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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

He shall be missed

Nevada - Arizona



Last year's cisco sales meeting took place in Las Vegas. For various reasons, that I am not going to bother you with. Las Vegas in August is not only boring, but torturing. After you spend 2-3 days dazzled by the sizzling neon lights and thinking: wow@! amazing, how could they make them so big, and in the middle of the desert..you start thinking: right, yes, let's move on to something real.

Now, there are people that adore Las Vegas. Truth is that had I gone any other season I might like it myself. But in the middle of august with 50C outdoors and the only thing you can do is hang around blackjack tables, well it was getting into me.
What is good about Vegas is that you can still see Tom Jones (yes, that was the highlight of my week there), and have fun with friends.


Most americans go to vegas to drink, smoke and have unsafe sex as 'whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas'
Whatever. Most people admired the themed hotels, which were an architectural miracle but I was really appauled that there were some cheap imitations of Venice and Paris.
In any case, it is worth going to Vegas just to see what money can do - a lot of money - if poured into the desert.

Well, the good thing was that after teh sales meeting a friend from the office, Mary, and myself had organized to stay a bit longer to go to the Grand Canyon, only five hours drive away.



Talk about amazingness. There is nothing that can describe what one feels when in the edge of the canyon. We arrived there at about 5.30-6pm. The sky was darkening and the Indian that was in charge of the tickets told us that usually in the early evenings there are thundrestorms so we best not set off for the night. We had the choice of either going down the canyon that same night or waiting for the morning, only that if we would go in the mornig we would not be able to go all the way down, as it was not allowed to go down and come up the same day. And we had to leave the following night to get back in Vegas to catch the plane home
We did not toss a coin as we were both too tender feet (if you ever read

Lucky Luke you know what that means) so we decided to go to a town nearby, sleep and set off really early to go down as much as possible.
We drove for about 10-15klm in the midst of a forrest, the Grand Canyon National Park. During the ride we noticed several trees shot down by thunders but the fires were not spreading due to the Rangers that were looking after the forrest (hallo???, Greek Government????)
We arrived in a small indian town, run by indians. Actually the whole Grand Canyon business is run by Indians. They have arrived in some sort of arrangement/agreement with the US government where they dont have to pay taxes as long as they stay within the Canyon area. (HALLO...they used to live there a looooooooooooong time ago)...Anyways.
We dined at the restaurant of the hotel where there was a shop before the restaurant with wonderful indian artifacts. Dinner was simple and they served no alcohol. We had some chicken nachos and some salad with coke. I asked for a beer (without thinking) and the young boy who was serving us was really surprised by my request and answered to me in a very polite manner what I should have known: We don't serve alcohol ma'am. I bit my tongue. I knew, but forgot. Well, no alcohol would not do me any harm
Next morning I wake up at 5.30am. I get up, take a few shots at the sunset and hurry Mary up to go to the canyon as fast as possible. We are there at about 8am - after breakfast, shower, phone calls, etc etc
So we are in the South Rim, the most touristy but also safer area (the path is the wider and less steep)

Whatever people might tell you about the Grand Canyon it is true. What I had not realized is that the feeling is completely different from looking at it at above and going down. Not unless you decide to go down these rocks, do you understand its size. Really. The further down we went, colors changed. Not only that, but the more we went toward Colorado River, the more we understood how big it was and the more we understood that the Canyon is full of life. It is not a set of rocks, but it has its own ecosystem that it is completely autonomous! No wonder so many Indian tribes had gathered around it. Also, if you have seen Indian shapes like the Greek meandros in their garments, they represent the various shapes of the canyon rocks.
The Canyon was formed over the last 250million years if not more, due to the flow of Colorado River. Actually the one thing I would like to do again in my life is to spend a week or so in the Canyon, were you leave by canoe from the South Rim - once you go all the way down - to the North Rim which is more beautiful, wild and steeper.
The further down we go, the rocks change color in geometric symmertry to represent the various geological layers.
Trully amazing, spectacular, unbelievably gorgeous and inviting!
We spend about six hours hiking down and up, going down took us longer because I was taking pictures all the way. We only managed to get to the second reststation and then head up again. That was only because of the time constraints. One thing for sure, is that I am going back to the canyon. Las Vegas maybe never - besides I've already seen Tom Jones now - but the Canyon, definitely


The only other time that man can realize how small we really are is in the middle of the vastness of the ocean. The Grand Canyon also has that effect on you, but also imagine if we could look at the depths of the ocean, how small would that make us feel. And how powerful to be able to explore it. Of course for the Indians, the Canyon was more than their home. It was the home of their Gods, their Olympus.

Monday, 29 September 2008

LOG BOOK Day 21

Over the last weekend, the Great Fear, became really small. I was afraid that my non smoking would not last in a clubbing atmosphere. It did. The truth is that clubbing did not last long as Mamacas on a saturday night is packed and leaves little room for breathing. So I did not stay long. Yet, I had two drinks and did not even think of lighting up
So far so good

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN



She was named the queen of pop. After what I experienced last Saturday at Athens Olympic Stadium, I thought that this title does not give her justice. She is the Queen of Music. Without any doubt in my mind, not any iota of hesitation, I vote for Madonna as the top specimen of human perfection - in any area she chooses (bar acting, of course)

Madonna, at her 50s, she has a better body than most top models today, more toned triceps than any female athlete that has participated in the recent olympics, a face that would make a lot of 28-year olds rush to their dermatologist's for their first botox, a stamina that most marathon runners would envy, a voice that keeps getting better as years go by, dance moves and choreography that made you think you are part of an MTV video clip as there were a lot of physical laws defyied.
All in all, it was worth the wait since May to see her. I would love to see her again and again
She played - she performed rather as this is the better term - songs that date since my highschool years to this year's grooviest tune. She paid her respects to some of the great music trends that she subliminaly served on and off during her career: she had a romanian gupsy band playing wonderful music; she let her band perform on Eurythmics' sweet dreams transforming their infamous electronica beginning to what can become the most-time enduring dance anthem; she danced duets with Justin Timberlake and her good friend Britney Spears who appeard on the giant screens behind her. She hip-hopped most of her old pop songs, she folked her dancier tunes, and she rocked the place up during the last half hour where she appeared with her electric guitar, in a Slash-hat (only pnk-white insted of Guns'n'Roses guitarist fave black) to what I am hoping pre-announces the Queen's next transformation to a rock Goddess. And behind all these, there was this ever so uplifting sound of an electronic baseline that absolutely kept serotonine levels sky high

She has made me, in one night, reconsider my beliefs about royalty and worship Her Grace. Ave Madonna!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Quote of the month

"Give me $700 billion, or I'd hate to see anything bad happen to that nice economy of yours"

US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Log book day 17

NO SMOKING, OF COURSE

A tradition that went sour



In a shocking afternoon, chaos was spread all over a country that so far was not known for massive killings. Killings that reminded of Columbine in the US - if you have not seen Michael Moore's documentary do so.
Finnland was known for Santa Claus, Nokia, its fishermen, some turkish sounding villages, its high suicide rate, its quiet people and in general all the cliches that apply to a nordic country.
What was not known for is that it is the third country in the world with the highest civilian gun ownership (1.6m guns, first two are the USA and Yemen). A 15 year old can buy and own a gun provided there is parental concern.
All guns must be accompanied by a license. The answer is simple you might say: Stop giving kids guns. Well, yes agreed. But I am Greek and with the same nobrainer attitude I could also ask a Brit why do they need royalty? "Tradition" would the answer be. So would be for gun ownership in Finland. The hunting lobby in the country is among the strongest, and there is strong tradition in family bonding hunting excursions in the dark cold north Finnish woods.
However the killing yesterday, second to an equally appauling high-school massacre by an 18-year old last year, makes country population to start reconsidering.
Now, the question is whether the government will afford to take the huge political cost of abolishing this liberal attitude in gun ownership or whether they will just send condolences to the victim families. Remains to be seen.
There is also another issue that arises from the latest unfortunate massive killing statistics. Finland was one of the top countries in suicide. Mainly due to depression. Mainly during winter months, for semi-obvious reasons. The winter is just starting and Finland has at least another 8 months to go.
Tradition is good only when it serves the community. It would be stupid to stick to it while people die. Fullstop.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

LOG BOOK DAY 16

NO SMOKING

Monday, 22 September 2008

Post mortem regulation is not enough

The two remaining ultra mega financial institutions Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, are now protected by the government. Tougher restrictions on the type and nature of transactions and they will now be engaging in more traditional and safe funding sources: deposits from ordinary people and businesses. It will be much more expensive for them now to borrow large sums of money for further financing and there will be more due dilligence when borrowing is to take place. They will now have to behave more like banks rather than free standing investment institutions. Now they will have to play a different ball game and compete more with banks and have less opportunity to grow via corporate lending
Question, if the banking and financial institutions are now planning to be financed more on individual and private business deposits, these individual and businesses should be able to have some money to deposit.
Perhaps saving the goliaths is not enough. Perhaps the government should start thinking to have better unemployement benefits. With so many large corporations going bankrupt, there will be hundreds of thousands of former big spenders with no income to spend nor save. Perhaps the biggest aid that the US government could provide to its economy in crisis is the stability of ensuring money flow. Over the last few ten years, america was going out of its mini-recessions because of consumer spending. Perhaps if consumers had money they could help this time once again

cavo video

Myconos clubbing snapshot. In this video, Danny, Vicky, Zeta, Fanis, Yiannis. Nice. Zeta might need to say farewell

Remembering some good old house tunes

Sunday night home with friends after a vafristia evening and a washing down the vaftisia experience at kolonaki, home with friends trying to find some good old dance tunes. The winner is...Tori Amos

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Log book day 10

No smoking. Thinking about it, but no smoking

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Darker Monday

As a home owner, my biggest fear would be to lose my flat. My second biggest fear would be to see its value drop. Middle class Americans unfortunately experienced both these dreadful situations this year. The economic crisis which was caused by the energy crisis, budget deficits, natural disasters among other things, caused a lot of companies to downsize. Not everyone found a job. Not paying the mortgage - with current legislation - for more than a few months gives the bank the right to forclose the house. Even if the owed value is a tiny fraction of the original loan. So many Americans this year not only lost their jobs, savings, in some cases spouses because of the upset, but also their homes. The one thing that they have been working their life to built was taken for them. Losing a home sends an unberable strike to the ex-owner.
In the midst of that crisis, banks and other financial institutions that gave loans saw an opportunity to make a quick buck. They foreclose the houses of the unlucky ones and flooded the market with low cost but high quality housing through auctions etc.
What this created was a bigger drop in house prices, stock price collapse of institutions that had loans/insurance tighed to mortgages and Wall Street's strongest quake since the Great Depression leading to $700bn losses in one day!

Unfortunately it is not over yet


Now, I can not help but think of the following points:
1. The banks and other financial institutions lay their bed so they should sleep in it. Had they not flooded the market with low cost housing this would not have happened.
2. Usually those who pay the dearest price are the ones with the least resources. Once again proven right. Unfortunately!
3. This clearly shows the need for a new type of legislation to be imposed on banks so that they can not forclose a house if someone shows inability to pay for a period of time that can be prolonged given circumstances. Banks can afford to wait. People should not have to live on the street.
4. Loans should not be that easy to give away. Having a social security ID should not be just enough!
5. I never really liked money markets. In my opinion they are largely a hot air bubble that is easy to manipulate.
6. Although I am a fan of a deregulated market, in a Smithonian laisser faire-laisser passer approach, there should be some frame that maintains a minimum level of contigency plan for people in need. Otherwise the social divide between the rich and the poor will increase and totally unregulated capitalist societies such as the US will end up being completely bi-polar. Some measures have been taken after the disaster but there should be some preventive mechanisms.



And of course I can not help but wonder:
When McCain and Palin say that the economy improved over the last 8 years and that they shall continue to work on the same successful recipe, which country's economy were they referring to?

About skin color


Will Smith is both good looking and a good actor/singer who also happens to sell. Ever since his early Prince of Bellair days. Since then, his career moved to the stratosphere and has enjoyed a lot of comic roles. They suit him well too. So when any hollywood producer would like to think of superhero who is really funny - not that preppy - he would seem a good choice.
What I don't get is why in the Hanckock poster, and in all the official photos, his skin has changed color. One of the two key reasons why Mr. Smith is that goodlooking is his genes. The other is the hours exercising - and moisturising no doubt. Why would the marketers deny him (and us) the most significant characteristic of his beauty - and of course personal identity? Why would they have turned him white? Sure his skin is not as dark as perhaps a Kenyan but on his poster that has filled the streets of Athens - and I am sure many more capitals around the globe - he looks white. I am not mistaken, there is a lot of pink in that photo. Not swedish, but white. I know a lot of white people that are darker than how he appears on that poster.
Even if my life depended on that, I could not have recognized him. I had to see his name written on the poster. Why did they have to do that? Incomprehensible. Does it matter if a superhero is of African origin? And why would he approve that to be the official poster? Money I would assume (to be honnest, I would change my skin color too on a poster for a fraction of what Mr Smith pocketed). Why, however, has not anybody raised hell about it? Isn't there any organization protecting the rights of African Americans? There are organizations protecting the rights of every possible inerest, why isn't there anyone to tell these guys off? How can they get away with tihs??
If for the success of a hollywood blockbuster the hero needs to change his skin color, can you imagine what political marketers might ask from Barack the remaining few weeks?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Log book day 8

No cigarettes. A few beers. A bit more food than usual. Keep myself extremely busy. No cigarettes!!!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Amy went away



One Thursday last November we had a meeting at the SOS adespota Vrilission. Back then we used to hold our meetings on Thursdays. I was told that we had rescued a dog that was eaten by a rodweiler but had to operate her and she would be left now with 3 legs. It was only a week that we had lost a little dog - a thibetan pekinoise - from being beaten by another dog to the chest. Instantly I thought - my god we can not have that again - so I volunteered to take her in until she got better.
She spent all of November and up until Christmas inside the bathroom as she was too scared to go out and be around anyone, dog, cat or human. She started slowly to come out of the bathroom mid December.



She had to take antibotics and would have to wash her twice a day with Betadine - her face was getting really bad. She got psoriasis. More antibiotics. More betadine washing. I also had to wash her once a week with a stinky thing that was a medication for the psoriasis
By February she was a doll. So cute, everyone would cuddle her as she slowly started not to fear people or other dogs and sit with me for a whole night watching TV
Then her social life had a steady improvement and she was going out for walks at least twice a day. At the SOS bazaar, she was the star

She also loved playing. Especially with Klelia. She also loved the snow. Would not like to come in untill her 3 paws froze.

Everyone felt for her and she loved the attention
She has been a keen sportswoman and desite the amputated leg she was running in Dog-Bolt levels. After all she was named after Amy Palmeiras who is a speed champion for athletes with a disability, she is also an olympic champion.
This is what Amy was. An olympic champion. From being too scared she became too social and extremely playful. All the other dogs would love to play with her. Klelia, my other dog would literally take her in her arms to sleep in the winter and Zizou would keep licking her.



Lately she was not doing well. Despite the treatments, the attention, the medication, the special diet. She was worsening. In the picture below with Frankie who also left us on Aug 15th...I hope they are with each other cuddling right now

But today, I came home from work and as she was playing with Klelia, her eyes were bleeding. Instantly I knew, it was time. I took her at the doctor, told her goodbye and almost blind from crying I left. She tried to follow me. This made my eyesight even poorer. Dora, a frind from SOS is going to be with her for her last moments. I am waiting by the phone as we speak. Lis, the doctor who all this time tried to save her life told me that there is no hope. She is still playful and she is still standing but from now on she would be suffering. At least so far she has not suffered. It is one of the hardest things I have done. But the thought that she would be suffering till her death was worse than deciding to put her to sleep. At least I did not let her suffer and I gave her a good year. I wish I could have saved her, but sometimes death is just the natural course. Unfortunately we can not escape this fate. What we are mendling with is the timing. And the quality of our last moments. Goodbye Amy, sleep well.

....I just received the call from Dora..it is done. She is sleeping

Thursday, 11 September 2008

In loving memory



from http://www.mcclatchydc.com

This stuff makes me want to buy a cam recorder

Log book day 4

Day 4 and so far the most difficult. Had a huge fight at the office with my manager and despite the need to light up remained calm, went to the pre-scheduled meeting where we both had to attend and then went home, snoozed for an hour, took the dog for a looooooooong walk and now back to take all of three of them for a shorter walk. The urge went away and a feeling of pride filled my chest.
Still not off the hook, I know, but I feel a big step was done. good stuff

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Log book day 3

I only thought about smoking once today and dismissed the thought very quickly. Have refused 2 invitations to go drinking and one to go clubbing tomorrow. Have organized dinner plans instead. Must avoid all smoking-focusing related activities for at least a couple of weeks. I am determined, but it is harder as night approaches. Last night I was cleaning the house until 2am to make sure that I would not relax and ask for a cigarette. I keep a pack at home to make sure that I will resist when I go out and people smoke. I feel strong, but it is still to early to tell.

Nights are really bad. Friday will be a nightmare. Usually it is the first 5 days to get rid of the addiction from the body and about 5 weeks for the phychological. The truth is that the days are easier not even to think about it. The nights are getting harder and harder. You see the longer one stays without smoking the weaker the memories of how awful it felt and the less compelling the reasons that propelled the need to stop. I should know. After so many times I 've quit I have been through these stages frequently. 72 hours now. Day 4 is only a few hours away. Must stay longer on the treadmill. At least I am not constantly chewing on the endless amount of chocolate I would stored in previous attempts. Not even one bit :-)

Where does matter come from?

Today is a huge day in science. Definitely its brightest, and that's not a metaphore. Switzerland's CERN (centre europeene de recherce nuclaire) launched an experiment that had 0.01% chance of creating a black hole which would swallow the earth in a nano-second. The probability was too low and the success of this experiment would replicate the creation of the universe a billionth of a second after the bing bang and will eventually answer a lot of questions about matter and its origin; perhaps its destination as well.


Hence, scientists were happy to take the bet. Hopefully, the experiment was successful and we are still here.


I will follow up wiht how the experiment is going.
It is of course the top story of bbc.co.uk website and of course cern's website with live webcam (greek newspapers are mainly concerned with Thessaloniki exhibition and which party leads in the new polls...as if we really care!!!)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Log book day 2

Now I am in second day without smoking. Impressed with myself last night as the small voice kept asking me to light up. But I didnt. Not impressed about today yet as I never smoke in the morning. Strange thing is that I still have that foul sense in the mouth as if I had smoked last night.
What is different already is that after only 24hours of not smoking I can get out of bed in a second no headaches not heavy arms and legs and start my day.
Must definitely put that in the reasons why I must keep off

Monday, 8 September 2008

Quitting smoking

I've been recently entertaining the idea that I have been smoking for just over a year since I had last quit for a few months. I have been again reading about ways and tips to help stop. Things that I have read and re-read. To be honnest of all the things I have tried a combination of hypnosis and increase in cardio-vascular activity helps the most.
Cold turkey I think is for people with a more stable - and stubborn - personality than mine. I am too prone to just forget anything, spill the milk container and 'just let the good times roll'. Too immature, I know, but it helps to come to terms with it rather than be deceited. Guilty! I do like a good glass (if not bottle) of wine, and lots of vodka when I go clubbing. This goes hand in hand with cigarette smoking...
One way that has helped me in the past is become obsessed with it. Instead of not thinking about it, thinking about it ALL the time helps. It helps in quiting but obsession is known to elevate depression levels... The good thing is that after so many guilts and quit attempts, my body rejects smoking, even the smell of smoke before 2pm. Of course last time I quit I had not gone out for about a year. Ok perhaps the weddings and christenings I could not avoid, but not clubbing, not bar hopping, nothing really fun. Fun in that sense.
Everytime I try to quit, I almost succeed until I go out partying - an activity which involves drinking (the reason I can not quit during holidays).
So I think the only thing I have not tried is to entirely stop drinking alcohol. This I have not tried in the past. Every expert in smoking cessation claims that we should not change the way we leave. BS if you ask me. It does not work that way. The moment the first drop of alcohol comes into the body the resistence threshold takes a free fall. Spending saturday nights without any alcohol or tobacco, that sounds like a bigger challenge than running/walking the marathon under 5 hours. And hooking up with people that don't smoke means that I have to make new friends as all my friends smoke. Or at least the friends I would like to go out with.
The truth is that I am feeling too weak - biologically I mean - lately and given the amount of workload both from the office but also from personal stuff, I think I have no other way to go. On the other hand, the reason why I have been feeling good is because I have been going out much more during the summer than last winter.
The reason why I am writing on this blog about it is because I think it will help to kind of keep a public journal about my smoking curve. We shall see.
At this moment, I am still obsessed by it, still unjustifiably too tired, but determined to step on that treadmill and determined not to light up today. Oh, BTW, I have an almost entire pack by the side of this laptop at this very moment as I type. I figure instead of trying to avoid any sight of it or being in places that people smoke, come to terms with the fact that I will always be surrounded by cigarettes, I just have to decide not to take the first puff.
For the moment it works. Let's see how it goes later in the week...I shall take every day at a time and I know that there will be better days and not so good days. Every day will be a separate effort. Every hour if you ask me...
Okidoki, off to the treadmill

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Saving Elvis

On Friday I found myself walking amongst graves in Halandri graveyard. My oncle died after being in the hospital for 2 months where doctors kept him artificially alive. He has had a really bad life during the last ten years, but I must say that this was mainly his fault. When he was young he suffered from neumonia and generally had bad lungs but he has been smoking since he was 10 until two years ago where he could not. During the last 10 years he has been living due to an ogygen bottle that had become a body member. But he would still smoke!! Despite numerous warnings from doctors and beggings for his family
So on Friday he went to his final home. Not sure if they smoke in heaven. If not he is in for a really bad eternity.
But for another creature, my ocle's death meant that his life was spared. As I was walking to where my oncle's grave was, I saw a few kittens on the way. And one of them was too small, too skinny, too blind, nearly dead. Plus an older kitten - male - would kick his butt.
You can of course imagine what happened next. I took the kitten in. Got him to the doctor - by now I can tell whether they are boy or girl even if they are really small. The doctor did not think that the kitten had many chance of survival. His left eye had a serious infection, he was too skinny, full of flees, and possibly a nervous fatal disease as he could not stand still and kept falling. Nevertheless, I took him in. In a way I wanted to make up for a kitten I had found outside my house before I left for Paris - I called him Frankie due to his gorgous blue eyes - but holiday and all, did not take him to the doctor on time and poor Frankie did not make it. This time I had decided that Elvis - that's how I named him - was going to get the best treatment possible. The doctor told me that I would have great difficulty in feeding him as he was too weak and had to get special powder milk and kitten bottle to feed him etc etc. Guess what. The moment I took Elvis home, and sprayed with some anti-flee dreadful substance and cleaned his eye and put some eye cream and fixed his room (he is living in the cat carrying box) and gave him some baby food (kitten soft food) to eat, he just dived inside the box and he stopped only when his belly touched the floor.

So much for him not making it. Within two days, his eye is almost fixed, he is climbing around his box, and he is very lively, shows healthy signs of innate cat curiosity, has a great apetite and as you can see from the photo below a strong interest in ICT. Not to mention that I called him Elvis due to his strong vocal skills :-)

I have also found a home for him and once he gets really better he will go to his new mummy. I am really happy about saving Elvis, only very sad that couldn't keep Frankie alive as well.

beach books 2008


In a previous posting I mentioned the Magus, the first summer book I read this year. (by summer books I classify the books I read on the beach or boats/planes in general during holidays)
Two more books I have read on the beach are one of Kundera's first attempt to write and the first novel of a new author who can easily become my role model (an american NY laywer who retired and lives permanently in Myconos)
Kundera's 'Komikoi erwtes' (les amours comiques) is a collection of short stories about love affairs - or people thinking about love affairs - that in their majority ended up in breaking up but the entire approach is witty and contains Kundera's unparallel almost black humour.
The book was written between 1959 and 1968 and are published in 1970 and therefore are considered his second book. It contains seven stories through which Kundera describes seven different states of mind, seven different main personalities who are troubled by issues that he will later explore in his entire work. A must read and if the reading takes place on a chaise longue, cooled by the sea breeze, the experience becomes ever so enjoyable - rating: 5 out of 5
The second book I am mentioning here, Murder in Myconos, is as I said written by Jeffrey Siger, a NY famous lawer who has been coming to Myconos for the last 25 years and has decided to become a permanent resident. Needless to say that it was the title of the book that cought my attention. It is a police book, typical for summer reading - only for summer reading I must add - not the best literary pages I have read as it is extremely poor in giving personality profiles. It does give though a fantastic description of the island of Myconos and it is fun to read. The book is strong in the policy story script as the killer is not obvious until the last page. Publisher is Lalaouni editions (!) as Mr. Siger is a Myconian - hence an athenian - socialite by now. I think it could be an ideal summer movie, of the kind that they have fast police chase, good looking girls and insane killers whose motives are never really revealed as the author does not bother to get too deep. Having said all that, I did stay up reading until 3am to finish it as I wanted to find out who the bloody killer was. I believe that the main characters will return for follow up books (possibly murder in athens or something like that) - rating: 3 out of 5 (and that's mainly because of Myconos)

La recontre au bord de la Seine

After popular demand, I will very briefly describe an incindent during my strolls in Paris. As I was walking from l' Institut du Monde Arab up to Notre Dame for the photo shoot I came across the bookstands. As you probably know there are so many bookstands of used books and comics and all related items that people can buy or just have a look. There are people that make a living out of that and they are some of the most parisian figures. We don't pay much attention but we would probably wander where they went if they decided not to set their mobile shops there again
As I was approaching Notre Dame then, there were two gentlemen talking to each other and obviously each owned a 'shop'. So I walked up to them and asked them if I could take a picture of them in front of their stands for my photography class.
Then the dialogue was so hilarious and the approach of the older guy so strong that I had just had to go as quickly as possible, bursting into laughter, but not before I took his picture :-)

'Excusez-moi messieurs. Pourrais-je vous prendre une photo devans vos livres?'
'Ah, vous travailler pour quel journal mademoiselle?/
'Non, pas de journal les photos sont pour mon plaisir'
'Vous etes sure? Vous n'allez pas utiliser mon visage pour un film porno?'
'Ah non monsieur'
'En fete, on n'a pas jouer dans un film porno nous deux? vous ne souvenez pas?'
'Ah non. Je vous assure'
'Mais si, comme meme, on a bien jouer ensemble'
'Et mais non. Je vous remercie, messieur, bonne journee'
'Attendez...'

Needless to say the other guy, could not stand a straight face and was laughing. So was I, all the way to Notre Dame

I am sure this guy will live a long time. No stress and a day full of joking around. I know a few people that he could become their role model. Lol!! It definitely was my funniest encounter in Paris though

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sea Lebrities family at Pier 39




Fisherman's warf in San Francisco is listed in my San Francisco Rough Guide as the top tourist destination of the city, one of the top attractions in the entire country despite the fact that is probably the cheesiest part of the city. I agree
Yet, there is a reason for it. It is the home of a few hundreds sea lions, or "Sea Lebrities" as they are endearly coined by the marina staff. The boisterous barking pinnipeds started arriving in droves, taking over the docks in January 1990 shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a few months. Each winter, the population can increase up to 900 sea lions, most of which are male. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south to the Channel Islands for breeding season, but in recent years a small group stays year-round at PIER 39's K-Dock. Staff from The Marine Mammal Center’s Kiosk, located next to the sea lions, are happy to inform visitors about these fun, flippered animals. Each weekend, weather permitting, the Center provides volunteer docents at K-Dock who explain sea lion behaviors and answer visitors’ questions.
I 've spent a beautiful hour watching these sweethearts and I can tell you that they are grouped in families, the babies are always close to the mother and the dad is not far away.

Young adults are engaging in courtous activity and it is indeed so captivating to watch.



They are clearly accustomed to the attention and photographic clicks as they sunbathe on the docks without seeming to be bothered by the hundreds of tourists and amateur photographers flooding the area at any given time.
I was lucky enough as the weather was beautiful and I had the chance to stay for a long time to observe them. They are extremely playful, even if at the begining one might think that they just lay under the sun being lazy (like me in Naxos). But they are not. They keep jumping in and out of the water and it is remarkable how high they can jump! They bite, caress, talk, even kiss each other and of course protect their kin from strangers. How lovely!
Next time in San Francisco I am definitely spending more time there and if I can try to get some more info from the marine mammal's center kiosk and perhaps do some volunteer Saturday work in caring for them.

The happy animal lover/photographer


How sweet!!!



PS: I would like to thank Marc, my friend from Cisco France, for coming with me, being patient for the hundreds of pictures I took along our stroll, and that he took a picture of me as well :-). Marc, j'espere que tu as bien aimer aussi.

James Blunt at the Fillmore




One of the best things in SF this time is that I got to go to a concert. The upside was that it was unexpectedly good. I suggested to hubby Dominic (a very good friend from Cisco UK), to go and attend a concert while there. So he found great tix for James Blunt at half price.
Blunt's band although known for slow and lounge songs, really rocked the place up.
He really enjoyed it as he got his own camera out at the end, thanking us for being there as it was his first major gig in the US. He had previously played at the Fillmore but as a support to Sheryl Crow.
It was a great night out, not to mention that the Fillmore is a historical SF venue where all the major names of the music history now and then (60s love period) have played.

I wish James and his band a great long career and definitely buying their albums

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!

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