New Normal Random Thoughts #5

Not much happens during August in Italy. Even less in this strange year.

The numbers have slowly been going in the wrong direction. Nothing dramatic for now, nothing exponential yet, but the media is all over it. It’s the youngsters in dance clubs! No, it’s tourists coming back from Croatia! No, it’s the immigrants! Now we have to wear masks even outside, but only from 6pm to 6am, and only in crowded situations. And then there’s a lot of chatter about kids going back to school and some amazing one-seat wheeled desks that they will be using.

The best piece of news I heard today is that apparently a molecule derivate from cholesterol it’s a virus killer. This is exactly the type of news I’m fully ready to believe in. I’m looking forward to sausage therapy. Forget Nightingale Hospitals, at the beginning of the second wave we will take people to McDonalds.

I have Immuni installed on my phone, the Italian proximity tracking app. It’s a nice app, using the Apple/Google tracing system. While the app is perfectly fine, they botched the launch, allowing a whole number of silly conspiracy theories to propagate, which means that the app hasn’t been widely adopted: only 4.6 million people downloaded it by the 1st of June (that’s about 7% of population, clearly not enough density to be useful).

Anyway, every once in a while I get a notification like this:

I checked the logs, which should keep track of the anonymised ID of other devices I came into contact with, and apparently I haven’t come in contact with any other user with the app (which now that I think of it it’s odd, since I know for sure that other family members have the app installed).

I’m sorta planning to go back to the UK on the 10th of September. I haven’t booked the flight yet, but I want to go and check how things are, see if there’s any chance of starting to do some work in person again. While I’m fully expecting to keep working mostly from home, it would be nice to have some meetings outside a zoom window, and we have a beautiful meeting room with a huge table which can guarantee appropriate distancing.

If it doesn’t work, I will just get back to Italy, where I fin the quality of life much better.

That’s it. Be nice, eat an egg, just to be safe.


The B&B where we stayed in Venice was called Bianca Cappello House.

Possibly Bianca Capello de’Medici.*oil on canvas .*68.9 x 57.2 cm

Turns out that Bianca Cappello is not the name of the nice lady who owns the place, but that of a Venetian noblewoman born in 1548, who according to wikipedia, was the mistress and afterward the second wife of Francesco I de Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

She was very beautiful and several portraits were made. A couple of centuries later, English writer Horace Walpole would fall in love with one of these portraits and, in a letter to a friend about one of these paintings, for the first time he used the word serendipity.

Horace was loosely related to Spencer Walpole, after whom is named the park at the end of my street in London.

New Normal Random Thoughts #4

After 5 weeks in Italy, I’m starting to reach the edges of what in the old times might have been reasonable expectations from service providers, but I am discovering they are no longer compatible with the new normal.

For example, Three has decided that I have used more than it was fair to use of my roaming allowance. It doesn’t matter if I have an unlimited account, it turns out that “unlimited” is actually 20Gb. Not clear if 20Gb per month, per year, per lifetime. All I know is that I need to go get another sim with another provider.

Also NowTV has decided that after a month not connecting from the UK, I’m no longer allowed to watch their shows.

No big deal, I’ve cancelled those services, and anyway I’m too busy re-watching The West Wing on PrimeTV. It’s 20 years old, but what a show! It was probably complete fantasy back then, but watching it today feels like we felt back then watching any dystopian future show. But anyway, who cares? Ironman is not realistic but it’s fun. President Josiah Bartlet is even more fun.

We spent last weekend in Venice.

Venice is close and beautiful, and while it takes about the same time to get there from our home in San Martino as it takes to get to the other side of London from Ealing, we only visit for short trips when somebody is visiting, so it was great to spend some quality time there.

We have always avoided Venice in August because of the crowds, so I can’t really compare, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. Yes, there were tourists, but at no time it felt uncomfortable. Most notably for Venice, there were no Americans.

We found a lovely B&B at a very reasonable price smack in the centre of everything, had great food, plenty of spritzes and cicchetti. If you like visiting cities, this is a great time to go to Venice.

I did appreciate how seriously masks are enforced everywhere. The “captain” of a vaporetto refused to leave when a family of four boarded with some plastic contraptions which were clearly not proper masks. Turns out they did have proper masks, and once properly masked we left.

I love the crooked bits of Venice.

Another “new normal” feature is that pretty much all bars and restaurant have a QR code sticker on every table which links to their menu. It always works and once you start thinking about how many people have touched those old menus before you, you never want to go back to the old ways.

Stay safe, keep cool, be kind.

New Normal Random Thoughts #3

It’s more than a month since I landed back to the new normal, and there’s something quite clear about these days when compared to the quarantine ones: I have less time to think.

It’s the main reason why I have been writing less on these pages: it’s not just that I don’t have much time to write but I have a lot less time to think about what to write, which clearly I had plenty of when I was living all by myself, never leaving my little flat in Ealing.

The situation in Italy is still mostly stable, so far Italians seems to be doing better than all other countries that were hit hard. As strange as it sounds, I wonder if this is related to Italians generally having very little trust for authorities and being more inclined to figure out things by themselves (especially when scared).

I haven’t booked a flight back to London yet. I’m still undecided. It doesn’t look like “going to the office” is going to become normal again any time soon. If the future is working from anywhere, it might be worth just accepting the kind offer from the Government of Barbados.

We got a new car last week. It’s a cool new toy, it’s all modern, digital, it parks by itself and it has an intimate relationship with our iPhones, but I want to leave one last thought for the old car which we sold. The little yellow Ka had 20 years, it got us everywhere we needed to go, it has been sitting under the weather for all this time and the Ford CD player still worked!

I’m pretty sure that in 20 years the new car will not be able to connect with my iPhone (or whatever people will be carrying with them in 2040).

Good bye to the old Ka.

Speaking of upgrades, I have updated all my devices to the latest betas of Apple new operating systems. I have also been playing with CarPlay, which I had never seen before and it’s supported by the new car. I’m surrounded by new user interfaces and enjoying every second of the experience.

Generally speaking I’m not a huge fan of change, but when it comes to trying new things, even if this means dealing with unstable and buggy systems, I always enthusiastically embrace change as soon as I can. I wonder why.

Well… that’s it for today. Be safe and be kind.