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A Brief Respite

September 18, 2010

The next week or so of our vacation was nice, but pretty uneventful. We saw a temple of Poseidon and a temple of Artemis near Athens. Then we headed out to the villages Ritsa’s family is fun and spent some time with her uncle and aunt Constantine and Helen. The second day, Ritsa’s friend R showed up to join us.

We spent time in the villages with various and assorted members of Ritsa’s family, and we managed to squeeze in another trip to Monemvassia. There was also a fair amount of time spent swimming at the beach.

The highlight of the time in Livadi was watching Aunt Helen climb up on to the kitchen counter with a broom to kill a wasp. As you can see, we had a nice, relaxing time there.

On to bigger and brighter things: Lesvos. Lesvos (or as the Greeks call it, Mitilini) is a Greek Island near Turkey. It is the home of Sappho and where the term “lesbians” is derived from. These days, it as well known for ouzo as it is lesbians.

We shared a beach house with R, and we could actually see Turkey from our house. Swimming and day trips ensued. I will get into the day trips in the next post, but one interesting thing we did at the beach house is buy produce from the vans that drive by. We bought of kilogram of dried chickpeas (which we did not finish and will bring home with us) and a kilogram of sword fish, of which we ate about 2/3 and some cats ate the other 1/3.

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And Don’t Call Me Shirley

September 16, 2010

I am finally getting  a chance to blog about my vacation.  Everyone give thanks to Galata Life Hotel.  I will be starting with the beginning of the trip, which was August 26th, 2010.

We flew from Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA.)  The only interesting thing about the flight is that I got to drink two cans of complementary Warsteiner.  Lufthansa is nice.

We spent the morning in the executive lounge thanks to my wife’s elite status and our international tickets.  From there we flew to Athens (ATH.)  The flight to ATH was very different from the flight to FRA.

First, there was a LOT more talking.  The flight to FRA was a graveyard compared to the ATH flight.  Greeks are a chatty bunch, and this flight was no exception.

The second, and much funnier part of the FRA-ATH flight was the bathroom five rows ahead of us.  I watched a little old man leave the bathroom, and, a few minutes later, a woman entered the bathroom.  She turned around and came right back out.

I chuckled a little to myself, figuring the man had left a pungent odor in the stall.  I thought I had further proof for my hypothesis when another woman went in and came out a few minutes later, none the worse for wear.

However, I was wrong, because the next person who was supposed to enter the bathroom was a little girl, guided by her mother.  I almost laughed out loud when the little girl poked her head in, pulled it out quickly, and just shook her head “NO!” to her mother.  The mother then, looked in, looked down, made a face, and escorted her child back towards the back of the plane.

Another person also refused to enter the forbidden zone, but she summoned a flight attendant.  The attendant, looked in, looked down, scrunched up her face, and summoned another attendant.  The second attendant looked in, looked down, closed the door and locked it from the outside.  He then went and found a sticker and placed it on the door.

On the way out, I read the sticker.  It said, “Out of Order.  Do not use.”  I never did find out what that little old man did to that poor bathroom.

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George Lyssikatos

November 27, 2009

Reprinting George’s obituary:

George Lyssikatos, 73, peacefully passed away on November 24th with his wife of 43 years, Katerina, at his side. Born in Melana, Greece, George was the fifth of seven children. As a teenager he immigrated to Montreal, Canada and in the years that followed, George married, relocated to the United States, and raised three children. He was a restaurateur who opened successful businesses in Canada, New Jersey and ultimately Arizona. He was the charismatic proprietor of Dee’s in downtown Phoenix for a number of years before opening a restaurant in Apache Junction. George was an avid Boston Bruins fan and enjoyed traveling and exploring the world. He was a firm believer in the American Dream and ardent supporter of education.

George will be missed by his wife, Katerina, and three children: John and Emily of Edison, New Jersey, and Gregoria Lyssikatos Lenze and her husband Troy of Arlington, Virginia. George is also survived by his brothers Constantine and Basil, his sister Eleni, and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

A viewing will be held at Queen of Heaven Mortuary, 1562 East Baseline Road, Mesa, AZ 86204 on Sunday, November 29, 2009 from 4pm to 7pm.

Services will be held at St. Katherine Church, 2716 N. Dobson Rd., Chandler, AZ 85224 on Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11am.

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In Memory Of…

November 26, 2009

… George Lyssikatos.

I was a foreigner to him.  Xenos.  I was dating his baby girl.  He had never met me before, never talked to me on the phone, even.  Yet, from the moment I met him, he was nothing but nice to me.  I truly believe that the best judge of a person’s character is how they treat strangers.

I was more than a stranger, though.  I was practically an invader.  Darius to his Delian League.  I was inserting myself into his life, though his daughter’s life.

I still remember sitting down with him in his own private room, five degrees hotter than the rest of the house.  That was not why I was sweating, though.  I was asking his permission to marry his youngest child.  The only question he asked me was if our children would be raised Greek Orthodox.  I told him they would be going to Greek school.  After that, he gave me his blessing.  He had already accepted me into his family.  The wedding was only a formality.

He is at peace now, without pain.  After fighting for 17 years with congestive heart failure, he finally wore out.  It takes a lot of strength to fight for 17 years straight.  It was an honor to know him, and become part of his family.  I am glad he was a part of mine.

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Would You Take A Bailout?

June 16, 2009

I know I would not take a bailout. The government likes do do things like cap executive pay, force your top executives out, and even put you into bankruptcy. I am not really seeing an upside to getting emergency money from the government.  I do not think GM or the banks are either, since the banks are in a hurry to pay the TARP money back and GM is going into bankruptcy, the situation it was trying to avoid.  There is a lot smaller moral hazard there than I thought there would be.

The one upside to all of this I see is that creditors are probably going to be more open to negotiating with their debtors.  If the GM and Chrysler creditors had been willing to cut a deal, they would probably be getting a bigger return than they are now.  After all, once the federal government got involved, it is going to protect its interests first.  It is kind of like taking money from a loan shark.  The federal government will make sure it gets paid first.

So, remember all of this before you try to get bailed out by the federal government.  Taking money from them comes with a LOT of strings attached.

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Taking The T.A.R.D.I.S. To India

May 25, 2009

Finally, I have internet access.  The Space Apart Hotel was the last place we had access.  It was the place we stayed in London, and I was very pleased with it.  We had a little studio that came with a kitchenette and a washer/dryer.  And when I say “washer/dryer,” I mean a washer that is also a dryer.  I never have figured out why we have to have two machines to do one job…

However, we found out the hard way you should not use the timed dry function.  After 60 minutes, the clothes were still very damp.  So, I set it on automatic dry.  This would not have been such a problem if it had not been 11 o’clock at night.  The dryer was a bit loud, and it kept making this swishing water sound that really worried us.  Thankfully, the clothes were dry the next morning.

After leaving London, we went to Glasgow.  We stayed at the Kelvingrove Hotel for the one night we were there.  It was a nice place with really friendly people.  The receptionist was excited for us going to the Doctor Who exhibition, and one of the other employees had been there.

The exhibition was fantastic.  It had the classic monsters that have been in the new series, a lot of the good new monsters as well.  There is even a dalek you can stick your head in, move the plunger and gun, and it changes your voice to sound like a dalek.  It was great fun, and Ritsa took a video of it.  I will see if I can get it posted to either my blog or YouTube later.

The receptionist at the hotel gave us a recommendation for dinner at Mother India.  We had a leg of lamb there that was to die for.  It was tender and covered in spices.  I could have eaten an entire lamb done like that.  It is a must eat in Glasgow.

The next day we went to Edinburgh to pick up my sister-in-law. More about that tomorrow!

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Prison, Tea, Celebrities and Murder

May 18, 2009

Another busy day in London!

This morning we headed to the Tower of London and discovered yet another site we could spend most of a day touring.  The Beefeater-led tour of the grounds was great, but seemed really short even though it was an hour long.  Then we saw the crown jewels.  They were impressive, but I got more enjoyment out of the Henry VIII exhibit.

We came back to the hotel room and got ready for high tea at The Dorchester.  It was fun, and the food was amazing.  The fun part was sitting next to a room where all this activity was going on.  We had no idea what it was.  Then we heard a guy asking if he could bring Barbara Windsor out.  We got kind of excited, because we thought maybe she was a minor royal with the name Windsor and all.  Turns out, she is a pretty famous actress.  So, that was our brush with celebrity for the trip.

From The Dorchester we went and saw The Mousetrap.  It was written by Agatha Christie, one of my guilty pleasures of reading.  Ritsa guessed the killer, and I had guessed the killer and dismissed it because I had read a similar plot in one of her books.  I will not, however, reveal the killer.  That would be wrong.  Go see it; it was very enjoyable.

We are now packing up in order to catch a train to Glasgow tomorrow.