Oooh I love this discussion of Susan Boyle and should she get a makeover. I say yes, she’s going perform on stage, and people want to see your eyes. But that’s not the biggest reason I want her to have a makeover.

I want her to have a full makeover (no surgery or shots) so people can be fully aware of just how much finesse, illusion, even, goes into what people think is beautiful. Call me shallow. I say polish her up.

What I didn’t notice

Well maybe better said, What I didn’t notice immediately.  The most obvious was that she was probably trying to sell me  on joining this new venture.  Imagine how quick her turn-around would be if she went right home and started making calls to people she knew, right?

The inner me is still not sure that’s what was happening, but the reasonable me has decided that the inner me is an idiot.  But not That much of an idiot.  I guess my suggesting what she had just bought into was quite likely a scam of some sort was tantamount to a pretty firm, “No, Thank you.”

She’s excited.  She’s so excited.  She and her husband live comfortably, not luxuriously.  They have lots of dogs they support, but no kids and no mortgage.  He works nights, I can imagine they’d love to find something a little less draining than that with which to support themselves. Apparently this deal has two ways of producing income: first is you sell memberships to other people, secondly, the Company has some sort of agreement with big, reputable companies, to… To what?  I still don’t understand what they do.

She said she didn’t understand really either, but it involved third parties who did bill processing and credit card applications for companies like Best Buy, Dish Network, GE Security.  It even involves taking current companies she might already work with (like cell phone companies, or cable companies- neither of which she uses) and running your account through the Company.  That way, every month some money from her monthly bill would actually go back to her.

So it must be that her opportunity for income growth is if she can convince lots of people to agree to run their current bills through XXX Company, and then a portion of their bills will go to her as well.  They call that “Residuals”. If you get enough of those, you can be independently wealthy, and move up the rankings in the Company.  I don’t quite understand what moving up the ranks does, but it seems to involve a Lexus.

We got off the phone agreeing that we’d both go and do more research and we’d touch base in a day or so.   As near as I can tell, this is a scam, but it’s legal.  They sell the opportunity to sell products which a person could sell without the Company being the middle man.  What the Company has, is a great polished looking website (although the phone number is never answered and the only thing one can buy on the website is merchandise with the Company logo on it), hope, and a subtle us/them attitude.  Us is (with some exceptions) Christian, working-class men and women.  Them is poor, lazy, uninspired or cynical people who don’t believe in anything (much less their dreams) and are afraid to ‘think outside the box’.

So hope and gullibility are two aspects necessary for this thing to fly, the third is self-doubt.  I frequently don’t understand things.  But if I ask a few questions and I pay attention, I can understand almost any business model or philosophy.  My adult self knows this, but my inner child self secretly is embarrassed to say when I don’t understand something.  This happens to many people, I think.  I know when I asked Honey about it, she repeatedly said she didn’t really understand it, but that she’d be learning more.

My philosophy really is, if you can’t explain it to someone else, you don’t understand it.  If someone wants you to get involved in something you don’t understand, they are trying to scam you.

I’m thinking about calling her back and asking more questions to see if I can get a better handle on what the hell makes her want to do this.  I’m thinking about calling the Company to see what they hell they SAY they sell.  How can a website not give the user any idea of what in god’s name their business is?  It’s weird, I keep thinking I  must be missing something.  It’s like eating styrofoam.  There seems to be structure there, it’s even a little crunchy, but something really important seems to be missing…

One cool thing is that if I publish the company name, my readership will spike and tons of people will come on and call me a DreamKiller and rant about how ignorant I am.  I’m thinking about it, but I don’t want any trouble to come to Honey.

Weird Things

There are lots of things people believe which I cannot make myself believe.  I only rarely try to make people unbelieve.  Religion, for example I don’t mess with usually because it’s important to so many people, and just like proselytizing, anti-proselytizing makes you seem like a jerk.  It would get way too exhausting.

On the other hand, there are times when I try really hard to convince someone of my point of view, when I cannot do so.  I had one of those this week when my tenant called me out of the blue.  She and her husband are darlings.  I love having them for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they always pay the rent early and she always includes a hand written letter with the check.  These letters are pleasant and informative, if a bit weird.  She tells me about the wildlife they’ve seen this month, neighborhood activities and how their life is going in general.  They’re usually about a page or two long, and generously sprinkled with happy-faces, hearts and exclamation points.

Honey (not too far from her actual name) called just to let me know about a program she and her husband had gotten involved in.  The description was a bit fuzzy to me, but I never claimed to be a genius.  She talked about paying 300 dollars to buy into the program, and that if she sells 3 memberships, she’ll make her money back.  Everything after the first three is pure profit.  I said I didn’t understand what she would be selling memberships in, was it a discount club?  Was it an investment club?  She said she didn’t understand exactly how it worked, but she was going to a meeting where they would explain it all to her.

From the get-go it sounded like a pyramid scheme, aka a multi-level marketing scheme, aka a Ponzi scheme… It sounded to me like a text-book scam.  I told her this.  She laughed and said she still had a number of questions about it and she’d be checking it all out.  While I was talking with her, I plugged the name she gave me into google.  It popped up with lots and lots of hits.  33 thousand hits.  A fair number of them were alerts from  people saying the company was a scam.

Didn’t sound like a good deal to me.  I like Honey, so I told her I had done a quick google search on(XXXX) (the company she was joining), and it didn’t look reputable.  She was a little taken aback, but soldiered on, talking about how nice the people were, how they went out of their way to help her out, although they wouldn’t get any proffit from her.  I asked her the key question one needs to ask in a situation like this, “Honey, is there anything I could tell you that would convince you this wasn’t a good idea? ”  Her heart was already set on this path.  I could tell.  I should have let it go.

I got off the phone, promising to look into it further, and extracting from her a promise that she would as well.  Why did I do that?  I was only going to be convinced I was right, and she was only going to be convinced that she was right.

Tomorow, I will tell more of what I found, if you’re interested.

Guadalajara, Day 5

Ok, lets go over the things I like about this place and the things I don’t like.


  • Truckloads of fruit coming to the market every day: oranges and pineapples by the truckoad, and fruit trees growing on every street.
  • Bats drinking out of the pool at Las Sabilas.
  • Birds drinking out of the pool: at dusk, the bats would start to fly around and eat mosquitos.  Sometimes they’d detour on their fly-bys and dip into the pool for a drink and leave a little ripple.
  • Street food vendors
  • 50 cent beers for the locals
  • Flowers that change color during the day
  • brown-eyed babies, curvy Mexicanas and bedroom-eyed Mexicanos
  • Jasper swimming in the pool
  • chilaquiles: Jasper’s favorite breakfast food in Mexico.  Deep-fried tortilla strips in chile sauce, sprinkled with cheese.  Served with tortillas and frijoles.  Tastes a lot like chilli-cheese freetos.  A lttle heavy for my tastes at breakfast.
  • carne de cerdo en chile: Pork swimming in a red-chile tomatillo sauce which was out of the world.  We had nary a bite of cumin in our travels for those of you who object to it.
  • jugo de naranja: fresh orange juice
  • jugo de piña: fresh pineapple juice
  • aguas frescas: Lime, or orange, or rice, or tamarind, or  grapefruit or other random ‘ades’  with spices or not.  Quite refreshing  in the hot sun.
  • gorditaas con carnitas y salsa verde: street vendor selling hand-made tortillas grilled to melt the cheese with meat and tomatillo salsa.  The cheese and tortilla were browned and nothing less than heavenly.

Don’t like:

  • Not being able to throw the toilet paper in the toilet, instead having to throw it into the trash after using it: Mexican plumbing can’t handle toilet paper.   There are some habits which are very ingrained.  Toilet habits rank among those.
  • Buses and trucks driving on side-streets: buses and trucks make loud, loud noises.  When they drive past you on a side street, or hit the air breaks, it can be very jarring.  More than once Jasper jumped and covered his ears.
  • not knowing the tip protocol: according to my sources, one should tip a waitress, and the person who cleans one’s room.   But the taxi-driver does not expect to be tipped.  It’s really a hard situation when you just don’t know what’s polite.
  • itchy spots from the sun: our swarthy guide didn’t really buy our excuses about not being able to stay in the sun longer than a couple hours.  People with sun-friendly skin just don’t get it.  They think you might just be out of shape or lazy.
  • no door on the bathroom: your family might be close enough to not mind sharing a room while pooping.  Mine isn’t.  We’re not even striving for that.  We like a closed door between the pooper and the outside world.  This required ingenuity on our part.  We started to discretely ask each other for “private bathroom time” wherein the entire hotel room was off limits to family members not using the bathroom.
  • sleeping in a bed that isn’t  mine
  • machine gun toting guards: mostly at the banks or jewelry stores
  • $1.50 beers for the Gringos: knowing about this instance makes one feel uneasy in every other commercial interaction.
  • chilaquiles: Jasper’s favorite breakfast food in Mexico.  Deep-fried tortilla strips in chile sauce, sprinkled with cheese.  Served with tortillas and frijoles.  Tastes a lot like chilli-cheese freetos.  A lttle heavy for my tastes at breakfast.
  • cecina:  corned beef jerky.  Salty, dry, crisp-fried, thin sliced pieces of beef served with frijoles and a salad.
  • String mops: String-mops may be the root of all evil.  I’ve never seen them leave a floor cleaner than when they arrived on the scene.  I’m somewhat of a freak when it comes to cleaning a floor.  This caused some tension in our relationship with the maid.
  • Acres and acres of Chinese-made crap being pedaled: street markets would pop up spontaneously in the night while we slept.  We’d go out walk through, smell and eat the street-venders’ wares and get out. How many shoes can one world need?  We saw enough shoes in our trip that i am comfortable adding shoes to my list of things which need a moratorium of their production.   By 6 in the evening, they’d be gone.  Even the trash was gone.
  • Cucarachas: only saw 3 on this trip.  This is a record as far as latin american countries.  we usually see many many more.
  • deformed and disabled beggars : these put a damper on many a walk-about.  Jasper found it unconscionable that people without arms or legs, or both, would be left to beg for coins on the street.  The only way he’d leave the hotel room was with a pocket full of change.  Jasper asks important questions like, “how does that guy even get to the corner?  He’s just like a basketball with a head. Someone must bring him in a wagon.”  When I asked my Mexican acquaintances how they handled talking about the beggars with their kids, they couldn’t understand the question.