Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Economic Pain/Movie/Cuba Story and Americas

Local Economics

Film -- "State of Play"

Cuba Story Recalled

Americas -- Continent

Time has slipped right past leaving my blogging behind. Coincidentally my work load lightened just in time to allow me to throw myself wholeheartedly into preparing my income tax. The task becomes easier and faster every year since I first took over this project a few years ago. That job completed I've been interested in what is happening with the business economics in my community.

I noticed one of the major car dealerships has changed dramatically again. Some time ago ownership changed from selling a U.S. brand to be replaced by foreign company models. Now, the block long car lot is empty, the buildings vacant. Then, there was the announcement a company that owns major Southern California high end shopping centers is filing for bankruptcy. A couple of the centers are The Galleria, South Coast Plaza for anyone familiar with the area. Reportedly they will not close.

My part time rehab work has come to a screeching halt as I read in the paper there is a nationwide overall decline in need for health care services. There has always been a fluctuation throughout the year in services needed so maybe this is just one of those slow times.

I also learned at one local branch of a national bank the institution had a period of time in March when their customers with mortgage loans could refinance with no points or closing costs to obtain a reduced interest percentage rate charged. I think there was one problem with that offer. Far too many customers were never made aware of this opportunity, including some who even worked at that bank. That failure to disclose seems a bit strange to me. I wonder if other banks across the country are doing the same? Expect this bank didn't really want to reduce rates for many customers.

My Borders bookstore is trimming their offerings by eliminating selling CDs and DVDs, but so far seems to be surviving otherwise. I realize they are also affected by the general changes with purchasing transitioning to the Internet.

I've rewarded myself by taking time to enjoy some movies. I appreciate having a reduced rate for special showings at our relatively new local theater. The most recent movie I enjoyed was "State of Play"
(trailer link.) Any movie with Helen Mirren catches my attention though she is not the star in this intriguing thriller starring Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams. I was reminded of recent years government figures romantic liaisons with ensuing disastrous consequences and the challenges facing newspapers efforts to survive as the plot unfolded. At least one critic I read faulted the movie for those all too obvious story aspects, but I didn't find them objectionable. I simply wanted to be entertained and I was.

Meanwhile on the national and international arena all sorts of changes are evolving. Am delighted to see our President focusing attention on Central and South America. Certainly the issue of our relationship with Cuba has been long overdue for review.

Whenever I think of Cuba I am reminded of a young woman I met years ago when I returned to college. Several years after graduation she unexpectedly contacted me relative to further professional activities. The result had a positive indirect profound effect on my continuing career. We had no further contact after that and I no longer even recall her name, much less where she lives.

Earlier she had told me a story of her youthful actions primarily motivated by the relationship she had with a young man strongly opposed to our Government's actions banning American citizens traveling to Cuba. As she told me her story I could recall their student group was front page news with pictures in print and on broadcast media for weeks those many long years ago.

I don't intend to discuss that historical periods political issues pros and cons, but national and international opinions and feelings ran high on the topic. She spoke of being one person in a small group of young people who defied our Government's ban on travel to Cuba and visited there. She reported meeting Fidel Castro early in his ruling career and playing ping pong with him. Their student groups visit was not a very popular act with many in the U.S. at the time. She described repercussions these young students experienced when they returned home to the U.S. and some she perceived for many years after.

Several years ago in an hour long drive home from a more distant airport than a closer one which I prefer to use, a young college student was the only other passenger in the van. She said she was majoring in International Studies and had a specific interest in all the countries south of our border. She appeared to be of European descent so I was intrigued that she would care about these countries our nation has all too often given meager attention. She soon realized I shared her interest and concern. Her conversation became quite passionate as she spoke of the importance of these countries and the value of our nations relationships with theirs.

I wonder what these two women think of the efforts of our new President? I especially hope the latter young college student who would now be an upper classman, or graduate student, has pursued her dream of someday being in a position to facilitate the cohesiveness of all the nations on our continent, north and south that benefits us all.


  1. Working at our Hispanic Center really heightened my awareness of the problems of our neighbors to the South. I did a lot of research for my boss and came across a lot of Latin American blogs. Talk about an education!!! Our clients also taught me so much about the lives they left behind. It's not good south of the border and that's a gross understatement.

  2. A neighbor of ours, a physician, was able to travel to Cuba a few years ago. He brought drugs donated by various organizations. I was never able to get much more information about his trip than the bare facts.

  3. Michael Moore's movie about health care included a trip to Cuba where a woman bought her drugs for pennies compared to the thousands they cost her here. Sorry, I can't remember the name of the movie or the amounts quoted, but it was impressive.

    Those exiled Cuban's in Florida have kept the politicians from doing anything meaningful about trading with Cuba because the exile's wanted the Castro regime to fail. It has gone on far too long and younger Florida Cubans don't share their parent's antipathy.

  4. I remember that movie Darlene is referring to, and it was very impressive to see how cheaply that woman got her drugs in Cuba as compared to here. It was quite interesting. I enjoyed your story of that young woman JoAnn...

    We still have many businesses left vacant and boarded up for a long time now....some are car dealerships. I just hate seeing them. Whole little shopping mall areas are vacant...it's very sad.

  5. That movie that your commenter named Darlene is referring to is Michael Moore's "Sicko"...And it was indeed, very very interesting. It really seems we have one of the worst Health Care Systems in the World! It is shameful!
    I am pleased that Obama is attempting to open dialogue with the Americas and Cuba, too....We shall see.
    "STATE OF PLAY" the film you saw was based on a British Series of the same name....And that is woryh renting from Netflix, if you can, especially since you saw the new film.
    I read somewhere that the Borders Bookstore Xhain may be closing, eventually....Sad, Sad, Sad.

  6. Hopefully things will change with the thaw. Unless one country is inimical to the other in professed ways I would imagine it should be possible to bridge ideological differences and celebrate the diversity to be had in being friends.

  7. Ah, how you evoked memories, Joared. When I worked in the Los Angeles area, I liked to bird in the estuary of Newport Beach's south bay. Hence, I discovered South Coast Plaza. While I, in general, hate to shop, I did enjoy an occasional forray into South Coast Plaza which housed, among its many merchants, a wonderful music box store.

    From the music box store, I bought my Hunky Husband a wormwood chest that played, "I Just Called to say I Love You"--a favorite of his, at the time. Noting, on one of his trips to visit me, that I particularly liked a wormwood chest that played, "Memories" (from Cats), he ordered it by phone and delivered it to me the next time we got together at my Albuquerque home. What a treat! I play "Memories" each time I dust the furniture in my bedroom. (It takes about the same amount of time to play that it takes me to dust.)

    Thanks for the memory. (Bad pun!)
    Cop Car