Wednesday, November 29, 2006

VCN Ethnic Dinners go to Thailand

And so, yesterday at least one of the two VCN-related projects I was working on, codename "Ethnic dinner", was realized. It wasn't easy. First of all, the "I'm coming" "I'm not" process was more confused than the one, already not exactly linear, that had taken place for the Eritrean dinner. Then, an underground debate took place about which restaurant we should had gone to. Finally, as the dilemma was solved, the restaurant wasn't reachable until a few hours before the actual dinner (A restaurant closed on monday and with no one to take bookings until 4 pm of tuesday.. bah).

Anyway, so it was that, after having picked up Liesbeth at home, I found myself way ahead of time at the Thai Inn. We got inside anyway (it was cold) and got some wine with which arrived the first of many little gifts by the restaurant's owner: some appetizers accompanied by a kind of peanuts' jam. As time passed by, people begun to arrive. Eventually, we had 12 people from three different continents (3 americans, 3 italians, 1 Belgian, 1 Dutch, 1 Maltese, 1 Iris, 1 Brazilian, 1 Philippine). Food came in an abundant quantities, soups apart, and averagely good quality, wine was pouring and conversation flowing. Too much wine, maybe, as, at some point, one side of the table was exchanging tongue twisters in the respective languages (and if you have never heard a Maltese or a dutch tongue twister... it's kind of an experience).

Time passed nicely and we even celebrated someone's birthday (which triggered another wave of little gifts from the restaurant, included more wine and some small pastries) and we arrived to the after dinner shots. Now, despite someone's efforts aimed at being served a sambuca (5 , which met all the time with a counter-offer of whiskey), we eventually were served with a half dozens of mysterious bottles wearing long labels all strictly in chinese (or some similar language). the only one we were able to identify was some ginseng liquor, and just because there was a ginseng root floating in the liquid and because someone met it with a "Oh! that must be the aphrodisiac one", causing a second of silence and a volley of laughter right after.

As the dinner came to an end, we were pleasantly surprised by the lightness of the final bill and by yet another present.. each one of us walked away with a bottle of red wine.

On another news, while the atmosphere in my office reached sub-Arctic temperatures, today I had a kind of interview for the new position... which might be delayed up to one month. I must say, I had to summon quite a bit of strength to keep my poker face and reply with a "Well, ok, if that's what is really needed for the technicalities...". Now, I'll be a block of ice if I shall have to stay much longer on here, with my present and hopefully soon former superior hitting me with laser beams every time he looks at me.

And, to top it all, Susanne's net is dead once again.

Signs and Portents... and something else

I do not usually remember my dreams, not even vaguely. I usually do not even have the feelin gof dreaming, like when you wake up in the morning and you know you have dreamt of something, even if you can't remember a thing of it. As far as I know, and I should know, it has always been like this since I moved out of infancy.

That said, it's so strange that over the last three nights, I woke up twice with memories, in one case very vivid, of strange dreams. The first case is a tad too personal and involve other people, so it shall not be posted here, but the other is kind of psychedelic and sees no one involved but me, so I suppose I can write about it, just to give you a laugh (or some worries about my mental health, peraphs).

So it was that I found myself in the Second World War. Not sure which side, but in something that looked much alike "Band of Brothers", a small unit and in the middle of a fierce fight in which some were killed, some blew up. Then, I was suddenly back home, war over, driving a red Ferrari to a circus, of which I was the owner. The main attraction of the circus was a band of Walt Disney like white mices (no, not cartoonish, but human like, able to walk, talk and wearing shades) with a number involving a long firemen ladder. We were about to have a show for charity, when suddenly the mices decided they were not going to perform.

So we were behind the scenes and suddenly I was one of the mices, discussing with the rest of the crew about the show and finally we decided to perform, went on stage, and found ourselves alone as the rest of the crew, angered by our behaviour, decided it was their time to refuse to work. Once again behind the scene, once again a discussion where this time I was trying to move them rather than them trying to convice me, and another agreement. Finally, we all walk on stage to perform... and the public is gone.

Now, if you have a gift in interpreting dreams, you can leave a comment.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A snake bites his tail and a heavy monday

As it happens lately, the week-end was bittersweet. I arrived at Frankfurt on time, but as I got out of the terminal I was surprised by the mass of people waiting for the bus. I joined the first queue, I arrived to the bus' door and as only two people were standing in front of me, the driver announced that there were no places left. My belief in the story that germans are second only to english people in keeping a row had already been shaken over the last year, but crumbled totally as I found myself from third to one in the middle of the new queue. I mad ethe queue againa nd again, as only 3 people wer standing in front of me, the bus turned out to be full. The third bus was the good one, but the point is, I ended up staying 45 minutes in the freezing cold before I managed to jump on a bus.

Then I arrived in Mainz, after having duly warned Susanne I was arriving, getting no reply, and found myself alone at the bus station. I waited. And waited. As my waiting reached 15 minutes and I had till got no news I dropped her a message saying I was walking home and so I did. Eventually, I got a message, to which I probably didn't reply too nicely, and we met somewhere midway, but I was fuming and she was upset and so we walked home in a silence that reminded me awfully of something happened the fist time we had been in Mainz and that was broken only a hour or more later.

To be noted, my friends who read my blog and who know me better than the casual reader, that on sunday I finally discovered she had been at a club with the colombian guy she's seeing (on friendly terms, on her part, and ofthat I'm sure) and who had teh guts of acting jealous when she disengaged from him to come at the bus station. Now, what would you think of that, if you were me? And if you really know me, as a few of you do...

Anyway, the rest of the week-end was very nice, even if the plans we had to go to a party out of town were frustrated by the lack of available transports and the ones of going downtown by the furious rain that started falling on saturday evening. I cooked again, something asian this time (rise with pistachios and vegetables with curry and frittellas), which came out tasty, but not perfect. We talked, an talked, and watched a movie (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) which we liked in its weirdness and brought us some more discussions where we agreed that we'd rather keep our bad memories than erase them, because even if they are about bad experiences, they contributed to make us what we are. And also, something I absolutely adore, we did read laying together, which I consider one of the most nicely intimate things ever.

On sunday, the day proceeded quietly until we had to go out as Susanne was going at her first party meeting in a while. I know that was important for her, she's a politics animal who has been away from that for too long, so I didn't complain a bit, even if that means missing two full hours with her. We did walk a bit together, which gave me the chance to see the preparations being made in Mainz for Christmas, and eventually I left her at the party's building, avoiding to get inside (a political discussion of a political side to which I do not belong and in a language I do not understand didn't appeal to me at all) and moved to the bus station where the week-end ended as it had started, alone near the bus. A bus that had most obese driver of the world, I think, who was panting just for the effort of stepping down the bus to open the luggage doors and step back up. I wondered for a moment if he could had had a heart attack on the way and the answer I got was "yes, it's actually probable".

Today, the atmosphere at the office was heavy. Actually, heavy is an understatement. After that friday I warned my boss about my official request of being transferred, the news arrived at my superior who, despite having repeatedly invited me to leave in a as courteous way as a "You have to get the fuck out of here", funnily took it personal that I didn't talk with him about my moves. How rational is that? Anyway, if my transfer eventually doesn't work out I'm going o be in a very, very, bad situation.

In the meanwhile, I finished Follet's "Hammer of Eden" and, being the serial reader that I am, I started (and almost finished by now) another Follet's book: "The Key to Rebecca".

Friday, November 24, 2006

So much to write, so little time

Indeed, as in half a hour I must be out to go to the airport once again, but anyway, I'll try, in flashes.

Yesterday was intense. Work as usual, swimming pool as usual, an half agreement to see Liesbeth and her friend coming over from Belgium (I was really curious to meet her, after Liesbeth told me so much about that), then a sudden call from Alessandro telling me that a common friend from Spain, Carlos, was in town and they were going out to dinner.

Now, being that Carlos is the very reason I met Susanne (they were attending a language course together and I actually met her at aftermath of the course's farewell dinner), I couldn't miss that and, besides, although we have never really been friend, Carlos is a very nice guy all around. So there I was, after dinner, jumping on the scooter and crossing the whole city to at least have a glass of wine together.

Around the table, besides Alessandro and Carlos, Francesco (another highschool mate, companion of a thousand adventures), Ippolito (Ale's brother), Ippo's argentinian girlfriend Nuria and Mercedes, her argentinian friend visiting over from Oviedo. Now, the restaurant itself is a place that Ale and Francesco love since highschool times for some unknown reason and that I openly despise as food is just average and service is terrible. This time was no difference, only worse, so much that even Alessandro at some point, thinking of having overheard an insult cast our way by the waiter after a change in the order we had done, turned purple and was just about to stand up and massacre the old fellow. Why we keep going there is and will always be a mystery to me.

Anyway, at least, we got a chance to try Alessandro's olive oil, right from the mill, as Ippolito had just made it back from their farm. The best olive oil I ever tried, I must say, extra virgin and ground only hours earlier. After dinner, a quick walk to a close by patisserie where we got a lemon pie that we consumed, together with a good cognac, at Francesco's place, between chatting and laughing. Eventually, after having crossed again the whole city in the freezing cold, I made it to bed at 2 am.

So it was that this morning I had a hard time to wake up. Made it to work and then spent the whole day trying to have a talk with my boss to communicate him that I had formally applied for being transferred. Eventually, I made it in the afternoon and I must say that he didn't pull his hair in despair. Actually, he didn't even pretend to be sorry or asked why I was doing it. better, probably, it would had been too hypocritical, I suppose.

Out of the office, a run downtown to have a drink with Liesbeth, her friend (Valerie, nice girl), Carlos (for whom I got a book called "Criminal Rome", about the most famous crimes committed in the city... Carlos is a policeman) and supposedly the other people of the evening before but, as things go, they probably showed up after i had to leave, one hour ago. Another run home, prepared my beg, writing this and then.. airport and then Mainz.

And so, off I am. Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Et tu, Brute?

It was indeed an interesting experience the Julius Caesar I saw yesterday together with Liesbeth. First of all, it was the demonstration that you can do honest theatre without means, without costumes, without scenes... even without a theatre and actors. All you need is a good text and atmosphere.

The atmosphere. Indeed, it was a strange one and the place helped a lot. Not a theatre, but what turned out to be one of the strangest places ever, a mix without a second-hand shop, an antiquities gallery, a pub and a laboratory. A place to be seen and where I will see to return soon. The stage was arranged in the pub section, a long gallery ending in ample steps acting as stalls with tables. Just being able to watch a play with a table in front of us and a bottle of wine to sip as the story unfolded (and food, if we had fancied that), would had been worth the ticket's price (which was, anyway, pretty inexpensive).

The actors came, all dressed in black and wearing now a stole of different colors, now a veil, sometimes a wooden katana and the play went along, the actors sitting on bench at the back of the improvised scene when not "on stage" themselves. Extremely good was the one playing Cassius, good both Caesar and Calpurnia/Metella, very interesting the female actor playing Casca/Portia (yes, there were women playing men's parts, rather than men playing women's ones). A bit behind the one playing Brutus and Marc Anthony, but I must say it could be that, at my eyes, they were absolutely unfit for the role. It was not a lack in acting, at all, but my "suspension of disbelief" went away as they were acting. For instance, Marc Anthony, even today in Rome remembered for his physical prowess ("Un gran pezzo di Marc'Antonio", we say, to signify a hunk) was played by the smallest actor of the group.

The play itself had been, as it was to be expected, shortened and divided in two halves. Liesbeth thought everything was over as the first half ended with Caesar being stabbed and frowned as I told her it was just half of it. Truth to be said the benches/chairs we were sitting on, hard wood and nothing else, were uncomfortable after a while and apparently so was the thought of the girl who had seated at our table, who eventually ended up chatting with Liesbeth while we were waiting for the long half time break to be over.

As the play resumed, I had to face once again the fact that Julius's Caesar's second part is boring compared to the first one and not even Caesar's ghost could redeem it. They last moments of the Caesaricides unfolded, the last scene seeing the only effects of the whole play, with thunders rolling and a sound of rain accompanying the two men's death.

Only, it was not scenic effects, as it had really started to pour outside, as we noticed trying to leave. The over-caring owner of the place tried to help us providing something for when we would had reached the scooter and off we were. I must say, Liesbeth was pretty with her hair curling up due the rain and cute as she jumped here and there trying to avoid the immense puddles and the string streams that, as usual, formed everywhere. A careful drive back to Liesbeth's place (few things are more dangerous than Rome's sanpietrini when they are wet), a quick parting to avoid the reprisal of the rain and a quick drive home, and the night was out.

And as always when I have a good time, I was left with the sensation of lacking something. Someone, rather. Can't wait for friday to be here again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

I'm trying to make this week a bit less of a routine than the previous have been and today I'm going to the theatre with Liesbeth to see Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". In english. Last time I saw something by the bard in original language was Brannagh's "Much ado about nothing" and I had quite some problem, let's hope it will be better this time.

For the rest, is 24 hours I'm trying to patch up things in a way that Susanne and me could meet for new year's eve, but it doesn't sound promising. A ticket I had got turned out to be unusable while other combinations are either undoable due conflicting schedules or already exorbitantly expensive.

on another matter, I'm trying to organize two VCN events: a mini five-a-side tournament and an ethnic dinner, this time on the far east cuisine. The first project has a bit stalled, but the second is gaining momentum with 8 people already confirming their attendance. Should be fun, probably a Thai restaurant.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday once again

Another week end is past, another monday is here. The week-end was nice, even if it started in a not so encouraging way. Arrived at Frankfurt Hahn with a little delay (as usual), I ran out of the terminal to catch, totally out of breath, the bus to Mainz which, late itself, was already moving. I arrived in Mainz under the rain... and was alone in front of the station. True, I had forgot to ring as I approached the city, but I had sent a message from the terminal saying I would had arrived in a hour, which was precisely what happened. So I dropped another message and waited with only my gloomy thoughts to keep me company for a good half a hour (and when my thoughts are gloomy it means they are really bad ones) until Susanne arrived running, and things got quite better.

The week-end itself was eventless, partly due the rain that was a constant during saturday and sunday, partly due the two weeks that had passed since last meeting and the internet breakdown that had left us without communication for ten days leaving us with quite some things to talk about. The only time we got out was for a bit of grocery shopping on saturday and the evening saw my pretty successful cheese lasagna (lasagna with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano) together with some barely adequate roasted potatoes (I definitely thought those would had been easy, and I was wrong), accompanied by a Nero d'Avola (a sicilian wine) which proved to be a pretty bad one and basically knocked me out with only three glasses... beware bad wine!

All along, talk, talks, Susanne studying and me reading and, finally, on sunday morning the return of the signal of her internet which hopefully will make it easier for us in the coming days. Projects for new year's eve, projects for march and the thought at the back of my mind that we are too much by ourselves and we should go out with other people and that at the same time we have too little time to be by ourselves.

In the meanwhile, I started and finished Pomepii by Robert Harris and appreciated it quite a bit, only afterwards realizing he's the same author of Fatherland, I read a good fourth of "Hammer of Eden" by Ken Follet (discovering he's one of Susanne's favourite authors just as one of mine), I had a nice talk with Virginie. Wonder what will this week bring.

Oh, and this is my 150th post, even if actually I got to this number splitting some of the old posts when I added labels... is it blog-cheating?

Friday, November 17, 2006


I've done all I had to do at work (easy), I've fixed the date for my surgery (end of January), the procedure for my in-firm transfer has finally started today as I applied for the new position, I think I've done all I had to do so... I'm heading to Mainz (where I will have no internet at all, it seems) after 10 whole days I haven't literally seen or (almost) heard my gf. let's hope for a nice week-end.

See you on monday.

Everything is serial

I'm a serial reader, and that's nothing new. It's enough to read the list of books I've been reading in the last months to notice that while the number of titles is not so little (considering that the average italian reads less than a book every year), the one of the authors is barely above the half dozen. The fact is, I get involved in intricate stories and, as the main character of the Neverending Story, I feel a real discomfort, if not an all out pain, when I have to say goodbye to the characters I grew fond of (or even learned to hate).

That's made even worse by the fact that, sometimes, I just pick a random book at the bookstore and, if I like it, I feel compelled to learn more from the same author to see if it was just casual good book or if indeed the author is worth my time and my money, both resources available in very little quantity (especially the second).

Then I've my periodic readings. For instance, every single summer I must read at least a couple of books by Stephen King, or it's not summer. This year, in fact, I postponed and postponed, but eventually fell into the pattern, bought a couple and there I was. The problem is that I read faster than King writes, and considering the author we are talking about, that is something. It' snot that I particularly like horror books, or King's style, but in this case I fall in the sleepers' syndrome: it's good to get back to something comfortable, nothing that will really test your brain and that you can, within limit, predict.

Yet, I'm the worst case of serial reader as I'm a serial buyer as well. I can indeed get in a bookstore and get out without having bought anything, but if I buy, it's always at least 3 books, like today. Three books means that the chances of finding another vein to exploit are three times more than if I bought only one book. To make it worse, my bookstore has this rebate policy based on points, and you get a point every 2 euros so it always happen I have to find another book that makes my purchase even. Smart on their side and I'm the perfect victim. So, this time I got a book by Ken Follet (the second in a week), one of Stephen King (was in offer at 1/4 of the price) and, to make 9.30 and even 12 (.25, but perfection isn't of this world) I got a random book basing my choice on the cover and the price. Last time I did that, I discovered Jack Whyte and ended up buying the whole "Camulod's Chronicles"' books, almost a dozen of them so... god help me.

And then there are serial killers. No, I'm not one, but I'm potentially a victim. It turned out, every day in Rome one person dies in traffic incidents. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if at least half of them were scooter or motorbike drivers. Mostly due of bad roads (our mayor prefers to invest several hundred of millions of euros in celebrations, festivals and other fun stuff rather than road maintenance) and reckless drive by auto drivers. 1.200 a year. Statistics say that Rome is 10 times more dangerous than Paris and 5 times more dangerous than Berlin.

What can I say, thrill is my life.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Something I read on a blog about the fact that books should be talked about, suggested and even lent to friends to be really appreciated, brought me once again to a simple thought: yes, I agree, but sometimes they never come back. We say in italian never to lend money or books to friends, as you are likely to lose both.

When I was 14, or about then, my father gave me as a present a paperback copy of "The Lord of the Rings". That book contributed immensely to my youth, in many different ways. It made me read, dream, it made me know people and meet others all around the world. Even as it was showing the signs of the passing years and wear by innumerable readings and travels, it still was my treasure.

Years later, I lent it to my german girlfriend in the most intense moment of our story, a kind of unconscious token maybe, as I was starting to consider her for marriage. So it was that the book was brought to Germany as a tourist and there, as surprised by a sudden war, interned as a political prisoner when the story between the two of us collapsed, a few months later, almost without any warning sign. A kind of Primo Levi made of paper, but without the coming home part.

Sometimes, I still wonder how is it feeling, an italian book filled of imagination and of the words of an english catholic surrounded by protestant, grey and down to heart german books. It kind of break my hearts when I think about it, as if a part of my youth was held hostage and prisoner of someone who I once loved and turned in an enemy, almost overnight.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Grey days

To break the monotone routine of my days (wake up, go to work, go to the pool, watch a bit of tv, sleep if I manage, wake up, go to work...), today I didn't actually go to work. In fact, I was selected to go to a kind of fair where various firms were to show us how incredibly better they can make the life of my firm under various aspects (travels, various services, IT implementations and so on). Interesting, in a way, with loads of gadgets and a number of quite interesting hostess, curiously enough led by an old friend of mine I hadn't seen in a number of years.

The point is, I'm troubled. I'm troubled because Susanne's net is out of order since a week and I'm even more troubled because alternative communications are... well, less frequent than one might wish for. Now, in my now 12 years of experience in Long Distance Relationship (I'm probably a record man, possibly under the masochist category) if there is something I've learnt is that for that to work, one has to prove his feelings to the other daily, even just with little gestures or a word, but in any case one as to make sure that the other is relaxed and comfortable. Providing an emotional pillow, if you wish.

The problems come when a different background, for whatever reason, makes the two having a different perception of how thick the pillow must be. It's not a matter of one being evil or the other insecure, is a matter of simple different perception of reality, I suppose. The problem is that this leads to one of those situation where, no one being guilty (guilt assumes the purpose in doing something, blame my lawyerish side), tension just adds up, and tension isn't good. At all. Especially at a distance, where many release options are not viable.

Anyway, something is cooking for this saturday, or rather, I've an idea of something I might cook in my second experiment, hoping not to poison anyone, nor to burn down the house, nor to cut off someone's limb, all possible outcomes with me in the kitchen.

In the meanwhile, I received a mail where the city claims I owe her more than 300 euro in fines, which surely doesn't improve my mood at all. That, added with the fact I still can't sleep properly since more than a week now, and the constant pain of my shoulders... well, you do the math.

But at least there are two positive things. One, Liesbeth sort of invited me to go and see Shakespeare's Julius Cesar, in english, at a theatre near Campo dei Fiori, and I accepted. The second, today I had a (brief) online chat with someone who I have been reading (blog) for a while and who actually provided the recipe for my first experiment. An interesting talk, I must say, with an interesting person.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Another week-end is over. It has been a mixed one really, but I'm in a pretty bad mood. It started with the huge fiasco, at least for my standards, of the disco night on friday, it continued with a nice saturday that saw me at a lunch with the Nova Romans (picture), absorbing the abundant wine for the whole afternoon, at dinner out with family in the evening (which had not happened since a long, long while in Rome) and then at the cinema with Liesbeth to see "The departed" (*great* movie). Sunday... nothing at all. Rain, tiredness, wasted time. And all along, the impossibility of being really in touch with Susanne, her net connection being gone since thursday.

Ok, that's probably the last thing that puts me in a bad mood. That and the fact that it's a week I do not sleep well, if at all, and that's weighting on me, also because that prevents my shoulders from recovering from swimming efforts. And despite the daily swimming hour, I'm gaining weight, which is not only strange, it's an outrage. I'm starting following my father's diet as of today. Bah.

Ok, not even my style is good today (if I can claim of having a style, that is), I suppose one has to be in a relaxed mood to write, or in a totally upset one (or one wouldn't understand how Baudelaire would ever manage to write). I've finished "The Rift" and started and finished almost overnight another Clavell's book, "King Rat" (being unable to sleep has at least a good side, I do have time to read). My football team is at the second place as the first half of the tournament is over and we have been reported in the internal news at work (yes, we do have an internal videonews edition, every monday). I'm trying to organize a VCN five-a-side tournament with 3 or 4 teams. It's just monday and I'm already thinking of friday.

Ok, too many things at random, I better stop here. Bah!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Take any disco in Rome on a friday night. Enter it. Think how many people could fit inside, but just think the highest number your imagination, stretched to the maximum, could dream of fit in a given room. Now multiply that number by 3 and you'll have the base number that the owners of the place will let in as they open the gate. Then, depending by the evening, the music, the companies and a number of other variables, that number can reach at the peak of the night from 4 to 5 the number you had estimated.

And I hate crowded places with all my heart.

That's why this evening was a disaster for me and why I basically stopped going to disco unless it's either a private party or summer with the possibility of being outside often. Bah. Heading to bed now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bad dreams

Tonight I had less than 3 hours sleep. Bad dreams. It's strange, I almost never remember my dreams and now it's the second time in little more than a week than I vividly remember my nightmares. Always the same subject. I suppose my subconscious is fighting a struggle... which is actually not even so subconsciously fought, to be honest. Annoying.

On a nicer note, my firm's football team, of which I'm one of the two goalkeepers, yesterday won again. To be precise, I'm the wednesdays' goalkeeper and then we have the fridays' one as I have to make it to the airport those days... and we even have a third goalkeeper, which is unheard of as, per tradition, Italy is a place where everyone want to be the scorer cheered by the crowd (which we do not have at all, but that's not important).

In the previous two tournaments we had collected, all in all, one win, one tie and a number of defeats so big that we stopped counting at some point. This year we have three wins, one defeat (and I wasn't playing that one) and the second place. The difference? The CEO (yes, in Italy CEOs deal with the firm's football teams...), after having conceded some funds for the team's uniforms and bags, ordered the recruitment of elements from our peripheral offices. We ended up taking 3 from Latina, 60 kms south of Rome. Which is nothing, he was ready to pay for transfer and all to people from our plants in northern Italy, 300-400 kms away...


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

VCN Ethnic Dinners go to Eritrea

And while some of my friends are having their fun commenting the previous entry of my blog (isn't it what friends are for?), yesterday I had the ethnical dinner I was organizing since last week with a few VCNers.

The evening went quite well, with eventually 16 people (more than expected and more than I had booked for actually, but that was promptly solved by the pretty nice owner of the place) representing almost every continent.

We had:

Sweden (3), Italy (3), Croatia, Germany, UK and (briefly) Turkey, for Europe
Libya and Zambia for Africa
USA (3) for North America
Ecuador for South America
Turkey (but in a way, we could say that Korea was represented by proxy...) for Asia
No Aussies or Kiwis, unfortunately.

Food was in massive quantity (only the vegetarian table, I think, really finished its plate) and of good quality (and spicy, at least half of it), the Sambussas were great and we even broke the VCN famous "Law of Curt on social metaphysics" (10 honest people + Group Check = 30 Euros short), as the final bill per person, included wine and appetizers, was slightly more than half that (and actually less than that for the poor souls who didn't drink wine...). I think we even managed to arrange the returns home so that no girl was on her own, too, which is a good thing considering the stripe of sexual assault we had in the city a couple of weeks ago. Personally, I found myself driving someone on the other side of the city from where I'm living and ending up in bed at 1 am.

I think, a pleasant evening, I should had taken a camera with me, a restaurant to recommend (and thanks to all the ones who with their suggestion eventually had us going there) and for the next ethnical time... something asian, pheraps? We'll see, but it's a pity that japanese restaurants are so damn expensive or I wouldn't have any doubt at all. I have to think about something to do for the week-end. On saturday I've lunch with the Nova Romans, but I'm thinking about going to disco on friday, if I can put some people together, as there is the un-official VCN disco evening, aka Aziz's party, the first after the summer.

In the meanwhile, something is moving at work and I might be transferred at the Institutional Relations office within next week. Let's hope...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sooner or later... had to happen. It's just a statistical thing, sooner or later (almost) every man has to pass this kind of event and taste the sweet or sour results of his own actions. Most make it with more or less tasteful outcomes, a few unfortunate ones die, usually for bad choice of self-procured means for the end, but anyway, almost everyone has to do it and last saturday it simply was my turn. No one to blame, I choose my fate.

I cooked.

Yes, I cooked, stop staring at the monitor in disbelief, I did. And I do not mean the "take pre-cooked food and slam that in the microwave/paddle/water" kind of cooking, nor preparing coffee (altho both are fine example of cooking by my standards). No, I mean take a recipe, buy the fresh ingredients, clean them, cut them and cook them, attending to the various stages of checking the salt, adding the spices, turning everything with a spoon and stuff.

And the funny thing is, the results was a pretty good vegetables stew ( I think that's the correct term, "minestrone" in italian) made of tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, celery, black pepper, salt. All in all, three hours of work: one to buy and clean the ingredients and two of cooking. To be said that in Germany everything goes by kilograms: you want two carrots? Buy a kilo. 2 zucchini? A kilo for you. Potatoes? No less than a kilo. So, eventually it was the most expensive vegetable stew of all time and left Susanne's fridge full for at least a week.

That's the big highlight of the week-end. The rest was a nice 2 days with some heated discussions about a couple of points that had been raised over the past two weeks (and that left everything exactly in the position they were), putting Susanne's new curtains in place (with all the possible classic little incidents that such house works can produce), dinner in what has became my favourite german restaurant (the Altdeutsche Weinstube) and all the rest. As usual, time flew too fast and we didn't go dancing, as I had half planned to do, but all in all was a nice time.

Back in Rome, the news I am expecting at work since two weeks now haven't arrived yet, my practice TOEFL score for the listening part is 30/30 and I'm organizing a VCN eritrean dinner for tomorrow. Today I should meet my brother at the pool as he started to go as well, but, unlike me, taking lessons rather than going by himself. The funny thing is that when he came back home after the trial class, last friday (only 30 minutes), he looked as he had made the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean so I'm curious how he will be this evening after a full hour with an instructor yelling at him to move and not to float around...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yesterday's achievements

Not much to write, so bear with me...

Toefl reading comprehension general practice: 28/30
Toefl listening comprehension little practices: average of 4.5/5
Swimming: 70*25 meters lenghts (legs? laps? I always forget how that's in english) in one hour.

Little things, but hey...

Off to Mainz in 12 hours, that's probably the best thing that will happen today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So, yesterday night was Halloween night. Over the last 10 years, out of sheer and thoughtless reproduction of countless Halloween representations we see on TV and Cinema, the tradition is becoming popular even here, despite the fact that it goes exactly opposite what has been our relations with the deceased ones for over two millenia.

In fact, Halloween postulates the return of the deaths for one night (and demons and ghouls with them) who have to be appeased (trick of treat) in order not to produce harm on the living ones, while here the tradition has always seen a "friendly" relation with the dead ones who you visited (and we still do, even if this tradition is getting, quite sadly, lost) and with whom you dined with (pouring milk or wine over the grave) and where the spirits of the deceased ones are seen as benign and protective beings since the romans' Lares and the christian idea of the deceased ones sort of intermediating in our favor with God... until the very italian tradition of the spirits of our loved ones coming to us in our dreams to give suggestions or, to the limit, the winning lotto's numbers.

Anyway, this post is not to raise a critic to this cultural contamination, even if it's uttermostly depressing to see masked kids going from floor to floor in large condos uttering the italian version of "trick or treat" (and obviously getting nothing due the fact anyone older than 15 doesn't actually prepare for Halloween's candies' requests). The point is that I like, or at least used to like, Halloween's parties.

Oh, I haven't done in a while, mind you. My last Halloween's mask, an azure magician tunic with silver stars and a 60 cms long pointy hat (which earned me the nickname of "maghetto" for a while) was burned, together with one of my favourite sweaters, in an incident during an Halloween party, two years ago. But anyway, Halloween's parties, a sort of dark (and lately, often sexy) anticipation of carnival, are cool. I should had gone out yesterday, but then tiredness, laziness and my friends' lack of interest kept me home and this friday and saturday I will not be here for the lat celebrations. Maybe there are late Halloween parties in Mainz? Somehow, I doubt it.