Sunday by the river

The greyness is no coincidence. Since Christmas, we’ve lived in a near continuum of drizzle, downpours, showers and rainstorms.


In front of Museu do Carro Eléctrico, one tram made way for another while I was watching.


As Lent is coming up and with that my yearly effort to declutter my mind and organize my life, I think distilled and smooth is quite a good ambition.


Anglers took advantage of the low tide which lowers the water level this close to the river mouth, despite all the rain. The Arrabida bridge in the background, as stylish as in any weather.


Making lists

I figured a list would be give a head start in personalizing this blog, and I have nurtured the idea of creating my own list rather than copying one of the innumerous that exist already. You are welcome to copy mine, of course, and tell about yourself!

3 things you wish you could spend less time doing

Worrying, especially about not being good enough or not making a large enough effort, in my work as well as in other walks of life. Sitting through unproductive meetings where too much time is spent on too many people satisfying their need of hearing their own voice and opinion. Walking noisy streets with too many cars.

3 things you wish you could spend more time doing

Being with my family and old friends. Walking in lush green countryside. Acting and feeling like my best professional self.

Something you still find as enjoyable today as when you were a child

To dive into a soft clear wave of the south Baltic sea on a sunny summer morning. Especially on an eastern beach where the morning sun will be coming in from the seaside. I grew up in the extreme south of Sweden where the Baltic is never more than 40 km away. My mother being a teacher meant she had long summer holidays and could take us to the beach whenever the weather was warm. Or at least, that’s how I remember…

A recently discovered pleasure

To discover a blog written by someone who’s both a kindred spirit and living a different enough life for me to wish to dive right into getting to know a corner of the world previously unfamiliar to me. This discovery has taken me outside my previous nearly unilingual blogosphere and is in fact the reason why I take the plunge and start a blog in English. Hi imminentmetaphor in British Columbia and f.pea in North Carolina!

When people ask you about your profession, what do you reply?

This is a tricky one and has been since I started studying. Who knows what an animal scientist* does?  Now I do research into animal welfare, which again is not mainstream. If the person asking is not the least familiar with the field, I will say I do research in veterinary medicine. It’s not an answer I’m very happy about as I think it leads people to think about curing sick cows or developing vaccines for dogs, which is quite far from what I actually do. OK, so I really should work on a strategy for this. I’m a researcher in the veterinary field, working on ways to treat animals better. That’s as far as easy can get you, if you want more I will have to make it complicated.

What do you wish that more people knew about your profession?

I wish more people adopted critical thinking and the scientific method as a basis for trying to understand the world.

Is there some way in which you act or talk outside work that allows others to guess your profession?

There’s certainly an element of me trying to understand why things happen the way they do. This ranges from figuring out why a flower bed of perennials becomes an entangled mess if left to its own devices to wondering why my father’s siblings don’t get along with each other. I’m not sure how much that is visible to others, though. But I sometimes blush when I see myself taking on the student supervisor role in explaining things as clearly as I can and rounding off by asking if everything is clear or there are more questions…

Something you didn’t think you were able to do but have actually learnt to master

Yoga practice. Of course mastering is not the appropriate word, but even the fact that I practice is a surprise. I tried a few times before but it never stuck with me – too much sitting cross-legged and too much esoterism. When I realised that near my work there was a place for the Iyengar yoga my friend K had been telling me about forever, I still thought it wouldn’t be enough for my restless body that need real work. Oh, was I proven wrong…you need strong and flexible muscles to do Iyengar yoga! I’ve been practising since 2005 and am intent on practising for the rest of my life.

Something you would like to learn and think you will actually be able to

Spanish, Italian or French. Ideally all 3. I’ve learnt to speak fluent Portuguese as my 3rd language, and it is my day-to-day language. By now I think it comes so naturally to me that I no longer need to fear that learning a related language will mess upp my Portuguese. I’m not sure I will find the time and the stamina though. And having just completed my 43rd birthday I’m concerned I don’t have that many more years of a flexible enough brain for this to be worth the effort. I need to think about this, seriously!

Something you would like to learn but think unlikely that you will ever get the opportunity

Classical horse dressage. I grew up with horses and riding and have enough experience to know the absolute flow when you manage to get the horse to work with you. I never had a horse with the smallest inclination towards dressage and am pretty sure I’m not talented enough either, and now my life has taken me far from a situation where I could keep horses. I still hope that I will get the chance to mount a lusitano horse, native of Portugal where I now live, but right now I have difficulties in imagining I will become a regular rider again.

*Animal sciences is the branch of agricultural sciences that deals with how to feed, breed and generally manage animals. Focus is on production animals but an animal scientist will have basic knowledge in animal physiology, genetics and behaviour which is relevant for managing all sorts of animals kept by humans. The profession overlaps only little with that of the veterinarian. Vets are above all trained to diagnose and treat and to some extent prevent diseases, which is of course where they’re masters. Vets know a lot more about anatomy and pathology than animal scientists do, animal scientists know a lot more about genetics and nutrition than vets do.