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.

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