Sunday, January 27, 2013

Visiting Oslo

I really enjoyed my trip to Oslo. Even though visiting Norway in winter might not be the best thing to do if you don't ski. Temperatures there have two digits and they are negative. 
We didn't manage to see all the interesting things in the city but at least we got to see some. When we visited The Folk Museum which is an open air museum, there were -17 C. What can I say? it was a refreshing 2 and a half hours.

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Receipt, No Pay!

No receipt, No pay! Is a new way in which the Greek state is trying to reduce the "black" income of the companies by forcing them to register the real income they are making.

For example when you go to a coffee place, a tavern or even a supermarket, if they don't give you a receipt you are allowed to leave without paying. That is the official version. What they failed to mention is that generally, you receive the receipt after you pay so what you would actually need to do is ask for your money back. With the traditional and well known Greek temper though I don't see that negotiation going very well. 

What the politicians from this country haven't figured out yet or, even worse, they continue ignoring, is that there is no law in the world that Greeks can't find a way around to.

The law starts to have effects from the 12th of January 2013, meaning last Saturday. Businesses were testing their "way around" even from last year. Now, you will probably receive a receipt, so you won't be tempted to ask your money back but the value on the receipt will be, if you're lucky, one third of it. If you are vigilant and ask for explanations they will apologies and bring you your receipt or, even funnier, several receipts that other customers didn't take that add up to the sum of your order. 

The people though usually don't ask for receipts not to mention ask for their own receipts. That is why I believe that this law, for as nice and efficient as is could have been it's going to end up like the "smoking law". 

Like in all other European countries, smoking is forbidden in bars, coffee places and restaurants in Greece. The law exists, the fines are high, they even have a phone number where you can denounce places that allow smoking. What they don't have is someone to apply the law. And there is where the law becomes useless. 

The thing that is the hardest to change here but once changed it cold improve a lot of things is the mentality of people. Everything starts and ends there. For as long as they don't understand that they'll keep chasing around their tails. 

Source article

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ikaria, the Island Where People Forget to Die

Nobody actually knows how many islands Greece has. Counts vary from 1200 to 6000. Out of these only 227 are inhabited and 72 have more then 100 people.
Old Woman from Ikaria

The life expectancy in Greece is generally about 20% higher than the world average. On a top including 194 countries, Greece sits nicely on the 18th place. 

Chronic diseases are a rarity in Ikaria. People living in this region have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease and almost no dementia! People traditionally have farming or fishing jobs and live in a mountainous terrain, which keep them active throughout life. They eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and a little fish. Goat milk and wine are also traditional here and loaded with antioxidants. Time is taken out of their day to nap and connect with friends, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

A study made on 673 people from Ikaria showed that afternoon nap increases life expectancy with 12%. If take regularly, three times a week, the afternoon nap may increase life expectations with up to 37%.

What are the lessons that researchers learner?
  1. Get your antioxidants! Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little fish. One key feature of the Ikarian diet are wild greens, many of which have ten times the level of antioxidants in green tea or red wine!
  2. Drink tea! Regular herbal tea consumption is common of Ikarian centenarians. Many of the teas here act as mild diuretics, prescribed by doctors to lower blood pressure.
  3. Take regular naps. People who nap at least five times a week for half an hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you’re napping.
  4. Make walking part of your daily routine. The hilly land lends itself well to burning calories. The Ikarians exercise without thinking about it just by walking to church or work.
Ikaria on the Map
Ikaria is an island of approximately 256 sq km situated in the North Aegean Sea that has between 8 and 10 thousands inhabitants.