Archive for January, 2012

Monday, with Vengence

Damn, is this Monday again?

The above is a rhetorical question… I know damned well it’s Monday.

Monday has begun, Monday has screwed up already.

One hour and 17 minutes of bloody headache. Three coffees in succession were required to solve the headache.

It all started when I was replying to two comments left on my Eco-Crap. I did something, I know not what, but ended up in fullscreen mode and not a clue how to get out of it. I have never used fullscreen mode for my browser. So there I was, doomed to be stuck on that one blog forever. I tried esc, nothing, I looked at the keyboard, I cleaned the dust off the keys I never use and eventually gave up.


If all else fails, reboot.

Ah, out of fullscreen mode, but the bottom task bar was frozen. Now I was doomed to be in FireFox forever, but I could use it.

I Googled.

Everybody googles when they’re in a fix. I couldn’t find the answer to my problem, not in forums, nowhere.

Frustration set in.


Rushed off to the kitchen for third coffee, out of coffee have to make more.

This time the reboot fixed everything… ah, not quite. I had to open a new browser setting not wanting the old problem to resurface, I didn’t restore. FaceBook wanted me to login in… couldn’t remember password.

Frustration deepened.

Yes, I know it’s Monday alright and now my coffee is cold.

It was NOT destined to be an iced coffee.

Something happened yesterday that I thought blogworthy, but because I have made Sunday a day for a travel post, I didn’t. Now I have forgotten what is was.

See, despite my advancing age my mind is like lightning…

One flash and it is gone!

I have to defrost the fridge again. I only did it last week, but if the cat wants mincemeat to day, I have to defrost again because the bloody pack has stuck to the freezer. Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

Lixo is happy, sleeping on my our his bed. He’s been out and had a romp in the park and came home for breakfast like a good kitteh. He got the snots with me at 6am when he overturned the box with all my CDs and I growled, now I have the additional task of sorting them out again.

Belgian Beer

Last week I saw an exotic beer at the supermarket.

From Belgium, Stella Artois.

I put the bottle in the freezer yesterday for a quick fix after lunch.

Opinion: Not impressed!

Tasteful, but watery.

Wouldn’t buy it again.

Still, you don’t know, if you don’t try.

btw, that was what I thought blogworthy yesterday. Short term memory loss.

These things always come back to haunt me, usually after I have hit the ‘publish’ key. You were lucky people today.

One lesson today at 5:30pm, so I will spend the rest of the day cruising (I don’t surf, much too undignified) through the blogosphere.


Sunday Travel Tales

Looking over Corumbá and the Pantanal River


Close to the border with Bolivia in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Not exactly a tourist town, but I like it. I have passed through many times and lived there for short periods. Although while I was living there I spent a lot of time in the Pantanal and not so much in the city.

For most travelers Corumbá is either the arrival, if coming from Bolivia, or the departure if going there.

Tren de la muerte to Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Bolivia is just 8 kms (5 miles) away. Across the frontier you have Arroyo Concepción and immigration, then Puerto Quijarro and the Tren de la muerte (the Death Train) that will take you to Santa Cruz de la Sierra a supposed 19 hours away (I have been on that train the longest for 30 hours). Few people stay in Puerto Quijarro, last time I was there it only had a few modest hospedajes (cheap rooms), an albergue (hostal) and one decent hotel, the Colonial, which wouldn’t really qualify for a star rating, but is the classiest hotel around. Most travelers stay in Corumbá and only cross the frontier on the day of travel; arrival is the same, head straight to Brazil after the train.

A camp kitchen, to think now that I used to cook in this...

Corumbá is probably the best place to take a tour into the Pantanal. Agencies offering backpacker camps abound and offer trips to campsites in the Necholândia region. The camps are basic, but tolerable for the two or three days you are there and the guides all spoke adequate English, many spoke Hebrew as well.

But the camps and guides gave you a good chance to see the wide variety of flora and fauna of the region. The Pantanal has more species of birds than anywhere else on the planet.

As you can see the surrounding are less than salubrious, but we never had a case of food poisoning. This is called roughing it, and we never advertised otherwise.

From the river looking to the city

The water front of Corumbá was a nice place to sit and have a beer in the shade of the several kiosks there.

Boats lined up along the port

There were also many boats of varying size to take river cruises. I went on one once, but the chance of getting a good look at the wildlife was far more limited than the land-based camps.

Forte Coimbra

The city itself has little to offer the tourist, although there are some fine hotels and all manner of smaller cheaper ones as well a hostals. Apart from the Panatal, the only major tourist attraction is the Forte Coimbra, built at the end of the 17th century, which played a decisive part in major battles during the Paraguay War.

The other main attraction is for the sports fisherman.

Corumbá has changed a lot since I was last there. Bow there is a bridge over the Rio Paraguay; in my time we had to cross the river, buses and all, on a barge. Times change, don’t we all?

So there you have it, a little about a place that I once called home.


Representative photo only

Lixo means rubbish in Portuguese. It also happens to be the name of a kitten that adopted me on Thursday. He was dumped from a sack along with another Siameseish type in the praça on Tuesday night, just like rubbish. Raimundo saw the guy do it. So I named him Lixo.

I saw the kittens on the veranda of the botequim when I left for work Tuesday. Wednesday, I had a play with Lixo in the bar; and when I arrived home from the supermarket Thursday, he followed me in the gate and made himself at home. Luckily, I had bought some mincemeat (ground beef for our American cousins), so he was well fed. He’s about 3 +/- months old, light ginger tabby.

Things he has learned so far:

  • The bed is mine, but I have to share it with my staff at night.
  • Poo outside
  • Don’t jump on the PC Table
  • Don’t stick paw in PC cooler it makes a funny noise and the staff get upset
  • Sit in the middle of the kitchen floor when the staff are cooking
  • Food comes from the kitchen
  • Run to kitchen when the fridge door opens
  • Rub around the staff’s legs when hungry
  • If that doesn’t work, purr loudly
  • Come when the staff call, or he closes the gate and I have to jump the wall
  • Summon staff for night duty by batting on nose with paw

He’s got the principles down okay, so we should get on fine. Photo coming… still got to buy batteries for the camera; the above is representative, Lixo is a little lighter in colour.

So I have been cat-training, which is one reason I didn’t post yesterday. The other is more plausible. You know when you get an idea and nothing happens until fruition. Maybe not, maybe that’s a man thing. Well, I have been thinking of adding a page to my Eco-Crap blog for some time and I have been procrastinating. Well, yesterday I was sent a link that said ‘do it’ so I ‘did it’. Eco-Crap now has an Apothecary Page, if you want to know more, go and check it out. There was a third reason as well, yesterday I wrote about beer handles (half pint ones) compared with the traditional British pint glass, which I consider has all the class of a backyard sump. I wanted an image; more than an hour I searched Google (such is my dedication) in vain. I could not find the image I wanted, closish ones, so I ended up having to use one of those. Frustrating.

Weather. Rain. Lots of it. The change came Thursday after the weather forecast promised for Friday; they never get anything right. Cool temps, 25°C, and wet. This of course has hampered the removal of the debris from the three buildings that collapsed in the city centre on Wednesday night. Toll so far, 16 recovered and 5 still missing.

Civic Theatre in Cinelândia

The three buildings occupied the space behind and to the left of the Teatro Municipal (Civic Theatre). One was 20 storeys high, that was the problem one, as it fell it took two other buildings with it. It appears as though the biggest tenant was doing some renovating and took out a load bearing wall on the 9th floor. Causing a bit of a stink here because there was no engineers report to approve the work, it was being done illegally.

I am working on girth reduction. Slowly. So far no more buttons have been sent flying across the room. They’d better not, I am running out of jeans that fit. I will know on Monday when I get dressed for work whether there is any degree of success.

Ronaldinho Gaúcho about to bite the dust

Flamengo played Real Potosí from Bolivia last Wednesday, lost 2-1. Not a good start to the South American Cup. It was a little unfair because Potosí is 4,100 metres asl (that’s like 12,000ft), and Flamengo only had two hours to acclimatise. Having visited and passed through Potosí many times, I know that two hours doesn’t do it. Real Potosí ran rings around them.

It’s nearly football time which means it’s beer o’clock.



Shit has Happened all Week

Monday extended itself to include Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday remains at this time an unknown quantity.

My blogging suffered as a result which is reflected in my empty mailbox.

I just don’t know where the week has gone. I have done basically nothing, there is know rhyme nor reason for it, it just went.

Do you ever have days/weeks like this?

I wonder if it is senility setting in.

On Monday, all went well, until I started an argument with myself after work, to BBQ, or not to BBQ, to BBQ, or not to BBQ… I lost.

I BBQed… it was delicious.

Then I got home and went to undo the top button on my jeans and the damned thing pinged off and ricocheted against the wall. Now, I am not stupid, I realise this is a sign, a very graphic sign that I need to reduce my ample girth. Let’s face it, having your button ping off and hit the wall six feet away is not an everyday occurence, which in turn led me to believe that it is not normal.

Tuesday, my students all wanted to change their hours, so instead of blogging I was juggling students, hours and classrooms. But that wasn’t all, the key to my classroom had gone missing, I had no books. Oh, I knew where the key was (I’m old, not stupid), it was there because someone wasn’t doing their job, and I wasn’t going to hobble on my walking stick all the way to the security at the maingate of the factory in 37 degrees to get it and cover someone’s arse. My dinner at home was a mere shadow of the previous night… 4x sesame seed crackers and 4x whole wheat crackers with cream cheese, no butter; no dessert, no chocolate milkshake.

Wednesday, work as normal. I got the damned key, it was still at the security. But at least my students got real lessons. I had one bottle of beer, instead of my customary two, I had a frugal (half normal portion) chicken stir-fry for dinner, still no dessert and no chocolate milkshake.

It’s now 11:30 Thursday and the day is an open book. So far, I have managed to have three coffees and got my underpants on, so I feel good all under. The temp is already well above 35 degrees and if I don’t go out and water my plants they will shrivel and die, like they almost did on Monday.


Sunday Travel Tales


Small, very small town between Cusco and Manu National Park. I stayed there for a few days once and loved it.

Cusco - Manu National Park area

The Cloud Forest

I left Cusco in a local bus and we headed off toward Pisac at the head of the Scared Valley, then it was off the tar seal and into the hills. We passed through Paucartambo, stopping briefly, then back into the hills we wound up to Tres Cruces where it began to get very cold as we decended from the pass we were still above clouds and then into the Cloud Forest. The road was narrow and windy, fortunately not much traffic, as whenever we met another vehicle one of us had to back up until we found a space wide enough to pass. The road hugged the cliff face and waterfalls fell overhead. The whole experience was quite wonderful.

“If you want to face death on the side of a forested cliff in the middle of the night (and possible  [sic] live to tell the tale), then catch the night bus from Pilcopata to Cusco.” Quote from another blog about the road conditions.


The Amazon Lodge - 5 Stars when compared to the others

Eventually we found ourselves on the flat and rumbled on to Pilcopata. The trip takes nine hours.

Pilcopata boasted  four hospedajes (hostels), I chose one for my stay euphemistically called The Amazon Lodge, since we were along way from the Amazon proper, but within the bounds of Amazonia. The Vilcanota River that we crossed at Pisac and flows past Machu Picchu is the furtherest reach of waters that flow eventually into the Amazon River. The head waters of the Vilcanota are behind Cusco in La Raya Pass where the Puno-Cusco train runs.

Looking right -the market

I quickly learned just how small Pilcopata was. Standing in front of the hospedaje, I look left and saw the Police station, looking right was the local market; I had just completed a ‘city tour’.

Kids playing on the bridge over the tributary

There were some back streets with very humble dwellings and two roads out. One went across a tributary to the Alto Madre de Dios that flowed on to Manu, the other crossed the Alto Madre de Dios and off to Atalaya and Shintuya another 50kms and the end of the road where you could get boats to the lodges at Boca Manu in the National Park.

The old and the new bridges over the Alto Madre de Dios River

Behind the market were both the old and new bridges over the Alto Madre de Dios.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide which bridge is which.

The days I spent there were very peaceful. Not a lot happens in Pilcopata.

I did a day trek of nine hours to visit one of the local Indian tribes. The Quero were very warm and I was made welcome. They were the last three dozen left of the tribe. Many of the younger members had gone to school in Cusco and never returned, preferring the city life.

Believe it, or not, that truck was still driven. Don't ask me how.

A few days later I did another trek, 15 hours to another tribe, the Huacari, in the other direction. Not as fruitful as the first trek, but far more dangerous. On the return trip it began to rain; and it rained like it can only do in the rainforest. Nothing to do but keep walking. The rivers flooded, there were nine to cross, and one presented a real danger; the current was far too strong to attempt. I had to fight my way through primary forest until I found a fallen tree that spanned the river and crawl across on that.

A couple of days to recuperate, and I went back to Cusco. I had to go back to work.

Mission Accomplished

Yes, that’s what I’m doing today…

Being another four days between posts, it would appear that I don’t do shit any day.

Last post Monday; and today’s Friday, what happened to the rest of the week?

I have been busy, been posting daily on most blogs, just not here. Change the World Wednesday started again this week and I wrote a  pretty good post on Eco-Crap for the first one of the year. Basically, that everyone’s not doing shit.

Statue in Praça do Russel, Gloria, RJ

Today is Dia de São Sebastião (St Sebastian’s Day). For us in Rio de Janeiro it’s a public holiday, because he is the State’s saint. That’s another reason not to do shit, it’s a public holiday.

Last St Sebastian’s Day I admitted that I didn’t really know who St Sebastian was.


Well, there ya go… He was a Christian saint and a martyr. Apparently he died twice, that’s worthy of sainthood if nothing else is.

The first time, as most depictions show, he was tied to a post and shot with arrows. I guess he got the point. But he was rescued by Irene of Rome and healed. Not having learned his lesson the fist time, once he was healed he harangued the emperor as he passed the house and this time he was beaten to death. It seems that Irene of Rome had a previous engagement and was not there for a second resurrection, but she was martyred herself some time later.

Aren’t Google and Wikipedia just wonderful? Bugger these SOPA and PIPA thingies, they’d take all the fun out of the net. I hope you all signed the petitions.

So I refrain from making the same gaffe today as I did last year.

Red Spotted Newt

A Newt is a slimy amphibian with toxins, pretty much the same as a politician of the same name.

The Red-Spotted Newt is actually quite a handsome beast, which cannot be said of the Flabby-Jowled Newt that is found drooling around caucuses and primaries; that Newt will neither be sainted nor martyred… pilloried maybe.

Doesn’t he get his nuts in a twist when he doesn’t get his own way; very puerile. Maybe he should talk to his tailor about his dressing, then his nuts mightn’t be so twisted.

Moving right along as this is not a political blog, I will not wax politic. But I thought that worth mentioning as I had tweeted about it yesterday because I thought it a rather funny comparison, albeit true.

I had a leisurely breakfast of bacon, eggs and stewed tomatoes on toast this morning at 2pm.

Yes, that confirms holidays are wonderful, breakfast at two in the afternoon.

*Looking at digital clock*

I see that it is beer o’clock again. One mustn’t be tardy.

So, I will off and pay my dues.



The current catchphrase

Hmmm, new word. Any ideas?

Apparently it comes from N.I.M.B.Y. Meaning “Not in my backyard.”

Being used in such headlines as

NIMBYism: a global obstacle to a renewable energy future.

Another fad.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

I missed my Sunday Travel Tales yesterday, not enough caffeine… Does that sound plausible?

It would be if it were true, but I have five packets in the cupboard, so I’d be lying.

Today I had a lesson, that is until 10 minutes ago when I discovered my student hasn’t returned from his trip, so I get to stay in my underpants and drink coffee until beer o’clock.

Remember a few posts ago I referred to “the crack of dawn”? I found this…

Well, I was going to show you, but WordPress image insert is playing funny buggers with me, so I can’t.

Which really blows the reason for this post.





Water in my Whisky

Ice is bad enough, but water...

I can’t believe that I have, once again, let four days go without a post. Totally irresponsible of me.

Many years ago, when Adam was a cowboy and Moses played full back for the Arabs, I learned an important lesson in life.

The only thing you can add to whisky, is more whisky.

But I must admit that was when I lived in a colder clime; and was taught to me by a Scot.

Now I live in the tropics. Rio de Janeiro and we are in full summer rains here, and I tend to put ice in my whisky for climatic reasons. Charlie would never forgive me. Believe me it is necessary.

I have just watched a football game; Flamengo vs Corinthians – 2-2. Not a great start for the year, but neither is it totally ominous. To celebrate the third anticipated Flamengo goal, which never was, I poured the last of my Christmas whisky. The game finished a draw and the rain started.

I came home in the midst of a torrential downpour. It is still down-pouring, my backyard is already flooded and the accompanying thunder appears closer than ever. It was rushing at a fast hobble from the botequim to my gate that I got water in my whisky. Unforgiveabble.

Now, my lethargy. I have been absent since the 11th. I have been here, I have been blogging. There is no real excuse for not blogging here. It’s just that there hasn’t been a lot to blog about; I know this hasn’t prevented me in the past, but this time it has.

Erick came to stay on Friday, instead of the usual Saturday. So he went home on Saturday leaving me totally perplexed, thinking it was Sunday. Threw my right out of kilter.


There was a clap of thunder over the house, I mean right over the house, it made the tiles rattle.

Sadly, I had written quite a bit more, but on posting the connection was lost, backspace produced a blank screen and I had to reboot, so you get what’s left, because I am not going to try to rewrite what has been lost to the elements.

Stupid freakin' little robots

Yes, it’s official.

Big Brother Brazil 12 began last night as we have been warned ad nauseum every five minutes for the past week.

While last night I managed to avoid the programme and I hope to repeat the experience tonight, we are bombarded at every ad break being brainwashed to ‘love’ the new programme. Damn, it’s enough to make you puke.

The rain has stopped, well, a little over night, but not the same deluges that have had. Unfortunately another five bodies were recovered today in Sapauaia. A whole family rushing to escape the landslide after they heard the initial rumbling managed to get into their VW Beetle, but didn’t manage to escape. Father, Mother and three kids were buried alive. Tragedies like this are becoming commonplace here as the authorities continue to acknowledge that climate changes are worsening.

Oranges are cheap in Brazil; less than 60 cents US per kilo (2.204lbs). Oranges in the US are expensive and getting more so, today they hit an all time high. The US has banned Brazilian imports contaminated with carbendazim, a fungicide, that is banned in the USA. Brazilians authorities aren’t quite so conscious about these things.

Bus fares went up 25 centavos on the first business day of the year, and I am waiting the news now, they are announcing a further increase. Well, that was a relief, the news is over, it wasn’t a fare increase in Rio but two other states.

Carnaval is winding up. Due to start on the 21st Feb. Just in case you haven’t decided where to spend February; I’ll leave you with this 30 second thought.

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

The Soul of King

This is a Copyrighted image, I don’t have permission to use it, yet.

©Zhuangyue Xiao The link to his site is here, the story behind the image in broken English is beautiful.

It represents the dreams and hopes in us all…

and then we grow up.


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