Archive for 2005-10

The Buddha Machine

02005-10-31 @ 18:10

FM3 – The Buddha Machine – almost cool music reviews
While some may simply see the box and wonder why the group didn’t just release their music in a traditional format (where it would be made into digital files and put on iPods anyway), that isn’t really the point. Instead, it’s the ultimate, self-contained ambient music box, suitable for setting a mood wherever you are, whether you have headphones or not.

This music was released not on CD, not as a download, but in its own little box with a speaker…


02005-10-31 @ 15:10

I have been playing a lot of guitar since coming home – as you can imagine. The finger muscles are still there, but the callus has worn off. I have a few more days until a fundraiser for Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City on Friday evening, where I will be performing solo in the Zendo. And next week I have to prepare for the Holiday tour and re-learn some of the music I wrote and study Jon’s new arrangements. A very busy couple of weeks.

I opened the packages that Federal Express returned to Santa Fe after not delivering them to me in Italy. When I opened the guitar case I noticed one of the keys that unlocks the case lying on top of the guitar. Somebody had obviously opened the case and looked around. Luckily the case has a proper tight fit and held the key in one place and the top was neither scratched nor damaged. But how stupid can a person be – too lazy to lift the guitar out and place the key back in the compartment under the neck! I checked out my trusty Tumi duffel and a whole bunch of screws had been taken out, probably during a search of the case. Some parts were loose and one part was gone altogether. I will have to send the case to Tumi for repair or replace it.

So much for my bright idea of shipping luggage and a guitar to Italy in order not to have to carry so much through airports…

I decided to take my guitar in its Calton case to the airport on Friday for my flight to Salt Lake City. The is nothing to fear but fear itself and I can’t freak out over transporting my guitar. Wish us luck…

24 hour clocks

02005-10-31 @ 13:10

24 hour analog clocks: software

The biggest Lie

02005-10-31 @ 10:10

I am reading a book called “Zen ist die größte Lüge aller Zeiten”, a translation of sayings by Kodo Sawaki into German by Muho, the German abbot of Antaiji. Unfortunately I cannot find an English version, but HERE and HERE are a couple of web-pages you can read with sayings by this radical 20th century Zen master.

And while we are on the subject of Zen, here are a couple of thought-provoking posts by Brad Warner – a powerful one-two punch, if you like: One and Two.

And check out Stewart’s Big Mind dialog with Great Doubt.

Single Atom

02005-10-31 @ 06:10

In Defense of The Universe in a Single Atom

Day of the Dead 2005

02005-10-31 @ 06:10

Promessa Organic AB is developing and offering a new method of laying the dead to rest. An environmentally friendly form of burial that takes full consideration of the biological realities to which a corpse is subjected.

I wrote about this before. The Swedish Promessa site (in English), the Promessa Foundation, and see this post from 2002 for information on how a corpse pollutes. How does Promessa do it and a comparison of the effects on the environment


02005-10-30 @ 08:10

Lunch in Viareggio - 23
Brilliant wine serving machine. Ask waiter for a wine-card, which has a magnetic strip on the back. Grab a glass and insert the card into the machine. Select any of the wines available and receive a pour of that wine. Continue to sample from any of the bottles… At the end of the meal hand the card to the waiter and pay for the wine you drank. Wine is preserved with a neutral gass which keeps it from oxidizing.

The Pantheon

02005-10-30 @ 06:10

Above link will take you to a new slideshow on Flickr – or just click on the photo below.
Pantheon - 1

Morning Walk in Rome

02005-10-30 @ 06:10

Take an early morning walk in Rome! Soon you have you first view of the Pantheon:
Pantheon in Rome - 1
This cafe is a great place to start the morning. It is open early, while the Caffe Sant’ Eustachio does not open until 8AM (but remains open until 2AM!). The cafe looks small in this photo, but is very deep and much larger than the Sant’ Eustachio. Walk around the Pantheon before day-break and then walk over to this cafe a block to the side in the Piazza Sant’ Eustachio. Stand at the bar and order a capuccino, and soon you might see a baker bring in fresh pastries you might not be able to resist.

Then you might walk over to the Piazza Navona a few blocks away and look at the fountain, which includes this figure, a reclining man shielding his eyes from the sight of the building on the other sde – the sculptor of the fountain, Nicola Salvi, and the architect could not stand each other – before returning to the Pantheon to watch the sun light up the dome of that wonderful, wonderful building.

You might see three nuns crossing the piazza, you might see a woman looking out of her window, or you might check out waiters setting up tables for the day-long invasion of tourists.

I’m (almost) baack!

02005-10-29 @ 16:10

I am in Chicago, waiting for my flight home. This week I was in Rome and it was wonderful. What a great city! Took almost 50 photos of the Pantheon – at night, early morning, evening… drank lots of coffee – usually one cappuccino in the morning, followed by many espressi during the day….

Nutella Soul

02005-10-18 @ 10:10

Tuesday: A little bit of Nutella on a slice of Banana is damn delicious. Today: Siena by way of Montevarchi (Prada Outlet store).

Found another nice restaurant in Viareggio yesterday and had a nice lunch at Amaro.
Amaro Restaurant Viareggio - 10
Afterwards to Pisa, straight for the leaning tower. The tethers have been removed, the tower is stabilized and the public is allowed to climb it once again.
Tower of Pisa - 6
Last night I realized that the search for purity is related to the desire to find a soul – something, anything that is independent in this complex matrix of dependancy. Both searches are entirely hopeless, of course. Innocence and purity are neither desirable nor real. Ghosts of our ego trying to prove itself.


02005-10-15 @ 10:10

Saturday: drove to Florence in the morning and had coffee at Moyo, which has free Wi-Fi. Uploaded a bunch of photos to Flickr – I have taken almost 500 at this point – before we went in search of lunch. Drove three times around Florence looking for the railway station. Afterwards to Forte dei Marmi for a walk and a drink.

Friday Morning

02005-10-14 @ 10:10

Friday Morning: Fall has arrived in this part of Tuscany, but the whole week has been pleasantly warm (65-72 degrees F). Yesterday we drove a friend to the Pisa airport and ended up walking through the downtown area for a couple of hours because we were too early. Drank a Becks beer for the first time in a decade.

Sadly Italians dress like Americans now, which means that most of them dress as badly as I do. I saw lots of boots or sneakers, jeans or sweatpants, T-shirts with Nike or Adidas logos or slogans like Just Kill Me or Will work for Beer. Of course tourists now blend in perfectly except Germans, who with their bright and square glasses are easily distinguishable. A friend asked me whether ALL Germans wear bright glasses. I told her that a law in Germany states that everyone has to wear them and that they were all Government-issued… (not true of course)

More change has happened in Italy during the last couple of years than I saw in the seven or eight years before that. Italians are eating processed food – Risotto in a jar, pasta in a can, even Kraft’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese – and are becoming larger.

Will really good pizza become a rarity, only to be found in little towns in the south? Already many bars offer food that they simply re-heat like TV-dinners. Processed foods, MTV-style, a large influx of immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe – I believe we will see a lot of change in Italy over the next decade.


02005-10-13 @ 08:10

Thursday: yesterday we drove to the Trattoria Da Busse in a little town called Pontremoli. A couple of sisters in their sixties or seventies and their cousin operate this lovely restaurant. None of their children have an interest in continuing the business and so the restaurant will close in a few years. If you have a chance to visit this place, you should jump at it. The local speciality is a flat buckwheat pasta that looks like a thin crepe-pancake and, I believe, is made in a wood burning oven.
It is served cut up into sections with pesto. Amazing. For the second course we asked for a little bit of everything which our waitress/proprietress found very exciting. After serving the second course, she told us that we would get fined for any piece of food left over. We had a couple of pieces of food left over and decided to pile the plates on top of each other and to hide the remnants in between. She busted us immediately, laughing.

Postcard from Italy

02005-10-12 @ 03:10

I am posting this from a little internet point in a very small town. Internet access is like Gold in these parts – and even though half an hour costs 5 Euro, the connection is very slow… anyway, took over 300 photos since arriving, but will have to wait to post them until later. Saw a cafe in Florence with Wi-Fi and might go there on Saturday. After four days of near constant rain we are enjoying sunshine all of this week. Ah, I checked our ListeningLounge and and Winter Rose is available. Got to go now – ciao!

PS: I decided to back-date my entries and to post them as I wrote them. So, do check all of October for posts.


02005-10-09 @ 07:10

Sunday Morning: More shots are fired. There goes another one, followed immediately by a church bell and a chain saw. Symphony of sounds. We picked up a friend at Pisa airport in the late afternoon and had dinner at La Brilla again.
Tree at Villa La Bianca - 3 Dinner at La Brilla - 9


02005-10-08 @ 07:10

Saturday: Two friends left for the Chianti region yesterday morning, another friend arrives this afternoon in Pisa from London.

It’s quite cold at night and I can’t figure out how to light the pilot light for the heating system, which seems to shut down nightly around 8PM. I love sleeping in cold rooms, but waking up in them is not so nice. The caretaker came by to re-light the pilot and brought me a bottle of olive oil made from the olive trees on the hill behind the house.

Made Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner. Amazing how long food stays hot here – compared to Santa Fe’s elevation at 7,500 ft. (2,286 m) above sea level.

Thought about Italian cuisine and what I like about it. I love that the cooking highlights the freshness of the ingredients as opposed to spices and sauces. Beans are served with a little olive oil, meats have a little lemon juice on them etc. Compare that with French, Chinese, or Mexican food. Chinese food is all about making lower quality meats taste better with sauces and spices. I was told the same is true for French food. Paris was a long way from the farms and slaughterhouses before refrigeration and even further from the sea. The wonderful French sauces were invented to hide the taste of meat that might have been a little less fresh…

Here in Tuscany nothing needs to be hidden as everything is fresh.

Friday Morning

02005-10-07 @ 07:10

Friday morning. Yesterday we had lunch in Lucca at a restaurant I walked into by chance 9 years ago. It apparently has been written up in several guidebooks now and one hears more English than Italian. The food is still quite good though. Afterwards coffee and a stroll in Forte dei Marmi, followed by watching the sunset from the pier. The sun fell into the Mediterranean and lit up the mountains in the East. Beautiful.

Small is beautiful

02005-10-06 @ 07:10

Check out these little cars. None of them available in the States, but maybe that will change now?

Thursday Morning

02005-10-06 @ 07:10

Thursday Morning. The house’s four bedrooms are full. I am up first and make the first pot of stove top espresso. Shots ring out – I think it is hunting season as I have heard shots every morning. There cannot be much wildlife hiding in these wooded hills anymore.

More friends arrived last night from Florence and 6 of us had a fabulous dinner at Osteria La Brilla, the restaurant of Villa La Bianca. This restaurant is a member of the slowfood association, symbolized by the snail. It means that everything is prepared fresh. Nothing is pre-made. Who cares if it takes a little longer when you are in good company and you have a few bottles of fabulous local wine. I forgot to take some photos, but we will be back during the next couple of weeks. Another shot, this one sounding fairly close.

I stayed at Villa La Bianca in 2002. A former factory has been beautifully restored into a bed and breakfast by a group of local people. Highly recommended.

Today is the first morning I did not wake up to lots and lots of rain. Shopping awaits in Lucca as I only have one pair of socks and discovered a hole in one of them yesterday. Maybe a new pair of shoes as well. I have only one pair of M3dium shoes, and the leather is drenched from four days of rain. Boom, another shot. Sounds amazing in these hills. 7 shots before 8AM. Did I mention we have a blue sky and sunshine?


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