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David C. Murray

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Everything posted by David C. Murray

  1. We have friends who are awaiting the issuance of their cedulas so they can get driver's licenses and who have taken the Los Chiles-to-San Carlos boat. They were very pleased with the experience.
  2. Dana, we recently finished binging on Top of the Lake, too. The pronunciation there was hugely cleaned up for the American audience as compared to the way Kiwis actually speak. I'm not sure an American, like the lead character, the american woman, could have mastered it. My ex-wife has family in New Zealand and back in the mid-60s her cousin visited us in Washington for a week or so. The entire time, I had no idea what she was trying to say. Once, we went to the drugstore to buy cigarettes. The cousin asked for 20 (as if there were a choice), but it came out more like "twinkie" and that's what the clerk tried to sell us, Twinkies. Listening to the cousin, it was a pretty good guess.
  3. In my limited experience, if smelt weren't put on ice pretty quickly, they could be smelled from quite a distance.
  4. Bill, you wrote, "I guess you don't remember a few years ago when a review was done on the caja system and the finding were they were overstaffed, overpaid and inefficient. I would think this also applies to other government agencies as well" I do, indeed, recall reading that, and I hardly dispute it. Nor do I dispute that the same might apply to other government agencies, as well. I recall reading a couple of other news stories about the CAJA, too. One reflected that, in the main maternity hospital, routine prenatal ultrasound exams were being scheduled ten months out for lack of staff resources. That was several years ago. The other was that the pathology lab in one of the major hospitals was some 250,000 (yes, a quarter of a million) pap smear examinations behind for the lack of staff. So, does the CAJA suffer from a lack of resources? Maldistribution of staff? Inefficiency? Likely, but in many instances, it could be said, too, about non-government organizations. The fact is that all organizations, public and private, have certain inefficiencies built in, and the larger the entity the less efficient it is likely to be. Compare, for example, a Mom 'n' Pop pulpuria with a Walmart. What's your guess about how many wasted man-hours are clocked at the each?
  5. At the risk of changing the subject, it seems to me that the problem lies not in public expenditures which, for the most part, eventually make their way back into the economy but rather on the revenue side. To be sure, a lot of folks in Costa Rica live at or near a subsistence level, but many others do not. The problem, as I see it, lies in the government's inability to collect sufficient tax revenues to support legitimate public spending. While I have grave reservations about flat (regressive) taxes, given the government's inability to make an income tax work, my thought is that a "value-added tax" would make the most sense for Costa Rica. Because the actual assessment is made at each step in production and distribution (from harvest to consumption) and passed on from step to step, a VAT would be the most difficult tax to avoid. Were it mine to do, I'd do away with all taxes in Costa Rica save for a VAT. No more income tax. No more property tax. No tax except the VAT. As always, your mileage may vary . . .
  6. There's no disputing your numbers, but where's the surprise? Would you not expect labor intensive/personnel intensive activities, whether in the public or in the private sector, to have substantial personnel costs?
  7. Okay, SCORP, so does it surprise (or offend) you that ". . . salaries for government employees are a fair amount higher than the general working public"? I'm not clear just what a "fair amount higher" means in actual colon terms, but when you consider the nature of public employees' jobs versus the "general working public", it shouldn't come as a great surprise that the public employees may be paid more. Consider that the average wage of the "general working public" includes legions of very low paid agricultural workers, construction laborers, store clerks and the like. Few (I'll wager none) of the public employees cut sugar cane or pick coffee for a living. So the "general working public"'s average income is significantly reduced by the incomes of those low wage earners. By contrast, the engineers, physicians, nurses and technicians of all stripes who work in the public sector do earn higher wages, but their work requires more education, more experience, entails greater responsibility and has much more significant consequences. Think about the contrast between the work done by (say) the surgeon who opens up your chest and the campesino who picks your coffee. Which one deserves a greater income? And again, just how many of these lavishly compensated public employees are you personally acquainted with?
  8. Interesting, SCORP. What's the actual number of Costa Rican public employees with whom you are personally acquainted . . the "many" to whom you refer? And what percentage of all Costa Rican public employees does that represent? And how have you come to be so intimately privvy to their personal affairs! And do you share the details of your own personal life with them all?
  9. SCORP and Shea, what percentage of public spending is it that you attribute to lavish public employee compensation? To be sure, there are a few examples of what appear to be excesses, but what do you suppose the average clerk at Immigration, COSEVI, the Ministry of Health or a Fuerza Publica officer earns? And when was the last time either of you worked for an eqivalent wage?
  10. Temperature balancing valving is built into most modern shower controllers; however, if it's an older home, that valve may be missing. An alternative, which we use, is a temperature moderating valve on the output line from the solar storage tank to the house. Those adjustable valves mix cold water with the hot water coming from the storage tank. We had such a valve on our systems in Michigan and North Carolina and have one here.
  11. Rob, we used Swissol from Belen, but there are other options. Solar water heaters are becoming more common. An electrical supply store in Grecia had a couple of options to offer the last time I looked. While our system consists of two panels on the roof and a storage tank in the bodega, if I had it to do again I'd install two single-panel systems, one above the kitchen and one at the back of the house over the bathrooms and laundry. The cost would have been about the same but the "flush out" time to get hot water to the kitchen would have been greatly reduced. The single "everything on the roof" systems include a (typically) 53 gallon storage tank right up there on the roof, so no floor space is required. Do take another look at the payback time for photovoltaic. My calculations resulted in a payback of five to six years at today's ICE rates. If history is any indication, today's rates won't be tomorrow's rates, and the trend is ever upward.
  12. We're with you, chunchie2. We, too, have a grid-tied system. Aside from the environmental benefits, its real attraction is to reduce our billed usage to or below that 200kwh threshold per month and it has. Without making any lifestyle changes, last month's bill was under c17,000 but understand that, like you, we have neither A/C nor heat. An engineer I know who builds some homes here has a customer who has done some in-depth research. He's concluded that it's better to put your money on photovoltaic production versus water heating and to use you grid-tied PV system to power on-demand electric water heaters. Wish I'da thoughta that! It would have eliminated a bunch of plumbing and gotten rid of the storage tank in our bodega. Our solar water heating system cost about $2,300 to install and we've had a couple of repairs. At today's prices, $2,300 would buy about four 250 watt PV panels to add to an existing array. Another 1,000 watts of energy would supply all the hot water you need and, if you don't need it, your electricity bill would be lower still. Wish I'da thoughta that!
  13. A bank of storage batteries would be a similarly unattractive target. Devilishly heavy, who'd want them anyway? And how would thieves transport them? Going up on a roof to unbolt and disconnect a heavy, cumbersome and relatively low value panel so that you could then somehow get it off the roof in one piece, would be a daunting task. Thieves may not be the superstars of the intelligensia, but they're not utterly stupid. They're much more likely to go after your TV, computer, and other stuff that's high value, light, compact, not bolted down, and for which there is a likely demand. Of course, if you're just looking for something to obsess about, this or Fukishima(sp?) or Putin unleashing his nuclear arsenal will do equally well.
  14. Solar panels would hardly be a lucrative target for thieves. First, they're usually pretty inaccessible up on the roof, and they're bolted down. Second, they'd be unwieldy to handle and transport. And third, the "resale" market for them would be very limited. The stolen panels would have to be installed by someone who had a clue about what he was doing, and if grid-tied, ICE or another utility would have to be involved. Sure, it could happen, but I think there are lots of much more attractive targets for thieves.
  15. Savannahjo, my point was that if you have unlimited space, money, and solar exposure, you'll be able to do it all. Question is, are you prepared to make the investment up front? The guy who has installed and upgraded our system (twelve PV panels grid-tied) has done installations of at least thirty-two panels. That'll make a lot of electricity and probably enough, in most areas, to support air conditioning . . . if you've got the bucks up front. I'm not sure there's a practical limit to the number of panels you could install (except for that pesky cost issue).
  16. It is almost a certainty that you can produce enough electricity through photovoltaic panels to provide a home's electrical needs. The only question is whether there is enough exposed roof or surrounding real estate for the panel installation. The issue is whether you're prepared to make the necessary investment in PV panels and an array of batteries to store electricity for nighttime use. The cost of solar panels has come down considerably, but still an installation large enough to meet a home's entire consumption needs, including air conditioning in a coastal area, won't be cheap. Just what that cost might be will depend upon too many factors for anyone here to conjecture upon. You'll have to figure out what your demand will be, add in a "fudge" factor, and then go shopping. We have a "grid-tied" system which works very well for us to reduce our cash cost for electricity. If you're interested in some of those details, please let me know.
  17. Munoz y Nana, the huge ferreteria in San Pedro, has had wasp bombs in the past. In recent years, we've brought it, double bagged and taped closed, in our checked luggage, and Mike Rappaport has brought it in in a consolidated container shipment. The can we're using right now, Black Flag, doesn't have the range or the narrow stream of Spectracide. The latter is preferable, at least for attacking wasp nests.
  18. Wow! WOW! I had no idea about this part of the 9/11 aftermath. Thank you for pointing it out, Tingos.
  19. "Better head for those caves newman." Right enough, Jesse, American Samoa is a chip shot for whomever it is newman thinks has us all in their sights.
  20. I think you're thinking of Great Lakes smelt which are considered a delacy in Michigan.
  21. Nope. The NFL season kicked off last night with the Broncos prevailing over the Super Bowl Ravens on the strength of Peyton Manning's seven (yup, 7) touchdown passes. As for the 49ers, well, it's way too early to tell.
  22. Okay, newman, we've scrutinized these places. Do you mean just the city of Tunis but the entirety of Lybia, or what? And, by the way, I care deeply about the Davis Strait. What's step two. Are any of them on the way to American Samoa, or is that a separate dither?
  23. So, newman, just how long can your wife survive holding her breath?
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