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":
March 30, 2009
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":
March 29, 2009
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!
Have a great weekend.
*There are rumors we stole our national dish from Nicaragua, though; you be the judge.
March 28, 2009
March 27, 2009
March 26, 2009
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
-Lettuce, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
-Picadillo (like cooked chopped veggies)
-Chicken in Sauce
Then they gave us desserts:
-"Swiss Cookies" with Dulce de Leche
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.
March 24, 2009
March 23, 2009
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.
March 22, 2009
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:
CHILI Á LA TIQUICIA (COSTA RICAN CHILI)
-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.)
March 20, 2009
Let me present this Hilary Duff video for "With Love":
Anyhow, hope you like it (or at least don't hate it).
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:
March 19, 2009
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.
March 18, 2009
Are these the kinds of tidbits I'm missing out on since I emigrated??
March 17, 2009
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:
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!)
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!
March 12, 2009
In any case, I also thought I'd include an excerpt from his entry idea, to get your brain juices flowing:
"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."
"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!"
Good luck to them both!
March 11, 2009
"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:
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.
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.
March 9, 2009
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!
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!
March 7, 2009
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.
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:
INTRO TO „PORZELLAN“ – FARIN URLAUB
(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
Glück gibt es überall
vielleicht auch hier
es liegt an dir
March 5, 2009
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.
March 4, 2009
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.
March 3, 2009
In any case, she loaned me the picture to scan, so now we can all look at "Laika Loca" one last time.
March 2, 2009
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.
March 1, 2009
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!