Mexico online

NOW AND THEN, a reader says that I don’t really grasp how bad things have become in the United States because I’ve been away for so long.

While this would certainly have been the case way back, it’s not the case now, and that’s because of the internet. In a way, I’m sitting up there among you, seeing clearly the silly things that you do.

When I moved south with two suitcases in January of 2000, Bill Clinton was still president and, remarkably, I was still a voter for the Democratic Party. The stock market fiesta of the 1990s was ending, and the final entry in the nonstop line of oligarchic presidents, Ernesto Zedillo, was about to introduce Mexico to democracy — to the consternation of his cohorts.

Lots of stuff was coming to a head.

One of my suitcases contained a laptop that I had purchased specifically for the big move. I left the only other computer I had ever owned, the original iMac, with my daughter.

onlineMy first eight months, in the state capital, initially in a sparsely furnished room over a garage, and then in an even more sparsely furnished, two-story house, were spent with no internet connection. The only access was at an internet café about five blocks distant.

I would go there once a day to email my worried mother and a romantic interest in Mexico City. I would also check financial matters, innocently typing in passwords to my bank and investment house in the United States. Only a imbecile would do that these days.

After those first eight months, I rented a car for a day to move the two suitcases plus other stuff I had accumulated up the mountain, 7,200 feet above sea level, to the small town where now you will find me forevermore. I rented another sparsely furnished, two-story house, and I got internet access from a local entrepreneur via a dial-up modem. It was slow.

But it was the only internet access available in town.

The fellow who ran that internet company sold me a makeshift computer, which I used for many years. After 2.5 years in the rental, I got married and we built the Hacienda. I moved the clunky unit to its new home. Not long after, the local company provided a wireless connection via an antenna on the roof, and that’s what I use today. Now and then, I ascend and knock the bird poop off.

A couple of years back, in spite of some “upgrades,” my mongrel computer had become so slow as to be almost useless, so I purchased a H-P All-in-One, which I am very fond of, from Office Max. I wrote about those thrilling days in The Blastoff and Buck Rogers Zapata.

I had stuck with the original about a decade, and was flabbergasted at how technology had progressed. I have now vowed to myself to buy a new desktop every five years. My previous website, The Zapata Tales, was written entirely on the clunker.

* * * *

ANDROID, YUCK!

androidI am a desktop man to the bone. I can type about 100 words a minute,* which ain’t possible on a smartphone or tablet. A couple of years ago, in a moment of stupidity, I bought a Samsung smartphone. A week later, I sold it at a considerable loss.

I loathed it.

I just want a phone to make calls and send text messages, 99 percent of which go to my wife. I don’t want to be online virtually every minute. I spend too much time online as it is. I have a cheap little cellphone that I buy minutes for as needed. It has no camera. I already have a camera.

After the smartphone debacle, I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 to receive email while traveling. We rarely travel,** but it serves its purpose when we do. Mostly, I use it at our condo in Mexico City where the next-door neighbor lets me connect via his wi-fi. Ninety-nine percent of the tablet’s time here at home goes to my child bride who’s addicted to Facebook.

The tablet uses Android, which I find to be a colossal pain the the kazoo, vastly inferior to the Windows on my desktop, a system I am fairly fond of. On dumping my mongrel computer and buying the Hewlett-Packard, I leaped from a pirated Windows XP*** to a legal Windows 8.1.

In addition to the entrepreneur who’s provided me the internet all these years, we now have other options on the mountaintop. Carlos Slim, the gazillionaire who owns Mexico’s phone system, TelMex, offers high-speed internet, and so does the local TV cable company.

We are modern, and I’m as aware of what’s happening in the tumultuous, race-obsessed United States as your neighbor in Topeka. And I keep an eye on you. It’s tragic what I see.

* * * *

* I possessed the sole pair of testicles in my high school typing class.

** But next month we’re flying to Palenque for our 13th anniversary, a week in the jungle.

*** The pirated XP was installed by my local guy without his mentioning that little fact. Most Windows on Mexican computers, I have read, are pirated. We are first-class pirates.

(Tips: Antivirus, Bitdefender. Password manager, Dashlane.)

33 thoughts on “Mexico online”

  1. I also possessed the sole pair of testicles in my high school typing class. It certainly made life easier for me in college. I even had my own IBM Selectric typewriter.

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  2. I also possessed the sole pair of testicles in my high school typing class, but quit after a week. The pressure was more than I could take. I did however become a pretty good four-finger, self-taught typist.

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    1. Mike M.: You quit after a week?! Pressure? What pressure? I enjoyed the class. Four fingers indeed. You should be ashamed of yourself. I type with both hands like a machine gun.

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  3. I fell in love with the boy with testicles in my typewriting class. He was a basketball star. Unfortunately, he had the morals and standards of something-other-than stellar quality . I nearly flunked typing because he sat in front me for the entire term. I thought about him a lot more than the new electric typewriters in the classroom.

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      1. This string of comments has motivated me to research some testicle recipes. We’ll have you over for a meal when I get the hang of it.

        Saludos,
        Don Cuevas

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          1. Years ago, I ate a Testicle Sampler at a Big Texan Steakhouse (or its clone, across the street) in Amarillo, TX. Despite their varied animal origins, they all tasted like over-fried breaded things.

            About a week later, I ordered some fried, breaded mushrooms in a restaurant near home. They were so much better than the fried “nuggets.”

            Saludos,
            Don Cuevas

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  4. I learned to type in business school. I have no idea about who had testicles. My skill was really honed when I went into the Air Force. We used to practice on an imaginary typewriter. The ding and carriage return were included.

    I see that neither President Clinton nor his wife type. The search for their emails may be pointless.

    It was my experience that those that didn’t type got promoted. Those that could type were stuck in that position because they were needed there. I still have an old Smith Corona from the 1920s. It is great for things for which I do not want to create a memory.

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    1. Señor Gill: Odd about the imaginary typewriter. One would think the Air Force could afford typewriters. I typed nothing in the Air Force. I maintained, more or less, the survival equipment embedded in the pilot’s seat of an F-106.

      And I too have a typewriter from the 1920s. It’s a Royal, and it belonged to my paternal grandfather and then my father and now me. It’s an objet d’art sitting in the living room.

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  5. Touch typing has been and is for anyone using a qwerty keyboard an invaluable skill. I sometimes, as I’m typing away from thoughts as they occur to me, am impressed with myself.
    Palenque ruin site is huge. Be prepared for skeeters. If you drive up the mountain to San Cristobal de las Casas, I sure want to hear your perceptions.

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    1. Carole: I have found my typing skill very valuable all my adult life. I appreciate it even more when I watch my wife peck, peck, pecking away at a keyboard. It’s painful to watch and, of course, it takes her hours to type something I write in five minutes.

      The trip to Palenque will be my second, not my first. I was there for a week in January 1999 attending a conference on entheogens. The attendees were put up in the Chan-Kah hotel, a rambling “resort” in the jungle about midway between the pyramids and the town. I loved it. That was before I even thought of retiring early and moving to Mexico. I’ve been doing some investigating online, and the area appears to be far more touristy than it was even as recently as 1999. It’ll be interesting to return.

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  6. You think your posts are about culture, but really they are about sex. This is the reader response theory of literary criticism — which means that the reader’s interpretation of the text is as valid, if not more so, than the writer’s intent. Obviously, all your readers thought you were talking about cojones. I dated a boy who could type — thought I would marry him. When I graduated — one year early in order to marry him — he told me that he preferred being with “the boys.” After that I preferred rodeo bull riders, truck drivers and men in uniform. It was (then) a more valid predictor of cojones.

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    1. Bonnie: I’ve been writing about sex all this time?! Dang! Who knew? Not me.

      I’ve never ridden a bull, but I have ridden an elephant. And I’ve driven a truck, and I’ve been in uniform. And I’ve never preferred being with “the boys.”

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  7. Welcome to my world. I have noticed that the last few essays have engendered more comments centered around throw-away lines than with the central theme. You are now going to accuse me of tossing in the throw-aways merely to stir the pot. And, in that, you would show wisdom. Blame it on all those years of political consultations.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: I kept my previous computer 12 years, way too long. I have picked the arbitrary space of five years now for replacement. I’ve had the H-P for two years now, so I have three years to go. I am looking forward to the new one. I already see stuff at Best Buy that was not available two years ago. I will not replace my H-P with it, but I find it interesting that some tablets come now with Windows instead of that damnable Android.

      Apple is never an option for me anymore. It is the Devil’s spawn. I did enjoy that original iMac back in its day. Quite fun and cute, which was not an accident, of course.

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      1. 4-5 years has always been the active life of my desktops, which means I should be looking right now. Well, I have been, and what’s out there (remember, I order from dell.com.mx) is not really any more advanced, particularly for our needs, than it was five years ago. And I find that disappointing, because it would mean spending money for the computing power I’ve already got.

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        1. Ms. Shoes: So my timing instincts were correct. It struck me as a good span of time. Why restrict yourself to Dell? Maybe I’ll take a look at their website and see what’s up. I recall — on more than one occasion, I think — your getting quite angry with them, trying to communicate by phone, etc. I’d rather go directly to a store. But I’ve had no problem whatsoever with this H-P. Knock on wood.

          I won’t really be needing additional “computing power,” just something new and speedy when the time comes. A standard supply of computing power is more than enough for my humble needs.

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        2. PS: I meant to write “additional” computing power in the previous reply. I corrected it. But isn’t Dell a company that’s been on a downhill slide for a long time?

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    1. Ray: I’ll leave that to you. You live closer to nature than I do. Anyway, I was not writing a story about testicles here. Some folks just focused on a passing word and went berserk. Sometimes there’s just no controlling them.

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  8. Well, late to the party, but if I may refer back to your first several paragraphs, I can only imagine what you see from your vantage point (and I know what you think of what goes on in the US of A); it does give me pause to think what the rest of the world thinks of the stupidities that go on here in this country. When I travel I’m almost not willing to admit I’m an American, and prefer to highlight my Mexican background.

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    1. Angeline: I think my vantage point offers an accurate picture, and it saddens me. And I enjoy waving my Mexican passport these days. Well, for all the days of the past decade, actually.

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