The telephone solicitors

ONE OF THE many positives of moving to Mexico, at least years ago, was that I was no longer bombarded by junk calls around dinner time.

old-phone-3Alas, like so many aspects of living here, both good and bad, we’ve become more like the nation up north.

Starting only in the last year, junk calls started coming in a lot, and almost all were from banks. It’s either my own bank, BBVA, or my previous bank, HSBC. Calls from BBVA are usually to offer me a credit card or sell me insurance. I need neither.

But the real nuisance was HSBC, a bank I simply abandoned about three years ago. It’s a nightmare bank, so I did not bother officially closing my account. I merely zeroed it out and walked around the corner to Bancomer BBVA, which now goes by BBVA only. It’s a Spanish bank, as in Spain. As far as banks go here, it’s the best, I think.

Junk calls are not restricted to the dinner hour. It’s an all-day-long thing. Most were coming from HSBC. I don’t know what they wanted because I simply hung up on realizing it was that damnable nightmare bank yet again.

I have solved the problem, however. I installed a call blocker on my cell phone. At first, I simply had it block further calls from numbers that annoyed me even once. But it seems that banks have an endless variety of numbers, probably to dodge this sort of blocking.

I’d block one bank number, and then they’d just call me from another.

So I’ve set my call blocker to block all calls, every single solitary one that is not on my list of contacts. I now live in peace. However, my contacts include my entire Google list, so anything important appears to be getting through.

Being a hermit, I don’t get many calls anyway.

I wonder if the dinner-time sales calls still happen above the Rio Bravo. But the junk calls happened at dinner time, of course, because that’s when people were home, and before they were watching I Love Lucy at 8 p.m.

But cell phones mean people are “home” all the time. I imagine the dinner calls have ended above the border. Or have they? I have no clue. And do they come mostly from banks or from all over the place like before?

Sexual nincompoopery

PRAGER UNIVERSITY — PragerU as it’s called — is not a brick-and-mortar institution that offers degrees and such. It’s a media organization best known for its five-minute videos on what should be, but often is not, common-sense issues.

The outfit’s driving force is Dennis Prager who, during the 1990s, had a syndicated television show that I loved to watch when I lived in Houston, Texas. Prager is smart, articulate and entertaining. And he’s a very conservative Jew, so much so that he occasionally gets into controversy with his strict religious notions.

I ignore most of those notions because I really like the videos you find on PragerU’s YouTube channel. YouTube is less enthusiastic and does its best to silence him when possible. He’s currently involved, I believe, in legal action against YouTube’s censorship.

Let’s wish him all the luck.

The above video is a good example of PragerU’s common sense. Democrat “progressives” (insert chortle) advocate plenty of cultural lunacy these days, and one example is that there are oh-so-many sexes. Pick one that you feel is a good fit. Slip it on!

No, really. Don’t laugh. It’s true! They actually think that. And they’ll pound you into the dirt, figuratively or literally, if you say otherwise.

Sane people will tell you there are two sexes, but I maintain there are three. Male, female and deranged. And you cannot choose. The universe deposits you into one of the three categories. It’s out of your hands. With luck, you’re not in the third.

I landed in the first, but the second is pretty sweet too.

First day of fall

AUTUMN’S ARRIVED, and it’s still raining. I shot the video yesterday from the bedroom. Yesterday also was my child bride’s birthday. She turned 59 though she still looks 40.

One more year, and she can get Mexico’s Old Folks Discount card, which I’ve had for years. That gets you into museums, etc., free most of the time, but its best feature is travel discounts, often 50 percent. The two of us will be able to use buses and planes for the price of one. Of course, we almost never use buses or planes, but we may rethink that habit.

Our last flight occurred in 2013. A trek to Mérida.

Just before that, 2012, a trek to Havana.

Nothing since, at least by air.

We celebrated the birthday with a lunch out and have a trip planned to Querétaro next weekend to continue the birthday festivities a full week. Among the thrilling activities planned for Querétaro will be a visit to the new H.E.B mega-supermarket which has traveled down from Texas. Perhaps we’ll see some Lipton tea.

Querétaro is one of Mexico’s best cities.

The rainy season has about a month to go, although it could stop on Oct. 1 as it did one year. Normally, however, it drags on into October and sometimes dumps rain on the eve of the Day of the Dead just to be annoying and muddy. Hope not.

From the Village to Venice

(This is dedicated to the many young men and women today who live in their parents’ basements, staring at their smartphones.)

I STEPPED OFF the Greyhound in Manhattan, walked out the terminal door and spotted a small hotel across the street. I checked in. I’d just arrived from Los Angeles, and all my belongings, which weren’t many, were in a blue duffel bag.

I had about $2,000 to my name, and it was all in cash in my wallet.

The reason for my arrival was a girl of 18. I thought I was in love, and perhaps I was. We got together later that day, and the following morning I rented a studio apartment in Greenwich Village and found work as a painter’s helper. I was just short of 21.

busBut later that next day, it was clear the girl of 18 wouldn’t work out, so I spent another night in the hotel and caught another Greyhound the following morning to Tennessee. I  forfeited the studio deposit, and I still feel a bit bad about not helping that painter.

I moved into my parents’ apartment in Nashville. There was no basement. I found a job at a mattress factory. It was a small operation that pretended to refurbish mattresses, but what we really did was pick up the old mattress and return a newish one.

Within a couple of months I’d saved more money, so I boarded another Greyhound, back to Los Angeles. I missed California, the Golden State, which it was in those days.

I rented a studio apartment in Venice and found a job parking cars in Beverly Hills. It was fun work, sorta, and one day I parked Debra Pagets Cadillac. I owned no car myself, and the Los Angeles area was a difficult place to live with no wheels. Still is, I hear.

I had nowhere near the money to buy a car of any kind.

Oddly, what sticks in my mind about those weeks in the studio was listening to Martha and the Vandellas’ endless singing of Dancing in the Streets on the radio. The tune had just been released and was a huge hit. The girls wore wigs.

Restless, one day I packed my bag, abandoned the studio and the parking lot and boarded another Greyhound back to Tennessee. I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for a spell before returning to Nashville when my parents decided to move to New Orleans.

I hitched a ride in the rear seat of their Nash Rambler. New Orleans was like moving to Heaven, and I stayed for 18 years doing all kinds of crazy crap.

The unplanned life.

And then you wind up in the middle of Mexico.