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Switching to Dreamwidth [May. 29th, 2017|10:07 pm]
livingdeb
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I am now posting at https://livingdeb.dreamwidth.org/.

I decided a while ago to move away from LiveJournal. I was going to switch to Blogger, but the easy way I had found to import blog entries to Blogger no longer works, and my eyes were glazing over reading about other methods, and I've been putting off writing, blah, blah, blah.

It was just so easy to switch to Dreamwidth that I just went with it.

I will not be cross-posting here; I'm just switching over and leaving this blog behind. (Actually, I imported it.) My apologies for any inconvenience this causes you.

I have a huge backlog of book reports to post. So I will be posting there a lot in the next few days. I miss posting.

Adios, LiveJournal! It's been fun.

Thanks, chikuru for introducing me to it and, coincidentally, happy birthday to you!
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On Saving Face [May. 11th, 2017|09:54 pm]
livingdeb
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I just read a book set in China, and the dialog seemed unrealistic to me, but it occurred to me that it's quite possible that it's only unrealistic in my culture and that some people really do talk like that in sensitive environments in China. There are many things about Chinese culture that I don't understand. One of those things is saving face.

I'm afraid that I've decided that I'm opposed to saving face.

Well, maybe it's okay to help save someone else's face, as a politeness to them. Especially if that person gets that there was a mistake and is already motivated not to repeat it.

But generally, I prefer an atmosphere where we can admit our mistakes as the first step to doing better. I like, for example, Steve Jobs' policy that if you break something you must report it right away and you will not be punished. Whereas if you try to hide it, you will be fired.

It seems really hard to work as part of a team when making suggestions implies that whatever you're making suggestions about is a failure and therefore whoever made that draft is getting insulted, when really the person who makes a first draft of something is actually the brave person who should be thanked for getting a detailed version of something started.

Another problem with saving face is that it leads to cover-ups. How can people like those?

I prefer the way John Oliver handles things.* For example, he showed a clip where someone mentioned that when his show first came out, he languished in relative obscurity. "I didn't 'languish in relative obscurity'! I thrived in relative obscurity! Relative obscurity is my middle name!"

And after discussing the latest threat to net neutrality, he urged that everyone take action to protect net neutrality, saying:

"Every subculture must join together as one: gamers, YouTube celebrities, Instagram models, Tom from myspace, if you're still alive. We need all of you, even--I cannot believe I'm saying this--even Donald Trump's internet fans on sites like 4chan and reddit, the most powerful online trolls of all. This subject is one of the few things that we actually, really agree on. So simply express yourselves. And harness the rage that you usually reserve for me. The rage that you used when you said I'm 'genuinely one of the most visually and intellectually repulsive people I've ever seen' with 'oddly long thumbs,' 'batshit crazy eyes,' and a mouth that 'looks like a cemetery after an earthquake.' (That's pretty good!) The point is: everyone needs to get involved."

*on "Net Neutrality II," Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92vuuZt7wak) (5/7/2017)

Admittedly, not everyone has a sense of humor, which is the most fun way to handle losing face. And sometimes the stakes are quite great, so I get it that you might feel you have to do it, but I don't like that people feel like they have to do it.

It's probably all part of my strong aversion to lying. So strong that I sometimes think I'm opposed to tact. But then I remember that real tact is telling someone something they don't want to hear in such a way that it doesn't hurt too much. (It's not lying to them or avoiding the topic, which are more common in practice.)

Really, I'm such a weirdo that there are so many places in the world where I do not fit in, and this is just one of the many, many reasons.
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Review: Costa Rica (part 3 of 3) [Apr. 26th, 2017|07:13 pm]
livingdeb
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I found a book on Costa Rica (by Nel Yomtov) from my favorite series (Enchantment of the World) and learned a few more interesting things!

Indigenous population: There's a site where as many as ten thousand people lived between 1000 BCE and 1500 CE with paved streets, bridges, and a large system of aqueducts.

Walker: He proposed the the US conquer Central America to create new slaveholding states and was backed by Cornelius Vanderbilt and a group of US slaveholders. "It was not until 1956 that the government started to recognize the right of the indigenous peoples to preserve their land, and set up reserves." But like many things, their laws are better than reality because they aren't well enforced due to lack of funding.

Quakers: The land now in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was purchased by the Quakers for farming; then visiting biologists recommended that the forests be preserved and the Quakers created a nature preserve and bought additional land for it. Now it's an official national reserve. "Visitors can walk the many trails in the park--including some built in the treetops."

Railroads: Building them was dangerous; the locals didn't want those jobs so the builder brought in Chinese and Jamaican laborers and convicts from jails in New Orleans.

Blacks: They now make up 3% of the population and are mostly descendants of West Indians, mainly from Jamaica, who came to build the railroad.. ... For many decades, many Ticos did not consider black people true Costa Ricans. Blacks from the West Indies spoke English and were subjects of the British government. They were not Catholic, like most other Costa Ricans, and they had established their own churches and schools. Because of these differences, black Costa Ricans traditionally lived apart from white Costa Ricans."

The 1949 Constitution: It gave women and people of African descent the right to vote and abolished the army.

Nobel peace prize: They were fighting "Nicaraguans who supported Figureres's old rival," so a border country was continuing their civil war.

No army: "The constitution of 1949 disbanded Costa Rica's army and replaced it with the Civil Guard, which is responsible for maintaining law and order... [combining] the functions of an army, navy, air force, police force, and coast guard."

Economy: The democracy is great, but the economy struggles (25% live in poverty), though that's the lowest percentage among Central American countries.

Fun facts: "Every baseball used in Major League Baseball in the United States is made in Costa Rica." And Costa Ricans export a lot of other baseballs, too, each hand-made, but baseball is rarely played there.

Economy: Intel has a factory in San José. Medical (and dental) tourism are also big (because many procedures cost only 40% of what they cost in the US).

Environment: 80% of Costa Rica's forests have disappeared.

Roads: Only about 1/4 of the length of roads are paved. The best roads are in the Central Valley. "Mountain roads are often washed out by heavy rains or destroyed by earthquakes." There's also a Pan-American Highway "which runs from Alaska to the tip of South America, extends the length of the country, front the Nicaraguan border to Panama." Like in Mexico, "nearly every town and suburb features a centrally located square with a church or cathedral."

Art: There is a local style of art called costumbristas that depict local customs and daily life. And there are local traditional folk dances, but Latin dances such as salsa and merengue are also popular and, on the Caribbean coast, to reggae and calypso. "Early Costa Rican plays often focused on humor and rural characters, but by the late nineteenth century, the works had become darker" focusing on the clash between traditional values and modernization. Indigenous musical instruments include the quijongo (made with a single string of hemp fiber and a thin wooden neck... attached to a hollowed-out gourd."

Sports: Soccer.

Housing: Outside the cities, coastal houses are built of wood on stilts; other houses with adobe and clay tile roofs.

Education: The equivalent of grades 1 - 9 are required as are school uniforms. Community service is required in high school and college. There are five public universities (none in San Jose!), and eighty private universities.

Food: indigenous (potatoes, corn, fruits, and turkey) and Spanish (pork, beef). Coffee and chocolate are also popular. There are three types of markets. Traditional markets have many vendors, offering produce, livestock (like chicken and pigs) cooked dishes (like tamales), and other goods (like leather goods, clothing, toys, and baskets). There are also pulperi/as, or general stores and malls.

Spanish vocabulary:
* Invierno and verano - not just winter and summer - "There are two basic seasons: invierno, the wet season [May to November], and verano, the dry season [December to April]."
* El pulpo - the octopus - "The United Fruit Company "had so much influence on the economy, government, and other aspects of society that it beame know as el pulpo, the octopus."
* Ticos/Ticas - "The term probably comes from a colonial saying, 'We are all hermanticos.' In the Spanish language the word hermanticos means "little brothers." (SpanishDict says hermanito is the word for "little brother"; see more information below.
* Tiquismos - expressions used only by Ticos. "One tiquismo is !Pura vida!, ... [literally "pure life,"] often used to mean "great!" or "terrific!" in answer to the question "How's it going?"
* flaco/a (skinny) - Ticos call each other mean names affectionately such as flaco, gordo (fat), or maje (literally "sucker or "dummy," but they use it to mean "pal" or "good buddy").

* Pulpería - general store or grocery store (no relation to octopus that I can figure out)

Differences in the Spanish language spoken in Costa Rica:
* "They soften and slur the letter r, which makes the r sound nearly whistled.
* They use the suffixes -ico or -tico instead of -ito and -tito. Example: They shorten momento, moment, to momentico instead of momentito. Funnier example: They shorten chico, small, to chiquitico instead of chiquito.

Blog(s) of the Day - John Green's 100 Days

I've been enjoying the vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, who make vlogs (video blogs) for each other (and us) once a week. They talk about important, fascinating topics and also silly topics.

I recently came across this "100 Days" channel where John talks about this year's resolution. In the intro, First Steps with Craig Benzine, he explains: "My best friend Chris and I are going to spend 100 days doing whatever it takes to make lasting, meaningful, healthy changes in our lives. We're trying to have a healthy mid-life crisis."

They had a three-part plan: eating healthier, exercising regularly and trying many kinds of exercise, and meditation. The 100 days have passed and so there are a whole bunch of videos out there showing how things went, mostly the different kinds of exercise they tried out, but also pictures of many of their meals (some recipes are available at the first link above) and some discussion of meditation.

They were told that once you do moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, there's very little additional benefit from doing more. Yet, most days of the week they did an hour of very intense exercise. They definitely ate better (and better than I do), and they tried meditation. At the end, they each had major improvement in their worst health measurement, triglycerides for Chris, and I forget what for John. Plus they were stronger and more flexible and fit. Bizarrely, the exercise made a huge positive impact on John's OCD. Inspiring!
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Homeowner Insurance Re-write [Apr. 19th, 2017|07:03 pm]
livingdeb
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This year my homeowner's insurance went up 9.5%. Unless you count the new installment fees ($2/month); then it's 12%. And last year it went up 18%, but at least that year they also raised my limits. So I called.

The lady who answered offered to re-write my insurance. Then if the new number was lower, I could switch to that, but if not, I didn't have to. And the new number was lower than last year, though not as low as the previous year.

Apparently, the insurance companies don't check on whether there have been changes to your property, so they just assume there have been some that you haven't reported. And so your rates just go up every year. But if they "re-write" your insurance, they ask you a bunch of questions all over again and start over with a new number.

The questions were about things like what the square footage is, what kind of foundation I have, how many stories, what size the garage is (I wish!), and what materials the flooring, walls and roof covered with.

I asked how often one should request a rewrite, every ten years? Every year? And she said very little changes in one year. She recommends every three to five years.

Other changes: 1) I'm now all electronic (they won't send me paper by mail), though apparently I can change that back online. 2) I'm paying once a year instead of in monthly installments. 3) I'm getting insurance for the replacement value, which I never could figure out if I had before, but which I apparently didn't.

Blog Entry of the Day - Miser Mom's "Garbage Offsets"

This is a charmingly-written post about 1) ways to prepare tomato plants and 2) how to offset your landfill use. Warning: this writer really, really hates wasting things and you might think she's extreme. Mostly that makes me happy but if it drives you nutso, so will this post.

Quote on tomatoes: "But my high-E windows mean that my tomatoes languish without additional help, making the transfer from jars to the ground problematic, unless I give them a way to get full-spectrum light. So during April and early May, whenever the weather is warm enough, I take my tomatoes outdoors to play during the day, and then bring them back in at night to protect them from cold and/or rain. What's different this year is that these field trips have a new tomato school bus, so to speak."

Quote on trash: "What would happen if, for every garbage can my family produces, I rescued an equal amount of perfectly good stuff and got it into the hands of people who could use it? My net effect on the local landfills could be zero, even if I'm not technically zero waste myself."
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Seeking New Blog Home [Apr. 13th, 2017|05:07 pm]
livingdeb
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LiveJournal has been sold to the Russians and as such is now subject to Russian laws about privacy, etc. I tried to read, or at least skim through, the new regulations, but they basically said only two things: 1) read and agree to these and 2) we are switching to Russian regulations (which, in spite of all the pages we are making you read, there is no information on these regulations here).

Googling appears to indicate that the new regulations are very similar. There is no need for alarm.

Yet, all my Bostonian LiveJournal friends are jumping ship and moving to Dreamwidth, which is apparently an open-source version of LiveJournal with no ads. I love the idea of an open-source provider with no ads. (No, I don't know how they afford their staff.) However, they don't currently have photo hosting, which you can get with a paid subscription to LiveJournal, though they are planning to add it. I don't currently use photo hosting, but I would like to. I haven't had pictures here in eons.

But another choice is Blogspot. Some of my other friends use that and it's prettier and nicer than LiveJournal and I kind of regretted not starting there after I had been blogging for a while.

I don't want to make the mistake I made in grad school: The first year in the dorm was so great that I stayed in the dorm a second year. Unfortunately, all the great people moved out and the new people were way less fun. Finally the third year I called around and found one of the great people who needed a roommate.

So I'm going to take this opportunity to jump ship, just as soon as I decide which new ship to jump to.

Any opinions?
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Review: One Way Ticket To Anywhere [Apr. 13th, 2017|12:14 am]
livingdeb
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I just read Rich Ochoa's One Way Ticket To Anywhere, a memoir, because I have met some of the people in it and because it sounded kind of interesting. It's about how a guy with alcoholic parents got through high school without turning to drugs himself. Or as it says on the back of the book, he gets kicked out of the houses of both his parents with nothing but a bus ticket, $20 in cash, $50 in food stamps, a garbage bag full of clothes, and a few close friends.

It kind of reads like a post-apocalyptic novel, but scarier, because it's real.

The Author

I probably wouldn't like the author. He's impulsive, self-centered, and really into sports. He lies and is probably a little racist and sexist. He also writes plenty of negative things about himself, which is kind of refreshing and kind of scary. But sometimes people overdo it with the negatives. I don't know what he'd really be like.

And compared to him, I'm a wimpy loser who gets by on plenty of good luck in addition to my good sense and minimal risk taking.

But he likes to think. And he's a good writer with a sense of humor. After reading this book, I feel like I have a clue about what it took for him to grow up basically okay.

The Plot

This book reminded me how when you are living on the edge, you are more likely to get sick and injured. And when you can't afford medical treatment, those sicknesses and injuries are likely to have a much more profound impact on your life.

Spoilers here!

My favorite part is about his friend from when he was nine:

"Besides being smart, he was a good athlete, like me. He liked my jokes and seemed to appreciate my obnoxious side, yet he had a sincerity I hadn't yet developed. He had mature judgment for a nine year old and was measured and analytical in his decision making, while I was spontaneous and often reckless. He know shooting someone's car with a BB gun would mess up their paint job and cause them stress. he didn't want to do that. He was concerned about other people and had thoughts that didn't cross my mind. I just thought about how challenging it was to try to shoot a moving target. He was my first friend who did what his parents told him, even when they weren't looking, and that blew my mind. I'd never known a kid who thought so deeply about the consequences of his actions.

"...In those subtle exchanges that all boys have with their friends, Eddie was rubbing off on me, his influence greater than my parents'; he was trimming the edge off my impulsiveness. And I saw a little bit of me reflected in him. I taught him to loosen up and live a little bit."

I am a sucker for reading about how people change into better people.

My second favorite scene was also a favorite of his and a real tear-jerker, the one with the lady on the bus. He was telling her about how he was going back to an old neighborhood for his senior year of high school without his parents. And he tried to make it sound better than it was so she wouldn't feel bad. She still gave him great advice:

"It sounds like you have some good friends. The more friends you have, the better your chances will be. Lean on your friends now, ask for their help and accept it whenever it is offered. Express your appreciation to them. Years later, seek them out and let them know you have not forgotten what they did for you. The feeling you give them when you let them know you remember will make them feel better about themselves. You may not believe it, but, by dong this, you will be giving them even more than they gave you. You just have to be patient to return the favor."

I definitely do not like asking for help, so this advice could come in handy for me, too, if I were in a position where I could really use a lot of help!

Then he ends the book explaining that real adulthood is a lot like a bus ticket to anywhere. You have a lot of choices you can make to help determine where life will take you.

The truth

Since I've actually met some of the characters in the book, though decades after the scenes he mentions, I can't help having opinions about the authenticity of the book.

His view of the people does not match mine, so it was fun comparing. Three characters I can believe; one I find really difficult to believe. But I see that it could be possible to perceive them the way he wrote about them, with maybe a little exaggeration for effect.

Self-published

I would never have guessed this book was self-published if it hadn't said so in the beginning.

If you like this sort of book, I recommend it.
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Book Review: Costa Rica [Apr. 3rd, 2017|11:04 pm]
livingdeb
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What I already knew about Costa Rica: It's a Central American country with a lot of US expatriates. (Therefore I am wondering if it would be a good alternative to where I live now if things go badly around here.) One of the Zoology professors I used to type for took students there every summer to do biology research. And ACC's Spanish III study-abroad class is held there. They have preserved a lot of their land and have a surprising amount of biodiversity.

I actually read two books with the same title.

1) Raum, Elizabeth. Costa Rica (Countries Around the World) (2012) - This is a children's book from that series that's not my favorite.

Ancient people created perfectly spherical stone balls, some as small as golf balls and some over 16 tons, probably between 600 and 1500 C.E.

Columbus arrived in 1502, saw natives wearing gold jewelry and assumed he had found a source of gold but was wrong. They had traded colorful feathers for it from Mexicans. Of course European disease killed many. And Native Americans now make up only 1% of the population, though there are also mestizos.

Brief historical outline:

1821 - Spain granted independence; it was run by dictators

1840s - Coffee becomes cash crop

1889 - Became a democracy

1948 - Ex-president who lost starts civil war and loses. New Constitution created and army abolished.

1980s - Nicaragua civil war spills over into Costa Rica; Costa Rican develops a peace plan and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

2007 - President pledged that by 2021, Costa Rica would be carbon neutral, using only renewable energy like water, wind, solar, and geothermal energy. By 2010, 99.2% is renewable.

Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south with borders on both east and west coasts. It is thought that this area started as volcanic islands that eventually formed a land bridge between the Americas. There are two mountain ranges approximately parallel to the coasts and most Ticos (Costa Ricans) live in the valley between them, which has great weather. Some volcanoes are still active and there are earthquakes.

It's a bird-watcher's paradise. And has 18% of all butterfly species. There's a protected jaguar corridor. "Farmers have learned to make room for the big cats. ... Although jaguars sometimes eat livestock, they leave people alone." There are anteaters, iguanas, monkeys, peccaries (wild boar), and sloths. In the ocean are manatees, humpback whales, turtles. There are also poison dart frogs, crocodiles, boa constrictors and poisonous snakes.

Tourism is Costa Rica's largest industry. Ecotourists visit rain forests, cloud forests, volcanoes, and beaches.

"Costa Rican's are very polite. They greet one another with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek."

Electric power, telephone service, clean drinking water and health care are available "almost everywhere despite the difficulties in remote, mountainous areas." "The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica's health care system 36 out of 190 nations." And the literacy rate is 96%; English and computer literacy has been required in public schools since 1994.

Ox-carts, first used to transport coffee beans, are a national symbol. There is an Ox-cart Museum, and brightly painted ones are often seen in holiday parades.

Of course they are into soccer, even in the smallest villages. And they watch as much TV as in the US.

They eat a lot of beans and rice, either plain or with fish, meat (especially roast pork), or eggs. They rarely eat dairy but eat lots of tropical fruits (like papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe). The national dish is gallo pinto (lit. spotted rooster). (Fry up some onion and bell pepper, add beans, then cooked rice, then add Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce (optional), and chopped cilantro; serve with salsa). In the picture, it's served molded into a pretty shape next to tortillas.

2) Miranda, Carolina A. and Paige R. Penland. Costa Rica (Lonely Planet) (2004) - This is a tour guide. I read only the first and last sections and a bit of the San Jose section. There is so much more detail on the history, geography, and, of course, tourism than the other book.

Tourism is mainly eco-tourism and adventure tourism (hiking, mountain biking, diving, rafting and kayaking, and waterfall rappeling). Even driving: "It is a badge of honor for travelers to boast about the disastrous roads they've survived in Costa Rica." And so they have a section labeled "worst roads."

Costa Rica was a backwater colony for Spain; in 1821, Guatemala declared independence for all of Central America. In 1823, it joined the Central American Federation; in 1824, "Guanacaste-Nicoya was voluntarily annexed from Nicaragua." Interestingly, in 1855, "an American renegade military adventurer [named Walker] ...arrived in Nicaragua ... to conquer Central America and convert the area into slaving territory and then use the slaves to build a canal through Nicaragua to join the Atlantic and Pacific. He defeated the Nicaraguans and marched south, entering Costa Rica more or less unopposed. ... Then, as now, Costa Rica had no army, so Mora [the president] organized 9000 civilians to gather their arms and head off Walker in February of 1856." They won, chased Walker back to Nicaragua, and set fire to a wooden fort where he had taken refuge. He survived to make "several other unsuccessful invasion attempts before facing a Honduran firing squad in 1860. In the meantime, President Mora's cronyism and a burgeoning cholera epidemic (that he and his men reportedly brought back with them) would become his undoing. He was deposed in 1859, led a failed coup in 1860 and was executed in the same year as Walker."

And, about that democracy. "Democracy has been a steady (if sometimes tenuous) hallmark of Costa Rican politics ever since [1889]. One lapse occurred in 1917 when Minister of War Federico Tinoco overthrew the democratically elected president and formed a dictatorship. Resistance from his own people and the US government soon put an end to his regime. ...

"In 1948, Calderón again ran for the presidency, but was beaten by Otilio Ulate. However, unwilling to concede defeat, Calderón fraudulently claimed victory, claiming that some of the ballots had been destroyed. The tense situation escalated into civil war, with opposing forces led by ... Ferrer [who] led an interim government for 18 months, and in 1949 handed the presidency over to Ulate."

About that Peace Prize: One president let the Contras and CIA use the country as a military base, but the next "overturned this decision on the grounds that it violated Costa Rican neutrality and his subsequent work on framing the accords that ended the war in Nicaragua and instability in other parts of the region would earn him a Nobel Peace Prize."

When I first read about Costa Rica not having a military, I thought that was strange since they border Nicaragua. Then I finally realized that their military was more likely to overthrow their democratically elected government than to protect them from foreign invaders, so they feel safer without it.

In the section on culture, it says Ticos are proud that they are not illiterate, not poor, take care of their land, and are peaceful. "Ticos will avoid conflict at all costs, no matter how trifling the topic. People will say 'yes' even if they mean 'no,' and 'maybe' often replaces 'I don't know.' ... Tough negotiating is not a strong suit." Conversations start with small talk, and "Bullying and yelling will get you nowhere." "Disputes tend to be settled amicably through careful negotiation and compromise, rather than a winner-takes-all mentality. Ticos do not respond well to boastfulness or arrogance."

There is poverty (23%), but "By the early 1990s more than 93% of all dwellings had running water and a little under one-third were connected to a sewer system." Yet life expectancy exceeds that in the US. Federal law makes spouses "legally responsible for supporting each other, their children and immediate family members requiring assistance (e.g. a disabled sibling)."

On wildlife: "Nowhere else in the world are so many types of habitats squeezed into such a tiny area."

On food: There really is a lot of beans and rice. For breakfast it is served with eggs, cheese, or sour cream. For lunch and dinner it is usually served with meat, cabbage salad, and some more carbs such as potatoes, pasta, or plantains.

And I'll end with (most of) my favorite paragraph in the book about something that's not good for people like Robin and me who are supremely talented at getting lost. "Though some larger cities have streets that have been dutifully named, signage is rare and finding a Tico who knows what street they are standing on is even rarer. Everybody uses landmarks when providing directions; an address may be given as 200m south and 150m east of a church. (A city block is cien metros--literally 100m--so '250 metros al sur' means 2 1/2 blocks south, regardless of the distance.) Churches, parks, office buildings, fast-food joints and car dealerships are the most common landmarks used--but these are often meaningless to the foreign traveler who will have no idea where the Subaru dealership is to begin with. Better yet, Ticos frequently refer to landmarks that no longer exist [such as the site of an old fig tree]."
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Post-retirement fashion [Mar. 25th, 2017|12:11 am]
livingdeb
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Now that I'm retired, I can wear pretty much anything I want. But what would I most like to wear?

Currently, I'm wearing jeans or shorts and t-shirts, mostly because they are the clothes I like that I couldn't wear to work. But maybe I can find something more flattering and/or more fun.

Practical

Above all, it has to be practical. I realized this when I was walking home in wind so strong it sometimes stopped me in my tracks and I was very happy that I was not wearing a dress or skirt. So sad--I like the look of dresses and skirts.

Another problem is that since I am not willing to give up Robin, grocery stores, movie theatres, etc., I will usually be in places that are uncomfortably cold to me. So even though I love summer clothes, I will often be wearing extra layers on top of them. I used to wear blazers; now I wear sweaters or hoodie-type jackets. At the very least, I'd like to find way nicer top layers, since you don't even get to see my shirt much of the time.

Also, I love spaghetti straps, but I don't like strapless undergarments, going without, or having straps sticking out.

Style

I don't care about keeping up with styles so it's best for everyone around me if I stick with "classics," that won't hurt other people to look at in two or twenty years. Uh, yes, I will wear the same thing for, shall we say, way too long by any measure. At least I patch the holes now.

Minimalist

I don't want millions of clothes. I want everything to fit in my half of the closet (that's three feet of closet rod) and my one (large) dresser. I once decided to have only black and brown shoes (plus white sneakers) and belts (with a few exceptions) and found this to be very liberating. I still like that rule.

At work I decided on all solid tops, pants, and blazers that I could easily mix-and-match, tying them together with jewelry.

I like the idea of scarves as another thing to make outfits more fun, but in practice I don't wear them much except to go outside in cold weather, which fortunately we rarely have.

I don't want eight copies of the same outfit that I wear every day though. I'm not really a minimalist; I just really like some of their principles. In moderation.

Flattering

Most of my clothes make me look dumpy. It's not just me (except for my crooked teeth); I know clothing can make a big difference. I tried to look at fashion sites to figure things out.

Pear Shape

I have a tiny head, small, short torso, and long regular-sized legs. They call that not a triangle, but a pear shape.

Apparently most people who are pear-shaped want to de-emphasize their legs because they feel like they have big, fat thighs and butts. I'm the opposite--it's my top half that's not quite as good, with much subtler curves that can, for example, disappear when I wear vertical stripes.

Short Torso

Some of the things you do for a short torso are the opposite of what you do for a pear shape.

Dumpiness

Bleh, I don't think I need to disguise certain icky body parts. I have, however, noticed that some sleeve lengths, skirt lengths, sock lengths, and shorts lengths look better on me than others. So I should at least look for more of those.

Modesty

I am not comfortable with blatent sexiness. I do not want plunging necklines, hip-high slits, etc. I don't need to look like a Pilgrim, but I do prefer the modesty end of the spectrum. I don't mind shorts and sandals and sleevelessness, though.

Skirts

I like how skirts are whooshy. So are there any good ways to combine the whooshy-ness of skirts with the practicality of pants/shorts? Here are some ideas I've brainstormed:

* skirt + bloomers - ha ha!
* skorts(?) - those shorts that have skirts on top of them. I think some hiking skirts are like this.
* a skirt that is form fitting down to the thighs (hard for the wind to blow up too high) and then flairs out. A lot.
* skirt + opaque tights - maybe a slip will keep them from sticking to each other when I try to walk
* skirt + what is it that the cool people are wearing these days? Yoga pants? Stirrup pants? I never really paid much attention.
* top with peplum or other kind of wooshiness (heh, fringe)

In the video game I'm playing ("The Trail"), you have to make your own clothes and you do it based on the materials available to you, your sewing skills, the practicality of the different garments, and the look of the different garments. The game characters are all skinny, which is close to my shape. And I have found that I really like wearing skirts with hiking shoes and short socks. Weird, eh?

Conclusion

I was once walking around a mall with some friends and they were making fun of this fifties poodle-skirt-shaped dress, I think with big polka dots on it. I said, "Actually, this is the kind of thing that looks good on me." I tried it on in front of them. They agreed.

So, I guess I have a clue. But I still haven't decided which of the flattering things I'd actually like to wear.

If there's anything you especially like seeing me in or think would flatter me, let me know, especially if it's practical. And especially if you have any more whooshiness/pants solutions!

Articles of the Day

Here are some articles if you haven't cried enough today. Or just read my brief summaries to learn the important parts less emotionally.

Human Trafficking - Only 5% of human trafficking involves kidnapping. Much more common is being "lured away from our family and friends with false promises and then kept there using coercive and fraudulent tactics." - Rebecca Bender

For access to short videos from several survivors describing how they would like the media to handle human trafficking stories, see My Story, My Dignity.

Gay Therapy - I always knew it was stupid, but I never really got just how really horrible it could be. Like "A Clockwork Orange" or much worse. For more information, see Salon's Conversion therapy is "torture": LGBT survivors are fighting to ban "pray the gay away" camps.

My favorite part: "After a video went viral of Shurka detailing the horror of “ex-gay” programs, he reached out to his former therapist to discuss what happened to him. The two conducted a side-by-side interview about what the experience was like for both of them. Shurka has since reconciled with his former counselor, who has given up practicing conversion therapy." (There are two additional links in that sentence, which I did not follow.)
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Postcards Are Ready [Mar. 14th, 2017|03:10 pm]
livingdeb
[Tags|]

I decided to participate in the Ides of Trump event. The idea is to send postcards to the White House telling the President that you are not happy with how he's doing so far and why. The point of postcards rather than e-mails or even phone calls is that they are tangible and personal. "No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury."

I also recommend that you take the time to communicate with your elected officials on policies important to you, whether you agree with this protest action (Ides of Trump? Really? Sounds so stabby!) or these ideas or not.

I love that they recommend writing on any and all issues of concern to you personally. Postcards are so small, though!

The preparation

First I had to get some postcards. Our local post office doesn't sell them. So I tried Creative Reuse (craft thrift store) and got some "vintage" postcards for ten cents each. I decided to get ten and bring them to craft night.

Then I needed stamps. I didn't want to go to the post office but learned that other places also sell stamps. I walked to my local Staples, and they did sell stamps, including postcard stamps, but they only had rolls of 100. But they were not charging more than the value of the stamps. I wondered to myself, "How many postcards will I be sending? Over the next four or more years?" So I bought them. (Just one roll for now!)

At craft night, several people wrote one or more postcards and I now have nine with me ready to send out tomorrow. (The other one is still with another crafter.)

The results

Below are some favorites. The names have been replaced with an X for the authors' protection.

**

Please remember that a country is her people, not just her borders--making America great "again" requires securing the needs of all of us who live here.

Thanks,
X

**

Please don't break net neutrality! Also, please fire Ajit Pai, who is corrupt, stupid, and not a good person. We need net neutrality for an internet that works properly.

X

Trump,

Do you remember when it wasn't safe to drink the water everywhere in Texas? I do. That was not the good ol' days. Keep our water clean.

X

**

Dear President Trump,

I think you are a disgrace to the office of President. I find your cabinet and appointees self-serving, grifty, and dishonest. I don't trust you and your staff to make appropriate decisions for the American people.

Sincerely,
X

**

Make America Great Again. Make America great for everyone, including radical Christians and black transsexual females. Make this a safe and healthy place for us to live. Make it safe to breathe the clean air. Make it safe to drink the clean water. Make it safe to be a child of color at public schools. Make it safe to publicly acknowledge my non-Christian religion. Make my high-profile employer's data safe on my computer when I travel internationally for work.

X

**

Dear Mr. President,

I don't see how a hiring freeze creates jobs. I don't see how destroying net neutrality and allowing unethical businesses to pollute more makes America great. I don't see how appointing the actual bribe givers protects us from corrupt politicians who accept bribes. Please try strategies that might actually work.

Sincerely,
X
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Spanish in Real Life - Short Conversation [Mar. 13th, 2017|11:21 pm]
livingdeb
We often try to talk to the proprietoress of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Spanish. Usually it goes like this:
Me - Hello!
Her - Hello, how are you?
Me - Uh, good, I mean well.

But this week we had a real (very short) conversation. I brought up that the whether was cold today. She said only a little cold. I said we do live in the south.

Then Robin said he liked the big bowl of eggs on the table near the door. And she said they are from her brother who raises chickens.

Baby steps!
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