June 24, 2008

Good Quote

"There ought to be a room in every house to swear in."
--Mark Twain

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June 23, 2008

The Commute

Hi Everyone
Well, not much going on here. The car's still in the shop, though, because basically everyone in the world that is involved with auto mechanics and body repair is full of shit. In the meantime, my father-in-law Honorio has graciously loaned me his car. It's a really nice 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser, and it drives incredibly well, considering its age. I am a little scared of having it break down on the highway, so I've been taking it slow and safe, and listening to the radio. In fact, I've never really listened to the radio in Costa Rica, but I've found quite a few decent stations. Obviously, this doesn't include any of the slew of Reggaeton stations. In any case, some of the good ones play a lot of 70s disco, and there seem to be quite a few "rock" stations that play a lot of Bon Jovi and 1980s "Medium Rock"--not too heavy, not too light, but just right. By the way, did anyone out there know the TRUE musical range and talent of Eric Carmen? "Hungry Eyes" is just the beginning, folks.
Anyhow, cross your fingers that I'll get my car back this week, and that the ass-face that rear-ended my car actually went to the court to testify, that the dipshit traffic officer actually turned in the infraction record to the court, and that the insurance policy for Pedregal, the son-of-a-bitch construction supply company that owns the truck that hit me, actually pays up for the repairs. Those dicks.
So hey, let's all have a better week than last week, eh?

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June 21, 2008

The Birth of Brigid Cearia Bonner

This post is to say CONGRATULATIONS to my friends Brad and Shani on their new baby, Brigid Cearia Bonner*!
As you may remember, Brad is an old friend of mine, and he was also the photographer who took the pictures of our wedding. And, since the picture above is good, I'm assuming he probably took that one, too. In any case, I don't know much about babies (which explains why I'm not a father, and also why the state of South Carolina refused to renew my obstetrician license), but this baby is cute, isn't she?
In any case, congratulations once again to the proud parents. And, since this shout-out is coming from Costa Rica, after all, may you have 12 or 13 other children, all with prosperous and wonderful lives!
--"Uncle" Ryan

*This will probably be the only time I ever spell her name correctly... sorry.

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June 17, 2008

Into "Into the Wild"

Has anyone else out there seen “Into the Wild”? I rented it the other night, mainly by coincidence. See, the video store has a deal where if you rent 5 movies, it costs about 4 bucks, and you can keep them for a week. So I decided to throw “Into the Wild” into the mix to complete the quintet.
I was a bit skeptical about the movie, mainly because I had read about 70 pages of the book it is based upon when I was visiting my friend Chris near Philly. I stopped reading the book mostly because the protagonist—an idealist named Christopher McCandless who renounces his earthly possessions, goes to Alaska, and finally dies of starvation—seemed like a bit of a presumptuous prick. Plus, at the time I read it, I felt like I was only a few steps and a couple of small changes of circumstance away from being just like him, and that made his story especially unnerving.
Anyhow, the movie was very good on many levels. The story was engaging, the casting was top-notch (especially the goofy Danish couple), and the visuals were simply marvelous. In the end, I came away with a new appreciation for the poor kid. Sure, he was kind of a douche about some things—like when he burned his money in the desert—but who among us isn’t a bit of a douche sometimes? And yeah, he was overly idealistic, naïve, and presumptuous, but what recent college graduate isn’t? After watching the movie, I now feel like Chris McCandless was just a kid who was trying his best to always experience new things and to get every drop of juice out of life, but in the end, life consumed him instead.

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dear Dad,
Happy Birthday! Sorry I can't be there to spend time with you, or to give you a snarky card making fun of your age. Instead, this picture of you looking at the Denny's menu titled "For our guests 55 and older" should suffice! He he!
In any case, I'm glad that you and Denny's finally buried the hatched, and that it didn't involve you literally putting an axe in the asshole manager's chest! (By the way, everyone else can read a more detailed break-down of our dad's previous hate for Denny's on my brother Paul's blog, here).
In any case, dad, may you celebrate many, many more birthdays! I hope this one is great for you, and we're thinking of you down in Coast Tasty!
Happy Birthday!

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June 15, 2008

200th Post!

Hi Everyone!
Well, it's been a great few years...I say that ominous-sounding statement because I just realized that this is my 200th post to this blog! Thanks to all of you for reading it, and may there be (at least) 200 more!
Also, here are some eggs that Angela drew faces on.
Finally, Happy Father's Day, dad!
Ryan Sitzman

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June 13, 2008

"Infernal Screech: There I Said It," A Haiku by the Site’s Author

Know what I can’t stand?
(I know, just take your pick, right?)
I confess: kids’ songs.

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A Short Treatise on the Excellent Opening Lines of Four Different Songs, and Why They Rock My World

I am notoriously bad at understanding lyrics, even in English, but recently I have noticed that the opening lines of these four songs pack such a wallop that I simply must continue listening:

1. “It’s Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again,” by Cornershop
Nobody has actually listened to this song since the late 1990s, but if you were to listen to it, the first line you’d hear is: “And by the time that she gets home / She’ll realize that I am gone / I’ll be sitting in a back bar drinkin’ / Drinkin’ to my friends, and drinkin’ to my foes / For both keep a young heart movin.’”
This is great because it’s sort of funny, but I love it mainly because the singer starts his song off with the word “and,” which is sure to make grammarians cringe. Later on the song even mentions “Chattanooga” and “Tokyotown,” both of which, for some inexplicable reason, make my heart smile a bit.
This song is also part of a good but under-appreciated album called “When I Was Born For The 7th Time.” You remember that song “Brimful of Asha?” Well, if you heard it right now, it would surely ring a bell. Anyhow, as it turns out, that album had other songs that were even better.
I think I now recall that Bobby once told me that Spin magazine had rated this as the album of the year for the year it was released, putting it even above Radiohead’s “OK Computer.” This, obviously, is absolute bullshit, but “…7th Time” is still a good, weird album.

2. “How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?” by Morrissey
I got the CD “You Are The Quarry” from my friends Dustin and Sam, and I’ve been liking it more and more each time I hear it. The long song titles alone are worth the trip, but the lyrics are even better. The opening line of this song is: “She told me she loved me / Which means she must be insane / I’ve had my face dragged in / 15 miles of shit / and I do not, and I do not, and I do not like it.”
The words here basically speak for themselves, and you can really see Morrisey’s bitter, ironic humor coming through. Plus, the “I’ve had my face dragged in…” part is actually a sort of bridge to the chorus, and you gotta admire a guy who already takes you to the chorus after just one sentence of verse.
Finally, I like how his face is dragged through 15 miles—and not kilometers—of shit. Mark my words: the metric system is useful, sure, but it’ll never be poetic!

3. “P.S. You Rock My World,” by the Eels
This song starts off with: “I was at a funeral / The day I realized / I wanted to spend my life with you.” This mixing of heartwarming and utterly depressing lyrics is what makes the Eels great, and for me, this song demonstrates the pinnacle of that effect. If you’ve not heard much of the Eels, or if your only exposure to them has been from the Shrek soundtracks, get your ears off their asses and hear some more songs by this band. They’re great!
By the way, the ending lines of this song are also great: “…a careful man tries to dodge the bullets / While a happy man takes a walk / And maybe it’s time to live.”

4. “Somebody To Love,” by Queen
I never really appreciated the opening line of this song until I was in Argentina. My new friend Nacho asked me, “What is that they’re saying? ‘Each morning I get up I die a little’?”
I confirmed that he had understood the lyrics correctly.
“Ay, que feo!” he replied. Just like the songs by the Eels, this one mixes downer lyrics with soaring, operatic music. It’s required listening if you’re looking for that Special Someone…and even the live George Michael version from the Freddy Mercury tribute concert is really good, although he does a cop out and tries to get the audience to sing a bit at the end. Nevertheless, good stuff.

So, check out these songs. Tell me if you come across other great opening lines that grab your attention and don’t let it go until the last note fades out.

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June 12, 2008

Great Anatomy

So lately I’ve been trying to figure out the appeal of the actress Katherine Heigl. I have to admit that I’ve never watched “Grey’s Anatomy,” and maybe she’s a great actress in that show. But we’ve recently rented both “Knocked Up” and “27 Weddings,” and both of them were thoroughly underwhelming. In fact, we even turned off “27 Weddings” after about 45 minutes of plot dragging. So I’m left with the question: what’s so great about Katherine Heigl? I mean, sure, she’s a tall, blonde actress with full lips, soft features, a winning smile, and great brea…nevermind, just figured it out.

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June 11, 2008

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello

In this blog, I don’t make nearly as many comments about the Spanish language as I should. Sure, I pointed out in the Construction Sblog that in Spanish, some vehicle-related terms take on warped English names (“backhoe” becomes “bah-hop”; “pickup” becomes “la picka”; and “Can you give me a ride?” becomes “Me hace un rye?”). Anyhow, I think that my years studying German and living in Germany made me focus on that Teutonic language’s idiosyncrasies, of which there are certainly too many to comfortably count.
However, there is at least one great thing I’ve noticed about the Spanish language, at least in its Costa Rican flavor: the use of the word “adiós.” Here, it’s almost like a Tico “aloha,” and it’s used for saying both hello and goodbye. Actually, in San Ramón and the surrounding areas, it almost seems to be used more as a greeting than a farewell. To take leave, most people often just say “Hasta luego” or something similar.
After I moved to San Ramón, it took a bit of getting used to when I’d pass people on the street and they’d greet me with an “adiós.” The word itself, coupled with a downward intonation, was actually kind of cool. For me, it seemed to express, “Hello, I’m acknowledging your existence, but I don’t really want to get into a conversation with you…so just keep it moving there, buddy.” Really, any language could benefit from more multi-purpose words like that.
In Berlín, the adiós-as-greeting is definitely alive and well, but here it’s evolved a bit further. If you’re outside working in your yard or walking along the road and a car passes you, the driver is likely to honk his horn (yes, his horn). To this, most people reply with a sort of shouted “adiós!” but it’s so short and cut that it sounds more like “Dyaaa!” However, it’s still great because it’s formal and laid-back at the same time.
Once again, though, the only problem is when things get lost in translation. As you may know, I work in Heredia for an American company, so the majority of interactions you’ll hear in the halls tend to incorporate at least some variety of English or at least Spanglish. However, I’ve noticed that on multiple occasions, some random Costa Ricans who I’ve passed in the halls have greeted me by saying, “Goodbye!”
So, my dear readers, with that linguistic tidbit, I bid you “Hello!”

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June 10, 2008

Who´s Got Gas?

I have a hard time following the news in the U.S. sometimes, but I noticed recently that there was a big clamor because oil prices were continually rising. Apparently, in some places, gas was approaching 4 dollars a gallon. “Holy crap!” I thought.
Not to get too nostalgic—especially since this was only about 10 years ago—but I remember a time when I was in high school that gas was selling for 89 cents a gallon. Sure, it was only for a week or two, but generally prices stayed around $1.15 or so for the better part of a decade. So how did prices shoot up so much in such a short time?
I realize that this is the question that basically every person in the U.S. is asking him or herself, and the answers probably have something to do with politics, import prices, long division, and/or Texas, so I said to hell with this question. Instead, I decided to do a bit of investigation, and for help I even turned to my old enemy, mathematics.
Well, kids, it had been mothballed in storage for about 10 years, but I finally got out my old algebra again! I decided to figure out the cost of gas in Costa Rica, in dollars and gallons. About a year ago, I did something similar when I tried to figure out my car’s gas mileage. The pumps at the gas station and my car’s odometer both employ the metric system, and it took me most of the way to San José to solve that little math problem in my head, and I decided that this time, I’d use a calculator. (As an aside, one day I will have to tell you something about CSMP, the experimental math program that was unleashed upon kids my age at Timnath Elementary School. It was such a messed up program that every attempt I’ve made to explain how it worked has only led to disbelief and incredulous laughing on the part of my friends. One way or the other, it may explain why I still suck at math and have pursued a life in linguistics).
Anyhow, gas prices here are set by the state, so anywhere you go in the country, gas will cost the same price. Sounds kind of nice, right? Well, it is. In any case, regular unleaded currently costs 604 colones per liter, although it’s set to rise to 644 on Tuesday. Mix that in with the fact that the dollar is currently worth about 520 colones, and finally add in approximately 4 liters to a gallon and—WTF??—gas here costs $4.65 a gallon?!? Did I figure that out right?

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Well, it’s been about a week or two since I last checked in, but things here have been pretty busy. I started teaching a new class at work, and it’s going pretty well. Basically, it’s for guys with high technical skills and low levels of English; the former is what the company needs, but the latter is what prevents the company from hiring them outright. And when I say “guys,” I mean guys. My class is a total sausage fest, with 14 dudes and 0 women. My young charges have already begun to lament this situation, but what can I say? I guess hot Costa Rican chicks just don’t go in for Computer Information Systems with an emphasis in Networking.

Also, the house has been progressing nicely, and I’ve begun planting some stuff in the perimeter of the property with the help of a rotating list of in-laws. You can check out the weekly photos at the link on the left.

In the next few days, I’m hoping this blog will be getting updates automatically. I’ve discovered that Blogger.com has a post-dating technique, where I can write something now and have it automatically post on the future date of my choice. With our already sparse internet access having become sparser due to the closing of the Berlín-Palmares street (they decided to pave it, which is great in theory, but a multiple-year process in practice), I will try to use this method to post things on multiple days, while only making one trip to the internet café.

In any case, I hope everyone’s well. I suppose I would know if you were well, IF you were to send us a postcard or a note to our post office box but, hey, I know it’s easy to forget that we still exist, being in the jungles and all.

So, have a good one, and take care.


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