Running out of steam?

YESTERDAY, A READER from Tennessee emailed to ask if all was well on my end. The reason being that over a week has passed with nothing new under the Moon.

I rarely remain silent so long, but maybe I will in the future. Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. The older you get, the less steam you generate.

I began this writing effort 15 years ago come January. I started on the Blogger website with a different title. I believe the first post was about a lunch here at home with company, the guests being the inimitable Al Kinnison and his wife, Jean.

(Both of whom are now deceased. They were witnesses at our 2002 wedding. R.I.P.)

Al read it later and told me he liked it. That inspired me, so I soldiered on, mostly writing about my relatively new life in a startlingly different world. Often I waxed lyrical, and people praised it. The list of followers grew, and it was fun.

I permanently pasted some reader feedback on the side column of that blog. Here are just a few examples:

Infectiously personal.

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

Dark introspection.

You are so funny. I was snorting in my atole reading this.

You disgust me. (a paraphrase)

Later, I abandoned Blogger and switched to WordPress, a far better platform, as it’s called. And by 2011, I had wearied of writing about “Life in Mexico,” which had become routine. The novelty was gone. Anyway, many Gringos here were writing about “Life in Mexico.”

They had that base covered well. One good example is Steve Cotton’s blog where he never seems to weary of writing about Mexico. I admire his stamina.

I tossed my first blog aside and started fresh with the intention of writing not about Mexico but other stuff. Enter The Unseen Moon, a title that came to me out of nowhere in the process of writing The Old Wolf. The phrase was in the final line.

Speaking of The Old Wolf, I began writing short fiction, which I’d never done before. Prior to 2005, with the birth of the first blog, in spite of being in the newspaper business for 30 years, I had never written anything but headlines and photo captions.

I was an editor, not a writer.

Most of the brief fiction is available hereabouts via links. I also jumped into politics, the good sort, the conservative kind. Leftists, being the rabid bunch they are, reacted as they do, and I had to block quite a few commenters due to rudeness and curses.

My WordPress list of blocked people is laughably long, all because of ill breeding. Sad.

So, here we are almost 15 years after the start. We’ve gone from the novelty of living in Mexico to fiction to politics, and at times it’s all combined. And I have aged. Fifteen years ago my hair was as much black as white. Now it’s all white, and I’m creaky, sometimes cranky.

Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. But not today, it seems.

See you down the line, but Lord knows when.

Do not go gentle into that good night. 

— Dylan Thomas

But why not, Dylan? One wonders.

Felipe buys his first Bitcoin

coinI HAVE ENTERED the new world of cryptocurrency, and I feel quite stylish for having done so. I bought a Bitcoin.

Well, actually, I have purchased 0.01398091 of a Bitcoin. That’s what 3,500 pesos will get you, or would get you yesterday. The value changes. That’s about 185 American dollars. Bitcoins are pricey.

It’s not your daddy’s Bitcoin anymore. While it was mainly known as the cash of crooks and other sleazy sorts not too many years back, it’s cleaned up its act. WordPress accepts it, as well as plenty of other legit businesses, and there are even Bitcoin ATMs in Mexico, four at least, Querétaro, Mérida, Mexico City and Monterrey.

What you’d do with a Bitcoin ATM I have no idea since Bitcoins have no physical existence.

There are numerous routes to becoming a Bitcoin owner. I opened an account with Bitso, which was Mexico’s first Bitcoin exchange. There are quite a few others.

To open an account with Bitso and buy Bitcoin, you must be a Mexican citizen. But if you’re unfortunate enough to not be a Mexican, there are other routes for you.

One of many new online marketplaces that accept Bitcoin, sometimes only Bitcoin, is Open Bazaar. I’ve become a cutting-edge sort of fellow. Though normally I don’t use the word “cool” except when talking about the weather, I think it now applies to me.

Long-term plan: become a Bitcoin tycoon.

The Legal Mexican and bad cultural habits

WHEN I SWITCHED WordPress themes almost a month ago, some things were lost in the transition. One was the Legal Mexican logo that you may see now to the right, depending on where you’re reading this.

It’s been reinstated because I take pride in being a Legal Mexican. The term is even part of my primary email address, which is visible on the “Felipe” page. You’ll find a link in the header. Say hi.

I believe the term is disturbing to the political left because of its proximity to “illegal alien,” which is usually associated with Mexicans in the United States who have not bothered with the inconvenient detail of obeying the law.

Yes, the Legal Mexican is a hot-button term, which is why I use it.

There are two Yahoo forums that focus on our neck of the Mexican woods. On my bookmarks, I have them labeled Commie Forum and Capitalist Forum. Given the sort of Gringos and Canucks who move to Mexico, you can likely guess which forum is the most lively. Hint: It ain’t the Capitalist Forum.

I’m a member of both, but I’ve been banned a time or two from the Commie Forum, not because of any trouble I’ve caused but because of my politics, which are obvious on the Moon though I never mention politics on the forum.

You might wonder: Why even bother with them? Because I occasionally see some useful information there.

The forum focuses on helping old people and orphans, the occasional movie schedule and announcements of hikes through forests. I do not help old people and orphans. I don’t go to local movies (exception: Coco, which I wrote about here), and I don’t hike through forests.

Nor do I attend their monthly cocktail parties at a restaurant downtown. I don’t drink. I don’t need to polish my English. And I don’t want to lament Hillary’s (or Bernie’s) loss in last year’s election. I rejoice in it.

My posts on that forum are very rare. I’m mostly a lurker. When I do write something, it stays in limbo for a day while, I imagine, it’s examined for any hint of “wrong thinking.” Sometimes I get published, sometimes not.

(In contrast, when I post something on the Capitalist Forum, it is immediately visible to one and all across the globe.)

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Bad Mexican habit

A few days ago, I ventured a post on the Commie side, and it never appeared. I think I know why, and it had nothing to do with the topic.

I signed off with the term “the Legal Mexican.” Oh, dear!

The post I left should have been of interest. It wasn’t about feeding old people and orphans, movie schedules, or hiking in forests. It was about a bad Mexican habit. Of course, the post might have been rejected due to its negative aspect about us Mexicans who are all absolutely lovely people.

Here’s what I pointed out: Mexicans often hide prices on things they’re trying to sell. This habit is completely counterproductive as countless marketing studies have pointed out above the Rio Bravo. But it applies equally here.

I was responding to a forum post by a Mexican woman advertising a house for sale. She, of course, mentioned no price, which is one of the first things anyone would want to know. Email her, she said instead.

A for-sale ad with no price is silly.

Why do Mexicans do this? Because there is no set price. A Mexican wants to get a look at you or at least get a feel for you, particularly a feel for your economic status. The better off you seem, the higher the price you’ll be quoted.

(This is often misunderstood as the Gringo Effect, but it applies equally to well-off Mexicans. It does, however, usually apply to Gringos due to their being perceived as universally wealthy and foolish with money.*)

This practice means things are not sold as quickly as they might have been had a price been attached to the initial advertisement. When there is no visible price, a percentage of potential buyers move immediately to other matters.

Listen up, paisanos! No price = reduced buyer pool.

It’s part of the Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of living in Mexico, which I mentioned in the previous post about Magic Dirt.

On further thought, maybe my entry’s disappearance did have to do with the topic, not the signature line of Legal Mexican. Or both.

Only the Goddess knows.

* * * *

* If you’d quit colossally overpaying for everything and stop leaving massive tips, maybe Mexicans would stop seeing you as easy pickings. By the way, don’t ever buy a house that’s priced in dollars. I mean, really!

Mama’s new look

THE MOON gotta facelift yesterday, and you’re looking at it.

It’s not the first time she’s changed her dress since debuting in 2011, but it’s the first time in a goodly spell, long overdue. And her predecessor, The Zapata Tales (now defunct, 2005-2011) went through a few facelifts too.

I’m like a woman sometimes. I grow weary of looking at the same thing in the mirror, so I toss open the WordPress closet to see what’s new.

And free.

I like this change, but I always like the changes, or I wouldn’t make them. Some folks who write blogs wear the same outfit for years and years. I don’t know how they do it. Have they no sense of style?

Even worse is writing on Blogger when WordPress is immensely superior in every way, and switching is no big deal.

Let’s be blunt: These people are fuddy-duddies.

They should have names like Cora and Dudley.

This new outfit looks best on a PC screen or a decent-sized laptop. Quite a bit is lost on a tablet, and if you read a blog on a cell phone, there’s no hope for you.

The new comment section is quite better. With the previous style, it was often difficult to see who was responding to whom. Not anymore.

The type is larger. I’m not so fond of that, but some of you older folks can remove your glasses or pince-nez. There is nothing Mexican about the header, and there is a little mugshot of me up there, which the old look lacked.

The photo was taken a decade ago as I ate a churro in Mexican actress Margarita Gralia’s hot chocolate-and-churro joint in San Miguel de Allende.

I am fond of the photo because, although you can see me well enough, it’s not sufficiently precise to put out a hit on me.

* * * *

Note: I changed the theme yet again after writing the above, so some of the post may not make sense now.