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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 www.ryansitzman.com, 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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

October 8, 2008

¿A Whole Nation Full of People I Wouldn't Do? Now THAT'S Dangerous.

Last night in the English class I teach, I had my students watch a live video of the presidential debates. It was a good listening practice for them, and they enjoyed it quite a bit. We started to talk about the debate afterwards, but we ran out of time. We'll continue that discussion today, and I'll tell you if something insightful comes from their comments (a possible preview: the Electoral College is bafflingly fucked up and confusing).
Still, after the debate I had to apologize to my students for one of my native nation's shortcomings: evidently anyone who is politically-minded in the US is sorrowfully unattractive. I noticed this about an hour into the video feed, at which point I challenged my students to find a single attractive person in the debate audience.
My students failed.
Oh, U.S.A.
The "A" in your name used to stand for "Attractive," did it not? What happened? I mean, I know it was filmed in Nashville, and not Hollywood or Miami Beach, but surely we--as a strong nation proud of its Hottie Heritage--could have airlifted in some bombshell in a bikini, or at least a stern-looking man with chiseled features and a purposeful glint in his eye? Right?
Come on, America. The world is watching you.
At least put on some freaking makeup.

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October 7, 2008

Nothing Beats the Heat and Cures Bereavement Like a Nice, Cool Sno-Cone!

The rainy season—or “green season,” as the marketing geniuses at the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism call it—is now in full swing down here in Coast Tasty, but recently there was an uncharacteristically hot and sunny day. On that day I was driving through Palmares to get to work, and I passed by a cemetery. Traffic was backed up because there were a ton of people on the side of the road.

These type of minor traffic jams always happen around here, usually because drivers can’t resist slowing down to check out what might turn out to be a terrifically horrid traffic accident. But this time, the rubberneckers were surely disappointed, because the crowd on the side of the road was mobbing together for a different reason. As the mourners were leaving a funeral service, they were all stopping to buy granizados—which are basically sno-cones topped with powdered milk and condensed milk--from a grizzled old man with a bike-mounted cart, which he had conveniently parked at the front gate to the cemetery.

Having traffic get held up for such an absurd reason would have normally caused me to go half-berserk and curse repeatedly to myself, but on this hot day, I could only smile and wonder at the marketing genius of this slightly morbid vendor.

(By the way, the guy in the picture above is not the actual old man I just mentioned; I took this picture at a festival in San Ramón just after I arrived in Costa Rica, and I’m merely using it for deliciously illustrative purposes).

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October 6, 2008

Updated Construction Sblog

September was a really rainy month and as a result, our house construction slowed down more than normal, even. It rained and it rained and it rained. It rained like something out of a Gabriel García Márquez novel, and I was afraid it would do something "magically realistic" and wash the whole village of Berlín down the freaking mountainside. Fortunately, it didn't, and the house--as well as the town--are still there.
In any case, if you're bored on the internet today, check out our house construction blog. I added a few new pictures last night. Hope you enjoy them!

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October 5, 2008

"La Seguridad" Is Priority "Número Uno"

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a few times, I work as a teacher at a call center inside a “Free Trade Zone.” Basically, these Zones have “restricted access,” and they are guarded at the entrances and usually have perimeter walls with razor wire around the entire complex.
Inside the Zone I work in, it’s almost like a little city, and in that city there are businesses, cafeterias, banks with ATMs, and any other amenities you could ask for in order to live a full, productive life… except houses, that is. Still, it’s basically like Raccoon City from “Resident Evil,” except it’s not underground, and the guards here are much more apathetic.
In any case, the company I work for has a few ATMs located directly inside the building, to make withdrawing cash easy and safe for employees. The other day, I was going back to my desk after getting a mug of coffee, and I walked past some guys restocking the ATM machine. I thought I’d walked right into the middle of a joke already in progress. Here’s how it goes:

Q: How many Costa Ricans does it take to restock an ATM machine?

A: Four.
1 - A guard employed by the bank, to put money in the machine.
2 – Another guard employed by the bank, to lean on the wall with his hand resting on his gun, watching the first guy.
3 – Another guard employed by the bank, to hold the video camera and film the first two guys as they restock the machine.
4 – A guard from my company, to stand in the background and watch the first three guys, making sure they don’t try anything funny.

And, I suppose, we could also count the many employees who stopped to watch the scene unfold.
Aah, Costa Rica.
Hey, you know, I heard in some countries they have these things they call “checks,” and you can send them through a system called “postal service” to pay for bills.
Now that’s weird.

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

October 1, 2008

Menagerie (That's "Menagerie," not "Ménage a trois"... sorry)

About two weeks ago, I was going to write about how Angela and I got three pets in a period of a few days. However, a few short days after that, we were back down to zero pets. So, I’ll give you a run-down of what happened to our temporary mascotas:

This is one of our pets, which I’ve mentioned before. Angela’s sister Teresa’s cat had kittens, and this was one of the kittens that she offered us when they are ready to leave their mother. This is pet number one, which we might have soon. Truth be told, though, I don’t actually care that much for cats, and none will be able to replace dear, departed Pussypie.

This poor, ratty little thing is pet number two. She was an abandoned street dog that showed up at our house construction one day. Diogenes (one of the workers) and Angela took pity on her. They gave her some food and started calling her by the terribly un-subtle name “Somalia.”
She was guarding our house for about a week, when she suddenly disappeared on the weekend. For about two days, Angela and I were worried about her and, knowing that some people around these parts are total assholes when it comes to stray mutts, we feared the worst. Then on Monday, Angela asked Diogenes if he knew what happened to Somalia, and he told her that the incompetent hick that had attached our roof had taken her. As it turns out, Angela had half-jokingly told the guy that he could have the dog, so on Saturday afternoon he’d simply come by and taken her.
The guy is kind of a tool, but I’m glad that the dog’s still alive. I hope that she has a long life full of food.

This is our third pet from that week. One morning as we were hanging out tidying up the living room, we heard a feeble meow coming from in front of our house. We went outside to see what was making the noise, and we saw this little kitten crying in the middle of the street.
Apparently, a lot of times if people around here don’t want an animal, they drive it out to the country and just leave it somewhere. I could begin a gigantic rant here about this very topic, but I won’t. Suffice it say that it infuriates me to think that someone could be so irresponsible and cold to put a little kitten like this in a plastic bag and throw it out of their car. Goddamn bastards.
Fortunately, we got to this kitten before a car could run it over, and we brought it inside. We had no idea what to do with it, so we kind of petted it and put it on the grass. Angela then tried to wash off its ass with the spray nozzle on our hose, since it had a dingleberry (probably related to worms, if I had to guess). Somehow, watching my wife soak this little creature made my own mothering instincts kick in, and I grabbed the kitten and took over from there.
I dried off the poor little thing. I gave it some milk that I warmed up in the microwave, and it drank that happily. I found a box, some newspapers, and a towel, and I set up a house for the little guy in our “Crucifix-Torture Room.” And I even gave him (or her?) this little stuffed animal from Burger King. Content and safe, the kitten finally shut the hell up and slept for about 20 hours.
The next day, we decided to take “Ryan Junior” (the name we gave it, since it has blue eyes and short, ugly blond hair that stands on end) to Angela’s sister Teresa’s house since, as mentioned before, her cat had recently had kittens. Her sister wasn’t too happy with the idea, seeing as they were trying to get rid of animals, not gain them. But Angela told Teresa that if she didn’t care for the kitten, that we wouldn’t take one of the kittens that she was trying to give us. Angela also mentioned that she wouldn’t let Teresa take care of our future kids, since that seems to be something that both her sisters want to do, for some reason.
Anyhow, the mamá cat let Ryan Junior near her to drink milk, and apparently he’s been “attached” to her ever since. They say that the mother’s just about “dry” by now, but at least he’s getting bigger and nicer, and we may be able to take him in soon, once we get a space where we can keep him.

So, in a country filled with heartbreaking stories about animals, here you’ve got three that will hopefully turn out pretty well.
But you damn well better know that we’re getting those cats fixed.

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