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nomad dimitri
Works at Stanford University
Attended Stanford University
Lives in France & California
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nomad dimitri

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Alone, among the stones & the bones

I don't think it is very polite to visit a city without calling on its dead.  Besides, cemeteries are some of the few remaining places without advertising & shopping.  They are calm gardens, excellent places to meditate on our transient lives & our ultimate fate.

This particular cemetery is perched on hills above Florence, Italy.  It is old &, therefore, crowded.  I walked around the ossuary, where I had an interesting encounter: a young man, dead at 32, about a century ago, that was immortalized by his friends in a very different way, among the traditional tombstones, crosses & urns.

I do not find cemeteries melancholy.  By his looks, neither did he...
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nomad dimitri's profile photoMee Ming Wong's profile photoPeter Strempel's profile photo
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+nomad dimitri
I'm not a stranger to drinking more than a man should; whiskey creeps up on you and clobbers you some hours after you had the drink that was one too many.

But it was eery, and somehwat like walking among the tombstones: deserted streets in the dark. Even the shopping centre was deserted though I would have been there around seven on a Saturday night.

Anyway, I did survive it without too much damage (lost pair of sunglasses and walking cane).

And yes. +Mee Ming Wong, even look like you're lighting a cigarette and they're on ya! But I think I could have stood in the middle of the main drag to hang out my penis for a piss, and no one would have seen or objected. Not that this is actually what happened.
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The Mephistopheles Fountain: a plunge to the dark side

The Horned One seldom looked happier overlooking the troubled waters of his very own fountain.  Water sloshes out of his satanic smile... or is it sulfur?

Sporting two separate sets of horns, he is surrounded by four especially devilish chimeras: a blend of horse & sea-horse, with wings.  

Would you dare dip your toe inside this fountain?
Would you throw a coin & make a wish?

Take a selfie in front of this fountain & you can be the next Dorian Gray!

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+nomad dimitri
Hellfire! So long as it's whiskey flavoured I suspect I could live with that.
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Burn this field: The Gluten Wars

Do not (entirely) dismiss gluten allergy as the latest diet fad.  

Gluten is definitely:
- black: if you have coeliac disease (1% of the population), gluten can wreck your life
- white: you may be completely tolerant to gluten and therefore believe that all this is bonkers
- gray: you may be somewhat intolerant (6% of the population), which means, to use myself as an example, a plate of pasta can be tough to digest & bloaty
- polka-dot: you may hate Monsanto & want to subscribe to a healthier lifestyle (23% of the population) and believe that ditching gluten will help through its "halo" effect

And remember: you may go from white to black or gray, without warning (and without any known reason) at any point in your life, suddenly.

Even though I am extremely bored with my own and others' dietary sensitivities (but extremely extremely bored!), I have to admit that "the gluten thing is real" and, perhaps, it is also a good thing, in the sense that it sensitizes people to their diet & sends a message to the horrible processed-food/genetic-mutation/pesticide industry.  

One of the first grand casualties of The Gluten Wars will likely be Kellog's, which has tricked consumers for decades & is on a financial freefall.  I will not mourn its demise...

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Parsnips and Rutabaga are a thrill sauteed with seseme or coconut oil and agave syrup!
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Deceiving the eye: "Trompe l'oeil": Visual illusion in art

The illusion in this square in Nice is so well-made, that it persists even when you know about it.  The artists that have created it had to take into account the natural light hitting the square as well as the angles of observation: ie where are most of the people likely to be standing most of the time as they look at the facade.

In this particular case, the illusion is especially magical in the way it integrates real elements: the shutters and the balconies.  Instead of betraying the trompe l'oeil, they enhance it, because the effect is interweaved.  Because our brain has to accept the shutters as real, and because they are so well integrated with the window details, we are tricked into thinking that the ensemble is real.

Only if you bother to look very closely at the shadows, and the angles they paint onto the facade, can you shatter the effect, and differentiate between the real & the painted.

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Ooohhd
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Cancer & heredity

(Life has been strange in the last few days.  Which, I guess, means I have had strange thoughts, thoughts that are taking time to take shape, to turn into a narrative, a story.)

Some of you may remember that I was diagnosed with a scary orange-sized tumor more than a year ago.  The reason it got that big undetected is because I had not done regular checkups that would have found it instantly.  The reason that I had not done these checkups was because I was too young to worry about checkups for someone without cancer in the family.

And there had been no cancer in my family until last week.  When: exactly the same cancer in exactly the same place was found in my 87-year old father.  And when I say the same place I mean exactly the same place, on the dot.

- So, suddenly, I have become someone who had cancer in the family.
- So, suddenly, I was absolved from anything I could have done wrong, from all the ways in which, perversely, my cancer was my fault.  (Funny why quickly that thought came to me).
- So, suddenly, millions of scenaria open up, millions of "could have been's" & "would have been's."  (Was his there before mine?  If he had done his checkups, would we ...)

Like so many flies, I shoo them away.  The story, the narrative is not important and, in any case, it will form itself on its own, even if I don't want it to.

First things first: take care of dad.  

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~ POSITIVE THOUGHTS to you and your Father.
Stay strong!
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Europe is burning!

Most of Europe has been intolerably hot for a week now & this hell is meant to last for at least another week.  I can barely stand it: I take 6 showers per day & keep sprinkling my hair & clothes with water all the time.  No question of going out under the sun before 8pm.

You all know that this is supposed to be the planet's hottest year on record.  In Europe heat waves are scarier than in the US because air-conditioning is not as prevalent.  In the catastrophic heatwave of 2003, more than 30,000 people died, most of them in France.

The reason for this is that summers in southern Europe are milder than the southern US where you can barely survive without air conditioning.  People in Florida, say, or in Texas, expect the summer to be a furnace and they have structured their houses & lives for it.

Except in Andalucia & certain other hot spots, it is not like that in Europe.  There is heat in the summer but it does not get too extreme & it does not last for more than a few days.  There is also less humidity than in the US, which keeps things feeling cooler.  In addition, European houses are often made of stone, which, because of the inertia, keep interior temperatures more stable.

All that works fine until there is a heatwave.  When it lasts for more than a few days, the stone houses turn into pizza ovens, retaining the heat even when the night cools down.  The elderly, especially, get increasingly exhausted & dehydrated.

With no air conditioning, the only recourse is getting wet, as I do, or fleeing to the beach.  For dear life...

Are you somewhere suffering from a heatwave?

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+Ernie J. Jr. thank you. 7 showers/day!
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Cupid Q&A: the accounting of attraction

We are born single.  It is only as we travel through our lives that we can find ourselves (if we wish, if we are lucky) as one member of a couple.

The longer the voyage, the more the baggage that has accumulated.  Thus, when we find ourselves single at a later stage in life, we are definitely more loaded than as teenagers.  But so is, most likely, our prospective partner.

Therefore, when myopic, playful cupid strikes two people loaded with suitcases, the conversations that ensue between them are, well, also loaded.  Superficially, they may resemble teenage conversations ("*Do you like Elle King's Ex's & Oh's?*") but, make no mistake, this is just pretense.

Because, trapped inside the suitcases that our prospective lovers are carrying, are their own Ex's & Oh's.  It is that sort of information that, eventually, is being requested:
- who were you with last?
- when did you break up?
- why?
- and before that?

Nomad definitely thinks it is not too polite to go into this firestorm of questions on the first dates.  There are things that can be asked & there are things that can be told at one's own time, if ever.  Yet, the itch to ask is there.  For we tend to believe that the past is a guide to the future...  Fools!

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John Leer's profile photoahmet yıldızsabah's profile photoTom Scott's profile photoTina Het's profile photo
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Beautiful. Everything you said is so true
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Fear & Loathing in Athens: a question of trust

- Tell me, Pistis, do you think this Greek mess is finally over now?
- You are kidding!  Aristophanes has just finished another 10 years worth of episodes! 
- And you think that real tragedy has not really struck yet?
- Nothing really explosive or very Euripidean has occurred yet.  The chorus has been murmuring but the real wailing has not started.
- And if you were to use your godly powers to give a present to the Greeks, what would it be?
- That is easy, my dear Themis: trust.  The foundation of civil society.  The real foundation of democracy.
- What do you mean?
- Since Pericles, Zeus bless him, there has been no trust in Greece, especially towards the State and towards all institutions other than family.  The Greeks don't trust the State they have build and the State they have built does not trust them.  Each tries to out-Hermes the other.
- So, what we are seeing now is simply the export of this vicious cycle to their relations with Europe.
- Absolutely.  Just as they don't trust their own State, they do not trust the EU, or Brussels, or Germany, or the IMF, or anyone really.  Ultimately, they do not trust themselves...
- And, now, nobody trusts them either.
- Exactly.
- And how do we get out of this?
- I have no idea.  Odysseus, the other day, mentioned again something about a horse...

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Now The Real News podcast says that $200 billion in Greek commerce was not taxed, because several WEALTHY Greek corporations (shipping, etc.) had not paid their taxes, being based "off shore" in Panama and South Pacific. Who does O'Nasis think he is, Zeus? Now, they want to privatize the ports. How can he/they let their country crumble?
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Second thoughts?

Many people get the jitters on their wedding day.

- "Oh my god, I am getting married!"
- "Oh my god, I am getting married to HIM!"
- "Oh my god, I am getting married to him FOREVER!"
- HELP!

Luckily, in this case, the jitters were cured easily with a little pep-talk from the sister ("you are going to have children!") and a few glasses of champagne.  Minutes later, the bride was climbing down the stairs beaming, arm tightly wrapped around the groom's, under a shower of rice and flower petals.

"The heart has reasons that reason cannot know..."

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looks lovely - so do you <3
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Bringing delight downtown

As you know, I am a strong supporter of city ameliorations projects.  Whether we like it or not, most people live in cities.  Making their lives more livable, "enhancing the quality of life of city dwellers" is clearly essential.

We focus too often, however, especially in the US, on practical projects: garbage collection, transportation, city illumination, safety etc.  These are, of course, much needed, especially in the run-down & neglected centers of many american cities.

In France, city centers are treated much more like gardens: never allowed to go to seed, constantly improved, restored, ameliorated (there are, of course, exceptions to this on both sides of the Atlantic).  But there is another, more subtle, and very important difference.  In France, city authorities act on public spaces with more conviction and flare, despite the fact that most french cities have a much older fabric than american ones.  And far less available city center space.

To explain: the french are much more likely to plop a shiny, ultra-modern public-use space in the middle of a 19th century neighborhood.  The americans, even in a much later, early 20th century neighborhood, will be less daring, trying to make the space feel "older", use brick, have less personality, "fit in". 

The french approach is riskier, can occasionally create while elephants, but, often, gives rise to new classics: buildings & spaces that have long lasting value, international influence, and, most importantly, a sense that aesthetics are alive & that our cultures can still create public beauty.  By their timidity, americans act as if, aesthetically, we have reached the end of history, that once we got to the high point of the Chrysler Building, there is no use trying, so we might as well built inoffensively.

This public space is in Marseille, and it is a delight.  Try to figure out how it works & what it's for (no googling)!

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+nomad dimitri​ We are just thrilled to be mentioned in the same sentence with France.I'm just a little grumpy lately, sorry! 
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Part 10: I knew it was Fabio the moment I saw the freaking car!

He brought a car to the island!
He brought a convertible car to the island!
He brought a red convertible car to the island!
He brought a red convertible ITALIAN car to the island!

Who did he bribe to put it on the ferry?
Why does he need a car on an island the size of a football field?  (OK, I am exaggerating).
HE BROUGHT IT FOR HER!  Of course...

The Fabio car magnet zipped by me as I was waiting for the donkey-man 3 days after I received her note.  Her note that said:

"It's me.  
Please believe me: what you felt was genuine.
I had to go, I cannot explain right now.
He, Fabio, arrives tomorrow on the morning boat.
We will have to see what happens.
Meet us, if you want, at the harbor cafe, where you met me.
You liked the stones?
I still have the bone you put in my hair.
See you?"

Of course I did not go to meet her with freaking red car Fabio at the freaking harbor cafe.  But with the sharky red thing circling around the island, and her and Fabio inside, what am I supposed to do?

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(Background on Fabio & The girl with the crystal-studded sandals here: https://plus.google.com/+NomadDimitri/posts/B8YoBdFxMZ6)

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+nomad dimitri​ you're telling me "Don't look down!"
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The Dragon: Italy is still playful

This Dragon sculpture, his body made of flames of rusted metal, graces the Renaissance fountain of my previous post.

Clearly, this is a modern intervention, and totally successful.  Kind of like a cherry on the cake, it provides a nice contemporary touch in this ensemble of fountain, water lilies, goldfish, mosaic & gardens.  As you can see from the full fountain photo, he is about the size of a cat and he is placed discreetly to the side of the fountain, posing in his very own gravelly island.  The fish don't seem too scared.  They like him.

Good looks aside, I wanted to make the point of the continuity of culture.  Aesthetics is very important in Italy: it has been for centuries and it still is.  And it shows when you visit.  Not all of modern Italy is well-made or beautiful.  But there is a lot that is and there is a constant effort to make things more appealing and harmonious.  The correct Italian word, I think, is finezza ("fineness").

The space we live in, the space we share, matters.  In Italy, more than in many other countries, we understand why.  I appreciate that immensely.

(For the full fountain image where the dragon leaves, look at my post below if you are in my stream or click: https://plus.google.com/+NomadDimitri/posts/eU4aVCFe8LJ).
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Farout!
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independent, curious, free-ranging, weary of getting stuck... at home in the world
(i am also a photographer, a cook & a gardener; i especially enjoy when i can cook what i grow)
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palo alto - tokyo - bangalore - athens - bangkok - carson city - paris
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