Archive | July, 2014

A midnight “emergency”

30 Jul

About 12:15 last night I heard loud knocking at our gate. The landlords are away, so I was very suspicious of who might be trying to get in. I peered out the window to see an ambulance-looking vehicle on the street. I have seen these “AUXILIO RAPIDO” vehicles around the neighborhood but never knew what they were for. The driver was in the vehicle and his partner was walking back and forth anxiously between our gate and a small stream of water coming out from under the sidewalk of the empty lot next door. He was from the municipality (so said the truck) and wanted to know if I could get our water bill so he could get the connection number to call the water company.

Well, this past week we’ve already had several electricity and water outages, so I wan’t too excited about getting him the number, but I dutifully closed the gate, went upstairs, found the most recent water bill, and gave it to him. He thanked me, tried to assure me that the water would not be cut off (at least, I think that’s what he said), and left. About five minutes later, the water truck appeared, poked around on the street for a few minutes with a heavy pole, and left.

This morning, the water was off. The guys are now tearing up the street right in front of the garage where our landlord has his car parked. When he returns from his trip later today, he will probably not be too happy, but there’s not much anyone can do about it. The water pipes here bust all the time and the only thing that can be done is to dig up the street and fix them. Thankfully, we did have enough hot water left in the solar tank to take a fast shower this morning, and wise Vicki, who usually rises at dawn, got her shower before the water cut. We have saved up water bottles for cooking, hand-washing, and our drinking filter, but showers and laundry are another story…. Thankfully, the kids are on winter break this week so they don’t need clean uniforms every day like usual.

Just another day in Peru….

Ridiculoulsy overpriced oatmeal

27 Jul

The funny things we remember. At dinner tonight, the kids were reminiscing about some of the Google offices they got to visit with me and some of the incredible accommodations such as the game rooms (pool table, ping ping, PS/3, etc.), the 5-star chefs in the cafeterias, the fresh orange juice squeezer, coffee bar with espresso machines and every conceivable additive, etc. That led to a general discussion of fun places we’d visited, which included the Denver Hyatt on a Priceline promotion a few years back. Daniel remembered it had a really cool pool on one of the higher floors. I remembered they wanted $28 for parking at the hotel, which was almost as much as we paid for the room on Priceline. “Dad, you remember that exact amount?” “Yeah, actually, I do.” (And if I’m not mistaken, I parked outside the hotel for $24 just on the principle of the thing since Priceline didn’t mention that in the deal). I was beginning to feel badly that I didn’t remember the pool, only the price, but I *am* a numbers guy, after all. Then Anna chimed in that she remembered me complaining about the “ridiculously overpriced oatmeal” at the hotel restaurant. Thankfully, I can’t remember that amount, but the kids are pretty sure it was $9, which is, indeed, ridiculously overpriced.

There is absolutely no point to all of this, but I hope you enjoyed it, anyway.

Only in Peru

21 Jul
Photo of gas valve

American valve doesn’t fit Peruvian tanks

Vicki bought me a gas grill on sale for my birthday, something which we have greatly missed. Programming intern (and erstwhile gas grill assembler) Gene put it together for me along with son Daniel. However, when we tried to connect the gas tank we use for the stove, we discovered that the valve wouldn’t fit. We called our gas delivery guy, who informed us that the style of tank that works with the valve attached to the grill cannot be purchased in Arequipa; however, he offered to replace the grill’s regulator valve with one that would work.

So we set to work trying to loosen the big nut that attached the cable to the grill. After pushing and pulling for some time, it came loose… and with it another part that shouldn’t have. He was apologetic and offered to put the assembled grill on his truck and go with me back to the store where we bought it. At the store, they told me that the grill has an American valve (no surprise, as it’s a Char-Broil model) and they don’t sell American tanks (how convenient). They didn’t have the part that broke, but thankfully offered to replace the whole grill and brought up another in the box within a few minutes.

Fast forward to Saturday. As Gene was getting ready to leave for his flight to the States, we had a few minutes to kill. Gene graciously offered to pull the replacement grill out of the box and start assembly for the second time. We got about halfway finished, I ran him to the airport, came home, finished the assembly, and then called the gas guy again. This time we messed with the cable OFF the grill so as not to break anything, but after 10 minutes of fiddling, still couldn’t get the nut loose. Now in the US I probably would have stopped there, taken the grill back, and started looking for another grill solution. But this is Peru, which means 1) there probably aren’t any other gas grills available, and 2) there is always a way.

The gas guy went to his truck and came up with a hack saw blade (no handle) and began to cut into the metal clamp that held the cable to the burner controls. It was very stubborn and he ended up having to cut all the way around, which took about half an hour, but in the end, he was able to attach a new hose with a Peruvian regulator, and TA-DA, light it up! We are happy to report that we are now “cooking with gas.” Actually, we have been all along because our kitchen stove uses the same type of gas, but now we’re doing it on the roof on the grill, which as everyone knows, is way better because we can make the neighbors jealous.

Also on the theme of “things that you can buy but not resupply,” we’ve had a really hard time finding paper coffee filters that fit the coffee makers here. The metal filter basket that came with our coffee maker works OK, but it’s messy and doesn’t filter quite as well. Note to self: when in the States, buy coffee filters! On the plus side, we’ve found some really good coffee here, grown in the highlands near Machu Pichhu. Definitely worth the inconvenience of cleaning the metal filter every day. You really should try it. Best way is to come visit us 🙂


Confessions of two Christian geeks

8 Jul
screenshot of my desktop

All in a day’s work

I haven’t had much time to write because I’ve wanted to maximize every minute of the time that our programming intern Gene is here to work with me on But upon arriving back at my desk at 10:45pm after Arequipa English tonight (and helping the kids with their homework), I thought the scene which greeted me on my computer desktop was worthy of a post. This is my computer as I left it at 6:30pm while racing out the door to make copies and catch a taxi to the cafe where we hold English conversation practice classes.

Let me break this down for you:

  • Printer dialog (last thing I did was print the notes before running out the door and forgetting the camera David J asked me to bring tonight).
  • Bible study notes I had worked on this afternoon on Genesis 15. Uber important chapter! “Abram believed the Lord, and He counted it to Him as righteousness.” Salvation is by FAITH ALONE. And the covenant “signing” where God does it all. UNCONDITIONAL Gospel promise. Can you feel it, friends? One student asked me tonight, “but don’t we still have to keep the Law?” Ah, but the Law isn’t given for another 430 years, notes Paul. I offered to meet with him to discuss at length, and we’re on for 10am tomorrow.
  • Extended notes I found online for students’ further study
  • IntelliJ (programming environment we’re using for
  • Chrome with LOTS of tabs: several for Bible chapters, a reference on single sign-on programming using OAuth, MailChimp with an unfinished newsletter, and the Web site in development mode.

Our programming intern Gene (who also helps with Arequipa English) meanwhile is dreaming in code. Last night while sleeping he evidently spoke in Java and Javascript (so sad–inside geek humor). We’ve almost got Facebook and Google Plus login ready, but alas, as of this morning, the power cable for his Microsoft Surface Pro no longer charges his tablet, which he’s been using as his primary development machine. The Surface isn’t sold in Peru so these cables are hard to come by, but thankfully the Peats’ daughter visiting from the UK had brought her Surface with her, so we made a trip to Sachaca this afternoon to determine that the cable is the problem. We could take it around to some shops, but that takes time and Gene’s only here for 8 more working days, so we’ve repurposed an old laptop and it will have to do.

So I may be a little stressed, but also very, very encouraged with the progress we’re making on several fronts. And with that, I’d really better go.