Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Illegal immigration in Texas, 1819

After 1803, two groups of Americans migrated into Spanish Texas. Legal immigrants received land through grants from Mexican officials. Illegal squatters simply crossed the border and found good farmland

Looting and small insurrections in 1818 and 1819, led by Americans James Long and the pirate Jean Lafitte, alarmed the Mexican government. The Mexican army drove American settlers back across the border into Louisiana, successfully removing 20% of Texas's total non-Indian population.

Mexican authorities overlooked that its towns were dependent on the immigrant farmers it removed. After the deportation, San Antonio and east Texas faced several years of food shortages.

I find it ironic that the situation is exactly reversed today. 12 million illegal immigrants are integrated into our economy, 8 million of them as workers. Pro-immigration advocates argue that many agriculture and food processing enterprises depend heavily on these workers. Some fruit growers in California are already feeling the impact of crackdowns on illegal immigrants, unable to harvest some of their crop.

Immigration foes point to the crimes of a segment of today's immigrants, just as the Mexican government pointed to the insurrection of Long and Lafitte 190 years ago.

I don't know what to do with illegal immigrants, or whether a guest worker program makes sense. I just found the parallels from 190 years ago to be interesting.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Diabetes gonna kill me? No damn way!

Two years ago my doctor told me I was diabetic. That's a scary thing. My first thought was about how much my dad suffered, as first his eyesight failed, then his kidneys, and finally his heart. I'll admit I'm afraid of dying at 65, as he did.

My second thought, though, was about all the money J. and I have been saving for 25 years. We've built up a nice nest egg with IRA's and 401K's. I'll be damned if I'm going to die young and let her be a rich widow for 25 years! Spending my retirement money on some young stud!

Now, when I go to the kitchen for a snack, I first close my eyes. I can see this Fabio dude sitting in my big leather chair at Christmas time. He's opening the gift box my smiling wife just gave him, and taking out a Rolex watch.

Hell no! No Fabio is getting a gold watch in my house! Forget the snack!

When I pass a Mexican restaurant, luring me with burritos and quesadillas laden with fat grams. I close my eyes briefly. And there's Fabio again, walking across my driveway to his shiny red sports car.

Not gonna happen! No funds for Fabio's Ferrari! Begone burritos!.

Those mental images have saved me. Over two years I've lost 35 pounds. My doctor tells me I'm going to live a long life. My wife can dream all she wants about Fabio, but when she opens her eyes, it's still going to be my old body beside her. Screw diabetes!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grownup golf

Sunshine and 50 degrees today in north Texas, so I headed for the golf course. Only a few brave souls on the course, so I joined up with strangers. Dan, 51, is a pilot for an international airline. Bob, 60, was just laid off after 20 years from his corporate sales job, and worried about job prospects for a senior.

As we talked, I found Bob to be a decent guy. I wondered if I knew someone who could help him. Maybe I could arrange a golf match with the one of the sales executives in my neighborhood. Or perhaps with that company president in my Saturday golf league.

Bob spoiled it for me on the 12th hole. Unable to escape a steep sand trap, he threw his sand wedge far into the greenside pond. I couldn’t believe it! It was a new wedge, one I’d seen priced at $140 in a golf shop. Who throws away $140? Certainly no one I’m going to recommend to my friends.

Dan joked later about how Bob has done that a few times over the years. So Bob’s outburst didn’t seem related to his recent layoff.

Am I expecting too much? that fellow golfers not have temper tantrums? I make allowances for the high school kids I meet on the course from time to time. But shouldn’t a grandpa have learned a little self control?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Austin, my beagle, loves me

I learned this morning how strong are my little dog's feelings for me. For twenty minutes after my wife left for work, Austin could not keep his adoring eyes off me.

As I shaved, he lay on a nearby rug, patiently watching every flick of my razor Austin followed me to the closet, soulful gaze affixed as I selected and ironed my shirt. Needing neither praise nor a pat on the head, he remained comforted by my mere presence.

How did I deserve such devotion? How can another species come to love a human so much? that his only desire is to sit and worship my existence?

Austin patiently watched as I brushed my teeth, even closer to my feet than before. As I turned on the shower, and slipped off my boxers, his gaze never left me.

As the shower door closed behind me, a glass barrier now separating master from beast, I turned to catch one more glimpse of my adoring pet. At just that instant, Austin leaped from the rug and sped to the kitchen. His fifteen minute excavation of the garbage can was uninterrupted, his patience finally rewarded.

A great man

My sister's husband died last year after a serious car wreck He was comatose the last ten days of his life. I was never able to thank Mark for being so devoted to my sister, and for being a strong and caring father to their kids.

Life seemed ominous at the start of their marriage. Both were teenagers. Neither had steady jobs. Mark earned minimum wage repairing shoes part time. Denise raised their new boy in a tiny mobile home. Relatives helped from time to time, buying groceries and dropping off other necessities. Mark and Denise struggled, but their love for each other carried them through.

After years of low-paying work, Mark landed a job with an oil company. He slowly proved his worth. Armed with only a high school GED and his own abilities, Mark rose from oil rig roustabout to mid-level executive by age 48. Undaunted by lack of formal education, he studied business and economics textbooks at home at night. Mark was truly a self-made man.

Last June, Mark and Denise were poised to move to Russia. Mark was to take over all human resources for the company's Russian operations.

And then he ran over an embankment on a rural road, and the unfulfilled dreams of Mark and my sister Denise were over. But they did have thirty wonderful years together, and raised two fine sons to carry on Mark's name.

I'm not sure if blogs can reach all the way to heaven, but just in case: Thank you, Mark