Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Defeat

I'm sitting here stunned and deflated by what just happened in Massachusetts- the upset Republican victory there. For anyone who hasn't been following the health care debate and the grim fiasco that is American politics this post might not make much sense.

To think that this means more of the same bullshit in health care- people losing their homes and their life savings, having their insurance cut off when they most need it- to have reform turned back at the eleventh hour- it makes me sick. The extreme irony of the situation, Ted Kennedy's seat lost to a Republican, feels like a kick in the stomach. I didn't love the health plan, and I hated the way it was crafted, but the American health system is evil and prehistoric and has to change.

Of course, the Brazilian health care system isn't exactly what I would call a model for reform...

And it makes me really sad that this is a big thumbs down for Obama, not so much because of who he is personally but what he means, and what he stands for.

I should also mention that this was an election that I could, and did, participate in as I am a registered voter in Massachusetts. It didn't help.

For anyone who reads this who might be Republican, I don't hate you, I don't even want to argue with you. Let's not talk politics at all. I hate the state that US politics is in, the divisiveness, the bitterness- I hate it. But I see very little hope for change and more arguing isn't going to help.

I may have to rethink the whining I do on this blog about the dysfunction of Brazilian government if the situation in the US continues to be such an ugly mess itself.

Well, I guess it just goes to show... it was assumed by everyone that the senate seat was safe in Democratic hands; and as they say: to "assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me." Especially me.

P.S. vitriolic partisan comments, on either side of the issue, will not be posted. There's about a million other places you can leave them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Noisy Bars and Disfunctional Agencies

The bar got loud tonight.

It often gets loud, but today is Monday, and it was pretty freakin' loud at 11 PM. Usually I let them be loud and try to ignore them, at least on weekends, but today I complained.

When I lived in the States and played in bands we used to have the cops show up on a semi-regular basis to make us stop. That's what you do in the states: you call the cops. Kind of like the cops give out parking and speeding tickets, and generally deal with things that go wrong. Unless you have a medical emergency or a fire, you call the cops, right?

Not here in Brazil. First of all there are two 'cops': the military cops and the civilian cops. I'm still not exactly sure what the difference is, except there are a lot more military cops than civilian cops, and if you get in a fight or someone steals your license plates you need to go to the civilian cops.

But you don't bother either of those guys if the issue is traffic related: then you have to rely on a separate agency known as 'SET,' whose fleet of cars will probably never pull you over, although they might write you a parking ticket. And if you have a noise complaint, you call an agency called SUCOM, which presumably stands for 'Quality of Life Assurance Department' or some such nonsense in Portuguese.

So I called these Sucom people at 11:15 and complained about the noise. The last time I did this, someone called me back an hour and a half later and asked me if the noise was still going on, and I told them yes, thanks for calling, could you come by now and tell them to stop? Now it is 1:40 and the noise has stopped, but it wasn't because Sucom showed up. It's because the party's over.

My friend who owned the graffiti store had a grand opening party when he opened his new store, with a sound system and a DJ and all that. At five minutes before 10 PM, which is when everyone is supposed to get quiet, Sucom marched up the stairs and tried to fine him 600 reis and take his equipment away. He managed to talk them down, telling them they hadn't bothered to wait until 10 PM.

And me? I'm waiting over two hours and nothing happens.

You know what the difference is between these two cases? Whoever complained about my friend's party had Clout. Connections. Tied in. And Sucom jumped to it. I don't have Clout, which means either they ignored my complaint or other people with Clout took precedence over me and I fell off the bottom of the list. Same result.

At least the drunk noisy bastards have opted to go to sleep. But if the bar gets noisy on a weeknight I will complain again, be sure of it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

As We Hurtle Into Year Three


The People have been clamouring for an update... well, one person did, so I figure I better get off my duff and write something. I actually started a New Year's Day post and never published it, here's an excerpt:
Well, here it is, a brand new year, and like so many folks I went and tarnished it right off. Not badly tarnished, but I am feeling slightly less than well and have nobody to blame but myself. We spent the evening on one beach last night where I got surprisingly drunk from drinking a surprisingly small amount of alcohol, which I suppose is better than the alternative. Today we went to a different beach, where I got a bit overexposed but less inebriated. Evani was very happy about that as she usually...
Yeah, yeah, you get the idea. I went on to mention that I started this blog two years ago on New Year's day and if you don't believe me read it yourself.

So much has happened and things have been so chaotic that I think I'll just do short summaries to cover the salient points.

Construction

One thing I managed to complete was the shed roof my even-more-slacker-than-myself brother-in-law started but wasn't man enough to finish. I, apparently, was man enough, even though it took me forever as I did it in staggered bursts of an hour or two every three or four days over a period of several weeks. But it came out great!


This shed roof is part of my current grand scheme to create a most tiny workshop space where we used to hang our clothes to dry, and also to save my plants from their micro-climate hell of extreme heat and rain. Now the clothes can dry under the new roof, and the plants won't be so hot and/or wet anymore. Here's where my mini-workshop will be, it used to be roofed with transparent fiberglass panels, but I swapped them out myself, painted white for climate control:


When we started that project, I realized I really had to get a beam that was holding up an extremely heavy brick wall replaced, as its been cracking and looking dubious for a couple years now, so we got the only brother of Evani's who is worth his salt to do that. He 'finished' today, and I was a bit surprised that he also decided not to do the acabamento, or the finishing work. He said that was up to us. Well, at least he told us, instead of not showing up when he said he would like the other brother.


The Package

My Mom sent us a holiday package on December 5, express mail, which should have arrived in five business days. It got here on Monday, 24 business days later. At least it got here, I'd completely given up hope.

School Vacation


Poor kids. It's their vacation, and I'm broke, as usual, and scattered, also as usual, so they sit around doing nothing all day. Well, Ruan watches TV all day, which is all he does anyways, and Lucas bugs me all day to play with him, which makes me more scattered and more broke since I can't get any work done.

Old Office, New Office

I've traded in the office space I've had since I started this blog for a dusty room in a big, old house a couple of streets over. It doesn't have its own bathroom but it's a lot cheaper, and closer, and not on the 6th (that's 7th for those of you Stateside) floor. In addition to a stripping down of amenities, my internet velocity is reduced tenfold- let's hope that's not a problem. It should also be a more social situation as the neighbors are a non-profit where my Welsh friends work. We will share this internet connection (conceivably reducing my velocity twentyfold) as well as a pair of french doors. Also, the other tenant in the building is a silkscreener, who might finally be able to help me get the kinks worked out of my much stalled screenprinting career.

Tired, So Tired...

I'm always tired. Always have been, since I was a kid. Not just that I like to sleep, which I do, but I never seem to have any energy. I can work hard for a few hours but it decimates me and I'm worthless afterwards. This last week has been particularly bad. Wednesday was the Lavagem de Bonfim, a huge party here in the city and a guaranteed full day under the scorching sun. I don't know why it never rains on this day. I usually go, and usually enjoy it, but the kids weren't home, Evani set out early, and I couldn't get myself out of bed. The thought of spending eight hours walking ten kilometers in the heat of the day without a cloud in the sky just couldn't compare to the pleasures of staying in bed and sleeping as long as I wanted.

I discovered I wrote a post about these two topics two years ago...

Just for the record when I started this blog, I didn't really do it with the intention of anybody reading it. I just thought it would be a good way to keep a record of what I see as a particularly weird chapter of my life. Two years later, I don't have a huge readership, but I've had a lot of interesting contacts and such as a result of maintaining it. Not least of which was...

The Reality Show

I was contacted a week or so ago by a casting agent for a reality show. I'm not really into reality shows, seeing as how I kinda hate television as a rule, but I figured what the hell and inquired for more details. It would have been an interesting experience, but I didn't qualify, which is probably for the best.

And no, I won't tell you what reality show it was, but I assure you you've never heard of it.

Street Art

Ain't happening. The best I've been able to manage are a few drawings with my new big markers, like this one I did on New Year's Day:



My Online Store

Also not yet happening, but close, so close!! I made a big push in December to finish it but I couldn't pull it together and now I'm scattered and distracted again.

And finally...

Egg Hunt

Lucas saw a picture of us painting Easter Eggs last year and announced that he wanted to paint some more. I told him Easter is months away and no, I wasn't going to paint any eggs that evening, in fact we didn't have any eggs to paint. Lucas said no problem let's just draw some eggs and I thought that was an excellent idea. So we drew some eggs on paper and cut them out and then had some Easter Egg hunts in the house. It was kinda fun.

So, looking this over, even though it feels like I never do anything, passing my days in a fog of semi-consciousness, apparently some things do happen in spite of myself. Here's to many more things in 2010!