July 27, 2008

Ein Blondes Wunder--Oder Zwei?!?

Since the first moment I set eyes on my wife Angela, I obviously realized that she was beautiful. However, I had no idea that she was so freaking cute--and blond!?!--when she was a little girl. I recently borrowed these pictures from her mom and scanned them for your "Awwww!" viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Angela, probably about one year old. Or two? I'm a bad judge of baby age. Or does she even still qualify as a "baby" in this picture?

Angela, looking eerily like a little Swiss girl.

Don't mess with "La Chica Suiza."

Angela in a picture that she claims to hate, mainly due to the presence of the doll in her arms. Which I can admit is a good reason to hate a picture. Still, you can see that the blond in her own hair is fading away slowly but surely, and that she didn't just color her hair to protect her identity.

To keep things fair, I decided to include a few pictures of myself when I was just a little muffin (thanks, Annie and Matthew, for that term!). In the picture above I am wearing a denim vest -suit and a striped turtleneck which, although possibly cute for a baby in the early 1980s, looks totally pussy by today's standards.

As you can see in this picture, I ALSO looked remarkably like a little blond Swiss girl, just with a butch haircut! Here I am (once again in horizonal stripes...what the hell, mom?) with my sister Diana (in the stroller). As I ham it up for the camera and enjoy a balloon, a goat quietly eats my baby sister's head. Some things never change, I guess. Ah, memories.

Finally, here I am with my dad Clarence, in the only habitat where little blond Swiss children feel at home: in a meadow in the mountains. I swear, if Angela and I ever have kids--assuming that they don't come out evil and red-headed like the kid from Problem Child as a punishment from God--then the Blondies will probably come popping out of the womb grasping a fondue stick and yodeling about cheese and the importance of political neutrality.
Anyhow, that was Baby Angela and Baby Ryan.

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

July 26, 2008

So Cute I Just Vomited

OK, so I know that SITZBLOG is not known for being cute and fluffy, but I came across this picture of a baby polar bear cub, and I wanted to include it. I think it was born in Germany a while back. But who cares because, shit in a bucket, this bear is fucking adorable!

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

July 25, 2008


A few weeks ago (July 7, to be precise), Angela and I had our first anniversary! To celebrate, we went to a place called Termales del Bosque, which is a hotel that has hot springs in the forest. It was really nice, so I decided I'd throw in a few pictures, because we all know that Costa Rica can be a bit subtle and modest at times when it comes to marketing itself as a tourist destination:

My lovely wife Angela.

Here I am looking at the springs.

"With our inner eyes open, we can encounter an immense beauty hidden in the details."

The path leading to the pools.

The hot pools were really cool, since they were set just above the river. And, of course, they were literally in a forest, and to get there you had to walk along a lamp-lit path. It was pretty cool, all told! If you're ever in the area of San Carlos (that's "Saint Chuck" if you're nasty), check it out!

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

July 24, 2008


Hi Everyone,
Just a few "nerd notes":
1. I put up some more pictures on the Construction Sblog from the last three weeks. You can check them out at http://gringiticasa.blogspot.com
2. Also, I have a confession: I have a Facebook thing. I don't really use it, but it's there, and it's been there for a year or two, I think. I can't remember. In any case, people keep mentioning it, so if you're able to figure out how to add me as a friend, then you can do so. I'll try to reciprocate. Like I said, though, I don't really use it.
3. I just noticed that the Colorado dot on the clustrmap (the map on the left of the screen) is now officially "big-ass," which means that there have been over a thousand (yes, one comma zero zero zero!) visits to this site from Colorado since I put the map up. Sure, about 6 or 7 hundred were probably from my mom, but still, for the other 300 times that other people read this, thanks a lot! I deeply appreciate that people find my blog interesting enough to be at least a temporary alternative to...well, I guess their usual favorite online porn sites? I don't know what you people are looking at, if it's not SITZBLOG.
Still, thanks!
-The MANagement

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

July 16, 2008

SPECIAL REPORT: A Whole Season In A Day

Based on the title of this blog, you might assume that I’ll be making some comment about the 2-season climate in Costa Rica. If you assumed that, you’d be wrong, because this was all just a trick to pull you into yet another long-ass, rambling post about Smallville! Gotcha! Mwa ha ha!

The title is actually somewhat accurate, though, because this past Saturday, I decided that I’d watch all of Smallville's Season 2 in one day. As you may know, my gentle readers, I am no stranger to the idea of donating one’s body to scientific investigation. However, I’m not like those sissies that wait until their bodies are dead to turn ‘em over to the goons in the lab coats. I say, “Bring on the medical testing, and bring it on while I’m alive, so I can profit from and enjoy it!” (For another example of me selling my body to science, click here to check out this story on my website about the time I ended up getting food poisoning in a sleep lab!)

So, in the spirit of scientific discovery and extreme sloth, I undertook this DVD-watching adventure. Ever since my friend and coworker Angie told me she had the first six seasons of Smallville on DVD, I was trying to think of an interesting way to write about the show. I watched all of season one, and although it took me over a week to do so, I started noticing a few trends that I wanted to mention. That evolved into the idea of watching all of Season 2 in a single day, and it all snowballed from there.

So, Dear Readers, in the spirit of Junior High Biology class here is my lab report:




Watch all 23 episodes of Smallville Season 2 over one 24-hour period. Monitor the effects on my own person, and keep statistics related to my experience, as well as the content of the show itself.


First Hypothesis: This experiment will turn out to be more difficult than it sounds, and by the end I will “wig out,” to use a bit of scientific jargon.

Second Hypothesis: My wife Angela will try to discourage me from doing this project, citing her concerns for my health.

Her possible dissuasion techniques may include:

--1. Requests for me to get off my ass to wash dishes, fold laundry, or to visit in-laws;

--2. Open and blatant threats;

--3. Suggestions of sexual relations upon theoretical pre-emptive termination of experiment; and

--4. Offering me enough alcohol to fall asleep on the couch and thereby dissuading me from continuing experiment.

Third Hypothesis: Clark Kent will finally grow a pair and tell Lana how he feels.

Fourth Hypothesis: Clark’s father, Jonathan Kent, will say “son” a lot and dispense lots of upright and fatherly advice for his Clark, as well as for audiences at home.

Fifth Hypothesis: For one reason or another, at some point in each episode, Clark Kent will be sitting in the hay loft of his barn and looking at the sky, and he’ll be surprised by someone.

Sixth Hypothesis: If season one is any indication, season two will probably have a lot of truck crashes.


For this experiment, I started the DVD set at 8:54 am on the morning of Saturday, July 12, 2008 and finished the last DVD at 4:43 am on Sunday, July 13, 2008. (I guess I shouldn’t have taken that break to look at our house construction site and drink beer with Harvey, the guy who guards things there). Each episode lasts an hour on network television, but without commercials, they last only about 42 minutes each. I decided I could take breaks to make coffee or popcorn, as well as to do small things around the house. To stay awake, I also used the exercise bike during two episodes. I also kept a lab notebook to document episode content, coffee consumed, and the number of times Jonathan Kent said the second-person use of the word “son.”


The overall goal of this experiment was a success, as I watched all 23 episodes in less than 24 hours. I also learned a lot about the show, and I’ve decided that the best actor is Michael Rosenbaum, who plays Lex Luthor (See Figure 1.3 in Appendix 2). I know he’s supposed to turn bad later and that we’re not supposed to like him, but just like Carl Anderson’s Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, the villain has got the best acting chops in the whole cast, and he generally steals the show.

I disproved my first hypothesis, because the experiment wasn’t that strenuous at all, and in fact it was somewhat enjoyable. At the very least, it beats a day traveling by bus or writing lesson plans.

The second hypothesis, that Angela would try to discourage me from watching 18 or so hours of a TV show, was also disproved for the most part. She actually tried to watch with me on three different occasions, albeit without much success (See Figure 1.6). I started the experiment in the morning while she was in Palmares at an Excel computer class she’s taking, because I thought if I had a 5- or 6-episode head-start by the time she got home, it’d be easier to convince her that I should continue. However, she put up little resistance when she got home, since she herself is a Smallville fan. She started to watch episode 6 with me, but fell asleep on the couch halfway through. After a nap in bed, she came back out to the living room for a few mid-season episodes, but once again fell asleep on the couch eventually (See Figure 1.7). As my beautiful, squinty-eyed wife stumbled to bed around 1 am, she made some sort of comment about “Mi amor…(mumbled, unintelligible)...bed,” but that was all, really.

The third hypothesis had mixed results. Although Clark finally told Lana how he felt about her, it’s still very debatable whether he really “grew a pair” or not. (Figure 1.9)

The fourth hypothesis—that actor Jon Schneider, who plays Clark Kent’s father, would say “son” a lot--was proved time and time again throughout the experimental period. As you’ll see in the statistics appendix, Jonathan Kent addressed Clark Kent by using the noun “son” 43 times throughout the season. That’s an average of 1.87 times per episode, and since this word was so ubiquitous, I may have missed one occasion here or there. I didn’t keep track of it, but “son” was also often present in the same sentence as “your mother,” as in, “Your mother’s right, son; you should be careful with Lex.” (Figure 1.12)

There must be something about Clark, too, because other older, male characters called him "son," as well. This is interesting because I am almost 100% positive that in my whole life, neither my father nor anyone else has ever addressed me as “son.” Not once. This is not to say that my dad doesn’t care about me, though, because I can’t recall hearing any father that I know address their sons with “son.” I think this might just be an artificial construction that a teleplay writer in Los Angeles came up with to make the Kents seem more down-home and rural. In any case, by the end, Jonathan Kent’s country-fried platitudes were getting a bit hard to swallow, even IF actor Jon Schneider was in the original Dukes of Hazzard TV show (and I say “if” because this is absolutely a guess that I’m not sure about, and I’m not curious enough to investigate it right now).

The fifth hypothesis, about a daydreaming Clark Kent being surprised in his hayloft, was mostly true (Figure 1.10). However, this only happened 16 times throughout season, and on some occasions, Clark wasn’t alone (like when he was with Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl), and Clark also even surprised a waiting Lana on a few occasions. I don’t know what it is about this guy, but you’d think that someone with X-ray vision and all these other enhanced abilities—fuckin’ A, he’s Superman, after all—wouldn’t continually be caught looking through a telescope or watching a sunset with his guard down. As Angie said, “God, Emo Clark sucks.”

The sixth hypothesis—that season two would be as full of truck crashes as season one--was only partially proved. There were certainly a lot of transit emergencies, though. In terms of pure pickup-truck-related disasters, season two came up a bit short. Episode 1 and episode 7 had three pickup-truck crashes, but those were all actually flashbacks or continuations from season 1. There was a full-blown pickup-truck explosion in episode 10 (Figure 1.11 and 1.16), Clark crashes the family truck into a ditch in episode 16, and in episode 18, a bully’s pickup-truck catches on fire. Episode 3 had a jeep/van crash, but Pete at least came to the rescue in a truck. Speaking of Pete, he also managed to crash two Camaros this season. I’m not sure if reincarnation is true, but if it is, I sure as hell don’t want to come back as any sort of vehicle in Smallville.


Not only was the experiment a success for the most part, but the television show’s second season was also very good. I have come to a variety of conclusions.

Some of the lameness of the first season seems to have gotten worked out, and the acting also improved a bit. The storylines have a bit more coherency, and the writers seem to have moved beyond the arena of Smallville High School a bit more often. Still, I know this show is obviously a fantasy series based on a comic book, but so many high-schoolers get killed off so nonchalantly in such bizarre ways in this TV show, it makes you wonder how they’ll have any kids left for the inevitable graduation episode.

Secondly, the philosopher Zach Wanerus once asked in the Comments section of an earlier post, “So, are you a Lana Guy or a Chloe Guy?” I’m still not sure how to answer this, nor do I understand all the implications behind the selection of the person I might choose. Are we talking looks or attitude? I think Lana’s meant to be the “prettier” one, and Chloe’s supposed to be the “cute indie chick.” I guess I like Chloe’s personality better, but I can’t get past her gums. There, I said it. Maybe it’s because the only thing receding more than my hairline is my gum-line, but I just don’t like big gums. And Chloe’s got big gums.

After thinking more, though, I think that whether you’re pro-Lana or pro-Chloe, it’s probably best to be anti-Clark. Seriously, man, just ask one of those chicks out, or at least tell them how you feel. Shit or get off the pot, Supertool (See Figure 1.8). Still, I suppose that if these three characters had good communication, it’d do away with about 80% of the conflict and tension in this season. In the end, to answer Zach’s question, I guess I’m a Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl Guy (Figure 1.13 and 1.14). She’s prettier, she’s cooler, she communicates her feelings in no uncertain terms, and she’s probably a real wolf in the sack. Literally. (Figure 1.15)

Finally, I also concluded that although there are many benefits to watching an entire season of a TV show in one day, it’s still probably best to spread it over a bit more time.

Oh, and one other source of problems or incorrect statistics could be due to “human error.” I’m not sure why, but we always seemed to write that in our lab reports in junior high and high school.


Number of hours from start to finish of project: 19 hours, 11 minutes.

Number of large mugs of coffee consumed by experimenter: Only 6, surprisingly; (3 with coffee liqueur)

Recumbent Bike Use, Total Stats (See Figure 1.2): 1 hour, 16 mins; 270 calories; 24.1 km

Number of times Clark is addressed as “son”: 46; (43 by his father)

Number of times someone is surprised while hanging out in the Kent Farm hay loft: 16

Episodes it takes until Clark finally kisses Lana: 22 (out of 23)

Number of vehicle crashes: 11; (7 involve pickup-trucks)

Three things I should have counted: Hospital beds, American flags, and the phrase “save + (noun)”

Seasons to go: 4


Figure 1.1 - Here is a fleeting glimpse of a bull that was walking around Berlin and bellowing like a horny moose for much of episodes 3 and 4. He was hanging out in the front yard for a while, and for a few moments I thought the Apocalypse was upon us. Oh, and the slightly-visible house in the left of the picture is the one that we’re building!

Figure 1.2 - As Jonathan Kent was put into jail after being accused of shooting Lionel Luthor, all I could do was sit aside and helplessly pedal my stationary recumbent bicycle. I know you’re innocent, Jonathan! They must have framed you! Hang in there, and we’ll get to the bottom of this!

Figure 1.3 - Lex Luthor, as played by Michael Rosenbaum. He’s the best actor in the cast, as well as the biggest hottie…that handsome, hairless heartbreaker.

Figure 1.4 - Chloe telling Clarke that she loves him…as he lays unconscious! WTF, guys?! With all these special abilities that the townspeople got from those meteor rocks, you’d think that at least someone in Smallville would have been granted amazing communication skills! Still, I like Chloe, and by the end of season 2, I just kind of feel sad for her and her unrequited love...
Oh, so now I can’t have feelings?!

Figure 1.5 - A visual summary of season 2, deconstructed: Clarke is surrounded by two women he cares about, and who care about him, but he basically just drags them both along for 23 episodes; Lana (left) is dreamily looking at Clark, but she doesn’t say shit, either; Chloe (right) is mad at Clarke because he did or didn’t do something; and Pete is somehow both right in the middle of things, yet his character is completely superficial and uninteresting. I have a feeling that in season 3 or 4 they probably kill Pete off, a la Lana’s ex-boyfriend Whitney (aka Shitney), or else he “moves away to Metropolis,” a la Aunt Nell and all the other actors who demanded too much money in their contract negotiations.

Figure 1.6 - My wonderful yet tired wife, Angela, “just closing her eyes for a minute” during episode 16 or so.

Figure 1.7 - Angela during episode 18 or so, no longer even keeping up the pretense of watching the show. She might not have caught all of this particular episode.

Figure 1.8 - If you’ve watched Smallville, then you know that this is basically what season 2 is all about, all wrapped up into a single freeze-frame picture.

Figure 1.9 - Clark Kent, the man who can shoot fire from his eyes and bullshit from his mouth. You know, where I’m from, I seem to recall that the farm boys wore much less flannel plaid and many more Metallica T-shirts.

Figure 1.10 - The Future Man of Steel in his hayloft, letting his guard down to look at the stars. Aww, what a Sensitive-90s-Type-of-Guy.
Clark: “Ahh, such solitude here in this hay loft, where I can be alone with my thoughts and just…oh! Hey, (insert name of Smallville character, probably Lana)! I didn’t hear you come in!”

Figure 1.11 - Yet another Smallville truck explodes. I hear that the Smallville Allstate office has an employee whose sole job is to deal with truck explosions.

Figure 1.12 - Jonathan Kent, as played by Jon Schneider, as he begins a phrase with, “Son,…” (Yes, I put the subtitles on when I watch DVDs in English). Clark Kent may be the Simple Farm Boy With A Chassis of Steel and a Heart of Gold, but Jonathan Kent is the Original King of Down-Home Folksy Schlock.

Figure 1.13 - Clark (with his shirt open in swarthy Costa Rican style) meets Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl.

Figure 1.14 - Sure, she's hot, she doesn't play little reindeer games, and she talks about cultural conservation or something deep like that, but...

Figure 1.15 - ...Oh, whoops, she's also a crazy-ass angry wolf.

Figure 1.16 - I leave you with this final image, which can also summarize season 2 of Smallville in its own way: Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl looks on as yet another Smallville truck explodes. It figures that the one girl who's straightforward with Clark and who doesn't have loads of emotional baggage turns out to be half dog.

Anyhow, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this report, despite its girth. I’ll see you next time for the Season 3 Science Experiment, right here at the same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

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

July 14, 2008

Cuidado Con Ese Machete!

I found this article in the paper late last month, and since then I’ve been meaning to comment on it. As you all probably know, I am very interested in machetes, so this article caught my attention right away. When I see the word “machete,” the same thing happens as when most people see the words “sex” or “free”: it just grabs my attention.

In any case, the title of this article is “Killed With His Own Machete,” and the sub-title is “They thought it was a natural death, but an autopsy revealed that it was a homicide.” And if you think about it, how can a title like this not catch one’s attention? It seems like Costa Rican papers are always full of bizarre and violent crap like this. When I read the papers, I sometimes feel like I’m watching a cop show like Law and Order: Machete Victims Unit or CSI: Ticolandia because some of the stuff seems too overblown and made up to be true.

In fact, just a day or two before this particular story, I read another story about a guy who stole a cow in order to sell it to a slaughterhouse. That’s strange alright, but the weirdest thing is that he crammed the live cow into the backseat a Hyundai Elantra. Fortunately, the cops rose to the occasion that time and stopped the guy while he was driving. The police recognized that although both cows and Hyundai Elantras are a dime a docena in this country, they still don’t necessarily go together. So they stopped the guy and saved the cow, whose image was all over the news, with it’s big, dumb-ass head sticking out of the car’s back window. One particular news show even tried to re-create the scenario using another cow, but they were unable to get the poor beast into the car on that particular occasion.

Bueno, what it all boils down to is that here in Costa Rica, it’s like Open Mic Night at the Amateur Criminal Improv Theater. And the cops also seem like they don’t have much of a clue…that is, if you even see cops, which seem to be as endangered down here as the polar bear. I hope you realize that I’m not trying to make light of this poor man’s death/murder, but it’s just sad that they needed an autopsy to figure out that a dead body equipped with both an empty machete sheath and a “cranial depression” might be more suspicious than a natural death.

No wonder everyone puts bars on their windows here.

In any case, I’ve been saving articles about crime, and I’ll eventually get back with a larger, more comprehensive analysis of crime in Costa Rica. Stay tuned.

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

July 5, 2008


I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned the TV show Smallville a few times on this blog, but here I go again. I don’t really watch the show that much, but it’s just that I saw most of this “last” season on Sunday nights at Angela’s parents’ house, and I have to admit that it’s a pretty good show. I know that the syndicated episodes here are at least one or maybe even two seasons behind the US, and it’s also a bit confusing because I never saw any of the first four or five seasons. At the same time, another network station is playing the older seasons in syndication, and now I’m not sure whether Clark is going to be back in high school or if he’s going to be headed to Lex Luthor and Lana Lang’s wedding.

In any case, the company I work for has cable, and there’s usually a TV or two turned on in the lunchroom. The other day, it was tuned to some English station, and I saw Lex’s bald head (that handsome bastard) and I thought, “Hmm, Smallville; I’ll check it out while I have a bit of coffee.” So I sat down and noticed that the voices were really, really weird. Then I realized that I’d never actually seen the show in English, and that I had only heard the dubbed Spanish voices. It’s strange how much a voice can help form your impression of someone.

In the Spanish Smallville, most of the male characters have extra-deep voices, and they sound like a typical male from any run-of-the-mill telenovela. And the women have exaggeratedly high-pitched voices, or maybe it seems like that in comparison to their male counterparts. Basically, though, the English voices were weird, weird, weird; it was like waking up one morning and going to the breakfast table, only to discover that your entire family went through puberty overnight. Lionel Luthor sounded especially strange. In Spanish, he sounds like the type of guy who’ll seduce a room full of women and then steal their money, but in English he just sounds like an old(er) Michael Douglas.

Oh well, I suppose it’s just another one of those things that gets lost in the translation and dubbing. And by the way, “Esmoby” is how they pronounce the word “Smallville” around these Spanish-speaking parts. But that’s another story altogether.

(Extra note: Just yesterday my coworker Angie told me that she had all six seasons of Smallville, and that she'd loan them to me and Angela. Thanks Angie, and for everyone else, you can expect to hear from me again in about 7 weeks!)

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

July 3, 2008


Hi everyone. I’m not sure how things are where you are, but here they’re busy. The house is still progressing, but it’s in a stage where we need to make a lot more decisions about details, and decision making is a skill that neither Angela nor I possess. Also, I’ve been pretty busy at work, and had to work on Saturday. And this coming weekend, Angela and I are going away for a few days for our first anniversary. Man, how the time flies!

Finally, although the car accident was about 25 days ago, we’re still sorting out a lot of bullshit, this time mainly with the court, but also with the company that owns the truck that hit me, the driver, the state-run insurance company, the traffic cop that never turned in his report, the new clerk entering data at the San Ramón courthouse and, of course, the mechanic. It’s a veritable Baumkuchen of inefficiency, bureaucracy, and incompetence. On the upside, I’ve learned my lesson. Next time I get in a car accident, I should be sure to carefully record every single piece of data about the driver, and I should also be careful to take him hostage until the repairs are completed and paid for. So, sorry that I keep bitching about this, but it’s the main reason I’ve not been posting more crap lately.

What this all boils down to is this: once again, I’ll probably have to rely on these automatic postings that I’ve been setting up. However, I have the feeling that no one really notices, and probably no one sees the time stamp on each posting, and no one probably realizes that I’m not actually at the internet café at strange hours like 6 AM.

In the meantime, hope everyone is doing OK. Above is a picture of my car, so that you can marvel at the scant damage done, as compared to the amount of pissing and moaning I’ve been doing, as well as the repair costs and time involved.

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