Monday, July 31, 2006


A multi-blog tribute to the 2996 who perished on 9/11 is in need of more bloggers. Each blogger is assigned a victim to memorialize on 9/11 - without politics, without opinions, just in remembrance.

The call for more bloggers for this project is floating around the blogosphere right now. If you are willing to write a memorial, please sign up at the 2996 website. Right now they haven't even achieved half the number of bloggers needed to make the memorial a success.

Home is never too far away

For my husband's birthday, we went out with his brother and sister and ate at Ruby Tuesday's. We've eaten there a couple of times before, but we hadn't sit in the same area. Lo and behold, what did I see hanging on the back wall of the restaurant?

A Nashville Predators poster. How cool is that?

For what it's worth

Does anything else matter when children are dying? How can the one who dropped the bombs place blame on the other side, without acknowledging their own guilt?

The war against terrorism means nothing if we have to destroy the world to fight them. And this war in the Middle East is destroying the world, starting with its children.

I certainly can't blame this op-ed writer (WARNING: There are some extremely, horrifyingly disturbing images of Qana at this link). I can't blame him at all.

Greek Red Cross

The Greek Red Cross embarked on a new mission in Lebanon on Saturday, taking with them 4.6 tonnes of food, blankets, medicines, and basic necessities. The Greek Foreign Minister is calling on all Greeks to do what they can to aid with the humanitarian efforts in Lebanon.

If you want to contribute money to the Greek Red Cross for their mission in Lebanon, the bank numbers are:

  • Agricultural Bank: 017.04.005402.82
  • Alpha Bank: 101-00-2002-005560
  • Bank of Attica: 069/84298361
  • Citibank: 0506687357
  • Eurobank: 0026.0240.33.0200055949
All deposits should bear the name "Lebanon".

For further information, interested parties can contact the Public Relations Directorate on +30 210 362 1681 and +30 210 361 5606.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

So you're in your 30's now, get over it

Today is my husband's birthday. I am actually glad he is turning the ripe old age of 31, because for the past year all I've heard is his incessant whining "I can't believe I'm thirty!!!" I figure this can't go on while he is thirty-one, because it requires an extra syllable and, really, you've been thirty for a year, you should be used to it by now. A 36-year-old wife doesn't have much sympathy for all that.

I can imagine his dread at entering his thirties, considering his overall view of age. When we were on Kos, he kept talking about "the elderly major" that worked with him. I imagined this geriatric army man, barely able to get around but proud to keep serving in the army. One day, shortly before our sojourn on Kos was over, we ran into a guy my husband knew at the grocery store. This guy was maybe in his late forties and had an overall appearance of Tommy Chong. After we were done talking to him, my husband whispered "that's the elderly major". Yea, ok. So I have an idea now of what he considers old, which means I'm going to be in BIG trouble in a couple of years.

I'm definitely not looking forward to nine years from now, when I hear the incessant whining about being 40.

Χρόνια πολλά αρκουδακι μου!

Friday, July 28, 2006


Which of these pictures is gross? Can you believe that nearly 1000 readers of Babytalk magazine found the cover picture of a mother breastfeeding her baby inappropriate? One mother, a mother who breastfed all three of her children, trashed the magazine because she didn't want her son to see the sexually explicit breast. I'm sure none of her kids ever saw her breasts when she breastfed her children. And I'm especially sure her 13-year-old son has never had an occasion to see a picture of breasts.

I don't have a problem with women breastfeeding in public. It is a normal, natural thing and people should see it as such. If men can't get past the idea that there is a semi-naked breast in front of them, then they need to grow the fuck up. What gets me is the fact that every day Americans look at images like the BBC shot of the bombing above - demolished buildings, fleeing refugees, wounded civilians - and never think to be offended or react to those images as gross. Nothing about war, famine, destruction, blood or death is shocking to the American public. But by god if a woman chooses to breastfeed her baby in public it is a moral travesty.

I'm not saying the images of war or destruction should be censored or removed from the press. But when I see such pictures, it gives me pause. I look at the shattered remains of a residential area in Lebanon and think about the people that lived there, what their lives were like, what they are like now, and it saddens me. I look at a picture of wounded Israeli soldier and wonder what he or she is thinking, what their life will be like now, how serious the injury is, and whether or not they think it was all worth it. These pictures grip me. These pictures are the ones that are gross and horrifying. Not a picture of a woman feeding her child. That picture simply makes me smile.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sorry, Alfred

So much for King Alfred the Great. The British populace have named their top 20 heroes ever, and it doesn't seem ye olde heroes have made the list.

Part of a poll conducted by a British amusement park to name seats on a new ride, the modern Brit seems to prefer pop culture icons (seriously, this isn't a jab at the British in particular, I've no doubt the result would be the same just about anywhere) like Sean Connery, Bob Geldolf, JK Rowling and David Beckham. It seems the definition of hero has been redefined by the modern age. Not that have any problems with the people on the list, in fact I am quite fond of many of them. I just don't know that I would call them heroes. No point arguing over semantics, anyway.

In the end, I guess it is better not to have an amusement park seat bearing Alfred's name, it seems too belittling.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A plea for help

Doctors of the World - Greece has reported that conditions in Lebanon are far worse than anything shown on the news. They have issued a plea for help - if you can donate medicine, canned food, long life milk, children's formula, or money - the humanitarian effort in Lebanon is desperate for help of all kinds.

The bank numbers for financial donations for Doctors of the World - Greece in Greece are:

  • National Bank of Greece: 141/29611217
  • Emporiki Bank: 001-29534144 (Athens) and 428/59749064 (Thessaloniki)
  • Alpha Bank: 199-00-2002-002401

If you are outside Greece and interested in helping the efforts in Lebanon, contact the Red Cross. I'm not sure of other programs within Doctors of the World or Doctors without Borders that are in Lebanon at the moment, but I am sure they will be. Still, if you want to make donations specifically for the crisis in Lebanon, make sure you ask before you donate.

UPDATE: Adding a link for UNICEF donations, thanks to Sandra for reminding me about this agency.

Monday, July 24, 2006

We shall overcome

In remembrance of July 24, 1974, when champions of democracy won the battle to overturn the military dictatorship that reigned over Greece for 7 years.

Here's hoping that some day Greece will be on track politically, socially, and financially. Considering the upheavals the government has dealt with over the past 100 years, I guess things aren't too bad.

Here's to the Greek people - may they keep fighting the good fight, and win.

It's a different culture

I really enjoy watching the Greek version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I never really watched it much in the U.S., I've long since passed my "game show" phase. But the Greek version is entertaining for a couple of reasons: one, I get to practice my Greek and learn new words and two, it reminds me that Greeks have a whole different cultural/entertainment background than Americans. This is made evident by obscure questions about body parts missing on well known Greek statues, ingredients in Greek recipes, and works of modern Greek writers, filmmakers, and artists. A lot of the questions about ancient Greek history I can answer, at least.

Still, it gives me pause when a player who is knocking out questions left and right gets stuck on a question like "where are the Oscars awarded?" The choices were Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and New York, and the guy was stumped. He had to use his phone call, luckily, his mother knew the answer.

Yes, Greeks couldn't care less about the American entertainment business, and most of them get blindsided by questions about American movies. I guess that is why they put those questions in there. It seems a bit unfair to me, but yea, life isn't fair. Especially game shows.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The road to blogging is paved with good intentions

So, I was going to do a series of posts today on stories I bookmarked ages ago to yap about but never got around to it. I did one, and now I've lost all indignation. So I'll go over a couple of them briefly and then delete them from my bookmarks.

Some gomer contends that characters like Hermione (yes, the smart girl from Harry Potter) could be contributing to an increase in violence among girls. I think this guy has advised the FBI one too many times. Girls may be getting more violent, but I highly doubt Hermione is the cause, as another "expert" contends. Sure, she hit Draco in book 3. I think there were some extenuating circumstances there. She might lead girls to excessive reading, though.

The text of the oldest papyrus in Greek has been decoded. The Derveni Papyrus is described as "philosophical treatise based on a poem in the Orphic tradition and dating to the second half of the 5th century BC.” Pretty damn cool.

The whole Harry Potter controversy in Gwinnett Country, GA school libraries. A moment of laughter directed at the crazed mother against Harry Potter should ensue.

The 100 most inspiring movies of all time. Gag me with a spoon. Not that I don't like most of these movies. But some of them inspired me to poke my eyes out (E.T., anyone?).

In Greece, one in three students feels bullied at school. Think there isn't a problem here now?

The so-called "Google generation" seems to think it is ok to copy things straight from the internet, and don't have a proper understanding of what plagiarism is. Wonderful.

Finally, modern science discovers something good about drugs. Yes, magic mushrooms *do* offer profound mystical experiences to those who ingest them. Do not confuse these experiences with those of LSD though, which are very, very, very different. And don't chew up mushrooms without copious amounts of flavorful liquids nearby.

Ok, I think that pretty much wraps it up. I feel purged now.

Here we go again

A professor at the University of Wisconsion - Madison has been targeted in a letter from state lawmakers for his statements regarding 9/11. Professor Kevin Barrett, who is slated to teach a class on Islam this fall, apparently claimed on a talk show that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the U.S. government to justify war in the Middle East. The university provost, Pat Farrell, placed Barrett's Islam course under review after he made these statements, but ultimately found that Barrett was "a qualified instructor who can present his views as one perspective on the attacks" and that "his plan for the course appears to offer a sound learning experience for students interested in gaining a better understanding of Islam."

The Wisconsion legislature is not happy with the review, and has sent a letter signed by 61 lawmakers condemning the university's decision to let Barrett teach a class on Islam in the fall. The letter called Barrett's views "academically dishonest" and seems to be an attempt to strongarm the university into making certain decisions about its academic program.

My first response to this story is that this whole issue is SO not legislative business. Sure, it is a state school, but if you are going to send letters that to some extent threaten the university to do what you want, I think you need to get the judicial system behind it, not the legislature. At least the Assembly refused to take up a resolution calling on the university to fire Barrett - because again, not their call.

My second response to this story is why the hell do we keep going through this type of thing again and again? At this point we are talking about a college education, and every college professor I've ever known has held a position that was disputed by students and discussed at length - sometimes just to get kids to start thinking about their arguments and different ideas. As Farrell said in his review:

"We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas. That classroom interaction is central to this university's mission and to the expansion of knowledge. Silencing that exchange now would only open the door to more onerous and sweeping restrictions."

Bravo to the University of Wisconsion for making a sound, well thought out decision in an era of witch hunting and attempts to silence ideas that do not march with the status quo. Bravo.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Note to self

Do not wear a bright orange shirt at dusk in the summertime in Thessaloniki, unless you want thousands of gnats to dive bomb you like you are some kind of bug light.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm voting NO, are you?

Let's show that Tennessee isn't willing to allow a constitutional ban on legal protections for same-sex marriages. Vote NO on November 7th. Marriage is love. Everyone should be able to share it. Same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Their love runs just as deep, when they lose their partner the grief is just as devastating. By keeping these couples from having the right to a legal union, we are saying their love just isn't good enough. We are keeping them from staying in hospital rooms with their sick partners. We are keeping them from legally making decisions about their partner's health. We are keeping them from having custodial rights to a child if one partner dies. We are keeping them from the happiness we all deserve.

Thanks to Brittney over at NIT for sharing the link.

How could they?

They are shooting the Hairspray musical movie in Toronto instead of Baltimore, to take advantage of tax breaks and other benefits of shooting a film north of the border. While the article reports that some shooting will take place in Baltimore, it seems they have now decided simply to recreate Baltimore on a sound stage.

Baltimore is just as much of a character in this story as Tracy Turnblad or Penny Pingleton. John Waters seems to take the filming location change in stride, even though he was a staunch believer in making Baltimore prominent in the settings of most of his movies. It's all about the money these days.

This should be a wake up call to the film industry in the U.S., which needs to institute a few incentives to keep film crews from crossing the borders.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Things I love about Greece

(in no particular order)

· Taking the Lord’s name in vain is not a sin

· If someone sneezes, you aren’t required to say a damn thing

· You can talk as loudly as you want without making a scene

· You only have to walk a few meters to stumble on ancient or Byzantine ruins

· The sea is never more than a couple of hours away

· The mountains are never more than a couple of hours away

· Round trip airline tickets to most European destinations are 200 euros or less

· The color of the Aegean

· Mt. Olympus

· A parking garage is a novelty

· If you watch a movie on television, you almost never hear beeps or see fuzzy body parts

· People just don’t seem to get the idea of a shopping mall

· You can get a Greek salad (cucumber, tomato, onions, feta cheese & olive oil) at McDonald’s

· You can sit at coffee houses and tavernas as long as you want. And most of these places have copious outdoor seating.

· Bourini (sudden summer storms that roll in from the sea, with fierce wind)

· Toilets know how to flush

· DSL is very, very cheap

· People sure do sound funny when they speak English, but not as funny as Southerners do

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How to sell your soul to the devil and other free advice

While Nashville and the rest of the U.S. have been sweltering in 90+ degree heat (let's add some humidity to that for my Southern and Northeastern friends), I've been enjoying some moderate weather here in Thessaloniki. Pleasant breezes, low humidity, and temperatures just shy of 85°. Not to rub it in, or anything. Of course, we did just have a nasty landfill fire here that burned for four days and made those pleasant breezes slightly toxic, if that makes you feel any better.

Let's see what has been bringing folks to the diner these days.

Apparently I provide information on how to sell your soul to the devil. So here you go. Call up the devil, make an offer. It is actually pretty easy. I think the number is listed, too.

Someone wanted a piglet execution cartoon, which is just plain sick. Piglet rules all, he shall not be executed.

I'm not sure what exactly is meant by Amsterdam positronic cannabis. Weed for robots of an Asmovian variety?

I'm particularly proud that someone found me looking for humiliate your hubby. By god, that is what is blogs are for.

Someone was quite curious about the thing women pea out of (and in all caps, no less). I'm not sure what that is exactly, but I certainly don't like the sound of it. I've never actually pead out of anything.

A blanket statement: cats will rule the world. Honey, they already do.

I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as humanitarian space travel. That would only be possible if there were aliens, and since aliens would probably not be human, would it even be humanitarian?

Some poor soul needed advice - bossy wife. Maybe he should email my husband.

If you are inquiring about the longest human pregnancy, look no further than the TomKat conspiracy timeline.

"Theme parks" mobility scooter RUDENESS. Sounds ugly.

To the person who wanted to know how to clean chip fat off the floor, use a cat. Or a dog. Both work.

Finally, I'm afraid I cannot answer what is the weirdest fact about Greece. There are just so many.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Choosing sides

My last post regarding the conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians, as with probably most posts out in the blogosphere, has met with various comments, people choosing sides, staking their claims, sharing their opinions.

At this point in time, I think it would be particularly difficult to choose a side. Both sides are irritating me to no end. For me, the choice is clear: I'm worried about Lebanon. I know all the arguments. Hezbollah are terrorists. The Lebanese allowed them to inhabit their country, and blah blah blah, and so on. But in the end, I highly doubt Hezbollah gives a rat's ass that Lebanon is getting torn about because of them. And I highly doubt that Israel gives a damn that they are destroying Lebanon to achieve their end.

Lebanon has gone to great lengths to rebuild itself since the 1991 Gulf War. Things were relatively back to normal for them, save a few issues with Syria and those sorts of things that cannot be avoided in such a nation. But now their country is getting torn apart again, but an unresolvable conflict between two nations that just don't care if they destroy the world with their petty squabbling. Yes, I said petty. I personally don't care who gets to live in Jerusalem. If I had my way, we'd evacuate everyone from the whole damn area and just level it, turn it into a pit. But of course, these Hatfields and McCoys would just keep on fighting.

I doubt that the Israeli or Palestinian people want this war to continue. I'm sure it is all planned, executed, and tended to by their governments. Sure, Israeli parents want their abducted children back, and Palestinian parents want their imprisoned children back. But the cost is proving too high, too many sons and daughters are being lost forever in the struggle.

So I don't take sides. I just hope the conflict can somehow, some way, be resolved, for the good of all.

You gotta hand it to the Dutch

Despite the recent row over Ayaan Hirsi Ali's citizenship, the Dutch are continuing to break new ground in the annals of freedom and democracy. A judge has ruled that the Brotherly Love, Freedom, and Diversity Party (PNVD) has the right to exist, despite much controversy surrounding the group, which seeks to lower the age of consent from 16 to 12. The three members of the party are known to be pedophiles, although the judge claims they have not committed any crimes.

"Freedom of expression...including the freedom to set up a political party can be seen as the basis for a democratic society," Judge Hofhuis said in the ruling, according to the Associated Press news agency.

"It is the right of the voter to judge the appeal of political parties," he said.

I suppose he has a point, but I can't imagine there will be too much support for a party that wants to legalize child pornography and sex with animals.

The PNVD - which has only three known members - says its aim is to break taboos and fight intolerance.

It says it wants paedophilia to be freely discussed, arguing that a ban just makes children curious.

Yea, whatever. I hardly think a 12-year-old is mature enough to have sex with someone their own age, let alone an adult.

They also want to break the "negative" stigma surrounding paedophilia by getting into parliament.

But the PNVD says it is not just a one-issue party.

It also wants children from the age of 12 to be able to vote. It promotes the legalisation of hard and soft drugs and free train travel for all.

Well, again, I don't think a 12-year-old is mature enough to vote. Does a 12-year-old really care about voting? Free train travel for all isn't such a bad thing, though. I guess true freedom should allow parties like this to exist, but will the people let them prevail? I highly doubt it.

So much for good intentions

My plan to get prepared for the elevator to shut down has been foiled. On the regular inspection on Friday the old, tired elevator was declared unsafe, and so it was shut down and locked. It isn't surprising really, since the elevator is older than God. Older than Zeus. Older than the Titans, even. So basically, I've spent the last three days climbing stairs.

It isn't a terribly big deal, but going up the stairs laden with shopping has already grown a bit tiresome. Thank god my husband makes a terrific beast of burden. Still, the plans are still in play for us not to have a working elevator until the end of September, so I suspect it will grow even more tiresome indeed. Though in the end, I'd rather have a heart attack climbing six flights of stairs than plunging to my death from the sixth floor. At least with a heart attack I might have a fighting chance of living, whereas falling to the ground with the force of gravity in a tiny wooden box would pretty much leave me a tangled mess of people goo.

Besides, I'm looking at the bright side. Maybe I'll be able to climb my way to perkier buttocks.

Friday, July 14, 2006


The longer you know someone, the more you learn about their peculiar quirks and habits. Being married to someone makes this a lot easier, and my husband and I are no strangers to discovering one another's oddities. From my propensity to call people "bitch" and his vitriolic hatred of capri pants, we've learned to love each other despite these totally irrational, psychotic sides of ourselves.

My husband and I share an extreme dislike of most vegetables, so it was no surprise when we both turned up our noses at the broccoli and carrots that made their way onto my husband's plate when we ate out last night. As we enjoyed our meal despite the close proximity of the devil vegetables, I noticed my husband cutting the fat off his steak. Not so unusual, really, most of us don't like the fatty parts of our meat. But my husband was taking it one step further - he was cutting off little pieces of fat and burying them underneath the broccoli. By the time I realized this, there was a virtual minefield of tiny pieces of fat beneath the vegetables, and while I found this behavior giggle-worthy, my husband didn't seem to think there was anything odd about it at all. I can only imagine what the waitress/dishwasher/whoever must have thought when they started dumping the plate and saw all this fat emerge from the broccoli.

The thing is, with each peculiarity, no matter how peculiar, I've discovered that it only leads to loving my husband more. Thank goodness, because we have a lifetime of peculiarities ahead of us.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Maybe we should have paid more attention

I'm glad the U.S. has been so concerned about Iran and North Korea. So glad, in fact, that the Israeli/Palestinian battle had time to blow up in everyone's faces while everyone was working on what to do about the two evil axis empires and their need/desire to have nuclear weapons.

Honestly, the Isreali/Palestinian issue is one for which I have no real solution. Both lay claim to the same areas, both seem to hate each other with a passion, and both seem to not really care what kind of mess they leave behind. If you want to get down to brass tacks, I'd say the Israelis technically have more right to be there than the Palestinians, if you want to go by ancient history. But I don't think that works for the Palestinians, who apparently gave up their right to a nice chunk o' country after WWII because, by Allah, they want Jerusalem, or a piece of it, at least.

The Greeks are obviously quite worried about the whole situation down there, and have a plane ready to go if the need to extract Greeks and other Europeans from the area arises. A government spokesman said "Unless the prevailing uncontrollable situation is tamed, it may lead to a wider flare-up in the Middle East", which basically means "watch your shit, if nukes start going off and the wind is blowing the wrong way, that fallout is going to land over here".

Somebody better start bombing the area with Alice B. Toklas brownies, or something.

Dreaming is free, right?

A house of dreams, of fairytales, of legends in the French countryside. If it was next to Johnny Depp's house, I might sell my soul to buy it, even though he is quite happily married with a lovely family (not to mention so am I, sans the family part). The photos are quite charming. I'll be quite happy to pretend, for a moment, that it was possible to make such a purchase, and then I'll come back to my harsh reality of life in Greece.

Wait a minute, that isn't so bad, either.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I guess I better get in shape

Finally, our building is getting a new elevator. Which is a bit sad in a way, because I've grown kinda fond of the old one with all its quirks and curiosities. They are going all out on the new one - new everything, from the cables, the elevator, all the doors, everything. It should be nice, although I'll be loathe to be one of the first people to try it out. What if they don't screw everything in correctly?

The 13k euros is being divided by all the owners of the apartments in the building, scaled in the same way they do monthly maintenance (ie. for elevator expenses, you pay more the higher your floor). Being on the 6th floor ours is a sizeable chunk, but it will be worth it. The money is due on Sept. 1st, and the new elevator construction will begin sometime after that. The building manager said it would take 20 days to get the new elevator installed, and she didn't know if that meant 20 days without a working elevator or it would take them 20 days to build all the parts and come and install them.

At any rate, I know there will be at the very least a few days without any elevator. This will be especially fun with groceries or heavy packages. I'm strongly contemplating not leaving the apartment for the duration, but I'd go stir crazy. How hard is going up six flights of stairs anyway?* I've got six weeks to get ready for it. I'll let you know.

*For the record, I've only gone up the stairs once, and it wasn't easy. Yea, I'm not in good shape, but I could do worse. At least I made it, my husband thought I'd call the elevator by the second floor. Still, seeing how my 40-year-old friend was able to leap up the stairs in a single bound several times while he was here, I'd better get cracking.

I have no response to this

A farmer in Russia sent Vladimir Putin an email requesting permission to marry his cow. Apparently, there are no women left in his Siberian village and he is a real animal lover, an animal lover who wants to know when it will be legal in Russia to marry domestic animals.

I suppose he could do worse. At least his new bride can offer him a lifetime supply of milk and when death does them part, she can provide him with plenty of beef.

It is always better to think before you act

I hate mosquitos. Nashville had some annoying mosquitos, but they are much, MUCH more aggressive here in Greece, especially here in Thessaloniki. I never thought there could be so many mosquitos in a city center, but I guess our proximity to the water makes it possible.

Sunday night we decided to enjoy the World Cup at a coffee shop on Aristotelous Square. As the evening wore on, we were attacked by more and more mosquitos. One landed on the table in front of me, and without thinking about the fact that certainly she just finished sucking the lifeblood of some unsuspecting human nearby (possibly me or my husband), I shouted "DIE BITCH!!" and squashed her good and hard with my hand.

I looked at the puddle of blood on the table and the stains on my hand and my husband said "yea, you really shouldn't do that". At least I had my handy antibacterial wipes so I could clean up the mess.

Even so, I don't regret it. I got a great deal of pleasure knowing I struck that blood sucking vixen dead. Maybe some of her friends were watching, and will tell fellow mosquitos to stay the hell away from me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Funny headlines

This just made me laugh. Because headbutt should be one word, ya know? Otherwise, he has a head in his butt.

Only the good die young

A man who influenced many great musicians has died at the young age of 60. Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's inaugural guitarist, helped shape the birth of the band with a quite different musical style than the Floyd we know today. I admire David Gilmore, but Barrett was a unique character in the world of music. I may have to dig out my vinyl collection in tribute.

Shine on you crazy diamond, shine on.

Little by little, America goes tumbling down

Sappho has some eye-opening on the scene pictures and commentary of police brutality during an Anti-Minuteman protest in L.A.

More proof of the erosion of America, bit by bit, layer by layer. Small enough pieces so only a few people see it happening - until the American people wake up and find a brave new world.

Yes, I probably exaggerate a bit, but I am shocked and saddened by the stories I read here and there of the rise of hatred, the loss of rights, and the breaking of human spirit. America was built to be better than this, and many Americans are better than this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It is always sad when it's over

Well, the World Cup is over. This was my first World Cup, and I have to say I enjoyed it. It seems there were a lot of games that went into penalty shots, and those were particularly thrilling. And by god, I had no idea soccer had so much drama. From the tears, the dropping to the ground to force penalties, faked injuries, yelling, shirt pulling, tripping, and in the end, headbutting, it was just as good as any television melodrama.

Congrats to Italy, although I have to wonder how satisfying it is to win the World Cup on penalty shots. In the end it seems that both teams played equally well, so both really won. But the competitor in me would always feel a bit empty if my team won on penalties, as exciting as they are.

My deepest thanks goes to French player Zinedine Zidane, who proved to me that even adults who aren't involved in the World Wrestling Federation headbutt one another when they get mad. I haven't seen a good headbutt since the 4th grade. Still, I'd really like to know what Materazzi said to him. It must have been some insult.

Arrevederci, World Cup. Until 2010!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Summer is for vegetables

Even though my husband and I pretend to be adults, neither of us is too fond of vegetables. Sure, we'll eat salads happily, but most cooked veggies go to the wayside. But both of us die for this cool summer salad, we can eat it nonstop. The recipe has been in my family for ages, so I'm not real sure where it came from. Here it is, for the culinary and the curious.


1 medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 cup sour cream (I use 200 gr. yogurt)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Slice onion into thin slices. Soak in water 10 minutes. Dice tomatoes, pare cucumbers. Cut into thin slices and in half. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar to sour cream. Mix in vegetables and set aside 1 hour in refrigerator. Serves 4. Recipe may be doubled for more servings.

New words for a new world

It is that time again - when Merriam-Webster publishes the latest edition of their collegiate dictionary. And a new edition means new words - about a hundred this year - and new words means slang these days, apparently.

According to an article on, some of the new words that made the latest edition are:
google, drama queen, empty suit, himbo, bling, unibrow, soul patch, and biodiesel. With over a half million words in the English language, I guess we have hit our peak. There is nothing left now but to ride the crest downwards, as it slowly takes us back to shore.

Personally, I'd like to see new words that actually mean something. While I appreciate the influx of new words that are related to international, common culture (like the use of google as a verb), I'd still like to see a few more interesting words enter the lexicon - words that aren't just brand names or slang. Words like bumbalingus - a term my husband and I invented for an instant itch that must be scratched at all costs. Why aren't dictionaries adding words like that?

I guess for now, I should stop being such a drama queen and google a few sites that might have some clever new words. But someday, the English language will ride that wave again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Stupid European recipes

For the love of all that is good and holy, can someone definitively tell me what 250 grams of Bisquick is in cups? That is, taking into account the whole weight to volume measuring debacle.

I just can't figure it out. And I'm not up for weighing ingredients for recipes.

Cheesecake: The Recipe

If you only make one recipe this summer - let it be cheesecake. The crust recipe is a generic one, the cheesecake recipe came from The Tennessean about fifteen years ago.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker (or similar type cookie) crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (I use 125 grams) butter

Preheat oven to 350° (180°C). Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until set and golden, about 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

This crust can be kept refrigerated, covered in saran wrap or in a container, for up to 3 days.


2 (8 ounce - I get 2 300 gram packages) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, mix until blended. Pour into crust. Bake at 350°(180°) 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

If you want Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, use 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips. Stir in half the chocolate chips after the eggs, then put the rest on top of the cheesecake.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The king and queen of complicated

My husband and I seem to be really talented at making what should be the simplest thing complicated. Case in point: our recent experience with installing a wireless network.

For a couple of years now, we have been using our laptop as the “server” for logging into the internet. While we had been discussing upgrading to a wireless network for some time, the prospect was less than desirable (read: we are lazy, lazy people). The laptop (a Dell Inspiron) has been the bane of my existence ever since I bought it four years ago. The other day, it started having problems again and so we finally decided to bite the bullet and go wireless.

Off we trot to THE computer store here in Greece (Plaisio). My husband explains exactly what we need and we come home with the wireless router and two wireless cards for the computers. We weren’t about to mess with it that evening, and when I looked over our purchases the next day, I realized our crappy ADSL modem would not work with the router, because our modem connects via a USB cable. So off we go again to the computer store to buy a new modem. We got home, had some dinner, and we were going to put off the installation until today. However, my husband, in his eternal, unwavering brilliance, remembered how quickly he had installed the wireless network at his parents and figured with a half hour until the France/Portugal game there was plenty of time to install and get finished in time to watch the game.

Yeah, right.

We followed the instructions as to installing software before we added the new hardware. We made sure the ADSL light was set on the modem. And we proceeded to setup the wireless router.

But it wouldn’t cooperate. Oh no. It seemed to require knowledge of quantum physics and rocket science, not to mention the ability to bend time. So we figured maybe we should configure the internet connection through the modem first, even though we wouldn’t be using it that way. That refused to work as well. My husband and I tried all kinds of things, back and forth between the modem and the router. By the time the France/Portugal match was over, my husband and I were both seething, the room had filled with a dark brown smoke, portals were opening to unknown universes and an acidic, green rain had begun to fall. I was fairly certain Armageddon was upon us.

Suddenly, in my last gasp of perspicacity, I discovered that there was a manual for the router on the CD. A whole manual. A manual from which we could follow very explicit instructions that actually made slightly more sense than the largely ambiguous and ill-named “Quick Start Guide”. To our amazement, we were able to follow the instructions with great success. We had a wireless network, we could access all the computers, but our internet connection betrayed itself by not connecting. And not connecting. And not connecting.

We eventually decided to go to bed and deal with it later on – the worst of it was over, at least. Yet, about 3am I had an epiphany – I remembered our login name wasn’t what it used to be, and tried it, and sure enough, I was right. Success! 6 hours after starting a project that should have taken 30 minutes we were done. True to form, we had turned something simple into a frustrating, onerous task.

Now we are basking in our wireless success, happy, fulfilled, and soon to forget the nightmare that was “Wireless Network Configuration 2006”. Until the next time we need to upgrade our computers, all should be right with the world. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Independence Day

Last year I made a rather melancholy post about the fourth of July and America. I was hoping by this time this year things might have changed for the better. Well, they haven't, in fact, things might even be a little worse.

Here and there, bits and pieces of the bill of rights have been chipped away. From freedom of speech to freedom to bear arms - all over America there have been small instances when pieced together seem to add up to a greater loss of freedom. There have been scores of sour instances involving our soldiers in Iraq - senseless deaths and rapes of civilians, along with senseless deaths and injuries of our own soldiers. People call me unpatriotic for not agreeing with this war, and I call the same people unpatriotic for believing in this war. Right is wrong, wrong is right, it just depends how you are looking at it. I don't have the energy to have these senseless battles anymore. My simple wish is that people would stop dying in Iraq - whether they be Iraqis, Sunnis, Shiites, Americans, Brits, whoever.

We spent our fourth of July staring at computer problems (these pesky Dell laptops, serves us right for using one as our server), buying a host of wireless networking equipment (and not installing it yet), eating dinner at Applebee's (for an American holiday, you need an American restaurant), and watching the Germany/Italy match. I admit it, I really wanted Germany to win. Oh well.

I miss the fireworks
I miss seeing red, white and blue everywhere
I miss cookouts
I miss red,white, and blue ice cream
I miss blueberry pie (a family tradition for the holiday, apparently, blueberries are indigenous to the U.S. and I don't know if they grow them anywhere in Europe - they certainly don't grow them in Greece)
I miss friends, family, and the hope of the American dream

To all of you who get to participate in fourth of July festivities, enjoy it, embrace it, don't take it for granted. And I hope you have the most glorious and safe independence day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Crazy weather and shopping paydirt

After a couple of scorching weeks with temperatures hovering around 95°F (hmm, 36° C or so?) and nasty, nasty humidity, the weather has taken a rather strange turn today. Cloudy, rainy, and cold (68°F/20°C) - autumn weather. This is so atypical of Greek weather in the summer, even up here in Northern Greece, so I'm not quite sure what to think. Perhaps it is an inconvenient truth.

Taking advantage of the rainy day my husband and I went with his sister and brother to the City Gate mall here in Thessaloniki - my first "mall" shopping in a long, long time. The layout is quite like U.S. malls, so I felt right at home. There are still quite a few empty places in the mall, so hopefully as time goes on it will get some more shops. It seemed fairly popular for early on a Monday, but since the sublevel contains a giant Carrefour (a huge French supermarket chain, for those that don't know) I'm sure a lot of shoppers are drawn to the mall when they do their grocery shopping. It was fun wandering around a mall again, and they even had a gimpy Radio Shack, AND a Sephora. But I wasn't ready to spend all my husband's money today. Lucky him.

We decided to go into the Carrefour because it was there, we needed some things, and you never know what surprises a big supermarket like that might have on its shelves. We found an assortment of Betty Crocker mixes, so we bought a brownie mix (yay, I don't have to make them from scratch!) and some Bisquick (hallelujah!). We also restocked our Golden Griddle syrup, and we almost bought some Aunt Jemima pancake mix, but with Bisquick I can make pancakes easily enough anyway. There was also a nice supply of Old El Paso (Mexican food stuff) things, but alas, no refried beans. Seven-layer-dip will just have to wait.

It is always fun having a bit of the American experience when living abroad. It is amazing how much joy things you always took for granted can bring. Small, insignificant, shallow joy - but joy nonetheless.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Let them eat cheesecake

Thanks to a wonderful friend who sent a care package a couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to make my first cheesecake in a few years - cheesecake with real graham cracker crust. Unfortunately, I have yet to find graham crackers in any store around here, so I had been debating what sorts of cookies to use for crust so I could satiate my cheesecake desire when the package came to my rescue.

Now, they do have something called cheesecake here in Greece, though it tastes nothing like the cheesecake I know and love. Not that it is bad - it is just sort of a fluffy, creamy filling with some sort of biscuit crust - and it doesn't taste cheesy at all. Everyone in my husband's family loved this sort of cheesecake - until they tried mine.

I had enough graham crackers to make three cheesecakes, and due to demand for them I've made them all in quick succession. Now, I love cheesecake, but I do get tired of it. But the Greeks around me, especially my husband, seem to have become quite the little cheesecake addicts. I think there is a possibility that I could overthrow the whole country with this cheesecake.

However, now that the graham cracker supply has dwindled, I'm not sure I can keep the title of cheesecake maker supreme. I'll have to experiment a bit but it might not be the same. And then I'll never live down the constant comments of "but your first cheesecakes were so good! That crust!"

Ah well. They say the mark of a good cook is their ability to experiment. We'll see if I end up with the Frankenstein of all cheesecakes.

Sign of the apocalypse?

Egalia of Tennessee Guerilla Women posted about a church in Memphis, Tennessee that has erected a seven-story simulacrum of the Statue of Liberty, only this one is holding a cross and the ten commandments. They paid $260,000 for this monstrosity. It is really nice to know that churches have solved all the monetary problems of their communities and are now able to afford such extravagances.

Christians going batshit crazy?

A definite sign of the apocalypse.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sorry, England

I swear it wasn't my fault. It was an interesting game, at least, starring Gene Hackman as the Portuguese coach and featuring an English player (Crouch) that bore a remarkable resemblance to a character in a Tim Burton animation. Still, did Beckham really have to cry?

As things are looking now, I'm not sure any results from here on out can be predicted. We'll see. I'm still staying away from choosing a favorite. May the best team win!