quinta-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2009

please allow me

this self-praise. But last Friday was likely one of the happiest days of my existence in San Diego. Not only I've completed an overall distance running of 500km, but more importantly, in one of toughest courses in the department, Parameter Estimation, and after a tumultuous quarter (it's becoming an habit), I have pulled an A+

Aqui o velhote deu uma lição à canalhada :)

segunda-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2009

by the way..

I don't think I've introduced you to my fellow labmates. Have a look at SVCL's people.
The lab is split into two rooms. I'm in one room together with Vijay and Nikhil, two of the senior guys in the lab. The other two senior, Sunhyoung and Hamed, and the other fellow junior researchers, Weixin, Kritika and Mohammad, are in the other room. A side from these two open spaces, the lab owner, Nuno, usually sits at his office which is fairly close to both spaces.

quarta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2009

the question I would prefer not to see in tomorrow's final

prove the four Moore-Penrose conditions for existence of M, pseudoinverse of A.
1. (AM)* = AM
2. (MA)* = MA
3. AMA = A
4. MAM = M

The proof is understandable but it's definitely not straightforward...

domingo, 6 de dezembro de 2009

Peter, Bjorn and John

Before the stressing finals week, a little relaxation in a concert at the House of Blues, downtown San Diego. Peter, Bjorn and John. You might know them, here is a clip of their biggest hit captured "in loco".

After that, back to study... Upps, what a mess!

sábado, 21 de novembro de 2009


I know, you are all very concerned about my midterm, and you should be ... because it was a damn hard exam! You can have a look at it here. And I have the results too!

Professor got really surprised about how poorly the class performed (I wonder why): the highest grade was a 75%, the lowest was a 5%. The average was 28% :) And I should remind you that I'm talking of a universe of bright young graduate students (all but myself) coming from all parts of the world. All graduated top of their schools, but in this course, people just crashed!

As I told you the exam was pretty difficult and long too. In my humble opinion much harder than any past years' exams. Now that I look back, I can't avoid a smile when I think about the day we were taking the midterm: the Professor sat down at his desk and started doing it; he barely finished the exam on time (~1h20), and he got the last part wrong :)
He told us during the exam that he was not expecting us to complete the whole thing, we should just concentrate and try to do it to the best of our knowledge. He would be lenient on partial credit, he said.

A good thing about most of the schools in the US (UCSD included) is that professors usually curve the grades. Basically this means that they are expecting X% of the students to have an A, Y% to have a B, and so on... So when this sort of collective crashes happen the grades suffer some inflation. Uff... Thank God!
By this time you're probably wonder why I look so amused when writing about this catastrophe. Well the reason is simple: I had 45%, and all things considered this was a pretty good grade. I'm not happy with it, in particular because I do feel that I've grasped the material on the course, and know better than that; but looking at the overall class performance this was not a bad grade.

In case some of my dear readers are interested in going through the midterm, you can find a solution here. But please, put some real effort before looking at the solutions :)

PS- about the midterm I particularly like the footnotes

segunda-feira, 9 de novembro de 2009

full speed ahead!

As a student I was always the kind of guy that prepared ahead for trouble to come. This was my way of being, but I also wanted to avoid those stressful nights before the exams. Here at UCSD, however, I have been forced to do both :) Not only I need to prepare the course material at an early stage, but I'm also bound to study until the very last hour before the exam. There is really no other way to do it. At least one that works for me! And speaking of the devil, I have a midterm next Thursday!

Fortunately the courses I wanted to do are almost done. After the two I'm taking right now, I only expect to take one more in the Winter quarter. Unless my adviser suggests some more, I'm not thinking to take any other courses. Although I have to admit I've learned a lot just by taking courses, there is no doubt that, in the way they're taught, they tend to consume a lot of time...
Oh well, that's life! Or at least grad-life, and nobody said it was perfect.

quarta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2009

private joke

Não resisti à tentação de publicar esta pequena performance de alguns funcionários públicos da autarquia de Portimão(?). Especialmente dedicada a alguns amigos...
Prestem atenção à letra; sobretudo àquela parte em que fala sobre os objectivos :)
Afinal a diferença entre o público e o privado não é tão grande assim!

sábado, 24 de outubro de 2009

2 out of 3

After my debut in baseball, now it was basketball's turn, and I'm still missing American football were our very own, San Diego, Chargers seem to be a good team!

Currently we're in the pre-season, and the Lakers played against the Nuggets in San Diego (an exhibition match, since none of the teams is from San Diego). I went there in a tour organized by the international center of UCSD. Here is a video with some of the highlights of the match. Hope you enjoy it!

By the way, the Nuggets won by almost 20 points difference!

domingo, 11 de outubro de 2009

Almoço de Domingo

Para acompanhar as eleições autárquicas fiz um arrozinho de pato que partilhei com o casal Amirali. Acompanhado de um Vinha Grande 2002 (Casa Ferreirinha) comprado no World Market (10 USD).

Para segundas núpcias ficaram os jaquinzinhos fritos com arrozinho malandro de tomate!

sábado, 3 de outubro de 2009

my first baseball game

Baseball is not the most famous sport in San Diego. Their team, the Padres, are not one of the nation's top teams. However they were able to beat the LA Dodgers. A team far better, from what I was told, and with a much bigger budget. This was my first live baseball game ever; and with the help from a Korean friend, Jong, I was able to understand the rules of the game.
It was a rather fast game they said... still it lasted 3 hours (!). Most of this time Americans just spent it socializing; eating, drinking, talking, sometimes even outside of the stadium were food and drinks are cheaper. They really only start paying attention to the game around the 5th or 6th inning.

This "baseball field trip" was organized by UCSD's School of Engineering. There is a whole ritual before a baseball game, which we religiously fulfilled: people arrive one or two hours before the game; they arrange for small barbecues in the parking lot just outside of the stadium and drink as much as they can so that they don't spend a lot of money inside. Alcohol is allowed within the stadium, but prices are not friendly. Normal beer starts at $8 USD, and you can get an hot-dog as low as $4 USD.

terça-feira, 22 de setembro de 2009

School's up!

that's right! Classes will start this Thursday. Behind us is now week zero: the orientation week for new students. I've volunteered in the International Center to welcome Exchange Abroad Program (EAP) students, visiting Scholars, or simply new international students, as I was last year. It was nice to see myself in those scary new faces :)

(me at the office, carrying my lunch)

I've talked with my adviser and we've agreed that there are two good courses for me this quarter: Statistical Learning II and Parameter Estimation. Again, the Fall quarter seems to be always the most interesting one in terms of courses taught in my area. The latter was one that I was actually enrolled last year, but that I have postponed so that I could prepare better (taking a pre-requisite undergrad course: Introduction to Linear and Non-Linear Optimization). Although taking courses is always interesting - undoubtedly one learns a lot - it is also very time consuming. And my primary objective for this academic year is to have some scientific article published in a relevant journal and/or conference proceedings: Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV) or Internation Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV). I need to check the deadlines for submission on those. For CVPR it's going to be virtually impossible, since the deadline is somewhere in November...

segunda-feira, 7 de setembro de 2009

Surfin' USA

Again I have to apologize... I've not been kind to my friendly followers. But I can assure you that I've been putting to good use the time that I'm not posting news! I took the generous offer of my roommate (6f.10'' South Coast surfboard) with a couple of lessons from a more experienced friend in the art of surfing (thank you Tilman!) and "surf's up dudes!". "Awesome" people would say around here :)

I have to tell you that the (really) good weather started one or two weeks ago. In such a way that I was getting up around 6am just because of the heat. So instead of finding new ways to overcome the heat and have some more sleep; I just started going to bed earlier than usual and, like any good Californian, wake up around 6am. I grab my surfboard and hit the water before hitting the books!
Water has been crystal clear, especially during the early morning when there's not that many people in there. I can see stingrays swimming below me, and a friendly seal shows up every morning! The temperature is around some very nice 23º celsius. Which makes it all even more pleasant!

I'm still surprised with the amount of "grannies" and "grandpas" that you see in the water here in La Jolla. You look at them and you can't stop thinking: these folks can barely walk, how on earth are they gonna stand on a surfboard? Then they go into the water and show you some tricks... Awesome!

sábado, 15 de agosto de 2009

Welcome California!

It's always sad to leave behind Family, Friends and your homeland. But I have good friends here too. And even though I've had a bumpy journey I was still in time to have a beer in "Thank God it's Friday", at Scripps.

In the picture above, myself and doctor Tilman Friz, in my balcony.

sexta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2009

Phoenix, Arizona

This could be my fastest trip from Porto to San Diego, instead it will most likely be my longest one. Heavy air traffic delayed the arrival of my plane in Newark, and the departure to Phoenix happened 2 hours later than scheduled. Result: I lost my connection flight to San Diego.

Airport time is not always very useful; but this time I've been reading email, chating with friends, and I just discovered that California is on fire. And I mean literally... hope everything is OK at home. I think the fire is further North in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.

Now it's time to get going to the gate. I'll be boarding soon.

PS - I loved to spend this time in Portugal. It's just too bad that I can never be with all my friends no matter what. But it was very good anyway. Thank you all!

domingo, 19 de julho de 2009

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s

San Diego reclaimed by portuguese troops, close to Cabrilho's national monument in Point Loma.

quinta-feira, 25 de junho de 2009

Milestone 250

Just reached a nice round number in my practice runs: 250 km and counting only since early this year. Actually, this was in even less than 6 months, because my first log dates back to the end of January!
Thanks to my brother Alexandre, that gave me a Nike+ accessory for my iPod last Christmas, everything is properly logged so that I can brag about it :)

Last minute news: just stop by the mailbox, and Arnold has finally decided to send me my definitive California driver's license. Thanks Terminator!! Now I don't need to carry around my passport whenever I want to drink a simple beer! You can't imagine the ordeal that was to have this done. Folks at DMV are somewhat complicated and disorganized. I was waiting for it since end April. I'm thinking about suing them...
...this "American way of life" is starting to get to me!

quarta-feira, 17 de junho de 2009

André Teixeira Puga

Hoje é um dia triste para mim. Estou certo que não estou sozinho neste sentimento. Alunos ou colegas do Professor André Teixeira Puga estarão certamente comigo neste dia em que ele nos deixou. A faculdade onde o conheci (FEUP) perdeu um dos que, na minha opinião, era um dos seus mais competentes professores. Isto claro, sem falar na qualidade do seu trabalho como investigador. Foi sob a sua orientação que fiz a minha tese de mestrado, e foi ele um dos principais motivadores na minha vinda para a UCSD. Devo-lhe muito. A minha curta carreira de investigador terá sempre a sua chancela. Recordo com saudade as diversas tardes de Sábado ou Domingo que passámos a trabalhar na minha tese. A minha motivação? o canudo. A do André? o puro prazer de ensinar!

A vida é mesmo assim. Há coisas com as quais não contamos... e esta, para mim, foi pura e simplesmente um choque.

Caro Professor, amigo André: até sempre!
do seu aluno, Zé Maria

domingo, 7 de junho de 2009

final's week

at last... the final's week for the last quarter of the academic year is about to begin! I can't imagine how time went so fast.

Today in the afternoon, I was just thinking a little bit about all the amazing experiences I've been living this year. Not forgetting some frustrations along the way... but then again, looking back it's incredible the amount of knowledge I've acquired. For those of you that think something like: "oh yeah... he works on computers", it may be complicated for me to explain how broad of an area the "computers" are. You might not be aware, but I've slightly deviated from my original major. Come to think of it, I guess I've never really worked in what my degree was supposed to prepare me for: software engineering/computer science. As such, it's easy to understand that my potential learning curve is bigger than those in the field for years (if I am willing to open my mind). I must admit, I take a lot of pleasure in going back to school. Although I keep complaining about midterms, finals, homework... I could do this for life :)

People often ask, but what exactly do you do after all? And I always have problems explaining this. When I do try to give an explanation, I always end up with this feeling that the message didn't get through... Perhaps I use too much technical jargon. Computer vision, machine learning... what is this stuff? I guess there is no better explanation than to actually show an application. Here is a cool video with a projected vision for a known game controller.

segunda-feira, 25 de maio de 2009

a tour to Garnett peak

Today I felt somewhat compelled to write something in here. It's been so long since I last reported...
Let me tell you about a small road trip towards East: Garnett peak (Northeast of Mt Laguna)

It's a small elevation (1800m) Southeast of La Jolla. It's around 80 miles drive, and then 2 hours walking an easy trail. On a clear day, facing East of Garnett's, people say you can see all the way to Arizona. I can't vouch for that, but the view surely is overwhelming. And downwards, facing South, you can see Mexico too. It's an enjoyable hike, nothing too demanding. On our way upthere we stoped over at Pine Valley to buy a forest parking permit. It's a bit ridiculous to have such a thing for a huge park, but that's how it works around here: you need one of those in any national park to avoid a citation. Pine Valley is a realy small town but, as any typical american inland town, it has it's own road restaurant. The environment on a Saturday afternoon is a must! The parking lot packed with Harleys, and the restaurant crowded with leather jackets. Really ... a must see for any ocasional tourist.

The hike in itself went without any sort of trouble... except for the rattlesnake we bumped into on our way downhill. But, politely, we decided to go around her as she seemed a little bit upset.

I have two more weeks of instruction, then the finals... and one year is almost over. Impressive how time goes by!

Looking forward to see you all soon!

domingo, 10 de maio de 2009

domingo, 3 de maio de 2009

Mother's day

First of all, my homage to all Mother's out there. Today is your day! At least in Portugal, because in the US, as in many other countries, Mother's day is just in the second Sunday of May.
In particular I would like to pay my respects to my Mother. In some sense Mother's day is a sort of a family day as well. So one tends to miss the family more in these days. At least that was my case. Fortunately (or maybe not) I had a special "entertainment" for this Sunday afternoon: grading homework for my advisor's undergraduate class (Digital Signal Processing II).

I just finished with the grading (the picture was in the beginning, hence the smile), and I'm taking some time to write a few words before going to bed. The class did well. I must say I'm a lenient guy in what concerns grading. Perhaps because I'm still taking courses myself... who knows! I'm what they call an easy-grader.

Last weekend I had the La Jolla half-marathon. Didn't yet had the opportunity to talk about that.

Got myself a new medal for the club's rich spoil (Veteranos do Parque da Cidade). I've participated in enough events like this not to be surprised easily... however, after crossing the finish line they gave us the usual stuff (a medal, some water, energy drinks, fruit) and then we were sent to something called the "beer-garden". Not surprisingly this was a rest area sponsored by Budweiser were young and veteran runners could have a couple of nice cold beers. Around 9.30am!! It's a damn good idea! We should this in Portugal as well. The thing is that in this race there were no big names, this seemed more like a social event rather than a sports event. Whereas in Portugal we usually have a couple of big names (national and international) to spice up the race.

Quite honestly, I can almost picture myself having a beer with Samuel Wanjiru or Haile Gebreslassie in the end of the LA marathon next year...

domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

Portuguese American Post-graduate Society (PAPS), Los Angeles 18-19 Abril 2009

É uma notícia curta, apareceu no Jornal 2 no dia em que o Condestável foi santificado. Tratando-se de um vídeo pode demorar um bocadinho a fazer download.
Porquê que isto está aqui!? ... Ah, porque eu apareço lá no finalzinho :)

Como é habitual nestas coisas, também há uma fotografia de família. Cá está ela:

quarta-feira, 22 de abril de 2009

Congratulations to miss California, Carrie Prejean

My neighbor in La Jolla, she is the most recent runner-up in the latest miss USA contest. The reason is simple: when asked by one of the jurors, she said to be against same sex marriage.

Basically, she gave a true honest answer, instead of a political correct one like we're used to hear in this sort of events. Thus, many believe that she lost the possibility of becoming the next miss USA because of that particular answer. She might have lost a lot of stuff, but she certainly conquered my admiration. Congratulations kiddo!

domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

Santa Monica Boulevard, outra vez famosa!

Mizé!! Maninha querida, foste a primeiríssima a dar-me os parabéns! Sempre atenta, nada te escapa!

Com o termómetro a bater nos 30 graus, o povo enchia as praias e avenidas oceânicas em Los Angeles, lá me passeava pela Sta. Monica Bl. à conversa com uma portuguesa da universidade de Austin no Texas, quando o meu telefone tocou ... era de Portugal e pouco passava das 4 da tarde.... "ah! ... pois é" exclamei eu; em Portugal já faço anos, mas aqui ainda tenho mais 8 horas até armar definitivamente o trinta-e-um (cá te espero Príncipe).

Foi interessante este fds em LA, deu para conciliar uma série de actividades. Praia, uma incursão nocturna por downtown LA, o fórum de estudantes portugueses nos EUA, e ainda fiz a minha primeira visita cultural com conteúdo significativo: o Getty Museum da autoria do arquitecto americano Richard Meier. Estava em exibição uma colecção de "velhos mestres", em parte cedida pelo museu de Dresden com quadros da época que se seguiu à geração dourada da renascença. Depois da morte de Rafael e Miguel Angelo todos temiam que a pintura entrasse em declínio acentuado...

segunda-feira, 13 de abril de 2009

upcoming birthday

That's right, you guessed it... my birthday is next Monday. Gifts, however, are already starting to arrive! Some nice chocolates and Easter almonds from Arcadia, a homemade chocolate cake to sweeten my mouth; and one very classy set, polo and pullover, to make me more fashion... not to mention my Easter rabbit and a nice postcard from Leça (onde o mundo começa...).

The bag of almonds must have opened during the long journey, and the cake is a bit crushed (very appropriately it now looks like a big donut), but all in all it's very tasty, and that's what matters. Mom, Dad: thank you very much!

Speaking of transportation... I was thinking about sending a couple of good California wine bottles to some friends and family who I know would appreciate it, but it turns out to be illegal to transport alcohol through postal service. The USPS simply don't do it. The private carriers don't really care about that and they even told me how to do it, simply fill in the customs form declaring it has being vinegar. If, however, they decided to open the package it would be seized, and probably a complaint would be filed against me... Oh well, if only mr. Capone was alive. I bet he could help me out!
Besides I went to on of those private carriers to ask for an estimate to send a six-bottle package of "vinegar" to Portugal and it would cost me around 250 USD. No budget for that! Sorry.
I guess this is one more reason for you to come and visit me!

Meanwhile, and to satisfy peoples curiosity concerning my car, I took my laptop (this is the only camera I have for the moment) outside to capture some images, and here it is. Nothing extraordinary... it's just to give you folks an insight.
Gas is a bit more cheap here; I've filled the tank with a little bit over 20 dollars. Not bad, ha?

Getting back to the subject, I'm not going to be upset if people don't call me in the 20th. Honestly. But because some folks have been asking for my number here it is: +1 858 220 4574. And please remember there is an eight hour time difference. So, PLEASE, DO NOT call me before 4pm (Portugal's time, this would be 8am California time). A suggestion I make for those that would like to say hello on my birthday is to simply leave a post here. I promise to read them all and reply thankfully.

Last but not least, this upcoming weekend I'm traveling to LA. There's a Portuguese American Post-graduate Society (PAPS) forum taking place there. I'll be staying at Jorge's place. Spanish nice chap that I met at Alcatel-Lucent who is now living in LA.
Jorge, if you're reading this: thanks again mate, for you kind offer!

terça-feira, 7 de abril de 2009

a present for myself :-)

Things are a bit crazy in the past couple of days... Haven't had the time to sit down and write about my life. I'm (still) dealing with the federal tax return, my auto insurance (should be done by now), all together I now have my permanent spot at UCSD. Not that it matters too much to someone that doesn't know the facilities but it's in Engineering building I on the 5th floor. It's a nice sunny place with a good view over the campus.

Regarding my digital camera. This is the one I'm currently in love with (Canon IXUS 100 IS as it is known in Europe or Powershot SD 780 IS ELPH in North America):

What do you think? It's nothing fancy in what concerns features... but it's so small and handy. I really love it. If anyone has any insight on the subject that they would like to share, I would be more than grateful to hear an expert's opinion before committing. This will be my birthday present to myself. So the decision should be made soon.
It comes in gold, silver, black or red. Red or gold are more or less ruled out... I'm tending towards silver at the moment.

Oh ... the price? The cheapest I found so far was at the bookstore: 264 USD.

PS- actually this would be my second present, since the first one arrived yesterday with a fearless and exuberant display of football at old trafford. What ever the outcome of this heat might turnout... that was a hell of a game. Well done lads! FCP4ever

sexta-feira, 27 de março de 2009

No country for wheelless men

and thus I bought my own set of wheels. It's a blue Honda Civic, dates from 2003 but is, overall, in good condition (I hope!). I went to the DMV, registered the car, took the eye exam, written exam for applying to a California driver's license, and all that I'm left with is the "behind the wheel" exam scheduled for the 24th of April. In the mean time I got a temporary license.

I bought it from a brazilian guy that is leaving the country. The transaction somewhat resembled a Hollywood drug deal: I went to my bank and withdraw the money, took it in a discrete, however thick, envelope and went to see the seller. The guy that I bought the car from is living in a boat over at marina Cortez, downtown San Diego. As I went to his boat I couldn't help thinking that some guy with a shovel would surprise me on my back, take the envelope and make a run. I guess the film industry as shown us this sort of scenes over and over... and I was just afraid that something could go wrong. At the end of the day, though, things turned out alright for everyone. We filled in the registration form at the boat, I payed the man, we talked for a while and then I went on my way. No dramatic endings to this scene! But things are not that simple... In order for me to buy a car, there were a number of factors that I had to look for: if the title is clean or salvaged, if it passed the smog inspection, how many owners, previous accidents that the car might have been involved in the past, miles per gallon (MPG)... the list is big! I was learning all about it in the past couple of months in order to achieve the safest buy possible. There is, however, always a risk involved when buying to a private party, but that's where you can make the better deals.

In the meantime, the spring break is heading towards the end, but I was still in time to make my diving debut in the pacific waters. This weekend myself and 6 other divers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) went to the city of Avalon, over at Sta. Catalina island. It's a two hours journey (1h by car + 1h ferry boat). This is one of the most visited dive sites in the world due to it's easy access and good learning conditions.

The visibility is more than 30 feet (~10m) and the marine life is abundant. I've to admit though, that I've met better conditions for divers in other places in what concerns facilities (running water, locker rooms, etc)... even so, southern California divers often choose this spot for a leisure weekend. While I was in the island, I tried to look for Mitch Buchannon and CJ Parker, but I couldn't find them... I guess they were probably off duty, or patrolling some other L.A. beach!

Next step... file the federal tax return. Although I'm exempt of paying any sort of taxes here, I do have to file at least the federal tax. I'm not yet sure if I need to file as well for the California state taxes. I guess I'll find out soon enough!

terça-feira, 24 de março de 2009


is finally here! Uff... what a relief. The finals went alright and my research project turned out ok as well. So I'm happy! This week I finally have some time to handle a number of pending issues: driver's license (although as a foreign national, I don't think it's mandatory for me to have it), social security number, and browsing craigslist for a decent used car, among other minor tasks.

Yes, the car does come in first on my priority list. The digital camera will have to wait, and so will you to see some day-to-day photos in this blog. Sorry :(
You might find it funny for me to compare a car buy to a camera buy, but in fact you can find cars as low as $1000 (USD). This is not exactly the kind of car that I'm looking for though... I was aiming to an all-american car, one of those big bath tubs that do 30L/100km (gas is quite cheap around here), but unfortunately those are not reliable so I'm leaning towards a japanese car. We'll see how this turns out!

Got to go, but here's a link for a nice local band: the soft pack

quarta-feira, 11 de março de 2009

desculpe sr. Patrício...

o antes...

Ao fim de 6 meses de emigração, não me foi possível resisitir mais. Atraiçoei o sr. Patrício, barbeiro de uma vida. Claro está que essa versão de barbeiro, que felizmente ainda resiste em Portugal, por aqui, desconfio, nunca existiu! Onde se vai ler o "desportivo", dizer mal da política e dos políticos. Recordo com saudade os elogios que o sr. Patrício costuma fazer ao dr. Oliveira Salazar, queixando-se quão mal anda o país. Imagino que ele esteja ainda mais saudosista do professor doutor nestes tempos de crise; as coisas, pura e simplesmente, parecem não querer melhorar...
Por cá, fui atendido num salão mais ou menos industrial, por uma criatura simpática, mas que nem imagina onde é Portugal... Nestas alturas, e só para chatear, gosto de apelar à minha costela britânica ("talvez conheça" digo eu com um ar paternalista). Tratando-os com alguma condescendência, refiro: "afinal são uma ex-colónia do (meu) Império Britânico!"
Alguns dirão que não é prudente brincar com quem tem uma tesoura na mão. Mas eu não me consigo controlar!

... e o depois!

Bem a propósito a minha nova decoração de interior homenageia o tri-campeão nacional. Deixo aqui uma saudação especial ao meu F.C.Porto que hoje carimbou o passaporte para os quartos da champions. Sempre um motivo de orgulho! Como alguém dizia há algum tempo... champions é champions!!

segunda-feira, 2 de março de 2009

an excepcionally simple theory about the (american) crisis

A rather simplistic point of view from myself, some will say; but the thing is these guys (americans) "have been playing russian roulette with 5 bullets" (Ben Stein dix it, and I agree). The situation is cahotic, AIG just requested another bailout program from the white house. In fact "U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. -- one of the world's biggest insurers -- in an $85 billion deal that signaled the intensity of its concerns about the danger a collapse could pose to the financial system."
Free market sometimes leads to this sort of situations. In fact, US credit agencies promoted dangerous behaviours all the time. At least just until now. Don't know if they plan to change their policy, though. "Credit history" is key term here. It's something that everyone needs to work for. Something you build in time. Kind of like a register for your credit. As much as you can place yourself in debt, you're a good customer for the bank; thus, they'll keep on lending you money and even increase your credit. However, if you always pay your credit within 30 days, you're considered a bad customer, hence they'll not increase your credit limit and it will be difficult for you to get a loan for a house or a car. Go figure!
I still have my credit history clean. I guess I'll just ask for a credit card and start shopping :)

sábado, 21 de fevereiro de 2009


I've been a bit absent from my blog. I apologize to my faithful readers.

Just wanted to drop some words on the latest from southern California. This weekend was, and still is, full of events. Tomorrow (Sunday) we're gonna have the Oscars ceremony. It's not in San Diego, but it's close... it's in LA (roughly 300km up north). Unfortunately this year the Academy scheduled this way too early and I'll not be able to attend. But I'll send for my tuxedo for next year's ceremony!

Some people tend to give a lot of importance to dates. I'm not one of those... Yet my little sister is. And today it's her birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mizé!! She just recently started to work. Like many others before her (me included), she found better opportunities in Lisbon. That's Portugal. A tinny country where people like to concentrate everything in the capital. But it's an interesting experience to work away from your hometown. We (portuguese as a people) are usually strongly attached to our place of birth, but I'm absolutely sure that she will do just fine. Wherever she goes. Actually it was rather funny, because I've talked to her through skype earlier. My family was all at my parent's place for dinner, and when they were finishing they decided to give me a video-call. I was still in my pijama, just getting up ... with an enormous hangover!

The hangover was related to something else. Yesterday another event took place. Tilman, a friend that I met here, is going back to Germany. And we had his farewell party yesterday night. He is a very good friend actually. We found in these 6 months since we knew each other that we have a lot in common... like for instance the age and the pleasure for beer. I'm sorry that he is leaving, but under his circunstances I think I would do the same. He is doing the right thing. Best of luck to you man!

It's dinner time, so I'll be heading off right now. Have some cooking to do...

sexta-feira, 6 de fevereiro de 2009

My new running shoes

Com estas até voo!!

segunda-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2009


Irrespectively of the title of this post, I would like to start by congratulate my big brother for his recent birthday. Congratulations Duarte! 
The reason why I do it in the beginning of the post is because, I'm afraid you might get lost with the remaining...

Below there is a video for the new ad of a vegetarian organization. This ad was banned from the recent Super Bowl. Go figure! So much for freedom... in the land of freedom.

Don't take my word for it, here is the link:

domingo, 25 de janeiro de 2009


I was unable to warn everyone before I left Portugal, but I changed my portuguese mobile number. I'm currently reachable at +351 933 740 890. Please update your address book accordingly. Thanks!

PS- estou a tomar um magnífico chá persa em conjunto com a família Shayan que veio até cá casa para um pequeno lanche. Delicious, José, delicious!

PS2- acrescentei um link para um "blog amigo" aqui à direita: Igor. É mais um emigra: Rui Valente @Dusseldörf.

PS3- you have to be patient, pictures will come to this blog... eventually!

PS4- if I'm not mistaken, today is also new year's eve for the chinese year. So happy new year for those who celebrate it!

terça-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2009

January the 20th

Earlier today, precisely ever since noon according to the 20th amendment of the US constitution, is day one for the new administration. In good old american way this calls for a celebration! Speeches, prayers, parades, balls and parties spread across the nation to welcome the 44th president. IMHO, all this buoyancy will soon be over... let's wait and see.

I'll remember this day, as the day I finally installed cable tv in the apartment. After a few setbacks, it all came to a good end. Needless to say that, pretty much every channel was broadcasting some presidential event.

Yet time to congratulate my cousin Alexandre whose birthday we celebrate today! After all this is your first birthday while married. I heard a big celebration was being prepared. It's a shame I'm unable to attend... All the best!

quinta-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2009

A pedido de algumas famílias...

... e também porque muito me agrada escrever na minha língua, cá vai uma mensagem em Português!

Tudo muito mais suave neste 2o trimestre. Ainda não sou uma velha raposa mas, lá diz o provérbio: à primeira quem quer cai, à segunda cai quem quer! Por isso mesmo tratei de escolher só duas cadeiras. Deveria fazer três, de acordo com as "regras da casa", mas a terceira foi substituída por unidades de crédito ECE 299 (i.e. investigação feita em conjunto com algum Professor/Laboratório). Espero ter um trimestre menos atribulado, até porque a escolha de casa, a compra de tachos e mobília já não me ocupa o tempo. Agora as minhas preocupações são outras. Nem por isso de menor monta: escolher entre um Robert Mondavi, reserva de 1999 (Napa Valey) ou um Shafer, colheita especial de 1998 (Stags Leap District), não é nada fácil! Acreditem!!

Nos meus primeiros 4 meses por aqui, tive um clima verdadeiramente extraordinário. Aliás, na linha do que todos os "entendidos na matéria" iam apregoando sempre que revelava o meu então futuro próximo. Mas na breve estadia em Portugal por ocasião do Natal, pensei que seria melhor precaver-me contra uma eventual descida das temperaturas. A verdade é que estava com algum medo que o verdadeiro frio estivesse ainda para vir. Ainda para mais com as notícias - algo empoladas - de vislumbre de uma calote polar na costa portuguesa. Pensei que não sairia impune ao rigoroso frio invernal. Nem mesmo em San Diego. No entanto, desde a minha chegada (6 de Janeiro), continuo a vestir o habitual pólo, ou a camisa de mangas arregaçadas. Camisola só mesmo à noite, e tem que ser fininha ou então o calor vai apertar. Lembro-me regularmente do meu amigo dr. Morais Meira, por esta altura a sufocar nas escaldantes areias de Copacabana. Não estou nas mesmas condições, mas considero-me ainda assim um privilegiado. Até porque ele só lá deve ficar um par de semanas e eu fico por aqui alguns anos (se tudo correr bem!). As actividades marítimas vão começar bem mais cedo do que o inicialmente previsto. Seguramente! 

Este fim-de-semana é prolongado. Segunda-feira é o Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Sorte a minha. Inicialmente com planos para fazer uma viagem até ao Grand Canyon (Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park) com passagem por Las Vegas. Optei por não embarcar. Talvez me arrependa, mas a verdade é que estou com preguiça para fazer turismo! Quero relaxar na minha terrinha adoptiva. Aproveitar o bom tempo, quem sabe fazer uma praia se o calor se mantiver e começar à procura de escolas de mergulho!

Agora para algo completamente diferente. Os livros aqui, como em qualquer lado, continuam a ser caros. Sobretudo livros técnicos destinados ao ensino superior. Acabei de comprar um por 112 $USD (usado mas em muito bom estado - como novo! Ou "Has young" como diria o Lauro Dérmio). Tenho um amigo que está a fazer essa mesma cadeira e licitou no ebay uma edição mais antiga do mesmo livro por 25 $USD (!!). Apesar de algumas gralhas dessa edição, é um negócio da China, pensei eu. Entusiasmado com este negócio,  acabei de licitar uma máquina de café Nespresso (não é nova mas está, como eles dizerm: in the box. Desta vez não me atrevo a adivinhar como o diria o Lauro Dérmio...) por 20 $USD. Será um milagre que ela me venha parar às mãos, mas a verdade é que os meus dólares são, de momento, a maior oferta!

quarta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2009

I'm back!

After three weeks filled with emotions near those that are close to me, I'm back to San Diego. By the way, thank you all for the warm welcome. I loved it, and I'm only sorry that I was unable to spend more time with each and everyone of you!

I'm just about to go to Ikea to buy a couple of things. Namely: a desk (incredible how I was able to do a whole quarter without one of those!), a chair and a chest drawer. I have more things to sore right now. Brought more 20kg of cloth (with a couple of bottles of Port wine) and around 15 kg of scuba diving equipment. This was lost for a few hours in Washington, but it eventually found it's way home.

PS- the weather is so much better here. Porto was so cold and rainy, here it looks like we're in Spring. Let's see if it holds...