Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Alana, Claudio and I went to ICBEU (Instituto Cultural Brasil Estados Unidos), one of many located around the country, to meet Sergio the director and head teacher at the Muriae branch. Sergio was a very friendly and welcoming guy, with great English especially considering he has never been outside of Brasil, eager to organize cultural and linguistic exchanges between Iracambi and ICBEU and most importantly willing to come out to Iracambi once a week and teach Portuguese to interested volunteers and researchers. Sergio is in his early thirties speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish fluently and teaches English and Spanish. He will be teaching basic survival/conversational Portuguese to Iracambistas 3 Fridays a month and the fourth Friday anyone who is interested will travel the hour or so 50 plus KMs to Muriae to do more practical lessons with him at the restaurant, grocery store, etc.
After meeting with Sergio the four of us had lunch together at an "all you can eat" buffet style place where there were more options than I can handle. The food at Iracambi is generally tasty and quality and ORGANIC but being able to have more than 3 or 4 choices was a bit shocking. I was really blown away when for the first time in 75 plus days I saw Sergio not only pick up but also use his cell phone to make and receive calls. What a blessing it has been to be without here!
After lunch Claudio went his way and Sergio helped Alana and I find solid glycerin to make soap and helped orientated us a bit further and then headed back to work. Alana and I did some shopping for ourselves and Iracambistas who had given us money and purchase requests. It was weird walking in to grocery, stationary and other types of stores and having so many things to choose from. During this 6 1/2 weeks I have only been to Rosario da Limeira with only a few thousand people on two occasions for Carnival when most stores, of which there are few, were closed and thus this was really my first time "shopping" in over 1 1/2 months. Along with being overwhelmed by the selection, etc. it was great as Alana and I were able to see what food items we don't get on a regular basis are available that we might buy individually or see about getting through Iracambi.
After a while we sat down near where Robin had dropped us and pulled out our books but ended up talking for at least 1/2 when a guy stopped in front of us, asked if we were from Iracambi and began to talk to us. At first we were a bit weary as Iracambi is fairly well known in the area, we didn't know who he was and we didn't want to be taken advantage of. Then he said his name was Ozeas, he was one of the original volunteers at Iracambi, had worked/volunteer here for over 4 years, was a great friend of Robins and had talked with Sergio earlier in the day about us being in town. He sat with us and we talked in English for about 20 minutes before I started to talk to him in Portuguese and tease him for not asking earlier if I did. I had let us talk in English for Alana's benefit but throughout the day he and I continued to converse in Portuguese from time to time. He is a self professed tour guide, told us about the places he could take us, what we could do there, etc. and was a really jovial and pleasant person to be around. He also asked if we had seen the movie "Hitch" where Will Smith's character Hitch works for himself in helping men get women as their girlfriends, wives, etc. Ozeas said that he is the Hitch of Muriae and is very well known around but just like Hitch he himself doesn't like to date or have much success with it but he has helped "hook up" many people. He said he even introduced a former volunteer to a local Brasilian and now they are married. Then he asked me if I didn't want a girlfriend and throughout the afternoon continue to give me "tips" and introduce me to his female friends as he took us on a tour of his town. It was very humorous and fun and a bit embarrassing too when he would say things like "look now", "only look for a second and then look away until she makes eye contact" and "did you like my friend?". At least when he did this in English most people probably weren't able to understand. He is even coming to Iracambi next week so I am sure he will insist on continuing the lessons!
Another "new" experience was having to go from looking down at my feet to make sure I don't trip on branches or roots, spiders, snakes, leaf cutter ants, etc. to looking up to make sure I didn't step in front of the cars, motorcycles and occasional bikes that were driving around Muriae. I found myself wishing that there was a pedestrian area more than I think I have ever thought of that before. I really am glad that I stay on the farm and in the wood for such a long time and only emerged for a few hours in the smelly, hot, dusty, sticky and fast moving city of Muriae. It is not often that we get chances to get away from what is so familiar to us and really get away from it all so I am glad that in part Iracambi has given me a chance to do this. What an absolute difference from South Africa especially the Johannesburg area where I lived for over five months. I am so blessed to have this diversity of places to live in, languages to practice and learn, cultures to experience and more. Recently a good friend from Kenya asked me (in an online conversation) if I feel homesick and I honestly told her that while I love home (Portland) and would love to end up there some day and while I really miss my friends and family I love being, traveling, working, learning and living other places and I guess it is thanks to things such as this blog that I am able to reduce the distance,loneliness and absence of loved ones while having a different experience then I can have at home.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
As is normally my MO I took a long time to warm up to the idea of learning Brasilian dancing and I am not saying that I do it with regularity or expert execution but I am more in to the idea of learning, of course it is easiest to learn in a small group or by candle light so as to not be the joke of the dance party. It also helped that Carol is nice, patient and almost 6 feet tall so that our height difference was not so great and I didn't have to bend over to dance and she didn't have to crane her neck to look up at my overgrown grinning goatee. I think the OOC (out of control) facial hair must be a topic for a future blog and don't worry mom I have no plans of not cutting it long before I come home but right now it comes in handy to provide shelter for spiders, storage space for "left overs" and much needed warmth as it only averages high 80s to low 90s here everyday!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Earth Hour....participate by turning off your lights and other electric appliances for one hour...support our friends in Sydney and around the World!
EARTH HOUR - 7.30pm to 8.30pm* - Saturday March 31, 2007
Earth Hour is a fabulous opportunity for you and your family to do
something about climate change. On one night, in one hour, more will be
done, more will be demonstrated, and more will be learned than through a
hundred 'talk-fests'. And you can help make it happen.
What is Earth Hour?
It sounds simple, but it is very, very dramatic. At 7.30pm on March 31st
2007, we will be encouraging companies, government departments,
individuals and families to turn off their lights for just one hour. If
we meet our objectives during the first Earth Hour, the savings in green
house gas emissions will be the equivalent of taking 75,000 medium sized
cars off the road for one whole year! Now that's something worth doing.
The facts are alarmingly clear:
* The climate is changing! The 10 hottest years on record have
occurred since 1990. In fact 2005 was the hottest year since record keeping
* More than 95% of the
by 2050 if carbon dioxide emissions aren't reduced. (WWF-International)
* One million species worldwide are facing extinction due to
But not everybody listens to the facts. Earth Hour is your opportunity
to demonstrate how a simple change in our way of life could change, and
help save, our planet.
The goals of Earth Hour:
Households : Most of us use unnecessary electricity. Appliances on
standby, old style light bulbs, lights left on when we're not using
them. Earth Hour will help us all to realize just how simply we can make
a dramatic impact upon global warming (and our own power bills). We will
see it in action.
Companies : We want companies to be involved. If every company turned off its lights when the buildings weren't in use, and
combined it with energy saving technology, we would save between 2 and 4
million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. Earth Hour will show
companies just how easy that is.
To make it an annual event : Out of the 8,766 hours in a year, let's
give one back to the earth.
What you can do:
Sign up to Earth Hour and Pledge to turn off your lights on March 31st
from 7.30pm to 8.30pm by logging onto www.earthhour.org
You will receive all the information you need to make Earth Hour a great
success (and to cut your own energy bills in the long term). Pledging is
Get off standby : Turn off all the electronic equipment and appliances
in your home that are not being used or are on standby. Computers,
televisions, stereo equipment, phone chargers, DVD or video equipment.
Tell a friend : Spread the word about earth Hour by involving your
friends, family and workmates. Get them to pledge at www.earthhour.org and
most importantly, turn off the lights at 7.30pm Saturday 31 March 2007 .
Spread the word - Once you have signed up for Earth Hour tell a friend;
spread the word at work; tell your boss; mention it at school, at your
local sports club or society group, you can even run it past your
Make it an event . Get your family and friends to switch off their lights as well;
Take some binoculars and look at the stars; sit and talk by candlelight;
Explore your backyard by torchlight;
Have fun with sparklers; or just do something non-electric as a
Have a picnic-at-dusk; pretend you are camping; or have a candlelight dinner.
For more info on Earth Hour, check out www.earthhour.org
EARTH HOUR. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
* I just wanted to mention that when you click the Earth Hour link it takes you to an Australian website as this is an initiative coming from WWF Australia and others so if you want to participate you should figure out what time in your area would be equivalent to Sydney, Australia at 7:30 PM Saturday night! A good place to visit is http://www.timeanddate.com/. Also once again I am making a plea to see "An Inconvenient Truth", visit http://www.climatecrisis.net/ and do your part to protect our planet, reduce waste, drive less, etc.
Monday, March 19, 2007
The only time I watched this “reality TV show”, Amazing Race was once a few years back at my sister/brother-in-law’s apartment with our friend Tessa who lived in
Ali, The Interpreter, Blood Diamond and Catch a Fire are some of the most recent/popular movies that were filmed partially or entirely in
Yes, exposure, especially positive is good for
Now, I know I am getting a bit off track and probably loosing some of you with my mad ranting but I know I am not the only one that thinks this way and that is how I sleep at night. Back to the show that was filmed in the
In conclusion tread lightly, respect others, get off you’re A$$ and see reality for yourself. It is silly to rely on others to bring “reality” into your living room so that you can be an armchair explorer. Granted travel is not always cheap, affordable, easy, etc. and I am not advocating for mass travel to “exotic” places as increased carbon emissions is the last thing we need but coming face to face with reality is as easy as heading to your local community center, volunteering at a school, offering to take someone shopping, etc. It may not be as sexy or intriguing as the stuff we are spoon fed on people but it sure is more rewarding and lasting. I do advocate for your to live vicariously through me as you know I try to bring important, interesting and educational information to you about my travels, studies and work at home and abroad. P.S. if you do want to visit Maputo/Mozambique at some point I would love to be your guide on the “off the beaten path” tour that Lonely Planet doesn’t give you.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Mission accomplished: 112 saplings, 12 willing workers, 8 photos that tell it all, 6 AM start, 3 hours and 1 goal met!
“Ja” clearing grass in the foreground with a hoe to make a spot for trees to be planted with Andreas behind here doing the same thing.
Joanna, Lucy and Rosa Virginia (from left to right) planting saplings in the wholes that Carole and Alana in one team and Hannah and I in another were digging.
The pieces of bamboo stuck in the ground are to mark the spots where we had already dug holes and placed saplings.
A more or less after shot with a few bamboo markers visible. I will go back in a few months and photograph the area again to see how much growth has taken place. We hope that our work has a kind of ripple effect on the area that our trees help to hold the ground while also motivating others to replant/reforest.
Members of our tired crew resting after three plus hours of hard labor clearing, digging, planting, etc.
Our Swedish, Catalonian, US American, Brasilian, British and Venezuelan crew of Iracambistas in a celebratory pose after planting 112 saplings in just over three hours.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Medicinal plants workshop at Iracambi with the community, pharmaceutical students, Iracambi volunteers, researchers and staff.
One of the FAMINAS students along with Sr. Joaquim and Alexandre discussing the tree before cutting the bark. This FAMINAS student was boosted up by Alexandre to take some leaves from the tree. After getting to specimens from the lower part he had to kill multiple ants which were biting him. Alexandre climbed a nearby tree to take a leaf from the top of our specimen to compare this leaf with the lower ones already collected.
Alexandre will soon be leaving us at Iracambi which is sad as he is a very nice, modest, helpful, funny and selfless person. We will miss his humor, bread, smile and much more.
After collecting the specimens and knocking the remaining ants from them we left the nursery to return to the laboratory.
Guides to Brazilian trees/plants were available for consultation in the laboratory so that any remaining questions could be answered.
Members of another group went to work taking the leaves off of the branches so that they could be weighed, packaged, labeled and transported back to Muriae for the FAMINAS students to study further.
Yet another group weighing specimens they collected. Once back in Muriae the then dry weight will be taken to compare it to the weight upon initial collection.
Alexandre weighing one of the branches that he took from the ant infested tree.
A packed and prepared specimen ready to be taken.
The “crew” enjoying some coffee, juice and snacks at our kitchen after a hard afternoon’s work.
Fun and games a.k.a. an icebreaker after the work was done. An anticlimactic time to do this if you ask me once everyone had gotten to know each other but a way to celebrate the communal effort As I often love doing I was able to avoid participating in this by being the photographer as I find it much more fun to be behind the camera than in front.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Dear Mr. President,
I go to Europe to backpack around for 3 1/2 months over late summer/early fall 2000 and all I hear is about the upcoming presidential elections, I get to Salzburg Austria giddy as a school girl to do the Sound of Music tour and there you are starting to cause confusion and chaos over some chad things, then I go home in late November and who will be the next president is still up in the air, then I escape, ASAP, to Mozambique in 2001 and soon after you visit me on your "African" tour and I am pretty sure you came back again at some point during my over 3 years in Africa (waiting for regime change before returning home) to attend another conference or something of that nature. Then I come here to Brasil and you are here also. At least the Brasilians like the other South Americans you will be running into these next few days know that you are the king of jokers, the shame of the "Lone Star" state, the emperor who has no clothes or brain for that matter and the next newest ex-President, a moment that couldn't come to soon. As a matter of fact your majesty according to my "The Out of Office Countdown, 2007 Calendar" that I got as a present from my father you Mr. President only have 22 months or more specifically 682 days to see how much you can ruin the world for the rest of us to clean up the pieces when you leave office to enjoy the riches from your investments in oil, arms and the rest.
So I humbly (look up humble in the dictionary, to do this you need to get a dictionary, so ask that secret service agent named Roger who you have wittily renamed Bub to get you one and then open it and go from a to b to c to d to e to f to g and don't go to i before you come to h and then using the same challenging alphabetical skills go to near the end of the h's till you find the word spelled h.u.m.b.l.e) ask you to stop following me around and read the following stories to see what the rest of the world, what I mean to say is the majority of the world thinks about you and your dynasty. Dynasty brings to mind another cheesy nighttime soap you might recall called Dallas in the land of your Spurs, Rangers and Stars where we would love for you to return and stay for good. Although you really aren't a cowboy but just play one on TV and in your head, we will let your imagination stay in control as long as it keeps your finger from the button and you from following me. How far do I have to travel to try and escape Coke, McDonald's Nike, Starbucks, the Bushes and the rest of these "Made in America" cysts growing abnormally around the world and forwarding the cause of globalization, global warming and neo-colonialism.
Finally, Mr. Prez, I know that you only talk to the MAN and don't have time for listening to "your" people or heaven forbid reading what the "leftist" media says about you but you might be interested in reading what your "fans" from Al Jazeera and the Latin American News Agency have to say about you. First, Al Jazeera published an article today called "Bush arrives to Brazilian protest" could it be sir that you weren't welcomed with open arms or as a "liberator"? Then your friends in Cuba, there must be at least one, oh yeah maybe those guys on that base that starts with G.u.an....something, from Latin American News Agency published an article entitled "LatAm Readies to Unwelcome Bush" To your credit you were probably already gassing the chopper to visit your buddies in South America before these stories were published, Only if that Minority Report movie were true you could have seen your being "unwelcomed" before jumping on your high horse, spurring it, yelling "yippee kaye mother f@c&er" and heading down to find Butch, Sundance and Chavez somewhere in the expansive continent of South America.
With warm regards your loyal (thanks for the craniotomy ala Hannibal) subject,
Blake H. Schmidt
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Even Diesel knows that this 10-gallon wannabe born in New England and transplated to the land of the Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets can't take the Heat!
So, for those of you who didn't hear our president can't dribble, only just realized Shaquille O'Neal is tall and sadly enough didn't get Shaq's vote as president.
Terry is a big fan of Keith Olbermann's countdown and regular reader of the Tim Grieve's "War Room" and it was the following article called "One of these things is not like the other" that alerted me to the fact that our commander n cheat is not Einstein. Ok that is not true it has been obvious to many of us for some time now that Bush ain't as cool as he would have you believe.
"What George W. Bush said Tuesday about the Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal: "Standing next to Shaq is an awe-inspiring experience."*
What Shaquille O'Neal said the other day about getting a spot in the NBA's All Star game having played only a handful of games this season: "I'm like President Bush. You may not like me, you may not respect me, but you voted me in."**
*FYI in case you didn't know Shaq is listed as 7 foot, 1 inch tall and 300 lbs.
**Fans recently voted O'Neal onto the NBA all-star team even though he has only played six games this season.
Finally, not surprising but still unfortunately true Heat Coach Pat Riley in an AP article was quoted as saying "I voted for the man. If you don't vote you don't count." This after giving Bush a Heat jersey.
Later Riley denied adding politics to the ceremony and said "I'm pro-American, pro-democracy, I'm pro-government," the coach said. "I follow my boss. He's my boss."
Running away from races rather than running in them. I was just in Kenya and find the excuses used to not compete in Mobassa offensive.
The first story in its entirety comes from the Oregonian but another from the Florida Sports Magazine speaks further as to the reasons runners have chosen not to compete.
Running notebook Klotz plans to race in troubled Kenya Monday, February 26, 2007 DOUG BINDER The Oregonian
Less than a month before the world cross country championships in Mombasa, Kenya, many of the top U.S. runners have declined to make the trip.
Oregon freshman Kenny Klotz, a qualifier for the national junior team, remains in, but Adam and Kara Goucher of Portland have opted out.
Although huge crowds are expected for Kenya's first IAAF World Athletics Series event, the risks can't be taken lightly, Alberto Salazar, the Gouchers' coach, said.
First, there is a risk of illness. Vaccination for yellow fever is mandatory, and seven other immunizations are recommended.
"I've been to Kenya twice and came back with a gastrointestinal bug both times," Salazar said.
Then, there is the heat. It is likely to be 90 degrees with high humidity for the March 24 races in Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast.
"Running in that kind of heat and humidity, even if you do prepare for it, is a crapshoot," Salazar said.
Security is also a concern. According to Reuters news service, hundreds of Kenyan Muslims marched in Mombasa on Feb. 18 demanding the release of Muslims they say are being held unfairly, and the protesters vowed to disrupt the cross country championship if the prisoners were not freed.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi recently issued a strong warning to Americans considering visiting Kenya, saying violent crime was on an upswing and that Kenyan authorities had a limited capacity to prevent it.
U.S. stars Dathan Ritzenhein and Alan Culpepper and Australian Craig Mottram have said they won't compete.
The United States will be among more than 70 countries represented at the event. Klotz, a former standout at Central Catholic who placed second in the U.S. junior 8-kilometer race Feb. 7 in Boulder, Colo., will get the opportunity to wear a Team USA jersey for the first time.
For the rest of the story visit Oregonlive
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
First Congress, now the airwaves. Progessive radio's rebirth. Time to take it back and not stop till we get the White House in 08!
Air America 2.0 Begins Today
By Mark Green, HuffingtonPost.com
That hasn't always been true, as the cycle of politics demonstrates. In recent decades, politics seems to have been governed by physics -- for every action, there's an opposite and equal reaction.
William F. Buckley Jr. started The National Review in the 1950s to rebut what he saw as the dominance of liberalism in the academy and opinion journals like The Nation and The New Republic. From 1970-72, Public Citizen, Common Cause and the NRDC were all created in reaction to Nixon's depredations. Similarly, People For the American Way grew out of the rise of the Religious Right under Reagan in the mid-80s.
New progressive think tanks over the past 10 years, most recently and prominently the Center for American Progress, were created to counter AEI and Heritage. And, of course, the Huffington Post and Air America were born in reaction to the electronic propaganda of Drudge and Limbaugh et. al.
Air America was a large, smart idea to counter the near-monopoly on talk radio by the far right. But like most start-ups, the business plan collided with reality. Six CEOs over its first three years -- and various missteps and misspending -- sent it into Chapter 11.
It's now ready to go from The Perils of Pauline to The Little Engine that Could. How? First, by focusing on the radio fundamentals of making a strong line-up even stronger; second, by connecting to other progressive membership organizations to be mutually fortifying; and third, by being a multi-media content company involving other distribution platforms -- Internet, blogging, audio and video streaming, mobile, social networks, and more. It's time to think outside the (radio) box.
The twin goals are to make it profitable and influential. One without the other won't work. If it's not a business, it'll go out of business.
But it'll be a business with a sharp point of view. The era of on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand liberalism is over -- or as Robert Frost once wrote, "a liberal man is too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel." For all those who worry about messianic misleaders governing on a right wing and a prayer, Air America 2.0 will be an answer. For all those fearful of plutocracy and theocracy, the pro-democracy hosts of AAR's programs will be an answer. If the conservative media continue to spout propaganda and call it news, there's now the alternative of truth, justice and the Air American way.
It's no longer enough just to hope that The New York Times will cover a rally or press release. The relatively new combination of The HuffingtonPost, AlterNet, Moveon, Center for American Progress and Campaign for America's Future, The Nation and The American Prospect, DailyKos and TalkingPointsMemo -- and so many labor unions -- means that Air America will be part of a larger progressive infrastructure heard by a widening audience. For if we can't grow and prosper now -- given the 110th Congress, given the unmitigated disaster that's Iraq, given a slew of top-quality presidential aspirants -- when will we?
So Air America will aggressively cover national politics and policies in ways that will be informative, opinionated and entertaining. All three. We'll be full of news and views. Two views especially. First, America should stop attacking Muslim countries in ways that multiply terrorism. Second, instead of only talking about exporting democracy, Washington should begin practicing it here at home, for example by making sure elections aren't auctions.
Speaking personally, my brother and I are excited by this important challenge and look forward to working with the Air America professionals -- in front of the mic and behind it -- who have held this dream together. Steve Green has been a very successful businessman accustomed to making money -- and he doesn't intend for AAR to be an exception. I've been an author, public interest lawyer and the NYC Public Advocate. For me this feels like a continuation of so much I've done in the progressive movement over three decades. Air America is like a public advocate for the country, exposing problems and offering solutions.
We're both optimists in the spirit of Walt Whitman, who wrote that "America is always becoming." Well, Air America too is always becoming.
But that requires a conversation called democracy. In the spirit that dialogue beats monologue, I am today contacting the New Hampshire Republican Party and the New York Post editorial page. Since the Democratic Party of Nevada actually invited Fox News to host that state's Democratic debate, I asked if Air America could host the first Republican debate in New Hampshire, assuring them that "we too can be fair and balanced."
And to Bob McManus, editorial page editor of the New York Post, I proposed that he come on Air America to discuss his views and that Air America commentators would in turn once-a-month write an op-ed on his pages, because "it's better to exchange ideas than insults." His 500,000 readers should hear from us and our 2 million+ audience should hear from him.
We have many fresh ideas for programming, for technology, for partnerships with sister organizations. But it's this conversation called democracy that's the cornerstone of Air America 2.0. We intend to listen to our listeners. To increase our listeners. To hope they will join our journey to better content, better programming, and a better country. To tell them that it's your America, and your Air America.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/48880/
Monday, March 05, 2007
What a surprise when you have no idea that there is going to be an eclipse.* That was the feeling last night when the moon came over the hill on the other side of the river and I soon realized a chunk of it was missing. Particularly strange as I thought it was supposed to be a full moon. It didn’t dawn on me right away what I was witnessing and I talked briefly with two people about the “strange moon” before a third said it must be an eclipse. We were so shocked as the calendar had shown that it was supposed to be a full moon and we had been watching the moon get fuller each night at dinner so when it came up and looked like the cookie monster had started to eat it we were rather speechless.
As soon we realized what was happening I grabbed the dinner that I had been preparing and got back to my room ASAP to grab my camera and tripod and spend the next few hours tying to photograph this not-so-daily phenomenon. In fact the last eclipse I remember really paying attention to was in Mozambique in 2002 when I saw it from Chibuto (near Chókwè) in Gaza province with friends and a fellow teacher who drove us to witness the solar eclipse. As follows are some of the over 60 pictures I took some in vain and some with decent results but I soon realized that my experience photographing eclipses, newness of using my digital SLR and quality of my equipment was no match for this celestial oddity.*Having not watched TV (what a relief) or listened to the radio or read the (printed) newspaper in over a month it is hard to know what is going on in the world. I am not totally cut off having our satellite internet connection but it is slow and intermittent at best. But I still can’t complain. So this brings us to why the eclipse on Saturday was such a surprise.