Sunday, October 31, 2004

Taglia di Zucca

Happy Halloween! I found a pumpkin here so I made the traditional Jack-o-lantern. The zucce (pumpkins) here arn't made for carving. This walls are too thick. I could only do the most basic shapes. I also need some pumpkin recipes. This thing cost 10 euros so I plan to eat it after tonight. Posted by Hello


Bring me my coffee, it’s time to wake the dead

“Coffee Song” by Gordon Bonham Blues Band

I think I have officially joined the millions addicted to coffee. Before I moved to Italy I had never drank a cup of coffee. I didn’t even like the smell, but at work it was hard to keep explaining this every time everyone went to get coffee. Eventually I was having one a day, and it was a cappuccino (frothy milk and sugar to kill the taste of the coffee). Then 2 in the morning and now I’ve added 1 in the afternoon. Cappuccino has given way to coffee and sugar only (of course you can’t have a cappuccino in the afternoon, anyway, it's morning drink they say). Now the final straw, I have bought a Bialetti Moka Express coffee machine to make my own on the weekends (I had been going out for it). This machine is so simple and ALL Italians agree that it is THE machine for home coffee brewing. So I have been completely assimilated into the Italian coffee drinking world.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Waving Lollipops

I haven’t blogged in a while so here’s a little update. Right outside my window the Polizia have set up a little checkpoint. If you haven’t been to Italy (I think some other European countries are like this too) then you haven’t seen how the police will stand by the side of the road and wave a big lollipop at you. They have this white wand with red on one side and green on the other. And it’s just best described as a big lollipop. When they want you to pull over they wave the red side at you and point to the curb. I’ve never been pulled over by the police so I don’t know what they are doing. If you’re not speeding then you’re in the way of everyone else. And most street signs and lane markings are just keeping the place looking orderly. It seems like whom they stop is a pretty random thing. Now, I have been pulled over by the Guardia di Finanza. I call them the “Finance Police” but they are really more about customs and I guess fraud. The guy who stopped me just checked my truck to make sure I wasn’t carrying drugs or something illegal. Considering it was 2:00 AM and a deserted highway, I guess he had a right to think I might be trying to ship something illegal. Of course, who stands by the side of deserted highway at 2:00 AM waving a big lollipop. In his defense he did also have a small automatic machine gun if the lollipop didn’t work. So you have to take these guys seriously and thenl I saw their gunboats and armored personnel carriers. The Finance Police are pretty tough, all this hardware and they also check receipts, even for something as small as an ice cream cone you must get a receipt, which reminds me. I need to go get a gelato. Ciao.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Urchin News

Well it’s Sunday evening so routine dictates a blog. Latest things since Friday… More Ultimate, Pedro organized a practice yesterday. I’ve never been so excited to do drills. It was great. There were two new kids with some height, which was good to see. One of them seems to have a good sense for the game already. Also there was a little kid with good throws that could be a natural handler. It seems the class in Lecce will happen, yeah, but as the Italians say “presto detto” (easier said than done). Pedro now is trying to work out the day and time and the other specifics. More on this later.
I’m watching the calcio highlights and Lecce has won again! 4 to 1 over Messina! They are second in Series A, which is incredible since they were near the bottom at the end of last year. Someday I’ll say that about the Bengals, but I won’t hold my breath. Today I won, by finding a sea urchin at the sea for my tank. It wasn’t easy to catch especially for something that moves so slowly, but now I have a big black sea urchin for the tank. Most Italians would eat this guy but I would rather watch him in the tank. Maybe I’ll but up a photo later. That’s all for now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Live Music Night

Here is Municipale Balcanica. Now, I counted 9 people in the band but you can only see 5 of them here. Posted by Hello

Balkan Music

Another concert at the Big Ben and it seems worthy of writing about. No, I didn’t get drunk this time and I still had a great time. This week it was a band called “Municipale Balcanica” which means Balkan Government, I think. For people in Indianapolis just imagine a band like “Polka Boy” only from Yugoslavia and they stick to “their” music. No singing just horns and drums and at a pretty hectic pace. The place was more crowded than I have ever seen and complete strangers were talking to me like they never have in past. Maybe my Italian is getting better or maybe it was the festive atmosphere. I have a picture of the band this time and I’ll put it up. Allessandro was telling me that only the Big Ben has bands like this. Other places don’t have live music from other areas. I still have to admit that the crowd was the most unusual I’ve seen. I mean this because Italians do tend to look alike down here and I think even they will admit it. But this group had more piercings, tattoos, dreadlocks, and less mainstream clothes. I don’t think a single guy was wearing a green and yellow shirt that said “Brazile” on it. Unbelievable , I know.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Zucchini and a Meeting of the Minds

The “Meeting of the Minds” refers to Pedro and myself. Today I met with Pedro to talk about the Beach Ultimate Frisbee Tournament he runs here in the south every year called Pasticciotto. He has already made a good start and seems to have everything under control so I started this webpage to let everyone know what was going on:

He amazed me even more as the University of Lecce (about 30 minutes away) may offer a course in Ultimate this winter. Pedro is meeting with the president of the university on Friday. If successful then Lecce would be only the second university in Italy have a team. Bologna is the only university that has a team right now. I would like to help him but he seems to know what he’s doing. He had the president of University of Bologna call the president of University of Lecce to tell him how the team has worked out well and all the positive aspects. If this works out then I will have a place to go, practice Ultimate, and help out with the new team. This would be incredible. Pedro himself may move to Lecce but not until September of next year, so I would help out with the team and he would continue with SalentoDisc until he moves. All good news!
The other topic of this is zucchini. I went overboard at the farmer’s market this morning. I think the price of san marzano tomatoes is at it’s lowest (1 euro for 3 kilograms!) so I bought too many tomatoes and the zucchini looked great so I went overboard there too. Now the tomatoes I can make into sauce and freeze but the zucchini I don’t know how to store for a long time so I’ll be eating them all the time for the next few days.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Delete this later

Well it's rather late and I'll be interested to read this tomorrow. Tonight I went to the Big Ben Pub and much to my delight the rockest blues band in Brindisi was playing. This three man band is just bass, drums, and lead guitar and I'm not sure they have a name. I gather from the groupies (about 12) that this guy is probably the best guitarist in Brindisi. I will say he seemed pretty dam good and I'm pretty sure it's not the beer talking, but I could be wrong. He did very clean guitar solos and I was particularly taken with their version of "Hey Joe" unfortunately they really couldn't sing but this problem was solved when someone from the crowd joined theme for a song or two. With this band brought a crowd of people that meant that Daniele ("e" means a guy) and Octavio needed help. This meant Daniela ("a" female) was working for the first time since the Big Ben opened after the summer. For some odd reason I saw it as a good time hit on her for most of the night. NOW I know she has a boyfriend, although I would saw that too I think with how I was acting. Daniele and I were "moshing" at some point to blues. Anyway it's getting later and I had a good night. It's hard to believe my 33rd birthday is right around the corner. Maybe that had some influence. That and the monumental agreement we made at work the other day. I hope I don't throw up later....

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Second Place

Here is the second place winner. This is a lantana flower on my balcony. The bush was covered in them until a windy day made most of the flowers "imperfect" except this one. This plant has done well over the summer. I have even seen humming bird moths visiting it from time to time. I hope it makes it through Christmas without me around to water it. Posted by Hello

Fish Picture Winner

Here's the winner of the picture contest. I saw this fish Sunday morning while at the Torre Gauceto park. I believe this is the same species of fish that I have in my tank except the one in my tank is much smaller and doesn't show the colors that this one has. Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sunday Ramblings

Well it’s a slow Sunday afternoon so I thought I would add a little from things I did or noticed this weekend. Saturday afternoon I went for a run. I go from my apartment up the Via Appia to a park. I do 3 laps around the park and then come back. For the most part it’s a quiet easy run if you go between 1 and 4 when no cars are on the road. I also marvel at the stores as I go. A couple of interesting things I pass are a prison and a butcher shop that specializes in horsemeat. Now the prison isn’t that obvious. It could be a police station or other military post but I translated the writing on it and it’s a prison. The butcher shop with horsemeat also reminds me that I have had horse at least twice that I know of so far. It seems pretty good, nothing special, certainly too good to be dog food.
Speaking of food. Is the Atkins diet still the rage in the US? I hope not. Look at Italy. These people live on the ANTI-Atkins diet. Pasta, pasta, bread, cheese, and coffee and yet they are a lot thinner than Americans. I could only say that it’s because they get out and walk around, every night. I think we Americans have to build our cities in ways that we can walk from place to place or something. I can’t stand the idea of us as a nation being fatter in the future. I won’t have it!
Enough ranting. On a lighter note, maybe this is a positive difference between Italy and the US. I heard a song on the radio that sounded kind of familiar. Now I know why, it’s Duran Duran with a new album out and they have a song in the top 5 over here. Please tell me this isn’t happening in the US. Another song that I like is from REM’s new album, the song is “Leaving New York” and it’s getting a lot play here. So we have positive and negatives to every side.
I’m going to try a poll here. Let me know if you would like the next picture I post to be either:
A) a close up of a lantana flower on my balcony or
B) a picture of a fish I saw this morning while poking around in the sea.
Vote by Wednesday for it to count.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Ostuni sunset

Here is another photo for everyone. This town is Ostuni which is called "La Città Bianca". It's about 30 minutes north of me and it's a perfect place to watch the sun go down. I was trying to top the photo I took from this very spot when Lori and Kent were here, but I don't think I have. I still like the photo. I also know the way to this spot without driving all over town now. Someday I hope to get up early and get a sunrise shot because I bet it looks great with the first light hitting the buildings on the hill. Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Jeff back in Puglia

Well I'm back at home after visiting most of the great Greek temples located in Sicily. It was nice to see Laura again and kid around with Americans. I'm sorry but my humor is lost on Italians, but I'm working on that. On the way back here I passed Mt. Etna at night. I saw an incredible sight of lava glowing orange down the side of the mountain. Unfortunately, it seemed everytime I could stop on the Autostrada there wasn't a clear view for a picture. I hope to have another chance later, but it was a very eerie sight. It didn't surprise me to see this because I read about such things on: . Just click on the "breaking news" and it tells you everything that is happening with volcanoes around the world. Right now it's covering Mt. St. Helens more than what you read in the news.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Selinunte Group Photo

This is a group photo at Selinunte. The kids from Alabama weren't "templed out" yet, but there was more in store as we hadn't been to Agrigento yet. Posted by Hello

Welcome to Sciacca

Cousin Laura and I pose for a photo because this is town our grandmother's parents were from. We drove through town but evidently it's a one way town because before we knew it we were through. Then we had to catch up with her group. I didn't see anyone that could be a relative...Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Palermo and Cousin

The last post was written last night. Today I walked to the top of the rock that Cefalu (Salute) is named for. It was a tough hike with legs were aching on the trip down. The town is also very nice but a little touristy.
A short drive to Palermo and now I'm at the Hotel Moderno waiting for my cousin to arrive and I'm hiding from the midday sun. It's only really hot in the sun. In the shade or with a breeze and it's fine, so I'll relax a little and wait for the shadows to get a little longer before heading out. I'm tempted to put some photos up but I don't want to be on the computer that long. I just like the idea of using my wireless internet card to bog from almost anywhere I go. Technology is so cool... When it works...

Jeff not in Puglia

I’m writing this from Cefalù. Excuse me. Doesn’t this town sound a little like a sneeze? Actually it’s a neat town on the north coast of Sicily and Cefalù is greek or latin for head. This relates to the town because there is a big rock behind it that could look like a head at the right angle. How did I get here? By driving, a lot. It was fun except for a few things. I didn’t like being stuck behind the pig trucks on the A3. They smell bad and I think I was stuck behind 2 different trucks through 2 construction zones. Shouldn’t these pigs be headed to Parma to be made into ham? Then I learned that the A20 doesn’t go all the way to Palermo. I wouldn’t have minded but it added time to the end of the trip, which is always the last thing you want to do. You think you’re almost there and the road ends. Instead of cruising at 140 km/hr you’re stuck behind a bus going 40 km/hr. Splitting headache. Time for a pizza and beer.