March 30, 2009

Biden My Time

This morning American Vice-President Joe "José" Biden arrived in Costa Rica to... well, I'm not exactly sure why he's here, but that last link goes to a picture of him with the Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias. In any case, due to his arrival there was a bit more traffic getting to work, and there were tons of Costa Rican cops with huge guns on all the highway overpasses and onramps between the airport and San José. But since Costa Rica doesn't actually have a military, there's a good chance those giant automatic rifles were plastic.

In any case, bienvenido, Joe, and enjoy your stay. Thanks for not disrupting traffic as much as when Cheney would come to town with his slave-pulled chariot, straight out of the movie "The Fall":

File Photo: Ex-Vice President Dick "The Dick" Cheney's motorcade leaves San José's Juan Santamaría International Airport

Picture is a screen capture, taken from the movie website called Film Walrus Reviews. Check it out.

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March 29, 2009

Diet Sunday Magazine

I know it's been a few weeks since I've come at ya with a Sunday Magazine, but I've been busy with other stuff, so I guess I've not had time to read interesting articles and whatnot. But this week, I did come across a few extra things that I thought were certainly worth passing on to you, Dear Reader. It'll be like a Sunday Magazine Lite!

First off, we have a link to an article that my friend Julien Katchinoff sent me. It's called "The Rice and Beans War." It's a good glimpse into Costa Rican life, particularly focusing on Gallo Pinto, the Costa Rican national* rice and bean dish. This article's got everything that makes Costa Rica the country it is today: Rice, Beans, Salsa Lizano, and an underlying dislike of Nicaragua. Check it out!

Second, in my neverending quest to justify outrageous coffee consumption, I came across this New York Times article talking about the benefits of caffeine as a performance-enhancing drug. It's called "It's Time To Make A Coffee Run." Remember: if your urine doesn't smell like coffee (and possibly a faint whiff of cereal), then you're probably not hydrated enough to run a 5K.

And finally, speaking of Sport (pronounced "schport"), check out this video that Julien also sent me:

After that video, there's seriously nothing that I can say or post that will amaze or shock you more.

Have a great weekend.

*There are rumors we stole our national dish from Nicaragua, though; you be the judge.

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March 28, 2009

The Pics of the Haps

It's been a little while since I've posted some random recent pictures, so here we go:

First of all, Angela and I are almost ready to move into our house--hopefully this weekend! I put up a few new pictures on the Gringiticasa blog, if you're interested in checking them out.

No, we didn't get a dog, but Angela's sister and next-door neighbor Toni and her family did. It's a cute little mutt of sorts. It's name is so brilliant and weird that even it would make even Borat proud. It's moniker: "Bonjovi."

Here's Angela painting some styrofoam stuff that will go on the outside wall of our house, between the outside walls and the... outside ceiling thing (eaves?). Basically, it'll make it look nicer, but I have no idea what it's called in English.

Angela with a green beer on Saint Patrick's Day. It's not a holiday here, and the liquor store didn't have any Irish beer (and there was no damn way I was going to pay $26 for a bottle of Bailey's!). So, I bought some Heinekens and we died them green. The next day, though, we went to the normal supermarket which, of course, had both Guinness and cheaper Bailey's. When we got home I prepared Angela a car bomb. Her verdict: "Arblech!! What is this?!"

Finally, a week or two ago I mentioned that I had killed a whole weekend painting a closet / wardrobe. Fortunately, I documented it photographically. What I imagined to be a two-hour-or-so project really ended up eating around 14 hours, somehow. At least I had some music. The picture above is the "Before" one, and below is "After." It's debatable how much good the painting actually did, but for me it looks less cheesy, at least.

So, that's about it for now. Stay tuned tomorrow morning for a "Lite" version of the Sunday Magazine, and have a great weekend!

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March 27, 2009

Some More Videos (Please Use The Bathroom Before Watching)

Hopefully I'm not going overboard with the videos here, but when you get on a kick, you get on a kick. In any case, in his comment from a few days ago, Dustin mentioned a few videos. Here are two that I thought were particularly great:

<a href="">Muse - Knights Of Cydonia (Video)</a>

This first one is called "Nights of Cydonia" by the group Muse. It's pretty much your standard space western music video. (Look for the Star Wars-esque holograms). Good fun!

This second one should blow you away, unless if you're blind (If so, then sorry). If I understand the idea right, it's by a group named Zombie Zombie. The video itself, though, is the most incredible part: stop-motion-animation G.I. Joes used to re-enact a 1982 Kurt Russell movie called "The Thing." If you don't watch this video, then you may never be cool again.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

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Thank God

Oh, man! FINALLY!

Beck - The New Pollution
Cargado por Beck-Official

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March 26, 2009

Still Too Full To Blog

Yesterday afternoon I got home around 6, but Angela wasn't at the house. This is normal, though, since she teaches on Wednesday afternoons and evenings. But, I didn't have a housekey, so I went to my sister-in-law Toni's house next door to borrow her copy. But she wasn't there. So, I went to my brother-in-law Ronald's house down the road, since he owns the house we live in, and he's got yet another spare set of keys.
In fact, Toni and her family were there, and I arrived right in time for dinner, so they invited me, too. Here's a list of the food that Ronald's wife Ligia put out for the five of us:

-White Rice (obviously)
-"New" Red Beans
-Soft Tortillas
-Cheese Wedges
-Lettuce, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
-Fried Tortillas
-Picadillo (like cooked chopped veggies)
-Chicken in Sauce
-Chorizo Sausage
-Hard-Boiled Eggs

Then they gave us desserts:
-Ice Cream
-"Swiss Cookies" with Dulce de Leche

And I think I'm forgetting a few things. I think that some of the food rose to my brain and killed some memory cells in there.
So, hours after I arrived to pick up the keys, I tried to leave as politely as I could, all the while thanking Ligia for her delicious food, and refusing offers of whiskey shots and beer refills.

The lesson to our friends who'll visit us: Don't Eat Before You Get Here.

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March 24, 2009

Worth The Wait

This video is slow until about 3:00, but then it gets cool:

Believe me, it's worth the three minute wait.

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March 23, 2009

Could Ya Also Spare A Dime For A Bullet, Hermano?

On Thursday evening of last week, a police car pulled into our driveway. This was surprising for a few reasons:

1: We didn't know that the police came anywhere near Berlín,
2: We didn't know why they had come to our house, and
3: We didn't know the police had a car

In any case, they came by to talk about the car. Their police car, that is. One of the officers reached into his pocket and pulled out a snapshot of a police car with a shattered windshield. He started mentioning that their patrol car (a mid-90s Nissan Pathfinder) had "woken up with" a broken window one morning, and since I was a foreigner and all...

Well, I got a bit concerned there, since I was wondering if they were accusing me. But it turns out they were just asking for money. They had already replaced the windshield, since it's a fairly necessary part of one's car. They had tried to go through the rounds with the INS, the state-monopoly bullshit insurance company. They had almost given up on the INS to reimburse them, even though they had an insurance policy. They said the INS was throwing up some bullshit line about not having the car inspected before performing the labor, or something like that.

There are at least 5 things wrong with this picture:
1: The cops drive a shitty old Pathfinder (at least the ones who didn't get the fancy new Chinese police cars, our payoff for dumping diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switching to relations with China... we also got a free, shiny new National Stadium in the works from that deal)
2: The cops left their shitty old Pathfinder unattended long enough to get the windshield broken
3: They had to pay for it with their own money because the insurance company wouldn't reimburse them
4: They had to go door-to-door begging for money, and since they (somehow, since I'd never seen these guys) knew I was a foreigner, they thought I might be able to help, since their own nation's institutions--including the police force, apparently!!--weren't doing shit to help them
5: Let me recap: police officers came to our house asking for money to pay to replace their patrol car's windshield

We gave them 1,000 colones, worth about 2 bucks. Not much, but they were happy and genuinely thanked us. We told them that they should really demand that the INS pay for their windshield, and that they couldn't give up after only a few weeks of dealing with the insurance monopoly; after all, it took us months and months of dealing with those soulless, insurance-mongering bureaucrats before we reached that level of desperation.

So why give them money? To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, I decided long ago that I would do everything I could do to help out a person in need, if that person in need is carrying a gun.
Plus I hate the fucking INS.

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March 22, 2009

Top Secret Costa Rican Chili Recipe!

Well, don't I feel like a fool. The other day I was mocking Costa Rican cuisine, especially regarding its lack of spice or, um... what's the word? Oh yeah, "flavor."
But, I've just come across this top-secret recipe for Costa Rican chili! Many Bothan spies died to bring us this information, so use it cautiously and guard it closely:


-3 cups cooked white rice, unseasoned other than salt and a little oil
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1/2 cup Salsa Lizano*
1 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. onion, cooked until dark brown or black
-1/3 cup table salt
-Extra Salsa Lizano and salt to taste

-Mix all ingredients in 6 cups of boiling water and let simmer in a large pot for 10 minutes. Serve piping hot with crackers and Lizano Sauce to taste.

(*Salsa Lizano is a mild vegetable sauce easily found in Costa Rica. Photo from Wikipedia link above.)

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March 20, 2009

WTF, Ryan Sitzman?

This post is a nice melding of two recent Sitzblog themes: "Music Videos" and "WTF?"
Let me present this Hilary Duff video for "With Love":

So, WTF, Me? Dammit, dammit, dammit! Why do I like Hilary Duff? And it's even a remix! What the hell's the matter with me? And how is it that I even know how to spell her name correctly?

Sitzman: Pull it together, man. If you are still a man, that is. As my friend Bobby would say when I listened to girlypop music: "Yeah, we're gonna have to confiscate your testicles for this one." At least I've admitted that I've got a problem; isn't the next step denial or coping? Can someone help me out on this one?

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Hmm, This Could Become A Theme...

I put up the Chris Isaak video a few minutes ago, but that was mainly because I was happy that I'd figured out how to embed videos recently (as you may have noticed in the last couple of weeks... I know that most people figured out how to embed videos circa 2002). In any case, since it's Friday, there's a decent chance you won't be reading this until the weekend, or even until Monday. One way or the other, you'll either have a lot of free time, or you may need a good pick-me-up. So, I'll also include this video by September, called "Satellites":

Believe it or not, this is actually the number one most-played song on my itunes lately, according to... well, according to my itunes. This Swedish superblonde can sure sing a catchy tune, and the beat is addictive. Let's just cut down a bit on the freaky makeup, what do you say, skat?
Anyhow, hope you like it (or at least don't hate it).

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Somebody's Cryin'

Here you go. It's "Somebody's Cryin'," by Chris Isaak.
I really like this song, and I was trying to find the video on YouTube. No dice. I did find it on some other weird channel, and I have embedded it for you, Dear Reader.
This is the song that made me want to grab my guitar, strap my surfboard to my vintage car, and move to the beach. Score so far on the Dream Scale: 0 for 4. But hey, no one's perfect.
Still, listening to Chris Isaak makes me think about living in a beach paradise. I know that's ironic, considering that I live in a beach paradise, a country whose name is actually "Rich Coast." But I guess it's not Baja-enough to make me feel like Chris Isaak might be coming by my house at any moment, asking if I feel like playing a bit of guitar or having a barbeque on the beach.
This post is pretty rambly, but hopefully it gave you enough to read while the video loaded and buffered:

BONUS: In the video, check out the girl's sweater. It's made from alpacas, and it actually has pictures of alpacas on it! It's where Hannibal Lector meets Beach Blanket Bingo.

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March 19, 2009

WTF, Air-Bake Cookie Tray?

Continuing my WTF kick, I present you with the results of my trusty old air-bake cookie tray. On the left is a normal-shaped cookie, baked on a black tray. Looks tasty, right? Well, it is. On the right (on top of the spatula) is a cookie right off the air-bake tray (that big silver metal thing dominating the picture):

So, air-bake tray: WTF? Why are you taking twice as long to bake my cookies, and why are you making them all flat and crumbly? Isn't that basically worth a double-WTF?

Air-bake tray, I'll admit it: we had some good times in Boulder, but you're slipping. Maybe it's because I store you right under that non-stick bread mold that got all rusty for some reason, but your results just aren't cutting it anymore. Shape up or we'll use you as a roof panel for Cucho's upcoming cat-house.*

BONUS! Check out the brand of our black electric water-kettle: "Erick-son." Even in the realm of domestic appliances, we're pretty big on pirated copies down here.

*I may or may not be bluffing. I probably will never actually make a cat house for Coochie-Flies.

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March 18, 2009

WTF, Chris Cornell?

I've decided to go on a WTF kick. First up, Chris Cornell and his video for "Part of Me." The other night I turned off a DVD and this video was playing on channel 2 (which, when it's on the air, plays videos sometimes). So, take a quick look at the following (feel free to stop it after 30 seconds or so):

Oh Chris Cornell, how the mighty shreiker has fallen. Is the man singing this repetitive pseudo-Latino--seriously, Puerto Rico?--R&B bullshit the same guy who motivated me to break out of my rusty cage (the only kind of cage in Costa Rica)?:

Grow that hair back out, call your old Soundgarden buddies, and get your act together, man!

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Holy Crap!

Holy Crap! Yesterday I tangentially mentioned The Goonies in a post. Did anyone else know that Josh Brolin played the character of the older brother Brandon "Brand" Walsh??


Are these the kinds of tidbits I'm missing out on since I emigrated??

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March 17, 2009

"The Only Thing We Serve Is Tongue! You Boys Like Tongue?!"

Just yesterday at lunch, I was talking with my coworkers about food. For some reason a chili cookoff was mentioned; the main point of that was discussing what a chili cookoff actually was, since they don't really have chili here, let alone chili cookoffs. I mocked Costa Rican food for being generally bland, boring, and oversalted. I also joked that if there were an international chili cookoff that featured anything spicier than cooked onion, the Costa Rican judge would be fanning his or her tongue, asking for some Tang to cool their mouth and some salt to pour on the chili.

But I digress, sort of. I did say that Costa Rican food was completely predictable and dull (as would I describe any cuisine that calls for eating rice at least three or four times a day). But I forgot about tongue. Yep, cow tongue. In the company cafeteria, no less! And at a premium price over the two "more conventional" entrees! I gotta give it to you, Costa Rica... that's pretty ballsy! Here's what it looked like:

(Yeah, freaking rice, too). So two big slices of tongue, and beneath the sauce, you can even see the texture of the taste buds. Impressive. Most impressive indeed! This picture was taken by my friend Roberto "Robby" Monterrosa. I have to admit that this is the first time I've been glad that someone near me had a cell phone! Nice shot, by the way, Señor Monterrosa. I'll get Martha Stewart Living on the phone right away!

This is the mysterious Robby "Money-ROSE!" Monterrosa. He doesn't dig paparazzi, especially paparazzi who bug him while he's eating tongue.

The first bite. Kinda tongue-y, but tastily tender.

I asked Robby for another shot, "but less bald," so we've got this inspiring one. Thanks for the pics, Money-ROSE. And remember, "RM" are also the initials for "Renegade Moneymaker." Don't forget it.

In any case, we had tongue for lunch, and it was pretty tongue-licking good. I guess that's what you get in a country that doesn't celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.

(By the way, the quote that's the title of this blog is, of course, from The Goonies. I just never thought I'd get a chance to legitimately use it!)

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Too Many Fumes?

Hey Everyone,
Sorry I got pretty lame about getting up new posts for a few days there. I managed to kill an entire weekend painting an old wardrobe of Angela's. And I was the one who requested and volunteered to do it.
In fact, if you could have made a list of all the useful, productive, or even interesting ways I could have spent the past weekend, "Paint Angela's Old Wardrobe" would have ranked somewhere around #427 on the list.
Oh well; the wardrobe looks marginally better. I'll put up pics of it soon. In the meantime, there are more posts coming imminently!

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March 12, 2009

Photo Assignment Contest Update

The other day I mentioned that my friend Julien was entered in the Name Your Dream Assignment photo competition. I included the widget to the left, but I wanted to take a chance to promote his idea once again since it's a cool one. Plus, he set up a great-looking blog related to his entry, and you can check it out by following this link. It looks so good, in fact, that I'm afraid it may be an indicator that his job search isn't going so well...

In any case, I also thought I'd include an excerpt from his entry idea, to get your brain juices flowing:

Julien's Entry:

"This photo-journey will be driven by a group of friends who purchase one or two Soviet Jeeps in the Republic of Georgia, and take several months to drive from Tbilisi to southern France. Hilarity, Knowledge, and Beauty Ensues.

My wife and I spent 16 months as Peace Corps Volunteers in the Republic of Georgia. During our time there we noticed - and I fell in love with - the rusty remains of the Soviet army which served as common transport for Georgians, namely Jeeps known by their brand; UAZ.

The idea for this Photo Journey derives from Georgia's fervent desire to be European, and we hope to photograph the beautiful and interesting seams that exist between Asia and Europe. We would like to drive from the old forgotten capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, and snake our way (with breakdowns expected) through the Caucasus, Turkey, Istanbul, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, the Italian Alps, France, and ending in the village of Le Cleuzel, in southern France.

This journey will provide us with images of beautiful landscapes, ruins, old factories, portraits, urban and rural life, music, and culture of people and nations which dot our 2,500 mile path.

Each member of this team will have their own cultural or photographic focus, and will post their experiences and findings on a website; complete with Google Earth positioning and photo posts. An example of this may be my fascination with traditional spirits found along our journey. Photos and interviews with traditional makers of the extremely potent drinks known from East to West as Cha-Cha, Raki, Ouzo, Slivovice, Grappa, and Eau-de-Vie will add interest and color to our project."

Now, not to be outdone, and in the spirit of fairness (and awesomeness), my brother Paul also created his own entry in the contest. It's called "Screw Space; Let's Explore Earth!" The mere concept is pretty great, and he also got my vote (after you register on the site, you can vote once for as many projects as you want). Paul was initially reluctant to have his entry promoted, mainly cause he didn't want to try to take any of the Sitzblog steam out of Julien's sails. What a good sport. So, I told him that I'd try to promote both entries. Plus, I now have two chances that a winning entry might take me along for the ride. A synopsis of Paul's idea appears below, and there's a widget on the left that will take you to his page on the contest site:

Paul's Entry:

"Every year, thousands of new species are discovered on Earth. It seems we've hardly scratched the surface! My idea is to go to all of the untapped regions of Earth to see what else we might be missing.

Earthlings, and more specifically Americans, seem to have a fascination with outer space, and why shouldn't we? It's plenty interesting, and there's plenty of it out there, but 99.999999% of it will likely be out of human reach for centuries to come. My question is, why are we getting ahead of ourselves, trying to get off of this planet, when we haven't even seen everything Earth has to offer.

Each year, hundreds or thousands of new species are discovered on Earth, ranging from the "how the hell haven't we seen this before" creatures to the "well no wonder, it's smaller than a flea" insects, but each new discovery can bring wonderful new beauty to life.

My journey would be centered mainly on Borneo, one of the liveliest places on Earth, and largely untapped as far as exploration goes, then continuing on to some of the most remote places on Earth, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Mekong region of Asia which includes Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Then, if I have any money left over (which I should since I'm a college student and know how to stretch a dollar), then I'll work on the oceans.

According to the National Ocean Service, less than 5% of the oceans have been explored. INCONCEIVABLE! Water is a crucial part of our ecosystem, but it looks as though we hardly know anything about all that blue stuff that covers close to three-quarters of our planet. In the same manner as before, I would set out to find as many new species as I could.

There's a lot of beauty in the world, but in our everyday lives we can tend to overlook what an amazing little rock we have to stand on. And who knows, maybe the best is yet to come!"

Either way you vote, these are two pretty cool ideas, if you ask me, so I'd encourage you to head to the site. It's really not hard at all to register, and it could help a buddy or a brother of mine catch a shooting star.

Good luck to them both!

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House Construction Blog Updated!

This picture is just one of the exciting images you can see on the newly-updated Gringiticasa Blog! Check it out!

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March 11, 2009

Set Your Goalies High

I had to work at a job fair on Sunday this past weekend. It went pretty well. I also worked at a job fair two weeks before that one. Although that job fair went well, I heard a comment from a dude applying for a job. He said to me, "Hey, you look like the goalie for the American team, but without money."

"Hmm," I thought, "What the fuck?"

In any case, I did a bit of research. I have to admit that I don't really follow soccer at all these days, and I certainly don't keep tabs on Team America. After checking on Wikipedia, I found that the American team had four goalies listed. I found some images from different sources, and here they are:

First, this picture from Wikimedia is of a guy named Troy Perkins. I think this probably isn't the guy, though, since he doesn't bear much resemblance to me (he apparently wears his wedding ring on his left hand, while I wear mine on my right).

Next candidate: John Busch. This guy could be a bit more likely to be the goalie in question due to the lax attention to facial hair and the use of black clothing, two things that I'm into. But let's take the search a bit further. (Picture credit: AP Images)

Candidate Number Three: Brad Guzan. This guy seems a bit more likely, if we're going by hairlines here. Although I probably could never muster this much enthusiasm for any game, even if I were playing in it (For evidence, see our intramural German department soccer team, The Ünnëcëssärÿ Ümläüts). (Photo credit: Jamie McDonald, Getty Images)

And I think we have our winner: Tim Howard! This guy even has the U.S. Team shirt on, and he's got less hair than me (but just barely). (Photo: Wikipedia)

So, the question remains: was the job fair guy complimenting or insulting me? On the one hand, it's good to look like a famous person sometimes. In this country, a soccer goalie is almost as highly revered as a doctor or a saint (unless it's a saint who lets more than a couple goals in). On the other hand, he also said I looked like the goalie... but without money. I think that translates roughly to, "You look poor." Ouch. In any case, I guess that solves a mystery that's been bugging me for a few weeks now.

I better go, I gotta get to practice. If I get there late, coach'll make me do windsprints, whatever the hell those are.

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There was a little bit of an earthquake today in the southern part of Costa Rica. According to this article it was a 5.9, but it didn't seem that big, especially considering that the quake in January was a 6.2. That one felt a lot stronger. But yes, I realize that the Richter scale is exponential, and that a 6.2 would feel 10 times stronger than a 5.2 (I think).

In any case, here in the central part of the country there were just a few wobbly moments during today's tremors. I never noticed it before, but if you're standing up during a tremor, it's a bit like you're kinda boozy, and the ground is moving below you in little jerky waves.

Also, I found this youtube video of a CNN report after the larger earthquake in January. It's kind of interesting, and only a bit over a minute. Check it out.

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March 9, 2009

Sitzmedia: Monday Magazine

I decided that based on my research (OK, just based on looking at my Clustrmap on Mondays), most people don't come to look at my blog on Sundays, so there was no hurry in getting up the Sunday Magazine edition of Sitzblog. So, just pretend like the delivery boy got hit by a truck and was put in the hospital, and that's why the Sunday Magazine was delayed.
In any case, here are some interesting articles and pictures that I came across this last week; I hope you enjoy them:

First of all, let's start with a picture that was sent to my by my friend Julien (the one with the dream photo assignment I mentioned a few days ago):

The picture is a self-portrait drawn by Philippe Gonzavalez in the 80s. It's really weird and it's in French, but that shouldn't stop you from reading more about it by following this link (also, if you speak Spanish, the map itself is pretty understandable, and the accompanying article is in English anyhow).

Second: Speaking of Frenchie-Poo stuff, I came across this article praising cassoulet. I didn't know what the hell cassoulet was before, and the details are still fuzzy, but basically it sounds like a tasty French stew that's heavy on preparation time, beans, and duck fat.

Third: While we're on the topic of food, I came across yet another article on the benefits of drinking absurd amounts of coffee. It's from La Nación, Costa Rica's most respected newspaper (although that's not saying an awful lot). Unfortunately for all you Gringos out there, it's in Spanish, but you can at least check it out to see a picture of a café chorreado set-up, which is a traditional way of preparing coffee here; it's the thing that looks like a sock hanging above a coffee cup.

Fourth: For our final food-related link of the day, I came across this photo-stream (Fotostrecke) about Thüringer Klöße in Stern magazine. For all of you who aren't down with the Deutsch, Klöße are sort of like boiled potato dumplings filled with bread crumbs. They're quite tasty with gravy and meat dishes. The instructions are in German, but the detailed pictures--like number 3!--are so aweomse that they speak for themselves!

Fifth: Here's one for the nerds: This article by Slate's Farhad Manjoo examines the differences between the internet today and the internet in 1996. The conclusion: It's almost unrecognizable as the same concept. The way in which we use the internet today has made the 1996 version "unrecognizable." Good, retro fun.

Sixth and Final: This is an older article from December, but it still resonates strongly with the slacker within me. It's called "Why Not Start The Weekend on Wednesday?" If you really need more justification to read it than the title, well, it's about how we work too much these days. It's a premise familiar to Fight Club fans: we work too much so that we can buy crap that we don't need, but if we just reduced our inherent consumerism (and clocked out on Wednesday afternoons in the process), we might be able to experience many benefits, an increased quality of life possibly among them.

So, hope this keeps you a bit entertained for a while, and tell me if any of this was interesting. If so, I can keep putting them up. Have a good week!

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This being a personal blog, I guess it's sort of my responsibility to post self-indulgent crap like pictures of my cat being cute. So without further ado, here's Coochie-Flies* (aka Cucho):

On the laundry sink, which is inexplicably outside in the back of our current house.

Three things I love in this picture: Angela, a mug of coffee, and our lame cat.

Oh just look at his little paws!

We thought Cucho would like this Tigger stuffed animal that Angela had. In fact, he hates it. He spends every minute that we give it to him attacking, biting, and scratching it. Here is just looks like a friendly embrace, though.

So, that's it for the moment. I'm currently working on more posts for today and the rest of the week, so stay tuned!

*Like I said before, Angela named him, not me!

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

March 7, 2009

Sitzmedia: "Midnight's Children"

The other night I started reading Salman Rushdie’s book “Midnight’s Children.” Basically, I was looking for something to read while sitting on the exercise bike (and no, that’s not a euphemism for “toilet”; I really do read while exercising). The book’s title refers to children that were born in India on the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the exact moment when the country gained its independence.

I had only read one other book by Rushdie: “The Satanic Verses.” That was of course the one which earned Rushdie a fatwa, which was essentially an order issued by Ayatollah Khomeini that any good Muslim had the duty to kill the author. I don’t know a lot about the history of that particular fatwa, but you can read more about it here. In any case, Rushdie caught my interest when he gave an interesting and entertaining speech at CU in 2006 or so.* After he talked on campus, my friend Annie and I spent the next couple of weeks issuing fatwas on each other, usually in the form of notes passed across the office.

In any case, I’m only on page 100 or so since Rushdie’s novels are some pretty dense reading, at least compared to “Stuff White People Like.” I like the book so far, and I have to admit that Rushdie has a very distinct style, at least for my tastes. There are two things about his style that drive me nuts, though. The first is the use of the imperative directed at the reader, and the second is the occasional absence of commas when listing things. That may not make sense, so let me rip off his style a bit to give you an example:

“Look: Ryan sits on his exercise bike pedaling reading sweating straining.”

Yeah, it bugs me. I also realize that that sort of style may be the exact thing that some other people like about his writing, though. For some reason, it just seems to me to be overused, somehow. But I guess I should take into consideration that the book was written in 1980--the year I was born; perhaps I’m a “Midnight Child” for “Midnight’s Children”--and for all I know Rushdie pioneered the style. It may therefore seem familiar to me just because people have been ripping it off ever since then.

That also leads me to a short digression, but it still has a bit to do with the topic at hand.

Last month I wrote a few posts about “The Catcher in the Rye,” and after I read it, I loaned it to my coworker Roberto. When I was talking with him about the book at lunch one day, he specifically mentioned it’s linguistic style, saying, “It’s like watching ‘Scrubs.’” I thought that was kind of hilarious because I don’t know much about J.D. Salinger, but my free associations with his name don’t usually bring up “Zach Braff.” But still, Roberto had a point, and that point is that even though “Catcher” was written in the late 1940s, it still sounds almost completely modern. If you were to substitute a few slang words for more modern ones, the stream-of-consciousness style could just as easily come from a disgruntled schoolboy of 2009. Or at least that’s what we thought. We were wondering if everyone really talked like that in the 1940s, or if it was just Salinger who did. Also, we wondered how much impact that popular book has had on both writing and spoken expression or if, instead of influencing our culture’s speech, if it merely reflected it back to us.

So there you have it. I finally wrote a post that mentioned both Zach Braff and a fatwa.

*No offense, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but his talk was a lot better than yours.

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

March 6, 2009


The other day I was listening to music while I was doing some computer stuff at work, and a song caught my attention. The song was a German one named “Porzellan,” by Farin Urlaub. Urlaub is the singer of the sorta-punk, sorta-rock group “Die Ärzte,” and Die Ärzte as well as Urlaub as a solo artist are both definitely worth a listen, in my opinion.

In any case, “Porzellan” is about being content with what you have, and realizing that your happiness largely depends on your own personal outlook towards life. I know that’s a really basic, first-grade type of message, but I suppose that we all get caught up in a grass-is-greener slump now and then, when we should really just look around and appreciate what we DO have, instead of what we don’t.

In any case, I typed out the first part of the song. I’m pretty sure the lyrics are correct, but I may have misheard something.

Oh, and I’m not going to translate them, either. It’s payback for all those damn times I’ve read books with untranslated passages in French or Latin, the authors’ assumption seemingly being that if you’re educated, then you simply must understand those two languages. Well I say screw that. German’s good enough to be baffling and frustrating, too.

So, check out the lyrics:


(Album: Am Ende Der Sonne)

das Glück ist immer da
wo do nicht bist
du willst immer das,
was du nicht kriegst
und du beklagst dich
„es ist nicht fair!“

Schön ist nur das
was du verpasst
du brauchst irgendwas
was du nicht hast
du bist nie zufrieden
du willst immer mehr

du wärst gern wie sie
du wärst gern wie er
du wärst gern jemand anders
Hauptsache, irgendwer
Glück gibt es überall
vielleicht auch hier
es liegt an dir

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

March 5, 2009

Julio's Scheme

My friend and former roommate Julien "Julio" Katchinoff has entered himself into a photography contest called "Name Your Dream Assignment." The idea is, the contestants describe a photography shoot that they've always wanted to do, and other people vote on their ideas. The best idea wins $50,000 to travel and complete the assignment.

Julio's asked me to help him promote his idea, so I've linked to it in this post and in the sidebar. In fact, it IS a pretty cool idea, and I voted for it myself. So, feel free to check it out! Oh, and by the way, the vote tally doesn't seem to be working, at least not on my computer (here at the internet café).

I thank you, and so does little Julio Katchinoff.

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

March 4, 2009

So No One Else Is Going To Say It, Huh?

Well, if everyone else is just too scared to admit it, I guess I'll just have to come right out and say it, then:

I, Ryan Sitzman, love Guns N' Roses new album, "Chinese Democracy."

That's right, I think it's excellent. Oh, and by the way, I also think it's on par with their earlier work. Yes, even with Axl being the only real remaining member of the original lineup. And yes, I'd mention it in the same breath as "Appetite For Destruction." There, I said it.


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

March 3, 2009

Laika Picture

The other day when I wrote the email about my parents-in-law's dog Laika getting killed by a motorcyclist, I said that I didn't think there were any pictures of her. Well, I was wrong. Evidently my mother-in-law Cecilia did have one, and it appears to be the only one that exists. I know that in the U.S., people coddle their dogs and treat them like members of the family--and sometimes better--but here that's not the case. So Cecilia actually got a lot of flack for having this picture, apparently. I guess the family thought she was too sentimental or something for loving a dog.

In any case, she loaned me the picture to scan, so now we can all look at "Laika Loca" one last time.

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

March 2, 2009

Sitzmedia: "Stuff White People Like"

In a recent package that arrived in the mail—miraculously untampered-with—our friend Annie sent us a little letter and a copy of the book “Stuff White People Like” by Christian Lander (a white guy himself). So first of all, thanks to Annie (who, incidentally, will be visiting us in May!). Now, to the book review.

The subtitle of the book is “The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions,” and a similar tongue-in-cheek sarcasm pervades through the entire book. It’s divided into 150 different things that white people like, and it even features a quiz at the end to determine your “whiteness” (I’m only about 52% white, strangely enough… time to ask my folks some questions, perhaps). Most of the categories are pretty funny, and they all generally refer to today’s urban, educated white people; in fact, many of the categories have disclaimers stating that if you’re talking to a white person who doesn’t like that particular item, then you’re dealing with “the wrong kind of white person.”

If you’re familiar with the website of the same name, then some of the categories—like “Coffee” (#1), “Making You Feel Bad For Not Going Outside” (#9), and “Threatening To Move To Canada” (#75)--are the same, but others—such as “Not Having Cash” (#132) or “Public Transportation That Is Not A Bus” (#147)—seem to be unique to the book. Still others from the website--"Ugly Sweater Parties," "Grammar," and "Frisbee Sports," for example--don’t appear in the book.

In any case, it’s a good laugh and a quick, engaging read, as evidenced by the fact that I got through it in about a day (but then again, white people like me like books, #138). I have to admit, though, that in terms of laugh-out-loud-ness, this book didn’t hit me as hard as “The Hipster Handbook” or “Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees and Other Species Unique to the Republic” (thanks again for those, Marie!). I think that the main reason for that is because although white people like self-deprecating humor (#103), it’s still preferable to laugh at hipsters, “Cherohonkees,” and the other “species” described in these latter two books. That’s probably because I don’t consider myself a hipster, but I do consider myself white. Now that I think about it, though, it seems like my coworkers once had a debate about whether I was a hipster or not… I can’t remember the outcome.

In any case, this is still a good book, and I’d recommend you checking it out. In fact, I was thinking of starting my own site about “Stuff Costa Ricans Like,” but knowing that white people like lawyers (#56), doing so could get me into a lawsuit with Christian Lander… unless the author’s tendency to avoid confrontation (#128) trumps his tendency to sue. I guess I could start one called “Things Ticos Are Fond Of,” but it just might not have the same ring to it… and most people who haven’t been here might not get the joke, anyhow.

The bottom line is this: Any of these three books I’ve mentioned here are a good laugh, and they’re near-essential survival guides to understanding the gentrifying locals if you live in New York, San Francisco, or Portland. Check them out.

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

March 1, 2009

February Retrospective

I decided not to post a Sunday Magazine this week, partially because I haven’t read that many good articles this week, and partially because I don’t think that anyone reads them, anyhow.

I did want to take a minute, though, to reflect on this past February. Through a lot of behind-the-scenes typing, as well as strange luck, it was one of the most productive blog months of late--and it wasn’t even a leap year! In fact, in the three years that I've had this blog, it was the month with the most posts (21). So, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for reading the blog. Your comments and emails are a good motivator, and I appreciate them a lot. I also appreciate the people that have done Google searches through the blog or visited the advertisements. I know that advertisements are not really “cool,” but they actually have helped a bit, so thanks for that. Also, thanks for the people who have decided to “follow” this blog (see that little box on the left). I’m not sure what exactly it does, but it’s interesting, I think. Plus with this box, you can see a little picture of Dustin’s face, which I think we all universally agree is pretty awesome. So go ahead and sign up to follow the blog, if you want.

So, thanks again to everyone, and I hope that March is a great month for you!

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