Monthly Archives: July 2007

Abusive Charge From Airbox Express?

I just looked at what it cost me to receive the three free CDs from UBUNTU. The charge is listed as Freight $6.90. Fuel Charge $1.17. Sales charge $.41 for a total of $8.48. The package is listed as weighing 4 oz. UBUNTU listed the value of the package of CDs as $5.00 so I don’t understand how the $.41 was calculated either.

In general, I am always satisfied with my charges and service from Airbox Express, but this looks a little out of line based on the weight. I can send any piece of mail via Fletes Chavale from PC to David for a dollar. Maybe I am missing something, but I am going to ask them the next time I am in.

Mac OSX vs UBUNTU Linux

I realize that most of my recent posts have been of a technical nature as opposed to Panama related. That is because I am still checking out all of the technology I brought back from the US. This post is related to the Mac Mini I brought back and its OS versus any other PC running UBUNTU Linux.

I now have about a week’s experience with the Mac Mini running OSX. It is a sweet little box and will do what I bought it to do which I haven’t done as yet (hook it up to my TV so I can surf the Internet lying down 😉 ).

In that period of time I have been able to observe and evaluate the Apple OS related to the UBUNTU OS that I have been running for a couple of months.

There is no perfect operating system. Certainly Microsoft XP wasn’t perfect and the reviews of Vista are not raising the profits of Microsoft. I no-longer need Microsoft compatibility for work and there has been no application type that I have needed that I haven’t been able to find a counterpart for on Linux. I will keep a Microsoft XP box around for the one exception I have found, but I have no plans for using it on a daily basis anymore. Continue reading Mac OSX vs UBUNTU Linux

U.S. Consular Section Closing – September 4-14, 2007

Here is the latest ACS notice.

Date: 26 July 2007

To: U.S. Embassy Warden System

Subject: U.S. Consular Section Closing – September 4-14, 2007

Dear Wardens: Please disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your area. Thank you.

The U.S. Consular Section will be closed during the move to its new location in Clayton, Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas

The US Embassy Panama announces that its Consular Section will close temporarily September 4-14, 2007 during the move to its new building in Clayton. In case of emergency during this period, please call 207-7307/7482 or send an e-mail to

Those persons traveling during the next months are invited to start their applications for US passports as soon as possible. On Monday, September 17, 2007, the Consular Section will resume full operations and services to the public.


For updated information on the security situation in Panama, please contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy at 207-7030. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in The Clayton Building (formerly Fort Clayton Building 520) in the Clayton section of Panama. The Consular Section fax is 207-7278. The Embassy web site is and e-mails should be addressed to

Should You Carry Medicare Part B In Panama?

I just received a letter from SSA to apply for Medicare. I decided I would post the above question and get some feedback before I sent my form in.

First let me say that I understand that Medicare is worthless in Panama. This is one of the downsides of moving to Panama. While you may have worked your entire life in the US and religiously paid all of your taxes, you will not be able to collect a penny from Medicare unless you are in the US.

That being said the US puts the squeeze on you by telling you that your premium for Part B will go up each year at a rate of 10% a month for each year you postpone taking it. The current premium which went into effect January 2007 is $93.50 if your annual was $80,000 or less. In 2005 the cost was $78.20. The current rate of $93.50 will translate to $112.20 with a two year delay.

Example: You delayed enrolling in Medicare Part B for 24 months

$93.50 base premium in 2007

+ $9.35 (10% of $93.50) for the first 12 month delay

+ $9.35 (10% of $93.50) for the second 12 month delay

= $112.20 will be your Medicare Part B premium for 2007

So the gamble you have to weigh, if you live outside the US, is based on whether you think you will ever return there to to the US to live or return there for medical treatment for some extreme condition. Also there is the cost of Medi-gap insurance since Medicare doesn’t cover everything.

I realize this is a personal thing, but I would like a little outside input before I make my decision. At the present, I can’t imagine my wanting or being able to return to the US to live in a retirement situation as good as I have here, but when you have lived this long you learn that the word “Never” should never be used.

I really feel that this is one item where the US is really cheating or steeling (you pick the word) from the people that have paid into the system for so many years. I think a person should be able to use Medicare benefits no matter where he or she lives.

Well, that is my poser for the day. Should a person subscribe for Medicare even if he isn’t living in the US. What are your thoughts? Like I said in the past, there is no care in Medicare is you are not in the US.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

New Driver’s License for Panama

If you have been out of touch, like me, then you may not know that Panama is moving to the use of a new driver’s License. I have attached the contents of Panama’s Motor Vehicle Authority announcement below. It is in Spanish, but you can use Google or another translator product to see it in English. For Chiriquí, the process will begin August 30, 2007. Continue reading New Driver’s License for Panama

Chiriquí Chatter Maintenance

While I was away, WordPress got upgraded to 2.2.1. This caused all of the sidebar to go to default settings and it removed the capability for Latin characters in text as well as a few other problems.

I was able to fix part of it from the US, but some required being on my home PC. I just reactivated the Chiriquí Chatter Chat facility. It it says it is “Offline” then you can still leave a message. If you leave a message, please double check that your email address is correct. If you don’t get a reply the most likely cause is that your email address had an error or your spam filter grabbed the reply.

Before leaving for the US, I had moved all of the photos that are in the blog to a different file structure. While I was in the US, I noticed that there were a few photos that were not displaying. The reason would be that I didn’t correct the address to the photo in the blog post. If you happen to see any posts that have a missing photo (usually there will be a small graphical indicator), I would appreciate it if you would drop me a note and I will fix the post.

As you can tell, it is taking me some time to get in the swing of things. Today I have to pay some bills and then I will be back on-line.

Since I am the one that has been away, why don’t you tell me what excitement I have missed.

KVM Problem Solved

One more problem bites the dust. Since this keyboard is an Apple type keyboard, you have to use a special key sequence to enter what is called a “hotkey” mode. The manual instructions were not clear or in error and that was the problem.

Using the instructions that iogear provided in their email, I am now able to switch between both PCs.

Here is what they sent me:

First make sure the keyboard is plugged into the labeled keyboard port.
Then hold clear tap minus and let go of clear and hit t. This will
switch the hotkey to ctrl. The other method if switched to it is hold
ctrl tap f12 let go of ctrl and hit t.
Service Support

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.