June 13, 2007

News Article About Squirrel

I was looking at CNN.com and found an article titled "Three Hurt As Squirrel Goes Nuts." Of course, it was in Germany.
Basically, a squirrel flipped out in Passau and attacked three people. Kinda funny. Check it out here.

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June 11, 2007

Bug of the Month Club

I know that I sort of live in an area that could be described as "the tropics" or something like that, but I am still surprised by two things I constantly encounter here: mold and bugs. I guess I might have had both in Colorado, but to a lesser extent (especially with the mold).
(ASIDE: One thing almost more annoying than both mold and bugs is the douchebag behind me in this internet cafe that insists on singing along with every bullshit 80s schmaltz ballad--and not the good type of schmaltz ballad, but the Whitney Houston type of shit--in his lilting voice. Then, when he doesn't know the words, he taps his feet out of tune or whistles...loudly. "The Greatest Love," my ass! ASIDE OVER)
The mold: I am surprised at how well mold grows. I understand that in some places, it's pretty likely to grow (like in the soggy cardboard box that was left after they delivered my oven, which I was "storing" in the little yard behind my apartment). But other places are just a bit much, if you ask me.
I literally had to throw away an (admittedly old) laptop case because the damn thing kept growing mold! It just didn't seem like luggage, especially luggage that had never been wet, and which had been stored properly in a well-aired area, should be able to grow mold, but it continually did. The same happened with a suitcase and a messenger bag, but at least with those two, it seemed to cease with a good washing.
The bugs: Again, I live in Central America, so I shouldn't be surprised at the bugs, but more than anything it's the variety that's interesting. And living in a city, I'm sure I'm only getting the smallest fraction of the scary shit that's out there.
I don't really mind bugs, but there are a few that are really annoying. Mosquitoes, of course, blow (or suck, I guess), especially when they wake you up three or four times in a night. I also hate centipedes because, for a split second at least, I think they're some sort of evil "micro-snakes" or something. They usually get the sandal swat treatment.
The strangest thing, though, seems to be how the bugs come in waves. If you recall from the time I was house-sitting for the Canadians, there were a lot of beetles getting into the house. Then, one night, hundreds of flying ant-type of bugs started coming into the house! I closed the doors, but they were seeping in through the cracks. You could hit or swat them, but then their four wings would just fall off and you'd be stuck with a crawling grub thing. I talked to the son of the house later that night, and he said, "Oh yeah, there's one day every year when they come around, and that's all you ever see of them. Just one day."
And there are waves and waves of new, different bugs. My laundry patio is serving as a sort of makeshift lab for them. First, I had the wave of the beetles. Then the small ants which are nearly invisible. Then the larger ants. Then the mosquitoes. Then the big ants. Then the centipedes. Then the caterpillars that sting like a bitch. Now, every time that there are no bugs, I get worried. It's like in Star Wars, when all the cannons on the Death Star go quiet, and everyone starts getting afraid of what's to come. That's right, dammit, it's some TIE fighters, and Darth Vader's in the lead!!

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Georgia On My Mind

Hi Everyone,
Just wanted to say that my friends Julien and Martha are shipping out with the Peace Corps in two days to Georgia (the country...it's between Russia, Iran, and Turkey). I just wanted to wish them the best of luck, and let them know I'll be thinking about them.
Also, let me be the first to officially make the lame joke (in print, at least) about Georgia On My Mind...get used to 27 months of this shit, guys.
Finally, I've linked their blog site to this very blog. It should be in the left column, under something like "Julien and Martha in Georgia (the country)." They've still not even left the country, but when they do, you better wear your stirrups to the computer, because their site will rock your fucking socks off! So check it out in a few weeks or so...
Anyhow, best of luck, and I'll be happy to see you both again, whenever that may be!
Here's a visual aid (since at Sitzblog, we're all about the visual aids) of Martha and Julien, at their wedding last year. I pilfered the photo from one of their websites, so I hope that's OK:

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June 1, 2007


Since Costa Rica is a tropical country, there are innumerable exotic fruits and vegetables that I'd not heard of when I got here, and only a few that I had. I really like mangoes and guayabas, I found out, and I've begun to get past the soapy taste of papaya and enjoy that, as well. But two of my favorite remain the granadilla and the guanabana. I decided to take a picture and pass them on to you, dear reader. Maybe they'll entice you to come visit.
Now, photographing fruits and flowers and stuff like that isn't my specialty. I guess I need a good macro lens, and I've not got that. The specialist is my friend Brad, and you can check out his stuff at http://bb-365images.blogspot.com/ . There´s even a new picture each day!
Anyhow, hope these get your mouth watering or your head scratching!

First of all, this is a granadilla. I just now realized that that's it's real name; I'd been saying "grenadilla" because it looks like a grenade. Plus, I'm a dumbass. Anyhow, it's got a kind of hollow sound if you knock on it, but you can perforate it with your fingernail. If you do...

...you get this. It's 10 times weirder inside. There are crunchy little seeds, somewhat like sunflower seeds in texture, only they don't get stuck in your teeth for hours. But the seeds are surrounded by a sort of slime-filled membrane, which makes it seem like a packet of fish eggs or polliwogs or something similarly strange. Still, who cares? It's delicious and fun to eat, so what does it matter if it looks like something from Alien?

And here is the mighty guanabana. It's pronounced something like "wuan-ah-bon-ah." I don't know how to write crap phonetically. This particular one was about the size of a football, and in this picture that I took yesterday, I've already eaten half (And, incidentally, I learned a valuable lesson: RESPECT THE GUANABANA. You cannot, with impunity, expect to eat half a guanabana and be sitting pretty the next day, apparently). The texture of the outside is very soft, and it would make an excellent explosion if hurled, I'm sure. The inside is juicy as anything you've ever eaten, so it's best to eat it with your hands and make a mess. It's also very popular made into a drink. The flesh is sort of textured like a very flimsy pineapple, but with a kinda milky and otherwise very unique taste. The little black dots are seeds, about the size of a dime squashed on train tracks, but you can't eat them. But all in all, it's a very delicious what-have-you.
So, if I come across anything else tasty or interesting, I'll pass on word to you, my friends.

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Breast Day Ever!

Today was a titty good day. As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of luck with some bank and government authorities that most people NEVER have luck with. And then, we were able to talk with the priest, so now we have our official wedding location and date. Also, I ate some ice cream!
In any case, one other thing happened that is worth mentioning, even though it didn’t really make it the greatest day ever (although it didn’t hurt, either).
After my mini-triumphs with the Schlappschwanzes at the Banco de Costa Rica and the Registro Civil, I decided to celebrate with a slice of pizza at Pizza Cuba Tica, a joint near my house that I had always wanted to visit, but never had yet. It was about 2:00 pm, and there was only one person besides the cook in the restaurant. The customer was a rather large girl in her 20s, probably, and she was talking to the girl that was making the pizzas. I only glanced at her from the corner of my eye, but I saw that she wasn’t eating anything, so she must have been a friend of the pizza girl. Anyhow, I ordered my slice and a coke, and when the waitress asked if I wanted my order to go or to eat there, I said, “I’ll eat it here.” Literally one second later, I took a closer glance at the other customer at the counter, and saw that she wasn’t actually that fat; she was breastfeeding!
I don’t know if this is normal behavior here (or anywhere else, for that matter), but for some reason, it struck me as udderly odd. “Oh shit,” I thought. “Does that mean I have to leave now, to give her some peace and quiet?” My mind was flashing, but I figured that if she was comfortable enough to feed her baby in public, then she might take offense if I changed my order to go solely on her account…you know, I didn’t want to seem squeamish, or anything. On the other hand, I didn’t want to seem like a pervert that was staying just in hopes of catching a glimpse of a nipple (that’s the only way a boob sighting actually counts…let me explain in a separate, aside paragraph, to follow directly).
First of all, me and some other Americans kinda came up with these loose rules over a few years spent living in Germany, where boobs are less of a body part and more of a marketing device. I remember seeing titties on advertisements for things as varied as shower heads, bar soap, condoms, and, of all things, margarine. And these were just the advertisements on public billboards and TV commercials. Seriously. In any case, it was determined that a partial boob is really not a boob, or at least you can’t say that you saw a boob if you only see the side, top, or bottom of a breast. You gotta see nipple for it to “count.” Although we came up with these guidelines fairly independently, they seem to be universally recognized to some degree or other by nearly all men. Back to my story about the girl breast-feeding her baby at the pizza joint.
Basically, I wasn’t sure how to react at the store. I had to rack my brain. I didn’t want to look, obviously, but at the same time, I didn’t want to not look, because I didn’t know if that would be insulting. If my mammary served me correctly, from the fleeting glance I got out of the corner of my eye, it wasn’t that nice of a boob, anyhow. It was kinda purple-ish and, of course, there was a baby hanging off of it. More awkward than erotic. Plus, as you know, I’m a legally married man, and even though men as a rule—married or not—will generally be happy to oblige if you ask them to look at a pair of naked boobs, I still didn’t want Angela to get pissed off at me, especially if I wasn’t trying to eye this particular set of funbags.
Anyhow, with the afternoon dragging on and the oven cooking pizzas, it was getting hooter and hooter in the little pizza place, so when the girl brought me my slice, I ate it in about two minutes, and drank the hell out of my coke. I just decided it’d be breast if I got out of the situation before it got even more gawkward. So, at the very moment when I turned to the side to ask the pizza girl if I could pay, the baby must have been done, too, because it unclamped from the mother’s breast at that instant. The girl made an effort to cover up what bore an uncanny resemblance to the pepperoni on the slice of pizza that I’d just consumed.
I needed to get out of that place, because it was starting to feel like a David Lynch movie for some reason, and I was afraid that I’d suddenly switch places with Billy Ray Cyrus or Robert Forrester or someone. I paid the pizza girl, tried to seem casual by asking how much time they needed to make a whole pizza, and left the store. It was a rather uncomfortable experience, but in the end, I guess I can at least say I saw a boobie. And it counted. Titally.

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Fighting The Man

Today, everything started working out, all of a sudden. I had tried to make a money transfer a few days ago from my account in the US to my account here, but it got held up. I went to the bank yesterday, and they sent me to another branch. I expected to get jerked around a lot when I went to the other branch today, because that seems to be standard operating procedure at a lot of “customer-service” oriented placed around here. The whole transfer was a problem, though, because tomorrow I had to pay for some furniture and I car I bought, and I had expected to have the money a few days ago. I was kinda shitting a brick worrying about it, too.
Anyhow, I went to the bank, and the guy there was actually nice…No, not just nice; he was REALLY nice. His name, let it be known, was Hugo Moreira, and he is a great man. He made some calls for me (while I and other customers waited there) and figured out that it was being held up somewhere because I needed a justification to transfer that much money. So then, he actually sat down with me and typed a letter for me on his own work computer, and explained the whole process to me. He also made copies for me using the copy machine at his office! Let me explain the significance of this: if you ask for a copy here in any place that isn’t expressly a copy shop, you’re liable to get a stern “No,” an angry frown, and possibly even a bullet to the heart. Then, he went to the back of the office and faxed my letter to the head office. Finally, he came back and called the head office to confirm they had received it, and told me that the money would be cleared by 2:30. He said if it wasn’t, I should come back and talk to him.
At this point, I was starting to wonder what the fuck was going on. I thought I might be on one of the hidden camera shows, and was starting to wonder if I’d show up on tomorrow’s episode of Sabado Gigante. Then, something almost just as strange happened.
I left the bank and since I had some extra time (I had budgeted about 2 hours for bullshit bank tasks, but it really only took about 45 minutes), I decided to go to the Civil Registry. Angela and I had made a trip to San José last week to request that they get off their asses and finally inscribe our legal marriage, making it official. Until they did that, we couldn’t talk to a priest, I couldn’t apply for my permanent residency, and she couldn’t apply for her US visa. Plus, it had been four months, which seemed like a long damn time for about 10 lines of data entry. So, we filled out a request form, and they told us that it’s be inscribed my May 31. “Yeah, right,” we both said as we left, and we fully expected to have to go back to the capital at some point this coming week to bitch at them again, but when I went to the branch in San Ramón, it was inscribed! Everything was coming up Milhouse!
Anyhow, I know this is probably not that interesting for people not directly involved, or for people who don’t live in Costa Rica, but I just had to mention it, since it’s always such a joy when The System works for you (even if it takes enough poking and prodding to kill a steer).
So, I’ll write some more stuff later, but I just wanted to say that tomorrow I’ll have furniture and a car! And more importantly, since we’ve now officially met with a priest in Palmares, we have an official day and place for the wedding. It’ll be on July 7th in Zaragoza, Palmares, at 3:00 pm. To get you in the mood for some Weddin' Visitin', I'll attach this picture of the church in Zaragoza. I took it a few weeks ago, when it was pretty cloudy. That's one reason that it's in black and white. The other reason is that black and white is always classier:

Hope to see you all there!

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