Saturday, December 26, 2009

Evening on Rua Alemanha

Me my my sogra

This is at special time, when folks sit outside in their carports and on the curb enjoying the cool, as the houses cool down after the nice rain shower or two we had during the almost hellish temperature maximum of today. Almost hellish, as just when it got almost near siffling... spash... ahhhh...

I am sitting here in the “red” with my laptop, and we just turned on the Xmas lights… I am sitting here, listening to two really loud stereos, some evangelical music at a neighbor’s, the cars and motorbikes that drive by and blast propaganda, the church bells doing the misa thing, various dogs barking, kids talking, babies crying, the telenovela on the TV in the barzinho across the street. I watch all this, like it’s on a big screen HDTV, and wave at the neighbors that walk to and fro.

I am enjoying the moment after a walk along the Parque Linear which runs thru the city along the café latte colored Rio Camandocaia. It used to be a fowl smelling ditch of a river that occasionally overflowed during really big rainstorms, now it has a bike path and walking along with a number of workout stations, and a funny little fountain for kids to play in. There is a huge beach volei area and another equally impressive place for kids to do skateboarding. It is planted with nice plants and it really dressed things up nicely.

I have been taking a walk there for years, at times having to dodge truck exhaust, crazy motorbikes and a capivara or two. It is just plain luxurious now. And heavily used by a lot of people… it is a very nicely planned and designed project. Had I more battery, I might take a snap or two… The whole turma came over to sit in the dark and watch O Caldãro do Huck, and well it finally cooled down, and so I went o get a glass of water and they were in rapt attention, and well… off I went… I decided to head to the Supermercado Guarani to get a melitta coffee maker. Why old people the world over think they need these horrid plug in coffee makers is beyond my comprehension.

It was funny as Milton was telling his mother that I make the best coffee… and I have both Milton’s father Aristeu to thank, and my cousin Gary who showed me the proper way. Aristeu told me that coffee needs to be made fresh, and then put into a thermos, never reheated, never microwaved, he told me this as he was taking a cup out of the microwave. The house is a bit tense at times, and he used to get up very early to go get recycling stuff all over town, and made coffee. I think he enjoyed the quietness of the early morning when there were no car stereos, gas trucks,

There are rumbling s of chopes or even a boate tonight. Let’s hope we can get a sitter for the sogra, as last time we went out she put on such a scene that Milton had to take her to the emergency clinic as she was complaining about “falta de ar”, come to find out she felt better, so stopped taking the remedio Spencer has my permission to leave me on an ice flow if I get this nutty… of course in this heat, an iceflow sounds pretty damn nice.

Just now a curious little churros truck just drove up and parked across the street… and Valdir is walking about organizing a pizza run… things are starting to hop around here, I gotta go...

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Christmas Truce of 1914

Paul J. Magnarella, Truthout: "Although World War I ranks as one of the most horrific in history, causing about 40 million casualties and up to 20 million military and civilian deaths, it also included a famous and spontaneous peaceful interlude inscribed in chronicles as the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914."

Read the Article

Boas Festas! Happy Holidays!

from Brasil!

This year, Papai Noel came to Jardim Camandocaia in a ’92 Fiat Uno

The neighbors

Edson & Familia


This year, Papai Noel came to Jardim Camandocaia in a ’92 Fiat Uno

It was a great day today. Tiago came out of the bedroom wearing the Santa Suit that Valdir had used for a community service act in the praça. The praça had a Christmas present give away to the children in the Bairro which is a mixed place, tho mostly made up of poor folks. I put the suit on, and grabbed a bag of candy (Helena always has candy around for the crianças) and went to the neighbor’s house, and they laughed at me behind the fence, and wished me as well a “Feliz Natal”. Just then a tiny kid down the street yelled,

"É Papai Noel!”

and she started running in my direction from one of the houses three for four houses down. Nothing in this crowded little neighborhood ever goes unnoticed. I used to get asked if I was a missionary, when I answered in the negative, as in “o jeito nenhum!”, I was greeted warmly and still am no matter how long it is that I am away. Though we are descrete, everyone knows about Milton and I, and they don't really seem to care. On our afternoon walk today, a colleague of Milton’s greeted us, and wished us a, “tudo de bom com voces”.

So dressed as Papai Noel, I walked up and asked the little girl her name and gave her some candy, and I noticed another house across the street with folks out so I went over and gave them candy too. All the time making sure to say,

"hoh hoh ho! Feliz Natal!"

I was getting into it, and stopped to give the kids next door candy. Milton’s family and the neighbors were all standing out enjoying the moment, so Papai Noel suggested that Tata take him to Edson’s family about six blocks away. So Tiago and Tata and I piled into the Milton’s aging ’92 Fiat Uno and off we sped. We turned the corner and a family spotted us, so we stopped and I gave some more candy. And another kid started running out the driveway of his house screaming again,

Papai Noel!”

If there had been traffic he would have been squashed. So what could I do? I walked across the median, over to the little house that had a small group of people and meager little churrrasqueira, and gave out candy. On my way back to the car, the police drove by and gave me the thumbs up sign. I jumped back in the car, we turned the corner, parked across the street, and parked and went into Edson’s family’s home. I met his parents, a brother and a sister, with a little boy of about 1.5 years who was absolutely beside himself with joy. I gave him some candy, put some in a toy truck he got for Christmas, and after a few pictures we left.

On the way back we stopped again at a few houses, the surprise factor was really great. Here people hang out in the carport when it is this hot (today was about 35c), and make a churrasco. A father thanked me deeply, as you could see that the only present the kids had came from Valdir and the prefeitura in the praça. It was good, it was simple, and I enjoyed the pre-carnaval craziness with this rather random act of mitzvah-esque kindness.

I am definitely doing this again…

So that is how Papai Noel came to the Jardim Camandocaia in a ’92 Fiat Uno., and how I had the best Xmas ever.

well they are calling me to eat the leitoa...

Boas Festa a todos!

O progresso da leitoa

I woke up to strains of "Silent Night" being played at a neighbors, and a child riding her new bike by and greeting everyone with a “Feliz Natal a vocês”.... and of course the smell of roast pork, chicken and beef is in the air. It was a rather nice way to wake up after a fun evening.

The family stayed up late, dancing and and having fun before exchanging presents in a funny game. At midnight they broke out the champaign, and wished each other Feliz Natal, while the fireworks went off overhead... it was great fun. Let me explain.

Xmas, not being an orgy of gift giving here, is at least with this family somewhat subdued, especially now the crianças are grown. A few weeks ago Tata called and gave each of us the name of our amigo secreto and we were instructed to not buy for more than R$20.00. Last night we showed up at Regina & Ayrton´s house and near midnight, the first person stood, made a speech about the secret person, and we had to guess… when we did they gave them their present. Oh, and you had to pop a balloon on their lap by sitting on them… which I finally understood why they had put me to inflating balloons when I got there. the Rosal is not known for is decorum, and Natal is no exception… it was great fun! My sogra, had drawn my name, and got all flustered… so all she said was “he’s sexy”… and they all guessed it was me… buhahaha… I guess the bloom isn´t off this rose yet! I like how simple and silly and unpretentious folks are here. Its all about fun and making jokes and just enjoying each other.

Tata, by then three sheets to the wind, gave a nice speech about how this family is united, and how lucky we all are (she was abandoned by her mother and came to live with the family, so tho we call her sister, technically she’s a cousin). I agree… they are great, and I no longer feel like the visiting anthropology professor, but a member of a grand extended family.

My sogra, was worried that she had to get up early and cook the leitoa, and Tiago let her know that he would call her and wake her up, which he did as as you can see as its ready!

I was sitting there, watching, thinking, that this is what it’s supposed to be like. I am so lucky… I love these folks more than I can say. At any rate its noon, and I had better go... they are setting the table. Gotta try that roast pig!

Tom Lehrer - A Christmas Carol

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It Came Upon A Movie Clip

Progresso da leitoa

The leitoa (coitado) is marinating...

It's Done: Senate Approves Health Care Overhaul, 60-39

David Lightman and William Douglas, McClatchy Newspapers: "The Senate Thursday voted 60 to 39 to overhaul the nation's health care system - President Barack Obama's top 2009 domestic priority - moving the nation closer to near-universal health care coverage early in the next decade. It was a vote, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, 'to live a healthy life.'"

Read the Article

A Christmas Tradition - leitoa

I think its like our turkey tradition to Brazilians... this could be tough, they told me that it would be cooked first, that at least gives me some sense of relief. People here are as excited about this as we are re: turkey on Thanksgiving. OK... when in Rome...

Fotos de minha caminhada da manha de hoje

I rather like colors found on the old buildings...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tata is most Talented!

more news from Amparo

Ok I know people are waiting with baited breath to hear about the ongoing saga of my stupidness. But our house sitter, Mike the Mathematician (one should always have a mathematician house sitter if you are mathematicians yourselves) is doing the heroic, and making sure that the recarregador do camera digital is sent to New Jersey to make it to Rio in time for me to document all the craziness of New Years!

It is good to have such great friends in strategic locations!

Five Critical Flaws in the Senate Health Care Bill

Here are five key problems with the Senate bill that must be fixed. Please check this out, then pass it on! Click here to post on Facebook, or here to post on Twitter.

Five Critical Flaws in the Senate Health Care Bill

The Senate bill would:

#1—Deny Americans the choice of a public option. In contrast, the House bill contains a national public option, the key to real competition, greater choice, and lower costs.1

#2—Leave insurance unaffordable for some lower income and working people. Both bills require virtually all Americans to buy insurance. But even with the subsidies provided, some families could have to pay up to 20% of their income on health care expenses.2

#3—Impose dangerous restrictions on women's reproductive health care. Unfortunately, both bills do this and the House provision is worse. Both versions would be a dangerous step and neither should be in the final bill.3

#4—Tax American workers' health coverage to pay for reform. The Senate would pay for part of reform by taxing the hard-won benefits packages of some working Americans. The House, on the other hand, pays for reform with a small surcharge on only the wealthiest Americans—a far better approach.4

#5—Allow insurance companies to remain exempt from anti-trust laws. Under current law, insurance companies are actually exempt from laws designed to prevent monopolies and price-gouging. The House bill would fix this, but the Senate bill leaves it in place.5

Of course, these aren't the only problems with the bill. Most glaringly, both the Senate and House bill would leave millions uninsured,6 a far cry from the vision of universal coverage so many of us have fought for. That remains a long-term goal.

But these five things need to be fixed immediately—and we need to spread the word to make sure House and Senate leadership and the White House get the message we're counting on them to craft a final bill with these key fixes.

Can you spread the word? Forward this email, and click here to post on Facebook, or here to post on Twitter.

Thanks for all you do.

–Kat, Carrie, Michael, Joan, and the rest of the team


1. "Comparing the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals: Public Plan," The New York Times, December 19, 2009

"The House Bill and the Senate Bill," The Now! Blog, December 21, 2009

"Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan," The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2009

"Why a public health insurance option is key to saving costs," Economic Policy Institute, June 25, 2009

2. "Assessment of Affordability Provisions in the Exchange in House (H.R. 3962) and Senate (H.R. 3590) Health Reform Bills," Health Care for America Now

"Finishing Reform Right: Fixing affordability before the President signs a health care bill," The Now! Blog, December 22, 2009

"Comparing the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals: Individual Mandate," The New York Times, December 19, 2009

"The House Bill and the Senate Bill," The Now! Blog, December 21, 2009

"Senate health bill is launch pad," Jacob Hacker, December 22, 2009

3. "Comparing the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals: Abortion," The New York Times, December 19, 2009

4. "Comparing the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals: Paying for the Proposals," The New York Times, December 19, 2009

5. "Comparing the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals: Insurance Regulations," The New York Times, December 19, 2009

6. "H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009

"Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009

"REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation," Think Progress, November 19, 2009

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