Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pushing Limits



A new campaign against anorexia is pushing limits in Milan's International Fashion weeek in Italy. Oliviero Toscani, famous for his contentious (read awesomely shocking and creative) Bennetton ads, has now photographed french model, Isabelle Caro (above), weighing a mere 31 kilos (I weigh 60 kg. for comparisson... shhh don't tell anyone.) The campaign is raising eyebrows, yet as Mae West put it once "It's better to be looked over, than overlooked ..." I'm hoping the campaign does something to expose the issue of how 90-95% of all documented anorexics (and bulimics) are women. Women are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, accompanying body image dissatisfaction, then men. Low self-esteem has been found to be related to body image dissatisfaction and various eating disorders/disturbances.

So what's this got to do with Rio? Nothing, or everything. In a city where body image is everything, I wonder what Rio's figures are for anorexia. I don't see a lot of anorexic looking girls walking around...but I wonder how many experience the self-controlling, censoring, obsessive tendency to be thin. A recent report by the International Commission for Narcotics Control (INCB) ranked Brazil as the global leader in the consumption of appetite supressants - aka: amphetamines - which "help" with appetite and weight control. Argentina, South Korea and the US were next on the list, with a global trend on the rise for the consumption of these substances.

I hope that the fashion industry can take charge of this issue recognizing their power to reverse this trend. A San Francisco based organization "about-face" has a lot to say on this issue, exposing a gallery of offenders as well as companies like Dove that are trying to put a new face on "real beauty". Check it out and feel good about your lovely curves.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Favorites on YouTube

Ok - a quick update. I quit my job. Got a new one. Prolonged my vacation. Started a new blog in Portuguese, to push me to write in my native language...ahhhh rusty!! And have spent the last 3 weeks doing a lot of nothing. Its amazing how much one can find out/research when not working! I've discovered YouTube - ok a bit late for all you "early adopters" out there, but the way I'm using is giving me endless bouts of pleasure - I've basically returned to my teenage years when MTV was such a core part of my life, but I'm clearly more mature - using a more sophisticated "video on demand" style for searching for Billie Holliday, Grace Jones, Bob Marley, and more. Its soooOOOO much fun! Here are some favorites I've collected - turn up your speakers!!

Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice - a wonderful duo that made my hair stand up when I first heard them on Herbie Hancock's DVD "Possibilities". Lisa's voice is so wonderful, raspy, full of emotion, it's hard to believe she is only 26 and just begining her career. Turns out my new favorite duo split up in March of this year. I wish Lisa all my best on her solo career. I hope she stays true to her talent.

Bob Marley's
Positive Vibration is the song that sums up my philosphy for facing any hard moments, relationships, exchanges, etc. Live if you want to live, got to have a good time! The link was a gift from a work colleague, and I don't think she knows how much it meant to me to have received it.

Billie Holliday singing My Man. She takes her time, in a way that only Billie can, to get each word out, and to hit each note - and yet its perfect and so full of grace, every time! I can't stand it. And the words to this song, are so ridiculously chauvinistic...that they make me smile. Love is something we can't explain, now can we?

Grace Jones Slave to the Rhythm...three words, What a Queen!! And thank God she followed a career in singing, we could have lost this talent to basketball, where all tall girls end up. Or don't they?

Anyway, very silly - hope you who are reading have some time to throw away, and go tubing with me today. Happy Spring 2007 - yep, its spring here in the southern cone baby!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Holiday



Ok, I've taken the plunge and decided to take next week off as a holiday! Wow! Now that's big news, right? Hahaha...how caught up "one: can get in the swing swirl of work life...even when "one" works from home, and home is in Rio...

OUCH! I'm guilty of being just that kind of one...!

Work has been stressing me out royally and things have been going from bad to worse. The sensible thing to do is to step back and re-evaluate the situation...and a petite vacation might be just what I need.

Working from home definitely has its pluses, like no commute time and being able to spend the entire day wearing pajamas, but its minuses are total isolation and being easily forgotten by "everyone else". So without going into details, and exposing the major flaws and frustrations of my current dynamic, I'll just say that I'm delighted with my decision and I plan to get the most out of this time off - potentially extending it indefinitely...

After all, work not only permeates every second of my waking existence...I've now started to dream about it too. So really, its time that I take control of this situation and well, like Madonna wisely said in the 80's ...

" If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice

Everybody spread the word
We're gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation
It's time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday"...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Perspective

Ok, so the good news is, Tim got the visa! He should be back in Rio this afternoon. The bad news is, that its a temporary one - so he will have to leave Brazil in the next month and a half. I'm not sure how long it will take to sort out all the details so that he can be here, and be legal. In the meantime I'm already 10 steps ahead thinking about what we are going to do next...

Should we sublet our freshly set up apartment?

Should we crash at my mom's place and take a cordon-bleu course (though I wonder if there is such a thing for vegetarians...)

Should we find an innocent victim-friend who would be willing to put us up, dog and all, indefinitely in the US?

Who knows what we'll end up doing. All I know is that I'm thankful to have options. Nothing like the priviledge of having options.

That's more than most people on this planet can say...so really, I should feel so lucky!

And here is another reason to feel lucky. The house, after 3 long arduous and very expensive years, is finally ready! I can't wait to run away to this corner of paradise and enjoy this gift. Now if the fact that we have this place to run to, doesn't add perspective to all the crap we're having to deal with related to the bureaucracy, then really - I haven't learned anything.

What a great reminder on Perspective ....



Now let's hope Timo's visa gets sorted out quickly!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Deported

Another post about frustrations with the system - too bad. I just can't help but complain about the impasses we are experiencing with Brazilian bureaucracy. My husband came close to being deported, meaning, he was literally refused entry into the country while on his way back from the US. Turns out his right to stay in Brazil for 180 days per year as a tourist, was valid for staying but not for re-entry. Who would have thunk it.

Yeah I'm frustrated. He is now stuck in Buenos Aires, waiting for a merciful consulate agent to take pity upon us and stamp his passport - which they said they would do, but only on Thursday...of course, not fast enough. After he returns we will celebrate and then begin the process of racing against the clock to process paperwork so he can legally stay here.

Boy am I glad I have two passports, and my dog to keep me understanding company during frustrating times. Really, the world I live for has no boundaries.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stamps Galore

It seems strange that I would write about a frustrating encounter with Brazil's bureaucracy -- after such a long silence. This isn't the first time I've had the impulse to write about my frustrations in Rio -- I've had many since arriving -- but this one carries the spirity of light absurdity, in constrast to some of the other stories that are perhaps more absurd, but not so "light".

I spent yesterday running around Rio, trying to get our new apartment rental contract signed -- by having signatures recognized by different public notaries. This requires a special disposition - its sort of like an olympic sport, that is based not on grace, but on endurance.

I went to no less than three notary offices - one in each part of the city - to have my signature recognized, and then that of our co-signers. Oh yeah, don't get me started on the issue of having co-signers...that merits an entire entry on its own, but I'm not prepared to wallow...

Why is all this necessary, you ask me? I have no idea...some say these are left over inneficiencies from the iberian days of the portuguese colonizers. To me, it seems that the owners of these notary offices are sitting on a mine of gold and aren't willing to innovate their service to make other means of proof of identity more efficient. I mean, if every notary charges a couple of bucks to each of the thousands of people that wander through their offices every day...no math necessary...you tell me, what's the incentive for changing the system?

As it stands today, in order to have your own (or anyone's) signature verified on any official document (like an apartment rental contract) you have to first "open" your signature at a public notary's office, meaning -- pay money to put your signature on file -- and you get some colorful stamps which prove that your signature is real!! If you have co-signers, you have to go to the particular notary where they have their signature on file, in order to do the same...

So that's what I spent the day doing yesterday. Going to one notary for my signature, another for one of our co-signers, and another for the other co-signer...add 38 celcius to that, and no breakfast....I was quite a cranky gal. But not too cranky to do some shoptherapy -- I am the proud owner of a brand new washer and dryer!

Yippeee...just what every girl wants after a hard day of battling with bureacracy.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cloned Frankensteins are Delicious

I'm not a meat eater but I am still SHOCKED to hear that the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) declared on December 28th, that cloned animals are "virtually identical" to traditionally-bred animals, making the meat and milk from cloned cattle, pigs and goats safe for consumption.

I don't mean to sound alarmist but this news seems a little Frankensteinian to me. Between you and me, how many people out there are actually waiting anxiously for the opportunity to eat cloned animals?

It seems — thankfully — like not many. A 2002 Gallup Poll found that 66% of Americans feel cloning animals is “morally wrong". Another 2005 poll found that 63 percent of consumers would not buy food from cloned animals, even if the FDA deemed it safe.

Consumer groups, like the Center for Food Safety and the Consumer Federation of America are speaking out against the use of cloning in food production, on the basis that the technology has not been properly tested and may pose risks to public health.

What the @%&*!* is cloning?

Cloning allows the genetic traits of a plant or animal to be copied to create one or more living replicas. Clones are made by removing the nucleus from an egg, and replacing it with the nucleus from a body cell of another animal. This way, the egg develops into an animal that has identical genetic traits as the animal whose cell nucleus it was taken from.

I was surprised to learn, that over the past decade, 15 kinds of mammals have already been successfully cloned, including mules, horses, deer, oxen, dogs, cats, and cows. These advances have opened up potential uses of cloning by the beef and dairy industry. With hardly any regulations in place to protect consumers from the potential risks of cloned food, we seem headed for a truly Frankensteinian future.

The high cost of cloning ($20,000 for just one cow) prevents the beef and dairy industries from using the technology to mass produce meat and or dairy cows. Instead, industries plan to replicate breeding animals (which can produce offspring to be used as food), taking advantage of the genetic traits of prized cows and bulls without being limited by the animals’ natural lifespan.

What happened to Dolly, anyway?

Dolly, the first mammal (a sheep) to ever be cloned, in 1996, developed premature arthritis and lung disease leading her creators to euthanize her after just six years—roughly half the lifespan of a normal sheep. Research shows this isn't a unique incident -- developmental and genetic abnormalities characterize most cloned animals, giving rise to more problems during childbirth, higher rates of death among mothers and children during birthing, and to disorders such as blocked intestines, immune deficiencies and diabetes. Dolly’s creator, Ian Wilmut, stated that small imbalances in a clone’s protein, hormone, or fat levels may affect the safety and quality of its milk or meat....this has raised the concern of some scientists' in the use of this technology in food production.

RAISED CONCERNS?! I'd say, I find the whole concept mortifying!!

Especially given that most assertions that consuming foods from cloned animals is safe were actually from a 2005 study on milk taken from four cows and beef from only two cattle. Mmm...I wonder who paid for that study?

Bringing cloned food to the marketplace springs after all, from commercial interests from the beef and dairy industries, who wish to take advantage of the technology to profit. But morality aside, where does this leave consumers’ health -- not to mention arguments for conserving species diversity?

So for now, if you want to be absolutely sure that you and your family are not eating Frankenstein meat and/or dairy from cloned animals, purchase your food from small, local farms run by farmers you trust.

as for me, I’m leaving on a jet plane...to Rio.