Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brief note on cafecito

One of the things I've grown to like while living here is coffee.

If you ever knew how much I hated the smell, taste, or thought of coffee before coming here, you would understand how marvelous that is. Now, I still dislike black coffee, but put a bunch of milk and sugar in a cup of coffee and I will drink the whole thing. Fortunately my host mamá somehow makes the coffee exactly how I like it! I still haven't quite figured out what she does to it, but I've managed to approximate the taste when I've had to make my own.

Tomorrow afternoon we U.S. students are hosting a little coffee party (cafecito) for our host mamás and I'm looking forward to that. We'll be serving small sandwiches (sánguches in Spanish!) and brownies in addition to the coffee.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of these days...

... I always have lots of things planned to do. I don't normally get around to doing them quite when I meant to, though.

Anyways. One of those things was to update my link list on the side there. Honestly, if there were a way I could conveniently link my Google Reader list to my blog sidebar, that would be great. But there is not. However I can give you examples...

I have several folders. The ones I actually read are "Geekish" (yes, that's the name), "Christianity and life" (for which I couldn't come up with a better name), "Language" and "Friend blogs".

"Geekish" sample: which basically collects fascinating scientific breakthroughs/studies for those who don't think the newspaper covers it enough.

"Christianity and life" sample: Pyromaniacs, run mainly by a man named Phil Johnson. Fascinating theological discussions, and Spurgeon readings on top of that!

"Language" sample: OK, so I love this sort of stuff. The most recent find (today, actually) was How to Write Badly Well which amuses me to no end. It's self-explanatory.

"Friend blogs" sampe: There are a lot of blogs here, plus a web forum, but hardly anything gets updated with any frequency. The RI has been experiencing a kind of resurrection, though!

Coming soon... more on music, and hopefully an actual updated link directory in the sidebar. You'd be surprised at what I keep tabs on!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dinner with the couple, and music searching #2

My goodness, last night was sooooo random. Story first, then intro to country music browsing.

First of all, my student group studying here in this Central American country decided to cook dinner for the special speakers that came this week for chapel. See, lots of people at this institute were signing up to host them for dinner (i.e. take them out to some random restaurant), but as of Tuesday morning nobody had yet signed up to take care of them Wednesday night, and one of my fellow students suggested we do something for them.

Originally the plan was to take them to a local restaurant, but we changed our minds and decided to make something ourselves. (We're college students. This was cheaper and would be just as delicious!) So last night, we convened in the institute's kitchen (which we were allowed to borrow, fortunately!) and made ourselves a large batch of heavenly alfredo, and heated up some rolls as well.

So, after chapel last night, we sat down to a delicious dinner of alfredo, rolls, Tang, and cookies. And these chapel speakers were hilarious! The guy's sixty, and his wife's close to that, but they were talking music with us (mainly with the other end of the table, actually) and keeping up their end easily! In other words, they (the man mainly) was discussing music that was popular with this group of just-above-teenagers, and held his own.

Of course, the music conversation split into different groups after a bit, and I happened to be sitting next to a guy who likes country. And across from me was a gal friend of mine, who apparently also likes country. My gal friend told me I would probably like a lot of country; and the other guy (who was the cook for this night, incidentally) was listing off names of his favorite country artists.

The supper was a smashing success. The couple loved the food and the fact that they didn't have to go anywhere, and they were introduced to this country's best packaged cookies which they might never have tasted otherwise. And us? We loved hosting them. It's not every day you meet such a fun couple, and we got to eat dinner with them!


So, I have another music-searching, self-assigned research topic: country music. I'm listening to Garth Brooks (this particular YouTube playlist, that is) right now, and there was one song I really liked the instrumentation of... Standing Outside the Fire, that was it. And I like The Thunder Rolls as well. But... meh, I'm not sure this guy is all my style. I don't like twang or whiny electric guitar. Some songs are great, yes, but not all of them.

More later on: Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Alabama, George Strait. Especially Alabama since my guy friend told me I'd probably like them in particular. And maybe I'll think of more singers later. At least I already know I love John Denver music!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Music searching....!

I don't really like CCM. Maybe some songs are fine, and I do like "Blessed Be Your Name" (when I'm playing & singing, anyway...), but I need some better music than the bulk of what I heard on Christian radio. Mostly, I get tired of boring melodies and lack of instrumentation, so I guess my issue is with the musicality, but I would also appreciate good lyrics.

I've not heard a single Christian radio station for about two months now, and I don't miss it.

However, I would like to find some good Christian (or something other than love-song-themed!) music... so I browsed the recommendations on this other blog post over at Boundless, and what follows is a summary of what I've been thinking.

Sufjan Stevens: I searched YouTube for just "Sufjan Stevens" and pulled up a song called "For the Widows in Paradise" which was curious. I liked the ukelele and the different harmony, but still it's a bit monotone. I listened to "Chicago" then and I think I understand that Stevens' music just always will remind me of the flower-power trippy seventies. Eh. Yeah, it's new, so all right, but not the kind of thing I'm going to like for a long long time.

Derek Webb: Another name that was vaguely familiar and I was curious about. Same YouTube procedure yielded "Wedding Dress" which somewhere I've heard before. His voice on this annoys me, and the music isn't particularly unique. Then I pulled up "What Matters More" and liked the intro. Overall, he doesn't pull punches lyrically (that's a good) but the music is still kinda boring.

Mark Heard: Somewhere I heard this guy was one of the earliest Christian artists (on the order of Keith Green, as in groundbreaking for CCM) so I hoped he'd resemble Keith Green or Rich Mullins in that they were more original and kinda my style of music. It was hard to figure out what to listen to here, but I tried to click "Nod Over Coffee"... but had to settle with a cover for sound quality. But even still.... It's folksy and melancholy and I like the lyric style and the guitar! Hey, we might have a winner here. Especially after also hearing "Strong Hand of Love," though I can tell it's dated.

David Wilcox: Don't remember where I've heard this name, but I think I have, so I clicked "Eye of the Hurricane" and enjoyed the guitar. And the lyrics. Another winner? Listened to "Bearcat" and immediately enjoyed it as well. Random!

John Williams and Danny Elfman: Just sayin'. I already know some music from these guys, since I've seen the movies (John Williams needs no list, but I searched IMDb for Elfman and he did the Spiderman movies and the first SpyKids, and Men in Black, and a couple Batman movies). A friend of mine is obsessed with Danny Elfman's movie music.

The Decemberists: Only vaguely heard of these people, so I click "Sixteen Military Wives" and realize it's pacifist or anti-American-dream or something. It piques my interest, however, because I like the oldies sound and the poetry of the lyrics, and I click another, "The Rake's Song." I read the lyrics while waiting for the vid to load, and laughed because it reminded me of Tom Leher's "The Irish Ballad." Musically this guy is like the seventies I think, a little monotone but not too much. Fun stuff, I think.

Jake Armerding: Never heard of this guy, but somebody said "if you like contemporary bluegrass/folk style" and I think I do. On his website, the first song that pulled up was a clip "Up on the Rim" and I liked the guitar. Yep, folksy. Wow, I love this... second to pull up was a clip of "Song of Solomon" which is more country than is usual for me (though I can enjoy this a lot in certain moods). He's a possibility, though I think Mom would appreciate his stuff more than I do.

Andrew Petersen: Somebody said he "follows in the footsteps of Rich Mullins" and another described him as a Christian folk artist. Thus, I click. "Labor of Love" was first, a Christmas song, it appears, but I wasn't expecting a female singer. Boring musically, not exactly impressive lyrically. Then I clicked "Anais" and discovered the guy must be British. I like the guitar here better, but the lyrics are kinda... boring. Not really poetic or particularly original. Sorry, British guy.

MuteMath: Finally, I'm on the last of the artists! Really, this was a random list and there wasn't a semblance of order to them. Anyway, I'm not exactly sure why I added these people to the list, but I did. A YouTube search gave me "Typical" which appears rockier than I care for usually, and though I like the guitar lick-theme the song doesn't appeal to me much. (Kinda monotone.) And I browse the other YouTube links... they did the Twilight music?... and click "Reset" which again sounds like rock (and, I realize, is an instrumental, and a longish one at that). Meh. My dad might like it, though; I dunno.

So there we have it. I should therefore get music from... who were they again? Mark Heard, David Wilcox, and possibly the other group. The Decemberists. Maybe that Jake Amerding too.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Randomness before the beach

1. I'm going to the beach tomorrow, and haven't gone to bed yet! But I'm not tired... and I've actually slept well this week. I think I shall just need some rest on the four-hour bus ride... because I'll be meeting everyone at five in the morning, i.e. in exactly six hours and twenty minutes.

2. I love the movie Fireproof, and I just got to see it in Spanish!

3. Piano is a really fun instrument... I played piano spontaneously for our worship team practice today, because our pianist didn't show. It wasn't really that hard, and it all came together well. I won't be playing for the real thing next week--this was just so we could all practice with getting the instruments together--but for this bit, it was great, and I was really glad to play an instrument.... it's been weeks since I last touched a guitar or a piano.

4. I have officially been here, in my adopted Central American country, for half my semester. I now have as much, if not more, time I've spent here than I have left until I leave.

How sad is that?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random FB fun: Quizzes

Totally on a different note about Facebook. I just went through and deleted all those useless quiz applications on my Facebook account. However, I did keep a few....

Just saying. Apparently, the geeks have the best senses of humor. Also, I myself wrote the "What kind of clock are you" one, with my roommate. My favorite, though, was the math equation one, and then "what are you?" one (very similar to the random object quiz).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hmm... (testing ScribeFire)

I just found a random blog editor that plugs into Firefox. Since I use Firefox, I figured I'd try it... it's called ScribeFire and seems kinda cool. However, I can't seem to figure out how to navigate to the "view source" part (where I can fix miscellaneous HTML mess-ups), and not all my little tags appear... hmm. It's handy when I'm trying to look at another website and type at the same time, though!

EDIT: Ick... the formatting is horrid....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sickness and laughter

So, I just went on a weekend field trip (kinda like this one, only longer than just a full day) to the rain forest, and it was wonderful.

However, I was also sick about half the time. Well, I had been sick on Wednesday, just from a reaction to too much sugar... basically, I ate two, largish, peanut-butter-topped, wonderful homemade brownies, and some pop, in the same night. Not a good idea for me.

Anyhow. So, I was well again Thursday and Friday. Until, that is, I happened to have a snack that contained chocolate. Apparently I had a delayed reaction of sorts--I was sick from chocolate on Wednesday, so my body didn't like the chocolate on Friday.

That turned into slightly sleepless nights and a sometimes-not-so-happy stomach... but, somehow, I still had a blast. I was just well enough to do the hiking and the ziplining Saturday morning (think about it! Ziplining from peak to peak in the rainforest!!) and managed to stay alert enough during the Quaker meeting (more on that later) to observe and think.

Also, I thought it hilarious that my prof accidentally left me at the trail center when we were driving from there to the ziplining center. I had thought it was a joke, but when I jumped out of the trail guide's truck (he generously drove me a minute or two to catch up to our bus) and into the bus, the looks on everyone's faces told me it was totally not a joke. It only made me laugh more.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I caved (Jim & Pam's "The Office" wedding)

A lot of my friends watch "The Office." I've seen it, a few times, and it's OK. Not exactly the best show on earth or anything.

However, last night and this morning there were a lot of comments on Facebook about the most recent episode--the wedding between two main characters, set in Niagara Falls. (And I thought inter-office relationships were out of bounds in most offices... but this show is all about the hyperbole, and is not meant to be real!) Anyhow. I woke up kinda early this morning (about 6:15) and nobody else here in my host family was up yet, so I just went online and watched the episode. Mostly because I was bored, but also because I was kinda curious what would make a TV wedding so great.

Meh. Half the show was vulgar jokes (more than usual), and the only good part was the wedding on the Maid of the Mist. Give me that five-minute part where the gal breaks down in a nervous wreck the morning of the wedding, and the guy takes her out to marry her spontaneously, on the boat, and I couldn't care less about the rest of the show. So much for awesome TV episode....

Now for a weekend in the rain forest! How exciting is that?? And I can probably start my day now. :D (It's 7:24 my time.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

No, I'm *not* an only child.

So odd. Today, the third person in my group of students today revealed she didn't realize I had siblings. If she had thought about it, she may have realized it, since she had seen her when we met at the airport to leave the States, and I had said she was my sis.

Once before, I was hanging out/prepping for a presentation with a couple other students in my group, and for some reason I mentioned my sister (or maybe my brother) and they, too, told me they had thought I was an only child.

Now, we've been studying the differences between "warm" and "cold" cultures in one of our classes--one difference being the emphasis on relationships that warm cultures (like here in Central America) have, versus the emphasis on doing things or getting work done that cold cultures (like that of the United States) have. It occurred to me that this sort of thing would never have happened in a cold culture.

I couldn't have been in a group of twelve students for six weeks without having talked about family and friends, had we been raised in a warm culture.

And seriously--are siblings, like, nonexistent until spoken of a lot? I know I've mentioned my sister....

Friday, October 02, 2009

Link compilation, and sleep

So yeah... my little hermanita woke up at like five-thirty this morning, no kidding. I woke up then too, as I do almost every day (and then try to fall back asleep). I did manage to fall asleep again, and slept till eight. That was amazing.

Anyhow. Here is a random bunch of links I found this week:
And a few various related articles that perked my interest:
I really should make a tag for these tech-relationship-Facebook-related items.