Archive | September, 2014

An (almost) perfect triple day

15 Sep

I managed to accomplish three administrative things today, which, you may recall, is a really good day here. All three required me to visit an office:

  1. Renewed our Peruvian health insurance policy. Prices went up 20% in the last year, but I know, don’t even get you started… it’s still much cheaper here than in the US.
  2. Fixed our corporate address with SUNAT (tax agency) so our friend Steve won’t keep getting letters. It turns out this trip could have been avoided. I had tried 3 times previously online, but did not notice that there are in fact TWO confirmation screens. In the first one, the Accept button appears at the bottom of the screen, whereas on the second (why?), the buttons move to the very top. User experience fail. Kudos, however, to the friendly official who stepped me through the process right there in the office.
  3. Fixed my login with Claro (my cell carrier) so I can now see my account statement online. The problem was that when I signed up, the reseller entered my phone # as a DNI (Peruvian citizen) vs. carnet extranjería (foreign resident), so I simply needed to enter the wrong kind of identification, drop the first digit of my carnet #, and voilá, I was in! Perhaps I should offer my services as a user experience designer to these companies… this is a good thought, actually. I’ve seen quite a bit of evidence that the Web sites need a security audit also.

Thankfully, both SUNAT and Claro have offices in the mall across town which are much less busy than the ones close to us. There was a good sale on tennis shoes there, too, but Daniel (who has already had his current shoes repaired once) didn’t think they were made of strong enough material to withstand the streets and sidewalks here, so we’ll keep looking.

On a more philosophical note, the fact that I had to personally visit two offices to be shown the “gotchas” on their Web sites is indicative of a mentality which concerns me very greatly as a would-be employer. The education system is based on memorization / repetition, so there seems to be an expectation that users will have to be shown how to use the Web site as I was today and memorize the steps to complete every possible task. It’s about learning the magic sequence rather than making an intuitive user interface in the first place. My accountant seriously suggested that I read the 30-page manual to learn how to use the SUNAT Web site. I told her that’s why I pay her to do the filings. She laughed and laughed when I said that, almost as if she hadn’t considered that’s part of the reason people pay her!

Anyway, I really am glad to get these things taken care of. The lines were short across town, the customer service people were all very friendly and helpful, and they spoke a language I could understand (Spanish! As opposed to, say, English with a thick Indian accent). In between trips, Vicki and I once again enjoyed reading the Bible with our landlords and they were kind enough to lend us their ping pong table for a while. We disassembled it to get it up the narrow staircase and reassembled it on our office floor. It’s a really nice table and very kind of them. It takes up nearly the whole front room but folds up so we can move it down the hall when not in use. And what software development office is complete without a ping pong table?

Vicki made chocolate cake tonight. Anna tasted it first and started laughing. In the rush of things going on, Vicki forgot the sugar. Otherwise, the cake turned out better than any she’s made in Peru (it was moist and cooked evenly throughout–perhaps sugar is the culprit?). After a good laugh and copious application of whipped cream, we went to the park to play with Anna’s new volleyball. That lasted until Dad sent it flying backwards over the neighbor’s iron fence. Fortunately, it didn’t go over. Unfortunately, it landed right on a metal spike and began slowly deflating. This was already the replacement volleyball as the first was too hard and Anna is supposed to take her own ball to phys ed tomorrow for a volleyball test. So Dad was banished to the office to write this blog post.

The milk lady cometh!

5 Sep
Pasteurizing the milk

Pasteurizing the milk

This post is for all you raise-your-own-chickens and drink-raw-milk homeschool moms out there. Vicki and the kids have not been pleased with the taste of store-bought milk in boxes and had become increasingly jealous of our friends in the country who get raw milk delivered every day. (I exclude myself because I’m lactose-intolerant and have never drunk milk). We asked several locals and no one knew of local milk delivery; however, sharp-eyed early riser Vicki one Saturday morning on the way to the grocery store noticed some unusual activity on the sidewalk above our street. Could it be a bona fide milk lady? The rest, as they say, is history.

We now get raw milk delivered 3x per week and Vicki pasteurizes it on the stove. It costs less, tastes better (so they say), and generally ensures that everyone is up by 7am at least three days a week when the doorbell rings 🙂

In other news, I’m back from a 2-week trip to the States and we are delighted to have Rebekah with us until Christmas. The kids were sick earlier this week but went back to school yesterday. They are currently practicing their flautas (recorders) for a school music competition on Saturday and Vicki has been practicing folk dances with the 1st and 4th grade moms for the school’s upcoming anniversary celebration. I had many good meetings in Colorado with authors and publishers and continue to work on RememberOneAnother.com. We are thankful for a season of tranquility. And fresh milk.