Splish, Splash

(Post 97 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

It has been one hell of a week. Thank goodness I had work to keep me busy.

I’ve been in a bit of a haze since Bast went in hospital, but one of the things I knew I had to work on was The Pool Project. We had a false start to summer, and then it was coming with a vengeance. I knew from “just looking” at pools in past years that once you hit May, good luck getting one — suppliers can’t keep up with the demand. ‘

I will eventually do a whole yard makeover with landscaping and a proper pool, so my goal for this summer (and at least the next) was to be able to cool off at low cost using an above-ground pool. I found above-ground pools big enough to swim laps in (just), but the more I took measurements, the more I was put off by them for the following reasons:

  1. Limited installation locations. I have a pretty big property, but the exterior parts are all pretty small. I was very likely going to have to sacrifice the entire third and some of the second carport.
  2. Surface. You can’t just install the pool over concrete. Depending on the model, the manufacturers recommend, a heavy tarp, carpet lining, foam mats, or even sand.
  3. Shade. The areas where a large pool would fit do not have shade. Adding it would be an additional expense.
  4. Privacy and noise. Right against the street by a mechanic is not my idea of relaxing.

This temporary project was creeping up to the 20,000 to 25,000 peso price range.

I started to become okay with the thought of a pool just to cool off, not to do exercise in. I could work up a sweat on my elliptical or treadmill and then go splash around! The problem was the smaller pools that would have fit in better locations and still be big enough for an adult weren’t meant for long-term use, more to put up for a weekend and then put away.

And then, I saw an ad on one of my social media feeds. Soriana was announcing a smaller version of the large pool I’d been eyeing! At 2×3 metres and 85cm tall, it would be little more than a glorified chlorinated bathtub, but it would fit perfectly on my rear patio, the ideal location as it has shade, is private, and I can keep Bonita out of it. The smaller footprint also promised less upkeep and cost to maintain.

I ordered the pool on March 27th and waited… and waited… and waited. I saw an ad for it pop up again and there were lots of angry customers in the comments looking for their pools, which Soriana said they were working hard to get out to all customers as, no surprise to me, there had been a lot of demand for it. Temps had cooled again, so I was fine to wait.

April 7th, four days after Bast died and two days before her birthday, the phone rang. It was Redpack, a courier company, asking for directions. I wasn’t expecting anything because the pool was still marked as being at the warehouse. The driver said the package was not from Soriana. So I thought that Amazon was surprising me hella early. Nope, it was my pool!

I went through the instruction manual to see what it recommended to put underneath since my rear patio has a faux flagstone finish and isn’t smooth. All the manual said was to not use sand. I found an article online strongly promoting foam mats (like the interlocking kind you see on gym floors), so I ordered a bunch of those from Amazon. They were not cheap!

I also got a list of supplies I needed to get started, so I went to Facebook Marketplace to find a seller who had everything at a good price. Supplies showed up the next morning.

I have spent just under 8,000 pesos for this project (about 400USD). I’m not hurting for money right now, but, again, this is a temporary solution. I think I’m getting a lot for money and leaving a nice chunk for my office makeover!

The mats showed up this morning, Saturday, three days after the pool, and I spent about two hours putting the pool together. I’d scheduled the time, so I was able to relax and enjoy the process. I’m super happy I didn’t hire anyone to put it together for me as it was easy enough on my own (well, the physical assembly, once I figured it out!) and I really needed a physical project in the sun putting together a puzzle. It was really good for morale.

Here’s my vlog of the process!

(I meant the breaststroke in this last video!)

DAY MODE

NIGHT MODE

Even with it just half-full tonight, I didn’t want to get out. It was absolutely wonderful to be in that cool water and moving without effort. Can you imagine when it is full?! This is really what I have been missing in this house. It’s going to be a learning curve to take care of it, but I was able to successfully take care of the big pool at the house at the beach the summer of 2017. I never had to call in reinforcements. So I think I will be OK with this one as long as I get into the routine of checking it every day and running the filter, etc. I will also have to hunt down the vacuum cleaner that goes with a model the small!

It is a bit of a shame that I’ve had three summers without a pool when it was really not expensive to get set up, but I think it’s those three summers that are going to make me appreciate this one all the more!

A Time To Mourn

(Post 96 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

The pandemic gave me everything and then took its pound of flesh. Bast, my best friend of nearly 25 years, died today of coronavirus. She would have been 54 on April 9th.

Post edited to change the Fundrazr link. The last Fundrazr sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not be sponsoring any more. Thank you so much to everyone for your help.

The Want For Speed

(Post 95 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr! My best friend Bast is currently in hospital fighting for her life. Her children are the only ones currently standing as their parents are all down with COVID. They are on leave from their jobs. There’s no income. I don’t even know if Medicaid will cover Bast’s treatment. 😱)

I continue to remain amazed by how good my internet service is here in Mérida. I know I probably need extensive therapy from all my issues I have from my 20-year war against Canadian telcos and that I need to stop reminding folks of what thieving government-enabled monsters they are, but there you have it.

I had a bit of a strange occurrence a few weeks ago: my TV literally exploded — part of the back blew out of it and there was smoke!  It was a three years less a week from the time I bought it and happened on the day that LG was starting their annual sale on their last-year models. Coincidence? I most certainly think not, especially when I contacted them to see if my personal info was at risk if I sold it for parts and they said, “Oh, no, we have the TVs built so that when this happens” — THEY PLAN FOR YOUR TV EXPLODING — “it deletes your personal info.” (I managed to sell the busted TV for $600 to a guy who had the same model whose kid had thrown something at the TV and broken the screen. He was hoping that my screen would still be good and he could Frankenstein’s monster himself a usable TV out of the two…)

Like last time, TV shopping was overwhelming, but I ended up ordering myself a 43″ Samsung entry-level UHD TV after a week of watching stuff on my iPad Mini and noticing that I wasn’t being as diligent as I normally am about getting on the exercise equipment (I’ve clearly programmed myself that TV time=exercise time!). Other brands were having sales on their last year’s model and after what turned out to not be enough research, I found a really good deal on a the series 6 Samsung at Liverpool of all places. Liverpool always jacks up their prices much higher than anyone else, so it’s hard to know what a deal is with them, but with the median full price on this TV being $13,000 and no one else having it for less than $9,000, Liverpool’s $8,400 was a solid deal. Delivery service was middling — took ages and they kept on changing the date — but the guy who delivered it physically set it up for me (got legs on it, plugged it in, made sure I knew what adapter I need if I want to use my Wii with it, etc.).

The new TV and I got off to a rocky start — it was hard to set up and didn’t work well with my Apple TV. I was enjoying the larger size (up from 32″) and the better sound quality, but the picture was muddy and dim. It took a lot of playing with settings and an excruciatingly long chat session with a Samsung rep to figure it out. One of the things that came out of the troubleshooting was that a 4K TV and 4K Apple TV really need an ethernet, not wifi, connection.

So that was the kick in the pants I needed to see if I could increase my internet speed. I got on a Messenger chat with Izzi yesterday that started off quite amusingly. You start the chat with a bot, who takes you through a menu. None of the menu options were for “I’m a client and I want to know what my upgrade options are.” So I wrote “Can’t I speak to someone?!

Next thing I knew, I got a reply from a real person!

From there, the transaction went really smoothly. I currently pay $840 a month for 50Mbps (with a boost to just over 60 for having automatic debit), a bunch of channels, and my landline that can call over 90 countries.

The rep suggested I go for their current maxed out plan of 100Mbps (actually 125), a ton of extra premium channels, and my landline… for only $40 more a month (2USD/2.50CAD). They would waive the technician fee and he would run cable and install a router/switch device all at no extra cost. Wow, just wow. And I should add that I’ve only had a total of maybe three or four hours of outage at the most during the 3.5 years I’ve been with Izzi!

The tech was scheduled between 9 and noon today. Izzi confirmed multiple times this morning that my tech was incoming. He arrived sometime after 9 and was here to almost 2PM! There was a problem with the existing wiring and he ended up changing it all out!

Finally, I was getting consistent speeds at my TV and my computer via ethernet and on my phone and iPad via wifi. (There’s just the wifi extender to configure to give me coverage upstairs.)

The improved upload speeds are going to help so much as well!

I have to say that I barely use my cable. One of the reasons is the crappy remote that made it very difficult to navigate between channels. The new cable box came with a proper remote.

Thank goodness for that because some of my new channels are ones I’m currently paying for through my Apple TV, including Paramount! I have to do a whole inventory of all my channels now since a lot of the premium ones, like WB, HGTV, History, and National Geographic are now available in English through Izzi! I was primarily using the cable for local news, the odd SyFy channel show (what a delightfully random channel that was to have!), and a cooking show, but now I think I’ll be using it more.

Most expats I know are still using VPNs and illegal IP TV devices to get content without even evaluating what’s available here. The only thing I can’t easily get here is Canadian content. I think sports might be another thing that folks can’t get everything they want here. Otherwise, I can’t think of much I’ve wanted to watch in the last four years or that I’ve heard folks talk about that I haven’t been able to easily access here legally. I even get most of the British shows I enjoy. Heck, it’s even happened that I was able to access movies here that are being showed in cinemas. I couldn’t imagine getting through this lockdown without all this content waiting for me at the end of a very long workday.

La vie en rose

(Post 94 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr! My best friend Bast is currently in hospital fighting for her life. Her children are the only ones currently standing as their parents are all down with COVID. They are on leave from their jobs. There’s no income. I don’t even know if Medicaid will cover Bast’s treatment. 😱)

Well, the most pressing maintenance item that I kept talking about that no one believed was ever going to happen happened!

BEFORE

AFTER

I didn’t realise until this project just how badly iPhone cameras pick up colours. The darker pink is NOT a bright, in-your-face, garish, fluorescent pink outside of really bright sunlight. It is a deep rose colour, very pretty and sophisticated. The paler pink is just about on the coral scale, with a hint of orange. The brown offsets both colours beautifully. I am delighted with my choices and how good the house looks in real life. It really feels like home, not a rental, now, and my yard no longer looks like something you’d find at a jail! Of course, now the cement flooring looks awful, so cleaning that up is going to be a priority. As will be bringing in more greenery to offset some of that pink!

I’ve just spent a lot on the house in a short amount of time (the painting alone was equal to a mortgage payment). April is going to have big payments to INM and my lawyers. So that’s it for significant projects until sometime in May. Pool is up next and then I’m starting on my office!

Kitchen Refresh

(Post 93 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr! The family is struggling right now with being sick with coronavirus and I’m trying not to freak out.)

There has been so much going on with the house in the last few weeks! I finally finished my kitchen refresh, so I thought I’d give a tour.

There is a spoiler (or two) in this video for my next post!