Red Tape – DMV Sucks

January 19, 2003. Didn’t go to the beach today, the waves were flat. I’ll delve into the horrors of bureaucracy at the DMV. We are having title problems because the DMV lost the title we sent to them. They cashed the check that was in the same envelope, but they lost our title. So we need to get a duplicate; sounds easy, right? To do so, we need a signature of the seller saying that they sold us the truck. Said seller does not return our calls. We have had to send the seller certified mail to prove that we are attempting to contact the seller to the DMV. Of course, the seller is not was not and will not be home to accept or reject the letter, so we have to wait 2 weeks for the postal service to return it to us. We also have sent a letter to the leinholder of the truck for the lein that existed against the previous owner, to prove that there is no lein. This company went out of business in 1999. The certified letter, however, was signed for by someone, so we must drive an hour to get there (since they have no phone) to find out what is going on. When we finally get this paperwork to the DMV, we will have to wait an additional 2 weeks for them to generate the title. Does this sound like fun or what? Let’s not forget that the truck runs like, well… like nothing. The DMV Sucks.  At least we saw some choice camper cushions while we were out and about.

The backyard Jan 19, 2003

The backyard Jan 19, 2003

Choice Camper Cushions Jan 19, 2003

Choice Camper Cushions Jan 19, 2003


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A Slow Day – But great Mexican Food!

January 18, 2003 Called around today to find out that a new motor will cost between $1000 and $2600 depending on where we get it, not including labor. Also, the transmission will be between $500 and $1800, not including labor, if we have to replace it. We *hope* that replacing a few sensors will help the truck run well enough to sell it. Personally, I am not convinced that the truck is in horrible shape. Perhaps the mechanics just want our money. The problem is whether to test that theory by driving 10,000 miles on the motor. On a lighter note, we had some EXCELLENT burritos at Rambertos for lunch, and SUPERB tacos at Villa del Mar. All in all, a slow mellow day; tomorrow we will go to the beach. 🙂 Mexican food in San Diego rocks!


Spider eggs on the fence we helped patch. January 18, 2003


Oranges from Jen and Lupe's backyard. January 18, 2003



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A Better Day

January 17, 2003

It started with a second opinion about our truck and ended with an evening with an old housemate from the Bubble house. In the middle was quite a nice surprise. While walking the cliffs overlooking the glassy, peeling surf, we walked by a fellow who was more than enthusiastic about the day and the surf he had just had. I mentioned how I wished I had my board so that I could go surfing, and he said, “take mine.” I said, “Really? OK.” and he said, “yeah, take my wetsuit too. I’ve only worn it twice.” The hero of the day is Danny, who without knowing me for more than 5 seconds, had let me enter into the most private of places (his wetsuit, size men’s Large) and take hundreds of yards away from him what would be my most prized possession. It made my day–my week. The surf was fun, head-high, and suddenly my truck “issues” vanished from consciousness. Nothing mattered but slogging around in a giant wetsuit on a board I had never seen before, and IT WAS GREAT! I caught some, came in, ran back up the cliff, and Danny told Ingrid it was her turn. She too had a blast in the water, and we both feel much, much better now. Thanks Danny. Later in the evening, a Stefan and his girlfriend Shantanee stopped by to chat, have a beer, and fulfill an already remarkably fantastically inexorably dia mejor.

Stefan and Shantee

Scooby Piñata for sale on Ebay by Jen January 17, 2003

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Donate Laptops and Books for Kids!

We are looking for donations of new or used thumb drives (USB flash drives) of sizes 1Gb and up. These flash drives will be distributed to each child so that they can have their own, portable computer via the Sugar on a Stick SoaS) project.

We are also looking for donations of laptops and books to the local public primary and middle school’s new library. The school has two teachers and two hundred students. The upkeep of buildings, teachers, books and the new library are provided by donations and volunteers. Now that a library has been built, we have a safe place to put a computer and volunteers that will be able to assist in using it. We need a laptop that can be easily stored away when the library is closed. We also need it to have a CDROM drive, a PII 300Mhz processor or faster, at least 64MB memory, a video card with at least 4MB memory, and a built in network card with PXE so that our Spanish learning software can be installed. If you have questions about any of these requirements (don’t worry, most people don’t know what PXE is :), please let us know the make and model and we can check it out for you. If we can’t use it for the local school, we are also donating laptops to college bound seniors that have earned a 3.5 GPA or higher. Dean plans on taking responsibility for the upkeep of the school computers and training one of the students to fix it and care for it.

If you have this type of laptop or know someone who is willing to donate one, we would like it if you could bring it down with you. We are happy to pay for any extra baggage fees you may be charged by Sansa Airlines. We are so sorry that we will not be able to give you a receipt of donation for tax deductions (we do not have a U.S. charity set up for doing that). However, if you do decide to donate and deal with the hassle of lugging it down here, you will be giving these kids possibly their first and only access to new technology that can give them more opportunity in their lives.

We are also looking for book donations to the library. We especially need books for kindergarten through second grade in Spanish. We can also use books for kindergarten through sixth grade in both Spanish and English.

Please, in no way feel any obligation to bring anything. The most important thing is that you bring yourself and be ready for a lot of fun in the tropics!

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Yellowfin Tuna Project Threatens Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Granjas Atuneras de Golfito S.A., a corporation of foreign investors, has been given the permits to start a tuna farm just past Punta Banco in the Pavones area. The effect on the marine wildlife, water quality, local fishing industry, and tourism in Pavones as well as the surrounding area of the Golfo Dulce will be devastating. The permits were obtained via questionable methods, violate national law, and are presently under investigation. Lawyers’ fees and ads to pressure the government are being paid for by community fundraising and donations. We are asking for any kind of donations or help. For more information on the proposed tuna farm, its effects, and how to help, read below.

Pavones Under Attack! – Yellowfin Tuna Project Threatens Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

The project’s first stage is to establish no less than 10 cages (interior dimensions of 50m diameter x 20m depth each) enclosed in a structure of 1200m x 500m. Several more such groups would follow down the coast to Punta Burica. Each cage is weighted down by ten anchors weighing 1.3 tons each, for a total of 130 metric tons in reduced area. Granjas Atuneras has proposed to place over 100 cages in the mouth of the Golfo Dulce.

The company would be provided with live tuna (30-80kg) by tuna clippers fishing up to 250nm out to sea. These live tuna would then be slowly towed in a cage for 15-45 days to the project’s site.

Tuna, along with certain other marine life, school under dolphins and follow them around in search of food. The tuna clippers use helicopters to spot large pods of dolphins breathing on the surface, knowing tuna will be beneath them. They then us dynamite and speed boats to corral the dolphins into an easily netted mass. They circle the dolphins with a huge net to catch all the tuna beneath. Millions of dolphins are killed world wide by tuna clippers every year using this method. This tuna is traditionally used for canning. There is no such thing as “dolphin safe tuna” from tuna clippers; some fishing practices just kill fewer dolphins than others.

In the waters where these tuna clippers will be operating, there are many different dolphin species among which we find spinner, spotted, bottlenose, common, and Risso’s. Slowly towing a mesh cage 15 to 45 days from the open ocean to the coast will cause hundreds of marine fauna to become entangled and die a useless death. Endangered sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and even some of the tuna within the cage will die and rot on their way in. It is an established fact that the main cause of dolphin deaths is entanglement in nets. Both the southern and northern humpback whales use the gulf to feed and give birth to their young during their annual migrations. Placing these cages as a net wall in the entrance to the gulf is a sure death sentence.

Sharks will be attracted to this cage and follow it in to the coastal waters. They will then check out what else is available on the second longest left point break in the world. The organic waste produced by the marine life that entangles in the nets plus the tuna feces will not only attract sharks to the area, it will also cause red tides and pollute the beaches along the coastline. The red tides could destroy all the marine environment of the gulf. The smell from all the organic matter will scare away the tourists and hence the income our communities depend on.

The tuna that manages to survive will then be put into cages and fed frozen imported sardines. Though the sardines are frozen, this does not eliminate the possibility of introducing a virus or other sickness that would cause a disaster on the local fish population. There is a well documented case of exactly this happening in Australia. The amount of sardines to feed all this tuna is astronomical, and even though it will be imported, the impact on the sardine fishery in another country will be high. Tuna is migratory and comes from the south; Costa Rica will be helping to deplete the tuna stocks of the world.

The cages will be lit for navigational safety. Each light will be visible for a radius of five miles. This is in an area where over 200 turtles come to nest every year. It is well documented that turtles use the natural light over the water to orientate themselves. The females, heavy with eggs, will be guided towards these cages and can easily get stuck and die. A few may make it to shore to lay their eggs. Once the babies hatch, the few that survive other obstacles and make it into the water will be attracted by the light and swim straight into the jaws of the hungry tuna. In Costa Rica the Olive Ridley turtle has only been registered nesting in Punta Banco and a beach in Guanacaste; it is very rare. The hawksbill turtle also nests in Punta Banco.

The Golfo Dulce is one of only three tropical fjords in the world. Its marine environment is not only very special, it is very fragile. The mangroves within the gulf are a crucial nursery for sea bass, shrimp and other marine life. The coral reefs are already threatened by sedimentation from logging. The fecal matter and other organic waste would surely destroy what is left. The proposed project represents a threat to the biodiversity of the entire gulf and the livelihood of all who depend on it. The delicate ecology and unique status as a tropical fjord of the Golfo Dulce is the last place on earth where we should be developing an experiment like this (no other yellow fin tuna farm exists in the world).

Please help us fight to keep the Golfo Dulce a clean and beautiful place. Local community organizations are working on this issue, the municipality of Golfito, the municipality of Puerto Jimenez, the Chamber of Tourism of Golfito and many small NGO´s are trying to raise awareness. Unfortunately, many of these places do not even have a phone and our efforts to co-ordinate have been very difficult. We are trying to raise awareness internationally to pressure the government based on their ‘green image’ for tourism to be true to their word. There are currently no international organizations working to help us with public awareness.

So far a law suit we presented has managed to halt the project for the time being, while the courts review the facts of the proposal. It is during this time that we believe pressure should be applied to the appeals court with a letter writing campaign from the international community expressing concerns over this proposal.

This project has already been approved by the Costa Rican government without any public consultation as is required by law. Despite this deplorable display of corruption and lack of consideration for environmental sustainability, for which Costa Rica prides itself, this tuna project has been temporarily halted as it is being re-evaluated by an appeals court.

Input from the international community will be extremely valuable during this appeals court process. The court is evaluating information it receives, and letters expressing your opinion can influence this process.

As a member of the international community, tourism is the industry that is most affected by your opinion. For this reason, we request that you write a letter to both the President Oscar Arias and the Costa Rican tourism board ICT. The addresses are written below.

Please emphasize your concerns for the environment and the impact this will have on your potential to support Costa Rica by choosing it as a travel destination.

Here you can find helpful pointers on how to write an effective letter:

Please visit PRETOMA ( for updates on this fight.

We sincerely appreciate your help by voicing your opinion.

Addresses for letters:

Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT)
San José
Costa Rica
Fax (506) 220-3555

His Excellency
Oscar Arias Sanchez
The President of Costa Rica
Casa Presidencial
San Jose, Costa Rica

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How to Buy a Used Surfboard – a Mini Surfboard Buying Guide

While looking for a surfboard, consider all three dimensions: length, width and thickness.  While most people focus on length, you should be equally, if not more, concerned with the width and thickness.  Generally, beginner surfers will do better with thicker boards because of the added buoyancy (to help you float and catch waves), and wider boards for stability (so it’s easier to get up and stay standing).

The typical epoxy longboard that you’ll use here is 9’2″ X 22 7/8″ X 3 1/4″.  This board is large enough that it floats, paddles well, and catches waves (very important), but is not so large that it is not maneuverable.

The more time and effort you have to put into going daily/ 3-4 times a week, the smaller the board you can get.  You may even want to downsize if you feel comfortable.  Lengthwise, you should stick with something between 9′ and 10′ long.  Anything longer and it’s tough to carry, anything shorter and you will struggle your first 20 hours (consecutive days) of water time.

More important than length is having a wide and thick board.  You want it to be close to 23″ wide and 3″ thick.

It probably does not matter if it has one or three fins, just make sure it comes with fins.

Now some of the things you should ask before you go to visit the board (besides for the dimensions) is:
1. Has the board been broken?

2. Does the board have any buckles (a place the board has been stressed severely and will break–looks like a crack or buckle usually accompanied by a break in the stringer and delamination around that break) or significant stress fractures (hairline cracks running perpendicular to the stringer on the top and/or bottom)?

3.  Is there any delamination (fiberglass separated from the foam, usually on the deck)?

4. Are there a significant amount of dings (over four)?

If they answer “yes” to any of these questions then don’t bother to look, unless there were minimal stress fractures or dings that were professionally repaired.

When you visit the board, you will be looking for all of these things. Do not buy a painted or very “stickered” board because generally boards are painted or plastered with stickers to hide things.  Make sure the whole board is air tight, especially check the tail and nose for cracks and holes.  The last step will be to remove all wax (you may want to bring a wax comb with you to strip it), especially around the stringer.  You will need to inspect the stringer for any irregularities or delamination which will look like air inside and will press down easily.  Check the whole deck for delamination by pressing down on the deck to feel for separation.  Check each rail for dings as well.  Also check the leash plug and fin system for dings.  You should be able to run your fingernail smoothly over any part or apparent “crack” in the fiberglass or resin without your nail catching on anything.  If your nail catches on a ridge of a crack, it’s likely that water is seeping in there somehow.  Also look for discoloration (yellowing or browning) around shattered or cracked areas on the board.  If you see yellow, it’s likely they’ve been riding the board with dings in it for some time.  Some dings are more difficult to repair than others, so check everywhere to make sure you see everything and can report back to us.  Ask if fins (how many) come with the board.  Fins can be expensive so that matters for pricing.

There are two types of resin used to make surfboards: polyester and epoxy.  The standard has been polyester for years and continues to be.  You may come across an epoxy board.  They are generally more ding resistant and lighter in weight, but are floatier (more buoyant), ride differently, and require special resin to fix.  They are also usually 10-25% more expensive.  We use epoxy boards here (the 10’2″, 9’2″, and 8’6″ boards) for the resin’s durability.

That’s it for now for used board shopping 101.  It might help to take someone experienced with you when you go board shopping.  For $500, you should get something that is in great condition–only a couple well repaired dings, but you may find a great board for $100 too…  good luck!

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1-2' small beautiful summer day

1-2′ small beautiful summer day.  Sunny skies and light side-onshore winds.

Get out there if you want some sun and tiny surf… practice your longboard skills and cross stepping.

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Small waves, glassy conditions

1-3′ super glassy and small.  Slightly overcast but the sun’s coming out.

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Surf Sunblocks Part 1: Don't Be Fooled by SPF

Sun Protection Factor ratings are tricky, seemingly purposefully so, and the numbers are misleading. SPF numbers represent UVB ray blocking power in the amount of rays that it would take to create the same effect if no sunscreen was used. In other words, SPF 30 means that you would have to have 30 times as much UVB radiation to create the same exposure level. As the numbers get higher the ability of the sunblock to stop the rays is only slightly more and measurements begin to lose accuracy. For instance, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays and SPF 100 may block 99% of UVB rays. In the EU the highest SPF is 30+, in Australia SPF 50+ is the highest and the FDA is considering banning labeling that over SPF 50. As it turns out, other sunblock issues are more important to sun protection than any SPF numbers over 50.

When SPF is tested, the official application amount is 2 mg per square cm of the skin surface or approximately one ounce (or shot glass) of sunblock for a medium size body (with one heaping teaspoon for the face). What? That seems like you would use an entire bottle of sunscreen in one day with a family of four. Most people apply 20% to 50% of his amount, significantly decreasing their SPF by about a fourth root or square root. If you apply half a shot glass of SPF 50 sunscreen to your entire body, the real value you are getting from the sunscreen is about SPF 7.

Another issue is that nearly all sunblocks start degrading in one hour and after two hours they are gone. SPF is only tested up to 80 minutes. Some of the newer sunblocks claim to last longer, but there is no evidence supporting these claims. Sunblock should be applied three to four times during a day in the sun. A sunscreen container of three or four ounces, about the size accepted by airport security, is barely enough sunscreen for one day on a Costa Rican beach. Make sure to bring at least 25 fluid ounces to your next surf vacation week in Hawaii!


Dermatologist Offers Tips For Skin, Sun Safety

Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF)

What’s wrong with high SPF?

Sunscreens Exposed: 9 surprising truths

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Small and clean surf

2-4′ clean but smaller again.  Sunny skies with light side shore winds. The swell has faded away, but it’s been a great February so far!

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