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.