May 27, 2008

Substitute Bird

As I mentioned in the comment section of a previous posting, the Blue Grey Tanager that was making his nest in the bars of our shower is gone (What, you don't read the comments religiously?? Shame on you!). He left after our nephew checked the nest to see if there were eggs, and he reported that there were two. We asked him if he'd touched the nest, and he said "No," which is Spanish for, "Definitely." So, the Pervert Bird is gone. In its place we have a new nest in our garage, made by Costa Rica's official National Bird, the Yigüirro. The only thing stranger than the name is the way it's pronounced. In any case, this one seems to be in for the long haul, and the nest is fortunately out of reach of any kids. Also, Angela is now convinced of the merits of letting the bird keep its nest there. She also threw out the first two nests that the Yigüirro made because it kept shitting on our car, but it seems to have learned its lesson, and has subsequently stopped. Now it gets to keep its house, and we get new national birds.
By the way, the best part of the national bird is its scientific name: Turdus grayi. I absolutely swear this; look it up. I know it's not the prettiest bird, but still, you'd think a lush tropical country could come up with a flashier national bird than one with an onomatopoeic common name and a scientific one that looks like "gray turd." Oh well.
In any case, I'll keep you posted.

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May 25, 2008

Pictures Of Stuff

Things here have been pretty busy lately, but I've complied a few random strange things to pass on to you, my dear readers. Hope you enjoy!

You may recall from a posting back in August (yeah, right!) that we had some "German" house-guests, Tessa and Peter. Well, at that time, I posted a picture that Tessa had taken of the toilet paper roll in our bathroom, and I said that I thought it was awesome, and that I'd copy it one day. Not ringing a bell? OK, check it out here. In any case, I finally feel confident that modern science (and my photographic skills) have developed to the point where I can sufficiently rip off her idea. The result is the picture above, which I took. Hope you likey.

What else is new, you ask? Well, our niece Adriana got engaged to Jeffrey, her boyfriend of five years. Actually, I'm not sure if that number is true, but it looks good in print. In any case, Jeffrey recently got a new car, and since he often visits Adriana next door to Angela and I, he parks his car in our driveway. This is his license plate cover (which came with the car). It's pretty pimped out for a Hyundai Excel.

In other news, Angela and her niece Mariela recently managed to glue their fingers together. I'm not even sure how, but I think it had to do with painting nails.

And finally, just in time for Father's Day, which they're talking about a lot here these days, we have this lovely new product: Papas Papi Crac. (Ryan's mind talking like a robot: **Sarcasm and Bullshit Overload! Papa + Papi + Crac + Tostadas = too many possible solutions for snarky comment about Puppies and Cracks and Fathers! Does not compute! Systems smoking and shutting down! aqewycxiouhfui1asdc7862shkfn ERROR!! [explosion])

This was a bug on the front tire of Jeffrey's aforementioned car. It kind of swayed back and forth and danced on its long legs. Angela called it "Devil's Mule" in Spanish, but she also said that a big flying bug that looked nothing like this was a "Devil's Mule." I'm starting to think these people will call anything a Devil's Mule!

And finally, as you may know if you've been checking out the construction blog, things with the house are going pretty well. To see some new pictures and a slideshow, check out this link!
So, hope everyone's doing well. I'll check in later this week!

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May 15, 2008

¿Pervert Bird?

This is a picture--not taken by me, of course--of a bird. It's called a "Blue Gray Tanager," and one of them is building a nest in the bars that surround the little window that looks out from our shower. Angela tried to throw her nest out three times in one day but, thankfully, the little bird was persistent and we convinced Angela to let the little bird be. For some reason, though, I only see it when I'm in the shower, when it lands on the bars and looks in on me. Oh well, at least it makes the morning shower a bit more interesting.
In any case, I'll keep you updated and take a picture if it lays some eggs or does something interesting.

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May 13, 2008

Yeison Lara, Blogger Extraordinaire

My friend and coworker Yeison (pronounced "Jason") has started a blog. I like it, so I figured I'd mention it to you. There's a link to the left, or you can check it out here. By the way, it's in Spanish and Italian, but there are still some good pictures if you don't speak either of those languages.
Yeison's a really nice guy and a great teacher, but that's not him in the picture above. That's actually the German actor Moritz Bleibtreu, acting in the movie "Im Juli." I just included that picture because I'm convinced that Yeison looks like Moritz, especially when he wears his glasses.
So far, however, the only one that I've been able to convince of this fact is myself.
Still, check out his blog. It's pretty.

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Random Reflections on Maternity

The picture above is of a pregnant sand woman that Angela made while we were on the beach a few weeks ago (Note to Angela’s family: no, it’s not a sly way of announcing she’s pregnant, so you can put the champagne bottles away…). In fact, I have no idea why Angela sculpted that particular sand character, but I’m including a picture of it today because a few days ago it was Mother’s Day in the U.S. Here in Coast Tasty, they happen to celebrate it sometime in August, I believe, which of course does nothing to help my confusion with dates.

In any case, on Sunday I called my mom (or, at least I called her and asked her to call me right back, since she’s got a sweeter calling card) to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, and let me say it again here in a public forum: Mom, Happy Mother’s Day! By now I guess it’s officially a belated Mother’s Day wish, but no matter. You’re still a great mom, and anyone in the world would be overjoyed to have you as a mother. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and all the things you taught us kids…all the good stuff about Ryan Sitzman I owe to you and dad! (And don't worry, I'll take the heat for all the crappy parts.)

(pause for a moment to allow mom to get watery eyes, sniffle, etc.)

OK, we’re back. I did want to mention a few more things about maternity, though. Maybe it’s because Costa Rica seems to be a really pregnant country. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems that everywhere I look, I see pregnant women. And they seem to be getting all the attention. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about that. Anyhow, a few years ago I was talking with my friend Zach about having a similar feeling, and he diagnosed the sensation as “Fetus Envy,” a term which is so awesome that I just want to mention it again.

I also have been thinking about maternity because of the pregnant guy. I guess this was big news in the U.S., and it seems to be because he went on Oprah. Here, the news trickled down, but everyone who mentioned it seemed to think it was a hoax. All I know is, if that guy really is pregnant, it’s gonna hurt getting that baby out.

Wow, what a disjointed post.

Oh well.

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A Weird Story Tangentially Related to the Construction of Our House

This story is too strange to not mention, at least in passing.

The house we live in currently is two doors down from the house we’re building, so it’s very convenient to monitor the progress of the construction. As we found out on Sunday evening, though, there are also disadvantages to being that close.

Around 8:30 P.M., there was a knock on our door. I set down my margarita to see who was there, and when I opened the door, before me stood one of the guys working on our house. I didn’t actually know his name, because he had just been hired last week, along with two other new guys. He was a rather big guy, a bit shorter than me, but a lot stronger-looking. He smelled like booze and was barefoot in the drizzling rain. So, I said hello, and asked what was going on. He asked me if he could call the contractor. I said sure, no problem, and I went to get the phone from the other room. When I came back, he was sitting on the porch step with his back turned to me, and he was sobbing.


I said, “Here’s the phone.” (This whole conversation was obviously in Spanish, so these aren’t necessarily exact quotes from either of us). The guy said that I should call the contractor, so I dialed the number and handed him the phone, but he didn’t want to take it. I hung up. He said I should sit down and talk to him because he was lonely. “Well, sure,” I said, and sat down, hoping this wouldn’t be one of those repetitive, three-hour Drunk Guy Sermons.

He told me many, many times that he was sad, and that the reason he was sad was because the other workers, who were staying in the same house with him in the back of our new lot, had tied him up. I asked what he meant by “tied him up,” and he said that he gotten too drunk and violent, so they tied his hands and feet, took his car keys and shoes, and put him in his car to sleep it off. Evidently, he’d managed to untie himself and had stumbled his way to our house because he didn’t know where else to go.

He kept grabbing my ankles and wrists to demonstrate how they tied him up, and lightly hitting my chest to demonstrate how much his coworkers’ actions “hurt his heart.” It was the weirdest conversation that I’ve had on that particular porch…so far, at least.

And all of this was going on during Smallville! Not even one of the episodes from season 1 and 2 that they show during weekdays; no, this was a Sunday episode from the “new” season, and it was already super confusing, not only because it was in badly-dubbed Spanish (“Was Lana in that car when it blew up?? And what the hell is happening with Chole and Luisa—did they switch lives?? WTF?!?”)

In any case, Angela called the contractor, and he said he’d head right up from Palmares. So after sitting and talking with me for about 10 minutes, this drunk guy who kept calling me Max--evidently he once knew an American named Max—decided that he was going to walk home to San Ramón, probably to avoid the contractor who would pass by on the other road in a matter of minutes. Obviously, that was just sweet, stupid drunk talk, but I also didn’t doubt that he’d try to actually walk downhill 15 kilometers in the rain…barefoot. So, I called in to Angela and asked her to bring my extra sandals, and I stalled the guy until a Smallville commercial break came along and Angela brought the sandals. He put them on, and despite our attempts to convince him to wait, that was the last we saw of him.

When the contractor arrived, he talked with the remaining guys in the house where the workers are staying, and he sorted things out a bit. Apparently, the guy had been drunk, and he had tried to fight the guy who runs the Berlín pulpería, which is kind of like a little drug store or general store, only much less convenient and with fewer items. It appears that our guy wanted to fight the pulpería owner because the guy wouldn’t let him buy alcohol on credit…and also because the pulpería doesn’t actually sell alcohol.* (*As an aside, the pulpería in question here is NOT the one run by my sister-in-law’s husband’s brother-in-law, but rather the pulpería run by the son of the guy who rides around Berlín on his fucking horse and shuts off the water every night…in other words, the drunk guy actually should have hit the pulpería owner so hard that his father would feel it, too. As an aside to an aside, every time I play “Six Degrees of Separation: Berlín Edition,” basically everyone around here turns out to be my “sister-in-law’s husband’s brother-in-law” or something similarly obscure. End aside.)

So, the other guys turned vigilante on our drunk buddy’s ass, and they tied him up and took his car keys, all of which was probably a good idea, all things told. The contractor arrived and told the new guys that this type of shit hadn’t happened in the six weeks before they arrived, and that he expected them to be gone by the time he arrived the next morning.

And in a fictional little town in Kansas, some alien thing took some of Clark Kent’s DNA, and the episode will be continued next week, when we’ll find out if Lana Lang really died, if Chole gave her live to save Luisa’s, and when we’ll hopefully not be interrupted by any more drunk shenanigans.

Unless it’s the type of shenanigans where people return your pair of backup sandals. Shit.

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May 7, 2008


Just in time to send belated Valentine's Day cards, it appears that Angela and I may now have an address that actually works (by the way, Kathy, I got your card that you spent over a month at the post office here). In any case, our address in Berlín didn't seem to be working, and I felt guilty asking people to send letters to Abuela's address, so Angela and I bought a post office box.
Yeah, I didn't know they existed here, either. In fact, we'd called the post office many times and asked about the best way to get letters, but they never even mentioned the boxes. The other day, though, Abuela mentioned that they probably had them, and that we just had to be persistent. Sure enough, they do have them! And it's only 4 dollars a year after an initial fee of 20 dollars. They did make us copy our own key, but still, not too bad. Now, we'll have to see if it works.
In any case, if you want to write or physically send something to us, send it here:

Ryan Sitzman y Angela Jiménez
Apartado Postal 582-4250
San Ramón, Alajuela
Costa Rica

The most important thing here is that number and the San Ramón, Alajuela part. Also, if you do send us something, make sure you tell me, as we can only get mail Monday-Friday from 8-5, and it's not like something we'll check every day or even every week, since it's about 15 kilometers from our house. So a heads-up would be nice.
So, now that you've been busy not calling, you can spend some time not writing to us, also!

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May 4, 2008

Playing Devil's Advocate For The Banana Hammock

In my last posting, I mentioned that I would probably have to justify my Eurotrash "brief"-style swimsuit. This is my attempt at that justification.
It all started a month or two ago, when Angela and I went to the beach at Esterillos. We came back from the beach to the hotel, and I hung my swimming trunks on the second-floor balcony to dry in the sun. When I came back out a few hours later, they were gone. At first, I assumed they'd fallen downstairs, so I checked all over and even asked the hotel management. No dice. I still have no idea into which parallel universe (or Hyundai Elantra trunk) my old swimming trunks disappeared into, but they are gone. So, for the remainder of that trip, I just swam in some soccer shorts, and made a mental note to look for a new swimsuit when I got back to San Ramon.
Flash-forward a few months into the future. The future is now. I'm looking for a pair of boxer brief underwear, and I see a pair being modeled on a mannequin in a store window. I walk in and ask about them, and the lady in the store informs me that they're not actually underwear, but rather a swimming suit. "Curious," I say, and mention to Angela that in Germany most guys seemed to wear similar nut-crushers to the beaches. In any case, Angela also starts looking for a swimming suit, and to bide my time, I look at the guys' suits. The store lady says I can try them on "without commitment," so I think, "Ah, what the hell; why not? 82,000,000 Germans can't ALL be wrong."
As it turns out, 82,000,000 Germans certainly CAN be wrong, but that's another story altogether; when it comes to swimsuits, though, they were actually right! Sure, the suits leave very little to the imagination, but these little numbers are totally comfortable and are also easy to pack ( pack in your suitcase, that is). The only drawback is that you probably have to wear "a cover-up" if you go into a restaurant or some classy place on the beach like Hooters, but that's no big deal.
So, I did it. I bought two of them. Sue me.

I mean, it's not THAT bad, is it?? (Answer: Yes, it is, but I don't care because I'm the one wearing it, and therefore impervious and oblivious to such considerations...that's another advantage of this garment)

"Don't Fear The Creeper": The good thing about this type of swimming suit is that you can swap with your wife if she forgets the bottom part of her bikini!

"Speedo-Style Swimwear: It's Not Just For Germans and Perverts Anymore!" (Note: Germans and perverts still do use them, though, so be alert at all times!)

"Three Cheers For The Stuttgart Sausage Sling! Hurra! Hurra! Hurra!"


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May 2, 2008


Here are a few pictures from when Angela and I went to a really nice beach called Bejuco last weekend. It was beautiful weather, and I got some nice pictures, so I thought I'd share them with you. The above picture is obviously a panorama, so you have to click on it to make it look better.

Angela on the beach.

Me with my Eurotrash swimming suit. I think I may have to explain this in an upcoming post.

Angela on the balcony. She also got a new swimsuit. Just less Eurotrash.

Reading by the pool. It's moments like this that make me really glad to live in Costa Rica. The beaches of Colorado just don't compare.

Angela in the pool.

We stayed in a really pretty hotel.

Angela being an angel.

A shelter on the beach.


A nice sunset.

I know these sunset pictures may get repetitive, but I thought they were nice.

Fishermen going out at dusk with their nets. I don't actually know what they're trying to catch.

Another pretty sunset.

I know it's not true, especially since there's not a surfboard to be seen, but for some reason Angela seems like a surfer in this picture. As you can probably tell, I've never surfed.

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Quiz Of The Day

Here's your brain buster of the day: Which of the above women is Juliette Binoche, and which is Julia Ormond? I realized I couldn't tell them apart, despite the fact that one is French and the other is (possibly) British. I also knew who was who when I was working on the graphic above, but now I've even forgotten that.
Yes, it's come to this.

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Bake Me Up Some Delicious Bread!

The other day I was listening to Bread. You know, the Sensitive Guy band from the 70s? Yeah, that Bread. In any case, I was introduced to Bread a few years ago by my friend Chris (A Sensitive-90s-Type-of-Guy if there ever were one), and I thought they were pretty “groovy,” I believe the expression would be. I really like their songs, but they do seem admittedly kind of dated. Some songs like “Everything I Own,” “Dismal Day,” and “If” are OK despite sounding old-fashioned, because those songs are either kind of mild ballads or bouncy numbers. But when I heard “Anyway You Want Me” and “The Guitar Man,” I just became kind of bummed out because they sound simply old and sad. And some songs that could have been decent, like “Diary” or “Baby I’m-A Want You” are so sensitive that they’ve even grown lactating breasts.

So here is what I think: Bread is good, but Bread could be totally amazing with a bit of chutzpah (and a bigger amp, maybe). This is my challenge, then: All you music fans out there, get out your guitars, plug in your amps, grab your balls, and get to work. What I need is a completely re-done version of Bread’s greatest hits album “Anthology.” It doesn’t need to be as loud as Mötley Crüe or as edgy as Nine Inch Nails, but it needs to be powerful and have that certain, how you say, je ne sais pain, as the French say. Best version I get gets 100 dollars as a reward. Seriously. Mainly, I say that just because I don’t think anyone will take time to re-do even the best songs from Bread’s catalog, but if you do, it’ll be well worth my hundred dollars.

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Workers of the World, Relax!

(This was written yesterday, as you can probably figure out)

Well, today is May 1st, and you know what that means. Um…what does that mean? Really? Labor Day? What the hell?
Yes, that’s right, here in Costa Rica, and probably in most of the rest of the at-least-half-developed world, it’s Day of the Worker! I’m not entirely sure why a holiday that (based on what I might have been taught in school) was developed in the U.S. isn’t celebrated today in the U.S., but instead on some variable and forgettable Monday in September. I have a hunch, though, that it has something to do with hating Communists. So I guess for the time being, the world will celebrate Labor Day today, and the U.S. will have its own little shindig in September. Or is it August? Whatever.
I think the sentiment of today was best summed up on Wednesday evening by my friend and coworker Luis. As an aside, Luis is wacky as hell, and although I could devote an entry or two to his exploits and eccentricities, I would really need an entire new blog to do him and his character justice. Suffice it to say that Luis: 1) Had a small part in “1492: Conquest of Paradise,” where he met Gerard Depardieu; 2) Has described himself both as “a parrot” and “a hummingbird”; 3) Claims he was resurrected because he played the part of Jesus in a passion play; and 4) Once went to the hospital because he fell asleep while driving… while driving a motorcycle. In any case, when I got on the bus from San José to San Ramón yesterday, I saw that Luis was in the fourth row, but I didn’t say hi to him because his chin was on his chest and he was sleeping like a drugged baby. It was raining outside, and the windows of the bus had fogged up. In the condensation above Luis’ head, “someone” had written (in English) the phrase, “LAbor DaY oFF!” and had drawn a giant heart around it.
Luis, my dear friend, that’s what it’s all about.

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