Round Up

31 10 2005

Good – Big Fish
Bad – Seabiscuit
Fugly – Wedding Date, The

I only drank wonderful red and white Lazio wines all month long, none of which I will ever be able to find again so I pretty much gave up trying to save corks and names. The five (5) regions of north central and northwestern Italy cover the great arc of the Alps and Appenines that walls in the Po as it flows east through the broad valley to the Adriatic. The most affluent part of Italy is the Industrial Triangle between Milano, Turino and the Mediterranean port of Genoa and the agriculturally fluent flatlands of the Po and its tributaries. Between them, the 5 regions produce 20% of Italian wines but accoun for more than 25% of the DOC. Emilia-Romagna contributes heavily with the fourth largest output along regions after Veneto, Sicilia and Apulia. Piemonte stands tall in the quality field with the most DOC and DOCG zones of any region, but only seventh overall in production. Piemonte’s host of worthy natives include Barbera, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Freisa, Cortese, Arneis, Brachetto, the Canelli clone of Moscato (for Asti Spumante) and Nebbiolo the noble (source of Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara). Liguria, with little space for vines between mountains and the Mediterranean, is second last in production offering wines that are esoteric. Valle d’Aosta, the smallest region, produces the least volume of wine along its rocky slopes. The most populous Lombardy ranks twelfth in production with a major concentration of Nebbiolo vines for the DOC reds of the mountainous Valtellina and spreads of Chardonnay and Pinot vines for sparkling wines of Franciacorta and Oltrepo Pavese.

We absolutely avoided all the trendy cocktails in Italy for they were all American except for Campari with sparkling aranciata (Orangina!). Instead, I enjoyed grappa, vin santo and limoncello.
Grappa is a traditional Italian drink made from pomace (pressed skins and seeds of grapes) after winemaking. Pomace is fermented without adding any sugar or alcohol, and then distilled. The resulting clear spirit is grappa that is between 80 and 90 proof, served either alone or with coffee.

In October to November ripe white grapes (in Tuscany Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia and Canaiolo are most popular followed by Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the Pomino property of Frescobaldi; in Veneto Garganega and Gambellara are used; elsewhere local white grapes are preferred) are hand picked, rotten grapes removed and the bunches are hung from the rafter of vinsantaie, a room with many windows for vigorous air circulation. Once the grapes have dried sufficiently which may last well into January, they are pressed and the juice is poured into caratelli (small chestnut barrels) for fermentation. After the initial fermentation the wine is racked, the caratelli sealed, and placed under the roof of the winery. Here the wine is subjected to diurnal and seasonal temperature changes, which impart a unique taste and texture to the wine. Vin santo are generally sweet but some wineries produce off dry or dry versions. All are viscous in texture, high in alcohol, smooth and intensely flavoured. Enjoy vin santo with a biscotti, fresh seasonal fruits, or your favourite pastry.

More than 700.00 bottles with the Limoncello di Capri brand label are produced annually by the factory in Anacapri, made exclusively with lemons of Sorrento. The lemons, under the direct control of the Solagri cooperative, are picked from the trees in the afternoon, and delivered the next morning. The Lemon of Sorrento has a juice of low acidity and exceptionally fine essential oils in the peel which give body and perfume to the limoncello. The fruit is washed exclusively in water, without the use of solvents and is selected for the producers of limoncello and for uses in the various sectors, from the large distributors to the catering industry in general. The fruit selected for the producers of limoncello are then passed through the machinery which collects the rinds. These then enter the steel vats where together with the alcohol they are infused for 3 to 5 days. Water and sugar are added. Sugar of prime quality and only alcohol form cereal are used. The product is then homogenised in a turbo emulsifier; after 40 minutes the limoncello, via accurate filtration and laboratory supervision, passes on for bottling. Limonce is the most popular brand.

I prefer to make limoncello at home using Meyer lemons from R’s trees. I scrub 15 lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove pesticide (or wax, if store bought – why?). Zest lemons with zester or veggie peeler so no white pith on the peel. In a one gallon jar, add one bottle of Ketel One vodka and the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature for ten to 40 days. I use the 42 day rule as in Capri. I am such a sucker. Cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better it tastes. Resist (this is for me) the temptation to stir. You simply have to wait. The vodka slowly sucks the rich yellow color and lemon flavor from the lemon zest. In a large saucepan, combine 4C sugar and 5C water until thickened (5-7 minutes). Let syrup cool before adding it to the mixture. Add another bottle of vodka. Let it rest for 42 more days. Strain the mixture. Discard the lemon zest. Freeze until ready to serve. Simple!


Fall Back

30 10 2005

At the end of DST, turn your clock forward an hour, effectively moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. Lucky to be working the one night in the year which has the most hours. No complaints there.

Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the United States at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April. Time reverts to standard time at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. In the U.S., each time zone switches at a different time. In the European Union, Summer Time begins and ends at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time). It begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October. In the EU, all time zones change at the same moment.

On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November. The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time. Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Similar examples would be dog walking time or book reading time. Since saving is a verb describing a single type of activity, the form is singular. Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries. Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, but it is not as politically desirable.

In the U.S., clocks change at 2:00 a.m. local time. In spring, clocks spring forward from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. In the EU, clocks change at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time. In spring, clocks spring forward from 12:59 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. In the U.S., restaurants and bars have various closing policies. In many states, liquor cannot be served after 2:00 a.m. But at 2:00 a.m. in the fall, the time switches back one hour. So, can they serve alcohol for that additional hour in October? The official answer is that the bars do not close at 2:00 a.m., but actually at 1:59 a.m. So, they are already closed when the time changes from Daylight Saving Time into Standard Time. In practice, however, many establishments stay open an extra hour in the fall.

In the U.S., 2:00 a.m. was originally chosen as the changeover time because it was practical and minimized disruption. Most people were at home and this was the time when the fewest trains were running. It is late enough to minimally affect bars and restaurants, and it prevents the day from switching to yesterday, which would be confusing. It is early enough that the entire continental U.S. switches by daybreak, and the changeover occurs before most early shift workers and early churchgoers (particularly on Easter) are affected.

Many fire departments encourage people to change the battery in the smoke detector when they change their clocks because it provides for a convenient reminder. “A working smoke detector more than doubles a person’s chances of surviving a home fire,” says William McNabb of the Troy Fire Department in Michigan. More than 90 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but one-third are estimated to have dead or missing batteries.

Daylight Saving Time also saves energy. Studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country’s electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances. Similarly, in New Zealand, power companies have found that power usage decreases 3.5 percent when daylight saving starts. In the first week, peak evening consumption commonly drops around five percent.

Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting homes is directly related to the times when people go to bed at night and rise in the morning. In the average home, 25 percent of electricity is used for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs, and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, the amount of electricity consumed each day decreases.

In the Winter, the afternoon Daylight Saving Time advantage is offset for many people and businesses by the morning’s need for more lighting. In Spring and Fall, the advantage is generally less than one hour. So, Daylight Saving Time saves energy for lighting in all seasons of the year, but it saves least during the four darkest months of Winter (November, December, January, and February), when the afternoon advantage is offset by the need for lighting because of late sunrise.

In addition, less electricity is used because people are home fewer hours during the “longer” days of Spring and Summer. Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When people are not at home, they don’t turn on the appliances and lights.

There is a public health benefit to Daylight Saving Time, as it decreases traffic accidents. Several studies in the U.S. and Great Britain have found that the DST daylight shift reduces net traffic accidents and fatalities by close to one percent. An increase in accidents in the dark mornings is more than offset by the evening decrease in accidents.

People occasionally complain about Daylight Saving Time. Frequent complaints are the inconvenience of changing many clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. For most people, this is a mere nuisance, but some people with sleep disorders find this transition very difficult.

Another complaint is sometimes put forth by people who wake at dawn, or whose schedules are otherwise tied to sunrise, such as farmers. Farmers often dislike the clocks changing mid-year. Canadian poultry producer Marty Notenbomer notes, “The chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by, so the first week of April and the last week of October are very frustrating for us.”

In Israel, ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews have campaigned against Daylight Saving Time because they recite Slikhot penitential prayers in the early morning hours during the Jewish month of Elul.

Sometimes people recommend a “compromise,” wherein clocks would be set one-half hour forward year round. While this may initially sound appealing, it is not a good solution. In the winter months, when daylight saving is not occurring, our clock is divided such that noon should be the middle of the day (although since time zones are so wide, this does not always happen). In the summer, when there are more daylight hours, we want to shift a full hour to the evening.

Some countries set their clocks to fractional time zones. For example, Kathmandu, Nepal is 5:45 hours ahead of Universal Time, and Calcutta (Kolkatta), India is 5:30 ahead. This is not an attempt to compromise and have half Daylight Saving Time year-round, but rather an adjustment made because the countries straddle international time zones.

Following Germany’s lead, Britain passed an act on May 17, 1916, and Willett’s scheme of adding 80 minutes, in four separate movements was put in operation on the following Sunday, May 21, 1916. There was a storm of opposition, confusion, and prejudice. The Royal Meteorological Society insisted that Greenwich time would still be used to measure tides. The parks belonging to the Office of Works and the London County Council decided to close at dusk, which meant that they would be open an extra hour in the evening. Kew Gardens, on the other hand, ignored the daylight saving scheme and decided to close by the clock.

In Edinburgh, the confusion was even more marked, for the gun at the Castle was fired at 1:00 p.m. Summer Time, while the ball on the top of the Nelson monument on Calton Hill fell at 1:00 Greenwich Time. That arrangement was carried on for the benefit of seamen who could see it from the Firth of Forth. The time fixed for changing clocks was 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday.

After World War I, Parliament passed several acts relating to Summer Time. In 1925, a law was enacted that Summer Time should begin on the day following the third Saturday in April (or one week earlier if that day was Easter Day). The date for closing of Summer Time was fixed for the day after the first Saturday in October.

The energy saving benefits of Summer Time were recognized during World War II, when clocks in Britain were put two hours ahead of GMT during the summer. This became known as Double Summer Time. During the war, clocks remained one hour ahead of GMT throughout the winter.

The time indicated by the apparent sun on a sundial is called Apparent Solar Time, or true local time. The time shown by the fictitious sun is called Mean Solar Time, or local mean time when measured in terms of any longitudinal meridian.

Standard time in time zones was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads on November 18, 1883. Prior to that, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by a well-known clock (on a church steeple, for example, or in a jeweler’s window). The new standard time system was not immediately embraced by all, however. (The train at right is a Union locomotive used during the American Civil War, photo ca. 1861-1865.)

The first man in the United States to sense the growing need for time standardization was an amateur astronomer, William Lambert, who as early as 1809 presented to Congress a recommendation for the establishment of time meridians. This was not adopted, nor was the initial suggestion of Charles Dowd of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 1870. Dowd revised his proposal in 1872, and it was adopted virtually unchanged by U.S. and Canadian railways eleven years later.

Daylight Saving Time has been used in the U.S. and in many European countries since World War I. At that time, in an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power, Germany and Austria took time by the forelock, and began saving daylight at 11:00 p.m. on April 30, 1916, by advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October. Other countries immediately adopted this 1916 action: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and Tasmania. Nova Scotia and Manitoba adopted it as well, with Britain following suit three weeks later, on May 21, 1916. In 1917, Australia and Newfoundland began saving daylight.

The plan was not formally adopted in the U.S. until 1918. ‘An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States‘ was enacted on March 19, 1918. It both established standard time zones and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918. Daylight Saving Time was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. After the War ended, the law proved so unpopular (mostly because people rose earlier and went to bed earlier than people do today) that it was repealed in 1919 with a Congressional override of President Wilson’s veto. Daylight Saving Time became a local option, and was continued in a few states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in some cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time,” from February 2, 1942 to September 30, 1945. From 1945 to 1966, there was no federal law regarding Daylight Saving Time, so states and localities were free to choose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time and could choose when it began and ended. This understandably caused confusion, especially for the broadcasting industry, as well as for railways, airlines, and bus companies. Because of the different local customs and laws, radio and TV stations and the transportation companies had to publish new schedules every time a state or town began or ended Daylight Saving Time.

On January 4, 1974, President Nixon signed into law the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973. Then, beginning on January 6, 1974, implementing the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act, clocks were set ahead for a 15-month period through April 27, 1975.

In the early 1960s, observance of Daylight Saving Time was quite inconsistent, with a hodgepodge of time observances, and no agreement about when to change clocks. The Interstate Commerce Commission, the nation’s timekeeper, was immobilized, and the matter remained deadlocked. Many business interests were supportive of standardization, although it became a bitter fight between the indoor and outdoor theater industries. The farmers, however, were opposed to such uniformity. State and local governments were a mixed bag, depending on local conditions.

Efforts at standardization were encouraged by a transportation industry organization, the Committee for Time Uniformity. They surveyed the entire nation, through questioning telephone operators as to local time observances, and found the situation was quite confusing. Next, the Committee’s goal was a strong supportive story on the front page of the New York Times. Having rallied the general public’s support, the Time Uniformity Committee’s goal was accomplished, but only after discovering and disclosing that on the 35-mile stretch of highway (Route 2) between Moundsville, W.V., and Steubenville, Ohio, every bus driver and his passengers had to endure seven time changes!

By 1966, some 100 million Americans were observing Daylight Saving Time based on their local laws and customs. Congress decided to step in and end the confusion, and to establish one pattern across the country. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S. Code Section 260a), signed into Public Law 89-387 on April 12, 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson, created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. Any State that wanted to be exempt from Daylight Saving Time could do so by passing a state law.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established a system of uniform (within each time zone) Daylight Saving Time throughout the U.S. and its possessions, exempting only those states in which the legislatures voted to keep the entire state on standard time.

In 1972, Congress revised the law to provide that, if a state was in two or more time zones, the state could exempt the part of the state that was in one time zone while providing that the part of the state in a different time zone would observe Daylight Saving Time. The Federal law was amended in 1986 to begin Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April.

Under legislation enacted in 1986, Daylight Saving Time in the USA

  • begins at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and
  • ends at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October

In most of the countries of Western Europe, including the countries that are members of the EU, Daylight Saving Time:

  • begins at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of March and
  • ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

Palestinian Terrorists
In September 1999, the Palestinian West Bank was on daylight saving time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank Palestinians prepared time bombs and smuggled them to Arab Israelis, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded—one hour too early—killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims—two busloads of people.

Halloween Trick-or-Treaters
Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. always ends a few days before Halloween (October 31). A bill to extend DST to Halloween is proposed in almost every session of Congress, with the purpose of providing trick-or-treaters more light and therefore more safety from traffic accidents. Children’s pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Halloween than on any other night of the year. Also, for decades, candy manufacturers have lobbied for a Daylight Saving Time extension to Halloween, as many of the young trick-or-treaters gathering candy are not allowed out after dark, and thus an added hour of light could mean a big holiday treat for the candy industry.

Chaos of Non-Uniform DST
Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore—but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today’s equivalent of over $12 million per year.

Minneapolis-St. Paul
The Minnesota cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul once didn’t have twin perspectives with regard to the clock. These two large cities lie a few miles apart on opposite sides of the Mississippi River, and are considered to comprise a single metropolitan area. In 1965, St. Paul decided to begin its Daylight Saving Time period early to conform to most of the nation, while Minneapolis felt it should follow Minnesota’s state law, which stipulated a later start date. After intense inter-city negotiations and quarreling, the cities could not agree, and so the one-hour time difference went into effect, bringing a period of great time turmoil to the cities and surrounding areas.

Time Change Riots
Patrons of bars that stay open past 2:00 a.m. lose one hour of drinking time on the day when Daylight Saving Time springs forward one hour. This has led to annual problems in numerous locations, and sometimes even to riots. For example, at a “time disturbance” in Athens, Ohio, site of Ohio University, over 1,000 students and other late night partiers chanted “Freedom,” as they threw liquor bottles at the police attempting to control the riot.

Radio Stations
AM radio signals propagate much further at night than during the day. During daytime, more stations in neighboring areas can broadcast on the same frequency without interfering with each other. Because of this situation, there are hundreds of stations licensed to operate only in the daytime. Daylight Saving Time can affect the bottom line of these daytime-only radio stations: during parts of the year it can cause the stations to lose their most profitable time of day—the morning drive time. The gain of an hour of daylight – and thus broadcast time – in the evening does not fully compensate for the morning loss.

Voter Turnout in Elections
Each year in the U.S., the Daylight Saving Time period closes near the end of October, about a week before Election Day. The extension of Daylight Saving Time into November has been proposed as a way to encourage greater voter participation. More people would likely go to the polls in the evening if there still was daylight when they returned home from work.

To keep to their published timetables, trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks fall back one hour in October, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight passengers are often surprised to find their train at a dead stop and their travel time an hour longer than expected. At the spring Daylight Saving Time change, trains instantaneously become an hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time.

Among the first institutions affected by Daylight Saving Time was the Berlin Opera, on April 30, 1916—the evening when the clocks in Germany were to be set forward for the first time. At 11:00 p.m., all German clocks were to be set to midnight. The Berlin Opera, with wonderful forethought, changed its schedule and began its performance of Die Meistersinger an hour earlier than usual. This allowed grateful audience members to be able to catch their customary trains home at the end of the performance. (All trains scheduled to depart between 11:00 p.m. and midnight were immediately behind schedule when 11:00 p.m. changed to midnight, and so left as soon as possible. And trains scheduled to depart after midnight left the equivalent of one hour early.

Violent Crime
A study by the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration found that crime was consistently less during periods of Daylight Saving Time than during comparable standard time periods. Data showed violent crime down 10 to 13 percent. It is clear that for most crimes where darkness is a factor, such as muggings, there are many more incidents after dusk than before dawn, so light in the evening is most welcome.

In Antarctica, there is no daylight in the winter and months of 24-hour daylight in the summer. But many of the research stations there still observe Daylight Saving Time anyway, to keep synchronized to the same time as their supply stations in Chile or New Zealand.

In California, a Chevrolet Blazer packed with teenagers struck the median of a street and flipped over, tragically killing one teen and injuring several others. The teen driver, fighting charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, claimed that the street was dangerously wet and unsafe due a lawn sprinkler system. The landscaper responsible for the computerized sprinklers testified that the sprinklers were set to come on more than fifteen minutes after the fatal accident. The outcome hinged on whether the sprinklers’ timer had been adjusted for a recent Daylight Saving Time change, for without the DST adjustment, the sprinklers had close to 45 minutes to make the road slick.

Indiana has long been a hotbed of Daylight Saving Time controversy. Historically, the state’s two western corners, which fall in the Central Time Zone, observed DST, while the remainder of the state, in the Eastern Time zone, followed year-round Standard Time. An additional complication was that five southeastern counties near Cincinnati and Louisville unofficially observed DST to keep in sync with those cities. Because of the longstanding feuds over DST, Indiana politicians often treated the subject gingerly. In 1996, gubernatorial candidate Rex Early firmly declared, “Some of my friends are for putting all of Indiana on Daylight Saving Time. Some are against it. And I always try to support my friends.”
For years, many believed that Indiana changed time zones in the summer. Part of the confusion stemmed from the fact that in the winter, most of Indiana kept the same time as New York (which is Eastern), and in the summer, Indiana kept the same time as Chicago (which is Central).

In April 2005, Indiana legislators passed a law that will implement Daylight Saving Time statewide beginning on April 2, 2006. Still in question is which part of the state falls in the Eastern time zone and which part of the state falls in the Central time zone.

Oil Conservation
Following the 1973 oil embargo, the U.S. Congress extended Daylight Saving Time to 18 months, rather than the normal six months. During that time, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day – a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years. Likewise, in 1986, Daylight Saving Time moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. No change was made to the ending date of the last Sunday in October. Adding the entire month of April to Daylight Saving Time is estimated to save the U.S. about 300,000 barrels of oil each year.

Today, approximately 70 countries utilize Daylight Saving Time in at least a portion of the country. The only major industrialized country not to have introduced daylight saving is Japan. While European nations have been taking advantage of the time change for decades, in 1996 the European Union (EU) standardized an EU-wide “summertime period.” The EU version of Daylight Saving Time runs from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October. During the summer, Russia’s clocks are two hours ahead of standard time. For example, Moscow standard time (UTC+3) is about a half-hour ahead of local mean time (UTC+2:30); this is about the same situation as Detroit, where the standard time (UTC-5) is also about a half-hour ahead of local mean time (UTC-5:32). During the winter, all 11 of the Russian time zones remain an hour ahead of standard time. With their high latitude, the two hours of Daylight Saving Time really help to save daylight. In the Southern Hemisphere where summer comes in December, Daylight Saving Time is observed from October to March. (The clock at above right is viewed from within the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.)

Equatorial and tropical countries (lower latitudes) generally do not observe Daylight Saving Time. Since the daylight hours are similar during every season, there is no advantage to moving clocks forward during the summer. China has had a single time zone since May 1, 1980, observing summer Daylight Saving Time from 1986 through 1991; they do not observe DST now.

Caffettiera Napoletana

29 10 2005

I have just had on my way to work tonight the single best cup of espresso I have ever made myself. I used Illy coffee grounds. Of course, I will be up for thirteen hours straight so reproduced verbatim are the instructions to use my new best friend, the caffetiera (note the spelling which I mauled relentlessly asking for a cafeteria on multiple occasions) that I picked up in Roma:

  1. To fill before the inside part of the coffee pot of coffee-powder (5 grams each person)
  2. To screw in the filter on the inside-part of the coffee-pot.
  3. To fill of water the superior-body till the little hole.
  4. Introduce the inside-part of the coffee-pot in the superior-body (already filled of water before).
  5. Put the coffee-pot with the spout on the supeior-body and put it finally on the fire.
  6. As soon as the water goes in ebullition, you will see the water coming out from coffee-pot, just from the said little hole.
  7. Now, keep out the coffee-pot from the fire, upset it and remain it for some minutes in rest
  8. In the meantime, the water will filter and will transform it in a very exquisite coffee, and you can serve it too. It is well known all over the world that this is the unique to do a very aromatic coffee.


Cappuccino Works

28 10 2005

Cappuccino is easy to prepare at home. Always steam the milk before making the espresso, as espresso deteriorates in 30 seconds. Fill 1/3 of a metal steaming pitcher with cold milk. Submerge the tip of the steam wand about 1/2 inch below the milk’s surface and begin steaming. As the foam rises and the milk’s volume increases, slowly lower the pitcher, so the tip remains submerged in milk about 1/2 inch. Do not move the wand around in circles or up and down. Steam until the milk has doubled in volume and the steaming pitcher feels hot all the way around. Remove the pitcher and run steam through the steam arm right away to flush out milk and prevent future clogging. Then use a damp cotton cloth (not an abrasive pad) to clean the steam arm. Now prepare the espresso. Some home machines with one boiler may require you to run water through the machine with no coffee in the handle. This will reduce the heat of the boiler to a lower temperature for making espresso. Brew espresso directly into your cup. Pour steamed milk over the espresso and spoon the froth to the cup’s rim, so you have approximately 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 froth.

Some further ideas for you

Vienna Coffeehouse Espresso

  1. Place a small piece of good dark or milk chocolate in the bottom of the espresso cup before preparing the espresso.
  2. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa.


  1. Prepare steamed milk
  2. Brew a single espresso directly into a cappuccino cup
  3. Add equal parts steamed milk and spoon milk foam on top
  4. The finished drink will be approximately 1/3 part each espresso, steamed milk and milk foam.

Caffè Latte

  1. Prepare steamed milk
  2. Fill 2/3 of glass with steamed milk
  3. Add 2 spoonfuls of milk foam on top of steamed milk
  4. Brew a single espresso and pour slowly down side of glass

Caffè Macchiato

  1. Prepare milk foam
  2. Brew a single espresso directly into a demitasse (espresso) cup
  3. Top with a dollop of milk foam

Caffè Mocha

  1. Prepare steamed milk
  2. Add 1 oz chocolate syrup to 2 oz steamed milk and mix well
  3. Brew a single espresso and transfer to a tall glass
  4. Add the chocolate milk
  5. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles if desired

Cappuccino Viennese Style

  1. Brew a single shot of espresso directly into a cappuccino cup
  2. Add equal parts hot chocolate and whipped cream
  3. Garnish with a sprinkling of cocoa and cinnamon
  4. The finished drink will be approximately 1/3 part each espresso, hot chocolate and whipped cream.

Week in Wine

27 10 2005

Mendocino County Pinot Noirs

2004 Brutacao Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $24
2004 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir: $10
2003 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $25
2001 Husch Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $31
2003 Londer Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $30
2003 MacPhail Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $35
2004 Martin Ray Angeline Mendocino County Pinot Noir: $10
2003 Navarro L’Methode Ancienne Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $22
2002 Skewis Demuth Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $35
2002 Toulouse Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: $32

San Francesco

26 10 2005

Personal recommendations and heavy rotation on TARF prompted us to book this hotel for our trip (we have just returned from a weeklong, and it only rained substantially on Thu and Fri) as the Daphne Inns were both fully booked despite our seeking bookings as far back as July.

Poor first impressions!
Despite confirmation emails from Daniele (the proprietor whom we never saw) as recent as four (4) and two (2) days before arrival, no hire cab was found waiting for us and we rang the hotel after thirty (30) minutes to note there was no record of a confirmation. That was a sour note to start upon. A taxicab ride was not too cumbersome but the street address is a mini alley: you are better served asking the cabbie to go to Trastevere at Piazza San Francesco di Ripa (or cross streets: Via Trastevere and Via G. Induno). Even on the Thomas Guide equivalent in the cab, it was hard to find the little street. Our cabbie Giuseppe was most gracious. Note that there are higher rates for travel between 2200 and 0700.

Warm welcome:
The lobby is welcoming with an elegant glass door behind security bars. Our concierges were competent and friendly (Marina, Benedetto) but the night concierge (Alessandro) is an absolute gem: the day we had o Eurostar to Firenze, he made us an elegant cappuccino at 0600 and you know what they say about a man who makes you a coffee drink in the morning time 🙂 The maps issued by the hotel are wonderfully detailed and we filled every cargo pant pocket with them. You can walk anywhere as it is not more than 30 minutes away. We never took the trolley, tram or bus but they had very lovely suggestive ads on them. The high street, Via Trastevere, is literally a stone’s throw from the hotel and there are at least three (3) GS (general stores) within a minute’s walk. We walk briskly while in Roma. Concierges were competent in suggesting travel times and routes, and booking cabs and restaurants. We never needed advance booking for meals, and were always welcomed warmly. There are only 24 rooms and the clientele is mixed (Americans, Scots, English, German and Dutch), and older. No cruiseheads or students in this unit.

Amenities abound –
Brunch and service (tax) is included in the cost of the room. This past week the cost was E195 but I noticed some rooms getting a discounted rate of E165. Your mileage may vary. If you pay cash upfront (and in advance) you can get 10% off – ask for the offer. We were just not comfortable withdrawing that much in advance. The Bancomat (cash machine) is just around the corner. The neighborhood is safe to walk around at both 0600 and 0200. You always see carabinieri around Roma so security is not a cause for worry. The first night we returned, we simply asked for our keys by room number and were given them – puzzling without security identification. Since they had examined our passports upon entry, it is assumed, we had our images scanned but I do not know. Brunch is served daily 0700-1000 in a sunroom with a view of the cloister. It was not clear whether or not it was served on Sunday as Marina was not clear on this matter – it might have been a language barrier. The spread is adequate with the distressing use of canned fruits and the same CD (except on the weekend, when they switched to Lionel Richie’s best: exercise caution when you wish for it). The bread was exquisite and the coffee brisk. Cheeses were repeated daily. The pastries were fine. It was certainly value for money.

Room with a view –
The rooms are small and European with hard carpeting. I am not sure the cooling units worked, and thus slept with both room and toilet windows open. While not noisy, it does permit tiny gnat like creatures to enter the room. My friend was stung by a little creature in the adjacent room, resulting in a little swelling with no superimposed infection to follow; she had slept with the windows shut. There are two small dorm room size nightstands with good lighting, a small desk you cannot possibly write upon (its width is size limiting), a double bed (European sized and thus short) with clean linen and adequate pillows, an armoire that holds approximately a dozen clothes hangars (half for full length items), a few shelves and a self-explanatory digital safe, and a stocked refrigerator we never used. The bathroom has non textured grouted tiled floors (skid alert), faux painting, porcelain fixtures (my hot and cold faucets were reverse labeled but indeed working well) including a stand up tray shower with flexible shower handle (with below average shower head pressure, and below average thermal mixing), a sparkling water closet and bidet. The sink is wide with counter room. ALl drainage was adequate. Face towels are thin and not absorbent. Bath towels are plush and served well. Toiletries could have been better but we stocked up from the GS nearby.

Security –
Instead of keycards, there are heavy filled cowbells with a key and a plug like device attached to them. At the base of the bell (not hollow) is an imprint of your room number. The plug needs to enter any of the black sockets in your room to switch the lights on. It is not an electricity activator as explained incorrectly by Marina as the telly will still need to be shut off. The brunch staff always checks the hotel room number by momentarily inverting the cowbell, but you see no extra charge for the coffee. We fail to grasp the significance of this action.

Extras –
Rooms were immaculate, bathrooms were clean, linen was straighted out (but top sheets were not necessarily always replaced). Dustbins are tiny so accumulated trash on the floor does not get collected. My wake up call was the 0700 pealing of the SF de Ripa church bells (with a snooze pealing at 0715). There were many gulls making a racket in the morning on the cranes posited nearby and the construction pretty much defeated any chance of a romantic rooftop evening. There is a reasonable amount of neighborhood construction in progress but we never heard it at night (we were not in the hotel during waking hours). The rooftop bar has retro chic (meaning lovely to look at but terribly inconvenient) sitting furniture and a standard cocktail menu; there were too many bistros, bars, pizzerias, osterias ecc. in the neighborhood to tempt us away so we never really used the service upstairs. As the crane obstructed the view, it was dissonant to having any drinks in quiet ripose.

Leaving on a jet plane –
On our final morning after a cracking brunch (we expected no less), Alessandro had our confirmed private hirecar ready to take us to Fiumicino on schedule. I should like to recommend the hotel on the basis of its location, cleanliness, quiet at night, access to attractions, included brunch and value for money (in that order).

I would be absolutely ready wtih 50 euros to take a cab to the hotel (look for a white taxicab with the words TAXI on the top) just outside the Greeting area after baggage claim, negotiate a fixed rate and get to the hotel. The inconvenience of waiting for a cab and then not having one ready makes for a start that does not augur well and the hotel staff should be aware of the importance of first impressions.

Forum Romanum

25 10 2005

The Romans “knew” they were the Center of the Universe. That center was manifest in the Roman Forum. This is a magnificent orderly set of buildings set in the heart of modern Roma. The Romans referred to it more often as the Forum Magnum (or just the Forum) was the central area around which ancient Rome developed, in which commerce, business, prostitution, cult and the administration of justice took place. Here the communal hearth was located. Sequences of remains of paving show that sediment eroded from the surrounding hills was already raising the level of the forum in early Republican times. Originally it had been marshy ground, which was drained by the Tarquins with the Cloaca Maxima. Its final travertine paving, still to be seen, dates from the reign of Augustus.

It is now famous for the remains, which eloquently show the use of urban spaces during the Roman Age. The Roman Forum includes the following major monuments, buildings and other ancient ruins:

A processional way, the Via Sacra, crosses it linking it with the Colosseum. By the end of the Empire, it lost its everyday use remaining as a sacred place. The last monument built inside the Forum is the Column of Phocas. During the Middle Ages, though the memory of the Forum Romanum persisted, its monuments were for the most part buried under debris, and its location was designated the Campo Vaccinio or “cattle field,” located between the Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum. The return of Pope Urban V from Avignon (1367) led to an increased interest in ancient monuments, partly for their moral lesson and partly as a quarry for new buildings being undertaken in Rome after a long lapse. Artist from the late 15th century drew the ruins in the Forum, antiquaries copied inscriptions from the 16th century, and a tentative excavation was begun in the late 18th century. A cardinal took measures to drain it again and built the Alessandrine neighborhood over it. But the excavation by Carlo Fea, who began clearing the debris from the Arch of Septimius Severus in 1803, and archaeologists under the Napoleonic regime marked the beginning of clearing the Forum, which was only fully excavated in the early 20th century. In its current state, remains from several centuries are shown together, due to the Roman practice of building over earlier ruins. Other fora existed in other areas of the city; remains of most of them, sometimes substantial, are extant.