Saturday, December 7, 2013

For Curious People

 For Curious People

Traditions old and new, as well as superstitions, all mix together to create the culture of modern day Italy.  As we approach the New Year, I would like to share with you how Italians ring in this event.                                                                                                                                

Do Italians really wear red underpants on New Year’s Eve?                                                          It might surprise you to discover that Italian men and women do wear red underpants for good luck (Buona Fortuna). In order for this custom to be effective, the red underwear must be thrown out the following day. Especially in the south, throwing old things out the window symbolizes the acceptance of the New Year, insuring good luck.

What do you know about the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68AD)?

He is remembered for his perverse mind and his persecution of Christians. Nero, who killed his mother and two of his wives, became totally deranged in later life. When a fire ravaged Rome for six days, destroying 14 districts, Romans suspected that Nero had set this fire. According to a legend, Nero craved to become pregnant as he wanted to experience the feeling of giving birth. He threatened doctor after doctor until he found two who gave him a beverage containing a small live frog. After swallowing this potion, the frog would move in his belly thus giving him the sensation of having a baby. In the meantime the two doctors fled before the frog showed up in Nero’s stools. Nero, to mock those who laughed at him, paraded the frog through the streets of Rome on a chariot. When the parade reached the Tiber, the frog jumped into the river, hence the word (name) Laterano, from the Latin  “Latitans rana”(frog on the run).

Do you know where the term “Syphilis” comes from?

Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553), an Italian physician, poet, astronomer and geologist studied at the University of Padua, where he met the Polish astronomer Copernicus. His most famous work was the narrative poem “Syphilis Sive Morbo Gallico”(French disease), in which he talks about a young shepherd (Sifilio) who is infected with this sexually transmitted disease, now called syphilis. I should add that in 1494, the siege of Naples by the French troops and their aggregated 800 prostitutes caused an epidemic of this Syphilis.

Casanova and his anti conception method.        

Casanova (1725-1798), the legendary world’s greatest lover, conquered women with his charm and his love technique. e was a very intelligent manh He was a very intelligent man who was welcomed in the boardroom and in the bedroom. It is said that he slept with 130 women.                                                                                                                Casanova  is also known for having discovered the use of lemons as a contraceptive: a lemon was cut in half, squeezed, and the rind, devoid of pulp, was placed over the uterine opening like a cap. This has been confirmed by Australian scientists at the University of Melbourne.  Besides being a “playboy” he was a prolific writer as well.

Things that you never knew:


1) Every man produces 104 millions of spermatozoa a day, about 1200 per second.


 2) The brain reaches 90% of its size by age six, stops growing by age 18, and it weighs an    

      average of 1.5Kg. (3lbs), representing 2% of our body weight.


3) Parts of our body do regenerate: bones in 7 years, skin regenerates completely in 15-30 days, nails in 3-4 months. It varies from individual to individual and it is also influenced by the seasons.

4) There are 600 different shapes of pasta in Italy.

5) Did you know that in France you cannot use the word “Mademoiselle”? In fact the  French Government has abolished the word from its official protocols and replaced it with “Madame”. Anglo-Saxon countries use “Ms. ”instead of “Miss”. Germany uses “Frau” and not “Fraulein”, and in Italy Signorina” has been replaced by “Signora”.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Some Interesting Tidbits

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.

( I know you are going to try this out for accuracy, right?)

There are only four words in the English language that end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

(Are you doubting this?)

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "facetious" and "abstemious."

(I bet you are going to say: "a, e, i, o, u".

"Typewriter" is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

(Test this out)

"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.

(You tried this out mentally, didn't you ?)

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

The words "racecar," "radar," "madam," kayak" and "level" are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A snail can sleep for three years.

A  shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.             

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

The average American motorist,  in his lifetime,  will spend an average of 6 months waiting for red lights to turn green.

Leonardo Da Vinci, who could write with one hand and draw with the other,  invented the scissors.

Winston Churchill, who smoked between 8 to 10 cigars a day, and drank at least 22 shots of cognac and champagne a day, was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Now you know everything !


Monday, September 9, 2013

Funny English Translations

 English is regarded as being cool, thus is being used all over

 the world for advertisement. Here is an hilarious selection of funny

English signs and notices from all four corners of the world.


                            In an Acapulco hotel:

The manager has personally passed all the water here.


                           On a golf course in Mexico:

Any persons, except players, caught collecting golf balls on this course

will be prosecuted and have their balls removed.


                         In a Copenhagen airline ticket office:

             We take your bags and send them in all directions.


                        Doctors office, Rome:

           Specialist in women and other diseases.      


                          In a Nairobi restaurant:

Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.


                                      In a cemetery:

              Persons are prohibited from picking flowers

                         from any graves but their own.


                  Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand:

                    Would you like to ride on your own ass ?


                                 A laundry in Rome:

                  Ladies leave your clothes here and spend

                      the afternoon having a good time.


                               Cocktail lounge, Norway:

            Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.


                                Dry cleaners , Bangkok:

                   Drop your trousers here for best results.


                             On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:

                         Our wines leave you nothing to  hope for.


                                           Hotel, Japan:

                You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

                (This one might interest Dominic Strauss Kahn!)


                              In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across

                              from a Russian Orthodox monastery:                              

Your are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.


                                 Hotel, formerYugoslavia:

                  The flattening of underwear with pleasure

                         is the job of the chambermaid.


                                Supermarket, Hong Kong:

                       For your convenience, we recommend

                            courteous , efficient self-service.


                Tourist agency, former Czechoslovakia:

                 Take one of our horse-driven city tours.

                      We guarantee no miscarriages.


                                    In a Swiss mountain inn:     

                                  Special today - no ice-cream.


                                   In a Paris hotel elevator:

                     Please leave your values at the front desk.


                             Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop:

                                 Ladies may have a fit upstairs.


                              In a Rhodes (Greece) tailor shop:

                    Order your summer suit. Because is big rush

                   we will execute customers in strict rotation.


                                     In a Budapest zoo:   

                Please do not feed the animals. If you have any

                   suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.        


                                      In a Indian maternity:

                                       No children allowed.




Friday, June 28, 2013

Here is an entertaining and heartwarming approach to relationships.
I like to share with you these amusing math calculations that I came across lately. Enjoy !

ROMANCE MATHEMATICS                                                              

 Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair

 Dumb man + smart woman = marriage

 Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy

 Smart boss + smart employee = profit

Smart boss + dumb employee = production

 Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
 Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime

 A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs.

 A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn't need.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

 A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
 A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

 To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.

To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all. _______________________________


Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

 A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

 A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.



 Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me,

 "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.


Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production

Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime



 Was Pythagoras right in stating that " All is number ?"

 PS.  Since  I’ll be taking a summer hiatus, I like to wish you all a safe and happy summer.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

For Curious People

Things we never thought of: Time spent doing various activities or physical functions in our lifetime.  A man takes an average of 600 steps a day, which is equivalent to 4 times the circumference of the earth in our lifetime. A lady spends 3 years taking care of her body and make up.  We blink our eyes 15-20 times a minute, 10 thousand times a day and more than 6 million times a year.  Women blink nearly twice as much as men.  Consider also that we spend the same amount of time peeing as making love.
Since our average life expectancy is 80 years, I'm going to break down the time that an average person spends doing stuff in his (her) lifetime so that we can all program our time to do everything that we want to do.
Time spent for every action:
Standing up                                30 years
Sleeping                                     27 years
Walking                                     16 years
Watching TV                             11 years
Listening to the radio                 10 years
Seated at a table                           9 years
Working                                      8-9 years
Eating                                          6-7 years
Talking on the phone (women)     5  years
Laughing with friends                  1 year & 258 days
Having a cold                                500 days
Being sick                                      420 days
Making love                                   110 days
Having a pee                                  106 days
Waiting for a woman                      3 months
Having a poo (shit)                              53 days
Having an orgasm                            16 hours
Sticking the fingers in the nose        4 times a day

We lose almost 1g of skin every day which is equivalent to 20 Kg in our lifetime. Remember that we change our skin completely every 3-4 weeks.
I should add that we waste precious time in many other activities of our life, such as waiting for a bus,  in traffic (7 years), etc. etc.
Smile and don't waste time!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Power of a Sex Strike by Women

How to stop wars or revolutions?  Women have an infallible weapon: “Sex Strike.” There are so many ways of playing politics, one of the most efficacious and congenial is a sex boycott. This idea first originated 2400 years ago, when Aristophanes, Greek play writer, in one of his comedies, narrates how Lysistrata, an extraordinary woman, managed to persuade, women, young and old from various city states of Greece, to abstain from sex with their husbands and lovers in order to force them to forge a truce with their rivals from Sparta, and thus bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, 431-404 A.C.
Even today, according to Michael Norton, the strategy of sex strike is quite effective. In his book of “365 Ways to Change the World” he puts it in the 14th place for its effectiveness.
In 1992 women in Poland used this strategy quite successfully. In this very catholic country contraception was prohibited, thus the only way to control the birth of a baby was abortion. But as soon as the newly elected Prime Minister, Hanna Suchacka, made abortion illegal, Polish women answered with a sex strike.  Consequently the number of births went down causing the fall of the catholic government.
In Colombia, in October 1997, the chief of the military publicly called for a sex strike among the wives and girlfriends of the Colombian left-wing guerrillas, drug traffickers and paramilitaries as a strategy to achieve a ceasefire. The guerrillas ridiculed the initiative since they had 2000 women in their army. In the end the  ceasefire was achieved, but lasted only a short time.
In September 2006, wives and girlfriends of gang members, from Pereira, Colombia, started a sex strike called “La huelga de las piernas cruzadas” (the strike of the crossed legs) to curb gang violence and to force gang members to hand in their guns with the motto “Violence is not sexy”. In 2010 the murder rate in Colombia went down 26.5%
In 2001 in Sirt a Turkish village with 600 inhabitants, near Antalya, because of a broken aqueduct, women had to walk 16 Km in order to fetch water home. Islamic religion requires a bath after a sexual relation, “but if we can bathe nor wash our clothes then we can’t have sex “, this was the message sent to their husbands.  After three weeks of abstinence, the local government installed 8 Km of a new pipeline.
In 2002, in Sudan, women from various clans started a sex strike hoping to put an end to a civil war that had been going on for 19 years.
In 2003 was the turn of the women of Aghem, in the North East of Camerun, who refused to have sex and to cook for their families for 3 months.  They went back to their fields only when the wife of their chief guaranteed them a solution.
The same happened in Liberia, when Charles Taylor with a coup d’état named himself President, thousands of women, to stop a civil war, all dressed in white protested through the streets. They soon started a sex strike until a new democratic election gave them, in 2005, a woman president, the first woman in Africa.
In 2008 there was a sex strike, in Naples, Italy, over firework.  Hundreds of women pledged to abstain from sex with their men unless they refrained from setting off dangerous and illegal  firework on New Year’s Eve.  In the past these fireworks caused many injuries. In fact, the leader of this movement, Mrs. Staiano, had spent her entire life taking care of her father, who was left partially paralyzed after a firework exploded next to him at a previous New Year’s Eve celebration.  Local authorities backed the women and sent out text messages urging men “to make love, not explosions.”
In 2009 there was a similar case in Kenya.  This time even the wife of the President and the wife of the Prime Minister joined the protesters.  Abstinence from sex forced the 2 litigants to talk peace.
More recently, March 22/10 a feminist movement in the Ukraine, Femen Ukrainian, called on wives and lovers of members of government to castigate their husbands with a sex boycott to protest against sexual exploitation and discrimination of Ukrainian women.  This non violent and legitimate form of protest was a reaction to the Prime Minister’s explanation that the lack of women ministers was due to the fact that  women are unfit to carry out government reforms as they are unable to say no.  To add insult to injury, the President stated that the place of women is in the kitchen and not in politics.
All these sex strike movements seem to have been inspired, to some degree, by the Greek play, Lysistrata

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Legacy of Achievement: The Italian Americans

Italians have greatly contributed to science, arts, technology, cuisine, sports and banking worldwide. Italian people are also known for their attention to clothing and family values.

In addition to the 60 million Italians living in Italy, it is estimated that nearly 80 million people of full or part Italian ancestry live outside of Italy, mostly in South America, North America, Australia and Europe.  Here are countries that have Italian blood:
1.Brazil 25 million, 2.Argentina 20 million, 3. USA 18 million, 4. France 4 million,
5.Canada  1.5 million, 6.Uruguay 1.3 million, 7. Australia 850 000, 8.Venezuela 700 000
9. Germany 700 000,   10. Switzerland  600 000,  11. Peru   500 000,
12. United Kingdom 400 000, 13.Belgium 290 000, 14. Chile 150 000, 15. Paraguay 100 000,
16. South Africa 45 000, 17. Holland 30 000,  17. Mexico 20 000, 18. Costa Rica 20 000.

 A major wave of Italian immigrants came to America during the 1880’s through the 1920’s, after Italy’s unification in1861, when over 4 million Italians entered the United States. However the impact was far greater in countries like Brazil and Argentina.  The first Italian immigrants to America were from northern Italy, Veneto, Friuli, Lombardia and Piemonte. They were followed    by people from southern Italy: Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Abruzzi.

 Italian immigrants were originally discriminated against. In fact, there was a time when speaking Italian was a crime. It is ironic when we consider that America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer and geographer.

Italians and their descendants in America helped shape the country and contributed to the advancement in the quality of life in the United States.  They gained prominence in politics, sports, media, fine arts, culinary arts and in many other fields of endeavor.  No wonder that every year the US President signs an executive order designating the month of October as the National Italian American Heritage Month.  This proclamation is recognition of the many achievements and contributions of Italian Americans.
Here is a short list of prominent Italian American personalities among many other great Italian legends: Rodolfo Valentino, Fiorello La Guardia, Gerardine Ferraro, Nancy Pelosi, Mario and Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Antonio Meucci, Ghirardelli, Enrico Fermi, Enrico Caruso, Antonin Scalia, John Sirica, Madonna, Susan Lucci, Susan Sarandon, Anne Bancroft, Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola, Sylvester Stallone, Leonardo Di Caprio, Danny De vito, Al Pacino, Alan Alda, Sonny Bono, Danny Aiello, Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine, Mario Lanza, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perri Como, Julius La Rosa, Louis Prima, Connie Francis, Annette Funicello, Henri Mancini, Guy Lombard, Liberace, Tony Danza, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Yogi Berra, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Di Magio, Tony La Russe, Primo Carnera, Rocky Marciano.

I would like to add two names that are not well known but noteworthy nonetheless: Adelina Patti, a soprano who, while singing at the White House, touched the heart of President Abraham Lincoln, and Amadeo Giannini who founded The Bank of Italy in 1904 in San Francisco.
It served working class citizens of the area, especially Italian Americans living in San Francisco’s North Bay area. In 1928, The Bank of Italy merged with the smaller Bank of America.  In 1930 Giannini changed the name Bank of Italy to Bank of America.

Today the Italians are the 5th largest ethnic group in the US after the Germans, Irish, English and Africans. Thanks to various organizations, such as the Italian American Heritage Commission in New Jersey, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in Washington D.C. and
Casa  Italiana  Zerilli-Marini New York University, Italian culture is florishing in the USA.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Origins of Mafia

The MAFIA society is over 600 years old.  It started in 1282 in Palermo when Sicily was under French rule. On Easter Monday, during the evening prayer (vespers), a Frenchman harassed a Sicilian girl. I should mention that there are different accounts of the harassment, as to who the woman was, and who the Frenchman was. In fact, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported on May 3, 1891, that a beautiful young girl and her fiancé (betrothed) had approached the Church of the Holy Spirit in order to be united in marriage. As the custom dictated the groom went to look for the father of the bride in a room at the back of the church. While the bride was waiting in front, a drunken French sergeant threw his arm around her waist and with the other hand grabbed her breast.  The poor girl, overtaken by fear, started to scream and tried to run away.. Unfortunately, her shoe got caught in the crack of a stone pavement and she fell, hitting her head against the corner of the church building. At that very instant her betrothed arrived and, seeing his future wife down and bleeding, took his stiletto and drove it into the assailant’s chest crying Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela.”(Death to France is Italy’s Cry). As you can see the word MAFIA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the above Italian phrase. This incident infuriated all Sicilians who started to form secret societies who took up arms against the French who had ruled the Kingdom of Sicily with a very repressive regime since 1266. In fact this insurrection led to the so called War of the Sicilian Vespers which ended with their expulsion in 1302 with the Treaty of Caltabellotta.

The Mafia in America is believed to have been started by Don Vito Cascio Ferro, who fled to New York following the murder of a banker in Sicily. In the 1920’s, when Mussolini tried to eradicate the Mafia, many members of the secret society fled to America.  It doesn’t surprise me to read that during W.W.II, the Mafia collaborated with the Allies once they landed in Sicily.
In fact, they freed all anti-Mussolini prisoners including many society members. Once some were placed in positions of power, they started to make deals with politicians. If you look at the present political situation in Italy and at the number of politicians accused of corruption, you understand when it all started..

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bits and pieces of an article that might whet your curiosity

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply.
The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.

United States
The Eisenhower Interstate System is a network of  freeways that is part of  the National Highway System of the United States, and it  requires that one mile in every five must be straight and flat. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies. It was President Dwight Eisenhower who in 1956 authorized the construction of this highway system by the Federal Aid Highway Act.
How did this idea come about ? At the end of WWII General Dwight Eisenhower, after surveying the war damage in Germany, was impressed by the durability of the Autobahn (a Federal Expressway System). Since in the 1950’s America feared a nuclear attack from the Russians, Eisenhower decide to provide evacuation routes from the cities.
The longest interstate is the I-90, which runs from Seattle, Washington, to Boston.

More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.
There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, everyone is manmade.
New York City

The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930s
who used the slang expression 'apple' for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time - The Big Apple.

There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy;( home to 3.4 million Italians, which is among the largest concentration in the world after Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Milan and Rome.) and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert; the average yearly total precipitation is about two inches.
Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it is ice.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

Canada, the second largest country in the world, has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.  The name Canada was first used by Jacques Cartier in 1535.  It derives from an Iroquoian word  Kanata  meaning "Big Village".
Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.
Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents.

The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy, in 133 B.C.
There is a city called Rome on every continent.
The actual smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order.  It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts and, as of 2001, has a population of 80 -- 20 less people than the Vatican.
It is a sovereign entity under international law, just as the Vatican is.
The water of Angel Falls (the world's highest) in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet (979 meters)- 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.
I have always said that we learn something new every day. Unfortunately, many of us are at that age where what we learn today, we forget tomorrow.
But, give it a shot anyway