Monday, August 31, 2009

More Progressive Legislation from Mexico

Mexico Flag

Mexico City has recently expanded their definition of “Hate Crime” to include crimes against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The measure, which was approved on Thursday by an unanimous vote of 39-0 in the Federal District Legislative Assembly, adds a section to Article 138 of the city's Penal Code which establishes that homicides and lesions will be considered as "hate crimes" when they are committed due to hate, and when "the agent commits it based on social or economic status: By association, affiliation or relationship with a defined social group."

A hate crime, the measure says, can be motivated by "ethnic or social origin, nationality or place of origin, color or any other genetic characteristic, sex, language, gender, religion, age, opinions, disability, health status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, occupation or activity of the victim."

A couple of weeks ago Mexico legalized possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. Wouldn’t it be nice if their neighbor to the North would follow suit? Ronald Regan’s ridiculous “War on Drugs” has proved to be as unwinnable as any guerilla war the USA has taken on in the past. Legalizing drugs would put an immediate end to the drug war being waged on the Mexico – USA border and treatment of those who remained addicted would cost much less than continuing this foolhardy “war”. Thousands of civilian lives on both sides of the border would be saved.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Visit From "The Mexico Kid"

We had a visit from our friend Les, aka "The Mexico Kid" today. Les was the person who gave us the confidence to make our first foray into Mexico with the RV three years ago. He is an "old hand" at Mexico travel and has been a great resource for us.

Les was in the USA a week ago and I asked him to pick up a new video distribution switch from Camping World for us as ours was giving us some problems. They were $125 locally and $49 at Camping World. I much prefer to shop locally and don't mind paying a little extra to support local suppliers but this kind of rip-off cannot be explained with any kind of logic. His "excuse" for coming up from Nanaimo was to drop off this switch.

We had a nice lunch and a visit and then Les and I repaired a cupboard door in his motorhome that kept opening when hitting topes in Mexico. We added a couple of extra spring loaded catches to the door that should keep it in place. Les showed me where he had some fiberglass repair done in Mexico after a small backing up contact with a gate. They had done such a nice job that I literally could not tell where the damage had been. Another endorsement of Mexican craftsmen! I would not hesitate having any work done down there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Honour System

We stopped by a local farm the other day. They had all their produce laid out for sale. "Real" red tomatoes, potatoes still with a trace of dirt, beautiful onions, milti-coloured squash and eggplant. The best to be found and all reasonably priced.

The people must have had something better to do that day than to wait around for the few of us who stopped to buy the goods. They had placed a metal box under the price list and labeled it "Honour Box, please leave payment for what you take".

I gave the box, which was not bolted down, a shake and it was quite heavy. Our purchases came to eight something so I left $10 thinking it might make up for someone who left nothing. I doubt if there are many of those or the farmers would quickly end this method of sale.

This whole thing gives you a good feeling about our fellow man. We could use more of this trust. It is almost Mexican.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Number 30,000

The Blog received it's 30,000th hit a minute ago! It was a regular reader from Roanoke, Virginia who connected via If this is you, let me know!

Mystery solved! It was Wayne from Roanoke, VA who just left a nice note in the Guest Book. It is always nice to know who reads this Blog. Don't be afraid to sign the guest book or leave a comment. All input is welcome and valued.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The End Of An Era!

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

- Ted Kennedy


Edward “Teddy” Kennedy 1932 - 2009

He was a Champion of Social Justice and a tireless worker for the causes he passionately believed in. Like most of us, he was imperfect but on balance I truly believe it can be said that he left the world a better place for having visited.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, That Didn't Work

Sunday morning I tried to open Ghost again and the same thing happened. "No C Drive"! I then did what I should have done in the first place, uninstalled and reinstalled Ghost. So far it seems to be working. I will know for sure by tomorrow.

Yesterday I replaced the huge CRT monitor that took up half of Norma's desk. Staples had 19" Widescreen Acer LCD's on sale for $119 so I rushed out and bought one. It is much better and brighter. I built a platform for it to sit on from a couple of pieces of 2X4 and plywood so it is a little easier to see and provides some storage space underneath. We are again on the cutting edge of technology but I have two 19" CRT monitors to get rid of. If anyone in Campbell River wants them, let me know.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Computer Panic!

Not that many years ago I did not even own a computer! Now the little boxes have become so important to our lives that I seriously think everything would grind to a halt if anything happened to the data they contain. This morning I checked the status of my Norton Ghost backups and discovered that I had not backed up my desktop in almost a month. I usually try to do this every two or three weeks at the most so I was seriously behind schedule.

I opened Norton Ghost in preparation to imaging the hard drive and a box appeared suggesting there was no "C" drive! This is not possible as Windows is on "C" so how could the computer be running if "C" was in trouble? This was not a good situation. I restarted the computer a couple of times and tried again - same thing. It is booting fine from "C" but Norton is telling me there is no "C" drive! I "Googled" the error statement and was told it was likely a Bios problem. I know nothing about Bios problems. I had hit the brick wall at the end of my personal information highway.

I tried System Restore from Windows and went back a couple of weeks but that did nothing for me. I decided to try to use the Ghost image that was three weeks old but that means I would lose three weeks worth of data. I backed up everything I could think of as well as copying my "Documents" directory onto two external hard drives (can't be too careful), loaded my Ghost CD and started the process. Ghost 9 works in a DOS environment and I always get a little confused by it. It renames drives so you really have to be careful what instructions you give it. Well, it's now or never! Closing my eyes, I hit "enter" and it started doing it's thing. I can't stand watching it work so I went and made breakfast. When I finally dared to go back into the computer room, everything was working! AVG had downloaded a new virus database and Windows had done an update. All I had to do was restore my Quicken data and copy my new documents back onto the "C".

Just to test things out I did what had started the problem in the first place. I pretended to do a Ghost image. No warnings! It is working! Exhausted, I flopped into my Lazy-Boy and turned on the NASCAR race. Life Is Good. Again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Project A Day

I figure if I can complete one project a day I am doing pretty good. Today I tackled the second phase of replacing the dolly lights with LED lights. The old lights are the type that if a bulb burns out, you replace the whole thing, lens and all. The first light burned out in the first month and the second was soon to follow. I figured that at this rate it would not take long to pay for replacing the lights with LED's that, with any luck will last as long as the dolly. I replaced the tail lights in the Spring and that left the clearance lights on the front of the fenders.

The old lights actually worked as both tail lights and turn signals. I went cheap and just bought clearance lights that work with the tail lights. The cutouts in the fenders were too large for the new lights so I did the same trick with the plastic cutting boards as I did with the tail lights. I bought a cheap white cutting board and cut two pieces out of it to cover the old holes. I then screwed the new lights on and wired them into the old wiring harness. It was a simple job and tested out perfectly. I could go into the business!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


We had a great weekend with old friends at the former logging camp of Caycuse. It was a smaller crowd this year but good times and tons of food as usual! It was the usual mix of retired politicians and union types so the conversation never lagged and history was re-written for the better a couple of times. An ex-Premier of BC made two of his trademark blackberry pies from berries that were picked just minutes before they hit the oven. All in all it was a great time and we all left, each feeling a little prouder of our own and each others’ small contributions to society.

Not a bad scene to wake up to. This was taken out of the door of the motorhome parked on the beach in front of our friend's house. Life Is Good!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Off to Lake Cowitchan

We are off in the motorhome to Caycuse on Lake Cowitchan for a few days. Every year Norma's old boss from Forest Renewal BC holds a get-together at his place on the lake near Duncan, BC. Caycuse is an old MacMillan Bloedel logging camp that was closed many years ago. The residents who lived there when the camp was operating made an offer to the logging company to buy the camp which they have operated since as a co-op. Everyone has their own house but everything else is shared including the water system, roads, maintenance shop and community center with pool hall and bowling alley. It is a very nice, quiet place to visit. I will post some photos when we get back. Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Giving Vista a Pass

I have managed to avoid Vista so far and with any luck, I will continue to do so. I have heard all the horror stories and have tried to help people who have it do something that is so simple with XP but is a marathon of jumping through hoops with Vista. My conclusion was that I will avoid it just as I did with Windows ME.

My XP laptop is almost five years old and in laptop years that is very old indeed considering the amount of use mine gets. It had one major repair under a warranty that Gateway was good enough to extent for me. That trip to the OR replaced the top lid and screen and got another two years out of it. Now the screen is giving me problems again. The screen dims for no reason and I can fix it by working the hinge a little until it comes back to life. It is then good until it happens again which is usually when I get up to get a coffee or something and move it the wrong way when I have to do the giggle the screen again to get it to brighten again. It is probably a loose wire or connector and something I should be able to fix myself so I opened it up for a look and moved some wires with no effect. Today I took it in to my local friendly computer shop for them to have a look. If I can get one more year out of it, I will replace it with a Windows 7 machine. But I will wait until that system has proved itself before I jump into the deep end.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Bought Another Lens

I finally replaced the “normal” lens that came with my Nikon D70S. The original lens did not last very long. The zoom action sucked in tons of dust so I took it in for repair. It was shipped off to Nikon who notified me that the charge for cleaning the lens would be more than the original cost of the lens. Thanks Nikon!

To get me by I started using a non-digital lens from my old film cameras and it worked fine but I was left with a gap in my focal length range and found myself having to reach for the old dust filled lens the odd time with less than perfect results.

Today I was browsing on eBay and found a new Sigma 18-50 DC lens for only $109. This is the focal length I wanted and although the price is so low, the lens has pretty good test results. I had another Sigma lens years ago and was not happy with it at all. It literally fell apart while I was using it. I am very careful with my equipment and there was no reason for this except faulty assembly. Since then I have stayed away from Sigma but many others have used them without problems so I guess it is time to give them a second chance. If I ever win the lottery and can afford a complete set of VR (Vibration Reduction) lenses, I am sure I can sell this one for what I paid for it. When it gets here the old lens will go on Craigslist for a very reasonable price and a full declaration.

Sigma 18-50 DC Lens

Sigma 18-50

Mexico RVers Forum

The best advice I can give any of you thinking about "getting your feet wet" in Mexico is to go to's RVing in Mexico and South America Forum. It is full of great advice on RVing South of the Border from seasoned travelers ("including myself", he says bashfully). Take a look, have a read and sign up for free if you want to ask a question or make a contribution to an ongoing discussion.

Like any forum open to the public you do get the odd wierdo in there with their own agenda but these are usually sorted out quickly. All in all, it is a great place to get a lot of information.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Paramedics On Strike

Our Paramedics had a demonstration on the “Big Rock” in front of our house today. At 6:00AM a group climbed the rock and started waving at traffic while the rest set up a coffee table on the sidewalk and started handing out flyers. They are getting tons of support judging from the friendly beeps and waves from passing cars. We took them down a big pot of coffee and offered the use of our bathroom.

They have been on strike since April but it is hard to tell. They have to keep a minimal staff on for emergency coverage so the average person would not even know there is a strike. People would not know this but even though Paramedics have one of the most dangerous jobs, they are at the bottom of the pay scale for health care workers. Their demands are reasonable and the Government should settle this dispute!

There are plenty of TV reporters and politicians visiting them right now so maybe something will happen. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Morning Visitor

This handsome guy came to visit us this morning. He patiently waited at the top of the driveway while I went to get my camera. The other day a bunch of rocks that reinforce the bank behind us was disturbed and now this guy walks with a limp - possible connection. I hope nothing serious was damaged.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 3, 2009

Where Do We Like Best?

One of the questions we get asked most is: "What is your favorite place in Mexico?" This is a very hard question to answer. Every place we go could qualify in one way or another as each holds own unique people and attractions. One reader indicated he was looking for a place to settle for a few months and this is the answer I gave him:

There are many to choose from and you will have to do a lot of research. They range from cheap to expensive, hot to cold and wet to dry. The high (altitude) areas like Patzcuaro and Chiapas can have snow in the winter and the Yucatan can be oppressively hot and humid. The Pacific coast has annoying bugs and condo salesmen. This is why we like to be mobile.

Note: Filipe corrected me on this point - Patzcuaro gets lots of frost but no snow (well, maybe every 50 years or so!)

We liked San Miguel de Allende but it can be one of the more expensive places. Merida is a beautiful area but hot anytime except winter and is lacking in RV parks. The East coast from Cancun down is probably the most beautiful area I have seen but far too many gringos and English speaking for my taste and it is also very expensive. Zacatecas is very nice as well and was pleasant when we were there last year but I understand it can get cold there as well. I would stay away from Mexico City for a lot of reasons including pollution and over population.

Our problem is we get bored after a couple of weeks anywhere. We spent over two months in Mazatlan two years ago but it was our first time RVing in Mexico and was a good breaking in period for us. Our son came down around Christmas and my brother for a couple of weeks as well so we were kept busy acting as tour guides but as soon as they left we could hardly wait to move on to Guadalajara and San Miguel.

Except for the main tourist areas you will need at least a little Spanish, but what fun is staying with a bunch of Americans and Canadians? We were in places where no one spoke any English at all. In Chiapas even Spanish will not help you that much as many people speak one of the Aboriginal languages.

Luckily Mexican people are very forgiving and helpful when it comes to communicating. If you try, they will reciprocate. Most Mexican people know a little English but hesitate to use it because they do not want to look foolish for only knowing a little. Most children know some from school but they are quite shy and you really have to work to get them to open up.

We have seen much of the parts of Mexico you can see from near the main highways but there is so much more to see. We want to follow the Pacific coast down to the bottom just to be able to say we did and I want to see Oaxaca and more of Chiapas. Maybe in a couple of years I will be able to answer that question of where is our favorite place, but for now my answer must be, "Maybe the next place we see"!

Great Weekend!

It was a great weekend! Saturday afternoon was the wedding of our friends Dave and Doris' son, Mike and his lovely wife, Jen, It was a nice ceremony on the beach across from the Dave and Doris' house a few miles down the beach from us. The weather could not have cooperated any better, giving us a cloudless day with very little wind. The temperature was perhaps a little too hot but we were soon across the street in our friend's back yard with lots of trees to shade us and a plentiful supply of cold refreshments to cool us down.

We were smart enough to take the motorhome and park it in our friend's yard. It saved all the risk and complications of getting home after. Three other couples had the same idea so we had our own little RV park going in the front yard. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun!

Sunday was spent napping, snacking and napping with a little more snacking and napping on the side. Life Is Good!

Mike and Jen, the happy couple