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31 October 2018

Cat Stories

In monthly installments

Oh wow, it's already the end of another month. Since I had the plan to make at least one post each month, let me tell you some cat stories. Everybody loves cat stories.

I live in a small village without cars. The "roads" are dimensioned for loaded donkeys and humans. Cars simply can't get through, you have to leave them outside the village. Which is good for the cats. Cars kill cats. They also ruin quality of life for people with their exhaust, their noise, their demands of space, so in my book, if a place works for cats, it's good for humans too.

In the evenings I feed the village cats. In the summer there are fewer of them coming to my "dinner date". That's when there are more people in the village, staying in their summer houses. They feed the cats too, so I might have only 5 or 6 guests. In winter I might have 14 or 15 cats coming for food. I'm not the only dinner date around, so not all of them are there each day. Still it's a carpet of cats and they all try to walk in front of my feet. One of those days I fall flat on my nose, my fall only being softened by a carpet of furry little cats. Or maybe they will get away in time and the fall will all be mine "clumsy human, can't land on his feet".

Some of them don't mind eating together (they are friends, or family, or both). Some don't like each other. I know a bit their habits, so some of them get a bit of food at the edge of the group by themselves. Sometimes I sit with them and listen to the "crack, crack, crack" of them eating their dry cat food.

Some days ago, a neighbor passed by. At first she was surprised to see them all, then she counted them (there were 10 of them). Then she told me that there was one cat she'd seen last year very thin and spindly, and that she saw here again now and she was all round and well fed. Indeed it doesn't need much. A bit of cat food here and there, and for the rest they can look after themselves. Even a beat up tomcat drifting through can get round with shiny fur once he picks up a bit of regular food each day.

One thing though makes an even bigger difference. Some people of our small neighborhood got together and we sterilized the females. We went from our neighborhood having lots of kittens twice a year, with a cat explosion going to come down, to a stable neighborhood population. Sure we won't run out of cats even now, there are always some drifters arriving and staying.

In other neighborhoods on Naxos, the Naxos animal welfare society is doing this task. In areas that are tourism based, there might not be many people staying all the year who could look after things. But for our local population it was easier to do it ourselves. If you've been to Naxos and noticed some nice cats, or even some not-so-nice cats in need of help, I can recommend giving NAWS some financial help. Even a small donation will go far.


Posted by betabug at 22:27 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
30 September 2018

Water Update

It's falling down and it's coming out of the pipe

At the start of this summer I was prepared for the worst. It pretty much hadn't rained for more than half the winter. The 2 big reservoirs on Naxos were only about half full. Two years ago, we were without water for 2 weeks in our village. I was expecting and had started to prepare for something similar.

Part of our preparations was implementing a few steps to reduce water usage - even if they would not change things on a big scale. For example collecting the water that runs out when you wait for the hot water before taking your shower. Another part was to have a bunch of plastic containers with water in the house (for washing, toilet, etc.) and some bottled water.

The situation was obviously discussed near and far in the local population. From the side of the municipality, I've heard about two measures that were taken. Not that I've heard anything from the municipality directly, communication is certainly not the strong part of Naxos' municipality. The first thing was that our plumber mentioned that they got/bought a system to discover leakage in the water network last year. The second one is that apparently the municipality announced that they bored more groundwater wells, so no problem about water in the summer.

There were also some water outages in Naxos town (Chora), and for quite some time the water coming out of the tap was yellowish/brownish. Obviously at those times they were dragging out the last drops from the reservoirs. Water was trucked from higher up places to town too.

As for our personal situation, we did not have any water outages this summer. Again, as there is no communication, I have no idea why. One day we were happily having lunch in Halki, when the waiter brought a plastic bottle of water instead of a "karafa" of plain tap water as usual. When we asked him about it, he said: "But haven't you heard that they connected a second well to our water network, one which is known to be unsafe for drinking due to heavy metals?" Ups. Someone else at the super market said the same thing. So we went and bought some bottled water too. That was definitely not to my liking, but what could we do?

In fact, what R did was very simple: She took a sample of our tap water to a chemical lab in town. It cost us 70 Euros and it took a day or two. Result: Our tap water was perfectly drinkable, without chemical, heavy metal, or microbial contamination. In fact the guy in the lab congratulated us on our water quality. We bought 2 weeks of plastic bottles for nothing, but better this way around.

By now we had a few days of rain and autumn / naxos-winter weather already. The summer tourism invasion (again another record high this summer) is over too, so I assume that the water consumption has gone down too. Everybody is hoping that this winter will bring more rain... even if it will be again summer for a while from next week.


Posted by betabug at 13:32 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 August 2018

End of Tourist Season

It's about time

So it's the end of August, and pretty much the end of the peak of the tourist season. I'm not much into ranting (especially on this weblog), but ah well, it's about time. For the last 4 years or so, each year there was a new record high of tourism. It really has passed any reasonable limit. Someone told me that in July there were 12'000 cars on Naxos. Since we officially have about 19'000 residents, you can imagine that this is a lot of cars. Also there wasn't much water from the previous winter, so resources were a problem. In Naxos town, there were days when the water supply was shut down.

Looking through the news, this seems to be a common theme all over the world. "Tourist hotspots" get badly overrun, leading to all kinds of problems for the people living there. Obviously there are places way worse off than Naxos, even if Naxos seems to be some kind of "fashionable" place lately. I don't know what gives. I understand that people want a vacation, but I don't get why everybody has to go to the same places.

Surprising enough, in our village the water supply has held up so far. According to rumours this is because another water source was connected, but which is not healthy to drink. Bad deal, in my humble oppinion. But then it's only a rumour. This has not kept me from mostly hiding in this village all summer, the best option to avoid the tourist hordes.

I cycled all summer, with only a slight reduction of distance. I managed very well to go out more in the late afternoon and evening, which helps to avoid the worst heat. I also went cycling mostly in the mountains. This helped me to avoid the worst of traffic, since it was a total madhouse down there.

I'm looking forward to September now. Temperatures will relax a bit more, the tourism traffic will reduce a bit more day by day. I guess I'll even go to swim now and then.


Posted by betabug at 17:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 July 2018

The Smell of Smoke

But where does it come from?
 

Today, leaving the house and going for a late run to the super market, I smelled it immediately. It smelled like smoke, like a wood fire. Now it's summer and it has been 35°C today, so there is really no chance that somebody lighted a fire in their wood stove or their open fire place. Instead I put two and two together with what I had read in the news.

When I arrived at the super market, people were lingering outside and talking about the smell. "Is there any fire around here?", they asked. I told them I believed that the smoke is carried over from Attica, from the forrest fires in Kineta and Pendeli near Athens. It's far, but the wind is in West-Nord-West, which is that direction. Some did not believe it, some agreed with me.

Naxos is somehow remote from Athens, it's as if those things don't touch us. But then friends call and tell of other friends of theirs whose houses are in danger.


Posted by betabug at 20:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 June 2018

Tasting the bitter coffee of the Nebula Humble Bundle

It's more of a mixed bag

Some years ago, when I lived in a shared appartment, one of my flatmates was an Italian with high culinary aspirations. But he was also a bit thrifty. So one day he went to a discount super market and bought a bag of coffee of their house brand. It did not take him very long to find out that what he bought was total rubbish and basically not drinkable, of which he complained loudly to me. I basically told him: "What did you expect from a bag of coffee for 1.50 Euro? Just throw it away and buy something better." But no, he insisted on finishing that bag of coffee, drinking all the bitter and foul tasting black fluid he produced with it.

Last month I came across a "Humble Bundle" of science fiction books. In case you don't know the "humble bundle" thing, it's some organization that sells bundles of software (mostly games) or ebooks, the buyer can set the price, and everything over a certain amounts goes to charity. Obviously the quality of the products in the bundle can vary quite a bit. In any case, I wanted something to read and was open to try my luck. The bundle was called: "Super Nebula Author Showcase 2018 presented by SFWA!"


Continue reading "Tasting the bitter coffee of the Nebula Humble Bundle"
Posted by betabug at 10:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 June 2018

Snapped Gear Cable... or Matrix-style Probe?

Snap goes the shifter
Is it a matrix-style implant... or just the head of a snapped gear cable?

This morning I rode down to the next village for some shopping. As I was going up again, I looked at my gears... "hmm, in the hardest gear, let's shift some up", I said to myself. The gear lever went part of the way, showed some resistance and then moved free with a clack. Classical case of a snapped gear cable. It was snapped right inside the shifter housing.

Now if I was out on the road somewhere, I'd pull out the remaining cable and fix it under the bottle cage to keep the gearing in a manageable position. But as I was only in the next village, I had no problem to get back home. Lucky for me, this didn't happen on my last ride on Saturday. There I was in the middle of the Naxian mountains, on some steep climbs in the noonday heat.

This afternoon I went to Giannis' bike shop to replace the cable. Most of the time for the job was spent to get this little piece of twisted wire out of the shifter. As the cable slowly breaks, the strands go one by one. I had actually noticed the shifting deteriorate lately. When it broke totally, it left this tangled mess that is then difficult to get out. And as Wu mentioned, it looks a bit like that robot probe thing from the Matrix movie.


Posted by betabug at 21:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 May 2018

Zeichen- und Klappstuhl

Marke MABEF
Klappstuhl MABEF aus dem Künstlerbedarf

Eines meiner kleinen Hobbies ist das Zeichnen oder Skizzieren. Hier auf Naxos natürlich bevorzugt im Freien. Olivenhaine und hübsche weisse Häuschen sind bevorzugte Subjekte. Wenn man beim Skizzieren schnell genug ist, braucht man sich nicht hinzusetzen. Wenn es eine passende Steinmauer gibt (und man geprüft hat, dass sich da keine Skorpione verstecken), kann man sich auch hinsetzen - vorausgesetzt, der Standpunkt passt zur gewünschten Komposition.

Die bessere Variante wäre es, einen Klappstuhl mitzunehmen. So ein Teil hatte ich in der Zeichenschule schon mal, aber nach so vielen Jahren ist es natürlich schön verschollen.

http://betabug.ch/ouzo/blog/daily5/klappstuhl-sitzen.jpg

Also habe ich vor ein paar Wochen ein schönes Geschenk erhalten. Einen Klappstuhl der Marke MABEF in Holz und Leder. Es ist eine Dreibein-Konstruktion. Leicht genug für einen Zeichen-Spaziergang, aber viellicht nicht das richtige für eine Bergtour wo jedes Gramm zählt. Die Sitzposition ist angenehm... man sitzt ja nicht stundenlang auf dem Ding. Zur Haltbarkeit kann ich noch nichts sagen.

Aber auch mit dem neuen Klappstuhl... ich zeichne im Moment auch nicht mehr als sonst. So ist das mit den kleineren Hobbies, da gibt es immer erstmal alles mögliche andere, bevor ich daran denke das Skizzenbuch und den Klappstuhl mitzunehmen.

http://betabug.ch/ouzo/blog/daily5/klappstuhl-oben.jpg
Posted by betabug at 17:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 April 2018

Wasser 2018

Kein Wasser dieses Jahr
Wasserstand im grossen Reservoir, April 2018

Diesen Winter hat es auf Naxos stark unterdurchschnittlich geregnet. Von Zeit bin ich mit dem Fahrrad bei den beiden Stauseen / Reservoirs in Naxos vorbeigefahren. In der ersten Hälfte des Winters konnte ich so mitverfolgen, wie die Wassermenge langsam zunahm. Ende Januar war der Stand ungefähr wie im gleichen Monat des Vorjahres. Es regnete zwar nicht ganz so stark, aber dafür regelmässig und oft.

Doch dann blieb der Regen mehr oder weniger ganz aus. Seitdem ist natürlich der Wasserstand nicht mehr angestiegen. Das Foto ist vom 22. April 2018 und es ist deutlich zu sehen, wo der Wasserstand sein sollte. Auch das Grundwasser ist tiefer als es sein sollte. Brunnen in der Nähe des Meeres haben jetzt schon salziges Wasser - was normalerweise erst im Herbst passiert.

Dazu kommt auf der Verbrauchsseite, dass Naxos seit einigen Jahren steigende Tourismuszahlen hat. Mehr Besucher verbrauchen auch mehr Wasser. Die Landwirtschaft verbraucht auch mehr, denn dadurch, dass der Frühling wärmer als normal ist, wird mehr bewässert.

Theoretisch könnte es auch im Mai noch regnen. Aber ich bin nicht allzu optimistisch. Es müsste sehr, sehr viel regnen, um den Rückstand auszugleichen und es sieht im Moment gar nicht danach aus, gerade scheint es so, als ob der Sommer jetzt schon startet. Vor zwei Jahren hatten wir Ende August zwei Wochen mit Wasser-Rationierung (nur ein bis zwei Stunden Wasser pro Tag), ich gehe davon aus, dass es dieses Jahr noch schlimmer wird.


Posted by betabug at 12:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 April 2018

First Swim 2018

Splish splash this year too
 
Beach in Agios Prokopios

Almost forgot to record that during the EspressoSprint I also did my first swim of the season. It wasn't a big thing: As we were on the beach in Agios Prokopios anyway, I just jumped in one sunny morning. The water was still icy. In fact, Agios Prokopios is well known to have cold water even in summer, let alone now in spring. So "jumped in" can't be taken literally. In fact I stuck around with only up to my knees in for a while, considering if I should chicken out. But I persisted a bit longer, and then I warmed up and in the end I even swam properly for a bit. At that point it was quite nice.


Posted by betabug at 11:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 April 2018

EspressoSprint

5 days of work and a tiny bit of fun
Working into the sunset at the cafe Santana in Agia Anna

Twice a year me and the friends who work together on this project get together and work concentrated for a week or so. Usually we're remote working and part of the team is in Spain, part in Greece. So putting our heads together once in a while "in real life" is a Good Thing(TM). Apart from work days, we usually also leave some days free to do something all together, the so-called "social days". The last few years, the cyclists in the team go on a long ride together. This time it was all a bit condensed...


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Posted by betabug at 11:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

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