Σάββατο, 25 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Life with a smartphone

It’s been a while since my last post. That was because I had my head and hands full with various stuff. So, here’s a post, complete with hilarious, poorly drawn stuff.

It’s no secret that I love gadgets. Thus, everything that has a touchscreen, has an actual OS  and connects to several types of wireless connections is a matter of fetish for me. So, After N-gage, wich was essentially a Symbian S60 smarphone in a GameGear form factor, I got an HTC Wildfire. Officially, my second smartphone ever.

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I haven’t touched a single Android mobile phone before, so I got me an HTC Wildfire. I mostly wanted to get a rid of my Motorola “whining for no good reason” phones and put them into oblivion as quickly as possible.

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The reason I didn’t buy a used iPhone was that it’s too much hussle. It’s A-OK for an iTouch to utilize iTunes for syncing everything and sometimes it’s more convenient than the crappy MPD protocol that requires to copy all the songs to your hard drive everytime.

So, long story short, I jumped into the train of Android.

Loved

This thing has everything. Really. I’m in such a geeky bliss when I use Foursquare to tell people (who probably don’t give a shit) where am I and what I do. Also, Messaging apps made SMS and e-mail on the go much more effortless.

Hated

Protective stuff. All such phones have twice the ways to use them but are twice as sensitive. So I had to buy a case and a screen protector.

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the later is utter hate. I will never figure out how to do it properly…

Σάββατο, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2010

Kinect Calibration Card is the most paranoiac smiley ever created by mankind.

do not want kinect card

Is it just me, or this thing looks straight into your soul, ultimately absorbing it?

And we have to use it every time we want to refine our play space? It’s going to be in EVERY FREAKING KINECT GAME?

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We are pretty f*cked up…

Πέμπτη, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Politics, friendship and consistency

Life is known about throwing random shit at you when you don’t expect it. For example. A friend of mine, she’s going to be a Municipal Consultant in the city I was living from 1990 to 2006. We were from the same school and we were friends. We shared some great LOLS and some views of the world around us.image

She never was too popular within our peer group. Nor too attractive too. But she was caring and kind – she still is I think. We shared the same views when we were at school. Especially in politics. Neither of us gave a shit on that topic.

Then real life happened. I’d picture it as a great whale on wheelsimage

And I learned sociology. A.K.A. WHY I hate politics so much.imageimageimage

So, all of my friends know how I feel about politics and the political system in Greece. It sucks badly and just goes downwards. That’s why our little country is in crisis and we will inevitably end up working 12 hours for a souvlaki. If this happens, everybody will move to Athens.

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So, despite having moved to another town with my family and my voting rights are in Athens, she contacted me through Facebook to announce me that she decided to go for Municipal Consultant in the next Municipal elections. It left me in wonder. What happened to the little rebel she was during school? I know she may have changed. Grown up, accepted some stuff, but, I changed too. I learned, I made mistakes too. We are human. But, what happened to the consistency of what we say to what we do?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s still a mystery why she wanted to pull this off.

Anyway, she asked me to pass her FB group around and also told me to speak with whatever old friend I have that still lives in the old town. The problem is, I almost lost track of everybody. Plus, I vote on an entirely different municipality. So I told her that I would try. In reality, I was shocked and annoyed all together. But I just couldn’t tell her straight.

I wish good luck to her and be succesful and a good politician (if she chooses to move forward from that) I still have faith in my generation to change something. Maybe…

Till then, here’s future!

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The Phone Tandem nightmare

Phones are here to make us miserable and they must go straight to hell. Even though I am quite fond of being able to communicate with people far away without moving my body the slightest, sometimes I swear I want to go back to the time where Bell stole the invention of the phone from Tesla and tell him that he would never EVER have profit of such device.

As most of you probably know, I like siesta. Meaning, sleeping an hour or so after lunch. It’s some sort of powersleep that maintains my awareness through the rest of the day.

So, in my bedroom there are two beds (the other one is for whoever comes as a guest, and a storage place full of computer components and/or cables) Two little counters and my Desk.

The counter near my bed has a brown landline phone that’s muted most of the time. My mobile phone is hung on the window because living in the basement is like living inside a Faraday Cage. Meaning that no GSM reception can penetrate it. Sometimes I have to OPEN the window, put the phone almost outside and connect my wired hands-free in order to have a proper conversation.

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When I’m waiting for a phone call I de-mute the landline phone. Then the shit hits the fan.

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Yeah it’s never EVER the one who I wait a call from. It’s usually a random friend, aunt or co-worker of my mother, usually having blond hair shaped like a banana peel saying how manly my voice has grown through ages and other stuff I don’t care to hear about. So I shout to my mom to pick up the phone even though she picks it up by herself because 99% of the phone calls are for her, so she has something like an intuition for picking up phones. Then go back to sleep. Alas.

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In a weird subsequent tandem, My mobile phone rings. I have a ringtone from Initial D anime and live action series. While I first put it I thought it’s cooler than north pole, now it’s more annoying than a female penguin staging an orgasm.

So, that means that I have to stand up, open up the window, hook my hands-free and put the phone almost outside so I can talk. And it is the one WHO F*ING KNOWS THAT I WANT TO SLEEP. But my sleep is never a priority.

My beautiful nap is ruined. Thank you.

Oh, and don’t ask why I am grumpy some evenings. Don’t-you-dare.

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Δευτέρα, 11 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Does this happen to anybody else?

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Dear Facebook. I swear this is the last time you screw me up like this.

Also, fuck you.

[edit]

Kind of overdid it with resizing causing eye-destroying blur. Now it’s fixed.

Random update is random

Instead of getting prepared for my English and French courses I happen to have this evening, I decided to post a random update.

You probably know that I live close to dinosaur fossils and/or dragons. Namely, I now live in the basement of my parents house. It’s a four story house with an underground garage.

So, Here’s a quick plan

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In case I gave you the wrong impression, we are nor rich. Well, we are not poor either. The land this thing was built upon was my grandpa’s heritage to my father, so we gave almost half of the land and we got three of those. The other two are for rent.

Anyhow, I’m not very fond of my house for three reasons.

External design.

Most of the houses around our area have various decorations, curved balconies and pointy roofs and arks kinda look like this.

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Not an actual nearby house but you got the idea.

However, our house looks like a box. No shitting. This thing is as cubic as if the god had a cubic diarrhea and shat cubes the one on top of each other and made a house.

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On second thought, Maybe it’s made off of Tetris blocks! That’d be awesome. But even so, there must be someone placing them the right way. Which in our case, the one is a total douche.

Interior Design

It is believed that the smaller are the rooms, the cozier they get. On the other side, the bigger, the better. That confused the architect so much, we either have big spacious rooms or little ones that feel like suffocating and pain. Plus, not all rooms have the same ceiling height. The room layout kind of looks like the above Tetris gangbang.

Also, I hate the placement of my room. It’s right under a huge surface of cement and tiles exposed to the elements of nature. It’s the coldest room in the winter because it’s underground, and the warmest in the summer because the sun heats the layers of cement and tiles making it a nice little oven.

Last but not least

The cost to run this fucker.

It sports an internal elevator, there is a total of 4 toilets flushing all day long, We have all sorts of appliances, it takes forever to heat in the winter and an ice age to cool in the summer. It needs a lot of money for electricity and water bills. Oh, and maintenance too. So, even though we live in such a big house, I still sit on an office chair that I have from middle school (13 years) Actually, it’s a transvestite between my middle school chair that’s green and my brother’s middle school chair that’s gray.

So we are leaving in a huge spacious house without ensuring the comfort in it. Well, my brother worked hard and we got a niche television set and sound system for us to play games on, and internet is running wirelessly through the entire house but still. Getting inside a behemoth like that one’s expecting to see a comfortable house with plenty of elegance and awesome. PLUS, all the guests… correction, all my parent’s guests, get to sleep either to my or my brothers room. We already have a guest room, but there’s just a transforming couch that’s uncomfortable as hell.

And don’t get me started about the problematic construction of the house. Mostly because I have to do those French exercises.

See? I bitched again. Smile with tongue out

Τρίτη, 5 Οκτωβρίου 2010

A revelation about toys (also I realized that I’m old)

 

So, I have recently revisited two big toy supermarkets that happen to be close by, in order to buy a present for a friend’s kid. I couldn’t help it but let myself gawk at the many toys that those stores have richly in stock. Some of them got me impressed like the kid I used to be discovering something new and interesting. Some others though left me in disgust like the adult I am discovering a smelly turd under my shoe.

When I was a kid. Me and my peer group of kids were easily impressed by complex toys. We liked Transformers for they were able to transform from a vehicle to a robot. We liked buying Lego buckets sets for they had around 200 pieces instead of buying pre-set models. We liked toy cassette players and walkmans for they were technologically advanced. Also, videogames, because not only they were computers we could play, they were also quite complex for the adults to understand.

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I found out that nowadays, toys weren’t selling for their complexity/cleverness or whatever else, but for the brand. I mean, Ben 10 was selling a simple LCD watch wrapped in plastic and resembling something (but not quite) like the watch Ben wears on the cartoon.

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Remembering myself back in the days I was a kid, I wouldn’t even want a watch WHITHOUT BACKLIGHT! Yeah, really. Back then we didn’t care if the watch was from Lion King or whatever. We wanted to be backlit, or have a lot of pointers, or have a calculator built in or even speak!

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The infamous speaking watch

So, I found out that kids nowadays don’t care about complexity. They care about brand. I saw Dora the explorer playing clay selling better than the classic six color box of playing clays. Take into consideration that Dora the Explorer playing clay was way more expensive and had a SINGLE color. Yeah, that’s right. The product didn’t sell the quantity nor the variety nor the quality. Its major selling point was the brand. What a disgrace.

The same tragic story also applied within products of the same company. Lego’s major selling series is Basic. The well known bricky series we all played (and some of us still play) The Lego Harry Potter and Star Wars models are expensive as hell. Even the smallest one can cost like 50 euros or so. But the buckets of 200 or 100 pieces are far cheaper, considering that you buy enough pieces to make 7 of the cheapest Harry Potter models except the colors with the price tag not going over 40 euros. Note that the pieces on both products were the ones from the Basic series.

Still the kids that got to the Lego department of the store, were mostly amazed about the fact that the Lego products were Harry Potter branded than the fact that with a bucket they could make a bazillion contraptions plus having a neat Lego themed basket to store all the pieces in.

So you can easily wrap a plank into some branded material and sell it as expensive as shit, just to have an instant mine of gold.

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It’s not that our toys weren’t branded or we weren’t brand whores. But we looked more on the toy itself to see how we can make the most out of it. Our parents were quite restrictive and instead of buying us little cheap crap every other day, they were getting us nice stuff three times a year – namely, Christmas, Summer and Birthdays. So what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. Toy manufacturers and cartoon networks are maximizing their profits by selling to kids silly, cheaply made branded crap.

If you are a parent listen to this: Tell your kids that Dora the explorer will grow up to be a whore. Ben 10 has killed his mother and Gormiti are creatures that live in a sick man’s colon (they look like shit anyway) and buy good, nicely made toys that are creative and complex enough to stimulate that freaking front cortex of their brains that it’s dying while watching dumb cartoons, keep your kids entertained for longer and endure the test of time.

Kids aren’t cheap beggars or something. I understand now why my parents bought me nice toys fewer times a year. I had something to play with and be happy for longer and I learned how precious is to wait for something good than to ask for random shit.

Most importantly. Fuck up your life all that you want. Really. But don’t take your kids with you, ok?

Bitched enough for today. K thnx bye.

Πέμπτη, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010

A few random thoughts


It's been a long time. How have you been?
(gosh, I sound like GladOS)













My writing activity has been reduced to a mere couple of gaming reviews. I guess that's the effect of the examination period.

While there was no apparent reason to go outside and seek another PC, I have my two trusty laptops to rely on, I felt the urge to use one of those crappy cheap Microsoft keyboards that grew sticky and a chore to use due to excessive sugary liquids spill and extensive gaming sessions on them - desparate WoW gamers included.

But, somehow, this technological decadence gets the best out of me. Besides, I'm surrounded by people that give a crap to what I give crap. yay.

So, back reporting my status. Examination period is "teh shit". I managed to participate to 9 of them and succeed to the most of them. I don't know how I pulled this stunt, while getting all-nighters and consuming buckets of coffee out of house, but it worked.

My life also has taken a turn. The summer was particularly shitty because of some nice relatives that decided that our shit weren't as worthy as them to go together down to the same sewer, so they decided out of the blue - and without the nessesary presence of a mechanic or an architect, to dig beneath the whole group of houses, essentially hitting the - pretty much common- foundations.

The nice thing is that the whole story took a lot of money from the family, essentially leaving us penniless for the end of August. Meaning, I was unable to go anywhere or buy anything for 15 days. I was imprisoned inside the house, solely playing games and studying a bit.

Boot Camp Camping

My brother went to do his military service. His reports were not the most favorable.
"It's shit, bro" he said "try to avoid it at all costs". But how can one avoid a totally useless thing that a whole society has build upon it. The paper from Army, counts more than a University Degree, a Master and a Doctorat all combined. Come to think of this, the Military service doesn't even HAVE to do anything with somebody's career. So, why it's so much needed in order to get a descent job?

I could go on and on of this. But I feel that it deserves a new post all devoted to how shitty is the Army. And it needs to die, along with the remains of nationalism from the 50's.

Job Job bomb mob

Yeah. A job. A real one - that pays in money and not in Xbox360 titles (not that I'm going to quit my much-loved editing place at Game 2.0) and It's going to be at a prevention clinic. I'm going to be at the reception of the patients, and arranging dates with the doctors, while I fight with the mess of being with other three girls that do the exact same things with me at the same time. Meaning, there's a lot of passing-the-appointment-book around. I've already had a taste of the work. But for a good enough salary, It's quite good.

Anyway. My time has almost over. I need to GTFO and socialize a bit more. Cause after that, I'll be back in Athens. And there's no shitting around :(

Τρίτη, 27 Ιουλίου 2010

A question of a Revolution


I have a little someone that once he saw what I'm writing he shouted "don't you have anything better to do?"

No I don't. 'Cuz Imma fucking bloggar.

So, you'd probably have heard for the murder of a well known reporter, that also spawned one of the biggest Greek blogs in the Internet. Sokratis Golias. He's dead by a faceless, person less "revolutionary organisation" leaving questions on why a bunch of "rebels" killed an independent reporter such as Sokratis.

And then, I question the usage of the word "Revolution", in a political and sociological meaning by this organization. Are they really revolutionaries that work for a sort of change by terror or just a poor branch of the established mafia?

Here's why I think that they are the latter, just from the bad usage of the word "Revolution".

Revolutions happened throughout the history of humanity. From the French Revolution, to the Industrial Revolution and the fall of Berlin Wall. These Revolutions have several characters: Social, Political, Industrial and productivity, technology. All of them had one common thing: They had a massive scale.

I don't know if you get it, dear reader. A lot of people work for a revolution to be and change things around, once and for all. It was the masses, the sheer number of people that make the change. It doesn't have to be bloody or noisy or whatever. It's based on the power of the mass. That's what happened before, that's what will always happen because for a reason or another, the substance of a Revolution is a huge crowd of people while an idea is just the spirit.

So, is a mystic organization that kills people on choice something included to a Revolution?

The answer is obviously, no. It's not giving away any ideas that people would revolt on, thus they miss the spirit. They are an organisation that works in secrecy and it stays on blowing stuff up and shootings thus it's not massive so, it misses the substance. But the most tragic part is that they self proclaim themselves as "Revolutionaries" so the mass media could misinform the ignorant crowds on what a Revolution is. Forgetting that Revolution is THEIR power and NOT the power of some terrorists or just executors of established mafia, they also forget to be human. To oppose, to judge and think.

the become opinion-less sheeps.

That's how this works I guess...

My regards from the beautiful Gastouni.

Σάββατο, 12 Ιουνίου 2010

And now for something completely usual


I know, it's late. It's around 3.18 AM. All I did today was wrapped into the odour of sweat and regret. I don't feel like sleeping and I'm waiting for my backup to end. (slow external HDD is slow). Geneally my mood has the color of gloom and doom. I've been moving stuff around the house since my brother is moving in (so long private gaming sessions).



The work with Game 2.0 is going just fine. I'm eager to see how my new articles are going to be received by the readers (I always do, no matter how many texts I have wrote)



Other than that, the whole summer is close to be a "fail". I haven't got anything done. My brother's moving isn't done. Studying for the upcoming exams in September, not done. Articles I want to finish, not done either. On top of that, besides the small escape in Glyfa, I have no other options whatsoever.



It's the gloom and doom that comes from the circumstance I'm in. I'll be no longer a student in a miserable little country. No certain professional life. There's nothing fun in Athens to do (besides gaming) and all of my friends are leaving the capital one after another to have their vacations dipped in the blue sea and get sunburns.



I miss France all of a sudden...

Δευτέρα, 24 Μαΐου 2010

“This is the worst crisis of all”

image Afternoon, In a congested bus. Many people coming back from their jobs. Some of them standing, gripping on the handles, the oldest ones sitting with their eyes closed. Worn out, tired from their jobs and everyday cares. The little polluted city draft from the open window was the only thing that was breaking the gloom and the odour of sweat a bit.

In a stop near the sea, a group of young boys got into the bus. The sand that was faling off of their bodies during their every movement was indicating that they were returning from a swim in the sea. After pushing awkwardly the already stuffed up passengers, they started screaming. Our “national word” (Malakas) replaced almost every word in their centences. Other than that, they were’t talking. They were just screaming inarticulately and laughing histerically.

The other passengers were annoyed but their reactions were limited to some slight stretches in their faces. They remained closed, in their shells of their loneliness and fatigue. Untill someone couldn’t get it anymore.

A man around his seventies, approached the boy that was near him and the most noisy of the bunch. He politely asked him to stop.

“my son, we are all tired, please, unless you are deaf, be a little quiet” he said.

The other passengers got encouraged for a moment as the screams and swears stopped for a moment just to start even louder and more defiantly than before.

From stop to stop, the party was leaving the bus one by one, until the one single boy that the old man talked to remained in the bus. Alone, quiet, looking to the ground and doing some weird movements with its lips.

It was his turn to go off the bus. He pushed the buton for his stop and as the door opened he leaned quickly to the man who dared to talk to him and spat him in the face. Then he descented the bus and gave the finger through the window to the old man that just received the spiting.

The old man didn’t see the gesture. He was petrified, not believing what’s just happened. Only when the bus started again he brought out from his pockets a handkerchief made out of white fabric.

The people who witnessed the incident looked away, leaving him discretely to wipe himself. He wiped his eye, his cheek and his shirt. Then he folded his handkerchief into two, four, eight. He didn’t raise his head until his stop. He was looking his fingers and the napkin. He was shaking.

Nobody spoke, nobody commented. But at some point someone muttered; “this is the worst crisis of all”

But his voice was never heard as it got covered by the sound of a siren of an ambulance.

Translated (losely) from Exantas

A note about Fakelaki

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Fakelaki (φακελάκι) is the little envelope. But, in Greece is also used to indicate bribery of doctors.

Enter Amalia Kalyvinou. A young philologist that died in 2007 due to the shortcomings of the Health System, and the inability of some doctors to do their job properly.

Amalia started to ache from 8 years old due to a cancer Neuroma (a cancer tumor created right around a nerve). She was going from doctor to doctor but her cancer – that started as a fully operatable tumor- remained undiagnosed and doctors were refusing to search for her case further.

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When she got diagnosed, it was already too late. The Neuroma became a progressive type of Cancer called Neoplasm. She had to deal with this spreading disease, mutilation of her leg and a national health system that makes a blind eye on bribery and has absurd bureaucratic and time consuming demands.

While she was sick and having the heaviest therapies, some doctors stood against her instead of trying to save her, she had to put off with the greed of the private health care and wait long hours for just one stamp from the national insurance.

In her last years of her life, she shared her experiences with the world through her blog, conviniently named fakelaki.blogspot.com, naming all the doctors that she bribed, all the doctors that failed to do the obvious but also the doctors that fullfiled their duty and made her pain a little more bearable.

So, in the end, her story didn’t had a happy end. But, it managed to move the general opinion towards the national health system and it’s disseffect.

My feelings? I don’t know. I just agree on a phrase of her : this kind of doctors (that take bribery) and the uneffective ones should be the exception. Not the rule.

In the 1st of June it’s now the day of protesting for a better national health system. But is it enough?

Allow me to answer: It isn’t. A “day about something” was and will never be enough as long as morals and minds won’t change in a permanent and consistent way. This is too far away from what Amalia wanted.

Either way, my friends, It’s a story I wanted to share with you and, at the same time, memorizing the voice of a victim.

And sorry for the depressing story…

Κυριακή, 9 Μαΐου 2010

Random thoughts. Happy mom's day

Here I am again. 24 hours AFTER my previous post. You're probably thinking "gee, Marios, since when you like blogging so much that you made your blog daily?"

The answer is "shut up" and no, this is just how my thoughts piled in my head and need to get expressed. So again from my bedbook, I'll write once again my thoughts.

Today it's mother's day. Happy mother's day, mother.

Mother's role isn't just to give birth after having you in her tummy for 9 months. Mother is an icon of protection. Completion of the female genre, designed by nature itself.

Come to think of it, the most mother-kid relationship we worship today is made completely by human culture. Mother is the one who put us in a walled garden as small kids to protect us while she's teaching us the ways to behave in our future social life. The norm of a Mother, is being teached from mothers to kids since the begining of the society.

So kids who don't have a mother "are poor orfans" that learn the norm of a mother by her absence while the whole world spins with children-mother relation intact. So how these "orphans" live a normal life after a childhood is passed with no interaction with their mother (or any kind of mother. The orphanage works nothing like one-kid-one-maitress so they can't have a mother-child bond of some sorts).

Anyway I don't want to cheapen the icon of Mother, but really. Some things are becoming way too important for no reason. I mean, it's good to love and think of your mother. I love and think of mine too - she's also the dominant parent of my family. But at some point, iconizing her in certain functional norms, iconizing her in cliche and selecting a specific date to say "I love you mommy" gets things on the awkward side.

Some people urged me to comment on the crisis in Greece. I'll tell you right away.

First of all, let me tell you why I chose this specific date to tell you about this stuff.

Many nationalists think of their country as a mother. Mother Russia, Mother England, Mother Egypt etc. So, consider it as a sarcastic choice. Not that I have something against nationalism (deep down we are ALL nationalists, even if we try to deny it) but, really. A mother?

So. My comment is that, even if we know what's happening, nobody does nothing. That's the main problem of the Greek Culture as it is today.

There is a protestation. It's a right. Fine we are doing it. WHY there are provocators in there destroying stuff? WHY the protesting croud didn't make themselves clear from any of these breakings? It really makes me think that sometimes, they just let it pass.

Even though I liked what's happened for the next protestation. Everyone got their pots and frying pans, they sat down hitting them with spoons in front of the parliament. I wanna see THIS getting provocated....

We don't like the police force being too brutal whithout reason. I mean, seriously. Breaking into houses, beating the hell out of women and then leaving as if nothing happens, it's a real infridgement of Human Rights. Why none of the victims haven't gone to the european court yet to claim it's rights. I agree that Greece doesn't need more things to pay off. But, really. Let's stop dreaming of leaving in a democratic country and start finding ways to protect us from the "monopoly of violence" that a totalitarian Regime has. Because that's what Greece has, coated with the coloured wrap of "parliamental dimocracy"

Talking about democracy I'll talk about freedom of speech. This is something that in Greece is really fucked up. How is it possible while nobody restricts no-one on that matter, the truth gets so terribly distorted that we need external sources of news to crosscheck what happens next door? It's a real mystery.

We don't like the corrupted system between journalists and political system. But also nobody switch off their televisions, leaving these people outside of their band and see who's the smartest. I am not shouting for "everybody go to the road and protest" like a pseudo-Bolshevik (more on that later) but the simpliest thing of turning the fucking television off. If you don't like the picture of a switched off television, put on a movie. Play a videogame, watch porn.

On the pseudo-bolshevik thing. It's not about shouting, people. Is it enough to go to the road marking revolutions and getting beaten by the police?

The answer is no.

A real revolution must start from deep within. In our everyday life. How about starting NOT to hate eachother? Starting to be independent and activate our minds against manipulation that comes from the tv/internet/radio/newspapers? A system will never have enough hands to punish everyone if we start seeing pieces to ourselves into others and start a mutual change in our lifes, rejecting some old stereotypes in both political and cultural dimensions.

But still it's too much to ask. as for Greece. We totally deserve what's coming. Because while "we have seen it coming" nobody did anything. until the problem hits our doors. Fucking great.

p.s. I love you mom.

Σάββατο, 8 Μαΐου 2010

Another quick break of tandem

I'm writing this post from my old Netbook again. Why?

That's something i still have to explain to myself. I got another netbook. New, shiny that does more things and better. Why I'm using this small ass bedbook with crammy keyboard instead of my newest one with it's big clicky keyboard?

The answer maybe lies in the primidity of this thing. I mean, I am not the only one who gets excited on a view of a typwriter, am I?

but this gets too far so let's leave it as it is. besides, I can't start all my blogposts talking about stupid foldable computers eh?

*bleep*

Today's day is marked by two disasters. The one was the little retro games hunting I did. I was really in the mood of spending money for my colletion of old games. I know, geeky but if you think for a second, if you like stamps, won't you collect them? Let's face it. If you have something you like to do is usually a hobby (rarely a job) and everybody like old hobbyist items. I mean, all the photography freaks I know could kill a kitty for an old Leica SLR.

So I started by buying four titles for my old trusty Sega Saturn. I bought four of them (namely Hexen, Sega Rally, Virtua fighter, Magic Carpet) right from the mid-nineties. And... that's about it.

The store where I got the titles was full of other nice collectable items. Most of them were either overpriced (26 euros for a SNES cartridge? 10 euros for an original Gameboy title? oh COME ON PEOPLE!) or too heavy to carry back to Greece. I really wanted that NES console with some games, but too heavy and I don't want to break a console that survived for 25 or more years.

My other destination was the usual suspect; La Trocante. The disaster just striked me like a Neo-Geo cabinet fell on my head. The store was closed for an indefinite amount of time due to forced renovations. Looks like some hygene service of France didn't like the place (to be honest, it looked like a bad arranged warehouse) and they forced to renovations. That means that I can't reach these retro treasures from the inside. Not tomorrow, not in the next week. never.

That leaves me with the small stores that are scattered around Rennes. Instead of being a hunt like "duck hunt", it became a hunt like "monster hunter tri". OK bad pun.

*Bleep*

Handling goodbyes isn't my 'forte'. I get very emotional but the cynicist that leaves inside me shouts like there's no tomorrow.

Looking at the cynic part of things, It shouldn't bother me so much. I mean it's totally natural to forget someone you don't see in your everyday life. Sure there will always be Facebook and contacts and other thingies. "if you want you can keep in touch" but how viable is this? If we get to know each 20 years back, what would be our post-partum communication?

Other than that, what are we going to discuss in these post-partum communications? I mean, we know nothing about eachother's life before we came for erasmus. It's unlikely if we strike a conversation that has to do with common experiences by any mean.

But don't be afraid. I don't cheapen the bond we have between us. But I question if they will enjoy a long lasticity or just obey to the human nature as we know it.

*bleep*

Today there was another disaster. A critical thing. I studied nothing for the forecoming exam this Tuesday. Instead of it, I had the aftermentioned retro run, a look-around for presents for friends and family and probably the most filling dinner I had in Rennes. So filling, I actually didn't finish it. It was a dinner at "L'amour de la Pomme de Terre". It' has lots of potatoes apparently.

But there's still two days to finish studying. Counting the fact that these lessons ARE my cup of tea (in contradiction with the previous ones) this shouldn't be a problem. I mean, a bit of procrastination never hurt anyone, right?

OK I think it's enough for today. I think I must sleep now. Too bad they have switched off the central heating (stupid Beaulieu)

OH before I go. I've met a Greek man that was a student here 40 years ago! YES INDEED! Beaulieu 33 is 40 years old. INSA too and Etoile, Fugeres and Villejean restaurants are equally old. yay?

So, off I go. See you around!

Δευτέρα, 26 Απριλίου 2010

A quick break of Tandem

I can't sleep. Dunno why but somehow my body refuses to put itself to rest. I guess that's what studying does.

I revived my old netbook that was put in the closet for some months now. I changed it's name from "netbook" to "bedbook" since it's really useful for quick strolls to the interwebs while waiting forr sleep to set in.

It's a shame because, after taking a brand new EEEpc with hard disk, big screen and able to run most programs, I see that something is missing to the whole "cheap computers for connectivity purposes". I still miss how my old 701 just boots me to the desktop in less than a minute. Ready to surf all html goodness and some limited flash usage while connecting with all the possible clients for Facebook, Twitter and Blogger.

Besides, you can't just shoove the newest eeepc's in bags and toss it around like nothing's wrong. Hard disk falures and broken screens are what you have to expect when you toss away the bag that contains the brand-new and shiny Netbook of yours but that's something that rarely bothers the good ol' 701.

So, my bedbook is awesome. I think I'll try ton renew it's battery.

Moving forward, the studying is going good. Not dreamy, but I think I'll succeed. But I have never given exams to other univercities other than mine, so I don't know what to expect. oh well.

So, I am leaving you with that. I'll go and try to sleep again. come on Mario! Tomorrow there's a new effort to do!!!

Τετάρτη, 14 Απριλίου 2010

Περιπέτειες, περιπέτειες, περιπέτειες



Τι αξία θα είχε το Erasmus χωρίς περιπέτεια; Απο μόνο του είναι μια μεγάλη περιπέτεια. Πόσο μάλλον οταν δίνει την δυνατότητα να ζήσεις την περιπέτεια μέσα στην περιπέτεια. Νομίζω οτι τα έκανα πολύ περίπλοκα τα πράγματα. Ας ξεκινήσουμε λοιπόν.

Το Σ/Κ του πάσχα αποφασίσαμε να πάμε μια βόλτα στο Saint Malo. Τα παιδιά απο την ρουμανία δεν είχαν ξαναπάει - το ίδιο κι εγώ - οπώτε κάναμε το καλό και ξεκινήσαμε να δούμε το περιβόητο Saint Malo αλλά και το Dynard το οποίο είναι σχεδόν απέναντι.
Πρώτα λοιπόν πήγαμε στο Dynard και μετά περάσαμε στο Saint Malo με το καραβάκι. Ακόμα και αν είχε συννεφιά και σχετικό κρύο - χώρια που έπιασε αέρα και βροχή κάποια στιγμή- φάγαμε απο τα περιβόητα παγωτά της πόλης. Τα οποία παρεπιπτόντως είναι τόσο καλα, που θα μπορούσαν να κάνουν χίλια κομμάτια και τις ποιό καλές δίαιτες.

Κλίκ στο άλμπουμ για να μεταφερθείτε



Και σαν να μήν έφταναν όλα αυτά, αποφασίσαμε να πάμε εκδρομή στην κοιλάδα του Λίγηρα. Ενα μαγευτικό μέρος που πέρα απο το απίστευτα όμορφο και πλατύ ποτάμι, είναι γεμάτο με αρχοντικά, κάστρα και παλάτια. Πολλά απο αυτά προστατευμένα απο την Unesco, άλλα απο την Γαλλική κυβέρνηση και άλλα απο ιδιώτες. Οι πόλεις της κοιλάδας είναι επίσης εντυπωσιακές. Μεγάλοι καθεδρικοί ναοί, όμορφα σπίτια και αρχοντικά, παλάτια και άλλα. Ξεκινήσαμε λοιπόν απο την Ορλεάνη.



Εκεί βρήκαμε εναν πραγματικα ΤΕΡΑΣΤΙΟ καθεδρικό ναό. Ενας γίγαντας πολλών τετραγωνικών μέτρων που μέσα του μπορούν να χωρέσουν οι μεγαλύτερες Ελληνικές εκκλησίες μαζί με το προαύλιό τους. Απ' όσο ξέρω, ο συγκεκριμένος ναός είναι αφιερωμένος μεταξύ άλλων και στην Ιωάννα της Λωρένης.Ανιπεβεβαίωτη πληροφορία φυσικά, αλλά με το άγαλμά της στην κεντρική πλατεία και αρκετές εκθέσεις αφιερωμένες στο πρόσωπό της είναι αρκετά βάσιμη.

Σειρά είχε το κάστρο Shambourd. 'Η αλλιώς όπως το αποκαλώ το "χαμογελαστό παλάτι" (θα ανακαλύψετε στις φωτογραφίες το γιατί) Πρόκειται για ένα τεράστιο παλάτι το οποίο περιτριγυρίζεται απο εναν εθνικό δρυμό γεμάτο αρκούδες και ελάφια. Ευτυχώς δεν είδαμε ούτε το ένα, ούτε το άλλο. Γύρω απο το παλάτι υπάρχουν κήποι και δρομάκια, ενώ διατείθενται βάρκες για βαρκάδα και ποδήλατα για ποδηλατάδα. Κάποια απο αυτά για περισσότερα απο 2 άτομα.



Το ενδιαφέρον βρίσκεται όχι μόνο στο εσωτερικό του, με τα πατώματα, τις ορτντινάντζες και τα έπιπλα να είναι σε πολύ καλή κατάσταση, αλλά και στην ποιό πρόσφατη ιστορία του παλατιού.
Κατα την διάρκεια του Δευτέρου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, υπήρξε αποθήκη και καταφύγιο για τα μεγαλύτερα έργα τέχνης του κόσμου. Μάλιστα, μία κυρία η οποία υπήρξε διπλή πάρκτορας, έκανε στα κρυφά μια λίστα με όλα τα έργα που βρισκόντουσαν μέσα στο παλάτι-αποθήκη την οποία την παρέδωσε στην Γαλλική κυβέρνηση μετά τον πόλεμο για να μπορέσουν να τα "επαναπατρίσουν".

Η ημέρα μας τελείωσε στην Tours και Saumont. Μιάς που μας είχε πάρει ήδη το απόγευμα. Τα κάστρα κλείνουν κοντά στις εξί και μισή το απόγευμα. Αρκετά νωρίς αν αναλογιστεί κανείς οτι νυχτώνει κατα τις 8 πια. Τι να πείς...
Τέλος πάντων στην Saumont φάγαμε παγωτό. Είδαμε ενα κτήριο απο τα παράθυρα του οποίου πετάγονταν χρυσοί δράκοι (κάποιος έχει πρόβλημα με τα ζωάκια του μάλλον) βγάλαμε φωτογραφίες ΕΞΩ απο το τοπικό παλάτι, διότι ήταν κλειστό, και καναμε διάφορες τρέλλες στον κήπο. Η Tours απο την άλλη δεν μας έδωσε παρά μερικά πολύ πολύ γραφικά δρομάκια και το σπίτι το οποίο αποτέλεσε τελευταία κατοικία του Leonard DaVinci. Φυσικά και ΔΕΝ μπήκαμε, αλλά ρίξαμε μια φευγαλέα ματιά στο πάρκο, με τα διάφορα κατασκευάσματα που έφτιαξαν με βάση τα σχέδια που βρέθηκαν μέσα στο σπίτι.



Η νύχτα μας επιφύλλαξε μια έκπληξη. Επιπλοκές που μας άφησαν χωρίς στέγη, όμως τα καλά τα παλικάρια ξέρουν άλλα - καλά- μονοπάτια. Ετσι, μείναμε σε ένα πολύ-πολύ φτηνο ξενοδοχείο που ήξερε ένα απο τα παιδιά το οποίο θα μπορούσε να το αποκαλέσει κάπιος "φασφουντάδικο των ξενοδοχείων". Τουλάχιστον ήταν αρκούντως καθαρό και περιποιημένο, ενώ το πρωινό του, αν και απλό, ήταν ό,τι καλύτερο για την γεμάτη ημέρα που είχαμε μπροστά μας.

Επόμενη στάση, το κάστρο Villandry. Ενα απο τα ομορφότερα και ποιο καλοδιατηρημένα κάστρα στην Ευρώπη. Τόσο πλήρες που νομίζεις οτι κάποιος μένει εκεί. Υπάρχουν λουλούδια - φρέσκα αληθινά λουλούδια σε ΟΛΑ Τα βάζα του κάστρου, καλοδιατηρημένα έπιπλα, όμορφα δωμάτια γεμάτα μικρά και μεγάλα πράγματα καθημερινής ζωής των παρελθόντων ενοίκων του. Απο την ταράτσα φαίνεται ο πανέμορφος κήπος με τα συμμετρικά παρτέρια, τα ρυάκια και μια μεγάλη λίμνη με κύκνους, πλαισιωμένα με δάσος απο την μία πλευρά, και τοίχο απο την άλλη.



Το κάστρο έχει την δική του παραγωγή σε σπόρους, φυτά και λουλούδια, ενώ δεν λείπουν και οι τεράστιες κολοκύθες - αυτές που γίνονται lantern Jacks για το Haloween. Η κουζίνα είχε ψωμί, ενώ πωλούνταν σπόροι, εργαλεία για τον κήπο και λουλούδια σε πολύ καλές τιμές. Σίγουρα το ομορφότερο κάστρο που είδαμε στο ταξιδι.

Σειρά είχε το Azay Le Rideau, ένα ακόμα κάστρο πλαισιωμένο με ενα τεράστιο καταπράσινο πάρκο με λίμνη. Το κάστρο είναι καθαρά γοτθικου ρυθμού, με τα ανοιχτά κλιμακοστάσια και τα παράθυρα με τα πολλαπλά πορτόνια. Το μοναδικό όμως μέρος του είναι τα δωμάτια αγγλικού γούστου που περιέχουν έπιπλα, τραπέζια τράπουλας και μπιλιάρδο απο βικτωριανή εποχή. Το κάστρο διστυχώς δεν είχε την αίσθηση του ζωντανού που είχε το Villandry.



Το επόμενο κάστρο είναι το κάστρο της ωραίας κοιμωμένης. Εκεί το παραχέσανε λίγο με την "ζωή" στο κάστρο, όμως τα φορέματα και τα υφάσματα που είδαμε είτε ήταν αυθεντικά (!) είτε συντηρημένα - αυθεντικά δηλαδή αλλά με διορθώσεις- είτε πιστές ρέπλικες. Νομίζω το κάθε κορίτσι θα ήθελε να γίνει η πριγκίπισσα του παραμμυθιού. Το κάστρο Usse είναι αυτό ακριβώς το όνειρο. Ξεκινήσαμε την περιήγηση απο τους ψηλούς πυργίσκους περνόντας απο την ατραξιόν με τις κέρινες κούκλες που αναπαριστούν την ιστορία της Ωραίας Κοιμωμένης, είδαμε την σοφίτα, την οποία πέρα απο έναν διάδρομο, την είχαν αφήσει όπως είναι (!) ακόμα και με τις αράχνες και την σκόνη. Διατήρησαν το μυστήριο μιας παλιάς κλειστής σοφίτας. Πολύ καλό.
Στα κάτω δωμάτια, είδαμε το προφυρό δωμάτιο που προοριζόταν για τις επισκέψεις του Βασιλιά, την μεγάλη τραπεζαρία, έργα τέχνης, κέρατα απο ελάφια - προφανώς λάφυρα απο το κυνήγι των κυρίων. Γύρω απο το κάστρο, υπήρχε ένας σταύλος, στον οποίο εξέθεταν σέλλες και κάρα διαφόρων ειδών, ακόμα και εκδρομικά. Επίσης είδαμε εναν παλιό καθεδρικό ναό και μία τρωγλοδύσια στην οποία ζούσαν οι οινοποιοί-υπηρέτες. Η σκλαβιά αλλάζει μόνο όνομα ανα τους αιώνες...



Τέλος, πρίν φύγουμε είπαμε να επισκευτούμε μερικά άλλα κάστρα τα οποία διστυχώς ήταν κλειστά. Το μόνο που πήραμε απο αυτά είναι φωτογραφίες και μερικές μικρές εκθέσεις.
Κρίμα γιατί δεν είδαμε ούτε το στοιχειωμένο κάστρο του Brisaac ούτε το κάστρο που ειναι χτισμένο πάνω σε γέφυρα.

Ελπίζω τα βήματά μου να με ξαναφέρουν στην κοιλάδα του ποταμού Λήγηρα: Την γή των παραμμυθιών. Διότι τόσο η φύση, όσο και τα κάστρα - που είναι πολλά περισσότερα απ΄όσα μπορεί να φανταστεί κανείς ( και φυσικά πολλά περισσότερα απο αυτά που επισκευτήκαμε) σίγουρα αποτέλεσαν εμπνευση για τα περισσότερα μεσσαιωνικά παραμμύθια και ιστορίες με τις οποίες μεγαλώσαμε.

Τρίτη, 9 Φεβρουαρίου 2010

The university of Rennes 1 and the student life

I’m currently sitting inside the little cage that calls itself “a student lodgment” and it’s time to talk for the educational and social system that exists in France.

First off, let’s start from the blocks of cement I’m currently standing on; the student hostel of Beaulieu 33.

 image

It’s an old building (not neo-classic of course) and it’s possible that hundreds of students have been stayed on each room throughout the years. The commonly used kitchen and toilets are quite dirty and worn out. It’s not that they are comparable to the astronomic odor of shit in the shared toilets of Greek Army since the toilets here get cleaned by the personnel, but there’s always some primal people who didn’t learn to respect the others.

The room is ok even if it’s more of a… cage. The window serves well since it allows plenty of light to go through and the plastic window shields keep the light and the curious glances outside at will.

Inside the building there’s also an automatic vending machine that provides coffee, sodas and snacks and a TV room that I’ve never used (not that I would ever use it)

In the near buildings there are also washing machines, library where its space is also used for tabletop and social games, the university restaurant Etoile, the reception where you can make complains and photocopies and the secretary that besides the arrangement of papers, it is entitled to gather the rents.

We proceed to the core of the interest. The university itself.

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I am taking my lessons in the Faculte de Droit et Science Politique (in short Fac de Droit) that’s placed in the center of the city. It’s a huge building, externally ugly that hosts the two faculties, amphitheaters and hundreds of halls and offices.

The main amphitheatric spaces are seven and they are huge enough to host conferences, projections and other stuff, way more formal than simple lectures. The amphitheater 6 sports three floors and reminds me of a small Opera of Athens.

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The microphone systems are always on. Imagine that those amphitheaters are huge and always full, so there’s havoc going on. That’s why the professor always comes with a microphone in hand. With his first two words, everybody shuts up and the lesson begins.

But, the university isn’t all for lessons and exams and again lessons. It’s a fine tuned mechanism of services. The university hires bilingual French students (or yearly-stayed erasmus students) to help their international comrades who face difficulties because they don’t have French as their maternal language. There are also other programs undergoing at the same time, varying from cultural happenings, conferences to social discussions with subject such the homophobia and young alcoholism.

But the university isn’t an the only institution that provides services to the students. There are other institutions that take care of various other services. For example, the after mentioned lodgment, it’s managed my CROUS. The same institution also manages the Restaurants.

The academic restaurants are scattered in the city. There’s Etoile, Fugeres and Brasserie Hoche and other small spots that serve food daily in specific times. The price of a full lunch is 2.60 for the students, via the special coupons that are on sale into the restaurants. In the price is included the main dish, the dessert and the entrant that can be replaced with a salad. The quantity sure is far from what i get from the university restaurant in Mytilini, but the food is perfect both in quality and variety.

Generally in the central dining room, when you get out from the self-service, there are different sauces to add, mayonnaise, ketchup and, if you find the food a bit too cold for your tastes, there are microwave ovens available for a quick heating.

I haven’t ate something I didn’t like until now. From the classic burgers with fries to fish fillet with steamed vegetables and rice, everything was very good. The same thing can be said for the salads that usually contain cheese  (I also found one that had Roquefort in it) and the desserts vary from tart pieces to yoghurt with fruit and composted fruit salads.

You ‘ll tell me; “gee, Mario, you ARE paying for this” in contradiction to Greece where the food is free in the University's Restaurant. But I bet Housemaster and George would have no proclaims and gladly pay if our university’s restaurant looked, smelled, and tasted close to the restaurants here.

I kind of made you hungry, eh? Sorry for that. I kind of went off-rails with the nom-noms too but I wanted to tell you so bad.

Let’s have a glance at the social organizations that are available in Rennes and they are mostly dedicated to the young people. The UEB is the main organism that is associated with the university and the center of youth, the 4 BIS are only some parts of the organized effort for youth orientation.

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In the 4 BIS are located a lot of services that left me with dropped jaws when I’ve heard them. There’s the Multimedia space, where young people can use the computers to surf the internet via open source software such as Firefox and open office. It’s also a calm place for reading and studying, it has wireless and there are huge bookcases filled with informational folders for the various available educational institutions and programs. There also was a young man that gave out the codes for the WiFi. Even the room was modern enough with carpet, vibrant colors and minimal pop style.

In the same building there’s a room that’s dedicated for happenings. Those happenings vary from theatre and speeches to rock concerts. They are not even comparable to the boring, pretentious and sterile bullshit we get in Greece from such organizations. Here there’s no stop on how the young people express themselves. If it is electro or punk rock, that’s what it is. I won’t be surprise even if they drop a Drague Queen show (you know, men who dress like famous women for satirical purposes like Zaxaratos does in Greece) But I think such show has been already done in Diapason. I am not sure though

Also, in the 4 Bis are various supporting offices, advertisements and classfields for employment, sell and buy, or co-travelling via car. There’s also an office dedicated to search of lodgment and a counselor for the independence from the family – Something we REALLY NEED in Greece- and a space for expositions of photography or paintings.

Finally, I stand impressed the most by the last space of 4bis. It’s the space for health, and psychological support. There are small tables for conversation and at the same time, there is a psychiatrist available at all time, without pre-fixed date that gives help anonymously for everyone who asks for help in the subjects of health, sex, psychological problems, even violence in the family.

That building is the screaming proof that social politics can work out if there is good will. It’s existence is totally devoted to youth that even the opening time is the same when the young people wake up (12 o’clock) and shuts down a bit before the young people go out for a drink (8 o’clock in the evening). It’s services doesn’t take place entirely inside the 4bis. They organize excursions, they help children without papers to integrate and get education in the country, and they organize themed nights in famous bars of the town. There’s always something to do and someone to turn for help if you have a problem. It’s something much needed to a lot of countries and Greece is among them.

Well to conclude, Greece VS France? I don’t want to look ungrateful to my country, but it’s so messed up in comparison. I also appreciate the good stuff that we have and my other fellow student seem to not understand such us the dialectical method of our professors and the free distribution of books and notes. The system of entering the university via university exams straight to the institution of choice is way-way better than the national exams in Greece.

Also, while in a company of same age men, I mentioned that I’ll be in the army next year because it was mandatory. Their reaction was like “Dude, that happened to your countries too like two or three decades ago why it’s still mandatory in yours?” That says it all by itself.

So, I hope i got you enough into the mood of what’s running around here. Still, I feel like I left a lot out. It’s too much of new experience to put it together into one single post, so I’d be explaining further on the next ones.

Hey! look! Linkies!

lodgment and restauration CROUS

UEB and LES 4 BIS

university Rennes 1