09 June 2010
Sculptures by Vana Xenou
Sculpture Exhibition at the National Garden
These days the moment there is a sculpture exhibition taking place at
the National Garden (next to Syntagma Square) in Athens. The sculptures
are by Vana Xenou (Βάνα Ξένου). The exhibition will be there till some
time in August. When you enter the gardens from the entrance with the
palm trees on Amalias, next to the parliament, you can find some
information sheets. The sheets have a description in Greek and the
positions of the exhibits marked on a map of the park.
I always get lost in the National Garden. So after the 3rd time there,
I'm still not sure I've seen all of the sculptures. There are some that
I like very much, that really work well in the surroundings. There are
others that speak less to me, as is expected with any collection of art pieces.
The first times there, I've taken some "notes" (fast pictures taken with
my mobile phone) and today after work I carried the Arca-Swiss there.
I took one picture of one of the sculptures. No need to hurry, this is
large format photography. Also I was a bit tired after working all day,
also expected. I'm sure I'll go back and take some more slow pictures.
10 June 2010
Bus Line 400 at Final Stop
Public Sightseeing Bus line stopped due to "lack of demand"
Saw this in the newsletter of the German newspaper for Athens, verified it according to a press release on the site of OASA. Apparently the public bus system "sightseeing bus line 400" was stopped on the first of June 2010, due to "not enough demand". I took this bus for a test-ride in 2006 and liked the concept. Back then, the bus was running in 30 minute intervals.
Last years change to 1 hour intervals probably didn't make the service more interesting. The bus concept really was made for an almost spontaneous concept of a sightseeing tour: get on the bus and visit all the major scenes in your own rhythm. With 1 hour intervals, you'd have to time things much more careful. But anyway, that's the past now.
11 June 2010
Politikern in die Suppe gespuckt
Ein Ausdruck der Stimmung im Land
Letzten Freitag gab Maria Farantouri zusammen mit dem Saxophonisten
Charles Lloyd ein Konzert im Herodion. Als der Komponist Mikis
Theodorakis das antike Herodion betrat, applaudierten die Zuschauer.
Wenig später trat Premierminister Jorgos Papandreou mit seiner Frau
ein und Frau Farantouri begrüsste ihn übers Mikrophon. Woraufhin
Papandreou von den Zuhörern ausgebuht wurde. Darüber berichtete der
Radiosender Skai in einer Lifesendung, noch während des Konzerts.
Jetzt muss man da verstehen, dass das
Herodion ein antiker "Musikpalast" ist und als solcher eine unglaublich
gute Akustik hat. Wenn man da in der fünftletzten Reihe mit dem Nachbarn
spricht, da können das die Leute in der untersten Reihe hören. Spricht
man in gehobener Zimmerlautstärke, verstehen sie was man sagt. Ich habe
erlebt, wie das gesamte Herodion einem Störenfried in einer Stimme
"Schnauze!" zugerufen hat... das kracht.
Ende April (laut Stefanos Kasimatis von der "Kathimerini", gefunden in
einer Kolumne in "Ta Nea") sass der ehemalige Premier
Kostas Karamanlis im Restaurant "17" und ass Fisch. Eine Frau von
einem entfernten Tisch erkennt ihn, steht auf, geht zu ihm hin und ruft
ihm ins Gesicht: "Ich spuck auf dich! Alles was du kannst ist fressen!"
("Φτου σου! Μόνο να τρως ξέρεις!")
Sie setzt sich wieder. Karamanlis schaut sie nicht an, läuft rot an,
zahlt und geht innert Minuten.
Aus der gleichen Quelle und dem gleichen Zeitraum: Der ehemalige
Finanzminister Alogoskoufis geht mit Freunden ins Restaurant
"Tilemachos" in Kifisia. Zwei Stammkunden greifen ihn verbal an. Sie
sind so aggressiv und beharrlich, dass der Ex-Minister sich aufmacht und
das Lokal samt Begleittrupp verlässt.
Interessant ist dabei auch, dass die Zeitung Ta Nea wohl die Geschichten
von den beiden Nea Dimokratia Politikern im Restaurant aufgriff und
genüsslichst wiedergab. In ihrem Bericht über Papandreou am Konzert der Farantouri
schreibt Ta Nea, dass bei der Begrüssung von Papandreou "Applaus aber
auch ein paar Buh-Rufe" zu hören waren. So kann man das als parteitreues
Organ natürlich auch schönreden. Es gibt in Griechenland eben keine
unabhängige Presse. Auch in allen Fernsehberichten (ob staatlich oder
privat) war vom Buh-Konzert nichts zu erfahren. Die Journaille ist sich
nicht zu schade, den Politkern immer noch die Stiefel zu lecken, auch
nach allem, was passiert ist.
Diese Anekdoten kursieren dafür umso freier von Mund zu Mund. In der Tat
wurde die Karamanlis-Geschichte mir so berichtet, dass die Frau
Karamanlis in den Teller gespuckt hat, statt
"Φτου σου" zu sagen (was "spuck auf dich" bedeutet, aber auch im Sinn
von "toi toi toi" verwendet wird). Von Alogoskoufis hingegen wird
erzählt, dass ihn die Gäste mit Salat beworfen haben. Darüber, welche
Version wahr ist, kann man nun trefflich philosophieren.
14 June 2010
Berlin Brides EP Out
... not that I have heard it yet
Back in April of 2009 I had stumbled on the Berlin Brides playing then
at the K44. Liked the sound, wrote about it. Now they inform me that
they have made their first recording, so they have an EP out ("Rejection
Junkie" and "Off The Rack" are on it).
Congratulations! No, I haven't heard the EP yet, so can't really write a
review. They also seem to have a new/renewed website too, which is a bit slow
for me here, but it gives some information, has nice pixx and videos!
15 June 2010
1'059'516.27 € für die Website des Parlaments
In related news: Der Online-Branche scheints gut zu gehen
Der Web-Branche scheints gut zu gehen: Laut einer Anfrage eines Parlamentariers der ultrarechten LAOS-Partei vom März 2010 und der Antwort des Parlaments-Präsidenten vom April 2010 hat die neue Website des Griechischen Parlaments 1'059'516.27 € gekostet. Diese neue Website wurde im Juni 2009 fertig gestellt. Darin entalten sind 48'197.38 € für Ausbildung der Webmaster und Seitenverwalter.
Bei diesen Preisen sollte ich dringend eine Firma für Webdesign aufmachen. Ich wusste ja gar nicht, dass sich das so sehr lohnt.
Fragen aufgeworfen hat auch der genaue Betrag, denn wofür stehen die 27 cents? Es gibt dafür zwei Theorien. Entweder ist es so, dass die Margen im Bereich Webdesign inzwischen so ausgehöhlt sind, dass sich die Ersteller-Firma genötigt sah, den Preis um 27 cents zu erhöhen, um wenigstens noch einen kleinen Gewinn schreiben zu können. Oder aber, die staatlichen Einkäufer haben es in harten Preisverhandlungen geschafft, den ursprünglichen Preis von 1'059'517 € um 73 cents herunterzuhandeln.
Update: Eine seriösere Frage habe ich dann doch noch. OK, wir wissen jetzt, wieviel Kohle da rausgeballert wurde. Aber die nächste, offensichtliche Frage wurde nicht gestellt und nicht beantwortet... wer hat dieses Geld erhalten? Wer hat sich da eine goldene Nase verdient? Ich hätte gerne einen Link mit dem ich mit dem Finger auf eine Firma zeigen könnte.
Update 2: Die Sitemap-Seite hat einen Hinweis: "created by greekgeeks". Die Firma "GREEK GEEKS S.A." sitzt in Holargos, einem Vorort von Athen. Namen find ich auf der Website grad keine.
17 June 2010
A Little Heat Wave
Combining some heat factors
This week we have some factors that play together to give us here in
Athens a first little heat wave for this year. First there is of course
the weater itself. It's sunny all over, with almost no wind. Then there
is some dust from the Sahara in the atmosphere. What little wind there
is, is coming from the south, bringing us hight humidity levels for what
we're used to. Then there's some human made stuff: The Metro (line 2 and
3, blue and red of the subway system) are on strike for two days now and
will be on strike tomorrow. This leads to an increase in traffic. Which
in turn leads to an increase in pollution. It only gets hotter. People
with breathing related problems are asked by the authorities "to take
care" or something.
Personally, I'm sitting outside on the terrace of my place. I get to
enjoy every little bit of wind and it doesn't feel all that stuffy like
it does inside. The inside of my place is another story. Since there is
only a concrete slab for a roof, no isolation whatsoever, the place gets
really hot. Well, I sit here outside and wait for the temperature of the
roof slab of concrete to come down a bit. It's actually warm to the
touch, not like an oven or a cooking plate, but like a heating radiator.
I do have an airconditioner now. It's an oldish affair though, that cost
me a bunch of money in electricity bills, when I tried to use it to heat
up the place in winter. I tried it out and it manages to cool the place
to acceptable levels, which means something at or a bit below 30ªC. One
early evening that I did that, I stopped it to get some lemonade. Came
back 5 minutes later to find the place as hot as it was before.
So my plan is more on a low tech way to get the place to acceptable
levels. When the concrete slab of a roof does not any more feel hot to
the touch, I declare the place fit to sleep in. I'm not too picky to
sleep in the heat, see? The plan: Two ventilators are pushing cool air
from the outside in. They are on the one side of the building, together
with the little bit of wind forming a draught through the structure. I
took the rubber hose that is there to water my 3 plants and threw some
water on the roof. Not too much, I don't want to waste any water, but
a few times a little bit to evaporate and shed some temperature in the
process. Then I wait and enjoy the breeze outside.
What I really miss is some kind of garden furniture sofa thing out
here. If I had that, I'd probably stay half the night out here too. The
traffic would die down a little bit more later, there are no noticeable
mosquitoes to disturb me, I'd probably doze off a bit too.
19 June 2010
Dance Dance Dance
A Book by Haruki Murakami
I like the books of Haruki Murakami and I have a bunch of them. When I went to the bookstop (see my list of english bookshops in Athens) to get something to read, I picked up Dance Dance Dance". When I started to read it, I got a strange feeling: there seemed to be something wrong, did I buy a book I already had? There was this talk about a hotel, sheep, a girlfriend with special ears. Weird feeling, but then Murakami's books are full of weird stuff. I went home to check.
Indeed there is "A wild sheep chase" with all those ingredients. But it's not the same book. "Dance Dance Dance" is something like the continuation of the sheep chase book. Since it isn't mentioned on the outside or in the book and since Murakami isn't the writer who does serial fiction, this took me by surprise. It's a good continuation though. I read it with great pleasure, then went back a week later to reread "sheep chase" and now I'm rereading "Dance Dance Dance".
Murakami is something of an author of the slightly surreal. Some of his books play to a great part in surreal or "unreal" worlds In most of them the world is almost normal, with just some moments of really weird things happening, while his best known book ("Norwegian Woods") plays in a world that is just plain normal - leaving aside that it's Japan, which for me and you probably isn't everyday's place.
"A wild sheep chase" and "Dance Dance Dance" are somewhere in the middle of that scale. Strange things happen. Most of it is the normal surrealism of daily life in the capitalist society of the 20th century. I like that mix. It keeps me on my toes. Hey, there are people here who claim that some strange rock pillars in the Hymittos hills here are a portal to other worlds. So why shouldn't these things be in books too? (And no, this is no science fiction.)
So, conclusion: "Dance Dance Dance" is very enjoyable. I like reading it again. I like it to spin on the story of the sheep chase. It made me remember all kinds of weird stories from the first read that I discover again on the 2nd read. Recommended.
21 June 2010
European Music Day Post without Information
Having had a good time though
These days there's the European Music Day (or rather: Days) spectacle going on in Athens. Free concerts on the squares of Athens. Yesterday evening there was very good weather to go along with it too. Just a little bit cooled down from last weeks 40ºC down to something like 32ºC. We went first to Klathmonos square (smack in the center of Athens, next to Panepistimio station). There we heard a band playing something like rockpopping, english inspired band music. They were obviously from Greece, but not having the program with us, we had no idea who they were.
They did play to my liking though. Sure, the slower, more ballad like songs were not made to keep the small crowd of listeners grooving around, but the more rocky songs, the ones where the singer was screaming it out, kept us rocking. There was a huge black guy right in the front of the stage who was dancing it out by himself. There were various other people in the audience dancing along too. I had a look at the program today and it seems likely that we listened to the "Travel Mind Syndrome".
We went on to Gazi, since the program had something about Funk/Jazz there. When we arrived at Kerameikos station and walked in direction of the Gazi, we heard some drums from one of the newly made park areas there. We stopped by and noticed a huge drum playing band, brazilian style, just starting to drum it out. We stayed around and enjoyed the drumming and the show as they also made some dance-like steps and overall had a good time themselves.
Then we went on to the concert at the Gazi. There was some pop band playing, nothing that interested us. Or much anybody, as there weren't that many listeners either. We returned to the drummers where by now the crowd was bigger than at the official concert. Hey, the groove was much better. There were a lot of people now, kids playing and dancing along with the drummers, older people dancing. We stuck around for some time, then went home for a nice sleep in the now a little bit cooler nights. Overall we'd listened to three bands, not knowing any of their names, but we had a good time.
22 June 2010
... rhymes to: "like they just don't care"
Man, advertising sometimes is everywhere. Go on the web with someone who hasn't seen the web before (ok, hard to find these days) and you have to explain to them that, "those flashing colorful things? that's just advertising, just ignore it". It's the real life equivalent of those adverts on the handlebar things in the bus. Come on, advertising everywhere?
Well, this morning, while coming back from the national garden to take another picture of a sculpture from Vana Xenou at the exhibition there, I saw this gem. The usual teen graffiti brought to all new heights and somehow an unintentional good remark on putting ads everywhere. It's been there for some time if we can trust the date in there (click the image for a slightly larger size).
23 June 2010
Running Python's subprocess.Popen with a timeout from within Zope
Yupp, sometimes enough is not enough
There are moments when you go outside the world of Python to run something
on the command line in a shell. Python's subprocess module makes this doable. Run enough processes on the shell and sure enough, some of them will get stuck. This can spoil your and your users day and should be caught by robust programming practices.
A timeout is one such robustness solution. But subprocess.Popen doesn't have an option for a that, even though Guido van Rossum suggested to add a timeout option to it in 2005. There are a couple of suggestions for
crafting such a thing in, some more complicated, some less, some extra
complicated for working in Windows, some not. I did not have the Windows
requirement here, but I ran into another stumbling block.
One of the simplest solutions seems to have been to use the signal
module to send a timed SIGALRM to itself. Unfortunately signals in
python can be only received in the main thread. That makes the signal solution
solution not work in Zope. With some help from Marius Gedminas on #zope, I
came up with another solution. I've used threading to spin of a
"watchdog" thread that will kill my potentially stuck subprocess
after a timeout. Meanwhile, if the main thread finds that the
subprocess finished normally, it can cancel out the watchdog. There's
even a flag that will be set so the main thread knows if there's
been success or a kill...
Continue reading "Running Python's subprocess.Popen with a timeout from within Zope"
26 June 2010
Erst mal ordentlich shoppen gehn
Samstage in Athen haben für mich immer eine besondere Stimmung. Das
fängt schon mal mit so einfachen Sachen an, wie Busfahren. Ein Bus von
Ano Glyfada zur Metro Agios Dimitrios braucht morgens im Berufsverkehr schon
mal eine Stunde. Am Samstag schafft er es in 20 Minuten. Einen Sitzplatz
findet man dann auch. In der Metro spürt man dafür wieder die grösseren
Abstände zwischen den Zügen, aber Samstags scheint mir das warten nicht
so viel auszumachen.
Einigermassen eilig hatte ich es schon. Ich wollte mir nämlich so eine
automatische Bewässerung für meine paar Pflanzen zu tun. Alles klar für
den Sommer und so. Ein Freund hatte mir da in einem bestimmten Laden ein
bestimmtes Gerät empfohlen. Nur sind die Öffnungszeiten von dem Laden
nicht mit meinen Arbeitszeiten kompatibel, die haben nämlich nie abends
auf. Also Samstags hin. Hab auch wirklich alles bekommen, was ich
brauchte und heut nachmittag eingerichtet.
Ansonsten hab ich mich unter die Shopper geworfen. Im Zentrum Bücher
gekauft und einen Rotfilter. Geld ausgeben, Geld ausgeben! Das hab ich
schon länger nicht mehr gemacht, denn bewusst und/oder unbewusst habe
ich meine Ausgaben in letzter Zeit extrem runtergefahren. Die anderen
Shopper hatten auch diese Samstags-Stimmung. Und natürlich Taschen und
Taschen voller Zeugs. Egal wie mies es wirtschaftlich geht, es gibt
immer noch Leute, die einkaufen gehen.
Die Ladenbesitzer hab ich trotzdem nicht nach der Stimmung gefragt, mein
Bedarf mir das Gejammer anzuhören ist nicht allzu gross. Dafür hab ich
den Nachmittag zuhause genossen und stolz von Zeit zu Zeit meine tolle, neue
29 June 2010
Starting the Week on Naxos
Enjoying simple things
On Sunday we arrived on Naxos. The ship left Pireus at 7:25 in the morning, combine that with the taverna behind my place hosting some kind of birthday party and some neighbors down the street having a party too. I was kind of sleepy when we arrived in the house. Lucky for us, we had to do only very little cleanup, since the house hasn't been empty for a full year, only for three months.
In town we had bought some bread, butter, cheese and tomatoes. We had a good, simple lunch of that, then crashed for a well deserved siesta. The point of really arriving.
Sunday and monday had lots of impressive cloud formations all day. The elements were putting on a show. By late afternoon the clouds started to disappear and a blue sky took over.
Monday morning I started work. I'm dividing my time between thinking ahead, planning for some new and revamped projects... and making small changes and cleanups in existing code. I get a bit tired to just "think around" all the time, so after a while I want to do something as simple as finding commented out code, deleting it and committing the changes to the repository. It also makes me read through the code, which is good for planning to make bigger changes.
Sunday evening I took one picture from the veranda of the house. But I was still so sleepy, that I noticed afterwards that I had failed to reset the camera prior to starting. That way, the result will be more a matter of luck. On Monday evening I went and took a picture of a nearby church. I didn't have much time, because we were invited for drinks by friends. Now that is a way to start the week!