Thursday, May 18, 2006

the photos

they. are. all. done.
except a batch of 50 stragglers from the week before Sicily that i never edited, because i was overwhelmed by the prospect of editing 400 sicily photos. they may go up soon.

next projects:
1. the movie page. all the movie clips and qtvrs will go online on a umich page.
2. the photo book. i'm making a massive photo book of all 2000-howevermany photos. should run me about $150. should be worth it, and is cheaper than making regular prints anyhow.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the train from Pisa

wow, it's been far too long, and i return with a totally frivolous and non-relevant post. but here it is. Tulisha just bought a train ticket from Pisa to Rome and got her randomly generated not-related-to-the-english-lexicon confirmation code:


no F-ing kidding.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

where have i been?

lots of places, actually. since i last wrote (i know, too long ago) i've been to sicily for 8 days, and on spring break to Siena, Venice, and Milan. so what's the big holdup? while i was in sicily i had no internet, so i couldn't update on the fly. then i figured i'd get my pictures uploaded first so i could link to them, right? well i took about 400 photos in sicily and it's been a battle to get them to upload in any sort of timely fashion. i'm still working on them. so. in the next couple days i should have entries on all of sicily up, and i'll probably start on the first part of the trip before then.

then spring break. that's another 150-ish photos, so you're gonna have to be patient. ok? thanks!

Monday, February 27, 2006

drive-by treatment of the past week

a quick summary, then i'm off to study greek:

tuesday, wednesday, thursday: field trips in the rain
thursday, friday, saturday: parents in town
saturday: horologium of augustus. photos on flickr
sunday: Kerry, Alicen, and I went to the Lazio - Roma derby! things were set on fire and exploded. Lazio unfortunately lost 0 - 2. we survived. photos and videos coming soon

i may come back to treat these topics in more detail, if i have time between studying for my exams and getting ready to leave for Sicily. for now, i'm off!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

step 3: back to Roma

we spent the whole night up in Torino at the notte bianca, an all-night party of sorts in the streets of Torino. unfortunately, not much party-like or olympic-related activity was going on, but we could at least wander the streets as part of a large crowd instead of by ourselves, which would have been extremely creepy. by about 2 00 i was getting very very hungry and was probably dehydrated some, and was starting to feel faint. all the bars were crammed packed, and sadly the only two places that weren't swarmed were mcdonald's and a pastry place. i probably could have used the sugar, but anything really sweet didn't seem appealing at the time. i ate some fries and got back on my feet. not that i ever left my feet. we were standing or walking the entire time, until we got back to the Porta Nuova station. there we found a bench and around 3 30 our train came in. we quickly got on and claimed seats, which was good, because it was standing room only by the time it departed at 5. we got to Milan at about 7 and headed back to the hotel to pick up my bags. i rested there for about half an hour before going to Milano Centrale station and buying my ticket back to Rome. i spoke my halting but correct italian to the ticket clerk, who immediately started using english. it must be my accent or there'd be no way they could know so quickly! by the end of the transaction i was speaking all italian and she was speaking all english. there's definitely something backwards about that...

i planned on sleeping the entire way back to Roma, but that didn't happen. the girl who sat across from me on the train somehow looked like she spoke english (i guess if i can tell i know how the italians do) and in fact she did. her name was Kelty, and she's a 5th year student at the University of Calgary studying geology. all she has left to do for graduation is a field school this spring, so she's touring Europe here during the late winter. you can read all about her travels over at her blog. we talked about curling (yes! i found more curling fans!), geology, classics, good books, and life in general, until she debarked the train at Firenze. i did then pass out entirely, and i'm glad i woke up for my stop in Rome. i had set an alarm, but it went off without me hearing it. i woke up 5 mins later, plenty soon before we arrived. it felt like i was home at last when i set foot in Stazione Termini! i caught the 75 home to the Centro and got there just 10 minutes into the Lazio match which started at 3 00. we beat Fiorentina 2-1 in a very entertaining match. last night i crashed at 10 00, since i was so dead. i figured that i had about 4 hours total in the past day, all sitting up. now it's monday night, and late at that, so i better be getting to bed again. field trip tomorrow, buying tickets for the Roma-Lazio derby on Wednesday. hopefully, i'll keep you posted more frequently! a domani, ciao!

step 2: Torino! (and Pinerolo!)

we got up at 6 on saturday so we could make it to the station on time for our 8 00 train to Torino. we had first class tickets which was nice, so we had bigger more comfy seats, and they served us coffee and biscotti. everyone around us on the train spoke english as a first language, either being American or Canadian, and also heading to the games.

we arrived in Torino and the first round of trying to decipher the transportation system began. we managed to buy bus tickets and take the proper bus to the Esposizione arena to try to buy tickets for an earlier event, probably hockey, since our curling tickets were for the 7 pm matches. we stood in a long line, and were at one point approached by a scalper who i'm guessing from his accent was dutch. he offered us tickets at 50 euro a piece, telling us that the biglietteria would only have 80 euro tix remaining and the line would take forever. he was right on one of those accounts: the line was long but mostly moved at a reasonable speed, but the hockey games were in fact sold out of the cheap seats. we weren't about to pay $100 USD per ticket to see Russia vs. Kazakhstan. i proposed that we head to Pinerolo, the site of the curling events, early and try to get tickets to the 2 00 session. curling hadn't sold out all week, so why should it now?

naturally, upon arrival in Pinerolo at 1 00, the curling was sold out. we had 6 hours to kill in a little town halfway between Torino and the mountains. we set off in search of a place to eat lunch. we found the tourism bureau on the way and asked them for advice. they told us a trattoria to go to and gave us directions in slow enough italian and with enough gestures that we pretty much knew where we were going. we also got a guide to pinerolo restaurants as a backup plan. we found the trattoria, which was very busy. after waiting about 10 minutes, someone finally came to help us and told us that they were full, and wouldn't be seating any more customers. we were pretty miffed that no one told us that when we first got there. it was 2 00 by this point and many places were closing. we found a place in the book that usually isn't open for lunch at all, but was during the olympics. it was on the second floor of a new office building. we had to buzz to get in, which puzzled us, but we were desperate and hungry.

sign for Casa del Gallo the Casa del Gallo was a marvelous restaurant. we were the only people there, which is usually a little creepy, but the service and food were both so wonderful that we hardly noticed. besides us it was just the waitress and the cook. our waitress was marvelous. she spoke excellent english and even went through the entire menu translating every item for us! we expected to fake our way through the menu, which usually isn't too difficult, but she insisted. i had an artichoke flan with the modern equivalent of garum, which was strong but very delicious. i also had a plate of gnocchi. they had a tv on in the restaurant showing the olympics. the waitress and the cook were also watching, and we were all cheering and exclaiming together. we stayed over two hours, eating, drinking, and having fun. we left a very nice tip since our hosts were so gracious. then we left to wander the town a little before heading back to the Palaghiaccio venue.

we only had to wait outside a little bit before they opened the doors at the Palaghiaccio. we went in and took our seats. i was so excited! olympic curling, in person! let the naysayers at the Centro say what they like, curling is awesome. (as i write this, Prof. Klaasen, our Canadion professor is back in Italy and will now be with me defending the greatness of the sport.) our seats were in the corner and not very high, so i was kind of disappointed, but we could get up at any time and walk around the top walkway of the arena for a better vantage. the best part about our location was that we were right in front of the Japanese cheering section! man were they fabulous! Japan is not known for its curling prowess, but they had some of the best support in the arena.

we saw three matches (yeah we were kinda cheated since most sesssions had four, but they were all great matches). the US dominated Italy, winning 11-3 in just 6 ends. when they shook hands i said "it's over." my dad said "what do you mean it's over?" i said "they shook hands, it's over! they conceded. done!" the next sheet over was Great Britain and Norway, the match which i expected to be closest. they did play a hard-fought and close match, which Dordy Nordby's Norwegian rink wound up winning in 8 ends. the surprise match of the night was Japan vs. Sweden. the Swedes stood in first place in the tournament and were the favorites from the start. but Japan jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first two ends and never trailed until the 9th. Sweden pulled it back close and was leading by 1 with Japan having the hammer in the 10th end. Japan was lying one with their final stone to come, so they knew they had at least forced the extra end. their shot for two to win the match unfortunately overcurled and hit the guard, so they went to extra ends. but since Japan scored in the 10th, Sweden got the hammer. Japan did a fabulous job in the 11th, putting three in the house and blocking all the Swedes attempts to put a rock in the rings! Japan threw a final center guard with their last stone and looked to have clinched the match. but Swedish skip Annete Norberg made a perfect draw through the only possible hole and hit the button for one, and the victory. i felt bad for all the Japanese who had cheered so hard, especially since Sweden was already assured a berth in the semifinals. they all seemed in good spirits despite the loss though: i think they knew what a great showing they had put up against the world's best.

after the event we caught the train back to Torino, on which i took a brief nap. because the night had only started...

step 1: Milano!

this past weekend i went to Milan to meet my parents and onward to Torino for a day at the olympic games. it was a long long weekend with very little sleep. i'll try to recall all the details.

friday morning was crazy. i planned to leave the centro at 9 15 to catch the 10 30 train to Milano. however a series of events conspired to stop me from doing this. i was going to take a shower after breakfast, but the Centro cleaning ladies decided to clean all of the bathrooms at once then. that set me back about 20 minutes while i waited for them to finish. i left the Centro at 9 30 and luckily caught a 75 bus right away. but traffic was bad in Rome. we pulled up to the piazza (which is really just a massive orgy of bus parking and bus stops) in front of Stazione Termini and there was a huge traffic jam at the intersection. we were stopped dead, so a woman on the bus started telling the driver to open the doors and let us off there, we could walk. i backed her up with gestures and my little Italian, but the driver was adamant, he had to get to his stop first. it took us 15 minutes to get from the corner to the stop (about 100m away). i ran into the station and got to the ticket desk at 10 10. they were sold out of seats for my train, so i booked a seat on the 11 30.

my parents were planning on meeting me at the station in Milan when my train arrived, so i had to let them know i was going to be late. i had an epic battle with the Italian payphone, and in the end i never was able to dial the toll free number for my phone card successfully. i fortunately had a local access number for Rome, so i had to sacrifice a 1 euro coin (i didn't have any smaller coin) and use that number. i got through to the hotel, but the man there only answered "pronto," not identifying the hotel or anything else about himself. i tried to speak italian, but it was too difficult. he didn't know much english but i think he handed the phone over to someone else. i could barely hear in the loud station, but in the end he told me my parents were out, and i left a message that i would be late. they returned to the hotel, but never got the message.

the train ride was somewhat eventful, although not for me personally. a man who i would guess was in his early sixties got a cell phone call from his sister. the conversation went like this:
"pronto. eh...? c'è morta!? o, ma donna!"
she was calling to inform him that their mother had died. he made and received several phone calls to and from family members for the rest of the ride. i hope that he and his family are all doing ok.

i got into Milan at 4, so there wasn't really much time to see anything because most places were shutting down at 5 or 5 30. the main area of the duomo was open until 7 though, so we went in there. i want to climb onto the roof again, which i did the last time i was in Milan 14 years ago, so i'll have to go back. i think i probably will some weekend this spring.

inside il duomoalcove in the duomo

that night we went to my godmother Cynthia's apartment and had dinner with her boys, Federico and Alessandro, and her mother, Rosalba. i haven't seen Rosalba since i was in Italy the last time so it was really like meeting her for the first time. she's not afraid to speak her mind and is a fabulous storyteller. we heard lots about her life in Italy and in the US over a delicious lasagna that Cynthia cooked. i'd like to go to Milan again just to see them (not that i won't get some sightseeing in too).

we retired fairly early to our hotel since we had to leave early in the morning. to get to our rooms you had to go two flights up and one flight down. italian hotels are kinda screwy. the largest dimension of my little single room was its height. i meant to take a picture but forgot. not that there would have been much to take a picture was so small that i'm sure there was no angle that would have done it justice. the bed was warm so i slept soundly - something i definitely wouldn't be doing the next night.

state of the blog

no no, it isn't dead, despite the fact that it's been two weeks. it's just been two very busy weeks. well not so much busy as i've killed a lot of time doing other things. this past week the olympics have been on and that's definitely sucked away large chunks of free time. i've finally got all my photos up: from field trips, my trip to Florence, and most recently my trip to Milan and Torino. the pictures tell the story of the things i saw better than any of my rambling prose could, so the only things gone by the wayside are the little anecdotes and stories...i will have to keep posting more frequently in the future so those things aren't lost. and even the old ones may be brought up later as they are retold and remembered. anyhow, now onto my Torino post (which you had to scroll past to read this) =P

Monday, February 06, 2006

apologies for the flood

sorry for the flood of posts relating the last few days events. i wanted to make sure they all got in there. i didn't include many photos in the posts themselves, but they're all on flickr now. i guess this little post is contributing to the pileup, but if you want to catch up, scroll down to "the quest" and start from there. enjoy!

is that a meat log on your plate...

tonight's second course at dinner was a veritable meat log: a sausage rolled in chicken rolled in bacon. you can imagine the immature innuendo that came from that. what you might not expect was the fact that it all came from the end of the table where Walsh, Mira, and Fenton were sitting. there is something to be said for dining with your professors every night. some particular gems:

Mira: "i think there's a bone in mine"
Fenton: "that's there for extra rigidity"

Fenton: "and it's cooked in butter."
Walsh: "well you need to throw some lube on there."

then the conversation turned to the evolution of metal music. i forget the band in question (was it Rush?) but Fenton pulled out this gem:
"it's like masturbatory guitar playing crossed with Ayn Rand."

needless to say this was the most bizarre dinner i've had so far. and no i was not drinking.

super sunday

sunday was a looooooooooooooong day.

we started early, 8 45 heading out for the flea market at Porta Portese. i had heard that a) it was huge and b) watch your cash while you're there. at least the former proved to be very very true. we approached it from V.le di Trastevere, and therefore got no appreciation of its magnitude at first. i thought i had seen maybe half of it at first glance. i in fact had seen about 10% of it. there are hundreds of stalls and you can buy damn near anything there. most of it is junk, bootleg, or stolen, but it's a bargain, so what the heck.

there was some crazy stuff. busted computers, rotary phones, cacti, clothes of all descriptions, food...literally everything. we only made it through about half or maybe two thirds of the market. we found the stall we were looking for though, calcio apparel. i and several others got lazio hats, Jon got a lazio scarf, and Andrew got a lazio flag, all in prep. for that night's match against Milan. i would have liked to spend a little more time looking at the other junk, but we were there for a long time as it was. the 1 euro cactus was really tempting though, despite the superfluousness of it.

we headed back to the Centro area (back up the steps because none of us dared take our wallets to the market, and therefore didn't have our bus passes either) and got some pizza for lunch. at 3 00 the early calcio matches came on tv and we watched some. for the people going to the calcio match and therefore missing the usual dinner hour, Luke had purchased 3 kilos of hamburger and we had a good American cookout in the garden in honor of the Super Bowl coming up that night. we had no plates, no cups...just hunks of meat and cheese on a bun in one hand and two wine bottles to pass around. it was awesome: the beef was cooked to perfection and the company and weather were both good.

we were really anticipating the Lazio match that night though. we had a huge group going (19 Centristi, Prof. Walsh and his girlfriend Mira) and were really pumped. we were expecting to get slaughtered since Milan was clearly the better team. start of the game Lazio played to a scoreless first half and we were kinda surprised that the Curva Nord, the season ticket holders section at the opposite end of the stadio was surprisingly quiet. apparently they were having a protest against the new team owner and not cheering at all during the first half. the small, fenced-in Milan contingent started lighting flares and exploding things early on though. mostly just flares, but they tossed one full-blown firework into the next section which was at least empty (i doubt they're rowdy enough or stupid enough to throw them into people). the stadium was about half full...not exactly the packed Big House that i'm used to, but the atmosphere was still fun.

in the second half the Curva Nord came out in full flag-waving force. Lazio continued to play OK and Milan couldn't get anything going. we heard some interesting songs in the second half. two variations of "Forza Lazio Alè" to the tunes of Yellow Submarine and Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a strange one from the Milan contingent to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club theme. we watched the clock closely (just an analog clock. they've got a huge freaking scoreboard and they don't put the score or the time on it. i really don't understand that one.) and we made it to the 90th minute still 0-0 despite a shot off the crossbar from Milan. with about 5 minutes left, i uttered words i thought would never cross my lips: "i'd be really happy with a scoreless tie here." and a scoreless tie we got. we piled onto a majorly crowded bus and made the long ride back to the Centro for some good, American football.

ok let's face it. the Super Bowl was a lousy game. 1.) no American commercials. 2.) the Steelers won. 3. the officiating was bona fide TERRIBLE 4.) i had to stay up until 4AM. i actually bailed with 7 minutes left in the game when it was certain who would win. i got my 6 hours sleep and rolled out of bed for the morning city course lecture. good stuff.

lazy saturday

saturday was pretty laid back. i mostly stayed around the Centro because i had to get my laundry done. but Alicen, Kerry, and i went down to Trastevere for lunch to try to find the place that Scott told me had the best pizza on the planet. the name of the place i had from him was Pizzeria Panotoni, but at the same address we instead found a Pizzeria Frontoni. i think it was the same place because the pizza was indeed excellent, and pretty cheap. it was a nice large cafe with plenty of indoor seating. while we were in there a crazy gypsy-ish guy came in and ordered a drink and walked around in his backless shoes, long coat, and yarmulke-looking hat, muttering. he also had a large crucifix in a plastic shopping bag. it was a littel surreal, but he left pretty quickly.

we took the 44 back up the hill instead of the steps and got off a stop early to walk through a park down there. it was pretty nice, lots of interesting fountains, and it was really nice outside despite being cloudy. Kerry and Alicen have photos that i will have to steal from them since i didn't have my camera. we came back to the centro and began our calcio-watching spree. basically i did some homework and that for the rest of the day, apart from going to Bruno's for dinner. i had a great tortellini dish and we ordered the house red wine. it was pretty awful, i must say. i was surprised because their house white was quite good. oh well. a late english premier league football match ended at about 11 30 and we were already passing out on the couches, so we called it an early night, esp. since we were planning on hitting the flea market sunday morning.

always look on the bright side

friday was also Kali's birthday. we had an amazing cocoa and coffee torte for dessert at dinner. sadly, Kali is allergic to both of those! Pina, since she is so amazing, made a special small dessert for Kali at least.

of course since it was friday, we had to go out and celebrate. we hit one of our traditional Trastevere haunts, Bro's. Bro's is really a restaurant, but they're not ashamed to sell us just drinks. we went and bought a couple rounds for Kali and the rest of the gang (about 12 strong, i think myself, Alyssa, Mark, Kerry, Chris, Alicen, Andrew, Eli, Katherine, i forget). we went out pretty early because Kali didn't want to stay out too late. we got back to the Centro at about 12 and were still pretty awake. we popped in Life of Brian and kicked back. Eli, Alicen, Alyssa, Andrew, and I stayed up to watch. the movie finished around 2 and we all went to collapse into bed. as it should be.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

the quest

friday morning i wound up going to the questura anyhow because i found out that Megan was going. i knew that there weren't that many people who still hadn't gone, and i certainly didn't want to go alone. so i woke up for breakfast, and with my bandaged hand she, Elizabeth, and i walked over.

we got there at 9 00 and the guy at the little reception window just started yelling italian at us when we asked about the permesso di soggiorno. eventually he told us to go sign the list outside and wait there. we didn't even realize there was a list. what it turned out to be was a piece of scrap paper taped against the side of the building. there were two people on the list ahead of us, also waiting outside. we signed up and waited. and waited. 9 30 rolled around. some more centristi came by also looking to get their permessi. they waited about 20 mins and gave up. it was now 9 50. some more people had come and signed up. some people had given up and left. there was one guy wearing a white coat who seemed less patient than the rest. around 10 he went inside. we followed and waited in there. it was at least warmer

at 10 i already had to go to the bathroom from the huge cup of italian coffee i drank to get myself going at breakfast. i was ready to bail out at 10 15. Megan says, "no, let's wait until 10 30." at 10 23 i was about to bail again. she made me wait the 7 minutes. the clock struck 10 30 and we began to leave. some girl who was in the lobby with us (who looked completely unaffiliated with the police dept.) came running out past us, went to the side of the building and snatched the infamous list. she went inside, so we turned around and followed her back. she gave it to an officer who looked like he expected her to give it to him, and he read off our names. we went upstairs to the ufficio di stranieri.

at this point, i still had to pee, and it looked like we were going to wait a little longer before it was our turn. i knew there was at least a place with a sink to wash off the fingerprint ink, so i searched the floor for a toilet. i found the room with the sink, and at its rear was a door with a sign that said "VIETATO ENTRARE. DANGER!" forget the danger, there were urinals in there. i realized that the danger was an open window to the elevator shaft. i made a quick glance around, closed the door, and decided if anyone questioned i'd say it was an emergency.

back in the ufficio, we got served pretty promptly. the first part was them taking our forms and doing a bunch of collating and having us sign a couple times. then came the fingerprinting. not just fingerprinting, but whole handprinting. i knew this was coming and was worried what they'd say about my bandages (see the i fell on my face post). the lady taking care of us said i had to take them off. they were already falling off a bit so i pulled one back to show her the oozing scab underneath. she made a grimace and called over the other lady. they debated for about 5 minutes what to do with me. i could follow most of the conversation, and one of their options was to have me come back and do the printing later. at this point i said to myself "for the love of God, i've been here 2 and a half hours do NOT make me come back." in the end they just decided to write that my hand was injured in place of doing the palmprint. i got my fingers and left palm done, washed off with the gritty pink anti-ink goop, and we headed out. after three hours, we were all legal. about time.