This weekend was full of small frustrations

This weekend was full of small frustrations, but I learned some good lessons and added to my understanding of blogging tools substantially.

The first conclusion -- after a string of tests that kept me at the keyboard until well past midnight last night -- is that Radio was a great choice in terms of "power" features at a symbolic price, but totally unworkable for someone who wants to access the blog from any computer with an Internet hookup.

Radio resides on your "main" machine, and you have to return to it if you want to post. "Remote" posting by e-mail is theoretical. All your posts sit in the e-mail account waiting for you to return to the "main" machine, fire up Radio, and let it download the haul and publish it on the blog. What happens if you're in Greenland for the weekend? Or for the month?

I must admit my move from Blogger/Blog*Spot to Radio was rather impulsive... but, at least, that gave me a chance to analyze things in greater detail and "see the light..." (until next night).

Radio will thus be terminated soon. One of Sphaera's priorities is to report in detail on the upcoming trial of the 17 November bloody terrorists. The trial begins on March 3, only a week from tomorrow. Therefore, the migration has to be swift and send Sphaera to a stable, flexible platform.

The weekend was thus consumed almost exclusively in comparing blog tools and hosting alternatives. The next step (hurrah!) is to power Sphaera, under its own domain name, with Pmachine and host it on Pmachine Hosting.

So, onward Sphaera soldiers, and glory is ours...!!!

PS: But I'll miss Radio's news aggregator...

US to Move Troops to Turkey Under Tentative Deal

US to Move Troops to Turkey Under Tentative Deal.

This is slow and painful, but I think both the U.S. and Turko-land are condemned to live together -- and this is the rare case where I'm going to say the U.S. deserves entirely its "partner" in arms. What remains to be seen is what is the U.S. proposal of controlling the Turko intention of slaughtering the Kurds and grabbing northern Iraq's oil wells. Would American troops point their guns at their "friends and allies?"-- because it would take some muscle to stop these vandals...

I was reading in yesterday's Kathimerini daily that Greece

I was reading in yesterday's Kathimerini daily that Greece is (again) last on the list of preferred tourist destinations for EU visitors. Spain, France, and Italy take the bulk of the tourists, with Britain a distant fourth. Greece fails to win a respectable niche entirely and hovers at the bottom of the ladder, as always....

When you think that tourism is this country's single most important euro/foreign exchange earner, you'd think that the government would be 24/365 at it. But, hardly. The so-called Greek Tourist Organization (EOT) is a riddled repository of political appointees that suck up money for doing very little. Tourist infrastucture is decayed and without planning. Advertising Greece abroad is next to non-existent. Government-sponsored incentives are nil. Add to this the traditional dislike of the Greeks of offering courteous, organized service and you get the picture...

One of the most glaring examples of how Greece shoots herself in the foot (if not in the head) over tourism is the state of the Greek Aegean islands. These "jewels," abandoned during the winter, come to (relative) life during the summer, but only to receive largely cheapskate visitors arriving in charter flights or braving the waves in boats most of which are 30 years old or older (some improvement is occuring in this sector thanks to EU-directed deregulation).

With the exception of a handful of larger islands, like Rhodos and Kos, hospitality facilities are crummy and expensive. The islanders, having only a couple of months of lucrative trade, leave no opportunity to fleece go unexploited. Last summer, with the effects of September 11 biting deep, the situation was almost out of control, with prices going through the roof despite paltry demand. (This is another uniquely Greek phenomenon: when demand falls, prices rise.)

Some years ago I had stopped at a little village in Austria, somewhere near the Swiss border. It was late by central European standards and eating a meal looked less than probable. I stopped at a small restaurant. The last patrons were leaving. But the waitress was very polite (still wearing a VERY clean apron after a full day's work) and said I could certainly have something to eat, but pardon the cook for being unable to offer the whole menue. With the place practically closed, I was served a juicy steak with French fries and a side of onion salad, but, most importantly, the whole exercise was carried out with the smile on the part of the waitress.

After the meal (it was nearly midnight) I even found a private home that rented rooms to tourists -- and, again, I was received with a smile and led to a loft with a big double bed with crisp white sheets and a SPARKLING clean bathroom. Sheer bliss.

Sadly, I bet there isn't a Greek in Greece, involved in the "tourist industry," who can even contemplate this level of simple, yet enormously effective, service....

Athens' lack of progress concerns IOC; venues, security behind schedule

It all evolves with mathematical precision:

Speaking at a news conference after an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, [IOC chairman Jacques] Rogge delivered a warning to the Greeks similar to one his predecessor, Juan Antonio Samaranch, issued in April 2000. Samaranch said Athens' Olympic organization was the worst he had seen in 20 years as IOC president [Italics mine].

Was there any doubt from the beginning? Did the IOC gang truly believe that Dodo Yodo Yianna's Cretan eyes alone (and a few million dollars in party money from her husband) could actually ensure that this huge business of the "games" could be organized by a country with the lengthiest tradition of untold disarray, miserable bureaucracy, and a battalion of professional malingerers and thieves at the wheel?

Rogge and Denis Oswald, head of the IOC commission overseeing preparations for the Games, cited three areas of specific concern:

The government has yet to sign a contract for security equipment.

A total renovation of Athens' main soccer venue is far from under way.

Work at several other sports venues is far enough behind to jeopardize planned test events at those sites and the amenities at the venues for the Olympics.

While the security contract is the single biggest ticket item (estimated to approach $1 billion / $1 billion, and not just $600 million) of the whole mess to be in imminent danger, the overall picture of "Olympic" construction is even scarier. Local news is abuzz with horror stories of collapsing highways and substandard public works, most of which took 10 and 20 years to "finish." Building for the Athens 2004 Fiasco is mostly in the hands of the same contractors presently seeing their handiwork elsewhere implode and disintegrate due to poor workmanship, cutting corners, bad engineering, and deep-pocket corruption. Who can ensure that "Olympic works" being built infinitely more presing time frames -- literally on the fly --with a swarm of foreign unskilled labor, won't suffer the same or even worse fate? A big, big question of quality assurance and pure safety of the facilities...

Oswald said delays at other unspecified construction sites may cause eight test events to be run at non-Olympic venues.

The IOC also is concerned that some roads may not be finished, which will have significant impact on plans to reduce the notorious Athens traffic during the Olympics.

Oswald nearly had a heart attack when, during a recent visit, he hopped in a car and headed for venues "under construction" without Dodo Yodo in tow. He saw holes in the ground (full of mud waters), he saw a sprinkling of mainly Albanian and Asian workers idling in the rain, he saw a few earth movers with engines off, and returned to his hotel in "a state of fury." There must be something VERY big that kept him from choking Dodo Yodo, Venizelos, and the rest of the sorry Greek troupe...

Greek culture minister downplays IOC warning on Olympic delays

Greek culture minister downplays IOC warning on Olympic delays. - Sat Feb 22, 05:42 pm GMT [News4Sites - Greece]

I think all parties involved in the Athens 2004 Folly -- with the exception of very few -- have reconciled themselves to the idea of an Athens Fiasco. The bar is lowered every now and then, more warnings ensue, the bar goes even farther down, and the game continues. I bet minutes before the opening bell, Venizelos the Grand (a.k.a. Fat Boy,) the IOC, and Dodo Yodo Yianna would be still involved in finger wagging and "press statements" blaming each other. How perfectly, tragically Greek...

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