Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rome Update...4/24/09

We're still here and still rockin' it Roman-style.  We'll be coming home on Saturday.

Most, but not all of the internet problems have gotten worked out.  There were a number of intersecting issues that are far too tedious to go into that made it difficult and impractical for me to "live-blog" our Rome trip.  Bandwidth problems persist, too.  However, we have some cool stories and about a billion great pictures that I will share when I am able.  I also have a wonderful iPod Touch experience, to share, among other things-that little thing earned it's passage, for sure.

Anyway, it'll be like watching Uncle Billy's and Aunt Flo's home movies and slides of their vacation trip out to Hoover Damn (did I spell that wrong?) last summer, only much, much more interesting to all of you since it it is me and Nancy in Italy.  And it might go on for weeks, so you've got that to look forward to.  Yep.  So don't plan anything for the next month or so.

So, uhm...ciaio!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dateline: Frankfurt, Germany 4/19/08

The timewarp that accompanies intercontinental flight has set in. My watch and my body says it is 3:00 AM on Saturday, but all of the local clocks and the sun, if one were able to see it through the gray overcast sky, indicate that it is, for all practical purposes, actually 9:00 AM.

The United flight from Dayton to Chicago’s O’Hare was quick and uneventful.

At O’Hare, we walked at least a mile until we at last found the Lufthansa terminal. It was just two little reception desks, a couple of departure gates, and a huge, milling multinational crowd. For some reason, Nancy’s phone didn’t work in the airport as she tried repeatedly to call JP. That was a disappointment. Check in was no problem, but the ticket agent was unable to seat us together, which was a bummer, considering it’s a 13-hour flight. The aircraft was a 747, so even though we were only a couple of rows apart, there was no way to converse.

Nancy and I both tried to negotiate with our neighbors to swap seats, but it didn’t work out. She was seated next to a very nice Indian gentleman, but he was sitting with a group of friends. He was willing, but she didn’t want him to give up his friends. Plus, swapping seats with me meant sitting directly behind the bulkhead in the middle row of 4 seats. Not exactly an ideal spot.

I was sandwiched between two women. On my right was a portly German grandmother whose only English was “I don’t speak English.” No problem, I don’t speak German and so we couldn’t really communicate well on the whole swapping seats deal. In that way that one can and, in such close proximity, must surreptitiously espy on one’s travelling companions, she made me smile several times when she would pull out a stack of photos from her her purse and rifle through them. The pictures seemed to be of her family and her recent trip to America. Each time she sifted through them, she would pull to the top a picture of two very small newborn babies, probably twins, lying on a bed together. She would gaze at this picture for some time, then reshuffle them, and put them back in her purse.

The woman on my left was of indeterminate age and origination, possessing a reserved and somber demeanor. When I asked her if she would swap seats with Nancy, she hesitated, frowned, and then with some reluctance said that she might. She got up and went over to where Nancy was to check out the location, it seemed, but then frowned again and said that she just wasn’t comfortable doing that. She returned to her seat beside me, seemingly embarrassed, but not quite apologetic. That seemed a bit odd, and there was not, at that time, a forthcoming explanation, so we had a weird vibe going on for a little bit. And Nancy and I kept our assigned seats.

In the course of the flight, I spoke some more with this woman because I wanted to know her story. She was born in Greece, on an island, had grown up in Australia, and had for the last 20 years or so lived in Chicago. From the context of our discussion, she must have been in her mid-60’s, although she looked much younger. She told me that she had, over the last few years and as a result of a singularly bad experience, become very fearful of flying and that she simply could not easily change seats or make changes to her flying arrangements. During our take off, as well as during some minor turbulence over Canada, she was clearly tense and ill-at-ease. She has issues, clearly, but her reticence was rooted in phobia, it seemed, not incongeniality. We talked about flying and a bit about our families. She apologized for not being able to help us and I told her that was fine. She was on her way home to Greece, it turned out, as her father as dying and she hoped to be there with him. I wished her the very best and asked the Lord to bless her. I think she is in for a rough couple of weeks. And she had three more flights after ours, each on progressively smaller aircraft, before she reached home.

We are about to board the plane for the last leg of our journey, from Frankfort to Rome.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Yep, we definitely felt it.  Woke us both up about 5:30 AM.   In my sleepy stupor, it sounded at first like a large animal running from one end of the house to the other, banging and bumping on doors, walls, and furniture.  

Nancy said, "What was that?"

To which I responded with my default answer for things that scrape and bump around in the night, "Probably just a mouse."  

She didn't believe it and neither did I.  I got up, grabbed a flashlight, and made the rounds.  Daisy was barking outside.  Roxi, at the age of 16 human years, was unmoved in her bed.  It would take more than an earthquake or typhoon to disturb her slumber.  Finding nothing, I went to back to bed.

Got up an hour later and prepared to leave town.  For Rome.  Italy.  Leaving today.  Blogging, in fact, from the Dayton Int'l Airport.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Well, I sure didn't see this coming...

...but I must say I'm pleasantly surprised:

American Idol(s) singing Hillsong's "Shout To The Lord."  They actually sang it twice, but the link above is the best of the two performances.  

Simon likely thought it "self-indulgent," his usual response to Christian songs.  

I don't place any great spiritual significance on this, actually, but it is still better than a sharp stick in the eye.

h/t  Thanks!

1:47 A Documentary Film

photo by Ralph Pyle

"The year is 1968. Across the United States, it was a year of turmoil: the Vietnam War, Civil Rights protests in cities and on college campuses, the assassination of Martin Luther King. Yet, in many small cities and towns a relative calm, almost innocence, prevailed. The documentary film 1:47 tells the story of one such community - Richmond, Indiana - that would lose that calm and innocence in a single fateful day: Saturday, April 6, 1968."

On that fateful day, a massive double explosion rocked the downtown shopping area, not far from the courthouse. Destruction, death, and chaos ensued and this peaceful midwestern community was changed forever.

Richmond is our nearest "big city," roughly 15 miles south of where we live.  Last night, Nancy, my mom, my grandmother, and I went to see this locally-produced documentary in the old theater at the Richmond Museum of Art. It was an absorbing film, incorporating the remembrances of many of the local people whose lives were touched by this tragedy.  The filmmakers do a remarkable job, also, of illuminating the fascinating and important historical context that frames this event.  

1:47 is about to hit the documentary film circuit, and I hope it does very well.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Vacanza a Roma

Here are some pics of our hotel in Rome, harvested from the fabulous wide-world internet webs.

Residence Pierre Et Vacances Dehon-ii Giardino Phamphilii Hotel
61 Via Leane Dehon Rome, Italy 00165

Here is the description:
The Residence Dehon is a holiday apartment complex blending modern and traditional styles set in the typically-Italian parkland of Rome's Villa Doria Pamphili, two kilometres from the Vatican City. Bright, air-conditioned studio apartments, spread over two buildings, all open onto furnished balconies (terraces on the ground floor) offering views of the surrounding gardens. Each apartment features a living area with a TV and telephone, private bathroom, and kitchenette equipped with hotplates, a refrigerator, and cookware.

Guests can take in the garden surroundings on the terrace or take a dip in the outdoor pool. The restaurant opens out onto the terrace, offering guests the opportunity of an al fresco meal when weather permits.

We got an incredible deal on it...about a $100 a night, which is way below the normal rate. 
And it is within walking distance of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, and numerous other outstanding locales.

Lord willing, I'll be liveblogging this avventura romantica and will post photos and reviews of our journeys

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ripped from today's headlnes

Okay, I've got questions...

Was the guitar well-strung?
Could the mall security not see he was wearing a G-string?
Whammy bar?  I'm just asking...

I'm sure you've got questions, too.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Counting your blessings

So how is your day going?

It's so easy to complain about how busy my life is, how I don't get to do everything I want to do, how there's just never quite enough money to get ahead...but I've got sooooo much to be thankful for.  Say a prayer for the guy and his family in the link above.