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May 2005
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August 2005

Let's Not Do Lunch

It's depressing but true -- unlike our European counterparts, Americans don't give a hoot about a long leisurely lunch. I'm lucky enough to work with folks who can easily be coerced into lounging around Beale Street on a Friday afternoon. But apparently more than half of all Americans are more likely to work through lunch than to sit down and enjoy a tasty midday meal. All this depressing news is courtesy of a survey conducted by  Smoothie King, a franchise I've not personally ever seen before.

On the flipside, if we *do* bother to head to a restaurant to eat, we get testy if we are rushed on our way.

You just can't win.

I can't recall the last time I saw a leisurely San Francisco lunch taking place. Our downtown and financial district areas are full of office workers scarfing down overpriced junk food or getting cheap takeout from Lee's to eat back at their desk while sifting through emails. What a bummer. It would be so much nicer to have a 2-hour midday break for shopping, napping, or having a nice chat with friends over lunch.

I think I need to compile my downtown lunch list and start corralling people.

Italy: Open for Renovations

Last time I was in Italy, in 2001, it seemed like the entire country was under renovation. From the Medici Chapel in Florence to the Doge's Palace in Venice, many of the sites I visited were shrouded in scaffolding. The same was true in my June travels through Italy.

But unlike such projects in the States, I was again struck by the fact that their scaffoldings (like the one here seen on the Grand Canal in Venice) were typically covered with colorful representations of what the restored building will look like (or what it looked like prior to the restoration), with a shout out to the corporate or civic entities that sponsored the project.

It came as a huge disappointment though when I walked into my favorite piece of civic architecture -- the Pantheon in Rome -- shifted my gaze up to the oculus, and saw...scaffolding. Boring utilitarian scaffolding obscuring about 1/8 of the interior, from wall to oculus. And associated roped off walls. All the visitors were basically coralled into the center of the building, unable to get up close to the gorgeous marble walls.

Turns out they spent a little over a year giving the interior dome a good scrubbing. Gone are the dark tobacco-colored splotches. The dome is now more of a glistening honey-sand color, with very few blemishes. It's gorgeous, if unexpected.