01 March 2015

The UUA Website Has a Sharp-Looking New Design

One of the first websites I visited way back in 1994 was one that belonged to a UUA congregation somewhere in the northwestern United States. At the time I signed their guestbook commenting that "it seems like everyone's getting online these days." Such beautiful innocence.

Now the website for the Unitarian Universalist Association has gotten a redesign, bringing it up-to-date with current technologies and web standards and making it fully responsive. Gone is the clunky design that was good enough in 2005 but woefully outdated in 2015.

The UUA can be a safe haven for humanists (so long as they're willing to get along with a few theists), and I've included it in a previous post as one of the options for non-theists looking for a community to call home.

Check out UUA President Peter Morales' introduction the new design below, and be sure to visit the site itself.

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27 February 2015

Morte e Vida Severina (Video)

The video below is an interesting animated adaptation of João Cabral de Melo Neto's "Morte e Vida Severina". It's the story not just of one man, but of many. To follow along with the text in Portuguese, click here. For a rough English summary, click here.

26 February 2015

Brazil in the Rear-View

Since 1997 I've dreamed of living out my life in Brazil. I came to this country a few times while in the university, then moved here and married in 2001. A couple of years later we moved to the U.S., but my wife and I always yearned to move back to Brazil. In late 2012 my wife and kids moved down, then in late 2013 I joined them. It lasted a little over a year, and now it's ending.

After a year of job-hunting and scraping by teaching English I finally found a job with a local software company. It's a great little organization and the role of project manager fits me well. Despite this, difficulties remain.

The salary, though good for this city (Uberlândia), is too low to give us a measure of comfort. Further, my children are profoundly unhappy with their school experience here.  Finally, my wife and I are both concerned that we're limiting ourselves and our children by staying here. There are far more opportunities in the New York area than we'll likely ever see in Brazil.

Tomorrow, February 27, I'll board a flight back to the United States. I've been working on lining up a job for over a month now, and things are shaping up in that regard.  Once a certain amount of money is in the bank, I'll bring my wife and kids up to join me in the States.

There are many things I'll miss about Brazil, and it's hard to think that this is likely the final time I'll be making my home here. It's just too difficult to make the move back here again, and there's no reason to think it would work out better a third time.

Still, there are many positives about living in the United States. Hopefully I'll be able to grow professionally, see more of the world and attend some conferences. I'd like to get more involved in Sunday Assembly, do volunteer work and generally do what I can to make life a little better for myself, my family and others.

Of course I hope to make return visits to Brazil, perhaps even on business of some sort. It's a lovely, complex, vibrant and challenging country. Just keep in mind the following:

25 February 2015

The Rainforest is Part of Brazil Too

Back in 2000, as I was preparing to move to Brazil, I went to a teaching supply store in Quincy, Illinois to look for items I might be able to use as an English teacher. On a rack of books about different countries I found "Brazil." With a fair amount of trepidation I picked it up and proceed to page through it. Page after page of jungle. Flora. Fauna. Indigenous people. The last two pages or so included photos of the São Paulo skyline, the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro, and some text about the majority of the population being located in big cities in the south. That was it. No wonder so many people in the U.S. and elsewhere grew up thinking of Brazil as one dense, wet forest.

Matters have changed somewhat over the past decade. With more attention on Brazil internationally due to its short-lived economic boom and the mega events it has and will be hosting, more people around the world are coming to understand that Brazil is more than rainforest. It's a country with a diverse tropical climate, a variety of cultural expressions, a relatively long history and some very big, dense cities. Yet, what I hear most foreigners who've never been hear talking about now are the favelas. People get starry-eyed and almost breathless as they say, "Oh, I want to visit a favela." As though it were a magical place, some sort of Neverland.

Not quite.

Most Brazilians I know seem to resent the association with favelas (as though the country were one big favela), and appear even more to despise the rainforest stereotype. I wonder if perhaps this rejection of the international image contributes to willful negligence of the natural realm in Brazil. I don't know. I really think conservation and the environment should have been bigger issues in the recent presidential elections here, especially given how climate change appears to be giving us a severe drought in the regions around São Paulo. Still, almost no consideration was given to the matter.
Brazil is more than a rainforest, but the Amazon is also part of Brazil. This natural resource should be a source of pride and therefore great concern for the Brazilian people. Rather than ignore it or worry about reminding foreigners that Brazil is more than jungle, they should embrace it as a part of who they are. Much is at stake for the world and for Brazil.

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23 February 2015

Por que é tão CARO comprar um CARRO no Brasil?