Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Woes of Traveling Between 2 Countries

It seems that half the time we are traveling (between the US and Costa Rica) we have some kind of international-travel-technicality mishap with one of our family members. Six weeks or so after my daughter was born in Costa Rica, the authorities would not let her leave the country because they did not have official permission from me to let her travel. The problem was, I was back in Georgia waiting for her! Nevertheless, that problem was resolved within 24 hours after a lot of phone calls and hanging out the next morning at the Costa Rica Consulate office in Marietta. The Consulate there was extremely helpful!

We were bit with that same problem again on a visit 6 months later in December of 2005. They said that the permission we provided last time was not permanent and we had to file another one. Fortunately, we had that taken care of within an hour or so and were able to fly.

On our recent return trip to Costa Rica, December 2007, in Atlanta, we were told that we had to purchase tickets right then to return to the US within the next 3 months or they would not let us fly. Well, me and the kids were told, my wife having her CR passport did not have to. Why did we have to buy return tickets? Because you can only stay in Costa Rica for 3 months at a time if you are not a citizen or resident. The kids and I had that taken care of, but we were not traveling with proof. In fact, the girl was even a citizen of Costa Rica, but the counter agent would not recognize that her birth place according to her US passport was indeed San Jose, Costa Rica. How did we get around this problem. We bought 3 REFUNDABLE tickets to return to Atlanta. That night, once we finally got home, I canceled all 3 of those tickets and got my money back.

Right now, my wife and kids have 2 sets of passports. I have an official Costa Rican Permanent Residence card. You would think that we would be ok. Well, I think that we're ok; but my wife doesn't think so.

Here's the deal: In a little more than one week, we are scheduled to fly to Atlanta. We are again scheduled to return at the end of May. My son's US passport expires in June of this year. Apparently there's some kind of rule supposedly where the airlines will not let you travel if your passport is set to expire within 6 months. My wife is pretty worried about this and is pushing the US Embassy to get my son a new passport or something ASAP.

I think though that we could be ok. If we get to the ticket counter and the ticket agent sees that my son's US passport is about to expire - it seems to me, they have to let him return to country indicated on his passport. In late May, when we return home to Costa Rica, we present the Costa Rican passport to the ticket agent - again, it seems to me that the agent has to let him return to the country indicated on his passport - in this case Costa Rica.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Door Mat or Place Mat?

The kids are always asking for cookies and crackers and the like. They ask for them as "premios". Which is Spanish for "prize". Supposedly they have to do something good for a premio. They usually just ask for a premio and half the time they get it. So in my household, "premio" is really just synonymous for "snack" because they really don't earn it much.

Anyway, yesterday, to my utmost horror, the girl was sitting in the door way between the garage and the entrance of the house eating cheese filled Ritz crackers right off of the door mat where everybody wipes their shoes before entering the house.

What she was doing is a notch or two above licking the side walk in downtown Cartago.

The old me, might've panicked and rinsed her mouth out multiple times with mouth wash. (7 or 8 years ago, I did that to my dog after she ate cat crap.) But nah, not now, no time for that. I just wrote it off as an immune system booster and told her not to do it again.....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chimeras, Polygamy and the IRS

Chimera is the name of a mythological beast that is made up of whole parts from a lion, snake and a goat. Scientist use this same name for a complete organism that is made of whole parts that have different DNA; an organism with 2 sets of DNA.

Chimeras are created naturally and in laboratories.

In laboratories scientist have combined for example a goat and a sheep to make a Chimera. This is not a hybrid. There is a difference. One way that a Chimera is made is by fusing two embryos together. A Hybrid is typically created by using a sperm from one species and an egg from another.

With A Hybrid, the offspring has characteristics of both species but usually blended very well together. A Hybrid has one set of DNA.

A Chimera is not very well blended at all. A Chimera contains whole parts or patchy spots of the two DNA sets scattered across its body. A Chimera has 2 distinct sets of DNA.

So far a Chimera sounds kind of Frankensteinish.

In nature, a chimera occurs when 2 embryos inside a mother fuse together for some reason. This is apparently rare but does happen. The result is an individual who has 2 sets of DNA from his parents. This person is his own twin. (It would be interesting to know the percentage of humans who are born as Chimeras.)

A sign that someone might be a Chimera would be patchy skin or asymmetrical sides of the body like one eye a different color than the other.

Reading about this got me wondering: What if my wife or what if one of my kids is a Chimera? I don't think that my wife is, but if she were one, then I would be a polygamist.

I think that my son might be one though. Why do I suspect my son of being a Chimera? Well, he doesn't have scales or anything and he doesn't have hooves. However, one of his eyebrows looks like mine and the other one looks like that of my wife's.

If I do find out that he has 2 sets of DNA:

1. Do I have to obtain another social security number for him?
2. Can I claim another dependent on my income taxes and use another child tax credit?
3. Should I give him another set of names?

Here are 2 articles on the subject of Chimeras:
Short Medical Article on Chimeras (Fraternal Twins sharing blood, etc...)
Long article with a lot of detailed information on Chimeras

Friday, April 11, 2008

New rules for dating

There are general guide lines or rules one should follow before entering into a serious relationship with one of the opposite sex.

A few of these rules are:
  • You must be compatible
  • Its best to have similar political views (this isn't always true, but does help)
  • Its best if the two families can at least get along.
  • You should be of the same religion. This really comes into play once you have kids.
It turns out there's a new rule that should be added to the list.

You should both be members of the same gang or compatible gangs.

A fight broke out between a couple recently. A man belonging to a different gang than his girl friend had a violent disagreement with her concerning which gang their 4-year-old should join. Only if they had known about this new relationship rule, all of this could have been avoided. Someone should let Dr. Laura know about this!

See source article here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

UFO in Costa Rica playa Carrillo - Samara

Ok, I've been up to my eyes in politics for a while. Here's something a lil different. Who knows about UFOs, Roswell and Area 51 and all that? Perhaps UFOs are from some alien race, perhaps they are controlled by demons or maybe they are indeed created and flown by humans from some secrete branch within the US government or another government. A good friend of mine here in Costa Rica swears that he saw one for a good 15 minutes some 25 or 30 years ago on top of Volcano Irazu while working as a guard up there.

I became more intrigued with the subject last summer when a worker for the national telephone company (ICE may God help them) took a picture of a UFO in Ochomogo a few miles from my house when he was getting off work early in the morning. The locals say there have been many sitings in Ochomogo. Around the same time, a tourist from Europe, the US or Canada (I can't remember but I think Europe) was going throw his Costa Rican vacation pictures and noticed a strange object in the sky that he captured with his camera by accident.

Since then, I've been going through my fotos and paying particular attention to the sky. I've got a picture from December of 2005 where there is a white object in the sky. Perhaps it was just a star as I took the picture at dusk. That pic was taken while in Tierra Blanca (a town on the side of Volcano Irazu). I was facing north, toward the summit of the Volcano. From there you cannot see the summit due to the obstruction of a ridge. But over that ridge, in that picture you can see something white. Perhaps it was a star, I don't know?

Last night while reading speeches by Ron Paul, I was also going through my pictures paying special attention to the sky. In this day and age lots of us have an abundance of pictures that just pile up on our cameras and our computers as the price of taking a picture is much cheaper than it was 10 years ago because we don't need to use film.

While going through the pictures of our trip to Carrillo, Guanacaste (Costa Rica) I noticed a smudge in the sky. On closer observation, I see that this smudge has the traditional saucer shape of a flying saucer plus the center dome of the object that most people associate with a UFO. Again, I have no idea what this is. I find it interesting. Most of my friends know me to be somewhat of a joker and at the same time I would wager that most of y'all consider me a very honest guy. All I can say is that with this picture, I have not doctored or done anything and I am not joking around. Perhaps its really a bird or a plane. Who knows? What do you think?

Here are two pics from the series that I took. I was taking a 360 degree shoot from a mountain top 3km from the beach. The object can be seen in the first pic but not in the second. In the first pic, it is to the left of that bushy tree.

UFO is to the left of the bushy tree.

A few moments after
The object cannot be seen. Proof that there's nothing on the camera...
Close up from first pic

Even closer from first pic