Curtains !!!

November 08 2006

Our curtains (almost all sheers) arrived and were installed yesterday. They look really nice and lighten the house ... I love them.  BUT, the company has made us put up so much security/perimeter lighting around the outside of the house .... night time looks almost like day time.  Hmmm, its going to take a while for my body to adapt to sleeping in the "half light" ....

Got some news on the shipment ... it should land in Jakarta next week, maybe the 15th.  The company thinks they can deliver the items by 23/24 Nov (almost exactly my guess [1-Dec] back in June.  Of course, we shall see if they truly can clear customs in 1 week.  It takes 6-10 weeks in Angola !!!

ciao ciao

$4.82 , 2+3

November 07 2006

FINALLY, received the errant phone bill that caused my company handphone to be locked out.  Total amount ... $4.82.  That was for the 11-30 Sept period, which covers the 1st month I took over the phone.  What is interesting is the 1-10 Sept bill has been lost in yaya-land and nobody knows where it is.  It was for $22 ... I paid both (which are reimburseable by the company) and the phone was unlocked.  Given that this phone is a critical piece of the backbone for our Warden Emergency System ... you would think we'd have some type of agreement in place with the phone company so there wouldn't be a lock out .... you would think .... anyway.

What's 2+3 ??? 5, of course.  Actually, that represents the number of vehicles in our garage .... two cars ... and three motorcycles.  The motorcycles are from our drivers and security guard .... never would have thought I would have 3 motorcycles in my garage.

"Final inspections" are underway at the house.  The owner has only two things left to do:  (1) install the curtains (I think that starts today), and (2) buy two pool side lounge chairs.  As for the alarm system, generator, and stablizer ... looks like we are going to get saddled with servicing and maintenance costs on something we don't even want (but is a requirement of the company) ... not sure how much that will cost us.  AND, I understand we have to buy some plastic containers and store backup diesel (for the generator) on the property ... now that sounds safe !!  Thankfully its not gasoline.

As for the house ... well, still waiting for our shipment before we do the final decorating ... but next on the agenda for purchases is (1) entryway couch/chairs, (2) pool table [depending on price], (3) patio dinette set.

Nothing interesting to report about work ....

ciao ciao

Nothing to Report ...

November 06 2006

Monday was just a day of work, work, work for me.  Sorry ... boring stuff.

For Decy, she's not feeling well; catching a cold.  She went to the hospital to get a vitamin shot.  That always helps here.

Didn't see Chely last night (up in her room) so I don't know how her health presentation went .... hopefully ok.

>>> Still no company handphone .... don't know why the bill was never sent to me ... the company knows I have the phone.  Supposedly a copy will be sent to me soon ... so I can pay it and then get reimbursed (odd way to do it, huh?) ... in the meantime, still can not call out on that phone ... but SUPPOSEDLY the number is being unblocked in "good faith" that I will pay.

ciao ciao

Lost Sunday

November 05 2006

First, regarding grandma Suzy's question ... a phone is each front pocket is much more comfortable than two in one pocket ... plus it looks better.

Sunday was pretty much a complete loss .... was out late ... then woke up at noon to the handphone ringing .... several minutes of panic (trying to figure out which of the 4 hps were ringing (Decy's 2 and my two), then a "dropped call" ... then realising I had to call back on the contingency phone.  Finally got that all worked out ... a business associate visiting from Houston (Nat Simpson) wanted to come out to the house .... it had been planned for 4pm but he was bored in the hotel ...... Nat arrived at 1pm ... we chatted, ate.  Nat left at 6pm .... I crashed.

RE the house ... Decy worked on the 2nd wave of furniture this past week.  Some of it was delivered on Saturday:  Telephone bench/stand, cabinet with mirror, another mirror (for upstairs), mirror set with wood "sunshine" frame, two end tables, one coffee table.  On Sunday a traditional hand carved L-shaped couch with pads arrived for upstairs.  Still have a few more things coming from these last purchases.

Supposedly our shipment arrives in Jakarta this Friday.  Don't know how long it takes to clear customs here ... could see the items in 2-6 weeks ...

One of our Angolan friends (Stela Amaro) is coming to visit us.  She arrives Sunday morning and will be here two weeks.  This is her first trip to Asia.

Wonder what challenges this week will bring ...

ciao ciao

Contingencies Anyone ??? Part 2

November 04 2006

Good questions, grandma Suzy ... well, if I do end up using the contingency phone ... I can buy a new number for $3 .. and go "private" again ... not too bad.

As for carrying 2 phones. I put one in each of my front pants pockets.  My keys are now the problem ... but there are only 3 ... so (at least for now) I am putting them on a belt clip.

ciao ciao ...

Contingencies Anyone ???

November 03 2006

Background Item #1:  I am part of our company's emergency warning system in which if there is an emergency I have to call all of our visitors (20-40) in the hotels and advise them of the emergency.  As such, that requires me to carry a handphone 24/7 and never turn it off.  Plus, I have to carry all the phone numbers for those folks.

Background Item #2:  There is a scam process going on here where somebody calls a spouse and advises of a serious accident regarding the other spouse.  Then there is a request for an immediate transfer of money to a bank account to help pay the medical bills (hospital bills are usually paid in advance).  This is getting so sophisticated that often the allegedly injured spouse also gets a phone call being told not to use his/her phone ... and/or the phone company (inside job) starts blocking all calls.

*** Because of Item #2 ... Decy and I have purchased an inexpensive set of "emergency hand phones" ... if something happens and we get sucked into a scam and our phones are blocked .... we will have the "private" numbers that we can still reach each other with (clearly these numbers are private only if we don't share them with others).

*** Now, move to today.  I am trying to call Decy with my handphone ... cannot ... I am trying to SMS her .... cannot ... Finally a computerized message tells me my phone is blocked (5pm on Friday).  I call Decy from the office phone.  Decy quickly calls the "custodian" of my hand phone ... "oh ... sorry, maybe the bill hasn't been paid".

Bill ? What bill?  I've never seen a bill?  You mean the company doesn't pay it?  .... and, obviously, it being Friday evening and everybody being gone ... it is impossible to find the telephone bill, much less pay it.

*** Fast forward, ok ... start talking to folks in the office ... start communicating with them that I will not be able to call from my company handphone ... but can receive calls (at least that way if any of the 20-40 guys need to call me they can).  BUT, if there is an emergency, and I can't call them ... the guys are clueless.  Ok ... got it ... I can use my personal backup phone ... that's fine but I only have $3 worth of pre-paid on it .... hadn't gotten it fully activated and "charged up" ... quick call to Decy ... Decy calls sister Dolly (who sells pre-paid cards) .... 10 minutes later my backup phone is beeping me telling me that it has been "topped up" .... thank God for family and friends .... and people who can do something ... and do it well ...

Back to the present ... the company clearly has an issue if such a critical phone (such as mine) can go dead without warning.  Thank God I have a back up phone .... and thank God, HE was pressing Decy and I to get the backup phones and quickly ... I received mine just last night ... and the company phone "went dead" less that 12 hours later.

... as you can appreciate, with a "dead phone" not only would the 20-40 visitors been at risk ... but so would I ... because if I, personally, had an emergency, I could not have reached anybody .....  HE watches over even the sparrow.

ciao ciao ....

My Sneezing Cat

November 02 2006

Just a quickie today .... as part of our "fleshing out" the house Decy has bought some automatic air freshners.  These are not the kind that evaporate ... or you stick on the wall ... or you stick in a socket ... but ones that you mount on the wall, install batteries, and set a timer regarding how often you want it to do its thing. Its sort of an industrial strength.

Anyway .... when the machine starts to do its thing ... its does two "sprits" .... because its mechanical (there it goes right now) ... it has to pump the freshener ... so you here this .... phft ffttt ... phft ... fftt ...Now you may ask "how do I prononce" phft .. fftt ... phft .. fftt ... well, just think of the sound a cat makes when it sneezes.

And so, one night at the dinner table the freshner is doing its thing and I blurt out "there goes the cat again, sneezing" ... Decy breaks out laughing as that was precisely her thoughts at the moment ...

Have a good day ... God love you ... and so do I ....

ciao ciao

Bye Bye Annie

November 01 2006

Well, it looks like our Senior Maid (the one that does the cooking) is going to quit.  She says that it isn't working out her living in the house with us ... while being away from her husband.  We knew this might be an issue - and offered to let him stay in her room a couple of nights a week and she could go home on the weekends ... BUT .... there has been a "trust" issue there with him ..

Other than needing to find a replacement we aren't too worried about it.  We weren't thrilled with her cooking style anyway (it was ok, but not what we wanted) and because of her experience level ... she thought she didn't need to be trained on how to cook for us .

Wiwi and Nunung the Jr. maid and gardener (wife/husband couple that also live with us) want to try to take on the responsibility of the whole house between them.  Decy told them we would give it a try ... we would talk about "money" after the probation period.  Although I think that W&N can grow into the positions and do a good job ... I think they are going to be overwhelmed with the workload.  Just doing the laundry and associated ironing for 4 folks is a pretty big job ... and this is a big house.  For now, Wiwi will do the morning cooking and Decy & Wiwi will share the evening cooking.  Obviously, Wiwi and Nunung will need to share the laundry and cleaning ... we shall see ...

*** Had dinner with Paul Sanchez, friend from Houston.  Paul and I go back to 2000 when we met right before I transferred to Indonesia the 1st time.  Then, ultimately, he was the one that selected me to come to Angola in 2002 - and I worked for him for 3 years, before he transferred to Houston.  Paul and his wife, Chris, are very good friends of ours. It is good to see him.  He leaves to return to Houston on Friday.  Today (Thurs) Decy will take him shopping .... and all going well, bring him to the house for dinner tonight (last night was at a restaurant).

ciao ciao

Knee Bones connected to the Thigh Bone ...

October 31 2006

Recall the issues of the electrical stablizer, genset, and alarm system ... all demands by the company .... Well all were finally installed just hours before we left for Unjung Pandang.

When we returned we started turning on A/C units ... breakers started popping left and right ... reset ... start again ... pop pop pop ... reset .. start again ... yadi yadi yadi.  Finally, had to just bypass the stablizer.  WHY?  Because when it was calibrate it was calibrated with "no A/C" .... yeah, like a MAROON from the US would live in an Indonesian house with A/C and never turn it on.

So, brought out the service people .... seems the stabilizer doesn't work.  And the breaker box they installed is faulty.  And the alarm was wired into the stablizer ... and the genset was hooked up also.

So, where are we?  Have a new (used) stablizer ... genset doesn't work (has to be checked/repaired/replaced) and alarm system has to be rechecked and perhaps rewired.


Rainy season has finally arrived ... had a nice 1 hour down pour last night. Noticed no leaks in the house (YEAH).  Air pollution should be much lower tomorrow ... although traffic becomes worse in the rain.

Speaking of traffic ... during the Idul Fitri holiday ... commuting was down to 15 minutes each way.  It is creeping back up ... and soon will be 1.5 hours at night ... TRAFFIC DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.


Speaking of difference, how many layers of security is enough ??? ... at work ... (1) auto inspection to get into building complex, (2) brief case and metal detector at building entrance, (3) security check on 29th floor (where my office is), (4) magnetic card to get into office suite, (5) locked door to get into my office.

At home ... (1) security guard and gate getting into our part of the subdivision, (2) 4-6 meter (yes meter) high fence and security person at my house, (3) alarm system and locks at the door, (4) locks on bedroom door, (5) wife sleeping next to me ...

ciao ciao

Deal or No Deal

October 30 2006

Josh's blog on Deal or No Deal was very interesting.  I've watched the show a few times and find it quite amusing.  Regardless of who is right or wrong in the "challenge of rationale" between Josh and the ego-centric, self-centered, but immature other person (blocking Josh's email just because he didn't want to engage in an intellectual challenge) ... what is quite clear is that people are IRRATIONAL ... each one thinks that they can beat the odds.

In a world of random events and probabilistic outcomes while it is possible to temporarily "beat the odds" in the long run such is absolutely impossible .... a fair coin if flipped enough times will revert to the mean of 50% heads, 50% tails ... and each outcome is independent.

But a person on D or N-D sits there and sees $5, $100, $100,000 ... with an offer to sell out at whatever price ... yet they fixate on the "possibility of hitting $100k".  The real key to the game (aside from the discussion on mean vs expected value) ... is how many briefcases must be opened on the next turn before you get a new offer ... and that is what Josh was alluding to.  If you have $5, $100k, $400k, and a $1M on the table ... and the next step is to open just one brief case ... that looks very different than if you have to open 2 .... In a 1-briefcase scenario the expected value of the next turn would be $168k to $500k (and if the CURRENT offer is below $168k then he should not take the offer).  But, in a 2-briefcase scenario then the range of outcomes is $53k to $700k ... and that my friend is the real challenge .. with such a wide range in the NEXT round ... you would EXPECT to walk away with as much as $700k or as little as $53k ... but it really has nothing to do with the current values on the table ... only the OFFER vs the NEXT round ....

... Josh ... you agree or disagree?

Nothing to Report ...

October 29 2006

... but how could there be when a person spends the entire Sunday reading company business materials .... Monday's here ... plenty of new challenges this week.

ciao ciao

Sunday - A Day of Soft Work

October 28 2006

Today is Sunday and should be a day of rest for me. However, I have a gazillion things I have to do at work this week .... plus deal with several company visitors - cannnot possibly get it done.  So ... I brought home some "light reading" ... about 300 pages worth ..... we shall test my speed reading/skimming skills.

Saturday, Decy and I went out for our normal massages .... then had a nasi padang lunch with the girls ... now that Ramadan is over we can get back to our normal routine.  The girl that did my massage yesterday is named Tini (pronounced Teeny).  Well, Tini isn't exactly teeny ... but she is a pretty good massager.  The more she "learns my body" ... the more she can work on the trouble areas. After getting bounced around in a car for ~ 2 hrs/day .... I have a number of sore spots in my back ....

Last night Decy and I went out ... and brought with us Daisy ... and Fairus ... and Chely and one of her friends.  Had a great time .... then went to the Sabang area and ate porridge from a street cafe (our favorite late night "restaurant") ... sadly the street band was not there last night ... I like listening to those guys .... in fact, I am anxious to take Paul and Chris there in December ..... I can visualize P&C borrowing the guitars and doing a song or two ....

WELL .... time to get on to my light reading ...

ciao ciao

Friday ...

October 26 2006

What a short week at work (2 days).  However, there was enough to do and enough stress yesterday to cover a whole week's activities.

Commuting this week is a breeze .... 20 minutes to work 35 minutes home.  That will change on Monday when everybody returns to work ..... 30 minutes to work ... 1-2 hours coming home.

Work is kind of sucky right now. There's a gazillion things to do before year-end and I seem to get more dumped on me every day.  Also, I seem to be "doing" all the work ... while the others "talk" about the work.  HEY JOSH, want to give me a hand?  Sure could use some excel spreadsheet assistance !!

We now have "Indonesian broadband". Overall, its not too bad ... and about 10 times faster than dial-up.  Its a T-1 phone line type system running through a 4-port ADSL router.  Right now, have all 3 PCs hooked up directly.  I may try to network the girls' PCs so that they can access the i-net from their bedrooms.  BUT, I'm not sure I will be sucessful - the house is made of concrete and I suspect I won't be able to get a strong enough signal from PC to PC.

A couple of Houston friends are coming in next week for a business trip; Paul Sanchez and Nat Simpson.  I am looking forward to seeing them ... they are good friends (especially Paul ... as we both lived/worked in Angola).

About the electrical stablizer ... mechanic looked at it ... said it is OLD ... and it is broke .... stage right ... now back to the company ... wonder if they are going supply one that works ... I'm certainly not going to buy one ... and the owner isn't either.  For now, it is turned off.

Well, enough blogging for today .... I'm already tired and haven't even left for work ....

ciao ciao

Text Box is Back ...

October 26 2006

Not quite sure what was going wrong yesterday ... browser was unchanged ... and was still using slow dial-up connection.  Today, I am on "Indonesian broadband".  Its not too bad all things considered.

Now, to improve readibility, I am re-posting the Opa (b)ule blog.


This will be a long hodge podge of commentary … please be patient.


ONE.  About the title.  Ok, as you know Decy, the girls, and I were in Unjung Pandang (“UP”) over a long weekend.  There, I got to meet Decy’s son, David; his wife, Anna, and their 2YO son, Rain.  Rain and I hit it off pretty well … language didn’t create any barriers … so what is “Opa (b)ule” ? Well, Josh and Liz know that “Opa” is the name I have chosen for “grandpa” … which is a dutch heritage word, but used often in Indonesia … as for (b)ule … well … Rain can’t yet say “bule” which is Indonesian for “albino” and slang for American and “white colored” folks … so, Rain calls me “Opa Ule” … so I am … “white grandpa” to little Rain.  And, by the way, Dave and Anna have a second baby on the way … due in January (Josh/Liz … don’t get any bright ideas !!).


I got to see where Decy grew up as a child.  The house was small and simple.  It reminded me of the house in Nevada (that use to freeze up in the winter) and also of the house in Casper, Wyoming …. Grandma Suzy will fully understand. BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD …. Each and every one that believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life … but by the grace of God … what I saw was Decy’s past … and a reminder of my past.  Step-by-step … walking in His grace.


We ate a lot in UP … mainly in un-A/C restaurants.  It was incredibly hot … sometimes I could handle it … sometimes I could not … food was absolutely fantastic … I cannot possibly describe the flavor of soup, noodles, meatballs, and Soe Mei (kinda like Indonesian ravioli with pork meat).  As for costs … most meals (on the street ) were about US$2 per person.


Also, in UP we spent a lot of time with Decy’s childhood friend “Daisy” … yep … Daisy.  I have met Daisy before.  Daisy is an incredibly nice young lady that has worked hard to have a good life and not given in to the temptations of life.  Someday the right man will come along … she’s single and has never married.  Daisy came to Jakarta with us.  Don’t know how long she will stay here. She’s always welcome.


SECOND.  Remember the broadband we were supposed to get last week? Well, after hours and hours of waiting and being repeatedly told “he’s on his way” … we call the installer directly.  Answer:  Installer was never even told he had a job to do.  I HATE BEING LIED TO !!!!  Anyway, by that time it was too late … so we went to the airport … supposedly the broadband (well, Indonesian broadband) will be installed on Thursday.


Today, we went for a drive to an area called Tangerrang … consider it a faraway suburb of Jakarta.  There we had lunch with an Indonesian friend (Omalia) that we met in Angola (her and her husband live in Angola) and she is here for the holidays.  We ate local food (of course).  Omalia’s husband arrives in a day or two and we will probably see them this Saturday.


Also, we have another friend (I posted her pic once), Shairifa, who is coming to Indonesia and I think she will stay a few days with us … .AND, Stela a very close Angolan friend of ours (I’ve blogged about her before, including her pic) will be spending a couple of weeks with us in November … now if only we can get Tom Rapson here … and introduce him to Daisy ….. he he he ….


THIRD.  The company finally hooked up the backup generator and power stabilizer … as well as finished installing the alarm system.  All that was done the day we were leaving … what a bunch of chaos … and they were wanting to test things …. And show us how to do stuff … as we were leaving for the airport.  We still haven’t activated the alarm.  As for the stabilizer … well, it was “calibrated” when all the A/C units (we have 11) were off … soooo … when we came home … and started turning on the units .. breakers were kicking left and right … finally we bypassed the stabilizer …. They can come recalibrate it … with the A/C units ON …


FOURTH.  It is incredibly hot in the maid’s / drivers’ / guard area … and the fans are insufficient … plus, I thought they had a TV but they don’t  …. So we rushed to the store today …and bought another fan to move the air … and two 14” TVs for them (US$60 each) …. The staff are thrilled that we thought of them !!!!


Also, while at the store, bought the downstairs stereo …. 5 CD, surround sound, 7 –speaker system … that reads DVD, MP3, VCDs, etc … and can feed the TV … as well as take the karaoke from the TV … total power …. 12,000 watts.  Total cost … notionally US$550 …. Actually, in checking it out … its really a media PC … Che and Daisy are currently doing karaoke on it now … as I type … NICE !!!! (music and voice).


Well enough blogging for now.  I need to rest and relax, tomorrow will be a stressful day … maybe I’ll sing a bit … eat a bit … and then jump in the pool …




Ciao ciao


October 19 2006

First .... in a few hours we leave for Ujung Pandang ... don't know if I will have internet access or not ... so, if you don't hear from me until Wednesday, don't get worried.  I have my handphone in case of emergency.

Its 1147am ... guy to install broadband (385 kbs +/-) was supposed to be here at 900am .. we're leaving for the airport no matter what.

Guys are still working on the alarm system ... its huge (and not wireless) ... don't know how many sensors, panic buttons, and control panels they are installing ... but its a bunch.  Hopefully we don't get a bunch of false alarms.  Don't know how the my company expected a house owner (any house owner) to install such a sophisticated system ....

AMSOUTH STILL SUCKS !!!!  And they are doing a doubly sucky on Grandma Suzy !!!

Water - Cool, Clear Water

October 18 2006

Well, its not at good as the Marty Robbins song ... but we did have water this morning.  Issues with the water:  Last week - none in the house ... so they had to dig the well 45 ft deeper. Tuesday - none upstairs, because the upstairs water pump failed to work (perhaps due to lack of use over the last few months).  Wednesday - none anywhere because the main pump kicked out.  However, there is a 65 gallon holding tank on top of the house ... so don't know why that water wasn't available via gravity flow ....

Yesterday Decy had a long meeting with the Owner, Mr. Wiharga. He is a very nice man and very much wants to do the right thing.  His biggest challenge is that this is Ramadan month and tomorrow begins Idul Fitri weekend ... so verybody is tired from fasting and nobody wants to work until after Idul Fitri.  Nevertheless, Pak (that's bahasa for "Mr") Wiharga spent much the day at the house waiting on workers to arrive and working through the water system issues. Today (Thursday) ... I have water ... wonder how long that will last?

Decy and Pak Wiharga also went through the punchlist of start up items.  He was very pleased with the gazebo and that its "quality" matched the overall quality of the house.

Pak Wiharga pretty much went ballistic when he saw what was being done on the alarm system (and I can't blame him).  Apparently the installers (without talking to him) decided to rip out all the wiring for the smoke detectors.  Then when they installed wiring for the alarms they didn't match it with the house (white on white and brown on brown).  So what was a very "discrete" wiring arrangement is now "blaring".  Pak Wiharga is having the workers undo everything and redo the installation correctly.

Another big issue is that the office in the house is quite warm.  The A/C unit works but doesn't cool ... but then it did once.  Upon inspection, it was found that the outside condensor (or is that the compressor?, I can never remember) is in an enclosed area ... and in a corner that is incredibly hot ... bottom line ... no circulation ... no cooling.  The outdoor unit will have to be moved.

Regarding work, arrived at home last night at 7pm.  Had a very quick snack as I hadn't eaten all day.  Brought work home and was going to begin ... 720pm ... phone rings ... its a test of the emergency warden system .... I have to do my part ... so I pull out my list of 30 people and being trying to reach all of them.  At 830pm I stop testing .... result was I successfully reached all but 3 (90%) ... and found some areas for improvement in our process.  Of course, didn't get any of my other work done ... so now it slides to today ... which will make today tough ... as I have to get certain things done before I take my long holiday weekend (starting tomorrow).

ciao ciao

Amsouth Still Sucks !!!

October 17 2006

ALRIGHT !!! .... we've had enough ... we are going public.  How wonderful it must be to be a big corporate bank with an account agreement that says "either party can close the account for any reason at any time".

Now, for you and me, if we close a bank account ... what's the big deal to the bank ... nothing really ... yeah they lose the account ... but other than a few minutes time ... it costs them nothing.

BUT, when a bank closes an account ... without notice ... and "for any reason" that is a disaster for you and me ... John Q. Public (especially when you are 12,000 miles away and you can't exactly walk over to the bank across the stree) ..... Amsouth is just such a bank ... DO NOT TRUST THEM ... DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY ... DO NOT GO NEAR THEM ... they will destroy your finances .. your lives ... costs you hundreds of hours of trying to "rebuild/re-establish".

Amsouth Bank has closed my sister's account, my account, and now my mother's account.  I am still trying to understand why they closed my mother's account ... its a new development.

So, why did Amsouth close my account and my sister's?  For over 6 years Amsouth has been accepting my paychecks ... handling large amounts of money ... numerous and large wire transfers ... including transfers to Indonesia.  NOW SUDDENLY, AMSOUTH DOESN'T WANT MY ACCOUNT BECAUSE I DO BUSINESS WITH INDONESIA.  Of course, I do ... I live here ... I lived here in 2000-2001 when Amsouth had my account .. I've transferred money here regularly since, while living in Angola ... and I am living here now ... because my company moved me here .... just like thousands and thousands of other US Expats living/working here.

So, without notice, without warning, without explanation ... they closed my sister's account and my account.  Then, they started bouncing checks that arrived after closing the account (and charged me $36 for "insufficient funds").  Now, they have closed my mother's account ... probably (I'm speculating here) because she cashed a $220 from the HORRIBLE HORRIBLE MAN THAT IS DOING BUSINESS WITH INDONESIA.

No doubt this has to do with HOMELAND SECURITY ... but it sucks ... more on this later !!!

Start Up Challenges

October 17 2006

Today is Wednesday - 518am ... I have been up since 350am .... expectation:  shave, brush my teeth, use toilet, take shower, get dressed, get on internet, have coffee ... leave for work about 610am ...

Reality .... dry shave, dry toothbrushing, interrupted use of toilet, no shower, got dressed, 1 hr to log on to SLOW internet ... no coffee yet ....

I don't understand the water system in this house ... first, apparently a pump froze up yesterday morning, which prevented the girls from showering (but I could at 4am). This morning there is zero water ... but then I heard the pumps come on at 430am ... after I am already dressed and dry shaved ... ouch ouch ouch ... too little too late.

As for internet access ... after two weeks of getting the run-around ... seems the internet company won't install access without a letter from the owner granting permission ... more delays .... costs for access ... are US$70+++/mo to US$200/mo depending on if you want to pay by the bytes or have unlimited access. It will probably be the end of next week (earliest) until we have broadband .... This weekend begins the Idul Fitri holiday ... and everything slows down even more.

As for TVs, apparently the guy came and hooked up the outside, then the next day the inside ... but then Decy tried using the TV and there was no sound ... so back he came ... don't know if we have TV or not ... didn't get home until after 8pm last night.

The Owner delivered some of the patio furniture Tuesday ... 4 chairs and two little tables.  I really hadn't expected the Owner to supply hand carved chairs and tables with marble tops.  This guy is trying very hard to do everything right ... there just seems to be the basic start up issues.

That's enough whining for now .... ciao ciao

Monday - Moving Day - Finally

October 15 2006

This is it.  The day we check out of the hotel (after nearly 3 months for Decy and the girls) and move into the Palm house.  There is still a gazillion things to do at the house ... and it is only about 1/3 full of furniture ... and has zero nic-nacs and wall furnishings ... and very little kitchen/dining stuff  ... but that is ok ... it is now "livable".  We now clearly have sheets, towels, water, soap, toilet paper !!!!

Sunday was pretty much a day of resting. We all got up ... met up with some of the family and had a late lunch to celebrate Dolly's birthday (one of Decy's sisters).  Then we went to the house with another load of stuff.  While I cooked the shrimp that had been marinating overnight .... Decy did karaoke ... Chely was on the internet (temp dial-up style) ... Thasya worked on her school's "eqyptian history" project.  At one point everybody sang a song or two.  Overall, the shrimp was pretty good ... given that I had to assemble all the spices from scratch (didn't have any shrimp boil) and had to doctor-up the cocktail sauce (much too sweet the way it came out of the bottle).  I think Decy and the girls enjoyed it.

I jumped in the swimming pool for a minute to see what it was like ... very nice ... and will be quite enjoyable when we have some patio furniture and music there.

Today (Monday) after the girls leave for school and I leave for work (not in that order) ... Decy will shut down the hotel ... pack up a few boxes and haul the remaining belongings to the house.  When we all "return" we will return to the house.  Its been a long haul ... and we are glad to be moving on to the next step .... settling in / getting a routine / ironing out the bugs.

... This Friday we go to Makassar ... yeah .. I want to see the place where Decy was born and grew up !!!

ciao ciao 

In Living Color

October 15 2006

Grandma Suzy, there is only one cartridge ... trust me ... its a color scanner than prints only B&W .... urrghh.  BTW, I am NOT lazy !!!! (just a tired old man).

Made some progress on Saturday ... but not much.  Freezer and 2nd water dispenser showed up .... YEAH !!!  And, the workmen were able to drill the well down another 50 feet ... to get to more water .... double YEAH !!!!

However, the maids tried the washer and dryer.  The outlets and plugs were undersized ... thus, when they turned on the W&D ... sparks, sizzle, melting plastic outlets, zip .. zing ... zowwie.  We started the re-wiring last night .... washer is now fine ... the dryer was almost done when we left ... Don't know if they finished rewiring the dryer or not.  Also, I had to explain the exhaust vent for the dryer ... I don't think they realized they need to hook it up .... and they were going to just let the hot air go into the maids area ... instead of being routed outside.

Until the dryer is ready ... maids are washing clothes and air drying ... they realize we need sheets and towels before we can move in.

TV guy never came on Saturday ... urggghhh ... glad we didn't wait at the house for him.  WHEN he shows up he needs to rewire the TV outlets ... they aren't exactly in the right place ... we want one in each of the girls' room, our bedroom, the family room, and living room .... 5 outlets in total.

RE internet access ... Decy will go to the i-net office Monday and try to get that going.  In the meantime, there is a telecom dial up we can use ... I tested in on Saturday ... not real good ... but I think it is workable for a couple of days .... but, painfully slow .. but better than nothing ... COST - 100 rupiah per minute on weekends, and 165 RPM on weekdays ... that notionally 1 and 2 pennies a minute, respectively.

I hear the owner was still out shopping on Saturday ... there is some patio furniture he still needs to buy ... as per the lease agreement.

Owner added another 3 feet to the fence on one side of house ... it looks ok, I was afraid it was going to be ugly.  The back walls must now me something like 20 feet high and the side walls 10 feet ...

I have promised the girls some boiled shrimp when we move into the house ... so, I will try to honor that promise today (Sunday).  Bought shrimp and some seasoning ... couldn't find exactly what I wanted ... but it should work for this first time.

I think we will spend Sunday night in the hotel ... one last time ... then after I leave for work and the girls leave for school, Decy will check out of the hotel ... at least that is the plan.

ciao ciao.   

Wiwi, Nunung, Anni

October 13 2006

No, I'm not speaking baby language ... those are the names of our two maids and gardener.  Anni is the "Senior Maid" and the cook.  Wiwi and Nunung are the wife-husband couple.  All seem very nice ... Wiwi is sooooo small ... how small is she?  Well, not sure ... maybe 4' 8" and 70 pounds.

Got off work early (but late relative to plan) .. and made it home ... hmmm, 2pm delivery of safe and shredder was a 4pm delivery ... but all went well and looks good.  Washer and dryer was hooked up yesterday ... about 5pm ... but not before we had to go buy plug adapters .... Indonesian style to Singapore style (not sure why they used Singapore style plugs in a couple of places at the house).

Got Thasya's stereo set up and hooked up to the TV ... nice ... karaoke is really sweet now.

RE new printer-scanner-fax   ..... urgh ... whoever heard of a COLOR scanner, all-n-1 system ... that prints ONLY black and white ... sucky sucky sucky .... I'm stuck on that one.

RE UPSs ... two big ones work great ... not a problem ... two small ones didn't come with the "output" cords ... not very useful that way ... gotta go buy cords now.

RE A/C units ... we have something like 13 in the house ... I think its two that aren't working very well ... including the one in the office ... gotta get that fixed.

RE water ... we are in our dry season. Sometimes have water, sometimes no ... I understand the owner is going to drill the well a bit deeper ....

The four of us had a simple dinner at the house last night ... VERY NICE ... Wiwi and Anni laughed and laughed watching me eat fresh chili (during a pre-dinner snack).  Jokingly, I told them that next time they needed to find "hot" chilis ... he he he ....

We are having the typically "start up" issues associated with any move ...and in particular moving in Indonesia ... but we are making progress.  Today (Sat) we are still in the hotel ... just going back and forth for now ... as we get things organized. Hope to have internet access at the house on Monday.

ciao ciao ....

A Gazebo With No Yard ?

October 12 2006

And so, my resourceful mother (with electronic bahasa translator - nakal nakal nakal) who carefully reads my blogs and still has her wits about her ... asks how does one have a gazebo without a yard?  Good question ... read on ...

Most middle/upper class houses in Indonesia (especially Jakarta) don't have yards per se ... houses with their security walls, usually go right to property boundary ... think of it as a mini castle with a wall around it.  Note:  This looks especially odd (as Paul and Chris will see in December) when you have a block with only two or three house on it ...

Anyway, for the Palm house ... the front yard has a little bit of grass (inside the walls) ... it is about 10 ft by 20 ft.  The back yard has some plants, but is mostly pool, decking, and patio ... can't recall seeing any grass there.  The gazebo will be placed on one of the patio areas.  I promise to post a pic once the gazebo is in place.

Now ... as for progress ... after having worked late on Tuesday and Decy just about killing herself ... and having another very full and frustrating day on Wednesday (mattress delivery 4 hours late) ... I decided to leave work early to lend a hand.  Left the office at 4pm ... 30 minutes later I have travelled ~4 miles and was within 2 miles of the Pondok Indah Mall ... where Decy was waiting for me so we could buy the safe ... so I SMS Decy ... "making progress - be there soon" .... 45 minutes later ... I have travelled ~ 1/2 mile more ... urrrrgggghhhh .... finally arrive at the mall 1 hr 45 minutes after I left the office .... i tried ....

Anyway, we bought the safe ($500) and a good cross-cut shredder ($200) both will be delivered on Friday.

As for Thursday, lots of furniture arrived (see yesterday's blog for the list) ... our bedroom set (which includes a 4 poster bed) is beautiful (way to go Decy !!) and the 3-2-1 couch set is really nice.  I also like Chely's bed set.  (Thasya's bed set arrives next week).

On Friday, we have to divide and conquor.  I have two meetings in the morning (that I couldn't reschedule) ... then will leave the office, go to the store to pick up some things ... and then to the house to be there for the safe and shredder delivery.  While doing that, Decy and the girls will be at the school from 8am to 3pm for parent-teacher conferences.

I understand that the washer and dryer will be hooked up today (Friday) ... which is critical to our moving in so (a) we can have sheets and towels, and (b) begin doing laundry.  Hopefully, that works out ... so the maids can start that process.

Stabilizer and genset not yet hooked up. Security alarm not yet upgraded.

This weekend and next week will be lots of shopping, shopping, shopping, mainly for groceries - food, drinks, spices, all that kind of stuff you need to eat !

Friday, while waiting at the house, I will try to set up the new all-in-1 printer ... as well as begin charging the UPSs.  Don't yet have internet access ... Decy and the real estate agent is working that one ... hopefully soon (Monday ?).

Decy continues moving items from the hotel to the house.  We have a good shot at being in the house this weekend .. but I suspect we will spend at last least Friday and Saturday night at the hotel (being as it is paid for by the company) ... we will move into the house when enough pieces are in place ... Sunday? Monday?  we shall see ...

ciao ciao ...

Another Day ... More Activity

October 11 2006

For those that want to know: sukses - success; bisnis - business; jus - juice; rumah - house; mobil - car (I misspelled that in the other blog); telepon - telephone ..... SEE you do know some bahasa ... way to go grandma Suzy !!!

Ok, today is Thursday ... its 5am ... still in the hotel Kristal.  Status on house ....

Wednesday was a busy busy day ... today even more so.  I came home late last night (arrived about 745pm) so didn't get to see the house ... but as I understand it ....

First, Decy lined out the two maids and gardener  ... salaries, food allowance, what they can/can't eat from our side of the house, who cleans what area ... handed over supplies ... put them on 3 months "probation" .... and told them "no arguing".  For the gardener, he won't be much of a gardener ... we don't have much of a lawn ... but he will be working there with his wife and will also be helping with the cleaning.

On the lawn ...the backyard has some bushes/trees but no grass ... really just a deck and pool.  In the front, there are a few bushes, but the grass is only about 10 ft x 20 ft .... so, "mowing the lawn" will be done with hand shears.

Wednesday was a big delivery day for the Owner.  He still has a bunch of things to bring ... but he brought 2 TVs, the 2nd frig, small stove for the maids, one of the bottled water dispensers, the maids' beds, the washer and dryer (W&D are key Day-1 items).

On our side, Chely's bed frame and standing mirror was delivered. Also, took delivery on two medium sized and two large sized UPSs for the computers, printers, TVs, stereos (once it all arrives).

Decy did another "store run" getting additional cleaning supplies, food for the maids, sheets for the maids beds, small electric fan for maids (their area is not air conditioned), rice, noodles, dishes for the maids (but she forget spoons and forks, most eat rice with their hands), soap and shampoo for the maids (so they are clean and fresh), iron and ironing board, drinking water (until the bottled water arrives), rice dispenser, soda pop, and who knows what all else.

About 75% of the stuff in the hotel was moved to the house ... 13 air freight boxes, printer, stereo (Thasya's BD present, which she knows about), and a bunch of Day-1 kitchen stuff, sheets, and towels.

Today, Thursday, is a key day for delivering lots of our furniture ... our bedroom set, one set of living room furniture, the girls mattresses.  Next week Thasya's bedroom set will be delivered as well as the gazebo .... don't know about the other things we have already bought.

Oh yeah, the rugs that Decy bought will be delivered today (Thurs).  Today Decy is going to buy the safe and do another store run.  As for me ... work ... work ... work.  However, I plan to take Friday afternoon off.

So much to do ... but Decy is doing an absolutely excellent job and the drivers Mustafa and Yono are pitching in and helping too.  I think we will be in the house on Sunday ... as long as the electricians don't screw something up when they hook up the genset and stabilizer.

After we get this first wave of stuff in ... we will organize it ... try to build a routine.  Then next week, Decy, the girls and I are going to take a long holiday weekend (Idul Fitri) and go to the island of Sulawesi, town of Makassar (also known as Unjung Pandang) ... where Decy was born and raised.  Decy's son David is there .. and I want to meet him, his wife Anna, and their baby (Moses).  Plus, I want to see the house Decy grew up in ... although I understand it has been substantially rebuilt/renovated.

After we get back from Makassar we will then start the next wave of major purchases/moblization ... furniture for the entryway / sitting room ... and for the family room.

Fun fun fun ... huh ?????