Borgo Egnazia, interior decoration and hotel pools

I spent two nights at the charming Borgo Egnazia, a beautifully designed resort in Puglia whose interior decorator, Pino Brescia, seems to suffer from just the right type of obsessive-compulsive disorder to make large spaces come alive by assembling vast quantities of unexpected objects. Ladders, keys, baskets of almonds and grains, piles of old newspapers neatly tied with string, pages of yellowed books in frames, bird cages, rope, wire, clear glass bottles, twigs have been wrestled into order to welcome visitors, reassuring them that everything is under control.

Yet there is one more thing that hotel managament could do. You know I am particular about hotel pools. Borgo Egnazia’s two outdoor pools are spacious and surrounded by many heavy-duty, comfortable deckchairs, set on different levels, so that it never feels crowded. But you get one towel. If you ask, you can get two. It was very windy this past weekend. No matter how much you tried to tuck your towel behind the mattress, the wind would blow it away. Guests were chasing their towels around all the time.

I developed the theory that you should get two towels when you use an outdoor pool at a fancy resort – a fitted towel, just like a fitted sheet, with corners, for your deckchair; and a regular towel, to wrap around your body when you come out of the pool. I have only ever seen fitted deckchair towels in a very small number of resorts. They are bulkier, they are harder to fold, but they’re there for a reason. The most beautiful places are often windy. Your towel should stay put. Fitted towels are the way to go.

Ada Lovelace, The Ur-Girl Geek

There’s a reason why Ada Lovelace, famous for her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine and sometimes credited with the first description of a machine algorithm, is the Ur-Girl Geek. It is because she was conscious of the power of her intellect, and not afraid to wield it.

In his recent The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, James Gleick quotes from her writings: to me, it is her self-awareness, her self-confidence, that stand out today:

That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show; (if only my breathing & some other et-ceteras do not make too rapid a progress towards instead of from mortality.

Before ten years are over, the Devil’s in it if I haven’t sucked out some of the life-blood from the mysteries of this universe, in a way that no purely mortal lips or brains could do. 

No one knows what almost awful energy and power lies yet undeveloped in that wiry little system of mine. I say awful, because you may imagine what it might be under different circumstances…

[To Charles Babbage:] I do not think you possess half my forethought, & power of foreseeing all possible contingencies (probable & improbable, just alike). — I do not believe that my father was (or ever could have been) such a Poet as I shall be an Analyst; (& Metaphysician); for with me the two go together indissolubly.

She died in 1852, at the age of 36, “a protracted, torturous death from cancer of the womb, her agony barely lessened by laudanum and cannabis.”

We celebrate the 2011 Ada Lovelace Day on October 7.