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Everything posted by !Mark!

  1. That's called dumpster diving! We're all guilty at one time or another. But it's good that you looking over existing threads!
  2. I totally understand and accept the reasons for Lady Gaga's adopted persona. Madona has gone before her and done the same sort of things to attract attention. But there is a place and time for everything and singing the National Anthem is not one of them. If a performer wants to act outrageously they can do the half-time show.
  3. Lady Gaga scored the first touchdown of the game! I was not sure of what to expect when I heard that she would be singing the National Anthem. Given some of her past appearances almost anything was possible. I was pleased that she appeared with reasonable attire, reasonable hair and makeup and sang an excellent rendition of the song.
  4. http://www.amcostarica.com/ Published in English every weekday. The news is usually about a day old but is generally reliable. There are several other online rags but most of them are like online tabloids.
  5. Many years ago I vacationed in a remote beach area on the Pacific coast of Mexico. There were several homes there that were built for gringos and others as vacation homes. Most of the vacationers left the homes vacant during the very hot summer months since electricity and air conditioning were not available there. Most of the homes had a "safe room" which was built like a concrete vault. There the owners would store anything that was not bolted down or they could not take with them. Interestingly, most of the furniture in these houses was built out of concrete by the construction crew. It was built-in and impossible to move/steal. There the thieves would remove several roof tiles to enter the home. The safe room had it's own reinforced concrete ceiling along with four walls of the same construction and a steel door. I suppose that if I had a vacation home in a remote area in CR similar precautions would be necessary. I don't live in a vacation home nor in a remote area so I have no need. I leave my house any time I like, sometimes for extended periods, without worry. (Famous last words! )
  6. I didn't see the news clip. I usually watch the 7PM news on TeleTica channel 7. Must have been on a different channel. It is nice to hear that, for at least 75 days, Costa Rica did not have to burn oil to generate sufficient energy. I still don't understand why, with the abundant alternatives available in Costa Rica, they continue to burn expensive and dirty oil to generate power. While hydroelectric generation is certainly "clean" (does not pollute the environment) it does have huge impacts on the ecosystem by damming rivers. There is some geothermal generation. This could easily be expanded. What I mean is, just about anywhere you poke a stick in the ground in this country you will eventually find hot water. This is almost free energy. There are some wind farms scattered around. Without a doubt there is sufficient (maybe too much) wind here. The turbines aren't without their drawbacks. They are not kind to birds and can be a blight on the land, ruining some beautiful vistas. Costa Rica seems to be almost ideal for solar power generation. While initially expensive, the cost per kilo Watt hour is continually falling. While I really wouldn't like to see huge solar farms covering the landscape of Costa Rica, I do think that encouraging homeowners to install individual, grid tied systems could provide a massive amount of energy. But, instead, the govt. is proposing to tax energy sent to the utilities. What the heck? !!! ICE, CNFL, the Costa Rican govt. really, is missing the boat. Where I lived near Seattle the electric utility did a study and determined that conservation was a much cheaper alternative to building new generation facilities. They instituted programs to provide free low-flow shower heads and faucet restrictors to customers. They subsidized the cost of low energy products, providing rebates for energy efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems. They even subsidized the cost of light bulbs. For a while, you could buy CFL bulbs for as little as $1.00 at some area stores. The subsidy is now being applied to LED bulbs but they have not yet become as cheap. While it is nice to hear that, at least for a short period, Costa Rica was able to meed their demands for energy in an environmentally friendly manner. However, I think that this is the exception rather than the norm and that some more progressive thinking is needed change that. My $0.02
  7. I have a pair of Hi Tek walking shoes. They are sort of a low cut, light weight hiking boot with an aggressive sole. They are the worst shoes in CR when it rains! The soles seem to slip on every surface. I also have a pair of Sketchers made for walking which are great! They are very comfy and provide much more stability, whatever the weather.
  8. I've done the same thing. My Tica GF and my landlady have my info on the CR side. My best friend in Seattle and my former sister-in-law have my info on the US side. If there is ever an issue at either end (CR or US) they have my contact info as well as that for all of the other people on the list. So far it has not been needed but you never know when it will.
  9. If visiting the US (which is the focus of this thread) you can use GV to forward your calls to your US cellphone.
  10. I have trained almost all of my US callers to call my GV number. If I am around the computer,okay. If not, I receive an email that I missed a call and if the caller left a message you can play the message from the email. I can always call them back if need be. If I am in the US and using a US cellphone then my calls are forwarded to that phone. No need for the callers to try to decide which number to dial. Sort of a one number fits all.
  11. Google Voice is definitely worthwhile having. Even if you use Skype, Magic Jack, Vonage or whatever. It costs nothing for the basic account but you will need to buy some credit to make some, but not all, calls. I use GV to make calls to the US from CR, for free! All calls to US numbers are free. I also us it to call CR from the US. Those calls are a few pennies per minute US to CR. About the same cost as Skype or any of the other super-cheap methods. The only thing that GV really lacks is the ability to forward calls to your phone while outside of the US. You can (and I have) receive calls to your GV number on the PC but its kinda like Skype. You have to have the computer switched on and running so in that regard it is not the most convenient way to receive calls.
  12. Of course your number may change each time you visit the US but the number that folks use to call you will not. As soon as you buy your new phone and/or SIM you just need to enter that number in the settings of your Google Voice account to have calls to your GV number forwarded to. Yes, this does not end the need to have to keep buying a new phone/SIM for each visit but it simplifies matters for those who want to call you. The number they call never changes.
  13. Google Voice ! If you have a Google Voice account and associated phone number you can have calls to your G V number forwarded to your US cellphone. Also, when you establish a G V account you get to pick your own phone number so you can pick a number with an area code the same as many of those who will be calling you so it is a local call for them! Just ask your people to call your G V number. You will have to go into the Settings for G V to establish the number to forward to. If your phone number changes simply revisit your G V settings and change the number that your calls are forwarded to. Never a need to notify anyone of a change in phone number!
  14. Those who are 55 or older when affiliating do not pay into the CAJA pension system. You don't have to ask, it is automatic.
  15. Thank you David, um legs. I have already done a search on Trip Adviser and have seen all of the hotels around the airport. I was wondering if there was anyone else out there who has flown through FLL and could recommend a hotel. I am Gold on Marriott Hotels and see that there is a Courtyard (by Marriott) nearby with an airport shuttle. Have you ever stayed there? Sorry Jo, I'm really only interested in a hotel near FLL. One of my flights departs FLL at 7 AM so I really do want to stay near the airport. Perhaps on another trip I can do the South Beach thing.
  16. I have a question for those who may be familiar with the Fort Lauderdale, FL airport... I will be flying through FLL on my next trip (both to and fro the US) and will need to spend the night to make my connecting flights. Can anyone recommend a comfortable, convenient and reasonably priced hotel near the airport? TIA
  17. If it really costs the same to fly to/from Detroit compared to the southern US hubs then returning to Detroit may still be a good option. Especially if you will have free lodging with friends/family. The absolute lowest cost airfares to CR that I have seen were from Florida. Spirit Air notwithstanding, Jet Blue, American and a host of other airlines fly there so there is some competition. All of the southern US airline hubs are at or near major metro areas so all will have plenty of shopping available. Though I have probably flown through every airline hub in the US, I really only have much experience outside of the airport in LA and Houston. LA is.... well, LA. Big and nasty. Good thins are: Probably any store and/or product known to man will be available somewhere there and you wouldn't have to speak English unless you want to. IAH (Houston) is in the suburbs north of town. Lots of shopping in Malls and retail centers. Plenty of reasonable lodging (<$100/night) nearby. Of the two, Houston would be my choice. HTH
  18. Even with Global Entry you have to interact with US CBP officials and with TSA Pre Check you still have to interact with TSA officials. Albeit to a lesser degree. There is no way to legally enter/depart the country otherwise. Paul, Spirit Airlines is probably sending someone through the TSA Pre Check line. Why shouldn't it be you?
  19. But if you travel to CR once or twice a year is it really worth the cost for Global Entry. The airlines are now able to nominate some "trusted" travelers for TSA Pre Check. I think that the airlines (or at least some ticketing agents) are having trouble selecting customers for the program. Or maybe there is a shortage of good candidates. Most of those chosen appear to be elderly (or close to it) and not very experienced as travelers. They seem thoroughly confused about what is happening at security screening. Paul, as an experienced traveler I think that you should be a shoe-in for Pre Check. Maybe drop a few hints to the agent at check-in to get yourself in the Pre Check line and forget about Global Entry. If you have checked bags all Global Entry does it make the wait for your bags at baggage claim much linger. So you wait at baggage claim instead if at immigration.
  20. According to section i) on page 2 of the attached copy of the CR Declaración de Aduana form you will be allowed to bring into CR with you 5 liters of spirits. CR Customs Form.pdf
  21. If the team with the biggest airplane wins then Seattle has this one in the bag... Photos
  22. If you only want to spend winters for a few years then I don't think that I would recommend that you buy a home. There are plenty of vacation rentals available by the month and you won't have the hassle of first buying and then later trying to sell. You also wont have to worry about returning to an empty shell of a house with squatters living in it when you return for that 2nd vacation.
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