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14 February 2008

How an Earthquake Looks Like On IRC

Life from the house of cards

This noon our office building shook for a long time (at least it felt long) again. Since the building is an oldish concrete and glass affair that will probably crumble like a house of cards on "the big one" (knock on wood here), all I did was to inform the gang on IRC:

12:11 < betabug> earthquake
12:11 < betabug> f* big eathquqke
12:11 < betabug> looooong f* big earthquake
12:12 < betabug> wow, that was scary

Magnitude was reported by USGS at first to be 7.3, now reduced to 6.7. Note how the time is given as "10:09:23 (UTC)". Considering we're UTC+2 (aka GMT+2 - unlike the times given on this weblog, which are GMT+1), and that there probably was a delay, there were tremors for around 2 minutes. They weren't too strong though. It felt like they shook the building in North-South direction.

Posted by betabug at 11:49 | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2008

Big City Catching Up

The cultural thing

One big advantage people usually give for living in a big city is that you have lots of choice in cultural events. It's all too true, but you have to get your ass up and actually go there. The last week or so I did. Here's a bit of catching up on it...

Last Friday evening we went to see and listen to Yiorgos Psihoyios play his Jazz "Love Obsession" at the Institut Française in Athens. I was there with company, some of which didn't like it and left early. Myself I loved it. Bought a CD and my flatmate bought the 2nd CD. Damn it, the concert was even free! Just walk in and enjoy world class Jazz, performed live by devoted musicians.

On Saturday I didn't do much, except read a book, slack, and clean the house. Probably I lamented my personal fate, cursed myself for not getting my ass up to do all the things I want to in my private projects, but wtf, there has to be a time to relax and gather strength again.

Karagiosis (dressed as carnival director) with band

Sunday on the other hand started with a performance of Greek shadow theater Karagiosis, which I went to see at the Plaka, together with good friends. They played "The Carnival of Karagiosis", not one of the traditional plays, but fun none the less. The picture shows Karagiosis dressed as carnival director, with the band performing the ending "kalamatianos". Went to enjoy the good weather (such a relief after all the cold and snow) in a cafeteria in Thision afterwards. Tout Athènes had the same idea of course.

On Tuesday I met the International Pizza gang at the ouzerie Lesvos in Exarheia. One of the unforgettable evenings with this bunch of most excellent friends and drinking buddies ensued. Of course going out with good friends and enjoying excellent food and drink can be had in a small town or village too, I don't say that.

There are reasons to stay in a small village too. I love that life myself. If you want to know why, instead of reading my lame articles, you have to head over to kassandra (who is lately silent, to my great despair) and read her wonderful piece The Village vs. The City.

Posted by betabug at 10:10 | Comments (0) | 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)
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

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)
05 April 2008

4 Years in Greece

An anniversary

Today is an anniversary for me. I'm here in Greece since four years now. It feels really strange to look back on all that time. Lots of things have changed. I have changed. This weblog doesn't go back all that time, but it goes back a large part of those years, so there is a lot of reminiscing looking through the pages. Yes, I plan to continue to stay here, for as long as it feels good to me.

Posted by betabug at 19:01 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
12 April 2008

First Rose

I'm such a fat-assed bastard
First rose on my balcony

Sometimes I don't get it. I have absolutely no knowledge about plants. When we moved into this apartment, there were some pots with green stuff on the balcony. I decided I won't let them dry out completely, so last summer I gave them water every day. During the winter time, my persistence faltered and they went often for a week without water. This spring I picked up giving them water more regularly again, also I read somewhere that ground coffee remains are good for them, so they got some of that. That's all I did, I probably deserve to end up with a couple of plastic pots with dust in them.

Instead I got? Today I discovered that we have our first rose this year. It's small and unspectacular, but incredibly beautiful to me and I seem to go looking at it a couple of times a day. I have some pics of last year's roses, but the new camera brings the flower out much better.

Well, if anybody around wants to look at my plants and give me some advice (or even help me out), feel free to send me a mail and drop by for a coffee and some green talk!

Posted by betabug at 17:36 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
19 April 2008

Zeit für Sonne

Immer wieder mal

Immer wieder um diese Jahreszeit scheine ich einen Post zu machen zum Thema "ach wie schön dass es Frühling ist, die Sonne rauskommt und es schon so schön warm ist". Endlich ist es auch dieses Jahr wieder so weit. Nach langen Tagen in denen es zwar schon wärmer war, aber ewigs bewölkt, scheint sich die Sonne jetzt entschlossen zu haben mal rauszukommen.

Vielleicht kann ich die Wintersachen jetzt ja endlich wegpacken. Heute war ich jedenfalls im T-Shirt einkaufen. Besseres Wetter macht auch mehr Lust einige meiner Projekte wieder anzupacken. Mal schauen.

Seit gestern kann ich zuhause ja anständig Musik hören, das macht dann vielleicht auch mehr Lust auf dem Sofa zu sitzen und was zu basteln.

Posted by betabug at 12:06 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 April 2008

Vier Jahre bin ich hier


Ja, wie schon berichtet, bin ich jetzt schon vier Jahre hier. Vor 2 Wochen war der Stichtag. In einem Kommentar bei dem Artikel und gestern wieder wurde ich gefragt, "ist die Zeit nicht schnell vergangen?". Ehrlich gesagt, nein, ist sie nicht. Es waren vier intensive Jahre, voll, randvoll gefüllt mit Dingen, die passiert sind, mit Gefühlen, Erlebnissen, Abenteuern, Leben halt. Wenn ich zurückdenke, kommen so viele Momente hoch. Intensiv, voll. Viel wichtiges ist passiert. Ich kann nicht behaupten, dass ich nichts bereue, oder dass ich nichts falsch gemacht hätte, aber hier bin ich jetzt und werde mit dem weiterleben was ich jetzt bin und was ich jetzt als Resultat meiner Handlungen habe.

Posted by betabug at 12:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 May 2008

Test Run The End of Civilization (Part II)

Or is it a "dry run"?
Sign on gas pump in Athens: No more unleaded

Other countries may have fire drills or even earth quake drills, we can top them. We run drills for the end of civilization. How would that end look like? We're not exactly sure, so we're testing for different possibilities. Last time we tested for the "we will be drowning out in our own garbage" scenario. This time it's something more fashionable: The "there will be no more gasoline to drive our cars" case study.

So, what happened really (in case you're not living here)... the truck drivers and especially the fuel truck drivers are on strike. They do not transport gas to gas stations any more (already a few days now) and they block transports from the refineries. The result so far is that the online news reported yesterday evening already 90% of the country's gas stations having run out of juice.

The picture shows a sign saying "unleaded finished". Riding the bus, I passed another gas station that had a bit of juice still, with a long line of cars and people arguing - unfortunately I spotted it too late to snap a pic.

Since I have become such an eco nut (aka "pedestrian") and anti-car fetishist (not having one any more, still ogling every 2CV that comes along), I can only cheer at the promise of the traffic reduction. Give me air to breathe and roads to walk upon! Today it's hard to tell if there is anything noticeable out of it. It certainly feels like a bit less traffic, but since today the taxi drivers are on strike too and there are about 2 millions of taxis on Athens' streets, what's what's effect?

What are all these strikes about? According to the online papers, the truck drivers demand a 15% rise in their dues, because due to rising gas prices their expenses have skyrocketed. The ministry offered them 5%. Same goes for the taxi drivers btw, they will get 5% and demand 15%.

Wow, 15%. Do you know how to spell inflation? When we still had the drachma, this kind of thing was normal, I mean I have lived through 17% (official) inflation back then. But now we have a stable currency, the Euro. We shouldn't have such games. If everything else goes up, then everything else has to go up too, the result is more inflation. Watch out, Euro countries, we're gonna give it to you too!

Of course this inflation is partially imported: We're paying for the fancy wars of the Americans (heck, didn't these guys ever read Sun Tsu? every war leads to inflation, prolonged wars lead to totally f* up gross inflation).

Another part of the inflation is definitely home made: The productive result of the Greek economy is just too small. Shoveling EU money into the country is just going to make the rich nomenclatura richer, it's not going to change anything in respect to real wealth being produced. Already tired of my armchair economics talk? It's all part of the exercise! Hooking up a wood stove gas generator to the company car is next.

Posted by betabug at 08:55 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
19 May 2008

Surprise! Surprise!

Damn, it's good to have such friends
Nicely wrapped up present with card

Some days it's really good to have crazy friends like my friend saad - who just had the crazy idea to order me some t-shirts from half across Europe. What a surprise when a notification for a packet (to be picked up at post office) arrived here on Friday. This morning I dutifully showed up at the post office and got hold of this brown box. At first I thought it was really crazy that someone ordered something from Amazon for me, but then I ripped the thing open, saw the gift wrapping and a card that identified the stuff not as books, but indeed at t-shirts from La Fraise.

As the post office business was done unusually fast, I was early for ork, so I stopped in a park, unpacked everything and took pixx. Let's see, there's the actual box, me cutting the cord, a first glimpse at the shirts... and the actual shirts themselves unfold. Thank you saadz0r!

Posted by betabug at 10:06 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
25 May 2008


Was will mir das sagen?

Beim Gemüsehändler gibt es echte Tomaten.

Dann noch zum Thema Gemüsehändler: Ich kann die eben dort gekauften Aprikosen riechen, obwohl sie auf der anderen Seite des Tisches stehen.

Ich muss mich um zuschlagende Türen kümmern, weil immer mehr offenstehende Fenster in der Wohnung Durchzug verursachen.

Der Sommer-Schlafsack, der immer noch im Eingangsraum rumliegt, erinnert mich nicht mehr daran, dass ich ihn wegräumen sollte, sondern daran, dass ich ihn in eine Reisetasche stecken will, um dann abzufahren und irgendwo an Deck eines Schiffes zu übernachten.

Mit einem Geschenk-Gutschein (noch von Weihnachten übrig geblieben) habe ich Strandtücher und eine Badehose gekauft - was besseres ist mir nicht eingefallen (obwohl ich jetzt schon vier Badehosen besitze).

Posted by betabug at 13:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 June 2008

Fussball und Regen

Regen verwandelt die Syggrou in Athen in eine Schmierseifenbahn

Es ist Europameisterschaft im Fussball: In Athen laufen die Fernseher. Ich selber interessiere mich ja nicht wirklich für Fussball, aber ich hab mich mal erkundigt, was die Leute so denken. Schliesslich ist Griechenland vor vier Jahren Europameister geworden, gerade so als ich hier angekommen war. Was sagen die Experten? Also während Christos (Bürokollege) der festen Überzeugung ist, dass Griechenland beim Euro 08 ganz gross mitspielen wird, ist Stavros (vom Gemüseladen in der Nachbarschaft) nicht so überzeugt.

Christos findet, dass eigentlich nur die russische Mannschaft eine Gefahr darstellt, während Stavros sich bei der ganzen Gruppe lieber nicht zu viel Hoffnungen macht. Christos: "Wir kriegen das schon hin" - Stavros: "Was solls, wir werden ein paar Wochen Spass vor dem Fernseher haben, nicht so ernst nehmen." Das klingt doch ganz brauchbar.

Heut hats dann noch geregnet, was in nördlichen Gefilden vielleicht normal ist. Hier hingegen ist Sommer und im Sommer regnet es in Athen eigentlich nicht - oder nur in Ausnahmefällen wie heute. Das Resultat ist, dass sich die Strassen mit allem angesammelten Staub, Dreck und Reifenabrieb in Schmierseifenbahnen verwandeln. Auf dem Foto ist das ganz hübsch zu sehen.

Posted by betabug at 22:25 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
24 June 2008

Θα τους το δώσουν;

Πέρι της ελβετικής "Landsgemeinde"

Συζήτηση με τον Πάνο για το Ελβετικό παλαιό σύστημα της Landsgemeinde. Εκεί πάνε όλοι οι πολίτες μιας κοινότητας να ψηφίζουν κάποια ζητήματα σηκώνοντας (ή μη σηκώνοντας) τα χέρια τους. Σε ένα μέρος (το Appenzell, γνωστό για ένα τυρί με πολύ δυνατή γεύση) είχαν σταματήσει να ψηφίζουν έτσι, αλλά τώρα θέλουν το παλαιό σύστημα πίσω.

Ρωτάει ο Πάνος: "και τι θα γίνει; θα τους το δώσουν;" Σε αυτό το σημείο με πιάσανε τα γέλια: "πολύ Έλληνας είσαι... αν θέλει η πλειοψηφία, όλα γίνονται, η ερώτηση είναι 'θα θέλουν να το πάρουν πίσω;'" Απαντάει ο Πάνος: "βλέπεις, εδώ η αντίληψη είναι ότι δεν υπάρχει 'δικό μας' και 'όχι δικό μας', εδώ εκλαμβάνουμε ότι οι πολιτικοί μας το παίρνουν και δεν πρόκειται να μας το δώσουν". Τι να πεις, δίκιο έχει και σταματάνε τα γέλια.

Posted by betabug at 10:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 July 2008

No Phones, no net

Don't take things for granted

Since yesterday noon our company's office is left without phone and Internet service. We have a setup with two phone providers, so we have some kind of fail over capability. But yesterday the regional telecoms center "Ippodromos" in southern Athens went down and now both phone providers are unable to provide service. As for Internet: we have a 3G USB modem, which serves as a minimal life line.

It's quite strange for a company to be left off the Internet, especially for a company like ours, where almost all customer communication is done via the Internet. The proofs that normally get commented upon by the customers in our extranet approvals system either have to wait, or else I have to send them manually through that tiny 3G keyhole. Customers then call us on our mobile numbers to discuss things.

The result is that I spend half my time sending mail for other people. Interesting enough, I still manage to write some code in between. (Technical aside: The ability of darcs to work without all kind of net access - e.g. small things like relying on name servers - is a major advantage right now.)

How long will the failure persist? We don't know. ΟΤΕ tells us "it could be fixed in one hour, but it could also be tomorrow". Oh yeah, same thing they told us yesterday. The name of the installation, "Ippodromos" (ιππόδρομος), means "horse racing track"... thinking of it, the "customer support rep" at OTE should have told us: "Hey if you didn't have good luck betting on the ippodromos today, maybe tomorrow you win!"

Posted by betabug at 13:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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