Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

OTE can suck it

For the past 4 or 5 months, we've notice that our 1 mb connection has dropped down to about 200 kb/s in the afternoons/evenings, which makes doing most anything beyond loading text unbearable. We were tirelessly slamming our ISP, Forthnet, for these issues, until we found out today that because OTE controls our line (Forthnet, unfortunately, does not have their own lines in our area), OTE controls our lack of bandwidth. It seems that the node we are on is overcrowded, and OTE doesn't give a shit since the people that are complaining are not their subscribers.

Since the point of having other ISPs on OTE lines was necessary to avoid a monopoly and allow users a choice, it would seem that these practices would not be acceptable, at least, I doubt any company would get away with such a thing in America. But of course this is Greece, the top of the line in "I don't give a damn" countries. Still, you would hope that since OTE has some German blood in them now they would improve things a bit. Forthnet has sent orders to OTE three times on our behalf in the past few months, and nothing has changed. Here's hoping it does soon, but maybe not before we switch our phone service to another provider. I'm not inclined to pay OTE any more money for their corrupt business practices. For now, I guess we are forced to suffer with an adsl connection that isn't much better than ISDN, unless, of course, we ally ourselves with the evil empire and get our internet service from OTE. Not a chance.

Friday, December 19, 2008

High class

You know you live in a classy city when you park downtown and find a brochure from a "by the hour" hotel on your windshield. Ironically, the couple pictured on the cover of the pamphlet was sleeping. Because sometimes you just need a place where you can sleep for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Whenever a person moves to a new place there is always a period of adjustment. The length of time it will take is indeterminate – it depends on many factors, and can take weeks, months, or even years. Obviously, moving to a different country ups the adjustment factor quite a bit, as we learn how to deal with new cultures, new social customs, and sometimes, new languages.

When I moved to Greece six years ago, I did not expect it to be easy. I am one of those people who stubbornly defies change of any kind, even change I long for, so I knew learning how to live in a new country was going to be an enormous task for me. The welcoming attitude of my in-laws made things much less difficult (as some of us know, some Greek in-laws can be a bit harsh with foreign spouses), but the blooming war in Iraq and general anti-American sentiment made me feel quite isolated and unwanted here. Living in Athens didn’t help matters much, because while it is a booming metropolis with lots of activity, it is hard to find your “place” there. Of course, we were only going to be there a year, so I looked forward to moving on.

We moved three times in four years, so it was nearly impossible to really feel like I was “home” here. In smaller villages I was more of an attraction because of my foreign status, and people were much friendlier. Even though I was starting to feel a greater sense of belonging, I had difficulty learning the Greek language, and that separated me from everyone else. We moved to a village I really loved on the side of Mt. Olympus, and that was when Greece started feeling more like home. Another move to my husband’s home town of Thessaloniki made things even better, and by the time we moved into our own house, I finally felt settled at last.

That is, until the riots started. To be fair, this sort of violence isn’t uncommon in Greece, whenever there is a protest or march of some kind, rioters wreak some kind of havoc. But the scale of the latest riots was enormous, the damage overwhelming, and the hatred palpable. We have had riots in America, but things don’t spill over into violence quite so often. Europe is so protective over an individual’s right to protest that it has a hard time dealing with rioting, which I can respect, but the destruction and injury (and sometimes death) caused by soccer hooliganism and protest violence seems unnecessary and avoidable. The general attitude that it is ok to throw rocks and bottles and bombs at people (especially police) is hard for me to grasp. I’ve had my share of anti-government attitudes in my life, but I’ve never felt the need to throw something at another human being, no matter how much I despised them (yes, I know, we can all appreciate the humor in Bush’s bobbing and weaving at the shoes thrown at him, but honestly, I do not think it is ok to do that, as much as I dislike Bush).

I cannot pretend to know what it is like to grow up in Greece today, or what my attitude about things would be if I was a Greek youth. But I’m not, and these riots have left me feeling alienated and unsettled, and once again searching for home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

World Philosophy Day

In honor of World Philosophy Day, I ask you to mull this question, first posed by Friederich Nietzsche:

If you knew you had to live your life over again, exactly as it has been - no changes, no derivations from the path you have been on - would cry in agony or dance in jubilation?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Phoenix Lander, I hardly knew ya...

Wired Magazine is having an epitaph contest for the Mars Phoenix Lander, which is slowly dying on the red planet as the sun filled "days" are decreasing and unable to charge its solar cells. Phoenix was, thankfully, an incredibly successful mission that gave scientists plenty of information about Mars.

Some of the epitaphs are touching, some are funny. Here's to the lander and the NASA/JPL crew behind it - and to many more successful missions in the future.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's worth it just to see the Fonz...

...even though he's 30 years older. I admit, I had a shameless crush on Fonzie when I was a kid, a girl just can't resist the leather.

WARNING: This is a celebrity endorsement for Obama, so if you have McCain tendencies but loved the Fonz, I just want you to be warned.
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

School spirit

All eyes are on my hometown and my alma mater tonight as the second U.S. Presidential debate is being held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. I don’t think there is a “redder” state than Tennessee, so Obama will have his work cut out for him (even Al Gore, a Tennessee boy, didn’t win his hometown state), but things don’t seem to be going too well for McCain at the moment so maybe we’ll see the state turn a nice shade of purple. Not that I am a die hard Obama girl, but I call myself a Democrat, so I better vote like one.

Politics aside, this will the first presidential debate that will undoubtedly make me homesick, as I see photos of the University campus I loved so much (and hardly recognize anymore, what with all the new buildings). The Belmont I left wasn’t even close to having the capacity to hold such a thing as a Presidential debate, so I can’t help but feel a tinge of pride at how far my school has come (in your face, David Lipscomb!*).

In the meantime, my absentee ballot arrived in the mail last week, so it is good to know that Davidson County Election Commission has their ducks in a row. As usual, there are a slew of unknown Independent candidates (including Nader, but I miss seeing good ol’ Lyndon LaRouche on the ballot). I’ll be sure to get my ballot off in plenty of time, I just wish it would count for something, since absentee ballots are apparently only counted in the case of a run-off election (if someone has some updated information on how absentee ballots are counted, please let me know).

Shine brightly, Nashville. I hope you have plenty of gas.

*This has meaning only if you attended Belmont or Lipscomb

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My kingdom for a number

Our area of the village is fairly unpopulated, one of the most recently developed areas of the municipality. There are a handful of houses up here, and the trek to the village proper is at least a mile (perhaps more, I’ve never done an odometer check to be certain). So our street is relatively new, in fact, it may have just been a dirt/stone road when I first moved to Greece and came up to visit our house while it was still in progress. Despite having nomenclature, our road has not been officially numbered, either by the municipality or the post office, so we are without an official address. This is slightly annoying for a variety of reasons, given that the post office (and our P.O. box) is well out of our way (we end up getting our mail about once a month). Although it would be mighty nice to have mail delivered to our house, it would be nicer if, god forbid, we ever had to call police/fire/ambulance, we could actually give them a freakin’ address.

It doesn’t help matters much that our neighbor, in true Greek fashion, has apparently arbitrarily decided upon a street number for his house. How exactly he came up with this number is beyond me, but it has been made even more complicated by the fact that someone closer to the beginning of the road has decided their street number is 8 (higher than our neighbor’s 5), and posted it proudly. This would mean that our street numbers are ass backwards from the rest of the world, since there is no way there are seven properties between the beginning of the road and the illustrious number 8, and with our neighbor’s chosen number, this means that the numbers would have to start at the end of the street instead of the beginning (and since the end of our street is a dead end, obviously that isn’t the beginning of the street, is it?). If we can just pick our own street number, I think we should come up with something like 6242 and really throw people off, which is the kind of thing I am inclined to do but I don’t think my in-laws would go for it.

Here’s hoping that some day we actually do get this sorted out, so when I’m 90 years old and having a stroke, someone can actually give the EMT an address. That gives them about 50 years to figure it out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

If Dante had it right

It was just over a month ago that we were trudging through the hottest, sweatiest days of the summer, and yet here we are, at the end of September, freezing our bums off. While technically speaking the temperature has not been freezing, it has been hovering around 60 degrees F (about 15 C, I think), and has felt downright cold for the last week or so. Add a plethora of cloudy, rainy days and our house feels bone cold, so we finally decided to turn on the heat (the heat was on in early May, now again late September, I think this is a record for me). I’m sure things are colder up here on the mountain, but come on now, it would be nice to have some mild temperatures in between the sweltering air conditioning weather and the bitter heat on non-stop weather (we might have had a week of them, which isn’t anywhere near enough). Today has proven to be yet another gloomy, cold day (I think the coldest yet, the temperature hasn’t risen above 49 up here), and while I tend toward the dark and gothic, even the most melancholy of people need a sunny day now and then, if only to dry the laundry. There is one thing this weather is good for, however – cuddling on the couch watching T.V. with your husband and three cats.

In other words, it is official – I have become an old woman who spends her time complaining about the weather. At least there is one thing this weather is good for – cuddling on the couch watching T.V. with your husband and three cats.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hometown pride

Things like this can only happen in Nashville. If you have lived there, you know exactly what I mean.

Idiotic, maybe. But I think this story made me more homesick than ever.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dog days

I don’t know why I always get lulled into the false sense that by the time August comes, insufferable temperatures are not as likely. The reality is almost every place I’ve lived has the potential of facing extreme heat in August, as we’ve experienced here for the past few weeks. For most of the summer, the weather up here on the mountain has been a bit more temperate than the city, with cool, windy evenings. But not lately. It has been as hot up here as it has been downtown, with weeks of temperatures reaching 95 degrees and not much relief at night. Usually, even during the hottest days, our house would cool off some at night, but not lately. Luckily we have air conditioning upstairs, but any amount of cooking downstairs made it seem like I’d been schvitzing for several hours. We made the mistake of inviting people for dinner and by the time I served the meal I resembled a wet rat, but the food was good and the company pleasant so the sweat was worth it (not to mention a Clue tournament, which is a requirement for guests in this house). We are resolved to buy air conditioning for the downstairs next summer, which should make entertaining during the summer much more pleasant for us and our guests.

We managed to survive a wedding in the high heat of August. The church wasn’t air conditioned and from the looks of things, had the ceremony been any longer half the guests would have passed out from heat stroke. I also witnessed my first Greek Orthodox baptism, which made me feel slightly sorry for the two month old baby who had no idea what was going on and I think just wanted to sleep. My sister-in-law is the nona (her first time), so I was happy to be there to see her take on the responsibility. She handled it well, despite getting peed on (by the baby, not the priest), and I am certain she is truly “pandaxia” (always worthy). The couple couldn’t have picked a better godmother.

My husband and I have handled the heat by staying inside and embracing our inner geeks playing Lord of the Rings Online, watching Star Trek: Voyager, and playing Word Challenge on Facebook. Thank goodness last night offered the first real relief from the stifling weather, as a cool breeze flowed through the mountains and into our windows. I’m definitely looking forward to autumn.

Friday, August 15, 2008

God bless the internet

If we didn't have the internet, then where would people go when they wanted to know how to "make your own fake dog poop"?

Yes, I am the proud owner of a blog that ended up as a result of that search. Grats to me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Son of Sam called, he wants his M.O. back

I read with horror a story about a couple who were shot while eating at a pizzeria in a Thessaloniki neighborhood recently. I had heard about another incident in the same neighborhood, only this time the couple were shot while sitting in their car at a drive-in cinema. The media hasn't been very forthcoming with details, and the police are insisting that the crimes are unrelated, which means one of two things: either they have enough information about one or both incidents to be certain they are unrelated, or they don't want people to think there might be a serial killer stalking a Thessaloniki neighborhood. Of course, I hope that the crimes are unrelated and the perpetrators are caught quickly, but it got me to thinking - can Greek law enforcement handle a serial killer case?

This is not to say I think the police here are incompetent. Sure, there have been a few big gaffes lately, but we all know how we only hear about the bad things and never about the good things. But as with most things in Greece, I am not sure if law enforcement has the funding in order to have the tools necessary to solve a major case. Let's face it - most crimes in Greece fall under the "passion" category, which pretty much means you gotta watch out for your family members because you just never know when they might turn on you. These crimes are often solved quickly, so the headache of meticulous crime solving is unnecessary. But a serial killer? That is a whole new ball game.

For now, I'll trust what the police have to say and assume there isn't a serial killer in our midst, but I do think we'll be avoiding that neighborhood for now.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

All-Vegan Tofu Lasagna

I don't often post recipes, but I thought I'd share this one for tofu lasagna. It is basically an amalgamation of several recipes I've found in various places, suited for our tastes. It totally saves our fasting periods. It is so delicious, even people who don't eat vegan find it delightful. I'm not really used to compiling my own recipes, so the language may be a bit awkward, sorry for that. I'm also not 100% sure on conversions for U.S. products, so I've estimated.

All-Vegan Tofu Lasagna


2 T. olive oil

1-2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

400 gr. (8 oz)jar pasta sauce (I use Barilla Pomodoro)

500 gr. (10 oz) tomato sauce (just the plain sauce, I use Pommaro classico)

1 t. to 1 T. parsley flakes (depending on taste preference)

1 t. to 1 T. basil (depending on taste preference)

1 t. salt

¼ t. pepper


2 349 gr. (almost a pound) boxes silken tofu (you can use regular tofu, I prefer the silken because it has a similar consistency to Ricotta)

¼ lb. soy cheese, grated

1 t. parsley flakes

1 t. basil

½ t. salt

¼ t. pepper

pinch garlic powder

Barilla Spinach Lasagna – 12 “sheets” (these do not require cooking before making the lasagna)

Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius (400 F.). Grease lightly (with Pam or other spray on no-stick product) 9x13 baking dish. Put oil, onions and garlic into large skillet, sauté until soft (about five minutes), then add sauces and seasonings. Cook until heated through.

Mix tofu, half of the soy cheese and spices thoroughly in a medium bowl.

Line bottom of dish with a layer of sauce. Place a layer of noodles (4)over sauce, then top with half of the filling. Dot with a small amount of sauce, then another layer of noodles. Top with the majority of the leftover filling (leave a small amount to dot the top of the lasagna), dot with small amount of sauce, and add the last layer of noodles. Place the rest of the filling, and top with all the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and sprinkle top with remainder of soy cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes, cool for ten minutes, and serve. 8 servings.

*You can easily convert this recipe into a carnivore’s delight by browning a pound of ground beef for the sauce, substituting Ricotta for the tofu and mozzarella for the soy cheese. Both versions are equally tasty.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Out, out, damn cake!

The one recipe that has saved us during fasting times is this vegan chocolate cake recipe, which is so good I actually make it sometimes when we aren't fasting. It is a quick and easy cake, so it is nice to serve last-minute guests when they come for coffee. The catch - I can't, no matter what I do, make it come out of the pan clean. Almost every time the bottom of the cake sticks to the pan. I've tried triple greasing the pan, baking the cake a few minutes longer, having the pan rest on it's side during cooling(which is usually the trick when it comes to getting stuff out of loaf pans), and finally I've tried letting it cool for various lengths of time, from the traditional ten minutes to 20 minutes to letting the cake cool entirely in the pan. No dice. I'm at the point of frustration where I feel like making the damn cake over and over until I can get it perfect. Yea, it is just a stupid cake, but it isn't quite so presentable with it's bottom sheared off.

I just know some of you cooking experts out there must have some tips for extracting stubborn cakes from their pans. Well, I hope you do. It is driving me nuts because I usually don't have sticking problems, and whenever I bake, it just has to be perfect.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


You know that blender I was bitching about a couple of weeks ago? Well, it broke. It fell from the dish drainer into the sink and shattered. I know what you some of you are thinking - it was my passive aggressive way of getting a new blender. But I was actually starting to get the hang of it thanks to y'all's advice. I was making granita and milkshakes and having all sorts of fun. Plus it was part of a set, so we'll have to find a replacement that goes with that model (what a pain). I guess we can buy a cheap blender for temporary use, but I'm bummed. I guess I shouldn't ever bitch about things - this is what happens!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Even in tragedy, hope can be found

It seems that summers in Greece are always full of tragedy – fires and tourist deaths are at the top of the list. I’m appalled at one of the most recent events – the deadly beating of a 20-year-old at the hands of nightclub bouncers in Mykonos. I can’t pretend to know all the details of what exactly happened, but it seems that there was some suspicion that the victim had stolen items from the patrons of the club (I don’t know if there has been any evidence to support this claim) and the bouncers followed him and beat him with what would prove to be fatal blows.

I’ve heard that there are often problems of this kind involving bouncers at clubs on these “party” islands, which is rather inexcusable. Last I heard, bouncers were not able to take the law into their own hands, and if they were, they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to beat people, stolen property or not. I respect the bouncer’s authority to keep people out of the club and to stop brawls within the club (with restrained means) but their authority stops at the door of the club. Hunting someone down is beyond the pale.

I wish I had the grace of this boy’s family, who generously donated his organs to save the lives of Greeks around the country and have shown aplomb in the face of such tragedy. My general feeling is to punish these thugs in the worst way possible (which isn’t death, by the way, that would be too generous for slubberdegullions such as these), and I am afraid that if I were the boy’s family, I would have so much anger I wouldn’t be in a position to make such a decision as to donate his organs. This death was unacceptable and needless.

May Doujon Zammit rest in peace, blessed by the lives he saved in death, and may his family find justice, peace, and comfort in the future.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It happened in Athens

Yes, I survived Athens. The city didn’t actually seem so bad from the 21st floor of our hotel (the pool bar).




Not to mention it was practically a ghost town, with everyone away for diakopes (vacations). We had an excellent view of our old neighborhood from the hotel –


and Thanos went out bright and early Saturday morning and got me some tsoureki from our old bakery (I’ve not had tsoureki quite as good since then). The weather was actually pleasant for July – plus I think Athens is less humid in general than Thessaloniki so the dry heat didn’t seem so bad.


The wedding was beautiful, the bride and groom looked fabulous and the reception had the usual “Greek wedding reception” elements but a few twists thrown in, including fireworks and a buffet. I’ve actually never experienced a buffet at a wedding before. The food was decent and there was something for everyone, yet Thanos and I still experienced “buffet sickness” the next day. No matter how good a buffet is, it just never quite works out for me. Unfortunately, none of my pictures of the reception venue turned out, because our camera is s*#t and it was too dark (same with the interior of the church, I got a couple of passable shots of the artwork inside, but most of it was dark). Too bad, because the place was kinda cool with a modern design, on a huge property among other such venues snug on the slopes of Parnitha.

The flight there was a bit dicey – a delay on the runway because of too much traffic in the Greek skies, and then again mid-flight. Add some turbulence on landing and it was a rough ride. On the flight back I was certain they hadn’t locked the cargo door (we were sitting right over it and I saw it close but I didn’t hear or feel the corresponding kalump) while Thanos rolled his eyes every time I said it. I’m even more amused by passenger behavior than ever. I’m trying to figure out why exactly people have to be first to board when boarding means getting on a bus to get to the plane and the people that get on first just have to wait on a hot bus for ten minutes. Then the minute the plane stops 90% of the people jump up and start gathering their crap only to stand there for ten minutes while waiting for the door(s) to be opened. And what exactly is so hard about finding your seat on a plane? People get on board and it is like all common sense regarding numbers has been lost on them. If your ticket says row 22 you can be pretty sure you need to keep moving towards the back of the plane. Then when people get to their designated seat they stand in the aisle, puzzled, as if not sure what to do next. Sitting down is a good rule of thumb, or at least get the hell out of the way so the rest of us that can count can get to our seats. Honestly, is life really that difficult for some people, or does travel stress just overcome them? If the latter is true, I guess I can’t blame them. I’m sure anyone who knew English on the plane didn’t appreciate my constant chatter about the cargo door being unlocked.

So I guess Athens is ok – if you are just visiting. I still wouldn’t want to live there again, even though I do recall a few good times in the old neighborhood.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Love, life, and homesickness

I don’t know what has been up with me lately. I’ve been a little off. Off kilter, off my rocker, off side. I’m sure it is just a momentary lapse of seasonal dysfunction (that disorder most people get in the winter I seem to get in the summer). A big part of it, however, is good old fashioned homesickness. As an expat you expect a good dose of the ailment once in awhile, although it doesn’t occur as often as I would have expected. It is just that when it does happen, it happens big. I find myself having fantasies of life in America, with a good job and all the conveniences of American life. Hell, I don’t even care where in America I live, anywhere would be fine, as long as it isn’t one of those desert states (my apologies to people who love the desert states, it just isn’t my thing).

But then I think that I wouldn’t want to leave our beautiful house here, and international moves are the biggest pain, and my husband would have to take the MCAT (or whatever the hell the medical licensing exam is called in the U.S.) if he were to practice medicine there, and all the little things about Greece I would miss if I moved back to the U.S. It is weird having this sort of duality about home – now it seems that both Greece and America are “home” to me, so how can I ever pick between them? I can’t even imagine what it is like for expats who have lived in several different countries.

This coming weekend we are planning a short trip to Athens – the city where my expat life started – and I suppose that could be one reason things are coming together in my mind the way they are. I’m sure my parents visit this spring didn’t help matters much either. I dread going to Athens the way most people dread going to the dentist, and to be honest I’d send my husband alone if it wasn’t our koumbaros who is getting married. Not because I feel I owe him, but because I want to be there to share his special day and wish him well as he starts his married life. I just wish he wasn’t doing it in Athens. I can’t really pinpoint why I hate Athens so much, but it might have something to do with the harried-ness of the people there. It was as if life wasn’t being lived as much as endured. That kind of environment can suck the will right out of anyone.

Hopefully I’ll be back to my cheerful, snarky self before too long.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The price of progress

On Monday afternoon there was a lot of hubbub across the street. A big truck with some dubious mechanized equipment was doing something that we couldn't see because whatever they were doing was being obstructed by the giant truck. My brother-in-law went outside to find out what the hell they were up to, and it turns out they were installing new poles to run phone lines to the house up the road from us.

I'm torn between feeling sympathy for the people up the street who seemed to have lived there a mighty long time without having access to a land line and being upset that our view has become tainted by a new wire. As you can see, there were electrical wires already but they were positioned high enough that they didn't cut across our view when sitting on the balcony. Alas, the phone wires are too low to be avoided. Such is the price of progress in our little village.


Monday, July 07, 2008

"So wise so young, they say do never live long"

My first reaction to this story about adapting Shakespeare for children as young as five years old was one of disapproval. I mean, come on, does a five-year-old really need all those “everybody dies” endings? Not to mention plenty of very adult subject matter. I loves me some Shakespeare but I’m not sure it is suitable for kids under a certain age. Twelve was always my guideline for starting Shakespeare, which is why my niece hasn’t gotten any from me yet.

Then I remembered we are living in an era where parents dress their five-year-old daughters up like little sluts for beauty pageants and use the T.V. as a babysitter pretty much from the womb, allowing young kids access to all kinds of inappropriate entertainment. So hell, might as well give them Shakespeare. Add Aeschylus and Sophocles to the list as well. Nothing like a good tragedy to put a child to sleep at night.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

On this day of liberation for the United States of America, I would like to wish life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to people all over the world.

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men.

-H.L. Mencken*

*As spoken to Hamilton Owens, quoted in Guy J. Forgue. ed., Letters of H. L. Mencken (New York: Knopf. 1961), p. xix.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I must be an idiot

Are you not supposed to be able to crush ice in blenders? I always thought that was one of the great purposes of a blender, unless my margarita haze was blinding me to the fact that trying to blend drinks with ice caused broken blades and badly mixed drinks.

Anyway, I tried to crush some ice in our blender to mix with a granita mix, and it just wouldn't happen. The blades stubbornly refused to move the ice at all, in fact, the blade mechanism slid up so it wasn't even spinning at all anymore. It could be that our multi-purpose mixer/food processor/blender is multi-crap (although the mixer and food processor parts work pretty well). I finally got my granita by using one of those bags you fill with water to make ice thingies with tiny, tiny slots for the ice and using that in the blender, but I still had to open up halfway through to push down the ice/granita mixture so it would blend better.

I'm thinking we need a real blender.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I triple dog dare them

An eight-year-old boy didn’t invite two of his classmates to his birthday party. It isn’t exactly an unusual thing, is it? I guess that is why the world is so curious about the fact that the boy’s school has complained to the Swedish Parliament that, by not inviting these classmates, he has somehow snarked their rights.

Honestly - Sweden? The perfect country? The country with a clean environment, safe roads, good pay, bonuses for every child born, and hardcore women’s rights? They are taking it upon themselves to legislate who gets invited to kid’s birthday parties? Sure, sure. The decision hasn’t been made yet. But just the fact that the school feels justified in making this claim – to the point of confiscating the poor kid’s invitations – is a bit, well, pathetic.

The birthday party invite is one of the few great sources of power in the kid world. Whole kid dynasties have risen and fallen based on the invite. The only greater power amongst children is the ability to skip to the triple dog dare with complete confidence. We all know that nobody respects or fears the kid whose parents make him invite the whole class, and why is that? Because if you invite everybody, no one really cares. If the mean kid gets invited to every party no matter what, then he stays mean. You can’t send a message if you invite everyone. You can’t enact revenge on your mortal kid enemy. I realize that not inviting everyone can hurt the kid that doesn’t really do anything but everyone picks on, but hey, politics is politics. People really underestimate how politically charged the life of kids can be.

If the Swedish Parliament decides that not inviting every kid in the class is a violation of kid rights, then the whole power structure of kid-dom will come crashing down. Who knows what will happen next – they might decide that skipping dares is a crime punishable by no television computer usage for a year. What will happen to the children then?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Setting priorities

You know, I'm really glad we have the technology in this world to develop shape shifting buildings like the one they are planning in Dubai, but if we are going spend a lot of time and money on this kind of crap, I'd much rather develop warp drive or teleportation technologies instead.

Honestly, I'm still waiting for the flying cars and Mars colonies I was promised when I was a little girl.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Laugh Maker

I was first introduced to the comedy of George Carlin at an early age – perhaps too early an age to be exposed to his brand of humor. It can all be blamed on my brothers who preceded me by several years and were privy to all the cool stuff you can share with a little sister. I suppose my education in linguistics from Mr. Carlin can be blamed for the fact that I was the most foul-mouthed ten-year-old girl of all time, but to my credit I only used such language when I was really mad – Incredible Hulk mad. To the horror of the parents and teachers of my elementary school I got that mad once during my early years, and let out a slew of obscenities with such fury that not even the threat of a world without puppies or chocolate could stop me.

I didn’t have the opportunity to see Carlin in concert until I was in my twenties, a more acceptable age. It was a time in my life when things were quite bad – I had just gotten out of the hospital after one of the worst lupus flare-ups I’d ever had, a flare-up I attributed to the massive grief I experienced after the sudden death of two friends nearly a year earlier. It had been a long time since I had anything to laugh about. My mother had come to Nashville to take care of me during my two-month recovery, and while I wasn’t quite up to going out that often, she did encourage me when I was excited to find that George Carlin would be performing at the Tennessee Performance Arts Center and agreed to take me.

One thing you have to know about my mother is that she is a woman of incredible grace and decorum who was forced into a life with two crude sons, an even cruder husband, and a daughter who learned more from the men in her life than from her sole female role model. My mother did everything she could to lady-fy me to no avail, but she gave it a good run. Obviously, she isn’t the type of person who would willingly go to a George Carlin performance, but she knew I needed it, and so we went. And I laughed. I laughed like I had never laughed before. I laughed so hard at some things it actually embarrassed my mother, although I did catch her laughing once or twice. It was exactly what I needed.

Thank you George. My memories of you will always keep me laughing, especially when times are rough.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Third world village

When we moved to the boonies I had a few expectations of what life would be like. I knew we would be limited to going to the grocery store once a week, with my husband able to stop on the way home for staples if necessary. I knew our gas consumption would be high, and that planning to go anywhere in the city would always take us at least a half hour (usually more) of travel time. I knew I would see more cows, goats, and sheep than people on a daily basis. I also figured we might lose electricity more often than in town, especially during storms or snowy weather. What I did not expect was not having running water on a daily basis.

Before we moved up here, we knew that during the summer the local water company (which seems like it is run by the municipality, it isn’t the same as what we had in the centre) cut off water a couple hours a day in an effort to preserve water. A couple of hours a day is something I was fully prepared to deal with – it isn’t that long really.

For the first few months of life here, nothing was abnormal with our water supply. We were blissfully unaware of what the future would have in store for us. Suddenly, in February, we lost water for almost a week (thankfully not continuously, we’d get it back overnight usually). This was, apparently, the beginning of the end.

We had a few weeks of normal running water after the February incident, but into March the outages started to be more frequent and more frustrating (usually involving one of us being halfway through a shower when the flow stopped). By the middle of May we were fed up, and my brother-in-law engaged our plumber to install a small reservoir and pump system in the three occupied houses of our compound. So now, whenever the water goes out (which can be 8am or noon or 7pm, one never knows one day to the next) we can descend into the basement to turn on the pump and have water from the reservoir. It doesn’t hold much, so if the water is off for two days straight we’re screwed, but as long as I don’t do any dishes or laundry (things that are oh so hard to avoid because they are just such fun chores) we can manage a couple of days of showers and flushes and hand washing if we need to. Unfortunately, it is two of our cats that suffer the most because they happen to like drinking from the faucet, which I won’t turn on for them when we are using the reservoir (and I shouldn’t turn on for them otherwise, but I’m a sucker for squeaks and enlarged kitty begging eyes).

As before, I keep thinking I shouldn’t be whining about this. I should be grateful we ever have running water and that we have a reservoir when it is off. There are so many problems in the world right now and I’m bitching about a lack of running water. On top of all that, I know we should be using less water anyway as the available potable water all over the world is decreasing. But dammit, I want my water. I just wish everyone could have the luxury of running water.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On randomness

Cheryl tagged me for this meme, I think I’ve done it before but I thought I’d see if I could come up with more random things about myself.

The rules-

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

My Six Random Things-

1. I’ve been thrown out of a Dunkin’ Donuts. I had two accomplices – we were trying to get balled up napkins into the wastebasket behind the counter. It was probably 4am, the place was empty, and the worker was in the back making the donuts. Needless to say, we missed most of the time, and when the dude came out from the back, he was furious. We didn’t realize quite the extent of our mess – what looked like thousands of balled up napkins all over the floor behind the counter.

2. I once mocked an FBI agent to his face. I was helping him make a photo array lineup at the time.

3. Basements scare me. Even light filled, finished basements like the one we have here. Ours is meant to be another floor, with two large rooms, both completely habitable, with plenty of windows. But when I go down there to turn our water pump (which is often, since they turn off the water here every damn day), I freak out, especially at night. I’m not exactly sure where my fear comes from, I’ve never had any bad experiences in basements (that I know of). I suppose it is the uncanny effect of empty rooms and unused spaces. What we aren’t familiar with is terrifying.

4. I was locked in a bathroom when I was five years old. I was with my best friend at the time (I really don’t know why we were in the bathroom together) and we were at her family’s house. All the adults were outside because we were having a barbecue. We didn’t know how to open the window so all we could so was scream and pound at the door until someone noticed we had been missing. We were in there for a good half hour, I think, because our parents didn’t care about us thought we were somewhere playing.

5. I can’t whistle. I’ve tried a jillion times, just can’t do it. It’s hard for some people.

6. Whenever I fly (which isn’t often), I count five minutes from take-off. This somehow makes me feel better, because once I heard that most accidents occur within the first five minutes of flight. Of course, now that I watch Air Crash Investigation with my husband all the time (which is really a bad idea for someone who doesn’t like to fly) I know that a plane can pretty much go down at any time. Still, I gotta count my five minutes.

I'm not good at tagging, so I will break the rules and not tag anyone. Which I suppose is another random thing about me - I'm a rule breaker!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Because if they say it on Fox News, it MUST be true!

Sometimes I'm ashamed to say I'm from Tennessee. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a lot I love about my home state and there are a lot of great people there. But when an official from the TN Democratic Party says publicly that he is afraid Barack Obama might have "associates" who have ties to terrorism because he heard it on Fox News, I have to wonder about my fellow statesmen.

I haven't really talked much about the presidential race because to be perfectly honest, either Democratic candidate is fine with me. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose I would have picked Clinton, because I think a Clinton-Obama ticket might have given the Democrats more chances to possibly get 16 years in the White House. But really, in the end I think they both have the same goals and the important thing - or what should be the important thing to Democrats - is getting a Democrat in the White House. Am I mortified at some of the blatant sexism that marked Hilary's run? Of course. But I'm not surprised either, and I'm sure as hell not going to get my panties in a wad about it. I'm certainly not mad enough to stay away from the polls or vote for the γέρος - I want the Democrats to win.

So for people from my home state's Democratic party to speculate publicly things about Obama that are sure to send some Tennessee Democrats running the other direction (and because they heard it on FOX NEWS), I have to wonder what the party is coming to. I guess now it is starting ti make sense that the party's symbol is an ass.

UPDATE: Hobbs apologized, stating "I should have taken some time to check the accuracy of what I saw on television before speaking publicly." Hmm, ya think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pig in boots

I'm not sure what is more interesting about this story - the fact that a piglet has a mud phobia or the fact that she happily wears tiny little boots to combat her fear. Considering the pig was born into a sausage empire and isn't going to get slaughtered because of its cute little little psychosis, I'm wondering if this isn't just one smart piglet.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I wouldn't dream of it

Here is a picture of the "do not disturb" sign from our hotel on Crete. As you can see, a spell checker was not used before they printed them. I meant to post this earlier, but can you believe I actually forgot about it until I was looking through our pictures again. Obviously, this was quite an inducer of merriment for me and my husband, since we are apparently six years old.


For those of you unfamiliar with crude elements of the English language, turd means poop.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Found money

One of the most common social activities for the thirtysomething professional here in Greece is to gather with a bunch of friends/colleagues at a taverna. I enjoy it because it is nice to put faces to the names of people my husband works with, and for the most part psychiatrists seem to be intelligent, interesting people so I don’t mind their company that much. Typically, a bunch of salads, side dishes, and meats (and let’s not forget the alcohol) are ordered and everyone shares – unlike such gatherings in the U.S. where everyone orders their own dish. It took me awhile to get used to the idea (and get used to non-relatives sticking their forks in the shared plates of food, although not everyone does that, thank god) but now I kinda like it, because it gives me a chance to try things I never would have tried on my own (who knew I loved fava beans?!).

The general agreement when it comes to paying for meals like this is to divide the total evenly amongst the number of people. It seems to work well, I’ve never heard a complaint, even if someone doesn’t drink or eat much, and since it is generally a group around the same professional level, money (or lack thereof) isn’t really an issue because most everyone makes about the same salary. The cost almost always comes to about fifteen euros a person, which is really a bargain considering the sheer amount of food and drink ordered and consumed.

I don’t know exactly how it happens, but every time we put all the money together (after a tense few seconds where everyone wonders if it will be enough) we end up with twenty euros (or more) too much. So every time, we all redo the math to make sure the per person amount is correct (it always is), question if someone didn’t get change if they had a bigger bill, etc., but we come up with nothing. So if someone did get shorted, they don’t speak up. Of course, since I first started noticing this phenomenon, I’ve watched the money collection process very closely – who pays the exact amount, that people get the change they deserve – and there are no errors. So it is perplexing where this extra money comes from, and what to do with it. Sure, we could leave it as a tip, except most tavernas have a 13% or so tip built into their prices, so the general rule there is to leave a couple of euros extra, certainly not twenty. Most attendees regard the extra money as if it is the plague and leave the table, but I assume someone eventually takes it. But where does it come from? Obviously, there is money just walking around all over Greece - probably sad, lonely money – that sees a pile of its own kind and decides to jump on. That is the only explanation. Until I come up with a better one, I will be closely monitoring the situation, because we all know money doesn’t fall from trees.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Happy landings are all alike

For all you airplane fans out there I present to you the money shot of airplane porn - the landing video. In other words, this is footage my aviator nut husband took of our landing in Thessaloniki on our way home from our trip to Crete. All in all, it looks pretty cool to see our fair city from the sky.

The shot is a little weird a bit into it because my husband, brilliant man that he is, decided to turn the camera around to take the video. Thankfully we were able to turn it around with software and it doesn't take too much from the total experience. It would have been better had we not been next to the wing, though.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

For a Phoenix that won't rise from the ashes

Here's to a safe landing for the Phoenix Mars Lander. I'll have my fingers crossed tonight.

I'm so ready to learn what Phoenix can tell us. Will Mars show signs of habitability? I really hope so!

UPDATE: First possible landing confirmation could come at 16:53 pacific time (02:53 Greek time).

UPDATE #2: Phoenix had a successful landing! Looks like Team Earth is finally going to tie the score!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Forget the minotaurs...who wants to see tourists?

Crete. It is an island that invokes intrigue amongst Greeks and foreigners alike with stories of the Cretan mafia, monstrous facial hair, the mystery of the disk of Phaestos, minotaurs, and Minoan castles. Yet, despite its deep cultural and historical roots, it is also an island ripe for tourism. The latter is the island we visited last week.

The travel agency arranging the conference booked us on two flights with two different airlines to get to Crete, which means that what amounted to about 85 minutes in the air took us about 7 hours, most of that time spent waiting in airports. You’d be surprised how tiring just sitting around an airport is, although my husband was quite delighted at the two hours we got to spend on the observation floor of the Athens airport (as evidenced by this photo, one of ten million he took of planes on this trip). We got to Iraklion around 11pm, and thankfully there was a nice comfy bus waiting to transport us to our hotel, which would take another thirty minutes of travel time. During that time we discovered something new about Crete – about every mile there was a Russian sable fur shop, and most of them were still open that late at night! Now, I try not to make assumptions as to what these shops are really about, but I’m still trying to figure out why someone on Crete would wear fur, considering it never gets that cold on the islands. All I could figure is maybe these are discounted prices aimed at Northern tourists on the island. Anyway, apparently Crete has a Russian population, which was news to us.

Our hotel was the Albatros Spa & Resort Hotel, located within walking distance of the conference center in the Hersonissos beach area. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we had a rather large room with a balcony overlooking the pool area and it was quite lovely. Various views from our balcony:




While my husband attended lectures all day, I either sat near the pool (but in the shade, of course) or on our balcony and read or listened to This American Life podcasts while spying on the activities poolside. Apparently, all the resort hotels in this area (maybe in all of Crete or Greece?) have something called “Animation events”, which is basically a euphemism for annoying activities that piss off old people. The “Animation team” at our hotel consisted of two guys who constantly bothered people by the pool to participate in yoga, darts, quizzes, dances, and other wacky activities while blasting a stereo to eleven with the most annoying music possible. One of the guys was rather interesting to spy on, as he was constantly flirting with the sparce population of single girls by the pool. We actually witnessed him going off with these girls, I’m sure it was easy for him this time of year when the majority of tourists seem to be older couples or people with families.

On Thursday night we went to a small village a few kilometers away to meet up with some of my husband’s colleagues at Taverna Sofas:


My husband and I considered going to the archeological museum and the aquarium in Iraklion (I wanted to see the palace at Knossos, but that was out of the question due to the sun and my disabilities – we weren’t sure if it was handicapped accessible or not), but we decided to just enjoy lunches in the shade by the pool at our hotel and strolling along the beach promenade in the evenings, which was gorgeous and quite relaxing.

View from cafe along the promenade



The promenade

As if we couldn't tell....

It was a never ending stream of people watching – and the tourists seemed to come from everywhere, so it was fun hearing a confluence of languages all around us. The tourists there seemed to prefer to not have a “Greek” experience – when it came to food they wanted steak, and most of the restaurants around the promenade catered to tourist tastes with menus that included steaks, pizza, and general types of foods, with very few Greek dishes. The Greek dishes they did have seemed to be “dumbed down” for the tourists, so when we got back home I was clamoring for dinner at a real Greek taverna. I do have to admit that the pizza I had at the “Il Camino” restaurant was quite good, and there was a café called “Dolce Vita” that had excellent homemade ice cream (mint chocolate chip – I was in heaven!). Basically, if you plan a trip to such a place, don’t expect traditional Greek fare. I’d hunt around for some locals to tell you good places to go for Greek food (Sofas was ok and had a Greek menu, but it still seemed a bit “touristy”).

I don’t think I’ve had such a relaxing vacation in a long time. It was nice not being concerned about museum closing times, where we would get a cab, how long it would take to get there, etc., so in a way I’m glad we didn’t plan to do those touristy things, even though I’d love to see the Phaestos disk in person, and I’m still bummed I didn’t catch sight of the minotaur. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vacation blues

There are a few reasons why I don’t like to travel. One of them is what I call post-holiday depression, a terrible low I go through after coming home from a nice vacation. It isn’t that I don’t like being home, quite the contrary. But when your travels have been enjoyable and you don’t often have the opportunity to go away, it is a bit of a letdown when it is over. I suppose it is stupid to use this feeling as a reason not to take a trip, but I’m really not sure if a couple of days of fun are worth a week or two of depression.

To add insult to injury, we were barely back from Crete for 36 hours before it was time for my parents to go home. I had initially thought that five weeks with my parents might be overkill for all of us, but I guess I’ve entered that stage of my life where I realize my parents are definitely not immortal, and the time I spend with them is measured in days and weeks instead of months and years. I miss them.

I promise a more entertaining (and less depressing) account of my trip to Crete along with pictures soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cretan holiday

The hubby and I are headed to Crete tomorrow for a five-day sojourn. The main focus of the trip is so my husband can attend a psychiatric conference, but I plan on having fun despite being surrounded by every shrink in Greece.

Hopefully I'll have lots of pictures to share when we return.

My parents are stuck here to care for our cats. Wish them luck.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cold mountain

When my parents came to Greece five years ago for our wedding, they came at exactly the same time of year, so they kinda had an idea of what to expect weather wise. Since we were sweating to death by the wedding day and were grateful for any air conditioning we could get, they packed for a warm Greek late spring. I certainly didn’t tell them any different, since my experience living here has taught me that things are usually reasonably warm by May, and I actually worried that they might be too hot again like they were last time around.


Instead we have had the coldest late April/early May temperatures I have experienced since living here, and I can almost guarantee with certainty I’ve never been this cold this time of year in my entire life. Yes, we are still running the heat, which I know is a first for me. In Nashville I was usually full blasting the A/C come May. My poor mother has nearly frozen to death, and my dad, who has spent his entire life being too hot (like me) has even complained about being cold.

Since this weather is completely anomalous for Greece and my parents have a history of perpetually rainy vacations, I think I’ll blame them for bringing this unseasonal weather. I hope bet I’ll be complaining about the heat as soon as they leave.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Five years?!?!

Today marks our 5th anniversary of wedded bless, but tomorrow will be our 6th anniversary. How do we manage that? Well, we got married in the U.S. a year before we got married here in Greece. Of course, our American (and thus, non-Orthodox) wedding doesn't really count in the eyes of my in-laws. Five years doesn't seem like very long when all these other people I know have been married 15+ years, but I guess it is a bit of an accomplishment for me, since I usually can't stand to be around people (even people I like) for more than a few hours.

We went to Litochoro for the day, accompanied by my parents. It is kinda weird having chaperones for an anniversary celebration, but since Thanos and I get plenty of time alone together, it was ok having my parents along. I was glad to show them my most favorite place in the world, and of course they were in awe of Mt. Olympus.


I'll be sappy now, and say that anniversaries are no more special than any other day I spend with my beloved. I am definitely blessed with the best (ok, although sometimes annoying) husband in the world for me (not to take away from all the other best husbands other women have).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


My parents have been here for two weeks now and I think their visit is at least somewhat satisfactory. Last week was a whirlwind of museums and constant trips downtown, along with Easter celebrations in the heart of Thessaloniki. My in-laws had invited us to their house in Halkidiki for the holiday, but since my parents had already celebrated Easter there five years ago, I wanted them to experience the superb chanting at the Church of the Acheiropoietas, which is the only church I’ve ever gone in where I have actually felt something aside from the normal discomfort I usually feel in holy places (my short video of last year’s resurrection service can be found here). The chanters there are the best I’ve ever heard – even better than most CDs of Orthodox holy music. So, we booked a couple of hotel rooms at a downtown hotel for Saturday night and enjoyed a quiet Easter to ourselves.

All in all I think it is rather hard for my parents to adapt to life in Greece. They are in their 70’s and the convenience of things in America makes things here seem so much more complicated. Certainly there is some truth to that, but I’ve adapted to washing machines with more than just four basic settings, to hanging my clothes to dry, to shops being closed during hours that might be considered inconvenient, and to stepping around goat turds in my driveway. Of course, some things are our choices, like not having a dryer or a microwave and choosing wood floors instead of wall to wall carpeting. But I’ve adjusted, and in the end, things really don’t seem that much more difficult. Then again, it has been awhile since I’ve lived in the U.S. so maybe I’ve just forgotten.

As to the things they have adapted to, well, my dad has made friends with all the neighborhood dogs, and one of them likes to accompany him when he takes his walks. They’ve gotten to know one of the local shepherds (who apparently speaks just enough English for basic communication) and they’ve learned their way around our little village (my dad was even able to buy some things at the bakery without any assistance). The true test will be when my husband and I go to Crete for five days and my parents will be forced to make it on their own (with a little help from my brother-in-law). I think they can handle it.

I’m just happy to see them, even if my dad has taken over my computer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

File under: What were they thinking?

It isn't uncommon for stores and cafes here to have English names here, and sure, some of them really don't make any sense to native English speakers. However, most of them aren't scatological in nature, like this cafe my dad snapped a picture of while we were out driving around:


Kinda makes you wonder what exactly they put in their coffee.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wuthering goats

My parents are here for a five week Greek adventure, and since my internet time has dropped to nearly nothing, I offer you goats. Goats that quite possibly won't be around after April 27th.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Absolut hypcrisy

Now let me get this straight. The U.S. supports F.Y.R.O.M.’s inclusion into the E.U., even though it is a country that teaches its citizens that the Macedonian region of Greece is “occupied” territory that actually belongs to them. Yet the U.S. gets all pissy about an Absolut ad campaign in Mexico that shows an early map of the United States – with all the territory Mexico once had.

I do love my country, but before the U.S. starts getting it’s panties in a wad about this, they should remember that most of the U.S. could be considered “occupied” territory, not just by Mexico, but by the American Indians and even by Britain. So I dare the United States to claim they don’t understand Greece’s objection to F.Y.R.O.M.’s NATO bid, when they can’t even accept an advertisement that depicts a historical map and the hopes of Mexicans who wish they had never ceded all that land.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Quirky meme

I've been tagged by Jay3gsm, EllasDevil, and Kat for this meme, when I’m tripled teamed it is hard not to comply.

These are the rules:
1. When tagged, place the name and URL of the tagger on your blog.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 7 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself?
4. Name 7 of your favorite blogs.
5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged.

Write 7 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself:

1. I love disaster movies, especially circa. 1990’s made-for-TV ones. The worse the script and the acting, the better. I’m lucky I live in Greece because the Greek channels have managed to get hold of all these movies and play them on a regular basis.
2. I eat pie filling first, pie crust last (this applies to traditional U.S. type pies, not Greek pies)
3. When I’m scooping the litter box, I pretend it is a game of “find the treasure”, except the “treasure” is nothing you want to keep.
4. I love vacuum cleaners. We have two, and the AEG Vampyr is my favorite.
5. Whenever I eat anything with a wrapper, I fold the wrapper up into a tiny little square and sit on it until I get up to throw it away.
6. I am obsessed with weather details – wind speed, temperature, forecasts. Doppler radar makes me swoon.
7. I check the EMSC (European Mediterranean Seismological Center) site twenty times a day and try to find patterns from earthquakes that occur in Greece.

Name 7 of your favorite blogs (none of whom I am officially tagging, unless they wanna):

1. American in Athens (already tagged)

2. This is Not My Country (already tagged)

3. EllasDevil (already tagged)

4. Rice, Beans, and Pastichio (already tagged)

5. Nicole in London

6. The Vol Abroad (who has the cutest of the cute babies)

7. pitcherlady

Monday, March 31, 2008


O lost, and by the wind grieved – ghost, come back again.

Thomas Wolfe
Look Homeward, Angel

In loving memory of Jeff, Drew, and Sherri, and others all over the world who have had their precious lives cut short at the hands of drunk drivers.

Please, don’t drink and drive.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fasting? Why suffer?

Last night I had the strangest dream. In it, I was eating the most moist, delicious chocolate cake I had ever had. In the middle of the cake was a thick layer of chocolate cream. I could taste every fabulous bite, and it was so good I didn’t want to wake up.

Nothing lets you know you’ve been fasting too long than dreaming about cake. I never dream about food, so I know it was a side-effect of an extreme lack of chocolate. Of course, the first thing I did online today was search for vegan chocolate cake recipes. I found one that had a high rating, and decided to try it. It may just be the dessert recipe that saves this fasting period. It definitely deserves the four and a half star rating, and it is easy enough to make I’ll probably make it instead of traditional cake even when we aren’t fasting.

God bless the internet. I've found so many delicious vegan recipes, fasting has become a fun way to try new things that become a regular part of our diet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Indepedence Day Ellada!*

Your freedom from the Ottoman Empire was a long time coming, so the start of the revolution in 1821 was a shining moment for Greece.


*For anyone who doesn't know much about the history of the War of Independence against Ottoman rule, go to EllasDevil's post about it here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Go Bruins!

Well, my alma mater's basketball team has once again made it to the NCAA tournament (college basketball, for those who don't know). They are going against Duke tonight, which is a hard team to beat. Still, win or lose, they've done Belmont proud.


EDIT: Final score, 71-70 Duke. Must have been an exciting game! The Bruins had the win in their sights, and gave Duke a run for their money.

Happy Ostara (Vernal Equinox)!

The first day of spring has finally arrived after an ingloriously cold winter. Unfortunately, the weather up here on the mountain is 40 degrees (5 degrees Celsius), rainy, and foggy.

Still, we caught our first glimpse of the newborn sheep the other day, as they made their way with unsure steps up the mountain to graze. Still a little wobbly, most of them clung to their mothers, but several showed their playful sides. I was too mesmerized by all the cuteness to think to take a picture.

Here's hoping for a Spring full of bloom, peace, and wellbeing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Greek bloggers against discrimination

As soon as I was old enough to understand the concept of sexuality and homosexuality, I was a proponent of gay rights. I had enough homosexual and lesbian friends to recognize that they were treated unfairly by the majority of society. We can hope the times have changed, but in Greece homosexuality seems to be dirtiest of dirty words, thanks to ignorance and religion.

Currently there is a lot of buzz in Greece about a domestic partnership law that would give certain rights to unmarried couples living together, however, it explicitly discounts same-sex couples. Greece is way behind in the European Union when it comes to rights for same-sex partnerships, and it is about time all these voices are heard.

From gaysuperhero and Devious Diva:

(English translation follows)

Στην Ελλάδα οι γκέι, οι λεσβίες και οι τρανσέξουαλ γνωρίζουν από διακρίσεις. Τις αντιμετωπίζουν καθημερινά στην οικογένεια, την κοινωνική ζωή και τον επαγγελματικό στίβο.

Καμιά φορά όμως φτάνει μια σταγόνα για να ξεχειλίσει το ποτήρι.

Σύμφωνα με δημοσιεύματα του τύπου το Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης ετοιμάζεται να καθιερώσει ένα "συμβόλαιο συμβίωσης" ΑΠΟΚΛΕΙΣΤΙΚΑ για τα ετερόφυλα ζευγάρια. Δεν θεωρούμε ότι ένα απλό "συμβόλαιο" μπορεί να λύσει τα ζητήματα των ζευγαριών ίδιου φύλου, ούτε να εξασφαλίσει την ισότιμη μεταχείρισή τους. Πιστεύουμε όμως ότι η προτεινόμενη διάκριση είναι κατάφωρα αντίθετη τόσο με το ελληνικό Σύνταγμα όσο και με τις ευρωπαϊκές συνθήκες για τα δικαιώματα του ανθρώπου. Πόσο μάλλον όταν 18 ευρωπαϊκές χώρες ήδη παρέχουν νομική κατοχύρωση στα ζευγάρια ίδιου φύλου.

Σκοπός αυτής της πρωτοβουλίας είναι να ενημερωθούν σχετικά οι ευρωπαϊκοί θεσμοί, οι οργανώσεις για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, ιστοσελίδες και ιστολόγια σε όλο τον κόσμο. Αυτό που ζητάμε είναι ίσα δικαιώματα για όλους. Τίποτα παραπάνω, τίποτα λιγότερο.

Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα μείνουμε σιωπηλοί. Αυτή τη φορά δεν θα κάτσουμε με σταυρωμένα χέρια.


In Greece gays, lesbians and transexuals know about discrimination. They face it daily from their families, in their social lives and in the professional field.

But sometimes, all it takes is a single straw to break the camel's back.

According to press reports, the greek government is preparing to introduce a domestic partnership "contract" EXCLUSIVELY for unmarried heterosexual couples. We do not believe that a mere "contract" can resolve the issues same-sex couples face or ensure their fair treatment under the law. However this discriminatory proposal is a direct contravention of the greek Constitution, as well as european human rights treaties. Especially since same-sex couples already enjoy legal rights in 18 european nations.

The aim of this intervention is to make sure that european institutions, human rights organisations, websites and weblogs from around the world learn about these proposals. What we ask for is equal rights for all. Nothing more and nothing less.

This time around we will not sit idly by. This time around we will not keep silent.


Στην πρωτουβουλία ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΜΠΛΟΓΚΕΡ ΕΝΑΝΤΙΟΝ ΤΩΝ ΔΙΑΚΡΙΣΕΩΝ συμμετέχουν το εξής ιστολόγια / the following weblogs participate in this initiative:

Όποια ή όποιος δεν βλέπει το ιστολόγιό του στη λίστα παρακαλώ ας επικοινωνήσει μαζί μας!

Τα θερμά μου συγχαρητήρια σε όλες και όλους! Είστε απλά ανεπανάληπτοι!

Για την πρωτοβουλία μας και την αντίστοιχη πρωτοβουλία της οργάνωσης ΟΛΚΕ για τον πολιτικό γάμο έχουν ενημερωθεί (με την πολύτιμη βοήθεια του Πολύχρωμου Πλανήτη) οι εξής οργανώσεις και ιστοσελίδες του εξωτερικού:

Human Rights Watch
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
All Different All Equal
The Task Force
Washington Blade
COC Nederland
Gay Middle East

Επίσης τα περιοδικά Advocate, Tetu, Gay Times και Gay City News, το Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης, όλες οι μεγάλες ελληνικές εφημερίδες και όλοι οι βουλευτές του ευρωκοινοβουλίου.

'Οποια ή όποιος έχει κάποια άλλη πρόταση για οργανώσεις ή ιστοσελίδες, ας επικοινωνήσει (υπάρχει τυποποιημένο κείμενο επιστολής).