Runaway Spoon

Travel Tip: It's an Italian Lean That'll Make You Still Leaner

July 23, 2012

Travelers are routinely warned by experts to keep an eye – or a hand – on their valuables.  Sometimes that caution can vanish in the excitement of the moment.

Like at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

An amusing photograph to take at this popular tourist site is one where you position yourself so that it looks like you are holding up the very beautiful, but tipped, historic monument. 

It also is a place where the unscrupulous mine for euros.   All your attention is on snapping the perfect shot.  Your hands are busy, either as a subject keeping the tower from falling over or giving it a final nudge, or as the photographer. 

Women plop their purses on the ground to pose for that shot. Men put their backpacks aside.

On the day our group visited, some other tourists had their wallets lifted by swift thieves who have made a study of what people do to get that shot.

What a wonderful picture to show to friends back home, although some wallets could be leaner. If you go to view that awesome tower, be aware. The woman kneeling in the picture is taking the shot the right way.


Click here to share your thoughts.

Dreams Do Come True

July 18, 2012

Athletes Without Limits and its founding president coach Barry Holman were spotlighted at a summer fundraiser Tuesday night organized by Beasley Real Estate to benefit the inspired organization that makes dreams come true.

Barry Holman (left) chats with guest at Beasley event (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Barry Holman (left) chats with guest at Beasley event

Disabled rowers who are part of that dream are U.S. Marine Sgt. Rob Jones, 25, and Oksana Masters, 23, who have qualified as a team to compete in London in the Paralympic Games.  Jones lost his legs in an IED (explosion) in Afghanistan. Masters lost hers as a child while exposed to radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. (

And, oh yes, a little research showed the stunningly beautiful Ukraine-born Masters in ESPN’s 2012 Body Issue sitting on a jetty with her oars beside her, showing her toned physique and tiny tattoos.

Athletes Without Limits athlete Michael Murray, 21, of Nashville, Tn., has earned the historic opportunity to be the first athlete with an intellectual disability to compete for Team USA at the upcoming London games. He qualified for the U.S. Paralympic Track Team.

The games run from August 29 until September 9.

Athletes Without Limits has partnered with DC Strokes and the US Paralympic Military Program to form an integrated team of athletes to train and race together.

The rowing program is a driving force in D.C, with a strong volunteer contingent and 20 active athletes.

Claudia Perry (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Claudia Perry

“We are breaking down perceptions that rowers with disabilities cannot row by themselves,” said DC rowing program director Patrick L. Johnson. He also coaches rowing at Wakefield High School. Local rowers practice at the Anacostia Community Boathouse, where each athlete practices two or three times a week.

“It’s about integration not separation,” emphasized Johnson, saying, for example, that a rower with a disability can aid someone with a different disability.  Aptly proving that point were photographs on display of Claudia Perry, 34, of Silver Spring, Md., a blind rower who served in the Air Force, assisting a rower on prosthetic legs navigate a dock.

At the event at Balance Sport and Fitness gym near Thomas Circlerower Michael Lautenberger, 21, also of Silver Spring, Md., helped showcase the mission with Holman and Johnson.

Poster (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Poster

Athletes Without Limits is a nonprofit group that helps athletes with intellectual disability integrate and accelerate in sport.  It also hosts the program with rowers with physical disabilities. 

Click here to share your thoughts.

Raise The Roof at Cafe Milano

July 16, 2012

Executives and three stars for the 2012 USA men’s Olympic basketball team were at Cafe Milano Sunday night, including Jerry Colangelo, the squad’s managing director, head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and players Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook.

Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Williams of the Brooklyn Nets and Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder all arrived separately and dined individually with friends and family at tables throughout the restaurant.

Bryant, saying he was on a diet, ordered a half pasta dish, fresh halibut with no butter but a light cream sauce. He drank water and ate no bread.

Bryant, an aficionado of Cafe Milano, often dines there when he comes to town. On this occasion, he signed autographs and had his picture taken with other patrons.

Two players (unidentified) with the women’s Olympic hoops team also dined at Cafe Milano the same night.

Elsewhere, another London-bound Olympic player LeBron James of the Miami Heat was seen at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The players and executive staff are in town for Team USA’s pre-Olympics practices and other activities.


Click here to share your thoughts.