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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)
02 July 2008

Back in the world of communication

Hello World

After 36 hours ΟΤΕ (OTE, the quasi-monopolist state telecoms giant here in Greece) managed to restore service in the telecoms center in the area of my employers office. Somewhere after midnight this morning our servers were reachable again and our phones could have been ringing. Until then, for one and a half business days we were functioning on a very minimal communications set.

Posted by betabug at 16:34 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
12 July 2008


Grüsse aus der Antike

Hier sitze ich mit Freunden, im antiken Theater von Epidaurus. Auf dem Weg aus Athen waren wir baden, haben gegessen, jetzt sitzen wir auf den 2500 Jahre alten Rängen und warten, dass die Sonne untergeht und die Vorstellung anfängt.

Die Sitzreihen sind aus Stein, ohne Kissen wohlgemerkt. Geübte Festivalgäste bringen Kissen mit. Ich werde mir mit dem Badetuch behelfen.

Gegeben werden die "Frösche" von Aristophanes, allerdings in moderner Ausgabe Βατρα-Χ, sozusagen die "Frog-X".

Posted by betabug at 19:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 August 2008

Work in an empty city

Back in Athens

Came back yesterday morning from Paris. As I had to get up at 3:30 to catch my flight, I'm still a bit groggy. Coming back from Paris to Athens, at this time of year is... interesting. Athens is not as hot as last year, but still the warmth enveloped me in a big welcome hug. In Paris the weather wasn't that bad (for Paris' standard), but it changed a lot. I'm not used to that any more, so I had even catched a cold.

Today I go back to work. The city was still pretty empty yesterday, our neighborhood very quiet. I don't think this will turn out a very hectic day, I'd predict more of a quietly going through the to-dos and planning next stages day. Oh, and maybe some "getting back in touch" with the code - it's been 4 weeks that I haven't looked at the code at work (or really any code), so maybe I need some warm up there too.

Posted by betabug at 08:29 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
27 August 2008


Eins, zwei, eins, zwei!

Ronald Reagan soll angeblich mal gesagt haben: "Wer morgens kalt duscht, der lügt auch sonst." Das Zitat habe ich auch mit mehrmals suchen nie belegen können, aber statt kalt duschen fröne ich deshalb auch lieber meiner morgendlichen Gymnastik. Der Tag fängt einfach besser an, wenn man sich nach dem Aufstehen etwas bewegt. Manchmal sage ich mir: heut hab ich keine Lust auf Frühsport... um dann zu merken dass ich schon Lust auf Sport hätte, aber einfach nur zu faul bin. Ist alles eine Frage der Selbstüberredung.

Als Minimal-Programm mache ich ein paar einfache Stretching-Übungen. Das ist schon deswegen einfach, weil ich morgens eh das Bedürfnis habe mich zu recken und zu strecken. Wenn die Energie dann noch reicht gibts schwerere Bewegung mit 5kg Hanteln und vielleicht sogar ein paar Situps. Im Sommer fällt mir das immer sehr schwer, denn wenn die Temperatur morgens schon bei knapp 30 Grad liegt wirds mir da einfach zu warm. Momentan gehts, weil es nachts nicht ganz so heiss ist. Danach gleich unter die Dusche... aber lieber heiss als kalt.

Posted by betabug at 09:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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