December 29, 2008

Predator Rap Video

Lately I've been trying to catch up on about a year's worth of scribbles made in a little notebook to remind me to check out stuff on the internet. In Costa Rica I can go to an internet cafe and do some casual internet surfing, but there's nothing like good, old-fashioned (and free, for me) internet back here at my folks' house in the U.S.

Since I have had some quality time with high-speed access, I've been going through some odd recommended sites. A link to the video above came up when I was looking at, a cool site that my brother recommended to me months and months ago, and which I finally got a chance to check out. The video is pretty cool and weird, so have a look. It's the first video I've embedded in a post, so I hope it works. It basically tells the plot of the 80's movie "Predator" in rap form, using a narrator as well as actual quotes from the movie.

Just have a look.

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December 24, 2008


I figured that since the blog looks a bit different now, I should quickly explain a few things:

1. The New Design: I tweaked with a template from Blogger to come up with the new design for this blog. I hope you like it. It should be easier to read, and it'll also fill more of the screen if you enlarge the size of window displaying the blog. Please feel free to tell me if you like it or not, and be sure to mention any problems you may have with the look or functionality of the new design.

2. The aStore: As I mentioned before, this site is linked to (one of the boxes on the left). I think they provide good products at a good cost, so I've set up a page within Amazon's architecture to allow you to shop for items from their store. If you buy products from Amazon after going through my store's link, then I get a small referral bonus from Amazon. So if you normally buy from Amazon, then it's just a way to help support me and this blog.

If you looked at the store before, you should know that I have changed it and added quite a few things. It still has the products that I'm into lately, as well as the music mentioned and reviewed in the A-Z Music Review Revue. What's new, though, is that it also has many of Amazon's own categories, which means that you can search directly within the aStore for most any product that Amazon offers, without having to go to a new window. It's sort of hard to describe it all, but I'd love it if you check it all out whenever you have a moment. And a big thanks to the people who have already used the aStore as a link to buy stuff!

3. The Advertisements: First of all, I must apologize that I even put up ads. I know that a lot of people react negatively to them, but the truth is that they pay (a little bit of) the bills, so I decided to add them. In any case, the ads are set up by Google AdSense, so I have no control over their content. I therefore apologize if they are annoying or repetitive. Still, if any of the ads are interesting to you, please feel more than welcome to check them out...that's what they're there for, after all.

4. The "Internet Search" Window: This is the other thing to the left. Basically, it is also related to AdSense, and uses Google to do an internet search. When you get to the results page, some of the links at the top or bottom of the page may be set off from the others. Those are the sites that pay Google for ad space, and that is how they are connected to the whole program. If you do a search and the featured links don't help you, then that's fine; you can just ignore them and go to any of the regular links lower down on the page. If they are what you're looking for, then once again, please feel free to visit them.

So, that's about it for the changes. Tell me if any of that didn't make sense, and I'll try to clarify anything that needs clarifying.

I hope that everyone is doing well, and I hope that everyone enjoys a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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December 21, 2008

And Now, Here's One For All You German-Wannabes Out There

As I was recently looking at some articles from, an online German news source, I came across a series of tests to determine one's "German-ness." Apparently, these 6 tests will be given to people who want to become German citizens. We give a similar test in the US, and I may have to take a test like this when I try to apply for Costa Rican citizenship sometime next year.

So, feeling a bit nostalgic for my German-studying and Germany-loving days, I took a few of the tests. There are 33 questions in each test, and to pass you need to answer at least 17 questions correctly. And, to be honest, they're pretty easy. For the first one I took, I choked a bit and only got 28 correct, but on the second one I tried, I got a 100%! Still got it!

Anyhow, if you're down with the Deutsch, check them out by following this link, and tell me how you do. (Obviously, you have to understand German to do them, or else just guess really well).

Good luck!

(Picture taken by me in my trip of 2006).

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December 19, 2008

Call Now!

If you're reading this and you're in Fort Collins, give us a call. We're kinda bored.

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December 18, 2008

Some Mexico Pictures

Hi Everyone!
Well, Angela and I are now back in Colorado visiting my family, and we're safe, sound, and flash-frozen. We took a lot of pictures in Mexico, and I'll be putting more up soon on (yes, it's still around). In the meantime, though, Angela just called her mom and told her that I was going to put some Mexico pictures up this afternoon, so I had better get cracking. I suppose that since these are for the benefit of Angela's family, I should write this entry in Spanish, but, uhm, oh crap. Here we go:

El Palacio de Bellas Artes, en México, D.F.

Aquí está la pareja que se casó en Veracruz: Juan Pablo y Aurora. Después se ve Laura y Mark, una pareja Mexicana-Holandesa que vive en Alemania. Después Angela y yo. Estamos en el castillo de Veracruz.

Angela, Yo, Aurora, y Juan Pablo.

I'm writing this one in English since I'm not sure the Spanish speakers would be that interested: The wedding in Veracruz took place at an outdoor facility, and it was decorated nicely, including these beautiful, hand-painted pots...well, beautiful except for the swastikas.

Angela con su nuevo estilo.

Tirando el novio en el aire para celebrar.

En la catedral de la Vírgen de Guadalupe.

Afuera de la misma.

Angela probando pulque...o ésto era mezcal? ¿Sabe a gusano o no?

En las instalaciones de Teotihuacan.

Angela en la pirámide del sol, mirando a la pirámide de la luna.

Nuestra pequeña luchadora Angela, con su inspiración, El Hijo del Santo.

Angela en el Mueso de Antropología.

Ahorrita pondré aún más fotos en este blog o en mi sitio de web! Gracias por verlas, y les mandamos un saludo y un gran abrazo a todo el mundo en Costa Rica!
Thanks for checking these out. I'll put up more ASAP!

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December 10, 2008


Hi Everyone!
I'll write more soon (possibly), but I just wanted to say hello, and sorry for the delays in posting. Things have been pretty busy, and now Angela and I are headed to my friend Aurora's wedding in Mexico. We'll be in Colorado on Dec. 17, so look us up!
Until then, take care!

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November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone up where they celebrate it! Since I work for an American company, we actually had turkey in the lunchroom yesterday, and it was pretty good. The mashed potatoes were substituted for a potato salad with apple, though. And the live music was a pan-flute band that played salsa music, as well as holiday classics like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Killing Me Softly" (seriously). Still, it was very tasty, and a really nice gesture.

Just know that I was jealous of you all as I was working today!

Also, I'll explain this thing more soon, but if you notice on the left of this page, there's a lot more crap lately. One of the pieces of crap is probably a sidebar with a bunch of pictures of CDs. If you click on that sidebar, it'll take you to an "aStore" that I've been setting up through Amazon (Or click here to visit it). So far, it only has links to the CDs mentioned in the A-Z Music Review Revue (it's the list on the left of the site that opens up), but I'm adding more. Still, you can always search for any item that Amazon sells from that page (click on the little icon that says "Powered by Amazon").

The way it works is, if you buy things from Amazon, but pass through my store first, I'll get a small referral fee. Basically, I'm trying to find ways to pay these 15-minute increments at the internet cafes. Plus, this way I can also promote music and other items that I reviewed or liked. You can also search through the whole Amazon catalog from that site, and I believe I'll still get a small referral bonus for that, too. So, if you're thinking of doing any holiday shopping online, I would appreciate it if you check out that site. I was actually amazed at some of the prices; are CDs cheaper nowadays? There was an Eels CD (Electroshock Blues) on there for only $5.99!

So, why go hang out with all the maniacs and scumbags on the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year when you can shop while staying in the comfort of your internet-equipped home and help out a friend at the same time? Thanks for your consideration!

Now, enjoy some turkey leftovers!

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November 25, 2008

Oh! Deer.

I've begun to notice these weird deer things on my drive to work lately.

Of course, their leader is hard to miss. He was even standing more proudly until the incredible vientos de Navidad recently blew his head over, snapping his spine in a single burst of wind.

I wasn't sure what they were at first, but the other day after I went to Migracion, I stopped on the side of the road to take a closer look. Turns out they're made from a sort of pine sliver thing, and then wrapped with string. I guess they're for Christmas decorations. I asked my students what they were, these strange animals from the highway between Naranjo and Grecia, and they all said, "For decoration." But they couldn't tell me exactly HOW they're used to decorate.

So, I bought one for my mother-in-law and one for my sister-in-law Toni. They seem to like them very much, so I guess I'll see what they actually end up doing with them.

Is it just me, or do this remind anyone else of those pictures of the Chinese terra cotta warriors?

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November 24, 2008

Apocalypse Sugar Cane

Last Thursday when I was driving home from my previously-mentioned adventure at the Ministry of Migration, I stopped on the highway and took this picture I like. So at least the trip to the ministry wasn't a complete waste of an afternoon.

The picture shows rolling fields of sugar cane, and at this time of year it gets a cool white flower on the top. It's also really tall, about 15 feet in some areas! I put my sunglasses over the camera lens to take this picture, but I still think it turned out OK. Tomorrow I'll put up a few more pictures from the drive home from the ministry.

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November 23, 2008

El Ministerio de Migración: A Gentle Rose

I took this picture on Thursday when I had to go to the Ministerio de Migración. If you were able to stay awake in your Junior High Spanish class, then you can probably understand the meaning of the name "Ministerio de Migración," namely: "The Go-Fuck-Yourself of Migration" (it's hard not to talk about Costa Rican government ministries without using lots and lots of profanity). I seem to have to go to this ministry every so often to ask for residence, renew an ID, make a request to renew an ID, or do some other bureaucratically fabulous bullshit task.

I was talking to my coworkers and my mom about this whole ID renewal process, so I figured I'd share it with the world. If you don't like reading the blog when I rant about Tico Bureaucracy, then maybe you'd prefer looking at some pictures of our house that I just put up?

OK, begin rant: See, I have a cédula de residencia, which is basically the national ID card that Costa Ricans carry, but with a slightly different design (which includes the vaginal-looking Costa Rican national orchid). Also, for them foreigners like me, they are only valid for a year, after which you have to renew it. This sounds easy enough in theory, but of course it isn't.

See, my cédula expired in October, so I wanted to make an appointment to get a new one. The catch is that you can't make an appointment to renew the cédula until the actual month of expiry. So, I had to make the appointment in October. The appointment can't be made at the Ministry of Migration; instead, you need to call a 900 number to make it. That also takes extra steps to get your telephone set up to be able to call 900 numbers. Many foreigners are fleeced by unscrupulous people who wait outside the building and offer to call the 900 number on their cell phones, and then charge the foreigner 10 dollars or more for a phone call that only costs 20 cents. So, that's the first step: requesting an appointment by phone.

Second step: Get the date of the appointment. Mine was for March 24th. Oh, cool! Only 5 months after my ID expires. I asked many, many questions during my 900-number call about why this was so, but no one could tell me. Also, despite getting the new ID in March, it will still expire next October, and I can't renew it--or request to renew it, that is--until next October. This will be the case for the first 5 years I have a cédula, apparently. After 5 years, they'll be good for 2 years each. After 10 years of this, they'll apparently good for 5 years at a time, but if that's the case, perhaps a foreign power will invade this army-less paradise in the meantime and institute some logic and order to the immigration process (Germany? Austria? Turkey? Any takers...?).

Then, if you want to leave the country in the 5 months while you're waiting for a new ID, you need a third step. I had to get a little document that says I'm waiting for my new cédula, so that I can use it to go through the Migración lines at the airport when Angela and I go to the US over New Year's. Said document is literally a form that has a long declaration that the cédula is in process, and then it has four spaces that need to be filled in by the Migración officials; the spaces are for "name," "ID number," "date of appointment," and "time of appointment." Oh, and it has a rubber stamp! That's literally all the document says. It would make sense to just give you this document when you make the appointment for the renewal, but since that's over the phone, it doesn't work that way. Also, you'd think that the Ministerio of Migración could set up some sort of "internet system" so that their officials at the airport would be able to see that people are waiting for their new IDs. But that's not the case; you have to go to the ministry in person with a photocopy of your ID and request the little paper. Depending on the whim of the attending agent and also depending on who you actually talk to, you'll have to wait from one day up to two weeks to actually pick up the paper. It will never happen on the same day, though.

So actually I went to Migración on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Once to drop off the request, and a second time to pick up my little rubber-stamped piece of shit.

This should work till March 24th, the day I go to get my new cédula. Wait, did I said "get my new cédula"? I mean, "go ask for it again, for some fucking reason." Because I'll go in on March 24th, but that's just to drop off a letter asking for a new cédula, as well as a proof that I've deposited 58 dollars in Migración bank account. I don't actually get the new cédula until two weeks after that, at which point I'll have to go back to Migración to pick up the little printed-off piece of plastic shit with my ugly mug on the front and a hologram on the back.

Thankfully, next February Angela and I will celebrate two years of official, state-sanctioned marriage, if you remember that. After that point, I'm legally allowed to apply for Costa Rican citizenship, and it also appears that I won't lose my American citizenship. I've gotta investigate it more, although it goes through the Civil Registry, which is another, completely separate bureaucracy. Still, I'll be willing to try anything that lets me avoid going back to Migración for a few (or seven) more appointments every year.

(By the way, I took the above picture near the highway. It's about the only indication of how to actually get to the main building of the Ministerio de Migración. Oh, and "Musmanni" is the name of a bakery near the Ministerio...)

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November 19, 2008

Another Mexico City Pic

Since Angela and I are going to Mexico next month, I decided to put up another picture from my trip there with Paul a few years ago. This particular picture is of a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe--I think--in a parking garage in Mexico City.

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November 18, 2008

A Few Days Off

It's been a few days, so sorry I've not but up more pictures lately. Angela had her birthday this last weekend, so we ended up going to the beach. I'll try to put up a picture or two from that excursion, but here's an older picture that I took earlier this year in Esterillos. I just like it, so that's why it's here.
It shows guys fishing in the sunset, so what's there not to like?

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November 12, 2008

Concert Periscope

I chose this picture to examine a bit closer because first of all, I like it and second of all, it's from Mexico. I took this picture--and many more, if you check out this link--in 2006. I went there with my brother Paul to visit my friend José. It was a great trip, and it sort of helped lead me to where I am today: in Costa Rica.

See, I visited José on a whim, because it was spring break and there were cheap tickets to Mexico City. After being there, I decided that I'd like to learn more Spanish. At the same time, José mentioned he was going to Argentina to visit our mutual exchange student friend Andrés, and I ended up tagging along on a great trip to South America. While there, I learned more Spanish, but I wanted to get even better, so I asked my friend Christa if she still had connections at a school in Costa Rica that she'd taught at. She did, I came here, and the rest is history.

In any case, this picture is from a free Manu Chao concert in the Zócalo in Mexico City. Many people were too short to see over the tall people, so some marketing genius was selling these homemade periscopes throughout the square. It's not terribly amazing, but it's still one of my favorite pictures that I've taken, for some reason.

Also, Angela and I just bought tickets yesterday to go to Colorado over Christmas, and we're going to make a stop in Mexico to go to my exchange-student friend Aurora's wedding in Veracruz. The last time I stopped by Mexico, my life began to follow a remarkably different path, so who knows how this next week-long visit will change me and Angela. Perhaps a year from now we'll be blogging from a military prison in North Korea, or volunteering at a food kitchen in Estonia...

I guess you never know.

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November 11, 2008

Updated Construction Sblog

Yesterday I put up some new pictures of our house construction. It's moving quite quickly now, so check them out!

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November 10, 2008


If you can tell me what number this represents, then you probably can't do long division, either.

For today, I'm going to depart from pictures that I've taken because I just stumbled upon this very special picture above. If you're my age and from Fort Collins, or at least if you went to Timnath Elementary School, then this image may cause a mix of nostalgia and/or nausea. For me, it's mostly the latter.
This is one of the notorious "minicomputers" from the CSMP math program that was unleashed upon unsuspecting children on the Front Range in the early 1980s. I ranted a bit about this program a few months ago, but it was just in passing. So, I made a note in my little calendar to do some research into CSMP, and to find out whatever became of it.
As it turns out, CSMP doesn't actually stand for "Crappy Stupid Math Program," as we all thought. It's actually "Comprehensive School Mathematics Program." Evidently, it's been decommissioned--or perhaps the correct word would be "disarmed"--and is currently no longer a threat to our world's children. However, there is still a group out there called the "CSMP Preservation Project" which is trying to save and reinstate CSMP. Follow this link to read more. This site has enough PDF files of "String and Minicomputer Games" to cause a former CSMP student to suffer through another acronym: PTSD. (Oh, and fun fact: Among other things, CSMP also stands for "Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy," an advocacy group in Massachusetts).
In any case, if you didn't take part in this program, then most likely none of this post makes any sense. But if you were in this program, I probably just either made or ruined your day, depending on how hipster and/or retro you're feeling today.

(Picture from Wikimedia Commons)

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November 9, 2008

Guiding Light

I believe I put this picture up when I took it around a year ago, but I still like it. It's a picture of the magnetic Virgin Mary statue on the dashboard of my father-in-law Honorio's 1985 Land Cruiser.
Many cars here have little magnets, decals, air fresheners, and other doo-dads that display saints, prayers, and other religious imagery. I guess in the US people have the "Jesus Fish" bumper thingy, but that's about it, usually. Here there's like a whole little subculture based around these trinkets.
I do wonder, though, in which direction Mary is supposed to face. Should she be placed to look at the drivers to better protect them, as well as provide a happy face to pray to, or should she be placed looking forward, providing her with a nice view of the oncoming road?
Maybe it's one of those things--like taking communion--that I'm not allowed to know about since I'm not Catholic.
Who knows.

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November 8, 2008

Oh, Deutschland...

For today's picture, I chose this one that I took of the "New" Town Hall in Hannover, Germany. I mainly chose it because I like it, but also because it makes me think of Germany. A few years ago, as I was getting my Master's Degree in German, I would have never imagined that I'd end up living in Central America.
But here I am. Don't get me wrong; I'm happy to be here, and I'm elated to be married to Angela. At the same time, though, I notice that I'm forgetting German slowly but surely, and probably a month or so ago, the total time I'd spent in Germany was eclipsed by the total time I've spent here in Costa Rica.
I guess it just goes to show you that no matter how much you try to plan your future, the future may have other plans for you.

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November 7, 2008

All You Need Is Just A Little Patience...

Here is the close-reading picture for today. I was looking for pictures to feature, and this one caught my attention because it shows our lot before the house was there. It's hard to believe that this was taken at the end of March! There have been many, many delays with the house, but when I compare how it looks now (see below) with this picture of an empty lot, it's actually pretty amazing how fast it's going. We're actually thinking that most of the work (aside from painting, cabinets, and moving in) will be finished in a week or two.

In any case, I guess that this picture just helps keep things in perspective. And by the way, check out the pictures from the Construction Sblog that I put up last weekend. I'm hoping to get some more pictures up this weekend, but I accidently forgot my memory card reader at an internet café, and I think some little shit walked off with it. So, we'll see what happens.

But the lesson here is clear: If you want a house, just buy one that's already built.

The house now.

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November 6, 2008

Other Receding Lines

I took a day off yesterday so that you could all have a chance to catch your breath from the frantic pace of the November picture posting. Plus, I was lazy.

In any case, today's picture is of the lovely Angela and my mad-doctor dad. I put it up because it's a good picture that I took, but also because I have teeth problems these days.

When I was a kid, I was one of the lucky few that never had to have braces because I had great teeth. But lately, my gums have been receding even more than my hair, and I'm not sure why. I asked a few dentists, and some said it was from not flossing enough, and others said it was from flossing too much. The dentist here in Costa Rica said that it wasn't a problem. Many people have blamed all the coffee I drink, but they don't realize that coffee is delicious. This has been going on for a while now, and when I was a Teaching Assistant for the Scandinavian Department, my boss even gave me the Viking name of "Ryan Battle Tooth."

Anyhow, who knows what's going on, but my teeth sting sometimes when I eat...well, almost anything. As I said, I've talked to a dentist here in Costa Rica, but I don't trust her much. She's Angela's dentist, so that should be a bit comforting, but Angela also comes from a culture where "dentalwork" can mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater; many people around Berlín and in her family simply had all their teeth pulled and replaced with dentures. Plus, the dentist's office here is less clean-looking than my dad's dental clinic in Colorado...and he's a veterinarian.

So dad, can you book me for some gum grafting when I come home for Christmas?

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November 4, 2008

The Revenge of Bryan Sitzman

Last Friday I dressed up for Halloween, sort of:

I told my students that Ryan was sick, and that my name was Bryan, Ryan's Evil Twin. It was actually pretty fun, because they played along. For example, when I couldn't name the capital of Uganda--it's a long story, but we talk about capitals a lot in my class)--they said, "Oh don't worry Bryan, I'm sure Ryan would know." And my coworkers were freaked out, too. Mainly just because they weren't used to seeing me with hair. Quite a few people didn't even recognize me in Clark Kent mode.

In any case, though, it's interesting to observe how the hair really makes the man. Obviously, this was just a shitty wig, but I looked completely different. And in my class yesterday, my students found out that I was 28. Many of them were very surprised, possibly because I look like I'm in my 40s, hair-wise. They laughed when I told them, "The years haven't been kind." I got the same effect when two of my coworkers who look younger than I do, learned that I was actually a bit younger than them. It was all a good moment of Schadenfreude, but I'm not sure if the Schadenfreude was at their expense or at mine.

Basically, hair on your head is great. If you have some, enjoy it while you can, you lucky, hairy bastards.

Bryan Sitzman

(Photo credit: Carlos Cascante)

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November 3, 2008

And You Thought Many Roads Led to ROME...

A week ago Angela and I were going to a construction material depot outside of Palmares and we came across this sign in the road:

Well, the good news is that someone finally got my memo about either naming the streets in this country, or at least putting up a few signs to show the way to major cities and tourist attractions.

The bad news is that the whole system still needs a bit of tweaking. But at least it's better than "Follow the cars," which were the verbatim directions to the Caribbean that one of my students gave me.

It's a good thing that we weren't going to San Jose or I probably would have just driven my car right into the signpost out of desperation.

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November 2, 2008

New Construction Pictures

I just updated our Construction Sblog, so you should head on over to the site to check out some new pictures. It's even more fun than inhaling varnish for hours on end!*

*Results may vary depending on the type of varnish you use.

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Picture Close Reading: Who Would Jesus Tailgate?

I decided to put up this picture for a closer look because it displays something that I find disturbingly interesting: The Crucified Jesus Head.
As if the crucifix alone wasn't gory enough, they've now modified it by focusing on Jesus' thorn-crowned head and stylizing it a bit. Then, they put it on every third taxi, delivery truck, and private car in this country.
I don't mean to make light of the crucifixion; in fact, I almost feel that that's what the people who put these decals on their vehicle are doing. And for some reason, the people in these trucks and cars seem to be some of the worst drivers, and the vehicles seem to belch out even more black smoke all over.
This might be symbolic, but I don't know what for. All the same, I just thought I'd share it with you.

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November 1, 2008

Picture Close Reading #1

This is my first "Picture Close Reading" for November. For this project, I'll more closely examine a picture that I've taken or that I am featured in.

I chose this picture because it's a good demonstration of how I could improve my blog, my website, and my writing in general. I have a tendency to write notes on my hand so that I don't forget things. This is OK in theory, but in practice I often have no idea what the hell I wrote. This especially happens when I'm driving in the car, and I have to write with one hand on the wheel and my eyes on the road.

So the other night I got home and saw this note on my hand, and I have no idea what it's supposed to mean. I wrote it while I was driving in the dark, and I obviously was paying more attention to the road than to my penmanship. This may not even be written in Latin script. Unfortunately, the same thing even happens when I have time to concentrate.

Every day when I go to and from work, I get two little tickets of paper to prove that I paid at the tollbooth. I've started to use them as a replacement for Post-It notes when I'm at work. As a result, when I empty my pockets at the end of the day, numerous little yellow slips of paper fall out, and all of them have illegible notes scribbled on them. Or if they're legible, they make no sense. For example, last night I found one that said: "Lighting 24 hr." Sure, Past Sitzman, whatever.

In any case, if you ever wonder why my blog seems so schizo, that may be the reason why.

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Well, now that it’s November, I guess I should feel obliged to end Blogtoberfest. I know it wasn’t a huge output of writing or ideas, but at least it was a slight increase over what I’m normally able to post to this blog.

As I mentioned before, now that it’s November, I’ll be writing a novel. I now officially have only 29 days left to go, after all. You can follow the progress, I believe, by clicking on this link. My brother Paul is also doing this project, and I believe that my friend Brad will be doing it, too, at least if he can hide it from his wife. The site seems to be very busy now at the start of the month, but apparently the traffic slows down within a few can search for me by looking for "Sitzman," and Paul is "P Sitzman." Brad thinks he'll be "BBonner." Also, my word counter is only changed when I change it, so without internet access, it may stay the same for a few days at a time. But rest assured that I’m using all of my free time to write a coffee-drunk novel to make you laugh, cry, and cringe.

Finally, I’ll be trying to load up a bunch of pictures throughout November so that Sitzblog won’t be completely neglected. My ideal plan will be to have one picture a day, but we’ll see how the logistics of that work out. Some of the pictures will be new, some will be old, but I’ll try to find ones that are interesting or significant to me. The idea will be to do some sort of “close reading” or analysis of the pictures. I will also try to only use pictures that I took, or else that feature me in some way. It’s all part of the ego-tripping that is Sitzblog--and it’s also an attempt to avoid copyright-based litigation.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures, and I hope you enjoy November. And in the immortal words of the gentle poet Axl Rose*: “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.”

*PS: Apparently after a few centuries of eager anticipation, Guns N’ Roses fans will finally be treated to the new GNR album, “Chinese Democracy,” sometime near the end of this month. I imagine there might be a bit of lag time before it makes it to Palmares, but you can be pretty sure that when it does, the November Novel will have to take a backseat for a few days!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 31, 2008

Joe The Plumber: Once Again Disgracing Bald People Throughout The World

Well, I've been making some changes to the blog, as you may be able to see. Since I've only got a few minutes left before I go to work, I decided to give you a link to an article that I came across. It's from FOX News, so obviously it's totally infused with the biases of the nation's conservative media, but it's still interesting. Interesting, like, "So this is what it's come to."

Anyhow, "Joe the Plumber" is continuing a long, proud tradition of dimwitted hicks spouting off their opinions about global politics. This tradition can be seen in the comments of Toby "The Antichrist" Keith, Alan Jackson, me (let's be frank), and now Joe.

In any case, even though he apparently doesn't have a plumbing license, he must have a master's degree in political science, because on the campaign trail he recently said, "I do know that" in response to a person saying that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.

In fact, I can hardly do the article justice by just describing it, so here is an excerpt:

At a stop in Columbus, he fielded the question on Israel from a self-identified Jewish senior citizen.

The questioner said he was "concerned" with Barack Obama's associations and "It's my belief that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."

Wurzelbacher responded: "I do know that."

The questioner then complained about Obama's tax policies and reiterated his Israel comment.

"Well, you know what, I'll actually go ahead and agree with you on that one," Wurzelbacher said. "You know ... no, I agree with ya.'"

Wurzelbacher's first trip to the podium as a McCain surrogate was freewheeling. He often apologized to reporters gathered in a flag store for talking from his gut.

"I'm honestly scared for America," Wurzelbacher said.

Joe Wurzelbacher, ladies and gentlemen. Unlicensed Plumber, Bald Dipshit, and Geopolitical Analyst Extraordinaire.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 29, 2008

Boy Banned

I’m not sure why, but I still hate Leonardo DiCaprio. Yeah, I know, like 15 years later. Maybe it’s his goateed, dog-faced head, but I just can’t like this guy.

I’ve made amends with the other boy idols that the girls of my generation swooned over. Brad Pitt is actually a good actor and seems like a cool guy; perhaps “Legends of the Fall” was just a shitty, shitty fluke. Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg is still a Wahlberg, but at least he was good in “Three Kings” and “Boogie Nights,” and if I were a casting director, he’d be my go-to guy when I was looking for someone who could nail the role of a kind-hearted dumbass. Even Robbie Williams is off my Shit List. Maybe if I were a European male I’d feel obliged to hate Williams, but since he hardly shows up in the American consciousness, it’s easier to defend liking him. And I actually like his songs.

But what is it about Leonardo DiCaprio? It can’t just be me, can it?

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 25, 2008


Well, the other day we found out that our cat eats gallo pinto (rice and beans) and burnt scrambled eggs--at least if you leave them out long enough.

This is considered a good development for all concerned.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 22, 2008


Today I voted. It was kinda fun, and it was even better that I didn’t have to wait in line for two hours at a senior center or elementary school with a bunch of other losers to do so.

I was only allowed to vote for three things: President, Senator, and Representative. I guess that comes with the territory when you’re using a mail-in ballot and you’re located “overseas” (Let’s call the Gulf of Mexico a “sea”). That may have been an advantage, too, because I didn’t have to take the time to be a Well-Informed Voter and read through all the other ballot issues. I also didn’t have to tolerate months and months of ads about how Amendment X will take your guns away and give your children to the state; or, how Candidate Y is really a mass-murdering Feminazi, and therefore soft on crime… and she’ll raise your taxes!

One interesting thing about the ballot (spoiler alert!): Whoever said that the US is a two-party system was a bit off. Sure, there are only two parties that matter, but there are actually 16 different choices for President. What a country! Play some 1950s-style shopping music and have a look at these parties you can choose from:

-HeartQuake ‘08
-Socialist Workers
-Boston Tea
-America’s Independent
-Socialism and Liberation
-U.S. Pacifist
-Socialist, USA

This is great! I couldn’t make up some of these parties’ names if I tried! “HeartQuake ‘08”? “Boston Tea”? “Prohibition”? I love it! Pure comedy gold, guys. I also love how there is evidently so much disunity in the modern American Socialist reality that they need three parties to represent them. Also, isn't Objectivism somehow related to Literary Theory? I know I wasn't the best student in that Grad School Seminar, but I'm almost expecting the next election to have a tight race between the Semioticists, the Neo-Hermeneutics, and the Post-Structuralists.

Basically, it seems that any whackjob with a bit of a grudge against the “gub’mit” can form his or her own party and run for President. In fact, don’t be surprised if you have the option of voting for the Whackjob Party’s candidates in 2012: President Ryan Sitzman and Vice-President LaToya Jackson (a shrewd political move on my part designed to get out the lady-vote and the African-American vote).
Now that’s the American Dream!

Anyhow, my friends, this was the easiest voting experience I’ve ever had. Now it’s just up to the Correos Postal Service of Costa Rica and the US Postal Service to quickly and efficiently get my ballot to the County Clerk’s Office in Boulder, Colorado.

In no time, my ballot should be in a cardboard box in a shed behind the San Ramón Correos building, and I can be sure that by November 4th, I’ll be a newly disenfranchised voter.

Vote or die, kids.

PS-I think “Votation,” the title of this post, may actually be a word, but I just put it up there as a tribute to some of my old elementary school students. Whenever they wanted to say an English word that they didn’t know, they’d just use a Spanish word and add “-ation” to the end, thereby making it "English" somehow; ie: “Mesation,” “Pegation,” “Chunchation,” or “Lapization.”
Thank God I don’t teach Elementary School anymore.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 21, 2008

An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

A few weeks ago, my brother Paul asked me on his website if I wanted to enter politics and run for co-president with him. I tried to put a reply on his website from a few different computers, but for some reason I was unable to. The answer: Hell yeah.

Obviously, my co-presidental running mate brings a whole wealth of foreign policy hoodlumism experience to the ticket, but I myself have also stirred up the establishment, too. And, since I’m now running for office, I’ll officially beat the press and release my own incriminating picture. The following picture of me was taken a few years ago at the World Naked Bike Ride in Boulder.

It was a sort of protest against overusing oil, so I made a sign that said “I don’t need oil to be greasy.” Unlike many other fellow bikers, I didn’t go naked, mainly cause I don’t like riding bikes anyhow, and I couldn’t have imagined they’d be any more comfortable naked. Oh yeah, and that’s a Viking helmet over my bike helmet.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s smooth sailing for our political future. Paul, we’ve only got two weeks to convince the electorate to vote us into the presidency, so we better get going. I suppose that our biggest disadvantage—that we have no political experience—can be cancelled out by our biggest advantage: the nation isn’t sick and tired of hearing our names for the past two years.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 20, 2008

Now, What Happened To That Rat's Ass I Had Laying Around For Just Such An Occasion?

If you’ve never heard of Maria Jose Castillo, then consider yourself lucky. She was the runner up for the latest season of Latin American Idol (yes, it exists), and she happens to be from Costa Rica. Now, I’ve never watched American Idol in either its “Regular” or “Latin” flavors. Basically, I’m not into bullshit. And I probably wouldn’t even bring up this poor 19-year-old’s name on my blog (and thereby help perpetuate her fame) if I didn’t have to run across her face in the newspaper every day, even weeks after she lost to the chick from Panama.

As I said, I never actually watched the show, so perhaps this girl’s voice is like some sort of sonic orgasm. That would explain why she’s already met with the president—the president of the nation—on various occasions and why, when she’s not busy chatting it up with El Señor Presidente, she’s busy giving interviews or hanging out with the national soccer team.

The media oversaturation is still bad now, but it was almost intolerable in the days leading up to the call-in voting. I didn’t know that these Idol shows chose their winners based on the number of call-in votes that the contestants received; silly me, I thought that a singing competition show might have something to do with singing talent. But in any case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying votes. In fact, it’s very, very encouraged. Supermarkets were taking out full-page ads supporting Maria Jose, and if you bought 5,000 colones (10 dollars) in products, for example, then the store would call in a vote for you. A couple of these ads can be seen in the picture below and at the top of this post.

Aside from being an abhorrent reality show in the first place, Latin American Idol nicely illustrated a few things that are wrong with Costa Rican thought today. First of all, there’s the already-mentioned idea that elections can be bought. Second of all, there’s the full-on embrace of the “home team,” no matter how bad that home team may be or how deserving the competition may be. In fact, the coverage here did everything possible to avoiding mentioning the other finalist, who was some girl from Panama with curly hair. We may never know if this Panamanian girl sings well or not; what is clear, though, is that she could somehow get more people to pay for a phone call to support her.

Hey, by the way, even though Maria Jose didn’t actually win, the Toyota agency in San Jose still gave her a 2009 Yaris. Oh, and did I mention that according to one of these countless interviews she’s done, she doesn’t actually know how to drive? (Sound of Ryan repeatedly punching a cinderblock wall... with his face).

For me, though, it’s all just such an overwhelming embrace of Televised Schlock and Elementary School Field Day-Style Mediocrity, that for once I just don’t know what else to say.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 18, 2008

Smoked Out

The checkup was going fine until the doctor asked the inevitable question from the form. That one question. The one I knew he would eventually get to. I hadn’t made up my mind if I’d lie or not.
He asked the question.
“Do you smoke?”
I hesitated for a moment, and my hesitation caused a slight frown of doubt to form on his forehead.
“Well,” I answered, “Not anymore. But I did in the past.”
I’d told the truth after all.
In a slightly lowered voice with a hint of concern, he asked me how much I had smoked.
“Not that much.”
Like how much? How many per day?
“Oh, I guess a couple.”
Oh my, a couple of packs?
“No no, a couple of cigarettes per day at the most, on average. But there were some days when I didn’t smoke. Weeks even, in fact.”
The frown disappeared, and with a dismissing chuckle he said, “But that hardly even counts. Can you even call yourself a smoker?”

That checkup was about a year ago. I’ve not had a single cigarette for over two whole years now. But you know the interesting thing? The science appears to have been right: those little things are addictive!

In the subsequent two years since I quit, I’m pretty sure that not a single day has passed where I’ve not passed a hoodlum on the street corner and thought, “Hmm, that smoke actually smells pretty nice.” Or this: “I don’t suppose it would do much harm to have an occasional smoke…except then I’d disappoint Angela.” In fact, it was meeting my future wife that motivated me to stop for good. Like I said, I was never a heavy smoker by anyone’s measure, and I think that very fact made it harder to realize that—shocker!—those flavorful little tobacco sticks probably weren’t that good for me after all.

How did I get into smoking, and how was I able to keep it casual? Contrary to what D.A.R.E. may say, simply taking a single drag from a cigarette won’t turn you into a two-pack-a-day smoker within mere days. Here’s an analogy for you: politicians cannot merely rely on votes from their party’s base; they also need swing voters to get elected and stay in office. In the same way, cigarette companies can’t count on just the support of heavy smokers; they also need a strong turnout from casual and “social” smokers to stay in business. Additionally, when a society has a large number of people who smoke only socially or when they’re “out drinking with friends,” that group helps perpetuate a general acceptance of the existence of their habit within that society. Or so it would seem to me; I’m not a sociologist. Still, I was in that group of occasional smokers, and--either through willpower or sheer luck--I luckily remained in that group for 6 or 7 years, without moving on to become a heavy smoker.

Most of my time spent smoking was when I was in college and while traveling, and those are two times when you almost have to smoke; smoking just seems to be part and parcel of those particular experiences. My surroundings probably weren’t conducive to quitting, either, since many of my friends fell into the category of “occasional smokers.” This seemed to be especially true of the people I interacted with in Germany, as well as my fellow students in the German Department at CU. I guess there’s just something inherently Teutonic about inhaling hot smoke into your lungs; maybe it helps you express all that Weltschmerz and Schadenfreude. And speaking of Germans, I should also note that while I was an exchange student in their country, on various occasions I was even offered after-dinner cigarettes by my host parents—and they were both doctors! I believe they justified their occasional habit by waiting until the kids had gone to bed and by smoking only “Ultra Light” cigarettes.

So why would someone even smoke in the first place? Good question, and I’ll give you three great answers:
1) It’s cool
2) It’s delicious
and, of course…
3) It’s addictive.
Unfortunately, any anti-smoking campaign will try to gloss over those first two points and focus all its firepower the third one. Sure, smoking is stupid, and sure, it’ll almost certainly kill you eventually, but it’s still something to do when you’re bored and trying to look hip and/or edgy.

I guess I’m not sure why I’m even mentioning all this, except to say that I’m probably glad I quit. You know, I’m sending a Positive Message to the Youth of Today. We’re all about public service over here at Sitzblog. I should also mention that I’m glad I’ve ended up in a country where most people don’t seem to smoke, and that I’m married to a wonderful wife who would probably browbeat the shit out of me if I were to pick up the habit again.
But still, when I leave work and walk past the little cluster of smokers outside, I walk just a little bit slower.
Ummm, don’t do drugs, kids!

(Photo Credits: Since I was only an occasional smoker, and since it was also the Dawn of the Age of Digital Cameras, I had trouble finding pictures of me smoking. These two were the only ones I could come up with after scouring my hard drive. The first one is of me smoking after a soccer game. I founded The Ünnëcëssärÿ Ümläüts, our German Department soccer team. One of our principles--besides an all-abiding dislike of soccer and an aversion to scoring goals--was that a nice cigarette at halftime was OK and even to be encouraged. It helped the oranges and Capri Suns go down.
The second picture is from circa 2004, I believe. It's of me and my buddy Chris in Manayunk, outside Philadelphia. I believe his friend took the picture.)

PS- Sorry mom.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 17, 2008

A Future Novelist In Our Midst

Just so you know, I am going to write a novel.

My friend Brad told me about this site last year, which promotes November as a National Novel Writing Month. Check it out. The guidelines are easy: In the month of November, you have to write a novel. Sounds good. I always wanted to be able to say that I’ve written a novel, so hopefully by November 30th, I’ll be able to say that.

Now, there are a few catches. First of all, I suck at writing fiction. Second of all, I don’t have a topic. But that doesn’t matter, since the site is geared more towards quantity than quality (and it explicitly states that). Aside from the satisfaction of being able to say you wrote a novel, there are no prizes, but if you complete the challenge, you can say that you “won.” To “win,” your novel needs to have at least 50,000 words, which apparently works out to the equivalent of 175 pages or so. Especially since I don’t have a topic, that number kind of concerned me, until I saw that my Nicaragua story had about 8,000 words (and I wrote that in one long evening). I know that there’s definitely a difference between writing non-fiction (easy) and fiction (hard), but I still have a feeling I’ll be able to pass that 50,000 word mark.

So, wish me luck. If you’re interested, you can also join and try to write your own novel. We can take part in some long-distance, coffee-based commiseration and egg each other on to the finish line. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep some sort of word count tally on either this blog or, although I’ll still have the same internet connection issues that I usually have. And who knows, if any part of what I write turns out to be worth a damn, then maybe I’ll put some of it up here or on my website.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to start writing an outline.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 16, 2008

The Return of Ryangela Junior

Please allow me to paraphrase and totally rip-off a phrase that my friends Zach, Andy, and Soup said when they got their cat Sampson: “Angela and I both got a little pussy last weekend.”

That’s right: despite our repeated protests that we have nowhere to put a cat and that it’s been raining non-stop for about a week now, Angela’s sister Teresa “returned” Ryan Junior to us. That was the little blond cat that we found in the road, you’ll remember. He’s not as little now, and Teresa said that he was sucking the mother cat at their house dry.

So, now we have a cat. Since we still don’t know jack about kitten anatomy, we’ve taken sides as to what the cat is; I think it’s a boy, Angela suspects a girl. Also, its eyes have changed from blue to a sort of green, so calling it Ryan Junior wasn’t as accurate anymore, since Angela also had blond hair when she was a girl. So, we named it Ryangela Junior.

It’s going to be an outside cat, but right now, I feel kind of bad for it since it’s raining so much. He's got a nice little area in the room in the back, but still, it's a crappy room. Plus, I think it still wants a mamá cat, since it’s always trying to climb up on us and get milk from our necks. The picture above (taken by Angela) is of me and Ryangela Junior. When he sits on my shoulder like that, I sort of feel like a pirate with a parrot. A really, really annoying and repetitive parrot that only says “meow.”

But he’s soooo cute.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 14, 2008

Juice By Sitzman! Juice By Sitzman! Goooooooooooo Sitzman!

So the other night I watched “Requiem for a Dream” again. Man, why do I keep doing that?? Didn’t I swear as I walked out of the movie theater in Regensburg, Germany 7 about years ago, that although it was a great movie, I’d never be able to watch it again?
Well, with multiple viewings in the meantime, I suppose I can consider that another broken promise due to my movie addiction. I guess that even if the movie is absolutely disturbing, you still have to admit that it’s just excellent in so many different ways (Could we get another close-up of that infected arm, please? Thanks). This time, I borrowed the DVD from my friend from work, Roberto “Robby” Monterrosa. I watched the special features, which include a short interview where Ellen Burstyn, the brilliant actress who played Sarah Goldfarb, interviews Hubert Selby Jr., the author of the novel upon which “Requiem for a Dream” is based. The interview is insightful for a few reasons.
The first reason I enjoyed the interview was because I could see with my own eyes that Ellen Burstyn is actually a normal person; I guess her performance as a widow addicted to weight-loss uppers was a strong testament to both her superb acting abilities and a great on-set makeup and wardrobe department. The second interesting thing was Hubert Selby Jr. himself.

Selby is a pretty strange guy—you almost have to be a bit off-kilter to write something like Requiem for a Dream--and he looks even stranger when you see him (see picture above). As my wife Angela said, “If I were that guy, I’d be sure to never open my mouth when I smiled.” But all horrid teeth aside, Selby seems to be a very fascinating guy with quite a few perceptive things to say about writing in general.
When recounting how he decided to become an author, Selby says: “I knew the alphabet, so I figured I could write. See, sometimes distortions and insanity and arrogance; all these things can work to your advantage.” He explains this a bit, saying, “I’m probably the most untalented person that’s ever lived. I don’t have natural abilities; none whatsoever.”
Replying to this statement, Burstyn asks, “How can you be a writer and not have natural ability to write?”
Selby replies: “By sitting down and writing every day of your life, until you’ve learned how to write.”

For me, this was an enlighteningly simple thought. Despite having written around a hundred essays and term papers in my college and grad school career, as well as having created multiple websites dedicated to things I’ve written, I still would hesitate to call myself a writer. I guess that because I’ve never been paid for doing this, or because I’ve never been “published,” then I almost feel like I’ll be mocked if I say that I’m a writer. Maybe I feel that Shakespeare and Joyce will come out of their graves, shove me around a bit, and call me a big pussy. So, I always qualify any such statement by saying that writing is something I enjoy doing in my free time, along with walking around, rearranging my books, or drinking while trying to bake bread.
But when I heard Selby say the quote above, a sort of light went on in my head, and I thought, “Hey, I guess I’m a writer, too!” I further identified with this intuitive fellow with the goofy exterior when he said: “I had this obsession to do something with my life; I didn’t want to waste it. And so I came home every night and I wrote and wrote…”

This quote inspired me. It told me to keep going, to continue writing, and in the end, maybe I’ll get good at this whole “writing” thing. And who cares if no one reads any of this? In the end, there’s always going to be a chance that someone will read and/or enjoy it, and hopefully something good will come of this whole pursuit.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another Selby quote from the interview, although it’s a bit tangential. He talked a lot about the hard times that he’s gone through in his life, and how they’ve influenced his writing. He mentions, though, that those experiences also helped him become a more effective and inspiring writer. As Selby says near the end of the interview:

“Unless I can relate to the suffering of people, I cannot offer a solution to the suffering.”

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 13, 2008


The other night I got pretty wired on maté (I know, it doesn’t have caffeine, but still, it works) and I came up with the idea of “Blogtoberfest.” Basically, I just liked the word, but I didn’t actually know what kind of concept it could represent. But then it hit me: Oktoberfest is all about exceeding one’s limits and drinking until you puke, so maybe Blogtoberfest could be about pushing myself to the limits and blogging until I throw up a couple liters of beer and a few kilos of Schweinshax’n and Sauerkraut.

Essentially, I really want to keep adding posts to this blog more frequently. In my office and in my calendar, I have a ton of post-it notes with blog ideas that I’ve never had a chance to flesh out, so now I’d like to make the time to do that in what remains of October. I was partially inspired to do this by my brother Paul’s “Doctober” project, and by an interview I saw with Hubert Selby Jr., the guy who wrote “Requiem for a Dream” (more about that in a few days).

Also, I mainly just wanted to use the word “Blogtoberfest,” which seemed freaking brilliant, and whose statute of limitations will naturally expire when November rolls around.

So, stay tuned, and I’ll do my best to bring you not only quality, but also quantity. As we all say “Eins, zwei, g'suffa!”, let’s tap the keg of my brain and let the Blogtoberfest ideas flow!

(Photo credits: Lately I have been trying to use pictures that I’ve taken myself, mainly because I’m concerned about giving credit where credit is due, and also because it gives this blog more of a holistic, “Sitzman-esque” experience. That’s why I used a picture of a “God Bless America” bumper sticker in Angela’s closet when I was talking about why Sarah Palin is a tool. And today, as you can maybe imagine, there’s no Oktoberfest celebration going on in Costa Rica, so I had to find the only “Krauty” pictures I’d taken. These are from 2006, at a beer garden in Munich. It wasn’t during Oktoberfest, but rather a World Cup game between Germany and Argentina. A game that Germany won, thanks to my lucky “Deutschland” underwear. You can see more pictures from that particular trip by clicking on this link.
Oh, and about the pictures.
The first one is of two random chicks in their Dirndls--the traditional dress. If you do an internet search for the word “Dirndl,” you might be surprised that this traditional garment is being sexed up for the new generation. Then again, you probably wouldn’t be surprised, since that’s what fashion is all about: making peasant garb sexy.
The second picture is of a girl selling Big Pretzels at the beer garden. Especially now with the exchange rate hurting the dollar, 3 Euros 30 seems pretty damn expensive. I didn’t actually buy a pretzel, though, since pretzels make me angry, for some reason).

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook