segunda-feira, 31 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.119

 It is Sunday evening and I am already yearning for Friday, as next weekend is Labor Day weekend, so no work on Monday. I made quite a bit of progress on my "Mating in Captivity" book and it is quite easy to read. Some information is counter-intuitive, like the reference to how women elicit social change in relationships. I had seen that before, but it is never enough to remind ourselves that the way we choose to live our life does not have to be like other people did in the past. The Forty Rules of Love were kind of put in the back burner, as there is only so much love that I can handle in a sitting, but I'll get around and maybe I'll even finish it next weekend. 

A person was shot last night in Portland, OR, as pro-Trump supporters clashed with anti-Trump demonstrators, but I think this is just the beginning. It will get more violent as we head into the election. Portland as seen its share of violence these year, but I hope they can overcome it. Of course, it does not help the fact that Portland is the whitest city in the U.S. and it has a long history of racism and white supremacy. Maybe all this violence serves the purpose of forcing the city to cut ties with its past.

Other than that, there is not much else going on in the Trump Presidency. He has no plan and there are very few new faces around him. Plus, Republicans have been relatively quiet. When Americans start to act quiet, you know that something is up. These people were bred to have an opinion and not be afraid of saying it. But one cannot be too confident. On the eve of the last presidential election, Hillary Clinton had something like 87% probability of winning. But it never materialized...  

domingo, 30 de agosto de 2020

Body language

 “Bodies Speak, Too

If one consequence of the supremacy of talk is that it leaves men at a disadvantage, another is that it leaves women trapped in repressed sexuality. It denies the expressive capacity of the female body, and this idea troubles me. Favoring speech as the primary pathway to intimacy reinforces the notion that women’s sexual desire is legitimate only when it is embedded in relatedness—only through love can female carnality be redeemed.

Historically, women’s sexuality and intellect have never been integrated. Women’s bodies were controlled, and their sexuality was contained, in order to avert their corrupting impact on men’s virtue. Femininity, associated with purity, sacrifice, and frailty, was a characteristic of the morally successful woman. Her evil twin, the succubus (whore, slut, concubine, witch) was the earthy, sensual, and frankly lusty woman who had traded respectability for sexual exuberance. Vigorous sexuality was the exclusive domain of men. Women have continuously sought to disentangle themselves from the patriarchal split between virtue and lust, and are still fighting this injustice. When we privilege speech and underplay the body, we collude in keeping women confined.”

Excerpt From

Mating in Captivity

Esther Perel

This material may be protected by copyright.

Version 2.118

Were it not for the masks and the nearly empty cafés and restaurants, you'd think we were back to normal, granted that a normal without sporting events is a bit abnormal. Nearly everyone is wearing a mask when out and people act as if everything is business as usual. There are still those who do not realize the mask is supposed to cover the nose or those who occasionally remove it, but these are getting rarer. 

In Memphis there is a local ordinance requiring masks indoors at certain businesses for people older than 2-years old. The office of the mayor routinely posts data on how many complaints have been received for non-compliance, how many businesses have been investigated, how many received warnings, summons, etc.

Julian spent a few hours at puppy day camp at PetSmart and I am happy that the service is up again, as it opened a week ago. The staff was the same and they acted very matter-of-factely, so I assume that the employees managed to get by on the unemployment insurance and the CARES Act money ($600/week). Since the extra money got reduced to $200/week, it makes sense that more businesses have started to resume activity. 

This week I ordered some UberEats and the driver had just joined in August. He seemed like a driven young man, sent me regular updates on the progress of my order, and even thanked me for the tip. He was on the ball, so that's good. 

Hopefully, with fall and allergy season upon us, people will continue to be defensive in their behavior. I fear the worse, if we do not manage our behavior.

sábado, 29 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.117

I am stressed out again and I feel my back muscles so tight that they compress my skeleton. Of course, massages are not advisable during a pandemic, so I just scheduled a hair appointment for tomorrow. And I researched hotels by the beach that allow pets. The one I really would like to book only allows service animals and, I suppose, I could cheat and claim that Julian is for emotional support, considering how anxious I get when I'm not around him, but I am not that kind of person. Plus, it appears that the PetSmart hotel is open and Julian really likes staying there.

My first batch of books arrived today. I call it the first because I ordered the same books twice. On July 4, I placed an order with Bertrand online for two books: "O Resto do que Ficou" by Hugo Santos and the correspondence of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Jorge de Sena. Since the books did not arrive within a month and CTT could not locate them, I went to Wook and bought them again. I know that it sounds insane to buy the same thing twice, but I was doing and experiment and you can only be confident in your results through repetition. 

The Bertrand order made it across the ocean in five weeks, although the normal amount of time is supposed to be 10 days. Funny enough, the tracking number indicates that it arrived at JFK airport on August 26, so it crossed the U.S. in less than 48 hours. I surmise that my package was vacationing in Lisbon from July 17 (the books had to be ordered from the publisher, which took over a week) to August 26.

I don't know if that's because Portugal was isolated, so very few flights were happening or if CTT workers just did not give priority to this package. But that's why I bought it twice: so that I could have two outcomes to compare. Plus LA-C also sent me the Alexandra Abranches book, so I have another one to add to my experiment.

After work today, I read Hugo Santos' whole book. It is short, an inner dialogue between the author and his alter ego, which is, in essence, a transcription of his thoughts. It's easy to relate to, since I also have a running inner dialogue. 

-- Os dias...
-- Uma eternidade.
-- O tempo é elástico. Tanto mais elástico quanto mais se detesta a vida.
-- Elástico, elástico...
-- É rápido quando a amamos.

~ "O Resto do que Ficou" de Hugo Santos

It feels good to alternate long and shorter books. Just yesterday I was watching Paulo Roberto Farias' Instagram stories and he had a video of a Brazilian author saying how much he loved short books, the kind with which you can lock yourself in a bedroom and finish it in one sitting. The kind that will knock yourself out in the end. 

sexta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.116

Today was mostly cloudy and, late afternoon, we received rainfall from the outer bands of Laura. If we get more rain, it will likely be during the night. We are under a tornado watch until 11 PM, but I don't think that is very likely. Flash floods make sense, I suppose. The storm moved very quickly inland, but its massive size means that Louisiana is still getting rainfall as it rotates.

I spent my day as usual, walking Julian and working. On our morning walk I was pleasantly surprised to see my favorite trash man. He is always in such a great mood, greets me, and always finds the time to have a short conversation. He and I both have French bulldogs, so we always talk about that. The last time we spoke, I recommended the limited ingredient diet food that Julian eats and, today, he let me know that he was very pleased with how his Frenchie had responded to the food.

The last time I had seen the trash guys out, he had not been working, so I had assumed the worse, that maybe he was ill or had been laid off. I was very happy to see him out today. The funny thing is that we always talk like we're old friends, but we don't even know each other's name. I never remember to introduce myself or ask his name, maybe because that is not something one would do to a friend. I need to make a mental note to do it.

Maybe I need to get out more and make some friends, although this is not the most appropriate time to do it, but our trash man is the one black person with whom I speak more regularly, as in having a conversation about a common interest, in this case our dogs. I have quite a few black neighbors and Memphis itself if two-thirds black, but I don't have any real black friends here outside of work. The neighbors keep a lot to themselves. Of course, now with the pandemic and working from home, I don't speak with as many coworkers as I did when I worked in the office.

Truthfully, I must say that I am probably at that stage in life where I try to avoid making new friends, just because I know so many people already and it's hard to keep up with everyone. Plus, now with social media, one gets to spend more time with friends online and hardly feels the need to go out and find new real flesh and blood friends.

quinta-feira, 27 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.115

Hurricane Laura will make landfall in a few hours, along the coast of Texas and Louisiana. It is 7 mph away of becoming a category 5, but that small difference hardly matters. Hopefully, it will move quickly and not drop too much rain, but the storm is so massive that the weather service has warned that the surge can go inland for up to 30 or 40 miles. There will be quite a bit of flooding on that account alone. 

The usual official death toll for a Trump storm is about 60-70 people, so that is what I am expecting, but it will be a while until we know the truth. Regardless, the President is not at blame for anything that might happen. Plus, the pandemic has caused upwards of 180,000 deaths in the U.S. and nothing sticks to the man.

About the same is going on in my other country. The Prime Minister is aware that retirement homes do not have adequate medical assistance, but it's not his fault that that is going on. It's not like most doctors work for the public health system and are paid with tax dollars. Of course, one could also question the role of Portuguese media, unless they are trying to tell us that there is censorship in the carnation democracy. 

It's bad enough that folks died in a retirement home that had gone to hell in a hand basket, but now another piece of news showed up to corroborate the point of view of the Prime Minister. The purpose of the media is not to ask the government why medical care is being denied or why the directors of these facilities do not file complaints as soon as it happens and find a way of ensuring that people are properly cared for. 

No, it appears that the role of the media is to say that yes, the Prime Minister knows about the problems that his constituents face, but that is all that is asked of him.  It is of no consequence that he feels no responsibility to govern in a way that mitigates said problems. Nor does he, as the person in charge of the executive, feel responsible for anything that happens under his watch. 

What exactly is António Costa good for besides eating bolas de Berlim? 

quarta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.114

The Museum of Modern Art in NYC re-opens tomorrow, August 27. That's where my favorite painting lives usually, but every once in a while it is on loan, like it was shortly after I moved to Houston and I was able to see it several times. In hindsight, I should have visited it more often. 

On the last day it was in Houston, in 2014, I stood before it to ask when and if we would meet again. Maybe I am silly, but it did not occur to me to see where its permanent home was. I am sure I read it in the description at some point, but it was hard to pay attention to other things, so I did not retain that information.

But in 2018, I walked into a gallery at the MoMA and there it was. Everyone was standing in front of Starry Night, but no-one was standing in front of my painting. The other patrons only gathered around it after I stood in front of it crying, so for a little bit it was just the two of us, like it had been in Houston. Except we were saying hello again, like two old lovers, rather than having to wave goodbye. 

terça-feira, 25 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.113

The best news today was that Jerry Falwell, Jr., the son of the evangelical preacher and Trump supporter, used to watch his wife have sex with a man about half her age. Obviously, this is really positive for women because the usual arrangement is that a man cheats and then his wife gets to make the public appearance to rehabilitate his image. 

At least with this scandal, the husband is the one trying to explain that his wife and the young man had an affair and the young man was trying to blackmail them. Falwell, a.k.a. the husband, does not admit to watching the other two have sex, but we cannot have it all,  can we? Plus the only thing we should care about is that the wife got laid and presumably had orgasms. I bet she moaned like a hot kettle on the stove, so that the husband could get off on it. It's absolutely delightful!

By coincidence, yesterday, I watched an interview with Esther Perel on YouTube--I actually ended up buying her book "Mating in Captivity," as it seemed a quite appropriate title for our times. Plus, I can read current affairs a lot faster than fiction, so it's good for my ego. 

Anyway, in the video, she theorized that we went from absolute monogamy in which we mated with a single person for life, to serial monogamy in which we have relationships with several people over our lifetime, but one at a time; the next frontier, it seems, is knocking down monogamy and just finding a different arrangement with multiple partners simultaneously.

Change is inevitable. 

segunda-feira, 24 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.112

Marco is a hurricane. Houston is getting ready, I have been receiving notifications from local authorities, since I am still on their mailing list. Yesterday, on my weekly conversation with my Houston girlfriends, I asked them if they were ready for the storms. One of them, who had stayed with me during Harvey, said that she couldn't even escape to my house, since I had moved. I told her that she could, she just needed to drive to Memphis ahead of the storm. But maybe things will be OK, since Marco's landfall has supposedly moved further east, so Houston would get the dryer side. Then, they'll get Laura, so hopefully that storm will not be too bad.

I am concerned with the smaller towns, which may not have the resources to take care of everyone. I don't think the Federal government is working too well by now. FEMA is probably falling apart, but we've had enough storms for people to know that things are not working well. Plus, in the U.S. most people do not expect that the government will take care of them, especially now. I certainly don't. Most Americans take risk seriously because there are so many natural disasters.

Perhaps it is because of that that I feel safe here. I know that bad things will happen, but there is enough information for me to manage my risk, plus I try to be conservative with how I manage my money. I understand that the reason why I pay less in taxes is because more of the responsibility of managing some of the bad things has fallen on me -- that is the underlying social contract in the United States, but not everyone is like me. I also believe that there is a luck factor. Perhaps nothing bad enough has happened to me to knock me out, but that does not mean that it will not happen. 

When I think about Portugal, I have no idea how to manage risk. Jobs don't pay well and taxes are high, so you are limited as far as how much you can save for a rainy day. Plus, the assumption is that you don't really need to save as much, since taxes are higher because more of the burden of managing risk falls on public institutions. But when you see people dying in retirement facilities of preventable causes and nobody gets fired or new processes get implemented to prevent similar situations from repeating themselves, then how can you trust the system? At least in America, you know that there will be a lawsuit and some people will lose their jobs.

This week, I received an email on behalf of the Portuguese authorities incentivizing emigrants to invest in Portugal. The current state of affairs is not conducive to sinking money in a corrupt country: if the authorities do not feel the need to protect the life of the most vulnerable, then what assurance do I have that they will look after my investment interests? I cannot afford to make mistakes. I have no family to look after me when I am old, so I will need to save and invest adequately to ensure that I can pay someone to look after me, preferably someone who remembers that I need to drink water.


domingo, 23 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.111

I spent most of the day making bone broth and reading. A while back I purchased "The Forty Rules of Love" on impulse. I am very interested in Middle Eastern culture and this sounded promising because, even though it is fiction, it talks about Rumi and Sufism. Plus, the author, Elif Shafak, is a Turkish woman, which intrigued me. It turns out that this book made the BBC list of the 100 novels that shaped our world. I am one-third into the book and so far it had been easy to read.

Too often, when we think of the Middle East, we think of the dark clothes and lack of color, however, there is so much color in how the different cultures prepare food, decorate homes and in public buildings. The same thing happens with the Portuguese dictatorship period: in my mind it always seems dark, probably because of the black and white photos and film, and the black dress code adopted by women after their husbands passed. But of course it wasn't so, that's what I think every time I see the summer photos my Portuguese friends post on Instagram and Facebook: things are so colorful, the blue of the sky and sea, the light yellow of beach sand, the lush vegetation.

At the end of the day, I saw a video of a rescue in California: two firefighters were surrounded by flames and a helicopter went out to get them. It is remarkable how calm everyone was and in the end, as they are flying away, one of them says "Thank you for coming." As California burns, we are expecting two storms on the East Coast: Marco could become a hurricane by Monday and it will make landfall on Tuesday; Laura is expected to reach hurricane status on Tuesday and make landfall the following day. The effects of the two storms will overlap in some areas. We're supposed to have the most active hurricane season since 2005, thus we will be going into the election with hurricanes and tropical storms everywhere.

The rest of the year is going to be very bad...


sábado, 22 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.110

A week before I left Houston, I met a Russian woman, while going out with friends. I don't know why Eastern Europeans like me, but I seem to get along well with them. I take that back, I seem to get along with all sorts of people for no apparent reason, although I have been told that it is easy for others to be themselves around me, which I presume that says I am a rather passive person -- still, I am very opinionated and stubborn. Anyway, so I met this woman and she likes art very much, which is where her Venn diagram and mine intersect. 

We met one day to visit museums and, at her insistence, we went the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, which I don't recall knowing before that.  I have no idea how I did not know about it, since I visited the Menil so often, but when one speaks of chapel in Houston, it is usually in reference to the Rothko Chapel. It could be that I had read about it, but overlooked it. I am also quite strange about things. I don't like to pursue everything; instead, I prefer to leave it to serendipity and let the opportunities present themselves.

At the time, the Fabiola Project was at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. It is a collection of paintings, crafts, and other objects all with almost the same image based on a lost 19th century painting by Jean-Jacques Henner, which depicts Saint Fabiola, a 4th century Roman saint. Each piece was done individually by people all over the world and at different times. 

The collection belongs to the artist Francis Alÿs, who started it almost 30 years ago, while living in Mexico. As his friends learned about it, they started to help him find other pieces, so by now it is over 450 objects large.

It is such a great pleasure to stand in front of it that I wanted to start my own Fabiola collection. Then, I thought it was silly, as it was not an original idea. It wasn't really me; it was just me trying to be someone else. Still, I did search Etsy for images, but purchased nothing. 

I am not a serious art collector. I only buy things with which I can create an emotional connection. I know this now because on my trip to Art Basel Miami, I met a gallerist who asked me if I was a collector or if I was interested in collecting. The question kind of took me by surprise, as I consider myself mostly curious about art, but not a serious connoisseur. 

Then, as I am also an economist, these types of issues force me to think of art objects through that lens: do I view an art object as a private good, such that I would derive pleasure from owning it and preventing others from doing so or do I view it as a public good, that should be accessible to others and that requires me to have an experience that is also a shared by others? I think the latter is closer to my heart; if fact, after that, I started to contribute monthly to the Brooks Museum, even though I was already a member. I also maintain memberships in several museums in the country.

So that was that. Then this week I realized that I had kind of inadvertently started an art collection of female nudes. The first one was given to me in 1998. It is a poster that a friend of mine brought from Belgium. He used to have it in his place and he and his roommate would give the wildest parties. When he left, he gave it to me and I recently had it framed. 

The second one was a small mixed media on paper that has drawings on both sides. One of the sides really pleases me and I thought it so unique that I bought it. Then came a drawing by Batya Dagan that I found online, followed by another drawing, this one by Jan Gosnell, that I bought on my last trip to Fayetteville, AR. And about two weeks ago, I found an unsigned female nude done in needlework that I bought completely on impulse. A while back, I also got a print of a nude by Teil Duncan.

Now, here's how subversive I am: I want to hang my collection of naked women in the dinning room. I can already hear my real estate agent asking me to take it down, if I ever sell this house. That prospect makes me so happy, even though I really don't want to move again.


sexta-feira, 21 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.109

Today Joe Biden becomes the official Democratic Party candidate. I don’t think people are that excited about him, but the overall spirit is that President Trump has to go. Even the GOP members do not defend President Trump in public as much as they did before. There is a lot of water to flow under the bridge, still, however, this election will likely end up in court, much like the 2000 election did. It will be hard, but we shall prevail, seems the be the spirit.

Steve Bannon got arrested today, as NYC charged him with fraud. I may be mistaken, but my impression is that a lot of Trump associates will be dragged to court and even the Trump family will not escape. They gave Bush a pass, but they will not be this generous with Trump. Republicans cannot complain, though, as they did the same to Bill Clinton.

My neighbor who was in New Jersey working as a COVID nurse has returned. I have not had much of a chance to speak to her. I had thought about getting some balloons or something to celebrate her return, but I still have not gotten anything. I might do it over the weekend. She seemed happy to be back and I asked her if she had been OK and she said that it was mostly a miracle that she did not get infected — they were tested every week.

quinta-feira, 20 de agosto de 2020

How Democracies Die

 “How do elected authoritarians shatter the democratic institutions that are supposed to constrain them? Some do it in one fell swoop. But more often the assault on democracy begins slowly. For many citizens, it may, at first, be imperceptible. After all, elections continue to be held. Opposition politicians still sit in congress. Independent newspapers still circulate. The erosion of democracy takes place piecemeal, often in baby steps. Each individual step seems minor—none appears to truly threaten democracy. Indeed, government moves to subvert democracy frequently enjoy a veneer of legality: They are approved by parliament or ruled constitutional by the supreme court. Many of them are adopted under the guise of pursuing some legitimate—even laudable—public objective, such as combating corruption, “cleaning up” elections, improving the quality of democracy, or enhancing national security.”

Excerpt From

How Democracies Die

Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

Version 2.108

 I must be one of the most stubborn people on the face of the earth. I know it's not a very appreciated quality, but I just cannot help it, which is to say that I think my faults are the best thing about me--it's not arrogance, it is the truth. Anyway, I bought those darn Portuguese books again. This time I went with the Wook store, so we'll see how that goes. I think that if I had stayed in Portugal, I would have found a way of becoming a dictator because I am that obsessive. I would hope the Portuguese people would resist my authority, although they'd probably resist it because I'm a woman; men don't seem to have any problems getting away with authoritarian behavior.

This week my espresso machine broke, which was most unfortunate or maybe not. I had thought about replacing it a few months ago, but I figured it was bound to break. Nevertheless, my prior research leads me to a Breville with a burr mill included. The $700 model should be fine, but I read some reviews and not all was positive. So today I bought a dress instead, which cost almost half of the budget of the espresso machine. Perhaps I should just stick with tea and the occasional French press.

The S&P reached all time highs today. I confess that I was not expecting for such a quick rebound from the crash, but I suppose the fact that the U.S. has a crazy President kind of convinced the other branches of government and the Federal Reserve that acting swiftly was of the essence. The problem, of course, is that we will unlikely return to the way things were, so Main St. is bound to get pissed that it was left behind once again. They were upset last time and Wall St. took forever to recover.    

quarta-feira, 19 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.107

The saddest thing about the Trump Presidency is the fact that people have become secondary -- and this assessment is flattery on my part. A few days ago, 100 miles per hour winds hit the middle of the country over a path of 700 miles, stronger than a category one hurricane, and leaving thousands of people without electricity and hardly anyone noticed. Yes, it was on the WashPost, but nobody paid attention because everyone is so freaked out with the prospect of four more years that all that is talked about is politics for the sake of politics.

Even hurricanes proper, people don't seem to notice: the deaths of hurricane Maria were logged at less than 70 for about a year and then, low and behold, we learned that over 3000 people had perished--how do you miss the death of 3000 people? Then the following year, the M hurricane struck again. I have not seen a final tally on hurricane Michael, but I suspect that once we switch administrations we may find the truth is a lot worse. But who cares if people die a few months or a few years before their time? Everyone has to die. It feels like the last 120 years have been so successful at keeping people alive that we don't value it anymore.

Anyway, on to a less morbid topic, but not totally chipper 'cause I've been told I ain't that kind of person: today I learned that CTT lost my two books, which I had purchased on Bertrand online -- the tracking had them stuck in Lisbon for over a month, so I sent a second email inquiring on their whereabouts to Bertrand and, to be on the safe side, an email to CTT also. Bertrand asked me again to wait longer -- they need to hire someone from Amazon to teach them how to work; CTT told me they could not locate the package, so they'd just issue a refund. It's like Frank Smith, the CEO of FedEx, said two years ago: the post office is going to disappear. 

What I don't get is why now. More tasks are automated, packages are tracked with computers, people are stuck at home with limited access to stores, there's online shopping, so I'd think regular mail would be able to take advantage of this crisis to show what a great service they could provide. Alas, people don't care about the quality of the service now. What if it had been something essential, like medicine or a medical device? Let's all just die already, it's only a matter of time. Might as well be good at something.

terça-feira, 18 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.106

I was browsing the Cabana Magazine Instagram and, after clicking on #cabanamood, ended up in a feed that belongs to a rug seller in Paris. I really love the idea of rugs, but I try not to use that many because rugs and dogs are a bit of a pain. But still I am a bit obsessed with them and can spend hours looking at photos or even browsing in a store, although this latter pastime tends to be expensive. Once I visited a vintage Kilim rug store in Houston with the sole intention of admiring their product and, within a few minutes, I was buying a rug. At least it was not that expensive, I think I got it for less that $400.

Perhaps I am a bit of a masochist, but every once in a while I search for Arraiolos rugs online. My thinking is that maybe someone is selling them on Etsy, like one finds Turkish rugs or even pillow covers made from vintage Turkish rugs. Or maybe a Portuguese artisan has her own creations, I wonder. But I hardly ever find anything, although this year is slightly better than last. You'd think people would be posting photos like crazy and trying to sell it. Maybe even sell vintage Arraiolos.

I follow several American women who sell vintage rugs online. I even bought one a while back: $125 for a small door rug. But anyway, with the Portuguese post office not working, it's probably better that online shopping has not taken off. God forbid anyone might try to make money during the pandemic; that would be just too insensitive. It's better to wait for the EU to send money, which has the added benefit of allowing the government to continue corrupting the country.  

segunda-feira, 17 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.105

I spent the day very content. Today marks the 25th anniversary that I arrived in the U.S. for the first time. I remember landing at JFK and being disappointed at how dark and impersonal everything seemed, but then I had a layover in Cincinnati, OH, and it was like entering a total different country. Throughout the airport, silvered hair old ladies drove carts everywhere, transporting people from place to place. And everyone was so nice and greeted you as soon as they saw you. I arrived that evening in Oklahoma City and I had never been in a place that hot at night. 

My TOEFL (Test of English as a Second Language) was scheduled for the following day, which I only learned that night. I had brought a practice book to study and do exercises, but I did not have time. I still have that book. I woke up early because of jet lag and also because I was worried about the exam. Tina Henry, from the Office of International Programs, which no longer exists, picked me up and drove me to the exam. She was the most easy going person I had ever met. Anything made her giggle and she was just on the ball. I have yet to meet someone that types as quickly or memorized as many phone numbers as her.

She confessed that she had been concerned because she did not know how good my English was, but once she met me, she felt confident that I'd be OK. My TOEFL score was 607 and I only needed 500 to attend undergrad classes (the maximum score on the paper based TOEFL is 677), so Tina was super-happy for me and even said that many Americans would likely not pass the TOEFL. Considering that I had not studied and I had just arrived, I guess it was pretty good.

Tina drove me around campus to do all sorts of things: open a Bursars' account, enroll in classes, get a room in a residential hall, and I also got to meet everyone at the Office of International Programs, which was where I'd be having a part-time job that semester: 12 hours a week making $5.15/hour. That job was amazing. I learned so much about studying in the U.S. and how the U.S. worked, plus they taught me how to answer phones and do customer service.

The dorm I ended up getting was Stout Hall and I think that might have been influenced by Tina, since she had heard good things about it. It was one of the cheapest dorms on campus, since it did not have central air-conditioning, but the rooms were individual and there was a sink in the room. I think it cost about $250/month. Stout had been a female dorm back in the day when Julia Stout was in charge of it, but when I moved in it was a co-ed dorm and you had to be a junior (third year student) or higher to live there.

My room had a window facing east and in those first few days, it was so hot that it was very hard to sleep, plus I was still jet-lagged so I would wake up as soon as the sun would rise. The first few days were quiet because I was still learning my way around, but there were so many activities in the dorm to welcome the new students. One night, they cooked hamburgers in the veranda for us. Then they had older students show us around the campus so that we knew where to buy our books and where to go for our classes, computer labs, the library, etc. 

I have to say that Oklahoma State was one of the best organized universities that I have ever seen. Not only did the university have an army of drivers and volunteers to pick us at the airport (the ride, which was 45 min. to one hour, cost $75), they also purchased bed linens for our dorm room, which we then paid back.

My original plan was to only stay one semester, but I ended up extending my stay. And during the second semester, I started to make arrangements to apply to grad school. I went to the Econ and AgEcon departments, spoke with professors, and got information on the graduate school requirements. Then in the Fall of 1997, I started grad school in the U.S. and I never returned to Portugal. Oops...

domingo, 16 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.104

I got the strangest message today. A friend of mine from Portugal emailed me a piece of news saying that the President of the Portuguese Republic had rescued two women at the beach. There are so many things wrong with this that I cannot even begin to rationalize how a newspaper would print such a thing without asking the obvious questions. Instead, they hail the President as a hero as if he were Clark Kent.

Why is the President rescuing random women at the beach? Does he not have a security detail to protect him and keep him away from dangerous situations? Is he not concerned that if something happens to him, we'd have a political crisis in the middle of a pandemic, meaning people have bigger fish to fry? Why was it caught on camera by the media? Has the Portuguese Presidency turned into reality TV? And why would an ageing man who, on the onset of a pandemic locks himself at home, be so willing to jump in the water to touch random people? 

Oy, is there anyone at home over there or have the Portuguese lost their marbles completely?

I suppose that this is so utterly pathetic that it merely indicates that the status quo is degrading fairly quickly. At least, everything is pretty well documented these days, so historians will have plenty of evidence to comb through when trying to figure out the level of stupidity that has befallen Portugal.

sábado, 15 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.103

This morning at 8 AM, I had an appointment at the periodontist to have my stitches removed. In hindsight, I should've asked the assistant that removed them how many there were, but I only remembered as she was halfway through it and it seemed like it was too late. She did say that my doctor's nickname is the stitch king and I'd say at least 20 stitches were removed.

I was then instructed to start with the FBI--Floss, Brush, and Irrigate, as for the last three weeks after surgery I was only allowed to use a disinfecting solution, which, by the way, stained my teeth and tongue like crazy. At some point, I tried to clean my teeth with Q-tips, but it did not make a difference. Luckily, with the pandemic, hardly anyone saw my mouth, but I did make the best of it and developed two different (lame)  jokes: the first one was that I felt like I belonged in a Charles Dickens' novel; the second one was that people probably thought that I stayed home and smoked cigars and drank coffee all day long. That's how bad it got.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger or so they say. And speaking of things that could kill you, the written instructions I was given indicated that I am to make a bleach solution of one-fourth teaspoon non-scented bleach and 16 fl. oz of water (about 450 ml). For a few days, I will swish some of that around my mouth, but not drink it! Yes, they specifically said to not drink the bleach water. In a few weeks, I will start using a water pick with that solution, rather than just swish it around. And I have to scrape my tongue all the way to the back. Of course, I have a really strong gag-reflex, so that will be super-interesting.

I was surprised that to convince me of the need to scrape my tongue and irrigate my mouth, the instructions explained that the newest research indicates that the goal is not just to clean the food debris from one's mouth with flossing and brushing, but also to get rid of the bacteria that cause problems. That is the whole problem with my mouth: my oral microbiome is not very good and causes gingivitis and oral thrush and that is part of why I ended up with bone loss in my jaws. And my gut biome is also problematic, hence my food allergies and sensitivities. 

My regular dentist was the first person to tell me that I had an auto-immune disorder, long before my sensitivity to gluten and allergy to rice were discovered. If I had known what that meant at the time, that would've saved me a lot of problems and pain.

One day soon, I would not be surprised if we started to identify disease risk when we are children by analyzing our microbiomes and how they interact with our DNA profile. The way we do medicine today is outdated and our methods were developed for a time when we did not have the technology that we have today. 

It's a bit like using the normal distribution in Statistics, we rely so heavily on it because, when we started to develop Statistics, we did not have the computational power that we have today and the normal probability distribution has very nice properties that simplify calculations. But now we have computers to do all the calculations for us, so we must rethink the way we do things.

It's very easy to get comfortable in our ways and forget to question if that's still the best way of doing things.

sexta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.102

A few months ago, I filled in my United States Census information online. In the form there was a question regarding my background and I listed myself as Portuguese. The Portuguese diaspora in the United States is trying to make itself count, so we have been networking to make sure that we list our Portuguese heritage. 

I don't think people in Portugal realize that when Americans talk about White or Caucasian, there are a lot of undertones to it because people in the U.S. also identify themselves by the country where their ancestors immigrated from. Thus, it is normal for there to be news about Kamala Harris' background, just like when JFK made it to the Presidency, it was news that an Irish Catholic had been elected. Even if Kamala Harris had been of European ancestry, if she had a unique heritage, people would talk about it. 

What I wish people in Portugal would discuss is why aren't there several women stepping up to run against Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa or being considered for party leaders, especially why doesn't the socialist party have a female leader in the works.   

quinta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.101

Last weekend, President Trump decided that he would play politics with Social Security by announcing that employers could defer payment of social security taxes for the last three months of 2020, but since only Congress has the power to lower Social Security taxes, whatever gets deferred will have to be paid back at some point, supposedly during 2021 and 2022. Then Mr. Trump decided to kick it up a notch by saying that if he were victorious come Nov 3, he would pardon said taxes, which makes no sense, as he does not have the power to cut these taxes.

A couple of days ago, I had an argument with one of my friends who is a Trump supporter. She likes Mr. Trump because she and her husband got a tax refund after he became President. Of course, I do not know their particular circumstances, but after the Trump tax magic a couple of years ago, many people lost part of their deductions, as the state and local tax deduction got capped at $10K, but where we live SALT are low. However, many folks got mad because the first year the new tax system got implemented, not enough taxes were withheld, so instead of a tax refund, they still owed taxes. So last year, more taxes were withheld from their paychecks, so that more people could get tax refunds this year. Thus the source of her satisfaction with Mr. Trump.  

So my friend was asking me if I did not get upset that the government wastes my hard earned money and wouldn't I spend it more wisely. Then she mentioned the Social Security Fund which is under assault. I replied that the Social Security Fund was fine until the 2000 election -- that's when President Bush decided to cut Social Security taxes because President Clinton had accumulated a surplus --, but I got a feeling that she did not understand what I said because I kept the politics out of it.  

Then she said that Social Security was set up to take care of widows after their husbands died, at a time when people would live about 65 years. It is a good thing that I sometimes am a slow thinker, or I would have said "But your mother is a widow and she's very much alive and well above 65, what do you propose we do, starve her because Social Security was not meant to keep her alive this long?" Like I said, fortunately, I am not that witty a person. Anyway, I am not planning on Social Security being around when I retire, but I am planning on having enough savings accumulated to live comfortably. 

But what I should have said is that I don't really think the U.S. is that wasteful with my tax dollars. I am sure that there is some waste, but it is in no way more wasteful than other countries. Full disclosure: my first job out of graduate school was funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars and my current job in the private sector is analyzing data that the U.S. government collects around the world for the benefit of the private sector. 

Plus, Americans get a big bang for their buck. For example, although we pay less in taxes than Europeans, the U.S. implemented a policy response to the pandemic that was a lot more effective than the Eurozone. If you look at the loss in GDP so far, the U.S., in constant terms, at the end of Q2 was at the level it was in 2015; meanwhile, Eurozone GDP went back to below 2008 levels. And it's not like Europeans saved that many people from dying or do not have people going hungry.  

quarta-feira, 12 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.100

 And on my 100th day of writing, we learn that Kamala Harris is the pick for Joe Biden's running mate. She is a good choice, as she has been thoroughly researched during the primaries and has name recognition. Plus her weakness, which is her having been tough on crime when she was Attorney General of California, is not going to hurt her that much. Black people will not punish her for it and women will appreciate that she's a black woman, especially given how sensitive women on the left have become to racial issues. And she's also of Indian descent, so Asian-Americans also get representation on a ticket for the first time ever. 

The main drawback of the Biden-Harris ticket is that they are both from Democratic states. Well, that's the main drawback objectively; I suppose that the main drawback for me is Joe Biden himself, who stands for everything that progressives say they want to move away from: old white man. Of course, people who vote Democrat don't care about that, just like people who vote Republican don't care about Donald Trump's negative stuff. Like one of my Republican friends told me yesterday, Donald Trump is funny, then she added that it wasn't funny the stuff that he said, but he was funny. It's not rational, but people will find a way to rationalize it.

I just realized that I spoke to two friends on the phone today: one a Republican male, another one a Democratic woman. After a string of "what elses", my Republican friend asked me what I thought about Kamala Harris and I told him the truth: I am indifferent, my problem is Joe Biden. Plus I feel like I'm sandwich meat -- I can't complain about Biden to my Democratic friends and my Republican friends find a way of justifying anything that I say about Donald Trump. My friend's way of comforting me is by telling me that Biden cannot put together a sentence, but Donald Trump can. "What are you talking about, Trump says gibberish all the time," I replied, but he repeated his claim. It is completely pointless to argue.

All of this would be funny if it weren't so sad, and I still feel that things will get worse before they can get better. With the pandemic roaring and downward pressure on wages, plus unemployment and lots of free time, soon we will have technological innovation kicking in at full speed. God only knows what's about to hit us. Change is hard; that's why hardly anyone changes unless they have to.


terça-feira, 11 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.099

I had a glimpse of myself today and felt caught between emotion and reason. Yes, I understand that there have been countless periods in history that are much, much worse than this. And I get that so far I have not been affected by any of it; if anything, working from home has actually helped me become more focused and productive. But still, it feels like we still have to go through so much until we get to a better place. 

It feels like so many more people will have to suffer for us to find our way out. Why must progress be made on the back of the most vulnerable? Why do the people in power who portray themselves as caring fail to care enough to prevent bad things from happening? I don't want someone who cries over spilled milk; I prefer to have the milk stay in the jar. Our leaders need to take their emotion and affection and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

So the government in Lebanon resigned today over the explosion in Beirut. A while back, maybe almost two years ago, I had watched Sex and Love Around The World, hosted by Christiane Amanpour and in one episode she visited Beirut to explore how people manage to have intimacy under war. I recall a woman who seemed to be well off, but just spent all her money as soon as she got it because she lived under the fear that any moment could be the last, so what was the point of saving or holding on to something? Instead, she was always coiffed, made up, well dressed. Of all the episodes I watched and testimonials that I heard, her story was the one that stuck to me probably because it is the antithesis of who I am.

After the explosion, someone posted a video on social media of a woman playing the piano in her apartment in Beirut, where you could see debris from the accident, which had shattered the windows and damaged the walls. It's like over time you become desensitized to all the bad things around you and just find the way to move forward, maybe you go out to get your hair done or maybe you play the piano. That's how people make it out: you have to stop caring, you have to move on, to build a type of normalcy that feels artificial in the middle of abnormality.

segunda-feira, 10 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.098

For the most part, a very uneventful Sunday in my small portion of the world. In the morning, I walked along  the Wolf River. Part of the Greenway trail was cordoned off, in particular the areas with picnic tables and benches, so I assume that we are not supposed to congregate in parks. People still bypassed the safety barriers to use the trail--I did, too--, but it is a very quiet area and not that many people know about it. Plus, I researched a part of the trail that is under construction and it had almost nobody.

I don't know why, but the person who mows my lawn decided that he wanted to do it today to try to get things done before Tuesday. I am unsure as to the significance of Tuesday, but I am happy that he is keeping himself busy. The last time he was here, he said that he was looking for another place to live. I did not ask any details as to why he needed to move, but I gave him extra money as moving is expensive.

The U.S. has had more than 5 million Covid-19 infections. I still do not know anyone who has had it, although my best friend's relatives in Georgia are all sick with it, but I have never met them. I am hoping that my family will be safe, but they think that I am paranoid, so they tell me "yes, they'll watch out" to shut me up. 

Speaking of shutting me up, the other day, someone told me that I am the kind of person who does not tolerate ideas different from my own and people must capitulate to my point of view. Then, the person added, it is very likely that people agree with me just to shut me up. Usually, I am criticized for getting along with everyone, even people with crazy ideas, so this was an interesting point of view. I am always fascinated by what people see in others.

I have started to work on my post regarding the number of deaths in Portugal, but I think it will take me a few more hours to finish; I am happy that I made progress, though.

domingo, 9 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.097

The big accomplishment of the day was that I remembered to go get my hair colored and cut and I even managed to buy some shampoo for colored hair. I have no idea why a bottle of shampoo is used up faster than a bottle of conditioner, but I need to get the ratio right because I am tired of too many half used conditioner bottles that don't go with the shampoo. The essence of a first world problem.

But it was a nice day and I read some of the magazines I purchased last week. It is weird to see photos of a world that half-vanished in the meantime, but it is not the first time that humanity had to reinvent itself. If anything, what the last 100+ years show us is that we are getting much better at tearing down and rebuilding and that has come with great benefits for most everyone. This time is not any different.

In the afternoon, I had a conference call with my Houston ladies. I do believe this week's call is going to cost me $600+, as one of them sent me a link to an art sale. Funny thing is that the painting she thought I would care for did not do anything for me, but there was this one that kind of blinked at me, but I played hard to get and continued going through the listing. In the end, I returned to that Charis Ammon painting and sent an email to the gallery to see if it's available. I am really excited about it, but I am trying to not keep my hopes up in case someone has purchased it already.

sábado, 8 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.096

 Today felt like a strange day. Having last week off disturbed my sense of time and, honestly, my sense of time wasn't that great to begin with. My neighbor's sister, who was visiting their 86-year old mother, left today. Yesterday, for some odd reason, I had mentioned to them that The Fresh Market makes these amazing crab cakes that don't have bread crumbs, so I am able to eat them. Granted that they may have a slight cross-contamination, but luckily, I am not that sensitive. We also discussed cakes and, in Memphis, my favorite cake is also from The Fresh Market: it's a strawberry chantilly layer cake with slivered almonds all around it. 

Sometime during the day, I had the idea of grabbing some cake and crab cakes and taking it to them; maybe they could have it for dinner. The drive to the store seemed normal, traffic was flowing well, even though there were still lots of cars. It was around 5 PM, so that's rush hour in the U.S., but Memphis rush hour is never too bad, although I have never really driven in it day in and day out, so I have very few points of reference.

At the grocery store, there weren't that many people shopping, but every one was wearing a mask and we tried to social distance, although, I must admit that I have realized that I'm not very good at it. I misunderstood the direction of the flow to the fish counter, at the yogurt section, there was an employee organizing product and I just went and grabbed what I wanted, even though I broke the 6 ft rule. I have come to terms that I need to be better.

On the drive, I listened to All Things Considered and all of the stories were about the pandemic.One of the segments was about Texas, so I got to hear Wade Goodwin and that took me back to when I lived in Houston.

My neighbors were thrilled with the food and it was nice that they had a proper meal before the sister left. I know that this is a very difficult time for them, since their mother's health is not the best and one must be always on the look out for what could be a problem, like, not drinking enough water and getting dehydrated or developing a urinary tract infection. When you become very old, your body functions in a different way and most of us are not trained to see the signs. Plus, there is also the specter that any day might be the last.



sexta-feira, 7 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.095

Other than work, not much happened today. For the most part, I am still self-isolating. I maintain personal contact with very few people and I go out to buy essentials only when absolutely necessary. I have also had a few medical appointments. I have not been to a museum since February, when I attended the opening of Hank Willis Thomas' exhibit at Crystal Bridges, in Bentonville, AR. In that visit, I stayed at the 21C Museum Hotel, which I really love. Their contemporary art pieces are really spectacular. 

Today, I got a message from the Park Lane Hotel, in NYC's Central Park announcing a 40% off promotion. I felt like hoping on a plane and going to New York, but instead, I'll just be dreaming about it for a while. The good thing is that it's already been five months since we started to isolate. How could time have flown so quickly? But we still have months to go before we are out of the woods.

I did not vote in today's election for the Shelby County school district. I don't feel like I have a stake on the ground or know enough about the issues, although I should probably be more engaged, since my taxes help finance the schools. I still need to change my address in my voter registration, since if we end up voting by mail for the Presidential election, I will not be able to. But I am not excited about the upcoming election. I have no idea how we ended up with Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden and I am not happy about it.  Two white old men: why do I need to vote for a white old man?


quinta-feira, 6 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.094

Over the last couple of days, I have seen mentioned a fundraiser by António Rolo Duarte, a boy who has decided to go study Portuguese history in England at the expense of the Portuguese taxpayers, but claims that his scholarship has been delayed. indefinitely There are a few things that come to my mind.

First, if you're going to study Portuguese history, why do you need to go abroad? Would you not be better served by staying in Portugal and asking a foreign professor to be in your committee? That is what makes the most sense to me. For example, I have never seen an American student going abroad to study an American issue, but I have seen American students going abroad to study issues that pertain to the country where they go. At most, it would make sense to go to England to study a portion of Portuguese history that has to do with England.

Second, how does this serve the public interest of the Portuguese taxpayers? Is this a topic that the student would be unable to research in Portugal, thus the taxpayers need to finance access to a foreign location/experts? 

Third, if a foreign university invites you to do a Ph.D., why would they not facilitate access to in-house funding via scholarships or assistantships? If you're that good that they invite you to stay, then they obviously feel like they have something to gain from your work, so they should be willing to pay you for your Ph.D. Just pick a topic for which they can provide you with funding or get a teaching assistantship. 

Fourth, the motivation for this fundraiser seems to be based on a lie and misrepresentation of the conduct of a Portuguese public entity. I assume that his scholarship will be cancelled and he will be facing two lawsuits: one for fraud, the other one for defamation, according to article 187 of the Portuguese Penal Code.

Fifth, he should be expelled from his Ph.D. A student that exhibits this kind of behavior and lack of morals should not get a Ph.D. 

Sixth, I feel sorry for his family who has to put up with his public tantrums and I am pissed that his behavior makes Portuguese people look bad abroad. We, the people who work outside of Portugal and do our best to portray ourselves and the country in the best light possible, do not need assholes making us look bad.

quarta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.093

I have been very lazy about reporting on my analysis of Covid-19 deaths in Portugal, but it grows old being dismissed by people as if I were crazy. Maybe I will write a more in-depth post over the weekend. By my accounts there are at least five thousand deaths in excess, since March 9, which is when I deemed the data started to deviate from average. 

However, this analysis is very fraught with uncertainty because the death certificate data can be revised for up to two years. For example, when I published my first analysis back in April, on that exact day, 2020 deaths were revised up by about 600 all in one swoop. It made sense for it to be so, since the variance of the data had gotten rather strange at some points, so I had my doubts about it making sense. 

There is another lemon to juice, though: a lot more people have been dying since 2016. More people also died during the Troika years, but the math and explanations made sense. For example, in 2013, there was a heat wave that supposedly was responsible for killing 1.700 people in a few days in July and, during the winter of 2015, about 5.500 deaths above expected were attributed to a severe flu season. If you take out those deaths, the totals seem reasonable historically.

My point that things don't make sense anymore is illustrated by the following: in 2015, with that severe flu season that killed 5.500 people above expected, less than 109 thousand people in total died; but, in 2018, with a mild flu season that killed about 3.700 people above expected, the total annual deaths were 113.598. 

Let's subtract the effect of the flu for each year to get a back of the envelope expectation of death annually. Does this mean that our expected annual deaths went from 103,5 thousand to almost 110 thousand in the span of three years? It does not make sense to me. Even if you were to do the analysis during the September-August timeframe, rather than the regular calendar year, you still come up with that enormous disparity.

Ever since the Socialist Party took office, the number of death certificates issued annually has been at least 110 thousand every year, which had never happened before. My guess -- and it's a just a guess, because I am clearly not versed in the twisted logic that is common in Portugal -- is that when you cut funding from healthcare in a country that is already under stress, people die.

terça-feira, 4 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.092

This morning, I went to the office to pack up my desk, as we are moving to a new building downtown. It did not take me that long, as I do not keep that much at my desk. I feel that with every job--and this is my sixth--I tend to keep less and less at the office. I supposed the only things I cared for at this one were four Instamax photos of Julian. All else was pretty much replaceable or unimportant.

Mid-morning, I swung by the periodontist, as I was concerned with the amount of swelling of my lower jaw, which still lingers. I am supposed to do more warm saltwater rinses and also use the wet hot pad more often.

Once that was out of the way, I was able to concentrate more on work, but it still feels a bit overwhelming all the stuff that I need to do. A pleasant surprise, was that we had a conference call with James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed organized for the Memphis Economic Club. His basic thesis was that the first responsibility was to do our best to control mortality because of the virus. 

Also, as this is a fairly new threat, we still still learning what the best measures are to mitigate risk. He compared it to fire regulations, as fire is also pretty contagious, but we learned from past incidents and developed guidelines for materials and building codes that control that risk. This virus will not be any different, it just takes a bit to climb the learning curve and adjust. It was a good message, I thought.

I always get annoyed when I see people complain about the masks, as a sign of overreach by the state. Almost everything we do or buy is controlled for safety. Would anyone feel safer if they were going to restaurants where food safety regulations were not being followed/enforced? What about buying cars that have wheels fall off while we drive them, don't have seat belts, etc.? I don't know if this pseudo-liberalism is a sign of ignorance or just lack of reasoning skills. Maybe both, I suppose.

Two of the masks that I purchased the other day arrived. I was looking to get something that had a flower pattern that resembled Magritte's The Great War. I already made a few out of a fabric with green apples, but I got too lazy about making more, plus I did not find a fabric that resembled The Great War.  


segunda-feira, 3 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.091

While perusing David Netto's Instagram, I realized that Veranda magazine had some small article about Portugal and a few photos. Since I cannot travel physically, I decided that I needed to buy the July/August issue. I made a quick run to Barnes and Noble and, feeling altruistic, made some other purchases of books and magazines, including Live Beautiful, which I had been meaning to purchase for a while. All and all, I spent over $70, only to come home and realize that I had not purchased Veranda magazine, as I had intended. 

I returned to the store, but this time, I had to take Julian along, who sat in the car, while I went inside. I spent an additional $99 on books and magazines because my altruism runs even deeper than I thought. I also figured out that my mistake had been to grab a magazine from what I thought was the stack of Verandas--I selected the one in the back, thinking the one in the front had been touched by more hands. It turned out that there was only one issue left--the one in the front--so the one is the back was something else.

After reading the article, I was a bit sad. It is true what it said and it was meant as a compliment, but still, to me, it just feels like an insult about the Portuguese taking forever and not caring for perfection, but doing things to be proud, e.g., there are no fast meals because everything takes an hour and a half. But that's good, the interviewed designer says, because it's "a beautiful slowdown." Hence the expression "bons para ir buscar a morte," like my mother used to say, except they've gotten quite good at that one, lately.

On my dog walks, I have started to listen to the American English version of O Livro do Desassossego, which was published in 2018 and I found on iBooks. There was also a Portuguese version, but read by someone from Brazil, which I did not care for. The man that does the American version is spectacular and I quite like how he sounds and reads, as if he's discoursing about his own thoughts, rather than reading someone else's. Also, the translation is very good.

Tomorrow, I get back to work. I am feeling better, although I still have trouble speaking, but I had started to enjoy all the time that I spent daydreaming and reading. Plus, the hummingbird and I are on the same eating schedule for breakfast and lunch and he also stops by mid-afternoon. I must have passed some kind of test because he has been quite content just eating and hanging out in the Japanese maple. He even stopped standing in front of me, flapping its wings at warp speed in desperation because the food was old--that much I got. I will change it more often from now on. 

domingo, 2 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.090

The first day of August did not feel of Summer. It was rainy and cool this morning and it got slightly better throughout the day, but nothing spectacular. I would have stayed at home all day, were it not for the fact that Julian ran out of food, which I only noticed at 8 PM. I thought about making do until tomorrow, but since PetSmart was open until 9 PM, I thought it best to go tonight. 

At the pet store, almost everyone was wearing mask, except children and one adult. I don't understand the deal with adults. You either wear it or you don't, but this women had it halfway through her chin, then covered her mouth, but not her nose. At the grocery store, it was the same deal: most everyone had it properly, then there were the mask mavericks who, clearly, don't understand the concept.

In the afternoon, I had a conference call with my girlfriends from Houston, TX. Things do not look pretty in Houston, and the authorities have been distributing pamphlets in the areas more affected with educational comic strips that teach people to socially distance and wear masks. My girlfriends have been mostly locked up, although sometimes some go to their respective offices just for a few hours.

There is an interesting article on Vanity Fair about the national approach to the virus that Jared Kushner's improv-specialist team was working on at the beginning of the pandemic, but it just fell apart--imagine that. If he and his like had to start from scratch, they wouldn't have amounted to anything worth writing about. But they are born into families with connections and access to money, thus they can breeze through life as if they were the chosen ones.

I am still upset at the data coming out of Europe regarding GDP. The whole purpose of having more interventive governments is to protect the economy and the citizens, yet their dive is worse than the United States'. And if you look at data for the first quarter, government spending in the Eurozone was reduced. How do countries reduce government spending when they're preparing for a pandemic and as people start to lose their jobs? The whole point of paying more taxes in Europe is to have the government reduce the risk that people are exposed to, so that governments can spend more when there are disasters.

sábado, 1 de agosto de 2020

Version 2.089

I am a bad European: I miss work. I have been slowly getting into more work mindset, even though I am technically still off. I logged on to the work network today to make a couple of maps because of hurricane Isaias, then my boss reminded me that I had not submitted my performance review for the last fiscal year and not only was today the deadline, he also needed to comment on my assessment and then I needed to sign it and submit it. I did have it all filled out, just not submitted and everything is done online, even when in the office..

My boss mentioned, in his remarks, that I often had an opinion and was not afraid to give it. Take that, ladies. Speak up or forever hold your peace. It is probably not good in the short term, but I have never been an ass-kisser. I am a straight shooter at work. If you act that way, the right people will hire you and your career will progress. It will not happen at once, but over time. Ethics matters. 

Speaking of straight shooter, I had been meaning to refresh the hummingbird food for several weeks, but always found other things to do. Well, a hummingbird today just stood in front of me buzzing its wings, as if to tell me that continuing to be a loser was not an option. I thought him a bit rude. I get to buy his food, prepare it, and make it available and he acts as if he's entitled to my services just because he's cute. I changed the food--I guess I agreed.