Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hello Buzios

Tomorrow (Sunday) I pack my bags and head for the beach - the beaches of Buzios and Cabo Frio to be exact. It has been about 5 years since my last stay, and I am curious to see what changes have happened.

Buzios is town of approximately 25,000 residents that stretches out along the tip of a hilly peninsula. The beautiful town is approximately 2.5 hours drive from Rio de Janeiro and a popular destination for many Brasilians during their summer. I´ll be staying at the Casas Brancas - hopefully I´ll concur with the many strong endorsements found on TripAdvisor.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ann Coulter meets karma

The NY Post is reporting that Ann Coulter´s mouth has been wired shut. I find that ironic to the point of hilarity. Ms Coulter has finally done to herself what nobody in the media has ever been able to do - shut her up. I would love someone to walk up to Hannibal lector (my temporary pet name for Ann Coulter) and ask her if she believes in karma.

Greetings from Belo Horizonte

It is approximately 10am, the sun is shining bright and the temperature is already 27C (or 80F if you prefer). The weather has been fairly steady with the days warm and sunny and the nights cooler making it more comfortable to sleep.

We have spent the time relaxing with family and visiting friends. We have also had several delicious dinners culminating in the best meal last night at Splendido. The reckless abandon I have shown since arriving in Brasil with regards to the amount of food I have eaten has already resulted in some of my shorts feeling tighter around my waist than when I first tried them on, while packing for this trip. I hope when I return home I will be able to show more discipline with going to the gym. I would hate to prematurely become a fat old man, although there can be no doubt that this will eventually happen, when I consider how much I enjoy dining.

In addition to eating virtually everything placed in front of me, I also met a young designer from Belo Horizonte who has started a company called Amazonia, but is spelled AM420NIA. I have included the company´s logo above and will share additional photos from the time spent here in Belo Horizonte, Buzios, and Sao Paolo once I return home and can download them to my PC to share.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving day, I visited the tiny town of Brumadinho to see the beautiful gardens of Inhotim and the quirky modern art exhibits housed there. This year we brought my partner´s parents. The grounds were every bit as beautiful this year and like us, his parents loved spending time there. By far, my favorite art installation remains the exhibit from the Canadian artist Janet Cardiff, 40 Part Motet. The installation is set in a sterile white room with chairs in the center. Surrounding the chairs are 40 speakers aligned in a large circle clustered in 8 separate groupings of 5 speakers set side-by-side. Each speaker represents a single voice in a church choir.

I leave Belo in two days on Sunday. The next stop on the holiday is to Buzios, a beautiful beachside town that is a two hour drive east of Rio de Janeiro. Time there will be spent visiting friends in the neighboring town of Cabo Frio where my other half once had a massive beach house and enjoying all that Buzios has to offer. The last part of this two-week tour will take place in Sao Paolo where we spend a quick two days. We will visit family that live an hour outside of downtown S.P. and spend time with our good friend Onelio "Junior" who lives in town. The days are passing quickly and before I realize it, I will be speaking of this trip in the past tense.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Boston Online

How cool... my blog is now listed on Boston Online or to be more specific the blog section of the website or to be really, really specfic in the directory of South End Blogs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

At last!

After a very long but uneventful trip I have arrived at my first destination, my partner´s family home in Belo Horizonte. Belo or B.H. as it is often referred is a very modern city of nearly 5 million inhabitants. I tend to think of it as the `Chicago´of Brasil. Last year when we visited B.H. I shared a bit of interesting history and my thoughts in my entry Beautiful in Belo.

As with my trip last year, my access to the internet will be intermittent at best but I wanted to start the trip with an acknowledgement that I have arrived. At last!

Oh yeah, and the weather is beautiful - a steady 22C at 8pm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Major work event

For the past few months I have been working diligently on a project that addresses healthcare reform. I most recently wrote about it on my blog in mid-October, "I really like what I do" and before that in September, "Work, work, work". My latest project occurred today and was broadcast today from Washington, D.C. to 12 other cities and thousands of people via webcast. The event was divided into two segments - a national broadcast and a local panel discussion.

The 45-minute national broadcast was fed via satellite and webcast to several thousand people worldwide to listen to policy experts address the impact and implications of president-elect Obama's healthcare reform plans. Following the national broadcast, each host hospital held a 1 hour "town hall" forum with a panel of local experts to address the challenges their communities face and the work that needs to happen to provide greater access, affordability and quality.

Boston's event was held at Children's Hospital Boston and despite some lingering frustrations with technical glitches in some cities, I'm both pleased with the event and relieved to talk about it in the past tense. This was the first real project I worked on from cradle-to-grave and it was far more work than anyone on my team (including myself) expected. The reward was seeing the program in action and hopefully dividends will be paid in the form of fostering new and stronger relationships with businesses, clients, and communities where this program was held. As I've mentioned in my log about my Medical Research Project, I am passionate about healthcare and believe that providing affordable quality care to everyone is a fundamental human right that is both worthwhile and attainable.

As was mentioned at today's program and has been well documented previously, the U.S. now spends more than $1 Trillion annually in healthcare so the problem is not funding a mandate that seeks to provide universal or near universal care. The challenge is identifying how to redistribute the money already in the system to be more effective and curtail future spending increases to make the system sustainable. The program today was only a first step in a journey that will require a million more no doubt but fostering serious dialog and engaging stake-holders is a good start, and I was proud to be a part of the program.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All About Christmas Eve - New Ryan Landry Play

The Gold Dust Orphans announced that the holiday show this year will be "All About Christmas Eve". Spoofing one of the best Bette Davis movies of all times.

The e-mail announcing the new show describes the program as set in Boston at Christmas time in 1950. The story starts by introducing the audience to an aging actress named Margo Channing... Well you get the story. It will be hard to out-do his summer hit Whizzin' which played both here in Boston and in Provincetown, but there is plenty of material based on the movie "All about Eve" and I have high hopes. I'll definitely be at the front of the line when the show hits "The Ramrod Performing Arts Center" at Machine at 154 Boylston Street in the Fenway.

Show Dates: December 5th - January 3rd with performances on Friday and Saturday nights only.

Tickets: $30 for general seating, cash at the door. Or $28 if purchased online at: Dial 1-866-811-4111 for more on Theatermania.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pictures from the n'hood

What seemed like a temperate fall with comfortable temperatures is all in the past. Walking around the South End this weekend it was blustery and markedly cooler than even just a few days earlier.

I purchased a new camera and wanted to test out the new toy so I spent part of my day on Sunday snapping pictures of places in the n'hood. I'll revisit by adding more photos from the neighborhood in future postings, but for now I've included a few of my favorite places: Brix, Oronoco, Union, Buttery, and two buildings that I really like - Wilkes Passage and the Ethan Allen front entrance.

Medical Research Project

Today I had another appointment at Mass General Hospital (MGH) for the medical research project I'm participating. These appoinments are now routine. Going there today, I felt like an upperclassman on a college campus. I was fully aware of where I needed to go and what was expected of me. Upon each visit I provide urine and blood samples, fill out a fairly extensive survey (about depression, my sex-drive, and physical changes to my body), and a small pellet is injected into my abdomen to prevent my body from making testosterone. This last part is always the most uncomfortable but it is hardly painful and is over in a matter of minutes.

During today's visit I also met with the nutritionist. Since the study is evaluating the degenerative affects of bone density in men with low levels of testosterone (typically a problem for the elderly who are more frail) they want to be certain that I'm getting plenty of calcium in my diet. So we spent a few minutes reviewing what I've eaten over the past month. Apparently, I'm still not getting enough calcium in my diet but in lieu of taking a supplement, I told her I'll eat more ice cream and will snack on some of my favorite cheeses. She was fine with my suggestion so I intend to keep up my part of the deal.

Despite my hectic work schedule which has resulted in a more seditary life than even I'm use to I have not really gained any weight. I still stand at 6'1" and only weigh about 3 or 4 more pounds than when I started the program back in early September (now I'm a solid 186lbs - or my winter weight as I like to refer to it despite the fact that winter is just starting).

Hopefully, my forthcoming trip to Brazil will help motivate me to be more active and when I go back to get weighed and measured at the next meeting I'll not only see a slight weight loss, but I'll finally be able to say 'yes' to a few more of the activities the nutritionist rattles off to try and determine how often I'm raising my heart rate and working out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One more Bush rant...

If I'm to believe most polls, a significant majority of the US is pleased that in January there will be a new President sworn into office. However, that knowledge is bittersweet considering how late people were to realize the complete incompetence of the current administration. (Perhaps I should not have read my recent 401k statement before creating this entry!) Reading about the severity of our economic problems in the paper and listening to the bleak news that President-elect Obama will face in 2009 really ticks me off.

Earlier this past summer President Bush was quoted when he thought he was off camera attributing the economic 'slow-down' as a "Wall Street Hangover". The press made much ado about it for about 2-minutes but when the bottom dropped out from the economy about 10-weeks later and the full impact of the "hangover" were being felt nobody bothered to go back and really question why his administration was content to do nothing. All the reporting seems to be about how the sky is falling and every crazy idea needs to be approved by Congress ASAP.

I can not seem to temper my frustration with either the Bush administration or the American public which validated his Presidency by re-electing him 2004; frankly I'm seething. Bush's cabinet of quacks (I include VP Cheney among them ), his inane economic policies which revolved around irresponsible spending and cutting any kind of government regulation (poisoned pet food, tainted children's toys from China to name a few examples - I won't even bother to address the banking deregulation which seems too obvious a target) and nepotism at the highest levels of the administration (which at its worst gave us incompetent men like Alberto Gonzalez) have all contributed to our current financial mess and it sets my blood boiling.

Recording my frustrations in this blog will not change our current situation, will not lessen the hurt this downturn in the economy will have on millions of Americans but it is cathartic so thank you for humoring me.

Silverman signs book deal

The New York Times is reporting that Sarah Silverman has closed on a book deal with HarperCollins. A release date has not been revealed but suffice it to say with everything that has happened in 2008 - the on and off nature of her relationship with Jimmy Kimmel, the love affair with Matt Damon and all the schlepping she did to Florida for Obama - she will certainly have plenty of material.

SpeakEasy Stage presents "The Seafarer"

This weekend "The Seafarer" opens in the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion. The 2008 Tony nominated play is the latest show from the SpeakEasy Stage Company and will run from November 14th - December 13th.

I hope to get a chance to see the show, but the calendar may not work in my favor. With travel plans later this week that will keep me out of Boston until the show's run is nearly complete, it seems like I might miss the play so if anyone reading this attends, please send an e-mail or leave a comment and share your thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about the SpeakEasy Stage Company or would like to purchase tickets to see The Seafarer, link to the theater company's website here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Boston ranked #1

I read on Boston Real Estate Broker's blog that Travel and Leisure's annual ranking of favorite cities named Boston America's Farvorite Destination. According to the website there was a "mighty surge of ballots" that pushed Boston over the edge. Regardless - I think it is pretty cool and it once again illustrates how Boston is closer to the top of these kind of surveys than the bottom; validating my high opinion of Boston as a great place to live.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This past March I changed jobs and although I knew work would be more challenging I did not expect it to become consuming. However, a project I've been working on which I've referenced in the past most recently in, work, work, work, has really consumed almost every waking moment for the past two months. I'm really proud of the job I've done, but I'm also very much looking forward to putting this project behind me and taking a well deserved vacation.

One week from this Saturday, I will leave on my annual trip to Brasil, and I can hardly wait. The distance and travel will help me relax and forget about work. I have always been someone who takes pride in my job and in my new role working in the healthcare sector that has never been more true. However, my greatest passions include spending time with friends and family, travelling and meeting new people, and spending time around a table enjoying food and conversation. You could say this is my holy trinity of happiness.

So with one week to go before November 20th when my firm hosts our nation-wide 12-city broadcast from Washington, D.C. and 9 days before I leave for my annual trip to Brazil I wanted to take a moment to write my thoughts, share them with the tens of readers who visit this blog :-) and count my blessings that I'm lucky enough to have a great job and the means to get away from it to relax and really enjoy what life is all about.

I can see Brazil is fast approaching and I'm excited by what I see.

9 days and counting...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Asphalt as art

One of the things that I really like about my neighborhood is that there is always something just a little bit curious happening. When I woke this morning I was surprised to see a dozen or so people across the street from my home huddled around several tables snapping pictures and engaging in some sort of silk screening process.

After watching pedestrians walk-up and talk to the industrious crew, I decided to walk over to see first hand what was happening. As it turns out this is a group of urban artists who are creating limited edition prints steamrolled onto tar paper to commemorate a forthcoming publication that "promotes the urgency for greater creativity in the design of asphalt spaces."

At first blush this might sound a bit crazy, but as Paula Meijerink - Asst. Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University (the woman in the lower right corner of the photos below) explained, this is an affordable, 100% recyclable material that is cheap and readily available. The publication these prints are being developed for is intended to "inspire change by exploring the properties of asphalt and asphalt spaces" and to spur new and creative uses for this material.

Kudos to Paula Meijerink, Boston-based illustrator and designer James Kraus of Art Guy Studios, and the small team of helpers who dedicated their Saturday to this project. If you would like to learn more check out their cool website at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seth Meyers: Short and Curly

To lighten the mood on election day,I thought I would share this video which I initially saw on OMG! It is an SNL video that made me laugh and I hope will for you too. Way to go Seth Meyers.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die