Friday, December 9, 2011

Dodge Versus Lexus-Big Car Crash!

It was a beautiful sunny fall morning in southern Rhode Island and I was riding as a passenger in my friend's mid size Dodge Avenger, it looks like the one in the picture below:

Dodge Avenger, a very safe medium sized car to be in during an accident!
We were going to meet with an older friend and take her out to Breakfast in a great little restaurant by sea, in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, right on the border with Connecticut, you can literally see Connecticut to your left and Long Island straigth ahead on the other side of the Long Island sound.
It's a beautiful place, if you are ever in the area, look for the "Cooked Goose" restaurant, super cozy, with a huge fireplace, friendly staff and great food and awesome ocean views.
As we approached our friends driveway, my friend Lisa slowed down to turn left. This always freaked me out about traffic rules in the US, cars have to stop in the middle of a highway, when wanting to turn left, and wait for their turn, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING ROAD!!!! Needless to say that if you do this in Brazil you will be most likely run over by coming traffic. You just don't stop in the middle of any road in Brazil, for any reason. In big cities, if you want to turn left, you have to go around the block, unless there is a very rare tri-phase traffic light. If you are in a highway in Brazil, you MUST pull over on the right shoulder and wait for an opportunity to cross into the left side of the highway.
Again, I have always been freaked out about this "absurd" ( to me ) traffic rule where cars just stop in the middle of a high way forcing all traffic behind you to stop while you wait your turn to take a left.
So, back to our beautiful sunny fall morning. As we approached Mrs. Kennedy's ( not our friends real name ) driveway, Lisa, my friend, who was driving, stopped right in the middle of the small two lane highway, waiting for a chance to turn left into Mrs.Kennedy's driveway.
Suddenly, we got hit ( REALLY HARD ) from the back.
Our little Dodge Avenger was propelled forward across the highway, we were literally airborne about 5 feet from the ground and 150 feet forward into the woods.
We hit a HUGE rock, which threw us further up into the air, we hit a 15 feet Cedar Tree, completely ripped the tree from the ground, with roots and all.
The car actually went over two small stone walls and sunk into the woods, which was filled with a thick layer of leaves. We landed right between two HUGE trees, which we missed by inches.
The airbags didn't even deploy, because we hit the large rock with the undercarriage of the car, the Cedar Tree was kind of soft and we ripped it right off the ground and we landed in a thick layer of leaves, so the airbags didn't deploy.
I didn't hit anything, but my arm had a "carpet burn" mark on my elbow, from rubbing against the door padding material.
We both had our beloved Dunkin Donuts coffees with us ( a given if you live in New England ), our coffees were trown all over inside the car. I had coffee dripping from what's left of my hair...
The Dodge quickly started to smoke from under the hood. A thick white smoke and before we could even walk out of the car, a fire erupted from under the hood. The combination of spilled lubricants on dry leaves and hot metal parts were enough to start the fire.
I always have a "hands free" blue tooth on my ear and my cell phone always clipped to my pants. So after the car finally came to a stop in the woods, I was dialing 911.
I think there must had been a fire truck somewhere near by because they arrived on the scene before we even got out of the car.
When I finally walked out of the burning car and climbed over the stone wall and got to the shoulder, there were several cars and people coming towards us.
I still had no idea what had hit us at that point.
When I saw this lady running across the highway, crying and screaming!!!
She was driving a LARGE Lexus, the largest Lexus there is, it looked like this:

I have a new found respect for the safety aspect of LEXUS cars.
Her freaking LEXUS had a ridiculous dent on the drivers side where she hit our Dodge. How could it be?
I kept asking myself and going back to the LEXUS and checking out the hood, the front bumper, nothing out of place. This car is a freaking tank. Super sturdy. I will say if I am ever in a car accident again, I hope I am in a Lexus.
Well, poor little Dodge held very well too. Truth of the matter is that most newer cars in the US are super safe.
This year was actually the year with the lowest number of highway deaths since the Eisenhower administration. Because cars are safer than ever.
The LEXUS airbags weren't deployed either. The Lexus lady driver said she hit her head on the steering wheel, but she was apparently fine.
Poor Mrs. Kennedy almost had a heart attack. See, our friend, Mrs. Kennedy is 87 years old and she had been ready and waiting for us looking out her front window. So she watched the entire accident in real time.
My friend Lisa told me she saw the woman on her freaking CELL PHONE just before she hit us from behind, what else is new!!!
People distracted on Cell phones are becoming a real hazard.
This is a small town, so everybody knows everybody.
When the police arrived, the officer was talking to the Lexus lady driver about a house that he is buying and she is his realtor ( freaking small world, even smaller in Rhode Island!!! UGH!!! )
I was in shock, I didn't feel any pain, I don't think. But I was in real shock.
The ambulances came and we sent them away.
I was drenched in coffee and freezing alive. The sun wasn't helping. 8 o'clock in the morning in Rhode Island, in November, is still freaking freezing.
We waited and waited until the police did their thing. They interrogated both drivers and me.
This was a clean cut accident:
We stopped to wait for our turn, to turn left. The blind p#!%ta distracted on her cell phone hit us in the back.
Ha! Think again!!!
Her husband, is a popular doctor in town. She is a popular realtor. They are wealthy. Need I say more?
If you think corruption and shady, unethical moves are exclusive of places like Brazil and Italy, think again!
It happens here too, unfortunately ALL.THE.TIME. it's just not as advertised as it is in Brazil, things are conveniently trown under the rug.
The police officer at the scene took our descriptions of the accident and told my friend they were going to fax her the final "accident report" later.
The Dodge Avenger had less than 2000 miles on it. It was brand new, my friend had it for 3 weeks and it was totalled.
It had a very short life.
We got a new car from a car rental place, the whole thing took about 1 and a half hour.
Poor Mrs. Kennedy was starving and still waiting for us to take her to the "Cooked Goose".
Mrs. Kennedy is well known in this little town and everyone calls her by her name everywhere we go.
To say that Mrs. Kennedy is an interesting person is a absurd under statement.
She has had a great life experience and has wonderful stories to share.
Mrs. Kennedy was an English teacher for 50 some years at a very prestigious University, she was married with a lawyer for 30 years. He died about 25 years ago. She fell in love with another woman!!!
How cool is that!!
She lived with this lady for 18 years and she became a widow again just recently.
She is still very emotional about the losing the love of her life.
The lady she shared the last 18 years with was a very successful writer for TV shows. She wrote several TV shows and some of them are among the most popular TV shows in American Television.
Mrs. Kennedy inherited several million dollars from her partner. Several millions a year still coming in royalties from TV shows that are still being broad casted around the world.
Mrs. Kennedy is originally from New York city but has a house in Rhode Island where she spends her summers. Rhode Island is a little bit cooler than New York city in the summer, so many ( wealthy ) folks from the New York metro have summer homes up in New England.
Mrs. Kennedy loves history and so do I. So we enjoy hours and hours talking about History and politics. I know, call me nerd, who cares, I love history.
The last time we visited her, she showed me a real New York newspaper from April 15th, 1865, a day after President Lincoln was shot and killed. Her great grandmother bought the paper in New York city, on the morning after the President was shot.
I had chills when I saw and read the original paper, which is encased in a glass frame. Awesome!
Jeez, do you know anyone that sidetracks more than I do?
Ok, back to the accident.
I was starting to describe how the dirty police officer and the wife of the most popular doctor in town got together and re-wrote a new police report.
Yes, you heard me right. They wrote a new police "accident report" and the new lying report was saying that we were leaving Mrs. Kennedy's driveway and getting into the highway.
If this is what had happened, we would have been "at fault" and the distracted cell phone talking lady would be clean of any guilt!!
My friend Lisa received the fax with the completely altered "accident report" in the next morning and she had a real fit!!
Let me tell you a little secret about New England folks, they have a dirty, dirty mouth, they swear more than drunken sailors on a bad day. Yes, even the ladies, swear, swear, swear, with grace, trust me, they do it so much and so frequently, it's almost an art form.
I am not big on swearing and I confess I have to monitor myself or I would start throwing the F word all over the place, and the F word is a local favorite.
My friend Lisa is as typical as a New Englander could ever be.
She is direct, blunt, honest, swears a lot and drives really fast, but has a huge heart!! I love Lisa, she is great!
No southern manners around here. This is Yankee territory, we have a filthy, dirty mouth.
Lisa asked me to go with her to the police station to "demand" a correction of the "erroneous" police report.
I agreed because I thought she would need someone cool headed like me to help calm her down and avoid unwanted jail time.
Sure enough, we arrived at the small town police station and in less than 5 minutes the police officer was threatening to trow Lisa in jail, because he refused to correct the police report. He told her it had already been filed and it was now official and it couldn't be changed.
Lisa got really angry and loud very fast.
I had to use all my available physical force to drag her out of that police station. She called that policeman all sorts of names and he called her bad names right back, it was ugly.
Long story short. I was really impressed to see blunt corruption in the public system here.
I had heard it and read about it on the news but had never seen it first hand.
The Rhode Island police is infamous for being brutal and corrupted.
The mafia is still alive and present in Providence and the police all around the state is known for being corrupt. There are scandals breaking out on the news all the time about bribes, and all sorts of corruption.
The mayor of Providence, Buddy Cianci, was sent to a Federal prison in New Jersey for 3 years, for taking bribes from construction companies. People still love him around here, he left the New Jersey federal prison and had a TV show waiting for him in Rhode Island.
When you arrive at the airport in Providence you can buy "Cianci's famous" pasta sauce in souvenir shops at the Airport and all over the state. He is a legend and a loved crook around here.
Sidetrackng again...UGH!!!
Ok, It turns out I developed serious back, neck and shoulder pain a few days after the accident. I have been to several different doctors and physical therapy and have avoided vicodin, I don't want to get addicted.
I have been enjoying our jetted tub more than I ever thought I would.
It's has not been fun. A very disappointing experience to say the least.
We have been to 2 different law firms and we will be involved in a nasty law suit.
It helps that our friend Mrs. Kennedy watched the entire accident from her front window and she can back us up.
How could we be leaving her driveway at 7:50am if we were coming to pick her up to take her to breakfast?
Plus, Mrs. Kennedy is a known, and very respected member of the local community.
She is our star witness.
Corruption sucks! I hate it when I hear about it in Brazil and I hate it to see in my beloved adopted country.
More updates soon.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

O Sonho Americano Parte 1 de 3

I will be writting personal posts soon.
For now, enjoy "O Sonho Americano" in English, with Portuguese subtitles.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jessica Lange on Craig Ferguson-AMERICAN HORROR STORY!!

The best TV series in a long time!

Halloween is almost here and FX HD Channel has launched a new series call "AMERICAN HORROR STORY"!!!!
You have to find to way to record, watch it, catch up to it. There has been 3 episodes so far.
I highly recommend it if you are into quality TV.
Below is the official link to "AMERICAN HORROR STORY"!!
Jessica Lange is absolutely terrific on this new series and we also love the great Frances Conroy who played Ruth Fisher on Six Feet Under, these two alone would make this show worth watching, they are phenomenal, plus all the other great actors, makes this show one of the best I have ever seen.

Frances Conroy, who played Ruth Fisher on Six Feet Under

American Horror Story | New FX TV Series

Our all time favorite TV series. Learn more about this new show that has everyone talking about it! :)
From the creators of "Glee", wait, don't judge yet!! Wait, really. I don't watch Glee either. I know, don't let my people know it, I just can't follow my people on this one. I tried, many times, but I just don't have patience or stomach for Glee, it seriously get on my nerves.
The good news is that this new show is the furthest thing possible from Glee.
Disturbing in cool sort of way.
Learn a little more about. I will try to find a few short clips on you tube and share it here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fast Food Items not found in the US!

I have said here before, Gil and I are not big fans of fast food, but I have to confess, we will rely on fast food when we travel to places that we are not familiar with the restaurant scene, be that in the US or in other countries. Both for practical reasons and sometimes for safety reasons. You can always trust that a fast food chain will give you consistency and usually have safer food handling.

 Anyone who has traveled in rural areas of the US, principally the South, know that very often, your options are reduced to a number fast food places on the side of the freeways. Most options with loads of fried food.
We have found different items at McDonald's all around the US and our all time favorite is:

Mac Lobster Roll is found in most of New England during Lobster Season
I have also enjoyed McDonald's in Spain, much higher quality than McDonald's in some other countries:
Awesome McD sandwich in Spain with Spanish Jamon and Olive Oil
In Japan you can find the Mc Donald's Hot Dog, you can also find Mc Donald's authentic Bratwurst in some towns in rural Pennsylvania, but I couldn't find a picture of the PA option:
Mc Hot Dog in Japan
 Below is an article I read today about some other options you find in Fast Food restaurants around the world that are not available in the US. Ironically enough, the most disgusting one in my opinion is the last one, found in Burger King restaurants in Brazil, cholesterol much!!!  :(

Fast Food Items You Can't Have

by Matt Brownell
Sunday, October 16, 2011

provided by

Fast food chains like McDonald's don't become global brands by cooking up the same old burgers and fries in every country.
Chains wishing to hang a shingle in a new country generally follow a strategy known as "localization," tailoring their menus to fit local tastes. In some cases it's subtle (in China, for instance, you can get chili garlic sauce with your McNuggets) while in other cases the menu is almost unrecognizable (in India, you won't find any beef or pork at burger chains).
That means that fast food fans in other countries get menu items that Americans can only dream of. Here are a few we wish we could have.

The Meat Monster (Burger King, Japan)

When most people want to put something on their burgers, they usually think of toppings like cheese, bacon, onions and tomatoes. The geniuses at Burger King put all of that on, then decided to throw on a chicken breast for good measure.
The result is the Meat Monster, a sandwich available at Burger King in Japan only. Perhaps the beast of a burger was meant to appeal to Japan's love of kaiju (monster) movies; in any case, we know it appeals to us. Bring this one stateside, Burger King.

McVeggie (McDonald's, India)
McDonald's has never been a preferred destination for vegetarians. While the fries no longer contain beef flavoring (the company discontinued the practice in 2001 in response to a lawsuit), meat-free customers still don't have too many choices beyond a few token salads.

Things are a bit different in India, though. Hinduism is the dominant religion there, which forbids consumption of beef and pork, and vegetarianism is widespread. The result is the rare spectacle of a McDonald's with no hamburgers. In addition to the standard Filet-O-Fish, you also get the Chicken Maharaja Mac and the McVeggie, the latter of which uses bread, potato, peas, carrots and Indian spices.

McZüri (McDonald's, Switzerland)

Photo: McDonald'
Starting this month, McDonald's Switzerland has starting rolling out experimental new items that cater to local tastes. While the McGrillschnägg — a sausage made from Swiss pork — certainly looks appetizing, the standout star for us is the McZüri, made from 100% Swiss veal. Yes, we said veal. The patty is accompanied by mushrooms and caramelized onions. Apparently McDonald's is a bit more upscale in Europe.

Paneer Tikka Sub (Subway, India)
Subway's menu isn't as beef-intensive as McDonald's meat-centric offerings, so its 223 Indian locations aren't as unrecognizable as McDonald's Indian restaurants. But there's definitely some local flavor there in addition to the usual lineup for sandwiches, including chicken tandoori and tikka subs. And there are plenty of options for vegetarian customers, including the paneer tikka, which the site describes as "cottage cheese slices marinated with barbecue seasoning and roasted to a light crispness."

Krushers (KFC, Germany)
In the U.S., KFC has focused on chicken products and generally stayed away from doing anything too creative in the dessert space, but in other countries it's a much different story. KFC locations in Australia, Germany, South Africa and other countries offer a line of dessert drinks known as Krushers, which come in such flavors as mango, strawberry, Kit Kat and Triple Choc Crunch. The drinks are mixed with large chunks of fruit or candy (including sliced-up strawberries and Oreo cookies). To slurp up the chunks, the drinks come with extra-wide straws.

Bubur Ayam McD (McDonald's, Malaysia)

Photo: McDonald'
Apparently bubur ayam — which translates to "chicken broth," according to Google — is a traditional Malaysian dish. And according to the English-language McDonald's Malaysia website, the Bubur Ayam McD consists of "juicy chicken strips in mouth-watering porridge, garnished with spring onions, sliced ginger, fried shallots and diced chilies ... just like mum's cooking!" We're guessing that this dish won't be coming to the U.S. anytime soon, but we'd still be curious to try it.

Trio Supremo (Burger King, Brazil)
Burger King is now owned by a Brazilian company, 3G Capital, so we expect the Brazilian locations to have top-notch cuisine. And Burger King Brazil has indeed come up big with the Trio Supremo, which comes with chicken nuggets, onion rings and French fries smothered in cheddar cheese and bacon bits. The whole thing amounts to 1,072 calories and 58 grams of fat. As far as we're concerned, America is up to the challenge of this one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brazil’s lessons for indebted Europe

Brazil’s lessons for indebted Europe

Some European nations' debt will have to be forgiven to resume growth. Those responsible for the financial turmoil must pay, rather than the poor. And Europe must unify its fiscal policy.

São Paulo, Brazil
For those of us in developing countries who over the years became reluctant experts on the subject of financial crises, the latest wave of turmoil in the global financial system is, regrettably, not a surprise.
In large part, the prescriptions and recommendations that so-called experts make today about the persistent problems in the rich world are exactly the same ones that were made in previous decades about countries such as Brazil. The difference is that, now, since the crisis is at the center and not at the periphery of the system, the global risks and repercussions are much bigger.
In the past, national officials – central banks and finance ministers – sought to vigorously demonstrate that there was no reason to compare their own country’s plight with the tragedy occurring in another. Their fiscal situation wasn’t the same; their percentage of debt to GDP wasn’t all that big; the internal debt was in the hands of domestic holders and denominated in local currencies; and so on.
But there was always one critical factor: foreign-exchange accounts. If capital flows stopped permitting the rollover of debt, the phantom of default would rear its head and often devour everything, condemning countries afflicted by the contagion to years of fiscal austerity and low growth.

During the 1990s and at the beginning of this century, seemingly every problem experienced by a poorer country (some of them not so poor anymore, since the term BRIC came into fashion) was met with the same prescription. The International Monetary Fund proposed drastic fiscal discipline, a reorganization of the state’s property via privatizations, greater openness to capital flows, new investments, and in the most severe cases, a restructuring of foreign debt, as happened with the Brady Plan [the 1989 reorganization of mostly Latin American debt].
The prescription, therefore, did not assure a smooth path to the return of growth. In order to grow again, it was necessary to lure foreign funds, but at the same time not expose oneself to the most fickle and volatile capital flows – what these days is called “hot money.” Easy to say; but in practice, it was very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. When the situation deteriorated to the point that foreign loans were necessary to cover balance-of-payment deficits, the situation often turned lethal.
What did those of us who ran these countries ask of the international community during these difficult times? We requested more and better international regulation in order to limit speculation against our currencies, the creation of funds that were bigger and more easily accessed, and for the IMF to be strengthened and simultaneously adjust its policies in favor of countries with liquidity crises.
To finance these funds, some of us returned to the idea of a Tobin tax, a levy on conversions of one currency to another. Finally, we argued that if budget austerity exceeded a certain limit, it would kill any hopes of a return to growth – not to mention make the sociopolitical situation in our countries unsustainable. Nobody listened to us, despite our continued requests. Countries that were in no condition to negotiate better terms with the IMF generally suffered through a long period without growth, with continued inability to pay their debts, and with social unrest.

Read the entire article here:
Brazil’s lessons for indebted Europe

Monday, September 26, 2011

McDonald's in Brazil VERY different than McDonald's in the US!

Endives, Escarole and Chicory at Brazilian Mc Donald's Salads
  I have always noticed that Mc Donald's in Brazil is very different than Mc Donald's in the US. Since my first time inside an American Mc Donald's in 1989 I noticed that was something off about the Mc Donald's in the United States. I could tell right away that the quality was much inferior in the North American Mc Donald's.
It's no coincidence Mc Donald's is MUCH cheaper in the US, it is also much worse, no really, taste wise and quality, it is down right poor over here, which is nonsense, because this is the land of Mc Donald's, right! Right!
Seriously, where in an American Mc Donald's would you find Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich, Tomato-Caprese Salad, Green Salads that include Chicory, Escarole, Endives? Not anywhere around here, unfortunately.
I have always thought unfair when certain economists use the infamous Mc Donald's index to compare cost of living in different countries, also known as the Big Mac Index.
Just plain wrong.
Mc Donald's in the United States is marketed and catered to a complete different segment of the population comparing to Brazil or Argentina for example.
In Brazil, Mc Donald's has always been advertised as somewhat of a fancy meal, a treat if you may, something special you can do when you want to splurge a little.
The quality of Mc Donald's products in Brazil has always been extremely high, much higher than in the land of Uncle Sam where Mc Donald's was created.

HERE is an article that talks about Brazilian Mc Donald's improving the quality of it's product even more as of October 1st by reducing sodium and sugar content in it's Brazilian branches menu.

I remember when I first visited a Mc Donald's in Sao Paulo back in 1979, at Paulista Avenue, it was a special treat for my brother, my sisters and I, we loved it. Until then we only knew Jack in the Box, another North American favorite that used to be in Sao Paulo in the 1970's, at the time, I still liked Jack in the Box better than Mc Donald's for the simple reason that Jack in the Box had outdoor seating and Mc Donald's was a closed location inside an Air Conditioned building, plus Jack in the Box had outdoor playground for us kids.
I recently read an article that just came to confirm my old suspicions, Mc Donald's in Brazil really is designed, catered and marketed for the upper middle classes, products are of higher quality, restaurants are usually located in fancier neighborhoods and prices are higher than most other Mc Donald's I have ever been to, much higher, and it's no coincidence. I read it's the same thing in Argentina and a few other countries.
I can tell you Brazilian Mc Donald's always has cool new different surprises for you, new pies, new sandwiches, natural fruit juices such as Orange Juice ( Freshly Squeezed ), Passion Fruit Juice and I even tried a delicious fresh Peach Juice once that was really good.
Brazilian Mc Donald's also have some awesome options for breakfast which include delicious Ciabatta Bread and Freshly Baked French rolls.
So, next time you see an economic report using the infamous BIG MAC index, remember, a Big Mac is not the same everywhere, not at all.
So, it's all relative.
I am not saying Brazil is not expensive, because it really, really is, principally if you are from the US and you are used to cheap imported crap from China making your life easier, forget about it. Brazil has some serious protectionist policies against imports and some high tariffs to keep the country's industry alive and you won't find cheap tennis shoes, cars, clothes or electronics for that matter.
Food on the other hand is of much higher quality in Brazil for the most part.
In my opinion is because in Brazil food is produced much closer to the consumer markets and distribution logistics are a completely different animal comparing to the US for example. Not to mention year round great weather for agriculture.
Just for the record. I am not a fan of McDonald's by any means, but for someone who travels a lot around the world for work like I do, Mc Donald's has saved the day more times than I can count.
Even when traveling around some parts of the US, you can always count on Mc Donald's for consistency and speed.
So, what do you think?
Have you noticed any difference in Mc Donald's from different countries?
How about Brazil and the US Mc Donald's? :)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are you fluent in Portuguese? Test your patience! :)

A Text all written with Portuguese words that start with the letter "P"!!
Have fun!  :)
Written by:
Andréia Pereira Figueiredo

A letra "P"  -  Apenas a língua portuguesa nos permite escrever isso: 

   Pedro Paulo Pereira Pinto, pequeno pintor português, pintava portas, paredes, portais... Porém, pediu para parar porque preferiu pintar panfletos.. Partindo para Piracicaba, pintou prateleiras para poder progredir.

   Posteriormente, partiu para Pirapora... Pernoitando, prosseguiu para Paranavaí, pois pretendia praticar pinturas para pessoas pobres. Porém, pouco praticou, porque Padre Paulo pediu para pintar panelas, porém posteriormente pintou pratos para poder pagar promessas.
   Pálido, porém personalizado, preferiu partir para Portugal para pedir permissão para papai para permanecer praticando pinturas, preferindo, portanto, Paris.
   Partindo para Paris, passou pelos Pirenéus, pois pretendia pintá-los. Pareciam plácidos, porém, pesaroso, percebeu penhascos pedregosos, preferindo pintá-los parcialmente, pois perigosas pedras pareciam precipitar-se principalmente pelo Pico, porque pastores passavam pelas picadas para pedirem pousada, provocando provavelmente pequenas perfurações, pois, pelo passo percorriam, permanentemente, possantes potrancas.
  Pisando Paris, pediu permissão para pintar palácios pomposos, procurando pontos pitorescos, pois, para pintar pobreza, precisaria percorrer pontos perigosos, pestilentos, perniciosos, preferindo Pedro Paulo precaver-se.
   Profundas privações passou Pedro Paulo. Pensava poder prosseguir pintando, porém, pretas previsões passavam pelo pensamento, provocando profundos pesares, principalmente por pretender partir prontamente para Portugal. Povo previdente! Pensava Pedro Paulo... Preciso partir para Portugal porque pedem para prestigiar patrícios, pintando principais portos portugueses. – Paris! Paris! Proferiu Pedro Paulo.

   Parto, porém penso pintá-la permanentemente, pois pretendo progredir. Pisando Portugal, Pedro Paulo procurou pelos pais, porém, papai Procópio partira para Província. Pedindo provisões, partiu prontamente, pois precisava pedir permissão para papai Procópio para prosseguir praticando pinturas.
   Profundamente pálido, perfez percurso percorrido pelo pai. Pedindo permissão, penetrou pelo portão principal. Porém, papai Procópio puxando-o pelo pescoço proferiu: Pediste permissão para praticar pintura, porém, praticando, pintas pior. Primo Pinduca pintou perfeitamente prima Petúnia. Porque pintas porcarias? Papai – proferiu Pedro Paulo – pinto porque permitiste, porém, preferindo, poderei procurar profissão própria para poder provar perseverança, pois pretendo permanecer por Portugal.

   Pegando Pedro Paulo pelo pulso, penetrou pelo patamar, procurando pelos pertences, partiu prontamente, pois pretendia pôr Pedro Paulo para praticar profissão perfeita: pedreiro! Passando pela ponte precisaram pescar para poderem prosseguir peregrinando.
   Primeiro, pegaram peixes pequenos, porém, passando pouco prazo, pegaram pacus, piaparas, pirarucus.   Partindo pela picada próxima, pois pretendiam pernoitar pertinho, para procurar primo Péricles primeiro. Pisando por pedras pontudas, papai Procópio procurou Péricles, primo próximo, pedreiro profissional perfeito.
Poucas palavras proferiram, porém prometeu pagar pequena parcela para Péricles profissionalizar Pedro Paulo. Primeiramente Pedro Paulo pegava pedras, porém, Péricles pediu-lhe para pintar prédios, pois precisava pagar pintores práticos. Particularmente Pedro Paulo preferia pintar prédios. Pereceu pintando prédios para Péricles, pois precipitou-se pelas paredes pintadas. Pobre Pedro Paulo pereceu pintando...
  Permita-me, pois, pedir perdão pela paciência, pois pretendo parar para pensar.... Para parar preciso pensar.   
  Pensei. Portanto, pronto pararei.

You can start by practicing the following sentence:

"O Rato Roeu a Rica Roupa do Rei de Roma"
                        "The Rat chewed up the rich clothing of the King of Rome"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Webcam 101 for Seniors....

Bruce and Esther got a new laptop as a gift from their granddaughter and were trying to figure out how to use it.
Their grand daughter found this recording in the laptop later and posted on utube, it went viral all over the Internet.
I thought I should share and hope you needed a good laugh on this mid September Thursday

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bystanders lift burning car off injured motorcyclist in ...

This breath taking video was taken by a college student from a nearby classroom, in Utah.
A BMW crashed head on with a motorcycle and the motorcycle rider was pined under the burning car.
It is amazing how ordinary citizens can come together and become instant heroes.
The good news is that instead of burning under the car, the motorcycle rider is recovering well at an area Hospital and is expected to be just fine.
Great news!!!

1st Solar-powered Soccer stadium in Salvador-Bahia-Brazil

The good news keep coming out of Brazil.

1st Solar Powered Pituacu Stadium in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil 

I am so proud to find out that the 1st solar powered Soccer Stadium is being built in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
What a great idea, they sure have a lot of SUN in Salvador, why not put it to good use.
We have to hope this is a trend that came to stay.
Why not Bus Terminals, Train and Subway stations, Supermarkets, Airports, Malls, Residential Apartment buildings?

Stadium Pituacu today, Salvador, Brazil


Projected renovation of Pituacu Stadium in Salvador surrounded by Solar Panels


Solar Panels being installed at Pituacu Stadium, Salvador, BA, Brazil

Solar-powered soccer

A solar-powered stadium is in the works for Brazil's World Cup
Brazil soccer stadium 2011 09 13
Players will face off under the sun in Brazil. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)
Work is scheduled to begin this month on Latin America's first solar-powered soccer stadium.
The solar array will be installed on the canopy covering the grandstands at the at the Pituacu Stadium in Brazil.
It is part of an effort to outfit all the 2014 World Cup venues with solar power, reports the International Business Times.
The installation of the solar panels is expected to be completed by December.
A 3-megawatt solar farm was built last year at the NASCAR Pocono raceway in Pennsylvania. It was the largest solar sports stadium in the world, according to Energy Matters, at more than double the size of the second-largest solar-powered stadium, located in Taiwan.
The stadium in Brazil will put out 403 kilowatts at its peak power voltage.
The project is a joint venture between German photovoltaics company Gehrlicher Solar and Brazilian environmental technology group Ecoluz Participacoes. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sweeping the dust under the rug!

I think the Brits invented "sweeping under the rug and that is where Americans got it from ;)
I have always noticed that Americans are quick to hide/disguise  be discrete about all that is negative in their own country. Hey, I don't blame them, I don't like to waste time with negative stuff either.
I truly believe our time is precious and when you stop to whine/complain  criticize the bad stuff around you, you will most certainly miss the good and the beautiful that is right on your face.
I am not talking about your innocent rant of an expat trying to adapt to a new land, because in most cases, it's not the country/new city that is the target of criticism, but the expats lack of information or understanding of the new country and culture, and everyone reading it is seeing what the situation is all about.
Here is an innocent example, and I am not referring to anyone in particular ( no really, I haven't read about this in anyone's blog recently ): In the past, I have seen many folks complaining about ALL STORES being closed on a Sunday or a Holiday in Brazil.
I know how frustrating that can be for an expat used to having all sorts of options for 24/7 stores in the US.
Truth of the matter is that Brazil has strong Unions and they are the ones who force stores to close in certain cities and certain states, so, it's not all of Brazil, but maybe the town or state where you are living at the moment.
I grew up in the Sao Paulo metro area and some cities had all stores closed during Sundays and Holidays while others had everything open all the time. 24 hour Grocery stores, Malls, Pharmacies, you name it.
I know this problem first hand, when Gil and I first moved to the Boston area from Dallas, we went thru exactly the same thing. Everything was open 24 hours in Dallas, EVERYTHING, even a freaking HOMEDEPOT opened all night ( imagine that! ) Fast forward to Boston, where UNIONS are super strong, very hard to find anything open at night. Forget about a 24 hours HomeDepot, that would never happen in Boston. Plus, in Boston all gas stations still have attendants, and no self-service stations, because their strong unions assured those folks never lost their jobs to Self Service gas stations. It is all a matter of adapting to the new town and getting to know and understand the social/political/economic rules.
I have to say Brazilians get on my nerves when it comes to "sweeping our own crap" under the rug, hell, we pick it up and throw it in front of the fan!!.
We just be discrete about our own bad stuff, we are the first ones to ADVERTISE it to the world and exaggerate 10 fold while doing it.
The biggest example is how news about crime often gets exaggerated in Brazil. Even I get nervous when I arrive in Rio and these bastards at the Airport start to harass me even before I clear customs, telling us not to dare take a yellow cab, because they might be someone trying to kidnap you. What!!! I have taken the yellow cabs in Rio all my life, shut the hell up and get out of my way, and NO, I DON'T NEED A WHITE CAB FROM YOUR COMPANY AT THE AIRPORT, I will be renting a crappy tiny Fiat from Hertz for U$500,00 a day. UGH!!!!
Depending if it's a good year or not, New York and Philly will have more murders than Rio, but Rio is worldly known for crime, and I partly blame Brazilians for that. We are just "drama queens" by nature.
So, every time you hear something bad about Brazil, divide by 2, or 4, and relax, have fun, and just be street smart like you would be in Miami, Los Angeles or New York.
If you are wondering, the small piece of news below is what game me inspiration for this post.
Can you imagine if there was an "EXPLOSION AT ONE OF BRAZIL'S NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS!!!" and someone died and 5 more were sent to the Hospital.
I am sure, it would most definitely not be swept under the rug by the media or anyone for that matter!!! ;)

No leak reported after deadly explosion at French nuclear site

One person killed and four injured in explosion at France's Marcoule nuclear site, near furnace used to burn low-grade radioactive waste.

France nuclear reaction 9 12 2010 
The four reactors of the Bugey's nuclear plant on August 29, 2011 in Saint-Vulbas, 35 Kms east of Lyon, central eastern France. (Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images)
An explosion at the Marcoule nuclear site in southern France killed one person and injured four others Monday, but no radioactive leak was reported.
A furnace reportedly exploded at the nuclear waste treatment site, which is owned by French power utility EDF and located about 50 miles from the Mediterranean coast. The furnace is used to burn low-grade radioactive waste such as rubber gloves and tools used in nuclear facilities, Dow Jones quotes an emergency management expert as saying.
But there was no leak of radioactive material, France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) told Reuters.
More from GlobalPost: France to invest 1 billion euros in nuclear energy, going against the tide in Europe
Dow Jones says the fire that accompanied the explosion has been extinguished, and the building that houses the furnace isn't badly damaged.
EDF, the operator of France’s 58 nuclear power stations, said the blast had been "an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident," the BBC reports.
France is one of the most nuclear-reliant countries, with nuclear power providing 78 percent of electricity, according to the Financial Times. But "the French nuclear program does not have a stellar record of transparency," the BBC says.
Greenpeace has called on the French government for more transparency, the FT says, adding that the Marcoule site was not part of a post-Fukushima government review of nuclear sites.
“Yet again it shows that the government has not learned the lessons of Fukushima,” Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace told the FT.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Enforcement of the New Hospitals Visitation Law in the US!

Since we first landed in the US almost 15 years ago, for one reason or another, Gil and I have always been forced to lie about our relationship to protect ourselves from discrimination or blunt mistreatment. Principally when it comes to Hospitals.

HERE is my original post when the law first went into effect back in January.

It is a shame, but it is a reality gay people live daily.
However, I can't think of any worse situation to be harassed, mistreated or humiliated other than when you or your loved one is weak, sick and looking for treatment at a Hospital. People have no mercy, trust me.
I have had to lie so many times in Hospitals and so has Gil, just so we would be allowed to care for each other.
The classic lie that always works for us is to play dumb and allow the other to claim to be a translator. This is increasingly difficult because most Hospitals are excited and ready to call in one of their own translators.
They used to offer Spanish translators.
HELLO! We speak Portuguese!!!!! If you still have any doubts, please refer to my BRAZILIANS ARE NOT HISPANICS post, thank you very much.
Not you my dear readers, I know you know the difference  ;)
Now, Hospitals have been getting sophisticated lately, and have been offering us Portuguese translators. Imagine that! :)
However, since we got married in Canada on July 2nd of last year, I have been feeling very brave and ready for a fight when people try and stop us from being with each other.
Hell, I got down to using the word HUSBAND without any hesitation, off course that almost always makes the situation a little more dire because we go in with a kidney and Gil starts to have heart palpitation and it's almost always transferred into the Cardiac unit. :)
But he is getting better at staying cool while I turn into a Pit bull to fight the usual bigots.
We have been to Hospitals in Florida, Texas, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and don't think for a minute that Hospitals workers in New England are less mean than those in Florida or Texas.
The difference is that in Florida or Texas, the mean, bigots are majority, and they do have us intimidated. They feel supported by bigotry and are brave to dare and mistreat gay people left and right.
In New England, the bigots are aware they are a staggering minority and if you scream, someone will show up to defend you from their abuse.
I am not talking out of my *%$$ here, this has happen to us both in Florida, Texas and in New England.
When a mean receptionist tried to separated us in 2002 in Providence, Rhode Island, I started to raise hell, and a nurse came to our rescue to ushered us inside together.
A Nigerian Muslim nurse was also mean to Gil and I and I immediately called the Head Nurse for that floor and had the Muslim Witch banned from getting anywhere near us or I would sue their pants off. It worked.
We have to thank Mr. Obama and his administration for this important step forward in Civil Rights for the United States of America.
The eternal fight of good versus evil continues. More to come in next year's election.
Evil radical fake conservative crazies are getting stronger by the day.
God help us all.
Well, at least with this small step, the radical religious right rednecks loose.
Normal people win. ;) 

HERE is the link to the original/full HRC article.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided new guidance on the enforcement of regulations to protect the visitation rights of same-sex domestic partners in a hospital setting. This is the final step in the process of implementing the regulation which the Obama administration issued last November and went into effect in January.
The guidance reinforces that all patients have the right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, including a visitor who is a same-sex domestic partner as one of the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for hospitals participating in the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.   It is worth noting that almost all hospitals in the country do participate in these programs and will have to meet these requirements.
Existing CoPs protect the rights of hospital patients to have representatives who can act on their behalf, however HHS updated the guidance for these rules to emphasize that hospitals should give deference to patients’ wishes concerning their representatives, whether expressed in writing, orally, or through other evidence, unless prohibited by state law.
To date, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the agency within HHS that oversees those programs, has not experienced problems with the new regulations. According to Jesse Moore, an HHS spokesperson, “We haven’t issued a response to anything, but if they don’t fix the problems and if the problems are serious, we can revoke accreditation.”
The guidance issued today is also intended to make it easier for family members, including a same-sex domestic partner, to make informed care decisions for loved ones who have become incapacitated.
In announcing the enforcement provisions HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could not have been more eloquent: “Couples take a vow to be with each other in sickness and in health and it is unacceptable that, in the past, some same-sex partners were denied the right to visit their loved ones in times of need.”
Information about the visitation regulation is available in our Hospital Visitation Guide.  Additionally, HRC’s annual Health care Equality Index (HEI) measures how equitably health care facilities treat their LGBT patients and offers model policies including an LGBT inclusive definition of “family” for visitation purposes.  To learn more about these programs, and important steps LGBT individuals and their families should take to protect themselves, even with the new regulation in place, go to
Read further details on the guidance:

Brazil: Almost as cool as the U.S. :)

Brazil: Almost as cool as the U.S.

Meaningless poll says Brazilians are not as cool as Americans.
Lady gaga 2011 09 06
Pop star Lady Gaga, shown here dressed as a man, is one reason America is the coolest. Pop star Britney Spears, left, is not. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
You're nearly there, Brazilians!
According to a random social-networking site that is not as cool as Facebook,, the United States is the coolest country in the world.
Brazil comes in second.
Really, though, it was fixed from the beginning.
According to Reuters, which conducted a serious analysis of the non-scientific poll of 30,000 people, Americans invented cool, and therefore nobody else can ever be as cool as we are.
Reuters conceded that while "not all Americans are cool far from it," there are some Americans who are "way cooler" than others. These Americans, according to Reuters, are: Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Samuel L. Jackson, Johnny Depp and Quentin Tarantino.  
Also, America's president is clearly the coolest president in the world.
At least Latin Americans can take some comfort in knowing that their region was well-represented, holding down 8th place — let's hear it for Mexico — and 9th —nice job, Argentina.
And everyone's cooler than the Russians.
Check out the full list below.
1. United States
2. Brazil
3. Spanish
4. Italians
5. French
6. British
7. Dutch
8. Mexicans
9. Argentinians
10. Russians

                I just have to add, where the hell is CANADA on the list above???  Come on, Jamaicans gotta be cooler than the Brits!!! And Japan is wicked cool if you ask me. :)
                So this is how MY LIST WOULD LOOK LIKE:

1- Brazil and US ( Sorry, it's a tie for me ) ;)
2- Spain ( Totally second )
3- Italy  ( I have to agree, Italians are awesome )

Ok, here is where my list start to differ

4- Canada ( AWESOME!!! LOVE Canadians )
5- Japan ( Come on, they are super cool!! )
6- Jamaicans ( I think they invented cool!! )
7- Australia and New Zealand ( ehh, maybe, but I will most likely never brave the 350 hours on a plane to find out first hand ) ;)
8- Dutch ( the Dutch are totally cool )
9- Argentinians  Uruguay ( Cool, no, not really, I will take Uruguayans over Argentinians any day! )
10- Russians Ukraine ( Hey, I will take Ukrainians over the crazy Russians too )

          How would your list look like? :)

HERE is the link to the original post.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Most Dangerous Cities to Drive in the US!

Following the trend on "The most walkable" cities in the US and Brazil, I saw this today and decided to share.

No surprise for us, Florida is the most Dangerous place to drive in the US. We found out the hard way when we lived in Hollywood and later in Tampa, it's no joke, aggressive drivers at it's worse. Not to mention it is the least friendly place for pedestrians. I am not joking, we had cars speeding up to shoo us out of the way inside Grocery store's parking lot's marked crossing lanes. I almost got ran over more than once, freaking animals I tell you.

One surprise to me was to find out Florida is dangerous because of retired New Yorkers, who never drove before, because their state has a great mass public transportation system. When they arrive in Florida, there are no options, these older folks are forced to learn how to drive at an advanced age and you have what you have, complete chaos.

Older New Yorkers learning how to drive among recently arrived immigrants. Many immigrants were probably riding a donkey a month before they washed into the Florida beaches looking for a better life. You are just not likely to see Florida like highways in the hills of Colombia or in and around Haiti or Cuba.

Most of these immigrants are not granted drivers licenses, and there is NO public transportation available, so they have no option but to buy that old used Buick and start driving along the New York grannies, the drunk Spring Breakers ( from all over the country ) and the tourists from all over the world who are used to different traffic rules and also people from countries without a driving tradition such as many places in Europe.

MAYHEM, pure and simple, a very combustible and dangerous situation.

After living and driving in UBBER civilized New England we were in for the shock or our life time. Not to mention the infamous Florida speed traps that are the lifeline of many dusty little southern towns ( entire budgets ) scared all over the sunshine state. D

Don't even get me started on the rednecks favorite past time, speed traps!!! UGH!!!

I have to say, Oklahoma caught me completely by surprise. I had no idea it's such a dangerous place to drive, people drive super fast in Oklahoma with the ever inviting wide open spaces.  Besides that, the only thing that comes to my mind it's the generalized drinking and driving that I witnessed when I went to school in Oklahoma. But come on! That was 1989, and I was in High School. I just assumed all Americans drank themselves silly like that... :)
NO! You tell me, did people drink and drive like crazy in High School in your home states? Was that a sign of the 80's, or does it still happen?
I don't remember a large percentage of Irish last names in Oklahoma either...ok, just kidding... :)
Hey Sarah, do you have any idea why Oklahoma city and Tulsa would show such high fatality numbers? :)

15 Dangerous Cities for Driving

The 14th-most dangerous driving city: Birmingham, Ala.
The 14th-most dangerous driving city: Birmingham, Ala.
There are many ways one could gauge the danger of driving in a particular city, but this list uses the cities with the greatest number of vehicular deaths as a barometer of the danger level. U.S. cities with a population of 150,000 or more were up for consideration, using the most recent motor vehicle crash data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System.

One particular region of the country, the South, is overrepresented, and within that region one state in particular sticks out like a panhandle: A full one-third of the cities in this list are in Florida. Why does Florida rank so badly? Some blame the high proportion of New York City expats—some driving for the first time in their lives — foreigners, tourists driving in unfamiliar territory, and senior citizens, not to mention spring breakers, who may have compromised vision or reflexes. Los Angeles didn’t make the most dangerous list, but had the most total fatalities overall, at 293. The city that’s the most dangerous for pedestrians, according to the data, is Pittsburgh, accounting for more than 50 percent of total fatalities.

Here are the 15 cities that ranked the worst

15. Oklahoma City, Okla.
Population: 551,789
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 13.41
Total fatalities: 74
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 13.5

14. Birmingham, Ala.
Population: 228,798
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 13.55
Total fatalities: 31
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 15.2

13. Tulsa, Okla.
Population: 385,635
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 14.00
Total fatalities: 54
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 18.5

12. St. Petersburg, Fla.
Population: 245,314
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 14.27
Total fatalities: 35
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 28.6

11. Jacksonville, Fla.
Population: 807,815
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 14.36
Total fatalities: 116
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 13.8

10. Lubbock, Texas
Population: 220,483
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 14.97
Total fatalities: 33
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 15.2

9. Memphis, Tenn.
Population: 669,651
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 15.08
Total fatalities: 101
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 11.9

8. Jackson, Miss.
Population: 173,861
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 15.53
Total fatalities: 27
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 18.5

7. Chattanooga, Tenn.
Population: 170,880
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 16.39
Total fatalities: 28
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 17.9

6. Salt Lake City, Utah
Population: 181,698
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 16.51
Total fatalities: 30
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 26.7

5. San Bernardino, Calif.
Population: 198,580
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 17.12
Total fatalities: 38
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 15.8

4. Little Rock, Ark.
Population: 189,515
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 17.94
Total fatalities: 34
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 26.5

3. Augusta-Richmond Co., Ga.
Population: 194,149
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 19.57
Total fatalities: 38
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 15.8

2. Orlando, Fla.
Population: 230,519
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 19.95
Total fatalities: 46
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 10.9

The most dangerous city to drive in: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The most dangerous city to drive in: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

1. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Population: 183,126
Total fatality rate per 100,000 population: 22.39
Total fatalities: 41
Percentage of fatalities that were pedestrians: 24.4

On the safer end of the spectrum, here are the 10 cities with the least fatalities per 100,000 population:

Arlington CDP (census designated place), Va. (0.48)
Vancouver, Wash. (1.23)
Moreno Valley, Calif. (1.57)
Rochester, N.Y. (1.93)
Spokane, Wash. (1.98)
Lincoln, Neb. (1.99)
Aurora, Ill. (2.33)
St. Paul, Minn. (2.50)
Omaha, Neb. (2.51)
Jersey City, N.J. (2.90)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Most Walkable Cities in the US!

I found this report on the most walkable cities in the US and thought you guys would enjoy it.
If there is one thing I love about a city is having the option to live "car free", Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil are definitely cities I know you can live without a car, and my biggest surprise was reading Meredith's Blog and finding out Brasilia can also be a "car free" city, I didn't even knew they had a subway system.
I have heard Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre are also pedestrian friendly and Curitiba is supposed to be one of the best, and actually a model for smart urban planning copied around the world.

America's Most Walkable Cities, 2011

By Jason Notte, The Street
August 3, 2011

Living within a quick drive of work, the store, school or public transportation is nice, but only having all of those items a few blocks away makes your neighborhood "walkable."
The people behind Walk Score, a Seattle-based service that rates the convenience and transit access of 10,000 neighborhoods in 2,500 cities, have spent the past four years judging the distance between residents and amenities and ranking places based on the results. That "walkability" led to the first set of rankings in 2008 and the use of those rankings by more than 10,000 cities, civic organizations and real estate groups in the years that followed.
Walk Score's ideal neighborhoods have either a main street or public space at the center, enough people to keep public transit running frequently and a good mix of housing and businesses. Parks and other public spaces make up a large part of the equation, as do amenities designed around pedestrians, nearby schools and workplaces and "complete streets" designed for pedestrians, cyclists and transit.
"Very often, you'll see a good pedestrian design with sidewalks and crosswalks that make a city more accessible and walkable," says Josh Herst, chief executive of Walk Score. "Even in cities that on the whole aren't that walkable, there are neighborhoods that are great places to walk."
A CEOs For Cities study based on Walk Score data insists that a walkable neighborhood adds an average $3,000 to a home's selling price. And University of British Columbia professor Lawrence Frank found that residents of walkable neighborhoods tend to be at least seven pounds lighter than their counterparts in more sprawling areas.
Here's a look at Walk Score's Most Walkable Cities of 2011 and the amenity-packed neighborhoods that made the difference:

5. Philadelphia
Walk Score: 74.1

Any tourist who's seen Independence Hall and stopped into a Wawa for Tastykakes and directions can tell you that the city's most walkable neighborhoods in Center City, the Old City and along the riverfront near Penn's Landing are some of the easiest to navigate in the country. What locals probably won't tell the average cheesesteak-chomping out-of-towner is just how easy it is to get around South Philly and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Philadelphia City Hall in America's 5th most walkable city.
Photo: flickr | bengrey

Except for the extreme northeast, southwest and northwest corners of the city, much of Philadelphia's fairly easy to get around. About 95% of the city is easily accessible by means other than a car, but it's just a matter of doing so.
There's no shortage of cars in this town, and the city's conflicted relationship with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority may have something to do with it. Septa's bus, subway, light rail and commuter rail services handled 327.6 million passengers this year, including travelers taking the airport line right into Center City. That's great and all, but it's still less than the ridership of a Boston MBTA that covers a city nearly one-third Philadelphia's size.

4. Chicago
Walk Score: 74.3

The city's broad shoulders aren't nearly as important as its broad sidewalks and bus and subway options when it comes to walkability.
The city's restaurants, theaters, shops and other amenities are closer and more accessible the nearer one gets to Lake Michigan. Lake View and Wrigleyville or West Town and Wicker Park are great place for living car free. Stray too far west or south, however, and you'll end up in the 4% of Chicago neighborhoods that need an automotive assist.

Chicago skyline in America's 4th most walkable city.
Photo: flickr | Bryce_edwards

The Chicago Transit Authority helps level the extremely wide playing field with buses and trains that helped roughly 515 million riders get through the city last year. That includes the throngs of tourists and business travelers flying into O'Hare and Midway and taking CTA trains into the city. Another 70.5 million riders who take the commuter rail in from the suburbs each day make a strong argument to keep the car under wraps until the snow stops falling.
The town can still be a mixed bag when it comes to getting around, however. If you're barhopping or looking for good Italian beef in Old Town, Lincoln Park or Near North Side, you won't have to stray far. If you're trying to make it to a play in Pilsen after a barbecue in New City, however, it's a crapshoot.

3. Boston
Walk Score: 79.2

Residents of the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the South End and Fenway who feel they weren't built for cars can sleep soundly knowing their neighborhoods weren't either.
It's easy to get to just about any point in this city without ever sitting behind the wheel of a car because the city's first residents needed it to be that way. The winding streets Mayor Thomas Menino calls "cow paths" were often just that. The city's Colonial-era survival was based on its density, residents' proximity to goods and services and the ability to get those goods home without carrying them a great distance.

Boston skyline in America's 3rd most walkable city.
Photo: flickr | Manu_H

"Cities that were largely built in World War II and post-World War II were built with the car at the center of them," Herst says. "When you think about cities like Boston and New York City, at least at the center of them, they were built into meaningful metropolises before the car."
The oldest subway system in America has helped make it easier for Bostonians to get from place to place, but T riders disenchanted with the aging system might prefer pulling cattle. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority moved more than 373 million riders through its light rail, commuter rail, ferries and buses last year, with 149 million of those riders taking a subway that has had portions running since 1897.

2. San Francisco
Walk Score: 84.9

Walk Score considered it the most walkable city in America back in 2008 and it probably still would be if more New Yorkers weren't paying exorbitant sums for shoeboxes in SoHo or "lofts" with a few hundred feet on the Lower East Side.
There hasn't been a whole lot of change since then, which is just how residents who've tried to minimize car-related change like it. San Francisco's compact, concise layout didn't take the car into consideration when it was incorporated in 1850 or after it was rebuilt following the 1906 earthquake. Even while the rest of America was having a love affair with the car during the 1950s, local protesters were busy stopping freeways from running through town.

S.F.'s 'Painted Ladies' in America's 2nd most walkable city.
Photo: flickr | Paul Lowry

As a result, 17 of its neighborhoods rank among the top 150 most walkable in the country, with Chinatown and the Financial District sitting behind only New York's TriBeCa, SoHo and Little Italy. Only 1% of the city lives in areas dependent on cars.
This has made the city's mass transit especially vital. Despite the expense and lack of deals for monthly passes, the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway system carried more than 100 million passengers last year and the San Francisco Municipal Railway took on another 209.5 million. That doesn't include other commuter rail and bus service from Silicon Valley and elsewhere that added more than 20 million riders to the mix. San Francisco might want to consider clamoring for a walkability recount.
"The margin is very small," Herst says. "Both cities are very walkable and we're calling on our community to vote for the city they think is more walkable to help break the virtual tie."

1. New York
Walk Score: 85.3

Manhattan's 16 miles long and two miles wide and has been walkable since the days when the only other transportation option involved an animal. Densely packed areas such as Brooklyn's Fort Green, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens and Bay Ridge, Queens' Sunnyside and Astoria/Long Island City and the South Bronx, University Heights and Fordham neighborhoods in the Bronx are giving Manhattan a run for the money thanks to tightly packed areas that are only increasing in density.
"New York's narrow move past San Francisco in the 2011 ranking is largely a result of updated census data," Herst says. "There are more people living in more walkable neighborhoods in New York."

N.Y.'s Central Park in America's most walkable city.
Photo: flickr | ZeroOne

The Metropolitan Transit Authority is feeling every bit of that growth, too. Last year, the MTA moved more than 3.2 billion riders with its buses and subways, with more than two-thirds of that total riding the rails. That doesn't even count the 81 million commuter rail riders taking the Metro-North, another 95 million on the Long Island Railroad, 4.3 million on the Staten Island Railway and millions more coming in on New Jersey trains.
Not only is the overwhelming majority of New York eminently walkable, but only 2% of all New Yorkers live in neighborhoods that require owning a car.