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Sciency nerdy friends, I've created a page with some science-related cartoons on facebook.

Visit at www.facebook.com/pedromics

:)
This November I will be entering "Movember" where one grows a moustache for charity. I chose this because I can not run marathons or sing or do anything worth sponsoring - but I can get my upper lip area to be very hairy.

If you would like to sponsor my social-suicide please visit my Movember page: mobro.co/pedrovelica

More about Movember here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movember and here: uk.movember.com/about/

Thank you!
I sit down with my drawing pad, my pencils, my pens, my stiffened brush. I turn on the lamp and take a glimpse at the porcelain cat I bought as a joke. I put my forearms on top of the clever Ikea table that folds and unfolds according to my modern personal needs. I adjust my bottom on the uncomfortable chair, cross my legs, then put them straight again. I shuffle through my music as if browsing for inspiration but the collection is too diverse.

I'm forcing myself to be creative. To do something clever, something artistic.

But my head is a sprinkler instead of a quiet stream. Thoughts bounce erratically: the new gas and electricity bill, the presentation on wednesday, should I change job, am I in good health, am I giving attention to all my loved ones or are relationships deteriorating, will the war in Libya resolve, is Portugal going to come out of this swamp, should I be protesting against the cuts in the NHS.

The pencil touches the void but nothing flows.
I go to bed and have a troubled light sleep.
  • Listening to: Lou Reed
I have broken the glass and pressed the big red emergency stop button. "Stop this life, I want to get out!"

So I jumped off the train and took control of my life again.

I am happier then ever.

(dot dot dot)
  • Listening to: David Bowie
When the plane takes off you fall asleep. Under your feet, miles and miles of cities, villages, farms, forests, rivers and oceans go past as if it was a dream. When you touch the ground again it seems like the friends who had been drinking with you in the pub the night before are just behind the corner. Then you set your watch to the new time zone. And your brain. You change your language, change your currency and change your clothes. The first week goes by. The first month goes by.

The hugs, the kisses, the laughters fade away. Never mind the chat rooms, the webcams and the high speed internet connections.

me: hey
they: yo, whats up?
me: not much
they: cool, gotta go! bye!!
me: bye

...
Now that I'm between jobs I have returned, even if temporarily, to my home in Portugal. Its weird sleeping in a single bed in a room that I first inhabited at the age of three and left at eighteen. I dread to think how much of my life was spent between these four walls.

Last weekend I went to Lisbon for a summer festival. Afterwards, instead of taking the early train back home I decided to stay around for a few more hours. I walked aimlessly through the narrow steep streets of Lisbon, took the old trams (something I never did during the four years I studied there) and rested in the shade in the little squares over-looking the red roof tops of the city. It was a beautiful warm summer Sunday.

I'm going through a period of though decisions that are bound to shape how my life turns out. But watching this city, my Lisbon, with its quirky streets whispering centuries of History and the neighbourly faces of its citizens, all of it made me feel lucky because whatever I decide to do with my life and wherever I end up going I know that Portugal will always be my home.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qjjDZ…
La Habana.
Santiago de Cuba.
Baracoa.
Holguin.
Camaguey.
Cienfuegos.
Vinales.
La Habana.

I went to Cuba to try to understand it. I came back even more confused.

The transcripts of my travel-diary: twoweeksincuba.blogspot.com/
  • Listening to: Manu Chao
It is scary how one's inspiration is drained in times of professional stress. I'm off to a deserved rest.

We know a place where no planes go maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sourc…
We know a place where no ships go

(Hey!) No cars go
(Hey!) No cars go
Where we know
  • Listening to: Arcade Fire
Two weeks ago I posted a drawing called "Life from A to J" velica.deviantart.com/art/Life… .

I made this drawing with a specific idea in mind of what the different expressions should mean. Instead of adding my captions to the picture I thought it would be interesting to ask people to add their own. This way I could see how they feel about getting old and being in relationships.

Before I forget them, here are the original captions.
(and just to be clear, A: baby age; B: childhood; C: teenager; D: 20's, E: 30's, F: 40's, G: 50's; H: 60's; I: 70's; J: 80s)

A1: ?
A2: ?

B1: Boys stink!
B2: Girls stink!

C1: He is kinda cute.
C2: Boobs!

D1: Does he love me?
D2: Let's take it casual.

E1: I'm over thirty!! I need to get married! I need to have babies! I need a house!
E2: Let's take it casual.
(they get married at this point)

F1: I'm late to pick up the kids from school! What carpet colour matches the curtains?  
F2: I have to hand in the report! I wonder if someone is trying to steal my car?

G1: Wow. How disgusting did you become? I should have an affair.
G2: Stop trying to change me. Don't be always such a bitch. I should have an affair.
(they do have an affair each)

H1: I would divorce you but I'm too old and too scared to live alone!
H2: I would divorce you but I'm too old and too scared to live alone!

I1: I guess I'll be taking care of you until you die...
I2: Who? What?

J1: Finally, some time for myself.
(men tend to die younger, as you know)

Thanks to all of you who took the time to add your captions. It was a very interesting experience.
  • Listening to: Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking Band
In response to the atempt of legalizing same-sex marriage by the Portuguese government, religious and other conservative groups have rapidly gathered 90 000 signatures petitioning for a referendum.

This will mean that, like the embarassing minaret referendum in Switzerland, a majority will be consulted to decided upon the rights of a minority. A law that would in now way affect the life of the majority.

This is not democracy. This is populism and exploitation of fear.
  • Reading: A jangada de pedra
I jumped into bus 103A, showed my fake ticket quickly enough for it to seem real and made my way to the back. Winter was starting to bite my cheeks.

When blood found its way back to my fingers the gloves became too hot. I removed them. It was after a few seconds of rubbing my newly warmed hands with each other that I remembered that mouse.

Lorenz took the mouse out of his sterile cage and laid the animal in the bench. Hold the head with the tip of your finger and pull the tail. Snap. The spinal cord detaches from the brain and the mouse is killed instantly. Painlessly. Cervical dislocation, its called. Lorenz had done this many times.

Snap. Turn them around. Rip the belly skin open and cut through the abdomen to harvest the organs. Heart, duodenum, spleen, thymus, thyroid. You name it. Lab mice are inbred so they look even more alike than you would expect.

That day, for some unknown and irrelevant reason, Lorenz dropped the mouse in the floor.

The creature must have been amazed with all that space. Millions of times larger than the cage he had lived all his controlled and sterile little life. Space to run, as far as the eye could see. Or maybe not. Some strains, like this particular one, are albino and the mice can barely see. Still, he went nowhere. He made absolutely no attempt to run for his life.
Lorenz picked it up. Snap. The soft belly skin opened. Almost no blood shed.


As I stroked my hands I felt the softness. Too soft, almost as if they'd never been used. Like a belly of a lab mouse.
I have had a perfectly nice controlled safe life. My muscles are soft. My body has no scars. I do not know how to hunt or grow food. In my head, mere shadows of ideas on how to build a shelter.

A cannon being used as a pot to grow flowers. That's me.
If someone dropped me in the real world I would probably wait to be culled.
  • Listening to: sigur ros - Svefn-g-englar
I have decided to become a carnivorous capitalist and created my own merchandising. Yes, from now on some of my drawings are available as t-shirts.

Right here: www.redbubble.com/people/velic…

So far I managed to sell four t-shirts. Three of those were bought by friends of mine, which reminded me of the days my friend and I used to bake cakes and sell them around the neighbourhood and our only costumers were our parents.

I would have made a terrible business man.
I have recently been to Barcelona.

The way I pictured Barcelona was mainly influenced by conversations with friends who visited or live there and George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia".

In my imagination, Orwell's description has always been the most romantic, even though it was set in the 1930's war-time. I pictured a city engulfed in a myst of culture and traditions. I imagined working men and women sitting in cafes, either whispering or shouting their political views. I thought of those brave simple people that 70 years ago took arms against fascism, driving taxis against military barricades. I thought of street artists.

I can not say I was entirely disappointed with Barcelona but its hard to hold a dream while standing at the door of designer clothes shops, McDonalds, KFCs, Irish pubs and souvenir shops selling the same snow-globes in every corner. Here and there I found niches of what my Barcelona would have looked like but the vast majority was a Spanish version of Oxford Street.
It is very likely that I was stuck in the tourist trail and missed all the places that could have filled my standards. Maybe it would have been different if a local had guided me away from the blond tourists wearing Che Guevara t-shirts and Gucci bags.

Nevertheless I found Barcelona's homage to Orwell. A dark little triangular square in the middle of the old town.

I sat there and thought of the International Brigades, the anarchists, the Republic. I thought about art, about life and about choices.

My day-dreaming was interrupted by a spanish-looking young man handing me flyers with discounts for yet another Irish Pub.
Any reference to the Treaty of Lisbon always leaves me in the greatest state of confusion. I have just read that the Irish have been consulted once again in a referendum but this time the answer to Lisbon is "yes".

Ireland was the only country in which the public was consulted for the approval of this document. All other EU members have ratified the treaty in parliament.

This topic absolutely confuses me for two main reasons: I have not read the treaty and all the scaremongering that people have been doing about it WITHOUT EVER EXPLAING WHAT THE TREATY IS ABOUT!

What are your thoughts on the Treaty of Lisbon? Or better, what is the damn thing?

I have stated my ignorance.
We sit in the spare room, me in the confy vibrating chair and my grandmother in the corner of the single bed. In the living room and in the kitchen two television sets tuned to the same station broadcast the same program but with one or two seconds delay from each other. In one hour, the V announces, the first prediction of the election results will be shown. The country awaits in the usual mixture of apathy and desdain.

Pedro - So who have you voted for?
Grandmother - Not in your party.
P - You dont even know which party I support...
She ponders.
G - Well, I have always supported the socialist party. Always. But this time I'm very disappointed at the Prime-Minister.
P - Does he know about that?
G - Yes, he knows.
    Very very disappointed...
P - So...?
G - I would never vote right-wing, I'm not that kind of person.
    I voted Bloco de Esquerda (left block), thats it.
P - Wow, BE huh? Why not the communists then?
G - Oh no, thats too much!

At seven the excitment grew on the TV broacast. The socialists won once again and our PM, the light-socialist named Socrates continues in power. The small parties on the left and on the right grew (BE doubled the number of MPs in parliament!) chopping off the socialists previous absolut majority. Will Socrates unite the left in a government coallition? Will he do the unthinkable and extend alliance to the right-wing? Portugal observes while sipping an espresso.

For me, it was the first time I didn't vote in blank.
  • Reading: The Process (F. Kafka)
Dear all. Very busy. Not much time to draw. Leaving britain soon. Don't know where to. Lost weight. Lost hair. Learning chinese. Write you soon.

Love

P


Triste de quem é feliz!
Vive porque a vida dura.
Nada na alma lhe diz
Mais que a lição da raíz --
Ter por vida sepultura.
  • Listening to: Arcade Fire (Haiti)
Here's a recipe. Grab an overpopulated planet, mix with a global economical crisis, add a large chunk of scaremongering over an influenza strain and, of course, season with the usual political, racial and religious tensions. Incubate overnight and you'll get the right conditions to spread radical ideology.

Its in times like these that far-right and far-left groups harvest more followers, often with very similar promises. So its not uncommon to hear a fiery call for "natioal unity" or "national feeling". All of the sudden everyone is proud of being from whatever nation they happen to come from. But what does that mean, "I am proud of being Portuguese" or British, German, American, Chinese?

I'm proud of my achievements, my work, the friendships I've built, the places I was lucky enough to visit. But how can I be proud of being born in Portugal? Or a Catholic?*

Without a shadow of a doubt I do love my country. Its where I grew up, where my language is spoken, where my cultural references stem from. I will do anything to make Portugal a better place to live but I can not be proud of something I have no responsibility for. I will not yell in a conversation just to prove that my country is better than yours nor will I be proud of the mistakes my ancestors did in the past.

Another common challenge extremist groups throw at us is the "need to preserve our culture against foreign influence". In translated English this means "I hate the fact I have to deal with all these emigrants and their complicated habits, religion, culture, etc". But inst a country's culture constantly changing? Wasnt Edwardian England so much more different than Georgian England? Our culture is not being destroyed, is being enriched. So instead of being an ignorant prick, stop saluting a flag and try to learn more about this world. Its too small to be divided in backyards!





*which by the way, I am not! I was lucky enought to be brought as a free thinker.
  • Listening to: Carlos Paredes
It is a curious feeling to be part of a road accident.
We left the hostel in Rijeka earlier than expected, without sleep-overs or slow showers, and made our way south towards Zadar. The morning was decorated with a beautiful fog dragging its way slowly from the Mediterranean.  There was a smooth feeling inside the car, the kind you have when good friends are together after a long time. We, six of us in total, made jokes while holding our cameras towards the amazing landscapes.
A tight curve came while  in the back someone made a joyful remark. Me and the driver, sitting in the front, looked back simultaneously trying to keep up with the conversation. "Watch out! Watch out!" someone cried from the back. I quickly turned my head and found that the car had swerved to the side. I saw a small cliff and the sea. And suddently a clash!
As the airbag exploded and burned the tip of my nose I wondered if all of that was just an elaborated joke. Some sort of prank that we would all be laughing about in the next minute. As I quickly accepted our less fortunate fate I imagined the car was about to descend the cliff, rolling and throwing us around like pinballs. The rear of the car jumped furiously as it released energy from the impact. My friends flew to the limits of their seatbelts. At this point six sets of internal organs abrubtly rushed to the front, guts and heart and muscles all contracting against bone and skin. On the outside the skin rubbed hardly against the belt. The motion stopped and smokes could be seen all over.
I was probably the first to react. The front of the car was smashed and bled great amounts of oil. We had crashed against the concrete blocks that made up the border of the cliff. "Everyone get off the car now!", I yelled fearing some sort of Hollywoodesc explosion. It's amazing how much of our reactions is conditioned by mediocre american films.

Except for internal bruises, bashed heads and legs no great harm came to any of us. Me and the driver were the most fortunate, having no bruises at all. The car, completely trashed, was fully-insured and the Croatian police was reasonable to deal with, in rudimentary German. Twenty-four hours later and the accident was  somewhat of a distant memory and we made jokes about it.

I can't help thinking of it as a near-life experience. At no point I felt nervous or feared death. If anything I find myself extremely calm, as if reassured that life is an un-natural state, a constant fight against the laws of thermodynamics. Had I died that Friday near the town of Senj and that would be acceptable, normal or even natural from the point of view of the universe. A thriumph of caos. A return to the un-animated state.

After this I felt I had done no mistake in the things I want to pursuit in my life. I feel more confortable in talking to strangers.
  • Listening to: Cat Stevens
  • Reading: Burmese Days / The Invisible Man
Would a person still produce art if he or she lived in complete isolation from other human beings? Is art a personal human need or a form of social advertisement?

Deviant Art is all about promoting art. Not in the elitist way of art schools and gallery cartels but in a down-to-earth fashion. Only in such place could a scientist apprentice like myself expose his amateur works.
Indeed it is a great joy to read comments and be followed by other home-artists. But what are the limits of the chase for popularity?
Is the number of views, favourites, etc. a measure of how good your work is?

Recently I've had a short rant with one of the many "nude artists" in DA. Its not uncommon to see a naked woman in boring cliché poses as a popular deviation in DA's homepage. The popularity of these pictures is colossal. Hundreds of comments often as basic as "nice tits" or "you're sooooo cute" fill their pages.
Indeed its easy to be popular in DA. Nudity, japanese cartoons and celebrity drawings are just some shortcuts to a cascade of comments and favs. But is this what you really want?

Hopefuly, DA still harbors many "unpopular" artists waiting to be discovered. After almost a year and a half as a member of DA I'm quite happy with I've found around here. Even if 90% of what's posted is unimaginative and repetitive.

I'm thinking of using this journal to advertise other DA artists.

Enjoy 2009
  • Reading: Lord of the flies
People often ask why I haven't become a professional artist rather than a scientist. One of my most used answers is the unreliability of my artistic inspiration. If one can call it that.
It used to scare me horribly when I couldn't scribble even the simplest shape. Then I slowly understood that inspiration comes in seasonal waves, and that those frustrating moments of constant sketching and erasing will eventually be replaced by a sudden boosts of creativity. I accept that.

Lately, however, the phases of frustration have become longer. I feel I'm forcing myself to come up with clever drawings but all I can do is waste paper. Somehow my brain feels numb and is incapable. Tired, most of the time. Above all, never relaxed.

I seriously hope this is not adulthood finally kicking in.
  • Reading: Homage to Catalonia