Friday, July 29, 2005

Flotsum & Jetsum

* I'm so glad the weekend is just about here. I need a couple days off.

* I fell in the river last week while fishing. Trying to get out to a good spot, stepped on a rock, it rolled...and in I went. It must have been quite a funny sight to see.

* Last night I was looking at my senior yearbook from high school. Ah, the memories that came flooding back. I still don't understand how Melissa Parra and Tom Cloos were voted "Best Looking". And I noticed Jen Lavoie's picture. She posed for Playboy a few years after high school (albeit with surgically enhanced...assets). That means I once sat next to a Playboy centerfold in study hall. I rock.

* I finally bought an AFN decoder yesterday so now I'll be able to get no less than 6 American channels at home. A movie channel. A news channel. And the coup de grace, an all sports channel. Never again will I be without the Red Sox score when I wake up.

* Right now I'm watching the TV series "Freaks & Geeks" on DVD. I'm enjoying it so far. But I still haven't found anything to fill the void left when I finished "The Office" a few months ago. I wonder when season 5 of Seinfeld is coming out. And are they ever going to release "Ally McBeal" on DVD?! Bygones...

* On a Julian Date calendar, today's date is 210.

* The X Man has become quite a celebrity around town. Seems everywhere we go, people know him and want to play with him. Many Italians tell us that they can't believe how cute he is. Everytime some music comes on TV, he runs to the TV and starts doing a dance that just has to be seen to be believed. Everyday he does at least two things that make me laugh out loud.

* I'm still thinking about getting some new ink. Just haven't quite made up my mind about what I want.

* The funniest thing I've seen lately happened up at the river last weekend while I was fishing with my Italian friend Fausto. Some annoying kid kept yelling at us and asking how many fish we had caught. Fausto got so annoyed that he stuck out his middle finger at the kid and yelled "Una solo" which means "Only one". I laughed so hard I almost fell in the river (again).

* I think my favorite album title of all time might be "Dookie".

* I love that "Crazy Frog" song that was popular up in Britain. I think I'll try to find the CD down here if I can. It's very catchy. And I still hate Coldplay.


* Right now, the two hottest women in the world in my eyes are both named Jessica; Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson. Coincidence? I think not.

Have a great weekend, see you on Monday (If I don't fall in the river again...).


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Passion of the Thib

The other day I heard someone talking about how he had a passion for something. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it got me to thinking. To be passionate about something means more than just having a casual interest. Then I started thinking about things that I'm passionate about. The obvious is of course family and God. Those go without saying. But what else? What are the things in my life that I'm passionate about?

I think it would probably be the following:

1) My country. Whatever faults it may or may not have, everything that I have and enjoy is because I was fortunate to be born in such a free and modern country with endless opportunities. No matter where I am in this world, I'll always be an American and I'll always be proud of that fact.

2) Traveling. Seeing other places and experiencing other cultures.

3) My favorite pro sports teams from back home - Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins & Celtics.

4) Fly Fishing. More than just my favorite hobby. I could spend hours at a time on a river and never get bored or tired.

5) Beer. Not just drinking it, but discovering new styles and enjoying beer of the highest quality.

6) Soccer (Football). Been playing and following the game most of my life.

7) Wine. A relatively new interest, but something I have developed quite a passion for. Of course living in Italy, how could I not have?

How about you? What are you passionate about?


Monday, July 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom!

Yes that's right, the wonderful woman who gave the world the wonderful gift of me is having a birthday today. Putting up with me - not to mention my brother and sister - was anything but an easy task and she lived to tell about it. That should tell you something about how tough she is.

Mom is a regular lurker on my blog, so let's everybody wish her a happy birthday now...

Happy birthday mom from me, Virginia and the X Man. We love you!


Friday, July 22, 2005

Parole, Part II

Well, it's official. I'm being paroled again next month. But this time, it's only for two weeks instead of two months so there probably won't any globetrotting around Europe going on. Virginia and the X Man are going back to the States from August 23 until September 8.

I haven't given much thought what I might do while they're gone this time, but I've got another month to think of a few things. I was thinking perhaps I would finally go check out the Piedmont region and stock up on Barolo. Or maybe spend another weekend in Rome? And then there's always the Venice Pub Crawl as a fallback. But more than likely, I'll end up spending most of my time up in the mountains on the Brenta River.

As always, I'm open to suggestions...


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Humor page is updated

I've added 4 new video clips to the "Humor" page of my website. If you'd like to check them out, click the link below (You may need Windows Media Player to view them). You'll find the new clips at the top under the heading entitled, appropriately enough, "NEW!".



Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Does anybody really NEED to be warned about this?!


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Two bands I just don't...get.

I don't understand the popularity of Coldplay and The Dave Matthew Band. I've listened to both and I just don't hear anything appealing from either of them.

OK, I'll admit that when Coldplay first came out, I loved - and still love - the song "Yellow". But every single song since then I've hated. I find their music at best, boring and at worst, depressing. But for some reason, liking Coldplay has sort of become the trendy "in" thing now. I just don't get it.

The Dave Matthew Band has been extremely popular for several years now. A while back I even bought one of their CDs thinking it must be good as everyone goes nuts over them. I hated it. Most of their music makes me cringe. So again, like Coldplay, I can't figure out why everyone goes crazy over them, except perhaps that it's just "cool" to be a fan?

OK, OK, I know I probably pissed a lot of people off with this post. So feel free to let me have it. But I still don't like either of them.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Bella Italia - "A River Runs Through It"

After several weeks, a lot of money, and more than a few headaches, I finally received my Italian fishing license last week and was able to make one of my long held dreams a reality - I finally got to wet a fly on the nearby Brenta River. Those of you who read my blog regularly will recognize the Brenta as the river that flows through scenic Bassano dal Grappa. Although I managed only to land one medium sized brown trout it was an unbelievable experience, which I'm sure will not surprise anyone who knows me well. Since the Brenta is so close, I'm quite sure that I'll be up there almost every weekend until the end of the season in late September. To see some photos from yesterday's excursion, click the link below.

Fly fishing the Brenta River


Friday, July 15, 2005

New Photos of the X Man Posted

Just posted about a hundred new pictures of the X Man to the website. Click the link below to see them...

New Photos of the X Man


Thursday, July 14, 2005

I've been tagged by...myself.

I noticed a thing on Kitty's Blog about choosing 10 events in history that you would like to go back and witness if you could. I found it interesting and, since nobody ever tags ME, I thought I’d tag myself and come up with 10 of my own. Here goes…

1. The fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Germany and been to Berlin twice. Each time I learned more about the Wall and it fascinated me. I’ve seen video of the celebrations and I just can’t even imagine how those people must have felt.

2. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As a Christian it would probably be too painful to watch, but perhaps no other event in history has affected my life as much as this one.

3. The debut of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. I’ve always been in love with Mozart’s work. To see the genius conduct one of his operas live for the first time would be unbelievable.

4. The American liberation of Paris, WWII. What a party that must have been. And as an American, I would have been cock of the walk. Voulez vous couchez avec moi? Mais oui!

5. Battle of Britain, WWII. Not to see the destruction of London, but rather to witness first hand how a nation rallied together and became so united in the face of such dire circumstances. We like to remember how the US was so united after September 11, but imagine an entire city being bombed into the Stone Age. And how inspirational Winston Churchill was to his countrymen, regardless of political affiliations.

6. The sinking of the Titanic. As long as I didn’t go down with it of course. I’ve always been sort of fascinated by the whole Titanic story for some reason. I can’t think of many things more interesting than actually seeing it hit the iceberg and slowly go down. Especially if little Leo DiCaprio was on it...

7. Any day in the life of one of my ancestors. I used to love to listen to my grandparents tell stories of days long ago. How unbelievably cool would it be to spend a day talking to, say, your great great grandfather and seeing a little slice of where you came from?

8. D-Day. How could I not choose this one? The sacrifice and bravery of those men will never again be equaled. Ever.

9. The storming of a medieval castle. I just think it would be really cool to watch.

10. October 27th, 2004. I would be back home among all my friends watching the Red Sox finally win the World Series. I’d always planned to go home if the Sox ever made it to the show again and when they finally did, I had to stay in Italy because of a snafu with my wife’s visa. So I got up and watched every game at 3 am. I didn’t cry when I got married. I got a little misty eyed when my son was born. But when Foulke threw the ball to Mientkiewicz and it was finally over, I cried like a baby. My only regret is that I wasn’t home with all my friends to share the moment we had waited all our lives and suffered so much for.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

We Need More Coach Carters

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I recently watched the movie “Coach Carter”. Man, was I floored. When looked at simply as a film, it’s nothing more than ordinary. However, when viewed from a social perspective, it’s amazingly eye-opening.

For those who have never heard of it, here’s the premise: a former basketball star and accomplished businessman accepts a job at his old high school to coach the basketball team. The school is located in one of the worst ghetto areas in the state of California. Crime, drugs, and violence are rampant. It is the inner city at its worst. He inherits a team of underachievers who care more about their personal stats and fighting each other than they do winning games. The first thing he does is makes the players sign contracts promising, among other things, to maintain a grade point average of 2.3. He demands discipline. Eventually he turns them into winners and they are one of the hottest teams in the state, going undefeated. However, he soon discovers that most of the players on the team have been failing several classes. Some of them have been skipping classes altogether and the teachers were covering for them because they were basketball fans. He decides to play tough and locks the team out of practice and games until the grades come up.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

There is an immediate uproar from parents, local residents, and even the education board. They all have the attitude that these guys are never going to get anywhere in life because they’re from the inner city, so why not let them have basketball? It’s the one bright spot in their lives after all. Carter says no, that’s the wrong attitude. They’re doomed because of that kind of attitude. We need to make these guys understand that they CAN make something out of themselves if they apply themselves and learn. The parents, residents and education board fight him and vote to resume the season and Carter quits. The players suddenly decide to do it his way and start cracking the books. Eventually the grades come up and they make the state tournament. You can watch the movie for the rest.

What floored me about this movie was that it is a true story. It really happened. You have to keep that in mind as you watch the movie. That’s what separates this movie from all the others like it. Whenever someone makes an inspirational film like this, the temptation is always to dismiss it by saying, “Well, that’s not real life, that stuff only happens in the movies”. But this film IS real life. And it really DID happen. My wife is not from the US and sometimes doesn’t understand different aspects of our society. With that in mind, I told her this as we were watching the movie – if you want to see first hand why most people in the inner cities of America will never get out and are doomed to keep repeating the cycle of being poor and raising a family in the ghetto, watch this movie. Listen to what the parents are saying. Look at the attitudes of the so-called educators. And remember to keep in mind that this really happened. This is the attitude that prevails in the inner city and it’s what’s keeping them down and out. It’s what is preventing them and their children from getting out of there. Forget about politics. Forget about race. Forget about everything else. Watch “Coach Carter” and you’ll understand why young people never escape the inner city unless they make it as a professional athlete or a hip hop artist.

What’s more, try to watch in on DVD if possible and be sure to watch the special feature documentary about the making of the movie. It recounts the real story of Coach Carter, features interviews with the real Carter and his players, and gives an update on where some of the players are now. It makes you shake your head in near disgust to see how some of the players who were destined to a life in the inner city selling drugs, working minimum wage jobs, and going nowhere are now attending college. Some of them are even going on the graduate school. All because one man refused to buy into the victim mentality and convinced them that they can make it by working hard, studying, and staying out of trouble.

If only the inner city had more Coach Carters and fewer Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Funny Ad of the Week

Keep looking at it, it'll come to you eventually...


Monday, July 11, 2005

Bassano dal Grappa

There's a little town about 15-20 minutes away from us called Bassano dal Grappa. It's not very famous outside of Italy so it's sort of a hidden gem. There's not a lot to do there except to admire the beautiful scenery and perfect juxtaposition of man and nature coexisting so close together. It lies right at the base of Monte Grappa (hence the name) and the Brenta River flows right through the center. Its most famous landmark is the Ponte degli Alpini, the wooden bridge that joins the two sides of the town. Look down from the bridge and you can see giant rainbow trout lazing around, rising for the occasional fly.

Bassano is also famous for Grappa, the distilled spirit otherwise known as firewater. Although it's produced all over northern Italy, Bassano is the birthplace and unofficial home of the drink.

Bassano is one of our favorite little daytrips. Often we'll jump in Old Triple 7 and drive up just to relax, enjoy the view, and have a panini and gelato. We did so yesterday and it was a nice day all around. Very sunny, a clear day to enjoy the view, and the X Man even learned how to say "fish" as he excitedly pointed towards the water everytime a trout would rise. To see some photos from yesterday, click the link below:

Bassano dal Grappa Photos


Friday, July 08, 2005

Where Are They?

After yesterday’s bombings in London, I’m left with this question in my mind:

“Where are all the protestors?”

Where are the ubiquitous protestors who rail against every alleged act of aggression by the US and the UK, who protest, blaming the US and UK for killing innocent women and children? Where are they? Where were they after September 11? And the bombing in Madrid last year?

Why are they so silent? Why aren’t they protesting against Al Quaeda? Why aren’t they holding rallies around the world at this moment with signs reading “Stop Terrorism!” and posters of Osama Bin Laden with horns drawn on his head like a devil? Why aren’t they spewing their vitriol against the terrorists who find it so easy to kill innocent civilians?

I’ve always found it ironic that in countries where the populace are free to hold protests, the only thing they ever protest against are the very governments that afford them that right.

I wonder why that is?


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Rik's Birthday Photos

It was brought to my attention yesterday that I hadn't posted the birthday photos I'd promised last week. So here are a few...

One of the two bottles of 2000 Barolo I bought for the occasion

Giampietro decants the wine. This allows it to breathe better.

Giampi and I toast my turning 34.

And then Virginia and I do the same.

The X Man tries to get in on the Barolo.

Agnese, Me, Giampietro.

For dinner, we had some tasty steaks, salad fresh from our garden, and Agnese's special zuppa di verdure (vegetable soup). After the meal, Giampietro broke out the cheese - Asiago, Grana Padano, and formaggio di capra (hard cheese made with goat's milk, very tasty). It was a delicious way to celebrate my birthday. The highlight was definitely the wine - the 2000 Barolos are peaking right this year...


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cinque Terra Photos Posted

Spent the 4th of July holiday in Cinque Terra enjoying sunshine, hiking, beautiful scenery, good food, and even better wine. To see some photos, go here:

Cinque Terra Photos