Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Part One: The Imaginary Tower

The Portuguese writer Ruben A. wrote a novel about an imaginary tower, situated somewhere in the valley of the River Lima, in the midst of lovely countryside. The book was called A Torre da Barbela and I can quote by heart what the keeper said when he climbed up to the top with visitors who wanted to see the view: “Look: here you are either pleased with what you see in the blink of an eye, or it may take a while to fully enjoy it.” We may feel the same as we travel along the Portuguese Northwestern coastline: look at it in the blink of an eye or take time to fully enjoy it. Those who decide to look carefully will be rewarded by being transformed from a simple tourist into a traveler to real or imaginary places. The sense of monotony is immediately erased by the succession of small properties that create a mantle made up of a thousand different shades of green, that gently contrast with the blue of the sea. Geography alone is not enough to understand the complexity of this cultural landscape, molded by history and collective memory. We have to look for the marks made over the centuries by its inhabitants and read and interpret them - at times using imagination – to see a landscape that is filled with meaning (to be continued).

Monday, August 28, 2006


Brussels is not exactly famous for its sunny weather, and the month of August isn’t an exception. But, this year, all the records have been broken: only 40% of the already few normal hours of sunshine, and three times more rain than the already high average. According to the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, this is an “exceptional” phenomenon even for Brussels, which only takes place once every 30 years… Now, you tell me: am I not a lucky guy?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


To think deeply, forgetting about the world around one…
Three weeks ago, I and A were zapping through the TV channels and spotted a rock concert; we liked the music and decided to watch it for a while. We found out afterwards that it was a Muse’s concert and, a couple of days later, I bought the CD: “Black Holes and Revelations”. I like it so much that, since then, I’ve been listening to it almost everyday and it became one of my favorite recordings.

The English rock trio, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dominic Howard, settled on the name Muse and released their self-titled debut EP on Dangerous Records in 1997, followed by the "Muscle Museum" EP in 1998. The group's emotive, passionate sound and live dates drew critical acclaim and industry buzz, and after a trip to New York, Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records. Singles like "Cave" and "Uno" preceded their debut full-length album, "Showbiz", which was released toward the end of 1999. Two years later, Muse issued "The Origin of Symmetry" and had a major hit with "Hyper Music." In 2002, fans were treated to the double-disc live set "Hullabaloo". Muse's fourth album, "Absolution", was released the following year and their fifth effort, "Black Holes and Revelations", last month.

The latter is said to be the band's brightest, most dynamic set of material to date. Within a week of its release, the band topped the U.K. album charts, earning their second consecutive number one album. "Take A Bow" sets the scene immediately: a fascinating, full orchestrated rock sound, layered in waves of synthesizers and percussion, build up to Bellamy's aching performance of a world torn apart by it's own instability. Songs such as the sultry swagger of "Supermassive Black Hole" and the razor-edged paranoia of "Assassin" are good examples of how firm Muse is in delivering the biggest rock & roll package they possibly can. It might have taken four albums for me to get it, but with "Black Holes and Revelations", the whole world should be listening!

The Siege

I just watched the movie The Siege. It was shot in 1998 by Director Edward Zwick (“Glory”, “Legends of the Fall”, “Courage Under Fire” and, more recently, “The Last Samurai”) and it is based on a story by Lawrence Wright, who also wrote the screenplay. After the abduction by the US military of an Islamic religious leader, New York City becomes the target of escalating terrorist attacks. Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington), the head of the FBI's Counter-Intelligence Task Force in New York, teams up with CIA operative Elise Kraft (Annette Bening) to hunt down the terrorist cells responsible for the attacks. As the bombings continue, the US government responds by declaring martial law, sending US troops, led by Gen. Devereaux (Bruce Willis), into the streets of New York City. The movie is very entertaining and Denzel Washington gives, as usual, a great performance. The most interesting about The Siege, however, is the fact that it raises questions, predicts behaviors and unveils plots that might have been disregarded as fiction in 1998, but have become frighteningly real after the tragedy of 9/11 and subsequent events… The script was somehow prophetic and, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I recommend that you do it now that the 5th anniversary of the day that changed the world is approaching.


Far away
This ship has taken me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

I will be chasing a starlight
Until the end of my life
I don't know if it's worth it anymore

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold you in my arms

My life
You electrify my life
Let's conspire to ignite
All the souls that would die just to feel alive

I'll never let you go
If you promise not to fade away
Never fade away

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

The End is always a new beginning

Yesterday, I and A watched together the last episodes of the first season of Lost. Even if we didn’t know that a second season exists and that a third one will soon begin, it would be easy to figure that the end of these first 25 episodes is nothing more than a new beginning… Walt has been kidnapped by strangers in the middle of the sea, and Jack, Locke, Kate and Hurley were finally able to open the hatch, using the dynamite that they found at the Black Rock. Now, we’ll need to wait some time for the second season to come out on DVD. It will be a difficult waiting, but not as much as the other one we’ll have to face now. A left this morning back to Portugal… It was great to have her here for these last days and I would surely loved her to stay longer, but we both knew that this moment would come and I guess we have been preparing ourselves for it. There were neither tears nor sad words; only hugs, kisses and words of love and hope. It is true that my apartment looks quite empty right now and that I already miss her; but it is also true that I feel confident, happy and loved! And, as the song says, this is what makes me believe that I will get with her to where only fearless people can get. And this can certainly be considered a new beginning!

Friday, August 25, 2006

João's Sounds Box

I just added to the links’ list the new blog of a long-time friend. His name is João Borges and some of you might know him. He promises to share music. And, I can assure you, he knows what is talking about! If you can read Portuguese, you will find out about lots of musical stuff! And you’ll like it! Thanks João, I’ll be your number 1 fan!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


By the way, today is Pedro’s birthday. It is the first time he spends it abroad and away from his family, and I guess it must be kind of special. He has been in Amsterdam for the last days, but as he will be back in Brussels tonight, I hope to still be able to give him a friendly hug. In any case, the message stays here, for him and everyone else to read: happy birthday, dear friend! Wish you a great one!

Lost & Won

As I said, I and A are now addicted to Lost, even though I know that this doesn’t make us special, as lots of good people all around the world are too. We are now at the middle of Season 1, having watched 14 out of 25 episodes. We are finally aware of Michael and Walt’s stories and the episode ended with Claire’s comeback after being kidnapped by the mysterious Ethan… We are also aware of the fact that this addiction has a negative impact on our ability to sleep at night and decided to implement some measures. As a first result, yesterday we managed to watch one episode only. To be completely honest, I have to confess that the fact that we went out for dinner and to watch Benfica’s football match against FK Austria Wien also helped a lot… But still, we are determined to control our addiction and I feel confident that we will manage to do it! Coming back to Benfica, the most relevant fact is that its win last night ensured Portugal will have three teams in the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever. The win against the Austrian team was fine - with goals from Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes and Petit - and easy. A, who is not a Benfica fan, behaved in a very civilised way, proving once again to be a respectful and caring woman. I never thought that I would be able to fall in love with a FC Porto fan… but then again, I never thought that I would be able to fall in love like this at all… and yet I did. And I am happy as I can be!

Monday, August 21, 2006

1st Anniversary

I just realised that last Wednesday was the first anniversary of this blog. Now that I think of it, it seems that I should have celebrated it; but the fact that I didn’t do it also says a lot about many things. First of all, it says a lot about my relation with this blog; then it says about my relation with anniversaries in general; and, last but not the least, it says about how much and often I change my mind about these unimportant things… Anyway, having only 10 visitors per day, I don’t think we can say that this is a hugely successful blog; on the other hand, this was never meant to be more than what it is: one way of sharing some thoughts. Therefore, the balance is positive. The blog is now part of my life and I will keep posting. Hope you stay around!

Lost & Found

There’s been one week since I returned to Brussels. When I came back from Monterrey, last week, my luggage was delayed and I spent the whole week waiting for it to be delivered. I got it back on Friday, five days later, and found out that it had been sent to Lyon. My luggage knows places I’ve never been to… On the other hand, my sister was already waiting for me in Brussels. She came to spend some days with me and to visit the city. Although the weather sucks, M managed to visit a lot of places, including some that I only have heard about… She is heading back to Portugal today and I hope she will keep good memories of these days spent under the Brussels’ rain. Then, also on Friday, A arrived. Courtesy of Iberia, she lost her connection flight in Madrid, and landed four hours later than she was supposed to… but she still managed one smile, and it made my day! We’ve been spending some nice time together, mainly at home. It’s amazing how you can enjoy the time, even if you don’t do anything special, as long as you spend it with someone you love! Apart from a dinner downtown, some domestic tasks, Pedro’s birthday party and a short but nice walk around the neighbourhood, the most relevant event worth telling you about was the fact that we are now officially addicted to Lost… We started to watch the 1st season DVDs and we can’t stop! It is probably the best drama series of the moment and I already start to worry about the fact that I will suffer waiting for Season 2 to come out on DVD… Anyway, for now there are still some episodes to be watched, which means that I and A will spend some more hours in the couch, enjoying each other’s presence and that of our new friends: Jack, Kate, Sayid, Mr Locke, Charlie, Claire, Hurley, Boone and his sister Shannon, Michael and his son Walt, Sun and her husband and even Sawyer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Who do I have to kill to get my luggage back?!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

International Youth Day

I am at the Monterrey airport, waiting to board my flight to Ciudad de Mexico, from where I will take another flight to Paris and, then, a train to Brussels... I've arrived three days ago and attended a youth conference organised by the Government of the State of Nuevo León to which I was invited to share the European Youth Forum's experience on promoting the participation of young people through youth organisations. It was a very nice activity and I met very nice people. Amongst them, I would like to highlight Adolfo and Arturo Franco, twin brothers. Adolfo is a cinema producer and Arturo an economist. Very different in their attitudes towards professional life, but sharing the same belief on democracy and civic activism. Two amazing personalities and two very dear new friends. That's what I like about my life: the opportunities it offers me to be surprised by real people from whom I can learn to become a better person and who give me the energy to keep believing that together we can work for a better world. This was the motto of the World Youth Festival - Portugal'98. It was closed 8 years ago exactly and, since then, August 12th is the International Youth Day. A date to celebrate, because youth deserves to be celebrated.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Working for Peace...

The military and the monetary,
they use the media as an intermediary,
determined to keep the citizens secondary.
They make so many decisions that are arbitrary.

We’re standing behind a commander in chief
who was standing under a spotlight and shaking like a leaf,
but the ship-the state- had landed on an economic reef,
so we knew he was going to bring us messages of grief.
The Military and the Monetary,
they get together whenever they think it's necessary.
War in the desert sometimes sure is scary,
but they beamed out the war to all their subsidiaries.
Tried to make So Damn Insane a worthy adversary,
keeping the citizens secondary,
scaring old folks into coronaries.
The Military and the Monetary,
from thousands of miles in a Saudi Arabian sanctuary,
kept us all wondering if all of this was really truly necessary.

We've got to work for Peace,
Peace ain't coming this way.
If we only work for Peace,
If everyone believed in Peace the way they say they do,
we'd have Peace.

The only thing wrong with Peace
is that you can't make no money from it.

The Military and the Monetary,
they get together whenever they think it's necessary,
hey've turned our brothers and sisters into mercenaries,
they are turning the planet into a cemetery.

Got to work for Peace,
Peace ain't coming this way.

We should not allow ourselves to be misled
by talk of entering a time of Peace.
Peace is not the absence of war,
it is the absence of the rumours of war
and the threats of war
and the preparation for war.

Peace is not the absence of war,
it is the time when we will all bring ourselves closer to each other,
closer to building a structure that is unique within ourselves
because we have finally come to Peace within ourselves.
Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something!
Gil Scott Heron, "Work for Peace" (excerpts)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I can see now

As I’ve just said, the holidays are over. Tomorrow I will leave Guimarães behind and the following day I will be travelling to Mexico, for professional reasons. On Sunday, five days later than I thought, I will be back in Brussels. This delay, courtesy of a non-planned activity to be attended, it’s exactly the kind of things I hate on my job; but, at the same time, it is just a good example of the complete lack of boredom that it offers to my life! I have to confess, however, that, for the first time since I moved to Brussels, this time I would have preferred to prolong my stay in Portugal… Some days ago, I have met someone who changed my life completely. I met her for the first time near the sea and bid her farewell, some hours ago, in the same place. She will join me in Brussels in about ten days, but I already know that I will miss her a lot… Yet, I feel happy! And I feel calm. Being calm in front of such an event it’s what surprises me the most, but she explained it all to me. As the song says, “there’s nothing more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose, nothing to live for and nothing to prove”… and, in that sense, I feel completely harmless: I have a lot to lose, a lot to live for and a lot to prove! And, with you, I know that I will succeed! Thanks once again A! And see you soon!

Weather Forecast

It's now 1.30am in Guimarães and the temperature is 25ºC. During the day, it will raise up to 35ºC, as it has been happening for the last five days. It won't affect me, as the holidays are over and I will leave Guimarães on a train to Lisbon at 8.00am. The temperature in Lisbon will be around the same values; maximum of 36ºC, according to the weather forecast, still below the 40ºC expected in several other spots around the country... These temperatures are quite normal in August in Portugal and even though it's not exactly pleasant, Portuguese people are used to them. On Wednesday, I will fly from Lisbon to Monterrey, in Mexico. The temperatures will be again around the same values: maximum of 37ºC all over my stay. The only difference is that it will be raining there... In a way, I have to confess that my short stay in Mexico will work as an adaptation period for my arrival in Brussels: the temperature will be the same that I've been experiencing here... and the rain will be almost for sure what I will find in Brussels upon my arrival on Sunday...

Discrimination against smokers?

An Irish company issued a call for a job stating that smokers shouldn’t even bother to apply. A British MEP questioned the European Commission about the legitimacy of the provision. Commissioner Spidla answered that it doesn’t violate the European laws. Well, in my opinion, someone should inform Mr Spidla that he isn’t paid to interpret the laws, but to implement them. He can have his opinion, of course, as I have mine. Even if the European anti-discriminatory legislation doesn’t explicitly state this situation, the law in many European countries states very clearly that health-related issues can’t be used to refuse a job to someone. Many people may tend to be tolerant or even sympathetic towards this situation because of the harms caused by smoking… but how will they react when companies start to discriminate obese people, for instance? How will you react, Mr Spidla?

The importance of being Israel

"The State of Israel has been the accusation attorney, the defence attorney, the judge and the executioner of Palestinian extremists and activists. And it never fails! Israel says someone is a terrorist and that’s enough!"
António Vilarigues, in Público

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Holidays' Postcards

I spent this weekend in one of the most beautiful regions in Portugal: the Alto Douro Wine Region. From my Alijó’s base, I had the opportunity to visit some parts of this region in which wine has been produced by traditional landholders for some 2,000 years. Since the 18th century, its main product, port wine, has been world famous for its quality. This long tradition of viticulture has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and economic evolution. In 2001, the region was designated by UNESCO as World Heritage. Apart from the landscape, I enjoyed the blue sky and the sun, the shade and the fresh waters of the swimming-pool and a beautiful, clever, funny, nice and sensitive company… Now that holidays are almost over, I have to say that these days, and especially this weekend, were one of the best I have ever had! Thanks A!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Turning water into blood

I read in the news that, after all, “only” 28 people were killed in Qana… For many political analysts this seems to make a big difference; for me, it doesn’t: even if only one innocent civilian had been killed, I would find it outrageous. Israel keeps insisting that if they knew that the building was inhabited, they wouldn’t have bombed it. I would like to believe it, but the fact that, already today, a new air strike near Lebanon’s border with Syria has killed at least 28 farmer workers more, and 5 other people also died when Israeli planes bombed bridges in mainly Christian areas north of Beirut, doesn’t favour Israeli credibility. Many people try to convince me that it is naïf and even foolish to pledge for a war without casualties; I know that. That’s why I keep pledging for the end of the war, of all wars… Call me naïf, call me fool, if you want; I will keep calling you murderers!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Israel's never ending war

"The reaction to the aggressions brought back the worst days of the previous intervention on Lebanon, interrupted the process of re-establishment of its autonomy after the “Beirut Spring” forced the Syrians to step back, and offered a new political legitimacy to the theocratic fanatics of the Hezbollah amongst the Arabs in general, opportunity which is also being seized by the Iranian ayatollahs and the Al-Qaeda. Worse, both from the humanitarian and the political points of view, would have been difficult."
Augusto M. Seabra, in Público

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

So tell me, what's become of my ship?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sad Song for the Middle East

From tyranny to tyranny to war
From dynasty to dynasty to hate
From villainy to villainy to death
From policy to policy to grave...

The Look of Love

The look of love is in your eyes
A look your smile can't disguise
The look of love is saying so much more than just words could ever say
And what my heart has heard, well it takes my breath away

I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you, now that I have found you

You've got the
Look of love, it's on your face
A look that time can't erase
Be mine tonight, let this be just the start of so many nights like this
Let's take a lover's vow and then seal it with a kiss

I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you, now that I have found you
Don't ever go
Don't ever go

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Yesterday, I read in the news that Israel would suspend the air strikes for a period of 48 hours in order to investigate the Qana slaughter. This morning, I read that Israeli forces push deeper into southern Lebanon and step up the ground offensive. Either Israel plans to use its army to investigate last Sunday events or the ceasefire hopes are fading once again…