Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lake Como, Italy

On June 17th, I left for a conference in Italy. The conference was only two and a half days, and I only had 4 days in Italy. I wasn't sure that it would be worth it to go to Europe for such a short time, but with the weak dollar, it's hard to afford more. I got a grant, and some departmental funds to pay for the trip. The catch was I am also teaching summer school, so it had to be a short trip. But who could resist the chance to visit Lake Como and the Italian lakes.
The conference was worthwhile as I made some great international contacts related to work I am doing. The picures on top on the left is the conference center, that was intentionally designed to look like a greenhouse on the grounds of Villa Erba (photo on the right). Even though it was an international conference, there were very few people there from outside of Europe, a reflection I think of the current economic conditions. However, there was a large group of Brazilians (their economy is booming), and meeting them was helpful to my current project. I am going to Chile in November, and am thinking about a stop in Brazil on the way back.
On Saturday, I took a tour that the ferry company offered : sail up Lake Como to Menaggio, get off and take a bus to Porlezza on Lake Lugano, which is partly in Italy, and partly in Switzerland. In Porlezza, take a boat down Lake Lugano into Switzerland to the city of Lugano. In Lugano, you take the funicular up to the train station, and take a train to Chiasso, Switzerland. There you get off to take a bus back to Como, but I took the train. The trip took 7 hours. I could have stayed in Lugano and shopped but had no Swiss francs, and had to be up very early the next morning to go home (and still had to pack).
On the boat, there was a group of Italian women who sang wonderfully. As they were leaving the boat in Bellagio, I realized that my new camera also takes video, and so here it is!
I worked on the socks I am knitting in Rock Creek Yarn's sock yarn, in the colorway Kilaeua.
I have my photos uploaded on Flikr though I have to figure out how to add friends so they can be seen.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Manny's 500th! at Fenway South

This post will have absolutely nothing to do with knitting :) and only a passing reference to butt watch 2008 :) :).
I was there!!!! I had no idea when I got tickets back in February that I might see Manny's 500th. Friends and their kids drove down from Arlington MA which took them all day yesterday. We drove into Baltimore at 5 PM from my place (a half hour south of Balmer), to snag parking and that worked well (we were across the street from Camden Yard for $20). My friends who'd never been to Balmer (which I just learned is called Fenway South) were totally amazed to see the streets of Balmer absolutely jammed with Sox fans - and this was 2 hours before game time. There were thousands - and for blocks around Camden Yard they filled the sidewalks. We had been worried all week about the weather forecast as thunderstorms were predicted initially for Sat. night. As we got closer to Sat. they moved the prediction for the storms to the afternoon. They were over by mid afternoon.
Anyway, Manny started out seeming to lack focus. You could feel that he seemed wound up. But after Ortiz's sacrifice fly sent Ellsbury home, the Orioles huddled, then swapped out pitchers. Manny had a couple of minutes to collect himself while the Orioles stood around strategizing. I was watching Manny through my binoculars (which I had brought to the game to engage in some butt watching). He looked very calm, and I told myself he was going to hit the first ball, and it'll be a homerun. It happened! The stadium went nuts. We were all hugging one another. After hugging everyone I knew, I turned to the women behind me- who I didn't know-, and said - this feels like church when you greet everyone around you, and shake hands - which we did enthusiastically. It was so worth it for my friends and their kids to drive all the way down from Massachusetts and back in a weekend. I was soooo happy to be there cuz I love Manny!
Here's the video at