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August 10, 2004


After various flights lasting a combined total of six years, I have arrived safely in Greece. It's hot and a little crazy, but everyone -- that's right, everyone in the entire country -- is really nice.

I again thank all you blog commenters who sent advice and information about Greece, especially those of you who warned me about the system for toilet-paper disposal, because, incredibly, you were right.

My first newspaper report from Greece will appear in the Miami Herald tomorrow. And now, I am off to see the ancient whaddyacallit. Later.


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first first?

I was in greece last year and I spent a lot of time at those ancient whaddayacallems. Also the whaddayathinkaboutems, the howdoyousayems, and the moulin rouge javelin shafting lounge. I suggest dave see that first.


Actually, I once met a Greek who wasn't very nice. Then again, I met him here in South Florida, not in the "landofamillion-ancient-whaddyamacallems". That may have something to do with it. Hell, South Florida changes people. Look what it's done to me!

I thought all the ancient Greek whaddyacallits were in the British Museum in London. I think the ones in Athens were made in some Hollywood studio lot and shipped over there for the Olympics.

May I quote JFK.

God speed Dave Barry.

Six years is a long time to spend on a string of commercial flights. I have newfound respect for Mr. Barry, who probably entertained the daylights out of his fellow passengers by telling parachute jokes over the Atlantic. The only downside was that, unexpectedly, the Olympics were over by the time he made it to Greece.

With the time zone differences, if Dave says his first column from Greece will be in the paper tomorrow does that mean later today or yesterday? It's always a little hot and crazy in this blog, too... why leave?

IX. no wait, that's roman numerals. what did the greeks use? not arabic numbers, because that's not greek. i think it is all greek. i saw an ancient whooosis one time, but i dont know about a whatchamacallit. it could have been a doohickey, but i think those have to be mechanical. i look forward to your report.

What is the "system for toilet paper disposal"??? And, god, do I want to know?

Skoo: No.

Research indicates that just three lagers - Heineken, Amstel and Mythos - make up 90% of the beer sold on the Greek market.

dave, have you confirmed this yet? - what are we paying you for?

Over 75% of beer is consumed between April and September.

you still about 45 days left, dave - but drink responsibly - your writing sucks after you've had a few (sorry for the brutal honesty).

The bulk of beer is consumed in bottles as opposed to cans or on draught.

better to slap inebriated florida journalists upside the head with, me thinks.

The Athenian brewery Heineken is one of nearly a dozen Athens 2004 Olympic sponsors.

and also a prime terrorist target - just think of the devastation and withdrawals.

I'm thirsty - "thipsao".
I'd like a beer - "tha eethela meea beera."
Cheers - "steen eegheeia."

these words are pronounced best with a slightly slurred speech while leaning against a loud jukebox.

and as a bonus, now you can add multilingual to your resume.

I used to date a Greek woman, and boy oh boy was she nice.

Don't sweat the toilet thing, Dave...just find a Walmart. No doubt you can flush the toilet paper THERE. Walmart is like an American embassy. Terra firma Americana. Home with yellow smily face stickers. And if they bust you for tossing your TP down the septic system, just wave your Miami Herald creds at them and claim diplomatic immunity.

Oh, god...I just thought of something. Do you suppose they don't HAVE Walmart in Greece? ((Shudder))

Disposing of used toilet paper
Is causing quite a Greek caper
To toss in a can
Would be a good plan
If not for the smell of the vapor

My friend who has been abducted by aliens 13 or 14 times says that their favorite method these days is transatlantic flights. People are so disoriented that they can't tell if they've flown for 6 days to Greece or 6 years to Galamdaktar.

On the plus side, Galamdaktar is celebrating their Olympics now too, so your reporting will be the same (though you might not want to claim the US won Gold in the javelina probe, since our performance at the good will games was so poor).

So I have to ask the obvious: why exactly can't they flush tp? Do they use low-flow toilets in Greece, too? Are there pennies on the Greek urinals? or drachmas? Leave 'em a penny, Dave, and see if it screws up their economy.

What is the "system for toilet paper disposal"??? And, god, do I want to know?


Meh, it's all Greek to me.

(Had to be said sometime)

Please don't put "aliens," "javelin," and "probe" in the same sentence. I almost got a wince-cramp.


Speaking of Roman Numerals (not that many of us were, but anyway)...

How did the ancient Romans do math? I mean how do you carry the IV when multipling XX by II?

I asked my latin teacher this question many years ago in high school. He just responded by telling me to go away.

"The same post," I mean, not sentence. Don't put them in the same post.

See what wince-cramps can do to you?

Latin math, I can actually answer this. So, basic math, 14 + 17, or XIV + XVII. Notice that the I in XIV is being subtracted. We'll begin by writing the two numbers next to each other:XIV XVII. The subtracted I in XIV cancels out another I, so we cross them both out: X I V XVI I . Next we put the remaining letters into descending order: XXVVI. Simplifying gives us XXXI.

There are similar methods for division and multiplication, but we have evidence that most ancient persons were too lazy to do this, so they used the abacus, an invention that, in proper hands, can be faster than a calculator - or your average college BA student.

if you see andy williams he's old.


Go away

Thank you, Lisa, now I know why Arabic numerals and the digit zero are used all over the world now-a-days.

I can't imagine teaching long division to fourth-graders using Roman numerals, or Chinese characters.

Polly: Thanks!

the US won Gold in the javelina probe

Isn't a javelina a small pig-like animal? Yikes!

In the proper hands I am way faster than an abacus.

Hmmm. I guess that's not something to brag about.

Oh well, I'll take my victories where they lay.

If the Greek septic system can't handle toilet paper, what about dead pet fish?

And what exactly happens if you DO flush toilet paper? If you flush one square, do police show up or something?

And to answer your other question, no one can drive in Florida. But we allow dead guys to at least give it a try.


Using "aliens," "javelin," and "probe" and "post" in the same message is even worse than using "aliens," "javelin," and "probe" without "post," especially when one thinks about a post potentially being a long, cylindrical, probe-like object. And when the subject involves Greeks.

I just had to point that out. Sorry.



Just for the record, I would like to point out I am XIV-negative.

Thanks for the Greek math primer. I now have a couple of new tricks up my sleeve when showing off my matchstick puzzle collection.

Well done, Lisa! And thanks for the math with alphabet soup primer.

And regarding all the drivers in your link, as a Colorado driver who's totally driven, that was dead on balls accurate.

They recycle used toilet paper by giving it to people with a runny nose.

dave, the trip goes much smoother and cost less if you avoid things like flying on American owned airlines and hanging with bossy, opinionated Americans. Speak in a different language than English even if you don't understand yourself.

damn that summer sanders is hot like jane.

Hey, the ancient whadyacallit up on the hill with the thingamagig would look so much better if it still had the Elgin Marbles on it. But nooooooo, the Turks had to blow up the building and then Lord Elgin had to truck all the figures to London. So, if you want to see them you have to go to the British Museum. Go figure, sounds like something an American would do, doesn't it? Sign the petition to have them return them to Athens!!

Dave, welcome to Greece! Your first article was very good, starting with all the important things like toilet training. It's very exciting having you here reporting on the Games. No, I won't give you my house (not paid up yet) or carry you (bad back) but other than that you are welcome, provided that you dispose of TP in the little basket. Oh, and please stay of the subject of TIPIYOTKI; many Greeks feel very strongly about this, so it would be best to avoid this sensitive topic.
Welcome in Athens!

George, were you serious with that warning about the subject of TIPIYOTKI??
that was about the funniest line I've heard in a while.


George, were you serious with that warning about the subject of TIPIYOTKI??
that was about the funniest line I've heard in a while.


I lived in the Dominican Republic for a couple of years, and the toilet-paper sitution was exactly the same there. It almost seems to me that this is pretty standard for any country that isn't top-notch to middling first-world.

No, we don't have Walmarts in Greece - yet. But we do have Starbucks and other American franchises.

Did you hear the joke that President Bush came to Athens and when shown the Parthenon he gritted his teeth and promised "Don't worry, We'll catch the bastards that did this".

woody, if you know a lot about greece, maybe you can answer this: what is tipiyotki, and why does "george" think it's a sensitive issue?

I dunno, Jared, I lived in Trinidad and for a while in Barbados, and neither would be called a firest world country, and that TP situation never came up.

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