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Tuesday, March 09, 2010
the Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming (to Venice)

I support Venezia2020

And considering this blog's long and uninterrupted history of Obamabashing, there's little or no chance of getting (suffering?) "the One" 's support for my position, so that makes it a shoe-in. Just call it my contribution to a bigger cause...

P.S. more another time as to why I really do think that Venice would make a wonderful Olympic venue.

Posted at 12:00 pm by OldJacques
Say you what?    

"Swiss voters reject giving abused animals a lawyer"


And I say "Bravo!".
Not because I don't like animals, I have loved many a pet over the years.
Not because I am some sort of Hannibal animal torturer.
But because what they were proposing doesn't really make any sense.

Because if what they say it will cost is true, there is no reason that this should be a bureaucratized governmental position at all. Particularly considering that if something is done by the private sector, it almost always is done better, at greatly decreased costs.
And even if privately it would be a 1sfr/person cost, that means if they get an average of 10sfr from just 10% of the people, or an average of 50 from 2% (and the median could be reduced immensely by finding a couple of decent corporate sponsors like Purina).

Friday, March 05, 2010
Northeastern Italian Weather (yuk)

So my littlest, as we are walking down the stairs to make our way to the asilo (preschool) says "Oggi è brutto" (lit. Today is ugly, but it doesn't mean that in Italian, since there is an implied "tempo" at the end, which then means bad weather, even though tempo is also the word used for "time"), and so to double check that she knows the English form, I ask "You mean today there'll be bad weather?" to which there can be no other answer than the exasperated response "Ma papà, certo! deve anche nevicare! (snow!)" since she already understood perfectly (my little bilingual angel).

And sure enough, not even time to get out of the asilo and the first little drops of an annoyingly fastidiosa light rain (pioviggina inf. piovigginare - as in "it's drizzling") hit my lip, then nose, then the rest of the face. By the time i manage to get away from the newstand and the paper is already riddled with little waterstained pockmarks that will leave it all wrinkly for the rest of the day. Oh well, at least there isn't Acqua Alta today.

On a related note, curious, I find, is the "It's raining, it's pouring" version in Italian:

Piove, piove
la gatta non si muove,
si spegna la candela,
si dice: buonasera!
si accende il lumicino
si dice: buonmattino!

Meaning (roughly, and without rhyme):
It's raining, it's raining
the cat doesn't even move,
blow out the candle,
say: good evening!
light the candle
say: good morning

Class excused, Italian lessons over for the day...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Italia.IT, the renowned (some would say infamous) Italian National tourism portal, has done it once again.

Even after the millions of euros thrown away by the right leaning government before launching it, and by the left leaning one that inherited it to manage to get it on line, with almost as many problems and criticisms as euros spent; the modifications to get it in line with the current accessibility laws and to placate the most severe of the criticisms; and the soon thereafter blackout for another extended period of many many moons, they still haven't found 9 euros* to hire a decent proofreader for the home page** in English.

In Italian, the bottom right corner has a menu of site services (Colophon), the first of which (and thus, presumably the most important) is "Collabora",

 which leads to a page for feedback and suggestions entitled, appropriately "Collabora"

BUT, in English, they try, but just can't seem to get it right...


Now had Ken Kane, my HS freshman year English teacher, seen that glaring error***, it would have been an immediate grade off. Were that a final paper, he probably would have refused to move past the front page and gone straight to "F", or made me retype the entire paper from scratch (we didn't have word processors, much less web sites or blogs, way back when).
Were that front page the result of millions and millions of euros of investment and years of effort, well, let's just say that it was a Christian institute, so it probably would have been worse than flogging but better than crucifixion.

* http://punto-informatico.it/2813203/PI/News/italiait-problemi-traduzione.aspx

** http://www.italia.it/en/home.html

*** for the spelling challenged, "partecipate" is the second person plural of the verb "partecipare" - IN THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE. In English it does NOT exist. The correct word for exhorting people to collaborate with the editorial staff of the portal in English is "Participate".

P.S. note the fantastic attention to detail through beautiful 3-d effects on the drop shadows, but total lack of communication skills by ignoring things like proper English...

P.S.2 note this jewel of a useful translation, in terms of clarity:

Documenti necessari per guidare in Italia
Le patenti rilasciate da qualsiasi Stato appartenente all'Unione Europea sono valide all'interno di tutto il territorio UE, quindi anche in Italia.
Se si possiede una patente rilasciata da uno Stato non UE è necessario avere un permesso di guida internazionale o una traduzione giurata della propria patente.

Documents required to drive in Italy
Driving licences issued by any of the EU member states are valid throughout the European Union, including Italy.
Drivers in possession of a licence issued by any EU country do not require an international driving permit or a sworn translation of their own licence.

Is it just me, or does the English say something quite different (though not contradictory), and much less useful, for someone from outside the EU, who doesn't happen to speak fluent Italian (like a typical foreign tourist)? How so typically Italian.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
AGW and the rest of the nut jobs

Sometimes, there are nut jobs and then there are really nut jobs. AGW (you know, I admit I just don't know what the first A really stands for?) is one of those really ones. I can understand being for saving energy (after all, energy costs a lot, no matter what you do to generate the energy). And I can understand being in favor of energy efficient methods of generating and using energy. But claiming that CO2 is evil just goes over the limit: how can all those poor plants all over the planet eat if all their chlorophyll filled cells can't get enough atoms to convert into energy? And i can't understand the people against nuclear energy. After all, all energy is just conversion of some kind of nucleus+electrons to some other kind, so why worry if it is radioactive or carbon based, as long as it is really controllable? And I don't consider anything in the ex-USSR as any sort of valid control... much less when it was a "control" in the 80s. If anything, I would consider it a warning against the current direction of the government controls, rather than against the energy policies...

Posted at 12:25 am by OldJacques
Comments (1)    

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Bad match

You found WHAT in your sausage sandwich?

*WHAT* did you find in the sausage?

You'd think there would be a way that both advertiser and publisher could avoid the risk of this happening.

Posted at 10:08 am by OldJacques
Say you what?     Foodstuffs, Web@round

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Some Real "HOPE" for a "CHANGE"

Well, the news is out. Ted Kennedy wasn't strong enough to keep his seat from beyond the grave, though many thought his ghost and legacy would stay there in eternity and manage to guide Massachusetts. Let us hope, for his sake too, that it is a sign that he is resting in peace.

And while it probably will be, and rightly should be debated as to whether Brown actually won the election or whether his Democratic opponent just fumbled it away and lost it, there is now true hope that the change which it seems great numbers, even a majority, of Americans don't want (at least not in the form the politicians are currently trying to use) pushed down their throats, and rammed through in record time, will not come to pass prematurely before it can actually come to light in all of its minute, politically crammed details. Health care can definitely be improved, but forcing a single system that is stuffed full of special tokens and more exceptions than rules, discussed in backroom deal halls instead of in the open daylight is definitely not the way to do it.

And do note that the honeymoon is now officially over, to the day. Obama has stuck his neck out twice in very big ways (Chi2016 and his last minute ditch for Coakley this past Monday) and both times it has come around like a boomerang to hit him when and where he didn't expect it. Time to forget about inauguration parties, vacations, romantic Valentine's dinners with the wife in Chicago, kegger parties on the White House lawn (well, maybe it was more like widely televised beers amongst "friends"), and roll up those sleeves, re-watch the videos of the campaign trail, and get back to what was actually promised, such as transparency and honesty and efficiency.

The only real fear is that this is some astute Rocky move by the Dems as in just getting really mad. But the only thing that this Potus seems to have in common with a Rocky Balboa is the thug mentality.

Posted at 06:55 am by OldJacques
Comments (2)     PoliticAmericana

Monday, January 11, 2010
common sense

always liked him...

Posted at 04:24 pm by OldJacques
Say you what?    

Sunday, January 03, 2010
The New Army

Blonde doesn't usually do anything for me.
Young doesn't usually do anything for me.
... but ...

you have to love a nice, sweet smile when it is on the right side of the equation...

Friday, December 11, 2009
Late night caffeine dreams

So I should be in bed, but am trying to catch up on stuff, and am still a little lagged (jet-wise) so I keep having visions of coffee dancing through my head, and was trying to think of most of the variations available here in Italy, as compared to the piccolo-grande-tall of Starbucks fame, which I actually managed to avoid my last trip stateside. So here goes (illustrations may follow, but may not too, it depends if I manage eventually to get to sleep or not):
  • caffè, also espresso, caffè espresso, caffè liscio ("smooth", with nothing added) - your basic Italian coffee made either in an espresso machine or a moka (a small stove top coffee maker, es. the hexagonal aluminum Bialetti ones). In bars, it is normally served in an espresso cup (tazza di caffè), also known as a demitasse cup, filling it about half-way, ideally with a very thin, slightly creamy coffee froth just about covering the top, with a small spoon on the small saucer and often with a packet of sugar (or sweetener, if the barista knows your preferences since you are a cliente fisso at the bar).


    • caffè ristretto: the first half of a normal coffee, the thickest and strongest tasting coffee, often barely enough for one gulp. Many believe this has the most caffeine of all the coffee drinks, but oddly enough it has the least, just the strongest flavor;
    • caffè lungo: the coffee machine is allowed to run until the cup is almost filled to the brim. The coffee grinds weaken over time during the shot, and so this becomes the weakest drink (but with the highest total caffeine content);
    • caffè macchiato, also macchiatto ("stained"): a caffè espresso is topped with a bit of steamed, frothed milk, filling it to the top of the cup. In the case of coffee made with a stovetop moka, it can be heated milk, without the froth;
    • caffè macchiato freddo: a small amount of cold milk is added, either by the barista, or by the client. In the second case, either a small, personal bricco (mini-carafe) is supplied, or a small carafe or bottle of milk is available on the bar for all the clients to share;
    • marocchino, also caffè della casa or other names: a caffè macchiato with a little cacao (cocoa powder) sprinkled on top, usually served in a glass espresso cup, making a sort of mini cappuccino. This variation supposedly originated in Northern Italy, and because of possible racial overtones (because of possible reference to not-so-popular Moroccan street vendors) many bars renamed it to something else, though the name spread and has become common throughout Italy;
    • caffè corretto: a small amount of liquor is added, from one teaspoon, to filling the caffè to the brim, depending on taste. Common additives are grappa (usually an unflavored variety), brandy, sambuca, and whisky. Often after a meal, when asked about caffè, a waiter may add "liscio o corretto?" (with or without anything extra);

  • caffè doppio: both outputs of a double espresso spicket are poured into one cup, or two single shots of espresso are poured together. Generally served in a normal espresso cup, filling it nearly to the top, but sometimes also in a cappuccino cup. This maintains the strength and density of a normal espresso, providing double caffeine and a more intense flavor than a caffè lungo (which is about the same total volume), and usually costs as much as two caffè;

  • caffè americano: a single espresso served in a cappuccino cup with hot water added until almost filled. Sometimes a brichetto of hot water, similar to that used to serve tea, will be provided so that the client can dilute the espresso to personal taste;

  • macchiattone, also macchiatone in tazza grande: the amount of coffee in a normal caffè in a cappuccino cup, which is then filled to roughly half full with hot, steamed, frothed milk, it usually costs slightly more than an espresso and slightly less than a cappuccino;

  • cappuccino: a normal caffè (or slightly "longer") served in a tazza di cappuccino (about the size of a small traditional American diner coffee cup) into which steamed, frothed milk, is poured, and optionally including a powdering of cacao before pouring. It is served on a larger saucer with a slightly less small spoon and usually two packets of sugar. It is also possible sometimes to add a touch of powdered cinnamon. The cappuccino supposedly represents a friars light-skinned scalp surrounded by the dark ring of his remaining hair, as seen from above, since the coffee and cocoa tend to form a ring around the white milk poured in the center. By creative movement of the milk container during the pour, or using an auxiliary such as a toothpick, a talented barista can create other designs between the white of the milk and the brown of the coffee, ranging from "simple" palm frond shaped leaves to complex letters, if you are a favored client. It is also probably the most personalized, with many people asking for a cappuccino tiepido (lukewarm, either using only slightly heated milk, or by adding additional cold milk to cool it down), or a cappuccino senza schiuma (no frothed milk);

  • caffelatte: a caffè lungo in a scodella (a large cup at home or in a hotel), or in a tall, relatively thin glass (at a bar), with the addition of a large amount of hot steamed milk, and usually a little bit of milk froth. The glass is usually served on a saucer with a long iced tea style spoon and two packets of sugar;

  • latte macchiato: a large, tall glass of hot milk, with or without froth, into which a small amount of coffee is added. Similar to, but generally slightly weaker than caffelatte, and usually only at a bar;

  • latte caldo: maybe this shouldn't even be here, but since they serve it side by side with the others (often to little kids who like feeling big going out with the grown ups), but basically a latte macchiato, without the macchiato part. All milk, no coffee, but still served with sugar;

  • caffè freddo: generally prepared ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator. Served in a glass with liquid sugar syrup to sweeten it, since regular sugar doesn't melt enough to sweeten well at cold temperatures;

  • caffè shakerato: a work of art, if done well. A hot, slightly long espresso, or espresso doppio is poured into a cocktail shaker already prepared with ice, liquid sugar syrup, and sometimes vanilla. Once shaken, it is filtered into a glass, often a martini glass, including a good amount of foamy, bubbly coffee. Sometimes a little ground coffee is sprinkled on top. Normally the barista asks ahead of time how sweet you like it, as once it is poured it is difficult for any sugar to be absorbed;

  • deca, also caffè deca, caffè Hag (silent "H", pronounced "agg"), decaffeinato, Dek: decaffeinated coffee, used to make any of the preceding variations, such as deca macchiato, cappuccino deca or cappuccino Hag tiepido, there is normally a slight surcharge for any of the variations made with decaffeinated espresso;

  • caffè d'orzo: a barley malt based coffee substitute, which is also caffeine free (but which I personally think tastes awful), also used to make any of the preceding drinks, such as cappuccino d'orzo, macchiatone d'orzo;

  • caffè ginseng: a more recent variation, using a blend of coffee that contains ginseng, available in most of the variations;

  • ice coffee, also eis caffè, ice caffè: technically not "a coffee", but more of an ice cream concoction (well, gelato concoction to be exact), it is a sundae (usually vanilla or coffee flavored) served in a sundae glass or tall skinny glass, with hot coffee poured over it, and often topped with fresh whipped cream;

  • affogato caffè, also tartuffo affogato caffè: a desert comprised of a semispherical frozen chocolate creamy pastry with fresh hot espresso poured over it, served in a small cup large enough to contain the liquid coffee and melting ice cream;
When ordering "simple" caffè espresso (but no most milk-added variations), you may find it served with a small, slightly larger than shot-glass sized serving of water (particularly further south in Italy), which, depending on who you listen too, is for drinking before (to remove impurities and leave the mouth clean for the full coffee taste experience) or after (to rinse all the coffee out, to enjoy the last drop and avoid that it gets old in your mouth, ruining the experience later with stale aftertaste). Further north, you may find a small piece of chocolate, or chocolate covered coffee bean on the side of the saucer with the sugar.

Sitting down at a table almost always costs more than taking your espresso in piedi (standing up, near the bar).

And at breakfast, if you have a brioche (croissant, also cornetto in Rome) or other pastry, you are allowed to dip it into your cappuccino if you want to feel really, truly Italian.

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