As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.
- in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
- in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to our company website on LinkedIn, and some of her older posts on Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
- in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.
Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at left or scroll down for older messages.
Touché at LinkedIn in 2023-1
This extraordinary word was chosen to define a unique event created in 2001 in Danmark with the objective to support the research and treatment of diseases commonly found among women. In spite of the fact that the idea is very simple the creation and putting into practice of such an event requires the union of idealists who invest their time and knowledge to make it happen every year.
What IS the Ladywalk then? Practically speaking it means the opportunity for women of any age or social background to get together and walk a trail that can be of 4, 7 or 12kms in one of the 14 nature spots where the event takes place, usually on a Monday in May. In order to participate a subscription must be made during a specific time and those interested pay a fee of 170kr that will be added to the total amount to be sent to the health association chosen each year. Upon arrival each participant receives a T-shirt and a little bag with the Ladywalk logo and the year printed on them and inside this bag there is a bottle of water, a fruit and some organic energizers. Usually the color of the T-shirt and the bag are a surprise and they are waiting to be picked up by the ladies who made their inscription and informed their size.
On each site where the event takes place there are some stands where various products eatable or not can be found as well as a cafeteria selling coffee and cakes to be shared around. A band playing Danish rock is present and there is no fee for the parking or for wc.
Which organizations receive the proceeds? The possibility to be chosen is open to any association working to protect women´s health and every year two of those are selected. For example, breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart, sclerosis, colitis, Crohn's disease, psychiatric disorders, hemophilia and PCO (polycistic ovary syndrome) are among the diseases that have been targeted by those who organize and take part in the Ladywalk.
The Direction of Ladywalk is formed by five members and innumerable volunteers who share and work for the ideal to help and support ladies that are suffering and not necessarily can take part in the walks...
Ladywalk is a remarkable initiative that deserves to be applauded and an example to be followed by people all over the world.
Although not so popular as ´bullshit´ - term used basically in all types of situations in countries and cultures where English is known (but not only, as linguistic variations exist in non-English places)– the term bullshitization was coined in 2013 by anthropologist David Graeber who used it in an essay named ´On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs´ published in Strike Magazine and elaborated upon in his book ´Bullshit Jobs´, in 2018.
David Graeber is a very famous anthropologist, known as a controversial, competent and creative intellectual and his career as professor, lecturer, writer and activist is inspirational to all those who fight against slavery, discrimination or any type of exploration. Dead in 2020 at the age of 59 he left a valuable heritage to the world in terms of books and actions undertaken during his life.
Among his enlightening books, ´Bullshit Jobs´,´The Democracy Project´(2013) - on the Occupy Movement – he refers to bullshit jobs as: “typically concentrated in professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers”. The expression spread out to define "paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence”. Graeber uses 'bullshit jobs' to define forms of employment that even those holding the jobs feel should not or do not need to exist. As he explained also in an article in STRIKE!: "Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed".
Originated in such polemic roots it is not a surprise that ´bullshit´ became more and more used to define any word, action or attitude aiming to disguise the real negative sense of what is being exposed/questioned. The sub and under-layers of the discourse can be full of bullshit. The tortuous ways to expose an idea have as specific aim to hide the truth behind arguments that may be verisimilar but really not the real expression and/or meaning of what is what.
Some professions are a rich soil for experts in bullshit. Without any intention to be discriminatory we may think about some professionals like lawyers, marketeers, sellers as competent in this ´art´ not to mention politicians who we think of as leaders in the bullshitters category. Lately technology became a great tool for dissemination of all sorts of bullshit. That´s how we came to a natural derived word: bullshitization which so far has not become so popular but that is as effective as its origin.
The way things go we may be heading to having courses, lectures, tutorials, etc to learn detect and protect our poor minds from being bullshitized. Yes, dear fellows, watch out for bullshitization! It is everywhere and anytime you may be a prey of some who will have lots of bullshit reasons for having caught you.
Not to be confounded with brain wash even if both expressions refer to the brain and to a process of changing its condition. Let´s consider that brain wash is basically used by authoritarian governments as a method for political propaganda through the elimination of men´s freedom to analyze, criticize and choose their social behavior: experts in manipulation techniques employ their knowledge about human psychology to destroy people´s free will replacing original creative and free thoughts by ideas that focus on fanatical attitudes that aim at eliminating those who think and act differently and therefore are considered ´enemies´- meaning they must be exterminated in order to save the ´good ones´.
Brain wash does not wash any bad ideas. On the contrary it leads to misinformation, conflicts and even to war. Brain cleaning points to critical selection of all the negative and useless information stored inside us aiming at peaceful solutions. How does it happen? Very simple... through simplicity.
As we live in such polluted, noisy, hectic places, where we must run behind the clock all the time in order to try and comply with various obligations, we become more and more stressed, irritated, intolerant, sick. Living in small cement cages surrounded by strangers who are not necessarily nice definitely is not the best recipe for a healthy and good life. Every day´s constant pressure generates more and more input in our brains and... well, the response can vary from insomnia to burnout, passing by painful migraines and exhaustion. It´s simply impossible to keep the pace with the high speed of modern times and stay calm and happy.
Brain cleaning becomes fundamental then. Just being in nature, just sharing affection, just doing nothing! Being idle is great. It´s also the best way to feel creative. Letting the emotions and thoughts flow towards nowhere at the horizon!!! Sitting under a tree or anywhere in front of a source of water, be it a river, a waterfall, or the ocean. Any place where movements are caused by the wind. Any place where birds singing or talking to each other is the only sounds to be heard.
It is when you look far away at the horizon and keep quiet that your brain can select and delete what you don´t want nor need for your life. This is not an apology for amnesia, denial or alienation. This is a call for life at its best.
Life at its best requires time for oneself to do nothing and enjoy looking far away.
So simple is it. Brain cleaning.
Practically speaking we are all service providers. Be it because we have some expertise acquired through some years of academical studies or just because we´ve learnt how to solve specific problems from parents or friends and later started being a professional problem-solver, anyway, no matter the trajectory we had in the past at present time the terminology changed from giving help to providing services.
Services can be of any sort and as long as you have someone else to do something you can´t or just don´t want to do, this person is ´providing´ a service to you and therefore he/she is entitled to a monetary thank you. The amount of this compensation varies according to the kind of service you´ve requested, the person who provided it and the country where it is provided. Not because the service may be different nor the knowledge required to fix the problem. The remuneration depends also on the laws and ethics of nations. Here the laws determining the rights and the money invested in social security for those who work are of crucial importance.
In many countries being a ´professional´ means you not only had a formal education and have certificates that can prove your qualifications but also there are some/many of us – service providers – who do not have the official qualifications but can execute different tasks efficiently and well. Here the social hierarchy plays a clear role: for example it would sound very weird to refer to a medical doctor as a ´service provider´.
Moving further, sometimes the service provider does not even receive a ´remuneration´ but a ´tip´. It´s like a generous thank you, you know? I need your service and I know you are sub-employed or officially unemployed then I ´ask´ you to render a service to me and I give you some ´extra´ money. Not real money. A tip. I know you need it and you are glad to have had the chance of getting it.
In highly developed societies just any type of work is quite fairly paid and those who do the work are treated with respect. Unfortunately there are just a few places in the world where this happens. In general certificates from educational institutions particularly university degrees are good ways to fair remunerations and social recognition. But not necessarily!!! no? no. Because in many countries the amount paid by employers to grant the benefit of social security to those who work varies. There are different laws regulating the employers´ obligations. Consider this: a hired employee pays a small percentage to the government to have access to social security whilst the biggest percentage is paid by the employer. Service providers are... extra help! Then, why not have professionals without social security rights? Same work, free of charge.
Is this legal? Maybe. Fair? Certainly not. Ethical? hm... What is ethics, my dear?
Probably most of those who think 'balloon' are neither concerned about nor interested in its history. But some balloon education won´t hurt... so consider that these beautiful ´balls´ exist since the 18th century, when inflated balloons of cloth or canvas with hot air were sent aloft. The Montgolfier brothers ventured in experimenting sending up animals in 1782 and human beings in 1783, obviously conditioned to make sure the cold at high altitude would not kill them.
The first hydrogen-filled gas balloon was flown in the 1790s and a century later hydrogen-filled weather balloons were being launched in France. Michael Faraday and Thomas Hancock in 1824 and 1825 respectively made rubber balloons, experimenting with filling them with gasses, specially hydrogen but the experience failed. It was only in the 20th century that modern preassembled balloons started to be sold in the US.
There is a great variety and different uses of balloons, from innocent children parties to the most complicated and not-innocent-at-all political events. When, how, what for and who uses balloons is a very special and can even become a touchy matter.
On the festive side balloons are present at weddings, parties, all types of commemorative gatherings like outdoor parades and demonstrations… In many places like parks it is possible to enjoy the view of lovely kids going around holding a balloon. Many artists created special shapes and designs that appeal to kids (and not only to them).
Balloons are also quite useful for publicity as screen printing processes make it possible to divulge slogans, ideas and messages very efficiently.
This was the case when recently red balloons where placed in Antakya, Turkey, around the area devastated by the strong earthquake that killed more than 42.000 people, as a tribute to the children who lost their lives. Red balloons typically represent joy and love and symbolized the last toy offered to the young victims.
Scientists on different occasions use balloons in their work. Of extreme relevance, in many fields of Medicine we find balloons, starting with labs where there is a profusion of shapes, sizes and destinations. In major hospitals balloons are crucial part of some surgical equipments. Angioplasty, for example is a kind of surgical procedure that depends directly on small balloons to allow doctors perform and save patient´s lives. Balloon catheters are also required in surgeries aimed to prevent myocardial infarction and are used to stop bleeding in hollow internal organs such as stomach or uterus. Atrial septostomy is another of the various types of heart surgery where the presence of balloons is required.
Professionals providing weather analysis and forecasts definitely depend on balloons to detect atmospherical conditions making it possible to take actions to prevent harsh consequences of natural disasters, protecting people, households and work places in general.
Through its Balloon Program Office NASA works together with private industry to investigate the feasibility of balloon missions on other planets and in space. Here multiple types of balloons are used to lift scientific payloads into the atmosphere.
Maybe one of the most exhilarating experiences, balloon rides, make it possible to fly above beautiful places inside a basket hanging from a colorful hot balloon that offers the emotion of dancing around the sky at the rhythm of the wind. What a poetic moment, how thrilling, definitely unforgettable! Adventurous people have been benefiting from this opportunity together with photographers, film-makers and tourists, requiring the extension of tourism infra-structure that contributes to the development of areas where the climate and geography are most favorable to this business.
However after World War I balloons started to be used for military surveillance and not long ago balloons have their ´directions´ definitely moved from places designated to leisure and science to secret rooms where plans and decisions are taken to use them as espionage tools. Ironical as it may seem such an old invention has become an active element of high tech environments!
Maybe there will come a time when balloon rides will stop being a simple dreamy experience and people will buy tickets to a balloon surveillance tour instead. Certainly a very profitable and exciting experience...
Maybe we need some creative people to invent a slogan good enough to replace the New Year´s resolutions! Let´s be honest: every December the same. Every January too.
Gurus, coaches, guides, and more recently influencers. A whole bunch of people sending messages and informing the best methods to make good resolutions for the year starting, and all we do is watch them but how can we even think about what we would like to change in our own lives, if we are so busy ´learning´ how to make these decisions?
Enough is enough. If we haven´t been able to know what is not working fine around us and come to a serious self-analysis to move towards the actions required to make our surroundings better, it is not watching and reading so much on the subject that will bring us to any practical solution.
An old formula might be useful: serious talks with ourselves in the mirror. Just honest and simple, objective, direct. Straightforward conversations and firm will.
We don´t need anybody to tell us what is not working in our lives. Our body, our emotions, our senses are there to protest and claim for changes.
New Year´s resolutions come from our day-to-day struggles. Old scientific ways to do things: trial and error and more trial and error until we reach a better, healthier and higher level of life quality, which is clearly indicated by peace of mind and joy to be alive.
Maybe a tip? Stop following other people´s formulas and go for an effective personal recipee.