Category Archives: The Human Experience

Comments about the state of mankind.

Italy Day 16, Sperlonga, Tyberius’ Villa, Tivoli


In retrospect, today was a very full day. We touched on so many things: historical, culinary, visual.  From the beach to a hill top town, from 1st century BC to a local bar playing beach boys.  We had one miss and one near disaster (that wasn’t). Everything else was perfect.  What a glorious day!


Virgilio Grand Hotel


The Hotel Entrance


The Lounge, the Virgilio Hotel Is Modern

Breakfast was included at Hotel Poseidon. We ate at the hotel and walked the old town of Sperlonga one more time.  Ellen said, “I could stay here a month”  Sperlonga is a beautiful community, though there might not be enough cultural events for a months stay.


It Was Too Cold To Setup Breakfast Outside


Tropical Pizza, Highly Rated but Slow Food?

A Pictorial Walk Around Sperlonga













































Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga


Sperlonga Seen From Tiberius’ Villa


The Path to the Ruins of Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga

The hotel concierge strongly advised that we visit Tiberius’ Villa and Grotto, which is a few kilometers south of Sperlonga.  I knew tiberius had a villa atop the blue grotto with a stairway down into the grotto, but not about Sperlonga! Back at the hotel, we brought our luggage down and I went out back for the car.  It was GONE! It was simply not there!  Not here, not around the corner, GONE!

I frantically went back to the hotel desk, “scusi, my car is gone!”  “oh, we moved it down stairs.  It’s on level –2.”  Whew!  And it was on level –2.


Walking the Ruins, Sperlonga

Driving to Tiberius’ Villa, meant retracing our drive south about three kilometers.  The turn off for parking is not well marked.  The first clue the driver has something is coming up is the bus parking to the left you notice just as you drive by a small blue “P” and arrow to the right. Down the road some there are place to turn around.  Even knowing where the turn in for parking is, it is easy to drive by.  The entrance is quite small.  You drive down a short steep road.  The road goes straight take a turn to the right and park in a dirt/grass area.  We found the last parking space.  I thought we might be parked in when we leave.


Raised pools, Tiberius’ Grotto, Sperlonga


Water Once Flowed Through The Pipes (holes)


A Statue Left Outside (hard to access?)

The entrance to the villa from the parking area is not marked at all.  From parking you walk 100 meters to an access road.  Left takes you back to the main road.  Right takes you down to the sea. “Scusi, dov’e la villa di Tiberius?  e la?” (pointing to the right). “No e la” (fellow points to the left)  That saved us a walk down to the sea and back! Up to the Villa.


Close-up of the Ancient Pipes


Fishing Here Is Still Good!


Small Fish in the Lower Pool


Large Fish in the Upper Pool


Our Single Busload of Tourists


The Ruins a Different Perspective


Ellen, Having a Great Time!


View from Tiberius’ Lair: Sperlonga & Ellen


Description of Tiberius’ Grotto, In Italian Of Course

Instead we found the entrance to a museum. “Dov’e la villa di Tiverius?”  It worked once, lt’s see what the museum official says.  “e qui”.  Cool, in we go.  You pay a few euro to tour both the museum which houses incredible status and then tour the grounds of the ruins of what once was Tiberius’ Villa.  Tiberius knew how to position his homes.  This on is situated on a relatively flat  expanse that runs right to the sea.  To the left is a grotto.  To the right is the Lido that leads to Sperlonga.  It’s a moderate walk from here to there.  Directly in front of the villa, now ruins, is a rocky seafront.  There was a fellow spear fishing on the rocks.  The fishing must be pretty good.  The grotto pools with their array of huge fish were fenced off.


Some English at the bottom!


Location of Statues in Tiberius’ Grotto

The statues in the museum depict scenes from Homer’s Odysseus. The Slaying of the cyclops is very well sculpted in white marble. It is a huge statue with many parts.  Interestingly Tiberius had these statues placed in the grotto.  Tiberius himself had living space in the grotto.  The museum is small.  It houses the statues that were recovered from the cave.


Odyusseus and the Cyclops


Cyclops, Close Up





How The Art Might Have Looked


What is Left Today


It is a short walk to the entrance to Tiberius’ Villa, which is now a series of low walls marking the boundaries of houses and plazas.  It is small compared to Pompeii. Then a villa is quite small compared with a town or city. To me the most amazing thing about the villa is the Grotto.  There are two man-made pools fronting the grotto. I imagine one was cold water, the other hot.  These look to be fed by a freshwater spring.  There is evidence of fire in some places inside the cave. It could be caused by Tiberius’ candles or lamps or perhaps by modern teenagers in the 16oo’s lighting bonfires in the caves.  Perhaps both are true.


Marble Come To Life

A tour group arrived with us.  Tour groups typically move quickly through sites. This one did as well. Here one moment and headed for the exit the next.  “Check, got that one”.  Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to linger in striking places to soak in the history or the beauty of the place (both?).  The Grotto faced the perfect sand beach that stretched in an arc for two kilometers.  It has access to great rock fishing and fresh water pools.  What a wonderful place to relax.  I must admit I know very little of Tiberius.  Curiosity will drive me to read more about Italy’s roots.  It is clear that someone or some group of some ones really had it in for Tiberius.  Everything he has touched was severely trashed.  It brings to mind current US politics. Basta! (enough of that)



The skies had darkened as we walked the ruins.  A drop or two fell as we left for our car.  The promised rains were coming.  I drove on to Terracina with Ellen and our GPS units navigating.  We planned to eat lunch in Terracina


Terracina, Coming

It was a dark gray, rainy drive to terracina.  Learning from Gaeta, this time I drove along the coast.  We found nothing of particular interest in a long drive around and back into town. If there was an old town, we didn’t find it.  Headed back out of town we passed a very appealing restaurant on our right.  Stop, backup, park.  “Do you think we can park here?” “Look, they did.  We should be ok”


Terracina, Going!

This is About How We Felt About Terracina, Wet and Out Of Focus

We walked into the restaurant. It was packed.  Ellen headed for the Toilette while I tried in vain to get someone’s attention. Perhaps ten minutes later, a fellow who looked like the owner walked by. “Scusi, posso mangiare qui?”  “No.” Followed by  stream of Italian that was unrecognizable to me.  I get this often now.  We’ve been given menus in Italian later to have them swapped for the English ones when I becomes apparent we have no idea what’s on the menu.  It is Easter today.  The restaurant had probably been booked for weeks in advance.  No wonder nobody even noticed us when we walked in; or when we walked out.  Another day without lunch, but that’s OK.  We’re headed to Tivoli.

On the Road

Our car needed to be fed too.  We could probably have driven through to Tivoli, but a service stop presented itself and we took it.  Cars to the left, trucks to the right: ok.  Food to the right gas straight ahead; oops.  I drove in the out to get back to the food court.  It was an extensive food court with fast food (pizza, calzone, beer), made to order pasta dishes, salads and vegetables, trinkets and souvenir sales.  We each had a slice of pizza.  Ellen’s was vegetable with a crunchy crust.  Mine was cheese and peperoni with a soggy crust. The crust is everything.  It was a fair lunch, the least memorable thus far.



Free Street Parking!


Trip Advisor Loves B&B Il Giardino


The View Isn’t That Bad Either.

With the alfa fed, we sped off to Tivoli.  There was relatively little traffic; we made very good time.  Approching Tivoli we switched from the clueless Garmin to the mostly ok Google Maps (again thank you TIM, Palermo!).  Still we drove into town, out of town, back into town, then up the correct street without seeing B&B Il Gardino.  “Wow, a parking space”, I zipped in and parked.  We found the B&B very close by. The sign was prominent if you are walking by, but not so much if driving.  It was mid afternoon when we arrived.


We have a Patio and a View over the Valley

Omar came right away when we rang the front bell.  He checked us in and showed us our room.  It was comfortable and had a view of the valley over the tops of the homes just below.

An Afternoon Walk Tivoli

Tivoli, the historic town of Tivoli, is small and build on a hill side.  We walked the upper city.


Tivoli’s Upper Square


The Arch, Tivoli


We Missed the Castle, Tivoli


Valle D’Este

Tivloi Gardens were open and closing at 7:30.  The group of eight ahead of us chose not to enter, it was too expensive.  No problem for two @ 8 euro each.

We walked the gardens until we were literally shooed out at 7:20.  But I thought they closed at 7:30!

I’m trying WordPress’ album and slideshow feature to see if we like it.  Tell us what you think.  -ron



Eden 2.0

The sun was sinking low on the horizon as we walked back toward “home”.  We had noticed a bar with an appealing view and stepped in to watch sunset over a drink.  We were seated at the “window”.  There were no windows, just a low railing and an expansive view.  Sunset, Beer, and Limoncello: Heaven.


Eden 2.0


Waiting for Our Order, Eden 2.0, Tivoli


A Tivoli Sunset from Eden 2.0’s Balcony

Ristorante Sibilla

Back at the apartment we freshened up and went out for dinner armed with two recommendations for dinner.  One for authentic local food, the other with a 10% discount.  It was dark by now and we navigated by a tourist map.  These maps are next to useless.  We managed to find the local food restaurant, but it was closed.  Most everything seemed closed on the narrow streets we walked.  OK, let’s find the other one.  Like streets in Boston, there was no way to know where a street would lead.  Some would go straight then zig left.  Others connected to the right only.  We were lost.  We asked directions from two woman who spoke perfect Italian, but no English. Back up the hill and to the left, is what we took away.  We went back up the hill, left, then down hill to the river.

I saw a restaurant across the river, but that was not the one recommended.  It was il Ciocco, which I remembered as having a great view of the river and waterfall, but not so great food.  After dark, there is no view.  TIM & ItalPhone to the rescue.  Ellen mentioned that they might be closed by now.  “Yes, we are open.  The kitchen closes at 10.  Pronto, Pronto”  We arrived at Ristorante Sibilla at 9:20.  We were seated right away.  Our waiter enjoyed talking with us in English (how hard will it be to learn some Italian?)  We had a good time talking with him too.  I had a simple classic dish of paste with pecorino cheese and pepper, Ellen had cheese ravioli.  My dish was fantastic.  The combination of fresh paste, virgin olive oil, some butter, pecorino cheese, and pepper was what Mac&Cheese should be.  It was mouthwatering  The cheese in Ellen’s ravioli was superb.  I very highly recommend Ristorante Sibilla.  The house wine was excellent as well.

We found our way home by following the main street uphill to Tivoli’s upper square.

Hello from Amalfi, Italy


In preparation four our trip to Italy next spring, We have enrolled in a few on-line “learn Italian” classes.   At least I’ll be able to say “My sandwich is cold or hot”!  I’ve also subscribed to some interesting Italian websites to keep touch with a few of the towns we will visit.  Here’s the latest update from an Amalfi news letter.


Ready for the festive holiday season in Amalfi!

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The holiday atmosphere arrived in Amalfi at the end of November just in time for the Festival of Sant’ Andrea. Every year, Amalfi is decked out for Christmas and also for the winter celebration of the town’s patron saint on November 30th. It was a gloriously sunny day for the procession and the town was packed. Once again the incredible statue of Sant’ Andrea was carried through town, along the beach for a special benediction and safely run (yes run!) up the steps of the Duomo. It’s always quite the event to experience!

Winter has been treating us very kindly so far this year on the Amalfi Coast. Warmer than usual temperatures and sunny weather have meant unexpected lunches out dining by the sea. It’s a gorgeous view any time of the year, but especially so now as it feels like gift.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means the Christmas sweets have arrived! Pasticceria Pansa in Amalfi makes my favorite dessert for the season – their mostaccioli ripieni. These are chocolates filled with a rich chocolate filling infused with orange, rum and cinnamon. Heavenly! I look forward to these chocolates all year long. Pansa also has a lemon panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas sweet bread, but with an Amalfi twist!

As this year comes to a close, I wanted to say grazie for following my journey on the Amalfi Coast and being a part of Ciao Amalfi. Wherever and however you are celebrating, I wish you a peaceful holiday season and wonderful start to 2017!

xoxo … Laura

PS: I’ve recently revamped Ciao Amalfi’s Pinterest page to be more helpful and inspirational. Join in and let me know if you’re on Pinterest. I’ll follow you back!



Book Review | The Amalfi Coast Up Close & Personal
Still looking for the perfect gift for a special someone who loves the Amalfi Coast? Get them Chantal Kelly’s latest book and you’ll be very popular! Read more …

Visiting the Amalfi Coast in the Winter – 5 Things You Need to Know
I love the Amalfi Coast off season, and I’ve shared five things you need to know to plan a fun winter trip to the Amalfi Coast. Read more …

Fountain Nativity Scenes in Amalfi
The holiday atmosphere is in the air and Amalfi’s two unique fountain nativity scenes are ready for Christmas. There’s even one that represents the shops and people of Amalfi! Read more …



What’s On in December

See all Amalfi Coast Events here.



Winter is a quiet time in Amalfi’s harbor. But when the weather is nice, even in December there are a few boats running for tours along the coast. See more and follow my new daily Instagram Story for Ciao Amalfi here.


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Why Did 53 Percent of White Women Voters Go for Donald Trump?

Why Did 53 Percent of White Women Voters Go for Donald Trump?






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Margaret Power is a Professor of History at Illinois Tech and the author of Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine Power and the Struggle against Allende, 1964-1973.

I was swimming in the public pool near my house on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016, a few days after the presidential election. The pool is divided into lanes and swimmers are expected to swim in their lanes. The pool was very crowded because of the holiday. A white man came in, surveyed the pool, and jumped into my lane. Soon, he was bearing down on me. I felt intimidated because he was a very aggressive swimmer and much larger than me. Afterwards I talked about what happened in the shower with the other women who had seen it all. Instead of ignoring his intrusion or of asking the guards to deal with it, I decided to speak to the man myself.

One woman who I just met said she would accompany me to talk with him. We went out, he was no longer in the pool. Then he came out of the dressing room. I went up to him and spoke with him. He apologized and the incident ended.

What, you may be asking, does this have to do with the majority of white women voters voting for Trump? In and of itself, the incident is fairly pedestrian, not all that much really happened, and it ended well. The other women swimmers supported me; the guards were ready to back me up. I explained to the man what he had done and suggested he should have asked me if we could share the limited space, and he apologized. But because the incident took place after the Trump “victory,” and in the middle of a most unsettling and depressing week, I thought about my feelings and what, if any, bearing they had on why so many white women voted for a misogynist and racist.

What I realized is that I felt fear as the man in the pool bore down on me. I was scared he might run into me and I might get hurt. I felt afraid that if I said something to him while I was in the water he might do something to me. And all this, mind you, took place when I was surrounded by friends, where I have been swimming for over twenty years. And the four life guards, who I have known for years, were close by. In fact, it is the very safeness of the situation that made me realize how pervasive and insidious is the fear that pervades much of our lives, consciously or unconsciously.


Root Of Evil by Cody Pogue (Letter to Editor Printed In Kingwood Observer)

Of course this fear is gendered (and raced and classed). When I grew up I was taught by my mother, in school and by society in general, that as I female I was weaker than men and therefore I should simultaneously acquiesce to them so as not to make them angry and rely on them for protection. In many ways, the women’s movement has transformed how I, and so many women, understand and deal with our fear. It has helped us to look to ourselves and to other women as our safety system and our team. I talked about what happened in the pool with the other women there and I felt quite capable of speaking to the man myself. Yet, and unfortunately that yet persists, I did feel scared and I did not want to confront the man alone, in the pool, wearing only my swimsuit.

Right-Wing Women in Chile

For years, I studied and wrote about right-wing women in Chile, the women who opposed the government of the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende and supported the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. I wanted to understand why the majority of women in Chile, not just wealthy women, looked to military rule as the solution to their problems. Their problems primarily concerned the shortages in foodstuffs and basic necessities, such as toothpaste or toilet paper, which occurred during the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973). The U.S. government, working in conjunction with the Chilean Right, landowners, and factory owners consciously worked to create these shortages in order to generate popular dissatisfaction with the Allende government. The lack of goods hit and hurt working class women most directly, since they lacked other resources to feed, clothe, and maintain their families.

However, it was not just the shortages that caused women to oppose the Popular Unity government. In addition, a large number of women responded negatively to the rapid social transformations that took place during the Popular Unity years (1970-1973). Many middle and most upper-class women detested the heightened status working-class people acquired with the new government and the increased challenges young people posed to parental strictures on their lives. They, along with many working-class women, also disliked the street fighting and somewhat chaotic nature of politics at the time. Although for many Chileans the Popular Unity government represented an improved standard of living, integration into national and local politics, a sense of empowerment, and a fuller expression of democracy, for other Chileans, and most especially for many Chilean women, it represented turmoil and insecurity. For these reasons, a majority of women (but only a minority of men), implored the military to overthrow the democratically elected government and take power. And that is exactly what the Chilean military did on September 11, 1973. For the next seventeen years, General Pinochet ruled Chile with repression and terror. Oblivious or indifferent to the suffering the Pinochet regime inflicted on many Chileans, a large number of Chilean women embraced it. For them, the regime represented security and the restoration of the Chile they knew and loved. In their eyes, Pinochet was making Chile great again.


Republicans, Democrats, and Bernie Sanders: Expanding America’s Political Dialogue

White Women and Fear

Although Chile in the early 1970s was very different from the United States in 2016, there are nonetheless important parallels. For many white people in this country, the idea, let alone the reality, of a Black man as president was simply unacceptable. Although Obama never posed the challenge to the capitalist system that Salvador Allende, a Marxist, did, for many white people Obama’s presidency threatened the white supremacist conception of power and privilege that has ruled the United States from day one. The Obama presidency, combined with the growing number of non-white people in this country, challenged many white people’s, perhaps especially older ones, sense of the correct social order. Many members of this demographic see diversity and a multicultural nation not as a strength but as a direct threat to the position they believe they are entitled to hold because they are white, and, they believe, members of the superior race.

However, there is also a gendered element to white people’s support for Trump. The majority of white women who voted (and of course some non-white women) in the United States voted for Donald Trump. How can we explain why these women would vote for a man who boasted of fondling women? A man who a number of women has accused of sexually abusing them? Trump has vowed to eliminate abortion and women’s right to control their body, which is not surprising since he has always exerted his right to control women’s bodies. Yet, the majority of white women voters voted for him. (Of course, some women voted for him specifically because he promised to appoint a Supreme Court judge who opposed abortion.)


There Are Ways To Remove The Demand For Abortions by Cody Pogue – Kingwood Observer

For these women, as was true for the conservative women in Chile who sought the overthrow of Salvador Allende, the politics of fear conditioned and defined their political choice. In the face of a threat to their perceived position of racial superiority; of terrorism carried out, in their minds, exclusively by Muslims; and of the “hordes” of non-white people pouring over the U.S. borders, the 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump, looked to this self-defined strong man as a source of security. He, they believed, would protect them from these multiple threats, and they, in turn, would offer him their vote and their loyalty. This is the Faustian bargain the majority of white women who cast their ballots for Trump were willing to make to secure the empty promise of making America great again.

Consciously or unconsciously, the rejection of Hillary Clinton was based, in part, on these women’s belief that no matter what she said or did, she just wasn’t tough enough. They wanted a man like “no one is going to push me around” Trump to do the job.

Although I don’t know for sure, I assume that these women, or at least the majority of them, do not consider themselves feminists in any progressive sense, since everything Trump stands for is antithetical to fundamental feminist beliefs and values. Although some of these women, perhaps those who belong to Catholic or Evangelical congregations may look to each other for support, it is undeniable they rely on Donald Trump, one of the more odious examples of brutal patriarchy, to protect and defend them.

Given this sad reality, we, as feminists, need to redouble our bonds of sisterhood and our vision of a non-racist, non-heterosexist, anti-colonial, non-United –States-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-world movement. We must continue to struggle against class oppression, for disabled rights, and for the environment and global health. We can and do look to each other and others who are struggling alongside of us to make this vision a reality.

I wrote this because to stimulate discussion and understanding about why 53 percent of white women who voted cast their ballots for Trump. I hope it will generate ideas about where we go from here. I look forward to your thoughts.

Humm, maybe it’s time for us all to cash in on this… what fake news will you write today?

Fake News: How a Partying Macedonian Teen Earns Thousands Publishing Lies



Fake News: How This Teenager in Macedonia Is Striking It Rich3:53

VELES, Macedonia — Dimitri points to a picture on his Instagram showing a bar table decked with expensive champagne and sparklers.

It’s from his 18th birthday just four months ago — a lavish party in his east European hometown that he says wouldn’t have been possible without President-elect Donald Trump.

Dimitri — who asked NBC News not to use his real name — is one of dozens of teenagers in the Macedonian town of Veles who got rich during the U.S. presidential election producing fake news for millions on social media.

The articles, sensationalist and often baseless, were posted to Facebook, drawing in armies of readers and earning fake-news writers money from penny-per-click advertising.

Dimitri says he’s earned at least $60,000 in the past six months — far outstripping his parents’ income and transforming his prospects in a town where the average annual wage is $4,800. He is one of the more successful fake news pushers in the area.

His main source of cash? Supporters of America’s president-elect.

“Nothing can beat Trump’s supporters when it comes to social media engagement,” he says. “So that’s why we stick with Trump.”

Image: Dimitri looks out over the Macedonian town of Veles

Dimitri looks out over the Macedonian town of Veles Alexander Smith / NBC News

Even with the presidential contest over and Google and Facebook’s plans to crack down on fake news makers, money continues to pour in.

Posts about Hillary Clinton are also a hit — but only negative ones.

“I have mostly written about her emails, what is contained in her emails, the Benghazi tragedy, maybe her illness that she had,” Dimitri adds, but now he’s moved on to headlines like: “Trey Gowdy Revealed His EPIC Plan To Imprison Hillary Now That Election’s Over, SHE IS DONE!”

Dimitri’s sole aim is to make his stories go viral.

His most popular headlines during the election included: “JUST IN: Obama Illegally Transferred DOJ Money To Clinton Campaign!” and “BREAKING: Obama Confirms Refusal To Leave White House, He Will Stay In Power!”


The Fight Against Fake News 7:34

The teenager is unrepentant about any influence his stories may have had on swaying public opinion.

“I didn’t force anyone to give me money,” he says. “People sell cigarettes, they sell alcohol. That’s not illegal, why is my business illegal? If you sell cigarettes, cigarettes kill people. I didn’t kill anyone.”

The same weekend that NBC spent with Dimitri, a gunman opened fire in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. The shooter told police he was motivated by a fake news story. The pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong, was accused online of hosting a pedophile ring run by Democratic leaders.

Asked about the incident this week, Dimitri claimed he wasn’t familiar with the story nor the people who had spread it online.

A Modern Gold Rush

Image: Students arrive in their High school 'Kosta Racin' in the town of Veles

Students arrive at their high school in Veles in November. GEORGI LICOVSKI / EPA

The small, rust-belt town of Veles has found itself in the international spotlight after investigations by BuzzFeed and the Guardian traced more than 100 fake news domain names here.

The fake news bonanza couldn’t have come against a more jarring backdrop.

Once part of communist Yugoslavia, the Republic of Macedonia has a population of 2.1 million in a landlocked area about the size Vermont. Blanketed by rugged mountains, parts of the country have enjoyed a tourism surge in recent years.

But vacationers won’t find Veles in many travel guides. The town of 50,000 is almost an hour’s drive down a lonely, crumbling highway from the capital, Skopje.

Image: A map of Eastern Europe

Macedonia is landlocked by Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Greece. Google Maps

Visitors are greeted by a distressed mosaic of red-roofed buildings, densely stacked onto a steep mountainside. Industrial smokestacks add to a wintry fog settling over the valley — though even their output has diminished after several recent factory closures.

Almost a quarter of Macedonians are currently unemployed — a rate around five times higher than in the U.S.

But the burdens that weigh on Veles might also explain why it’s become a global hotbed for fake news.

High unemployment and a close-knit community meant that when Dimitri and others started making money, word quickly spread and everyone wanted a piece of the action.

Most teens here speak fluent English, allowing them to quickly navigate through reams of Western news sites and pinpoint potentially viral content.

Dimitri estimates there are now 300 locals dabbling in fake news, with at least 50 making “decent money,” and around a dozen making “a lot.” He says he’s not quite at the top of the pecking order, but not far off.


How to Outsmart Fake News 1:11

But he is no scrappy teenager. Dimitri is bright, with an obvious aptitude for business.

He won’t show NBC News his profile on Google AdSense, an online advertising service that allows websites to make money, to protect five other teenagers who asked him not to reveal aspects of their shared interests. He’s also wary of revealing his full income, worried it will make him a target for thieves, or worse.

However, he does show NBC News a digital receipt from Google showing he earned more than $8,000 from the web giant in September. He says this was just one of several advertising accounts, and claims his most successful streak — in the run-up to the election — saw him rake in $27,000 in just one month.

When asked for comment about the persistence of fake news even after the election, Facebook directed NBC News to a post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month in which he laid out the company’s plan to tackle the phenomenon.

In an interview with TODAY on Thursday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged “there’s a lot more to do.”

Google outlined steps last month that it said would restrict advertising on websites that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information.” The company did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment on this apparently still-flourishing industry.

Dimitri says even after the election, while business is less brisk, his fake news is still highly profitable. Like any business, he’s aware of the need to adapt.

“This business updates every hour, every ten minutes, every minute,” he says. “There are always news ideas, new types of generating new visitors and that’s the thing we all want.”

So while newspapers across the globe are losing advertising revenue, Dimitri’s empire of lies is thriving.

He says he now employs three 15-year-olds, paying them the equivalent of $10 per day. As well as buying new laptops and paying cash to boost his posts on social media, he has also invested some of his earnings into real estate — a joint venture with his parents, who are more than happy with his success.

The Anatomy of a Lie

As with many regular journalists, Dimitri starts his day by trawling the web looking for trending topics that he can harness to drive traffic to his websites.

He copies his posts from other fake news websites, including many in the U.S., or takes content from mainstream media organizations before peppering them with invented details. He also posts provocative online polls such as: “Should Trump Deport All Refugees?” and: “Do you consider Donald Trump, the Jesus of America?”

Most of this content is published on websites Dimitri has built to look like NBC News, Fox News, the Huffington Post and others.

Happy New Year!

And a heart felt thank you to Ed and Jean.

Each time we have corn bread or practically anything corn related, we think of Ed and his preparation of pan toasted corn bread for Ellen.

What a wonderful experience and memory you have given us. We thank you.


I hope 2016 holds both completions and new beginnings for you and Jean. I will send along a few (very minor) surprises in the mail next week.

Be happy and be well, my friend.


One World Trade Center


So we were headed to Forts Miffin and Mercer and Valley Forge when Ellen, thinking aloud, said, “We should visit the One World Observatory Trade Center and Memorial “.  Clearly we would not drive The Beast through downtown traffic. “OK”, said I, “How should we get there?”   Ellen said, “We don’t have to, but it would be good to take a ferry from New Jersey.”  That sounded great to me, I had no idea how far off path we would go.  It really didn’t matter, the experience of going into New York by boat appealed.

We drove pretty far off path.  The roads grew smaller and more rustic.  For a while we were not sure what we’d find at the end of our GPS fueled trek.  Finally we turned toward the shore and past a huge full parking lot.  We drove the parking lot for a while not finding anything even close to The Beast’s size.  Finally we drove to the ferry terminal that looked deserted!  Oh Oh.   Ellen hopped out to get information and I continued the search.  I found a good  parking spot just outside the main lot on an access road to the state shore that was gated and locked, but with 200 feet of road.  Great.  I parked and phoned Ellen.  She said ferry tickets would go on sale in fifteen minutes, the ferry would depart in forty five.  Awesome!

Ellen here:  While waiting for the ferry we chatted with Anthony, one of the guy’s that worked the ferry, and he suggested we wait for the next ferry 35 minutes later as that one had an open deck better for photos but we decided not to loose the daytime. Tip: A good idea to ask about types of ferries.

Might have saved some time if we were able to catch the Hoboken/NJ Ferry to Manhattan but but I thought it might be more difficult to find parking for an RV.  This side-excursion was last minute. I’m thrilled we took the time to squeeze in this Ferry trip. I do love NYC and we’ll plan a separate trip to visit the city, go to some shows and museums. So much to do…

Monmouth Ferry to New York’s Financial District

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Ellen’s Shots from the Monmouth/Belford Ferry

The ferry stopped at Jersey City then crossed the Hudson to the Financial District.  We asked RIchard, a ticket sales guy, how to get to the World Trade Center.  He actually left the ticket booth and walked outside to show us the way. We were literally one city block from One World Trade Center.  Richard said, “I can’t take you there, but you walk one block down there (pointing), cross the highway, and you’ll be right there.”   What a great attitude he has.

One World Observatory

We took the elevator the 200 stories to the amazing view of the city below.  It was the most surreal experience of our trip.  Beautiful, awe inspiring, and too crowded all at once.


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Happy Wife

We both agreed that we’ll return to New York and take a week to explore the city and see some shows. Ellen also wants to visit the 9/11 Museum next time.


At the Reflecting Pool, World Trade Center Memorial




Ellen here: The Memorial is beautifully designed and quite breathtaking!  For obvious reasons this memorial brought tears to my eyes. We stood for a time taking in its beauty and symbolism.

Electrical Problems

This morning I noticed Dennis, our neighbor here at the campground, looking at his heater as I headed off to the showers. He was still outside when I returned. I walked over and mentioned that we had found the pub they suggested and that we had enjoyed a meal there. Yes, the memorabilia was fascinating. He then said he was having some electrical problems. He had a problem a week ago. His lighting was glowing dim as if he was not getting full current through his trailer. That was traced to his converter, which was replaced. This last night he had the same problem: his lights were dim and his heater blower was not operating normally. We both agreed that it was more likely that some problem ahead of the converter was the culprit. I mentioned fire as something to keep an eye out for; not to alarm him, but to be sure he was aware of it. Dennis said he had called the fellow who replaced his converter who suggested testing the power going into his trailer. Dennis then called the campground to have the electric box tested to be sure the source was good. I was about to show him the surge protector and line validator I use, but the campground trouble-shooter arrived. He was the same fellow who filled our propane tank yesterday.

He tested the output voltage at the box and it was fine. Next he examined Dennis’ plug and found that one of the contacts had been pushed about 1/8 of an inch into the recepticle and there was sign of melting in the rubber around the contact. Then too, the cable running into the plug was wrapped with electrical tape. Dennis said that the wires had been pulling out. His fix was to tape the cable. Fix-it man recommended that Dennis replace the plug. It was clear that a bad connection was causing impedance on the input and threatening to short out and/or cause a fire in the wire.

I’ve noticed that my shore power plug is becoming more difficult to attach and remove from the surge protector. I’ll find a conductive lubricant and “grease the skids” so to speak. McDonald’s RV is nearby on Rt 1 south. We’ll visit when we leave. I hope to replace both our internal filter, which Brad removed, and our outside filter if they have replacements. I’ll also get a strain relief fitting for our water inlet. The quick-connect fitting doesn’t slide smoothly and I’ve been stressing the water bulkhead. It’s best to address problem before they become problems. (The corollary to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”)

All in all, The Beast has performed exceptionally well these past seven weeks!

Normandy Farms Family Campground is near capacity this morning. It was party time last night going well past 11 pm, but not noisy at all. People were huddled around campfires talking in subdued tones punctured by the occasional belly-laugh. The intimacy of a near empty campground feels lost. That sense of people sharing an unusual common experience has been replaced by “the crowd” mentality. Will the common hello as people pass each other still be there?

50 Days on the Road

Today marks the 50th day Ellen and I have been on our first extended road trip.  Ellen was not sure she would enjoy being gone for more than four weeks. That no longer is a concern.  Each state in this far flung country of ours holds both well known landmarks and little known gems to be discovered by the curious and/or adventurous.


This afternoon we met Ellen’s sister, Liz, her daughter Vanessa and her three month old son Jerell. We were half way to Jamestown when Ellen checked her messages.  It would be better for them to meet with us today and not tomorrow.  Another U-turn and we headed back to Woonsocket.  We had lunch and a good time visiting with them today.

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In all cases any vacation or trip is a compromise.  Time is limited and “everything” simply cannot be done.  We did visit all of the places I wanted to see in Vermont and most of those in New Hampshire.  We had to skip Hampton and Rye Beaches in New Hampshire.  For Vermont and New Hampshire, the list was relatively short.  We did manage to drive some of southern Maine to have The Beast serviced.  Unfortunately we did not see a single live moose.  There were lots of statues, carvings, photos, and placards, and “Cog Moose” sitting on our dashboard, but we’ve seen no moose in the flesh.  Nor did we venture north to Moosehead Lake as I had hoped.

Now, Massachusetts is different.  Boston is a large metropolis and the surrounding area is steeped in history.  We did not get to Boston’s north shore.  We missed Ipswich and Crane Beach, Marble Head, Salem, Rockport, and Gloucester.  We also missed Plymouth on the south shore and sadly had to give up a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.  The vineyard is probably closed down tight for the season anyway.  Then too, there is not a single campsite on this small island.

There’s always “next time”, though with all there is to see in the U.S. “next time” in Massachusetts will be by plane and rental car and we will probably still not see a moose though I’m sure we’ll try.


Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Visiting Western Massachusetts

I had mixed feelings leaving Ed and Jean this morning.  I look forward to new adventures: Cape Cod, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and wandering our way.  Each will be exciting!  But leaving Ed and Jean is sad.  I would love to spend more time with Ed and getting to know Jean better.  Still it was time to go,  The two extra days we willingly lingered meant cutting out our trip to North Hampton and Rye Beach New Hampshire.  There will be no stop at Brown’s Restaurant Hampton Beach NH.  The mountain coaster and zip lining we did in the Berkshires, meeting Terry, and having another two days with Ed and Jean more than make up for the two “lost” days.


Ed Plays the Blues

Ed and I played guitar some and Ed showed me some of his prints.   He carves linoleum and creates prints from them.  He has a press in his “man cave”.  He teaches computer programming to elementary school children a few times a week.  He also reads about computer programming and algorithms.  For a retired guy, Ed keeps himself very busy.  Then he and Jean are building a custom home in the hills that is amazing.  The electric guitar Ed is shown playing, he found in the attic of their home!  It’s a good guitar with great action.

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The Guitarists


Maxie Expecting to go on a Trip

After saying our goodbyes, we headed east toward Boston leaving late, much later than usual.  We had a surprising pile of stuff to pack back into “The Beast”.  Looking for campgrounds around Boston, AllStays showed three all-year campgrounds: one in Worcester, one in Rhode Island (!?!), and one on the Cape.  We chose to try Scusset Beach State Park on the bay side of Cape Cod.  About an hour into our drive, Ellen called the state park and got no answer.  This is usually not a good thing, It indicates a closed campground.  Still we drove on with a sense of foreboding.


Past Peak and Still Wonderful

Typical for us, as we neared the beach we made a wrong turn that sent us over the Sagamore Bridge.  In a futile attempt to  U-turn, I turned into the parking lot of a huge supermarket.  We needed some provisions and took the opportunity to stock up.  Back on the highway and knowing exactly how to get back over the bridge, I was forced the wrong way on SR 6 and went another five or six miles out of our way.  That’s no big deal, really.  Back over the bridge, we turned onto Scusset Beach Road headed toward the park.  Our GPS went wacky and kept telling us to turn around and take some other road.  Knowing better we followed Scusset Beach road to the park.  As we arrived, our McNally GPS chimed in with, “You have arrived at your destination”.    Good to know, I thought.

We drove into the reservation parking lot, which was practically empty.  I walked around the reservation building and found it deserted.  There was a map of the park with a number of designated RV campsites shown.  We drove on to the RV campground.

The RV campground is a combination of open campsites and some campsites sheltered by trees.  The campground is located alongside the Cape Canal which allows boats to go from the bay side to the ocean without navigating around the cape’s arm.  It is a wonderful place to camp off season.  We saw a few large RVs and some 5th wheels as we drove in.  Great, it’s open we thought.

As we neared a 5th wheel, I stopped, got out, and talked with Bruce and Vivian about the campsite.  As luck would have it, the campground is partially open.  It is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the week and closed the other days.  At the end of December the campground may close until spring.  Bruce said the ranger he spoke with “was not sure” when they would close, but for now the water was still on.  We had a place to stay for the night!  My plan to rent a car and make forays to Concord, Lexington, Arlington, Cambridge, and Boston from a campsite were dashed.  We had no place to camp tomorrow.  Now what would we do?

Bruce and Vivian to the rescue!  They recommended a year-round campsite in Foxboro that is five star and full service.  They could be booked full weekends, but Bruce thought on Sunday and mid-week we would have no problem getting a site.   With the sieve my memory has become of late, Vivian wrote down the camp’s name: Normandy Farms Campground Foxboro Ma.   As I was talking with Bruce, Ellen climbed out of “The Beast” and joined the conversation. RV people are a great.  We spoke until it was apparent we all were getting cold.  It was a brisk 46 degrees with the sun setting.

We chose a site and settled in with good sat and excellent local channel reception.  We walked the beach.  The east coast beaches are of soft white sand and Scusset Beach is no exception.  The cape channel was “right ov’a they’ya”.   There were two late-evening fishermen who were not giving up and a handful of people walking back from the beach as we walked out for the sunset.  Headed back to Li’l Beast, we checked the rest rooms to find them open, heated, and very clean.  There was a note on the men’s room stating that the restrooms will be closed for the season at 10:30 AM November 1 (tomorrow!).  Again we squeaked by with a night camping as the campground closed.  This was the sixth time we’ve done this on our trip!


The Beast, Scusset Beach State Park

Back at “home” I called Normandy Farms Campground.  They are open.  We can chose our site when we arrive.  Yes there is a car rental close by, but we might consider driving to a nearby subway station and taking a train into Boston.  There’s no problem with sites this week, we can stay as long as we like.  They even have a concierge who can help us with our plans!   If we had not stopped to talk with Bruce and Vivian, we might never have known about this place.  This is our first full-on “FAIL” for AllStays.  We’ll have to revamp our campground search to include listings from a 2015 book.

I checked the Patriots schedule hoping that they would not have a game scheduled tomorrow.  They do not.  The Pats took the Dolphins apart last Thursday and do not play the weekend.  Good Stuff all around.

We’re snug as a bug in The Beast on Halloween evening watching Stephen King’s Red Rose on DirecTV.

Tomorrow we will head further east, up Cape Cod to White Cedar Swamp near Marconi Station.  Terry said the forest was like the “forest of despair” in the Princess Bride.  I knew immediately what she meant.  Also Marconi Station was one of two stations setup to test Marconi’s first cross-Atlantic radio transmission.  The other station was established in Maine.  It’s about an hour’s drive out the cape to Marconi Station and another two hours back from there to Foxboro.  The JETS play the Raiders tomorrow at 1 PM West coast time.  We’ll be settled in at Normandy Farms by game time at 4 PM EST.  We just have to remember to set our clocks back an hour tonight.

For more info: Marconi Station

I wish that Ed, Frank, Jim, and I could re-unite.  Perhaps one day Frank, Ed, and I will.  I miss Jim and think of him from time to time.

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Another Day Older

Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Charlemont, Old Friends

It seems that every time we stop to visit with friends, we let our blog go for a while.  This past week has been no exception.  We’ve been having such an enjoyable time visiting my old friend Ed O’Neil and getting to know his wife, Jean,, that we have not made time to keep our blog current.  This afternoon we will be “doing” a mountain coaster and a zip line in the Berkshires.  We’re taking time ahead of this excitement to catch up.

Country Aire Campground (10/25/15)

It poured last night.  Our site at Country Aire Campground is in a depression.  We actually woke up to check for flooding!  That’s what watching the Weather Channel will do for you.  There’s lots of flooding in Texas and it’s headed to the south.  But here in Massachusetts there is none.


It was 44 degrees in the morning, comfortable for this time of year.  Our campsite sits in a large meadow with thirty one other RV sites and a scattering of tent sites.  One other RV was parked well away from us.  There were two tent campers off in the trees by a creek.  Facing the south, we had early morning sun that warmed things up quite nicely. There’s a view of a hill and ridge to our south dotted with orange foliage between the pine trees.  This is a peaceful location.


We got moving slowly with a variety of options for things to do today.  #1 on the list, stopping at 1:00 pm for the JETS PATS football match.  We chose to explore the town of Charlemont to our west.   There’s a very helpful tourist map, Greater Shelburne Falls and Mohawk Trail Region, that I highly recommend.  We found ours at the campsite.  It’s a reduced map of the area with points of interest well marked on the map.


We drove “down the hill” or what I thought was a hill.  It’s pretty flat getting from the camp to SR 2.  We drove into town looking for a market to buy bread to make sandwiches for lunch.  Four of Five shops along SR 2 were closed.  We found a hardware store; the Coffee Bean; Berkshire Pizzeria; and Cold River Package, Market, and Cafe open.  Not needing hardware, coffee, or pizza, we stopped at Cold River.  In Massachusetts people buy their booze in liquor stores.  These stores have a huge inventory of alcohol.  Supermarkets in California have a standardized selection with very little unusual or locally produced products.  Not so stores in Massachusetts.  It was fun just looking around.  We replenished our chocolate and vodka supply.  Unfortunately we did not find a liquor to replace our near gone sour cherry.  This was a package store in a remote small community and the selection was mind boggling.  We’ll find our sour cherry in the next large town for sure.

Charlemont and Poolside

The vodka & chocolate were taken to the Beast while Ellen checked out the restaurant.  Typical of The Beast, a couple drove up and said, “That is the perfect size for us!  We’re thinking about taking a trip to Arizona next year and this would be perfect for us.”  We were off talking about RVs, travel, and Charlemont.  Ellen joined us moments later.  The couple lives in a classic New England home sitting right beside a pool “just up the road”.  The house has been in the wife’s family for generations.  She inherited the home a year or two ago.  They described how to get there and that we would go through a renovated covered bridge on the way.  Ellen asked if it was OK we took photos of their house.  “Of course, people stop for photos there all the time.  I even have cards printed up about the house.  we call it “Poolside”  They were headed to the restaurant for lunch.  It was clear they wanted us to join them, but we have a football game to watch.


We drove off in search of Poolside, which was quite easy to find.  There was a place; to turn around and park on the fork to the right.  The house sites in the center of a fork in the road right on a pond with a low head dam and waterfall.  It is quite a setting.  “I could live here!”  Ellen responded with, “It would make a nice spring or fall home, but not in the winter”.  That, my friends, is progress!


We took a number of photos of the pond,, their house, and the covered bridge.


There was an abandoned school bus by the side of the road that we wanted to document, but missed it on the way down the hill.  How do you miss a school bus?


Back at Country Aire, we plugged in and enjoyed a close football game that the Pats won.  Much to Ellen’s chagrin.

Shelbourne Falls


In the afternoon we explored Shelburne Falls.  Turning off rt 2, there is a caution sign with  10′ 6″  in bold lettering and nothing else.  The Beast stands 11′ 3″.  We headed toward the town of Shelburne Falls, knowing that a U-Turn could be coming up.  Shelburne Falls sits on side of the Deerfield River and Buckland sits on the other, though I think both are referred to as Shelburne Falls.  That 10′ 6″ briidge is the one that connects the two.  I took a left just before I would have been committed to going over the bridge, and found parking around back behind Main Street.


A ceramic shop was the first business we found that was open.  They were closing, but the shop gal let us browse.  We asked what she would recommend for dinner.  There were two places she mentioned, one had moved and the other was just across he bridge,  West End Pub.  We had seen a sign for “the Bridge of Flowers” as we parked.  Ellen asked what is the flower bridge.  She said, “You haven’t seen the Bridge of Flowers?  You have to go.”   We left the shop and walked the street.  Most of the other shops were closed on this side of the Deerfield River.  We walked to the Bridge and crossed the river to the Buckland side.


Here too, most of the shops were closed.  We walked to the dam.  The dam is one of a number of active hydroelectric plants on the Deerfield River that are now controlled by an authority in Vermont.


The West End Pub, Shelbourne Falls

The West End Pub sits at the end of the Bridge of Flowers with an enclosed patio overlooking the river and the bridge.  We had the best meal of our trip thus far at the West End Pub.  The menu listed fried scallops.  Ellen asked if they could be grilled and yes, Ellen had grilled scallops.  I had the burger au Poivre done medium rare, both were superb.

Later in the evening we walked back over the Bridge of Flowers and drove “home” to Country Aire Campground.


The next day, Monday 10/26, we drove on to meet Ed O’Neil and his wife of 37 years, Jean.  We planned to meet them for lunch at the Smithsonian Chowder House in Hatfield at noon, but we underestimated the drive time to Hatfield from Charlemonte.  We called ahead to say we would be late by thirty minutes.  Ed said they were at the chowder house already.


Smithsonian Chowder House, An Old Friend, and Hatfield Ma

We passed an exit for Hatfield as we headed south.  Ed told us to take exit 21, which we did.  We backtracked to the chowder house.  It was empty.  We thought maybe there was another Smithsonian Chowder House.  The chowder monger said there was another one further north.  We walked outside noticing that there was a furniture shop across the street just as Ed had mentioned.  We decided to wait, thinking this must be the right place.  People came, parked, and went for the next ten of fifteen minutes: no Ed.  At this point I was wondering if I would recognize Ed after 46 years.

Sometime later a car pulled up and there was Ed.  It was unmistakably Ed,  After all these years it’s as if I had never left.  It’s great re-kindling our friendship and getting to know Jean. Within minutes the four of us were all chatting about life.

Old Friends

We planned to visit with Ed and Jean for three days.  We have many places to explore in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut; time is valuable and may become critical as we drive home.  Today is Friday, 10/30/2015.  We thought we would head east to Boston on Wednesday.   Tuesday evening Ellen asked Ed if there was anything he wanted, thinking she could get him a drink or some water.  He said, “Yes, another 24 hours.” We stayed through Wednesday AND Thursday when Jean suggested we take a zip line on Friday afternoon.  The weather on Thursday hit the low 70’s in Hatfield.  Today should be similar if a bit cooler.  Temperatures will be cooler In the Berkshires.  We’ll just bundle up.


It feels to me like I’ve been living just around the corner from Ed these past 46 years.  We picked up where we had left off, going over events in our lives as teenagers; some that we shared or knew about already and others that were a surprise.  It can be such a joy re-discovering old friends.  Ed and Jean have done quite well for themselves.  They are building a custom home in the state.  The home is almost finished on the outside while the interior is framed out with the electrical and plumbing in place.  The finish work has not begun.  It will be a marvelous home. It is very thoughtfully designed with state of the art energy saving features.  The steel roof is a discontinued color that looks great.  Jean likes the color and does not look forward to covering the southern slope with 27 solar panels.

We will be on our way tomorrow, though we would enjoy staying another week.  This is so true of all the friends and family we’ve met on our trip.  For me though, playing guitar, talking with Ed, or just sitting around brings back life in Arlington with Ed, Jim, and Frank before we went off to college in “the good old days”.  Driving off to our next adventure will leave me with a poignant sense of loss.  We will make it a point to return to Ed and Jean in the summer or next fall on our way out to or back from Europe.


Eric Carle Museum of Children’s Book Art

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Christmas Tree Farm, Walking Maxie

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Chesterfield Gorge

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Around Florence, North Hampton

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