July 2008 Archives

Sao Paulo - Day 1 - Part 1

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We're just going to do this chronologically.

June 10, 2008: The sunset at O'Hare was beautiful, but it didn't hold off the lightning or the two hour delay.

The flight down to Brazil pretty much sucked and we landed two hours late. Fortunately, Wyatt was waiting for me and I didn't have to navigate Sao Paulo on my own. We then headed to Wyatt's host mom's condo.

June 11, 2008: The view of Sao Paulo from Wyatt's home for the past year.

I'm planning to steadily post some pictures from my vacation. Here's the first batch. I'll figure out a theme for the later parts to try and tell a story.

A typical Brazilian breakfast

A rodent that we saw from a boat cruise. I believe it's called a Coati.

Paraty, we hardly knew ye

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We left Rio on Saturday and took a bus four+ hours to Paraty. Paraty (para-chee) is a colonial era settlement tucked within mountains and off shore islands. The streets are cobblestone and the central area is closed to traffic. There are basically three types of establishments in Paraty, Pousadas (bed and breakfast like hotels), restaurants (a surprising number serve crepes), and artsy-fartsy shops.

Our hotel is an old stone building, but due to the tropical weather, it is not cold at all. There is an occasional lack of hot water, but otherwise it is quite nice, if not too quiet. (Our hostel in Rio was terribly loud.)

We really only had two full days in Paraty. On the first, we took a 5 hour schooner tour around to various remote beaches or diving spots. At a cost of 20 reals ($13.33) plus lunch, we decided to forego the other tours and do it again the second day. Both days were supremely relaxing and enjoyable.

I am a little sad now as my vacation is drawing to a close. Tomorrow we have to wake up early, get across town to the bus stop (can't get a taxi since there aren't any cars near our hotel), and take a six hour bus ride to Sao Paulo. I then have two hours in which to take the metro to the airport (approximate time required is 1.5 hours), and then I have two hours before my 12 hour flight that will get me into O'Hare around 5:30, in time to catch the blue line home, take a shower, change clothes, and show up to work... a day I am sure will be hectic.

Although I don't want to leave nor end my vacation, I am ready to resume normal life... so I think my vacation has been a success. Hopefully the traveling tomorrow won't be too stressful.


Rio - still amazing

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We`re still in Rio and will probably leave on Saturday. This city is great, at least all the tourist stuff is quite entertaining. Yesterday, we went to see Christ the Redeemer (a ginormous statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio). We were up for sunset, which literally takes two minutes. The view is spectacular, and you can see tremendous panoramic views from the observation decks.

Last night after Christo, we walked through one of the neighborhoods called Leblon. It's a little upscale and we couldn't find the right combination of price and tastiness to satisfy us, so we hopped back on the bus toward CopaCabana, where we are staying.

Right along the waterfront we found an all-you-can eat Pizza place. Around here, the All-you-can eat model is quite popular. Anyhow, the Pizza place was just like Fogo de Chao in Chicago, except instead of gauchos bringing around meat on a sword, waiters brought around pizza on a big pie-pan. The pizza is quite thin and they use two knives like chopsticks to cut the pizza and then serve it. We tried all kinds of pizza, and then they brought out the dessert pizzas. I had one with small balls of white chocolate and strawberries, and then one with milk chocolate and strawberries and whipped cream. I also had a slice and a half of a very sweet banana topped pizza.

Incidentally, the food here is quite diverse and tasty. Almost every meal includes brightly colored fruits and vegetables. I've been taking photos of pretty much everything we eat, and I'll make a photo album called the food of Brazil or something like that.

Today, Wyatt and I went on a tour of a Favella. A favella is a slum that is run by drug gangs. The living conditions range from poor to atrocious, but there are some redeeming things about them. Our tour was run by an organization working to improve the Favella, so they stressed a lot of the positives. The Lads (the four Irish chaps who are sharing a room with us at the hostel) went on a different, more worldly tour that purported to show a more realistic side of the Favella and included guns and weed. I'm sure reality is somewhere in the middle, but you'll have to wait for the accompanying photos to get a good explanation.

After the tour, Wyatt and I took it easy on the beach at Copa Cabana. Hit up an internet cafe, got a disappointing dinner, and did a little shopping. I`ve got to go as my computer time at the hostel is up, but I'll say more later.


Samba in Rio

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Wyatt and I caught a live Samba show tonight in Rio. It was awesome and I took some time to write out my thoughts. I'll type them into this thing when I get back. Now, I`ve got to figure out how to recharge my camera battery as it went caput tonight.

Brazil is cool

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Sup yo? I am in Brazil at an internet cafe right now. Wyatt is trying to figure out how we are getting from Sao Paulo to Rio... amd the apostrophe seems to be missing on this keyboard.

Anyhow, more on Brazil when we are not paying by the minute for internet access.

In the mean time, we I want to share this link as I was quoted in the Tribune (again) this past weekend. However, my quote sucked nd while I am sure I said that, I do not think it conveys exactly what I was saying. No real harm though, it just makes me sound like an unthinking moron.

"I would really think it'd be awesome to have an ownership say in the team—it would be fun," said Byron Clarke, another writer for Goat Riders of the Apocalypse. "Just to say I'm an owner of the Cubs . . . I wouldn't actually expect to make money off of it or anything."

Link: My team gets a new meaning.

Obama's Risky tax plan?

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Political Punch

A co-worker sent me this link and asked for my opinion. I gave it, and now I'm publishing it. (Incidentally, I found this really cool feature of Movable Type that lets me publish these kind of things easier.)

It's an interesting analysis. Essentially Obama is only raising the income tax on 5% of the country, and those 5% are heavily populated in states that already strongly favor the democrats.

I think the confusing part of this is that his policies would irritate voters in states that are already likely to vote for him anyhow, so they're less likely to vote for him now and the article doesn't really address this.

The way the article could address this is by looking at the density of poorer people who are more likely to be attracted to Obama's comparatively more socialist policies than McCain's. My guess is the 'poor person' density map would look fairly similar and thus partially explain why those blue states are blue in the first place.

G8 leaders feast on 13 courses after discussing world food shortages - Times Online G8 leaders feast on 13 courses after discussing world food shortages

Soccer Videos

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One of the better blogs I follow is Luis Arroyave's Red Card. This week he did a post with the 20 greatest soccer commercials of all time, so I was obliged to watch them all... and I couldn't have had more fun doing so. Here's some of the really good ones.

My favorite



Family Reunion sneak peak

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I was supposed to get this to my Grandma by last Sunday. I didn't, but I finished it last night and figured I would make it available to the World Wide Interweb. I also unearthed a couple of pictures while trying to find a good 'profile' pic for my write-up.