Friday, May 27, 2005

Ready for a roadtrip

I'm getting ready for my second actual roadtrip since I have arrived in the US. The first one took me to St. Louis and it was fun. Now I'm heading to Oregon, starting by the coast, passing by where they filmed "The Goonies" and then moving inland to the wineries and the mountains. The only problem is that it is a pretty big holiday right now and lots of things are going on. This means: probably it won't be that easy to find a hotel for a reasonable price. But it also means that there will be a lot of things to do! I should be passing by Eugene, where the Oregon Bach Festival is taking place, maybe Crater Lake...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The reason for the rain

Today I found out why the weather is so rainy here in Seattle (although I don't think it's that bad - Sao Paulo isn't much better in this sense): when the sky is blue it is just breathtaking - if it was this way all year long nobody would work! Today out of my office window I could see the Olympic Mountains with their snowy peaks behind a wonderful blue sky and the Puget Sound. When driving back home (yes, I had my car today, because I took it this morning for an oil change), just facing me was Mt. Rainier, a big cone of ice in the middle of nothing else. I was happy there were no trafic accidents because of people admiring the view.

Besides all this, not much is going on. I'm getting ready for a long weekend, when I'll do a road trip to Oregon, probably starting at the coast, passing through the wineries, then the mountains and coming back... Pretty cool!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Overhelping the internet

The internet as being a cheap medium to present your ideas, became also a cheap place to get people's ideas. Everywhere you go you are asked many questions about if you like the content, what would you make to change it, are you an expert to fix it? It is interesting, but after some time I started to think it is a little too confusing. Reading the news is not only like reading the news, but you are encouraged to rate the article you've read. On the Amazon side, buying something is not only like just buying it, but you feel like you should rate it to help other people decide.

It all comes back to cost. Some people think it's a win-win situation, just like reality TV, where you get some random people and put them through something odd. You don't have to pay actors, you don't have to write scripts, you don't have to do anything; and even with all this cheapness, people still like to watch the programs.

However, I'm personally tired of it. I was tired of reality TV since its inception, but now I'm tired of internet feedback. I am tired of people delegating to others the pain of doing things and then making the money out of it. I think there is a limit to how you should waste people's time online, and I think that we have passed this limit.

Thus, I'm starting a campaign right now of: do not waste your time posting feedbacks on commercial websites. If they want quality, let them pay for it!

PS: A blog is not a commercial website. You can still post comments here and I won't make money out of them.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


No, it's raining here... The title does not reflect the weather in Seattle right now, but it is a lead-in to an interesting article I glanced through today: Scientists Say Sunshine May Prevent Cancer. Basically what they found out is that Vitamin D, the one that is supposed to make your bones stronger, also may help on preventing and fighting cancer. But what is the interesting part in all this? Is that if you use sunscreen you block most of the production of Vitamin D. Their theory then is that it might be better to have skin cancer that kills way less people than the other cancers that Vitamin D can help cure, like colon cancer.

Who knows what might actually happen with all this, but it will be an interesting study. I feel for the sunscreen companies that right now are preparing to publish long studies on how dangerous skin cancer is...

Oh, no! I saw lightning!

Only going and living in many places in the world that you will start to understand things that seem very normal to you might be not that normal. This week I learned one more thing: thunderstorms! There was one here on Thursday. A tiny one, actually, but there was lightning. And I saw people deeply concerned and genuinely scared of it! It was very strange!

I lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, most of my life, as most of you know. And we have thunderstorms all the time there. Then I moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA for almost 4 years and thunderstorms are pretty common there too (some really big ones too!). Then I moved here to Seattle and, although they say it rains a lot (yes, it does rain around here, but it's far from what I would consider "a lot"), it seems like it's very rare to have a thunderstorm. And when they get one it seems like the world is going to end.

And this same effect is seen on my Californian friends, so it seem like California is another place that doesn't see thunderstorms that often.

This reminded me of a number that I heard a while ago: Brazil is the country with the most lightning activity in the world, and the place where most people die because of lightning. When living in Oklahoma I saw evidence that these numbers might be wrong, but now I see that this is something that only happens in the midwest and the numbers start to make sense again.

Anyway, besides fighting with lightning, I haven't done much... Just worked a lot. This week I was so tired that on Friday I got home and at 8 pm I was sleeping on my bed! Hopefully next week it will be better!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Yes, I know I'm a bad blogger

Here I am again to talk about nothing at all. Lately I just have been working and solving many fire drills around here. Besides that life pretty much does not exist. The only thing I think I have to talk about is how I hate Murphy's Law. Yesterday I decided that I was too tired and I should leave at around 9:10 pm. So I started wrapping things up and left a little later than I should have left, something like 2 minutes after the time that I would need to get the bus. But I wasn't too worried, because the bus is usually 5 minutes late anyway.

However, as Murphy would have predicted, the bus was 1 minute early yesterday and I missed it! I then went back to my office and this time I planned to get to the stop at least 5 minutes early. What happened? The bus was 10 minutes late and I waited 15 minutes in the bus stop for it.

But, hey, I got some exercise and some work done! :-)

Tonight I don't think I'll last much longer here. But I will go home and study for my training tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It was my birthday

Yes, Monday was my birthday and I'm realizing that I'm getting more and more alone in this world. It's not that nobody called me or sent me emails, it's just that I've realized that I've been ignoring my friends for too long. I said I planned to email them more often, but it's not happening as much as I wanted. Most of the reason is that I just haven't had much private time lately. And this is slowly killing me, but bound to change soon.

Maybe that's why when I opened my gold box (in Amazon - yes, they bought it back!), I received the following book suggestions:

Final Gifts : Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Who Dies? : An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

Sacred Passage : How to Provide Fearless, Compassionate Care for the Dying
Invisible Acts of Power : Personal Choices That Create Miracles

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: The Spiritual Classic & International Bestseller; Revised and Updated Edition

Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness

Very creepy...

Anyway, thank you for everybody that wished me a happy birthday. I am going to be replying to your emails personally during the next days.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Well, during Mother's day it is difficult to think of anything besides family. I just called home and my whole family is there having a great barbecue, while I'm here home alone. But one more thing made me think of family this weekend. I went to a Bar-Mitzvah yesterday. There are very few things in the Jewish life that is more powerful as a family event than a Bar Mitzvah. Maybe one of them is a wedding, but it is a little debatable. Wedding means that someone is leaving the house and starting a new house.

Maybe the Bris could be more family-oriented... I don't know, I don't remember ever going to any.

One of the conversations yesterday made me remember what is still my professional dream: a paperless world. I know I have bothered my readers with this view of the world already in the past, but yesterday someone mentioned that she wanted to change her office to a paperless office (she is a lawyer) and I was amazed with myself when I said that there are some things you can do, but there are things that you just can't yet. I started with the discussion of how it is still complicated to deal with current technology, but there are a couple of things that could be done, like scanning documents to PDF. PDF is a pretty stable technology, although Adobe keeps adding new features to it, mostly related to digital signatures and security.

What I think is still missing? An easy way to distribute and organize this information. Things should be as easy as "hand me the paper" or else it won't work. Sure email is faster than normal internal mail, but a lot of business is still done face-to-face and this technology is still lagging.

But I'm optimistic. I think that most companies are actually realizing this problem and working towards solutions. Integration is a challenge, but that's why I still have to go and open my own company to do this! :-)

Oh, before I forget, I have to talk about the most stupid thing I've seen done by a well-known company in a long time: Google's Web Accelerator. C|Net has a good article about it. Some people claim it is a good idea, it is a bold move by Google to have one of the most precious pieces of information that Google is still missing to improve search relevancy: click through information. Google is betting that they can deal with the bandwidth necessary for it. But beyond these interesting details, the idea is ridiculous. Websites are moving towards more and more personalization, if Google decides to be a proxy of all this information, personalization is dead. Web ads are also dead, because Google would cache them and they would be, for the advertiser, as if it was clicked only once. And this doesn't even get into the whole thing of the crawler deleting information or serving private information to other people.

If this can be fixed? Well, only Google will tell. I don't think so, but maybe they just don't care about it. Powerful companies that have the motto of "Do no good" end up just making people accept it and learn how to deal with it. Maybe it's the new Kirkland office that is making Google have some Microsoft-like ideas.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


It's sad to see that this blog is becoming a weekly thing, instead of anything more constant. It may not be sad to you, my dear rare reader, but it feels sad to me, because I do still go to my Firefox and open all the blogs I have bookmarked at once every day. My blog is the first to appear just for me to check if anybody left me a comment, but I always see the same last post and 0 comments. As most of you know, I dread "sameness"...

Anyway, now for business: yesterday I passed by a Mac store and saw the new Tiger. My impression from a person that does not use a Mac and didn't have that much time to play around with it: it is really nice looking. Spotlight is very cool, and their videoconferencing is also very nice. If you want more information about these features, this is a very good (and a little biased) article.

What else did I do yesterday? I walked a lot and saw more nice things about Seattle. It is a very nice looking city. Things tend to be a little hidden, but there are lots of things going on all the time!

Last week, besides working, I was asked to provide a finer table of one of my articles. It is nice to see people really paying attention to what I did during my research years. Surely it was a little sad that they asked for something that wasn't really related to the mainline of my research, but what can I do if I can't find time to finish my ultimate paper?

Alright, time to get back to cleaning here. Bad thing about walking too much yesterday is that I didn't have time to do much else. Oh, yes, I watched The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! They really made deep modifications to the original plot in the book, but it was nice. Many fun parts were still there! A must for anybody that likes funny geeky movies (well, the book is much better, of course, but I don't expect people to have much time to read anymore - they are too bothered by ringing cell phones!)!