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02 March 2008

Foody Weekend

Food is always good

This weekend had an interesting twist on the usual food-centric current phase of my life. Where I had planned to spend the Saturday evening at home looking after an old project of mine, soaking up some calories only from a souvlaki from the shop up the street, all of a sudden graffic appeared online and... one thing led to another, he came over to my place an hour later, ready to cook us a true tortilla (aka spanish omelette). By that time FF with company had arrived too, coming home from traveling for 2 weeks, so there we went, with company and storytelling.

I love graffic's tortilla. It's amazing how something that consists only of potatoes, eggs, and onions can taste so delicate. It was past midnight when he got it ready, but none of us had a problem to eat so late.

This noon most of the usual gang went to the Greek Restaurant Papayanni - one of my favorites close by. The meat stuff there is fantastic, a simple bifteki is getting a whole new dimension. We also enjoyed the nice weather, eating at a table on the sidewalk.

Posted by betabug at 20:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 March 2008

A Printer To Plug In

Brother HL-2030

This evening I bought a printer. I believe it's the third printer I bought in all my life. I'm not the kind of guy who prints out a lot of stuff, I value my trees. But lately I thought very much about reviving an old project of mine, which will involve going through some texts, making revisions. A job that is done much better on paper than on screen. When I saw how cheap laser printers have become, I nearly fell off my chair. 100 Euros for a laser printer? wtf?

Well, what can I say now? I've got a brand new Brother HL-2030 at home. It has a USB connection (I'm used to networked printers, but this is fine for my single computer). It prints quite nice, has space for 250 pages, doesn't make a lot of noise. It also gets disconnected from the electricity plug when not in use, no standby power for me please.

FF nearly fell over when he watched me switch it on for the very first time, then connect the MacBook, and without installing anything, just do the first printout. The Mac picked up the printer model right away and apparently the printer description came with the OS. I had to change the default paper size to be A4, that's all. FF's laptop has "Vista", so there would be a special CD for him, together with an extra booklet (apart from the normal Windows setup booklet). To imagine that when he shopped for a computer they told him not to buy a Mac, because it would be difficult to find a matching printer.

Posted by betabug at 21:22 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
04 March 2008

Dynamite... no water

Bum bum bum bum

Apparently last night some people placed some dynamite outside a nightclub and the resulting explosion damaged a big water pipe (amongst other things, for example it took out the local tax authority office for a day). This noon at the office we have no water, looks like they had to cut the water to the area to make the necessary repairs.

According to the news report it was some settlement of bills between a couple of bigwits in the night business.

Posted by betabug at 13:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 March 2008

Eat Simple

Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Mozzarella and a sauce of fresh tomatoes

On my way home yesterday evening I passed by a supermarket further away from our area and there I found some Mozzarella di Bufala. Imagining that it would be expensive, I took just one of these and two "normal" Mozzarella. (Mistake: The price difference is minimal and the taste much better.) Went home and motivated FF to make us some special pasta using his expert Italian pastah mastah skillz.

Which he did... cutting the Mozzarella in small pieces. Boiling over (to peel) 2 ripe tomatoes, cutting them in small pieces too (in a separate bowl, see pic). Seasoning the tomato sauce to be with a bit of salt, a little bit of fresh garlic, capers, some oregano, olive oil. Then stowing the sauce a short while in the freezer. At the same time cooking the pasta (Rigatoni) al dente. When the pasta were done, bringing them into a big bowl, mixing in first the tomato sauce, then the mozzarella.

A very simple recipe, a very excellent food that is usually served in summer. The tomatoes were of course out of season, but us being in Greece they still had enough taste. Mjam.

Posted by betabug at 09:37 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
06 March 2008

Auf dem Schiff


Das Aussichtsdeck am Heck liegt leer wie erwartet, die verschraubten Plastikstühle und Tische feucht von der Kühle der Nacht über der Ladefläche. Konstantin geht weiter seinen Weg auf der anderen Seite des Schiffs Richtung Bug. Sein alter Freund Stanley Lamb hatte ihn gebeten, den Techniker zu begleiten. Und vielleicht ein Auge auf ihn zu haben, Beide hatten sich angewöhnt, nicht immer alles auszusprechen. Vor vielen Jahren waren sich in den Büros eines grossen Zeitungsverlages zwei junge Männer begegnet. Bede verschieden in Herkunft und Ausbildung, doch beide mussten sich in der von den älteren Verlagsmitarbeitern dominierten Umgebung zurechtfinden und behaupten.

Durch das matte Glas in der Tür ist nicht viel zu erkennen, aber auf dem Schild steht: "Für Passagiere kein Zutritt". Er greift nach der Türklinke und grüsst beim Betreten der Crewmesse freundlich. Zu essen gibt es eine dicke Suppe, Weissbrot und Käse. Der Käse ist so hart, dass Konstantin ihn mehr abbricht als schneidet. Um diese Zeit der Nacht werden die Mahlzeiten einfacher. Die Seeleute sind mit Essen beschäftigt, lassen Konstantin in Ruhe. Die Fragen nach den neuesten Ereignissen, von denen der Reporter berichten kann, wurden schon abends gestellt. "Der Junge?", fragt der Koch. Konstantin schüttelt den Kopf, nimmt noch einen Löffel Suppe. "Er schläft. Lass ihn schlafen." Der Koch kaut selber an Käse und Brot, er fragt nicht nach. Um diese Zeit der Nacht ist man dankbar für jeden, den man schlafen lassen kann. Das Neonlicht ist hart und kalt in der Messe.

Posted by betabug at 09:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
07 March 2008

Eat With Friends

Chicken curry with slices of bananas and oranges

Why do I lately derive so much joy from sitting together with friends at a table and eating? It's more than the sum of the food (yesterday it was very good) and talking about important and not so important things with nice people. Somehow the result ends up being more than the parts.

Yesterday CFG cooked us a curry recipe she has from her grandmother. Chicken curry, with rice, slices of banana and oranges. The chicken was delicious and the sauce and fruits rounded it out totally. It's also a food that you can look at and enjoy visually. Not everybody was used to eating fruit with the main dishes, but they got convinced pretty fast.

As for the visual side: Lately my camera is full of food pictures and pictures of people eating, drinking, and talking. This seems to be a major part of my current life. I like taking those food pictures, but on the technical side I should either get me a tripod or a strong lamp (with a big reflector for soft light). With the low light situation most shots are unsharp with camera movement. I usually take a variant with the camera's flash, but those pixx get discarded almost immediately. I prefer shaky shots with atmosphere over clean but flat flash pix.

Posted by betabug at 09:27 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 March 2008

Gedanken unterwegs

Sternschnuppen, nur ohne Sternschnuppen

Wenn ich irgendwo Gelegenheit habe, den Nachthimmel zu sehen, halte ich gern Ausschauh nach Sternschnuppen. Wenn man eine sieht, darf man sich was wünschen. Praktisch. Lange Zeit wusste ich nie, was ich mir wünschen sollte. Zwar nicht total wunschlos glücklich, aber viele Wünsche erfüllte ich mir selbst und was richtiges sollte es ja schon sein. Dann ist die Sternschnuppe schnell vorbei.

In letzter Zeit hätt ich wieder mal ein paar Wünsche anzubringen. Für mich und für Menschen, die mir Nahe stehen. Leider sitze ich im Bus aus Patras nach Hause (steckt mehr oder weniger im Stau) und der Sternenhimmel ist nicht zu sehen. Ob ich dann schnell genug wär, wüsst ich auch nicht.

Ich würd übrigens nicht versuchen zu viel zwischen den Zeilen zu lesen, das wird eh nix. Einen, nicht all zu persönlichen, Wunsch kann ich verraten: Halbwegs zügig ankommen. :-)

Posted by betabug at 20:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 March 2008

Work From Sofa

There's a strike for a reason

Today the Metro is on strike. I go to work by bus, but likely due to the demonstrations in the center of Athens, there was no bus for me. Usually when this happens, it's because my bus must traverse the center of the city and when all the buses get caught up "on the other side", nothing moves. I waited for some time, then decided the "ταλαιπωρία" (stress, trouble) wasn't worth it and I might as well work from home.

BTW, these strikes are there for a reason. The situation with the pension funds is really bad. So I won't complain about the reasons for the strike. I might voice some ambivalences about the usefulness of strikes in this situation, but only in a low voice. There isn't much else people can do to make themselves heard.

Anyway, I can be productive on the sofa too. The macbooks screen isn't as big as the cinema display at work, but the machine is nice and fast and the network connection to the office lets me access all the files I need.

Posted by betabug at 11:24 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
17 March 2008

Happy 1 Year American In Athens!

A salute to great work by Kat

Today with a post simply called One, Kat from American in Athens celebrated one year of that most useful blog. When I saw the post, I honestly couldn't believe that it's been only one year. There is so much useful information on her weblog, that I had assumed it to have been around for a much longer time.

"American in Athens" is filled with posts providing information to people living here, wanting to live here, or simply curious about what's it like to live here. There are also personal stories from the life of Kat, something I find quite touching and interesting - but I sometimes get a shiver about revealing so much (I might be revealing almost as much between the lines sometimes, just not noticing it myself so much). There weren't so many people who said "Thank you!" in that time, which reminds me that it's always good to say an extra "Thank you Kat!" here. It's good to have you around!

Posted by betabug at 09:04 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

I Saw A Goddess On My Way To Work

Kids, you can't buy this in stores!
Citroën DS in the streets of Athens (Ilisia area)

Tor has this wonderful little series of picture posts he titles "on my way to work". Today I walked by this wonderful car... It's a Citroën DS (where the DS is pronounced like the French word Déesse, which means goddess).

It's one of the most wonderful cars in the world IMHO, and technically it was one of the most advanced cars ever made. On the day it was revealed at the Paris Auto Salon in 1955 (having been developed in total secrecy), 50 of them were sent to circulate on Paris' streets. Accidents happened as people were staring after this thing from the future.

Posted by betabug at 09:35 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
18 March 2008


Auf dem Weg rein

Noch tief in den Eingeweiden der Kathedrale bewegt sich Leon auf die andere Seite dieser Tür zu. Er verlässt den dunklen Raum hinter der Gasse, lässt leere Flaschen, leere Kartons und zwei Mopeds hinter sich. Im Gang blenden ihn Neonröhren. Sie sind taghell und doch wirkt der Gang düster. Auf allen Oberflächen klebt eine gelbliche Schicht aus Fett und Dreck. Die Luft ist abgestanden und schmeckt flach. Er geht an der Spülküche vorbei, riecht faulige Zitronen und weggeschütteten Alkohol. Die Spülmaschinen zischen und dampfen gegen das Rum-Dum-Dum der Soundanlage an. Zwei Office-Burschen schauen kurz auf, als er vorbeigeht, ein Moment des Wahrnehmens in einer Nacht voll gleicher Handgriffe. Dann laden und entladen sie weiter Gläser aus den Maschinen. Leon folgt dem Gang um die Ecke, geht auf die Tür zum Club zu. Die Tür kommt ihm entgegen, ein Abräumer mit einem Tablett voll leerer Gläser hastet herein. Leon drückt sich auf die Seite, zieht das Telefon aus der Tasche. Das Display sagt, dass der Anruf aus dem Büro kam. Leon beisst sich auf die Unterlippe, fühlt, wie das Blut aus seinem Kopf rauscht. Bevor ihm die Beine wegknicken, kann er sich gerade noch gegen eine Eiswürfel-Maschine lehnen. So schnell hätte er nicht damit gerechnet.

Posted by betabug at 09:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Patras Carnival 2008 Pictures

I was there
Costumed People on Patras Carnival 2008 Sidestreet

The carnival weekend (8./9.3.2008) I was in Patras, where the main event of Greek carnival is taking place. This year I wasn't taking part in the parade, wasn't even dressing up. Instead I had my camera with me and took some pictures. Filled up the camera's chip. I've selected a few of them and put them online in a little gallery, for you to get an impression.

So, just hop over and have a look at my Patras Carnival 2008 Pictures.

Posted by betabug at 16:07 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
20 March 2008

Status Report From Here

Maybe blogging is about this too

So we had strikes for the past 3 days or so (actually much longer, but these are the more noticeable ones). Maybe this blogging thing is about me writing about this too, not just my personal little stuff, so here are a few observations and views...

Continue reading "Status Report From Here"
Posted by betabug at 11:02 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
21 March 2008

Garbage Strike is Over

Will take some time to clean up though
Garbage truck returning to work in the streets of Athens

According to, the garbage strike has been over at midnight Thursday. Indeed I had seen a garbage truck near Akadimias shortly after midnight, but since there had been "emergency service" trucks picking up garbage outside schools and hospitals, I hadn't been too sure.

This morning on the way to work I saw another one (see pic) and already some cleaned up garbage containers. Cleaning up completely all the sprawl of Athens will take up to 2 weeks though. There is a lot of garbage in this city and new one is produced continuously.

As I had predicted to myself, the concept of blue recycling containers has been totally annihilated by the piles of rubbish. That's a shame, since "reduce the amount of garbage" is one lesson we should have learned from those (almost) 2 weeks.

Posted by betabug at 09:15 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
24 March 2008

Red Rain

Grey Sky
Red rain filtering the light on this picture of a church on Hydra

Over the weekend I was on Hydra, one of my beloved islands. On Saturday the weather was nice, but on Sunday it got cloudy with a warning of storm. The coming rain was said to bring red earth from the Sahara.

Continue reading "Red Rain"
Posted by betabug at 11:58 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
25 March 2008

Greek Independence Day

25th of March
Spectators at the parade for Greek Independence Day in Athens

Today is the 25th of March, the Greek Independence Day. Yesterday I had spent some time to find out at what time the parade will be. Curiously enough that information was almost impossible to find. For future reference: The parade starts at 11am. Why the parade? Well, I hadn't seen it in a while and CFG hadn't seen it ever, time to go and see some local customs. So we went there, on a sunny spring day.

Wow, there were a lot of people. Coming from the Metro station on Syntagma square it was really hard to find a place with a little view onto the street. Lots of shoving and pushing. When we had found something, we discovered that it was indeed sunny, it got hot really fast.

It took some more waiting time till things got to move. I really don't remember to have seen so many tanks, military trucks, etc. etc. at this parade in past years. Maybe it's my memory failing me, or maybe I faintly remember that in some years they had scaled down the showing of military muscles. We escaped the masses at Syntagma square and instead viewed a bit more of the parade near Panepistimio station.

At noon we got us another traditional custom for this day: Today people eat Μπακαλιάρο (Bakaliaro, in English: stockfish) with Σκορδαλιά (Skordalia, garlic puree). We got ours together with friends at Barbagiannis in Exarhia. Mjam, it was good! They had a lot of people there and almost everybody was eating Μπακαλιάρο.

Posted by betabug at 20:26 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
28 March 2008

Comments for IE6 disabled

Please use a different browser to leave your oppinion

The last few days I had a huge spamrun targetting my weblog. The attack is pretty stupid, no comments get past coreblog's defenses, but they generate a lot of traffic and confusion in the logs/stats. The botnets the spammers are using seems to be "fresh", so it's mostly not yet in the HoneyPotBL. I had started to block the IP addresses whenever I spotted them, but playing "whack a mole" with spammers gets boring real fast.

Stupid enough, the spammers are abusing the user agent string of IE6. I can't just block that, as still many people use this. But I can block this particular browser from doing POST requests on my server, returning a 403 error code. The requests are still there, but they eat up a lot less resources.

For how it's done on the technical side, read on...

Continue reading "Comments for IE6 disabled"
Posted by betabug at 12:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 March 2008

Το λιμάνι της Καλαμάτας

Στην Εθνική Πινακοθήκη
"To Limani tis Kalamatas", from Konstantinos Parthenis, at the National Gallery in Athens

Όταν ζεις σε ξένο μέρος, στην αρχή όλα είναι καινούρια. Όπου και να πας, σε κάθε βήμα βλέπεις κάτι για πρώτη φορά. Μετά από κάποιο καιρό σιγά σιγά ξαναβρίσκεσαι πράγματα. Τελικά αρχίζεις να ψάχνεις λιγότερα για καινούρια, αλλά πας να επισκεφτείς αυτά που σου αρέσανε πολύ την προηγούμενη φορά που τα είδες. Την Κυριακή ήμουν στην Εθνική Πινακοθήκη και είδα μερικά από τα έργα που μου αρέσουν πολύ.

Ένα από αυτά είναι το γνωστό "Λιμάνι της Καλαμάτας" του Κωνσταντίνου Παρθένη. Η φωτογραφία δεν το πιάνει. Όταν είμαι μπροστά του στην Πινακοθήκη χαλαρώνω, τα μάτια μου ανοίγουν και είμαι σε έναν άλλο καιρό, κάπου που είναι πάντα καλοκαίρι. Στον χρόνο αυτό όλος ο κόσμος γέμισε φως. Μπορεί να μην ήτανε έτσι τότε, μα ο καιρός αυτός περιλαμβάνεται μόνο εμένα και ό,τι είναι στο κάδρο.

Posted by betabug at 09:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)