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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Florence - the center of enlightenment - in a time of darkness

Our last trip to Venice and Florence was made in the first week of June 2008, the streets of both cities were so crowded that it is positively impossible to really enjoy their beauty, but some photos for your enjoyment without the crowds.

A Weekend in Rio (part 1)

This last weekend we had so much fun in the City of Rio that I thought you might enjoy remembering it with us. When we were staying in the city more often, we tended to do just what we do here in the mountains on a weekend, go to the gym, eat, and watch TV. Now that we are trying to go into the city every other weekend or so, to see family and friends, and by making plans in advance we ended up with a very good time.

Friday we drove the car in - this in itself is a change, we usually take the bus. Camillo likes the bus and I like to drive. Our 'difference' in age showing I suspect. Friday night we had dinner with Paulo and Lenira at D'Amici's in Copacabana (Leme). It was raining, we had to take a taxi (dry law) because we all planned on enjoying wine with dinner and the restaurant is somewhat overpriced (pretentious) [we have a little mental formula for value vs. price that includes quality of food (good not excellent), price of wine (way out of line), service (below good) and general ambiance (very nice - a little crowed for the prices)]. Despite other factors, we had a great time because, 1) we went to have a great time and 2) we love this couple - they are well read and Paulo especially has many OPINIONS! so discussions are HOT! (guess what, I also have opinions!) Lenira and Camillo generally just sit back and watch the fireworks show. This week's debate - education in Brazil - I have a more ground roots outlook and Paulo has a more top down approach. I think teacher education and classroom resources should be improved, and he thinks that the suggested program to give teachers a laptop so they can communicate with other teachers in Brazil is a good idea. This debate was from polar opposites you would have enjoyed it. I still wonder how a laptop in the outer areas helps when often there is no electricity (being changed rapidly) often no telephones (more cell phones than land lines available) and definitely limited areas of Internet connection. See I am still arguing.

Protecting the birds

In my prior blog, I talked about the birds flying into our large upper window. Tracy posted a comment which I felt important enough to put into the main body of the blog for those of you who may not read comments. Please take the time to read the referenced article. Thank you Tracy! - GingerV
Anonymous said... Hi Ginger, Sorry to hear about the birds mistaking your windows for a thoroughfare. One thing that I've seen a lot here in California is to place reflectors on the windows. These reflectors are in the shape of birds. Here's a wonderful article by Partners In Flight on the topic:
Boa Sorte! Tracy

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Unintended Consequences: 
this phrase can be applied to many circumstances. For example, laws drawn by politicians with good intentions (or not) attempting to solve one social problem only to create havoc of untold proportion in another area or to another group.
We find ourselves innocent of the intention to do harm and still have unintended consequences.   Over 20 years ago Camillo designed and built our house near Nova Friburgo in a Swiss/Italian style.  He designed in a large window that was to bring in sunlight, sky and create some heat inside the house.  It lights the loft area during the day and brings us immeasurable pleasure when the moon rises above the house, and when the clouds turn pink or yellow with the sunset.

Now that we live up here year round we have found that while we enjoy the light and the view, small birds see our reflected view as part of their domain and when doing their evening insect hunts, crash into the window going supersonic speeds. Generally they fall to the veranda, sit in stunned silence for 30 - 45 minutes, shake their heads in confusion, then fly off with a huge headache (I am sure) to find their families. And occasionally, usually the hummingbirds, don't make it - we have to scoop them up with deep regret.
We've thought about it but can find no solutions to this problem (aside from removing the window and putting in wood which would be costly and possibly ruin the structural integrity of the house), we have to just live with the unintended consequences of the damage we do to our bird-friends from the local forest.