January 28, 2009

Sitzmedia: "Eastward to Tartary," Part 2

Last weekend I finished up Robert D. Kaplan’s book “Eastward to Tartary,” which I mentioned in a post a few days ago. The end was as good as the beginning, and as the book and the author’s journey came to a close, I fantasized about packing my bags to go and see with my own eyes the destruction and squalor left over in the former Soviet republics of southwest Asia.
Which I probably won’t do. But still, it was a good book, and just by reading it so voraciously, I feel a bit smarter.

I bring this up because I came across an interesting quote. As I mentioned in the other post, the book was written in 2000, but Kaplan showed an uncanny ability to predict the changing fortunes of the parts of the world that he visited. Among these instances, I found the following quote from pages 266-267. Hot on the footsteps of the Russian invasion of Georgia, it seems all the more foreboding:

“From what I learned over the next two weeks, I was left with the queasy apprehension that was Vietnam was to the 1960s and 1970s, what Lebanon and Afghanistan were to the 1980s, and what the Balkans were to the 1990s, the Caspian region might be to the first decade of the new century: an explosive region that draws in the Great Powers.”

Obviously, in the time that’s passed since the book was published, the world has witnessed the September 11th attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ethnic struggles throughout the world, particularly in Africa. Kaplan obviously couldn’t have known that these things would happen, but that still doesn’t discount the prescient statement above. It gave me pause, at least.

In any case, if you’re looking for an erudite examination of a volatile but very important region of the world—especially if you want it to read like a slightly adventurous travelogue written by a man with the combined outlook of a renowned geopolitical journalist and a Lonely Planet guide—then check out this book.

Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus

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

January 27, 2009

Going Gatsby On You

Man, I think Tuesdays are even worse than Mondays. Mondays hit you so hard you don't even feel it. But Tuesdays do the same, only they add on the realization that you have to put up with four more days of this crap.

I was going to put up another quote thing, but I think I'll do that tomorrow. Gotta get to the store to buy some bread before I get accosted by a drunken hick (the Palmares Festival is in full swing).

I'm not that into today...

P.S. - Happy Birthday, Angie!

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January 26, 2009

Sitzmedia: MP3 Thing Test

I'm just seeing if this thing works.

I've been listening to this song a lot.

Please tell me what you think, and if it works for you.

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

Sitzmedia: "The Fall" In The Summer (Or Winter)

One thing about Costa Rica which has fairly confounded me, and which continues to do so to this day, is the way they designate seasons here. Right now it’s January, and here in Costa Rica we’re basically in what they call “Summer,” although in the United States and, indeed, nearly the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s Winter.

Here in Coast Tasty, “Summer” goes from approximately the end of December to some vague date in April or May. At that point, the rainy season (or “Winter”) kicks in. Still, there are quite a few nice days up through July and possibly even August, but around September, things start getting rainy, moldy, and altogether shitty right about then. There’s no real Fall, since different plants seem to lose leaves at different times, and those varying plant lifecycles also mean there’s no identifiable Spring.***

This actually is a very circuitous introduction to a movie review. You see, although it’s “Summer” here, it was actually more “wintery” this last weekend, with overcast skies and even a bit of drizzling rain yesterday. That meant that Angela and I had to scrap our plans of going to the pool and getting a sunburn, and instead we stayed at home and watched a movie called “The Fall.”

Paul gave the movie to Angela for Christmas, and I guess he explained it to her a bit when she opened it up. I even remember him mentioning it on his blog some time ago, but I guess I was somehow confused, because when we started watching it yesterday, I was under the impression that it was a French movie. It’s not. It IS the type of movie that continually pops into your thoughts for the next few days, though, and that’s why I’m writing about it now.

If you’ve seen the movie, maybe you can post a comment on what you thought about it. If you’ve not seen it, it’s sort of like “The Princess Bride,” if that movie had taken place in a hospital in the 1920s and Fred Savage’s grandpa had been suicidal. Also, this time around, instead of--well, Fred Savage--the protagonist is an adorable 5-year-old girl from Russia or Albania or some other place where people wore scarves. So I guess the two films are not exactly alike, but there are a surprising number of similarities between the two movies--all of which I’m sure more astute and nerdy bloggers have already commented upon.

Still, both contain an underlying theme of convalescence through fantasy storytelling, and that’s worth recognizing. In any case, I’m getting off topic here, and I basically wanted to bring up this discussion of “The Fall” based on my own thoughts and reactions to the movie. I think that no one can argue that “The Fall” is visually stunning. In fact, I had to watch the special features before I even believed that the places where the crew filmed were real. But what else does anyone know about this movie? What is your opinion? Maybe you’ve seen something that awakened a similar feeling in you—whether it be nostalgia, amazement, hate, or whatever. Anyhow, if anyone feels like sharing, please do.


***SEASONAL BONUS!***If you can explain the following conundrum to me, I will consider you a genius. OK, when I started teaching at my present job, I left one class to go teach another one every evening around 5:30. As I walked outside to my second classroom, I often was blessed with amazing views of the sunset. In a period starting in March and ending in July or so, I observed these daily sunsets. The physical point where the sun dipped below the horizon was gradually moving a little bit every day.

Now, it does that in Colorado, too, and as America’s Summer comes into being, the days get longer and the sun sets later every day. That's normal. However, in Costa Rica, the opposite was the case, and the sun would set a little bit earlier every day. Maybe I was forming my own personal time zone by just drinking WAAAY too much coffee, but that just doesn’t seem right at all. I know that we’re much closer to the equator than in Colorado, but how could this be possible, seeing as we’re still in the northern hemisphere? Anybody got anything?

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

January 23, 2009

Answer to Photo Quiz

So, remember this picture from the other day?

It turns out that the picture was taken in... (drumroll please)...

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran!

I only bring up this picture thing again to make a small point (Fade in after-school special music; we're gonna learn something more valuable than mere geography here, kids). The point is probably cliché, but it is interesting to see where our prejudices and stereotypes can sometimes take our imaginations.

Now, I'm not sure how I came across this image, but I think it had something to do with looking at a map of Santiago's metro system, and one thing led to another, as is often the case. Suddenly I was looking at the Wikipedia page devoted to Tehran, and the pictures, especially the one above, really caught my eye. "Weird," I thought. "That's what I'd imagine some place like Salt Lake City would look like." But in fact, Salt Lake City looks like this:

...which ironically looks like a mental picture I would have formed of Tehran, before I saw the first picture.

So what's my point? That cities dominated by different branches of right-wing fundamentalist politics can deceive our stereotypes? Well, that's part of it. But I also think that there's something to be said about these stereotypes themselves. After all--be honest here--how many of you, if asked to form associations upon hearing the words "Tehran" or "Iran," would have come up with something positive? How many would have thought of Ahmadinejad, or terrorists, or Arabs, or dusty deserts? I, for one, probably would have.

Yet here we have a picture that shows us that despite our preconceived notions of our world, the home of our supposed enemy doesn't look that scary after all... in fact, it looks like a pretty nice place to go on a resort vacation and get in some quality time by the fireplace after a long day of skiing.

And Salt Lake City looks like a suburban skate park.

So, if anyone's headed to Iran any time soon for a bit of tourism, give me a call. I'll bring my curiosity, my camera and, of course, my snow boots.

PS: Interestingly enough, according to this site's Clustrmap, Sitzblog has even had one visitor from Iran! (Scroll down on the page that opens to see individual country statistics)

(Both pictures copyright-released and available on Wikimedia Commons)

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January 22, 2009

Sitzmedia: A Great Book With A Huge Title

Over the last couple of days, I've been reading this book:

It was given to me (or maybe just loaned, I can't remember) by my friend Julien Katchinoff when we were in Colorado for Pierogi Sunday. He and his wife Martha were the ones in Peace Corps Georgia, and he highly recommended me this book.

Well, he was right. It's a great book. Robert D. Kaplan travels from Hungary to Turkmenistan via many other countries (most of which will cause you to continually flip back to the maps on the first few pages of the book). The book was written in 2000 about a trip he took in 1998, but it still seems current and exciting, somehow. The writing is vivid without being overly flowery, and the end result is that you find yourself beginning to care about countries like Bulgaria, which before would have barely caused a blip on your World Geography Radar.

Here' a typical excerpt, from page 76:

"American and Russian values in Eastern Europe were still at war: the humanism demonstrated by a homeless shelter for an abused minority and a university to foster tolerance pitted against the absolutism and thuggery of criminal oligarchies. Bulgaria was a poignant, if obscure, battleground in this struggle."

Maybe I'm just a geography nerd. After all, my students half-mocked, half-challenged me to name world capitals during English class (In hindsight, I'm starting to think that they didn't really care if I knew the capital of Somalia, and I suspect they were just trying to distract me). But geography nerd or not, there's surely something interesting in this book for anyone who's interested in post-Communism world politics, travelogues, or just plain good writing.

And in an interesting twist, when I arrived to work today after reading my book in the back seat of my carpool, I looked up and what should I see but a Lada Niva, Soviet automotive engineering at it's best! As I watched this rare Cold-War beauty chug and smoke off into the distance toward the freeway, I reluctantly closed my book, eager to begin another new chapter during my lunch break.

(Lada picture from Wikimedia Commons)

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January 21, 2009

Sitzmedia: Bill Bryson Nebraska Excerpt

Hi everyone, we're back with another Bill Bryson quote from The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America ...although these quotes can probably be more properly termed "excerpts," instead of just mere quotes.

Frankly, I'm not sure if this is OK to do. I've tried doing a bit of internet research, and I can't figure out how much of a book or magazine I can excerpt and still be legit. If anyone knows, please feel free to tell me. And if you're Bill Bryson and you don't want me putting up so much of your book on my crappy site, feel free to tell me that, too.

In any case, today's excerpt is about Nebraska. Personally, I really can't say enough bad things about Nebraska. I know that this is a sticking point with some of my friends, since many of them have relatives who were unlucky enough to be left behind in Nebraska when their families migrated west towards a more promising future in Colorado. And I definitely hate Nebraska's football team. This is for two reasons: 1) I hate Nebraska and, 2) I hate football teams in general.

As an extra aside, this rabid dislike of Nebraska came to an interesting head when I went to the University of Colorado, because my university's team routinely played in games against Nebraska. But, you see, I also hated Colorado's team (see Reason 2 above). This meant that I had to strike a delicate balance and occasionally root for the home team, if only to blow those corn-husking bastards out of the water.

I've probably introduced this quote enough, so I'll let Bryson take over from here:

(From The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, page 207-208):

“I was headed for Nebraska. Now there’s a sentence you don’t want to have to say too often if you can possibly help it. Nebraska must be the most unexciting of all the states. Compared with it, Iowa is paradise. Iowa at least is fertile and green and has a hill. Nebraska is like a 75,000-square-mile bare patch. In the middle of the state is a river called the Platte, which at some times of the year is two or three miles wide. It looks impressive until you realize that it is only about four inches deep. You could cross it in a wheelchair. On a landscape without any contours of depressions to shape it, the Platte just lies there, like a drink spilled across a tabletop. It is the most exciting thing in the state.

“When I was growing up, I used to wonder how Nebraska came to be lived in. I mean to say, the original settlers, creaking across America in their covered wagons, had to have passed through Iowa, which is green and fertile and has, as I say, a hill, but stopped short of Colorado, which is green and fertile and has a mountain range, and settled instead for a place that is flat and brown and full of stubble and prairie dogs. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Do you know what the original settlers made their houses of? Dried mud. And do you know what happened to all those mud houses when the rainy season came every year? That’s correct, they slid straight into the Platte River.

“For a long time I couldn’t decide whether the original settlers in Nebraska were insane or just stupid, and then I saw a stadium full of University of Nebraska football fans in action on a Saturday and realized that they must have been both. I may be a decade or so out of touch here but when I left America, the University of Nebraska didn’t so much play football as in engage in weekly ritual slaughters. They were always racking up scores of 58-3 against hapless opponents. Most schools, when they get a decent lead, will send in a squad of skinny freshmen in unsoiled uniforms to let them run around a bit and get dirty and, above all, to give the losers a sporting chance to make the score respectable. It’s called fair play.

“Not Nebraska. The University of Nebraska would send in flamethrowers if it were allowed. Watching Nebraska play football every week was like watching hyenas tearing open a gazelle. It was unseemly. It was unsporting. And of course the fans could never get enough of it. To sit among them with the score 66-0 and watch them bray for more blood is a distinctly unnerving experience, particularly when you consider that a lot of these people must work at the Strategic Air Command in Omaha. If Iowa State ever upset Nebraska, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they nuked Ames.”

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January 20, 2009

Photo Quiz

Please take a moment to look at the image below:

OK, now that you've had a look, think about it for a minute.
The question of the day is this:

Where was this picture taken?

I'll bring it up again in a new post a few days from now, but I wanted you to have a chance to put up any guesses that you might have in the meantime. Thanks for playing!

(Picture is a copyright-released image from Wikimedia Commons)

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Sitzmedia: Bill Bryson Quote

This will be my first official contribution to the "Sitzmedia" idea that I mentioned yesterday. I was recently reading the book The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson. I liked a few passages that I wanted to share, mainly because they were funny or talked shit about Nebraska. So, I'll put up the first quote in a moment, but first I wanted to mention something about Bryson.

He's brilliant.

Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors. I believe--although this belief is not entirely confirmed-- that my friend Brad Bonner loaned me one of Bryson's books when we were exchange students together in Germany ten years ago. Ah yes, 1999. The German air was cool, my head was covered in hair, and a sense of a promising future filled with Eurotrash permeated every aspect of our lives. Basically, we were partying like it was 1999.

Brad loaned me Bryson's book, and even then it was 10 years old. Neither those 10 years, nor the 10 more that have passed since I first read this book, have diminished its entertainment value in any way. In the book Bryson basically drives around the US in a shitty Corvair, and snarkiness (and excellent writing) ensue. I can thoroughly recommend this book or any other one by Bryson, to anyone who enjoys humorous non-fiction writing. I'll put up a quote about Columbus today, and tomorrow I'll put up the aforementioned Nebraska-slamming excerpt. Hope you enjoy:

(From page 147 of "The Lost Continent," by Bill Bryson):

“It was the Columbus Day weekend and the roads were busy. Columbus has always seemed to me an odd choice of hero for a country that celebrates success as America does because he was such a dismal failure. Consider the facts: he made four long voyages to the Americas, but never once realized that he wasn’t in Asia and never found anything worthwhile. Every other explorer was coming back with exciting new products like potatoes and tobacco and nylon stockings, and all Columbus found to bring home were some puzzled-looking Indians—and he thought they were Japanese. (“Come on, you guys, let’s see a little sumo.”)

“But perhaps Columbus’ most remarkable shortcoming was that he never actually saw the land that was to become the United States. This surprises a lot of people. They imagine him trampling over Florida, saying, “You know, this would make a nice resort.” But in fact his voyages were all spent in the Caribbean and bouncing around the swampy, bug-infested coasts of Central America. If you ask me, the Vikings would make far more worthy heroes for America. For one thing, they did actually discover it. On top of that, the Vikings were manly and drank out of skulls and didn’t take crap from anybody. Now that’s the American way.”

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January 19, 2009

Sitzmedia: Introduction

"A while back... we agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films -- these things matter! Call me shallow; it's the fucking truth."
-Rob Gordon,
High Fidelity

If you are with my family for Christmas, you'll notice one thing about the presents that we give each other: about 85% of them are books, CDs, or movies. And that may even be a low estimate. I was thinking about this phenomenon recently, and it also struck me that many of my friendships and conversations in the past used discussions about books, movies, and music as a centerpiece, or as a kind of springboard to a deeper conversation. When I talk to my friend Chris, for example, we can talk about almost anything, but a lot of the time we talk about the last movie we saw. Or the new music we're listening to. Or what book we definitely have to read when we get a chance. And this is fine, in my opinion, because it's just a part of a friendship, and not the whole friendship summed up in something material and shallow.

Still, being in Costa Rica isn't too conducive to such conversations. Movies and music are popular here, but they don't seem to carry nearly as much importance as they do in the U.S. (which probably goes a long way towards explaining Reggaeton music). And books? Well, people just don't seem to read here.

Also, my wife Angela is slowly getting into these types of things, but growing up on a coffee farm around here seems to equate to infrequent visits to the movie theaters, to say the least. When I first asked her what music she liked, her list was two groups long: Bon Jovi and Savage Garden. In the meantime, we've gotten to the point where we can discuss movies we've seen together recently, but she still doesn't have an entire quarter-century of pop culture references under her belt.

So, in an attempt to have at least a one-way "conversation," I came up with the idea of "Sitzmedia." I'm still developing it, but I'm thinking it can be a place where I can talk with you--or even with myself, if need be--about what I've been reading, listening to, and watching. I was originally just going to put up some quotes from books and samples from songs, but I'm thinking this could be a lot more interesting, depending on how I/we do it.

If you read something under a Sitzmedia heading, I would certainly encourage you to leave a comment, and maybe this can develop into something cool. If it does, I may be able to make a different blog out of this. Or, if it sucks and it bombs, I'll just scrap it.

Those are my thoughts for now...

By the way, I think I'll include some sort of links to the movies, books, and music, either like in the quotation above, or the link below. That's the idea, so hopefully something interesting comes of it!

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

January 13, 2009

A Pantsload of Pictures From Colorado

I thought that it would be a good idea to finally put up some pictures from Colorado, because if I don't do it now, I'll procrastinate until the next time we go there for Christmas. I'm hoping to put up a whole collection of my favorite pictures from 2008 on ryansitzman.com, but we'll see if/when that actually happens. Anyhow, on our trip Angela and I both took a ton of pictures, but here are some of my favorites that I took:

Julien "The Catch" Katchinoff looks on as Angela prepares to down some Georgian firewater during the famous Pierogi Sunday, back in December. Yeah, that's the Georgia from Asia, folks.

A table loaded up with delicious pierogies at the Wawro household. My friend--and Julien's wife--Martha Wawro's family celebrates Pierogi Sunday every year, and I've had the priveledge to attend and gorge myself on delicious Polish food on three separate occasions.

Our friend Dustin, with his cat Elvis. He and his wife Sam are pretty big into humiliating their cats to bring their egos down a bit. Just another reason why we're all such good friends, I guess.

"Whooodamn!" says Angela as she exhales the firey fumes from a delicious basket of Jim's Wings.

Angela and I by the tree.

My dad Clarence, my sister Di, and my brother Paul, all waiting for a train at Union Station in Denver. We all went up to Glenwood Springs for a few nights after New Year's.

Glenwood Springs: A gondola took us up the mountain to go on a tour of some caves.

My dad and Angela, on her first gondola ride. She's scared of heights, so of course my dad shook the gondola. I comforted Angela by telling her that if the gondola got stuck and we were forced to resort to cannibalism, we would be sure to eat my dad first.

On the gondola.

At the top of the mountain.

My dad riding a sort of rollercoaster down the mountain. It looked pretty fun, but I'd forgotten my hat at the hotel.

Angela with her dream booty.

Our faces become permanently disfigured due to a quick transition from hot springs water into the cold mountain air!

I suppose that if you don't understand the backstory to this picture, it could seem confusing and even offensive. See, earlier in the week, my family was...well, we were basically mocking Costa Rican superstitions about going from hot to cold, or vice versa. According to every Costa Rican I've ever talked to about this matter (and I've talked to a lot, believe me), such a cold/hot transition can cause strokes, permanent internal bleeding, miscarriages, hemhorroids and, of course, a permanent warping of one's face.
For example, Angela once yelled at me for taking off my shoes and socks, and then putting my bare feet on the tile. Also, it's been claimed that a woman cannot open a refrigerator for the last three months of her pregnancy, especially not if she was just near a stove. Or was it the three months after the pregnancy?
Oh well, bottom line is, Angela was a good sport, and she even suggested we take this picture to show to her family back home.

The hot springs in front of the Hotel Colorado.

A nice view on the train ride home.

Another view. Sure, the train is slower, but it's really comfortable, it serves wine, and you get views like this from your coach seat!

Another train shot: Colorado is nice.

Angela nearly derails the train with her patented Sonic Scream!

Some more crap.

Nature, etc. Train fun.

Union Station in Denver.

Angela came back to Costa Rica with a little surprise! A nice, soft pillow for traveling!

Angela in the Miami airport, with the pillow once again (Thank God; That's enough booty to gag a donkey!)

We had about nine hours--from midnight to 9 am--to kill in Miami's airport. Nine hours of loud, shitty, Dentist's-Office Jazz and TSA announcements blared over the PA system. Miami International Airport: Your Cuban food is tasty and your carpets are plush and available for sleeping, but your music and repetitive safety announcements suck balls.

Something weird: A can of sweet yerba maté, the weird grass/tea drink that I like from South America. ¡Che! ¡Boludo!

Angela zonked out at Miami International Airport.

So, that's it for now. Hope you liked the pictures. And a big thanks a hello to all our friends and family who we got to see during this trip home. If we missed you, I hope we'll get to see you next time!

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

The Fungus Among Us

I guess that one of the downsides of living in a really humid, damp, musty climate (besides a closet full of stinky, supposedly clean clothes that are almost moist to the touch) is apparently some sort of common fungus. And it would appear that I have this fungus on my chest, which causes me to get these pale little white circles, especially when I spend time in the sun. I'll spare you a picture of my chest, mainly because it's not so cool-looking, but also because it seems to be off-season for fungus, now that the daily downpours have stopped.

In any case, when I was in Colorado I went to my friend McGrew, who is a Physician's Assistant, and he prescribed me these two little pills. Which cost $8.00. But he claims they work, and I hope he's right. I even carefully followed his comprehensive prescription instructions, which are:

"Take 2 tablets by mouth in the morning with orange juice then sweat at noon and shower in the evening."

The people at the pharmacy said it was the strangest instructions they'd seen. Anyhow, let's hope they work, and if you come visit Coast Tasty, be sure to apply a thick, protective coat of Lamisil underneath your sunblock!

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

January 12, 2009

New House Construction Pictures

In case you keep track of these kind of things--and who doesn't?--I just updated the Construction Sblog with some new pictures of the house, including the beauty above.

"More! More!! More!!!" you say?

Well then, look no further than the Construction Sblog. Enjoy.

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

January 10, 2009

Book-in It!

Just a reminder, if you're a student looking for textbooks, be sure to check out the link to my amazon.com aStore on the left! You can get all the books you're looking for at a great price, and it helps support me and the site. They even have weird, obscure books you might never expect to find--like the textbooks my dad used when studying veterinary dentistry--so they're bound to have what you need.

Take Paul Sitzman. He just bought 8 books on the aStore, thereby helping his older brother! He's subsequently become healthy, wealthy, wise, and handsome beyond his wildest dreams!

Now compare Paul Sitzman--the spitting image of a cheerful, all-American boy--and compare him to the people who didn't buy books using my amazon.com aStore. Ewww. We're talking Losers. Creeps. Dictators. Perverts. Veneral Disease Sufferers. Al Qaeda. Reggaeton Singers. Prostitutes. Greedy Wall Street Villains.

Do you really want to be part of that latter group?

Didn't think so.

So, if you need some textbooks for the upcoming semester, please check out the aStore first, and I'll be forever grateful if you do so.

Can you really afford not to?

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

January 9, 2009

Was Tun, Wenn's Bebt?

As you may have heard on the news, there was an earthquake here in Costa Rica yesterday that measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. As I found out, that's pretty strong.

The only other earthquake I'd ever felt was the second time I ever went to Angela's house. When I felt the walls shake a bit on that occasion--since I'm a Colorado boy--I assumed the most logical conclusion: the washing machine must be off balance on the spin cycle.

Well, evidently someone was spinning a huge-ass load of clothes yesterday, cause everything shook quite a lot. I was at the bank during my lunch hour, since my debit card had been mysteriously deactivated. When the room started bouncing around, I looked up and saw a huge, dripping Air-Conditioning unit above my head and thought, "This doesn't look good." I didn't know what to do, however. Was I supposed to stay put? To run? To stand in a door frame? To stand in the middle of the room? Do you die if you're inside or outside during an earthquake? For a moment, I even had a mental message flash in my head that said, "Find a doorframe or, barring that, a basement, a bathtub, or a ditch." But wait, wasn't that what to do when there's a tornado? Man, natural disasters are confusing.

Everyone else in the bank was running toward the door, so I followed them. I at least seemed to remember that you're supposed to be calm in a disaster, so I was walking, but not too slowly, lest I be the only dumbass caught inside. I can't imagine the shame of knowing that my cause of death was getting crushed by an A/C unit at a mall.

So, I went outside with everyone else until the rumbling and shaking stopped about a minute later. I didn't know what to do, but since a few people were headed back into the mall, I did, too. After all, I had taken a number, and I wasn't about to lose my place in line.

After about another 40 minutes of waiting, I finally talked to a teller and got my debit card reactivated. I was headed back to work on foot, and I figured I'd take a shortcut through a department store. But the department store was closed with a big, fat chain on the glass door handles. In fact, all the other stores were closed, too. As I went outside, I noticed a ton of people milling about. Could the four of us that went back into the bank have been the only idiots around?
Answer: Probably.

As I walked back to the commercial park where I work, the DHL building's employees were outside, enjoying a nice smoke in the sun. And so were all the employees of all the other businesses in the park, including the call center where I work. Crap! I had wasted my whole lunch hour at the bank, only to find out that I was missing the opportunity to Hang Around Outside! For an office employee, that's like getting strep throat on a snow day!

So, for the next couple of hours--until I left work at 4, actually--people were kept outside while engineers inspected the buildings. There were minor damages, mostly involving ceiling tiles and other random crap falling, so we were pretty lucky. In many other parts of the country there were injuries, destroyed roads and houses, and even 15 or so deaths, mostly by landslides.

This is a weird post anyhow, so I'm not quite sure how to end it. I guess, let's just hope the next one is small, and that everyone stays safe.

Until then, hold on.

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January 5, 2009

Paul Sitzman, A Sitzman Extraordinaire

Just yesterday my brother Paul (the guy on the right in the picture above) put up a list of his favorite albums of 2008 on his blog. It's good stuff, and you should check it out. For one thing, the formatting of his post is breathtakingly beautiful. He even name-dropped my amazon site, which has actually been doing pretty well (thanks to the people who have been using it!). On that site, I also created a few pages where you can either buy Paul's albums of the year, or just download the MP3 versions. I've had very good luck with Amazon's MP3 downloads; they're cheaper than the itunes store's, and they're also more compatible with other players. Plus, you can get them from Costa Rica, unlike itunes songs. And for an example of prices, the whole albums by Beck and Death Cab For Cutie are only $5.00 each as MP3 downloads. So, check it out.

Also, I would post my own top 10 of 2008 list, but I'm almost sure the only music I listened to in 2008 that was actually from 2008 was Guns N' Roses' new album. It was a slow year for me, music-wise. So, I'll let Paul take it away.

Good work, brother-man.

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

Tired of Predator Rap

I'm mainly just putting this post up because I'm tired of glancing at my blog as I drift through the cybersphere, only to notice that stupid Predator face and the phrase "Predator Rap Video" from the previous post.

Things have been very busy lately, but our whirlwind trip of my patria--or whatever--is nearly over, and soon enough I'll have some more pictures ready to put up.

But for now, "Tired of Predator Rap" will have to suffice.

(The picture is an older one I took before we left Costa Rica--see, I still haven't even had time to look at my US pictures yet--showing our niece Mariela holding our cat, Coochie Flies; his name alone is worth a post/explanation. Anyhow, it's kinda hilarious. Plus, Mariela is watching our cat right now, so I hope they're both doing well!)

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