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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Archive for September, 2007


It may have given the movie character of some 25 years ago, “ET”, a lot of difficulty to phone home, but I can assure you that the little extraterrestrial alien did not have to fact the bewildering array of telephone choices we human beings must deal with nowadays.

I know that we – and many expatriate Dominicans – frequently wish to make calls back to Dominica, as we do from the USA when we can’t be on the Nature Island. And, when we are in Dominica we’ll wish to call back from the Caribbean to our daughter, dear friends and possibly others. What are the options and how can we make sense of them?

This is when having a computer with Internet access is really helpful. You can compare the myriad telephone plans available by surfing to Saveonphone.com. Using that service, we settled on 3U Telecom as our preferred provider of home-phone to international destination service. But the 3U Web site is set up with the presumption that you’re calling from the USA. It is difficult for anyone to sign up for 3U service other than on its Web site, and the toll-free number to speak with a company representative probably only works from within the US and Canada. It is 1-800-97-ASK 3U. You might find some other carrier better for you.

The plans you’ll find at SaveOnPhone.com are for telephone-to-telephone calling. Another possibility is to use the Internet itself to make phone calls from a telephone, or to make calls from your computer. For the former you could use Vonage, or for the latter, Skype.

Vonage lets you make telephone calls over the Internet from your home telephone. You must have a high-speed Internet connection. You can call any Vonage-served telephone in the world for “free”, but you pay the US$25 per month fee. You can also call other telephones via your Vonage telephone; the company’s Web site gives rate info. I have serious reservations about Vonage though, based both on my own horrible experience with the company and current news about it. I took Vonage for home telephone service (you can use it instead of or along with normal phone service) and it worked fine for a few months.

Then my calls began to become garbled and tended to drop, and no amount of customer support seemed to help. Finally I quit Vonage, and that proved difficult and the company tried to illegally charge my credit card for months thereafter, charges that I had to work to successfully refute. And Vonage has been on the losing end of several patent infringement lawsuits. Its stock, once a high-flier, began a steady decline over the past couple of years and then plummeted as its legal woes (some are in addition to the patent infringement losses) mounted. As of September 27, Vonage stock is under US$1 per share. Frankly I’d be surprised if Vonage survives in its present form; but there is the possibility that Sprint will purchase what’s left of Vonage, but I’d wager that the plans and rates would all change.

I use Skype to call other computers. It is free. It even works using dial-up Internet – not well, but passably and the price is right. Both computers must have speakers and a microphone, and those are built into laptops. A mic for a desktop PC costs about US$5 (in the US). If a computer has a Web camera, the call can even be accompanied by video. A Web cam costs about US$20 in the US. Skype also offer monthly paid membership plans and call rates for computer to telephone calling and a Skype telephone is also available. Download Skype and install it and give me a Skype call (as the company says “SKYPE me”) at dan_and_ruth.

There’s tons of technology underlying telephony and the Internet that I won’t go into. It could be confusing or boring, and not only could I get it wrong as well, but also the technology changes rapidly. Rate plans change frequently too, so check with SaveOnPhone.com from time to time.

Or else, like ET, use junk you happen to have lying around your house and yard to build yourself an interstellar telephone that is somehow able to violate the natural speed of light limit that Albert Einstein figured out to phone home.

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Sweet Music of Jing Ping music blended with steel pan, cadence and bouyon music. Old friends were reunited and new friendships made. From stage performances, Creole Cuisine, and local Creole products…these are the sights, sound and smell of Cable and Wireless Creole in the Park. October 22nd – 25th 2007 at the Botanical Gardens – Dominica.

For the past four years, the crowds have become bigger and bigger, people from all around Dominica and the Caribbean come to be apart of this growing event. There is no doubt that Creole in the Park has become a great event which complements the World Creole Music Festival and if for some reason Cable and Wireless should stop hosting the event the entire independence celebration will just won’t be the same again.

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It’s just great an environment for any visitor or local can enjoy “An explosion of creole food, art and craft and creole culture.” This year’s event will have performances by may of the local bands like,Triple K International, Swingin Stars, First Serenade Band, Midnight Grover’s, Impromptu Band, and to close this year’s Creole in the Park will be Dominica’s very own reggae star Nasio Fontaine.

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Creole in the Park – History

Cable and Wireless Creole in the Park is a concept which was born in 2003 from the need to satisfy the demand for a day event for local and visiting patrons during Dominica’s annual Independence season. It was also an idea for a fringe event to complement the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF).

The first Cable & Wireless Creole in the Park would take place over a four-day period in the week leading up to the 7th WCMF and would be located in the Northern section of the historic Botanical Gardens bordering on Valley Road in the capital Roseau.

Creole in the Park – Venus

Located about 50 meters from the Roseau River, is the 40-acre Botanic Gardens of Dominica. This area of undulating land is the largest tract of semi-open space in the city of Roseau. With an elevation of about 66 ft above sea level, the historical Botanical Garden is the cradle of the Cable & Wireless Creole in The Park event. Conceived in 1889, this verdant landscape of 40 acres provides the perfect scenic backdrop for the sun-drenched days of creole activity.

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Are You New To Creole in the Park?

If you’ve never been to Creole in the Park, then here are some information that maybe helpful. The event is usually held on the four days before the World Creole Festival Weekend, and starts at 12:00noon and goes on till 7:00pm each day. There is a small entrance fee of $1.00 proceeds of which are donated to the Forestry & Parks Division for upkeep and development of the Botanical Gardens; we have to help keep Dominica green.

Thanks to Cable and Wireless and the Discover Dominica Authority, Creole in the Park have the excitement and enthusiasm which have become one of the most colourful and popular cultural event in Dominica and the Caribbean. Hope to see you there.

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Here it is, as promised. First off, many supposedly informational Web sites tell you to obtain IRS Publication 776, but that is currently in error because there is no longer any such publication. What you want is IRS Publication 54, which you can get (the most recent filing year’s version).

Also, the prior posting on this subject mentioned the possibility of any tax treaty with another nation, suggesting that you connect to the US Treasury Web site. A quick check on U.S Internal Revenue Service site, as well as at the Treasury site confirms that the US and Dominica have no tax treaty. (This is common, by the way.)

The rules for US citizens and US residents living abroad are really quite simple. You must file your IRS tax forms as you usually do. As long as you don’t also reside in the USA, you won’t have any state forms to file. You can obtain the forms on-line. Filing for retirees is quite simple and straightforward; they really don’t even need Publication 54. Those who earn income in Dominica will have to study Publication 54 more closely with regard to excluding any income tax payments made to the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Filers get an automatic extension of the date by which to file (check Pub. 54, as that date could change from year to year), but in any case, and amounts due will be charged interest if not actually paid by April 15. Most US citizens will want to keep funds in a US bank or at least have the capability of both filing and paying electronically and on-time.

When I was very young, my parents told me – and I did not understand their mordant humor – that there are two things that nobody can escape: Death and Taxes. I didn’t understand then, but I surely do now! I also suppose that the very wealthy do escape Taxes, or at least most taxes, though.

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