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Etruscans, Rome, and Texas

Long ago, this native Texas boy was very lucky to be able to live in Rome. Having already studied Latin, he was able to add Italian, Spanish, German, some French, some Portuguese, some Old English (Anglo-Saxon), some Gaelic, some Catalan, some Romanian, some Russian, some Greek, and even a bad word or two in Polish (thanks to the OSU, who learned them from her vodka-drinking Polish aunts in the kitchen in Chicago). And, of course, my curious favorites, the Etruscans.

The Etruscans had a huge influence over the Romans. Living in Italy in what is now Tuscany (and Umbria and Lazio and Emilia Romagna, etc.), the Etruscans ruled Rome for a short while during the period of the kings...but this was the period in which religious, civic, and military institutions were formed, elements of which persisted to the end of the Empire (and even today!).

So while you may know all about pasta and pizza and cheap red wine...if you don't know the Etruscans, you don't know Rome!

McCalpin's Layover Guides

Hurray! I am delighted to announce the first two McCalpin's Layover Guides Kindle books available at amazon.com!!! With the consent of VT, I can announce the books here, and I hope that any VTer who sees a friend in need might consider giving me a reference.

The first two books are McCalpin's Layover Guide to Rome, Italy, and McCalpin's Layover Guide to Houston, Texas (don't ask ;-) ). In the works are London, New York, Washington DC, and Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Currently the books are Kindle only (i.e., ebooks) but Kindle is the most common ebook format around so your various devices can probably read them with a free Kindle reader (I have them on my iPhone and laptop).

The books are available at McCalpin's Layover Guides at amazon.com

Or visit my website at www.layover-guides.com .

More to come!


Novelty photos

During December 76/January 77, I took a trip through Northern Europe and Ireland while on Christmas break from the university. I obviously shot a lot of photos.

However, unknown to me, one of the rolls of film that I used had already been exposed by one of my students. She had failed to rewind the roll completely after shooting it and so sold the roll to me by mistake. She had shot the roll in Chartres, London, and possibly Paris, and all of her shots were superimposed on my photos.

So, while you might think that some of these photos make a political or artistic statement, in fact, they're all accidental(!). But what accidents(!)

The photo here is of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen (mine) superimposed on a photo of stained glass windows inside the church at Chartres (at a right angle)...

Gallery #1
Gallery #2

Why I have Trouble Working on VT Sometimes

See the photo here, which should clearly explain why I have trouble sometimes working on VT. Not only do I have a cat on the back of my chair breathing down my neck as well as a cat glaring at me from the monitor, but I have a third cat draped over my right arm, inhibiting any wild mouse action!

Believe it or not, this is how they arranged themselves...

The Personal Photo

This photo of the White House was taken from the top of the Hay-Adams Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. The hotel is immediately north of Lafayette Park, which itself is immediately north of the White House. Every Thanksgiving, the restaurant on the top floor opens to a special buffet, where after lunch/dinner, patrons can walk out on the roof of the hotel and easily see the White House, the Washington Monument, and other features of D.C.

In this photo, notice two things: (1) the men on the roof - well, that's no surprise - they're probably looking back at us with binoculars ;-), and (2) there is smoke coming out of the three chimneys on the far side of the roof. Who knew that the fireplaces at the White House still worked (and that they didn't constitute a hazard)?

The Previous Personal Photo

When we lived in Rome, we would have "moon rocks" every morning. No, not minerals from the Moon, but a bread roll called a "rosetta" because the cuts on the top resembled a rose.

The moon rock had the interesting property of being soft and wonderful with butter or jam on the first day, but by the third day, it could be as hard as a rock (hence the name). Indeed, our normal breakfast in Italy was a moon rock or two, butter and jam, and tea or coffee - the original continental breakfast.

One day, the guy across the hall from me in Rome noticed that a nail was sticking out of his door frame a half inch or so. He had a week-old moon rock in his room, so he picked up the alleged piece of bread and drove them nail home into the frame. Really, I watched him do it.

This particular moon rock was acquired in Rome in July, 1996...yes, 16 1/2 years ago. It has sat on a shelf over my television for all that time. Mold has never grown on it, and it looks pretty much the same now as it did when we got it. I'd like to attribute its longevity to a lack of moisture in the bread rather than hideous preservatives...really, I would like to :-0 but I have no idea, except such durability is typical for the species...

The 2nd Previous Personal Photo

Recently, I set out Christmas lights along both sides of my sidewalk leading from the front door. The lights were set on stakes a few inches high, and looked nice for minimalist decorations.

Then, a few days later, I found both strands of lights out while the lights on my door were still working. Puzzled, I looked closely and saw that the wires (three of them, not two) had been cut. Not ripped or gnawed, but clean cut through. And it was done in the same place on both sides of the sidewalk!

Who are the likely culprits? Well, me, except I hadn't had any machinery near there. Landscapers, except I don't have any. So I decided that maybe it was teenage hooligans...only we don't have many of those, either.

I replaced the strands. All looked good...until 4 days later, when I noticed that the lights were out again. Yep, cut through again on both sides of the sidewalk! Well, this would be a very strange hooligan, to come close to the house to cut the wires - which were HOT by the way - and ignore all the other decorations.

So I consulted with the Official Spousal Unit and thought about critters, er, "creatures". Well, coyotes and bobcats have the wrong teeth, and rats and mice and squirrels would gnaw, not cut clean through...so I waited and waited and waited and finally got a good photo of the villain - a radioactive lizard looking to imitate Godzilla!

Mystery solved ;-) well, see below...

OK, it was almost certainly a possum, because the possums come out of the creek, cut through the flower beds along the front of the house, go under a bush like the one in the photo on one side of the sidewalk, encounter the wires and chomp clean through them, cross the sidewalk, then encounter and chomp through the wires on the other side of the sidewalk (the photo), then disappear under the bush to continue on their merry way...but I like the idea of a radioactive lizard myself...

The 3rd Previous Personal Photo

The current PP is a photo of a bobcat, who strolled through my backyard the other day with what I believe were two of her young. Yes, the bobcat in this shot was about 30 feet from where I am sitting right now in my office.

We live on two creeks, and as humans expand outward, animals are actually moving back into the cities. As you can see from my Richardson, Texas Travelogues, we frequently have in the backyard coyotes, hawks, owls, foxes, and other wildlife - right here in "suburbia"!

Don't worry about the cats - they go outside only under escort!

  • Intro Updated Jul 20, 2013
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William McCalpin
Richardson, Texas
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