Tuesday, May 31, 2005


The person who was going to come and buy my car sent me a message saying he'd bought a camera instead... So no new shoes for me, because most people will rather use their 250 euros to buy a new cell phone or a camera instead of an old Skoda. What kind of priorities are those, I ask you? Bah, bah.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Oh dear me. Looks like I'm going to have to part with my dear car tomorrow. I got a message from a potential buyer asking me if the car could be picked up tomorrow evening. And that was about it, the person didn't even ask me too much about the condition of the car or anything. Just if he (or she, I don't actually know since the phone number was registered to a firm's name) could pick it up tomorrow. Yikes.

Fine by me, I thought. If he ends up buying it, I'm going to ask him to pay me right away in cash and that way I can actually go and buy a new pair of shoes for my cousin's graduation party, which is on Saturday. I'm just going to have to try and not cry when he drives away in, well, his car... I knew my sentimental feelings about the darned thing would make me hate to sell it, even if I know it's the sensible thing to do. *sigh*

Lots of other stuff going on, too. I had a nice and hectic weekend, which included providing a bed and breakfast service to my cousin, who was in town to take the entrance exam for the medical schooling. She said she didn't intend to get in this year, she just wanted to see the exam, so she could study better for next year. We had a good time (in fact, she was with me at the movies on Friday and felt equally amazed by RotS as I did).

On Saturday evening it was time for TSFS's spring party, this time with a theme of Fantastic Inn. There was a reasonably nice crowd (there could've been more, as the rent of the medieval cellar we had set our Inn in, is somewhat larger than our budget normally tolerates) and lots of nice and interesting discussions were had. About Star Wars, about Kingdom of Heaven, about the Fantasy Feast weekend for next year and about amusement parks, among other things.

Amusement parks were a current topic for me, because yesterday I got to go to Särkänniemi (an amusement park in Tampere) with Maarit and her coworkers & their families. All expenses (the bus ride and the entry to the park) paid. A nice day, even though it was cold as heck and I didn't go to more than two rides. I'm ridiculously afraid of all the movers and shakers that twist you around and hurl you upside down or whatever. I barely made it through the ordinary rollercoaster ride without screaming too much. I think I only yelped once and not too loudly, either. :) I just don't enjoy the idea of being thus tortured, I have good enough time if I watch others get strapped into the most different kinds of hurricane/tornado/twister/whathaveyou machines and listen to them scream their lugns out. I don't need to do that to feel alive or anything. Maarit, on the other hand, was happy enough to try out the scariest rides, like the one that was called Trombi, which was basically a rollercoaster ride with multiple loops and twists, with everyone strapped into a seat that lets your feet hanging in the air. It scared the bejeezes out of me just watching...

However, I was more than happy about being invited to go with Maarit, because I got to see the dolphins and that was the best part by far anyway. I hadn't seen the dolphins perform in probably something like 15 years. The oldest dolphin is my age! They were just beautiful. I'd love to see free dolphins some day, preferably somewhere tropical, where I could go swimming with the cute creatures. I did envy the little boy, who got to go pet the dolphins by the poolside, just a little bit. I was never chosen as a volunteer to do that when I was a kid - I'm ever bitter about that...

Today was the first day of work for me. Or actually, the first evening of training for the job. The people seemed nice enough and I think I can actually manage selling mags for two months. We were told that we'd be making our first customer calls on Wednesday. Yikes, indeed. The guys who are basically our bosses sounded like they could sell you white sand in the Sahara. I don't know if I'd ever be that good, but at least the firm has some good motivational tools. There are bikes, phones and digicameras etc. to be won in the company competitions. I think I could use a digicamera! I just have to get as many Donald Duck -magazines sold as possible. :)

Well, I'm off to read my wonderful new book. It finally came in the mail today. "Kingdom of Heaven": The Ridley Scott Film and the History Behind the Story, yay! Maybe I'll also read a chapter or two of the next Horatio Hornblower novel I began reading yesterday on the bus. I have some maritime terms to re-learn, that much I noticed already. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Stuff nightmares are made of

One word for you. Lava.

The ultimate scare for me. I dread even the thought of molten rock, just like I dread any thought of anything extremely hot and dangerous. Say, fire. I enjoy sitting by a campfire or a candle-lit room, but "wild" fire and burning hot metal or anything like that - not my part of the woods.

Luckily, no nightmares last night. Even though I saw plenty of ultra-scary lava flowing around and even burning a person up. *shivers*

Oh yes, I saw Star Wars Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith yesterday. OMG. I don't even know where to start unraveling the experience.

I think George Lucas really did what he was expected to - he tied the new movies and the original trilogy quite nicely together and delivered some seriously dark stuff into the saga.

How my heart broke for Anakin and his fall to the dark side. I felt so sorry for him, because he was so cleverly lured into a situation where he saw as his only chance to bow down to the Emperor. Ah, the angst, the angst!

I think I need to see this one again, to sort out my thoughts. (Although I wouldn't necessarily want to see all that lava again on a big screen...) But here are some odds and ends, random thoughts, if you like. Some spoilers ahead, be warned.

I did think Yoda kicked some serious butt in this one, but then again, he's always been a favorite of mine, along with young Obi-Wan. I did love the final scene where Luke is given to his aunt and uncle and they watch the twin suns - one of my favorite scenes from the original trilogy is the one, where Luke watches the same suns. Such a nice reference there. I didn't think the love between Anakin and Padmé was very convincingly portrayed, but on the other hand I think Anakin's struggle and fall was more convincing than I had hoped for.

I did like that Yoda explained with just one sentence how Qui-Gon had learned something very nifty... I could've cried my eyes out (I barely managed not to, btw) when it became apparent what Anakin would do to the younglings hiding in the jedi council room. I liked the fact that in the beginning of the movie, there were a few spots of lighter humour (I've always liked R2-D2, and I thought the adventures he had, were pretty funny) before all started to go seriously wrong.

It was nice to see Alderaan. And the other new planets. The sceneries were simply breath-taking. Wow.

My legs were a bit shaky when I got out of the theatre yesterday. Today I wore an old t-shirt to gym, with "The Force is strong with this one" printed on the back of the shirt, just to celebrate the event of seeing real Star Wars again. An absolute favorite of the new movies, most definitely.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm done

Ahhh. One round of history prep course teaching finished. Yay!

I got excellent feedback from my students and I think it's going to be enough to get me the highest possible salary! Whee! Not that it'll solve all my money problems, but it's a start. :) And it really feels good that the kids thought I was a good and motivating teacher.

Now I've got some finishing touch-ups to do, mail the feedback forms and the books back to the office, fill in some other forms and so on. All in all a very interesting experience. Very stressfull, but fun nevertheless. I'm hoping next year at least one or two of the books are the same, so I'd have my materials all ready and done. But knowing the people and the ways of the history department, they'll probably choose all new books for next year and nothing I've done for this course will help me at all come the next batch of prep course students. Oh well, at least I'll have more time to prepare next time, since the books will be announced quite early on in the year and I can begin reading them well in advance.

But for now, no teaching for a while sounds like a relaxing scenario. :) Although I'm going to Nousiainen today to talk with the principals of the two schools I'm hopefully going to be teaching at next fall. It'll be interesting to see how my career begins. Apparently I may end up with a special course in legal stuff for 9th graders, so I've heard. That'd be interesting and challenging, because it's something I've never taught before for real. I'm not exactly sure what is involved in that course, but I'm thinking consumer awareness, family related issues, some basics of the criminal justice system and so on. Could be very interesting, indeed.

But I think I need to be getting on my way. I need to go and try to wake up my car - I haven't had time to drive it anywhere in three weeks or so, and I'm a bit worried how our cooperation will go. Nobody has wanted to buy it yet, sigh.

Edit: Almost didn't get the car running. Eventually (after about 10 minutes of struggling) my precious worked just fine. Found out in Nousiainen that in addition to the four Finnish courses I'm going to be teaching (including the extra fun course on communication) to high school students, I'm going to get four junior high history courses, too! Yay! I'm so excited! :)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Did you remember to bring your drums?

I watched the annual Eurovision Song Contest last night with my friend (and dance teacher) Heli, who was staying over at my place over the weekend. We thought we wouldn't watch the whole program, since with the voting results the show went on till 1.20 a.m. and we didn't think we'd be interested enough to stay awake.

Funny things happen, it turned out. We did stay up till the winner was announced, but not because we would've been very enthusiastic about any particular song (in other words, none of the songs was as catchy as last years Wild Dance by Ruslana) but mainly because we were so baffled.

What the hell was that show all about? About ladies singing ethnic / oriental songs in skimpy dresses, background dance groups and (ethnic) drum sections of variable sizes. I think half of the performers had some kind of ethnic drum set with them on stage. The exceptions to the rule seemed to be so few, that we couldn't help but wonder whether some of the performers felt embarrassed at all. *a song contestant to a staff member backstage pointing to a pile of darbukas, tablas, bodhrans and whathaveyou* "Erm, umm, you see, umm, we have those, eh, drums back there and we, you know, need them there, on stage. But our drums are, erm, different from the previous four sets of drums, and that's why we need our own. We're original, you see. Not copying anyone. Uh. Could you just help us?"

You know, we didn't really have that much to complain about, really. We're both, Heli and I, oriental dancers who liked the ethnic and oriental influences, but didn't you think there were just a few too many Ruslana/Shakira-wannabes last night? And how were you supposed to tell them apart from each other? Why did Greece win when Great Britain got a miserably low score, even if the song seemed to be made of exactly the same elements?

Ah, well. It was delightful to see, though, that the Maltese lady (she had a marvellous voice) did so well, since she didn't have ethnic drums or dancing girlies with her on stage. And talking about a different kind of performance - that Norwegian glamrock group was just beyond words. I'm not the least bit surprised that the lame and unremarkable song Finland had as a candidate this year didn't make it into the final. The Finns need to take a step toward a more bold direction. I do wonder what would've happened a few years back if Nightwish had indeed been chosen to represent Finland...

I still think Ruslana's Wild Dance rocks so hard, this year's winner hasn't got any of the primal fury and energy that makes it impossible for me to stay still. Too bad.

One set of essays down, two more to go. I may be able to do this before Tuesday evening after all... *knock on wood*

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven revisited

It was even better the second time around. :) A second time watching a grand scale movie like this on the big screen is always fun because of the details you didn't notice on the first time around. Personally, I just loved to sink into the atmosphere of the movie, drink in the beauty of the scenery, the tragedy of the story and well, krhm, enjoy the eye candy that is so nicely offered by Orlando. ;)

Here's my list of 15 favorite moments / things from the movie. I took the idea from dangermousie (who actually listed 20 favorites, I'm settling for a bit less), I couldn't comment on her post before I had seen the movie twice myself. So here goes, in no particular order.

1. the character of Salah ad-Din
The intensity of his eyes is mezmerizing. And his figure, when he walks into Jerusalem is just powerful, in a quiet and wise sort of way.

2. the last wave of hand the Hospitaller gives to Balian before riding into the battle of Hattin
I had tears in my eyes. It's the last time Balian sees the wise Hospitaller alive. I became quite attached to his character. Not only because I'm partial to Hospitallers anyway, but because he's just an admirable Knight, who's got a sensible view of his faith and the situation in Jerusalem.

3. the Hospitaller crossing the stream hiding behind the galloping horse in the battle in the French woods
Well, as I just said, I liked the character and this is one of the moments when he shows he's not only a quiet, philosophical medicine man, but also a skilled warrior. And how he pats Balian with his sword when riding by and then turns and bows ever so slightly. Ah, perfect.

4. the very first cut to Balian's face when he has returned to France
A look to die for. So full of emotion.

5. when Ibelin's men recognise Balian as their new baron and they bow in front of him
I'm such a sucker for such little gestures of chivalry. "Come this way, my lord." Ah, ah, ah.

6. Balian's men riding into battle in Kerak
First they ride side by side, then they form two lines, which then divide into two fronts that are overwhelmed by the moslem cavalry. The aerial view over the battle is breathtaking.

7. the surrender of Jerusalem
The whole scene from the white flag to the moment when Balian asks what Jerusalem is worth and Salah ad-Din replies: "Nothing. - - Everything." Which by the way is one of my favorite Salah ad-Din moments, too.

8. the Templars and their warcry "God wills it!"
Deus lo vult - hasn't been heard in centuries and made shivers go down my spine. Especially when at one point one of the moslem warriors utters the exact same thing. Isn't it madness?

9. the Hospitallers and their hospital
Just because. :)

10. Balian's determined and (ahem) manly gait at any point when he wears Ibelin's / Jerusalem's colors
A completely fangirlish fave. I think all men should have coat of arms and a cloak every once and a while - it seems to do miracles to the manner they walk around. :)

11. Baldwin IV: "I am Jerusalem."
Very powerful.

12. Sibylla's coronation gown
Wow. Her clothes and jewellery were amazing at any time - what I did ponder was how the big hoods of her cloaks stayed on when she was galloping around on that beautiful horse of hers...

13. Balian riding to catch up with his father in France
The scene is very beautifully filmed. The desperate gallop over the fields, the road in the forest, the light snow fall... One of the most esthetically pleasing moments in the movie.

14. Godfrey asking for forgiveness from Balian
You can see he's not really comfortable doing it, but nevertheless, he's determined to say what he came to say.

15. Balian kneeling down to be knighted by his dying father
You didn't think I was going to get through my favorite moments without mentioning at least one kneeling, now did you? :) This is, without a doubt, one of the teariest moments of the movie for me. Chivalry and nobility just ooze from it.

So there's my fifteen. I sure could've listed at least those five additional fave moments (like the one where a single moslem rider appears in the dark before the battle in Jerusalem and his sword shines in the night) , but I'm thinking this post is about as long as it should be. (These are the situations in which I actually would like to have the cut-feature that lj has...)

Now I'm left eagerly waiting for the director's cut to come out on dvd! Let it be soon!

Unfortunately, what will come sooner, are the essays that my students are writing at the moment in the rehearsal exam. That'll be the rest of my weekend. Grading, grading.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I'm done! Or at least almost done! :) Today was the last actual lesson for the Eximia students and now I'm left with a pile of essays to grade and Tuesday's review to plan. But compared to everything I've already done, it's not too bad.

I'm actually going to have a 5-day "vacation" next week after I'm completely done with the history course and before I begin at the new place. Ah. I'm going to un-clutter my desk, which at the moment looks like a huge mountain of miscellaneous papers, books, cd's and stuff ready to fall all over me when I least expect them to. I'm going to clear space for my research materials so I can continue working on the big T. :)

Then I'm going to finish editing the second Spin of the year, answer loads of emails that I haven't had the time to concentrate on (more short story submissions and even a request for my fandom information for some international sf-fanlisting - how odd is that?) and maybe even go to the movies to see Episode III.

I can't even read some people's blogs/lj's at the moment, because I don't want to be too spoiled when I get there. Sure I know already that I'm going to have terrible nightmares about volcanoes after seeing the movie, but I'm not willingly going to find out more, not quite yet. After skimming through a few reviews and hearing a few opinions, I'm getting more excited all the time.

What else am I going to do with all the free time on my hands? Humm. I'm getting a haircut, because mom was kind enough to be my sponsor for the event. I'm going to hope that the weather forecast was spot on, because it said next week might see temperatures rising up to 25 degrees! Yay! Summer!! I might go out to the park to read my research books in the sun. That'd be nice.

I think that about covers all the free time I'm going to have... :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

No life without wife

Today I bumped into an absolutely delightful piece of movie entertainment. I had had good hopes for Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice, but I was very happily surprised when the movie was even better than I had hoped for.

When I first heard of a Bollywood version being made of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice, I immediately decided I had to see it. Preferably with Satu, who I share a common Austen past from our days in high school and a common taste in good music that makes us both want to dance. And what a good decision it was! We both left the movie theatre with wide smiles on our faces, humming the tunes and enthusing about the lovely saris and jewellery.

The movie was delightfully well adapted from the original text and worked well in Indian surroundings. But after teaching about the Western colonialistic view over the Orient (which ever Orient...) only a week ago on my history course, I couldn't help noticing how cleverly the director used those themes in the movie. There's Mr Darcy, who's a wealthy American who comes to India and doesn't give the Indian culture the chance to show what it can offer to a Westerner. Lalita Bakshi (Elizabeth Bennet Bollywood-style) even comments on it, and quite sharply too, when she says she thought India had already gotten rid of imperialists... A point well made.

The funniest and in many ways the most absurd situation of the movie was when the roles of different (movie) cultures were turned upside down. Will Darcy and Lalita are walking down a beach in the States when the traditional Bollywood trick of bursting into song and dance happens. What a scene! Suddenly the Californian surfers and the life guards from their "Baywatch" tower run forward to join the song. To top it all, the couple wanders ahead and suddenly there's a huge church choir of black singers (you know, with the robes and all) singing "Take them to love". Talking about stereotypes and making fun of them!

I couldn't stop laughing. Partly because I recognised how my brain worked: I immediately thought how absurd the scene was when it was set in Los Angeles (and how totally terrifying it would be if it really happened - I'd run screaming if I saw a blue-robed choir approaching me on a beach) and partly because it was just plain hilarious.

After I got home, I did a bit of googling and ended up downloading some of the songs for myself. Balle Balle and the other songs (like No Life Without Wife, which was spot on defining the requirements for a good husband) from the movie are now the first Bollywood songs I have on my computer. I've always found Indian music to be a lot of fun, but for some reason I haven't gone through the trouble of finding any to listen to at home. Maybe I'll get a load of good tips from vierran45 now! *hint, hint* ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Small miracles do happen. Like the one that let me get through the day. I was so sure at 8 a.m. that I wouldn't be able to do everything I was supposed to and yet, lo and behold, I'm done.

I don't enjoy days like this a whole lot. I don't know if anyone does, but I sure don't. Days, when I'm too busy to eat and end up feeling soddin' awful because of it. Days, when I simply know there's too much to do within, say, 6 hours. Days, when I'm happy to be done with it, but when I have a nagging feeling I didn't do too well.

Blah. I most certainly am not completely satisfied with my work today. It probably has more to do with the fact that I'm basically starving and somewhat sleep deprivated than it has with my actual success today. Blah, blah, blah.

On the bright side, I now have only one more lesson left of the course (plus the review) and some of my students are writing pretty good essays by now. Good for them!

On an even brighter side - KoH soundtrack arrived today! Whee! I've been listening to it on constant repeat and it's so good! I love the more meditative, medieval-ish choir pieces and the light touch of oriental rhythms here and there, the songs that are more clearly of oriental origin... And Ibelin's theme (both versions of it, actually) is just beautiful!

Music can be such a strong mood setter. (Stating the obvious here, duh...) I literally was holding back tears when I heard the first songs for the first time today. Then again, that's nothing noticeably odd for me, since I tend to be a bit over-sensitive about a lot of things. Music being one of those things.

I think I've become definitely more sensitive about music and the peculiar kind of storytelling effect of music after I started dancing. I can't remember ever being so moved by music before I began to try and express the music through dancing. I don't know if it really has anything to do with it, but it could.

Actually, it must have something to do with it, because now I very easily "see" music as movement. Especially anything with an oriental influence or a strong rhythm in it. I did start planning a choreography to the above-mentioned Ibelin's theme already... :) But just because I need to change my solo music for next year's performance of our latest dance recital. The one where I'm Fikriya. Remember those pictures a while back? :)

As a fangirlish afterthought - it'll be nice to dance to Balian's themesong... Teeheee.

Which would nicely bring me to comment on the ponderings Tytti and Mari have posted in their blogs lately, but I think I'm too tired to analyze my fangirly sentiments about Orlando or any other stunning male actor in a very academic manner at the moment.

Wow. This must be real exhaustion. I'm too tired to rant about gorgeous guys? Dear me, I never would've thought the day would come...

Friday, May 13, 2005

First day of summer

Ahh, how I love the blue sky and the sun! Today was, in my opinion, the first day of summer. Or at least the most summery day of the spring so far. I began my summer season by buying ice cream from the ice cream stand that has been brought back to the familiar corner by the park some weeks ago. As surely as the disappearance of that little stand was the sign of approaching winter, the first ice cream cone bought is always a sign of summer. :)

A good, although busybusy, day today. First there was the job interview. I don't know how much of it was a formality, but at least I got the job. I'm fairly happy about it. Only fairly happy, because I would've rather worked at a museum of some kind this summer, but happy nonetheless. I've now got a job that has very flexible working hours (I'm only required 48hrs of work a month, but am allowed to do more) , which allow me to dedicate time for my thesis and have a little bit of free time, too. Sure, I don't get paid much, but I'm positively sure I can sell some mags and therefore will be entitled to at least some bonuses. Besides, I'm there for only two months and in the fall I'm going to be doing what I actually want to do - so I can cope.

Had the fifth lesson with the history students today. Finished the second book. Phew. Poor kids, though. First they had to write down about 8 pages of notes from each other's transparencies (I had them do some independent studying and made them teach for a while) and then I slammed them with a pile of 11 transparencies... I felt a bit sorry for them, but I had to get all of the stuff covered.

Next week we're plunging into the history of Finland during the autonomy period. For me, this'll be the least exciting subject to teach, but at least it's older Finnish history and not modern political history. That'd be a killer. Three more regular lessons and one for final feedback and revision. Yay. :) Things are looking good.

A bit of fangirlish nonsense here at the end. I've got to get to the movies to see KoH again! The sooner the better. Dangermousie has just been fuel to the flames, so to say. Not that I mind it in the least. I've so needed the laughs and fangirly giggles (and bunch of other feelings better left unmentioned) her recent postings on KoH have provided for. Dear mother of all creation, how can there be a man that is as gorgeous Orlando? (Yes, yes, I feel a comment coming from Tero's direction, but oh well, that's a risk I'm willing to take.) Or as gorgeous as Ioan, for that matter. Having pondered this for a while yesterday, I put together a screensaver that has nothing but pictures of those two in it. Makes it reeally easy to blankly stare the screen for a few minutes just waiting for the screensaver to kick in. :) I think I have to cheer myself up a bit more and add a few pictures here to finish up a good day.

A nekkid knight, mmm.

A snowy knight with a bit too much clothing...

And, krhm, a white knight? Oh, heck, a drop-dead-gorgeous specimen of male hawtness...

More hawtness in soft earth tones, this time. *sigh*

As I've said before, I so want to see these two men in the same movie one of these days! *swoon*

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What a difference a night (and half a day) makes

It has been demonstrated once again how sleep reduces panic. Last night I was about ready for desperate measures because of all the work piling on my desk. As a result I had an angst attack about the lessonplans and decided I should calm myself down by grading essays... I was able to stay up reading and grading till 1.30 a.m. (I didn't say I was very smart about the schedule, now did I?) and got that stuff sorted out.

Slept a while (not too calmly, though) and in the morning my thoughts were running much more smoothly. Ergo, lessonplans and everything done in just a few hours. Go me.

Getting copies was the tricky part today. I ended up buying my transparency copies from a local copying firm, and that was a shock. The prize on those copies!! Three times as expensive as at the university. (All the university places were closed for some reason.) And naturally infinitely more expensive than the free copies I'd get through the copying firm in friggin' Espoo. But I just don't get stuff done early enough anymore to use their services. A bummer. Argh.

And then. Within a few days now I've found out that none of my job applications for this summer have resulted in a job interview. Blah. In desperation I filled out an electric form today for a local telemarketing firm, applying for an evening job for the summer. I need some income and I think talking on the phone would beat some other possible odd jobs out there. Besides the firm seems to have a bonus for its workers, free gym time at my regular gym. Great. I'm having visions of getting fit, writing a thesis and working in the evenings this summer. (Alas, no vacationing is included in this vision...)

For the story to be oddly positive, I do have to mention they called me from that firm a while ago. I think this was even faster than the process with Eximia. So I'm going for a job interview tomorrow morning. How funny is that? Yet, however I think about it, I have to admit that little income beats no income, so I'm going to go and be all about telemarketing tomorrow. At least I can always think about the fall and the wondrous moment I can actually begin as a regular (although part-time) teacher in Nousiainen.

Now if I only got my car sold (no one wants to buy my precious, boohoo) and managed to get that job tomorrow, then my life would be one notch further away from utter desperation and panic... :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Three down, six more to go

Of my classes, that is. Today's class, I thought, went well. We began discussing the required reading for general history, the book about diseases in human history. So I began the class with the dawn of humanity, some 4 million years ago. At a steady pace I advanced waaay up till the invention of agriculture and a bit further than that. So, having covered about 4 million years of pre-history and history in less than three hours, I'm content. Next challenge will be less in years but more in "stuff going on", as we proceed to the times AD.

I'm thinking some of the students may like me after all. :) No, not that I really were seriously afraid that they wouldn't, but at least two of them were brave enough to come and talk with me after class. One young man was interested in the Templars and Hospitallers and other pieces of history of the chivalric orders. I was so glad I could actually give him some solid answers. He had seen KoH, too, and we even talked about it for a while. A nice young fellow, I wish he is accepted in the Uni. The second student that stayed behind was a very active and nice young lady. Turns out she's just about as nuts about things medieval as I am. I hope she gets in, too. (Well, I hope all my 13 students get in, naturally!)

It was nice to talk to them without the "pressure" of the teacher's role. It's a bit different from how I can interact with students in highschool. For these two students I could be a fellow history buff after the class, not having to uphold the serious tone of teaching. For a highschool student I am, in all situations, a teacher. And that's fine, goes with the job description. But this was really nice. I'm happy that these two found me approachable enough to come and ask me questions about "extra-curricular" areas of history.

Well, tomorrow there's no class. But I have at least one set of lessons to plan and one batch of essays to grade. So enough of work for one day (and then some), for sure. And I seriously need to get to the gym, too.

The one word that describes my being now is hectic. So much going on. Unfortunately, it's going to get a lot slower in a month or so. I just found out that I'm most likely going to have to spend all of my summer without work (or, without any work that pays anything). It's actually both good and bad. I so need a break from everything and I so need time to work on my thesis. I'd like to see it almost finished when schools begin in the fall. Which would mean a lot of work during the summer. Without any income, which is very bad indeed... Yikes. I need to do some thinking about all of this, though. We'll see. I've got too much work now to worry about what happens in three weeks' time. :)

Now I'll go and watch Angel, he's on tv now and I've already missed half an episode. (I've seen it before, but so what. It's a good season of Angel, this last one.) Ta ta.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Prep course ponderings

It's over, the first prep course lecture, that is. I have absolutely no idea how it went. I felt at ease in front of the students (as I should've known I would, instead of being afraid of those horrid nightmare scenarios I had these past few nights) and I had plenty of stuff for them to do and for me to lecture. Turned out that there were 13 students instead of 11 on the course. A good size for a prep course group.

But the blankness of some of those kids' faces. I just don't know if anything I taught them sank in. If they actually understood my explanations for some of the terms used in the research - worst cases being the terms "discourse" and "text" within the context of this particular research. This is the first time most of them face a historical research and it's essential that they understand what I'm talking about. I suppose I'll see what's brewing in their brains when they turn in their first essays on Monday. I don't know what to expect.

There were few active ones, just like Tytti has been saying about her group, but quite a few who didn't utter a word after I had asked them their name and the reason why they wanted to study history.

Most common reason seems to be "I don't know", btw. Most of them said they didn't know exactly why, but some were clearly history buffs from the days of their elementary schooling. There was even a young man, who claimed that the Middle Ages are so awesome! He's my favorite already. :) But also a few, who had only just decided that they wanted to study history. Interesting mix. I'm thinking those who had just decided, will need the course the most.

Well, I suppose I'll have to wait and see how the students are on Monday, when they already know my face and have had the whole weekend to relax. Erm, then again, maybe not. I gave them a load of homework to do and half a book to revise for that class... Nah, they have the whole weekend. They'll have lot less time when I give them their homework on Monday, to be turned in on Tuesday... ;)

No rest for the wicked, it seems . I'm also going to have to work like a madwoman till Monday. I have to finish at least two or three sets of lessonplans and essaytopics, so I can concentrate better on grading those papers next week. Fun fun. But I'm determined to see quite a few of those kids as history students next fall, so I'm going to put some effort to it, too. That's what they are paying for, after all.

Oops, off to watch Magnolia on tv. Haven't seen it before. There's no possible way it's going to be better than last nights movie, though. ;) I'm thinking I may have to spend some more money on KoH later this month - I think I'm going to have to see it again on the big screen... Mmmmmm...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

This is why history ROCKS!

I'm so thrilled I can barely hold myself down. I put on a black shirt and hung my eight-pointed Maltese cross around my neck (just so everyone knows I'm all for the Knights Hospitaller!) and went to see Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven today and OMG it was good! For many reasons, some more obvious than others...

First of all, now I know I'm unbelievably lucky. I'm a 21st century historian researching the knightly orders of the crusades and as such, luckier than generations of historians before me. This is probably the first time in history since the 12th century for a historian to see Knights Templar charge into battle. I had chills down my spine throughout the movie (yes, yes, not all of them thanks to the historical stuff, but I'll get to that later) , just because on the screen before me there were places and people who, to me, are familiar from so many studies and books. And don't you dare spoil my sheer joy of the imagery by saying they were just actors! They were historical research papers and documents come to life, for me. Something I've been able to visualize in my head, for sure, but to see the Templars ride into battle or to see the Hospitallers taking care of the sick in their hospital - what an amazing treat! I love being able to think to myself "Wow, it really could've looked like that!". It's the romantic in me, but I don't care. I love it.

There are, naturally, some shortcuts and twists in the story, that aren't word for word "true". But then, there were quite a few scenes that were almost word for word what was said in the situation in 1187 (or so), at least according to my sources. Like the scene with Salah ad-Din and Guy de Lusignan and Reynald de Chatillon after the former has taken the two latter as prisoners. Salah ad-Din offers a drink to Guy de Lusignan, who then offers the cup to Reynald. (Who just happens to be one of the men Salah ad-Din hates most in the world. Long story.) Salah ad-Din is offended and says to Reynald that the cup wasn't offered to him and that it will be the last drink Reynald will ever have. And surely enough, he is immediately escorted outside and there beheaded by Salah ad-Din. Here the director follows a crusader's account on the event almost to the word. (Whether the drink Salah ad-Din offered was really mashed ice, is debatable, but other than that, it was about as accurate as a separate scene can be.)

Probably the biggest complaint I have about the shortcuts is, naturally, the existence of king Baldwin IV in the year 1187, which is the year the movie is mainly all about. The Leper King of Jerusalem had died a few years earlier and left as his heir his sister Sibylla's infant son, who then dies very soon and leaves the leaders of Jerusalem in a sticky situation. The late king, Baldwin IV, had stated in his last will, that the count of Tripoli, Raymond, should act as a regent until a new king is appointed by the pope, the patriarch of Jerusalem and the kings of England and France together. Well, due to some marriage arrangements gone awry in the past, this doesn't suit the Grand Master of the Templars, Girard de Ridfort and his supporters. All kinds of scheming follow, but in the end we get the same situation that the movie shows us - Sibylla is crowned Queen of Jerusalem and she then crowns her husband Guy de Lusignan to reign with her as King of Jerusalem.

I thought it was too bad that they didn't tell everything about the coronation and the scandal with the keys to the chest that held the regalia. That story is one of my favorites, as it shows what an honorable man the Grand Master of the Hospitallers was. Roger des Moulins was one of the only men opposing the crowning of Sibylla. He refused to give his key to be used in the ceremony. There were three keys to the chest, you see. One was kept by the patriarch of Jerusalem and the other two by the Grand Masters of the Templars and Knights Hospitaller. The other two had broken their vows to the late king, but Roger des Moulins wouldn't hear of it. (Ah, the fact that he eventually threw the key through a window to the courtyard only shows us that he too was a human and got very upset by the pressure piled on him by the others. Naturally the key was found without difficulties and the regalia gotten out of the chest. But I still like the story.)

Ok, enough of the historical nitpicking for now. Here's a reasonably good and fairly short article on what happened during the late 12th century in Jerusalem. Lots and lots of revenge, scheming, boneheadedness and plain greed! In the end, though, it all came down to men being such idiots when it comes to women. If that one arranged marriage would've worked out as it was supposed to (from the point of view of Girard de Ridfort), the history of Jerusalem could be completely different. Speculate on that. I sure will.

Then, the utterly and shamelessly fangirlish part of it all. Orlando Bloom. Oy, oy, oy! He's grown into a man, he has! And with the full Aragorn-effect working for him, too. Scruffy, dirty and omg how hot. He's just out-of-this-world-gorgeous! Plain and simple as that. Now I only want to see a movie with him and Ioan Gruffudd in it and I could die a happy girl. I'm thinking Ioan could play Will Turner's (Orlando's) long lost big brother in the PotC-series... *swoon*

Aaanyway. I can't wait for this movie to come out on DVD and actually, next week when I get my last salary from Lieto, I'll go and buy the soundtrack immediately. Beautiful medieval/oriental -music, with Natacha Atlas performing at least one of the theme songs! Wonderful!

I think Ridley Scott did an excellent job with the movie. I've heard that some people have complained about the story being boring or pointless, but I just don't agree with it. Sometimes, if you really want to bring real, documented history to life, the stories are bound to be less exciting than your average Hollywood action no-brainer. Then again, what is exciting? The fall of Jerusalem isn't? The story of Balian d'Ibelin, who actually paid a fortune in gold to get the poor people of Jerusalem out of the fallen city unharmed, is boring? The story of a great moslem leader, Salah ad-Din, is surely about as non-exciting as stories get? Well, I'm sorry, I just happen to disagree. Aren't I glad I'm a historian. I'm allowed to get reaaaally excited about dusty and boring old stories like these!

Ahh, there. Once again a movie I could go on and on about, but I have to restrain myself, because there's nobody on this planet who would read through all of my rants. In fact I'm very surprised if any of you got this far without yawning... I sure didn't. :) But that's because it's time I got to bed, I'm all done for tonight. Tomorrow's a big day. The prep course begins, yikes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Oddly irritated

Not my day today. I started out really tired in the morning after a night not so well slept. I think my stress levels are getting to the point where my sleep is beginning to suffer -that and the fact that I feel like my temperature is a bit high is confirming my diagnosis. Stress, stress, stress.

I can't wait I get the history course going. At the moment I'm basically coming up with all these dreadful scenarios of wise-cracking kids running me over after reading the required researches six, seven times whereas I'll be lucky if I have time to go through them twice. Aagh. I'm almost a friggin' MA already and I'm scared of some kids who want to get into the University?? I so seriously need the course to begin so I can prove to myself again that I might actually be qualified to teach them...

Today I prepared for Monday's class, which will be on the Western view over the African scenery. You know, how the tropic is a mix of fantasy and colonialistic ideas, how the white man had to conquer the wild nature by shooting at everything and posing next to the dead animals. All a part of the colonialistic tradition and Western view. I think the research is really pretty interesting and easy to grasp (apart from a few odd bits where I think the ideas have been worded out really badly), but as such I'm not quite sure what the students will want to ask about it. What should I be prepared for? Well, at the moment I'm prepared for lots and lots of essays for them to write as rehearsals. Those should keep them busy and processing everything they need to know.

It's going to be a bit tougher with the research on diseases. It covers such a long stretch of history (and pre-history!) that it's going to be a challenge to teach it all in only 9 hours. Sounds like plenty of time, doesn't it? It's really not. I think I'm going to be scurrying like a little furry critter to get everything done in time. The students will need time to write essays, we'll need time to discuss everything, for them to get feedback... Teaching sure is one of those jobs where you really have to work for your salary.

But this is all "bubbling under" stuff. The more acute irritation is the result of... the Finnish dialects. I had the exam today and it just felt like I had forgotten everything I had ever heard about the subject. My brain just doesn't think like a linguist. It thinks like a historian, which means big pictures and such. I just cannot remember which representations of the ts are used in all the Western dialects. I can remember two (possibly three), just because I happen to be a native speaker of the Southwestern dialect. So I know I say "mettä" and "mettään" or "metässä" instead of "metsä" / "metsään" / "metsässä", but somehow I think that doesn't quite cover it. I think I may have to go and take the exam again next week. If, for some wildly strange reason I pass the exam this time around, it sure won't be because I knew what I was doing...

So I'm irritated for forgetting the exam and therefore not having enough time to study for it, I'm irritated because the exam was actually about the lectures, which were held about half a year ago, I'm irritated because I had to borrow someone else's notes (I was working in Nousiainen for the most part of the course in the fall) and couldn't understand half of them... Excuses are the lamest thing in the world, but somehow they comfort me and make me feel less like a total idiot when it comes to the details of my own language. Aagh. Stupid me.

Then again, I might not be a complete disaster after all. Look at the result of this mythological goddess test. You know, I do carry the ankh around my neck almost all the time nowadays and besides, I think the sistrums sound nice and mystical. :)
Indeed, you are 75% erudite, 70% sensual, 50% martial, and 33% saturnine.
This Egyptian
supreme Goddess is certainly the most influential deity on subsequent
cultures. She was the ideal figure of womanhood, usually compared with
the Greek Goddess Demeter or her Roman version, Ceres.

Isis was one element of a Holy Trinity, the remaining two figures being her brother and husband Osiris and their heroic son Horus. She was the Goddess of Magic for her brilliance, as well as the Goddess of Love because of her tenacious devotion.

She is often shown with wings, curving to caress coffins and sarcophagi
of many a king. In certain papyri she is shown with her falcon wing
headdress, covering her ears. One of her sacred symbols is the sistrum,
a musical instrument that was believed to ward off evil spirits. Isis'
sistrum was carved bearing the image of a cat and was representative of
the Moon.

Isis was the High Priestess and an omnipotent magician as well as the only being ever to discover the secret name of Ra.
She invariably carries the ankh, the symbol for eternal life. Her name
is, by the rules of numerology, adding up to the number “2” and she
just so happens to be depicted on the tarot card “Key 2 – The High

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 51% on erudite
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You scored higher than 17% on sensual
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You scored higher than 48% on martial
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You scored higher than 13% on saturnine
Link: The Mythological Goddess Test written by Nitsuki on Ok Cupid