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15 January 2019

Again to the Snowy Top of Mount Zas

We've been there 2 years ago
A cairn on the way up to mount Zas

Two years ago we had visited the top of mount Zas (the highest mountain on Naxos) on a snowy day. Last winter we didn't get any snow, but there was a tiny bit of snow at the beginning of January this year. Time for another go!


Continue reading "Again to the Snowy Top of Mount Zas"
Posted by betabug at 16:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 January 2019

Happy New Year 2019! Καλή Χρονιά! Guets Neus!

This weblog has lasted 14 years already...
A nice Vasilopita

A nice and Happy New Year 2019 to everybody! This winter has brought some nice rains to the island of Naxos so far and the night into the new year was no exception. We passed the year mark in a good downpour. Which for the island is a good thing, and personally I was glad to be warm and cozy inside!

The picture shows a typical greek βασιλόπιττα (vasilopitta, a cake eaten on new year's day, with a hidden "coin" inside for someone to find).

2018 was... I don't know. One of those years. It had a lot of ups and downs I guess. Some difficult times, but also some good friends to help going through those times. Sometimes things can only be taken one step at a time.

In blog years, 2018 was lame. This weblog has been around for 14 full years now, but it spent 2018 on "minimal mode". The start wasn't even so bad, with 2 posts per month in the first month, and then even a spike of activity in April (when we had our "sprint" on Naxos). But then it went down to "oh oh, it's already the end of the month, time to write a post to not have an empty month!" (again). Sometimes I had ideas for quick, short posts in the style I used to have in the first years of this blog... but then other things were happening, and I forgot again. Too bad. I don't know how to rekindle my own interest in the blog, but at least I'm not thinking about stopping.

In cycling, I did quite well in 2018. I rode a 200km brevet in January, and managed to ride very slightly more than 10'000km in a year. My strongest year so far. I have no new goals for cycling in 2019, for now the goal is only to have fun out riding.


Posted by betabug at 19:05 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
27 December 2018

10'000

Nice, round numbers, goals, and distances
On a nice, sunny ride with the Kastro Team

I didn't set up a goal for how much I wanted to ride this year. Last year I was close to 10'000km, but not close enough to seriously think about getting there. The last winter was very dry here, so I rode a lot. Then I had a very strong spring, with some months where I hit 1000km each month. So at some point I started to think more serious about it.

It must have been somewhere in late summer, when I accepted that this had become a "goal" for me. Get to 10'000km riding this year. I normally try to ride 10 hours or about 200km each week. With 52 weeks, it seems easy enough to get to 10'000. But then, there are periods of bad weather (I used to ride gladly in bad weather too, but now I'm more thinking about staying safe and healthy). Speaking of "healthy", there are a usually also the periods when I catch a cold, and usually 1 week of riding is lost, while the next week is very limited. Travelling is another cause for missing kilometers.

But this year, things more or less worked out. In February I had an infection from a scratch from one of our village cats. 2 weeks without riding. I did one trip to Switzerland, without bike. 12 more days off. As mentioned, spring had lots of riding, summer wasn't so bad (in summer there is heat and lots of tourist traffic here, so I ride less). In fact I was coming along so well, that for a long time I had a buffer of about 500 to 800km.

Then in November I went to Spain for a sprint, and a chance to cycle up the Angliru climb (famous from La Vuelta). Also a chance to do some flatter kilometers to, around Lugo. So I had done plenty of training riding up the Liona climb (the toughest climb we have on Naxos, still only about a bit less than half as much as Angliru...) Instead I did only 2 short rides and then cought a cold. No Angliru and lots of days off.

Now the "goal" thing became a bit more interesting. I wasn't really behind, but I couldn't slack off either. In the end we had a rainy period in December, but I managed to "work around it", or rather: ride around it.

Today I rode the final kilometers for my 10'000km goal for 2018. While I was ticking off the last 4, I thought about the riding in this year, what I could remember from each month. Some months were easy and I had good recollections. But I forgot the brevet I rode in January, and it took me a while to remember when we had gone to ride on Paros. Still, lots of good memories!

Coming back, I uploaded my ride to Strava, and updated my stats. But where it had told me yesterday that I had 9936km (64 below the magic number), now I had ridden 65 and it showed me I had 10'099 in total. I guess Strava is drunk. In any case, I'm past 10'000km and the goal is reached... and I still have some days to go this year.


Posted by betabug at 18:08 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
30 November 2018

27km/h

Nicht schnell
 

Als ich vor ein paar Tagen ein Mietauto übernahm, war auf dem Bordcomputer irgend was komisches eingestellt. Mit ein paar Mal auf den Knopf drücken versuchte ich, etwas sinnvolles zu sehen. Statt dessen kam ich auf die denkwürdige Anzeige: "Durchschnitts-Geschwindigkeit: 27km/h".

Schnell ist das nicht. Das Auto ist hier auf Naxos unterwegs, wo es keine Autobahnen gibt, und auch die Landstrassen selten mehr als 300m grade Strecke haben. Aber so tief hätte ich den Durchschnitt jetzt nicht vermutet. Immerhin kann man auch lange Strecken ungestört mit 50-60km/h fahren. Viel Verkehr gibt es nicht und Stadtverkehr auch nicht wirklich. Mit dem Fahrrad bin ich mit so 21km/h auch nicht wirklich langsamer, allerdings ist das dort harte Arbeit, denn es geht hier immer auf und ab.

Am meisten erstaunt hat mich aber, dass der Autohersteller diese Zahl überhaupt zugängig macht. Der Traum von der freien Autofahrt ist doch nicht weit her, wenn man am Ende mit nicht mal 'nem schlappen Dreissiger unterwegs ist.


Posted by betabug at 21:34 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
31 October 2018

Cat Stories

In monthly installments

Oh wow, it's already the end of another month. Since I had the plan to make at least one post each month, let me tell you some cat stories. Everybody loves cat stories.

I live in a small village without cars. The "roads" are dimensioned for loaded donkeys and humans. Cars simply can't get through, you have to leave them outside the village. Which is good for the cats. Cars kill cats. They also ruin quality of life for people with their exhaust, their noise, their demands of space, so in my book, if a place works for cats, it's good for humans too.

In the evenings I feed the village cats. In the summer there are fewer of them coming to my "dinner date". That's when there are more people in the village, staying in their summer houses. They feed the cats too, so I might have only 5 or 6 guests. In winter I might have 14 or 15 cats coming for food. I'm not the only dinner date around, so not all of them are there each day. Still it's a carpet of cats and they all try to walk in front of my feet. One of those days I fall flat on my nose, my fall only being softened by a carpet of furry little cats. Or maybe they will get away in time and the fall will all be mine "clumsy human, can't land on his feet".

Some of them don't mind eating together (they are friends, or family, or both). Some don't like each other. I know a bit their habits, so some of them get a bit of food at the edge of the group by themselves. Sometimes I sit with them and listen to the "crack, crack, crack" of them eating their dry cat food.

Some days ago, a neighbor passed by. At first she was surprised to see them all, then she counted them (there were 10 of them). Then she told me that there was one cat she'd seen last year very thin and spindly, and that she saw here again now and she was all round and well fed. Indeed it doesn't need much. A bit of cat food here and there, and for the rest they can look after themselves. Even a beat up tomcat drifting through can get round with shiny fur once he picks up a bit of regular food each day.

One thing though makes an even bigger difference. Some people of our small neighborhood got together and we sterilized the females. We went from our neighborhood having lots of kittens twice a year, with a cat explosion going to come down, to a stable neighborhood population. Sure we won't run out of cats even now, there are always some drifters arriving and staying.

In other neighborhoods on Naxos, the Naxos animal welfare society is doing this task. In areas that are tourism based, there might not be many people staying all the year who could look after things. But for our local population it was easier to do it ourselves. If you've been to Naxos and noticed some nice cats, or even some not-so-nice cats in need of help, I can recommend giving NAWS some financial help. Even a small donation will go far.


Posted by betabug at 22:27 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
30 September 2018

Water Update

It's falling down and it's coming out of the pipe

At the start of this summer I was prepared for the worst. It pretty much hadn't rained for more than half the winter. The 2 big reservoirs on Naxos were only about half full. Two years ago, we were without water for 2 weeks in our village. I was expecting and had started to prepare for something similar.

Part of our preparations was implementing a few steps to reduce water usage - even if they would not change things on a big scale. For example collecting the water that runs out when you wait for the hot water before taking your shower. Another part was to have a bunch of plastic containers with water in the house (for washing, toilet, etc.) and some bottled water.

The situation was obviously discussed near and far in the local population. From the side of the municipality, I've heard about two measures that were taken. Not that I've heard anything from the municipality directly, communication is certainly not the strong part of Naxos' municipality. The first thing was that our plumber mentioned that they got/bought a system to discover leakage in the water network last year. The second one is that apparently the municipality announced that they bored more groundwater wells, so no problem about water in the summer.

There were also some water outages in Naxos town (Chora), and for quite some time the water coming out of the tap was yellowish/brownish. Obviously at those times they were dragging out the last drops from the reservoirs. Water was trucked from higher up places to town too.

As for our personal situation, we did not have any water outages this summer. Again, as there is no communication, I have no idea why. One day we were happily having lunch in Halki, when the waiter brought a plastic bottle of water instead of a "karafa" of plain tap water as usual. When we asked him about it, he said: "But haven't you heard that they connected a second well to our water network, one which is known to be unsafe for drinking due to heavy metals?" Ups. Someone else at the super market said the same thing. So we went and bought some bottled water too. That was definitely not to my liking, but what could we do?

In fact, what R did was very simple: She took a sample of our tap water to a chemical lab in town. It cost us 70 Euros and it took a day or two. Result: Our tap water was perfectly drinkable, without chemical, heavy metal, or microbial contamination. In fact the guy in the lab congratulated us on our water quality. We bought 2 weeks of plastic bottles for nothing, but better this way around.

By now we had a few days of rain and autumn / naxos-winter weather already. The summer tourism invasion (again another record high this summer) is over too, so I assume that the water consumption has gone down too. Everybody is hoping that this winter will bring more rain... even if it will be again summer for a while from next week.


Posted by betabug at 13:32 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 August 2018

End of Tourist Season

It's about time

So it's the end of August, and pretty much the end of the peak of the tourist season. I'm not much into ranting (especially on this weblog), but ah well, it's about time. For the last 4 years or so, each year there was a new record high of tourism. It really has passed any reasonable limit. Someone told me that in July there were 12'000 cars on Naxos. Since we officially have about 19'000 residents, you can imagine that this is a lot of cars. Also there wasn't much water from the previous winter, so resources were a problem. In Naxos town, there were days when the water supply was shut down.

Looking through the news, this seems to be a common theme all over the world. "Tourist hotspots" get badly overrun, leading to all kinds of problems for the people living there. Obviously there are places way worse off than Naxos, even if Naxos seems to be some kind of "fashionable" place lately. I don't know what gives. I understand that people want a vacation, but I don't get why everybody has to go to the same places.

Surprising enough, in our village the water supply has held up so far. According to rumours this is because another water source was connected, but which is not healthy to drink. Bad deal, in my humble oppinion. But then it's only a rumour. This has not kept me from mostly hiding in this village all summer, the best option to avoid the tourist hordes.

I cycled all summer, with only a slight reduction of distance. I managed very well to go out more in the late afternoon and evening, which helps to avoid the worst heat. I also went cycling mostly in the mountains. This helped me to avoid the worst of traffic, since it was a total madhouse down there.

I'm looking forward to September now. Temperatures will relax a bit more, the tourism traffic will reduce a bit more day by day. I guess I'll even go to swim now and then.


Posted by betabug at 17:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 July 2018

The Smell of Smoke

But where does it come from?
 

Today, leaving the house and going for a late run to the super market, I smelled it immediately. It smelled like smoke, like a wood fire. Now it's summer and it has been 35°C today, so there is really no chance that somebody lighted a fire in their wood stove or their open fire place. Instead I put two and two together with what I had read in the news.

When I arrived at the super market, people were lingering outside and talking about the smell. "Is there any fire around here?", they asked. I told them I believed that the smoke is carried over from Attica, from the forrest fires in Kineta and Pendeli near Athens. It's far, but the wind is in West-Nord-West, which is that direction. Some did not believe it, some agreed with me.

Naxos is somehow remote from Athens, it's as if those things don't touch us. But then friends call and tell of other friends of theirs whose houses are in danger.


Posted by betabug at 20:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 June 2018

Tasting the bitter coffee of the Nebula Humble Bundle

It's more of a mixed bag

Some years ago, when I lived in a shared appartment, one of my flatmates was an Italian with high culinary aspirations. But he was also a bit thrifty. So one day he went to a discount super market and bought a bag of coffee of their house brand. It did not take him very long to find out that what he bought was total rubbish and basically not drinkable, of which he complained loudly to me. I basically told him: "What did you expect from a bag of coffee for 1.50 Euro? Just throw it away and buy something better." But no, he insisted on finishing that bag of coffee, drinking all the bitter and foul tasting black fluid he produced with it.

Last month I came across a "Humble Bundle" of science fiction books. In case you don't know the "humble bundle" thing, it's some organization that sells bundles of software (mostly games) or ebooks, the buyer can set the price, and everything over a certain amounts goes to charity. Obviously the quality of the products in the bundle can vary quite a bit. In any case, I wanted something to read and was open to try my luck. The bundle was called: "Super Nebula Author Showcase 2018 presented by SFWA!"


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04 June 2018

Snapped Gear Cable... or Matrix-style Probe?

Snap goes the shifter
Is it a matrix-style implant... or just the head of a snapped gear cable?

This morning I rode down to the next village for some shopping. As I was going up again, I looked at my gears... "hmm, in the hardest gear, let's shift some up", I said to myself. The gear lever went part of the way, showed some resistance and then moved free with a clack. Classical case of a snapped gear cable. It was snapped right inside the shifter housing.

Now if I was out on the road somewhere, I'd pull out the remaining cable and fix it under the bottle cage to keep the gearing in a manageable position. But as I was only in the next village, I had no problem to get back home. Lucky for me, this didn't happen on my last ride on Saturday. There I was in the middle of the Naxian mountains, on some steep climbs in the noonday heat.

This afternoon I went to Giannis' bike shop to replace the cable. Most of the time for the job was spent to get this little piece of twisted wire out of the shifter. As the cable slowly breaks, the strands go one by one. I had actually noticed the shifting deteriorate lately. When it broke totally, it left this tangled mess that is then difficult to get out. And as Wu mentioned, it looks a bit like that robot probe thing from the Matrix movie.


Posted by betabug at 21:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

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