Saturday, December 21, 2013

Still Wish I was in Taos

A quick follow up to yesterday's post: I may not have gotten a video of the rain I experienced in my house yesterday, but I did find this as I was cleaning up last night:

That, in case you can't figure it out, is a light fixture completely filled with water.  You can also see how the fan blades have been damaged by the water.  Here's another view:

Mmm doesn't that look appetizing!  Dirty water with dead bugs.

Good thing I shut off the power first thing when I came down from the attic.  I also disconnected the wiring for this and another fan before turning the power back on.  Now I wonder if I dry out those bulbs if they will still work... nah, not worth it - I'll never trust them again.  My father's wife's house nearly burned down when a compact fluorescent bulb turned into the Olympic Torch.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wish I was in Taos

I'm lying in bed, exhausted.  It's just after 10 PM, which is usually when I'm getting my second wind, but I don't see it happening tonight.

Today was supposed to be a relaxing day, a day for getting things done, a day for catching up and charging my batteries for the holidays, which shouldn't be tiring but always seem to be.  As you may have guessed, it didn't work out that way.  It rained instead.

I was reminded of a story I read a long time ago by Tony Hillerman, about the Great Flood of Taos, New Mexico.  I remember the story because it was so perfectly absurd that I found it hilarious, things like that stick in my brain.  If I remember the story correctly, it went something like this:  the Great Flood of Taos wasn't a normal sort of flood, like the kind we get here in Salvador: Taos is in the desert and Salvador is in the tropics.  We got some flooding today - the rain that spoiled my day dumped a couple inches or more on my house in all of twenty minutes.  In Taos it's a little different- apparently the Great Flood was more like three days of drizzle, which caused some adobe roofs to saturate with water and then leak in the houses they were allegedly protecting from the weather, certainly unpleasant for all involved.

Here it's a little bit of a different story.  The local paper is reporting more than 50 mudslides in the city, and tells me that we got 8 centimeters (over 3 inches) of rain today.  On a street near where my wife grew up, people lost everything as the water rose to knee deep.

So you're probably thinking at this point that I am writing to contrast my experience with those lucky people over there in Taos, complaining over three days of drizzle.  Actually, I'm not - what made me think of it was actually a similarity between their experience and mine. You see, my house is up on a hill, in the 'upper city.'  It will not flood knee deep with water, because the water runs down the hill, which is steep, and it is my downhill neighbors who suffer for the most part.  Flooding in our house happens, and it has happened on more than one occasion, because of clogged drainage, inept construction, or both.

I was at the house this afternoon when it started raining because our roof tends to leak when it rains. I was checking the most common points of entry, and I was pretty satisfied that we weren't going to have any major problems this time.  Then I thought I'd better check The Gutter.

The Gutter is a standard rain gutter, made of plastic, accepting run off from a large portion of our roof, and there is one really big thing that is wrong with it.  It is inside the house.  The way the facade of our house is built, the roof doesn't extend over the edge, but rather buts up against it and requires that the drainage be handled from the inside.  This wouldn't necessarily be a problem except for the guys who installed the thing were completely inept (one of them is my brother in law) and they screwed it up.  On very rare occasions, it overflows.  Into the house.

When I went to check The Gutter in the attic where it is 'installed', it was just beginning to overflow.  Except this was an overflow the likes of which I had never witnessed: from at least two different places, water was pouring out as if from multiple faucets turned up full blast.  Turned up to eleven.  Water was pouring out across the ceiling of the room below it.  I tried to stem the flow for about ten seconds before I realized it was futile and got my sorry ass back down the ladder and into the room below.

This, dear reader, was what reminded me of Tony Hillerman's story.  Those soaked adobe roofs?  They leaked - it rained inside the houses.  And let me tell you, it was raining inside my house today.  It really looked like rain.  For a millisecond I considered grabbing my phone and filming it, and maybe if I was ten years younger I would have.  If I was 20 years younger I almost certainly would have.  Kids these days!  It would have made an impressive YouTube video.  But all my stuff was getting soaked, and the water was rapidly making its way through our floor and into the room below it.  It rained down there too.

I won't bore you with details of the cleanup.  It was long and tedious, and isn't done yet.

Forecast for this weekend?

Lots more rain.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Pseudo TV Appearance

I'm going to keep this short, and I'm NOT going to quote Andy Warhol...

I've been on TV.  A number of times.  Sort of.  As far as I know they've mostly been odd little community TV productions that were only visible to cable subscribers.  When I lived in Brattleboro, Vermont apparently there were three or four programs circulating in which I played a part.  There were some videos of my band that got way too much circulation in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Luckily I didn't have to watch much of them.

I heard from my sister in law that there was a video of me on the public TV station here in Salvador, and finally the guy who was actually being filmed at the time told me he'd posted it online.  The program was a pilot for a reality show, three graffiteiros were given some money, a theme, and 24 hours to produce a piece.  It languished in production (perhaps non-production) for a couple years, but now you can watch the whole thing.  They had planned to do more episodes using rotating themes including the other elements of hip-hop culture.  I don't think it ever happened.

Here's the pertinent segment:

I make my brief appearance at about 14:20.  Totally unscripted and spontaneous!  Quoting from my Facebook page:

This is a video from a couple years ago, before I had the store and was selling material out of a steel supply closet that I got for free. My scene starts at 14:21 and lasts for about a minute. The caption reads 'Mil Muros is a store for graffiti accessories in Largo 2 de Julho'

I'm famous baby.

Thanks Denissena Operário for letting me know this actually got produced, and for frequenting the store even before it was a store!

Denis Sena is one of the few graffiti artists who actually makes money at it here in Salvador, and is one of my best and most congenial customers.  He's a good guy.  You should check out his artwork here if you are interested in seeing more.

Whatever happened to those guys from Texas who interviewed me and filmed me painting?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Command You to Write

Having just received the previous comment on one of my... 'recent' posts, who am I to refuse?

Not that I'm likely to say anything interesting or coherent, but a blog post every three or four months would be nice.  I've actually had a hankerin' to blog, but so many things get in the way.  In fact, I have at least four other things I should be doing right now, my first quiet moment at the computer this evening, but they can wait a few minutes.  They've certainly been waiting longer than that.

I suppose a list of exciting recent events would be useful, here's a few:

  1. I no longer have an employee at my store (did I ever mention that I did?) as the store doesn't take in enough money to maintain one
  2. I went to the USA with my wife and son, had a great time, then came back to the murder capital of Brasil
  3. I bought myself a teeny tiny drill press which I love, and am seriously considering buying a table saw as a result
  4. I am in the 'midst' of painting a large portion of the house, a job that will probably only take me six months
  5. A second cat fell through our roof and spent a whole day trapped on our property
  6. I am still working on the roof of Evani's house (see previous post)
  7. Still haven't printed any t-shirts, but I want to
  8. Still haven't finished the sign I'm working on for the store, but I'm getting there
  9. Still haven't finished the hatch I was installing on the roof
  10. Still haven't finished the three paintings I was working on six months ago
  11. This is getting depressing so I'm going to stop.
Yes, yes, all that is well and good but the big news of the day is that Lucas passed all his classes and is now officially on summer vacation.  I can't tell you how much of a relief that is for me, as it also means that *I* get a summer vacation, rather than spending a couple hours a day doing homework with the kid.  Which means I may have more time for the aforementioned incomplete projects.  Not that I'll necessarily finish them, I'm much more likely to start new projects that will also go unfinished.  But hey!  That's how I roll baby.

Okay, I need to get back to those other things I should be working on.  I have to get up early and drive out to the airport, which is bound to be a thrilling experience.  But first, here are some ideas I've had for blog posts that I probably won't write:

  1. How tiny my day-to-day world has become
  2. How the most obnoxious and offensive person on our street is now homeless and camped out in front of our building
  3. How a sizable percentage of our renters spend almost all of their time in Salvador here at the house surfing the internet
Congratulations to our little Lucas for completing third grade!!  Parabens meu filho!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Street Art Indoors

... Is an oxymoron.

It's also an event I just took part in, a collaboration with six other artists that I was invited to participate in.  It was a lot of fun, and one of the only real 'exhibitions' I've ever taken part in, with an opening and all the rest.  I won't mention the rest of my art resumé, it's a bit embarrassing.  The best parts have all been chronicled on this blog already.  Pretty much.  Except for when I've been lazy.  Of course, nothing was for sale and all the art will be gone in a month or so and I'll be left with memories and photos, if not more cash in my pocket.

Here's a picture:

Schmuck that I am, I only took pictures of my own work, but maybe that's just as well as I'm going to start being mean now.  One of these days this tendency is going to bite me in the ass, and I hope it's not today.  I really did enjoy participating in the event and I'm very pleased I got to take part.  I may have to say that several more times as a disclaimer.

I'm not going to be super mean.  It's just that the whole concept of the show was a bit weird for my taste, calling it 'street art indoors' and all that (I didn't come up with that title).  The thing is that almost none of the artists involved actually do any work on the street, with the exception of myself and possibly one other.  It's more 'street art' as a trend rather than, you know, art on the street.

You could say that any art on the street is street art, couldn't you?  By that definition, a statue of a politician in the median of the road would be street art, right?  I would say no.  So then does it need to be clandestine/illegal to be street art?  I would say not necessarily although others would disagree.  Why is some work street art and other work is graffiti?  Why do I say, with some frequency to anyone who will listen, that there is no real street art scene here in Salvador?

These are all very interesting questions and I hope you enjoyed them.  I hope they keep you awake tonight as you turn them over and over in your brain.  But this is the real question that came to mind during this collaboration: if you take a bunch of artists who don't work on the street and you put them in an institutional space (this was actually in a foyer, not a gallery) and have them make some art, can you call it street art?  Even if you qualify it as 'street art indoors'?

As they say on Fox News right after they've told you what they expect you to think: You Decide.

But I really enjoyed myself and I hope they invite me back again next year.

Here's another picture from my contribution:

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Casa Caiu

This blog is pretty much defunct, but I have a good story to tell and I think I can tell it quickly.  Those are pretty much the parameters these days.  I have lots of stories but not the time nor the focus to get them out.  I think maybe this blog has run its course, maybe, like a book, I should give it an ending.  Or like a novela, the famous Brazilian prime-time soap operas.  Unlike an American TV show, which keeps going until the ratings drop enough, novelas run their course and wind themselves up in less than a year.  Evani's current favorite just ended tonight, not even a half hour ago.

But not yet.  I'm not ready to give up the ghost.  I've got twelve followers and by gum, I won't let you down!!

Anyhow, the story.

Yesterday a building in a neighborhood near where my wife grew up a building blew up.  Literally.  A three story, steel and concrete building exploded.  Here's a picture:

As you might imagine, this is big news even in a place as crazy as Bahia.  One guy died and several others, including two young girls, were injured.

What happened?  is you eminently logical question, and I will tell you.  Apparently they were making espadas there, these completely insane homemade fireworks that are basically gunpowder packed into a bamboo tube, lit like an enormous sparkler.  They make their appearance at São João, the big party that rolls around at the end of June.  Here's an example, this video was shot in the neighborhood where the house blew up:

I'm not a big fan of São João, I've whined about it on this blog in the past, it's a freakin' month of my life listening to homemade fireworks go off and I have come to loathe it.  I heard some fireworks last night and cringed - it's starting again.

However, this business of the espadas (better known as 'guerra de espada' or 'war of the swords') is just madness and stupidity as far as I'm concerned.  I'm sorry, but no civilized place should let people run around in public with homemade rocket bombs of considerable calibre in residential neighborhoods where they could, you know, burn or blind people, which happens all the time.  You only need to watch 30 seconds of the video above to see what I'm talking about, but if you watch a bit more you'll see the cop cars on the scene, doing fuck all about it.

But hey, I'm a 40-something fuddy duddy and I don't get it.  The people who are into this are really into it, it's an insane adrenaline rush apparently.  And plus, what's the worst that could happen?

Well, you could blow up and die and take a whole building down with you, and you could cause the deaths of innocent people which thank goodness didn't happen yesterday.  They're trying to figure out if the neighboring buildings will also have to be torn down as they suffered structural damage in the explosion.

So that's a pretty good story, right?  Well, it gets better.  One of the guys who lives, I mean lived, in the house?  I know him.  He's a graffiteiro.  And a cop to boot.  There's actually a picture of him on this blog, but I'm not going to tell you where.  I found out about this whole thing because Facebook lit up with people wanting to help him out because his house blew up.  The two girls who were injured were his nieces.  As for me, I'm going to wait and see.  I don't know what his involvement was, but as you may have noticed from my tone I don't think highly of building homemade explosives in residential neighborhoods with kids in the house.  This guy is one of the nicest people I've ever met and I'm sure he wouldn't intentionally harm anyone, especially his own family.  Oh wait - he's a police officer now.  Maybe he would hurt someone.

I'm an American, more specifically a UnitedStatesian, citizen of one of the most reviled and warlike nations on the planet.  We blow people up, things get blown up, we shoot people, etc.  Who hates the Brazilians?  Nobody, except maybe some Argentinians, and that's mostly over soccer feuds.  Who is Brazil going to war with?  Nobody.  Who's blowing up bombs in Brazil?  Why, that would be the Brazilians.  Whole lot of shooting going on in Brazil, whole lot of dying going on here, and it's all internal, all self-inflicted you could say.

There's a joke about God as he's making the Earth, he makes this amazing paradise that has no earthquakes, no volcanoes or hurricanes, and that's Brazil.  One of the angels asks him if that's really fair and God says: Don't worry, wait until you see the people I put there.  That's pretty mean, and also pretty funny.  But seriously Brazil?  At least take 'Order and Progress' off of your flag.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From My Window

I heard someone crying in the street, so I went to have a look.

I see a man holding a revolver, pointed at the ground.  I think he lives on the street, but I don't really recognize him.  He walks into a building across the street, reemerges with the gun in his waistband.  He walks away.

The crying woman faints.  She is lowered into a chair by a group of women, who try to revive her.  There is some confusion, one of our neighbors herds her child into the house, but stays on the street herself.  Suddenly she cries out, and I see that one of the teenage mothers on the street is carrying a rock.  She's also carrying her baby.

The rock apparently is intended as a weapon, because a scuffle ensues, with four or five women pushing and pulling on the woman, the rock, and each other.  I am worried that the baby is going to be dropped, but he is plucked out of the arms of his mother by another teenager.  He starts howling.

Confusion reigns for a bit.  The teenage mother is chased back down the street away from her presumed target, who may or may not have been the crying woman.  I have no idea.

This last bit I'm not even sure I saw properly. It looked like the same girl who took the baby from her mother, still carrying the baby, picked up a beer bottle and smashed it on the ground, so she was carrying the broken bottle neck.  She disappeared from view, walking down the hill, with the baby and the broken bottle.

Nothing much happened after that.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, those silly spammers

Nothing like a brainless post when I have better things to do...
So I just got this lovely comment on my skylights post:

 I'm glad that you did something about your roof. The metal's corroded and deteriorated. I'm sure anytime soon, water will start dripping from your roof when the rainy season comes. I think it's a good decision that you choose a skylight for your new roof. It'll let ambient light in, that will save you money. Plus, it won't corrode as fast as a normal metal roof.

This is the third one like this - it looks like a comment, but it's really spam. Actually, it's not exactly spam, it's a clever attempt to boost a site's SEO - that is, Search Engine Optimization. It links back, not to a housewife in Cleveland, or Ceará for that matter, but rather to a website for some roofing business. 

And I've gotten three - from three different roofing companies.  They're on a roll.

WTF, people - didn't you read the post??  My roof has no corroded metal because until I installed these skylights, there was no metal in it.  Unless you count the nails.

Anyhow, these are the only comments I get these days, so maybe I should publish them anyways.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blue Skylights

I mentioned in my previous post that my neighbor's roof was a disgrace, what I didn't include was a picture of my own:
This was the state of my sorry skylight as of the middle of January.  This next picture is even more fun:

This one is nice becauseit really shows how the panels were deteriorating.  At the top, on the left of the greenish panels you can see where it's all dented in - that's where a cat nearly fell through many months ago but we didn't really feel the need to fix it as the water was dripping directly into our bathtub.

I have been planning to replace them for a long time, and I'm proud to say that they now look like this:

A major improvement, right?  Yes, I agree, and I'm thrilled!  But you have no idea how much work was involved in getting these lovely blue panels in place.

I won't bore you with all the details, just a few of them.  After I figured out what material to use (polycarbonate) and where to buy it, I finally got off my lazy ass and got the stuff.  One thing I've learned here in Brazil, which is not Do-It-Yourself friendly, is that's it's best not even to mention that you're going to do it yourself.  Otherwise, they'll tell you you can't do it.  So I pretended I was working from a list that a 'contractor' had given me, as I was feeling out what was available and would serve my purposes.  Inevitably, the sales clerk asked me who was doing the work, and I told him some guy, and he asked me if the guy had worked with polycarbonate before, and I said that he claimed that he had, and we laughed and carried on.  Everything came in pieces four meters long, which looked pretty funny tied to the top of my little car.  The panels rolled up into a big roll which fit in my hatch.

One thing I opted to do was to simply duplicate the basic structure of the panels that were already there - I didn't take advantage of the fact that the polycarbonate is very flexible, and I could have made a really nice curved cap to fit over the space, but it would have been much more involved so I didn't.  Here's a picture of how curly the stuff is:

The curliness was a bonus, but I was more interested in its heat-absorbing (and hopefully sound-reducing) qualities.  I also figured it would last a lot longer than the stoopid corrugated panels I had previously used.  We'll see about that.

What followed was a lot of sawing and drilling and riveting and caulking.  I had to make a chop-saw jig for my circular saw to cut the aluminum, it worked pretty well.  I ain't no carpenter, but I can carpent when the need arises.  It took forever as I'm super slow, but I'm pretty confident the end result is solid.  Here's one of the finished panels:

Next came the fun part. What you can't tell from the picture on my roof is that the air shaft under the skylights is about 30 feet deep.  It would not be fun to fall down it, not even a little.  So I pulled out the harness I'd purchased long ago to save me from almost certain death:

My brothers had to patch up those skylights the day before my wedding without the benefit of ropes and harnesses, but that's another story.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of me in action as I tore out the old panels and then put in the new panels.  I'm still not quite done, but most of the heavy lifting is finished and the ropes have not been 'tested.'

One of the corollary tasks I performed in order to facilitate the job may be the coolest thing of all: I cut a hole in my roof so I'd have easier access to it.  It's still not easy access, as I need to climb two ladders to get up there, but it's better:

It's hard to tell from this picture, but it looks down through the attic, then through the trap door and down to the second floor of the house - it's a long freakin' way down.

So now let me go on a bit about the results of my new skylights.  I'm waiting for a nice, big, juicy downpour, but as far as I can tell they are quite waterproof.  Cats will not fall through them.  They do appear to reduce street noise.  And one more thing:

You may have noticed, being the extremely observant reader that you are, that the panels I purchased are blue.  I did that because they were out of white and gray.  Let me tell you something my friend, they make practically the whole house blue during the day:

As a friend of mine observed, it's like being in an aquarium.  It really is.  I kinda hate it actually.  I'm starting to get used to it, and the sun may eventually bleach out some of the blue, but it's really really really blue.  It's so blue that when your eyes adjust to it and then you step into normal light, everything looks really really really orange for a few minutes.

So what's my next project?  Figuring out how to mute the blue.  My expensive art degree taught me at least one thing: complementary colors placed side by side will generate maximum contrast, but combined one with the other they will cancel each other out, ie turn gray.

Anything orange under this blue turns a kind of sickly gray.

So here's the plan:  hang big, orange paintings in the air shaft and paint an orange mural: this should take care of some of the reflected blue light in there.  But probably what will make the biggest difference will be to hang some orange fabric under the skylights.  It pains me a bit to do it, but although I like blue I don't like it that much.  And I don't plan to buy any more polycarbonate anytime soon.

Well, dear reader, you made it to the end of another long post.  That means you're either a total dork on the same wavelength as I am or you have nothing better to do.  So as a reward, I'm going to post a picture from my new series of street 'bombs.'  This was painted today, and took me all of five minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recent Events in Photos

  Life does have its interesting moments, here are a few.

Evani's new living room, with an original Markuza on the wall.  This photo got a nice buzz from my friends and acquaintances on Facebook, and I may have sold a painting as a result.

 Possibly the biggest news - this little article thingie appeared in one of the local papers on Sunday.  I forgot to pick one up and thought I was going to miss out, but my barber had an old copy.  This also got a nice buzz on Facebook, although my barber, who read the paper 'from cover to cover' hadn't even noticed it.  I should really post a translation, but I'm too lazy.

Finally got out and did a decent painting on Sunday.  I had planned to paint solo, but Fael, a client and an excellent grafiteiro, called me up and invited me to paint with a couple other folks.  My newish phone takes panoramic photos, which is cool.  This is the result.

This one is a result of a taxi going by as I was panning to make the photo - also cool

This final panorama was taken after I got home from painting.  I had to climb onto the roof to fix a leak.  I have no view from the house proper, but the view from the roof is pretty cool.

 My roof is not pretty, but my neighbor's is a fucking disgrace.  I bet your neighbor's roof doesn't look like this.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

98% Dust-Free and Reflections on a Year of Near-Sobriety

The New Year rolls in and I am in energy-conservation, recharge-batteries mode.  I write because it's about what I am up to, and also there is a certain anniversary I must mark on this largely inactive blog, five years I've been at it, although less so now than I was before.

So why am I so tired?  Well, it's not because I am fantastically hung over, which is a good thing, but rather because I spent two solid days cleaning after a week of busting ass with painting prep and another week or so of construction in the house.  I had strong doubts about my ability to rally for a New Year's Eve celebration, but after a day of extreme sloth (yesterday) I managed to get out to Barra with Lucas for a spectacular fireworks display.  Here is the family picture I took last night that has been a big hit on Facebook:

The picture of course doesn't tell the whole story - it looks like we are all about to do something together which sadly we did not - Lucas and I went one way, and Evani another.

Part I - The Dust

But enough of the chronological gymnastics.  Dear reader, when last I posted I was fending off the avaricious advances of a dishonest contractor, and that's not as suggestive as it sounds.  Turns out I did exactly what I though I would, and when he called me again I told him we weren't going to do any work at this time and I'd get back to him when we decided to get the work done.  Unbeknownst to him, I had already lined up another builder/contractor, someone we'd found through a personal reference (in fact, he is the neighborhood builder of choice out in Paripe, where he worked on my wife's house amongst others).  This other builder had impressed me by being intelligent, apparently competent, well-recommended, and also for cutting through the bullshit.  He assured me that the other estimates I'd gotten had received a generous dose of the Gringo Factor (ie multiply by as much as you think you can get away with) and agreed to take on the job.

I won't get into all the details because as I mentioned I'm tired and also my poor son is trapped here in the house with me and is not suffering from a lack of energy, a situation I am sadly unable to remedy in a satisfactory manner.  The highlight was a trip to a 'ferro velho' (old iron) where we bought about six meters of steel I-beams, which amazingly we were able to transport in my humble hatchback back to the house.  Here's a picture of the I-beams, I wish I'd taken a photo of them in the car:

The builders busted things and fixed things and made a huge mess and we stopped in the middle to receive a paying guest and I had to live in the house of chaos for about two weeks amongst the dust and disarray.  I moved out of our bedroom and into the kid's room, well away from the wall undergoing surgery, as I figured waking up dead in the middle of the night under ten tons of masonry might not be a very dignified way to go, and also eminently avoidable.

Building is messy work, particularly if you build with something that looks like mud and turns into something that looks like stone.  Worse yet is the white pervasive dust that is the result of sanding plaster that gets slathered over the raw concrete to make it nice and smooth and wall-like.  However, I really wanted to get as much of the white dust part over with so the house wouldn't require two top-to-bottom cleanings, which is why I spent the last week busting ass.  The results were pretty good, even though not all the cement in question was dry enough to plaster.

Here is the end result, as of about fifteen minutes ago:

The builders wanted to cover the beam in cement, but I said no way.  I am quite fond of my new steel beam, and plan to paint it bright colors once the lethargy passes.

Evani showed up to clean the place for New Year's and almost cried.  Admittedly, it was a mess, but I was pleased with my progress.  Just to let you know it was not only this one beam that was installed, there was other mess-making done in the house.  It took two full days of hard labor by both of us, her barely speaking to me, to get the house more or less in order.  And 98% of the dust is now gone.  Maybe 99%.

Let me tell you it is very nice:

1. to be back in my own bed
2. to be in a clean house again
3. to have (almost) everything back where it belongs
4. to not have to worry about ten tons of masonry avalanching in my kitchen.

And now a short break before I continue with part two of this evening's post.

Part II - The Near-Sobriety

2012 was a year of very little drinking for me.  In fact, you could count the times I drank this year on the fingers of one hand, providing you borrow one from the other hand.  Then again, that last finger would consist of the half glass of champagne and the piriguete (a mini-beer, about 9 ounces) that I drank last night.  Then again, I wasn't going to drink at all last night.  Then again, I did manage to stop at one beer.  Then again it did require some angel/devil back and forth to keep from having another.

I guess this could be called moderation, although it might be more accurate to call it 'strictly imposed limits'.  Six days this year instead of what certainly would have been 300+, that's a definite improvement.  But if I seem a bit ambivalent about the whole thing it's because I am.  My brother quoted a line from South Park to me one time:  "Quitting is easy, it's moderation that's hard."  (I'm sure I'm misquoting, but you get the idea).  The thing is even though this year went pretty well, I don't really believe that moderation works.  I watched my dad blunder through various attempts at moderating his drinking, and I watched myself blunder through various attempts at moderating my smoking, and I've watched lots of addictive-type people through the years do the same thing.

The thing is, that even if this is working, I'm not sure it's worth it.  All or nothing would just be an easier way to be done with the whole thing, preferably nothing I think.  The thing is I'm not really an alcoholic, at least by many definitions - I would describe myself more as a 'habitual drinker with serious genetic red flags and gradually worsening tendencies' if you know what I mean.

The thing is that I miss drinking, and because my drinking never became a seriously debilitating factor in my life it's sometimes hard to see the clear benefits of removing it from my life.  Also Bahian social life involves a lot of drinking, at least in the circles I run in.  It's nice to have these 'special days' where I have a few, but I get way too excited about them.  Maybe even worse is the fact that the last couple times I drank, including last night, it was 'no big deal' which would add to the illusion that I 'have it under control' and can therefore drink more.

I've been through all this before.  I quit smoking 14 years ago, and that was relatively easy.  Before I quit I played all these moderation games with that too, I even had a couple years of this kind of 'special occasion' smoking like I'm doing now.  Eventually I just had to give it up, and I don't regret it- I rarely even think about it.  But I would never try to be a moderate smoker, it would never work.  I'll probably have to give up the drinking for good as well, or go back to the aforementioned red-flags, worsening-tendencies state I was in previously.

I gave up tobacco too, I don't even know when exactly- I was never much of a smoker.  My apologies to those of you who are, and don't want to be.