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 :)