Archive | March, 2009

Mexican Drug Wars vs US Economy and Families

30 Mar

So after posting a few times about the Mexican drug war, I got to thinking about its possible cascading effects. I only wrote about this topic in response to questions I’d received from travelers. But how do the actions of the Mexican drug cartels influence jobs, families and the economy on this side of the border?

As if we didn’t already dump considerable wherewithal into the war on drugs during this unprecedented economic downturn, we’re now faced with the prospect of spending even more tax dollars on enforcement. But where does this money come from? “Tax dollars” is a little misleading, not because it’s a lie, but because of the consequences of hasty reallocation of stressed government resources.

When you take money from the budget to pay for more border patrols, million dollar X-ray equipment and helicopters, drug rehabilitation gets the poo end of the poo-stick. The families most in need of therapy and rehab find their drug recovery options shriveled or gone entirely. And it’s not just a story of a smackhead not getting her methadone. No, it cascades from there.

The labor force has now lost a worker to drugs. Health employees lose their jobs. Instead of receiving reformative care junkies resort to crime. Etc. Etc. I’m just riffing here, so I know I’m missing nuance. But the point is that the Mexican drug wars and our response to them are directly related to US jobs, families and economy.

What can you do? Until we adopt a sensible national drug policy, you can donate your time, money or words of support to drug addiction treatment centers. Our reactions to drugs should be based on the people hurt by them and our failed policies rather than the few parties who benefit from the sale of drugs.

Cabo Drug Cartels?

30 Mar

Got another question about Cabo San Lucas / San Jose del Cabo and the Mexican drug cartel violence the US media loves to trumpet lately. Is there a connection? Should I be worried if I’m travelling to Cabo? Will I be abducted by the Mexican Mafia and cut up into little pieces? No. No. No.

Here’s the latest Cabo querey

I am starting to get discouraged about my trip to Cabo since everyone is
telling me that I will likely be abducted by the Mexican Mafia and cut
into pieces.  I read most of your Cabo website, but not sure how long ago
that was posted.  How safe are things currently and what should I expect
in the first week of May?  I will continue to browse through your
website.  It has encouraged me to try and venture out to get a tasty
Taco.

Anxious Traveler

Dear Anxious Traveler,

Everything you hear about Mexican drug cartels, drug violence, kidnappings, murders and the like almost always includes the following geo-modifying phrases: Nogales, Juarez, Tijuana, border town, etc. Cabo is about 1,000 curvy miles from the US border. It’s everything but a border town and a seriously solid two day drive to the US.

Drug cartels have no reason to focus effort on Cabo. Los Cabos should remain a peaceful tourist mecca even if the FUD about Mexico becoming a “failed state” is true. There’s too much clean money to be made in Cabo. The only thing to know about an early May Cabo trip is that you might catch the tail end of some spring breakers. If you’re on your spring break, that can be fun. If not, drunk teenagers might annoy you. Enjoy your trip!

– Dan Dreifort

Southland Tales and the Compact Fluorescent Lie

25 Mar

When I first watched Southland Tales on a seven inch screen late one night in bed… in Mexico, I knew I had to watch it again. On a 32″ screen I was able to appreciate more details of this oft maligned, sprawling film. Upon a third viewing, I still love it. It’s flawed… hundreds of negative reviews hit that, but at the expense of missing its poignancy and beauty. It’s a film in the truest sense of the word. If you think you “got it” from one viewing, you’re wrong. If you similarly dismissed it, your loss.

Do you watch “The Wire”? Avon Barksdale… he plays a supporting role in Southland Tales. Nutty. That’s just one of the interesting talent choices made by the casting department. The cast is ripe with seasoned comedic actors in non-comedic roles. They all do a great job. But this isn’t a movie review. I just  wanted to tell you to see it if you’re into disutopian science fiction and aren’t afraid of a complex story.

CF Bulbs

The real reason for this post is to expose the farce of compact fluorescent light bulbs. This one’s a little too long term for the Mythbusters so I’ll have to fill in. I’ve been using CF bulbs for years. Every light in my house that can be CF is a CF. They’re supposed to last several years, but they never do. I’ve bought half a dozen different brands, from GE to brands you’ve never heard of. They all fail. It doesn’t matter if they’re open to the air or enclosed in a fixture. Inside or outdoors. CF bulbs die after about a year or so of infrequent use.

Usually, their death is a stinky, caustic affair. The electronic balast dies a toxic premature death. The forensic evidence (apart from the odor) is melted plastic where the CF tube meets the bulb base.

So I pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for a bulb that usually supplies inferior light and lasts just as long as an incandescent bulb. What’s worse, CF bulbs use far more poluting chemicals. All this to save about 80% on my electric bill. Well, I did the math. It doesn’t save me anything. My wallet is lighter and the environment isn’t any safer. In fact, my big ugly environmental footprint is even bigger with CF bulbs.

Unless the batch of CF bulbs I bought today actually lasts more than two ‘years, I’m done with them. Fool me for ten years, shame on you. Fool me for a dozen…

To be fair, my home voltage is  about 125 volts. As high as that is, it’s not abnormal. If that’s why CF bulbs fail, (and I’ll look into it,) then at least I know. I just wish they’d say as much on the packaging next to the warning label saying, “warning: use of this product might cause a loss of darkness.” Don’t laugh. We’re only one lawsuit away from that waste of ink.

FCC Do Not Call List Idiocy

21 Mar

WARNING!! Something or other about your auto insurance.

BEWARE!! An issue with your credit  card…

The only reassuring bits of those two spammy phone calls is the part when the fembot on the other end of the phone divulges that this is their final attempt to contact you/me/unfortunate recipient of annoying robot phone call.

How to Make a Do Not Call List Complaint

After several similar calls over a few weeks, I stayed on the line until I got a human. Who kindly explained to me that they’re a big organization and that removing me from their call list wouldn’t be easy. (Why was I on this list in the first place?!) So I googled for do no call list complaint or something like that and got to a FCC page similar to but not as userfriendly as this hand FCC do not call violation report form. (Here’s the more convoluted fcc do not call complaint form I initially found.)

So far so good. Filled it out. A few days later, having completely forgotten about robot calls I received an envelope from the FCC. I was  a little scared. That’s right. Dan Dreifort owns parts of a couple of ISPs and creates a lot of crappy web content, so I flattered myself into thinking the FCC caught me in some unintentional gaffe. It didn’t get better when I opened it and saw that the missive was sent from the FCC complaints division. *gulp*

Government Waste

Naturally, it was just six pages of information about my do not call complaint. Good, but not great. Why would they send me three pages front and back via USPS when I submitted my complaint online and provided them my email address? (At least they printed on both sides of the paper…) So I’m going to complain to the FCC again. But this time, I’m saying something like, “Hey, you could save a lot of taxpayer money if you’d send email confirmations instead of killing trees and buying postage.”

Who the hell expects a written response when filling out a form online? Let’s hope Obama’s administration will realize the potential savings of bringing the FCC into the internet age. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a userfriendly form for me to use. Maybe I’ll write them a letter.

Tempurpedic and TLC Laser Eye Center

17 Mar

The two seemingly have nothing in common, but here they are, Tempurpedic and TLC Laser Eye Center sharing a stupid blog post. Why? I’ve made pages for both of these companies. The former makes memory foam mattresses and I’m trying to scheme the system by bilking them of their foam. That’s right. I want foam. So to that end, I made a fourth page on my Free Tempurpedic Bed Project page. Tempurpedic page four. You love it. The latter, they’re one of those LASIK refractive laser eye surgery joints. I know a few people who’ve gotten lased. They’re almost entirely happy. Well, to be fair, everybody I know who went to TLC Laser Eye Centers is happy.

TLC Laser

A friend I know who went to another laser eye surgery place had to start wearing glasses again after five years. His girlfriend noticed he was squinting while reading and things regressed from there. Glasses again. TLC vision guaranties your LASIK for life and they have literally hundreds of offices around the US to service your peepers should you move in the future.

So a friend who went to TLC has these coupons for $100 off your TLC procedure and a free consult. She asked me to make a page for her to give her coupons away. She gets a $25 free gas card. Yay. I put some google ads on the page and make a few bucks too. What a world.

Acting Schools New York

17 Mar

Having attended a liberal arts school and associated with what some might call a bohemian crowd, I find myself knowing plenty of actors in New York. As if the struggling actor’s life was ever easy, increasingly they’re finding it necessary to network and actually train *gasp*. A friend came to me with an idea for a New York actors’ resource site. She spent a lot of time developing the idea and then found that there were plenty of other resources to find seminars and acting schools New York.

So I introduced my actor friend (who I met through my musician pal) to my web design buddy and through even more artsy connections became introduced to the premiere online actor networking community in New York. I’ve since become close to the Actors Connection crew and I’m impressed with their service offering, or moreso, my actor friends are. Looking for acting classes New York? Actors Connection provides seminars and classes almost every day of the week.

So yes, I’m shilling for them. I like them and want them to do well. Acting schools New York, acting classes New York, seminars from industry pros, talent agents, casting agents, help with cold auditions. Whatever you need. They’re there for you. Click a link if you’re a NYC actor.

Parkersburg WV Historic Walking Tour

9 Mar

A month ago I found myself in a sterile doctor’s office in West Virginia, having traveled an hour to get there because it was the closest treatment option for what ails me. Through the equally sterile blinds I noticed a huge dilapidated and obviously old building across the street on a hill. “What’s that huge building?” I asked a nurse. She didn’t know. I investigated and discovered a perfect day trip from Athens, OH.

The Julia-Ann Square Historic Walking Tour

It was cold in February, so I slowly drove through the area. Houses spanned architectural periods from pre 1850 to the early 1940s. Some were clearly restored to their original beauty while others (only a few) are dilapidated and worn, skeletons of former majesty but amazing nonetheless. Some otherwise magnificent houses were in varying states of rehabilitation. One, on a side street was wrapped almost entirely in Lowes brand house wrap almost as if it’s gestating or whatever happens in a cocoon. Alas, much of the rehab works seems to have stalled with the economy.

So I returned to Parkersburg for yet another doctors appointment and the weather was nice enough for a stroll through the Julia Ann square Historic District. You’ll find white plastic containers with walking tour guides, or at least you will in the summer. As of mid-March the brochures were still in hibernation. That didn’t stop me from walking around with my sis enjoying a slice of history. Many houses place brass plaques by the sidewalk displaying brief details like build date and initial owner.

One of the neighborhood denizens noticed our appreciation and came out of his house with a couple of the aforementioned guides.  Bud Ludford isn’t just a member of the Historic Walking Tour, he’s the creator. (Said in the Hair Club for Men voice…) Bud gave us an impromptu tour of his turn of the century house on Ann Street. The entire house is decorated in period perfect, and often original  furniture and pictures. The parlor, replete with a working Victrola wax cylinder player and other appropriate bric-a-brac takes you to another era.

Bud explained that in the summer, homeowners often invite tour-takers inside to show off their houses and provide details missed in the walking tour guide book. Houses on the tour date from 1840 to 1942 and are all exemplary of their respective periods. There are benches regularly spaced along the walk, usually pointing at beautiful houses or ornate gardens. The tour encompasses Ann Street and Juliana Street from 9th to 13th St. The only cross street with many entries is 12th.

I haven’t walked the whole thing yet, but my favorites so far are the Dils – Lecht – Creel house with its eclectic period-spanning archetecture and the mighty “Castle” Van Winkle – Wix house. I’m a sucker for a good turret. Here’s a map of the Parkersburg West Virginia Historic Walking Tour. Enjoy.

Mullet Hasselhoff and Douche Instructions

7 Mar

I blog but I don’t regularly read any blogs. I syndicate content but I don’t subscribe to any RSS feeds. I “tweet” by default only because I found an app to automatically update twitter from another content source. I IM only when it suits me and always remain invisible. And though that might make me sound like a Luddite of sorts, I’m not. But I am a creature of convenience. What I’m saying, is that if the title of this blog entry (Mullet Hasselhoff and Douche Instructions) didn’t already scare you away, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t get any better. You should leave – and I wouldn’t blame you. Rather, I’d commend you. This is the painfully boring reality television of the blogosphere. (Like saying this is the especially poopy poop of the poop?) But alas, I digress…

Mullet

I usually get one real haircut every year. Call it a shearing if you like. Shave the whole damn mess off. But first, I like to have a little fun. I’ve done the strawberry blond mohawk. Long ago, I briefly sported a reverse mohawk and tried to get people to call me “Stripe”. Didn’t happen. Double failure. Instead of learning from these mistakes, I braved the mullet for a day prior to my last shearing. My mullet Hasselhoff as I like to call it is preserved for posterity complete with an idiotic narrative. I am not embarrassed; I’m just a slave to guerrilla theater. (e.g. see my bud dry skits and now-nearly-famous douche instructions.)

If you’re a guy and you’ve gone through life or at least a large portion of it with a single hair style, you should consider an abrupt change. People treat you differently depending on your hair. When your hair is long, longhairs will say, “Hey dude!” while the short hairs will look the other way. Shave that mane off and you’ll find the hairful ignoring you while the shorties will welcome you as one of their own. Please note: This little hair exercise’s worth relates only to what you’d gain from a sociological/fashion experiment. Well… mostly.

Further causing me to lose faith in humanity (as if writing about ones hair is not bad enough,) when I posted a status update about my plans to shear on a popular social networking site, dozens of my connected compatriots elected to comment. True, I did ask for suggestions. Alas, most I’d already tried, and the rest didn’t move me. I’m thinking I should go for male pattern baldness for a day. My maternal grandfather lost almost all of his hair when he was a very young man. My mother then tortured me warned me throughout my youth and early adulthood that I should cherish my hair while I had it… because it would soon be gone!

I find myself closer to 50 than 18 years of age and I still have my hair. Thanks ma. Nonetheless, I could lose my hair… It is thinning a little. Though tempted to type “I digress” again, it would be misleading. I doubt I could digress from infinite digression. So spring is almost here. The impostor ladybugs (nee Asian ladybeetles) are literally escaping from the woodwork. Time to till the garden. Think about opening the pool. Pick up all the pine cones (read pay somebody more able bodied to pick them up.) And most pressingly, it’s time to decide what to do with this mop of hair.

Cabo San Lucas Weather

4 Mar

I’ve traveled to Cabo / Los Cabos Mexico a few times, an area that encompasses both the relatively sleepy San Jose del Cabo and the comparatively exciting Cabo San Lucas. Why do I go? In part because the weather in Cabo San Lucas is always amazing. Sunny and hot in the summer. Sunny and warm in the winter. The cool ocean breezes temper the extreme summer heat so you don’t really notice you’re in a desert – an observation further occluded by the lush imported vegetation decorating the seaside touristy areas of Cabo.

Cabo Weather

My cabo web site, CaboAction.com was lacking a clear page about Cabo San Lucas weather. So I made one. Just click that link over which your eyes just meandered. I know that you can find Cabo weather information in multiple places online, but I want to eventually create a comprehensive Cabo weather portal. I started by adding three different Cabo weather widgets or gadgets. Clicking on any one of them will display more information about the Cabo weather forecast.

Soon I’ll add monthly temperature and precipitation averages. (It doesn’t rain much in Cabo.) And I’ll try to get some really good information about the ocean temperature in the Sea of Cortez / Gulf of California. I brought my snorkel gear to Cabo in February once only to find that the water was a little too chilly. That’s not to say you couldn’t swim, plenty of people did. I even waded around a little. But if you want to linger in the water and snorkel for  long periods, the depth of winter isn’t so comfortable.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Kauai Bicycling

3 Mar

So I blew my back out over a year ago. (It’s an extruded disc if you want to get technical.) My greatest lament has been my inability to lead a “normal” physically active life. I went so far as to purchase a stationary recumbent bicycle. That worked for a while until my back inexplicably worsened. I’m in that unlucky slot – gaining weight, back too shot to live a normal life, but not bad enough for those usually (allegedly) moneygrubbing cut-happy neurosurgeons to cut me and fix things.

I’ve been to Hawaii several times. Once to Maui and many cherished stops on Oahu. I’m a total sucker for Hawaii. I’ve heard great things about both the Big Island and Kauai. The former – a crazy volcanic pit of lava-tastic adventure, the latter the relatively undeveloped home to the wettest place this side of that other really wet place. (Is it really the wettest in the world?)

When visiting Maui, I really wanted to bike down Haleakala. Two things prevented me from doing this. 1. I was recovering from knee surgery. (Is my connective tissue made of glass?! Didn’t they make a movie about me?) 2. You have to wake up before I usually go to sleep to enjoy tearing down a volcano on two skinny wheels. That one-two punch kept me from biking that day, and might’ve saved my life.

As I type this, I realize that the built in spell checker isn’t working for whatever reason. I was really impressed that I’d spelled “Haleakala” correctly. I don’t think I did. But you know what I mean. (Please contact me if you find spelling errors!)

So as much as the huge volcano isle is tempting, I’m considering Kauai for my next trip. I hear Kauai bicycling opportunities are amazing. I poked around and found a place that rents recumbent bikes, so I might give Kauai bicycling a shot. It’s an older island/volcano, so it’s not as steep and rugged as the Big Island or Maui’s Halewhatever it’s called.

My biggest concern is riding a recumbent bike that actually has wheels. The last and only time I tried to ride one was in the 1980s in Put-in Bay, Ohio, coincidentally also an island. (But not a volcano.) Recumbent bikes were a new (to me) thing, but I was pretty young, so plenty was new to me. They were billed as “the Ferrari of bicycles”. The guy tooling around on one might’ve been the same guy who was renting them to Marks like me. Regardless, the younger and ostensibly more agile me couldn’t grok it. I spent a few minutes trying to get going… but couldn’t. No sale. Bad Mark!

Maybe it’s something that comes with age. I’ve since seen plenty of oldsters riding them. Perhaps it’s one of those necessity things.  “My damn back’s broken. This thing is my only option to not gain fifty pounds. I’ll fight it like Calvin fought his bike if I have to.” Kinda like that?

We’ll see. I doubt I’ll be biking here in Kauai. Doesn’t sound like a good Kauai biking trail.

Swine Flu Tracker

Swine Flu News and Information

Grown Up Book Reports

Book reviews with a healthy dollop of snark

Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

%d bloggers like this: