11 June 2000


Quote:  "The Plaza Hotel in Nogales, Sonora, and the American Hotel in Nogales, Arizona, both charged $50 for a single room.  But while the Mexican hotel was only two years old, it was already falling apart. . . . The American Hotel in Nogales, Arizona, was a quarter century old and in excellent condition. . . . Was the developed world, I wondered, defined not by its riches or a lighter skin color but by maintenance?  Maintenance indicates settlement rather than nomadism; faith in -- and thus planning for -- the future, rather than the expectioan that what is here today might be gone tomorrow.  Maintenance indicates organization, frugality, and responsibility:  you don't build what you lack the money, the time, and the determination to maintain.  Maintenance manifests a community and a system of obligation, without which substantial development is unlikely.   Maintenance requires the prudent use of capital.

As I walked around Nogales, Arizona, what I saw was a way of doing things differently from Mexico's that, in turn, had created material wealth.  This was not a matter of Anglo culture per se, since 96% of the population of Nogales, Arizona, is of Mexican descent and Spanish speaking.  I mean the national culture of the United States. . . ."

Robert Kaplan, An Empire Wilderness:  Travels into America's Future, 139-40.

Book Discussion


Today was an excellent day!  We had the first meeting of our book/ideas/whatever discussion group, beginning with brunch at Boulevard Bistrot and moving eventually to Diedrich's coffeeshop to continue the conversation about the Kaplan book.  It was an outstanding first effort, I thought.  Hanah, John, Callie, and I constituted the group, and it was an agreeable, thoughtful exchange -- almost like a graduate seminar, except that everyone had done the reading and was prepared, unlike some seminars I have seen.  At the conclusion of the wide-ranging talk, we tended to some organizational matters.  It looks as if we will probably pull together a Yahoo Club so that we can have a message board and calendar of events and such; Hanah has already done some work to this end.  As I mentioned in a previous journal entry, I think some degree of organization is necessary to make this thing fly and to make sure we can get what we want out of it.  But I thought our first effort was outstanding and am excited about the next discussion gathering, which will likely take place in about a month, with ad-hoc weekly social gatherings thrown in for good measure.

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I spent the rest of the day/evening packing for the trip to London.  I now have all of my business and casual apparel packed in the bag I'm going to check.  I will pack a few miscellaneous items in my backpack to carry on tomorrow, and everything will be set.  It's a very nice thing to have things done in advance for a change, and much less hectic and stressful.

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I had a good chat with my mom tonight.  I wasn't going to call her because I had packing and such to do, and then I just decided that I had plenty of time to pack and it was ridiculous not to call and visit with my mom both about the Calgary trip and the preparations for London.  My mom hasn't been to all of these places, and I know it's very exciting for her to hear about them and to have me talk about my experiences.   It's makes me happy to be able to do that -- and to think that for a moment I thought it was more important to do some packing just goes to show that I'm tired and it's been a long day!  But eventually my brain started working and I snapped to things, and I enjoyed our visit.  At some point when I get back, mom is going to come to visit Houston, and we will have a great time.  Since her last visit, I've gotten much more acquainted with the offbeat and different things in Montrose and the Heights and elsewhere in Houston, and my mom is the type of person who will really enjoy things like the Icehouse and coffeeshops and Biba's Greek Pizza and such.   I can't wait!

But first, it's time for some rest!




Copyright (c) 2000, Kevin L. Whited