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)

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