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December 2006

Written By: Gary on December 31, 2006 No Comment

Img 3533Img 3535So we got the Scooters, they pretty much just looked like mopeds. We got there a little late and then the guys weren’t even there! We had have the security give us the number to call from the store next door. We couldn’t tell him to call since for some reason he didn’t seem to understand we wanted the guys from the rental place. Duh?!? And then of course it’s like renting a car, so it takes forever. So we actually didn’t get going until 11…

On the way south we took a trip towards a beach and found a cool hotel right on the ocean. I’ll post more on that later. I’ll be staying there next time (or maybe later this trip).

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But we kept heading south and eventually made it to Quepos, it was about 70 km south. It was pretty deserted, we had a Coca-Cola and wandered around a bit, popped into some stores (got nothing) and then we had lunch. It was really really deserted. I’ve been there twice before and and it just seemed to be kinda busy both times. At the same time they were clearing setting up for a New Year’s party in the streets (stage and all). I really wish I had gotten a good photo of some of the rickety bridges we had to drive on. One lane and some pretty big gaps on the driving surface, which was railroad tracks (rails) mounted perpendicular to the way you were driving (yes, I mean the metal railroad tracks/rails, not the big wooden ties.

Then we had the ride home, which was really great except it was getting dark and all we had were sunglasses for eye protection. So that was a little tricky. The bugs didn’t make it any easier. Sometimes they were so thick I wanted to laugh but I didn’t want to open my mouth.

But we made it back. We were very happy to see the city lights verses the darkness of the highway.

Img 3528On the upside. We found a 15% off coupon for the rentals attached to one of the tourista maps. Plus, we were going to return them at night since we didn’t want them out during the festivities but we found a great place to park them. We actually parker them in the hotel where the were still doing some construction. We were happy since they weren’t on the street and they were happy since they had an extra parking spot. Now we can ride them on the first since we’ll have until 11am to return them!

Most of the photos in this post are from Quepos, Costa Rica. I’ll have much more photos later…

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Written By: Gary on December 30, 2006 No Comment

Walked about a million miles today. Ate and drank lots too. It was a great day! It was actually a bit cloudy so it really cut down on the sun beating down on you, it was still pretty hot though.

The time I came to Jaco on the last day we rented scooters/mopeds for a few hours and it was pretty cheap and it was nice and cool to have the breeze of driving them around. The plan was to do that a lot this trip, but no one seems to do that any more. A few places have them but it’s lot more per hour (it seems like last time we thought it was incredibly cheap). One of the car rental places has some and it’s only $39 for the whole day, which might not seem like much but when you consider a car is only $55-$65 a day it’s a bit (especially since we need two). So the plan for tomorrow is to get them for the whole day and travel all around.

I promise to take lots of pictures tomorrow and post them sometime in the next few days! I just haven’t seen that much that I haven’t seen before so I don’t think to snap any.

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Written By: Gary on December 30, 2006 No Comment

Cr1902Cr1900So here’s a few shots from the balcony of our hotel, the wet stuff in the background is the Pacific (click the thumbnails for a larger photo). I really like the Hotel Balcon del Mar, it’s got everything I need. We’ve actually got a two bedroom apartment so there’s lots of room and I like that. The pocket camerea I used for these photos wasn’t wide-angle enough to photograph the room, I’ll try the other camera later.

Well, it’s not perfect, it could have WiFi (wireless internet), an elevator (Mark says there are 63 steps to our floor) and a better English speaking person. I can make it pretty difficult for people with all the questions I like to ask, imagine if they don’t speak English?!? On a side note, I was a little disappointed about the included breakfast this trip, it used to be made to order but now it’s a buffet (not made my way).

Today I was trying to figure out where to go when we leave here, I thought since I like the hotel I’d try to figure out where the people who own it might have other hotels. That conversation didn’t get me very far. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a list of other hotels that they have in there “chain”? They could keep it in the hotel room for you to look at and think “hey, maybe I’ll stay there some time…”, but of course no such list exists. If I tell them where I’m going the can tell me what’s close though :)

Cr1901So far today, went in the Pacific Ocean a few times. Went for a wander and picked up a few things, checked out some car rental places (everyone is out until the 1st or 2nd). I’m typing this at a little restaurant that gave me a huge sandwich of BBQ chicken with pineapple and onion on a pita, it was delicious!!! The restaurant is “Caliche’s Wishbone” and it’s on the strip in Jaco (between Pops and Planet Food).

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2006 One Comment

We’re here, were safe and everything is great! We tried to rent a car but nothing available that we could drop off in Jaco (well, there was a $325 SUV, but I wanted a $60 car) so we took a two hour cab ride. Got dropped off at the hotel and just caught the sunset and then we checked in.

Hit an ATM (although we panicked for a second when the first bank didn’t like either of our cards but the next banco was fine) and got 100,000.00 colones from the machine (about $190.00). Got some dinner and stuff (soda, juice, water, gatorade) for the hotel room . On the way back we saw some internet places so I’m heading out to see if I can connect my computer (to post this messages) and stop at a pay phone to call Mom to say I’m alive!

FYI – Did if you are leaving the country your bank or credit card company will make a note in their file if you let them know? Then they don’t think any of it is suspicious activity. We did this, so I knew it shouldn’t be that!…

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Written By: Gary on December 29, 2006 No Comment

So while our seats were a little tight for the trip to the layover (in Charlotte, NC) the seats from there to Costa Rica are great! We got emergency row with awesome leg room, I can’t even reach the seats in front of us. Plus, there was were only room for two seats so there wasn’t even anyone next to us on the four hour flight.

I’m really, really tired though. Had to get up around 4 AM to get to the airport by 6 for a 7 AM flight. Wasn’t able to sleep at all on the flight but I’ll bet I’ll sleep well tonight.

We’re spending the first few days in Jaco but not sure for the rest of the trip. Anyone have any suggestions?

We should be landing in about 25 minutes…

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2006 One Comment

I really don’t know what kind of Internet access I’ll have while I“m traveling. I’ll be writing on the laptop and postdate/time will reflect when I wrote them but who knows when I’ll get to post them (since I’ll need a place that will let me hook up my laptop).

To make things more confusing, I may have written some posts on the laptop that weren’t posted. But may get access to a computer somewhere else and write up something quick. As a result some earlier posts, may be posted later but will still be dated earlier (and as a result listed earlier farther down the list).

Written By: Gary on December 28, 2006 No Comment

EgyptringI found my ring!!!! I lost it a few months ago and I realized this I was leaving my house. So I retraced my steps and dug through the garbage and everything. Plus, I examined my car from head to toe to see if I dropped it in there. But I never found it and it just had to be here somewhere…

So, I was just digging through my laptop backpack and I found it way at the bottom. So I’m pretty excited about this.

This is the ring that I bought in Egypt with the Hieroglyphic Alphabet all the way around it. It was always a little big, so now I guess I know it’s too big. It wasn’t very expensive but I’ll get it sized a tiny bit smaller. You can click the image for a larger view.

Written By: Gary on December 26, 2006 No Comment

So in preparation for my trip I picked up Living Abroad in Costa Rica by Erin Van Rheenen. I’ve said many times I wouldn’t mind living there someday so I thought this might be a good read.

I bought it a month ago and I planned to read it then or else I would have asked Santa for it. It looks like a good book and mentions some of the smaller towns like Jaco so I’m still looking forward to reading it (eventually).

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Written By: Gary on December 25, 2006 No Comment

So Mom seems pretty happy with the gifts that I got her for Christmas. In particular she likes the book Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons by Kermit T. Frog. It’s very cute but seems like it really might have some interesting thoughts on it. I just spotted it at Borders, I hadn’t heard anything about it but it looked like something Mom might like.

The other item was one she specifically asked for: a new vacuum. Her last vacuum was 34 years old, so it was about time. I settled on the Eureka Altima Bagless Vacuum and it was a good choice, she’s been playing around with it today. It’s got a great extendable duster thing that is self cleaning (I don’t even know how to describe it). It was a breeze to put together, three (3) screws and we were done (they could print the manual a little larger though!). It’s nice and light too. I had spotted it at Target and the line was horribly long so I figured I’d check out some other models and maybe come back. Later, Kelly mentioned it was the same one she just bought to replace hers and then it was on sale the next day so I took those two things as a sign and picked it up.

She seems very happy with that and all the other items that Santa and I brought her!!!

Written By: Gary on December 25, 2006 No Comment

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!!! I hope everyone everywhere has a wonderful day!!!

I’ve got a few updates and a few things to cross off my list that I’ll be updating y’all the next few days…

Written By: Gary on December 22, 2006 One Comment

So I’m very excited about the holidays!!! Tomorrow my house will be packed with people. I’ve never had this many people in my condo so it’s going to be a tight fit. Twenty-eight people, I think about 10 will be kids and while I’ve generally got stuff for kids to do things, I don’t have much space for them to do it in, that’ll be the trick!

Saturday (the 23rd) will also be the closest to Christmas that my extended family (on my Mom’s side) has celebrated Christmas since 1997, I think every year before that we got that group together on Christmas Eve. That’s why I’m having it this year, I wanted it closer to Christmas and this way, I get my way :)

Well, I’m off. I’ve got a bunch of little things that need to be done, but enough of everything is done so I don’t have to worry about it. I think I’m done with all the kids except one (and I think that will require a call to his parents since I’m clueless).

Written By: Gary on December 20, 2006 One Comment

So I gave up Coca-Cola for a few weeks for several reasons. It’s on my list of 101 in 1001 to try and see how if it makes me feel any better or sleep any better, etc. I chose this time just to hopefully have less sugar/caffine in my body to maybe stay healthier for the holidays (especially since I’m hosting Christmas for 25-ish people on Saturday). I’m not allowed to substitute other (inferior) caffeinated drinks or extra amounts of chocolate, etc.

Well, the health thing didn’t work out since I got sick a few days later (last week) and don’t know if I slept better due to the illness or the decrease of sugar/caffine. No friends or coworkers have noticed I seemed to be less hyper :)

But I do get cravings for Coke, even when I haven’t removed it from my intake. But the other day at McDonald’s I got my number three which includes a drink, fries a Quarter Pounder with cheese, no pickles or mustard for those of you who may not know what a McDonald’s is, let alone what a #3 is. And as I took a drink of my soda I realized I was taking a really really long drink through the straw and it was tasting really really good. And then I realized why, I accidentally got a Coke. So while I hate to be wasteful, I went and dumped it out and got a Sprite instead. The Sprite just wasn’t the same…

So I’ve got two more days to go. Actually, about two days and five hours. And I’m really ready for it. And I know I need to try this experiment again sometime, the getting sick really through off the results the “experiment”. But I think I’m gonna stick it out for a few more days just because I can. Maybe…

Written By: Gary on December 16, 2006 4 Comments

SarahsilentnightOops, I forgot to mention this earlier this week. You can get Sarach McLachlan singing Silent Night for free from the iTunes music store. This track is off of her Wintersong Holiday album. These iTunes freebies are generally from Tuesday to Monday, so make sure you grab it this weekend.

Written By: Gary on December 16, 2006 No Comment

So as I mentioned a few days ago it’s been 3 years I’ve been blogging. But here and the last few days I’ve been jotting down some odd stats:

  • 1379 posts so far (counting this one).
  • 1.25 posts a day is my average. Although, lately I certainly haven’t been keeping up with that. But usually it’s more like 2 or 3 a day and then I skip a day or two…
  • 1563 comments! I love comments!!! I’m averaging a little more than one per each post (but most posts get none). I should see which ones get the most, I haven’t noticed a pattern/trend but there may be.
  • 101 trackbacks. Actually, I accidentally deleted all the trackbacks a while back (which was 23) so I currently only have 78. This is unfortunate since trackbacks are so incredibly useful (although spammers have pretty much ruined them for everyone). A chunk of those are probably me making trackbacks to my previous posts, but that’s sort of what they’re there for…
  • 8,800 spam messages per month is what I’ve averaged per month lately. That’s almost 300 a day! The last time I reset my spam filter was May 21, 2005 and since then I’ve have 169,500 comment / trackback spams blocked. I still use MT-Blacklist in addition to to SpamLookup (included with Movable Type). More on this at the end of this post.

    These numbers are huge at least to me), I can’t believe I’ve been doing it this long. It’s a joy to blog, but I do always feel that if I let it go for a while it’ll just kinda die. I hate to blog just for the sake of blogging but I do always try to keep it up-to-date with a few details of life (or tech or TV or something) even if I’m not in an extra blogging mode. I’ve got some other points that make the blogging extra geeky/interesting for me but the list started to get too long, so I’ll finish and post that at a later day. I’m starving right now and need to get something to eat!

    OPTIONAL GEEKY SPAM STUFF: The reason I use both (MT-Blackslist and SpamLookup) is because the stuff MT-Blacklist knows is spam gets deleted without me having to look at it. If I just use SpamLookup, I’d still need to look at those 300 messages a day to make sure it doesn’t have any real messages caught up in it. As it is, I still need to look at the 50 that MT-BLacklist didn’t delete to see if SpamLookup grabbed something important. And sometimes SpamLookup does grab a few (a few a week). And once in a very long while a real spam gets through both and makes it on the web site, but that’s only about once a month (maybe longer).

  • Written By: Gary on December 15, 2006 2 Comments

    A few months back I mentioned that Skype was allowing free outgoing calls to US & Canada for free for the rest of the year. Well the year is almost up and it looks like they’re going to charge $30 a year for unlimited outgoing calls. Please note that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’ll be free outgoing calls to the US and Canada from anywhere.

    Skype logoHere’s the important part: It’s only $15 for the first year if you sign up before January 31. 2007. Plus it looks like they give you $1.25 in international calls and $50 in coupons towards other Skype equipment.

    Now you can still buy blocks of calls from Skype to the US for 2.1 cents a minute, so if you’re not going to use it that much (I probably won’t) then it’s probably not a deal, but if you do, it’s certainly a deal for the first year, they second year you’ll need to make 1400 minutes to break even.

    If you lived out of the country it might be a deal, but there might be better ways for international calling if I needed it all the time, I just don’t use it that much. I think I’m still using the original block of $20 worth of minutes I purchased (about $8 of that left since April 2005).

    It’d be great for your kid in college if they had high-speed internet in their room!

    The question is for my trip to Costa Rica, will I have good enough internet connectivity for me to save $15 in calls? I did use Skype to place my hotel reservation for the first few days in Costa Rica it was easy to use and I think pretty cheap a minute to use it.

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    Written By: Gary on December 12, 2006 7 Comments

    So I’ve been blogging for three years!!!

    That’s longer than I generally keep a job (or a relationship)!

    I’m really not feeling all that well or I’d post something a little more retrospective (or maybe something more introspective)…

    Written By: Gary on December 11, 2006 2 Comments

    So my blog has been taken over by comments about “Mynewtemp”. The original post is here and as of today it has 179 comments over two years! It’s almost a message board…

    I refuse to mention the post by name (fearful of diverting people to this post) which is why I used the graphic above instead of text. I did have someone offer to place an ad on the page which I think I might check into since… well… since I can I guess. It’s only gotten busier in the last few weeks so I guess now’s the time…

    GravatarSo as I went to check the page out I see Gravatar has pushed all their icons onto my page for the people who don’t actually have Gravatar icoms on my page. It’s kind of annoying, maybe there is a way to turn them off. I worked really hard to get it set right for people who have the icon vs. people who don’t….

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    Written By: Gary on December 6, 2006 2 Comments

    So my last post wasn’t to make you believe that life isn’t good, it was just pointing out the blah things and not being in the mood for blogging (or even much blog reading). Life has been good and even today in general has been great.

  • I got some gifts for a wedding and not only did I find somethings on the registry that I didn’t mind buying but I found things I wanted to buy for them and one was something I had even considered before reading the registry. I won’t list the items in case they’ve been keeping up on my blog.
  • I went to the library to pick up two new books I had on reserver and they actually had a third waiting for me! The items consist of: Brother Odd (Koontz), Next (Crichton) and Wild Fire (DeMille). These plus some other one week books are going to generate some nice fines for the library.
  • While I couldn’t get to sleep last night I slept like a rock once I did get to sleep, got a little over nine hours, if I can just do the same tonight…
  • While I was at the library I found a few 25 cent paperbacks which I’ll take on my next vacation (and not need to bring back).
  • Plus I drove by my local bar just as happy hour started and I popped in. So I’m currently blogging this over a Long Island Iced Tea and some and some free appetizers! Plus, it’s very Christmas-ish here thanks to Dawn.

    Other good things coming up: We’re celebrating Christmas at my place for the extended family in a few weeks and I’m way excited about that. I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to put 25 people in my condo but I’ll make it work. For the last few years my (Mom’s) extended family hasn’t celebrated Christmas anywhere near the 25th (we used to do it on the 24th every year) which is why I volunteered to have it on the 23rd. I actually sent out invites in April to make sure this would happen. And on top of that, next month I get to go on a warm sunny vacation to Costa Rica!

    In addition, many of the things in this post and the previous post gets a bunch of items off my 101 in 1001 list. I’ve completed 24 of 101 things done and I have 637 of 1001 days left to do them so I need to catch up a bit (23.76% of tasks done but 36.36% of the time had passed). The Costa Rica trip crosses off two (maybe three items), family Christmas knocks off two and the eye appointment is another. I might get a few more but those are guaranteed to be done in the next 60 days.

  • Written By: Gary on December 6, 2006 No Comment

    I just haven’t been in the mood to blog lately. I’ve had stuff to say but just not motivated to put it all down on (digital) paper. Just been kinda “blah” lately. I think part of it’s the darn weather: it’s just been swinging from cloudy and crummy to nice and sunny. I’ve been loving the nice days but just haven’t gotten used to the cloudy ones. Now, it’s not that I like the cloudy ones but with the darn daylight savings change and the weird weather I just haven’t adapted yet.

    Now we’ve had these great weather days, I don’t think I’ve every had the top down in the car as late as mid-November before but we just had those crazy nice days a few weeks ago! That usually makes me pretty perky. It’s just been strange lately. Everything else in life is great I’ve just been kinda run down.

    My arm has been bugging me (I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before) and it might be interfering with my sleep a little bit and bugging me a bit during the day (which probably cuts down on my recreational computer use), it might have a little to do with keeping me a little off kilter (I just had new x-rays today and have an appointment with a specialist next month). And the more I think about it my eyes have been bugging me a little more lately, I’ve got an appointment for that next week and I know that’ll result in glasses (I don’t currently have them). So the more I right here and think about it maybe it’s all these little things adding up.

    Although that’s all just a sign of getting older, right? Now that’s depressing…

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    Written By: Gary on December 3, 2006 No Comment

    I’m not sure if this was a recent episode but I just saw this Wired post with screen captures and thought it was pretty funny!

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