October 31, 2010

Blogtoberfest Is Dead, Long Live Novembeard!

Well, Blogtoberfest has been a good time this year, and I've gotten nearly a post a day done. That's good enough for this guy. Now, it's time for something less labor intensive: growing a scraggly and mediocre beard:
My trashy beard, circa 2004
Ironically, I had thought of combining "November" and "Beard" a day before my friend Brad told me about Movember, which is all about growing November moustaches for charity. Sounds pretty good, although I don't really like moustaches very much, at least not when they're on my upper lip. Like most people, I prefer to simply admire them from afar; look, but definitely don't touch. But I may go in for  Movember and start growing my own personal "moustrashe" eventually. 

I don't have many talents, but I'd say growing a trashy beard that most people dislike --except Angela, inexplicably-- seems to be one of them. So we'll see where November takes us. It's a journey, after all... a gross facial hair journey!

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October 29, 2010

Acceptable In The 80s

Doesn't it seem like things were less complicated in the 80s?

Or is it just my imagination?

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Pictures of the Day: October 24-28, 2010

Here are my (strangely purple) Pictures of the Day from the last couple of days:

October 24th: An orchid that we gave to Angela's mom for her upcoming birthday.
October 25th: Some gnome magnets that my sister gave me. They're really cool, although they occasionally get mold (this is Costa Rica, after all).

October 26th: A sunset over the school where I work.

October 27th: A guy walking some oxen down the street in Guanacaste.

October 28th: I liked Angela's shirt.

So, that's it for now. Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

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October 27, 2010

Initial Thoughts After Listening to the Entire Catalog of The Gaslight Anthem on the Way to My Wednesday Class

Thought 1: They're great! (I knew this before, but it's always right to have confirmation that you're right).

Thought 2: These fellows sure sing a lot about old music, vintage automobiles, rivers, and women named Maria.

Thought 3: I must investigate this group further for a longer essay.

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October 26, 2010

Interesting Site

I came across this site that did a major survey about global internet use:

(click on the picture to follow the link)

In any case, I thought it was interesting to compare how other countries experience the internet.

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October 25, 2010


Well, I may not be using Facebook anymore. I think my account got disabled, possibly because I joked to an old friend that he should stop hassling me or I'd have to contact the authorities (and if that's the case, then just a reminder: NOTHING YOU PUT ON THE INTERNET IS PRIVATE and FACEBOOK READS YOUR MESSAGES and FACEBOOK DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU'RE JOKING).

In any case, when I try to sign on now, it says that I need to confirm my identity. To do that, I need to receive or send an SMS. Well, I don't have a cell phone, but Angela does. So I tried to have them send an SMS code to her phone, but it didn't work. Then I even tried having them send a code to my mom's phone, and they sent the code, but they said that I'd tried to get a code too many times.

Then I tried to send a customer service request with a copy of my ID (according to Facebook's instructions, that's what you have to do if you don't have a mobile phone), but Facebook has no customer service, and it sent me back an email saying that my account wasn't blocked.

Aaarrrghhh, freaking idiots.

So basically, it would seem there's no way to solve this problem.

Matt: If you're reading this, send me an email if you want to keep chatting.
Lucy: Sorry about Scrabble. Guess we'll just have to play in real life.
Facebook: Kiss my ass.

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Interestingly enough, here in Berlin lately we've been having our share of landslides, earthquakes, heartbreaks, claps of thunder and --of course-- hugs.

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October 24, 2010

Many Pictures of the Day! October 4-23, 2010

Well, I've still been taking Pictures of the Day and posting them to flickr, but obviously I've gotten behind on posting them to the blog. So, here they are, in all their glory:

October 4th: We've been getting lots of bananas from Angela's family, which means only one thing: lots of banana muffins.

October 5th: This is a pretty crappy picture of the day. I've been baking a lot, and so I decided to take a picture of this slice of beer bread toast with peanut butter. It was a busy day, and that's the best that came of it.

October 6th: I'm no biologist (and certainly no monketologist), but I have a hunch this is a monkey. Beyond that, I'm not sure what kind it is.
I actually took this from the window of my car. I had stopped on the side of the road to eat a snow cone, and all of a sudden these big monkeys started jumping between two trees to cross the road, going right above my car. It was pretty cool, but I didn't want to stay too long, since I didn't have enough snow cone to share.

October 7th: On the beach. I teach at a resort on Wednesday nights, so on Thursday mornings I can hit the beach up for a bit. The weather was particularly beautiful this day, which is really uncommon for this part of October.

October 8th: This rig is still in our bedroom from our bouts with the leaky roof a few weeks ago. I can't seem to find any more of that polyurethane stuff, so I've not been able to finish the job on the roof. And because of that, I've not been able to take this out of the room, since I need to climb up into the ceiling sometimes during rainstorms to make sure my eventual repair actually will have worked.
It's not very solid-looking, is it?

October 9th: Angela picked me up from work in the afternoon. She and our niece Mariela had taken Chubby to the vet for some vaccinations, so we stopped in Rincon for an ice cream.

October 10th: Angela, Sofie, Thyss with Stefanie and Andres, Hannah, Paola, and Juan. (We went to Thyss' plant farm)

October 11th:"El Demonio y la señorita Prym" by Paulo Coelho.

October 12th: I did a lot of baking today. Calzones and brownies, mainly.

October 13th: I was staying at the hotel for my Wednesday evening class, and I found this little frog on the sign next to my room's door. Pretty cool.

October 14th: The finished brownies. Very tasty, but still not as good as mom's (or sister's). But partially to blame on the baking goods I had, probably.

October 15th: Yep, another cat showed up.

October 16th: A student's motorcycle helmet.

October 17th: A view of the Gulf of Nicoya, taken from the street in front of Angela's parents' house.

October 18th: This is an orange, although the colors remind me of the cover of the book "Freakanomics." It seems that here the color of a citrus fruit on the outside doesn't necessarily correspond to what one would expect on the inside. And it seems that there are many things that are just called "lemons" by default.

By the way, thanks for Paola and Juan for the oranges--they were tasty and made wonderful orange juice!

October 19th: A new 20,000 colones bill that just came into circulation. That'd be about $40, which means that it's probably going to be hard to use it to buy mints at the corner store.
(Thanks for Marcia for being our hand model... one of the new "security" features in the new bills that the treasury is introducing is that if you fold them end to end, they'll make a flower).

October 20th: Waiting to get a tire changed. One of the new tires we just bought a few weeks ago got a flat and was ruined on the way to Guanacaste, but fortunately we had a spare and there was a shop just down the road. They had the tire changed and us up and going in under 30 minutes and 30 dollars, which I have to admit would be near-impossible in many countries.

October 21st: An umbrella at the beach. Angela and I went to Guanacaste for two nights after my Wednesday class.

October 22nd: This statue seems like it should be in a tropical setting on the other side of the world, but it was in a strip mall in Tamarindo. Angela and I went to the Automercado to buy a chicken and some other odd food items.

October 23rd: I know that this is obviously blurred because of the long exposure, but I still like it. From left: Lidio, Lucy, and Wilson.

I took this at a dinner for Lucy. Today was her last day at work, unfortunately (for us, at least!). She was a great mentor and we all learned a lot from her!

So, whew! That was a ton of pictures! Hopefully there was something in there that was interesting for you. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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October 23, 2010

Funny/Cool Video

If you're reading this blog, then there's a decent chance you've already seen the video below. It's a remix that Justice did of the Lenny Kravitz song "Let Love Rule." Weird but funny video:

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October 22, 2010

New Record!

Angela didn't have her Thursday class this week, so she went with me to the resort where I teach my Wednesday class. She must have attracted Sad Jesus Head Decals, because we broke the record coming back: 38!

Let's call it a day, 'cause it ain't getting better than that.

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October 19, 2010

Newspaper Article

From a recent article in La Nación, Costa Rica's biggest newspaper, about Kim Jong-Il's son, Kim Jong-Un:

"Una primera foto suya en edad adulta fue publicada entonces, dando a conocer los rasgos de un joven obeso."

("One of the first photos of him as an adult was published then, depicting the traits of an obese young man.")

I don't know why, but that cracked me up.

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October 18, 2010

Wish Me Luck!

I'd stay and talk longer today, but I've got to get to bed. I need to get up early tomorrow to go to the embassy in San José to apply for a new passport. Doesn't really sound like the most fun of activities, but if we play our cards right, we may be able to get a Döner Kebab out of it.

I thought I should get a picture of me with my passport, though, in case it gets lost along the way. It was a good passport, and over the last 10 years I used it so much that I had to get more pages put in (a service which used to be free, but apparently now they're charging $82 for). Let's hope the new one has a lot of pages, because I've still got itchy feet!

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October 17, 2010

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures...

So, I think I've just about backed up all the pictures I meant to back up (except a series of Cucho pictures and some of the Crappy Casita). I started the Picture a Day project in December of 2009, but there were some other pictures from earlier that year that I liked. You can check them out here if you're interested.

Annie took that particular picture of Angela and I in Cahuita when she visited us. We also had visits from Dustin and Sam that year, so there are pictures of their visit (some of the pictures were taken by them). That was also the year we got a new house, a few new cats, and a new lawn, and all of those moments are captures in all their thrilling detail.

Finally, I added a section of pictures of Traditional Costa Rican Foods. That page includes (of course) coffee, chorreadas de elote, miel de ayote, and flor de itabo. So, if you're bored, you can check those out, too.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

¡Viva Blogtoberfiesta!

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October 16, 2010

You Can Try, But You Just Can't Stop BLOGTOBERFEST!

So, our internet went out for about a day. Turns out it was a wonky modem --"wonky" is a technical word meaning "related to wonk"-- so the company sent a tech and they replaced it. But that's why there was no blog entry yesterday.

Nevertheless, I was right back online today, hard at work researching Deloreans (because that's what the internet's for, pretty much). When you research Deloreans, you're bound to come across Back to the Future references. Among the many I found was this video for an Entertainment Weekly "cast reunion" that had Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, and the Delorean get together and reminisce:

I think that besides an obvious wave of nostalgia, my main thought was, "Holy crap, Lea Thompson has aged well!" I'd add something like, "I hope I look as good as her when I'm her age," but that'd be weird, mainly cause I'm a dude. And that'd take a lot of operations.

But still... Hmm...
No, nevermind.

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October 14, 2010

Just To Keep You Going...

This is a great song:

Die Toten Hosen are actually one of my all-time top 10 favorite bands.
If you're down with the Deutsch, here are the lyrics (it's got a surprisingly positive message):

"Steh auf, wenn du am Boden bist" - Die Toten Hosen
("Get up if you're on the ground")

Wenn du mit dir am Ende bist
und du einfach nicht weiter willst,
weil du dich nur noch fragst
warum und wozu und was dein Leben noch bringen soll

Halt durch, auch wenn du allein bist!
Halt durch, schmeiß jetzt nicht alles hin!
Halt durch, und irgendwann wirst du verstehen,
dass es jedem einmal so geht.

Und wenn ein Sturm dich in die Knie zwingt,
halt dein Gesicht einfach gegen den Wind.
Egal, wie dunkel die Wolken über dir sind,
sie werden irgendwann vorüberziehn.

Steh auf, wenn du am Boden bist!
Steh auf, auch wenn du unten liegst!
Steh auf, es wird schon irgendwie weitergehn!

Es ist schwer, seinen Weg nicht zu verliern,
und bei den Regeln und Gesetzen hier
ohne Verrat ein Leben zu führn,
das man selber noch respektiert

Auch wenn die Zeichen gerade alle gegen dich stehn
und niemand auf dich wetten will,
du brauchst hier keinem irgendeinen Beweis zu bringen,
es sei denn es ist für dich selbst!

Steh auf, wenn du am Boden bist!
Steh auf, auch wenn du unten liegst!
Steh auf, es wird schon irgendwie weitergehn!

Nur keine Panik, so schlimm wird es nicht!
Mehr als deinen Kopf reißt man dir nicht weg!
Komm und sieh nach vorn!

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October 13, 2010

A New Trend?

I just got to Guanacaste for my Wednesday class. Have a look at these alarming statistics from the drive in:

Sad Jesus Head Decals: 21
NON-SAD(!!) Jesus Head Decals: 3!

These "non-sad" decals can be best described as "Stoic Jesus Head," and it would seem they are new to the Jesus Head Decal scene, since I don't recall seeing them before. I would have taken a picture, but I was driving and everything.

In any case, fully 1 out of 7 Jesus Head Decals that I saw today didn't depict crying, bleeding, or a crown of thorns. Does that mean that people have stopped thinking, "Hmm, maybe there's something morbid about depicting my savior suffering the throes of his crucifixion and pasting it to the back of my big-rig truck"? It probably doesn't mean that, but it's an interesting trend that I'll be following in the weeks to come. As loyal readers of Sitzblog, you'll be the first to get the scoop!

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I Don't Remember My Mom Saying Anything Like This...

"Mama said, 'The pistol is the devil's right hand.'"
- Steve Earle, "Devil's Right Hand"

"'Come on,' Mama said, 'There'll be days like this, there'll be days like this,' my mama said."
- Dusty Springfield, "Mama Said"

"My mama said, 'Pa and me, we give you room and bread.'"
- ABBA, "My Mama Said"

"The brightest flame burns quickest."
- Metallica, "Mama Said"

"And my mama said, 'Don't ride that crazy horse.'"
- Lenny Kravitz, "Always on the Run"

"Knock you out."
- LL Cool J, "Mama Said Knock You Out"

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October 12, 2010

Calzones and Brownies

It was a big day for me, in terms of baking. First, I made some calzones. I got the recipe from The Simple Dollar, and they turned out to be very tasty:

I filled them with cheese, mushrooms, and green olives. For me, though, the highlight was the sauce that I made. It was really basic --just mashed garlic, about 9 chopped-up tomatoes, some herbs, and some tomato paste-- but it turned out to be really delicious!

I also tried to make some layered brownies that my mom and/or sister usually make around Christmas time:

In this picture, though, they look a bit toxic. This is the second layer, which is a sort of minty cream layer between the bottom brownie layer and a chocolate glaze on top. It does look really green in this picture, but that's partially because of the light. I don't have any pictures of the finished product yet, but they did turn out to be very tasty, although the top layer just "wasn't like mom used to make." I think that's 'cause I didn't have sweet baking chocolate, and instead had to melt some milk chocolate, which gave it a different flavor and tone. But still good!

So, thanks for reading, and remember to keep checking back daily for new Blogtoberfest entries!

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October 11, 2010

Book Review: "El Demonio y la señorita Prym"

This is a book that I finished this morning. It's called El Demonio y la señorita Prym, which would translate to "The Demon and Miss Prym." It's by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist, among others. It was a good book, and the more I read of Coelho, the more I like him, but in a strange way.

See, my first exposure to the author was when Christa gave me a copy of The Alchemist when I graduated. I read it quickly and liked it a lot, but since I'd not really heard of the author otherwise, I assumed he might have been a bit of a one-hit wonder. Although when I came here to Costa Rica, I started to notice his books in a lot of places--and that's saying quite a lot, since one hardly ever notices books here in the first place!

Then, when I was teaching high school here, I assigned my students to read a novel of their choosing in English. Many of them chose books by Coelho, which naturally made me suspicious. But it also made me skeptical, since they told me they were actually enjoying the books; if these students--who had professed to me that they hated to read, and who told me they'd never read a whole book in their lives, let alone an English book--if THEY liked Coelho that much, then he must really be quite bad.

But I've begun to realize that he is a talented writer, and he seems to connect with his readers somehow. Maybe it's simply the clarity of what he's trying to express. Each book seems to take a larger theme and break it down nicely, using protagonists that the common reader can identify with. At the same time, though, it's frustrating to read his books at times, in the same way looking at some modern art is frustrating: you're always tempted to say, "But that's so simple, even I could do it!" But I guess that's the beauty of it: I didn't do it; Paulo Coelho did it, and he keeps doing it.

This book is the third part of a trilogy, preceded by Veronika Decides to Die and On the Banks of the River Piedra I Sat and Wept (I'm pretty sure that's what they're called... I actually read the second one in Spanish/Swedish, and I'm not sure what it's called in English). My favorite Coelho book is actually Veronika, but this one is also quite good.

As with the other two books in the series, it deals with a week in the life of a certain person. In Demon, it looks at Chantal Prym, a girl in a one-horse village, who meets a traveler from abroad. The traveler makes Chantal his messenger, and his message is "about choice": he has come to see if the world is essentially evil or good. To find out, he offers the village 10 gold bars if they'll commit a crime by murdering an innocent person. It's a fairly simple premise, but there are enough twists and thoughtful moments to keep you engaged (especially if you read the book while exercising on a stationary bike, which naturally lowers your brain's demands, anyhow).

By reading this, I've also once again confirmed that I quite enjoy reading contemporary literature in translation. Maybe it's the actual translation process, but the writing seems to shed a lot of the superfluous linguistic flare and get right to the core of what the author was trying to say... or maybe I'm just stupid. I don't know. But I do know that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors... in German. I also enjoyed Stig Larsson's book in German, and while Nick Hornby is obviously much better in English, if you've gotta read something in Swedish, then you should definitely check out High Fidelity.

The only thing that bothers me about reading novels in Spanish is the punctuation used for thoughts and dialogue. Sometimes it's a simple dash (-) preceding the words a person speaks (and mysteriously, to me at least, is the second dash that precedes the period at the end of some, but not all, of these "quotes"). Then, they have double arrows (>>), but depending on the book, it seems that these are used to sometimes indicate thoughts or continued dialogue by the same person. Finally, this book also used "normal" quotation marks ("), but they seemed to only be used when an angel or demon was talking... or maybe thinking. In any case, it's weird.

Speaking of quotes, here is my favorite quote from the book:

"Para dominar a un hombre, basta con meterle miedo en el cuerpo."

What's the point? If you see any books by Coelho, then go for it! You'll like it, or your money back!*

*Assuming Paulo Coelho would return your money if you didn't like his book.

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October 10, 2010

More Pictures... Again

I've basically finished backing up pictures from 2008 and moved on to 2009, including some from our trip to visit my family in Colorado. Click here if you'd like to see more.

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October 8, 2010

More Pictures

I'm still uploading many old(er) pictures to Flickr, mainly as a backup. I'm almost finished with 2008, and if you're curious to see some of the pictures from our house construction, they're there now. I chose about 50 of the most interesting ones. You can see them here. As a bonus, Flickr generally uploads pictures so that newer pictures are displayed first, so if you look at them in the "photostream," you can scroll through them and watch our house sink into the ground and disappear into nothingness!

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A Very Specific Question

I need Cell Phone advice. As you may know, I HATE cell phones. I hate calling on them, and I think text messages are one of the worst inventions humanity has come up with. I don't want a cell phone for the phone. But, I like internet, and when I'm traveling it's nice to have a phone if there's an emergency, since there don't seem to be pay phones anywhere anymore (especially in the US).

Does anyone who lives in Costa Rica know if there's a phone or a plan that could do the following things:
-Get internet reception through 3G or whatever that's called
-Block text messages
-Turn off incoming calls
-Work in the U.S.
-A camera would be nice, too.

Maybe what I need is one of those Palm Pilots or whatever from a decade ago! Anyhow, if you know about this, maybe you can give me some advice...

(Image from http://www.groove-quantize.com/grooveblog/?p=236)

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October 7, 2010

Back From My Class in Guanacaste

I got back from my Wednesday class in Guanacaste.
Here are the official results:

Sad Jesus Head Decals:
-Trip in: 36*
-Trip back: 23
Round-trip total: 59*

*(New Records)

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October 5, 2010


I am still not really sure why YOU all look at this blog, but I know that one reason that I look at it is the little map you see in the column on the left. It's called a "clustrmap," and it basically puts dots on a world map based on how many visitors come to your site. You can click there and it'll take you to a larger map, along with a list of countries and the number of visitors from each of those countries (scroll down a bit).

The thing is, it only keeps your stats for a year and then it resets them. That's supposed to happen on October 8th or so, so the map may look blank when you read this. As of now, though, it looks something like this:

You can also click on "Map with smaller clustrs" and it'll show you something like this, where it's not as consolidated:

Now, maybe this is just the geography nerd in me, but I think this is really cool! And interesting; for example, I can obviously account for the big dot in Central America and for the huge one around Colorado (hi, mom!). Plus, that huge blank swath running north-south through the whole continent of North America pretty much confirms my suspicions that the states there are pretty worthless, anyhow. But what's harder to understand is how I'm getting visitors from all these other places.

According to the stats, in the last year I've had 3,147 visitors from the U.S. and 534 from Costa Rica. Fair enough. But 292 from India? I don't even know anyone in India! I also enjoy scrolling down that list and checking out the "one hit wonder" countries, like Iran, Montenegro, and the Faroe Islands.

In any case, it's food for thought. If you're ever checking out this page, have a click on the map on the left (and while you're at it, feel free to do a Google search in the box a bit higher or check out any of the ads). Especially feel free to check out the site if you're somewhere in the global boondocks, so I can get a cool dot from a place like Antarctica or Chad.

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October 4, 2010

Pictures of the Day, September 27 - October 3, 2010

Here are some Pictures of the Day for ya:

September 26: Some eggs in our fridge. The egg trays are pretty strange, since they don't really fit into the fridge door like they're supposed to, and because they only hold 10 eggs. But I guess that's the sort of quality we've come to expect from our Salvadoran refrigerator.

We usually buy our eggs from our neighbor, which I guess makes them "farm fresh." Nice.

September 27: Cats like milk. Over here, we're not in any hurry to break through stereotypes.

September 28: Angela built another candy train, this time for her nephew Maikol. She got the idea from my cousin Brian, apparently. And I have a feeling I already know what I'll be getting for my birthday.

September 29: I always think it's weird to see cacti in a country as ridiculously humid as Costa Rica, but they're here, ridiculous or not.
In fact, the other day I saw a three-story cactus in downtown Palmares!

September 30: At the "Taiwan-Costa Rica Friendship Bridge" over the Tempisque River. I know I've talked about it before, but it's always nice to mention, since it really was a pretty stab-in-the-back move on Costa Rica's part to abandon Taiwan for China, once they'd used up Taiwan's generosity.

I don't read Chinese, but I hope this sign says, "Thanks for nothing!"

October 1: It's been raining a lot, so it's good maté weather. I started drinking it out of the wood mortar and pestle thing we had, and it's worked quite well. Good Argentinean fun.

October 2: This is a view of the altar area of the church in Zarcero. Pretty elaborate. Angela and I went to a wedding there. A girl from Berlin (this one, not the real one) was marrying a guy from Spain. It was a good time. It was actually the only wedding I've been to in Costa Rica, besides my own.

October 3: We have an Australian flag towel, although I've never been to Australia. I took it from my folks' house because it was in a closet and my mom said I could take whatever towels I needed from there. I only saw the Union Jack part and thought it was a British flag, actually, since my sister had been to England a few times. But when I got the towel here, I discovered it was an Australian flag, not a British one. And I know my brother spent a year in Australia, and I think my sister may have spent some time there, too.
So, if this is your towel, sorry, I took it.

Well, that's it for today! Hope there was something interesting there for you. Until next time, thanks for reading, and have a good day!

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

October 3, 2010

The Picture of the Day From Yesterday...

...because this is Blogtoberfest, after all! And there are only a few minutes left in the day!

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