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November 2008

Written By: Gary on November 30, 2008 No Comment

At Flowing Data they posted a great flowchart on the current financial crisis (it’s way to big to reproduce here. Informative and easy to follow.

I think they got it from here.

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Written By: Gary on November 30, 2008 No Comment

Just some photos of some of my meals from the lower Nicoya Peninsula. I thought they looked and/or tasted nice.

Sesame Chicken
Sesame Chicken (Chicken dipped in Lime and Honey and rolled in sesame). La Narango resurant in Montezuma, Costa Rica. $7.50-ish

Big breakfast
Big breakfast from the Soda Monte Sol in Montezuma, Costa Rica (2200 colones, just under $4). There is cheese in them Scrambled eggs! Server very fast!

Camaron y arroz
Shrimp and Rice (Camarón y arroz) from a place in Cobano, Costa Rica (right next to the “big” grocery store). It was delicious, had lots of shrimp and it was cheap ($5 if I recall correctly).

Written By: Gary on November 29, 2008 No Comment

So Cobano is a nearby town of Montezuma it’s about 7 km away. It’s kind of the centralized place for the bus transfers, a few more restaurants, way faster Internet and some larger stores. Also it’s the nearest bank, ATM, pharmacy, gas station, hardware store, appliances, bicycles, etc. Even with all that, it’s pretty small. I was waiting for the bus the other day and shot this time lapse footage of the main intersection.

Here’s the direct link to the above video.

I also shot this photo of the sky as the sun was setting. I thought the colors were great!

Cobano-Img 0611-1

I wish I had a few more photos from around town…

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 No Comment

dial up internetIt’s a great ad, but I’m wondering if everyone looking at it knows what the dial is for? Click for the full ad.

When I talk to younger kids at school they don’t actually know what “dial” means since all their phones have buttons. Sometimes I’ll find a kid who says their grandparents have a phone like that (actually they usually say “Grandma”).

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 One Comment

In my opinion, you don’t wear mismatched socks and you shouldn’t wear mismatched bikini tops and bottoms. It’s just weird. A swirl of a dozen colors on the bottoms and then the top is a solid color (“but the blue in it matches the blue on the bottoms”) just doesn’t cut it for me. I wouldn’t wear a blue sock and a white gym sock with a blue stripe and say they match because they both have blue. They do sell these things in pairs, don’t they? I don’t have much fashion sense but my socks do match.

Did you lose your top and had to substitute a bottom from a different pair? Or lose the bottoms? Couldn’t find both pieces in your size but bought the one part because it was cute? These aren’t serious questions but when I get too much of the hot sun I start to come up with bizzaro blog post topics.

The exceptions might be Christmas (red and green) or Halloween (black and orange) or Homecoming (school colors) or something similar, but statistically you wouldn’t be wearing a bikini on those days. But since obviously this rule would also include lingerie you can also use the holiday mismatch exemption for that (at least I hope it’s obvious).

I guess if I wasn’t traveling alone I’d have someone to vent about these important issues with.

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 No Comment

So riding the bus in Costa Rica is cheap and it’ll take you anywhere. The problem is figuring out when the bus is going to be running.

In the bigger cities this doesn’t appear to be a problem, if you miss a bus another one will be by soon and if it’s not the right bus it’s still heading in the correct direction, just hop on. In the more remote areas (such as Montezuma) they probably don’t come more than every two hours so if you miss the bus it’s a pain.

The people closest to the bus stop seem to have the most reliable information. Restaurants and internet cafes have it written down, but they wrote it down ages ago. My trickiest problem is asking “when is the next bus?” and they tell me “it’s in 20 minutes” but that’s too soon for me so I try to find out about the bus after that and it’s no good; I have to come back in 25 minutes and ask again to get the info for the bus after that :)

The appears to be no schedule posted, even at the bus station in Cobano (a central town in the lower Nicoya Peninsula). I did notice the bus that goes from Montezuma to Cabuya to the National Reserve does have a schedule taped to the window (4 trips a day) with pricing and everything; as an added bonus, it generally seemed to be leaving Montezuma at the correct time! More info below.

Pricing is cheap though. In San Jose I took a bus for about 150 colones (28 cents) but honestly I don’t know far that would have taken me, it was in front of me heading the right way and it kept going once I got off. In Montezuma, it’s 300 colones (55 cents) to go to Cobano which is 7 km. away (a very hilly/dusty walk).

You can get a direct bus all the way to San Jose from Montezuma, but you might not get a seat and there isn’t any A/C but I think you can do it for about $8-ish (maybe $10 including the ferry ride). CORRECTION: The direct bus does have air conditioning; if the directo bus in Montezuma does not have A/C, when you switch onto the directo in Cobano that one has A/C (and little controllable vents like on an airplane), I’ve taken it three different times now and it is an excellent value (it seems like it will stop at the SJO Airport [you must ask/tell them!] or San Jose at the Coca Cola bus terminal (updated March 2012; I think I paid just under $14 and that included the ferry ride). Montezuma to Cabuya to the National Reserve info: When I saw the schedule it said 600 colones to the Reserva and 500 colones to Cabuya (just over or under a $1.00). It leaves Cabuya for Montezuma at 7:20 am, 9:20 am, 1:20 pm and 3:20 pm (not sure what time it actually leaves the park). It leaves Montezuma for Cabuya at 8 am, 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm. Obviously they get a long lunch hour or maybe it doubles as a school bus? (These times and prices are from November 2008).

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 No Comment

Just me getting into the water and climbing the big rock in the background and jumping into the water. Nothing ultra-exciting but should give an idea of the pool and jumping area…

I’m not the first person you see. I’m the guy who walks in front of the camera a few seconds into the video (and gets in). There is a larger version of the video if you go to the direct link (below). It’s not the best quality, it must have lost something in the encoding to YouTube :(


Here’s the direct link to the video of me.

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 2 Comments

So I think part of what makes Costa Rica (and other places I’ve traveled to in the world) so interesting to me is the learning that’s going on. Just going into a restaurant is a new experience, almost like when your parents let you order your own food for the first time. And many other basic things becomes a learning experience.

In Costa Rica if you don’t ask for the check (la quintaff cuenta) they’ll never bring it to your table. In England, in a pub, you have to go up to the bar in order to get drinks or food and many places will let you sit until you figure it out. It’s part of the fun at least to me it is.

When I travel, I don’t just want the sights, I want the learning that goes with it. I’ll hit the local places off the beaten path specifically to figure things like that out. In Costa Rica, taking the bus (the bus another post to come) or getting a driver’s license is an experience that lets you figure out how things work in that country. I find all those parts particularly interesting and enjoyable…

UPDATE: Usually, I don’t update a post as much as I’m about to…
But I’m reading a Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson, a humourous book about traveling in Europe. And he said.

Bill Bryson Quote

And I just thought that kind of exactly fit what I was saying a few days ago.

I’m going to change the date on this so it floats up to the top, so if you saw it already, you’ll see it again for the new content…

Written By: Gary on November 28, 2008 No Comment

20081118 Tows Holiday2 284X218Here’s a free Christmas Album sponsored by Oprah.

  • Faith Hill, “Joy to the World” from the album Joy to the World
  • Tony Bennett, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” from the album A Swingin’ Christmas
  • Il Divo, “O Holy Night” from the album The Christmas Collection
  • Josh Groban, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” from the album Noel
  • Brian McKnight, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” from the album I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  • Amy Grant, “O Come All Ye Faithful” from the album The Christms Collection
  • Harry Connick Jr., “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” from the album What a Night! A Christmas Album
  • Aretha Franklin, “Silent Night” from the album This Christmas

    Don’t miss the cover art links too!

    It says it’s only available for 48 hours, but I don’t know when the clock started ticking…

    THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED!

  • Written By: Gary on November 27, 2008 No Comment

    Here’s part two of the video from the waterfall video from last Saturday (Nov. 22, 2008). This is the view from the top of the falls taken a few minutes after the first video. I’ve since learned that the waterfalls are named El Chorro (and the adjacent beach is called Cocolito).


    Here’s the direct link to this waterfalls video (sometimes the embed codes don’t work); be sure to notice that under the right-hand side of the video you can “watch in high quality”.

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2008 No Comment

    Does anyone know where the Official Bus Schedule for Public Busses in Costa Rica is? A million sites list bus schedules but they’re all different (and mostly wrong).

    I understand the busses don’t run on time. But there isn’t any reason for me to be at the bus stop at 11:30 if the bus isn’t until 12:30 (especially if it’s going to be late), it’s certainly not going to leave early.

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2008 No Comment

    While my life has been pretty cRaZy this past year it’s been awesome lately. I’m very happy with most parts of my life and I am looking forward to the future. It’s looking very promising with lots of things to be thankful for :)

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

    On this holiday note, I have no idea what I’m having for dinner today. Probably not turkey since there doesn’t seem to be any in this part of the country :)

    Written By: Gary on November 25, 2008 One Comment

    Haven’t been doing much the last few days. I’ve been experiencing the other Montezuma so I’ve been under the weather. Here’s a few recent photos all from the Montezuma, Costa Rica area.

    Img 0439
    This was my view from where I sat and had my lunch.

    Img 0474
    One of the water outlets to the Pacific Ocean.

    Img 0489
    I always like trying to catch photos of birds flying, but I’m never close enough.

    Img 0526
    A new canyon that I found :)

    Img 0546
    The El Chorro waterfall two hours up the north beach.

    You can’t click to enlarge these, larger versions will probably show up in some other album later…

    Written By: Gary on November 25, 2008 No Comment

    So one of the many sites I read is the Costa Rica Blogger. It’s humorous, has great tips and interesting reads. In particular, today I read a post titled Legal Ages in Costa Rica which lets you know the legal age is for drinking alcohol, buying cigarettes, etc. And related to that he talks about the issue of him trying to get his son into see the latest Batman movie.

    In general it’s a blog about Costa Rica covering all sorts of useful information and humorous anecdotes. For example recently they’ve talked about pricing for a dental cleaning, trips to the national park, cost of living and more…

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    Written By: Gary on November 23, 2008 3 Comments

    So this topic has come up more often lately than usual and as I’ve been approaching the end of my fifth year blogging (with 2000-ish postings) I’ve been thinking about blogging more…

    Thoughts about my blogging habits:Blogging For Dummies Susannah Gardner, Shane Birley

  • Blog posts are a snapshot from the past. It’s what I thought/felt at that moment in time. If my views change weeks or years later, I don’t change that post.
  • I post a very very small percentage of my life.
  • I mostly post about things like entertainment, tech and travel. Which might make me appear to be different things to different people. Superficial, consumer-oriented, a geek or…
  • There are specific areas of my life I don’t blog like: love, work, religion, sex and many more things. These have a huge impact on my life, but I pretty much skip over them.When I post something on-line that’s how I felt at that moment when I posted it. I might have been happy/excited/sad about something but when you’re reading it weeks (or years) later I might not be happy/excited/sad about it any more, I was happy/excited/sad when I posted wrote it. And I might not even been happy/excited/sad when posted it, that might have just been when I wrote it (which might have been days before).

    I only blog the things that I get around to blogging. That might sound silly but it’s such a small fraction of my life that shows up here on the web and there are lots of things that I want to blog but just never get around to it. Some of the stories might get changed (significantly) for ease of explanation. Plus, for every post that I write, there were probably five topics that jotted down as a subject of interest and a few that I wrote a sentence or two but never finished. So even the stuff I think might be bloggable, I’m sure I post <10% of the stuff that I consider posting; that’s not even counting the other 50% of my life that I don’t consider posting). Sometimes I forget what I did or didn’t blog, I’ll write a followup to a post and I’ll get annoyed because I never put the first post on-line (or never finished writing it) so the followup doesn’t make any sense.

    Some people just blog about one thing: baseball, politics, losing weight, money, etc. but they still might mention other things in their life. I’ve got it a bit broader than those examples but it’s still pretty limited as to my overall life. I’ve got some specialized blogs I’ve got more ideas for that I’d like to explore more.

    I don’t blog everything in my life, my main focuses consist of entertainment (books, movies, music + television), technology and travel (and I’ve been trying to post a more photos than usual in my everyday life). Of course, I’ll talk about blogging and myself too. Occasionally I’ll post things about my day, food, family/friends, science, blogging, saving money and other things. It’s pretty rare that I mention work, dating, religion and politics. I generally try not to complain (although I do quite often with restaurants and other customer service issues) and not complaining was something I specifically avoided when I started; I figured the world didn’t need another complainer.

  • Written By: Gary on November 22, 2008 3 Comments

    So here’s a photo of me at the waterfalls North of Montezuma, Costa Rica. The walk to get there is to walk along the beach of the ocean (maybe this is technically the bay?). I’ve since learned that the waterfalls are named El Chorro (and the adjacent beach is called Cocolito).

    Img 0558This was a long hike, about 2 hours each way with stops, snacks and quick swims I was gone about 6 hours. I brought seven bottles of water, gatorade and Fresca (the one bottle of Fresca for when I ate my sandwich) and drank six-and-a-half bottles so I judged that pretty good. Although I cheated and when I was 20 minutes from the hotel I stopped at the Ylang Ylang on the beach and got a mucho frio (very cold) Coca-Cola in a glass bottle (the rest of my drinks were pretty was pretty hot by then) so I still had a 1/2 water and a gatorade; Ylang-Ylang is the last stop on the beach so don’t expect much after that. So my bag kept getting lighter but it felt like it was getting heavier.

    This is a 20-30 foot waterfall there is a waterfall/stream you get to early (after 45 minutes?) that some people think is “the” waterfall but it is not the waterfalls you see here. Here’s the longitude and latitude that my GPS gave me when I got to the final destination this was about 6 km from the center of town as the bird flies (I’m sure I walked farther since it wasn’t close to a direct route, plus it was on the sand and rocks). It’s N 9°41.157′ and W 085°01.530′ or at least that’s what it was about 100 meters away in the shade when I made the marker on my GPS (please note that this is the corrected coordinates as referred to in the comments).

    Here’s some video that I shot when I got there.

    And in case the above embedded video doesn’t work, here’s the direct link to this El Chorro Waterfalls video; be sure to notice that under the right-hand side of the video you can “watch in high quality”.Tips for this hike: Lots of liquids; comfy shoes for water, rocks and sand; some uphill climbing in the woods; take a swim when you get hot; it’s totally deserted so tell someone where you are going. I liked going in the afternoon because as the sun went down it cooled off. Be sure to check when high tide is, you don’t want to get trapped out there. Bring a flashlight, if the sun goes down it gets dark quick. If the beach area looks hard to pass, look for footprints (or horseshoe prints) in the sand since they probably lead to a path in the woods.

    Written By: Gary on November 22, 2008 One Comment

    Img 0455I thought this was funny that someone stuck this sticker on their motorcycle.

     

     

     

    Written By: Gary on November 20, 2008 No Comment

    It’s beautiful here and it’s an awesome day. I’ve been reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” down by the ocean. What a great book!

    But sitting still for that long made me lonely for home, my family and friends.

    And probably a little burnt too :)I’m waiting for some pizza slices to get done and then down to the smaller beach for a slice of that and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola!

    Written By: Gary on November 19, 2008 No Comment

    The power has glitched off and on the last few days. Just for a few seconds generally but it’s enough to turn off the A/C unit in my hotel which kept waking me all night long when it kept kicking off…

    Today we lost it for a few hours but it eventually came back on. But it’s always a worry that it might not come back on (most hotels with A/C don’t have windows that will open) that means no A/C and no hot water (it’s electric).

    Boring post, but that was out of the ordinary part of today…

    I hiked up to the waterfalls too! It’s such a nice view!! But since I do this almost every day it’s really not out of the ordinary any more :)

    Written By: Gary on November 19, 2008 One Comment

    Here’s a video of the fire dancing from the other day in Montezuma.

    And (of course) the direct YouTube link.

    Written By: Gary on November 18, 2008 No Comment

    I meant to post this earlier when I posted some photos of San Jose, but it looks like it got cut off (I’m not sure if it that it was never there or I just recently deleted it or that it was never there). Sorry if it’s a rerun!


    If the embedded video doesn’t work, here’s the direct link! From the direct link you can watch it in High Quality (just under the right hand side of the movie).

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2008 No Comment

    So I “needed” to go to Cobano today. They have “real” internet! It’s really fast but I had to get there and come back. It’s only about 5 miles so I needed transport. I planned to take the public bus. As I went downstairs at my hotel to check on the times I saw the owner leaving to take Roger (another guest) to the local airport. So I hopped in the car with them, I forgot my Spanish book but otherwise I was good.

    So I spent the afternoon in Cobano. Used the ‘net, ate lunch, walked around used the ‘net some more, ate dinner and tried to catch the 5:30 bus. Turns out it was a 6 PM bus, I had bad info…

    Img 0418 2But the bus was even later. And the locals were getting pretty annoyed about it. It finally showed up at 7:12. For a hyper guy, I’m a pretty good waiter. The problem was that I already finished my book and my laptop was dead by this point so I was pretty bored. But the ride is only 20 or so minutes so at least it was over pretty quick.

    The price was amazing, I’m not sure how much change he gave me back but it was no more than 60 cents for the ride. I could have taken a cab for about 7 or 8 dollars, but that wasn’t the point. It was for the experience…

    I also went to the bank to try to make a withdrawl but that’s another story…

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2008 No Comment

    So I’d really been looking forward to the fire dancing in Montezuma. I haven’t seen it done as much the last few trips and I knew it was on the schedule as entertainment for the Film Festival. It wasn’t the local group that I’ve seen do street shows before but they were excellent. Most had some kind of costumes or makeup on which added to the whole effect.

    It’s hard to capture but I think these turned out pretty good. A few of the ones in the woman in costume I pulled from video I took so the quality might not be so great but I wanted you to see…

    I only show a few photos here, the other dozen are here (including larger versions of them all) or click for the fire dancing slideshow (same photos).

    Picture 11

    Picture 9

    Picture 10

    Written By: Gary on November 15, 2008 2 Comments

    This is a problem!!!

    Someone else dropped something into the river and I made a grab for it an my camera fell out of my pocket. I meant to only leave it in that pocket for a minute when I thought the water might reach my pants pocket and I forgot to move it back. I’m am so bummed…

    The lens was closed, it was under water for just a few seconds, I wiped it off with a dry towel immediately and pulled out the battery. Needless to say I didn’t take any more pictures, I had a few from today of the ocean and monkeys but I bet those are fine. I hope the monkey shots are, I got a monkey (with a baby on it’s back) that managed to snatch a shaker of parmesan from a restaurant and were eating it up in a tree!

    Now the camera, the chip and the battery are in a zip lock bag with some dry rice (to soak up the extra moisture). I’ll leave it for a day or so and see how it is. Kitty litter is supposed to work well too, but I didn’t need a 25 pound bag of it in my tiny room.

    It’s a great camera, I’d definitely recommend the Canon SD1100 with image stabilization. It’s been in my sights for ages and I recently found a great on-line deal for it from Dell (that’s where I bought my SLR Canon camera too).

    I’ll definitely be adding the WP-DC22 Waterproof Case to my wishlist (assuming the camera still works). It’s good for 40 meters underwater (130 feet) and is supposed to also be great for “beach, rain and on the ski slopes”.

    Later: Oops, the waterproof case is more expen$ive than the camera was!!!

    Written By: Gary on November 15, 2008 No Comment

    It was just to be photo ID for a charge card purchase but it was better than pulling out my passport or US driver’s license.

    But I was excited that I got to use it…

    Written By: Gary on November 14, 2008 One Comment

    If your display is set to 1024×768 or larger you should be seeing my new background. That’s a shot from Montezuma up by the waterfalls, I hike up there every day that I can when I’m in town….

    Does it fit okay? Does it load to slow? It’s the first time using an image, so please give me feedback!

    Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 One Comment

    Weather great!

    Internet is extra awful (I guess an actually satellite the good places use are broken). So it’s computer labs sharing two dial-in phone lines.

    Don’t expect much in terms of posts and photos the next few days. But scroll down because I did get a few things posted in the last 24 hours…

    Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 No Comment

    So here’s a few photos from San Jose, Costa Rica.

    Img 0134.Thumb

    Img 0149.Thumb

    Written By: Gary on November 13, 2008 No Comment

    So I scheduled a shuttle bus (a large van) from San Jose to Montezuma. Last night I confirmed all the details:

  • 8:20 pickup at my hotel. I guess they don’t pickup at all, but they pick up at mine.
  • I’m going to Montezuma
  • Approximate arrival time. She said 3 PM, which seemed really late, so I asked how many people were being picked up after me. She said “none” (I double-checked this and was told I was the only one going to Montezuma). I was excited because I would get the front seat, the back seat makes me a little nauseous, especially in Costa Rica.

    Ib LogoThe “Really Good” is their actual motto. I’m not sure if it was originally translated strangely and it stuck or if it’s how they were really rated on a survey or what, but I laugh every time I see their signs…

    They were actually there early. And of course there was someone else on the bus. And we were picking up 3 more people (2 stops). But, it turns out they were going to different places. Here’s the process on how it worked:

  • Pick me up (semi-English speaking guy).
  • 2 stops to pick up others.
  • Stop in Punteraeous and put me on a different shuttle (they were already waiting for me) with 6 others (who were going to get dropped off in Tambor about 10 miles before I was. Driver was non-English speaking guy.
  • Before the ferry boat another Interbus employee squeezes in (semi-English speaking guy).
  • At the ferry boat we all take our luggage off the bus and put it in a not-so-secure area on the boat. (The other bus turned around and went somewhere else with no passengers).
  • On the other side driver grabs a van he left there a few hours before from the people who were going the other way.
  • He drops everyone off at a hotel/resort in Tambor (Hotel Tambor?). Very nice!
  • He drops me off.
  • Ten minutes later I realize I don’t have my GPS, I was playing with it on the ride (an awesome birthday present from my Mom!).
  • After multiple transfers on the hotel phone (with hotel people translating) we realize it’s lying in the gutter next to where we parked when I got dropped off. Oops!

    All in all it was a great value! Only $39 (it’s $150+ for a cab). I didn’t wait anywhere, even the ferry was ready to board when we got there (not sure how long the Tambor people waited for me, but they then would have had to wait for the ferry). Air conditioned vehicles in pretty nice shape (each time I changed busses they got a little more worse for the wear).

    And I think I arrived at around 1:30 (maybe a little sooner). If traffic would have been worse out of San Jose (and it wasn’t great), it probably would have been a lot later since the next ferry probably wouldn’t have been for hours.

  • Written By: Gary on November 12, 2008 No Comment

    This is trickier than it sounds. Imagine trying to open an account in the US without a Social Security card and without a mailing address…

    I got all my paperwork in order:

  • They normally two letters of reference from banks that I normally do business with (seemed very old fashioned to me). I ended up using a letter of reference from a local Costa Rican organization and one letter of reference from a bank. I didn’t think I even needed the letter from my bank (I thought the Costa Rican letter would supersede it) but I was told a few days before my trip I needed it (definitely in conflict to other info I was given); in hindsight I’m not certain I needed it but it’s in my file now.
  • A utility bill, I used one the same as what I was using for my local address.
  • Copies of my passport and entrance stamp page.

    Once I got all that in order I went to the bank, got sent to another building, waited, got walked back to the first building to the person who sent me to the second building. Then I bet I sat at his desk for 90 minutes while he keyed in all sorts of things in the computer kept leaving the office and coming back again. All the while I’m intermittently signing things for the accounts, on-line banking, an ATM card and I think a debit card (built into the ATM card).

    I have to go back for my ATM card and I can’t set up the on-line banking until I have that card. I’ll come back to the bank to pick up the card next week (I had other stuff going on so I didn’t go back for a few weeks and it was all ready). They possibly could have sent it to another branch, but they seemed hesitant, so I wouldn’t chance it (especially since my schedule is a little grey still).

    So now as I see some other branches I’ll do a few tests depositing a check and making a withdrawal to see how it works. Better to know now then when I have an emergency.

    No one could really explain to me if I should open the accounts in Dollars or Colones. Most people said both but couldn’t say why. It seems like I can deposit into either account in either currency and withdraw in either currency also. It’s never seemed to bother my US bank if I withdraw in Dollars or Colones. If I’m in CR, I’m only going to take out Colones (unless maybe I’m at the airport leaving the country…)

  • Written By: Gary on November 12, 2008 No Comment

    I swear I packed it. I thought I saw it when I got here. I’ve searched everywhere and I had to switch rooms so I had to move all my stuff and it never turned up.

    So I broke down today and purchased a new one. It’s larger than the tiny collapsible one that I brought so I’m better off. Of course it hasn’t rained a drop since then, so it’s money well spent!!!

    Written By: Gary on November 12, 2008 No Comment

    Ups-San-Jose-Img 0140I thought the tiny UPS truck was interesting.

    I haven’t seen any other 3 wheeled vehicles this trip.

     

    Written By: Gary on November 11, 2008 5 Comments

    So went to get my driver’s license today. What a bureaucracy! The only plus was that it wasn’t very busy.

    I knew this was going to be a hassle so I hired ARCR (the folks that did the relocation seminar) to take me there and work me through the process, it was $35 well spent. I would have spent that on cab rides alone.

    Here’s the process we took: Crlicence

  • Copied my passport, entrance stamp and US license.
  • Drove to the MOPT (their Department of Motor Vehicles).
  • Walked out of the huge complex and down the street to the Doctor’s office and got a blood type test $10 and then went to a different room for a “medical” for $20 (which consisted of an eye test, blood pressure and some questions).
  • Walked back into the far side of the complex and queued up.
  • Every time someone went in, we all moved down a seat closer to the door.
  • Got approved for a driver’s license for an automobile.
  • Did not get approved for a motorcycle. She didn’t accept the “CY” in my endorsement section was for a motorcycle. Says I’ll have to go to the U.S. Embassy to get a note from them. This was even after I showed her my “International Driver’s Permit” which very clearly identifies me as having a motorcycle endorsement and it’s in Spanish (FYI, Costa Rica does not honor this permit for driving so I can’t bitch too much); if Michigan defined “CY” on the back of the license I’d have been fine.
  • Went downstairs and waited but this time we had a number.
  • This was to get everything keyed in for the license.
  • Walked back to the front of the complex to pay for the license.
  • Walked back to the back of the complex to show the receipt that we paid.
  • Got my picture taken (was allowed to smile), signed the computer tablet and had my fingerprint taken.
  • Waited for a few minutes more and got my license! Good for two years!

    Throughout this process I showed my US license, passport and the copies a million times. At some point in the process they did let us leave to make a copy of the doctor’s medical test (all the way back to the front and down the street to the doctor’s) and then they stamped it certified so I don’t have to get another test ($10).

    The $35 for the escort well spent, especially since I speak barely speak Spanish. But if they had known a little more I could have gotten the paperwork I needed to get the motorcycle endorsement and gotten both. I’ve heard they are making license’s harder for non-residents so maybe I should get it now (I’m assuming they’ll let me renew it even if they change the rules) that was part of my motivation in the first place. I can go back myself but like I said before, if I don’t have a car it’s going to cost that much for cab fare. If I have a car at the end of my trip when I come back to San Jose to leave I’ll do it…

  • Written By: Gary on November 10, 2008 One Comment

    I eat chili with a fork and I like my soup with a regular spoon.

    I just thought you should know…

    Written By: Gary on November 10, 2008 One Comment

    So if you buy one of these at the airport is there any music on it? Is it even fully charged?

    They should come with a sampler? or an audiobook! That’d make for a good impulse buy…

     

    iPod vending machine…‘ uploaded by garylapointe

    Written By: Gary on November 10, 2008 One Comment

    Contrails-Img 0119Wow!!! I was just looking outside the airplane window and and there in the sky were contrails from another plane that must have flown by recently. It looked very cool and I had never seen any from the air before. I hope the pictures came out okay! Yes, I know it doesn’t take much to excite me :)

    Contrails are the cloudy streaks that an airplane sometimes leaves behind in the sky, right? That’s what I saw, even if I got the name wrong.On a side note – I need a good dictionary for my MacBook that doesn’t need me to be on-line to use it. Just a big PDF would work fine. Anyone know of anything semi-recent in the public domain or something? Or if I can purchase one somewhere? Something old enough to have copyright expired probably would not have “contrails” in it…

    Written By: Gary on November 10, 2008 No Comment

    So the first thing I head this morning as the alarm went off was all about the icy roads in the Detroit area. Specifically between me and the airport. Not a good sign, especially since I didn’t have that much extra time allocated since it was a morning flight and I didn’t know about the weather before had. But all was fine, a little slow on the roads but I got the airport fine. The airport was dead, I’ve never seen it so quiet there.Clouds Treo 111008 001

    Got checked in, got me a morning McSandwich and got to my terminal with just a few minutes to spare. Someone took the seat next to mine so I moved to the back row, no reclining but i’ll live. I’ve got an empty spot next to me, an adorable little 8 month old boy on his Mom’s lap that I was pretty excited about, he had been pretty friendly the few times I had run into him. I thought he was going to be a lot of fun but he passed out a few minutes into the flight (boring!).

    It’s beautiful up here in the clouds. We’re just above them and the sun is lighting them up perfectly. Looks like snow, maybe more of how I’d picture it in Antarctica (or some other vast snowy land). My cell phone photos just don’t do it justice at all; should have pulled out the real camera.

    Bonus! They just brought us a bowl of cereal (Total) and a banana, don’t know if I’ve ever gotten that for a non-international flight. I’m a much happier flyer if I’m snacking and staying hydrated, it really makes the flight more comfortable for me. On a side note, I can’t believe the number of people drinking mixed drinks already!

    Written By: Gary on November 5, 2008 One Comment

    Random results thoughts – (these are based on my observations not statistical calculations)

  • Across the nation, most proposal results seemed lean towards pro-choice.
  • Also across the nation, most proposal results seemed to be against any gay/lesbian/non-traditional family units. Even at the cost of allowing children to not be adopted.
  • The medical marijuana use proposals seems to have passed in most places (all?).
  • We still don’t have results for North Carolina (only 14,000 difference in the votes). Although this still won’t make a difference in the end.

    I still don’t think you should be able to vote straight ticket on your ballot. If you really want that, then fill in all those circles by hand. You only vote a few times per year people!

    I also still think the electoral college is weird and electoral votes should be based on the what the people of the state voted not what the winners party. Or just ditch it and have the whole thing based on popular vote. I understand there are reasons not to base it on popular vote, but…

    Final part – The president I voted for won and so did the proposals I picked, I don’t know if that’s happened to me before (but Michigan didn’t have many proposals this year).

  • Written By: Gary on November 5, 2008 No Comment

    I was suprised to get this e-mail a few moments ago…

    Subject: Sold out but more to come
    Date: November 5, 2008 4:46:47 PM GMT-05:00

    2B537D9A-5
    With the announcement of a new president and high voter turnout, this election has proven to be historic on many levels. Due to numerous requests to purchase additional newspapers, more copies of today’s Free Press are being printed and delivered to local retail outlets and select locations in outstate Michigan.
    They will be available Thursday morning.

    It’s just not a typical e-mail that I get from my paper…

    Smart marketing though!

    15 minutes later – I seem to have gotten a second copy of the same message.

    Written By: Gary on November 4, 2008 2 Comments

    Results for the election are interesting. They’ve got Michigan listed as won by Obama, but only 20% of the precincts have reported. Now most of those being waited for are smaller precincts but there is less than a 50,000 vote difference. Does that even count all the mailed in absentee votes?

    A few years ago (in the early days of the Internet) the first time the Michigan government put detailed election results on-line I was the person who put them on-line so I needed to know what time I needed to be available for the uploads. I’m not going to get into particulars (and I’m sure many have changed now) but if I recall correctly, it was way way after the news shows posted their results and after the newspapers printed the results before real tallies were even started. And (if I recall correctly) two of the bigger counties didn’t even get in their totals until the next afternoon.

    And pay attention on sites where you see election results they say things like “Results are based on projections and unofficial returns. Candidates listed in bold indicate projected winner”.

    But these early “results” are generally correct so I guess I can’t complain. But you generally don’t call a sports game until it’s over unless it’s a landslide. From what I’ve been watching (and it’s not much) just in the last 90 minutes McCain has gained about 38 electoral votes (with 7 states still voting and 9 states that haven’t been called yet) so it’s still got a ways to go.

    But if it goes the way Dori predicted we don’t even need the other states votes we just need all the tallies from the precincts that closed by 9PM EST. Just so you know Dori is a computer person, not a political blogger and generally just blogs life and tech (who does occasionally blog political things). FYI – As of 10:30 PM her chart matches all the states we have tallies for so far.

    Written By: Gary on November 4, 2008 No Comment

    I voted today. I walked up there in the wonderful weather we had. There was no line to speak of.

    But there were no stickers. My precinct said they received no stickers.

    It might seem silly but people were really bummed that they didn’t get a sticker…

    Written By: Gary on November 4, 2008 No Comment

    Here’s a cool election result widget from MSNBC.

    Thought it was pretty simple in how it worked. Very Edward Tuft-ish

    Written By: Gary on November 4, 2008 No Comment

    Hey! I just thought of a great new use for the Internet! We could use it to remind people about important things like voting!

    So don’t forget to vote!

    See, isn’t that great idea? (I’m glad I thought of it first)

    Tags: [, ]
    Written By: Gary on November 3, 2008 No Comment

    Wow, these are awesome costumes!

    I found this link over at The FireWire.

    Written By: Gary on November 2, 2008 4 Comments

    The video shows it all.

    Here’s the original Detroit Fox video. Or try here.

    Shouldn’t this be illegal since she’s buying votes?

    Written By: Gary on November 1, 2008 One Comment

    ImagesI see websites and blog posts picking on McCain (and Palin) and Obama. I see lots supporting Obama. But I don’t see many supporting McCain…

    Maybe it’s just the (digital) places that I hang out? Or maybe that just says more about me…

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