Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu steals narcos thunder

Well today while everyone was distracted by the possibility of an unsavory, snotty death the cartels of Juarez decided to come out of hiding.

I stopped off at S-Mart for some beer to drink in the long customs line (it's hot now and most of us daily crossers drink to pass the time in line in the summer). As I drove down Plutarco Elias Calles, one of the major arteries in the city I suddenly came to what appeared to be a roadblock by the police and the Mexican army. I quickly stashed my beer and drove forward to find the road blocked off because one of the cartels decided to shoot up a woman in the middle of the street as she was driving.

Plutarco Elias Calles, a major four lane one way street blocked by police

I've talked to alot of Juarenses and they all tell me the same thing - they are more afraid of "influenza porcina" than the narcos. I guess after so many years of shootings in the street, you get used to it. Seven people succumbed to "acute lead poisoning" today. No one died of the flu or for that matter was even diagnosed with it. Even the people who beg and sell useless crap on the bridge were wearing masks.

"Un Peso Jefe?"

Pandemic panic

As you are probably aware, Capt’n Tripps is upon us. The sudden outbreak of H1N1 “Swine Flu” has paralyzed Mexico. The Mexican government went public with it 6 days ago last Friday (it’s a matter of debate over how long they knew about it before that). Since then the entire nation has been gripped with fear and suspicion and not to mention quite a few uneasy jokes.

At the last count 159 people in Mexico have died from this and Mexico D.F. has canceled all public gatherings, even soccer games (I know some people here that would buy a bus ticket to hell if America was playing Chivas). Schools and universities have been closed until May 6th.

Yesterday all employers were told that all pregnant women are to stay home from work and all non essential government services were shut down (that one act will probably increase the treasury reserves of Mexico by billions of dollars as government employees will not be able to go to work and embezzle any money). Restaurants and bars have been ordered closed and will only serve take out (this promoted a street blocking protest in Juarez by bar owners and “teibloleras”- strippers, who cannot earn income at the moment).

Today there is talk of closing all large businesses. Crews have been set up to wipe disinfectant on commonly touched surfaces such as phones, door handles and even the railings on the walkways of the international bridges.

Millions of face masks have been handed out. While these probably won’t stop anyone from getting the flu, they might stop the flying snot from sick people from ending up on your shoulder.

All this in spite of the fact that not one case has been officially discovered in either Juarez or El Paso (I question this, one day before the announcement was made a 49 year old woman working 2nd shift in our plant died of a respiratory illness describes as “her lungs filled up with phlegm”. I was told that it would be reported as she died in the Seguro Social hospital).

This country is in a near state of panic with people walking around in masks, not touching each other and doing a wonderful job increasing Johnson & Johnson’s bottom line.

Mexican hottie protects herself while daredevil tests bronze lion

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How the United States provides cheap and reliable public transportation to developing countries

Anyone who has ever ridden a bus in most US cities knows how pathetic public transportation is in our country. The number of busses is limited, you have to sit and wait for 30 minutes in between busses and ridership is low. There are a few exceptions, mostly in very large cities but in smaller to medium sized cities public transportation is mostly a waste of time and resources.

I’ll use my own city of El Paso as an example. It has a population of around 700,000 people. Most buses run on their routes every 30 minutes, when the busses are not broken down (very common in this city). They ply one of 14 predetermined routes and you have to walk to the nearest bus stop to catch one. The fare is one dollar.

The busses all have handicapped access, large flat lifts designed to pick up those tied to wheelchairs or unable to climb the steps. For the rest of the populace, the bus kneels down when it stops so that first step is nice and easy. These two features lead to frequent failures and almost everyday you can see one of the city busses broken down on the side of the road like some ratted out old French car with the city maintenance vehicle alongside.

My wife attempted to use the public transport for a while but found that the bus frequently never arrived or she had to get off and wait for another one after the handicapped access lift got jammed and the doors could not close. After a few months she decided that the 37 year old Fiat 128 I bought out of Hemmings Motor News for $500 was more reliable transportation (actually it was. Other than one broken clutch cable, the little car got her where she needed to be every time.)

So, is public transport just an idea that doesn’t work? No, in fact all I have to do is cross the border into Juárez Mexico to find a cheap and highly efficient public transport system. Well almost. It’s not public at all. Instead, there are thousands of old US school buses on every street. They are privately owned by “ruteros”, the name given by the denizens of Juárez to the owner-drivers of these vehicles.

Other than looking sporty, the tall pipes keep the exhaust fumes above the pedestrians

They are so prevalent that you can literally walk out on any moderately sized street, stand there for about a minute and one will stop for you if you hold up your hand. No schedules, no designated stops and it costs 3 pesos (less than a quarter) to ride.

Five deep in a downtown park

Now, they are old school buses so there’s no kneeling at the curb, and someone with a wheelchair will need someone else on the bus (like the driver) to help them board. They do have some things that the American counterparts don’t though. Things like vendors selling snacks on board, lively music and lots and lots of amusing decorations. Lots of Virgin Guadalupes, futbol logos, sexy girls and dedications to passed relatives adorn the rear windows. It’s a large outlet for reproduction 59 Cadillac taillights and velvet fringe. Illicit Bugs Bunnys are fairly popular too.

I wonder if we Americans would just let our hair down for a few moments if we couldn’t come up with brilliantly simple solutions like this.

Chrome naked ladies - popular with drivers of heavy vehicles worldwide (with the possible exception of Tehran)

And you thought everyone in Mexico was named Jose or Pedro

Friday, April 24, 2009

Princess Leia vs. the missing sock monster

It has occurred to me recently that I just might end up in the soup line as a result of everyone out there being tight fisted with their money. I work for a company that makes electric motors for pools and spas. Even I have to admit that demand for hot tubs probably is pretty elastic during a “severe economic downturn” or whatever euphemism you prefer for “Great Depression 2.0”

So I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do for income should I lose my day job. As the three of you who read this blog are aware, I probably won’t feed the kids as a writer so I did some brainstorming and came up with some ideas.

Then I got realistic and threw out billionare playboy, race car driver, SUV salesman and most of the other things that most people aren’t going to pay for in a recession. So what do people have to have, I mean can’t live without? Food, water, someplace to sleep and probably sex.

After thinking about for at least a minute I decided that being a pornographer is something I’d probably like a lot. As a mater of fact, this is probably the best choice since the internet is still partially free. I could start a fetish site.

A quick bit of research turns up a scary bit of info though. Most of the imaginable fetishes already have their own websites. Turns out there are quite a few unimaginable fetishes with web sites too.

Guess what?, they seem to have conventions for people who want to dress up in surplus mall Easter bunny costumes and get it on (google “furries” if you really need to know). In addition to that bit of weirdness, it also appears that adult diapers aren’t just for jilted astronauts anymore.

All right, fuck it. I’ll just have to invent my own fetish and get people to join in (hey, if third rate sci-fi writers can invent religions there’s no reason I can’t do this).

The key to a good fetish is that is has to have just enough appeal to draw people in. Remembering my own adolescence, I hit upon the idea of the “Princess Leia slave girl” fetish. I mean, there’s got to be thousands, maybe even millions of slovenly fat kids who fancy themselves as Jabba the Hut.

I quick search of the internet didn’t reveal any preexisting Leia slave sites but I did find this photo, which means people out there have thought about it.

The third girl from the right has me rethinking my new career path

OK, so I was wrong does that mean I don't get the job?

OK, I was off base on the whole pony murdering conspiracy. But you have to admit, animals would be a good way to test your biological weapon right?

In hindsight it would be better just to test it on cows in some third world country, that way you wouldn't have hordes of pre teen girls demanding action.

I'm still hoping the DHS will still consider me for a job. Did I mention that I know how to operate a mop also?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to build bombs, poison the water supply and fuck up a polo match.

Today 21 polo horses suddenly all dropped dead of what appeared to be heart failure. Right now it’s suspected that there was a toxin in their food or something. While I think this is really sad as horses are beautiful creatures and my 5 year old daughter loves them, this also sends sheer terror up my spine. Terror of the type you’d imagine if you read The Stand by Steven King for the first time. Yep, a world like the late 80s B-flick “Def Con 4”.


As guy who crosses the border everyday and realizes how “unprotected” we really are (unprotected like a drunk 16 year old slut at a frat party) I’m sure these guys haven’t thought about how this could possibly be a small test to by someone like Al Qaeda to see if you really can commit mass murder by poisioning the water or food supply.

Hence the title of today’s blog, I’m hoping that since you are monitoring the Internet you guys will see this and pick up on it. You’re welcome, that tip’s free because I love my 5 year old daughter. Get out your cop equipment and get on it quick.

PS: Seeing how I could possibly get laid off at any moment due to the “sucky” economy, and Obama might throw a bit of that 700 billion your way keep me in mind if you need some employees, I’m pretty perceptive for a suburbanite.

"TSA & DHS launch undercover investigation into polo pony assasination plot"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are humans hardwired to think about phalluses?

I went out exploring in the desert of New Mexico and got a bunch of those tiny hairs from the prickly pears in my shoe. These things are barely visible but they’ll drive you nuts as they bend back and forth when you rub them.

So I found a Walgreens and got myself a pair of tweezers to get them out. When I took them out of the pack, I couldn’t help but laugh at the remnants of the card and blister pack. Surely I can’t be the only juvenile minded soul who wonders if the penis shaped trash left over was intentionally designed that way by some smartass.

Packaging engineer is probably a pretty boring job

And, just in case a pack of tweezers can't get you giggling, here's the several thousand year old Tara Lia Fail.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More little girls with big guns

Yesterday the PJF arrested 20 year old Anahí Beltrán Cabrera seen in this photo along with her Browning AR-50 .50 caliber tripod mount machine gun.

In addition to this nice bit of kit, she was also found to be in possession of an arsenal that would make an Al Qaeda cell proud. Her personal gun collection included the .50 cal, a .30 Browning, six full auto "assault" rifles, a grenade launcher, 267 magazines, a hand grenade 9,627 rounds of ammunition (holy shit!) and just in case firing some serious ordinance wasn't enough to get her amped up she also had 750 grams of cocaine to keep her excited.

In Mexico when the cops bust someone, it's traditional to put the perp on parade for the cameras along with whatever they found. Not included in the photo are the three pickup trucks she had to haul all this stuff and the helicopter belongs to the PJF but she's probably got an old Huey parked somewhere

Monday, April 13, 2009

Now that's a bit harsh

Sometime in the 70s or 80s when I was a kid, handicapped parking appeared. At first this was a great idea, reserving a space for someone who really has trouble ambling across the parking lot. Like all things though, this have become widely abused over the years as just about any minor issue qualifies you for a special plate to park in the forbidden third of the parking lot.

I think most people secretly hate the overabundance of handicapped parking places that are reserved in every parking lot in the US. Especially when you frequently see someone get out of a big ‘ole SUV who doesn’t seem to be in much discomfort and could probably benefit from the extra walk waddling up to the store. I’ve got no beef with a person who has a real need for it but I bet I speak for most of us when I think to myself, “Yea, if that was me I’d just buck up and walk the slight extra distance to the door”.

However, instead of just thinking it’s a bit undeserving the DOT in the state of New Mexico takes extra measures to make sure people think twice about taking that cherry spot in front of the door at the rest areas.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wall of death revisited

Remeber the guy with the lion in a sidecar on the wall of death? These guy from some unidentified ex bit of the British empire (probably aussies, they're always doing stupid crap like this) decide to recreate the stunt but must have had trouble procuring the lion. Same goes for a motorcycle so they scrounge up some sort of wheezy Vespa type scooter.

The tie and shorts are a nice touch. Probably Angus Young's nephew.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now that's a fire!

OK, now that that nasty business is over back to blogging (final headcount on the plus side of 108, a very bad day)

Today on the way home I stopped in the Plaza Monumental Wal-Mart to get some beer (more on this aberration later, let's just say for now that "yes, they really did demolish the bullring in Juárez to build a Wal-Mart). As I got out of my car I noticed a large plume of black smoke rising up in the sky. Two days ago a warehouse burnt down and the sky was full of smoke so I thought it was odd to have another one so soon (it's not very common but it happens just like everywhere else). Here's some early shots of the plume from the downtown TXDOT cameras in El Paso.

By the time I got home an hour and half later the plume was so large it filled the sky and was creating it's own stratus cloud far into Texas.

It's now 10:12 PM, over 5 hours since I first noticed it and the fire is now so large that it is consuming the entire MCS de Mexico plant located on the Carratera PanAmerica (yea, the one they race on) out by the airport. They make "home furnishings". This is about 40 miles from my house and I can see it from here. The entire fire fighting force of Juárez is on the scene and they have requested Governor Rick Perry of Texas to allow the fire dept of El Paso to cross into Mexico to help.

The surrounding area is being evacuated because there is a huge tank of Freon inside the plant that they expect to explode at any minute.

Now I wasn't aware the Freon would even burn so I googled it and guess what, burning Freon releases phosgene gas! Phosgene was also know as mustard gas during WWI and is some really nasty stuff (it's banned under the Geneva protocol of 1925 as a weapon of war).

Right about now, I'm pretty glad I took the wind patterns into account when I bought my house (there's an oil refinery on the other side of town and the legendary ASARCO copper smelter is here so I bought upwind unaware that ASARCO had been closed).

Monday, April 6, 2009

And the days are even longer

Well, looks like I get to live long enough to go in tomorrow for another day of sheer terror. Now I know how fish feel when there's a shark hanging around.

(With apologies to Mr. Frazetta)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Night of the long knives

There have been several events known as "night of the long knives" throughout history. The most famous is the 1934 purge of Hitler's opponents within the Nazi party. AC/DC sang about it in one of their better but little know songs.

Tomorrow is my own personal night of the long knives. I've known for weeks now that 20% of the people working where I work are going to get laid off tomorrow. In some instances, I know which ones. One old guy who stop by my office every day to voice his complaints is on the list as far as I know. It's the ones I don't know about that worry me the most. Maybe me.

I can't say that I'm an ideal employee, I'm just whoring myself to the highest bidder. Whenever I can, I goof off. Surfing the internet, emailing porn, blogging or a multitude of other vices that are OK as long as people like your company. Cause for termination if they bore with you. I've never been laid off, fired or otherwise been told to take a hike. I'm not sure how I'd take that or what I'd do. Sell shit on ebay most likely. However, using the sickest of indicators - deadlines beyond the "kill date", I assume I will survive this one too. I'll let ya know.

In a morbid twist, they are having a "discada" or sort of a backyard fiesta for those that survive the day after. There will be music, barbecue etc. in the parking lot of one of the plants and all the salaried employees (that is, those that are employees on this day) are invited. A bit macabre if you ask me. I think mobsters do this after someone gets "whacked".

I just imagine the temples of Tenochtitlan stained red with blood while the crowds cheer as another head tumbles down the stairs.