Feb 232015
 
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Coots on a tire

Coots on a tire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems that all I do on here anymore is bitch.  And it is sounding like a broken freaking record.  But it is something posted at least.  Here is the deal.  Cantakerous Old Coots is darn near a one person operation from Ralph.  I put some stuff in once in a while.  Bob has been MIA while working through his various programs and computer problems.

So some input, what should we do with the Coots?  I am sure that Ralph is getting tired of being the only Cantankerous one here, and I am not sure about his commitment to Cantankerosity after that Venice trip.  He may need some more time to revive that cantankerous attitude.

As for me, I am trying to get back in the writing saddle all over the board.  I ostensibly call myself a writer and creator of web content but I am resting on my laurels from the past.  So, if you are reading this, tell me what you would like to see from the Coots.  New content daily?  A break from Ralph?  Podcast revive?  Bob’s politics?  More News? More Hansi?

That comment section down there has been more active in the past couple of weeks than it has in a while.  Keep it up.  Let us know what the people want.  While this is far from a democracy here, we will listen to your suggestions and implement or reject as needed.  You all just have to let us know.  We will be anxiously awaiting, well more like just sitting here doing something else waiting for comments to come in and enlighten us.

You all can do it.  Just a few words down there.  In the comments.  you know at the bottom.

More to come…..

-Justin

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Justin

Justin is the young Coot with a Cantankerous Soul who continues to be educated by older, more cootish Ralph and Bob. His Cantankerosity is his own.

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Feb 232015
 
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Foreign countries are strange

One of the big hangups about traveling, particularly traveling abroad is dealing with the strange customs of foreigners. It is as if just living somewhere foreign gives them permission to be strange. Go figure! Some of if is charming. Who doesn’t love the idea of gondolas and seranading gondoliers? And who can resist the romance when ordinary objects get translated into Italian.

English: Tripe in an Italian market. Some tast...

Image via Wikipedia

Ordinary stuff becomes magical in another language. Still there are risks. you can order something uneatable, like tripe, without knowing. Europeans seem to value tripe much higher than Americans perhaps because it sounds so sexy. It is hard to remember sometimes that the people eating that tripe aren’t Americans. And tripe remains stomach no matter what language you speak.

Ah, there is the problem. Continue reading »

Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Jul 292014
 
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Official seal of County of Placer

Image via Wikipedia

The Coots News Service does bi-coastal one better this week. CNS is going bi-continental with a news story from our home in California and one from Venice Italy where we will be vacationing for the next few weeks. (Can’t be sure about CNS for this interlude.  Bob says become a foreign correspondent and deduct the trip.  I’m not sure.  It is a vacation for Pete’s sake and maybe Bob will actually have to to some work around here.  You will just have to wait in eager anticipation.  Even I don’t know.) Both stories are bad news but let’s start with the one close to home. It’s an example of just how looney things can get in these modern times . Usually looney and California are associated very closely together  but parts of California are more prone to looniness than others. What stands out with this story is that the town considering this new ban is located in the most conservative county in the state.  If there is reason and principal anywhere in California, it ought to be in Placer County.

Rocklin California is upper middle class suburban lifestyle personified in a county that consistently votes conservative. That the City fathers would even consider a city-wide smoking ban just demonstrates how far the demonization of smoking has gone and how insane the anti-smoking people are. The issue was initiated by a woman who claims that her house is infiltrated with  second hand smoke from her neighbors who just happen to smoke in their own yard.

It is, of course obvious that this woman is a nut job of monumental stature.  She clearly has lost any ability to reason or use logic. She has been indoctrinated by the health wackos about the dangers of second hand smoke to the point of obsession. What is terrifying for the future of California is that elected officials are paying any attention to her. The woman is a laughing stock and should be publicly ridiculed. Instead they are considering infringing on property rights by criminalizing smoking on your own property. Is this America or the Soviet Union?  Will we let crazy people control what we do?  Apparently the City fathers in Rocklin will not protect us from loons.

CALIFORNIA TOWN CONSIDERING TOTAL OUTDOOR SMOKING BAN — EVEN ON PRIVATE PROPERTY

interior of the airport of Venice, Italy

Crowds in the Marco Polo Airport Image via Wikipedia

On the other side of the pond in Venice, Italy where my wife and I will be spending the next two weeks, City fathers are happy to welcome more airline connections with Marco Polo Airport. Venice is highly dependent on tourists to keep itself above water but enough is enough. In high season, the city is overrun with people trying to see all the sights. It is hard to see how adding more will make the economy better. At some point, people will say no more and go elsewhere. Already the city is trying to get control over the huge tour ships that dock in Venice. Why encourage more planes?

Venice launches 9 new international flights

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Jul 072014
 
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Travel is broadening

At least that’s what I hear. That may be true but this coot came back a few pounds lighter than when I left on my trip. Whether it is due to all that walking, I can’t say. I do know that there was plenty of great food to eat in Venice but I kept it under control.

I don’t think that’s the real meaning of the saying however. I think they are talking about understanding people and customs as much as your waistline and I did discover some interesting things about Italians that bear serious consideration, like those long lunches. Other aspects of the Italian lifestyle leave me bewildered however. And they seem to center around the bathroom.

Venetians seemed pretty normal

In spite of the exotic environment but once I saw the bathroom in the Venice apartment, I started looking over the men pretty carefully. They seemed to have the usual equipment in the usual places but you would never know it from the convenience I found in our bathroom. I finally reached an accommodation about how to use the darn thing but they sure didn’t make it easy.

Yeah, I do know about those bidet things and I strongly believe that the left side of my device might be one of them. I always thought I knew what they were for but close examination left me baffled about how to use it. I didn’t worry about it because those things are for women but I was still curious. Thinking that my wife would automatically know what to do with it, I asked her. “Beats me.” she said. “There is no seat so I just left it alone.” No help from her.

I played with the controls without a single insight. It looks like a waste of good money to me but I’m not here to judge. There must be some secret that Italian women learn and keep to themselves. After all, if it was any good, every American bathroom would have one. No need to make it my problem.

a Venetian crapper

What would you do with this thing?

It’s the other half of that thing that really bugs me. I know what it’s for. What I can’t figure out is how in the world is a man supposed to use it. Let me explain.

Toilets in America are designed to accommodate men and women with their different equipment. What that means is that toilet bowls are generally oval or at worst round. The little beauty in our apartment was indeed oval but it was oval in the wrong dimension (wide rather than deep) providing no accommodation for male apparatus and making taking care of business much more complex and messy.

I was unable to discuss this problem with any Italians due to my inability to speak Italian but I found myself examining the anatomies of Italian men. Were they built different from American’s? I could see that they are generally shorter but I can’t believe that that is the explanation In addition, in spite of our stereotypes, Italian men (or at least Venetians) are generally lean. Short and skinny might work on that toilet but unless Italian men are assembled differently, I don’t believe it helps that much. There is just no way to sit on that thing and do your business when it involves both number one and number two without leaving a puddle on the floor. I can’t believe that this is what anybody wants.

My solution to this problem was to stand for number one and sit for number two. It isn’t what I’m used to and certainly not my preference but not having to clean the bathroom floor was a sufficient reward. I had an opportunity to experience other bathrooms in Venice and discovered that in public places, men were not provided a bidet. And I discovered that there are some toilets that provide the proper accommodation for the male anatomy to sit comfortably. I feel much better about Italians as a result.

Whatever the criteria involved in selecting the bathroom equipment in our apartment, it seems that Italians are normal human beings after all. It does make we wonder about our hosts- the American owners of the apartment we rented. It may not be an Italian problem after all.

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Cocktails in Venice

 Posted by at 03:53  Reflections
Feb 062013
 
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Feeling Mellow.

Nothing too cantankerous for today.  I’m still remembering how pleasant it can be sipping a refreshing libation in a sidewalk cafe in Venice.  Bella!

Typical Venetian coctail Spritz, as it is prep...

Typical Venetian coctail Spritz, as it is prepared in Bistrot de Venice, calle dei Fabbri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drinking wine in Italy just seems natural. Hard liquor just isn’t right. Sometimes back home, I need a solid libation like a Martini at the end of a day. Not in Venice. A glass of wine at lunch. Maybe an ombra mid afternoon and then some wine and chicceti to hold you over until the ridiculously late Italian dinner hour. Wine can be white or red like at home. But there is also the Italian sparkling wine called prosecco. Without the pretension (and the price of French champagne) it is a refreshing pick me up anytime. In Venice you can find it everywhere. The message is simple and clear. You can and should enjoy prosecco often, by the glass, by the bottle or in a mixed drink, an Italian cocktail.

 

I was already sold on prosecco. What surprised me was the ways Venetians used it. They don’t just stop at drinking it straight. They mix it in a cocktail. I discovered that there are two signature cocktails in Venice- both using prosecco- the Bellini and the Spritz. Nothing provides a deeper insight into the Venetian mind than a comparison of those two drinks. They are as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

 

Nothing in my life had prepared me for either drink but we intended the Venice trip as full exposure to the Venetian lifestyle and we had to try them both. We already liked prosecco (the common ingredient for both drinks) so why would we not like the cocktails. Billa, the neighborhood supermarket in our Venice neighborhood stocked bottles of pre-made Belinins and we bought some on our first visit. They were pleasant enough but not anything to write home about. It wasn’t until we stopped into a bar near Rialto later in our visit that we had a chance to experience a real Bellini and watch a master craftsman carefully preparing the beautiful elixirs. We found the Bellinni’s delicious. They were fresh, fruity and sparkling. Bellini’s are indeed sublime.

 

Start with the prosecco

Then carefull add the peach nectar

Then carefully add the peach nectar

Glass by glass

by glass

Then another afternoon we tried a spritz. We stopped in at a small bar in our local square after an afternoon exploring. I ordered spritz’s for us and the waitress asked if we wanted Campari or Aperol. I didn’t have a clue which to choose- and there was no point in trying to ask so I said Campari. I had at least heard of Campari even though I had no idea what it tasted like. I was soon to find out that Campari has quite a medicinal overlay. I expected a light, refreshing drink and found myself sipping bitter herbs. The drink was garnished with an orange slice and an olive leaving me to wonder why anyone would waste good prosecco in such a concoction. It is nearly undrinkable.

 

Later on I realized that the spritz is the perfect drink for the restaurant/bars you find all over Venice. You have to buy something to be allowed to sit but once you buy something, you can sit there as long as you want. With most drinks, I sip away and before long I’m calling the waiter over for a refill. Those view tables in the squares can be pretty pricy and before you know it the travel budget it seriously strained. Not when you are drinking a Spritz. One spritz can last me forever. My wife didn’t even finish hers and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon sitting in the square for cheap, one drink was plenty.

 

I hear that Aperol is less medicinal but for me the bloom is off the spritz. I’ll just stick to an ombra of prosecco or a Bellini from now on.

 

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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