Archive for November, 2007

Hoover Corner

Posted by len on 28th November 2007

Here’s a typical corner of one of the streets we pass almost daily.
PT is Portugal Telecom and controls all phone communication and most internet access. Supermanos is where our landlady bought our new stove.

Posted in Portugal | 28 Comments »

Thanksgiving in Portugal

Posted by sue on 25th November 2007

Thanksgiving was saved for us by my fellow teacher Andrea (second from right), who hosted a dinner at her beautiful home in Estoril on Saturday. We all got there late and hungry, but everything worked out at it should have, as we spent an enjoyable evening with nice people and good food. Click on the photo to see the rest of the pictures.

Posted in Portugal | 30 Comments »

Fun with Faraday

Posted by sue on 22nd November 2007

So, what do total nerds do with their Sunday afternoons? Hmm. Not sure. I’ll ask them when I see them.

In completely unrelated news, Len and I went to Lisbon’s Electricity Museum last Sunday. It’s a now-unoperational coal and fuel-oil fired electrical plant that was used in the first half of the 20th century. The guidebook said something about the all the old machinery there looking like something out of the movie Brazil. Which I guess it did, a bit. And we had a nice chat over lunch about the importance of James Maxwell for the field of electromagnetism.

Again, I’ll do more research into how nerds spend their weekends, and get back to you.


Posted in Portugal | 38 Comments »

The Stages of Culture Shock

Posted by sue on 17th November 2007

So, it turns out that, psychologically, moving abroad isn’t all that unlike dealing with a death, or the end of a significant relationship, or other event in which grieving is the natural response.

The stages of culture shock, evidently, begin with the Tourist Phase, when you first get there and everything is new and interesting and fun. It’s the “that building isn’t run-down, it’s Quaint and Historic!” phase, so it shares a little with the Denial phase of grief, though it’s more up-beat. Next is the Emptiness Phase, where the difficulty of everyday transactions and the, well, “differentness” of everything makes you feel annoyed and alienated and certainly not hopeful that you’ll ever like it in such a God-forsaken place. But then, thankfully, comes the Recovery Phase, where you start to find ways to cope and places to hang out that you like, and you’ve met a few people who are nice to you, and you start to carve out a little niche for yourself. You certainly haven’t mastered everything yet (and the language acquisition still has a long way to go), but you start to have hope. Finally, there’s the Acceptance Stage, when life starts to feel normal (or at least as normal as life ever feels) and you can appreciate the culture you’re living in and regain your sense of humor.

Our experience of Portugal has been strange because our Tourist Phase was very short. We arrived already a bit weary from travel, and I started a pretty intense course of study within days of arriving. By the time my course ended (June 1), I was already in Emptiness Phase, and honestly, I’ve been there pretty much ever since. Until the past couple of weeks, that is, when I’ve started to feel really happy.

The weather has turned cool and a little wintry (wintry enough for spoiled Californians like us), which I love. They’re putting up Christmas lights all over the city. My classes are going well and I like the people I work for and the people I work with. The Portuguese that I hear is only 80% gibberish rather than entirely gibberish (understanding a little is far better than understanding nothing). We’ve been going out more to fun and interesting places. We’re far from “integrated”, because we still haven’t befriended any Portuguese people, just Americans and Brazilians. But, there’s hope.

Posted in Musings, Portugal | 31 Comments »

Accordion and Smushy Face Dog

Posted by len on 15th November 2007

Accordion and Smushy Face Dog, originally uploaded by len_spanky.

Apparently there’s some manual out on the streets of Lisbon on how to turn a quick euro with the scads of tourists tramping through downtown.

My guess is that Chapter 1 is entitled: “The Small Dog and Accordion Hustle”.

Here you’ll see several young guys and their accordions, and of course, their tiny, cutsie widdle doggies.
Each of these guys was within about 15 meters of the next in the touristy Rossio Square area of Lisbon.
I’ve also seen these guys come onto Metro trains and do their schtick.
Just another magical part of Lisbon!
(All photos by Diana Hecht while on a visit to Lisbon)

Accordion and Chihuahua
Accordion and Mutt

Note the little green basket dangling in the pup’s mouth. We tried putting change in there and the dog acted drugged. He barely flinched or noticed us.

Posted in Portugal | 46 Comments »

Mutual Cyclops

Posted by len on 15th November 2007

This is a common bank we ran across in Seville, Spain.
Do the Spaniards not know how funny this is?!!
You can’t make this stuff up!

Posted in Portugal | 22 Comments »

New Years in Paris Anyone?

Posted by len on 11th November 2007

Anyone wanna make their New Years a little more fun than sitting in front of the TV with a few guests who lost their buzz an hour ago and are just waiting for the clock to hit 12:01 so they can finally go home?!
Well, the Squid invites you to join us in Paris this year!
We’re going to be hitting the city of sewers on Dec. 29th and returning to Lisbon Jan. 3rd in the evening.
Get those plane tickets! We’ll all shove into a crappy hotel room and never stop giggling!

Posted in Portugal | 26 Comments »

Len’s return, and the Slippery Slope

Posted by sue on 3rd November 2007

Len arrived home to Lisbon last night after what appears to have been a successful business trip to Boston and Washington, D.C.

He brought back some “essential items” from the U.S.: chili seasoning, a new robe for me, some used books, a new wireless keyboard (because it’s cuter, smaller, and newer than the wireless keyboard he already has), and a GameCube with the latest Zelda game. He also bought the latest Simpsons game for the PS 2, which he is playing at this very moment. We’re getting more settled in and more candy ass all the time.

Many of you who were frequent or occasional visitors to our house in Culver City, before we left it just over a year ago, know that we had a lot of stuff. The good dishes for 8, the everyday dishes for 10, glasses of all kinds, appliances of all kinds, hundreds of books, lots of furniture. You know, stuff. In our travels we’ve generally tried up to resist the temptation to amass lots and lots of stuff, because while it provides comfort in the short term, it can really weigh you down in the longer term. Every time we buy something (or even consider it) we proclaim ourselves to be on the “slippery slope” toward saddling ourselves with a pile of possessions that we’ll just have to unload for pennies on the dollar (or centimos on the Euro) yet again.

Nevertheless, the more comfortable we get in Lisbon, the harder it is to resist buying a couple more towels here, and few more books there. It’s still a drop in the bucket compared with what we used to have, but it’s slowly creeping up on us.

Posted in Portugal | 39 Comments »