Thursday, December 22, 2011

The New World of Books

This blog isn't going to get very popular until it is a source for more frequent postings. That will be possible in the near future, but now it is part of this learning experience that all bloggers go through, some faster than others.

When I was a freshman in high school, there was an introductory class required of all new freshmen. I think it was about learning how to cope with high school. In my immature mind it was a waste of time so for this attitude I was taken out of the class and put into a new experimental class teaching speed reading. I loved this class as it was a challenge and results were shown almost daily. The readings while we learned new techniques were usually from the Reader's Digest and we were timed and then tested for comprehension. I remember my speeds got up into the thousands of words per minute with over 90% comprehension. This probably began my love of reading. It may have been coupled by the English teacher requiring the memorization of a poem. I memorized The Raven by Poe and can still quote parts of it.

After marriage, my wife noted a stack of books that eventually would live on the end table next to the bed. Usually 3 to 8 books would be there, all of which I was reading. She commented more than once over this habit as often I would wake her up with some new observation or fact from one of the books. One year I decided to discover how many books I actually read for that year and it was 72. When you read enough, it is possible to read some material much more quickly than more complicated stuff. Also, you begin to make judgements about the authors and their writing approaches. It also instills the desire to try writing on your own. 

In 2007 I was waiting in a Doctor's office, (Isn't that what you are there for, the wait? Don't they call it the "waiting room?") when I noticed an article about the Amazon Kindle in Time magazine. I read it twice before I was invited in. By that evening I had ordered the Kindle for $399! I've never looked back. We had custom made bookshelves made by a son-in-law that were filled with books, most of which I had read. I used to discard fiction books unless I thought they had a purpose later on. I had read many of the Louis L'Amour books in paperback and collected them so that I wouldn't buy that one again, but one day my wife decided they were taking up too much space on the shelves so she contributed them to a library. Oh well, they are light reading and always entertaining if you are as familiar with the Southwest as I am.

The Kindle was huge in my life. I could hear about a book and within a few minutes it was there to begin reading. I told many people about it but most were put off by the price even though the books were less expensive. Many would get excited but then say something like; "I love to hold the books in my hands." or "I like the feel and smell of a new book." Now the book world has changed, especially for those who like to read a lot. We now have two Kindles and I have the Kindle app on my MacBook Pro. It is wonderful. Unfortunately the first Kindle has died and so another is in my future soon. My wife took over the second one.

Now, another part of this story. Lots of us think we would like to write a book. I think many try and start one, I know I have. My Mom wants me to write one. When you would read about the difficulty and percentage of actually getting published it was daunting. Now you can write, get a little non-publisher help online and post a book on Amazon then get paid for selling the books. It can be done quickly and done to the highest standards. You can also have paper copies of it made for purchase on demand on Amazon and other ebook sites. So, being retired and seeing all of this develop over the past few years, that is the incentive to go forward with a book. Even the software to help you do this is available and affordable. With the cost of an ereader like the Kindle well under $100 now more and more people will have one. By the way, now with a Kindle you have something better to do in the "waiting room."

I have now begun this new trail into the world of becoming an author. One brother has already become one and done well. I now declare that in only my spare time over the last month I have written 12,000 words of my target novel of about 100,000 words and it has been fun. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday and Better News

Once again good feelings in the Church at Esperança. Shirlyn signs up for lunch with the missionaries whenever she knows we’re going to be in town. This Saturday sounds like meatloaf.

Along with so many others we are dismayed by the violence accompanying “Black Friday.” It seems that the name is appropriate for what it has become but perhaps not so much for the original meaning of “in the black” from the retailers accountants. One person recommended next year to wear a bullet-proof vest and carry a Taser. Oh well, we won’t be there anyway. 

We did have lunch here in Ipatinga, Brasil at the mall (know here as "Shopping") and for the short time we were there saw no evidence of such madness. The only excitement was perhaps the long line to get into the new Breaking Dawn #1 movie. No pepper spray line cuts were observed.

For many families, today is the 1st Advent Sunday. We read the post in Deseret News by Eric D. Huntsman - The First Sunday of Advent: Hope and then reviewed the meaning and approach to using this as a planned way to help a family appreciate and understand the significance of this season. I think each Friday he will follow up with his family’s way of celebrating in this way. I loved the recommendation to use songs associated with the theme of each Sunday’s focus. This week was O Come, O Come Emmanuel and I found this song very well done by Enya.

The Deseret News has taken the place of Fox News for my daily news read. It has much more up-beat news and less of the continual focus on the bad news.

  • Do you use the Advent approach in your family for this season?
  • If you went, what do you think about the movie?
(Click on "comments" below to add yours. We would love to hear what you think.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is special and certainly a day to acknowledge that feeling of thankfulness as a result. There are too many points to list but here are a few that are very real parts of life right now:

  1. Our Anniversary - Today marks 46 years of friendship, love, challenges, family and memories. On that day, 46 years ago we were legally and eternally joined. It was the day before Thanksgiving on which day we celebrated by eating hamburgers!
  2. The birth of our incredible, loving, considerate Amy, the wife of Wade and mother to five of our formidable grandchildren.
  3. To have our three parents still expressing love and concern and giving their guidance and example on a regular basis.
  4. To see the great blessing of seven children, the parents of 29 grandchildren and watch them living meaningful, contributing, serving lives themselves.
  5. To have this great opportunity to serve here in this land of Brasil with extraordinary, loving, caring people that we love and who express their love us.
  6. To have seen many of the joys and afflictions of life that have been part of the tapestry that we take with us every day and which have made us stronger today.
  7. To have been born and raised in a land that allowed the freedom of choice, education and the pursuit of happiness.
  8. The friendship and influence of many truly great people around us in both the good times and the afflictions that have come our way.
  9. To have had the ability to have sufficient for our needs through work and service.

P.S. I am also thankful for these wonderful digital tools and while postings to this blog have been sporadic, over the next few weeks and months they will be more regular as we aim towards the next phase of our life back in the USA.

Monday, November 14, 2011


   As we do more research, we are finding more considerations regarding how and where we will live in the period after returning to the USA in late February. There are so many family members and friends to visit that initially we don’t want to be anchored to a “stick house.” It is a comment that we have visited and experienced more of Brasil than we have ever visited in the US. This is another issue that can be solved with mobility. Since we are already well versed in motorhome traveling and usage, this holds few concerns or fears for us as a couple. Since our intent is to not drive more than a few hours between interesting places and we want to stay in a place of interest for days or weeks at a time, mileage and gas use will be much less per month than our previous life. We generally had two (or more) cars and we were putting on 15 to 20+ thousand miles per year on each vehicle.

  Here is a summary of our adjusted Options A and B.

OPTION A - Motorhome, Class C and Later a Towable Small Vehicle (TSV)

  • The motorhome needs to be solid and “four season” which means well insulated to be comfortable in both cold and warm weather. 
  • The choice after reading posts by people who use them has come down to the Lazy Daze 27 foot, Mid Bath unit. We like the floor plan and the powerful Ford V-10 engine. 
  • It will need solar panels - eventually enough to power the unit with computers, air conditioner and microwave running for many days. It should also have a generator for those sun challenged days. 
  • It should initially have fewer than 50,000 miles on it. I think we will drive fewer than 12,000 miles a year. 
  • The TSV should have four-wheel drive and be somewhat comfortable to drive. Perhaps a pickup like the Ford Ranger or the Ford Escape. 
   We made this Option A as we like the feature of being able to walk around while in route to get a snack, take a nap, make lunch or use the restroom without leaving the vehicle. With the eventual TSV we will have mobility during the times the Motorhome is situated in a comfortable place. With four-wheel drive, we can explore interesting places with ease and safety.

OPTION B - Travel Trailer with a Comfortable Tow Vehicle (CTV)
  • The travel trailer needs to be solid and “four season” which indicates that it will be comfortable in both cold and warm weather. 
  • The choice as of this date remains the Northwood Arctic Fox 25S model. We have basically eliminated the fifth wheel models as we would prefer a CTV that is not a pick up truck but more like the Ford Expedition. Climbing into a truck is a little more difficult than we want. 
  • The CTV should have less than 50,000 miles on it. We feel comfortable with this mileage on a well maintained CTV as we have driven such units to more than 150,000 miles with good results. We believe we will put less than 12,000 miles per year on the vehicles. 
  • The CTV should also have four-wheel drive. 
   With Option B we would have a little more room in the kitchen and bathroom, but it would be less accessible while driving.

   Since we have a few more months yet we know that things can change very quickly. We may find other considerations move our plans significantly. We may have opportunities open that we do not expect. We don’t expect to “grow up” much in the next few months however. AND getting in good visits with our loved ones is a top priority right after our return to the USA.

  What do you think about the options here for us? Can you see how either would benefit our growing family? Do you have another option to suggest?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day of the Dead

Today in Brasil the Day of the Dead or Finados is celebrated. It would perhaps be thought of as a day to remember our relatives that have passed on similar to our Memorial Day. It is very quiet this morning and probably many stores and services are closed. Schools are out for sure as we have not heard the vehicles that usually come around early picking up students. We were planning to visit another town today for our annual cards of permission to remain here but being a holiday it will have to wait.

Using a Journaling Program

As Shirlyn will attest, new software has an allure that often entices me to change the way I use the computer. When an application seems to offer a way to make a chore more efficient and more usable it may find itself on my MacBook Pro. Since I have made many journal entries over the past couple of years using Pages, the program that came with the computer, some of my gripes about the process  of journalling seem to be alleviated with this new application called MacJournal that automatically sets the date (and time if you want it) for each new entry. I know, I’m a little bit lazy but this is a great time saver. You can put a title on each entry if it is appropriate. It also lets you start as many journals as you need for other projects that you might want to track in this format. You can find it here: and you might see some other applications they make, one of which is MacGourmet Deluxe, a recipe organizer that we may explore one day. Another neat feature of the journaling program is the ability to add tags to the entries which enables a quick search for any topic that was mentioned or “tagged” in other posts to the journal. Uploading to a blog is another feature that I intend to use with my blogs as I can control the draft more effectively before deciding to send it off into the blogosphere. The cost of the program was about $40. 
The problems that come with most great programs such as this one include the complications that present themselves when discovering the various options that may be used. The initial recommendation with this program is to just use the basics to get comfortable and as competence is gained, you can add different options and tools to make it better. Otherwise, it can become a burden more than a help. I have already seen this in practice and so will continue to grow in its use little by little.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Next Phase

As we consider the next year or two of our life we agree that mobility needs to be part of it. Probably late in February, next year transportation and housing will be at the top of the list. Our family is spread out now and the number one priority will be to visit with each family and get acquainted with the new members and re-acquainted with everyone else. Besides this, we want to see more of the country, especially areas that are connected to our family or historical background. It appears that the solution to this may be a properly configured, four season travel trailer pulled by an adequate tow vehicle. Life usually unfolds with accompanying challenges or surprises so now we are only on the initial stage of planning and preparation.

A Possible Comfortable Traveling Home

After reading about one successful setup on the internet, we zeroed in on a Northwood Arctic Fox Trailer. They are made for the four seasons and the floorplan below seems to meet our requirements very well. Here is the floorplan of the 25S model which would require a vehicle capable of 8,000 pounds:

The option with the swivel chairs would be our choice. Because units such as this are often little used, usually just a few times a year, it may be possible to find one a few years old for a reasonable outlay. Solar panels can be added to keep the house batteries charged for most of the year.

A Possible Tow Vehicle

Our kids will probably have some memories of the used 15 passenger Chevy Van that we bought in Show Low one day. It was very solid and served well except for the headliner which did not do well with our kids. Appropriately configured either a Ford or Chevrolet will tow up to 10,000 pounds and come with either a gas or diesel engine. We think the diesel would be the most economical, but the cost of fuel is less of a concern when we consider staying perhaps several weeks in some places before visiting another area. Of course beyond one row of seats behind the front, the extra two rows would not be necessary. With the large space we could carry extra items to make our "Wayfaring" an adventure as well. It may be difficult to find a used one, say five or six years old with low mileage but life is full of challenges.

Other Considerations for a Wayfaring Couple

Since early marriage, we have enjoyed a cab-over camper on a Ford truck, a class C motorhome and for a short time a Class A motorhome. With the proper amenities, this can be a wonderful time of our life. Perhaps in a later post we will cover some of the reasons we want to do this. We will also discuss how this can work well for us as we seek a "Home Base" for the future. But for now, we have not seen a better plan for the short run.

What are your thoughts about this plan? Do you think we are a little crazy?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The View from Ouro Branco

Little did I know after posting about the computer age in August that Steve Jobs would pass on a few weeks later. As a family, our lives have been wonderfully enhanced from the inventions that came from his drive and vision. Beside the Apple II mentioned in that post and the two computers we now use here in Brasil, our son Rob gave me one of the early iPods and we were able to use it while traveling with our families in the White Mountains. We were in two cars but able to communicate somehow with two iPods. Now family members have iPhones, iPods, iPads and their accompanying apps and programs that have greatly enhanced our communication and enjoyment of life. If you receive our monthly Brasil Report, that newsletter is created and sent using my MacBook Pro and it done quickly and easily each month.

I mentioned earlier about the task program using the Pomodoro system and have begun using it, trying to get better at it as it really has helped. I did not like the need to use paper to keep the record of tasks so I found a little app called "My Little Pomodoro" through Google. It allows me to use the computer to add tasks which are then triggered by a click and a new "Pomodoro" starts with 25 minutes ticking away. Very fast and easy and gets me into a task with a short time pressure that virtually takes away the normal interruptions to check email, look at the news, or search the web that seems always present to leave "Just Do It" and enter "Procrastination" mode. The challenge is to create the tasks and then use the system to keep you focused. I think it was only $3.99 to download the app.

Clouds at Ouro Branco
As I write this we are looking out our window in the hotel here in Ouro Branco. This is another small city along the Royal Road (Estrada Real) in our area of service. The clouds are pouring over the mountain like waves.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fortaleza, Brasil - Tranquil Beaches - Progressive City

Can You Believe It?
Guess whose feet these are. Thanks Kim for this photo idea from our visit with you and Danny on the beach near Ilheus, Brasil last year. Spending some days in this impressive city on the edge of the Atlantic engendered the feeling that it would be a great place in which to live. Speaking with a man I stopped while walking on the beach, he responded with great enthusiasm and friendliness like a Brasilian usually does. He is an attorney and some years ago left the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro to come here for its weather and people. His son runs their office while he usually walks or jogs on the beach for a time every day. Had we had more time, he invited us to visit his beach house later in the week and we would have been honored.

From the Breakwater
Being a city of over 2.5 million people, it is a busy town, but road improvements are in evidence and all the city amenities are available, such as shopping malls, hospitals, universities and business areas. The weather here was unexpected. The average high for twelve months ranges from 86 to 89 and the low averages from 70 to 77. While there is that seaside humidity felt, here at the beginning of the summer season it was very comfortable.

Not Sure What this Represents - Welcome to the Beach?
The Spaniard, Vicente Pizón, landed here on February 2, 1500 but to no avail as the Treaty of Tortesillas did not sanction the event and it became part of the new country of Brasil. Because of its natural harbor, the city has grown over the years as an industrial area and has added greatly to the county's economy.

We enjoyed the great food, the wonderful friends we found and the feeling of welcome. Perhaps one of the great places in South America to consider as home.

Fortaleza at Sunrise
As we travel here, there are opportunities to photograph such scenes as these because one of us usually has one of our smaller cameras at hand. We happened to be staying in one of these buildings along this stretch of beach and were in awe of this beauty. Billy felt the "spirit" of this place some fifteen years ago, but most of these buildings are new since we visited here with Billy and Amy.

Question for You: When you see something grand and are able to get the picture, how do you share it? Do you have a scenic photo to share this week? Make a comment here and include the link so others can see it and make that experience shareable.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Most Useful Tool Ever

The Leatherman Wave is gone! Of all the tools I have owned, this one has been the most useful. Not for a project but just a tool that is there when you need it and does so many small things. A couple of months ago after a stay at a hotel, it came up missing. The only person who had access to it was the parking attendant at that hotel and the Leatherman was in the glove box before. It was secure there in its little case waiting for the next job to help with. So many little tools in its stainless steel shell. Screwdrivers, both regular and Phillips, needle nose pliers, knives, wire cutter, scissors, etc. I gave one to my Dad and each of my sons and sons-in-law for Christmas many years ago. My Dad continues to mention it. It will be one of the first things to acquire when we get back to the states.

Max with His Leatherman

Google+ is now available to everyone in its Beta mode. While I was able to become a new user, we are still exploring its uses a little at a time. Family members have been invited and some have posted photos but we will be using it more as we discover how it may be most advantageous. We have never liked Facebook other than watching some posts from family and grabbing photos not otherwise offered to us. If you have experience with this new internet facility I would like to discuss how you are using it. This whole area of personal internet usage is still in its infancy.

Posting on this Wayfaring blog will become more and more useful and important next year when we enter a new and different phase of our life seeing the beautiful USA and not ready to settle down yet. As topics present themselves I will post them if they seem relevant to others. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time & Organizing

Time and Value are the determinants of billing for professional accounting, tax and auditing work and so tools that help allocate time wisely are often used in the profession. The first exposure to these tools for me came in the 70’s in a seminar given by a great presenter demonstrating his system of planning, prioritizing and recording important items in a schedule. It changed my view of the use of time and was very helpful. Later, other systems came to the fore and I examined them. The tool in vogue at the beginning was the DayTimer, a convenient sized notebook with pre-printed pages. Then others expanded the ideas creating the Franklin Planner then the Franklin-Covey system, each one seeming to add complications such as choices of sizes and times covered such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. They were well publicized and become popular and relatively more expensive. Over those years, after trying many of the “improvements” I found the systems eventually were put aside, probably for the most part because of the extra “time” necessary to follow the systems. 
Probably My Last Franklin-Covey Organizer (Classic Size)

When there are things that need to be done that involve mental engagement such as accounting, writing and blogging, etc. It is good to have a plan and approach to avoid the discouragement of procrastination. I have run across a simple approach that is working well for me now. It still requires some daily organization time but gives you a way to create and track packets of time which the creator calls pomodoros. Since the use of this system does not require you to go to a seminar, buy a planner or even pay for the information, it is easy to get started using it. If it might be useful to you, go to the website and learn more about it. You can google the name, Pomodoro or just go here: and see for yourself. By the way, pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato which is the shape of the timer the author, Francesco Cirillo, used when he created this approach to help him study in college. 
For your curiosity this blog post took one pomodoro to create and post. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a tomato shaped timer here in Brazil so I’m using an inexpensive digital one. You can see here my second day using the new system. I created this form on the computer and will print them as needed.

September 9, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Computer Generation

Back in Arizona State University days as part of my Accounting major I took computer programing and we learned about two languages in use then, Fortran and Cobol. Doing our lab work, we had to create certain programs and I remember those large stacks of "punch cards" that had to be kept in the correct order. We would then go to the card reader and input our program to test it. It was tedious but rather exciting when the program worked as anticipated.

Then later in my own small CPA business, I came across a "programmable printing calculator" that was rather large but you could run repetitive programs that you created to get the result of common accounting problems. Very cool. That machine did not last long as it was stolen in a robbery. When it was finally recovered by the police I got it back, but the need for it had moved on. I think about that time came the HP 12 calculator which I still have and will continue using back home. I have two of them, but that is another story.

The next stage was that real computer, the Apple II which would run spreadsheets and word processing. We were using IBM Selectric typewriters in the office for financial reports at the time but once again we were robbed! They took the typewriters but I'm sure they did not know what to do with the computer and so left it in my office. The typewriters were never recovered but even so, the typists did not want them back as they were using the Apple II and found the convenience of correcting in the machine as well as other benefits. So, we entered the computing age with new PC's.

Client computing had become the standard but the small PC's weren't ready for that yet so we purchased a large computer as big as a refrigerator which used huge disks. I think one of us had to take one home every night as a backup! It was cumbersome but worked for some time as the PC capacity began to soar.

After years of growth and the use of the PC's expanded, we passed through stages of problems and expansion but it was certainly the way to do auditing and accounting. About that time, the portables came into use. I remember one of the first ones being as large as a suitcase and about as heavy. I checked in at a flight one day but at arrival, it came out of the chute with it's attached keyboard hanging loose and had some damage. The baggage handlers certainly had no idea what it was nor how fragile it was. Surprisingly it still worked. Later at the Phoenix airport I could not get it to work at the security check and so Shirlyn had to come to the airport and take it home! That was well before 9/11!

Now after retiring from that type of office work, my wife and I at the suggestion of one of our daughters-in-law went with Apple MacBook Pro machines and what a blessing that was. So user friendly and secure and the learning curve has been relatively easy. We love the programs that came with it and while at first I thought we would need to use a few old MicroSoft standbys, that was a mistake and now we are all Apple. Thank you Steve Jobs.

Now Steve Jobs is retiring as CEO of Apple, Inc. and I think he will be remembered as one of those inventors on the level of Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers having changed the world. 

Now I am an intermediate level blogger and continue to discover new things that make life pleasant and somewhat productive. Things in this area do not seem to slow down, but keeping up is less of a challenge than in the past. This blog is evidence of that. In future Blog posts I will discuss some of the tools we have discovered and now use that may be of interest to you as a reader.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fruits, Vegetables and Photography in Brasil

Edible plants grow better in Brazil. There is such a wide range of good edible fruits and vegetables that it is a joy to visit the outdoor markets. It is a joy because you know that soon you will be enjoying some remarkable treats. Things like Mousse de Maracajá which is so addictive I think it can’t be part of a diet. (To make it, you use one can of condensed milk.) The Maracajá fruit itself we’ve never seen in the US. Of course the familiar fruits and vegetables are here, but the pineapple is sweeter, the peaches are huge, the tomatoes are usually ripe but still look green, a cabbage barely fits in a plastic sack, and the tangerines are called Mexericas and are bigger than navel oranges! What about peppers here! There are too many kinds of bananas to mention, all with good flavor. I will mention though that the potatoes here cannot compare to those great Idaho Spuds.

A Small Saturday Street Market

Bananas - Bananas - Bananas

Also in Red and Green!

PHOTOGRAPHY - The cameras we selected to use here were predicated on the fact that there is almost always something to record and remember. While the small Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 has a protruding lens, even when closed, it disappears well in my ScotteVest camera pocket. We are not tourists here. Carrying a regular DSLR camera around just doesn’t work. Having the smaller cameras with us much of the time makes it possible to take photos when they appear and most of the time no one even notices. 

I must say that having three very important books loaded on my Kindle reading app has made a great difference in the use of this camera as well as any other digital camera such as my Nikon D40. The most important book is one I recommend for all camera owners. Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition by Bryan Peterson. Having the book available on my MacBook Pro laptop allows quick reference with great color images whenever a skill needs tweaking. The book will put you in the practice initially of using the “M” mode on your digital camera, one which most point and shoot photographers would never voluntarily use. After a few weeks of carrying the camera and using this mode, I began to really understand what makes a great “creatively exposed” photo. Aperture and Shutter Speed are the two easiest parts of the exposure lessons but then along comes ISO which became my friend after a few weeks of having to think about all three parts of this Photographic Triangle.

Today’s smaller cameras often have one setting that most people use at all times. It is the “iA” setting which means “intelligent Auto” and is the setting with which the photographer does not need to think. The camera makes all the decisions for you. Because the “i” in the symbol is a lower case i, perhaps it should be thought of as “not so intelligent.” If you learn to know and use the many other settings in these cameras, your ability to take much better, creatively exposed photos will increase and your satisfaction with your camera will rise exponentially.

The other two important books I will reference later in another Blog post. Both of them are more specific to the camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, and the photo management system with the Apple Aperture 3.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The People of Brasil

 Fifty years ago most Americans had little knowledge about Brazil. When I was called to go there, my family had to get out our Atlas to find it. It was an unknown, but probably dangerous and scary place and certainly not one of the world’s best places to visit. Now, we know much more but that knowledge is focused thinly on Rio - isn’t there a movie about that - and what about Carnival - isn’t that just like Mardi Gras - and the Amazon - still a dangerous place - and most know that it is down there in South America. Some people have visited there but out of a hundred people you might meet, you probably would not find one. Now, isn’t the Olympics going to be down there in Brazil? 

People live here in Brasil (that is not a spelling error - it is the correct spelling here). The people don’t speak Spanish, they speak Portuguese. They are real people and if you get away from the tourist areas, you will find them living with hopes, dreams, challenges, progress, families, schools, cities, hospitals, governments, farms, stores, houses, cars, motorcycles, trains, buses, airlines and they are friendly, warm and caring people. If you could speak their language, you would soon have lots of friends here. (Click on the Photo for Stunning Detail)

Grandfather Inspiring Grandson in the Garden

In my occasional walks I observe and sometimes meet real people. Here is a grandfather and his grandson. As I passed by he was teaching his grandson how to harvest the lettuce while leaving most of the soil there. This is the front yard. It is functional, beautiful, and a place of peace for this family. In the picture you can’t see the ornate fence that secures this home because the photo was taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 camera which easily fit between the iron rods. Perhaps you might consider the tall drab grey wall as being ugly but not to them. It represents security and privacy. You might notice the tomato plants beginning to produce but you would not recognize the plants at the foot of the wall as being edible. They are and are used extensively here in many recipes. 

Above the carport roof you see what looks like an unfinished part of the house. It is not. It is a large open air area used for family gatherings. Usually it has cooking facilities there in addition to the kitchen down in the house. It is cool in the summer and usable year round. You see the driveway which is always clean and washed down. You see roses and some towels hanging out to dry. This is a happy place in a troubled world.

I asked the grandfather if I could take this picture. At first he did not understand why anyone would want to do that but then he gave me permission. As I showed them the resulting picture on the camera, they smiled and were pleased with the result. He is a happy man and loves this grandson.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ipatinga, Brasil - The City that Steel Built

Ipatinga, like most of the smaller cities we have visited in this state sits in an area of many small mountains or hills. The main streets tend to be on the bottoms between the hills and the residential areas branch off, even going up into the hills themselves. (Enjoy these photos from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 by clicking on them.)

Only by knowing where the sun rises or sets can you figure North, South, East or West here.
Streets are put in and houses spring up along them with little apparent planning or consideration for the grades. This puts some of the houses on locations with great views. I suppose that property costs are not so much based on the views because some of the housing is not that well conceived. 

A view lot for sale but the grade is almost straight down!
Many houses look like long-term works in process and may never be completed, while other neighbors homes look expensive. Zoning seems to be non-existent here. Since the city began back in 1962 the most planned areas are around the steel mill which occupies a huge area including railroad facilities and a hospital. The rest of the town seems to have just grown around that beginning. Probably no one expected the number of vehicles that are now here as parking is a problem almost everywhere you go in commercial areas of the city. In the center where most of the popular shops are you literally have to be lucky to find a spot and have to buy a parking slip from one of the “meter maids” to avoid a fine. There are a few parking lots but they cost two or three times as much and are not always convenient to where you want to be. 

Officer, how can I get my car out of this space?
Of course walking is always part of the solution. The bus systems here seem to be well used with standing room only during rush hours. We haven’t had occasion to use the buses yet. There are lots of Policia Militar vehicles on the roads but they do not enforce traffic laws here. Speed limits and stop signs are posted but no one obeys them and in fact if you try to, you get honked at. 

At night, this is a peaceful place except during Soccer games.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Iguaçu Falls, Surely One of the Wonders of this World and now Google+.

These Cataracts Just Go ON and ON!

What purpose will this Blog eventually serve? Right now, it gives a place for reporting some experiences, photos and allowing others to follow and share. As we use this Blog we will add more value as we learn the value and benefit.

Iguaçu Falls sits at a conjunction of Brasil, Paraguay and Argentina. It is on the list of most visitors to Brasil as a must visit and deserves to be there. It is a park land of visual experience that cannot be appreciated without being there but some photos may help in that enticement. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Shirlyn and Bree on a catwalk.

Those are People Down There!

Shirlyn was watching for the Anacondas!

With trains, buses, pathways, elevator and catwalks, this experience is to be fully appreciated in every aspect of this marvelous location. You should plan at least 3 to 5 days when you go.

Tim invited us to join the new Google+ site and it looks promising. We have not felt FaceBook was really useful for us except for seeing photos our family members post, but we tire of reading about "new friends" and links to people we don't know. This appears to give us more control of who we communicate with and has some features that may help families plan to share experiences. Over the next few months we will begin to learn about its features. Let us know how you see it and how you think it can be useful. If you are not a "member" yet and want to try it, send me an email and I will invite you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life with MacBooks, Cameras, Kindle and Friends

Since we took leave of our past working life, one blessing that we appreciate well is the fact that we retired our past PC's and began using Apple MacBook Pro computers. This, combined with the ever increasing ability to use the internet has given us a layer of purpose and enjoyment on a daily basis. Google and it's increasing utility and blogging have both added variety and knowledge. Such applications as Google Maps and Google Translate have made our time here in Brasil more efficient and pleasant. Neither of us like Facebook much, except for the pictures but we are looking forward to Google+ as it seems much more of what we might use to communicate with our family and friends.

Shirlyn has the pleasant experience of having her nails done by our friend Adriana usually twice a month. She has two little girls that just love Shirlyn and always want to be around her. She usually has some colored pencils and drawing booklets to give them which they both love to use while they visit.

Another thing that has made life more colorful is the use of cameras. I have a Nikon D40 which has stopped working for some reason and can't find help with it here. Shirlyn is on her second Panasonic camera here as the first one was stolen. She likes the fact that she can use it as a point and shoot camera without becoming expert on all the settings available. It is almost always with her whenever we go out and it fits in a pocket or purse. I now have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 which is not as pocket friendly but has more available adjustments and takes great 24mm landscape type photos. At the same time a friend brought me this camera when he and his wife visited us here in Brasil, he brought me a Scottevest which has over 20 pockets that effectively allow stealth carrying of the camera and almost any other necessaries such as a small tripod, battery, ID and even a Kindle.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From our Last Stay at Diamantina, Brasil

Diamantina from the Highway

Colonial Buildings of Diamantina

A Doorknob Gargoyle

From the Hotel in Diamantina

Add Color to Your Home from Diamantina

Buildings often more than 300 Years Old (The Fan is New)

Having this last opportunity to remember with photos this great colonial town created by diamonds, we are feeling sad to leave it. The actual diamond mines are not well remembered from the local conversations we had. We were told that mining ended and was now illegal in the area but the colonial attitudes and celebrations here are still very much alive. We were encouraged by some to come back on specific days to participate in the parades and remembrances.