Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Disney and the future of my plans

Next Sunday is July 4. That day we are heading to Orlando, Florida.
There will spend three days at Disney and two days at Universal. I can not wait. The trip is all planned out. I hope it comes out okay. The Bible does say that we must say "if God wills, not only will we live, but we'll also do this or that."

I'm a big time planner. I love to plan. I could get paid to do just that forever.
So I need to keep in mind that God is the one that will make plans come true - or not. If he wills, not only will he give me another day, another year of life, but he will also allow me to follow through with my plans.

God is in control. I must never forget that.

Since this Monday I'm officially on vacation. I spent the day at the computer planning our next trip. Next year, to England. I had also included 2 days in Paris. Then I put two more days to visit castles and go on the French Riviera.

I came to the conclusion that such plan would not work for a reason - England is in Britain. Britain also includes Scotland and Ireland (and Wales too, but we have no interest in it).

England is the land of Robin Hood, King Arthur, it has Oxford, it has the castles of the royalty. London has so many museums and monuments, Liverpool has the Beatles. There is also Stonehenge and Bath (city with Roman bath houses). We can not leave out the stopping for fish and chips, traditional English dish.

Scotland has the Loch Ness and the highlands landscapes, scenes of Harry Potter, a haunted castle (and many other beautiful castles), malt whisky distilleries ... And we can not leave out the fried Mars bar, apparently a Scottish staple.

And in Ireland ... - I do not know yet what's in Ireland, but Dean wants to go to a traditional Irish Pub.

And after all his ancestors are Scottish, Irish and English. He owes it to himself to go there and get to know the place.

So if we go to England, how to not tour the UK's other countries but instead take a rushed tour of France?

Why not leave France for another tour in which she will dedicate to 6 or 7 days? 6 days in France, eight days in Italy, seven days in Greece - a trip of three weeks ... is of good size.

God is still in control. And as the saying goes "The future belongs to God."

ancient writing

Last week I had to proctor 6th graders English exam. At one point I just stood in front of the class and watched. Everyone seemed to be working on an open response question, all the pens were moving. Then the thought hit it - "How long till handwriting is considered ancient history?"
No, really. How long till people look back in history and say, "Children used to be taught how to handwrite?!?! Impressive!!!!"
How long till handwriting becomes unrecognizable squiggles on a page, like hieroglyphs are to us?
How long?
How long till opening a dictionary is not longer thought of when trying to find out the spelling of a word? I still think of it, but hardly ever do it. I just type the word as best as I can and let self-correction red-mark it in case it's wrong. When It is wrong, they give me a list of possibilities... I just have to pick the right one and my spelling problem is solved.
But how long until people no longer understand that we used to also be able do that using dictionaries? How long until they ask, "Did people have to go all the way up to a shelf and pull out a heavy bulky book and look for a word?"
How long until paper books is something that will only be found in museums. How long till people say, "Can you imagine all that paper around the house!" "Can you imagine not being able to find a word or phrase immediately, and just having to mark every page with little color piece of paper!"(they won't know the word post-its).

Oh, I believe these days are coming. Not soon, not for any of us alive today to see. But I think we will be part of an ancient civilization someday - if Jesus doesn't return before that - a civilization known for the use of ink and paper. And the environmentalists will have to find something other than cutting-trees-for-paper-production problem to solve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The only thing we know for sure

The only thing we can know for sure in life is that death is coming. Sooner, later, painless or painful, it is the only thing we can be certain of - every one that lives must die some day.
That's a humbling wondrous truth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I have not yet come to a conclusion of whether or not to get aflac.

but I have come to a conclusion of what plans I definetely will not get.

disability plan is for those first 3 months in which regular disability does not kick in, but you still remain without a paycheck, says the aflac guy. And he goes on to ask us how many of us can't wait for the next paycheck? what would happen if we had to go without a paycheck for the next 3 months?

To me the answer is simple, very simple - our savings would suffer. Because my husband and I make a point of putting money aside for savings every paycheck, we know that we could go a few months without income, because our savings would take care of us ad our bills.

Aflac disability plan seems to me a great idea for anyone who lives to the most of their financial abilities. Anyone with credit card debt, any one who uses every penny of their paycheck every week.

It's not smart for people who choose to live below it in order to save or the future like we do. We are already doing aflac's job for ourselves.

Not up for discussion

Growing up I always heard the "very wise" saying - "Soccer, politics and religion are not up for discussion."
The idea is that those things are very personal and no one has the right to tell someone else what to think about it, no one has the right to tell someone else they are wrong, no one has the right to tell someone else they should consider changing their mind. Those three areas of a person's life are holy sanctuaries that must remain individual and untouched by the rest of the world - alienated if you will forgive me the Marxist word. Each person has their own opinions and no one should tell him/her that they are wrong. Because after all there is no right or wrong on these three areas. There are only opinions. And in the end they affect no one else for good or for worse.
I beg to differ. Yes, you can argue that most of the beliefs we hold are personal, but you can not argue that they must remain untouched by the rest of the world. You can not argue that they affect no one else. You can not say that there are no consequences to my opinions.
So can we really throw politics, religion and soccer in the same bag of sanctuary fields that must remain untouched by the world? Are these 3 things the same thing?
Let me start with soccer.
Soccer - as sacred to any Brazilian as the superbowl is to any American. Can we tell people that they should change teams? Does the fact that your team wins or loses has an ever lasting effect on your well-being? Not really, not to any mentally healthy human. The nature of sports is to be a win-lose event. The side you choose to take is completely arbitrary, and it really does not matter in the end, because teams will win and teams will lose at any given time for any given reason. Soccer is about passion - rational or irrational. And it is about recreation and fun. Sides in soccer, as in any sport, are necessary.
You can maybe convince a person who hates losing that he should consider choosing a stronger team. But in the end - what's the point? No team is ever invincible.
You can however argue of the fairness of a game; over whether or not new rules should be added. These will have long lasting consequences to how the game is to be played so that things get done right. Oops, I guess I am not in the politics field.
So ok, let's go to the next word:
Politics - Can I tell people that their political views are wrong and that they should change them? Does the fact that a political move or trend gets put into place make any long lasting difference in people's lives? Oh, yes it does. The world is made up of politics. It might not be easy to tell best practices from bad practices. It might be hard to tell which moves will have better or worse consequences. But since when difficulty of interpretation is a reason for anyone to quit trying to understand things that will affect their lives? Since when difficulty of interpretation is a reason to say we should stop trying to figure this out and let it be - when what happens because of that will affect the way we live? The fate of those who don't care if to be controlled by those who do. It's your choice to make - you can choose not to argue - but decisions will be made and you will have to live with its consequences.
So yes, politics can and should be up for discussion. It's normal to have differing points of view, and they must all be legitimate - but choosing such points of view is not arbitrary. They have reasons that back them up, ideologies, historical backgrounds, and projections for the future. All of these are things that can be measured and evaluated. Politics must be up for discussion, because politics influences our lives in very real ways.

Religion is one area that people who don't have will say it's just like soccer. Some people who have a religion will also say it really does not matter. You can't tell people which one is right or wrong, better or worse. The major issue here is that choosing are religion seems like an arbitrary decision, just like choosing a soccer team. Not so much like choosing a political side, in which one must ponder ideologies, history and projections for the future. The reason why this confusion happens is that religion is based on faith. And faith is often confused with irrational preference. However anyone who takes religion seriously knows that what you believe about the spiritual world affects the way you live in the material world. religion is not so much about how its consequences affect the world, but more about how it affects the individual who holds that faith. But it still deals with serious long lasting, I dare say ever lasting consequences. To me a Christian, being told I can't talk to another person about my religion is like being told not to tell anyone about the map to El Dorado I just found. It will change your life! I must tell you about it! You may choose not to believe it, but you will be passing on the chance of a lifetime. No, it's more than that. To me a Christian, being told religion is not something that must be up for discussion is like being told not tell people that they are in jail, but that I have found a way to escape. Yes, I can escape alone. But why would I want to do that? I do know that every religion deals with getting man back in touch with the spiritual world. Religion is about the spiritual world, a world we don't see our touch or smell, but that is very real. You can choose to ignore it, but it still is a reality. You can choose not to make decisions, but that means someone else will make them for you. You might not harm anyone with your decisions but yourself, but you must be willing to take that chance. So religion must be discussed.

Out of all three fields, only soccer is really irrelevant enough to fit the category of things that are not up to discussion, and only when it has to do with personal preference for a team. So much for popular wisdom.
Let's bring politics and religion back to the place the deserve - subjects that matter, and that must be "up for discussion", regardless of whether or not we all get to a consensus on them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

going to the beach is a fact of life - life taking a shower

I could never enjoy the sun as much as I do now if I did not have to deal with the winter for so long.
In Brazil, more specifically in Salvador da Bahia we are spoiled. We have sun and warth all year long. We hop on the car and run to the beach 52 Saturdays a year - those of us who are not church people do it 52 Sundays a year as well.
Going to the beach is not a special event like going on vacation. It is a matter of fact event like taking a shower or eating lunch. It's a fact of life.

Then I moved to New England. And for months out of the year I can't even put on shorts and flip-flops. I never thought anyone could survive in such a situation. I never thought anyone, let alone my always cold self, coud endure such low temperatures and for so long.

It turns out I can. And if I can anyone can.

But now I value the sun much more than before. Now when I open my mouth to say "What a beautiful day!" the words are the same, but the meaning is different:

What a beautiful day! (I must enjoy every minute of it before it is taken from me and it will be another 8 months before I can have it again!!!

instead of

What a beautiful day! Maybe I can go to the beach.... nah, maybe next week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

those who do and those who don't

"The fate of those who don't like politics is to be controlled but those who do." - I don't know who said that for the first time, but my high school teachers hammered that idea into my head. If you don't care about politics, people that care will get involved and they will make the decisions for you. If you don't get involved, someone else will - and they will make the decisions for you. Will you like those decisions? Who knows! the fact of the matter, however, is that decisions will be made, by someone, whether you like it o

panis et circenses

I was just on the phone with grandma. She wondered if people here in America were going home in the middle of the day to watch the World Cup games.
No, they are not. Neither do I have the right to go home to watch Brazil play.
I have a hard time getting used to the fact that the whole country does not come to a halt because of the World Cup games.
My whole life it has always been like that - every four years, banks, grocery stores, bus services, schools - everything that can be stopped stops for four hours (enough time for people to get home, watch the game and then go back to work), during every single Brazilian game in the World Cup.
Do I have a hard time getting used to the idea that the world cup is not a national event? Heck I do! It does not even seem real that anyone would consider not halting the country for 4 hours. t does not seem real.
But do I think this practice is worthy of a respectable country? No. I don't think any respectable country should halt all of its activities because of a sports event. The rational part of me does not believe that any country who takes itself seriously should voluntarily desert its streets, lock themselves inside theirs houses and forget there's anything else in the world that's worth anything for a month, just so they can cheer for Brazil in the World Cup.
Unfortunately, our politicians know that nothing else but soccer will make it to the news during that time, so, like children left alone in the house, they play at will will our precious assets. The best example ever of the Roman poet's panis et circenses (bread and circus). Keep the people busy with other thins than what really matters.
yes, it feels weird, it just does not feel real that any country can be living their lives as if nothing was really going on during the world cup. But rationally speaking, it feels right.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

the cat

her name is Bianca. But we really only say her name when someone inquires about it.
usually her name is Kitty, Cat, or just plain Retard.
yes, and that is not because we are mad at her. It's because we have been convinced by every other thing that she does that she is, to use politically correct and school acceptable vocabulary, a cat with special needs, a cat that is mentally challenged. We have come to grips with the fact that she will never be normal.
I should start a blog only about the crazy things the cat does. but so much of it is visual.
she's a mix of siamese and calico, which already gives her a very intersting look, and accoridng to peopel that understand cats, a very interesting personality.
I know nothing of cats personalities. I know they are not dogs! They have a mind of their own.
As for our cat...
She runs around like crazy. She jumps up at the least sign of noise or movement - someday she will die of heart attack.

She whines and meows for no apparent reason - oh, other than "if you guys will make noises non-stop, so will I". Does she think she can talk?

She licks herself obsessively.

She sits in front of the air vent and stares at it as the cold air blows. She sits in front of the lazy-suzan everyday awaiting for a mouse that is no longer there.

She jumps on top of my husband at will, and without asking for permission she walks all over him.

She must meow when we are talking and she must sit when we are all sitting, and she must lay down when we are all laying down. She must bite my husband - only my husband - when her litter is full, her water is empty, and her food is getting low. - Does she think he is her faithful servant?

She ... oh that stupid idiotic cat ... she must get herself out the door, or inside cabinets everytime doors are open, even though she knows she will get locked in (or out) and that she will enter a complete stage of despair as soon as that happens!!!

She must do things that get her in toruble ove and over again. Why????

She has an obsession for twisties and coffee stirrers. She steals them right off your cup if your eyes are fixed on the TV long enough.

MY question as I look at her and watch her go about leading her crazy life as if we were merely part of the furniture is - what goes on in her mind.

The phrase "a penny for your thoughts" never meant so much to me. A penny? Heck, I'd give up a whole paycheck. I'd love to know what goes on in her mind - does she think? what does she think? in what language? does she deal with consequences? how? Sometimes I think consequences are not part of her thinking process. SHe only understands a consequence is coming when she already acted.

Example - we get home and see a chewed up cable. She sees that we see the cable. She halts. We turn to look at her. She hides.

If for one day I could be a cat. If for one day I could be in her brain. Just to know how she thinks - or of she thinks. Or, if she does think, does she think about the fact that she thinks? No, that would make her rational.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Humility is not thinking less Of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.

My favorite person and I - My love is a special person

Men react negatively to what they don't understand.

The word millennium is not in the Bible. But neither is the word trinity - so that is not a good argument to use when discussing the Millennium.

"How do you know it's from God?" "Oh you just know it." That's not my faith - my faith is grounded on something, but faith is based on the Bible and it is reasonable - as paradoxical as this might sound.

The holy spirit doesn't want us to talk about him, it wants us to talk about Christ - that's why he wad sent.

The fire of God's holy wrath.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

a disclaimer for the constitution

The Constitution of the United States is sold with a disclaimer?
I am unaware of any situation in which the magna carta of a nation, while valid or not, is sold with a disclaimer to caution parents against the ideas contained in it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hate speech

Jews, go back to Poland and Germany - this land belongs to the palestines.

Ok, then let's see:

Jews, go back to the Palestine, this land belongs to the Germans. - This was the feeling in Nazi Germany.

Blacks, go back to Africa, this land belongs to the American colonists.

Italians, Irish, go back to your home countries, this land belongs to Americans who came in the Mayflower only.

Americans, go back to Europe, this land here belongs to the North-American Indians.

Americans, get out of Texas, this land belongs to Mexico.

Latin-Americans, go back to Spain and Portugal, this land belongs to the Central and South-American Indians.

You can send anyone back anywhere you want - it is not going to work. No one can go back home, when home has ceased to be home generations ago. The Nazis succeed in their campaign against granting the Jews the right to call their Reich dominions home, and how well did that end. Are we really going to go down this road?

What about illegal immigrants? If you send Jews back to Poland and Germany, should you send illegals back to Mexico and wherever as well?

I'm pro-LEGAL immigration. But something tells me, the people who want jews to go back to Poland and Germany don't mind illegal border crossing in the U.S. - Am I right?


So I had this Brazilian lit in college that was so against the word influence that it was even pathetic.

You must never say that writer A was influenced my writer B. That's an offensive thing to say!

So, pretty much we had to figure out what words to use when we were analyzing literature.

Check out the name they give it to the flu in English - Influzenza! That means influence is something bad.

I am not sure a college professor could say anything more ignorant than that. We were just teenagers and we knew that she was messed up. Needless to say she was the same professor who accused me of blindly copying my favorite poem from some random book at my grandma's library just so I could meet the assignment.

No one your age could possibly like this poem!

How could someone like that even get a job at a higher level education institution? Why did I even bother replying to that absurd remark? I guess I was trying to defend my honor... Picking a random poem when I received specific instruction to pick my favorite poem? How hard is it to pick a favorite poem for someone who takes Brazilian Lit as an elective? Really!

So Influenza has that name because it is a bad thing - because influence, any influence is bad.
I should probably not consider the fact that she was also a feminist. And I don't have a problem with feminism in certain aspects, but most feminists I know take their ideas to extremes that make no sense.

Never say a woman has been influenced by a man!

Ok, ok. I won't. I won't say anything you don't want me to in your class. Just give me my grade! Had I known it would have been so hard, I'd have chosen a nutrition class instead.

At least now that I live among normal people, I can talk about being influenced by this or that. Even the book I'm reading for my writing class states that influence is not only ok, it is a GOOD thing - we learn to write from writers, says the author. We learn their craft and their text structures and use them in our own writing. Writing is individual, but not unique is the point the writer makes in one of the first pages of the book. So true. And so freeing. Everyone is influenced by someone else, or something else. Always. In everything we do.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sometimes to just gotta listen to adults

I wrote this down on my phone, but now I don't remember who said it. I think it is a quote from one of my novelas.
I watch my Brazilian novelas to keep in touch with my language. But I also do it because They are fun to watch and keeps me in touch with a general feeling of home. It makes me remember the life I had - in a different world.
As much as coming to America was my own choice, I can't help missing my old life. As much as this country gives me a lifestyle worthy only of the rich people in Brazil, I can't help missing the way I lived before. It was much tougher, and much scarier. It provided me with less hopes for the future, it provided me with less reasons to believe in success or in decency or in morals, but I am what I am today because of it. As far as as a system of values in my country is discredited my many, there are many who fight back, and I learned to be who I am because of them. How could I ever have dreamed of coming to a country like America, if no one in Brazil had taught me to value the values of this country?
Besides no culture is perfect, and I believe that being bicultural makes me a better person - I don't ever want to forget who I am. NO culture is perfect, and being able to look at both Brazilian and American cultures as an outsider gives me an advantage. That's why I don't ever want to forget who I am, or where I came from.
I know my children will be just influenced by my Brazilian culture. They will probably not feel like outsiders as much. After all, they will be fully American, born and raised. And their children even less, perhaps they will not even be able to speak my language. Who knows. Maybe they will love languages as much as I do. But maybe, America will be a greater country because of my influence.

Sometimes to just gotta listen to adults - part 2

I just did not talk about what I wanted the first time around. I got side tracked with the whole "cultural experience" and Brazilian supremacy idea.
I was thinking about the idea of listening to adults. Sometimes you just gotta listen to adults and take their word for it, even if you don't understand what they say.
That was the character's idea. Adults just know things - they just know things that we don't. And the reason why they know things is because they have been around and they have seen things. The world has not changed so much that truth is no longer truth, and human nature is no longer human nature. The world has not changed so much that problems among people are no longer the same.
Adults have been around long enough to know that. So sometimes, instead of thinking we - the young people - have to re-invent the wheel because mom just don't understand things, or dad is just too old to know how things work, we should remember that they have been in our shoes just a couple of years before. They have seen the situation through our eyes once. Eyes that could only see one side of the story until it all unfolded. Now they know the mysteries. Now they know everything they didn't. They know what other people were thinking. They know how that mess ended. They know who got in trouble and who didn't - and they might even know why. They have been to the future and gotten insight from it. We, our lives, are their past. And they are the ones who can tell us what happened in the future.
So yes, sometimes, we just gotta listen to adults, even if things they say don't make any sense to us. Sometimes we just gotta trust they know more than we do.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I learned at the hospital

I learned at the hospital how I like and how I don't like to be treated by people who know things that are important to me.
I learned at the Glenn Beck studio how I like and how I don't like to be treated by people who are in charge of talking when I have something to say.
I learned at Sunday School how I like and how I don't to learn about a topic that is complex.
I learn from people everywhere I go how I can be a better teacher. Because every time I find myself in a position that is under someone else's authority regarding my learning and my expressing what I know I put myself in my students' shoes. And I think how great it is when someone treats me a certain way. And how depressing it is when someone treats me in another way.
When my doctor bothered to stop by at a time that was not even in his scheduled to address a concern some nurse mentioned to him - that showed me cared about my questions. It made me feel safe. I want my students to feel safe like that too.
When Glenn Beck asked us to raise our hands and speak up, and he actually listened to those of us with hands in the air, even after the show was over, that made me feel like I mattered, even in the middle of so many people. His eyes, his body language, his reaction, sometimes his reply - everything conveyed the message "I'm really listening". I want my students to have the same feeling that what they have to say matters, even if they are only one in a crowd.
When my Sunday school teachers take the time to prepare hand-outs, where I can write down my notes and follow their teaching outline, I felt like I could not get lost in the class, and even if I missed part of it, I could have a general idea of what was taught in my absence. I want my students to feel that they can follow the class too.

So I feel like I am always learning to be a better teacher, just by observing how I like the types of interactions I have with people.

Friday, June 04, 2010

one of those "I hate poor"

If anyone has anything against this marriage...

I do! I thought I was at a senator's daughter's wedding, but I might have walked into the wrong church! Because you guys are all poor!

Sir, do you have anything to say against our marriage?

Of course I do!!! Just by looking at the two of you I can tell you are poor! Why do poor people want to get married? To make more poor children, so more poor people are born into this world? That's why this race will never become extinct!

God said blessed are the poor, for they will inherit heaven!

Great! then die and go to heave to take your inheritance! Let us rich people take care of the earth. Why should I care about heaven! There's gotta be a place better than heaven for rich people - is there?

Sir, we are poor and we are proud of it!

Lie! Lie! Proud! You hate being poor! You think I don't know! I know it because I was poor once! Today I'm a senator, and do you think I care about the people? Do you think I'm one of those stupid ones who think care about the country? I want it all in my pocket! In my pocket!!

Demi Lovato

Every time I hear the children mentioning some idolized actor/singer, I try to find out who the person is. I just hate not knowing who are the people in the media.
So I was trying to figure out who on earth was Demi Lovato, who is enjoying some fame in Brazil.
Best place to find out about these people - youtube.
Then I found out why Demi Lovato is so adored by teenagers - her music is about teenage love. Argh! I do not miss those feelings, I do not! "Did I mean any thing to you?" "Did you ever cared about my feelings?" "Did you ever even realized I was here?" My goodness how glad I am to be married and not having to worry about whether or not my words, my feelings, my eyes, my voice make any difference to that person.
Anyway, I don't care why the girls in Brazil are so crazy about Demi Lovato. What I think is really cool is that this obsession with these American stars, and their hopes that they will be able to talk to them someday motivates them to learn English. And I love seeing children motivated to learn languages.