Wednesday, January 09, 2008 is amazing

Many years ago when I worked as the supervisor at a satellite communications terminal in Mahe, Seychelles I spent many long hours in the terminal control center. I didn't mind because I could occupy those hours reading. Because I worked as a government contractor I had an FPO box that make it feasible to subscribe to magazines published in the US. At the time I was very interested in the possibility of divining the future and two magazines I subscribed to were "The Futurist", and "High Technology" (or perhaps Omni). I used to devour these magazines seeking visions of the future, trying to gain foreknowledge so I could capitalize on knowing where events would lead. Truth to tell this is still a large part of my psyche.

I am a little hazy on exact details, this all took place way back in the late 60s, but I vividly recall reading an article in one or the other of these magazines that explained how in the future we would all enjoy having our own personal Oracle. To pose questions to him, we would not need to go to some special grotto or anything like that. All we would have to do is fire up our personal computer and connect to our "knowledge utility". I was absolutely captivated by this futuristic notion. Naturally, the first question I was going to ask my Oracle was: what is the secret to life? And Douglas Adams notwithstanding, it is not 42. If you want to know, you'll have to ask your own Oracle, mine is dedicated to serving me alone.

Times change and we don't really talk in terms of Oracles these days. Instead you hear terms like "knowledge server". In fact, it turns out Internet resources like, Google, and Clusty are closing in on the vision of a knowledge server. These tools do more than simply point you to information. They categorize, and to some extent analyze, raw information or help you see connections you may not have thought of; and they just keep getting better and better.

If this blog ever mystifies you, please give a shot. Are you taking advantage of this service? If not, try it out. Put your cursor over a term in the text and click. See what serves up. Warning, using is addictive.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

INAPAM tarjeta can save you dinero

The Mexican government has a program managed by Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores (INAPAM) that issues a membership card to qualified seniors enabling them to obtain discounts for various products, services and bus travel. To qualify you must be at least 60 years old. All Mexican nationals are eligible, but so are rentistas with the proper requisitos. To apply you must go to the Quinta de las Rosas senior center on 20 Noviembre (cross street is Independencia) at 8:30 AM and take a number for an appointment with the INAPAM staff. The office (designated Credentiales) is at the back of the complex. When you number comes up, the friendly cliente asistente will complete your application based on the documents you supply. Should you need Zerox copies there is a shop across 20 Noviembre that can make them for you. If you are faced with a long wait there is a small cafeteria where you can order hot drinks and snacks.

I have placed a Quinta de las Rosas marker on our CommunityWalk map of Xalapa (at the bottom of this page), and assigned it the government category. Quinta means country house or country estate, so I am guessing that this walled complex was actually part of a private estate in historic times. The grounds and buildings are quite nice. If I had not been on a mission I would have read some of the brass plaques that probably explain all about the place.

Here is a list of required documents:

An FM-2 or FM-3 visa

A photocopy of 3 pages of your passport and 3 pages of your Visa. For the passport that would be the front inside cover page and facing page and the page with the Mexican visa. For the Mexican visa the pages are 4 and 5, and the Prorrogas page with the most recent renewal date.

Two copias of your photograph (infantil size).

A comprobante such as a paid telephone or electric statement (original and copy).

Lastly they want a copy of your birth certificate and an official translation of the same.

You need to supply them a telephone number of a person to "avisar en caso de accidente".

Their telephone number is 841-49-69

When you go for the appointment, the office staff may hand you a list of "reqisitos" that lists a Certified Registration Unique of Population (CURP). This document is applicable to Mexican citizens and once they supply their CURP, copies can be downloaded via the internet. For rentistas your visa and passport fulfill this document requirement. (Bob Cox the owner of passed me information saying rentistas can obtain the CURP ID). I think Bob has lived in Mexico for a very long time. We need to ask him if there are any advantages to having this ID. My sense is that it is for people working and paying taxes in Mexico.

When your cliente asistente has completed your INAPAM application you pass to the adjoining room where your card is created. If I remember correctly the charge for making the laminated card with your photograph was five pesos.

Now to the good part, saving pesos.

Intercity bus fares are granted at half price, but I'm told you cannot book on the executivos. That's not a big problem, because even the "standard" buses I've been on were quite clean and comfortable. Mexico has a superb bus system with modern coaches, many connections, and clean attractive bus terminals in major destinations. On city buses throughout Mexico, flash your INAPAM card at the driver and pay half price.

Some bus lines have no limit on the number of INAPAM riders on a given bus trip, but others only allow two discount cards per coach. If this happens, you can wait and get on the next bus. Remember this is the land of Mañana. Chill out and have a cerveza.

Usually museums and archaeological zones are free, some cinemas give 25 % discount. VIPS restaurants gives a 10% discount, Dr. SIMI Farmacias allow 5% off on prescriptions as does Chedraui and Superama. Since VIPS also has a pharmacy in some restaurants, they may give a better discount than the pharmacies. It may be worth checking out.

In your wonderings around the internet, you may come across references to an "INSEN" seniors card. That is the initials of a previous Mexican Government agency that administered the program for seniors. The program particulars may have changed also, so I would discount any information you have or might run across on INSEN.

If you know of anything that is inaccurate or misleading in this post please add a comment. I am deliberately sprinkling some Spanish words in my text to see if this makes any change in the text ads Google selects for this blog.