Saturday, 29 November 2008
A Ridley Scott movie is always an interesting film to watch. Middle eastern troubles, the remote big brother watching the moves of field agents, people getting killed, the good arabs, the bad arabs and the good americans with their nasty habbits.
Overall a good action movie, deals with the ugliness of the war on terror, how the americans, how the arabs that fight and how the arabs that just happened to be born there see it and try to survive
I really enjoyed the movie. Great casting, great directing, great story. Absolutely worth watching in a theater
What is interesting though is that in all hollywood-produced spy movies, the good arab always looks more european. Funny, ain't it?
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
On Friday, November 21st, the French socialist party voted for their new first secretary. Martin Aubrey led Segolene Royale by 42 votes. Sego contested the results and there was a second round of votes. Aubrey won. For a second time on Nov 25th, the party's vote to become its leader. Martine Aubrey elue la Premiere Secretaire du Partie Socialiste.
The two women do not get along, not on a personal nor an ideological level, and there have been worries in French left for a party split. (Does that ring a bell???) Segolene appeared on a video to tell her voters that she will come back stronger at the next elections and that she does not plan to quit the left.
Segolene with her ex-partner where the royal couple, the Douglases, of the French left. Things have not turned particularly swell for them since the announcement of their split and the rise of Nicolas.
French socialist voters are split, like their party. Some adore Segolene, some don't even want to see her face on a picture. The truth is that Segolene has a very strong personality - love and hate are the two sides of the same coin. Martine, on the other hand, has an extremely impressive resume, as she is the architect of France's revolutionary 35-hour week, a true solialist. She is also sort of socialist royalty, as she comes from a political family: her father is the architect of Europe 92, Jacques Delors. She is currently the mayor of Lille France's ugliest city, and she is apparently doing a very good job.
Congrats Martine, beating such a worthy opponent makes the win even higher.
France needs to become more competitive without losing its socialist character - mind you France's right is probably far more left than the Democrats. (How right is the Left and how left is the Right, is a different topic alltogether).
The fact that there are for the first time two women candidates to lead France's socialists is also another remarkable progress of our times.
Monday, 24 November 2008
You probably know the cosmetics samples. Now called 'monodose' A single dose. Well, this is exactly how it felt last weekend. A monodose of Paris. With the econonomic crisis and the intense competition of airlines, the trully successful ones have some supreme offers for European cities from Athens, so I took advantage of Aegean's offer to Paris.
It was a very quick visit to Paris, lunch and coffee in 1er arrondisement with Helena, a bit of shopping, and then home to play with Chiara Zeta and relax. Sunday after breakfast and a stroll around the neighborhood, off to the airport!
Chiara is now walking!!!! She is very vocal, but not able to speak yet, although she seems to understand everything and she starts developing her own judgement, at least she has mastered 'no' :-))
Watching a kid grow, one realises how fast time goes by. Besides the joy that a child brings to its parents and rest of family - provided the child is physically and mentally healthy - the child enriches adults lives in so many different ways.
Firstly, a child needs will fill in every inch of leisure time of the parents, leaving very little room to any thoughts about the vanity of life or other similar grand thoughts..
Even though we all know that there is a cycle in life, somehow watching a kid grow, we tend to forget all that and think that life is forever, as we focus on the now and future plans go as far in the future as next weekend.
Life as we knew it bc (before child) changes. FULLSTOP. Now the adult becomes a caretaker of someone else, and thus needs to care about his or her own self in order to make sure that someone will always be there for the child. Hence, the adult matures. What is greater than just watching the kid grow, is watching its parents grow as well. By growing, I mean maturing, become more accepting, finding solutions instead of problems and overall happier. This is the only way to reach equilibrium in life and most probably discover its true meaning as parenting a child means that we discover the world all over again.
On a different note, that trip also reminded me - as if I had forgotten - how beautiful Paris is. With the sun or snow, Paris remains one of the loveliest, most elegant and most indulging places a person can spend a saturday afternoon.
Great news: Bobos, found a new family
He will be taken there this afternoon and hopefully will get along with this new parents and sister (there is a female griffon in the house as well)
It is always great to see them get to new homes. Now we'll just have to rescue the next stray. There are hundreds of them and every day we keep finding a new one
Each one that finds a home is a wonderfully happy event. Each one we lose is a terrible tragedy.
I am happy Bobos belonged to the first category. For such a little creature would not be able to survive without a family. In a few days he will also get rid of his elisabetian outfit..
Friday, 21 November 2008
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Bobos is a little dog about 7 years old that someone got fed up with and left him on the streets. Bobby has some great manners, he will wait for ever and won't do his business until he goes on a walk, he does not chew shoes, he is very quiet the sleeping hours, he will wait patiently when you are having dinner and he will be greatful for a good cuddle. He gets along with cats very well, he is friendly with humans and other dogs (well..hm perhaps a bit too friendly even if we neutreured him if you know what I mean)
Well, his former owners did not appreciate any of his charms, and Bobos found himself in a hostile environment (Pentelis avenue) and was hit by a car.
We (the filozoiki Vrilission) took him to a doc, operated him and now he is recovering in my house until he gets either a foster home or a permanent home.
He is adorable. If you know of anybody...It will be hard for me to see him go, but three dogs and two cats can be a bit too much. Plus Zizou needs to remain the Alpha male in the house....
I found Patty (the cat) when she was 20 days old inside a garbage can with the ambilical cord and her twin brothers dead.
That was two and a half years a go. Junior, my other cat, was about 10 months old and was very jealous that a new baby had arrived. Zizou would protect her all day in my absense from Junior's claws. No wonder Patty thinks of Zizou as her best buddy and perhaps her teddy bear
Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond. Casino Royal is my favorite Bond movie. After watching it last year, and about 35 times on my HD DVD since then, I had quite elevated expectations for the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Although Craig did not disappoint me, and Judi Dench is always a sight for sore (viewer's) eyes, and that the movie was again filmed in HD, the movie kind of let me down. For the following reasons:
a) In Casino Royal James had got rid of the tux and the black tie and wore more casual clothes that behave better when chasing vilans on rooftops. I also thought it was cool for him not to wear the tux outside the casino floor. In quantum of solace James hardly got out of his tux going back into the 60s James charm and forgetting all about the 'coolness' of hiking boots.
b) absense of punchlines. Besides James manly charm, his Brit wit would add on his charisma. This was demonstrated mainly by punchlines. There were a few punchlines but not that strong. The ones that existed where of course delivered with the appropriate Bond style
c) In Casino Royal, one of the reasons that Craig scored aces high, was that he was dynamic, meaning there was a lot of boxing and less shooting, and that James finally opened up to a girl. In Quantum of Solace, he mainly shoots people and the betrayal he felt from Vesper, his lover in the Casino movie, made him cold, colder than usual, and not in the mood for funny encounters
d) The movie was an action movie, with more action and less talking. A bit like an upgraded Steven Seagul movie
However, there were a few things to note:
a) Ladyhair fashion: brunettes are back (με αφέλειες)
b) revenge does not always feel good
c) M is the best bond girl
d) HD is the way forward in the movie industry
e) all London references where a sharp contrast with the rest of the world: pooring with rain - I thought it was funny, especially since everywhere else was colourful, sunny and hot
Of course I will buy the DVD. I will not watch it as often as Casino Royal though.
This the title of a small paragraph at the Malta Times that I was reading yesterday on the plane as I was coming back from my trip to Malta.
The story was incomprehensible but unfortunately true. A 28-year old is to divorce her 40-yer old husband whom she met in the game Second Life and their avatars fell in love. Soon after this virtual affair she decided to move in with him in his house in Cornwall, UK and they are living together since May 2003.
Recently she discovered that her husband's avatar had an online affair with a Second Life prostitute (again, the affair was between the avatars) after finding them (the avatars) in compromising position
The woman is devastated and said she experienced the worse possible betrayal.=!!! (her avatar, she meant undoubtably)
Now, where do I begin to comment on this? On the tragedy of the modern self that is so alone that the virtual self is gaining ground? on the fact that Second Life has made its creator, Linden inc a billion dollar company as people not only fall in love but also spend small fortunes - in Linden dollars that can be bought by US dollars (or euros or pesos or...) - to buy house, go to school, or buy the services of a prostitute...actually buy the services of a prostitute avatar!
Thursday, 13 November 2008
On Sunday November 9th, the 26th Athens Marathon was help and with it the parallel races of 5K and 10K. Although I would have loved to have already build the stamina to run the original 42,195m distance, I have not so I decided to run the 10K. The timing was just over one hour, which was good considering the little time I have been training (a couple of months)
The day was fantastic. The experience actually started the previous day when Alex (my friend and running partner) and I went to collect our number and other memorabilia from Zapeion.
Beautiful. I am ashamed to admit that crossing the national gardens from the Parliament to Zapeion was the first time I entered these lovely gardens!! Better late than never.
Sat night was pasta and vitamines day, early night and in the morning huge breakfast with lots of vitamins and off we went.
The day was lovely, warm for November, but not too hot. The Panathinaikon Stadium (Kallimarmaro) stood there all decorated with baloons and sponsors logo, with thousands of people flooding it. Everybody was in a good mood and everyone was just expressing their joy for being there. Thousands of people smiling, of all ages and walks of life came together to run. What a lovely idea! At nine thirty the gun goes off. So do we. The route of the 10K race was from Kallimarmaro all the way to Katehaki bridge (5klm uphill) and then return (5klm downhill).
The uphill part was difficult. But once we turned, then the knowledge that there is only downhill now, gave a huge boost and wings. Unfortunately just before we turned we saw the ambulance carrying the unfortunate runner who died from heart failure. He must have placed enormous strain in his heart as he finished the uphill 5klm in less than 30 min and then collapsed. A bit like Phidipides...
The 5km downhill was now a piece of cake. However, the body did not seem to agree. Twice I had to stop for a few seconds due to acute pains in some areas in the middle body. After the sixth kilometre, feet and lower legs are now almost not felt. New and old blisters start making their presense felt from inside the shoe. Bummer. But not too big of a deal. Blister pain is not that strong. Soon it is completely forgotten.
At a fraction of the time it took to get to Katehaki, it took us to get back to Kallimarmaro.
Alex could run much faster than me (I am jealous of course), but he was sweet enough to wait for me and we finished together.
We had our picture taken at the finishing line and with our commemorative medals.
The organization of the event was superb. I was given a free siatsu massage from a very skilled lady after at the special beds that were provided by the organizing committee.
Soon after my massaged ended, we saw the first runners - all Kenyans - enter. I had not seen the first runner to enter the stadium, I heard the crowd cheer. Just as I was getting out (after my siatsu massage), I saw the second Kenyan, a very slim guy with unrealistic thin lower legs to enter the stadium. It was Paul Lekuraa, a Kenyan from the Masai Mara, who fought fatigue and sprint the last 500 meters as if he was just starting the race. He won.
He made a game record at 2hours12min. He is 36 years old, this is his second marathon ever, he only arrived in Athens the day before due to visa problems, and he made a new record in one of the world's toughest marathon routes!! Chapeau!
Then there was the Japanese lady, Mai Tagami, then the Greek guy and so on. All of them in my eyes looked as if they were sprinting. After 42klm, they could sprint!!!! The feeling of finishing the 10k at the fastest possible time the feet can run and the lungs can pump oxygen and only half an hour later, the first marathon runners to finish show up at stamina, strength and speed that I have never had is honnestly the best motivator to keep pushing yourself.
Marathon runners - and ultra runners (for them I shall devote a separate posting) - prove one thing: there is no such thing as a human limit.
PS1: Race details at http://www.athensclassicmarathon.gr
PS2: Of course there are those who are just there for the fun of it:
PS3: We reached a record number of regisrration for 10000 runners for all races. This is quite an achievement considering that Greeks don't run. In respective events in northern countries, say Holland for instance, the average number of registrations is 20-30K
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
W is not stupid. He addresses people that are. Miss South Carolina won the teen Miss USA title believe it or not...
W being the President and all, is doing much better in difficult questions:
Ahhh.....how can ever Obama live up to W.'s legacy???
W being the President and all, is doing much better in difficult questions:
Ahhh.....how can ever Obama live up to W.'s legacy???
Friday, 7 November 2008
There is no marathon route more famous than the original marathon distance that Phidippides run in 490BC to spread the victorious news and then collapsed and died. Back then, no aerosoles, no water stations on the way, so probably the poor guy was sunstroke as it was hot in Athens back then as well :-)
Well, this Sunday, two and a half millenia after Phidippides historic run, the 26th Athens Marathon will take place. Many world reknown runners are expected to show up with Kenyans traditionally winning the race. I doubt if his highness, Gerbelassie, will come as he has just a month or so ago set a 2hours 4min new world record at the Berlin Marathon. The Athens marathon is not a fast one, as it is one of the hardest distances, not so much due to the heat, November is not a hot month, but due to its hilly route. I believe it is with the San Francisco marathon among the hardests in the world. Yet, it is the one that with the Berlin, Boston and New York receive the majority of world attention. Not every runner reaches the end line at Kallimarmaro, and not every runner cares to finish within a particular time. The feeling of achievement after completing a 42klm race must be wonderful. A feeling that I desperately want to experience at least once in my life. At 30, 50 or 80, it does not matter, marathon runners will always run.
This time I shall go for the 10k - there is a parallel race. 42klm seems too high a stake at this moment - remember there has only been 2 months that I quit smoking, still need to build lung stamina. However, it is not only the lungs that will suffer; the legs, especially the knee joints, the lower legs and the feet/ankles are seriously abused while running 42K. Yet, like everything in life, it takes practice and determination. Yiannis Kouros, one of the greatest ultra runners in the world (they run the marathon distance for breakfast) claims that running is predominantly a mental sport. I tend to agree.
Hope to see a lot of people running in the streets of Athens on Sunday.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
All over the US the last weeks there was a 89-character text that spread faster than the actual news. It read "Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Barack could run. Barack is running so our children can fly". History was made. Differently than before. Historians, political scientists, pshychologists, sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists will have a great topic for a paper, a book or even a dissertation. An African-American (half white though) is President of the USA. African Americans felt for once that the sun shone at them. So did the Spaniards and every minority that can make the US this wonderful melting pot that it can be.
Personally I am extremely happy that Obama won. I feel he can much better address US domestic economic woes and put some order in the US's insane imperialistic international policy. Whether he will actually succeed in addressing the state of crisis that the US finds itself in - and the rest of the world - remains to be seen. The good news is that he will be playing at home - in whichever country he might be. Obama will be welcome everywhere - or at least almost everywhere
But last night a history much more important than the future of US politics was made, or the feeling of justice that spread like the 89-character text among African Americans - most of whom burst into tears of joy and exhilaration.
Last night, the values of democracy won. This election had a historic outcome. For the first time a President with African American origin. For the first time a President that is supported by the world. For the first time a US President supported by Africans, African Americans, Caucasians, WASPs, educated, uneducated, Spaniards, muslims, Greeks, environmentalists, foreign PMs, the list is long. Not supported by Texans perhaps, but that has proved not to be a big issue, not this time. The US in a night turned from a nation of fear to a nation of hope. Yet, the most important victory is that of participation in state affairs. For the first time since perhaps the early 20th century the majority of Americans cared and actually voted. Obama cashed on US citizens' hope for real change. Whether it was out of dissatisfaction and the depression in America caused by the dominance of neo-liberalism in Washington and of course its failed promise, or whether it was hope as the dawn of a new era will bring is at this moment irrelevant. What is important is that the percentage of people who actually read the papers, watched the debades, thought about the future of their country, believed their opinion counted and went actually to vote, it was the largest victory. Estimations of voter percentage comes close to 70%! Traditional percentage of voter population was 40%. That was in itself a phenomenal historical event. And the majority is almost always right. This is what democracy is all about!
Obama's sweet victory reminds me of Bob Marley's song: 'The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, makes you wanna move your dancing feet. To the rescue...here I come'