Friday, February 26, 2010

Intervention

I think it is time for intervention. I did double workouts today! aughhhh! I swore I would not go there again, but I just could not resist the pool. It was calling me and I did not make it there yesterday due to the rain. Had a great run this morning with no pain in the ankle or back. Got home had a bit of rice and thought, hmmmm baby is at school, everyone is occupied, why not? Hopped on the bus and hurried down for a one hour swim workout. It felt great. I have been having struggles with my goggles, but hey just makes it more interesting when I am swimming along and all the sudden my dreads are swimming all around me and my goggles are swimming next to me!

Speaking of swimming with dreads. It is very interesting to take off from the wall with a head full of little sponges. Creates some great drag that I am hoping will work in my favor once I put them in a cap and swim without the drag. Kind of like the swimmers who get all haired up and then shave right before a competition.

The cool part is they are getting really bleached out from swimming outside. I keep having to adjust the coloring of the roots to match the lightening of the dreads. I love, love, love swimming outside. It is so different than swimming in the indoor pool in Flagstaff. I do miss having a coach and my swimming buddies, but it is a great pay off.

Today was senior citizen day at the pool. Like I was the youngest one there. Not the fastest, just the youngest!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rain?

It is hard to believe that it can be so dang hot one day and cloudy and rainy the next day. Today was cloudy right from the start, which is very rare here. Usually we have some sun for a few hours even during rainy season. That is how you can tell this is not rainy season, but just a front moving through. I did not even go do my swim today. I tried that one cloudy day and about got hypothermia. Decided it was a good idea to wait until the next day when the sun would come out.

We have a student flying in this weekend from Alaska and she has to pass through NYC. I am checking and it looks like she may be spending some time there. Or maybe she will get really lucky and they will fly her straight from PHX, where she has a lay-over. At any rate we will be ready to start classes next week and I am pretty sure she will love the weather here, rain and all.

Today was the first time baby wore her pants to school. Somewhere in her young life she got the idea that girls only wear dresses. I never wear dresses, so not sure where she got that idea. She came straight home from school and changed into her most comfortable sun dress. Her jacket is still soaked, so we better get some more umbrellas!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Granola Mom

I was trying to explain in my limited Spanish what a "granola" is. I finally had to settle on "hippie", which they understood. In my explanation I was trying to tell them that a person who is all natural eats lots of granola, and makes their own. I used to make lots of granola and just started up again.

We have been trying to eat less processed food and more fresh. It really is not too hard when you compare import prices here. I can't imagine spending 8.00 on a box of cereal? Crazy. So we have gone back to making our own. I am still getting to making my own tortillas, that is the next goal.

Granola recipe:
4 cups old fashioned oats
1-2 cups coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup any kind of nuts you can find for a decent price
1 cup raw or brown sugar

Mix the above add:
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup molasses
heated together
Mix all well and spread onto two cookie sheets. Bake 300 for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake 10 more minutes and take out stir and cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Neighborhood Seamstress


We had baby's uniforms special made for her. We did not do this because we wanted to, or because we are super picky, we did it because we had to! She is super skinny minny and therefore none of the uniforms we found at the store fit her. The skirt with the belt worked o.k. for her, because we could cinch it tight. The pants did not stand a chance of fitting her.

That is actually bad news for Costa Rica. When we moved here three and a half years ago they were all really skinny. Like we could not even find any clothes that were big enough for any of us. Now we can't even find any clothes small enough for baby. They are getting bigger here, and that is not good for them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Day in the Mountains


Monte de la Cruz is my favorite place in Costa Rica. Here we are doing a hike up to the cruz. The girlies loved hiking and they especially loved cooking hot dogs and smores on the fire.

We are going to miss this beautiful family when they vamoose off to Hondurus.

Grandma and Grandpa with the whole Central Valley in the background.

The Central Valley of Heredia, San Jose and outlying areas.

Hiking, hiking, hiking!

The playground in the park. The little cabinas are great and have fire places as well as sinks.

Two tired hikers chowing down on something healthy, for a change! Had to get a picture of teeny eating an apple.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Workerman to the Rescue




O.k. maybe I am a little tad partial, but really have you ever seen a more guapo workerman? This guy loves to play with grandpas tools and of course the hard hat and safety glasses. He is a hoot!

Oh and of course the hat has to be backwards, and he has to shake your hand and say "hola" and "con much gusto".

Dready Pics


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow



Loved this shot. We were headed out the door to pick baby up from school, and there it was just smilin' at us! My daughter said "grab the camera", and of course I was on the way.

There is only one problem with this beautiful rainbow! Rainy season is coming, and I have a feeling it is going to be a doozy!

Ah well, rainy days make things grow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Uniforms

Today we went to talk to our neighbor lady about ordering some uniforms for baby. She took all the skinny measurements and asked exactly what we wanted. We ordered a pleated skirt as well as a pair of pants. She already has one pleated skirt and two button up white blouses. So we will have four shirts and three bottoms. While we were there we also added on a couple of princess dresses for Easter. We went from Snow White to Cinderella, and ended up with Arial! The one with the dress, not the sea shells :)

She is going to have all that done by Sunday. We have seen her work and it is excellent. WE will probably end up paying less than the store and we will get some pants that actually fit skinny girl and don't have to be belted or gathered. The skirt that she has now we have to tighten her belt pretty tight to keep it up.

I will post pics when we get them done. Most of the older ladies here sew and you can get anything done or fixed for a very reasonable rate. Teenager is taking some skirts over to get them adjusted and get a zipper fixed. They don't just get rid of their clothes here when they get a problem, they make it work and wear it out!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So Different




We survived the first couple of days of school. I do have to admit to a slight "mommy melt-down" the first day, but other than that we survived. I would have been fine had baby not started crying. That does not happen often and puts me right where she wants me, under the rug. I firmly told her I would return in a couple of hours and left to go for my run. I spent three miles running and crying, which is very dangerous here, and went home to scream at hubby for awhile. I very crazy lady like explained to him why it was his fault and blah, blah, blah.

By the time it was time to go pick her up I had the whole family there to go pick her up with me and see the "awful conditions" I had left a crying baby in. We get there and she comes out with a huge smile on her face, running and playing with her friends. I had also complained because her teacher did not have on a matching polo like the other teachers. Well come to find out she is pg. so wears her own clothes. I asked baby on the way home why she was crying, she said that she thought all of her friends from last year would be in her class, not just three of them!

You would think I have had all the lessons life has to throw at moms, but they just keep coming. I guess when you sign up for seven you are going to get lots of lessons, like seven times seventy or something like that.

I do have to say the schools here are sadly lacking. They were old military barracks, converted to schools when they threw out the military. I told hubby if they spent the same amount of money on their military that they spend on their schools it is a good thing they got rid of them! They were probably useless anyway.

The desks are mismatched and falling apart. No playground equipment. And the building looks like a nightmare. Also they have to take all their own supplies to and from school everyday in their back pack. Now I understand why the parents carry the backpacks, those suckers are heavy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blasted Batteries

Does anyone else go through a small fortune in batteries for their camera? I think it may just be me with two teenagers, and myself who loves to take pics for this blog, and FB. At any rate I will have to wait until tomorrow to post pics of my new beads in my dreads! Love them!

We received a great late Christmas box from my son in Texas. I will not tell him it cost $28.00 for us to pay to ship it from the U.S, don't want to make him feel bad. We were just too thrilled to receive it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Dia de Amor



I love Valentines time. Not just the day, but the whole week. Everyone seems just a little bit nicer, even if they are just trying to get chocolate, but it is just nice. When all the kids were young I was a very good consumer and went all out buying all the kids candy and gifts. Being in Costa Rica, where commercialism is not quite as healthy I don't spend as much. We still like a treat and little gift.

This year we went out Friday night with my daughter and her hubby to a movie and then to Outback Steakhouse, where the only thing we felt we wanted to spend the money on was a sandwich. I mean give me a break, ribs are $30.00? That is freakin ridiculous. We all had a great time, and I paid for eating the Bloomin Onion on our long, really long, run this morning.

We got lost and ended up running for 2:17. I was supposed to be up to 1:30 at this point. Needless to say I am beat. It was really hot this morning also about 85, so that took its' toll. But we survived and will be having a great Valentines with the kiddos making Valentine cookies tomorrow. They love making cookies, so this will be a fun activity, plus give them a little treat.

It is also Chinese New Year so we will be eating Chinese food for dinner. I am thinking they are pretty right on about the year of the Tiger. A year of lots of movement and change. My daughter and hubby will be moving to Hondurus in a month or so. Man are we going to be bored without our exciting party partners around :(

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Library Day

Today was library day. We had some extra time so headed over to the library for a couple of hours to hang out with B&B. The kids can hang out over there for hours and hours, just playing and making a huge mess.

It is pretty cool because they converted an old railroad car into the children's center. It is full of toys and a little kitchen, and books and puzzles. The kids have fun and enjoy the variety of toys available.

Seeing how much fun baby had made me rethink the whole first grade thing. Also the school called today looking for baby and wondering why she did not start school two days ago with the rest of the class.

I was all prepared to home school with her, but then we found out her two friends are moving to Hondurus in a couple of months and who the heck is going to be her play group? That is the extent of her play group and I am worried about her having someone to play with. I am again at wonderment at the home schoolers with one child. How in the heck do they keep the kid from going stark raving mad?

Maybe they are not so old and boring as us?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yahoo New Shoes!



I have only needed new running shoes for about six months. I was so excited when they arrived in the mail today that I went for a run, stomach flu and all! I felt like crap, but man those new shoes sure felt great!

You know they say that you should change your shoes every six months, or 500 miles, whichever comes first. I was doing an experiment with this pair to see if that is just nonsense. Actually I have not had anymore injuries or pain or anything. They just got worn out after 18 months.

The new ones I bought have lots of mesh so hopefully they will be nice and cool. One downfall maybe they let lots of wet in once it starts raining here. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Friends

I love it when I meet someone new who speaks English, especially at the pool where I am always alone in my mind at least. Today there a was a tall blond in a lane by herself, about my speed, so I jumped in the lane with her. Toward the end of my workout I asked her if I could borrow her kick board, as I have not been able to speak with anyone about using the locked up ones. I have a feeling they are not free to use, just a guess. After we were both done we got to talking and the best news in the world, he and her hubby just opened a multi-sport store! I told her the drawback to meeting her is that I am going to be broke now! They even have bikes, I am getting closer to my bike I can feel it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Priorities



Well, well, this is what "workerman" thinks about our extensive list on the white board! He sure worked hard at it though, and got it really clean.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Loco Costa Rica

There are a few things you never do in Costa Rica. One would be going into downtown San Jose after 10:00 at night. Another thing would be talking on your cell phone while you are breaking rule number one. Another no no would be walking along. And the last one? When someone pulls up on a moto and puts a gun into your face-running! Yup my kid did all of the above. I don't know if he thought they would just ride off into the sunset, but they did not. Nope, they chased him down and yelled at him to give them his cell phone. He was right in front of his friends house, thank goodness or he may have lost his shoes, shirt and pants!

By the time he made his way home, after borrowing bus money from his friend, he was pretty shook up. Of course we just keep looking at him and telling him how lucky he is to be alive and how stupid he was to run.

You may be wondering if he had a really nice expensive cell phone by the way? No it was about a three year old dinosaur that cost less than any other cell on the market! I told him he was lucky they did not shoot him once they saw what the fuss was over. Seriously though I think this has about convinced him to try his luck at finding a job back in the U.S.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Running Partners

It is amazing how much faster a long run goes when you have someone to run it with you! I had forgotten this fact until my daughter joined me today for our long run. She is training for a 10k in a couple of weeks and I am still training for our Retarded Robbins Reunion half marathon. I feel great running 10 miles but am thinking that 11,000 to 13,000 feet is going to make a big difference in this great feeling!

I have been trying to get lots of hill training in and some sprints. Just trying to get used to not being able to breathe basically. I never realized what a difference it makes to train at altitude until we moved here to Costa Rica from Flagstaff Arizona.

Flagstaff is at 7,000 ft. elevation, so I always struggled to run. Riding was a little easier and since I never go fast swimming it was always the same. I have been surprised that I am getting faster in the water. I am almost as fast as I was when I quit racing eight years ago. It will be interesting to see if I can actually get faster.

I guess that it is a good sign that I have not slowed down. Now if everyone else just gets worn out and tired of racing I will win by attrition!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Footnote

Just to add to my case from earlier I just found this article at infowars, made me sick! Especially because I like watching the Super Bowl! I have bought my clothes from thrift stores for quite awhile now and I am glad of it after reading this!

Super Bowl Sunday: Women Paid 10 Cents to Sew $80 NFL Peyton Manning Jerseys

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The National Labor Committee
February 4, 2010

Chi Fung, S.A. de C.V.
Carretera Troncal del Norte Km. 12 ½
Apopa, San Salvador
El Salvador
Phone: (503) 2216-1060
Fax: (503) 2216-6048
Taiwanese-owned: Mr. Wen Ling Tsao
wtsao@chifung.com.sv
Workforce: Approximately 550 workers, 80 percent of whom are women.

NFL jerseys have been sewn under illegal sweatshop conditions at the Chi Fung factory in San Salvador for at least the last four years. In 2006 and 2007, it appears that the NFL jerseys being sewn at Chi Fung were a subcontract order from another garment factory called Partex. In 2008 and 2009, it is unclear if Reebok placed the orders for its exclusive line of NFL jerseys with Chi Fung directly, or whether production continued under subcontract agreements. At any rate, according to Chi Fung’s website, they are an “approved Reebok producer.”
world news Super Bowl Sunday: Women Paid 10 Cents to Sew $80 NFL Peyton Manning Jerseys
Warren Buffett world news Super Bowl Sunday: Women Paid 10 Cents to Sew $80 NFL Peyton Manning Jerseys

Payton Manning Reebok NFL jersey which was produced at Chi Fung and sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods.


In the year 2000, Reebok agreed to pay the NFL $250 million over the next ten years to be the exclusive apparel distributor for the National Football League. However, the NFL-Reebok mega-deal has done nothing to lift workers across the developing world who sew NFL jerseys out of poverty.

In 2008 and 2009, two production lines at Chi Fung were dedicated to NFL jerseys. The workers could easily rattle off the names of the team jerseys they have sewn—Colts, Vikings, Cowboys, Patriots, Ravens, Jets, Steelers, Giants, Green Bay Packers, Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Panthers and Raiders. Most of the jerseys they sewed carried the names and numbers of NFL star players such as Peyton Manning, Number 18, of the Superbowl-bound Indianapolis Colts.

In fact, the workers did not have much time to think about the players whose jerseys they were sewing. An assembly line of 28 workers had a mandatory production goal of completing 2,300 NFL jerseys in the regular nine-hour shift—from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with an hour off (a 20-minute morning break and 40 minutes for lunch). The production goal was 255 jerseys per hour, which meant that each of the 28 workers, in effect, had to sew nine jerseys per hour, or one jersey every 6.6 minutes. The workers were paid just 10 cents for each $80 Peyton Manning NFL jersey they sewed. This means that their wages amounted to just a little more than one-tenth of one percent of the jerseys’ retail price!

[At the Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Carmel, Indiana—about 30 minutes north of downtown Indianapolis—there were at least 230 screen printed Colts jerseys, about a quarter of which were sewn in El Salvador. The labels and style number (7009A 07) of the NFL jerseys exactly matched labels smuggled out of the Chi Fung factory. The remainder of the NFL jerseys were made in Guatemala and Honduras.]

The regular work week in El Salvador is 44 hours, with 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shifts Monday through Thursday and a 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift on Friday. This puts the workers at the factory 49 hours a week, while toiling 44 hours after taking into account the one hour a day of breaktime.

However, for the NFL workers at Chi Fung, the mandatory workweek is actually 61 to 65 hours. Not only is all overtime obligatory, it is unpaid!

NFL/Chi Fung Actual Workweek

Monday – Thursday

7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday

7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Saturday

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon or 4:00 p.m

The workers are at the factory 61 to 65 hours a week, while actually working 56 to 59 hours, including 12 to 15 hours of obligatory overtime, which is unpaid. Management tells the workers that they will receive a $3.00 daily incentive bonus if they reach their assigned production target, but even working from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. the workers can only reach the goal about half the time.

Under this scheme, the workers are routinely cheated of $10.44 each week, or 18 percent of the wages legally due them. While $10.44 might not seem like too big a deal, for the workers, this is the equivalent of being cheated of 14 ½ hours’ wages each week!

Supervisors try to make it seem that working unpaid overtime is actually to the workers’ advantage. “Working on Saturday [without pay] benefits you,” supervisors explain, “because you can advance your work for the next week and therefore earn more money.”

The base wage in El Salvador’s garment factories is 72 cents an hour and overtime is supposed to be paid as double time, or $1.44. In El Salvador, as in much of Latin America, workers can receive a “7th Day” attendance bonus. If they do not miss a day and are not late, the workers will be paid the minimum wage for eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Garment Workers’ Wages in El Salvador

(Including 7th Day Attendance Bonus)

72 cents an hour (base wage) / 92 cents an hour with Attendance Bonus

$5.76 a day (8 hours)

$40.48 a week (44 hours)

$173.70 a month

$2,084.40 a year

With the attendance bonus, workers can earn 92 cents an hour. The workers also receive annual vacation pay of $26.05 and (for workers with one to three years employment) a Christmas bonus of $57.76.

For the average 57 ½ hour workweek, including 13 ½ hours of mandatory overtime, the NFL workers should have been paid $59.76, not the $49.32 they received. They are being shortchanged of 18 percent of the wages legally due them.

“We always knew they were cheating us,” one woman said, “We knew they weren’t paying overtime. But we don’t have any other choice. At least we are sure of earning the minimum wage, while we were hearing that a lot of maquila factories were closing. So where could we go? Many got desperate and quit—that’s true—but many of us were trapped without any alternatives.”

Sometimes supervisors told the workers that they could not pay overtime because the factory did not have enough work orders and were short on money.

For four years, from 2006 until September, 2009, in broad daylight, the Chi Fung factory cheated the NFL workers of their legal overtime wages.

It is even worse than it seems. The legal minimum wage in El Salvador’s garment factories does not even come close to meeting basic subsistence-level needs. The highly respected independent Salvadoran non-governmental organization, Center for Consumers Defense (CDC), has found that garment workers wages meet just 23 percent of the basic subsistence needs for food, housing, health care and clothing for an average sized family (3.94 people).

International Labor Organization (ILO) data also show that real wages in the export garment sector in El Salvador have actually fallen by eight percent since 2000. The workers are actually going backward.

The major quarter-billion dollar NFL/Reebok deal has done nothing to help its workers around the developing world to climb out of poverty.

Surely the NFL and Reebok could do better than paying the workers in El Salvador just 10 cents for each $80 jersey they sew. Even if they doubled the wages, the direct labor cost to sew the NFL jerseys would still be just 20 1/2 cents, or less than 3/10ths of one percent of the jersey’s $80 retail price.

Constant Harassment

Supervisors constantly shout at the workers: “You’re falling behind your target. Do you want me to call the boss?” …”You’re not here to warm your seat.” “You had better stay home if you don’t like the work here –the gates are always open to you if you don’t like it here.” It is not uncommon for women workers in the production lines to cry because of the constant pressure and abuse.

Cameras are used to Spy on the Workers

Cameras have been placed throughout the production area and at the entrance to the bathrooms. Management uses the cameras to intimidate the workers and to spy on them so they feel under constant pressure. The owner, Mr. Wen Ling Tsao—who is called “Don Antonio,” uses a loud speaker so that everyone can hear him chastising a worker. Watching the camera screen, if he sees a worker is taking too long to use the bathroom, he’ll shout: “Hurry up! Sit down fast. Don’t take so much time. You’re hurting production!” For the workers, it is humiliating to be embarrassed and harassed in front of the other workers.

Dirty Bathrooms and Water

The bathrooms only receive a good cleaning and some maintenance repair before the corporate auditors schedule their visit to inspect the factory. Otherwise, the bathrooms smell bad. Some toilets are out of order and many of the stall doors are broken. With several toilets out of order, there are longer delays for the workers, who are then yelled at for taking too much time. There is no soap or towels in the bathrooms, but at the beginning of the week each worker is provided with a small roll of toilet paper, which must last the full six days.

Codes of Conduct and Corporate Audits continue to Fail

Codes of conduct—for Reebok, Adidas and Soffee—adorn the factory walls, but they are meaningless. Management has never discussed the Codes with the workers and at any rate, they have never been implemented or enforced.

Auditors from Reebok, Adidas and Soffee regularly visit the factory. According to the workers, audits take place every six months or so. The auditors spend more time and attention on the quality of the garments than on factory conditions. During the audits, production goals are drastically cut back, the pace of production slows down and there is no forced overtime. But the short reprieve is a mixed blessing since when the auditors depart, the supervisors start yelling and urge the workers to “work faster..to replace the time lost because of the auditors visit.”

Before the auditors arrive, the workers are routinely threatened by managers and supervisors: “Look. If you speak badly about Chi Fung, the labels will pull their work and the factory will close. Don’t forget. Chi Fung is the one who feeds you!” Some of the threats are more direct: “You should think hard about what you are going to tell the auditors. If you speak against the factory, you are going to be fired. You will never work with us again.”

Needless to say, given their experience, the workers put no faith or reliance in the corporate codes of conduct. They are alone.

Nor do unions exist in El Salvador’s garment factories. Organizing is not allowed. There is not a single garment factory in El Salvador where the workers have a union with a collective contract. Yet, despite the routine gross violation of Salvadoran labor law and the core International Labor Organization’s worker rights standards, the NFL and other garments continue to enter the U.S. duty-free under the U.S.-Cafta Free Trade Agreement. The worker rights provisions in CAFTA are not being respected.

The NFL/Reebok jerseys were sewn for at least four years—from 2006 to 2009. It was only in September of 2009 that the NFL production stopped.

* Reebok: Reebok garments are still being sewn at Chi Fung, only they are not NFL. Reebok is currently producing cotton sweatpants and sweatshirts in grey, blue and green. The sweatshirts have pockets and a zipper. (Two production lines.)

* Adidas: Adidas is producing athletic shorts in blue, black, green and white. (Production on three lines.)

* Soffee: Soffee is producing waterproof men’s shorts with pockets in blue and white. Soffee is also producing lingerie for women. (Soffee production on four lines.)

* Fruit of the Loom: Fruit of the Loom is producing children’s t-shirts. (Production on one line).

* Elderwear: Elderwear began production at Chi Fung in November 2009 and 100 new workers were hired to sew their garments.

A Strange Thing Happened

When the NFL/Reebok production stopped (after four years) at the Chi Fung factory, in September 2009, Chi Fung began paying its workers the correct overtime premium. All overtime is still forced, but the workers are now being paid double time ($1.44) for each hour of overtime they work. Again, supervisors explain to the workers that “overtime is required because you have needs and I know the money is not enough for you.”

The workers were not able to explain exactly why all of a sudden the factory had started paying overtime correctly. Perhaps one of the companies finally put pressure on Chi Fung management. Or it could be that so many of the best and fastest workers were quitting Chi Fung because they were being cheated on their overtime pay that the turnover, with new workers continually coming in, was hurting the production and the quality of Chi Fung’s work. New workers have to be trained and it takes time to bring them up to speed.

At the same time that Chi Fung finally started paying the correct overtime premium, they increased factory production goals, forcing the workers to produce more in less time.

What Must Be Done

An Appeal to the NFL and Reebok

The National Labor Committee is anxious to work together with Reebok and the National Football League to improve conditions at the Chi Fung factory in El Salvador. With such well known and powerful labels sewn at Chi Fung –NFL/Reebok, Adidas, Soffee, Elderwear, Fruit of the Loom—it should be possible to combine our efforts to bring their contractor, Chi Fung, into complete compliance with El Salvador’s laws and commitments under the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement. With the right intentions and efforts, Chi Fung could be transformed from a sweatshop into a much better than average or even model plant.

The worst thing Reebok, the NFL and the other labels could do would be to pull their work from the Chi Fung factory.

NFL/Reebok production has been at the Chi Fung factory for years. Cutting and running would only further punish the workers, who have already suffered enough. Reebok, the NFL, Adidas and the others should keep their production in Chi Fung and use their considerable power and influence to improve factory conditions. There is not a consumer in the United States who does not believe that if the NFL and Reebok really wanted to clean up the factory, it would be done quickly and correctly.

No Walmart for Me

I just read a post about investments and had to vent somewhere, good place here! Better than being negative Nancy on someone elses post. I am anti-war, anti-slave labor, and anti-Monsanto, and anti-big pharm. Add that up and I would have nothing to invest in as far as the U.S goes. Those are really the big investments in the U.S. and I would never give a penny of my money to any of them.

For that matter I refuse to shop at Wal-mart. I adopted a daughter from China, I know what it is like for people to live in poverty. I know that my daughter could be starting about now, at the age of six, to work in a button factory. Her parents could have taken her to the city and dropped her off at a factory where she would work 12 hour days and they would give her rice three times a day and a place to sleep. The thought obviously brings tears to my eyes!

Do people even think about this when they go to buy their "stuff?" There is a great Vegee Tales story about this by the way. It is about Madam Blueberry who just has to keep buying more stuff. Finally her house falls out of the tree because she has so much crap. How have the powers that be convinced us that we cannot live without that one more essential item?

There are so many people living with nothing, how can we really rationalize our wants into needs? Needs are shelter, food, water and human interaction. I think the whole world needs to stand back, re-evaluate and get rid of the crap!

I have heard the argument that we are creating jobs for them by buying their crap. If we do not buy the crap they can go home from the factories. They can stay with their families and raise food, which is what they used to do. Anymore in China they don't even prefer boys, girls can work in the factories as well as the boys. No one is there to work the land and raise food. So now they all work so they can buy food from the government. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Costa Rica Cops

I think I still suffer from "culture shock" even after three years. Last night we had a scare from teenage girl. She takes the dogs walking every evening with her best friend. They are supposed to be done by nine and she is supposed to be in the door by nine thirty. Nine thirty came and went and we were ready to head out the door to look for her. About nine forty five she comes running in the house with a paper. She said the police had given her a "paper". My heart about fell out and I thought she meant she had gotten a ticket.

Even though we have heard they do not deport and break up families here I still had a moment of panic when she came in and said that. I about screamed "what do you mean a paper?"

Once she calmed down and told us the whole story I just laughed and said "only in Costa Rica!" The story was she was coming home when she walked by a big gaggle of teenager boys sitting on the corner by our house. The police were there breaking them up and telling them to go home and stop congregating there. After she walked by they stopped her and started questioning her. They wanted to know her name, where she lived, how old she was, how long she has been here, and oh yeah do you have a boyfriend?

Then they wrote down their number and told her if she ever needed anything she could just call them! They did tell her they did not go out often, only when they wanted to meet up with the other cops and have a beer! O.K. see why I said "only in Costa Rica?" Now I have to be doubly worried about her, not only the bad guys but also the good guys.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Day in the Park


Wow what a day! I would liken today to a full training day, actually much more tiring. We started off by hitting the pool. I went early and swam my workout and then the girlies joined me. I was able to snag a kick board and baby took off on that thing. She is pretty much swimming now and I think she is going to be our little fish.

After a couple of hours playing at the pool we headed over to Parque Central to chase pigeons for awhile. It is right in the center of Heredia and is the place to hang out. Also the pigeons are a blast for the kids to chase.
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Benjie has decided the pigeons can be a little aggressive so he prefers to watch from the sidelines. Now he looks like one of the old pervs at the parque watching the kids.

This man makes the best icees in town! He begins by shaving the ice, then layers it with the milk powder and then tops it with the sweetened condensed milk and sarsa flavoring. They are so good, kind of like a root beer float.

Here you can see the finished product. Looks pretty darn good ha? Well maybe not to all of you that are dealing with snow right now.

Here is the true face of appreciation for a icee well made!

And here is one tired out baby! This dude is just plain tuckered out.

After the park met up with the guys who had been having their pool tournament. They were all ready to head to the Lebanese guy for some Swarma sandwiches. Nothing better than this guys swarma sandwiches, except maybe his falafel sandwiches. A great day, now we will make some brownies and hunker down to watch the Biggest Loser :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Sixteen and Puppy Dogs


This is a sad commentary on our school room! They look pretty darn bored ha? Can you imagine how bored the girlies are? Actually the dogs love hanging out in the school room every day. It is the warmest best place to be in the house. Actually it is a built in room at the front of the house, but it has a clear roof and sides so the sun can come in but no rain or wind. It is a family favorite.

Yesterday was Sweet Sixteen for our lovely teen. She had a great day and even better today she got to get the chip for her phone and is on again. The one problem is when you live in a concrete house reception is not good, no matter if you have the latest chip or not. The problem with having only one provider, think MaBell, is that there is no competition. We are supposed to be getting two more companies in the next couple of months, will be interesting to see if they are any better than ICE.