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29 December 2016

Snow and Rain

Whatever way the water comes down, it's welcome
Light powdering of snow on the Fanari mountains of Naxos

After last year's dry winter, this year any water coming from the sky is even more welcome. Currently it's been raining for 2 days, and there is a chance that there is more rain in the next 2 days too.

In fact, some of the water is coming down as snow or at least a snow/rain mix. For raising the water table, snow is said to be more useful than rain, as it doesn't run off so fast, it has more time to soak in when the snow melts. I'm not sure this makes much difference with these low levels we have right now. Last year we had 3 days of snow around New Year. It's unlikely that things will develop this way now, the preview says temperatures will go up slightly again.

Personally I had planned to go to town today, to pick up a package and have a lazy morning, reading and drinking hot chocolate in a cafe. Given the current conditions, I have postponed it and am drinking tea at home now. As houses in Greece don't have good insulation, it's a bit fresh inside, but with some extra pullovers on, it's nice and cozy.

Posted by betabug at 11:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 November 2016

Tired Pony

Broken down old car
Broken down Citroën Pony in Greek telephone company OTE colors

There is certainly not a lack of old, broken down cars in these parts. Most of them are tastefully hidden in some garden, but some are near to the road.

One example is this Namco / Citroën Pony. It's standing at the local base of the OTE telephone company (used to be a state monopol). There is some good company of retired public payphones to make almost an open air technology museum with it.

The Pony was based on the Citroën 2CV. It was manufactured or assembled in Thessaloniki.

As a former 2CV driver, I like seeing this Pony. Even if I don't really like the poor shape it's in. Greece has mostly gotten rid of these old, simple cars. It's really rare to see one anywhere. I remember coming to the 2CV world meeting to Greece in 1999, and even back then there weren't many Ponys around. The only one at the world meeting was from outside of Greece.

Posted by betabug at 21:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
22 October 2016

Bean Soup

It's not *that* cold yet, but a soup starts to be nice
Traditional greek bean soup "φασολάδα" (fasolada)

It's not really winter yet and only a little bit like autumn. There are still lots of warm days. But temperatures have gone down, so soups are more in culinary fashion for us. A while ago we were at Boulamatsis in Naxos Town (Μπουλαμάτσης), a typical μαγειρείων (mageireion), meaning a restaurant for traditional cooked foods (ie not a place to get grilled meats) and they had Φασολάδα (fasolada, traditional greek bean soup). We went again a few days later when I wanted some, but then they didn't have it.

So about a week ago, we had some at home. It's not the simplest of foods to cook, but when done well, it's just awesome in my regards. Normally something to eat in cold weather, but at the long end of the summer, I'm just so looking forward for this kind of food, even if it might not fully be "in season".

Another interesting fact is that this bean soup is the "national dish" of Greece. Not Mousakas, not Souvlaki, but a "simple" bean soup. Even though Wikipedia claims it shares that throne with Mousaka and Souvlaki, the "sources" for these are some random articles on the web. The source for Fasolada being the national dish of Greece is an actual lexicon entry.

Posted by betabug at 15:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 October 2016

Grüezi mitenand!

Vorhin auf dem Dorf

Als ich heute Mittag einen kleinen Spaziergang zum Briefkasten [1] machte, kamen mir auf dem Rückweg ein paar Touristen entgegen. Nicht weiter ungewöhnlich, liegt das Dorf doch auf einem halbwegs bekannten Wanderweg. Auf dem Dorfweg hörte ich sie bevor ich sie sah, und was ich hörte war eindeutig Schweizerdeutsch. Als ich die beiden Wanderer (komplett mit Wanderschuhen und Stöcken) dann auf mich zukommen sah, grüsste ich sie spontan... auf Schweizerdeutsch: "Grüezi mitenand!" Resultat: Die beiden Wanderer waren wohl sprachlos, denn ich bekam keine Erwiderung.

Ich grüsse ja normalerweise auf Griechisch und auch da kommt es bei Touristen schon mal vor, dass ich nicht zurück gegrüsst werde. Es gibt Leute, die sind wohl aus der grossen Stadt und die sind es deshalb wohl nicht gewohnt gegrüsst zu werden. Andere können kein Griechisch und die grüssen dann in irgendeiner Sprache zurück, das ist mir auch recht.

[1]Alle Briefkästen / Postfächer des Dorfes sind am einen Ende des Dorfes zusammen in einem Kasten. So hat es die Briefträgerin nicht so weit.

Posted by betabug at 22:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 September 2016

It rained in September

Water... water...

Looking back at the month of September, a few things come to my mind. One of them is my friend Borja and family coming for a visit, which resulted in many visits to the beach and a good number of rides. Another is the slow passing out of the tourist season on the island. And then there is the first rain after the summer (early morning on the 20th). It was as if our galician friends had brought a little present of rain with them. The last time it rained before that? I think it was May, but maybe I'm wrong and it was in early June.

In any case it has been months. Given that the last winter was very dry, with rainfall levels way below average, there is a big water problem on the island. I've described in another post (in German) how we had a few weeks with water outages.

Jokingly when we talked about the rain, I had said that when it starts raining finally, I will go out on the street and let myself get rained on. In the end, the rain fell during the night. I woke up and when I heard it, I smiled, but I was too sleepy to go outside. Everybody is hoping for more rain as soon as possible, so maybe I'll get my chance for "singing in the rain" then.

Astrid from Azalas has an excellent article about Urginea maritima, a plant that is (amongst many other interesting things) said to be an indicator for coming rainfall. The fields on Naxos have plenty of them right now. I'm really hoping those legends are true.

Posted by betabug at 19:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 September 2016

Dirty Fun with the CX Bike

Cleaning up after playing in the sand
Before: playing in the dirt, after: cleaning up

I've written about bike cleaning before. It's still something that I fail to do often enough. But since I've put some new tires on my (crappy) CX bike last week, and then went out to hit the Naxian dirt roads along the coast (from town to Agiassos), there really was some cleaning needed.

In difference to the description in that post, I didn't use WD-40 this time. Just water with soap. Maybe a bit more scrubbing was needed, but that was ok. Mostly I had to get all that sand and dust off. It was everywhere and it had gummed up anything that was oily before. Water and soap worked quite well for that. I can't claim that the bike is totally clean right now, but just "good enough for me".

As for the dirt cycling itself: I had a great time. I should write about the new tires (Continental Cyclocross Speed, 35mm) another time when I have a bit more experience with them, but so far they rock. They are perfect for the dry, hard dirt roads that are common here on Naxos.

Posted by betabug at 17:59 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
31 August 2016

Kein Wasser im Paradies

Aber sonst ist's schon schön

Ich bekomme ja öfters zu hören, dass ich im Paradies lebe. Ja, es ist schon schön hier, aber nirgendwo ist es perfekt. Also antworte ich meist, dass es hier auch seine Nachteile hat. Die letzten paar Wochen hatten wir einige Nachteile, denn dieses Jahr gibt es nicht genug Wasser. Den letzten Winter hatte es extrem wenig geregnet. Am 14. August war dann für Stunden kein Wasser in der Leitung. Das ganze verschlimmerte sich von Tag zu Tag. Die Ausfälle waren auch nicht immer zu den gleichen Stunden, so dass man sich nicht gut drauf einrichten konnte. Am 20. August war der Tiefpunkt erreicht, wir hatten einmal früh morgens und einmal spät in der Nacht für je eine halbe Stunde Wasser.

Danach wurde die Situation wieder etwas besser. Da mehr und mehr Touristen und Sommerhäusler abreisten, reichte das Wasser wohl wieder etwas weiter. Einige Tage später hatten wir wenigstens immer Vormittags Wasser. Damit konnten wir uns wenigstens etwas einrichten: Morgens erstmal Flaschen und Eimer füllen, Geschirr spülen, duschen, ab und zu sogar eine Waschmaschine laufen lassen. Mühsam und stressig ist es trotzdem.

Die letzten zwei Tage hatten wir dann wieder durchgehend Wasser. Ich klopfe erstmal auf Holz dass es so bleibt. Vielleicht regnet es irgendwann im September ja auch mal wieder.

Posted by betabug at 23:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 August 2016

Time for a new phone

It's been some years

It was January 2009 when I got a new work phone from my then employer. It was the brand spanking new Nokia e71 smartphone. It did it all and it proved to be a longtime companion. I've used - and loved - that phone ever since. I'm on my 3rd battery. Lately though, more and more things stopped working. The VoIP client and the VPN didn't hold up with the software cycles in their fields. Lately the email-client stopped working too. Those are software problems, there might even be solutions. More and more keys stopped working or fell out. And then the USB connector started to break.

In the end I bit the bullet and decided on a new phone. Given the current selection of phones, this is like "choosing the least sucky of all those sucky phones out there". There's nothing with a physical keyboard. The phone ecosystem seems to think that as a customer, you're just an expendable that never really "owns" the hardware. The security problems are a nightmare. Providers don't bother to update software. Everybody thinks that it's ok if a phone breaks apart and is broken if it ever falls down (typical e71-owners wouldn't even check the phone for damage when it fell down).

So I got myself a "Samsung Galaxy XCover 3 VE" (instead of "VE" it might also be described as "(2016)". It came with Android 6.0.1, which means it will be up-to-date for a little while. I'm trying not to think about all the security holes that are already announced for that platform and duly ignored by providers and handset makers. It's a phone that is slightly waterproof (IP67 IIRC), dustproof, and "should" even survive a little bit of falling down. Only experience can tell on that side.

First impressions: It works. The cameras is better than the one from the e71, but not by a huge margin. Good enough for pics to put on the web when out cycling. Using it is ok. Response time in the UI are really ok. The screen resolution is not great, but good enough for the current state of my eyes (I wouldn't see more on an ultra high resolution screen). Battery time is not in the same league as the e71, but I guess good enough. I'm very stringent about shutting things like bluetooth down and dow't use much (same as on the old phone). The e71 clearly was a phone where "phone things" were much easier accessible.

There is this saying about war, that says it makes difficult things easy, and simple things complicated (or something like that). That's the impression I have about Android. Install a VoIP client? Easy peasy. Open the phone to make a simple phone call to someone in your address book? Takes about 10 steps more than on the Nokia. Put pictures from the camera straight into Strava using the client, childs play. Get your pictures from your phone to the computer that sits 30cm next to it? Ah well, you could do it this way but..., and you could do it that way, but... but in the end it was designed to just hand over your stuff to Google or some other "cloud" thing. Which I obviously don't do.

And there is an app for everything(TM). But that app is quite likely trying to display annoying ads or is crippled in some other way. On the Symbian platform there was none of the ad bullshit really, but there were the crippled apps too. The symbian app selection was smaller, that just meant that you had less "sifting through all the garbage" to do.

Verdict: For now, it will do. It won't last as long as the last one, and it makes some simple stuff complicated. The rest, time will tell.

Posted by betabug at 17:47 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
18 July 2016

//INRNG Supporter Jersey

A really nice jersey even in black
Black jersey in the shade of a hot day

For some time now I'm reading the //INRNG blog about pro cycling. One mark of how well done this blog is, is that from time to time people think it is a comercial cycling press website, and they demand more of this or more of that. Instead it's one man's hobby blog, with a bit of extra income by sponsors and... the sale of supporter jerseys, caps, and socks. So after my usual hesitating and back-and-forth, I decided to finally order a jersey and some caps. So here is what happened and how I like the jersey so far...

Continue reading "//INRNG Supporter Jersey"
Posted by betabug at 22:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 June 2016

Ride Slow to Get Fast?

No matter if it works, I like it
My shadow

There is this story in cycling that says that to get faster, you have to do some rides slower. The story goes that the main difference from amateur to pro cyclists training is that amateurs don't ride slow enough on their slow rides, and not hard enough on their hard rides. I'm not a trainer, and I can't give any scientific evidence on this. But I've tried it for a few weeks now. Here is what works for me now...

Continue reading "Ride Slow to Get Fast?"
Posted by betabug at 10:48 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

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