Thursday, May 3, 2012

Letting the cat out of the bag.

About 2 months ago Barb and I started talking about retirement. When we moved here a year and a half ago we thought we were done. In that time Barb has continued to teach online at Missouri State University and I have continued to build in LaPaz. Even though we have both scaled back what we do, we have agreed, we are not done yet.

As Barb approaches the last couple of weeks of her online class, she admits she doesn't know how she will fill in the time. As for me, I have been planning to build a sawmill and drying and milling operation in LaPaz for my next building project. When we decided to come to Ecuador our second choice was the Asheville, North Carolina area. At that time we couldn't see past the real estate downturn so to protect our investments we came here to sit out the recession. Even though we have saved money here it has become increasingly difficult to predict how things will play out in a socialized nation facing an inflationary trend in an economy based on the devalued dollar. The bottom line to all this talk is that we are convinced that after this year's spring bump in real estate that next spring the housing market will begin a slow 10 year recovery in the U.S.. I have never seen so many building permits pulled and contractors ready to pull the trigger waiting for some good economic news. Well, they didn't get what they were looking for but they will next year.

We've decided to send Barb to the U.S. in June to talk to some folks, we'll see what she comes back with.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


In response to comments from last week :

Deguello - thanks for your comments but there is a difference between reading and comprehending what you read.

Bob - you are smarter than you take credit for.

Jim - Thanks for the compliment, you really do know, don't you?

Steve - I am familiar with the woman in Singapore who uses the pseudonym " Simon Black " using regurgitated scare tactics to sell nonexistant services.

This week, the road between Cuenca and LaPaz was the worst I have ever seen it. Road repair delays, a land slide on the south side of Cumbe and a deceptive mud slide north of Nabon. Looks like the rainy season has taken its toll on the Pan American South Highway.

I got the window and the door in on half of the addition. Barb will be moving to LaPaz in 3 weeks so I better have a place for her to sleep. I will lose the square door when the second part of the addition is done in a few months.

The shower floor has been poured and the pedestal for the toilet is in.

The water pump and holding tank are installed.

All that hardware and piping for a hot little water heater to give me my half hour hot showers. The gas regulator is sitting on top of the heater box in the picture but will go outside to the gas tanks, I just had to test it with everything within sight and smell. It all works great.

Water pump, holding tank and pressure regulator about $100.
Water heater, exhaust pipe, gas regulator another $100.
Glass for the window $6.

Behind schedule but under budget.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Last Call.

I would like to take this opportunity to address the questions being asked about my last post, to hopefully put the issues to rest, so I can move on to progress reports on my project here in Ecuador and a new project coming up in November this year.

I am not the guy, who if you fill out the form on the inside flap of a match book, will let you in on the secrets of success. Anyone who professes to know how to beat inflation or has the secrets of success is an out and out liar. If they knew they wouldn't tell anyone.  I own the copy rights to several of those kinds of books and they are worth exactly nothing. I own them so I can use the contents in unintended ways and not get sued - I have done a certain amount of motivational speaking in my day. I know what I am going to do but for me to suggest what you should do has a 80% chance of sending you straight into bankruptcy. I didn't help you make what you have so why would you listen to me or  anyone about how to invest it, your smart enough to figure it out. This is not about doom and gloom ( although I did say that in a previous post ) if you do nothing you won't go broke, you'll just have less than you do now.

The numbers and facts I cite in what I write are absolutely accurate, the forcast I derive from those numbers and facts could be wrong by a little or a lot but I risk everything I own on what I perceive to be the way things will unfold. I am better off than most but not as well off as some. I am the most hard headed person I know - just ask my wife - and I refuse to let things I have no control of control me. A gambler with high internal locus of control is the diagnosis - I asked my wife.

Now on to the H.I.R.E. act. Back a few years ago ( March 18th, 2010 ) the H.I.R.E. act was passed which gives employers some kick backs on hiring certain groups of people but tucked into the act was a piece of pork called F.A.T.C.A.. Foreign account tax compliance act. This was a big deal for us when we decided to move here back in 2010. We were planning to be here for several years and the enactment date for F.A.T.C.A. is June 2013. None of the U.S. banks could tell us anything about it and in Ecuador no one knows anything about it. From 2010 to today the amount of information is the same, some opinions but no facts about how any of this is going to work. Here is what the law says : Any foreign bank that has U.S. account holders is required to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and disclose their balances, receipts and withdrawals or be subject to a 30% withholding
tax on U.S. financial assets held by the foreign banks. All U.S. citizens with a foreign bank account and assets in that foreign country have to report the value of the assets if it's over $50,000.00 or be subject to a 30% penalty on their foreign or U.S. account balance. In addition, any transfers of money to the foreign country from U.S. sources will have a 30% withholding.

Here is how I see it. Ecuador has to agree to do this and I don't think they will, a bunch of European banks have already refused. This will just give Ecuador a reason to sever the remaining few ties it has to the U.S. since the U.S. will be threatening Ecuador with a 30% withholding on any U.S. assets they hold. There are about 6 million Americans living in foreign countries, so there will be a stink about this but in the mean time the I.R.S. will start withholding 30% of any money leaving the U.S. from individual accounts - Social Security, IRA's, 401K's, retirement accounts, union pensions, checking accounts and savings accounts. Electronic transmissions, direct deposits and ATM transfers. I have been trying to keep an eye on this situation for the last 2 years, hoping some kind of agreement can be reached between Ecuador and the U.S. but so far neither side wants to talk about it. The enactment of this law won't take effect until June, 2013 so there is hope that something can be done about it. I personally don't see how the U.S. thinks they can get away with telling other countries what to do. Maybe that is the intent, to give the IRS more power to seize your assets with assumption, heck they are making you buy health insurance you don't want and will never use.

What this means to us living in Ecuador is that we are supposed to claim our assets in Ecuador because they are over $50,000 on our U.S. tax return. There is a special form for this and they will assess a new tax. Since Ecuador won't comply the government in the U.S. will withhold 30% of our transfers to Ecuador which is about $520 a month into a holding account until our tax liability can be determined but ofcourse it will be more to make up for the withholding. There is nothing ambiguous about the 30% withholding figure, that is the tax we will have to pay. So it will cost us an extra $600 a month to live in Ecuador just from transfers, who knows how they will manipulate foreign assets.

It ain't looking good. Even if it never happens the harm will have been done and the economic impact on Americans living in Ecuador will make it a less inviting place to live. Isn't that how life works, just about the time you figure you got a good thing going someone does something stupid and messes it all up.

Guy's this is the end of the series, there are lots of folks who know a lot more than I do. I have to make decisions on what I do to stay ahead of the curve just like you do. This stuff is just how I see things, right or wrong. In reality it's just one opinion in a world full of opinions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Here we go again - for the last time on economics.

Thanks to Steve for his comment - I think you may be fooled, I'm not that smart.

Nancy, thank you for defending me but you give me way too much credit.

Scott and Deguello - thank you for your comments, I'll try to address the issues in this post.

Last week I wrote a blog on the economy of the U.S. and Ecuador without much detail, kind of a heads up type thing. An opportunity has arisen in the western part of North Carolina in the last 30 days and has forced me to run the numbers through my forecasting model. Sounds real educated but the truth of the matter is my forecasting model is putting things in its simplest terms so I can understand them and using some fundimental formulas to gauge where the economy is going - mostly common sense. I'll admit that I have been a little slack in tracking the economy for the last year and a half because I am not confronted by the rising food prices and gas prices and high utility bills in the U.S. every day but I am aware of the devaluation of the dollar and feel it here in Ecuador.

Something you need to understand is that I don't talk (write) to hear my head rattle. I stake my future on my forecasts, I don't regurgitate what other people think and because no one but me pays my way, I could care less about opinions. I've been wrong before and had to pay the price, I just can't remember when.

By the comments that were made on that blog you folks have restored my faith in humanity, I was convinced that most people have their head buried so deep you can't see the other end. So here we go, the world according to some old fart who probably doesn't know his butt from a hole in the ground.

Ecuador has a fixed exchange rate to the U.S.. This means as the dollar is devalued they follow the devaluation as a rate of inflation. They can not use monetary policy to stabilize their economy because the dollar is not in their control. The inflation rate in Ecuador is running at 10% because of the dollar and price inflation at about a 50/50 split. The only thing they can do is stop using the dollar as their currency. I don't know how the exchange rate will pan out but in combination with the H.I.R.E. acts 30% witholding from money leaving the U.S. it might not be so good.

There are 2 types of inflation, price inflation ( you know, supply and demand ) and there is monetary inflation ( the killer ). When you go buy gas for your car and the price has gone up since the last time you bought gas, that's price inflation. Lots of demand on the world market and supply is being slowed by O.P.E.C. to raise the price to account for the devalued dollar and euro. There is a bunch of other stuff in there too but the fact is supply is being manipulated in this instance and that causes the price of oil to go up, there isn't a darn thing any one can do about that in the short run. Monetary inflation is caused by ecessive growth of the money supply, you know the funny money the Federal Reserve prints so the politicians can institute a policy of quantitative easing because the Central Bank ( Federal Reserve ) has lowered the intrest rates and the rediscount rates so low that they are in a liquidity trap. The idea behind quantitative easing is to increase the money supply by buying bank assets so banks will lend more money, business will increase production, hire more people, who will pay more taxes, buy more products, increase business revenue..................... The problem is the banks are holding the money so the only thing quantitative easing has done is to increase the money supply by upwards of 5% while the rate of growth of the economy (GDP) is at best 3%. This is the definition of hyper inflation, when money supply grows faster than economic growth. There is no real way to track the money supply because like the CPI the government doesn't track the money supply anymore - I wonder why ?   The end result is a endless cycle of ever decreasing value in the money supply.

So where do we go from here ?  I don't think it can be fixed, not for a long time. If you stop quantitative easing that constricts the money supply, so how do you pay for this new health care thing, how are you ever going to get people to drive these new coal fired cars ? The Federal Reserve has committed to a policy not to raise intrest rates until it reassesses in 2014, so that ain't going to happen. What good are low intrest rates when the bank doesn't lend money or business is so unsure of the future they don't want to borrow money? The government is reporting low inflation numbers - remember these numbers are the new CORE inflation rates, it  doesn't include the costs for energy or food. Gas alone will account for a 3.3% inflation rate if your consumption is only 10% of your budget. What about food ? How about some of the other costs stripped out of the CPI, add that to what the CORE inflation rate is and you are approaching 10%. My own personal inflation rate living in Ecuador would be 18% if I didn't make 30% following the market here. Don't ask, I'm not telling.

I've done my best to keep my friends and family from being blind sided by misinformation. What you do is up to you, just remember this - if you don't keep up with the rate of inflation,whatever that rate is, is the exact amount you will lose in your standard of living. A 3% raise in a 10% economy is a loss of 7% in your standard of life, the first year, it's 17% the second year.................................I hear Alpo makes a pretty good stew.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Economic forecasting.

Thanks to Sarah for your kind words - I wish I were all that you think I am. There really is nothing to building but a strong back and a weak mind are helpful. I think you may like my next project. Starting next spring I will be building a spec house in the Ashville, NC area.

To Mike - there is no recovery time on the water filter, the flow rate is high enough that water will run in perpetuity. I hope you caught your limit.

I have been pontificating lately about the economic outlook for Ecuador and the U.S.. We have a vested intrest in both countries and it seems they both share the same fate because they both use the same currency. There is no doubt the economy in the U.S. is the worst it has ever been in my lifetime and that Ecuador is being dragged into the frey by the devaluation of the dollar. The fact is that following an economic downturn there is a certain amount of inflation, which has a direct relationship to the length and depth of the economic downturn. Since the recession in the U.S. has lasted so long and has affected everything the rate of inflation will reach the "hyper" range as the market and politics self correct in the next year or two. Ecuador has already started trading in the sucre and out of economic necessity will have to move away from the dollar if they don't want to share the same fate as the U.S.. They will also need to distance themselves from trading with the U.S. and depend more on the Bolivarian Alliance for the economic needs of the country. The U.S. is just heading for more doom and gloom and it will take years to harness run away inflation and develope an energy independence policy and re-invent the manufacturing sector that is necessary for economic stability.

I originally started to write this blog to keep friends and family entertained by my shenanigans and the stuff I do to keep myself busy but I have found that a lot more folks read this blog than family. I can tell you folks this without reservation, I may seem to be an old fool but I can forcast the economy a lot better than most. That's why we are in Ecuador, to buy time until the future becomes clear and it don't look good. If you don't do something that follows the economy your going to take a hit in your standard of life, especially if you are on a fixed income - South America, Europe, Asia or the U.S. makes no difference. If your income stream is in dollars you need to do something to keep up with the rate of inflation.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Slow sand water filter.

Thanks to Scott for the comment last week. I think it would be a great idea to take progress pictures from the same location. I think from the front might be better. I can assure you it won't be a good as your kitchen remodel, you did a great job on that one.

Camille - I don't know what to say. Your one of those people with so much wit that no matter what I say you will trump me. I think I will keep my mouth shut and just thank you for reading my blog.

Mike - This post is for you.

Even though the water from the top of the mountain seems clean and I have used it for cooking, cleaning and drinking, I don't want to take any chances.
I started with a 55 gallon plastic drum, put in an inlet fitting and an overflow fitting.

I made an outlet pipe and drilled a bunch of 1/16th holes in the sides and bottom of the pipes. I installed it 3 inches from the bottom of the barrel and put some gravel in to support the pipes.
Next I put about a foot of gravel on top of the pipes.
Then a layer of course sand from reverse screening regular sand.
Finally 4 cubic feet of fine sand.
Topped with a diffuser made from the top of the barrel with a bunch of hole drilled in it.

This rig will form a bio matt on top of the sand in a couple of days that will filter out all biologicals and 97% of everything else. It won't filter out nitrates or heavy metals like mercury.
I added an extra barrel down hill from the filter as a holding tank so if something changes in the water supply I can chlorinate the water and it will have some contact time with the water before it is used in the house. In addition to that it will allow for constant flow for high demand water use like my half hour showers. The filter will need to be backwashed from time to time to keep it from getting clogged up but that is a lot easier than changing a cartridge filter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

4 weeks and a little bit.

Digger and I stayed in La Paz longer than normal this past week but we got some work done despite the rain.
We got the rafters in and the stringers on.
The rain water seems to flow in the right direction.

There is still the gable ends to close in but at least I won't be getting wet every day. The transition to the existing roof went well, it was a struggle using this wacky lumber but I have a solution for that in the future.

Slow sand water filter next week.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still 6 weeks.

I wanted to post on the blog before I left town this week, I have a new thumb drive but I'm not sure it will work in La Paz.

In response to comments from the last blog ;
        Thanks to Bob Barber for his patronage. I am sure there is all kinds of information on the fundamentals of construction. You have the most important element already - a willingness to build. If you put your time and money into one of the most basic needs in life, you will never lose your investment. If you have specific questions e-mail me at, I'll do my best to answer them.
        To Mike Wallace, thanks for the comment and stay in touch.

What I neglected to show you in the last post was a gap at the peak of the gable end - this is to allow for a ridge board to keep the roof line straight.
Now the ridge board is installed as well as the carrying beam to carry the roof load.

Painting the roof tin is a real pain, they sell a rust resistant enamel here for $10 a gallon but the stuff is so thick it has to be thinned about 1 to 4 and the thinner is twice the price of the paint. I am tempted to buy a spray rig but the setup and cleanup time would take longer than painting by hand. I'll get over it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

6 weeks.

Another fine week with almost perfect weather in La Paz. The produce distributors have finally caught up with demand in La Paz that had left the town without a lot of the items they normally stock since the holidays.

I got our roofing materials this week at the local hardware store.
I had to let the boards air for a few days, lucky for me I had enough dried lumber stockpiled to get started on the roof framing.

I think it is worth mentioning that most of the lumber here is 1"X8"X9 foot eucalyptus, cut with a chainsaw into 3 board cants still attached on one end and packed with mud on the other end. These boards have to be cut or split apart and stacked to dry before you can use them. There is no dimensional lumber here, so if you want 2 X 6s you need to strip out two 1 X 6s and sister them together. The locals use poles to construct roofing members and there is no such thing as wood framing with cut lumber.

The roof tin looks good but it is really thin and ofcourse I'll have to change the color to :


 The first thing was to install a ledger board with a 2 inch cleat. This way I can tie into the existing building without increasing the wall load and still match the pitch of the roof for a good smooth transition.

Then the sill plates go on top of the block walls and get bolted down with the anchors embedded in cement.
On top of the sill plates the framing for the gable end goes in. This framing is a little different  from the field trusses because it's on the end of the building and will have to be closed in, in this case with clapboards.

The short list in the next couple of weeks :
      Finish the roof on this section of the addition.
      Build and install a slow sand water filter.
      Build and install arched window and door.
      Mix and pour the cement for the bedroom floor.
      Install hot water heater and related plumbing.
      Electrical hookup.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

7 weeks.

You know how sometimes the dumbest things get caught up in your head and you can't get rid of them ? This " no-reply " comment thing just will not go away. I really don't like not being able to reply to someone who has taken the time to write a comment or at least say thank you. I tried the reply in the comment section of the blog but who goes back to an old post to see if they get a reply ? I try to post a new issue every week so I think I will try something else. If you leave a comment on the blog this week I will post a reply in the next weeks blog. Like this :

        Thank you to Karen Kimbler for straightening me out on the fruit I wrote about last week, it is indeed a papaya.

        Thanks to Mike Wallace and his lovely wife Stephanie who continue to encourage me - I don't know why. They are a class act.

As the title to the this weeks issue says, I have 7 weeks to get Barb a place to sleep or I get moved into the dog house permanently.We had 5 straight days of good weather this week so progress was better than normal. I have run out of excuses for not taking pictures so here is one from when we first landed in Quito, Ecuador 15 months ago.

This is the second week I have had all the parts together for the water filtration system, maybe I'll get around to it next week. I've started putting in the sill plates for the trusses and built a ledger board for the existing brick wall to accept the rafter tails on the new roof. The gable end trusses should go up next week.

I was a little more reluctant to come back to Cuenca this week than usual but I was reminded that I need to show up once in awhile to keep my place at the dinner table.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Changing with the times.

Since the Blogger program changed - I figured it was a good time to change my blog to reflect an upcoming e-book This Old Man's House. Upcoming, meaning within the next year. It's in the works but it's like everything else, I get side tracked a lot. My wife has convinced me that she will help, because I am too dense and could never write a book much less a series of books by myself. It will be a "how-to" series with personal stories, opinions and political reference, in other words a real life series.
Just checking to see if the changes I made work.

I came across some different kind of fruit a couple Sundays ago in La Paz.  The lady at the market told me I could eat it raw. I think she was a little surprised when I cut it up in front of her but I don't really understand what they say and I didn't want another babaco experience.

It has the same flesh as a cantelope but a little bit of a peachy flavor, Digger really likes it, even more than watermelon. Barb says it's like a big mango.

I've about run out of excuses for my laziness - there is only so many rain days before you figure a way around it. I'll have to come up with some different excuses soon or maybe I could actually do something - nah.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

9 weeks.

Digger and I have gotten to the sill plate level around the bedroom walls. I have not been able to find any sill plate anchors - a bolt embedded in cement to fasten a wooden sill.
So we decided to make some. I just welded some rebar to 1/2" bolts, a little overkill, a fender washer at the top of the bolt would work just fine.

I put in some guide pins at the top of the columns to keep the wooden pad in place when the carrying beam is being installed. You'll see the reason for these when the beam goes in.

I am running out of blocks again, down to my last 50. At this point in the project I have used 600 blocks, 20 bags of cement, 4 yards of sand , 3 yards of gravel and 520 feet of rebar. A total of about  $950.00 worth of materials. I forgot the bricks but I can't really count them because they are used bricks and were already counted on another project.

Rant of the Week
I can't figure out where politicians went to school, it sure wasn't in the public school system. At one point in my life I taught math in the public school system, so I know that when you leave the school system you can at least add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers. I saw where the President of the U.S. was talking about inflation at a rate of 4% to 5 % annually. Inflation is calculated using the Consumer Price Index which has been manipulated to only include non inflationary items. My problem lies in just tracking gas prices - which used to be in the CPI - that have doubled in the last 3 years. That sure looks like 33% inflation just in gas. Other non durable goods haven't had that steep an increase in cost but by my way of thinking inflation in the U.S. is well into double digits. How do these guys get away with this kind of misrepresentation ? I guess they figure the public is stupid - they could have a point.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 weeks.

Well we have started the countdown to getting Barb moved to La Paz. 10 weeks with a 30 day buffer. This schedule will allow Barb to finish the semester at Missouri State University and give her time to remember what she forgot to make a smooth transition. Ofcourse you know it won't be a smooth transition, there will be multipal return trips to Cuenca - good thing the bus runs from Loja to Cuenca every day.

I don't have any pictures this week. I left La Paz in a hurry the other day - big rain coming in and I didn't want to miss Barb's birthday. The excessive rain this year has really taken it's toll on the building progress, being old and lazy doesn't help either.

Since getting my new thermometer I have been able to better predict the weather - when the humidity shoots up to 85% I know it is not just another cloudy day. The temperature runs from 46 at night to 64 degrees during the day this time of year with the humidity at 40% on clear days, 60 to 70% on cloudy days and rain at 85%. When the weather comes in from the northeast it is usually cloudy, from the southwest it is usually clear. The sun never shines all day but it is rarely cloudy all day either. It rains almost every day from a few minutes to several hours and fog rolls into the lower valleys for an hour or so. From my perspective the weather in La Paz is pretty perfect, no two days are ever the same but the extremes are never uncomfortable.

No rant this week - pictures next week.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A little more progress

The rain in La Paz has let up a little. It still rains every day just not as much. Digger and I are getting close to putting in the carrying beam for the roof on half of the addition.

We put in the arch for the bedroom door and finished up Barb's glass block window this past week. There is no key in the door arch because it is a non-bearing wall. It really doesn't make any difference the bricks are big enough (3X5X10) to carry a pretty substantial load with out a key, I just need an excuse to do some things a little differently.

Barb got me a thermometer for my birthday so I will be able to report on weather conditions in La Paz pretty soon. I keep telling her it is cooler in La Paz - I guess she wants to know exactly how much cooler.

Digger likes her watermelon.  She bites off the rind to get to the red stuff. I don't think there is anything she won't eat.

I keep telling you folks that I am not too bright; someday you will realize I am telling you the truth. I recently got a comment from some folks I really wanted to respond to with a personal note but I don't know how to respond to a "no-reply comment". I know there is nothing I can do about that, I just wanted to tell them how much I appreciated their blog "BobnRox" and how much they have done for so many children. What if they don't want people to know that I think the progress they have made on their paradise is amazing and that I really appreciate their helpful comment? Some of the other comments I get from people like Mike Wallace of "Mikes gone South" who is a building contractor, I can respond to personally so he can tell me I am full of crap without everyone who reads my blog knowing it - Mike is really a nice guy but he could do that if he wanted to with out embarrassing me. I just have a problem airing someone else's personal stuff and I am not smart enough to figure it out. I guess that qualifies as the rant of the week.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lofty thoughts.

Digger and I will be headed down the road for another week in La Paz, tomorrow. I guess I better say something about how things are going.

I was downtown in Cuenca today looking for Barbara's birthday present - good excuse to go to the California Kitchen for lunch. I get really tired of tuna fish and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I am in LaPaz and eggs get pretty old too. There are a bunch of resturants in LaPaz but I just don't like the food. I guess if I had to have a complaint about Ecuador it would be, that in general I don't like the food. For a guy who never really cared much about food, I struggle with the menu while I am away from my wife.

I made the new overlay for the arch form for the door arches which should be built in the next week or two and the roof trusses won't be far behind. I kinda fly by the seat of my pants most of the time but the roof should look something like the following plan.

There will be two different pitches and two different collar tie levels all resting on a carrying beam. The reason is that I want to match the pitch on the existing roof but keep the front eve at 8 feet. Seems like a good idea to me but then again hardly anything ever turns out the way I plan it.

I have almost gotten all the parts and pieces together for a gravity feed, slow sand filter system for the water supply. So that should go online in the not too distant future, although I will have to install a water pump to backwash the filter and provide enough pressure for the hot water heater.

Snide comment for the week.

I was going to make a political comment but it makes my vision blurry from the increase in my blood pressure and I can't see what I am trying to type. So I decided instead to comment on the person who has the greatest influence on my life.

A little while back Barb came up with the idea of position trading on the stock market. I gave my input, having done some of that in my lifetime and she went about setting up her brokerage account and trackng penny stocks. I walked by her desk the other day and noticed she is tracking blue chips - I think she is doing okay in the stock market - if only she could mix cement.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mary's in Wonderland

I've heard that Mary from South of Zero is in Cuenca this week. Everyone can meet her at the California Kitchen on Friday this week - everyone but me. There has been so much rain this year that the driveway in La Paz is totally washed out. I made arrangements a couple of weeks ago for a bull dozer to regrade the driveway and he's coming on guess what day. I'll never be able to get his equipment back out there if I stand him up. So to Mary from South of Zero - I hope you have a great time in Ecuador, I know you are in good hands.

Digger has been really busy this week.  As soon as I find out what tools and clothing items she has taken and where she has been hanging out, I'll let you know. She has a degenerative hip disorder, which is the main reason we adopted her, to give her a good quality of life for as long as she can stand it. She's 6 months old; I kinda expected her to be dragging her butt by now but so far it is just affecting her left hip and she is doing pretty good as a 3 legged dog.

The east wall of the bedroom is finally at sill plate level for the roof rafters. On the north end of the wall, where the loose brick is sitting on a notched block at the 5 foot level, is where the 4 foot arch will go as an entrance to the front porch. There will be a total of 4 arches in the front porch. I think that is too hard to visualize - I'll just show you when I get it done.

The value of real estate along the newly paved Panamerican South Highway has really gotten pretty expensive. I didn't pay to much attention to it until recently when 80 acres went up for sale to our south and I can see new construction about 1/2 mile to the north. When I went to pay my property taxes a couple weeks ago and had to redo a bunch of paperwork, I decided to calculate the increase from when I bought the property a year ago. 3000% - that is three thousand percent in official pay taxes on appraised value. When I bought it I knew I paid too much but Barb wanted it. Now it appears it's worth about twice what I paid for it, I guess I should pay more attention to what Barb has to say - I wonder how her stock picks are doing ?

Monday, January 16, 2012


There has been a lot of rain this year, not that I would know the difference, but the locals in La Paz are complaining about how cold and wet the weather is this year. Sounds like a good excuse for my lack of progress, truth is there is no fire under my butt, it will get done ........ never. That's the plan, to have enough to do to last the rest of my life. If I die tomorrow I will have succeeded, if I don't die for 3 more years then I may have a problem - guess I better drag my butt a little more.

Three months ago I had an issue with ladders, so I made a couple.
I can make the platform any length I want but I weigh 200 pounds and I am not real sure of the elasticity of eucalyptus. So far so good, we'll see how it does when the roof rafters go in.

Barb has finalized the plans for her garden space, the green house and a starter house for chickens. She cut me some slack on the chickens, originally she wanted the brooder house done before May but when she realized how big it was she decided she would rather have the Guest House done instead. I'd say I am pretty lucky to have a wife with some common sense.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Transfer Taxes

The begining of the new year is tax time in the U.S., it is in Ecuador as well. Last February I bought the land in La Paz but because I didn't have my Cedula then I had an attorney buy it for me, to save a whole bunch of problems. A week after the purchase I transferred ownership to myself - I thought. It is a lot easier to transfer property than to buy it without a Cedula. I sure paid enough to have it done and went to Nabon personally to have it recorded in the register of land records. Fast forward to last week, when I went to Nabon to pay my property taxes. The system works the same as paying a utility bill in a small town, women start a conversation with another woman in the front of the line to get ahead of you and men just butt right in front of you, if you let them. I deal with the men but I haven't figured out how to deal with the women. They get pushed around so much in Ecuador I figure I should let it go, so I do. At any rate I had to wait a long time to get to the pay window, just to be told to come back the next day when a specialist would be there to set up my account. Sounds like trouble to me.

I went back to Nabon the next day and went through the waiting in line thing - got on the wrong side of a popular local when he tried to cut in front of me in line. I eventually got to the pay window; they were waiting for me and hauled me into the office to get me straightened out. I got the account set up and the taxes paid but there was a question about who owned the land, so upstairs to the Register of Land Records I went. Another couple of hours, another $145.00 and come back tomorrow for the documents.

The transactions in Ecuador are pretty straight foward and make a lot of sense but the paperwork is just out of control and the number of people and departments a simple transaction goes through is just mind boggling. Ofcourse once the accounts are set up things move pretty fast. It takes less than 5 minutes to pay my electric bill ( I pay in Cuenca for my service in La Paz ), I pay in Cuenca to avoid the lines in La Paz; it is a central system so I can pay anywhere. Once the bank accounts are set up you get free executive banking services without having to wait in lines and the list goes on.

The bottom line is this - Hardheaded doesn't work in Ecuador ( the rules are the rules ) but stupid works really well.