Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not exactly your average Friday.

Well, yesterday was just full of different impressions and meetings. I started off with a lesson in the centre discussing eating out in Verona and Greece's chances in the European football championships and afterwards bumped into one of my students who was helping to organise an anti-smoking campaign in Aristotelous Square (which in Greece definitely comes under the heading of lost causes. I swear people would smoke in their sleep if they could).

Later I popped by the Fair Trade shop on Vyronou St and in between chatting with the guys there managed to take some pictures of those present. Then later on after some more lessons it was onto a open air discussion on the signficance of May 1968 organised by the SYRIZA party in Navarinou square. There I bumped into another friend and a lively conversation over beer and chocolate ensued.

Finally, I ended up listening to live music in the university, drinking beer and discussing the various ways remedies for tear gas with a bunch of students I'd met via Flickr.

Representative of today's Anti-Smoking Campaign


Thursday, May 29, 2008

We're all Mayans nowadays.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lydia's name day party

Lydia had her name day during the week but decided to have a party for her friends today and as you can see everyone had a good time.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Interview day

I was in school today as many of my students were doing the interview part of their language exams. As you can imagine many of them were nervous at the prospect but I think they'll do well. I've spent most of the past eight months preparing them for this moment so there was little I could do except reassure them and just remind them of a the stuff we've been doing.

Sometimes it's small things like keeping eye contact with the person you're speaking with (as opposed to staring off into the middle distance), asking for the questions to be repeated and not getting hung up on an unknown word that make the difference at this stage. Basically, just chatting away in English so that when they go to be interviews they do not suddenly have to switch language. 

So now I've almost finished as my students are now done with their PET /FCE/ ECCE/ CAE/ ECPE/ CPE exams.  Now It's time to think about what I'm going to do in summer and how I'm going to earn a living for the next four months.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Night, night

Night, night, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

See more of my Flickr pictures here.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Lost, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

On the beach

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Greece's lost generation

Generation 700 - Γενια 700

To look at the cafes full of young people sipping their four euro coffees it would be easy to imagine that young Greeks have little to trouble them apart from the normal cares of exams, relationships and entertainment choices, however, the reality of the situation is that the current generation of young people in Greece is in crisis, fearful of the future apprehensive about how they are going to make a living in a country which has an official youth unemployment rate of nearly 22%, double the European average.

Forget Generation X or Y, this is Generation 700, the name they have given themselves since even those who manage to find employment rarely get more than 700 euros a month. In cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki where rents start at 300 euros and prices of basic goods and services have risen dramatically, young Greek have little choice but to live with their parents till they get married.

Despite growth rates of 4% the Greek workers have seen their spending power decline rapidly since the introduction of the Euro in 2001. Stagnant wages combined with price rises of 100 to 200% have hit those on low incomes in particular. Nor have years of strong economic growth done much to bring down the country's unemployment rate, the second highest in the EU. In contrast a recent survey carried out by the Greek Consumer Protection centre (KEPKA) found that Greece has the highest cost of living in Europe with everyday products costing 66% more than those in Germany and Holland.

Andreas, 22, counts himself lucky. He has a job as a chef which pays 750 Euros a month for a job in which he has to work up to 10 hours a day. Even rarer, he has an employer that pays the statutory national insurance benefits. However,like so many others in Thessaloniki he worked, uninsured, for 500 Euros a month in the recent past. Similarly, Many his age he wonder what the future will bring and are pessimistic about their chances of ever having a pension. They sees little cause for hope in the present situation, resigned to the fact that whatever party gets into power little will change for young Greeks.

Even those with university degrees, masters and knowledge of two or more foreign languages struggle to find work in a job market where stable, western style career jobs are the exception, rather than the rule. Indeed the country has the highest graduate unemployment rate of all 27 EU countries Traditionally, such people would often apply for coveted placed in the civil service which pay better and have greater job security, however, cuts in public services along with the use of short time contracts by both the present conservative, New Democracy administration and the previous left-wing PASOK government have seen such opportunities curtailed.
Those public sector jobs which do exist are usually only obtainable for those who have, "meson", suitable family or party connections.

Despite government indifference to the problem on the policy level, Generation 700 is still a sensitive issue politically for the present New Democracy administration as journalist, Stelios Kouloglou found to his cost recently. Kouloglou who hosts Reportage Xoris Synora (Reporting Without Borders) - the Greek equivalent of the BBC's Panorama or CBS's 60 Minutes was promptly fired after 13 years working for the Greek state broadcast company and the programme axed from the state run NET channel after his documentary on Generation 700 was aired.

To hear more about Generation 700 in their own words click here to see their blog,

Greece's lost generation

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just another boring Monday.

Well, Monday was a rush and was I exhausted at the end of it. In between teaching I managed to wander the city and come across heroin dens in an abandoned army camp, a forlorn grain complex gradually succumbing to nature and massive abandoned silos that which I explored while trying not not to fall through the mass of holes seemingly drilled at random in the floors.

Then I bumped into a massive memorial rally about the atrocities committed by the Ottomans in 1915 where local bishop, Anthimos railed against , well, just about everyone who wasn't Greek while rent-a-thug ultra-nationalists in the crowd chanted stuff about burning Turkish villages.

Bishop Anthimos and Thea halo

Later as was about to go home I followed marchers who then went onto the Turkish consulate and in between hundreds of riot police who'd blocked of Agiou Dimitriou street and the advancing marchers took some pictures.

Just another boring Monday in the Balkans answer to Disneyland.

Manic Monday - Bangles

The real prince of darkness

Will the the real Prince of Darkness please raise your hand ?

Once again Bishop Anthimos was up to old nationalist tricks. For a man of God he sure knows who he hates. I mean the list is endless; Albanians, Turks, Bulgarians, Americans, the West, the East etc, etc. I'm not aware of what his stance is on the Innuit, but I'm sure it's not positive.

After ten minutes of vile nationalistic muck racking he had the nerve to say that as a man of God he was not in favour of war. Well, he gets my nomination for the Borat Inter-Cultural Understanding Award.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Looking forward to summer

Pinned to the wall

At long last the exam frenzy is over. The alphabet soup of FCE/CPE/CAE/ECCE and ECPE that we have every year has come to an end. My students have taken their exams all we can do is simply wait for the results over the summer. I was thinking about what to do over the next few months there are so many things I wanted to achieved over the winter but didn't have didn't have time. So here is my summer wish list. If I finish just one of them I'll be happy;

- Write a movie script. I know it's a crazy idea but going around the city photographing various weird and spooky places an idea came to mind which I'd love to develop.

- Learn how to Moodle. I'd love to develop a place where all my private students could come together and share ideas.

- Learn more about journalism. I've been writing stuff for for a while and I'd like to do it better.

- Put on my own underground photography exhibition. I know I said I would a few months back but then I ran into all kinds of practical problems which meant I put the idea on the back burner.

- Write a Wikispace guide on how to use blogs to promote political causes and promote your particular cause. The idea came when somebody asked me for my help to let people know about a ecological disaster near Mount Olympus.

- Come up with some more weird and wonderful teaching ideas. It's been a while since I last posted stuff. Now that I have some time to think rather than act I hope to come up with some more interesting lesson plans.

Zita Swoon By Minas

, originally uploaded by minαs.

This was taken by one of Thessaloniki's finest photographers, Minas. I freely admit to copying his style whenever I get a chance. This was taken at a Zita Swoon concert that he attended and which I unfortunately missed.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Taken in the Italian section of the Symmakika cemetery on Langada street.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I've got to get me one of those for Christmas.

When I saw this it just woke up the long dormant 10 year old in me who believed that he could fly just like Superman. Yves Rossy, a 43 year old Swiss pilot and general all round daredevil has created a James Bond style jet that can be strapped to your back. Here is a video of the guy roaring around a Swiss valley using his jet wing.

"Yves “FusionMan” Rossy, the first man to fly under a single jet-powered wing, completed his first official demonstration before the international press today at midday. Released from a plane at an altitude of 8,000 feet, he completed a circuit in just over 5 minutes which saw him fly over the Swiss Chablais and neighbouring mountains."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thessaloniki Photobiennale

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I manged to take in another exhibition by Philippe Migeat today while running around like crazy between lessons. The exam season is in full swing and everyone has gone crazy with worry and stress. Thankfully, this will be over in a few days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Driving to India

Driving to India, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I meet this guy in Aristotelous. I first noticed him because he had a huge Nikon D5 hung around his neck and then later on I bumped into him as he got into his 4x4 with a sign on it saying "By road to the Himalayas" in Dutch. So I stopped and asked him about his journey. he told me he was a journalist and that he was off to Turkey, then Iran and finally India.


Exhibition, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I had the chance to go another photobiennale exhibition. This one was in the old cold storage area in the port, which is in itself an impressive venue. In each of the large fridges there were different displays. I'm not sure whose exhibition this is. I had to rush off for work and I didn't get chance to make a note of the name.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wedding day guests

, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Greece out of gas

Most of Greece's filling stations have run out of petrol. After visiting ten or so this morning I couldn't find a single one that had anything other than diesel. As a result I had to cancel some lessons as I didn't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no petrol. The problem stems from a tanker driver's strike which has been going on for the last week or so. I 'm not sure what people are going to do from tomorrow onwards as supplies dwindle even further.

For more details click here to see my NowPublic account of the whole affair.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A day in photos

Today was a full day, My students were doing their ECCE written exams, others were doing CPE interviews and all were nervous. In between all this I managed to cook some Mexican food to help out friends at the Fair Trade do today, spend time with my daughter and take some photos of some weird and wonderful stuff that I came across while wending my way through the city.

As I was going across town I saw a whole building being covered in grafitti and so I jumped off the bus to get some pictures. As part of some youth festival there was a skateboard event and lots of music so I stayed a while and took some pictures.

Later on I came across a wonderful wedding ceremony in which the bride and hundreds of guests literally danced their way to church accompanied by a brass band, when I say brass band I mean a Balkan one which is like a manic Jimi Hendrix playing a trombone accompanied by Mile Davis on trumpet.

Drive by wedding shoot

Dancing your way to church

Fasten your seat belts.

Greek food scandal turns political

Just days after the Greek authorities announced a recall of tainted cooking oil the issue has turned into an publicity nightmare for the conservative New Democracy government when it was revealed that the oil had already been on shop shelves for two months.

The Greek national food safety body, EFET announced on May 6 that over a 2000 tons of Ukrainian sunflower oil which had been imported via Switzerland was probably contaminated with mineral oil. However, a report in the Kathimerini newspaper revealed that EFET had known about the contaminated oil since the 28 February when the European Food Safety Authority issued a notification via the European alert system. The Greek authorities were told by their European counterparts that the Manos had received 1,1182 tons of sunflower oil which contained 900mg/kg mineral oil. In addition on the 10 March the Agrotiki A.E. company also received 855 tons of sunflower oil, most possibly contaminated.

In addition, opposition PASOK MPs criticised the government over its failure to inform the public more promptly of the possibility of dangerous foods on the market. Also questions were raised over why the Greek authorities delayed the recall of tainted products for weeks even though French authorities had taken similar steps from 23 April.

The Spanish food safety agency ordered all sunflower oil to be withdrawn from sale on the 28 April until the contaminated Ukrainian oil could be located. In contrast, no such measure has been taken in Greece. Indeed local companies supplied by Manos A.E. refused to tell the Kathimerini newspaper the names by which their products are sold on the market.

In 1981 tainted rapeseed oil caused the death of hundreds after being put on sale in Spain.

Greek food scandal turns political

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Friday, May 09, 2008


Smoking, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

A National Geographic moment

I had an hour in between lessons and i wandered into Aristotelous square and came across these people getting ready to perform some dance in order to promote tourism in Drama.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Photographer photographed - ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΚΑΡΚΑΤΣΕΛΗΣ

Γκαλερί "Vlassis Art. Com" Φωτογραφικό Kέντρο Θεσσαλονίκης
Βεροίας 6, Άνω Λαδάδικα-Θεσσαλονίκη Καραϊσκάκη 9 - Συκιές 56626

Εγκαινιάζεται την Τρίτη 15 Απριλίου 2008 (18.30' – 22.00') στη Γκαλερί "Vlassis Art. Com" (Βεροίας 6, Άνω Λαδάδικα), η έκθεση “Time Portraits”.

Time Portraits is part of the 2008 Thessaloniki Photobiennale is currently on at Vlassis Art.Com gallery, Verias 6, Ano Ladadaka and Karaiskaki 9, Sykies.

The photo is of Vasilis Karkatselis, whose work is on show. Yesterday I had the good fortune to be there while he talked about his worked and photographed those present. I asked him if I could return the favour and as you cab see, he said yes.

He will be at the gallery in Verias 6, Ladakdika, every Tuesday evening.

Stolen pictures

Stolen pictures, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Best of luck

Many of my students took there ECPE interviews today and I managed to pop by and see how they did. To say they were nervous would be a gross understatement. Still, I think they did well and I hope they have similar success in their written exams this weekend.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Abandoned train revisited

Abandoned train, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Yesterday I had a very nice comment from Ilias who wanted to know where I took the pictures of abandoned trains. I thought I'd use Google Earth to give a better idea of where they are in Thessaloniki.

If ever you want to film a low -budget horror/sci-fi classic then I'm your location scout.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Me, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Another moment of uncontrolled self - indulgence.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Unfulfilled Time - Alexy Titarenko

ΝΕΩΤΕΡΙΣΜΟΙ, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I went to another exhibition today. This time I came across a wonderful gallery built, literally, on top of an indoor market in the centre of Thessaloniki. Both the space and the photographs were excellent so if you are in the city over the next month or so check out Alexey Titarenko's retrospective, Unfulfilled Time (Ανεκπληρωτος Χρονος) at the Bezasteni market place (Στοα Μπεζεστενι).

To see his work at Lens Culture click here. To hear an interview with him click here.


Lydia, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I'd forgotten all about this picture. I took it about a week ago and the it slipped my mind. I'm very proud of my daughter and all that she has achieved. I make sure she knows that as well at every opportunity.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Taxi to the Dark Side


Over one hundred prisoners have died in suspicious circumstances in U.S. custody during the "war on terror". Taxi to the Dark Side takes an in-depth look at one case: an Afghan taxi driver called Dilawar who was considered an honest and kind man by the people of his rustic village. So when he was detained by the U.S military one afternoon, after picking up three passengers, denizens wondered why this man was randomly chosen to be held in prison, and, especially, without trial? Five days after his arrest Dilawar died in his Bagram prison cell. His death came within a week of another death of a detainee at Bagram. The conclusion, with autopsy evidence, was that the former taxi driver and the detainee who passed away before him, had died due to sustained injuries inflicted at the prison by U.S. soldiers. The documentary, by award-winning producer Alex Gibney, carefully develops the last weeks of Dilawar ’s life and shows how decisions taken at the pinnacle of power in the Bush Administration led directly to Dilawar’s brutal death. The film documents how Rumsfeld, together with the White House legal team, were able to convince Congress to approve the use of torture against prisoners of war. Taxi to the Dark Side is the definitive exploration of the introduction of torture as an interrogation technique in U.S. facilities, and the role played by key figures of the Bush Administration in the process.

Click here for more info on this issue.


I saw Outpost, a low budget horror movie over the weekend and I thought how cleverly it was written and filmed. It got me thinking about all the empty places I've seen whilst taking photos and what I could do in order to make me own script. I think this is going to be my own summer project, write some (or all???) of a film script for a cheap sci-fi /horror film. I already have some ideas about one based in either a post disaster Thessaloniki or maybe out in the wild lands up north near the border involving archaeologists, drug smugglers and lost army patrols made up of city boys up in the hills for the first time.

I just saw on Wiki (click here) that the film cost 200, 000 pounds ( 300, 000 euros or a gazillion dollars judging by today's exchange rates). I'm just getting my head around that figure as I would have guessed that it came in at least 10 million dollars. It really gets you thinking that thinks are really changing as far as cinema is concerned.

Mayday 2008

Mayday 2008, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Amidst worries that the Greek economy is entering a period of recession and spiralling prices of basic goods, many Greeks took to the streets to mark Mayday. According to the government figures the official inflation rate has reached 4.4%, way above the EU average. However, the Kathimerini newspaper reported that average household costs rose by 10% making life even more difficult for the 13% of Greek households living below the poverty line.

In Athens and other Greek cities the trade union congress, GSEE, along with other opposition parties and political groups organised rallies attended by tens of thousands. Many representatives attacked the government's inability to curtail prices which are widely believed to be the result of monopolistic practices in many areas of the economy. In addition recent pension reforms drew the ire of many speakers.