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.