Archive for » December, 2005 «

The LG Cell Phone Debacle

I cannot live without my cell phone. I sleep with it, diagnosis shower with it. Hell, buy I even have sex with it. (Not like that you sick-o’s!!) So when a cell phone goes bad all the time it is a source of anxiety and stress. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to have the LG LX5550 cell phone which has fortunately been recalled and replaced with the LG UX4750 for those customers that have had to have it in for servicing 2 times or more. I was so happy to hear this. I was afraid I was going to have to live with the possibility of living with a phone that only partially worked for the duration of the contract once the phone broke again after the warranty expired.

The first time it broke it was a power supply problem, epilepsy then a speaker problem, and this time it was the external screen thingy. After some paperwork is routed I will trade in the LG UX4750 for a Comparable Nokia. My 2 previous phones were Nokias and I have only had problems when I drop them into a puddle of water (Imagine that!) so the prospect of staying with an LG phone does not sit well with me. Fortunately US Cellular is going to work me to get me into a Nokia. Yea!

Digital Camera Research Links

Here is a collection of the links that I have used in the process in helping others to purchase a digital camera. If you are looking for one I hope that you find these of some use! Some of these are a little bit dated but still quite useful.

Digital Camera Memory Types

Christmas and Beyond

Christmas has come and gone as quickly as the agonizing preparation for that single day did not take. Somehow we decided what to buy for who. We endured shopping the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas and those are tiring and stressful moments. It’s either that or I am getting old! Hmmmm!!! Presents have been bought and exchanged. Family fun, order food, and laughter has been had and now the season and year shall wind down and end with a huge bang for New Years.

Christmas was spent with my family and there was a lot of food and games to be had. We played some Play Station, ping pong, and (yes we had time for) 2 games of Axis and Allies – one on Christmas Eve and one the Day of Chirstmas. I will be the first one to tell you that I am tactically challenged and each game proves that. I do however learn something from it and my tactics change accordingly.

Our eyes and thoughts are very much on the near future: house buying, visas, schools/training for my wife, and a trip to Belarus. We are in the process of looking at my credit history, arranging for a mortgate, and having a realtor look for houses. There is so much to do and think about for our future plans.

The Past Year

The last year was also filled with many things to reflect and remember. I have spent a lot of time with friends from Belarus who have now gone home. Relationships have changed and been challenged. I have married and am looking forward to our futures together. We have traveled across the United States seeing many, many national parks. The past 3 years I have lived my life and every moment for my girls most of which have now gone home to Belarus, and I have married one of them. Now I look to living every moment for us.

The future is the past as it is reflected in the moment.

Category: Holiday  Leave a Comment

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! In America this is perhaps the biggest holiday of the year where we spend a lot of money on presents and traveling. We will be spending Christmas with my family as will some of my friends. My mother will cook a wonderful meal and my sister’s family will be there for a little bit as well! All in all there will be about 13 people present for food, more about football, pilule and presents… and maybe some Axis and Allies. Probably not, but we can hope! =)

Christmas (December 25) is Belarus is not as big as it is here. Today they may get togther with family to eat and visit, but that is about it. Russian Orthodox celebrates Christmas on January 7th, which is still not as big a holiday as New Years!. New Years for them is the big Holiday full of drinking, presents, food, and parties. This is THE holiday for them that is a big as Christmas is for us Americans.

Category: Holiday  Leave a Comment

WATER OR COKE?

This has hit my inbox as a Forward. The only reason I am going to post this is because I have a small and not so interesting story that goes with this.

When I was in the US Navy part of our glorified duties while stationed on the USS Enterprise in the Reactor Controls Division 22 (RC 22) was to strip and buff floors. Specifically, click we were in charge of tending to was the XO‘s passage way amongst a few others. I was showing a newbie the process of stripping and waxing the floor at about 01:00 in the morning or so. We happen to run out of stripper and was not going to be able to get more until the morning, audiologist and this needed to be done tonight. I think the newbie had a can of Coke and we had a few stubborn spots that the striper was not going to take care of. So I told him to give me the can and I poured some of it on the trouble spots and we left for a few hours. We came back and finished the job. The Coke worked well. Using it is time consuming because of the wait, but it works. The other option that we had when stripper was not doing the job of removing wax from the floors. was AFFF which I have heard works well.

The email that was forwarded to me follows:

This is really an eye opener… Water or Coke? We all know that water is important but I’ve never seen it written down like this before.

WATER

  1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
  2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
  3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.
  4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100%of the time;dieters studied in a University of Washington study.
  5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
  6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
  7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
  8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

And now for the properties of COKE:

  1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
  2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in two days.
  3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola in! to the toilet bowl and let the “real thing”sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous China.
  4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.
  5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
  6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.
  7. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.
  8. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

For Your Info:

  1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.
  2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.
  3. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!

Visa to Belarus and Russia (Soviet Republics)

Oh, sickness the joys of applying for a visa to foreign countries. I am in the process of trying to apply for a visa to Belarus and for Russia for our trip to see
our friends and my wife’s family for 3 weeks.

The biggest pain in the ass for this process is obtaining the invitation and that was an extreme source of frustration and stress the last time (2002) I was in Europe. Last time, however I was trying to get a visa to Belarus from the consulate in Prague, Czech Republic with great time constraints.

I will try to log my time and experiences (past and present) of trying to get a visa for Belarus and Russia for those of you who are curious or who might need to go through the process.

The Invitation

The hardest part of the Visa process is obtaining the Invitation. Without an Invitation you cannot get a Visa, and without the Visa there is no entry into the country. An Invitation is a letter written by someone (ie family friends, or someone else) that can be obtained or generated from their local passport and visa office of the Ministry of Interior (Belarus). An Invitation can also be obtained from an organisation that you will work for or is sponsoring your trip there (ie travel agency). The Invitation must state your intent to travel, why you are traveling there, and expected dates for your stay. The consulate will most likely require the original invitation, however sometimes, as was in my first experience, they may accept a copy of the Invitation.

The rest of the Story

After that the rest of the process is just filing out a (2 page) form and paying some money. Once you get to this stage you are basically golden. Fill out the form, send the money and then wait. I have heard that you might be able to fly there (to Belarus) and get a visa there at the airport. A friend of mine who is married to a Belarussian and was going there to meet up with her was able to do this, but I would not count on this. This is possible as long as someone will meet you at the airport with a valid invitation. I would hate to be stuck in an airport and not be able to go anywhere. =(

What is Happening Now

I was not able to get through to the consulate in Washington D.C.. I was however able to get through to the consulate in New York and they referred me to Eastern Tours to obtain an invitation. Eastern Tours said that they can take care of the invitation and visa which will be $145 and 10 days. I may have to expedite this so I do not have to to worry. It looks like they can do both Belarus and Russia. Yea! So tomorrow I will try to fill out the forms and send it to them!

Department of State Information

The Department of State lists no travel warnings for Belarus and here is their Consular Information and listing of Foreign Entry Requirements for Belarus. I will also want to Register our Trip with them as well!

It appears that the Belarussian Embassy lists foreign entry requirements as:

  • Fee of about $100
  • Passport
  • Visa Application Form
  • Passport Photo
  • Self Addressed and Stamped Envelope
  • Letter of Invitation
  • Purchase of Insurance when I get there

General Information on Belarus

Contact Information

Belarussian consulate in Washington D.C.
Contact Info Page

1619 New Hampshire Avenue., N.W.
Washington, DC 20009

Phones & Fax

Main Telephone: (202) 986-1604
Fax: (202) 986-1805
Consular Section: (202) 986-1606

Belarussian consulate in New York

New York Consulate Website

708 3rd Ave.
21st Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212)682-5392

I Am A Chicken And I Think My Head Is Cut Off!!!!

Monday was a really busy day for my wife (Tanya) and Katia and I. We made our way from the Baraboo area to the Milwaukee USCIS (referred to as throughout and formerly know as INS) service center to get Tanya’s Biometrics (fingerprints) as a part of the immigration process.

We woke up at 05:00 and left a little after 06:00 for our 09:00 appointment for her to have her fingerprints taken. We got to the Milwukee area right in time for Monday morning rush hour. That was really cool! Not! We arrived at INS at about 08:40 with plenty of time to spare. We got there and were seen bascially immediately. In the ensuing mahem we were told that the her dirvers license was not valid as ID for the process because it has her maiden name on it the and the INS paperwork has her married name on it. So for the next 2 hours we go to kinko and have our marriage certificate faxed to us and then we were able to continue with the process. We were also able to get her Work Authorization stuff validated and should receive that in the next month or so. Yea! Nerve wracking as hell, side effects but we are glad that is over.

Christmas Shopping

Following that stressful event we had the overwhelming desire to have a drink. Since that wasn’t a real option the next best thing was to go Chrismas shopping at Johsen Creek Outlet Mall near Milwaukee. We arrived there at about 12:30 and stayed there until about 18:00 or so. Not having enough of shopping we stop in East Town Mall in Madison. When all was said done with 3/4 of a tank down we arrived at home at about 20:30 and a whole buch of Christmas presents. What is Christmas about anyhow?

We have had shop
but now we have a bunch of other things to worry about. What is keeping us busy now-a-days is preparing for our 3-week trip to Belarus that will most likely be at the end of January. She has her Advanced Parole paperwork so she can get back into the country, buy
supposedly without incident, but we will see how that goes. We have to worry about visas, money presents, and tickets, taking vacations from our jobs and planning our trip.

We also are in the process of looking for a house in the Baraboo/Dells area and hoping to close shortly after we get back (around March). We are looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom house with an open floor plans amongst other things.

Tanya might also look for different job and we will also look into college or dance classes. She has danced for 4 years at her university in Belarus and this is her true passion in life. So the next few months of our life are going to be moving at a break-neck speed so watch out everyone because here we come!

Category: INS, Life, USCIS  Leave a Comment

USCIS and Christmas Shopping

Monday was a really busy day for my wife (Tanya) and Katia and I. We made our way from the Baraboo area to the Milwaukee USCIS (referred to as throughout and formerly know as INS) service center to get Tanya’s Biometrics (fingerprints) as a part of the immigration process.

We woke up at 05:00 and left a little after 06:00 for our 09:00 appointment for her to have her fingerprints taken. We got to the Milwukee area right in time for Monday morning rush hour. That was really cool! Not! We arrived at INS at about 08:40 with plenty of time to spare. We got there and were seen bascially immediately. In the ensuing mahem we were told that the her dirvers license was not valid as ID for the process because it has her maiden name on it the and the INS paperwork has her married name on it. So for the next 2 hours we go to kinko and have our marriage certificate faxed to us and then we were able to continue with the process. We were also able to get her Work Authorization stuff validated and should receive that in the next month or so. Yea! Nerve wracking as hell, side effects but we are glad that is over.

Christmas Shopping

Following that stressful event we had the overwhelming desire to have a drink. Since that wasn’t a real option the next best thing was to go Chrismas shopping at Johsen Creek Outlet Mall near Milwaukee. We arrived there at about 12:30 and stayed there until about 18:00 or so. Not having enough of shopping we stop in East Town Mall in Madison. When all was said done with 3/4 of a tank down we arrived at home at about 20:30 and a whole buch of Christmas presents. What is Christmas about anyhow?

Hello!

I have just downloaded Hello! for Picasa and Blogger that allows me to upload pictures to my BLogger account and am giving it a try.

I am finding that it is not so intuitive to use. Settings in one do not transfer or affect the other and I am not sure how to get the Hello settings to affect the image displayed on BLogger! I am working with it.

Tel3Advantage Good!

Pachabel Cannon to a rock’n guitar. Reminds me of Trans Siberian Orchestra’s work. Very Cool! Take a look…or listen rather! Weddings may never be the same again.

Visit Jerry C’s Official Website

Tel3Advatage Good! World Link Bad! In the fight for retaining interntional long distance service World Link has failed to retain not only me but some of my wife and our friends as well.

We have many people that we need to keep in close contact with overseas, this site
specifically Belarus, emergency
and iffy connections are not what we need. We have enough things to add stress to our days and not being able to get ahold of family and friends overseas is not one that we need.

Tel3 has much better support and call quality, treatment
as well las the ability to look at your account on line. If you are making international calls and the likes of Skype are not a real possibility then give Tel3 a try. If you have consistant internet access then give Skype a try. Free is good! Very good!