It's been a busy few days, so I've not been able to post the Pictures of the Day for nearly a week. Here they are, in chronological order. As always, if you'd like to see more pictures, you can check out my Leftovers page on flickr. In the text below each picture, you'll also find various links to pictures that I've taken and enjoyed over the past week, so feel free to click on those links, as well.
December 21, 2009: I took this with my new camera I got from Brad... it's great, but I'm still learning the ropes! I chose this picture because when you look at the big version, you can actually see a (freaking) dog hair in Mary's hand, and it looks like she's using it to tickle Jesus. Seemed like a good justification for Picture of the Day.
December 22, 2009: Angela and I were walking in City Park with Dustin and Sam and we came across a sculpture. The sculpture itself was pretty cool, but then Dustin pointed out that this was written on one of the columns. Bummer.
December 23, 2009: Angela and I went sledding with my brother Paul (and his dog Iris) at Edora Park in Fort Collins... for about 15 minutes. It was pretty cold, actually, but still a good time before it got dark, windy, and freezing. I chose this one for Picture of the Day just because I liked the color.
December 24, 2009: As part of our traditional Family Christmas Eve Fondue Dinner, Paul made these little cut-outs for everyone as our place-cards. I'm on the left (the guy from Alien), and Angela (Helloooo, Kitty!) is looking on as a paper alien bursts out of my chest.
December 25, 2009: Nothing says "Christmas Cheer" like a new machete under the tree. I engraved this one for Paul with the Kill Bill inspired message: "To My Brother Paul, The Only Man I Ever Loved, -Ryan." He liked it, and used it to guard the artichoke dip.
December 26, 2009: Today we saw some friends from high school, including Aaron McGrew and his fiancee Ashley. We went to their house in Fort Collins for coffee and, since it was built in 1904, the house was a great place for interesting Picture of the Day opportunities. This is actually an altimeter on their furnace. I'm not sure why one would have an altimeter on a furnace, but I'm also not sure why one would ride one of those weird old-fashioned bicycles with one giant wheel and one small one. Old stuff is weird that way.
So, the upcoming few days are also looking busy, but I'll see about posting pictures. Rest assured, I'll still be taking Pictures of the Day, but it may just take me a while to post them.
Today is a day I really wish I could have spread out over a couple of days. A lot happened. First of all, it was Pierogi Sunday at my friend Martha Wawro's family's house. Polish feasts this legendary only come around once a year. Secondly, we went to church with my family to hear my folks sing, but since there was an explosion at their church a few months ago (weird, long story), they had the service in my old elementary school. That brought back lots of memories and pictures. We also went to see "Dead Snow" at the movie theater... yep, it's the Norwegain Nazi Zombie movie you keep hearing about. And finally, we visited my friend Craig, who is a firefighter. He let Angela put on some of the gear for a photo op.
It was a busy day. Go ahead and check out the Leftovers Page on my flickr account if you're interested. Otherwise, I'll try to put up a few more of today's picture on the blog within a few days.
(PS - To all you Costa Ricans out there, there is a strange Franklin Chang-Diaz reference in the pictures-- don't miss it!)
This is a picture of a family friend named Bruce working on the heating in my parents' house this morning. In other words, it's a pretty good picture to illustrate a very distinct difference between Costa Rica and Colorado. In Costa Rica there's no need for heating or air conditioning systems (at least in Berlin). I've also never heard of crawl spaces or basements in Costa Rica, but I'm sure if they had them they'd fill up with water, mold, and snakes within hours.
At least he got the problem solved and now things are warmer.
I had some more pictures but I'm having trouble uploading them to flickr now. I'll try again later, but have a good day until then!
Angela and I made it to Colorado fine. The trip went off without a hitch, but we're really tired (we woke up around 2 this morning). So, here is the last Sitzblog Picture of the Day from Costa Rica for 2009.
I know that pictures from airplanes are totally lame, but I didn't have too many more options for today. And as pictures from a plane window go, I suppose it's not too bad, considering I took it from an aisle seat. It's also pretty Costa Rican: you can see Arenal Volcano near the bottom of the window, with its smoke oozing out the top. I thought it was pretty cool, at least.
So, from here until 2010, the Pictures of the Day will be coming from Colorado. We'll see if we can't find something interesting!
Today's Picture of the Day is skinny and baby blue. It's a bike frame hanging from a hook (isn't that the same way they killed Mussolini's bike?). The guy who lives next to Angela's parents has a painting shop that opens to the street, and he was re-painting this frame. It's not the most incredible photo ever, but oh well. It's a picture a day, not a Masterpiece per day. I was pretty busy today.
On that note, we'll be going to Colorado tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 6:00 or so, so if I have enough presence of mind, I'll try to get some sort of picture in Costa Rica tomorrow. If not, I'll get one in Colorado. I will still be taking a picture a day, but I may not be able to post them on the internet every day, since I may be visiting relatives or friends, and it's kind of a downer when your guest is putzing around on the internet all night.
Since I'll be out of the country, that also means that for the next couple of weeks I won't be uploading my pictures to SeeVida (since I'm the Costa Rican representative, and I won't be in Costa Rica). You can still follow the progress of SeeVida's other members, though. Just click on this link. The idea is to get people from as many countries as possible to take a picture a day.
Ah yes, Pata de Gallo... "Rooster Foot"... As I mentioned the other day, I went to Pata de Gallo on Tuesday to help deliver gifts to low-income families. Pata de Gallo is a community that is just down the (4-wheel drive) road from Berlin, but it's worlds away in some senses. It's pretty remote; if you can make it there, you can probably make it anywhere (literally).
I work at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in nearby Palmares, and as part of a giving program, the teachers, staff, students, and even students' families at the center gathered gifts for the people of Pata de Gallo. Here are some more pictures from that day:
This was my Picture of the Day for Tuesday. It's three of the girls from Pata de Gallo, along with my coworker Paola's daughter, Hannah (on the right).
The front door of the church in Pata de Gallo.
Two pictures of Hannah playing a toy drum. Cute girl!
Some pictures of the kids opening their presents.
The corral at the church. I'd never seen a church with a livestock corral before this one.
A boy with a ball he got as a present.
A family with their presents.
Lucy's macho car, de-machoed a bit by the fluffy flowers.
Inside the church's yard.
My boss' boss Alejandro, a baby, and my coworker Paola.
Another picture of the four girls.
A boy and his truck. Many of the presents were toys, but many were also school supplies. It was very touching to see how excited the kids got to receive both. This boy was running around to show everyone a sheet of stickers he'd gotten, and others were proudly showing off new colored pencils or erasers. Such great enthusiasm!
We were also given a tour of the one-room schoolhouse in Pata de Gallo. It was currently being renovated by Nelson, the same guy who renovated the Formerly-Crappy Casita in the back of our property (Nelson also happens to be my brother-in-law's brother-in-law... I guess technically that's also a title I could apply to myself. Weird.). Inside the school they have a wall where each graduating sixth grade class paints their hands and names on the wall. It's pretty neat, yet it also underscored how small the community really is, and how much it was able to benefit from a bit of outside help.
Most of our group in front of the school. Good work, team!
Today's Picture of the Day is of a guy selling bootleg (or "pirate") DVDs and CDs outside the Co-op supermarket in Palmares. I bought a copy of the Batman movie "Dark Knight" and asked him if I could take his picture. Surprisingly enough, he said, "Yes, of course!" and posed with his DVDs.
I guess this is pretty typical of Costa Rica, so that's why I included it today. Almost everything here is or can be pirated. People sell DVDs, CDs, and Karaoke discs at the bus stops and on the sidewalks. Trendy young kids sport the ever-popular "Holistar" T-shirts. Also, "Bookstores" here are usually just copy shops that can make a copy of an entire novel or even textbook for you. They'll even bind it and, for a bit extra, make a color copy of the cover and call the whole thing a "clone." Even at video rental stores, all the movies are copies. There are two classes of copied movies there: "clones" and "previews" (and that's what they actually call them... they use English names).
The "clones" at video stores are just straight-up copies of DVDs, although for some mysterious reason, in the "Special Features" menu, usually only one feature out of six seems to work. The "previews" are sketchier. They're just a videotaped version of a movie that someone somewhere recorded in a movie theater. The picture is obviously worse, the sound is pretty crappy, and often you have to deal with bizarre things like Russian subtitles or dubbing into some other foreign language. Needless to say, "previews" suck, but if you don't want to spring for a movie ticket, I guess they're an option.
In other words, if you came down here this weekend, we could probably rent or even buy Avatar or any other movie coming out this Friday.
In any case, there are obviously many advantages and disadvantages to such free-spirited piracy, but I won't get into them now. I've got to finish my Batman clone (Heath Ledger's not as good in Spanish, by the way).
Today's Picture of the Day did indeed turn out to be taken in Pata de Gallo ("rooster foot"), a community just down the road from Berlín. I'll put up more of a description tomorrow, since it was taken during a neat charity gift-giving activity that I was involved in through work. But suffice it to say that in terms of this picture, it's of 4 little girls with candy suckers (including my coworker Paola's daughter Hannah, on the far right).
If you look at Today's Leftovers on my Flickr page, you'll see that there were some other pretty nice pictures from today, and you'll understand why it was difficult to choose my favorite picture from today. I think I decided on this one in the end because it looks a bit like a picture for some sort of pop music band --albeit a slightly chaotic pop band.
I'll put up more information about our activity as soon as I can. Until then, have a good day!
You may not have noticed it before, but on the left side of your screen you'll notice a big jumble of links, buttons, and other crap. Among that jumble is a link to my Amazon.com "A-store," which I set up in hopes of earning a small kickback here and there, as well as to show readers what music, movies, books, and even lawnmowers I've been into recently. So, if you're looking for holiday gift-giving ideas, and the Special Person on your list is remarkably like me, then God help you. But in terms of gifts, you can follow the Amazon link for some ideas of stuff I've been into lately.
Once you follow the link, you can also search on Amazon.com for any other products they offer. That way, you win, Amazon wins, and Sitzblog wins.
I came across a few cool pictures that I liked today. The first is the Picture of the Day, and it's a picture of my student Lily's feet:
Angela and I were at Lily's house because her mom Lucy is my Mentor Teacher --my "boss," although she says she dislikes that word. Lucy gave us a ride to San José for an in-service day for our work, and even gave us some delicious rotisserie chicken for dinner when we got back. Her daughter Lily was barefooting it for a while, but once she put on these striped gems, a light went on over my head and I thought "Picture of the Day." In any case, thanks, Lily, for letting me take pictures of your feet!
While we were at Lucy's house, we also talked with her husband Wilson about his work. Wilson is an artist that carves bowls out of recycled and found wood. It's a pretty fascinating process, and his work is beautiful. The logs in the picture above --runner-up for Picture of the Day, by the way-- are the raw materials he gets, and by the end he comes up with finished pieces that look like this. It was really interesting to see how he did it.
This part was the most interesting for me: he has a machine that grabs on to and spins the wood, and he carves it out bit by bit. After this step, the bowls look like the three below, but there are still quite a few steps to go.
For some dumb reason, I didn't take any pictures of the final products, but you can check out quite a few on his website at www.wilsonarcemendez.com. They're pretty fantastic!
So, that's all for today, but tomorrow we're going to Pata de Gallo, a town down the hill from Berlín. I have a feeling that any place named "rooster foot" is bound to have a potential Picture of the Day, and all I have to do is find it!
This Picture of the Day is fairly self-explanatory. It's the rooster at Angela's folks' house, strutting around like it's Cock of the Walk. Angela's dad was telling me that the rooster is kind of bored since there are no other animals around, and I guess that's why I later saw it roosting high in a tree at 4:00 in the afternoon.
This rooster looks kind of charming, actually, but in truth roosters pretty much suck. Especially in Berlin, there are few more annoying animals (obviously, the dogs that howl and bark continually take the cake in that competition). And for anyone who's only seen roosters in movies and cartoons, it's definitely a fallacy that they only crow at dawn. This particular rooster seems quite content to not shut the hell up the whole day long...
And wow, I just used the word "rooster" or "roost" 9 times, including the two in this sentence! Looks like it's time for a thesaurus for Farmer Sitzman!
Just like I experienced yesterday, I had some trouble deciding on today's picture. At least for now, I'm not sure whether it's best to choose the most interesting picture overall, the most aesthetically pleasing one, the one that fits best into a monthly set, or the one that most represents Costa Rica on any given day. So, I think this picture fulfills at least one or two of those criteria. I took it at the gym of the school where I teach. There were some leftover graduation decorations, and it simply looked kind of cool to me. Hopefully it does the same for you.
Well, I know I put up a picture of a mural a few days ago, but this one was just finished the other day, and the light was nice, so I thought I'd take this picture today. It's a mural painted onto a water tower outside of Palmares, just next to the cemetery. It's pretty good paintwork, and it took the artist quite a while to finish it. My favorite part is how he --I'm assuming it's a guy since the signature says "Vince"-- painted overflowing water at the top of the tank (click on the picture to see a larger version with more detail).
Thanks for reading, and see you again tomorrow, hopefully!
At first glance, today's Picture of the Day is quite boring and unimpressive:
In fact, even at second glance, it's quite boring and unimpressive. In fact, I'm not sure you'd be able to glance at it enough times to make it interesting. That's because it's a picture of the inside of the RTV station in Alajuela. Angela and I went there this morning to go through one of Costa Rica's most venerable traditions: car inspection! God knows that it could take many hours and paragraphs to describe the full extent of this bureaucratic process, but I won't since I've already done that with other Costa Rican Stars of Bureaucracy (including the Ministerio de Migracion and the whole process of getting a certification for an authentication of a certification of my birth certificate... and yes, I typed that correctly). Let's just say it's a pain in the ass, but as these things go, it's not too bad, as long as your car passes.
The inspection process is run by a company called Riteve, which is an abbreviation for "Revisión Técnica de Vehículos." It's a private company, but somehow --let's just say "corruption"-- they managed to do a deal with the government and finagle a monopoly on these car inspections. In theory, they're a great idea, since there are so many terrible cars on the road. But in practice, it doesn't really work since those terrible cars are still on the road, and all of them seem to be right in front of me on the road up to Berlín, belching their black and blue diesel smoke. In other words, the process could still use some tweaking. By the way, look at the sign again: why would they abbreviate the "Revision" part as "Ri" instead of "Re"... wouldn't you imagine they'd call themselves "Reteve?" No one can answer this question for me, and therefore I'll file it alongside "Why do we say 'combo' and not 'combi'?" in my stack of Unanswered Questions.
Anyhow, the Riteve stations are huge and actually relatively efficient and organized --relatively, remember-- but most of the stations are near San José. So we made a little day trip out of our visit. Since our car passed on the first try, a somewhat rare occurrence for a car from Berlín, I'm told, we decided to celebrate by going to Denny's!
(The Denny's is on the right, the Fiesta Casino on the left). Denny's was a nice little slice of the US, and it got us in the mood to visit Colorado next week. Although the prices are about twice what they'd be in the US, everything else is straight outta Main Street inside, from the automatic faucets in the johns to the Rick Astley on the speakers.
We sat in a booth and had a nice lunch together while watching the airplanes take off from Juan Santamaria International Airport (in fact, I'm pretty sure if the airport has an address, it's "In front of the Denny's on the old road to Heredia," in traditional Costa Rican address style).
This is a flower I saw on the road from Palmares to Naranjo. I stopped to take a picture of the ruins of a house, and saw this little guy. It really made me want a camera where I can control the focus... I know that taking pictures of flowers is more Brad's modus operandi, and he makes them look a lot sharper and classier, but I guess I gotta start somewhere, right?
This is a mural at the Colegio Bilingüe San Agustín in Palmares. They really like their oxygen there.
I'll still be taking a picture a day, but I might not be putting them up as frequently on the blog and/or Facebook. I'm still waiting to hear a bit more from my friend and co-conspirator Brad, but this whole project is still developing. The idea is to eventually get one person from each country in the world taking a picture a day. I guess we've got a few countries lined up, but we've got quite a few more to go. You can see Brad's submissions by following this link to our flickr group page, and I'll keep you updated as this develops.
By the way, if you have an opinion about this matter of posting the pictures to the blog, please chime in by commenting on this post. I know my fan base is, um... growing... but I want this to be interesting for whoever reads this. Perhaps a picture a day is already getting boring for you guys, or maybe it's the best thing that's ever happened to this little blog. If you have something to say about this, please tell me.
I teach at a language school, but it shares facilities with an elementary and high school. During the day the kids come, and during the evenings we teach the adults. In any case, we all use the same rooms. It's the end of the school year, so the school just began its two-month, "summer" vacation. The kids are gone and they've taken all their crap with them. Except some boy or girl who forgot their shoes in their locker.
By the way, I'm selling a pair of shoes. If you know of a sixth-grader who'd be interested, have them contact me.
Today's Picture of the Day was taken from our back porch. Just before I went for an evening walk to Angela's parent's house (we go there every Sunday evening), I noticed these crazy clouds out the back window. In Today's Leftovers on flickr, you can see some other pictures, including ones from Angela's folks' place. Those were OK, but I wanted a picture with huge, orange colors for today.
Just a quick post today, since I was having lots of trouble uploading pictures earlier. This picture is of the church in Zaragoza de Palmares, the one where Angela and I got married, coincidently. I pass by it --albeit a block or two away-- every time I go to town, but this morning on my way to work I noticed through the trees that it looked nice. Since I rarely get up before 9 except Saturdays, when I start work at 8, I thought I should take advantage of this shot, so I hurried over there and took this picture from my car. Hope you like it!
There's not much to say about today's Picture of the Day; it's our new Part-Time Cat Chubby in Angela's purse:
That little head of his really cracks me up, so I chose it as Picture of the Day. We actually went to the beach today, though, and I imagined that I'd have something interesting to show from it in terms of photography. Well, I took a few pictures, but it would seem that I tend to be very unproductive when at the beach (which is the point of going to the beach, I suppose). Anyhow, here are Today's Leftovers:
A tsunami warning sign.
Some bikes near where we hung out for the day. It was wonderful, sunny weather, and I even got a bit of a tan. (Sorry, I just had to throw that comment in for the people in Colorado dealing with the terrible temperatures. Did you know that according to weather.com, it got down to negative 17 degrees Celsius in Fort Collins last night? I'm not sure what that is in Farenheit, and I'm not a scientist so I don't really care. In any case, come on down and visit us if you want to get out of that crap.)
49. The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
48. Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk
47. I Suck At Girls - Justin Halpern
46. Demian - Hermann Hesse
45. Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
44. The Seventeen Traditions - Ralph Nader
43. We Are All Weird - Seth Godin
42. SuperFreakonomics - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
41. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
40. Freakonomics - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
39. Around the World in 80 Days - Michael Palin
38. Evolving in Monkey Town - Rachel Held Evans
37. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
36. Peter and the Starcatchers - Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
35. The Force is Middling in This One - Robert Kroese
34. The Big Short - Michael Lewis
33. Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China - Paul Theroux
32. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - David Sedaris
31. The Dirty Parts of the Bible - Sam Torode
30. Earth (The Book) - Daily Show with Jon Stewart
29. Moneyball - Michael Lewis
28. The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
27. Lamb - Christopher Moore
26. Breakfast At Tiffany's - Truman Capote
25. I Am America (And So Can You!) - Stephen Colbert
24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
23. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser
22. The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon
21. How To Sharpen Pencils - David Rees
20. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
18. W.A.R. - Mick Wall
17. Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
16. Narcissus and Goldmund - Hermann Hesse
15. A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
14. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
13. Bicycle Diaries - David Byrne
12. Animal Farm - George Orwell
11. Life on the Mississippi - Mark Twain
10. 2666 - Roberto Bolaño
9. The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
7. Tokio Blues: Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami
6. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
5. Self-Reliance - Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. The Old Patagonian Express - Paul Theroux
3. China Survival Guide - Larry and Qin Herzberg
2. Jesus Wants to Save Christians - Rob Bell & Don Golden
1. Quicksand - Nella Larsen