What’s The Point Of Men & Women’s?

I’ve been I’ll say lightly/moderately discriminated to before multiple times. A few times were in I’ll say “masculine stores.” I was trying to pick up a specific part to a heater and asked for it and they basically said I had no business asking for that part. It’s also happened a few times at the Home Depot when I asked an employee for help and they look at me like I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying I know everything but I know how to ask for a part and I know how to ask for where a specific tool or part is in a store. I’m not dumb, I guess.

Those who know me know I like to dress not normal. I like to dress comfortably. I don’t conform to any norms. I wear “men’s” socks, “men’s” shirts, “men’s” pants, “men’s” shorts, etc. But they’re my style. I don’t feel like I’m a cross dresser… it’s just what I’m comfortable in and what I like to wear. I don’t think these clothes have any sex per-se. A t-shirt is a t-shirt. And I feel that way about a lot of other clothes. They have women’s clothes and men’s clothes.

And I just think that’s wrong. Why isn’t a hat just a hat? Why are socks different? Why are gloves different? I guess I get it with things like shirts and pants but come on… at the end of the day isn’t it just what fits and what looks good and what feels good to you?

So when I walk into a shoe store and ask to try on a size of whatever shoe is men’s, why did they point me to the women’s shoes? I look over there and see all pink and rainbows and shit. That’s not me. I don’t feel like that’s a lot of people. Shoes are fucking shoes. Men should be able to wear women’s stuff just the same.

In fact, sometimes men’s products are just better. Take razors. Take any random women and ask her if she thinks men’s razors are better and she’d say yes. Definitely. I don’t really understand how there is a market for women’s razors since they suck.

And I do wear women’s stuff… I wear bras, I wear women’s shirts.

I guess I’m just tired of the stereotyping and whatnot. It’s awkward enough picking out clothes. It’s just fucking clothes. Who cares? Or maybe why should they care? It’s fucking shoes. All feet are fucking different.

I walked out of there without shoes.

Thoughts On GTA V

I’m soooo looking forward to GTA VI which should (hopefully) come out next year. I’ve always been a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA V has been an absolute blast and my favorite, by far. San Andreas a far second. I never played the entire game all the way through up until a few days ago.

There were some missions that seemed impossible and that I had to skip. Though, I might go back and replay them to see if I can do better. However the one with Michael having to try to save his son on the boat is damn near impossible since you have to drive and shoot which I could never do well. Other hard missions were the Strangers & Freaks with Mary-Ann. The other one that was difficult was when Trevor had to ride a bike on the train. The mission on the dock I also had to skip since the snipper controls are different and I didn’t realize you had to hold in a button in order to zoom. They should really have one set of controls so you always know what to do.

Anyway, after beating the game it’s pretty cool as Dr. Friedlander gives you some notes. Here were mine:

Some thoughts about these notes:

  • I did try to help people when a random event popped up. But most of the time I would have to kill them for the simple act of stealing someone’s purse or wallet. I don’t believe in capital punishment to begin with; much less for a stupid offense like some burglary. There’s no way to like just shoot the person in the leg then they drop the wallet.
  • I got Michael laid a lot after his wife cheats on him. And when she and the kids left, he was going to prostitutes every night. So that’s where “voyeuristic” and “feels need to buy sex” comes from. The first time I played GTA V I had Michael be faithful and Trevor and Franklin get the sex… this time it was the opposite. I didn’t want Michael to get back with his wife, honestly. He was more free spirited this time around.
  • I’m not sure about the “prone to random outbursts of violence” comes from since that would definitely be Trevor 100% but not the way I played him. Trevor when I played him this time around was an honest, nice guy. He loves Patricia… I liked that relationship. I still have him call her. He liked having sex with the realtor’s wife. And it isn’t my fault that I have to play the Rage missions with Trevor. I suck at them anyway.
  • “Keeps the car stealing to a minimum” was me this time. Whenever I played GTA before I would carjack every time. This time I stole vehicles when they weren’t occupied. And I actively looked for my car around when switching. I was thinking about the trauma a carjacking would be to the victim. Much better to just come out of your house or restaurant and find your car missing.
  • I tried to pick up and help the random events. While Trevor, if the dude seemed creepy or the one with the dude cheating on his wife, I took them to the cult. Other than that, I did pick them up and help them. I’m kind of disappointed I must have played the one hitchhiker wrong since she could become a girlfriend or at least a “lay.” The other random one was Trevor picking up another criminal which became a contact but I never saw her come up when choosing people for missions.
  • I totally dig the “avoids strenuous exercise” because that’s totally me anyway. In the missions I preferred to do the easier way instead of guns-a-blazin.
  • This time I collected all the space ship parts and all the letter scraps. It was a lot of fun finding out where they were and getting them. Thanks to the IGN website with the map! Good luck trying to collect everything without it. It would take you a lifetime. And I love the switching between characters cause it was so easy to get into a weird place, get the piece, then switch to another character without going through the work of getting yourself out of it.
  • I think everyone probably has “maniac” and “mister.” Honestly, is it realistic to play this game without doing that? And I always restarted the game if I was on my way to somewhere and accidently killed someone while driving. I hated having innocent blood on my hands. Now, when on a mission, all bets are off. Sorry a lot of people (and cops) get killed that way. You just have to.

I’m still going to play around more with GTA V. I’m not on GTA Online nor do I really want to try it. My cousin says it can get really difficult since you’re playing with other people and I know I’m not the best player… I’m actually surprised I was able to beat the game since I hadn’t played video games hardcore since I was a kid and the last time I played anything was GTA V the first time I played it when it first came out like 10 years ago.

I might buy San Andreas and play it again. I’m surprised I was able to finish V so quickly, honestly. I thought it would have taken me at least a few months… I guess that’s the luxury of being retired so I can spend more time on it than just an hour or two every other night :)

Thoughts On Kate From Lost

I’m re-watching the show Lost since Brian is away visiting family in the states. This is maybe the third or fourth time I’ve seen it. My favorite episode is LaFleur in season 5 when Juliet and Sawyer (along with Jin and Miles and Daniel) join the Dharma Initiative after they stop time traveling. The entire episode jumps around back and forth three years into the future and past. (I really wish it was a linear episode but whatever.)

In the episode Juliet and Sawyer get together sometime in those three years. Sawyer is head of security and Juliet displays her many talents. They’re really happy and it’s so good.

At the end of the episode Kate comes back.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Kate. It seems like she always wanted her cake and eat it too. It seems like she would just keep jumping from Jack to Sawyer without really choosing. There are other reasons I dislike Kate like the fact that she got the guy she loved killed. It just seems like she’d do anything for herself. While on the island, everyone trusted Kate for some reason.

In season 5 Kate makes the decision to go back to the island with all the rest of the Oceanic Six (besides Aaron). It’s found out later that the main reason Kate went back to the island was to find Claire so she could reunite her with Aaron (whom she took off the island).

It’s funny considering the second she lands, her concern isn’t about Claire anymore.  And so at the beginning of the next episode after LaFleur, when Sawyer gives Kate, Hurly, and Jack a choice to join Dharma or camp out, Kate decides to join Dharma. She could have camped out and tried to find Claire. Most likely Claire was there in 1977. The entire rest of the season she doesn’t mention or try to find Claire at all. No plan, no trying to explore the island to find her, nothing.

Then in season 6, she still isn’t concerned about finding Claire. It’s like not even a thought in her mind anymore. She’s more concerned about chasing Sawyer to get him back to the temple.

Sawyer was headed towards the barracks where he lived thirty years ago with Juliet. He digs up a box that had an engagement ring in it. Sawyer was going to propose. He tells this to Kate and she cries.

Doesn’t she get it? Doesn’t she understand? Sawyer didn’t want her anymore. Juliet and Sawyer were happy without Kate and the rest of them. Kate, Jack, and Hurley coming back was one of the reasons why Juliet died. In fact if it wasn’t for Kate getting on the submarine when Sawyer and Juliet were being banished off of the island, Juliet wouldn’t have died! I liked the idea of Sawyer and Juliet buying Microsoft and living happier ever after.

Kate never wanted to rescue Claire to get her back with Aaron. She just wanted to find Sawyer.

I just feel like Kate is a very selfish character and she’ll do whatever she wants to in order to get what she wants. And even once she has it, she isn’t happy.

Advice For Someone Starting Their Careers

The other week my friend asked me if I (we, including Brian) had any advice to give her niece who is starting out her career. I thought about it for a bit but there are a few things I would say.

Don’t Give It Your “All”

I gave this advice to a guy I used to work with. He would put in extra hours… when there was a deployment outside business hours he wouldn’t count that as part of his 40 hours. He took PTO for errands and appointments, etc even though he was already giving the company more than 40 hours of his time.

I told him to stop doing that. The company doesn’t care… well, they do but in their own selfish way. They owe you, you don’t owe them. You owe them your best work and your time… 40 hours a week. Anything you give them extra, they don’t appreciate.

And I know a lot of people say this isn’t true but I’ve given three of my four companies this “extra time” of mine and received nothing in return. My first company, as I was leaving, I put in 10+ hours of work every day to get them this certification they were working towards. I didn’t see an extra dime in my final paycheck when everything was calculated (PTO I didn’t spend). My second job I pulled a weekend once for a big deployment and we didn’t get anything extra for it. I would stay extra a few times for my various jobs but never received anything… not even a “thank you” some of the times.

Don’t bust your butt for your employer. Don’t be a slave to them. Work your mandatory 40 hours and go home and enjoy your life.

You Have To Jump

My uncle once joked that I changed jobs more than he did underwear. I changed jobs four times in my 14 year career. (Five if you count the “fuck up.” But I needed that “fuck up” to get a better salary… hence this point…)

In order to get a pay increase, you have to leave. Once you’re with a company, they don’t give big raises. Shit, even if you get a “promotion” it could be months before you see a pay increase. And if you do, it’s probably going to be miniscule.

I know of this from experience and talking with other people. My first pay increase was 5%. I was only making $38,000 a year and I got a 5% increase! I thought that was awesome! But I did the math on that. While 5% is huge, I kept going with that… Even if I got a 5% pay increase every year I’d only make around $62,000 when I got to ten years there. It would take me over 20 years to get into six figures.

One company, I was so close to making six one year. I got a 1.5% increase (not even COL). I didn’t get to six that year but I did the year afterwards. And that 1.5% I got, compared to other people, I did really well! Others I know only got 0.5%! And no bonuses.

The only time I have been able to get pay increases is when I switched jobs. So every three years, no matter what, I started looking. My last job I even threatened to quit in order to get what I deserved. My pay they were giving me wasn’t keeping up with inflation and I called them out on it. I put in a two week resignation notice then they started talking. They met me close to my number so I was happy.

You gotta jump. And keep jumping.

Bonuses Are A Thing Of The Past

There aren’t many companies out there that give bonuses. I was lucky to be with two companies who gave out bonuses. But it was miniscule. It was $500… maybe $1,500. Nothing like that National Lampoon’s movie where the dude was able to take everyone on his family a vacation with his bonus. Nope, that shit doesn’t happen in the real world.

Be Good At What You Want To Do And Do What You’re Good At

Try not to take a job that you don’t have any passion for. You’re not going to be good at it. You’re not going to want to give it the time and practice it takes. You need to have a passion for what you do.

I was very good at what I did. I’ve gotten so many complements throughout my career of how good I am; bosses and coworkers alike.

The best advice I was given was from my uncle (not the underwear uncle, lol). I just got a call back from two companies (for my first career job). One offered me $38,000 and one offered me $32,000. I wanted to go with the $32,000 because it seemed like more career growth even though I would be doing Java which is something I did not enjoy at all. He told me to go with the $38,000 one because you don’t want to be miserable.

You need to have a passion and a drive in what you chose to do. Trust me, it does help.

401k’s Are A Joke

When you need to jump companies so much, and especially with the stock market taking big shits every ten years, 401k’s are a joke. It takes years to become “vested.” And if you need to jump jobs so much,  you’re not going to be “vested” so that company can take all what they “gave you” away.

Plus… the fucking stock market crashed four times during my life alone and I’m still a few years from 40!

I don’t know what to do for retirement income. I mean, the stock market is so evil and unpredictable and you could lose all your money if you don’t keep up with it and invest it correctly. Remember, that’s on you. Your company isn’t picking and swapping out the best bonds and stocks. You need to keep up with your own 401k.

There are no pensions anymore, thanks, Boomers!  So if you don’t want to do a 401k route, you can save up to buy a rental property. But even there, that could be a shit show. I did it and it didn’t turn out like I’d hoped.


I know others have had different, wonderful experiences with companies and I’m not one to judge all companies. These just have been my experiences with the four companies that I’ve worked for. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

You just have to be cautious and look out for yourself. Your company usually isn’t.

Again, these are just my opinions and my two cents. I’m sure a lot of people have had a lot of success doing the opposite of what I’ve stated here. But they’re lucky. And you can find really good companies that you want to stay and work for for the rest of your career. I wish I had found one.

In the end, this is what worked out for me.

Dry January 2024

As I stated in my 2024 Resolutions post, I’m doing a dry January. I’ll be updating this post throughout the month.


Well it’s done! And I’ve been drinking every night of February. That will probably break tonight.

I think I slept better but I slept longer. I definitely gained weight but it could also be because I’ve been exercising more (that happens to me). It could also be that instead of drinking, I will eat more when we go out for dinner.

It got a lot easier at the end of the month. And I haven’t gone crazy in February. With Brian gone for two weeks I’m responsible for the pets so there’s reason to not go crazy.

The first sip of beer after January felt like diving into a cool pool on a hot day. Simply refreshing. It was tough when others were drinking and I wasn’t. It kind of changed my relationship with alcohol in a way. I don’t feel the need to go crazy and drink everything. I’m more moderation now… however, that could just be because I have responsibilities until Bri gets back. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself and I’m not being responsible… I don’t know.

I may do dry January again… maybe not.


More than half way through! It is getting easier. The real challenge has been not cheersing people when we go for a happy hour. I’m ordering orange juice. I’m glad I have friends doing this with me. I’m really proud of my friend, Mark, for hanging in there with me. We met up last night and everyone was not drinking.

I haven’t lost any weight and this morning I woke up and it felt like I had a hangover. It’s also harder to get to sleep. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for my brain. My Portuguese was poor and I’m having a very difficult time in class understanding how to give directions. It’s different than in English.

It’s strange but everything feels fine. I feel normal for the most part… just lower energy and not sleeping. But when I am sleeping, I’m sleeping well. I don’t wake up during the night. I dream more, I think. This has been easy for me but I still want to continue drinking after this month.


It’s been a tough, slow month so far. I’ve had some challenging days where alcohol would have helped. It’s been 11 days since I last drank alcohol. I know I’ve done longer sprints like this in the past (like when we didn’t have plans for a weekend) so I know I can get through it. In Portugal I drink a lot more than in the states (besides during covid when the only thing to do after work was to drink).

So far I feel okay during the day. However, I feel like they lie when they say you are going to have more energy, sleep less, lose weight, etc by stopping drinking. I’ve had the opposite effects. I’m sleeping 8-9 hours a night (vs when I drank I would get 7-8 hours of sleep). I feel like I’ve gained weight and feel bloated. I also eat a lot more which sucks. I feel like when I drank I wouldn’t eat as much. I feel like I have a lot less energy now. Often I feel like I need to take a nap or feel tired during the day. It sucks.

Alcohol also helps with my portuguese and my overall anxiety. Yesterday I played poker with some people and I felt so nervous and I was shaking. Alcohol helps calm down my nerves and relaxes me but I couldn’t have that.

I’m glad I’m doing this with a friend. Brian is also doing it too. The support from him and my friend helps. I know I’m not the only one going through this hell.

I hope it gets better. Will update again soon.

2024 Resolutions

Now that we’ve settled more into Portugal (we’re still not all the way here yet), I’m going to be doing some New Years resolutions. Here are 15 things I would like to accomplish next year.

  • Work on Years Collage – Enhancements, maybe pay for SSL, more enhanced search, etc. I have a list.
  • Finish Dad’s Years Collage – I want to set out to finish this by mid-January and put his pictures online. I’m still going through cropping and organizing.
  • Finish my Years Collage – I still have a list of stuff I would like to put on there.
  • Build movie organizer – We have a bunch of movies on different media (DVDs, Amazon, Google, etc). I would like to build something that will use some sort of API to get the movie information so I can digest the data to be able to search and find the movies I have and on what media.
  • Learn more Portuguese and be able to have a good conversation – Of course I’m still learning the language and I am capable of having a basic conversation but I hope to get to the point where I can have a more complex conversation.
  • One month sober – I’m going to do a sober January. No alcohol.
  • More quotes – This past year wasn’t exactly full of quotes. Although I’m hanging out with more people and doing stuff almost every day, I’ve been slacking on recording these memories. I hope to change that.
  • Figure out a shrine for my Dad’s stuff – In the states I had a big china cabinet that housed some of my Dad’s stuff. Right now it’s in a box and I feel bad since it’s not being displayed. Even though we have a much smaller space, I would still like to have something like it back.
  • Figure out a place for glasses/shot glasses – Right now my collections are just in a box. I want to showcase them. Maybe that will be in the kitchen enhancement 3.0?
  • Reach out at least once a month to people – These relationships are important to me and I do not talk to them enough. That’s not to say others aren’t just as important it’s just I need to keep up more with others.
    • Aunt Janet
    • Sabrina P
    • Helen E
    • Becky D
    • Matt A
    • Megan W
    • Billyray M
  • Dance more – With a little help from my friends here :)
  • Do something nice for Brian every week – Brian is a great guy. My husband, my rock, my confidant, my best friend. I need to show him I really care about him more.
  • Blog more – Once every four or five months is not enough. I have several ideas for posts like what advice to give new college kids (thanks Heidi).
  • Swim at least once every three days – I have an indoor pool. I need to use it more.
  • Practice juggling – It would be so cool to go down to the marina and juggle with Brian. That would be fun. My juggling skills need some fine tuning.
  • Have more online game nights – It sucks staying up past 3 AM but relationships and friends are worth it. I should host more Jackbox game nights.
  • Find more hobbies – I need more to do.

Thoughts On Visiting The States Since I’ve Been Gone

It’s coming up on a year… a whole YEAR… since I’ve moved to Portugal. It has been a crazy year.

Since I just went back to the states for a visit I thought I’d reflect on what I thought, what changed, how I felt, etc. In no particular order:

  • Traffic has gotten really bad. It wasn’t just me. Bri felt it too and everyone whom I’ve asked there said it had gotten bad. We ran into traffic three different times coming back from Uncle George’s on a Wednesday.
  • Beer is expensive. I kept paying like $8 or $9 for a beer. WTF? Portugal a caneca (a mug; close to a liter) is 2.5€ during happy hours. At most 4€. In the states at Silver Branch it was $8.50 for a token and two tokens was a liter (so $17!!!). Unbelievable.
  • On that note, we spent more than $1,000 when there! My Portuguese friend, Glenn, gave me $92 in “dirty money” and it was gone really fast. Bri also found some USD and we spent it.
  • We had an awesome time at the wedding. It was soooo good to see people and dance and have a good time. I really hope to see them again.
  • Not a lot of people have anything new or different in their lives since I left. Sure people have a few things going on here and there but nothing like life changing had happened. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or what but I got a lot of “same ol’, same ol'” when I was asking how people were.
  • A lot of people showed up to the happy hours that I wasn’t expecting to see. People I haven’t seen in years. My friend, Arlene, came up from Florida. My friend, Angela, and her baby came up all the way from Anne Arundel County (like two counties away from where we had the happy hour). Mel and Jim came out. We saw Helen every happy hour (#superfriend)! One of my friends boyfriend came who we’ve never met before came. My sister, her boyfriend, and Matt all came down from New York!
  • The final happy hour at Brookeville felt like one of our parties we used to have in Rockville. A lot of people came out. There was different groups of people but I saw and was able to spend a little time with everyone. Everyone had someone to talk to. Everyone was so cool and was sharing pizza and drinking and just good vibes. It went by so fast.
  • It feel like when you’re in the states and you’re working, you live for the weekends. (We tried not to live that way when we lived there as we were always up for doing stuff during the work week.)
  • We were bored Thursday and Friday during the day. I guess I didn’t plan anything for those days for some “down time” but we found ourselves just playing pinochle with Bri’s parents.
  • I was scared every day not having health insurance there. If something happened we would be fucked. I was also scared of shootings. Probably illogical but still… that shit doesn’t happen here.
  • I kept speaking Portuguese. I couldn’t turn it off. Some of my family even got mad at me for doing it. Waiters and waitresses looked at me funny but I think they knew what I was trying to say.
  • I really do miss my American friends. I got some good friends in the states. Great people. I really miss them.
  • Sometimes it felt like nothing changed; like we were back from a long vacation. It just clicked to be back.
  • I already knew this but just to reiterate: JETLAG SUCKS. I was up by 6:30 AM every day (that’s 11:30 Portugal time). I only got like 4 or 5 hours of sleep most nights. Now back in Portugal I’m having trouble getting to sleep by 1 or 2 AM Portugal time.
  • My stomach doesn’t like the US food anymore. My stomach hurt nearly every day. I had to keep taking Pepto. Around Tuesday is when I didn’t need to take it any more but I still took it pre-emptively on some occasions. Portuguese food is just better.
  • I drank every day but I never got drunk. Maybe slightly buzzed on a few occasions but I watched myself and never drank in excess.
  • We didn’t want to drive by our old house.

I had taken my Portuguese friend, Sam’s advice going to the states. She’s from the U.K. and she said make people come to you instead of you running around trying to please/see everyone. That was good advice. It allowed for more time. Many people wanted me to come to them but I just couldn’t. It was either too far or not enough time. I feel bad but I don’t see that changing the next time I visit.

For some things I’d do different next time:

  • Bri wanted to see his family who live in different states. Maybe we would do that… I don’t know but then I think…
  • I don’t think I could go all the way to North Carolina to see Uncle George again. It was too much driving and time. However, it was during the week when most people were working anyway but it just sucked spending 11+ hours of the trip being in a car. I don’t know what I would do about that though. We did have a lot of fun down there. We got crabs which I hadn’t had in years. We saw the family that was there. They just live really far away from anyone we could possibly make two mini-trips out of.
  • Maybe for more time Bri and I would go separately so I could stay there for like a few weeks. But I have no where to stay and no vehicle. Bri at least would have his parents. I don’t think I would like that though. The more time spent in the states is the more time without healthcare. Also, what do I do on the weekdays when people worked? Heidi took a day off to be with us but I’m not sure if some of my other friends can/would do the same.
  • I’m not sure how to tackle this but a few of my other friends moved to different states. There is like no way we could spend time to travel to see them when there. They might have to be a special trip but I don’t know how that would work since I don’t want nor plan to visit the states that frequently. (Thinking the next time we visit will be in 2025!)
  • Not plan so far in advance. I knew about the wedding months in advance but actually planning the week didn’t happen until about a month before travel. It was very stressful to me knowing our flight but not our schedule. It was difficult to wait that long to finally plan since I’m not the kind of person to give someone 3 or 4 months advance of when I’ll want to hang out. If there’s another wedding like this, I’m going to have to repeat this process which just caused me so much stress.
  • Buy a sim card when I get off the plane (or try to). Fuck Lycamobile. They said my phone would work in the US but it didn’t and I was stranded. I put 40€ on that thing for overages for nothing. I had to buy a T-mobile sim card for $31 the next day.

Diary Of States Visit September 2023

A wedding was to happen! A wedding of two of my good friends! I had to go back for that! No way I was going to miss it. So I decided to plan an entire trip seeing friends and family in the states.

We have been living in Portugal for about a year so it was about time.

Below are all the things we did during the trip. Thanks to all of the people who made time to see me and thanks to the friends and family I saw along the way!


Thursday, September 7th, 2023

  • Woke up before alarm & started moving
  • Walked the kids and ran into Lorna
  • Continued to get ready & close up
  • Walked to bis station and ran into Brandon
  • Bus to Lisbon
  • Checked bags in
  • Food court
  • Waited for gate
  • Flight to IAD
  • Long customs line but we got through easily
  • Met up with Heidi after we got bags
  • Parking $12
  • Dropped off stuff at Heidi’s & got Benji
  • Went for drinks and fries and nachos at CraftHouse $37
  • Back to Heidi’s for sleep

Friday, September 8th, 2023

  • Bri kept waking me up
  • Up at 5AM
  • Heidi got up early & went to her appointment
  • Made bread & coffee & packed up sheets
  • When Heidi got back, Walked Benji around & ran into Heidi’s neighbors
  • Tried to find & went to T mobile and got a sim card $31
  • Dropped Benji off
  • Went to Chipotle
  • Went to Makers Union Pub and got a beer
  • Back to Heidi’s to pack
  • Heidi dropped us off Curtis & Wilma’s
  • Hung out with Bri’s parents
  • Went over Britney & Jason’s
  • Played wildlife game
  • Got Chinese & drank
  • Drinking game
  • Went back to Curtis & Wilma’s

Saturday, September 9th, 2023

  • Got up early
  • Duolingo
  • Went to Target $320
  • Went to grocery store
  • Went to bank
  • Back to Curtis & Wilma’s
  • Played a few hands of pinochle
  • Drove to Rochy’s
  • Hung out there & had seafood & drank a little
  • Went to nearest hotel to Aaron & Sabrina’s & dropped Stacy & Charles off
  • Went to Aaron & Sabrina’s & drank
  • Picked up Stacy & Charles
  • Matt arrived at Aaron & Sabrina’s
  • Ordered Mama Lucia’s
  • Played game & drank & pokemon & hangout
  • Dropped Stacy & Charles off at hotel
  • Hung out a little bit more & went to bed

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

  • Got up early
  • Matt on couch so couldn’t do Duolingo
  • Bri got up so I did Duolingo
  • Waited around
  • Aaron & Sabrina got up around 9
  • Had coffee & coffee cake & talked
  • Picked up Stacy & Charles
  • Went back to Curtis & Wilma’s
  • Family party! Wine & saw family
  • Charles left then eventually Stacy & Matt
  • Talked to Shawn after Eagles game
  • Bri Bri Went out
  • To sleep

Monday, September 11th, 2023

  • Got up and got ready, took some sandwiches & drinks
  • Got to Uncle Georges around 12:30
  • Got in pool & had a few drinks
  • James & family came over & hung out
  • Steak dinner
  • Watched a tiny bit of the game & went to bed

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

  • Got up about 6 & did Duolingo
  • Bri slept on couch then after I got up slept in bed a bit
  • Had shrimp salad for breakfast & coffee
  • Left for beach around 10:30 AM
  • Parked in Surf City free area & walked on beach for a bit
  • Went to restaurant & got a beer & bang bang shrimp
  • Drew on table paper & ate
  • Went to get crabs & picked out live crabs
  • Stopped at several places to find Coors Light in bottles
  • Uncle George steamed crabs when we got back
  • Went in pool for a while until crabs ready
  • Brendly came over & had crab legs
  • Patrick came home
  • Everyone ate crabs for a while
  • Patrick & Brenly got in pool & we followed
  • In pool for a bit & Uncle George got in for a bit
  • Kim drinking & dancing
  • Went to sleep


Wednesday, September 13th 2023

  • Kicked Bri out of bed because he kept moving around
  • Got up & did Duolingo
  • Uncle George got up
  • Brenly left
  • Had breakfast (sausage and waffles)
  • Left Uncle George’s around 9:30 AM
  • Ran into bad traffic
  • Went to Target on way back
  • Arrived around 4 PM
  • Went to Streetcar 82
  • Bryan S and Helen E showed up
  • Drinks then went back to Bri’s parents

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

  • Got up early & did Duolingo & took a bath
  • Bri helped parents move safe
  • Pinochle with Uncle Neil
  • Went to dinner/lunch at Olive Garden
  • Went to Silver Branch
  • Met up with Alicia, Bryan S
  • Arlene came!
  • Helen came & we all drank
  • Later Marc came & we moved inside
  • Arlene & I went to car to retrieve wine and ran into Tony!
  • Went back to Silver Branch but last call had happened but Hung out anyway & split last beer
  • Said bye to Arlene & Tony
  • Went over Marc’s place for a hang out
  • Went back to Bri’s parents late

Friday, September 15th, 2023

  • Got up early
  • Bri’s mom made french toast when Bri got up
  • Played pinochle a good part of the day
  • Decided to ping Sabrina
  • Went over Sabrina & Aaron’s around 3 and hung out for an hour and a half
  • Went over to Helen’s place
  • Ate pizza & drank a little
  • Watched Barbarian
  • Went back to Bri’s parents

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

  • Got up early
  • When Bri’s parents got up they took us to Bob Evans (I drove)
  • After Bob Evans, back to Bri’s parents for pinochle for a while
  • Started to get ready for the wedding around 2:30
  • Left for the wedding & got there around 3:30ish
  • Awkward at first, caught up with Paul’s family & some of their friends
  • Wedding & ceremony happened where we were called out :)
  • When time to go inside, had the honor of sitting at the same table as Paul, Becky, Shawn, & Jen :)
  • Chipotle dinner & open bar
  • Paul’s dad & his brothers came over to me to ask about Paul & Becky story
  • Bri started talking to one of Paul’s uncles
  • Caught up with a lot of people like Seth, Paul’s dad, others; hung out with Shawn & Jen
  • Jen walked in on first dance
  • Danced & talked & drank
  • Helped clean up
  • Decided to go home since it was so late & we couldn’t go anywhere else

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

  • Got up early & started to pack
  • Got ready & waited around for a while
  • Finally got moving to the brewery around noon
  • Lots of traffic!
  • Stopped at Brew Belly for some beers but they didn’t have Sweet Baby Jesus or the cider Brian likes
  • Finally arrived at Brookeville Beer Farm; the area changed!
  • Eric & family & Chris were already there
  • Got a bigger table
  • Helen, Frank, Aaron & Sabrina, Tricia & Travis & family, Angela with Jasper showed up!
  • All talking & having a good time
  • Mel & Jim showed up
  • Heidi showed up then Dave
  • Talked with everyone and had a good time
  • People started leaving then we left around 5:30
  • Heidi dropped us off at IAD very early (just in case of traffic)
  • Got checked in & waited at gate for like two hours
  • Got Five Guys
  • Boarded plane
  • Couldn’t sleep too much; kept waiting for food & uncomfortable

Monday, September 18th, 2023

  • Didn’t sleep too much on flight
  • Watched the last episode of Shameless
  • Finally arrived in Lisbon
  • Several minor incidents then got to bus station
  • A few minor incidents then finally got on bus to Lagos
  • Arrived in Lagos & started to unpack
  • One of the beers had exploded in Bri’s suitcase
  • Lorna dropped the boys off but Lando isn’t doing well with his nail
  • Bri cooked dinner
  • Tried to help Lando but he was in too much pain
  • Sad night worrying about Lando

Lessons Learned Moving To Another Country

A lot of this might seem regurgitated from Blog – Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To Portugal but it will be a more abridged version. This is the post like. “if I could roll back time and start from the beginning again I would…”

  • Get google voice in the states because iPlum is a pain in the ass. Or try to get another service.
  • Not ship my car or my bike over. I would have sold them both and bought things here.
  • Not ship the TVs and receivers over. We have converters which work okay but it would be better to get something made for Europe.
  • Not ship a lot of the household US-based appliances over. Some work with the converters but some do not.

Think of moving to another country like moving to another planet. A lot of your U.S. shit won’t work and the process for getting things the way they were in the states is very difficult if not impossible. Do not import cars or motorcycles and do not import US-based stuff. Let it go. Get rid of as much shit as you can. Start anew.

I wish I could go back in time and do things different. I wouldn’t have not moved. I love it here but this journey has been rough. I have no doubts it will be worth it in the end it’s just torture now.

Monthly Expenses In Portugal Vs US

We’ve been living in Portugal now for more than eight months. Thought I’d throw some numbers together on what we pay for things here and what we used to pay for things in the U.S. Food is/was hard to quantify. Obviously it would be less here each month but I can’t give you a number. It’s also different post vs. pre covid since we would eat out a lot more pre-covid. Here we eat in a lot and eat out maybe once or twice a week. (I love cooking.)

In the states we had a single family home (four bedrooms, three bathrooms, basement, hot tub, garage) in the lovely Aspen Hill area in Rockville, Maryland. In Portugal we live in a condo (three bedrooms, two bathrooms).

Here’s what we used to pay in the US vs. Portugal. Costs are per month.

Utility Cost In US Cost In Portugal
Water $100 30€
Electricity & Gas $200 80€
HOA N/A 102€
Car Insurance $100 ???
Motorcycle Insurance $8 ???
Alcohol $223 120€
Property Tax $400 ???

Here are some caveats:

Electricity & Gas – Gas in Rockville was for hot water, stove, and heating. In Portugal, it’s just for hot water so it’s hard to quantify. Also when we got the hot tub in the states our electric bill went up a lot.

Alcohol – I’m factoring in going out and/or picking up a few six packs. I averaged my alcohol budget for two years in the states (average of $223 a month). In Portugal I’m estimating but I spend around 20€ every Thursday plus some extra here and there.

Car Insurance & Motorcycle Insurance – I do not have numbers for these yet as we still haven’t gotten my car or bike on the road yet. (See an earlier post but DO NOT COME TO PORTUGAL WITH CARS OR MOTORCYCLES!) Same with Property Tax as it’s a once a year thing here and we aren’t sure how much it will be but estimates are like 100€ a year.

Books I’ve Read

I never thought I would enjoy reading as much as I do. Honestly, when I would start to read a book it would take me months to finish it. I think the primary reason was because of work.

Now that I’m retired, I can actually enjoy things. Instead of my mind drifting away from what I was reading because I thought I need to do something better or need to get something else accomplished… in retirement I can finally just dive in.

I have joined a book club… the last thing I’d ever thought I’d say because of hating to read because of aforementioned reasons. Anyway, I thought I would gather an ongoing list of books that I’ve read. I have no idea how long this post will get. At some point I should probably turn it into a page…

* = book club discussion

  • Summer Nights At The Moonlight Hotel – Jane Castello
  • * One By One – Ruth Ware
  • * Verity – Colleen Hoover
  • A Flicker In The Dark – Stacy Willingham
  • Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama – Bob Odenkirk
  • Chase – D. L. Hays
  • All the Dexter books – Jeff Lindsay
    • Darkly Dreaming Dexter
    • Dearly Devoted Dexter
    • Dexter In The Dark
    • Dexter By Design
    • Dexter Is Delicious
    • Double Dexter
    • Dexter’s Final Cut
    • Dexter Is Dead

Weird Things You Learn From Pregnant People

I haven’t had any friends prego in a while but every time I do I learn something new. Pregnant people get like weird changes in their bodies. Besides dietary restrictions (no sandwich meat, no sushi), constant peeing, and anything medical, there are just certain changes that are really scary or unpleasant. I’m glad I was never pregnant.

Anyway, I thought I would list all the strange things that I’ve heard from my pregnant friends on what goes on with their bodies.

  • Your fingers swell up so you can’t wear a wedding ring.
  • The baby sucks all the calcium out of you so your teeth and bones become weaker. A friend of mine said she got a lot of cavities while pregnant.
  • Your ankles and feet swell.
  • Weird hair growth.

More when I can think of them.

Sooo glad I decided not to have kids!

Why It’s Hard For Me To Learn Português

I’ve been trying to learn Portuguese for a few months now. On Duolingo I completely switched from Spanish (which I had been doing for over two years on there) to completely Portuguese. I’m not doing bad with reading and writing but I suck at speaking and I really suck at listening.

But I figured out why I suck at speaking. When I was a kid, I had to attend speech therapy (or whatever they call it)… like a speech class. I was having trouble with my R’s and S’s with pronunciation. The S’s I would “shhh”. It was like drilled into me not to do “shhh” with S sounds…

Well… now… enter me learning Portuguese. There are A LOT of times you make the S “shhh” sound (example, where I live, “Lagos” is pronounced “Lagosh”). So now I need to retrain my brain to do that.

Ugh, if only I learned Portuguese from the get-go. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Watching Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope is the new NetFlix sensation (at least start of January 2023). It’s a good show. NetFlix encourages you to watch in any order. For me it didn’t seem like it was random. My order came as a few other articles said it came but other articles said NetFlix randomizes it.

I watched it in a random order anyway. Here’s the order I watched:

  1. Black – Starting point. Everyone starts here as it explains it.
  2. Green – 7 years before the heist.
  3. Blue – 5 days before the heist.
  4. Yellow – 6 weeks before the heist.
  5. Red – The morning after the heist.
  6. Pink – 6 months after the heist.
  7. Orange – 3 weeks before the heist.
  8. Violet – 24 years before the heist.
  9. White – The heist.

Watching Violet before White was definitely interesting. I did not like the job they did on Giancarlo Esposito. Come on man. You have like a lot of money and the best you can do is make his face look fatter? It’s a disgrace. I was also not happy with the acting in this episode. And the plot is really stupid. I honestly don’t know why Leo would blame Roger/Graham. At least Roger/Graham went back. He could have just left Leo there. I just honestly don’t get it. And that episode just proves to never bring your child into work.

It was sad to know how all the characters ended up in this order. I didn’t quite catch a few things but I was able to google it and figure out what I was missing.

All in all it was good. I like this format and I want to see more shows like this where you can watch at whatever order. It’s a nice break from most shows now that are episodic.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To Portugal

There are quite a lot of things I wish I knew before moving here. The journey still isn’t over yet as we’re still not settled into a place of our own. We are days away from closing on our condo we bought in Lagos. Getting this far has been a really difficult journey.

I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts on this as this process isn’t for the faint of heart and it has definitely been depressing, trying, challenging, and downright draining. It feels like the universe is against this decision I made and it’s trying to tell me to abandon hope of this dream.

Here are some things I wish I knew before and how much I’m so depressed about this difficult situation:

  • Getting stuff shipped to Portugal is a VERY DIFFICULT PROCESS.
    • Bri flew back to the states on December 3rd to try to get all the paperwork we needed together, titles mailed, inventory, organization, timing, etc. He STILL wasn’t able to do it in THREE WEEKS!
    • Bri flew back a few days before Christmas without having much progress on getting our stuff shipped here.
    • We had to go to the Junta to get a special form like four times. The shippers fucked it up, the Junta fucked it up, and the Junta had very difficult requirements for people to meet.
    • We paid another $2,000 around January then another $6,000 in June just to get our stuff due to the shippers delays. All done I’d say we paid around $30,000 just to get our stuff here. Not worth it.
    • UPDATE 6/13/2023: We finally got our stuff on May 30th 2023!
  • You STILL need a US address for a lot of things!
    • Shipping is a big one as they need to mail back the certificado de bagagem.
    • Having your mail forwarded somewhere. The USPS won’t forward to Portugal!
  • You need some people in the US to help you!
    • My sister was able to help me with the certificado de bagagem as she can mail things and it gets there a lot sooner (and cheaper) than from Portugal.
    • Brian’s parents have helped us a lot along the way. Our mail is forwarded to their house. We still use their address for official things that need a US address.
      • Working with the embassy requires a US address.
      • Shipping stuff!
  • The dollar to euro kills you. The conversion rate varies and it makes A HUGE difference.
    • Another reason Bri flew back to the States was to move our money from our US bank to our Portuguese bank. You can do this online but it is a lot easier to do it by going to your bank. Quicker too. Our big condo purchase we had a budget; we have exceeded it since the dollar dropped so much in value by the time we hit closing.
    • Having a US credit card doesn’t help. I do minor things with euros (cash) but a lot of things I put on the credit card. It does a poor exchange rate and might charge extra since I’m out of the US.
    • I’m not sure what others do. It really is like playing the stock market on how much it changes cause it changes constantly.
  • When buying a house or a condo there are A LOT of taxes and fees. We are paying 8% of the price in taxes. There are also other fees the buyer (me) needs to pay such as 1% for the lawyer, a notary fee of 1,000€, registration fee of 250€, legal fee of 6,458€. All of these are on top of the full amount which is paid directly to the seller. No money goes into an escrow or anything like in the US.
  • Finding things can be difficult.
    • Sometimes you need to know the right things to search for in google. Example is finding carpeting. We are carpet people. In Portugal (maybe even Europe… and the US is starting to do this too) people like hardwood. Carpeting isn’t common. Finding a place that does wall to wall carpeting has been challenging. Turns out you need to google “custom carpeting” to find places that can hopefully do what they do in the states. We’re still not over this hurdle!
    • Finding a furniture place is proving to be a little difficult too. There are quite a few places that do “custom furniture” and it can be very expensive! We luckily found a few places like Marlo (in the US) that has furniture you can buy already made.
  • Without transportation, some things aren’t accessible.
  • Getting your cell phone switched was challenging. I wanted to keep my US number so I can keep up with friends and family.
    • When I originally arrived here I used my roaming which was $10 a day. Not ideal.
    • I bought a sim card for 15€ for a month with 6 gigs. Great deal!
      • Renewing this was a pain in the ass if I didn’t want to buy a new one every month.
    • I had to port my US number to another service (leaving AT&T). I needed to provide the latest bill, your account number, password, and all your information. I’m using iPlum (which turns out to be really shitty). This porting over process can take more than a week.
      • My US calls and texts are through an app on my phone (iPlum).
      • iPlum is charging me $108 a year for their service.
      • According to their Fair Usage Policy for Unlimited Plans “unlimited plans” are limited to 2,500 “credits” a month. Sending or receiving a text is a “credit.” Every minute you spend on the phone is a “credit.” I had to buy extra “credits” since I ran out last month and my service was going to be suspended. I bought $20 worth of “credits” which gives me 2,000 extra. It’s bullshit.
      • The iPlum app is a piece of shit!
        • Half the time I don’t know who is calling (I don’t recognize many phone numbers).
        • When someone sends a picture, I don’t know who sent it.
        • Sometimes I can’t even tell who sent the text message as it’s just a phone number.
        • It’s clunky as I need to touch many things and menus just to send a text or make a call.
        • I had to change my credentials since my phone is now Portuguese number and NOT US so it thought all my contacts where Portuguese numbers.
        • The calls drop sometimes and it’s difficult to hear. I have my volume to the max and I still can’t hear my uncle very well.
        • UPDATE 6/13/2023: I currently cannot text since iPlum has now required registration which I can’t prove that I’m an individual without paying a lot of money. It’s ridiculous.
    • Bottom line: be prepared for a few days of hardship and stress and don’t get iPlum. They’re a rip off and a piece of shit. I will be replacing them next year.
  • You get nickeled and dimed a lot when going through these processes. It feels like death by 1,000 cuts.
  • Don’t import cars or motorcycles over.
    • We did some research online and it felt like it was going to be a fairly simple process. It isn’t. We’re in the tenth circle of hell with this.
    • The government agencies (IMT) and Hyundai and Honda do not help you.
    • Your vehicles might need to be converted and it’s just a miserable situation. It isn’t worth it. Sell your shit. Let it go. Don’t bring it for the love of God.

I will be updating this post maybe from time to time. Many times I’m getting and got depressed about everything and it feels hopeless a lot. I wish I could go back in time and change some of my decisions.

So far I would change:

  • I would have sold/given away a lot more stuff and went with UPackWeShip or something similar.
  • I would have sold my car and my bike. It would have killed me because I love them but I would have.
  • I would have quit my job sooner in order to accomplish more in the states and have done more research before I went over so I could have been more ready for the bureocracy which is Portugal.

I miss my friends and my sister a lot.

Roles My Sister Should Have Played

As many of you know I have a very talented sister, Stacy. She’s been doing theater and acting since high school. She double majored in theater and English! She’s amazing.

I first saw her act in some high school play. I couldn’t remember what it was but she played a kid who got hit by another kid. She acted very well and I was actually quite scared for her as she had to fall off a chair. I felt like getting up on stage and punching the kid who hit her but I new it was an act and she did it perfectly.

Since she’s had a few minor things going on but I can’t help wonder what she could have done if she had the opportunities. A few key roles I would have loved to see my sister play, just to name a few, are:

  • Lumen Pierce – Dexter (season 5) – Julia Styles sucked playing this role. She was too bossy, too pushy, too needy, and too like not playing the part well. It just felt like 10 Things I Hate About You (a movie which I loved) but it was the same acting. My sister could have done this sooooo much better.
  • Jessica Hamby – True Blood (all seasons) – I felt like Deborah Ann Woll played this role well but I know my sister could have been better. Most actors on True Blood (except for a few) did not do southern accents. Even Anna Paquin only did a southern accent sporadically. The only two characters I can think of in that show that really did the southern accent like all the time were Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten; who is fucking Australian!). My sister could have totally done a southern accent.
  • Kate – Drinking Buddies – I did not like Olivia Wilde in this role. It just didn’t ring true to me. It felt like she was overacting a lot of the time. My sister could have played this role. I could have seen it done better by her.

Expenses Through The First Month Of Living In Portugal

One of the many reasons I moved here is the cost of living is very low. That is put to the test by actually living here. Could we do it living on our investments?

After the first month I can safely say YES. I’ve been keeping track of all of our expenses (except rent) on google sheets. I logged every receipt and every time I spent cash and would do a tally every so often to get an average.


Start Date End Date Total Number Of Days Average Per Day
10/31/2022 11/16/2022 €557.81 16 €34.86
11/17/2022 11/26/2022 €341.77 9 €37.97
11/26/2022 12/1/2022 €83.97 5 €16.79
€983.55 30 €32.79

This list doesn’t include the following:

  • €1,100/month for our AirBnB in Quarteira
  • Around $250 we spent on our cellphone apps to keep our number and to be able to call and text people in the US
  • Streaming services (we currently have HBO Max which is €45 a year, Netflix which is €15 a month, and NFL GamePass which is €60 a year)
    • Side note: We can get what they call SkyShowtime (which we did for a few days then realized it didn’t have ALL Showtime on it). This service is very new so they’re still working out the bugs. We might subscribe to something else which gets us Showtime/Paramount next year.

A lot of this cost is miscellaneous expenses such as:

  • A new jacket (I lost both my jackets somewhere along the way to our AirBnB the first day)
  • A new pair of shoes (I think we’re going to need a lot of shoes since we do a lot of walking)
  • We went to eat out maybe 6 or 7 times (plus a few random cafés, pastelarias, and bars)
  • The first two days we had a rental car which was €250 to rent and €50 in gas
  • Two sim cards which have 15 gigs for €15 a piece
  • I drink A LOT of juice!

We could have been a lot more frugal (like not going out to eat or cafés or drinking so much cerveja) but I don’t want to do that. We could have also spent a lot more.

The US dollar to date is also a little bit weaker than the Euro so that total isn’t in US dollars.

I’m going to continue to do this for a few months until I feel comfortable and to get a good idea of how much it costs to live here for two people and two dogs.

Things I Miss About The United States

Now that I’m all settled in Portugal, there are a few things that I should note that I miss about the United States.

I love living here. The beautiful weather, the friendly people, the bug-free environment (I’ve seen a few bugs but they are very rare), the affordability, the slower pace of it all, the safety… there are a lot of things that are just awesome.

Being said, I do miss the following:

  • Friends & Family – Of course I miss my friends and my family. I’m hoping some of them come to visit.
  • Variety – You can find almost anything here. However, it’s not in the variety that it is in the United States. For instance in the US you would have entire isles at the supermarket dedicated to one or two items but you had your choice of brand, shape, quantity, etc. Not so much in Portugal. Supermarkets do not have this. You are lucky if you get your choice between one or two things of the same thing.
  • Vegetarianism – In the US Beyond Meat and Impossible are almost everywhere. They’re not here at all. You’re hard pressed to find a veggie burger of any kind. It is very possible to be vegan or vegetarian here though, of course. Lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Vegetarian Chinese – One of my favorite restaurants was Yuan Fo in Rockville that had the best vegetarian Chinese food.
  • Land O’ Lakes Butter – Heidi and I call it our “special butter.” We have Planta here (which is a lot like Promise) so it’s pretty good but not the same.
  • Ease Of Cellphone Use – Getting my number ported over (I might blog about it later to try to help others) is a pain in the butt! Cellphones never used to always “work” in the US (we had Google Fi for a while which was a piece of shit; so was T-Mobile when I was in college) but here, porting over my US number is an issue. Cellphone service overall is great though! Data, calls, texts everywhere! No deadzones yet.
  • One-Stop Shopping – There are no “big stores” like Target or Wal-mart here. You can absolutely find what you need (baring a few items) but you might have to go to a few places to find specific things.
  • Specific Items – We haven’t been able to find the following: maple syrup and yellow squash.
  • Things We’re Going To Get Back – When we move out of our AirBnB, our next place should have an ice maker and a dryer. We have to hang our clothes out to dry. Which is great for the environment but they don’t dry very well with us being on the first floor. There isn’t a breeze. We also miss our stuff.

Quortle/Duotrigordle Starting Words

Brian, his brother, a few friends, and I all do the Wordle. A few of us actually do the Quortle (a four word game; 9 guesses) and Duotrigordle (a 32 word game; 39 guesses). In all these games, it is helpful to start out with eliminating and finding as many letters as possible. In Wordle, since we play on hard mode, you cannot do this easily as any letter you get right needs to be placed in the next word you guess. With the other two, that isn’t a good strategy nor is it enforced as there is no hard mode.

Anyway, I decided to make a post about three starting words that use a total of 15 letters to help eliminate letters and guess words for the two for-mentioned games. Here’s my list which I alternate:


These are just a few that I’ve come up with and I come up with some a few times a week. Let me know if there are three words you always start out with on these games. I would like to expand this list.

Moving To Portugal

I’ve decided to blog about this! I’m not sure who reads my blog anymore but here it is.

Bri and I have decided to move to Portugal. The plan has been in the works now for a while. Here I will document what steps we’ve done and where we’re at in the process.


We visited Portugal in December 2021 and decided it would be a place we would like to live. For various reasons, Portugal has been our number one retirement destination. It is cheap to live, has great healthcare, great culture, speaks mostly English (thought we will be learning Portuguese).

Time: 10 days in Portugal.

Choosing A Lawyer

We interviewed a few different lawyers and figured out (roughly) what we need to do. We met with four different immigration lawyers (all in Lisbon) and received quotes.

Time: 4 months (finding and interviewing lawyers). This process might be faster for others.

Signing Up With An Immigration Lawyer

On Tuesday, February 22, 2022 we paid and sent over our information to the immigration lawyer we chose. We sent them over pictures of our drivers licenses and passports as well as some other information they asked for. We paid around $3,000 initially. The remaining is around $1,000.

Time: 1 day.
Cost: around $4,000

Getting NIF Numbers

The migration attorney is in charge of getting us Tax ID (NIF) numbers. We need these numbers to open a bank account (which the attorney will also do). It took them around two weeks to get us these numbers. We received them on Monday, March 7, 2022. The attorney now needs our United States Social Security cards which we will send over today.

Time: 2 weeks.

Getting A Bank Account

We obviously needed to open up a Portuguese bank account there. In order to do this, we need various forms and other information. We had to send them almost everything… copies of our passports, social security cards, proof of income, our last few paychecks, our tax returns for various previous years… it is a lot.

On top of which, they needed INKED documents so we had to print out various documents (bank account information with Millennium) and send it to them… like actually send to Portugal.

We sent these documents (the first time) on Monday, April 4th, 2022. We eagerly awaited their arrival. We sent them through USPS. No tracking info. It cost around $20 to send.

By April 18, 2022, our lawyers were wondering where they were. We decided to print out these documents AGAIN and resign and send them. We did this on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 and sent them out this time through UPS.

This process is finally finished but we still need to fund the account all the way.

Time: 2 months

Putting Money Into The Account

Once we finally got access to the account, we had to put money in it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t cheap. Bri created a Wise account to transfer money from his account to the new Portuguese account. He also couldn’t initially log into the account so he had to call the bank.

We completed this in a week though we need more time to transfer funds as the Wise app takes some money and doesn’t allow large transfers.

We are also playing the market a bit and only transferring money when the Euro is at a better position so we get more Euros for our buck.

Time: 1 month

Finding A Place

Well, we have to find a place to live, right? In order to be accepted, we need a place to stay. We initially started looking on our own but we decided to go with a realtor. We hope to not have to fly over there to look at places. Right now it’s a very busy time. It also costs money and time to go over there to look.

Reading online, it can take a while to find a place. This is why we are hiring a realtor to do the finding for us. We are looking in the Algarve (which is really hot right now because of summer).

Our realtor sent us a listing and we wanted to pick a place from their list but none of the places were available. I don’t know why they would send us stuff that they didn’t first check was available.

We ended up going a different approach through our lawyers. Our lawyers were able to find us a room to rent with a lease. We will be using that address and lease as our housing requirement. As far as a real place to live, we will be staying in an AirBnB somewhere in the Algarve until we buy a place.

Cost: $133 (for realtor to find places)
Time: 3 months

Fingerprinting/Background Check

Us living in the DC area, we kind of have an advantage. It was really easy to make an appointment somewhere close to get the FBI background investigation and fingerprinting scheduled. We did that on Wednesday, May 11th.

Cost: $160
Time: less than a week

Getting Our Pets Over

More time and research needs to go into this (and I have a checklist for them). So far I’ve bought two dog crates and am getting them used to them. Unfortunately, they will need to go in the cargo hold.

Getting the pets over is a very tricky process. Portugal is a rabies-free country so they both need to be up-to-date on their rabies vaccine. However, they also need to be microchipped which needs to take place BEFORE their rabies vaccine.

We needed to do the following:

  • Crate train the pets – This was a difficult process with Lando. Wiki was aces. Lando would whine all the time in his crate and would become destructive. He destroyed a plastic bowl that was left in his crate. He also destroyed a blanket we had overtop of the crate.
  • Find a USDA approved vet & make an appointment – This process was more difficult than it sounds as there are not a lot of places that still do it. They need to go to this vet within 10 days of travel.
    • The vet did a lot of paperwork and research for us. Lando was an issue as his microchipping occurred AFTER his rabies vaccine. We needed to get him another rabies vaccine which had to happen 21 days prior to his vet appointment.
    • We told the vet about Lando’s anxiety and she gave us eight pills. We tried one and that made him calm down. Before the plane, we gave him a pill which hopefully worked.
  • Get the USDA certificate certified – The vet looked up what we needed to do. Once we got the certificate we had to overnight it to a place in Albany, NY that certifies certificates and have a return overnight envelope to send it back to us.
  • Properly label the crates – The crates that I bought came with “LIVE ANIMALS” stickers so we put those on the crates. We also put stickers with our phone numbers as well as Bri’s dad’s number. We also put a bag of food duct taped to the top of the cages just in case.
  • Pet trackers – For piece of mind, we bought Samsung smart tags for both our pets. We tested them out first and they worked! It just needs to have a Samsung phone around to find the pets.
  • Call the airline – We flew out with TAP so we needed to call them AFTER we booked our tickets to tell them we had two dogs. They asked about breeds and sizes and sizes of their crates.
    • We needed to arrive there two hours before our flight. We went to the luggage counter with them and our luggage.
    • We rolled them in then later took off the wheels on the crate. The airport took them on a cart which we followed.
    • The airport/TSA scanned their crates. We had to zip tie the doors closed. TSA/the airport said they could no longer touch the animals once we had them zip tied.
    • We tracked them and after an hour of no activity on their tags, they finally appeared underneath us! We were the last ones on the plane on purpose so we could see them get loaded. They took them out in this van and loaded each one up on the belt. A lady then walked both of them into the cargo of the plane and I assume strapped them down.
    • At the airport in Lisbon, we asked where to pick up our pets. The airport person said to wait by a door (funny story to ask me later). The door eventually opened and we retrieved our dogs, safe and sound. They couldn’t wait to get out of their cages and had to go to the bathroom really bad.

Cost: $263 (for two dog crates) + $618 (USDA vet) + $83 (for certified overnight certificate) + $1,600+ (for the dogs to be in luggage)

Getting A Place To Rent

We contacted a realtor a month and a half before our VFS appointment. She sent us some things but nothing met our requirements or it turned out to be unavailable. She got another realtor involved which had a few places. However, even after making a decision, the properties were unavailable.

How We Eventually Got A Place

Days turned into weeks. The final week we needed a place, we were freaking out. I was reaching other realtors in Portugal to see if they could help.

We finally told our lawyers we didn’t think we were going to make the deadline. She offered us an alternative and we took it. We have a lease for a place in Porto.

The place in Porto isn’t a place that we actually stayed. We ended up getting an AirBnB for two months in Quartiera. We then bought a place in Lagos.

This was a very difficult part of the process! It is NOT easy at all.

Cost: $625
Time: 2 months

Getting Travelers Insurance

It only took a phone call. But we did some research before we decided on a company. We chose Mutuaide and made the call to have our insurance start on October 1, 2022. No deductible. Best part it was only 1,200 euros for two people for a year! If health insurance was that cheap in this country, we would stay.

Cost: $1250 (1,200 euros)
Time: 1 day

Getting Ready For VFS Appointment

This took a long time. We needed to print out many documents. Our list (per person) was:

  • Application for National Visa
  • Passports
  • Two passport sized photos – we only needed one but they said to bring two
  • Colored copy of passports  – we needed them notarized; which we didn’t know; but luckily, the person was able to copy ours and notarize them herself
  • Personal statement
  • Proof of financial means – we brought bank statements, a letter from our property manager, and account statements from accounts we have which generate income
  • NIF documents – we got these first thing from the lawyers; this was one of the easiest things as they did the work
  • FBI criminal records – see above
  • Release/request for Portugal criminal record check
  • Proof of travelers insurance – see above
  • Proof of accommodation – see above
  • Copy of marriage certificate – they did not ask for this but we provided it anyway
  • Representation letter – our lawyers provided this for it; they didn’t ask for it but we provided it to them anyway
  • Two money orders – one each person; made out to Embassy of Portugal; both for $95.19

Now all that’s left to do was wait.

Time: months (see above steps)
Cost: $95.19 + $95.19 + $150.38

Selling Our Home

Of course we need to sell our current house before we make the move. It might seem a little pointless to put this in here but I feel it’s important. We had to find some realtors and vet them.

We finally decided to go with a local one recommended from a friend. This same friend also will do the photography and video of our home. We listed our house in August.

After a week and a half of being on the market, we finally got a bid! After a lot of negotiating and the home inspector finding a lot of shit, we settled on a price. We closed at the end of September, 2022.

Time: 6 weeks

The Waiting

After our VFS appointment (mentioned above), the long wait happens… We went through DC which is usually faster than other places but that wasn’t the case for us.

We kept checking on our application online but no update. Just kept saying it had been forwarded to the embassy.

Finally on August 2nd (right as we were leaving for GenCon) we got an email requesting our 2021 tax returns. We quickly gathered the information, went over to Brian’s parents, and scanned it to a PDF. Within an hour of their email request, we had sent it back to them.

We waited another long time to get any feedback back. We emailed them and called several times in September as it was going on 90 days since our VFS appointment.

FINALLY on Monday, September 19, 2022, we got an email saying we were approved! The email came in the morning right before my standups. Finally a weight had been lifted and the long wait was over!

Brian mailed our passports a few hours after we got the good news. They stamped with our Visa and we will have the ability to get into Portugal on our six month D7 Visa.

Time: 95 days + 4 days (we sent our passports on September 19 and got them back September 22)

Getting To Portugal

Bri made flights at the beginning of October for the end of October.

We hung out with a lot of people in this month. We went on a kid of “going away tour” and saw a lot of family and friends before we left. It was quite sweet. I loved seeing all my good friends one last time. We saw:

  • Uncle George in North Carolina
  • Heidi in Virginia
  • Bryan S – We hung out with Bryan S who lived close to Bri’s parents a few times since he was so close
  • Megan & Matt in New Orleans
  • Our local people: Helen, Andrei, Jason & Brittany, Aaron & Sabrina, Shawn & Jen, Eric & Delaura, Joe & Kate

Like I stated earlier, we booked tickets for October 30th. We flew out really late and arrived in Lisbon on October 31st. We rented a car and got down to the Algarve (lots of steps before, see the pets). We checked into our AirBnB on November 1st.