Thursday, January 08, 2009

#2 and #3 -- a mouse is not a home

Topic mixing time. Where topics may be mixed thicker than metaphors and water.

Old house. New computer.

Last August, I decided it was time to sell my house. The housing market was crippled and appeared to be headed for worse days. In
new lamps for old, I talked about all the things I needed to do to get the house in shape for sale. I was in full navel-gazing mode, but I had decided the house needed to be sold. By October, I decided that what I had gazed at was lint. My house simply was not going to sell in this market: pots of gold; piles of trash.

So, I had a dilemma. Do I put the house on the market with very little prospect of selling it, do I wait to move to Mexico until the market improves (say, around November of 2025), or do I find someone to stay in the house until I can sell it?

I was lucky enough to find a friend who would house sit long term. Even with that arrangement, though, I need to replace several windows and a door, complete the replanting of my rock garden, and repair a section of my fence (that has been down for over a year). I also need to walk the house sitter through the house to describe its eccentricities.

Leaving the house with a sitter forestalls the decision on what to do with my possessions. I can worry about that when the house is ready for the market -- or when my heirs divvy up my goods following my untimely death.

The only possessions I am going to get rid of are my clothes. I have two closets of clothes that I will never wear again. Most will go to the Salvation Army. However, I will bring some to Mexico as packing material.
Jennifer Rose wisely points out that good used clothing will be greatly appreciated by my Mexican neighbors. Good idea.

Very little that I own will head south with me, but I will need a new laptop computer. I prefer using desktop PCs, but I have received sufficient warning to know that there is a great danger that I will be charged duty on a desktop computer. Besides the duty issue, there is the question of portability. I want to use the laptop for more than merely writing pieces for work.

Specials on laptops have been as thick as beer cups at a NASCAR race. I have been looking at several of Dell's models.

My computer weakness is buying much more computer than I need. That weakness is exacerbated by the fact that any electronics I take to Melaque will have a very short life. Electrical circuits and humid tropical air are not your natural marriage material. I would like to buy the computer by the end of this month -- if, for no other reason, to get used to using it.

In addition to the computer, I need a portable printer and scanner. That adjective will add a few more C notes to the purchase price. But I would like the flexibility of having both available for road trips.

And supplies. If I have learned anything from blogs and message boards, I should take ink cartridges with me. I have even heard people say that good quality paper is not always available. I have seen plenty of paper sources in Melaque. No need to carry along the corpses of American trees when I can find them in Mexico.

One last computer-related item. MagicJack. I was going to try it out on my last trip to Mexico, but I did not take my laptop with me.

My brother swears by it. He took his setup to Mexico this spring, and had great telephone reception. He called me while I was walking in Portland. It sounded as if he were in town -- as opposed to Japan.

All of these items are simple. I just need to start the ball rolling on each of them.


Islagringo said...

Your near the water dealing with salt issues will be very similar to mine...only not quite as severe. My first two Dell laptops died within a year of each other plus had continual problems with buttons not working, etc. I will never buy another one. My current Gateway I have had for two years with no problems. Except those produced by Vista itself. Ink cartridges are readily available in this area but are Expensive. A black ink cartridge at Sam's Club runs around $58 each. You read that right. Any large papeleria (paper/stationary store) sells good quality printing paper as well as photo paper, etc. Just my 2 pesos worth!

Bob Mrotek said...

Just a suggestion. Don't buy a new computer yet. Bring your old laptop to Mexico. Down here you can find plenty of computer savvy. You will probably want a Spanish keyboard anyway which will make life a lot easier. There are people who can build you a computer with everything you want and it won't cost you any more than a ready made from the states. At you age and mine (ahem) it is much nicer to use a 19" (diagonal)square screen than the small screen on a laptop. Yes, ready made computers are more expensive here but not that much more expensive. Besides, there are many bargains right now. In the long run there is no rush anyway. You will have plenty of time. For calls to the states I use Skype through my computer. It costs two cents a minute if I call computer to phone. A ten buck deposit will last you for months. There you have two cents worth :)

Michael Dickson said...

Mi amigo, your capacity to fret, detail, worry, kill time, drag feet, detail, list, fret is a marvel to behold. I kid you not.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I also tend to "fret, detail, worry," (I do not kill time or drag feet) "detail, list, fret" but MX has been good for me. I am definitely more laid back and accepting of "life just happening" and "letting go of an exact plan" I hope to carry is back to USA with me.

Anonymous said...

I truly enjoy your Blog! Looking forward to following your move to Mexico. Living vicariously, B

Babs said...

Steve, you are NOT moving to the moon. I'm sure there is a Costco, Sam's, Office Depot and Radio Shack in Manzanillo. I bought a clone desktop computer in San Miguel 4 1/2 years ago for $200US and haven't had any problems. BTW, when I did move down I had a desktop in the back of my car and they just waved me on......stop worrying and "go with the flow"!

ken kushnir said...

You must only be moving to Mexico for the weather? Ok, You are an overly organize guy, I give you credit. You are not moving to the middle of the Gobbi Desert, there are tons of good computer guys in all of Mexico. The purchase their stuff from the same places the US guys do, and the prices are almost as cheap except for ink cartridges. Take your old laptop or if you must buy a laptop buy a used one. They are really cheap and that way you can get it with XP not Vista. Then when it fritze out get another used one. Besides if you get a new one, you will not be able to get it fix under warantee without a lot of hassle unless you buy it down here.
My friends and I routinely supply others down here as we go back and forth from the states. It's not that big a deal.
Relax, I hope you will be able to down here.

Suzanne said...

good luck! you'll be glad you did
and I agree with some of the above - NOT moving to the moon - I imagine you'll have more conveniences than you can imagine, and some you'll just not care about once you get here.

but, I also think it's normal to fret - why not?
when are you moving?

Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- Everyone seems to have mixed results with various brands. I do not own a laptop, but I have used the various brands our company owns. I will keep your Dell comments in mind. I tend to go through ink cartridges very fast -- about one every three weeks. Those, I will bring.

Bob -- I need to get a laptop. But it will be cheap. A friend in La Manzanilla tells me that he has to buy a new one every year due to the salt air. And I was considering bringing along an extra flat screen monitor -- for my aging eyes, and movies.

Michael -- At times I wonder if I am creating an entirely different personality to develop. I am not a natural organizer -- or worrier.

AMM -- I look forward to manifesting my Mexican side -- soon.

B -- If I keep up my current momentum, I will be able to start neurotics anonymous.

Babs -- The computer is an easy solution. I can do that here. If I don't, there are sources in Melaque that can order one for me -- or make one. I really am not worried.

Ken -- One reason for buying a computer before I leave is to load all of the fancy crytography I will need if I do the writing project for my company.

Suzanne -- I start my sojourn in Melaque on 1 May. I test drove the house last July, but I did not have to do much for myself.

Larry Lambert said...

When I moved south I was an uptight newly minted retired engineer. I not only had lists, I had lists of lists.

I have since lost all sense of urgency. My new philosophy has become "I try to get one thing done every day, and if I don't there's always manana." The day will come when you wake up some morning and realize the same thing.

I give you six months to settle in. I plan to continue to follow your blog because I want to watch it slowly happen. Ah, shadows of myself!

Larry Lambert

Steve Cotton said...

Larry -- I understand the professional handicap. I am not a big list person. But, being an attorney, causes me to think as a list person -- even before I write anything down. The good thing is that I have discovered that my non-anxious side is dominant. It always comes to life when I am away from my work-volunteer life.

I think I just found another reason not to take my writing gig.

Larry Lambert said...

Steve - Then I suspect that with your non-anxious side being dominant, you're going to fit in down here very quickly!! A lot faster than I did. The problem with lists is than when you cross one thing off, you think of two more things to write down.

Life is good!!

Larry Lambert

Steve Cotton said...

Larry -- Just as long as I do not get anxious for work at the 6-month point. I know several attorneys who are serial retirers. They just cannot stay away from the law. I hope that I will be happy just being at the beach.

Anonymous said...

Steve, We have taken our Macbook to Mexico for the past couple of years. Our longest time spent in Mexico was 4 months at a time. We also made all of our phone calls using skype. Skype calls computer to computer are free and a skype call to a land line is 2 cents per minute. There is a small connection fee each call. We bought a head set with a microphone for $7.00 at Sam's in Puerto Vallarta. It worked great. We also have a built in camera. Our son is in Australia right now and he calls us on our computer and we turn our built in cameras on and we can see each other. We like our computer being so portable as we always took it with us when we traveled around Mexico. My son had a Dell in college and it lasted 2 years. He then bought a Mac book and it is the best computer he has ever owned. However, because of the humidity and dust I would say buy used.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Have you tried MagicJack? A large number of residents in Melaque rely on Skype. I may want to give it a try. On the other hand, I do not use the telephone much -- maybe once or twice a month. A Macbook may be a good idea. But whatever I buy, the salt air is going to kill -- quickly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, I have not used magic jack. We previously used our cell phones. Wrong!! That was way too expensive. So I was told about skype. I got it all set up in minutes and it worked beautifully for us. It is so inexpensive and simple. That is the beauty of skype. Good luck with all your travel plans. I really look forward to reading your blogs. I am a list person only because if I don't write it down I will forget it!! Once I got to Mexico I didn't write anything down. Enjoy planning for your trip.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Skype is going to get a look.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

You can also buy a full-sized keyboard and plug it into the USB jack on your laptop and type on it if you don't like the laptop keyboard.

I'm somewhat skeptical about the whole "sea air" thing. I live in Boston about two blocks from they bay, and all my electronics work fine. I've also lived in Houston and San Francisco, with the same results.

But if you are worried, you could keep your laptop in a plastic bag with silica gel when you're not using it. That should dry it out and prolong its life.

Also, I have to second the comments on skype. As long as you have a moderately fast internet connection, it's the way to go.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where the principal danger now is an avalanche of snow from the roof.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- I like the keyboard idea. However, there is something about tropical sea air that appears deadly to computers. My sailing friends have verified the problem. Whether it is the heat or the humidity, there is a definite corrosive effect.