Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Sturbridge Village

Life back in the 1800's was so different! We take so much for granted nowadays. Last Saturday we visited Old Sturbridge Village.

I had been wanting to go visit (man! that's a lot of verbs!!!) OSV for a while. I was curious about that outdoor museum that recreated life in the XIX century. Thanks to my husband I called them and found out Mass teachers enter free. Yeah, I guess there are good things to being a teacher.

We went into houses and stores, shops and mills. We talked to a cooper (a guy who made round containers like buckets and kegs), a blacksmith, a tin man, a cobbler (a guy who makes shoes) and a potter. They showed us how they did their work.

We also talked to these ladies in a farm and they told us how they made cheese. It was fun finding out that cheese could be kept at room temperature, and the reason we can't do that today is because of all the fermentation and different fungi they add to the cheese, probably to make different types of cheese. Back then cheese was just cheese. And it tasted differently depending on how long it stayed there and where the cow had been feeding.

Cheese and butter making were actually ways to preserve milk, so they could not really go bad if left out of the fridge - the whole point of it was to not allow milk to go bad. And there were no fridges back then.

Shoes back then did not have left or right, they had only one shape. I tried one on!

In the mills I could see how they used water as a source of energy. I had always learned about that in school books, but nothing beats seeing it for real.

I also found out why people back then did not have a lot of clothes. Till not long ago then everything was manual. The wool or other raw-materials had to be manually open and worked (carding), then turned into lines then into cloth. I tried carding. A lot of work.

That's why our house only has only little closet that does not even fit all of Dean's clothes.

We visited the house of a poor family - THEY HAD A TWO STORY HOUSE! And you call them poor?! -, then the house of a middle class family and a rich family. The rich family house felt a lot like a castle. The middle class family house I could definitely relate to: they turned an old bed into a sofa, because sofas were a novelty and very expensive - sounds like something I would do. Middle class has always been a mommy-I-wanna-be-rich people. It's like a curse we will never escape for as long as we are middle class.

Also, because one of the houses was real, we could learn about the family that lived there but looking at the left overs of work such as sawing found under their floor.

The potter guy said his technique has been the same for hundreds of years. A lot of life then was about doing things that had been done for many generations. Wisdom passed by the older people.

I guess no one really could imagine that life as everyone had always known was about to change so radically in just over 100 years.

Of course in all began with the renaissance in the sixteenth century and the industrial revolution in the second half of the eighteenth century. Heck it all began with the invention of writing and paper thousands of years ago. But could anyone imagine how fast-paced things would ever get?

The twentieth century arrived with a whirlwind of technological advances that brought centuries worth of changes in just 100 years. Hard life and traditional ways of doing things changed into easy-to-make, paint-by-numbers, instant-food, virtual-reality, no-pain world.

Someone that died at the end of the XIX century would not recognize the world if he came back for a visit at the end of the XX century.

And we wonder why no one values older people anymore? Our world, with all the perks it's brought us, has been sending us the message that old is bad, and that older people just can't keep up. The toys children played with in that time were the same their parents and grandparents played with. Can we say the same of our times? In 100 years - we have different world. In 50 years - we have different world. In 20 years -we have a different world. In 10 years - we have a different world. Of course our children will think we're right out from the middle ages! And how much wisdom is lost in that kind of thinking. No, not everything is good unless we stop and think what our values really are. Nothing will be worse than to live in a world where the older people have no value. Yes, the way we interact with them will change, because it's true that with the fast changes people will fall behind. But the wisdom that comes with time and life experiences, this will never be traded by progress.

If Jesus doesn't return anytime soon, where will we go next? Are there any limits to what man can dream and invent and popularize? And are there any limits to how fast that can be done?

Hopefully not faster than we can realize the collateral effects of it in time to fix them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Child of famous people

Sad thing. A death so sudden for a life so young.

Bad thing. Cars running in the dead of night, lights out, through a tunnel banned. Suspected race. Suspected hit and run

Fatal error. The skater victim was also violating the prohibition of access for pedestrians and skaters.

Perplexity. Before the reality of death, does it make a difference whether the victim was walking on banned site? The dead would not have been victimized had he not disregarded the rules. The killer killed because he disregarded the rules.

To each according to the crime? The victim received improper punishment - life itself. Riding on banned site is not a sin of death. The criminal infringed a traffic law. Accident caused by a violation is intentional crime. Intent to kill is configured at the time the traffic rule is broken.

Yes, the survivor, once simply called irresponsible driver, now a criminal, will have to pay for the crime.

Would the same crime, however, have had that much attention had not the victim been the child famous people?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I find it ironic that the country whose flag I fought for the right to wear in my own country - out of sheer sympathy - now prevents me from flying my own country's flag at my own house - out of much more than sympathy, for what one feels for one's own country goes beyond sympathy.

I'm not and I have never claimed to want to be American, but I was willing to have their flag spread out on my chest, simply to say "I'm on your side on this battle." But I will always be Brazilian, and if my flag can't be flown at my own house house, no other flag will. I will honor no place that does not allow me to honor my own.

And how will I ever face my family again? When any one of them questions how come a Brazilian flies an American flag at her house while her Brazilian flag is no where to be seen - what am I to say? This is not a house I happen to be living in - it is my own house. I could definitely say I fly it out of respect. But at the expense of my own?

How can I justify flying any other flag at the expense of my own? Has my country turned its back on me? Have I fled here for fear of persecution or extreme hardship? Am I ashamed of who I am or where I am from? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding No! I have all reasons to be proud of who I am and where I am from. Far from being perfect, Brazil never gave me a reason to deny it.

Out of respect for the country I live in I will fly their flag, but not at the expense of my own. Out of respect for my country, other flag will not stand at my own house if I am not given the right to fly my own.

Maybe this should be a lesson learned - never fight battles that are not your own. The ones you fight for give you no guarantee they will fight yours when you need them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We travel together

The story of us, if someday be told, must be told as the story of our travels.
My husband and I have in common, among very few other things, the love for traveling to new places. One thing that I have that he does not is the love for planning, and perfecting the plan until it's fool-proofed.
I think the first trip we took together was to NYC. I do not remember why. We had been dating for less than a month.

Howe Caverns happened while we were still dating. He had promised to take me there many times before. We finally did it. The way back was probably more fun than the whole trip because some bus driver pushed us out of the toll booth, and we spent a few minutes driving him crazy by not letting him pass us at 45 miles an hour.

The next long trip we took was to Gordon College, Nick's Famous Roastbeef and Boston. After that trip I realized I needed to do planning. I saw Boston, but I had not a clue of where anything I had seen was. I was letting Dean show me around and Dean, unlike me, has a very intuitive way of going about his trip. He finds things as he goes and does not bother going into extended explanations of how we got here and where we go from here.

That was not satisfactory to me. Where he felt freedom I felt lost. I had not a single idea of where I was and how to get home. I could never survive having so little control over my itinerary.
Things were about to change.

To Epcot for Independence day fireworks

Ok, to Epcot! Directions set. We're good to go. I was surprised at how easy it was driving there (except for my mistakenly sending my husband in the wrong direction - as usual I never lay out the map's compass points according to the real life compass points).

I was also surprised at how easy it was parking and getting to the park gate. Everything was so organized!

Finally I saw it - the Epcot ball. I had not the slightest idea of what to expect from the ride in there, but I knew what I was looking at. The silver colored AT&T ball was staring at me right in the face and saying "you really are here! just as you planned for months - you're here! that's it! It can't get any better!" Well, it could. And it did.

I was so impatient. I had to take my picture before we even went in.

Dean had already been there. Not in the summer time. He was surprised at how empty the place was. He hardly waited in line compared to what he had experienced before.

Now, Brazilians! Lots of them! They walked in packs! Wearing the same travel agency shirts, with a travel guide going ahead of them with a travel agency flag! Every where we looked there they were! Being loud and speaking my good old Portuguese. Teenagers in its majority. It's a big to do for teens in Brazil to visit Disney in their winter vacation. We began calling those colored-shirt groups "THE BRAZILIAN INVASION!"

My biggest fear while planning the trip was to not know what to do once I got there. For weeks prior I had haunted my husband with a park map and the question - "let's choose our rides?" Once I started that fear almost disappeared. We looked at the park map, picked the rides we wanted to go on the spot and drafted a very primitive route for that first day. Since we were really there for the fireworks, we were more worried about walking around and hitting rides as we went.

And even at that relaxed pace we hit almost every ride we chose.

Epcot has to sections - Future World and World Show case. We hit future world first. Dean wanted me to see some rides he already knew, and I was not sure to what extent I should be doing every little thing that was available to be done. So we did waste some precious time with useless rides and games.
We did World Showcase second because it was toward the end of the park. Even though we were not worried about hitting every ride, we did went into the Canada and the Mexican rides. And we ate sauerkraut in Germany.
Again, we were only there for the 4th of July fireworks. Unfortunately the time for the fire works was not posted anywhere. More time wasted just sitting there waiting for it. Had we known it would have been another 90 minutes till the event, we'd have done much more.

Finally they started. We saw them from Norway. The first part really was not 4th of July. It was their regular thing. Beautiful I must say, but I was feeling kind of disappointed because the website did say 4th of July fireworks. After the regular presentation though, they announced the 4th of July celebration and fireworks started to the sound of patriotic songs.

I'm not an American, but my husband is. And I wanted to make his 4th of July as patriotic as possible. It did work. We could go back home now. We would be back again in 3 days.

4th of July travel

We left home on Sunday, very early in the morning. We had to wake up at 3 to leave home by 4 so we could be at the airport by 7.
Surprise, surprise! We did not leave home at 4, but at 4:16.
So we could not make it on the time frame we had established for ourselves. What else is new?
Oh and how I really want to murder my husband when I tell him I want to be in bed by sunset so we actually get hours of sleep before we have to get up at ungodly hours to catch a plane. He does not take me seriously! He does nothing to help my request come true.
I would have felt so much better getting up at 3 am had I gone to bed by 9 pm the night before instead of at 11:30.
But we did make it, as tired as I could ever be, we made it to the airport, we made it to the airplane, we made it to the car rental place, we made it to the motel.
On the way to the airport Dean showed me the forecast. What? Thunderstorms? In Florida? For the whole week? That does not sound fair. I want a refund!
Nothing to worry, says Dean. It's common to have forecasts like these. It's probably a 30% chance of rainstorms. In less than 48 hours I would be yelling at him to shut up because everytime he opened his mouth to say it could not get worse... IT DID!

It the beginning of a glorious 4th of July. We were in Orlando, Florida!
A couple of days before I went online to check out independence day fireworks. I had gotten this awesome 5 tickets for the price of 3 for Disney Parks, which meant that we had to find to extra days to use those tickets. I did not think it would happen, but the deal wouldn't hurt anyone. After all we really just wanted 3 days at Disney, and 2 at Universal. By the end of my vacation I was glad I did get the deal. Things would not have been as fun.
Having 5 for the price of three meant we could go hang out at Disney on the very same day we arrived, and still have one extra ticket just for ha-has. That meant we did not have to go looking for fireworks in Orlando, we could go straight to the park.
And that's how come I ended up in the Disney website, a couple of days before our trip, trying to find out if they would have independence day special fireworks.
Epcot came up on my search, so it was settled. We were going to Epcot on Independence Sunday.

On the way to Orlando I could only talk about our trip to... England??? Yes, call me crazy, I was already planning our next vacation, and super excited about it, but the current vacation hadn't even started yet. Half way through the trip I figured I'd better put England on hold and start getting into Orlando. After all I could not ruin the trip to the land of dreams, just because I was excited about my freakish never-ending planning mania.

We got to an Orlando of cloudy cloudy skies. But oh so hot and oh so humid.

We got there with directions, prices and fees, toll roads and non-toll roads all planned out thanks to my freakish never-ending, always aiming for perfection planning mania. Unfortunately that does not prevent mishaps from happening. And we did yell at each in the car. Nope. not a novelty either, but an event that I intend to rid ourselves from. If only I had planned it a little bit more.

The motel, just as we saw on the internet, had a waffle house for a neighbor. We walked over there for lunch. Waffle House is Dean's favorite ever restaurant, so the picture of the motel right next to it heavily influenced my decision.
Oh, and I then discovered that even though it was past lunch time I could order breakfast food!!!! That is awesome.

packed full

I intended to blog about each of my days in Orlando. Unfortunately that did not work. The reason was very simple, I was a human leftover by the end of the day.
Each day we would wake up at 7:30 expecting to leave the house at 8:30, which did not always happen.
Each day we would walk and stand in line, and walk and stand in line for the whole day, except for the time we were eating and actually on some ride. We did not give up on the fun until the day was done, that is, at around 10 or 11 pm. That means that by the time we got back to the motel I really had not more energy for anythign other than a hot shower and bed.
I was hoping my husband would give me a foot massage, because my feet were so sore. But he on the other hand was hoping I would give him a back massage. No one's expectations were fulfilled because the other person was just about done with the day.
But each minute was worth it all. The sore feet, the few hours of sleep, the unfulfilled expectations... even the rain that soaked us on Monday as we desperately tried to get one more ride out of the day.
And the lack of live blogging does not mean our vacation will go untold.
I brought home every map and pictures of the places we've been too. Listening to my husband describing the vacation to his parents has also given me more insight of what to write.
Oh, yes, days like these must be registered, each and every one of them, their emotions, their surprises, their disappointments...
They're coming soon to a blog near you.

This also must pass...

As it happens to all things, this vacation also must pass. That was the sentence in my mind all the way home.
Being in Disney was a dream. A dream I had never dreamed of as a child, but a dream nonetheless. Was I in the same place I had seen on TV so many times? Was I really in the place where only well-off Brazilian kids get to go when they turn 15?
Then Universal Studios and the world of Harry Potter as its main attraction. Really I was there, in Hogwarts, the place I had never really cared about, where the little wizard guy I never really cared much about learned his tricks, was now the place I did not want to leave ever again. It was like living a dream.
I did not want those days to end. And they were such long days that indeed they seemed as if they would never end.Thursday night however reminded me that my last day in the land of dreams was coming. One more day, and this too must pass.
I made it a point of enjoying every minute of my last day, so that the thought would not cross my mind until I was done.
And from 8:30 am till 12 am, I was livin' it! As we entered the tram to drive back to the parking lot of the last park - Disney's Magic Kingdom - I then realized it was over. Back to old lives, back to reality. The moment we returned the rental car and entered that airport; the moment we did the check-in; the moment we went through security and entered the boarding area. Each moment felt like the buzzing of the alarm clock, calling me back to the life I really lead. The life made up of responsibilities, housecleaning, homework, paychecks.

What keeps me going through this old real life? Well, there's that guy who goes with me in every dream - my husband, he does not go away in the end. There's that person who has been with me forever and graciously allows me dreams-come-true experiences, my God. And there's the fact that I am always planning my next dream-come-true experience.
Other than that I'd be a liar if said real life is bad. Real life really is not bad, it's just filled with grown-up responsibilities, dead-lines, and hard work that must be done whether or not I feel like it.
Dreams allow me to do exactly what I want, and they are all about the fun. Real life tells me either I do certain things that are not fun at specific times and with a specific intensity, or fun will never be possible again.
Real life is the back stage of dreams - it must be there, but it does not look as glamorous.

Each world cup has a mark

Each world cup enters history with a nickname, something it has been its most impressive characteristic, either good or bad, and that is usually reflected in the final game, that which decides the world champion.

In the U.S. 1994, for instance, the cup in which Brazil consecrated itself as the first ever 4-times champion, the world cup was known for its lack of effective soccer and of goals. So much that the gran-finale was decided in penalty kicks and the move that made Brazil champion was an anti-goal - Toto Schilacci, Italy's greatest hero, on the "Jesus vs. Buddha duel", kicked the ball out. Taffarel, the Brazilian goalie, had to do nothing but run for the hug of victory.

I was a child then. I had never seen my country, the country of soccer, win a world cup. For me, it was about time. It was celebrated just as my mom before me celebrated the bi-championship, and my grandma before her celebrated the first championship, and both of them celebrated the tri-championship. It was my turn! I was finally able to enter full Brazilian-hood by celebrating the tetra-world-championship.

But it was a sad victory nonetheless. On the day after I was faced with the sad reality spread out on news papers and TV: Brazil won indeed, legitimately, but we were really celebrating the victory of an ugly soccer. Not the beauty that had won the first 3 championships of my parents, not the beauty of the "lost generation of the 70's and 80's". We had won playing a new type of soccer, bred during the 90's, that was strictly made for winning games, without much concern for entertaining the fans or humiliating the adversary; without much concern for scoring as many goals as possible. The only thing wanted was to "get the darn job done."

France 1998, a new type of world cup - the sell-out. Brazil went all the way to the finals, to lose to the hosts... in a weird way. A very weird way indeed, that led to lawsuits and the likes. That world cup was the sole responsible for my falling out of love with soccer. A very bitter experience indeed, because up until that point soccer was directly linked to my brazilianhood. Being Brazilian meant being in love with soccer. I had to rediscover what it meant to say "I'm Brazilian." I was living in the U.S. then, which made things just a little bit more complicated. How do you try to figure out what it means to belong to a country living in another one?

Do I know what the two following world cups were famous for? Not a clue. I was too busy trying to figure out how to feel about the whole deal.

I do not know what Japan/South Korea 2002 was marked by. I was not a soccer lover then. But Brazil did take that one, giving my little brother the same status I once achieved - that of feeling fully Brazilian. I was happy for him. But I did not know how to feel about it myself.

In Germany 2006 I was in America again. And part of me wanted to follow it, and part of me wanted Brazil to win. But part of me also did not want to get hurt again. And it did. France. The same team that had defeated my homeland 8 years before. Undefeated had we gone for 8 years, leading millions to believe we could believe again, just to lose for the same team that had last defeated us. Nope, greater humiliation could not exist.

By then I was dating a guy who enjoyed soccer and that slowly led me into believing I could follow it again. Not with childish blind love anymore. I was a grown-up then. I could enjoy soccer and Brazilian-hood as a grown Brazilian woman - not too passionate, not indifferent either. Just with something irrational telling me Brazil will always be the best, and Argentina will always be the evil that must be stopped from ever winning another world cup.

Finally then, you ask, what has South Africa 2010 been marked by? something good or something bad?
Something bad. Something really bad. Africa 2010 has been stained by bad referee performance. Bad calls on game sequences, poor decisions on discipline management.
Has the final been stained by such? You bet it has. Players should have gotten red cards and be kicked out of the game, but were not. Players who faked injuries were rewarded not only on this game but in every other during the tournament.
The game was boring. Not because no one scored for 117 minutes, but because no one played soccer for 120 minutes!
The sequence that gave the Spaniards the goal to the championship was born from a bad call - the ref simply did not give the Dutch the corner kick they deserved. He gave ball possession to Spain who went ahead and scored.

Could the end result have been different had the ref given Holland their corner kick? We will now never know. There is no "what-if" in history. There is only "what-it-is". Good or Bad, it is what it is.