Sunday, February 24, 2008

Absolutely fabulous


I'm sure a sunset so beautiful is the result of some deadly toxins in the air, but such things still take my breath away.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I’m probably the only dorkus in this part of the world who stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse (it peaked at 5:01 am our time), but this is the first time in a really long while that I’ve had such spectacular views of the sky from my own place of residence, and I couldn’t resist it. I was hoping to get some halfway decent pictures and video of it, but our camera is not really eclipse quality, so the moon, which was as big as life to my naked eye, looked like a tiny little dot through the camera, and once the eclipse peaked all you could see through the camera was darkness. Of course I had to drag my husband out of bed once I realized the pictures wouldn’t be so good, because honestly, how often in life do circumstances come together so perfectly for you to view such an event? He actually didn’t mind, and came out to the balcony with me quite willingly.

Normally the moon lights up our balcony quite brightly, so much so that the street lights are rather inconsequential, but when I went out a few minutes before the peak of the eclipse the darkness took me a bit by surprise. I had a few minutes of unnecessary panic early on when I wondered if it was indeed ok to look at a lunar eclipse directly (because if it wasn’t surely I would be blind any second), but then I thought to myself, “you can look at the moon, dummy, why can’t you look at a lunar eclipse?” That is just one example of the mindless drama that goes through my head on an hourly basis.

For what it’s worth, I did take a couple of pictures and here is the video I took of different stages of the eclipse. Just don’t expect anything spectacular.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The devil wears mithril

Remind me never to bitch about anything here on the blog again, because it seems as soon as I do, things just get worse. We just had the coldest weekend yet - I don’t think it ever got above freezing. Somehow we managed to miss all the snow the rest of the country endured, which is a miracle, because it seems we always have snow up here when no one else does. But the cold was bad enough, and the one time we ventured out every swear word known to man involuntarily poured out of my mouth as some kind of defense against the sub-freezing wind (it didn't work).

Just as well, though, because it gave us the perfect excuse to stay inside all weekend and finally try Lord of the Rings Online, which we got for Christmas but couldn’t play because dialup and MMORPGs just don’t mix. My husband and I are both quite fond of computer games of all types, but we have a weakness for the role playing variety. We both beta-tested Everquest way back in the day, and continued to play for quite a few years, until World of Warcraft took all its players away. We eventually caved in and played WoW ourselves, but it didn’t last, and so we continued our search for the perfect MMORPG. We beta-tested Everquest 2 and Vanguard, and while both had some strong points, they just didn’t have that lasting quality we were looking for. So we finally decided that, as fans of Tolkien and MMORPGs, we should try out LOTRO.

So far, I think we’re hooked. Now, we’ll never give as much time to a game as we did in our peak EQ days, but LOTRO is fun, easy to play, and has beautiful graphics. I’m not sure how strong the community is, which was one of the best things about EQ, but we’ll see. The quest storyline seems to lead down a Tolkienesque road, and the world is filled with lots of places in Middle Earth we know and love. What more can a geek ask for?

So if I disappear for long periods of time, it is probably because I am in Middle Earth, doing my best to protect the world from the evil Sauron. Or something like that.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dog's breath

My life in Greece has included what I consider to be mild winters. Not that it was never cold wherever we happened to be living, but it wasn’t usually sub-freezing, witch’s tittie cold. Sure, we had snow, but it never really felt that cold. In fact, I am almost sure that I never encountered temperatures low enough to make my breath visible – until this winter. It doesn’t help that our little mountain village seems to invite frostier temperatures than the city by the sea – even in the four miles between Panorama and our home the thermometer can drop as much as five degrees Celsius, which can sometimes be the difference between cold and losing feeling in your extremities cold – but I think even Thessaloniki proper has been colder than normal, or at least colder than the two previous winters I’ve spent here. We’ve had honest to goodness, stick to everything snow here four times, which surpasses the one or two crappy snowfalls I’ve seen (ok, we did have a really good snow when we lived in Litochoro, but only one), but when we tell city folk we are snowed in, they inform us it is only raining where they are.

I’ve always been one of those people who is too hot (in fact I think my first words involved a complaint about the heat), but here in our new house I find myself constantly freezing (even with our heat set to an over generous 21 degrees Celsius – sorry environment). Every once in awhile even my husband is cold (and he shares my overheated sensibilities), but usually he is sweating while I am still chilled to the bone. It is getting a bit tiresome, because sometimes even a nice blanket and a couple of cats can’t warm me up fast enough, and honestly, for someone with a rheumatoid illness being cold all the time does not help with joint pain one little bit. But the pain isn’t really the issue – the problem is that I have actually become one of those people I used to mock, those perpetually frozen, shawl bound people that constantly complain about the temperature. This behavior must stop, and so for the first time I find myself longing for the summer when I can swelter miserably in an air conditioner-less house, and the breath of the neighborhood dogs no longer bursts forth in strong foggy puffs when they bark.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Finally...we have ADSL!!!

Apparently we've had it for a few days but our ISP never bothered to notify us. Stupid us, I guess we should have been plugging the stupid modem in daily to check, but we were expecting line noise to tip us off (our old ADSL line had horrible noise without a filter).

In celebration, here is a picture of a sunset as taken from our balcony. Our camera isn't anywhere near as good as our old one that was - ahem - lost when my husband went to Wales, but you get the idea.

Sunset January 18, 2008

Now I get to catch up on blogs and download every stupid viral video that has caught my eye over the past four months. I think I'll be busy for awhile.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Suburban life

Not having ADSL is bad enough, but this week we endured five days of (mostly) no running water. By mostly I mean we had it for brief periods, usually overnight, and without much water pressure. Calls to the water company promised a fix on Wednesday, but the water cut off at nine in the morning Thursday and did not come on again until five this afternoon. Unfortunately, our usage of bottled water shot to all time highs (hey, you gotta wash somehow). Since we can’t flush toilet paper and I’m one of those “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” types, I thought maybe we could survive without flushing, but it seems that too much yellow over too long a time leaves a not so mellow smell. Honestly, I don’t think hell smells so bad.

Sure, I sound like a bit of a princess who can’t deal without steady running water for five days. But there are reasons developed countries no longer have widespread cases of certain diseases, and one of those reasons is running water and the resulting improvement in hygiene. It did make me appreciate the water all the more when it came back on, but it also made me realize how hard it must be for people in third world countries who don’t even have an expectation of running water – people who don’t have the luxury of buying bottle water to do their washing up and cleaning. I guess an argument I’ve heard is “they don’t even know what they are missing since they’ve never had running water” but I don’t really think that matters. What matters is the ignominy of living in a 21st century world where there are plenty of countries that have the means of providing third world countries with the infrastructure to get water to villages that have none, but because it is an expensive and unprofitable venture, it doesn’t happen.

Anyway, it is good to have the water back again. I’ll try not to take it for granted anymore.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Just what Hello Kitty needs

An assault rifle! Usually I'm loathe to load pages with heavy images on it these days, but this one was totally worth the 15 minute wait.

I think the U.S. military should overhaul all their weapons and equipment in a similar manner.

I knew that some day Hello Kitty would rule the world.