Curitiba Trip – Part I

February 18th, 2009 Comments off

I have been meaning to write about my trip to Curitiba, Brazil for a long time now.. I went back in October with the UNCG Bryan school.. It was a 2 elective credit “course” – Experience Business Abroad.. I have to say the trip was amazing.. I had a great time, and I learned a lot about Brazil..

The trip was only for 10 days, 3 of which were spent traveling; We mostly did educational related stuff on the trip.. We did some tourism stuff toward the end of the week, but it was raining the last few days we were there so some of those plans had to get scraped.. Overall Brazil is a beautiful country, and I would love to go back.. My tourists visa is still good for 4 and a half years, so hopefully I can make it back before then.. The visa cost $140 bucks; Brazil has a reciprocal visa cost and since the states charges Brazilians that much for a tourist visa they in turn charge us the same.. Most other countries the visa is free, or significantly less costly.. The EU I believe it is around $30 USD.. Figures..

Day 1 & 2 – Greensboro to Charlotte to NYC to São Paulo to Curitiba

The first 2 days were mostly spent traveling.. We had to take a bus to Charlotte to catch a flight to JFK where we sat for 7-8 hours.. Most of the group went to Manhattan to do some tourist stuff, but I opted to stay in the airport and have some beers with 2 others from the group.. Nothing very exciting.. After that we took a completely packed plane to São Paulo and then another to Curitiba.. The travel plans were made by a tourism company, and we were not allowed to make our own plans for getting to Brazil, otherwise I would have never chosen such a strange and convoluted path.. You could go from Charlotte/Greensboro to Miami and onto Brazil much quicker.. No idea why we went the way we did..

Paul and I at some airport bar in JFK (Thanks for the photo Shelby)

When we arrived in Curitiba they took us to the hotel, and we were supposed to meet up at what I thought was 8pm to go somewhere; turns out it was actually 7pm.. Shelby and I ended up going to a bar down the street from the hotel (Democratas) and missed the group.. There was no way to contact them, so we went back to the bar.. At the bar it was very obvious that only knowing English and Deutsch wasn’t going to leave any means of communication.. To order a dark beer at the bar I pointed at the empty pint glass and said “negro”, which eventually got the message across.. Turns out “escuro” means “dark” in Português and that’s how the locals would order a dark beer.. At this point I decided that I need to at least learn Español, brush up on my Deutsch, and maybe why not learn Português if I want to come back to Brasil..

View from my hotel room of Curitiba.. I stitched these together from a few photos..

Day 3 – FAE

FAE was the name of the university that we spent most of our time at in Curitiba.. The group went there, and we had many presentations about Brazil, doing business there, how the country works, etc.. The main thing that I took away from everything we learned in the classroom is the family oriented nature of Brazilian culture.. In Brazil family comes first, not financial gains as in the states.. It may be one of the things holding Brazil (sort of) back from breaking into being a world power.. Business decisions are made based on who your parents are not your skills or experience.. It’s sort of weird.. America may be too centered on simply making money, and family comes second.. Look at our divorce rate, and how many people do we know who are not happily married..

One interesting thing that was very obvious about Brazilian culture was the openness of sexuality.. Walking to FAE from the hotel I saw a few couples making out on the sidewalk in the middle of the day.. PDA is accepted in their culture.. No one thinks anything of it.. I guess they aren’t nearly as prudish as American’s tend to be.. I can’t think of any other country I have been to where it was just that out in the open..

The group in the classroom where we would spend much of our trip (on FAE campus)..

More to continue later…

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Where in Greensboro is this?

February 18th, 2009 Comments off

I was chatting with a buddy earlier today and I remembered I have some photos of my grandfather from 1942 when he was stationed in Greensboro during WWII.. There are photos of him at a house with a sign “Amelia Apartments” in the background and a street number of 334.. It could have been bulldozed; The photos are from 67 years ago.. Just curious if the place is still here..


This photo you can see the “Amelia Apartments” sign as well as the street number of 334.. My grandfather is the guy on the right.. I have no idea who the other guy is..

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This Old House Part 26 of 63453 – Kitchen Photos

February 17th, 2009 Comments off

I haven’t posted any photos of the Kitchen and Dining room since I put in all the trim, and removed the paper from the floor.. There are still a FEW things to do, but nothing major.. I need to put up a back splash behind the stove, and some minor trim work.. I have since moved all the furniture back, and my house feels like a house again..

Right (South) side of the kitchen, you can see how nice the floors look.. You can also see the backdoor I finally stained and sealed..

Left (North) Side..

Dining room.. Don’t mind the mismatched table cloth.. You can see all the furniture in, as well as the shoe mould installed as well..

Faucet and sink..

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This Old House Part 25 of 63453 – Kitchen / Dining Room Progress

January 16th, 2009 Comments off

I got the counter tops installed today.. It might be the only gem in today’s crappy day.. I can’t install the faucet for 24 hours, but that’s only tomorrow.. Steven was right about when my kitchen would be done.. January 17th.. Figures.. The lighting in the photo’s isn’t great, sorry.. Regardless of the bad lighting in the photo the kitchen still looks really sexy..

Obviously there is still some work to be done, but nothing major and it’s all not important to having a functioning kitchen..

South side.. Stove, Dishwasher, etc.. I still need to get a piece of stainless for behind the stove, stain the back door, and install the trim around the back door..

The north side.. I am still waiting for the right faces for the top drawers on the cabinets..

What it used to look like before.. This was taken from where the back door.. The doorway in the photograph has since been moved..

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This Old House Part 24 of 63453 – Kitchen / Dining Room Progress

January 15th, 2009 Comments off

I have been asked numerous times “So how is the kitchen coming along”.. It’s seriously almost done.. Since my last update just before Christmas I got my stove hooked up (required a gas line), installed my range hood, hung all the cabinets, reinstalled the windows, and have almost all the trim re-installed.. There is SO much trim that it takes forever to paint it all.. Reinstalling it takes almost no time with my nail gun.. I also had to fabricate some pieces that were really badly messed up..

All that remains at this point is:

  • Install the counter tops – This happens Friday – I got silestone, it may not be renewable but seems like a really awesome material
  • Touch up remaining trim and paint
  • Stain and poly the remaining 4 doors

The nice thing is I can cook now.. Without counter tops and a sink it’s sorta crappy, but it is possible..

And as usual.. Photos..

Gas stove up and running

My “workshop” in the basement painting trim, and staining one of the french doors..

Some of the trim installed in the dining room.. You can see what the stained french doors will look like when done..

New stool for one of the kitchen windows I had to fabricate..

My wood working shop on the front porch.. Amazingly it was on a really nice day..

Almost complete dining room..

Amazing that this is what it used to look like.. The wall to the left has been removed.. The far doorway has been moved to the right and widened, and the closer doorway has been brought in some..

I am stoked.. Almost done.. Sadly there are 4 more rooms in the house to do, but aside from the bathroom none of them are nearly as complex as the Kitchen has been.. It’s almost time for a party..

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This Old House Part 23 of 63453 – Kitchen / Dining Room Progress

December 20th, 2008 Comments off

I am not feeling too inspired to write much here. I have finally painted all the walls, done almost all the electrical and plumbing work.. I have stained the window sashes, and am making progress on the trim.. It is coming along..

I know people have asked, so here are photos of the cabinets going in place.. I am REALLY close now..

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This Old House Part 22 of 63453 – Kitchen / Dining Room Walls and Floors

November 25th, 2008 Comments off

So the walls were finished up Saturday.. I started painting that afternoon and didn’t get it completely finished until Monday sometime.. It is amazing how long it took, but I had to wipe down all the residual dust, then prime, and paint, including the ceilings.. I forgot how much it sucks to paint ceilings.. At least I had a friend come over and help me paint.. I chose a reddish color for the dining room and a subtle grey for the kitchen.. Under the dining room paint I had to put a dark primer and it was the most amazing color.. Sorta a cobalt blue grey.. I think I am going to do the Living room that color when I get to it..

Today the floor guys came and sanded and stained the floors in the Kitchen and Dining room.. They will be back 2 more days to poly the floors with 2 coats and then I can put my cabinets back in.. This project is finally coming to a close.. We-hew!

The Dining Room floor which looks AMAZING if you ask me..

The only damaged or stained area in the Kitchen that didn’t sand out..

Part of the Kitchen, not bad considering it had 4-5 layers of other flooring on it..

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This Old House Part 21 of 63453 – Kitchen / Dining Room Progress

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

There has been some progress on the kitchen and dining room in the last few weeks.. I am already tired of not having a kitchen, and well I’ve lost about 15 lbs.. So the plaster / drywall work is almost done.. The guy will come back this week and put the on finishing touches.. The fact that the walls look sorta normal without huge cracks is helping me to cope with this never ending project..

Walls finally starting to look normal.. This photo isn’t the most recent, but only with the primer sprayed on..

Today the floor guys came and replaced all the damaged boards, which accounted for maybe 1/4 of the floor in the kitchen.. They also installed thresholds under the french doors I installed before I went to Brazil.. They will refinish the floors in a week or so whenever the walls are finished and I have painted the ceilings and walls.. Any thoughts on colors? The kitchen I am going to just leave a white, but the dining room I can’t decide but white is too boring..

Area of hardwood flooring replaced

Once I pulled up all the floor a few weeks ago I noticed that the floor was sagged.. I reinforced one of the joists, and also had to install a floor jack to keep the floor level.. The good thing was since I wasn’t moving a wall or anything I just was able to put my car jack and a 4×4 on the joist and raise it to level (about a 1/2 inch).. So now between my washer and dryer in the basement I have this lovely floor jack..

The jack taking the sag out of the kitchen floor

I also bought all my appliances last week, they will get delivered the 20th.. I think that may be too early now, but we’ll see.. It was nice NC had a sales tax weekend on energy star appliances so I saved around 150 bucks in tax on the fridge and dishwasher..

I still have some electrical stuff to do, and some plumbing, but things are starting to fall into place.. It looks like I have 2-3 more weeks of living with my cabinets in the living room, and all my kitchen food and stuff in the back bedroom..

I also swear I will blog about everything else in my life one of these days.. A lot of stuff has been going on..

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This Old House Part 20 of 63453 – Kitchens are highly overrated

October 31st, 2008 Comments off

OK.. So I am sure many of you have heard from me that I am re-doing my kitchen.. When I mean re-doing.. I mean getting the walls repaired, re-exposing and refinishing the hardwood floors, and installing some new cabinets, keeping some of the old cabinets, getting new appliances, and new counter tops..

When I got back from Brazil my parents helped me take apart my kitchen.. There is literally nothing in there now except for my stove and fridge which need to be out of there by Monday when the wall guy shows up.. It’s crazy.. I am looking at a month of microwave cooking.. I wonder what in the hell I have gotten myself into.. It’s crazy..

I really should be doing other things since it is Halloween and I have no costume yet.. I guess because of that I will keep it brief..

I’ll just leave you all with some photos of the progress for now.. I figure I am either going to loose 20 lbs cause I don’t eat enough, or gain 20 lbs cause I only am eating crap food.. Anyway I’ll leave everyone with photos of how it all went down..

What it used to look like..

My dad and I taking out a one of the cabinets..
More gone
More gone
All the cabinets out.. Oh my..
This is what my kitchen looks like now.. Now I wonder.. What the $@%# have I gotten myself into..
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This Old House Part 19 of 63453 – Rotted Floor Joist and Backdoor

October 10th, 2008 Comments off

So I write a good deal about the stuff I have been doing to my house.. I have been hanging doors mostly in between classes, and I feel like I have already told everyone about that once, and there is no point in saying “Yeah I did it again”..

I was going to rehang the back door since I was really cockeyed and never shut right. I stripped out all the old jambs, and went to take out the old threshold and it turns out that was a significant amount of water damage under the back door. One of the 2 floor joists under the back wall and porch was pretty much worthless. There had been some repairs attempted before, but nothing correct. It also meant there was no place to attach a new threshold to, so I opted to fix it correctly.

Rotted wood under the old threshold. The gap easily went down 2-3 inches. The porch floor was also saggy around the damage.

Temporary Bracing Setup

So to get started in hacking out the bad parts I needed to install bracing to temporarily hold the load. I took some old pavers and leveled them on the old coal bed (yeah there is coal under my house still).. I then put in some 4x4s and secured them as tightly as possible with some shims and made sure they were totally level. Anyone who has taken Statics in Engineering school knows that you want it to be as level as possible to shift all the load down.

The rotted sections removed. You can see where the water was with all the grey-ish are on the other joist that amazingly wasn’t too damaged.

After about an hour of hacking away with my reciprocating saw, some hand saw work to clean up the edges, and a bit of work with a crow and wrecking bar I had all the bad sections out..

Rotted section replaced, another joist sistered to it, and held together with bolts.

I then cut out pieces of good clean fresh 2×8 to replace the bad sections, and held them in place temporarily with some nails and a ton of construction adhesive. When I had the extra joist in place I drilled holes and pulled all 3 joists together with 3/8″ bolts.

The view from the top. Now there is something to attach a new threshold to.

Now when you look up top you can see there is something to attach a threshold too.

Installing the back door as a pre-hung door.

So then just like hanging any of the rest of the doors in my house I took it to the building supply place here an had the top trimmed square, and picked up some jamb stock. I also had the millwork guy rip the jambs to an odd size (4 5/8″) since that’s what I needed for the oddball rough opening. I hung the door on a set of saw horses, squared it up and then held it together with some temporary braces and installed like you do a pre-hung door..

Back door fully installed, with new lock, and deadbolt installed.

So here is my final installed back door. It’s so nice to have a back door that actually latches since it’s level, and properly installed. Well it’s possible the door was properly installed a long time ago, but some sagging and some time made it not installed properly..

Maybe I should get into carpentry.. The painters painting my house were really impressed with the fence I build this summer too..

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