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August 2008

Written By: Gary on August 29, 2008 No Comment

Here’s a random batch of photos from the past few days in Costa Rica. These mostly have some titles or captions to go with them.

Just an assorted few that I enjoyed and I hope you will too!


 

Written By: Gary on August 29, 2008 No Comment

One of the things I’m doing this trip is attending a seminar by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). They offer this the last Thursday/Friday of every month (but December) for only $65. I’ve had this on my to do list for a while but it just hasn’t worked out previously, it is specifically why I chose now for this trip and not a few weeks later.

It’s pretty much what I hoped for so far a bunch of short little presentations (about nine a day). Of course everyone who does a presentation passes out their contact info, but it really is more of a presentation on the topic, not specifically selling their business (although they’re hoping). The one topic I hoped for, but didn’t really expect, was about working in Costa Rica. We have about 25 people in our group, mostly from US and Canada; mostly retirees or soon to be about five of us weren’t near the retirement range but want to relocate.

FYI: Really good snacks for break: OJ, coffee, some kind of pastry and little crustless sandwiches.

I talked to one of the people, Ray, a few times beforehand via e-mail and telephone before coming and he was very helpful.

I’d definitely recommend this seminar if you are thinking of relocating or retiring to Costa Rica.

I also used these folks for getting my driver’s license.

Written By: Gary on August 28, 2008 No Comment

I have some photos from the ferry ride from Paquera to Puntarenas uploaded.

 


 

Written By: Gary on August 28, 2008 No Comment

The proper name of the hotel is Occidental Torremolinos (Occidental owns a bunch of hotels, but I’m not certain if it’s a “chain” or what) it’s a two floor hotel built in a square (hollow in the center) with an outside pool/hot tub and some tables outside in the middle. It is a nice standard “American” hotel and it’s located just off the edge of a busy area but it’s not too busy by the hotel. The room is standard “Holiday Inn” but with nicer finishing touches it was about $80 for the night.

I walked around last night and my only real complaint is there were too many American chain restaurants (there were a lot of Chinese restaurants but not in one particular area, they were scattered all over) the neighborhood seemed fine. Lots of Internet cafe’s all over the place.

This is a boring review but I always have a hard time deciding where to stay when in big cities and San Jose is pretty big so I thought I’d offer the basics.

Breakfast is free, in a nice dining room, it had juices, fruits, some Kellogg’s cereals, scrambled eggs and some kind of sausages but a bit below a full blown buffet but as included breakfasts go, it was great. Air conditioner, ceiling fan, TV, hair dryer and coffee pot in the room. There was a phone in the room which definitely not standard in the costa areas but I guess I’ve had them downtown and near the airport. The have a few old Windows machines with free Internet off the lobby, but WiFi is $8 a day (I think it’s accessible from the rooms too). Free semi-guarded parking too.

It’s very near the big Parque Metropolitano La Sabana, if you’ve ever seen a map of San Jose it’s the huge park in the middle of town. I haven’t had a chance to go in it yet this trip, I did go in about nine years ago so we’ll see how it changed. I mistakenly stayed in San Jose my first trip, I only say mistakenly in that I just needed to spend the night until friends showed up the next day, but the San Jose airport is not in San Jose (just like the Detroit airport is not in Detroit) I should have stayed neared the airport in that case.

If I had to stay in town I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again (and I decided to stay Friday and leisurely leave on Saturday).

Hotel Occidental Torremolinos
Calle 40 y Avenida 5 bis
San Jose, Costa Rica

Phone: 011 (506) 2 222-5266
Fax: 011 (506) 2 255-3167
San Jose West, San Jose, Costa Rica

Written By: Gary on August 27, 2008 One Comment

So I heard that the ferry from Paquera to Puntarenas was at 12:30 PM and but I also heard 1 PM so I decided I should get there by 12:30 just in case. The ride was taking me a little bit longer than I thought but I knew (unless it was full) I was going to make it. I went a few kilometers past Paquera and I was the only one on the road (everyone had been rushing past me) which made me decide that I went too far so I turned around. A few minutes later I realized I hadn’t gone too far in the first place and that it was too late for the 12:30 boat (the next was at 3 or 4 PM).

So I decided to go there and make sure I knew exactly where it was and get my ticket; then I’d go get lunch and see if there was and Internet access back in town. But when I got to the dock the ferry was still there!!! They must have just recently changed the time to 1 PM since I was one of the last cars on (I had gotten the 1 PM tine from a person, the 12:30 was from a June-December 2008 free travel booklet).

Had I realized that the Paquera Ferry was a location option in my awesome new GPS I’d have gotten there with no problem!! Duh!

FerrypaqueraSo this is how they work the queue, you get in line and they give you a “pass” that says there is room for you and you can get out of the car, buy the ticket and get back in the car (I think it was $13 for me and the car a little more than I thought it would be). When they went up to the car in front of me they must have told him to go around the vehicle in front of him so he starts to back up towards me (my car is parked and off at this point) and I’m beeping the horn like crazy (he had so much room) and he hits the brakes but he still hits me at least it was really slow and there was no damage. It turns out he wasn’t that great of a driver (at least not a stick) he had a heck of a time getting situated on the ferry.

It was the smaller ferry (the other one is way nicer and bigger) but it’s not very busy so there is lots of room in the people area (the car area is packed). It was drizzling on and off but there is (sort of) a cover up top so I’m up there, but I’m really happy it’s not a stormy ride. Looks like there might be sunshine for the end of the ferry ride!

I should get to the San Jose area in daylight so that’s a big plus, maybe even to the hotel. BTW, my hotel is in the GPS so I should not have any problem! I haven’t used the GPS for city driving yet so I can’t wait to try that.

I took some photos, I’ll try to get them posted tomorrow, the batteries are dying on the laptop…

Written By: Gary on August 26, 2008 No Comment

It was a much nicer day today! It was mostly sunny but drizzly on and off but looked stormy so I didn’t want to walk up the the waterfall (a real hike) and get caught in a storm; later I hear the water that you walk next to (through at some parts) were pretty wild so some people turned around and came back, which must have been all the rain from yesterday/last night.

I got to spend some time at walking the beach and relaxing. It was nice to not be running around too much. I just walked for a while and read and talked to some people that I’ve run into more than a few times this trip. I started to go farther up the beach but it started to rain again and since there was a (fancy) hotel on the beach so I popped in there for a deliciou$ lunch (and stayed out of the rain).

I did try to catch the sunset but it just got cloudier and cloudier as I got closer so that was a bust. But on the way I did pick up a couple of guys from Argentina on the road and gave them a lift for a few kilometers they were interesting and spoke great english. Just to be clear, they were from Argentina, not on the road from Argentina

It’s pouring out now but that’s okay since I’m inside and have nothing else to do but grab some dinner and sleep. If it’s nice I’d like to get up early so I can play in Montezuma more before I head to San Jose tomorrow.

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

So this rain is making me a little crazy today. It’s been pouring on and off all day. I’d use it as a day to stay inside and catch up on the internet but it’s satellite and the rain goofs up the signal. So needless to say I’m a little bored today.

It’s to be expected as it is the “green” season but I was just hoping for a little less. Talking with a few German women in my hotel they said this is only one of three really rainy days that they’ve had and they’ve been here six months.

Although, it’s coming down insane right now and I’m in this restaurant with no walls and it’s really nice with all the rain noise and seeing the rain pouring over the edges of the roof. It’s not bright enough in most of the restaurants to read while you wait but the laptop lights itself so while it’s geeky it’s practical. Although a zip-lock bag would be more practical than the vinyl backpack I brought it here in…

I did get a chance to use faster Internet in Cabano today but it was so warm inside I didn’t stay too long or else I could have hung out there longer. I did use the internet to make a few phone calls and Mom was on-line so I got to video conference with her; for some reason it’s way more exciting to video-conference from Costa Rica than from 30 miles away.

With the rain it was too cloudy to go catch the sunset in Manzanillo, maybe tomorrow (I’ll probably go there and eat even if it’s raining).

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

So Chico’s Bar and Resturant has the best Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce and it come with a small bowl of parmesan cheese. They were too busy saturday night and the restaurant wasn’t open when I came by yesterday so I wanted to get a chance to eat this again.

Again? Yes, I had this last trip and loved it. We actually saw the waiter eating it at a different restaurant and it looked so good and he looked like he was really enjoying it so much Mark & I both tried to order it so he had to confess it was from down the street. So we came here a few days later to try it out ourselves. That’s not how I usually get my restaurant recommendations but it worked.

I guess it’s like the old barbershop brain-teaser: “There are two barbers in town, one has a great haircut and one has a bas one. Who do you go to get your hair cut at?” And you need to say “the one with the bad haircut, because he’s the one who cut the other barber’s hair (the one with the good cut)”.

I just wished they had Fresca in a glass bottle instead of the can; I really like drinking out of a cold bottle…

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

One of the bad things about Montezuma is it’s on the east side of the peninsula so you don’t get any sunsets. So last night I dashed over to Mal Pais to catch the sunset; remember when I say “dashed” it might mean 5 miles an hours over some of the treacherous roads. But I was in a hurry because I couldn’t get them to bring me my “la quinta” (the check) where I had a late lunch (going faster didn’t help settle my meal).

Here’s a dozen photos of the Mal Pais Sunset.

The below map should show you where Mal Pais is. It’s near the bottom of the peninsula; you can click the “-” to zoom out an see where that fits in to the rest of the country (world). You can see Montezuma to the right and above it a little.

View Larger Map

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 4 Comments

So I tried to open a bank account today. Why? Because bank access in the southern Nicoya peninsula is very limited and the one bank they do have never lets me use my ATM so I thought an account might be useful. I was just thinking a few hundred dollars for emergencies and then it would be established already or if I needed money wired here a bank account would be handy (I could wire it to myself from the US while I was here, I checked with my Michigan bank on this already). I had e-mailed the Costa Rican bank (Banco Nacional) a week or two ago about this, but never got a response.

So I waited and waited and then finally I got to to wait some more. Then I asked at a different desk, because if I don’t have what I need, I don’t need to be waiting and got a very helpful guy whose english was good enough for us to figure it out. Turns out I need

  • a passport,
  • a local address / phone,
  • a few letters of refererence from other banking institutions (these made me feel like I was living in older times); they said a hotel would do for the address/phone but some coordination would have to be done since they wanted proof (like a utility bill) but what I was asking for was not unheard of,
  • a minimum deposit was $10 (obviously for emergencies that was much less than I planned).

    So I’ll get some letters from the bank and be ready to take care of these when I need to.

  • Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

    It was raining so hard this morning it woke me up but I think part of that was due to the noisy roof of where I’m at. It’s beautiful outside now and the early rain will help keep all the dust down. I want to go for a ride and it’s so much nicer with the windows down but the dust really ruins the ride.

    I just had breakfast in an open air restaurant down by the water. It’s a nice place but they’re really slow on the service at this place but that let me monopolize their table a little more :)

    I’m going to head over to Cabano (a central town in the lower part of the peninsula) and run some errands and then over to a restaurant on the beach in Manzanillo for dinner and catch the sunset.m

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    Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 No Comment

    So my “D” was a little crooked on my MacBook the other day so I pressed it down and it snapped back into place and has been fine. Today when I opened the lid the key just feel off and I can’t get it to snap back on.

    I can type on the missing part. It’s just annoying and I’m afraid I’ll lose the key before I can get it back on.

    While I love my white plastic MacBook it just hasn’t held up as well as my old plastic iBook. I used to beat that old iBook up and never had any problems. In addition to the “D” key I’ve got a few cracks around the seam that I have no idea when/where they came from.

    Written By: Gary on August 24, 2008 One Comment

    Montezuma-Beach-Pict2568The weather was amazing all day. Sunny and warm but very humid. We didn’t get any afternoon rain at all.

    But, regardless of the wonderful weather, the first thing I did this morning was find a new hotel, the other one wasn’t that great but I was too tired to look around any more last night (I did check two others that were full). I found one that is nicer and cheaper, $30 a night which includes A/C and hot water. Don’t laugh at the “A/C and hot water comment”, some hotels have 4 prices based on which combination that you would like. As long as I sleep okay here, I think I’ll stay here until I have to go to San Jose on Wednesday.

    Picture 14So after I moved I went up to the waterfalls which was a little more exciting than usual, with all the rain the current was really flowing. When I got up there to swim it was pretty quiet (in terms of people) the the falls were raging with all the extra water. I tried swimming but the current was too much for me, I’m not that great of a swimmer and certainly out of practice. Hung out there for a while, for as dead as it was when I got there, I think it got the busiest I’ve even seen it. Not the best picture of me, but it’s the only one I have of me so far.

    So since I didn’t wear myself out swimming I decided to hike it up to the upper falls. Another difference because of the rain a few recent downed trees and lots of mud. But I got up there just fine. Unfortunately, right when I got up top I dropped my bottle of gatorade! So that meant I really had to ration my other bottle of water on the way back; I usually take 3 bottles total (of water or gatorade) I was so thirsty on the way down but I made it. It fell pretty far and I’ve climb that part before (to get to the lower fall of the upper falls) but where I usually climb had loads of water running down it.

    Here’s the cRaZy spot where you have to climb down to the upper falls. This is while I was halfway down rope looking down and looking up (fuzzy), it’s really not as bad as it looks :)

    Park-Ocean-Viewfile0088Stats according to my GPS: I climbed from 97 feet altitude to 572 feet, but I actually ascended over 600 feet and it was a total of 4 miles for the round trip. (But now I need to go double-check since none of that was meters or miles and I thought I had all that switched to metric; I’m certain it was “feet”, maybe it was 4 kilometers?)

    All photos should be clickable for a larger version (but not very large, the ‘net is really slow here).

    Written By: Gary on August 24, 2008 No Comment

    For some reason I was really thinking Costa Rica was only an hour off from Michigan right now. It’s actually two hours off so that might my flight feel much much longer since I had it in my head wrong.

    Not the most exciting thing to tell you, but I keep noticing my clock on the computer is off by 2 hours so maybe this will stop me from thinking about it…

    Written By: Gary on August 24, 2008 No Comment

    I left for the Airport before 6 am and didn’t get here until 7:15 pm (9:15 my time); that’s factoring car rental time and immigration and a short stop for lunch (no other real stops) so it was a long day. I ended up renting a car because it was cheaper to rent for five days than to take a taxi and it was WAY too hot to try public transportation (taxi then bus then taxi then ferry then another 2 buses or a taxi) and I couldn’t find any kind of shuttles. I rented some little wind up 4×4 which ran really well for me. I really didn’t think the drive would be that long from the airport but it was.

    The view was beautiful for the start of the ride. But while it was great out I knew from the clouds the afternoon showers would be starting. After a while it started to rain so I thought it’d be a good time to stop for lunch since it might be a while before the next town (especially since I was starving). But then after I got back on the road it poured for a really really long time. I wasn’t concerned about the rain affecting my driving, I was worried about the road farther up ahead. I was afraid the road might get washed out on the stretch that kind of separates the lower and upper sections of the Nicoya Peninsula (between Narango and Paquera) they’re actually in different providences (or something like that). The roads weren’t too bad when I got up there, but remember my expectations were it would be “washed out” so it was still pretty bad, didn’t have to drive through any actual rivers this time (yet!).

    The sun set around 6 PM (5:54 at this location according to my trusty GPS) so I drove the last 75 minutes in the dark but it was mostly paved so the night driving wasn’t so bad but the last 4 miles were awful (as always). The rain really slowed down my total drive but I think that way isn’t optimum even if it was sunny, the other airport (San Jose) is better for Montezuma.

    I did get to see some really great scenery earlier in the day :)

    Town was really hopping, the bar they always say is the hot spot (Chico’s) was packed. But I was so pooped from my long day I went to be early…

    Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 2 Comments

    So my Mom got me an early birthday present, it’s a portable Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS. This has been on my Costa Rica to do list so she asked me what I wanted at just the right time. Obviously, it’s a specific model I picked out for her and it’s been great the little bit of time I’ve played with it this past week. It’s got the color display, the compass (this is an extra) and the memory chip expansion. It’s a whole lot easier to us than I expected it was almost Apple-ish in it’s use, but there are too many buttons (it’d need a touch screen to make it a little more intuitive).

    As of right now it’s telling me we’re at 7,284 feet and traveling at 527 miles per hour (we’re somewhere south of Cuba). That’s seems a little low to me (I thought they didn’t let us use electronics until 10,000 or 15,000 feet) but maybe it’s having a hard time tracking out the window of the plane (but that’s not really my area either). I’ll be sure to upload some of the tracking info later superimposed on a map. I’ve always been into maps so it’s a fun gadget for me.

    I wanted it for Costa Rica for a few reasons:

  • the signage for the roads are awful and since some of the roads are so bad you don’t want to backtrack unless you have to.
  • When I’m hiking I’d really like to know how far I’ve wandered away from civilization and have a better idea if I’m walking in circles.
  • Maps here aren’t the greatest so maybe one of the Points Of Interest (POI) will help me find something I’ve been missing.This portable unit only has basic highways and major roads (roads like Telegraph and Michigan) for the US, it’s assumed you’re using this for specifics like hiking any you’re going to buy the topographical maps for it, but it does have exit numbers for the highways and food and gas info for those spots. I think you need to purchase the local maps for turn-by-turn directions but I never got a chance to play with that.

    In anticipation for this trip did purchase the detailed maps for Costa Rica. The unit had very limited details before that upgrade, although I think it still would have helped me orient myself quite a bit. I purchased them from www.NavSatCR.com who does about 3 updates a year and then I can purchase future years for a lot less. They actually sell cheaper 10 day and 30 day versions so if it’s just a one time trip you don’t have to invest as much, but those maps actually stop working after that time frame (I purchased the non-expiring ones). From reading around, the folks at NavSatCR seem to be the place for Costa Rican GPS maps.

    I also purchased a mount for handle bars so if I rent an ATV, scooter or bicycle it’ll help with getting around that way too.

    As I’m wrapping up writing this, we just left the air above the Atlantic Ocean and passed into El Salvador…

  • Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 One Comment

    This was the easiest layover I think I’ve ever had. I needed to go to gate E29 and when I got off the plane I was at E31, right next door! Usually I have to traipse all over the place but I still figured I’d have a long ways to go to get food and convienently there was a great food court around E25-ish. So there was no rushing no running it’s was great. I managed to get McBreakfast, pick up a cold sandwich for the flight and there was free WiFi to do a quick check of my mail.

    And the flight? I have a whole row to myself. Actually, if everyone spread out I think every one could have their own row (out of the back 9 rows there are only 5 of us). The pilot thought it was a little bumpy for a while because of the tropical storm so it was a while before they passed out snacks but I thought it was fine.

    Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 One Comment

    Wow! What a great episode! I watched it for something entertaining and energetic and that wasn’t what I got at all, it was a really really emotional episode. Rodney, the main (very arrogant) genius scientist, had a debilitating disease that that was affecting his mind and they showed the progress of the disease through a series of recordings of what was happening. It was so sad and emotional (not at all what I had planned for) but I thought the acting and the story was great. There were some hysterical parts also so it was just all sad parts.

    It really showed a different side of everyone as they knew their friend was deteriorating and dying. It also let Jewel Staite, who plays the Doctor, have a bigger part in the show. Definitely not a shoot-em-up episode…

    The other twist in the plot was with the emotionless Ronin who knew of a shrine that would allow someone to regain their facilities for a day before they died. He’s just such a tough guy and to see him talk about how it was when he was a kid and took his grandfather there was a completely different side of him.

    Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 No Comment

    I’m always trying to loosen up my shoes when I travel so I decided to wear sandals for this trip. Then I got to security it and remembered why I never where sandals, because you have to take your shoes off (yuk!). Plus, I kept forgetting stuff in my pockets (and then my belt) so I had to go in and out through the scanner a few times stretching the experience out. At least there wasn’t anyone behind me so I wasn’t holding people up.

    The flight to Atlanta wasn’t very full, it looked really full on-line when reserving seats and the staff seemed to think it was going to be full so maybe a connecting flight didn’t make it. I moved seats and I’ve had more than enough space. My connecting flight looks really really empty so I’m hoping for 3 empty seats for a nap, I did not get near enough sleep last night.

    Curbside check-in: They were really pushing for you to just check in at the curb when I confirmed my flight. But they were so slow and it was really humid out so I decided to go inside. As I was heading in I saw a sign that said it was $3 a bag, I thought that was pretty lame to charge us if it’s helping decongest their floor traffic inside, but I guess if the line inside was long and you were running late it’d be worth it.

    Everything has been really smooth so far…

    Written By: Gary on August 19, 2008 2 Comments

    Normally when I travel I like to stay put for a few days (at least a few days) and not keep repacking and moving to another place. I personally don’t find that very relaxing and that’s generally the point of vacationing, IMHO.

    This past spring when we went to Costa Rica we (my friend Mark was with me) didn’t sit still. We moved hotels almost every night and probably saw an additional town or two each day while we traveled. Not exactly my preferred way to travel but that’s because we had a mission for this trip…

    I love the small town Montezuma, located at the south end of the Nicoya Peninsula (just above Cabuya on the map to the right), but the mission was to find some other towns that I might like. I wanted someday to spend a few months in Costa Rica, my concern was that I’d rent a place for a few months and then realize that I liked the next town over since I hadn’t done much exploring from that perspective.

    So we drove around like cRaZy checking out towns and staying different places and checking out different areas to see if there was anything I liked better. Montezuma was still my favorite but it’s definitely more isolated than some of the other towns. Tamarindo was a large town but a lot busier than I was hoping for but it pretty much had everything you need. Samara was a medium to small town that I didn’t get to explore enough. But comparatively Montezuma was a tiny town, but for some reason seems to fit me just right…

    Written By: Gary on August 19, 2008 One Comment

    So the school system in the State of Michigan has an option as part of it’s retirement plan. You can actually “purchase” up to five years of work (called Universal Buy-In) and then then when you have twenty-five years of work into the system it actually counts as thirty so you can retire five years early. Now it’s a convoluted formula based on your age, your maximum salary and how many years you have in the system; so the younger you are and the least you make they cheaper it is. Plus, they’ll take the money out of your check pre-tax dollars so you can get into this deal for as about $35 less every two-weeks (that’s $50 pre-tax). When I got in on the deal the plan was better, now they charge you interest on what you owe, so now you’re better off paying it off fast, before you had to spread it out. (Warning: if you’re bored now, the post really doesn’t get much more interesting. The part in bold near the bottom is the slightly/semi-interesting part that caused me to write this post.)

    Ors logoI recommend this plan* to people who are in the Michigan retirement system and I always mention it to the new teachers at school. The younger you are when you start the cheaper this will be; I don’t want to hear you say you can’t afford it, you can start this at about $17 a week, that’s not that much and it should really pay off in the long run.

    In my case, I didn’t hear about it until I had been in the system for a few years so it wasn’t cheap but since I knew I’d get five extra years of retirement payments so it seemed like a deal to me. I had it spread out evenly over the years I had left so it’s been getting paid down slowly.More details: If you leave the system (aren’t employed for a while by this system) they credit the years you’ve paid for and if you come back they’ll redo the above calculation with you being older, making more, having more years in system and factor in interest. This didn’t sound like such a good deal to me. Also, If you don’t actually work the 25 years, you have to wait until you’re sixty years old and it just increases your payment (or I think you can roll it in to some other kind of retirement).

    So late last year I decided I wanted this paid off work was way too stressful late last year and I felt as if I could quit at any time, so I increased my contribution quit a bit. It wasn’t going very fast so I stopped contributing to my other IRA/403b retirement-type things and put almost all of my check into paying this off (I lived off of savings in the meantime) and eight paychecks later I was done. Hopefully, putting that much in pre-tax doesn’t goof up my exemptions come tax time.

    This allowed me a few different things:

  • I don’t have to make those payments anymore.
  • I could move or take another job and not be concerned about this (if I left and wanted to pay it off it’d be one huge non pre-tax payment).
  • I could leave this retirement system for a few years and come back and this part is already taken care of.

    It was something I didn’t have to worry about anymore. I don’t like payments and since I paid it off it was something I didn’t even need to think about. I don’t even like thinking about payments, my house is really my only thing that I owe money on. Now I need to replenish the savings that I lived off of but that’s different feeling altogether…

    * I’m not a financial consultant nor do I portray one on TV (does anyone?), this is just my own thoughts on this.

  • Written By: Gary on August 19, 2008 No Comment

    So in addition to the 30 Day MobileMe credit from a month ago, they are giving another 60 days of free MobileMe credit.

    My problems have not been too bad during this transition (I don’t use their mail) so I’m getting 90 days total!! Plus they’ve doubled my space (back during the transition) which makes it 20 times the storage what it was a year ago.

    Written By: Gary on August 17, 2008 No Comment

    The Tico Times is the english weekly paper from Costa Rica. For the last eight months I’ve been subscribing to the paper edition of The Tico Times. I’ve mentioned my Tico Times delivery issues before, it usually takes a while to get to Michigan but it’s much easier to read on paper than on the screen (they also offer a PDF subscription).

    I’ve wanted to see what’s going on in the country when I’m not visiting. I’ve been paying attention to opinion pages, letters to the editor, classifieds and more local ads. Of the five times I’ve been there it’s all been in April or between the end of November and beginning of January (and really only covering half-a-dozen different weeks) so I’ve really only seen a portion of the year while there. So I’ve been paying more attention to the non-tourist type articles; when I’m there traveling I’m generally looking more for what’s going on there at that time.

    Written By: Gary on August 17, 2008 One Comment

    I’m about 17 days from needing to complete my 101 in 1001 list, I haven’t been working on it much so it’s time to revisit and cross a few things off. I’ve only completed 52 of my items. Looks like I’ll complete about 6 more. As resolutions go I’m still above average as I’ll have done more than 18 items a year :)

    So I love my 101 list but some things just didn’t get done. I thought I’d have done better. Things I could have done to ensure I accomplished more:

  • Don’t pick bands to make an effort to go see if they might not actually tour.
  • Don’t pick a location to travel to when your interests might change (instead say “visit a country overseas that you haven’t been to before”)
  • Don’t pick something to go to (like SXSW or Burning Man) that doesn’t ever fit the schedule of the job you have.
  • Some items should really be two or three items.
  • Don’t have too many items dependent on other items.
  • Don’t make them too much work and not fun (I think I created some to just fill the list)
  • Don’t pick so many vacation items, you might want to go somewhere else (especially when you consider I’ve gone to Costa Rica 4 times in the same period).
  • Don’t pick such complicated items (do ______ once a year) that should have been separate items

    If I would avoided the above I probably could have easily accomplished anther 20. Some were just are impossible to do based on the items I picked.

    A few items I’ve just recently finally crossed off (but I might have actually done them months ago)
    Take Mom to England
    Get something for my car to integrate my iPod better
    Move somewhere else local?
    Go one week without using any cash
    Change all exterior bulbs in my car

    I’ve got a few that I did make some progress in the right direction so I’ll credit myself a few points. But I’ve got a bunch that didn’t get touched.

  • Written By: Gary on August 16, 2008 One Comment

    So I’ve had thoughts for a plan for Costa Rica, I’ve had it for a while but haven’t specifically verbalized it very much. I think maybe the closest I’ve gotten to verbalizing it is in my 101 in 1001 list, the item that says “Decide if I might actually want to live in Costa Rica” the result has been blank but as the plan proceeds you’ll get the gist of which direction I’m heading…

    A few of these will be long posts and some will be short, some might just refer back to some earlier posts that fit in with “the plan”.

    Written By: Gary on August 15, 2008 No Comment

    I knew Costa Rica didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day that we celebrate in the U.S. but I didn’t know why. It’s celebrated on Assumption Day the day when the Virgin Mary (Jesus’s Mother) was “was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. Antwerp (Belgium) also celebrates Mother’s Day on on August 15th which falls on a Friday this year.

    Written By: Gary on August 15, 2008 One Comment

    I hadn’t been feeling great these past few days and yesterday it got a little worse, I did go in to work but since I’m worse today I’m thinking that wasn’t the best idea. Actually the last seven days have been pretty busy, so not a shocker that it caught up with me. Today I went in for a long morning meeting that I needed/wanted to be there for, but then I headed home.

    I stopped at Bangkok 96 in Dearborn for some great fried rice with chicken, peanuts, shrimp and more in it. It’s delicious but a little spicier than I remembered. That might not have been the best idea…

    A nap will really be nice but unfortunately, I had a lot of fun stuff I wanted to do tonight after work,,,

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    Written By: Gary on August 14, 2008 One Comment

    200808142311So I specifically wanted to mention The Velvet Hour it’s this odd bar with these velvet curtains and candlelight. No baseball hats or cell phones allowed! I was nervous for a minute since I had sandles on, but it was so dark inside I don’t think anyone noticed :)

    It’s the second place we went and we and you could have just walked by because the door is kind of hidden (see photo); it’s not a fancy door I just thought the hidden part was interesting (although the camera flash lights it up good). I’m pretty sure Jen was the one who knew about this place (I think she usually picks out the places). Some of the boys got some Absinthe to drink but the rest of us got a carafe of some house specialty that I really liked but if I recall correctly it was kinda pricey ($90?). Can anyone tell me which one we drank?

    Written By: Gary on August 14, 2008 4 Comments

    So we had a whole crew at Piece Pizza again (we were there two years ago), thirteen people I’m thinking. Mostly people I’d met and a few wonderful new people! Our first photo is a little blurry (but that’s because we were drinking) but it’s got the most people in it. Starting on the left is Kevin and Katie, Suzanne, Mrs. RW and Tori in front. Tori I hadn’t met before but since she brought brownies she was quickly treated like family! Suzanne was another new person and even though she was a non-blogger she was really fun too!

    2008081422162747194003 4773497655 MThis is Robin and Leah at our third location for the evening (we got around). I’ve met Robin before and was thinking I didn’t know who Leah was on-line but I just didn’t remember that I did know, because when I got back to the hotel and turned my computer on, the first thing I saw was her tweeting about being pulled over by the police during her cab ride home.

    As usual Dave made us cool badges to wear and these had a “Piece” theme. Get it? (Guess whose site I stole this badge picture from?) And not only did we have cool buttons too, Piece Pizza gave us some of theirs!

    200808142212Speaking of Dave is it a coincidence that he’s wearing his “Zombies Ate My Brain Shirt” in this zombish looking picture (you really need to click for the full effect). That’s RW sneaking up behind him.

    200808142213That’s Jenny and Mocha Momma whom I’ve both met before but I don’t have a photo of Lynne and Kosh.

    We just ate and drank and chatted and after we ran around to a few other places The Velvet Hour and the Tequila bar where we went a few years ago (name anyone?). It was just a bunch of old and new friends getting together, it seems much simpler than when I have to tell people who I’m going to go see in Chicago. Some of the people didn’t get to stay the whole evening and coincidentally (sadly) some of those were the ones I talked to the least earlier in the evening (I’ll talk to them first next time!).

    Argh, that’s a lot more cutting and pasting than usual. But I think I got everyone and all the names right…

    I didn’t have as many photos as I thought, so maybe I didn’t get all of them recovered (or maybe they were more blurry ones than I thought).

    Written By: Gary on August 13, 2008 2 Comments

    sample Aipteck Chicao photoI thought I lost my photos from Chicago the other day but I purchased the $20 software CardRaider from ecamm and now it’s all better. I download the program, it scanned my files and I think it recovered them all (movies and photos). I’ll try and post some tonight post some tomorrow (I forgot I’ve meeting Mom for dinner).

    There are a lot of software programs but most are a lot more expensive. Thanks for the recommendation Dave!!

    Written By: Gary on August 11, 2008 One Comment

    This is kinda cool, I like the map with the Olympic Medal winners marked on it.

    You can click the little tab Picture 10 at the top to just show the map.

    Written By: Gary on August 10, 2008 4 Comments

    I’ve got a very strict process I follow when copying photos from a camera:

  • Lock the memory chip (which I always forget to do).
  • Copy the photos to a computer.
  • If I copy the photos to another device (CD, DVD, FTP, external hard driver) then I delete the files from the memory chip.
  • If I can’t copy them, I move them to a folder on the chip “to delete” so that I know there is a copy somewhere but not a great copy yet (and then I don’t confuse old pictures with new).

    I was in a hurry I wanted to get that stuff done before the train took off, I figured someone would sit next to me since the train is sold out and I wanted to get all the USB SD adaptor and cameras put away.

    The first thing I did was that I moved them to a new folder and then something bad happened. I’m not sure if I tried to drag the new folder to my computer too soon or what but I had to force a reboot and they chip is now goofed. I will be using some recovery software on this. I had just quick reformatted the chip so all the files should be sequential so I’m hopeful.

    I took lots of photos and video while testing this new camera out with the bloggers and while running around Chicago. I’m so bummed. I guess I’ve got 5 hours on the train to see if I can find some software to download to fix it. I do have a few photos I took on my other camera, but none of the DaveCago people are on it and neither are any of the night shots I was taking (after a second look, other than out my hotel room window, I really didn’t take any with the other camera).

    Any Macintosh software suggestions? I have a Windows machine if you have a Windows only suggestion.

  • Written By: Gary on August 9, 2008 3 Comments

    So the guy at the Amtrak station always makes me feel funny when I stop to pick up my tickets the night before (I’ve already pre-paid them) like I should wait until the next day. But I always think I’ll feel rushed in the morning when I do it. And today I did feel rushed and there wasn’t even a line. I’ll just be getting my tickets in advance next time, it’s just not something I need to have to be concerned about (I’d rather get 5 minutes extra sleep).

    They train isn’t too full and I got a seat with power! So that means my laptop is powered and I’m all set for the ride (I can charge my phone as I tether it too).

    There are two little girls and a baby in front of me, so I’ve been pretty entertained by them. Although the older ones are already half-asleep

    The poor woman behind me wants to go to Hammond (Indiana) but I guess this one doesn’t stop there, the next one does so she’s trying to figure out what to do. I always thought these three trains did the same route all three trips. Now that I’ve checked out the Wolverine Wikipedia entry it still seems like it stops there.

    Unfortunately, my return train is already sold out, so that’s gonna be packed. Well, if the last thing I do is roller blade, maybe no one will want to sit next to me :)

    Later: This train is starting to fill up.

    Written By: Gary on August 8, 2008 No Comment

    Davecago3So a bunch of bloggers are getting together tomorrow and I’m going. It’s officially DaveCago 3 which means Dave from Blogography is in town and organizes a get together. So tomorrow evening we’re getting together to have drinks and dinner and drinks and just generally have a great time. I’ve gotten together with some permutation of this group the last two years and I wanted to do it again. I’m not even sure who’s coming, I only know of a few for sure but I’m assuming the group is more like 10-15+ people.

    What else? I’m not sure if anything’s up for Sunday but if not, I’ll have my roller blades because down by the water in Chicago is one of the best places to go blading. I going to try to hit Standing Room Only for my ribs one of the days (it’s not too far from my hotel).

    I’ll be taking the train, because I love the train!! I get too tired if I drive in on the same day to do stuff, the train lets me go in the morning and be awake the rest of the day (and also lets me be semi-productive for those five hours). If only I could take my bicycle on this stretch of the train, I really like having my bike in Chicago (you can really cover some ground).

    Written By: Gary on August 8, 2008 No Comment

    11250188 155 155Every day RCA has a free song download. Today it’s Blame is a Killer by Amy Ray (one-half of Indigo Girls fame). Just thought you should know…

    Written By: Gary on August 7, 2008 No Comment

    As I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan at all. But I just noticed on my AppleTV the new HD movie preview for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” so I watched it.

    and I was very surprised when it gave me chills…

    You can watch the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince preview, but you’ll have to wait until November 21st for the rest. Be sure to pick the HD version if you have the processing power.

    Written By: Gary on August 7, 2008 No Comment

    I thought this was hysterical. I think I saw it in the movie theatre once before…

    Here’s the direct link to Cell Phone Karma at YouTube

    Written By: Gary on August 6, 2008 No Comment

    It might have been longer (an hour or more), I just know it wasn’t any shorter than that. While I really needed the sleep. It’s really cut into my to do list for the day.

    And once again I lost the lottery and while it was only a meager $45 million, it certainly would have helped with some of those to do list items…

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    Written By: Gary on August 2, 2008 2 Comments

    61Qqzivjx9L. Sl500 Aa280 Okay, so I’m not a big fan of “I Kissed a Boy” but I’ve seen it so often at the thetop of the iTunes store charts I thought I would mention this sale: Katy Perry’s MP3 album One Of The Boys is only $2 for today only at Amazon in 256kbps MP3 format and it has the “I Kissed a Boy” song on it. So it’s a deal if you like her or this song…

    I’m not even sure what else she plays but this seemed like a great deal so I thought I’d mention it. Usually their $2 or $3 deals are much older albums.

    THIS DEAL IS NOW OVER AND IS BACK TO IT’S REGULAR PRICE.As of Sunday at noon (EST) it’s still listed as on-sale.

    Written By: Gary on August 2, 2008 One Comment

    800Px-Tiger Stadium DemolitionI had posted that comment on Tiger Stadium last night from my mobile right after seeing the building. They had guards posted, Im assuming this is so that people didn’t come by and pick up souvenirs. Seems kind of funny they need to dispose of the building, they’ll pay for disposal but people would probably take a chunk of it away for free.

    I do understand there would be insurance issues but it just seems like they could make it an money-making adventure. You’d have to purchase a $25 commemorative hardhat (shaped like a Tiger’s baseball cap) and it’s $50 a pound of whatever you carry out. The building would be gone in days. They could have even stated it before there was rubble (or even keep you at the other end of the lot).

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

    Later: Someone at lunch just mentioned that they stopped demolition, which explains why the above photo doesn’t look much different than it did last night.

    Written By: Gary on August 1, 2008 2 Comments

    I’m not a big sports fan but I just drove by Tiger Stadium and they’ve started tearing it down already. It made me kinda sad…

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