Monday, December 29, 2008


I'm a little out of touch with what's going on in Athens, since I am a bit preoccupied with things like left-over turkey, warm fuzzy socks, and Battlestar Galactica.

But apparently the French Institute got whacked a week or so ago.

See more pics over at PhDiva.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Broken Laptops and Trouble for Bloggers

Blogging is a bit difficult when your laptop looks like this:

This post was intended to act as an explanation for my not posting lately, but I have to say I am struggling, fighting, trying my damnedest not to turn this into the 'Why You Shouldn't Purchase Dell Laptops' Post. It's very hard to resist explaining how 'System Restore' and I became best friends; how the Blue Screen of Death has begun to follow me around like an annoying but plucky sidekick; how 'Delete Partition' has become part of my normal day to day vocabulary, when previously I had no idea what a partition even was. I really don't want to explain how I am now intimately familiar with the music Dell plays when you're on hold. I have no interest in describing how when you relinquish control of your computer through Remote Access, the way your mouse moves on its own accord is spookily reminiscent of PC Poltergeists.

Sure, my laptop is less than a year old. It's just very mature for its age. New hard drives - enh, been there, done that. New operating systems - old hat. My most recent fiasco? Apparently Dell screwed up with its video cards, which are embedded into the motherboard. This means that not only does your computer screen suddenly fragment into happy rainbow lines of many colors, but it can also cause operational know, like making all of your Program Files disappear.

But whatevs.The maintence man who came to bail me out today said that, while Dell is not admitting it out loud, the video cards are failing en masse. It may not sound like a big deal, but it means that Dell has to send techs out to replace not just the video cards in thousands of laptops, but the motherboards and sometimes the actual screens as well.

This scenario is oddly familiar to me, since I formerly owned an Averatec laptop. These had faulty motherboards and the input jack for the electrical cable was totally wonky. This is the type of bad design that not only makes your computer stop working, but starts melting plastic and causing ominous smoke tendrils to rise up out of the side. If the logical step from 'smoke' is to 'fire,' then yes, my last laptop caught on fire. As did those of a kagillion other people, some of whom I knew.

This is not mine.

So perhaps this isn't a rant against Dell, but against laptops. I love them dearly, I would die without them, if they ceased to exist, my life would not be worth living. But sometimes, on the bad days, Old Faithful the Desktop Computer starts to acquire a golden glow that's not just due to nostalgia. That golden glow might rather be related to halos, and heaven, and salvation. Perhaps the Laptop needs some smiting, since recently, in my mind, the Laptop is quickly becoming:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Riots in Athens

Just wanted to post a brief note to apologize for neglecting the blog. We got back from Crete on Sunday morning and things have been a bit hectic since. The last week before break is pretty busy here at the School, and I've been trying to get my AIA paper squared away and finished up before heading back to the States for Christmas goodies. But! I've got some fun post-topics planned for the very near future, so check back soon.

As for the riots here, as many people have commented, this is the worst rioting and violence seen in Greece since the Polytechneion uprising against the Junta in 1973.

Ever since that event (the deaths of some 22 students when the University was stormed by Junta tanks), there has been a long-lasting tradition of student uprisings and violent protests against the government.

All of that anger and love of total destruction has exploded here, following the fatal shooting of a teenager by police this weekend. Last night saw the worst of the violence so far, with urban warfare taking place not only throughout Athens, but all over Greece (Heraklion, Chania, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Patras, Larissa, Corfu, etc).

The rioting here has pretty much spread throughout the city, hitting Syntagma Square, the area of the University (the Polytechneion), Kolonaki, Piraeaus, etc. Who knew a bunch of high school and college kids could employ molotov cocktails to such devastating effect?

But fear not, parents and family members of Katie. We are safely hidden away up here. And no, I'm not crazy enough to wander down to the rioting to take pictures; those on my blog are all from the Internet. Besides being confined to the School compound, we haven't had much trouble, although some of our activities have been cancelled. No trips to the Archaeological Museum because it is right next to Exarchia and the Polytechneion (the home base of most of the molotovs) and because there were a bunch of bonfires in front of the Museum last night; don't worry, as of now, the antiquities are still safe and sound. There's a general transportation strike on Wednesday, so our joint seminar with Olga Palagia and her students has had to be postponed. The School is developing a contingency plan for any potential emergencies. We haven't heard much from the US Embassy other than to stay out of trouble:

U.S. Embassy, Athens, Greece
December 8, 2008

The United States Embassy alerts U.S. citizens to the continuing possibility of civil disturbances and demonstrations throughout Greece in the wake of the violent demonstrations that occurred on the weekend of December 6th and 7th. A national day of mourning is planned for Tuesday December 9th. A general strike, to include the transportation sector, is planned for Wednesday December 10th. We remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstration. American citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
The US Embassy

If you'd like to keep up on the news, stay tuned to Kathimerini (the english edition of Athenian news) and the BBC. I'll post updates if anything noteworthy occurs.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More riot snacks needed

We left Crete last night on the overnight ferry and made it back this morning at about 6am.

'Police Shooting sparks riots in Greece.'
U.S. Embassy Athens, Greece
December 7, 2008

The Embassy has instructed its employees to stay away from downtown Athens today Sunday December 7th due to large and violent demonstrations which started on Saturday night. More demonstrations are planned for today. We urge that Americans avoid not only downtown Athens today but any other areas in which demonstrations may be encountered.
The US Embassy in Athens