Geocatching

“People working together can do great things.” – Tanzanian proverb

I’ve never had the chance to go through a tough winter, like the one that just passed, in my whole life.

I remember how strange I used to be in my young life. I even used to pray for heavy snows and tough weather. All I wanted from life was to have white winters.

Of course, I was never happy with the amount of snow my little town back in Romania used to have…

Well, this past winter, I was finally able to say that I had an almost full white winter. All my prayers from my early life brought me what I desired (a little bit late but it was definitely worth it).

How we all might think, most likely, everything happens for a reason.

The park we usually use for Disc Golf is actually a ski course during the winter season. After 3 long months without playing Disc Golf, we decided that sunny wintry Saturday was the day we wanted to go play.

In order to have a good experience, you should never step outside the car without at least 2 discs each, an amazing apple cider, sunflower seeds…

After the 4th basket, the bad luck wanted us to reach the ski slopes. That was absolutely fatal for our day out. We couldn’t finish our disc golf that day.

But hey!

“Respect little things.” – Tanzanian proverb

So we did. We didn’t need too much time to realize that we had the gold in our hands. In fact, we stepped out of the ski course and we changed our day. All you could see were these two mature children playing in the snow with their expensive Disc Golf discs. We transformed the discs into sleds, passing from disc golfing to snow sliding. It was amazingly fun and the wet clothes were not a big deal.

Course after course…

Laugh after laugh…

I was thrown back into my early life and I was happy to use a random object to enjoy going down the snowy hills.

Sometimes it feels amazing to open the box of memories and take some youthful skills for the present. It makes you start to feel different and brings you only smiles and good feelings.

Anyway, that wasn’t the juice of the story…

While enjoying the dangerous hills and walking along the ski trails, we stopped near a large fallen tree as a place to rest. Under this huge tree, there was a hidden box. It looked like a small waterproof container containing a logbook and a pen. I found for the first time in my life: a Geocatching box.

Geocatching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a global positioning system (the famous GPS) receiver or mobile devices and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches” at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.

It was such a great find and I remember being so impressed how many things the world can create during our lives, and we don’t have the time or the chance to learn about them. Or sometimes we are just not in the right spot in the right moment. Or maybe because everything happens for a reason…

Opening that box we found a pen, a logbook and some weed. Weird but true, I know. A small ball of weed was waiting for the next Geocatcher. We added some sunflower seeds, we wrote down the date we found it with a little note and…put the closed container back in its place.

…and,

I want to leave the doubt. Those who know me well, knows if that day I took the weed or not.

You could write a comment below with your opinion. I would love to know and I’m curious what your opinion is. Thank you in advance for leaving a comment!

Now that I know about Geocatching, I will open my eyes and focus more on possible Geocatching spots. I’m curious what the people will share with me next time.

By the way, the unfeasibility of not being able to play disc golf that day taught me two things:

The first: no matter what, find a way to have fun, because you need it. And the second: let your life sometimes guide you towards the unknown…maybe you can have some good surprises.

Life’s good and I’m always amazed how lucky I am sometimes.

Listoke Garden

 

Listoke Garden

“Birds will flock to a fruitful tree.” – Senegalese proverb

I lied down on the blanket and I closed my eyes. The last thing I saw, before I closed my eyes, were those beautifully colored blossoms. The fresh scent of the grass that I’d cut moments before, penetrated my nose, reaching my soul and heart.

Under that pretty tree, I heard and smelled for the first time in my life the sound of Heaven. The humming birds and nature’s perfume were allowing me to forget about the tough moments I was going through in that moment of my life.

That day was the first time in my life that I didn’t feel any sort of fatigue after a day’s work.

“The sound of the drum depends on the drummer” – Mozambican proverb

More than 2 years ago, the destiny brought me to live in the Republic of Ireland. As many of you might already know, Ireland is mostly known for its pubs, Saint Patrick’s Day, Celtic step dance, the color green everywhere, and the Cliffs of Moher…

Well, Ireland is much more than that. Ireland is a land of hard working people that made the difference in the whole world. Ireland is not only beer and partying in the pubs. Ireland is a land of good-hearted, genuine people. If you’re lucky enough to enter and win their hearts, then you will be blessed forever.

I know it’s hard to understand…

It all began here:

In a turbulent moment of my life, I had the opportunity to taste the real Ireland. Even if it was for a short period of time, that life experience at the Listoke Garden in Drogheda (Ireland), gave me the opportunity to meet amazing Irish people and be welcomed into the heart of their family. In that moment of my life, I had the blessing to meet a wonderful family that didn’t need much more than a smile in order to offer me a chair at their dinner table.

The rule is simple: Always be a good person, and the good people will recognize that!

I guarantee that this is all true…but first:

Have you ever seen a movie or read a book where you can meet the character of an English woman with the gardener hat, the amazing loving husband, the fruitful garden, the sweet dog, the animals and the glass greenhouse?

I bet you have!

Here’s Part 1 of my story:

In late Spring of 2016, I was blessed by an Irish family. I didn’t need to read a book or see a movie. I had the amazing chance (maybe once in a lifetime) to live a real experience of full immersion into an Irish family, some 50 km north of Dublin.

The fact that my amazing wife, Sarah, was volunteering at this pretty Irish farm, through the non-profit WWOOF Program, gave me the ability to spend some time in that Heavenly place with her.

WWOOF volunteering means to be part of that family. You do whatever they do. Basically you do your best in order to take care of the place.

Those days during my time there, I worked with that family and I reached the real happiness. Everything I did for them, as work, was something I did with all my heart and with a huge smile.

The lovely host Patricia, half Maltese and half English, surprised me in many ways. Her fluent Italian made my days even easier. She is that lovely English lady, well-educated with the clothes always dirty because of her passion for gardening.

 

IMG_1638

 

Her husband, Patrick, is full-pride Irish. He is so kind and sweet, especially with his wife. I will never forget the day when we went with him to do the groceries. As he took a chocolate from the shelf, he said: “This is for my wife, she loves chocolate”

 

I don’t remember them talking about politics, or life related problems. All their worries were:

 

Understanding how the hamsters escaped from their secured cages (until we figured out where the problem was) or nursing a baby black bird to health.

 

Living there was like living in your favorite place on the planet. That place and those activities charged my soul and body with only positive energies. Every single time I needed to leave that place, I always returned back as a different person, a better person.

 

The simplicity of those people is something incredible. The fact that they always used words like Please and Thanks was something that put them in a special place in my heart.

 

In our lives we meet angels and devils. In that tough moment of my life I met two angels. God bless you Patricia and Patrick!

 

More to come…

Carlos and the Mushrooms Carpaccio

 

For all those who ever heard about the word Carpaccio, I found a really interesting definition.

Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat (mostly beef, veal or venison) or fish (salmon or tuna), thinly sliced or pounded thin and served mainly as an appetizer. The dish was served for the first time in Harry’s Bar in Venice and became popular during the second half of the Twentieth Century. The dish was invented in 1950 by Giuseppe Cipriani.

The ideal preparation of an authentic Carpaccio should be: beef served with lemon, olive oil, and white truffle or Parmesan cheese.

Years later, the term Carpaccio was extended to dishes containing other raw meats or fish, thinly sliced and served with lemon or vinegar, olive oil, salt, ground pepper and arugula on the top.

Honestly I would be really careful in preparing such a particular dish. The day I wanted to impress my companion, it didn’t happen. I saved myself in corner. I prepared for her a salmon carpaccio and a beef carpaccio. The salmon was fine but the beef was a “Big Disaster”.

The main rule is?

When using beef for the Carpaccio, always go with a sirloin.

For all who are reading my articles. Thank you! I would like to remind you about my summer time work experience as a young adult.

The day I met Carlos, my nickname became Delinquente. His Good morning was:

Buenos dias Delinquente!

Carlos is one of those Cuban guys that can take your mind through their narrations and bring you to amazing places and live their life episodes. It was thanks to him I learned my first steps of bachata (a type of dance) and the most nasty Spanish words. He needed only a photo of his amazing home country and some words, in order to transport me there and live vicariously through his amazing life.

I just realized I repeated the same thing in two different sentences.

Sorry!

“Buongiorno delinquente!”

“Hola Carlos!”

 

We were talking in two languages. I was correcting his Italian and he was correcting my Spanish. After 3 months, my Spanish improved a lot by talking with this Cuban Pizza man.

Not cool?

That morning he was preparing the pizza for lunch. He was (and hopefully continues to be) a super pizza man. He was able to make 150 pizzas during the dinner time.

Something you probably don’t know: In Italy, restaurants will never open their doors earlier than 7 PM. Well, wait, they might open but…the treatment will not be the best. Whoever goes into a restaurant before 7 PM will always be marked as a bad client by all the kitchen staff. ‘no stronzo

 

Always good to know for when you will go to Italy on vacation…

He was preparing the pizza. On his kitchen counter he had a glass of white wine with the remaining bottle. His face was already red and he was singing his favorite song:

Corazon Espinado

I was preparing the tables for the lunch when he says:

“Vieni qui Delinquente!”

“Te volio ensegnar alcosa”.

I looked at him like a teacher at school…

“Se dice: Ti voglio insegnare qualcosa.”

 

He rolled his eyes…

He started to chop 4 champignon mushrooms very thinly. Then he put them on a plain plate. He dropped some salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon on the top. After, he took some arugula from his stainless steel container and covered the mushrooms. Some olive oil drizzled over the top, and he put it in the fridge.

“Alex, esto es el Carpaccio de funghi! Tadaaa!”

30 minutes later, I tasted it and he needed to use the body force to stop me eating it all. It was super delicious…

Every single time I prepare the Mushrooms Carpaccio, I have in mind a boat with a tanned, cool Cuban guy on it and hundreds of lobsters. When I eat that dish I hear Corazon Espinado singing in my ears and I can imagine Cuba’s people.

One day I will visit Cuba, my cool Spanish and culinary teacher. Thank you for making my days easier!

Your Delinquente

Stop investigating the magic shows and live in the moment

 

The magic show – Magic on The Vine, presented and performed by Ben Whiting at the Chateau Grand Traverse on the Old Peninsula in Traverse City MI was the first I had attended in my life. It was something unique…

Television has always created billions of critiques, experts and investigators from all over the world, and I am one of them…

The difference between a live show and a recorded show is huge.

The filter, the screens created between the public and the artist, makes the show lose intensity and interest.

Being there, live, and as in my case (occupying the first row), creates a big impact on your mind and emotions. I don’t know if it is always that way but I can for sure say that the magician created a strong connection with us, the audience.

The moment I sat down on my chair, his charm and composure captured my attention. I involuntarily stopped being a critique and expert in solving mysteries of the magic tricks. I was a little boy and it was my first time I believed that magicians are really men with supernatural powers.

Before I continue with the story, I vividly suggest to all of you to go and see a live magic show! It is really worth it!

I left the house convinced I would probably partake in one of those boring nights that sometimes you find yourself involved in. The host made my day.

How?

The show was organized in this amazing wine tasting shop. Chateau Grand Traverse

A glass of complementary wine and free appetizers…

Bingo!

Trick after trick, my emotions were hiking a sort of trail towards the peak of happiness.

An hour later, he took a full deck of cards. He counted 10 cards in front of us and gave them to a girl, asking her to place them under her seat. She counted them and did what the magician asked. Then he counted 10 more cards and he handled them to my companion. She counted them and she did what the first girl did. After that, he counted the remaining 32 cards and put them on a table…

The moment each girl reached under their seat…the first girl counting only 7 cards and my girl counting 13, I stood up and I applauded that man with all of myself. He earned my respect and he made me reach the peak of my hike. I whistled…

The important thing is that he showed us his empty hands before handling those cards. He opened a brand new deck of cards.

I don’t want to know how he did that… It was pure magic!

Thank you Mr. Ben Whiting for taking me, bringing me back into teenage feelings, and entertaining one of my best Saturday nights out!

We all need those kinds of times where we can go back in time and experience various episodes of our lives that brought us here. He did that and I cannot wish him anything but Good Luck!

 

Equal Pay? Iceland Made It…

 

March of 2017 will be one of those moments in history we will happily remember. The month of March 2017 brings the victory to a handful of women. The Icelandic politicians approved the law that gives an important right and benefit to women:

Beginning today, Icelandic political leaders will start working on the plan that will guarantee the benefit of the Equal Pay to the employed women of the country.

The Equal Pay for men and women is not a utopia anymore, at least not for Iceland.

It all gained traction again, on a chilly afternoon in October 2016, a handful of women led by Frida Ros Valdimarsdottir (a former home-care worker) –armed with signs, kindness, and hope – walked into the main square of Reykjavik claiming their rights to be respected. In fact, they asked that the 50-year old law which guarantees the Equal Pay.

The Parliament of Iceland, which is half women and half men, on Tuesday March 27, 2017, became the first to introduce a legislation, which requires employers to prove they are paying men and women equally.

Many companies in Iceland already adopted voluntary the equal pay standard. Now that employers will have to prove to the authorities that they’re offering equal pay, the women can finally sing victory.

“We want to break down the last of the gender barriers in the workplace. History has shown that if you want progress, you need to enforce it.”

This is what Thorstein Viglundsson, the Iceland’s Social Affairs and Equality Minister, said.

According to Mr. Viglundsson’s words and what the law states, women will not only be the beneficiary of an equal pay, they will also have open doors to every level of a position within a company. In fact, employers must assess every job, from cleaner to senior executive, to identify and fix wage gaps of more than 5 percent.

The new rules would require the larger companies and government agencies to undergo audits, starting in 2018, and to obtain a certification of compliance with equal pay rules. Businesses with over 25 employees must comply by 2022.

Looking positively towards the future, the legislation will not fix only the gender pay gap issue, but will fight to provide the same work benefits to men and women.

Hopefully many other countries will see clearly into the future and will finally understand the importance of breaking down the walls of ignorance and view Iceland as an example to follow. After the publication of this news, the world hopes for a positive domino effect that will make all women feel appreciated by a men-dominant world.

 

 

Thank you Mr. Postman!

 

 

Have you ever felt that you didn’t thank somebody enough for something they did for you? What if that something they did for you was really important and made a huge impact on your life?

I was cleaning the house and I found somebody’s old photo album with pictures from a war. I couldn’t identify the war, but the photos were portraying the tough conditions of a war. As I was cleaning the bedroom, I decided to change the sheets. I didn’t realize though that I used the short ones. I’m a tall person and once I crawled into bed that night, I could barely cover my shoulders…

That night was the coldest night of my life. The wind and the snow were hitting my muddy chest. I was trying to stop my body from shaking and my teeth from chattering. I was leaning on the trench with a gun in my hands. I was clenching it because of my tense muscles. The night started with the enemy bombarding us with strong artillery. I didn’t remember seeing the water truck coming that week and the food was almost over. I don’t even know why we’re still here and what we are fighting for. Soon the snow became rain and everything became more difficult. The noise of the rain mixed with the explosions and gun shoots made me overwhelmed. The captain ordered us to attack in that moment. I took my gun, I asked to my God to keep me in health, and I raised my head out of the trench. Moments after we shot into the fog, a silence took possession of the night. The enemy stopped attacking. I was cold and tense and I tried to move a little bit. I moved my head. In that moment I saw the Sergeant falling down with a bullet caved on his forehead. I was shocked. While I was looking at him, paralyzed, a bullet launched my helmet far from me. I kneeled, scared, and I took my friend’s body in my arms, trying to stop the blood. The captain was ordering me to leave the body and run to the base. The enemy was advancing and we needed to retreat…

Once on the truck, the unpaved road was disturbing my view. The night sky was losing its darkness. A strong light overcame my eyes, and I felt as if I were passing out. A moment later, I returned to that truck. I was thinking of my buddy Daniel. In my thoughts, I was asking myself…How did we meet? I had doubts. Who is Daniel?

The captain ordered us to jump off the truck and go prepare the base for the final attack…

Everything was ready. The rain wasn’t too helpful. Same position. I was colder than earlier and my beautiful Sarah was in my thoughts. I knew I could die that night and I was so sad because I hadn’t heard from her in the past two months. I was there – alone and wet – under a cold rain that was hitting my skin. I wasn’t ready to die. I could feel tears coming down my face. She promised she would write me. I felt lost and abandoned. I wrote her so many letters without receiving even a word back…

I was counting the seconds, waiting for the enemy. At some point, I smelled her perfume and a strange light shone into my eyes. Then darkness again… a truck turned off the lights. I was able to read only Mail Service. A guy came over to me and asked who I was. He figured that I was the one he had been searching for, and he handed me the letter. I opened it. She reminded me about my promise…

I decided on that night, that it wasn’t my time. I needed to return to my forever Sarah. I promised to her I would return back into her arms. I promised her an eternal love. I needed to keep that promise…

I read her words over and over again. The postman told me that the country thought our battalion was dead. It all became clear – that’s why I hadn’t heard from her!

 

He decided to return to the base and bring the only letter that was sent for this camp. He went there even though we were declared dead more than a month ago. He came there even though he knew the enemy would be there. He honored the country.

That letter reminded me of the promise. That letter was there thanks to the courage of a man. That man, the mailman, had a huge impact in my life. He brought me the necessary strength to fight to stay alive.

Thanks Mr. Mailman!

My Sarah was still there, waiting for me. I was happy… I only needed to reassure her that I was keeping the promise.

 

But how?

A huge bomb exploded on the mail truck, injuring the postman. The captain was loosing blood on the mud. I could hear the others’ screams and cries. I was afraid. I was afraid that I wouldn’t keep my promise…

Another bomb exploded. I looked at my right hand, covered in blood. I couldn’t feel it anymore. I was cold and scared. I was crying and praying. I started to recite Our God

As I was praying, the silence returned and the noises of the bombs weren’t ringing in my ears anymore. The peaceful image was earning a stronger light. A moment later, I was being shaken awake, and I could see her face above me, giving me kisses…

I saw her beautiful face and her sunny smile. I was in her arms, close to her in our bed. I was cold, but happy.

Watching the Aurora Borealis through a Subaru’s sunroof

 

 

As I was watching the amazing nature display, that small newspaper clipping from back in 1998 comes back into my memories.

It was the middle of a chillingly cold winter back in Northern Romania. I came back in the house after a long Saturday afternoon outside playing with my friends in the snow. I remember how hard it was for my mother to change my clothes. I was frozen and my clothes were hard as ice. The reason we used to return home with wet clothes, starved and frozen, is because once you’re home you cannot return outside.

The rules were simple and clear:

  • If you’re wet (and a mother knows she has to wash your clothes) you’re out.
  • If you return home for a glass of water or a sandwich, and your clothes are wet, you’re out.
  • If you scream way too much and your mother hears you from the condo’s windows, you’re out.

God knows how many times we need to go through all these experiences in order to learn the secret:

If you obtain the freedom on a cold and snowy day, then you’re like a soldier during the battle. That means you cannot be thirsty, hungry or tired. Enjoy the time with your fellow friends till your mom comes on the condo’s roof top to call you inside.

I know what you might think in this moment. I bet you think we were just simple children “submissive” to our mother’s “supreme power”.

You’re wrong buddy!

We studied and we learned something important that really works in every single issue in this world:

Your individual voice is powerless, but when you’re in many, you can change minds and the rules. You can change history.

The power of unity always worked…

We used to form the begging group.

We used to go and knock at our fellow “imprisoned” friends’ door and ask for a meeting with their mother. Once she was in front of us, we would kneel in front of her and beg to let our friend outside with us. Who knows how many things we promised to those women and we didn’t follow through with. Something was always sure though: Always being respectful.

That night it didn’t work though. It didn’t work maybe because everything happens for a reason?

It was already late, but we needed to finish our toboggan track for the next day. I was the first of the team who was called inside by my mom. My fellow friends came at the eighth level where I was living, and did what needed to be done. It was dinner time and my mother was preparing it. Actually she was burning it because of my friends. They started to beg her. I was behind her.

And?

She closed the door in their face. And I was shocked. I knew that nothing would change her mind. I walked towards my room. In my head everything was wrong and unfair. Now that I think a little better, a song might be perfect for that situation:

I was alone in the dark, in my room. I was sad with the world. I was thinking, What is going to happen to our hard work?

About ten minutes later, my dad came in my room. He turned on the light. He launched an old magazine on my bed and he left.

The front page was showing this amazing picture with an amazing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) photograph. I don’t remember where that photo was taken or what the words meant. It was in German. All I could read was Aurora Borealis. I was sbalordito!…(amazed)…

I grew up with that picture in my head. For precisely 18 years. Until 5 months ago when I finally saw my first Aurora Borealis.

On that night, the woman of my life surprised me. We took our memory foam mattress for the back of her Subaru XV Crosstrek, a blanket, and some food. She told me she had a surprise. We drove North towards the infamous and formidable Sleeping Bear Dunes. We took a trail and we found the perfect parking spot. We had this amazing view in front of us. I couldn’t find a cloud on that clear sky full of stars.

I confess though…

I was a little bit scared. In that place, one could find only myself, this amazing woman of my life, and a bunch of still awake wild animals.

I couldn’t figure out why we were there. I thought that it might be one of those nights when we go stargazing and try to identify some of them.

What happened later?

She opened her Subaru’s sunroof so we were able to go safely outside to watch the waters of Lake Michigan. She looked at me and told me:

“Alex, not the stars…”

“Look at the horizon line over the water!”

I was amazed, folks! I couldn’t believe my eyes. That night we had the Aurora Borealis in front of us. What a pretty nature show. It was like when the wind blows the sand. That night the wind was blowing that amazing green light over the water. Thinking back on that night I get goose bumps. All we needed was an amazing and scary-romantic spot, a cozy car where to sleep, nature at its best, alongside the woman of my life. Without knowing, she made my dream come true.

We fell asleep with the phones close to us. We had almost 12 alarms between 10 PM and 5AM to witness the various light shows of the sky…

I’m so happy that I met you that day in Manarola, Sarah! I’m so glad my mother didn’t let me go outside that evening of 1998. I’m so happy that my father shared with me that magazine.

Does everything happen for a reason? Maybe not but what if it does happen for a reason? Anyway life is good!

Volunteering makes you feel good

 

 

One night on a warm Italian night I was returning from a night out with my friends. The road I was driving was the famous Via Aurelia. Aurelian Way is also known as one of the first Roman roads.

In the middle Republic, a series of roads were built throughout Italy to serve the needs of Roman expansion, including swift army movements and reasonably quick communication with Roman colonies spread throughout Italy.

This road, due to the fact that it is near to the sea, makes it become foggy on certain nights.

As I was driving on this foggy and dark Via Aurelia, I felt a little bit of fatigue. I pulled over at a sandwich food truck (in Italy we call them Paninari) and I decided it was a good moment for a coffee and a small walk.

Touching that hot coffee my brain was awake. That black and short espresso was strong enough to power me for the 30-minute drive back home.

On the other side of the road, two Love Sellers were trying to trade with a client. I was curious what would happen if the Carabinieri (the Italian military Police Officers) would stop by to see what was going on. I was trying to imagine a way to stop the illegal prostitution in Italy. In that moment I was an expert of resolving country’s issues.

I ask for your apologies for including ugly parts of a country with the prostitution and the thoughts I might conjure up in your head. I hope this article will not make you stop reading my life’s episodes. The point is, that I have to write down the reality and not invent words and truths.

Thanks for your understanding!

The deal didn’t happen, and the German production car tried to leave the gas station. The traffic was more intense in that moment, as the people were coming back home from a Saturday night out. Another car was passing in that moment. The other side of the road (in that spot the Aurelia Way is only a two lane road) was full of cars driving one behind another in a queue. The car that was passing needed an entry back on its side, but the guy who was looking for a companion didn’t make it in time to leave the gas station. What I was afraid might happen, in fact happened. A strong blow between the two cars made me jump. I was expecting an explosion, but thankfully that didn’t happen. I was shocked and felt useless…

As I was watching, I can remember broken glasses, exploded airbags, blood, and people running over to the scene of the accident…

I heard lots of sirens, ambulance volunteers who were first responders helping the emergency doctors.

I need a phily collar and a backboard.

Matteo!” – somebody was trying to find his friend.

He’s loosing too much blood…

Here Delta 4, we need the helicopter…

The morning after that accident, I read the newspaper. The accident claimed two victims. Both of them were from the same car: the client and the escort. I was wrong, that guy took one of the ladies from that gas station…

Almost 4 years after that ugly episode that I was unlucky to witness, I received a call from a friend of mine. He told me that an association of ambulance volunteering would start that same evening, a free course accepting new volunteers. That course had the goal to educate people in how to react during a medical emergency and train you to become a skilled volunteer.

I needed to decide right away. The decision of becoming a volunteer would make me become criminally responsible. That would involve a lot of responsibility. I listened to what he told me, but before he could even finish reading me all the pros and cons, I made a decision. I made one of the wisest decisions of my life:

After 5 months and 2 courses (Basic level and Advanced level) I became an ambulance volunteer.

I learned how to manage an emergency situation, how to execute a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). I learned the proper protocol to use with victims of life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be given full medical care at a hospital (BLS).

They were able to educate you on everything you need in order to know how to handle an emergency situation…

I remember my first day as a volunteer. I was proud of myself. I realized how volunteering makes you feel good…

Knowing that you have the potential to make a difference was the reason I accepted to enroll in that class and become a volunteer. Knowing that you might have the knowledge to save somebody makes you feel better with yourself.

Everything happens for a reason. I hope the reason I did the course will never put me in an emergency because it would mean that somebody needs help; but if that would happen, I will be ready.

Spaghetti Nirvana and Ponch alla Livornese

Every single man, at least once in his teenage life, tries an underpaid job just to become summertime money independent.

Most of us decide to take a job as a means to escape from home living far from parents. Many of us because we want to live, work and have fun in a cool sea destination.

As you may be starting to guess, I would like to confirm your prediction, and share with you my summertime waiter job.

Far from here… it was back in Italy precisely…I decided I wanted a car. Like most of the young men, I wanted to be cool and drive my girlfriend around Tuscany using my car.

And what was the easiest way to make good money but also having fun?

Boom!

I took the train and I stopped in Calambrone. This region belongs to Livorno’s Province (within Tuscany). If you drive 10 minutes north, along the Costa Tirrenica, you will reach one of the most chosen destinations of Livorneese people.

Yeah, that “resort” sent me home slimmer & tanned, with enough money to buy a 1996 old Volkswagen Polo car, but also taught me how to handle busy days and how to prepare the Spaghetti alla Nirvana and the Ponch alla Livornese.

I know that everything sounds cool and easy, but it wasn’t…

Allow me to write down the negative effects as a young and unqualified waiter:

  • I was working Sunday to Monday 7 days a week from 7PM till 11/1 AM and Thursday to Sunday from 10 AM till 4 PM. (the reason I kept working there was that I was making almost 50 bucks in tips a day)
  • I made only $750 a month (before tip). Yep, only $750
  • I lost almost 30 pounds in 3 months
  • I destroyed my back carrying the plates
  • I was the only waiter, and most of the time the restaurant was full (around 70/80 people)

Honestly? I won’t do that again and I won’t suggest a work experience like that to my future children. By the way, doing that job was possible only because I was young and thirsty for money.

I will though keep thinking that everything is possible if you want and if you are really ready to sacrifice yourself.

That summer changed me a lot and I understood how difficult it is to wake up and start working for a wage. I understood what it takes in order to be able to put a piece of bread on the dinner table and still have energy for a smile.

As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I also learned how to make nice kitchen dishes and drinks.

I would like, first of all, to dedicate some time to those who are still wondering where in the world is Livorno:

  • Livorno is an amazing city in Tuscany. Sadly it is not a tourist destination, even if I honestly think it would easily become one of the most beautiful places to go in Tuscany.
  • Livorno is well known for its amazing sea coast and clear waters.
  • Livorno is that place where every single phrase starts and ends with the word Deh.

 

  • Livorno has the most beautiful terrace in the world.

 

  • Livorno is a pretty town and it has an amazing water channel. I like to call it The Little Venice.
  • Livorno is known for its Ponch alla Livornese.

Well, let’s see what’s this ponch alla Livornese. Before you start reading I would like you to listen to this song

The ingredients: One part rum, one part cognac, one part hot coffee, sugar and lemon peel.

Take a wide thick and flat glass and pour a teaspoon of white sugar with a sliver of lemon peel. Then add a finger of rum and a finger of cognac. Then you should have a coffee incorporated steamer (if you hope to truly obtain a Ponch). Heat it with the steam machine. Be careful and don’t start fast (you don’t want to spit everything out of your glass). Once the sugar is melted, prepare an espresso. Put the glass inclined and fill it with the coffee. It has to be a finger of coffee.

Congrats! You should have obtained the Ponch, with an appearance of 3 levels: The first is the mix of spirits and sugar, the second is the coffee, and the third is the foam of the quality coffee.

If you can’t see all I tried to explain to you, then call me or come visit me in Michigan. I would definitely make you one.

If you have a 3 levels effect, then stop!

poncelivornese
photo: turismo.intoscana.it

Let me explain how to taste it and enjoy it:

1 – Rinse out your mouth

2 – Have a glass of water

3 – Now, with a teaspoon, take the lemon peel and chew it

4 – You should have a lemony taste.

5 – Now take a sip of that Ponch alla Livornese.

Isn’t it the best drink you’ve ever had?

You’re very welcome!

Not let me introduce you to the Spaghetti alla Nirvana. The name comes from the Resort I was working for. This plate was my favorite plate that summer. This plate means a lot to me and I think you should consider yourselves lucky that I’m sharing this recipe with you.

Again, you’re welcome!

Ok, now let’s make some Spaghetti alla Nirvana, folks!

Next time you go grocery shopping, remember to buy all these ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of fresh mussels (yes, with the shell)
  • 1 pack of spaghetti 5th thickness in measure
  • 8 oz. pack of heavy cream
  • 1 pound of cherry tomatoes (yes, red cherry tomatoes)
  • salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, white wine (yes, cheap white wine for cooking), dried chilly peppers, fresh parsley (don’t ever think to use dried parsley).

Now, you better not drink the wine for cooking…

Take a pot and boil some water. Pour 2 tablespoons of salt and mix the water (don’t even think to touch the pasta if the water is not boiling / don’t you ever brake the spaghetti because I might die). You should be able to read on the packaging for how many minutes you should boil the pasta (for the best result, always put the pasta when the water starts to boil and keep it the minutes they write on the package). Now take out the best pan you have in the house. Start chopping the garlic small diced. Drop 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let the oil become hot (medium heat). Drop the garlic and 2 small chilly peppers without throwing away the seeds. You need the maximum heat from the two chilly peppers. 15 seconds later add the 2 pounds of mussels (actually you already boiled in small water and opened the mussel’s shells), with half cup of white wine.

5 minutes later add the cherry tomatoes (please cut those tomatoes in halves or quarters). Add half teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity. Mix everything and pour half cup of cream. Wait for the cream to simmer and then turn off the fire.

Meanwhile, your pasta should be ready. Take a colander (I know you know how to use it) and throw the water away. Then put the spaghetti in the pan and do what you should do: Mix your spaghetti with the sauce over medium heat for 30 seconds.

Now heat a plate in the microwave for 40 seconds. Take it out and make the spaghetti nest in the middle. Then add some of that incredible and delicious sauce on the top.

I bet you forgot about the parsley, right?

Take some fresh parsley and chop it really thin. Then let it rain over your plate.

A glass of white wine and your plate of pasta…

Yeah, you’re very welcome! Again!

Isn’t it? Am I right that everything happens for a reason? Just because you read my article, you just learned how to make the Ponch alla Livornese and the Spaghetti alla Nirvana.

I really appreciate you reading this article till the end!

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

La Grande Recessione Italiana

Dieci anni fa, nel 2006, la Bolla Immobiliare statunitense fece crollare il settore immobiliare per colpa della crisi dei Subprime. In seguito al crollo immobiliare, con esso crollo anche tutta l’economia mondiale. Il mondo intero assisteva ad una delle piu gravi recessioni…

* I Subprime (Subprime lending), B-Paper, near-prime o second chance sono termini che indicano quei prestiti che, nel contesto finanziario statunitense, vengono concessi ad un soggetto che non può accedere ai tassi di interesse di mercato, in quanto ha avuto problemi pregressi nella sua storia di debitore. I prestiti Subprime sono dunque prestiti rischiosi sia per i creditori sia per i debitori, vista la pericolosa combinazione di alti tassi di interesse, cattiva storia creditizia del debitore e situazioni finanziarie poco chiare o difficilmente documentabili, associate a coloro che hanno accesso a questo tipo di credito…

La crisi finanziaria scoppiata alla fine del 2006 negli Stati Uniti ha trascinato con se una valanga di gravi conseguenze all’economia mondiale in particolare modo nei paesi sviluppati e ha innescato la grande recessione (da molti considerata la peggior crisi economica dai tempi della Grande Depressione).

Quasi tutte le economie piu forti furono colpite lasciando fuori dalla crisi solamente due paesi: India e Cina

Dando un’occhiata alla situazione Europea, ma in particolare modo a quella Italiana, possiamo dire che il paese tutt’ora si trova nel vortex:

  • millioni sono le aziende che hanno aperto e chiuso porte durante la recessione
  • migliaia invece sono quelle storiche aziende che hanno detto basta e riloccato laddove il tutto costa meno
  • decine di migliaia di societa chiuse per mala gestione
  • centinaia di migliaia, quelle che arrancano, pero non sanno che stanno morendo lentamente

Il vortex ha portato alti tassi di disoccupazione, aumento prezzi materie prime, aumento tasse & IVA e quindi squilibrio sociale. Tutto questo non ha fatto altro che colpire le famiglie.

Sono in molti pero che ancora prendono il caffe al bar e sperano che il paese si riprenda da solo…

Il post crisi dovrebbe portare la ripresa del paese come gia accaduto in moltissimi paesi dell’Eurozona ed altrove…

Il realtà invece e molto diversa da come dovrebbe essere. Un paese come l’Italia (una volta scena di grande crescita economica) sta ancora cercando la soluzione al problema utilizzando gli stessi arnesi che sono serviti per creare il problema. I pessimi risultati ottenuti non fanno altro che infossare il paese in un debito che presto potrebbe permettere alle autorità estere di controllare le tasche dei cittadini italiani.

Sono molti I paesi che hanno creduto nel messaggio di Einstein, che riguarda la crisi, ritornando sulla retta via verso la ripresa economica ed all’equilibrio sociale.

“Non possiamo pretendere che le cose cambino, se continuiamo a fare le stesse cose. La crisi è la più grande benedizione per le persone e le nazioni, perché la crisi porta progressi. La creatività nasce dall’angoscia come il giorno nasce dalla notte oscura. E’ nella crisi che sorge l’inventiva, le scoperte e le grandi strategie. Chi supera la crisi supera sé stesso senza essere ‘superato’.

Chi attribuisce alla crisi i suoi fallimenti e difficoltà, violenta il suo stesso talento e dà più valore ai problemi che alle soluzioni. La vera crisi, è la crisi dell’incompetenza. L’inconveniente delle persone e delle nazioni è la pigrizia nel cercare soluzioni e vie di uscita. Senza crisi non ci sono sfide, senza sfide la vita è una routine, una lenta agonia. Senza crisi non c’è merito. E’ nella crisi che emerge il meglio di ognuno, perché senza crisi tutti i venti sono solo lievi brezze. Parlare di crisi significa incrementarla, e tacere nella crisi è esaltare il conformismo. Invece, lavoriamo duro. Finiamola una volta per tutte con l’unica crisi pericolosa, che è la tragedia di non voler lottare per superarla”.

 

Lasciamo fuori l’incapacità dei governanti ed il rifiuto della popolazione italiana di mandare a casa I Vecchi Scalda-poltrone…

Riguardo al messaggio di Albert Einstein, sarebbe giusto chiamare in causa alcune aziende italiane e capire come un messaggio mandato dal passato, alcune decine d’anni fa, potrebbe servire alla loro causa.

Da collaboratore ed osservatore di una Media Azienda (organizzazione di beni e capitale umano finalizzata alla soddisfazione di bisogni umani attraverso la produzione, la distribuzione o il consume di beni economici e servizi verso I client, strutturata secondo una certa “organizzazione aziendale”…), avrei qualcosa da farvi osservare:

In italia si assiste ad un rifiuto da parte dei soggetti che conducono l’azienda (imprenditori), di creare un team che segue il management. Quattro aziende su quattro con le quali ho avuto rapporti lavorativi, hanno dimostrato un grandissimo rifiuto riguardo l’evoluzione in generale e nel tenere il passo con le novità che fanno le aziende diventare vincitrici. Nella penisola si vive ancora con la mentalità del dopo Guerra (boom economico Italiano) e cioè con l’idea che basta aprire la realtà commerciale e tutto andrà avanti da se…

La verità e ben diversa. Per distinguersi, e dunque vincere la crisi economica, serve la ricerca. L’era dei SUV costosi e pranzi fuori non fanno piu impatto. L’italia si deve adeguare e investire nella ricerca. Le aziende hanno bisogno di costruire squadre di Management… Una continua ricerca dei prodotti ed un continuo investimento sarà la via  giusta verso la superficie del vortex e quindi l’uscita dalla crisi.

Italia, devi solo trovare un’alternativa alla tazzina del caffe senza cambiare sapore. Forza!