Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All I want for Christmas ...

After months of daily wiggling and several failed attempts at manual removal, along with Christian's steadfast resistance to my overtures with a pair of pliers, the dentist finally resolved the issue quickly and (relatively) painlessly. She had originally preferred to try and wait the teeth out, give them a chance to fall out naturally, as the teeth underneath pushed them out. They endured stubbornly, however, and the new teeth have been pushing in behind. Yesterday, she finally gave in, and with a shot of anesthetic, extracted them forcefully.

Christian didn't complain; and he was happy with the "medicine" she prescribed for treatment while his gums were still sensitive: ice cream!

Under Construction - November Update

It's been a while since I've done an update on the construction progress; theoretically, according to the original schedule, our project should be just about done (if you don't know what I'm talking about, the first post on the subject is here). Construction began in August, so as of next week we'll be into the third month; but since we added several items to the original project, we are now looking at a timeframe that runs until early December. Also, the soggy weather which has played havoc with our health and my tennis playing, has taken a toll on the construction's impetus.

The house is not done, but it's pretty close. Here's a pic of its current state:

Just for reference, here's what our yard looked like "before", from almost the same perspective:

(The tent wasn't a permanent fixture ... just a product of that day's particular diversion!)

Here's another view:

And here's an inside view:

"Bungalow" is the best word I can find to describe what we are building. We have a hard time explaining to people why we are building "another house" in our yard. I've elaborated in previous posts that this structure will be my office (since I'm now working out of my home), and an extended family room and guest house. This term, however, is misleading, because conceptually, the new space is nothing more than a detached extension to our current home. It was the best solution we managed to encounter to increase our living space, short of moving or demolishing our current house and starting over. More importantly, it was also the solution that best attended our current financial considerations.

At the moment, construction is underway of the covered patio / barbecue and bathroom that will integrate the swimming pool area with this "bungalow". This was one of the changes ... along with the addition of a "kitchenette"... to the original project, thus making the bungalow more self-sufficient. We also will have quite a bit of landscaping to do once construction has finished, to try and recover some of the greenery that has been lost.

As the project comes to fruition, our initial qualms have being steadily allayed. While the overall layout will be unconventional, our impression is that it will attend our necessities well. In the future, when the kids are older and more desirous of privacy, it can be transformed into two external bedrooms for them (assuming I consent to give up my office!).

I've also updated the gallery that shows the construction progress from the back, here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Brazilian Naval Museum

I've been going over my backlog of pictures that I've been meaning to post to the gallery. Most are of daytrips around Rio de Janeiro with the family ... which give me a chance to talk a little about Rio's history or natural wonders, as well as show off my kids to family and friends! Some day I plan to build a blog/picture index, and these can make up a "tourism" section.

But this has exposed a major structural flaw in my gallery: since I'm creating albums by month (usually), if I post older pictures, which are new posts, to their appropriate date album in the gallery, they will be lost in the "chatter". So, until I think up a better way to organize the gallery, I am opting to post them to the latest month, which will now represent the "post date", and not (necessarily) the date the pictures were taken ...

Of course it would have been a lot more practical just to post a quick blog entry with the pictures back when they were actually taken ... but, I'm a chronic procrastinator so this will have to do!

I'll start out with pictures from the Brazilian Naval Museum, on Sept. 11 of this year; then, every once in a while I'll post another backlog picture entry until I get through them all.


Sunday, Sept. 11, was another one of those "gotta get the kids out of the house!" days. (Actually I completely forgot that it was the anniversary of 9/11 ... probably the first time in four years that I've done that. Not that that would have had any relevance to our programming...)

After running down the list of possible family activities in Rio de Janeiro, we settled on one of our staples ... the Brazilian Naval museum, in downtown Rio (yes! Brazil has a Navy!). Actually, it's more of a group of museums-- a cultural center / musem complex. The highlights are a recently decomissioned submarine and a World War II Destroyer Escort that you can actually tour. You can also go on a tour around Guanabara bay in a refurbished WW I tugboat.

Needless to say, as illustrated by the photo below, the "kids" love running around the submarine and destroyer, and playing with the periscope and the destroyer's big 40 mm guns:

The destroyer is the Bauru; actually a cannon class Destroyer Escort built in New Jersey in 1943 and comissioned as DE 179 , USS McAnn. It was transferred to Brasil in 1944 before the end of the war, and operated (with a Brazilian crew) during the war in support of troop transport and patrol missions. A lot of Americans don't realize that Brazil was a an Ally in WW II, and actually sent combat troops to Europe (especially Italy). Somehow it gained a reputation for harboring Nazis ... probably because, like in Argentina and Paraguay, a lot of Germans --including Nazis-- moved here after the war (probably the most high-profile Nazi to take refuge under a false identity in Brazil was Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death" of Auschwitz. He died in 1979, but his true identity wasn't revealed until 1985.) Brazil has (and had before the war) a large German population, so it was a natural destination for migrant Germans seeking to start a new life somewhere outside Europe. The culture, accent and even appearance (fair skin, blond hair, blue eyes) of Brazilians in the south of Brazil show the tremendous influence that German immigrants had on the Brazilian population.

Anyway, the Destroyer Escort Bauru served in the Brazilian Navy until 1982. It's now anchored at Pra├ža XV as a full-fledged floating museum, with informational exhibits, historical artifacts and WW II memorabilia. And some really cool guns too.

The submarine is the Riachuelo, an Oberon class sub built in England in 1973. It was deactivated in 1997 and transformed into a museum. It's anchored right beside the Bauru, in the water. You can go through it, from one end to the other; the periscope works and you can actually twist it around and scope out the harbor from underwater! The torpedo tubes and engine room are really cool, and you get a sense of what it must feel like to spend days or weeks in such cramped quarters deep beneath the sea.

The pictures can be seen here.