Wednesday, December 31, 2008

366 Eventful days


A year is a long time. And no time at all.

Y'all ready for 2009? I sure am :)

Happy new year, my friends.


You know how I play Spades online? And how Bob is so much better than me and all? Yeah. Turns out "online" is his venue.* I'm just sayin'.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Playing cards

Too busy playing cards to blog. Hand & Foot is a fun game :)

Today in a nutshell: Breakfast with Mom (Panera in remembrance of the First Annual Whateveritwas of Misphit Bloggers), go to Target and fail to find a skateboard. Go to Radio Shack and fail to find a Magic Jack. Go to thrift store and get better clothes (apparently I've been wearing "Mom jeans" - who knew?) Call Radio Shack and fail to find a Magic Jack. Call Radio Shack and find a Magic Jack. Go to Wal-Mart and fail to find a skateboard. Go to Radio Shack and actually purchase Magic Jack. Go to K-Mart and find skateboard. Come home and pack.

Now it's game time. I'm about 1 for 5 at Cranium Conga, but won all the Hand & Foot we've played so far. Yeah, that's one game.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Got me a present

I was technically shopping for the girls' Christmas presents, but I'd just gotten some good news about my bank account (not about its contents, but about the account itself - turns out I'm easy to please) and I thought I deserved a little something.

I'm a little afraid of the Full Monty effect - wherein I hear so many glowing reports of a perfectly good product/production that my expectations are too high and the real thing pales a bit in comparison. But the company actually guarantees that it's better than a broom and a mop. So it must be. Right? Right??

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christina, you might just want to avert your eyes till Wednesday.

Today it's this:

We're not timing ourselves competitively today, but I did set the watch just out of curiosity, and it took us about three hours to get all the land masses and a lot of the other clued pieces done. Now it's pretty much all about the longitude lines.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sandy brought us the only puzzle she's ever given up on. It's this one, just 500 pieces.

We scoff.

And we're starting

...11 minutes: The edge is done. It's a wee little thing.

...1 hour and 20 minutes: We take a break to say goodbye to Dan and Sandy. We're approaching 25%. Dad got eight pieces so far!

...2 hours: One of the half-inch photos in the mosaic is oriented incorrectly. Lisa is thrown, but recovers quickly.

...2 hours and 40 minutes: A solid 80% there, all previously assembled pairs and groups are now integrated into the main puzzle area.

...3 hours: You can look now, Christina. We're done.

Sandy's over. She brought Dan.

We just spent a solid hour and a half swapping stories that tended to start, "She had a cat, and I had a firecracker..."

Friday, December 26, 2008

And a good impression was made by all

Bob drove up to Redacted for lunch with my family this afternoon, then the two of us went on to visit his parents half an hour away.

Bob and Dad swapped packrat parent stories at lunch (with supporting anecdotes from the rest of us) and then I got to show off my madd pressed-board furniture assembly skillz for his parents, with extra points awarded for Teamwork.

But what really sealed the deal was when I successfully executed the "Is that that lady we saw before" over-the-shoulder fake-out at dinner and swiped the best bite of Bob's chocolate pie. That got me an "I knew you'd fit in with our family" from Bob's dad, and may have contributed to the subsequent earning of one (1) hand-knit dishcloth from his mom.

We're all going to get along just fine.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bonus Christmas post

This is the family I'm from:

Mom, doing a crossword puzzle: "What's the word for that little thing at the end of a shoelace?"

Dad and Lisa, sounding bored and without looking up from their books: "Aglet"

Merry Christmas, y'all

It's been a quiet day in Lake Wobegon Redacted. Lots of presents, lots of lying around, lots of turkey. Not a whole lot to report, but I hope your day was as nice.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve update

My Airline Cold may not be going away, but we have discovered that a finely tuned combination of Aleve Sinus and Cold and Wernesgruner beer are in fact a highly effective means of making me feel better, even though I suspect I'm not actually any healthier than I was two hours ago.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Dear Airline Cold:

Thank you for your assistance. Your services are no longer required.

Jennifer Tucker
A Few Choice Words

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just checking in

Back down from the mountains, and tired from the drive. I'm almost over the airline cold - my throat's finally stopped hurting anyway :)

Pictures tomorrow!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post-posting for Sunday

As promised, here are some pictures from the mountains.

This is pretty much what Sunday looked like as the day wore on. I opened the door to take these and then shut it again quick - it was freezing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yes, I know it says it has Internet, but I don't have a laptop for with which to access it

See you in a couple days, y'all. I'll be here if anybody needs me.

I'll post-blog Sunday forya - maybe even some photos. Have a good weekend!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just a quickie

Have the airline cold
Got errands run, tree put up
It's good to be home

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's a good thing it's winter

There are no crayons in my backpack. No peanuts or (in the olden days) drink boxes or little surprise find-a-word gifts, or size 8 sweaters or practically anything.

Is this what travel used to be like? If I wasn't taking my warm fleecy jacket, there'd be nothing to hold the sides of my backpack out. And since Harry Potter 5 doesn't fit in my purse, what would I use as a carry on then?

Seriously. One book. One sewing project. Some money for snacks. This particular aspect of the whole "just when you thought" massacree, doesn't suck.

See y'all in North Carolina!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hey, it's a theory

It's bad luck to start packing more than 12 hours before flight time.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Neenaw neenaw??

Well, it's obviously a nonstandard version (and possibly an early influence on the Barenaked Ladies), but here's the song in my head today:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Have passport, WILL travel

Not that it was really in any doubt anymore, but it does feel good to have the renewed passport in hand.

The US Embassy keeps some very specific hours. They only even answer the phone (for mundane things like passport renewals) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays. And you can only go in to actually do it from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. weekdays.

The renewed passports were supposed to be ready today, and I forgot to call and confirm on Friday, so I didn't go in to pick them up this morning. I did manage to call before leaving work and was told they were there. On the way home, I suddenly remembered that they very generously open the American Citizen Services windows from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Mondays, in addition to their extensive morning schedule. I changed course and got there at 2:55.

I gotta say, you need something done at the Embassy, five minutes before closing time on the only day they have afternoon hours is a pretty good time for it. There were two people waiting and two people being waited on, and my number came up as soon as anyone was free.

Anyway. I guess there's really not a lot of "there" there in this story for the casual reader, but it's a pretty big thing for me, under the circumstances.

Bonus fun fact:
The girls have lined all the current and expired passports up on my desk. Between the three of us, we have nine passports (Julia 2, Robin 3, and me 4) and, if you put the photos in age order, you could almost pass us off as one person.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Phrase of the day

I'm playing with fabric today and the phrase we are working around is: Accidental Accuracy. Bonus extra phrase from an email from DCup: Weird Symmetry.

Yup, that's today.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A partial list

Dear Person who found this blog by Googling the phrase, what kind of things they have in Costa Rica,

In Costa Rica they have things like:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Bunny rabbits
  • Planes
  • Trains
  • Automobiles
  • Kids
  • Grownups
  • Nice people
  • Mean people
  • Death
  • Taxes
Glad to be of help.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feeling miscellaneous

  • Happy biggest full moon of the year, everyone.

  • Relatedly, this is a very cool animation, but takes a while to load.

  • I am so very very ready for a weekend.

  • Relatedly, I only have three more days of work until Christmas vacation! (Christmas? Really? When did that happen?)

  • Our renewed passports are supposed to be ready to pick up on Monday, but I forgot to call and confirm before closing time today. Crossed fingers, everyone!

  • Relatedly, I have not played Spades for [checks watch] ever. Ever since a particular hitch in my travel plans came up and needed to be addressed, at any rate. It is high time to remedy that lack, so if you'll pardon my scanty post, I'm off to start my weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Summer vacation starts this week

So, graduation was last night and report cards were handed out then too:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Any of y'all from Newark?

So, as promised yesterday, today I am excited about my trip.

When I bought the tickets months ago, I picked the least expensive itinerary which, as often happens, takes me way the heck out of my way. In this case, I'll be traveling from Central America to North Carolina by way of Newark. Yeah.

But, whatever. It cost less, and that's what counts with me.

It also has very long layovers. Like, almost five hours on the way up and nearly ten on the way home.

Now that I'll be traveling without the girls, I checked to see if maybe there are earlier flights scheduled that same day, that maybe they'd let me on if I get in early enough. But in both cases, the only other flight leaves just half an hour after I'm scheduled to arrive, so the chances of making it (and of there being space even if I did) are pretty slim.

So, I don't suppose any of you are going to be in the Newark area on December 18 or January 3, are you? And fancy hanging out at the airport?

Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Home for the holidays

I am happy to report that I will be going home for Christmas this year - as planned since, pretty much, last year's trip home.

Not quite as happy to report that I felt the need to consult an attorney to be sure going home for Christmas can't later be held against me.

Bitter? Maybe a little. I'll be excited about the trip starting tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Grandma says hi

Not the one who's still living. (I mean, I'm sure she says "hi" on a regular basis too, but she's not the one I'm presently talking about.)

Grandma Tuck died in 1999, when Robin was just a few weeks old. She (Grandma, not Robin) would have been 99 on her next birthday. When it became clear that she was declining rapidly, I asked Dad to ask her to wait for us so I could take Robin to meet her.

And he did, and she did, and we did, and then she died - I think it was the next day.

Anyway. This isn't actually about her death.

I think she wants to say hi, because the whole time I was cooking dinner this evening, I couldn't get this out of my mind:

I sat next to the Duchess at tea
T'was just as I knew it would be
Her rumblings abdominal
Were simply abominable
And everyone thought it was me

Hi, Grandma!

(And, just to clarify. She's not the Duchess. She's just the one who taught me the limerick.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Here's a song I like

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Settled, once and for all

I imagine life still holds a lot of mysteries when one is ten years old. Other things are discussed, resolved and dispensed with in mere moments.

We had eggs and toast for dinner just now.

True to the pattern of the past week, one of my children is elsewhere this evening, and I have a spare in for the night. Robin and her friend are discussing eggs; specifically, the chicken/egg dilemma.

Robin barely bats an eye. "The egg came first," she says.

I know my role. I ask the standard counter question: "Who laid the egg?"

"Another animal that was almost a chicken, but not quite a chicken, and it laid the egg, and when it hatched, there was the chicken. Evolution."

And there you have it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

There is exactly one clean surface in my house

And it would require more math than I am prepared to implement to track the flow of children in and out of the place over the past few days, or even figure out the average number for any given 24-hour period.

Suffice to say that there was something of a three-way swap last night, and everyone's overtired today.

I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood like this.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Home movies!

Robin wanted a skateboard for her birthday. This is Julia's first encounter with it, and Robin's second:

[Video #1 removed pending further negotiations with the cast]

(My camera doesn't have audio, so just whistle your favorite tune while you watch.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Everything is Art: Froot Loops Edition

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Courtesy of Lisa, this 10-second video was the source of much hilarity this evening. It actually does get better the more times you watch it. For the first six or eight times. Then it sort of levels out, and you're probably best stopping at about twelve. Unless it's someone's birthday and she happens to really really like it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Can't a girl walk around with a cast iron gecko in her purse anymore??

The passport renewals went okay, and should be ready before the trip. Whether anybody's actually going to make the trip is another question, but one issue at a time.

These are the items I had to leave in a padlocked security bag, for retrieval upon leaving Embassy property:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A surfeit of adorableness

We are going to the Embassy to renew the girls' passports tomorrow and one of the things I'm asked to bring is a series of photos that demonstrate that the 7 and 10 year old children I bring in match the 2 and 5 year old children in the old passport pictures.

Here are some of the ones I'm taking:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Placeholder post

Things going on today. Sorry y'all.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday bonus track

I have been informed that today is Van Morrison Friday. Who knew?

I don't know much about Van, but I sure liked the sound of this one.

Unwitting participant

So, I'm not sure it even counts because I'm not avoiding anything particular in Thanksgivingless Costa Rica, but I am pleased to report that I am, accidentally, in full compliance with the tenets of Buy Nothing Day.

Next year, tell me ahead of time and I'll do it on purpose.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Signs of the times

There's not much out there on the Internet today, as most folks are involved with food and football, friends and family - not necessarily in that order.

But the Internet, it is patient, and there when you need it.

Today's hits included three people wondering about the etymology of deviled eggs, and four searching on variants of the phrase "undercooked hard boiled eggs."

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Eat safe.

This song

...has been popping into my head several times a day all week.

I have no idea why.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This is not a Thanksgiving post. But it is a post of thankfulness.

I am a legal permanent resident of Costa Rica. Have been for going on 15 years now. The residence document has to be renewed periodically. There was a time when I renewed for two or thee years at a time, but then that got lost, I think when I spent three years out of the country without renewing. So they put me back to the annual plan.

Mine comes up for renewal in April each year. (That's a key point. April. Remember that.) You can let it slide and renew it late, but it still comes up in April the following year. All in all, I can't complain too much (like that's ever stopped me) - it's nothing like dealing with Green Card issues in the States.

Anyway. In 2006, they switched from these cumbersome little residency booklets that don't fit in your wallet to actual cards - all high tech with a photo and holograms and an unreadable metallic panel on the back - a lot like a US Green Card, in fact. (Which, needless to say, haven't been green for years.)


So, in November 2006 (see above, re: letting it slide), I went in and got my renewal, and my spiffy new card, which expires in April 2007. (Remember that. April 2007.)

Then, not too long after I got mine, Immigration had issues with these spiffy new high-tech cards. Like, they couldn't get the blank cards, or they didn't have enough machines to print them, or something. Plus, as a government bureau, it was, of course, chronically backlogged. So they did an eminently sensible thing.

They gave everyone an automatic one-year renewal, no need to go in. If the card says, as mine does, that it expires on 04/07, then you don't have to go back until 04/08.

Is that not just six kinds of awesome?

So, some of you may have noticed that it's not 04/08 anymore. Yeah, it was an eventful April for me, and I never dealt with it. But now I have a real job and I'm getting ready to take a trip and stuff, and it's time to get the residency up to date.

You're supposed to get an appointment to go in and renew it, but the appointments are given out about three months in advance, and I let it slide too long for that. So I was planning to go in tomorrow - having the day off (yay, Gringo-owned company!) and having learned that Immigration takes walk-ins on Thursdays and Fridays.


This is a process that takes about 4 hours if you have an appointment. If you're going in without one, most people try to get there about two hours before the place even opens. I have an entire day and a 500-page book.


This morning Rita gave me the phone number that you're supposed to call for the appointment - she said the guy at the call center was really helpful when she did hers, and I wanted to find out about what I needed to take with me, and the fees and stuff. She thought he could tell me. And there was even a chance that just having the appointment would be enough for most purposes, and I could skip tomorrow's odyssey.

So I called.

The call center guy, who was as nice as Rita said he would be, asked for my expiration date. (Erm. The expiration date on my card. Not my personal one.) Here's that important part. What's my expiration date? All together now: April 2007.

You know what he said?

He said the first four months of the year got an extra year's grace period. My residence card isn't actually expired. He said, call back in April 2009 and get an appointment.

And all of a sudden, I have a whole day off stretching before me tomorrow.

Thanks, Costa Rica.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Because I said I would

It seems a bit anticlimactic this far into November, but I am duty-bound to report that I heard Christmas music playing in the grocery store for the first time today.

Carry on.

Wait. How can this not have driven me crazy all these years?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The name game

Hey, how bout a meme? Liberties have been taken in the name of fun, expediency, necessity, and for the sheer hell of it. Tag yourself if you're so inclined.

    (Mother’s & father’s middle names)
  2. NASCAR NAME: Jennings Earl
    (First name of mother’s dad, father’s dad)
    (First 2 letters of last name, first 4 letters of first name)
  4. DETECTIVE NAME: The Purple Gecko
    (Favorite color, favorite animal)
  5. SOAP OPERA NAME: Lynne St. Rafael
    (Middle name, city where you live)
  6. SUPERHERO NAME: The Yellow Rock
    (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink)
  7. FLY NAME: Jeer (Fly? Wha...?)
    (First 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)
  8. GANGSTA NAME: Mocha Toll House
    (Favorite ice cream, favorite cookie)
    (Current pet’s name, current street name)
  10. PORN NAME: Tippy Bayside
    (1st pet, street you grew up on)

Oh. I guess some people want credit. This post was brought to you by the letter M, the number 7, and Bob, who tagged me.

Updated Again

Filed under Could Have Been Worse: The Yellow Ice, Tippy Grassy Hill.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shoulder Pads: By Julia

So that's what they're for.

Robin: What are they?
Me: Shoulder pads I took out of a shirt.
Robin: Oh! So they're, like, something old fashioned.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Full circle

He read on the blog that my wedding ring was stolen from the quilt. So, on the way to the lawyer's office yesterday, he gave me his.


Friday, November 21, 2008

5:30 Appointment

Going to see a guy about a divorce.
No, no. It's a good thing.

Wow. And pretty simple, too. I figured we'd mostly just find out what we needed to know at this appointment, and what to do next. But in fact? It's...kind of done. It'll be several months before it goes through all the channels, but there's nothing else either of us has to do. How very humane.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm sorry, I don't seem to have anything to say at the moment. Can I interest you in a three-week-old sunset?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It's just everywhere
A lot of it for the best
Some of it jarring

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You know what don't mix?

Itty-bitty ants and deep-pile microfiber dust rags. That's what don't mix.

And don't look at me like that. They wandered across it and got stuck all by their own itty-bitty selves.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One for K

Feeling the same way
Again and again is hard
Till one day you don't

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making the most of what you have

400 sqft
rearranging furniture
better light this way

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tag-teamed, dagnabbit

I'm not real good about playing along with the memes. Sure, I'll pick one up when it serves me, but I frequently don't respond to tags, and have been known to ignore even the award-y type things.

But, I have had a very quiet day and the one thing I kind of thought about posting was a nice little story about a psychic, but it's not mine to tell.

So with both Steve (Pidomon's Posts) and Gine (Not at ALL What You Thought) on about this award-y thing, I guess I'll go ahead and play.

Says here, there's rules:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends. (Yeah, well. We'll see about that.)
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. (Done did that.)
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award. (Yup.)
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor! (Sure, wev.)
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog. (I hate that part. Why is it always a list of rules?)
Hmmm. Not sure why I sound so grouchy about it. I'm not, really! But I'm also not tagging anybody. If I read your blog (and in some cases where I haven't been back for a while), I already think you're superior :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

That was close


My car's back to normal today. Apparently I was a little slow with the cookie tithing and Greasy did indeed repossess her most excellent repair services.

Good thing, too. I would hate to have missed out on the satisfaction of finally discovering the problem and fixing it after six months of poor gas mileage and sluggish driving. Or, you know. Something like that.

Next up on the List of Things to Try is replacing the fuel filter & cleaning out the fuel lines so, basically, I need to find a guy to blow my car.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shitty thing to do

I made a quilt in July. It came out like this:

I was kind of driven to make it in that way, that design, and it was all symbolic and stuff, of course. That's my wedding ring - recently removed - on the trunk of the tree there.

It was finished just in time and gladly accepted for the show where it was to hang. There were no awards or judging - just a collection of quilts answering the question "Who am I?" in whatever way each artist felt moved to respond.

I got a call from the curator of that show today. They're taking it down and I thought he was going to ask me to pick up my quilt. Well, I can do that too, but he was calling to say that somebody cut the trunk of that tree and stole the ring. And then somehow reassembled the thing which, having made it myself, I don't even know how they would have accomplished that.

What an unutterably shitty thing to do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another victory for the "Ignore it till you can afford it" school of automobile maintenance

Something happened to my car between the time I parked it in the garage last night, and when I backed it out to drive to work this morning. I could feel the difference before I'd driven two car lengths.

My car, for no apparent reason, seems to have...gotten over itself.

For the first time since I bought it (going on six months ago), the car moved forward in direct proportion to how hard I stepped on the gas.

And then there's this other thing, where I'm driving along a flat stretch and don't have to continually accelerate. That was pretty cool. I didn't even realize I was missing out on that one.

I'm a little perplexed, but the car is cordially invited to keep it up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Found the *$@)# recorder

It was behind some books on the shelf. Not the wire frame shelf where I thought I'd seen it last, but the solid particle board shelf that you can't see into unless you're tidying. Good thing I was driven to clean up last night, or it could've sat there for months.

I don't think it was intentionally lost, and I'm quite sure, even if it was, that the losee genuinely didn't remember where it was when we were all searching.

I sure hope the music teacher will let her switch to drums next year (where "next year" = "after Christmas vacation," and therefore "just a few more weeks of music classes till then.") I've had enough of this recorder business.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things I saw at close range on my way to work this morning: A haiku

Bus hits SUV
Little white breath mint rolls west
Guy kicks microwave

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Words I Have Been Asked to Translate Within the Past Week: Another bulleted list

  • Rivet / Remache
  • Lint / Pelusa
  • Platypus / Ornitorrinco
  • Isopropyl alcohol / Alcohol isopropilico
  • Diode / Diodo
  • Coffers / Cofres
  • Roof cap / Cumbrera
  • Slippery / Resbaloso
  • Roller / Rodillo
  • Horcruxes/ Horrocruxes*

Okay, I did have to look that last one up. But, in my defense, I haven't learned it in English yet. (Although I'm clearly about to.)

* Spoiler alert: It's a Harry Potter thing, so read the Wiki article at your own risk.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Guess so

A few minutes ago, I suddenly remembered that I either dreamed about or was woken up by a small earthquake/tremor.

I either lay there remembering or dreamed that I was explaining to someone else that this is the time of year for it - I've had people argue the point with me, but I think the changing of the seasons brings them on. If geological forces are going to be affected by anything, it makes sense to me that major shifts in pressure and weather systems would do it.

Plus, I've never actually looked it up, but I think I've heard and/or observed that this is, anecdotally, when we get the most activity - November-ish and April-ish, when we transition between the rainy & dry seasons.

One of the national universities has a volcanological and seismological observatory (the observation points are all over the country, of course, but the organization itself is actually right here in town), so I looked up their website to see if there was any sort of ongoing or real-time information.

There sure is.

Here's the reading for Heredia, from 6:00 yesterday evening to right now. Apparently I had that dream at approximately 1:44:30 a.m.

Science is cool.

Friday, November 07, 2008

General update: The bulleted list

  • My leaky kitchen is now dry, although it does have a hole in it that looks pretty permanent.

  • My hot water has been re-wired and works fine.

  • My laundry room light fixture was 'sploding bulbs, and I told my landlady. When I came back from out of town to find the rest of the work done, and noticed that one of the kitchen bulbs had been moved to the (previously empty) laundry room socket, I assumed that the switch had been made to test the newly repaired fixture.

  • That was not a sound assumption.

  • Picking shards of broken light bulb out of two-week old dirty laundry - it doesn't get any better than that.

  • The tune up did not fix my car. In fact, if anything I'm getting slightly poorer mileage than before.

  • Even knowing the inevitable result, it is impossible to watch children stir ice cream into a creamy soup without letting them in on the childhood mantra: The more you stir, the more you get. (With its corollary: if you stir long enough, it turns into butter.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

New undertaking

Just like Malia
Harry Potter at bedtime
We're on Chapter Three

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Or, you know. Not.

It was exciting to hear that NC was actually counting absentee and provisional ballots, and I went into the state board of elections website to see how many of us there actually were. There were 3997 overseas votes, which doesn't sound like that many, and is obviously nowhere near enough to turn the thing. I guess that'll come down to the provisional ballots.

It was cool to see real information and even cooler to find a "check the status of your absentee ballot" link.

Yeah. Shouldn't have clicked that.

The ballot I cast was a Federal Write In something or other. It included (in my case) a change of address and a request for a full state absentee ballot. Right there on the same page, in the same envelope. The ballots were sent to the United States through the embassy and, I believe, put into the US mail.

That was five weeks ago, but my address (which, awesome privacy practices, you guys. All I put in was my first & last name and the county I'm registered in, and BAM, there's my [last known] address. No offense, Jennifer Ann Tucker from my same county. I didn't mean to look up your address on the Internet.)

...Where was I? Oh, right. My address still comes up as the apartment I lived in seven years ago, and the site informs me that no absentee ballot request was received.

You know, I never once, in all these years, really truly believed my ballots were getting there, or being counted. Much less making a difference.

But it sucks to know for sure.


IsObamaPresident? [.com]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Maybe it did

So I got them up, but we'll save the sundaes for breakfast. I wasn't going to go whipping cream and miss all the good stuff.

We were watching CNN, and they kept their various stats rotating on the bottom of the screen during the speeches. Robin kept watching for the national map to come up, and commented on North Carolina's ongoing yellow status.

I explained that the votes were very close there, and that they were still counting them, but that Barack Obama was still the winner, either way.

So Robin said, "Maybe they're still counting it because your vote, your vote, made a difference."

Hope and Change, y'all

So, here we go.

We're getting a pizza and watching the returns tonight. And probably having a quick lesson in how the electoral college works. Maybe play with one of those online maps.

The girls already know that there won't be an answer before their bedtime, but that there might be one by morning.

If there's an official Obama victory before I go to bed, I'm waking them up for ice cream sundaes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I did not see this coming

I'm totally sick of the rainy season.

Turns out spending a week and a half 10 miles away on the northern slopes of the mountains that lie to the south of the Central Valley, where the rainy season suddenly up and (for the most part) left the day after I got there, and then returning to my home on the southern slopes of the mountains that lie to the north of the Central Valley, which are all, "Dry season? We don't need no stinkin' dry season!" about it, doesn't give you quite the "Oh, it's coming soon enough, a little more rain won't kill me" attitude you might think.

Especially when you're driving around with a parrot in the car, with the window 1/3 open to accommodate the rim of it, and it never even enters your mind that you'll be crossing climate zones on the way home.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How much weight can YOU support, hanging from just one toe on smooth glass?

The toes of the gecko have attracted a lot of attention, as they adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, without the use of liquids or surface tension.

Recent studies of the spatula tipped setae on gecko footpads demonstrate that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves. Every square millimeter of a gecko's footpad contains about 14,000 hair-like setae. Each seta is in turn tipped with between 100 and 1,000 spatulae.

These van der Waals interactions involve no fluids; in theory, a boot made of synthetic setae would adhere as easily to the surface of the International Space Station as it would to a living room wall, although adhesion varies with humidity and is dramatically reduced under water, suggesting a contribution from capillarity. The setae on the feet of geckos are also self cleaning and will usually remove any clogging dirt within a few steps. Teflon, which is specifically engineered to resist van der Waals forces, is the only known surface to which a gecko cannot stick.

Geckos' toes operate well below their full attractive capabilities for most of the time. If a typical mature 70 g (2.5 oz) gecko had every one of its setae in contact with a surface, it would be capable of holding aloft a weight of 133 kg (290 lb). This means a gecko can support about eight times its weight hanging from just one toe on smooth glass.

And they chirp. What's not to love?

Geckos. They're what's for dinner my new favorite thing.

(Pillaged shamelessly from the Wiki, cause there's cool stuff in there, and dedicated to the extremely cute little gecko [not the one in the photo, which is from another time and place] that hangs out in the kitchen window.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

No, really. Congratulations.

I'd like to congratulate Sen. McCain on this endorsement, because he really earned it. That endorsement didn't come easy. [...] George Bush may be in an undisclosed location now, but Dick Cheney's out there on the campaign trail because he'd be delighted to pass the baton to John McCain. He knows that with John McCain, you get a twofer: George Bush's economic policy and Dick Cheney's foreign policy.

—Senator and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, on the campaign trail this afternoon in Colorado.

(Hat tip to Shakesville)

Friday, October 31, 2008

What would you bid?

This is somehow relevant to Halloween. Right? Sort of? Maybe?

Members of my family, I ask you. Does the one on the right here:

And the one on the left here:

...make you think of anyone? Or is it just me?

Supporting evidence for Halloween relevance: Umm. Ghosts, I guess. Or maybe it's all in my head after all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Think, baby, think

Palin spoke after touring Xunlight Corp., one of a handful of solar technology startup companies in Toledo, a struggling industrial city in this swing state. The city's leaders are hoping that the solar companies will create jobs to replace some of those lost by downsizing in the auto industry.

But Palin made only a passing reference to solar power in her speech and instead renewed her call for more drilling in U.S. coastal waters. She repeated her signature anthem, "drill, baby, drill," which seemed to fall a bit flat on the audience at the plant even as it's become a popular chant at her rallies.

(AP, via Crooks & Liars)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Overall, I'll take today, thanks

So today, (this is as opposed to Monday) I shut down my computer, locked up the office, set the alarm and was just closing the first padlock on the security gate when the phone started ringing inside.

I unlocked the lock, disarmed the alarm, hastened back to my desk, dropped whatever I had in my hand, and got Mr. B. before he finished leaving his message. It was good that I talked to him, 'cause he does have an issue that demands attention.

Then I erased the half-message from the machine, reset the alarm, pulled the gate back down and re-locked the padlock.

...Any guesses as to what was "in my hand" when I ran back in? Yeah.

Fortunately I carry a spare car key in my wallet, I had already opened the padlocks that would allow me to leave the premises, and I still had the house keys on me. I called our installer guy, who will drop the spare office keys off here in the morning.

So then I headed back to the house, stopping, as I did on Monday, at the grocery store. There were no untoward bumper sticker sightings, but it was no golden hour, what with the looming clouds and spitting rain.

(This is not an I'm Sick of the Rainy Season post. It's actually lifting early this year, so even if we get some more heavy rains, the end is in sight.)

The guards in the parking lot were, variously, ignoring or ogling me. The other shoppers seemed preoccupied and in the way. This one guy kept telling his son to shut up (which can actually be said much less harshly in Spanish than in English, but still), and the checkout lady and bagger boy were so deep in conversation about how nobody likes Raul that I couldn't even get him to put all my purchases in a single bag.

Pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists alike were being heedless on the road, and there's a really big hole and an unreasonably steep curb in the middle of the supposedly correct way to get into and out of the grocery store, which isn't accessible from the main street in the direction I travel after work.

...All potentially irritating.

And yet. (Some of) the news items that have come to my attention lately are this:

And this.

And this.

Both of those "this" links are way worth clicking. You really should.

...Balance is good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And today in the best news ever

Please take a moment to join me in wishing the very best to Ralph, his daughter Meredith, and her partner wife (!!) Shannon.

Today in better news

And furthermore

One of the things I was shopping for was breakfast cereal. The various multi-mixed-multiple-muesli-grain cereals are all overpriced and frequently oversweetened, but they're a little luxury I indulge in.

The one I've been buying recently* had a thing where you get a Tai Chi DVD in the box. We ended up with like two each of Levels 1, 2 and 3 of that. Maybe we'll actually watch one someday.

(* It's Kellogg's Komplete. There's another brand called All Inklusive. WTH?)

Another one I like is a German brand that tends to be slightly cheaper than the ones put out by the big US conglomerates, although it's not available in the little corner grocery stores where I often shop.

The grocery store I went to yesterday was larger than the ones I normally frequent, and had a nearly US-sized cereal aisle, so I looked at a couple of additional brands before making my selection. I picked up a box of Nestle Fitness cereal that was on sale and checked the ingredients to make sure it was free of the dreaded aspartame.

You know what is huge business? Marketing products to women because women don't look good enough. I could link every word in this paragraph to a different example. Without trying very hard.

So, this cereal's whole existence revolves around the slogan, "Get it off, keep it off." The back of the box is jam packed with health tips in two languages. You know, things like, "the whole world is a gym" and something about great looking legs. With a close up of the great looking legs, so people (uh, I mean women) whose legs are genetically predisposed to look like that can feel great about their legs (while still buying the cereal to help them out with whatever their problem spots may be, naturally), and the rest of us can buy the cereal thinking that somehow it will change the ... ugh. I didn't really mean to turn this into a rant.

But you either get my drift, or it would take a lot more than I'm prepared to write at the moment (online spades awaits, after all) to convince you.

What I came here to say was, that I don't need that. I'm actually buying this product because I want some calories, some carbs, some protein, some fiber, and a little fat to keep me going till lunch time. I don't need every square inch of its packaging to tell me how much of my day should be spent focusing on how unsatisfactory my body (apparently) is. Actually, I rather like my body.

And with the added issues on my mind yesterday, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Buh-bye Nestle. I bought the German cereal with the multi-racial couple on the package, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This is not an upbeat post

I stopped at the store on the way home from work today.

The guards in the parking lot were being nice to a developmentally disabled man they seemed to know. The young woman who gave me a receipt for my returnable beer bottles gave me an exceptionally friendly smile. An older woman was singing as she mopped the floor, the woman at the checkout was not only agreeable but appeared downright happy to pack some of my purchases in my cloth bag, and I ran into a friend and chatted for a while.

Golden hour was coming on as I drove the rest of the way home and a view I've always liked turned out to be a great sunset vantage point as well. There were even a couple of angles along the way where the view could pass for Italian or Greek hillsides.

I got back to the house in time for this:

...All very nice.

And yet, when I got home, this was still the world, and a point in time, when two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Shooting and decapitating black people. They wanted to kill 88 black people in all, beheading 14 of them. They were going to start at a high school.

The fact that they may well be a pair of incompetent assholes who wouldn't have managed to commit even the first heinous crime without being caught and/or killed doesn't ... well, yes. It does make it better because, well duh.

But even if they were incapable of bringing their desires to fruition, this is still the world, and a point in time, where it is conceivable to a couple of kids that this is somehow the right thing to do. And they didn't come up with it in a vacuum.

Sure, they're shocking. But they're hardly the first or the only ones to hold that kind of hate, are they? That kind of thing is Learned. From. Others.

...I read the news about those ones before leaving work today.

Thousands of miles away from the United States, I shut down the computer, locked up the office, got in my car, and drove to the grocery store.

Ahead of me on the road was a Ford that looked like a cross between a Land Rover and a Humvee. Along with a morass of stickers representing the vehicle owner's deeply held beliefs and preferences regarding brands of surf gear and Costa Rican soccer teams, it sported a confederate flag and a "United States Terrorist Hunting Permit" sticker.

Lunch break update

I work at a solar company. One of the things we sell is a battery backup system that looks like this:

It's a little complicated.

Our installer guy knows a lot about solar stuff and electricity, but doesn't speak much English, so I'm sometimes asked to translate key parts of things like the manual that tells how to put that-there E-Panel together right.

Today I was translating the sheet that tells which screws are meant to go where. Each screw, washer and bracket is identified by a part number, a diagram, and its size. The most wonderful line on the page was this:

06-015-1 Qty 4 M6-1 x 10mm Pan Head Philips Taptite (Looks like a 1/4-20 x 3/8" for you rednecks that don't do metric) For attaching wall mtg brackets to E-Panel

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Uh oh

You might not get an "I'm sick of the rainy season" post this year. AND it's getting down to where it might not be news when I finally hear a Christmas carol in a store.


*Goes back to playing Spades online*

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Treat yourself like you deserve to be treated," it says. I'm game.

When Sandy was here in July, she brought a special gourmet cake mix because our birthday (hers and mine) had just been and gone, and was to be celebrated.

Except, my oven wasn't working, so we didn't make it.

My oven's working now. And, in fact, I'm currently house sitting for someone who also has a working oven. So I made it.

Turns out, it's not a standard cake mix, but a "hot fudge pudding cake" mix.

I'm okay with that.

The thing goes together differently than a regular cake, though. You mix the contents of the Large Packet with milk and melted butter, spread it in the pan, then sprinkle the contents of the Small Packet on top of that, and pour hot water (I used hot coffee) over it all, don't stir, and stick it in the oven.

The three layers--identifiable batter, followed by a fine powder, and topped with liquid--are each about equally deep and I have to say, my main thought as I put it in the oven was that whoever invented this recipe has a lot of self-confidence. It did not look like something that was ready to be baked.

Interestingly, there's no nutrition information on the packaging, so I guess I'll just have to use my best judgment to determine what is supposed to constitute "one serving."

Friday, October 24, 2008


Seriously. Every single one of them said to say hi.

Today is Steve's birthday, a fact that means so much to me that I will sit here, at a computer not my own, with a keyboard that has somehow transposed the Y and the Z (Seriously. How is that even possible?), in addition to losing various and sundry apostrophes and other necessary punctuation, and composing a post all about Steve (and not at all about my keyboard woes), since it is his birthdaz (See? With the Y? I left that in just so you could see.)

Happz Birthdaz, mz friend. And manz manz more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two things

One: I think the recorder might have gotten left somewhere off-site. I'm not positive, but until I verify it, I've called off the search.

Two: I really wonder what the people who Googled "owen pizza second hand" and "johnny-jump-up polyphony" were looking for, and if they found it here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caption This Photo

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I hate the recorder.

Julia hates the recorder.

The damn recorder is lost.

I am not buying a new one, so it better show its sorry yellow self up sometime in the next 24 hours. (Dad, they think they had it while you were here, which means it has to be in the apartment somewhere. Can you confirm that it was here at some point while you were?)

That is all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, I don't know.

Now that I've driven home, I guess it's not quite as bad as I said. But it's still not as good as it should be.

I'll just shut up about it and see how much mileage I get out of the tank of gas I bought today. We'll know in a week.

Yeah, never mind

Having driven my car the 10 miles to work, I can now confidently state that the tune up made somewhere between "a slight" and "no appreciable" difference. Good thing I enjoy spending $100 to $150 on my car every few weeks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What dreams are made of

This is the climbing vine in the light shaft at the back of the apartment. It's really digging the rainy season, and has grown a lot in the past couple of weeks. It's beginning to poke in the laundry room and bedroom windows, which is cool (except that that's how those ants got in that time).

Most homes in Costa Rica - city homes anyway - are contiguous with the next house. Houses are frequently built right up to the property line on each side, with any outdoor space either between the house and the street, or in a patio behind the house (or both). This apartment is built that way, so there are no windows on the side (or back) walls, but in fact the houses to each side don't have second floors, so there's nothing on the other side of any of the walls.

That's nice, of course, since it means less noise (and less worrying about making noise).

It also means that the apartment is exposed to more of the weather than most houses are. The landlady has struggled with leaks in the kitchen and living room (which are on the same outside wall), and is working, again, to fix them this week.

The water comes in at the roofline and runs down next to, or possibly through, the breaker box (I know, right?) and, as we discovered when repairing the stove, along the conduit within the walls as well.

A lot of it seems to remain within the cinder block wall and behind what is apparently weatherproof paint, because instead of soaking through the paint and running down the wall, a lot of times the paint blisters out, but keeps the water behind it. It has split open in a couple of places, but not many.


So, last night I dreamed that there was this vine that had grown into my house, burrowing like a mole just under the surface of the walls, peeking through in places. It had spread through several rooms, kind of following the electrical wiring, and was starting to interfere with the computer, and I was telling someone that, while it would be impossible to pull it all out, all we needed to do was cut out a section at the point of entry, and all the vines inside the walls would shrivel up and stop growing.

Now that I think about it, it could have been downright creepy, but fortunately it was more of a repair issue than a Vine That Took Over The World kind of thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nothing witty. Just my day.

Looks like a tune up finally made the difference with my car. I've only driven it a few miles so far, but there's definitely a difference. Not having to put an automatic into second and floor it to get up the hill to my town? A good thing.

After we got the car, I took the girls to the thrift store that has regular (thrift) priced ($1-$4) stuff all sorted and hanging up downstairs, and then the special unsorted bulk department upstairs. They have these eight-inch high borders to hold things in general parts of the room, and the bales of clothes are opened and dumped in there, getting waist deep toward the middle. You just wade in and look for stuff.

They just tripled their prices. Well, maybe not tripled. I guess the price used to be 200 colones per item upstairs, but I've been there on whatever day you can get ten pieces for 1000, so today's "normal" price of 300 colones seemed high to me. But? That's $0.60. We didn't hold back too much.

I wanted to get them each some sweat pants for after school and pajama wear, as well as picking up whatever additional items might present themselves to us. We got 20-some things for about $12. You have never seen that much pink and purple stuff in one shopping bag before.

My favorite...well, my favorites are the things I got for myself. But the best one to tell about is the Julia-sized hooded, fuchsia, zipper-front sweatshirt with a dragon embroidered on the sleeve in silver thread.

Friday, October 17, 2008

LOL my undercooked eggs

My eggs have been sulky and recalcitrant ever since we fixed my stove.

I've never made altitude adjustments for anything but spaghetti (pasta of any sort takes fully twice as long as it says on the package), but then again, I never made hard boiled eggs till I moved down here, which coincided with the stove issue, so maybe I just never knew.

My 220V stove made the best of its 110V wiring by taking a very, very long time to do anything.

The eggs don't seem to know what to do with water that goes from zero to boiling in three minutes flat. I think they miss the 20-minute ramp up...rather like the frog of legend.

Hey, it's a theory.

And any post that requires me to Google the phrase boil frog is a post that needs to be written.

Now I'm off to microwave egg.

Update: Raise your hand if you're surprised that hard boiling eggs is not a microwave oven's forte. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

*Goes back to spooning deviled egg yolk onto little piles of half-runny 'sploded egg white*

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You know something about this time zone?

Four a.m. comes really early here.

We're in the middle of some sort of tropical storm or depression in the middle of our rainiest month, in the middle of what is already one of our rainiest years.

We got Dad to the airport almost his full two hours ahead of the flight, and for the first time ever, I tracked an outgoing flight. It left two or three minutes late, and I've already got the "home safe and sound" email, so I guess Rainy Season 2008 is now free to do its worst.

And, yes. You can expect my annual "Enough with the rain already" post in 5... 4... 3... 2...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wrong number...good sign

So I just got a phone call.

It was a wrong number, but it was an interesting one.

It was someone calling from the US, trying to reach a US citizen (but not me) to encourage her to vote before...whatever the deadline is.

Overseas voters are, as a demographic, overwhelmingly Democratic.

I've lived outside the US for (almost) my entire adult life. Never before have I received such a call. I was happy to receive it today, though.

The Children's Museum

For a total of $8 (plus a reasonably-priced lunch), two kids and two adults can spend eight hours doing things like:

Stepping on a frog mosaic (actually, this you can see for free, in the sidewalk outside the front door).

Putting together a magnetic undersea puzzle, too hard for a lot of kids but, needless to say, not too hard for mine.

Practicing basic hygiene.

Taping your own television show in a real TV studio.

And then watching the show.

Learning about optical illusions in the tilty house.

(Note: This is the best part.)

Contemplating emus.

Playing chess.

Being mum.

Making lightning.

And other lightning-like things.

Getting faces painted.

Being encouraged to read.

Shopping in a child-sized model grocery store, and then going through the checkout to see if you've stayed within your assigned budget.

(Okay, y'all. There may be a genetic component to some behaviors.)

And playing in/on two different airplanes, a fire truck, a train and a big-ass helicopter.

A click a day for good causes

The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site The Child Health Site The Literacy Site The Rainforest Site The Animal Rescue Site

Added 6/12/06

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