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It probably seems strange, even sad, that the high point of my day is the journey to work What’s more we’re only talking about ten minutes because, although it’s a half-hour’s drive from our village of Gualdo Cattaneo to the city of Foligno where we rent an office, the best part, the secret, unsigned short cut, is only a small portion of it Every morning the journey starts in much the same way...

Italy is famous for all sorts of things and one of them is its bureaucracy If you take up residence in Italy, you will be blessed if the town of your birth in the UK is a short word because you will have to write it more times than you could ever count Don't ask me why it' so important; it just is...

I have two Dads That sounds strange doesn’t it One is my genetic father, and the other is my geneticist father...

The morning starts with a bang or one bang after another, a series, a chorus - the same sound that lulled me to sleep the night before Well, I smile to myself, after all it's their country and they're free to do as they like How does it matter that most cities elsewhere have practically banned firecrackers...

Oddly enough, I've come to think that my hearing loss was one of the best things that ever happened to me, as it led to the publication of my first novel But it took a while for me to accept that I was losing my hearing I was born with a mild hearing loss but began to lose more of my hearing when I was a senior in college...

October 1, 2004, 9:50 pm So we spent our last day here today, the last day of this truly amazing 2 week vacation Yesterday, after our little beach experience at Cala Llonga we went to the town of Sant Miquel where they have a live performance of folkloric dancing every Thursday evening at 6:15 pm The performance was inside the white-washed church's inner yard and we sat down with another 40 to 50 tourists to watch a group of about 10 children and teenagers who were all dressed up in traditional Ibizan outfits...

We are invited, this fine morning, to feel superior As we sip our coffee and munch on our toast, we're presented with a side-dish of superiority, courtesy of our regular television channel's news readers We're invited to join and laugh with them at the hapless loser antics of, well, just about anyone and anybody who dares to raise their head above the parapet and be noticeable, everyone, that is, except for them and, of course, since we're implicitly invited to join, we ourselves...

My husband and I recently had a baby, and family and friends have been dropping by regularly to visit and see our new addition We live near my family, so they've been over almost every day while my husband's family is spread out all over the United States Since his family can't exactly drop by for obvious reasons, we've gotten a lot of cards, letters and gifts in the mail...

Sunday, March 13, 2005 So I am cheating a little, I am already back in Toronto, writing this little summary of the second half of our trip to Quebec While we didn’t ski on Wednesday because it was too friggen cold, we did have a beautiful day of sunshine on Thursday, albeit a little on the cool side (about minus 15 Celsius…) Well, it was certainly a perfect day to go skiing on Thursday and we chose to go to Jay Peak in Vermont, just south of the Quebec border...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005 So I am sitting here at the Club Vacances Magog with the wind howling outside at 45+ km per hour and temperatures of about -15 to -20 degrees Celsius, windchill factor not included We drove up from Toronto last Saturday and it only took us about 6 hours to get to the town of Magog in Quebec's Eastern Townships This area, l'Estrie, is located about 1 hour southeast of Montreal and very close to the Quebec - Vermont border...

Hotel Habana Libre, Thursday, April 14, 2005, 3:02 pm The last few days I have spent quite a bit of time walking around downtown Havana - or Habana Vieja, as they say around here It is an extremely fascinating place and one of the most architecturally consistent colonial city centres in the world A few days ago, my local friend Pedro and I went to explore the Capitolio, which is a beautiful building, ironically very reminiscent of the Capitol in Washington...

Etecsa Telecommunications Building, Downtown Havana, Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 3:06 pm So I am sitting here in a new place and I gotta hurry since I bought a $6 CUC Internet access card and I only have 53 minutes left At any rate, the dinner at Pedro´s family on Sunday was amazing We took the GuaGua (Public Transit System) and after about 1 hour we arrived in the area of Marinao...

Hotel Havana Libre, Sunday, April 10, 2005, 12:30 pm Yesterday morning I had arranged to meet one of the women from the from the university, a very nice lady in her late 50s, who agreed to show me around the Vedado area and take me through some local markets Vedado is a beautiful residential neighbourhood with many mansions and villas dating back maybe 80 to 100 years or so Before the revolution it was the neighbourhood where all the doctors, lawyers and business people lived, most of whom emigrated around the time of the Revolution...

Hotel Habana Libre, Sunday, April 10, 2005, 11:10 am After picking up the bicycle on Thursday, I finally took my first ride on Friday afternoon through the beautiful residential area of Vedado We had had a tropical downpour in the early afternoon, so the streets were a bit wet and it was about 4 pm or so by the time I got out Of course, by that time, rush hour traffic had already started and there were thousands of people in the street, waiting for buses...

Hotel Havana Libre, Sunday, April 10, 2005, 12:45 pm After my walk through the Vedado neighbourhood, my friend Pedro came to pick me up since I had suggested a little excursion with a rental car to get to know the countryside His wife and sister-in-law unfortunately coulnd't make it since their cousin was coming to town La Habana can feel a little claustrophobic since the transportation options are limited and even a basic taxi ride to the Eastern Beaches (Playas del Este) is quite costly...

Hotel Havana Libre, Friday, April 8, 2005, 3:45 pm So, of course, not everything is politics, learning, philosophizing and studying languages Life also has to include some fun And Cubans, despite all the hardships, know how to have fun...

Hotel Havana Libre, Friday, April 8, 2005, 3:21 pm It is such an amazing experience to live the life of a student again, after 15 years in business, 2 business degrees and at almost 40 years of age (okay, soon I´ll be 39...

Hotel Havana Libre, Friday, April 8, 2005, 2:47 pm I am sitting here at one of the most famous hotels in all of Havana, after I just withdrew Can$250 (200 CUC, Pesos Convertibles) from my Mastercard No big deal, you say...

--Men are like steel: when they lose their temper, they lose their worth Chuck Norris Anger makes dull men witty, and it keeps them poor --Attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) Anger, Rage and violence be distruptive to any work enviroment...

My god, how time flies...

Hotel Habana Libre, Saturday, April 16, 2005, 9:51 am So my stay in the Cuban capital is rapidly coming to a close Even the good weather seems to have taken leave This morning it clouded over, followed by an intense downpour and now the sky is grey and the wind is blowing strongly...

Hotel Habana Libre, Thursday, April 14, 2005, 3:38 pm During the past close to 2 weeks, I have really been trying to understand Cuba, its politics, its economy, its people, its mentality I have been talking to as many locals as I could, and every night before I go to bed, I have been reading books about Cuba in addition to having purchased some local Cuban books which are going to give me more insight about this unique, contradictory place Yesterday I had a chance to talk to a TV journalist, who is a specialist in economics and he explained a few things to me...

The Horse I bought Aries knowing that he had some issues Not a problem, I like a challenge One of the first problems we had to deal with is catching him...

A Little Background Vego (Thoroughbred/Percheron gelding) is about 2 years old I have spent many hours doing ground work with him He knows how to move away from pressure, lounge, back up, jump over logs, etc...

Word has it plans have been changed this year for the guest invites at Sandringham Castle The Queen I believe after reading a recent article in the daily paper has banned Florence Princess Anne's English bull terrier from the royal residence Florence is to sleep outside in a parked up vehicle with Anne's other pet dog of the same breed called Lottie...

The parking lot was empty on a Saturday, and the office folk weren’t at work She had an internship interview at the Orient Square Ortigas, and I had to pick her up Her session was finally done - thank god; I hated waiting...

Yesterday was our last day in New York City and our flight left at 7:57 pm, so we figured we'd store our luggage at the B&B for a few hours and head out one more time for one more round of urban exploration Well, one area we hadn't seen much yet was Brooklyn (other than Coney Island which we explored on Friday) We really liked Brooklyn, formerly a sleepy suburban area, which has has nicely matured into one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in New York City, no wonder, thanks to its stately architecture, multicultural shopping areas and green mature trees in many areas...

One of the things I do for the website is I continuously search out individuals and organizations that have accomplished unusual things or made special contributions Through my research I had come across an organization called SERVAS, an organization of hosts and travellers world-wide throughout 130 countries that intends to foster peace through intercultural exchange Hosts throughout the member countries generally receive travellers for 2 days (or longer if they wish) and accommodate them in their home...

The University of British Columbia has a drop-in centre downtown in Vancouver's East side called the Learning Exchange where it provides educational opportunities to people who live and work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and other inner-city communities Vancouver's Downtown East Side is an inner city neighbourhood that has been experiencing problems with drug addiction and prostitution for many years The area consists of several diverse neighbourhoods, including Strathcona, Chinatown, and Gastown, as well as the central area around Main and Hastings...

No visit to Vancouver could be complete without a real mountain experience So after covering the Servas conference I left at 2 pm for downtown To get to Grouse Mountain was quite an experience in itself, I got to take 2 buses downtown, then I boarded Vancouver's light rail rapid transit system, the Skytrain, which runs underground downtown, just like a subway...

 
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