Thursday, May 24, 2007

A few more photos from Italy.

I want to start with Don Peppino. He's the one that makes the wonder-wine. He buys the grapes personally selecting them very carefully. Chooses a good day (temperature and humidity) to squeeze it and makes the wine. "No medicines added", he said. The red (aglianico... super good) can last a few years, the white needs to be drunk in that season.
Here he's proudly showing a bottle outside of his shop where he sells all kind of fresh vegetables and fruits. Everything tastes great and real.

Windsurfing in Bagnoli (Naples).

Launching spot. Notice how much garbage...

But that's nothing compared to this...

Yet another niece.

She's so cute! Zio Giampi bought her a 96 cents toy (a few of them, actually).

Notice the warning label. It says:"DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THROW BALL AT ANYONE'S HEAD OR FACE"...
Who said that americans don't have a great sense of humor? Warning labels crack me up...
My favorites are the Jacuzzi ones, when they suggest you not to put your body orifices too close to the jets...
Anyway, what would you expect in a country in which a lady was able to sue McDonald (and win!) because she burned herself with a coffee that was given to her without the proper warning that it was hot...
...and how would you expect your coffee to be? Cold?!?! That would be a good reason to sue!

The internet access point where I'm sitting right now... Drinking a beer on the street is not illegal in Italy. I can actually drink it even when you're driving, as long as you're under the legal threshold of alchool in blood... and that makes sense to me.

I'm in Italy, I had to take a photo of a Vespa...

No wait, the Vespa is correctly waiting behind the car, without passing it... this can't be Italy.
And the car has actually stopped at the red light... this can't be Naples... and there's not even garbage on the street!
Oh, but it's Paia! Ahhh... I can't wait to be back...

Ok, last, but not least... Sorry you guys, I have to post this... I just can't help myself...
Buying a bikini for a girl is never a good idea. Specially, if you find out afterwards that she has different sizes for top and bottom. And specially if she's not there to try it.
I ended up taking a photo of myself wearing the bottom and sending it to her so that she can have an idea if it will fit or not...

PS. Check out the video I linked at the top right.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Keychain wireless network detector

Uh, I got too many photos... I better start posting some...

Let's start from this pre-surf sesh in Manhattan Beach (LA) shot. Looks like I could have used a few more hours of sleep...
Yeah, you get used to everything, but... gees, I love Hawaii's warm waters!

This is the first photo of Napoli. Dad told me that lately a book inspired lovers to put a lock with their name somewhere in town as a sign of commitment to eternal love.
I think it's soooo romantic... I couldn't resist and put one with Sharon's name on it...

By the way Sharon, don't forget to stop and add a name of a guy on it, next time you go to Naples!
What a brilliant symbolism, uh? I know too many people stuck in their relationships like if they were locked in them. And these guys even put a real lock... like what?!? Hoping that one day they will get stuck in it?!???
I'm sorry, my brain is too limited for that... I just can't get it...

Watching this water mellon in a window at the Gran Caffe' La Caffettiera (the one with a perfectly working wireless router, but without a modem cable attached, hence useless) I wondered:
1) how do you cut it like that?
2) how do you eat it now?

These billboards are dangerous... at least if I am the one driving!
I just can't make up my mind and choose my favorite between the one in the middle and the one on the right.
Actually, I wouldn't mind both... I'll go put two locks... you never know!

Let's see what you guys (and girls) think about it:

By the way, as a confirmation of what I wrote, I just heard on the news that in average every day in Italy 15 people die in car accidents...
The reasons to blame are:
- lack of respect of road rules
- poor status of the roads
- drugs and alcohol
Too bad they didn't say the related percentage. My guess is that 80% is caused by the first reason.

That's why I laugh at people who are scared by sharks. Let me throw you these statistics of year 2003 (the only one I know) again:
- number of people killed by sharks worldwide: 4
- number of ppl killed in car accidents worldwide: 1.3 millions

And, in case that wasn't enough, I just learned how many sharks are killed by humans every year: 73 millions. Most of which, just for the fins that seem to be particularly appreciated (specially in east Asia).
Excuse me if I express my thought once again: the human species sucks!

5am. The quality of this photo is rather poor, but I like the light anyway.

Saturday I went on a windsurfing trip with my old windsurfing buddies. We drove more than 200 km to the Adriatic sea to a spot called Termoli, because moderate NW wind was forecasted in that area. As usual, we didn't find it (the wind), but at least I could catch a few beach break waves and I even had some fun!
I forgot how frustrating windsurfing can be in Italy...
BTW, I always tell my surfing students not to look down on the board at any moment. Check where I'm looking on this late backside takeoff... pathetic!

Sunday morning 6am sun. I love this shot. Check the colors and that bird.

A little less zoom and it's not that impressive anymore... still nice, though.

Piscator' 'ru mar' 'e pusillec' (Posillipo fisherman).

Satellite TV is big in Italy. This photo makes me think about the amount of electro-magnetic fields we live in. Scary...

This is the smallest pile of garbage I've seen so far in this trip. I saw some as big as a train...
For some reason, garbage collection in Naples always seems to be a huge problem. Maybe because we produce too much... maybe we should learn how to reuse stuff...
The fact that they left it there and not in the garbage collection bin that was 30 yards/meter away didn't help either, I guess...
And this photo was taken in one of the richest hence supposingly most educated neighborhood of the town...

Wild haired niece.

Procida: interesting mooring technique.


Oh, btw, the title is this product that I would have needed this morning, instead of walking around with the computer open like one of those guys searching for water with a Y stick...
Many thanks to the unaware wireless network provider. For years I've been providing free wireless access with my router in Paia and Kuau, before being forced to enforce security by a unacceptable decrease of performance. So, I don't feel like I'm stealing... I'm just getting my karma bandwidth back...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Warning: this post contains strong personal opinions. :-)

Jesus, life is tough without a proper internet connection...

Oh well, at least it's tough to post photos! That's why today you get mostly words...
Where were we? Oh yeah, LA and the concert...
The concert was pretty damn good. I don't particularly like the turn towards the hard/metalprog sound that the Porcupine Tree have taken in their last two/three cds, but every time I end up kind of liking them too, so it must not be so bad... Plus they unexpectedly did a few of my favorite old songs (like Smart kid and Even less) and Blackest eyes remains one of the best songs to listen live that I can think of...
Here you find a youtube version of this last one. Hopefully you can see it, because I can't...
Definitely a mention for the support band. Their name is Three and they did the tightest live performance of a support band that I have ever witnessed. Alone, worth the price of the ticket... believe it or not.

The day after (Sunday) there were some fun waves to surf at Manhattan beach. I borrowed a 8.4 Aipa with which I could pretty much catch everything I wanted (3-3/4 thick!) and I even managed to turn it sweetly, thanks to the fact the the tail half of the board is way narrower than the front one. Water is bloody cold for a spoiled surfer like me, but surfing with Gianfranco is always fun, because he always has good tips.
Actually the best part is the after surf analytical session...
OK, I got to spend a few words on him. He's one of those person that does not really belong to any category. He's a unique element. Yeah, whatever, we are all unique, but some people are more unique than others! That's just one of the ways he can look... I got plenty more photos out of a trip to Death Valley and Las Vegas he and his visiting brother did, but got to wait until I found a better connection to post them... come back!

His mind just works differently and I really love to discuss with him. He can bring up some subjects that are surprisingly unexpected and most of time at first don't seem to make to much sense... but, IF you are able to follow his winding path, you may be blessed with some revelations of some kind. Often, in my case, that doesn't happen right away. I remember many times I had forgotten about a thing he said, and then, after a while, like even a few months, something happens or somebody says something that makes me think about it, and all of a sudden I go:"oh, that's what he meant!".
Sunday afternoon, for example, I don't know out of what, he asked me:"why do you think ancient Polynesians carried flowers in their expeditions to discover new lands?"
To give them as a gift to eventual indigenouses sounded like a weak answer, so I said: "Gianfra', what the hell do I know and what the hell do YOU know?"
"It's because when they were approaching a new coastline/reef they could throw the petals in the water and see how the current worked..."
"Oh, come on... gimme a break"
"That's the same reason because they gave visitors leis (flower chains) as a welcome gift. So that they could drop them in the water before leaving to see which way the current was going to let them sail away..."
"Gianfra', did you read this or did you come to this conclusion by yourself?" (that's actually a very common question I ask him)
"I didn't read it, but I think it's convincing... and next time I go on a surf trip to a new spot, I'll make sure to have flowers or leaves with me, so that I can see how the current works..."
"You got to be kidding me..."

Sure enough, one day I'll be watching a surf spot and an offshore gust will blow some leaves in the water and I will see that he was right...

Anyway, this is just a simple example of what kind of analysis his brain is capable of. But he gives his very best when he tries to explain me surfing techniques and moves. I just wished I had a camera, you guys. Well, I actually did, but I couldn't take it out and film him without losing the spontaneity.
Unfortunately, on this particular subject, I lose him all the times. 'Cause he's not particularly good at that. I mean, sometimes he forgets to tell me if he's riding front or back side, where is the wave and little details like that... But still, it's just great to listen to what he has to say. He can talk about surfing for hours. He... I mean, we!
That's why I always stop in LA on my way to Italy. I really enjoy the time I spend with him.

Ok, 'nough of that. Monday morning at 7am I was on a plane for Newark. Seven hours later, on one for Rome. Not much to say about the flight... not particularly fun, as usual.
Oh yes, one thing. Both planes had that personal video system in which you can choose the movie you want to see. I don't remember how many movies there were available, but for sure more than ten and all hollywood productions. Guess how many movies I watched? Trust me, I tried each one of them... I just couldn't!
That's just an example of why I think that most of the western world citizens are dumb. 'Cause if they make movies like that, it means that most of the western world citizens watch them!!
Before a very smart guy (not the majority, but plenty of those too in the western world) came up with Netflix, the section of Blockbuster me and Sharon picked movies from was exclusively the foreign one. Not all of them were good, but, at least, they were always different! Now there's Netflix and we just love to pick the weirdest, least popular movies. I love Netflix. Too bad they didn't have quite the same selection on the plane...

Mmm... I wonder how many american readers I lost because of the above comment... Alright, let's lose a few italian ones too!

The arrival at the Rome airport is definitely one of the my shittiest moments of the year. I wait for my bag at the baggage claim and there's people smoking under the no smoking sign. I go to the restrooms and they are dirty. I come out of them and watch some Alitalia employees sitting still in their chairs, without even talking to each others, contemplating the fact that they are lucky to work in a booth that is actually a bit out of the way and "hopefully" no clients will require their service. I keep walking and I watch a huge number of people in uniform belonging to the three different police branches (why three, I'll never understand... anyway they're called polizia, carabinieri and guardia di finanza) doing exactly the same thing: nothing.
They have no respect and love for their job. The most common mentality in Italy is to take advantage of the company you work for. And the very best example is given by the politicians (who supposingly work the the citizens that elected them).
I enter a bar to order a coffee and the cashier doesn't say hi, doesn't smile, doesn't talk to me at all. She just gets the money, gives me the change and continues her cell phone conversation. When I leave the bar, five minutes later, she's still on the phone.
Then I catch a local train to the main train station (Termini). The train is dirty and there's no seats available.
At the Termini station, I deliberately choose to buy my ticket to Naples at the automatic machine. While I'm doing it, I notice a guy trying to pickpocket a tourist (fortunately without succeeding) and another one trying to get little cash in exchange of help on how to buy a ticket on the machine... well, at least the last one is trying to earn it!
The train to Naples is late.
When I get out of the station in Naples the traffic is horrible. It sounds like all 80% of the cars are honking their horns... it's complete chaos. I'm tired and jet legged and I fucking hate all that shit.
Fortunately the vision of my parents (and the fact that they don't look that much older than last year) makes me feel better.

I could go on forever on what I don't like about Italy, but that'll take too long. I'm going to mention instead what I like about it: food!
Here's the simple (for the italian standards) first lunch I had at my parents home.
- pasta with artichokes
- mozzarella, prosciutto (ham) and bread
- white wine.
Everything tasted like heaven and 100 times better than in Maui. I don't even know what vegetarian means when I'm in Italy...
The biggest difference, though, is in the wine.
Here's one of my theories. I noticed that all wines in the States contain sulfites. Somebody told me there's a law that prohibits to bottle wine without them. My guess is that's because in that way the wine doesn't go bad and kill people (at the end, it all comes down to liability...). So, in my not so humble opinion, ALL wines in the States suck. Even the Italian ones. Even the most expensive ones. Even the 100+ dollars bottles (which I wouldn't buy anyway... so that's actually good news)!

Now, this 2 euros bottle of Falanghina (good luck at pronouncing it) is made by a farmer a few miles outside Naples, has no label and can only be found at one particular wine shop (mine). It's the best wine I have ever had. I can drink a whole bottle, get happily high and wake up the day after without an hangover or nothing like that. Sorry, can't be found at Costco.

Holy cow, it's almost 11pm! Hopefully by midnight I'll be done posting this with my painfully slow dialup connection ...

Friday, May 11, 2007

on the way back home...

I'm in LA with a few spare hours before heading for the Porcupine Tree concert (clearly I timed the trip to be here when they played) and a wireless connection...
The surf is small and blown out (I missed the glassy early hours), so... why not post some of the photos I took in the last few days?

Let's start with Dioni Guadagnino's new move. One day I entered the Hot Sails Maui loft and I caught him explaining it to Jeff. I tried to follow, but at the end I could only comment:"whatever you guys smoked, I'd like to have some too..."
If you're into freestyle, I'm sure it's going to be easy to figure out what he's trying to do off the lip of that wave. But the most radical freestyle move I can do (occasionally) is a tack, so I'll leave it to you guys...

This is Matt Pritchard in a sick table top.

Pascal Bronnimann loves aerials.

Plenty more photos of that day (May 6th).

This is Graham Ezzy in the late phase of a push loop.

All the other photos of this day (May 9th) instead are of Graham (he was all over the place), except a couple of Keith Teboul. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

cheap stuff

Maui is a quite expensive place.

Only one thing can be found for cheap: windsurf equipment. The garage sales are a great place were to buy used gear. My favorite neighborhoods for that are Sprecks and Kuau. Lots of windsurfers (mostly wealthy) that always want to be on latest gear. And they sell they old stuff for dirt cheap.

This is the sweet Sean Ordonez custom 7.10 that I bought this morning for $200 (without fin and footstraps).

Jeez, I better take a photo in the daylight tomorrow... with that cross it looks like a coffin!
The owner said he thinks it's about 75l... and that's exactly what I need. It does look a little bigger (a bit fatter and a bit wider) than the 68l Quatro... we'll see.
The deal included a couple of old carbon booms for $50 and a couple of old Superfreaks for $60.
The negotiation was hysterical. At one point there was even a little audience... that laughed at every offer. I ended up getting a last $10 discount, as a disposal fee to take with me an old shitty board he wanted to get rid of...

This, instead, is the equipment that allowed me to have a killer slalom sailing sesh this afternoon at Hookipa. Perfect wind, fully powered on a 6.5.

Here's how much I paid for every single piece:
- board: free. My friend Alex works at a surf shop. Once in a while I go and see him at the shop for a chat... he's a super nice guy. A solid person, as Jesper defines him. One day he gave me this board... somebody had left it to him. Custom shaped by Peter Thommen for Bjorn Dunkerbeck... prolly something like 10 years ago. I'm sure there's better boards out there today, but trust me... that board is a bullet!
- mast (460 not skinny) and sail were part of a deal that included also a 6.0 and a 5.5 (that I never use) for $60.
- used slalom fin: 20 bucks
- footstraps (I had them already)
- mast extension: free... a friend left it to me
- mast foot: actually that's the only piece I bought new... around 40 bucks. The most expensive (!) piece of equipment in this setup. You can't be cheap on the mast foot. I mean... you can, but it's not wise.
- carbon boom (170- 220): 5 dollars!

The wind was around ESE and it was only on the outside. I wanted to sail upwind to Jaws (no ground swells at all... I just wanted to catch a little windswell bump and claim that I sailed Jaws...) but once I got to Maliko I was definitely overpowered and headed back.
After one hour of blasting around I went back in and hung out on the beach for a while. Then I went back out again. It was just too good. Nobody out other than flying fish and turtles. Sunny as it can be.
I couldn't stop thinking:"how come I'm the only one out here?". Not that I was missing anybody...
Maui sailors are super spoiled. Most of them only do wave sailing (a few of them only do slalom sailing, though) and they don't even have a slalom board or a sail bigger than 5.8.
They don't know what they're missing.

What else we got?
Oh, when I got back home, I found this peculiar crown on my bicycle.

Sharon is in England, otherwise I would have had no doubt about who left it there. Instead, it's a little mystery...
Stay tuned for some King of the boobs photos.

Last, BUT NOT LEAST, my latest GoPro video. If you can't see it here, try here.

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos

PS. Thanks a lot to the people that sent donations. After the very first ones I had a weird feeling about this donation thing. It seemed somehow unfair... but after a while... I got over it! So, thanks and keep them coming! :-)
The first video that I will do with that SO board will be dedicated to the people that sent me money. It's like they own a piece of it... and it will be my pleasure to share the things that I will do with it.
And let's not forget the poor people! Today I gave 20 bucks to an old hawaiian guy that was looking for beer bottles in the trash can (to get the 5 cents refund at the recycling place). He gave me a smile and a hand shake that were worth way more than that...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hookipa 4 30 07

I had a killer session with a nice slightly onshore unusually steady trade wind. When I got there, it was pretty light and I rigged the 5.5 with the camera mounted on the top.
By the time I was done, the wind had picked up, but I didn't want to redo the whole thing.
So I was ready to go out slightly overpowered (never a problem on a Superfreak), but I was wondering if to use my small 68l Quatro.
5.5 on a 68l? That didn't sound right...
I even asked asked the two guys that were rigging with me an opinion about that weird combination. Here are their answers:
Jason Diffin (Simmer Sails designer):"uff, that's pushing it to the limit..."
Pio Marasco (Maui Fin Company owner):"Nientemen'... vai, vai, ma ch' t' n' fott'..."

Oh, forgot... Pio is from Napoli too and that in our dialect means something like:"sure, why not?". Something like that...

If I never try, I'll never know... so I tried. It kind of worked. Not the best, of course. But I managed to have some fun. A lot of fun, actually. And that's, again, because for once the wind wasn't 3 knots on the inside and 30 on the outside...

Here's a little clip.
If you can't see it here, try here.

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos

After my sesh, I sat on the hill and shoot a few pics.
Sailor of the day, Francisco Porcella. Because of goiters like this,

and hits like this,

but, ESPECIALLY because after he did all kind of stuff like that sailing, he grabbed his surfboard and went surfing!
Ah, being 20 again...

Glenn was on fire too. Here's backloop number... ok, I gave up counting them.

One more (sorry, the bloody watermark sw put the address in the middle and I'm too tired to fix it).

Here's a table top.

Tommorrow there's a new NNW swell coming, but the wind is already back to its awful usual gustiness. There's also a south swell, though...
Windsurfing on the north shore or surfing on the south shore...