How to write the first blog post of your life

FeaturedHow to write the first blog post of your life

This is the first blog post of my life.

I like the way the title of my first post of my first blog sounds like if I knew how to do it! Well, I do not have a clue, so let me tell you in totally random order:

WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND IN THIS BLOG (LIST NOT EXHAUSTIVE)

WHAT YOU WILL SURELY NOT FIND IN THIS BLOG

  • Hypocrisy
  • Donald Trump quotes
  • Things most people think
  • Lessons on how you should live your life (although some advice could be provided here and there)
  • What to buy, what to own, what to consume
  • Comments on TV stars, celebrities, cooking TV shows
  • Fashion and mainstream lifestyles

Now that you know, you engage in this blog at your own risk. Do not pretend you were not aware, you weren’t there, you weren’t listening 😉

This said, have a good reading!


TIME TO GET STARTED

97 points in two games

97 points in two games

Going through physical pain and health issues is annoying but we have to be prepared to it as it is an unavoidable part of life; everyone eventually gets old and even individuals that seem immortal cannot escape this rule. Let me get it straight, with an example: everyone gets old and this includes Micheal Jordan.

In January 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA for the second time, after his memorable “I am back” in 1995. That time he would return not as a player, but as part owner and president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards. The next summer, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins as Washington’s coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing another Jordan return.

On September 25, 2001, Jordan announced his second NBA comeback as a player in the team he partially owned. Here follows a story that Doug Collins told an ESPN interviewer; it is a snapshot of Micheal Jordan exceptional NBA career sunset. This story goes out to those that were lucky enough to witness this fantastic basketball player dominate the game throughout the nineties.



When I was coaching in Washington we played the Indiana Pacers and we were down 25 at the end of the third quarter. I took Micheal out of the game and I said: “look Micheal, I know you think that we can still win this game but we got to play again soon, you know. If we make a little run tonight I’ll put you back in the game”, but we didn’t.

I found out after the game was over that he had eight points in the game and he broke a streak of like eight hundred and sixty something games in double figures and so the media was: “you know, how do you think Micheal is going to be with this?”

I said: “You know what? Micheal has got championships, rings, he’s got gold medals, he’s got NCAA championships, he’s got MVPs. He is not going to care about the eight points”.

So he (Micheal Jordan) met with the media and agreed.

You know, the bus is lonely as a coach when you’re sitting there after you got your head handed to you, so I was sitting on the bus and actually Micheal had hired me. He was the part owner and president General Manager and he hired me to be the coach and then he came back to play.

I’ll never forget this moment. As his coach this to me was greatness.

He got on the bus and said “scoot over”. Then he looked at me and said: “Do you think I can still play?” and I said: “Absolutely, that’s why I am here to help you”.

He said: “You know, to be my coach you have to believe in me and believe I can still play”, and I said: “Micheal, I believe in you”.

He said: “You did the right thing tonight, you did the right thing tonight. I don’t care about the points but I needed to know that you believed in me”.

Fast forward; we get on the plane, he has a few cocktails, smokes a couple cigars, all the things you’re not supposed to do. We get back about 3.30 in the morning in Washington. At 7.30 that morning he is in the fitness room with Tim Grover, training like you can’t believe. Nice 41 years old. We play the New Jersey Nets next night and Micheal scores the first three times he has the ball.

Byron Scott takes a timeout and Micheal comes over and says:

“I want the ball right there the rest of the game and don’t take me out until I tell you”

And so that’s fine by me but with two minutes to go in the game he gives me the sign like that’s enough.

I take him out of the game, he walks over the bench and I say: “Micheal, what happened tonight?”

He said: “Well, the guy that was guarding me told me his back was hurting, don’t ever tell me you got a problem, I’ll make you pay for that”.

51 points later, 51 points at age 41, he came back the next game with 46 (points) and he looked at me and said: “I told you I could still play”.

97 points in two games. I was absolutely blown away at what this guy could do with his mind, how strong he was, and he is playing on one leg, and he cut his finger doing a cigar, all his finger was bent, he had a bad knee; the competitive will and great, I’ve never seen anything like that, but that moment when he looked at me and asked if I still believed in him, as this is the greatest player to play the game wanting to know if I still believed in him. It was a moment I would never ever forget.


Micheal Jordan played his last NBA game on April 16, 2003, in Philadelphia and retired for good at the end of the season.  He scored 32292 points in his NBA career and for the impact he had on the game and his unparalleled skills, is generally regarded as the greatest basketball player of all times.

Cari ragazzi

Cari ragazzi
Scrivo raramente in Italiano su questo blog e di solito evito  di parlare di attualita’ Italiana, perche’ poco mi interessa ed ancora meno mi manca. Ieri pero’ mi sono ritrovato a riflettere su quel che sta succedendo in Italia ed ho pensato di scrivere questa lettera immaginaria.

Cari ragazzi,
Ieri, mentre correvo in palestra, ho ascoltato un’intervista con Jim Simons, un tizio di cui non avevo mai sentito parlare. Per chi non ha ventitre minuti e sette secondi per guardare il video su YouTube, o magari non ne ha voglia, ecco un riassunto:
Jim Simons e’ Americano ed e’ un uomo di successo. Nel 1974, mise a punto miglioramenti rivoluzionari ad una complessa astrazione chiamata teoria delle stringhe e per questo e’ considerato uno dei grandi matematici viventi. E’ anche famoso per un’altra ragione: e’ ricco sfondato perche’ ha creato ed e’ stato a capo per decenni di uno dei fondi di investimento piu’ performanti al mondo. Nell’intervista condivide con chi ascolta la sua ricetta per il successo. In soldoni, dopo essere stato un accademico ed aver messo il suo talento matematico al servizio della difesa degli Stati Uniti, e’ stato uno dei primissimi a capire che la data science potesse rivoluzionare il mondo della finanza. Dopo questa illuminazione, lancio’ un fondo di investimento che operava in modo rivoluzionario:  i piu’ brillanti matematici e fisici Americani venivano reclutati nelle istituzioni accademiche e messi a lavorare alla creazione di modelli matematici da applicare alle decisioni legate al trading. Oggi lo fanno tutti. Dopo aver guadagnato centinaia di miliardi per se stesso ed i suoi clienti, si e’ ritirato dal suo ruolo esecutivo nel suo hedge fund ed ha creato una fondazione che ha l’obiettivo di promuovere l’insegnamento della matematica finanziando programmi scolastici e professori selezionati su criteri di eccellenza. La parte piu’ interessante dell’intervista e’ quando Jim Simons esalta l’eleganza della matematica e ricorda che il  suo successo all’apparenza folgorante e’ in realta’ passato attraverso numeri, studio, eccellenza. Con talento ed applicazione si possono creare modelli rivoluzionari che trascendono il problema per cui sono stati creati, ed il successo diventa accessibile.


Ironia della sorte, ieri ho anche letto che il mezzo primo ministro della Repubblica Italiana Giggino Di Maio ha nominato Lino Banfi ad un ruolo nella delegazione Italiana all’Unesco. Non potevano mancare i commenti dell’altro mezzo primo ministro, Matteo Salvini. Ecco qualche dichiarazione, a dir poco illuminante:
Giggino ‘o fenomeno: “Approfittiamo per dare una notizia all’Italia che a me riempie di orgoglio: come governo abbiamo individuato il Maestro Lino Banfi perché rappresenti il governo nella commissione italiana per l’Unesco. Abbiamo fatto Lino Banfi patrimonio dell’Unesco”
Lino Banfi: “Mi impegnero’ a rendere la figura del nonno patrimonio mondiale dell’Umanità”.
“Ieri sera ero a casa  quando mi è arrivata una chiamata in cui, dal ministero, mi anticipavano la possibilità di entrare in Commissione Unesco. Stamattina sono andato per incontrare il ministro, che ho trovato simpaticissimo. Ero lì solo per farmi spiegare bene di cosa si trattasse. Ho posto subito le mie due ‘conditio sine qua non’: niente inglese e niente laurea”.
Matteo il bullo: “Di Maio ha annunciato Lino Banfi ambasciatore dell’Italia all’Unesco. Va bene, e Jerry Calà, Renato Pozzetto e Umberto Smaila? apriamo questo dibattito. Scherzi a parte, l’Italia è così bella che chiunque può difenderla e valorizzarla”
Concetti profondi e complessi. Proviamo a riassumere semplificando:
1) Un rincoglionito ultra-ottantenne, nominato a rappresentare l’Italia  in un consesso dove si decide come proteggere e promuovere il nostro enorme patrimonio spesso in rovina, dichiara che si occupera’ di parlare di nonni alle riunioni dell Unesco, in Italiano anche se tutti intorno al tavolo parlano Inglese. A parte fare il nonno, molto di puo’ non potrebbe fare, non possedendo alcun titolo o esperienza a supporto dell’importante incarico. Se poi ad una riunione dovesse presentarsi, un laureato, Il Maestro preannuncia che se la dara’ a gambe. Vorrei avvisarlo: e’ probabile che accada.
2) Un mezzo primo ministro gioisce di avere offerto all’Unesco nientepopodimeno che il Maestro Lino Banfi, un patrimonio dell’umanita’ addirittura! Corbezzoli!
3) L’altro mezzo primo ministro enfatizza che  un rincoglionito ultra-ottantenne diventato famoso grazie alla sua scarsa dimistichezza con la lingua Italiana va benissimo per difendere il patrimonio dell’Italia, perche’ potrebbe farlo chiunque. Chissa’ perche’ gli altri paesi si ostinano a nominare in questi organismi gente qualificata?
Insomma, per le nostre due mezze figure, titoli, preparazione, istruzione sono orpelli  inutili e dannosi. La migliore strategia per difendere gli interessi Italiani e’ nominare gente impreparata ed ignorante per rappresentare l’Italia negli organismi internazionali,  tanto l’Italia e’ talmente avanti.

Pensandoci bene, e’ normale che la pensino cosi’: in effetti tutti  applichiamo alle nostre interazioni col mondo esteriore, gli insegnamenti del nostro passato.
Giggino e’ oggi indubbiamente un uomo di successo. Dopo aver fallito nel conseguimento della laurea in legge a Napoli, e’ diventato mezzo primo ministro senza mai aver lavorato un giorno in vita sua, se escludiamo vendere bibite al San Paolo, grazie a qualche decina di “like” su un social network di sfigati complottomani e no-vax. Fra gli incarichi di rilievo ricoperti in passato, ricorda spesso di essere stato capoclasse alle superiori ed altrettanto spesso dimentica di essere socio nell’azienda di famiglia, distintasi ultimamente per l’utilizzo ripetuto di lavoratori in nero.
Il curriculum di Matteo il bullo ricorda molto quello di Giggino. Anche lui e’ uomo di successo e non si e’ mai laureato, eppure una laurea alla facolta’ di Storia della Statale di Milano, a cui era iscritto, non sembra proprio proibitiva. Le uniche attivita’ lavorative di cui si ha notizia in passato si limitano alla consegna di pizze e qualche part-time al Burghy. Dopodiche’ ha svoltato: e’ entrato in politica assicurandosi cosi’ di non dover mai lavorare in vita. Oggi passa le sue giornate su Facebook a mangiare Nutella, fare la faccia triste dopo essere stato mollato dalla fidanzata, giocare con le ruspe.
Queste due mezze figure hanno in mano il destino dell’Italia. Chiedetegli che modelli hanno da proporre a voi ragazzi per costruire il vostro avvenire. Che politiche promuovono per le scuole, le palestre, le universita’, la ricerca, la competizione, l’innovazione? Un’idea di futuro si puo’ limitare ad insulto e derisione di altri paesi, istituzioni e chiunque non la pensi come loro?
E voi pensate davvero che becera ignoranza, egoentrismo, botte al negher, complottismo, bullismo, balle spaziali, protezionismo, scaricabarile, incompetenza siano gli strumenti giusti per raccogliere le sfide di questo millennio? Se la risposta e’ si, preparatevi a fare l’elemosina e vivere in una casa di cartone perche’ la realta’, a parte pochissime fortunate eccezioni come Giggino ‘o fenomeno e Matteo il bullo, tollera pochissimo  l’inutilita’.
Insomma, cari ragazzi Italiani, e’ arrivato il momento di diventare adulti e scegliere. State con Jim Simons o con Lino Banfi?

Post-scriptum

Se  qualcuno mi avesse predetto che un giorno avrei scritto di teoria delle stringhe e Lino Banfi nella stessa pagina, lo avrei preso per pazzo. Ho mandato una mail ad un amico con il testo qui sopra e lui mi ha risposto: “una delle conseguenze della teoria delle stringhe e’ l’holographic principle, che dice che l’universo e’ una finta proiezione in più dimensioni di quelle reali. Un’illusione insomma. Ecco direi che e’ l’unica spiegazione”. Forse ha ragione il mio amico, e’ solo un sogno e magari mi sto per svegliare.

Good Bye Tsukiji​

Good Bye Tsukiji​

On October 11, 2018, Tsukiji fish market in central Tokyo will close down and the area where the market is located will quickly be redeveloped to become a transport hub for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Tsukiji market started operations in 1935 and is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It is also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market was portrayed in many popular movies, including 2012 Jiro Dreams of Sushi, that revealed to the world the unlikely saga of Jiro Ono, the 93 years old chef that runs a three-Michelin-starred Japanese sushi restaurant in Ginza.

Tuna auctions are maybe what Tsukiji is most known for. Throughout the day, intermediate wholesalers assess hundreds of fresh and frozen tuna before they go up for auction. Following a ritual unchanged for decades, they check fattiness of tail cross-sections in the dim light of their torch lamp and scribble down the lot number of the best animals. After the auction, tunas are cut using hand-crafted traditional knives and dispatched to the next ring of the supply chain.



The fish market will move to a new location in Toyosu waterfront district and precious space will become available in the heart of Tokyo. Since the plans were first unveiled, the project has been delayed multiple times. The last delay was due to concerns about consumers health after important quantities of chemicals had been found in the new Toyosu site.

Paradoxically, the urbanists that layout plans for the capital of the most traditional country on Earth seem not to care about symbols and legacy of old times. Ancient buildings are a very rare sight in Tokyo: many have been destroyed by Second World War bombings or earthquakes. Those that survived will likely be wiped away by Japanese passion for progress and novelty.


More travel photography on this blog


Other media on Tsukiji fish market

The incredible hands: a documentary on Tsukiji fish market and tuna wholesalers

Big Jet Plane

Big Jet Plane

I like Angus & Julia Stone because they are chill and have beautiful voices. It is the kind of music I want to listen when I’m at home for the first weekend in a long time and I’m laying on the sofa, while the warm sun filters through my living room window shade and caresses my cheek.

I definitely took too many planes in the last weeks. Every time the same routine, it seems normal. But flying is a miracle and recently inspired me a collection of pictures named “Airliners”.

Last Sunday, while my stereo was playing that relaxing music and I was enjoying the warmth of the sun filtering through the window shade, I suddenly started feeling creative. So I thought of asking Angus & Julia to lend their voices to my pictures and the result was this video.

https://youtu.be/8Gr6Jtdop7k

Floating wishes

Floating wishes

According to the Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, Thai word loi (ลอย) means “to float”, while krathong (กระทง) has various meanings, one of which is “a small container made of leaves which can be floated on water during the Loi Krathong festival”.


Loi Krathong falls on a full moon night, in November. Come the right time, Thais dress up in their best clothes and go in a place close to the water, a pond, a canal or a small lake will do, holding a little boat made of banana leaves. In the boat, they have put flowers and a candle. They light up the candle, set it afloat and make a wish while they look at the small thing going slowly away.

More travel photography on this blog

Airliners

Airliners

A famous quote by Richard Branson goes: “If you want to be a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline”. There is almost no rationale behind accomplished businessmen obsession to invest into a high-risk business like civil aviation.

Unfortunately, unlike Sir Richard, I am not wealthy enough to bet on airlines. Instead, I have moral concerns working in an industry that accounts for a huge share of the world greenhouse gas emissions; I hope technology improvements and regulations will one day inverse the trend and make air transportation environmentally sustainable. Nevertheless, having rubbed shoulders for years with airlines people and dragged my ass on the most unlikely commercial routes, I cannot avoid feeling sincere sympathy and admiration for those who carry our life around the world with care,  every day and in every season.

No airline is perfect: glitches appear here and there when closely looking at the fusion between the technological prowess of a 180 tons aircraft floating in thin air and the work of hundreds of persons allowing it to detach from the ground.


 


Ignore the glitches and consider how in only a few decades, civil aviation made accessible to the majority of people two of our most innate dreams: defeat gravity and go discover remote places.

Please restrain from displaying contempt to the stewardess showing the way to your seat while boarding your next delayed flight. It takes an amazing resilience to sustain the stares of the 160 annoyed passengers fitting in an Airbus A320, a remarkable humanity to smile and say “welcome onboard” to each of them and many weeks of exhausting training to make it sound so heartfelt.

In the blink of an eye, you’ll be floating in the sky and that is incredible. Forget the delay, sit down and relax. We hope you’ll enjoy your flight.


More travel photography on this blog

 

 

Let’s get lost – episode three

Let’s get lost – episode three

What happened so far?

In episode one, when told that I was going to Mongolia to meet some airline executives for my job, I decided to lose myself in the silent wilderness of that country. Before leaving I did some research and chose as destination a place that even Google Maps fails to locate, named Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve.

In episode two, after arriving in Ulaanbataar, I meet mysterious Mr. Batar, who delivers me a rugged Toyota Land Cruiser. On an early Saturday morning, I and my British workmate Mark leave the town; throughout the whole day, we will explore a scarcely inhabited territory while trying not to lose our track. We also become familiar with the solid beauty of Mongolian horses, roaming free in the wildland.


Being right there

In the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller plays a middle-class man, trapped in a 9 to 5 job he does not like anymore. For a succession of unforeseen circumstances, one day he quits his office and embarks on an adventure on the tracks of Sean O’Connell, a legend photographer who disappeared while hunting the animal whose image no-one has ever captured, the snow leopard.

When finally Walter Mitty meets Sean O’Connell on a frozen Himalayan ridge, the snow leopard is there, in the middle of the zoom lens, just one click away. Oddly, Sean O’Connell, although mesmerized by the unique vision, is not shooting, and this dialog happens:

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it [the snow leopard shot]?
Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O’Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here. It’s gone [the snow leopard]

In the strange days we live, when was last time we were “right there”? How much “right there” experience we allow ourselves in one of our average weeks? Are those moments something we look forward to, or we prefer to escape them and comfortably choose the distraction, being it social networks, messengers, noise, other people opinions, scary news on TV, information overflow, a job that does not excite us…

And so we are, me and Mark, my British workmate, in a place named Gun-Galuut, in Mongolia. For a whole day, we have been breathing fresh air and wandering across the vast grassland. Since the moment we entered the Nature Reserve, every trace of human presence has vanished. We continue venturing deeper into this unknown territory, using the profile of the hills or the clouds in the sky to locate ourselves and hoping we will be able to find our way back. All around us, Mongolian horses roam peaceful and free.


 

 


The track becomes rougher and now insinuates at the feet of low promontories, covered with sharp rock fragments. Afternoon sun is going down and the lights around us change, giving the landscape a more dramatic pitch. I decide to look for a viewpoint and see on our left a steep path leading to the edge of a higher hill, possibly accessible to our Toyota. The full power of our four-wheel drive is barely sufficient to climb our way to the top. The car pants and progresses slowly as we gain altitude and approach the end of the ascent. Finally, we get there; I stop the car, turn off the engine,  pull the handbrake and get off, followed by Mark. We are on level ground now: in front of us, the upwards path that took us there finishes into a vertical rocky wall. On the right, at a distance of about fifty meters, we see a natural terrace ending on a cliff top and I start walking in that direction, instinctively attracted by the panoramic opening.

As I get closer, my point of view changes and a chain of mountains starts to appear at a great distance. I am maybe twenty meters away when I see the horse and, at first, I do not understand. He lays on the ground, on a side, you would tell that he sleeps but he is dead. It had to happen not long before, as the hair is still shiny and the body is in a perfect state, except for a little scar on the head, probably caused by a scavenger bird.

Now I am just next to the dead horse and appreciate the harmony of his figure. While I walk around him, the first thing that awakens irrational thoughts is the position of the body. It lies exactly at the middle of the half-circle shaped terrace; his head looks at the view opening from the height of the cliff on hundreds of kilometers of emptiness.

I look at Mark, who has not made it to the terrace and is standing a dozen meters away, staring in my direction.

The second thing is the ascent and how hard I had to push the Land Cruiser in order to get there. For a dying animal, that had to be a hell of an effort.

The wind blows and the sun has gone down; the air is chilled now.

The third thing is the dead horse position, the effort to get there, the absolute majesty of the landscape.

I keep turning slowly around him, observing the scene from many angles, immersed in my thoughts. The view in front of me is the most beautiful I have ever seen. Far ahead, hundreds of identical peaks, crowned by bright white clouds rise up to the sky. The physical space between the dead horse and the mountains is an immense empty prairie where the animal lived in freedom from the very moment he first stood on the ground to his last day when he decided to climb there and look at all that again from a height.

As I continue standing right there, in front of that mystical scene, lights and composition remind me the most accomplished Caravaggio paintings. I have my camera with me, in my backpack and I am looking at award-winning photography material but there is something bigger around me on that cliff and I just want to stay in it.

I look at the horse for the last time, then I look at the far away mountains, turn around and walk away. When I pass by Mark, he follows me and asks: “What do we do?”. I can only tell: “We go home, man. We go home now”.