Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm trying to get a copy of my birth certificate. In order to prove that I am authorized to get it, I have to sign an authorization saying I am me. And have it notarized, which I did, at the U.S. Embassy. Then, I have to send it to this clearing-house that the U.S. Gov't (or maybe the CA Gov't) has outsourced record keeping to. Here is some of what I have been dealing with:

Customer (Julia Evans)Response (Stupid Person1) - 01/27/2009 10:46 AM
Dear Ms Evans,

We have received your scan. However, the notary seal is not coming through clear enough to use.

VitalChek Online Support

I took a close-up of the seal with my computer camera and sent them the image.

Customer (Julia Evans)Response (Stupid Person1) - 01/27/2009 11:47 AM
Ms Evans,

Thank you for your response.

What you will need to do is to take a pencil and shade in the bumps on the seal. Then make a copy and see if you can read the seal. If you can then scan the copy.

VitalChek Online Support

Did that.

Customer (Julia Evans)Response (Stupid Person #2) - 01/29/2009 01:41 PM
Hello Julia,

The scanned images attached to this e-mail do not show the seal any better. Once we receive your scan, we have to fax the form to the agency. the seal in these images does not appear to be shaded over with a pencil. Sorry for the inconvenience. have a nice afternoon.

VitalChek Online Support


Hello again,

There must be some sort of confusion. Please check the attached image,
named "Image_Jan29.jpg" I can see the image of the seal so clearly, I
can read EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and see the Eagle in
the middle. This must not have been the image you were referring to in
your past email.

There might be some confusion since I emailed these documents twice
before I heard back from anyone.

-Julia Evans

Keep scrolling down. It gets better. Here is the image in question. You can even click on it and get a close-up of what she is seeing:

Response (Stupid Person2) - 01/29/2009 02:06 PM
Hello Julia,

I can see the seal in the picture, but it is not going to show up when I send the fax and the fax will be rejected again. I apologize. I also so not see that it has been shaded over by a pencil.

VitalChek Online Support

She is going to FAX it? FAX it? What year is this?



1. I shaded the image darker and re-scanned it. This is as dark as it
is going to get. It is shaded with a pencil. The notary seal is
embossed on white paper. White on white. That is why it did not show
up at ALL when I sent it the first time. It should show up now when
you fax it.

2. If this does not show up when you fax it, then it is a problem with
YOUR equipment, and maybe you need to talk to a supervisor about how
you can get the document to the agency by using the same 21st-Century
technology that I am using. I am in a third-world country and I am
capable of finding a way to get this document to YOU digitally so that
YOU can read it with high resolution. Perhaps, being in the United
States, a country on the cutting-edge of technology, you can find a
way of doing the same.

3. I am halfway around the world, or I would go to the San Diego
County Recorder's office myself. Since this is not feasible, I am
willing to consider any alternatives you can offer. I can send a
scanned copy of my passport. You can even call the U.S. Embassy and
verify that the paper was notarized, since they keep a record. I
can't believe this is so difficult.

4 Please take some initiative and think out of the box. If you are
unable, maybe you can forward the problem to someone who can.

-Julia Evans

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Update on the letter below

Got a response today:

Hola Julia-

Wanted to give you an update. I spoke w/ my partners and we made a few changes that bring the ad a little closer to US norms. Just wanted to let you know that your opinion was valued and considered.

Un beso-


Hey, I made a difference! :)

Something to Look At

Sometimes, living in Argentina brings out my inner Germaine Greer. This is a letter I recently wrote to the owner of a local business:


Congratulations on your XXXXXX -project: it seems like it is moving along well and will be very successful. I wanted to email you because of something in your most recent job ad that I couldn't let go by without a comment.

I know in Argentina it is a common practice to explicitly state the age, gender, "attractiveness" of the person you want to hire, and ask for a picture. But in the States and in Europe, this has become socially and professionally unacceptable.

I would have assumed that as XXXXXX caters to U.S. and European clientele, and as the ad is going to be seen by many (hundreds?) of expat women, you would hold yourselves to more modern hiring practices.

You have every right to hire whomever you want, and post whatever ad you want- but as a potential professional female U.S. client, it makes me uncomfortable doing business with a company that almost openly states it will hire based on looks, gender, and age. (And a little ironic given the open political support for a "progressive" presidential candidate).

I don't want to go on some feminist rant- I just thought I should share my point of view that you might not have gotten elsewhere. If the ad irked me, I might not be the only one.



****Update ****
In fairness to the American involved in the project, he responded to my letter saying that he will bring the issue to his Argentine partners. Kudos.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I asked on an expat email forum not too long ago where I can go to get my knives sharpened. It turns out they don't have professional knife sharpeners here. There are peddlers that go around and play a special sound on a flute to let you know they are in the neighborhood. I heard this the other day while I was on my way back from doing some errands. How do people take advantage of this service?

1. I live in the back apartment of a posada and don't hear noises on the street. I wouldn't hear one of these guys even if he were in my neighborhood.

2. Am I supposed to carry my knifes around in my purse when I go out, in the event I happen to hear the knife sharpener?

Puzzling. There must be another option, I just have to search a little more.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Went to get an ultrasound for my thyroid today. The technician asked what the problem was, why I was there- in Spanish.

"Uh..... para mi tyroid.... el numero en mi sangre es bajo."
(Uh... for my thyroid... the number in my blood is low.)

"De donde sos?"
(Where are you from?)


"Ah!" She starts singing. "....California swimming..... You know? That song?"

"Um... California Dreaming?"

"Yes! California Dreaming. Sixties."

Dreaming, swimming, whatever.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Chávez, allies manipulating anti-Israel views


Newspapers in this corner of the world are splashing headlines about
the conflict across their front pages, much more prominently than the
global financial crisis or local stories. On television, the Israeli
attack on the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza after the group's constant
rocket attacks is the focus of debates, with most voices criticizing

Hamas, which the United States and the European Union
officially consider a sponsor of terrorism , is often not identified as
such in the South American media.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bills and Shoes

Yesterday I went to Rapipago to pay the city bill for the trash pick up & etc. This bill gives you two choices: pay the whole year at once, or pay in six smaller installments. I figured it would be easier to take care of the whole year at once, but- lo and behold, I was one day past the due date and cannot pay for the year. According to the Rapipago guy, I could go to the gvernment office and get a new bill printed out and come back and pay it for the year. Fine.

Walked about 12 blocks to the government office today. According to the government herlper boy, if I miss the date for the yearly payment, there is no way to pay it for the year. You MUST make six payents. Whatever. Walked all the way back and paid the first two payments at Pharmacity- which I could hve done yesterday in about 10 minutes. (which cost about $25- for two + hours of my time)

On the plus side, I found some hand-made leather shoes on the way back that I liked. So it was not all wasted:

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wealth and Income Inequality

I was quite surprised to find that after my last post, there was a comment (or rant rather) 8,000 words long about income inequality. It has nothing to do with my post, but obviously came up in someone's search on blog posts about Oprah.

Despite the fact that the commenter has some emotional problems, he or she ranted on about one of my pet peeves which many people take for granted: income or wealth inequality. There are so many myths that surround this that disappear given a little thought:

1. Wealth is not based on a bell-curve. There is no limit to the amount of money one can make, so it is not surprising that there are people who become wildly rich,while others do not.

2. Wealth-creation is not a zero-sum game. Just because someone writes a book and sells a million copies does not take wealth away from anyone else. It may increase the "gap" in a statistical sense, but so what? I don't have any goods in my house magically disappearing every time a Harry Potter book is sold.

3. Even though the income or wealth gap may be large, the standard of living gap is not. The difference between Oprah's day to day life and my day to day life is not at the same scale as the difference in our wealth. Her day might be filled with more assistants and luxury products, but we both sleep in a bed, eat three meals, take a shower, etc. If the standard of living scale matched the wealth scale, I would not have running water or electricity. Despite the constant publicity regarding statistical "gaps," the standard of living is increasing for everyone on the globe overall.

4. What is the answer to materail "inequality"? Material Equality? Based on what? Everyone should have the same amount of money coming in? Who is supposed to decide who has what? Greed is laying a claim to something you haven't earned. Oprah is not greedy. She has earned her wealth fair and square. Good for her. Childish people who claim it is unfair somehow need to look at their own greed.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Dear Women: You and Oprah Have Thyroid Problems Because You're Unable to Vocalize Your Shame and Pain

Oprah has to win some kind of prize for spreading pseudoscience to the most people:

Last year, when Oprah talked about her thyroid problems
on her show, with guest and close advisor, Christiane Northrup, MD, a
holistic physician. During that show, Northrup suggested that thyroid
problems were a result of an energy blockage in the throat region, and
result when women "swallow" words they are aching to say. Oprah and
Northrup never discussed thyroid testing, diagnosis or treatment, but
Northrup did counsel relaxation, stress-reduction, self-love techniques
like blowing kisses to yourself in the mirror, and a diet heavy in soy


Give me a break, people. This is scary.