Letters From Exile

...Scott Bidstrup's Life And Living In Costa Rica

Sat, May 31 2003

Last Day of May

Well, here it is the last day of May, and I'd hoped to have the house sold by now, but as it is, it's not even listed yet. Still dealing with cosmetic issues. The realtor says there's two reasons for being particular about this - first, this is a buyer's market, and they're really picky at the moment. There are a lot of foreclosures on the market, and relatively few buyers who can qualify. Bush's "tax cuts" are starting to show their real effects. The second reason is that they've recently started certifying home inspectors in Arizona, and the result is that there is only 10% as many people doing it as there was just a year ago. The ones that are left have gotten quite picky, because they can afford to be. They've got more work than they can handle, so if they annoy a real estate agent, it's not going to cost them business. So they are really thorough now, and they'll find and point out anything that's wrong. They can be real deal wreckers.

So I've been working hard to get the stuff done that the real estate agent knows they'll be pointing out. I've got a lot of minor cosmetic stuff to deal with, but I'm slowly getting on top of most of it. Today, I've got to clean up all the bird poop on the cool deck and pool fence.

The real estate listing from which I bought this house said that the pool is 500 square feet. That number sounds awfully convenient, so I'm going out to actually measure it today. It's an odd shape, but at least rectilinear, so it will be a pain to calculate, but relatively straightforward.

The June issue of IEEE Spectrum came today. It's one of my favorite magazines - the real cutting edge of high tech. There is an article in there about the origins of the humble light emitting diode, and the fact that the diode laser was actually invented first. That surprised me, since laser diodes are much harder to fabricate. Another article about high-speed broadband on the road. An outfit in Sandy, Utah has figured out how to calculate router tables on the fly so that as you're cruising down the Interstate, the network can hand you off from one access point to the next seamlessly. That's always been the real problem - what happens when you hit the cell boundaries. I still think my ideas for leveraging off-the-shelf WiFi gear can work just as well - and be a whole lot cheaper to implement, at least for fixed users. I might play with it a bit down in Costa Rica, if I wind up on a hilltop. The article made reference to my former employer, Lyman Brothers. I used to work for them doing forest fire communications. They're now involved with broadband internet in Southern Africa.

I always check out the job offers in the back pages, too. Occasionally, I find something interesting. There's an ad this month for a community college in Saudi that is looking for someone to teach telecommunications. I'd be well qualified to do that, but I'm a gay man and I'm not sure that the birthplace of Wahhabism is the place for a gay man to be. So I'll just continue on with my move to Costa Rica. Oh well, their loss.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 06:45:45 AM

Fri, May 30 2003

Hittin' The Deck

Today was a work day. Big time. I decided that the biggest single cosmetic issue I could tackle alone around the house was the pool. There is bird doodoo all over the cool deck, from a winter of not having cleaned it up, and there were some terrible lime scale deposits around the high water mark and behind the waterfall. So I went and got some pumice blocks and went to work. Been at it all afternoon, and three hours and two sore arms and hands later, about half of the lime scale has been removed. Geez, that's a lot of work! I'll sure be glad when I don't have a pool to take care of anymore! I've concluded pools are fine if you can afford to hire a pool service to take care of it.

Got an email from a young teen lesbian. She is indicating that she has a friend, also a lesbian, who is, unfortunately, infected with the fundamentalist Christian meme. Needless to say, that friend is all messed up. She's asking me for advice. Well, I wish I had some good advice to offer, but unfortunately, I don't. This religion business does an awful lot of damage that it never has to account for!

Not much on Democracy Now this morning, other than stuff I'd already heard about and have commented on in this space. Junior and his administration have been quiet the last few days. No new outrages to report other than the overturning by the Supreme Court, in effect, of the protections against forced confessions. Seems the Supremes are on board with Junior's plan to gut the Bill of Rights.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 07:38:36 PM

Thu, May 29 2003

Gettin' Antsy

Well, listening to the daily outrages on Democracy Now, I can't help but feel like it's getting increasingly urgent to get outta Dodge. The economic interests that are taking over control of this country are growing increasingly ruthless and arrogant. The latest, and most currently urgent outrage, is the media ownership rules being pushed, rather undemocratically, by FCC chairman Michael Powell (son of Colin Powell, the Secretary of State). I'm very concerned that the lack of public accountability and service that would be fostered by the new rules augers very poorly for democracy in America, and the tradition of public service by America's broadcasters.

An example: recently there was a gas main rupture in Minot, North Dakota that occurred on a weekend. The town has six radio stations, all of them owned by Clear Channel Communications, and all of them operated by remote control from Clear's corporate headquarters. When police tried to use the emergency notification system, it didn't work properly, and so they tried to go to each radio station's studios to alert staff manually to begin the evacuation of the immediate area. Of the six stations, there was only one that even had a staff member present, and he had no means of getting the other five stations' notifications on the air. Finally, the police contacted Clear's corporate headquarters, and were unsuccessful even there in getting the alert message out.

Imagine the loss of life that could occur if such a situation happened in a tornado emergency. Clear Channel's rush for profits could lead to considerable loss of life. It's a clear example of how the profit motive does not always coincide with the public interest, convenience and necessity. That is why the proposed rule changes are directly contradictory to the spirit of radio communications regulation that have been in place since the 1920's - that a licensee's primary obligation is to use the public's resource (the radio frequency he is assigned) first and above all else, in the public interest. If he can earn a return on his investment, fine, but that's a secondary goal. Obviously, Clear Channel and other media conglomerates don't really consider this to be their primary mission. Already, 80% of all news in the United States is disseminated by just six for-profit corporations, and how the public interest is served by increasing this number, is, quite frankly, beyond me.

Realtor was here today, with his wife and grandchild. The wife and kid went and played in the pool while the agent and I went to work on some of the cosmetic issues in the house. Our intent was to get some tile in the kitchen re-grouted, but we didn't get that far before he had to leave and go to a closing. He'll be back on Monday at 7:00 AM, he promises, so we can get everything done in a day and get the house listed. He's very concerned that in this buyer's market, that it look as good as possible, or we'll have trouble selling at this price. Since he's willing to help, I'm willing to have him work with me on it to get it done.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 11:32:44 AM

Wed, May 28 2003

The Good News and The Bad News

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now announced that the Weapons of Mass Destruction have finally been found! That's the good news. The bad news is that they were found buried on the grounds of Ft. Detrick, MD, here in the United States, less than 50 miles from the Pentagon. Yes, folks, we've caught ourselves red-handed with Weapons of Mass Destruction (like that is a real surprise). I wonder if we're going to invade ourselves so we can impose a regime change and put a stop to the threat to Peace, Liberty and Justice For All that these WMD's pose to the rest of the world. Somehow, I don't think so...

Second hour of Dem Now had an excellent conversation between Howard Zinn and Arundhati Roy, two of the best social commentators of the age. Very interesting and worth listening to.

I'm listening to the BBC this morning as I go through the overnight email (4 emails, 37 spam), and they're doing a story on the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russia. Apparently there's going to be a conference there among some heads of state during the celebrations, and the Russian government is spiffing the place up, getting it ready. Well, they're building new parks, re-paving roads, cleaning up all the trash, etc., and they've built a long wooden fence, painted green, that is intended to hide from the visitors the sight of ordinary Russians. They've closed the airport to all traffic except the planes carrying the entourages. And the locals are saying that all the refurbishing and spiffiing things up is just being done along a corridor - anything the visitors will see - and nothing else. One Russian complained that he had to crawl under the fence to get to the cemetery in which his mother is buried. Well, the more things change, the more some things stay the same. Potemkin lives, even in the New Russia!

The Beeb is saying that the dollar has "recovered." It's back down to $1.17 to the Euro (from $1.18 yesterday - whoop-ti-doo!). It was at 91 cents just six months ago. And on CNN-FN yesterday, a foreign exchange expert said he thinks its only gone half way to the stabilizing point. It's entirely due to the fact that we're running a $500 billion trade deficit, with no end in sight. All those dollars used to be re-invested here, but they're not being re-invested in the U.S. anymore, they're being dumped on the forex markets instead, and that's why the dollar is tanking. You can take advantage of this by getting your dollars out of the U.S. and into an offshore bank account denominated in Euro. I've already done that, and I've seen my assets grow by 18% in just six months. The law that makes this possible, of course, was passed for the benefit of the rich, but there's no reason you can't take advantage of it too. And if your assets are in U.S. dollars, you should. Just google "offshore banking" and you'll see lots of links to banks pop up that will be glad to give you an account. They'll give you a debit card you can use at any bank ATM in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world.

All of this means that there will be an explosion of price increases for imported goods, as soon as the foreign companies abroad get tired of trying to absorb the exchange rate difference. When they increase their prices, we'll see that as inflation. Rising prices with floundering economic activity. Stagflation, long blamed on Keynsian economic policies, will be back with a vengeance, even with Keynsian policies long gone and replaced by Hayek's free-market fundamentalism. Maybe Keynes wasn't to blame for stagflation after all! And maybe, just maybe, Hayek's free-market fundamentalism isn't going to solve all economic problems! Imagine that! The neo-cons - wrong!

Amnesty International has issued its annual report on human rights and terrorism around the world. It singles out the U.S. government and, of course, the Bush administration, for special criticism - they've rolled back human rights in the name of security and fighting terrorism, yet the actions they have taken in the international sphere have had the actual effect of actually degrading security and encouraging terrorism. Well of course, the readers of my page are used to me warning of that ever since the 11th of September, 2001. And it appears that everything I've been predicting all this time has not only come true, but is finally being recognized. So propaganda doesn't alter truth, and in the end, it is truth that prevails. Maybe that's a cold, hard reality that the Bush administration ought to consider.

I called my realtor. His wife apparently likes the money, but she doesn't want to part with the money, so he's coming by tomorrow to help with some of the cosmetic things that I need to fix, that I can't do by myself, and we're going to go ahead and list as soon as they're done. Finally, I'll have this house on the market!

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 09:47:38 AM

Tue, May 27 2003

Not Yet...

Well, it's the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, and my realtor had promised me an answer by now on whether his wife wanted to buy the house. Well, no cigar. I hope he's told her that this indecision is costing me money - two dollars an hour, in fact - and I want to put a stop to it. If I don't have a call by the end of the day, I'll call him first thing in the morning and ask for an answer.

Amy's show on Democracy Now this morning was really interesting. She interviewed Greg Palast, the BBC investigative journalist. Apparently, from what Palast is saying, the blood diamond trade in the D.R. Congo is alive and as well as ever, thanks to involvement by some of Bush's cronies, including members of the administration. Somehow I'm not surprised. He indicated that Pat Robertson's blood diamond operation has ended; Pat's mine got over-run by some of the guerrillas fighting in the region, and he's lost control of his mine, including all his investments in it. Aw, gee, couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I do feel bad, though, for the widows and pensioners who sent him all those checks, thinking they were helping him build a church, when their money was really financing a blood diamond operation that was only serving to help the bastard get rich. Typical hypocrisy of the televangelist crowd.

Worked on getting some more cleaning done today, and did some work on the pool. I really need to get some more work done, too. Such as one of the windows in the master bedroom is stuck and can't be opened. I may have to dissemble the frame. Not looking forward to that. It's going to be a messy, difficult job.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 02:36:12 PM

Mon, May 26 2003

Up Early Again

I'm up early again this Memorial Day morning. I think I'll take advantage of being up early to get some yard work done before the heat sets in. I'm really tired, but just can't sleep.

The spammers weren't all that busy last night. Only 21 spam messages overnight, the least I've had for quite some time. How patriotic of them to observe the Memorial Day holiday and not try to make me insecure about "erectile function" or the size of my member or get me to visit their latest barnyard animal porno site today with all its malicious Java scripts and sticky pop-ups. All that's in my inbox are just a few of the usual - trying to get me to fall for the oldest scam in the book - getting rich quick by stuffing envelopes at home. Like that's not been done by machine for at least thirty years on. Two copies of that one. Or having me lose 15 pounds tonight while I sleep after having pizza and ice cream for dinner. Yeah. Sounds good to me. Why don't they just mail me a four-day sample? That's all I need to get to an ideal weight. Imagine! Just four days, and all I gotta do is take this pill and sleep it off! What a marvel! Is America grand or what?

Doesn't look like there will be a Democracy Now show today, so I'm going to skip breakfast for now and get right to work on the yard work. I'll shower and have breakfast later - wash all that grime away in the morning shower. And I'm really looking forward to moving out of this heat to the tropics, where the heat is reasonable!

I got my Vonage account established. As soon as the Analog Telephone Adaptor gets here, I'll be able to plug a phone into my router and you'll be able to call me by dialing a number in Miami. I'll soon have a Miami address, too. I'm taking both to Costa Rica, so I can continue my consulting business from there, as if I were here in the States. The world is indeed becoming a smaller place!

====

Well, I worked at the yard work for an hour. Got the shriveled-up cactus fruit around the shrub poinciana all cleaned up, and also the fallen lemons under the tree in the play area. That was enough! It's 8:30 in the morning, and already it's hot outside - high 80's. Supposed to hit 102 today. Summer's here already, darn it! Really looking forward to a cool shower!

There was a Democracy Now show today, and Amy played the second half of the movie she started Friday, and that was the documentary on the U.S. complicity in the death of 3,000 Taliban that had surrendered in Afghanistan.

Finished reading "The Real Terror Network" today. Wow, what a book! It's hard to believe it was written in 1982, it reads like it was written last week. All the people are the same - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and all the policies are the same as were in place in the Reagan administration because the cast of characters, along with their agendas, are all the same.

It's interesting what the book says about Costa Rica. Apparently Alexander Haig once said that what Costa Rica needed was a good dose of militarism. Excuse me, but the lack of militarization is what makes it the wonderful place it is. Ronald Reagan tried to subvert the Costa Rican democracy by cutting off aid, too, and looking the other way while Oliver North set up a guerilla base in Guanacaste, at about the same time that the IMF put such a hard squeeze on the country that it nearly destroyed the fabric of Tico society. Guess Costa Rica wasn't fascist enough for Reagan's tastes, and destroying Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala weren't enough to satisfy his egotistical, imperial self-importance. If there is a hell, I hope that arrogant, selfish elitist rots in it - after a long, agonizing death from the Alzheimer's that he could have helped find a cure for, if he hadn't stopped fetal tissue research. I'm sorry, but I think he deserves everything he's suffering through and a lot more, and for a lot of reasons, not just what he did to Central America. I have sympathy for some of his family, but not for him.

Watching the Canadian "National" news tonight, I see they're softening their marijuana laws up there. Of course Washington doesn't much care for the idea. Which reminds me, there was a special about cocaine on the History Channel recently. When it was still legal, you could buy a re-usable nickel-plated syringe kit through the Sears and Roebuck catalog for $1.50. Apparently it was originally outlawed in 1920 in the U.S. when the addiction rate had risen to a scandalous 200 per 10,000 general population, or 2%. Which prompted me to look up the stats and find out how effective our War on Drugs has been. Turns out the current addiction rate in the United States is 336 per 10,000, or 3.4%. How 'bout that, Dubya? What's wrong with this picture?

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 06:56:15 AM

Sun, May 25 2003

Another Day - And Another Fifty Bucks Poorer

Well, I'm up later this morning as I went to bed rather late last night. Seem to be well rested in spite of it, though.

Yes, every day I am still in this house, I'm $50 poorer, because of the mortgage payments and other costs associated with owning this house. So yes, I'm very eager to get this house sold and get out of here. Tomorrow's another wasted day (Memorial day) that will cost me another $50. I can't wait to be out from under this mortgage!

Not much in the morning email, just 114 spam messages (no, I'm not exaggerating, but at least I can deal with all that spam - thank God for POPfile!) and only two genuine emails, neither of which were anything of significance that required a response. So it is shaping up to another quiet morning here in Beautiful North Phoenix. Gonna get to 101 today, the first hundred degree day of the season. After yard work, I might see if the pool is warm enough yet. I'm already running the air conditioner this morning, getting the place chilled down for the heat. It's 9:20 in the morning as I write this, and it's already hotter here than it ever gets where I'll be living in Costa Rica.

On a tip from my friend Gary, I decided to listen to Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" this morning. I'd been tipped off that he was really going to take on the Bush administration, and boy, did he ever! If he keeps this up, he's going to face the same sort of FBI scrutiny that I've been subjected to. Jokes about "7-day war bonds" and the "asses of evil" aren't going to go down with this administration. If he's got the guts to stand up to them, great, but I am not sure he knows just who he's dealing with. Maybe he thinks that he's high-profile enough that they wouldn't dare, but that doesn't seem to have stopped them before. They've jailed without trial well-known journalists and street protesters, hundreds at a time. These fascists (and yes, I'm using the other "F" word these days) are getting bolder by the day.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 09:17:05 AM

Sat, May 24 2003

Weekend same as weekday

It's Saturday morning, and there's not much on the agenda today. Some minor yard work and that's about all - trim the palms out by the pool, and rake up the windfall fruit around the lemon and orange trees. No Democracy Now to listen to, so I'm listening to Radio Dos instead. It's the best 70's/80's light rocker station I've found. Sure glad I'll have it to listen to when I'm in Costa Rica. It fills my fantasy of having a 70's oldie station to listen to while I'm crashing through the jungle mudholes in my Jeep on the way to a photo shoot.

I used to listen to Morning Edition on NPR, but I've concluded that NPR has gone from National Public Radio into just a fluffy Nationalist Public Relations anymore, so I've pretty much given up on it. It's sad. Thirty years ago, it was one of the best public radios in the world, but as the conservatives have been strong-arming it to move to the right over the years, it's slowly degraded into worthlessness.

I'm planning to announce the blog today, and see if I can generate some traffic for it. I've also got to look into what it would take to get my subdomains working the way I'd like, so I can start moving Veritas Et Ratio to its new home at bidstrup.info, so I can start building the bidstrup.com web site into a purely commercial site for my photography/consulting venture. I need a non-controversial web site for my personal homepage, and I may use bidstrup.info for that, and register a new domain for Veritas Et Ratio. We'll see what I like that is available.

Looking at the email, I'm astonished at how quickly the flood of spam is just getting larger and larger. In the last two months, my overnight spam has gone from an average of 20 messages to over 100 per night - in just two months! I get continually ever more irritated at the politicians for their lack of spine in dealing with the issue of spam. Every single one of the dozen bills in congress would have the effect of increasing, not decreasing the spam problem. They seem to think that you can solve the problem by simply requiring spammers to do certain things legitimately - honest headers, subject lines, etc. Well, all that would do is have the effect of giving spammers a federal license to do what they're doing. The problem isn't content, it's volume. VOLUME! Get it, congress? The only way - the only way - to solve the problem is to outlaw unsolicited bulk commercial email outright, and make penalties for failure to comply very severe. Period. Finish. End of question.

My neighbor is out, washing his truck again. Fourth time this week. Its a very, very clean pickup! There are three other vehicles in his driveway, all of which badly need washing, but his truck is the one that gets the attention. At this rate, he's gonna wear out the paint!

The realtor has promised me an answer by Monday on whether his wife is willing to buy the house. That's when I'll know if I'm out of here quickly or whether I'll have to wait until the house is sold. Geez, I hope she buys. I want outta here bad!

Been reading the Tico Times tonight. That's the English-language daily in San Jose, Costa Rica. There's a big scandal down there about one of these "tough love" boot camps for wayward teens. Seems that an outfit calling itself the "Dundee Ranch" (Crocodile Dundee? Hey, cute!) was hooked up with a Utah-based outfit to take rebellious teens from the U.S. and plunk them down in a rudimentary facility in the middle of the jungle, and then "tough love" them back into being responsible, respectable young people. Well, it turns out that some of the kids were being held against their will (violation of Costa Rican law), were being punished by being put in dog kennel cages (another violation of Costa Rican law), punished by the withholding of meals (another violation of Costa RIcan law), subject to discipline by the older inmates (another violation of Costa Rican law), and about 2/3 were in the country on expired tourist visas (another violation of Costa Rican law) not to mention various other violations of Costa Rican law.

Well, I coulda told 'em. I've seen first hand what those Utah-based "tough love" places do to kids from the scandals that happened in Utah while I lived there, not to mention my encounters with 'em in the Utah backcountry, so I wasn't surprised at all about the allegations.

Things got really fun, though, when the child welfare people went out to the "ranch" and told the kids that they couldn't be held against their will and that meant they were free to leave any time they pleased, and that the owners were in trouble for the way they'd been treated. Well, you can imagine what happened. Of the hundred odd kids in the place, 37 promptly gathered up their things and walked out the door and started hitchhiking all over the country. The rest started a riot that went on for a day and a half and thoroughly trashed the place.

Well, they've managed to round up all but four of the walk-outs, and some of the inmates are being sent back to the States, and the rest to an affiliated place in Jamaica (which, according to the Times, apparently has a rather nasty reputation). The director is being held in jail in lieu of a $237,000 bond on charges of child endangerment and unlawful imprisonment, as well as assorted and sundry violations of his operating permit. The judge says it's unlikely he'll be out any earlier than six weeks.

Pura vida!

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 08:54:35 AM

Fri, May 23 2003

Outrages Du Jour

Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, says this morning that the "roadmap" will be submitted to his cabinet for approval. This, after all he said about not accepting it because it imposes a freeze on "settlement activity" (read: squatting) in the Occupied Territories.

This tells me that Bush has offered a quid-pro-quo for accepting it, and I am quite certain that it means that Bush, undoubtedly as a result of his apocalypticist inclinations, has indicated that he will simply look the other way as the theft of hilltop land continues and Israel pushes its boundary eastward, both activities in direct violation of several Geneva conventions and Security Council resolutions to which Israel is signatory. And we wonder why the Arabs and Muslims are committing terror activity against us? C'mon, Junior, get real! If you really want to fight terrorism, the first step is to recognize why the Islamic terrorists are angry at us in the first place!

What ever happened to "Thou Shalt Not Steal"? Or "Thou Shalt Not Covet"? This behavior of the Zionists demonstrates very clearly what goes wrong when a government, any government, is organized along religious lines, and why Americans are very foolish to allow the Christians to run their country as a "Christian nation." It means that anyone who's not a Christian by the definition of the Christians in power (and most Americans wouldn't qualify) had better very well fear for their civil rights, including their property rights, because religious ideals not only won't stop the discrimination and repression, but can actually become a justification for it.

Amy's show, Democracy Now, has run a documentary movie this morning that is an expose of a war crime committed by American troops in Afghanistan. Seems that some American soldiers were supervising the transport of about 4,000 Taliban prisoners in a four-day convoy. The prisoners had been herded into containers which where then sealed up and hauled by cargo trucks. Problem was that there wasn't any ventilation in the containers and some of the prisoners began suffocating and dying in the heat. When the prisoners complained, the response was to fire machine guns at the containers to blow ventilation holes in the side. But the Afghans doing the firing, fired low - killing more prisoners. By the time the convoy arrived at its destination, about half of the prisoners were dead, so the rest were shot and buried in mass graves so they couldn't testify as to what happened. The movie has been a sensation all over the world, and was even shown in the European Parliament. But not a word of the massacre or the movie in the domestic media here in the states. Amy's show is the first airing in th U.S. Why am I not surprised?

Neighbor across the street is out washing his truck again. Third time this week! Boy, he sure is proud of that pickup!

Well, I've started on the laundry list of things that the realtor gave me to fix up. Got a mold issue resolved in the second bathroom, and the bathtub's now ready to re-grout. Got the kitchen-patio passthrough shelf outside screwed down, but it's still not tight. Fastening it to the brick wall could end up quite a challenge, and I'm not sure I'm going to bother. until I can figure out an easy way to do it. I may just end up fastening it with some L-brackets bolted to anchors set in the brick and be done with it.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 08:32:45 AM

Thu, May 22 2003

Up Early - Good News In The Overnight Email, Bad News From The Real Estate Broker

I'm up quite early this morning. No particular reason, just couldn't sleep. And I'm still sleepy of course; only got about five hours. I've gotta do something about this sleep disorder as soon as I'm on insurance again down in Costa Rica.

Got an email from the fellow who's the go-between regarding the Tucurrique property. It appears that there is line of sight to the Irazu radio towers after all, so I should have high-speed internet available there. That's good news - I could live there without having to work to make the extra income. I like that area a lot, too, it's really beautiful. Lots of primary jungle, very lush and green, even during the dry. But the downside is that it's low - only about 2800 feet, so it's just barely out of the bugs and humidity of the Caribbean coast. I might have to install my "earth air-conditioning" to make the place really comfortable. The good news is that it's out of the fog and never gets really cold at night like the highlands do.

I wrote to the owner of the Acosta property yesterday, but he hasn't responded quickly as he usually does. Maybe my email got spam-trapped. I found the town where it is located (San Isidro de Acosta) in an online gazetteer, and the elevation is 3900 feet and change, which is on the low end of the ideal range.

The real estate agent is supposed to come by this afternoon to give me an answer on whether or not he is going to buy the place and if not, finalize the listing. I'm awfully glad to see that happen! I want to get the place sold!

Experimenting to see if I can synchronize Blog between my laptop and my desktop. This is being edited on the laptop after sychronizing; we'll see if it works when I try to publish. Yup! It works! Now I can synchronize back and forth, and when I move to Costa Rica and only have access to the laptop for awhile, I can still keep the blog current. Terrific!

Well, the real estate agent came by with a stack of comps an inch thick - every sale of a horse property in north Phoenix in the last three year. We spent three hours going over them, and calculating what my property is worth. It comes out about $10k less than I had expected, and by the time everyone gets their cut, I'll come out with only about a $13k profit. But that's better than most are doing in this market. Apparently, the Bush economy is starting to bite - big time. The activity is very slow and there were a couple of instances where homes have sold recently for about a 2% decline from where they bought two years ago. Bad news, but not all that unexpected. There are a lot of foreclosures on the market, and there are lots of buyers out there, but they're not qualified. They've all run their credit card debt up to the point where their credit scores are very low. So even at the reduced price, I may be sitting in this house for a while. It was a seller's market when I bought this place. It's a buyer's market now. Didn't need to hear that. Thank you George W. Bush. I'll remember this at election time next year - probably the last time I'll vote in an American election.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 07:03:14 AM

Wed, May 21 2003

More Info On Alternative Properties

Well, I went to be early last night, hoping to get some quality sleep. Ended up sleeping 13 hours, and I'm still a bit sleepy. I think I need to have another sleep analysis, as I don't think the Permax is fixing the problem anymore. I think I'll forget getting the prescription refilled, and possibly get a different med next time I go to Mexico (or get it in Costa Rica, if that comes first).

Got an email on the properties in Tucurrique. Looks like it is suitable; the houses are closer together than I would like, but I can put up some privacy screen and get the separation I would like. Of course, that wouldn't keep noise from children down, but if I rent the big house to expats, that wouldn't be a problem. And email from the owner of the Acosta property last night indicates that the property there would be just what I've been looking for. So it looks like my dreams are quite do-able.

Listening to Amy this morning, I'm hearing about how the news media have been influenced in this country by Rupert Murdock and what Gore Vidal calls "19th Century Fox." It's disgusting - turns out that their primary influence has been to create a race to the right, on the assumption that that's where the ratings are. That's left a void in reporting - center and left - that is not being filled. And that's why, when the war broke out, the BBC's viewership went up from one million per week, to four million. That ought to tell the news company executives something.

Second hour of Democracy Now was a very disturbing replay of the commencement address given this spring at Rockford College. A reporter from the New York Times, Chris Hedges, spoke on the subject of war and empire, and how war is used as an instrument of empire and repression. It was a very reasonable speech, and simply told it like it is. For his efforts, he was booed and jeered, and some of the more militant far-right-wingers in the crowd tried to storm the stage. The speech was ended prematurely, and he was escorted off campus by the campus security. It shows me just how far gone this country is, and why it's increasingly imperative that I get out. Free speech and academic freedom are a memory in the United States. Listen to that speech (second link - requires Real player) and you'll see what I mean.

Well, I played around with the graphic layout on the index page and came up with a way to include a link to this blog from my index page without adding another graphic, which I can't reproduce anyway. And what I came up with looks better than what I had. So I'm glad I did it. Anyway, this blog is now "live" and I'm glad for that. Finally people will read the fruits of my labors here.

Got an email from the author of Blog, about a bug comment I had made in my first entry. Seems to be a really nice fellow. Can't complain about the customer service I'm getting on a piece of free software! I sure wish the companies that sell software were as conscientious! If you already have a web site and would like to add a blog to your content, I can't recommend this "Blog" software highly enough. It's fabulous - easy to install and use - and the results are as good as anyone could hope for.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 10:01:43 AM

Tue, May 20 2003

Not Much Other Than The Usual Barbarities

Up early this morning to get the clothes out on the street for the Big Brothers pickup today. I'm really tired this morning, and I'm not sure why. I got plenty of sleep last night. Tired or not, I've got to spray some weeds today out in the horse pasture. They're coming back big-time after having been mowed two weeks ago.

My real estate agent's wife wants a second look at the place. I'm surprised! Maybe she's more interested than she let on. She'll be back at 11:30 this morning. Gotta hurry and clean up the kitchen, sweep the hardwood floor and get the place dusted.

As soon as the clothes were set out, I started streaming Democracy Now. Amy was interviewing the wife of the Al Jazeera reporter who was killed in Baghdad when the American troops shelled the Al Jazeera press office. Apparently the Pentagon had been furnished a map showing where the offices were located before the invasion began. Same with the Palestine Hotel. It's hard for me to conceive that the troops didn't know what they were doing. Amy also reported that American troops had been caught looting the ruins of Ur, the supposed birthplace of Abraham. They were also caught spray-painting graffiti on the ruins. Ur is now off-limits for the troops. Geez, what a bunch of barbarians!

And speaking of barbarians, the Indonesian military is now "embedding" journalists in it's Aceh offensive. Everyone in the Pentagon, as well as the command in Iraq, is praising this embedding business as a great success, so you know it has to mean that they're getting their message out and suppressing what they don't want us to hear. The military has leaned from the White House press office - if you want to control what the press reports, you can blackmail the press by threatening to cut off all access to information and bribe them by giving them special privileges. Hey, it turned Ronald Reagan from a bumbling idiot who couldn't get a straight sentence out, into the Great Communicator. Why shouldn't it work for the military?

Now there's a report that the lax gun laws in the U.S. has made this country a major source of weapons for international terrorists. Yet Ashcroft is proposing the immediate destruction of gun purchase records. This administration isn't serious about terrorism, it's serious only about suppressing dissent and getting itself re-elected.

The real estate agent and his wife came back. Not anywhere near as negative this time. There's hope they'll buy it. The agent tells me her biggest concern is the power line out back. She's a victim of the power line cancer meme. So I'll do some digging on the net and come up with some science to counter it. He wants that anyway for a pamphlet he can put together to pass out to prospective buyers.

Just went out to the horse pasture and looked at the weed situation. Decided it would be better handled with a weed whip. So I did that - took about an hour to knock down all the Russian thistle (tumbleweed) that was coming back from the mowing. Some of it was two feet tall after only two weeks! This 100 degree weather really stimulates the weed growth - until they run out of water, which can't come soon enough for me. I'm looking forward to Costa Rica, where I can simply hire a full-time gardener/house guard and not have to worry about the weeds.

The fellow with the property in Tucurrique wrote back with some more detail on the property. His in-laws' property is looking better and better. It's three acres, and has two houses on it. One is an old, four bedroom typical wooden Tico farmhouse. The other is a relatively new concrete house with two bedrooms, and is more private and secure. It would be perfect for me. The property has all the utilities including telephone, and yet they only want $40k for it. Sounds very interesting to me! I could fix up the 4-bedroom, rent it out for $400 per month, and not have to work. That's enticing! With the extra income from a photography business, I could live quite well.

Just got the last dead link on the blog generator to work right, so I can go ahead and publish this blog puppy. I've gotta add some naviagation to the front page of the site, and haven't decided how to do that yet.

Found a property in the Acosta Canton, just the right altitude. 1600 sq. ft. house on a bit less than two acres. Looks good in the pics. I've written the web site owner, and just got a reply. The house is still available, and it has all utilities. Interesting! His apartment may not be available, but we'll see. Am checking to see if I can get wireless internet there.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 09:24:48 AM

Mon, May 19 2003

More Properties To Consider

The new issue of the Tico Times came out Friday, and I was looking through the classifieds. I found several properties that would be suitable. One, in the Tucurrique canton looks particularly interesting. I wrote to the owner, and he's written back, with lots of good information about it. He says that his in-laws have a similar property with a house already on it, and I've asked for more information. It's not in the area I would prefer, i.e., Grecia, but it is in a good area where property is in good demand.

I made an inquiry to the Association of Residents of Costa Rica online forum about how to buy a car there. Turns out that the best way is to go to a reputable dealer and select a car, and have it checked out by a reliable mechanic. So that essentially solves that problem - I don't have to wait till I find something in the paper. La Nacion has a lot of ads for vehicles, but the prices are truly breathtaking! It would shock you what you have to pay for a decent car in Costa Rica.

Surfing the satellite TV, I happened on Newsworld International, which I watch a lot. They're running a story about the fifth suicide bomber in Israel in just four days. Puts the lie to Sharon's claims that cracking down hard in the Occupied Territories will somehow solve Israel's security problems. If one looks at history, it's clear that the only times there is peace in Israel is when there is genuine progress being made towards a settlement. Well, if they want peace, maybe they should consider what everyone already understands: the only solution is to respect Palestinian property rights. If they're not willing to do so, they won't have peace. So if the squatter camps in the Occupied Territories are so important to them that they're willing to suffer continued suicide bombings, then I say let them have it. It boils down to a matter of respecting property rights. Until they're willing to do that, there won't be peace. When they are, there will. History has made that clear. The Palestinian Authority has already accepted the "Roadmap," bad as it is, and they've started rounding up militants. The peace "ball" is clearly in the Israeli court.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 09:52:21 PM

More Movement Towards Fascism In America

I've been listening to Amy Goodman's show, Democracy Now. It's really getting scary out there. She reported on a woman whose home was raided by the New York police. She was a city employee for over 30 years, had never had a problem with the law. But when the police arrived, they broke the door down, tossed in a stun grenade and the result was that she died of a heart attack. Geez, people, can't we have a sense of proportion here?

On the first hour of Amy's show this morning, she played a segment about the current proposals before the Federal Communications Commission that would effectively remove caps on media ownership concentration. Apparently, about 80% of the comments filed so far with the commission have been against the rule changes, but I'll bet you money that when the new rules come out in June that they'll be exactly as proposed, without any significant changes. So much for democracy.

And now I hear that the famous "rescue of Private Lynch" was just a sham. The "daring rescue operation" was neither daring nor was it even a rescue at all! All the helicopter gunships and the smoke bombs and stun grenades were a complete sham, designed to create a story that would raise morale among the troops and among the civilian populations at home, at a time when the invasion was bogging down. Apparently, the military knew in advance that the Iraqi troops had abandoned the place two days before, and that far from encountering resistance, the staff of the hospital was quite prepared to cooperate with the invasion forces. The doctors in the hospital have verified that account. And far from being mistreated, the doctors actually went well out of their way to help her as best they could under the conditions while she was in their care. In fact, when they ran out of blood, two staff members donated a unit of blood each to help keep her alive - and were rewarded by being vilified in the military's account and in the press. A far cry from the story the military told. It's apparently true that truth is the first casualty of war. So much for transparency in government.

Well, today I'm getting all my old clothes bagged and out to the street. Big Brothers of Arizona is coming tomorrow to collect, and I'd rather that they have the donation than the Salvation Army. At least Big Brothers put compassion ahead of dogma in their programs, and that's why I'd rather they have the donation than the Salvation Army, and unlike the latter, they're willing to stand up for that principle publicly when condemned by the Christians for their stand on homosexuality. As time goes on, I'm finding myself less and less patient with Christian bigotry dressed up as religious doctrine.

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 09:32:35 AM

Sun, May 18 2003

Blog Entry the First

Well, this is my first entry in my brand new blog. I don't know how it will work, how it will look, or whether there is any interest in it. But we'll see...

For those of you who aren't aware yet, I'm in the process of getting ready to move out of the United States. I'm sick and tired of the fascist mentality that has begun to pervade American politics in recent years, and am even more tired of being harassed by the FBI simply because I'm anti-Bush, anti-war and, most unforgivably of all, believe in social and economic justice instead of just handing everything to the rich. For that reason, I'm being pushed out, and I've decided to take the hint and get the hell out while the getting is good. I went south in March to look for a new home, and everyone I talked with down there couldn't get over the fact that large numbers of Americans are moving out - they can see what I can see - that this is rapidly becoming a fascist state that's going to be very unpleasant to live in. All throughout Central America, there are whole subdivisions going in to provide housing for Americans who are doing the smart thing and getting out while they can. Huge subdivisions - hundreds of houses at a crack.

Yesterday, the real estate agent came, and his wife came by with him. They think they may be interested in buying my house for themselves. After the wife looked it over, I don't think they will - seems she doesn't like several things about it, mostly the fact that there's a huge power line out back. Thinks that it might be a cancer hazard or something; I told her that her government has spent 20 billion dollars over the last 30 years looking at that question, and nothing statistically significant has been found and replicated. But of course, that didn't satisfy her. She will probably not want to buy. So the agent will probably list the house on Tuesday. I was hoping for a quick sale, but will feel better with some more comps so I know that I'm not listing low. I hope not. I will need all the cash I can get my hands on once I'm down south.

Saw another site today that is using the Iraq Body Count graphic. I noticed that the high-end stat is over 5,000 dead now. The body count just goes up and up. Nobody in this country seems to care. Geez, what a bunch of ignorant or uncaring people we have in this country! I can't wait to get out of here!

|| Scott Bidstrup, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica 10:06:43 PM
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