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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.


Posted by betabug at 22:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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.


Posted by betabug at 16:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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.


Posted by betabug at 15:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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!


Posted by betabug at 15:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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.


Posted by betabug at 09:51 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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.


Posted by betabug at 21:46 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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.


Posted by betabug at 12:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 June 2010

European Music Day Post without Information

Having had a good time though
Drummers Band at the Kerameikos in Athens

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".

Band playing at Klathmonos square, probably "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.


Posted by betabug at 10:25 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
22 June 2010

Advertising Everywhere

... rhymes to: "like they just don't care"
 
Personal ad on bus handlebar

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).


Posted by betabug at 15:33 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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"
Posted by betabug at 15:37 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
26 June 2010

Samstag

Erst mal ordentlich shoppen gehn
 
Alles klar für den Sommer mit automatischer Bewässerung.

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 Bewässerungsanlage besucht.


Posted by betabug at 18:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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!


Posted by betabug at 09:35 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)