A Terrace View Of Porto


I shocked a couple from Quebec last week.

On Thursday I was at Taylor’s Port Cellars in Gaia, waiting for the Cais de Fado performance by Patrícia Costa to begin in the garden. Taylor’s has a wonderful panoramic view of Porto from the terrace.

I saw a couple taking photos of each other there. At a distance I heard them talking in French, and when they passed by me, I offered to take their photo with the view of Porto as the backdrop. They happily took me up on the offer.

As I was taking the picture, I casually asked: “Are you from Quebec?”

Their jaws dropped and I turned around and pointed over my shoulder to the MEC logo on my backpack.


12th Blogiversary

Gail at Large's 12th blogiversary

To imagine in 2002 what this blog would look like in 2014 would be like looking into a crystal ball of the internet, something investors and probably most — if not the rest of us — would love to do. (If the blog were a human it would be a tween turning into an adolescent… shudder) Let’s look at how much the internet has changed according to Google:

Google Zeitgeist for 2002, by month. See the total number of websites and users by year throughout history.

Nickelback had the biggest hit of 2002 (more shudder), with “How You Remind Me” (let’s not!), according to the Billboard charts. How about films:

Top-US-Grossing Feature Films Released In 2002, according to IMDB:

  1. Spiderman
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  3. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Do you remember who played in the World Cup Final on June 30, 2002 in Japan? Brazil beat Germany, 2-0. It was tears of joy, back then, for Brazil. In case you’ve been living under a rock or have been totally unplugged in the Seychelles this month, World Cup 2014 is a year Brazil would rather forget. Forever.

The year I started writing in this blog, euro banknotes and coins were put into circulation.

I started this blog two years before Gmail was launched. The iTunes Music Store did not yet exist, either. Feeling old yet, blog?

If you talked about the cloud back in 2002, any rational person would just look up at the sky. Today, maybe just your grandma.

This blog predates Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace. In fact, it’s older than 13 of the 15 top social networking websites as of July 2014 according to eBizMBA – only Classmates (1995) and Meetup (June 2002) have been around longer. If I’d known back then what I know now about the internet, something I would’ve paid more attention to is Dead Links – links to nowhere! This blog is a big link graveyard. I should’ve pasted some excerpts instead, since The Wayback Machine doesn’t save everything. I also dearly wish I’d saved screenshots of the various incarnations of this website interface, or even just the mastheads, a la Dooce. Too late now.

Site statistics aren’t nearly as entertaining anymore now that Google hides keywords from organic search enquiries. Far fewer of these gems, aw. Or this and this. Too bad!

Speaking of statistics, I’ve updated my Excel file, which tells me I posted way more in February this year compared to last year, but that’s no surprise since the Turning 40 Series finale happened on February 5. I also did better in May this year (because last year I went to Portugal to obtain our marriage license).

Blog Stats 2014-07-28 at 4.17.27 PM

2014 also marks the end of an era: Orkut shut down, for good. (That page will probably disappear, too, so here’s the announcement on TechCrunch.) It’s been many years since I logged into Orkut, which is the reason why I wasn’t able to archive the posts and albums from David‘s account or mine. I met a LOT of people through Google’s first social network, not just David. Forum history that’s 10 years old is gone, sadly.

The internet is notorious for short shelf lives, quick expiry dates, trends, and fads. I’ve seen so many sites bite the dust and jump the shark, I can’t even begin to name all the big ones. Some major websites have been “repurposed” — Friendster is now a gaming platform — and serious money is being invested in smartphone and tablet apps. RIM (now Blackberry) is a shell of the company it once was in 2002, its worldwide market share eroded to only 1% in 2014 by Android, iPhone, Windows et al, according to Statistica.com.

It’s a whole different world than it was 12 years ago, even in the blogging world. I’ve web-watched bloggers (and photobloggers) marry, have kids, divorce, come out of the closet, get written up for plagiarism, lose their religion, find another religion, delete their websites, some try and restart them, scale down to a microblog on sites like Tumblr, change their ‘voice’ or reinvent their image. To see so many bloggers virtually explode and implode is pretty dizzying.

Meanwhile, I’ve been quietly blogging along here on a regular basis, under the radar, wrestling with plugins and negotiating prices with domain hosts and experimenting with new layouts and watermarks (yes, even though I loathe watermarks I’ve resigned myself to apply them because of Pinterest — big sigh). No matter how much I mess around with the interface, I fully agree that content is still king, and while many bloggers try and stay motivated to blog with projects like Writing Prompts, Blog Challenges, Weekly Themes, Guest Writers and whatnot, I’ve always had the opposite problem: blogging has become such a habit that it’s like brushing my teeth. Except it takes longer… exponentially longer. If only blogging was as quick as toothbrushing, I’d free up a lot of time spent processing images and thoughts into posts.

Can someone make a plugin for that?

Ciência Viva no Verão 2014: Castles Preview

Montemor-o-Velho Castle, Portugal

Montemor-o-Velho Castle

Preview pics of Saturday’s road trip to the Coimbra area, to visit Montemor-o-Velho Castle and Penela Castle, as part of Ciência Viva no Verão 2014.

Montemor-o-Velho Castle, Portugal

Montemor-o-Velho Castle

Montemor-o-Velho Castle, Portugal

Montemor-o-Velho Castle

Penela Castle, Portugal

Penela Castle

Penela Castle, Portugal

Penela Castle

Penela Castle, Portugal

Penela Castle

July 26, 2014
Album: Montemor-o-Velho Castle, Portugal
Album: Penela Castle, Portugal

Cais de Fado 2014: Day 2 Preview

Cais de Fado 2014: Helena Sarmento at Palco 1 Cais de Gaia

Helena Sarmento at Palco 1 Cais de Gaia

The preview posts continue for Day 2 of Cais de Fado 2014, only because we’re road-tripping early tomorrow and there’s no time to edit today’s captures after the trip prep. So I leave you with a few images and all the videoclips I managed to shoot this evening (I had to scoot home before the big show at Serra do Pilar). Full post next week.

Cais de Fado 2014: Helena Sarmento at Palco 1 Cais de Gaia

Helena Sarmento at Palco 1 Cais de Gaia

Cais de Fado 2014: Alexandra Guimarães at Praça Sandeman

Alexandra Guimarães at Praça Sandeman

Cais de Fado 2014: Micaela Vaz at Praça Sandeman

Micaela Vaz at Praça Sandeman

Rui Oliveira at Praça Sandeman

Rui Oliveira at Praça Sandeman

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July 25, 2014
Album: Cais de Fado 2014

Cais de Fado 2014: A Preview

Cais de Fado 2014: Gisela João at Serra do Pilar (Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)

Gisela João at Serra do Pilar

Fado has a new fan… me! Cais de Fado 2014, Day 1: I saw fadistas Patrícia Costa and Gisela João perform and they were sensational!

But I now have a huge batch of photos that need processing; here’s a preview in the meantime, and a backgrounder on fado.

Cais de Fado 2014: Patrícia Costa at Taylor's Port Wine Cellars (Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)

Patrícia Costa at Taylor’s Port Wine Cellars

Serra do Pilar (Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)

Serra do Pilar

Serra do Pilar (Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)

Portugal does it right: mobile sangria!

I didn’t take any video of Patrícia Costa, only photos. Paulo took some videos of Gisela João’s show at Serra do Pilar. The first one it’s a bit shaky because he’s dancing, and partway through you can hear him singing along:

July 24, 2014
Album: Cais de Fado 2014

The World Needs More Peace


These are troubled times, to put it mildly.

If you live in a peaceful country, it is worthwhile to reflect on the cost of peace, who paid for it, and to be grateful for it. Peace can disappear overnight, and take years to get back.


These photos were taken in the municipality of Ovar, about half an hour south of Porto centre. This mural by artist Xavier Almeida was commissioned to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 25th of April in Ovar.

July 20, 2014
Album: Portugal (Summer 2014)

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Oh my goodness. I took so many baby pictures today and they’re all adorable but I’m going to share just this one. Because his expression is priceless and deserves a caption, but I will let you come up with your own.

Got one?