Saturday, October 31, 2009

A nice little video for you on this the eve of all the hallows.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Running low on straws (In which I complain. A lot.)

I finally got the ignition fixed on the Purple Hatchback of Loveliness.

Actually, I'm not sure I had mentioned there was anything wrong with it, so wrapped up was I last week in posting pictures from the fair and wishing Steve a happy birthday.

In any case, the ignition suddenly started jamming last Sunday. Whichever key we tried would go in just fine, but wouldn't turn at all, not even enough to turn on the radio or (little detail here) put the car into neutral or anything.

After eleventy dozen tries, it finally did work and we drove it. But when we finished what we were doing and tried to drive home, it happened again.

So I dropped it off at the shop for them to look at on Monday at which time, of course, they inserted the key and started the car "thirty or forty times". I got a bonus "here, show me how you start the car" because, I guess, the first 18 months I had driven the car without ignition incident could have been an anomaly.

Plus, they didn't have the part to replace it anyway, so I asked them to track one down, and then I got in the car and drove to work.

Since the car is parked inside a locked gate both at home and at work, I simply left the key in the ignition all the time, making sure the radio & lights were off, and never had to worry about being able to start the car when I was next ready to drive it.

Of course, I also didn't have to worry about grocery shopping or any other sort of use of the car that didn't involve leaving it behind closed doors.

Funnily enough, the guy at the shop didn't call to tell me how much a new ignition switch would be. Not on Monday anyway. Or on Tuesday or Wednesday. Or Thursday.

So yesterday I stopped by and reminded them that I wanted to know how much the part would cost because I still wanted my car fixed, even if they couldn't replicate the problem. This time they figured maybe I did want to fix my car, and they called me back this morning to let me know that the part could be had, used, for three times what it costs new at any Auto Zone in the States.

But, this isn't the States and sometimes that happens, so we said to go ahead and get the part and I would drop the car off on the way home from work today, which I did.

And I went back to pick it up a couple of hours later and yes, they had replaced the ignition switch. Funnily enough, the one they took out is visibly damaged.

So, I'm a little disgruntled that they didn't follow up when I asked them to find a part I wanted to replace on my car, but I know how it is. Sometimes you're busy and if you don't think the work actually needs to be done, I can see how it would slip by.

But I'm more than a little disgruntled that the guy who did the work smoked in my car, which is disgusting, and somehow installed the switch in such a way that the chime beeps continually any time the door (or the other door, or the trunk) is open, even if the key is two blocks away from the car at the time.

The beeping from the key being left in the car all the time was actually really really annoying, and now it's a permanent feature! (Or at least till we Google it and find out how to fix it, or possibly take it back and make them fix it, or maybe find a new mechanic and get them to fix it...)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seen (not all on the same day)

T-shirt (on a 3 year old):
"Friends Don't Let Friends
Idolize Celebrities"

Part of an ad on a food service truck [in Spanish]:
"Eating beef is good for you"

Bumper sticker on a shiny new Corolla:
"In my dreams I am a Kenyan"

Dealer label on a car:
"His & Hers Auto Sales
Zebulon, NC"

"Don't believe everything you think"

Bumper sticker:
"Non-judgement day is near"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Please accept this baby pygmy hippo in lieu of a post this evening

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can't talk. Busy.

So, remember the Great Hard Drive Meltdown of '09?

I got my new hard drive this week and tonight I'm trying to format, partition and install it. This process is made easier by the fact that I have another computer running right next to it on the desk, and harder by the fact that I'm trying to format and partition a hard drive using a computer that currently has no (functional) hard drive or operating system.

It looks like it might work, but ... okay, this just in. It looks like it might not work.

Anyway, I'll be over here <----, messing with stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Times gone by

San Rafael has gone through a number of iterations of the town fair, and one thing I noticed this time around was that they got the big-name franchise to provide the carnival rides.

This has not always been the case:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The fair's in town

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Steve!

Happy birthday to one of the best people on the whole Internet. Someday I'll make you a real cake, but for now you get another virtual one.

(With thanks and/or apologies to the maker of the original cake)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A "post"

Oh. Well.

I wanted to embed this, but I guess the best I can do is link to it.

We've all seen "quotation marks" used in questionable ways (not least in that accounting software manual I've been reading).

This here is one of the finest collections of such I've ever seen, although you'll be entirely unsurprised to learn that there's an entire "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Really bad" turns out to be a relative term

So, Bob posted this video from our trip, and I posted this photo, which I described as a Really Bad Bridge:

It really is a bad bridge (although not quite as bad as it looks in the video - the structure of it doesn't actually waver and weave as you drive over it), and they're building a new one right next to it, but for now it's the bad one or no beachy beachy for you.

But, it's not that bad a bridge. Not as bad as this other one that my coworkers and I crossed on our way home from the Expo last month - a route Bob and I didn't take on our trip, as it happens.

That other one, a one-lane suspension bridge built in the 1920s, collapsed this morning when a bus went over it.

So not wasting away

You know, it occurred to me that I might rue the day I tried a Margarita, but I thought that if I did, it would have more to do with what else I might have had to eat or drink that day, or how many I might have, or how strong they were.

In fact, I'm rueing the day right now, because I WANT ANOTHER ONE.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do not fret

These are the explicit instructions of the accounting software user manual I was reading today.

Two paragraphs later, it exhorted me to "Be patient... dealing with data exceptions is a process... work your way through the other exception reports before panicking."

And later still, "You cannot lock the 'front door', with the 'back door' open, and leave the kids playing with matches in the basement." (The writer of this manual is inordinately fond of the 'single quotes'.)

Near the end of the section, it actually went so far as to say, "If anything can go wrong, it will!"

That may be a little more honest than it really needs to be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just beachy

Although we didn't plan it that way, so far I've posted most of the photos from our trip, but don't miss Bob's - he's posted a couple of videos and may post some of his own photos as well.

In addition to all the Pretty, I would like to note that we saw Much Wildlife. There were cows (Moo), horses (Neigh), dogs-a-plenty, a cat or two, vultures both current and ex-, hermit crabs, a Giant Killer Attack Toad guarding our door, Pretty White Birds and various and sundry Standard Birds and, almost making up for the Tragic Lack of Monkeys, on the way home we saw four scarlet macaws flying into the jungle treetops across the street from the spot where we stopped to take the first picture in the post below.

Quepos is both smaller and pleasanter (except for that one block on the south side) than I expected it to be. It's touristy, sure, but not in a bad way, and everything you could want is right there in a bitty little town that literally runs about three blocks by four.

Taking advantage of the walking distance of it all, we went out for drinkies the second night and I discovered that I do rather like margaritas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

More pretty

We ended up forgoing the tour because the boat was small and scary looking, but we took the scenic route home to a very purry kitty and, happily, no evidence of kitty wrath. Here are some pictures from the return trip:

Also, remember my dishes?

You can imagine how at home we felt in the hotel room:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just popping in to say: Look! Pretty!

When I checked our route on Google Earth before we left yesterday, I noticed that Costa Rica is very crinkly. And it is. See, look:

I would further like to observe that you never really notice how many cows there are in a place until you're with someone who says "Moo" every time you pass one.

Remember when I went to the Expo last month and said the trip was pretty "in a Romancing The Stone" sort of way? This is what I meant:

The road goes through a national park, in which there are several "Please to be respecting the nature" sorts of signs. This one, interestingly enough, exhorts one not to shoot the lions.

And then you come to a narrow bridge.

And then the oil palm plantations.

And then the Really Bad Bridge.

And then the beach.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Three hour tour

The serendipitous scheduling held true and we are off for Bob And Jen's Excellent Beach Adventure, Now With More Monkeys(TM)!

I hope to find an Internet café and check in tomorrow, but if not, well, you've got each other.

Our Three Hour Tour is Monday morning, so if you don't hear from us after that, try the coconut phone.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If it's true that your eye sees what it expects to see, then what does this say about my expectations?

Okay, this really works better in Spanish because that's where it happened, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

I was driving home today and passed a beauty parlor with a Help Wanted sign in the window. Seems they're looking for a manicurist.

Except, most buildings here have bars on the windows; it's just part of the landscape and they don't really register on a conscious level anymore - it's like seeing doors and not really noticing that they have knobs. They just do.

Anyway, the sign was stuck to the inside of the window, and the bars happened to cover the M and the U. And in Spanish, the first U in "Manicurist" is an I.*

Somehow, it all adds up to a beauty parlor advertising for an Antichrist.

* Okay, it is in English too. I miss Firefox spell check. And my own spelling competence. I think I'll just take a couple days off, maybe hit the beach, see if I like margaritas...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Plans afoot

Through a sudden confluence of serendipitous scheduling, it looks like Bob and I will take our trip to Manuel Antonio this weekend.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the market for a vehicle?

This is an initiative of Vokswagen, and watching it this morning improved my day:

(Via everyone on Facebook. Well, some of them got it from me...)

This is an initiative of Toyota, and watching the video is optional:

(Via Shakesville)

The text bits in the video say:
Want to prank a friend?
It's easy.
Tell us a little about them.
Then pick one of our
to mess with their heads
through personalized
for five straight days
while you sit back and watch it all go down.

Which plays out something like this:

Last year, Amber Duick received a series of nine e-mails from a fictitious character dreamed up by the campaign (complete with a MySpace page). The character told Amber he was coming to stay at her house to avoid the cops, and even sent her a motel bill for $78.92.

I can't fathom how that is even legal, much less something that anyone anywhere thought was a good idea or, unfathomablest of all, a plausible way to sell cars.

Yes, they're being sued.

In other news, the guy who put the slashes after the "http://" in web addresses says he's sorry.
(Also via Facebook)

And, Gabi, here's some info for you.
(Via "The awesome boyfriend who took care of my kids this afternoon without loss of life or limb." I believe that is now his full name.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dear my kids' school: Uncle already

Wow, have a totally fraught day, why don't you?

So it turns out that the pre-registration period for next school year (this one will be over in six weeks) was September 20-25. I'm sure this was on the schedule that was passed out back in January, but that's all we've heard about it. Shockingly enough, not very many parents seem to have contacted the school under their own steam in the September 20-25 period, so now we all get a passive aggressive note sent home that space is limited and would we please let them know if our kids are going to be attending next year.

Now, in theory, sure. We all should have kept up with the calendars and contacted the school to pre-register (a process that involves, in its entirety, the communication of either the word "yes" or the word "no" to the school secretary.) But this is the real world, and beyond that, it's Costa Rica where things change but all the time. I really don't think a quick "remember to let us know" tacked onto one of the other messages they're always sending home would have been amiss.

Then there's the school uniform orders for next year, with no prices listed or due date given, but they still need to know how many of what items we're ordering.

And the always-traumatic recorder. I'd rather not talk about it.

And the homework--a simple drawing--that's somehow the last straw for my usually artistic one.

And the test coming up for the other one and can't I please test her on the parts of the cell? Now? How about now? Maybe now?

And the crowning trauma (this is all a single day's worth, you see): Somehow Robin and two friends missed the call in from recess, and accidentally stayed outside for 30 minutes into class time. Innocent mistake? Selective hearing? Who's to say? But the teacher was Not Amused, and refused to let them back into class when they did show up. They had to sit around outside for the rest of the day, and they each got sent home with a note.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Early to bed

It was pouring rain this morning, which was nice in a stay-snuggled-in-bed sort of way, but did wake me up earlier than usual. Work was quiet because today was a holiday for much of the country, then shopping and cooking and movie-watching and Potter-reading. And then I took the "Which M*A*S*H character are you?" Facebook quiz and got Frank Burns. I think I'ma go to bed and read instead :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When bamboo goes bad

So, it turns out it was the disinfectant after all. It seems the stuff I bought was "Bamboo Grove" flavor, same as what I already had at home, but it was a different brand and a different and much stronger smell.

I went ahead and used it on my bathroom today - in fact, my bathroom is considerably cleaner than usual, because I figured I might as well use up as much as I could.

That was definitely the smell that's been bothering me, but maybe there was also something spilled on the outside of the package or something, because it wasn't exactly the same as the scent that hung around the kitchen for two days.

Anyway, the packaging has been rinsed and thrown out, my half of the disinfectant is mostly used up, and the rest is safely in sport-top water bottles so the smell won't escape.

Thanks for the ideas anyway. Dad, I can't get those US brands here, or not easily anyway. Maybe at the fancy gringo grocery store. There are tons of brands and scents of laundry detergent, but I'm not sure they're really that different, and I don't really recall seeing unscented stuff. I know for sure there's no unscented fabric softener because I looked really hard for that. The Costa Ricans do love their cleaning products and their pretty smells, it seems.

Anyway, I think the actual product I use is fine; it's shopping for it that's become a bit of a minefield.

And Gabi I admit that yours is a fairly logical conclusion, Way no.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Me so sensitive

I seem to have developed an unusual sensitivity to something they use in laundry detergent.

I tried using fabric softener a while back (just to see what the deal was since I've never used it before), and I had to give it up because the stuff irritated my nose and throat so much - not the scent itself, but definitely some chemical they use in it.

And now it's started happening with laundry detergent. Or some laundry detergent at least. I think I mentioned that I bought a bag last week that gave me the same symptoms, to the extent that I had to remove the (unopened) bag from the house and then had to go downstairs and put it in another plastic bag because even from the garage it was strong enough to bother me.

But that was a brand I'd never bought before, and I gave it to the cleaning lady at work and picked up a bag of the kind I've used plenty of times before. I also needed disinfectant, and got a bag of that - again, the same kind we've had on hand right along.

And once again, by the time we got home, one of the two was causing that same burning feeling in my nose and throat. Up close, both cleaning products smell like what I'm used to and don't bother me, but somehow the room was just inundated with the scent that irritates me. It doesn't make sense.

I put the detergent into a plastic container with a lid and threw out the bag it came in, in case it had had a different brand spilled on it. I took the box upstairs and the bothersome smell stayed downstairs. I double-bagged the unopened packet of disinfectant and put it in Bob's laundry room, and still the smell in the kitchen didn't go away.

I can't figure it out. The only other things we brought home in that bag were some toilet paper (unscented) and a newspaper. Now we've thrown away the grocery bag the stuff was brought home in, and wiped down the table. I hope that will do the trick, but I really don't get what's wrong. I did laundry with the new detergent this evening and had no problem.

Not sure what the deal is, but tomorrow I'm cleaning my bathroom with the disinfectant, so assuming there's no problem there, that'll rule out both of the actual products.

Anyone else have experience with this sort of thing? Suggestions?

Friday, October 09, 2009

So that's where they come from

On my way home from work today, I was behind a truck that I believe was delivering supplies for the next Escher print.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thanks everybody!

Well, that makes it unanimous - and confirms what Bob told me to begin with. Not that I didn't believe him; he does know a lot about a lot of things, after all. I just wasn't sure that current trends in women's footwear numbered among them.

And now in return, I am going to pass along a virus I got from an email at work today:

Thou hast just received the Amish Virus. Since we do not have electricity nor computers, thou art on the honor system. Please deletest all of thy files. We thank thee.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Your chance to assist a fashion-impaired friend in need

This may be the first time in my life I've purchased shoes that could conceivably be described as "cute." I just got these:

But in hunter green, and the fabric part is more like suede than the nubby kind pictured. I like them, they were cheap and they're comfortable. But I'm not sure what to do with them.

I mean, I'm down with the whole "put them on your feet" thing. But are these meant to be worn with socks? Without? Do I have to go buy, like, stocking footlets? What do I doooooooo?

In case it matters, they're for work, so I'll be wearing them with jeans, cargo pants and khaki pants. Not, as a rule, all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lunchtime reading

So, the thing about solar technolology is that, while there's new research and cutting-edge stuff going on all the time, the original concepts still hold true, and the simpler systems haven't really changed that much over the years.

Or anyway, so I'm told.

As a result, there are some reference books and magazines around the office that ... well, let's just say they'd be comfortable in the presence of wine and cheese.

Sometimes I forget to bring a book to read, so I poke around the conference room to find something to flip through while I eat my lunch. Given that I'm writing this, and you're reading it, and you're pretty smart and perceptive, I'm sure you've already surmised that today was one of those days.

The magazine was about something sustainable, and it was from 1982. Now, I remember 1982. I don't think of 1982 as the distant past. On the other hand, it has not escaped my notice that people who were born in 1982 are, like, grownups now and stuff. So maybe it was a little while ago.

The teaser on the cover read, "Home Computers: Just how practical?"

It's a whole series of articles, good for any number of lunchtimes' worth of amusement. So far, I've learned that "Most personal computers can hold the equivalent of 16,000 to 48,000 words in their memories."

I'm really looking forward to a section on the next page. The one with the heading, "Are they scary?"

Monday, October 05, 2009

Two years ago today

History was made, and I had a hand in it. Happy blogday, Steve.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rest in Peace

Mercedes Sosa
"The voice of the voiceless ones"
July 9, 1935 - October 4, 2009

Quiet Sunday

So, we stayed in today. The girls played a lot of Club Penguin, we played some cards, Bob and I watched a few episodes of Friends, I made a cake. The cat lost a tooth and the turtle finally resurfaced (with a little encouragement) - the cat finally realized there was A! Live! Creature! That moves! in the tank there, so we moved her back up stairs a couple of days ago. There's no direct sunlight up here, and she expressed her displeasure by burying herself in her pebbles for two days. I finally dug her up and she glared at me.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Well, nobody gave me eggs today the blogging'll be a little more run-of-the-mill.

Still no word on the house up the street, and the landlady wants a month's notice as of the first of any given now that we've paid for October and not given notice, I guess we're here till at least the end of November. (Although in truth, if the other place opens up, we'll snag it even if we're still paying rent here. It'll save us money in the long run and I'm so ready to have the shared space and all that it entails.)

In even more riveting blogging news, I bought a new kind of laundry detergent yesterday and the scent coming from the unopened bag was so strong and irritating I had to take it out of the house. And then I had to go downstairs to the garage, where I had set it on the hood of the car, and wrap it in a plastic bag because it was still bothering me. It's clearly some sort of chemical sensitivity thing, not just the scent, but yow. Guess I'll go back to my orange scented whatever it was. At least that never burned my trachea from three rooms away.

Lessee, what else?

Watched some Muppets with Julia last night. In one sketch, Sandy Duncan sat in a sunset-y country meadow with Kermit and sang "Do you remember/That time of September?" In another one, she pounded seven whiskey sours (no word on why she eschewed the eighth one, which was sitting right there) and had her skirt ripped off by giant purple monsters. While dancing.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nicely surreal

So I'm driving to work this morning, sitting at a major intersection where I sometimes get leaflets for local businesses, or fast food coupons, or asked for spare change (but not by my usual guy), and where I twice saw someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, for what I cannot fathom.

This morning, there were a couple of high school-aged kids up ahead, wearing matching t-shirts and each carrying a shopping basket. When the cars had come to a complete stop, they hastened over and began coming down the line. I assumed they were selling something.

They were not.

When they reached my car they, between them, managed to thrust five packets containing a total of 18 eggs into my hands before wishing me a "Feliz Día del Huevo" - yes, that'd be Happy Egg Day - and moving on to the car behind me.

Now, that in and of itself is awesome enough, but in light of yesterday's post, I would just like to say:

You know what's really good?


You know what's really good with chocolate?


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Amazing discovery

Wow, you know what's really good?


You know what's really good with bacon?


Yeah, I know. But I never really made it before. Turns out there's a reason it's a total classic. Yum.

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