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Friday, March 30, 2012

Not to be Abandoned

I walked my neighborhood in Ipanema last week, walking the same streets that I walk for ‘Old Doors’,  looking for buildings and such that look abandoned.    Nothing striking pop out.  I think that in my area of Rio the property values are too high for the down and out buildings to be ignored for long.  In Rio, there are so many places that look abandoned but really only the maintenance of the gardens or the building’s exteriors have been forgotten.  And the area of Ipanema and Leblon the buildings often look like well dressed gentlemen gone to bad times, collars and cuffs frayed and dirtied but still hanging on to their pride.

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Across the street from our apartment there were an apartment building, two very elegant houses and, at the back, a building constructed when all of this became a school.  As often happens when the family patriarch died, the 16 heirs commenced  to argue about what should be done with the property.  Years passed as they fought, 10 that I know of, the property went without care or attention.  Moss slid down the sides of the houses, trees grew out of the roof, and from time to time the area was broken into and roof tiles and other valuable construction material disappeared into the night.  The buildings should have been listed as historical, but I doubt that that would have saved them.  Here they can be labeled of historical value but if the owner (s) chooses not the pay for maintenance there is nothing the government can do (or sill do?)

At the end of 2008 the building complex was cleared.  And now at the beginning of 2012 a new building has started to go up.  20 stories high, the upper apartment will have a view of the sea and of the Christ (at who knows what price).  This Residence Hotel [the owners can live there or put the apartment up for rent within the hotel] will be upscale to the max.   We checked out the model and ask questions….. our apartment is 100 m’ -  their mid-building, with no view, 2 bedroom 85m’ will sell for $R2.2 MILLION   - who are these people with this kind of money?  The heirs have done themselves proud.

Not abandoned for long. 

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Roof Tops in Ouro Preto


A seven hour drive from Rio de Janeiro, just short of Belo Horizonte, is the small colonial town of Ouro Preto.   As an UNESCO World Heritage site, Ouro Preto has kept its size and its architectural heritage intact. There are Churches on each hill as well as lining the main streets, attesting to the wealth  and domination of their history.  No one seems to know who was first to discover gold in the specific region but many claimed the rights, starting a gold rush and wars between mining interests. Legend has a slave discovering gold and digging a mine right in the heart of the city. The prominently Portuguese architecture; long windows lined with stone and granites, double bell towers, and red tile roofs please the eye and for me the roof tops of the city offer ample photo ops. 

Their history began in the late 1600 when gold was discovered in this area.  They quickly became the center of the gold trade, becoming the capital of the State of Minas Gerais in 1720.  By 1750 they were a city of well over 100,000, at the time being one of the largest cities in the Americas (Surpassing NYC). In 1789, the first uprising for independence from Portugal was in Ouro Preto and stems from anger that the majority of gold mined was being shipped to Portugal.  They had the first pharmacy school (1839) and the school of mines (1876) which is now a premier engineering University.    By the end of the 1800s the gold was running out, population began to fall and in 1897 the capital was moved to Belo Horizonte.  In 1950, the Dictator Getulio Vargas began restoration of some of the sites, and in 1980 the city was accepted as a Heritage site.

 This town is hard to get to, but well worth the trip.  If driving from Rio, allow at least 3 days. See the official web site link above for more detail, places to stay.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

That’s all Green Folks….

DSC_1719I don’t know why the title…  Just popped into my head,  “Thatsss alll Folks!”…. remember Porky Pig?  Doesn’t really apply here because of all the colors we might not have in Brasil –DSC_1738 green isn’t one of them so I can’t say “that’s all” until I post my dozens of photos.  NO Don’t leave, just kidding.  I will limit myself in photos and in words.  I spent about a minute looking in my ‘Friburgo garden’ folder, which holds nearly 2000 photos, and listed only 8 photos to show you.  Lets see how this works out.

In Brasil, we have green birds, green orchids, huge green leaves, little green leaves; and to list some of shades of green: silver green, deep forest green, spring green, fall green and all the greens in between.  During rainy season the world around me turns green, deep with shadows and shiny with moisture.  During the dry winter months the greens fade, turning almost brown but never quite giving up their green status. 

As you can imagine this forces me to look past the green and look for small dots of other color.  I have received many comments over the years about my ‘eye popping color’, which just shows how I look for bright orange, vibrant reds, many yellows, violet, pink …. any color to see something other than green in my camera’s lens.

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There is something truly extraordinary about a sole color nestled in a bed of green.  DSC_3586 (2)

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All these photos were taken at one time or the other throughout the year, in my garden, from the veranda, or on the street in front of the house.

I have one more, (only one more!), taken at the Botanical Gardens in Rio just this past week – just to prove my point that green is the color of Brasil.  Green on green, shadow and light -


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Near Disasters and other Blogging Issues

Blogging:  Blogger, Picasa, Google (corrected)

I have been blogging since early 2007, for over 5 years and 500 postings. I have been going along pretty much under the impression that I knew what I was doing. The years have passed with me thinking I knew how blogger worked; how to make my post on Window’s Live Writer; how to edit after posting – on and on the list of what I thought I knew goes.

A few years back I had an episode with ‘Flowers’ or more accurately the photos on the blog not showing up and I seemed to have resolved it, increasing my feelings of well being and eptitude. The problem that time was that Google wanted to be paid for storing my photos from the blog online. I had just started to maintain the MTFSO blog as well and had taken over picking the Friday Spotlighted photos. Rebecca sent me her web album with all the photos she had chosen over a few months (Sorry Rebecca I don’t remember how long you and Gordon kept up the MTFSO blog) and I added the photos to mine, increasing my web album size, exceeding the free storage and I had to pay for additional storage. While resolving this problem I found out that your photos are not on Blogger but stored with Google’s Picasa Web Albums. This took me some days of aggravation, some resistance to paying, and then I did what I needed to do and upgraded my online storage to 80gb, thinking the problem solved.

This box is intentional – being used as an example

missing-photo_thumb2See this big black square. This square represents a photo that is no longer ‘linked’ to my blog’s post – The photo has gone missing. Several months back I came across a few black squares, then more, until finally I noticed that all of the photos in 2009 were missing. My first thought was that I, for some reason, was out of memory again. But that wasn’t the problem, I was using only 13% of my paid online storage. Over the next couple of weeks I went crazy. I ‘talked’ to Live Writer’s tech support….. wasted breath, joined the Picasa Help Forums ending up with THOUSANDS of unrelated posts in my mailbox, I played with my web albums – MISTAKE because I didn’t really understand how they were stored and linked – I now had photos missing in part of 2010 as well as 2009, and 2008 – and then 2007. This last month I almost deleted “Flowers,” throwing in the towel, defeated; there were over 180 posts with photos missing. If the blog didn’t hold such meaning to me; my thoughts about living in Brasil, experiences when traveling all these years, I would have. I am still not sure of what happened but I will tell about what I do now know, and see if we can make sense of it.


Have I lost any of you bloggers yet? There is a good chance that everyone in the blog world except me understands how this all works but let me tell you what I’ve found out over the many hours worked on this problem and it might help you sometime in the future.

And you can tell me if I am missing more information or understanding

  • When you start your blog, (with Blogger and maybe with other services) and start loading photos onto the blog, a web album is created in Picasa / owned by Google. The name of your blog is the name of the folder and the account sign-in is the same as your blog username and password. You can find your web album here
  • If you delete a photo from your blog, it is deleted from the Picasa Web Album folder and if you delete a photo from the Picasa web album folder it is deleted from your blogIf you move the folder the link to the blog can be broken - even if you move it back later. [i.e. copied to my computer then synched back into the web album – I think this was one of the mistakes I made]
  • If you have Picasa on your computer, it acts as a photo organizer / editor only, with the capability of uploading your photos folders onto the web album. (to join your automatically generated Blogger folders.) Your photos on your computer can be viewed and edited in the Picasa housed on your computer but the photos remain in your ‘my picture’ folders. If you delete the photos through Picasa on your computer, you are actually deleting them from your computer.
  • Any photos you upload from you computer to Windows Live Mail to send by email, and to post on Facebook are also loaded into your Web Album online at Picasa. (I do believe your blog has to be linked to Facebook or another album is created.)
  • There is nowhere that you have to sign up or give permission for these photos to be saved in Picasa – folder not publicit is just how it works. These photos in all of these auto-generated folders are marked as ‘ public’ The Picasa forum responders will tell you that they can be marked as visible to only ‘anyone that has the link’ but from my experience this week the visibility level has to be public’ for them to show on your blog.  (this square appears if your folder is not Public)
  • Public mean that if you tag them or describe the location where taken, they will show in Google maps and other public forums. i.e. if someone searches / Google search ‘photo Roman Forum Rome’ your photo may show up as a search result or in Google Maps.
  • I do not know how my photo began to be ‘unlinked’ – What a mess – I suspect that I did it myself, or there were kinks (unlinks) as my computer crashed last year and was reloaded and crashed again then reconfigured 3 or 4 times with the Picasa housed on my computer and the web albums being ‘synched’ multiple times. Even if I’d ask for help first instead of assuming I knew what I was doing, I wouldn’t have received any help. You cannot talk to anyone person to person. You can only send your questions one at a time into cyber space and hope to catch the answer that comes back AND then send out the next question. You can only search the pre-existing questions and the answers that have been given. You can not say, ‘hey my computer crashed or I upgraded or I now have (“) operating system”
  • It seems that the only way to get them back onto the blog is to reload each and every one; one at a time – that is separately! They will then have a new URL link and be visible on the blog. This is not a user friendly process. I have finished reloading 2007 / 2008 and you can tell that the photos do not load in the original format, it is hard to maneuver them into any type of position, on many posts I just left them in a long line – just glad that they will show up for anyone looking back into my history.
  • ADDITIONAL INFO – as I have reloaded I have found that 
    1. you can not reload using blogger ‘new’ viewer if the ‘old’ viewer was being used when you originally wrote the post. 
    2. if you pull the photo from your computer versus the correct Picasa Web Album you risk loosing all your work when you re-open the post.  They just disappear again, leading me to think that Blogger will not ‘link’ the photos into a new folder. 
    3. I found that using Windows Live Writer works best – open window live writer on your computer – in upper left click the file folder.  click on recent posts.  click the folder with the blog name you are working with.  click the show items box and put in the number of post back in time you need to go.  wait for all the titles to load.  find the date of your post needing correction. click on it and wait for it to load….. then click on the photo needing to be re-loaded. go to load picture – from your computer – find the replacement – configure it in it correct location (when you have a ‘black box’ highlighted the replacement photo will show in that location.)  when you ‘publish’ it seems that a new link to an ‘auto-web-album’ is being created.  (this has not been confirmed)

Without understanding how this started to happen in the first place, I can only hope that someone can make a suggestion as to how to avoid it in the future. I will appreciate any comments, corrections or additions, any additional information coming in through the comments will be posted in another post later in the week.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Portas Antigas de Ipanema

Old doors of Ipanema

SAM_0450Last week I discovered two streets tucked in between the Lagoa and the beach that are almost exclusively older houses and apartment buildings built, by the looks of them, in the 30s, 40s and 50s.    [I did a small search on Ipanema hoping for historical dates of when this area began to be vacation hot spot and didn’t find anything to put a definite age to these homes – so I am guessing based on some information tucked back in a back corner of my brain.  Time to search for a book.]   I use this time frame because by the mid 60s the buildings were flat, square, with aluminum windows and 039the 80s on were coated with blocks of marble or granite, and now the apartment buildings have large panes of glass – windows of glass, doors of glass, balconies of glass – no personality or grace.  

These streets are filled with homes with wooden doors and shutters, balconies, thick stucco, stone work, inlayed tiles and real wrought iron.  I’ve been back three times.  I am going to get called into the police for casing the buildings with my 028camera.  Each time I’ve walked through the area, I found different details that make my heart pitter-patter with affection for an era gone by and a history not protected by the locals.  The apartment buildings SAM_0440 (2)are 3 or 4 story with one, maybe two apartments per story.  The private homes are becoming  dress shops, beauty salons, daycares, doctor and attorney offices. 

They have been update but the taste, the flavor of each building is being preserved.   Many of the homes are surrounded by high, thick walls but I was able to find a glimpse of the beauty lying within.035SAM_0448


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  More buildings, doors and windows seen along the way.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Pathways of the Lagoa

I am posting MTFSO pretty late in the day.  I’ve had a long day, no make that a long two days.   We came back up to Friburgo on Tuesday, a day later than planned but home at last.  Arrived up at the house after a long 3 hour bus trip, then grocery shopping;  after thawing broth from my stock in the freezer and cooking a lunch we were finally feeling that the day was complete.   We had just gotten settle in for a nap when Camillo received a phone call from a friend and colleague from the mid 60s – yes that is the sixties – and the friend would be having a dinner in celebration of his birthday, ‘and could we come’.  So Thursday afternoon, back to Rio we went.  Arrived at the apartment, took showers and dressed up in our party gear, took a taxi to Barra Shopping and had a great time.  Old stories, discussion of the changes in geophysics, good food and, of course, good wine.  Back to the apartment at 1 am, on the bus back up here by 10 am…. you’ve got the idea.  It was worth it to see Camillo enjoying so many old friends but my bum is dragging a bit. 
This past month we spent so much time in Rio and I walked the Lagoa and the seawall for my exercise.  A few walks were meandering around the neighborhoods between the Lagoa and the beach with my camera.  I caught a couple sunsets which I posted at the first of the week for your enjoyment, and generally added to my massive number of archived photos.  Other walks though were marching along at a good clip, working up a sweat and getting the feeling that I had the right to eat lunch later.  Walking the path around the Lagoa has always been a favorite of mine.  The full circle or should I say kidney shaped path around the lake is 7.1 km long but has lots of things to see and enjoy, and that makes the walk go by easily.  When I take my camera along I seldom take shots of the actual path…. it is just a path after all, but along the way there is public art (many that I have shown you before), trees and shrubs flowering, birds on green feet and others on tall wobbly legs.  For this post I tried to find shots that show you a bit of the path and of other things to help you pass the time.DSC00822DSC00844DSC01492

see it is just a path – but along the way….
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there is something different to see each day.