What is Plugged into Your Computer

Lift your hands away from the keyboard! Now take a look and tell me how many cables or other devices are plugged into your computer. Confessions of a Wire Junky.

I have ten cables protruding from my laptop. From bottom to top in the photo:

Two audio cables (earphones and outboard sound system)

One high quality microphone (improved Skype connections as well as guitar tuner program.)

Two outboard hard drives (total storage = 7.5 Terabytes)

An Ethernet cable (Internet connection) Yellow cable

HDMI outboard monitor connection

NOT SHOWN

Power cable

Another outboard hard drive ;also used to connect my Fender Mustang III guitar amplifier to my computer (this is very slick and will have to be further described another time).

And last but not least USB Fob for wireless keyboard and mouse

Other than an older type VGA monitor connector ALL available connection points are filled. Trace all this stuff to under my desk and there are three power strips (pretty much full) and a battery backup unit.

There are wires going to a sound system across the room; wires running to the modem/router supplied by my Internet server; of course a number of power cables going to black ‘cubes’. There is a cable that runs through the wall that supplies telephone, television and Internet to here.

An Ethernet cable runs from the Internet modem/router across the room to Anita’s computer. She also has an outboard monitor and keyboard and mouse cables protruding from her little 10.1 inch Netbook computer.

An organized person would go NUTS with all these wires and devices running around the desktop and floor. Occasionally I attempt to sweep the floor area and sort out the rats nest of cables – but this not a winning activity; truly it is as if these cables have a life of their own. They end up wrapped around things, often in a manner that boggles the mind. “How could that cable possibly be so entangled?”

When everything is working we have quite an array of ‘possibilities’ provided by all this interconnected stuff – truly.

I should mention that I have a lot of outboard hard drives that await available connection. I won’t even get into the many power cubes waiting – Literally have many, many of these little power supplies. Some probably no longer operate anything here – but I am not going to throw any out. I know I will need them soon?

We have bags and back packs to haul most of this stuff – which we do when moving from one house to the other (we have four). Sometimes in this 4 x 4 meter room we add three or more guitars. We walk carefully around all the tonewood standing tall in stands in no particular organization pattern. I have no excuse for any of this – how could I?

The most amazing part is the incredible amount of toleration possessed by my partner Anita. She came to me many, many years ago incredibly neat and organized. I know I have broken that spirit – there is no other explanation. I am a lucky man.

Stay Tuned!

Francisco was Here

There has been a lot of comments and chatter about Steve Cotton leaving his daily Blog job; retiring to something more balanced in terms of output and effort. Of course we all support him in his change.

This morning Anita and I were discussing our visit to the restaurant Acamalin. We scooted into Xico proper and had dinner there yesterday. I recalled that I had done a Blog entry on a visit to Acamalin nearly six years ago.

I entered ‘acamalin’ into the SEARCH box here. There it was, a nearly six year old entry  with a few comments including one from Francisco who still comments here after all these years – Marvelous! Tancho and Croft also had comments and are also still here. The review notes we had been going there for five years – that was 6 years ago – so there is some history here to look back upon.

Select this LINK to Read the Blog Entry HERE

I have never met any of those commenters, but they are indeed friends in time if nothing else.

We sat there for quite a while talking with Señora Guadalupe. She is always generous with her time towards us when we dine at her busy restaurant. Señor Gomez, her husband, usually is running around in the front, but is also gracious with his time and greetings towards the Calypso Couple.

The dining report is the food is as good as ever.  The menu is mostly the same. We did note that they were serving French fries which was different. I asked if they got a new machine. Indeed they had. And the fries were not greasy and very tasty. A fine addition. But their Xico mole is the real treat as well as a green sauce that is to die for.

It is fun to be able to once again tout the benefits of a visit to The Acamalin Restaurant. Señora Guadulupe reminds us it is the season of the very Mexican historic Chiles En Nogada dish (STUFFED POBLANO CHILES WITH WALNUT SAUCE).  This is not a vegetarian dish, but it is lovely to look at the colors of the plated specialty and theirs is quite authentic.

We noted this from the six year old review “It gained a ½ star for its very reasonable prices (Menu Here) and very gracious owners. Anita had a glass of mora (blackberry wine) and I had a Negra Modelo beer as well as the entrees for 200 pesos ($16 US) plus propina (gratuity). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED” Our bill yesterday coincidentally was the same 200 pesos – However it is now less than $12.00 U.S. with the current exchange rate.

They are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. But if you are in the area don’t miss the opportunity to visit. They make their own cheese by the way with their own milk cows which they milk twice daily on their rancho just north of town. Say hello for us and “Buen Provecho!”  Stay Tuned!

Plumenting Pesos

Back on March 7th of this year I wrote about the exchange rate pesos to dollars was on a rapid rise. On that day it was about 15.5 pesos exchanged for a U.S. dollar.

In 5 months it is now just about 17.0 pesos for a U.S. dollar. The currency markets are going wild. Every day Greece seems to be threatening to bail out of Euros (which are quite the bargain against U.S. dollars as well these days).

At the same time, as might be expected, things are going up daily in price here in Mexico. Whether these increases are actually tied to and relate to the falling peso is hard to tell from the edge of the pool; but then how could they not be influenced?

There is chatter on the Puerto Escondido Forum about 70 peso (about $4.15 usd) drinks being the latest club standard (we drink at home thank you – saves on DUI’s and bar tabs).

Eggs are now three pesos each and we have talked about recent avocado increases both of these tripling in cost in recent times – but the tortilla which is the gold standard has not increased with this current inflation. We think it had risen prior to the rest of the commotion. Beer had also gone up in advance to all this. But at just slightly above $7 usd for a 12 pack of Corona’s it is a real bargain as compared to double that and more out the door in the U.S.

The stock Market had a rough day yesterday and oil remains tanked at $40 a barrel. Where will it all be 5 months from now? You will have to check back.

Which you should be doing anyway.

This brings me to a completely different subject: My friend and fellow Blogger has decided to hang-up his keyboard leaving a major hole in expatriate Bloggers writing about the different life in Mexico theater. Steve Cotton (His Blog Remains HERE) probably burned out from doing an entry every day. For a number of years I did that starting a couple years earlier than Steve. But at some point too many days felt tedious to produce 500 plus words. Lugging around a half million words and producing an essay rain or shine found its predictable unrewarding end.

It is early yet. And I threatened more than once to give it all up – but the catharsis obtained from communicating in a part of the world operating with a different language and the opportunity to keep family and friends appraised as to the Calypso Couple’s where abouts proved to be the glue that has held this ship from sinking – that and a major reduction in output going from about 360 entries a year to about 50.

The beauty of it all if any can be found is a Blog can be restarted at any time. We may see a reduced output from Steve in the future – time will tell. In the meantime there is still Nancy, Babs, Billie, Felipe, Joanna, Tancho, Kim G., Shannon, Sparks, Jennifer Rose, Surviving Yucatan, Leslie, From Rancho Santa Clara, Cristina Potters and I am sure I am missing several more. So there is still information on living in Mexico as an expat. Perhaps it will all be done a little less eloquently as Steve was an artist at it. Right now we thank him for his dedication and wonderful Blog, hoping he finds peace and tranquility with all that newly acquired free time ;-)

Stay Tuned!

Bearing Fruit

Today we had a wonderful 12 mile drive on the scooter which included brunch in Coatepec and then a visit to our local market. I am not particularly adept at clipping and using coupons for marketing.  Add to the fact that my command of the Spanish language is marginal at best. Our local (in both locations) super market chain is Chedraui; a very large conglomerate.  They have a number of ways to present a sale or benefit for being a regular customer.

Avocadoes are a life’s blood food in the Calypso household. The price of the emerald green globes has been one of the measuring devices for cost-of-living in Mexico. In the good ol’ days we could buy a pound of avocadoes for about 40 cents on a good day. Individual avocadoes were sometimes under 25 cents (U.S.) for a medium large Hass. This when U.S. health food stores might be marketing the same hass avocado for $2.00 usd.

About a Kilo of Hass Avocados

Today a pound of good looking medium large Hass ‘cados are 53 cents usd. That is under 24 cents usd per avocado.

That ladies and gentlemen is as good as it gets. And lest we forget I was able to use a coupon valued at 12.25 pesos. So one kilo or 2.2 pound or 5/6 medium large avocados cost 6.65 pesos or about 40 cents usd. That is a bargain!

Today the weather is a perfect 78 F; sunny with just a hint of a breeze. I am going to go make some guacamole and listen to some Jackson Browne. Life is good!

Stay Tuned!

OK It is a Little Embarrassing

Do you have a slightly embarrassing form of entertainment?  Like playing computer games or compulsive sports enthusiasm? Some of that stuff gets left at the border, but not necessarily all.

I confess that from last Thursday through Sunday I watched a LOT of golf on the computer (TV).

Oh the joys of streaming without bothering others on the connection. We simply could not stream anything while sharing George and Pearl’s connection.  Even my sister-in-laws very fast connection in Las Vegas, Nevada could be brought down to its knees, slowed, with a video Skype connection.

Here with our 10 plus megabit Internet connection we can stream to our hearts content – well Anita did ask a few times if I was streaming when she was checking recipes on our shared connection. But the priority was the PGA Golf Tournament. The last Major of the year.

Our Speed(y) Connection TESTED

While each day 12 hours of tournament golf emblazoned my monitor I had to keep up with the Mexican futbol scores in case any buddies asked if I was watching ‘the game’. Quite simply they would not understand my golf obsession trumping any futbol games. Frankly I am not sure about that myself.

I come by the love of the sport (couch potato viewing – hardly a sport) honestly. My parents were somewhat fanatical golf tournament viewers. Although they avoided the first two days of any four day tournament feeling that four days was obsessive.  Because I tend to only involve myself with the four Major golf tournaments a year – I try and watch all four days of those four events in total. But when they are over it is almost a relief. Most certainly time to get back to reality.

Truthfully each time I do the four days I end with this guilt I am writing about here.

The latest PGA Tournament was entertaining to my mind. I did get a few things done in between the drop-everything-and-watch moments. I adjusted the water tank shutoff valve for instance. It was allowing water to seep over the lid and out to the ground – not socially responsible allowing the water waste. I learned how to play Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” on the guitar. “Keep me searchin’ for a heart of gold; and I’m getting old….”

Also finished unloading the last vestiges of STUFF from the Jetta and our trip NOB. This until we load up again to head to Puerto in October. I did leave the very large and heavy Mackie powered speakers I bought in Las Vegas.  They go to Puerto and quite simply are too heavy to unload only to re-load soon. We will live with them in the back of the car.

Oh and I repaired a stuck front brake caliper(s) on Cruise Azul, our little blue motor scooter.

Our mission now is to get our mountain casa in ship shape.  We have neglected it too long. Today we will ready ourselves for that. Tomorrow we head up the mountain (it is a mile high there).

Looking forward to that. Photos to follow – Stay Tuned!

Settling In

After a long trip (2.5 months in this case) it takes a bit to settle in. Today Saturday is our 6th day back. We have accomplished getting all systems working. The kitchen functions as usual, although our 30 year old microwave is officially dead. Back in that day our top of the line Panasonic convection microwave was about $700.usd. As I remember this included a week of cooking lessons,  They are more compact and less expensive these days.  We are on the lookout.

I have managed to play five of my six guitars. I have been on a drop D tuning jag. I like the chords that work with that different tuning. My goto guitar is turning from my Taylor 214ce to my newest guitar; a Martin Custom GC DSR. A modest priced Martin that is as far as I can tell one of the best bang for the buck guitars around; as was the Taylor 214.

Simple yet lovely she has nice lines. The guitar is my first all solid wood acoustic. Top is Sitka Spruce. Sides and bottom are East Indian Rosewood with a Rosewood fret board and bridge. I am now in the camp of believers that all solid wood guitars are better than anything with laminated sides and bottom. The sustain on the Martin is quite remarkable. This particular one rivaled all competition until the $5,0000 usd class and up guitars were compared. Color me a happy Martin owner (my second – recently sold my Martin Backpacker).

In other local news the recently devalued peso is presenting some low prices on grocery items. One has to wonder if this is a temporary blip or will the peso never see less than 16 exchanged for one U.S. dollar?

I had to brag to my Capitan, NM neighbor about the price of a 12 pack of Corona beers (George’s drink of choice there). We were paying around $14 usd PLUS tax NOB. Yesterday we bought a 12 pack in Coatepec for $7.43 usd out the door – wow! Avocados which have been on a wicked increase in the last year seem to have settled at a whopping 30 pesos a kilo – but the pain is lessened by the 16 plus pesos to the dollar or $1.87 a kilo (85 cents usd per pound). This works out to about 38 cents usd for a medium large Hass.

One of our choice specialty foods that is just so much better than anything less is maple syrup. In the U.S. the Calypso Couple had resigned themselves to paying 6.50 to 8.50 usd for a rather small bottle – but it was just a necessary expense. We avoided the 18 to 20 dollars usd exchange cost here in Mexico. I mean that is just too much money when pancake syrup costs more than Grand Marnier.

Out the door our yesterday grocery purchases totaled 900 pesos. We came home thinking that seemed high – until we converted that to U.S. dollars coming out to about $52 usd. That equated to not a bad haul and a darn sight better than what it all would have tallied north of the border. Food is still a bargain here in Mexico as was our 300 peso ($18.75 usd) Mexican hotel room the other night.

This is a good time to visit Mexico and even a better time to be living here. Come on down the water is fine (5 gallon garaphon of clean filtered water for 10 pesos (63 cents usd).  Stay Tuned!

Thirteen Hours

We departed from Hotel Rey in Soto La Marina around 8:30 AM.  It was already beginning to warm up. Other than a lunch break in Ozuluama, Veracruz we drove straight through about 13 hours door-to-door.

Appropriate Cartoon This Morning

Happy to report the new air conditioning system worked great. We saw temperatures stated to be higher than 111F!

It is a trip we have made many times now. Other than an overabundance of insane drivers, it is a casual drive.

We immediately took to unpacking – getting guitars in and out of possibly damaging temperatures has been a priority.  It is good to get those axes at a safe resting point.

Pretty Guitars – 2008 Seagull M6, 2012 Taylor 214ce

Monday will be a day of rest.  Stay Tuned!

The Hotel El Rey

We left early Friday afternoon and drove to Junction, Texas. Saturday morning about 1 AM we pulled over for a couple of hours rest. About 5 AM local time we headed on to Brownsville going directly to the local Guitar Center. We arrived at opening time 10 AM or so. The store seemed even larger than our local Las Vegas Guitar Center. Played guitars for an hour or so, bought some thumb picks, checked out some loopers (Boss RC 300 seems to be the real deal). Punched in Matamoras in the Garmin. The border turned out to be about 5 miles from GC – cool!

Last year entering into the border zone was a drive-through, as if the entire inspection area had been involved in the Rapture. The place was void of humans. We drove right through. Not so lucky this time. The Mexican inspector (there were plenty of them) motioned us over – no green light/red light options – just pull it over.

The usual line of questiong. “Where did you come from. Where are you going?” Then they started to unpack our carefully STUFFED trunk.

“Mucho musica. Are you musicians?”

“No.”Anita replied.

This was starting to look like a full-fledged empty your pockets and car here – ugh! But with about a third of the trunk laid out on the pavement the interrogation ended. I did have to open a sealed box.

The inspector keyed on a small sealed can of baking powder within – cocaine? “What is this for?

I wasn’t sure – “For cooking; for baking pan (bread)? I called to Anita to get out and come back and tell this guy what this white powder was for. It was starting to look dicey when Anita worked her magic explaining away any concerns. “We have lived in Mexico thirteen years. We live here. All this stuff left with us and is coming back with us.”

“So you have nothing to declare in there?”

“No!”

The inspectors were all smiles and instructed us to put things back they were done.

This encounter was about ten minutes. Now we moved quickly out of the official area and on to the streets of Matamoras. I pulled behind a cab stand and inputted ‘Soto La Marina’ in the Garmin GPS. BINGO we were on our way. No further inspections or delays. We arrived in town about 3:30 in the afternoon. We located Hotel Chicago. Did not like the look deciding to go with our for years hotel El Rey. We checked in to a room we had not been in before (maybe the plumbing would be better?).

Back-side of Hotel El Rey, Soto La Marina Tamaulipus, Mexico

We bought a bottle of tequila and orange juice at the local OXXO. Crossed the highway and bought a half kilo of fresh tortillas. Then just down from The El Rey we stopped at a restaurant and bought two to-go-bowls of beans; Forty pesos total ($2.50 usd). It was well over a hundred degrees out.

Back to the El Rey. Our room was now cooled down – we settled in.

It is 6 AM – still hot outside and still dark. Target departure 8:30.

Talk to you down the Mexican highway.  Stay Tuned!

On the road

The Calypso Couple is on the move again. After nearly a month in Capitan, we are heading off through New Mexico to Texas to Sota La Marina and a Sunday drive to Xico.

We sold some things and bought some things – hopefully more sold than bought. Our last purchase which arrived just in time (as George was promised) is a fine electric dehydrator. No upstanding granola head should be without one. We already dried banana and apple chips; snacks for the road. It works and is now packed away in the Jetta.

We had great fun with our friends George and Pearl – always missed when we are in other parts of the world.

We left Xico may 30th. We have been in the U.S. nearly two and a half months. A long time to be on the road. So the idea of being home Sunday night is appealing.

We will be putting our new A/C/ system to the test.  It is plenty hot in East New Mexico and all of Texas. Getting back before hurricane season is a good thing – but the heat is on.

We have planned a stop at a Guitar Center store in Brownsville for a last chance opportunity to buy a few thumb picks or ???

Next report will be in Soto la Marina, Tamaulipas. We may find a different hotel as the El Rey which we have been going to for ten years is getting that well-worn-Mexican-style look.

We have a tentative reservation at the Chicago Hotel – a couple blocks from the highway – a new experience – oh Boy!

Stay Tuned!