Luca Belletti

Product Manager living in London (UK)

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Tel Aviv is only 100 years old.
  2. If you search Google for ‘c’ you get the speed of light as a result.
  3. There used to be a United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve (between 1815 and 1822).
  4. Pavlova (the dessert) was created in honour of Pavlova (the dancer) in New Zealand.
  5. If you add the text string ‘eom’ (End Of Message) at the end of a subject line in Gmail you can send a one-liner message without being prompted that there is no body text. It works if ‘eom’ is followed by nothing or a non-alphanumeric character.
  6. The band Metro Station is fronted by Miley Cirus‘ older brother Trace.
  7. ‘There are now more money transfer premises in the UK than there are McDonald’s and KFC outlets put together.’

 

Posted via email from Luca’s Lifestream

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Tel Aviv is only 100 years old.
  2. If you search Google for ‘c’ you get the speed of light as a result.
  3. There used to be a United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve (between 1815 and 1822).
  4. Pavlova (the dessert) was created in honour of Pavlova (the dancer) in New Zealand.
  5. If you add the text string ‘eom’ (End Of Message) at the end of a subject line in Gmail you can send a one-liner message without being prompted that there is no body text. It works if ‘eom’ is followed by nothing or a non-alphanumeric character.
  6. The band Metro Station is fronted by Miley Cirus‘ older brother Trace.
  7. ‘There are now more money transfer premises in the UK than there are McDonald’s and KFC outlets put together.’

 

I am going to be British!

I have been notified by the Home Office today that my application for British citizenship has been successful.

I got the news when reception at work called me to say I needed to go and sign for a delivery. The Home Office was returning the documents I had sent as evidence (payslips etc) and also telling me the good news.

The courier saw my name badge and asked 'Italiano? Io brasiliano ma origine italiana' and showed me his badge with a very Italian last name.

When I opened the envelope and learned the news, I thought it was quite apt that a descendant of Italians who moved to Brazil in search of fortune delivered the news to an Italian who found his homeland in the UK.

I called Stuart right away, then twittered about it (of course), then bought chocolate things for people at work to celebrate.

Then I went home where a letter inviting me to my citizenship ceremony was waiting for me in the mail.

I have dreamt of this for so long. I am the happiest I have ever been now. And incredibly proud that I'll soon be a subject.

Posted via email from Luca’s Lifestream

I am going to be British!

I have been notified by the Home Office today that my application for British citizenship has been successful.

I got the news when reception at work called me to say I needed to go and sign for a delivery. The Home Office was returning the documents I had sent as evidence (payslips etc) and also telling me the good news.

The courier saw my name badge and asked ‘Italiano? Io brasiliano ma origine italiana’ and showed me his badge with a very Italian last name.

When I opened the envelope and learned the news, I thought it was quite apt that a descendant of Italians who moved to Brazil in search of fortune delivered the news to an Italian who found his homeland in the UK.

I called Stuart right away, then twittered about it (of course), then bought chocolate things for people at work to celebrate.

Then I went home where a letter inviting me to my citizenship ceremony was waiting for me in the mail.

I have dreamt of this for so long. I am the happiest I have ever been now. And incredibly proud that I’ll soon be a subject.

7 things I did not know last week

  1. You can use Gmail drafts to mail yourself unallowed files.
  2. The song Everytime We Touch by Cascada borrows its chorus from 1992 track Everytime We Touch by ‘Moonlight Shadow’ singer Maggie Reilly.
  3. The dessert I had last night is not called ‘eaten mess’ but ‘Eton mess‘ (which makes sense since I ate it at a friend’s in Windsor).
  4. Justin Henry (Oscar-nominated child actor in Kramer vs. Kramer) is now a Regional Director of Sales at online video service Veoh.
  5. British film director Duncan Jones (sci-fi thriller Moon) is David Bowie’s son.
  6. Shoe company Bata used to set up villages (‘Batavilles’) around its factories for its workers to live.
  7. Phoebe Cates has been married to Kevin Kline for the last twenty years.

Diet like it’s 1999

So the doctor said that the weight I have put on was likely to be caused from my lazy thyroid. Not at all then from my recent habit of celebrating the end of every work day with the modern equivalent of a Medieval banquet.

Thyroid medication should make my body burn down fat normally again but, just in case, I thought it would also be good to reduce my calories intake so on Saturday I dug out an old diet that my GP gave me ten years ago. It worked very well at the time, it’s very simple, flexible and easy to follow, it’s balanced and gives good results. No fads, just sensible. Wish me luck. No, wish me willpower. This grease-stained piece of paper will be my nutritional bible for the next six weeks:

The diet I followed in 1999

Needless to say, the night before starting the diet I celebrated the end of my all-you-can-eat evenings with pizza, cheesecake and 30 Rock Season 2:

Last pizza and cheesecake for a while

Flicking the switch

Several months ago I worked on a redesign for this site, that I never put live because although I found it aesthetically pleasing (just a few tweaks to make it clearer and more settled), something was bothering me.

I have known for a long time that I (and most people I know) now blog in a different way from when I started in 2001. I don’t need a blog to share links to cool stuff I found, post my photos or write a quick update on what I am doing, because this is now taken care of by (among others) Delicious, Flickr and Twitter.

You can of course subscribe to my Delicious bookmarks, add me as a contact on Flickr and follow me on Twitter. Or, if you like coming to this site, you can from now on dip into my activities by looking my Friendfeed activity in the sidebar.

I have also decided to switch to an automatic blogroll that displays all the websites I have tagged with ‘blogroll’ in Google Reader. These are my ‘must reads’ that I always find some time for.

I have removed the list of category and monthly archives from the homepage, and moved them to a dedicated ‘Archives’ page that you can access from any page on this site, and where you will find all the entries by date and by category, as well as a list of the most commented posts.

Similarly, I have moved some of the content in an enhanced ‘About’ section, and collected the feeds that you can subscribe to in their own page. Did you know that as well as subscribing to the main entries and the comments feed, you can also access my Google Reader shared items (mostly design ideas and gadgets) and all the entries from the sites in my blogroll? Have a look at the feeds page to find out more.

All the content is still here and there are ways to find it even if it is not linked to from every page. If you are a regular user of this site I’d be very happy if you could leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Dominic Purcell is Australian.
  2. The word ‘avocado’ comes from the Aztec ‘ahuacatl’ meaning tescicle.
  3. Tina Fey wrote and co-starred in Mean Girls.
  4. You can cure a stomach ache if you lie on your left side for 5 minutes. The stomach is on the left side, the oesophagus enters it on the right and therefore gas bubbles can rise and allow you to burp. Reciting the alphabet is optional.
  5. Mary Portas bats for my team. Well, in the female division I suppose, since she left her husband of 13 years and moved in with her partner Melanie Rickey.
  6. Labradors are the most popular breed (by registration) in the world.
  7. The Japan edition of Lily Allen’s ‘Alright Still’ has a song entitled ‘Cheryl Tweedy‘.

Do not eat at your desk

Over the last few weeks I have been bringing my lunch into work and eating the same meal every day. It’s easy, cheap and practical, and I don’t mind if it’s monotonous – I guess I am lucky that way. Or unlucky, depending on how you see it.

What kept puzzling me was that some days (most days, in fact), right after eating, I would crave more food. So I’d have my afternoon piece of fruit early. And then I’d have my early evening handful of almonds early. And then I’d pop down to the canteen and go crazy. Other days, I would feel full and not think about food all afternoon.

I have kept a food journal for the last seven days and I noticed that apart from one day, whenever I eat my lunch in the kitchen (a thirty second walk from my desk, but at least it is not my desk) I feel fuller. When I eat at my desk instead (sometimes working, often just checking personal email and feeds), my brain probably does not even register that I have eaten at all.

I remember hearing somewhere that one should always sit down to eat at a table – and no, a desk is not a table.

The importance of a second opinion

What would you do if your doctor told you that your blood test shows you have a low thyroid so here take these pills for the rest of your life and by the way your cholesterol is high so avoid fatty foods byeee?

I called the surgery back and booked an appointment with the other doctor that comes in once a week on Tuesday.

I saw her today and she told me that:

  • my thyroid is sluggish (it runs in my family) and although it does produce just about all the hormones I need, it does needs a little help;
  • yes, I will have to be on medication but all it does is top up the natural hormone levels with a synthetic version, and it will very likely rid me of all the symptoms I went to see the doctor about in the first place. Go on, I know you are dying to say it: ‘Luca’s on HRT‘;
  • my cholesterol is only very slightly above the recommended level, but this is usually associated with a slow thyroid function and it should go back to normal soon.

It’s not just what you say, it’s also (mostly) how you say it.

Now, in the future I might always ask to see her, and be limited to only get appointments on Tuesday, but I think it’s too much hassle and I have decided to change surgery instead (a friend recommended a very good one that’s near home too).

What would you do?

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Marc de Champagne is brandy made with discarded seeds and skins from Champagne grapes.
  2. Turkey grows 70% to 75% of the world’s hazelnuts.
  3. Kennington Park was the site of public executions until the 1800s, and the speakers’ corner of south London.
  4. Parkour derives from parcours du combattant, the classic obstacle course method of military training. Via Joe.My.God.
  5. Melrose Place is being rebooted. With Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Heather Locklear will not join the cast as ‘there wasn’t a way to bring Amanda back that made sense’. Yeah, as if that ever stopped scriptwriters before.
  6. There is such a thing as a professional nagger. I may have to apply.
  7. Japanese manholes are works of art.

Walking my way into my sunset years

I recently had a bit of bad news concerning my health. Very tiny, nothing to worry about if you are forty-two like me. Taking into account that my doctor is not the greatest at social skills (he stares at his keyboard and answers with monosyllabic grunts), I decided not to worry for the time being and to request a second opinion (which I will have next Tuesday).

After seeing my GP, I felt like walking part of the way to work just to boil off my frustration at him. 3.6 miles.

That evening after work I got out of the tube to check the WWDC keynote live on my mobile, and walked the rest of the way home. 3.6 miles.

On Wednesday I walked part of the way home from work because of the tube strike. 4.2 miles.

And today I walked to and from work (at a different location in Central London). 3.5 miles each way.

Which means that during the last four days I walked 18.4 miles. That’s 29.6 kilometres.

I had already walked to work a few times the (10k) but it is a long distance and very time consuming (1 hour 40 minutes). Doing it half-way is much more manageable and I intend to do it more often. Just as well, as my tolerance for unwashed tube passengers is greatly reduced during the summer months.

I would like to be fit and active for as long as I can, and walking sounds like the kind of activity I could do well into my old age. Oh, and if incidentally my next blood test results come back OK, it would be an added bonus.

So, Milan then

Milan was full of surprises, new things and realisations that life (and I) have moved on since I lived there ten years ago.

On the way out I got to try the Heathrow Express’ e-ticketing with a barcode scanned from my phone (it worked, but I had printed it out anyway just in case, sorry trees). There was a free sandwich and cake and drink in a proper glass on the flight (Lufthansa, not expensive, a nice treat after dozen of Ryanair cattle transport). Once in Milan airport, I rushed to catch the last train and did not notice my friends who had come to pick me up – surprise! And then once in town we found that we had the flat to ourselves, as Giorgio stayed at his boyfriend.

On Saturday we got going too late to drive to the seaside (Liguria) with our friends, so we visited the cathedral. Surprisingly, they let Stuart in wearing shorts (last time there I was banned from entering because of showing my knees – don’t say the Catholic church is not evolving!). Then walked down Via Torino and Corso Porta Ticinese to check out shops. Stuart needed a hat and sunglasses, I needed shorts – the temperature was an unexpected 35 degrees! You can tell how much we care about attire because after popping into Diesel, we went down a downmarket slope via Energie, Gas, then Carhart and Coin (roughly John Lewis-style), to end up making our purchases at Upim (think Primark with less style and twice as expensive).

We took a quick nap then our friends picked us up and went for dinner at La Giara near where we were staying. Great restaurant with Puglia cuisine. Tried very hard to pay but the owner did not let us because Giorgio and Paolo vowed never to eat there again if he did let us pay. Mind games!

Then went to Mono for a few drinks and saw Michele and Emanuele (these are boy’s names in Italian – but they were there with some very glamourous lady friends). This is people I have not seen since I moved to London in 2002. Lovely evening. They played La Roux, didn’t know the song but that screeching falsetto is unmissable. An odd movie was shown on a monitor (I asked, it was Mysterious Skin, I watched at home after I got back, absolutely worth it if a little disturbing). Michele knew about my objectionable musical taste and asked the DJ to play a certain song for me. The DJ (who I was told is a fan of my Barbie dolls) obliged – with a Spanish version I had never heard!

On Sunday we spent the day with Giorgio. We walked a lot, again around 35 degrees. Walked to the cathedral, had lunch and then a fantastic icecream at Chocolat (I had chocolate orange and peanut brittle). Went to the castle but did not go in, then strolled through the park. Had an Aperol Spritz in Via Dante, met Michele and Antonio and then went from air-conditioned shop to air-conditioned shop. Went home to change then walked to Paolo’s for dinner. His flat was an oasis of cool (air-conditioned fortunately), with a huge terrace (that we just popped out on, it was still stupidly hot). I had my first Aperol with Orangina (interesting, sweeter than usual) and another couple of culinary ‘firsts’: Tuscan ‘crostini’, and home-made pansotti with pesto brought back from Liguria (pesto had added French beans, found out sometimes it is done with potatoes too).

On Monday we tried to do all the rest. Went up the roof of the cathedral, then to the Scala theatre, went back to the castle but it was closed, tried to see Da Vinci’s last supper but it was closed, so we had icecream instead (it made sense at the time). Met Giorgio and his colleague Simona for lunch, then walked to Via Sammartini, the ‘gay street’ which these days looks all shut or run down, perhaps it is busy in the evenings? Slowly made our way home via Via Orefici where we had probably the most expensive drink of our lives: two Aperol spritz for 24 Euro (not even with the customary bowl of little snacks). It must be said that the terrace of the bar overlooked the cathedral.

Went back to the flat, showered and packed, and as usual left for the airport well over three hours before departure – just in case. Once at the airport, we realised we (er, I) had mixed up flight times and we had another three hours before departure. And the flight was delayed. Fortunately Milan airport has a lot of shops. Then you go through security and you have another lot of shops, so we passed the time somehow. Once in Heathrow, we managed to jump on the last train to London, then taxi home.

It was just three days, but it felt like a much longer holiday. It must be the temperature and all that sun. Fantastic. Although no tan to show for it because we lathered with once-a-day total protection every morning. A few photos on Flickr.

On holiday soon, again

I have recently drawn up a budget and started sticking to it – or trying to, considering many of my close friends are turning 40 this year and I like giving nice gifts on such an circumstance.

One of the items that needed monitoring is my holidays expense. I had spent thousands of pounds in the space of twelve months one year ago – but I did go to Iceland, New York, Australia, Madrid and a few times to Italy.

I have given myself a generous allowance, am putting some money away every month and checking how much I spend. I am so far doing OK, and it has helped me figure out what I can and cannot do.

I will not be able, for instance, to go to Madrid Pride again this year, no matter how much I would like to. If you have the cash and the inclination, it is guaranteed to be a fantastic party, as people take over the street for fiesta Spanish-style for a whole weekend.

I might, however, go to Berlin, because I have not been in over ten years and I am very curious to check out Folsom Europe in September.

And this year I have already gone to Italy twice: once in February to purchase furniture for my new flat, which took three trips to IKEA – two hours each way by car, and once in April to put the furniture together and finalise the order for the kitchen (which was mainly done via email). I will also go to Italy again at the end of May, but this time it will be to see a friend in Milan. I used to live there and I have not been since moving back to London in 2002.

Oh, and soon I will be in a French chateau with a bunch of friends (Stuart paid for my accommodation as my birthday present this year), followed by a weekend in Paris, another city where I spent seven years and don’t go back to as often as I would like to.

Can you tell I love travelling? If money and time off work were not an issue, I would probably be on the road even more often than I do now. Having said that, I’m doing rather well as it is.

My week on the web

Here are the websites I bookmarked into my del.icio.us account over the past seven days:

I slept through Watchmen

Last night I paid 13 pound 50 for the privilege of sleeping for 160 minutes at the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, the largest cinema screen in the UK.

I seldom go to the cinema because as much as I love films, my attention span does not allow me to concentrate for longer than about 45 minutes. As a result, there are dozens of films I have only watched halfway.

But last night had to be different, I thought. I was really looking forward to seeing Watchmen, there was a fun group of ten of us going, and I had taken all the necessary precautions to be awake and alert:

  • I went to work early, left early and went home for a short nap (which turned out to be just a lie down and a rest, but that’s good enough);
  • I ate a light dinner before leaving, to avoid stocking up on popcorn/nachos/similar sleep-inducing crap;
  • I did not drink alcohol before the show;
  • I took two caffeine pills half an hour before the start (my first intake of caffeine for several months), and a third one just as we entered the theatre; and
  • I took off my coat not to be too hot.

So I sat down, watched the trailers, watched the first scene, and as the opening credits started rolling, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I fell asleep before the film even star… Zzzzzzz z z z’.

Funny indeed.

I woke up 2 hours and 40 minutes later when the lights came up and people were starting to leave, with the disappointing feeling I had just seen a very sleek (and short) music clip. At six pounds seventy-five per minute.

It breaks my heart to say this, but it will be a while before I dare entering a theatre again.

Good morning Bob



Good morning Bob, originally uploaded by bitful.

Our cactus only gets watered during British Summer Time (once a week). It’s been thriving for about 5 years now, not bad for a cheap Ikea plant.

So every year in the last Sunday in March we put the clocks forward and water Bob (that’s what we call it, no idea why), then make yawning noises and pretend it’s Bob waking up after months of hibernation.

This year we followed the yawning with expressions of surprise and spatial disorientation, because the new (larger) sofa made us move Bob while it was sleeping.

I’m 42, Stuart is 39, and I hope we will be just as silly in thirty years’ time.

My week on the web

Here are the websites I bookmarked into my del.icio.us account over the past seven days:

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Jodrell Bank is not a bank.
  2. Belarus is the only European country to carry out executions.
  3. The vocals on Michael Gray’s The Weekend and De Souza’s Guilty are both from the same woman (Shena)
  4. It is possible (but unadvisable) to lose 30 pounds in 24 hours (as in weight, not money).
  5. You can be ‘debaptised’ from the Catholic Church, but not from the Church of England because it does not regard baptism as a sign of membership.
  6. The number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships is commonly approximated to 150 (Dunbar’s number).
  7. The iPhone is not big in Japan.

How to achieve your goals faster: Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law states that

‘work expands to fill the time available’.

With that in mind, when you set yourself a goal it is useful to pick a date that is realistically achievable, but not too comfortable.

This is why when I decided I wanted to run a 10-mile race (never having run longer than 10 kilometres), I gave myself four weeks to train up to that distance (including the Christmas break).

As a result, I ran twice during my short Christmas break (and discovered a beautiful trail around some artificial lakes near Stuart’s parents in Staffordshire).

Unfortunately, I was wearing trainers that were inappropriate for a countryside run, ended up injuring my right foot and could not take part in the Tadworth Ten 2009 10 mile race in early January.

Sounds more like Sod’s law than Parkinson’s law. But my last training run was 10 miles. Success.

Anyway, lessons learnt:

  1. Do not save money on running shoes. I now wear a pair of Asics GT-2140 worth 85 pounds. You do not need to spend as much, I did because my foot demanded it.
  2. If even just one element of your run is new, go easy, be it type of surface, location, gear or climate.
  3. If you leave it alone, it will go away. I went to see a doctor just to make sure it wasn’t anything serious, and a little over two months afterwards my foot was fine again. I had, however, to stop running for the whole period.

Gay roller disco



Gay roller disco, originally uploaded by bitful.

Renaissance Rooms, Miles Street, London first Wednesday of the month.

My birthday surprise



My birthday surprise, originally uploaded by bitful.

Stuart is taking me to see Avenue Q. I had a hunch this might be the
surprise, and am over the moon that I was right.

Sitting on the middle of the front row of the royal circle right now.
Curtain up in five minutes. Very excited!