Ice on the mountaintop

This is not our yard, but it sort of feels like it.

We awoke this morning to the first freeze of the season. January First, how appropriate. There was frost on the grass, and the birdbath was a skating rink.

The terraza thermometer indicated about 40 degrees at 8:30 when I stepped out there, but the other indications made it clear that an overnight freeze had occurred. This is not rare in January, and the good thing is that it warms up quickly as the sun rises.

Occasionally, we pass through winter without even one freeze, but that does not happen often. I prefer to dodge freezes because the plants get walloped, especially the banana trees that turn brown and require heavy trimming, which is a bother.

A cold front came through overnight, obviously, and yesterday announced its imminent arrival none too subtly with blustering winds. We were blowing all over the place. Three clay tiles even sailed off one of the carport roofs.

But let’s move on to other topics.


Old dogs, new tricks

Like most people, I enjoy music. I am not an aesthete. I just know what I like. I’m the same with food. I am not a foodie. Music enters the ears with pleasure as grub goes down the gullet pleasantly too. I am a simple man, raised on the red-dirt roads of Georgia.

Like most people of advanced age, I once listened to music on vinyl. For some reason, it comes to mind that I had a few records — that’s what we called them — when I lived in San Juan in the Caribbean. I did not have many. I had a Willie Nelson, maybe his first. I also had a few of the Argentine Atahualpa Yupanqui and the Brazilian Vinicius Demoraes that my Argentine girlfriend had brought up from Buenos Aires.

Flash forward more than a decade, and I was living in Houston. I remember my debut compact-disk player and the first day I used it. I heard Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. CDs are better than vinyl no matter what Luddite aesthetes tell you.

Here at the Hacienda, we have tons of music CDs, almost all of which I toted over the Rio Bravo years ago. And we have the players. Alas, the players are going belly up, and new ones are more difficult to find.

More difficult, not impossible, and the available ones aren’t that good.

One of the three we still have in the house committed suicide last week, leaving two others with somewhat evil tempers. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. It was then that a word popped into my feeble, aging brain. Bluetooth!

This is a technology that’s about 20 years old, but I had never used it. The only thing I knew about Bluetooth was that if you put one device near another, they could communicate. That was the totality of my understanding. I knew people all over the place were using Bluetooth to listen to music, but I had no clue how. I went online to investigate.

Let’s make a long story short. Cut to the chase, as they say.

I am now the owner of a Sony Bluetooth portable speaker via Amazon Mexico. It’s only about four inches high, but it produces a great sound to my unaesthetic ears. It cost about $60 U.S. I can buy a second to provide stereo sound, but I doubt I’ll do that. I am happy with what I have.

I also subscribed to Deezer, a music app that has a gadzillion tunes, including Vinicius de Moraes and Atahualpa Yupanqui.

So, bye-bye boomboxes. The old dog has learned a new trick.

Bluetooth. Who knew?

My smartphone’s not too swift

I TOTE a smartphone, but it’s not the brightest bulb in the pack.

It’s the only one I’ve owned, and I’ve had it about four years. I bought it “pre-owned” on MercadoLibre for 1,000 pesos, which is about $53 U.S. today, but it was a bit more when I bought it.

It’s a Sony Xperia, and it’s so small that when I use my bank app to get a 12-digit code to use at an ATM when I don’t have my debit card, the phone cuts off the final digit of the code, making it useless. If only the screen were wider.

My phone is never connected to the internet except in my house where it uses my WiFi, and the only thing I do online is check balances at my two banks. I don’t do email or Google or anything of that sort. The primary reason is that my fingers are large, and the phone’s keyboard is small.

I use it 98 percent to send text messages to my wife and, occasionally, call someone, usually my wife. It’s a phone, fer crissakes.

I’m not averse to technology, but phones are too small for me. My child bride has a larger Samsung Galaxy, but I still find the keyboard annoying. I don’t like to be annoyed.

Some people type fast on a phone, and they do it with their thumbs, which is my biggest finger. Anyway, I don’t want to learn that because it would confuse my typing on my Hewlitt Packard All-in-One desktop machine.

I type 100 words per minute on that baby, something I learned in typing class in high school where I was the sole boy in a sea of girls.

Not only is my Sony keyboard small, the phone has limited storage. Usually, if I want to add a new app, it tells me that I first have to delete some other apps, just not enough room for a new one.

I don’t use many apps. I have the obligatory call blocker, a flashlight, a bluetooth skimmer to use around ATMs. You know about that? That pretty much sums up my phone apps. I’m a simple fellow. The Hacienda has no landline.

One might think, hey, he’s an old guy, so he cannot grasp high technology, but lots of people my age, probably most, carry high-tech phones. But not me.

Maybe one day, and I prefer “pre-owned.”

Last man standing

sonyUNTIL THIS week, I was the last man in the modern world without a Smartphone. But I have folded.

Sure, I had a cell phone, had one for years. It would do calls, messages and, well, that’s it. I was a Luddite in the phone department. The Hacienda has no landline.

I had never bought a Smartphone because I already spend too much time online, plus the phone keyboards are too freaking tiny for my manly paws. It’s annoying.

The primary reason I upgraded was that the old phone’s sound was lame. I frequently had trouble understanding what was being said* through that antique gizmo.

My new phone is a Sony Xperia C1904 that came onto the market in 2013. I bought mine used for 1,200 pesos, about 65 U.S. bucks, on Mercado Libre, which I’ve been wanting to try for years. A reseller in Mérida shipped it to me via DHL.

It’s not one of the huge ones. It measures 2.5 inches by 5 inches. I bought a nice case to carry it on my belt. I look very hip.

I have no contract. I just pay for the time I use, which is how I want it. I don’t need a contract because I don’t communicate with lots of folks. My personality remains the same.

My phone number did not change.

* * * *

* Say what?