Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Short-term ambitions 2017

I learned so much from living in Lisbon. Although I worked, studied and lived almost in the same way I do at home, society around me was different and I changed too.

For the short-term I have the following ambitions:
- No alcohol for a month (the wine was way to cheap and a new lifestyle does not have to include alcohol every day).
- No meat for a month (but the Portuguese sausages are the best and this ambition will be broken if I can get any more, but again, a new lifestyle does not have to include meat everyday).
- The daily walk is to be made rapidly and not just stroll trough the streets.
- Keep the portion sizes we have learned. Normal eating causes weight loss without effort and must really be kept up.
- Complete buy ban until June (unless I get a new job) for everything except food and hygiene (and possible books for school if I have to). There is really nothing I need.
- Get a new job of the new management is continuing to be like "this" - but do not get a job where they throw lots of money on you, force a car on you, demand to sign on for years and change life style (and look like a nice-office-lady) just for a job. (It was a nice interview with a man fifteen years my junior (I am not ageist, but he does not know what I do) and for a company with a nice philosophy regarding work and for a project that would really suit me and where I make a difference, although I would have to be the henchman, the hard worker, the front-runner and have no respite for four years - and I am to old to be tempted by a bonus.)
(To be honest, it was the mandatory car that turned me off completely. "On this level it is mandatory." "Do you pay for parking?" "Yes, at the office." So where would I park the stupid thing if I would drive it every day? Not at home, that is for sure. It is difficult to park a bicycle where I live!! There is lots of space, but also a large canal - should I park the car in there perhaps?
Nah... I'll go through the recruitment process, it is always educational, but I know I will not take the job, not for any money. THAT is what FI - financial independence - does to your career. Life becomes too important.)
- After a month, almost 24h/day with the man, it is clear that is how I want to live my life. He can be within arms length distance all the time if I get to choose. It is "good for us" to be apart (like spinach) but it really isn't necessary (although I like spinach). I like the man and I want him around all the time. (Working more would only ruin this ambition.)

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Shoe brush

Sometimes, even I get scared. I am almost too /epithet/ organized for social adaptability.

I wore the same pair of boots every day for our month in Lisbon. They are comfortable and most importantly stable enough to walk on cobble stones, uneven stairs and steep roads every day (not mentioning climbing on walls and stones).  They are also solidly black and does not draw any attention to themselves. They go with everything and they go everywhere. (I did bring another pair of shoes, primarily for warmer weather, but it was almost never that warm.)

When I came back, I took out my trusted shoe brush. I think it was a present from my aunt about when I moved away from home (so thirty years ago or so).
I still have it and that is possibly a clear indication of how often and how hard I brush my shoes.
Not very - none of them.
But I have it and I do it.
It is very occasionally used with black shoe polish but mostly just as a shoe brush. (All my shoes are black anyway, that is just the way my taste in shoes run, so I only need one brush.)

I released the shoe laces, opened them up, took out the soles (loose soles in shoes is one of the easiest quality signs) and brushed them inside with my hand. Holding them with my hand inside, the brush did its job. The picture shows one boot brushed and finished, and one boot just off the foot.
They then went into the closet to rest for some time

I am happy I did not throw all shoes that I do not use because they do not currently fit in my lifestyle. 
Unexpected, I have to go in for an interview at a fancy company Monday and I have spent the afternoon steaming the old jacket and ironing the old office trousers and polishing one pair of the almost unused nice-lady office shoes I have in storage. I will look very fancy and not a eurocent spent.
Bring it on!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Words

This is one of the most important texts I have read in a long time. It have moved me and I have returned to it several times. I share it with you to think about. If you can, make words.

"What is the point of words? 

Can we still trust words to participate in the world? Perhaps the biggest drama of contemporary societies is the feeling of helplessness that took over civil society. The everyday life offers us too many examples of the lack of will or the instability of power to listen to their citizens. We know our elected representatives, even when seriously engaged in the mission of representing their constituents, are confronted with rules of a governing system where there are many decision-making processes and even institutions that are completely disconnected from the democratic values.

Journalism is too vulnerable to economic interests and has become a shadow of the fourth power that, with deontology, is a powerful advocate for citizenship. The voices of the alternative and of civil outrage are, in many countries, swollen and blatantly manipulated by populist leaders, who prey on dissatisfaction and fear that they help to exacerbate. We live in societies where the word is silenced, adulterated or multiplied until its meaning is exhausted. True civic debate depends on little oases to continue to exist.

Perhaps the survival of citizenship depends, partially, on choosing to inhabit and to help build the places where the word still maintains some of its transformative power. Theatres are places like that. A public and national theatre like D. Maria II (in Lisbon, Portugal), with a history and a mission so strongly dependent upon the importance of the word, plays and an importance of the word, plays an important role in the making of critical thought and a capital of collective hope.

In the first few months of this year /January-March 2017/ D. Maria II programme is particularly "wordy". It's customary that this term is pejorative, but here we believe in a "wordy" world. We present performances from plays that are monuments of the word, major works of Portuguese drama, new texts or plays that talk about the transformative power of writing. We continue to spread the new poetry and present a series of performances based on the body of work of Portuguese poets. We reveal the pleasure of reading to kindergarten children and we take portable shows to high schools. We publish new plays, reissue authors and translate texts into Portuguese. We train new authors in writing labs and dramaturgy seminars. With these and many other works that you may find out about (in this programme), we reassert our trust in the word of the artists as a way to participate in the world.
So that confronted with world none of us is speechless."
Tiago Rodrigues, Director artistico.

Editorial in the programme of "Palavras para quê?", English version.

Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Lisbon, Portugal

Friday, 10 March 2017

Back

We have left lovely Lisbon and are back - experiencing a massive reversed culture chock.
There have been quite a few lessons learned (and many stories that can be told at a late date).

- I am not a warm weather person and anything over 25°C is too hot. Bathing clothes are not necessary and loose long sleeved clothing is the best in warm weather.
- The Portuguese are very friendly, very honest and the Dutch are still the rudest people in Europe.
- Fresh fish (also frozen fresh) is delicious. Just add lemon, salt and olive oil and nothing more is needed. No sauce, no mayonnaise, no gravy, no additives, nothing more than the pure fish.
- 100 ml washing liquid is enough for four loads of laundry if the clothes are clean before and will be cleaned after. A very interesting lesson in how concentrated washing liquid actually is and how clean the clothes we clean, actually are.
- Remember whose toothbrush is whose so that you don't have to share toothbrush the first night at home (because you threw the old ones before returning home and) because both claim the good tooth brush was theirs. Salomon's decision to share did not change the claim of either.
- Climbing steep hills and long stairs (Lisbon is very hilly) is not a problem if taken slowly. Whoever breaks a sweat is the looser.  After a month, the hills and stairs are still very steep.
- Clean and potable water with a slight taste is easily, cheaply and healthily improved with a few drops of concentrated lemon juice. Much better than buying water.
- We have learned to dry outside on a line thirty meter over the street. A little scary hanging out the window but rewarded by the laundry being dry in a few hours, sometimes only one. We are for sure using our outside lines much more often after this.

I bought a bag, a necklace, a book and some postcards, totally €45. I ate the rest of my money but spent very little beyond that out of my fun-money).
Together, for two, we spent in total €2438,93 including food, rent, flights and loads of museums but excluding tuition for the man (that was paid out of his fun-money). I paid most of it and it will be deducted from rent.
This is of course a lot of money for two but the experience was well worth paying for.
Well worth all the not-going out for dinner, coffee and the spending we have not done all the other months of the year.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

FI33,39

February is a short month and always runs away with me. March is here and it is time to count my assets and my financial independence number.
(The European Stock markets collectively just got incredible happy so the numbers are a bit inflated.)

I count my assets once a month on the first day of each month. I do not include pension systems that I have no control over and I do not include the value of my apartment as I always will have to live somewhere (a fixed abode is very important for my well-being but it does not have to be neither large or grand).

Today I felt cranky with the new administrative system at work so I counted my assets during work hours. I felt very much better afterwards.

Dividing my financial assets with an annual budget that I have lived with for years and that is, although frugal, not extreme in any way, I got a financial independence number of 33,39.
This means that based on my current assets, and hoping future price increases will be covered by future dividends and interest, I can live for 33, 39 years without further income. I have 17 years until some sort of national income will be paid out and about 40-45 years left on my life expectancy.
I have a SWR over 4%. (If you do not know what SWR is, google it and start learning about cumulative interest rates).

I am a little shell-shocked. I have never had such a high FI number before.
Normally I do not count SWR but it is a number that floats around on the webb and it is conservatively an estimate on how much you can take out of your assets every year without decreasing the capital. It is a safe number and I am beyond it.
I am actually quite shocked.

We are living the life right now, paying three rents and eating out and enjoying ourselves and although I still work, we are spending more money than in a normal month and it is worth it so gain experiences, memories and knowledge. With the this months exaggerated budget, I could stay afloat for 16,78 years.

I will not feel cranky about the new administrative system any longer. If I can't figure it out, they can fire me /HA!/ and although that would be sad, it is not a financial problem.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Carnevalao


We joined the carnival in our local neighbourhood today. Probably mostly for the children but with smiles and a little dancing, we went in the parade with the grandparents, got covered in confetti and streamers and were completely incorporated.
I laughed for hours. At the gorilla, the clown mother, the three year old granny with a cane and a pacifier, the LEGO children and all the other wonderful people within and without costumes.


Afterwards, we rested with a glasses of port wine at our local cafe, being called darlings and sharing thoughts about the weather. We may not speak the language very well, but with kindness and a proper display of happiness, we fit right in. I love the Portuguese.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Good life

We are living the good life out of Lisbon at the moment.
Even the good life has better days than others and let me tell about Wednesday.

The alarm woke us up at seven. I made coffee and opened my computer to start work. In pyjama, slippers and fleece jacket. The man drank his coffee in bed but came up around eight for a shower. He sat down across from me and opened his computer. He sorted out a technical problem for a client and while waiting for uploads, rehearsed Portuguese verbs and vocabulary. I had a short phone meeting with a client and then took a pause for a shower and to dress. The man made us our breakfast porridge which we ate while still working. At half eleven the man packed up and went to his Portuguese course. I go on working while drying me hair, doing dishes, taking out sardines from the freezer for lunch, drinking coffee, eating a light snack in short breaks. And buzzing in the postman in the staircase when he rang the doorbell.
About half three the man came back, and opened his computer for some work. He started cooking lunch and did his homework. At three, I was finished and logged out of my virtual office. We ate lunch and packed up our study books to go out.
We strolled through the narrow streets of our neighbourhood, aiming for a favourite square. Instead we found a private garden open to the public with a wonderful view.
We sat there reading, admiring the view, talking to each other and looking at people until six when the garden closed. Strolling through the streets looking for a place with a view to have a drink, we went to a cheese and wine bar. We were the only guests, sat at the only table on the street and had wine of the week and three cheeses. It was divine.


When the sun had come down, we slowly walked down the hill and then up the hill to our apartment, and cooked dinner.
I logged on to my virtual classroom for my masters studies, wrote some comments based on the days reading, added to the paper in production, proofread yesterday's notes, and had the dinner the man prepared with a glass of wine.

Afterwards, I was rehearsing Portuguese vocabulary with him. I also prepared my reading for the next day, logged onto work email to see if anything was urgent, logged onto study account to read comments from other course participants, did dishes, brushed teeth and went to bed before ten. The upstairs bedroom was colder than expected because that day we had forgotten to close the window shutters at sunset.
Wi-fi in our apartment does not reach my side of the bed so I read a book before falling asleep.

I work my regular hours but get out early in the afternoon because of the time difference to my colleagues. The man is between projects and only does maintenance for his clients. Tomorrow I will have a day off and tour the town and museums on my own while the man is in school and does his afternoon run. We'll met at home for dinner and then possibly go for an evening stroll. We do not need much more than this.