Os Parrella--and an Inimiga

Mixing this post up with some fun and some intrigue. Enjoy:

Below is a picture of me with two of my favorite families of all time. On the left are the Menossis. Rodrigo was one of my best friends and companions in Manaus, and continues to be a great friend. His "princess," Isabella, may be the most perfect match to a man that I have ever seen. On the right are the Parrellas--my Mission Parents. Berenice was my new mother as soon as she stepped foot off the airplane and into Manaus. Her one request while I was here, other than come to their house for dinner, was that I make an apple pie with them. It was delicious, even if I say so myself. And there's Adelson Parrella on the end. He may be the most spiritual man I have ever met in my life, and as you can see in the picture, he has a twinkle in his eye that is only matched by the hop in his step. His infectious love for life and his great friendship has endeared himself to me as no one else beyond my own family. Such great friends, my only regret is that I can't see them more often.

Also, for those of you tickled by my one-time encounter with a cranky pregnant woman on a Brazilian Bus, this one's for you:

I never thought the day would come, but I've finally made an enemy. And in BRAZIL of all places--land of love, rice & beans, and the lowest suicide rate on earth. These people are incredibly happy--usually. But apparently the magical hormonal process that is pregnancy apparently overrides all of that southern joy.
She did it again today. This time, though, I wasn't even sitting. It was rainy this morning; not much, just a light dusting, enough to make it rather dreary on the bus. I had been riding for about twenty minutes, fairly pleased with my spot, wedged between two fairly-well mannered bus riders who kept their hands to themselves, and with my bag mostly resting on the seat in front of me (I'm facing the window). While trying my best to stay out of everyone's way, and DEFINITELY NOT SITTING IN THE DEFICIENCY ROW, up from behind reached a withered, leathery claw of a hand to tap me twice on the shoulder. Slowly turning my head, I found her eyes burning holes into mine: "Hey, sonny, I need to stand there!" she hissed. IT WAS HER--The same crotchety pregnant woman from last week! The shock of it made my brain literally fart, and I uttered 'deficiency woman' as Seinfeld used to utter 'Newman.' What is this? I thought A deficiency standing area?!Luckily, however, my brain was thinking in English at the time, and no one noticed my own verbal backhanded slap. Not wanting another "situation" with this woman, I tried my best to swim over the mass of people preventing me from moving. But as I was trying to slowly work my way around her, she began throwing her elbows around like Karl Malone with hips. She forced me to make my way awkwardly down the aisle, holding my laptop bag (IE--"The BIG HEAVY") aloft so as to not knock out any other smaller Brazilians, and squeeze into a mass of hands, purses, and bums, all trying to jockey for a better position at the back of the bus. Turning my head to see where the villain of my comic book life had stationed herself, I saw her comfortably wedged into the sweet spot I had previously occupied, looking rather pleased with herself. Before she got off--which happened to be at the NEXT STOP, I swear I heard her laughing hysterically in her scratchy, high-pitched poice. At that exact moment, The Foo Fighters' "My Hero" began to play on my iPod. I don't know if it was ironic or just flat out crappy. Either way, it just added to the already gloomy day.

Really, though, life is sunny and happy. Keep on keepin' on, gente! UM ABRACO!!!



A Templo....in....MANAUS!!!!!!!

Well, everyone, the day finally arrived. I visited my Mission President over the weekend in Riberao Preto, and the first thing he told me was, "Elder Vogeler, I have great news--they just announced the temple in Manaus!" I don't know if everyone remembers this or not, but perhaps I've never prayed for something so often or fervently as I did and do for a temple in Manaus. The members of the church used to have to travel from their homes in the Amazon Basin of Northern Brazil three days by boat to the port town of Porto Velho and then another 2-3 day bus ride to Sao Paulo. After spending about a week doing genealogy and vicarious work for their ancestors, these lovely people would have to return the same way they came. (For you working stiffs, a three week vacation is often difficult, if not impossible--especially when you're trying to just feed your family). I met men and women who would sacrifice their time, their money (minimum wage=approximately 180 dollars....a month), and sometimes even their homes just to visit the Sao Paulo temple once in their lives. Well, finally, that sacrifice is being rewarded.

Below is a satellite photo of Manaus, the river with its origin in the top left corner is the Rio Negro and the river coming up from the bottom left-ish is the Rio Solimoes--together, these rivers form the mighty Amazon. Manaus is the little fluff of cotton, right near where the two rivers meet up. (Tidbit: the rivers flow side by side for about 200 miles before finally mixing, due to their different PH levels and temperatures. Their confluence is called the Meeting of the Waters, or Encontro das Aguas--see 2nd photo below)

Aside: Guess who's working in the law firm who's taking care of all the legal matters concerning Temple construction in Brazil?! You got it! ERIC BOYD--in case you didn't get it. We'll see if I can't get my hands on some of the proceedings, and maybe even take part in the negotiating/wrangling/fenagling. HA! I LOVE IT! I can't tell you how exciting this has been, and how serendipitous it was that I got to meet with President Parrella the very weekend the Temple was announced. I guess the best way to sum it all up is the Lord works in mysterious ways--and extends his tender mercies at the most unexpected times.

This temple will be constructed on the banks of the Rio Negro (above), on a stretch of beach called the Ponta Negra. Some of my family (minus Timmy--bum) and I have visited the Ponta Negra and can attest to its beauty--the water seems like more an inland sea than a flowing river, and the waves stirred up by the wind can capsize overloaded boats. This happens to be about the only place in Manaus that isn't insufferably hot. Additionally, and this might be the coolest thing I've heard in a very long time, this will be the first temple to include a port entrance, for those members of the church who arrive by boat, rather than by car or bus. (Note, more people in the Amazon own and use boats than those who use any other mode of transportation). Well, before I start slipping into cliches and get super stuffy, I'll make an end. Viva Brasil, Viva Manaus, Viva o Senhor!!! Um GRANDE Abraco,



Advogado=An Attorney by Another Name

Just thinking about this recently--attorneys in Brazil are called "Advocates." Not lawyers, not law-talking-guys, not jerks, not even by their first name. On top of having that very cool, very professional title, everyone here calls them "Dr." That means, for the first and last time in my life, people call me "Dr. Eric." And while a good friend pointed out that "Dr. Eric" sounds like a chiropractor's name, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to actual named respect. To say the least, I'm soaking it up.
Anyway, sorry it's been 10 days since my last post. There's really not too much to report--some days there's lots to do, other days, not so much. One day it's a property proceeding where some dude has tried to invade and adversely possess part of the LDS Church's real estate in the city of Sao Paulo, the other it's filing tax exemption forms. My goodness, I wish you could have seen my eyes light up when I learned I'd be helping out on an adoption case. Dorky, I know, but still cool as a box of frozen Nerds(tm). To give you more stories from my daily commute, here's one from just this morning.
This morning, while sitting on the bus, trying to get through another 1 hour ride to work on the crowded bus, I didn't notice that I was sitting in the "Deficiency Row"--reserved for the elderly, the pregnant, the deficient, or, apparently, the American. Tootling away down the highway, the bus picked up a big group of people who quickly filed into the front of the bus. A fairly large, middle-aged woman in this group tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Oh, young man, there's an elderly gentleman who needs to sit down." I quickly stood up and said "He can sit here." But from the row on the other side of the aisle, a kindly young man offered his seat instead, as he was about to get off the bus. "Beleza!" I thought, which is portuguese for Beautiful. I sat down again, hoping to get back into my read-out-loud novel (A Storm of Swords, by NY Times Bestselling Author and Hugo Award Nominee, George RR Martin, TIME Magazine's "American Tolkien"--in hardcover and paperback wherever books are sold). Just as quickly as it took to write that little review, the same woman who asked me to give up my seat to the old man came over to me, obviously upset and said (loosely translated): "Are you deficient?!" (Now, two thoughts entered into my mind--first, 'what does she mean by that?' and 'maybe she's just asking how long I'm going to sit here through this oddly phrased question.' I went with the latter). I responded "Well, I'm not getting off for quite some time, not until Avenida "X," to try and justify why I was sitting down. That was the wrong answer, apparently. Now, really upset, she looked at me and with saliva flying from her quivering lips, she cried, very slowly "ARE YOU D-E-F-I-C-I-E-N-T?!!!" Looking back on it, I should have grinned and said, "No, ARE YOU S-T-U-P-I-D?!" but that would have been mean and quick thinking. I tend to avoid both at all costs. Thus, I simply responded, "No, ma'am, I'm not deficient." To which she replied "Then GET OUT OF THAT SEAT!" Still confused, I realized to my horror, after she had nearly thrust her swollen belly in my face, that this woman was not merely stronger than your average Brazilian, she was probably 7 months pregnant and quite upset that I had not given up my seat to her. I'll tell you what, though, she hid it well--everyone around my on the bus let out an audible gasp when she revealed her state! It was like having my own sitcom soundtrack, only no cute Michelle to look somewhat confused and say "How Rude!"
She looked like this, only really mad!!!!
As a final note, to prove to you that I'm probably Terrestrial at best, Celestial only if my wifey is beyond perfect, I was this close to turning around and saying "Are you pregnant or deficient, because I can't tell?" But that would have been mean, and the really cute Brazilian girl next to me on the bus wouldn't have talked to me afterwards. So, I guess, karma works in mysterious ways.
Love you all, and hope that your summers are as fun as mine. Tomorrow: Freak cold front freezes Brazil. National State of Emergency!


In Honor of the Recent Rocky Spate

Well, everyone, I thought with all of this talk of Ross Anderson that I'd throw in two cents that I wrote for the Chrony a couple of years ago. I think it won me some kind of recognition or something, but I just really had a good time writing it. Let me know what you think:
THE BOOK OF ROCKY: HIS POLITICAL MINISTRY AND REIGN Chapter One 1. And lo, it came to pass, that a man rose up out of the north, in a land called Salt Lake City, near unto a lake that stinketh, in a time of political unrest. And great was his rise, as was his ego. 2. And he did covet the mayor's seat. 3. And in the Year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety and nine, the people of Salt Lake City were drunken in their voting. And the political drink was strong, and the man won mayorship. 4. And this man's name was Ross; and Ross called himself "Rocky," after the manner of Stallone. 5. Now it was the manner of this people to elect one man to execute power and one council to advise and balance the power of that man. 6. And it came to pass in the first year of the reign of the Rock that great rumblings and turmoil arose at the council seat. And Rocky's wrath did grow. 7. And lo, he said unto the people of the land, I am Rocky, and great and terrible are my workings: great for some, and terrible for those who oppose me. Follow me, or face my verbal gnashings and labored firings. 8. And he did institute his will on the people, taxing their patience with a great taxing. 9. And Rocky dwelt in the mayor's office. 10. Lo, in the second year of the reign of the Rock, the world gathered together in the tops of the mountains, and didst ski and sleigh and skate in attempts to gain victory over the other. 11. And the Salt Lake City had become a fair and delightsome place, a peculiar place where families thrived, industry grew and corners of the world met in worship, in friendship and in community. 12. And this peculiar place had risen up in the desert, like a rose. 13. But this rose, to the nose of the Rock, did neither smell so sweet, nor did it "do it for him." 14. And as the world came with their liquors and late dancing, it entered into Rocky's heart to change the city from what it once was. 15. For the people of Salt Lake City did not call for late dancing, neither did they thirst for strong liquors. And this didst irk Rocky. 16. And so, in the third year of the reign of the Rock, he did commence his great plan to drag Salt Lake City into wine and drink, into dancing and raucous celebrations. 17. Nevertheless, the cords with which Rocky bound his people were neither fine, nor were they strong. 18. For Rocky didst attempt to sway his people toward looser liquor laws and later dancing curfews. And the people heard him not, and the council didst hear the voice of the people, and they called for it not. 19. And Rocky swore, with a great swearing, that he would still have his way. Great thanks go out to Nephi for providing the initial structure of this and to Anne Jamison for instilling a great love for satire in me. It ain't no Modest Proposal, but it'll do. Auf wiedersehen! Tchau Tchau!


Well, I'm back and in Brazil, baby! Rolled in to the Guarulhos International Airport at about the same time as the Pope. I think we're a lot alike, only he's German, Catholic, and gets a lot more airtime on the TV. ;D. I'm really excited to be back here and to be able to try my hand at both some professional and legal work here. Seriously, it was great to get back, get on a bus and try and make sense of a city that just kind of grew up in spite of itself. Unfortunately, (warning--I'm about to take this metaphor farther than anyone probably wanted) this city grew up with a serious case of chickenpox that never healed, bad acne, bowed legs, buck teeth, and a good ol', Brazilian Style smack with the Ugly Stick. I.e., it's very poorly organized. Just to give you a feel for some of what I'm dealing with while down here doing my externship, I left my house today at 7:45. The place I work at is only 4 miles away (think East High to Temple Square), but I didn't arrive until 8:45. It was even worse coming home--I left the office at 6:00pm and didn't get home until 7:30. So what ended up being a 12-hour ordeal only counted as a 9-hour work day. Fun! The above picture is a fairly good on of the street I'm working on--Avenida Engenheiro Luis Carlos Berrini, affectionately known as "the Berrini." (Beh-HE-knee). Having never visited the Law Offices of Cerqueira Leite Advogados Associados, I was a little bit anxious in making my way there this morning, but everything went smoothely, and I found it without any serious problems. But for anyone out there thinking "Oh, that sounds so great" let me give you a small grain of salt: Like any bus, there is a limit to how many people can occupy any given Brazilian bus and maintain safety for all the passengers. The theoretical limit is posted at the front of the bus, and usually goes anywhere from 40-80, depending on the size of the bus. The actual limit imposed on a Brazilian bus is that set by the laws of physics. I kid you not, if there is a people that could figure out how to fold paper in half more than seven times, Brazilians would do it in order to make more room in their buses.

It's actually kind of fun to have so many people in the same bus because you can usually let go of your handholds at some point and just kind of rock back and forth with everyone else. Also, I figure there's no safer place you could be than in the middle of about 250 other very sweaty people. Accidents? Human Airbags. Armed Robbery? Human Bullet-Proof Vests. Really, it's a very nice system.

As for the legal work, that's coming. I'll put up a post later about my experiences with the Lei Brasileira. Ta certo, gente? FEITO!!!


The Great American Delve in '012.

Bob your topic is - A 2012 debate featuring Rocky the Democratic Presidential nominee vs Hannity the Republican Presidential nominee 2012: The future looks bleak in the old Salt Lake Valley. The 9.5 “Quake in ‘08” liquefied most of the habitable Wasatch Front, and what was left made Rose Park look an oasis in the desert. However, riding the wave of sympathy for his adoptive state, Mitt Romney destroyed Hilary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential Election. The resulting Republican exultation was mitigated, however, by Mitt’s inclusion of Senate Majority Leader, and prominent Democrat, Harry Reid in his cabinet as Secretary of State. After a slew of Natural Disasters hit the nation, including a mass immigration of locusts and a surprising number of bloody rivers throughout the MidWest, Mitt garnered the nickname “Moses.” His cabinet’s refreshingly efficient approach to disaster relief, which earned it the affectionate nickname “The Relief Society,” coupled with his ingenious, Smithian approach to national economics, and his miraculous resurrection of Social Security (just make everyone pay 10% of their income into savings!) left Romney nearing the second presidential nomination period of his career in early 2011. Realizing the invincible nature of their incumbent president’s electability, both parties throw respective “White Elephant” and “White Donkey” get-togethers at their national conventions to talk about who would dare to even try to topple Moses Mitt or joke about who they could throw against him. Thoroughly sloshed from all of the Cognac and swanky wine being tossed about at these parties, someone from the Donkey party called the Elephants and said “heeeeeeeeeey, Dorrish! We’ll nominate that Rosky Andersin guy if you promish to put up Shhhhaun Hannininity as a potenshial nauminee.” The equally inebriated reply exploded through the phone line—“OKeedokee! Toga!!!!!” Thus was born the scene we have tonight, here live on MSNBCBS, MTViacorp, Inc. We thank those who have tuned in, and for those who have finally abandoned “24.” Welcome back to real life. As a special treat, we have asked Simon Cowell, former critic of American Idol, to mediate this debate. Over to you, Simon! Simon: Thanks for the invitation. I’d just like to say that it’s your pleasure to have me. To the nomination candidates here with us tonight, I will lay out one rule: Sing well. You may begin. Rocky: Ummmm….Simon, I don’t think that’s part of a good debate. Simon: Says who?! You? I’m the critic here. (Turns and raises his arms, showered by cheers from the audience) Hannity: I think you’re a great American, Simon, and thus I’m going to sing the Star-Spangled Banner! (Begins to sing. Cut off after boos drown out his cracking voice) Simon: That was horrible. Plus, I’m not even American. But even if I were, I would have left after that slaughter! I’ve never said this before, but I will now—even Paula would have hated it. Next, we enter the question phase. Each candidate will have 10 words with which to phrase their answer, so choose carefully. Who is your hero and why? Mr. Hannity, you may go first. Hannity: Why, any Great American who happens to appear on my radi… Simon: 10 words, you’re done. Sit down. Mr. Anderson? Rocky: (Carefully counting on his fingers) In all honesty, I have to answer: “myself.” I’m awesome! Simon: That’s refreshingly narcissistic! Next question will be yours to answer first, Mr. Anderson. What is your favorite color? Rocky: Any shade of green, and throw in a bit of blue. Hannity: To tell you the truth Mr. Cowell, I’m particularly fond of light purple. I find the mix of good ol’ Red, White, and Blue to be not only patriotic, but regal. That reminds me of the time that I got to sit down with the King of Syria and he told me how great America was. I had Carrie Underwood write a Country Music song to illustrate it in a great American way, kind of like Apple Pie in B-Flat Major. If we have time at the end of the debate I’ll play it for everyone. Simon: That would be…terrible Mr. Hannity. On to the next question: What is your quest? Mr. Hannity… Hannity: Really, I only have one quest in mind when I think about how great America is and how many Great Americans we have living in this country: Keeping America as Great as it always was and is for the rest of eternity. I’m willing to pay whatever price it takes, unlike the mayor here who just wants to travel the country and bash Bush—who has been out of office for four years now—Mr. ex-Mayor. That reminds me of a comment a soldier once made to me about chicken, biscuits, and hand grenades. Let me see if I can get it straight… (From the audience a woman screams “You’re a Great American, Shaun!”)…no, no, ma’am, YOU’RE a Great American! (A little bit louder, “No, YOU are a Great American”). Ma’am, I hate to disagree with you on this because you’re such a Great American, but I have to argue you that, indeed, YOU, and YOU ALONE, are the Great American. (To which the woman cheerfully shouts “Agree to Disagree!”). No, you listen here Auntie Mae, there is no disagreement here. You’re either with me or you’re against me. Which one is it, missy?! ‘Cause if it’s the latter, I promise you I will blow you up before you can even reach for your Ji-hadist bomb vest!!! (Pulls out what looks to be a remote control with a giant red button in the middle as the audience grows incredibly quiet.) Simon: Well. That was assertive, but I don’t know how I feel about the execution. If it were up to me alone, you wouldn’t move on to the next round, but thankfully, the audience has a say in this too. Mr. Anderson, the same question to you: What is your Quest? Rocky: I’m glad you asked, Mr. Cowell. My quest is 5-fold with a contingency plan in the oven in case it doesn’t work out. First, I’d like to save the world from pollution. I once watched a program which heavily influences my politics. In fact, I’ve adopted its slogan as my own: “Earth! Air! Wind! Water! (and Heart!)—with our powers combined, we are Captain Rocky!!!” (Throws his hands into the air). I believe that combining our own elemental and emotional powers, we can overcome the great evil that is global warming. I mean, seriously, have you SEEN the pigs that are dumping toxic waste into our tropical waters?! Do you know how many dolphins have died in the last year?! Second, and this kind of dovetails into the first, I want to save those really cute penguins in Antarctica—you know, the ones in the movie? Without those little guys, we probably wouldn’t even have evolved. Third, I want to see if I can fire or remove EVERYONE in my cabinet while working in another publicly elected position. As mayor, it felt a little bit like shooting fish in a barrel at the City/County Building. I’d like another go at it as a Secretary of Something or Governor even. Who knows? Fourth, I want everyone to know just exactly how much I care about certain issues. In order to do this, I need taxpayer money, lots of free time, and some kind of loaded issue, like premature baby fawn murders, or something like that. By exposing myself to the world while talking about these things in a very loud voice I can also expose the world to these issues. It’s kind of an Avant Garde thing, that no one in Utah would understand. Fifth, and speaking of Utah, I’d like to make the rest of the world know just how ridiculous the LDS Church is. I mean, Faith, Charity, Love?! Come on!!! I see Blindness, Guilt, and Repression!!! That reminds me of the time I was stump-speaking with Cindy and this guy walked up to us and asked where our protest permits were, and I was like ‘Uh-uh!!!’ (Snap, Snap, Snap), and we got arrested together. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!!! (With that last comment, Mr. Hannity’s Head explodes, triggering the anti-Human-Ji-Had-Bomb in his pocket, proving once and for all who really was the Great American) David: Imagine yourself on a deserted island. If you had to give up certain Civil Liberties in Order to be safe, which would you give up and why? In the alternative, would Sanjaya or Lindsay Lohan win in a Back-Handed Smackdown?