Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Arlindo comes to the rescue

Walking around the house barefoot is no longer an option. Tonight changed everything.

After six days of warm and very wet weather, a spider - an extremely venomous one, I am unreassuringly told - confronts me in the darkened corridor outside Phase 2.

It's time to call the Spiderman.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still standing

W swimming with Tango

Only W remains. A and J were returned to their homes last week and L - sadly - decided to jump the wall. More on that later.

For now, my attentions are focused on this one adolescent who is the only one left. And not for the first time. It happened when we reintegrated four children last year, and now it happens once again. It's like some twisted game of musical chairs and he is always the last one standing.

No longer a child. As an adolescent, he doesn't confide much, but one doesn't have to be trained in child psychology to guess what he must be feeling right now. All I can do is give him attention and love so that he knows that there is someone who wants him (even though none - not one member - of his family want to know).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shooting kids

"Photography is the product of complete alienation"
- Marcel Proust

Who knew?

Glad to see that (1) Brazil is behind the US and (2) Britain is still good (or, the least bad) at something.

The Economist
, 9 December 2010


Family life was a story of parental indifference, of a young man's estrangement and of his rebellion against the artificial values and bigotry he witnessed at home. "Being an orphan," Albee quietly intones, "I imagined perhaps that I was an identical twin because there was something missing - not having parents or anything of that sort. I would have lots of conversations with me pretending that I was my identical brother."

Financial Times, September 4, 2010

I dreamed a dream

The "sweet soul"

brothers and sisters
São Paulo, 5 December, 2010

"Other muscles can simulate a smile, but only the peculiar tango of the zygomatic major and the orbicularis oculi produces a genuine expression of positive emotion. Psychologists call this the “Duchenne smile,” and most consider it the sole indica­tor of true enjoyment. The name is a nod to French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne, who studied emotional expression by stimulating various facial muscles with electrical currents. (The technique hurt so much, it’s been said, that Duchenne performed some of his tests on the severed heads of executed criminals.)

In his 1862 book Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine, Duchenne wrote that the zygomatic major can be willed into action, but that only the “sweet emotions of the soul” force the orbicularis oculi to contract. “Its inertia, in smiling,” Duchenne wrote, “unmasks a false friend.”

Psychological scientists no longer study beheaded rogues — just graduate students, mainly — but they have advanced our understanding of smiles since Duchenne’s discoveries. We now know that genuine smiles may indeed reflect a “sweet soul.” The intensity of a true grin can predict marital happiness, personal well-being, and even longevity. We know that some smiles — Duchenne’s false friends — do not reflect enjoyment at all, but rather a wide range of emotions, including embarrassment, deceit, and grief. We know that variables (age, gender, culture, and social setting, among them) influence the frequency and character of a grin, and what purpose smiles play in the broader scheme of existence. In short, scientists have learned that one of humanity’s simplest expressions is beautifully complex."

Source: APC

I didn't know it bothered you

I appear to be writing more apologies than newsworthy blog entries at the moment. So much. So very much to write about concerning these last few turbulent weeks.

Like Conrad, "the sight of a pen and an inkwell fills me with anger and horror". In this case, it's my trusty SPD.

Sometimes I become paralysed by a fear that I will not be able to express what I feel with sufficient justice (or, perhaps, dignity). Like when I buy a new album from an artist I really like and don't play it for ages just in case it turns out to be rubbish.

When I miss home

When I miss home, I listen for the comforting clackety-clack of the train.
When I miss home, I log-on to Radio 4.

When I miss home, I re-read old letters from mum.

When I miss home, I pray.

Not a good wash day

hot, humid mornings + wet, angry afternoons = summer