7th Heaven? I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…

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Americans seem to have been infatuated with the concept of extraterrestrial life ever since Italian Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli placed his eye on the lens of that new (and very powerful) refractor telescope in the Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera. The Brera Observatory (so named because it was located in the Brera district of Milan, Italy) to this day sits on the very urban corner of Via Brera and Via Flori Ocsuri. The Jesuit astronomer Ruđer Josip Bošković (or “Ruggiero Giuseppe Boscovich,” depending on which ethnic group you believe controlled Dubrovnik in the Republic of Ragusa at the time of his birth) built the observatory in 1764. Within a decade, Pope Clements XIV issued his July 21, 1773 papal bull formally suppressing the Jesuits. Among other things, this papal bull passed the ownership of the observatory to municipal, rather than religious, authorities.

His early work having brought fame both to him and his country, the Kingdom of Italy bought Schiaparelli an 8.6 inch Merz Equatorial Refracting Telescope from famed German optician Georg Merz. In 1874 the telescope was installed on the roof of the Brera Observatory and Schiaparelli used it initially to study double stars. With the opposition of Mars set to happen on September 5, 1877, Schiaparelli turned his sight to the Red Planet. (An “opposition” is an astronomical event that occurs when the Earth is exactly between the Sun and the planet.) It was during this period of observations, beginning on September 12, 1877, that Schiaparelli drew his now famous map of Mars. Here lies, as they say, the rest of the story.Continue Reading “7th Heaven? I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…”

Day 2: Saturday, July 9, 2011 – Roman Connection Comes Through

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Here’s what strikes me right away: the landscape. Leaving the confines of the Leonardo DaVinci airport finds us quickly on an expressway heading towards Rome. Being a good distance from the city, farm land and open fields surround the airport. It’s that landscape which first struck me twenty-one years ago that entices me once again. I Rome_Umbrella_Pines_300can’t tell you what it is. I’ve only been here once before but I feel so… at home. Maybe it’s the soft hues of subtle shades of green and aromatic amber. It’s like the feeling is on the tip of my tongue, and then I see it.

It’s a string of umbrella pines stretching across a small hill to our right. These trees. These trees have been part of me my whole life. I don’t know why I say that. They’re not indigenous to Western New York or even America. They are native to Mediterranean climes. Vague memories stir within the oldest parts of my brain. I faintly recall a home movie – perhaps from my grandfather? – shot through a window of a moving car, showing this exact scene. It’s odd. I don’t know if it’s Continue Reading “Day 2: Saturday, July 9, 2011 – Roman Connection Comes Through”

Coke versus Pepsi

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the May 11, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Dateline: ROME, August, 1988

The third day had been the worst. The muggy Mediterranean weather combined with the smoggy sky to produce a parched throat. This searing summer air in the land of my ancestors’ roots evoked memories of hot hazy August days and my grandfather’s pizza stand at the Erie County Fair. Perspiring and exhausted, my mind drifted back to those 16 hour days when, as I stood selling saucy slices, the sizzling sun seared one side of me as the fiery oven cooked the other. Only the frequent Pepsi breaks could quench my body’s sweaty thirst (despite my grandfather’s complaint, “You’re drinking all our profits!”).

Walking among the dusty ruins under the torrid Roman sun created an unnatural thirst. The Aqua Minerale (senza gas), offered only temporary reprieve. I knew my ultimate Continue Reading “Coke versus Pepsi”

Day 2 – November 15, 2009 (Sun): Create Your Background Image

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Start of Day Twitter Stats: Follow:   0  Followers:  0  Listed: 0

Missed yesterday? Go here to read what happened on Day 1 – November 14, 2009 (Sat): Sign Up and Settle In

twitter_power_joel_comm_150In his book twitter power, Joel Comm says to create a background image on day 2. In reality, I created it on day one. I wanted to choose something to acknowledge the respect for my forebears as well as my gazing into the future. Without a degree in graphic arts, I simply spliced two pictures together: One I took of my grandfather’s house in Fontecchio, Italy and the other a star field. I did not add the usual verbiage only because I didn’t know what to say. Perhaps later.

In addition, I choose a picture icon. My good friend Neil has a desire to get back into photography, so he showed up at the book review presentation I performed at the FreeNet group meeting in October at the Pittsford Community Library. He took several pictures. I used an “in-action” pose (hmm, how could it be a “pose” if it was “in-action”) for the “About” page of ChrisCarosa.com. He also had me take a more casual looking mug shot. I decided that made a good Twitter picture and uploaded it.

How many followers do you think I’ll have after 30 days? Click here to enter your guess on my Survey Monkey survey “Chris Carosa’s 30-Day Plan to Dominate Twitter Experiment.” There’s no prize, but the fan who guesses the closest correct number the earliest will “win” and I’ll mention you if you want me to.

Find out today’s results on Day 3 – November 16, 2009 (Mon): Read Around