Friday, September 29, 2006

Nello's friend?

What do you think? Have we found a friend for my cat Nello? This poor kitten looks to be about 3 weeks old. Andrea found him in the sea yesterday. He and Mariellena naturally thought of me to help nurse him back to health. I'm such a soft touch this kitten is now temporarily calling my place home. It appears the recent storms washed him down the sewer until he reached the sea (from the smell of him). Anyway he starting eating and seems to be in much better great condition this morning.
His temporary name is "Smeagol" after the character in The Lord of the Rings.
Nello has no idea what to think of this "thing". He has been studying it though.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Yes I took this while driving. I was going slow. I need to go back to this spot. That pine tree just towers over everything else and looks so strong and solitary against the sunset.


The pizza from last night. A different flavor in every slice was the selling point. I have to say I liked it even with yellow peppers on one part (it's a really small part).

A good day

Yesterday was a pretty good day. There was no one thing that made it great but a lot of little things. Mainly it was after work that things were so good so I’ll start there. I went to the gym to work out. The usual crowd was there and I was happy because I remembered the phrase that Umberto taught me on Monday. The phrase is “Ti puzza la fatia”. This is Brindisi dialect and not real Italian so don’t bother looking it up. Literally it would mean, “You smell of fatigue”. Nicely put it something like “Not working too hard are we?” It started as a joke in the gym when I was waiting to use a specific machine. Now we decided to make a phrase in local dialect part of the gym routine. A new phrase for every day I’m in the gym. Last night he went deeper into dialect. “Osci non ti sta` ncodda`”. Now first we translate this into Italian “Oggi non ti sta una cosa”. Now in English “Today, you don’t feel like doing a thing.” This is very similar to the first phrase joking about how you’re not working hard. Today I realized if I change the “ti” to “mi” then I could say, “Today, I don’t feel like doing anything” (Osci non mi sta` ncodda`”).
Back to yesterday. On the way out of the gym I ran into Monica and we talked for a short time. She always has a plan for something to get her out of town. Classes in Venice, work in Spain. She should realize that going out with me would be the best plan but I’ve gotten over that a long time ago. She didn’t seem to have a new plan just yet. It was funny because everyone was stopping to talk to her because no one has seen her in a while. It made having a conversation difficult so I resumed my walk home and she tried to continue her way into town. Still it's always fun to run into someone you haven't seen in a while.
About 50 feet up the road I ran into Alberta my neighbor talking to a pharmacist outside his store. She said that Nello was watching her work on the computer about a half hour ago. Nello has learned if he gets up on the balcony railing and goes all the way to one corner then he can see into Alberta’s apartment. It worries me because he could probably jump from the railing in her window if he wanted to and the window was open. Plus, he really seems to like her so he would do it. She said she opened the window and yelled at him to get down and he did. But we all know that sort of tactic will only work a few more times and then he’ll ignore it when he realizes she can’t stop him. Still I think she likes having him watching and it’s just funny to think of his curiosity in everything around him.
Further along on my way back I stopped to get a pizza at THE pizza place. It was only around 8:15 PM so almost no one was there. I showed off my new phrases and they almost split a gut laughing so hard. They really liked hearing it and offered many new phrases but without writing them down I’m at loss to remember them. This pizzeria could be the heart of Brindisi’s dialect as it used to be “La Brindisina” (Now it’s “La Antica Sapore”) and they had the lyrics to a song on the menu that was so deep in dialect I could only find a few words in a dictionary. I didn’t know what I wanted for dinner and the old man (I forget his name) offered to make the “Spiritoso”. It’s a pizza with a different flavor in every slice. Hmmm, I don’t remember seeing that on the menu. He carefully placed toppings to make about 8 different pizzas on this one. It was perfect, except for the part with yellow peppers but I ate around them. I have a picture of the pizza that I’ll put up.
The day couldn’t be perfect though because I arrived home just in time to watch the Inter –Bayern Monaco game. The game was not good at all. Inter lost 0-2 and two Inter players were sent off with red cards.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tiger Moth

My package arrived this morning. Bad news. It is 96 kg (211 lb). It’s full and it’s in a huge wooden box that will not fit in any way in my car. So what is IT?
This is the story…
Some months ago a coworker and friend in England sent me an email saying a friend of his is flying his own plane from England to South Africa. Ok, how does that involve me? Well getting across Europe is pretty easy as there are plenty of places to land but after Brindisi the trip starts to get a little tricky. Like an ancient explorer he has to be completely ready to enter a new world before heading across the Mediterranean Sea and then across the Sahara Desert. To cross these two things he needs to add a long-range fuel tank to his plane and he plans on doing that here. The mystery package is this long-range fuel tank and now it’s here waiting for him and his plane. So on Thursday he will arrive, install the tank on his plane, and then continue on his incredible journey. I’m not sure how long he will be here. I guess it depends on the weather. I’m in awe of this man that I have never met and what he’s doing. He is a modern day explorer and having an experience that can be done no other way. Imagine his path from England across France, over the snow-covered Alps, down Italy, over the Med, then into green lushness of Tunisia that will quickly lead to miles and miles of desert. Then he will emerge from the desert to cross jungles, savannah, and all the beauty of Africa not from Land Rover or on a TV set.
The thing that excites me the most is the plane. He’s coming here in a Tiger Moth. For those in the aviation circles you don’t have to say another word. This is a famous plane built by the thousands to train pilots between WWI and WWII. That’s right this plane is almost as old as aviation itself. It’s a classic and the kind of thing you would expect to see in museum depicting life in the 1930s. It immediately conjures up imagines of pilots in a flowing white silk scarf and goggles, black and white movies, Duke Ellington, Clark Gable and the list goes on and on!
It puts all kinds of new ideas in my head for what I could do in retirement. What an adventure! On top of all this my coworker in England said he has already flown the plane from England to Australia.
To put it simply I can’t wait to meet this guy and his plane.

Monday, September 25, 2006

We lost...che peccato!

So Brett and the Americans lost over the weekend. They didn't even come close. I’ll have to give him some advice from the School of Hard Knocks, again! I couldn’t watch it because nobody in Italy cares about it, even though it was Europe vs. the USA. The sports channels would rather show women’s rhythmic gymnastics, or whatever that’s called, then golf. I get 4 sports channels but two always have soccer or news about soccer so there is two channels for all the other stuff in the world. You would not believe how many times I’ve seen Monster Truck Rallies on one of those channels. Do we even still have those in the US? Anyway for 2 years we have to hang our head in shame because we Americans are not good in team golf. Golf a sport that everyone thinks of as a “team sport”.
Also my package hasn’t arrived yet, but I have found out that it is not 90 kg. More like 9 kg and it should arrive today. I guess everyone is not nearly excited about it like I am. I thought you would be a little more curious. Marco was only one NOT allowed to guess and he guessed anyway. I like his guess though because I had forgotten all about his bowling ball.
And the Bengals win against the Steelers, 3-0!! It was payback for last year. I don’t care what the players are saying.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ryder Cup and the Mystery Package

YEAAAHHH it’s Ryder Cup time. USA! USA! USA! I know what you’re thinking, “Since when do you give a hill of beans about golf?” It’s true I’ve only thought of golf as a sleep aid for Saturday afternoon. Have you ever laid on the couch and listened to golf on TV? The announcers are talking in those soft soothing voices and the there’s absolutely nothing going on. There’s an occasional swing, then some sky pictures, and then ball landing on another patch of green grass. I guarantee you’ll be asleep faster than my mom listening to the Reds on the radio.
So anyway the reason I’m watching the Ryder Cup this weekend is because my old neighbor Brett Wetterich is on the team. I can’t believe that the same person I used to beat up is now hanging out with Tiger Woods and Tom Lehman. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a bully growing up, far from it!! In fact, Brett was the only kid I think I ever fought more than once. He always had it coming because he would tease our dog and I’m sure he stole our soccer ball at least once. How about that? That dog-teasing thief is now representing America in the Ryder Cup. He better win, OR ELSE…
Ok here’s a mystery for you. I have a package coming to me either tomorrow or Monday. It’s a 1-meter (3.2 ft) square box and weighs 90 kg (198 lbs). I hope the delivery company is wrong about the weight. I could understand if the package is 90 kgs FULL but it should be sent EMPTY (big hint). This package is not for me. A friend who I have never met is sending it to me from England so he can pick it up when he gets here. What in the world could this be? I’ll give you another hint: it has something to do with either airplanes or animals. I can’t wait until he arrives, then I can tell you the whole story and it’ll all make sense. Marco you can’t guess because I told you what it is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My house

Two pictures of my house back in Indianapolis. The poor thing is empty right now because my friends moved out. It's scary to think they have lived in the house for 3 years, which is longer than me. Anyway I put these photos up because I'm told there are stacks of shingles in the back yard so it's finally going to get it's new roof. Hey, it's one less thing I have to worry about.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Peaches and Fastweb

Well it’s Monday but I’m in a better mood then Friday. The first thing is the weekend was good for sleeping as it rained Saturday morning and stayed cool all weekend (but still a little humid). It also rained a little Saturday night but nothing like the floods they are having up north. I could never live in Northern Italy, as it seems like they are always having floods, or fog, or snow.
I didn’t do much but in between the showers I did get some incredible peaches at the farmer’s market. I thought the season was over but the “usual guy” had some monster peaches. They were a little more expensive than the others places but I bought 4 because I trust him. They are good. If they weren’t so big I would have eaten all of them Saturday but I’m having just one a day in the morning. There’s no need to go crazy.
Mom, did I mention that now I eat peaches and pears? I’m not sure why but growing up I hated them but this summer people would bring sliced up beaches and pears to the beach and I liked them and now I buy them all the time. But I STILL hate green peppers. That will never change!
Also at the market I see that prickly pear fruit at coming into season, I’m not a big fan but they are something different and they’ll be really cheap soon. Grapes are dirt-cheap right now. They’re everywhere and I hear Ottavio is not hanging out with us in the evening because he’s breaking his back in the fields collecting grapes.
Something completely different is this weekend a sign appeared on the door to my building now that says “Fastweb” now covers my apartment. Fastweb is alternative to TelecomItalia and it has cable television, Internet access, and phone access all in one package. I’ve already been drooling at the idea of having an ASDL line at home and new international TV channels. I’ll probably just get phone and Internet access deal because I don’t need more channels on TV (we all know that more TV channels always sounds better, but in reality!!!). Still I want to go to the store and find out the details before I get too excited.
I also had a laugh this morning because I read an article where the BBC had their car (a Land Rover full of television equipment) stolen in Ostuni. They were here to do a story on Puglian food and couldn’t finish it. The car was stolen on Sept 7th and turned up today with most of the equipment still in it. Just when you think Puglia is making strides to be the next Tuscany…
Also I have to mention that the Bengals beat the Browns. It’s always good to here that!!! The Bengals 2-0.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Leave me alone!!!

I feel uncomfortable and in a very bad mood. It seems that a combination of things have me in this very bad mood right now. Most importantly is the fact that I didn’t sleep well last night. The cat was making a lot a noise and someone’s stupid door kept slamming in the wind all night. I finally checked this morning and it was my stupid door to the balcony that was slamming and Nello was probably crying to tell me to get up and close it.
Today it has been very overcast and VERY humid all day. The office is hot and I’m sweating just sitting here at the desk. My legs ache from playing basketball last night and I can’t find a comfortable position to sit. I also feel bad because last night I almost put Mino in the hospital while we were playing basketball. He came driving down the lane and at the last second my reflexes said, “Let’s not take the charge” so I tried to turn out of the way but it was too late and he went right into my shoulder as I turned. Both of us are skinny and boney so it was a hard impact and he definitely got the worst of it. I barely felt it so I guess going to the gym paid off. I think something similar happened with him when we played soccer one time. He’s going to think I’m out to get him.
So I’m sweaty, tired, uncomfortable, and I’m accidentally beating up my friends. I’ll be going home soon, so My mood should pick up then and it looks like it’s going to rain today and tomorrow so it will be good sleeping weather. But until I've had some sleep, leave me alone!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grand Albergo Internazionale

This picture shows another area that would be car free. The Grand Albergo Internazionale (the nicest hotel in town) is in the middle and the Windsurf (restuarant) is to your left and the Vertigo is to your right. Eating at the Windsurf outside is nicer without the cars but people would still have to be able to drive to the Hotel. It's the only way to get there. Also the old sailboat in the middle is the "Big Nose" I love that name for a boat.

Town Improvements

A story about last night: I called Teddy and Allassandra to see what they were doing and they were on their way into town so they picked me up and we went and had a gelato at the Vertigo. The strange thing is that at 10:30 PM on a Monday the road along the sea was closed. Now the Police have been blocking this street almost every night July and August to allow people to stroll along without the noise and fumes of cars. It’s been really nice. I just thought that is was strange that on a Monday night in September it was still in force. The traffic last night was very light so the need to block the street didn’t seem necessary. We parked and had our gelatos and by the time we were leaving the street was open again (around midnight).
I hear rumors that they are going to close the road for good one of these days and make the area into a piazza. It really would make walking around in Brindisi nicer but it would also add to the headaches of people trying to park in town. The picture above shows the area that would be closed to cars. From the sea to first buildings could all be a piazza.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fall, but no colors

The weather this weekend has been very nice. Friday at work it was hot, mainly because there was no wind. A good breeze kicked up yesterday and now it's almost perfect here. So Fall is here but we have no changing of the leaves, palm trees are funny like that. The thing I notice is how early the sun is going down. It's very strange.
Yesterday I was going to go to an airshow in Otranto. I wasn't too excited because my big old film camera was broken. It has a monster lens that allows you to zoom in and get good photos of things like planes that would be a dot on my digital camera. I also loved this monster lens for getting photos of animals. I took it to a shop a long time ago and they said just to look at it would cost so much that it's probably not worth it. I bought the camera and the lens used so I agreed and went off into digital world.
Yesterday I thought, wait a minute, if this thing is worthless then why not take it apart (I think that is the engineer's code). I started taking out screws and parts. I noticed something strange. This one screw in the lens didn't turn. I played around with all the other screws. Then it seemed to click into place and the screw turned. To make a long story short the screw that wasn't turning was actually what the camera body uses to focus the lens. The camera coudn't try to focus because that screw had been knocked out of place (did I mentioned I dropped the camera way back). So I put everything back together and it works. Now it's not perfect because I'm sure some dirt and dust probably got into the camera but now I'm excited to get the big film camera out again.
Then as I was playing around with it I was amazed at how much that old camera weighs. The lens alone probaby weighs three times my digital camera. I'll let you know how it goes but you'll have to wait. There is no place to get film developed on Sunday and then I'll have to scan the photo in at work and then I can post it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My baby...

I just received an email that's good and bad news. It looks like I get to keep my baby for another 2 years. By “my baby” I mean my car, a silver Alfa Romeo 147, that’s pictured above. Don’t be fooled by the photo, I’m showing it’s good side. The passenger side is where all the scratches and dents are.
It’s mixed news to me because I didn’t like the idea of getting a Ford Focus (my only option), but I would love to have a 4-door car. Also I fear the hassle of changing cars. Now I know where to go to get this one fixed. I have worked through all the “bugs”. Then again, getting the 2 door Alfa was huge mistake. It’s hard to get into the back seat and it’s impossible to open the doors without hitting another car in a parking lot.
In related news I saw that Alfa Romeo will be selling cars in the US again in 2009!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

End of Summer

And so it’s now September and the summer is over. Sunday was a beautiful day at the beach but there were still only half the people that would normally be there. Also it gets dark too early to go after work so my next chance won’t be until at least Saturday.

This weekend was also the big festival in town to celebrate the two patron saints of Brindisi, San Teodoro d’Amasea and San Lorenzo da Brindisi. I think the fireworks were bigger and better than last year. I really noticed a difference. I committed the photographer’s greatest sin. I showed up and had a perfect spot turned on the camera and the little battery light comes on. Perfect planning except for the simplest thing. I guess I don’t really need any more pictures of fireworks. This show reminds me that the big Labor Fireworks in Cincinnati were last night. The show here was nowhere near that big.

Every saint’s festival seems to have a new trivial item that is being sold everywhere. This year it was two magnetic balls that when you toss them up in the air they make an annoying sound like a bug hitting a bug zapper. The magnets hold the balls together and they rub on each other to make the annoying sound. Vendors were everywhere and now I’m sure I will hear them everywhere until the kids loose one of the two magnets.

Some things never change though, I was happy to see THE great salesman was back. This guy spends all night selling dishes. He’s incredible. You have to admire his ability in every way. He demonstrates the durability of the dishes by slamming them on the table from time to time. He can stack a huge set of plates in one hand in a matter of seconds. Then he carries them around like it’s nothing. I’ve seen circus performers that didn’t have this balance and control. All this and then at the end he gives you a ridiculous low price. 10 euro for all 25 pieces, aspetta!!!! 5!!! Solo 5 EURO!!!