An Afternoon in Florence

Hmm …

I debated taking the short train ride to revisit Florence, one of the most popular tourists cities in the world.

And on a sunny Saturday in May?

A hot, crowded tourist trap. The over-priced attractions were all lined-up and impossible to enter. BEST book your tickets online.

The one place I wanted to pay to visit was the Boboli Gardens. But the line-up at the ticket wicket was too much for me.

My favourite stop was Michelangelo Square, for the panoramic vista.

If you are some sort of puritanical prude, convinced you’ll burn in Hell if you see God’s creation without clothing — don’t come to Florence.

Michelangelo Gay porn is everywhere. 😀

I did my own walking tour of the major plazas and oldest bridge, Ponte Vecchio.

As a fan of statuary, Florence is a terrific outdoor gallery.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

On the advice of the waiter at a chic eatery 😀 called Porks in the central market (Mercato Centrale) in Florence, I had Tagliatelle with Amatriciana sauce for lunch. Better than Bolognese, I thought.

Amatriciana sauce on Tagliatelle

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Five connected stories.

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and… no qualms about a little murder.

… funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten …

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. …

Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, and she likes it that way.


Vancouver’s 1st POD hostel

I’ve stayed in a number of pods over the years.

BEST was in the Canary Islands – Atypicap Capsule Hostel. USD $26.15 / night.

The worst nation in the world for accommodation options is Canada. And Vancouver one of the most expensive cities.

So I was enthusiastic to try the new Panda Pod Hotel near the airport.

Reviews are pretty good on TripAdvissor.

It’s ideal for someone who has a layover at the Vancouver airport — and who wants to get some sleep and a shower.

I’ll definitely be staying there in future.

Easy transportation via train.

Cost is about USD $61. Expensive for a hostel bed, but not expensive compared with other options in Vancouver. A friend got a room in a Richmond AirBnB for not much more, however.

It’s one big room full of independent bunk beds. A bit crowded.

Luggage storage is convenient. First item free, second piece will be charged at $5 per night per item. HOWEVER — they won’t store a bike or bike box. I had to take a taxi back to the airport and check it into airport luggage storage. (Maximum 48 hours).

The Perfect Assassin by Patterson & Sitts

James Patterson partnered with Brian Sitts to reboot the Doc Savage stories from the 1930s and 1940s.

In the NEW book (2022) — Dr. Brandt Savage, a professor of anthropology is kidnapped off the street by the enigmatic Meed and is schooled in the fine art of assassination

In fact, Meed makes him something of a superman. Physically and mentally transformed.

But why?

Brandt is the great-grandson of the original Doc Savage. He has the right genetics to do what Meed needs him to do.

YES. It’s dumb. The plot makes no sense. Like the original pulp fiction, perhaps.

Detectorists – season 1&2

A most British comedy. 😀

Bad teeth and all.

96%+ on Rotten Tomatoes.

… The plot revolves around the lives, loves and metal-detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club. …

The show ran for three series from 2014 to 2017, including a 2015 Christmas special. A further Christmas special aired in 2022. …

Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times “can’t recommend it enough”, saying: “Like the ordinary lives it magnifies, Detectorists has the air of seeming to be small and immense at once, to be about hardly anything and almost everything. It is full of space and packed with life.” …


Diana Rigg had a funny role in this series. Sadly, she died in 2020.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

I’ll bet you can’t pronounce Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. 😀

Yrsa, born 1963, is an Icelandic author.

Last Rituals (2005) is the first book in her Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series.

Good, not great, is my review.

The premise is interesting:

At a university in Reykjavík, the body of a young German student is discovered, his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest.

Police waste no time in making an arrest, but the victim’s family isn’t convinced that the right man is in custody.

They ask Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney and single mother of two, to investigate.It isn’t long before Thóra and her associate, Matthew Reich, uncover the deceased student’s obsession with Iceland’s grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts.

But there are very contemporary horrors hidden in the long, cold shadow of dark traditions. And for two suddenly endangered investigators, nothing is quite what it seems . . . and no one can be trusted.


I NEED a First-Person-View (FPV) Drone

My retirement hobby is making hiking videos.

Best of all is drone video.

What’s next?

Certainly I’ll be getting an FPV drone … sometime.

If I HAD to buy one today, it would be the DJI Avata. But the price of U.S. $1428 is too steep.

That will come down quickly.

My current drones cost me about U.S. $300 each.

Here’s the kind of fun shots you can plan and shoot with an FPV. It’s radically different than a normal drone.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux is a jerk. But the most skillful writer I can name.

And he’s had a house in Hawaii for over 30 years.

Under the Wave at Waimea is his 2021 novel. Good insight into surf culture.

Professional Hawaiian surfer Joe Sharkey, the protagonist of Paul Theroux’s superb new novel, “Under the Wave at Waimea,” is in trouble — even before he accidentally kills a bicyclist on a dark, rain-drenched road on Oahu’s North Shore.
Old-timers recognize and are thrilled to meet “the Shark,” as he’s nicknamed.
But to the younger surfing crowd, 62-year-old Joe is “just another leathery geezer in flip-flops.”
In short, he’s feeling old.
“When did it happen?” he wonders. “It wasn’t sudden — no illness, no failure; it had stolen upon him.” …

An aging surfer comes to terms with mortality in Paul Theroux’s superb ‘Under the Wave at Waimea’

The Shark starts to fall apart after the accident. His  38-year-old girlfriend has him tested, but it doesn’t seem to be related to Alzheimer’s.

Joe starts telling the same old stories. Over and over again. I did enjoy the ones about Hunter S Thompson in Hawaii. 😀

Theroux is in his 80’s now. I’m thinking aging is much on his mind.

There’s a flashback to Joe’s school days. How he became a surfer. Hawaiian kids at Joe’s school did not appreciate the Haole. White man.

It could be adapted for television.

BUY only the Cheapest MacBook Air

I’m using a 2022 MacBook Air right now.

M2 chip with 8Gb of memory.

And that’s PLENTY to edit 1080p video from 4k clips.

In fact, the least expensive MacBook Air is plenty enough power for 99% of the population.

The one downside of the cheapest Air is that it ships with a pitiful 30W USB-C Power brick. Recharging the Air is … SLLLLLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW. 😕

You can upgrade to a 100W brick for CAD $72 right now.

But I prefer the UGREEN Nexode 100W charger for CAD $68.

Smaller. More compact. And it has 3 USB-C ports and 1 USB-A port which I find enough for most of my daily charging needs.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz

Forever and a Day is a 2018 James Bond novel written by Anthony Horowitz and featuring original material by James Bond creator Ian Fleming.

prequel to the events of Casino Royale, the book recounts Bond’s first mission as a double-0 agent …

Set in the French Riviera in 1950, Bond investigates the killing of the previous man designated 007 …

The Bond girl in this one is impressive – Joanne “Sixtine / Madame 16” Brochet.