Little Steps With Big Rewards

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Since I moved here to Spain, my biggest handicap is my inability to speak the language. I don't have any friends here out side my boyfriends family and acquaintances, and I never had money for lessons. Slowly I have picked up words and phrases thought my time here, but never enough to really be fluent.

Finely, I had decided that if were going to make it here, it's time I really set out and found a way to speak Spanish. After a bit of searching and brain storming, I came up with the idea to offer lesson exchanges, via a yahoo group called FreeCycle.

I posted my add and meet with great success! Not only have I found tutors to teach me, but I have started a second yahoo group dedicated to the idea. My first full lesson is on Thursday, and our first group meeting is on Wednesday.

I am excited eager to meet new friends here in Madrid, and to finally learn Spanish. It's amazing how often being a little innovative and brave can often pay off.

My Yahoo group is entitled MadridTalk and can be found via this link.

Customs Adventure, Part 2

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Well after getting up at 8 am and out the door with out breakfast or coffee, my friend Pablo and I, made our way to customs. It was a short subway trip to the bus terminal, and an extremely long trip on the bus. Once we reached the end of the line, we were fortunate enough to have a nice bus driver who told us the way to customs. It is on an industrial outstretch of the airport, adjacent to a big highway we had to cross with out street light. Always exciting!

Once there we had a short walk around the urine smelling building to the hidden entrance along the side. Luckily because we left early there wasn't any lines and the employees were still in a good mood. Having my friend Pablo translate for me, we explained the package was a gift from my mother. It was sent to me for my birthday and all the contents were for personal use. We were promptly informed that "There are no gifts as far as customs is involved." Apparently a company motto as they all repeated it often.

Fortuity the nice woman who had taken our claim was quite helpful. She asked permission to look in the box then stepped out of the room a few short moments. When she returned she informed us that the fee was waved and we could pick the box up for the 4 euro surcharge and be on our way. She also explained to us the reason it was stopped is because it contained food items.

If you plan to ship food to a person in another country, be prepared for some hassle. The crack down on meat, fresh produce, and chemical contents is at a high. Even items containing animal products will be stopped. The care pack from my mother had only a few sweet treats and none of them contained chemicals on the no ship list.

We were then free to walk way and make the whole lovely trip in reverse. This time with a large and heavy box to add some entertainment. In all our trip came from 8:45 am when we left the house, until almost 1pm in the afternoon when we returned home. All to speak for under five minutes with a customs agent and pay a 4 euro surcharge.

We where happy that the 100 to 6,000 euro charge wasn't applied to us. (On the notice we received from customs it said we would be charge between those amounts, even if for personal use.) I still don't understand, if nothing was wrong with the box and no one did anything illegal, why we had to pay anything at all. I'm not going to dwell on that though, it worked out and thats all that matters.

If your ever wondering why customs is so bad, I have found the truth. Across from the postal and customs building was this.

Yes, it all makes sense now!

Customs Adventure, Part 1

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tomorrow I get the pleasure of enjoying a trip to Spain's customs agency to negotiate release of my package. Never once, since I was a small child, have I ever had an issue with customs. I have been vacationing, traveling, and sending mail back and forth for many years. Of course I have at times payed a little extra money for tariffs or taxes when it comes to some packages crossing countries, but thats to be expected.

This time however, they have withheld my package until I appear at the airport. Not only will this be extremely inconvenient, but it is likely to be both expensive and time consuming. Then of course, I need to ask a friend for help, because I am not fluent in the native language. All of this because, well I can't really figure why. I have had bigger and more expensive items shipped to me in Spain. I pay my tariffs and taxes and life goes on.

By no means am I looking forward to tomorrow.

I will send an update after this affair is settled and hopefully I will receive an explanation on what went wrong and how I can avoid it in the future. Wish me luck!

Ah.. Silence at Last!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A while back I wrote a post complaining about my neighbors from hell. Well, it seems we weren't the only ones who had enough with the noise levels. The neighborhood community set out a campaign to lower the outrageous amount of noise past midnight. After the third notice arrived last week, warning about the crack down on violators, the late night street parties have seemed to diminish.

It's nice to sleep at night once more! Now if only the other neighbors would stop deep frying sardines in butter, it would be perfect. At least they don't eat at the same time as us. This way we can at least enjoy our food before the smoke and stink of burnt fish and butter fills our home. God I love apartments!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Here is a link to a blog for humor. It will have jokes and pictures of humorous things, but some of them may be considered offensive to some people. Listed below is the page description and warnings for Just2Wrong.

Just2Wrong is a blog for humor. This is a collection of jokes that make you roll your eyes and look away, even though your snickering on the inside. We will avoid explicitly sexual and violently raciest humor, other then that no one is safe.

Any content that may be considered too extreme will be filtered out, any off color items will be off site linked. This way no one is exposed to more then they care to be, and the site will remain work and child safe to view.

In no way do the jokes express the blogs or my own stand points. This is just some thing to laugh at, most images and jokes here are FICTIONAL, and should not hold barring on the people they poke fun at.

If at any time you feel a topic is past the limit, please feel free to comment and it will be off site linked. There will never be any nudity openly shown on this site.


Happy 4th

Friday, July 4, 2008

To all my American friends, and any other who wish to celebrate today, Happy Fourth of July!
I hope every one can enjoy this clip =)

I have to give Credit to Neatorama for finding it.

Email Safety: Before You Forward That!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I have noticed a lot of forwarded letters from friends and family. The act of receiving a mass mailed letter doesn't bother me one bit, not even chain mail. Seeing my email in a huge list that has been given to countless numbers of people does. Here is a little bit of short and simple information for email etiquette to help you and your mailing list stay safe.

Protect Others

If you have to forward an email to several people use the BCC, this will allow all the people you are sending it to to remain antonymous. No one want's 300 spam mail letters to their email account.

Protect Your Self and Your Family
  • Don't forward with your personal signature attached.
  • Don't use email with your full name for social letters.
  • Never give even basic personal information in email or chats that are not encrypted and with a reputable source.
Email can reach limitless amounts of people with a single froward, do not allow personal information to fall in to the wrong hands. With a name and a phone number a good criminal can obtain enough information to use your identity. Even if people can't access your money or credit, they can use your name, phone number, and address in other circumstances.

For example, a few years ago my friend received a notice he had a bench warrant in an area he has never been. As it turns out some one who had his full name and address gave it to the police as his own when receiving a jay walking ticket. My friend had to travel to another state and have the issuing officer verify he was not the man he wrote the offense out to.

Protect your family and household!
  • Never spread an email that lets people know you have children or live alone.
  • Never spread an email with dates or times your not at your house.
With your phone number alone most people can find your home or work address. This makes it easy for a predator to break in to your house, stalk you, or worse. People with children and elderly need to be extremely careful of online predators, they are predators off line too!!!

Here are some links to help you find out how vulnerable you are and how to help protect yourself and your emails.

E-mail safety information

Prevent Spam Mails

See what others can with your phone number alone: