Books

Dear reader,

Last month I wrote a brief introduction about magazines, so nothing more logical than writing now about books.. 😉

I really do love reading books, although I haven’t read much of them during my childhood if compared to magazines and comics. Probably the biggest reason was because comics and magazines are in general more appealing to kids since they’re colourful and easier to read.

However, there is something that books can offer and we don’t find it in magazines and comics. I mean, since most of the books don’t have so many illustrations we have to immerse ourselves in the story or narration with the purpose of understanding deeply what the book author wanted to say to us. In other words, our imagination goes wild! 🙂

This happened to me when I was at the middle-school (I think I was twelve or thirteen years-old). During almost six months I read a lot of books related to Tarzan adventures in the jungle. It was quite challeging because they didn’t have any pictures at all, so I had to imagine everything: forests, animals, weather, etc. It was like watching a movie with closed eyes!

From that time I have learned an important lesson: If you want to become a critical thinker you should read as much books as you can. 😉 Otherwise, if you just want to stay an empty minded person then watch TV all the time… 😦

Unfortunately I haven’t read so much fictional books as I wanted, most of them were just related to my profession, i.e. , electronics (harware and software included). Anyway, I hope someday to start changing it. Even during this digital age I do love the smell of a printed book!  🙂

Best Regards from the Land of Literate People,

A critical thinker is like a human bookstore: his (or her) knowledge acquired through the years is immense!

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Magazines

Dear reader,

As you already know (I hope you have read some of my previous articles here) , reading is definitely one of my favourite pastimes. Although it really started with comics, I also started reading magazines at a very early age, i.e., eight-years-old. 😉

During my childhood I read just one specific magazine (more precisely, it was a Brazilian  magazine about soccer). However, from my high school days I started reading magazines about news, music and entertainment and after entering university I also started reading magazines about computers and electronics.

The list of magazines I have been reading during my life has been increasing through the years also because of my ability in reading them in a language different from Portuguese (my mother tongue). The good side of this “hunger” in reading a lot of magazines is that my knowledge in general has been improving through all these years. The bad side is that I usually I can’t stay updated with the latest news or trends since I’m not able to keep reading all their most recent issues… 🙂 🙂

One of my objectives in this page related to magazines is to include, describe and give my opinion about all the magazines I have been reading during my lifetime. Some of them are already out-of-print, but there are still quite a lot being published even these days!.

Best Regards from very hot Japan,

  PLACAR:  one of the first magazines I read during my childhood!

Coffee: Production

Dear reader,

This month I just wanted to write a very short article describing the current production of coffee in the world. Can you guess how many countries actually produce and / or export coffee these days? Yes, more than 50 countries in the world are coffee producers! 😉

                     The map above shows areas of coffee cultivation by type of coffee:
r:  coffea canephora (also known as robusta)
m: both coffea canephora (robusta) and coffea arabica (arabica)
a:  coffea arabica

I will not list here all the current coffee producer countries in the world, but accordingly to ICO (International Coffee Organization) the largest ten coffee producers countries are:

  1. Brazil (YES, it’s my home country!  🙂 ),
  2. Vietnam,
  3. Colombia,
  4. Indonesia,
  5. Ethiopia,
  6. Honduras,
  7. India,
  8. Uganda,
  9. Mexico, and
  10. Guatemala.

I think the only countries above which I still haven’t proved their coffee are India, Uganda and Mexico. What about you, dear reader, have you tasted coffee from all the countries cited above?

In the next article about coffee (scheduled for the end of this year) I intend to write about some different kinds of coffee plants including their taste and quantity of caffeine present in each variety.

Until there let’s just enjoy a delicious cup of coffee…

Best Regards from this blogger coffee lover!  😉

Coffee: Origins

Dear reader,

Four months ago I wrote a short article about coffee and tea, where I just commented how popular they’re in my native country, Brazil, and here in Japan where I’ve been living for almost twenty years..

Now I intend to write a short review describing the origins of coffee, basically where it came from and when it was introduced in Brazil, Japan and other parts of the world (I also intend to write a similar article related to tea in a near future).

According to the Wikipedia “coffee dates back to the 10th century, and possibly earlier with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. Coffee was primarily consumed in the Islamic world where it originated and was directly related to religious practices. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, South India, Persia, Turkey, and Africa. It then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to South East Asia and then to America.”

Sufi monasteries of Yemen: the first evidence of coffee drinking!

It’s also very interesting to understand the its meaning: “The word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Turkish kahve, in turn borrowed from the Arabic qahwah ( قهوة). The word qahwah originally referred to a type of wine, whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qahā (قها, “to lack hunger”) in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant. The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia.”

Made in Ethiopia: probably the first origin of coffee!

The first coffee bush in my native country, Brazil,  was planted by Francisco de Melo Palheta, a Portuguese military man, in the state of Pará (north of Brazil) in 1727. According to the Wikipedia, “the Portuguese were looking for a cut of the coffee market, but could not obtain seeds from bordering French Guiana due to the governor’s unwillingness to export the seeds. Palheta was sent to French Guiana on a diplomatic mission to resolve a border dispute. On his way back home, he managed to smuggle the seeds into Brazil by seducing the governor’s wife who secretly gave him a bouquet spiked with seeds!”  😉

Here in Japan “coffee was introduced by Dutch people in the 17th century, but didn’t become popular due to the trade restrictions that were lifted only in 1858. However, during the early 1930s there were over 30,000 coffee houses across the country; availability in the wartime and immediate postwar period dropped to nearly zero, then rapidly increased as import barriers were removed.”

It’s interesting to mention that “the introduction of freeze-dried instant coffee, canned coffee, and franchises such as Starbucks and Doutor Coffee in the late 20th century” increased the coffee popularity here at this side of the world to the point that Japan is now one of the leading per capita coffee consumers in the world! 🙂

Finally, the picture below shows how coffee was also spread to other parts of the world. It’s interesting to see the distribution pattern across the continents:

Historic distribution of coffee around the world

If you don’t mind I will take a cup of instant coffee with some powder milk right now since it’s still early in the morning and I’m very tired (slept only five hours last night!)  😉

See you around next month!  🙂

Works Cited

“History of Coffee.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 July 2017. Web. 30 June 2017.

Languages

Dear reader,

Another item on this blog menu is being added today: Languages. I have decided to add this new item because I have been studying and learning idioms since I was a kid. I think my interest and curiosity for languages is probably due to my family roots since most of my close relatives descended from German and Italian immigrants…

My first contact with another language besides Portuguese (my mother tongue) was German. I can’t believe I used to pray in German when I was just a four-years kid! Unfortunately I didn’t learn the idiom when I was at school, so it got vanished from my memory through the years…

Therefore my first official contact with a foreign language was at the sixth grade at elementary school (equivalent to the first year at middle school) when I started learning English. It was very difficult to me to learn English during the middle and high school years, especially in the first three years. Fortunately I was able to overcome it when I enrolled in a English language course school during my undergraduate days.  🙂

Some years ago I also had the opportunity to start learning and studying Japanese, a complete different language if compared with the Western ones! The concept of ideograms (originally from China) had a profound impact on me because I was able to realize that learning and studying distinct languages make you think in a very completely different way! It really opens your mind since it becomes easier to understand other countries cultures, including local people’s manners and morals.

Very recently I also started learning and studying Italian and even Dutch (completed some on-line introductory courses, respectively)! Besides, I’m studying German once again (had to interrupt twice during my lifetime), very focused this time since I promised my grandmother (deceased), Maria Alma Schmitt that I would master the basic level someday… 😉

This section will include anything related to languages, especially the ones that I already have some basic knowledge. It won’t be a self-paced course about idioms, but it will contain at least some hints and curiosities about them, OK?

See you! Até logo! Ci vediamo! Tot ziens! Wir sehen uns!  😉

Old World Language Families Trees (not including Asian idioms)

Secrets for Longevity

Dear reader,

If you’re a teenager or an young adult between 20 and 40-years old then probably you haven’t still thought about longevity. However, if you’re older than 50-years old (like me) then I wonder if you have already started to think how can you live longer and healthier these days… 😉

In this specific article and some others in a near future I will try to write about possible secrets for longetivity. It’s interesting to mention that nowadays there are a lot of centenarians (people over 100-years old) around the world. For example, the current oldest living people are:

  •  Violet Brown (from Jamaica): 117 years-old
  • Nabi Tajima (from Japan): 116 years-old – note: we have the same birthday!  🙂
  • Chiyo Miyako (from Japan): 115 years-old, will become 116 years-old on next Tuesday!
  • Ana Maria Vela Rubio (from Spain): 115 years-old
  • Marie Josephine Gaudette (from Italy): 115 years-old
  • Giuseppina Projetto (from Italy): 114 years-old
  • Kane Tanaka (from Japan): 114 years-old
  • Maria Giuseppa Robucci (from Italy): 114 years-old
  • Iso Nakamura (from Japan): 114 years-old
  • Tae Ito (from Japan): 113 years-old

Some insights can be seen at the list above:

  • All the current oldest ten living people in the world are women!
  • Half of them are Japanese and three women are Italian…

There isn’t a definitive recipe to live longer and healthier, but some of the secrets are:

  1. Do exercises regularly,
  2. Have a balanced diet (most based on vegetables, fruits and fish),
  3. Don’t smoke and,
  4. Drink moderately.

I also would include:

  • Don’t become stressed at anything, especially with mundane things,
  • Laught a lot 🙂 and,
  • Think positively.

What about you, dear reader? Do you agree with me? Do have others recommendations to live longer and healthier? Feel free to coment here, please.

Best Regards from The Land of Longevity,  😉

Analog & Digital Worlds

Dear reader,

Our world is, of course, extremely different from thirty years ago. More specifically, when comparing the computer technology of the 21st century with the previous one, we can say that nowadays we live definitely in a digital world! The former (and old) analog world was very different…

Without being so detailed here we can state that the Internet conception was initiated in the middle of 60’s in US when the first research and development plans started, i.e., Merit Network, Inc. was founded (it runs the longest regional computer network in the world) and ARPANET ( Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was created.

The Internet as we know today, really started in the beginning of the 90’s when existent computer networks were merged, the WWW (World Wide Web) was invented by the English scientist Tim Berners-Lee and Mosaic, the first popular web browser, was released.

While the last ten years  of the 20th century can be considered as a natural transformation (although sometimes not so smooth) of the previous analog world to our current digital word, the creation of the first social networks (have you heard of GeoCities?) in the middle of the 90’s can be considered as the initial seed for our digital world.

Therefore if you were born:

  • on this century, all your existence has been only in this digital word,
  • between 1990 and 1999 you had a very small glimpse of the analog world too,
  • before 1990 you had a small or a complete experience of our previous world!  😉

It’s amazing (and scary too) how ubiquitous and pervasive all kinds of electronics gadgets have been present in our lives on a daily basis. If before it were only personal computers and notebooks, nowadays we’re surrounded by smart phones, tablets, smart TVs, etc.

If by one side we’re able to contact anyone in almost any part of the globe in real-time and access news, programs, etc at anytime and anywhere, on the other side our communication skills have been eroding…

Personally I feel frustrated when I see almost everybody in a train just looking at their own smart phones or tablets. It’s very uncommon to see someone start a conversation with a stranger…  😦

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I think we’re becoming extremely dependent on machines for everything, even to start human relationships!

What do you think, dear reader? Do you agree with me or not?  😉

Best Regards from this analog man based in Japan  🙂

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