Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

America: The Grim Truth (via America: The Grim Truth)

For Brazilians, the USA has always had a much better quality of life. But if you are a Brazilian with earning power, this is not true. Life in Brazil is less stressful (maybe with the exception of Rio and Sao Paulo), people just enjoy life more. And with the growth of its economy, this is proving to be even truer. I have heard Australia has a very good lifestyle, and of course, Europe has always been one of my favorite spots on Earth. I guess the article makes things sound worse than they are, but there are some truths there of course. I am more stressed out than I was in Brazil. And I have less time for leisure (and my commute kills me).

Americans, I have some bad news for you: You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin. If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker. I know t … Read More

via America: The Grim Truth

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ten dating TIPS for men from a Brazilian woman

Here are some tips for guys to consider when asking a woman out. Not every woman will agree with me, since not every woman has the same needs or tastes, but I think some of these listed below may ring a bell with many ladies out there. Even if you are not well off or good looking, these pointers may help you get the second date, and the third and the fourth.

Some dating websites tell men to act like a jerk to make women hooked on them. If you want to attract dysfunctional women, go ahead. If you want to attract smart, emotionally healthy women with their heads tightly screwed to their shoulders, this is a start. This advice is not for the first time you meet (such as in a party or event), and neither for those meeting for the first time through online dating. This advice is for when you already established there is chemistry and interest and you want to go into dating territory as opposed to flirting or friendship.

1) When asking a woman out for a formal date, ask her what kind of food she likes. Choose a restaurant that is closer to her house. Offer to pick her up. If she doesn’t feel comfortable with you, she will drive herself there, but if she doesn’t see you as a threat and has reasonable knowledge about you, where you live, your job, etc, she will like being pampered and the evening will start with an air of romance.

2) Dress accordingly. If it’s dinner, try to look sharp. Dark clothes (slacks and a jacket, or a black top) always make every man instantly more clean cut and elegant looking.

3) Clean short nails (please no nail polish) and a good haircut. If your hairstyle is long, make sure it is clean and smelling nice.

4) Wear nice cologne, enough that she can smell it on you without making her sick.

5) Your car needs to be extremely clean inside. It doesn’t matter what car you have, believe me. If you drive a top of the line car and it is dirty and messy inside, it will be a major turn off. If you take pride in your old Honda she will see you as neater and more reliable.

6) I don’t have to tell you what a mood killer it is for you to be late, even 5 minutes late. She will see that as lack of interest from your part. Remember women need to be desired and wanted. That makes her want you more too. If she feels she is just one more date, one more woman in your little black book, she will see you the same way. Make her feel special.

7) No matter how rich the woman is or how high powered her job is, pay the bill. Don’t just offer to pay. Pay it. Do not let her pay and ignore her attempts to pay. Old fashioned? Yes, but completely based on biology. Again, the woman will feel protected by the man. Even if in practical terms she can afford her half. It also creates an aura of romance. Do you have to pay every subsequent dinner/lunch/show/night out? It all depends on your incomes. If she has a good income and can afford your lifestyle, you should split the bill or alternate paying the bill. If you make a lot more than her, always pay. Unless you want to go eat at Chipotle every time.

8) Do not even glance at another attractive woman while with her. That is in sync with advice #6. You may succeed in making her feel insecure (if that is your way to have a hold on her, think twice-it will backfire later: you will have a jealous and needy girlfriend). Make her feel you have no interest in other women but her. That you are besotted and entranced by her. If you are not, rethink the whole thing. Maybe this is not for you.

9) Do not pour your heart out about all your romantic misadventures. Do not badmouth women as a gender (ouch!) and do not say your ex was crazy. Some men call all women crazy; maybe because they treated them awfully…think about it. If you were married, avoid saying your ex is a “B”. The new date will envision a lifetime of having to deal with a jealous awful ex from hell in her life. If you have problems with your ex-wife, these issues can come to light as your relationship matures. Do not scare her in advance.

10) If your ex left you or cheated on you, don’t tell your new romantic partner. That makes you seem like a loser in her eyes (unless your date is the type that likes to protect poor little me’s who suffered in the hands of the bad witch). This is also something you can tell her over time and when there is more trust.

There are more tips we women can give you guys about dating, romance, relationships. But for starters, think about these 10. And good luck.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Relationships | 6 Comments

Relationship Power Balance

There are many reasons why people stay together. We all know that it is impossible to keep the same level of love and excitement in a relationship that we had in its initial stages. Sexual attraction is linked to levels of the hormone oxytocin (human beings are a cocktail of brain chemicals), which decrease after time- and familiarity.

With human beings living longer lives-sometimes 90 +, the chances we will stay with one partner for 60+ years are very small. The truth is that attraction wanes, and attraction is a powerful reason for romance. Some people fall in love again-to feel that same strong attraction-therefore having 3 or more long term relationships in their lives. In that case, maybe marriage should be revisited as a temporary gig-with a expiration date.

However, there are many advantages of staying with one only partner for decades, especially when there are children involved. So what makes people stay together after the oxytocin has disappeared? We can list several reasons:

1) Common interests, values and goals
2) Love of a family life with their children and grandchildren
3) Having assets together-and the possibility of losing part of these assets
4) Knowing that you won’t do better
5) Fear of being alone

Which brings me to number 4, the purpose of this post. When number 4 changes, many marriages collapse. Why? Because when people feel they can do better than the partner they have, they can start getting antsy. They can start looking around for better opportunities. They feel they can find a “better” mate for themselves-based on how they perceive themselves in the dating market. I could call it the “relationship power balance”, or RPB.

The RPB can affect the dynamics in a couple. These are the changes that can occur:

1) The husband becomes very powerful. He knows he can find a younger/more attractive woman with his new money/fame/position.

2) The wife loses all the pregnancy weight and becomes a “hot babe” again. Suddenly her overweight boring husband is not exciting anymore.

3) The man or the woman in the relationship know they are much better looking than their partner. It is just a question of time for them to start feeling they got a booby prize.

4) Conversely, a man can lose all his money or power and be the weaker party.

5) One of the people in the couple can get sick-reason why, as horrible as it sounds, some husbands leave wives who are fighting cancer (John Edwards come to mind).

6) Too big age difference: the younger half of the couple knows they can do better.

As they say, the one who cares less has the power in the relationship. And I can add that the one who knows his or her “market value” is higher than their partner’s is often the one who ends up caring less. Anyway, this mechanistic (but real) view of relationships aside, there is always the hope that some people truly care enough for their partner that they are able to sustain the inevitable changes that life brings.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Relationships | 4 Comments

Is altruism self serving?

Once you understand that we are not “creatures of god”, but simply evolved beings who grew a complex brain, we become more patient with human faults. And we understand better our intentions.

I have always believed human beings do good actions like charity and activism because they want to feel good about themselves. The goal isn’t material reward, but a kind of psychological high. I think Mother Theresa enjoyed doing what she did; it made her feel valuable and important. When we give money to a cause or a charity, we feel empathetic and happy, which probably increases the dopamine levels in our brains.

Human beings are self protective. Our survival instinct is always at play, except when we make bad choices. Bad choices can be a result of low intelligence, bad parenting, emotional and mental illness. However, humans usually try to do things that make them feel good.

Skeptical much? Yes. I believe we behave and treat others well because we want to survive-and feel good.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Activism, Psychology | Leave a comment

Technology bringing people together

Remember that with the advent of the internet many people thought the digital world would make people isolated? That people would hide behind a computer desk and a nickname and never see anyone?

There are probably people who still hide behind a computer desk, but the techonology we have now has actually brought people closer. Social networking sites like Facebook has kept us in touch with old friends and schoolmates who we would otherwise not be talking to anymore. We can also folllow details of friends’ and relatives’ lives. Email has allowed us to communicate faster and more frequently with everyone we know, and the latest technology has allowed computers and phones with front cameras to show us who we are talking to. That definitely can bring people even closer.

In the past centuries, immigrants would take a ship and go to a faraway land. Most of these immigrants never went back home; never saw or talked to family members again. Letters would take weeks or months to arrive. Communication technology has made distance from loved ones so much easier to put up with.

Video-conferencing is a great tool for those with family in other cities and countries. The use of video conferencing for business has been well explored, but even though we’ve had the technology for over 15 years, the quality wasn’t good enough to make people really use it. The image was often grainy and would freeze continuously. With better bandwith and Skype, Adobe Connect, the iPhone4 (FaceTime) and other Android phones we have now at our disposal a much better video and audio definition.

The latest novelty for communicating with others is the Cisco umi: http://tiny.cc/wmeig. Cisco has a device that linked to a HDTV produces a high quality video of someone who is far away. Grandparents can use video-conferencing to see their grandchildren often, long distance lovers can see each other (although that will never substitute for touch…) and families that live apart can share holidays “together”.

Who doesn’t like technology when it brings comfort and happiness?

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Technology | 1 Comment

The Evolution of Houses

I have done a lot of house hunting in the Washington DC suburbs over the past 13 years. I‘ve seen all types of houses, townhouses and some apartments. I have been to 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and brand new houses. It is quite fascinating how the changes in the way people live are markedly influenced by changes in society.

Bathrooms:
In older houses for example (even the ones that have been remodeled), bedrooms and bathrooms were much smaller. Closets were also small. People had a lot less toiletries. A woman would have a face cream, toothpaste, one lipstick and one perfume. A man had this shaving gear. Nowadays people have tons of lotions, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, eye cream, hand cream, hair products, make up, sunscreens, etc.

Closets:
Clothes were much more expensive before they started being made in China and created with synthetic fibers. People had a lot less items in their closets. Shoes were very expensive, and so were sneakers. When I was a child jeans became popular but were still pricey, so you had one or two pairs of jeans and that was all.
Nowadays you can buy clothes for the price of a hamburger! Clothes are almost disposable items. You can wear them once and give them away or throw them out after a short while. Young women have 10 or more different pairs of jeans. People have clothes in every color and for every occasion, even those who just make ends meet. Some women have a huge collection of shoes. Therefore closet sizes have grown considerably over the last few decades.

Bedrooms:
The focus now is in the master suite. The couple is the main attraction, since the kid’s one day leave. Master bedrooms have grown in size, sometimes having a “sitting room” and its own fireplace. Even the spare bedrooms have grown in space to accommodate toys, TV, computers, etc. No one wants to sleep squeezed between two walls.

Height:
Higher ceilings became the norm. I won’t go as far as to say it’s because humans are taller, but it does give homes a more pleasant and open feeling.

Kitchen:
Once a place to be hidden, kitchens became socializing spaces. People want to show off their kitchen and the use of expensive materials such as granite and steel appliances are becoming the norm. You don’t find this trend in Brazil because many families still have maids. As a remnant of the slavery days, the kitchen is still the place for servants.

Living rooms and Dining rooms:
Formal living and dining rooms are disappearing. People tend to socialize in open areas that include the kitchen, so a separate living room and/or dining room is rarely used. Why waste space with rooms that are not going to be used?

Computer rooms:
Computer rooms came to replace the former office, which was usually used by the head of the house. Computer rooms started showing up in houses in the 90’s, and I predict they will disappear once we have screens all over the house that double as TV and computer and more mobile gadgets such as tablets.

Every decade had its mark in the houses I have visited in the East Coast. I believe other parts of the United States, specially the warm areas such as California and Florida have had a different experience. What trend awaits us for the 10s? Are the MacMansions from the recent decades going to be extinct? Are new homes going to be smaller? Are homes going to be comprised by a large social area that includes a family room/kitchen and some big bedrooms with big bathrooms and big closets?

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Difference between cultures, Lifestyle, Society | 1 Comment

Do American men know how to flirt?

I have heard this complaint from some single Brazilian women I know. They go to bars and parties and spot a man they like. The man looks at them but does not take the initiative. They don’t come over, don’t ask for their number. And if they do meet, these men expect the woman to do the pursuing as well. Many don’t call back, don’t invite the woman out. Hello guys, women like to be pursued. It’s nature.
That brings me to some different values in America and Brazil. Feminism helped many women around the world who had little to no rights. Women now can work, make their own money and never depend on anyone to survive. Women can work in any profession they choose to. It’s hard to imagine that in the 1800’s women were not considered important enough to vote! And to think they were once considered their spouse’s property. Young women born after the 70’s don’t even realize how far women have come in the last 100 years.

Nevertheless, some things remain the same, and they are based on sociobiology. Women are still the only ones who can have children and breastfeed (although men can and should participate in caring for their children), and women are physically weaker than men. When it comes to dating, women still prefer a take charge man. It feels sexier, it feels right. Ask most independent women and they say a man should always pay on a first date. Many women also prefer that the man make more money than they do. It’s an evolutionary trait humans still have where the male protects the female.

Some people think that women’s lib have made men not act protectively towards women anymore. Brazilians are still shocked that women serve (and die in combat) in the American military. I for one am against sending women with small children to combat zones. I am also old fashioned enough to enjoy when a man opens doors for me. I think women want to be independant and equal to men, but also expect some chivalry from them when it comes to romance.

When it comes to flirting, most women I talk to prefer that the man take the initial steps in getting to know them. It must be hard for the shy types, but they need to make an effort. Brazilian women are used to Brazilian men being more aggressive. They know how to flirt. They know how to make the woman feel desired. I have heard that men of Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian or Germanic descent have more difficulty in this arena, since their cultures don’t emphasize expressing emotions and sexuality. Go to Rome and you will see how Italians aggressively chase women. No wonder the expression “Latin Lover”. I wonder if American men became lazy because women started taking charge of romance. Or are they naturally shier? Or are there already too many women after them? What is your perspective single folks?

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Difference between cultures, Relationships | 6 Comments

A Traditional Brazilian Family

I have some distant cousins in Brazil that represent a lot of the Brazilian values I have talked about in this blog. I spoke to them via Facetime the other day and enjoyed seeing them all. The father and mother are in their late 50’s. They are considered “upper middle class” and have a very good lifestyle. This lifestyle includes a residence in the city and a country “resort”, with soccer fields and swimming pools. The father looks great for his age and being a wealthy man, could have gone the selfish route and exchanged his wife of 35 years for a younger woman. However, they remain married, and the wife said he is getting better and better as a husband. How many women can say that? She too looks very good for her age, dressing in that youthful style that many Brazilian women have: slender, long hair, trendy.

The couple has two sons. You would think that being the sons of a wealthy man they would be involved in drugs or behave like playboys who wreck the sports car Daddy gave them. None of that. Both sons (late 20’s) are married and are doctors. The oldest son has a daughter. Nice Brazilian guys from good families get married to another nice Brazilian woman from a good family and settle down early. And they stay married. The family is very important. They were all together celebrating NYE in their summer house. Everybody looked healthy and happy. They have a cook who they treat like family. Most Brazilians with a high financial status such as this family has cooks, maids and gardeners. Their leisure time is for the family. Here in America you see so many husbands and wives who spend their weekends mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and fixing things that little time is left for just hanging out and talking to their family members. I know there are many families like this one in America. I would like my readers to tell me about stable families in America they know. Families not plagued by divorce, single mothers, drugs, prison time, cheating, etc.

I was very impressed by this family. I concede that having money helps everyone. It can make people happier and look better. It can allow them nice things and vacations that make them happier. But don’t we all know many families that have money and are super dysfunctional? This is an example of a balanced family which is rarer and rarer these days. Where the concept of marriage, kids and family is more important than selfishness and individualism.

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, Difference between cultures, Family, Society | 5 Comments

Age is not just a number

There are people who get older and complain all the time about how horrible it is to get older. These are the types who always see the glass half empty. Then there are those who are completely in denial of the effects aging have in their body, and like to repeat the mantra that “age is just a number”. They always avoid any reference to their real age and try to dress and behave like someone much younger. These are the types who see the glass always half full.

I think a better balance is to be a realist. You know there are changes happening to your body (and later unfortunately, to your mind) and you need to deal with them. However, you can have an active life and enjoy it as long as you live. There is no age where enjoying life and doing things you like is too old. Don’t let people tell you you are too old for this or for that. Do you want to go to medical school at the age of 60? Do it if you wish. Do you want to get married again at 80? Why not? Do you want to jump off a plane at 75 (like Bush Senior did)? Who can stop you? Do you want to wear boots at the age of 70? The hell with the naysayers. Do what you want and what pleases you.

As for the effects of aging, they are undeniable. If you are in the denial group, you can pretend they don’t affect you, but they will. Some women start feeling the effects of perimenopause in their late 30’s. Most people start losing their reading vision after 40. Very few don’t. That is a major impairment in the quality of one’s life, when you need reading glasses for everything, from reading instructions in a box of food to reading the panel of your car. As far as I know, there isn’t a laser eye surgery for farsightedness yet. When you get older, your bones and muscles give you more trouble. You feel more pains in your body, whether it’s on your feet, legs, back or neck. Even people who are athletic feel the strain in their muscles and bones. Your sleeping patterns change too. You are more plagued with insomnia and you start going to bed earlier, and waking up earlier too. As you age, your hearing might also not be the same anymore, and you need to raise the volume of your TV (especially for the “disco” generation like mine who used to dance in very noisy nightclubs and listen to music in “walkmens”..).

When it comes to your appearance, there are many things you can do to look younger. If you exercise daily, eat a healthy diet and moisturize your skin, you can slow down the aging process. If you do exterior maintenance like coloring your hair (grey hair ages a lot, especially in women), dressing young and wearing the right make up, you can also have a much more youthful look. However, no matter what you do, you can look GOOD for your age, but you will never look young again.

One of my friends works in a designer store where she talks to rich old women in a constant basis. Some of these women have plastic surgery from their forehead to their toe, and actually look nice. But my friend said that no matter how much surgery they had, she can tell exactly how old they are by looking at little things like their upper arm, neck and hands. Dead giveaway. That makes you think that you can’t hide your age forever, and that becoming obsessive about plastic surgery will only put your health and bank account at risk.

I understand that for middle aged folks looking good is important for their careers. In a recession and with a depressed job market, that is even more essential. In Brazil, more women hide their age than in America. Not only they hide their age more, they also lie a lot about it. The pressure to look young is worse in Brazil, where it is more acceptable for a man to date a much younger woman.

Aging is not fun and it is not easy, but somehow we have to accept that as a reality of life that affects everyone, and that the generations come and go. Try to be as healthy as possible and keep your health in check by going to the doctor and taking all the recommended tests. Do what makes you feel good. Don’t be in denial and obsessed with looking young but don’t see yourself as a has-been either.

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Difference between cultures, Lifestyle | 1 Comment

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 6 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 33 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 194 posts. There were 48 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 29th with 917 views. The most popular post that day was Male Circumcision.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, answers.yahoo.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, and righthealth.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for circumcision, circumcised, ten commandments, 10 commandments, and chelsea clinton.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Male Circumcision January 2008
21 comments

2

Advice for American men dating Brazilian women July 2008
191 comments

3

Atheists and Morals November 2007
1 comment

4

Why Brazilian women have such nice “derrieres” October 2008
8 comments

5

The most beautiful women ever December 2007
5 comments

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Blogroll | Leave a comment