Monday, September 24, 2012

Spartathlon, “the road towards self-knowledge”

(the following article was published in the magazine “Διιπετές” and is being reproduced here by permission from the publisher and translated from the original Greek)

 Having taken part in several races and also having made running a part of my daily life, I know intimately the difficulties and emotional experiences provided by “the road”, everything from introspection to the challenge for qualification, from simple selfless joy to the ultimate effort against time and against the natural obstacles posed by an ultra-long distance. However, I could never have imagined the uplift that I would experience before I found myself on the Spartathlon course and there are really no words to describe the exaltation I felt when I finished in Sparta.

Later, when everything had officially ended, all of us who had shared this incredible experience were on the return bus, having been joined now by unbreakable bonds and away from any competitiveness (which anyway isn’t recognized by the Spartathlon). It was daylight finally and as we were tending our sore muscles, we were passing by those places where a few hours ago we had left pieces of ourselves. While reliving the intensity and the pain through the expressions on the faces of my race-mates as they pronounced in awe one-by-one the names Lyrkeia, Kapareli, Sagas, Nestani (names which they will never forget), I realized that nothing had ended. The physical course may have just ended, but the ‘other’ one, the sweetest one I have ever experienced, the internal journey, was just starting.

I began the whole undertaking mostly to confront my physical limits (because no matter what training you’ve done, nothing guarantees you will complete 6 Marathons back-to-back, in other words, 246km!) but also with a special commitment to history. I’d be following in the footsteps of the great long-distance runner Pheidippides, who in 490 b.c. ran from Athens to Sparta, on a mission from the Athenians to ask for the Spartan’s help in the battle between the few Greeks at Marathon against Darius’ multitudinous army. When I saw with how much emotion and spirit others started, runners from all over the world, I was overcome by awe and pride.

I arrived 34 hours later as a new man, having encountered first of all the hidden sides of myself which I didn’t know existed, through moments of confronting my endurance limits. At those moments, abandoning the race or even collapsing by the road results not only in your exclusion but can also bring you just one step away from death. I felt this thoroughly during that amazing night spent going up the path on mount Artemisio, where according to Herodotus, Pheidippides met the god Pana (something that modern positivist medicine attributes to the hallucinations that overcome all runners due to exhaustion and their metabolic condition at that point).

I call it a ‘catalytic night’ because it was the night that I came face-to-face with my human strengths, which, if they didn’t abandon me, that is surely because I crossed the threshold of ultimate willpower and in overcoming even that, I became the mystic of a divine catharsis. Unwittingly I’m making a somewhat random association, which, however, has not left my mind since that night : in ancient times, the Great Mysteries of Eleysina took place during the month Boedromion (today’s September towards October), in other words, during the same period of time that the Spartathlon takes place today. Let’s also take into account, from what little we now know, that during these Mysteries the mystic underwent successive trials, culminating in his near-death, where he came in intimate contact with the divine element, obtained the deepest Knowledge and Self-knowledge and was liberated through catharsis from any meaningless and superfluous human weakness.

Then the Spartathlon itself surely is a mystic experience, in contrast to any other common race. As I was saying later to the priestess who was my guide, that night on top of the mountain I did not meet Pana but rather Pluto himself. I came down the other side having become a new man. Whether I wanted to or not, I was forced to dig deep inside myself, to conquer and eliminate anything unnecessary that had weighed me down, to revise and reassess my true values and to thus become worthy of rising one step higher towards becoming a better human being.

That must have been the reason why, after a cold and foggy morning in the plain of Tripoli where I had been struggling to stay on my feet, mindlessly placing one foot in front of the other, empty of any thought or desire, of any passion but also of any anxiety, with senses no longer functioning and with muscles contracting reflexively and disconnected from any higher function, I suddenly and unexpectedly felt an explosive strength giving me wings. I smiled at my companions, who were deeply worried watching me in this condition, and said that I felt like I had just started an hour ago. I finished the race with confidence and at my peak in Sparta, at the statue of the great king Leonidas, kissing his feet. I invite anyone for whom the Spartathlon is a simple athletic event and who believes what I write is exaggeration and ridiculous fiction, to leave behind any consequential occupation and be there next year at the great meeting of human spirit, soul and endurance, with nature, the Gods and the sacred Greek ideals!

Evangelos Apollonios Gogos

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Hundred Languages of Childhood

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi

Five hot alternatives to iPhone 5

After many months of rumours, speculation and leaked info, the most anticipated device of 2012 is finally here, iPhone5.
As popular as iPhone is — selling more than 25 million handsets worldwide last quarter alone (and iPhone 5 pre-orders topping 2 million in its first 24 hours) — they’re not the only game in town. In fact, many of today’s Android phones can outperform iPhone 5, feature for feature, plus Google’s mobile platform is far less restrictive than Apple’s iOS. Microsoft and Research in Motion are also cooking up some compelling iPhone alternatives with its Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 OS smartphones, respectively.
Another consideration: not everyone can buy an iPhone even if they want one, maybe because their carrier doesn’t support it (T-Mobile, for one) or perhaps the cost of Apple’s phone is prohibitive to some (just like their Macs).
And so the following is a look at a few competing smartphones that not only challenge iPhone 5 on a few fronts, but even outshine Apple’s iconic device.
If you want a killer screen, consider: Motorola Droid Razr HD
If you want a solid cameraphone, consider: Nokia Lumia 920

Deadly Hunter Killer submarine

She cost around £1billion to build, has sonar so sensitive it can hear other vessels 3,000 miles away and carries a giant payload of 38 deadly Tomahawk cruise missiles.
HMS Ambush, the Royal Navy’s newest nuclear attack submarine, is one of the most sophisticated and powerful vessels of her type ever built.
The giant Astute-class sub, which was launched today, is so hi-tech she doesn’t even need a periscope.
Awesome: HMS Ambush, which was built by BAE Systems, is believed to be the world’s most powerful nuclear attack submarine. Her huge weapons payload includes super-accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish torpedoes for fighting other vessels
Success: The super hi-tech vessel has undergone rigorous testing ahead of today’s launch. Despite her size the sub’s 103 crew will be tightly packed, with some sleeping up to eight to a room in bunk beds

Glass Art

Glass Art
Glass is a material from which you can make the unimaginable vases, glasses, and even sculptures. With imagination and skill you can make masterpieces, which look very delicate and elegant. Here is a small part of one amazing collection.
Glass Art
Glass Art

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If you don't drink our coffee then F... you

Amazing Cave Melissani - island of Kefalonia

Amazing Cave Melissani
Cave Melissani is located in  Greece, on the island of Kefalonia. It is one of the most beautiful caves in the world. Cristal water and amazing sunlight will take your breath away. In Greek mythology, Melissani was the cave of the nymphs. It is a place you, simply have to see and discover.
Amazing Cave Melissani
Amazing Cave Melissani
Amazing Cave Melissani
Amazing Cave Melissani

Photographic Collection of Natural Phenomena

 All the images are linked back to the sources and to view them in a larger size, just click them.

Brocken Spectre

Brocken Spectre, also called Brocken Bow or Mountain Spectre is a kind of rainbow. The “spectre” is made when the sun shines from behind a photographer who is standing on a mountain, looking down from a ridge or the peak and into mist or fog. In almost every photo, you see a magnified shadow of the observer. The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, or even from a plane. Harz Mountains in Germany are the playground for this natural extravaganza this place is the origin for the word “Brocken Spectre”. In german, it is called Brockengespenst.
brocken spectre, also called brocken bow
rainbow circle nature phenomena
nature specticle from plane
round rainbow a natural specticle at harz mountains

Funny Reactions To Acceleration

Macro Animal Eyes

Caterpillar eye

Cat eye

Frog eye
Nylus crocodile eye

Friday, September 7, 2012

World’s clearest water [PICs]

1. Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines
MatadorU Photography faculty member Scott Sporleder shares this image from Palawan, the Philippines’ most remote province and home to many beaches with super clear water.
Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines. Photo: Scott Sporleder
2. The Maldives
The 26 atolls that make up the Maldives sit in the Indian Ocean about 400km southwest of the tip of the subcontinent. Abundant reef wildlife (including whale sharks) + incredibly clear waters bring in a lot of tourists. It’s also one of Matador’s 9 places to experience now before they literally vanish.
The Maldives. Photo: >>>"Richy"<< <<
3. Dog Island, San Blas, Panama
Another from Scott Sporleder, here is a shot from one of Panama’s San Blas Islands, the largest of the politically autonomous reservations of the Kuna Indians.
Dog Island, San Blas, Panama. Photo: Scott Sporleder
4. Cayo Coco, Cuba
A resort island on Cuba’s north coast, Cayo Coco is linked to the mainland by a 27km causeway. The adjacent reef and clear waters have earned international recognition as a dive destination.
Cayo Coco, Cuba. Photo: O.Taillon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Breathtaking Cliff Diving

'100' (from 0 to 100 years in 150 seconds)

'100' (from 0 to 100 years in 150 seconds) from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Chile, a land of contrast: PATAGONIA

Chile, a land of contrast: PATAGONIA from Wildglimpses on Vimeo.

Hakone – Japan’s Amazing Open Air Museum

Close to both Tokyo and Mount Fuji the small town of Hakone holds something of a revelation.  However, unless you are from Japan, you may well not have heard of it.  The town plays host to a large open air museum where the works of many famous artists are held - outdoors.  It is an attempt (and a successful one) to balance art and nature in harmony.  The artworks, combined with the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains give the visitor an unforgettable experience.

There are surprises around every corner at this unique museum, sights which will provoke thought and sometimes even laughter.  This head on its side looks like some vast relic of a long vanished civilisation.

How 13 Classic Video Games Got Their Names

Here are the stories of how famous video games got their names, and what they were almost called.

1. Pac-Man

It’s not easy to create a game based solely on the concept of eating. But Namco employee Tōru Iwatani did just that in 1980 by taking the idea of a pizza with a slice missing, and then having it eat a bunch of dots while being chased by ghosts in a maze. (Iwatani has also said that the shape is a rounded version of the square Japanese character for “mouth.”) The name of the game, Pakkuman, was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeia, “paku-paku,” which describes the sound of eating, similar to the English word “chomp.” As the game was brought to market, the title morphed into Puck Man.
But when Puck Man made his way to North America there was concern that the arcade cabinets would be vandalized by making the P into an F to spell something entirely different. A compromise was reached and the game became known as Pac-Man instead. Thanks to the American marketing machine, the name Pac-Man was eventually adopted for the game all over the world.

2. Metroid

The name of Nintendo’s classic game is actually a combination of two words: metro, as in another word for subway, which is an allusion to the game’s underground setting; and android, referring to the game’s protagonist, Samus Aran, who appears to be a robot through most of the game. (Really old spoiler alert: Samus is a woman.)

3. Tetris

When Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov named his famously addictive video game, he decided to combine two words: tetromino and tennis. A tetromino is a geometric shape comprising four squares. Tennis was just Pajitnov’s favorite sport.

Extreme Scalp Tattoos

My Little Pony.
1 12 Most Extreme Scalp Tattoos in Women
Woman with Rainbow Mohawk
Gay Pride (San Francisco)
2 12 Most Extreme Scalp Tattoos in Women
Steampunk tattoo
3 12 Most Extreme Scalp Tattoos in Women

Young love

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game

If you happened to read A Song of Ice and Fire books, or the screen adaptation of them – Game of Thrones, you’ll be interested in looking some of the major characters represented in the series and in their real life, just to see if you can recgnize and compare them. I confess, they’re done great in the HBO Series, but the book is always different (read: better) than the movie or the series. Here’s how they look like in the series and in the real life.

Tyrion Lannister, ‘The Imp’ in Got and Peter Dinklage – himself

Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game
Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game

Cersei Lannister, the Queen, and Lena Headey in real life

Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game
Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game

Jaime Lannister, Queen’s brother and something more, or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game
Game of Thrones Characters When Not in the Game
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