February 27, 2011

Weekly Picture Project: Week 8 (H)

Once again, this week's topic was left open for us to choose. Earlier this evening I thought, "Oh crap! I've taken a lot of pictures this week, but I don't think any of them have to do with the letter H!"

As it turns out, though, when I looked through my pictures, I had way more H options than our standard 3 or 4 pictures per week. So, I'll upload my 4 official pictures, as well as a couple extra ones. Consider them the "Director's Cut."

Picture 1: I had taken this picture because "Handle" starts with H. But then it occurred to me: "Duh, it's even got the letter H in the picture. And a Hair scrunchy. And it's in a Hotel. Hjackpot!

Picture 2: Hangers in a Hotel.

Picture 3: Hawaii towel.

Picture 4: Happy. 

Here are the "Director's Cut" Pictures:
The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. One of the books I read this week.

Hot: It's been pretty warm and dry, so I've had to put the sprinkler in parts of the yard to keep the grass from dying or going to weed.

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Another free download, another book that happened to start with H, but which I didn't notice until later.

So, that's it for this week. Thanks for checking out the pictures, and have a great week!

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

February 24, 2011

Sitzbook: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (This Time, NOT The Warrant Song)

A few days ago I finished Uncle Tom's Cabin and in the meantime I've actually made it through a whole other book, but I think I needed a few days to digest everything in UTC. The book was interesting, to say the least, although I didn't really realize how loaded it was with history, criticism, and controversy. I'm not referring to the actual text, but to everything else associated with it. My friend Marie pointed me to this page, which is pretty exhaustive and fascinating.

I don't intend to get into anything in this post except the actual plot of the book, since so much has already been said about it. 

My question: "Did I like the book?" 
My answer: "Yes." 

My other thoughts related to that answer:

-I had actually expected the character of Uncle Tom to be an antagonist, because of the connotations that the name carries today; instead, he just seemed to be overly passive and submissive. Certainly, that's gonna come with its own set of problems, but nevertheless, he seems to be just about the only character that I found to be likable, as well as at least halfway-conceived.

-Don't expect to understand why it's called Uncle Tom's Cabin until almost the very end. Even then, it doesn't really make sense. If anything, it ought to have been called "Uncle Tom's Shitty Journey Through Slavery in Various Unappealing-Sounding Places."

-I guess their whole story is more of a sub-plot, but how come Stowe seemed to forget about Eliza and George for about 4/5ths of the book?

-Don't get me started on Eva. And definitely not on Topsy. Not even gonna open those two cans of worms.

-Evidently, back in those days people said "ejaculations" instead of "exclamations," which could have led to confusion and humor in both the dining room and the bedroom.

-For a story that's nearly 160 years old, I have to admit that it's held up remarkably well. Its antiquity only adds to its interest, in my opinion. Plus, it was a free download through Amazon (more info here), so the price was definitely right!

If anyone else has read UTC, I'd be interested to hear what you thought of it. Thanks for reading!

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

February 22, 2011

Sitzbook: "Uncle Tom's Cabin"

I just finished this book yesterday, and I'm sure I'll have more comments to come in the future. But for now, I just wanted to mention this weird phenomenon: Does anyone else hear the song "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Warrant in their head every time they hear this book mentioned? And if you're in the bookstore and walk past Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls, does your mind hear the pounding guitar riff from the Metallica song of the same name?

In any case, now that I've finished the book, I may have some respite from continually playing this (admittedly great) song on repeat in my brain:

(Note: From what I can discern based on the lyrics, the video, and the book, this song has absolutely nothing in common with the book, besides a title.)

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

February 20, 2011

Weekly Picture Project: Week 7 (G)

We tossed around a few ideas for our "G" topic this week, but I think the one that I liked the best turned out to be "Great." We had also mentioned "Grain" or "Grey Scale," and I think I managed to get a bit of those this week, too. I noticed that these shrunk-down small pictures are turning out kind of grainy and crappy, so if something looks interesting, you can click on the picture number or the actual picture to see a higher-quality photo. So, have a look:

Picture 1: A coffee table that Wilson made. We recently bought it from him and Lucy, so they came by one day and dropped it off. It's a truly great table! It was also great that I was able to use my new tripod to take this picture!

Picture 2: Another great thing: Many different, beautiful trees seem to be blossoming all over Costa Rica these days. I really like the pink and white ones, but I think these orange ones are my favorite.

Picture 3: Now, for a bit of greatness, as well as grey scale and grain. This is part of a statue mural at the entrance to Filadelfia, Guanacaste, in northwest Costa Rica. Apparently it's a famous archaeological town.

Picture 4: A lounge chair at the hotel where Angela and I stayed on Friday night. We decided to stay at the Best Western in Liberia, and it turned out to be quite nice. It was not really close to where my class was, but the price was really good, and it included breakfast and a lovely pool area. To me, that was simply Great.

So, that's it for this week. Let's see what we come up with for the letter "H"! Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

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

February 19, 2011

An A-Z of the Things I Love

As I mentioned the other day, Lucy's having an international picture competition. The topic is "An A-Z of the Things I Love." She actually just extended the deadline to Monday, but since I was just using my old pictures (which is allowed), I decided to put them up now, since I've already got them ready.

So, all of these are pictures that I took in the past. I wish I'd had more time this week to do an all-new A-Z, but I didn't. You may have seen some of these, or you may not have. Either way, I hope there's something you like!

A: Angela (Taken in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010)

B: Books in Berlin (Taken in Berlin --the real one-- in 2006)

C: Coffee (Taken in Salzburg, Austria in 2010)

D: Docks (Taken at Steinhuder Meer, Germany in 2010)

E: Eggs (Taken in Hannover, Germany in 2010... and almost used for the letter "X," since that's how my students pronounce the word "eggs.")

F: Fields (Taken in eastern Washington in 2005)

G: Guns N' Roses (Taken in Sintra, Portugal in 2010)

H: Hannover (Taken in Hannover, Germany in 2005)

I: Ice Cream (Taken at Steinhuder Meer, Germany in 2010)

J: Jumping (Taken in Berlin, Germany in 2010)

K: Kids Who Aren't Mine (Taken in Hannover, Germany in 2010)

L: Llamas (Taken near Humahuaca, Argentina in 2006)

M: My Mom, and My Mom's Mom (Taken in Littleton, Colorado in 2010. Originally, I had put up a picture of the Little Mermaid, since I thought I didn't have any pictures that I had taken of my mom recently, with the exception of one I took of her eating a Döner Kebab in Switzerland in 2006. But then I remembered I had taken this picture!)

N: Nyhavn/New Harbor (Taken in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2005)

O: Old Folks Hanging Out (Taken in San Antonio, Argentina in 2006)

P: Paintings in Portugal (Taken in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010)

Q: Quixote (Taken in Madrid, Spain in 2010)

R: Regensburg (Taken in Regensburg, Germany in 2010)

S: Sweet Swedes (Taken in Regensburg, Germany in 2010)

T: Train Tunnels (Taken in Munich, Germany in 2010)

U: Urinals (Taken in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2005)

V: The Virgin Mary (Taken in Berlin, Costa Rica in 2007)

W: Windmills (Taken in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2005)

X: Xylophones (Taken in Liberia, Costa Rica in 2010)

Y: Yuan (Taken in Munich, Germany in 2010)

Z: Zocalo (Taken in the Zocalo --it's a word in English, too; I checked!-- in Mexico City in 2008)

Well, that's my A-Z. I tried to keep the descriptions short and sweet, but if you have any questions, feel free to mention them in the comments section. Thanks for reading and looking, and remember: it's not too late to get in your own A-Z of things you love!

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

February 17, 2011

Sitzbook: "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest"

This is my first official "Sitzbook" blog entry, besides the one where I introduced the project. My idea is to generally just talk about the books I'm reading and any thoughts related to them. I'd love to hear any comments or ideas you have.

Anyhow, I recently read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. It's a new little book, pretty obscure; maybe you've heard of it? Ha ha, just kidding. Everyone --and everyone's literate dogs-- has heard of and read this book, so I won't really get into it too much here. I did have two things I wanted to mention, though:

1. I think it's great that the people in the book drink so much coffee. There's nary a point in the novel where someone isn't making it, drinking it, or talking about making or drinking it later. Apparently Sweden is only the 6th biggest coffee-drinking country in the world, so maybe Larsson was trying to rally the troops. Evidently other readers and reviewers think the amount of coffee consumption in the novels is a bit absurd, but it's helping keep Costa Rica's economy afloat. So, coffee-cup bottoms up!

2. It would seem that I'm not the only person who noticed quite a bit of product names being mentioned in these novels (people talk about this phenomenon here, here, and here). In this trilogy, people don't use computers, they use Apple iBooks. They don't call someone on a cell phone, they call someone on an Ericsson or a Palm Tungsten. They don't drink mineral water, they drink Ramlösa. Maybe it's because I read the first book in the series in German and the second in Spanish, but I didn't really notice until the third (which I read in English) that these product mentions were so frequent. I don't think I'd necessarily go as far as to call it "product placement," though. In fact, I can almost imagine that when Larsson dropped these names, he was sort of doing it semi-ironically, since so much of his writing seemed to contain a critique of modern society. Sometimes that criticism was outright, and other times it seemed more subtle. 
Then again, I suppose he could have just been really into 7-11, IKEA, and Billy's Pan Pizza. But since he died before the novels were published, I guess we'll never know.

In any case, if you've read these books, did you notice the coffee addicts or the name-brand products? If so, what did you think of them? Feel free to chime in below in the comments section.

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

February 15, 2011

Photo Contest!

If you've been following this blog even slightly, you may get the impression that I like recurring, long-term projects. That impression is completely true! I have my Pictures of the Day, my Weekly Photo Project, Sitzbook, Blogtoberfest, and other projects and schemes that even I've probably forgotten about.

So, I wanted to share Lucy's idea for an international picture competition! You can find the guidelines here. Basically, it's called "An A-Z of Things I Love," and it's open to anyone who's interested. You need to find pictures that YOU have taken (in other words, older pics from your collection are OK) or will take before the competition ends, and you should have one picture for each letter.

The deadline is February 19th, so there are only a few days left. I'll be participating, and I hope that some of you will, too! If you do, post a link in the comments section here so others can see your entries. Good luck!

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

February 14, 2011

Something New: Sitzbook

As you may know, I like to read. I also like to write and take pictures. In an effort to combine these three things, I've started "Sitzbook." If you look on the left and scroll down a bit, you'll see a slideshow and a list of books. The slideshow is also the same as the one in this post, but I'll be adding more pictures and books in the future.

In any case, I usually try to read a book every two weeks or so, but now that I've gotten a Kindle --great for avoiding Costa Rican book mold, by the way!-- I'm trying to read a book a week. I'll try to comment on some of them and do some mini-reviews along the way. It's mainly just something for me, but if I put it on the blog, maybe some of you might be interested or have some comments. In any case, below is the slideshow so far. I'm currently on book seven of the year 2011, Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I had been meaning to read it for some time now, but I was also motivated by the fact that it was free through Amazon's Kindle program (and remember, you don't need the actual reader; you can download the program for your computer for free!).

So, here's what I've been reading this year:

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

February 13, 2011

Weekly Picture Project: Week 6 (F)

For this week's Picture Project, we had quite a few ideas for possible topics, so I think we each decided to get what we could. Some of the big ideas were "filter," "flash," and "f-stops." However, I don't have filters or a flash for my camera, and after two weeks of exposure and depth of field, I was about f-stopped out. We also mentioned "food" and "fun." So, I just figured I'd get what I could:

Here's my picture for "food." We had some friends over in the afternoon, and I made some pizzas. I took this picture when I was preparing the sauce.

Here's one for "fun": Angela sitting in front of a giant bull statue (next to a giant monkey statue that made howling sounds). They're outside a BBQ restaurant on the highway back from Guanacaste.

And as for "filter," I don't have a filter, but I forgot that I can just use sunglasses to filter light. So the picture above is normal...

...this one is taken with Angela's pink sunglasses in front of the camera lens...

...and for this picture I put my own (black) sunglasses in front of the lens. Not the most amazing filter, but it'll do in a pinch, I guess.

So, thanks for checking these out. Have a great day!

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

February 9, 2011


As I recently mentioned in my language learning blog, I recently heard about "wordles." Basically, they take the common words in a body of text and display them so they look pretty. Here's a wordle for Sitzblog:

Evidently, I say the word "really" a lot, and I name-drop Angela and San Ramon or San Jose quite frequently.

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

February 7, 2011

Pictures of the Day: January 30 - February 6, 2011

I'm actually not too far behind at this moment! Here are the Pictures of the Day from the past week:

January 30th: Hannah and Stefanie. We went to Sofie and Thijs' house for coffee, and so did Juan and Paola. It was a nice afternoon.

January 31st: This is from a series of pictures I took for our weekly Picture Project.
f/22, 1/13 sec., ISO 1600 (should have set it lower, but oh well).
The Picture Project theme this week was Exposure, with a bit of depth of field thrown in for fun. In this picture, I tried to show "good"/proper exposure (although it is a little dark).

February 1st: Our friends Brad and Shani recently had a baby, so I decided to break out the famous "Brad Shirt" in honor of them. Good work!

The Brad Shirt itself has seen better days. Josh also has --or at least had-- a matching one because he and I made them in Hannover around 12 years ago. We happened to have a senior picture of Brad with us when we passed by a T-shirt store, and the rest is history. I believe that Josh and I premiered our shirts in Budapest, to Brad's surprise. I believe he said something like, "That's kind of morbid."

In any case, congrats to the new parents!

February 2nd: From the company in Cañas, where I teach my Wednesday evening class. I liked the nice industrial feel to the sunset.

February 3rd: Scenes from work: Oscar and a student.

February 4th: At a hotel in Brasilito, where I teach a class on Friday evenings. Angela went with me this week, so that was nice.

February 5th: A girl digging on the beach at Playa Conchal. We spent a few hours there since it's about a 10-minute walk from Brasilito.

February 6th: An orchid in our living room. Silhouetted in the sunset, it sort of looked like some kind of strange moth or bird.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and checking out the pictures, and have a great week!

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