Archive for July 2007

In better news…

29 July 2007 | 2

I don’t want to think about the break-in right now, so how about we talk about a few good things that are going on in my life.

One, important to maybe half the people who read my blog, is that we released 0.2 of Étoilé yesterday!

The Étoilé project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.2 of the Étoilé User Environment for UNIX-like systems. The Étoilé project aims to produce a user environment for desktop and small form-factor devices, with tight integration between components. The 0.2 release is primarily targeted at developers interested in a GNUstep-based environment.

Complete release announcement can be read here.

And for the visually-inclined, here are the obligatory screenshots (thanks to Yen-Ju for making those — I’m far too lazy):

I have to say, I’m quite happy with how it’s shaping up so far. Visually, not perfect yet, and yes, of course there are still bugs and crashiness, but we’ve made awesome progress this last year and a half, and now we have some great stuff planned for 0.3. And, assuming everything goes as planned (which it never does, but dammit a boy can hope!), 0.3 is going to be very, very sexy, both on the surface and under the covers.

In other news, and, far more importantly (sorry Étoilé fans!), my little one is turning 4 YEARS OLD tomorrow! The lucky girl even got a new hairdo for the occasion:

Ali - Brazil Haircut 1

Ali - Brazil Haircut 2

Ali - Brazil Haircut 3

Ali - Brazil Haircut 4

Ali - Brazil Haircut 5

The irony of the haircut situation is that in a country where we (well, I — Tanya does just fine) barely speak the language, and most definitely do not know how to say “reverse bob” or any other hairstyle-related terms in Portuguese, the stylist manages to cut her hair exactly how we want it, something that’s been failed twice in the United States by English-speaking beauticians.

But anyways, Ali’s soooo excited, and even more excited by the fact that she gets to have two parties: one here while we’re still in Brazil, and one once we get back to Minnesota. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of princess-themed items around my world for the next few weeks :)

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The Last Thing

29 July 2007 | 1

The last thing you want to have happen while you’re traveling is to get a phone call that your house got broken into. And all your stuff got taken. And what didn’t get taken was trashed and thrown around. And that the back door was left wide open so that your cat escaped.

And yet that’s the phone call that I just got. Luckily they found my cat. And they’re starting to clean the house. But I’m still really frustrated and angry right now. And I feel sick to my stomach.

24 hours ago I couldn’t wait to get back home… not I’m not sure I want to be there.

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Web Crash 2007

26 July 2007 | 0

In case you hadn’t heard, the Internet has crashed:


Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

They have TURTLES!!!

21 July 2007 | 0

A series of postage-stamp-sized photos from my camera phone during our trip to Praia do Forte. Yes, I forgot to bring our camera’s battery charger on our trip. Yes, I am a big dork. Yes, I will remember my camera’s battery charger next trip.

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Our Bahian Apartment

21 July 2007 | 2

My mom and sister were really curious about our new place, and I’m sure some others are as well, so here are some much delayed shots:

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488-8888 = 3330-3030 in Brazil

17 July 2007 | 0

Brazil has it’s share of American food: the obligatory McDonalds, but also Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut. The other day, Tanya and I were totally wiped and wanted to have a nice quiet night in of pizza and a movie. So, like good, somewhat-homesick Americans, we decided to order Pizza Hut delivery. Only once you’ve tried ordering pizza in a language which is not your own do you realize how insanely difficult a task this really is, and how much you take the process for granted when done in your native language.

The 10 (and a half) steps in ordering delivery pizza, anywhere in the world:

1. Find the phone number of the pizza place.
2. Figure out what you want to order.
3a. Call pizza place.
3b. Wait on hold.
4. Give phone number of your location.
5. Give address of your location, should phone number not be in the system.
6. Place order.
7. Determine amount of order and delivery time.
8. Wait for pizza to show up.
9. Pay and tip the delivery person.
10. Eat pizza!

Now, for us, step 1 was the easiest. In our apartment, on the fridge, are three magnets: one for Chinese delivery, one for fruit delivery, and one for Pizza Hut.

Step 2 started with this conversation:

Tanya: “What toppings do you want?”
Jesse: “I don’t know… tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, whatever…”
Tanya: “Do you know how to say ‘mushrooms’ in Portuguese?”
Jesse: “Let’s see if they have an online menu…”

With online menu in hand, we determined we wanted to order a large, hand-tossed Parmesan Margarita pizza. Step 2 solved.

3a is where things get a bit difficult. Tanya calls to place the order, but realizes very rapidly that she has no idea how to solve steps 4 and 5. To back up a moment: there was no step 3b on this particular phone call. Brazil, as with most Latin American countries, is not known for its promptness in food service. And yet, there was no being put on hold. Perhaps we should have realized that this was the beginning of our lack of familiarity with the situation.

Realizing she can’t give them the phone number or address of our hotel, she tells the Pizza Hut girl that she will call back. But call back she doesn’t, as Tanya has had a very hectic week and is thoroughly exhausted of speaking Portuguese. I don’t blame her — it’s tough.

Being the persistent (and hungry) type, I decide to try to complete the remainder of this process relying only on my own Portuguese. I go down to the front desk, where I receive the phone number and address of our hotel. I come back upstairs, and here is were we have a brilliant idea: let’s just order the pizza online. They have a website, with the whole process right there. I start, but am caught when I can’t determine some of the parts of the address they want. Damn.

So, I try again the old fashioned way. I make the call, and… the Pizza Hut girl throws me a curveball — she asks for the address before the phone number. I manage to give her the address (after many “slower, please, I don’t speak well”‘s, and then…

BEEP

BEEP

BEEP

BEEP

What?! I’m not sure if I’m on hold, or if Skype started to hate me or what, but I couldn’t bear a full minute of that sound, so I hung up. I really, really was ready to give up, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little Portuguese and bad phone connections get in the way of my dinner.

And so, I try again. But this time, the process begins with the proper step. I repeat the phone number that the doorman at the hotel gave me, but something is off. Ah, yes. This number only has 7 digits, when true Brazilian phone numbers have 8. Amazingly, the Pizza Hut girl is able to figure it out, and recites my address back to me, asking only for the apartment number, which I readily give her. Whew.

Again, 2 1/2 calls later, no step 3b. This is a word of warning to all American pizza places.

Time for step 6: placing the order. It starts out innocently enough — I tell her the kind of pizza I want. Then, she starts throwing crazy nouns and adjectives at me that I have never encountered. I know well enough to assume she’s asking about the size of pizza and type of crust, at least I hope I know well enough. So I just keep spouting out “grande, grande” (big, big) until she throws something else at me: ‘massa’. I have no idea what massa is, but I assume she’s gotten that I want a large pizza, so using the options provided me on the Pizza Hut website for crust, I try saying the word for (what I assume to be) hand-tossed. The girl on the phone gives a frustrated sound, then keeps saying “meia” (medium) followed by some other sounds that mean nothing to me (but were probably the options for thin-crust and deep-dish). I say “sim, meia” (yes, medium) out of confusion and hope for the best. (I learn later on from Tanya that ‘massa’ means dough or crust, so I remain hopeful that I ordered a medium crust: hand-tossed.)

She then tries to up-sell me on drinks and dessert, but luckily I know the words for those and say no. I think the worst is over.

She gives me the total: R$31.90. Okay, not bad. That’s about $17 US. However, all I have are R$50 bills, and as I found out earlier that day, R$50 notes are notoriously hard to break. So I ask if that will be fine for paying, and she says something I don’t understand. “como?” (huh?) I think I hear something about the driver and change, and her confirming quite a few times that I will be paying with a R$50. “sim, obrigado” (yes, thank you).

Will this process (and this post) ever end?

Step 8 was easy, we waited 1/2 hour like the girl said, and sure enough the guy showed up. I got the change back from him, which was indeed change for a R$50, gave the guy a tip (and realized later that he had already taken a tip off of the change I gave him), and checked to see if what was inside the box was really what I thought I ordered.

And yes, indeed, it was.

And it was delicious.

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Adventures in Dessert

16 July 2007 | 0

I have to give it to the Brazilians — they can certainly whip up a wicked good ice cream. Yesterday, I was able to partake of a glorious combination the likes of which I had never even dreamed possible:

Corn Ice Cream.

The amazing flavor of corn on the cob, minus the little particles wedged between your teeth.

In Brazil, not only am I able to eat ice cream that tastes like corn, but last weekend we went to an ice cream parlor that boasted 60 flavors of ice cream. And it was pay-per-the-kilo, as many flavors as you want. I think I was most tickled by Tapioca ice cream. Baskin Robbins, eat your heart out.

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The Return of Fire Pants!

12 July 2007 | 0

It’s interesting how marketing + lack of options + being in a foreign country makes you do things you would otherwise never do. For instance, were I in the United States, I would never have seen Quarteto fantástico e o Surfista Prateado. For those who don’t speak Portuguese, yes, that is indeed Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I mean, sure, I’m a big comic book fan, but let’s face it: the first F4 movie (which I didn’t see, btw) was not noted for it’s Oscar-worthy performances or life-changing storyline.

However, seeing as I’m in Brazil, and the only options for movies at the local theater are Shrek 3 (which I’ve already seen twice), and F42, and my daughter has been successfully manipulated by the media to want to see this movie, I end up seeing Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Twice.

And the second time, at the end of the movie, the native Brazilians in the audience clapped and cheered. With standards like that, it’s no wonder they only need to have two flicks per theater.

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A Change of Scenery

10 July 2007 | 0

Sorry for the lack of posts. We’ve been having our share of craziness lately. As most everyone knows, we had moved in with a host family, a lady and her 5-year-old son. We moved in with them for a few reasons, but one of the predominant reasons was so Ali would have someone to play with.

That ended up being a HUGE mistake.

This kid was mean. On the first day he choked Ali, and the violence just continued until, this weekend, he shot Ali in the eye with one of his toys. Without remorse. And this wasn’t just a “oh, kids are kids” kind of a situation — she still has red spots on the white of her eye.

Needless to say, we decided it was time to get our own place, both for Ali’s safety and to give Tanya and I a bit of quiet and calm (she’s got to be able to study, and I’ve got to be able to get work done).

We ended up getting an apartment — a nice little place in a different neighborhood of Salvador. Ondina (that’s the neighborhood) is not far from Barra, and is equally as nice. Ali and I got some practice in riding the buses and taxis by ourselves today, and I think things will go good here.

For the curious, here’s a sequence of maps showing our old place and new place, and where we actually are in relation to Brazil as a whole (if you’re curious about that sort of thing):

The pin on the left is where we were, the pin on the right is where we are now (we have another wicked view here — the ocean is a rock’s throw away). Click the first map for a detailed view of our neighborhood.

Brazil Zoom 1

Brazil Zoom 2

Brazil Zoom 3

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New Phone Number

6 July 2007 | 0

I have a new phone number. If you know my old number, and you want my new number, go to:

http://jesseross.com/123-456-7890

But replace 123-456-7890 with my current number and you’ll be lead to a page with my new number.