Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Had Forgotten It Was Thanksgiving

For many years we would celebrate Thanksgiving.  A big dinner here in Monterrey or we would meet friends in South Padre Island for a weekend and fix a big spread and hang out on the windy and cold beach.   As the years passed and so did many of our family and friends the get togethers seemed to be less and less.  Then the rv came along and were usually gone for the four days and at one time our first two rvs (Trailmanors) had ovens.   We would stuff a chicken and have all the fixings wherever we were.   This year I got up, went to the gym and off to a meeting when I heard on the radio that it was a holiday in the U.S.  I had thought about it the previous weekend and then Thursday was like any other day.

Later that day when I had a chance to read FaceBook I could see all of the greetings and wishes that people had posted.   I didn't see much of dinners though.   Family in Cincinnati posted a picture on FB of the great-nieces and nephews most of which are in college or finishing high school.  One of my great nephews, Cameron, was named 3rd Division Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

That's Cameron on the far right.

Another great-nephew, Bryson, is First Team All Southwest Ohio 

I did some work on the rv this weekend.  I don't want to wait until the last week to get things going only to find out that something isn't working.   Well, I found one.  The antenna wasn't working.  I had fixed the cable when I was in San Miguel de Allende over the summer.  It didn't last and I climbed up on the roof to fix it again.  Now, the darn amplifier won't work.  The LED flickered off and on and then quit.   I hate those things and I've never had one that worked worth a S@$#.   I just want to watch the news when we do have a signal.  It's always something.  

The roof looks great since we trimmed back the trees this year.  I want to wash the rv this week and wanted to see what needed to be caulked if anything.  Super clean and I did find some opportunity spots.  I found a couple of screws that hold the awning in place and they are hidden underneath.  Never seen a drop of caulk.   Some other minor parts that could use a dab here or there.  The LEDs I purchased work so well I may go back this week and pick up a couple of more.  

Friends Sharon and Bill who are fulltimers in their Lazy Days Class C, have purchased a home in Nayarit.  They've just started to do some updates.   They are birders and always have some great pictures to post.  Check out their blog The Odd Essay  Looks like they'll be spending winters here in Mexico.   We met them years back in Veracruz when we used to stay on the coast.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Clearing Out The Cobwebs

Alive and well. 

Wow, I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last blog post.  Kind of sounds like a confessional at church.

I'm finally off the road as far as work goes.   Home now and doing routine maintenance on the house and the rv.  We have our trip planned for December to Cuatro Cienegas but there is always some change of plans.

Barb posted that Hacienda Contreras is open and that Chema's is also welcoming rvers but the restaurant is closed.  We're in happy hour right now so we are talking about all the good times we have had over the last 15 years of rving.  One of those is traveling to Jalisco and Valle de Juarez along with our trip to Canada that we took and the great time we had in Oregon with my brother Steve and SIL Michelle.  

This is a three-day weekend celebrating the Mexican Revolution.  I have done quite a bit of research over the last two years regarding revolutions and their successes and failures.  Out of over 200 revolutions in the last three hundred years, only three have truly been a success of which the Mexican revolution was not one of them.  Hence the current conditions in Mexican economics and culture.

It is also the now famous Buen Fin, the discount weekend to help combat the flight of Mexican pesos to Black Friday.  Our news anchor of more than 40 years described it as the following;  "people are buying stuff the don't need, with money they don't have, to impress people they don't even know".   We chose to stay home and do things around the house.  I will say that we bought a small 19" LED television for the rv that only uses 18 watts.  We like to watch movies and our Golden Girl dvds on a bit bigger screen than a laptop and from our bedroom.  The laptop stays on the bed and isn't convenient for our viewing pleasure.  It was cheap and has all the gizmos as well as a four year warranty from the manufacturer not that anything will happen.

What prompted me writing the blog today?  Well, Contessa and Colin are now in Mazatlan, Ruth and Kevin are in Romania, and Norma and Croft are heading down the west coast.  That's reason enough to clear the cobwebs and get things rolling around here.   

As for the rv, I bought some great LEDs for the overhead lights.  I am working with a guy now to have two AGM batteries installed under the sofa next to the converter so that I can move the inverter and install a transfer switch to make the outlets live.   Cleaned up the rv and will be doing a wash and sealing check to make sure we're good for the winter.  

Our Day of the Dead altar at school.  Click to enlarge, very interesting how they did the floor tiles.  They were made from wood shavings that were colored in vats with fabric dye.  Truly a piece of art.

Went with the family to the cemetery to visit the dead.  Mariachis, food, family.  

My last course in the U.S. for the fall season (El Campo, TX)
My last course in Mexico for the season.  Working with teachers in Tampico.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Finally, A Weekend RV Adventure

 Dia de los Muertos in our town square.

After quite a dry spell of not rving we are about to make a weekend trip.  We have been so busy with work travel the rv just kind of sits there.  Although a couple of weeks ago we did a driveway campout complete with movies and internet.  That was fun in itself.

The filming of our course in Morelia came and went although we have had fun with the project and the trips.  I still have two more trips pending this month.  One in Tampico on the 12th and then a trip to Houston for a day course in the rural town of El Campo.  I was there last year and they requested me again.

Our Mexican TESOL celebrated 43 years with our convention here in Monterrey the last week from Thursday to Sunday.  I gave two conferences on new materials.  2500 teachers attended the convention and we had big crowds.  The VP of our group asked me if I would be interested in working in the Middle East; Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia.  What do you think?  Let's see if it comes to light.

The weather is cooling down now and this is my kind of season.  Warm days and chilly nights.  By chilly I mean the temps drop to 18C and the daytime hovers around 28C with an occasional rainy day.

I've been watching too much YouTube and have become hooked on all the full time rvers, van campers and stealthers.   What a great life.   I'm hoping ours will come sooner than later.   As I said in the last blog, we are going to Cuatro Cienegas for Christmas.   It is located in the desert sands of Coahuila and has beautiful springs and pools that can be used for swimming or there are balnearios nearby.  It is not a popular place in the winter as Semana Santa is the big time for campers there.  Hopefully we will find the place nice and quiet spending time outdoors and also visiting the pueblo magico that is only 10 kms away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trip To The Rio Grande Valley

It is a trip to the valley but unfortunately it is not an rv trip.  Tomorrow I'm teaching a course in Roma, Tx.  If you remember my last trip there, I was harassed by police coming and going from McAllen.  

This trip I have made sure that all lights are working, car is clean, no books in the back and I had the GPS on and running to keep me on track with mph versus kph.  I have no books because now we have gone to e-books.  One part of the job I always hated and was a real time consuming activity.  I would have to go to the storage, pick up materials and then go to the school.  Afterwards, I'd have to return any unused materials.   It was located in Edinburg which is on the northeastern side of McAllen and during traffic in the late afternoon took forever.  Technology does make things easier but we have already discovered the downside.   Students aren't logging in and using the platform to prepare and study for this dragon of a test.  I mentioned to a coworker that they probably never read the printed material but we'll never know.  

I spent an hour and fifteen minutes at the bridge.   Bummer.  Then a stop at the Dollar Tree for some reading glasses.   I made a bee line for Costco for vitamins and then the dreaded trip to Rio Grande City where my hotel is.   I have never seen so many officers from every possible department.  When I arrived to the hotel, I mentioned to the girl at the front desk that I made it without getting stopped.  She said it has become an economic tragedy in the sense that businesses have closed and tourists drive north to San Antonio to cut over to Hwy 83 bypassing all of the western corridor of the RGV.

They haven't made a final decision yet on the biopsy.  I'll find out at the end of the month.  I did go to the chiropractor.  It seemed to ease the pain a bit but it could be the placebo effect.

I return home tomorrow evening and we both take off for Morelia for the taping of our video conference.  A nice dinner out Friday night is well-deserved.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I´ve Had A Few Tests

I haven't said anything to anyone and have kept it to ourselves.   I started having chest pains about a month ago.  Of course I made an appointment with the cardiologist and he took me in right away.  He did his usual battery of tests.  The treadmill was great, he asked me if I wanted to run the last two minutes at full speed and incline.  No issue with that.   He did blood workup, x-rays, EKG, etc. and told me to come back in a week.  He said I looked great and there was no need for any urgency.   

I went back the next week before my trip to Pennsylvania.   He said he found nothing and that I was one of his best examples of a healthy heart.   Remember that I have three siblings who have had bypass surgery.   

He scheduled an appointment with a specialist in male breast cancer.   I had a mammogram and ultrasound.  She really knows her stuff.   She found a lump under my left boob or chest.  She said it was a very small fat nodule and was not attached to any tissue or muscle and was not the cause of the chest pain.   She also did tests on my lymphatic system and they came up very clean.   Her results show nothing yet the pain persists.   I delivered the CD with the images and the test results to my cardiologist.  Now I am waiting to see what is next.

I continue my 1.5 hour workouts running 40 minutes and 50 minutes of weights.  No issues or pain occurs.   I just can't describe the sensation I get.  It's almost like an uncomfortable burning in the tissue.   It has no rhyme or reason and just comes and goes on occasion.

It doesn't look as if death is imminent or at least not yet!  That's a good thing. 

Other than that we are on our weekend tours for the next two months.  We each have a trip every other weekend.  I'm working on getting the roof replaced in San Antonio this month and the prices are all over the board.   Not sure how this will turn out.  It's a big chunk of money and I will need to be there to supervise.   Roofers have a bad reputation right now in San Antonio.  So many homes were damaged by hail.  Insurance is in cahoots with the roofers and my neighbor had his done for $11,000.  About 3.5 times too much.  One neighbor had three roofers who came and left without finishing the job.  Imagine?  We're starting repairs here in Mexico also.  Always something that needs replacing.

Home ownership is the pits.  My final conclusion.  

I mentioned to Contessa that we would head to the East coast this winter but I made a mistake.  We decided on Cuatro Cienegas in Coahuila.  A place we always talk about but never go.  It's a days drive and is supposed to be a wonderful place in the winter.

Enough rambling.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trip To Kansas City

(Barbara Lane posted about Winstead's a famous drive up restaurant that has survived decades.  Barbara, I just want you to know I saw your comment after posting the blog and want to tell you I had breakfast there!  Great as always!)

Visits home come with baggage.  Lots of memories both good and bad.  This trip will probably be the last one for quite some time.  It was fun and there is nothing like seeing family.  That said, Kansas City has nothing to offer me anymore.  I guess 40 years and the passing of time takes its toll.   My little brother still lives there and a sister leaves about two hours away.  Out of ten kids most are spread around the U.S. and getting them together is a real chore and one that no one seems to want to tackle anymore.  

My brother and his wife from Hawaii came into town for a few weeks.  They'll be visiting friends, family and also taking a side trip to Winnipeg.   My cousin Marian lives in Winnipeg and will be moving to Massachusetts just before winter sets in.   We went out for dinner along with a long-time family friend.   I was able to visit with my brother and his wife several times.  They stayed at the hotel next door.  

My oldest nephew and his wife are die hard Royals fans.   She's a head nurse and he is a teacher at the University of Missouri.  There son is 14 and a freshman in high school.  He's into robotics and loves his video game.  In the picture below you can see from l to r my godson from Germany, my little brother, nephew, his mother and yours truly!  They like Mexican food and wanted to take me to an authentic Mexican restaurant.  Well, it was Mexican, but it was more like TexMex.  Very good food no doubt.  I loved the enchiladas.  

Seeing family was fun and I'm glad I had the opportunity to make a stop off after my course from Pennsylvania.  Part of the trip was paid for and made it easier to stay for more than a couple of days.  I had a nice hotel on the Country Club Plaza although it has become very expensive.   This is an excerpt from the history of the Plaza:

The Country Club Plaza (often referred to as The Plaza) is a privately owned American shopping center in the Country Club District of Kansas CityMissouri.
The center consists of 18 separate buildings representing 804,000 square feet of retail space and 468,000 square feet of office space.[1] The standalone buildings are built in a distinctive Seville Spain theme and are on different blocks mostly west of Main Street and mostly north of Brush Creek and blends into the Country Club neighborhood around it and the whole area is often simply called the "The Plaza."
It was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.
We live a few blocks from here and I spent many a summer hanging out, walking around, rebel rousing and having a coke and a smoke.  It has changed quite a bit but for the better.  It is much more of an upper-class shopping area than it was back in the day.  The surrounding apartment towers are now tony condos for the up and coming in the city.  Breakfast and lunch out and evenings at cocktail bars are all the in thing there now. 

One thing that isn't mentioned in the above about is that the Kansas City and the Plaza are known as the city of fountains.  Here are just a few.  Funny that they are mostly nudes for a place built in the 20s and in the Midwest to boot.  

I guess it would be a great place to spend a few days but it just seems like the city is empty.  No one on the streets and people certainly don't do much walking.  My little brother and I went downtown to the city market which like everything else has turned into a posh place to eat and buy produce.   The Steamboat Arabia is also housed down by the river.  The steamboat sank in the Missouri river in the mid 1800s and was found 30 years ago buried in a cornfield as the river had shifted its course over the years.  Arabia was a cargo ship and was loaded with goods.  They were amazingly preserved and a museum was open which as I said houses the remains of the ship as well as store fronts that stock all of the products, clothing, jarred foods, hardware and more.   It's truly like walking back in time.

Well, my time came to an end on Tuesday as I had rental car with a weekend price.  I think I mentioned the fact that the four-day weekend was at $9 a day but had I kept the car until then next day the total would have come to $350.  I found an economy hotel a mile from the airport with shuttle service.  I dropped off the car in the late afternoon, they picked me up and took me to the hotel.  The next morning bright and early at 4 a.m. they took me back to catch my flight.  I hope it's true that TSA may be replaced by something else.  What a waste of energy and time.  The took my bag for inspection but piddled around for 15 minutes before inspecting it.  I made it to the plane (less than 30 meters away) before they closed the door.  They announced a 3 minute warning before closing the door and the TSA said, "well, that happens".  They didn't give a rat's behind.

I just had to post this pic of a Kansas City policeman on patrol at the airport.  God forbid there was an emergency, he'd never make it.  Too bad you can't see his front side.

Friday, September 16, 2016

U.S. Immigration - Your Not Going To Believe What I Say

Yesterday was a travel day.  I went from Monterrey, Houston, Chicago and into Harrisburg.  Then a rental car to Reading (pronounced Redding).  

In Houston it was a mad dash to get through immigration and on my flight to Chicago.  All my flight were tight and there was little room for tolerance.   First off, there was a struggle between gate agents and maintenance over who was responsible for moving the sky way to the plane's door. 

Finally got and the dash to immigration was on.  As we headed down the terminal which is a long and winding road, a 747 unloaded 300 people from China.  Running, running, I got there and to my surprise the system in Houston has been streamlined.  You go to a kiosk, scan your passport, enter your flight number and airline.  It prints out a slip with your picture on it and off you go.  There was no waiting and the immigration agents were very very friendly.   I wonder if the Obama administration has had something to do with it.

Anyway, it's 5:30 EDT and I'm getting ready to go to the high school.  I always drive by at night so I won't get mislead by the GPS or directions.   It's 10 minutes from here.  That's what you get when you make your own reservations.  Usually I end up 45 minutes away when the office makes the reservations.  The system, Concur, is a great online reservation system for everything I do.  I'm glad the company implemented it.

Tonight, off to Kansas City.