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January 2007

Written By: Gary on January 31, 2007 No Comment

So I haven’t really done much at all today. So you get an “about my day” post. I’ve eaten a lot (and often) and had too way much Coca-Cola (but the last few had some Capt. Morgan’s in it so that’s okay). And I’ve been on the ‘net all day (at home, at Wendy’s, at the bar) catching up (and fixing) on things.

I did participate in a survey that I got $25 for (it might have been $25 for Amazon.com but that’s as good as cash to me). It was a survey about the new extra-secure security features in IE 7. The thing is, I’m not so worried about my information being intercepted en-route; I’m more worried about their servers being compromised after the fact (or someone losing their laptop). My real concern when shopping on-line is that “Bob’s Computer Shack” is just a place that “Bob” set up so he can steal my Charge Card information (he could even have an ultra secure certificate).

But tonight I need to drive to Ypsi to get a CAT scan of my hand. It’s been bugging me and it’s time to get it looked at. My problem is with chronic problems like this is they tend to not find a cause, which means they can’t find a solution. He has said he doesn’t think it’s anything carpel-tunnel or repetitive anything-ish.So I cleaned up my web site and tried to make it more XHTML compliant (total pain in the ass). But Technorati hasn’t been indexing me lately and I can’t figure out why and Googling-around I some people report that as a possible reason. But Overall people seem pretty dissatisfied on updated with Technorati updates. I know without any effort I used to show up all the time. I ping the heck out of them and I just don’t show up, not sure why, everypne else just seems to look at my RSS/Atom feeds and index me just fine.

Oh, and I’ve been keeping an eye on Woot since they’ve got a Woot-off today. I did get a bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse that I’ve missed a few other times but I missed the ever elusive Bag of Crap….

Written By: Gary on January 30, 2007 3 Comments

So I kinda jumped on this one a little late. Tino Buntic is trying to compile a list 2000 bloggers with linked mugshots. I see a lot of familiar faces in it, I’m not sure how I didn’t see it before today. I added my name to the list and we’ll see if he gets to me before all 2000 spots are taken. You can try and get on the list too….

Written By: Gary on January 29, 2007 No Comment

It’s “Skype Gift Day”! Log into your Skype account (or sign up) and click give me my gift of 10 free minutes of calling to non-internet phones (landline or cellular). Probably limited to the US / Canada.

And it’s almost the last day (Jan 31st) to sign up for unlimited calling to the US and canada for only $14.95 (50% off).

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Written By: Gary on January 28, 2007 No Comment

Cr Tortuga MapSo almost everyone was giving us mediocre reviews of the volcano this trip, so we decided to skip it. Since we skipped it we were staying in Montezuma for another day and then going back to Jaco.

Staying in Montezuma (Costa Rica) resulted in us taking a tour to Tortuga Island. Every travel group in town seemed to offer a similar tour to this. A trip on the water (hopefully spotting some whales/dolphins) some snorkeling and some time on the beach with with lunch cooked there and then some more (optional) snorkeling and back along the coast. I’m glad we went but the day went by really fast.

Cr Snorkle 2007-01-05 10-59-57.Img 4592The photo with the island (big rock) in the middle is not Tortuga, it’s nearby and it’s where we snorkeled (if you look real close you can see people snorkeling). Now remember where we are, there aren’t real lessons. They hand you some flippers and a mask and a snorkel and off you go! I asked some of the other tourists and got the gist of it but was always afraid of somehow getting a big gulp of water somehow (which never happened). The fish were awesome, different colors and if you stayed still you could be in the middle of a big school of them. Different colored rocks and coral, it was all very cool. Now one some of the people who had gone down to the Caribbean (or other exotic snorkeling places) were a little disappointed but the rest of us were happy.

I also saw some kind of Eel and some kind of Sting Ray. The eel was a squiggly but I’d guess it was about 3-4 feet long and the Sting(?) Ray was probably a little less than 3 feet (from wing tip to wing tip). They were 6-10 feet below me so it’s hard to judge the size.Cr Tortuga 2007-01-05 14-21-56.Img 4605Cr Tortuga 2007-01-05 14-21-51.Img 4603The beach was nice, set up as if you were outside a hotel on the ocean. The rest of the island was a “state park” of sorts (and had admission costs, in hindsight probably pretty cheap) but the day went by so fast, there just wasn’t time for exploring.

And they made us a pretty good grilled lunch too!

All the photos in this post are clickable for larger versions.

Written By: Gary on January 28, 2007 No Comment

So I’m playing with Technorati Tags on my pages (you’ll see some attached to some of my posts) and I’m not liking how they are working from a placement standpoint. I am experimenting so we’ll see where they get moved to (or if I even keep them).

Tags are supposed to do two things (IMHO):

  • help you find other people’s posts on the same topic and
  • help other people find my posts related to those same topics.

    Some of these topics I could probably direct you to more specific places if necessary, I’m just hoping to have a few more people find my site.

    I think Movable Type 3.34 and the new version of Ecto (in development) will interact in a way better than I’m currently doing this but for now it’ll help me experiment.

  • Written By: Gary on January 28, 2007 No Comment

    Costa Rica Montezuma WaterfallSo here’s the Montezuma Waterfall that we climbed way up into the hills to get to. We swam and (I) jumped into the pool there and then we climbed way farther up into the hills to get way above the waterfall (and there were a few more pools up there too) and then I climbed down past them so that if you were where I was when I took this movie you’d seem me at the top of the falls.

    I know I’m behind in getting stuff up, but I’m getting there. FYI, I rotated this movie, so if it doesn’t play, can you please let me know?!?

    Written By: Gary on January 28, 2007 No Comment

    So search engines are tricky to understand, especially if you want the search engines to find your site and people to find your site via the search engines. One of the things you may want to do is restrict pages that the search engines find, that might seem silly to exclude yourself but I don’t want people inadvertently finding my site.

    Here’s an example, I don’t let* the search engines search my monthly archives. Because on the page of 20-50 unrelated posts the information on that page is pretty much unrelated by the end of the month. In December 2006 the mention of “iPods” on the 3rd, has nothing to do with any of the mentions of “family” or “Christmas” but if some searched for “iPods” & “family” or “iPods” & “Christmas” they may come upon that page and while I want traffic I’m not trying to lure people here under false pretenses. This is why I have categories like “Apple” and “Friends + Family” that will have related posts in one location (and even then it’s still kinda a wide range of articles).

    So far I’ve just told you why you want a ROBOTS.TXT file but I haven’t told you how and I’m not planning on it, because Google just put together on “Controlling how search engines access and index your website with ROBOTS.TXT”. It’s got a lot of links that take you all over the place but there’s lots of good info there.If you’re just getting started don’t get confused with all the “User-Agent:” rules, just use “User-Agent: *” for now and that will apply to all search engines (that’s all I still use although I’m going to start working on getting some of my pages more mobile-ish).

    For another example, I don’t index my Search Results page, this page lists what search words people have used to find my site. Because it those pages were indexed it would just kind of create a self-fulfilling loop of search results.

    While on the other hand I do allow my “Talked About” page to be indexed since it doesn’t seem to give a lot of false positives to the search engines. plus once someone gets there they’ll quickly see that it’s probably not the page they’re looking for. But if they did put in some eclectic words that they see I mention often, they might hang around a bit.

    * Please note that no search engine is obligated to find your rules, but it they want good results, they’ll probably want to follow your suggestions in your ROBOTS.TXT file. People wanting to steal content from your pages (text or images) will still traverse all the links on your site.

    Written By: Gary on January 24, 2007 2 Comments

    Had a bunch of things to do and I think I got most of them done. I’ll have to check the list that I forgot and left at home…

  • See Doctor: to fix this congestion – got shot, got drugs!
  • Barnes & Nobel: Educator discount week – got three books and 25% off!
  • Dollar store: Get some spare reading glasses – selection stunk but I gat a tiny pair in tiny durable case to keep in the car and a tiny fold up pair (they fold up half the normal size). Actually they had some decent ones but just not in my size. The question is if they are reading glasses, why do they print the size of magnification so small on the glasses?
  • Target: pick up prescription – got it! Doc said it might keep me awake so not to take it late in the day, I’ll start tomorrow.
  • Staples: use that $10 off $10 coupon before it expires – I was just going to get some office supply “stuff” but I picked up tax software on sale.
  • Gas Station: get gas – Prices were heading back up so I filled it up.
  • Hair cut: get it cut – it’s shorter (all of them).
  • Dearborn Credit Union: they’re letting new customers open up a $1,000 CD with 10.47% interest – Most places are giving about 5% so this seems like an easy way to make $50. I did not accomplish this task.

    Later: I did cehek my list at home and this is more than I had on my list :)

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    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    So I stopped by the Midnight Espresso Cafe in Dearborn. I really like it there but it’s generally pretty smokey (lots of smokers hang out and smoke cigarettes or a hooka) but they didn’t look too busy so I stopped by. WOW! They just renovated and made it much bigger and it seems brighter too!

    They’ve got a wide variety on the menu, I’m guessing much of it is Arabic in origin. Whenever I bring people here they generally find something interesting that they like. I generally get the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas and that’s what I’m getting today.

    Bonus, I pulled out the laptop hook up my phone as a modem and realized I connected to a network! So they’ve got WiFi now too (or else the business next door does), with their new larger non-smoking section and WiFi I think I’ll be here a bit more often now.

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    Save the Cheerleader, save the world!Woo Hoo! Heroes is going to get a second season!

    They do try to do too many of the Six Degrees/Lost-type crossovers but otherwise as a weekly superhero/scifi show on mainstream TV it’s pretty close to the best show along those lines I’ve seen in a long time…Here’s an exclusive preview from the January 3rd episode of the Tonight show…

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment
    Hold your Wee for a Wii –
    KDND-FM had a contest to see who could drink the most water without a bathroom break. Jennifer Strange came in second place, sadly several hours later she died from “water intoxication” which I had never heard of before now. But I guess anything to excess is bad for you. The station has fired 10 staff members of it’s staff as a result.
    Irish Currency –
    Researchers tested money for cocaine and 100% of the Irish bills had traces of cocaine on them. Now there were only 45 randomly selected bills in the test but that’s still pretty high. More at Yahoo!
    An Inconvenient Truth –
    A Seattle School has banned it’s schools from showing An Inconvenient Truth unless they show opposing views. The bible says the world will burn up in the end and this movie doesn’t show opposing views. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    I saw most of these stories in The Week which I really like (I get the printed edition). They don’t write a lot (most?) of their articles, they get from other sources. They reprint some political cartoons and have a few columns I like such as “Only in America” (which contained the Seattle School article)

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    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    So I haven’t said much about the iPhone since it was announce but what’s to say it looks awesome!!! It’s a widescreen video iPod with an internet browser, e-mail and it makes phone calls. The downside (IMHO) is it’s only on Cingular and I don’t think the network the iPhone is using is as fast as the EVDO speed networks.

    IphonehandThe negative I’ve seen some reviewers mention is that it only accepts music from the iTunes music store. Which isn’t true, it only accepts protected music from the iTunes music store. And it’s important to remember all other players don’t allow music from the iTunes music store, I see that as a problem. You can buy from some (smaller) music sites and put your CDs on it. FYI, the iTunes music store sells 58 songs a second (5 million a day) that makes them the fourth largest retailer of music (Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target are above them) then just pulled ahead of Amazon. The iTunes and iPod experience makes it so pleasant to use I don’t think most people care if you can only use one store to buy (protected) music from…On a side note there are rumors that Apple is making a huge advertising announcement during the SuperBowl. The rumor is that they are going to start carrying the Beatles CDs, I just don’t see that is a major announcement, but we’ll see. It’s interesting since Apple Records (the Beatle’s label) has sued Apple more than a few times for infringing on their trademark but I just don’t see it as that huge of a deal. I see them maybe running some new AppleTV ads and maybe some iPhone ads or maybe a new widescreen iPod ad, who knows, the SuperBowl is where they started their ad blitz for the Macintosh in 1984.

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    I saw this on Google and thought it was pretty funny, so I’m sharing it with you…
    What I thought was extra strange was Google doesn’t seem to have a decent way to share the code as easily as YouTube does. So I ended up getting it from YouTube instead. Google will post directly to Blogger, TypePad, MySpace or LiveJournal (and you need to give them your password!) but YouTube just gives me a line of code to past on my site…

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    Written By: Gary on January 18, 2007 One Comment

    So I’ve just been behind with blogging and posting info from the trip to Costa Rica. Partially since I’ve been so busy and sick in the parts in between. So, some little tidbits:

  • $1.79!!!! – Okay so I’ve mentioned gas prices occasionally and that I get excited with great prices, but today I got it for $1.79, I think that’s my record since I started blogging…
  • Wine bags – So I was cleaning up today and put away bottle of wine that I received for the holidays. It came in a wine bag (which was really cool) but what do you do with the wine bags after you take the wine out? Do you re-gift the bag the next time you take a bottle of wine somewhere? I have more than a few wine bags and I just don’t know what to do with them (I’d probably reuse them but I never think of it when I’m taking wine somewhere).
  • Christmas cleaning – I hate putting away the Christmas stuff when the holidays are over. It’s a pain in the ass for one thing, but I miss the holiday atmosphere and the lights. Actually, it’s mostly the lights that I miss.The lack of blogging also ties into not feeling well, since I’ve been feeling yucky (I’ve been so stuffed up I cannot believe I’m getting enough oxygen to the brain) I’ve been tired. And when I’m tired my eyes get really tired and the screen looks fuzzy, so I’ve been computing less (Have I mentioned I’ve been wearing reading glasses? That’s another story). Today’s the best of felt in days and days so hopfully I’m on the mend so I’ll try and catch up when the weekend hits…
  • Written By: Gary on January 14, 2007 No Comment

    So I noticed they posted some new HoroSpoke forcasts over at GirlSpoke and mine doesn’t look to bad for the year!

    Now, my Virgos out there are going to have the most eventful year by far. In every facet of your life, you’ll be experiencing some sort of change, mostly in a good way.

  • Career? Check.
  • Love life? Check.
  • Financial bid-nass? Check.
  • So, because you’ll be having such a grand ol’ time this year, you need to make sure that you keep all skepticism and worrying at bay. With such strong forces in your world in 2007, worrying about these changes will be as smart as using an umbrella in the midst of a hurricane…

    You can see your 2007 HoroSpoke here.

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    Written By: Gary on January 8, 2007 No Comment

    So we’re off in the morning and we’re very sad about it. We rented a car (National seems to have the best deals around here, with no drop off fee at the airport) so we’ll leisurely head back to the airport in the morning, not like the car-sickness-indusing cab rides (and it’ll actually be less than a cab). I’m not done blogging though, I’ve got posts I haven’t finished and mucho photos to put on-line.

    Pack tonight, breakfast and a quick swim in the morning and we’ll be off!!!

    A minor concern is the 1 hour and 5 minute layover between flights where we’ll actually need to go though customs before we board our flight from Charlotte, NC.

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    Written By: Gary on January 8, 2007 No Comment

    So I’ve added some photos and maps to some of the earlier posts and I’ve added some photos to Flickr, Yahoo! Photos and in my Gallery (I hadn’t been putting any in the latter two lately). They need to be cleaned up and titled a bit, but at least they’re are new ones…

    Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 No Comment

    sunset jaco costa ricasunset jaco costa ricaOne of my favorie parts of the movie Running Scared (1986), is when Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal (who play Chicago Cops) are in Florida (Key West, I think) and see a bunch of people standing by the pier. They think ‘someone must have found a body’ or ‘a car must have drove off the pier’. As they try to get closer they ask someone ‘what happened?’ and the response is, ‘they’re just watching the sunset’ and the both look at her and say, ‘no, really, what happened?’ and she replies, ‘everyone comes down every night for the sunset’ and they just don’t believe it. But sure enough, it’s just the sunset and they’re hooked they watch it every night get hooked.

    That’s what it’s like here in Jaco, Costa Rica, everyone starts showing up on the beach in the evening. Even if they aren’t going to get in the water they just show up to watch. Some show up just a few minutes before, some show up an hour or so. They bring the kids, the babies, the grandparents and just watch it set and the colors fade away…

    sunset people jaco costa rica(I’m just paraphrasing the movie, I can’t find the actual quotes, anywhere on-line, but you get the gist of it.)

    As usual, click the photos for larger views.

    Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 No Comment

    Pict1918-1So there are somethings we really take for granted but it just isn’t the same everywhere else. For instance:

  • Medicine – While I was at the farmicia (drug store) I saw a family come in to get a single (1) Allegra tablet (the are actually individually wrapped). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see how much one was. With my insurance, which I’m very thankful for, I get a three month supply for only $2 (via mail-order). I don’t have any idea what they paid, but I’m sure it was more than two-and-a-half cents, but maybe not, you never know. I’m assuming they cost enough to where you don’t keep a jar of them at home.
  • Coleman cooler – Here’s what we would consider to be a normal sized Coleman cooler (one of the larger ones, not the small ones that just hold a 5 pack). It’s about $63, that’s a lot of money here. We talked to a waiter last night (at a the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to in Costa Rica) and he makes about $30 a day including tips, now remember things cost less here but that’s still two days wages here. At minimum wage it’s probably a 1/2 days wages, and remember that’s minimum wage.
  • Health care – so many of the places are remote it can be hours to a hospital, and that’s only if you have a way to get transportation to where you are when you need the help. I don’t think there’s even one here in Jaco, you probably have to go to Punteranes or San Jose (about 2 hours, maybe a little less).

    I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I think of more…

  • Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 2 Comments

    Cr Montezuma Big MapSo we really liked Montezuma, I’ve never been in that peninsula in Costa Rica and I’ve always wanted to go there (I think it’s called the Nicoloyia Nicoya Peninsula). We just kept extending our stay a day here and there and ended up staying four nights. We’re really glad we stayed an extra day or we would have missed the island of Tortuga (more on this later). It’s a very small town, just a few streets but it’s very laid back and I’ll definitely go back!

    Seems like a bit of a surfer town, but we saw very little surfing, even though there were lots of places to rent/buy surfing supplies. The water seemed very clear but part of that may have just been because the sand is so dark in Jaco. Speaking of Jaco, it seems like it’s a bit mini-Jaco before it grew, maybe if you could roll it back 30-40 years.

    Here is a street map of Montezuma. You can see all the busineeses on this map. If there is nothing listed it’s probably just trees or sand. Size-wise most of the hotels only have 10-15 rooms so they don’t take up much room. Most of it is concentrated in the top have of the map with Chico’s Bar (#14) at the center o the town, we stayed at El Sano Banano (#9) which is really close to the center.Things did seem less expensive in this town, but don’t assume and be sure to check the menu’s prices before you sit down. Generally (but not always) if a place lists the cost in US Dollars they are more expensive. FYI, no ATMs in this town so make sure you have cash, especially since many places will give you a better deal for cash than charge (mostly noticed this with tours, transportation and hotels).

    It’s way more laid back and it’s a bit of a hippie/rastafarian/bohemian crowd that seems to have settled in there. Some just seem to be traveling for a while and stop for a few months or years and others just seem to have moved there. There seems to be a few Ticos (Costa Rican people) who have relocated up that way as well, they just think it’s more relaxed than some of the other places they’ve been.

    Written By: Gary on January 5, 2007 No Comment

    White Monkeywhite monkeySo the hotel we are at (The El Sano Banano in Montezuma, CR) has a sister hotel (Ylang Ylang) down the beach (which you can only get to by walking, but they will transport your luggage) and we’re allowed to use their pool and hammocks, etc. But the main reason we went down is we heard in the afternoon that the monkeys stop by. We got there just in time and I got a variety of photos (many blurry or obscured by trees) and some video.

    They would come down and take food from people, they were very cautious but many of them took some. It was funny since as they climbed closer the branches would bend and they’d panic and try to scramble back up. Be sure to notice in the one photo you can see the White Monkey with a baby on it’s back.I’m not really sure if they were called “White Monkeys” or “White-Faced Monkeys”.

    FYI – The Ylang Ylang is more resort-ish (pool, hammocks, lounge chairs, massage, yoga, etc.) but it has no Air conditioning…

    Written By: Gary on January 4, 2007 No Comment

    Img 4271So we’re staying at the The El Sano Banano and we keep adding days to our stay. It’s a great hotel in that it’s located right in the center of Montezuma and it’s got all the necessary requirements for a hotel. It’s got air conditioning which to me is a must and not that many hotels have it (and it’s brand new, so it works very well), private bathrooms/showers, the showers have heat and it’s only about $65 US a night. There’s no internet but I just found out that the Ylang Ylang (the sister hotel) has free WiFi but I just found that out so I haven’t tried it yet.

    It’s cute but plain vanilla, just beds and a TV in the room, no chairs and no desk. It’s tiny, only 12 rooms, but many of the places are like that. Free breakfast in the morning, it’s delicious(!), I get Huevos Rancheos, which is eggs and salsa on a tortilla but no frijoles (beans). The dinning rooms shows free movies with dinner; I assume the legality of this is questionable, but I haven’t bothered to quiz them on the legalities of international copyright and are they paying the proper fees (my spanish stinks and no one’s English is that good). But pretty much you’re wandering the streets or beech or at a restaurant or people-watching or on the beach.

    I’d definitely recommend this place for the price, location, A/C and the rest of what I’ve mentioned above. The A/C really helps the enjoyability of it, the water pressure could be better (sometimes it’s awesome, but sometimes it’s not working). No one we’ve talked to has air conditioning, but they’re staying at places for half the price but we really like the A/C…

    The photo is the view out my window.

    Written By: Gary on January 4, 2007 No Comment

    So after talking about the wonderful weather this morning, this afternoon the last few hours of daylight were the cloudiest I’ve ever seen while I was in Costa Rica. I actually thought it might storm. It was still gorgeous (and the lack of sun did make it more comfortable), I just thought it was weird after I mentioned it this morning.

    Written By: Gary on January 4, 2007 No Comment

    I never mention the weather her because it’s always beautiful in Costa Rica. It’s always warn, hot or very hot (sometimes too hot). It strangely cloudy for a little more than an hour late yesterday afternoon but otherwise it’s always sunny (they’re might be clouds but the sun always wins!).

    A side note regarding the heat – Mark and I both like it cold in the room, we had it a little too cold yesterday and we had condensation on the outside of our hotel room windows (we check the other rooms and we were the only one). So we raised to temperature a little to avoid suspicion…

    Written By: Gary on January 3, 2007 No Comment

    lower fallsSo we took a walk up to the lower waterfalls which were really small but were nice to swim in. It was just up the street and was pretty easy to get to. I’ll have pictures later, but the bandwidth here is very slow (it’s all dial-up).

    Cr-Montezumafalls-2003Then we decided to hike it up to the bigger falls. This really was a hike but worth it. The falls were at least a hundred feet high (I’ll see if I can get a real number) and there was pond to swim and jump into from the surrounding rocks. You could also climb up on the rocks and get behind the falls and jump out through them. It’s really hard to swim around since the falls are generating current and huge amounts of spray and the closer you get you can feel the pressure(?) of the water impacting on the pond as you (try to) breathe.

    Cr-Montezumafalls-1963It was a blast! I jumped off the rocks a few times and through the water fall multiple times too (Mark did no jumping). One of the thumbnails links to a photo of me diving in from top the rocks (not all the way up!) click for larger images of all the photos.

    The we decided to climb up to the top of the waterfalls This was more of a mountain climbing expedition, it was tricky navigating the “trails” and twice I thought I’d lost Mark but he managed to hang on and we continued our quest. Once we we got to the top it turns out we were way above the falls. So then I had to go down two more levels to the top of the falls and then I was at the top, so if anyone took pictures of the falls at the time I was standing right there where the water came over the edge.

    Getting back was another quest, some of it was much harder but it was shorter (and mostly downhill) so we did (eventually)make it back home alive!

    Written By: Gary on January 3, 2007 No Comment

    As we know standards of living varying from place to place and so must our expectations as we travel. Most of these issues don’t apply when staying at a hugh hotel chain, but it never hurts to ask…

  • Air conditioning – Ceiling fans may sound quaint but if that’s all they’re listing then that’s probably all they have.
  • Private bathrooms – This isn’t anything exotic, it just means you don’t share it with any other hotel guests. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, if it’s a nice place then they they probably kkep it nice.
  • Number of beds – You never know how many unless you ask. And if you ask if it has two beds, they will respond with “no” if it has four beds.
  • Television – This is a luxury, but you can’t assume they have it. You also can’t assume they have cable, some areas just don’t have cable.
  • Telephones – Unless it’s a huge hotel many will not have them in in the rooms Iand if they do, rates are out rageous even to us a calling card).
  • Internet – If they say they have Internet it may only be one computer in the office (and it may be dial-up).
  • Water – If you’ve gone for some of the above “luxuries” you probably have hot water (but you never know). The “hot water” is generally some kind of electrical attachment to the shower head. Sometimes looking kinda scary but it heats the water. You can’t really count on too much water pressure; last night there was no pressure (no water) and this morning was the best shower I’ve had in a long time (even in the states).
  • Washcloths – Don’t assume the hotels will have washcloths. And don’t assume that if you have one that ater housekeeping comes that they’ll replace it (I’ve seen this at several places).
  • Hangers – And while there may be a place to hang clothes, there generally isn’t any hangers :)
  • Stay another night – Don’t assume you can stay another night. They may be full or have a reservation for that room. It seem like many places reserve you a specific room and juggling the rooms aroound later is a difficult concept for some.
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    Written By: Gary on January 3, 2007 One Comment

    dancing with fire 3Picture 8So we’re in Montezuma (Costa Rica) now. A great little town on the peninsula (more on that later). We had just kinda given up on the night and were heading back. And there was a group dancing in the street so we started to watch. Then they started using some sticks and some chains with weights and then they lit them on fire. And then they danced around some more. It was very very cool, eventually the crowd was huge. I did run up and get the video camera but I’ll have to put that up later (if it came out).

    The pictures are clickable to get larger images.

    Written By: Gary on January 2, 2007 No Comment

    So wireless Internet connections are limited around here (all of Costa RIca). There are computers at Internet cafes (all over) but most don’t have wireless (WiFi), actually I haven’t seen any cafes with that yet (just a few restaurants). Some are willing to let me plug in my laptop (which is almost as easy as wireless) but many don’t understand the concept. I want to do it this was because I type and pick photos before I ever go to the cafe, I don’t want to sit at the cafe, I just do it when I have a few minutes here and a few minutes here and there (99% of what you read and see is picked and typed already). Then when I get to the cafe I hit send and I just have to wait a few minutes to send/recieve e-mails and post items (photos take longer).

    FYI, Internet is way cheap everywhere here, about 20 colones a minute which is about $2.40 an hour. Some are very slow though…

    Written By: Gary on January 2, 2007 No Comment

    So we needed to stay another night at the Hotel Balcon del Mar and we had to transfer to another room. That was a little trickier than we thought it would be. Checkout is at Noon and checkin is at 2, no one seemed to have the ability to make sure the room we were transferring to was cleaned first and our old room cleaned after we moved. It finally worked out, we just didn’t bother to checkout so when the room was ready we moved. (It worked for us at least).

    Cr Montezuma Jaco BoatSo we got moved from the new wing of the hotel to the old wing. (Just to give you some perspective on the hotel there is probably only 50-60 rooms in the whole place and it’s shaped like an “L”) The old wing definitely needs to be renovated. It’s not awful it’s just not as shiny as the new wing. But I’ll come back, the location and setup works well for me.

    So in a few minutes we’re off to taxi a “Taxi Boat” up the coast to Montezuma, which is on the peninsula on the north pacific side of Costa Rica. I’ve wanted to go to this area for a while now! See the image on how we’ll cut across the ocean to get there. The boat is an hour instead of the many (treacherous) hours driving up the coast, and probably more scenic :)

    Written By: Gary on January 1, 2007 One Comment

    Img 3956So it was crazy here on New Year’s Eve. People all over the beach: camping, parked on the sand, surfing, anything you can think of. Way more people than I’ve ever seen and it just got crazy as the night went on. There didn’t seem to be an organized fireworks, just everyone was launching there own from all over the place. It was all totally unsafe. The one (blurry) picture shows people, cars, music and fireworks all on the beach. It was crazy!

    Img 3900A lot of the restaurants were closed, having private parties and the rest were full. Some of the bars were totally packed (generally the ones that were normally dead) and one was flowing out into the streets.

    We just hung out with the beach madness and watched all the fireworks and (of course) people watched. I went back out later and road the scooter around to see what was going on, but other than a few hot spots, it had died down (a bit) by about one-thirty am. But I could still hear music and fireworks while I was in bed. A lot of people we still on the beach in the morning but it had all cleared out by noon. It looked like great surfing for the people that hung around today though…

    I have two photos here and I’ll post more on my Flicker page.

    Written By: Gary on January 1, 2007 No Comment

    So I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions any more. People generally don’t keep track and they tend to eventually fade away. I found out about the 101 in 1001 list on-line. What you do is make a list of 101 things you want (and can) to do and you have 1001 days to complete the list. They need to be measurable like how many pounds or how many miles you plan to walk per day. This gives you almost three years to complete the items you put on the list. It can be as simple as “taking a warm winter vacation” or “visit Costa Rica again”, or even do “taxes on-time”.

    I’m just bringing it up since it’s that time of year and I’m sure a few of you have already broken a few of the resolutions that you’ve already made. I’ve been doing mine for just over a year and I’ve completed 30%, and I still have 18 months to go. I’m sure I’ll hit 90% (at least 80%) and that’s probably better than the average person does on the old fashion list of resolutions.

    Here’s the link to the originator of the 101 in 1001 list with their rules.

    Written By: Gary on January 1, 2007 No Comment

    So I got too much sun on my arms today! Two hours on the scooter today (we had until 11 am to return them) and they look a little baked. I’m not sure why that happened today and not earlier :(

    I think I’m going to find some cooling/soothing lotion more sooner than later….

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