A Nice Trip to Mexico

So you’ve settled in at your hotel in Acapulco and are ready for an afternoon at the beach. Time to grab all those items you need:

Swimsuit: check
Sunscreen: check
Towel: check
Sunglasses: check
Flu mask: ???

It’s kind of funny, yet sad, to sit back and watch paranoia grip the planet.

art_sun_flu

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Culture Shock

We kept very busy this weekend. We started off by providing (in conjunction with another 4-H club) the petting zoo at the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Caldwell on Saturday. This was an all-day event. It was a lot of work and very little money (provided as a donation to our 4-H clubs). However, it was a huge success. I can also see that with the petting zoo business we are starting up that the pay is not going to be only in money, but in smiles. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a little kid be excited and smile ear-to-ear as they hug a cuddly critter.

We also got to enjoy a lot of Mexican culture. The band stage was directly across from us. This allowed us to enjoy some great music–even if it was a little too loud at times with the speakers pointed directly at us. I also learned that there is more than one way to enjoy corn on the cob. I went up to a food stand to order corn in the cob on a stick–just like at the fair. The conversation went something like this:

Other guy: What would you like?

Me: I’d like corn on the cob please.

Other guy: Would you like that with mayo, parmesean cheese, and chili powder?

Me: (scratching my head) On my corn on the cob?

Other guy: Yes.

Me: Okay, what the heck. Give me the works.

I felt bad that I had no clue that this is Mexican-style corn on the cob. But I tried something new and loved it! It was great. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll pry my butter-dripping corn cob out of my cold, dead hands. However, I tried something new, loved it, and would definitely have it again.

How Well-Rounded Are You?

Thanks to Matt for this one.

I’m quite round thank you very much. Oh…you mean culturally. Below are 40 question to see how well-rounded I am. I’d love to hear your answers. Feel free to post to your blog, give me a shout, and I’ll go take a look.

1. Been to a play: Yes, at pretty much all levels (elementary school through professional). I was even in a play: I played a very small part in a high school production of South Pacific when I was probably about 10 (I thought it was the coolest thing at the time).

2. Bungee jumped or something similar: No way. That kind of stuff scares the crap out of me.

3. Been a mentor/big brother/big sister: Nope.

4. Read at least one of the classics (War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, Beowulf, Crime and Punishment, etc): Don’t think I have. How about I watch the movie instead?  J

5. Stood up for someone publicly: Trying to think…I guess not.

6. Been on a major roller coaster: The only one so far is the one at California Adventure. It’s the one that does a couple of upside-down loops on Mickey’s ears. Scared the crap out of me/loved every minute of it.

7. Been to a drive-in movie: Yes and I love it. A truly American experience that everyone needs to do.

8. Done something at a drive-in movie other than watch the movie: I wish.

9. Done volunteer work: Nope, not very much. Not proud of this fact either.

10. Given a toast at a wedding, a eulogy at a funeral, or some similar, meaningful speech: No, and am not interested in doing so. I’ve got big time stage fright.”

11. Been to a major sports playoff game: I’ve been to maybe a couple dozen Portland Trailblazer games.

12. Thrown a costume or theme party: We hosted a murder myster party several years back. It was a ton of fun. Gotta do it again sometime.

13. Been on or near the set of a major motion picture: Nope. Mostly lived in po-dunk towns very far away from movie filmings.

14. Taken a compliment well: Yes, I try to. I’m usually uncomfortable inside, but do the best I can.

15. Planted a tree: I planted a couple last summer, then accidentally murdered one with the lawn mower L.

16. Been stung by a jellyfish or something similar in/near the ocean: Thankfully, no.

17. Quit a crappy job:  Kind of. I quite a job at a gas station when I was in college when I didn’t get a promised raise. Then I went crawling back not too long after that.

18. Been on a blind date: No way!

19. Done something kind and unexpected for a stranger: Nothing of note.

20. Had a major surgery: Does an appendectomy count? I had this done when I was in college. My roommate was kind enough to bring me home from the hospital. Unfortunately, the electricity was out in the dorm and I had to climb 8 flights of stairs after a major surgery…ugh!.

21. Taken a car/truck road trip that covered at least 6 states: Not since I was a kid. We drove from Oregon to Arkansas for Christmas one year. It was not pretty.

22. Been in 4 or more countries: Just made the cut here. Of course, I live in the United States; I’ve been to Canada and Mexico for pleasure; and I’ve been to Japan for business.

23. Spent New Year’s Eve somewhere special: I’m always with special people, but never anywhere particularly special. I want to do Times Square just once.

24. Visited an ancient landmark: No.

25. Been face to face with a celebrity by chance: No.

26. Given to charity in the past two years: Yes.

27. Helped a stray animal: Yes, I’ve got a bunch of bleeding-heart animal lovers in the household, so it seems we are forever helping some hapless creature.

28. Dated someone you met online: When I was dating, there was no such thing as “meeting online”. Despite my pleas, my wife doesn’t really appreciate me looking for chicks online (or offline as far as that goes).

29. Won money on a long shot: Won $500 once in a state lottery game.

30. Won your office/family/friends NCAA tournament pool: Nope, I suck at those things.

31. Won an award/medal (even if something “small”): I was in the “Who’s Who Among American High School Students” in 1986. I’m not sure it’s a legitimate honor—I think it’s just a ploy to get proud parents to buy a book.32. Driven a foreign sports car: No.

33. Been in the front row for a concert: Nope.

34. Attended a symphony orchestra performance: Yes, I’ve seen Boston Pops a couple of times. Fabulous.

35. Caught a criminal in the act and did something about it (reported it, smacked them in the head, etc): Nada.

36. Sung solo on a stage: Never, and let’s not let that happen.

37. Witnessed something supernatural: No, and have no interest in doing so.

38. Covered for someone (who deserved it) at work: No.

39. Overcome a major fear: Yes, I had a fear of flying for many years. Overcame it about 4 years ago with the help of a friend and by just investigating the facts on how air travel works and how truley safe it is.

40. Mailed a surprise care package to a loved one: Sheesh, I suck. No

Wow, thanks for reading all the way through. Now go fill out yours!

Gotta Love Public Educashun

Our family had dinner at Garbanzo’s (the best pizza in the Treasure Valley by the way) last week. While waiting for our pizza, we were going through one of those trivia question things that you often find on the tables in mom-and-pop restaurants. Things were going pretty well until we came to the question “What country is north of Idaho?” The Younger Daughter (4th grade) answered Alaska (hello, that’s a state, not a country); The Older Daughter (9th grade) had no clue. I was floored. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and thought that The Wife and I (and even the public schools) had done a good job of educating our kids. How could they not know that Canada is north of the United States?

To give them a chance to redeem themselves, I asked a follow-up question: “What country is south of Texas?” Crickets could be heard as I waited for an answer. Once again, they had no clue. How is this? What geography are the public schools teaching our kids if not such basics as what countries border the United States? I am now convinced that our country is doomed.

Christmas Wish List For The United States

We’ve got a lot of problems in our country today and it doesn’t seem like the politicians are paying any attention to the real issues. So with Christmas coming up, I’d like to give Santa my wish list for our country. Maybe he can do what the politicians won’t.

Build the border fence

This is such a no brainer that I don’t see why it’s not getting done. Illegal immigration is going to destroy this country if we don’t stop it. It’s draining our resources in terms of additional strain on social programs as well as exporting billions of dollars that are sent to Mexico. More importantly, we risk that terrorists are going to cross into the country from either Mexico or Canada and instigate an attack that will make 9/11 look like a day in the park.

Fix Social Security

The Social Security system is on a course for disaster. Everyone knows it, but it seems that we can’t get our politicians to do address it. If we don’t do anything, we’re going to end up with drastically lower benefits for retirees, sharply higher taxes for workers, or crushing debt for our children and grandchildren. In all likelihood, it will be a combination of all 3 of these things. It’s time to move toward privatizing the system while guaranteeing that current retirees and those nearing retirement get the benefits we have promised them. I have been in the workforce for almost 17 years and I would be happy to opt out of Social Security right now and redirect future withholdings to my 401k plan.

Lower the corporate income tax

The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. This is one of many reasons that jobs are being shipped overseas. A sharply lower tax rate would help slow, or maybe even reverse, this trend.

Eliminate the personal income tax

The current tax system is incredibly costly and onerous to comply with–not to mention that it is profoundly unfair. We need to scrap the current income tax system in favor of a national sales tax. With a sales tax, you would get your entire paycheck. From that point on, you determine how much tax you pay: The more you spend, the more tax you pay. If you choose to save your money, it would grow tax free.

So there you have it Santa. Can you give us a hand? There are plenty of other issues, but take care of these first while I work on compiling the rest of the list.