Executive Summary

We are well, the USA didn't turn to the dark side, and we have a new baby

The long version

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Dear Friends,

2012 was another good year, the first in quite a few that neither of us had an overnight stay in a hospital. We had some nice visitors, lost a loved one but gained another, and are in the process of minimizing stress and maximizing tranquility.

Nadine and Henry at Number Four on New Years Eve Just like last year, we went to the wonderful Number 4 restaurant in Ajijic for New Years Eve. Every time we go there to eat, we are not disappointed. This year we took almost any excuse to go, and even asked Kim to cater Nadine's jewelry party. New Year's Eve at number four has become a family tradition now, and I'm sure we'll be back this year.
Our friends Susana and Eliberto Velazquez We always like to see our friends Eliberto and Susana, who are also our attorneys here in Chapala. This year we introduced them to our favorite veterinarian and his future bride, Hector and Beatrice. This year we ask them to look into what it would take for us to become real Mexicans. While investigating, they discovered that Mexico does not recognize our Jamaican marriage certificate. (Nooo, maaaan!) For some reason, the xerox copy of a xerox copy, of the eighth generation xerox copy of the form, signed by some random minister with no official looking seal was fine for the USA, but wouldn't pass muster in Mexico. So after twenty one years of marriage, we are getting remarried. The first order of business was to schedule our honeymoon vacation, of course. We have now had our mandatory counseling session with DIF, and our blood test which fortunately proved we had no sexually transmitted diseases, and our blood types were compatible for popping out children right and left. Unfortunately, that might take some time since Henry had a vasectomy and Nadine a hysterectomy, but as far as our blood is concerned, we're ready to go.
Nadine and Henry at Nanette's garden restaraunt, drinking the delicious green slime We usually take several days to celebrate and mourn Nadine's birthday. Here we are getting an early start two days before the blessed event at Nanette's Garden restaurant, one of our favorite little hideaways. The green slime we are drinking is actually a delicious minty concoction found nowhere else. On the actual day, we went to our favorite place for breakfast, Mama's restaurant, just down the hill from our house. Mary makes the best bran muffins, sticky buns, and omelets around, and we are very lucky that she is within walking distance.
Nadine, Henry, and Chrissy at Real del Chapala Hotel One of our achievements this year was to convince our friend Chrissy to leave Mazatlan and move to Ajijic. We have known her and her family for almost twenty years, and knew instinctively that she would be better off here than in Mazatlan. Moving was a big deal for her. She had to close down her hair salon, sell her house, move her stuff and her kids, and find a new job here in Ajijic. Fortunately, we were able to find a good job for her at the upscale Gloriosa salon. Also she found a wonderful house for herself in La Floresta which cost exactly what she received for her house in Mazatlan. We celebrated her arrival with a nice breakfast at the Hotel Real de Chapala, one of the nicest hotels in the area that is situated right on the lake.

Now, "Who is that ravishing redhead?" you may be asking. That is my sweet baboo, Nadine, who (with my encouragement) thought she would try it out. I've always thought, as a group, redheads are either the prettiest or the homeliest people.
Nadine and Louis at the Science Fair This year a science fair committee was formed to encourage local kids to enter the Guadalajara regional science fair. About five or six schools showed up with their projects. There were a bunch of bio gas generators, some robots, some solar energy projects, and a lot of enthusiasm. The photo here is in the hall where the kids were gathering for the awards ceremony. In true far-sighted fashion, after a very successful local expo, the sponsors withdrew their support.
Juan Antonio, Nadine, and Henry at the Early Bird Cafe in Ajijic One of our favorite people in one of our favorite places. Our friend Juan Antonio came down from Mazatlan for a visit on our wedding anniversary this year, and we took him out for a tasty treat, a Reuben sandwich with fries and a root beer at the Early Bird Cafe. If you like Reubens, the time to go is on Thursday, when they are on special. As you can see here, Nadine is fading back to blonde. There goes my Rita Hayworth fantasy.
Chance, Nadine, and Henry at Bruno's restaurant About a week later we got a visit from our nephew Chance Wilk, who was about to go into the marines. To help fortify him before his future diet of MREs, we took him to Bruno's restaurant, where he managed to devour half a cow.

Earlier this year we also had a visit from our Reno friends and neighbors, Mike and Barbara Heffner. They are the thing we miss the most about Reno, and our hope is that once they give up skiing, they will spend (some of) their winters down here. We had game night every evening during their visit, and Mike and I kept up our winning record in Catch Phrase, despite Barbara's inability to sit still while dispensing clues.
The last photo of our beloved Belle. This is the last photo of our beloved Italian greyhound, Belle. It was taken the night before we took her to the vet and had her go to the great big dog park in the sky. We still cry whenever we think of it. Belle had a lot of trouble breathing in the last days of her life, and was gasping and coughing continually this day. We decided that night to bring her to Hector the next day so she could stop struggling. We brought her home afterwards so Venus could see that her sister wasn't going to be cleaning her ears anymore. A very sad day for the Laxen family. Belle was everyone's mama dog. Whenever Aphrodite sneezed, Adonis whimpered, or Venus barked, she would go over and check them out to make sure they were okay. She loved everyone and was loved by all. Even now, her ashes are in the garden, helping the roses grow.
Nadine and Henry on his birthday, at Number 4 It is hard for me to believe, but I turned 58 this year. That's 406 in dog years! Personally, I don't think I look much over 375. So what is 58 like? It is a lot harder to lose weight, remember things, sleep through the night, and hold the urge to pee. I find myself actually tempted to read the emails whose subject is "Join the stallion battalion." I've also noticed that over the years the springs in the scale are slowly decaying, resulting in ever increasing numbers being displayed because of the increasing displacement they register. Nadine says to look on the bright side. I still have my teeth, some hair, and her to snuggle with.

This year, as every year since moving to Lake Chapala, we went to Number 4 to indulge in yet another round of overeating. Everything there is just too good not to try it.
Bob and Henry hanging out on the patio This year, I got a special treat with the visit of Bob Bernhardt, my friend since 1969, when we were in ninth grade together. We did our usual stuff, played tennis, exercised our biceps by lifting lubricating libations, and just hung out enjoying each others company. This was Bob's first visit to Lake Chapala, and I hope he comes back soon.
Henry and Athena, relaxing in the living room Here I am with my new best friend, Athena, shortly after she arrived. She was born in March 2012, and is about four months old in this photo. We decided to clip her ears because she is supposed to look like a fierce protector, instead of the sweet little girl she is really. An intruder would only be in danger from her if he were composed of salt or sugar, for then her constant licking would eventually cause him to dissolve. However, her bark can be heard a block away, and she looks the part of fearsome, so hopefully the guy will decide the folks next door, or down the block, will be easier pickings.

We actually got a great deal on Athena, for we got two dogs in one. In the morning she is Scooby Doo, running around, stirring up trouble, bothering all the other dogs, and helping herself to a banquet of Nadine's favorite shoes and jackets. Then after a long walk, an hour at the dog park, and another long walk, she is Fred Basset, lounging around the house and sleeping.
Nadine, Carolyn, and Cindy, childhood friends 40 years later At the end of July, we took our trip to the USA. We started with Nadine's 40th high school reunion. Pictured here are Nadine, Carolyn, and Cindy, childhood friends 40 years later. Cindy's daughter, Samantha, now works for Carolyn in an eating disorder counseling center. Nadine and Cindy had a great time reconnecting with old friends and enemies. The setup included a display of famous TV programs from the 60's and 70's, so I entertained myself by getting reacquainted with Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. If you don't know who they are, you are either too young, (Sammy) or from Russia, (Alex) or both. The program included a performance by a former member of Iron Butterfly, who performed In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, proving once again that louder does not equal better. In high school, dancing with your favorite girl to that song was effortless, but now, forty years later, there were two cardiac events and three cases of exhaustion by the oldies but goodies who attempted to make it through the 17 minute song. (Just kidding.)
Mary, Lynne, Nadine and Mr. Cuddles While in Simi Valley, of course we visited Nadine's mom, Mary. Here she is with cousin Lynne and Nadine, and not to be ignored Mr. Cuddles, who helped Samantha survive her UCSD ordeal. The first night after we arrived we partied hardy at Cindy's house, were we had Christmas in July. That included too much food, too much wine, and too much chocolate.
The Reno gang, having dinner at Mike and Barbara's house Our next stop in our USA tour was Reno, where our friends and neighbors, Mike and Barbara, gathered up all of our friends and neighbors for a delicious dinner at their house. We also had the pleasure of staying in their downstairs starlit guest bedroom. They always make us feel special when we visit, even during our weekly game nights when we lived next door.
Dinner at Number 4 with Chrissy and her daughter Dania Once we got back to Chapala, we celebrated our friend (for almost twenty years) Chrissy's arrival in the Lake Chapala area. Sitting next to Chrissy is her daughter, Dania, who I call movie star beautiful, for I have never met anyone (other than Nadine of course) who is as physically beautiful as Dania. We've know Dania since she was a little girl, and the rest of Chrissy's children since before they were born. We are so delighted to have Chrissy in our neighborhood again. Now we need to work on Jack and Val.
The San Antonio Dog Park, which helps us keep our sanity since we've acquired Athena One of our great discoveries since bringing Athena into our lives is the local dog park. Without it, she would be Scooby Doo all day long, and Nadine and I would either be a lot skinnier, or totally miserable, probably the latter. Thanks to the park, she can run, jump, make all the other dogs miserable (just kidding, (partially, (notice the mathematically correct nesting))) and drain a lot of her energy. Another nice thing about the park is that we get to meet a lot of dog people, who in general happen to be nice people. Also I used this opportunity to keep my Haskell skills tuned up, by writing an app that lets people tell others whether or not they are coming to the dog park that day. I have to say I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
A view of our house, from the back yard. This is a small panorama of our house taken from the gazebo in the back yard. This is really where we spend most of our time, enjoying the view, sipping a glass of wine, and trying to avoid Athena sticking her cold wet nose in our crotch. If you click on the photo, you'll get a 360 degree view of our house and garden.

I am writing this paragraph on December 15th, 2012, the day after 20 children were murdered in Connecticut. How much worse does it have to get before we do something about guns? I'm sure the gun nuts will say that we should arm the kindergarten kids and then teach them to shoot. "That way, if our kids are packin, they can just 'blow away' a guy like Adam Lanza if he comes a callin." I have a simpler solution that I think would work much better. Anyone caught in possession of a firearm, any firearm, does a year in prison. Would it really be so bad if we made the killing of animals and people a little less convenient? I don't think Mr. Lanza could have done that kind of damage had he been armed with a knife, spear, or bow and arrow.

Okay, while I'm living in Fantasy Land, I feel I need to say a few words about the election 2012. First I am disappointed in President Obama. He has not shut down the gulag known as Guantanamo, and its indefinite detentions without trial. He has not pulled away from the making the USA a surveillance state. Right now the NSA is reading this web page to decide whether or not I am a terrorist. Every email you have ever sent, every phone call you have ever made, every web page you have ever visited, is archived somewhere. If the government decides to take a closer look at you, it is all there waiting to be picked apart. Could you survive that kind of scrutiny? I know I couldn't. The list goes on, but I'll add that President Obama missed the opportunity to reel in the financial industry. With all of the fraud and bad faith dealings that led to the financial meltdown, why aren't hundreds, if not thousands, of Wall street executives doing hard time? Why aren't regulations in place to make *)^$# sure this can't happen again?

On the other hand, at least we avoided the bullet known as Mitt Romney. I really have no idea what he actually stands for, which to me is much more frightening than supporting some crazy religious nut. At least then you know where you stand.

Which I guess brings me around to religion, everyone's favorite topic after politics. Personally, I see religion, and "faith" in general, as the root of all evil. It belongs back in the stone age, where it was created as a way to control people. These days, with the invention of things like science, physics, mathematics, and philosophy, I continue to hope that people will eventually come to think for themselves. Question Everything! Question your leaders, question your beliefs, question any authority figure. Just because they say something, doesn't mean it's true. For me, the end of my Catholicism happened in third grade catechism. I asked a question, and I can't say I remember what the question was, but I remember the answer I received. The teacher replied, "You're not allowed to ask that question." Well, that was the end of religion for me. If anyone ever tells you that there is some knowledge that is unknowable, some mystery that is impenetrable, some forbidden fruit in some tree somewhere, I am here to tell you that they are full of shit. And that's the truth.

Okay, Nadine told me I can't leave this letter on such a nasty note. I think I'm still angry about the kids in Connecticut. So perhaps I will close by mentioning some of the things I am thankful for. First and foremost, I'm thankful for having visited Club Med in May of 1990, which is where I met my sweet baboo, Nadine. Life is really chaotic (in the mathematical sense) for had I traveled there a week earlier, or a week later, our paths would have never crossed. Next I'm thankful for the invention of the Forth programming language, for without it I would never have met Alex Lushtak, my best friend and business partner, whom I trust with my life. Next, I am thankful to my mom, who told me as I started first grade that I could not go outside and play until I finished my homework. She taught me to "keep my butt in the chair," a skill which is very difficult to learn, and probably even more difficult in todays fiber connected, wireless, iPhone world. And last and least, I really should give myself some credit. While I am no more deserving of the wonderful life that has been given me than anyone else, I do try to do the right thing, be good to others, see the other point of view, and follow the golden rule. I think if more people behaved like that, the world would be a better place. Finally, I thank you, gentle reader, for taking the time to read all of this dribble.

Quote of the day:
Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
Franklin P. Jones

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