Thursday, December 31, 2009

One to go

I took Julia to the thrift store this morning to see if we could find some pants or lightweight jeans that she would like for her bag, but which would be simpler to sew than the pair of regular denim jeans I had planned on using.

Well, that didn't go as planned.

On the bright side, it's reportedly going to be the coolest bag in the WORLD. So there's that.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One down

I spent all day making Robin's Christmas messenger bag from a pair of pants we got (for that purpose) at the thrift store, and some lining fabric she picked out of my stash. We're all pleased with the results.

Why, yes. I did go cross-eyed sewing those striped pockets to that checked lining. Thanks for asking.

Julia's is going to be made out of a pair of jeans which, I realized while I was working today, is considerably heavier fabric than the khaki-type pants in Robin's. Wish us well.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Utilities would be so...useful.

Just spent an hour at the phone company. I finally got the information I needed for the guy who contacted me a week ago, and we exchanged half a dozen text messages last night (with varying degrees of success), and he even tried to stop by, but it was dark and he was afraid there might be dogs in the cul de sac, so he didn't make it all the way to the door.

We determined that the next thing was for me to go in and sign something, which I did, but he wasn't completely ready for me when I got there. Eventually I signed about eight things (returning each of the various portions of my deposit on the initial application, and then re-paying them for the new one), and he gave me a new work order to post in the window, and photocopied my ID and...well, that's it.

There's really no telling whether his desire to make things right will result in the work actually being done any sooner than if I'd just gone down and put in the application today, but I'm sure he's doing all he can.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that my initial application did in fact get lost in the shuffle because in addition to telling me to go to the employees' entrance and ask for him (rather than waiting in the half-block long line for the public entrance), when I did that, and he came out to help me, he gave me nine little corporate notepads "so you can write down phone numbers."

Anyway. Presumably it's now properly applied for. We'll see when it actually gets installed (the good sign is that, as always, the phone company installers are out in force today, and still working a couple blocks west of the new place, but moving, as the days go by, in that general direction.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The daily check-in

We watched Wall-E today, and figured out which kinds of bags I'll be making for the girls, and that we'll make peanut butter cookies this evening.

Now I'm here to check the mail and check on the house & dog & guinea pig-sitting situation here on our old street, then off to buy peanut butter and stop by the thrift store to get some more jeans for with which to make the girls' messenger bags.

Looks like the garage area (yes, Dad, there is one) is pretty well closed in, structurally speaking, so we're thinking we may be able to put some screen on the wire and then we can keep the front door open without letting the cat all the way out. We all think that would be a good thing.

I texted our meter number to the phone company guy at the start of business today; no response yet, but I did see utility trucks out and about today, so at least they're open for business and whatever has to happen can now proceed to do so.

And, that's about all I have to say, what with it being vacation and all. Not a lot going on.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Country lane" defined

I keep calling our street a "country lane." Here's what I mean by that:

We're really not out in the country in any sense of the word, but the seven houses on our cul-de-sac (three adjoining across the end of the road, and four adjoining off to one side) are at the end of a single short block with a corn & coffee & squash field on one side and a grassy field with citrus trees on the other side. The only cars that ever drive down it are the five or six that live at the end of it, so the kids (I've seen at least 10, aged from two to eleven) have the run of it most of the time.

That's Julia, honing her newfound bicycle prowess.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quick update

Just a quickie, cause it's already past dinner time and there's nothing here for the kids to do while I skim my Facebook feed and toss a quick post up.

Julia had hesitated to go out and play with the neighborhood kids (I estimate 10 or 12 in our seven-house cul de sac), because she has a bike but never learned to ride it without training wheels. So today we took them off and taught her. I knew it would come quickly, because she's good at sports and physical things, so once she had a flat street and some time, it took about half an hour.

Then she made friends with the 9 year old next door, and spent the rest of the day with her.

We made our first batch of cookies this morning - just chocolate chip, nothing complicated - but there were enough to eat a bunch and share a bunch and freeze a bunch, and tomorrow or Monday we'll make another kind.

Kay, time to get going; more tomorrow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

FINally, she posts some PICtures...

Posting a few photos at last. Christmas, after all the hectic and tiring and overwhelming that led up to it, was lovely. The tree was...well, okay. The girls liked their presents, we sat around and watched A Muppet Christmas Carol and napped and played with the new toys and the cat (and made new toys for the cat) all day. Just like it's supposed to be.

Then we even found a grocery store open in the evening, so there are cookie ingredients for tomorrow and everything we need for dinner & breakfast.

Now we're here to check email and post (and say hi to the new neighbors starting to move in downstairs), and then back home.

Look! Space! Yes, the shelves in the bedroom and the space under the bed are packed solid, but the living space is totally livable. We actually have a table. At which to eat and do puzzles, even if other people are home and wanting to do other things. At the very same time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Well, I got what I wanted for Christmas

...which is have all our stuff (except this here computer, plus a chair and small table) in the new house.

An added benefit to that is that I now know the new place won't get any more crowded with boxes and stuff. It can only improve from here.

We hung some quilts on the wall (provisionally, where there were already hooks) and it made a big difference in the bedroom especially, which had been starkly functional until now, and I don't mean that in a good way.

I'm not feeling very Christmasy, what with all the work we've done and still need to do, but knowing the move itself is behind us is, truly, what I wanted and I got it.

Now I'm back here at the online computer to do my Christmas shopping for the girls. It's not as bad as it sounds, though. I have their stocking gifts all bought and wrapped, but the other gifts I want to give them have online components.

One is a membership to an online computer game they love playing, so I need to find out the terms they offer so I can decide how many months they get, and also find something to print out and wrap up to actually physically give them.

The other is that they'll be home with me most of the next week, so I thought a good gift that I wouldn't have to deal with before Christmas would be to find simple sewing patterns for a purse (for Robin) and a tote bag (for Julia) and let them pick the fabrics from my stash and help me make them.

So I need to find some patterns for them to choose from and, again, something to print out and wrap.

And the final thing is to bake cookies together over the coming week, but I can look up recipes for that in my cookbooks (which finally got moved today), or online when the time comes. I have cookie cutters and some of the specialty ingredients (chocolate chips and sprinkles) so there's something for them to open in connection with that.

Bob's giving the whole Christmas Tree In A Land Without Tree Stands thing some thought, and we'll cobble together whatever he figures out when I get home. I bought some ornaments (Costa Rican grocery stores gather all their Christmas stuff in a 1/4 aisle and mark it 70% off several days before Christmas, it turns out), and we made some, and they can do popcorn strings if we all feel up to it.


Gotta go gooping. (That's googling/shopping, you see.)

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bullet point afternoon

  • I'm on vacation, yay!
  • Bob finished clearing out the downstairs apartment (which the landlady has already re-rented, so she's glad we're finished a few days early) and is mopping it now.
  • The upstairs one is still pretty depressing, but I did actually accomplish quite a bit today. There's stuff everywhere still, but closets and cupboards are pretty much empty inside.
  • The landlord didn't come by to give us the meter number like he said he would, but we narrowed it down to one of two (out of six) meters in the cluster, thanks to Google Earth.
  • The mall wasn't really that crowded today, but Costa Rican malls don't build their parking lots to scale, so getting in and out was insane.
  • The kitty spent several days at the back of a shelf in a dark room, but she's been out and about a lot more today.
  • I'm on vacation, yay!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To phone or not to phone

Yesterday I got the call I've been hoping for; or rather, I got what at first appeared to be the call I've been hoping for from the phone company.

The guy asked for me, then said he was the one who had processed my application for a phone line back in July. He went on to say that, the following week, he had been involved in a car accident, and ... well, you can see where that's going. I'm a little skeptical as to how the absence of the person who took my application, entered it into the computer and printed out the work order for me to hang on my house, translates into the application not proceeding, but whatever.

He said he had heard that I went in to request a transfer of the as-yet uninstalled phone line to a new address, and that I was mad about it.

Now, I did request the transfer, and I did tell the guy that the line hadn't been installed, but I wasn't mad. Nobody in my neighborhood had phones installed, and many of them had been waiting longer than I had. Some of them years longer. I only put in the application because it looked like there was some utility work going on in the neighborhood back in July, but I wasn't surprised that it never happened.

Anyway, this guy apparently feels personally beholden to me, and while I did tell him I wasn't upset, I'm certainly not going to discourage him from doing what he can to get our phone hooked up in the new place.

He asked for the exact address and I started to give it to him - with no street names or house numbers, it's really just a description from a known starting point. So I told him, from a particular condo development, it's 50 meters south, 100 meters west, and 50 meters south.

And he said, "That can't be. That's not a paved road."

And he's right.

We determined that I do, in fact, live on an unpaved road, and that he knows exactly where it is. He said he'd just stop by that afternoon and get the information. Talk about personalized service. Or a small country.

Except, the one thing he needs, besides the address, is the number of the electric meter at the new place, not the number of the next door neighbor's meter, which is what I provided to them when I went in to request the transfer on the 10th.

It's not as simple as looking at the meter itself, because there are seven houses on our tiny little cul de sac, and all the meters are installed in a row halfway down our (unpaved) country lane. And our electricity is currently shared with, not the house next door, but the house next door to that.

I have no idea.

Anyway, the landlord said he'd stop by yesterday to show me which is our meter, but he didn't. The neighbor whose house shares a meter with ours (who, by the way, is very nice) says she doesn't get the bills directly, but that the landlord picks them up and either pays them or bills her or something; anyway, she couldn't help.

So now...who knows. I tried calling the landlord back today, but a child answered the phone and said the guy has a new number. And the new number wasn't available.

Anyway, I still think it's a net positive; getting a proactive call from anyone at the phone company shows that things are happening, and they're still installing phones all over the old neighborhood; in fact, they're done with this particular street and a couple of blocks closer to the new place.

So, here's hoping.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stopping by apartments on a chilly morning

Had to come by here on the way to the office this morning to pick up the hand truck that I borrowed from work.

Well, okay, and because it turns out that all of my pants are still here, except for the paint-stained jeans I'd been wearing the entire weekend.

There's still just as much to do here as there was yesterday (except for one [1] carload of sixty gazillion [60Gz] books, that I moved yesterday), but now the kids are away till Christmas Eve (or Day) and work should be very low-key, and the roads are very clear (except for that one ambulance-worthy accident we passed this morning) and hopefully the next few days will be productive without being crazy-making.

I went ahead and got a Christmas tree with the girls last night, which I envisioned as being an extra-special, unexpected Making Christmas Happen thing for them, but in fact we couldn't see the tree in the dark, Robin cried because we were killing it, and Julia fretted that it would fall off the roof of the car and damage things.

Oh well.

But now we have it, and it looks pretty nice in the light of day, and smells good, and that's one more thing partially dealt with. Next up, figuring out how to stand it up and get it water in the Land Without Tree Stands.

Okay, off to work. I did take a few pictures of the wreckage of the old place and the Lovable Insanity that is the new one, so those'll be appearing eventually.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The mid-move complaint post

The new house is fine, the night was quiet, the cat and bird and children all seem to have adjusted quickly and with a minimum of difficulty. (The turtle too, I think. Communication is not her long suit.)

We got furniture and stuff and things into a very livable first-draft arrangement last night, and had pizza and A Charlie Brown Christmas and passable showers.

In fact, it was so livable that it makes it hard to see the value in coming back here (where we'll keep a computer hooked up till the last minute) to gather more Boxes O' Stuff to throw onto the currently almost manageable Piles O' Stuff at the new place. The sense of urgency and Must Have At Least The Bare Necessities that got things (like an evening run back for electrical tape and other Must-Haves) done last night is entirely lacking today.

Now I'm just looking at an apartment full of stuff that has to be moved from one place to another, with insufficient boxes and in the knowledge that it's going to be in the way as soon as I do.

Ah well. It does make the new place seem all the nicer, so there's that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Just jumping in real quick to say we're moving and tired and I'll be offline the rest of the day. Maybe even the rest of the year; no telling yet how long it'll be till they install a phone and then the DSL.

I went over to the hardware store to talk to the transport guys and see if one of them could do our heavy moving later in the day or tomorrow, but the guy who said he could do it, said it had to be RIGHT THEN.

In retrospect, we were not at all ready to do it right then, but we went ahead anyway, and now the furniture part is done. I wouldn't do it like that again, but I'm really glad that the entire rest of the process is under our control and at our pace.

Now I'm going to have some lunch before I turn around and realize it's dinner time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Walls: White

I stopped by the place on the way to work this morning and there was a little old man with a big long roller who had already painted half the walls by 8:00 a.m.

Bob stopped by on his way home from work just now, and he said all the walls are painted, so the guy will be doing the edging tomorrow.

He was really nice this morning, and I'm sure we can take the girls over to see it, and maybe run a few carloads over in the afternoon, once he's finished a room or two.

I carried a dozen boxes down to the garage while Bob was at work, but I can't really tell yet how it's going to go. There are empty shelves and things, but there's still a lot more to do.

The girls were all excited when I brought them home this afternoon, so I gave them each a suitcase and let them put things into them; that lasted about 15 minutes, but at least they have their part, and can do more of it if they get the urge.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I may not sound like this in a few days, but...

For a family that's fixing to move less than a week before Christmas, we're ticking along pretty calmly here.

I took my commute on ... I think it was Monday ... to get myself from "How on EARTH am I ever going to get the girls presents they'll like and care about for Christmas?" to a simple, realistic and pleasing plan for how to do exactly that.

I shopped for stocking stuffers on my way home from work for the last couple of days, and I'm wrapping them this evening. I've also picked up a couple of immediate essentials for the new house, like an on-demand heater for the shower (most Costa Rican homes, including the one we're moving to, have no centralized hot water) and a pack of compact fluorescent bulbs. For the most part, the things we're going to have to acquire will come afterwards: curtains by me and some extra table/shelf action by Bob are the main ones.

We can't get a tree till after we move, so there's no dealing with that till next week. We've made a bunch of Moravian stars to decorate it with, we can string some popcorn, and I'll buy some lights and red balls. Voila, pretty, homemade tree.

The neighbor who sold us Bob's fridge when he moved here actually wants it back, so we don't have to figure out how to sell that or whether to move it.

I don't see doing a whole lot of packing until this weekend, since it's such a nearby thing and we can take the small stuff over ourselves either before or before and after the furniture goes on Sunday. Not like everything has to be boxed on a deadline for someone else to deal with.

The things I most want to have taken care of, aren't really in my hands. I was worried about scheduling with the girls while I'm off work, so I wrote the email that needed to be written, and now I just need to wait for a response. I'm a little concerned about the painting in the house, but it all sounded really good on Tuesday. Hopefully there's no problem there.

So...I guess I'll just get back to wrapping the stocking stuff and maybe make sure the wine from the other night hasn't gone off.

Came back to add:

I realized after I hit Publish, got the wine, and went back to the wrapping that the reason having a glass of wine while wrapping the gifts felt so right was that, nine years ago about this time, I was wrapping Christmas presents with Mom in my apartment in High Point, and she offered to pour us some wine. I only had a little because the big present we had for everyone that year (which Mom of course didn't yet know) was the news that I was expecting Julia, who was born the following August.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The cat says this one doesn't have to have a title

We tried a new restaurant this evening; they've been building it for ages, and we actually tried to go a couple of months ago, but it wasn't open yet.

It was brave of us to try, because this was happening again, and...well, let's just say you wouldn't want to be on the road if that were true.

ANYway, the food was good (mine was; apparently Bob's was VERY VERY VERY VERY good) and the ambiance was very nice, and Self Conscious Waiter was self conscious, but also very attentive and friendly.

Then we stopped by the house (which showed no signs of paint or pre-paint processes, but one must have faith, mustn't one?) and talked about where to put things and who gets what room and stuff.

And now we're home and Bob made dark chocolate pudding and we're waiting for that to chill while I talk myself into making the baked treat I had planned to make for my boss's birthday tomorrow, even though I'm all full and ready to just sit on the couch and watch Friends.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The one that almost had to be back-dated

Well, the phone company is definitely making strides in and about this neighborhood - I passed sub-contracted phone company minion dudes working on the lines when I left for work this morning, and again when I got back home. I nearly had to forgo posting this evening because the Internet went out early today (Bob was offline by the time I got to work this morning), and only just came back on about half an hour ago.

Again, very glad we requested the phone line transfer before this started happening, and also glad it's going on, since the new house is less than a mile from the old one, and maybe all this Progress will trickle down to that neighborhood and result in us actually having a phone sometime soon.

And on that topic, we're now the proud renters of The Other House. The contract the owner prepared was entirely reasonable; I was taken aback to see "three years" in the first clause, but it turns out (which Bob actually knew and told me) that rental contracts are three years by law. But the owner added some more text that effectively made three years the maximum period (I'm sure it could be renewed if everyone were happy three years down the road), and he added a clause a the bottom that actually makes seven months the minimum, by stating that we would lose our (one-month) deposit if we move out within the first seven months. That's entirely reasonable.

So we signed the contract and paid the first month, AND, it turns out the owner is still going to paint. He said he has 10 houses he rents out, and the guy who works for him just finished painting one, and is ready to do ours starting tomorrow. So we told him "white" and let him know that we'd like to take some carloads over on Saturday and move the major stuff on Sunday, and we think that's all going to work out just fine.

We also ascertained that eight of his ten houses have three bedrooms, and asked him to let us know if a 3BR should become available at any point.

We also gave him a papaya, which seemed to go over well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holding pattern

The dead dog was picked up today, the landlady found a half-buried cutoff valve that isolates the burst pipe so Bob has cold water at least, and the utility company (or minions thereof) were on the street today apparently moving toward installing the remaining phone lines in the neighborhood. This last makes me glad we already went down to transfer the phone line application to the new house, because if they showed up and installed here, then who knows what would be involved in getting it moved from here to a new location, plus there would be a transfer fee and stuff. The neighbor at the new house said that when she applied for a line (no idea how long ago), they came along and installed it really quickly. We're hoping that remains the case, since we'll be without Internet till the phone is installed, and then another week or so after the phone is in for them to send the DSL tech out. But it sounds promising enough that we're probably not going to transfer the cable over. I think. We sign the contract and actually take possession tomorrow, so we'll find out then if the owner painted at all. If he did, it all happened on Sunday (or today), so probably not.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In which our neighborhood says, "Oh, go on with you. Get out of here."

Bob walked up to the corner store this afternoon and 10 minutes later came back in calling for me. A black lab-type dog that had been trotting down the street when he walked up the block was now lying in the road having fits.

Another neighbor came out and together we made the gesture of trying to give the dog the universally accepted home remedy for poisoned pets, which is milk and lemon juice, but the poor thing was way beyond actually ingesting anything, and only lasted another minute or two. We pulled it onto the sidewalk, but didn't really know what else to do.

The first thing I did was to go check on my friend's dogs, since I'm house/dog sitting for them this weekend. They were freaked out, having seen everything that had just happened, but they clearly hadn't been fed anything themselves. I checked the yard carefully for any tossed-in food, but didn't find any.

I suspect the classic milk & lemon juice antidote has some basis in reality for some poisons, but I seriously doubt it would have any effect against a substance that can kill a dog in five minutes flat. Nevertheless, in the name of doing something, I went ahead and squeezed a lemon into the dogs' dishes and poured in some milk, just in case whoever it was came along and tossed some more bait over the wall. I also explained to them that they should not eat anything unusual they might find lying around.

Another neighbor came out and asked what had happened, which I explained. She called the police or the municipality or whoever you're meant to call, but today is Sunday and I don't know how responsive they would be even during regular business hours. The dog is still lying there.

And THEN we were back in here, making Moravian stars and watching each other play the Harry Potter game, when Robin said she smelled something. I didn't notice it at first, and then it hit me. A burning insulation/plastic/electrical kind of smell. We checked everything in the house and didn't find anything.

The smell was stronger out in the garage, but fainter outside in the street. Eventually we concluded that the wind must have gusted the smell in, and the garage walls were keeping it from dissipating.

So we all went back to our various occupations for six minutes, until a pipe burst on the hot water tank in the utility space off the garage.

We got the water turned off out at the street, texted the landlady, and filled Bob's water bottle and...well, that's all really.

See, this could never happen at the new place, because it doesn't have hot water.


9:35 p.m. -- Bob and I are talking about plumbing and insulation and building codes and what kinds of fixing up the new place might require, when we hear a muffled crash from outside.

9:40 p.m. -- I'm on a kitchen stool, pulling down the still-drooping bits of plaster that didn't just fall off the porch ceiling.

Dear Universe:
We get it, we get it. We're going. How about you leave the place in decent enough shape that L. can re-rent it without feeling she needs to withhold part of our deposit, eh?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The continuing stoooooooooooooooooory --or-- It's amazing how much you can say about something when there's actually no news at all

So, we had a brush with an alternate house today; the landlady said the house two doors down was for rent, and she thought it had three bedrooms. I went and talked to the lady, but it turns out it's only 2BR, is really a bit out of our price range (ie, $100/month more than the place we've taken), and is in fact already promised to someone else. So we'll not mourn that one, except to briefly acknowledge that it would have been exponentially more lovely than where we're going. But for $100/month, we'll get along without the exponential loveliness.

The girls are still campaigning for moving sooner rather than later, and I'm leaning that way myself; it will make for a big push over the next week and weekend, but it means that my week off between Christmas and New Year's can be used for settling in and resting up, rather than doing the actual move and then trying to recover while back at work.

Bob stopped by the place on his way home from work this afternoon and there was no sign of any painting or anything. Frankly I'm a little surprised, since the owner really didn't seem to want us to do it ourselves. But if he doesn't do it by the time we sign the contract on Tuesday, I'll tell him that we plan to. There's no point moving into the place and then bemoaning the smudgy, poorly painted, hospital walls.

Friday, December 11, 2009

In which "cream" is a difficult concept

The children and their local grandparents have now seen and approved the house, and apparently the landlady got our letter giving notice on the second apartment last night, because there's a For Rent sign on our gate now. My neighbor down the street knows a community group that might want to buy our soon-to-be-spare refrigerator, and the phone company work order has been posted at the new place. I've spoken with the next door neighbor a few times now, and she seems very nice. There are seven houses on the cul-de-sac and at least three of them have very young children. Pamela, next door, is five and an only child. Michael, across the way, didn't want to eat his hot dog the day we were seeing the house for the first time, and was threatened with having his kiddie slide taken apart - apparently for the second time that day. Two children of maybe four and six were at the next house after Pamela's when we stopped by today. No sign yet of older kids.

The owner was ... he seems nice enough, but I think communicating with him is going to be a learned skill. When we first saw the house, I asked if it would be okay with him if we painted, and his response was, "What do you mean?"

...How do you clarify "is it okay if we paint the walls?"

When I went back to pay the deposit, he asked again, "What were you trying to say about painting it?" So I said we meant that we would buy the paint, and we would do the work, and then he wanted to know what color. I said white or cream, and he wanted to know what I meant by "cream". After a while I think he accepted that by "cream," I didn't in fact mean "vermilion with chartreuse tiger stripes" and, as I say, he seemed to indicate that he would do the painting. There was (needless to say) some conversation about which walls we might be talking about (Umm. The ones with all the fingerprints on them from the previous tenants? IOW, all of them?) I can only assume that whatever he does will be this weekend, since we start renting as of the 15th.

So, the question of the hour is, when do we move? We can either do it over next weekend and early Christmas week, and have Christmas there, or we can hold out and have Christmas here (which would mean putting up a tree, like, NOW), and move the week between Christmas and New Year's.

The girls are in complete agreement that WE SHOULD MOVE NOW. TODAY. WHEN CAN WE GO SEE IT AGAIN??? And Bob and I are shuffling through the factors to decide what'll actually happen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More about the house

I may yet do the whole SketchUp thing like I did before the last move, but it's complicated this time because my Real Computer is running Linux and, as such, needs an intermediary program set up before I can install SketchUp.

In any case, the house is about 520 square feet, with no light shafts or hallways and not including the laundry room, whereas the apartments are 410, including light shafts, hallways and laundry room. The smaller of the two bedrooms in the new house is about the same size as the larger of the two where we are now.

So all our stuff will fit. And I like that the living room is contiguous with the kitchen, so whoever's cooking doesn't have to go off behind closed doors (or around corners or whatever) while they do it.

It is, as I said the other day, not very attractive, but the owner seemed to indicate that he would be painting it, and once we put our things in it and choose curtains and stuff, hopefully it'll be nice.

We went down today to transfer our existing application for a phone line (which we put in for last July, but there are no lines available in this neighborhood) over to the new place, and while we won't know till it happens, it sounds like that may work out okay. And when it does, we can have DSL instead of cable Internet, and thereby not have to pay for TV we're not watching. So that'll be nice.

Here's what it looks like right now. We believe that if the owner paints it, it'll be off-white as opposed to another coat of the oh-so-popular Industrial Hospital it's currently sporting.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Definitely a step. Hopefully one toward TOTH

We went ahead and paid the deposit on the house, then stopped over to measure the rooms and take pictures, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for those because for now it's pizza, beer and Torchwood.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Not TOTH, but hopefully a stop on the way to it

We went to see another house today. I have resoundingly mixed feelings about it. It's on the right end of our budget range, almost as close to the school as our current place, and small but large enough to be workable. In short, it'll do and we're taking it.

I was exceedingly lucky, when I first needed a place to move into, to find the apartment that I did and, when Bob was ready to come here, to have the adjoining one become available. A big part of what I like about this apartment is that it's attractive. It's just pretty, with nice surfaces and interesting colors and attention to detail in the construction and finishing.

This other place is flatly none of that. I'm sure we can make it pleasant enough with time, and it's not like we're committing to years and years there. But I really wish I actually liked it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

As I was saying...

Pursuant to last night's post, this:

is not a happy monitor.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Well, THAT'S never happened before.

So we spent most of the day playing the Harry Potter game (it took the three of us most of the day to get Julia's Harry past the Flipendo level) and drawing temporary tattoos on each other. (Well, okay. Mostly it was me drawing them on everyone. Robin got a butterfly and Julia got a parrot and I got a purple gecko.)

And then while I was cooking dinner they started calling from the living room, but I was all cooking eggs and not about to leave them to go look at the computer, and when I finally did, it turned out something had...happened.

The entire display was rotated 90º clockwise. And the children were still playing the game.

I put an end to that, took them in the kitchen and fed them dinner, then came back out to see what there was to see. I posted a jokey little complaint on Facebook, then restarted the computer to fix the problem.


It didn't fix. Windows came up and said, "Hey, your resolution and color depth are pretty low, how's 'bout I fix that for ya?" And I said sure, and it did. But apparently Windows had no issue with the whole having-to-crane-your-neck-90º-to-the-right-in-order-to-get-your-hand-eye-coordination-to-work-enough-to-put-the-mouse-where-you-want-it thing.

I tried a few things, complained on Facebook again, and eventually went for help. Bob came up and tried a few things, then helped me turn the monitor on its side (which looked weirder than you'd think - I took a picture but I don't feel like downloading it right now) and then he went downstairs to Google it for me.

Then he came back upstairs and fixed it, yay, the end.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Nice day

The Grinch wouldn't play, so we watched The Gods Must Be Crazy II instead. Julia and I fell asleep, but we'd already seen it. I like the badger part.

I made Robin's cake today; mocha cake with extra dark cocoa powder. Very rich and very yummy. I'm surprised it didn't keep us all awake for the movie, but then we only had small pieces.

Robin got some really nice presents from my family; Lisa faked us out with a Harry Potter computer game that we all started enthusing about, then she opened the box and there was a shirt and some Mad Libs inside. And then under the shirt, there was the game after all. So now we all know what we'll be doing tomorrow.

Friday, December 04, 2009

You know what's an addictive little game?

Pac-xon is an addictive little game. Way better than traditional Pacman.

It's all the girls' fault, naturally. I said it looked like fun, and they invited me to play, and there's this "Try Again" button that works in a non-standard game restarting way (it restarts the game, but keeps you at whatever level you were on), so they convinced me that I kept getting additional lives.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

And the news is...

...there is no news.

We drove around town for a while this evening and didn't see any For Rent signs. Guess we'll try again in a few days; in the meantime, the Doctor is about to regenerate and I want to see how he comes out, and also how long it takes for him to mention that the new teeth feel weird.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The one with all the reminiscing

Eleven years ago today, I had lunch with my Mom, and we bought a hairbrush.

We were waiting around to see if I was in labor, you see, and it turns out I was. I'd just had a prenatal appointment and the doctor, knowing I lived an hour and a half away by bus, suggested we not go home just yet.

So we had a (light) lunch at the Hotel Don Carlos, and bought a baby hairbrush at Mas X Menos (I can't recall that we ever once used it, but I'm sure the girls appropriated it for their stuffed animals eventually) and then went back to the clinic and were admitted. Well, I was. And Mom got to stay right up until I went into the delivery room. She brushed my hair for me.

Alex and I picked out the name "Robin" while waiting for the second checkup, if I recall correctly. I was wearing an enormous shirt with a very large paisley pattern. It was nicer than it sounds.

She was born in the late afternoon, and we stayed the night. I remember trying to get her out of the plastic bassinet beside the bed in the middle of the night. I couldn't reach it that well. I'm glad I didn't drop her.

We took her home the next morning, about an hour or so before Dad showed up at the hospital, having moved heaven, earth and office schedules to get an earlier flight.

We scandalized the neighbors (who told my mother in law on me) by taking the baby out of the house when she was just a couple of days old. Broke the quarantine, don't you know. "Quarantine" being derived from the same root as "cuarenta", meaning 40. That's the number of days you're traditionally supposed to be paranoid about the baby and avoid exposing it to...well, pretty much anything if I recall correctly. But I needed nursing bras and wasn't about to leave the baby behind when she didn't have any sort of eating schedule worked out yet.

She turned out okay, though. I don't think we ruined her.

The post on the day she's actually here to celebrate with us will probably be less about me and more about her, but she's with her dad today so I get to reminisce instead.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On the lookout for TOTH

Today is rent day and, as such, the only opportunity to give notice on one or both of the apartments until next rent day.

We went to see a house that was available on Thursday, and at the time we weren't very impressed with it. I described it as "adequate", and we let the owner know we were going to keep looking around.

Last night we talked over the options and decided that, while it really isn't The One True House, it would in fact do nicely as a transition from two apartments to all living together, en route to all living together in a more pleasant space and hopefully somewhere that the girls can each have their own rooms.

Except, when I called the owner this morning to see if it was still available, it wasn't.

Fortunately, Bob measured the rooms and some of the furniture this morning and we determined that we can fit everything into one of these two apartments. It'll be tight, but we're ready to both A) All live in the same place and B) Spend a lot less on rent each month.

And that way when we do find something, we won't be paying for three places for the first month.

So, that's the update on that.

And now for something completely different:

Monday, November 30, 2009

That awkward in-between stage

Okay, I really need to either get sick enough to stay home and lie around drinking tea and watching movies all day, or get all the way well already and stay that way.

For tonight, I'm going to spend excessive amounts of time at today's favorite: There, I Fixed It (check it out - it's even better than Awkward Family Photos.) Oh, wait. I've already done that. So now I just need to cuddle on the couch and eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes and watch lots and lots of Dr. Who.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wish the weekend was only half over

We put up the short, single strand of lights I got at the grocery store on Friday. They look nice, but really demand a second string in order to reach all the way across the porch.

We made a bunch of white snowflakes this morning, and the girls hung them on the living room wall. They look really good there.

I went to see a second house for rent; this one around the corner from us. I was aware, because of the extremely low price, that it might not be suitable, and indeed it was not. We'd be more comfortable all living in a single one of these apartments than in that tiny little airless place with no parking.

Bob's not all better yet, but he's finally turned the corner, which is good. We've determined he must have picked it up from one of the 30-odd people he dealt with at his various classes last Saturday. He came down with it on Wednesday, which means if any of us are going to get it, it should be right about .... now.

I've got a scratchy throat, but then I almost always do at some point during the week, so hopefully it's not The Cold Of Doom.

I keep forgetting and then remembering that I said I'd bring a cake to work tomorrow, so I guess I'd better go get that underway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Glad the weekend's only half over

We had our second Thanksgiving today. Both versions were really enjoyable. The one on Thursday was everybody from the office, plus families [except for Bob :( ], very intimate and relaxed. Then today was larger, with good friends I haven't seen for a while, and some others who I don't yet know that well. There was talking quilts and talking shop and talking Facebook. And a very slightly naughty joke or two. (I told this one. I'd tell you the one that Dan told, but it doesn't lend itself to text.)

Sadly, Bob is still not feeling well and missed them both. We'll need to do other fun stuff because we were all looking forward to the Thanksgivings this year.

And now, I've got cake from the next door neighbors' six year old's birthday party, wine from last night (that liter box isn't going to drink itself, and Bob's in no state to help), and Christmas decorations a-waiting for the morrow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The hell with Buy Nothing Day

...And I don't mean that I disagree with the concept, but I got paid today and we had some shopping to do. You know. Fill the gas tank. Get a decent decongestant for Bob. Food for the kitty. Cereal because the leftover corn flakes from the crust of that sweet potato casserole were pretty bad - hopefully we can find another recipe that calls for corn flakes.

Pizza for dinner and wine for me. In fact, Julia just brought me a refill (I *love* that they're old enough for that kind of thing) so I'll just see you all tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I hepped.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I have apparently led quite the sheltered life

Fiction-wise, at any rate.

I'm reading the comments on a Shakesville Question of the Day that asks, "What's the worst book you've ever read, so bad you couldn't believe it got published?"

There are a lot of books being thrown across rooms and very little love for Dan Brown in that thread, but it was the comment that included the following that really gave me pause:

The minor villain who wants to ban fire. The evil chicken. The statue that converts people to Objectivism. 'Darken Rahl' as a villain name. Slaughter of evil pacifists.

...I have every reason to believe the person who left that comment had actually read a single book that included all of those things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's a jungle out there, kiddies. Have a very fruitful day.

Had to honk & swerve to miss a bus this afternoon. It was at this one stop sign (as opposed to all the other ones, you know) where the people do stop, but they're not happy about it.

Not sure what it is about that particular spot, but they're always nosing out into our (non-stop-signaged) street, and today this bus driver figured he really didn't need to wait for a break in traffic, but would make his own out of things he probably already had around the house.

Except, I was going uphill in the hard rain, and I'm used to seeing the cars nosing out, so I didn't notice at first that the bus was not only sticking out farther than it should, but was also moving out into my path. Until I did notice, and laid on the horn, and made the bus stop. Which I'm glad it did.

Funnily enough, I was, most of the way home, contemplating the body work I need to have done on this car. But which I'd really rather schedule at my own financial convenience, not in response to buses and things.

The bus-y swerve-y thing was three blocks beyond the Street That Always Floods When It Rains, which was axle-deep in water this afternoon; surprising, really, when it wasn't even sprinkling when I left work, but there you have it. Seasons changing and all.

And that, in turn, was about eight miles after the very smiley, besunglassed driver of the car in front of me flicked a butt out his window. A butt that, my own windows still being open at that time, I discovered when I drove over it moments later was really very much not composed of tobacco.

And those are all the anecdotes from today's commute, the end.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday thoughts -- or -- In which I fail to respect the true haiku form

My babiest girl
The family snowflake expert
Is now four foot three

Blame it on Facebook
Bob wants an ocelot now
It's all Lisa's fault

Pie pie pie pie pie
Chocolate pudding cookie crust
Pie pie pie pie pie

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I see origami googling in the future

Actually, I've already done some.

The girls came back this afternoon, and declared that we Must Decorate For Christmas Now. They don't know from Thanksgiving; or rather, they do but not as a prerequisite for Christmas stuff when there's already a lavishly lit house with a Christmas tree on the porch up the street, and the music's playing in the stores and two weeks ago you could already not get birthday wrapping paper at the grocery store, but only Christmas paper.

I have the important things: our stockings, home made by Mom over the years, and the tree skirt she cross stitched for us when the girls were younger. Oh, and a tacky Christmas throw pillow I won at a quilt raffle something or other somewhere along the way. But...well, that seems to be it.

I think I took my ornaments with me when I went to the States for Christmas last year, and I'm pretty sure I left them there. And I don't seem to have brought any of the household decorations when I moved.

Fortunately, we're a crafty bunch and the kids love projects, so we made some snowflakes and paper chains with what was on hand today, and I'll see about acquiring some additional supplies (like, say, some plain white paper to balance out the Phone Book Snowflakes we made today), some non-microwave popcorn for stringing and whatever else we come up with.

Oh, and I do have a few CDs of Christmas music, so that and the activities set the mood to the girls' satisfaction.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apparently I'm insensitive

It's getting to where every day now, Bob will turn to me and say, "Did you feel that?", and I'll be all, "No.", and he'll go look it up on the US Geological Whateveritis and show me this map that shows (or that he's managed to convince me that shows) that there was just another four-point-something quake a few dozen miles from here.

Sometimes the t-shirts on the clothesline will be stirring the teensiest bit. I don't know if I'm insensitive, or simply desensitized, but I've only noticed it consciously about twice this season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This video is seventeen (17) kinds of awesome

Via Mom's Tinfoil Hat

Okay, it's official. The Internet has *everything*

I remembered it, I Googled it, and two clicks later, BAM. It's Paddle to the Sea!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maybe there's a lot going on this time every year.

I noted t'other day that there was a lot going on this time last year. The two posts I linked to were about changes; people moving, marrying, getting hurt, starting relationships, ending blogs, and, what inspired the post to begin with, the earth moving.

We've had a bit of that moving-earth stuff going on this year too. Nothing big. Nothing you'd even notice if you were, say, walking across the room or riding in a car. But if you're sitting quietly at a computer, you suddenly say, "Huh. The floor's a little wobbly."

It tends to happen with the changing of the seasons, and that's what we're doing right now; the rainy season--such as it was; you notice I missed my heretofore annual "I'm sick of the rainy season" series of posts--is pretty much out of here and the December winds are picking up. And the earth is shaking a little from time to time.

Other things are changing too, or trying to. We keep hoping to move, and may start working a little more purposefully toward that. Bob's class schedules have been declining for weeks now, and suddenly seem to be picking back up, which is a good thing. The car is having its own little renaissance, which is prompting some short-term financial changes.

Maybe it's all just the cycle of things, huh? That'd be nice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In which I save you two and a half hours

I have no intention of watching 2012, now or ever. (Of course, I have that approach to a lot of movies, and it doesn't always work out *cough*PiratesoftheCaribbean*cough*.)

But my bank always has the Discovery Channel, muted, playing on its Keep-'em-Entertained TVs, and on Monday while I waited an hour to be told to go to hell (I mean Immigration), I saw lots and lots of scenes from 2012 (okay, actually the same four scenes lots and lots of times) in between interview shots with scientist guys who, I dearly hope, were saying "Shut up, the world's not going to end in 2012."

That little bit of footage combined with this little bit of PURE MARVELOUSNESS means I definitely never have to watch the movie and now, neither do you. Unless you want to.

(Note to those on the lower end of the Internet indoctrination spectrum: There's a bunch of Internet-y slang that makes it even funnier, but it's worth a look even if a French person saying "L'OMFG" isn't your cup of tea.)

Thanks to Christina for this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time of the season

Lacking any particular point to make this evening, I looked back at our blogs from a year ago.

There was a lot going on, this time last year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Costa Rica: It's a good thing I can't just take my ball and go home.

I took my four forms of ID to the bank today, but they wanted more.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In case you're in need of a time sink to wrap up the weekend

It's been a quiet day in Lake Rafael here, so I'll just direct you over to Awkward Family Photos (dot com), which I had heard of but never visited until it popped up in Lisa and Scott's Facebook feeds.

I'd direct you to my favorites, but there are just too many to choose from.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Too technical and not technical enough, all at once

Overall, I like my bank.

It's one of the leading ones in Costa Rica, so there are branches (and ATMs) in any town of any size. There's a branch two blocks from the girls' school, and I pass about three more on my way to work every day. I can check balances and pay utility & Internet bills online, and I can transfer money to other peoples' accounts (like the girls' school or the landlady), all from the comfort of my very own computer.

Recently, I needed to add a new favorite to my account so I could send money to someone for the first time - to pay for this here hard drive, as a matter of fact. When I tried to, it said the bank was introducing a new layer of security, and that I would need to purchase a special "token" thingy (essentially, a random password generator) and activate it in order to proceed. I was able to use the points I accumulate by paying my bills online in order to pay for the thing, but I still had to go in to the bank to pick it up.


This bank can let me do all that online and without, in my experience, any real errors. But, also in my experience, they really can't manage to update my personal info, so every time I go in to do identity-based stuff, I have to bring my Costa Rican government-issued ID, as well a my three most recent passports - that's the current one, the previous one, and the one I had when I first opened the account 17 years ago.

So I paid for my token with Virtual Points, printed out the bar code thingy, gathered my IDseses, and looked up the hours for the branch at which I had chosen to pick up the token. This bank is so civilized, it even has weekend hours at some of its major branches.

Except, for all their Come And Get Your Random Password Generator Thingy Now Because We Are Awesome And High Tech, the bank did neglect to update its website when the specific branch at which I'm meant to pick up my token thingy stopped having Saturday hours. According to the guy at the coffee shop around the corner, that would have been about six months ago.

Oh, and by the way? One of our clients can't pay his bill because he can't get a token because he's out of the country, so he asked his builder here to pay it for him, and that guy went in and his local branch is out of tokens, with no word when they'll get more in.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Coworker B, from the back room: "Jennifer, do you know how to say 'funnel'?"

Me: "Embudo."

Coworker B, from the back room: "Embudo."

Coworker A, from the back room: "Embudo."

Client standing with coworkers A&B in back room: "Embudo."

Me to Coworker G, at the next desk: "It's a good thing I tell those guys the right words."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Am I sensing a theme here?

One of Julia's current recorder pieces is a snip of "We Three Kings," but she doesn't remember the song herself, so I looked it up on YouTube for her this morning.

There are lots of results for "We Three Kings."

There's "We Three Kings" on something called hang drums, "We Three Kings," the Guitar Hero version, "We Three Kings" by the Barenaked Ladies...

Actually, the BNL version was quite nice, but it was a medley with another carol, so it didn't really serve our purpose. Bob eventually found us this one:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Tis, increasingly, the season

The girls are entering holiday mode at school. Julia gave me the blow-by-blow on the version of "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town" that they're learning for the holiday presentation thing, and then she asked me too look up Frosty on You Tube.

I didn't realize perspective had evolved so much since 1950.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was[n't] interviewed for a newspaper article today

El Financiero, Costa Rica's most serious, *cough*stodgy*cough* respectable newspaper--the one that thinks it's the Wall Street Journal and is printed on pinkish newsprint instead of plain old grey--contacted the office on Friday afternoon because they're doing an article on alternative energy.

The reporter is on a tight schedule and we were really busy all day Monday (not all the boxes were full of air), so in the end she sent us her questions by email. I consulted with B, who gave me some talking points and statistics, and then I wrote up the answers and sent them in.

I don't know how long the article is going to be, or how many companies the reporter contacted, but I know she was pleased with the scope of the answers we provided, so I'm sure she'll use some of it. The information was all provided to me--or was general stuff any of us at the company would know--but if there are any direct quotes, that'll be my words.

The article comes out on the sixteenth; the autograph line forms to the left.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hey, we didn't order that.

The first thing I had to do at work today was process a large import shipment that was delivered late Friday afternoon.

There were 1000 pounds of stuff in 25 boxes ranging from a cute little 4" cube to two actual wooden crates. In addition to everything we ordered, from two different suppliers, in the proper quantities, we had three small boxes bearing the (accurate) label shown below:

(Click to embiggen)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Two final (?) updates

So the car seems to be fixed now. Or for now.

We even drove it today--Today! A Sunday!--without mishap. In addition to all the other things I've talked about doing to it over the course of things, it now also has new spark plugs and a freshly serviced radiator.

Hopefully that'll be enough to keep it happy for a good long while now.

And I got the Karmic release of Kubuntu installed on this, the formerly broken computer yesterday. I'm using my brand new 1TB (that's a terabyte - 1000 GB) hard drive, to replace the drive that got fried by lightning a couple months ago. I saw enough of Linux when Bob had that on his computer to know I wanted to try it, and with a terabyte of space, figured it was time to go ahead. We installed Windows on the disk first (per numerous suggestions in Internet forums), then ... you know what? I could spend a LOT of time explaining all of what we went through, but really what I mean is, I've got things pretty close to where I want them. I learned a lot today about the Kubuntu environment and a little bit about working with the command line, and although I still have some tweaking to do before I'll be able to boot into the Windows side of the disk, I think it's well within reach, once I figure out what the right variables are for my setup.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Still Life With Glasses, plus, what I did today in addition to successfully installing Kubuntu 9.10

Friday, November 06, 2009

Honey, who keeps turning off the power strip?

I take it back

Yeah, never mind.

The computer suddenly stopped updating and no longer believes it has an Internet connection, Bob got home from work--which was closed and locked when he got there--in a car that is definitely no longer fixed and, well. We'll see about the getting wet, but I did have to dig into the laundry for some pants because I had been counting on wearing my favorite ones today, but they're a little long and therefore not very well suited to these bus commutes, where I walk a cumulative total of about an hour over the course of things and would end up with a stepped-on, muddy mess at the back of each pant leg.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


So I'm home alone, first time in a while. Bob's at work. In the car, yay. The original quotes for parts & labor held, so it came to ¢200,000 all together - that's about $340 and there's still enough to take us till payday, so whew.

I suppose I technically saved a little on gas by spending a cumulative 15 hours riding, walking/running to and waiting for buses this week, but the buses come out to about two bucks a day, plus I had to buy a new umbrella and this probably pushed my favorite old sneakers over the edge into unwearable [they were already smelly and haven't been really dry for four days now], so I suspect it all came out even, if anything.

Now I'm downloading Linux updates and looking forward to long stretches of time--entire days, even--when I don't get wet while fully clothed. Plus, it's almost the weekend.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Boring post about nothing

The car should be ready tomorrow, so I may never get to perfect my "leaving the office at the right time to catch that first bus" technique. The bus leaves every half hour and you wouldn't think it would be rocket science, but so far I've not waited less than 20 minutes at that stop.

And, on an unrelated note, I don't suppose any of you know anything about setting up a dual boot system on a new hard drive, do you? I installed Windows, partitioned the disk and installed Linux, but now I can't access the Windows part.

Anyway, I have to go. There's Friends to watch.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Steve, maybe your Ma could have a word?

So, I got the estimate today. They're talking ¢120,000 for parts - that's $200 for a water pump, timing belt and to "rectify" (I don't know what they call it in English) the head. Also includes the oil change. Then labor's to be determined, but it's estimated at ¢80,000.

How does that car always know exactly how much I can come up with at the very outside?

It's a very perceptive car.

That or Grandpa's been haunting it and I should really stop driving it on Sundays.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Because who doesn't love a good running tally?

Left the house at 7:30 a.m.

4 minute walk to the bus stop = 7:34
2 minute wait = 7:36
7 minute ride (¢180 [$0.30]) = 7:43
10 minute walk = 7:53
10 minute wait = 8:03

So far so good. Except, the bus I caught turned out to be the local, which explores every tree and puddle in every neighborhood on both sides of the regular route. Ergo,

36 minute ride (¢245 [$0.40]) = 8:39

Also known as, "about two minutes later than when the 8:30 bus gets to that particular point"

26 minute wait = 9:05

(Good thing I emailed work yesterday afternoon to let them know I'd be arriving at a non-standard time.)

11 minute ride (¢170 [$0.30]) = 9:16
10 minute walk = 9:26 arrival time.

So, when I left at 3:00, I told Bob not to start worrying until at least 5:00, which would allow for two 20-minute delays.

Sadly, I had three. Got home at 5:30.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Well that certainly puts things into perspective

The whole ignition switch thing sure seems like less of a PITA when you hold it up next to a blown head gasket.

(Although you should know that the new (used) switch is actually doing the exact same thing the old one did, which I don't think should even be possible, much less allowed.)

It does occur to me that maybe the ignition thing was a means of prodding us toward seeking out a new mechanic before we got any really important work done on the car. And if that's the case, it totally worked.

Our neighbor down the street works on cars all the time and I had already spoken to him about doing some welding work to repair rust damage under the car. So when we limped home sounding and smelling like a tractor trailer today, I went over to ask him if he could recommend someone who could work on my engine. He not only had a ready answer, he came right over and got under the hood and under the car and helped us figure out more precisely what had happened and what needs to be done about it. He's having a guy come over to work on it right in our garage tomorrow; with any luck, I'll only have to take the buses to work for one day (seeing as how it's close to an hour and a half each way; quite an undertaking when I'm only there part time to begin with).

Oh, and once we'd figured out the whole gasket/radiator/oil/overheating issue, I asked him about the ignition switch and I hadn't even finished explaining the problem when he was telling me what it was and how they could fix it.

I love my neighborhood.

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.

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

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