Friday, September 30, 2005

From Dali to Remi: An Introduction

This last trip to New York City felt like a dream. I woke up on Friday morning and went to New York, and Tuesday I woke up in my home in LA, as if nothing had happened. As if it was a long dream.

Sometimes you only realize later that you had a great time somewhere. You think back and say "Now that I think about it, I really had a good time there and I hadn't appreciated it at the time". Other times though you have so much fun that you realize it as the events occur: If you can make this realization, that you are having a good time while you do so, this just means you will be very sad when you get back.

That has happened two more times in my life: First, in our 5th year undergrad weekly trip to Spain. All my good friends that I knew for 5 years now went there, and it was the last time we would be all together... We had a big company and so much fun. Second time was just 3 month ago at the Summer School in Cornell. That time it was good because I met so many new people in such a short time, we were going out and solving homework problems and visited the Niagara Falls and everything... I knew I would be sad when it ended.

Now it stroke me again. We had a group of 4 people that we are alike with similar tastes and aggressive to discover the city. The first 48 hours in the city were the most intense I ever had in my life: Too many things, too many people we met, too much input, too much laughter, in such a short time. The last 24 hours after were just a transition period where we all were burned out from the crazy weekend.

Apart from the picture perfect weather (this is the best time of the year to visit NYC), there was one key ingredient that led to the success of the trip: we had an almost perfect balance between pre-planned things to do and unexpected fortunate surprises. We were right on schedule with all the things that I was mentioning 5 posts before, but in between and during these activities so many other things happened, ranging from a hidden corner in Manhattan we just discovered to a random person giving us batteries to keep taking pictures.

This was also a trip of opposites: The title From Dali to Remi is the most striking of them all, starting 2 weeks ago when we were deciding to go there along the Mussaka dinner. Stayros had mentioned back them "Oh, the Museum of Modern Art is there, I think they have a nice collection of Dali paintings". I thought back then that Stayros was an art-lover and we would be spending most of our time in museums and stuff. On Saturday night at the trip though, we went to Remi, a traditional Greek type of club called Bouzoukia, and Stayros was making out with this Corfu girl that he just met while dancing. He got dizzy, and I had my first full 40% alcocholic drink in my life, a Martini. We left the place at 5am, all having had a great time, and quickly realizing that we wouldn't be going to visit Dali the next morning. At the end we didn't visit any of the other museums that we were planning at all.

Instead of Dali, we went to Remi, and we never regretted it.

Flightplan * *

Who? Themos, Frankie
Where? Arclight Hollywood

On top of wanting to see the movie, I wanted to take a closer look at Arclight's DLP digital projection system. Plus, their theaters have the best audio systems around, systems that surpass the THX capabilities that other theaters are struggling to barely meet.

Flightplan is a good thriller but I didn't like it because 80% is revealed in the trailer. The trailer ends with a question (is she imagining things or is it a huge conspiracy), and we have to go through most of the movie to get an answer, and there isn't much to it after that point. It is ver well filmed, and Jodie Foster's performance is once again too good. After spending a whole movie in one room (Panic Room), now she spends a whole movie in an airplane. What's next?

The Wendys lady

As I drove through Wendys last night, (after a long long time) the lady at the windows stops and says "Hey, we haven't seen you in a while, where have you been?"

I used to go to Wendys a lot last year, when I was living closer to the north side. Back then I used to go at least twice a week there with Yao. We always went there with Yao, usually while waiting for our laundry to get ready. If it was late we went to the nearby Dennys, and there were many cases when we went there at 2-3-4am just to have a smoothie. Nice days...

Anyways, it felt very nice that someone remembered me at Wendys. It is still my favorite fast food burger place, although recenttly I haven't been visiting them. After we chatted with the lady for a little bit, I drove home with a weird nostalgic feeling in my heart.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From Dali to Remi

Entrance and drinks at the China Club: $30

Limousine service back to the hostel: $40

Tickets for Phantom of the Opera performance at Broadway: $100

Bottle of John Daniel's at Remi: $150

Celebrating the european championship in the biggest greek community outside Greece: Priceless

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Manhattan Cruisin'

There are a few times that life smiles at you and puts a nice girl next to you in long flights. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen every once a while. That is one of the most exciting things of travelling: you never know who is going to sit next to you, and it can really be anyone. I still remember the French girl on my Air France flight to europe on my way to Greece,and also the Greek-American girl (and her indian friend) on the way to London with Virgin.

This time I fell onto a law student at NYU. it was great because we had very similar interests and we both are on the same part of our life - graduate school. She used to live to LA and now for 1 year she is staying in Manhattan. She agreed with me that life in Manhattan is much more intense than LA - it's too crowded and everyone wants to be the best, and this creates a lot of competition and stress which she didn't like sicen she was used in the more laid back lifestyle of LA. Also, she argued how she doesn't like the Law school because it's all law students that only talk about politics and stuff. 100% of her NY friends are Law students. She was fascinated to meet a scientist(!) since I was only the 2nd one she's ever met, after her neuroscientist cousin.

Anyways enough talking about the girl. I got a car as soon as I landed, and I headed straight for Manhattan (in the opposite side than Brookhaven is :-) ). This time I needed no map as I now by now pretty well how to get on and off the island. Then, I had one of the most weird experiences of my life while driving there. It was Sunday night after midnight, and instead of finding traffic I found empty streets and green lights all the way. At the same time I was scanning through the radio stations and I came across a classical music piece that was very exciting and fast and adrenaline-pumped. So I put the volume to 100%, opened the windows and drove quite fast through the scyscrapers... I drove all the way from Central Park to Times Square where I met the first red light (the perfect spot to stop and watch!). When the light turned green again, I kept driving at full speed, with the music loud, and one after the other the lights ahead of my turned green, guiding my way until Washington Square (that's about 50 blocks from Times Square).

I drove though Midtown Manhattan, one of the busiest places in the whole world in less that 10 minutes... The feeling is very difficult to describe unless you live it yourself (have you seen William Dafoe in Boondock Saints?).

Now that my work is almost done here (I'll return to that next week when I have more time) I am starting to prepare for the weekend... one of the most promising weekends of my life. My friends from LA are coming, and we have huge plans for taking themost out of the 72 hours we'll spend in Manhattan. For the nights, the schedule in already booked (with all reservations made over the internet): On Friday we'll go to China Club, a 3 floor dance stage with open terrace in the middle of the scyscrapers. On Saturday we'll go to watch the Phantom of The Opera at the arguably best theater in Broadway, The Majestic (I hope it will be worth the $110 each!). Next, we'll go to Bouzoukia, a traditional greek type of entertainment hosted in The Cave, in a basement somewhere in Astoria (the biggest greek community outside Greece). On Sunday we'll go to some bars in Greenwich Village, where is the place for many students and artists to hang out, followed by a visit to NY Dolls Club (now you can figure out what kind of place this is, right?). As for the daytime, we don't have an explicit schedule yet, we are planning to visit the Museum of Natural History (truly great stuff there), the Museum of Modern Arts (never been there before), Columbia University and Central Park, do the circle of Manhattan by speedboat, plus a few more things... After this visit, I will have succeded in the tasks I set to myself to achieve last March, when I wrote this post. I just didn't expect them to happen within 6 months!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Unexplained phenomena

While we were taking data yesterday here at Brookhaven, we quickly realized that something was going wrong. The data we took did not match the theoretical predictions about them. Specifically, when you shoot a laser into a plasma you expect the laser to go through if the plasma is not very strong (=dense). Instead, we saw that as soon as we turned the plasma on, the laser was not showing up on the other side.

We double checked our setup and rebuilt it twice, and yet the issue is still there. So today we'll have to come up with a theory why this is happening, and also device an experiment that will allows us to verify the predictions... Let's see!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lord of War * * * * *

Who? Themos
Where? Island 16 Cinemas, Long Island, NY

This is hands down the best movie I've seen in a very long time... You just have to look into Andrew Niccol's previous work: Gattaca, S1m0ne, The Truman Show. Then you quickly realize that this is not your ordinary movie, since all of his previous films are original, unique in their story and filming, and this is not an exception. However, this specific film is by far the best out of the list above, and here's why.

There are no good guys or bad guys here. Nicolas Cage is both good, bad, lucky, unlucky, funny and sad at the same time. The movie covers over 20 years of a gun dealer throughout the world, and none can do this job better than Cage.
The opening sequence is probably the best I've ever seen in any movie. The story makes sense and flows flawlessly, while in tiny little scenes one after the other numerous issues are discussed: guns & wars; honesty; marriage; family values; fate; aids; Africa; the cold war.
Every time I was thinking "oh, this is what I think will happen next", Andrew Niccols just kept outsmarting me by coming up with yet another magnificent and ingenious solution. The dialogue should be taught in writing schools on how you can have people jump from their seats without any hint of special effects. There are so many one-liners here that could fill a small notebook and make a huge list of email signatures.
The visuals are stunning, allowing the audience to travel from New York to Russia, from the Caribbean to Africa, from Ukraine to the Middle East. The direction focuses on the action exactly whenever needed, creating intensity when needed and relaxation when not.
The climax of the movie forces Cage to come face to face with his worse enemy, the question that permeates the movie: Is the gun dealer responsible for the killings or is it just on the guys who decide to pull the trigger?

All in all, this is not a little gem; this is King Solomon's mines.

Herby: Fully Loaded * *

Who? Themos
Where? Onboard Boeing 767, from LAX to JFK

This is a cute sequel to the cute movies about the Volkswagen Beetle that came out back in the 70s. Linsday Lohan is the grandaughter of the original owner of the Bug. It's not an oscar movie, but since in our family we still have a 1960's beetle, I was always a big nostalgic fun of these movies.

I mean, how cool is that?

I am talking with Nikolas over VoIP skype right now... That's not new... The new thing is that he is as we speak flying at 60,000 feet over the atlantic!

I had heard of people that make use of Lufthansa's onboard wireless internet feature, and also that they use Skype to call people cheap while on flight. However, I had never tried it out myself. Nikolas says it's $30 flat fee for the whole flight, he got conencted and we started chatting which worked flawlessly. Then we decided to add voice, and low and behold, I heard his voice on the other side of the line. When I replied back, he confirmed that he heard my voice too, hence establishing a full duplex connection. wow...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Crash * * *

Who? Themos, Stayros, CostasZ, Dimitri
Where? Home Theater

I didn't like this movie as much as other people loved it. I also cannot imagine how someone that doesn't live in LA can truly appreciate it. The references to Staples Center, Santa Monica, the Valley, are not to be overlooked easily. I loved the characters, because these are real people from all these cultures that live right next to us here in LA: The Persian shop owner, the mexican locksmith, the rich american wife, the black dudes... Excellent camerawork, sharp dialogues and intense breaks embellish the story with a theme that "in LA people are so far apart that we need to crash to eachother in order to feel important"...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Corpse Bride * *

Who? Themos, Melania, Frankie
Where? The Grove

The movie is visually excellent, as it is the case with all of Tim Burton's movies... However the story was very weak. It seemed more like a nice fairy tale rather than an adult movie. There are good laughs and some nice excitment scenes, but that's about it. The best thing was the trailers: the new Harry Potter trailer (not the teaser) looks once again promising, plus the season 2 of Lost (premieres next week!).

Friday, September 16, 2005

The future of TV

With the advent of hdtv and bittorent, there has been a lot of talk lately on what the tv will look like in the future. The main argument is that as more and more people will be getting better broadband, the networks are looking into broadcasting their shows over the internet. It is very likely that instead of watching tv, the program will be first downloaded into a hard drive (what is the difference with tivo, anyway?) or it will be broadcasted live to everyone.

Here is where I saw one of the most great new ideas of the past few months: Sopcast is a great piece of software, still on experimental steps but it seems to me as the next step in evolution. It is a Peer-2-peer software (much like kazaa and bittorent) but instead of sharing files people share webcasts, which can include anything from live tv shows, home videos to webcams.

The great thing about this new idea is that everyone broadcasts to everyone else. Unlike normal webcasts that have a centralized server (which may get slowed down if too many people try to connect) in sopcast the more users you have the better the quality of the broadcast (since more people are sharing the same content).

The only reason this cannot work perfectly right now is that people have more download bandwidth than upload. When this situation soon gets better, picture this: It is much cheaper to install 10 low-usage servers that 1 huge one. HBO, NBC and all the other big guys will install a few main servers all over the country so that people can connect. Once this initial kick is given, millions of viewers will be webcasting also to everyone else the same shows around the globe... Just imagine how easy tv could spread to countries that have no cable infrastructure but good internet connections (like most countries around the world!). The possibilities are just endless.

It feels so nostalgic to use sopcast rigth now... There are only 10 channels around, with 10-20 people connected in each channel. It reminds me of the first days of the internet where I used to log into the chatrooms and newsgroups and I could only find 5-10 people, the feeling of the internet community for the few was so great back then. I was also happy to start following napster and bittorent in the same way, when only a few people knew and before starting to shutdown websites and sueing people. It's exactly the same thing, happening once again...

The point of no return

In September 2002 the sea ice coverage of the Arctic reached its lowest level in recorded history. Such lows have normally been followed the next year by a rebound to more normal levels, but this did not occur in the summers of either 2003 or 2004. This summer has been even worse. The surface area covered by sea ice was at a record monthly minimum for each of the summer months - June, July and now August.

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The final showdown - Round 1

Who? Themos, CostasZ, Stayros (contestants), Dimitri(referee)
Where? The C&O Trattoria @ Venice Beach
When? Tuesday, September 13th 2005ad
Why? To determine the ultimate food champion

The idea was thrown a few days ago along a memorable dinner with Mussaka. It seemed that all of us were pretty strong eaters, and especially after the Red Barron's pizza massacre while watching Scent of a Woman it was clear that all competitors were tough. So, we decided to hold a formal competition so that we can decide on who is the stronger eater. The rules:

1. It had to be a neutral location, i.e. not someone's home/homemade food.
2. We had to get similar type of food, i.e. you can't have one guy getting pizza and the other guy a steak.
3. No time limits, or we would kill ourselves (either you eat your food or you don't).
4. It had to be announced at least 24 hours earlier so that we could plan the eating schedule for that day.

After some discussion we settled down on C&O Trattoria (reviewed in our restaurant blog here). This place is cheap, it has the hugest quantities of food I've seen on a single dish (the gargantuan portions of course!) and it is also quality food - we don't want to be throwing up afterwards.

The Contestants:
Name:Konstantinos Zafeiropoulos
Age: 24

Occupation: Master in Electrical Engineering, USC

Name: Stayros Gonidakis
Age: 23
Occupation: PhD in Biology, USC

Name:Efthymios Kallos


Occupation: PhD in Electrical Engineering, USC

The Referee:
Name: Dimitrios Pantazis
Age: 28
Occupation: PhD in Electrical Engineering, USC [senior]

Personally I put a lot of effort on my technique before and during the battle. For example:
- I had pasta the night before for warming up
- I only had a glass of orange juice the whole day for food
- I showered right before the battle (opens my appetite)
- I only had 5 garlic breads for appetizer (sorry, couldn't resist)
- A coke accompanied my main food for faster digestion

When we got there, placing the order was funny. "The gargantuan size, please", I said. "Oh, you'll have plenty of lunch for tomorrow", the waiter answered. If only he knew what was he going to witness... 2 more gargantuan orders followed, leaving him speachless.

Before the battle the contestants showed elements of Fair Play and wished for a great match:

The winner would be the one that could eat the most pasta out of his dish. Who could do it?

The battle began at 2100 hours on that cool and quiet evening along the Venice Beach. It is hard to describe in words the moments that followed... The battle was bloody and took a very long time, with great shots from all sides.

About half an hour later, and eating at normal speeds (it seemed to me at least), without much talking in between, we had a winner...

We couldn't imagine it before, but everyone managed to eat all of his pasta... The rare view of 3 empty gargantuan plates just blew the waiter away. (Honest truth: I did not feel 100% full, I could eat some more).

And what about our poor referee?

Well, not everyone can eat like a horse. Dimitri barely managed to handle 1/3 of his "normal size" dish. At least he secured tomorrow's lunch.

The evening concluded with a walk along the nearby pier, where I tried to capture a poetic and nostalgic photo of the group with the Los Angeles city lights in the background.

The showdown will continue with round 2, in a good pizza place. With pizzas it is easier to have a clear winenr since you can count the slices and the one who eats the most wins (hopefully we'll find an all-you-can-eat place...

To be continued...

Monday, September 12, 2005


From the premiere of her latest movie, Pride & Prejudice, London, UK.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The 2nd driveway

My good friend Thodoris just came to Caltech and he is staying for a few days in his uncle's house. When I decided to visit him at San Dimas, I get the following instructions: Exit the 10 freeway east, make a left, then right, left, right. It will be the second house on your left, second driveway.

When I looked at the instructions later, it stroke me odd: second driveway? What kind of place is this?

When I got there, I quickly realized what was all this about. There are 2 driveways, one for entering and one more for exiting, so that cars don't have to back up and and exit from the same entrance. The house was built on top of a hill, and at the back there was a pool with a waterfall.

(yes, that's waterfall)

I have been to other multi-million dollar houses here in California, in places like Pasadena, Palo Alto, Malibu etc, yet this one just leaves anything else behind. There is no point starting to describe things like "they have more bathrooms than we have rooms in our house" or "their guest bathroom is bigger than my own room".

To make things worse, the guy deals cars. In his garage we saw a Cadillac, a BWM and a couple of Porsches, one of which will be given to my friend who is more than willing to share and try to handle that baby. As I was driving back I was only wondering whether he has the same attitude with women too.

Federer Vs Agassi

The US open final this year is so interesting. Federer has won 24 finals in a row, he has been 84 in the row weeks in #1. He has never lost a Grand Slam final...
Agassi is 35, he's a legend and he's in very good shape, plus he will have the crowd on his side... however Federer has won their last 7 matches. Let's see.

Edit: Watching Federer playing tennis right now is like watching Jordan playing basketball during his prime. It's just impossible not to admire his strikes and his consistency in his game. I think that if he plays his best game there is no man around than can top him. All the other players can hope for is that he will just play ok for long enough so that they can get a few points out of him. For now and for the next couple of years I can't see how he won't dominate the grand slam titles. He has 6 for now at the age of 24, and he will keep going...

Elevator meetings

What happens when you meet someone in an elevator? You would usually greet "Hey, how are you doing?" or maybe "Nice to see you". Not for USC professor John O'Brien from Caltech though. When me and Katsouleas watched him walking into our elevator right after our class, these are his first words towards Katsouleas:
"I looked in Landau and Lifsitz's Electrodynamics and when you treat the electron motion classically you get closed orbits, but when you treat it relativistically then they spiro inwards into the nucleus. They use a relativistic Hamilton-Jacobi which I cannot tell right away "oh, that's it". "

Damn, I love this guy!

The Constant Gardener * *

Who? Themos, Ravi, Dimitri, CostasZ
Where? Arclight Hollywood

Hm... very interesting experiment. The actors are doing a great job, but I found it hard to follow the concepts in the movie. The camerawork was doing weird things and angles, and the transitions were fast without introduction, so you have to be 100% focused in order to follow properly. I have to give them credit for originality in editing and photography, but I cannot say I liked it. Hotel Rwanda id my favorite of these type of movies.

The Turing test for DVDs

The original Turing test deals with artificial intelligence: Turing said that AI is truly AI when you chat with someone and from his answers you cannot distinguish whether he is a real person or a computer. Now, I have proposed the Turing Test for DVDs: If you watch a DVD and you cannot tell whether it is the original or a compressed copy, then the copying is succesful.

I ran a few test the past couple of days, comparing the original DVD, the DVD-Shrink copy of it (which takes 3.5 hours) and the DVD-Fab Express copy of it (which takes 20 minutes), both at 50% compression (which is quite big).

In our 92" projection screen, we could barely tell a difference between the original DVD and the DVD-Shrink copy. There is just a little bit of difference, and you have to be watching for the details to realize it. Also, we could not tell a single difference between the 2 copies: both programs work amazingly well.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Shawshank Redemption * * * *

Who? Themos, Dimitri, Costas Z
Where? Home Theater

This is not one of the best movies ever, as imdb claims (#2 there, after the Godfather). Yet it's one damn fine movie on its own, with an almost poetic effect and beautiful nostalgia surrounding it at any point. I don't think that the good mood is a realistic portrayal of real life in prisons, with all the people just hanging out nicely, joking in an a-la-Friends situation. Still, it is worthly considered one of the best prison movies ever (that is a more fair statement).

The show was accompanied with Red Barrons frozen pizza (excellent!), Coke Lime (also excellent) and walk-by's of Casa people. Next time we are planning for trilogy+ marathons...

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I may not like the series that much, but I have to admit that they have the best casting of all of last year's shows. And this year, it is only getting better (no further comments!):

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NYC in a flash

That was the fastest trip I have ever booked. It took only 48 hours from conception to the charge of the credit card.

The idea was suggested by me during a perfect dinner with musaka. I said I was going to visit my lab outside NY in 2 weeks, and that the apartment we have there is booked for 4 days after we are done with the experiment, so we could use it to stay there and save money on the trip.

Everyone liked the idea, so we started looking for airfares. The next day we set a meeting to book the flights. Then I said to them that I couldn't get them inside the lab to stay since they have heavy security at the entrance gate. But that fact had little impact to the momentum that everyone had: we booked the tickets anyway, and we set for another meeting later in the afternoon to book a hotel.

Indeed, a few hours later we went over the main options until we finally decided on a $32 per night per person hostel on the upper west side. Not the cheapest option, but we will have our own room.

Now everyone is up and excited! And thanks to Nikos' insight who stayed there for 5 years, we will have in-depth information and suggestions on places to visit (apart from the main tourist attractions).

I had no idea...

I had no idea how many people actually read my blog on a daily basis... until recently I installed a blog counter, and the results just shocked me completely. The hits per day are at least one order of magnitude more than the people I knew for sure that read my blog - the rest of them are referred here or search through images and google. After someone suggested to me that I should publish my stories in a book, I just don't know what to think anymore...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Transporter 2 * *

Who? Themos, Rajay, Frankie
Where? The Grove

They too much over the top on this one. It's fun, it's good, but in the original the action was within some limits and it seemed improbable but not impossible. Here's it's the other way around. Still, this is the kind of movie that I like, where they are trying to be at least original in their sequences. Minus that they don't have Shu Qi, the best asian chick ever.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The greatness of New York City

During my stay in Brookhaven last week, I stole one evening to visit NYC. We had just finished our experiments for the day, and I was lookign at the crystal clear sky and the perfect temperature and I said to Patrick "We just have to go there".

In fact, I didn't step on Manhattan but me and Patrick went to Brooklyn and watch the skyscaper lights as the night falls. But, we spent about 4 hours in a region no bigger than an area of 1oo feet radius. And this is another thing I like about New York: we did so many things in so little space and time. Here's what we did that in these 4 hours:

- Had dinner at the Italian restaurant (not good for its money, but it was ok).
- We watched the shooting of some tv series right there. I also walked and interfered in the set a couple of times.
- We saw a big boat, with live music on it and people dancing and parting all over it! It was such a weird experience for me since I haven't seen anything like that before (although I've heard of boat parties in ships around Manhattan).
- I met a cute married couple from Los Angeles. The guy had just moved to NYC to work.
- We met his very interesting lonely lady that was living on the island (20th street), and we had a long discussion on science. Once again, we had to explain to someone completely ignorant of science what a plasma wakefield accelerator is and why is it important. The discussion diverted several times into Einstein, Feynman, what peopel think of scientists and why, particle physics, how hurricane Katrina was formed, and how by observing the waves one can tell approximately what type of boat went by (similar to how people observe indirectly the elementary particles). It is just so much fun doing that, when the other person is interested.

- Finally, the main reason that I actually wanted to go there again was to try and take pictures of the New York skyline. That turned out from the last time very hard to do, since the lights are tiny and not very bright which causes a "bleeding" effect where the image appears to be out of focus.

Here is my favorite one, a magnificent view of NYC skyline:

The full big version is located here.

Also, there is more complete version of that picture that contains all 360 degrees of view around the location. You can even see the fliming set:

The full picture is located here.

Mars with a view

The Mars rover made it to the top of the hill. This is the view from there, a spectacular image of Mars' landscape.

Scent of a woman * * * *

I've been around, you know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn't nothin' like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that.

Who? Themos, Costas Z, Demetri, Stayros
Where? Home Theater

This is truly great stuff. The best perfomance of Pacino I've ever seen (totaly worth the oscar), plus maybe the best dialogue I've seen in any movie. Plus, it takes place in New York City. Then there is the Tango sequence, an apparently useless scene that does serve in the plot, nor does it push the story forward. Yet the way it is filmed and edited, from Pacino's face to the hair of the lady is just splendid. I unconsiously started clapping at the end of this scene. It just fills you with emotions although very few words are spoken.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Manhattan murder mystery * *

- I don't understand why you're not more fascinated with this! I mean, we could be living next door to a murderer.
- New York is a melting pot. I'm used to it!

Who? Themos
Where? Brookhaven Apartment, NY

This is a classic Woody Allen movie. It's not as funny as several of his most recent ones, but it tackles with sharp humor several aspects of human relationships. The story didn't excite me, although Manhattan is depicted nicely in the fall time, with rain, buses and people hovering around.

The definition of killing time

start--> run--> telnet

Friday, September 02, 2005

$3.59 per gallon

I from LA 6 days ago, and the gas price for regular gas was around $2.69 . Now in Long Island, New York, we just put gas in our rental at a price $3.59 per gallon, for a total of $55! That is the most expensive gas I have ever put in any car myself, even in Greece (where gas is [sorry:was!] almost twice as expensive).

The only thing that keeps me feeling safe is that the gas will hit soon $5 or $6, at which case we will be looking back and saying "Hey, remember those days where gas was only $3?"

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Taking data

After struggling a couple of days, it turned out that only the older version of the software worked properly with that system! Now we have an oscilloscope for bringing up the data, wich is connected through a GPIB port (some IEEE standard) to an ethernet adapter, which in turn has a unique IP address and sends the data over the network. Now, I have hooked up my laptop to another internet connection, plug in the IP address of the adapter and then receive the data. So each time we take a new measurement, my screen refreshes with the new data we got! And then I can export the values and do whatever calculations I want with them.