Last night the air cooled quite a bit right before sundown, so I decided to shut off the A/C and open the windows. What a mistake! This morning dust from the street covered everything. Marisel, the maid, wiped down the surfaces, but now that the A/C is going again I think it’s blowing dust that collected in the unit itself. I wiped off the keyboard before beginning to write this but feel dust under my fingers and grit on my teeth.
Monkeys were in the trees right behind Portofino this morning. They’ve been howling on and off throughout the day. I went to the next street and uphill to where they were, but they were out of range for a decent photo.
My walk this morning at the beach was nice. I ended up talking to a family who were sitting on the seawall at the Hotel Diria. Sandbags are stacked atop it because of the high tides. I joked with the father about spending his vacation in Costa Rica behind sandbags. They came from Washington, D.C., but it turned out the mother’s Danish, from Vejle. (Yesterday, I met two travelers from Odense.) The couple had three darling girls, ages four, six, and eight. Hearing me say a few words in Swedish to the mom, the six-year-old boasted, “I can speak Danish.”
After having four more kilos of laundry done yesterday, I opened the bag and found a black sock with a Nike swoosh. So I took it back to the lavandería—it’s not very far over there—and said I appreciated the offer but couldn’t use it. The three ladies laughed. A Tico who was standing there talking to them said in English, “It’s for your birthday.” When first picking up the clean laundry, I commented on the heat inside the place with all the machines running. Does it affect their performance? A laundress told me they’re gone through once a month.
“By you ladies?”
Again, they shared a laugh.
“Un mecánico,” she said.
This woman is another who has suffered major facial injuries, and they didn’t get her put back together quite right. She looked like a Picasso drawing. The poor dear!
I received an email yesterday from a guy in Houston, the president of some sort of electric bicycle or scooter company. He wrote a long exposition about why the electric scooters of Current Motors won’t work. That was the very first story I did for AnnArbor.com. It was last July! I have no idea why someone would respond to anything that appeared so long ago. This fellow pointed out, for one thing, that the scooter kits that Current Motors modifies are made in China. I had another look at my story. It very clearly states that the scooter kits that Current Motors modifies are made in China. He concluded that he would’ve posted his letter as a comment on the AnnArbor.com site, but didn’t want to “pee in my petunias” because I hadn’t done my homework. By this he meant that, according to his evaluation, the Current scooters won’t work, and my report had failed to point out this finding.
My impulse was to write him back and say:
- Why the hell did you wait seven months to comment on an article that appeared in the daily press?
- The story very clearly states that the scooter kits that Current Motors modifies are made in China.
- It isn’t the local reporter’s place to insert his opinion about whether the product of a new local business is practical or feasible. When I lived in St. George, Utah, I wrote a story about Ronnie’s Buffalo Burgers. Ronnie was clearly a fool. His optimism about the public’s appetite for buffalo meat was so great that he simultaneously opened not one but two locations, each at different ends of St. George Boulevard. St. George wasn’t a very large town then; one buffalo-meat hamburger stand would’ve overwhelmed the market. But I confined my story to the fact that there were two locations. Neither did I express my doubts about the soundness of the enterprise or of Ronnie’s mind. Of course the twin buffalo burger stands closed up faster than you can explain the that Spanish expression matar a uno el gallo en la mano is a way of saying you’ve floored someone with an argument—really shut him up. (Literally, it appears to mean that you’ve killed someone with a rooster.)
- Even then, my original story about the scooters was supposed to include the opinion of an outside expert: Barry Winfield, who writes about motorcycles for all sorts of outlets (publishing outlets, not electrical outlets). Barry said that one obstacle facing Current Motor Company is that conventional scooters with gasoline engines “are doing a fantastic job.” And furthermore: “Of all the vehicles that need to reduce their carbon footprint, small scooters are the last.” He pointed out that fuel economy of 70 to 90 miles per gallon is common and engine exhaust is treated to remove pollutants. He said he sees electric scooters aiming for “a very tiny niche market.” But the editor cut all that.
So I just deleted the letter. Why argue? The guy is clearly a pinhead—maybe an autistic pinhead, maybe an autistic pinhead with a gun. It amazes me how certain readers respond to news stories with extreme literal-mindedness. I’d only read the letter’s first couple of sentences and the last paragraph; I barely glanced at those in between, which appeared to be full of careful reasoning about the performance characteristics of electric vehicles. The minuscule fee I got for the story wasn’t enough to obligate me to read hate mail that arrives more than seven months later while I’m in another country.
Living well is the best revenge!