31 December 2009

Blue Moon of Costa Rica

(with apologies to Bill Monroe)

New year ends with blue moon. I'm sure a lot of people will take it as some huge cosmic event, but since time is arbitrary (and far from universal ... ask any Chinese or Jewish people you know when the new year is), I simply see it as another chance to stare at the full face of the moon.


See y'all next year!

30 December 2009

The Penultimate Day

Of 2009, that is.

Heh. Penultimate. Reminds me of this:



Enjoy this randomly inserted random (not Tuesday or Thursday) Monty Python, and, if I don't get back afore midnight tomorrow....

Happy New Year!!!

29 December 2009

Turns Out It Was Actually 775 Consecutive Days

And now it's 2 consecutive days.

Of posting, that is.

There was some action (of the paperwork kind) on the phone for the new place today, so mayhap we'll have phonage and internetage soon at home. I hope so, because in another four days we'll have to move this computer over to the house, as it'll be January and we'll officially be outta this apartment.

We can (and will) go to an internet cafe (is like 40 cents for a half hour), but that will entail going somewhere, and using unusual (i.e., Spanish language layout) keyboards, and I don't know what all, so that Consecutive Days count might just get reset once or twice again before I get settled back into my regular rhythm and resume posting the heartpounding and poignant and ... well, possibly boring at times posting that you have come to expect from me.

Plus, I'll get back to reading y'all regularly and keeping up with what's going on in the world.

'Til then, keep it between the ditches, y'all!

28 December 2009

Wherein Blogger Decides That 700 (or so) Days in a Row Is Enough

So, I have had a backup post lined up and ready to post if I should fail to (or simply choose not to) come over here where to the land of internet connections (aka, The Old Place). I've been bumping the date by one each day that I did post, to cover the next.

Well, yesterday I was feeling a bit poorly in the tum-tum, and decided to let the pre-scheduled post have the day.

Only it didn't.

And so my streak ends.

And so it goes.

And so on.

And et cetera.

And ad naseum.

And.

26 December 2009

Happy Boxing Day

(aka, Day Whatever w/out Internet)

I'm over at Jen's old apartment, where we'll have a computer for a couple more days, to post, and there are people settling in in the old downstairs place. I'm not sure I like it, my first Costa Rican place taken over by strangers.... ;)

...and I can't think of a single other thing to say, except, I've gotta go to the supermarket and pick up a couple of things -- like some whole bean coffee so I can make use of the coffee grinder the girls gave me for Christmas!!!

Oh!

Before we moved, I downloaded a game (the "next" version of one of my faves) and it turns out it's the Italian version. Anybody wanna come down here and translate?

Later!

25 December 2009

A Tradition Continues



Merry Christmas [y'all] From the Family Costa Rica!! I hope you all got what you deserved wanted, and that you're surrounded by loved ones.

24 December 2009

Christmas Eve in Costa Rica...

... and it's sunny and about 80 degrees. Just like every other day here.

Those of you with White Christmases enjoy the heck out of it, okay?

(this has been day five of no Internet. Seriously, Dr. Monkey, I have no connection ;) )

23 December 2009

Day Four and...

...we're over here at the old place(s) to finish cleaning out the downstairs apartment (my former demesne) and hopefully turn in the keys.

Anyone wanna help sweep and mop?

22 December 2009

Day Three of InterWebs Absence

Missin' alla y'all, busy settling the new place and emptying the old ones....

That's about all I got for now....

See ya soon, I hope!

21 December 2009

Jus' Checkin' In...

Finished reading the 58 emails in my inbox (wow, teach me to be offline for two days!) and thought I'd say Hi! here.

We're getting settled in to the new house, and Jen tells me that there is ppotential movement already on getting connected over there. To the InterWebs Tubes, I mean. She and I are already connected :)

Hope all are well, Happy Solstice, and I'll be back soon!

20 December 2009

Just in Case

Hey, all!

I'm too busy settling things into the new place to go over to the old place where we still have a computer hooked up to Teh InterWebs Tubes (for another couple days or so).

So, anyway, have a good'n!

19 December 2009

Something's Happening...

The apartment(s) are emptying, and all the furniture (except for the li'l desk on which the computer rests and chair upon which I rest) is gone!!!!

And all the books, and the appliances, and ....

Is someone trying to tell me something?

18 December 2009

Wherein I Don't Have To Feel Bad About Not Making It To the Family Christmas Gathering Tomorrow

Because if this comes to pass:



...they won't be able to do any gathering. It's looking like they'll all be getting snow, even my siblings that live in the RDU area! So, Family, enjoy the snow and all that.

I'll be wearing shorts and a t-shirt, as usual. :)

(also, everyone knew I wasn't going to be there, so there really wasn't any feeling bad to begin with)

Updating to add:


[webcam shot in Burnsville, NC about 11:15am EST today]

and

[ditto in Spruce Pine]

(Burnsville is where I was born, and Spruce Pine is just a few miles to the east. The two towns lie about midway between Boone and Asheville, the two places where I spent the last couple decades)

For comparison, this is the current view out the kitchen window here in San Rafael de Heredia, Costa Rica:

17 December 2009

O Little Town of Belén

As I've mentioned, I'm teaching some Saturday classes now, over in the town of Belén (that's Bethlehem to those who don't comprende español), and I took a couple pictures out the window last Saturday:



Also, tonight the institute had a "training session" for several new teachers, and I was surprised to be asked a lot of questions about procedures and how "we" should do things. I didn't realize it, but I have the most seniority (yeah, six months).

And we also had Tamales: The Costa Rican Version. They were different from the Mexican tamales I grew up eating, but were pretty dang good.

16 December 2009

15 December 2009

So, What'd I Miss?

The (state run, i.e. socialized) phone company is doing a massive redo of the lines in this neighborhood -- just in time for us to be moving out, but it's a good thing overall -- and somehow it trickled over to the cable lines with the result that we were GASP!!! without internet pretty much all day.

Anything happen out there in the wide world? Retributive lightning strike Joe Lieberman or anything equally wonderful?

14 December 2009

It's All Relative

"I'm wearing your shoes because it's cold."



"I see."

12 December 2009

Ding Dong

More Merry Muppet Madness:

11 December 2009

Quick and Dirty

Here's the layout of the new house:

10 December 2009

Check That One On the List

Would you believe that Jen had not seen Miracle on 34th Street? Well, that cultural touchstone has now been ... touched, Fred Gailey proved once again that Kris is the one and only Santa, and li'l Susan got her dream house.

I think she liked it, and I know I did (having seen it many, many times).

09 December 2009

Run For Your Lives!!!

Head for the hills... but not the hills of potatoes.

Petunias and potatoes may actually be carnivorous plants, scientists now suggest.


Them spuds have eyes, and they're a-watchin' ye!

08 December 2009

Anybody Got A Spare 200Grand?

That's how much the initial flights will cost but, as will all "new" things, it'll get cheaper as time passes.

(yes, the video is essentially a long-form commercial, but it's still cool)

They rolled out the first of the second wave of orbiters, and it's called Enterprise. Just another reason to go up, as far as I'm concerned.

07 December 2009

Well, That Was Different....

We just watched the latest Doctor Who episode, "The Waters of Mars", and, as I said to Jen about halfway through the show, it was a different kind of episode. I won't give any spoilers, but if you've seen it and want to talk about it, you can find a link to my email address over on the right --->

In other developments, we drove around a bit this afternoon, mostly because I wanted to take a photo from a certain spot, but also to see if we could spy any "For Rent" signs that would lead us to TOTH. We didn't find any such thing, nor was I able to get the photo I wanted. I did get this, though:


Mayhap we'll try again on both counts (well, we'll definitely be trying more on TOTH).

06 December 2009

Yearning For A Taste

So, back in the Old Country (that would be Teh USA -- and more specifically, NC), they had snow this weekend.

Sigh.

I love snow... but I love being here in Costa Rica, too, so it's all good.

But there is something that I'm really missing tonight, and the fact that winter has arrived in NC means that it's available.


Highland Brewing Company Cold Mountain Winter Ale
(image found here)



Brewed in Asheville, NC, Highland's beers are available in lots of places in the Southeast of the US (distributor listing here), so if anyone comes across some, have one for me, okay?

05 December 2009

I'm Always Surprised...

...when I look at a map of visits to my li'l corner of Teh InterWebs Tubes:


That's visits from 62 countries. Wow.

Also, I am appreciative of each and every visit. Thanks, y'all.

04 December 2009

Today in the Annals of Teaching

I picked up a new class tonight. A Level 1 (beginners -- like really beginners) class. After a nice, hearty blank stare all around, I started searching for a way through the language wall, and, luckily (and somewhat surprisingly), there is a book for the class.

So we started at the beginning: The letters of the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months, and all that. And by the end of class, I think I had learned as much Spanish as they learned Inglés.

To be continued, I'm sure....

03 December 2009

Jeebus Wept

So, you've probably heard about this -- the Salvation Army in Houston is requiring proof of citizenship before giving children Christmas presents. Epic FAIL on the whole "Christ-like" thing, there, SA.

Well, General JC Christian, Patriot, has a wonderful suggestion included in his typically adroit takedown of the hypocrisy and stupidity:

"It'd be a real shame if wicked people tried to pressure the Salvation Army into treating everyone with dignity by doing something like this:

1. Download the graphic below.
2. Print it.
3. Cut it into check-sized pieces.
4. Deposit "checks" in Salvation Army kettles.


Please don't do it, and for God's sake, don't go to other blogs and mention it in their comments."

02 December 2009

01 December 2009

3442.5 Cubic Feet*

As Jen has already mentioned, we're beginning the process of moving from having separate (but contiguous) apartments to The One True House (TOTH). When I came here to Costa Rica back in March, I had two suitcases and a carry on bag and this apartment was pretty empty (basically a couch and a mattress on the floor in one bedroom). Since then, though, I've built a couple of tables and... well, you know how it goes. One acquires things.

So, over the next month we'll hopefully be finding said TOTH, but if not, moving all the stuff from upstairs to down here. And while Jen laughed at my idea of bunk couches, I'm not really sure we can use the third dimension of the interior space that well.

(*that's 17' * 27' * 7.5')

30 November 2009

Really, I'm Not That In To Holidays!

Just because I spent a lot of my sick time finding and downloading the four TV specials I listed in yesterday's post, and overnight last night downloaded the movie "White Christmas" to go with "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" which I already have on DVDs, doesn't mean I can't be a bit Bah Humbug.

Oh, that reminds me, I want to try and find the Patrick Stewart version of "A Christmas Carol" online somewhere.

29 November 2009

"Christmas-time Is Here"

First things first, I'm feeling much better today. Still a bit stuffed up, but definitely "on the mend" as they say.

So, about this Christmas thing.... I've been looking here and there, and I've finally completed the Christmas Special Quartet. The four TV specials that always "made" Christmas when we were growing up. They are, of course:
  • "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -- this was always the number one must see of the year.
  • "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" -- remember, Bumbles bounce!
  • "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" -- the Boris Karloff-voiced cartoon, not that dumb movie.
  • "Frosty the Snowman" -- this one is sort of border, cause the animation was, IMO, crappy.

I found and was able to download copies of all four of these, and they will soon be on a Christmas Special DVD. Since the girls have (mostly) been growing up here in Costa Rica, I don't know how familiar they are with them, but I'm sure we'll all have a good time watching them together.

Here's the opening of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for your viewing (and memory) pleasure:

28 November 2009

Hmmm

I'm still feelin' poorly, and I missed both Thanksgiving dinners to which we were invited (Jen and the girls went, and I got "Bobby Bags" from both, though).... Ummm, I found some downloadable scenarios for one of the computer games I really enjoy playing and have played nearly to death, so it's nice to have new stuff to do.... I hear that cake (at least Dora the Explora [sic] cake) and wine go together.... Oh, and I've been watching (online) the HBO miniseries "John Adams", based on the David McCullough biography -- which I've read, and I've found it to be very enjoyable.... Can't think of anything else for now.

See ya!

27 November 2009

Well, Looka That

As I may have mentioned (heh), I've been under the weather the last couple days. I was telling Jen last night that all the congestion in my head must have really been messing with my equilibrium because as I was sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon I could have sworn there was a low-grade, long-lasting rumble of an earthquake going on.

It seemed to me that the couch was -- ever so slightly, but nonetheless -- moving from side to side. But we don't have that kind of earthquake here in Costa Rica.

Except, as it turns out, we did have two of them yesterday. The first was while we were out (looking at a potential home -- it was not the One, unfortunately) and it rumbled on for about 15 minutes. The second (which was the one I felt) lasted about three minutes.

(click to embiggen)


So I wasn't as messed up as I thought I was.

Almost Immediate Update: I didn't look further than the seismograph page I showed you before I posted, but it turns out that the first one was apparently associated with a 5.9 temblor off the coast of El Salvador. Which could mean that the second was an aftershock.

I don't know as much as I would like to about all this. Maybe one of my readers -- perhaps one who hangs out near his favorite coffee shop -- could point me (and any other interested parties) to some layman accessible information.

26 November 2009

Aimless Pondering....

Is it still a "cold" if one lives in a place where there's no such thing as cold?

/goes back to bed/

25 November 2009

*sniffle*

As I mentioned the other night, I'm really not all that in to Holidays. I appreciate the good suggestions and comments on that post, but what I was really talking about was me celebrating. And now that I'm part of a familial unit with small children, I will have to engage more fully in the days. I have no problem with that, and maybe it will cause my own lost childhood wonder to rekindle. And if not, there's always Egg Nog with lots of rum. :)

Anyway, what I really logged in to tell you tonight is that there are a few things about the Thanxmasyear Arc de Celebration that I love. Like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Miracle on 34th Street"... and a couple of others. And tonight I found Charlie Brown (downloadable) and so -- after I preview it to make sure all the bits are in fact CB and not PR0N (yes, it even gets there) -- we can watch it with the girls. Jen isn't sure if they've seen it before.

Also, I'm sick and going to bed.

For those of you in the US, enjoy the turkey & fixin's, parades and football tomorrow!!

For the rest of you, get the hell to work! It's Thursday (or, for those on t'other side of the Int'l Dateline, Friday), for crying out loud!

24 November 2009

Kittehs....





(all via I Can Haz Cheeseburger [duh])

23 November 2009

22 November 2009

Heh

Check this out! I'm #10 on Google on a search for "soft kitty, warm kitty", which, of course, is a little song from the wonderful program Big Bang Theory.

Okay, This Is One Aspect I Didn't Think About

Christmas -- and holidays in general, for that matter -- really haven't been a big deal for me since I was a kid. Once I stopped getting toys as presents, the whole deal paled.

Here I am now, in Costa Rica, part of a family with Jen and her two girls.

Girls who are 8 and 11.

Guess what?

21 November 2009

New Classes!

This morning I started two new classes in Belen (aka three towns over). These are groups that are new -- both to each other, and to our institute -- and there was some question as to what level (or levels) for which the students were prepared. And it was left up to me to make the determination. Which was fun in a way, because I'm really just flying by the seat of my pants to begin with in teaching these classes.

Lucky for these students, I've now had -- or at least, I've begun (they've not all 'taken', which, I'm learning, is par for the course in Costa Rican language schools) -- five classes, so I do know approximately what the different Levels are expected to know.

The first class had twenty-one students in it, ranging in age from 30 down to 11 (yes, 11 year-olds), and the second one four students (three adult women and one teenage boy). I'm pretty sure (but have to converse further with the Director of the institute to be certain [hey, we were both tired at the end of the day]) that the two classes will be combined, because 4 students isn't really financially viable for the business.

Oh, and I decided that the class(es) are to be Level III. So best of luck to the students (and me)!!

20 November 2009

It Always Scares Me When This Happens....

The Weather Channel Firefox addon thingy (...do da wubba bingo) -- application, I mean is way cool. Right there on the status bar of the browser, current conditions and immediate forecast.

Occasionally, however, it does this:


and I have to run to the window to make sure it's not the end of the world or something. So far, it has only been glitches in the programming. If it ever turns out to be something else, I'll let you know.

19 November 2009

Truth In Advertising

(click to embiggen for full effect)

From a 1962 issue of Life magazine. Read more about it here. Humble Oil merged with Standard Oil as part of a deal that created Exxon.

18 November 2009

From The Request Line

I'm not sure whether Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein meant this comment as "please share the pie" or as "please share the pie recipe", so, in the interest of fairness (and since the pie itself is all gone), herewith be the recipe....

I like to use a graham cracker crust, but you could use any type -- pastry, oreo cookie, 'Nilla wafer, whatever. The filling is made as follows:

Put 1½ cups of milk (whole is best, but at least 2% fat -- nonfat won't thicken) in a medium saucepan over low heat, until bubbles form around the edge. A low heat will keep the milk from burning as it heats, so be careful with the temperature!

Whilst that is happening, mix together:
  • 3T (that's Tablespoon) cornstarch
  • 4T sugar
  • ¼t (teaspoon) salt
  • 5T unsweetened cocoa (or less, if you're afraid of real chocolate taste)


After the dry ingredients are mixed, add ½cup of milk and whisk until blended.

Add this mixture to the scalded milk, and turn up the heat to medium. Whisk the mixture until it reaches a boil, then boil for one minute (whisking constantly, so it doesn't burn on the bottom).

Remove from heat, let cool to lukewarm and add 2t vanilla extract.

Chill and serve.

17 November 2009

Leftover Redux

The pie from the other day, tonight we shall finish it -- most likely:




So good.

16 November 2009

It's Kinda Cool...

that being outside the US, there are a multitude of video platforms available that don't work in the US. There are also ones that work in the US, such as Hulu, that don't work outside the States, but having downloadable episodic television (both "first run" and older shows) is pretty cool. Even with the Chinese subtitles.

What's not so fun is when you get two-thirds of the way through an episode and the rest won't load.

15 November 2009

Food, Glorious Food!

Tonight's dinner:



Steamed green beans, tuna casserole, and made-from-scratch chocolate pie w/(sorta)graham cracker crust*. As my Siamese cousin Ralph would say.... 'twas guuuuud!**

* - "Graham Crackers" aren't available (that we've found) here in Costa Rica, so we used "Fibra Miel", or "Fiber Honey", cookies.

** - And we haven't actually cut into the pie yet, but the "leavings" in the bowl were yuu-mmy!

14 November 2009

We Regret To Inform You...

...that due to spammers, I have had to turn on "word verification" for commenting.

I hate it, too, but I'm tired of dealing with the glut of spam I've had over the last few days.

Hopefully I can ditch this change in the near future.

12 November 2009

Sad News

I found out this afternoon that my mother's health is deteriorating, that her heart is wearing out. Her doctors expect that she will need to be prepared to go to Hospice care soon.

So in her honor, I'm posting the final couple minutes of this selection, Sakari Oramo conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Jean Sebelius' masterpiece, Finlandia, known in the Methodist Church as the hymn, "This is My Song". It's always been Mom's favorite:

11 November 2009

You Won't Have Lou Dobbs To Kick Around Any More

Oh, wait, that was Richard Nixon, after he lost the 1960 Presidential election to John Kennedy.

Even though he resigned from CNN during his show today, we most certainly will have Lou Dobbs still lurking being a xenophobic a-hole ... possibly running for office?

Tenthers and Birthers and TeaPartiers and other assorted morans must be in celebratory mode tonight.

Come to think of it, those of us with consciousness and empathy and a desire to see the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few are a bit happy, too. No more Dobbs spreading lies on CNN (as the host of a show, anyway), and he'll likely get his ass handed to him if he runs for office.

Win/win.

09 November 2009

My Inner 12yr-old Would Like You To Know

Seen over on the Facebook sidebar:

08 November 2009

Sunday Night Classic

This Guy Really Doesn't Want a Mac...

Seriously, stop it. I don't care if Mac stuff is better. I don't care if Mac stuff is cool. I don't care if every Mac product comes equipped with a magic button on the side that causes it to piddle gold coins and resurrect the dead and make holographic unicorns dance inside your head. I'm not buying one, so shut up and go home. Go back to your house. I know, you've got an iHouse. The walls are brushed aluminum. There's a glowing Apple logo on the roof. And you love it there. You absolute monster.


Fantastically written tongue-in-cheek screed, h/t to Mike (and his roundup) over at C&L.

07 November 2009

30 Years And 2 Months Later....

In the fall of 1979 I started my first year of high school Spanish. The first things we learned were the "stock" tourist questions. You know, how to ask for directions, more beer, &etc.

Today, subbing a couple of classes at a location (an elementary school) I've never been to before, I finally made use of that first-learned phrase, "¿Donde esta el baño?"

Sr. Farias would be so proud.

06 November 2009

Just In Case....

there's anyone who hasn't yet seen this -- Jon Stewart lampoons Glenn Beck to perfection:



I can't stand to watch Beck for more than a few seconds at a time, but I can see every one of his "moves" in this piece.

Well done, Mr. Stewart, well done.

05 November 2009

Wingnut Math

Michele Bachmann's (R-Fantasyland) Healthcarepaloozathoniconbaggerparty, or whatever the hell she called it, happened today.

This:



= "about a million" people.

04 November 2009

Today's PTOtKW -- Cause I Don't Even Want To Talk About What's Happening In The US



Low clouds this morning, because there's a Tropical Storm (Ida) lurking off the Caribbean coast. It was pretty much like that all day, except when the clouds got thicker and even closer, meaning fog, and I couldn't see shite out the window.

03 November 2009

The Green Hills Mountains of Ireland Costa Rica



Another in my (apparently) ongoing series of

Photos Taken Out the Kitchen Window [insert fanfare]!!!

This one was around 6:30 this morning, and the mountain across the valley was especially green-looking and sharp. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but there it is.

02 November 2009

Monday Funny



(found over at Lockwood DeWitt's place. If you haven't been, you really should check him out)

01 November 2009

Dear Republicans, Are There Any Adults Left In Your Party?

Because the ones in Congress have officially become 5 year-olds:

But Boxer cannot hold the markup unless at least two Republicans show up, and EPW [Environment and Public Works Committee] ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) signaled that he has unanimous support among the panel’s minority members to boycott the session until they get more data on the legislation from U.S. EPA and the Congressional Budget Office.

Inhofe said he will wait for Boxer to file an official notice of the markup — expected today — before responding with his own declaration of the GOP’s markup strategy.


They're not even attempting to hide the fact that all they're doing is being petulant.

“As soon as we find out what her announcement is and what she wants to do, we’ll have our response,” Inhofe told E&E last night. “We’ll have our unanimous expression ready.”


Why don't they just take their ball and go home, and leave taking care of pressing concerns to some more mature people.

More at EnviroKnow (blockquotes from NY Times article, h/t to C&L)

31 October 2009

Oooh, It's Getting Spooky Here

So it's getting dark here in Costa Rica, the veil between the worlds is thinning, and a mist is forming in the valley....




And just to the right of that, there's a gorgeous sunset underway:


Happy Halloween and Good Samhain to all the Pagans!

29 October 2009

Move Over Disney World

Because Costa Rica is the happiest place on Earth. At least, according to researchers at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The inhabitants of Costa Rica hold the first position of this classification, with an average of 66.7 happy years of life, followed by Iceland with 66.4 years and Denmark 65 happy years. The United States is listed at 58 years.


So I guess I bought myself 8.7 years of extra happiness by moving here. Hmmm, I guess it would be pro-rated, but still....

I can haz moar happy!

28 October 2009

Counterpoint Post

To yesterday's (way) early morning photos, we have this afternoon.

Basically the same framing as the valley fog shot from yesterday. That's not the same cloud. :)


You know, one has the impression, before one moves here, that the weather in the Tropics can get boring. High in the low 80s, Low around 60 (here in San Rafael de Heredia), day after day.

--
I realize that at this point, some of you are thinking "Yeah, Bob, rub it in! It's snowing here now (or just was, or is just about to). You poor guy!"
--

Anyway, the weather here is anything but boring. The temps are pretty steady, yes, but there's always some climatical thingy (that the meteorological term, innit?) going in. (Way early) yesterday morning, it was valley fog. Last night, it was a so-distant-you-couldn't-hear-the thunderstorm, but it was all happening at eye level and lasted for a couple hours. Right about where that bright white spot of cloud is just above the ridge ine in the above photo.

The afternoon version of another of yesterday's shots, for your viewing pleasure.

27 October 2009

Early -- And I Do Mean Early -- Morning View

Taken at about 4:45AM today.

Almost East, looking through the glass louvers of the kitchen window.


A nice looking cloud to the south.


The view toward San José, with a low cloud hovering in the valley.


26 October 2009

Today In 1.364

I mentioned in my post (late) on Saturday that I've been posting at least once a day for about two years. Well, I checked the archives, and I've been doing so since 22 October 2007. That's 736 consecutive days and 1004 (counting this one) posts.

Which works out to 1.364 posts per day, in case anyone is keeping track.

I began this streak with a (pretty crappy) video that I shot just down the hill from the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago) [RIP].

My, how things (like my place of residence) have changed in the last two years.

25 October 2009

A Couple O' Random Observations....

  • Carnies are all the same the world over. Well, my sample is only the US and Costa Rica, but 100% of my data adheres to the "carnies are creepy everywhere" school of thought. The annual "village" fair is going on right now here in San Rafael de Heredia, and there are several rides for the kids. And the carnies have 'prison' tatts and ... interesting piercings and scars and the whole deal.
  • Costa Rica is one of the last places I'd expect to see the Battle Flag (Stars and Bars) of the Confederate States of America. Being that this country is not populated by rich, white (former) slave owners. And yet, I saw a roadside kiosk yesterday selling t-shirts -- for the local futbol clubs -- and Rebel Flags. I thought for a minute I had driven onto Joe Wilson's plantation. But then I realized he wouldn't be a Saprissa fan.
  • Despite some disagreement, "couple" can mean more than two:
    >Informal A few; several: a couple of days.
    (via dictionary.com)

24 October 2009

Wherein I See If Google Time Is Synched With My Computer Time

For the last while, we've had Julia's turtle, Tuga, in the kitchen downstairs, because there's a window that we could put her tank next to so she could enjoy the light (and the heat, being cold-blooded and all).

Well, Raxi finally "discovered" the turtle. Tuga is now upstairs, and Raxi has claimed the former turtle perch as her own:



Now, the question is, did I get the photo cropped, corrected and uploaded before midnight? Cause I've posted at least once a day for what will be two years in just another week or so (or maybe already, I haven't double-checked), and it would be kinda cool to keep the streak alive. :)

23 October 2009

My Way Or The (Gravel) Highway

My final installment in the Quepos Trip VideosTM is this one that I shot on the way there. The route we took was, for about a quarter of the way, a very well-maintained gravel road, albeit with a few spots that are... well, take a look:



This route does have the benefit of very low traffic volume and some stunning views of the Costa Rican countryside.

22 October 2009

21 October 2009

Even More Beachy Stuff

I promise it will end -- and likely soon -- but I wanted to post a couple pictures and I do have one more video that I think I'll upload before we close the book on the beach trip.

On the way to Quepos, we passed through some beautiful countryside:


and caught my first sight of the Pacific Ocean (dark[ish] blue on the right horizon):



When we got to the beach, there were big ass rocks and islands and stuff:



Where "stuff" = a beautiful sunset:

20 October 2009

Yes, More Beach Stuff

This was the sight that greeted us as we got out of the car on the beach -- well, not just as we got out, as the car is in the shot at the beginning -- but this was the beach:



My first time ever on a tropical beach. Looked just like I expected from all the movies and TV shows. :)

19 October 2009

Quepos Trip

Jen has more pictures from the trip, and I'll be posting some as well, but I wanted to post this short video tonight. It's a bridge that has to be crossed to get to Quepos and Manuel Antonio Park. The only thing I did to the video was make it sepia tone, cause that's just cool, and, as you'll see, somewhat appropriate for the filme. There is sound, so make sure you've got the speakers on. Enjoy!

18 October 2009

Just A Hint of Things to Come

Taken yesterday evening on the beach at sunset:
PHOT0054

Also, a correction. My previous post is incorrect, as I did the pre-posting thing and didn´t change it after we found out that we´re doing the tour tomorrow, not today. Wish us good luck, because it started raining cats and dogs (but no monkeys, ´cause there are none here) this morning right as the boat would have been loading -- and that prolly puts a damper on things.

A Three Hour Tour

So we're off to see the sites on the boat. Let's just hope the weather doesn't turn rough!

17 October 2009

And We're Off!

(There are some who say I've been off for years... but that's neither here nor there)

In just a couple (or so) hours, we'll be here:



I'll try to get some good photos for to share with y'all when we get back.

Have a great weekend!!

16 October 2009

Forecast: Continued Tropical With Light Blogging Likely

For the next 72 hours or so, because Jen and I are going to the beach for the weekend. We'll be leaving in the morning and returning some time on Monday.

Try not to break the Internets while we're away, alright?

15 October 2009

Speaking of the Climate....

For Blog Action Day, I'm reprinting a couple of columns I wrote for Rapid River Literary Magazine a decade or so ago. [A little background, for those who haven't been around since day one. I used to have a monthly column under the pen name of Phydeaux Speaks, because I ran a retail shop and I didn't want my column to effect the business -- I wasn't necessarily writing from a pro-business standpoint.] I can't tell you how disgusting it is to me that these are still completely relevant.

First, my piece from September 2000, complete with call to action for everyone to vote (remember how that turned out?):

Have you been paying attention to the weather lately? I mean, you've obviously noticed the weather, but have you actually paid any attention to it? Over the past couple of weeks, we, here in Asheville, have experienced everything from whilly and wet (approximately, oh, late March weather) to cool and dry (late Fall weather) to hot and humid ("appropriate" August weather). A year and a half ago, Asheville laid claim to a statewide temperature record. Do you remember that record-setting day? 80 degrees fahrenheit... in Asheville... in February.

I remember, as a puppy growing up in the northern foothills of North Carolina, consistently cold weather in the Winter, and, oddly enough, consistently hot weather in the Summer. To be sure, there were mild days, both in the Winter and Summer, bot for the most part, Winter was cold and Summer was hot (those of you who grew up in South Florida and Southern California will have to trust me on this seasonal climatic variance).

I also remember general precipitation patterns. In Winter there were regular snowfalls and/or ice accumulations (depending on latitude and elevation). Springtime brought showers and steady rains, Summer had its strong afternoon thunderstorms, and Autumn delivered its usual gentle rains and occasional early frosts. These patterns were well established and had been observed and relied upon by the Cherokee and other peoples that inhabited this area long before any Europeans came this way.

What about cataclysmic weather, you may ask? Of a certainty, Spring brought tornados through the midwest and in the Piedmont and coastal regions of the southeast, and, from late Summer through Autumn, hurricanes were always a potential threat. There were also periodic droughts and floods. I remember a family trip to Texas in 1975, the purpose of which was a visit with my grandfather, that took place during a great Mississippi flood. As we traveled west on I-40, we encountered standing water just west of Nashville, Tennessee, and didn't reach the other side of the flood until almost Little Rock, Arkansas.

I also remember listening to Walter Cronkite relay a news item, some time in the early 1970s, about a new theory proposed by climate experts, a phenomenon they called Global Warming, caused by something known as greenhouse gases. There was concern expressed that, unless more research was done and steps taken, these accumulations of greenhouse gases could eventually adversely affect our climate.

Well, it's thirty years later, and what have we learned? Carbon monoxide (CO) content in the atmosphere is at its highest since the time of the dinosaurs. There is at least one hole in the Ozone layer (which protects our planet, and all life on it, from ultraviolet rays from the sun) which, despite the banning of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is continuing to grow.

We have also learned that the two main contributors to these record CO emissions are power plants and automobiles.

And so we come to the heart of the problem: power plants and automobiles -- electricity and cars. The abilities to dispel darkness and be mobile -- two cornerstones of the "American Dream". A recent report shows that there are more autos in the US than people by almost 20 million. Cars probably outnumber legal drivers by upwards of 100 million.

Power companies steadfastly refuse to voluntarily reduce harmful emissions, and our elected federal officials (Senators and Congressmen) are equally steadfast in their refusal to mandate reductions. The reason usually given for this stance by industry and government is that it would be cost-prohibitive to retrofit existing plants to make them cleaner. I'm here to tell you that it will be much less "cost effective" (not to mention impossible) to retrofit our planet with life once our modern, enlightened society destroys what exists now.

So when you vote this November, remember that all the money in the world won't help you breathe when the air is toxic.

See ya.



And my column from March 2001, written -- as a letter -- from the future:

My Dearest Darling,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. The situation here is, as always, stable but chaotic. Since we are deep into winter, the constant stream of refugees seeking water has dwindled to a trickle. The biggest problem we have now is trying to provide shelter for those who do show up.

I spent the last two weeks stationed at the Black Mountain checkpoint (in the pass where the old interstate comes up the mountain). The few refugees that come up have been temporarily placed in the compound (the old Warren Wilson College) until they can be processed and either granted admission into the Conclave or sent back down the mountain.

I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing all these destitute people, folk who believed the government of the United States when they were told that the future was grand and glorious, that unlimited growth and unlimited power consumption were not only posible but actually preferable, people who never gave a thought to the fact that humanity was destroying the planet. I'll never get used to seing them trudge up here, thinking that things here are like they used to be. I see the haunted looks on their faces, with their starving children and their meager possessions, clinging to the past. They still believe, for the most part, that civilization is merely experiencing a temporary difficulty and that somehow the remnant of the Federal Government is going to make things better.

Speaking of Federals, a company of soldiers passed through the other day, returning to the War Zone after a week of R&R at the beaches outside Fayetteville. I spoke with one of them, a young man from Ohio, and he told me that their unit had been stationed in Little Rock and had been part of the army that had attempted (unsuccessfuly) to liberate Dallas from the Mexicans. The soldier also believed that things were "just about" to return to a pre-Collapse state. This was from a seventeen year old kid, who couldn't possibly remember much about the Old Times.

The best part of the Federal's visit was, of course, the barter. They had three crates of oranges, that must have been smuggled out of Cuban Territory, and several crates of (almost) fresh vegetables. In exchange for these delicacies, we were more than willing to allow them safe passage through the Conclave, and even hooked their vehicles up to our generators and fully charged their batteries, which was enough to get them to Knoxville and out of our territory.

We were very careful, while they were here, to not display too much power or water usage. The bivouacked on the old interstate roadbed, in an area where we had no winter crops, and weren't allowed access to any sensitive areas.

Some other rumors we heard from the Federals included news from Europe. Reports indicate that the Asian Hegemony has finally rooted out the last resistance cells of the Euro Army and that everything east of the Alps is now under Chinese control. The English still control the Isles and what remains of the northwest of Mainland Europe. Apparently, the Hegemony didn't think that invading Great Britain was worthwhile, since little natural resources remain in British Territory.

The Feds also passed on intelligence from Africa and South America, more news of total anarchy. It appears that both continents have completely returned to tribal unit status and that no national governments survived the turmoil there. Of course, none of this information is less than five months old, so situations could have changed drastically, but it now appears that the global population is now less than three billion people. This means that nearly four billion people have died over the last twenty years. And yet, there are people who still deny that the civilation of the late twentieth century, the gross over-consumption and amassing of economic power into the hands of a bureaucratic elite, the supremacy of materialism over stewardship, that all of these things, along with unsustainable population growth, caused the Collapse.

One of the Feds even told us that there is, in the planning stages, an invasion of the Arctic Territories -- an attempt to recapture the oil fields and restart production. I don't see how even the Feds themselves can believe that the attempt would by anything other than a total failure. The Inuit are too well entrenched, and without fuel for the tanks the Feds would have to rely totally on infantry to carry out such an invasion. It will succeed only in decreasing the population of North America even further.

It's hard to believe now, looking back over the last twenty-five years, that what we knew as civilization could have disintegrated so quickly. I remember seeing a television news program back in '01 that contained predictions regarding future crises and conflicts in which the United States could become involved.

These predictions were based on Central Intelligence Agency studies, and said that the most precious resource world-wide would be, within ten years, fresh water. As I recall, the greatest areas of concern in these reports were Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Well, this report was obviously one of the most accurate ever produced by any governmental agency.

By 2008, Egypt had conquered the Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, thereby gaining total control over the Nile River. Almost immediately after, the combined forces of Iraq nd Iran invaded Southern Turkey in an attempt to gain control of the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Simultaneously, in Asia, China and India began land-grabs that ended only when they had divided betwen them all of Southeast Asia.

American's first involvment in these conflicts came when Turkey requested NATO aid in their battle against the invaders from the south. This involvement, as you know, didn't last long. The OPEC states immediately stopped exporting crude oil.

Then, and to this day we don't know whether it was the eco-terrorists who were flourishing in those days or OPEC Special Forces, the oil fields in the Alaskan Arctic were destroyed, and the Alaskan Pipeline shut down, leaving Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana as the only sources of fossil fuels in the U.S.

That was when the Mexicans invaded, decimating the vaunted American Armed Forces, who lacked the effective counter to the masses of infantry and horse cavalry with which the Mexicans crossed the border. It was all the American forces could do to stop the advance west of the Mississippi River, keeping America in control of that strategic waterway.

The end of America's profligate use of energy came too late, however, to stop the environmental disasters that followed. Decades of over-consumption and pollution raised global temperatures enough to melt most of the polar ice caps, which caused worldwide sea levels to rise over one hundred feet, inundating most of the world's major cities.

Other climatic changes ensued, and long-established weather patterns seemed to change overnight, blanketing most of North America (not to mention Europe and Northern Asia) under heavy snowfalls each increasingly longer winter.

I suppose, though, that those of us who have survived these upheavals are, in a way, better off than before.

We discovered, to the surprise of most, that a lot of the things that we "had to have" in order to get by turned out to be totally unimportant in the real scheme of things (remember cell phone and automatic coffee makers?). Wealth at the expense of others, power at the expense of the environment, and decrees of government at the expense of the people all hastened the end of things "as we knew them."

It is my fervent hope, my Darling, that our children, and the children of the world, will grow up with the indisputable knowledge that we can make a difference -- positive or negative -- and that if we err in the future, it will hopefully be on the side of caution.

Love Always,

Phydeaux

*The preceding letter from the future hs been brought to you by the Ecosphere of Earth. We hope that it isn't too late already.

See ya.

Thursday Random Beck Python



Yanked from Crooks & Liars, where you can find the original Python skit, unblemished by Beckiness.

14 October 2009

Goooooooooooooooooooolllll!!!!!!!!!!!

The US is playing Costa Rica right now in the final World Cup qualifying match (the score is currently CR 2 USA 0), but I can't find it online. Luckily, the entire nation erupts (the people, not the volcanos) in cheers when the CR side score a goal, so at least I've got that bit of a keeping-up-with-it vibe going.

The US has already squared away first place in the CONCACAF group, so I'm not a bit hesitant to admit I'm pulling for Costa Rica all the way.

UPDATE: The final score was 2 - 2, which means that Costa Rica has to win a two game playoff against Uruguay next month to qualify for next year's World Cup Tourney.

13 October 2009

Finish Line

So today was the final exam for my first class. It's hard to believe that I started working at the Institute four months ago, but my first day was 15 June. I began with eight students, lost three (all three were from other countries and needed to "go home for a week" and never came back -- hope you're okay Omieda, Mauricio and Luis) and ended up with six. I really enjoyed it -- even though we didn't have a book for the class. Oh, the books finally showed up, but it was only a month or so before the end of the class, and too late to start using it.

I haven't gone over the exams yet, but did take a quick look at a couple of the "essays" (min. 120 words) and they looked good.

I took my camera this morning, with the intention of taking a picture of the group, but ... I didn't. Oh, well.

So, thanks for a good four months Adriana, Diego, Esteban, Faustino, Kevin and Kevin (isn't it odd that in a class of six Latinos, the only name that was repeated was "Kevin"?), and best of luck as you continue in your English studies.

12 October 2009

Happy Native American Genocide Day



Here in Costa Rica, the day is a celebration of Native cultures -- well, that little remnant of them that survived the Big Lie of Innate European Superiority.

Today I honor the Cherokee and Blackfoot in my history.

11 October 2009

Table For Party of No

Snagged from the great blog The Reaction, where it is properly labeled (and, btw, a weekly feature) "Truth in Comics":

10 October 2009

On The Nobel

I was gonna write about that tonight, but then I saw this video from the Rachel Maddow Show from last night:



As usual, she nails it.

I may write more about it later.

09 October 2009

Eagle Pride

Long ago, in the late Jurassic I believe, I was in high school, and -- now brace yourselves -- I was a band geek. Ah, but we had a kick ass band. Winning competitions left and right and all that. Our director knew some of the big names in the Drum Corps "biz" and our halftime shows became professional Corps shows the next year. He also knew many jazz greats -- for example Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Rich -- who came to our school for seminars and concerts and such. It was pretty cool, actually.

However.... it was the late Jurassic 70s and very early 80s, so the fashions were a bit... ummm... well, here's the logo we had when I was a senior. And yes, the uniforms depicted were what we actually wore. Polyester? Oh yeah. Those hats, btw, were hard plastic covered with green astroturf. Seriously.

08 October 2009

If The Shoe Fits....

Those of you who read Jen's blog know that she bought shoes yesterday (nice ones -- no socks necessary). Well, I got some, too!

(I can't find a photo of them, sorry)

Just your basic Converse shoes (not Chuckies), in a brown/black motif.

But, Oh My God, at the shoes for sale. Pink and Green. Chartreuse and Mauve (colors approximate). Green and Yellow. Most of the sneakers looked like bowling shoes -- either that's popular now or the shoe store wants it to be popular.

Oh, and the Chuckies.... All the above colors, plus Christmas patterns (complete with red "satin" tongue), animal patterns, etc. Wow.

I'm used to going into K-Mart and walking out the door 10 minutes later wearing my new $20 shoes. Partly because I'm usually pretty quick at finding a pair I like and partly because it's K-Mart. Not like there's tons of options. But looking yesterday was... different. But I like what I got and hopefully next time I can accomplish shoey happiness in a shorter time. :)

07 October 2009

Well, That Didn't Take Long...

And, holy crap is it funny.

So, I'm sure by now you've heard about the painting by the "famed" wingnut artist? If you haven't, here's a good link (I send you to Pharyngula, because that PZ Myers guy never gets any hits).

So some wonderfully creative and snarky person has fixed the rollover texts. Go check it out. Well done, people!!

06 October 2009

Jen's Staring At Me So I Better Hurry

Do you know what this is?


No, it's not the Van Halen logo --


It's a baby kitteh toof! Who knew that kittens (and puppies, for that matter) have baby teeth. Raxi was looking like she was about to hock up a major hairball, or that there was something awful tasting in her mouth, but it was just a baby (or milk) tooth. All the cats I've had in my life and this is the first time I've seen one lose a tooth.

And now I've told you all about it. Am I cool, or what?

05 October 2009

04 October 2009

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur...

Crouchy Kitty --


Curly Kitty --


Purr, purr, purr