UPDATED: Stormy Weather in Venice...

Originally, I was going to take these photos and blog about religious processions in Italy.

(I'm not Catholic - at least not in any way, shape or form "officially" - but I love watching Italian religion processions. My favorite so far was probably the one when the entire village of Capri in southern Italy carried this impossibly heavy statue of the Madonna all the way up the hillside to a little sanctuary, at which point the band inexplicably broke into a rousing rendition of the "Mexican Hat Dance"! LOL)

I went to the saint's day celebration of Saint Anthony of Padua on Wednesday, where the main event is likewise a procession of the saint's huge votive statue through the streets of the city, together with lots of marching bands, boy scouts, firefighters, etc. all parading with him. You can see the Saint Anthony just being carried out of his basilica at right...

But then the sky on the horizon suddenly turned black with storm clouds and it started to rain... The next time I saw Saint Anthony at the end of the procession, he was going about twenty miles a hour as the folks carrying him sprinted for shelter in the church, just before all hell (pardon the expression since I'm talking about a saint!) broke loose with the weather. (See the picture... He was literally just a blur!!)

And all those people you saw above in the piazza? They all took cover under the relatively narrow archways lining the streets, where thousands of people were then crushed together tighter than sardines so that you literally couldn't move. I conveniently decided to take refuge both from the crowd and the storm in a nearby wine bar... (Hey, there are worse ways to pass a thunderstorm!) I did however come out just in time to get a picture of a double rainbow!!

Anyway, the very same thing happened yesterday, with far more devastating results. I don't know if you all heard about the disaster at the rock concert in Venice... No joke!

I had even thought seriously about going to the Heineken Jammin Festival: 4 days of music in a part of Venetian mainland, including the Killers, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Iron Maiden, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and Aerosmith... But then I heard that the concert organizers were expecting 300,000 people from all over Europe, and I decided that I no longer had the courage to face such a monster concert, and I'm not sure I really ever did in the first place! :-)

Good thing! Weather's not usually too extreme around here, but with global warming and all, it's been acting more and more sub-tropical in recent years, with those relatively rare, but sudden, violent thunderstorms like I saw in Padua.

In fact, the festival had literally just opened, and only a few hours before Pearl Jam was due to take the stage, a sudden squall with hail and wind gusts estimated in excess of 90 kph hit the open field where the concert was being held, and brought 8 of the 10 huge light and speaker towers down on some of the concert-goers... Last I heard something like 50 people were injured with broken bones and the like, but thankfully no one was killed!

I could be wrong, but it does seem that I've been seeing more and more of these violent summer storms around Venice in recent years. I hope that before Venice sinks from global warming that it's not blown off the map first!!
UPDATED: Here's a video of the whole thing!

Who knew? Freshwater crabs thrive in Roman ruins - Yahoo! News

Mmmm... them's good eatin'! In fact, I bet they'll now be poached by today's Romans to within an inch of extinction... :-)

Phantastic Photography!!

I want to be Trey Ratcliff when I grow up!

His photo, Fourth on Lake Austin, just won the Annual Smithsonian Magazine Awards in the "Americana" category. Congrats!!

I not only continually run a slideshow of his stuff at the bottom of my page (page down to see!), I've blogged about his Bloggies-nominated photography site "Stuck in Customs" before. And it just keeps getting better and better... Right now, Trey's blogging about shooting Cambodia in his signature "high dynamic range imaging" style!

What's more, a beautiful overview to his work has just been launched at http://www.treyratcliff.com, where you can gaze and marvel at slide shows of his portfolio, subtitled "Yearn," "Aspire," "Hope," and "Dream." Don't miss a single section!!