Thursday, March 24, 2011

On multinational marriages

My significant other and I are of different nationalities, and a while ago we made the decision to tie the knot. It has been quite complicated to make many aspects of our relationship work given that our situation has usually consisted of us being foreigners in a third country. With me being Brazilian and my fiancée being Mexican, we thought marrying in one of our countries would be nice. Our plan for the Spring/Fall (in the southern hemisphere, where I'm from, seasons are in reverse) was for us to go to Brazil, where I expected to take a vacation, and get married there. It turns out, marrying in Latin countries is an exercise in patience with inane bureaucracy. In Brazil, you need to bring birth certificates and official statements that you are not married (like these documents are not easily forged). The stupidity of this is illustrated in the flowchart below:

If you are a foreigner, you need to "legalize" these documents in the main Brazilian consulate of your country of origin, so if you are not there when you decide to marry out of your own country, as must be the case for at least one participant in the process, good luck getting back to the old bureaucracy. Now it gets even more interesting, because in Mexico, prior to bringing these documents to the consulate, they require you to validate them in no less than three Mexican public offices, in two different cities. This is the pinnacle of stupidity. Just so you can appreciate the scale of the problem (locally), I illustrate a map of Mexico connecting the two states in question. You can see that they are fairly close, as far as Mexico is laid out, and yet, obtaining the documents and the rubber stamps to just get started, one is expected to travel more than one thousand kilometers, twice!

On the other hand, in the United States, the couple needs to come to the county building wielding passports, and swear that they are not drunk, closely related, and not currently married elsewhere. God bless America!
As I get more irritated with this situation, I might update this post with more diagrams.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dirty Country

I know it has been a while been a while since I last posted, given my current search for permanent faculty positions and drive to publish as much as humanly possible, I have not had a lot of time to write decently here. Nevertheless, today I felt inspired by a incredibly funny documentary about an American country singer that writes dirty songs. This guy is very good to take somebody out of the blues. Meet, Larry Pierce:

His exploits are chronicled in the documentary Dirty Country, the trailer is embedded below:

Netflix (correctly may I add) guessed that after watching the Winnebago Man documentary. That is another documentary I highly recommend.

This series of movies, believe me or not, is what makes me still believe in the future potential of America and Americans. If more people like the ones in these movies took an interest in steering this country, without the religious zealotry and the microcephalic politicking, they might have a shot at seeing the end of the 21st century as they were in the 40s.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My first official symposium

The remainder of last week and one day of the weekend, I went to DC once again. This time, however, I went there to chair the first event organized primarily by myself and my colleague Jean. Although the whole affair was quite stressful up until this point, I do not think that main burden was the volume of work, but rather, the fact that I must have been on top of all the deadlines, get people to submit papers, get the program committee to review them, and then find and secure enough attendants both in terms of invited speakers and paper authors.

In this particular event, I also had to be on top of my game, as it was the one in which I proposed to my beloved Ana.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Intrepid NYC

The final major destination that my brother and I decided to take was New York City. I have to confess that I am not as impressed by New York as I was with London. Naturally, my own preference for the British is probably going to place me in potential trouble in this country, but what the hell, NYC is a dirtier and less organized version of London. My digressive rants aside, the last time I went to New York did not allow me time to really plan and go to the places I thought would be cool, so this time, my brother and I managed to plan some really cool places to visit. One of the main ones was the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier turned museum (since this is all carriers are condemned to be)

From USS Intrepid

The other interesting place we went was atop the Empire State Building, and I have to say that NYC looks a lot better at night and from a high altitude. We stayed with a friend of my brother's and my experience with NYC this time was a lot more interesting, since I managed to hook up with my project mates from CUNY, as well as visit the city with a lot more time.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meeting Old Friends in DC

My incursion to DC meant not only visiting old places like the White House, but also meeting friends that I have not met in over ten years. It does make me feel a little older, but at least it is nice to see that there is people that also shared my past in this country.

From White House

So, although I am not religiously inclined, I managed to find Viviane, a girl with whom my brother and I went to first communion with. At least one may say that the Catholic church serves not only to create scandals, but to connect people.

From White House

Monday, October 18, 2010

Washington DC

After working hard for most of the year, my brother's visit to the United States provided me with an excuse to do some tourism within the country. After he was done visiting Pittsburgh, we headed to the nation's capital Washington DC. My personal goal in DC was to visit the main Smithsonian museums along the National Mall.

From Washington DC

On our first night in DC, however, we decided to take some night shots from the Capitol building. As this is the American counterpart of our own public whorehouse, I felt it deserved the night rather than the daylight like I did more than five years ago. To be honest, my own personal architectural appetite is more for the neoclassic than for the modernist, so I did not feel the need to mock the building as I have done back in Brazil, even though the level of shenanigans is about the same in both buildings (though thanks to Brazil's smaller profile and military, the tropical corruption has not killed millions of people, yet).

From National History Museum

The next day we dedicated entirely to museums, and though Ana did not want to follow us into the nerdvana of the Air and Space Museum, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the best that the American technocracy of the 60s has brought about. It is indeed sad that the country that focused the technology to take a man to the moon is now subconsidering engineers so much. Of course, it was not the Americans who really invented the technology, since everything was based on research conducted by (and mostly implemented by) Germans plundered after the war (whose Nazi connections were providentially forgotten).

From Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

In a break from my recent intense work schedule I managed to visit the Renaissance Festival that has been organized in the Pittsburgh area. Organizing this outing was a gauntlet in itself, since it seems everybody wanted to go but nobody could agree on a date. In the end, only two people besides me and Ana ended up going (from a crowd of more than 10). In any event, I thought it would be interesting to see how an american version of this kind of event would look like, since I have attended a pretty elaborate one in my last days back in England.

From Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

My feeling was that the american version was interesting and fun, but the feeling of artificiality was very hard to miss. Although some of the events in the Pittsburgh renaissance festival were genuinely fun like the fire eater (video below), and the wenches were really hilarious (image above), the actual renaissance/medieval activity was quite obviously staged. That was in stark contrast to the Joust I saw in London last year. For starters we had Fabio as the "King's Champion", followed by people jumping out of horses when struck by a lance that did not even splinter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

London, London

From Back to London

After more than a year away, London has called me back. In fact, what called me to London was a conference, which I was more than glad to attend given how much I miss the greatest city in the world. I have missed not only the people and the sights of London, but also the smaller things, like my favourite shops and supermarkets, good tea and my beloved museums.
How sad is it that I now watch from Waterloo Bridge, with foreboding longing to be back to this city, the gleaming statue atop St Pauls, the dull colours of the British Parliament and its clock tower. Today is a perfect day to look at the sights provided by this bridge, as the often elusive sun shines on the water of the Thames and I watch and follow the bustle of people walking down Waterloo bridge.

From Back to London

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Best Shill Review for a Book Ever

While reading a book review that turned out to be total astroturfing I quickly followed other reviews of this book and found this masterpiece of irony:

Super Principia Mathematica was better than my wedding, better than watching my first son born, better than the time I had sexual intercourse with an entire college cheerleading squad while high on peyote.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Three Dee Wee

With the relatively recent invasion of 3D video, gimmicky additions to silly videos have abounded. Even Youtube seems to have surrendered to it, giving one all sorts of options as to how you can watch a 3D video. And so I have tried, since I have recently got a pair of those glasses for free after visiting the Coca Cola Museum in Atlanta. As an aside about that museum, what a lame sample of Brazilian soft drinks in their museum. I mean, Iced Tea?! That is most definitely not the most Brazilian of drinks. Guaraná would have been a lot more Brazilian, but they chose to put is as a Paraguayan soft drink (which tastes exactly like the differently-named Coca-Cola branded guaraná they sell in Brazil, i.e. like crap).

From Atlanta

Of course, anything that is given for free must have some kind of limitation. And it turns out that the glasses they give at the Coke museum are of the cinema type, fancy, yet useless to watch the 3D from Youtube. And watching David Mitchell's podcast (or Youtube video) required me to have the less fancy ones. I might have to make my own glasses, crappy as they may turn out to be.