O.O.S. (Odd Online Searches)


As I find funnier and funnier terms that every day lead people to find my blog from search engines, I thought I’d share the oddest and most frequent ones, inspired by a recent blog post on Justice in Conflict. I’ve just made up the acronym O.O.S. to refer to people’s Odd Online Searches. These tend to show that we now use search engines like a source of answers to any kinds of questions going through our minds …a sort of modern Bible (although most of the times, we do not find answers that make any sense to us or that help us at all!). I doubt many of us realise that blog  owners are able to trace these search terms (although we don’t know who entered these search terms!) – surely, it was a surprise to me when I first noticed trends in online searches leading people to my blog!

The most frequently searched terms

1. i don’t care what the people may say – this search term features in many forms! It makes me wonder whether people are actually looking for the lyrics of Eliza Doolittle’s song (as in my post featuring those terms) or whether they actually search advice or  thoughts on caring about what people say?! Matter of fact is, that due to the popularity of this online search, this blog post has oddly become the most visited of my entire website!

2. chagall  –  which would have led visitors to view this post on Chagall.

3. bin laden – linking to the post on Bin Laden’s death.

Now…read these odd terms / combination of terms entered by people:

– was pack up your troubles in your old kit bag in the film my fair lady? (this makes me seriously laugh: the search terms show that clearly Eliza Doolittle’s name as an artist, inspired by the character played by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady has confused a great number of people!!! In fact, many people have searched for the song lyrics in combination with the name ‘Audrey Hepburn’!)

– proper english lady (not sure if this visitor was happy with what they found on my blog!)

– coffee shop queue graph ( I surely have no queue graphs relating to coffee shops on my blog! Looks like this visitor was engaged in deep sociological research…)

– torino brothel (… now, just because my hometown is Torino and I spoke about Italy’s demonstrations against Berlusconi’s brothels…it does not mean I am an authority on brothels in Torino. Someone looking for “something to do” while in Torino must have been disappointed in finding my blog!)

– bangunan segitiga (I have NO IDEA what that means, hopefully nothing inappropriate or offensive…and how that relates to my blog…can anyone help??)

– red protective gloves (now this search has to be one of my favourites! Doubt the visitor was expecting to find my Kandinsky-inspired glass painting!)

– metaphysical reaction death of bin laden (someone was into deep thinking …)

– kandinsky tattoo (wow! Someone looked at my glass paintings inspired by Kandinsky to find inspiration for a tattoo!)

– more clouds covering the earth study (is this a new meteorological phenomenon I was not aware of? Surely my post about beautiful clouds from the airplane does not help to prove such theory!)

– i was too busy killing osama bin laden (surely you were not THAT busy if you had time to look it up online! This must be the most curious / odd search of all: wonder if I should report this one?! …It might contribute to trace those responsible for Bin Laden’s death! Or maybe I should keep it top secret…)

Identikit of an Italian Tourist


[Thoughts of an Italian Londoner on Italian tourists.]

I came back to London a few days ago, after a short break in Italy.

On the Ryanair flight, which, as usual, welcomed passengers on board with Vivaldi’s Spring (a melody that Ryanair has almost succeeded in making me hate!), I found myself once again sitting amongst a group of Italian ‘teenagers’ certainly beyond their 30s, acting like kids on their first holiday adventure with friends.

I always find it’s great fun to stealthily listen to conversations, except when the volume is so high that I am able to distinctly understand each word from the opposite end of the plane. Usually the conversations of Italian tourists on their way to London relate to ongoing themes:

  • Where to go…obligatory stop offs (according to the Italian tourist) are Piccadilly, Westminster, Tower of London. Other locations which are at least as much, if not more interesting, seem to go unnoticed.
  • How will it be possible to communicate with a school-level English? “Oh it won’t be a problem, it’s full of Italians over there”, “At school I had 8/10 in English!”, “I can even say swearwords, what else do we need?”
  • The weather…”do you think it will be raining?”, “the weather forecast is not that bad”, “have you got an umbrella?”
  • I might decide to move to London! Any advice? Ideas?

I find the latter topic particularly fun, because that is where urban myths and legends are big hits. Colourful stories are filled with improbably anecdotes told by those ‘who have the experience’ and are teaching others, who experience something in between fascination and perplexity. For example, on the Terravision bus from Stansted, a guy was telling his amazing story of London-life to another guy he’d just met (who appeared enthusiastic, up to the point when a house shared with other 6 foreigners, several mice and located in an ill-famed neighbourhood made their appearance in the story).

When the Terravision bus (company itself managed by Italians!) reached Liverpool Street, I was almost sorry to get off and abandon this microcosm of Italians abroad. But I didn’t need to wait long to find it again: it was sufficient to pop into Waitrose for my pre-New Year’s Eve shopping to discover that the stationary group in the cheese section, could only be a group of Italians abroad!

[My article was first published in Italian at http://parolesemplici.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/identikit-di-un-turista-italiano/  and I subsequently translated it into English. Unfortunately, many Italian expressions could not be translated into English with the same efficacy, but hopefully the translation conveys overall the same effect as the original one.]

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Identikit di un turista italiano

[Pensieri di un’italiana londinese su turisti italiani / Thoughts of an Italian Londoner on Italian tourists.]

Sono tornata a Londra da pochi giorni, dopo una breve pausa in Italia.

Sul volo Ryanair, che come al solito incomincia con La Primavera di Vivaldi (melodia che Ryanair è riuscita a farmi quasi odiare!), mi sono ancora una volta trovata seduta tra gruppi di ‘ragazzoni’ italiani di età certamente superiore ai 30, con l’aria di chi è alla sua prima avventura vacanziera con gli amici.

Mi diverto sempre moltissimo ad ascoltare di soppiatto le conversazioni, eccetto quando il volume è tale che riesco a sentire cosa viene detto dalla parte opposta dell’aereo. Solitamente le conversazioni dei turisti italiani che vanno a Londra riguardano alcuni temi fissi:

  • Dove andare…tappe obbligate (secondo il turista italiano) sono Piccadilly, Westminster, Tower of London. Altre mete altrettanto, se non più interessanti, passano inosservate.
  • Come si riuscirà a comunicare con un inglese scolastico? ‘Ma si ma lì è pieno di italiani’, ‘avevo 8 di inglese alle superiori!’, ‘so anche dire le parolacce, siamo a posto!’
  • Il clima… ‘ma secondo te pioverà?’ ‘ma le previsioni non sono così brutte’ ‘ma l’ombrello ce l’hai?’
  • Quasi quasi mi trasferisco a Londra! Hai consigli ? Idee?

Quest’ultimo tema fisso mi diverte particolarmente, perchè qui nascono le leggende metropolitane e storie mai sentite sembrano colorire racconti da chi ‘ha l’esperienza’ e che istruisce altri, che rimangono affascinati e perplessi. Ad esempio, sull’autobus Terravision da Stansted, un ragazzo raccontava la sua storia fantastica di vita londinese ad un coetaneo appena conosciuto (che sembrava entusiasta, finchè nel racconto non è comparsa una casa condivisa con altri 6 ragazzi stranieri, con topi, e in un quartiere malfamato!).

Quando l’autobus Terravision (gestito pure da italiani!), è arrivato a Liverpool Street, quasi mi dispiaceva scendere e abbandonare questo microcosmo di “italiani in trasferta.” Ma non ho dovuto aspettare a lungo prima di ritrovarlo: mi è bastato andare a fare la spesa di Capodanno da Waitrose per scoprire che il gruppo fermo a discutere nella corsia dei formaggi, non poteva che essere un gruppo di “italiani in trasferta”!


Bubbleology: the theory of tea-volution


(picture from Bubbleology’s website)

When my friend first suggested to meet to drink bubbletea in Soho, I imagined a drink tasting of marsh mellows or chewing gums.  I admit: I wasn’t feeling too excited about it. As we walked to the shop, we saw a long queue of people waiting outside or meeting in front of the shop. Interesting. The shop didn’t look like a coffee shop or a tea shop at all: rather, like a chemist’s lab. And there we were: right in the middle of Bubbleology! A new theory of Tea-volution!

(picture taken by me in the London Soho shop)

The queue was long, we had to make our order. But what were we supposed to order?? It took me a while to understand how it works, as I read through the ‘lab instructions’ on the wall above the counter. So, first you choose if you want a milky or a fruity tea, then you decide the size, and if you want to add something or mix more than one flavour. Confusing. I went for Coconut Regular Bubbletea. Would it be hot or cold? No idea! Turns out you can have it both ways but if you don’t ask they will make you a cold one. I got my ‘Regular’ that looked much bigger than normal, was given a huge straw and on the bottom of my drink I could see…BUBBLES!

As I drank it, I couldn’t figure out what I thought about it. First reaction: weird! Second reaction: it takes like milkshake but much lighter! Final reaction: WOW!

OK, apparently I’m slow at finding out new trends because apparently a lot of people have tried Bubbletea before in Soho in the Chinese shops or Taiwanese shops. Yet I was still puzzled by the bubbles which I could eat through my straw and were really chewy and some of them would burst releasing fruitjuice! Amazing! I felt like a kid! I was not able to finish my drink as it was way too big and probably too cold. While we were wondering what the bubbles were made of, a young-looking man sitting next to us working on his PC spoke to us and explained that the bubbles were made from potato starch! We were surprised about his knowledge on the subject, and he turned out to be the owner and founder of the shop – Assad Khan – a UK businessman, who was fed up of working for a bank in New York and came up with this great business idea. He’s opened two shops in London so far, one in Soho and the other in Knightsbridge and he’s about to open at least 3 by the end of 2011 (so he told us).

If you want to read more about Bubbleology:

http://www.bubbleology.co.uk/about.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/24/bubble-tea-comes-to-britain

Want to listen to some new music while sipping your bubbletea? Try listening to Luca DG, a friend of mine with whom I tried Bubbletea! He’s an emerging Italian singer living in London – amazing voice! 😉

http://www.myspace.com/lucadg

Feel the London Vibe


You know your plane is landing in London when outside the tiny window you see pouring rain and a marvellously green landscape. Just about the time to wait for your suitcase, change into something warmer that you notice a few shy rays of sunshine peeping through the clouds.

 

You take a seat on the tube and no one appears to notice the girl with green hair who’s forgotten to wear a skirt. Nor is anyone bothered by the man taking up two seats due to his extra-huge size.  The newspaper read by the lady next to me reports in details the remarkably wrongful behaviour of two policemen who parked on a double yellow line to shop in Tesco’s. In Italy, this news wouldn’t even feature in a minor last-page column.

 

As you step outside, the wind makes any efforts to comb your hair entirely useless but gives you wings to walk. You soon smell food from the local Thai restaurant which blends in with the smell of McDonalds’. If you don’t like it, don’t worry because just round the corner you’re in Italy or, if you prefer, in France. But make sure not to hesitate while walking or you’ll literally get run over by crowds of people.

 

As you make your way through the crowds, you get a first glimpse of the vast green areas. Just a few steps, and you’ve stepped into the countryside – now you can just relax lying down on the greenest, cleanest and softest grass.

A Bug’s Life: Lessons Learnt


My grandma used to always find orginal ways to analyse the world surrounding her. Her so unsual and detailed observations each time opened my eyes before a new world. It was a new world, not because it had not been there previously, but because I had never seen it, noticed it.

In summer time, in the mountains, we would spend hours looking at ants. My grandma used to call them “miniature motorways”, because ants had chosen the flat waterpipe to water the garden as their privileged path. The ants would share the surface of the waterpipe dividing it into lanes and even in the two directions. None would ever use the wrong lane. There were ants, the fastest, who would run to collect their food supplies, and, in the opposite direction, there were ants that were going more slowly due to the weight of their load. Some ants would not make it and they were climbed over and crushed by the crowd of stronger and tireless ants.

My grandma and I would notice how ants would replicate social dynamics in a way very similar to ours, that of human beings. Those who couldn’t make it, would literally be climbed over. Those who were strong and fast, would reach first the anthill’s tunnels, where they could proudly lay down the fruits of their labour. The ants’ motorways are a suprisingly organised march. Surprising, perhaps, because we, humans, are always astonished when we discover other creatures seek order within chaos.  The social order turns into a means to overpower the others.

My grandma used to always notice the red ant, the smallest rather than the one walking with a limp. She would observe and comment on them without a hint of prejudice, rather, with admiration and suprise for them. These were my grandma’s ways of teaching me how to relate myself with the world by taking an open-minded approach and by showing always an amazing curiosity for the surrounding world.

Other times, she would tell me how she, petite in height and body structure, had decided to change her point of view.  She told me how she had climbed on a chair and had looked around imagining to be naturally that tall. She had then recounted to me how effectively the different perspective over the world was very different from up there and, how, after that experience, she could finally realise better what she, from a lower point of view, could  not see.All photos in this post were taken with my brother Enrico during my holiday in August 2010 in Denmark, in the woods near Silkeborg.

Nets of Peace


We hear in the daily news about the Israeli-Palestian conflict. We unfortunately tend to hear only bad news from that region: terrorist attacks, Israeli raids, settlements in occupied land, qassam rockets and much much more. Everything we hear seems to be sending one message to the world: that region is stuck in a never-ending conflict.

Rethorical comments are abundant, therefore I just aim to report a fact which appears to be practically unknown. There are very few webpages on this (one should probably wonder why), as you can test yourself through a simple Google search.

Ever heard of ‘Nets of Peace‘? If anyone has heard of it before, I’d be happy to know! I first read about this very interesting project on Pagine Ebraiche, in an article by M. Calimani. The idea is simple: to set up a large-scale fish industry in Gaza to promote peace. This project stems from the desire to solve serious issues affecting the Gaza strip and, ultimately, Israel. The team leading the project realised that there were two sets of facts which could be put in relation.

On the one hand, the serious unemployment and the malnutrition affecting Gaza. Unofficial reports estimate the unemployment in Gaza affects more than 40% of the population in Gaza, causing many people to apply for jobs with Hamas simply because they wish to support their families. The population in Gaza also suffers from serious malnutrition, in particular children. It is estimated that 60% of children in Gaza suffer from malnutrition.

On the other hand, there is a growing need for fish on a global scale and the Gaza area is a 40 km strip on the Mediterranean costline. Therefore, Gaza has a strong and long-standing marine culture. Due to high smuggling threats over the past few years, the fish industry in Gaza has reduced and consequently average price of fishfood has soared, thereby reducing the possibility for Gaza families to afford this important source of proteins.

The team of Nets of Peace, composed by 5 students (David Welch, Ohad Kot, Danielle Angel, David McGeady and Osher Perry) from Tel Aviv University, came up with the idea of creating a project to set up a fish industry in the Gaza strip. This project also meet environment-friendly criteria as it promotes environmental responsibility through the conservation and rehabilitation of the coastline on the basis of a ‘zero footprint policy’. Nets of Peace is based on the acronym BENEFIT,  which stands for the guiding lines of the project:The team has so far:

For more information on the project, visit the website of Nets of Peace: http://www.netsofpeace.org/

Meet the team in this video!

Top 10 Best and Worst Sounding English Words


10 Best-Sounding Words in the English Language

1. Chimes

A set of bells or of slabs of metal, stone, wood, etc., producing musical tones when struck.

2. Dawn

To begin to grow light as the sun rises.

3. Golden

Consisting of, relating to, or containing gold.

4. Hush

Calm, quiet.

5. Lullaby

A song to quiet children or lull them to sleep.

6. Luminous

Emitting light; shining.

7. Melody

A sweet or agreeable succession of arrangements of sounds.

8. Mist

Water in the form of particles floating or falling in the atmosphere at or near the surface of the earth and approaching the form of rain.

9. Murmuring

A soft or gentle utterance.

10. Tranquil

Free from agitation; serene.

10 Worst-Sounding Words in the English Language

1.  Cacophony

Hard or discordant sound.

2. Crunch

To chew, grind, or press with a crushing noise.

3. Flatulent

Affected with gas in the stomach or intestine.

4. Gripe

To complain with sustained grumbling.

5. Jazz

Popular dance music.

6. Phlegmatic

Having a sluggish or solid temperament.

7. Plump

Somewhat fat.

8. Plutocrat

One who exercises power by virtue of his wealth.

9. Sap

The fluid part of the plant.

10. Treachery

Violation of allegiance, confidence or faith.

Lists and definitions from ‘The Book of Lists’ by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace, Corgi, 1980, p. 157.  Images from the Internet.


What are your favourite / most hated words in English or any other language?