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Naples Miscellany 68 (early August, 2017)
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Aug 9 — The best thing about August in Naples is that the place is empty. That is also the worst thing, because there is always a hard-core minority that stays in the city for the summer holiday (although they may close up whatever shops they may have and just do nothing — always a pleasant break. All municipal services run on reduced schedules, so if you're waiting for a bus you have to be careful, especially given this year's dramatic weather: there has been almost no rain in months and the temperatures are in the mid-30s° C (mid 90s° F) with high humidity, producing a ridiculously high "feels like" index (if that is the proper term for the opposite of the "wind-chill factor"). Italian meteorologists have started using the term "perceived temperature", which is fine, but it's strange to hear people who don't understand what that means. ("Gee, it was almost 50° yesterday," [that would be 122°! Instant shrivel up and die temperature!] I heard a woman say. I started to explain, but she was having none of it. "No, no. I heard them say 49°!") The biggest disappointment of the summer (besides the brush fires!) was the central funicolare, the main cable car. It is crucial for many thousands of persons a day under normal circumstances, yet it was "closed for repairs" for a period of ONE YEAR (!), which period was to end about one week ago. It ended, the mayor showed up for his photo op and glad-handing and chauffered ride back home again. The tourists  and locals climbed aboard what was billed as a conveyance not just "repaired" but completely overhauled, yea and verily, "made new" and off they went. It went up, then down, and then stopped — clink! clank! grind!— in the middle. Disgruntled tourists and locals had to climb out onto the tracks and trudge down the emergency stairs to an exit. Conclusion? See you in September. Back to the drawing board.

Aug 10 — There's something strange about this boat. According to the Vessel Finder website, she is "the ELADA (IMO: 9522192, MMSI: 213777000) and is a general cargo ship built in 1980 and currently sailing under the flag of Georgia. ELADA has 141m length overall and beam of 20m. Her gross tonnage is 7898 tons." I don't believe it. That vessel is not 141 meters long, since she appears smaller than a motor yacht called the Sea Rhapsody anchored farther out behind her this morning, a vessel claiming to a mere 66 meters long. Besides that, look at the construction; look at the snub-nosed submarine bow. There is no way that boat was built in 1980. That is clearly modern yacht construction from within the last 10 years. Also "general cargo ship...sailing under the flag of Georgia." Maybe I'm paranoid. I think that is my newest suspect for a Bond-Villain boat. The earlier one was the "A". Hang on... another marine site has her listed more realistically 45m/135 ft in length. Call sign 4LOF2. Leaves the year of construction blank. Even more suspicious. I think maybe it's just some rich Georgia godzillionaire enjoying our peaceful waters instead of his own (there is naval conflict going on in the Black Sea at the moment between Georgia and Azak.. Akazi.. Zhakaz... you know the one. Cargo vessel, indeed!


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