Sunday, November 2, 2008

High Tech in Costa Rica

So I'm a geek at heart. I get a little excited when I read about cutting edge technology. And when it happens to coincide with Costa Rica, well! I think I need to get a fainting couch :-D.

Costa Rica's favorite technical son is Franklin Chang, the ASTRONAUT. But wait! Costa Rica doesn't *have* a space program, does it?!? Nope (not yet). Franklin Chang emigrated from Costa Rica to the United States. He became a USA citizen, a NASA astronaut, and flew seven missions (he is tied for first place for the most missions). Because of *him,* Costa Rica changed its citizenship laws** to allow for dual citizenship - otherwise, he would have had to give up his Costa Rican citizenship, which would have been just too sad for everyone.

Since retiring from NASA, he has been focused on his plasma engine development company, Ad Astra Rocket, which is located in Texas and Costa Rica.

PBS interviewed him, and you can see the video of it here - definitely worth watching:

And the technical news that got me started? Plasma engines! Ad Astra announced a successful test - love those milestones :-)

A note on names, if you are not familiar with the Spanish convention - A person (e.g., Franklin Chang Díaz) has two last names, the primary is his father's primary last name (Chang), and the secondary is his mother's primary last name (Díaz). Women do not change their names when they marry, but may alternatively be known as "de [husband's primary last name]" (de Chang). So, when you see the name "Franklin Chang Díaz" in Costa Rica, it is the same as "Franklin Chang" or "Franklin Chang D." This can cause confusion for emigres (in both directions). In the United States, he kept both names by hyphenating, and is "Franklin Chang-Diaz."

** For more on changing citizenship laws, see Michael Jones-Correa, "Why Immigrants Want Dual Citizenship."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Our Current Address?!?

Since we've been splitting our time between California and Costa Rica, we don't have a permanent address in Costa Rica. Occasionally, an address is required - our driver's license, cédula, bank, and Caja all use a "current" address. Because we weren't living in a house at the time (or wherever we *were* living, we knew we wouldn't be there long), we gave the address of ARCR (Association of Residents of Costa Rica, where we are members). We figured that when we do settle into a place year-round, then we would update our address. Well, now I'm not so sure that is going to be ok.

There is a new law in Costa Rica that requires addresses to be kept current - people have a year to get them updated in the civil registry, then have to keep them updated. The purpose of the law is so that people can be served with legal papers - as in a civil suit. If people can't be served, they don't have to show up in court. And if enough time lapses, the suit is dropped. You can see why the law was changed...

So how does this affect us (and others like us)? Probably this - Every time we move to Costa Rica, we need to update our address in the civil registry as soon as we find a place to live (we do this at least once each year). Then, when we move away - when we don't have an address in Costa Rica - we make sure our address is listed as ARCR. They will always know how to reach us. Possibly this - we keep our address as ARCR, since they *will* know how to reach us, no matter where we live.

I guess figuring this out is all part of living the nomadic life :-D