Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I went to a parade for Carnevale in Putignano on Sunday. It’s a small parade held in a small town about an hour and a half from me. The cool thing about this parade is that it was the 621st edition of the parade. I don’t know how the first years were but this year was pretty interesting. It’s great fun for the kids who get to dress up like Halloween. The adults also can get a little crazy. In the end I had an orange cow on my head. I wanted a festive hat like everyone else. I needed something. Along with the crazy colors and outfits there was also people dressed like the medieval times doing jobs of the period. I wonder if anyone will ever dress up like us in an event to simulate the era “around the year 2000”. They could show how people used to sit in front of the computer and work. I have a lot of photos from the event because Alberto put everyone’s photos on one CD. I’ll try to post some here soon.The floats were wonderfully complex in the mechanical movements, color and message. All of them had a political angle with the election coming up. Some dealt with Chinese imports and other with oil prices. I’ll try to explain each with the picture I put up. The videos are the better thing because it was amazing how the floats moved.

Pictures tonight, I hope....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another weekend of stories...

Friday night was a rather ordinary night. We spent most of the night at Goblins and then on to “The Spinnaker”. I realize now that the whole night I only had two small beers. When you’re out with a larger group you’re talking and switching seats so you don’t seem to drink much. Probably why Italian pubs don’t make much money. Then Saturday night I was waiting for a call from Marco and I ended up going to a nearby small town with Teodoro, Allassandra, Ottavio, Mitrana and others. It was strange because the first place we stopped was a pub that had a cover charge. No one wanted to pay this so we went on to another place. This turned out to a school gym that was having a reggae concert. It was 5 euro to get in here too but everyone was willing to pay for this concert. The place was packed with mainly kids smoking, smoking all kinds of things. I think my jacket will be airing out for a few days. It was a pretty good concert but I would not go to something similar for a while. I didn’t get home until about 4:30 AM and I again I didn’t spend much. I had one glass of wine before we left and then 5 euro to get in.
Sunday was a very good day. I had lunch at Marco’s house and I think his mom cooks better than Turibio’s (don’t tell Turibio I said that). I couldn’t ask for much more. We had home made orecchiette and she even gave me the left over uncooked pasta and some sauce!!!!! Then after that we met up with some of Marco’s friends for a coffee and gelato. It was starting to be suppertime so everyone went to Erika’s house for a pizza. Now at this point I wasn’t hungry so I shamefully had to take a small pizza because that’s all I needed. So when this was over and we talked a while it was time to head home. At this point it was just after midnight. I think I have all the names and couples worked out in the order of how well I know them.
Marco and Antonella
Valiero and Erika
Gianluca and Francesca
Teddy and Allassandra
Alberto and Annarita (Bari)
Christian and Illaria?
Ottavio and ??
Mitrana and ?Piero?
Federica and Paolo
Marco (taller one and more hair)
Marco (tallest and always best dressed) and Dora
Ok maybe I still need some work on names.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Killer Swans

Don't touch that bird!! Well bird flu is here at last. Over the weekend they discovered at least 5 dead swans in Italy and they have tested positive for Bird Flu. So it’s now a reality to me. What started in Southeast Asia in 1996 has made it all the way here to my back yard. Some of the tested swans were found at Torre Gauceto where I was going to the beach last summer. I thought we were special but just today it’s been found in Germany, Austria, and Iran. I have 3 eggs and 2 chicken breasts in the frig at home and it sounds like that’s all I have for a while. I will wash my hands thoroughly after handling the eggs and cook them thoroughly I promise. I imagine this means that chickens and turkeys in the area will be culled. That’s been technique that’s been in use so far. The only real threat is being in close contact with birds and that’s usually on farms with chickens. It is strange how it only affects some birds. This disease evidently won’t thin out the pigeon population, so I guess there is no benefit. Also if this disease can hit China and kill less than a hundred people then I think the threat is still very low here. There are a lot more people there in contact with chickens and birds in unhealthy situations all the time.
What nobody has said except for the National Geographic article I read is that bird flu strains and human flu strains can only “mix” in pigs. That’s when the problems start. A pig that is suffering from a human flu and a bird strain can give the viruses a chance to mix and make a new flu that can go from person to person. And then this is only a problem if the new virus is so unique that the human defenses don’t recognize it. If it’s close to another common human flu strain then our immune system can fight it like the common cold. Several things have to happen. No one can say they won’t but you can’t worry about something you can’t control. The only way to control this would be to kill every wild bird there is and domestic one too just in case.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Olympics and the big match

What a wild weekend it was. The Olympics have taken off and I watched most of the opening ceremonies. Then I went to Goblins to see a cover band play Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were pretty good but.... Saturday night was really wild. Marco said there was a party, which I thought, was at a bar but it was in a reserved hall for Salvatore (who I don’t know) because he has graduated from University in Engineering. I felt a little strange since I didn’t know this guy but as people showed up it seemed like I knew everyone else. Teddy and Alessandra were there from Alle Corte di Bacco and the whole shop staff at Cantieri U.R.L. I have to remember if I ever get married in Italy to invite Erica because she was the life of the party. She was bringing the bottles of champagne to people and pulling people out to dance. Marco was outside not feeling too well for the last hour of the party so Alberto was our driver home. The party easily went to 2:00 AM even if the music wasn’t that great.
Sunday I stayed in and watched some Olympic coverage. I feel asleep during the 15+15 km Men’s Pursuit. To us that’s cross-country skiing. I woke up (HEY, they covered the whole race, which was over an hour long!) because the announcer was screaming at the end and this was only because an Italian came in 3rd. The really good thing was an Italian won the gold in Luge so they covered all 4 runs and that was something I really wanted to see.
Then last night was THE BIG MATCH. #1 Juventus vs #2 Inter. The bar was packed like I have never seen. You could tell this was important by the players’ actions and emotions. Inter had a goal but it was taken away because Adriano took the free kick before the referee blew the whistle. Adriano, how could you? But hey, he’s known for his incredible ability to kick the ball, not brains. Then Juventus went up 1-0 on a perfectly played set of passes down the field. Inter tied it up on a set play from a corner kick. And then with 5 minutes left, the ref blew a really bad foul in favor of Juve. The bar was chanting when Del Piero stepped up and then he buried the kick into the net from well outside the box. The bar erupted in cheers. I can’t wait to be here during the World Cup in June. Almost everyone was cheering for Juve last night but in June EVERYONE will be cheering for Italy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This is an old picture of some clams living on the end of stick. It was just floating by in the sea and I thought looked interesting. I need to go back to visiting the sea randomly on the weekends. Posted by Picasa

Livin' on the Edge

Yesterday there was havoc at my doorstep. Old man winter is trying to reach me. The office was a buzz when word spread that it was snowing in Francaville Fontana and Ostuni. That’s pretty close. Co-workers who live in that direction were already telling me that they expect it will take an extra hour to get home. All of this and it was 2 inches of snow from what I read last night. Still this area is not known for snow and I find it incredible that it didn’t snow here in Brindisi. There is a fierce cold wind coming out of the North that is carrying the snow down South and you can see the clouds in the distance but they just break up enough to not have the moisture needed to snow here. It’s almost hilarious because it’s always that way. I don’t think it’s snowed here in about 6 years but every year in Ostuni they get snow for a couple of days. This year it was Francaville Fontana too, which is a little more unusual and noteworthy event. Imagine every year Dayton getting snow but not Cincinnati and then finally one-year Middletown gets some snow but still nothing in Cincinnati. That’s about what has happened. I want to go there and get pictures of it but I know that would end being a big headache.

Other news. I’m being tempted to get a friend for Nello. I knew that would happen. There is someone who has to give up the perfect friend for him (about the same age) but the problem is they have two cats. I’m not taking on three cats. Two is the max.

I’m also very tired. I stayed up late last night to see a rebroadcast of the Super Bowl and it didn’t come on. It was supposed to start at 12:45 AM but they had some other sports show. I think they pushed it back to 1:30 AM without changing the schedule. Who would want to see that Super Bowl thing anyway? It should be rebroadcast again at a reasonable time next week. They’ll cut out some of the time between plays and it will take an hour and a half to show. Of course that means there won’t be any of the cool commercials.