How can you tell old school from the new

Image result for old school business meeting


This morning sitting at one of our favorite restaurants for breakfast we noticed in progress a business meeting taking place. At first, we thought that there were two distinct groups. One group consisted of older gentlemen with pads, pencils and pence, and an occasional manila folder.


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The second group was much younger and that had their fancy tablets and cellphones. The looked like a group of technicians working on a high tech project.

The first group finished their business first then started to leave. But before they left some of them joined the younger group to conclude their business session. First impressions don’t always work out.

And this days, we need old school to join the newbies to complete the team.


BTW, the photos are not those of the groups in attendance. It would be bad manners to have taken photo right there on the spot. Guess that I am old school in that way.

The Case For A Legal Pad

After spinning my wheels working for peanuts, I went out looking for another job. Over the years, I had some excellent tech experience under my belt. I worked for Farah in the electronic section of their research and development department. I learned a lot from my technical supervisor, and from department engineers. Applied what I learned on the field. They had enough confidence in my work that when I asked to be moved to San Antonio to be their technician for their factories in that area, they readily agreed. When a labor walkout took place, I was forced to learn how to use mechanic tools and fix sewing machines and related garment manufacturing equipment. That caused me to learn the mechanics job quickly. That experience helped to land the well-paying job at Azar Nut. But I had never had a resume! I was hired by just telling their human resource about my job experience.

Having heard that some electronic manufacturing company were coming to El Paso, I started to track them. One company that had some promise was Dale Electronics which was relocating one of their production lines from the Midwest. I began to check out their location, looking into windows and most likely making myself a nuisance to whoever was inside the building. Sure enough, after a while, this heavyset older guy came out and asked what I was doing. While gruff in demeanor, he was friendly enough to hear my story.  Told that I was looking for work in electronics, that I had experience and shared some of my backgrounds. Apparently, he was a gatekeeper for this company. What I mean is that he could filter who future employees would be. He opened the gate to meet the hiring engineering manager for their move to El Paso. Not long after this, I got to meet the person that was to play a significant role in my work with Dale Electronics at this location.

I had a long conversation with the manager at the end of which he asked for my resume. I had to explain the I had no formal resume. To tell the truth I had not resume whatsoever! I had notes but not much more than that. He handed me a large legal pad and asked me to take it home with me. He told me to write all that I could remember of my work experience and to bring it back when I was done.

That legal pad somehow helped me get one of the best jobs that I have ever had.

Pictures below is some of the work done at Dale Electronics.


More on my work with Dale Electronics on my next blog.

Working for peanuts

After working for eleven years for Farah Manufacturing, I sensed that things were getting worse by the day. The had invested heavily in purchasing mills to provide that cloth to make their leisure wear outfits. I don’t know if any of you are old enough to recall that trend. Farah thought that the direction would go on for a long time. The bottom had dropped out of that market, and leisure suits were no longer in vogue.

1970’s Rough Rider leisure suit Image result for leisure suit Larry

Much as I’d enjoyed working at Farah, I decided to start looking for other employment before I lost whatever vestment and 401k I had with the company! This is the first time I had ever turned to a temp company to find a job for me. Kelly Services got me started on my quest. Jobs in El Paso were scant. Whenever a position was advertised that paid a living wage, a queue of job seekers would line up all around the hiring site. Often it was a block long. My chances of ever getting to the front of this queue were nil. Besides that, I was still working. So that’s where Kelly Services came in. After all the preliminaries I was asked come in to meet with reps for a possible job. It was some maintenance job, so I was not all that interested. A second interview was scheduled with the maintenance supervisor, and that went well. Then the third one at their facility where I was introduced to a person that I would be working alongside. That went well too, and so I was offered the job.

I was not sure that I should take the job.  I started to drag my feet.  I wanted more money. That was approved! Kelly Services typically collected a fee, a percentage of what would be my first year of employment. I said that I was unwilling to pay it. I thought that this would be the game changer. And it was! Much to my surprise, the employer was willing to pay this fee! And so I went to work for Azar Nut Company.

That is why I said that I was working for peanuts.

Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts, 34.5 Ounce, 3 CountImage result for History of Azar Nut Company Image result for History of Azar Nut Company

Signs of the Time

Signs of the Time

It is a short blog but Gary’s standards, I am sure. But I love the positive tone and the photograph that goes with it.

That’s Mrs P, strutting her stuff in the mid 30s celsius midday sun at the observatory in Jaipur. Signs of the time indeed. Why did I not think of that title for a post before? I rather miss India. I enjoyed it. This may come as a little bit of a surprise to anyone who read my opinions of India shortly after the holiday. You’d expect me to add a caveat, at least. But no, I shan’t. Pick any point of my life, a high or a low point, and I have only fond memories. Positive recollections of people I’ve met, lessons I’ve learned. Happy memories of places I’ve been Nothing negative lingers in the soft grey matter betwixt my ears.

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Rise of the Machines

Rise of the Machines

Revolt of the machines. Wouldn’t it be nice if the robots could just do our work while idling away our hours waiting for our large government check? By the way, I am retired and so may not fit into the equation.

They’re after my jobs, the ba****ds. Not the eastern Europeans. Nor the Indians. Nor the growing population of Latin American emigres. Those guys, up there. The machines. The dreaded, job eating machines. They are the new competition. And they are tough. Relentless. Remorseless. It’s a new world, and they are determined to make it their world. We feeble humans are having to adapt in order to compete. The 21st century resume will need to be reworked if we are to stand a chance.

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Thinking about how I started on computers


What’s on my mind? Computers and the early days of how I found them so much fun. I started out early with these kinds of gadgets. But when I did, it was not some much with computers themselves but with secondary electronic circuits. After taking primary electrons and programming in night school, I started looking for a job where I could use what I’d learned. It seems like El Paso had none to offer, so I had pretty much made up my mind to move to California. But I found that the place where I was working had a research and development sectioned. So I found a way to get into their electronics lab. Much of work was tedious assembly work. The work circuits were straightforward labor-saving devices. The company was just starting in automation. These were more complicated pieces of equipment that required technicians that were better than just assembly people. That where I came in as I wrangled myself a way into doing troubleshooting. That is the short of it, but I’ll have more to say on that matter later.Much as I loved working with the guy at Farah’s R & D, I had to leave. The company had labor problems; legal squabbles amount its own family. And the union had been allowed to come in with a sweetheart contract with Farah! I had learned so much working with everyone there. It pains me now to see the vast complex that once existed become a shopping mecca. So I left with having a job waiting for me. I will tell you the story of working for peanuts next!
I recall that some of the work such as making wire harness was so dull that some of the workers would introduce problems so the technicians would have to spend time troubleshooting them! This silly messing with wire harnesses by my fellow workers makes we wonder if some wise guys programmers did not do something to into Alexa that causes them to laugh and make silly noises at random?

Three top engineers with doctorates in their fields and one savvy tech leader helped me develop my skills as industrial electronics tech that I go to travel to parts that I had never seen before. I got to ride in Farah private jets several times. So learning new tech skills got me places, San Antonio and Victoria, Texas, that I would never have been. That was an enjoyable experience.

Much as I loved working with the guy at Farah’s R & D, I had to leave. The company had labor problems; legal squabbles amount its own family. And the union had been allowed to come in with a sweetheart contract with Farah! I had learned so much working with everyone there. It pains me now to see the vast complex that once existed become a shopping mecca. So I left with having a job waiting for me. I will tell you the story of working for peanuts next!



Mr. President, Mexico Has Paid for Your Wall Many Times Over

Mr. President, Mexico Has Paid for Your Wall Many Times Over

US relations with Mexico are chilly these days, but what else is new? The US has abused its neighbor for most of two centuries, including one of the biggest land grabs in history.


02.09.18 10:43 PM ET


“I will build a great, great wall,” proclaimed Donald Trump, kicking off his presidential campaign on June 16, 2016, “on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

Almost two years later, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spilled the beans: The president was “uninformed” on border issues during the campaign.

Sadly, so are most Americans. As the recent government shutdown demonstrates, our southern border is at the heart of our national politics.

In 1893, at a meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago, a young professor named Frederick Jackson Turner presented perhaps the most widely discussed thesis ever written by an American academic: “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” In essence, Turner’s “frontier thesis” argued that “the meeting point between savagery and civilization” was the defining element of the American character.

“The universal disposition of Americans to immigrate,” Turner wrote, “to the western wilderness, in order to enlarge their dominion over inanimate nature, is the actual result of an expansive power which is inherent in them.” Turner was discussing America’s western frontier. He overlooked our other frontier, our ever changing border with Mexico.

With the U.S. acquisition of California after our war with Mexico (1846-1848), the western frontier came to a close, but the old problems that caused that war, including the earlier Texas War for Independence (1835-1836), a conflict very much fueled by the U.S. over former Americans living in Mexico, the old problems which caused those wars and the new ones created by them are still with us.

The first three generations of Americans saw our southern border as amorphous, something to be shaped and expanded by the tide of Manifest Destiny, a term coined by an otherwise undistinguished newspaper editor named John O’Sullivan in the July-August 1845 issue of the Democratic Review, which called for the annexation of Texas.
A passage in Colson Whitehead’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Underground Railroad, sums up the true meaning of the term: A slave catcher says, “We come up with all sorts of fancy talk to hide things. Like in the newspapers nowadays, all the smart men talking about Manifest Destiny. Like it’s a new idea … It means taking back what is yours, your property, whatever you deem it to be. And everyone else taking their assigned places to allow you to take it. Whether it’s red man or Africans giving up themselves, giving of themselves, so that we can have what’s rightfully ours. The French setting aside their territorial claims. The British and the Spanish slinking away.”

“Our destiny,” he sums up, “by divine prescription—the American imperative.”

The idea of Manifest Destiny had been on American minds from the time Englishmen landed on this continent (a continent where, lest we forget, Spanish was spoken before English). As Felipe Fernandez-Armesto put it in Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States(2014), they “were not, of course, pilgrims but migrants, like the wetbacks from across the Rio Grande who are their real successors today.”

The seeds for problems with our southern neighbor were planted as early as 1803 whenThomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase, and U.S. politicians began casting covetous eyes beyond Louisiana to Mexican territory. That Americans have never been averse to the idea of illegal immigration when it served their purposes was stated clearly by Jefferson, who wrote in a letter to a political ally that American immigrants to French and Spanish territory “could be the means of delivering to us peaceably what may otherwise cost us a war.” Jefferson was right about illegal immigrants as a means of delivering foreign territory, but wrong that it would not cost us a war.

The war that many American politicians wanted began October 2, 1835, when a few thousand American immigrants to Texas—Tejas—rebelled against the dictatorship of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna flagrantly ignored treaties and denied human rights, but according to Fernandez-Armesto, “The chief cause of conflict between settlers and the Mexican government was black slavery, which the Mexicans abhorred despite their own predilection for impressing Indians into the army. Mexico freed its slaves in the liberal glow of independence [from Spain]. The laws of 1821 decreed that slaves automatically became free when they stepped on Mexican soil.” Many Texans of American origin “lived in constant fear that anti-slavery laws would be enforced.”



Americans, despite the protest of the Mexican government, brought slavery to Texas, eventually turning it into a Confederate state. This fact has been ignored in much of American history and all of Hollywood. John Wayne’s ponderous epic, The Alamo, includes a ludicrous scene in which a slave, after being freed, chooses to remain in the fort and dies protecting his former master, Richard Widmark’s Jim Bowie.

Wayne, nailed by Garry Wills as “manifest destiny on the hoof,” did a great deal of historical damage in creating the popular image by which we remember the Alamo and the Texas War for Independence. In The Alamo, Wayne’s Davy Crockett leads a band of Tennesseans to Texas to aid the Tejanos in their fight for freedom. His rationale for jumping into the fray: “A fella who gores someone else’s ox”—the fella being Santa Anna—“may just decide to come and gore your ox.” (The real Crockett went to Texas from Tennessee to revive his flagging political fortunes after losing his congressional seat.)

Wayne’s folksy ox-goring analogy is historical nonsense. Since Texas was part of Mexico, Santa Anna, who flagrantly ignored treaties and denied human rights, wasn’t goring anyone’s ox but his own people’s, and that was hardly the business of any American.

“In America’s collective memory, our southern border is shrouded in a kind of haze. Most Americans aren’t even sure which states lie along our Mexican border.”

The Texas Revolution, remembered for the siege of the Alamo, ended with the battle of San Jacinto in 1836, but it was just a warmup for what may well have been the most important war in American history.

Less than a year after O’Sullivan declared America’s Manifest Destiny, President James K. Polk and a great many other Americans got their wish for the acquisition of Texas and a whole lot more. The Mexican government had never accepted Texas as an independent republic, and on April 12, 1846, just north of the Rio Grande, Mexican troops ambushed a company of American soldiers, killing and wounding 16.

Polk sent troops to protect Texas’s “sovereignty.” Of course, the president wanted to annex Texas as an American territory and insisted that the border with Mexico was the Rio Grande, though in fact the border was at the Neuces River, 130 miles farther north. The new border Polk wanted nearly doubled the size of Texas, soon to be part of the United States.

Mr. Polk’s War, as it came to be called, was settled by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and cost the U.S. a mere $15 million plus $3.5 million in Mexican debts owed to American citizens that were graciously assumed by the U.S. government. The government thought it a small price to pay for the 13,000-plus American soldiers killed in battle and by disease, making the U.S.-Mexican War the deadliest of all American wars in proportion to the numbers involved.

The conflict was, in the words of historian Ron Chernow in his recent biography of Ulysses S. Grant, “A huge bonanza for the United States. It expanded American territory by nearly a quarter, forcing Mexico to shed half its territory. The United States gained Texas with a crucial Rio Grande boundary as well as New Mexico and California—territories encompassing the current states of California, Nevada, and Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado.”

“The Mexican war,” wrote Grant, one of its reluctant participants, “was a political war, and the administration conducting it desired to make party capital out of it.”

Grant was far from the only American who opposed the invasion of Mexico. Two others—one past, John Quincy Adams, and one future, Abraham Lincoln—spoke out against it, as did future Senator Charles Sumner, a decorated captain named Robert E. Lee, and many public intellectuals, including Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. There was nearly as much opposition to the Mexican War as there was to the war in Vietnam in the ’70s. If our history does not remember it that way, it’s because the U.S. won the Mexican War and by right of conquest, vast new territories.

With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the process of Manifest Destiny seemed complete. The windfall of new riches, though, couldn’t eradicate for many the stigma associated with the war. “I’m always ashamed of my country,” Grant would later write in his memoirs, “when I think of that invasion.” And the price paid for it would prove to be far greater than 13,000 men and $18.5 million dollars. Both Grant and Lincoln came to believe that the Civil War was the result of the factional fight between Northern and Southern states for the new territories carved out of Old Mexico. Chernow writes that Lincoln thought Polk was “deeply conscious of being in the wrong … He feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to heaven against him.”

Polk didn’t live to see the extent of the destruction he had helped bring on. He barely survived the war so many named for him, dying less than a year after the treaty with Mexico. But to many millions of Mexicans, the humiliation of American conquest survives, particularly those whose ancestors were born north of the border. “We didn’t cross the border,” an old saying goes, “the border crossed us.”

In America’s collective memory, our southern border is shrouded in a kind of haze. So far, no one can identify the line where Trump’s wall is supposed to be built—is the wall to be built on the American side of the border, shutting us off from the Rio Grande River, or on the Mexican side, shutting them off from the river, or down the middle of the river itself? Most Americans aren’t even sure which states lie along our Mexican border.

Many Americans probably assume that the border is something which Mexicans aren’t legally allowed to cross while some Americans—for instance, John Wayne—may cross the other way with impunity.

Near the beginning of what is regarded by many as the greatest of all westerns, Howard Hawks’ Red River, Wayne’s Tom Dunson is on a wagon train moving west. Looking to stake a claim, he breaks off to the south near the Red River in north Texas.

Dunson, his hand Groot (played by Walter Brennan), and a boy named Matt Garth, (who will grow up to be Montgomery Clift and fight in the Confederate Army) find a spot they want to settle and raise cattle. “Good grass, good water, and plenty of it,” as Dunson says. But a caballero rides up from the south and tells them that they cannot stay because they are trespassing on “Don Diego’s land.”

“All of this is Don Diego’s land?” Dunson asks.

“Si, senor,” the Mexican replies.

“That’s too much land for one man,” spouts the grizzled Groot (a bad attitude for a free market Republican, but let that pass). It comes down to a gun fight; Dunson kills Don Diego’s man, and, for some unspecified reason, this makes the land Dunson’s. The film never questions the right of Wayne’s character—the American—to kill a Mexican or to take the land. The land is Dunson’s by right of Manifest Destiny. The scene is both racially offensive and a historical abomination.

After Texas won its independence, most big Mexican land owners were either dead or left Texas for Mexico. In other words, there would have been no Don Diego to steal the land from: Tejas had already been stolen by illegal aliens.

For the better part of the next two centuries, it’s often been difficult to tell exactly who the illegal aliens have been. In the 1870s and 1880s, there was widespread smuggling and cattle theft by Mexicans and Americans across the borders from Texas to Arizona. But on the Arizona border, at least, the problem of cattle theft and the killing which invariably accompanied it involved American “cow boys” crossing into Mexico, if only because that’s where most of the cattle were. In the late 1870s the problem became so pervasive the Mexican government threatened war over what it called “Cowboy Depredations.” In Tombstone, U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp asked in vain for federal help to stem widespread theft and murder.

That scale of violence, though, paled in comparison with that of the so-called “Bandit Wars” which, between 1910 and 1920, cost the lives of hundreds of Mexican Americans. The ostensible cause for the ferocity were raids by Mexican rebels into Texas, which were intended by extremists to reclaim for Mexico land in two Texas counties whose inhabitants were almost exclusively of Mexican descent. But the root of the problem began earlier, around the turn of the century, when nearly 190,000 acres of land was taken from Tejanos by means legal and illegal and given to Anglos.

Some of the hostility was, as war loomed in Europe, the result of white Texans’ fear that Mexico would ally itself with Germany and invade the U.S., but most of it was the result of blatant racism. Entire populations of towns along the border fled into Mexico, and those who remained were often harassed and persecuted by Texas Rangers, law men, and even regular U.S. Army troops. Typical was the infamous 1918 murder of 15 Tejanos in the village of Porvenir in west Texas. The atrocity was supposedly to revenge a raid on a nearby Anglo ranch, but no evidence of the villagers’ complicity was ever discovered. If there is little memory of the incident, it is largely because the surviving villagers fled in terror to Mexico.

In a celebrated piece in The Guardian in October 2000, British journalist Duncan Campbell interviewed a man named Roger Barnett, who lived in Arizona just north of the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. In his spare time, Barnett organized white Arizonians into what he called “wetback hunting parties.” Barnett and his followers put up billboards which read “Stop The Invasion.”

“Where a native population,” Barnett told Campbell, “has been diluted by invaders it turns into a blood bath. We abhor violence, but we realize that people have the God-given right to defend their selves.”

Roger Barnett didn’t stop at the idea that white people should be able to shoot at brown people crossing the border; he actually suggested that the U.S. would be justified in invading Mexico: “There’s a lot of mines and great beaches there, there’s farming and resources, think of what the United States could do there—gee whiz, they wouldn’t have to come up here anymore.”

Yes, just think. Barnett and his followers seemed blissfully unaware that native populations had long ago been “diluted” by invaders and the invaders looked like him … and that this was the reason that he grew up in Arizona in the first place.

Make Mexico pay for the wall? Mexico has already paid for that wall many times over.