Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: beer

Of course getting drunk is not going to help your recovery when you’re ill

So upon my arrival to Spain I have been very sick and I had to take antibiotics for ten straight days. In those days there happened to be one or two major festivals around the place where I was. Now, these two apparently unrelated facts explain why I stumbled upon this highly scientific article that is tellingly titled ‘Can you mix antibiotics and alcohol?’. The article debunks the myth that all antibiotics don’t mix with alcoholic drinks. It does so by telling two stories on how the myth was borne.

One is that because antibiotics are used to treat some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, doctors in the past were somehow punishing the patients for becoming infected by depriving them of their favourite tipple.

The alternative explanation was given by one of the authors of the London genitourinary clinic survey. James Bingham met the late Brigadier Sir Ian Fraser, who introduced the use of penicillin for injured soldiers in North Africa during World War II. At the time penicillin was in such short supply that after a patient had taken it, the drug was retrieved from his urine and recycled. Recuperating soldiers were allowed to drink beer, but unfortunately this increased the volume of their urine, making it harder obtain the penicillin and, according to the Brigadier, led commanding officers to ban beer.

In reality, thus, it seems that the answer to the original question of the answer is a resounding Yes. May beer give you pardon, peace, and absolve you from your sins. Although, as the title goes, getting drunk is probably not going to help your recovery when you’re ill.

I am a beer-sipping expat

In Brussels it has rained consistently for the entire duration of this year. This turned the press corps even more whiny than usual about the city. In fact, it looks like I am not alone in flanking this city. As put by the Wall Street Journal, “beer-sipping expats and whole Facebook pages love to moan about Brussels life”.

Meanwhile, the newspaper translated into common jargon the Commission’s country-specific recommendations for Belgium, with suggestions like: “the traffic jams are so bad you are wasting 2% of gross domestic product”; “you guys are really uncompetitive”; and “you guys have the most unfairest tax system”. The article, which you can read here, is basically a list of Belgium’s problems taken entirely from the Commission’s recommendations, available in all the country’s official languages. The article, of course, does not compare Brussels to London or Paris (although The Telegraph did a while ago, and Brussels won). But it provoked an interesting debate on Brussels, which continued on twitter with the hashtag #ceplatpays, which was used for positive and creative news about Belgium. These include:

  • moules-frites at Place Jourdan
  • comic book murals
  • Archiduc
  • the triumphal arch in the late afternoon
  • septante and nonante
  • Tripel Karmelit
  • the Turkish shop down the street
  • the eccentric old ladies in Grand Place


Lentezza is a beer with friends

The last few weeks were hectic and I barely had time to sit down and talk. Who had a chance to spend a bit more time with me probably thought I was on drugs. (I was not).

I am not always like this. Already in 2011 I decided that if I had a newspaper, I would call it Lentezza. Here some thoughts I noted down on a small paper when travelling back from Lugano, where I went to visit Anna.

Avessi una rivista mia, una specie di inserto di riflessioni e parole, la chiamerei Lentezza. Lo ho deciso origliando conversazioni sul treno: viviamo, oggi in un contesto frenetico in cui mancano gli spazi per l’approfondimento e la comprensione. Tutto é veloce, breve, rapido. Le notizie si adattano al contesto: veloci, mai ragionate, raramente discusse. Sono stato fortunato e fino ad ora ho sempre avuto modo di ricavarmi spazi di riflessione lenti: gli incontri di redazione al giornale QT ne sono un esempio chiaro, quasi estenuanti nella loro monotonia, ma avvincenti nell’incedere senza un binario, senza pressione, senza fuggire. Insomma. Se avessi una rivista mi piacerebbe che fosse una lenta utilitaria che avanza piano nel paesaggio della campagna mentre in città centinaia di macchine sfrecciano da una parte all’altra senza badare a tutto quel che sta attorno.

In the last few weeks I definitely was one of those fast cars. Before getting into the loop, I knew it had to be this way and I do not regret one single thing. I love to be stressed and overwhelmed by work as long as I know I will be given the time to stop, think, and communicate. That time will come this summer. I am hoping my girlfriend, parents, relatives, and friends will wait until then. I am looking forward to the moment when we will be able to sit down, have a beer, and talk. As Ernest Hemingway once said, an intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools. I am very much looking forward to that moment.

Easter Bruxelloise

It never rains on Thursday

On Thursday March the 17th in Victoria, BC, Canada, I was feeling grumpy and nostalgic, missing my Irish friends and that one semester I spent in Dublin. In spite of the insistence of mr Peace River, I was not in the mood of celebrating San Paddy’s day. It just did not feel like Ireland. The weather outside was just fine. Obviously, the weather in Ireland was never fine. It was not even close to that Irish gloomy atmosphere and I missed so much.

However, the day after I I got up laboriously. I was hangover and I realized I lost Thomas’ vest. Later it turned out to be Thomas’ friend’s vest. Outside it was a grey day. It was raining and a couple of old men down at the harbour were having a pint. I put on the some Great Big Sea music and spent the rest of my day in the proper Irish mood.

We needed beer

Lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization. To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did. We needed beer. Luckily, from time to time, our ancestors, like other animals, would run across fermented fruit or grain and sample it. How this accidental discovery evolved into the first keg party, of course, is still unknown. But evolve it did, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago. … Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds. But the alcohol would have had more far-ranging effects, too, reducing the strong herd instincts to maintain a rigid social structure. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order.

Read the entire article on The New York Times.

Derek, Bush, and Federer

One of the beautiful persons I’ve met in Bruxelles is Derek. We had some intense chats and it is a pity we were both staying here for such a short time. He comes from Berkley and now is on his way back to California. We decided together the best beers to try around here. Only one hour after our final decision on the ranking, Derek sent me this picture. The highest step of the podium would be the second from the left. Bush is an excellent beer that Daniel found for me.

belgian beers

By the way: Derek is a big fan of Roger Federer, and of tennis. A few weeks ago he was in London for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. I promised him to share this clip that was taken only three days ago during an exhibition match between Federer and Del Potro in Argentina.

They build it up just to burn it down

I think in general we should care more about the little things. A few years ago I decided I wanted to work on the minutes gestures of daily life. I started being very respectful of those who were around. I looked people in the eyes, and I always made the queue without being deceitful. I began paying the ticket on the bus and I imposed myself never to throw my rubbish on the floor. I tried to give the precedence to the others and I did my best to keep the common spaces I used perfectly clean.

But then, and it was 2011, I did not resist the temptation to steal one glass of beer in a bar. That simple gesture jeopardized my entire system of values.

Have a good weekend

White House Beer Brewing

As you might know, I am a big fan of beer. I am in good company here.