Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So Starts Volume 3!


I was serious when I said I was back, but getting back into full speed took a bit of time considering my obligations in life. So here I am! And hopefully I have everything planned out well enough to be able to stay here permanently this time...

One of the best parts of 2011 was writing and commenting within the brilliance of this blogosphere. It made me feel so much as though I was a part of the world as opposed to living in just an isolated little corner of it. I discovered new music, new friends, and new ways of looking at the world. And now after a year of almost no meaningful posts, I find myself longing once again for that sense of friendship and constant discovery. Who knows? Maybe something I share will touch somebody in a way that's positive and just as fulfilling.

I've gotten rid of some old features and integrated some new ones into this latest reboot, and I honestly believe that my readers will enjoy the change quite a bit. This volume of my blog will be focused more on original content and usable tips for both expatriate humans and homebound ones. I will also feature the stories and biographies of different ex-pats all over the world, as well as a weekly opportunity for me to express myself the way I can't really do on my Facebook wall anymore without starting a fight with friends and family. After all, this here blog is MY little corner of the interwebz, and nobody can go running to Zuckerberg when their feelings get hurt.

I in accordance to the unanimous ruling by "We Who Spend Way too much Frikkin' Time on the Internet", Saturday no longer exists. Yeah. We killed it. In its place, now resides the glorious day of Caturday where we show appreciation to our feline allies for making the Black Death less horrific than it already was. So in honor of this newly christened day of the week, I will be sharing my favorite music and Caturday related pictures that I have found from my perusing the internet (which is partly ruled by cats, fun fact).

And so begins the third installment of this hodgepodge of random thoughts and observations. I'm looking forward to making it stronger than ever, and hopefully THIS time nobody will want to press charges.....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Of Hives and Men

From Wikipedia:
Urticaria (from the Latin urticanettle (whence It. ortica, Sp. ortiga, Pg. urtiga, Fr. ortieurere, to burn),[1] commonly referred to ashives, is a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps. Hives are frequently caused by allergic reactions; however, there are many non-allergic causes. Most cases of hives lasting less than six weeks (acute urticaria) are the result of an allergic trigger. Chronic urticaria (hives lasting longer than six weeks) is rarely due to an allergy.

There are so many people around our entire world who have never known the dreaded fire itch, they have never woken up in the middle of the night with lips that feel like two (American) footballs were surgically grafted to their mouths. These people have my envy.

I appear to have finally squashed this particular outbreak with the help of dangerously high doses of antihistamines that exceeded the recommended dosage by a factor of about three. But this one was bad. I got very little sleep this week, and even drifted into the realm of sleep deprivation induced hallucinations for a while. Nothing too dramatic, mostly visions of sand paper themed amusement parks where hives sufferers can go to roll around and find relief and agony in a single embrace of the sandpaper costumed characters.

Since moving from the San Jose province to the Cartago province almost 3 years ago, I have been getting recurring breakouts in hives almost like clockwork whenever the rainy season begins. I'm not sure if it's a certain pollen in the air at that time, a shamanic attack from an over punctual bruja, or a yearly reminder of how lame the Cartago province can be (and it kind it is) in a way that I can't readily ignore by shoving my face deeper into my computer monitor.

We really need to move from here. I have recently made friends with a very brilliant fellow ex-pat from the US who lives in the Heredia province. It is very secluded, like here, but there are more things to do in the form of taking your kids to a park or your wife to an actual restaurant. Plus many of the properties in the area are located on the eastern facing slope of the mountains, giving all the residents a beautiful bird's eye view of the Central Valley. That's more my speed than the coffee farms and breeze-less afternoons of my current location. Cartago has communicated to me that it does not like the fact that I live here, and so we are getting out of this Latin American version of Nebraska as quickly as possible....

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Monday / New Reboot

Pic completely unrelated....

New content and a new blog are coming soon! Now that the twins are a little less maintenance, I can focus again on this project I love so dearly. I had to walk some strange paths in this almost year since I last updated this little corner of the interwebz, and there will be alot of catching up to do with all of my fellow bloggers as well.... To all of you who have kept coming back to find the same article about vaping (still doing that) for the last 9 months, sorry about that, but I couldn't bring myself to do a 'farewell' post because I had every intention of coming back.


Talk to you all this week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Happy, Joye Joye!!

I know that I usually reserve Wednesdays for my weekly update and how my online income project is going, but I decided to share one of my fruits of that labor with you instead. And any of you who are smokers, and would like to get that little "you are probably going to die" annoyance you have in the back of your head whenever you light up, out of your head; you may want to read this post!

I have been a pack to a pack and a half a day smoker for about 20 years now. I know, it's stupid. It got to the point where I was waking up every morning  and coughing up horrifying black material in the shower. This was my personal wake-up call that I needed to get rid of these smelly, dirty, and deadly little torches I was carrying between my fingers all day. The birth of my twin girls solidified this to the point where action was made in the form of trying to quit cold turkey in the beginning of this May. I was a prick. 20 years of nicotine infused blood was something that my body didn't really want to say goodbye to with any comfort. I found myself snapping at people close to me as well as clients I was working for. And I am not the kind of person snaps that anyone, in fact my laid-back personality is something that is always endeared me to others.

So after about a day, I found myself running to the market for another maliciously underpriced (about one dollar US) pack of Marlboro reds. I apologized to everyone around me who I threatened to stab the day prior, and tried to come up with another way to kill this smoking habit. Patty and I went into San Jose that weekend, and I decided to give the nicotine patch a try. I thought that maybe if I came up with a hybrid rehabilitation method by using the patch smoking a bit more herb for the oral fixation, I would see more success. Nope. My first hole in that plan was supplementing more herb. Trying to code a complex point-of-sale database while stoned did lead to some pretty hilarious results, but there was too fine a line between something funny and something I could lose my job over for me to continue this way. That, and the patch just made me itch and didn't really reduce my cravings at all. So I was back to the drawing board with my Marlboro reds yet again...

So I did some research, and I found out about the new phenomenon called electronic cigarettes. These are little devices that consist of a battery, and atomizer, and a mouthpiece that contains nicotine infused liquid. They were invented in China during the first half of the last decade, and they are now beginning to see some worldwide use. They really intrigued me because they utilized water vapor as opposed to smoke as both a medium and the only exhaled byproduct. I scoured all over YouTube and the Internet for information on them, and eventually found a forum maintained by people who really enjoy and swear by them. There were literally hundreds of posts from people who were lifelong smokers who completely kicked the habit by using these devices. And there were also an abundant amount of threads dedicated to modding and reviewing them in a way that this was obviously becoming one of these people's favorite pastimes.

So I lurked for a little bit, and watched all the reviews on YouTube that I could for the various models (and there are several), and I eventually settled on the Joye 510. The biggest challenge for me in ordering anything online is my location. Costa Rican customs enforcement is world famous for its corruption and frequent ability to "lose" incoming packages that are addressed to people from English-speaking countries. So I bought my new stogie from a US-based vendor, and had the package sent to my mother's house where she would repackage it to make it look like a child's birthday present. I was amazed at the insane variety of flavors and nicotine strengths that you could choose from when ordering these puppies. I decided to get a sample of about 20 different flavors at the highest nicotine level, with the plan being to eventually wean myself down to the zero nicotine level strength liquid over the course of a couple years.

So my package took about a month altogether to get here, but opening it up was like Christmas day for me. I charged up the battery, loaded the cartridge with some Dr Pepper flavored e-liquid, pressed the button and took a long drag.

Absolutely brilliant...

It feels like what smoking should feel like, and with the strength of the e-liquid that I use, five or six puffs still gives me that goofy head spinning nicotine rush that you get when you go several hours without a cigarette. The flavors come out so beautifully, and the vapor leaves absolutely no smell whatsoever. In the short time that I've been using these, I have not had a single craving for an analog cigarette the entire time. The Joye 510 is famous for hitting more like a bong than a cigarette, and I can definitely attest to that. So my new habit comes with a lot more advantages than my old one such as:

1.) I can and have smoked in a movie theater during a movie as well as on a bus and my favorite bookstore. And yeah...I can smoke WHILE taking a shower in the morning.
2.) I feel all of the benefits of quitting smoking like the return of my sense of smell and taste, and my physical endurance has risen sharply as well.
3.) I can pick a flavor according to my mood or occasion. Cappuccino in the morning, Dr. Pepper when I am out and about, and  jasmine when Dr. Girlfriend and I are watching TV in bed together...(yes I can smoke in bed now too!)
4.) It just looks frikkin cool when the green LED lights up whenever I take a drag.
5.) I can smell my baby girls and I don't smell like an ashtray anymore.
6.) I am thinking of starting an entirely new blog based on the crazy ass lucid dreams I have when I smoke these things before going to sleep.

I can't say enough good things about this little gizmo. I believe that it has literally saved both my health, and possibly my life. It is a way more enjoyable habit than smoking cigarettes, and I can't recommend it enough to anyone I know who is still chained to those stinky coffin nails. If this gadget is something which you can use, I already did all the research as far as prices and websites that sell them. If you live in the United States or Canada, I highly recommend these guys. They have the lowest prices outside of ordering from China directly, and they have a huge variety of models and flavors of e-liquid to chose from. If you live in the UK or parts of Western Europe, rumor has it that these are the guys to turn to. But no matter where you go to order these things, I urge you to do so. It's nice to wake up in the morning and not feel like you are dying....

And to wrap it up, here is a video of Katherine Heigl sharing her e-cig with David Letterman just to show you that I am not making this up!


Thank You So Much, Nicked-Out Chinese Inventors!!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Travel With Vice Magazine: Filipino Feed Lot / Soup No. 5

 I think one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who wants to travel the world is wrestling with the reluctance of one's own appetite. If you really think about it, a lot of the culinary staples in American and other Western diets are pretty disgusting. Cheese for example is something you never see many people from Asian countries eating because the thought of leaving cow's milk to rot for months is pretty damn gross. And the thought of taking the most undesirable meaty portions of an animal that you normally would feed a dog with, and making a red tubular concoction out of it isn't very appetizing when you put your mind to it either.

One of the features of this blog is still "international eats" even though my lazy ass has skipped it for quite a few months. And in that feature we will explore more specific examples of where cultures digress when it comes to food. But for those who are curious, you can check out my first (and only) installment of this feature here.

Luckily for me Costa Rican food is actually more like a milder version of Mexican cuisine, so my spoiled American palate wasn't too traumatized when I started eating like a local here. It's mostly beans and rice, some kind of grilled animal, and garlic and lemon seasoned slaw with lots of corn tortillas. However, ex-pats and other world travelers in places like Asia and Africa have a little bit more internal wrestling to do with themselves when they sit down for a locally prepared meal.

In this week's episode, Vice correspondent Ivar Berglin travels to the Philippines and decides to sample some of the local delicacies from one of the more "authentic" restaurants in Manila. Filipino cuisine, much like other cultures and Asia, prize freshness and beauty of presentation above most other aspects of food preparation. Ivar finds that out himself when he is asked to go retrieve and have butchered his own chicken for one of the restaurant's specialties. Despite the unique way it was prepared, one cannot deny that the chicken will be very fresh....

Mind you this video is not for the squeamish or culinarily closed minded