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Archive for November, 2007

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal for me, I’ve lived most of my life outside the USA and am not big on holidays for the most part anyway (they seem like more work than fun), but one thing I do like about Thanksgiving is the food.

I’ve been bragging about Thanksgiving food to my girlfriend and told her it’s the “best American food there is”. I didn’t think we’d have a Thanksgiving feast in Costa Rica but my friend Tri called me and told me that at our friend’s bar they were doing a Thanksgiving dinner.

We went and it was, as usual, great. My girlfriend loved the green bean casserole, which is a very atypical dish for Costa Rica and it was the first time she ate turkey. Anyway, the food at my friend Steve’s bar (called The Timeout Tavern in Escazú, near the country club) is always top notch. It’s the best American food in San Jose, Costa Rica and if you are ever in town you need to come by a few days till you happen onto one of his fantastic daily specials.

Maná’s concert in Costa Rica

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Mexican band Maná came to Costa Rica yesterday for their Amar es Combatir tour and played in the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibás. I had only recently been introduced to their music, and liked a couple of their songs like Bendita tu Luz and Labios Compartidos but my girlfriend likes them and there aren’t as many concert opportunities in Costa Rica as in most countries so we went.

We bought VIP tickets and while that granted us instant entry to the concert it also meant that we were uncovered in the rain, as the show was held in Saprissa’s soccer stadium and the seats close to the stage were out on the soccer field. The rain wasn’t too bad but I wish we hadn’t arrived early as the concert started late.

Mana started off with some songs I didn’t know, and even the ones I did know aren’t exactly concert songs but I had fun because they made good use of visual effects to underline the meaning behind their music ranging from political to environmental and they had a very positive sincerity to them. Nevertheless I wasn’t completely into their concert and spent some of the time looking up from the field at the packed stands and imagining that I was playing football in Saprissa stadium.

Leaving was a huge pain in the ass, as a sea of about 20,000 people instantly filled the neighboring streets so we stopped in a weird Chinese restaurant and waited for the crowd to disperse before heading home.

My new 50-gallon show tank

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

I have rekindled my interest in aquariums and within the last two months I’ve purchased two small tanks and started breeding guppies and platys. I’d been looking for a larger 50-70 gallon tank and yesterday I found a great deal on a 50-gallon aquarium and I bought it to use as my first show tank. I’ll still need to buy that huge 300-gallon tank I was eying one day but the two breeding tanks and the new show tank are going to keep me happy for a while (at least I have somewhere to put all my fry).

I’m using a Cascade internal filter, a heater keeping the water at 77 degrees (it’s been uncharacteristically cold in Costa Rica these days) and natural rocks and plants. The live plants are a first for me, as I’ve always used plastic aquarium plants. Now I’ll never go back, and even removed all plastic plants from my show tank as they look gaudily flourescent next to the live aquarium plants.

In the tank I have angelfish, mollies, platys, guppies, catfish, Cardinal Neons, Red Tail Sharks, Zebra Danios and, of course, guppies. I have a beautiful Beta as well and a very interesting “Blind Tetra” who has no eyes and swims around the tank bumping into everything.

I’ve moved some fry over inside plastic breeding tanks that float inside the show tank and though the water is a tad cloudy (I didn’t wash the silt out of the natural river rocks well enough) the aquarium is beautiful and I’ve spent hours looking at it already.

I am planning to add some additional tropical fish to the tank after it cycles and will also focus on breeding show guppies. One of which gave birth today, and now I have platy and guppy fry to raise, which is what I love the most about aquariums. Livebearers are easy to breed and guppies are a joy. I’ll post pictures and more about my aquarium setup as my hobby progresses.

Another stupid pet video

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Ok, I can’t resist. These furry bastards are funny.

This time they are having a fight, and I get to be the ref to make sure they don’t bite each other’s eyes.

‘Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I’m caught in a loop of various renditions of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight right now. Miles Davis just more than did it justice with Thelonious on the ivory in the last version I listened to and I have to give it its due and declare it the greatest jazz standard of all time.
My favorite renditions include Mr. Monk himself, but so many great jazz musicians have taken it on and played the hell out of it.

I so very much wish to see a jazz giant perform it live one day…

The Invasion and Keeping Mum

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Today I went to the movies again with my girlfriend. I hadn’t been a fan of movies for a while as they seem to have gotten more formulaic, or I’ve become even more impatient but the VIP theater in Terramall is comfortable enough to be fun. You get a leather recliner and food service in your seat so I’ve found myself spending an afternoon in the mall about every week these days.

The movies aren’t getting any better, but the last two I saw were refreshingly mediocre, as opposed to appallingly formulaic. For some reason the 2005 Rowan Atkinson movie Keeping Mum was in the theater here in Costa Rica. It was a weird mix of boringly amusing.

And today we watched The Invasion, which was creepy enough in certain parts to be interesting, but the ending was anti-climatic to me. I was sure there was an insipid plot twist to come when the helicopter takes off, but no it all just wraps up with a quick run-through of the happy ending’s details.

Neither film was any good, but were less irksome to me than Hollywood’s fare has been in recent years and Nicole Kidman didn’t irritate me like she usually does.

Engagement rings and wedding rings. Things I knew nothing about.

Monday, November 12th, 2007

A recent bout of curiosity disabused me of my ignorance of there being both a wedding and engagement ring. I hate rings (and wearing any jewelry) and I thought it was just one effin’ ring I would have to come to terms with and yeah I never thought about it being odd to ask for the engagement ring back to re-present at the wedding owing largely to the fact that as a male member of the species I rarely thought about weddings at all. I thought it was all just one ring for the whole marriage thing.

From what I can tell, all women have known all about this since they were teenagers. I got the full run-down from my soon-to-be fiancé (is there a term for that?) together with an amused roll of the eyes. Now I am just wondering if it would be a transgression of some tacit female protocol to request a really big aquarium for myself instead of one of my rings. Hell, I may as well ask…

Didn’t go over too well says the significantly less amused roll of the eyes.

My puppy learns to “paw”. Give me 5!

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Harry shows his prowess at giving a wicked cool high-five.

Harry and Fiona found a frog

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Harry and Fiona found a frog and chased it into the kitchen. I told them to take it back outside.

I’m not sure if I want them to eat it or not…

RIP Alvin

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I met Alvin playing poker, back when I was doing it for a living. I was playing late at night in the Horseshoe Casino in San Jose, Costa Rica and he came in to play. He isn’t the kind of guy you’d forget. He looked like a Samurai and he played very aggressively. He’d raise every un-raised pot and was good enough at post-flop play to almost break even most nights. Ultimately, it wasn’t profitable play and he knew it. But it was fun. And that was the point. He played for fun and made any table interesting. We loved his action and the action he’d generate and he was a pleasant and fun guy to hang out with around the poker scene.

We weren’t close friends but we’d sometimes go out to eat or hang out before, after or in between the poker sessions. I haven’t been much of a partier since moving in with my girlfriend and he always said we should hang out more and since I knew he was pretty bored in town with only gambling as entertainment in most of his free hours I always promised that we’d go party some time.

He lived close to me and a few times I gave him a ride to his house after the games. I can’t say I had the honor to call him a good friend but I liked the guy. He had a child-like earnestness about him. Everything you said he’d think about very hard and say what he thought, whether he thought you were right or wrong yet he was never argumentative. He just seemed to think very hard on everything.

Anyway, last weekend I heard some foreigner was murdered in Escazu, where I used to live and my friends jokingly asked if it was me or one of my friends. It was a pretty shocking crime, as 3 people were found stabbed by kitchen knives.

For some reason when I heard the description of the scene I thought of Alvin as roughly fitting the description. You don’t really expect such fleeting fears to be true but I spoke to a mutual friend and he asked me if I’d heard about Alvin. “It was him?” I asked. When I found out my girlfriend looked up the news online and warned me that it was pretty graphic. And it was, the photos of him aren’t easy to forget.

The newspapers didn’t know anything but didn’t hesitate to speculate that it was a fight over the woman who was also found stabbed and dead. But later the newspapers reported that Alvin had seemed to indicate that the man and woman with Alvin had intended to rob him in broken Spanish as he was dying. Whatever the case is, I’ll likely never know why Alvin died and it seems so very weird.

It’s been bothering me more than I thought. I’ve been less patient and a bit more stressed. I guess I won’t be able to keep my promise to Alvin to go party with him sometime, but he’d understand. He was a good guy.