Tuesday, March 29, 2005

State Side Visit

Well my visit to the States for my brother’s wedding is over. I’m back in Italy now. I wanted to write something while I was in America but there never really seemed to be time. I thought I was going to be sitting around doing nothing for most the week but that’s not how it worked out. The only thing I had planned to do was to go up to Indianapolis to see friends up there. I won’t want to try to cover everything so I’ll just summarize.
First of all, the wedding since it was the whole reason for the trip. Everything seemed to come together perfectly. Pam seemed to positively glow in the forest in her white dress under the overcast skies (which is actually better light for pictures like that). I think the photos are going to really show this. My brother held up under the pressure and was much more relaxed than I expected. It was incredible to see everyone together and realize how much bigger my family is now. You tend to dwell on the past and how some of my grandparents and older relatives are no longer around. Now I realize that all I have to do is look around there and realize that my family is just as big as ever, maybe bigger.
It’s funny because I didn’t get to go to Indianapolis as much as I wanted because I had to borrow one of my parents’ cars. It’s very strange to be in your 30s and have to ask your parents to use the car. Yes, I could have rented one, but it’s a little too expensive because I don’t have car insurance (the company pays for it on the company car). On the weekends I had my sister and Kent to drive me around in their BMW 525i. Now they have a car worthy of that big new garage they built! All in all it was pretty good trip and I managed to see a lot of people and relax, so it was a great vacation. The thing is my next scheduled trip back is for Travis’s wedding but that’s not until November. It sure seems like I should be back before then. Also, just to let you know my recurring stomachache seems to have disappeared since I returned. I worry there is something about American food that may not agree with me anymore or it could have happened because I went off of coffee while I was in the US. Either way I feel fine now. “Tutto a posto”.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The UK and Name that Airport

Well I’m back. I went to England for work. I arrived early to take in a few sights. This trip presented my first chance to drive in England. The experience of being on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road is very strange but not that hard to handle. I think most people reading this will agree that the English are in the minority and therefore on the wrong side, in both cases. My biggest problem was getting a feel for the clutch on this car, a Peugeot 206.
Everything happens to me so on the first day trying to adjust to this driving style I had an accident. Hey, wait! IT WASN’T MY FAULT! Listen to this… I was stuck in traffic looking for a parking space in Oxford. I look to my right and the lady is pointing at me and saying something. I look behind me just in time to see a huge BMW 5 series back out of a parking spot and into my back bumper. He was in such a hurry (with people jockeying for his spot) that he didn’t see my little yellowish-green Peugeot. We checked out our vehicles and they were fine so we drove our separate ways. I didn’t even get his parking space so I had to keep circling. I think it’s great to say I had an accident on the first day, since no damage done. I spent the night in Oxford and it is a neat little college town. The pubs were clean, nice, but expensive. The following day I drove to Cirenchester “the capital of the Cotswalds” and then on to Birmingham to work. It was interesting because the street signs just said “B’ham”. You better know where you’re going.

Name that Airport
I just saw in the paper that there is a new airport being built in Bari. Right now they are holding a contest to name the airport. The government has purposed “Aeroporto degli Ulivi” which means “Airport of the Olives” so it sounds like they need some help. Usually airports are named after famous local people so Bari is screwed there. If you think of anything then let me know and I’ll fill out the form in the paper and send it in. Before you get too excited it doesn’t seem to have a reward except to know you named the airport.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Questura Lottery

I think I may have whined about the Questura (Police Station) some time ago but I don’t recall. Today I went to pick up my Permesso di Soggiorno (permit to live in Italy) for this year. This pickup was in record time. I think I was in and out in 15 minutes. Here’s the dilemma. Last Friday I waited over an hour with my number in hand only to find out when I finally got to the window that the Permesso wasn’t ready yet (even though I was there on the date they said it would be ready). This week I knew it was ready (friend of a friend who used to be in the Polizia) so I was ready to wait and actually get something for my patience this time. I showed up at exactly the same time as last week and there was no one waiting. Last week the place was a madhouse and this week it was a cakewalk. I’ve had this happen before and I still can’t explain it. Some days are mass confusion and others are calm, but you can't predict it. The office is only open 9-12 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so you can understand why it gets busy and the same people are always working there so I don’t believe that’s the key. It just seems to be a lottery. One day everyone decides to go. You can’t tell by the cars outside because the parking lot was completely full, as usual. I know now from experiences that if it’s busy and you can wait then come back another day. You’re fighting a losing battle on the busy days. More people will cut in front of you and the people behind the desk seem less sympathetic, less helpful. Yep, come back another day if you can although… it can be entertaining to watch others argue for a simple little piece of paper that most people don’t get anyway. You know there are more Americans living and working in Italy illegally than any other nationality. Well, I’m not one of them!!!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Salento Disc

A photo of the new Salento Disc. Sorry about the glare near the bottom. The discs are on sale now!!! It says (in Salento slang) "The sun, the sea, the wind, and your salento disc ...." Posted by Hello

Looooong Exposure Shot

This picture was an experiment with long exposures that I was doing with my digital camera from my balcony. I need a real tripod so I can try this other places too. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

TV Wars

Just a little note on what I've seen on TV lately. One channel is having 5 nights of the San Remo music festival here in Italy. It's kind of like the Grammies and American Idol rolled into 5 nights in a row. Lori, you'll be happy to know Francesco Renga is leading the men's vocal category. For some reason Mike Tyson appeared on this show briefly and did short version of "Volare" which gives me nightmares just thinking about it (I read about it in the paper). By some strange coincidence another channel is showing all the Rocky movies in a row at the same time slot as San Remo. Tonight is Rocky III. I may tune in to see what Mr. T sounds like in Italian. Funny thing is I think I understand the Italian Sylvester Stallone better than the original.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Things new to me

This post goes along with yesterday’s midpoint post.
Simple things I’ve never done until 18 months ago (some of these I now do everyday) in no particular order:
1. Drink coffee.
2. Shared a cup of coffee with someone else (yes I shared a coffee and it was a thimble sized cup).
3. Had gelato. A lot.
4. Eaten pizza for more than one meal in a day
5. Eaten pasta for more than one meal in a day
6. Had 5 types of cheeses in my frig.
7. Wake up early on Saturday just to walk to the market.
8. Go for a walk either before or after dinner almost EVERY day.
9. Gone without fast food for over a month and at times 6 months.
10. Used the fire department to get into my apartment
11. Driven a car with the alarm going off.
12. Driven the wrong way down a one-way street, on purpose.
13. Run the same stop sign every day (unless someone is coming the other way).
14. Honked at someone even though they had the right of way.
15. Cut someone off even though they had the right of way.
16. Passed a car down the middle of the road. Don’t worry mom I don’t do this anymore.
17. Hung my laundry out to dry.
18. Walked arm in arm with another guy.
19. Worn a scarf.
20. Fallen asleep at work
21. Gone on a blind date with 2 women.
22. Started eating dinner at 11:30 PM
23. Reported a lost key to the Police.
24. Drank 5 different types of alcoholic beverages at one meal
25. Eaten horse meat
26. Stood in a field of poppies
27. Missed a flight
28. Ridden a train. (I mean one that actually went somewhere)
29. SMS text messaged someone (now I can't go without).
30. Owned more than one cell phone and used both at one time.
31. Used my cell phone as the modem for my computer to connect to the internet. (going 32. through the infrared port no less, pretty cool eh!)
32. Paid the same parking ticket twice
33. Listen to American Indians playing “Hotel California” on the streets of an Italian town. There was just something very odd about that.
34. Taken a dump in a hole in the ground and it wasn’t because I was out camping.
35. Got lost within walking distance of my apartment (many times in fact).

Some of these may make you wonder....