Monday, November 30, 2009

Green Acres




Back from the farm.

And what a trip it was....amazing. Sunday Afternoon, I boarded a bus at the central bus station here in Rio. From there, it was about a 2 hour trip up to Max's farm outside of Teresopolis...a town dedicated to one of the once reinging monarchs family of Brasil. Another neighboring city is Petropolis, where the King ruled during the HOT summer months--escaping the heat of Rio. (Smart Man).

I'm not sure of the elevation, but it's up there in the clouds. The sleeping temperature is perfect. It's quiet, green, VERY GREEN, and just a nice break away from the hustle/bustle of Rio.

On the way up, we passed what is known as the DEDO DE DEUS (Finger of God) and from the picture, you can tell why it's called this. It really does look like a hand and finger pointing upward. The remains of the ice age, it's a beautiful site just outside the city.

Teresopolis really is a mess of a city--very unplanned, and not so attractive. But outside the city is where it becomes more jungle and VERY green.

Needless to say, I loved my night away in the mountains on a brasilian farm thanks to the hospitality of Max.

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

I've got to give my notice to the other apartment...given the uncertainty with the lawsuit and other things and not sure exactly when I'll be leaving. I have found another apartment in Ipanema with a share that has A/C and will allow me to catch some respite from the heat of December. More on this later.

LOOKING FORWARD

I leave Thursday for my trip to the Foz de Iguzu....and I can't wait. I'm very excited about this.

The countdown starts today...three more days.

And counting...

1...2...3..


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Four-to-Five Deep



I'm a little early today because in a couple of hours I'll take an hour and 1/2 bus ride up to Max' farm. He's British, nice guy. And needs someone to drive his Jeep back into the city...so I volunteered.

I thought I'd write this now and not have to worry about lugging the laptop with me on the bus.

EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE

Disney really is amazing.

I was walking down the street this morning, looking for something to eat when I looked towards the beach area and saw a line of people, and then heard a roar go up from the crowd. Instantly, I thought..A PARADE, so I decided to go check it out.

Come to find out, Disney had organized, and I'm sure paid a pretty penny, to have a parade down Copacabana. Not quite as spectacular as the Disney Parade that winds through DisneyLand, it still did a pretty good job of spotlighting all the Disney characters, Sleeping Beauty and her castle, etc.

The songs were all translated into Portuguese, and the skin tone of most of the characters was a bit darker, but where natural hair color didn't match the image, wigs too it's place.

And what a marketing machine Disney is. I was amazed at how international all those characters are. Children were lining up, sitting atop shoulders, just to catch a glimpse of Mecke Mos (as they pronounce his name). One little girl was sobbing as Mickey's float passed by, she was so overcome with joy. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance pulled up to take another little boy and his mother away...not sure why...but I doubt it was because Pulto was too much for him.

FEEDING FRENZY

From there I walked past one of the Street Fairs (I mentioned that daily these street fairs travel to different locations...selling all kinds of produce, meats, flowers, fruits, etc.), looking for some lunch.

I stopped at a little PASTEL stand. It's a deep fat friend pastry, filled with meat, or cheese, or shrimp, or chicken...AND VERY GOOD. And served with it is a freshly squeeze sugar can, quickly chilled over ice and served fresh. DELICIOUS. But because the parade had just ended, there was a mob around this square stand two/three/four deep. And they were hungry!

It reminded me of the KOI (not sure how to spell that) fish ponds where tourists throw bread at the fish to see them swarm all over each other.

There were four men inside trying to fulfill orders, but really, the jockying for position, andyelling for this or that...I'm amazed they were able to keep anything straight.

The biggest surprise is that they don't take your money until you're finished and ready to leave, but they also don't pay particular attention to any one customer. Different men filling different aspects of your order. It's done entirely on the HONOR SYSTEM. Pretty impressive. But it seemed to work. I'm sure maybe someone made off with the free drink and a pastel, but I'm guessing the majority of the people were honest and paid for what they ate.

Because in the end, I think the VAST MAJORITY of people are honest and want to do what's right--pay for what they consume.

And good-hearted. I see more giving to the poor/invalid/street people here than in the US. Probably because in the US, we think there is a social program we're already paying for that is taking care of those people. That isn't the case here...those social programs don't exist, so I think people reach out more to help.

I was walking into a grocery store the other night and sitting right by the door was a begger...he looked skinny, but not sick.

Just as I was about to pass him, a man and his little daughter exited the store, saw the Man and said, "What, you still here. Come on, I'll go buy you some food. C'mon!" So a bit reluctantly, the begger got up and followed the man across the street to a shop. I'm thinking the man has seen this man before, but also didn't feel the $4 or $5 bucks was too much for him to give the man a meal.

As I left the store, the begger was back in his spot, wiping the last few crumbs from his mouth with one hand, the other hand outstreched asking for some change.

Life goes on. But because of one man, another man had a full stomach that night. And maybe he can save the spare change he gained for a BEER or DRUGS. LOL (Isn't that the reason most of us don't give to the homeless...we feel they'll misuse our good deed.)

Ahh, give anyway...a sinful beer to someone is a carbohydrate refreshment to another.

UPDATES

1. Still no A/C
2. Return date uncertain
3. It's HOT






Saturday, November 28, 2009






I did it again...I went a day without writing. I was going to, and then didn't, and was going to, and then didn't...well, you know where that one ends. I didn't.

Anyway, I'm back.

IS THE MUSEUM FOR ART, OR THE ART

Today I took the ferry from the center of the city over to visit a couple of friends--and then to see the Museum of Contemporary Art. First the friends.

One is an ex Missionary for the church (I think I mentioned him before)...and living now in Niteroi and working for the phone company OI, which by the way is robbing me blind everytime I make a phone call (he promises to fix that...but I've yet to see that.) He is no longer active in the Church, and seems content with his life. And tall Brasilian--about 6'4", and always has a smile on his face. It was fun to have the mission as a common background as we walked through another American Style Mall (with GREAT air conditioning), looking for nothing in particular, but just enjoying a cool afternoon indoors and away from the sun.

The second friend has a CAR...a nice little perk, and was able to drive around the area and show me some points of interest. I'll post a couple of pictures to give you a feel for what we saw. He's a young attorney, just starting out on his career.

I may have mentioned this before, but children live with the parents LONG into adulthood. He is I think 28 and has NO INTENTION of moving out any time soon. I've encounterd men, women, even families in their 30's/40's that still live at home and think nothing of it. In fact, being a very FAMILY ORIENTED culture, it's the an accepted practice.a

So watch out Mom & Dad...I could still show up anytime, any time at all. :)

Anyway, one of the places I wanted to see...and the primary reason for my trip across the bay was to Visit the museum. It's such a unique building...more like something you'd see in a space
fantasy.

The art within was mediocre at best (always in the eye of the beholder, so I'm cautious not to say it wasn't anything worth seeing), but the space is so unique I liked it.

Below, there's a restaurant we rested and ate some Strawberry Cheesecake--and good Cheesecake at that.

Afterwards we continued our drive, and some of the views looking back at the city, were spectacular with the setting sun...JUST BEAUTIFUL.

Having taken the ferry over, I decided to take the bus back. We went across this huge bridge...and since the drive back hit about the Twilight Hour , the ligh hitting the city made it appear peaceful, inviting, and beautiful.

I've always look the twilight hour. I remember on the farm, after working a long, hot day, the respite provided by twilight was always so inviting. The greens were always a darker color, and there was a peace (and a smell), that just made the day seem complete.

I loved it, and miss the twilights on the farm.

THE LONG THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

Being the holidays up north, a lot of people flocked down to a warmer climate. The beaches were pretty packed yesterday and on the streets and restaurants, I could hear a LOT of English being spoken. I even ran into a couple of people I knew from NYC. It's always weird when you run into people in unexpected places. But fun, just the same.

DOWN HOME ON THE BRASILIAN FARM

Tomorrow, I plan to visit a British Man who owns several apartments in the city (Hopefully I can land in one of them) at his farm about 1 1/2 hours away from the city. It'll be good get away, and kind of reduce the temperature by 15 degrees (it's up in the mountains), and relax away from all the CITY stuff.

New adventures are always good.

Always.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks for Being in Brasil


I've lived away from the US during Thanksgiving before, and it's funny how the rest of the world goes on it's way without the hustle/bustle of Thanksgiving...you know what I mean, travel, food, dinner, family, traffic, delayed flights, etc. etc.

I did get a couple of Happy Thanksgiving's from Brasilians, or mostly Ex-Patriots either from the US or Europe. But just in a fleeting way. There's no sentiment around the holiday. None of the emotions that "Thanksgiving" brings to most Americans.

Which makes me think a bit about cultural differences and how they drive our thoughts and actions. I'm sure there are millions of people so happy today in the US, being with family and friends. And on the other hand, there are probably millions of people miserable today...dreading the time with family, the travel, the "conformity" of the holiday. It would be interesting to see how many suicides are committed around this holiday. I mentioned yesterday the woman that was doing the cruise to ESCAPE Thanksgiving and the sad memories it would bring her.

Yet it's all because of a man-made "hoiliday" designed to give thanks for everything. Thankfully, it's about the LAST holiday that hasn't become completely commercialized.

Makes me think how much cultural barriers have been created that limit the human race from really getting to the core of humanity--that is knowing and loving each other, for no other reason than we are "family".

I believe it's a wise and better man/woman that is capable of stepping outside of his "culturally imprinted" thoughts and actions, and look at the world/mankind without the shroud of culture, nationalism, race, religion, sect, class, neighborhood, or clique.

I think the best way to do that is to step outside one's "comfort culture" and experience others as they are, within their world.

Once you do this, the world becomes more simple and understandable. It's easier to see a Brother/Sister, than a stranger, enemy, infidel, threat, liberal/conservative, good-for-nothing or even a cock-eyed son-of-a-buckin'-son-of-a buck :) .

On this day, I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to do that in Brasil.

Oh, and I'm also very thankful for my great family, friends and life.

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I SAW WHAT YOU WROTE

I think I've mentioned before that I LOVE the comments you write. If anyone can tell me how to respond to them individually, without writing something to the entire world, I'd like to know.

I'm happy to welcome JULIE...Hi Julie. I don't know you, but I read your comment last night...just a stranger passing through my blog. Thanks for you comment and welcome back anytime.

SOAP OPERAS THAT WORK

I might have mentioned that Brasil has had a long tradition of soap operas. But they are a bit different than those in the US.

In the US, they are broadcast mid morning to early afternoon. They are a continuing story that could go on for 30+ years or more.

In Brasil, they are a nightly affair, and the story line only lasts for about 3-6 months, and then it ends. And a new one starts up. Each night, you can walk down the streets and hear the familiar music of the soap coming from most apartments.

It is a very CULTURAL phenomenom, and one that is GOING STRONG--where in the US, Soaps are dying.

As I close off, I'll say one more time to all...Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Penny For Your Thoughts, $2.50 for that Post-It



Funny how you take things for granted. I've started writing down words / verbs I need to learn on little flash cards. But until now, didn't have a rubber band or clip to keep them together...I just stuff them in my pants pocket and PRAY that when I pull them out, they don't go flying all over the floor, bus...you get my point.

So I go to an office supply store (don't think Staples or something like that--those don't exist here. It's just a Mom & Pop type store). I ask for a clip...you know the clips that come in different sizes to hold different thickness of paper.

The sales clerk leads me to the back of the sore where he shows me exactly what I want.

"HOW MUCH?", I ask. He says, "How many do you want?" Well, I'm learning new words, but not THAT many, so I'm thinking, well one box should do. He then shows me that you don't buy the clips in the box, you buy them Individually...price is based on the clip size. (Remember the discussion about SPF gets more expensive as the number goes ups...are we onto a trend here?) My average sized clip cost me about 60 cents per clip. HIGH DEMAND ITEM, I guess.

I then looked at Post It notes. Each little pack of ONE (in the US, they usually come in packs of 4-6 packs wrapped in cellephane...well, here they sell them in individual packs of one. And they are expensive--each costs about $2.50.

So, I now know that there is a reason that EVERY TIME I have to clean out, or straighten up, my desk, I have the HARDEST time throwing out CLIPS of any kind or Post It notes.

It's just an innate need to save those items and I now know why.

DRUNK ON THE HIGH SEAS

A friend from Germany and I were on our way to the beach when a huge rainstorm hit. We sought refuge in the Copacabana Palace, poolside (see the picture...a beautiful hotel right on the beach). Within 5 minutes of being there, this older woman came by, bedazzled in diamonds and precious gems, and while taking a drag of her cigarette, turned on her heals as she heard us speaking English. Before we could say much, she'd sat at our table and weaved her way into our conversation.

Come to find out, she's from NYC/CT/FL, and on a stop over in Rio until her cruise takes off to Buenos Aries. I asked why she decided to do that...and she said she was trying to get away from Thanksgiving.

"In what way?", I asked. Come to find out, she divulged her life story (she's actually very interesting and charming), her husband, father and mother all passed away this past year. She couldn't bear staying in Florida and thinking about it.

So, she found a way around it..around the Horn of South America, that is.

I hope she has a good cruise, the seas are calm, and she always finds an ash tray and a drink to calm her nerves.

A REAL TURKEY

At lunch, in a pay by kilo restaurant, I realized that tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US. I'd almost forgotten. To everyone there I love, YOU WILL BE MISSED. You're missed anyway, but I just might forget the day as here, it means NOTHING.

Carbon Two-Stepping

I had another one of those days...not really a lot of value got done.

But I did find another three our four gyms where I can get 1-2 days of free workouts. So far, I've only paid $30 for about a month and a half of work out...That's darn CHEAP, if you ask me. :)

But gonna join a gym this next month for sure. I think I've narrowed it down to two or three. (ALL WITH A/C).

A BIG COUNTRY WITH A CONSCIENCIOUS CARBON FOOTPRINT

So, one of the more interesting things about Brasil is they are VERY conciencous about not wasting energy. Before it sounds way too altruistic, let me explain. Energy is VERY expensive here. Even though they are a huge energy supplier to the world, it's costly for the consumer here.

So, they've come up with innovative ways to save on Electricity. For example, in our foyer leading into our apartment, there are three overhad lights...these lights are motion sensitive, so they only turn on when they sense motion. As you walk down the hall, it feels like you're in an MTV music video. AND, even better, the one going into the side door hardly every turns on on time, so half the time I'm fumbling for my keys in the dark.

Today I walked into a mini mall and realized that the escalators are also motion sensitive...once you step on it, they turn on...interesting, right? And you see this type of energy convervation in many other ways.

One of my roomie is FANATICAL about not leaving the lights or overhead fans on--to the point I'm starting to get a bit annoyed.

Anyway, small steps to a greener world, but I'm sure it's really just to save money.

COUNT YOUR MANY BLESSINGS

Thankfully, the weather hasn't been TOO hot these past couple of days. So it makes the unbearable bearable. :)

BRASILIAN BEACH VOLLEYBALL/SOCCER

Check out this link to some guys playing Beach Volleyball...it's AMAZING.



OK, I'm falling asleep here.

Chuvou ontem a noite.

Monday, November 23, 2009

And Your Bill Comes To...

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the heat...even the Brasilians have started to complain. :)

My skin from yesterday is slightly reddish in color today--I've been called a SHRIMP by more than one person. :) No Sun today...laying low.

SHAKE, RATTLE & HELLO

Last night my American friend here for the Olympic bid invited to a club um in the Botanical Garden section of the city...sort of a dance/club thing. So I went. Other than being just like any other club in the US, it has an interesting financial twist to it. Kind of like when you're on a cruise.

When you enter, they charge you R$30, but you don't exchange money. They give you a card, and then throughout the night, if you want a drink, soda, water, candy, food, whatever, you just add it to your "bill".

Easy enough, right? But I'm sure some people get surprised when they go to leave and all those expenses are FORCED onto their wallet. :)

Sticker Shock, after you've driven off the LOT.

BRAS-ODDITIES

1. Variable Pricing. Not only can one retail chain have different prices for an identical item from store to store, but I saw something today that was really interesting. I was shopping for SPF 50+, and each SPF has a different price. Ranging from $13 to $39 Reais depending on the SPF. Interesting, right?

2. Paper Napkins apparently are like GOLD. At Subway, you get one napkin, wrapped in a wrapper...and NO MORE. :) Most restaurants are like that.

TRY THIS ON FOR HYPOCRACY

Meet a young guy a the beach the other day. As we talked, you know me, I had to delve into his life...one question after another. He's Gay. Told his parents about two years ago. His Father later admitted he'd had Same Sex relations before he married (his parents are divorced and each with a different mate now). His Mother still can't accept it...telling him he'll go to hell for this for sure.

Here's the kicker--and this really made me laugh out loud (LOL for you Mom). Both his parents are living with their mates without marrying, and his Father is a Pastor of an Evangelical Church. HA HA

Now THAT'S the Pot calling the Kettle black, if I ever heard of one.

BOOK EM DANNO

Booked my flight to Falls de Igazu--one of the seven NATURAL wonders of the world. Can anyone name the other six? I'm guessing...

Grand Canyon
Yellowstone

Not sure....

I'm excited to see them...I'll tell you all about it as I'm there or get back on the 6th of December.


I believe this will be the first week in a long time that Brasil hasn't had a holiday of some sort. Ironic that this is Thanksgiving week in the US.


Choveu duas vezes ontem a noite.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lazy BLAZING days of Summer


Even with 50 SPF, I seem to get some kind of a burn...and that's staying the bulk of the time UNDER an umbrella. So I've begun to limit my sun exposure. I like the beach, but not that much...I'm going at later hours, and I'm trying to stay in the shade as much as possible.

It's not worth it otherwise.

MISSION REUNION

Hopefully I'm able to get A/C in the room this week. If not, well, I'm gonna have to move...I don't see another way around it.

I ran into anther guy that had served a Mormon Mission last night. Just by chance, we happened to mention that we'd both served missions. Him up north, and me in Sao Paulo. Small world right. We are going to try and have dinner and talk about old mission stories.

We're both in the same situation now--years away from the mission, so to speak, but living here in Rio just the same.


Other than that, it was a pretty casual day here...not much happened, which at times is good.

I have some goals for the coming week: 1. A/C 2. Visit at least two cool areas in the area. 3. Determine if I can swing a trip to Buenes Aires in the next 30 days, and 4. Get a Portuguese Professor.

Vicki suggested I try to get a charity thing going. Actually, I have been looking into that for some time, but with limited Portuguese skills, and the fact I'm on a Tourist Visa, well, it's not as easy as it sounds...but I'm still looking.




Droppings and Drop & Roll




I took most of the day and David and I went to the little section of the city called Santa Teresa. ( I'll post oics if I can find it and the acqueduct the trolley passes over.) It's up in the hills just out of the city center. And once you're up there, you realize why these colonial mansions were build on very step, winding roads...It's like 10-15 degrees cooler and has a very pleasant breeze...during hot summer days. Some of the old colonial mansions REALLY are beautiful. If I had enough money, I'd love to buy one and fix it up. Wow, really beautiful.

One way to ascend up into this hilly suburb is on a very old and rickety trolley car-that goes surprisingly fast. But when we got to the trolley loading area, all the seats were taken on the open air trolley, so we opted to hold on the from the sides. Now, this is something that would NEVER be allowed in the US, with their ambulance chasing attornies, but Brasil is not like that, so on the side we stood, hanging on for dear life. And it was our dear lives we almost lost a couple of times. You see, this trolley passes precariously close to POLES, POSTS, FENCES, CARS, TRUCKS...sometimes I was only inches away from being swiped, but thankfully, we made it all in one piece--and loved the thrill of the ride.

Going back down the hill, I missed hopping on the side and David had to jump off to stay with me (as the trolley was moving). He landed well, but then lost his balance and fell HARD on the cobblestone path. Not to worry, he got up and with nothing hurt or cut, proceeded on our way. He took it much better than I would have. David returns to the US in several days and I'm gonna miss him. He's one of those guys that love the adventure of life...and I'm sure he'll have many in life.

THE WOLRD AS YOUR TOILET

Brasilians have much less of a hangup about urinating in public. If you make it through a day without seeing at least one taxi driver pulled over on the side of the road relieving himself, or people doing so on the sides of buildings, at bus stops, etc., you're doing pretty well.

In fact, what pertains to Humans must also pertain to dogs...because they don't do a very good job of picking up after their pets.

Yesterday, I passed a woman walking a dog.

Just as I passed, the dog stopped and well, did his deed. I looked at the woman, and didn't see a doggie clean up bag anywhere on her. Sure enough, she let the dog finish and then proceeded to walk away.

For some reason, all the days of side-stepping "CRAP" kind of boiled to the surface. I stopped, and waited for her to pass me. As She approached, I said, "Mame, are you gonna clean that up?" She looked at me, then sheepishly looked down and kept walking. Not one to let it LIE, so to speak, I followed up with, "It's your responsibility to clean up after your dog, not your dog's". She couldn't pass me quick enough...and be on her way.

The good news is...as I walked by the SPOT where the little gift had been left, it was gone today. So if she did it, or the shop keeper, I don't know.

But I think she got the message.

DOWN ON SUBWAY

I did it. Tonight I couldn't think of any place to eat so I ended up doing what I did a LOT in NYC--and went to Subway and got a Tuna sandwich.

I think it will be my last. They get 90- percent Right, but it's that 10 percent well that kind of ruins it for you.

Not bad, just not SUBWAY FRESH if you know what I mean.

Yeah, no more of those til I return to the states...I should have NOT gone for the fish.

Never go for the fish...that's the moral of the story.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Living in a Piece of Art

This county has almost as many holidays as the Jewish Community does in NYC. It's amazing...today was another holiday. I would say every week except for maybe one...that's about 7 since I've been here has had AT LEAST one day as a holiday. It's amazing to me...Today's was something to do with the end of slavery and some black man's risen ghost...or something like that.

But regardless of what is was...the BEACHES WERE PACKED.

And it was HOT.

DOCTOR, DOCTOR

I talked to a dermatologist today and she said that there really IS value with certain skin types to use those higher SPF sunscreens...like 70 or so. And all this time I'd thought it was just a marketing ploy.

But I'm going to the store tomorrow to buy some. I can't protect myself enough from this sun--it's DIRECT and HOT.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

By tomorrow morning, my traveling roommate will return and consequently, my days of chilled rest by his A/C are over. :)

To be honest, it's kind of bugging me, this no A/C in my rook. I've asked, and they seem to be working on it. Apparently someone from the building has to come check out the electricity capacity...and since today as a holiday, well, the excuses keep coming.

I'm giving them til the end of the month...

PRETTY, PRETTY PICTURES

Well, I've said it many times, but the stone sidewalks through the city are just a piece of work under every strep. Look at that picture above...it's amazing, really. I love walking along the pier promenade, and seeing the art.

It's an art form that is lost in other parts of the world.

Speaking of pictures, I saw New Moon tonight...better than the last, but I need a good Vampire fight to make it a good movie and this one had none of that.

Oh well...NEXT


Thursday, November 19, 2009

When in Rio...Dress the Part


You know when you have one of those days where you kind of think you did some stuff, but when you sit down at the end of the day, you're not sure what, if anything worthwhile you did.

Today appears to be one of those days for me.

I did do some stuff, spent some time with friends, lunch with a friend, a couple hours at the beach...stuff like that, but NOTHING of note.

Hum, I need to not have those types of days any more.

REMEMBERING MY MISSION

A couple of family members have asked me if I've been back to the places I lived during my mission, or seen the people I taught.

That answer is no. I did my mission in Sao Paulo...which is about the distance from Southern Utah to LA, California away. So running into them would be tough. And how to contact them would be even tougher, since I lost contact with them over 20 years ago.

And as of yet, I've yet to run into a missionary. I just think that's weird. Some people have "heard" of the missionaries, but most haven't seen them.

When I was a missionary, I thought everyone noticed us in our white shirts and ties in the heat of summer. But I guess not.

GOING THE BRASILIAN WAY

Ok, so when in Rome, right. Anyway, I broke down recently and bought a brasilian swimsuit. About 70 percent of the men wear these suits. And think nothing of it. And I must say, they are MUCH more easy to swim/play in the water with than the long board shorts most Americans wear.

I'll post a picture above of what I'm talking about, not me mind you, but just imagine me in one of them. (And while a lot of Brasilians do have great bodies, um, yeah, these guys are ABOVE the norm).

When in Rome...

Like when I visited Mom and Dad in Turkey...I went to the Turkish Baths for a massage...(that was a painful experience, but hey, when in Istanbul, right?), and when there, if I wanted to enter their mosques, I had to wear a black covering around my shorted bare legs.

So here's it's kind of the opposite, I'm taking a little more OFF :)

WOMEN on the other hand take a lot off...wow, what they charge for really, just string.

But they all have nice tans...definitely all have that skins that TANS well--unlike me and my SPF 45.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Day in Paradise


So anyway, yesterday I mentioned that I'd been into the center of town and visited this huge cathedral, ultra modern, and said I'd add a picture or two.

Well, I forgot the pics so here a couple are. You can get a sense of the size, and then when you see the interior, you realize just how big it is inside. A LOT of cement.

I guess God invented cement too.

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T

So as quickly as I got a Portuguese Tutor, I lost her. My first lesson was supposed to be today, but se cancelled, saying she got a full time job and good luck.

Well, I'll show her good luck. :)

It's back to the LOOKING BLOCK...or maybe I just dedicate MYSELF to finding Brasilians friends that will correct my speech...that's always an option--and cheaper.

BRAS-ODITIES

1. In the US it's Uncle Ben's Rice. Here it's Uncle Johns. Why, who knows?

2. Almost every fruit here is bigger than the US, EXCEPT bananas. They are 1/2 the size, and not as Perfect in color as in the US. And not any more tasty.

3. In NYC, there is a nail salon or a bank on every corner. Don't ask me why. HERE, they still have a lot of banks, but instead of nail salons, there's a mattress store. There are more mattress stores than people to sleep on them, I think. I find that VERY humerous. What kind of a distribution strategy is that?

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

I took MEG, the resident Dog of the house for walk today along Copacabana Beach. Paulo, her owner was sick in bed, so I helped out a bit. She's so cute...a Jack Russel, and smart, yet obedient. She's like 10 years old, but still appears like she's a puppy, so lots of cooing by the ladies that walk by.

She's fun-- BUT SHEDS A LOT...ugh, thank God for vacuums.

CHANGE THE CHANNEL

So our TV ONLY gets Portuguese speaking stations. I'm forced to watch them or nothing, and some shows I get like 80 percent of what's going on...Others, less. But the news, I can get pretty much everything. I think it's true the world over the TV announcer anunciate VERY WELL.

God bless em.

Chovendo hoje a noite.

You Got Your Samba in My Sioux War Dance

Mission Started--Not Accomplished.

I went into the city with my Texas Friend, David, and did a little exploring yesterday. We toured the National Library (I have to say, a bit of a let down...rather than explaining history about the building, architects (our guide did a bit of this, materials, interesting insights about the building and its history), she pretty much lead us from room to room and told us what happened in that room/books stored and let us enter and look.), the large concrete Conical shaped Catholic Cathedral...I'll try and post a picture of that for you--it's a modern TRIP to say the least, but in it's own way, quite pretty, and the romanesque arches of Lapa...originally an acqueduct (sp) to bring water to the downtown area of the city--now a trolly track.

So overall a good day of sightseeing. We looked like tourists...and acted like ones too--took a couple of pictures.

THE BRASILIAN PECKING ORDER

While eating lunch, outside of our cafe a Peruvian Flute Band was playing for tips. Most of you have probably walked by these groups...they play some kind of wind flute (the Zither if you've seen the tv-infomercials), hyped up by a muscial underscore. The variation here is that while this Peruvian music is playing, one or two, dressed in pretty authentic looking American Indian dress and head gear, are out front doing an American Indian Dance. It's a strange mixture of cultures, music, and dance, and I'm guessing most Brasilians don't know the difference. It would kind of be like us watching some Southeast Asian Dance and not having any idea that maybe the music or the dance form came from some place in Russia.

Anyway, all's good, we're chowing down on our Ham Pizza without any red sauce, and we look over at this performing group and a old drunk has decided to join in the dance. It was pretty funny, watching him try to mimic the American Indian dance moves, but with a samba mentality. David and I were having a good time, laughing, and seeing what he'd do next when what I think was the Owner of the restaurant stormed towards him, screamed for him to leave and when the Drunk protested, saying he was only dancing, the Owner HIT him in the head, forcing him to the ground. He did stand up, but moved away...just out of swinging position, then proceeded to moon the owner, and then flash a full Monty at him in protest and defiance.

We were pretty appauled of the assault on the poor guy.

David was so mad that he called a policeman over and protested to him about the abuser's actions. According to the policeman..."it's complicated". Meaning that it isn't his task to monitor social issues like a drunk...the hard reality is Brasil hasn't progressed to the point where they have a large social infrastructure to take care of these types of people/situations. So it's left to what in this case was the vigilante action of the restaurant owner. The policeman's defense was that he exposed himself. Both David and I quickly chimed back, BUT ONLY AFTER HE WAS HIT.


The sad thing was, yes the guy was obviously drunk, but was he hurting anyone? Causing anyone harm? No.

Yet being low on the pecking order, he took a beating. And it appeared that only David and I saw anything wrong with that.

I'S BES SPEAKIN GOOD PURDY SOON, YESS I'S BES

So I did I...I hired me a Portuguese tutor. She begins today. I tried to bring here down another $3 per hour, she wasn't budging, and finally I thought to myself...WHAT? You're haggling over $3 per hour? LOL

It was like when I was in Shanghai with friends back in 1985, and we really wanted to go see the Shanghai Acrobats. World renowned, yet preforming there in their own auditorium. A chance of a life time, right?

Well, you get so accustomed to haggling for better prices, that when we got there, and tried to buy the tickets from a scalper, we almost walked away because he wanted us to pay $5 per ticket, instead of the $4 we were trying to haggle down to.

We finally had to look at ourselves and say, WHAT ARE WE DOING? It's a DOLLAR. We'd got caught up in the drive a mile to save $.10 mentality.

We did pay the price, saw the act, and loved it.

I hope I love my Portuguese Professor as much.

I wonder if she can teach me while sitting atop six chairs all balancing on only one leg of each chair.

I'd pay $5 more per hour to see that.

MSN GETTING ME DOWN

For some reason, My Microsoft software sent me a message last night that I had to download some new version of something--I hope it's not a virus. But it wouldn't let me proceed forward with anything Microsoft related unless I did, so I started downloading last night and because of it...I couldn't log onto here to write this.

Sorry for another lost day of blog.

I hope you missed it/me.

Chovendo ontem...18

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hernando's Hideaway

My grand design to start seeing the sights of Rio this week got put on hold for two reasons...1) most aren't open on Mondays, and 2) the rain from last night continued intermitantly throughout the day today. I'm not trapsing around, map in hand, on a rainy, muggy day.

Plans begin anew tomorrow, weather permitting.

B 14...BINGO

So the other day, I was walking down a street very near my apartment, and I saw these two guys walk down this kind of mall type alley way...not a mall, but a corridor with some stores, mostly abandoned empty stores. Thinking they might have a bike rental place amongst the shops, I decided to follow them.

No bike rental spot, but at the end of the corridor, there was a door with a big man kind of sitting there, maybe guarding it, maybe not. The two men went in...and I heard a noise inside. Not one to miss out on anything "mysterious", I thought, what the heck, why not...so I walked past the man like I knew what I was doing, and entered the door.

There, kind of like in the movies was this whole MOVIE SET of gambling and corruption--in the form of elderly people playing BINGO. How funny.

Come to find out, the country outlawed Bingo last April, but I guess this establishment was is still going strong, incognito.

Did someone say G 52?

AL GORE...I OWE YOU A BIG THANKS

Well, he says he invented the Internet--highly debatable--yet finally I got my wireless hook-up here in the apartment.

So, rather than borrowing a roomy', or even heading off to the internet cafe, I'm here on the living room sofa typing. It's much more convenient.

It's even rather cool, with the high speed overhead fan flowing the humid air on me. Cools you right down.

WHEN THE CATS AWAY...

So one of the roommates flew to Miami for a week...and he said I could use his room. So today I lugged my mattress into his room, plopped it onto his bed and tonight I'll sleep with A/C and have a color tv at my disposal.

Ahh, this mouse is about to play, well, sleep well tonight.

IS THAT ITALIAN YOUR SPEAKING

So I have these two doormen. Both nice guys. One likes to talk to me about his love for one of the local soccer teams called the Flamingos. So I talk with him...his animated speech and my broken speech...we have a fun time.

Last night as I came home, he and the other doorman were watching the Flamingos play on TV.

Tonight as I came in, the two were together and I said, as best I could, "So who won the game last night...the Flamingos or the other team."

They looked at me dumbfounded. I tried again. "What was the score of the Flamingo?" This they got. 2:1 they said. Oh, "So the Flamingos won?" Again, dumbfounded looks.

I repeated it...pretty sure I was using the correct words and even the correct conjucation of the verb TO WIN (Ganhar)...it was that word that seemed to be tripping them up.

Still, nothing.

Finally, the funny doorman said, "Are you speaking Italian?" They both laughed.

(I move out of the building tomorrow!!!!)

I walked up to the apartment, got my Portuguese/English dictionary and walked right back down and showed him the word for TO WIN.

He read it and said, oh yeah, "Flamingos won".

I said, "Wasn't that the verb I was using?" He smiled and said, "I thought you were speaking Italian."

Ughh, languagues can be so frustrating at times.

Tired tonight...off to bed early--or is it really off to zap some energy through my waiting A/C.

Disaster in Every Drop

The end is near...

Or so I wished as I sat through 2012...the end seemed to want to never come. I swear they jam packed every disaster element in that movie that ever existed. Floods, earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanos, etc...and even some disasterous lines and acting.

AND LONG...I thought the wold would never end. But thankfully, it did, and all was lost, or saved, however you want to look at it.

WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS

And it poured tonight. Coming out of the theater, it was a torrential downpour, with lightening and everything. I love the rain, but am not particularly fond of being caught in it with only flip flops on my feet

After a stall at a fruit drink stand, waiting for the taxi situation to improve, my American friend (remember Olympics) and I got a taxi and headed back to our hotel/apartment.

As I write this, it is still raining. I can hear the thunder rolling in the distance, and the city is Quiet except for the light rain falling. It's nice. I'm sitting on my bed, the windows open, a cool breeze coming through (good news given it was over 100 degrees today), and a calm everywhere.

I really like the rain. I've always liked laying bed listening to it...thunder too. It just felt so violent outside in the storm, but safe in bed.

I do remember being afraid that lightening would somehow come through our Pleasant Valley home kitchen windows and electricute us somehow...but Mom and Dad assured me it wouldn't. And it didn't...well, not counting Mike/Richard getting rocked by a lightening bolt.

Other than that a slow day today. Beach., lunch, walking a bit around my new neighborhood, dinner and a movie. Ahh, life is good.

Off to bed...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Grass is Not Always Greener--At Least Not THAT Color Green

I'm about to turn over a new Banana Leaf. I've decided this month I'm gonna see and do a lot of the tourist things in Rio. Last month, I kind of acclimated to the area, immersed in trying to communicate, and find a few good friends. That's kind of behind me to some extent, so now I'm ready to see some memories, as they say.

I was in Rio about 10 years ago with some friends from NYC, so we did a lot of those touristy things--plus Elder Blad and I spent a couple of days in Rio on our way back from my missions 28 years ago. But I figure I'm old enough now I've probably forgotten most of the cool things and why not re live them as though new.

Besides with the new subway system (in place after my last trip), it'll be much easier to get around.

YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN

Which while I'm on the subject, I am a HUGE proponent of public transportation. Unless someone lives in the wilderness or the next enclave of civilization is MILES away, I'm all for taking the bus or subway.

Why we think we'd rather DRIVE everywhere, is beyond me. It's stressful, dangerous, eco-unfriendly, costly, and time consuming. I'd much prefer to pay $2.00 and sit in an air conditioned seat, read a book, watch people, or just do NOTHING, until I'm dropped off at my desired location.

For family and friends in Utah...try it next time you wanna go to SLC...take the bus, or take the train...and leave your worries behind (and your HUGE carbon footprint).

HOLE IN THE WALL

Remember I said I couldn't find a place to eat Rice and Beans. Well, MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED. These little restaurants, street cafes, hole-in-the-wall bodegas are literally everywhere. I just didn't know what to look for--or know how to ask. Now that I know, I can cut my cost of food, and to be honest, the food is REALLY good and cheap.

For example, For lunch today, I had a meal of rice and beans, french fries (for those of you that love your french fries, they are a staple here...every meal has french fries...without catchup...just the fries-and better than McDonalds' fries), roast beef, and a soda...all for the low, low price of $6.50 Yes, you read me right..$6.50. And mind you, this wasn't served on a plate...it was brought to my table on separate serving plates...a plate for each item so I could eat whatever portions I wanted.

Not bad huh.

My only risk is I might get SICK...but hey, my eyes are blind to that now...they'll open up the first time I catch a bug.

But for now, they are closed tight.
Brasilians eat there daily...I'm going under the assumption my stomach is no less STRONG.

UPDATES

* Still no A/C (but the last couple of nights have been less hot)
* Stlll no shared internet for my computer--but I can go to an internet store and use theirs for only $2.75 per hour
* Still no teaching jobs
* Still no decision on a Portuguese teacher...but closer
* Still no formal membership at gym...

which leads me to...

TIN ROOF RUSTED

This neighborhood gym I've been going to this past week is really a (and now my memory is failing me...what's that disease you get when you step on a rusty nail?) just waiting to happen. The equipment is probably as old or older than I am...and rusty, and dirty, and smelly, and well, GROSS. But it's close, cheap, and the people that run the place are nice.

I was thinking today, the room where they have their aerobics classes is probably no bigger than 20' by 10', no A/C, and fits only about 8 women JAMMED into it. So close that the instructor has to sometimes stand outside the door and shout counts and commands to his sweaty students.

Plus, the instructor is a 50 ish man, with a crippled left leg, so he's hopping around the class as he belts our commands.

That said, the members seem happy and content.

I think there's a life lesson there.

NO ONE in america would attend that gym...NO ONE. Yet here, they are pretty happy to have a place to go work out.

THAT SICKLY GREEN COLOR

And while I'm on that gym...lets stay there for a minute. Today I walked up the stairs to the 2nd floor and was greeted by the most disgusting new paint job. You know the color that most witches or goblins are painted during Halloween, or if you ever see snot depicted...this color. Well, someone got the bright idea to paint the gym that color. Ha Ha.

But given everything else, it's perfect.

What is it about South of the Equator countries and their love for dark colors. I don't know...and don't intend to find out.

THAT LITTLE BLUE PILL THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

So, rumor has it you can buy Viagra without prescription here. Just walk into a pharmacy and get one.

But here's the kicker...It's like $50 a pill--and half the strength as the same pill in the US. LOL

One of my roommates is thinking of doing a Viagra run up to Miami, get his Doctor to write him a prescription for 100 or so, and come down and retire.

SPEAKING OF OLD PEOPLE

One of the nice things I've noticed is that about every store, government office, trains, etc. has a separate line for people over 60, handicapped, special needs, etc. But because it's very difficult to maneuver in this city with a wheel chair, it's mostly just women over 60 that rush to that line.

10 more years and I'd be moving through the line quicker here too.

But a nice gesture, all the same.

MY-UN CALENDAR

I'm gonna try and see the movie 2012 tonight...see what I need to do in the next 2 years before it all ends.


LABEL ME A PROGRESSIVE

I'm melting.

My two roommates successfully got air conditioning in their bedrooms...but for "some reason" mine has been put on a back burner. I talked to them tonight and they plan to put one in, but they're concerned that it might put too much power needs on the breaker box...and they need to check that.

One good thing is that one roomie might be flying to to Miami for a week so I can sleep in his room...Ahh, rest for the weary, finally.

DIGITIZANDO

That's what the Portuguese word is for typing. And yesterday, because we still don't have a wireless in the apartment so I can access my computer...I wasn't able to write my daily blog entry. I missed writing...I hope you missed me writing it too.

But I'm here now, using one of my roomies computer.

You'd like the two guys...very funny and nice, actually. And little by little, things are getting fixed and liveable.

LIBERAL OR PROGRESSIVE

I was talking with Steven the other day about Liberal Politics...and I think it's time I speak my peace on this topic.

Whoever decided to come up with the term LIBERAL, should really be proud of himself. To be honest, if you asked many people what LIBERAL means, they'd probably say Socialistic and TAXING. To be honest, I doubt it means that literally.

But in American politics, from my perspective, there are two camps: Conservative (status quo) or Progressive (Change)

Progressive is a much better term than Liberal because it quite accurately identifies the position--someone searching for some sort of change, versus satisfaction with the status quo (conservative).

If we can agree on Progressive as the Identifier, then yes, I'm willing to line up behind the Progressives. I think change is generally good--hard--but good. And if you look at most of the innovation things that have changed our lives in general, either through the political progress, or social movements, CHANGE has moved us in a better position.

The founding fathers would be considered PROGRESSIVE/LIBERALS within the framework of their exiting governing environment. Lincoln was a Progressive. FDR, a Progressive, Joseph Smith a HUGE Progressive, etc. etc.

So yes, I'm a progressive...and I can be proud to say that.

There, did that help clarify a bit of my political thinking?

And can you now guess where I stand on the Health Care Bill before both houses of congress...um, yeah, PASS them...BE PROGRESSIVE!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Say Tomato, I say RED JUICY FRUIT

The same tudor called and said he couldn´t do it again today--late at work. This time I said..."will this happen during a normal week too?" He says no, but not sure I believe him. Tomorrow is his LAST shot at me.

IT´S ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE

While strolling through a pretty recognizable national store called LOJA AMERICANA (American Store), I stumbled across some videos for sale and it made me stop and laugh at some of the titles. So I jotted down a few and thought I´d share them with you.

On the left, the Brasilian title...on the right the American. Some are very similar, and some, well, yeah, you get the point.

For example:

1. A Beautiful Woman--Pretty Woman (That one was a dead give-away...but read on)
2. In Some Place of the Past--Somewhere in Time
3. The Wind Lifted Away -- Gone With The Wind
4. The Young Rebellious One -- The Sound of Music
5. Those Times of Brilliance -- Grease
6. The Seven Capital Crimes -- Seven
7. The Overpowering Chief -- The Godfather
8. Tail Coat of a Thief -- To Catch a Thief
9. Twilight of the Deuses -- Sunset Boulevard
10.Where the Weak Aren´t Given a Turn -- No Country for Old Men

So anyway, I wonder what my movie would be called if it gets made and makes it back down to Brasil. "The Hope of the Damned", maybe. Actually, that's not a bad title.

MADONNA SEAL OF APPROVAL

Not sure if you heard or not, but MadonnĂ£´s down here looking to set up some kind of help for the poor children living in the slums. God Bless Her, if she actually does it. Hey, she can use some good brownie points. I think she´s staying very near where I live now, but as of yet, no M sitings.

NOW THAT´S BLACK

Did you hear about the big black out that covered 7 Brasilian states and parts of Paraquay last night? I was 1/2 asleep on my bed, dosing sort of, not yet in bed, when the light began to flcker...and then went off...but I was too tired...I just fell asleep.

I guess it was really big...the biggest in Brasil´s history, but I slept right through it.


Cloudy here the past couple of days but a relief from the heat, so I´m happy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Falling for the Right Falls


Tell me what you think: is it a good or bad sign when you're new Portuguese Tutor calls and cancels on his INTERVIEW...because he had to work late at his other employer? Um, I'll give him one more chance, and then come bad grammar or not, I'm gonna have to go with the other woman.

There's a verb out there somewhere that is aching to be conjugated correctly.

BRAS-ODDITIES

1. Pizza. I already told you that a Pizzaria is really just a buffet table. But get this. When you order up a slice, you get a normal looking pizza except it has to tomato sauce on it. So people ask for ketchup and just apply a bit before each bite.

2. De-Centralized Hot Water. You remember my tribulations with the hot water at the other apt. Well, to explain better, there is no central hot water system. For example, the washing machine does not have hot water. There is a little unit that sits over the bathroom sink that runs to the sink, shower and kitchen sink. But it heats the water ONLY as the water is turned on and stops as soon as it's turned off. Pretty efficient actaully. Some shower heads have little hot water heaters right in the head.

3. Brazilians don't like pollution, but they are pretty quick to throw something on the street. But exhaust from a bus infuriates them. (ME TOO BTW)

FOZ DE IQUAZU

You've noticed the lovely picture I posted above...the suspense must have been killing you.

Now I plan to make a trip there, and see what some call the most perfect waterfall on the earth. OR, I can hold off and wait for someone to come down and see them with me. Which will it be. Let me know by comments or e-mails, but I'm thinking sometime in December.

They're majestic, aren't they...much bigger than Niagra. If you saw the film The Mission, those are the falls that started the story.

OK, off to bed.

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

I haven't been responding to anyone's comments. 1) I'm not sure I know how to do it? I tried to add my own comment to respond to those comments last night...but yeah, well, that didn't work. 2) I'm not sure that's what those of you who've been commenting want me to do...voice my responses to your comments here.

So, it's a standstill. What I think I might try to do is respond in a general way here when I think the response was intended/requested. BUT KNOW THIS, I love reading your comments, and every day I look for them. So COMMENT AWAY.

Two open responses now: yes, Mom, I'm alive. no, Mom, I haven't been getting your e-mails.

There...now let's move on.

ALL STUDY AND NO PLAY MAKES BRETT A DULL BOY

Today I interviewed the first of what I think will be four potential Portuguese Tutors. Sabrina was a pleasant, happy, fluent in English Brasilian woman that I kind of took a liking to. We sat for an hour while she heard me strumble through my life...all in portuguese. All the while taking notes on words I messed up, verbs that were giving me troubles, gramatical mishapes, and total blunders. After, she thought she had a plan to help me be speaking within 1 1/2 months MUCH better. I paid her the $20 US and said I'd let her know after I meet the other couple. (Come to think of it, I shouldn't have paid her anything--it was an interview....oh well.)

Tomorrow I meet my second--a freind of one of my roommates who's never taught Portuguese before, but is native Brasilian and is a Portuguese/English translator for Petrobras...the large oil state owned oil company.

Hopefully a third tomorrow or Wednesday with with cheapest rate of the three...and HOPEFULLY I'll like him the BEST! :)

But I will have a tutor and I will become better with my portuguese.

THE CITY OF GOLD

I'm thinking of taking a weekend trip to Ouro de Petro, a city about 6 hours by bus that is kind of a historic city in the interior region of Brasil. Architecure, scenic beauty, that kind of stuff should be fun.

However, the 6 hour bus ride is a big deterent for me...so we'll see.

GET ME HOOKED UP

Still no internet for me, so typing this off my roomies computer.

Short and sweet again, and off to bed.

But before I leave you, today I walked half the length of Copacabana Beach around 8:30 a.m. Beautiful in the morning...and I can't say enough about the sand. LOVE the sand.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sweating With the Oldies

So short and brief...i moved into my new apt...and wallah, no internet hook up...YET. So I'm typing this off my roomies.

Suffice it to say, the woman from the last apartment wasnt satisifed with the apt that looked as good as it did when she showed me, thinking i should have have washed the sheets and towels (which I did by HAND, thank you very much), and also have the apt professionally cleaned in order to get back my deposit. I TOLD her NO, that her crap stopped there and I wasn't gonna pay that, that this was how it looked when she showed me and I specially asked her if I could leave it like this--would it be fine. She then countered with, OK FINE, after all your bickering and calling to come fix little things all the time". I cut her off there, "you mean the hot water heater? Is that the littlet things you're referring to?" And it when on like that for a bit until she said..."I hope this is not how things are handled in the US...the way you are acting". And what I didn't say but I wish I had was..."Lady, i f things were handled like they've been with this temp apt...YOU WOULD BE OUT OF BUSINESS". I did have to throw in that my lawyer would see that I got it all back.

Suffice it to say, we didn't leave on best terms, but I left will all my deposit back. :)

NO AIR CONDITIONING FOR THE WICKED

It has been HOT the past couple of days, and tonight is also gonna be hot. It's supposed to break tomorrow and cool down, but I have to suffer in a room with a medocre fan to keep me cool. Ughh...the struggles one goes through to live a life of leasure.

Oh wello, off to bed.

Sweat dreams, I mean sweet dreams.

Snap, "CRACK"le, Pop!

They say the Chinese invented the firecracker. But the Drug Lords here in the Rio Slums have perfected their use. Apparently, from what I can gather, whenever the police are about to do a bust, or a new shipment of drugs have arrived, you'd think the city was celebrating the 4th of July. It's firecracker heaven for like 30-45 minutes.

Tonight is one of those nights, although a small shipment must have arrived. Not much Noise from the explosives. But the last week, it was like The 4th of July for 2 hours.

I don't know what was going on, or who was doing what, but the early Chinese would have been proud.

Bang! Bang! Pop! Drug-izzle!

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT RIO/BRASIL

1. All of the grocery stores have a FRESH BREAD department. Throughout the day, fresh bread is being made, warm, fresh, tasty.

2. The sidewalks are most often paved with stones in the most beautiful pattern. If you take a look at the picture of Copacaban Beach above, you'll see the patters created by these stones. And it's not done in cement...the stones are laid out on sand, then packed with sand and that's how they stay. It's really a work of art.

3. Fruits of all kinds. Really, if you like any kind of fruit, you can find it here. And not only the fruit, but a glass of freshly made juice from it for about $2.00 per glass.

4. Rice & Beans. It's THE staple down here, but I really like it. Obviously, it's CHEAP to make and pretty easy to prepare, but it's something Americans should adopt more of. The rice is a non-entity as far as nutrition, but the beans are loaded with good proteins, etc. I'll try to learn how to make good Beans, and teach whomever wants to know.

A MEAL TO MAKE CHUCK-A-RAMA ENVIOUS

So, recently I've been let onto these Buffet type places. They are not called buffets (which by the way, they call buffets a Pizzaria...go figure), somelike more like Bar-b-Que, but what you do it you get a plate and you select whatever you want to eat...and then pay by the Kilo. Drinks are extra, as is dessert, but you can eat a lot, and pay a lot, or eat a little an pay a little.

Clever, right?

And I've stumbled across a couple that have REALLY good food...so yeah, eat your HEART out UpChuck-a-Rama.

KEEP ON MOVING

I move tomorrow. I know the landlady is going to try and stiff me, so I'm dotting my I's and crossing my T's. Still, I'm sure she'll say something.

And get this...apparently, in the contract I signed, I have to do all the laundry, wash, dry, etc and leave it FRESH for the next person. I said, "What, I've never done that in a hotel". She said, "Well, this isn't a hotel!" LOL I said, um, ok, you're right about that.

Chovendo MUITO hoje

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Really, What do YOU think about me?

Funny how our perceptions of others are always, or usually, different than how they see themselves.

I recently stumbled upon a guy that had been through SLC. Of course, that peeked my interest, and before I could ask him what he thought, he added, "yeah, I made it to the center of the Mormon Church, but didn't go in." Knowing he probably meant Temple Square, I asked why not, thinking he'd come to a new place, a lot of american history, a worldwide church, beautiful landscaping, handsome people, etc.

His response, "It kind of freaked me out...I mean those young girls and the older people with those name tags...they all seemed so Stepford Wives. It just felt freaky and I couldn't walk in...I had to leave".

Now, that took me for a spin because I see those people as young, innocent, sincere, and welcoming--if not a tad pushy. But definitely not robotic.

Makes you think how others see you, versus how we see ourselves?

I see myself as presenting an outward personae of outgoing, happy, intelligent, clever, even- tempered, and semi-confident. But just the other day, a guy here called me a bad seed come down from the US...(I'm not sure that guy's not a bad seed, but hey, perceptions are perceptions). I always thought I treated women with respect, yet in my last singles ward, I was told that some women in the ward thought I talked down to them. At work, I think I project a skill level in most areas, yet at times I've been counseled to work better with some groups of people. I like to think I'm level-headed, able to look at complex situations be it business, politics, religion, society, and weigh the data and come up with a logical decision. Yet some people have called me head-in-the-sand, close minded, even arrogant.

So, what type of a perceptions am I really giving off? I want to be the good guy, but maybe deep down, the good guy doesn't wanna present itself all the time.

Makes you think. Or it makes ME think.

A BOOK, A BOOK, WE HAVE YOUR BOOK

So today I went out to Barra Shopping. 1) I bought my first official Brasilian souvenir--a pair of Made in Brasil board shorts, and 2) to get out of the heat (in the A/C'd mall--it's huge) and also meet a friend that lives out there.

So in one of the stores, I left my Portuguese Instruction Book. The bad thing is, I didn't realize it until I'd left and was on the bus home. It hadn't gone far, so I got off at the next step, walked back to the Mall, and retraced my steps...finding it on the exact same shelf I'd left it while trying on a Tank Top.

I was SO HAPPY. I thought this language is gonna go NO WHERE FAST if I don't have my book to learn from. So yeah, I got it back, and then went and bought my souvenir to celebrate.

On a side note, the bus ride out was delightful--A/C and all. The bus ride back was stop and go, and without A/C and I am still sweating, hours after because of it.

Something has happened to this body--it sweats a lot more than it used to. I'm having to take 2-3 showers a day just to be presentable in public :)

IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO

I'm off to a party tonight. I know NO ONE that will be at this party...but I got an invite so I'm gonna go. You may have this false perception about me that I like doing these kind of things--meeting new people. YOU WOULD BE WRONG. I hate it when I know no one. I much prefer it when I have someone to anchor onto and then it's much easier to meet people.

But I don't know anyone, so I'm just gonna go, do my best at trying to be outgoing and friendly, and see if others perceptions of me are positive versus negative.

Ughh, perceptions, perceptions, perceptions.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Junk in the Trunks

Brasilians have an issue with time and keeping appointments. I should have remembered this from my mission, but somehow, I'd forgotten. But tonight I re-learned the lesson. (the third time in the past week).

A guy wanted to meet for dinner. Sure, we set a time, a place, exchanged numbers. I show up and after 30 minutes left because he didn't show or call.

I then get a message 2 1/2 hours later saying he had to work late. Sorry, lets do it Friday or Sunday. No remorse, no issue...he just couldn't make it.

I'm trying to GRILL him, but in my limited language, I'm sure it's not having as much PLAY TIME and STING as it should. And in reality, I know this is the culture. I should just get used to it...you NEVER know if someone's gonna return a call when they say, show up for an appointment, meet at a certain time, etc. Scheduling repairmen or changes to a house--I hear-- are a nightmare.

If they actually have the Olympics on the days they've promised, I'll be surprised.

One thing they are on time for...Soccer games.

ONE BIG SWEAT BALL

I have to find a gym with air conditioning. I'm not kidding. This one week gym deal without the A/C is about to kill me. By the time I leave, my gym clothes are so soaked they're as though I was walking in NOAH's rain storm.

And today, the city was MUGGY and hot. And summer is just begining. I knew my new room should have required A/C but it doesn't have it. This living like and amongst the natives might have a shorter life span than I expected. :)

But around 6 again today I walked down to the beach and took a dip. It was so refreshing. So beautiful.

UNCLE LORYN WOULD BE PROUD

I've noticed that the men/boys here have a lot in common with Uncle Loryn. As a kid, I couldn't help noticing that about every couple of minutes Uncle Loryn would adjust his JUNK down there. Maybe a nervous hitch, discomfort, heat...I wasn't sure, but I do remember him always doing this.

Or MAYBE Uncle Loryn was Brasilian.

Even young boys here are constanting adjusting their junk. It's like every few minutes/seconds..oops adjust.

Isn't it funny that things like that are so cultural. Men in American don't do that, or if they do, they are very careful to be discreet about it.

But down here, you could be talking to Mother Teresa and they'll still be rearranging the furniture.

I remember in China when I was there, they spit about 100 times more than we do. Culturally, they've learned to not swallow, but spit that stuff out. I found it gross...they have spittons all over the city and even older women like to do it.

Here they adjust.

Spitting and Adjusting--Americans are so behind the curve.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

So I've been studying the language more each day. Spending about 2 hours going through some books I brought with me. And I was thinking today as I walked down the street...I'm understanding more of what people are saying...but still if I'm not engaged in the coversation, I'm only getting baout 60 percent of everything they say.

I thought back to my mission. I know at first I was LOST. I got almost nothing people were saying.

But the weird thing is, I THINK I could pretty much understand everything, and they me, after the two years. I don't recall for sure, maybe I was dillusional, but I think I was doing pretty well. NOW GRANTED, I'm only here a month, but I still think I have a long way to get to fluency again.

I get by, I mean I can MAKE it through the day, but I'm far from fluent right now.

I'll keep trying.

DHL SPOTTING

I saw a DHL vehicle today. Yep, they're here. I was walking down the street and parked on the sidewalk was a little motorcylce with a basked on the back that said DHL. Yep, there's my lawsuit in action--a huge international company driving around on a 50 cc motorbike.

I'm tired. Good night.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Melting...My Pretty

I think I missed a posting yesterday. It was a late night. I had a two hour IM call with Rod in the LA office. And after that, I spent some more time IMing with another franchise owner. I didn't get in bed til 1:30 in the morning.

Things could be better in the LA office for our USS business. Essentially, since last December, we have spent about $70,000 in salaries and other expenses. We've been unable to turn around the losses and unless things change QUICKLY, we will run out of operating funds by first Quarter 2010. My conversation with Rod was all about this...looking at the financial data, our sales data, and expected growth over the next three months based on current and potential future product offerings.

He believes he can make the changes to make us profitable. But at this point, future risk has to be shared by Rod...he knows this and still feels that he can make the company turn around.

I hope he's right. Because when I return, I'll be picking up with him, or where he left off, and will be selling in NYC.

As a side note, I hear our lawyers are meeting with DHL the coming Thursday...next. Hopefully good things will come from this meeting.

THE WILD WILD SOUTH

And we thought the days of the wild, wild west were over. Today, while eating a late lunch in a cafe, SOME soccer game (there is ALWAYS a soccer game on some TV) was interrupted by a hostage/police raid on a bank in Sao Paulo. Most people are so accustomed to it, they didn't pay the EXCLUSIVE HORROR plastered on the screen (or at least that's how the TV station branded the action).

Bank robberies happen everywhere, in every country, but I thought something interesting about watching this one play out in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

You've heard soccer announcers on internatinoal channels, right? They get HYPER excited about every action and the enthusiasm becomes hightened when the player approach the goal or comes close to scoring.

Well, the news announcer covering the robbery sounded JUST LIKE he was calling the play by play for a soccer game. Really, if you didn't see the pictures, and you couldn't understand the language, you would have thought you were hearing the commenators calling a soccer game.

I had to laugh. So I did, which did get a stare or two from people--what's this gringo laughing at a bank robbery for? And it's a HORROR EXCLUSIVE.

AHH, GRASSHOPPER

So I had an interview to teach english in a pretty prestigious language school here. I doubt they'll hire me because I have only a Tourist Visa, but we'll see...pay's not great, but it will offset some costs, and it's nice to save for winter, Grasshopper.

The best part of the interview was it was downtown, in the more business/historic section of Rio. If you didn't know you were in Brasil, some of the architecture looks like the 18th century architecture of Europe. It really was BEAUTIFUL.

I'll be back down there shortly to see some of the cool museums, etc. And hopefully take some pictures...I took a couple on my phone camera, but don't think that's working very well.

IT'S HOT ON THIS HOT TIN ROOF, KITTY

Today was HOT HOT HOT. Or at least it felt it because I had to dress in business casual for my interview. I was sweating so bad...and just my luck, the subway car I chose to hop on didn't have the A/C working. By the time I got to my appointment, my shirt was soaked through...blue shirts don't do well in hot climates...they change from baby blue to Navy blue VERY quickly.

Anyway, when I finally got home, I tore of my clothes, put on a suit and ran for the beach. The water felt so cool, refreshing, and calming--even if one wave pounded me into the sand.

After, I stood on the beach and just took in the sunset in such a beautiful setting until I'd cooled down, relaxed and ready to walk back to my apartment.

Speaking of which, I've yet to turn on my A/C in the apt for more than 10 minutes, and only once. At times, I do feel uncomofortably warm, but I'm trying to live more like Brasilians do...on average.

It's not bad...really. No really...really. I mean, really.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Wish I Could See Clearly Now

Is anyone out there except two people...reading my blog? I got two comments back on the screenplay. Both aren't reading it...I'm gonna put off writing any more of that until tomorrow. Please tell me if you're reading it or not.

Steve Spielberg...are you reading my screenplay? If so, call me...I'll have ME call YOUR Girl.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO, ANYWAY

It's a common question that most men ask each other within the first five minutes of introduction-- well, two minutes of conversation. It's kind of a modern day way to find out where you fit on the Maleness heirarchy ladder. Brains trumps manual labor. Brains and Money trump Brains and Book Smarts. Celebrity and Social Awareness can trump them all. Doctors, right up there on the top rung--unless it's a Doctor followed by a PHD...you're back down with the Book Smarts guys. Evolutionary processes can be messy.

So of course, while here, every person I've meet asks me the question, "what do you do, anyway"--it apparently crosses cultural and geographic boundaries.

I blurt out something in elementary portuguese that satisfies them..."I do my work on the internet from my work in the states", or something like that.

But it's a vague answer. Vague because I really don't have an honest answer.

What do I do? Why am I here? Where am I going from here?

All very good questions, and all very "ify" at best, at this point in my life.

Fifty. Yes, 50...you're supposed to be settled, on the down-hill slope towards retirement. Kids married, out of the house. You're slowing down, enjoying the fruits of your labors.

Fruits...labors.

Um, well, I'm here enjoying fruits of all kinds, but labor...not so much. The fruits of my labors kind of evaporated about one year ago to this month. And to be honest, it was a big blow. Bigger than I originally thought. Big enough to make me completely change my lifestyle, my living situation, my income, and my plans for the future.

Did I fail, or did my work situation fail me. Or if I'm really honest with myself, is it really one and the same?

So close...to all those 50's activities I should be doing, and with one press conference in some foreign country, with three executives that each could be holding a letter, D, H, L, and all of those dreams are now gone. Poof. POOF. And shortly thereafter, a twin turban jet's engines and 11 hours later, I'm living in Rio de Janeiro and writing a blog.

What do you do anyway...um, I really can't say.

Pass the fruit please.

CATCH THE WAVE

Big waves on the beach today...LIKE big ones. After the sixth big wave pounded me into the shore, I got out and watched the 100's of people enjoying them with care or worry.

And interesting waves they were.

The ocean would be calm for 4 minutes or so, and then a wave of new waves would stealth their way into shore. They seemed to come from no where...and they didn't really seem that big, but when they got closer to the shore, they packed a force unthought of just 30 seconds earlier.

As I stood on the beach watching, my mind went back to the Tsunami victims in Southeast Asia a couple of years back. They must have had no clue, just another beautiful day at the beach, and then BAM, it hit and they were gone.

It kind of freaked me out, actually...so I packed up my towel and went back to the apartment.

SO THIS IS THE BEST VIEW IN THE CITY

This evening, a friend took me up to the base of one of the favelas (slums). Well, it's not like he took me, we just walked up this street--the same street that passes by my apartment. Up a zig zag winding cobblestone road, and a couple hundred yards of height increase, he announced that this was the start of the favela. I looked, and the ramshackle houses were packed one on top of the other as if miracuosely attached to the steep hillside. But the good thing for them, is they really must have amazing views of the city. AMAZING. No money, but awesome views. It's like a little bonus for being dirt poor. "We can't eat today Dear, but would you LOOK at that view".

I wonder if any of them had their life's career taken from them too, like maybe one year ago today.

I know I didn't see any DHL delivery trucks in the area.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

With My Brasilian Bonnet

Of all the smells on a Sunday in Rio, someone in or near my apartment is making or eating buttered popcorn. It smells SO good. YUM. I'm about to go knocking on doors, but my windows are open and not sure...it might be coming from anywhere--upstairs--across the street.

A GAY OLD TIME

So it just happens to be Gay Pride here in Rio this weekend, and they had a parade down Copacabana Beach. It was scheduled for 2 p.m., but it rained most of the day, and I think they moved it back to like 4:30 or something. I decided to walk down to the beach and take a look and what I found were thousands of people, mostly soaked to the skin--and most were showing a lot of it--and I'd say a good majority pretty drunk. But most seemed pretty happy regardless of it all. Nothing like alcohol to make people happy.

The music was loud, the crowd thick, and lots of trash everywhere. I have to say I didn't really like it so much, but I guess a sight to see.

I've decided I'm not a big fan of parades in general, much less gay pride parades.

And the moral of the story is, DON'T EVER have a parade in the RAIN.

MOVE ON, JUST MOVE ON

It's my last week in the apartment. I'm pretty sure the landlady is somehow going to screw me out of some of my deposit so today I took the first step...

I sent her an e-mail thanking her for the stay, told her I was prepared to leave the place in great shape, but unless she was ready to give me the full refund, I'd consulted with a real estate lawyer and she'd advised me to not leave the apartment until that happens. (I kind of fibbed on that part...I've never spoken to anyone about it who knows Brasilian law).

The ball is in her court...we'll see what she does.

SCREEN-PLAY IT AGAIN SAM

Ok, it's been a week, I'm on page 9 (about 9 minutes into the movie), and I'm wondering if you guys are even reading it.

If you are and like it, respond to today's posting and say yea or nay. It won't hurt my feelings either way.

FORLORN HOPE

Page 9, 10

EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. STREET - MORNING

An elegant tree-lined street with stately mansions. Washington monuments in the b.g. Women and men walk the sidewalks.

EXT. ELIZA DONNER HOUGHTON'S HOUSE

An impressive Victorian. Summer in full bloom.

INT. ELIZA DONNER HOUGHTON'S HOUSE, ELIZA'S DRESSING ROOM

Eliza sits at her dressing mirror. Her servant, FREIDA, late 20's, a Paiute Indian, fastens Eliza's corset.

ELIZA
I don't believe I have an option, Sherman. I
simply must go.

SHERMAN (O.S.)
You could stay put.

Freida tightens the corset.
ELIZA
Freida, must you bind me like a papoose? I must
breath.

FREIDA
Sorry Miss Eliza. You like it--

Eliza gives a "stop talking" look.

SHERMAN (O.S.)
We'll be returning to California in less than two
months. Can't he wait?

Eliza stands and begins to exit the room but is restrained by Frieda's firm grasp on the strings. Eliza turns, pulls the srings from Freida's hands and exits through a central

HALLWAY

and into

SHERMAN'S BEDROOM

where Sherman's tying his tie. Freida stands at the door.

ELIZA

To squelsh this malicious lie once and for all can
only help your re-election efforts. And it's what we've
dreamt for some time.

Sherman looks at her in disbelief.

ELIZA
Okay, I've dreamt it. My Mother's diary...I simply
must go. I'm, well, I'm tired of having everything I...
we work so hard to have that...eh, lie footnooted to it.

SHERMAN
Darling, it's been thirty-five years. Can't it wait
another week?

Eliza helps him with his tie.

ELIZA
I've learned to never wait, not even a day. I'm
leaving on the next train.

SHERMAN
You can't go alone and I'm in session.
ELIZA
Freida will accompany me.

SHERMAN
Do I have a say in this?

ELIZA
You do, but this time you'll lose by one vote.

He stands on his tiptoe and kisses him.

SHERMAN
Ahh, that same one vote.

EXT. TRAIN STATION - MORNING, NEXT DAY

Eliza, Sherman and Freida stand on the platform.

ELIZA
If the injuns don't get us, we'll be back in no time.

Sherman looks at Freida, then Eliza.

ELIZA
Freida, ohh, not you Freida. You're one of the good
ones. Couldn't live without you.

Freida doesn't smile. The train WHISTLES.

CONDUCTOR (O.C.)
All aboard.

ELIZA
We'll be fine.

She thrusts her hands into her pockets and the RATTLE of wax paper is heard. She gets a contented look on her face.

SHERMAN
I do wish you'd stay.

Eliza pulls from her pockets two wrapped candies, places one in Freidas hand and then directs her onto the servants section, where primarily African-Americans are boarding. Eliza hands hte second candy to Sherman. He takes it, without question.

ELIZA
I'll telegraph you when I arrive.

She steps on the train and blows him a kiss. She's gone. The train jolts forward.

Sherman waves to nothing.