trunk of my car for over seven months until last Friday when someone said, "if you're not wearing it don't let it go to waste".   

Dee mentioned a Roadtrek she saw at CW.  We saddled up yesterday to go look at a van.  It was a Ford extended van, 15 passenger.   We're thinking of doing our own conversion.   I would need someone to do the wiring but the rest we can do little by little.  The high top would have to be purchased and installed.  

The next few days I'm getting the VW ready for the trip to San Antonio.  Tire balance and rotation, oil change and antifreeze.  I'm thinking we're leaving Thursday afternoon.   

More this week.  

For those of you who aren't on Facebook, check out a company called Battlefield Vegas which is one block off of the Las Vegas Strip.  They offer fun and games with automatic weapons, army tanks, army helicopters and missiles all for $400 U.S.  I found them on TripAdvisor, Google, and GoogleMaps.   Sorry folks, I feel for those that lost their lives but you can't have your cake and eat it too.  The greater the population, the less freedoms one can have and more rules are needed.   

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's Been Awhile . . .

Sunrise on the road to Reynosa.

It's been awhile since my last post.   I've been busying traveling but it's not rving.  A big difference.  I'm pretty beat and it took the weekend for me to catch up.  Here's a quick rundown of what I've done.

Did  I mention our U.S. credit card was compromised?  If I did here's a repeat.   Two weeks ago Sunday I received an email saying I needed to call the bank.  Turns out, there were charges from Thailand, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.   The operator told me that MasterCard had been hacked.  

I had to go to Dallas anyway a week later so I made arrangements to pickup the credit card at a bank branch.  It's getting harder the longer we live in Mexico to get things done in the U.S.  Not sure what will happen the next couple months after we sell the house and have no mailing address.  I know I can open a mailbox to pick up mail here in Monterrey with a U.S. address but that's an expense and a pain also.  We don't receive much anymore anyway.

Went to Reynosa the following Saturday morning and made it to the bank early.  I activated the card and off I went.  I spent the night after some CostCo shoppping (they don't sell our Vitamin C in Costco Mexico).  Sunday I had breakfast at the hotel and headed for the airport.  No big deal and the flight was pretty empty.  I picked up the rental car and off I went for the next for days to three Texas cities; Stephenville, Forney and Joshua.   Rotten little shits, I hope nobody there reads this.   Talk about dumbing down.  Another story for the campfire.   

I've been told before that I am preaching to the choir.  In this school, they purchased the church across the street to use as their auditorium.   It was cushy but there was no singing.  I couldn't joke about it either as we can't mention religion or politics in front of the students.  Communism?  I wanted to tell my pirate joke and asked beforehand.  It was rejected as it was possible one of the students may have a family member who is missing a limb, a hand or an eye.   Oh brother.

I arrived in McAllen late Wednesday night, spent the night and headed home early Thursday morning to heavy flooding.  The highway was closed for a bit because and underpass was flooded and the water went down pretty fast.  I don't take chances even though many cars made it through.  Once outside Monterrey it took me over an hour to find a work around.  As a side note, my Google Maps on my Samsung cellphone beats the heck out of our TomTom GPS.   I did all my trips in Texas and found work arounds here to avoid flooded roads.

This month begins working on the sale of the house in San Antonio.  I'm sure we will be spending a few weekends there getting the house ready and signing the papers.  The average sell time in the neighborhood is 44 days and at very good prices.   Let's hope it's quick and easy.

I went out to the rv and did some cleaning yesterday.   The refrigerator has one shelf above the veggie drawers that is a sheet of plastic.  Cheap and ugly.  I'm looking this week to replace it with a piece of tempered glass.  Also the mini-blind in the kitchen is shot and the paint is worn off from rubbing and the drawers in the bedroom dresser need new slides.  That's what I'm working on now besided my trip to Ecuador at the end of this month.  Three long and fast days.  Too bad I can't stay and do some sightseeing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Message Of Hope CDMX

Things are really coming together.   Even at my school we have formed an official collection center.  We're going to survive this.  After only 30 hours into the earthquake, thousands of volunteers have come together in CDMX to move rubble bucket by bucket, make sandwiches, form collection centers, distribute water, canned goods, hardhats, gloves and vests.  Companies have donated the use of heavy equipment, fuel, generators.  Truly pulling together.

The latest message from my friend and coworker in Mexico City, very emotional to read:

Afortunadamente, los mexicanos hemos sido mucho más contundentes que el sismo de ayer. Docenas de miles de personas se movilizan, se empieza a hablar de los lugares donde ya no se necesita ayuda. La ciudad está invadida de gente con casco y pala, jóvenes repartiendo víveres en sus bicicletas y automóviles, y mesas dispuestas con agua y alimentos preparados que han aparecido por todos lados.
En algún rincón de nuestra alma colectiva guardábamos una vasta reserva de compasión que ahora nos desvivimos por vaciar. 

Fortunately, as Mexicans, we have been much stronger than yesterday's earthquake.  Tens of thousands of people have mobilized, they have begun to talk about places that don't need help.  The city has been invaded by people with hardhats and shovels, young people handing out food on their bikes and from their cars, tables covered with water and prepared food that has appeared miraculously from all sides.

In some part of our collective souls, we have kept a vast reserve of compassion that we are will now do our utmost to let out. 

As I stated on a forum, let's not make this a "woe is me" Mexico issue.  Mexico is strong, able and willing to pull together to overcome this natural disaster.

Looking back to 1985, The event caused between three and four billion USD in damage as 412 buildings collapsed and another 3,124 were seriously damaged with an official loss of life at 5000 when in reality it was in the range of 25,000.  With social media and internet you can't hide the truth as easily anymore.  This time it was 40 buildings and we are now at 300 dead.  Not to diminish life, but we are much further advanced now than before.  

We are in the month of patriotism.  Viva Mexico!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Messages From CDMX and The Earthquake

As you all know, Mexico was hit with another earthquake this time covering six states including the Ciudad de Mexico.  I've been glued to the tele all afternoon and have received messages from friends and coworkers there.  Here is one:

La escena en la Ciudad de México. Hay gente que lleva horas caminando a sus casas, y no encuentra donde comprar comida o usar un baño porque todo está cerrado. El ruido más común, las sirenas y los helicópteros. Socavones y edificios colapsados han hecho que cierren varias vialidades importantes. Muchas personas han salido a ofrecer ayuda: Dirigen el tráfico, regalan botellas de agua o comida, llaman a las estaciones de radio para avisar de edificios dañados y el estátus de los hospitales. Todos, absolutamente todos, transformados por el temblor.
Qué frágiles las ficciones que componen la paz de nuestras vidas. Colapsan con solo unos segundos de vislumbrar la muerte. Repararlas realmente puede tomar incontables días.
The current scene in Mexico City.  It is taking people hours to walk to their houses, the streets, traffic, public transport are paralyzed.   You cannot find anything to eat or drink because every shop is closed and there are no bathrooms.  The most common sounds are sirens and helicopters.  Sinkholes and collapsed buildings have closed major arteries.  A lot of people are outside offering help and forming lines to remove rubble and search for people.  They are directing traffic, giving away water and food to people working to excavate and calling radio stations to give more details on collapsed buildings and hospital status.  Everything, absolutely everything hass been affected by the earthquakes.

How fragile are the stories that make up our lives.  Collapsed in just seconds of death.  To repair the damage and return to normal will take endless days.  

A good friend from Canada who lives in CDMX sent these pictures of his two dogs and his apartment building.  He said they had just attended an earthquake drill an hour before as if they knew something was coming.  He is reporting from a nearby Starbucks but is unsure where he will spend the night as he cannot return to his building until it has been inspected.

Out of 17,000 buildings only 29 collapsed.  You can see what great work the Mexican government has done since the big quake of 1985 when tens of thousands lost their lives.   The new structures are built to code and older buildings before 1985 have all been steel reinforced.  

Let's hope there aren't more replicas this week.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Democracy and Blogs

To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. 
Louis L'Amour

I've noticed over the last couple of years, a trend in blogging.   It used to be that a blog was a place for someone to share their life, their ideologies and to also allow others to share in those thoughts.   The new trend I've seen is to 1) approve comments before they are posted or 2) at the click of a button delete a comment that may not sit well with the writer or blog owner.   YouTubers have also done the same now by disabling the comments section of their vlog posts. 

That's a real shame as it takes away from the writer and the reader.   I love sharing comments and I let Blogger tell me when there is a comment that may not be appropriate.  The only comments that I do delete are advertising.   I could let them run but I doubt readers are interested in sexual toys, condoms, condominiums and webpage builder news.   

As for comments in general, I love a little public tete-a-tete, a bit of a rumble, a little controversy.  It's good for the spirit, the soul and it opens the writer's eyes to things they may not have seen or discovered.

On this blog, feel free to let'er rip, as they say, and write what you want.  Speak your mind.

Regarding other matters, I received an email today alerting me to a credit card breach.   I called immediately only to find out that my card number had been used in Malaysia, Thailand and Zimbabwe.   It was cancelled and a new card is on the way.  Only problem being is they don't send cards to international destinations and they may not send it to a bank branch in Texas which presents a major problem for me.  I need that card for my trip next Sunday to Dallas where I will work for three days.  Hmm.  Let's see what happens.

We spent last night with family and friends celebrating Mexican Independence.  It was a fun time had by all and ate some real homemade goodies such as pozole, enchiladas, tostadas, and of course a delicious cake.  You may have seen some of the pics on Facebook.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Finally, My Time Of Year

With the changes in the last few weeks; hurricanes, earthquakes, climate change, etc., the weather has changed in my favor.  This is my favorite season, fall, and also winter and spring.  The weather is so good even I don't want to get up.  

With this weather I can now use the oven and it helps in the evening to warm things up a bit.  I'm sure for most of you, my cool, is your hot.   

I'm back to making bread and this first loaf turned out pretty good.  No oil, milk, butter, just whole flour, yeast and some water.   I did add one teaspoon of honey to get the yeast working well.  Next is some banana bread, and I want to try potato bread as well.   

This guy turns 18 years old this month.  Still spry, jumping, playing and chasing things in the yard.