Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Buying Coastal Property in Nicaragua – Is it Worth it?I recently returned to Nicaragua with some friends after a 10 year absence. We were peace corps volunteers there from 1993 to 95. I was very curious to explore the southern coast as it has developed quite a bit since I was there 10 years ago. I was surprised at the amount of development occurring and also with the lack of infrastructure to support it.
I believe that investment in Nicaragua is probably smart, but how and where should one invest? I think the southern coast will eventually be extremely built up, but I’m not sure that I would trust that the development will be smart or well planned. In many ways, it makes much more sense to avoid the coastal property altogether and buy property inland where there are already conditioned roads and where land is cheaper. Let’s face it, from property anywhere in the Jinotepe or Masatepe region, beaches and volcanoes are easy to get to. The benefit to the central location is proximity basic necessities and the beach is still only 1 hour away.
The current road infrastructure to the majority of coastal developments is not sufficient at this time to warrant personal investment in coastal property unless you want to tear your eyes out every time you visit you dream home.
Beach front development communities like Rancho Santana promise a lot, but the reality of physically being there is not what one would imagine. The coast along the property is pretty to look at, but the beach near by is not that nice. It takes roughly 90 minutes on bad dirt roads to even arrive at Rancho Santana’s front gate. If you want to be completely removed from the society in which you live (literally) then Rancho Santana is perfect for you. Just don’t plan on going to the grocery store every day which would be about 90 minutes each way to the nearest (nice) supermarket in Rivas. They say the road is planned for pavement, but I would wait until that is completed before I build anything.
These are my thoughts for now.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Final Cut - When Did This Movie Come Out?As a science fiction movie, Final Cut is okay. As a regular movie it is pretty bad. I like sci-fi so I feel a responsibility to see any sci-fi movie that is released, although I don't remember this one every being released to theaters.
Meet the Fockers is Funny in PartsMeet the Fockers is worth watching for the few laughs and to see Barbara Streisand.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Review - Assault on Precinct 13Unfortunately, I just finished watching Assault on Precinct 13. What happened to this movie? How embarrassing for Ethan Hawke and John Leguizamo who I usually enjoy. It is Halloween all over again, or at least similar as it is a remake of John Carpenter’s old Assault on Precinct 13 made in 1976 (two years before he made Halloween). If you like watching good actors in a bad movie, and you also enjoy waiting for the next one to get killed, then you might like this movie.
Francis Cooks the Best FoodThanks for a wonderful meal last night Francis! Jacob, Anotonio and Carlos are champion kickball players.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Store WarsA friend sent me a link to a very funny spoof on Star Wars made by freerangestudios in support of organic farming. The point is a good one and extremeley entertaining.
Please Fix Mission StreetI wish the city would fix Mission Street or let me know where to send my annual bill for my vehicle repair costs. Has any one driven Mission street lately between third and eighth streets and noticed the giant pot holes? I feel like I’m driving on a gravel road at my grandparents old house in Iowa. This is especially concerning given a recent study finding that we might be paying as much as $593 annually for repair costs because of poor roads. San Francisco was among the top five worst metropolitan areas for road conditions. Just another reason to ditch the car!
A Mini Vacation at the Four Season’s BarLast night we went to the bar at the Four Seasons with our friend Jane. The bar is located in the hotel’s fourth or fifth floor with a great view of Market Street. We typically like to go there about once a month because it is like going on a mini-vacation. There is a piano player and the mood is always relaxed, yet subtly festive. It is a retreat from the world and a nice reward for a busy week. I usually cannot resist the char-grilled sirloin burger on a toasted crunch roll, choice of cheese, and shoestring fries for $16. If you want a real treat, try the "High Roller." It is a seared foie gras on 1/2 lb. sirloin burger, cippolini onions and wild mushrooms on a veal reduction for $29.
Jane and I relaxing after dinner.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Home Theater SystemI recently went through redecorating our second bedroom for use as a home theater room (that can also be used as a guest bedroom in a pinch). I'm so happy that I did it. I started out thinking that I would go fairly simple, like get a smaller type LCD TV. When I looked at the LCD TV's I wasn't really happy with them and the larger they get the worse they seem to become. I started out liking the Sharp LCD televisions. I also really like the Sony LCD television. After consideration, I decided that I did not want to look at a LCD screen at night after looking at one all day long on my 17 inch G4 powerbook. I thought that the LCD TV's lacked warmth. I can't believe it but I turned to plasma. I was overwhelmed with the choices. I hated going and looking at the TV's at best buy and circuit city. Their sales people didn't have a clue what they were talking about and I had difficulty making a decision until I went to San Francisco Stereo and Theater Systems. John Brent, the manager, helped me decide on a plasma and the speakers. I choose a HDTV over the EDTV because I really want the best picture I can get and I do watch a lot of high definition. I selected the Marantz PD425OD HD Ready Plasma Monitor. I liked the aesthetics of the monitor and I liked the fact that it had a two year warranty. I also appreciated the fact that I could go back to San Francisco Stereo and Theater Systems if I had any problems.
For the surround sound, I got a Marantz receiver only (not the box set shown). I got a simple receiver because I don't need much power for the small room I put it in. For the rear speakers I got a pair of B&W LM1s in black. For the three front speakers I got B&W VM1s in black. I also got a B&W AS1 Subwoofer in black also.
San Francisco Stereo and Theater System suggested I use Mark Swenty (415-235-8094 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Although he was difficult to schedule I was very satisfied with his installation. It was $70/hour and took about 6 hours. He ran all the wires in the wall and the look is very clean. The sound is amazing!
Part of our wall is cement, so I didn't want to put the plasma on the wall. I struggled with finding a good stand that could hold the stereo components and the xbox. Finally, I found a Salamandar system that I designed myself. I love it.
I'm also fairly happy with comcast and their digital video recorder. One of the reasons I waited this long to switch to HDTV is because I watch everything on TIVO and didn't want to make the switch until I could watch HDTV using a DVR. Comcast's DVR is not spectacular (definitely not TIVO) but it can record two things at once and you can rent it for 10 bucks a month. That is totally worth it to me.
I hope this can help anyone currently thinking or shopping....
Tate and KirbyMy partner and I have two wire-haired dachshunds - Tate and Kirby. They are great dogs. The love to swim, love the snow, and are the greatest companions! Tate, the dark one had back surgery several years ago at UC Davis. They gave him the ability to walk again!
This is Kirby on a raft.