Friday, December 29, 2006

Auld Lang Syne

The song "Auld Lang Syne," playing on the iPod, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An ancient Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "Old Long Ago" in Scottish dialect. It's a song about love and friendship in times past. The verse 'We'll take a Cup of Kindness yet' relates to a drink shared by men and women to symbolise friendship.

A Very

Happy New Year

to You !!!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas presents

It's the same every year: my mother says she'll stick to one present per person and then she ends up giving everyone at least three presents. Next year I'll have to catch up...
Hubby made my wish for a proper camera come true and now I'm the proud owner of a slick Sony Cybershot DSC-W100, which I'll always carry around in case I get inspired on my way to the grocer's...
The kids got a huge amount of presents, mostly books and games; we're still a "Nintendo-Playstation-X-Box-Gameboy" free family...
Best present of all: being with the family during Christmas. Even though things didn't turn out the way we had hoped for, it was still wonderful.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Winter has arrived

Winter arrived in full force during the night and this morning everything was frozen and white outside. When I drove Ana to school it was a chilling -3º C. The icy fog that's predicted to hang around for the next couple of days might just put a damper on our travel plans this Friday. Lots of cancelled and delayed flights in and out of England today. Everything looks so beautiful and Christmasy, though... The trees look like they are covered in icing sugar!
I'll probably blog very little if at all until after Christmas.

Frozen spider webs near the garden shed.

View from the girls' bedroom window this morning.

Icicle on a drain pipe.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time Magazine's Person of the Year is...

...YOU (and me)!

We won this because we make up a community that collaborates on a scale never seen before, a community where all our contributions matter and make us matter.
We won this because we've put together the cosmic compendium of knowledge that is Wikipedia, the million-channel people's network that is YouTube, the gigantic online metropolis that is MySpace , the colossal photo album that is Flickr and the blogosphere.
We won this because there's millions of us and we are taking away power from the few and helping one another for nothing.
We won this because not only are we are changing the world, we are also changing the way the world changes.
PS - As somebody on the BBC Forum said, "This is going to look great on my CV!"

Lost in translation - 1

Notice in Swiss Hotel - We have nice bath and are very good in bed.
In Czechoslovakia - Take one of our horse-driven city tours. We garantee no miscarriages.
In Thailand (offering donkey rides) - Would you like to ride on your own ass?
In Bucharest, Romania - The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
In hotel cloakroom in Berlin, Germany - Please hang yourself here.
In Italian hotel -If service is required, give two strokes to the maid and three to the waiter.
In Las Palmas - If you telephone for room service you will get the answer you deserve.
In Seoul - Measles not included in room charge.
In Austria - Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
In Athens - Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. daily.
In Japan - Depositing the room key into another person is prohibited.
In Torremolinos - We highly recommend the hotel tart.
In London, UK - All fire extinguishers must be examined at least five days before any fire.
In Nairobi, Kenya - Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.
In Japan -You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.
In Ankara - You are invite to visit our restaurant where you can eat the Middle East Foods in a European ambulance.
In Tokyo - In case of earthquake, use the torch to pass yourself out.
In Acapulco - The Manager has personally passed all the water served here.
In Madrid - If you wish disinfection enacted in your presence, cry out for the chambermaid.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

'Zat you, Santa Claus?

Louis Armstrong's voice warms any cold winter night. Just listen to 'Zat you, Santa Claus?, now playing on the iPod...

Country walk

Making the most of the rare winter sunshine. Went out for a walk, back to the place where we had our anniversary lunch a couple of days back. Ye Olde Swan is a really nice pub with a cozy atmosphere and great food. You just feel like lingering in there for a whole afternoon, amidst the smell and warmth of the fireplace, the old beams and walls decorated with tasteful Christmas motifs, the inspiring views out of the wood paned windows.
The nearby church is St. Mary's. It dates back from the 13th century and it is lovely, as most of the churches in rural Buckinghamshire are.
Back home, Clara and I baked a cake for tea (as compensation for Ana being out having fun at a friend's party).
It was a nice and cozy winter Saturday.

Friday, December 15, 2006

News overload

These last few days have been dizzying in terms of News. Not only is there a cunning mass murderer at large who's killed at least five women in a very short period of time but also:
1. An investigation into big time fraud in arms dealing with Saudi Arabia has been dropped in full swing in the name of "national interests and national security"(!). I don't doubt for a second that this type of reasoning goes on all the time at institutional and corporate level but this time somebody really screwed up their job in public and media relations... As we all know, glasnost will only ever be theoretical.
2. For the first time ever in the UK, a standing PM is interviewed by the police. This happened in the course of the "cash for honours" investigation. Never mind the fact that Tony Blair was interviewed informally and possibly as a mere witness: the harm to his image is done.
3. The year 2006 has been confirmed as the hottest one on record since records began in 1856; season patterns are changing and global warming is upon us with unpredictable consequences. By 2040 there will be no ice in the Artic during summer and the North Pole will be open sea...
4. Diana's death has, once again, been attributed exclusively to drunk driving and the fact that she wasn't wearing a seat belt; it has also been re-re-confirmed that she wasn't pregnant. None of this will put an end to the conspiracy theories, of course.
5. The Sussex Strangler case once again brings into the light of day the fact that many middle class, well bred girls fall into prostitution as a result of drug addiction. Most of the time their families don't even dream about what's going on. I can't begin to imagine what some of those families are going through as this horrible story unfolds.

Clara and Ana

Swimming achievements

Thursday, December 14, 2006


made by Ana


Fifteen years ago

Fifteen years ago today, Hubby and I got married in this beautiful setting. I believe it was the first and only civil wedding ceremony on my side of the family, having my grandmother's attempts to lure my future husband out of atheism been a complete failure.
We had 40 guests in total, just family and friends. There was rain in the morning (they say it brings luck) and crisp winter sunshine for the rest of the day. The sea looked beautiful.
No photographer was hired.
I didn't wear a conventional wedding dress and my shoes were absolutely hideous; this, however, was largely compensated and even eclipsed by the beauty of my bouquet of roses and the lace work on the top of my attire.
The Superintendent Registrar who performed the ceremony was a full hour late and Christmas music could be heard in the background.
Nearly at 3 PM lunch was served and it was just simply refined and delicious.
As for the Wedding Cake, no one had ever or has ever since tasted such an exquisite one.
There was a lot of magic, a lot of happiness and a lot of hope all around.
A very fond memory.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The latest tech scare

After microwaves and mobiles, wi-fi is the newest tech-scare.


This is what Lisbon looks like when I'm not on pic

I'm back...

... but look who was caught flying around!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Google doodles - Edvard Munch's Birthday

Google has produced some great commemorative doodles in the past (see this one), but today's is truly fabulous. Marking Edvard Munch's birthday, it is based on his most famous painting, The Scream.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Random thoughts

Sometimes holding on to sanity requires all concentration. It's general shutdown except for basic life support.

(it's worth clicking on the photo)

HDR photo by Terry Lee

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Today's recommendation

To read Antonio Guterres's comment article in The Observer on the urgent need to meaningfully help Darfur's refugees.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Country snapshots

While Clara and Ana were at a Christmas party after lunch, I went for a brisk walk. The weather was radiant and we get very little sunlight these days. It was freezing, though! Brrrrrrr!

Nintendo Wii

I'm sooooo glad no one in this house wants a Nintendo Wii... The world is going crazy!
This is a gameboy/nintendo/playstation/x-box free-zone!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Late night musings

I wonder for how long these web pages will exist and be here for anyone to look at...
Is this my shot at immortality and immortalizing whomever matters to me?
Is a digital impression a long-lasting, genuine footprint or merely an ephemeral fabrication?

Old family photos

I've only just found these pictures on a photo CD Dad sent me a while back! I'm such a slouch!!!
The research bit (dates, places and stories) that should go with each of them is still missing but my delight at the find was such that I couldn't help but post them right away.

My paternal grandparents Olimpia and João on their wedding day (May 1st 1932)

My paternal grandmother Olimpia.

My maternal grandmother Felicidade (on the right), her sister Maria José (on the left) and my maternal grandfather Carlos.
This is the picture of Happiness...

Health research fact box

Every day nearly 3,000 children die of malaria, 5,500 people die of tuberculosis and 8,000 die of AIDS. Reducing these global pandemics is Goal six of the Millennium Development Goals set by the world's governments in 2000. Goal one is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

90% of the money spent on global health research is targeted at problems affecting only the richest 10% of the world's population.

Between 1975 and 2000 only 13 new drugs were developed for neglected tropical diseases.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, set up by the IT entrepreneur, has had a dramatic impact on neglected disease research. Its annual budget is more than one billion dollars, with 58% going to its Global Health initiative.

India, China and Brazil are home to rapidly expanding medical research industries which are using biotechnology to develop new and cheaper medicines and vaccines for the south. However, there are fears that as they develop they will switch focus to more lucrative global markets.

Only 1% of the international pharmaceutical industry's budget is devoted to new drugs for Africa.


Initial enthusiasm with the possibility of creating new medicines and food crops through genomics, aimed at relieving world hunger and disease, is giving way to a growing sense of dismay: progress has been slow and, as so often in the past, science alone won't stand a chance of changing anything.
It's crucial to change the way institutions work (governments, development agencies, international laws and regulations) and to let the people who are most going to apply and benefit from new genomics technology - people in the developing countries - have a bigger say in the whole process.
This is one of the most important issues of present time, in my personal view.
Recommended read: Genomics for Development?

X-mas tunes

And now it's my favourite's turn on the iPod: Fairytale of New York by the Pogues.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A tornado in London!

Me and tornados... How they haunted me in Ohio! Will they start haunting me here as well?!
Outside the weather is turning all colours and the wind is howling. Right now it's dark grayish green and there are leaves madly twirling in the air. I'm glad I'm picking the girls up from school soon. Of course (and if you know me, you've guessed it) I've already set up a tornado shelter. As there is no basement, we'll all have to squeeze into the larder. I've also gone through the basic proceedures kids are routinely taught in the USA with Ana and Clara.
As someone very wisely once wrote on a wall, "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you" ...
Read the latest developments here.

Please, do come in!

Click poster to visit my Flickr Christmas set

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


W e L L D O N E

After swimming 2000 meters (2 Km !!!) in personal record time during yesterday's practice, running Lord-knows-how-many-miles in a regional cross country competition today and achieving one of the best results in the UK at maths in last year's national assessment tests, my eldest daughter is cooking us dinner tomorrow. What's on the menu is whatever her Food Technology (!!) teacher at school comes up with as her cooking task during tomorrow's class. Last week she brought home a delicious chicken salad with new potatoes, sweetcorn, peas, tomato, parsley and low-fat mayonnaise which even Clara enjoyed.