Saturday, March 18, 2023

Street Sign Language Lesson XL

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Wow, our 40th Street Sign Language Lesson ™. Here are a few signs that we’ve spotted recently that we found intrigued us or stumped us.

fondo sconnesso – uneven surface/road

[1] fondo sconnesso – uneven surface/road

sconnesso is the past participle of sconnettere – to disconnect. But in the sense here, it’s uneven road, and watch out for bumps and holes. A related term is strada dissestata. We saw sign this near Astino in Bergamo.

gratta e sosta – scratch and park

[2] gratta e sosta – scratch and park

When we first saw this, we thought what does the scratch and win lottery ticket (Gratta e vinci) have to do with parking!? Ah, sostare (sosta – third person singular) - to park. Grattare (gratta – third person singular) - to scratch. We saw this on a hike in Valzurio, see A Sunday Hike in Valzurio. At trailheads, it’s common to have to buy a ticket to park – gratta e sosta – where you scratch the time day and time you park.

But wait, it’s not gratta e vince – with vince the third person singular of vincere – to win? It’s scratch and you win (vinci). That’s optimistic we’d say since most people lose!?

guarnizione – seal or gasket guarnizione – seal or gasket

[3] guarnizione – seal or gasket

We saw this in the cluttered and charming hardware store in Città Alta, Piccola Ferramenta di Città Alta. The owner knows exactly which of the innumerable piles of stuff to move to find what he’s looking for.


[4] E’ veramente importante per non intasare, non buttare carta nei pisciatoi. Eventualmente sgorlire una volta di più (fino a tre si può fare). – Don't block the urinal with paper. If necessary, shake your (penis) one more time. You can do it up to three times."

An Italian friend had to explain this sign to us. Sgorlire is dialect for scuotere. This sign was above a urinal (pisciatoio) in a Malga Valbiolo (a rifugio), Passo Tonale. Here's a hike we did to that rifugio in case you are interested in seeing it yourself: Two Late Winter Hikes Near Ponte di Legno, Italy.


[5] Il Sacrario Militare del Tonale – The Military Memorial of Tonale

It's hard to think about war with everyone having fun skiing. The movement of people and ski lifts, booming music, and people looking cool waiting for après-ski. But there it is, a war memorial to remind you of once upon a time. On top, Vittoria alata.

We are still at Passo Tonale with this sign, at the base of the ski runs. This pass and surrounding valleys were the site of WWI fighting between the Austrians and Italians. Inside the memorial (sacrario), the remains of 858 bodies of fallen Italians and 59 unknown soldiers, referred to as bodies - le salme and remains - le spoglie.

This memorial was inaugurated in 1931 by Vittorio Emmanuele III.

no pipì no popò - No dog pee or poo (here)

[6] no pipì no popò - No dog pee or poo (here)

Back in Bergamo for this sign. We weren’t sure these words were made up but has them as colloquial words: pipì and popò.

smarrita cagna – lost dog (feminine)

[7] smarrita cagna di 16 anni, sente pochissimo e cammina male, se qualcuno la trovasse è pregato di chiamare il numero – lost 16-year-old dog, she doesn't hear and walk well, anyone who should find her is kindly asked to call the number

We don’t even have a dog but keep an eye out for these lost dog signs. Poor old girl, cagna. 

ultime rocchette per ricamo a machina – Latest bobbins for machine embroidery (needlework)

[8] ultime rocchette per ricamo a machina – Latest bobbins for machine embroidery (needlework)

Is there an error in the gender of rocchetto? We think so. We saw this in one of our favorite way-back stores in the center of Bergamo, Praderio Mario dal 1917 (Casa della Lana). Going into that store is like stepping back in time (100 years to be precise). Maybe the gender of bobbins changed since then?

Two Late Winter Hikes Near Ponte di Legno, Italy

At the start of the trail, a commemorative sculpture for theVal Cané and view south toward the Adamello Group.
Left: At the start of the trail, a commemorative sculpture for the "witches of Tonale". Witches were said to have practiced their witchcraft in these hills. There were two public burnings of witches (mostly female and some male) in the 1500s in Val Camonica. Over 100 people were killed. Right: Val Cané and view south toward the Adamello Group.

We recently spent a weekend in Ponte di Legno skiing and walking. In this post, we’ll talk about two easy hikes we did, good for late winter season. We’ve visited Ponte di Legno four times over the last few years, each time for a few days, usually for skiing. Each time, we find more to do and more restaurants to try. It’s a place worth visiting.


Where are these hikes? Both hikes are near Ponte di Legno, a small comune of less than 2,000 people. It’s located in Lombardy Italy, about a 2.5 hour drive due northeast from Bergamo. While Ponte di Legno is a summer and winter destination spot (note number of shuttered homes at any given time), it still retains some of its charm as a town with people who live and work there. The old town is centered around the confluence of the Frigidolfo and Narcanello rivers, which give birth to the Oglio River. The Oglio passes through Lago Iseo and like all water in the north of Italy empties into the mighty Po River.

Getting there? You can reach Ponte di Legno on public transport. We’ve done it twice on public transport. Once, we did it all by bus from Bergamo (with two changes). That took about 3-4 hours – not much longer than by car, 2 hours without trafffic. And once, we arrived by train from Bergamo to Brescia to Edolo. We took a break at Edolo for a lunch at La Corte di Bacco. From Edolo to Ponte di Legno, it’s a bus. There is also a direct bus from Milan (Sesto San Giovanni), passing through Bergamo Airport. From Ponte di Legno, you can take a small bus up to Passo Tonale or the cable car.

Surroundings? Ponte di Legno is located between two major parks: to the north Parco di Stelvio and to the south Parco Adamello. Even in the center of Ponte di Legno, it feels like you are close to nature. Walking in the compact city center’s winding streets and crossing numerous bridges, you are never far from the sound of rushing water. Look up, and there is almost 360 degrees of mountains and trees. You can walk right out of town on numerous pleasurable walks or serious hikes.

Hike 1: Malga Valbiolo

: 2 hours, going and returning (doesn’t include time for lunch)
Elevation: 440 m (1,440 ft), start at 1,900 m (6,230 ft), finish at 2,340 m (7,680 ft)
Length: 7 km roundtrip

Our first hike was up to Malga Valbiolo, above Passo Tonale. We love eating at this rifugio on a popular ski run. Usually, we are skiing, and we stop there for lunch. Today, we walk up.

To get there, either take the cable car (Cabinovia Ponte di Legno – Tonale) from Ponte di Legno up to Tonale, and then walk to the base of the Valbiolo ski lift (Seggovia Valbiolo - location). From there, follow the small road up to Opsizio San Bartolomeo and grab a coffee. (Be sure to see the commemorative sculpture about the witch trials of the 1500s in Val Camonica. Very interesting.) From San Bartolomeo, just follow the signs up. (Alternatively, drive up and park at the base of the Valbiolo ski lift.)

From Opsizio San Bartolomeo, follow the signage for “Malga Valbiolo”. The trail was covered in snow the higher up we went. Sometimes we missed the trail and followed the snowshoe trail for a bit. The trail markers list the trail as “111”.

Walking up to Malga Valbiolo and toward Passo Contrabbandieri. Walking up to Malga Valbiolo and toward Passo Contrabbandieri.
Walking up to Malga Valbiolo and toward Passo Contrabbandieri.

View from trail south toward Presanella Group. View from trail south toward Presanella Group.
View from trail south toward Presanella Group.

Food at Malga Valbiolo.Sign for trail 111 for Malga Valbiolo in Passo Tonale.To get to the rifugio you pass under the ski lift.
Left: Food at Malga Valbiolo. Center: Sign for trail 111 for Malga Valbiolo in Passo Tonale. Right: To get to the rifugio you pass under the ski lift.

A commemorative sculpture near Ospizio San Bartolomeo telling of the story of two witch trials in Val Camonica in the 1500s. Witches (mostly woman and some men) were reported to come to this area on Passo Tonale to practice their witchcraft. A commemorative sculpture near Ospizio San Bartolomeo telling of the story of two witch trials in Val Camonica in the 1500s. Witches (mostly woman and some men) were reported to come to this area on Passo Tonale to practice their witchcraft. A commemorative sculpture near Ospizio San Bartolomeo telling of the story of two witch trials in Val Camonica in the 1500s. Witches (mostly woman and some men) were reported to come to this area on Passo Tonale to practice their witchcraft.
A commemorative sculpture near Ospizio San Bartolomeo telling of the story of two witch trials in Val Camonica in the 1500s. Witches (mostly woman and some men) were reported to come to this area on Passo Tonale to practice their witchcraft.

Hike 2: Val Canè

: 2.25 hours, going and return, a few stops for a sip of water
Elevation: 460 m (1,510 ft), start at 1,540 m (5,050 ft), turn around at 2,000 m (6,560 ft)
Length: 9 km roundtrip

Our second hike was up Val Canè (Val di Canè), an alpine valley in the Province of Brescia, in upper Val Camonica. The valley is just a few minutes south of Ponte di Legno and is within the Stelvio National Park. This small valley begins north of the village of the same name and ends at 3,228 m with the Punta di Pietra Rossa. After passing through the village there is a parking lot (location) at the trail head at 1,540 m. (We only reached 2,000 m before turning around following trail “165”.)

Start of trail 165 to Val CanéStart of trail 165 to Val CanéLichen in the snowExample of trail signage on way to Val Cané.
Left and center left: Start of trail 165 to Val Cané. Center right: Lichen. Right: Example of trail signage on way to Val Cané.

View north toward the pass in Val Cané. View south from the tail toward the Adamello group.
Left: View north toward the pass in Val Cané. Right: View south from the tail toward the Adamello group.

Little snow in the beginning, and more snow the higher you go. Little snow in the beginning, and more snow the higher you go.
Trail shots. Little snow in the beginning, and more snow the higher you go in Val Canè.

Aesthetically pleasing roads leading to mountains.Aesthetically pleasing roads leading to mountains.
Aesthetically pleasing roads leading to mountains in Val Cané.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Travelmarx Music Picks - Spring 2023 – Los(t) Days and Desert Echoes

Composite image of 25 albums featured in the Travelmarx Spring 2023 playlist
Composite image of 25 albums featured in the Travelmarx Spring 2023 playlist. Theme: desert and lost days.

We’ve been staying close to home, savoring our new place and all the effort that went to move into it. (See An International Move Story - Advice and Tips for Moving Your Household Goods from the US to Italy.) There are days where we don’t step out the front door and time stands still: lost days. Lost days but not in a bad way.

A friend recently purchased a second house in (and has practically moved to) Palm Springs. She is like many we know from Seattle. Are we destined to become the snowbirds we turned our noses up at when younger? Growing up on the East Coast, the snowbird destination of choice was Florida. The affluent north goes goes south; the less affluent south goes north. Koyaanisqatsi? (One of our favorite soundtracks.)

Listening to our Palm Springs friend and her adventures takes our minds to the desert. However, we think of a different desert. The Palm Springs area is nice but further south is where it gets interesting, down into Imperial Valley. The Salton Sea's wasted beaches, the dry dusty agricultural areas south of the sea, the sand dunes, the slabs, and Salvation Mountain are where we have spent a lot of time. And not to forget the special quesadilla! This play list is for our time and memories there.

In this playlist expect slow reverb guitar, pedal and twangy guitar, and a touch of cumbria with the likes of Los Days, Marisa Anderson, Opez, Hermanos Gutiérrez, Tommy Guerrero, Adrian Quesada, North Americans, Jake Xerxes Fussell, KATZROAR, Nicola Cruz, RICEWINE. There are two Italian artists in this playlist: Opez and Roberto Musci. (Spotify link.)

Hermanos Gutiérrez – “Hijos del Sole”
Los Days, Tommy Guerrero – “Travelling Light”
Marissa Anderson – “Into the Light”
Opez – “Balera De Mar”
Adrian Quesada – “Noble Metals”

North Americans – “Classic Water”
Jake Xerxes Fussell – “Frolic”
Skúli Sverrisson – “Instants”
Misha Panfilov Sound Combo – “Together”
KATZROAR – “Pomegranate Seeds”

Nicola Cruz – “La Mirada”
RICEWINE – “Photo”
Curls – “Golden Gate”
Jeffrey Silverstein – “Trip Sitter”
Gitkin – “El Millonario”

Gene Sikora – “A Song for Mary”
Tommy Guerrero – “Zapata's Boots”
Monster Rally – “Niñas De La Selva”
Roberto Musci – “Water Music” - Love me some Roberto Musci!
Skinshape - “Behind the Sun”

Tommy Guerrero - “By the Sea at the End of the World”
Will Van Horn - “Lost My Mind”
Jerkcurb - “Midnight Snack”
Orions Belte - “Bean”
Desmond Cheese - “Morning Glory”

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Lights On Bergamo Installation – Dialog(ue) translation nit

Lights On installation at night, in Pizza della Libertà Bergamo.Lights On installation at night, in Pizza Libertà Bergamo.
Lights On installation at night, in Pizza della Libertà Bergamo.

We love this (unfortunately) temporary installation in Piazza della Libertà of Bergamo. Why? This piazza and surrounding buildings, especially the Palazzo della Libertà and its stark and imposing front, have always left us kind of cold. Add to that, a fountain in the middle of the piazza that is so large that you can’t even see into it. You must look up. Unapproachable. Not to the scale of humans. Who designed this?

A little history

The Palazzo della Libertà was completed in 1940 and was the headquarters of the National Fascist Party. It was designed by Alziro Bergonzo (1906 – 1997), an Italian architect who worked in the style called Stile Littorio. (This style refers to an architectural language developed in Italy in the 1930s that featured many public buildings commissioned by the Fascist regime until its fall.)

So, I guess we are not big fans of this architectural style with its monumental scale, purposely not human-scale, and we would say slightly pretentious appearance. There are aspects of it that are pleasing but on the whole it's off-putting.

Enter this light installation Lights On Bergamo - Objects of Common Interest sponsored by the Confindustria Bergamo for 2023’s Cultural Capital Celebration in which Brescia and Bergamo are the hosts. The installation softens the piazza. Steps are added so you can climb up to the fountain. A series of light tubes softens the front of the palazzo. On the whole, everything is more approachable, more to human scale. We are not sure the Fascist Party or Bergonzo would agree, but we would love for this installation to stick around.

A translation nit

Reading the information about the exhibit that was presented on site, we saw a common pattern used in translating Italian to English. Here are the original (assuming Italian was source) and translated (English) descriptions with the part in bold that we take issue with.

Italian: Objects of Common Interest è stata invitata a proporre un'installazione artistica in occasione di Capitale della Cultura 2023 che vede Brescia e Bergamo assumere il ruolo di "città illuminata". La proposta mira ad integrare quattro temi chiave: città e natura, tesori nascosti, la città che inventa e la cultura come cura. L'obiettivo è quello di definire la visione di un territorio attrattivo e consapevole delle proprie potenzialità. Bergamo dialoga con la modernità, partendo dai suoi punti di forza — la radice manifatturiera e il forte senso di appartenenza - e li coniuga con i valori dell'innovazione e della sostenibilità economica, sociale e ambientale, grazie anche alla capacità evocativa dei linguaggi dell'arte e della cultura.

English: Objects of Common Interest were invited to propose an intervention for 2023's Cultural Capital which sees Brescia and Bergamo take the title of the 'illuminated city'. The proposal in response seeks to integrate four key themes: city and nature, hidden treasures, the city that invents and culture as a cure. The aim is to define a new vision for an attractive territory aware of its potential. Bergamo dialogues with modernity, starting from its strengths - manufacturing roots and sense of belonging - and combines them with the values of innovation and with economic, social and environmental sustainability, thanks also to the evocative capacity of art and culture as languages.

In Italian, the phrase Bergamo dialoga is translated as “Bergamo dialogues with”. This translations sounds strange in English. What about “Bergamo interacts with” or “Bergamo engages with”? Yes, dialogue is technically correct as a verb, but who uses it commonly? Beyond that, we can’t tell you how many installation or exhibition descriptions we’ve seen where the "work of art” dialogues with “you” or it’s “surroundings”. Curators and writers use this wording when they can’t find anything concrete to say, or anything to say in plain English.

So, let’s put our money where our mouths are and give you our translation. Items in bold are our additions and deviate from official translation.

English (our translation): The studio Objects of Common Interest was invited to present an installation for Italy’s Capital of Culture 2023 where Brescia and Bergamo take on the role of “illuminated city”. The resulting work integrates four key themes: city and nature, hidden treasures, a city that invents, and culture as a cure. The aim is to define a new vision for an economically dynamic region aware of its potential. Bergamo embraces the future, building on its strengths – its manufacturing roots and a sense of community – combining them with innovation and economic, social, and environmental sustainability thanks to the evocative power of the language of art and culture.

* Dynamic in the sense of attracting business not beauty. See AttrACT - Accordi per l’attrattività.


The description of the Lights On installation in Italian and English.The description of the Lights On installation in Italian and English.
The description of the Lights On installation in Italian and English.

Under the portico of Palazzo della Libertà in Bergamo, with moon. Lights On installation at night.
Left: Under the portico of Palazzo della Libertà in Bergamo, with moon. Right: Lights On installation at night.

The Piazza della Libertà on a gray day in Bergamo, Italy - with Chiesa di San Marco belltower visible. The unforgiving geometry of the Piazza della Libertà broken just a little by the Lights On installation.
Left: The Piazza della Libertà on a gray day in Bergamo, Italy - with Chiesa di San Marco belltower visible. Right: The unforgiving geometry of the Piazza della Libertà broken just a little by the Lights On installation. 

The Light On installation winding light tubes.
The Light On installation winding light tubes.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

20 Frasi Fatte – 20 Catchphrases (Clichés) in Italian Starting with the Letters B - E

Italian Catchphrases - Frasi Fatte - Starting with B through E - Memes
Italian Catchphrases - Frasi Fatte - Starting with B through E - Memes: Sono alla frutta, al verde, braccino corto.

This post is a continuation of our previous post, 20 Frasi Fatte – 20 Catchphrases (Clichés) in Italian Starting with the Letter A. Here we cover phrases starting with B, C, D and E.


Once, when talking with an Italian friend, he criticized someone for always using frasi fatte, that is, lacking originality in her speech. Frasi fatte translates literally to "made phrases", or more exactly “platitudes”, “clichés” or very literally “set phrases” or "catch phrases". Instinctively, I knew what frase fatte meant as soon as it was uttered without looking it up. I thought, wow, if I could only speak Italian with frasi fatte, I’d be quite happy!

The more we investigated frasi fatte, the more we realized that studying these phrases could be useful for English speakers trying to learn Italian. In this post, we include some frasi fatte starting with “B", "C", "D", and "E". 

The list we’re drawing from is the Wikipedia page Glossario delle frasi fatte.

The List

The list contains examples from news headlines and in a few case text inside the articles referenced.

1. baciamo le mani – Typical idiom of the South of Italy, and in particular of Sicily, when, as a sign of respect and submission, people actually kissed the hand of a lady or anyone considered by the community to be a powerful character, both economically and politically. In time, the phrase came into common use, as a sign of reverence and respect.

Example: Da “Baciamo le mani” a “Cosa nostra”: almeno 300 ristoranti hanno un nome che ricorda la mafia.

2.baciarsi i gomiti – When the seemingly impossible happens as in kissing both elbows.

Example: Follia in via Repubblica: pugni e spallate ai passanti. Ed ecco spiegato il «baciarsi i gomiti» del marito: un automobilista ha avuto la prontezza di riflessi - e la fortuna insieme - di riuscire a evitarla.

3. bastone tra le ruote – An obstacle that prevents something or someone from moving forward.

Example: L’annus horribilis e il futuro incerto dell’idroelettrico europeo. La carenza di precipitazioni significative e le temperature elevate hanno messo il bastone tra le ruote a diverse centrali nucleari del nostro continente, specialmente in Francia.

4. braccino corto – To be frugal, miserly.

Example: "Una doccia alla settimana": l'avarizia è maltrattamento. Dalla mano morta al braccino corto la differenza è poca, pochissima, quasi impercettibile.

5. buco nell’acqua – Useless action, dead end.

Example: Non è Angela Celentano: negativi i test del dna sulla ragazza sudamericana, ennesimo buco nell’acqua.

6. caccia alle streghe – Witch hunt.

Example: J.K. Rowling, transfobia o caccia alle streghe?

7. campa cavallo – Said when something desired is postponed indefinitely. The expression comes from the traditional proverb "campa cavallo che l'erba cresce", which means you don’t know what the horse will eat waiting for the grass to grow. The original proverb is shortened to use just “campa cavallo” and can also have the meaning of “fat chance”.

Example: Catania, viaggio tra incompiute e palazzi abbandonati. Nelle idee della Regione c’è anche il recupero del pregevole palazzo settecentesco del Vaccarini, il cui prospetto si affaccia sulla nuova piazza. Secondo il piano generale l’edificio deve diventare la nuova sede della Sovrintendenza. Ma campa cavallo. L’unica novità è che l’opera è stata assegnata e dovrebbe essere realizzata in poco più di 365 giorni.

8. casalingha di Voghera – An expression used journalistically to represent a stereotypical segment of the bourgeois Italian population. An expression coined by Alberto Arbasino.

Example: Greenwashing, la solitudine della casalinga di Voghera, il profitto e il senso di impotenza che mi assale.

9. col senno di poi – In retrospect; in hindsight.

Example: Karima el Mahroug: col senno di poi, oggi non tornerei ad Arcore.

10. cose turche – Unacceptable actions; unheard of actions.

Example: Le cose turche della Turchia sugli uiguri dello Xinjiang.

11. darci dentro – Go all out; get on with it; suck it up; dig in.

Example: San Valentino, il menù perfetto con le ricette degli chef. L’idea è quella di non esagerare con le quantità, ma di darci dentro con gli ingredienti di qualità.

12. dare di matto – Freak out; go crazy; flip out.

Example: Straniero dà di matto, neutralizzato da un cittadino e dalla Polizia.

13. darsela a gambe – Escape; make run for it.

Example: Investe un animale selvatico a Crevacuore e se la dà a gambe.

14. di nicchia – Niche.

Example: RossoRaro, un’azienda di nicchia come il prodotto che produce: lo zafferano.

15. dirne (o farne) di tutti i colori – To say (or do harm) without restraint; to let loose on someone or something; put someone through the mill.

Example: Berlusconi “I comunisti me ne hanno fatte di tutti i colori”.

16. editto bulgaro – Often referred to as the “Bulgarian Diktat”, this term came from a statement by Silvio Berlusconi who at the time was the Prime Minister of Italy in 2002. In the statement, he complained about the behavior of people in the Italian media system. Those people were soon removed from the air (and their jobs). The statement was made in Bulgaria. An edict.

Example: "Un vero editto bulgaro dai vescovi marchigiani"

17. errore sesquipedale – A huge error, a gigantic mistake.

Example: Verstappen, team radio di fuoco: “Che c***o succede?”. Una pole position accarezzata, forse anche meritata, ma volata via per colpa di un errore sesquipedale da parte della Red Bull.

18. essere alla canna del gas – Be desperate, like arriving at the point where – unfortunately common at one time – to take one’s life with cooking gas.

Example: Il grido degli agricoltori : "Siamo alla canna del gas".

19. essere all frutta – On the ropes; last ditch effort.

Example: I conservatori inglesi sono alla frutta.

20. essere al verde – Left without money.

Example: Bolt irriconoscibile, la truffa milionaria lo ha devastato: “Tutti sanno che ho tre figli”. Bolt ha voluto chiarire di non essere "al verde", anche se sarà costretto a rivedere i suoi programmi...

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Split Personality of Italian Words Starting with Para – Block, Prevent, Stop or Alongside

Graphic showing some Italian words starting with the prefix para and falling into two different categories of meaning.
Graphic showing some Italian words starting with the prefix para and falling into two different categories of meaning.

It started when our Italian friends’ three year old decided I should read a Cars book to him, in Italian. And while I protested, he insisted. No sooner did I start on page one than I ran into the word paraurti. First, I could barely pronounce it and then I couldn’t figure out what it was. We both started laughing.

For the rest of the weekend, the three year old kept repeating to me “paraurti paraurti paraurti” in a sing-song perfect Italian accent (that I’ll never achieve)! Paraurti are bumpers or fenders.

Well, that incident got me thinking about Italian words that start with para and what’s up with them. In this post, I show there are two broad classes of para words. Para by itself is the third person singular form of the verb parare – to block or parry. Besides that, we can turn to Treccani para – 1 definition. It roughly says: “Para is the first element of numerous compound words, generally indicating objects that serve to repair, to protect from what is indicated by the second element.” Examples of these words are shown below in MEANING 1 and include paraurti. It's fairly easy to understand how these words work.

There is a second family of para-words described by the Treccani para – 2 definition. It is a more complicated definition roughly summed up as: “The para prefix of many compound words derived from Greek or formed modernly, mean both spatial proximity (with the significance of the Greek preposition it derives from) and similarity, affinity or even secondary relationship, deviation, alteration, contrast, and similar. Examples of these words are shown below in MEANING 2. These words tend to have cognates in English, for example, paralegal (paralegale) and paramilitary (paramilitare). (In science and medical terms, the para in this MEANING 2 sense is very nuanced and we don’t cover that here.)


Protection against something (the second word of the compound word). Riparo, oltre.

parabraccio / parabracci – armguard, protection of the arm

parabrezza / parabrezza – windshield, protection again the wind

paracadute / paracaduti – a parachute, protection against falling straight out of the sky

paradenti / paradenti – a mouthguard, protection for teeth

parafango / parafanghi – mudguard, protection against mud

parafulmine / parafulmini – lightening rod, protection against lightening

paraluce / paraluci – lens hood, protection again light

paralume / paralumi – lampshade, protection against light (lume)

paraneve / paranevi – snow guard, protection against snow (usually found on the edge of a roof)

paraolio / paraolio – oil seal, protection against leaking oil

parapioggia / parapioggia – umbrella or rain cover, protection against rain

paraschizzi / paraschizzi – backspash or splashguard, protection against splashes (schizzi)

parasole / parasole – sunshade or canopy, protection against the sun

paraspiffero / paraspifferi – a door sausage (draft stopper), protection against drafts (spifferi)

paraspigolo / paraspigoli – corner or edge guard, protection for edges

paraspruzzi / paraspruzzi – mud flap or splashguard, protection against sprays or splashes (spruzzi)

paraurti / paraurti – bumper or fender, protection against bumps or collisions (urti)

paravalanghe / paravalanghe – avalanche barriers, protection against avalanches

paravento / paraventi – screen or windscreen, protection against wind


Closeness to something or being alongside something. Vicinanza, vicino, di fianco.

parabuddista / parabuddisti/e - who or what that is close to Buddhism

parafarmacia / parafarmacia – Para pharmacy, similar to a traditional pharmacy but dealing in non-prescription items

parafarmaco / parafarmaci – non-prescription or over the counter health products

parainfluenzale / parainfluenzali – disease caused by viruses that resemble the influenza virus

paraintellettuale / paraintellettuale – who or what that imitates intellectuals

paramedico / paramedica/ci/che – paramedic or first responder, not a doctor or physician but can work alongside them

paralegale / paralegali – a paralegal, not a lawyer but typically works alongside them

paramilitare / paramilitari – organized like an army but not official or legal

paranormale / paranormali – supernatural, beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding

parapsicologico / parapsicologica/ci/che - the field of study concerned with paranormal psychological phenomena

parascolastico / parascolastica/chi/che - extracurricular activities, alongside but outside of school activities

parasubordinato / parasubordinata/i/e - consultant, collaboration, not a fixed position

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Valentine’s Day and I Broke Up with Google AdSense

Examples from desktop and mobile of our site perverted by Google Ads
Examples of desktop and mobile blog site perverted by Google AdSense. The ads have nothing to do with the content, which gets pushed down the page.

We tried an experiment with Google AdSense on our blogger site: It didn't go as planned. We are breaking up with Google AdSense. It's not been a good relationship.

What was our goal with enabling ads?
  • Recuperate a little money for things like SSL certificates.
  • Cover some of our cloud service expenses.
  • We were hoping to make $2 day.

What was the result?
  • After almost one year, we made < $40. (That’s less than 10 cents a day.)
  • We turned an okay looking web site into a very ugly looking web site. Specifically:
    • If ads showed up, they were just horrible and not at all targeted to the content.
    • Many times (on older posts?), nothing showed up and just lots of white space pushing the “content” way down the page.
    • Admittedly, we didn’t experiment that much with where to put ads and took the advice of the AdSense site.
  • We spent a lot of time trying to satisfy the AdSense “system”. It took weeks to get approval.
  • We are glad we tried, but it was a failure.
  • We ended up making less than 10 cents a day at a severe cost to the usability of the site.

What went wrong?
  • Our biggest mistake was basing our estimations on blogger stats. You must use the Google Search Console to calculate your real visitors per day. Doh!
  • Our blog has low but consistent traffic; it's not a good candidate for ads.
  • We are not promoting our blog in any way, on any other media. So, we are not actively driving traffic to it. We are not the types to do that.
  • Our expectation that ads would be minimal, and we had a niche following so ads would be very targeted both turned out to be wrong! Your site/blog has to have large numbers of visitors first and foremost.
How else could we make $40 a year?
  • We can save this amount of money doing small things around the house; reduce gas and water usage for example.
  • We could put a buy me a coffee link or donation link on the site.
  • We can work extra at our "day" jobs.
  • We can eat out one less time per year.
  • We can look for loose change on our friends' couches.

The most annoying thing about this Google AdSense experiment?

  • The user experience. Is there no other way to make tasteful ads and not make pages so ugly?
  • We hate seeing ads because we use my own blog daily to look up stuff and it killed us to see it so littered with ads. And, I hate the idea of what viewers (and we have a consistent few daily) think of us for having ads.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Album covers with birds on them – 238 birds on the cover!

238 album covers featuring birds
238 album covers featuring birds

Our last post Music album covers with birds on them featured 140 album covers. That was about a year and a half ago and since then we’ve been slowly accumulating more covers. When we research music we hear, and when we find a bird-themed cover, we add it to our list.

We pause at 238 because the composite-mosaic-album-covers is a rectangle of 14 by 17 covers. The color and pattern are somewhat pleasing.

Here are the covers that went into the composite image (errors in names are our own):  

A Flock of Seagulls - The Best Of 

A Grave with No Name - Feathers Wet Under the Moon 

About Tess - Beautiful 

Afghan Whigs - Unbreakable 

Aimer - Black Bird 

Akita, Gustafsson,  O'Rourke – One Bird Two Bird 

Alda - Alda 

Alex G - God Save the Animals 

Alexisonfire ‎– Old CrowsYoung Cardinals 

Alphataurus - Alphataurus 

AlvinLucier - Bird and Person Dyning 

American Eagle - American Eagle 

Ancients - Heart of Oak 

Andrew Bird - Are You Serious 

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha 

Angel Olsen, Steve Gunn - Live at Pickathon 

Ani DiFranco - Canon 

Aquila - Aquila 

Arooj Aftab - Bird Under Water 

Ash Black Bufflo - Andasol 

Asia - Alpha 

Athlete - Black Swan 

Atomic Rooster Atomic Rooster 

Bangers - Bird 

Baroness - A Horse Called Golgotha 

Bart Crow Band – Brewster Street Live 

Bert Jansch - Avocet 

Bert Jansch - Sweet Sweet Music 

Bert Jansch - The Black Swan 

Biblio - Oakmoss 

Big Business - The Beast You Are 

Big Country - The Seer 

Bjork - Vespertine 

Blackfoot - Marauder 

Blank Banshee - Gaia 

Brian Borcherdt - Coyotes 

Brokeback - Look at the Bird 

Bruno Pernadas - Those Who Throw Objects at the Crocodiles 

Brunori Sas Cip! 

Budgie - Budgie 

Budgie - The Best Of 

Budgie - The Definitive Anthology 

Budgie - You're All Living in Cuckooland 

Carl Broemel - All Birds Say 

Carmen McRae - Birds of Feather 

Charles Mingus - Blue Bird 

Chicago - Chicago VIII 

Chick Corea - Return to Forever 

Christopher Cross - A Night with Christopher Cross 

Christopher Cross - Another Page 

Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross 

Claude Fontaine - Claude Fontaine 

Clifton Chenier - Bayour Blues 

Cosmos Sheldrake - Galapagos 

Cosmos Sheldrake - Pelicans We Like 

Cosmos Sheldrake - Wake Up Calls 

Crooked Fingers - Crooked Fingers 

Cymande - Arrival 

Cymande - Cymande 

Cymande - Promised Heights 

Cymande - Second Time Round 

Daniel Robinson - Littler Birds 

David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock 

Deadsoul Tribe - A Murder of Crows 

Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism 

Deftones - Diamond Eyes 

Deftones - Gore 

Deodato - Frist Cucko 

Depeche Mode - Speak and Spell 

Dif Juz - Out of the Trees 

Doldrums - Secret Life of Machines 

Donald Byrd - Free Form 

Doomtree - False Hopes 

Earlimart - Everyone Down Here 

Elvis Costello - Secret Profane and Sugarcane 

Emerson Lake and Palmer - Ermerson Lake and Palmer 

Erland Cooper - Solan Goose 

Europe - Wings of Tomorrow 

Fabrique - Birds Cry 

Faith No More - Angel Dust 

Fields - Fields 

Fleetwood Mac – The Pious Bird Of Good Omen 

Floorplan - Paradise 

Flora Purim - Open Your Eyes You Can Fly 

Flume - Escape - Palaces 

Gary McFarland - America the Beautiful 

Genius of Time - Peace Bird EP 

Grace Cummings - Storm Queen 

Graham Parker - The real Macaw 

Grand Magus - Sword Songs 

Great Lake Swimmers - Onigiara 

Grice - One Thousand Birds 

Gryphon - Gryphon 

Guster - Keep It Together 

Hadouk Trio ‎– Shamanimal 

Half An Orange, Disero & Josh Bogert – Sit Like A Flamingo 

Hatebeak - Caninus - Bird Seeds of Vengeance - Wolfpig 

Herbie Hancock - Mr. Hands 

Hoelderlin - Rare Birds 

Homer - Homer 

Ian Anderson - Secret Language of Birds 

Imagine Dragons - Smoke and Mirrors 

Inti-illimani - leyenda 

Janitor Joe - Big Metal Birds 

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit ‎– Here We Rest 

Jeff Beck - Emotion and Commotion 

Jeff Hanson - Madam Owl 

Jets to Brazil - Four Cornered Night 

Jim Guthrie - Now, More Than Ever 

Jimmy Buffett – Songs You Know By Heart - Jimmy Buffett's Greatest Hit(s) 

John Zorn - The Mockingbird 

Johnny Griffin - A Blowing Season 

Judas Priest - Screaming for Vengeance 

Julia Holter - Maria 

Jump, Little Children - Sparrow 

Kansas - Song for America 

Kate Bush - Never For Ever 

King Kurt - Big Cock 

Kishi Bashi - Omoiyari 

Lancer - Lancer 

Lee Curtiss - Watergate 08 

Leonard Cohen - The Future 

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas – Turkish Delight 

Little Feat - Down on the Farm 

Los Lobos - Good Morning Aztlan 

Low Roar - Low Roar 

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Last of a Dyin' Breed 

Macondo - Macondo 

Magnus Granberg - Come Down to Earth Where Sorrow Dwelleth 

Maharadja Sweets - Somethings Been Lost 

Marble Sounds - Nice is Good 

Marissa Nadler - Songs_III-_Bird_on_the_Water 

Mazzy Star - Among My Swan 

Melvins - Stoner Witch 

Message to Bears - Folding Leaves 

Midnight Oil - Bird Noises 

Mike Oldfield - The Complete 

Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling 

Monopoly Star Searchers - Make Mine, Macaw 

Morrison Kincannon – To See One Eagle Fly 

Neal Halstead - Palindrome Hunches 

Neil Cavanagh - Short Flight to a Distant Star 

Old Crow Medicine Show - Best Of 

Opeth - Socrceress 

Original Soundtrack - The Flight of the Condor 

Our Lady Peace - Naveed 

Patti Smith Group - Wave 

Paul Gonsalves - Humming bird 

Pavement - Watery Domestic 

Pernice Brothers - The World Won't End 

Peter Frampton - Winds of Change 

Peter Josef - I Rise with the Birds 

Philanthrope & PsalmTrees – Birds Of A Feather Volume One 

Portastatic - Slow Note from a Sinking Ship 

Procol Harum - Exotic Birds and Fruit 

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksilver 

Radical Face - Ghost 

Rain Parade - Beyond the Sunset 

Rampage - Wings of the Eagle 

Rare Bird - Rare Bird 

Rascals - See 

Raven - Raven 

Real Friends - Composure 

Relient K - The Bird and thew Bee Sides 

Respighi, Neville Marriner, The Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields ‎– The Birds - Three Botticelli Pictures 

Robert Rich - What We Left Behind 

Robert Wyatt - Shleep 

Roger Lion - Roger Lion 

Rosemary Hardman - Firebird 

Rosie Hardman - Eagle Over Blue Mountain 

Rush - Fly by Night 

Ryo Fukui - Mellow Dream 

Sangre De Muerdago - Sangre De Muerdago 

Santana - Greatest Hits 

Sarah Jarosz - World on the Ground 

Saxon - Thunderbolt 

Saxon - Wheels of Steel 

Seculos Apaixonados 

Shakatak - Night Birds 

Shannon Lay, Steven Gunn - Clay Pigeons 

Shearwater - Palo Santo 

Shearwater - Rook 

Shinedown ‎– The Sound Of Madness 

Snow Patrol - Fallen Empires 

Songs - Ohia  - Magnolia Electric Company 

Songs - Ohia - Glen Hansard - Fade Street  A Caution To The Birds 

Sparklehorse - Good Morning Spider 

Spread Eagle - Spread Eagle 

Spyro Gyra - Carnaval 

Stackridge - Stackridge 

Steve Earle and the Dukes - Guy 

Steve Von Till – As The Crow Flies 

Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna 

Strawberry Path - When the Raven Has Come to the Earth 

Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans 

Sunburned Hand of the Main - Earth Do Eagle Do 

Susumu Yokota - Sakura 

Svartanatt – Starry Eagle Eye 

Talk Talk - Asides Besides 

Talk Talk - Laughing Stock 

Talk Talk - The Very Best Of 

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By 

Terri Hron - Bird on a Wire II - Flocking Patterns 

The Black Crowes - Live 

The Bluetones - Expecting to Fly 

The Cakekitchen - Stories for Late at  Night 

The Cinematic Orchestra – Les Ailes Pourpres Le Mystère Des Flamants 

The Coasters - Hungry 

The Cranberries ‎– You & Me 

The Eagles - On the Border 

The Flamingos ‎– Requestfully Yours 

The Fools - Psycho Chicken 

The Inner Banks - The Inner Banks 

The Lovetones - Medidations 

The Low Anthem - What the Crow Brings 

The Mauskovic Dance Band - Down in the Basement EP 

The Mission - Carved in Sand 

The Monsters - Birds Eat Martians 

The Parlor Mob - And You Were a Crow 

The Pete Jolly Trio and Friends - Little Bird 

The Silos - The Silos 

The Stranglers - The Raven 

The Walkabouts - Scavenger 

Thornato - Bennu 

Timothy B. Schmit - Leap of Faith 

Tony Williams - The Joy of Flying 

Tornato - Bennu 

Train - Save Me, San Francisco 

Troyka - Ornithophobia 

Twenty One Pilots - Trench 

Ulaan Passerine - Byzantium Crow 

Various Artists - Funky Chicken 

Various Artists - Imagination Anthem 

Various Artists - Sweetheart 2005 

Various – Dead And Dreaming An Indie Tribute To Counting Crows 

WASP - Still Not Black Enough 

Waylon Jennings - The Eagle 


Wilco - Sky Blue Sky 

Will Hoge - Blackbird on a Lonely Wire 

William Doyle - Great Spans of Muddy Time 

Yardbirds - Birdland 

Yardbirds - Live Yardbirds 

Yes - Yesshows 

Italian Words Ending With -azione and Easier Alternatives for Speaking and Writing

Word cloud of Italian words ending in -azione with alternatives for saying the same thing.
Word cloud of Italian words ending in -azione with alternatives for saying the same thing. Created with

When we speak Italian, we have some fancy words (“10-dollar words”) always on hand from English. We’re talking about words in English that end in “-ation” and translate to words in Italian that end in “-azione”. Examples include elevation in English and elevazione in Italian, and stimulation in English and stimolazione in Italian.

While it’s easy to use a similar word (cognate) in Italian, and you’ll be understood, it’s sometimes overkill for speaking and writing. We’re trying to train ourselves to us the simpler words when we can.

To that end, here are 30 common “-azione” words with a simpler word that can be used instead, and which is usually what we mean. Of course, we are giving limited definitions and alternatives. Take these as rules of thumb and a place to start your own list.

Italian -azione word – easier word to use

Aberrazione – anomalia, anormalità, errore
Abitazione – casa, appartamento
Accumulazione – accumulo
Accomodazione – alloggio, hotel, soggiorno
Approvazione – consenso, appoggio, sostegno, assenso

Approssimazione – stima, stima grossolana
Autorizzazione – permesso
Coltivazione – coltura, agricoltura
Complicazione – problema, difficoltà, ostacolo
Connotazione – significato, carattere, connotato, qualità, sfumatura

Devastazione – disastro, rovina, danni, distruzione
Disperazione – sconforto, angoscia, mancanza di speranza
Elevazione – altezza, quota
Esasperazione – irritazione, sdegno, rabbia
Esclamazione – urlo, grido, strillo

Falsificazione – falso, frode, truffa, broglio
Inclinazione – (fig) tendenza, gusto, preferenza; (lit) pendenza, abbassamento
Inaugurazione – apertura, avvio, inizio, ceremonia
Ispirazione – spunto, estro, afflato
Istigazione – spinta, impulso

Liberazione – indipendenza, libertà
Motivazione – motivo, stimolo, spinta, ragione
Osservazione – commento, nota, ricerca, indagine, esame
Preoccupazione – timore, ansia, apprensione, angoscia
Respirazione – fiato, respiro

Soddisfazione – gradimento, piacere, gioia, gradimento
Stimolazione – stimolo, spinta, impulso, sprone
Trasformazione – cambiamento, mutamento, modifica
Trasportazione – trasporto, spostamento, mezzo
Votazione – voto, elezione, suffragio