Heartbreak City: Rio at Carnaval with Zika

Carnaval in Rio de Janero stats tomorrow! My heart is breaking. We have known for  more than a week now that Zika in Brazil is a big threat. But the 20-something ladies in the pre-Carnaval street parades are not even phased.  NPR interviewed some of them a day or two ago. The journalist asked each girl if she were wearing mosquito repellent. Each said no, admitted she probably should, and then shrugged it off with a guilty little laugh.

So here we are. The good news is that Mark Zuckerberg has committed Facebook to partner with Abrasco Divulga to fight Zika. But can they act fast enough to get the word CONVINCINGLY to the streets? Social media was wildfire in the Arab Spring. Can that fire be aimed at Zika in Rio starting tomorrow? If anyone can orchestrate that it would be Zuckerberg and the Facebook team. But is Carnaval on their radar?

Who else could take the battle to the Carnaval streets of Rio? How about the Catholic Church? If someone could get Pope Francis focused on this, he would make it happen. How about the leaders of every major denomination with churches in Rio? How can we get their tremendous firepower bracketed in on the streets of Rio NOW?

Finally, how can we make sure that not a single at-risk woman leaves home to fly to Rio for Carnaval this year? The media giants could launch a blitz targeting those ladies specifically. Will they?

Unfortunately, I do not have ins with the Pope, Mark Zuckerberg, the leaders of big churches, nor the media powers. But you do. You are only six degrees away! Right? Own it!

We the People vs. Zika

Why Zika is a Big Deal

Zika causes birth defects! There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. There is no medication to treat it.

Why Zika Requires Your Action

At this very moment, as you read this, somewhere in the world a pregnant woman is at risk of being bitten by a mosquito bearing the Zika virus. Governments and other organizations can not or will not move fast enough to save her baby.

I know. It sounds alarmist. And it is. I am alarmed. I hope you will be too. If it were your wife or sister or daughter or cousin or aunt or niece or mom at risk of being bitten, would you be content to wait until governments and medical institutions figured out the exact level of risk and decided what to do about it? I am not.

What do I think should be done? First, I think the Catholic Church should launch a major campaign NOW to protect at risk women and promote every reasonable form of birth control possible in the countries at risk.

Next, I think all politicians at all levels should look at this problem as though they were trying to save their own baby or the baby of a family member or friend.

Then, there is what could be done by the leading philanthropists of the world. As of this post update, a search of gatesfoundation.org for Zika turned up no info. I hope Bill and Melinda Gates will use some of the knowledge they have gained in their awesome fight against malaria to tackle the Zika problem. If you have contact with the Gates’ or the foundation, please ask them to take action rapidly! Do I think that can happen? Definitely. And I believe there are lots and lots of other philanthropists world wide who will tackle this problem as soon as it is on their radar scope.

My belief though is that what you and I, we the people, can do is the essential element in the battle against Zika. What can you do? First, be convinced that of all the causes in the world it is those that impact the health and well being of children that are the most important. I believe that if you do the numbers, you will find that investing in children is the best investment a person or society can make. Second, you can inform yourself. Learn more about this than I know, which shouldn’t take you long. Then take your stand and share it. If you save one baby from Zika birth defects, you change the future forever. You will have made your mark on eternity.

Things to Do Now If You or a Pregnant Loved One is At Immediate Risk of Zika Infection

The best thing to do, if possible, is to move to an area where Zika risk does not exist or is minimal. If this is not possible, then create a Zika shelter where you are and stay in it until you deliver. Even if neither you nor any loved one is pregnant and at immediate risk, please read the following list and add comments to give more specifics on how to implement each item in the list, e.g. sources of how-to documents and supplies.

  1. Use mosquito repellents that are safe for pregnant women.
  2. Live in an air conditioned environment with windows and doors kept closed if possible. If you can only manage to air-condition one room, do so, and stay there as much as you possibly can.
  3. Sleep under a mosquito net canopy.
  4. Make sure all windows and doors are equipped with tight fitting mosquito-proof screens in good repair.
  5. Wear mosquito resistant clothing if you have to go out.
  6. Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, such as anything that allows water to collect and stagnate.
  7. Install mosquito killing lights inside and outside where possible.
  8. Eat a mosquito repelling diet.

A List of Seven Things Everyone Should Do Now to Combat Zika Birth Defects.

  1. Don’t get pregnant or get anyone pregnant until you know the risks of Zika.
  2. Use your personal and social network relationships to encourage pregnancy avoidance. Every woman who might possibly become pregnant should learn enough about Zika to make an informed decision about her risks. Imagine the grief of all the moms in Brazil who are now raising babies with microcephaly those and the moms in the US who contracted the Zika virus while travelling abroad. Imagine the chagrin of the mom in Hawaii who gave birth to a baby impacted by the Zika virus. And promote the idea for the guys in your networks that “Friends don’t get friends pregnant until the risk of Zika is known.”
  3. Put some pressure on your elected officials to get informed and take action.
  4. If you are a Catholic, petition your church, from the local Parrish all the way to the Vatican, to take action. Most countries where Zika is spreading rapidly are home to many Catholics.
  5. Find out which non-profit organizations are doing the best work at fighting Zika and support them with your money, your time, and backing through your social network and media connections. Since I do not know which organizations these are, it would be great if you could add comments to this post that identify some organizations that are leading the charge.
  6. Find out what you yourself can do to provide a refuge NOW for pregnant women at risk of Zika infection. For example, if you have a friend or a relative who is pregnant and living in an area of high Zika risk and you live in a part of the world where Zika is not a threat, invite that person to come take shelter with you NOW. Couch crashing is worth it if it saves a baby.
  7. Add things to this list that you think should be done. We need the world’s greatest minds, imaginations and entrepreneurial spirits working on this. NOW.

One Thing to Do if You Are a Native Speaker of a Language Other than English.

My friend who is pregnant just read the draft of this post. She found it informative. Then she added that it should be translated into Spanish. Please comment on this post if you would be willing to help translate into Spanish or any other language for that matter, especially all those spoken anywhere in range of  the Aedes aegypti and Aedes Albopictus mosquito, which are the ones that spreads the Zika virus?

Who Am I and Why I Care

I am a guy who thinks kids are the best place to invest our resources, both societal and personal. As mentioned earlier, I have a close friend who is pregnant and at risk of exposure to Zika, and she had never heard of the danger. I spend lots of time in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. I have never yet heard the local Mexican media address the Zika problem.

P.S.

I had to republish this post so it would go out to my network accounts. Just a little learning curve with connecting with my Medium account. Also I edited out some of the more ostentatious aspects of the initial post.

We the People vs. Zika: Pope Francis, Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono and Ashley Judd, and All World Leaders, especially President Peña Nieto, Please take note!

Why Zika is a Big Deal

Zika causes birth defects! There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. There is no medication to treat it. I am not taking time to document these claims for this post. Would you please help me out on this? Just add a comment linking to authoritative sources.

I did see a post a day or two ago where a CDC doctor essentially stated that the medical  establishment really didn’t know enough yet about this threat to state how big the problem can become nor how to best counter it. As I searched for that statement online, I could not find it again. It was so frank it amazed me. I hope you can find it.

Why Zika Requires Your Action

At this very moment, as you read this, somewhere in the world a pregnant woman is at risk of being bitten by a mosquito bearing the Zika virus. Governments and other organizations can not or will not move fast enough to save her baby.

I know. It sounds alarmist. And it is. I am alarmed. I hope you will be too. If it were your wife or sister or daughter or cousin or aunt or niece or mom at risk of being bitten, would you be content to wait until governments and medical institutions figured out the exact level of risk and decided what to do about it? I am not.

What do I think should be done? First, I think the Catholic Church should launch a major campaign NOW to promote every reasonable form of birth control possible in the countries at risk. But do I think the Catholic Church is going to start passing out condoms tomorrow? Probably not.

Next, I think all politicians at all levels should look at this problem as though they were trying to save their own baby or the baby of a family member or friend. They should take speedy action even if it might put their political future in jeopardy. That will happen tomorrow if tomorrow is the day hell freezes over.

Then, there is what could be done by the leading philanthropists of the world. Let this be a call out specifically to Bill and Melinda Gates: Please use some of the knowledge you have gained in your awesome fight against malaria to tackle the Zika problem. Please do it now! Do I think that can happen? Definitely. And I believe there are lots and lots of other philanthropists world wide who will tackle this problem as soon as it is on their radar scope.

My belief though is that what you and I, we the people, can do is the essential element in the battle against Zika. What can you do? First, be convinced that of all the causes in the world it is those that impact the health and well being of children that are the most important. I believe that if you do the numbers, you will find that investing in children is the best investment a person or society can make. Second, you can inform yourself. Learn more about this than I know, which shouldn’t take you long. Then take your stand and share it. If you save one baby form Zika birth defects, you change the future forever. You will have made your mark on eternity.

Things to Do Now If You or a Pregnant Loved One is At Immediate Risk of Zika Infection

The best thing to do, if possible, is to move to an area where there Zika risk does not exist or is minimal. If this is not possible, then create a Zika shelter where you are and stay in it until you deliver. Even if neither you nor any loved one is pregnant and at immediate risk, please read the following list and add comments to give more specifics on how to implement each item in the list, e.g. sources of how-to documents and supplies.

  1. Use mosquito repellents that are safe for pregnant women.
  2. Live in an air conditioned environment with windows and doors kept closed if possible. If you can only manage to air-condition one room, do so, and stay there as much as you possibly can.
  3. Sleep under a mosquito net canopy.
  4. Make sure all windows and doors are equipped with tight fitting mosquito-proof screens in good repair.
  5. Wear mosquito resistant clothing if you have to go out.
  6. Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, such as anything that allows water to collect and stagnate.
  7. Install mosquito killing lights inside and outside where possible.
  8. Eat a mosquito repelling diet.

A List of Seven Things Everyone Should Do Now to Combat Zika Birth Defects.

  1. Don’t get pregnant or get anyone pregnant until you know the risks of Zika.
  2. Use your personal and social network relationships to encourage pregnancy avoidance. Every woman who might possibly become pregnant should learn enough about Zika to make an informed decision about her risks. Imagine the grief of those moms in the US who contracted the Zika virus while travelling abroad. Imagine the chagrin of the mom in Hawaii who gave birth to a baby impacted by the Zika virus. And promote the idea for the guys in your networks that “Friends don’t get friends pregnant until the risk of Zika is known.”
  3. Put some pressure on your elected officials to get informed and take action.
  4. If you are a Catholic, petition your church, from the local Parrish all the way to the Vatican, to take action. Most countries where Zika is spreading rapidly are home to many Catholics.
  5. Find out which non-profit organizations are doing the best work at fighting Zika and support them with your money, your time, and support through your social network and media connections. Since I do not know which organizations these are, it would be great if you could add comments to this post that identify some organizations that are leading the charge.
  6. Find out what you yourself can do to provide a refuge NOW for pregnant women at risk of Zika infection. For example, if you have a friend or a relative who is pregnant and living in an area of high Zika risk and you live in a part of the world where Zika is not a threat, invite that person to come take shelter with you NOW. Couch crashing is worth it if it saves a baby.
  7. Add things to this list that you think should be done. We need the world’s greatest minds, imaginations and entrepreneurial spirits working on this. NOW.

One Thing to Do if You Are a Native Speaker of a Language Other than English.

My friend who is pregnant just read the draft of this post. She found it informative. Then she added that it should be translated into Spanish. I would like to add French and Portuguese to that list. In fact, why not  every language, especially all those spoken anywhere in range of  the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the one that spreads the Zika virus? As I searched the web for info on Zika, I saw a lot of posts in Brazilian Portuguese. Sadly that is a language I don’t know.

Who Am I and Why I Care

I am a guy who thinks kids are the best place to invest our resources, both societal and personal. As mentioned earlier, I have a close friend who is pregnant and at risk of exposure to Zika, and she had never heard of the danger. I spend lots of time in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. I have never yet heard the local Mexican media address the Zika problem.

 

 

Spirit Power

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues,and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:13-15), NIV)

I’ve read this passage many times. This morning for the first time “in the power of the Spirit” stood out. I realized that not even Jesus could pursue his mission with power until he was filled with the Spirit. Jesus’ path to this supreme power was baptism, isolation, fasting, and rejection of the power, glitter and glory the world had to offer.

I need the power of the Spirit to accomplish my mission. I have been baptized. I have spent a day or so at a time isolated without speaking. I have spent days in fasting from time to time. I don’t feel particularly bound to a lust for power, glitter, and glory. Even so, my Spirit walk falls far, far below the example of Jesus. I am surely not walking in the needed power. What next? What’s a husband and father to do? I barely have the time to write this, and that only because the family is still asleep.

third-temptation-of-christ

(http://differentparent.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/third-temptation-of-christ.jpg?w=334&h=187)

Self Centered

38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied,“how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:38-41)

I have always wondered why Jesus came down so hard on this dad. This morning, listening to this passage in Spanish, it came to me. The dad’s words reveal his motive: “for he is my only child.” He could have said first off something about how much the child was suffering. He did not. His primary concern was about himself, his position in society, the continuation of his family line, and all the things which in that society were associated with having a son. Since the boy was an only child, he was his dad’s only hope for all these things.

I think Jesus was angry because this dad was thinking of his son as an item of property, a possession. His core motive was not love and compassion for another human being, his own son, in such distress. The son was an important possession, and the dad wanted him fixed, wanted him to function properly, behave properly, fit in with the dad’s plans, goals and societal aspirations. I think that is why Jesus said what he said.

The take away for me? I’d better be darn careful about my own  motives when I ask God’s blessing. Am I so focused on my needs that I disregard the sacred humanity of another person for whom Christ lived and died and lives today?

Mucho más grave

This is dedicated to my wife, Thalia! This is the poem that brought us together.

Mucho más grave, by Mario Benedetti

Todas las parcelas de mi vida tienen algo tuyo
y eso en verdad no es nada extraordinario
vos lo sabes tan objetivamente como yo.

Sin embargo hay algo que quisiera aclararte,
cuando digo todas las parcelas,
no me refiero solo a esto de ahora,
a esto de esperarte y aleluya encontrarte,
y carajo perderte,y volverte a encontrar,
y ojalá nada mas.

No me refiero solo a que de pronto digas, voy a llorar
y yo con un discreto nudo en la garganta, bueno llora.
Y que un lindo aguacero invisible nos ampare
y quizás por eso salga enseguida el sol.

Ni me refiero solo a que día tras día,
aumente el stock de nuestras pequeñas y decisivas complicidades,
o que yo pueda creerme que puedo convertir mis reveses en victorias,
o me hagas el tierno regalo de tu más reciente desesperación.
No.

La cosa es muchisimo mas grave.
Cuando digo todas las parcelas
quiero decir que además de ese dulce cataclismo,
también estas reescribiendo mi infancia,
esa edad en que uno dice cosas adultas y solemnes
y los solemnes adultos las celebran,
y vos en cambio sabes que eso no sirve.

Quiero decir que estas rearmando mi adolescencia,
ese tiempo en que fui un viejo cargado de recelos,
y vos sabes en cambio extraer de ese páramo,
mi germen de alegría y regarlo mirándolo.

Quiero decir que estas sacudiendo mi juventud,
ese cántaro que nadie tomó nunca en sus manos,
esa sombra que nadie arrimo a su sombra,
y vos en cambio sabes estremecerla
hasta que empiecen a caer las hojas secas,
y quede la armazón de mi verdad sin proezas.

Quiero decir que estas abrazando mi madurez
esta mezcla de estupor y experiencia,
este extraño confín de angustia y nieve,
esta bujía que ilumina la muerte,
este precipicio de la pobre vida.

Como ves es más grave,
Muchisimo más grave,
Porque con estas o con otras palabras,
quiero decir que no sos tan solo,
la querida muchacha que sos,
sino también las espléndidas o cautelosas mujeres
que quise o quiero.

Por que gracias a vos he descubierto,
(dirás que ya era hora y con razón),
ue el amor es una bahía linda y generosa,
que se ilumina y se oscurece,según venga la vida,
una bahía donde los barcos llegan y se van,
llegan con pájaros y augurios,
y se van con sirenas y nubarrones.

Una bahía linda y generosa,
Donde los barcos llegan y se van
Pero vos,
Por favor,
No te vayas

Bodas de perlas

For my godson Jesse and his wife Lili who’ve been together for 30 years!

Bodas de Perlas de Mario Benedetti

Después de todo qué complicado es el amor breve
y en cambio qué sencillo el largo amor
digamos que éste no precisa barricadas
contra el tiempo ni contra el destiempo
ni se enreda en fervores a plazo fijo

el amor breve aún en aquellos tramos
en que ignora su proverbial urgencia
siempre guarda o esconde o disimula
semiadioses que anuncian la invasión del olvido
en cambio el largo amor no tiene cismas
ni soluciones de continuidad
más bien continuidad de soluciones

esto viene ligado a una historia la nuestra
quiero decir de mi mujer y mía
historia que hizo escala en treinta marzos
que a esta altura son como treinta puentes
como treinta provincias de la misma memoria
porque cada época de un largo amor
cada capítulo de una consecuente pareja
es una región con sus propios árboles y ecos
sus propios descampados sus tibias contraseñas

he aquí que mi mujer y yo somos lo que se llama
una pareja corriente y por tanto despareja
treinta años incluidos los ocho bisiestos
de vida en común y en extraordinario

alguien me informa que son bodas de perlas
y acaso lo sean ya que perla es secreto
y es brillo llanto fiesta hondura
y otras alegorías que aquí vienen de perlas

cuando la conocí
tenía apenas doce años y negras trenzas
y un perro atorrante
que a todos nos servía de felpudo
yo tenía catorce y ni siquiera perro
calculé mentalmente futuro y arrecifes
y supe que me estaba destinada
mejor dicho que yo era el destinado
todavía no se cuál es la diferencia

así y todo tardé seis años en decírselo
y ella un minuto y medio en aceptarlo

para colmo comí abundantísima lechuga
que nadie había desinfectado con carrel
en resumidas cuentas contraje el tifus
no exactamente el exantemático
pero igual de alarmante y podrido
me daban agua de apio y jugo de sandía
yo por las dudas me dejé la barba
e impresionaba mucho a las visitas

una tarde ella vino hasta mi casa
y tuvo un proceder no tradicional
casi diría prohibido y antihigiénico
que a mi me pareció conmovedor
besó mis labios tíficos y cuarteados
conquistándome entonces para siempre
ya que hasta ese momento no creía
que ella fuese tierna inconsciente y osada

de modo que no bien logré recuperar
los catorce kilos perdidos en la fiebre
me afeité la barba que no era de apóstol
sino de bichicome o de ciruja
me dediqué a ahorrar y junté dos mil mangos
cuando el dólar estaba me parece a uno ochenta

además decidimos nuestras vocaciones
quiero decir vocaciones rentables
ella se hizo aduanera y yo taquígrafo

íbamos a casarnos por la iglesia
y no tanto por dios padre y mayúsculo
como por el minúsculo jesús entre ladrones
con quien siempre me sentí solidario
pero el cura además de católico apostólico
era también romano y algo tronco
de ahí que exigiera no sé qué boleta
de bautismo o tal vez de nacimiento

si de algo estoy seguro es que he nacido
por lo tanto nos mudamos a otra iglesia
donde un simpático pastor luterano
que no jodía con los documentos
sucintamente nos casó y nosotros
dijimos sí como dándonos ánimo
y en la foto salimos espantosos

nuestra luna y su miel se llevaron a cabo
con una praxis semejante a la de hoy
ya que la humanidad ha innovado poco
en este punto realmente cardinal

nosotros dos nos fuimos a colonia suiza
ajenos al destino que se incubaba
ella con un chaleco verde que siempre me gustó
y yo con tres camisas blancas

en fin después hubo que trabajar
y trabajamos treinta años
al principio éramos jóvenes pero no lo sabíamos
cuando nos dimos cuenta ya no éramos jóvenes
si ahora todo parece tan remoto será
porque allí una familia era algo importante
y hoy es de una importancia reventada

ahora nuestro amor tiene como el de todos
inevitables zonas de tristeza y presagios
paréntesis de miedo incorregibles lejanías
culpas que quisiéramos inventar de una vez
para liquidarlas definitivamente

la conocida sombra de nuestros cuerpos
ya no acaba en nosotros
sigue por cualquier suelo cualquier orilla
hasta alcanzar lo real escandaloso
y lamer con lealtad los restos de silencio
que también integran nuestro largo amor

estábamos estamos estaremos juntos
a pedazos a ratos a párpados a sueños
soledad norte más soledad sur
para tomarle una mano nada más
ese primario gesto de la pareja
debí extender mi brazo por encima
de un continente intrincado y vastísimo
y es difícil no sólo porque mi brazo es corto
siempre tienen que ajustarme las mangas
sino porque debo pasar estirándome
sobre las torres de petróleo en maracaibo
los inocentes cocodrilos del amazonas
los tiras orientales de livramento

es cierto que treinta años de oleaje
nos dan un inconfundible aire salitroso
y gracias a él nos reconocemos
por encima de acechanzas y destrucciones

la vida íntima de dos
esa historia mundial en livre de poche
es tal vez un cantar de los cantares
más el eclesiastés y sin apocalipsis
una extraña geografía con torrentes
ensenadas praderas y calmas chichas

no podemos quejarnos
en treinta años la vida
nos ha llevado recio y traído suave
nos ha tenido tan pero tan ocupados
que siempre nos deja algo para descubrirnos
a veces nos separa y nos necesitamos
cuando uno necesita se siente vivo
entonces nos acerca y nos necesitamos

es bueno tener a mi mujer aquí
aunque estemos silenciosos y sin mirarnos
ella leyendo su séptimo círculo
y adivinando siempre quién es el asesino
yo escuchando noticias de onda corta
con el auricular para no molestarla
y sabiendo también quién es el asesino

la vida de pareja en treinta años
es una colección inimitable
de tangos diccionarios angustias mejorías
aeropuertos camas recompensas condenas
pero siempre hay un llanto finísimo
casi un hilo que nos atraviesa
y va enhebrando una estación con otra
borda aplazamientos y triunfos
le cose los botones al desorden
y hasta recomienda melancolías

siempre hay un finísimo llanto un placer
que a veces ni siquiera tiene lágrimas
y es la parábola de esta historia mixta
la vida a cuatro manos el desvelo
o la alegría en que nos apoyamos
cada vez más seguros casi como
dos equilibristas sobre su alambre
de otro modo no habríamos llegado a saber
qué significa el brindis que ahora sigue
y que lógicamente no vamos a hacer público

23 de marzo 1976

House blessing

Proverbs 3

33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.

Lord, keep me from wickedness this day and guide me in the right way. I need your blessing. I desire above all to avoid your curse. Bless my home today in ways that make your power and your love obvious.

I hand this home over to you and ask you to make it your home, a place where your Holy Spirit guides and guards. Let no wickedness have any part in my home. I urgently need the blessing of your spirit in my home, in that home that I have in Texas, in that home where recently loss and turbulence have so often prevailed. Let your peace enter in and displace all chaos. Bless my family there with joy.

Amen.