Returning Home Highlights: #2-4

#4:  Not Having to Plan Meals:  Meal planning has been the bane of my (Rachel's) existence.  In our early days I would relax with a Betty Crocker cookbook on the couch.  I would spend long periods of time deciding what meals to eat for the next two weeks, what needed to be prepared ahead of time, if we had all the ingredients or not, etc.  There is never an option of running to Little Caesars or eating out.  There is rarely a last minute option like a box of Mac & Cheese.  In fact, if I haven't planned a meal and it's less than an hour to dinner, we are probably going to end up with scrambled eggs (if we have enough eggs) or peanut butter sandwiches (if I had time to make peanut butter and bread).  But, we never starved, I guess I can say that!

#3: Credit Cards:  Before we came to Kenya, we didn't really carry cash.  The main purpose of it seemed to be splitting the bill at a restaurant when you felt awkward about asking for separate checks.  And garage sales. And sometimes some small international grocery stores, but not usually.  We just used our credit cards.  And then our debit card automatically paid off our credit card.  Amazing!  The conveniences are many and oft taken for granted.  Not only do you not have to carry cash, but you can just scan your card at checkout and be done in about 10 second.  (note: at no point does anyone take your card off into some nearby room for a few minutes and tries to call a bank somewhere to effect the transaction, all the while planting fears of identity theft in your mind.)  Also, at the end of the month, when you want to organize your budget, you just go to your online bank statement, and all of your purchases are listed and described!  Wow!

We don't use them often here, largely because we have no international ATM fees for cash withdrawals, but VISA purchases get nailed for 3%, which can really add up, when every life expense is international.

#2: Fast Internet:  For a while, I thought about posting this survey on our blog:

Q: How long did it take for this page to load?
a) <2 seconds
b) 2-10 seconds
c) 10-30 seconds
d) >30 seconds
e) What are you even talking about?  Pages don't take time to load!

We readily admit that our internet service has gotten faster while we have been here.  We also admit that we don't think we really how fast it used to be, and it's probably gotten even faster in the US during the 2 years we've been gone.  For the meantime, need to download something from iTunes?  Might I recommend an overnight download?  It'll be almost done by morning!  That would even be for music, but we looked at "renting" HP7-1 by downloading the movie from iTunes.  Once we realized it would probably take 2 days or more, and the odds of uninterrupted internet service for that long were very low, we decided against it.

We look forward to this technology called "streaming", but it sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus to us.  We also look forward to a clear and uninterrupted Skype picture.  Video rentals without leaving your home?  Wow!