Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Italian Meetup Tonight

Tonight was our latest Italian meetup, this time at Rubino's Restaurant in Ashburn, near our house (yea!).

A usual, we had a real nice time. As you can see, Norman and I are now engaged!

More photos? Click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Anonymous....

Despite appearances and my passion right now for this election, I do try to keep an open mind and believe in Voltaire's declaration. I respect your right to your own opinion about Barack Obama and would not mind a private email discussion between us, but I have no idea who you are. If you would send me another anonymous comment and include your email, I will not post the comment but I'll write you privately and we can have a private discussion between us. We can keep it at a high level. I don't know that either of us will change his / her mind, but you never know.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sally!

Today is my sister's birthday! She turned 21 today for the umpteenth time. :-)

Isn't that a cute photo with her friends Davide and Mark? Mark looks like Mr. Clean. :-)

The pastries...ah, the pastries. Italian pastries are the best! I'm glad I'm not there right now! I need to lose weight, not gain it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mom, Getting Better and Better

Mom is doing great. During my last trip to Italy, which was three weeks long like the time before, her appetite improved a lot. When I first arrived, the thought of eating anything was repulsive to her. By the time I left, she was eating her meals with gusto.

Since coming home, I've been told her progress every day. Every day she has walked a little more than the day before. Before too long, she'll be walking better than before and going up and down stairs. That's the only thing she had left to do to get better and go home!

Obama Supporter?

Yes, yes, I am. I believe Barack Obama is the best hope we have to turn this country around and get us back on a firm footing. I believe that President Bush will be seen by historians as among the worst we've ever had. The reasons are many and I don't need to list them here - they have been written many times by many others.

I believe John McCain is too much like George Bush, agreeing with his policies 90% of the time. I believe the only presidential decision he has been able to make, the choice of a vice-presidential candidate, was very poorly made, leading to one of the least qualified vice-presidential candidates ever, especially when you consider McCain's advanced age and the lower probability that he will survive another four years without diminished capacity.

I have studied Barack's proposed policies and promises and agree strongly with him. I have also studied John McCain's and find myself dismayed by what he says, even when you take into account the number of times he has changed position. Obama has been consistent and he is a good man who will lead this country with honesty and wisdom.

I will apologize to nobody for my decision to support Obama and Biden. I take heart in the fact that the American people are starting to see through the lies and fear-mongering of McCain's people (Example: Obama is a Muslim terrorist! Obama's Christian pastor is a terrorist! Well, which is it? Is he a Muslim or is a Christian?).

On the other hand there are still too many racists in this country. Members of the ACORN organization have had their lives threatened and have had horrendously racist voice mails, laced with profanity, left on their voice mail. If you are not weak of stomach, you can see and hear what I mean by clicking here.

Please, look past your prejudices and ask yourselves whether you are really better off now than you were eight years ago, four years ago, even four months ago. If you really think George Bush was a great president, and if you do, you're one of the only 20% who still do, then by all means vote for John McSame and the totally unprepared and dangerous person who will take his place if he doesn't live another four years, Sarah Palin. If not, cast your vote for real change, wonderful change, and vote for Obama/Biden.

This is my blog and my opinion, based on real facts. If you disagree with me, write your own blog. If you wish to write negative comments, I will not post them. That's my right. You would just show me that you wish to attack me personally, because nobody else will see those comments. I don't want this to turn into a forum for racism and ignorance. If you are forward-thinking and ready for a change, you're welcome to post your comments here.

Life Has No Meaning

I have not had coffee in 12 days now. I had decided I was getting too addicted and wanted to cleanse my body of all that caffeine, so from the minute I got off the plane from Italy, I have not let a drop pass my lips. I also have been short on money so that's another reason. As I wrote a while back, Scott Adams, maker of Dilbert, had written that life without caffeine has no meaning. Well, I know what he means! I have been so sleepy, though luckily the headaches have stopped.

Maybe I'll one day have a cup of coffee again. I still have a lot of cravings for it. We'll see!

Last night I had a dream in which someone handed me a cup of coffee. I took a sip...and I woke up! Wow, that was powerful coffee!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Potato Pizza Again!

Remember my surprise when I was in Italy a couple of weeks ago and my sister made pizza with potato slices on it? I had thought I had not seen that before but last night after the Obama rally my son and I went to have pizza and lo and behold potato pizza was on the menu! I ordered it. It was good!

Barack Obama Rally

Last night my son Michael (in the last photo) and I went to a Barack Obama rally near where we live. It was a lot of fun! Very cool. I got some video footage and some photographs. We got there kind of late because traffic was very very slow. There were probably 50,000 people there, but I’m not good at judging that sort of thing. By the time we got to the metal detectors, they had just closed them down and wouldn’t let us past them. But we were close enough to get a good glimpse of him after a lot of searching and the audio was plenty loud enough. My photo of him (in the yellow box) came out fuzzy - sorry! You can click it to enlarge it.

I think we all walked away extra inspired. The next President of the United States!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flying Home from Switzerland

Flying home from Switzerland - it's a long flight, almost 10 hours. OK, I know some of you have been on longer flights, but, hey, this is my blog, so tough!

This is Reston Town Center in the photo taken by me as we were nearing Dulles Airport.

Hey, don't all the people look like ants? Hey, what people? I see cars!

More supercoolamundo photos taken from my flight can be seen by clicking here.

Riding the airport train between terminals in the Zürich airport is fun! Watch the video and look and listen for the following: 1) the Sound of Music (this is Switzerland, after all!), 2) the mooing of cows and cowbells, 3) about halfway through, the multiple plasma screens on the side of the tunnel that create the effect of a moving picture perfectly synchronized with the speed of the train, and 4) the sign at the end of the tunnel telling passengers that the mountains are 30 seconds away!

Flying Over the Alps...The Other Direction!

Flying early in the morning from Milan to Zürich was very beautiful. The sun was just peeking over the clouds and the Alps. I took some nice shots from my window.

You can see more photos by clicking here.

Mother and Daughter, Italian Style

This is my friend Cristina and her beautiful one-year-old daughter named Maty. Maty is a delight - not fussy, very cute, and ready to smile back when you smile at her. You can see Cristina and her husband are raising her right!

Cristina is a super-nice, smart and pretty Italian lady who I'm very happy to count as a friend!

The big tree you see here is old. Tradition has it that Napoleon had a special affinity for that tree.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cortogno Italy Chestnut Festival

This very tall man was a resident of the Cortogno Chestnut Festival in Italy this past weekend. There is nothing better than yummy freshly-roasted chestnuts! There are two varieties there, your normal chestnuts, called castagne, and marroni, which have a thinner, more easily peelable skin, though I found that the meat of the marroni is more apt to crumble easily. Both are quite good, though!

Videos and more photos from the Cortogno Festival can be seen by clicking here!

Rosco the Cat

Remember the kittens born in my sister's home? Well, this is Rosco, a little older but still a kitten. I shot this video of him doing battle with a nefarious clothesline. Too cute!

More kitten videos can be found by clicking here!


This is my second cousin Francesco, son of my cousin Paola and her husband Dario, who I also consider family as much as a blood relative would be. They are salt of the Earth, a wonderful couple and their home is filled with love. Francesco is a lucky little boy.

More family photos and videos can be seen by clicking here!

Honey Man

This is my friend Davide's dad. He's a beekeeper over in Italy and harvests the honey. That's a piece of comb honey he's holding. I thought it was pretty cool so I took this photo.

Marola Chestnut Festival

These ladies were manning ((or is it womanning?) a booth at the Marola Chesnut Festival. I decided to make them world-famous by posting their photos here on my blog. Hollywood, here they come!

More photos from the Marola Festival? Click here!

The Black Hand...Found!

Outside my mother's hospital, I noticed this sign. Now, for those of you who don't know, the organized crime mafia in Naples is also called La Mano Nera - The Black Hand. Though nowhere near Naples, it appears that this hospital has been infiltrated by the Black Hand, if this sign is any indication. Surprisingly, the Black Hand also is telling us that we are not allowed inside unless we're workers. Maybe they're going legit?

Would You Buy This?

So there I was in the hospital, getting hungry, and didn't want to leave mom for long, so I thought I'd hit the snack machine. Special K bars are pretty good and not very caloric, only...why was the next one in line opened and partially eaten? No wrapper, and teeth marks...yum.

Click the photo to see the weirdness in its full glory.

Ideas? Theories?

Osama is Calculating...?

I saw this in a friend's home and looked twice, then thrice, to make sure my eyes weren't tricking me. An Osama calculator? Of course, I know and you know that Osama is a very common name in some parts of the world, and I'm sure this has nothing to do with that other Osama, but I still had to wonder!

Inspiration...For You!

I get videos like this sometimes from friends and normally I just save them for myself for when I need a little pick-me-up, a little bit of inspiration. This one I just had to share.

A Strange Combination

I saw this restaurant in Milan, Italy, this past Monday. I did a double-take. This restaurant serves Chinese and South American food. What? I've never seen that combination in a restaurant. I studied geography in high school, and I'm fairly certain that the Chinese people and people of South America are in totally different areas of the world! They may not even share a border!

I can only imagine the scene: a flight from Beijing to Buenos Aires. In seat 22A, Wenxin starts chatting with Pablo, who's seated in 22B. Pablo tries to tell Wenxin (in Spanish) that he doesn't understand Chinese, to which Wenxin (in Chinese) tries to tell Pablo that he doesn't speak Spanish. They stop talking.

An hour later, the flight attendants bring them their meals. They each notice the other scowling at the airline food at which point they both look at each other with delight - OMG, you're a foodie too and you can't stand bad food! They start walking up and down the aisle, looking for a passenger who could speak both Chinese (Mandarin, naturally) and Spanish (Argentinian dialect). It turns out there are about 50 people on board that fit the bill and so they choose the prettiest among them (I won't say if it is a man or a woman) and they proceed to discuss opening a restaurnat that served both Chinese and Argentinian food. Not good enough, they decide, it has to be food from ALL of South America.

But where to open it? Why, the only fair thing to do is to open it halfway between China and South America - Milan, Italy! So they both decide to learn Italian with bad Chinese / Argentinian accents and open a restaurant. The translator they have found is looking for a job so they hire her (OK, it's a woman! sheesh!) as the receptionist. She didn't really want to move to Milan, though, because her husband has a high-level government job in Buenos Aires, so they decide to use modern technology and let her be a receptionist virtually through a video feed. From the comfort of her home, through a laptop sitting at the reception desk in the restaurant, she greets customers coming in and asks them the usual questions. She then asks one of them to pick up the laptop and turn it around so she can direct them to their table. Once seated, she asks one of them to bring her back to the reception desk.

So far, so good...sort of!

P.S. Sorry about the scaffolding in front of the restaurant. I asked the workers to move it so I could take a good photograph for my blog and they responded by saying I could put the blog someplace. I didn't catch the place.

One Animal, Two Animals, Three Animals There Be

Walking my dog today I came across a strange animal. It's definitely not a mammal, fish insect or bird, so that leaves amphibian or reptile. It has a very hard shell, but it's not a snail. It was able to make its legs, tail and head invisible - like, totally gone! What the heck is it? Somebody told me it's called a turtle, a name that certainly sounds made up to me! They also said it makes a good soup, but I don't think so - it's too small to reach the top of the stove or stir a pot. I don't know what it would put in the soup, but it also looked to be so slow that I would be mighty hungry before it was done cooking the soup.

Anyway, I decided to bring my guinea pigs outside to the backyard to compare the so-called turtle with the guinea pigs to see if the turtle was really a different kind of guinea pig, but I don't think so. Anyway, I gave up. I picked up the turtle and threw it as hard as I could - KIDDING! I brought my guinea pigs inside and then watched this strange creature from my window. It didn't move at all and its body parts remained invisible. I got bored after watching it for 30 seconds and went to do other stuff. An hour later I went back and it was gone - GONE. So it either was able to make the rest of itself invisible or it's also able to fly, although if I could fly, I would want people to see me do it, because that would be cool. So it probably can't fly, it can just make itself invisible. Which I guess is also kind of cool.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mom Update

Mom is doing better and better every day! At this point she is completely back to how she was except that she will need physical therapy for a while to regain full use of her legs again. She is now back to the hospital near her house in Castelnovo Nei Monti. Dr. Maccari, seen in the photo with me and my sister and my mom, is the head resident at the hospital and has taken a very keen interest in my mom's condition. Her illness and recovery is still quite a mystery and Dr. Maccari is also a very caring individual.

For the last two days, I recorded with my videocamera my mom talking about her life. She told some fascinating stories about when we were very small and about her life growing up. This is a priceless gift that we will always treasure.

Nutty Dog

Klaus, my sister's dog, sure likes nuts. He knows they have a delicious center and is willing to spend time cracking them open with his teeth to get to those yummy innards. Watch the video - Klaus looks pretty funny cracking open that nut!

Alessandro and Lordana

Loredana has been a friend of my sister's since we were teenagers. They still live in Milano, where we also grew up part of our lives. Loredana has also been a friend of mine since we were teens. She married Alessandro and they have two boys.

Today they drove from Milano to visit mom and to see me off before I go home in a couple of days. Of course, they also came to see Sally and everyone else! It was so good to see Alex and Lori again!

Two Confused Kitties

The saga of the kittens continues! My sister has been remodeling the house this year. A few months ago, she had two beautiful arches built into the wall between the entrance hallway and the living room. Bookshelves fill the arches and the idea was to fit them with glass on one side. Today was the day that the glass was put in.

Well...the kittens were born a couple of months ago, way after the arches were built. They had gotten quite used to scampering under the bookshelves through the arches. Suddenly, there is glass where earlier there was just air! They have had the strangest looks on their faces when walking up to the glass, pawing at it, wondering what this strange solid thing is. Play the video too!

Potato Pizza...Why Not?

It's Saturday night, so it's homemade pizza night at my sister's house. She makes everything from scratch and uses a lot of veggies from her garden. The secret to Italian cooking is that everything is super-fresh - nothing canned if possible. No preservatives or additives. Tonight I had a slice of pizza with olives and potato slices. Know what? It was yummy!

Sheepish Area

These sheep, close to my sister's place, are well-protected by the dog who stands guard and herds them when needed. Play the video to see how the dog came after us to warn us not to get to close to that wool and succulent lamb chops!

Yes, You Can Buy Amreican Bread Here

Why would you want to? Dunno...but you can buy that soft white bread that is the mainstay of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs! I love the labels - enlarge the photo to see them better.

Fall Colors in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

iWith all the trees and hills around here, it's quite wonderful to see nature here in the fall - all the different colors of the trees create quite a spectacular panorma.

Don't you agree?

Want to see more? Click here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Strangely Worded Sign

Two things about this sign I saw in a store in the US before I came to Italy (yes, that's me taking the picture in the reflection).

1. What the heck is ratation? Yes, I know, it's supposed to be rotation. Don't they have spell-checking?

2. More importantly, why would you advertise a tire sale as a BLOWOUT sale??? ;-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Giorgia's Birthday Party

Giorgia has become a second sister to me and a first to my sister Sally. She is that dear a friend to us. We decided to throw her a birthday party last Saturday and invited several people. She is the sweetest person you could ever meet, bar none (even sweeter than I am!).

More fun photos and a video can be seen here!

Miniature House Show in Bibbiano, Italy

In Bibbiano, there was a show also of miniature houses. Built by hand with meticulous detail, they are real works of art.

A lot more of these photos can be seen by clicking here.

Bibbiano Aritisan Show

My sister's artisan work was proudly on display in Barco di Bibbiano this past weekend. Bibbiano is considered the birthplace of Parmesan cheese, so show some respect! My sister's works were among those of other artisan works, the best in the area. In the first photo, you see several dignitaries from the area, including the mayor of Bibbiano, the gentleman with the tricolor sash. (Mayors here wear the sash for official functions.)

More photos? Click here!

Uncle Attilio and Cousin Arianna

Here I am on the left with my sister Sally, my uncle Attilio and his daughter, my cousin Arianna, and my brother-in-law Settimo. Uncle Attilio and cousin Arianna came to visit from Friuli, an area in Northeast Italy, about five hours' drive from here.

More Photogenic Kitten Pictures

The kittens are still cute!