Friday, December 30, 2011

Photovoltaic on the Camper

The tempered glass on one of the panels on our photovoltaic plant got
shattered. So it had to be replaced but it still woks just fine. I
painted over the glass with two coats of liquid plastic which sort of
glued all the glass pieces togerther and put a protective layer over
it all. Then I installed it on the roof of our camper. It was a fun
project requiring some new skills and a lot of thinking to decide
where to put the wires, how to attach it to the roof and so on. It
will make us much more self sufficient on our next long trip.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This is from an auction at Christies some years ago.  Why did I put this and all the other pictures of Hemingway, you may ask.  It's because Lou Jennings was my grandfather and he is mentioned here and is in all the other pictures I posted.  The book with the inscription was sold by someone who managed to get it after his second wife died.

HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. Green Hills of Africa. New York: Scribners, 1953. 8vo, original cloth; dust jacket, panels defective. PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed by Hemingway on front free endpaper: "To Lou Jennings best always from his friend Ernest Hemingway." Additionally inscribed by Mary Hemingway on half-title: "and fun and fruitful enterprize, I hope Mary Hemingway," dated Sep. 8th 1955 on front free endpaper, below Hemingway's inscription -- [With:] 3 photographs, showing Hemingway posing with a large marlin. (4)

Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, December 15, 2011


My home made pizza. I cook the dough a bit first then put the stuff
on it and then back in the oven.


Giovanni thinks he has finally found his sport.  He placed first and second with the two teams he was on his first time out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

American Design

Do you live outside the US and wish there was someone who could help you with a project involving your living spaces that understood your desires, need for functional spaces, ideas about how kitchens and bathrooms should work, and just in general the way you would like to live.  If so why not contact me, I have over 30 years of experience designing homes for the rich, the middle class and the poor.  Even though I am in Italy most of the time I continue to do projects in the US and together with my wife who is an Italian architect we have done projects in the Czech Republic, Mexico and Switzerland as well as Italy.  Most of the work we have done in these various countries is done over the internet so we can easily work with you even though we may not be able to meet face to face.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is a Luxury

Well after 6 years living in Italy, I went out this morning and bought a clothes dryer.  Luisa is not that happy about it.  She thinks the cost of running it is too much and told me it is quite a luxury.   Of course we had one in California and she never questioned it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

They Call it Wild Camping

We don't usually that is almost never stay in campgrounds.  They are too isolated and cost too much when only staying one night.  We are independent. So there are places that are free or cost very little.  Some of them can be quite interesting.  In San Remo for example we parked with a sea view something rarely available in a camp ground.  Of course we had to ignore a lot of unkempt ground between us and the sea.   We arrived at the perfume factory in Grasse France in the evening when it was closed, so we just said to ourselves we are waiting for it to open, and spent the night in the bus parking area.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

US and UK TV over the internet for Expats

After messing around with various free VPN sites for 5 years or so I finally signed up for a pay site. I paid for the minimum one year account two cities the US and UK.  The cost was about $55.  It's been working great.  I have a netflix account, you need a US adddress to sign up for netflix,  and we watch movies by connecting the laptop to the tv.  It's nice and keeps the kids watching tv in English.  Last night we watched 4 episodes of Seinfeld on  My daughter in Switzerland is also using this same setup.  It's easy to use once setup.  Just two clicks and the internet thinks you are in NYC.  Sorry if I sound like a commercial, it's just that after trying free sites this has been great, no commercials and no interruptions.  And it’s fast.

If you want to sign up for it send me a pm with your email address and I will have them send you a message.  Yes if you sign up I will get a credit towards my next years subscription.  That's not enough to make me promote them.  I just think it's a good solution for anyone with a fast internet connection.  Works best if you have a lap top or computer with an HDMI connection to HDMI on your TV.  Or you can just watch on your computer or even your smart phone with wifi.

That Secret Diet Technique Discovered in Southern France

After nearly three weeks of traveling in our camper mostly in Southern France I returned about 4 pounds lighter than when I left.  You might say that's no miracle weight loss, but don't forget that most of us gain weight on vacation. 

We made our way down from Switzerland to Grenoble and into Provence stopping usually for just one night in many of those cute little French villages. And then down towards Nice and into Italy for a final stop at San Remo and then a tour of the aquarium in Genoa.  We did do a fare share of walking but also a lot of sitting while on the road.

In a small city called Quinson in France we visited the prehistoric museum located there because the area is rich in prehistoric history.  The museum is very impressive both in it's content and it's architecture.  It was designed by the British architect Foster.  It's somewhat built into the side of a hill so as not to impose itself on the beauty and context of the local architecture.  The oval shape leads one on a path through history starting some 400 million years ago.

One thing that is obvious when we look at reproductions of ancient people is that we never see them over weight.  Of course you imagine them doing a lot of running away from wild animals and having a poor diet.  But then if we think about more recent people those of say a couple hundred years ago they too tend to be of moderate weight.  We then tell ourselves that they too worked harder doing manual tasks like farming and didn't sit around watching tv or playing video games.  However we forget for example those long cold winters when there was not much to do but stay inside in order to survive.  Cramped into small homes I doubt anyone got a lot of exercise.

By chance and through a not so happy circumstance we were forced in a way to live like more ancient people on our trip.  Simply put the refrigerator in our camper quit working.  In order to "survive" we were forced to eat only that which did not need refrigeration.  So there were few meats eaten, only that which could be consumed the day purchased, no leftovers stored for later.  We bought just enough for a normal meal.  But mostly we ate fresh vegetable, salads, tomatoes, a bit of bread and so on.  It wasn't like we thought about it so much but that we just ate what we could under the circumstances.

One of the first things I did when I got home was weigh myself because in fact I have been trying to lose a few pounds lately.  I was hoping I hadn't gained too much.  To my surprise I had lost weight rather than gained it while on vacation.

Thinking about this I have realized that it was the lack of cold storage that made the difference.  Without giving it any real thought I had been forced to live like those ancient people.  Of course in our modern world we aren't going to throw away our refrigerator, but perhaps one might unplug it for a week or two and see what happens.  Or at least think about what we put in there.  So that's the secret weight loss program  I discovered in Southern France. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Trani is a cute port city with a complex history.  Read about in the guide books.  We arrived in the late afternoon in our camper looking for a parking area listed in Camper Stop 2010.  I have most of their listings entered as points of interest in a map using Microsoft's Autoroute 2010.  Then I have a gps unit plugged into a laptop computer so we get real time mapping and directions.  Of course the directions sometimes take us down some un-manageable roads.  So there is always a bit of fear when we start passing through an area that seems unfit for a large vehicle.  As in this case the map took us along the port through a narrow street filled with restaurants tourists and vacationers.  The street only seemed to get smaller as we moved along.  But finally it opened up into the parking area which you can see in the pictures.  We were able to park there nearly in the middle of the city free overnight.  In the evening we had a nice walk around the city and one of our few dinners out - seafood of course.