Thursday, 27 August 2009

Pendeli the day after

All this week volunteers have tried to go over the burnt land and save any animals that we found that were hurt but alive. Unfortunately most animals we found were dead. Not that many animals were found to be honnest. It is either wild life in Pendeli has long been gone or that the fire ashed most of its victims. We found mainly turtles and a few dogs and cats the first day but the more the days progressed the more we would find dead bodies.
Animals sometimes hide for days at a place of safety and we will be placing food and water all next week till we go a week from friday to search for survivors again.
The sight is heartbreaking...apologies for the shocking pictures.
Today after 5 hours and 20 volunteers we were able to save 5 turtles - one badly burnt - and one lizard. The rest we found awful state.
The anger slowly kicks in and takes the place of devastation and sorrow. Anger against almost everybody. The arsonists. The construction companies. The people who bought houses up in the mountain. The politicians. Above all against the citizens who continue to vote for personal gain.
Athens as we know it will die. This was the end.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The moral code of animals

Finally!!! It is proven scientifically that animals think, they have emotions, they sympathize with their fellows, they distinguish right from wrong and they employ fair play in their games.
After years of long research, Marc Becov the professor of Evolutionary Biology of the university of Colorado and his associate biologist Jessica Pierce proved their hypothesis that animals have recognizable emotions and moral intelligence.
They were so amazed with their findings that decided to put them in a book
A young female elephant was falling down after a male pushing her strongly. An older female came to her rescue after chasing the male away. A mouse refused to push the button that would bring him food as he realised that the very same button would create an electroshock for the mouse in the neighboring cell. A young coyote will always use fair game in his play; if not the elders of the community will cast him out. A chimp group punishes everyone who comes late at dinner time as noone can start to eat if the whole group is not present. At a particular experiment, chimps had to put a coin in a slot in order to get their foods. The majority of the subjects found out easily how to do it. There was this new female that didn't. An older more experience male chimp did it for her and gave her the food without attempting to steal it.
Dr. Bekov was so amazed with his experiments that he feels that we should learn from animals and be tought life lessons. There is respect between animals and although they all need to survive, they realize that they have a better chance to survive together and there is a very strong sense of collaboration, teamwork, and rules to be respected. In addition, different societies of the same species have their own rules, just like human societies.
But it is not just the collaboration and teamwork. Between animals there is a lot of love, compassion, empathy, and justice. Animals are smart, emotional, they distinguish right from wrong, they think before they act as they evaluate every situation they find themselves in.
Dr Bekov is already working on his second book: Animal Manifesto out in March 2010
You can obtain a copy of Wild Justice from the University of Chicago Press ( but only an e-book at this time as there was a huge demand of the book. It is also retailed at

Fire day 3

Today the skies are not orange or grey. They are dark, but you can see the blue
The fires have eaten all the mountain of Penteli, everything that I hold dear as it is part of the place I grew up.
Penteli is hollow due to the wonderful marbles it had since ancient times. The majority of the Parthenon marbles came from Pendeli and Paros.
The mountain also had created many myths, some having some truth since the revolution against the Ottoman Empire about 200 years ago. It was a hiding place for the gorillas against the Turks.
It is a place with rich magnetic ability. On the way to Nea Makri somewhere mid-mountain, there is a location where the road is downhill and then uphill again. What is amazing is if you switch off the engine the car will go backwards uphill. There are some locations on earth that manifest this phenomenon and Pendeli is one of them.
In addition Pendeli has been a place where in the begining of the century, well, last century and up until world war II, people with respiratory diseases would come to get cured due to its wonderful climate. Fresh crispy air moist free.
Pendeli has been burnt down many times. Various locations. In 1998 I remember I was one of the volunteers trying to save what I could only to run with new fire fronts exploding behind me with flames reaching more than 40m. I was trying to free the anmals from the abandoned houses. I was trying to water the roofs. Some was saved
Well, not any more. The entire mountain of Pendeli is now gone. From Marathon to Palea Pendeli
Well, the rocks are still there, they will be there till the end of time. Everything else is gone. Everything that has anything to do with life.
Of course I can not say that I did not expect that. But not this byblical catastrophy. Pendeli should not have been inhabited. Some very old neighborhoods, especially the hospitals and the monasteries have good reason to be there. But all these areas should not exist. Pendeli ought to belong to its forrest, to its rabbits, wolves, foxes, eagles, ducks, wildboar etc. None of that exist now as Man has burned it down so many times.
There is speculation that this fire as well was a result of arson. Well the 85 fires that broke out yesterday. Probably. But then again we live in an area (med basin) that is tortured by fires every august. I remember growing up that there were 'karaoulia' in Pendeli and we used to volunteer. These were fire watch points, usually scouts, volunteers or the army would watch. They would operate 24/7 the summer months. Not since I went to high school have I listened to them being operated. Why?
I don't understand. I don't understand many things. For instance I don't understand why there has been so much talk but no walk about creating fire breaking zones - you know zones of dry land throughout the mountain that would stop the fires from taking over the entire land. I don't understand why we don't use all these soldiers that we have to camp in the forrests. But most importantly I don't understand why we don't have an extremely well organized and state of the art equipped Forrest Rangers whose sole purpose would be to protect our forrests. Well, what is left of them. I certainly don't understand.
I am extremely sad with all these people that have lost their houses, property, animals. I don't understand why they were allowed to buy a house in the forest in the first place. I don't understand what kind of government allows its wealth to be deprived from its country for some small personal gain. Because had such construction had been outlawed and punished - in reality not paper - this catastrophy would not have occured. And I bet anything you would like on this

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Fire progression: 6pm

New fires have been added to the morning one. All of Athens with any tree left is burning...
This is at 6pm. Please note that the sun sets at 8pm..

Fire progression: 12 noon

You can figure out which way the fire is moving (heavy clouds from northeast)
Note I live about 40km away from the fire front

The fires at 9am. View from my terrace

East (heavier smoke)
West (clearer sky)

Athens is burning. Again

Just the other day I was thinking that this year we got away without any fires in the summer. I was really happy but afraid as the summer was not over. During the month of August, the summer wind, known as Meltemi, provide the best condition for a fire to spread.
Unfortunately the last few days we had strong meltemia. This morning I woke up to see my terrace full of ash. The sky was yellow-orange-red toward the east. At the beginning I thought I woke up at some strange moment during sunrise. But the sulfuric smell and the blue sky in the west made me in a few seconds to realize that there was another catastrophy taking place. I shivered. I opened the TV. Nothing yet. Stupid kid shows. After a while there were of course special coverage showing the length and depth of the catastrophy. Toward NE Athens, there was a huge fire killing everything in its passing, a front that was on one side only 5km long! With that wind? I think it is impossible to stop. The good news is that as the day goes on the wind seems to lower its strength.
People are afraid for their lives and properties. I am very much afraid of the impossibility to leave in Athens in the near future. In Cyprus they already import the water they drink and water their plants. I am afraid I will experience that during my lifetime and very soon...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Televised crime on the Amazon

Usually when a person is asked to leave the police corps due to corrupt behavior, the last thing we would expect is that this person should run for office (or should it be the first ?)
Even so, the likelihood of that person becoming an MP should be given in any decent betting agency 101:1. Well, this is not the case of Mr. Wallace Souza, who not only is a member of Parliament but also a very successful TV host of a program whose legitimate intend is to showcase the crime rate in the jungle city of Manaus where law is hardly enforced. His tv show was gaining in ratings as the crew would be there to film the actual crimes, murders as well, while taking place. The police was becoming suspicious of the camera crews being there before they actually arrived and now there is speculation and accusation of Mr Suza actually ordering the murders to increase the ratings. Mr. Suza is also accused of drug smuggling, among other things.. He, along with his son was arrested but was released due to his parliamentary immunity (at least his son is still in prison)
Of course noone should be guilty unless hard evidence is on the table, but it seems like a pattern of corrupt behavior all over again, only this time the abuse of power is criminal - should of course be proved guilty. Needless to say that the evidence the police found in Mr Souza 's home are overwhelming, but I guess nothing is proven yet (remember O.J.?)
In any case, this story reminded me of an 80's Arnold classic, The Running Man, but I never thought we would come to that. Running Man was a famous TV show (time somewhere in the future) where the last man standing would win a prize. There would be professional hunters making it sure that the contestants would not win. Not sure if art imitates life or the other way around...

SFSU reunion

Long live facebook! After 15 years, I was able to locate most of my best friends during my MBA year at San Francisco State University and we have all agreed to meet next June for a week of sailing the Greek islands. Sixteen years since we last met all together. Initially the suggestion was NY but we thought that if we wanted to make it summery and warm, we should do the Med. And what better way to experience it than sailing around the islands?
So, sometime next June - hopefully we will all be able to get out of work for a week by then - we will meet in Athens to pay our respects to the Acropolis and then sail away. Where to? Not known yet. Stay tuned
Of all my friends, of course I have kept close contact with Helena over the years,but have not seen the others for a long time. At least 10 years and some 15, since I left beautiful Frisco.
The sail crew will come from all over the world. Helena from Paris, Karine from Monpelieu, Linda from Tel Aviv, Karen from San Francisco, Muriel from Montreal and of course myself from Athens.
A multinational reunion from the coasts of the Pacific to the Mediterranean waters..Pas mal :-)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

An atrocious crime that has gone many more similar crimes take place daily and we do nothing?

People of Kavala, residents and tourists, adults and children, witnessed the most atrocious crime this year.
Someone driving a car at high speed had tied a dog from his leg and only stopped when the dog was definitely tortured to death and threw him in the garbage happy for his deed. The article says that everybody was shouting to him asking him to stop. The police apparently is looking for him. Of all these bystanders nobody managed to get his license plate? And what if the police caught him? You know how much is the fine according to Greek law against animal protection? 400-2000 euros in fine or max 3 months prison. Of course the judge could ask for a higher sentence claiming that he shocked underaged or that his driving was reckless etc.
Torturing a poor animal to death does not, in this country, guarrantee a life sentense as it should. I wish sometimes I was an outlaw. Someone that would take vengence of acts of crimes that go unpunished.
Unfortunately I am not. Nor can I influence policy makers to re-think the law about animals.\

Here is the link of the article,
of the flawed greek law
and a beloved Mobby tune that takes new meaning if you watch the clip

Enough with Jacko already

Unfortunately the sad King of Pop can still not rest in peace. The investigation about the causes of his death is still open. There is speculation that he killed hismelf or that he was a victim of malicious act.
Please! Is it so hard to swallow all the millions of fans that they have played a huge part of his death? A slow death that started about 20 years ago?
Michael Jackson is probably one of the most miserable people that ever lived this earth.
His father ought to be hanged in public no doubt. So should the majority of the rest of his family. And the press. The fans as well. Michael had not produced something of value for at least 10 years. His ghostly white skin with his nose coming on and off should be a ticket to the best possible mental clinic that his money could buy.
But the emptyness of the majority of people that want to feel greater in the presence - even mental - of someone great allowed him to continue to kill himself slowly. He could never be MIchael of the Jackson five or of Thriller or even of Dirty Diana (by that time he was also becoming something of a clown)
His fans now say that he made a breakthrough in music. Well yes, about 30 years ago. What has he done recently? Nothing much because he couldnt. The poor lad could hardly walk or talk or even breath unaided.
Fans should demand that his idol - if they loved him as much as they claimed - should go in a clinic. He should look after himself. Not in the sick way that he thought he did. Instead they let him think it was alright to be abnormal. Or they called him a freak.
Michael needed to be loved in a healthy way. Nobody did that.
So, that investigation in my mind is extremely hypocritical. We all killed Michael. By allowing him to stay out of therapy.
What's worse, is that people still make money out of him. I hope that his soul will eventually rest in peace that he could not find among the living.

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

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

Pugs talk!