23 January 2014
Mit Freunden und Familie
Mittags gehe ich gerne mal essen, auch wenn ich alleine zuhause am arbeiten bin. Unter der Woche hat sich da das Angebot stark verkleinert, viele Restaurants in meiner Nähe haben nur noch am Abend offen. Die Krise hat da so einiges geändert und Personal für ein leeres Lokal mögen die Wirte auch nicht zahlen.
An einem der letzten Sonntage war ich zufällig auch wieder alleine zuhause und bin essen gegangen. Da sah es dann aber anders aus, alle offen und alles voll, alle Tische besetzt. Grosse Gruppen von Leuten, mit Freunden und Familie. Das Geld um unter der Woche Mittagessen zu gehen mag nicht mehr da sein, aber an speziellen Tagen mit guter Gesellschaft reicht es dann doch noch und dann darf der Tisch auch ordentlich voll werden.
Da einen Tisch zu finden ist nicht immer so einfach, vor allem, wenn man an so einem Tag alleine ankommt. Aber da ich bei einem der Lokale Stammgast bin (dort, wo ich auch unter der Woche zu Mittag esse), fand sich noch ein kleiner Tisch in der Ecke. Um mein Buch zu lesen war es zu duster und so richtig lange bleiben wollte ich auch nicht, aber es gab was gutes zu essen und darum gings mir ja.
20 January 2014
Having fun in the wind
Last week my friend George messaged me with the proposition to go for a ride on Monday morning. Now I'm more free with my working hours since I'm a freelancer, but it's not like I throw all my hours around. Still, I couldn't refuse. This January is unusually warm, the weather report promised partly cloudy 17c, but with a strong wind of 5 Beaufort from the South.
When I got up and looked out the report seemed to have missed a few facts. It was dark with stormy clouds and looked like it could rain. I dressed up accordingly and went out to our meeting place. Soon I stopped and removed the rain jacket and leg warmers - it was warmer than it looked - and soon after the sun was out. As George arrived, we exchanged remarks about "that bit of wind".
The "bit of wind" on the coast road was enough to make riding work. So what can a cyclist do? When you're alone, all you can do is make yourself small and put on a stoic face. But when there are two (or more) of you, it's time to trade pulls. Get into a line, one rider 0.3 to 1m behind the other's wheel and the behind rider is sheltered from the wind by the front rider. The front rider does all the work, while the rear one feels as if he was pulled along. When you're tired, it's a huge relief.
Too long at the front though, and your energy saps out fast. So the stronger the wind, the shorter the "pulls" at the front. In our case, we went for roughly 2 minute turns. After a few tries we had the exchange procedure clean and efficient. Work a bit in the wind, exchange to get a bit of rest.
After a while we spotted another cyclist ahead. He seemed to move funny. At first we thought he was sprinting, standing on the pedals, moving his bike wildly from side to side. But that didn't make sense, not in this weather. Getting closer, he almost looked like being drunk. George suggested that he must be tired.
When we passed him, we exchanged greetings and I offered him to "stick to our wheel" to get a bit of a rest. At the next "changing of the engine ahead", he looked a bit confused. He wasn't used to our drill, so I had to signal to him to keep on.. George and me kept on doing the locomotive, not expecting him to take part in the work. He kept on sitting in our slipstream and got a good rest from the wind, later turning off to wherever he went. As he was off, we laughed, talking about this guy who got a looky break and a free ride.
Turning back at the agreed place, we had it easier, with the wind mostly from the back (mostly, because coastal roads tend to twist and turn). Still we kept on trading pulls, because it just felt good to go this fast. We didn't get so much to chat like this, but we sure had a good time working together for a common good.
08 January 2014
Griechische EU-Präsidentschaft: Erstmal ein Versammlungs- und Demonstrationsverbot
So fängt man das richtig an
Heute fängt die griechische EU-Präsidentschaft an. Damit man gleich merkt, wessen Geist da weht, gibt es zuerst einmal ein Versammlungs- und Demonstrationsverbot. Wo kämen wir denn da auch hin, wenn die Leute auf die Strasse gehen würden? Natürlich tun sie es doch, denn ob die Demonstration bewilligt ist oder nicht, wen die Polizei erwischt, der landet in der Kiste - da findet sich dann schon immer ein Grund. Die zentralen Athener Metro-Stationen sind natürlich am Nachmittag auch wieder auf Anordung der Polizei geschlossen gewesen, wie immer wenn erwartet wird, dass mehr al 20 Demonstranten zusammenkommen.
01 January 2014
...and 2014 - Happy New Year! Guet's Neus! Καλή χρονιά!
Breaking of a Tradition: No Stats
On this weblog I've had it as a tradition to start the new year with a nice little post combining New Years wishes with a little overview of what happened on the blog in the last year. Well, somewhere in 2013 I broke the stats of my blog and didn't bother to fix them. I still have the access logs, but no fancy numbers to show off.
On the other hand I had to adjust the number of months displayed in the "archive" sidebar box: This weblog now being 9 years old, and the limit set to 99 months, there just wasn't enough space.
So what was happening in betabug's blog land? Not much it seems, there were 3 months, with one post each only (March, August, October), and in generally I was slacking on my writing. I guess it's going to stay that way for a while, but I'm not intending to close the weblog.
Looking through the year, some points stuck out:
- The wood smog is back in Athens (I wrote about it in last January, it's even been in the news in Switzerland)
- January also saw me starting to go to work by bike... the bike then went on to rule this year pretty much.
- My vacation in July certainly was a highlight of blog productivity (and in my personal year too, it's been a while since I had a true vacation)
As a big example of my shift in priorities, instead of writing my new years post first thing today, I went out for a two hour bike ride. In the rain and cold. Well, cold for our parts here, nothing compared to northern Europe of course. Despite having frozen toes for 1.5 hours (I gotta work on the hardware side for that part), I had tremendous fun. Thinking about this ride I still start smiling.
28 December 2013
Warm Winter Weather Cycling
There you go
On the 26th, there was a spot of sunshine coming out, so time for half of Athens' sport cyclists to take their "Fred Sleds" out. I'm no exception there. Now, such days aren't so exceptional here, having sunny days with 20 degrees Celsius is quiet common in December.
As I was dressing up in my fancy cycling clothes, I made the mistake of putting on long tights, which are made for colder temperatures and rain. Even as I went out the door, I thought: "This is too warm", but didn't make the effort to go back inside to change again. As I start with a long downhill, I usually wear a rain jacket too, until I warm up when I hit the first few meters of uphill roads.
Now I reached that point very fast, off goes the rain jacket. Arriving down at the coastal road there were lots of cyclists, as expected. Now, Athenian cyclists don't like the cold. Many times I've been out with shorts (and sometimes with a short sleeve jersey) when I see them wearing long pants and jackets, gloves, even shawls over the face, not to forget thick caps under the helmet. I can't believe they are not boiling over in all that stuff - while they probably look at me as that madman who runs around in shorts in winter.
This obviously is because temperature is to some part a psychological thing, partly because probably my metabolism runs warmer and I just like to run faster on the bike if I'm feeling too cold. This time I was really uncomfortably warm. So after having passed a couple of guys, I stopped to take off at least my baselayer undershirt, giving me some relieve. As I was changing, they passed me again.
I went back on the bike to go after them, passing them on the long, easy uphill after Agia Marina. After going through the little "holes of Karamanlis" tunnels, I said hello to the one that was in front, mentioning how nice the weather was and that I was too warm. He said he had noticed, and that he himself was happy for it to be so warm and to even then be dressed warm enough, as he's more of a "κρυουλιάρης" (kryouliaris), someone who gets easily cold.
I said "that's nice" and put the hammer down, speeding away, since they were travelling at an obviously slower pace than me.
21 December 2013
Ein Weblog war mal sowas wie ein Tagebuch
Aus dem Tritt geraten
Ûber viele Jahre war dieses Weblog für mich fast so etwas wie ein Tagebuch. Zwar habe ich nie alle persönlichen Gedanken oder Erlebnisse aufgeschrieben, aber viele Eckpunkte des Lebens waren doch wiederzufinden. Sehr, wehr oft habe ich im Blog nachgeschaut, wann ein bestimmtes Ereignis genau war ("wann war ich nochmal in X?")
Das ist etwas verloren gegangen. Ich bin nicht mehr so aktiv am schreiben, so sind auch nicht mehr alle Ereignisse da. Ich denke häufig drüber nach, an was es liegt. Ein stärkerer Wunsch nach Privatsphäre spielt sicher mit, doch andererseits habe ich auch früher nicht allzu persönliches aufgeschrieben. Vielleicht ist auch einfach der Wunsch etwas eingeschlafen, Zeiten ändern sich, andere Interessen kommen auf, wer weiss.
Vielleicht sollte ich die Frage "wie schreibe ich wieder mehr auf dem Weblog?" ändern in "wie müsste mein Weblog sein, damit es mich wieder interessiert, mehr zu schreiben?"
Eine ähnliche Funktion als Tagebuch, aber in etwas speziellerem Rahmen, haben Sites wie endomondo und Strava. Hier verfolge ich meine Velo-Eskapaden und auch hier gehe ich manchmal "in der Zeit zurück", um zu sehen wann ich was gemacht habe. Ein grosser Unterschied hier, diese "Plattformen" sind zu unterschiedlichem Grade "gesperrt", d.h. nicht jeder kann alles sehen. Das hat seine guten Seiten, von wegen Privatsphäre. Aber es widerspricht auch dem fundamentalen Gedanken des freien Zugangs auf dem Internet. Ich meine damit nicht nur den Zugang fremder auf meine (freiwillig freigestellten) Informationen. Ich meine damit auch meinen eigenen, zukünftigen Zugriff auf meine eigenen Informationen. Solche "geschlossenen" Plattformen haben nämlich die Angewohnheit, dass nicht alles was man reintut auch immer wieder rauskommt. Die Bezeichnung für solche Sites ist "walled garden".
In diesem Fall ist das nicht ganz so tragisch, da die GPS-Dateien meiner Velofahrten in einem dokumentierten Format vorliegen.
Zurück zum Weblog: Jetzt gäbe es natürlich die Möglichkeit, dass ich alle meine Touren (oder zumindest die etwas grösseren) auch hier aufführe... aber ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob sich dadurch nicht eine gewisse Monotonie und ein Wechsel des Characters des Blogs ergäbe. Wenn ich es schaffe, einen Mix mit anderen Texten und Gedanken zu machen, dann könnte es gut sein, auch wenn manchmal mehr Velo als Text da ist. Ich denke mal noch drüber nach.
14 November 2013
New PGP Key
It's time to upgrade my PGP key. The old one was created more than 10
years ago and the key length isn't up to today's standards any more.
The new key ID is C4D2D0F8 / long ID CC57D031C4D2D0F8.
I have prepared one of those fancy "transition statements". You can
find it here, signed by my old key and signed by my new key
Since my old key was very old and had a smallish key size, I've
recently set up a new OpenPGP key, and will start using the new
one from now on.
The old key will continue to be valid for some time, but i prefer all
future correspondence to come to the new one. I would also like this
new key to be re-integrated into the web of trust. This message is
signed by both keys to certify the transition.
the old key was:
pub 1024D/E0EAFC8A 2002-01-24
Key fingerprint = 067B 60E1 CB03 50CE D781 42E9 A583 AAF4 E0EA FC8A
And the new key is:
pub 4096R/C4D2D0F8 2013-10-05
Key fingerprint = B0C9 F0D2 2432 1C05 4688 34EF CC57 D031 C4D2 D0F8
(Long key ID: CC57D031C4D2D0F8)
You can get the full key from this address:
Or, to fetch my new key from a public key server, you can simply do:
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-key C4D2D0F8
gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv-key C4D2D0F8
If you already know my old key, you can now verify that the new key is
signed by the old one:
gpg --check-sigs C4D2D0F8
If you don't already know my old key, you can check the fingerprint
against the one above. If you want to be double extra paranoid, check
the fingerprint against the one you get from me personally in writing:
gpg --fingerprint C4D2D0F8
If you are satisfied that you've got the right key, and the UIDs match
what you expect, I'd appreciate it if you would sign my key:
gpg --sign-key C4D2D0F8
Lastly, if you could upload these signatures, i would appreciate it.
You can either send me an e-mail with the new signatures (if you have
a functional MTA on your system):
gpg --armor --export D21739E9 | mail -s 'OpenPGP Signatures' firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can just upload the signatures to a public keyserver directly:
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-key C4D2D0F8
gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --send-key C4D2D0F8
Please let me know if there is any trouble, and sorry for the
In short: I'll start using the new key. Please get it from the key
server or my server, then check the signature of my old key on it and
the fingerprint with me. Then please sign the new key and upload to the
keyserver or send to me.
Thanks, and be safe out there!
12 November 2013
Saturday Ride Report: Dervenohoria
Some decent climbing, not so decent climber
Last Saturday I was out riding with my friend George. We went to some mountains to the north-west of Athens. First we had to pass a lot of industrialized areas in direction to Elefsina, riding on the shoulder of big roads, not really my preferred thing. Then we passed through the plain near Aspropirgos. Here we had smaller roads and with much less traffic.
Then the climbing started: At first on a long, straight stretch that is still part of the plain, with a gradient of 1-2%. Then getting bit by bit steeper up, and finally arriving in the forested slopes of the mountains. After a bridge, the real climb starts: 8.3km with an average gradient of 5.7%. Less steep at first, more steep towards the end. Shortly before the top there is the first "peak" which marks the arrival at the pass height, the road going almost down a bit and then one last climb to the road's peak.
At first George and me had started the climb together, but after the first kilometers I lost him - his higher gearing definitely doesn't help there. So I soldiered on by myself. Lots of trucks passed, but in generally with enough space on the road to be ok. One of the truck pushed out a huge cloud of exhaust, both in passing me and continuing on uphill. The fume lingered on, which was very tough to ride on and one of the times where I wished for a bit more wind to get it away. By that time I was also already feeling exhausted, mustering my strength just to not stop till I reached the peak. When I got there, I waited for George and had some time to recover.
Down we went, onto a high plateau and a village where we filled up on water. We had the best of weather, sunny but still fresh. The plateau was very interesting. It looked to me like a forgotten place. Empty and forgotten so close to the big city. We continued through the plain to the exit on the south-east. First some more climbing to get over the "border" of the plateau, then a huge downhill ride. This part again was forested and looked empty and forgotten, except for one town with a collection of huge tavernas advertising lamb chops and stuff like that. We hadn't seen a sheep in all the ride, so I guess the taverna customers don't mind that their meat arrives on the same roads as they do.
We kept on our return, through ever slightly more crowded streets, through the industrial areas again. In the Athens neighborhoods we hit on Saturday shopping traffic, but after having lunch at George's place, everything was calm on the way back to my place. I felt tired and done, but had no sore legs. I just wanted to go out again as soon as possible and get this climb done properly.
Distance: 110km, 1470m elevation gain, 4:40 riding time, average speed riding (without the stops): 23.6km/h.
10 November 2013
Morgens in der Stadt
Eigentlich habe ich die Stadt im Moment etwas über. Aber früh am morgen gefällt es mir immer noch in der Stadt zu sein. Am besten natürlich an einem sonnigen Tag, von denen haben wir ja glücklicherweise genug hier. Früh morgens aus dem Haus gehen, um eine Bougatsa zum Frühstück zu holen. Das Sonnenlicht auf den Häusern, Menschen, die zur Arbeit gehen oder im Quartier einkaufen.
15 October 2013
Riding the Apollona Round with Wu
Almost 100km of cycling fun on Naxos
This sunday I went for a big bike ride with my friend Wu. The local
gang of cyclists call this ride the "round of Naxos", but since it
does not go around all the island (it can't, there are no suitable round-trip roads in the
south), I call it the "Apollona round". I've ridden it a couple of
times. This time though, I was going to ride it with Wu. He isn't such
an experienced cyclist (yet), the longest rides he had done so far was
26km on his own and 36km a few days ago with me. So this was going to be
a bit of an adventure.
We started out at a nice and easy pace. Soon we discovered that it was
windy (and with the north wind, it was in our front), so a quick lesson
in "riding on the wheel of someone" was called for. (For those not
into the bike riding thing: if you "draft" - ride right behind another
cyclist - you get a bit of protection from the wind, saving around 20%
of your energy). As usual, after Chalki, the wind was blocked by
the mountains. We took the big climb to Apeiranthos slowly, as Wu
hadn't climbed something like this before. Arriving there, we called our
car-driving friends where they were... they hadn't even started yet.
Continue reading "Riding the Apollona Round with Wu"