Ok. In case anybody asks…

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I’m going to help make you the smartest margarita drinker in the bar.

So what, exactly is Cinco de Mayo?

Ok, so like a super long time ago (1860’s) there was this Mexican president named Benito Juarez…totally like that border town, you know?

Anyhow, Benito stopped making payments on debt owed to France.

And France was all like “Whoa man! No waaaay” and they *attacked* Mexico to get their money.

Then they totally thought they would also take over Mexico, and that would teach them a lesson and stuff.

But Mexico was all like “No way Jose!” and they fought back.

And in this one battle in the city of Puebla on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army totally kicked some French *ass* and there was much rejoicing.

And so we drink tequila and eat guacamole in memory of those valiant Mexican fighters!

Unfortunately…it didn’t really hold up the French for long and by a year later they occupied Mexico City.

Some French dude named Maximilian thought he was all kinds of hot sh*t. Whatever Max!

Then the U.S. was all like “stop acting like children! Take your toys and go home!”

So they did. And Benito Juarez got to be president again.

But anyhow, there was that one super huge battle in Puebla, against all odds, and so that’s why we all have to eat Mexican food and drink and stuff.

It’s super patriotic.

I swear!

Mostly.

Source: Wikipedia

2007 Cinco de Mayo parade, Calistoga, CA. Image by Karen Fayeth.

And so it came to pass….

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….that living in the Land of Schwarzenegger, in the area of the Bay, there came to be a fish. A small fish. A fish who was filled with faith and hope.

A fish purchased under the accursed impulse-purchase vexation.

The fish was of the Betta clan, and was given the name of Benito, meaning “blessing” or “blessed one” in the Spanish culture (and meaning tiny little dictator in the Italian tradition).

And so it was that Benito came to live in the house of The Good Man and true to his name, blessed us all.

Benito swam and ate of the bloodworm. And it was good.

Until it wasn’t good.

And forsooth, Benito ceased to eat, and lay on the floor of the tank, flat on his side, and took on a gray pallor.

Which only raised memories of Frank, also of the Betta clan, who came before Benito and expired so painfully.

And so it was that The Girl wept, felt necessary to rend her garments, gnashed her teeth and howled to the heavens, “Why! Why must I have the curse of killing helpless fish?”

Then The Girl resigned herself to the knowledge gained that she was not meant for fish ownership.

Another matchbox coffin was prepared, and sadness befell the house of The Good Man.

In the last, desperate hours, The Good Man proclaimed, “he who believeth in the bettas shall never die.”

Thusly, The Good Man brought his mighty hand down and created freshly treated water and added the miracle of the antibiotic powder.

The limp body of Benito of the Betta clan was deposited into the fresh, medicated water and hope was not held out.

In the break of the morn, The Good Man, in his grace, went to the tankside of Benito of Betta, and proclaimed, “Yea, tho I believe this crazy fish is hungry!”

And chopped up pieces of bloodworm were deposited in the tank, and verily Benito of Betta did eat.

“No %$&#ing way!” came the cry from The Girl, who stared in disbelief at the miracle The Good Man had wrought.

“Yeah, don’t get your hopes up,” The Good Man admonished, but despite his downplaying the whole thing, The Girl did ignore him and did in fact get her hopes up.

And forsooth! Benito of Betta did continue to eat. And became more upright, and began to flap his fins in a normal manner.

And Benito of Betta was thusly nicknamed the Lazarus Fish, having risen from the dead.

So it is that some two weeks from coming to the house of The Good Man, Benito of Betta continues to live and eat and could almost be described as thriving.

And with the focus on a new, recovering fish, The Girl finds the sadness over the loss of Frank is beginning to ease.

With the help of The Good Man, guardian of the broken pets, The Girl may in fact learn to be a suitable owner of small helpless fish.

And for the moment, it was good again.

But don’t get your hopes up.

P.S. Margaret, female of the Betta clan, and The Good Man’s fish, continues to thrive quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.

Tracking My Every Move

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Recently, my local Long’s Drug store was converted to a CVS store. Mergers and acquisitions are a way of life.

With the new CVS store came a new request…”Do you have your CVS card?”

As soon as CVS took over, they implemented one of those frequent shopper cards that it seems every store has these days.

You shop the store and when you swipe the card, you get discounts on some items.

Seems harmless, right? Swipe a card to get a discount.

Actually, I think these things are pretty insidious. This, despite the fact that I actually use the cards in many stores.

So in exchange for discounts on items, which, by the way, I believe are marked up so they can discount them…the store gets to track my shopping data and use that information however they choose.

Ostensibly, it is used to both market to me personally, and to help figure out what to stock and in what quantities.

But here’s what bugs me: In order to get a card, I have to give them personal data. Name (first and last), address, phone number, and date of birth (so they can send me a birthday card??).

Just what, exactly, do the stores do with all of this data they’ve mined?

By the by, to purchase marketing data like this costs a lot of money. They are getting it for the price of marking up an item so they can take a discount off the top. Cheap deal!

Plus, I suspect they are also selling the data too. Tidy sideline business, I’d say.

I got to thinking about all of this today when I read an article about a recent salmonella outbreak. The CDC asked permission from the patients, and used their shopper cards to trace back to which food item caused their illness.

Ok, so that’s a pretty good use of the data. Permission was granted, in advance, to use shopping information.

If only all the uses of my data were for such noble causes.

I personally have an issue with all of the data that is collected and tracked in our ever-evolving data driven society. Google tracks all the websites I’ve visited, has satellite and street level images of my home, and oh, and if I use their email service, they track information from that too.

Airlines and Homeland Security track everywhere I travel.

Security cameras everywhere track my movements.

A retail company I worked for installed cameras that track a shopper as they come into the store, note what items a shopper looks at, picks up, and ultimately buys (to evaluate effectiveness of the store layout, the manufacturer of the device says).

AT&T knows WAY more about me than pretty much anyone in my life. Phone calls, text messages, email, what sites I surf, etc is all available on their mobile network.

And honestly, every single time I use my credit card, someone tracks where I am, how much I’ve spent and what I spent it on.

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. Usually I take things in stride, but even I have my limits.

Lately, I’ve been using cash more and trying to frequent stores that don’t collect my data, like Trader Joe’s and Walgreens.

I’m not yet to the point where I want to live “off the grid” on my compound in Montana, with razor wire around the perimeter and an avid suspicion of authority.

But some days, I gotta be honest, it doesn’t sound too bad…..

I suppose "they" are right sometimes

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You know what “they” say?

They say when you have a blister filled with water, you shouldn’t pop it.

They say that water is protective. Keeps it from getting infected.

BAH! I say to they.

It’s no big deal. I pop my blisters all the time. I hate that poofy skin feeling.

I used to take ballet lessons (on toe) as a kid. I have worn many a cheap shoe in my life. I’ve had a lot of blisters.

I pop ’em all.

No big whoop.

On Sunday The Good Man and I went for a long walk out at a nearby nature preserve. I was wearing new shoes. I got a pretty big blister on my left ring toe. I popped it. Whatev.

It now has refilled itself. With gray-green pus.

Gross!

I hate it when “they” are right….

(Channeling my inner Russian grandmother. Betcha didn’t know I had one of those? But I do.)

“Why? Why, bubbie? Why did you pop that blister? You know what they say, don’t you? They say don’t pop blisters. Now they are going to have to cut your toe off! And put on a jacket!”

Wow, New Mexico, really?

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I’m late to this party, but just have to write a few words of huffiness regarding the New Mexico Senate’s vote to start taxing tortillas.

I got wind of this from former Albuquerque mayor Jim Baca‘s blog and have read up a bit more this morning.

This article from New Mexico Independent told me all I need to know.

The vote has already passed the Senate. Ugh.

So look. I get it, ok? In the best of boomtown heydays, New Mexico has never been a rich state. How does a state make money? Taxes.

A few years back, New Mexico made the move to end taxes on groceries.

When I moved to California over a decade ago, I was shocked to discover that grocery food items here aren’t taxed. Holy jeebus, California will certainly tax everything else! But food, no.

Then California decided to add in a tax on junk food items.

Ok, fine. I disagree with it, but I get it.

So, in theory, I understand what New Mexico is doing. They need money. Lots of it, and so adding in a junk food tax is not totally unprecedented.

However…when the “junk food” term applies to cultural food staple items like tortillas and chile pods, now I have to ask myself just what the sam hell is going on in my home state?

I tend to shy away from the “tax the rich!” debates, but I have to say, on the face of it, taxing flour and also taxing tortillas made from flour really sounds like punishing the less financially well to do.

I’m left a bit perplexed at this whole thing.

For New Mexico, a state that has always sought to maintain the ethnic heritage of the multi-cultures that call the Land of Enchantment home, this seems to be a strange and rather elitist move.

To quote Joe Monahan, this whole debacle “will surely be remembered as an example of the utter disconnect in our time between the elected and voting classes.”

It seems not really very fair, Oh Fair New Mexico.

(You’d think the guv, no stranger to a tortilla, might have more to say?)

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