Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ah yes . . .

. . . life in southern Italy

On the Med. Oranges, warm breezes, pasta, and uh . . . snow?

Ok, the photography sucks - but it was cold on the balcony in my pajamas.

Friday, February 25, 2011

When life gives you lemons . . .

. . . make a pie

A new arrival in my department was house hunting today. His prospective landlord gave him a few locally grown lemons.

Think they're large enough?

Sometime this weekend, I will pull out my mother's merangue recipe and my grandmother's pie crust recipe, and will magically transform these little specimens into a full-on lemon merangue pie.

Photos to follow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I have . . .

. . . a new philosophy

Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom the hide the bodies of those who pissed me off.
Carry on . . .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Daily . . .

. . . birdcage liner

The U.S. Navy has been criticised for spending almost half a million dollars of taxpayers' money on a flyover at the Super Bowl - while the stadium roof was closed.

Doesn't this rag have something more important to use to flex its journalistic muscles?

Lindsey Lohan's latest arrest?

Khloe Kardashian's see through top?

The teenage boy who wanted to join Girl Guides?

Wait. That WAS today's news.

Anyone who has tiniest bit of knowledge about high performance military aircraft realizes that pilots must practice continually. That is doubled for Navy pilots because their airports are VERY small, and in constant motion.

So, it doesn't matter whether they are flying across the everglades frightening alligators, or flying over the Super Bowl, providing entertainment, excitement and a little show of patrotism. In doing so, they have added to their flight hours, their flying skills, and their command and control capability. In fact, those flight hours would have been executed whether or not the Super Bowl asked for an overflight.

But why should a "reporter" for the mail let that interfere with a little mud slinging?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Barry . . .

. . . Stop. Please.

Losing patience, Obama challenges Egypt's leaders

Right now, the last thing any middle eastern country wants is advice from the United States. Further, the last thing on this planet that they care about is your lack of patience.

In his final statement, Obama challenged Egypt's leaders to plainly explain what the new changes mean and how they would help those who have led an uprising since late January.
Where do you derive standing to make such a demand of Egypt's leaders? What warrants your requirement of an explanation of internal affairs?

You have clearly demonstrated that you cannot fix everything. In fact, you have yet to prove that you can fix anything.

So, step back, take a breath and hit the pause button. If there is diplomatic work to be done, let the diplomats do their jobs.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Outstanding . . .

. . . in my field

Actually that should be out standing in my neighbor's field.

I expected a new employee to arrive very late today, so I laid in some supplies. I included two very fresh loaves of pane comune from a little panetteria in Bagnoli. Unfortunately, the plane was stranded in Virginia, and he will not arrive until tomorrow.

Since Italian bread goes stale very quickly, I decided to give one loaf to our neighbors.

Thus began my imprisonment.

Because Napoli is not the safest city in which to live, most of the villas in my neighborhood have very high walls topped with iron fences (with spikes) and electric gates.

My neighbors' Judas gate was open, so I assumed they were home. When the gate clicked shut behind me, that changed to I hope they're home."

They were not.

Now, I am locked in their driveway, which also leads to a field behind their house. The field leads to a sheer cliff on the edge of an old quarry, or to other high fences around other neighbors' yards.

Being an engineer and a planner, although I was stupid enough to lock myself in, I remained scientifically clever enough to create alternatives:

1) Wait for neighbor - Not good. I'm in my house slippers, and it's rather chilly.
2) Climb the fence - With two recent break-in attempts in the neighborhood, bad idea.
3) Look for help - Around the corner, it looks like a couple of my landlord's employees are working in the field.

Upside: They got in - with a tractor, no less. They must be able to get out.
Downside: There is no chance they speak English, and my Italiano sucks.

So, now it's "what the hell is "gate" in Italiano? Porta? No, that's door. Uscita? Close, but no. That's exit.

Ah . . . cancello. And aprire is "to open." And potere is "can you" or "are you able ." Now, what is the second person singular of potere?

But, there are two people there. Should I use second person plural?

Conjugate, dammit. Posso, puoi, può . . .

Forget it. Second person singular, it is.

Mi dispiace, ma puoi aprire il cancello, per favore.

(Roughly: I'm sorry, but is it possible for you to open the gate - please)

If I were in the water, sinking fast, and asking for someone to toss me a rope, I would have drowned before I composed the sentence.

But they opened the gate.

My neighbor is still rolling on the floor laughing.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Christina . . .

. . . and all you other urban yodelers*

Please, please, please stay away from our national anthem. I have no problem with you fumbling the words. Everyone makes mistakes. It wasn't what you sang - it was how you sang it. The anthem has been around for two hundred years, and does not need your interpretation.

The anthem belongs to us, not you, and you are not free to bend it into a science project for your vocal exercises.

If you receive an invitation to sing (and I use the word loosely) the anthem at another major event, decline.

I beg you.


And you event organizers, listen up. Did you learn nothing from Roseanne Barr?

*Urban yodeling: When a singer draws out or oscillates notes excessively (seems to have been started by the ilks of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera) Especially when covering music written by others. Can be heard in karaoke bars, and is generally used to mask a lack of singing talent.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Well meaning . . .

. . . but clueless
Today, on our weekly trip to the Navy Exchange/Commissary, Mrs. B decided to have her bangs trimmed.

The shetland sheepherder vibe wasn't working for her.

Rather than sit on the institutional rock-hard chairs in the shop and listen to discussions of womens' hairstyles, I wandered out to our Escape to read a new James Patterson book.

Did I mention that Mrs. B walks with a cane and has a handicap parking placard? She does, due to several back surgeries that were not completely successful. Our car was parked in one of the 12 handicap-marked parking spots in front of the NEX. Ten of them were empty.

I was engrossed in the story, windows down, 62F breeze blowing in, until I heard an "EXCUSE ME!"

I looked up, and the following conversation ensued:

Me: I beg your pardon?
Him: Are you pregnant?
Me (instantly understanding where he was going) : Excuse me?
Him: I said "Are you pregnant?" The sign says "Parking for Mothers-to-be and Handicapped."
Me: I can read.
Him: Well?
Me (calmly, with no trace of anger in my voice): I appreciate you asking, because too many people hijack handicap parking spaces. In fact, my wife has a permit, and she is inside getting her hair cut. I suggest, though, that the next time you ask, you rephrase your question, and you will come off as a concerned citizen rather than a sarcastic jerk. Are we good now?

Twat . . .

There is a reason folks my age become grumpy. Our lifetime ration of shite has been filled, we require no more, and we will reject it with extreme prejudice.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

That was the day . . .

. . . the music died

February 3, 1959

Mason City, Iowa

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

No we won't . . .

. . . yes, we will

In 2008, then-senator Barry O was opposed to a health care reform that required individuals to purchase insurance, and said this:

"If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house."

The man has never met a position he will not change.

Chicago politics writ large.