Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

PC grief

The baby has been cleaned, wiped, fed, burped.... and I'm up and running... kinda. I still have to sort through the mass confusion that is my data to find vital files. In my panic, I baked up vital and irrelevant files all over the show. Then there's the job of finding out which files were duplicated and which are damaged.

On that subject, if you're ever curious about how much duplicated junk you have on your pc, DoubleKiller is a brilliant little (free) programme. You don't install it, but it searches your drive or folder and tells you what's duplicated. It's very accurate. I've used it many times. You check the duplicates and the programme deletes them for you.

I have found bunches of data, just not the most recent data... y'know... the important stuff. Yup... it goes like that.

While waiting for various tedious processes to be completed on my pc today, we took the dog, kicking and screaming to be washed. Ok, not quite screaming, but you'd swear he was off to the torture chamber. He got a decent brush too and feels sooo soft now and smells like a poof. Of course, our little bathroom had to be washed afterward. Man, that dog spread more hair than he has on him!

So yes, I'm back. I'm going to be spending most of Sunday preparing for the week. I now work most evenings too. Fun indeed! I have to figure out my schedule all over again - my calendar file has gone to the land of nod or someplace like that, along with most of my current student records. I'm going to try to pop around to blogs though. I may not be able to comment as much as I'd like though... but I'll try. In the meantime, it's Good to be Back!! =)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Y'see.... it's like this

Kippy started a whole trend here with her pc. I'll blame her. I mean, it can't be my fault, can it?

In short, my woes started when my data drive died. I managed to recover some data, but most of the data appears to be damaged. Less than 24 hours later, my C drive started getting blue screens every few minutes, often not even completing the boot up before going into another blue screen cycle. We're now formatting and reloading my Windows to hopefully resolve the problem.

*huge sigh*

I need to be up and running soon. I have Skype students coming up, one of whom is new and needs to be convinced that Skype is the best thing since sliced cheese. It won't be easy to convince her if my pc is down... kinda.

This whole deal is driving me quietly insane. My schedule has been turned upside down this week and I have none of my resources on hand or my calendar or my students' details. I've been trying to get everything in snatches. There's still a lot to be said for paper. My problem has been coming up with lessons.... it's all on my data drive!

Anyway, I just thought I'd leave a note here to tell you all why I'm missing. Hopefully I'll be back soon. Don't have too much fun without me ; ) Ok, that was lame!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

That'll teach me!

Kippy, is it too late to apologise profusely for making fun of your Apple????

My data drive died this morning. All my information on my new students is gone. I can't print lessons or timesheets. Damn!
Damn! Damn! (pardon the French) Jurgis plugged our external backup drive in and now the pc won't boot up at all. I'm on his dinky little pc just letting the world (at least the world I now have contact with) know.  I need to get life back in that pc SOON. Tuesday morning starts the Skype classes.

I learned something about myself today.... I do well in a crisis. I'm the one who says, "Ok, let's all calm down and think this through." But... hand me a piddly crisis like a cut on the finger or burnt toast and I freak. Yep... that makes me weird.

Ok, back to my ironing... and washing floors... and dusting... while Jurgis tries to work miracles on my pc

It's all numbers

I've been thinking of numbers a lot this week for one reason or another. On Thursday, I was rather melancholy and thoughtful....

"We're a quarter of the way through the year. I'm pretty much half-way through my life. In terms of my dreams and goals, the clock is ticking - very loudly. My life so far has been one of revving engines, tyres spinning in mud, occasionally moving a few inches ahead, even more occasionally moving ahead by a couple of feet - very often just sinking further into the mire.

My tendency to find humour in life has been a survival tactic. If I don't, the misery and, yes, bitterness may just swallow me up. Like many take a pill against what ails them, I take smiles, laughter and positive snippets daily, sometimes hourly. It's my 'silver bullet' against melancholy."
Thankfully, my inner ponderings were disturbed by the arrival of my student. I guess my point was that I felt I was running out of time to get to where I want to be. I've been accused of being Miss Glass-half-full before. I don't mind that, except that it doesn't always come naturally. It often takes a lot of work : )  Luckily, working on being happy isn't odious and it does actually make life a whole lot more tolerable.

So... numbers... for one, I don't mind getting older. I'll never be one of those people who celebrate their 29th birthday till they're 90. Age doesn't worry me. It never has. As a teen, I found it easy to get into age restricted movies... probably because I wasn't trying as hard as the other girls with high heels and makeup. I'd pitch up in jeans and trainers with no makeup and casually go in while they seethed in their dolled-up glory. Now, apparently, I don't look old enough to have a grown daughter *shrug* Hey... I earned this grey hair. It deserves recognition! *laugh*

Thanks so, so much for all the birthday wishes. It made me, once again, aware of how big my tapestry of friendship is. I had wishes from far and near... and even from some fairly unexpected sources. It did, however, make me miss my loved ones terribly. Thank goodness for technology! Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without a 2 hour power failure. Jurgis woke me with a mug of coffee and a bowl of hot oats. Nice! My morning student had cancelled, so the day was pretty much free. For supper, I made us some crumbed chicken with roasted veg. I wanted to make the magic chocolate pudding, but the power failure nixed that idea. Yes, I do cook with gas, but the recipe was on my computer. Not a big issue. There was ample delicious cyber-cake going around ;)

More on numbers, I got a belated birthday gift today. My student this morning announced that the metro is finally open from 4:30am to 11:30pm!!! Now why didn't they tell me that last week. It would have made my logic puzzle sooo much easier to work out! It's an easy 20 minute walk to the metro and from there, a quick hop right into town. I've been waiting for this for years!

I stitched up a pair of shorts for Jurgis today. I've decided to turn the waffle weave fabric I posted about into a hooded cape for winter. It's just warm enough, I think, and I do love capes. It won't be a particularly long one, but hopefully it will be enough to keep this garoa off. Yep, we've gone from torrents into garoa... a fine, drizzly rain that swirls in all directions; thus rendering umbrellas quite useless. Tomorrow, I'll be preparing for the week. I have 2 confirmed new students and one half-confirmed. Then I have to reorganise my schedule and transport. I can leave for work a whole hour later!!! Yes, that is how much the metro cuts off my travel time!

Night everyone! Thanks again for making my birthday special : )

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Wednesday's logic puzzles

I love the look on this guy's face - very apt for me today

Guess who forgot to reset the alarm last night... so I woke up at 4:30am instead of 6am. For the uninitiated, I wake up at a different time every day, depending on my schedule. Well, if nothing else, by the time I headed out, I was quite awake and could take my poor beleaguered limbs on a somewhat less frantic walk today - stop for a photo or two, then later to wish on a dandelion clock before ambling, nay, make that limping into the metro station.

I am sore... so very sore. Monday, I walked to the metro station, a 1.8km (1.1 mile) walk, then back again after the earlier students. I now do that walk at least twice a day, sometimes 4 times. It's not arduous. Because the bus route to my evening student is 100% ghastly, I decided to walk to his offices - an easy (or so I thought) 4.5km (2.8 mile) walk away. I figured it was no less than my workout walk. Ha! I was wearing fairly comfortable shoes that are just a smidgeon too big for me. I walked briskly, not wanting to chance being late and the sooner I could get there, the more time I could give myself to cool down and look less like I've just run a marathon before meeting the client. By the last mile, I felt as though both legs had full-on cramps and my left heel was one big open blister. Nasty. Otherwise, it was good. There was a nice breeze blowing that made it bearable - as long as I ignored my lower limbs.

I felt those lower limbs for the rest of the week... I won't even talk about the blister.

Back to Wednesday morning...
Ugh, the temperature is at a 'fresh' 24ºC (75ºF) and is now deemed too 'cold' for the fans and aircons to be on. Why on earth do Brazilians always look cool as cucumbers, while I look like a roasted pig with sweat tapping off in a highly unladylike manner?? The metro is packed. They really should open it earlier. I was off to a meeting with a new student. It went well. I'm still trying really hard to convince her to have her classes via Skype. I'm not pushy or anything, just hell-bent and determined *laugh*

Juggling three heads... yep, that's me!

I have spent the past two days frantically trying to squeeze 3 more classes into my morning and another two into my afternoon. You know those logic puzzles? The ones where Mary likes apples, but doesn't like bananas, Joe likes peaches, but is allergic to mangoes, Jack hates apples, but loves papaya, etc... and you have to figure out who gets to eat what in the end? I sucked at doing those, so I avoid them. Right now, my schedule is like a logic puzzle, except without the logic and too many 'Janes' like 'peaches'. Everyone wants the 8am slot. Mary wants any day of the week, except Mondays. Janet wants any day except Friday. Thursday is taken by John. And so it goes on.

I ended up dropping one student and convincing another that she can only have one class per week, instead of two. She may just decide on another teacher with that kind of condition *sigh*

I'm itching! I'm sooo over mosquitoes!! Most things in nature, I can figure out why they were created, but mosquitoes.... ?? Can anyone tell me??

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


"Never let go of hope. One day you will see
that it all has finally come together. What you
have always wished for has finally come to be.
You will look back and laugh at what has passed
and you will ask yourself...
'How did I get through all of that?'”

–Author unknown

I'm on the wrong bus!

Catching up on the week's notes...

This photo was taken some years back at Serra Negra

I woke up this morning from a disturbing dream. I got onto bus #102 (buses here aren't numbered quite that way) from my 'usual' bus stop even though I didn't recognise the route on the board attached to the side of the bus. Buses here have the main roads of the route written up on their sides - if you're lucky enough to get one to stop long enough to read it, that is. I took this one, being sure of the bus number.

Not long after, I realised the bus was going in the completely wrong direction. I kept yelling to be let off the bus, but no one helped and the driver ignored me. The bus took me on a roundabout  through an unfamiliar neighbourhood, then did a loop up a bumpy, unpaved hill and back down. By this time, I was in tears of frustration.

As the bus, once again wound through another unfamiliar neighbourhood, one of the passengers kept telling me "Sua machina!" Somehow my cellphone had started blaring out a local TV station. I was livid because it meant my battery had been wasted unnecessarily. I had just turned it off when the bus stopped. I was back where I started!

Now dealing with bus routes is nothing new to me. There is the constant fear in the back of my mind that I'll take the wrong bus or metro and end up late. One digit wrong can take me to the opposite end of the city. The concern is worse when I don't know the route or destination.

Right now, I know my destination - or at least, the place I want to... need to be. It's the route that's fuzzy. I feel as though I'm being taken up bumpy, unpaved roads, only to be brought back to reality by local transmissions and to find I'm back where I started.

On the other hand, it may just be that my teaching routine is once again changing and I spent much of the weekend carefully mapping out new bus routes and noting down bus numbers.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Totally wasted Saturday!

It's not bad enough that I slept for two hours after giving two classes this morning. I hate sleeping so long. It turns me into a zombie for a few hours after. I then chugged down some coffee and a few biscuits (necessary sustenance... believe me!).

Checking my mail showed me that I had some random guy following me on Twitter. Nosiness drove me over there. I'm always kind of shocked when someone adds me as a contact or follows me on a site like Twitter. It isn't as though I use the site. I mean... I go there once every blue moon when someone follows me. I did, however, spend an entertaining half hour browsing through motivational quotes and a hashtag: #beforetwitter (people put this hashtag into their tweets, much like we use tags here on Multiply). So.... for your education and edification...

#BeforeTwitter I read the drivel of friends on Facebook, now I get to read it from strangers.

   -  or in twit (aka idiot) talk:
#beforetwitter i wud neva tell any1 my thotz..now i tel a bunch of strangerz

#BeforeTwitter some spoke their minds; now they just tweet anothers'

#beforetwitter I knew what homework was.......

#Beforetwitter there were these crazy things called books. People read them for pleasure & to be educated so they didn't "tlk lik this."

#beforetwitter these random thoughts of nothingness had no outlet. Now everyone knows exactly how insane the world really is

#beforetwitter I didn't realize how much random nothingness I had to share w/ the world

#beforetwitter I actually had to spend time with you to Learn who u are as a person. These days. Not so much

#beforetwitter following a stranger would put you in jail

#beforetwitter following a stranger was called stalking

#BeforeTwitter I wrote sentences.
The sheer brilliance of the collective mind out there is staggering! *koff*

Supper was a boring affair of pasta with calabresa (Italian sausage), designed to send me up heartburn alley for the night. We watched an episode of Stargate (yes, we watch really old TV shows). After supper, I got sidetracked with music on Youtube. One thing led to another, as it's inclined to do, and I ended up on a witch-hunt for a song that just does not exist on the internet! I ended up writing to a guy who claims to have the 7" single - on vinyl. Yes, it's an old song.

I'm sitting here laughing so hard. Jurgis was helping me find the song I mentioned, when he got sidetracked too. No less than with David Kramer himself. There isn't a South African who doesn't know that name. David Kramer of the veldskoene, blikkitaar, bicycle and long, empty Karoo roads scattered with tiny Karoo towns. David Kramer has well and truly sung his way through South African culture. "Hier sit die manne in die Royal Hotel..."

A bit of random information from Wiki that started this off: The Kramer family name (originally Karabelnik) was adopted by his grandfather who arrived in South Africa from Lithuania in 1899, and made a living as a salesman (walking from farm to farm selling goods). The family's from Lithuania?? I see he also grew up with his grandfather then.



David Kramer's brother paints the most amazing oils of yesteryear, also of those tiny one-horse towns. PEP stores is iconic too...

Do visit his site for a glimpse into sleepy South African small towns.
His paintings are amazing!

Friday, 11 March 2011


A tenuous peace exists. The blue and red 'box' - I promise, it used to be a box... a cat box, to be precise... until Romany claimed it - now has new interest for Specs. She used it, I think, about 5 times since we got it. Now that Romany has claimed it, mooshed it, flattened it and generally abused it, she has taken it back. I lie.... she just occupies anywhere he likes to lie, blankie included, just to thwart his comfort. He takes it in good spirits and generally hides out at my feet under the desk. 

A couple of days ago, we were outside and I decided to finally photograph our giant, man-eating ants. These things are huge, by ant standards anyway, at least 1cm in length... make that just under half an inch (I think). We love bees and encourage them as much as possible. When it's really dry outside, we put out honey water for them. That was a lid to a container with honey water. The bees fled. The ants moved in.

Strangely, it's the little ants that are violent here. We have some that calmly walk over you and bite... just because and it burns! They're so insignificant-looking too. Then there are the ones that aggressively attack other creatures. While I was out, I watched a pack of them attacking a maggot (don't ask... it was ugly). Today, there was a lady bug on Jurgis' arm, so we put it on our most aphid-ridden plant. The ants moved in and toppled the bug to the soil below and attacked it. I quickly lifted it out, shook the ants off and it flew away, no doubt cursing us for nearly getting it killed. Horrible things.

I've been busy cutting and sewing. Today, I rescued a dress I wear far too often - it's my only cool, summer dress for around home. It's neckline and arms were starting to fray badly. It looks more respectable now. I've added another season onto its life, I think. The neighbour has gone away for a time. He gave his keys to Jurgis, so he could open windows to air the place and such. He has a perfectly magnificent granite work surface in the kitchen at the perfect height - he's extremely short, so it's totally wasted on him... no fair. I've been cutting fabric on there for the past few days. Then I can sew at my leisure. So far, I have a pair of shorts for Jurgis, a blouse for myself and a pair of slacks. My plan is to use up all the fabric I've been stashing for so long.

I have a quandary though. This fabric is upholstery fabric. In my dreams, it is to go on dining room chairs. I can just see it. But... it's been many years since we've had a dining room, never mind dining room chairs. When we moved here, a room in our house, the big front room, was being rented by an upholsterer. We let him stay for a time, while we found our feet. The fabric was left over from a job he had. Anyhow, I need to do something with it. Jurgis suggested a bed cover. There isn't enough. It's a lot of fabric, but not enough to cover a double bed. Any ideas? I'm looking for inspiration. I was thinking a jacket or coat...

Here is a close up of the fabric. The texture is that of thick linen...

Then there's this other piece. Very textured, softer, thicker. You can see it falls differently. Also winter jacket potential. Also not big enough for the bed. In its original plan, it was meant to be throw pillows. Again, I have no couch, so that's a moot point. Hm... a pair of pants, I wonder.... ?

Here's a close up, so you can see the texture...

I need ideas... inspiration... anything going? What would YOU do?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Stop staring!

Marty posted a hilarious video earlier. It reminded me of a t-shirt Tat bought for herself on her SA trip a few years back.

Tat was still modelling on and off at that point, though, as life got in the way, it was petering out. In the peak of her time as a model, she couldn't walk anywhere without drawing attention, no matter how frumpily or austere she'd dress. She's still like that. She has the most beautiful face and radiates 'simpatico', as the Brazilians put it. Sympatico is a bit like congeniality with a whole lot more friendliness and niceness thrown in. Back then, it was just more so, combined with a gorgeous figure and curves most Brazilian girls get implants for.

So the t-shirt, which, sadly, had absolutely no effect on the desired audience because it was in snarky English...

The photo is bad. It was one of the outtakes from a totally fun photoshoot I had with her - hey, I lived with a model I didn't have to pay! But you get the idea. It was in-your-face shocking pink: Stop Staring. Grow Your Own. Tat wore the t-shirt on the plane coming home. She'd quite forgotten it until one of the air stewards did a double take and packed up laughing. He then called the other stewards to show them. Talk about an in-flight ice-breaker! Tat really needs to tell the story herself. It was funny.

I loved that photo shoot, incidentally. I often flip through the photos. The postures and expressions go much further than just showcasing a pretty girl. It spoke of a relationship between us. To this day, I match her puzzled frown with "You want me to do what?!" and much goofy laughter. The photo above has Tat covered in cat and dog fur. She had been distracted by the cat walking past. We tried to get the cat into the photos, but had to settle for one of Tat's vast collection of teddy bears in the end.

Of course, I got some stunning photos out of the shoot (my opinion, naturally).

Not entirely photographic excellence, but...

My dreamer... tomboy... lady... 21 years old.... still with childlike wonder at life and beautiful inside and out. Oh ok... I just used the t-shirt as an excuse to show off *grins*

Monday, 07 March 2011

Vlog - are you ready for it?

I'm the shy retiring type who is usually very uncomfortable in front of cameras. It's only in the past few years that I've even allowed photos of myself. Anyway, I started the video while Jurgis was outside working on the gate. At the sneeze (there was a lot of sawdust involved), he came inside. I just don't have the guts to carry on videoing in front of him. I know. Daft, but there you have it.

Advanced apologies for the quality. I have no idea what the shhhh noise is about or how to prevent it. I read that it might be an over-sensitive microphone... or perhaps I have my mic volume too loud. Trouble is, if I turn it down, you won't hear me at all - maybe a good thing?



I never did get to the main purpose of the video, the Afrikaans, where you'll get to hear me speak my mother tongue like an Englishman. I got mocked for that quite a bit LOL Yes, I do blather on quite a bit ; )  I'm going to attempt to get a Part 2 done before posting this blog.

Right, Part 2. I realise now that I didn't smile much. I was very uneasy doing this video with Jurgis listening in. I also realised that I tend to waffle a lot =) The background noise is still there. Hope it doesn't bother everyone as much as it bothers me. Anyway, without further ado...



Creative language

It's Carnaval here in Brazil. From Friday last week through to Wednesday afternoon this week, absolutely nothing happens here, except the inevitable sequins, feather boas and samba. Business is closed. A few supermarkets remain open, but for limited hours.

I wanted to get industrious this morning. It's not often I get free time at home. I cleaned out the cat litter, then took the bag of dirty litter upstairs to put any dog doo-doos into the bag. I've only fallen on those steps once since moving in here, which, in itself, is remarkable.

This time, I was clever enough to fall UPstairs. I somehow managed to smash both big toes into a step at the top. On my left foot, the toenail is split up the middle and one half is lifted *throb throb* On the right foot, the toe is bruised. How the heck did I manage that? Oh... and cat litter over everything, me included. Jurgis was a great help cleaning up, while graciously trying to hide his laughter. I broke out in some creative language.

This is where I'm eternally grateful for my Afrikaans heritage. No one swears quite like the ou tannies (old aunts) and oomies (uncles).

"Blikskottel!!" It came out hard and loud, not once, but a few times. Jurgis piped up with "Why blikskottel and not blikemmer?" I don't know. It was just a 'skottel' moment somehow.

  • blik - tin
  • skottel - cooking pot or basin
  • emmer - bucket

Not my photo! "Old tin bucket." Photo by {JO} / Flickr

The old Afrikaners were very conservative, both in their lifestyle and their language. Of course, they had their fair share of frustrations. I imagine that burning the daily loaf of bread that took hours to knead, rise and bake must have inspired some fairly creative language. I know it would have done so for me. 'Bliksem' is another word one will frequently hear. It's really 'lightning'. 'Donner' was one I heard a lot as a child, meaning 'thunder'. Somehow, hearing 'donner' was a lot worse than hearing 'bliksem'. Not sure why. It was usually used as an adjective, a bit like 'darn' or 'damn'. "Daai donnerse kat!" translates to 'that darn cat'.

"Voetsek!" Oooh, I love that word! It's a little like 'go away' or 'get lost', but the sense of it is quite untranslatable. It's a word used when a person or animal (I used it on HRM today) is really annoying you. The tone in which it's said also speaks volumes. Generally, when using this term in a foreign country, people look at you oddly, but get the gist of what you're saying by your tone and body language... or because they pretty much know they're being annoying and expect you to tell them to go and climb trees.

I wanted to do a video blog on the subject for a few reasons. One is that I bullied poor Kerry into speaking on her videos, but mainly to give you the sounds of the Afrikaans words. I also needed to test the cam. It hasn't been coming on when I needed it lately. I think my usb connections are funky. I need the cam for some of my Skype classes. I got it working now, but HRM decided he was finished playing with his gate (he periodically takes it apart to refinish it, just because he can) and has come inside. No way will I do a video blog with him in around. I'm not enough of an exhibitionist. Besides, when typing, I can gleefully talk about him. It's rather hard to do that when talking, as he listens to every word.

Well, Riete posted the weather forecast, so I figured I'd post ours for tomorrow. A frigid 27ºC (80ºF) and... yes... you guessed it... Rain! Just for a change, of course :)

Saturday, 05 March 2011

A fairy tales

A repost from way back in 2007...

The title is all wrong, I know, but honestly, I did start with a fairy tale, but as my thoughts wandered, I ended up with a few. I suppose the title should have been "Alice in Wonderland and other tales", as it was Alice who got me going.

One thing we brought with us to Brazil is my upside-down book. Holding it one way, I had the stories of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the looking glass" and flipping it over, I had "The five little Peppers and how they grew". I loved that book, not for the stories inside (confession... I never did read "The five little Peppers"), but for its upside-downness. I never could do handstands, so I would often find myself hanging off the edge of my bed, surveying my world from a different angle.

I got to thinking this morning that I am much like Alice... often bewildered at the oddities that life tosses my way. Some days, I eat my slice of mushroom for breakfast and I grow. For the day, I feel big and capable and sometimes, even powerful. Though sometimes, the bigness makes me uncomfortable and clumsy and not fitting in anywhere. Other times, I take a sip of what is meant to be my coffee and I shrink. I would feel so small and easily trodden on. It has its advantages though in that I often fit into places and situations then that I wouldn't otherwise fit into as me, but then, who is me... and how big is me?

Then I got to thinking about the creatures... sorry... people we meet. A couple of days ago, the doorbell rang. At the gate was a youngster of around school-leaving age. Tea cosy pulled down over his ears, random piercings, baggy clothes... Yep, you guessed it. My instinct was to shake my head at a distance and tell him 'no' without finding out what mischief he was up to. I went to talk to him though. He carefully showed me his student ID card and then proceeded to tell me how they were on a drive to collect clothing and such for charity. Well, I never... Then there's the lady I met a little while back. She was determined to be friendly. I said to Tat, "but I have absolutely nothing in common with her!" This lady has taught me a few things, indirectly, of course, one of them being that there's room in my life for all kinds of people and I don't have to have anything in common with them. Heck, I may just discover something new, such as how much fun Mad Hatter's tea parties can be!

Some days, I'm a lion, desperately needing courage. Other days, I need a brain (actually, most days), then there are days, to my shame, when I need a heart. Tat will tell you that I'm quite capable of being the Wicked Witch of the West, when all I want to do is click my heals and go home, but home is so very far away. So in the meantime, I spend my days running away from the evil stepmother who is determined to feed me the poisoned apple or playing with the little children in Never Never Land. I live with Peter Pan, y'know ;)

*for Tat - have fun!*

Thursday, 03 March 2011

São Paulo transport 101

My final metro on the way home.
Just an old man and myself enjoying the peace.

Oh my day started well enough, beyond my desire to ignore it completely, that is, and continue dreaming. I seem to be permanently tired lately - not so much tired as unutterably, inexplicably sleepy. I pulled myself together and dragged myself through my morning routine and finally made my way to the bus stop in the rain. What? You were expecting me to say sunshine or something? Ha! Yes, for the zillionth day, it is yet again raining. Actually, it just hasn't stopped. Good thing I like rain.

As I approached my bus stop, my bus, blissfully empty and unaware of my sleepy, but frantic attempts to get its attention, sailed on by. I eyed the rain and the now empty, uncovered bus stop and decided to go to the other stop under the huge rubber trees. I had barely gone a lick when the next bus came - packed to the gills. I ran to catch it, dropping my (thankfully waterproof) bag in the road and snapping one of the spines of my umbrella (yes, the replacement umbrella) as I got into the bus. Yep! It's going to be a great day!

Which brings me to my topic for today, The (Brief) Unofficial Guide to Surviving São Paulo's Public Transport System.

Embark and disembark

1. Elbows:

Why do you think you were created with those ungainly protrusions? To create and maintain your place on the bus or train, of course! They're also useful for removing obstinate obstacles. Today, I was the obstinate obstacle.... painfully... you know that little muscle running alongside the spine? Yes, that one. This person was proficient in the skill of elbow arts (a division of the crowd-bully martial arts discipline).

2. Footstomp:
A cousin to the elbow tactic. This one is simple. If a foot is in the way, stand on it. It can also be helpful to short people who need the extra inch or so to reach the bars to hold on. If a group gets together, a finely choreographed dance can be performed using this method.

3. Backpack:
In many societies, personal space is desirable. On crowded transport, it becomes a practical impossibility. The key here is to pack your bag as full as possible. This creates the necessary space around you. Don't worry about weight or back problems. There is usually someone who will oblige with an arm or bag you can rest your backpack on in a spirit of cheerful sharing.

4. Perfume:
This is a tricky one, though lethal if you get it right, as a lot of the population have an immunity to this weapon. There are two ways to apply this. One can be very quick, weather permitting. Simply omit deodorant. You need hot weather for this. The second method takes a few hours of preparation. Fill your bath with the perfume of your choice and marinate. Note: simply spraying copious amounts on before leaving is not as effective, as it doesn't penetrate the pores and can be rubbed off by fellow passengers. That would be giving your advantage away.

5. Hair:
This is a more subtle tool. It becomes more effective during peak hour commutes. The idea here is to either have vast quantities of hair or very spiky hair. In either case, your best friend is gel - as much as possible. You don't want your hair giving way before your fellow commuter does. Unfortunately, this tip will not work for really short or tall people, as the key is to have your hair at average eye height.

Your space

1. Poles and bars:
After a late night, these can be a lifesaver. Hold onto one. Lean into it. Wrap yourself around it. The support is invaluable. Don't be concerned with the other passengers. If they need to, they can attempt to move to another part of the bus or train. There are plenty of poles (ie. upright beds) for all. The lower cross-bars are useful as seats too. When you are really tired, they are good, as you don't have to lower yourself or get up out of one of the regular seats. It's useful to make sure there is someone actually sitting in the seat behind you, as the person's shoulder makes a good backstop.

2. Doors:
The announcer who frequently admonishes passengers not to stand in front of the doors and to keep them free has never taken public transport. They don't know that is the absolute best place to stand. For one, you are the first to get off at your stop. At the next stop, make sure to plant your feet firmly, so you don't get pushed out of the way, while others try to leave. This is important. If you are standing at the side of the door, you can hold onto the available poles for extra help.

3. Seats
If you are tired, or need to read or do your makeup, ignore the restricted seating signs. You may have to move sharply to get to the seat. Speed is essential. The ability to climb over people is useful at this point. Maximise your seating. A large bag or bulky clothing is helpful. Men have an advantage here, as it is socially acceptable to sit with your legs splayed or with your ankle resting on your knee. Teens can utilise two seats by resting their feet on a second seat. Life is hard work. You deserve your rest. If you feel the need to stretch out, pretending to sleep will ensure that you remain undisturbed.

4. Socialising:
If you are travelling with a friend, share the love. Your social lives are particularly interesting to other passengers, as they are deprived of watching soap operas while travelling. Sitting at opposite sides of the carriage or bus will ensure widest publication.

Killing boredom

1. Books:
Books, newspapers, magazines are all great diversions. If the bus or train is crowded, you have the added advantage of being able to rest your reading matter on another's shoulder. Curling yourself around a pole also helps for stability, allowing you to read easier. When reading large newspapers, try to make sure you have a double seat to yourself or at least have an accommodating neighbour.

2. Make up:
This demands considerable skill, but, with practice, it can become an art form. If you drop your lipstick, try to drop it in the direction of another passenger to avoid it falling on the unhygienic floor. Make sure that you grab a seat at all costs, as standing to do your make up is precarious at best.

3. Sleep:
Sleep is so necessary. Between work and your social life, it is hard to get sufficient sleep. Sleeping on buses and trains is particularly good as a) it kills time; b) it makes sure you remain undisturbed (see #3 under "Your space"); c) it can be done almost anywhere. Caution: If you are inclined to sleep with your mouth open and/or drooling, be aware that many cell phones have cameras.

4. Mobile phones:
With the advent of technology, there is no longer any excuse to be bored. Consider your faulty or non-existent ear-phones to be a generous gesture towards your deprived travelling companions. Turn up the volume, so that everyone else can save their batteries and listen to your music.

5. Poles, bars and seats:
It has been widely proven that people appreciate free entertainment. Since you have dreams of being a drummer and/or are in training for carnival, your fellow commuters can benefit from your skills. Poles and bars are more private, but can be felt by those with hearing deficiencies, but are useful in case commuters have ear phones on and can't hear the tapping. Seats are much more gratifying, as the sound carries further. Soon you will have everyone bopping in time. What a generous nature you have!

Football fans swim in stands at flooded stadium before game decided by sub | Mail Online

I told you it was a little damp here ;)

Tuesday, 01 March 2011

In latest news from the pond

The hazy look is rain

Actually, there's no news really. Even the persistent rain isn't news any more. I waded home from my lunch time student in my water wings. It's now practice for Jurgis to meet me at the door with towels. My little umbrella is finished. In the end, it wasn't worth keeping open. For a 4 buck cheapie, it's done quite well for itself. I'm going to miss the bright green. I have a black vulture ready to take over though.

Yesterday evening, I went out to my late student... got as far as the bus stop and waited.... and waited... and waited... I amused myself while waiting...

There's a manhole cover. The underground water forces them up into a fountain in the road

Let's just say it was wet!

It's usually dry under the huge rubber trees at my stop.
I was using my umbrella under the bus stop shelter.

I eventually waded back home. No go. I left a message with my student that there just are no buses. No wonder...

Photo taken from the news. This is the bus I was waiting for.
It was stuck far away from me.

These two photos were taken in our neighbourhood, though at the other end. We weren't as badly hit.

I'm intrigued. She's actually riding her bicycle through the water!

Feel free to browse more to get an idea of what it's been like here lately:
Some areas were very badly hit with cars completely submerged and a couple of landslides.

Not too long after I sent a message to my student, I got a text from him: "Don't come. It's flooded here." Uh... yes... I'd say!

My one student was saying that the rains of this year are the worst he has ever seen. I know that, for us, it's the worst we've had, though São Paulo is no stranger to rains and floods. It's a seasonal way of life here. This is constant though. We're well used to the 4pm sudden rain storm in summer, but this day in and day out rain and flood? Not nearly as much fun and very awkward, to say the least, for intrepid teachers like me to move heaven and earth to get to students - ok, not quite heaven and earth... make that 'wind and water'.

And speaking of students, I need to get back to preparing for young MF.

For those who're waiting, Tat won't be blogging in a hurry. I got a "My pc has a fatal error" message last night. She is less than impressed.