Oct 25, 2007

Livin' the Dream!

(updated to present tense)
This is the spot to stay posted on the progress of the new house, near the Panama border, Agua Buena, and Canas Gorda, in Costa Rica.

You can click on this view from an adjoining hilltop.It is facing to the north. As you can see, we began with nothing but a flat spot. Our hectare (2.2 acres) extends to the left downhill to a creek that joins others to supply the 60' waterfall. Out of sight beyond the bare spot is a public right of way that goes to the right to the Restaurante Rancho Amigos and the highway, where we catch the bus.

The plans include rainwater collection to avoid flushing our toilets with drinking water, although clean water is plentiful. Greywater is separated from sewage water and is filtered through compost and eventually through the vermiculture system, and on to irrigate some organic cultivation of perhaps some spices, etc. that may have economic benefit to the area.
The concept is that only two things require confinement; those that need privacy and those that need to be secure from living creatures. The rest of the house is a viewing platform with amenities.

Feel free to ask anything that pops into your head. I publish a journal with many photos, more or less every week, and it goes out to about 50 "subscribers", mostly relatives and friends. If you would like to receive these, contact me at costajournal07@yahoo.com.
(Don't use this direct link yet, it doesn't work. Just type it in your e-mail. Sorry!)

I will send the "International GeoGrafix" to you as a BCC(blind copy) to protect your identity. If you find my journals too boring or filled with "too much propaganda", just e-mail me an "unsubscribe".

pura vida

Jun 22, 2007

Costa Rica

The three most popular countries for retirement are France, Costa Rica, and Ireland. I'm not sure of the order of preference, but mine is obvious. We were attracted by the climate, but we return each winter because of the people.

In 1948, Costa Rica dismantled the military and applied these resources to social programs and education. The other places that have done this are the Vatican, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, and a few small islands in the Pacific Ocean. After three or four generations of solving problems without weapons, the people have a distinctly different perspective. "Resolving Conflict Without Resorting to Violence" is a mandatory course in the elementary school curriculum. The emblem for the police is an officer with his arms on the shoulders of two small children. They travel about on foot, or two on a dirt bike. The emergency medical teams have modern ambulances.

My Medicare "B" doesn't cover me when I am outside of the USA, so I cancelled it. We have become "residente pensionados" and purchase full coverage health insurance, including dental, for $50 a month. We only pay for it when we are there. Costa Rica has the third best medical care in the world, and life expectancy is three years longer than in the USA.

We live "large" on our Social Security. By cancelling our auto insurances, Medicare "B", trash service, telephone, lowering the thermostat, turning off the water heater, using no water, and not having to cut grass, drive cars, and eating food that doesn't come in fancy packages, we save so much money that the difference in life style pays for our travel and living expenses all winter. We don't own a car there and can go to our volunteer morning jobs at the Wilson for 60 cents each. The beach at Playa Zancudo is two hours away, and we are frequently invited to join our new Tico friends for a day trip in a packed van.
"Culture shock" is going through the airport security check points when we return to the USA, and buying a huge lunch for more than $3.

pura vida!

Jun 10, 2007

Livin' Large at Bello Oriente

We have purchased a home site within view of Panama in the southern end of Costa Rica. If you look up the Wilson Botanical Garden website you will see a description and pictures of a similar place. Our intention is to live six months in Costa Rica and six months in the USA.
This view of Volcan Baru, in Panama, will be our view from the bedroom window at sunrise.

Jun 5, 2007

The view from the South

I have added a link to the "Tico Times", the largest English-language newspaper in Central America. It has a USA bias, but in general the reporting is current and newsworthy. It won't give you a clear perspective from the point of view of a typical "Tico" (sort of like we call ourselves "Yankees", etc) but it will give you an additional look at the world from another angle.

While most "Americans" think of every country outside of the UN Security Council as being in the "third world", the Ticos consider everybody in the Western Hemisphere to be "Americans" and make a very clear distinction between "third world" impoverishment and "developing countries" evolution.

No place is perfect. Welcome to the struggles of the Developing World!

May 4, 2007

Introduction to County Government - CG101

In Barry County, Michigan, the county government consists of an Administrator, a County Board of Commissioners, five Standing Committees, and assignments of Commissioners and others to an array of regional, etc. boards and commissions.The best way to observe and discuss this county government is in light of the County Budget. The Budget has a General Fund that is the main topic of conversation and is understood by most ordinary observers to be "The Budget". It is similar to the family checking account.

The search for the "whole truth" requires that we also consider the family "savings account" as well. This is the Special Revenue section of the Budget and is frequently ignored. It represents millions of taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the checking and savings accounts, the Commissioners are assigned to various outside boards as representatives of Barry County. Many of these boards manage budgets far in excess of the County Budget.The General Fund Budget has about 80 accounts. The Special Revenue Funds also have about 80 accounts. Each account represents at least one "issue". The number of issues could easily surpass 200.

May 1, 2007


Basically, I hold with the position that nobody needs to be incarcerated unless they are a threat to society, and only a judge can make that determination. The length of sentence should run until such time as the person no longer represents a threat to the rest of us (if that means that a dedicated drunk driver spends the rest of her life incarcerated, and crime-of-passion-killer gets out in a week, so be it).

This leads to a number of different conclusions than we are currently experiencing. For one thing it throws out the notion that punishment has ever been an acceptable solution to any behavioral problem. It also suggests that jails and prisons may not need to look like dungeons. As long as he plays golf on the inside of the walls, I have no problem with an inmate living out his life in a country club. Some of those who play on the outside now are a greater threat.

We have evolved at least to accepting that incarcerated people can learn soft skills and learn the behaviors that will help them re-enter society.

At any rate, Barry County is having a discussion regarding a bigger new JAIL, so weigh in, if you want to.
The first dozen comments are historical, but I've retained them for your pleasure. If and when a new discussion materializes, I will drop them to give easier access to new material.