Monday, December 27, 2004

Relatively speaking

I symphatize with everyone who has in-laws to visit during the holiday season. I only have relatives by blood to visit and that's plenty. We actually drove over 500 kilometres yesterday with my brother to visit our uncle and his family in Lahti and our aunt and her family in Loppi. That means we sat in the car for about 6 hours and in between we ate a lot. And then some. It's not polite to turn down food when you're visiting - who came up with that rule anyway?

We did have a few interesting discussions during the drive, like pondering about an imaginary scuba diver diving at the exact center of an underwater earthquake. Couldn't really decide what would happen. As it were, one of my brother's good friends was in Thailand when the huge tsunami hit South East Asia yesterday. He'd been on a scuba diving course with his girlfriend for a week already and they were getting ready for an expedition out to some island scuba resort. They'd been driving towards the beach in the morning when they saw all the people running and police shouting something. They turned around and started driving the heck away from the beach. They survived, barely.

Such a horrible disaster. Can you even imagine a 10-meter wall of water coming straight at you at about 500 km/h? That's like being hit by a solid brick wall, for goodness' sake. Slim chances, if any. Awesome powers, our lady Earth has.

She also has the power over freezing temperatures, which proved to be quite an obstacle for me today. I had planned on hopping into my car and driving to Tytti's place to watch the rest of the Hornblower-series. I thought it'd be good for the car, too, since it's been idle for a few days already. Needs to be driven every once and a while, that igloo of mine. Well planned is not nearly accomplished, unfortunately. I couldn't get in. The doors were frozen. I got the other door unlocked, but it was so tightly frozen (metal on metal, I suppose) that even the kind man who stopped and tried to help wasn't able to budge the door.

I so love it when men think I don't have a clue and they do. This guy was one of those. Very kind to try and help, but I've got several winters' worth of experience with the darling vehicle. The problem with the doors isn't solved by heating up the key. It's just not. Take my word for it. The whole darned locking mechanism is frozen solid, so the matches aren't going to help that much... This time it was clear to me that the constant rain and humidity this past few weeks has caused the poor car to dampen all over. Then, add a bit of freeze and I have a completely secured vehicle standing in the parking space. Not going to go anywhere before it warms up again. Can't blame me for trying, though. It'd be nice to be able to get in the car you own, wouldn't you agree?

On the other hand, the car may just have heard what I promised to myself yesterday. I decided I'll have to lose some weight this spring. I thought I'd begin after New Year's but I suppose my car decided I should begin right away. "You walk, girl!" And so I did, in the wonderful pristine weather. A good start for my diet, except for the delicious yummy things Tytti had to offer. At least the walks evened it out a bit. I gained a kazillion calories and used up about 800. Whee...

Mom's at home. She was released yesterday and she was very happy to be home. I can well imagine that. Unfortunately the medication she's on is so strong that she'd been feeling quite ill today. She even sounded a bit weaker over the phone than she did yesterday when I last saw her. But I'm hoping the side effects won't be so bad that she'd have to go back to the hospital. It's so dreary there. So hopefully she'll be feeling better tomorrow.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

At least I'm not hungry

Once again, I've done it. I've eaten way too much on Christmas. That's the way it goes every year. But I suppose one doesn't need to count calories this time of the year. I'll go to pace next week and work out extra hard. :)

Christmas Eve was nice. Dad, Lauri and I went to listen to the declaration of Christmas peace, which is an old tradition in Turku. I think I've missed the happening only about 5 times in my life. Once when I was sick as a kid, once when I was in the States and a few times because I had to work in the bookstore. It's the moment Christmas begins for me.

This year our other family traditions were a bit altered, as you may guess. We went to visit mom in the hospital after the declaration and took her one of her presents. She got a brand new cell phone from dad. Leaving her bedside was a bit sad. Here we were, about to go home and have the feast of the year and mom was getting a sip of soup later in the evening... We thought of her warmly during the evening - as Lauri and I drove home, we played Mutter by Rammstein in the car stereos. Seemed appropriate.

Food was delicious. Casseroles, home made cheese, turkey and what have you. I'm not a fan of fish, so I didn't touch that part of the dinner at all, but everyone seemed totally happy with everything they put in their mouths. I don't think anyone left the table feeling hungry - I sure didn't!

I think I had been a nice girl this year, because Santa brought me a delightful number of presents. I think I'm going to have no problems whatsoever spending the gift certificate at Stockmann and I enjoyed all the other gifts too. And Lauri seemed to like the stuff I got him, although it was all sort of boring, being mostly useful things for the kitchen...

All in all, a nice and peaceful Christmas. I'm so happy mom is doing better already (I've realised only after she was operated, that things were quite serious there for a while - I refuse to even think what could've happened...) and hope she'll be able to come home tomorrow. Lauri and I are going to go and visit grandma and our uncle in Lahti tomorrow, if the weather permits. As it'll mean about 400 kilometres of driving back and forth, it wouldn't be nice to drive in a snowstorm. We'll see.

So that's my Christmas so far, on towards New Year's Eve then. I still don't know what to do then. I may end up inviting someone over. I don't know. Have to think about this. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

No such luck

Well. Mom has been operated, everything went well, but they're keeping her in the hospital for a couple of days. At least that's what dad said when he called. We'll go and see her in the hospital today, but otherwise we're all pretty busy preparing for tomorrow anyhow. Dad hasn't even had time to get a Christmastree for us yet. So it'll be a Christmas, if a bit different this time.

I probably won't have time to blog from now on for a few days, so at this point I want to wish each and every one of you who read this a peaceful holiday season. Don't eat too much... :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Stormy night, dark thoughts

This year's worst storm has hit Finland. It's pouring rain and the wind is terrible. I wouldn't want to be at sea or anywhere outside on a night like this. Feels miserable even indoors. May have something to do with today's other events too.

Not a good day today. Started out fine, but dad called in a bit after noon and told me he had taken mom to the hospital. The abdominal pains she'd been having weren't just a common stomach flu. It seems she has appendicitis which has most likely already burst (if that's the correct term, I wouldn't have a clue) and they're going to operate her tonight. So much for a normal Christmas for me. We don't know yet when she'll get home, since she obviously has a serious infection going on. I so wish they'll pump her up with antibiotics or something so the infection will heal and she'll be able to come home for Christmas Eve.

Pretty please?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dust, papers and dusty papers

Atchoo! *dust settling down after vigorous cleaning*

I've been busy today and it's finally beginning to feel and look like Christmas in my apartment. Today's job was to clean up my study. A tiny room filled with papers, notes, books, binders and dust. I haven't seen the top of my table for quite some time until today.

The process is as this. I clean the living room, move all extra stuff into the bedroom and the study. Then I tidy up the bedroom and while I'm at it, I move all the extra stuff into the study... You see where this leads? Yes, a chaos in my study. I haven't got enough shelf space in here, so most of the stuff ends up in huge wobbly piles on the table. The kinds of piles that could surprise you with an avalanche, if you're not careful.

As you can probably guess I'm, unfortunately, one of those people who throw nothing away. However, I steeled my heart today and carried out almost four big plastic bags full of stuff. Four! Two bags of paper to be recycled and two bags of miscellanous bits and pieces I will never miss.

Before the ending was this happy, the above mentioned process of cleaning had to be gone through in miniature.

In order to clean up the table, I had to clean up quite a few binders. Sort out which papers were still needed and which were not. Turns out, most were not... After cleaning up the binders, I could stuff the binders with new papers. I'm sure I'll be cleaning some of those papers away next year, but hey, at least I have a clean table for the time being. I'll worry about the whereabouts of each parchment later. Cleaning up the table means that my almost foolproof system of archiving has momentarily gone into a state of deep shock, you see. Things are suddenly where they should be - the official documents from the different board meetings of different societies are actually filed away into the proper binders. Ooo, misleading...

Now I only have to do minor touch ups here and there plus vacuum the whole apartment. Then I'm ready to head towards Nousiainen to spend most of my holidays there... Seems dumb, but I have to admit that Christmas is just the kind of excuse I need to get everything done. And besides, mom and dad are going to stop by my place for glögi on Christmas Eve, after the "declaration of Christmas peace". We'll sit at my place while the traffic settles down. (Those of you who've seen the traffic around these corners about 20 minutes past noon on Christmas Eve know what I'm talking about.) So it's nice to have a clean home.

Clean home that smells of gingerbread cookies! Whee! I just got the last bunch out of the oven, yummy! I haven't made any cookies or pastries or anything for myself before. Most of the years I've lived away from home I've been working like crazy during these last two, three weeks before Christmas. This is the season of selling books. Now that I don't work at the bookstore anymore, it suddenly gives me a lot more time to prepare for Christmas. I don't think I'll ever again (before retirement) have a December like this. Some studying (and thesis writing, for sure) but otherwise nothing else. I've had time to hop into a bus, ex tempore, and go shop with Tytti or drive to mom & dad's to spend the day there. I love it. I just love it. :) If I were a millionaire, this is the way I'd always spend December.

Feeling good, Christmassy and happy. I hope the snow doesn't melt before Sunday...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Not your typical idol

"You're our idol, Johanna! May we get your autograph?" This is what my dance class students said to me (grinning widely) after the show was over last night. They had seen me perform in two dances, a khaleegy group dance and an estrade trio with my friends Heli and Satu. I told them I'd give them the autographs in January, if they still wanted them then...

The dances went surprisingly well. The stage was about the size of a stamp and a bit tilted towards the audience (always a small yikes-factor there). Made it very interesting to dance a group dance of six people. Especially wearing khaleegy dresses, which require a bit of room to handle. They really are gorgeous pieces of clothing, but the sequins and such are a hazard. If you don't leave enough room between two dancers wearing these dresses, the dresses get mingled up and then there's nothing else to do but rip them apart while sequins and beads fly about (and naturally the dance goes on and the smiles never fade)... Phew, luckily I didn't get stuck with anyone.

I love that dress, too bad there's really not that many occasions for me to use it. Of course we'll be performing that same choreography in a few shows in the spring, but after that... Khaleegy dances aren't that common in dance group repertoires. I think I'll have to suggest to Heli that we'd warm up an old khaleegy choreography we had five-six years ago.

The second dance I was in was the estrade choreography made by Sirke Seppänen - the one I learned on that weekend course in October. We'd been able to rehearse it together (the three of us, Satu, Heli and myself) only once, so I wasn't feeling that comfortable at all with that. Not only was there the choreography I thought I wasn't quite up to, but also my dress was causing me misery. I don't have a decent dress for estrade. I only have one dress, and I've been using it for a while already. I'm so not happy with it. It'd need some remodelling and some more decorations (more sequines and beads and such, that is) and it still would only be an ok dress, not a gorgeous one. So I was having some serious thoughts of self-loathing before getting on stage. I can't dance, I have an ugly dress, and so on.

The best part of the whole thing was, however miserable I felt about the dance and the dress before, that we did manage to get through the dance well enough and we got very good feedback afterwards. I don't care how objective the opinions were (or were not), but at least two people said our performance was one of the absolute best ones. Whee. That, if anything, is a boost for my lately very low self esteem. And maybe the dress problem will be solved in a while, since I'm having a dress made for me and we (Heli, Satu and I) did plan on having dresses made for us soon for occasions like this, when we perform as a trio. It's so important to feel comfortable in your dress when you perform. I'd like to be able to not worry about dress questions and concentrate on learning the choreographies... One of these days, I'm sure...

Oh well. I suppose I'll post this now. The weather outside is not very nice (pouring rain, strong gusts of wind), but I had thought I'd do the rest of my Christmas shopping today, which would mean I'll have to defy the weather at least for a while - as long as it takes me to get to the bus stop and the bus to come...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hoping for a white Christmas

They said in the radio just a while ago that there's about a 50% chance of a white Christmas in the whole country. If someone would've asked my opinion, I'd probably have said that the odds of that happening would be slim to none. It's pouring rain at the moment, has been for quite some time too. I would've put my money on wet Christmas instead of white. But if they say so, I'm looking forward to next week. It's supposed to be snowing then. I'll keep my fingers crossed (and my money safely on my account).

Despite the miserable weather, I've been in a pretty good mood lately. Lots of fun stuff going on (lots of Horatio Hornblower, Lord of the Rings, friends, glögi...) and there's still more to come. My infernally bad luck hasn't even been bothering me as much, knock on wood, though.

Yesterday I went to the seminar to hear the verdict on the introduction to my thesis. There wasn't a big attendance, but the discussion was nice. My works in general don't tend to raise that many questions, can't really figure out why, but oh well. In the seminar it's most likely in part due to the fact that the other people really can't be expected to know much about the subject. Which was aptly demonstrated to me by a few elementary questions about a few terms I had used. I need to provide a few explanations quite early on in my text. Otherwise the poor reader falls off the train before I even get it going properly. Don't want that, now do I?

What was really great about finally getting something done about the accursed thesis in the first place was that after the seminar gave me good feedback, I felt like I could get the project going now. I think I'm even slightly excited about the thing now. :) I still have to present a full chapter to the seminar, and I set myself a deadline for that. I'll have to turn it in in March. Before that I'll write the background chapter (I should get that done quite soon now) and hope that my primary materials will arrive from England, Malta and where ever before that. Hopefully the whole thing would be finished sometime in the late spring. Or at least one can hope. :)

Have you ever had the feeling that some odd event from your past is most likely going to come back and haunt you at some very awkward moment? Yep, me too. Ben had kindly done me a favor and copied an old c-tape to a cd. It was a tape of me, my brother and our eldest cousin Anniina (and our parents) singing Christmas songs. The tape was originally made some 20 years ago and we gave it to grandma & grandpa as a gift. They found the tape last Christmas and you can guess what we listened to on Christmas eve... Well, mom and dad then had the marvellous idea of getting the precious material preserved into a bit more reliable form, so I asked Ben if he could help and he promised. (Thank you!)

I took the cd to mom&dad yesterday and as we listened to it, mom got one of her...ermm... great ideas. We should re-record the thing now. Well, in one word - nowayinheck! I'm not singing Rudolp the Red-Nosed Reindeer anywhere near a recording device of any kind. I'm happy singing alone in the car, but that's about it. :) But the feeling of the haunting past? If I need to elaborate further, you haven't been using your imagination and I'd rather keep it that way. ;) So Ben, please destroy the file...

I'm learning nautical terms bit by bit. Oh yes, I'm referring to you-should-know-by-now-who and his adventures. I borrowed a few interesting books from dad yesterday and had a few good laughs with dad trying to understand the different terms. Luckily dad has some experience on boats and ships, thanks to the sea rescue service he's been volunteering in. So when I was desperately trying to understand which is way leeward and which windward, dad had a few good pointers. Mom must've thought us crazy, when we were waving our hands this way and that in the livingroom trying to demonstrate the direction of the wind and of the sails in relation to the wind. One of those lovely father-daughter moments there.

Oops, gotta go wash the dishes. Satu's coming to rehearse the choreographies for tomorrow's dance recital and I have a mess in the kitchen. That won't do, not at all.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


It's really quite sad. There's not going to be a Lord of the Rings premiere this year, no waiting in line for the tickets, no traces of the unique anticipation of completely new LotR footage - except for a lovely 50 minutes that I purchased (along, of course, the rest of the Extended Edition movie, plus a Minas Tirith statue and an extra dvd of the LotR Symphony) yesterday, without having to stand in line for it over night. Almost seemed too easy, mind you...

The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King Special Extended Edition dvd came out yesterday and quite obviously I went and got it immediately. This year, thanks to the paycheck from Nousiainen, I had the money to buy the collector's dvd gift set, which included the abovementioned extra stuff. Whee! Once again, I found happiness in material things, I admit it...

The magic of the movie is still there, most definitely. I cried, I laughed - just as I have done before with every single part of this movie trilogy. I don't know if I'm going to sound like a know-nothing-accept-all-without-criticism -kinda gal for saying the following about the Return of the King SEE, but do I look like I care? Well, if you'd see me, you'd see that I don't look like I care. So I can say this without any worries. I loved it. So sue me.

One of my favorite additions was the drinking game between Gimli and Legolas. ;) For quite some time I've wanted to see on big screen (well, small television, krhm) how the elves cope with the drink. Quite well, it seems. I remember once reading a fanfic that had a drinking game between Aragorn and Legolas and I thought it was hilarious. This scene, however, wasn't exactly a rotfl kind of scene, but very amusing nevertheless. Such dignity and poise on behalf of the elf. Simply endearing. As if he'd need to do anything but appear on screen to be endearing, but you know, even more so in this case. *grin*

There were some very touching additions, like the scene where Éomer finds his sister fallen on the battlefield. The cry of pain is truly genuine. Some of the additions, on the other hand, were there to explain a few gaps in the theatrical release. Like the one where Gandalf has his staff when he begins his ride towards the Citadel to save Faramir but has somehow lost it on the way, since he arrives without it. Well, duh. He had to fight with the Witch King on his way up and that's how the staff gets lost. Or blown into smithereens, if I'm to be more accurate. Even though this particular scene does explain one mysterious prop question, there are quite a few left unanswered for. For example the elven cloaks. Sam and Frodo misplace theirs somewhere in Mordor and clearly don't have them when they sit on the lonely rock right next to the massive lava flow. Do they get new ones from Galadriel later, when they've recovered, since all the hobbits have theirs in Grey Havens again? Oh well, I don't think I'll do any more of this nit-picking, it's best done with friends and with a glass of cider to the side - not alone by the computer.

Seeing this movie for the umphteenth time was still a fresh experience. I don't think I'll ever get bored of the Lord of the Rings. The spellbinding story and it's themes, friendship, leadership, love, good and evil are going to pull me towards my bookshelf time after time. Whether I'll grab the dvd boxes or the book doesn't really matter. It's all going to be there, all the excitement, heroics, gallantry, drama and sense of true wonder I look for in a good piece of the fantastic. So, finally, it's time to say farewell to Peter Jackson and his cast and crew - thanks for the wonderful movie experiences. I'm eagerly waiting for the Hobbit, now. (Here ends the part of this post where I have no criticism whatsoever, I hope.)

On the topic of my bookshelf, then. It got an addition of 3,6 metres yesterday! Whee! Now there's actually a bit of room for new books, which hasn't been the case in years. If there's anything I love, it's organizing my bookshelf. I couldn't even watch RotK yesterday, because I had to rethink the order of the books. (Well, I did have dance rehearsals too.) Plain alphabet would be too easy, you see. There has to be a separate shelf for favorite books, which then are alphabetically in order within that group. Then there is the section of professional literature (non-fiction, mainly history and such), alphabetically organized, the section of epic literature and myths, non-sf-literature, sf-literature and so on...

There's only one thing now that slows down the process of rearranging the whole bookshelf. I haven't yet had the time (or the patience) to sit down and list all the books in my "library database", which really is only a list of the books I have, but it's a nifty little piece of freeware I downloaded a while ago. I've listed a little under 300 books so far and I think I have at least as many to go through yet. I'd so love to have a fancy barcode reading device to ease the job, but then again, it'd remind me too much of the time I worked at the bookstore. It's not nearly as much fun to arrange the shelves in the store, because there are all those annoying customers who come and mess everything up about nine seconds after you've left the shelf in perfect order. It doesn't pay anything nearly enough to be a career for me. I'll be happy fussing about my own shelves, thankyouverymuch.

All in all, I've been about as happy as can be for the last couple of days. I got the introductory section of my thesis (the first draft of it) done late on Thursday and turned it in yesterday. It's going to be discussed in much detail on Tuesday in seminar, which may turn my mood for the worse, but hey, that's not before Tuesday. And since I know I've got some major gaps in the introduction, I'll be prepared for a public hanging. I'm such a good sport, aren't I?

A tired good sport. Nighty night.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

My life (or Bridget's?)

There. It's official. I've been labelled a nearly impossible case. Or that's how I think it has to be understood. Why? Well, let me tell you.

I got an sms-message from mom today. It said my aunt (her younger sister & my godmother, that is) had found me a perfect man. This of course made me ask a few short questions. Tall? Dark? Handsome? Intelligent? Available? ...heterosexual?? Which then lead to a phonecall from mom. She told me she'd called her sister to talk about arrangements for Christmas and my darling aunt had announced she had found a perfect son-in-law for my mother. A handsome, tall and dark guy, my age, successfull at his job (a salesperson for a medical company of some sort) and on top of all this, also gentlemanlike. (Oy, I think I like the sound of him!) Before I had time to ask, mom said that her sister had told this guy about me and he'd said I sound very nice, but unfortunately he lives quite far away from Turku. So... Whattheheck did she tell him about me??? Oh dear, I don't think I actually want to know. I think it's enough to know that my relatives are already trying to arrange a marriage for me, so that makes me officially a nearly impossible case, if any...

You know, this'd be perfect, if I'd meet this person one day and he'd be wearing a funny piece of knitwear... A woolly jumper with a snowman on it? Oh wait, that's Bridget's life, not mine...

As I promised, a few words about the new Bridget Jones -movie. I liked it. I loved Mr. Darcy, of course, but I did enjoy watching the whole movie, too. A harmless piece of entertainment with jokes that made me laugh, embarrassing moments that made me blush for Bridget's sake and a darned good soundtrack. I'm not so sure I related to this movie as strongly as I did to the first one (see above for the possible explanations), but I suppose this was meant to be the consolation for us singles only in our late-twenties: don't worry quite yet, you've still got a few more good years before it's waaayyy too late. :) So Satu, if you haven't seen it yet, gogogo already! And if you want to know more before you go (not the official reviews, that is), visit Tytti's blog. She got the word on this one.

A short Hornblower comment has to be made at this point. The discs (that I complained about in the post that is still missing) work just fine in my parents' dvd player, so I managed to watch two more episodes yesterday while visiting... *swoon* Did I ever mention Ioan Gruffudd is gorgeous? Now I only have three more episodes to watch, boohoo. I also finished reading the second novel today and my gosh, it's been enjoyable.

There, now I've already missed the beginning of C.S.I. so this is it. I must go. :)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Oh, woe! - Where art thou?

Why do my posts keep disappearing mysteriously every once and a while? I get confused emails from my friends asking what has happened to my blog, where are such and such posts and so on. Not fair, I say. I've had my share of unbelievably bad luck lately, why can't this world treat me a bit better for a change? Pretty please?

I suppose I'll have to wait and see, if that lost post will reappear in a while and if not, the support of is going to get one agitated email. I could, at the same time, ask about my profile and why doesn't it update at all? It still claims I've only made 12 postings and somehow I think there are a few more by now... But until later, I'm just going to have to let this matter go, I've got to go do some real work. Blah, blah, blah. The day's not looking too great right now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Happy 87th!

Happy birthday, Finland!

Independence day. I could say how proud I am to be Finnish and how I am, along with all of the younger generations of Finns, ever thankful to those great men and women who fought and served in the wars and kept Finland an independent nation. Men like my grandpa, who survived the war that ended 60 years ago. And I will say it. Or to be more exact, I did say it. It's all a cliché, but I don't care. I love being Finnish and there's just no place like home. :)

A bit of patriotism there to finish off the day. I've watched the presidential independence day reception on tv (some very elegant gowns tonight and obviously some not so), had coffee and cake at my grandparent's and that's about it. Just the way things in my family are supposed to be on December the 6th. Calm and quiet, that is. :)

Tomorrow sees me (hopefully) finishing a few more pages of the introduction to my thesis, so I'd better keep this short and sweet tonight. Like so. Happy 87th, Finland, and let's hope there'll be hundreds and hundreds more!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hands wear ship!

Take a turn round the cleat, you fool! You are close-hauled on the port tack. The wind veers four points and takes you flat aback. You're dismasted. Heave to! Main tops'l braces. Helm-a-lee.

This is what I've been enjoying the last few days. Maritime jargon. I don't understand half of it, but I doubt if I would even if it were in Finnish. I'm reading Horatio Hornblower's adventures in C.S. Forester's novel Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and I'm having a blast. The stories do tend to lose a bit, when the reader (me, that is) doesn't have a clue every now and then, but Forester has a talent in telling adventurous stories. I think I'll have to buy a companion to the books so I'll understand what the characters are doing when the command "Hands wear ship!" is given by Captain Pellew or some lower ranking officer of the crew.

Besides the skill of telling good stories, Forester has truly described a completely & utterly amiable character in Hornblower. Young Horatio is such a sympathetic and honourable person that it's a joy to read about his trials. He's described as completely tone-deaf , a bit clumsy and very shy at times. Not to mention the fact that he stutters a bit, when he's nervous. Isn't that just cute for a character that you would expect to be tough and bold. He is all that, too, but the weaknesses he has make him just a bit more convincing a character.

By the way, the boxed set of all the eight Hornblower movies I ordered from arrived yesterday. Huzzah! (I even had the good fortune that the shipment wasn't caught in customs...) There's a visual companion for the books, if anywhere. Not that I'll be able to recognise the names of the different parts of the ships when I see them, either, but at least I'm going to be able to see them. So what if a piece of wooden knick-knack is called something-rather, at least I'll know what it looks like. After watching the movies a dozen times I may even learn to name the knick-knacks without help. What I've already learned (from the book, though) that on a ship, there is a place called poop. Honestly. I did not know that. Learning is fun. :)

The scripts (so far for three movies) are delightfully well adapted from the books, almost line by line sometimes. Some additions have been made, for sure. For example you can't very well have a young and gorgeous officer completely without a romantic interest, now can you? So there's a French girl in the movie version of The Frogs and the Lobsters and she doesn't exist in the book, but well, who cares. She dies anyway... :) But the point I was going to make was that it's nice to watch the movies and try to learn the jargon from there. There are no subtitles in these movies, so it takes a while to get a hold of the English that's been used. I was proud of myself last night, though, when eventually I did manage to understand even the French lines uttered by Mr. Hornblower. My compliments to Ioan for such nice and clear pronunciation!

What else... Oh, today was the last dance class in Lieto for almost a month and a half! Hooray! Now I only have twelve more weeks to go from January on, before I can finally forget about planning dance classes for at least a few years. I'll have to try to find some motivation for the classes during this Christmas break, otherwise it'll be a loooong spring. Maybe the dance recital we're going to have on the 16th will do the trick. I'll be dancing in two dances in the show, a traditional khaleegy dance and an balady number with a veil. No solos, though. Lucky me. I can now mess up a whole group's whereabouts on the stage by doing something like, say, forgetting the choreography... :)

I'm going Christmas shopping with Satu tomorrow, yay! I haven't got any ideas what I could buy for people. For my brother, to be exact. He didn't even give me any hints when I asked about it a few days ago. He says he doesn't need anything. Yeah, right. I'll have to see if something inspires me tomorrow. If nothing else gets done, at least we'll have had a wonderful day at the mall. Lunch, coffee breaks and so on. Whee!

It's going to be a busy and fun weekend. (Note to self: don't forget the thesis!) Tomorrow, shopping and dance practice, on Saturday it's time for the Turku Science Fiction Society's pre-Christmas party (with lots of good food, I'm told) and on Sunday I'm going to go to see the new Bridget Jones movie with the girls. I'm so looking forward to having lots and lots of fun with my friends. This is exactly what preparing for Christmas should be like. Spending time with your friends and relaxing. Well, I suppose I'll relax this weekend, stress the next three weeks and finally on Christmas Eve, I'm going to be as happy as ever. And not stressed out, at all. :) I'm so looking forward to a very nice and traditional family Christmas, too.

A lot to look forward to, isn't there? Oh, almost forgot. I'm so excited about the upcoming LotR - RotK extended edition, too! I'm going to get the collector's edition with a Minas Tirith miniature! Expensive as heck, but I don't care. One more Christmas present for me, from me. :) Those are the best. :)

Ok, I'm nearing a delirious state now with all of these upcoming excitements, so I'd better go and relax. Watch a Hornblower movie...

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Immortal men, glorious history

A curious animal, man is. Realises his mortality and therefore chooses to seek immortality. Immortality in deeds, myth, legend, verse or anything. It's such a strange concept, really. The ambition or desire to be remembered, to live on. The fear of being forgotten in death. Why should it matter? I'm not saying I wouldn't want to be remembered long after I'm gone, but I'm not exactly going to be able to check up on things later on, am I? So why is it that it seems so important to get something meaningful, worth remembering, done? A psychological defense mechanism against the thought of not existing? (Yes, as you can see, I'm not a firm believer of an afterlife of any kind...) Against the thought of being of no importance in the grand scale of things? A desperate try, therefore, to convince oneself of having a purpose?

A lot to ponder, for sure. And why such an existential angst attack? Well. I saw Oliver Stone's Alexander today. It's the second movie in a very short time that deals with the desire of man to reach immortality, to be etched into the common memories of mankind. There is Achilles in Troy, and now Alexander the Great in Stone's epic. Achilles, of course is frequently mentioned in Alexander's story, too.

Naturally, the legend of Achilles is just that, a legend. There could be a historical person who has inspired Homer to write about such a character, but we'll never know it for sure. Alexander, however, is a real person who lived some 2300 years ago and that can be proved without any doubt. It's even quite clear that he had a great war horse named Bucephalus. In the movie, by the way, the horse was just magnific - a huge black steed of pure power and grace. I want one of those too!

What I couldn't help but wonder while watching the movie was the real person who Alexander was. Did he indeed think that he'd love to be like Achilles and be remembered throughout ages as a great hero and warrior? It was one of those really strong feelings of "otherness" I sometimes get when watching historical documents and movies that are based on real persons. What exactly did Babylon look like when Alexander first rode through the lion gates? What did he really look like himself? (I did like Colin Farrell in the role, mind you.) What doesn't seize to amaze me is the thought that there actually was a young man who, by the time he was my age, had conquered much of the known world. He lived, breathed, slept - just like any of us in this time.

I don't know if this makes me a hopeless romantic who shouldn't even think about a career in teaching history or just a person with too vivid an imagination... In any case, I do think it's one of the best things history can offer me, this sense of wonder. Very much like good literature (especially science fiction & fantasy), it makes me stop and think. Oh, to be able to travel in time! I'd love to see how Alexander and Hephaestion rode to battle (not to mention each o... oh no, I'm not going into that direction now. Shoo, thoughts, back to line, go on!) or... Well, I'd love to see quite a lot of things & moments from the past.

So sure, I'd love to be immortal. I'd just love to have been immortal from the dawn of the first high cultures of mankind. I wouldn't want to miss anything, really. (I'm not asking for much, now am I, Santa?)

And the movie then? I liked it. I don't think it deserves to be smashed into little itsybitsy pieces with the sharp weapons of the critics. I do think Stone would've been better off, if he'd edited some of the fight scenes a bit more. Now they were numbingly long and bloody, for no apparent reason. I'm sure he wanted to portray the chaos of war and the necessary cruelty involved, but the point could've been made with shorter battle sequences, too.

Visually the movie was breathtaking. The city of Babylon (they had put the palace of the Hanging Gardens into the scenery, too, which I thought was wonderful - and another great sight was the harbor of Alexandria, with the light house. library and all) was amazing, the mountains beautiful. The costume designers had done a great job, I thought the Persian dancers were especially interesting. They did seem like they'd stepped down from an ancient wall painting. I mentioned already that I thought Colin Farrell was a piece of eye candy for me, but omg, so were a few other of the young men of the movie.

There was this servant boy (well, a young man) Alexander had. Oh dear me. He didn't even look real, for cryin' out loud. He was just one of those people who are too beautiful and because of that they seem more like ancient Greek statues than actual living human beings. But dear, oh dear, the boy was nimble (ergo, not made out of marble, I presume)! There was a scene where eight or then young men performed a dance to Alexander and his court. Wow. The guy reminded me of the first time I ever saw Horacio Cifuentes perform oriental dance in Helsinki. I didn't know a man could move like that. :) (Horacio, by the way, is a whole other story, maybe I'll tell it some day, but until I do, all you need to know is that his shimmies are -ahem- great...)

While Hephaestion (Jared Leto) had his moments, I did prefer Alexander most of the time. ;) What I don't get, is the big deal that has been made out of the love between the two male characters. The Greek people trying to sue Oliver Stone for portraying Alexander as bisexual? Why on Earth would you want to do that? The cultural and moral values of modern people can't be applied to an ancient culture. It should be well known to the Greeks themselves that in the ancient Greek culture men having male lovers wasn't really anything out of the ordinary. I thought that the story of the love Alexander and Hephaestion shared was really quite beautifully told. There weren't any explicit scenes involving them - actually the only scene that could be considered a bit more explicit was the scene where Alexander and Roxane first shared a bed but then, it's the "normal", heterosexual way of things, so I suppose that is acceptable for the American (and Greek) audiences, too... So all in all, what's the big deal? Alexander's deeds aren't going to be any less magnificent or tragic, if we acknowlege the fact that he most likely didn't share a bed with just his wives...

Oh dear, it's midnight and I'm still sitting here. Have to go to bed now. :) It'd be great to ponder the movie a bit more, but I need the sleep, mortal as I am.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Wrong species, oops!

Remember the odd piece of garden decoration I told about last week? I had another look at it yesterday (on my way home from Parainen) and -gasp- noticed that I had totally misjudged the poor thing. It's not a floating head of a cute bambi, oh no. They weren't antlers I had seen sticking up from the head, they were ears. I had to adjust my thought patterns really quickly because of this new piece of information. It's a small donkey. Deer, donkey - an easy mistake to make when driving by at 60 km/h in the dark, don't you think? :)

Another mistake I've made lately was to misspell the name of the band in the Finnish rant about pronouncing h in Finnish words. It's not Smack but Smak. Terribly sorry for that. But the song is still awful, no mistake there.

So. I stand (self)corrected now. Now I think I'll go and plan my dance classes for the evening. I'm so happy that the Christmas break begins next week. I'm having difficulties motivating myself to do the job. It's awful, really. The students have paid for the course and expect me to be cheerful and energetic when all I want to do is stay at home and read. Or watch movies. Or do anything else except for teaching a dance class. So the break will be more than welcome. Then I have only 12 more weeks to go in the spring, since I'm very seriously thinking about quitting teaching for a while at least after next spring term. I need to move on and start concentrating on real work and other things.

Oops. There we have it. See my motivation? I need to go now. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

How wrong can it go?

Terribly, utterly and devastatingly wrong, it seems.

Sarin was kind enough to point out to me yesterday that a Scifi Channel production of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea stories is going to be aired in the near future. It's a four episode miniseries which went into post-production sometime in September or so. My first reaction: "What? Is there really such a thing? Wow!" I think I had heard rumours of it at some point, but had completely forgotten all about it, so this really was news to me.

Earthsea is by far my absolute fantasy favorite besides Lord of the Rings. I love the subtle, almost minimalistic storytelling of Ms. Le Guin. She has created a beautiful, rich world and her stories of dragons, mages and the true power of names are elegant and thoughtful. I've always thought I'd love to see a good filmatisation of the stories, but at the same time I've been afraid that it'll never happen. The people who make fantasy filmatisations these days would face a true challenge in portraying a world where the biggest threats seem to be more of the philosophical kind than the war mongering kind. I'm sure the Earthsea stories could be made into a perfectly beautiful movie, too, but this production isn't going to be it.

As I surfed through the site of the miniseries I became more horrified by the moment. They've added a completely new side to the story, a frigging warlord (a Kargide king) who wants to rule the whole world and needs a mage by his side to do that. So he chases Sparrowhawk around to make him his minion or whatever. Nooooooo!! And on top of this, they've made the priestesses of Atuan look way too dressed-up and Kossil seems to be a beautiful young woman who hungers power to herself (wants to team up with the Kargide king, believe it or not) instead of a not-so-pretty and silently threatening character I visualised her to be. And they've cast a black man as Ogion! I never thought he'd be black, dark for sure, but black? Not that I have anything against black people, but the story hasn't got a black Ogion in it. Even Ged doesn't look like he's supposed to...

I'm so disappointed. Not surprised, though. Such gems as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings -trilogy are truly rare. Sure he made some interpretations too, but he did, in my opinion, get the feel of the story right. I love Tolkien's work very much, but I really don't have that much to complain about Jackson's version of the story, either. (Well, he could've cast three more gorgeous elves - I truly would've wanted to see Elladan & Elrohir and Glorfindel! In the coronation scene there is a possible Glorfindel, but he would've deserved more time on screen...) Oops, got sidetracked there for a bit... The positive side of this Earthsea production is that it's going to save me some money. I don't think I need to buy the box set, when it comes out.

It's really so sad that the world of fantastic for some reason needs to have huge armies and battle scenes when fitted for the screen. That's so not the point in Le Guin's work. The author herself wasn't involved in the production (surprise, surprise) and has, rightly so, commented on some of the producers statements. Quite sternly, too. Good for her.

Ok, enough of that. Except for a bit more... I think I'll have a darned good time smashing the miniseries into little bits and pieces of utter crap if I ever see it. I promise to be a bigot and a true purist when it comes to commenting on this production. I will fail to see anything good in it and I will loudly claim that the books didn't have anything like that in them. :) (Well, to be honest, the scenery did look nice. They've obviously tried to make everything look good. Unfortunately it probably doesn't save the whole. Too bad.)

Well. The thesis doesn't write itself while I blog, so that's it for the day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

To be or not to be?

Last night I went to the theatre with Maarit to see Hamlet. It was great! It was, as I think I mentioned before, a visiting theatre company's production and this was the last time they performed it in Turku.

There were only four actors playing all the roles. One man was both Horatio and Hamlet, one young woman was both Ophelia and the queen (plus a gravedigger), one man was the new king and Polonius. The fourth actor actually did have a bit more consistent role in playing Laertes, although he did double as an actor of the group that comes to the castle to perform according to Hamlet's wishes. Altogether I was surprised how easily they moved from character to another. Or rather, how easy it was to follow the transitions.

Hamlet, as portrayed by Ville Sandqvist, was a very physical character. They had chosen an appearance for him that reminded me somehow of Kenneth Branagh's marvellous performance in the movie Hamlet from a few years back, but Sandqvist's sheer delight of movement was amazing. He had all these little (and big) wiggles and facial expressions that told the audience he was acting crazy and the certain wiggle he did when he spoke about his father's death told the audience exactly how the old king had died. Besides all the wiggling he came very close to the audience all the time, which was very nice. He actually sat in the front row quite a bit, commenting the play from there. It all made the play seem very intimate (it was also a very small stage, so the actors really were brought very near) and I liked the atmosphere a lot. I got to laugh surprisingly many times, considering I was watching one of Shakespeare's most famous dramas.

The staging was very minimalistic. A wooden wall and a wooden plank. A big trunk and a few chairs. And a piano. They had also chosen an interesting way to portray the graveyard. They opened up the huge doors in the back and revealed the large storage hall behind the stage. The gravedigger was picking up skulls very far away from the audience - I liked the "otherness" of seeing the world behind the stage. It cleverly pointed out that behind all this life, there is a graveyard. We may close the doors that lead to it, but it's still there, whether we see it or not. Wow. This is why I love theatre. Such small decisions in staging, costuming and sounds can act as very powerful metaphors.

I did notice they had picked up a Macbethian detail into their version of Hamlet. The queen was constantly trying to rub something off her hands. The blood of the dead king, the proofs of guilt... Once again a detail I liked.

A very enjoyable evening, all in all. I'm eagerly waiting for Kansallisteatteri's (National Theatre) King Lear. It will open in March and it'll have Esko Salminen in the leading role. He's one of my absolute favorites in the Finnish world of theatre. I saw him in the Tempest quite some years ago and was totally blown away by the pure presence he has on stage. I think I have to book my tickets pretty soon, because I don't think I'm the only one who thinks that'll be a must-see.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

They actually paid for that?

Sometimes I just don't get it. Who in their right mind would pay for an ugly piece of ultimate kitsch, put it out in their front lawn and keep it there even though it's obviously broken? Last week I almost drove into the ditch because I had to turn my head to see the thing better. Following is the full story. :)

On my way to Parainen, there is a house. Lots of houses, sure, but this one is special. In a very kitschy and a bit creepy way. It's quite dark already when I drive by that house on Wednesday evenings and last week, as I mentioned, I had to take another look. There's this sphere of light in the middle of the very dark yard. Whattaheck, I thought. As I managed to get a second glimpse, I realised it wasn't a candle or any kind of normal piece of lighting one could have on the front lawn. It was one of those plastic animal statues you can buy for decoration. (I've always thought they're just as bad & ugly as the garden gnomes and would never get one myself, ever!) A cute little bambi, supposedly. But the curious thing about it is that it seems to have lights in it. If only it was that the whole bambi would be lighted, but no. It's just the frigging head! How creepy is that? A bambi's head floating about in mid-air in the middle of the front lawn. Alight. Gee, isn't that just the perfect way to embellish the yard? So not, for cryin' out loud! Brr, the things people buy...

Sitten pieni suomalainen ahdistuskohtaus. Oletteko kuulleet uutta biisiä, jonka nimi on Hallanvaara? Sen esittää nuorehko bändi nimeltä Smack. Aivan järkyttävää puuppaa. Laulu on paikoin ihan ihme kiekumista eikä laulaja osaa lausua suomea. Joka ikinen 'h' jää lausumatta. Niinpä laulu kuulostaakin osapuilleen tältä:"onko 'allanvaara vai saako sieltä mitä 'aluaa? --- talvi'arso peittää maan..." Aaaghhh! Järki lähtee! Miksei kukaan ole kertonut pojalle, että suomessa h kuuluu ääntää? Muita tämän bändin kappaleita en olekaan kuullut, mutta jos tätä 'iton 'allanvaaraa soitetaan koko 'elkkarin talvi, minulta poksahtaa päästä joku proppu aivan varmasti. Uaah.

Okay, that was a bit of a rant for the Finnish speaking people about a Finnish band that doesn't pronounce the 'h' in the words. Annoys the 'eck out of me, that's why I needed to vent a bit. No point in fuming about it in English, sorry about that. :)

Gotta go, need to eat. ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wouldn't you like to have an igloo?

I'm not exactly sure I would, but then again, nobody's asking me anyway. There it is, in the yard. The best part is that it's basically impossible to get in it at times (doors are, well, frozen) and when you do get in, you can't close the door behind you (it's still frozen).

Actually no. That's not the best part. The best part is that the igloo can be moved from one place to another quite simply - after you get in. Whether you're able to close the door behind you is actually a minor problem which can be solved with a piece of rope or your other hand. Quite possibly both.

Not to mention the fact that if you want to get the igloo moving, which requires you to get in, you'll have to leave home with a plastic bag full of hot water. Helps with the doors, you see. They are frozen, you remember?

If everything goes well, the igloo can be entered in about 10 minutes, which isn't that bad. To get it going one has to have a few more tricks available. Sometimes an extra battery, sometimes half a dozen swear words (the good Finnish ones, with lots and lots of r's), sometimes a few helpful passers-by. Anything and everything can be used. Sort of like in war and love, you know. I suppose it has to do with the fact that the igloo procedure is a war, of wills, if nothing else.

Oh, the joys of owning a car in the winter... Especially my car.

Yes, we had snow today. Winter's here for real. It was very curious, really. I went to work with dad this morning and when we drove to the school, there were only a few small prickles of sleet coming down. But nothing alarming about that. Tends to be that way in mid-November here in the South-Western parts of Finland.

I began my lesson, a 90-minute session, with the seniors. We were discussing literature (some 15 minutes into the lesson) when I looked out of the window. Snow. Not much, but the ground looked definitely white.

Add another 10 minutes into the discussion about different novels the students had read. I looked out of the window again and the whole atmosphere is white. I mean ground, mid-air and sky - everything. Wow, I thought. Isn't that something. Somebody just whitewashed the scenery. Interesting.

Yet another 10 minutes later, no more snow in the sky or mid-air. Only on the ground. But about 5 cm's worth of it. And everything in less than half an hour. Fun, fun.

I've got three more days to go at school. Has it really been four weeks already? Seems more like a week. Dear me. It'll be Christmas before I know it, if the time keeps flying like this.

What am I going to buy my brother for Christmas? This is the one thought that worries me every year about this time. He lives on his own now, so I don't have to worry about matching his (now ex)girlfriends taste in decor anymore. It should make things easier, but somehow I doubt it. Grumbled about this problem to Satu last weekend and she managed to make me feel like I'm already hopelessly late with my shopping. She told me she'd already purchased some gifts for her family.

Aaaarrrgggh. I'm such a bad person... :) I tend to get the last gifts bought about two days before Christmas eve. Despite all the nice thoughts I have every year about doing some gift shopping already during the fall sales - I never do. Oh well.

Ok, enough of pre-Christmas panic for now. I'm sure I'll have more time for it later. Now I'm going to go and read some more of The Unknown Soldier and then I'm going to sit very passively in front of the tv and watch something non-educational. There.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Lessons in aerodynamics

They didn't have those (the engineers) when they designed my car. Should've taken some, says I. Had one of those very interesting drives today, when I can't help but imagine my poor Skoda rolling over and straight into the ditch. The weather has been that bad the whole day. Stormy winds and rain. At least I have to say the car looks better when it's wet - the paint is normally completely dull & matte and the only way to make it look shiny, is to get it wet. Looks like a brand new car now. :)

Thank goodness it's Friday. I only have one more week of work and then it's back to my studies and my thesis. Amazing how fast the time goes. I sure do hope it slows down when I'm doing research and writing the "Big G".

Got some good feedback from my students today. One of the girls gave a short speech (they all did, because that was the theme of the lesson, giving speeches) on good and bad ways of learning communication skills. She used the communication skills course I'm teaching as an example of quality learning. :) Isn't that something? In addition I've noticed from the essays the students have been writing, that they have actually listened to me every once and a while. Most interesting.

Whee, I got tickets for Hamlet. I'm looking forward to going to theatre after a long, long time. It's hopefully going to be a god interpretation of the play, I'm sort of rewarding myself with a night at the theatre after I get done with work in Nousiainen. A nice thought it is, indeed.

Sunday is Father's Day and I need to go get dad something. Don't exactly know what yet, but a walk in the shopping centre will, no doubt, give me some ideas of how to spend my money wisely. (Whether I'm capable of "wisely spending my money" is a question well worth pondering a good long while about, but I'll let it pass now...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hunting for Shakespeare and other, more remarkable stories

This one goes into the category of "more remarkable". As I've told before, I have a circle of friends that's growing unbelievably fast this fall in the form of little baby girls and boys. First there was the second daughter of the Suntila family, Venja Meri Annael, then came the firstborn son of Tomi and Hanne (Ville, he is) and this Monday was the day that Mari and Mikko's second child decided to finally present herself to the world. Many warm thoughts and congratulations to the proud parents of the little princess and, no doubt, even more proud little brother Aleksi.

In my life, work dominates. In a major way. Last night I did get a moment of relaxation, as I was invited to a friend's birthday party. Eeva turned 24 (she's so young...) and had decided that she wanted to celebrate in a local Italian restaurant. There were eight of us girls. We've all met at the university, but I don't see most of them very often anymore. So it was very nice to sit down and chat for a while. The food was delicious (I got pasta "Alla Rico", it had little mozzarella balls in it, yummy!) and there was enough of red wine for all. After the dinner Eeva invited us all to her place and put together a delightfully sweet dessert. Rest of the girls were also served gin tonics, but I had to say no - I had to leave the party early to do some work. So no gt's for the working girl... Not that I would've cared for any on a Tuesday night anyway. I'm getting old or something... ;)

Came home, did my work and went to watch a rather shocking documentary on tv. It was about a 36-year old man, who had a fatal skin disease. I didn't see the beginning of the documentary, so I'm not sure whether the disease itself is fatal or if the disease makes it more likely to get fatal cancer. (That's what the fellow in the document had, eventually.) Well, anyhow. The disease is such that the skin peels off if there's a scratch or a touch that is too strong. It's a genetic disorder and there's no cure for it, at least not yet. It's just unbelievable what can go wrong with the human genes. I never thought there could be such a disease.

Documentaries like that really make me value my life even more. And wonder about the people who, for example, want to ban stem cell (Is that the term? I don't remember for sure... Kantasolu?) research. If science could cure people with such horrid diseases like this one, I do think it should be done.

Oops, I wandered into some deep waters there. Well, I'll wade on to more shallow subjects, as is proper for this blog. :)

Shakespeare. (Did I just say shallow? Darn, I think I just took a dive deeper instead of wading anywhere...)

I've decided I need to see more Shakespeare on stage. I've seen only Tempest before (but then again, it was unbelievably amazing) so I thought I need more. I'll have to remember to call the city theatre tomorrow and ask if they still have tickets for the visiting theatre company's version of Hamlet. That'd be the first of this round. Then there is Macbeth. It can be seen in Tampere. Wonderful. The third Shakespeare I'd like to see before the year's end, is Midsummer Night's Dream. It'll open in Helsinki in the beginning of December. It's one of my favorites. The original is, of course, a delightful story, but I also love the version Neil Gaiman has done of it. Ah, wonderful. Now I just have to start asking around for people to come to all these plays with me. I've managed to book Maarit for a night of Hamlet (if I get the tickets...), but I'll have to start asking around for the others. Wink wink.

Gotta go now, have work to do. Blah. Luckily not much though, so I can enjoy the program on Charles II later in the evening. Fun, fun.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Respect MY authority!

No, I haven't had a fit in front of a class today. Instead there's been an episode of utter frustration and despair with... (you guessed it) ... my car.

The darned thing passed the annual check up last week (after the brake thingies had been replaced with shiny new ones) and just as I had thought that it wouldn't be causing me gray hairs for a while, it did just that. It didn't start yesterday as I tried to leave for Nousiainen. Some harsh words later I basically gave up and later in the evening came to Nousiainen with my brother. Royally pissed about the whole thing, obviously.

Well, today, after a nice day at work, we (dad and I, that is) went to see if there was anything that could be done about things. I had joked that the car probably starts right away, when dad stands next to it. And you know what happened?

Yes. Right. Exactly so. I seem to have no authority whatsoever when it comes to this vehicle. I think I may have to make a cardboard figure of dad just to fool the car to think dad is there to watch it.

But all in all, the car's running again so I shouldn't complain. But I know I'd have a few less worries, if I didn't have to worry about the car, too. I even dreamed last night that it wouldn't start and I had to run to work in the rain. Gaah.

Such is life. Life of an owner of an eastern European old car.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Long time, no see

My sincerest apologies for not blogging for a while. I've been completely swamped. And I mean all the way to my eyebrows. All the swamp things have been able to hop over my head without any problems lately.

It's beginning to seem obvious that when I get a regular job as a teacher, I will not be able to do anything else except work for at least a year or two. I won't have any spare time. I haven't really had any these past two weeks and it's beginning to take its toll. I was so exhausted yesterday that my temperature had risen way above normal and I had to skip practice. And today's practice in Uusikaupunki as well. I desperately needed the rest.

And what better way to rest (ok, besides sleeping, that is) than watch a few good movies. My friendly neighbor, the video rental place, was there to help. So I ended up crying my eyes out while watching Whale Rider. It's a beautiful movie about a young maori girl, who is named after a mythical leader of her people, Paikea. As the maori culture is facing difficult times in modern New Zealand, Paikea's grandfather had hoped his first grandson would be the next great leader of the people. Naturally, this role couldn't be filled by a mere girl, and young Paikea has to try to find her place in the world. When the ancient ones answer to her call and she becomes a whale rider, her grandfather has to reconsider. A movie with beautiful sceneries, amazing footage of huge whales swimming in the ocean and a touching story, a totally recommendable experience. I'm glad Keisha Castle-Hughes, who played Paikea, was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. She played the role with such grace and intelligence, it seemed almost unbelievable for such a young performer.

The second movie I watched was Spielberg's movie Catch Me If You Can. I should've watched this one before the sixties party we had. The movie tells the story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who became one of the most successfull con artists of his time. After being caught, he served some time in a high security prison, but was then recruited to the FBI, who of course had put him in prison in the first place. Quite a life story. The story was actually better than the movie. I felt like the movie would've needed a jolt of some kind. It was a bit anemic, I think. It seemed like Spielberg could've squeezed more out of the storyline, but as it was, the movie was ok. It was entertaining, for sure, but nothing remarkable.

So what else is new? Unfortunately, not the president of the US. A close call, once again, but unfortunately clear enough for mr. Bush to secure a second term. I'm not even going to begin to think about everything that can go wrong (or wronger) during the next four years. I was happy to notice, however, that my former home state of Illinois was a firm supporter of senator Kerry. And almost as happy to see that mr. Barack Obama was elected senator (in Illinois as well) and is now the sole black member of the U.S. Senate. I came across his campaign while digging into American politics, as one of my teachers at the University said he'd heard of a very charismatic politician named Obama. Naturally I had to find out who that was and what was the praised speech he'd given somewhere all about. Seems like the good people of Illinois made a good choice. Think about it - a young, black Democrat in a conservative Republican Senate... I do hope he's got what the job obviously takes.

Oh dear, the time. Kirsi's having a birthday party tonight and I have to start getting ready. I'm quite looking forward to a nice evening with a bunch of dear friends, because tomorrow I have to work. On top of everything else, I have to read half of Väinö Linna's novel The Unknown Soldier, so that I can discuss it with the students on Monday. It's been almost 10 years since I last read the book, so I'd better read it for real. Otherwise the discussion will be a bit, well, unprofessional. And since I expect the students to have read it, I'd better be prepared myself. Oh well, that's tomorrow's problem. Right now my biggest problem should be along the line of "whattaheckamIgoingtowear?". I'll be back, when I have time. Ta ta till then.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Forgot... mention one of the most definite joys of staying at mom&dad's. Sauna. Ahh. Wonderful. I feel about as stiff as a blob of something jellyfish-like. Which is to say, not stiff at all but warm and wobbly instead. I don't know if the jellyfish feel warm when they wobble, but I'm warm now. And wobbly. And not about to think of a better way to describe this relaxed state I'm in. :) This'll do, I'll save my witty remarks for the students tomorrow.

Ta ta.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The joys and aaarrrggghs of living at home

I'm staying at mom&dad's for a few days to save in fuel (and grocery) costs. This way I don't have to drive from Turku to Nousiainen and back again every day. And I get free food, which is always nice. But most of all, I'm so happy my work load is a bit lighter to carry when mom's here to help me plan my lessons and give me advice. I'm most definitely avoiding quite a few anxiety attacks this way. :)

I'm feeling a bit peculiar about all of this, however. I sat in the sauna last night and thought about my situation. I live with my parents (even if for only a few days a week), I go to the same school I used to almost 10 years ago and what is the most pathetic part of it all, I still drive the same car I used to almost 10 years ago. Thank goodness I've so far managed to remember to go to the teachers' lounge in the morning instead of staying in the hallway with the students, like 10 years ago...

Funnily enough I feel terribly young and not very adult in the teachers' lounge. There are a few teachers who are about my age, but I still feel younger than they. Weird. I do know I am an adult and quite capable of doing my job properly teaching the kids, but still - most of the older teachers are my old teachers. It's nice in a way, because I know all the people and the places, but odd in a lot of ways. In a positive way odd, I mean.

What of the aaarrrggghs then? Well, not many of those, except for this darned modem. The phones were actually dead for a while when I was trying to log on and gosh, how frustrating is that when you're used to a nice ADSL connection at home. Plus the modem likes to cut me off every once and a while and it gets mighty irritating after a while. Oh well. Better to log off anyhow, before dad comes to remind me of the phone bill...

Oh, before I go, I do have to mention that yesterday I, once again, demonstrated how totally incapable I am of saying no. I'm now a newly chosen member of the Turku Science Fiction Society's board. I did try to stay out of it, but they managed to convince me that the editor of Spin needs to be in the board too. So I'm back after a few year's glorious break in meetings and trivial tasks. I have, however, quite clearly stated that I will not take on any other responsibilities besides editing the magazine. And may any deity help me, if I still end up with something more to do...

Gotta go now, need to go chat with mom about the grand finale of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Mom just finished the book and is quite likely just as taken by it as I was. Wonderful piece of literature. Extremely readable and entertaining. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tough decisions

My gosh. I'm having such difficulties deciding who to vote for tomorrow in the communal elections. For me the communal elections are actually more a question of finding a good person for the job than voting for a particular party, since I'm not exactly a steady supporter of any of the parties. Aagh. Well, I have till tomorrow to think about this, the most important thing is to vote anyway.

Mom got out of the hospital yesterday. Everything had gone well and mom seemed quite cheery when I quickly went to see her at home, before dashing back to Turku with my brother. She'll have a nice sick leave, since she isn't allowed to lift anything that weighs over 1 kg, which means dad'll have to do all the housework for a month and mom can concentrate on reading light novels & watching good movies while I do all her work at school. Not altogether a bad deal. :)

Well, I seem to run out of things to ponder, so that's it for today. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Older? Yes. Wiser? Probably not.

So there. I'm older. Whee. Don't feel that different at all. Oh, my back still aches and I have a cold I have to ignore because of work and I'm tired as heck, but that's just business as usual. Can't complain.

My day began quite nicely. I had to wake up bright and shiny well before 7 a.m., which, in case I haven't mentioned it before, is pure torture to me. But I managed. Took a shower, got dressed and got some breakfast to go with my newspaper. All of a sudden, my doorbell rings. Before 8 a.m., who in goodness' name can it be? I opened the door and got a hug. :) Lovely. My darling friend Satu had decided to pop by on her way to work, just to come and hug me and give me a birthday present. That's just utterly lovely, but then again, that's Satu for you. She'd gotten me a cake knife (or a cake slice, as it says on the package). Just perfect! :) I've invited her over for coffee and cake (or pie) every once and a while and I guess she took pity on me - I've never had a proper cake knife. Now I do, thank you ever so much! *hug*

Well, that was about all the celebrating I got to do today. Day at work went well, the students seemed to greet me with a good attitude and the program for the day wasn't too stressing. I even managed to plan most of tomorrow's lessons at school while the seniors wrote their essays. Wonderful.

I just got a message from dad, he'd called mom in the hospital. The operation had gone well, but mom was still a bit drugged up after all of it. No wonder though, she'd been under anesthesia for three hours, at least. Quite a trip to the la-la-land. I'm glad that everything went well and I'll be even more glad to see her tomorrow.

I probably had a dozen or so more things to babble about, but I find myself nodding off. Better to log out before the post becomes totally incomprehensible. Zzz.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Monday mumblings

I can't claim I hate Mondays like Garfield does, but this Monday has found me less than excited about, well, mostly everything. I'm beginning to get a bit anxious about mom's surgery (although it's a routine operation and she'll be in and out of the hospital within 24 hours on Thursday-Friday) and the month of work that begins on Thursday because of that surgery. Stress, stress. Besides that, my back hurts.

I woke up wanting to curl myself into a tight ball, because that was the only way my back didn't ache. I'm beginning to think it's my bed's fault. Thanks to dancing, I've never had problems with my back before, but this past summer things have changed. And now it's beginning to get very irritating. I think I may have to start saving up for a decent bed or a lot of massages...

My gosh, did I just complain about an aching back? Aiee, I'm really getting old! :) Pitiful, this is.

Weekend was nice, though. I even managed to enjoy myself at the sixties party, even though I had felt a bit non-festive before. I was very happy with my hair and makeup and actually my whole outfit. Mom's dress was cute and I even had the boots to match. Boots that one of the young men in the party told me were "fuck-me-boots"! *a shocked gasp* I beg to differ! My boots, although almost knee-high, are very conservative and so not what he said they were. I'm not that desperate! And besides, even if the boots were like that (which I refuse to believe), they haven't been of much help lately, hah. Mostly because I don't use them anymore... He did say, grinning, that maybe not all the men realize the nature of the boots and the ones that do, are too young. Ok, so what was that all about, anyway? Do I have a young admirer now? Geez, I feel old. :)

One more thing about the men in the party. I got them all kneeling down. Very obediently. :) I was the master of ceremonies for 10 minutes during the evening and someone suggested I should order a punishment (which is a drink) to the men who didn't kneel voluntarily when we sang a song for the ladies who had worked in the kitchen. As I'm so fond of men kneeling down, I agreed that the suggestion was appropriate and should be enforced. Fun, fun. The joy didn't last for long, though, since we girls got a punishment drink immediately afterwards for not burning our bras as the theme of the party would've required.

Bridget Jones' Diary was on TV last night. I so relate to that character and I so think Mr. Darcy is yummy. After watching the movie I had to watch an episode of Pride and Prejudice - only to gawk on Colin Firth a bit more... I borrowed my Hornblower-DVD to my brother, so I can't drool over Ioan for now - a dose of Mr. Darcy was a good remedy indeed. I'm a bit worried about the upcoming new version of Pride and Prejudice though. I don't think they'll be able to cast anyone as convincing as Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth. But the new Bridget Jones -movie is hopefully as good as the first one was. It'll be interesting to see how they've decided to handle the plot twist of Bridget wanting to meet Colin Firth since Colin will already be playing Mark Darcy... I've kept myself quite well uninformed about the production news, so if anyone out there knows the answer to my un-asked question, please do not spoil the experience for me. Thanks.

Gotta go wash the dishes now. No fun, blah.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

What's cooking?

At the moment, apples. I'm expanding my expertise in the kitchen. :) I can't very well expect to live my life without knowing how to make apple jam. Or puréed apples, I suppose. Luckily it isn't difficult at all, so there, yet another skill I can say I have. It smells wonderful in my kitchen now, makes me feel like I should be making pancakes or something, too.

Probably should not do that, however. Tonight I'm going to a sixties theme party and there's going to be food there. So I'm saving some room for that. I'm not in a good party mood right now, unfortunately. The only thing that keeps me from staying at home and renting a movie instead is the fact that I already paid for the party and won't get my money back if I don't show up.

Well, there is another reason, now that I think of it. I borrowed an authentic sixties dress from mom and it's going to be fun to wear that for the evening. Grandma made it herself for mom and the fabric is a nice Marimekko-design. It's as retro as they get! Add an old (huge) Kalevala-pendant, boots, appropriate makeup & hairdo and voilá, I'm a sixties girl. I think I have to choose a favourite Beatle to be more authentic. I don't think I'll pick Ringo. I suppose it'll have to be Paul or John. :)

I'm just a wee bit worried about the hair and makeup part. Especially the hairdo is going to be somewhat problematic, since I have two left hands when it comes to doing something with my hair... I'll have to see if I can find a ribbon of some kind, they used to be popular accessories (I spent much of last night surfing different sixties fashion sites...). I could just go with pigtails then. :) About as complicated a hairdo I'll ever manage by myself.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Still alive!

Whee, I survived the week of work! Out of the 18 lessons I had planned, only about 4 were sort of poor and very boring. The topic was just a motivational black hole. I talked with mom (I'm so glad I have her to help me in these situations!) quite a few times during the week and she told me she usually teaches that topic in an hour or so. I had to stretch the subject for friggin' five hours! I'm not least bit surprised that the history of the Finnish language or the Finno-Ugric language family made some students nod off. Well, of course, if I'd had some more materials and experience, I would've been able (maybe) to keep everyone awake (myself included...), but what can you do. No interesting materials, no interesting lessons. But luckily I had at least 4 quite good lessons on different subject matters to balance the week. :)

I have a week to recover, mom will begin her sick-leave on Thursday and from then on I'll be driving back and forth to Nousiainen almost daily for a month. I think I may have to stay with mom&dad every once and a while, otherwise all the money I'll be making will be spent on gas before I even get my first paycheck.

Money, unfortunately, makes me a terrible shopaholic. Now that I know I've got some money coming my way, I've already made a few orders... I'll be getting a few books from and after I get a Visa (I'll have to go and apply for one, heh) I'll order the boxed set of all the episodes of Horatio Hornblower! Can't wait! :) But I've decided I deserve some pampering after all this (and all the upcoming) hard work. Besides, I need to buy myself a few birthday presents! It's such a good excuse.

Birthday, gosh. I'll be 27 years come next Thursday. Yikes. It seems a lot. Yes, yes, it's clearly less than 30 or 35 or whatever, but it still seems a lot. Especially when I think what I've achieved in life. Which isn't that much, if one judges by the standards the society sometimes seems to support. I haven't got a husband (or even a boyfriend), I haven't graduated from the University yet (getting there, though), I haven't got a steady job, I don't own my apartment, I don't have a dog or a nice car (but at least a car of some sort, that's good) and what else... Sounds like I'm a major looser. :) But the heck with it, I'm not! I'm just working my way up to a proper middle class life and it seems to take a while. Next year this time the situation may be completely different, which is a motivating thought.

I should be glad though that I don't live in the 17th century, for example. I'd be considered an old hag or a pitied spinster by now, for sure! What made me pick that century as an example was the wonderful movie I watched last night. Girl with a Pearl Earring. Just beautiful. I remember I had to copy the painting by Vermeer in art class in high school and I liked it a lot. It's a touching and delicate piece of art. The movie told a possible story behind the painting. The story of Griet is of course complete fiction, but it provided for many magical moments between the characters. The implied forbidden love (a maid and a master artist) never got further than a few hesitant touches or looks, but the sensual and erotic tension between Griet and Jan Vermeer was portrayed skillfully. The more probable identity of the girl in the portrait according to experts is Vermeer's daughter, but where's the fun in that, then? And by the way, Colin Firth was very handsome as master Vermeer!

On with the day, I really have to do something else today too, than just sit by the computer. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Knights in shining armour shop at Versarchery

They make such good movies for kids. Especially when they think also of the parents accompanying their kids to the movies and underestimate neither the kids nor the older members of the audience. Shrek 2 was such a movie, saw it last night. My gosh how I laughed already during the first five minutes! Clever (and downright hilarious) intertextualities and references to modern popular culture, witty dialogue, likeable characters (I love the donkey, he's so darned annoying and adorable at the same time) and the story, although quite simple, will keep even an adult entertained. Oh, and the soundtrack is just groovy. :) Many thanks to Tytti and Jani, who dared me to go to the movies with them even though I had to work today. Now I have the image of cute little donkey-dragons (dongons? drakeys?) hopping around to think of whenever I feel gloomy. Instant cheer-up. I think those little critters were even cuter than the Puss in Boots. :)

Working has been ok. The students seem nice enough, and my lesson planning hasn't failed me once. (I actually should be doing tomorrows plans now, but I'll get to it in just a few minutes...) Tomorrow I get to show parts of the presidential debate again, so at least one lesson is already well planned.

The only thing bothering me about this job is actually the teachers' lounge and the atmosphere in there. I felt practically invisible yesterday. I tried to participate in a discussion about some materials for history classes (and I did have something of value to say) but I was so completely ignored it was sort of funny. It seems like in this school the history teachers are the sort of old-fashioned elderly teachers, who talk loudly about their views and aren't that eager to listen to others. Today I witnessed a loud conversation, where one of the history teachers was complaining something about her daughter's school matters and the other history teacher got all very supportive and together they were bashing this other school. Enter a third teacher (who wasn't a history teacher) and the result in just a few moments was three people talking on top of each other and none listening to what the others were saying. Gosh, I hope I never become anything like that.

The Finnish teachers however are a bit younger, at least the ones I've met now, and they have been very nice. This is exactly what the life of a substitute teacher is. You have to put up all your barriers to go in front of the class the first times until you get to know the students a bit and when you go down to the teachers' lounge, you aren't exactly a member of that little community either. A stranger between two worlds, of sorts. Can't wait to get a real and steady job so I could actually begin to feel comfortable somewhere.

Well, so much for blogging for now. Have to plan those lessons, since I have to go to a meeting soon. I hope I get everything mostly done by that, so I don't have to do much in the middle of the night...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Learning things the hard way

Aarggghh. I was just about to publish a post I had written (only moderately long this time) and decided to preview it and check that the links I had put into it actually worked. I clicked on the first one and got the right image and tried to return to the preview page. It had disappeared along with all the links and all the text. Dammit! I'm so mad at this darned program at the moment that I'm not even going to try to recreate the post I had written earlier.

The only thing I will put also into this posting is this. The one thing that cheered me up today when I had huge problems with planning tomorrow's lessons. I'll get back to posting whenever my bloodpressure allows it. Until then I will be staring at the above mentioned picture.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Sure signs of the approaching winter

Winter is really coming. Not that you'd believe it if you looked out of the window right now. One more beautiful day of fall, sun shining from a bright sky. But the weather forecasts are claiming that it'll be snowing tonight. At least in Lapland. I hope that doesn't happen here, I'm going to go to Suvi and Pasi's party by bike and snow doesn't fit into that picture.

And the other signs? Well, first of all, the small ice cream stand in the corner of the park I live next to, has been taken away. The owner will haul it back sometime in April, usually, which naturally is a sure sign of summer for me. But during the winter months ice cream has to be bought from the grocery store. How dull.

Second sign is, if possible, even clearer. I just found out that one my favourite ciders is being sold again. Whee! Someone in the marketing department of the brewery has had the bright idea of naming it Winter Cider (or something like that) and naturally it's only sold in the winter. And what makes it a wintery taste? Vanilla, apparently. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. How is vanilla any less a summer taste than it is a winter taste? Am I supposed to quit liking vanilla for the summer? Not going to happen, you hear? I want to buy vanilla cider also in the summer, because I like it the year around.

Watched an interesting movie last night. I tried to find Wilde or Great Expectations to see more of Ioan Gruffudd (yes, Tytti, I was about to go on with the theme of the day...), but the video rental place didn't have either of them. Or at least I couldn't find them. So I ended up renting a movie called Shattered Glass. It came out last year, I think, and was about a young reporter who falsified most of the articles he wrote for the respected magazine The New Republic.

Quite a story, I have to say. What was even more interesting was the short interview of the real people who were working with mr. Glass when all the events actually took place in 1998. I felt kind of sorry for the young man (Stephen Glass), he's got a permanent reputation of a pathological liar now and it wasn't even sure whether he'd be allowed to practice law in New York due to this questionable trait in his character. Poor guy. He made some seriously stupid decisions in his youth and sure will pay for them for the rest of his life. Not to mention the bills he's sure to receive from his therapist. But I think he gets those covered by selling his novel, written about a young reporter who makes his stories up... Way to recover, mr. Glass.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The power of media

Go me. I did a good job lecturing about the presidential elections of the US today and yesterday. I think. The students seemed to be genuinely interested and asked very good questions. And made excellent comments on the clips of the first debate I showed them.

I'm not a political person, far from it, at least when it comes to standard party politics. Lately there have been a few people who have said I should get involved, but actually I enjoy other ways of making a difference, like teaching high school kids about the Finnish democracy (and telling them they have a responsibility to vote as soon as they are able to). But even though the game of politics as such isn't my favourite thing, I've enjoyed digging into the US presidential campaign a lot. I've surfed all the official sites of the two main parties and both senator Kerry and president Bush. Absolutely fascinating. Especially the role of media in today's politics. It doesn't seize to amaze me how detailed the planning is behind the seemingly flawless performances of the candidates.

The first "debate" for example. Rules, rules, rules. In these vast documents the representatives of both parties had compiled, were regulations on the distance between the two podiums, camera angles, what type of pencils the candidates would have available for them... and the list just goes on. It's easy to undestand why the republican side would be interested in the distance of the podiums. If the candidates would've been too close to each other, senator Kerry would've seemed every inch as tall as he is, while president Bush would've seemed shorter. So what, one might think, that's just the way it is. But think again. Throughout human history it has been obvious that the strong, tall people are the fit & able ones (as mislead as that conception may have been at times). Many leaders in world history have been tall. Many short military leaders have worn tall hats to compensate. Nowadays we know that the employers tend to hire taller people (I read an article on that some time ago, unfortunately most of the details escape me). Ergo, when it's absolutely necessary to make use of every psychological weapon in the arsenal, you set the podiums so that it's not that obvious that the other candidate is taller than the other. In that way the primal gut instinct of "taller is better" won't kick in. The whole campaign is full of these details. It's a media war and every single psychological weapon will be used, whether subtle or not. (And I won't even go to the rhetorics of the speeches, which are every bit as interesting as the ways of influencing the subconscious through the gimmicks of modern media.)

What I really hope is that all my American friends do go and vote on November 2nd. And that all my Finnish friends vote in the local elections on October 24th. That's my little piece of propaganda for the day. Vote! :)

Whee, it's Friday already! Whee and yikes. I have to get some serious work done this weekend with the lesson plans for next week or I'll be in trouble. Luckily it will be easy to avoid the "all work and no play" -type of weekend, since Suvi and Pasi are having their house warming party tomorrow. Whee. I expect it to be quite literally that. They have a small apartment in the student village and I think there'll be at least as many people there as there are square metres available. :) Have to remember not to wear a thick sweater, I suppose. It'll be fun though, I'm sure. There's bound to be some new people there besides all my old friends, which'll be refreshing.

Oops, have to go and check on the dinner. It'll be overcooked in a moment, if it's not that already...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Somewhat annoyed

What is going on with this blog? I got a message from a friend that the Pool has disappeared. When I tried to see for myself, it had indeed gone missing. All I got was a blank page when I tried to view the actual blog. I was already writing a very annoyed message to the Blogger support team, when the page suddenly reappeared. So what the heck was that all about anyway? I'd like to keep my blog visible, thank you very much.

Another annoying thing. Or maybe not annoying, but disappointing. You got it. My car didn't pass the check up. Not for the reason(s) I was afraid it wouldn't (the exhaust or the brakes - and please excuse me again, if I get my terminology confused, I'm no engineer...), but because a part of the brakes, a disk of some sort (jarrulevy, for those of us who speak fluent Finnish, heh), was just a bit too corroded. Humm. As I consult my advanced learner's dictionary a bit better, it seems that the disk is actually "a rotating plate at the centre of a car wheel". Right. Now that we got that settled, I can say dammit. This means I have a month to fix the matter (back to the repair man again) and then I have to take the car to another check-up. And it costs money, surprise surprise.

The guy who did the tests was kind enough to comfort me that those plates (or disks or whatever) aren't that expensive, though. Well, that's good news, but the bad news is that I really don't have that money either. Or to be more precise, I wouldn't want to spend much on this car anymore. Every full tank of gas probably triples the value of the vehicle anyway, so you can probably understand my point... I shouldn't be complaining though - if I'm going to have to drive around in this car, I think I'm better off if it's at least not broken. I think I do have to appreciate brakes. They are handy sometimes while driving, I suppose. :)

In addition to all this, I think I'm coming down with yet another cold. My throat is sore and my temperature is a bit high. This is absolutely the last thing I need right now. I have to be able to work next week, and this week also. Not much fun giving a lecture, if there's no sound coming out of the lecturer? Gosh, I hope this is just a result of not sleeping enough last night.

Yes, I have only myself to blame for that, because I stayed up last night and watched the rest of the Horatio Hornblower movie. Or miniseries. I'm so totally confused by the format of the thing that it's downright annoying. How appropriate for the day. Then, I tried to search for more of the Hornblower-series on DVD, but I couldn't find any region 2 box sets listed. Not in anyhow. Annoying! I guess I'll have to continue looking. I'd very much like to have more of Ioan in my DVD-collection. ;)

That's probably the least annoyed thought I can produce at this point, so I'm going to make that my closing today. More Ioan for me. Please. :)

Monday, October 04, 2004


I've got wheels again! I'm free! I don't have to bike around to get around unless I want to! Whee! *knock on wood*

Yes, I got my dear old grumpy car back. The door handle isn't broken anymore! Isn't life wonderful? Well, yes it is, at least till tomorrow morning, when I take the car to the annual check-up. I'm afraid that there is something wrong with the car still and it won't pass the tests and then I have to take it back to be repaired again and that costs more and the new check-up costs more... Oh well, I suppose it's not very smart to worry about it now, the car has had a wonderful habit of surprising me by passing the tests every once and a while. Maybe this'll be one of those years again.

Today I went to see the Finnish teacher I'm going to be substituting for next week. She seemed nice enough, but somehow I got the impression she wasn't a hundred percent sure I could do the job. It wasn't anything she said directly, but I just had that feeling. Well, I'm sure I can manage, I'll just have to get quite a bit of planning done already this week. And besides, it's only for four days.

I'm, to be completely honest, a bit more worried about the whole month I'm going to be substituting for my mom. More worried in the sense that there's even more responsibility connected to the job, when I'll be teaching over a half of the length of those courses. I'll probably have some influence on the grades of the students and that's something I'm not that used to at all, since I've mainly done really short periods of substituting. On the other hand, it'll probably be somewhat easier than my worst case scenarios are, because mom will be at home and she'll be able to help me ("It's not like I'm going to have a lobotomy!" as she so nicely put it). And besides that, it'll be a school environment I'm completely familiar with, since it's my old senior high school. Small things like knowing the routines that have to do with lunch breaks give me some more confidence, because the students won't be able to trick me quite as easily. Not that they usually are either, mind you. :)

Ah, I'm getting a bit too tired to think about work anymore. So I'll go and watch Horatio Hornblower instead. It's a BBC-produced miniseries about an English navy officer in the end of the 18th century. Starring my new favourite, Ioan Gruffudd, yummy! :) In the episode I watched last night he was seen swimming around delightfully often. Which of course means that he had considerably less fabric hiding his (...erm...) nice upper body than in most of the shots... A girl has got to have some eye candy every once and a while, right?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Meeting new people

It's always nice to meet new people. Especially if they turn out to be fun and smart and pleasant. I met several this weekend.

First of all, I get to add yet another name to my list of famous people I've talked with. (Not that I actually keep, say, a written list, but it is nice to be able to say that I've had lunch with Neil Gaiman...) Mr. Alastair Reynolds was, as I already mentioned, visiting the Turku Book Fair. A very nice chap. I got my book signed at the fair and so on, but the best part was that he was nice enough to come to a local pub to sit down and chat with a bunch of us Turku sf-fans.

I was so totally tired after a three-hour dance workshop I had in the evening that I almost didn't go to the meeting at all. I thought it'd be just the same old faces I see all the time anyway. :) Well, luckily Tero had sent me a message and told me that Reynolds might be visiting, too, so I decided I'd go no matter how tired I was. Besides, the thought of cold apple cider began to nest in my head. And it nested well, too - boy, the cider tasted good when I finally got to it!

The result of the evening - some promised materials for next year's Spins (whee!) and interesting discussions about the nature of history and writing and what have you. It was indeed nice to meet this fellow.

Second new person I met was the teacher of the dance workshop our dance group organized this weekend. She is one of the best oriental dancers in Finland, a very liked teacher, an extremely skilled choreographer and simply a nice person in general.

I hadn't been on her courses before, so I had been waiting for this workshop for quite a while. We were going to learn a dance with a veil and zills. Wow. It was a multi-piece song with some balady, a short drum solo and a separate finale. Not an easy dance to learn in 6 hours. But we did it anyhow. Even I was able to remember almost everything, which in itself is a small miracle. My brain doesn't deal with remembering choreographies too well... All this, of course, tells me something about the teaching skills of Sirke. So, as a result of this meeting I have a whole lot of sore muscles and a beautiful choreography I can use. (Now I only have to get a new dress I can wear!)

The third new person I met was one of the newest people I've ever met in my adult life. I went to see the baby Ville in the hospital today. Ville is Tomi and Hanne's firstborn, who had, in fact, been born at the time I wrote my previous post. So he was a two-day-old today. I probably haven't held anyone so young since I was four myself. That was when my little brother was born and I'm sure mom&dad let the big sister hold the baby for a while. Sure, there have been quite a few babies around lately, as my friends have begun to procreate, but I haven't been able to visit them in the hospital.

Ville was such a tiny and cute little thing. Slept (like a baby, duh...) through the whole ordeal of everybody taking pictures of him all the time and only wrinkled his brow a little when passed around to everyone who wanted to hold him for a while. Hanne had a happy smile on her face, although she said she's still a bit tired from everything. No wonder, I suppose. Tomi looked just as happy as he was photographing his son. They'll be such good parents, I'm sure of it.

And to add to the list yet another new person I met this weekend, I also have to mention that I met Venja today. She's Shimo and Petra's second daughter and she was also very cute and sleepy when she came to visit Hanne and Ville with her parents and big sister, Iria. And I got to hold her, too. Aww.

So what was the result of meeting the two babies today? Well. I'm not exactly having any more motherly thoughts than before, that's for sure. I simply can't imagine being a mom, which doesn't mean I don't want to have children one day, because I do. I suppose it's just that the "opportune moment" hasn't exactly arrived yet. One of the reasons clearly being the fact that I'm single... :)

I guess what seeing all these happy parents with their kids really does to me is to make me think about how difficult it actually is to achieve that much in life. First you have to find a person to share your life with (and darn it, there aren't that many good candidates around! *mutters*) and when you find that someone, it still doesn't mean that the family bliss will begin 9 months after the wedding day. So I hope all my friends who have a happy marriage and healthy children know just how lucky they are. I can't say I consider myself any less lucky at this point of my life, the feeling of happiness just comes from different things. Which is fine with me. And as my grandma says, I still have time. Or as my other grandma says, it's a shame I'm alone. :)

In any case, I'm very happy for Tomi and Hanne. Ville is going to be a fine man one day, I'm sure.