Dancing With the Devil in the City of God
By Juliana Barbassa
This is the forty-eighth book that I have read this year, towards my goal to average reading a book a week for the entire year, which I totally blew away last year.
Juliana Barbassa is a journalist that was born in Brazil but spent many years growing up in Iraq where her father worked for the Brazilian State Oil Company. They returned to Brazil but her father’s career would take her to Houston. After 20 years she moved back to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in 2010 to witness the city and the country as it prepared for the 2014 World Cup and ultimately the 2016 Olympic Games. Barbassa gives a great history of the city and country including the military dictatorship that ruled for 20 years and what has happened since so called democracy took over. She covers everything from politics, to the police, the gang wars, urban renewal, how it is to be a business owner in the country and the environment.
After reading this book those living in countries such as the United States should have a better appreciation for our quality of life compared to Brazil. That is not to say that Brazil does not have some wonderful people, some of whom I had to the opportunity to work with last year. However, it is clear after reading this book that the country, and especially Rio de Janeiro, has some serious problems it still needs to work on. Also, for all those that whine about how hard it is to be in business in the United States, read that book and appreciate how good it is here compared to there. While it may not be impossible to run a business in Rio it definitely is not for the faint of heart.
However, while you can take heart in how we are better off we still have skeletons in our closet, especially when it comes to Urban Renewal and how it was run from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, and in various cases the way some projects still happen.
Overall the book is an excellent read and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to see what Rio de Janeiro is doing to get ready for the Olympics, its history, and the current conditions that residents face in the city. It is also a great book to inspire some soul searching on the mistakes we have made in the past and how we can do better in the future.
This book gets an A.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
|English: football goal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Most people know what writer's block is but what is goal block? Well it is actually the same thing except in this case you have a difficult time getting your goals down on paper. I went through this in the last week as I put together my goals for the month of September. There are several things I am looking to accomplish this month but putting down in goals proved to be difficult so therefore I went back to basics.
I previously said that goals need to be specific, written down, have a time line, and be realistic. I also have written that you need to have long range goals, medium range goals and short range goals and that the short and medium range goals should lead up to your long range goals. The difficulty was trying to write the goals so that they would be specific enough to create a good goal.
After several failed attempts at creating goals I finally decided to throw everything I had written and go back to the basics and look at my long range and medium range goals to see where I currently stand on them, what I can do in the next month to move toward those goals and what I other activities I must get done. I also had to take into the account the amount of time I would have over the next month to accomplish these goals.
By going back to the basics and knowing what I needed to accomplish I was able to set good goals for the month of September. This allowed me to set my goals for this week and for each day of the week so I am prepared for the month.
If you are having trouble setting goals for a particular month, week, or day go back to the basics, look a your long range and medium range goals, think about what you need to accomplish this month that sets you on track and if necessary do something that lets you clear your mind and come back at it again later so that your mind is clear and you can set goals that you will achieve.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
|Animated map showing German and Axis allies' conquests in Europe throughout World War II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I have always enjoyed alternate reality stories and a few years ago I started reading a variety of fiction about alternative realities. After reading a few books from one of the more popular authors of alternative history Harry Turtledove I wanted to read more from other authors and while searching Amazon the book "If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternative Scenarios of World War II" and decided to take look at it so I rented it from the library.
The first thing I discovered about the book is that it was not an alternative history book but a book about alternate scenarios that could have happened in World War II. Fortunately I also am a fan of history so the book proved to be an interesting read. The book is 284 pages plus a couple of pages of information about the different authors of the book. Most of the writers are professors so the book can truly be considered an academia book.
Second, the book title is extremely misleading since it really does have little to do if the Allies had fallen. There is only two sections of the book that talk about what would have happened if Germany had won the war. The first was the most confusing which takes place about half way through the book when one of authors discusses one possible scenario and then in the last paragraph gives an alternate history like it had really happened. The second section is the final 12 pages of the book that discuss certain scenarios that could have seen a German win in the war but most of prefaced saying that they were extremely unlikely.
One of the most interesting scenarios in the book discusses D-day and when the invasion should have happened but did not. It really gives an interesting light to the politics going on in Great Britain at the time and shows some of their motives.
Another aspect of the book that is interesting is the authors take on the situation in Japan. There will always be the controversy about whether the Japanese were ready to surrender or not and whether the dropping of the bomb was really necessary. The authors do a good job of showing both sides of the argument and the motivations behind each side but without passing judgement so you can make up your own mind which side is true.
Because it is an academia book it is a more tedious read although not terrible. Despite the flaws and the misleading title I give the book 4 stars because it does give an excellent run down of World War II and what could have happened during the war.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
|English: Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As I mentioned in my post about the goals for next year, last year I read a total of 87 books after after seeing a posting from speaker and friend Rich Hopkins that he was going to try to read a book a week and decided to do the same.
My reading list included fiction, urban planning and design, motivational/self-help, business, history, biographies and politics. The fiction category comprised mainly of Star Trek books and the Tomorrow, When the War Began series which is a Australian version of Red Dawn but because they comprise a seven book series are much more details and character development than the Red Dawn movies.
Except for the Star Trek books most of which I purchased since they are not available in our local library, all the books I read came from the Multnomah County Library.
Here is a listing of the books by category:
Category/Title Author: Recommended?
The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman Yes
Barefoot Executive Carrie Wilkerson Yes
Raising Positive Kids Zig Ziglar Yes
Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill Yes
The Millionaire Next Door Tom Stanley/William Danko Yes
Be the Miracle Regina Brett Yes
Hijacked By Your Brain Julian Ford, Jon Wortmann Yes
How Full is Your Bucket? Tom Rath, Donald Clifton Yes
Life Without Limits Nick Vujivic Yes
Break Out Joel Osteen Yes
Wishes Fulfilled Wayne Dyer No
Life Reimagined Richard Leider, Alan Webber Yes
How to Win Friends and Influence... Dale Carnegie and others Yes
100 Ways to Motivate Yourself Steve Chandler Yes
How Successful People Think John Maxwell Yes
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind T. Harv Ecker No
E-Squared Pam Grout Yes
The Butterfly Effect Andy Andrews Yes
Better Than Good Zig Ziglar Yes
Outliers Malcolm Gladwell No
Relentless Tim Grover Yes
Power of Your Subconscious Mind Joseph Murphy Yes
The Purpose Driver Life Rick Warren Yes
Instant Influence Michael Plantalon Yes
Drive Daniel Pink Yes
Finding A Way to Win Bill Parcells Yes
Top Performance Zig Ziglar Yes
Take The Lead Betsy Meyers Yes
Motivation Manifesto Brendan Burchard Yes
Get Motivated Tamara Lowe Maybe...
Daybreak Zero John Barnes No
From History's Shadow Dayton Ward Only for Star Trek Fans
The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms Dayton Ward Yes
Voyager: Protectors Kristen Beyer Only for Star Trek Fans
No Time Like the Past Greg Cox No
Tomorrow When the War Began:
Tomorrow When the War Began John Marsden Yes
The Dead of Night John Marsden Yes
A Killing Frost John Marsden Yes
Darkness Be My Friend John Marsden Yes
Burning For Revenge John Marsden Yes
The Night is for Hunting John Marsden Yes
The Other Side of Dawn John Marsden Yes
Zoned Out Jonathon Levine Only to Planning Nerds
Planning a New West Abbott, Abbott, and Adler Yes
Ethical Land Use Timothy Beatley No
Planning and Diversity in the City Ruth Fincher, Kurt Iveson No
Planning With Complexity Judith Innes No
Portland Edge Various No
The Seaside Debates Robert Davis, Tod Bressi, Yes
American Urban Form Warner, Whittemore Yes
Living Over the Store Howard Davis Yes
Principles of Ecological Landscape
Design Travis Beck Yes
How to Study Public Life Jan Gehl, Birgitte Svarre Yes
Design for an Emphatic World Ryn, Hawken Yes
Cities for People Jan Gehl Yes
Death and Life of Great American
Cities Jane Jacobs Yes
Walkable City Jeff Speck Yes
Urban Design Cuesta, Moughtin, Moughtin Yes
Living Streets Bain, Gray, Rodgers Yes
Happy City Charles Montgomery Yes
Urban Design Handbook Urban Design Associates Yes
New Urban China Laurence Liauw No
Toward Sustainable Communities Various Yes
Democracy and Populism John Lukacs Yes
That Used to be Us Friedman, Mandelbaum Yes
Planet of Slums Mike Davis Yes
New American Militarism Andrew Bacevich Yes
To Serve God and Wal-Mart Bethany Moreton Yes
The Metropolitan Revolution Bruce Katz, Jennifer Bradley Yes
Bowling Alone Robert Putnam Yes
Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida Yes
Collapse Jared Diamond Yes
The Elusive State of Jefferson Peter Laufer Yes
Convention Center Follies Heywood T. Sanders Yes
Retail 101 Nicole Reyhle, Jason Prescott Yes
Supply Chain Strategy Edward Frazelle Yes
Retail Doctors Guide to Growing
Your Business Bob Phibbs Yes
They Got it Wrong: History Emma Marriott Yes
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Walter Isaccson Yes
Jim Henson Brian Jay Jones Yes
Thomas Jefferson John Meacham Yes
Albert Einstein Yes
Elizabeth Smart Elizabeth Smart Yes
Neil Armstrong Jay Barbree Yes
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos
and the Age of Amazon Brad Stone Yes
Steve Jobs: The Man who Thought
Different Karen Blumenthal Yes
Frontiers Past and Future Carl Abbott Yes
Sorry about the formatting but it is a Blogger thing.
It should also be noted that while I recommend all the books in the Politics/Social category I may not necessarily agree with everything that the book has to say.
I still have many books on loan to read plus I also received some for Christmas that I plan on reading soon also.
Happy Reading Everyone...
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
It is that time of the year that we start thinking about what has happened in the past year and start thinking about the new year to come. This is also the time that people think up New Years resolution's that get forgotten by January 2nd, I have already discussed the importance of setting goals and how to set them.I also talked about a good planner to keep track of what you need to be doing. Today I am going to discuss putting them together to set your yearly goals and to make plans for the year to come.
Last year I had a small planner that was about 5X7 but it just did not work out the way I wanted it to. I found that I liked to have more room to put hourly schedules in and have room for important dates. This year I purchased a planner that measures 9X12 but is still convenient to carry around. This planner is an weekly appointment book that is broken down by 15-minute intervals 7 days a week and runs from 7am to 8pm.
In addition at the there is a monthly calendar at the beginning of every month. One feature that attracted my attention to this particular planner was that both the monthly calender and the weekly appointment sections have an area for notes that I can write my goals for that month and week into and see them every day as a reminder of what I am going to accomplish. I will have to say it sometimes scary to see how fast the calendar is already filling up and we haven't hit the new year yet.
Now that I have a planner that I like that allows me to put in my monthly and weekly goals there is the job of getting the yearly goals done. As I mentioned on the posts about setting goals there are long range (life) goals, medium range goals and your yearly goals with the yearly goals set up as stepping stones to those big life or long range goals.
Last year I accomplished several of my goals a lot sooner than I had planned for which means I set the bar too low so this year I am raising that bar. For example I hit my weight loss goal by the first of September and even though I do not have that far to go I want to hit my final weight by the time I attend an importance conference from April 17th to April 21st. While this is a tight deadline it creates a challenge to overcome especially since I want to buy a nice new suite for the conferance and don't want it to be too big after a few months!
Another goal I set up was to have an update set of life goals by April 1st. While I already have a set of life goals, they should be reevaluated every few years to ensure that you are on the right track or when you have major life changes that cause you to reevaluate your priorities in life. An example using a medium range goal is that I have a picture of a Ford Raptor on my desk as it was something I wanted a few years ago. Well life has changed and that Raptor no longer appeals to me so that goal has changed.
On the other hand there is also times that you may reevaluate how aggressive you are with a goal. I have mentioned previously that I added a goal during the year to read a book a week after seeing the that my friend Rich Hopkins was doing it. Well not only did I meet the goal I blew it away by reading 87 books this past year. While I could say I want to be even more aggressive this year instead I am actually sticking with the 52 from last year. While I love to read there was times last year that reading became a choir so I am going to work on enjoying it again instead of worrying about how much I am reading.
Now is the time to get those goals in order and ready for the challenges the of the new year.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
First of all I want to wish all of you the happiest of holidays, writing this as another Christmas Eve dawns.
The other day I was asked what kinds of Christmas traditions have we started with our family since we adopted our children and it took me a while to think about it. We have tried our best to give them a good Christmas experience but what defines our family when it comes to the Christmas tradition.
I then flashed back to my earliest Christmas memory which is not one that many people would want to remember. It was the Christmas after I had turned six years old and I spent most of the Christmas season at La Vina hospital which included having surgery. I was suffering from double phenomena, had fluid in my lungs, bronchitis and other things wrong we me and wasn't expected to live (fooled them...). But that set up what would become a Christmas tradition when the hospital allowed me to go home and decorate the Christmas tree.
Every year after that the decorating of our Christmas tree became a family tradition, Then after having worked retail for several years, my Christmas spirit was largely gone as I would often see the worst that our society had to offer. People pulling guns on each other to get the some poorly made piece of junk VCR that wouldn't last six months because it was made extra cheaply to be sold cheaply for Black Friday, people at the doors after we closed on Christmas Eve blaming us that their childrens's Christmas would be ruined because we closed and so on.
However, despite that there was still treasured memories including that cause you to truly remember which ironically usually involved when you give to others including the year that we worked at a homeless shelter making Christmas dinners and giving to organizations that help others during this time of year.
But now, as a father I can once again see the better part of Christmas. Of course we do our best that our children truly understand the true meaning of Christmas but in today's over commercialized world it is not always easy. What is something that we can do that will given them that precious memory that lasts a life time? Most of the time those memories are something that happen by chance, not something that is planned.
One minor thing that we started doing is to go look at Christmas lights on either Christmas day or Christmas Eve. Because I have to get up early on Friday this year we are going out tonight. They even get a bigger thrill because we allow them to go out in pajamas and bathrobes when we take the drive.
What are your special memories of the holidays?
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and create some special memories.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
|DSC_0022.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
There is times that we seem to go through certain activities in our day that become so routine that we often don't think about them. Then comes a day that not only changes that so common routine but also has a major impact on your life. It is a day that you think about what is most important in life, makes you think about those who are most important to you, and may have an impact on your very future. Yesterday was one of those days for me and it started first thing in the morning.
At least three, and usually four or five a days a week I head to the Portland Community College track and exercise as it is just a short walk down a trail from where I live. I arrived at the track at about 5:30 and was about to start my first walk around the track when I noticed something laying along the track about a quarter around from where I start. At first I thought it might be some garbage that was dragged there by the neighborhood foxes or coyotes that live in the area but as I got closer I realized it was a person lying on the ground.