Category Archives: technology

Violence-induced media and third-culture children.


I’ve been away from blogging a bit too long, and now, the opportunitiy to bring up my random thoughts on a very intriguing social issue, has arisen. The suggestion for this personal op-piece comes out as Michael Pick pokes us all this week, with the question: “Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? “.  In his own words, “When tragedies happen in the real world because of the violent deeds of a particular individual, the shock and horror that this happened very soon leads to trying to unravel the reason behind how it came to pass.

For some, the violence seen in films is taken as a catalyst or the inspiration for disturbing acts of violence in the real world. For others, blaming film violence for real life tragedies is cutting corners at best and “scapegoating” at worst — an effort to pin complex social or psychological issues on an enemy that can’t fight back…

Violent? :o these are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any little boy's dream!  Image downloaded from the site

Violent? These are Super-Heroes, embedded with super-dupper powers, and any husband’s  little boy’s dream!
Image downloaded from the site


As a parent, a traveler, a ‘serial expat’, and mother of 3 growing TCKs, I believe there are so many factors responsible for shaping up a child’s future – and this is especially true when we’re talking about raising well-adjusted, worldly citizens, well-rounded children, as products of hybrid cultures.

Some of these factors are culture, socialization and the own child’s experience; its perception of the world, and the child’s feelings and frustrations. Unfortunately, due to being exposed to a myriad of social situations and contexts, a so-called ‘third culture child‘ is also more vulnerable to external influences. One of the strongest influences relates to the common day-to-day aspects of life: the innocent act ofabsorbing‘ images and concepts brought home through movies, TV shows, streamed videos, all the so-handy resources offered by the internet! And why not say, through the apparently harmless violence-based children’s video games… :o

Oh, well… so then, what should we do, as parents? Others here already expressed their opinion that simply forbidding the child from watching potentially violent programs/movies, is not the solution, but it does have an impact on the developing mind – and the impact is unlikely positive, unfortunately…

Third culture children are in continuous need to understand the true origins of caring, the need to help others, and the strategies to display a nonaggressive behavior. The key players in order to achieve that level of self-knowledge, comes from parental socialization, the family system, schools and cultural influence. Currently, the easiest and quickest [albeit, not fully harmless!] avenues are the social media tools, television and movies. For younger kids, especially, the last two ‘avenues’ mentioned before, have both a fast and deep impact on the children’s minds, and the way they begin developing their own concepts, affirmations and perceptions about their surroundings.

Children who are growing up under this modern ‘violence-influenced’ scenario, will likely tend to develop the understanding that violence is a regular [and maybe necessary] part of life, which could be extremely dangerous for our future generations.

Again, as a parent, I’m concerned with the loss of sensitivity when it comes to publicly offering free violence viewing to our kids, as if it were part of a healthy environment.

Is reality really as cruel as it’s perceived through the movies? Is it all necessary? What good is it bringing to the upcoming generations?

Too many questions, and not on single answer – at least, not from my parental and confused mind.

We’re all just trying to get by surviving one day at a time, and hoping that our children will turn out to be well-balanced, responsible and loving adults. That’s simply my hope; as much as I’d like to, I don’t have control over my children’s future. I can offer them advice and love, but can’t hide them inside a bubble, making sure they won’t get hurt or even hurt others. This ‘motherly bubble’ doesn’t exist, thankfully… Kids need to be kids and yet, need to experience life. Life as it is. Holywoodian life is not life, it’s not real. The ‘reality’ portrait by movies is not, in fact, real. And the violence offered by movies should always be perceived as what it really is: fiction… :o

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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in children, expat, FAMILY, TCKs, technology


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Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 16, 'Up & Down' in Viña del Mar, Chile]

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The most popular beach resort in Chile, and an easy flight-and-drive from our house in La Paz, Viña del Mar is within reach of both Santiago and Valparaiso. Viña teems with tourists during peak months December, January and February, despite Antarctic currents that make swimming a formidable prospect. Our family went there during Spring/School Break [why not?Renaca Beach is the hippest spot to sink onto the sands – and the ‘chosen spot’ for our oldest kids’ [7 & 5 yrs] ‘acrobatic performances‘… Our 2-year-old daughter is still too shy [and her parents, too cautious!] to give it a try! :o

“Viña del Mar, is a city and commune on central Chile’s Pacific coast. Its long stretches of white sandy beaches are a major attraction for national and international tourists”, from Wikipedia.
Find here, more impressions from other bloggers on “Up”… Thank you all for sharing! ♥



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Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 15, 'Change (in numbers)']


Innovation. Technology. CHANGE.

Using social media tools to change the way the world is perceived. In this case, celebrating the landmark of having 100,000 friends on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia [text extracted & adapted from the US Embassy Bolivia Website, link here] - simultaneously welcoming guests in the five different cities in Bolivia, through webchat technology. Hope on over to their fan page for images from guests in all 5 cities… Number of fans are changing every day… Changing now the way celebrations are done. :o

Photo is current Profile Cover of Facebook Fan Page for the Embajada de Estados Unidos en Bolivia -

Photo is current Profile Cover of Facebook Fan Page for the Embajada de Estados Unidos en Bolivia –

Find here, more impressions from other bloggers on “Change”… Thank you all for sharing! ♥


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2012 in review, according to the WordPress stats helper monkeys…

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 68,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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The La Paz Natural History Museum: an afternoon with the Tyrannosaurus Rex and ‘other friends’…

October Magic – learning through art, history, and now… dinosaurs! A group of friends got to spend an afternoon at the La Paz Natural History Museum, sharing with our children the fantastic lessons learned through investigative work, replicas, stories and, even… tales! Needless to say, everyone had a great time, easy to verify below through the images/photos taken during our trip to the museum.

[Backstory]: Bolivia is known internationally as “The Country of the Altiplano, which has the highest seat of government of the world, highest navigable lake on earth, is known for pre-Columbian ruins Tiahuanaku etc. What is known that two thirds of Bolivia are located in the tropical lowlands of the Amazon and silver, whose average elevation is 300 m. above sea level with an average temperature of 27 º C. La Paz sits in the Andes Mountain range and is the world’s highest capital. The city is the top place to visit in Bolivia. National Museum of Natural History joined the Bolivian Fauna Collection (La Paz), and the Noel Kempff Mercado National History Museum (Santa Cruz) to bring community and scientific expertise together to enable effective local and regional planning for biodiversity conservation. This association was called Conservación de la Biodiversidad para un Manejo Integrado (COBIMI), or Biodiversity Conservation through Integrated Management. Recognizing the urgent need for communities living in and around protected areas to actively participate in and benefit from the conservation of the resources upon which they depend, the COBIMI partners convened workshops to develop dialogue among local stakeholders, provided training for these groups in communication and outreach; and provided financial resources and technical assistance for communities and protected area staff to design and implement, for the first time, their own conservation projects. Several innovative community resource management projects were implemented, including community museums (or “interpretive centers”), ecotourism facilities, trails for tourists that highlight biodiversity, and protected area informational materials.

The T-Rex: The Official Story

“Tyrannosaurus, meaning ‘tyrant lizard’) is a genus of theropod dinosaur. The famous species Tyrannosaurus rex (‘rex’ meaning ‘king’ in Latin), commonly abbreviated to T. rex, is a fixture in popular culture around the world. It lived throughout what is now western North America, with a much wider range than other tyrannosaurids.

Fossils of T. rex are found in a variety of rock formations dating to the last three million years of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 68 to 65 million years ago; it was among the last non-avian dinosaurs to exist prior to the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event.


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Greenpeace in Brazil. Visiting the Rainbow Warrior Ship.

2 biologists

The Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior is in Brazil.

We had the opportunity to go on a guided visit through its compartments, talk with the captain, and learn more about the current projects involving the Greenpeace Initiative and Brazilian NGOs.

The visit also included the solar kitchen installations and the solar panels.


The Captain



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Sustainable energy in Brazil: Wind Power Park in the Northeast.

Today I decided to have fun writing, revisiting my long-lost past in research and natural sciences, as well as, a result of the ongoing inspiration (or should I call it “daily challenges”? :o) my current Physical Science students offer… The topic I chose to revisit, showcases one of the family’s trips to Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, while husband went to visit the Wind Power Park.

A little bit of background: A few years back, a drought in Brazil that cut water to the country’s hydroelectric plants, prompted severe energy shortages. The crisis underscored Brazil’s pressing need to diversify away from water power.

Brazil’s first wind-energy turbine was installed in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, in 1992. Later, the government created programs to encourage the use of other renewable sources, such as wind power, biomass, and Small Hydroelectric Power Stations (PCHs). Such stations use hydropower, the flagship of Brazil’s energy matrix, which comprises around three-quarters of Brazil’s installed energy capacity.

High energy production costs, coupled with the advantages of wind power as a renewable, widely available energy source, have led several countries to establish regulatory incentives and direct financial investments to stimulate wind power generation. Brazil held its first wind-only energy auction in 2009, in a move to diversify its energy portfolio.

The Brazilian Wind Energy Association and the government have set a goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2020. Let’s just hope. Renewable resources: the greener and cleaner, the better!

The visiting team Recife and local experts

O Parque eólico Alegria é um complexo de propriedade da Multiner, localizado no munícipio de Guamaré, no Rio Grande do Norte (RN). O complexo refere-se aos parques Alegria I e Alegria II.


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Largest artificial lake in Latin America

Traveling could be seen as a passion. No matter if it’s for work or leisure. Photography is another passion, trying to capture, as much as possible, some of the unique sights visited during the several trips throughout the Northeastern region of Brazil. This is another post from the “Collecting Brazilian States” segment.

the sign indicates that this is the largest artificial lake in Latin America - "generating energy for the whole country"

Sediments from the São Francisco River give Sobradinho Lake coloring that changes from brown, to golden tan, to green. The lake is located in the northern part of the Brazilian state of Bahia, already showcased here on a previous post.

Created by the construction of the Sobradinho Dam (“Represa de Sobradinho“), the reservoir itself is the largest in Brazil, covering a surface area of 4,225 km2. It has a mean depth of 8.6 m and a maximum depth of 30 m. Watch below the concrete bridge/platform being lifted, to give passage for the large ships, transporters and storing units! Really something!


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João Pessoa, Paraíba: perfectly blending the natural, the old and the modern

João Pessoa, Paraíba: perfectly blending the natural, the old and the modern

Paraiba is one of the prime Brazilian states, situated on the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast region of the country. The state is famous for producing leather goods of various types.

The capital of the state is rich in historical monuments as well as contemporary buildings, many of which are great examples of baroque-style architecture.  Nevertheless, the greatest enchantments are still related to the sea.  In addition to the beach of Cabo Branco, with its beautiful, unique lighthouse, the beaches of Tambaú, Manaíra, and Bessa are among the most urbanized on the coast and known for their lukewarm waters.

In the capital of João Pessoa, old meets new – a great example is the newly developed Convention Center.

The Natural

The modern, newly designed Convention Center, ready for 2014!


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The ‘post-supermoon’, May 7th 2012, Brazil.

I have to confess: I was a bit disappointed with the whole ‘lack of a glorious super moon‘ this past May 5th… Where was it??

At least,  from my very own point of view. Last year we got amazing views and unique snapshots from La Luna, but this year… not so much. Last night, after having all three kids in bed, their morning school backpacks ready, I was doing my regular ‘night round’, going around the house, checking windows, locking doors… when, while checking the sliding glass doors [which lead into our apartment's veranda], there it was – Miss Luna, again, prettier than this past Saturday… I hope I was able to get a few good shots [had to use an old camera, since husband is out of town with our "good camera"]. Pictures taken, off to bed: “Good night, Moon…”

through the safe net…


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The Supermoon and Cinco de Mayo

In case you missed it, yesterday was Super Moon night. And it was also Cinco de Mayo
At the end of the afternoon, a very shy, though gigantic moon, kept hiding behind the dark clouds, refusing to come out and share with us its full glory… and we kept waiting, but no success… we then realized, there would be no super moon over the northeastern coast of Brazil,like what we were able to witness last year, from our beachfront setting… Disappointment? Maybe, but then plan B kicked in: its Cinco de Mayo, with or without the magnificent moon! Let the party begin, and, if the moon is too shy to show us it’s grace, the party could continue until the other star – the sun! – would greet all the party people!
And so, enjoying good food, good music and great conversation, a Brazilian-Mexican Celebration went through the night… Happy Cinco & Happy 2012 SuperMoon!

A 'super Lua' e o Cristo Redentor, no Rio de Janeiro, na madrugada deste domingoA ‘super Lua’ e o Cristo Redentor, no Rio de Janeiro, na madrugada deste domingo (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

:o :o :o :o :o

Here, from last year’s unique impressions:

Just wanted to share a few pictures with you all. The Supermoon, seen from our apartment, in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, on March 20, 2011.

Feel free to use and/or share the photographs, just remembering to indicate the source! Thanks!


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Communications from the past: Post Office and Wall Telephone

Post Office building, with its respective collecting box - still in business!

Brooklyn wall telephone


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“We’ve got the power!” Women scientists in Brazil punching above their weight, in technology.

Resultado do edital Futuras Cientistas


The original idea for this project came from the joint interest of the Brazilian government to establish innovative ways to stimulate the participation of young adult women in Science and Technology. Different partnerships have been established since then, and now, high school students, and teachers from public schools in Brazil are having an unique opportunity. They’re the pioneers of an age (thanks, Giovanna Machado!) – women coming from limited-resorces settings are been offered the chance to learn and work in science, thanks to the largest Center for Technology in the North-Northeastern regions of Brazil, CETENE. CETENE is a research centre developing technological innovations for the development of the North-Eastern region of Brazil. It is the North-Eastern branch of the National Institute of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Science and Technology. They have an institutional network in the North East and rest of the country. They have a biofactory (Biofabrica) of scaled up production of sugar cane, pine-apple, banana, orchids, flowers and new development of other materials. The biodiesel unit is operational and a new, larger one is under construction. The network Rede NanoCETENE is linked to the nanotechnology and electron microscopy lab (LAMM). Research fields include nanobiotechnology and nanostructured materials. This network is open to anyone who is interested in cooperation, also with Europe. The focus is on applying natural resources of the North-Eastern region of Brazil.

Get ready: we're coming!

This month, the Center of Technology received the visit of 8 US women scientists, who came as part of this project for “Future Scientists”, which offered me the opportunity to get to know a bit more about the innovative work that’s been carried out at CETENE. See below some of the images from our visit, as well as the guest participants, from different research institutes in the USA, with different backgrounds, but all of us sharing the same goal: improving the participation of women in Science & Technology; recognizing the work that’s already been done, and preparing the future generations for an equal and fair tomorrow… :o


1-Lauren Armstrong – PhD candidate in chemical engineering
Nanotechnology for the United States Army, New Jersey

2- Candace Caroll, PhD – Postdoctoral fellow
Biochemistry at St. Jude’s Hospital, Tennessee

3-Parinaz Massoumzadeh, PhD – Researcher
Radiology at Washington University, Missouri

4-Ofelia Olivero, PhD – Associate Scientist
Cancer biology and genetics at (NIH), National Institute of Health, Maryland

5-Amelia Patrick, MS – Structural and civil engineer for Walter P Moore, Texas

6-Erin Pettit, PhD – Assistant Professor
Geophysics and glaciology at University of Alaska, Alaska

7-Donnette Sturdivant, MS – Environmental Engineer
Air quality monitoring at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Carolina

8-Diane Wray-Cahen, PhD – Science Advisor
Animal biotechnology at (USDA)United StatesDepartment of Agriculture Washington, DC

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in science, technology


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Pumping for the future – thoughts on life and work balance in the Foreign Service

This past weekend I finally got my way around the Foreign Service Journal. As most of us already know, the Journal, including the AFSA News section, is published monthly, with each issue covering foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective. Well, this last edition was entirely focused on Foreign Service Work-Life Balance.

One article in particular, from Elizabeth Power, really caught my attention and triggered me to write down some personal thoughts and comments regarding the issues related to get back to work after having a baby, having to balance the need to keeping a healthy baby home, away from his nursing mother, breast pumping techniques and challenges, work flexibility and the social perception of a breastfeeding mother in the expatriate/foreign service scenario.

Regarding the scope of this particular post, I believe it’s unnecessary to list out the countless benefits of breastfeeding, for both mom and baby, as well as for employees’ improved evaluations of their work-life balance. Many women have made sacrifices to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. We do this despite the inconvenience of hooking ourselves up to a milking machine three times a day, because the health benefits for our babies and ourselves abound.  For the past six years, I’ve been a nursing, breast pumping, bottle-feeding mom. Any technique that would seem possible, realistic, and why not say, loving, I’d adopt!

At first, with some guilt, especially when you’re having your first baby, not so sure about how you’re supposed to manage a new baby, riding the Metro to work, surviving the extended hours away from the baby… With my first child, I knew very little about alternative feeding techniques. Traditional breastfeeding seemed to be my only route, and my obligation as a new mom, especially considering I come from a Latino family, where women are brought up to become loving caretakers… Visits to the lactation consultant helped immensely, but did not diminish my (uncalled for) guilt. My husband and I asked for help. Friends, family. We had both sets of baby’s grandparents living with us for the initial 9 months. I needed to get back to work and perform accordingly, while husband kept his regular working hours. In the best of circumstances, expressing milk at work can bring lactating women a new kind of camaraderie with their colleagues, not to mention management support as they carve out break times, find private accommodations and use sinks to clean equipment. But pumping can also be inconvenient, awkward and downright impossible at worst, depending on the job and the workplace.

Life was challenging, but we managed. The experience made me learn how to use and benefit from an electric breast pump, how to store and transport breast milk. Unfortunately, I’d started to learn a little too late in the process, and by the end of the third month, my firstborn was fully dependent on baby formula. But we learnt, with our actions, our attempts, our mistakes. We learnt.

The lessons learnt proved to be extremely helpful when baby #2 came along. As soon as I found out about the pregnancy, began visiting the La Leche League websites, acquiring information, reviews, opinions from other parents… Before we welcomed our baby girl, I’d already gotten a modern electric breast pump, with replacement parts, storage bags, and a “back up/safety” shipment (thanks to the Pouch!) of the pediatricians’ most-recommended baby formula (one never knows, right?). We, as second-time parents, seemed to be good to go.

And things were way easier that time. Breastfeeding was a breeze, and kept both mom and baby as happy as they could be. The practice made the perfection. When it was time to bring our 28-day old baby girl from South Africa back to Mozambique, her mom comfortably used the electric pump in the car, during the 2-plus car drive, stopping to rest, feed and cross the border. Batteries were key, and they make for an extraordinary accessory for breast-pumping moms! Always have them handy – no electricity? no problem!

Once I had to return full-time to work – an USAID contractor – my boss, who by coincidence happened to be a mother, and somebody who understands the challenges a new mom has, was very sympathetic to the cause, and allowed me to use one of her offices, as well as the office’s kitchenette fridge for storage. Probably, the most difficult part was dealing with the skeptic looks I got from my local co-workers, not used to that practice. That flexibility allowed me to attend meetings with PEPFAR partners, and to travel to the provinces, always carrying my pumping gear, bottles and cooler! The balance between work and life had been achieved!

Now we’re on baby #3. Still nursing and still pumping. I’m not a full-time worker anymore, but expressing milk enables me to get back into the “workforce“, as a part-timer. I spend more time with my baby, and I know we both benefit from that. I also have support: the patience and help from my dear husband, who watches the kids while I “disappear“; I’ve got help from a wonderful nanny, who learnt first-hand how to manipulate the milk and prepare the bottles; and I’ve got help from my 2 toddlers, who have seen their mom pumping-and-feeding in recent years. They understand the importance and are respectful to the process: “Shhhh, be quiet. Mommy needs to feed to the baby…

Once more, we seem to be achieving the balance between work and family life…

Bonus: Tip

Have you ever melted pump or bottle parts when boiling them? (be honest!)

Try this: When boiling items such as pump or bottle parts, put a couple of glass marbles into the pot and stay within earshot. If the water level gets low and the pot is about to boil dry, the marbles will start bouncing and clattering in the pan and alert you in time.




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