Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pass Pertüs and mount Ocone

After a couple of days with a strong wind, the cold coming from north, Sunday was promising a very clear day.
Maddie and Mr. Bentley were already excited when i was still clung to a nice dream. "C'mon, Fajah, wake up and let's go for a hike!" they incited me shaking my arm with their front paws, dangling tongues and standing ears.
Still snuggling under the covers, i first open one eye, but i close it back all of the sudden, pretending to ignore them. But they insist. Howling and barking they convince me that it's time to start the day.
The sun is not yet risen from behind the mountain, but the sky is really clear. Let's go, then.

Mr. Bentley
I open the door and let them out in the garden for their morning pennies to spend. One freezing wind blast almost convince me to go back to my bed. But the word is done, it's a matter of honor, now.

With a quick talk we decide to follow a path that is the natural continuation of the one that climbs up mount Tesoro. Infact if from the end point of that excursion you continue on the same path, you reach, at Forcella Alta, a parking lot in a panoramic view point next to a hotel, a couple of houses and a little lake (frozen) used to water the oxes.
In this point, reached by car (i drove), there is the start point of this excursion. Some people (not really sporting looking) is there to shoot photos and to buy mountain cured meats and cheeses from the usual merchant on his van.
Maddie and Mr. Bentley are already very excited, while i am still a little regretting my cozy pillow... but stop dillydellying now, lets go!
The hike starts on a dirt road that after a few ends up in a wood. Then the path is not very clear, but there are visible signs of red and white paint on the trees. The difficult thing, in this season, is due to the dry leaves on the brushwood that completely hide the harshnesses of the ground under, which thing makes it easy to subside with an ankle between two rocks.
Maddie and Mr. Bentley had the worst of it, and some times they looked almost drown in the leaves accumulations.
Soon, anyway, the woods opens in a nice meadow, where you must coast the ridge next to the valley. Then you go back in another wood (the path now is more clear) where you meet some buildings used in the past for fowling. You reach then a disused convent which

View from the peak of mount Ocone.
From the bottom you can see the lakes of Garlate,
Oggiono, Annone, Pusiano and Alserio.
The highest snowy peak in the background is mount Rosa
little church is being renovated. From there it starts another dirt road that goes down very steep, but we follow the signs towards pass Pertüs (in the local dialect this name means "narrow opening"), and infact after about ten minutes we reach a little bridge that links the two faces of the pass. Here there are some other ruins of structures used in the past for catching migrating birds, activity that is well described on some uselful display signs.
Till this point the path was entirely in a light descent and enough easy, but now it begins the steep ascent to the peak of mount Ocone. Sometimes the dogs aren't able to jump up to the rocks and i have to help them, obtaining in change wide licks as thanks. After twenty minutes uphill here we are finally on the peak. A breathtaking sight. I shot a set of photos and i put them together with Photomerge of Photoshop to create a 360 degrees panoramic picture (click on the photo to enlarge).
It is very cold, every pond we meet is completely frozen, but right for that reason the air is really clear enough to see mount Rosa on one side and the Piacenza's hills after Milan on the other. In the panoramic photo, the peak that look higher, on the left, just after the TV antennas at Valcava, is mount Tesoro.

Ten minutes of rest, Maddie, Mr. Bentley and me, snuggling each other listening an almost deafening silence, contemplating the rest of the worlds, just under there.

The way back on the same path, in the opposite direction.
  • Total time: 2:09 (1:22 ro go, 0:53 to come back)
  • Round trip distance: 5.3km [3.3mi]
  • Difference of level: 20m [66'] (140m [459'] downhill, 160m [525'] uphill)
  • Altitude: from 1305m [4281'] to 1325m [4347']
GPS track:
A: Peak of Mount Tesoro; B: Little lake of Forcella Alta; C: Convent; D: Pass Pertüs E: Peak of Mount Ocone

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not in my name

Hey, there's my face, over here! ;-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

31 songs

"31 Songs" is the title of a book by the british writer Nick Hornby, which I have been suggested to read (but i didn't read it yet) by my blog friend Silvano, who has a blog titled infact "31 canzoni" ["31 songs"].
As Silvano tells me, the book is about the 31 songs that "marked" the author's life.
This dialogue with him made me want to list the 31 songs that marked my life.
No sooner said than done.
I thought it would have been a colossal enterprise, but instead it was pretty easy to find out so many songs. On the opposite, i had to exclude some songs because they didn't fit in the number of the list.
To tell the truth, I cannot say that, considering each song individually, all of them were really the essence of my life, but for sure each one of them "describes" atleast a part of me. They are songs that i love, or i loved in some period of my life. Nowadays some of them would not even enter my personal hit-parade anymore. But i remember all of them with much affection for what they meant or still mean now. Some of them still give me chicken skin.
Thanks to Silvano for giving me the idea to start this introspective search. ;-)

The order of the songs is absolutely random.

1. Keith Jarrett, The Köln concert - part I
Keith Jarrett concerts are the exasperation of the concept of improvisation, meaning that they are totally improvised. Melodies and harmonies are not prepared before but they develop under the fingers of the pianist, apparently in a way independent from his will. One has the feeling that the pianist is only a subsidiary instrument of a trascendent design. If i had been a great pianist, Keith Jarrett would have been my model. Unfortunately i always had to be satisfied with much less.

2. The Queen, Somebody to love
This song is, in my opinion, perfect. Never repetitive and always surprising from the beginning to the end, in a mixture of harmonies and melodies that run after each other without a break.

3. Pink Floyd, Shine on you crazy diamond - part 6, 7 and part 8, 9
The thing i like in this song is the warm sound of the monofonic analog synthesizer. In this type of music the synth is used to research new sonorities and not, as it happened later, to simplify the musicians' task with the faithful imitation of traditional instruments. Artificial sounds, but in this song they have a concrete expressivity, as it can be found only in traditional instruments.

4. Louis Armstrong, The wonderful world
To me this is the anthem of Nature, in its simplicity.

5. Miles Davis, Human nature
This is a song by Michael Jackson (i don't like the original version at all). The last "electric" period of Miles Davis is marked by the contamination of jazz with pop, and this makes it much easier than the classic Miles Davis, remaining at excellent levels (and here the purists would tore me to pieces!). Miles Davis is the less technically talented trumpet-player that i know, nevertheless any single note of his is a shudder at my back.

6. Incognito, Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Acid jazz is since some times the type of music i prefer.
I have been at a live concert of this band years ago and i had been enthusiast of it. Impossible to stop dancing! About 20 musicians on the stage, everyone with some particular talent that extols him, but all of them perfectly combined with each other, even though they are a bounch of different nationalities and ethnicities (a good example of integration!).
This song is one of their most popular (and also most beautiful to me) hit. It's a cover song really much more funky than the original by Stevie Wonder.

7. Cyndi Lauper, Time after time
This is a song that when it gets in my head, it doesn't want to go out anymore. There are a huge number of versions of this hit. I love in particular the one by Miles Davis, but i wouldn't like to repeat the same comment of song n. 5 :-)

8. Francesco Di Giacomo & Sam Moore, Hey Joe (sorry i didn't find the song on the Internet)
Hey Joe is the popular song that Jimi Hendrix made famous. Even if i don't deny Jimi Hendrix's talent, i could never appreciate his style. Francesco di Giacomo and Sam Moore gave this song a second life with a funky-blues very refined rearrangement. Unfortunately i have only the vinyl record (what's the name of those 45rpm records sized like an LP?): i don't know how to listen to it anymore.

9. Premiata Forneria Marconi, Impressioni di settembre
This song reminds my teen age, even if, actually, when i used to listen to it, in that period it was already a piece of history. It was the first song that i played with a band: passion for played music was born into me along with passion for this song.

10. Dirotta su Cuba, Tutto da rifare
I listen to Dirotta the first time at a show on TV in the early 90s, where they played live "Liberi di Liberi da", their first hit. And i loved it. I bought their first CD and i was enthusiastic. So i bought also the second CD and i was enthusiastic again. I skipped the third because it was a compilation of songs of the first two, and about the fourth... it was a waste of money because i didn't like it at all. I stopped being their fan, but the first two CDs are still masterpieces to me.

11. Simply Red, The right thing
Beyond the typical voice of Mick Hucknall, i like very much also the musicians. I remember once that, going for a beer to my favorite pub-live-music (Ponderosa at Lonate Ceppino - ah! it would deserve a post itself!), i found them on the stage playing jazz cover music, in a makeshift concert, while

Sergio Cammariere
Mick was staying sitting at the bar drinking beer and chatting with the barman. "The right thing" is a beautiful song. In particular i like the harmonic change of the refrain at the reprise.

12. Roberto Vecchioni, Luci a San Siro
The mood of my town, in which i don't love to go anymore, becaus, as Vecchioni says, il tempo emigra [time migrates], and luci a San Siro non ne accenderanno più [lights, at San Siro, won't be lighted anymore]. And Milano is not mine anymore [San Siro is a quarter of the town].

13. The Blues Brothers, Sweet home Chicago
A movie that i would never be tired to watch again and again, an incredible band, Sweet home Chicago, a classic that this list couldn't miss.

14. Sergio Cammariere, Tutto quello che un uomo
It's the song i would have liked to compose for her.

15. Sade, By your side
Her warmth, by my side, in the hard moments, even when she's far.

16. The Cure, Why can't I be you
I believe that the one of The Cure was my first big concert at a stadium. I never identified myself in their style, but I always liked their music for the amount of simple melodies that "interlace" the armonies

17. Sting, Moon over Bourbon street
The mood of the night.

18. Deep Purple, Child in time
A far (fortunately - for my health - enough short!) period of my life I played in a hard rock band that used to play Deep Purple cover songs. Child in Time is an example of that style where virtuosity with instruments, as well as voice, is exalted. Lately i changed style and tastes, but this song was a point of referennce.

19. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lacrimosa (Requiem)
Even if i don't have a wide culture of it, i always liked classic music. My favorite musician is Mozart, and Requiem is the most beautiful opera.

20. Average White Band, Pick up the pieces
This song is a really infectious funky, and often it was the "soundtrack" of light-hearted moments.

21. Jevetta Steele, Calling you
It's the song of the movie "Baghdad Cafe". This song is diametrically opposite to n. 20: it's the soudtrack of many sad moments.

22.Carl Orff, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (Carmina Burana)
Another classic music opera i particularily love is "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff, that contaminates classic music with other more contemporary genres. Also the subject of this opera is quite original in the context, because it describes scenes of everyday life, from the tavern to the brothel, not missing a roasted swan singing. A mixture of Latin and German language.

23. M People, Don't look any further
It's a pop song, that had been remade in tons of rearrangements, also in a taste of acid jazz. A song that in its simplicity went over the passing of time and i still listen to it very pleasantly.
The version of the linked video is a remake by M People theirselves, a little too much "dance" for my tastes.

24. David Bowie, Heroes
I always perceived David Bowie like a kind of extraterrestrian. Like those people that look like they attract attention among the indistinct crowd. Not that i give much importance to this feature, but i always thought that Bowie's greatness was to be able to use this charisma to transfer emotions.

25. Toto, Georgy Porgy
I like Toto for the originality of their sounds and mostrly their rythms.
About this song i remember a picture of the drummer i used to play with while obsessively tried again and again the stroke with the snare drum at the reprise from the stop at 1'55" in the linked video, which is not exactly on the beat (as he said, "an intention on the upbeat"). This song gives the idea to be built around that snare drum stroke.

26. Manhattan Transfer, Soul food to go
What i like of Manhattan Transfer is the impression they give to use the voices as musical instruments. Very sofisticated.

27. Let the sunshine in - from the movie Hair
It's the pacifist movie that represent, in this final song, the collective protest against war and the establishment that guides it, in which i totally identify.

28. Dire Straits, Tunnel of Love
The real personality of this band is given by Mark Knopfler guitar, without which their songs would totally loose any meaning. Even if one cannot really exalt his singing talent, also the print of his voice makes Dire Straits' songs unique.
I like Tunnel of Love in particular for the crescendo in the instrumental final part.

29. John Lennon, Imagine
The lyrics of this song are to me the definition itself ot the word "Peace".

30. Vinicio Capossela, All'una e trentacinque circa
Nowadays i don't like Vinicio Capossela a lot, anymore, but when the album that is named after this song came out, i liked it very much. Refinedly jazz but also popular. Vinicio Capossela almost looks one of us found himself by chance on a stage. With a bottle of cheap Lambrusco wine.

31. Johan Sebastian Bach, Passacaglia in C minor and Thema fugatum
The first time i listened this music was at an organ conncert in a church where a friend, keen on pipe organs, dragged me. Even if i am not completely ignorant of classic music, i had never gone to a classic concert before (in a church, in addition!). I already resigned myself to boredom, when, all of the sudden, in particular at this song, here it comes my enthusiasm! Years after, when i acquired some technique, i made a personal reduction for piano, and i learnt to play it.
Passacaglia is a musical form based on obsessive repetition of a theme always identical to itself, that is harmonized any time in different ways. In this case the theme is then reprised in the final fugue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The work-table in the garage

My blog friends already know that since for a job i am a software engineer, which is a conceptual activity, in my free time i like instead to be involved with manual abilities, to take care of concrete things that can be touched, handled, modeled. Besides my passion for gardening and its satisfaction for the production of genuine fruits and vegetables (actually the merit for this should be given to Mother Nature that pretty much does all of the job), i like to deal with little works for the house. One essential tool for doing this activity is a work-table. Not having one, and not even having the space to put it (once i put the car in the garage, there is not much space left over) i thought to build one by myself. A tip-top one. ;-) Obviously it would have been very helpful to have a work-table to get through this enterprise, but if i had had one i wouldn't have started it at all, so i had to manage without. The idea was to spend the less money that i could, and to give a second life to some unused material i had around, in particular two wooden boards for house-building, sized about 50cm by 200cm [20" by 79"], those ones that are used for the scaffolds or to model the reinforced concrete (that were left over by the masons of the house building yard), and a couple of plywood foils i could get from the company i work for, that were used for the packaging of some products and were so destined to the garbage bin.
The CAD project of the table (seen from the bottom)
As a first thing i made the project on the pc with a CAD software, using the standard measure for the height (90cm [35"]) and other dimensions compatible with the material i had. The operation was for me quite easy because that CAD is the same software i use at work. I cut the right size the boards and i worked them with the vibrating sander (to remove little pieces of cement, the waterproof paint and to make them the smoothest i could). I removed the structure of the packaging from the plywoods, i cut them the right size and sandblasted them too. Then i glued with vinyl paste the two boards, side by side, to the two plywoods, one on the top and the other on the bottom. In order to let the glue do its job, i left it for one week all well-pressed with some bricks on the top. I wanted to use also some nails or screws to attach the plywoods to the boards better but it didn't look necessary at all, the glue was enough.
Left: sanding the boards; right: preparing the plywoods
At a bricolage shop i bought some rough ledges (the cheapest), that i cut the right size and sanded too.
The ledges, cut and sanded.
I joined with some angular metal straps (and some other vinyl paste) the ledges to build the structures of the legs. Then i painted everything with some waxed impregnating water paint, to protect and make the surfaces stronger. The fixed parts of the legs, after being hinged to the mobile ones, they have been attached to the wall with some nog-screws.
Left: all the parts ready to be put together; right: the legs fixed to the wall
Finally i attached to the structure the top plane, screwing it to the fixed parts of the legs with hinges.
Here the final result. Left: the table open, right: closed
I liked this work a lot. It came out exactly how i wanted, and even better looking than how it's supposed to be (at the end it's only a work table for the garage!). I enjoyed the work very much and i am satisfied so much that i am almost planning to build some furniture for the house (which we need very much)... I wonder if my wife agrees :-) It was very cheap: 24 euros for the ledges to make the legs, 15 euros for the paint, 10 euros for the glue, about 15 euros for the metal straps, the hinges, the screws and other necessities (total 64 euros).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba, Pata pata
Somebody very... mmmh... "important", over here in Italy, as for example Berlusconi, could describe her, as an obituary, for example as a woman that distinguishes for her wonderful suntan, as it's obvious it is, after all, since she came from a "happy country" where they use to spend their time as lazies, collecting coconuts and singing and dancing on the beach around the fire. Infact it looks like it's scientifically prooved that men and women of "suntanned race" have in their blood the sense of rithm!

I prefer to remember Miriam Makeba as the mother of struggle against Apartheid, born in 1932 ub South Africa and dead yesterday, in Italy, symbolically singing against Mafia and racism.

The song in this video, "Pata pata", is very popular also in Hawai'i islands, at the other side of the world, because a local band made a very popular cover. Sometimes music arrives where other languages have problems to. I wonder if Miriam succeeded in make Berlusconi dance on her songs too!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yes, we are different! / 2

We are different!
We are not racist!
Free minds against racismo
Subscribe you too
The initiative that i told you about in my previous post is spreading out very quickly. Some newspapers are already taking it in consideration (only two, to tell the truth, among which one is a local newspaper and the other is L'Unit&agreve; - a national one - but only at page 35 of yesterday edition, in a tiny tiny article, but it's already a beginning).

I don't know how to compute the number of people that subscribe to this idea, but i have the impression that it is a very big number. Not that i really like to participate to huge numbers, but in this case it's obvious the advantage of joining the voices of a lot of people.

To give an idea i insert here an uncomplete list of the links to the posts of some blogger dedicated to this subject. If i miss somebody i apologize. Please put as a comment the link and i promise i will insert it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yes, we are different!

The Idiot
The first Afro-American President of the United States has been elected.
Yesterday Berlusconi, unfortunately the Italian Prime Minister, during an official journey at Moscow was asked in a press conference what he thinks about Obama. The idiot answer was "He is young, handsome and suntanned".

This statement is racist, but not only. This statement is absolutely disrespectful of the role of the United States and their President. Moreover, the tone of gratuitous derision is drastically amplified by the official character of the situation, that would have demanded a totally different code of conduct.

The deplorable behavior of Berlusconi, as one can imagine, immediately turned around the world, and the Italian People, that some way he arrogates the right to represent, has to suffer the shame.
Not at all intentioned to apologize for the unpopular quip, he laid it on thicker defining his own words "a compliment".
Today an American journalist in a press conference asked him if it wouldn't be the case to apologize with Obama, and the arrogant and angry answer by Berlusconi was "Please... please! You should apologize with Italy instead!", offending once again.

Well, i don't believe that this man could ever arrogate himself the right to represent me and many other Italians in front of the rest of the world. It can also be elected democratically, but his own behavior discharges him, atleast morally.

And for this reason i subscribe with pleasure the initiative thought by the blog friend Silvano and born in this discussion at Il Russo's blog, which goal is to diffuse to some international media a message of dissociation from the "compliments" of Berlusconi.

A blog had been created in order to organize the practical details of the initiative, and to collect subscription at this address:

Yes, Berlusconi is an Idiot.
I am different.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Hussein Obama
I wanted not to blog about the election of the president of the United States, but... i am not exempt from the enthusiasm that is overwhelming everybody.
My American friends for sure would be surprised noticing how much interest we have, on this side of the ocean, about the election of the American Presitent.
I believe that the citizens of the United States are more involved by a possible change about the big subjects of the internal politics, education, health care, public safety, on which i don't dwell upon, admitting my ignorance about them.

For us, instead, these elections deal about the role of the United States as the dominators of the world.

Nevertheless i believe that the President of the United Stats is not the one that really has the power. World economy is an interest much bigger than American democracy, and it's exactly this interest that determines the world order.
This raises to me doubts about Obama, as a possible renewer of the world politics. If there will eventually be a significant social change worldwide, it will be due by the achievement of an interest of the big multinational companies. And about this i fear that the will of the President doesn't have a big influence.
Even less the one of the electors.

Anyway, i like Obama. More than McCain. Infinitely more than Bush. I like Obama because he's black, and i hope that this feature of his will give a shake to all the consciousness of the world, especially over here in Italy, agains any type of racism. I like Obama because he has the image of a pacifit and environmentalist, although i believe that about these themes the image doesn't match with the real programs. I like Obama because of his human face, that doesn't work to hide his tears behind a plastic smile. In conclusion, i like Obama not because for a trust in a real change, but because he reflects a hope in a change that comes from the deep of the consciousness of the common man. A change towards a more imparcial, more peaceful, more environmentalist, more human society.

A change, in a society like ours, can happen only if it comes from the "high" of who handles the levers of the world capitalism. But a line on the sand that shows the direction of a change towards a more moral world order could be drawn only by the consciousness of the common man. And the image of Obama is a reflection of it.

Today i love the American People for having the courage to choose for that change.