Fake Steve

I’ve been reading the Secret Diary of Fake Steve Jobs for a while and generally get a real kick out it. I’m a Mac fan and the parody of Steve Jobs is really well done. For over a year no one knew who Fake Steve was despite the many journalists and tech analysts trying to figure out. Fake Steve Jobs became a phenomenon on the Internet until he was finally busted by a NYT journalist in August last year. The site has continued, but now we all know that the author is really Dan Lyons from Forbes magazine. Today I found this really funny talk with Dan Lyons explaining how the blog came about – the guy is REALLY funny.

How did you get here?

I always find it interesting how people get to this blog. WordPress gives me some statistics about how many people access the blog daily, how many came from a link in another site and how many came from a search on Google. The last one also gives me what terms people searched to find this site. Often it is some obvious thing like Ronaldinho, my name, camper shoes, castellers, jabuticaba (that one is a champion, with daily hits). And if you haven’t hung out here often, yes, this blog is that unfocused. Every once in a while people enter less obvious things. Yesterday, at least three people entered “two black girls who are best mates” and found my site. Go figure. Another popular choice is “weird people”.

The stats also tell me there are about 140-240 people who come by daily. So how about introducing yourself and sharing how you got here?

Blogs

As I explained before, I started this blog mostly as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family; a way of sharing photos and stories of our year in Barcelona without clogging people’s emails with big files or trying to remember to whom we forgot to send the email. What I didn’t realize is that blogging encourages you to read other blogs and by reading and participating in other blogs, you eventually meet many people. The term blogosphere came to symbolize a real place to me, sort of like a virtual pub where one can meet all sorts of interesting people. Some of these people I met in person. Others I hope to meet someday.

I’ve been asked to pick five blogs that are among my favourites and share them with you. It’s very hard to pick among the many that dot my bloglines but here they are:

Sindrome de Estocolmo – By far the best in terms of the discussions in engender, the balance of serious and light-hearted posts (we even watched the Oscars together!), and the positive energy that Denise projects. Reading it greatly inspired me to become more engaged with the world around me. It’s written in Portuguese.

A Wandering Woman Writes from Spain – Erin quit a high paying corporate job in big-city America to move to a small town in Spain. Her enthusiasm for the language and her interest for the local culture are inspiring, particularly for someone like me, who was also bitten by the Spanish bug. She’s also a superb writer. Written in English.

A Era do Gelo e Cravo e Canela no Canadá – I cite these two together because they are the best of a long list of blogs written by Brazilians to chronicle their process of immigration to Canada. Paula, of Era do Gelo, works in PR and moved with her husband to Toronto from São Paulo not too long ago. Her writing is amazing! As good as Erin’s. Daniel is behind Cravo e Canela and both him and his wife are architects planning their big move to Canada. His enthusiasm and dedication – as well as positive attitude – towards the whole immigration process is very commanding. Canada is very lucky for being able to attract people like him. Both are in Portuguese.

Na Terra do Cachorro Frito – The hilarious adventures (or misadventures) of a Brazilian journalist’s adaptation to China, after five years in Barcelona, had me in stitches many times. Her previous blog about her life in Barcelona was also very funny. Very well written as well. In Portuguese.

Yalla. She’s very intelligent, engaged, and funny. I met her in 1995 when she was barely 18 and had come to the big city to try to get into university. I had never met anybody with a purer heart or a more honest outlook. She’s now an anthropologist and a belly dancer who managed to fuse her personal interests with her field of studies. In Portuguese.

I know I cheated a bit and manage to squeeze an extra blog on the list – which was supposed to include only 5 blogs. It’s so hard to choose!! Other ones I read frequently are Always por um triz, In other worlds…, Exilio (In)voluntário, A Vida em BCN, Chocolate & Zucchini, Cantinho do Jota, Bumblebee Sweet Potato, Conexão Rio-Paris, and the list goes on…

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PS: I hadn’t mentioned Alan’s blog because he had sort of abandoned it lately. But now he’s back and inspired again!! So check his blog out for a different angle of some of the storied you’ll see here. He managed to capture very well our last few days in Barcelona.  

Immigration blogs: future academic sources?

One of the reasons I’ve had immigration themes on my mind lately is the profusion of blogs I’ve been reading lately written by Brazilian immigrants (mostly to Canada but a couple to Spain, France or the US).

The blogs written by Brazilians going to Canada are the most fascinating from an academic point of view. The fact that Canada is a country open to immigration doesn’t mean that the process is as easy as hopping on a plane. The main avenue of entry into Canada is as a skilled immigrant and to qualify as such, the prospective immigrant needs to have a minimum amount of schooling (usually university level), work experience, a certain proficiency in English or French, and enough money to support him for the first few months in the new country. For Brazilians the whole process can take around 16 months. So it’s not easy. It requires a lot of investment in time, planning, energy, resources, etc. All of this planning and organization reflects on the blogs written by those imbued by a Canadian dream.

Most of them start writing their blogs the moment they make the final choice, after much soul-searching, to initiate the process. They are usually couples in their thirties or young families looking for a better quality of life. Most have good jobs and good careers in Brazil but are sick of living a life of fear, locked behind tall fences and electric wires. So career and jobs are not the main motivators, but rather the search for a place where they can be assured of safety, respect and a more organized life.

There are usually three phases in this process of immigration.

1. The prospective immigrants (usually a husband and wife) file the application at the Canadian consulate. While they wait – they know it will take some months before they hear back – they research continuously about life in Canada and what to expect. They join support networks of other Brazilians who have gone to Canada, they read Canadian news and listen to CBC Radio. They also start saving as much money as possible and brushing up on their language skills. They try to pick a city. Most have never been to Canada and choosing between Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, etc without ever setting foot in the country can be quite daunting.

2. Visa arrives, move to Canada. The most fun parts to read are the last posts in Brazil and the first few in Canada. The going away parties with family and friends, the difficulty in trying to fit one’s whole life in two 32 kg suitcases, the excitement and the tears. The flight to Toronto – for some, the first international flight – the arrival, going through immigration, the dreamed-off “Welcome to Canada” greeting by the immigration official when he stamps one’s visa.

3. Settling. The first few months. Getting all the pertinent documents, finding a place to live, opening accounts, registering at special programs offered by the government to integrate immigrants into the workforce. From the blogs I’ve read it seems that people in more technical professions such as ITs, engineers, system analysts, programmers seem to find work within the first 2-3 months in their area. That seems to be particularly the case in Toronto. Others from professions in the humanities and social sciences take a bit longer and often need to work for a few months in a co-op (non-remunerated work) to get Canadian experience in their area of work.

It’s fun to follow their first impressions and their positive attitude. Most give updates every few months evaluating their progress and their decision to immigrate. I notice very few disappointments. I think this is mostly because of the extensive research they do before immigrating and their general open-mindness about the whole process. It makes me wish I knew about blogs way back when I immigrated to Canada so I could have documented my process…
Some of my favourites are:

A Era do Gelo

 Cravo e Canela

 Mikix

 Familia Saltense no Canada

 A Marcha dos Pinguins

 CanaDaBoa

 Meu Cantinho

 Destino: Canada

 Brancas Nuvens

 Maple Brasil

….and many others…

Popular

wow! On International Women’s Day this blog got 213 visits!! Alan was all jealous of my new-found popularity – he’s been spending more time on flickr recently and neglecting his blog a bit – I am, after all, the person who was recognized on the street by someone who saw my picture here.

I just wanted to thank everybody who came by and tell them not to feel shy – comments don’t have to be in English, they can be in Portuguese, French, Catalan, Spanish or Latin ;) Welcome to the blog!!

Why I blog…

I’ve been indirectly tagged by Erin to give five reasons why I blog. My answers will not be as elegantly put, but here they are:

1. As a way of keeping in touch

In the past ten years I’ve lived in five different cities in three different countries. My family lives in Brazil and I have friends all over the world. When Alan and I set out to spend a year in Barcelona, we both knew it would be one of those life-changing experiences that we would like to share with our friends. This blog, as the title suggests, was created so that we wouldn’t have to stuff our friends’ e-mailboxes with pictures and stories. This way they are free to log on and catch up whenever they feel like it… And if someone else out there comes across it and learning something about Catalunya and Spain in the process, hey, that’s great!

2.  As a travel journal

Because this has been such an amazing year for us, both Alan and I felt that it was important to keep a record of it for the future. Ideally, I would one day host my blog in my own server so I can be sure the content would never be lost…

Like Erin, the act of writing about my experiences here makes me even more attentive than usual to what goes on around me.

3. To share my photographs

I’ve recently taken up photography as a hobby. It helps me get my mind off my studies and alleviates the stresses of an academic life. Plus, going out with a camera forces me to look at the world very differently and the fact that some of those photographs will end up here later forces me to be more sensitive about what is it about this place that I would like my friends to know, what sort of feelings I would like to share… Besides, my writing is not good enough to stand on its own, I need some pretty pictures to keep my readers entertained ;)

4.  The people

Internet for me has always been about connecting with people.

I still remembered the first time I went on the Internet, back in Jan 1996. Commercial internet was barely on its infancy in Brazil but a cousin of my cousin’s had internet at home since he worked for the WHO (world health organization. We dropped by for a visit, he showed us a couple of websites and then logged on to IRC, an online chat server. It blew my mind away. The idea of being able to talk on real-time with people across the globe was just amazing to me. I had internet at home a few months later.

Through this blog and the blogs of the people who come here, I’ve met many incredible people.  Some have inspired me to be more engaged with the world around me, others have touched me for their open-mindness and positive attitude, some I have met personally, others I keep meaning to, and some are friends or family who have since created their own blogs… The ability to be able to exchange opinions and learn from all the amazing people I have met since I created this blog, keeps me coming back…

5. It helps me think and take a position

People like Denise, Erin, Regina, and my brother Jota, have really inspired me to think more clearly about some of the issues that shape our world today. One of the things I enjoy most in life is to be able to have a good conversation with someone, particularly if that person has different ideas to share. This blog allows me to share something that has been bugging me lately with friends & family around the world, who can then discuss the matter with me…

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Anyone else out there wants to take this on? Let me know if you do!

Meeting friends from the blogosphere

Bruna is a Brazilian web designer who spent many years in France and now lives here in Barcelona. Cris is a Brazilian chemist, who lives in Paris where she does a master in chemistry and works for L’Oreal. We first met in the blogosphere and today we met in person for the first time.

Girls out for lunch

I discovered Bruna’s blog when I was searching for info on living in Barcelona. Somehow her blog came up and I got hooked right away. She seems to be a very positive and adventuresome person, and we would post the odd comment on each other’s blog. She’s also a great writer. I’ve discovered Cris’s blog through Bruna’s site recently and have enjoyed reading her impressions of Paris, a city I love.

Bruna and I have been trying to get together for a while and with Cris in town for a few days, we decided to grab the opportunity and have lunch together. We went to Wushu (no, it’s not the only restaurant in this city! this time it was Bruna’s fault; she suggested it) for lunch where Cris and I had the special of the day:

Curry Rojo con Ternera

Curry rojo con ternera & boniatos (red curry with beef & sweet potatoes)

While Bruna had this wonderful dish:Curry Verde con Gambas y Vieiras

Curry verde con vierias & gambas (green curry with shrimp & scallops) [must have it next time, it looked very yummy]

For dessert, we all had the dessert that came with the special of the day:

Tatin de Manzana

Tatin de manzana con gelado de coco (Apple pie with coconut ice cream)

We walked out very happy and I wish I could have gone with them to explore the city. Alas, I had to work…

But now that I know where Bruna lives and since she swims very near where I work, maybe we can get together more often ;)