Wednesday, December 23, 2009


What better way to get a taste of Norwegian style Christmas than with pepperkaker? Pepperkaker are ginger biscuits and are a tradition in Norway at this time of the year. I got really curious with this recipe and I found a delicious one at this blog (a special thanks to L-Jay and Moose for giving us a taste of Norwegian life-style). The result was absolutely delicious. Pepperkaker with a nice cup of hot tea are the best for a cold winter night. I really enjoyed this recipe. Glad Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Office decorations

A certain someone I work with has a girlfriend that works in one of the Portuguese ministries. According to his girlfriend, after the elections, when the new minister arrived, the first thing she did was to change the office decoration and also bought a Persian carpet with money from the ministry fund targeted at an institution responsible for fighting cancer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A matter of credibility

Yesterday at Work
Boss: Thanks to our new contract with company A, we are going to save much more money.
Me: That’s great. Aren’t we going to ask company B for new prices to check if we can save even more?
Boss: No.
Me: Why not?
Boss: Because that would make us lose our credibility.
Me: ?!

Today at work:
Boss: I asked company B for new prices, and now we are going to save even more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Visiting Porto

I traveled to Porto, to go and speak with Eli S., adviser of the EURES network in Norway. I went to Porto by bus, departing at 9:00 a.m. (from Lisbon) and arrived three and a half hours later. I have heard of the hospitality of the people from Porto and today I got the chance to experience it myself. As soon as i left the bus station, I started asking directions to the place where i would find Eli, and not only I got the help I wanted from a nice man working at a traditional grocery shop, as he also offered me a lift to the place if I had the patience of waiting an extra hour and a half. As I was in a hurry, I thanked him and got on my way to meet Eli. I spoke to her about the Norwegian job market, and she explained to me how to write my CV and what Norwegian companies I should contact during my job search. After I left the place, I had three hours left until the trip back to Lisbon, so I decided to take a walk and explore Porto.

The city is really nice (very different from Lisbon). There are some degraded areas, but that also gives a certain ancient look to the city. There are a lot of churches and landmarks to visit. You can actually cross the Douro river on foot, and take a nice walk on the neighbor city, Gaia. It is also possible to watch, in the river, the traditional boats that carry the kegs with the true and original Port Wine. Also, if you ever get the chance of visiting the city, don’t forget to eat one of the traditional dishes called “Francesinha”.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to solve a crisis... the portuguese way

I just watched this debate about the status quo of the portuguese society, where a few experts, plus an ex-minister of the economy, talked about what should have been done, and what can be done, to slow down our economic debt. According to them, there was a street inquiry where people got asked about what was the prime factor to succeed in life. Among things such as good healthcare or education, the majority said the number one thing to succeed in life is.... LUCK. That's right, luck. Don't bother making your own luck, dont bother studying or working, in portugal, you will see that playing in the lottery is the most wise course of action to have a good life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Walking in the city

Today a friend invited me to participate in something called “Halloween scavenger hunt”. Halloween is not a Portuguese tradition, although there is a religious holiday called “All Saints' Day” on the first of November. In some villages there is the tradition of children going from door to door saying “Pão-por-Deus” or “Bread by God”. They usually knock at the door and say:

"Pão por Deus,
Fiel de Deus,
Bolinho no saco,
Andai com Deus."

“Bread by God,
Faithful of God,
Cookie in the bag,
Go with God.”

As I and his girlfriend were the only people to show up, we decided to have a nice chat together with a hot cup of coffee. We ended up taking a walk in the streets of Lisbon, watching the night lights. The city lights in Lisbon are a truly spectacular sight. Also, the city has acquired the nice habit of putting Christmas lights in streets of down town Lisbon. At this time the lights are still being assembled, but each year offers a different light show, providing the Christmas spirit that the city deserves.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The metro

Riding the metro in Lisbon has huge advantages. Apart from some annoying technical problems, the metro in Lisbon is a very nice means of transportation, and from my point of view, far better than the bus. The metro network extends over a wide area of Lisbon, and is constantly growing. One of the nicest things about each new station is that they are built like a work of art, and it is difficult to find new stations that are alike others previously built.

There are however some peculiar behaviors of Portuguese passengers:

- You will often see people laughing while running to catch the metro as the doors close down. Even if they are caught between closing doors, they will laugh about it.

- An increasing number of Portuguese metro passengers live under the assumption that if they block the carriage doors and prevent other people from coming out, they will be able to enter the train. This is also the cause of what I like to call “The bulldozer effect”, which is the same as to say that some passengers get out of carriage without any regard for other people in front of them, and open their way by crashing into them.

- No matter how full a carriage may get, there are a few select people that strongly believe they can get in anyway.

- There are always people begging for money. Some of them i have watched collecting money for seven years, and it is practically their way of life now.

Portuguese people are rather open to other people, so if you are a tourist and need help on the metro, look for a young person (a low percentage of elderly people speak English, but you are welcome to try) and it is very likely that he/she will help a friendly tourist.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Portuguese sense of morality

ZON Multimedia, a big Multimedia and Telecommunications company here in Portugal, officially entered the Angolan market. So far so good. To do it, they hired the daughter of the Angolan president/dictator/son of a bitc*, José Eduardo dos Santos, one of the most corrupt men alive. Angola is a country of contrasts, you have some of the world most expensive houses there. It is also a place where you'll find people in great misery, without food or water. And this portuguese company cooperates with these corrupt leaders that feed on their people's ignorance to make a life of luxury.


I saw underpants evaluated in 300000€ (2588674.50 NOK) just because an artist had drawn a dollar sign on them.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Food safety first, Humans second!

I have not posted in a while because i've had a lot of work lately, but this i could not let escape the eyes of whoever is out there wanting to know the other side of portuguese society.
There's a government agency here called "ASAE" which is suposed to be responsible for the economic and food safety. Today they shut down a mess room that served meals to the homeless because they found some dead cocroaches on the kitchen's floor. Way to go Portugal!
Moreover.. a little bird told me that the person who is directing this agency usually has luch in a luxury restaurant somewhere in Lisbon.. some sense of perspective hey?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Status quo

Synes at etterspørselen etter ingeniører i Norge er synkende, hovedsakelig på grunn av økonomisk krise. Manglende 6 måneder før jeg kan reise til Norge. Jeg håper ting blir bedre. Jeg har enorm respekt for det norske folk, og ønsker ikke å være mer en innvandrer som vil ta jobben til en norsk, så bare skal gå der hvis de trenger min kunnskap og erfaring. Jeg likte å gå til Bergens-området, virker som en god by. Jeg håper ting bedre i de kommende månedene.

Inauguration extravaganza

It's almost time for elections, and with elections come inaugurations so that the short memory of the masses does not forget political party X when the time comes. Portuguese political parties seem to follow this pattern very often. But in Portugal inaugurations are really hard work. Casting agencies are appointed to choose the people (children included) who are going to appear on TV together with the respective minister. Helmets must be provided for false engineers and sometimes, a truck full of mining ore must be sent to deploy ore on the ground to appear on the background newspaper picture of minister X, to prove that mine Y is “actually working”.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sweden has balls

A Swedish newspaper reported that Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians to go to steal and sell their organs. I have no memory of any country having the courage to denounce such crimes against humanity. Furthermore, Sweden has had some politicians that have spoken on behalf of peace and denounce these situations, as was the case of Anna Lindh (Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs who was murdered, perhaps for speaking out against Israel).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Random and interesting stuff

Just saw a documentary about some Spanish researchers who were trying to measure the pollution level around a factory. They collect moss samples and analyze them, because moss absorbs a lot of pollution and heavy metals. The amazing part was to see moss being attracted by a magnet due to the high concentrations of heavy metals. Of course, iron must be the responsible for the amazing effect, due to its high magnetic permeability.
Another interesting thing was to see that there is a parking lot in Spain which is using a vertical garden on the extraction ventilation of a parking lot to absorb part of the pollution (something like this). The plants absorb CO2 and the bacteria absorb some of the chemicals on the fumes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Portuguese Newspeak

The portuguese government likes to change the meaning of words frequently. I provide you with three examples so that you can keep up with the changes:

Error or mistake - Small incorrection
Janitor - Operational assistant
Undertaker - Graveyard operator

Elephant painting

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Young norwegian engineers

Fear sells

Reporters say almost everyday that yet another person was infected with the pig flu virus. However, they don't speak a lot about the people who get cured..

I guess what applies to weapons manufacturers, also applies for pharmaceutical companies:

If people don't die, they can't sell bullets.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

5 Ways Your Boss Stops Time

"Time might heal all wounds, but it certainly doesn't solve all business problems. In the working world, most of us are at the mercy of the clock: punching in, lunch hours, time cards and so on. Early in our careers we are trained to be as efficient as possible, cramming our hours to be multi-tasked to the max. One lesson seldom taught in the power of inefficiency. I've already talked about how the 'experts' waste time at work. Today we're going to look at clock stoppers. These are bosses who know how to get your projects stuck in quicksand, and in the process, stop you in your tracks - or at least slow you down to a tortoise's crawl.

Here's how they do it...

DROWNING IN PAPERWORK. Paper has power. It can make things move forward or grind them to a halt. Usually, the more of it there is, the longer the delay. Any boss worth his/her salt knows the best way to get an employee off their back is to ask them to produce more paper. It could be a memo that gets rewritten to death or a request to provide backing documentation for every move you wish to make. This busy work will keep you at bay, spinning your wheels for days...weeks...months...

WARNING SIGNS. Your desk is filled with folders and binders. Yet, when it's time for your annual review, you realize you've accomplished nothing.

UNAPPROACHABLE. Looking busy at work is an art form. If your boss wants to get you off his/her back he'll make himself scarce. And when you do see him, he'll be harried as hell. You'll begin to doubt yourself and worry that you will be bothering him with your needs. He clearly has bigger fish to fry, right? In lieu of being the "busy" boss, your fearless leader might take the "dick" approach. This is where he makes you feel stupid and/or small when you ask him something.

WARNING SIGNS. You make excuses to avoid asking your boss anything."

Read the rest here.

Art with sand


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Interesting philosophy


Politics explained


Bacalhau à Brás

- Codfish (up to 500g) without any scales or bones;
- 2 onions; 
- Olive oil; 
- Garlic (optional); 
- 4 eggs; 
- Salt; 
- Pepper; 
- Straw potatoes; 
- Olives (optional). 

Start by mixing the olive oil in a pan with the onions and garlic. Separately boil the codfish and cut it in very thin slices, usually this can be done very easily with a fork. Join the codfish and the olive oil and onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Add the straw potatoes to the pan and mix everything. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the mixture of codfish and potatoes. Mix everything to soften the potatoes. Turn off the stove and leave the pan covered for about 5 minutes.
Also, you can use some olives and a good salad to eat with this dish.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Past experiences...

My last job was a very constructive experience. It contributed largely to my decision of one day emigrate to Norway. 
I worked for five years in a company X where i was responsible for providing the product to customers while working in a team of 10 elements. The day of the opening was memorable. On the inauguration day, there were still people in the building welding and laying cement on the floor. Work done at the last minute is typically portuguese. 
Over time, some elements of my team were fired or left the job by their own initiative. Unfortunatly the management skills of our boss were inexistent. Sometimes, he took money from the safe just because he felt like buying horses, others he did not felt like paying the suppliers, etc. The case went to the courts and the company was sold. Fortunately, many of us were hired by the new company, which was logical because experience is something to which is given much value. I remember that everyone was full of dreams and hopes, thinking that under new management things would improve, I was one of those people. 
Unfortunately, that was not the case. I saw everything: from managers smoking in the corridors during work hour; to the director, whom really liked chatting with his friends on MSN Messenger instead of actually managing the place. 
But the most memorable thing of all was our new team leader. This “man creature” presented himself to the team as an experienced and highly professional person, who had several years of experience in other companies. He really seemed like a nice person, an impression that lasted for half an hour. Here is a list of his wonderful and “productive” deeds:
- On the first day, he fired me and my colleagues a few dozen times; 
- Changed the location of the raw materials, putting them 20m farther away from the workplace just because it looked more beautiful to his eyes (despite the work now taking twice as long to complete because of the extra trips that had to be done); 
- 80% of his work hours were spent in front of the computer surfing the Internet and watching videos on youtube; 
- Arrived on the workplace usually 2 hours late and also got out earlier; 
- Took the day off whenever his car needed to replace a tire on his car (although he lived 20 minutes away from the company); 
- We discovered that he had been expelled from other companies where he used to work, and that in one of them, there was a party (with cake) when he left; 
- Despite having no training in mechanics or engineering, he disassemble parts from the machines on the pretext that they were not necessary. This action increased the rate of malfunctions on the equipment; 
- He accused me of being late to work in front of the director,although I am known to always arrive 10 minutes earlier to avoid any unexpected delays; 
- And the list goes on ... 
It is clear that his actions could not go unpunished, and so i spoke to the director and confronted him with the situation. As he refused to resolve it, I decided that there was no future in that place and resigned the job. I came to discover later on that the director and the “man creature” were friends. As such, and despite all this incompetence, they continue to "work" in the company. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Today at work..

A technician to another colleague: 
- Some countries do not use drinking water in toilets. 
- Yes, there are third world countries that already have implemented that system; 
- Portugal does not have it; 
- But Portugal is a country of the fourth world.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On the portuguese economic crisis

In Portugal, former presidents have the right to:

- A car with a chauffeur and gasoline;

- An office, a secretary, a phone and an assistant;

- Monetary help whenever they travel out of their area of residence;

- Private security 24h per day.

All this is paid by the state, which is a nice way to say it is paid by the portuguese people.

How to tick people off


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cartoon of the day

Although it is not the worst place in the world, this is how it feels live in Portugal.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This is living

Today in Lisbon

Some guy speaking to a friend on the phone:
- What are you doing? ... Studying for the exams? ... Why? There is no purpose in going to school!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s desease

Today I saw a fascinating documentary about Alzheimer's disease and decided to put what I learned here on the blog in case the information comes in handy for anyone.
It spoke of several ongoing researches and studies and how many of them are concentrated in the appearance of some structures in the brain called “Amyloid plaques”. However, the investigation of a doctor in particular caught my attention. Instead of coloring the tissues of the brain with common tye solutions in this type of analysis, he used another colorant that revealed the emergence of cells that are associated with the onset of an inflammation. Then he thought, is Alzheimer's disease not more than an inflammation? So he decided to contact some reimatologistas in search of records of patients with rheumatism and other problems associated with inflammations. He queried whether there was a correlation between arthritis and Alzheimer's disease. Surprisingly he could not find a record of a patient with arthritis who had developed Alzheimer's. Then he asked himself: would the anti-inflammatory drugs that patients take exert an influence on the disease? Unfortunately he has found difficulties in finding those who want to fund his research. He thinks that nobody is interested because anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, are cheap drugs and do not bring big profits for pharmaceuticals companies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Norwegian Vs. Portuguese society

I have high expectations for my future life in Norway. I read a lot and try to learn a little bit of the language in order to facilitate my integration in the Norwegian society.
A neighbor of mine recently told me she had already been to Norway and told me of a curious episode that happened to her. She told me she saw a bracelet in the street and asked why no one took it. They said that the person that had lost the bracelet would eventually return to the same site and find it there. Having heard this, i almost bet that this kind of attitude does not happen in Portugal very often. I think that a person in the same situation here would even be mocked by other friends if he/she would tell them they left the bracelet alone. It is almost like the birth of a culture of “every man for himself”. This may seem exaggerated, and not all people have this kind of behavior, but those who do, no matter how few, sometimes exercise a great negative influence on society.
I had a bizarre episode where in a dinner with friends I discussed with one of them the advantages of changing the Portuguese society into a more truthful one, and how we could achieve this goal by providing future generations with good examples. In this conversation, I was surprised by my friend’s answer when he tells me I should not think this way, and that to be a successful person I would have to use deception on others before others would use it on me.
Unlike this kind of attitude, I hear that in Norway the situation is exactly the opposite. People, despite their cold temperament, are more human to each other than people from other countries said "civilized". My Norwegian teacher used to tell me that people from her home town are so good and kind to each other it almost makes her cry. It must be a pleasure to live amongst such noble people.

In memoriam

Saturday, June 20, 2009


The "Santos" (literally means "Saints") are religious and very popular festivals that occur in Lisbon during the month of June. It's all about, sardines, alcohol and most important thing of all, spending a good time with your friends. The highlight of the festival is to walk at night in the historic districts of Lisbon with your friends and eat a grilled sardine with bread.

Clearly, as we are in Portugal, something that can not miss is an extreme lack of hygiene, people throw garbage on the floor and urinate on the walls. Anyway, it's a time well spent, specially if you're on vacation here in Portugal.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate cake - Sjokoladekake

- 120g of chocolate powder; 
- 4 eggs; 
- 2 tea cups of flour; 
- 2 tea-cups of sugar (brown sugar is better); 
- 1/2 tea-cup of olive oil; 
- 1 dessert spoon of baking soda; 
- 1 tea-cup to warm milk; 
- 1 package of cream (100 mL); 
- 150 to 200 grams of dark chocolate. 

Mix while adding the ingredients by the following order: first the chocolate powder, then the sugar, baking soda, the flour, beaten eggs, milk and olive oil. The mixture seems too liquid, but no problem, just put it in the oven and heat up to 180 degrees Celsius. Leave it there for 50 minutes tops.
Now it is time to prepare the covering of the cake. Heat the cream on a stove until it starts to boil. Immediately add the chocolate broken into small pieces. Blend the hot cream and chocolate until the chocolate melts, and cover the cake with it (obviously, wait until the cake is ready). For the perfect flavor, the cake has to be placed in the refrigerator and eaten cold.
Sometimes I add an extra layer in the middle of the cake, adding either nuts or almonds. In the photo I also invented a cream of white chocolate (using the same technique as previously done with dark chocolate).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quote of the day

"Some are born lucky, others... in Portugal."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

This movie is great. I liked it a lot. As the name suggests, it's about our home, earth. It puts things into perspective and it may help change some minds and behaviors that may endanger the future of our children.

Here is the link for the full movie on youtube:

You can check out the trailer here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salmon with cream and yogurt sauce

- 200mL of cream;
- 1 yogurt;
- lemon juice;
- salt (optional);
- 2 salmon flitches;
- Olive Oil;
- Milk.

- Green beans;
- 2 carrots;
- Olive oil;
- Koji sauce.

Season the salmon with salt and lemon. Put the salmon in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and cover it with milk. Leave it in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. While the salmon is in the oven you can prepare the sauce and the garnish. For the sauce, simply mix the yogurt with a 200mL package of cream. When the salmon is almost done, take it out of the oven, cover it with the yogurt and cream sauce and put it in the oven again for an extra 5 to 10 minutes. As for the garnish, grab a fry pan and mix in a little bit of olive oil with green beans and a carrot, both sliced into tiny pieces. For an extra touch you can add a little Koji Japanese sauce.

Bon Appétit.

Quote of the day

"In Portugal we have the best managers... that money can buy."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Base jumping in Norway

I can hardly wait...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teachers protest

Education and democracy

Today happened another teachers protest in Lisbon. Apparently the current minister of education has made some changes that are not pleasant from the teachers point of view. As an example, she instated that teachers shall only progress in their careers if, under some kind of evaluation system, they perform with a grade of “Excellent”. So far so good, the problem is there are quotas, meaning that even if the teachers of a given school all have “excellent” grades, only 5% will progress in their careers. So, the changes in career progression are currently seen by teachers as a measure to reduce costs and not to improve education.
I have personally seen one of these protests, the first one, with about 120 000 teachers protesting in the streets of Lisbon. It was the greatest exercise of democracy I have ever seen. Unfortunately the minister continues to refuse accepting the teachers point of view.
Statistics from protests held in Portugal are also another curious matter for the current Portuguese government. it seems that the “official” number of protesters is given by the real number of protesters divided by two. Also, if too many people come to protest, police squads are sent to the city perimeter to prevent more people of entering the city to protest. No doubt, this government has a distorted sense of democracy.
Now, who is this minister? Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, also known as “LULU”, has been a perfect example of how you should govern if you are living in a dictatorship. I remember that when she visited a school, students threw some eggs at her car, and a few weeks later she sent some men to interrogate the students (!). 
This video shows her in one of these school visits. You can see that some students are protesting and she answers back in a very immature tone:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sense of perspective

I work at this factory where i am (theoretically) a software engineer and also responsible for managing energy efficiency. Today, the boss was out, so i decided to go and help out some of the factory technicians. Mingling with other people in the work place is, what i have come to believe, a good thing in the sense that we gain each other's trust and most important thing of all, i like to show them that we are all equally important members in the factory. Portuguese hierarchy in the work place is something i do not appreciate, mostly because there are few factory managers who really care about discussing employee’s ideas on improving the work place, or any other work related subject.Helping out factory technicians is really nice, they show me how to fix a certain machine and latter on, we talk about solving the problem, as equals. They complained a lot about excessive bureaucracy which leads to inefficiency at work. This is not uncommon, because as i had explained to them, i already had said the same thing to the factory manager and had made some proposals on how to improve the work environment and reduce the use of paper, to which he laughed and answered that working without paper is science fiction.Many portuguese people hate bureaucracy, but when it comes to the real thing, few are those who actually want to make a change.

This may have two possible explanations: Either a portuguese ancestor accidentally ate a piece of paper, liked it (a lot), and it stayed somewhat engraved in his genetic code, passing on from generation to generation to present days, or, portuguese have a somewhat suspicious nature about one another and require some form of paper certificate to prove you are telling them the truth.Consequence: excessive documentation and a bunch of useless information nobody will ever use or be capable of process.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dolce Vita

Recently a new shopping mall opened in Amadora, near Lisbon. If you don't know already, a good percentage of portuguese people love shopping malls. Going to a shopping mall on a Sunday it's almost a national sport. Anyway, this shopping mall is supposed to be the biggest shopping mall in Portugal, with the most advanced security  systems and a "super police station". Unfortunately, Amadora is a problematic city due to the high crime rate. Apparently, a few days ago a large group of teenagers and young men decided to go "shopping" in the first opening days. They "shopped" for a wide screen plasma TV, brand clothes and also a cash register machine (probably someone who was thinking of starting their own business). They were stopped by no one. As usual, the police squad arrived late on the scene of the crime.

It is curious that a society allows these acts to go unpunished. So many people, poor or not, work honestly their way into life and others refuse to take an honest job and prefer stealing instead of working. These same people are financed by the government with large amounts of money, and are even given houses to live in, for free. Others have to spend at least 40 years working to pay the house loan to the bank.

Giving free housing to poor people is a noble act, but so it is the one of providing proper education and a sense of citizenship. Perhaps in this way more people living in some regions of Amadora could learn to prioritize their need for a plasma TV.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The beginning

Here it goes, my first post. 

As you might have guessed, i'm planning to go to Norway, i am just trying to work my way into getting enough money for my personal adventure.

Why Norway? Well, i think it is a great country to live in, the closest thing to a civilized and democratic country that exists. So, in the next months i will try to post some of my experiences in Portugal and talk about my expectations about Norway.

Ha det bra! (Have it well!)