The Graduate

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The Little Vaquero isn’t so little anymore.

THE NEPHEW I once called The Little Vaquero graduated from Middle School yesterday. After the ceremony, we went out to lunch in a fancy place.

I have quite a few nephews, it being Mexico where people breed like bunnies, but this guy is the one I see most often, far more frequently than the others. He is my sister-in-law’s son, the woman who owns the coffee shop, and he was adopted fresh out of the hospital in nearby Santa Clara over 15 years ago.

bebeThis is how he looked back then. I took this photo as he sat on his new mother’s bed. Cute, huh?

The Vaquero’s had quite a few ups and downs in his still-short life. One of the worst parts was his father shooting himself to death in a sympathy play that went wrong about seven years ago.

It happened after his mother tossed her spouse out on the street due to philandering.

After that, the boy had just his mother, no father and no brothers or sisters. He and his mother quarrel a lot. She’s not well suited for motherhood. He and my child bride, however, are very close.

He’s had some unusual ambitions. For a good while, he wanted to be a priest. That notion’s been shelved, thank God, and a few months ago he announced he wants to be a model (!). My wife suspects that ambition is based in part on his idea that it’s a career that doesn’t require any studying, plus he combs his hair a lot and is fastidious about his clothes.

He does not like to study.

I doubt he’ll be a priest, and I doubt he’ll be a model. Since he’s not fond of studying, it’s almost certain he’ll follow in his mother’s footsteps as the owner of the coffee shop that will land in his lap. And that’s okay as long as he continues the custom of not charging me for café americano negro.

Cool rain and the dismal science

IT’S BEEN RAINING a lot recently, and that’s cooled things down nicely. Even though it’s raining, I still head downtown most afternoons to sit at a sidewalk table with a nice café americano negro and my trusty Kindle.

It’s a good way to live.

My current book, and I’m just about finished with it, is Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics. It came recommended by young Ben Shapiro, a brilliant, conservative guy in spite of his not being a fan of President Trump.

Ain’t nobody perfect in this troubled world.

They don’t call economics the dismal science for no reason. Trying to get a good grip on the subject is a dismal undertaking, especially for someone like me who grapples with simple arithmetic.  But Hazlitt makes it pretty easy.

The book was first published in the late 1940s and updated in the late 1970s, but it’s quite relevant today because some things don’t change.

Hazlitt simplified things for me, and I’m going to make it even simpler for you:

A free market, unfettered by government meddling, works best 98 percent of the time. That’s the core message. But there’s more.

If government meddles in the free market, it should do this: 1. Look not at the immediate, desired effect of a policy, but at its long-term effects. 2. Look not just at the people a policy is designed to benefit, but at everyone it affects.

It’s quite common that a policy will help one group of people while doing harm to other, larger groups of people. And it’s common for a policy to right a perceived wrong today while creating greater wrongs over the long haul.

Hazlitt points out that most laymen do not take this into consideration when favoring something, and even professional economists can fail to take into account the long-term effects.

Speaking of professional economists, I cannot resist mentioning Paul Krugman’s prediction the stock market would tank if Trump became president. Of course, it did quite the opposite. One must chuckle.

On to the Irony Department, Starbucks, about as vocally leftist an outfit as you’ll find, is closing 150 stores in the United States due to minimum-wage increases and government regulations, putting scads of SJW employees out of work.

Nailed by their beloved socialism.

Minimum-wage increases is one of the things Hazlitt touches on at length as being an example of short-term vision. Government steps in to help “poor people,” but fails to realize the broader effects of a high minimum wage.

The higher salaries is money that comes from somewhere else. It is not pulled out of thin air. Starbucks sees that now. One must chuckle even more.

Hazlitt’s book is just 220 pages. I recommend it to you.

Obviously, it was not raining in the above video, which was taken a year ago, but it was raining in the video below, which was taken four years ago. Rain looks the same from one year to the next.

 

Vista of a Mexican yogi

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View while sitting cross-legged on the faux Persian rug in the living room. Ommmmm.

LAST DECEMBER, I wrote here about throwing my back out, as they say, rendering myself a temporary cripple.

I’ve had that problem now and then for decades, far more before my last divorce,* but it usually cures itself in four or five days. Last December it lasted two weeks, which had only happened once before. It was a hard time.

But it woke me up. Though I’ve done somewhat light exercise on a regular basis for decades I had begun to get lazy about it, and that matters.

I have a gym set here at home, and my schedule had been thrice a week, and I cheated occasionally. I now do it five times a week. I still cheat some, but not often and not without good reason.

I also do a 20-minute, rapid walk around the neighborhood plaza. Again, I was known to cheat, but now I’m cheating far less.

A new element is some light stretching exercise. I call that yoga, but it’s not. It’s stretching. I do short stretching of my back in the morning before getting to the gym set, and in the late afternoon after returning from my usual café Americano negro on the main plaza downtown.

That afternoon session is longer and involves lying and sitting on the living room floor atop a faux Persian rug. Sometimes I even light incense. I’m invariably alone at that hour, between 6 and 7.

While sitting, I’m getting the view above. The lights are out, and the late afternoon sun is out thataway. Thought I’d share the view with you.

* * * *

* It’s an issue with a psychological element.

(Note 1: Aging is no fun though I appear to be holding up better than most geezers my age. Last September I wrote here about a crippling heel spur I had developed. There is no good solution to that except for surgery. I chose to do nothing because it only bothered me now and then. I thought it was permanent, but it lasted eight months and vanished. Just recently. How about that!)

(Note 2: Unrelated to anything written so far but included just to keep you up to date on Hacienda joys and sorrows, a lightning strike on Monday fried our Samsung 32-inch LED smart TV, our TV-cable box, and a wifi box. The surge entered via the TV cable, not the electric wires. I have a surge protector by the TV, but I only had the TV power cable connected to it. The surge protector also has the option of running the TV cable through it, but I had foolishly not done so, an expensive oversight. As for wifi, I have two services, which is how I am communicating with you right now.

(I’ve already purchased another TV and connected it to Netflix, which is all I watch anyway. Our TV cable provider is a company called Megacable. Its service is abysmal, so Lord knows when the second wifi will be restored. I really don’t care about the cable TV, but my child bride watches it while she irons.)

One of the lazy days

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SOMETIMES YOU wake up to a day in which nothing of note is waiting. This is one of those days. They do not bore me. I like them.

Given that the eventless day stretched before me, I decided to do at least one thing that needed to be done, and that was to whack back three bougainvilleas, the smaller ones. The fourth, a monster, is beyond hope and goes its own way.

But due to the day’s relaxed atmosphere, I just whacked back two of the three. The third will have to wait. Maybe mañana. It was warm out there, and the sun was glaring, reason enough to come inside and drink cold, red tea.

Speaking of red, I photographed the above before calling it a day. Midday actually because it was scarcely beyond noon. That’s a bottle-brush tree, the red of which complements the red of the house. While the grass grows more yellow and crunchy by the day, some yard plants are blooming.

Though you cannot see it, buds are erupting on the uppermost reaches of the nopal tree there at the rear. That’s always fun until they fall to the ground, ground that was until recently grass, but now is concrete and rock.

In a couple of hours, we’ll be lunching downtown, location yet to be decided. That will happen around 2 p.m., breaking up the afternoon nicely. Then we’ll come home, relax a spell, then head back downtown for a nice cafecito on the plaza.

Lazy days are great days. I’ve never been ambitious.