Thursday, May 31, 2007
I’m not sure if it’s ironic or not, but a strange thing happened last night. I went out for a gelato after dinner (that’s not a strange thing! Just wait). I walk down to the Vertigo around 10:00 PM. I’m enjoying my first gelato (Snickers and chocolate chip) since I returned when I step out the door and I almost literally ran into Teddy and Alessandra going to a concert in Le Corniche, which is next door. I joined them as I was curious and I didn’t know about this concert (hey, I’ve been out of town for a while). I felt slightly guilty carrying my gelato from the Vertigo (best gelato in Brindisi) into the Le Corniche (3rd best gelato in Brindisi), but only slightly because Le Corniche is the one that opened up next door to an established gelateria. Anyway, we’re watching the concert in the outdoor courtyard of the restaurant when all of sudden they stop playing around 11:30. It seems the Carabinieri had come to pull the plug on the noise (hey it’s rock-n-roll to me). I stuck around for a while because they said the concert would start again after THEY left. That didn’t seem right, the band was going to play again, AFTER the Carabinieri told them to stop? Maybe, I think the bars are allowed to break the 11:00 PM rule a few times over a certain amount time, then after the Xth time they get a ticket, so they record every time they play music too late. As long as you don’t do it too often you’re ok.
The ironic part is coming up. I decided to go home because I have to work the next day and I was not convinced they would play again. When I get back to my apartment they are painting the lines on my street, AGAIN. I live at an intersection so there are plenty of lines to paint, crosswalks, little triangles, parking spaces and etc. So it’s a little after midnight and now I can’t sleep because of the noise being made by the painters down below my window. There’s a lot of commotion going on down there, the air compressor for the paint sprayer, the throwing around of metal patterns, the yelling between the three guys trying to be heard over the air compressor. I think it’s ironic because I wouldn’t have been home trying to sleep if the Carabinieri hadn’t stopped the concert that was making too much noise. You see it’s ironic because if they didn’t stop the noise that didn’t bother me then I wouldn’t have know about the noise that does bother me. Should I add that I live next door to the Carabinieri station? Ahh, life in the big city.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I saw today in the news that there are only two bidders left looking to buy Alitalia, Airone and Aeroflot. I think Airone might be able to turn them around and on the other side I fear Aeroflot. What good would come out of a Russian airline (with a dubious past) buying an Italian airline (notorious for not showing up to work)? The news also said it would take about 5 billion dollars to turn Alitalia around. I wonder if that includes firing everyone and starting over. I’m sorry but they get no sympathy from me. They are the ONLY airline allowed to fly from Brindisi to Rome and they still can’t make money. Anyway that's the past, for now everything is ok. phew...
Nello, however, is still not ok. He has been crying and following me around the house more than usual. He doesn't seem to believe me when I say "I’m not going to leave again for a while so he should just calm down." Goofy cat. Mara didn’t notice that I was gone and she is now in "full shed mode". She took a little longer to reach this stage but now I get a brush full of fur out of her whenever I manage to hold her down long enough to brush her. To her people are only useful when they are throwing something to chase or putting out food and water. Goofy cat!
Me, well, I’ve already had many coffees, a pizza, etc etc but I haven’t had a gelato since I got back. That will have to change tonight, although the weather has cooled down. Before I left it was sweltering hot and not it feels great. It’s not beach weather anymore but that could change by this weekend.
The flowers are another random shot in Indianapolis with the new camera. And they are calming when I start to think about Alitalia.
I think they fell asleep while wrestling!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
There's good news for you, my faithful blog readers. I picked up a digital SLR (Canon Rebel XT, I’m too cheap for the XTi). Now you will get to see even more stunning photos in this blog, I hope. I've never had a digital SLR before so I played around with it and at the end of this entry are some of the photos. Of course the actual photo files are huge so I’ll cut then down to post them. I went to my favorite camera shop in Indy, Robert’s Camera. I always check their stock of used and refurbished cameras first then get a new camera if I can’t find what I want. In this case they didn’t have a used camera that I wanted so I went with a brand new one. Prices are as good or better then the discount stores and they also have people that can really help you. My Rebel XT was $634 with tax and came with 3 extras; a 1 GB card, a big Canon camera bag, and a pair of binoculars!
How do I wrap up the activities? I got to see a lot of family on the weekends. I saw my Nonna on both weekends that I was in the States and I saw my nephew for the second time and he’s only 5 months old (he was 2 weeks old when I saw him at Christmas). He seems like a great kid to me but then again I didn’t hear him at all during the night. I was told he made some noise but I’m a sound sleeper. I still can’t accept the fact that my parents are grandparents. I know it’s not unusual it’s just strange. I also went fishing with my dad who is also a grandpa.
This is me in my favorite T-shirt again and I’m holding my first largemouth bass of 2007. My dad and I had a good day on the lake. I caught three and he caught two. We also had about 3 fish apiece where we practiced our “Jimmy Houston catch and release”. That’s when the fish gets off before you get it in the boat. For you non-fishermen out there bass are not great for eating so we release everything we catch. Also I’m probably the only fisherman in the Midwest wearing Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses!
This is random artistic shot in Indianapolis right after I bought the new camera. I had a little trouble as this is not a point a shoot camera.
This is my nephew, Kyle, at 5 months with grandma. My mother is a grandmother. There I said it again.
More photos and news from the States to come...
Monday, May 14, 2007
The first photo is Valerio on the most stylin’ chopper on the road yesterday. He let me take a spin on it and I really liked how it felt. It was comfortable and you have to love the looks people give you.
This photo is heading out of town and our first stretch of open road (and our first and only hill).
Our first stop was Santa Maria di Casale. I think this is one of the newest churches in town. It gave us a chance to get a coffee, but we had to take a shortcut to catch up!
Marco Ruu on his ride.
You could even stop and get some cozze (mussels) during the ride.
A big thank you for all the Red Cross riders that patched up all the injured bikers. Kids will be kids.
Roadblock. Several places were so tight that we came to a stop. Remember, this is not the Tour de France. There was no award for the first to cross the line.
Erika is front and center in this photo and showing her award winning style. She won an award but I'm not comletely sure why. She’s talking to Dora as we come back into town.
Look out as we bikes are taking over the main drag in town. Coasting down to the finish line by the sea.
Everyone gather around as someone is going to make a lot of long-winded speeches after we've ridden around in the hot sun for a few hours. I think a lot of people have had left by this time.
The award-winning group. Erika has her own award and Gianluca has our group award. He takes great pride in coming up with our group name, Latic Acid (in Italian). Chemical Engineers are such geeks!!!
I mentioned in the previous post that the weather has warmed up. It was so hot that I didn’t need anyone to tell me what we were doing Saturday afternoon. It was the first real day at the beach. I say real day because it was the first time I went in the sea for the whole day. I guess I could have last weekend but it just didn’t seem right. This weekend you needed it. The water seemed all right the first time as long as you kept moving around but then I went back for a second dip and it felt down right cold. In June it will be more accommodating!
It was very interesting to be at the beach as Ottavio said to take note how the beach is right now because this summer the beach itself will get smaller. He was right because I could notice a difference from last year, already. The beach is actually much bigger in the spring. During the winter and spring the sand migrates down from the sand dunes toward the sea, I assume this is due to the wet weather (because the wind comes out of every direction all year). But in the summer it will be dry and windy and the sand will get blown back towards the dunes. You might be able to tell in the photos that the beach is very flat whereas in the summer it will be more sloped from the water to the dunes. So the sea will creep closer to the dunes as time goes by. I love the fact that park has put up a good fence to keep people off the sand dunes. It really works and I think there is much more grass growing there every year. It’s a sign that this beach is here to stay and may even be getting better. Now if we can just keep someone from making a hotel at the edge of the park.
This is the meat counter. Remember you go up and just pick out what you want. We sat down to eat at 10:45 PM so the some things are getting close to empty.
This is a close up of some of the "bombette" and I see some boscauole (that's how it's spelled on the sign) in the top middle tray of the picture. The top left of the picture is one of my favorites. It's like beef wrapped in bacon. The ones on the top right that are wrapped in zucchini were better this time than I remember. I thought I didn't like that one.
Finally, some cooked up for us. They actually bring out the meat in stages (I can't really call them courses) so nothing gets cold. This would be the primi (or sausages) dish. The antipasti is meatballs and french fries but that actually was gone too quick to photo.
This is one of the last "stages". Is that a salad? Don't be silly. There is a steak cut into strips under under that rucola and Parmesan cheese. Although I think they do have a salad.
John, Don't worry most restaurants are NOT this meat related. They are more seafood based which is what makes this place so special.
Friday, May 11, 2007
The place was packed solid with people, which is about 5,000 people for this arena. I think they sold more tickets then there are seats because people were everywhere but I had one of the more expensive seats so I had a reserved seat (half the arena is festival sitting). The noise was incredible and my ears were still ringing this morning. People beating drums, singing, whistling, and yelling for the whole game. And it was hot, sticking hot. Basketball is played over the winter so I’m sure they didn’t plan on trying to keep the place cool and it wasn’t.
The game got off to a slow start. The first quarter was low scoring and it was hard to see how it was going to go. There was also a lot of fouls. It just didn’t seem like the game I was expecting. I could tell that 16 on Brindisi was the lead man. He had confidence with the ball that no else on the court showed and 4 on Brindisi was the gritty throw himself on the ball whenever possible guy. I’ll call him the “Gattuso” of the team.
Then in the second quarter Brindisi jumped out to a big 12 point lead on some smoking hot 3-point shooting. This is what I imagined it would be like. I thought the home team looked amazing but somehow Veroli pulled back to within 4 points by halftime. Streaky three point shooters will give the fans heart attacks and I was sure a couple people were going keel over this night with the screaming that continued non stop right up to halftime.
Halftime was very short and the only show was a few kids doing some breakdancing. The two guys were very good and I would have videotaped it with my camera if I would have known. Unfortunately only one of the girls in their group knew how to dance. Still very few people left here seats, as I don’t think there was much in the way of concession stands there. I did see a few people had bought bottles of water, that’s it. At Brindisi soccer matches everyone gets a coffee at halftime that’s hardly a good idea at 10 o’clock at night.
In the third quarter Brindisi AGAIN jumped out to a big lead but they were only 6 points up at the end of the quarter. I was getting worried, as it just seemed Veroli wouldn’t go away. I did notice that one of the Veroli players fouled out in the 3rd quarter. I wasn’t sure because the scoreboard was very basic, no big video screens or graphics. Don’t they know you’re supposed to sing “Na, Na, Na, Na, hey, hey goodbye”. I think I did here more than the usual “coglione” when he left the game. That reminds me, I can’t remember ever hearing “coglione” so much. Not even at a soccer game. There are more fouls in basketball so you call the ref a coglione after every foul or you call the player one. Depending on the situation.
Finally in the 4th quarter Brindisi wore down the opponent. At one point they were up 18 and then cruised a little bit to win the game by 10 points. So it was great game and much needed win for the home team. I had a great time and I look forward to going again.
Afterwards we sat down for pizza at 11:00 at night but the pizzeria was waiting for the after game crowd so we were served quickly and I was home before 1. A great night and FORZA BRINDISI!!!
The crowd at is highest decibels at the start of the game and that goofy mascot again.
Here is a photo of the action. Brindisi is in white and blue. Notice number 4 at the bottom. I call him Gattuso for his style of play. Looks like he's giving someone an elbow!
At the end of important win! And the goofy mascot again.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
So Judith tagged me about writing this post but I’m not sure I’m doing it right. The way I understand I need to explain how the 7 Deadly Sins apply to me personally. That way you crazy people reading this will know me better. Here it goes.
This is as human as it gets right? Let’s see. Well I don’t watch "Striscia La Notizia" for the news...but that’s like most of the males in Italy. I miss Michelle Hunziker. I’m a guy and I’ll leave it at that. I was trying to think of something sly and intelligent. I’m just glad it’s ok to stare in this country because there are so many women strolling around in short skirts and low cut blouses. I always thought staring was wrong but I’m slowly coming around to another way of thinking, or looking I should say.
For me this comes in the form of straight up, unadulterated sugar. My mom, to this day, has to warn me about “eating all those sweets”, especially around Christmas or Easter or come to think of it any other holiday. There is nothing else that I do in excess as eat sweets, at times. I still remember eating Spree, Sweet tarts, and Starburst until my stomach hurt as a kid. I’m getting a little better in my old age but I still can’t help but eat all of whatever I have sweet in the house.
I don’t know that I’m very greedy. It seems I should be, because there is always something that I would like to buy like a new iPod or digital camera all the way up to vacation villa or boat. In reality I save all that I can because I say that it’s for a “rainy day”. My thoughts go like this, “What if I lost my job and couldn’t find another? How long could I live off of what I have saved? Right, I better save some more money just in case.” In the past, as soon as I had extra money it went to paying off my mortgage, so I ended up paying off a 15-year mortgage in 5 years. I own the house back in the States so all I need is money to pay taxes, utilities, and food if worse came to worse. The funny thing is that I save and save but I really don’t make my money “work” for me. Nothing is in risky, high yielding stocks. Yeah, if I were greedy I would have a lot more money by now. Then I could buy that boat or….
I’m pretty lazy. I have some many things that I’ve started and never finished and things I’ve never started. Things around the apartment like where Nello and Mara have destroyed the screen door by climbing it trying to get at flies. Now the flies can get into the apartment if they find the holes. Every summer the people sailing around the Mediterranean stop in to Brindisi and I think about how cool it would be to know how to sail and rent a boat. I have yet to get on a sailboat.
I would think is another one like greed where I really feel in control. There are very few times I feel really angry. They seemed to connect to being without sleep or food for too long. Although Mara brought out my wrath when she refused to let me cut her nails the other day. But in that case I have to face the facts; it’s a two-person operation.
I’m envious of everyone. I think this is one of my major faults. I think everyone has it better than me. Your cell phone has a better ring tone than mine you lucky bastard.
I have pride but in things that no one gives a rats ass about. There are very few people impressed with the fact that I can throw a Frisbee a very long distance. You know I used to come in second place to Scott Stokely at competitions and he held the World Record at the time. Yeah, nobody cares. Yep, most of the things I’m proud of don’t account for squat with the rest of you. But I’m still proud!!
So that’s the 7 deadly sins as they apply to me. I won’t tag some other blogger to do this because I think there is enough tagging going on and because I’m lazy.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
This photo is of one of the newest entrants in the world of politics. Congratulations to my brother in law Kent, who was elected yesterday to the City Council of Athens, Ohio. After living in Italy I know what an important stepping stone this could be. With family in public office comes great power, with great power comes great responsibility. Or something like that.
This photo again is a "two fer" on subjects. This was when we went to the top of Mt. Etna. The place in the photo might not look the same now because I see in the news that Mt. Etna is spewing lava and putting on a good show. I would love to get down there and see that. No one is in danger so this eruption is great for tourists but I doubt they let you get anywhere near it.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I should explain. Yesterday I was going to rant about people asking about my car, which is why I put up that photo. That’s not my car but that picture is of someone who is having a problem with his or her car. Me, on the other hand I have the perfectly running car pictured here today, but still people are worried here in Brindisi. Now let me explain, the weather is nicer and I’m walking to work more and more. People are still always coming up to me and asking what’s wrong with my car. Why are you walking, Jeff? Nothing is wrong with the car. I just choose to walk to work. Then they give me that wrinkled brow look similar to when I say Grottaglie and they have no idea what I’m talking about! How can a town where people walk for hours to essentially go nowhere have a problem understanding why I would actually walk to a place? I know you, the readers of my blog, are not the ones harassing me but I’ll take it out on you anyway. I’m also wondering why the grapevine isn’t working so well on this. By now everyone who knows me should know the story. Then again I still have people at the gym asking where I’m from and what I’m doing here. How could you not know at this point?
I’m really going to throw a wrench in works because when school gets out I plan to start riding my bike to work. Right now there are two intersections that are just to busy for me to navigate in the morning on a bike. Italian drivers can deal with scooters so I probably would be ok but I’m not wide-awake myself most of the time in the morning so I’ll wait until there’s less traffic.
While we are talking about cars, here’s photo of my old Camaro that I had back in Indianapolis. That car was fun to drive. After this I bought a Diesel Jetta but I don’t seem to have a photo of it.
Monday, May 07, 2007
This weekend I looked into the ferries to Albania as I recently found a new website called www.outdooralbania.com and I would like to take one of their tours. I went into one of the many little tickets places and asked about the ferries and I was surprised to find out that they go every day. So then I thought out loud, "I can go Friday night and come back Sunday. It's only 7 hours on a boat each way." The guy behind the counter then corrected me by saying. “No you can’t come back on Sunday, they don’t run on Sunday. You’ll have to wait until Monday.” I then thought to myself “You’re the one that just said they run EVERY DAY. You @#%$!()$*#&!!!” Still I would only need one day off of work so I definitely need to do this.
I can’t go next weekend because that is the 25th annual “Brindisi in Bicicletta”. A grand event and only 3 euros to enter! For that huge entry fee you get a baseball cap, t-shirt, lanyard, and a number (and 2 hours of riding the streets of Brindisi)!!!! I took my bike on a practice ride yesterday and it’s ready for the rough cobblestone streets of the centro storico.
Then after that next weekend I’m heading back to the States for about 10 days. The official reason for the trip is work but I’m going to rush off to Cincinnati the first chance I get after the conference is over. I’m very lucky that every year work has a conference only 2 hours from my parent’s house. I’ve been here almost 4 years now and I have yet to pay for a trip across the pond.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
The book starts at the beginning, which for Egnazia was in the 16th century BC. Yes 16 centuries before Christ. There is not a lot to see today from that time but they have found evidence that there was a defensive wall around the town that was 2.20 meters high (little over 7 feet) and 2.9 meters wide (9.5 feet). They believe the houses inside this wall were randomly distributed oval shaped huts. At that time the wall encircled about 3 hectares of a small peninsula on the rocky Adriatic coast. This small area is right on the sea but slightly higher than the surrounding coast and was later made into the “acropolis” of the Roman era town. By the 4th Century BC the walls had expanded inland to protect 40 hectares of houses and the people were starting to take on a Greek class structure. Then in the 3rd century BC the first public buildings were created and an “Italic type” temple built on the acropolis. I don’t know what an Italic type temple is, maybe it’s angled? The urbanization and structure of the town was considered “complete” at the end of the 1st century BC. All this work was carefully tied to Brindisi because it was through Brindisi that all Helenistic structure from Greece flowed into Egnazia. At the height of Roman Empire Egnazia benefited from the construction of the Via Traiana, which was an alternate route of the Via Appia from Benevento to Brindisi. This road is seen today in white limestone as it was discovered in the first excavations in 1913. It is also on this road that Horace traveled in 38 BC on his famous trip from Brindisi to Rome. The town was abandoned in the 10th century after being raided repeatedly by the Goths. I guess it was time to go to a more fortified town like Brindisi and Monopoli or inland to Fasano. Damn those Goths!!
The first photo is of tombs cut into solid rock with rock slab lids made in the 3rd and 4th century BC.
This photo is of the famous Via Traiana which was an alternate route of the Via Appia from Brindisi to Benevento. You can still see the ruts in the road from the carts that used to travel this. Also it's cool because you see the same thing in Pompeii but the roads are paved with black basalt blocks.
This photo is a kiln from the Roman era. The round area was where they fired the pottery and there were two "lanes" to add fuel to the fire. This kiln is actually built over one of the 3rd Century BC tombs.
This last photo is of a piazza from the Roman era. The strange thing about this is that it was just uncovered in excavations done in 2001-2004! And there is still a lot to do. I'm not busy this weekend. All I ask is that I get to keep one coin from Roman times. I would love to find something like that.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
So it’s finally May. With the stop and go Spring it was hard to tell that it has arrived. I have put away the sweaters, coats, gloves, hats and all other things for cold weather. I haven't used them for a while but now it just seems like the right date to change things a little. Lately, I have felt a little odd when I go out without a jacket on. It just didn’t seem right but maybe that’s because I looked at how everyone else is dressed. Now it’s May so short sleeves should be acceptable, to me and to everyone else.
It shouldn’t be long before every restaurant has their outdoor seating setup. And if they don’t have outdoor seating then the close up shop for the summer. Right now it’s just a few caffes that have little tables out for people to catch some sun with their morning coffees. Also all the flavors of gelato are back on the menu, finally. They tone down the variety in the winter, as people just aren’t buying that much. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that number of flavors is going up. Just today I noticed that green apple is finally back at the Vertigo. So I had one of my favorite fruit combinations, green apple and strawberry.
The picture today is “Nello in a lemon tree”. The tree wasn’t doing anything on the front balcony and I realized it was not getting enough sun. I moved it to the back balcony and now it’s taking off, but it’s a little behind everyone else’s. It’s getting more sun now but it’s also at the mercy of the cats. They started digging in the pot so I covered it with a piece of cardboard. Now they love to sleep on the cardboard covering the soil. This new habit may have a benefit as I wonder if the heat from their bodies is helping the tree grow. Boh?
Not to much to report on May Day or Labor Day here in Brindisi. There seems to be nothing special going on. There is a little rally planned but it doesn't seem like it will be very big. Nothing like the big concerts and/or protests up North.