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Italy trip review part 2 Tue, Sep 27, 2011
First part 1, now a review of some important topics: 

Food.  I like eating, but I'm not picky, so I wasn't blown away by the food.  The food was good; lots of pizza, pasta, and gelato.  Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream, which people will try to explain as similar but different from ice cream.  Short version:  Gelato is ice cream.  And it's good. 

Wine.  Italy is famous for its red wines, which I'm not really a fan of.  Or at least, I didn't think I was.  Italy's red wines are lively and full of flavor, instead of the typical dry and oaky flavor.  Wendy discovered Brunello di Montalcino, which she'll share with you on a special occasion, and I discovered Raboso, which I'll share with you on my deathbed.  (Just kidding; it's cheap but hard to find.)  Bottom line, we drank wine frequently and never had a bad one, though not many really stood out. 

Art.  I'm not an art fan, and Wendy isn't enough of one to force me to pretend.  That said, we went in several churches which were painted floor to ceiling with frescoes and filled with sculptures, so art was kind of unavoidable. 

Money.  The American dollar is worth a bit less than the Euro, so everything costs more.  But we stayed in cheap hotels and checked menus before entering restaurants.  I'm actually really pleased with my current credit card (Capital One), which charges no foreign transaction fees.  But unfortunately, the very few places that accepted credit cards liked to somewhat angrily remind everyone how high their merchant fees are.  Oh boo hoo; if it costs more, charge me more.  An unexpected benefit of not readily accepting credit cards is that some services were offered at a discount if paid for with cash.  We got an 8% discount on our hotel in Venice, which was nice. 

People.  The Italian people were nice.  They wanted you to drink wine and have a good time.  But one thing that stood out to me was that people had no awareness of their surroundings.  If you were approaching someone on the street, they would walk right into you.  Or if you were walking behind someone, they would suddenly stop walking for no reason.  And the idea of common courtesy was absent.  For example, if you were getting off a crowded plane, people sitting behind you would just plow down the aisle without offering anyone the chance to go before them.  Concerning fellow travelers, a train rider (an Australian) made a comment to her friend about how Italy was so full of American tourists.  If anything, there were more Australians than Americans, and there were quite possibly more Germans than all the rest of us combined.  In other news, Germans smell.  It's nothing personal; they just don't wear deodorant. 

Language.  We learned some Italian from a phrase book on the flight over.  And even though the vast majority of people spoke English, we tried to speak our broken Italian when we could.  I just liked the sound of it.  It's so melodic and sing-songy.  Ferrovia dello strato.  Vino della casa bianchi, per favore. #travel

Miles per dollar Tue, Sep 27, 2011
Not to beat a dead horse, but I was thinking recently that a helpful way to understand how far a dollar will allow you to travel is to calculate miles per dollar, which is just gas mileage divided by the price of a gallon of gas.  So if my car gets 30 miles per gallon and gas costs $3.00 per gallon, that means a dollar will get me 10 miles.  This is helpful if, for example, you're really low on gas and need to figure out if the spare change under your seat can get you home. #travel

Nugget vs. popcorn (1) Tue, Sep 27, 2011
A recent KFC commercial asked, "What part of the chicken is nugget?"  It then proceeded to espouse the wonders of its popcorn chicken versus other restaurants' chicken nuggets.  The obvious counter-argument is, "What part of the chicken is popcorn?"  I get their point; chicken nuggets are made from pureed chicken parts (probably mostly white meat), while popcorn chicken is just fried cuts of white meat.  But either way it's just fried chicken.  It's a stupid argument. #food

Non-science (1) Tue, Sep 27, 2011
I don't like the term "political science."  If anything, politicking is an art form, not a scientific pursuit.  Lumping the two words together is a disgrace to the world of actual science. 

I feel somewhat the same about "food science."  I know there's actual science involved in the interaction between food chemicals and human taste buds, but in practice I just see chefs in a kitchen, which is inherently artistic.  Food scientists can take that as a compliment if they so choose. 

Slightly related:  Medicine as art #science