The older I get, the more I return to my Greek heritage to deal with life’s great dilemmas and problems.
In distant Australia, I constantly consult the ancient and modern Greeks to understand the world.
Here are some recent examples.
I feel uncomfortable and go to my family doctor. The doctor examines me and gives me a pathology claim form. I’m taking it to a pathology clinic. I take a number.
The pick-up nurse calls my number and shows me the room. I’ll give her the pathology application form.
She flips the request, then turns it upside down, but she still can’t understand the doctor’s handwriting.
She takes volumes I and II of EA Wallis Budges “An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary” out of her top draw. None of the volumes help: she still cannot read the doctor’s letter. She starts to sweat.
I remind them that the father of medicine is the ancient Greek Hippocrates. I tell her that as a Greek-born Australian citizen, I know how to help her decipher the pathology script.
I take the Rosetta Stone out of my purse. I work backwards and read and translate from the bottom of the stone which is in Greek. The same message is repeated in the middle part in Demotic, the popular language of Egypt at the time. I can now read the first inscription on the stone, which is in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. I tell her that the hieroglyphic message is a decree of the Egyptian priests commemorating the coronation of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, King of Egypt from 203 to 181 BC. Chr., Is. The text is similar in character to what my doctor wrote on the pathology application form. I am concentrating.
Within minutes, I decipher my doctor’s pathology request. I need a lipid study and a urine test. I tell the nurse.
The nurse takes my blood. I put the Rosetta Stone in my purse and take it with me to the bathroom. When I’m done, I’ll give my sample bottle to the nurse.
She takes it, thanks me and asks about the Rosetta Stone. I refuse.
“Please, please,” she says.
“That’s how much time I spend reading doctor doodles. Your incomprehensible writing is killing my statistics. “
I don’t move. I tell her ebay currently has a custom order for authentic Rosetta Stone replicas and she should buy one.
In the meantime she should join our group “Hippocrates’ Greek Helpers Against Terrible Handwriting” or HHHAHH for short if she wants to bring about real change and make the writing of doctors understandable. I urge them to sign our online petition asking doctors to write medical scripts and pathology requests in boxes, preferably with a blue pen. The nurse says she’ll take my suggestion into account.
I go home and open my mailbox.
I have an electricity bill. I get billed every 90 days. I’m trying to understand how the company got the amount billed via consumption per kilowatt hour (kWh). I’m confused.
I call the provider. There is a delay and then I hear a loud call center.
“Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, sir or madam. How can I help you today? “Says the man.
I have an inkling that I am speaking to a citizen from the Commonwealth subcontinent.
Mike tries to explain my bill. I am no smarter.
I know my “indicative greenhouse gas emissions” per ton because the graphic and the dots on my invoice state this.
I also know my kWh consumption this year compared to the same time last year because I see a picture of a small house with a chimney and a larger house with a chimney.
I’m grateful for the dots and pictures, but I can’t rest. I need to know how my electricity usage is calculated. I decide this is a job for the ancient Greeks.
It is believed that the Greeks developed the world’s first analog computer, the Antikythera Mechanism. Remains of the 2,100-year-old bronze mechanism were first discovered off the waters of Antikythera Island more than 100 years ago.
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As an astronomical calculator, it is considered a masterpiece of mechanical engineering.
Since its discovery, great strides have been made in understanding how the math device may have worked, including last week from University College London (UCL).
So I visit Manoli, who lives in Unit 2, in my apartment block in the inner-city suburb of Richmond, Melbourne.
He opens the door. He’s in his work clothes. He is a sponge diver. He wears standard Greek diving equipment or “σκάφανδρο”. He takes off his helmet.
He then takes out all 82 fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism that he found in the deep sea in 1901. He shakes off the water from the Aegean Sea and uses SpongeBob
Sponge head for wiping off the algae.
He enters all of the numbers on my bill. We are waiting. He cracks the formula. The method for calculating my consumption per kWh is disclosed.
“I broke Da (correct) utility bill code!” Exclaims Manoli.
I ask him to explain the secret, but he has no time. He tells me that his discovery is important information of global importance. He flies to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Manoli gets his visa. He first flies to England to tell the UCL Antikythera Research Team about his discovery, in the hope that this will aid their research in creating a working model of the mechanism using ancient techniques. He then brings the 82 fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. He is waiting for a flight back to Melbourne at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
COVID-19, Overseas Travel and the Future.
Although I solve some of the great puzzles of the modern world by deciphering my GP’s handwriting and my electricity bill, my heart is still heavy.
I throw and turn around at night. What will the future bring?
I decide to call my older, wiser cousin in Greece who is on lockdown. He tells me that he received a permit and traveled to Mount Parnassus in central Greece.
I ask him why he took the risk of contracting COVID-19 by leaving his idyllic beach village of Nea Vrasna in the Greek province of Thessaloniki to travel up a mountain. I ask.
“No, cousin. I’m worried, ”he says.
“I am worried about life and my future. I need answers.
“So I came to the Delphi Oracle.
“Wait a minute. Here comes the priest interpreting the messages sent by Apollo.
“Do you have any questions to ask the Oracle Pythia, cousin?”
I tell him to ask the oracle when the coronavirus will be cleared and when we can go overseas and to the Greek islands. I ask him to ask Pythia whether the Hellenic Republic will reintroduce the abolished diacritical punctuation marks from Greek grammar, which look like crescents, the “ψιλη” and “δασεια”, for the bicentenary.
My cousin asks all of my questions to the oracle. The priest comes back with the answers.
“The priest says COVID-19 will be eradicated in …”
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But my cousin stops in the middle of a sentence. He has another call and is putting me on hold.
I hear the recorded message from the telecommunications company.
The recorded female voice says, “Your call is on hold. Please wait ”and“ Your call has been put on hold. Please hold the line. “
The oracle has spoken.