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:

video

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:

video

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!

video

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

03 October 2009

Not Really About Sarah Palin...

...okay, maybe it is. A clip from Real Time with Bill Maher (who isn't the best, but is far from the worst) posing the question, "What if someone else had ghost written for Sarah Palin's book?"

Today in WTF?ery

A while back I signed up with Polling Point, now called YouGovPollingPoint, mainly because they have points and rewards (eventually I'll get a $100... just for clicking the mouse).

Anyway, tonight I'm going through one of the same old polls... this one about air travel. "How many times have you flown in the last year?" "What airline?" "Are you a member of a frequent flier program?", and such. Then, up pops this question:


Then a question (I didn't screen shot it) about my relationship to "this gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual person", as though there could only be one non-straight person in my life. "I'm sorry, Bob, I'd like to be your friend, but I see you already have a good friend who is a lesbian."

And that was the end of the poll.

WTF?

02 October 2009

It's Graphic Representation Time, Kids!

(click images to embiggen)



Okay, and some text, too:


America’s Affordable Health Choices Act includes a new Health Insurance Exchange which allows individuals without coverage to comparison shop – encouraging plans to compete on price and quality. One of the many choices of health insurance within the Exchange will be a public health insurance option. It will provide important competition to private insurers – including in the many areas of our country dominated by just one or two private insurers today.

The public option will operate on a level playing field. It will be subject to the same market reforms and consumer protections as other private plans in the Exchange and it will be self-sustaining – financed only by its premiums.

Participating in the public plan will be up to the individual – no one can be forced into the public option. If an employer is providing their employees’ health insurance through the Exchange, it is the employee – not the employer – choosing the plan. The only way people would be in the public plan is as a result of their own individual choice.
(graphics and quote from the website of Speaker Nancy Pelosi)

01 October 2009

It's All I Got Tonight....

During my Level II English class tonight, the "I would like to buy a hamburger" scene from the Steve Martin remake of the classic Pink Panther was brought up.

Also, we talked about an online translation site that speaks the translations for you (which, let me tell you, it's very helpful to hear the words when one is trying to learn a new language).

So, of course, I ended up here.