Archive for the ‘Observations’

Understatement11.01.09

Time and again I have admired the British for their spot-on understatements. My best-ever experience with such humour was way back in 1986. I had just arrived at my hotel downtown London and was checking in. There was just the receptionist and me in the lobby and I had just handed him my passport as we the heard screaming wheels of two cars breaking and then the sound of the two cars crashing. All the windows in the lobby had curtains. The receptionist, still holding my passport, went to the window nearest to him, pulled the curtain aside and then said in a very casual tone: “What a way to waste a Porsche”.

Hey, Porsche? No. He couldn’t be right. I had to check for myself and went to the window, pulled the curtain aside and saw the two drivers quarreling and the crumbled remains of two cars which would not be running for some time. And surely, one was a nice, brand-new looking Porsche. The scene was weird. And the receptionist said in a friendly and casual tone: “Room three-o-seven, here’s your key, sir”. His cool way of delivering “What a way to waste a Porsche” has been with me since then. It was delivered like a poem:
What a way
to waste a Porsche

I was reminded of this episode yesterday when a good-looking Ferrarri ended up parked in a somewhat strange manner close to my house:

A Ferrarri parked slightly askew in asker, Norway

A Ferrarri parked slightly askew in asker, Norway

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Playing with fire09.26.09

I was brought up being told every now and then that it was dangerous to play with fire. Well, maybe it is. At least if I play with fire. I can’t know for sure since I have not tested that concept yet. But one of my very first memories is standing in the window one afternoon or late night watching a nearby school burn down. So maybe someone else had tested the concept and found out that it was not such a smart move.

Anyway, I am still a bit amazed whenever I see someone skillfully playing with something I would not dare to do. And doing it in such a manner that they even dare to involve someone from the audience to take part in something which could turn out to be a bit harder than what it looks.

On walking the harbour of Marciana Marina after a nice dinner we saw a crowd standing there in one of the piazzas and we ended up checking it out. Turned out it was Istvan Goldman ‘Goldi’ doing one of his shows. Sadly we only caught the last few seconds of it. But chatting with Goldi he could tell me he would be moving down the seaside walk and do another show a bit later. So the flip below shows the last few seconds of the first of these two shows and the first minutes of the second show. Turns out the Flip-camera does not behave to bad under rather dark conditions even when there are some very bright spots (the flames).

Posted in Flip (videos), Italia 2009, Observationswith No Comments →

Castellare09.09.09

Whenever you are in Catellina in Chianti, why not take the short trip down to the Castellare wine producers just down the hill? We did. And as explained in this short flip we tasted three different wines.

I am sure you get all the italian in this flip. But on the names of the wines there should be no problems understanding them. Except maybe for “I Sodi di S. Niccolò”. Well, the reason for that name is that “sodi” refers to hard-worked ground. And the grapes used for that wine is from such hard-worked ground. Hence the extra good quality of this wine.

Posted in Flip (videos), Italia 2009, Observations, Winewith No Comments →

The three stars (Le tre stelle)09.08.09

Close to San Gimignano in the southern part of Tuscany you find the Agiriturismo Le Tre Stelle (the three stars). These stars are three women who run an agriturismo with a little special twist. Every day they serve a joint dinner for all their guests at a long table in the patio. This dinner is homecooked and made from their own produce.

They also do nice wines. A white Vernaccia and good red ones. More on them later.

We learned about this agriturismo through a swedish TV-series on food and wine from under the Tuscan sun. This program gave them a bit of attention and some Scandinavian guests. If you are looking for that particular Tuscan experience, this may be the place to go.

Posted in Eating, Italia 2009, Italy, Observations, Winewith No Comments →

Perdono (pardon)09.08.09

Of all the things I have learned through the years there is this thing about parties:you do not need a specific reason for throwing them. And one thing I learned yesterday is that in the whole of Valdarno there is an “oval weekend” (starting friday and ending tuesday) in the fall with a “fiesta” called Perdono. For Figline in Valdarno this fiesta starts every year on the first friday of September. And it ends on the tuesday with a horserace (pallio) and fireworks (fuochi d’artificio).

These perdono-fiestas starts in the beginning of August. The week after perdono in Figline it all starts again in Regello, also just about 3 minute ride from Le Buche di Viesca. So we will even manage to take part in some of that before leaving on Saturday.

Posted in Italia 2009, Observationswith No Comments →

Marina di Campo09.06.09

One of the most beautiful beaches on Elba is found right in the centre of the town Marina di Campo on the south side of Elba. It is a long (miles) beach of finegrained sand and from time to time you have nice waves there as well. Two or three rows of umbrellas and restaurants with tasty seafood. Hereby recommended.

Posted in Flip (videos), Italia 2009, Observationswith No Comments →

Biking and bathing in Marciana Marina09.06.09

Bathing is essential and one of the main activities in Elba. There are literally hundreds of beaches in all different qualities, from the fine-grainy sandy ones to the pebbly ones and clifftype spots. This is just a short flip showing of a combination of biking and bathing. The kids had great fun. And the main character in this flip goes by the name of Pietro.

Posted in Flip (videos), Italia 2009, Observationswith No Comments →

Pratesi blue08.26.09

From Pratesi, Toscana

From Pratesi, Toscana

Not suede, but blue (like me and you?). Nice companions from Pratesi in Ambra, Tuscany. A factory which only trades shoes in Tuscany. Three small shops and a small factory in a small village. In fact, if you hurry too much along you will never know you passed the factory. Family-owned business. And I have been lucky enough to meet the owner on one of my shopping trips. Have to go back again this year to look for more niceties, I think.

Posted in Clothes & stuff, Italy, Observationswith No Comments →

Microsoft just made my day08.26.09

Engadget has just made me smiling. Well, actually grinning. And I guess I will be grinning for a while.

They have uncovered a sad photo manipulation. And the guys behind it? Microsoft.

So they have this photo used in an ad and they try to push that ad everywhere else in the world. But the photo contains a coloured man. So horror of horrors at Microsoft and they find out they would not like to use that coloured man for instance in Poland. So they manipulate the photo. And they replace the head of the man with a white guy.

To further prove their amateurism they do the following:

  • They replace only the head, not his hand which still shows he is coloured “somewhere”
  • They forget to fix the lighting so that the head of this new guy has light coming from a different angle than the rest of the photo shows. The shading on his jacket is now all wrong (inconsistent)
  • The text-area does not have room for the button, making the design a bit stranger than it was

Caught with their pants down they have since removed the ad on the Polish site. As politically uncorrect as it may be, they show us their true colours. No wonder their products suck.

Posted in Observations, Technologywith No Comments →

Forvrengte historier08.08.09

Steinar Aas: NobileJeg innrømmer det gjerne: jeg fulgte nok ikke godt nok med i historietimene på hverken den ene eller den andre skolen. Noe av det tapte kan man jo ta igjen på frivillig basis senere i livet. Som oftest lærer man masse nytt på denne måten. Og får seg noen skikkelige vekkere.

Historien om Nobile har for meg stått som historien om en dårlig forberedt og gjennomført utflukt i polare strøk foretatt av italienere som kanskje ikke hadde det beste utgangspunktet. Ihvertfall var det slik jeg minnes det ble fortalt da jeg vokste opp i Tromsø. Den store polarhelten vår, Amundsen, døde på grunn av feil som Nobile gjorde. Jeg gjorde ingen forsøk på å finne andre fortellinger den gang da. Jeg stolte på historietimene, historiefortellerne og media.

Min nyvunne historieinteresse (vel, noen år gammel da) har ført til at en rekke forskjellige bøker og filmer har ramlet ned i hendene mine. Mye polarlitteratur. Og historiene om Hjalmar Johansens ulykke og endelikt ga meg et mer nyansert bilde av vår helt Amundsen. For meg ble Hjalmar Johansen nesten større enn Amundsen.

En stadig voksende Italia-interesse (mat, vin og kultur + språk) har også ført med seg mange ulike typer fortellinger. Og det er denne kombinasjonen av historie generelt og Italia/Norge spesielt som førte til at jeg snublet over denne boka av Steinar Aas. Jeg plukket den til meg utfra en tanke som kanskje var: her skulle jeg få bekreftet hvor dårlig forberedt Nobile og hans følge var. Men så skjer akkurat det motsatte. Det er Nobile som fremstår som fagpersonen og Amundsen ramler bakover i historien som turisten i luftskipets eneste lenestol. En svært forenklet gjengivelse av arbeidet til Steinar Aas mener du sikkert? Jo, absolutt. Altfor enkelt. Men ikke enklere enn det norske media og historiefortellere tidligere har levert. I boka til Aas finnes drøssevis med eksempler hentet fra drøssevis av kilder i inn- og utland.
I et privat brev til Amundsen skrev apoteker Zappfe, Tromsø, følgende om italienernes “deltagelse” i ferden med luftskipet Norge: [...]De svarte taterne skulde aldrig været med[...]. Og en Aftenposten-journalist ved navn Odd Arnesen kjører en kampanje med nedrakking av Nobile. Ifølge Arnesen skal Nobile ikke ha vært sin stilling voksen, han skal ha vist nervøsitet og “altfor stor forsiktighet”. Arnesen fremstiller Nobile som om det har rabla for italieneren.

Hvis den fremstillingen som er gitt av ferden med luftskipet Norge i boka av Steinar Aas er i nærheten av virkeligheten så må Zappfes kommentar var i det minste tøvete. Amundsen hadde aldri klart seg – og aldri klart å føre luftskipet Norge over Nordpolen uten Nobile og hans italienske mannskap.

Ifølge Steinar Aas er Fridtjof Nansen en av de få norske stemmene som gir mer nøkterne beskrivelser. I et brev til vennen I.H. Whitehouse i 1928 skal Nansen ha skrevet: [...]Den italienske ekspedisjonen var verkelig ein tragedie, og eg har stor medkjensle med den sørgjelege lagnaden han fekk, og med alle dei som omkom. Eg meiner først og fremst at avisene har skulda for det heile. Både i Noreg og elles i Europa har dei vore fylte med all mulig nonsens og det er særs beklagelig. Det har berre bidratt til å gi folk eit fullstendig feil bilde av kva som skjedde. Det resulterte òg i mange redningsekspedisjonar utan plan og under dårlig organisering, i staden for å vente på dei ekspedisjonane som hadde størst sjanse for å lukkast, og det var utan tvil dei store isbrytarane.[...]

Wow. Ikke bare gir Nansen cred til Nobile. Han peker også indirekte på at Amundsens redningsaksjon med flybåten Latham like godt kunne vært ugjort. Amundsen satte selv eget og Latham-mannskapets liv på spill i en redningsekspedisjon som kanskje mest var tenkt som en handling der Amundsen ville vise seg større enn Nobile.

Men jeg kan jo ikke slippe historien kun med bakgrunn i en nordmanns beskrivelser selv om den er så annerledes enn det jeg tidligere har fått med meg om luftskipene Norge og Italia. Så jeg ber biblioteket skaffe meg et eksemplar av “Männen på isflaket : med “Italia” till Nordpolen” av tsjekkeren Franz Behounek som var med på begge ekspedisjonene. Denne boka ble oversatt til svensk i 1928. Men er ikke utgitt på norsk. Er det fordi vi ønsker å tie ihjel alle alternative historier om norske storheter?

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  • the tuscan cat
    I for one believe that Leonardo (da Vinci) was really smart. And I also believe cats are smart creatures. So when I spotted a nice cat sleeping on a scooter carrying "the signature" Leonardo somewhere in beautiful Italy I just had to "shoot".

    For all you non-norwegian readers: older entries are in Norwegian only. Sorry.