I’m back in Volta Redonda. It’s Monday. Monica’s at work and I have some time to write.
Last night, we sorted through the mountain of paperwork that Monica will need for her visa appointment at the Consulate in Rio next month. She still has to get some vaccinations, get her medical exam (scheduled for the day before) and apply for a certificate from the police saying that she’s not a criminal – we’re going to do that this afternoon. If everything goes well, she will have her decision that day and her visa in a week or so. So much to do….
Thursday night into Friday was travel time. Although I was flying American Airlines at the height of their recent problems with canceled flights, mine were not affected. I have never seen PHL so uncrowded, however. I was able to walk right to the x-ray scanner without any line at all. The flight to Miami was uneventful and the flight to Rio was as well. I think that I slept all of the way to Rio. It was a long day for me and I was pretty tired.
Saturday Night, we had an engagement party at our favorite restaurant in Volta Redonda, Aldeia de Pizza. The restaurant is more than just a pizzaria – they have great food and drinks, and they take very good care of their customers. Although a draft beer will arrive in a minute or so, their mixed drinks can take some time. This is obviously because of the care that the bar puts into them. They have awesome drinks.
Anyway, I officially asked Monica’s parents for her hand, and I gave her the awesome ring – of course I had to do this in Portuguese, and due to the hectic few weeks that I’ve just been through, I really didn’t do any rehearsing. I was able to do a passable job. I do believe that I need to speak a bit more Portuguese. I am better at it than I think that I am.
Murphy is alive and well…..
My Explorer needed some transmission work, so I took it to a reputable shop for repairs and shelled out $1600 for the work. I had no problems driving the Explorer all week, going 15 miles to work and 15 miles home. On Thursday, I took Bonnie to my brother Jeff’s house before work (30 miles), and as I was pulling into his driveway, the Explorer’s transmission started slipping big-time. I was able to drive it to work – still slipping a bit. It seemed okay on the drive home that afternoon. The transmission smelled really hot but when I checked the fluid level, it was okay. The fluid had a burnt smell (a bad thing). I called the shop on Friday (from Brasil) and explained that I had a problem and that I would bring it back in a few weeks when I returned. The shop replaced my transmission with a rebuilt one from another shop although we had agreed that they would rebuild mine. In any event, it’s going back to the shop next week. My only real problem with that is that the shop is about 4.5 miles from home – a good one hour walk.
I am having second thoughts regarding Ameriprise and letting them handle my retirement funds. I have done some research on the web and talked to some of my friends that are clients. Although they advertise that they are a fee-based service (I paid $650 for one year), they also charge 1.5 – 2% per year. Okay, so if I give them 200,000 to invest, they are going to charge me $4000/year in addition to the $650 yearly fee. These fees apply whether I make any money or not. Also, the representative will undoubtedly make sales commissions on some of the investments that they sell me. This is looking more and more like a really bad deal – I don’t think that I am ready to pay someone $388 per month for investment advice. I am certainly going to have to consolidate some things and get my accounts set up a little better. I can do that myself.
No rest for the weary….
I received a message this week that there has been a problem at my St. Croix condo. A renter asked to be relocated due to the condition of the unit. Huh? I was there in February, and the place looked fine to me. There were a few little things that we repaired while we were there – nothing big. Actually, there was one problem – some idiot scraped some luggage along the wall just in front of the front door, leaving an ugly foot-long black mark. It was really noticeable, and there wasn’t much that I could do about cleaning it off – the wall paint is cheap and not really washable. As it turns out, the real problem was that some really inconsiderate renters got suntan oil all over the cushions in the living room – Antilles has already taken care of this (steam-cleaned at my expense). My rental agent says that she still thinks that the unit needs a paint job – easy for her to say…. There are only two painting contractors listed in the St Croix yellow pages – a bad sign. I talked with some folks, and the only way that I’m going to get a quality job is to do it myself. Everybody knows “some guy that does painting”, but I’m not ready to hire someone like that. Soooooo…. I’m flying down on the first weekend in May on Friday am and leaving on Sunday afternoon. Airfare is a little less than $600, and I’ll have to buy the materials, too.
Can I paint an 1100 sq. foot condo in a weekend by myself? Stay tuned…..