TURNING THIRTY

Today I turned thirty. I’d been semi-dreading this day for many years, the day my 20s would be over forever.

But then I decided to change my perspective.

Turning thirty isn’t something to be feared; it’s something to be celebrated in our youth-obsessed world. I’ve been hanging out with plenty of thirty-somethings lately and they all agree that being one is better than being a twenty-something. It could be because they’re thirty-something themselves, but not everyone has such self-confidence, and definitely it’s not everyone who sees their own side as the greener one.

My inspiration for this post was actually the realisation that being upset over getting older is the epitome of entitlement. I fear this common form of entitlement makes it harder for people to enjoy simpler lives that don’t look so great on social media.

How about: I’m lucky to be alive, healthy, not poor yet not too tied down by the obligations and insecurities that wealth brings with it, not in debt, young enough yet getting wiser, still mobile, coherent, able and eager to learn, with some experience under my belt yet with enough waiting for me in the future — hopefully.

I don’t have so much time for socialising, yet time itself makes my existing relationships more meaningful. I’m not the brightest guy, not the best fit to survive, not the alpha male type, not an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, yet I’m not too incapable to adjust to and navigate this very weird, very exciting, very dark period of human history.

There’s responsibility to all this that tastes sweet instead of bitter.

My father told me yesterday “I wish I was your age”.

I’m as old as I’ll ever be; I’m not getting any younger either. But I’m still here. So let’s make the best of it.

5 PODCASTS I LISTEN TO THESE DAYS

Almost 5 years ago, I made a list of my favorite podcasts in the first episode of my then-hopeful new podcast qbdp which I stopped doing because it lacked a real purpose.

I’ve gone on and off some podcasts in the past years, like Mysterious Universe, but these are the 5 podcasts I tend to load up my old-fashioned, dedicated MP3 player with and go for runs, walks, commutes etc.

Dan Carlin

The first podcast guy I started following many years ago. Nowadays he doesn’t make episodes so often, but I love his super-longform Hardcore History series and the blitz episodes he makes. Some of my favorite recent and not-so recent episodes:

Nightmares of Indianapolis —  how a shipwreck days before the end of WWII became a true horror story. Dan Carlin’s personal “the place I’d least want to be across time and space”.

Painfotainment — people in the not so distant past enjoyed witnessing suffering, pain and brutal executions as a form of entertainment. Have horror movies and Netflix become substitutes for our bloodthirsty urges, and what does that mean about human psychology?

Blueprint for Armageddon — the first episode of this series was released in 1914, 100 years after the beginning of WWI. Now it’s been a few months after the centennary of the end of WWI. No better time to educate yourself about the true horrors and fascinating history of the time period between 1914 – 1918.

Potterless

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore, Potterless is “a magical journey following Mike Schubert, a 25-year-old man, reading the Harry Potter series for the first time, as he sits down with Harry Potter fanatics to poke fun at plot holes, make painfully incorrect predictions, and rant about how Quidditch is the worst sport ever invented.”

His tour through the books and silly commentary has certainly taken me back 15+ years, when I was a big fan of the Harry Potter universe and was growing up together with Harry and gang. A great way to revisit the books and feel embarrassed about your adolescent taste.

Personality Hacker

The ultimate typology and self-development podcast on the web. Anthony and Joel are excellent, well-rounded hosts that are looking at personality psychology as the necessary social technology we need to supplement our other kinds of technological progress. A podcast that has certainly helped me develop my knowledge and interest in the MBTI and the Enneagram.

Also check out my review for their recently published book, cleverly titled Personality Hacker.

No Such Thing As a Fish

The creators of QI (Quite Interesting) introduce four fascinating facts each week about history, culture, science and life. Useful for building a stockpile of “did you know” conversation starters and/or “actually…” conversations killers.

Skeptiko

Who watches the Watchmen? Who’s skeptical about scientific skepticism? Alex Tsakiris, that’s who. This podcast is dedicated to challenging scientific materialism. His guests and interviewees will broaden your concepts on subjects like life after death, NDEs, telepathy, artificial intelligence and more.

SPOTTED BY LOCALS CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN

I wrote this on my Facebook, but since I’m definitely more of a blog kind of guy than a social media maven (as you can tell by the number of likes inversely proportionate to the number of words), here goes:

Places like Amsterdam, Venice, Lisbon and even our own Athens are experiencing overtourism. We all know what it’s about: “the phenomenon of a popular destination or sight becoming overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way”, according to the Collins dictionary. This word didn’t exist before 2016, and one popular newspaper said that it should be “the word of the year 2018”.

Overtourism means that not only do popular destinations become less appealing, but also locals find that this blessing is actually a curse in disguise that destroys their quality of life. It might sound like a first world problem (sort of like overconsumption), until of course it is your city that is hit by overtourism. Then, all of a sudden, rent becomes impossible to afford, small businesses disappear and your neighborhood turns into a theme park geared to satisfy the needs of the visitors, not the residents.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be part of the problem just by fulfilling our urge to explore. Here’s an initiative to help spread tourism around the world to places that really need our time, attention, money and understanding. The global ‘underdogs’ in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia deserve to be our next travel destinations as much as any of the ultra-popular “musts” that could really do without us.

I’m writing all this because we just launched a crowdfunding campaign at bravely independent Spotted by Locals. Do you like what we’re doing? I’d be very grateful if you can contribute and / or share. You’ll also get a good deal in return, especially if you consider yourself a demanding, mindful traveller.

I’ve been an Athens Spotter for Spotted by Locals since 2013, and the network’s editor since last year, and I can vouch for them. I was with them yesterday, helped them shoot the video below. It’s not just that I have the good fortune to work with Bart & Sanne closely: these guys have a brilliant, caring vision about a sustainable, no-borders world, and I truly want this campaign to become a success.

Check it out here: https://igg.me/at/spottedbylocals and thank you so much for caring for the future of local travel!

SPOTTERS WEEKEND 2018

Get a feeling for the Spotter’s Weekend 2018 by the two videos below I lovingly created.

The first one is for Easy Greek, so more of a focus on language. We discuss Spotted by Locals with another three Greek Spotters.

The second one is shorter and has no words. Just images, music, energy, feelings. I loved editing this one together with Marilena. Putting together videos is one of the few creative things you can do on a computer that’s better when you have a second person present next to you — an extra pair of eyes, a second opinion on what works well and what not.

And here’s the more detailed write-up.

BTW, this house looks exactly like a parallel-universe Olde Vechte, I swear…

 

WHY YOU WILL MARRY THE WRONG PERSON

It’s no secret that I just love Mr. de Botton. I can recommend all of his books I’ve read: The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel, Status Anxiety and A Week at the Airport (click for my reviews on Goodreads). But I find it amazing that he’s as good an inspirational speaker as he’s a layman’s philosopher. No: a philosopher’s philosopher.

The following appeared on my recommended videos list after a tough night, and I really needed that reminder about what really love and the experience of love really boils down to. Thanks, oh Algorithm almighty.

(and here’s some more nuance on the above topic of love)

And some much-needed remedy for the news blues (if you’ve got ’em, that makes at least two of us):

LINK DUMP #3

The Guardian: How TripAdvisor Changed Travel — Or why Spotted by Locals is as important as ever!

Massimiliano Pagliara — Remixes Part II One of the nice things about being the editor for Spotted by Locals is that I get to learn about people, art and venues I had no idea existed. Well, a Tel Aviv Spotter wrote about how he likes this DJ, for example. Smooth, easy-listening beats.

Animal sculptures made in Kenya by upcycling discarded flip flops

Ain’t it a thing of beauty? Can you buy me one for my nameday/birthday/just because?

mbti-notes Tumblr — This page has several books worth of information on MBTI type theory and analytical psychology. Very well-organised and written, too.

Metabook — Greek platform for buying and selling used books. I hope it gains traction, but I’ve already found Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (in English!) so there’s definitely some potential here. Could use it to get rid of my own unwanted books, too.

The 50 Best New Board Games — Browsing the truly impossible number of new board games that come out makes me even more depressed than browsing new video games on Steam; it reminds me that not only do I not remotely have the time to play all the fun new games, I don’t have the friends for it, either. OK, apart from Codenames.

With Eyes Unclouded – How Studio Ghibli Inspired Breath of the Wild (Youtube) — Princess Mononoke, especially. I really like this kind of video essays on video games. I’d like to make some, but I’m sure they take way too long to produce.

HighExistence – The Most Epic Book List on the Internet: 80 Heart-Stopping Books That Will Transform Your Thinking — Hey, Antifragile is on there!

Alan Moore – (Keynote) Trans- States conference 2016 — Interesting where Alan Moore takes the subject of magic and how he connects it with art and stories. He still doesn’t take it far enough for my liking (check out Gordon White!)

Led Zeppelin – Good Times Bad Times (Youtube) — From the comments: “Bonzo’s stuttering 16th note triplets on the bass drum…even his son Jason has to use a double pedal to do what his father did with one foot! 😮” and “Legend has it that Bonzo developed the drumming technique for GTBT on a single kick after listening to Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge, unaware that Carmine was actually playing on a double bass set….Incredible.”

Joe Rogan Experience #1035 – Paul Stamets — I bet you didn’t know all these fascinating, fascinating things about mushrooms. Forget the episode that made the rounds with Elon I-don’t-inhale Musk; this is where it’s at.

Athens International Film Festival – Climax (2018) — The new film by Gaspar Noé. Screening tonight at Astor. Sold out. Meh.

Some stuff from Ran Prieur‘s blog:

Notes on cheese – thesublemon Tumblr — “It’s about cheese in the sense of art being bad because it’s ‘cheesy’. The basic idea is that you have to risk looking stupid to make good art, or even to be an interesting person.”

Guidelines for Brutalist Web Design — A manifesto “about moving web design back to being simple and functional. There’s also some good stuff in the Hacker News comment thread. A deeper issue is why almost every website adds more and more clutter, and you almost never see it go the other way. Maybe it’s just that the people who make decisions about web design can’t stand doing nothing. By the way, ‘brutalism’ in architecture is not named after the English word “brutal” but after the French word for raw.”

Looking for subcultural communities; the more diverse, the better — What a time to be alive.

1ο ΚΑΘΑΡΙΣΜΑ ΠΑΡΑΛΙΑΣ ΠΛΑΣΤΙΚΟ-ΣΠΑΣΤΙΚΟ

Με παρακίνηση του Σταμάτη (δεξιά), πήγαμε στο Αγκίστρι και κάναμε το πρώτο καθάρισμα παραλίας, κοντά στην Σκάλα και προς το άλλο λιμάνι που πάνε τα ιπτάμενα δελφίνια.

Μέσα σε περίπου 3,5 ώρες μαζέψαμε αυτές τις 5 μεγάλες σακούλες με σκουπίδια. Φανταστείτε τι θα κάναμε με περισσότερα άτομα!

Το να καθαρίζεις παραλίες βέβαια φαντάζει πλέον σαν να προσπαθείς να ξεσκονίσεις την Σαχάρα με αυτά τα πραματάκια που μοιάζουν με ουρά αλεπούς, και σε ένα μακροσκοπικό επίπεδο, ίσως είναι. Όμως:

  • Είναι διασκεδαστικό.
  • Κάνεις γυμναστική.
  • Είναι πολύ ωραία μορφή κοινωνικοποίησης.
  • Λάβαμε πολλά μπράβο (καλό για το Εγώ μας λοιπόν!) και πολλοί μας ρωτήσαν αν είμαστε από τον Δήμο ή από κάποια οργάνωση. Η απάντηση μας ότι όχι, είμαστε εθελοντές, μπορεί να τους έκανε να σκεφτούν!
  • Είναι λίγο σαν κυνήγι θησαυρού.
  • Όσοι μας είδαν να μαζεύουμε σκουπίδια ξαφνικά θα κατάλαβαν ότι η παραλία ήταν βρώμικη. Έχουμε συνηθίσει πια στα πλαστικά σκουπίδια στις παραλίες. Αυτό δεν είναι απαραίτητα κακό, γιατί θα συνεχίσουμε να τα βλέπουμε στο προσεχές μέλλον, οπότε πρέπει να δεχτούμε μέσα μας ότι καμιά παραλία δεν θα είναι πια 100% καθαρή. Είναι καλό όμως και να συνειδητοποιούμε τι σημαίνει καθαριότητα, και ο καθαρισμός κάνει το αόρατο ξαφνικά ορατό.
  • Είναι διαλογιστική εμπειρία και έρχεσαι σε απόλυτη επαφή με την χειροπιαστή πραγματικότητα της φύσης. Είναι αναζωογονητική αίσθηση.
  • Φάγαμε τέλεια πίτσα και κάναμε μπάνιο στην πανέμορφη θάλασσα του Αγκιστρίου.

Το Πλαστικό-Σπαστικό είναι το γκρουπ μας στο Facebook. Μπορείτε να βάλετε τη φαντασία σας να δουλέψει σχετικά με το τι κάνουμε! Περάσαμε πολύ ωραία οπότε θα το ξανακάνουμε — ελάτε στον επόμενο καθαρισμό μας για να ζήσετε την εμπειρία!

Ίσως βρείτε κι εσείς ένα τέτοιο διαμαντάκι:

A BEATLES SONG UNLIKE ANY OTHER

A few weeks ago, Nefeli, Marilena’s and my yoga teacher, had the genius idea to switch around the soundtrack to our practice a bit. She stopped the usual chill Indian-inspired music and put on Abbey Road, the last album the Fab Four ever recorded together and the one with arguably the most iconic cover they ever released. Little did she know that with her decision she’d influence my choice of go-to music to listen to for days to come.

Come Together, Something, Here Comes the Sun and the rest of side B, a.k.a. the Abbey Road Medley, are all really catchy tunes. Some of them are even somewhat well known.

But I never expected I Want You (She’s So Heavy) to get my yoga gears going. It became another one of my dear earworms.

Some call this song proto-doom metal, proto-prog, and proto- many other things — I’m not very good with music genres. What I know is that to my ears this song hasn’t lost any of its freshness in the 49 years that have passed since Abbey Road was recorded.

This song was also one of my favorites from Across the Universe, a feature-length tribute to The Beatles. Amazing choreography and direction, a feel-good film that’s delightful to watch and listen to, with plenty of obvious and not-so-obvious nods to what became the ‘counter-cultural’ rock & roll canon of the second half of the 20th century.

Listen. Be blown away.

PINK FLOYD BOOTLEGS

Once upon a time, illicit recordings of Pink Floyd concerts were actually collectable among fans. Those were the days when in order to hear these recordings, you’d have to have a friend who had caught one on tape or something. A select few seem to have even been printed on vinyl and sold, I presume illegally, with all the weird logistics that must have entailed.

As we all know, the web, and more specifically Youtube, changed everything. That includes making Pink Floyd bootlegs available for all to listen, a possibility which for some reason hadn’t actually occurred to me until very recently.

I never thought I’d listen to them live like this — raw, unedited, a genius band in their best years. How emotional it must have been to be there and see the Floyd live, when concerts had power outtages, when fans would just never shut the hell up (and throw fireworks at that!), when bands would play unreleased, unfinished songs in front of huge audiences… it feels like unearthing beta versions of famous games. I mean: versions of Echoes with a saxophone solo?! It seems crazy that these treasure chests could have been kept in the (relative) dark for so long!

I just had to share this with you, whoever you are, wherever you may be. If you can understand the importance of being able to listen to these recording now, 45 years later, just know: we are not alone, you and I.

9 hours! 4 days of concerts in Feburary 1972 — preview versions of the full, unreleased Dark Side of the Moon from back when it was called Eclipse (with some renditions better than what’s on the record, honestly) and brilliant second sets with lots of my favourites from their previous work, like the afore-mentioned Echoes, One of These Days, Careful with that Axe Eugene and A Saucerful of Secrets.

Check out On the Run, or The Travelling Song, on the pre-release version of Dark Side of the Moon above, and in the concert below, three years later, after it had become a worldwide hit. Can’t decide which one I like more.

“This one – taken from the band’s 1975 tour supporting Wish You Were Here – is a legend amongst bootleg collectors for two reasons. Firstly, there’s its track list. Featuring most of the WYWH album, a full run through of Dark Side and a mammoth closer of Echoes, it is perhaps most intriguing for its two opening songs. “Raving and Drooling” and “You’ve Gotta Be Crazy” are early – and markedly different versions of “Sheep” and “Dogs” from the then-unreleased “Animals” album. Secondly, legendary bootlegger Mike Millard made this recording and the sound quality is absolutely phenomenal with a you-could-hear-a-pin-drop audio fidelity that belies its bootleg status. Essential listening.” (source)

For a merry change, the Youtube comments down this way are pure gold. Happy hunting.