Monday, February 28, 2005

And the Oscar goes to...

Ah, it was that time of year again. Time for the Academy Awards galore. Glamour, glamour, glamour. And a whole lot of bling bling to top it all.

I learned my lesson last year, when I only had a 3-hour tape for the gala. I actually missed the end, mainly the final thank you's of the RotK-crew. Gaah. It's not like that was the reason why I taped the whole show, oh no... Well, this year I was prepared with a 4-hour tape and it was probably the first time in years they were done with the giving away of little golden men ahead of schedule! Typical.

So I spent most of today in front of the tv, since I also visited Tytti and watched a few films with her in the afternoon. I just had to watch the whole show as soon as possible. (In other words, no thesis writing today - I'll make up for it tomorrow, though!) I'm funny that way, but not nearly funny enough to stay up from midnight till 7 a.m. to watch the live feed. Oh no, I need my sleep, hence the help of the VCR.

This year's awards were just a wee bit odd to watch since I haven't seen any of the most important nominated movies yet. Every time I think about renting Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I'm too late and there's no copy left in my neighboring movie rental place. Closer and Sideways only just opened in Finland, so I haven't had time to check those out yet. The Aviator has been showing for quite some time already, but I haven't found the time to go and see that, either. I don't know if I'm that interested in the Million Dollar Baby anyway (although I'm sure it's a marvellous movie, judging by its success last night) and Ray, well, I'd like to see that one day. The music'll surely be outstanding and Jamie Foxx seems to have gotten his Oscar for a truly exceptional performance. Finding Neverland I've got to see, but it will remain to be seen when the time for that will be. What else? Oh, I did see Shrek 2 and Kinsey, as I've mentioned before. And few others, that were nominated in some of the "smaller" categories.

As I don't have much to say about the movies (I'll be sure to return to those as soon as I see them) this time around, I'll just have to say a few other things I noted.

First of all. Could someone please tell me what was it all about with Beyoncé? Her French was horrific (please, take some tutorials or stick to English, ok?) and frankly, I would've loved to listen to someone else sing at least two of the tree songs she performed. Like the artists that performed them originally? How's that for a radical thought?

Secondly, I think there were some jaw-droppingly-gorgeous ladies (and at least one man, fortunately not wearing a gown) in equally stunning gowns & jewellery. They didn't show any major fashion fumbles (I've got to check some other place, like a mag or a website for those), but in my list there were a few sparkling diamonds based on what I saw. Literally and metaphorically speaking. Halle Berry. Reneé Zellweger. Natalie Portman. Above mentioned Beyoncé's jewellery during the song from The Phantom of the Opera. Scarlett Johansen's jewellery in her hairdo. Orlando Bloom.

Natalie Portman looked like a Greek nymph. She was simply elegant. Halle Berry's dress was very sleek and very sensual, IMO. And for Ms Jones - what an entrance! Reneé Z. glided through the stage in her red gown to present an award like she was royalty. The kilos she's lost after Bridget Jones 2! I only wish I could do the same. (I suppose I'll have to start saving up for a personal trainer too, among other things.)

Sigh. You know which job I'd really like to have? The job of one of the ladies who bring the statuettes to the stage and then escort the winners backstage. They get to wear nice dresses and hang with the stars on stage. Wouldn't that be fun? I'm sure it would. But how do I apply? I'm sure I'd be tall enough for the part, but I'm not so sure about the other requirements, though. There are bound to be other requirements. Oh well. A girl can dream, right?

Actually, the girl really needs to dream, literally. I'm about ready to start sleepwalking now. Or sleepblogging, to be more exact. In order to prevent this, I... *yawn* See my point? Better go. Ta ta.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Let's talk about sex

I saw a very thought provoking movie tonight. It was the movie Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. As you may (or may not) know, the movie is a biographical drama about the life of Alfred C. Kinsey, who did extensive and ground breaking research on human sexuality by interviewing thousands of people about their sexual experiences. And he did this during the 1940's and 1950's, a time when sexuality was a taboo in so many ways.

I couldn't help but think how brave this man had to be to face the prejudices of the time. Sure, he was a scientist and as scientists are known to break conventional ways of thinking, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he carried out what he'd planned to do. But still, in the 40's? It's one thing to think outside of, say, the box of physics or chemistry, but human sexuality? A whole different playground (no pun intended) back then. There were, according to the movie, for instance, people who thought oral sex would somehow result in problems when trying to have children (this is a belief I had never heard of) and of course those who thought masturbation is the way to get cancer and/or whatnot. The conservative (religious) moral values were probably making people feel really guilty for feelings of sexual pleasure. If that isn't a challenge for a research like Kinsey's, then I don't know what is.

What a different world it was. Or was it? It isn't that hard to guess who's been outraged by the portrait of a sex researcher. Yup, you got it. Conservative Christians. American conservative Christians. You surprised yet? In an article published in the Washington Post it's reported that the conservative groups are basically blaming Kinsey for everything from high divorce rates to AIDS and child abuse. Hello? Anyone with a brain out there?

I guess there are still quite a lot of people who think that sex is something dirty, sinful and unnatural. Once again I've found a group of people that I just can't understand. Of course this has quite a lot to do with the conservative religious views that are the ones I really don't get. I do think sex is a private matter (look who's talking and in what forum, ahem...) and that's fine. I just think it's one of the most natural things in life and I feel really sorry for those who feel that it's something they have to be ashamed for, or afraid of, for example. As long as it's a question of the likes and dislikes of consenting adults, I see no reason to make a big deal out of it. It's life. Has always been and will (hopefully) always be, from the beginning of time. No religion can deny that.

I could probably go on and on about the subject and many others that were dealt with in the movie, but I think that might get me so worked up that I'd stay up half the night and besides, who'd want to read that anyway... Instead I'll just say that I think the movie was well worth seeing. The acting was good, Laura Linney was even nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs. Kinsey, and I've always liked Liam Neeson. What also was good about the film, was that the director didn't dwell too much on the sex itself, which in my opinion is the obvious danger in stories like this, but built the story mostly in more subtle ways. He was really telling a story of a scientist, not of sex. And most important of all, the movie made me think. I always appreciate that.

I'd better go now, tomorrow's going to be a long day. We're going to Tampere (Tomi, Maarit, Leila and I) to a meeting of the Finnish sf-societies. It's going to be fun to see some of the familiar fandom faces again. Maybe even some new faces that we could encourage to join TSFS and read Spin. It'll btw be the first time the wider Finnish fandom meets me as the editor of Spin. Yikes. Not that I'm any different from a few months ago, but they may have some tough questions for me. Like questions about my visions of the future of Spin. I plan to get four Spins out this year? Would that be good enough an answer? Let's hope so. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ten Things I've Done Others Might Not Have

As my day was pretty boring (did some editorial work, went to the Finnish dialects lecture and read some Erasmus of Rotterdam's The Praise of Folly and other texts for my thesis), I'll bore you out, too, with yet another meme. I got the idea from vierran45 who had taken the idea from someone else - well, you know how these things work.

I think it'd be cool to find out what other people may have done that I haven't and that's why I'll list here the ten things in my life I think not everyone has done. Most of them are such that I'm sure there are a lot of people who've done the same, but my life hasn't exactly been a treasure chest of completely unique experiences and adventures...

1. I've had lunch with Neil Gaiman.
Actually, it was Neil who ate and I was interviewing him at the same time (he'd agreed to this, so it's not like I interrupted his meal or anything). He was such a nice person to talk to and it was very gracious of him to answer my questions during his lunchbreak. I'm such a huge fan of his that this'll probably be an experience I'll remember forever. And I have the tapes of the interview as proof that this really happened!

2. I've had a Sandman original drawn for me by Bryan Talbot.
Well, this sort of relates to the previous one, doesn't it? Bryan Talbot was visiting in Turku in 2000 and I was there to interview him. And a long story made short, I asked him if he could draw me a picture of Sandman and he did. It's signed "for Johanna" and it hangs on my bedroom wall. My precious...

3. I've slept in the lobby of the local movie theatre.
This I can't claim is something others haven't done, since I had quite a few fellow sleepers there with me. We were waiting in line for the premier tickets of the Return of the King. We got there in the afternoon and stayed over night, since the tickets were sold in the morning. There were hundreds of people waiting and the lobby was a general area of group sleepiness during the night. What was funny about it though, was that at some point of the night (around 4 a.m. or so, if I remember right?) I and my friends ended up giving some advise to the manager of the theatre about the whole morning line up procedure... I just can't keep my hands off of anything I can organize..

4. I've been a high school football team mascot during a homecoming game.
I can't even remember how the thing actually came to be, but somehow (this was when I was an exchange student in the States) I ended up hopping about the football field in an eagle-suit... The head of that bird (it was called Jasper the Eagle, btw) was a huge thing and the body was a bright blue fake fur sort of material. So I was hot as heck inside and in addition actually got a minor claustrophobic attack while entertaining the crowd. The kids would come and bang on the head of the eagle, which felt totally uncomfortable inside - not to mention the fact that there was no way I could see where they were coming from. I didn't last till the half time show, I had to get out of the suit quickly after mingling with the audience. Phew. Ever since I've had a few doubts of ever wearing for example a motorcycle helmet... Go figure.

5. I've dined with a prince, a duke and a marquis in an old mansion.
Sounds really fancy, doesn't it? Maybe I ought not to explain anything about this and let you all believe I'm really popular among the royalty and live a life that's right out of a romance novel... :) Nah, this is the story. A few years back I was a conference assistant in a conference that dealt with the history of the knightly orders, such as the Order of Malta, the Templars, the Teutonic Knights and so on. Naturally there were quite a few knights attending and as it is, there still are some nobiliary requirements to some of these orders. For example for the Order of Malta. (Except that the lay members don't necessarily have to be noble (there are separate rules for this), and that's why the marquis of the above mentioned group once suggested that if I ever wanted to become a Dame of the Order, all I had to do was to become a Catholic and he'd speak on my behalf...Yeah.) However, the formal conference dinner took place in a very beautiful mansion and there were about 30 or so people there. It just happened that I was there too, with all the noble people I mentioned. Not as glamorous as I would like to think.

6. I've had a Finnish Olympic Team swimmer buy me drinks.
He just happens to be one of my brother's best friends and I've known him for more than 10 years now. When he graduated from high school (he actually didn't swim in the Olympic Team back then) I was partying along with him, a bunch of other top notch swimmers of the time (my brother included) and he bought me a few drinks during the evening. Had a darned good time, too.

7. I've had a full lecture hall cheer at what I was saying.
I was the chairperson of the Finncon X - Eurocon 2003 convention and I got to say the opening and closing words of the official con program. The closing ceremony was almost completely improvised on my part, but it went great and as I thanked everyone involved, the crowd went wild. It was quite a feeling to stand in front of hundreds of people and listen to them cheer and applaude. I could've burst out of pride at that moment. :)

8. As a kid I fed my toy Volvo toiletpaper and tucked the same toy car in for the night in a baby doll's bed.
Yup, I wasn't one of those little girls who played with dolls. I had plastic cars. And horses, which were fed oats I had picked up from a nearby field. At least that was a bit closer to the target than the toiletpaper.

9. I've whitewater rafted in the States (Snake River).
And so much fun it was! I'd love to do it again some day.

10. I've spent a Halloween in a funeral home, sleeping right next to the coffins.
One more curious thing that happened during my year in the States. There was a Halloween party for us exchange students and what would be a more appropriate place for such a party than a funeral home? We got to sleep in a room which was right next to the "show room" where they held the coffins. We were appropriately spooked by all of it, of course. But it was, by far, the best Halloween party I've ever attended. Which is sort of sad, really. :)

So there. Now it's your turn! :)

Monday, February 21, 2005

What to do when you have the munchies?

One thing you could do, is to invite about 20 people over for an evening of not counting calories. My friends Mari and Mikko did just that this past Saturday. They'd invited a bunch of people over to enjoy a raclette dinner, which eventually meant that there were 17 of us around three raclette grills. Yummy. But sort of greasy. My clothes smelled like I'd been working at a local hamburger place for a full day, ewgh. But a perfectly good way to cure munchies for a while.

A really short while, that is. I was all for chocolate and candy on Sunday evening after practice... I managed to fight off the urge to run to the neighboring movie rental place and buy 5 euros worth of candy. And I didn't buy any chocolate from the store today, either. Good for me. :)

Yesterday we went to Uusikaupunki with Satu to learn a choreography for the upcoming recital. The show's in April and we've both been really not-so-motivated about it for quite some while already. Luckily things began to look a bit better as Heli taught us a beautiful and simple "medieval-oriental-fantasy" choreography to a wonderful song called Radharc which is performed by a band named Dead Can Dance. (Gaah, I just realized the pun that one could read into the name of the band and us dancing to their music... We're most definitely not dead, though.) It's going to be the dance with which we, the three leading ladies, present ourselves to the Queen of the Fairies and to the audience, naturally.

I fell in love with the music as soon as heard the first beats. I can't wait to get the whole album, which I ordered because I knew Heli was going to use that music. I'm hoping the package'll arrive on Wednesday. I'll be listening to the cd on repeat and dancing every time I hear the music for the choreography. I can always count on wonderful medieval and Celtic style music to cheer me up. I'm glad Heli introduced the band to me, and it's good that the music is still available, although most of it has been recorded in the late 80's and early 90's.

So it goes, life. Ups and downs. But I probably shouldn't say I'm feeling pretty good at the moment, because as the recent events have proved, Mr Murphy sure likes to mess with my life. I'm sure I'll get a letter from the Board of Student Allowances (or whatever they might be called in English) tomorrow stating that I'm not eligible for any kinds of arrangements with the sum I'm supposed to pay, because, say, I'm too old or too dumb or not poor enough or something. That'd be just my luck.

But at least I'm not living within a pillar of Eternal Darkness like poor Jonathan Strange in Susanna Clarke's excellent novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I just finished reading it today. I loved it. It's the kind of almost minimalistic fantasy I like a lot. The events aren't happening in a blink of an eye, the characters get to grow along the story and the atmosphere is somehow very peculiarly muted. Right down to the color scheme of it all. It was murky, mysterious, fascinating, intriguing and completely enjoyable. I warmly recommend it to anyone, who likes legends, early 19th century settings and magic. But since not all of you have yet read the book (go read it, now!), I'll stop ranting about it so I won't accidentally slip out any spoilers.

A quick movie comment addition here at the end. The movie Swordfish is on tv tonight and I just began to watch it a few minutes ago. There was this character who was supposed to be a Finnish hacker Axel Torvalds. (Yes, they really did make the criminal character almost a namesake of Linus Torvalds, who is a Finn but not a crook.) They claimed he had a Finnish passport and even showed it on screen. With a friggin' eagle? Well excuse me for having a Finnish passport that hasn't even seen an eagle. The Finnish coat-of-arms has a lion on it, not an eagle. And then they claimed the character refused to speak nothing but Finnish while the Finnish consulate would provide a translator. The men were speaking German, for cryin' out loud! Americans, get your European countries and languages right, will you? I'll come and speak the lines in Finnish, if it's necessary to teach actors Finnish. Makes me mad, that kind of ignorance.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Why am I not surprised?

Just as I thought things are pretty well in my life, life decides to whack me in the face. Not with a feathery soft pillow either, but more like a sack of rocks...

AAARGGGHH! &#¤*rkl&%*##

Everything is my own fault, there's no arguing that, but I still feel like crap. I just almost broke into tears while speaking to an employee of the Social Insurance Institution... What fun.

It seems that I had too much income in 2003 and now I have to pay back some of my student allowance from way back in November 2003. There's nobody but myself to blame for not noticing it earlier but once again, it really doesn't make it any easier. On the contrary. On top of the fact that I really don't have that kind of money to pay them back with and being unbelievably angry at myself for being such a brainless idiot, I'm furious at the world for letting me be mildly happy for about 4 hours and once again pushing me back into a pothole. Gee, thanks.

Oh, and the fun doesn't stop here. I also may end up having to pay back some of my housing supplement, because my income from last year seems to have been about 160 euros more per month (average) than I had calculated. Which in fact means that I was broke for most of the year but for the month I worked in Nousiainen. I hope that they'll see that from all the papers I have to send them.

Did I mention I have no clue about a job for the summer yet? So my situation is basically no income, just debts. Fun, fun.

So much for a happy weekend. I'm going to spend most of it brooding in a dark corner somewhere. There is a get-together of friends tomorrow, maybe it'll cheer me up a bit...

Maybe I'll go and buy a lottery ticket. I think some kind of karmic law should make me win tomorrow, if I buy a ticket now.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Will work for food

I made a deal with dad yesterday. I had basically felt like a spineless, lazy worm (well, worms are spineless by definition, aren't they?) for a long time and I was pondering what to do about it.

I have managed to get up in the mornings reasonably early this week after I came up with the plan to have another alarm go off ten minutes after the first one. The trick being that the second alarm is my cell phone, which I place as far away from the bed as possible. That way I actually have to get up to shut the beeping menace... And when I get up, I won't go back to bed again. Funny, how easily I can trick myself. :)

The deal then? Well. Last night I was sitting in my livingroom, watching a tv-show about (fictional) unsolved murders. My thoughts were wandering during the commercial breaks and of course I ended up thinking about the discussion I had with dad last Sunday. It was a DISCUSSION with somewhat loud capital letters here and there, concerning my thesis and more particularly it not advancing a whole lot lately. I felt like dad really hit a sore spot with the speech. I had felt miserable about not being able to do anything for quite some while (despite all my promises and better sense) and when dad pointed it out once more, I felt pretty awful and depressed. What could I do to motivate myself?

That was when I thought of it. I have to make a deal with dad. I have to come up with an artificial deadline I have to keep. So I sent a message to dad to suggest that I'd deliver a first draft of the background chapter a week from this Sunday. Then I'd like him to read it through and give me feedback on it. I immediately got a message back saying "It's a deal. A bag of groceries and some feedback for every piece of text delivered." I could've cried (and I think I even did cry a bit - I'm such a soddin' cry-baby at times...) I was so glad of his extra support. I've always known my parents support me in everything I do, but I guess I was just a bit emotional about the extra "carrot" part of the deal. So now I'm literally working for food. :) I'll keep you all informed how I'm doing... I wrote about half a page today, whee! Not much, but it's a real re-start.

Today I told my dance students in Lieto that this is the last spring I'll be teaching them. They looked appropriately disappointed and were asking in miserable voices "But who's going to teach us then?". I steeled my heart and said I would try to find someone to teach them after me, but at least I would recommend good teachers in Turku. So, after seven more weeks (next week is the winter vacation) I'll be done with that. Can't wait, even though for example today's classes went great and I really think the students were learning - which isn't always the case, unfortunately.

It's so nice to see the ladies dance one of my own choreographies, though. I'm not a very experienced choreographer and I think I tend to make the dances a bit too demanding at times. But this time I feel like I've gotten closer to the actual level of the students' skills (yay!).

It doesn't seize to amaze me that someone actually learns something from my babbles, as I'm sure I'm not the most well-articulated dance teacher there is. It's really funny how left and right can be such difficult terms (I usually end up waving my arm and shouting "that direction! one-two-three-four...") and how counting to the inevitable four or maybe even six or eight can sometimes be a mission honestly impossible. "Left, no right, two-three-what-the-?-where-am-I-going-which-foot-next-what's-the-count-oh-dear-lord" is not an uncommon sort of a line for me. I really feel for the students. And yet they seem to learn, step by step, drop-kick by drop-kick. Isn't that something? :)

Still, I'm going to quit teaching. I need the time for myself and my other projects. Which there are plenty of, no doubt.

Oh, if you're in the Turku area and can get a hold of Turun Sanomat on Monday, look for the tiny article I'm in. I, Tytti and two other fellow sf-fans were interviewed for an article about (get this) the office space we rent from the Turku University Students Association. "So how does this office represent your activities?" Well, lessee. There are huge loads of sf-literature (SF Society's library), quite a bunch of anime movies (the video library of the Turku Anime Society) and whatnot. I suppose we read and watch movies? :) No, honestly, the chap interviewing us was nice enough. I've met a whole lot of journalistic morons and this one wasn't one of them, phew. I just can't help being a wee bit worried when I'm interviewed for anything - how garbled will the message be this time? Especially when we don't get to proof-read the text beforehand. We'll see on Monday. :)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

I wish each and every one of my friends a very happy Valentine's Day! Without you my life would be dull and boring and not worth much. Thank you for all the joys, sorrows, secrets, giggles, roaring laughters, tears, adventures, thoughts, ideas, moments and whatnot that you've shared with me. Couldn't survive without you. :)

I won't post a lovey-dovey picture here. Instead you can imagine it. This'll be sort of a comic strip, actually. First scene: A picture with, say, a dozen or so cute penguins (wearing funny woolly hats) sliding down an iceberg on one of those huge rubbery raft thingies and having a lot of fun, whooping and cheering and laughing. Second scene: At least three penguins have fallen off the raft (because it's packed full of penguins) and they're laughing their little penguin bums off in the snow when they watch the rest of the gang swooshing down the slide. Third scene: All the penguins in the raft go topsy-turvy-upside-down, some in the water and some in the snow, some are still in the air flipflopping around There are little woolly hats everywhere, even an occasional scarf too. Fourth and final scene: The penguins are all tugging the raft back up the side of the iceberg, still having loads of fun. Caption: Everything is more fun with friends!

There. That's your Valentine's card from me this year. Anyone who wants to draw it, feel free. I'd like to see the result. :)

Hmm. That was a welcome break for my brain today. I've sat here by the computer more than 8 hours analyzing the dialect of Masku. My brain just hurts now. I have the presentation tomorrow and then I can just sit and relax for the rest of the course, phew. If I never have to think about disappearing vowels again, I won't much regret it. Yes, the vowels do disappear around these areas in Finland. Mysterious little critters, them vowels, you see?

Yup, I think I've about had it now with this sitting in front of the screen -business for one day. Time to go watch some tv... *grin*

Friday, February 11, 2005

Doable guys meme

I got this meme from vierran45 and I just had to post it here, too. What else is there to do for a single girl on a Friday afternoon than think about doable yummy men? ;)

The rules are simple: Pick five people who you would conceivably do right now. No invented people, no dead people, no 'were attractive in their prime but not now' people. If they're on your list and you meet them tomorrow, you can do whatever dirty deeds you want with them and whoever you're with isn't allowed to get mad.

Of course, if you're not with anyone at the time, then limiting yourself to five people is just silly.
Who would you put on your list? Post your list with pictures, because we could all do with more of The Hot in our lives.

Those were the rules and here's my list. (I'm, once again, having a few problems with the pictures, so please excuse me for having some only as links.)

1. Ioan Gruffudd

A gorgeous Welsh actor whose Lancelot makes my knees weak.

2. Orlando Bloom

Oy, to be that ring...

3. Viggo Mortensen

The scruffier the better, especially as Aragorn.

4. David Boreanaz

Dark and delicious...

5. Karl Urban

A very cute kiwi!

Gosh, that was somewhat difficult. The first three, no problems, but the two remaining... who to pick, where to find nice pictures... Although the rules said I could've listed more yummies as I'm single, I think these five will do just fine for now. (Btw, do you see a pattern to my taste? I seem to have picked only dark men with strong facial features. Must be what I like, heh.)

Well, go on ladies, feel free to comment and share the meme! ;)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ringtone madness

I got a new phone yesterday. Actually, it's not exactly new, but used. Dad had bought a new one for himself and asked if I'd like to have his old one. It's a bit smaller and better than my old one (not that I was in any way unhappy with my old phone), so I thought I'd give it a try. But...

How many grey hairs can one grow in one evening? A lot, if you ask me. I'm the kind of person who really doesn't bother playing around with my phone. I couldn't survive without it, but I don't have to have the latest model with all the latest gadgets and extra stuff nor do I have to have the latest hits as my ringtones. I've been happy with my ringtone for about 4 years now and I think I've only ever had two logos.

I grow attached to things. :) I was feeling quite upset when I realized I wouldn't be able to move the old ringtone from my old phone to the new one. This was quite obviously the case also with my old logo dragon. Aagh, says I. How am I supposed to recognise it's my phone ringing if I don't have my special ringtone? Boohoo.

So I start surfing. I search and search. Site after site. I can't find a decent dragon logo or the Hobbit theme ringtone I've had for years. There are now at least twenty more grey hairs in my head.

I find a ringtone that I could consider if I can't find the one I really, really want. I click on the "play" button hoping I would be able to listen to a sample of the tone. My computer says "pof" and won't do a thing and I have to perform some quick pc-cpr. There are now fifteen more grey hairs in my head.

I find an ornamental logo I could get used to. I decide to order it. Click-click-clickety-click on my phone, and there goes an SMS to the provider of the service. But nothing. After about half an hour I get a message informing me that there is a "tempporary poblem" (tiläpäinen häirö) in the service. Gaah! At least a dozen more grey hairs. And probably almost 2 euros worth of payments due to this company even though they couldn't provide me with the service they promised. I curse the system and count three more grey hairs in my head.

Did you, btw, realize that the Nokia standard incoming sms-message beep (the long one) is actually morse code for S-M-S (bep-bep-bep-beeep-beeep-bep-bep-bep)? I didn't before last night. I feel dumb and feel a grey hair growing.

I decide to shut down the computer and go watch tv. With dad's old golf logo still on the screen of the phone and with a standard ringtone ready to inform me of any attempts to disturb me in the middle of the night... I refuse to count the grey hairs when I stand in front of the mirror brushing my teeth. I'm well on my way to really become Gandalf...

A night well slept has miraculously destroyed some of the grey hairs and I feel less like an ancient minor deity from a fantasy world and more like myself again. A new try, it is, then.

YAY! The second site I browse has a nice wyvern-logo I decide to embellish my phone with. Everything works just fine when I order it. More grey hairs disappear.

WHEE! The same site has the ringtone I've been looking for! I immediately order that too. Where was this site last night, I wonder? I finally feel like I can adopt this new phone and welcome anyone to call me. At least I'll recognise the ringtone. :) And I'm finally left with the three grey hairs I had to begin with, so all is well again.

I won't make any promises about not accidentally hanging up on you if you call, though. I may still push the wrong button if I'm not careful...

On a different note, I just heard from the news that there is supposed to be a protest by snowmen (built by a group of environmentalists of some sort, I forgot the name already) today in some of the bigger cities of Finland. The snowmen are protesting against the changes in the climate. I think the protest will be a somewhat quiet one here in Turku, as we have no more snow on the ground, because the temperature has been above zero for almost a week now... Poor snowmen. A funny winter, this one.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Cuisine cruisin'

What a relaxing weekend I had. Didn't think about anything stressful or worrying, instead had a very good dinner (or two, to be exact) and got to dance the Saturday night away. Fun, fun.

What makes a cruise to Stockholm so relaxing? The fact that we aren't teenagers anymore! Back in the days of high school the cruises were nothing more than a drunken feast to quite a lot of kids. You had to start drinking as soon as the ship was on the move (or even before), and the more drunk you were, the merrier the cruise. Or something. I never really understood the excessive drinking part of it, but I had a few friends who grasped the general idea well enough.

It's true that there isn't a lot to do on a Viking Line ship, since there are only two shops (the boutique and the tax free) and two corridors you can walk back and forth if you don't want to sit in the bar and listen to a) lousy karaoke singers, b) mediocre guitar-playing troubadours or c) an even more mediocre "house band". Not what we wanted at all. We tried to sit by the windows near a bar only to be driven away by a disgusting drunkard who (so Satu told me, I couldn't see because I wasn't facing that direction) almost fell on top of me and basically threw Satu away from her bench muttering something like "give way" in Swedish. "Aaarrg you taalkin' Finniishh?" he garbled and we fled.

We ended up taking care of our shopping quite early on in the day and what fun that turned out to be. Satu found something to buy from the boutique, I didn't. Then we went to the tax free, where we encountered a young fellow who was working as a cruise host. We were minding our own business, pondering about a special offer on a quite good wine label from Chile. Both Satu and I had had the pleasure of tasting that particular wine before and were discussing whether we'd like to buy that wine or something new and different when this young whelp came around. He crabbed one of the bottles and began tossing it about in his hands. Ok, a nice trick with a full wine bottle, but not that impressive, if I'm honest. What did make an impact was the sales pitch he had. "This is a wine that is youth friendly (nuorisoystävällinen was the term he used in Finnish). You can drink it even if you don't know much about wines or aren't a very experienced wine drinker."

Excuse me? I must've frowned a bit, because I couldn't for the life of me decide whether he'd thought that we were some middle aged ladies who he'd been told to flatter in order to increase sales or a couple of girlies in their early twenties who probably haven't tasted that many wines at all and would find a "youth friendly" wine somehow attractive. Either way, we were a bit baffled. We laughed and said to the boy (he must've been younger than either of us) that we had both tasted the particular wine and weren't exactly completely ignorant about wines. He just went on: "Not all of us can know much about wines. Chile is a particularly fine wine country because blah blah blah." We smiled at him, nodded a few times and thanked him politely for his insight. Then we left the offered wines undisturbed. I ended up buying a bottle of white wine from New Zealand (I've been meaning to try a kiwi wine for a long time now but my local Alko doesn't have any in its selection) and a red wine from Chile. A wine I hadn't tasted before and that was a bit more expensive than the one the young man had recommended. When we had bought the mandatory candies and some beer (oh no, you're not supposed to drink the beer you buy from the tax free while aboard the ship, but who cares?) we retired to our cabin. The incident with the cruise host proved to be of much entertainment for quite some time. :)

One of the best parts of taking a day cruise (the boat left Turku at 8.45 a.m.) was definitely the long nap we took in the afternoon. When we were teenagers it would've been a waste of precious time drinking or just hanging around in the bar, but now - what a relief to kick off your shoes and just rest for a while.

Later in the evening we had dinner reservations at the a la carte -restaurant and were planning on a full length dinner with aperitifs and everything. And it was perfect. Food was delicious, wine was good and dessert was yummy. We sat and enjoyed ourselves for more than 2 hours at the restaurant. Oh, the delights of adult life. I cannot be persuaded to go to the food buffet anymore, when at about the same price I can enjoy a much better dinner in calm and pleasant surroundings.

After dinner we were a bit giddy. Not from too much drinking, mind you. We were just feeling so good, I suppose. We were resting in the cabin, singing children's songs (Satu has a phenomenal memory when it comes to old children's songs) and talking about silly things and making lame jokes. (Hönteimmästä päästä oli minun pohdintani siitä, olisiko pyöräilevä yksisilmäinen jättiläinen nimeltään syklooppi... Ehhehe. Tässä vaiheessa se teini-ikä tuli aika liki...)

The rest of the evening (we did manage to get out and about after a good while of silliness) we spent in the night club dancing. There was a guy (by the looks of him he was Swedish - not a bit drunk at about midnight ...) who danced remarkably well. It was fun to watch him. I think we made some kind of an impression on him, too, because he and one of his friends came to talk to us at one point of the evening. Luckily none of that icky pick-up talk, but a query of where we were from. It was a short discussion, but I was glad I was able to comment on his moves, I think he deserved some praise for being such a piece of eye candy. His friend had asked Satu whether we'd like to go out on the deck with them to dance, but if that was meant to be a pick-up, he wasn't thinking very clearly. It was friggin' freezing outside, not to mention the wind conditions, which made the ship roll back and forth. Need I mention we kindly refused the invite? For the rest of the evening the guys kept on dancing as did we, but not on the deck and not together either. Actually Satu and I did leave reasonably "early" to go to bed.

A fun cruise, all in all. I got to experience, once again, what it could feel like to be seen in the company of a celebrity. Both Satu and I turn some heads when we go about (I have to give myself that much credit), but to be honest, Satu turns heads a lot more than I do. It's actually quite funny to follow men and how they gawk at her. Some check to see if she's wearing high heels (she's a tall girl, a few centimetres taller than I am) and some can't help but comment on her to their mates as she walks by. She's somewhat used to it, the pretty thing she is, but of course it can be a bit tedious when every single drunkard in the place imagines they can win her over by pawing her on the dance floor or something. The guys do find out pretty soon that she takes none of that. Nor would I, even though I'm single. There's a difference between being single and being pathetically desperate. We did see one Finnish blondie falling for a darker Swedish guy. She was wasted and he was happily making the most of it, groping and, well, practically eating the girl alive on the dance floor. One more good reason to stay almost sober in bar surroundings - the icy attitude towards icky loosers works better when one's wits are sharp... :)

On Sunday, after I got home, I slept a few more hours, watched Farscape (darn it for making me cry once again...) and drove to mom&dad's for dinner (yummy reindeer) and some quality family time. A perfectly relaxed end to a fun weekend. I feel like I got extra energy out of this little break in the routines and now I'm off to do a bunch of tasks I listed on my "to do" -list for the day. I hope I'll be able to get everything done. :)

Friday, February 04, 2005

She's adorable

Finally, a picture problem solved. I hope. (A million thanks, Tero!)

This has nothing to do with anything, but it's something I want to post for fun. Meet a cutie I adopted quite some time ago. She's adopted from Miss Cam's OFUM which is a hilarious series of Lord of the Rings fanfic I totally enjoyed reading some time ago. Thanks for Miss Cam for the adoptive rights. This little darling (as her siblings as well) was born when someone somewhere misspelled a LotR-name. As you can probably guess (if you know your Tolkien), the name misspelled was naturally Yavanna, which I sometimes use as a nick. Oh yes, I like to think I'm some sort of a deity... Me, what ego? :)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

That's what I'm here for

Lately I've been trying to help a dear friend of mine who's going through some tough times. I've tried to explain my views, listen to hers, suggest possible solutions and options to no end. I don't mind, for the most part, because that's what I do - I try to help. But the bad thing about it is that I sometimes get too involved and can't help worrying about things that I shouldn't.

This time, however, I've noticed that I still remember some of my life's lessons from my times in high school. I had a friend who had very serious issues to deal with back then. A very low self esteem, to begin with. She ended up sounding suicidal on the phone a few times and I was borderline hysterical trying desperately to help and to get her to understand that she was (and still is) a wonderful person. That was when my mom intervened and told me I couldn't carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Let alone the problems of my friend, who was in fact in need of professional help. That was the point in my life, when I finally realised that I don't have the resources or the education to solve every problem my friends may have. I do want to help (that's just natural to me), but I won't let myself sink too deep into anyone else's problems. I have plenty of my own. :)

But to all my friends out there, I'm always glad to help in any way I can and I'll listen to you more than willingly - that's what I'm here for. At least if I get to whine about my problems in return, every now and then. That's how friendships work.

What else? Humm. I've had this unbelievable two weeks of such total slacking that I'm beginning to feel ashamed of myself. I've been able to get some little things done, like emailing some people about their articles for the first ever Spin-fanzine I'm editing and filing away some teaching materials, but nothing of real importance or use to such goals in life as maybe graduating some day... Not until yesterday, that is. I managed to begin reading a book I've had for about a year now and I'm determined to finish it up by next Tuesday, so I could maybe return it to the library... I can't believe how difficult a time I'm having trying to get something done.

Tomorrow I actually may end up spending a few hours in the archives of the Finnish department, because I have a seminar lecture to plan. It's nothing big, it's just a 45-minute practice lesson for the course on Finnish dialects I'm taking, but I'm thinking it'd be better to get that out of my way as soon as possible. That's why I booked the first possible slot for my "guest lecture". Then, for the rest of the spring, I can just watch others stress about their lessons and concentrate on my thesis instead. I think my position is somewhat advantageous to most of the students taking that course, though. I'm at ease in front of a class (whether they be 7th graders, 12th graders or adults) and I can run my plans through mom, who can check them for factual mistakes. :) So I'm not in the least worried about that piece of seminar work. What a relief.

What worries me is the thesis. I just checked and I have five more weeks to go before I should turn in the sample chapter. I haven't even begun yet! Not properly, that is. I can't believe I can't get myself motivated enough to just sit down and do it. I've got the motivation to work, to move to the UK for some post-graduate studies (Note to self: post-graduate means one has to graduate first!) or to do whatever, but gaah. I think I'm lacking in thesis-writing-vitamins at the moment. :) Oh well, I'll try to find a dose for tomorrow.

Have to mention this. Only one more day to go and we'll be cruising the day (and night) away with Satu! Whee! She even promised me a drink if I guessed right the character she was in the LotR character test. Poor Satu, she didn't realise how good I am at figuring out those tests. And how well I know her. She turned out to be Samwise, just as I thought and now I'm entertaining myself with the thought of something really yummy from the bar on Saturday evening. :)

I'm so glad today's dance classes are over, phew. I'm so counting weeks to April 13th when I finally am done with the teaching part of my hobby. At least for now. But until then it feels like it's Wednesday or Thursday all the time and I have nothing else to do than try to come up with something to teach. Blah.

I was going to post a picture of sorts here at the end, but I'm having a bit of a problem with the whole picture thing. It seems the program Hello (which you're supposed to use to post pictures in your blog) is only IE-compatible. I'm not using my aaaancient version of IE (and not updating it either), but happily surfing away with Firefox and therefore I can't post any goddam pictures! And no, I don't have a website I could get the pictures online in the first place, so now I'm stuck and waiting for help from Tero. So this is why you'll need to sit and wait for the picture. I'm not going to tell what it'll be, though. Oo, really mysterious and stuff... Haha. (I'll bet you'll be disappointed in the end.) ;)