About chrisglick

Former English professor in Japan, current electrical engineer. Strida owner.

Two Brazilian Movies

Three weeks back I watched Elite Troop, the English title for Tropa de Elite, about BOPE, the special forces of Rio de Janeiro. It is a disturbing movie on many levels: violent crime, extrajudicial killings, pervasive corruption, citizens abused by both gangs and BOPE. Yet it is also quite interesting for many of those same points. My Brazilian friend had recommended it to me, but only recently did it show up on Amazon Prime.

Two weeks back I watched The Second Mother, which is Que Horas Ela Volta? A mother from the poor Northeast, a Nordestina, who is in fact from Pernambuco State, is a live-in maid for a wealthy São Paulo family. The arrival of the maid's daughter, however, causes various problems that reflect the employer-employee, old vs new generations, and notable Brazilian demographics. The daughter is a bit annoying, but the mother who has lived apart from her for over a decade, sending money back the whole time, ultimately chooses her own daughter over the security of her maid position.

Candlelight Vigil for Tiananmen Square Massacre, 30 Years Ago

There will be a candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen Square Massacre victims of thirty years ago when the Chinese Communist Party slaughtered many of its own citizens who wanted greater freedom. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation works to maintain awareness of Communism's horrible track record of oppression and systemic impoverishment, environmental pollution, and mass murder.

I remember watching that unfold over days and weeks while on summer vacation. Unforgettable.

No Pecan Nuts to Brazil

Around Christmas 2018, I mailed a one-pound bag of pecans, harvested from local groves, to a Brazilian friend, since he didn't know what pecans are. His wife does, but she acknowledged they are rare and costly, certainly in the country's northeast. Surely they would enjoy a bag of pecans, I thought.

Mail to Brazil is slow, often a few weeks, but my friend says the Brazilian postal system is reliable, if slow. He says they have never lost or stolen anything. I expected delays because of Christmas and other seasonal holidays as well as a Brazilian postal workers' strike. But March came without the pecans showing up, so we gave up.

Around May 1st, almost a half year later, the pecans returned to me. They bag had been opened for inspection and a pamphlet inserted, written in Spanish, about what is prohibited entry into Brazil by Vigiagro, Vigilância Agropecuária Internacional. I had checked with the USPS about whether nuts could be sent to Brazil and got a definite maybe, so I decided, Why not? And now I know.

What I found particularly interesting is the forbidden items pamphlet in Spanish, not English, the international language of business. I find it odd that Brazil's Vigiagro has no English forms; however, since Brazil's neighbors and, probably, majority trading partners are nearly all Spanish-speaking, maybe there is no real reason for such forms in English.

Next time, like Ghostbusters, I'll know who to call.

The Kobe Hotel

Yesterday I went to tutor my student, but her mother's phone service had gotten cut, which meant the student's did too. The school kept texting but never got answers. When the student's family regained phone service, they all got new phone numbers but neglected to inform the school, until 5 minutes before the tutoring was to begin.

Having arrived early, and not knowing about the aborted tutoring session, I walked to BookStop, a used bookstore on hipster 4th. I picked up an old paperback of Catch 22, which I have neither read nor seen. Wandering the aisles, a spine for The Kobe Hotel caught my eye, because my first wife was from Kobe and I had thus visited the city many times. I had never heard of Saitou Shinki, who was a leader in charting a new course for haiku in the post-Taishou prewar years.

Though it seemed a bit pricey at $6.50 for a rather slim volume, the vignettes from his life in the hotel on Tor Road, which I have walked in places a number of times, are quite engaging and often touching. I look forward to the haiku that fill the latter third of the book.

Judging a Science Contest

On Wednesday the 27th, I volunteered as a judge for an 8th grace science contest at Imago Dei Middle School. There were three groups for whom my input was particularly important. One involved people's fear of robots, another involved human-powered electricity generation, and the last involved crown gall, a bacterial infection of plants. I also talked with two girls who did a presentation on aromatherapy (lavender and peppermint) and relaxation.

All the kids did a good job, and I enjoyed judging. It was interesting to see what the students put on their posters versus what they had to say about their projects.

This project, Your Own Electricity, was done by a group of three young men who went through five different generators in an attempt to charge a cellphone.

"Your Own Electricity" Science Project

This project, Crown Gall, was about a bacterial infection of plants and was a solo project. Unfortunately for the student, someone who had a collection of crown gall-infected roses never delivered them to her, so she wasn’t able to perform her experiments.

"Crown Gall" Science Contest

The final project, Robotics, mainly involved building and programming two kit robots, but the two young men who did this researched who fears their possible future robot overlords.

"Robotics" Science Contest

Everyone did a good job, but I regret that I didn't spend more time at others' presentations.

Flash Flushed

This past weekend I finally removed Flash. Adobe has declared that Flash will die this year or next, so I decided to get it done now. It's somewhat sad, as I liked the Flash panoramas, and I had some hope of playing with a Flash to do what could be done with QuickTime in LiveStage Pro. However, it died a long time ago, too,