Sunday, December 11, 2005
On the left we have the dough rising after the first knead, then cooking and on the right the final loaves. I love home made bread. I love the yeasty smell and the whole house filling with bread smell as the cooking draws to a close. I love the taming of the fungus. It lives and dies so as to make more of the dough.
We got the two loaves I made today here. Left picture is immediately after kneading, middle picture is after the dough has risen as far as it will go and the right hand side is the final cooked product. The top has the TE sign from Linear A/B inscribed - my initial but also a good shape for getting the crust to separate. The bottom loaf was not very well put together and opened up in the final rising stage - not a problem for the final product though. I have tried it and it's great!
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Bucovo milled pepper is still being used slowly and little by little. Some of those two meters of peppers on a string were used but at some point all that remained had become so grimy from sitting around in the kitchen and the time had come to throw them.
Rather than let them go without a fight, I took some seeds from the dried peppers and put them in cotton wool in a yoghurt pot. I did this at the beginning of September, knowing this is the wrong season but fully prepared to move any plants indoors during the winter for their protection. Within a few weeks there was a forest of sprouts in the yoghurt pot and I moved the whole cotton plus shoots assemblage into a proper flower pot with soil. This happened a few days before the accident which incapacitated me.
Every other day or so, Korinna would bring in the plants for me to have a look at them. They were growing, all stuck together in a clump the poor things and I was bedridden and couldn't transplant them. Out of the large number of seeds which I soaked in the cotton, it feels as if they all germinated - or that the non-germinators were w very small percentage of the total.
Time passed and one thing led to another - I still had not transplanted the shoots which were now at the stage of development where they want to get a second pair of leaves out. Some of them still had the seed sticking together the original pair of leaves - which was interesting.
Last week (weekend 3-4 December) I brought some flower pots and soil home from the place near work. First step was to remove the shoots from their flower pot and separate them without tearing the root systems of individual shoots to the extent that this was possible. Next I planted about four or five of the strongest shoots into each of the four flower pots I had bought and patted them in. Next, seeing as there were about that many shoots left again, I put about ten each into the flower pot currently housing the avocado and the olive tree. Obviously the ones in the avocado and olive tree pots will not be brought in if the winter gets too cold for them.
They have been out of their original pot for a whole week now and seem to be thriving. Fingers crossed for some nice and spicy food come the spring!
Here they are, one week on… the top photo is the same shot as the double pot in the earlier shot. The other two are the guy in the avocado pot and the olive pot respectively.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I had an opportunity to go up to Rimnicu Vilcea in August 1999 for the eclipse, but didn't take it up, being satisfied instead with a piece of welder's glass and a partial eclipse of about 70% in central Athens.
The last total solar eclipse visible from Greek soil was in 1936. At that time, the parts of Greece from which the 2006 total solar eclipse will be visible were not yet part of Greece but under the control of Fascist Italy. The islands in question were handed over with the rest of the Dodecanese in 1948 as part of the reparations after the second world war.
The plan is to go to Megisti / Kastelorizo to sit under the moon's shadow for the first time in my life.
In the map below, the higher red line is the northern limit of the eclipse, the lower one is the central line. Megisti should get about 3 full minutes of totality.
The problem, of course is the "unproductive line" element of the whole thing. There is, not surprisingly, no direct connection to Athens from Megisti for the island's 275 inhabitants. There are no regular boats, and the plane goes via Rhodes. All this coupled with the fact that the eclipse is on a Wednesday means that we have to go out for more than just a few days.
More news and updates as the situation changes and becomes clearer.
Friday, December 02, 2005
One of the benefits of tidying is that various things come to the surface - memories usually, but often also tangible things connected to them. We opened a box while preparing for the party which revealed, amongst others, a video tape of a recording I had made off the TV about twenty years ago.
It was a film I had not seen for close to ten years, maybe more. The recording had been made in the mid eighties, off ITV, complete with advertisements for cars that look ancient and everything else that was being sold in the 80s.
I hadn't realised that there had been a whole discussion of the "is Decker a replicant?" issue. At some point, I caught wind of it, but I don't think I had seen the film since hearing about it, which made last night's viewing all the more interesting. The film stands up very well today. It was odd seeing it again now, knowing too that along with everyone else who is most definitely dying soon for whatever reason, I am too. That is for another day's discussion, though.
Tidying brings to the front the tangible reminders of our past existence. The role of the black and white photographs on Decker's piano is played for me by more than 30 cubic feet of packing boxes still waiting to be removed from their party-time hiding places and sorted. Do I need them? I don't know.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
At some point on Saturday - a week before the party we were looking like this:
Mess and gunk and boxed chaos, everywhere. Very little space in which to hold a cocktail and chat.
By the next day, things were looking better, with more floor visible and more boxes although still sitting in the room menacingly, now empty. You can see a set of jugs and stuff on the bookcase now, a trip down memory lane… some of the very first ceramics I made. The number of school books and youngsters toys that I unearthed that weekend was actually quite annoying. Why had I never thrown any of this shit out before??
By Thursday before the Party - late at night, like about 3am, we had managed to get everything open right up to the balcony. We even opened the balcony for the first time in almost two years - a mistake as it turns out as we had water coming in and trying to attack vintage copies of 2000AD magazine (featuring Judge Dredd!). Fortunately, nothing was damaged.
Friday night, we had the shag pile rug down and everything clean and ready to rock. A ridiculous amount of work went into this. There is still a great amount of rubbish in boxes hidden away in other parts of the house now.
And here we are in sunlight conditions…
In the other room, we had laid out the shag pile rug from Wednesday. This had come all the way from Romania for a ridiculously small amount.
And so Saturday morning - we woke and looked into what we would be serving everyone and how all that would work out.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I get the knot in the stomach whenever I think about these things - the knot which is two steps away from watery eyes. It is not fair. Oh no. The Floyd, or more precisely, Waters talks about being "shown how to feel good and told to feel bad".
I drive myself totally mentally motionless with the rushing around of the ever decreasing spiral of thoughts - I want to get out of this lifestyle, but if I do, how the hell am I going to pay for the feeding and clothing of children (let alone their schooling and what have you)? I want a new car: where the fuck are the payments going to come from if I quit the life?
Unlimited wants and limited resources - every economist's bread and butter.
Except that my wants are not unreasonably unlimited. At least I don't think they are.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
It's been quite exciting going through all my junk in the dining room to get space opened out for the party.
I haven't had a party for more than five or six years. Very excited.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
At least the rain should keep the anarchists off the road a little.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
I have often felt this way groupie - I don't know who you are, just stumbled across your blog some days ago. Your provider does not let people outside comment on your posts otherwise this would be up on your blog, lass. Anyway - I have often felt this way like I said. Never did manage to summon the mental strength required to leave. I took the easy way out: I just don't care any more and try to get by without dying of boredom, you know? Will leaving give me a more fulfilling life? Possibly. There will be more to write about this whole thing - tonight is my last night before going back there for the first time in six weeks. I have spent only three of the last twelve weeks at the office what with holidays and injury and still I have no appetite to go back there and listen to all the bullshit which just turns me off the work I do. I work in a service industry and it annoys me when the bottom line is more important than the service offered - you see this so often. I try to make my work as good as it can be for the client and then I hear or see things which annoy me.
Anyway - groupie, you are not alone... but then again, I think you know that already.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I am still in a fair amount of pain, although it is very manageable and serving more as a reminder than a warning to desist. I cannot walk yet. It is tough with friends, family and work not understanding exactly how hard a sprain this was. The physio identified the damage done based on what he felt, what I told him about the circumstances of the fall and how it all felt.
I have until 4 November officially off work. Hopefully by then I'll be in a position to drive and walk and On 28 October and for a few days we have the Panhellenic Speleological Meeting in Kardhitsa Prefecture - it is to be the largest meeting and the first with official representation from foreign clubs.
I have nothing to say about the lost Turkey.
Nor about how they are breaking my balls with advertisements for toys every evening.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
St. Mark's is meant to have been constructed on the same size and plans as the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. This was another of Justinian's exercises in supersizing Constantine's churches. While we can still see three of Justinian's churches in Istanbul today, the Church of the Holy Apostles fell into disrepair and was already in ruins at the time of the fall. It was taken apart and used as spolia by the Ottomans for their Fatih "Conqueror" mosque. There are very few churches of this size and floorplan still around, and now I was getting the opportunity to look inside a church with the floorplan of the Holy Apostles, and with mosaic decoration, which should also give an idea of what Justinian's church was like.
On entering, I was struck by the size and spaciousness, but that was all. What disappointed was the mosaic work. Compared to the works in Constantinople of the same time, or even of Palermo, what I saw in St. Marks left me with a feeling that I had been cheated. The hype was such that when I got there and craned my neck up, I felt unsated. It's not so much the workmanship on the figures themselves so much as the programme - there are great empty spaces of gold ground which would have been so much better filled with vines, tendrils, geometric shapes, and the like. I was not prepared for so much gold ground and unimpressed by it when I saw it. No doubt the Frankish knights of the fourth who came to ask for carriage to Alexandria in the very early thirteenth century were suitably impressed by this show of gold. I wouldn't have made a good Frankish knight.
Speaking of which, we visited both the treasury and the Pala d'Oro, and then the space on the upper floor with the horses and an exhibition on the history of restoration work. The balcony gives an impressive view over the square and across to the Lido. The horses gave mixed emotions, as I wanted to believe that I was in the presence of a Pheidias original, but the exhibition texts talk of first or second century creations. We will never know. These horses in front of me are those same ones which Porphyrius the charioteer and Theodora's father raced around when they sat on the spina. No doubt some of the Nika rioters would have died with these horses as the last thing they saw, while being charged down by the horses of Belissarius' cavalry. Noise - the statues lived surrounded by noise in the mother of cities, and now they had the quiet of St. Mark's and the hushed voices of the passing tourists to keep them company.
I have highlighted a little original building-work peeping through here in the side of St. Marks.
Leaving the cathedral, we picked up our bags which we had been asked to leave just off the little square of the lions. We began a westwardly stroll without any destination in particular, intending to reach at some point the Rialto Bridge. We passed many art exhibitions which seemed ridiculously overpriced to us, especially the Turner whose works one does not pay for in London. I am not sure which way we went and how we eventually go to the Rialto Bridge, but we ate at a restaurant near the theater on the way, called al Teatro, which was decent enough, without being something overwhelmingly special. There were building works going on nearby which started up with their pneumatic whatsits soon after we started eating and the staff were very apologetic, despite it not being their fault at all.
The Rialto Bridge area was very busy with tourists and locals alike. I was fascinated by the mareometer on the main vaporetto stop which barometer-like recorded the height of the sea throughout the day. I had read about the flooding and read the posters outside St. Zacharia showing flooded Venice, but since all the days we were there the water seemed to be quite low, nothing drove it home more than the mareometer, except perhaps the "moss-line" visible all over the town about half a yard above the sea level. This is a green line on every wall in the city above which the wall is normal, and below which grow mossy sorts of plants which give the impression of the sort of plants which need to be in water to survive.
It was here at the Rialto area that I decided to talk to one of the gondoliers as we were still debating with Korinna whether or not to take one of the 60 Euro rides.
We walked about town after dusk and nightfall and stopped at a café which really did seem to be patronized by the locals. They had the Eraclea Antiqua brand hot chocolate, to which we are both very partial and we sat reading here until we decided to get on a boat back to the Lido. We did the Grand Canal by night this time, having walked up a little distance in the day and returned to the hotel.
We had supper in a pizzeria up the central perpendicular street which starts at the vaporetto stop. The pizzeria happened to be almost full of an American school group, but the pizza was good enough.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
In the end the passports were not needed for the crossing, nor was my green card for the car requested by anyone. We had 31 hours in the boat and I spent the time reading up a little on the destination. Fortunately it is possible to sleep for much of the 31 hours without having to alter your normal patterns. The boat sets off at about midnight and arrives at about seven or eight in the morning.
The arrival time was planned to be at about seven local time, and I learned that this is arrival at the entrance to the lagoon, not actual disembarkation time, so we had an opportunity for breakfast in the ship's canteen as we entered the lagoon. By the time we were passing the Doge's palace and St. Zacharia stop, the twilight had become bright enough to see Venice passing gently before us. They say that Venice should be approached by sea to appreciate the city - I have no recollection of approaching it any other way, so I'll just say that the approach by sea is special enough for me not to want to arrive any other way if I have the opportunity to go again. They say the same about Istanbul as well. I will have to wait and see about this.
By the time we had moored, the sun was up and colouring the lagoon and the city in a golden glow which was increasingly beautiful as we disembarked and made our way to the ferry service for the Lido. We got a three day pass, plus a return trip to the Lido for the car and went back past St. Zacharia and St. Mark's with the sun shining onto them from the sea. The three day pass allowed great freedom of movement and a carefree attitude to direction taking - it did not matter to be on the wrong boat, because not only would we see something unexpected, but we would not need to pay to come back. It also came out quite economical as the cost was less than individual trips to the three outlying islands which we made.
On the Lido, we stayed at the hotel Giardinetto, which is very central on the Lido, twenty yards or so from the vaporetto stop for St. Mark's and decently priced. We did not have a view of the lagoon, but some rooms in the hotel do. We took the car to the Hotel Park, a few km to the south which has an agreement with the Giardinetto and left the car there for the next three days. Coming back on the bus - ferry pass is good for travel on the buses too - we set off straight for St. Mark's arriving at about ten am. Amazed at this uncharacteristic efficiency in actually getting from A to B I was pleased that we had a great number of hours of sunlight left for walking around.
The plan was to see as much of Venice on this first day as possible, see Torcello on the second day as a day trip, and to see anything else in Venice which took our fancy on the third day, after watching the Befana Regatta.
We walked past from the St. Zacharia stop to St. Mark's square, past the hordes trying to look at the bridge of sighs, which were a little bit of a turn-off. I very much enjoyed the sculptured capitals on the columns of the Ducal Palace. They were something unexpected, and I have no idea when they were carved. Within no time at all, we were face to face with the tetrarchs, staring out of their new perch in all their porphyrean glory. It was moving to finally stand next to and dare I say it, touch this sculpture which was in my Latin books at school and about which I have read so much since school, and there they were. We asked a passer-by to take the canonical shot of us embracing like tetrarchs in front of the tetrarchs, but the passer-by cropped it in a way which shows that the visual echo was more a duck's quack than a fully-fledged yodel.
To be continued...
I'm alright, I'm a bloke.
But seriously, it's here - allegedly. If the news is to be believed we got bird flu on this side of the border now. Some
I ain't had my flu jab yet and there's been mass illiterate panic buying by people who think one will protect you from the other. Bollocks bollocks bollocks - I'm in the high risk group idiots. Not only that but I know that the jab won't cover this year's flus but last year's.
The news channels are all blowing things out of proportion - I have no idea what is being said about the bird flu outside
Ignorance is bliss buy consume spend panic suckers!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Then Si let me know he was safe, although he's always at work so early no nasty terrorist is going to get him at the time of day he goes to work.
Then Ali told me she was in Manchester and therefore out of harm's way and then it took the Captain most of the day to get back to me, but he's OK and so's his friend.
Phew! Not sure I know anyone else who does stuff in and around the city. Shittymess!
Friday, July 01, 2005
Day 1 was spent on getting to know the first hill essentially. It involved Aya Sofia / Aghia Sophia, the outside of Hagia Eirene, the ground floor and Byzantine rooms of the archaeological museum,
an unsuccessful attempt to identify what's left of one of the oldest churches in the city (in the copper workers' quarter), followed by a walk around yerebatan sarnici - the basilica cistern, the blue mosque plus hippodrome
and finally, the garden in front of the church of Sergius and Bacchus (kucuk aya sofia camii) which is undergoing pretty extensive looking renovation work.
We began day 2 with a trip to the pera and the galata tower, followed by a walk across the galata bridge to the new mosque (Yeni Camii), the Egyptian Bazaar / Spice Bazaar, where we bought a whole lot of cheap saffron. Next a taxi ride up to the Gul Camii (St. Theodosia) and a long wait for midday prayers for finish so I could have a look inside. Next up to Eyup Sultan Camii area where we learned why the little boys were wearing those funky outfits.
We tried to get into Yedikule, but were turned away on account of the rock concert going on that night, so we took a cab to the wrong Imrahor Camii, later discovering the right one was locked (St. John Studios) so we returned to Serge and Bach (rhymes with shake-and-vac) for some hookah smoking idleness.
On the third day, we made it in to Yedikule, and also went to the monastery of Constantine Lips (Molla Feneri Isa Camii) where we bumped into a mullah leading a Koranic class in the apse of one of the two churches. We then walked to the Kiz Tasi (the column of Marcian), and from there to the aqueduct of Valens, St. Polyeuctos (which was not what I had expected) and ended up having an icecream break right where Theodossios had built his agora / forum, opposite that bath house which is falling down but has the bits of column sculpture in its base. Next up was the covered bazaar,
the burnt column (Constantine's column) and a night trip to Asia by boat (return by cabbie).
The final day was more relaxed, beginning with the mosaic museum, we then went off to the Suleymaniye
via the kalendarhane mosque. At the Suleymaniye we also visited the turbes of suleyman,
his witch wife and his master architect. We then went shopping up and down the main street - the mese. We also had a walk around Binbirdirek sarnici and the myrelaion / bodrum camii environs, before finishing up at our favourite spot in the garden of Serge and Bach again for more hookah.
Exhausting stuff, oh yes.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Friday, June 17, 2005
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Monday, June 13, 2005
If you know what to look for you can see the dam on the left. You can also spot the pill box over to the left there. The lake was like big-time important place during the war, and still is to a certain extent on account of the fact that it was (is) the (a) major source of the city's drinking water.
So Korinna won the scrabble match - again - with a well placed z and a well placed psi. We're probably going to go back there as it was a pleasant enough place.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
So, the time has come, almost a full ten years on from the graduation ceremony, to take my desmond to the Greek authorities and have it registered. My feelings on being awarded one need to be told at some point but it is too much to write easily and I intend today to write about why it is necessary to have the desmond acknowledged by the Greek state.
I will be making an application to the UOA to read for a Master's degree (woo!). For this to happen, I have to have a degree from a university recognized by the Greek state. Fortunately I do have one of those - the aforementioned desmond - but how do I prove it? Well, to prove it I have to go to the nice people at DIKATSA and show them my degree and a ton of other documents and then they take a year to figure out whether the fekking university which gave me the desmond is on their list of approved universities. Then I get a bit of paper saying that, yes indeedy, my degree is from a recognized Uni. They then need me to sit a bunch of exams to give me another bit of paper which shows that my degree is as well-heeled academically as the equivalent degree here. Finally, they will not be able to certify anywhere that my desmond is worth the same as a Greek degree gotten with a grade of 65%, and this because I cannot get a transcript with my grades in every piece of written work I ever did.
It was a sportsman's desmond, anyway.
Anyway - I have the dilemma of choosing whether to have the degree recognized as equivalent to a literature degree or an archaeology degree. It's a little bit of a no-brainer, really. Ah but then they get to tell me that I ain't done any papers on Byz. stuff and that I have to sit a bunch of these - which would be fun in a general educational sort of way.
So to re-cap - they can certify I have a degree with just a bunch of papers I am collecting and €120. They can certify I have a classical archaeology degree if I sit a bunch of exams. They cannot certify how good a degree it is unless my Uni breaks with standard practice and sends them transcripts that they do not make.
I am going to keep all informed about how progress with my attempts to do a Masters degree go.
Friday, May 27, 2005
So one of the hints he talks about for getting started is weighted (gravity+) pull ups. He then writes, like, don't do this unless you can do five sets of fifteen pull-ups with three minute rests in between… Hmm. And then he says if you cannot do five consecutive pull-ups at all, there's something else you got to start with to build up strength.
And so, gentle reader, this is where today's title comes from. I went home, sat myself under the chin-up bar determined to do the pre-requisite five consecutive pull ups so as to be able to proceed with the training plan for building to five sets of fifteen. Up went the hands, gripping the bar and up went the legs, suspending me below the bar.
OK - so I didn't really try that hard, but it was clear that I was not going to be doing five consecutive pull-ups.
This time back in 1992, when I was just getting my release papers from the Greek Army I could probably have done the five sets of fifteen without a problem. Wouldn't it be grand to be like that again? OK, so I like have some thirteen years extra wear and tear on me and of course the whole chronic illness bollocks to deal with, but wouldn't it be just great to be 60 instead of 74 Kg, and to be able to do pull ups and to wear that favourite pair of shorts again? OK, who's with me on this? Let's set targets: by the end of the year (six month target), back to 60 Kg (lowest ever since the highest was 56 Kg, but that just ain't natural) and I want to be lithe and supple again.
In April last year I would have said, "yeah, dream on, fat-boy" but now things are different.
PS - title slightly influenced by the fact that I am going tonight to see Episode III.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I got a vest to wear from the states - paid a shedload in customs charges for the honour of having it shipped over. Remind me to rant about customs at some point soon. It's too early in the year and in the day to need to wear it on the way to work - I usually come before the temperatures get too high. Once here though, there is a fine line between annoying the cow-orkers and suffering too much and it gets crossed at exactly this time of year and we've crossed it.
I don't mind the sweating. I don't mind the feeling exhausted so much. Both these happen anyway, from time to time. What I do mind is when my right foot goes numb because of the heat doing what it does. The numb right foot acts as a reminder. "Hello!", it says, "you're going to die. I am your memento mori, sucker!"
It's no hassle to have the foot freak out when other parts are also arsing me around too - it's expected. It's when it's the only thing wrong I get annoyed. No L'Hermittes, no other numbness or tingling - just the numb foot. Grrr.
It's the bloody heat which set it all off. All winter I was fine as a fine thing - now the summer is coming I am not looking forward to it - and it seems to be about to be a very hot one. Must go caving then, I guess.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I haven't been in Romania for a bout three years and feel rather more rusty on the language front than I dare admit.
Anyway, I had a few chances to walk around a bit in the evening and have three little panoramas for you all. The first is the "It" building just after sundown. The House of the People as it was so grandly named by old Nic is, according to lonely planet called just "it" by the locals…
We walked through the park to the right to go eat and walked back past where Nic gave his last public appearance in December 1989:
The final pic is from the morning before setting off for the airplane again:
The town seemed cleaner and fresher, with more vitality and optimism than back in 2002 when I was here last. Things are looking up for 2007!
Clicking "View image" on the panoramas will open a slightly larger version.