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I know my…

In Italy, we have a way of saying “I know my chicken” that means you know someone so well you can predict his or her behaviour.

10 years ago this day, I said “I am not going to be next to you because I know you’ll be a pain in the butt” and indeed, I was right. Today, he, the Doc, is a big pain.

He is sad because math is not an ally anymore, and he’ll be force to do things that he never thought of doing before.

In addition, someone up there who surely knows him better than I do, and who correctly predicted Doc was going to be a pain gave Doc another reason to be a pain: in the last day in Italy, He sent Doc a bunch of viruses and bacteria.

So, in the last few days, Doc is coughing and sniffing, and today Doc feels worse than yesterday most likely because yesterday he had to speak for 7 hrs in a row, actually worse than that, he had to repeat for 7 times the same presentation to Big Minds in diabetes.

Because I know my chicken, I’ll leave him cook in his primordial broth withouth mentioning or celebrating anything. A real pity, because I wish I could make this day a special one for him. Perhaps 10 years from now.



Saturday, May 26th, my friend G posted on Face book “Why in the world my children wake me up at 6.30 on weekends?” Her friends, also moms, commented sharing the same problem.

I was close like this at adding my comment “Dear moms, what if instead of these “little monsters”-who by the way are yet not aware of timing—is your husband who wakes you up at 8:40am because he miscalculated the time zone you’re at?”

All right, I admit that for these moms sleeping until 8:30am is a luxury. However, just for one moment, imagine the time you were younger and childless; if your husband/partner/lover had waken you up at 8:40am on Saturday morning, after going to sleep late at night, would you have been a little… disappointed?

Well, that is what happened last Saturday at precisely 8:40am. I was sleeping in my bed like a little angel in Morpheus hands (by far, my fav god) when the phone rang. In the aftermath of this sudden awakening, and while still asking “Who am I, where am I, what’s happening around me” I realized it was 8:40am, and I was ready to “destroy” that human being who was calling me in the middle of my dream. Because I become a MONSTER when I am awaken by the sound of the phone..

A few seconds later I looked at the phone. I realized the call was coming from Italy, and although the number was showing up on the screen of the phone, I just couldn’t recognize it. That task was going to involve a few more neurons that were not available at that time. I just recognized the call was from a cell phone.

“Hhhhhaaaloooohhh” I said with a sleepy voice
“Hi sweetheart!!!”
“SWEETHEART???  Doc, it’s 8:40 am. I was sleeping…”
“Oh I am sorry. I thought you were up… I’ll talk to you later…” click

It took me about 40 minutes to  fall back asleep. Usually, it takes me a while to go back to sleep because my brain undergoes a deep shock when I am awaken by the ring of the phone. Anyway, I eventually slept for another 2 hrs (I know all the moms I mentioned before are very jealous at this point…). At about noon 1000 Querce time, I called back Doc and between one sentence and the other I commented…

“Doc, what the heck where you thinking when you called me at 8:40am? I was dreaming. I was painting a sky, the stars, and the planets. I was making Saturno’s rings…”
“I thought you were already up”
“Well, possibly I could have been up. But last night, I went to bed very late because I watched the first two episodes of  “Il piu’ grosso spettacolo dopo il weekend” with Fiorello on YouTube. You know… there is not too much to do for a “single woman” like I am these days here in 1000 Querce on Friday evening…”
“Well… I miscalculated your time zone”

YOU MISCALCULATED MY TIME ZONE??? You, Doc, who has two graduate degrees in scientific topic (total of 10 years to get them), plus a residency, and 5 years of high school focused on math and science, YOU MISCALCULATED MY TIME ZONE??? Are you stating that you can’t make a simple subtraction?

I admit I don’t particularly like subtractions. I hate to have to deduct something you own because “so it’s stated in your problem.” I feel guilty. Moreover, to deduct 1 or 2 or 3 is easy; up to 3, I can subtract easily and fast. I find it more difficult when I have to deduct 6, 7, 8 or 9. I can’t be fast because I need to count with my fingers.-9 can be obtained by deducting 10 and then adding 1; but this requires two calculations instead of one.

Doc, let me give you a trick to find out the time in 1000 Querce when you’re in Italy: instead of deducting 9 hrs, add 3. Look at the time (make sure you use only numbers between 1 and 12 and convert all >12), then add 3 hrs, change AM with PM or the other way around, and the result is the time at 1000 Querce in that exact moment.

Easy enough, I hope ^o^

When the cat is away…

The cat in this case is Doc. In fact, when he is away (like in these past 2 weeks) even if I get bored A LOT, I can do things that I would not be allowed to do in his presence, such as:

1) I can miss to take my evening daily shower if I spent the whole day at home (which I did several times in these 2 weeks considering my lack of social life… but it’s getting better now)
2) I can eat onions
3) I can increase the entropy of the house (= increase the degree of mess)
4) I don’t have to scream “turn off the light” 10,000 in a day
5) I can dry the laundry outside in the patio using Gulliver my lovely Foppapedretti portable laundry line (by the way, what’s the need of a dryer when you live in SoCal, the land of the never ending sun?)
6) I can take a nap at the end of the afternoon on my couch without being disturbed
7) I can decide NOT to go to the gym and feel a little bit guilty (but not more than a little bit)
8) I can drive Doc’s BMW every time I want and feel a little like a trophy wife with the only difference that Doc is not that old and I believe still attractive

But, above everything, I can do this: Leave the plates in my sink for days and days!!! (All right, two days, maybe two and a half…)

Doc hates hates hates to have the plates in the sink. He doesn’t even wash the precious Bialetti moka espress maker if the sink is full, and he scolds me when, at the end of the day, he comes home and finds the breakfast plates and mugs still there drowning in the sink. So, when the Doc is away, I play and leave the dirty plates in the sink for at least two days.

But please, don’t mention it to him…

–Enjoy the Day–

Happy Birthday

to my sister Clelia that today, Monday, May 28th, turns 37 .

Lost & Found

The day after the treasure was found right here at about 8am the quietness in the mansion was broken by the sound of the door bell.

“Who dares to be so noisy in the morning?” I stormed from my bed after a sleeplessness night.

It was the FedEx man with the package for Doc. Doc asked to have his treasure mailed with the fastest (and therefore most expensive) shipping choice: Priority overnight. Doc was jumping up and down for joy while helding the package with his treasure in his hands.

“Well, because you had found it, you could have used the 3-day delivery” I commented while he was opening the box “at this point, what’s the necessity to have it that fast and at that cost?”
“But, do you know how much I would have spent had I not found it? I shook last night when I saw the  price of the iPod and the earplugs on the internet…”
“Ok Doc, I am ready. How much would have you spent?”
“$700. $500 for the earplugs and $200 for the iPod touch”

GULP… OMG  GULP… “Doc, what the heck do you do to deserve a set of earplug that costs THAT much???”
“Well… you don’t understand… those earplugs are fantastic… you should try them… you can’t hear any surrounding noise when you have them on… they’re critical for when you fly…”
“All right Doc. And how many trips by plan do you do in a year to JUSTIFY the critical necessity of this pair of SUPER-EXPENSIVE earplugs?”

According to Doc, “enough” means about one trip per month. Just to give a sense of the cost, after 12 years of usage once a month round-trip, and assuming the earplugs are going to last that long which I hope considering the price, the price for using them is about $3.50 per trip. Of course it is cheaper than buying the cheap $5 set offered on the aircraft, but it is also true that “cheaper” earplugs can be used multiple times (probably not for 12 years)… Of course it’s possible that inflation will increase the cost of the $5 earplugs… and of course it’s possible that Doc may travel more in future bringing down the average cost per trip…

“However..” Doc added as soon as he realized that my mind was occupied in making some math calculations “I have NOT paid them that price. I paid them half that price!!!”  he added with a sense of pride in his voice.

I feel much better Doc, much much better… THANKS!

PS: A few days ago, I saw the charge of the FedEx priority overnight delivery on my credit card. The amount was $106.89. He doesn’t think about how much he paid the shipment but how much he saved by not buying his precious treasure… This is HIS point of view ^o^

The Lost Treasure

Doc is a very precise and neat human being. On his desk, he has lined up several cups, each of them containing a bunch of pens, pencils,  or such. Every time I use one of them and forget to put it back, I don’t know how but he can point out which one I took and blame me for the missing piece.

Every now and then, though, Doc does something terrible, really really terrible.

A few days ago, on the way back from a trip to the East coast, Doc forgot something on the plane: his precious iPod touch. Problem is, he found that out when he was home, late at night, and he was unpacking his carry-on baggage.

Around midnight, while I was knitting and watching an interesting documentary about Fermi and Marconi, I heard a herd of horses coming down from the stairs in our mansion.

“Damn it…” screams Doc “I forgot my iPod on the aircraft!!!!” followed by a series of biiiiiiip-bip-bip-biiiiiip words… “I KNEW IT!!! I should have not put it in that pocket!!! ‘…. Biiiip… that was not appropriate for storing my iPod…. biiiiip…bip bip biiiip please look for the lost and found number at LAX… biiiiiip… hurry up, hurry up… biiiip”

So, at half past midnight, he was calling the Lost & Found over LAX but–obviously–nobody replied and the only “living” voice was the one of the answering machine.

Doc felt really bad, so bad that he had troubles falling asleep, but he did his best keeping a positive attitude and hoping to find his iPod touch.

“You’ll never find it” I told him with no hesitation.
“Thank you for your positive support” he replied to me.

The next morning, as soon as he got up, he started calling again the Lost & Found number. He wasn’t lucky and could not get someone but the answering machine. Then, I took over and started calling the number every few minutes until…

“Hi Miss Lost & Found. I am calling because that monster of my husband, yes, Doc, the one who is always ssuper-precise, super-neat, and so on but who every now and then is up in the air, forgot his iPod in the pocket of seat 9D. Just checking to see if someone has found it and brought it there…”

Miss Lost & Found put me on hold and went to check the list of lost and found items. After a few minutes, she responded that nothing with that description was brought to the office

“Well, maybe the cleaning crew has not found it because it’s a small item, and maybe they could not see it with a quick glimpse… or maybe they haven’t cleaned the aircraft yet” I suggested.

Because of my suggestion, Miss Lost & Found decided to check where the aircraft was, whether still at LAX or in another airport. She tracked it down.
“It left for Orlando as flight 204  last night and arrived there early this morning. Call this number”
“Thank you SO MUCH Miss Lost & Found. I’ll immediately call Orlando. Have a great day.” Click

“Hi Orlando Lost & Found? Yes? Thanks… Orlando, we have a problem… Orlando, Doc, that monster of my husband… bla bla bla.. By any chance, have you found it?”
“Please hold on, I am going to check” … … “Something was reported being found. What’s its color?”
“I don’t know it. I need to call Doc, because it’s his iPod.”

So, with one phone connected to Orlando and the other reaching Doc, I was going back and forth between the two.

“Doc, I need to know what your iPod looks like… Doc, Orlando is saying that three items have been found, one of them being a toothbrush. Can you confirm you also had a toothbrush?”
“Orlando, yes Doc is confirming that he also had a toothbrush. He said that his iPod is black and has a plastic cover with black and blue stripes, and there is also a small black case that contains a set of earphones.”

The most difficult part in this three-way conversation was to talk in Italian with Doc and in English with Orlando and switching between the two. At a certain point, Orlando heard my accent while talking to Doc and started talking in Spanish (???), at which point I almost gave up…

“Orlando, use English because it’s already a difficult conversation… don’t mess up with my capability of switching languages like that… pleazzzze….”

Bottom line, Orlando was able to find the precious treasure of Doc.

“So, when do you come to pick it us?” Orlando asks me
“Well, Orlando, actually we live in 1000 Querce,  the quiet and lovely town located in the Rabbit Valley in SoCal. Can you mail it to me?”

When Doc called a few minutes later to give all the information about his address and the FedEx account that I opened with the only scope of getting back his precious treasure, he asked for a priority overnight delivery.

Had it been for me, I would have requested the next week delivery… just to make him freak a little bit longer…

For H

H is a co-worker of Doc. H is a young woman, probably younger than my sister who is 37 years old. H, like me, is an immigrant and came to the US several years ago. H, like me, is a scientist. H, like me, loves crafts like knitting, crocheting, and sewing. H, unlike me, is married to a guy who is 10 years younger than she is. H, last October, was diagnosed with breast cancer, received chemotherapy, lost all her hair, and started to wear a wig.  H, at the beginning of March, underwent reconstructive surgery. H, after the surgery, spent about two weeks recovering at home.

It was after the surgery that I proposed H to spend a day with her with the promise of cooking an Italian lunch. H happily agreed to that idea.

So, about a week before the day with H, I started making thinks for her. Knowing that she appreciates handmade gifts, and knowing that she wants to start sewing and knitting, I decided to make her all handmade things, including a few useful for knitting or sewing. This is what I made for her…

Left picture: A recycled bag I got from a conference with her initial; a set of stitch markers representing chocolate truffles (very hard to see but they’re located on the upper right corner of the H); a red, black, and white needle book; a set of yellow, orange, and purple potholders with dishcloths.

Middle picture: a warmer bag filled with rice and lavender (upper left corner); four lavender sachets (one with the H, one with the heart, and two heart-shaped); a pincushion (up in the middle); a cross-stitched biscornu; a measure tape with the blue heart; a coaster made with lanyards from scientific conferences (upper right corner);

Right picture: two  red, black, and white breakfast mats.

I put everything in the bag with the H, and she was extremely happy to receive my gifts. It turned out that red, black, and white are her favorite colors, and she used these colors in her wedding. It also turned out that the day I spent with her, March 5th, was her birthday. I didn’t ask how young she was to experience all what was happening in her life.

The Open Book

If Doc had ridden the taxi I took a few days ago in Chicago, driven by a Chinese young lady with long nails painted with black polish, he would have continued the ride to 1000 Querce (about 2048  miles from Chicago) and with the excuse of saving some $$$, he would have shared the hotel room with her and who knows what else he would have done.

If Doc were on the Cincinnati-Los Angeles flight I took yesterday and saw the flight attendant with long black hair, tanned face, almond-shape eyes with black mascara, and perfect French-tip manicure nails, he would have asked to fly to LA going through Europe, Asia, and Australia and possibly in a very twisted path going up and down the line of the Equator

I bet that when Doc saw the lady cheering clients in the sushi restaurant we entered yesterday, he thought of going back there for at least 3650 dinners in a row.

At times, after 18 yrs and 1 day together, to me Doc looks like an open book.

Doc’s favorite Tavern

Last Saturday, Doc and I were considering where to have dinner.

“My patent lawyer B said his favorite place in Chicago is Tavern on Rush” I said
“Let’s take a look at its menu” Doc replies

After browsing the web looking for the Tavern’s menu, we decided to book a table. The only time available was 9:30pm, a little late but with some planning and an appetizer, we manage to arrive at 9:30p without a lion roaring for food in our belly.

Not too long after we sat at our table, we noticed several female individuals all wearing a very short skirt and very high heel shoes walking near our table on the way to the lady’s room.

“Mini skirts are back in fashion” noted Doc with a pleasing tone in his voice.
“Apparently so” I said and soon added “I feel like there’s a plastic surgeons meeting in this place and they have invited the results of their efforts ”
“Indeed” Doc approved.

Thanks to B. recommendation and Doc comments and clinical insights, by the end of the dinner, I  could figure out who had a Silicone Valley (NOT to be confused with the Silicon Valley) and what a pair of firm gluteus looks like…

A crazy pre-weekend

Last Thursday night, Doc and I left for Chicago where I’ll be attending a conference.

Because Doc and I are loyal to two different frequent flyer programs (mine is French and his is German), we used two different airlines.  As soon as we went through security, our crazy pre-weekend started to unveil:

1) Doc’s flight from Phoenix to Chicago arriving from San Fran left with more than 2 hrs of delay. He panicked he couldn’t be on time to connect to his most-important-unforgettable conference call the next morning;|
2) My flight from LA to Cincinnati left with an hour of delay making me late for my Cincinnati-Chicago connection;
3) When I arrived in Cincinnati at 6:30am and wandered around looking for the Help Desk to rebook the next flight, Doc left me a voice message announcing that my hotel reservation was for that PAST night and therefore we didn’t have a room for Friday night;
4) After I checked the reservation and noted that Doc’s statement was right and I made a terrible mistake at booking the wrong night, I started freaking and my cheeks became red and hot. For a few minutes I didn’t know what to do, and my only desire was to go back home;
5) More freaking time went by realizing that for that night I might have to pay $400-500 to reserve a room in a hotel in Chicago downtown. Luckily for me, I found a room in the same hotel for the “cheap” price of $220 and I was so happy that I didn’t blink an eye when I hit the button “Reserve” on my iPhone (obviously, in a normal situation, I would have not paid that amount for a room in Chicago…);
6) My Cincinnati-Chicago flight was the worst I have ever had in my life. The aircraft that was as small as a mosquito did a 8-12 yard jump. People screamed, the aircraft trembled and shook like crazy, and the coke splashed on the roof and came down on my friend’s book (that now is maculated like the a leopard), my glasses, iPhone, red scarf, booths and bag, all while my last thought was “I have not even had the time to say hello to Doc;”
7) Doc was able to participate to his most-important-conference call from a quiet and private place (thanks to my wrong booking that costed me a fortune…)
8) After the conference call, Doc fell in a post-headache sleepy status that knocked him down for several hours. Luckily, after about 4 hrs of sleep, Doc became as active as before and no sign of headache was left in his body (or head);
9) While Doc was sleeping, I was trying to relax in bed, but every now and then I shaked thinking to the jump in the airplane.

Overall, the weekend went fine,  and we spent some time walking, eating in good restaurant, touring the lake on a boat, and meeting friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.

As the last cherry on the cake, when Doc went to do the check-in on Sunday evening, he noticed that the time of departure that he thought was at 10:50pm was indicated as 8:50pm. After a few minutes of panicking during which I felt terrible that I made another big mistake, Doc found the original email stating the 10:50pm time of departure. Once he arrived at the airport, he was told that the 10:50pm flight was not existing anymore and that the mistake was probably caused by the integration of two different booking systems following the merge of Continental and United. In any event, he was able to catch the 8:50pm flight, and he is now on the way back to 1000 Querce.

So far, so good, but it was an intense and freaking pre- and post-weekend…