Saturday, March 31, 2007


Yesterday the day before Hannah, Joanna, Rasmus and Andreas left Iracambi they plus Alana, Rosa Virginia, Ruud, Brian and I headed down to the waterfall or cachoeira surrounding by bamboo and other forests to take a much needed dip in the river. Yesterday was also my 7 week anniversary here at Iracambi and amazingly enough the first time that I made the time to go swim at the wonderful natural pool near that we call the waterfall. 7 week!!! That is crazy or at least I am and now that I have gone and loved it I will surely go back again. I have to go at least a few times a week especially as cooler weather is on the way and soon it might be too cold to go. Alana and a crew of volunteers cut up tomatoes, cheese, bread, onions, etc. before so that we had sandwich materials and we all made our own sandwiches, etc. to take with us for a little picnic at the falls. As you can see from the previous photo and the ones that follow this area is not only lovely but also fun and a great place to chill. The waterfall part of the name is also a bit over exaggerated but whatever you call it is worth the visit. Just hope another 7 weeks don't pass before I get to do this again!
Bombs away British Bryan!
The Flying Dutchman, Ruud!
Blakeman having left his cave to swing like Spiderman.

Friday, March 30, 2007

More scenery around Iracambi.

A great writer, thinker, visionary, spiritual seeker and leader once wrote about "sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, — all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect." This author was Mary Baker Eddy who is known as the "Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science" and I am sure she would have appreciated the beauty, bounty and biodiversity found in Brasil, especially the Atlantic Forest and around the world as well and been at the forefront of protecting the precious and needed places. Also, below is Ruud standing in a avocado tree where we grabbed over 30 large avocados and took them back to the research center with us to make avocado deserts, guacamole, etc. Umm I love fresh vegis and fruits!!!!
The Flying Dutchman decides takes to climbing to get as many avocados as possible.
Almost another full moon....just a few days to wait!
For the record I didn't play with the colors on these above photos so you can see that the skies here are amazing and just one great reason to be here!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

6 1/2 weeks without leaving the municipality of Rosario da Limeira

Believe it or not yesterday was my first time leaving the county or better yet municipality of Rosario da Limeira for 6 1/2 weeks since I arrived on the 9th of February. I almost made it two months but I needed to go to Muriae for work to visit a English/Spanish language school partially funded by the US Government where Iracambi is interested in having a stronger connection. I went with Alana and Claudio in Robin's Land Rover and we got to the town of almost 100,000 just after 10 in the morning. Robin gave us a brief car tour to help orientate us (not Claudio as he is from these parts) and then left the three of us off near one of the main squares.

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

Spectacular scenary.

The photo above and the following were taking around the Iracambi property. In case I did not previously explain it, Iracambi means the "land of milk and honey" or "terra de leite e mel" but I am not actually sure what language this is in as I don't think Iracambi is a Portuguese word but most likely an indigenous one. Enjoy some more scenic views from around the gorgeous place where I work and live!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dancing machine.

Yes, that is me "dancing" as we like to call it with Carol who is smiling like I am or maybe she is winching in pain as I am stepping on her feet with my two left ones. Either way we were having fun and after a few goes I actually got better at dancing "forró"which is a popular Brasilian dance that you can read more about at Wiki our "favorite" collaborative website. In another shameful promotion of Calabash music who I am not paid by you can also visit them (Calabash) to find out about their selection of forró music. You can also visit for a more complete explanation and history of forró which is probably where the Wiki pirates jacked their info on forró. Additionally there is an interesting article at NY Times Travel section from last year on, everybody together now, forró!

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 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 Great Barrier Reef will have been destroyed
by 2050 if carbon dioxide emissions aren't reduced. (WWF-International)
* One million species worldwide are facing extinction due to
climate change.

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

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
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


* 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 Also once again I am making a plea to see "An Inconvenient Truth", visit and do your part to protect our planet, reduce waste, drive less, etc.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mocambican’t! Run your not-so amazing race elsewhere.

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 Peru for many years and the episode was taking place in Cuzco the city where she had lived. Thanks, Ash for letting me know about the show but I am about as unimpressed as I was when we watched with Tessa.

Ali, The Interpreter, Blood Diamond and Catch a Fire are some of the most recent/popular movies that were filmed partially or entirely in Mozambique, especially the capitol Maputo. I don’t really know that I want anyone invading Mozambique be it USAID (United States Agency for International Development), Will Smith or the Amazing Race crew. I guess my fear is that those idiots at Survivor will come in and decide to take over one of Mozambique’s pristine beaches, cut down some of the virgin forests or one of many other neo-colonial activities.

Yes, exposure, especially positive is good for Mozambique and many countries particularly in the underdeveloped world rely on tourism as a major part of their economy. Yet, had I seen these idiots filming when I was in Mozambique a few months back I would have done something, such as run naked through their set, to try and muck up this filming. The last thing the world needs is tourists, “development” experts and others to parachute in, take some pics, hand out some (band)“aid”(s) and then shoot off to another “disaster” only to return when the next flood, elections, casting call or USAID call for proposals (worth millions if not billions) goes out. Please visit, enjoy, interact and take home memories but don’t think for a second that you know the solutions to a people’s problems better than they know them.

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 Maputo area and I understand aired last Sunday. Even though I am not a fan of such programs I would be willing to watch this one for two reasons. It was filmed in Maputo a city that I know well, where many of my friends live and where I have spent many great times. And second, because it highlighted the work of an organization called Apopo which a good friend actually works for. Alfredo who taught Shangaana, to Annie, Charles, John, Nanosh and I, who is quite a linguist, father of two and a nice guy has been working for Apopo for some years now. I will have to get in touch with him and see if he was around on the day that this show was filmed at one of the fields where Apopo works training mine sniffing rats who detect mines and alert de-mining crews. This is a much smarter/safer technique then using dogs or people to detect mines as rats are light enough that they can’t set off the mines but sensitive enough that they have an amazing success rate in finding mines under the ground. It also seems they are using these rats to detect TB (tuberculosis, you know that thing that Val Kilmer/Doc Holliday was suffering from in Tombstone.

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!

Pardon another sky shot but the sky especially at dawn, dusk and night is one of the most beautiful and amazing things around here. This picture was taken at 5:50 on Thursday the 15th, as I was leaving my house and heading down to meet the 11 other volunteers to plant saplings.
Here is a before shot of the area where we 12 of use planted 112 trees in just a little over three hours. We were motivated to work fast because we were told that by nine AM the sun would be baring down upon us. I have mentioned/showed photographs of this area in previous blog entries. We were doing our part to try and slow down with the ultimate goal of eventually stopping the erosion in this area.
“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.

The medicinal plants workshop was a joint collaboration between Iracambi staff/researchers/volunteers, three agro forestry students from Vicosa, community members from Graminha and other areas around Iracambi and pharmaceutical students from Muriae studying at a faculty called FAMINAS. This was the first time to get all these groups together and these workshops will be continuing periodically over the next years.
From left to right we have volunteers and staff Alexandre, Toni, Gustavo and Marcelo. Alexandre is studying classical music at a university near Sao Paulo and has been here volunteering for about two months. Toni is from Catalonia and has been here for since August running our nursery, coordinating tree planting with help of staff/volunteers and cooking some great meals. Gustavo is our volunteer coordinator and in addition to this working on starting and promoting ecotourism in the area. He comes from the south of Minas Gerais (state where Iracambi is located) and doing this as part of a year long paid internship. Marcelo is our medicinal plants/forestry expert and has been with Iracambi for two years working on improving Iracambi’s work with/in the community and much more. Out of the 50 plus volunteers/researchers, staff, community members and students from the two institutions we were broken into two groups each with two note takers/recorders, a photographer, team leader, specialists on the plants/trees from which collected specimens and observers. Here were some of the members of the group I was involved in observing one of the trees from which we cut bark. Alexandre and Sr. Joaquim discussing where to cut a bark sample from this tree. Sr. Joaquim is one of the community members that participated and he did most of the work in our group such as cutting bark samples to later be tested by the FAMINAS students. One of the great things of joint efforts like these is that the community members see how outsiders such as volunteers from overseas and students from nearby educational institutions find value in the knowledge possessed by the rural communities and the plants/trees that the know about. It boosts self worth and gives incentives to the locals to protect the forests and pass down their knowledge of the forests to future generations. Sr. Joaquim carefully cutting the bark to be removed and later tested for its medicinal properties. Medicinal plants/trees can heal people, provide incomes through the sell of the medicines and help with ecotourism by bringing in interested researchers and tourists who can pay to participate in the selection, collection, preparation, etc. of these plants and trees. At each tree/plant from which we collected specimens we took various measurements such as height, width, girth, etc.
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.

I snapped this pic on the way out of the nursery to show you our compost which is part of our eco friendly system to get rid of our waste/leftovers. With between a dozen and two dozen persons here at any given time we produce a great deal of waste and when used this compost is used by Toni as food/fertilizer for his seedlings/saplings.
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.

Packing of leaves in paper to be transported, pressed and dried back in Muriae and then further studied.
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

Mr. President please stop following me it is getting pretty eerie and really annoying.

Don't worry friends I am already basically certain that I must be on a FBI or CIA list somewhere thanks to my time working for the US Government as a Peace Corps volunteer in former communist friendly Mozambique, traveling to visit my cousin in Sarajevo during Thanksgiving 2000 or any other number of places I have been, people I have met or books I have gotten from the library. So my following comments although they will most likely be found by some supercomputer in Quantico and be deemed subversive or maybe even "un-American" or un-Patriotic need to be said no matter what un-marked prison in the underground network our wonderful government has helped to increase around the world I might end up in.

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, 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!

My uncle Terry alerted me to this story a few weeks back and I thought you would find it humorous and disheartening to see "our" commander and chief making an ass out of himself once again. Such an ass that maybe he should be a democrat so he could have the donkey as his mascot. An unfortunate dig as in trying to insult Bush I seem to have insult Democrats at the same time and while I don't agree with all Democrats I would be much happier to align myself to them then to Republicans any day.

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.

Grieve wrote

"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."**

In addition to this Terry said that Olbermann in his countdown "showed video (ironically enough I got this from Fox News) of Dubya posing with the NBA champion Miami Heat, and failing to notice (until he tried to dribble) that the basketball he was holding was not really inflated.

*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."

Why am I not surprised that this greasy guy would not only be a fan of Bush but say such comments? Then again his freedom of speech is protected just as much as mine.

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.

This is an older story that my dad shared with me a few weeks back but which I felt would be interesting to share on my blog. As my dad rightly predicted I was very annoyed and frustrated by the reasons these cross country runners have decided not to compete in Mombasa, Kenya later this month. Cowardly, ignorant and unfair are the reasons described below for not attending. I think the US Embassy/government is using this as a chance to push its policies and politics in eastern Africa. If the bombing along the Somali border wasn't disheartening enough when I was there this story is. Kenya's for some reason seem to revere the US or maybe more accurately US citizens (not Americans as Americans go from Patagonia to the top of Canada) while remaining skeptical about the US Government. This is one of those times when the terror in terrorism really wins out. Have fun sitting at home and watching your fellow runners compete from the comfort of your homes, you arm chair chickens.

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!

It won't be the same without Al who has left Air America to make a run to defeat Norm Coleman in 08 but Thom a recent Portlander has stepped up in his place and others are following suit. If the internet connection was better here I would surely listen to AA but for now I must revile in stories such as this one. Enjoy the new Air America 2.0.

Air America 2.0 Begins Today

By Mark Green,
Today my family formally purchases and takes over Air America Radio. Why? Because if progressive values were a stock, now is the time to buy.

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.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Saturday night fun photographing the eclipse.

One of the first pics I got after I ran up to grab my camera was this one. I was using a 18-55 lens and soon mounted my zoom which is 100 to 300 to take the majority of the rest of these pictures.After I had put on my 100 to 300 mm lens this is a pic I got of the eclipse almost complete.
It was interesting to watch how fast the moon moved over the two plus hours that I was tracking it and taking pictures and watch the stars that acted as escorts as it moved through the night sky.
Where did the moon go? All I see is a few stars!
Everything is okay as the moon is back again to illuminate our night sky for another day or night rather.
In the end I put my smaller lens on again and got one last pic from afar of the moon post eclipse.

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.