07 October 2015
Begone Mail... Not!!
There she goes
Yesterday evening I was writing a lengthy mail, explaining a nice little
idea. The mail was written in English and Greek, spellchecked, re-read,
corrected a bit, and then... the battery on the laptop suddenly ran
out of steam and the laptop shut down unexpectedly. I didn't feel a
single moment of anxiousness. I'm using mutt to handle my mails, and
mutt hands off to vim to actually write my stuff. As I know quite
well, vim saves temporary copies of my files, so in case of a crash,
I'm often asked to recover files. Works quite well.
mutt saves unfinished mails in a "folder" called postponed.
Since I had closed and re-opened the draft mail a couple of time, I
expected find the unfinished mail there. But it wasn't. Lesson learned:
mutt saves those mails there only when you close the message and
postpone it. OK, so far, but no problem, since definitely vim had
saved my message.
But I couldn't find it. It was gone. It started to take the wind out of
my sails, since I had spend some time to make a beautiful little piece
of mail, and the thought to do it all again demotivated me. I started
going through my disk with a fine comb. I found the path where my files
had been. I checked where vim is supposed to save temporary files (the
"dir" setting directive), and the documentation gave me a strong hint to
what had happened, for that setting the documentation suggested:
"Using "/tmp" on Unix is discouraged: When the system crashes
you lose the swap file"
Explanation: If you save your "swap" backup files in the /tmp directory,
when you restart after your crash, the OS will go through /tmp and throw
your carefully saved backup file away. This is what had happened to my
mail. But why?
In my .vimrc, I hadn't changed the dir setting, and the default
is to store files in a list of directories that are reasonably safe:
".,~/tmp,/var/tmp,/tmp". For a moment I was pointing fingers at vim,
but it just doesn't make sense.
In fact the culprit is mutt: The mail program tells vim to "edit
this file" and to store the needed temporary swap file in /tmp. There is
a settings directive to change the place, but the default is the very
unsafe /tmp directory. So my suggestion: if you use mutt, check your
config to set the "tmpdir" directive to something safe, something where
your OS will not clean up at restart time, e.g. on OpenBSD
/tmp/vi.recover is spared from the knife.
24 September 2015
The Big Move
Technically, it's not ch-athens any more
Man, almost a month without posts on this lazy weblog. In the meantime,
early September, I emptied my appartment in Athens and moved finally to
Naxos. So technically, this blog should not be called "ch-athens" any
more, but I don't think I'll rename it anyway.
It would be nice if I could describe the move as uneventful, but that
wasn't what happened. Since I'm moving to an island, ships are involved.
Which means that you can't just rent any old van and carry your stuff
over. Doing so would mean to pay a lot of money for bringing a car over
on the ferry boat and then bringing it back. So what I did is hire a
That was necessary for another reason: I'm still recovering from that
broken leg, and therefore I shouldn't lift stuff. So they did all the
lifting. But this is also the point where the "eventful" part of the
move happened for me. Even if I didn't lift heavy stuff, I put a lot of
stress on the leg. Push something over here, lift a box on top of
another box there. Put lots of stuff into boxes. Carry the garbage
downstairs. I had a very tired leg.
Towards the 3rd day, I was completely exhausted. I had problems going up
the stairs, even without carrying anything. At some point I was sitting
somewhere, and I saw a picture frame that I had to take down. I must
have looked at it for 15 minutes, trying to gather the strength to get
up and do that task too. What saved me was my friend Panos, who came
over on the last day and did the last "heavy" jobs, like carrying down
the last garbage.
At the end of it all, I went to the port and took the boat back to my
new home. The tourist season was still in almost full swing, so the boat
was pretty much full. I got myself a cabin, laid down and slept till
Paros (1 hour before Naxos). Then I had a shower and got myself ready to
arrive. It cost some extra money, but I already started to feel a bit
It took the leg some time to recover though. I guess it threw me back 2
or 3 weeks. On the next day I started with my regular swimming routine
again, and as soon as I was floating in the water, I felt as if the
recovery process in the leg was starting again.
30 August 2015
Full Moon over the Temple of Dimitra
Yesterday our friend Hariklia had the wonderful idea to go see the full moon come out over the Temple of Dimitra here on Naxos. We went there with friends and family, just missing the last rays of sunlight on the temple.
Still the scene was quite beautiful. As the sun had gone down, we waited for the moon to come out over the mountains. We hadn't looked up the exact time, so guesses were from "right now" to "we'll have to wait here for more than an hour". In the end it was maybe 15 minutes after sunset.
When the moon finally came out, its speed was surprising. It was as if the moon had been held back in the thick fluid of the mountains, and as it got free, it sped up until it plopped out like a cork held under water.
The little toy digicam didn't hold up all so well photographing that shiny object in the sky. Lack of a tripod didn't help either. Anyway, here are some attempts at photography for your pleasure.
28 August 2015
Three Times per Week
It's all up and down
While writing on the weblog has taken a backseat to everything else
again, I'm more or less back to regular cycling. Which is very nice,
since I really like cycling in the countryside here. Basically I'm
trying to do 3 rides per week. The plan is to build back my base
fitness. So I'm doing shorter rides, about 2 hours each. Since this is
Naxos, there is no way to do that without some climbing, but I'm trying
to take it easy.
Slowly, slowly my leg starts to feal more "normal". Whatever that means.
Basically that pushing, pulsing sensation where the operation was is
getting less, especially while riding. Walking is still a bit more
difficult. So I'm moving forward in that respect.
At the same time I have the impression that I'm moving backwards in
respect to my endurance. I seem to be able to do less and less. Having
to stop and take a long break to recover on a climb I've never ever
had to stop before (going up the Potamia valley). Never mind, that's
probably how building your endurance back should feel, for all I know of
such things. I guess I will need yet a bit more patience. I'm not
really complaining though, what I've already reached is wonderful
compared to where I was a couple of months ago.
16 August 2015
Transporting by Bike
Getting a new kitchen stove delivered
My old kitchen stove gave up its purpose in life lately. It started to
short circuit whenever I turned it on. I'm not a huge fan of "throw it
away", but this thing was beyond the trouble for me. So I bought a new
one. But then... no car, and I needed the thing urgently, as we would be
without anything to cook for the weekend. So the shop put the box on the
bus (!) and we picked it up at the bus stop.
From the bus stop, it's about 600m to my place. The box isn't so big
(it's one of those small stoves), but it's way to heavy to carry all the
way. So that led to my trusty cyclocross bike (which currently features
a rear rack for shopping runs) to serve as a cart. The setup was way too
unstable to ride. Pushing it along was more or less ok, with some short
moments of wobbling and threatening to fall. It reminded me a lot of
what lots of people in African and Asian countries do: load up a bike
full up, and push it along. The stove arrived home in one piece in the
end, and cooking warm food resumed.
23 July 2015
Back in the Mountains
It's been 6 Months
It's been 6 Months and 1 day yesterday, and for the first time I was
back with the bike in the mountains. I've been doing a slightly shorter
variant of my usual loop of Halki - Apeirantho - Stavros Keramotis -
I've been doing shorter rides since one month ago, even some with some
uphill parts and I had a lot of headwind. But going up to Apeiranthos
yesterday was a hard task. I had to take it easy and measure out what
strength I had. Which wasn't much. The result of my downtime is that
most of my power and endurance is gone. To be built up again.
On the way down, I was starting to get afraid. So I started to hug the
brakes. Not the best thing to do, but I was not going to bomb down the
mountain road that particular day. Better take it easy. That way I could
see more of the landscape and the wonderful evening anyway.
While going up, I wondered if I enjoyed myself. If I would enjoy cycling
again the way I had before the accident. I concluded that, yes, I
enjoyed myself. The views, the smell, even the exercise and feeling of
exhaustion in my body, I enjoyed all that. It took some time to pass
away some negative thoughts, but it was still possible. The enjoyment
of being strong in the mountains, of going up at a decent speed with
ease... that is obviously not there yet, but there is enough already to
enjoy. Now the plan is to continue slowly to build back my form. There
is no need and no use to hurry in this. And in the end the strength and
ease might come back again.
20 July 2015
Power Failure Fooling Me
I didn't get the memo
This morning, just as I was hooking up the laptop to the big monitor,
the power went out. Since the big monitor had displayed a problem with
a power cord some days ago (or was it the cord that had the problem?),
my first thought was "oh no, the monitor finally broke!" So I tried another
cord. I tried another outlet. I moved it around, trying to set the power
cord better, where it plugs into the monitor. No luck.
So I unplugged everything from the monitor, and moved it aside. Went
to work on the laptop. Turns out, "the Internet" isn't working either.
After a few tries and not connecting to the wifi, I finally look at the
router: no blinkenlights. Here I must admit, my first thought was: "Oh
noes! There was some power spike during the night, and both the monitor
and router are fried!" In my defense, all I can say is that it was quite
early in the morning.
In fact the power outage was no accident. According to our neighbors,
there was an announcement for it. Well, I didn't get the memo, in
more than one sense.
13 July 2015
Some Links to Facts on the Greek Debt Crisis
Always useful information
Here are some standard links that I keep coming back to refer people
for facts about the Greek debt crisis.
Let's start with this Reuters article that shows how much the German state
(and the Finish state, etc.) actually earns and saves from the crisis:
Analysis: What taxpayer bailouts? Euro crisis saves Germany money
Then we have some arguments like "but one has to pay back ones debt!" and
"if I owe money to my bank I can't either...". Basically it poses the
example of Germany's handling of debt:
How Europe cancelled Germany’s debt in 1953
And of course it is based on the London Agreement on German External Debts
as described here at Wikipedia. It's very interesting that in any discussion
I had with Germans, as soon as I point this out, they will do anything they
can to change the topic.
But then of course, Greeks are just corrupt and lazy. Right? Right?
Come on, admit it, no?
Well, the numbers (from reliable source) don't agree:
Corrupt, lazy Greeks? Debunking Ethnic Stereotyping substituting Economics
I should add some links about the corruption on the German side, about the
so called CDU donations scandal (nice mis-nomer, it was simply a
bribery scandal), about the bribes given by Siemens, HDW, Thyssen, etc. etc.,
in Greece and how much money that has cost the Greek people,
but I haven't yet found a good comprehensive link.
Suffice to say, the main reason why there is never any corruption or bribery
proven in German courts is that the German law states that you have to
prove that the politician being bribed actually changed policy because of
that. As long as he says "I would have ruled like that anyway", no bribery.
That was basically the Helmut Kohl defence. But I have to re-find the
link for the analysis on that law again.
09 July 2015
La drôle de guerre economique - the Phoney Economical War
Some quiet days in Greece under capital controls
We are living in strange times. The news about this country boils up
all around this world. A total breakdown is imminent every one or two
days. Or some kind of solution. Most of the time it's just another
postponement, for another day or two. So, how is life right now in
Greece? I think it resembles the phoney war.
Yesterday I went to town to buy some stuff and see some friends. I
passed by a furniture shop. There weren't any other customers, but then
this is a small shop, so that's quite normal. The owner wasn't falling
all over himself to have a customer or sell something, he didn't offer
me any special prices or the like. On the other hand, he basically said:
"Whatever I have is in the shop right now, to order something will mean
we have to pay up front, and there will be a long delay."
In some other shop it was the same story: "We can order it, but it's a
I then went on to visit my friend in his bike shop. He was out paying
some bills, and I knew this would take some time. He would either be at
the post office or do the payment at an ATM, because, you know, banks
are closed due to capital controls. Both options would involve some
So I went on to have a milkshake at my favorite cafe and pastry shop
"Aktaion". Normally in July, this would be quite busy, but it was just
the waiter sitting there. I chatted a bit with him, and of course he
wasn't delighted by the situation. To put it a bit ironic, he is the
worst example of the "lazy Greek": When the tourist season is on, he
works 7 days a week. From morning till mid-afternoon - I would guess
probably 10 hours. As a waiter, he is very attentive and speedy. He
doesn't have much work in winter, but on a tourist island, that is to be
expected, you have to earn in summer to survive the winter.
Why is the cafe so quiet? In fact, the tourists are here. There are
a few cancellations, but not many. And soon after I had gotten my
delicious sugar bomb, they arrived to occupy some tables. But the ones
missing are the Greek customers. When the capital constrols restrict you
to 60 Euros per day, going out for coffee is an easy candidate to cut
something. In the super market you can pay with your bank card, while
in the cafe you want the cash. It takes no genius to see that this is a
brake to the economy.
Even more a brake is the general feeling of "wait what will happen".
Even when people have the money to do some investment, a lot of them
will wait right now, to see around the next corner. "What will happen
till Thurday, when they say xy should happen?" "Let's wait till Monday,
to see what goes down on the weekend." It's always another few days off.
People remain calm. There is no panic.
We are in an economic war. But right now it resembles the "phoney war",
before the Germans moved into France. As the French put it "la drôle
de guerre". A lot of diplomatic discussions are held, a lot of back
and forth. Some shots are exchanged, some fortresses are probed. A
Maginot line of democracy is set up, but nobody knows if it will hold.
A few people are dying, already, unfortunate to be poor and sick, or
unfortunate to be refugees. The capital controls are the declaration of
war, the blocking of ports and throwing up of siege lines by the ECB.
But will the full war break out? Are we to be slaughtered soon?
There are positive stories too: My friend in the bike shop had ordered
some stuff from his supplier. At first they told him: "Don't take it
personal, but we now need the money up front." But when he called them
two days later to extend the order with some more stuff, they said:
"Your box is already on the way." In two days they had reversed their
policy, for their dealers who they never had payment problems with them,
and who never extended their line of credit, they will now continue as
What I ask myself mostly is, how can we get from this phoney war
straight to the London conference of 1953. Preferably without killing
anybody and without putting this continent on fire in between.
05 July 2015
Gefälschte Meinungsumfragen in Griechenland
Manipulationen in den Umfragen zum Referendum durch die Nea Dimokratia
Wie ein Strategie-Dokument zeigt, das von der Partei Nea Dimokratia an
ihre Funktionäre verteilt wurde (und das vor einigen Tagen geleakt
wurde), kann die Partei ND Meinungsumfragen manipulieren und tut dies
gezielt um beim Referendum ein besseres Resultat zu erzielen.
Meine quelle ist hier bei Kouti tis pandoras.
Schauen wir doch einmal den rot unterstrichenen Text im Ausschnitt an
(Übersetzung von mir):
Daher, im Masse wie das möglich ist, sollte die Meinungsumfrage
/ soziale Dynamik der Umfrage-Institute für das JA einen Anstieg
abbilden, es soll also so aussehen, dass es eine Dynamik - eine
Strömung zum JA gibt, die stabil ist. Aber nicht mit gleichen
Zahlen, weil die Leute weiterhin misstrauisch gegenüber solchen
Umfragen sind. Sie glauben, dass diese Teil des Systems sind.
Auf der anderen Seite, am Freitag 3.7., was auch der letzte Tag ist,
an dem laut Gesetz Umfragen veröffentlicht werden dürfen, muss
eine allumfassende Prädominanz des JA abgebildet werden, die keine
Zweifel offenlässt, ohne aber Selbstzufriedenheit aufkommen zu
lassen. Ein Vorsprung der sich um 5 bis 10 Prozent bewegt, je nach
Umfrage-Institut. Wir merken an, dass bei entsprechenden Referenden
im Ausland das JA üblicherweise unterrepräsentiert ist.
Es gibt also einen genauen Plan, was bitteschön die Meinungsumfragen von
Tag zu Tag bis zum Finale zu zeigen haben. Eingeschränkt wird das ganze
nur durch das "in dem Masse wie das möglich ist" am Anfang. Wenn man
aber die Detail-Anweisungen liest, scheint da eine Menge möglich zu
Wer gibt also auf diese Meinungsumfragen noch irgend etwas? Ich nicht,
und ich empfehle als Alternative meine eigene Voraussage von gestern.