01 January 2015
Happy New Year! Guets neus! Καλή Χρονιά! ... and 10 Years of ch-athens!
It's been some times
So today is the first day of the year 2015. I wish all of my readers
(probably you could count them on one hand) a happy new year, with good
health and lots of happyness. A friend asked me lately if I'd considered
2014 a good year ("on a scale of 1 to 10..."). Personally there were
some tough times in 2014, but in the end it ended quite well. I wish all
of you that you may have a year 2015 that you can grade high on that "1
to 10" scale at the end!
At the same time it's the 10th birthday of this weblog. For many of
these years, I used to do New Year's posts with statistics about visits
and all that. This year I don't have any statistics. The reason is that
in February the hardware of the server failed. For some time I didn't
get my data back (at first it appeared that the failure was total, in
the end I was able to recover everything). I still have the access logs,
but "didn't get around" to setting up any webstats on it. I guess it
just wasn't that important - like when you move house and there are
still a few unpacked boxes a few months later, you probably didn't need
For many months of 2014 I just managed to write one post per month.
Again, probably it wasn't so important to me. As for the posts there
were, in a large part this weblog has turned to a cycling theme. Which
is no surprise, it just reflects the newfound interest in cycling in my
life. I posted a few "ride reports" about larger rides (including my
first "brevet" ride in January). I could have posted more ride reports,
but sometimes I felt it would overwhelm the other content. Not sure if
that notion holds true, but in fact there wasn't much other content
So in those 10 years I wrote 1337 posts. For a geek, that is a really
funny number. How much the blog writing has slowed down, you can see in
the fact that after 5 years I had already 1000 posts, so only 337 in the
second five years. At least I can claim that the posting frequency has
picked up lately, December was the "busiest" month of the year 2014.
31 December 2014
This Thing Called New Year's Resolutions
Next year for sure I will...
For all my life I never remember having taken new year's resolutiions
seriously. Except that one time where I set myself the task to set up
this weblog and write every day (or in the worst case every second day)
in it. I managed to do that and you're reading this on the resulting
blog. If you look at the last few posts, it's obvious I haven't stuck
to the once per day rule lately - but I kept at it for many years in
that rhythm. Now I'm at it more to the tune of "never a month without
at least one post".
So, what made that new year's resolution work? I guess it could have just
as well been any point in time that I would have decided to "do this".
The motivation was there, publishing this stuff and getting feedback
(stats, comments, direct feedback) made me stick to it. If I'd slack too
much, it would show... so I didn't want to let that happen and I would
sit down to write something. Even if it was something small - in fact,
whenever I was planning a big super, great article was when things
would get stuck.
A while ago, when I was laying in bed with that cold, I had a lot of
time to think about doing another new year's resolution. Candidates where
to revive the weblog, or maybe to set a target (10 - 12 hours per week)
for the training on the bike. In the end I'm not going to do that. If
I feel the motivation to write more on the blog, that will happen.
Likewise with the bike: When things work out, I'll get the hours in,
I'll enjoy myself and the training happens. When I'm travelling, when
things go upside down in life, training stops. I'm not training for
something, so in fact, "training" is just being out riding, having fun.
When I can, I'm trying to get in 3 to 4 rides per week. At that point,
after a while, I start to be in a shape where riding gets easy, and when
it gets easy, it becomes a lot of fun. No need to make me a rule about
it. Who needs a plan to ride in a place like the one in the picture?
30 December 2014
Neuwahlen im Januar
Es lag schon in der Luft
Nachdem es schon länger in der Luft lag, sind nun jetzt tatsächlich
Neuwahlen angekündigt für den Januar. In der europäischen Presse ist
die Propaganda-Maschine schon am anrollen: Die (in der letzten Zeit
leicht angestaubten) Zielscheiben der "faulen und undankbaren Griechen"
werden wohl wieder aus der Schublade geholt. Jetzt wollen sie wohl die
Linken (SYRIZA) wählen und die "Austerität" nicht mehr. Sowas auch.
Aus meiner Umgebung höre ich im Moment nicht mehr so richtige
Begeisterung für Syriza, aber ich höre, dass viele Leute sie trotzdem
wählen werden. Man könnte es als "Denkzettel" bezeichnen, aber das
trifft es nicht. Ich würde es als "keine wirkliche Alternative, aber
irgendwas anderes muss man jetzt wählen" bezeichnen. Es wäre echt
eine Erleichterung, wenn das Verbrecherpack, das die letzten Jahre (in
abwechselnder Zusammensetzung) an der Macht war, mal endlich einpacken
19 December 2014
A Not So Common Cold
Been lucky for some time
Last week I had caught a cold. I haven't had one in a while, in fact I
didn't have a cold in the last 2 winters. Since I was lying in bed, I had
a lot of time to think about why this could be.
One reason that immediately sprang to mind: I'm not working in an office
any more. In your usual office environment, there is always someone who
goes to work feeling slightly sick, and then takes on the role of prime
virus dispenser. Also I'm much less in public transport, which is also a
nice source of sharing microorganisms. Not going daily to the office,
means less time in bus and metro.
Another source of reduction of public transport exposure is that I have
started to cycle again. I guess you get a lot of exhaust and spray water
from passing cars, but no Common Cold virus. It's also quite likely that
a bit of "sport" (or at least a more active lifestyle) due to the bike
results in a slightly improved immune system. The last winter I rode
my bike all the time, in any kind of weather, patting my own shoulder
for being so tough and hardening my immune system.
Here in Greece they say that swimming in the sea during summer is an
excellent strategy for avoiding getting a cold in winter. My theory about
that is that the salt water in the nose and throat makes things more
resilient there... it might not be scientific proof, but it worked for me.
That's also what I blame for having fallen for the cold virus this time:
The last summer I was in the sea much less.
There's this other thing they have here: You shouldn't go out when you
have wet hair or you're sweaty or so. Last week it was pretty much rainy
all week, there was just one opening, which I used to go out for a ride.
Unfortunately I dressed too warm, so I was sweaty for almost all the way
back. Prime suspect.
Now one could say that it's much more likely that I simply got the virus
from someone, and that my immune system was a bit weaker than usual at
that point. But I would prefer to have my home made theories not spoiled
by anything like science or facts! In any case, the cold passed mostly,
and I'm back on my bike, working on hardening myself for the next assault
of some garden variety micro critter.
06 December 2014
Athens Group Ride Culture
Come and ride along
Since restarting my cycling life early last year, I've come to
appreciate some of the aspects of the group ride culture here in Athens.
What I take part in has changed a lot, but I think all of these things
are worth a try and can be good fun, and a way to explore Athens on a
bike. Athens is not very bike friendly, so a group ride can make these
things safer and more enjoyable.
I started with a commuter bike, and at first I went to the "Freeday"
massive group rides on Friday evening, starting from Thisio. The first
few times there were between hundred and a few hundred cyclists there,
because it was winter. As soon as the weather got warmer, numbers
increased, and when it got to close to a thousand, that group ride got
to unwieldy and slow for me. Being in such a large group means having to
stop and wait a lot. Still it's a fun experience, being in that sea of
cyclists, having all the road for you (and the other thousand of you).
Next I found a little neighborhood, "casual" group ride. We're not
talking about "dudes in latex on racing bikes" here. These are small
groups of normal cyclists, usually on commuting bikes (city bikes, some
mountain bikes, some people even on racing bikes), who make tours
typically in the range of 30-40km, in an easy speed and waiting for all
the members of the group. Usually there is a stop at the "endpoint", but
I guess most of them don't stop at a cafe, first for economic reasons,
second probably because greek coffee culture takes more time. In winter
the stop probably is reduced to 10 minutes of rest.
I don't ride very often with the local group, since my schedule does
not always allow it, but there are some people who are always there. On
http://www.podilates.gr there is a calendar and a map helping you to
find a group (in greek). Still I like to join in from time to time, to
have an easy ride with company. There are some people who have prepared
a route, and there are people who check that everybody stays together
and nobody gets lost on a traffic light.
After getting a "fast bike", I started looking at more "sportive"
group rides. Here there is also a range of options, but I don't know
of any website listing them all (some are appearing also on the
podilates.gr site). There are some well known "chain gangs" starting
in Kalamaki at the parking space of the "Ble" club (where Alimou and
Poseidonos avenues meet), and these groups usually follow the coast
road in direction to Sounion. Wednesday evenings, and Saturday/Sunday
mornings are typical times.
I've been about 4 times out with some of those groups. Sometimes I like
it for getting an easier way to get a lot of kilometers done (drafting
in a big group makes a huge difference), but other times I prefer to be
out there on my own instead of having to concentrate on the wheel in
front of me. I guess each thing has their advantage. One day when I was
out alone on the coast road and hit a headwind on the way back, I was
passed by a cycling club from Nea Ionia and was invited to sit in at the
end... free shelter from the wind, getting me almost all the way home
03 December 2014
Chewy Stuff Puncture
Not good for the stomach
I'm not really sure which of my patches will match this puncture. Should I try the largest that I have, or would it be better to try multiple smaller ones?
I had a puncture about a week ago, and after I came home and inspected the punctured tube, I left it carelessly lying around. Should have patched it right away and put it aside. What happens next was that Myshkin (our cat) seems to have gotten to it. I noticed only much later, when he had spent a few miserable days without appetite and had been dragged to the vet for it.
It appears he is feeling better now, hopefully no long term problems from eating yet more stuff that should not be eaten by little cats. We had some serious problems in that respect before, so I'm sure I won't leave bicycle tubes lying around any more.
25 November 2014
Cycling to Sounion
A bit farther off on a sunny day
Since Myshkin is doing much better now (yay! [knocks on wood]), for a
few weeks now I have been able to get back more to cycling. I had more
or less two months where I hadn't done anything. Getting back was the
usual drag, made worse by at first not really having much time. But I
was not going to let that stop me. I started with one and two hour
rides, and finally, two weeks ago, I ventured out a bit farther.
I didn't have a set plan, I just went with an easy rhythm. Not having
been out for a long ride in a while, it's important not to overestimate
your strength. After 1:20 hours, I called home and learned that things
were fine with Myshkin and I could stay out longer and go further. To
which I replied that it's also a matter of how long I'd feel able to go...
Continue reading "Cycling to Sounion"
06 November 2014
Yepp it's broken
Hinge broken on Lenovo Thinkpad X220
For a while there was a bit of play in those hinges. Then little cracks appeared, so small that I was wondering if they were just features of the plastic that always were there. Some days ago when I wanted to close the lid, the plastic cracked. Looks like that "super strong hinges on Thinkpads" thing doesn't always work out. Gotta check if this can be fixed.
02 November 2014
König Auto in Griechenland
Der ehemalige, griechische Rennfahrer Tassos Markouizos (Τάσος Μαρκουίζος), bekannt unter dem Namen "Iaveris" ist seit 30 Jahren damit beschäftigt, für mehr Verkehrssicherheit und Sicherheitsbewusstsein einzutreten. Vor ein paar Tagen bin ich über zwei Artikel gestolpert, in denen einige der in Vorträgen genannten Fakten aufgelistet wurden (auf Griechisch ein Vortrag in Patras und einer in Ioannina).
Ein paar Aussagen und Zahlen:
- 20% der Unfälle passieren auf dem Nationalstrassen-Netz, aber 80% in Ortschaften mit geringer Geschwindigkeit - obwohl die meisten Lenker meinen, dass sie dort sicherer sind
- Griechenland war 2013 in der EU-Statistik der Verkehrstoten auf Rang 6
- Es gibt keinen sicheren Weg um Patras per Auto zu erreichen, weder von Korinth aus, noch von Agrinio, noch von Pirgos aus (ein Umstand der mir sehr bewusst ist und der mich schon öfter daran gehindert hat, dort Freunde zu besuchen, vor allem seit die Zugsverbindung für Dauer-Bauarbeiten unterbrochen ist)
- In den letzten 50 Jahren starben in Griechenland 130'000 Menschen in Verkehrsunfällen, in allen Kriegen in Griechenland im 20. Jahrhundert (Balkankriege, 1. und 2. Weltkrieg) starben "nur" 70'000 Soldaten. Für die letzten 50 Jahre nennt er auch die Zahl von 360'000 Gelähmten und Tetraplegikern. (Meine Anmerkung: Diese sieht man allerdings fast nie, denn unsere Infrastruktur ermöglicht ihnen fast keine Bewegungsfreiheit.)
Für "Iaveris" ist der grösste Teil des Problems die "Idiotie der Lenker". Er sagt wir brauchen nicht bessere Autofahrer, sondern bessere Menschen. Der Artikel aus Ioannina merkt dazu an, dass sich der Vortrag vor allem an die Studenten der dortigen Universität richtete, dass diese aber nicht interessiert waren.
21 October 2014
Mal wieder in der Schweiz
... und es hat gar nicht gross geregnet
Anfang Oktober war ich wieder mal in der Schweiz, zu Kunden- und Familien-Besuch. Böse Zungen mögen jetzt behaupten, dass es da bei gewissen Kunden auch keinen grossen Unterschied mehr gibt. Unter anderem gab es einen Gesellschafts- und Pingpong-Abend und gemeinsames Arbeiten im Café.
Wettermässig hatte ich Glück, Regen gabs gar keinen und kalt wars auch nicht. Da ich nicht zum Velofahren kam, war ich zweimal joggen. Das hab ich schon ewig nicht mehr gemacht und der entsprechende Muskelkater hat mich dran erinnert.
Der Hinflug war nicht so angenehm, ich sass auf der Sonnenseite und hatte vergessen im Sicherheitsbereich des Athener Flughafens noch eine Flasche Wasser mitzunehmen. Das gab dann eine durstige Sache und meine Ohrstöppsel hatte ich auch vergessen. Der Rückflug war umso angenehmer: Den besten Platz beim Notausgang erwischt, mit 1.5m Fussraum und zwei Fenstern. So lässt es sich dann schon reisen.