Thursday, December 06, 2007

Guimaraes: Some Pictures

I haven't been blogging much this week, because I've been out of town and have been busy. I thought you might like to see some of the pictures I've been taking here in Portugal. Of course they're small, for the web, but you can get a flavor of where I am.

Here's the view from my hotel room window, looking out over Guimaraes on a sunny day:

There are plazas in different parts of the town, some little streets will all converge at some random point and there are shops and restaurants all around it. This is a small but famous plaza with an ancient church and a monument celebrating a fourteenth-century battle. I took this picture at night, it had been raining and was very quiet out.

This is on the other side of the same plaza (or as the Portuguese say, "praza"), in the morning. This guy was just enjoying the morning air and sunshine. Looks like a tough life.

It is fun to walk the little streets. Some doorways have people in them selling stuff, or sewing, or making things. I saw this guy later, sitting on a stoop selling his vegetables.

Christmas is a Big Thing here. Look how they decorated the big church in the center of town. Magnificent.

This church dates back to 471 A.D. Of course it's been modified many times since then, but this is really considered the heart and birthplace of the country of Portugal, Our Lady of Oliveira Church. This is on the same plaza as the previous pictures -- one interesting thing about this plaza is that it seems there are always beautiful women walking there. You may disagree with me, but I think a pretty woman makes a photograph better.

The castle at Guimaraes is famous, you see the image on everything. My friend Rui and I went up there at night so I could take some pictures. There is no fancy lighting on the castle, as you would expect. It does dominate the landscape during the daytime though, being built up on a hillside.

It has been raining and foggy here quite a lot. This is a typical street. I have gone out walking several times, following the winding streets. Some are too narrow for cars, like a canyon between ancient stone walls connecting one part of the town to another. Streets just wind around, crossing one another at weird angles. For the record, this lady did not give me The Look. In fact, everybody has been very nice to me, hiking around with my ponytail and my cowboy boots, not looking like a local. The young people try their English on me, everyone is very friendly and nice.

The streets here are lit up with various lights, for the Christmas season, called Natal -- they don't call it the "winter holidays" here. Here is a little street with shops and restaurants, at night. There are magical scenes like this everywhere.

I'll be back soon. I am enjoying this break but miss being home, especially knowing you have snow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Christmas is a Big Thing here."

We're fond of it here in America too. You should get out and see the lights when you get home.

December 06, 2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those were really cool. Thanks Jim.

December 06, 2007 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie Brown said, "We're fond of it here in America too. You should get out and see the lights when you get home."

America... all of America or the United States? Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Panama...they are all America. Just wondering.

December 06, 2007 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder as I wander

December 06, 2007 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pics, Jim. Looks like a fun place.

BTW, I received an email from CRC (Theresa) that made a reference to a new website being almost ready and had an emblem (two hands of different colors shaking, ironically) called "Citizens for Responsible Government." Has CRC morphed? Has it spawned?

Also in my not-so-busy afternoons surfing, I saw a link on the CRC website to an amazingly hate-filled article about a law in California affecting schools. I remember when it was socially acceptable in some circles to be racist in public. For these folks, queer is the new race (like pink is the new black). In the article, there was this quote about legislation encouraging educationion on anti-trans bias:

"This is such a free-flowing idea that every morning you might wake up and choose a gender," Tyler told WND. "What if a football player starts the game as a male, gets hit, walks off the field and says, 'I think I'm a female.'"

That is just too funny for words.

Yours in head-shaking amazement.


Oh, BTW, I saw a very nice HS play at Wootton last week. From what I can tell, MCPS is doing well by its students.

December 06, 2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Robert, no doubt this is CRC's push for getting conservatives into MC gov't. They need a new group if they are doing that. I can see how successful that will be. I'm so looking forward to seeing their candidates- lowkey conservatives have not been successful here- I am sure right wing loons will garner lots of votes in MC.

December 06, 2007 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also in my not-so-busy afternoons surfing, I saw a link on the CRC website to an amazingly hate-filled article about a law in California affecting schools"

Don't know if CRC had some far-fetched scenarios but California's new law is a fiasco. Parents are pulling their kids out of public schools in record numbers out on the coast and the bill will eventually be ruled unconstitutional if democratic forces don't get there first.

"I saw a very nice HS play at Wootton last week. From what I can tell, MCPS is doing well by its students."

High school plays are usually pretty good. The kids have so much personality at that age. MC doesn't have any monopoly on it.

"lowkey conservatives have not been successful here- I am sure right wing loons will garner lots of votes in MC"

Telling. Even lowkey conservatives are "loons" to Ms. "stand-in-the-rain-for-Tibet" Andreary.

Of course, most of America is pretty "looney" by the TTF definition.


December 07, 2007 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect they have as much chance at getting their bunch on the county council as they would in Arlington.

December 07, 2007 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Andy,

We have the word of World Net Daily that Californians are taking up homeschooling in record numbers. I suspect it's a pretty small group.

If not, it's reminiscent of Virginia's "Massive Resistance" response to school integration; in that reprehensible movement the white parents pulled their kids out of public schools and sent them to start-up private schools rather than send them to integrated schools. It lasted for a while in Virginia, then people gave it up; some whites in Virginia even became less racist. I suspect (barring a depression or other national disaster), Americans will continue to become more accepting of LGBT people. Every survey I've seen indicates that it is a age-related demographic probability.

Why raggedy-andy, BTW?


December 07, 2007 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, my friend, don't you realize how warped your view is? The current situation is not comparable in any way to racism. Even if one accepted the dubious contention that sexual preference is a physical characteristic, the current state of affairs is nothing like the South of the fifties. No one is stopping children of gays from attending schools with other children. Gays aren't barred from public facilities. They're teaching in our schools, attending movies, eating in restaurants, right alongside everyone else. The California bill forbids free speech about behaviors and tendencies.

December 07, 2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
D.N. Anon- Geography is another weak point for you? I work for democracy in Burma but I suppose all of those non-white people are the same to you. And I guess reading is another weak point- I never said low key conservatives were loons- I said they didn't do well in MC. My comparison(do you understand what that is?) was that if low key conservatives don't do well here, the nuts you and CRC will support are sure to fail. Looking forward to Adol "Hitler guy" Owen-Williams coming forward as your candidate. Let's see how MC takes to your excuse for his loud remark.

December 07, 2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest ragman,

I suggest you avoid comments such as "drawing circles" and words such as "warped"; such electronic poor manners label you as a hater and give the lie to your (and your erstwhile buds' at CRC) repeated assertions that you are not bigots.

A correction: when you say "Gays aren't barred from public facilities. They're teaching in our schools..." the pronoun you are looking for is not "they" but "you" or "y'all."

You have missed my point. Permit me to clarify. I was not drawing an analogy between race and sexual orientation (more on that later if you're interested, though I doubt you are); nor was I asserting that LGBT people are excluded (though we are, always from the military, sometimes from schools, I myself have been excluded from a bar for being gay). The proper analogy of course is that openly lgbt people, and almost all trans people are excluded or harassed in painful silence ("passing", if you will). But that's still not my point. Here it is: the reaction and the method of the anti-lgbt bigots in California is similar to the anti-black bigots in Virginia during Massive Resistance. You can take that however you want, but one must say that when people use the same methods and say the same things as they're parents and grandparents did 50 years ago, there is at least pause to think. You seem to assert that anti-black bias is wrong, while anti-lgbt bias is proper. I wonder whether you back that up with religious claims (as did the original judge in Loving v. Virginia), spurious scientific data as do PFOX and Narth, or just your own inner feeling that queer is bad. Whatever.

Now, for the free speech assertion. Students have fairly broad free-speech rights, but it's been a while since anyone dared assert a right to racist free speech. Teachers' speech is much more limited. Regina (dearest, dearest Regina)Griggs labelled me a hypocrite in a letter to the editor (again, my advice is to refrain from name-calling) for supposedly saying there is an lgbt right to free speech, but not defending the "ex-gay" right to free speech. She, like you, misunderstood. I don't think lgbt-favourable speech should be asserted as a free-speech right. I think it should be mandated by policy, since it has a favourable effect on students. I would guess that you disagree, as do these supposed hordes of potential home-schoolers in California. De rationibus non disputandum est. But they are using the tactics of the Massive Resistance movement, and taking a play out of the book of America's foremost bigots. Do you really want to cheer that on?

Yours in, still, head-shaking amazement,


December 07, 2007 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


*WHAT WOULD THIS BILL DO? SB 777 would update and explicitly list all the prohibited categories of discrimination in publicly funded K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. Those categories include:
• Disability
• Gender
• Nationality
• Race or ethnicity
• Religion
• Sexual orientation
• Any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code
Of course they feel that because their "religion" is based on harassing and promoting violence against GLBT's, they think they are above the law.

Like most of their "arguments," the gist of it is: "If we call it our religion, it should be our protected right."
*WHY IS THIS BILL IMPORTANT? Students in California report significant harassment because of actual or perceived sexual orientation. Data from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS, 2000-2001), the largest study of students in California schools, shows that every year over 200,000 students are harassed because they are gay or lesbian or someone thought they were. This harassment is linked to higher levels of academic, health and safety risk.
Got that? They want to protect "the right" to harass students for being GLBT, even if they are not GLBT.

"The California bill forbids free speech about behaviors and tendencies."

Just like it forbids putting a straight-jacket on someone and then declaring them insane.

You can bet they'd be fighting for that "right" too if they thought they could get away with it.

December 07, 2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...


Thank you for taking and sharing these pictures with us; they are beautiful.

What is the weather like? Here in northern Colorado we received between 5 and 6 inches along the Front Range (what the eastern slope of the Colorado Rockies are called). The temp? Todays' high was 16; at 6 pm (MST) it is dipping towards single digits at 13.


I am not ignoring you...really I am not. I am in school and it is crunch time...I read the introduction and that is about it. I will be done with school until late January this Tuesday evening, and I will have the week between Christmas and News Years I will have time to catch up on reading long neglected.

December 09, 2007 7:58 PM  

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