Wednesday, August 31, 2005


As nice as my students are, they don't seem to have a clue about Finnish grammar... I've been grading papers and I'm about ready to throw in the towel. These poor kids can't tell a verb from a noun, a particle from a pronoun and they have very little idea of attributes, adverbials and predicatives. *sigh*

And that's the stuff they're supposed to know already, since there's absolutely no time in the curriculum to go over all the basic grammar rules they should know after junior high. I'm going to have to give them a little speech about how the basic grammar knowledge will be essential for them to learn any language, not just in Finnish class. I suppose most of them still couldn't care less, but maybe some of them will revise a bit...

Other than this slight disappointment, work has been good. I enjoy having something meaningful to do. I've noticed I also enjoy taking the bus to work. Gives me about a half an hour to think about things without anything else to do. Unless I decide to read instead - I've got a bunch of work related novels to read, for example. But if I don't read, my mind just basically wanders pretty idly. Which I happily allow it to do. I've got a lot on my mind these days and the time on the bus a few times a week seems like a good form of therapy. Self-reflections and other odd thoughts, with as few stressfull topics as possible. :)

Today, however, I wasn't idly thinking about random matters. I was reading a delightful novel by Erlend Loe. It's been published originally quite a few years ago, and I've been meaning to read it for some time already, but haven't gotten to it until now. The novel is called Naive. Super. and it's quite charming. In a very weird and odd way, though.

In the novel the protagonist suffers from a loss of interest and meaning to his life. He decides he wants to buy a ball and bounce it off the wall in the evenings, which basically brings him some comfort and satisfaction. During the daytime he sometimes ventures into reading a book about time. He, for example, ponders the possibility of thinking infinite amount of thoughts and is a bit doubtful whether his brains would be capable of such. He ponders this after having read in his book that if the universe is given an infinite amount of time, everything will happen. Every single thing, no matter how unprobable, will happen, if given enough time. Which, in my opinion as well, is a mindboggling thought. So it's no wonder the protagonist ends up questioning his brains - mine could get stuck trying to understand that, too.

(On the other hand, I suppose I don't really have to understand it, because it's not like I'm going to be here infinitely to see how everything happens. I just get my finite slice of infinity and I need to make the most of it, with the probabilities available.)

Ah. I really appreciate good literature for such mindboggling thoughts and I think I need to stop writing nonsense and go finish up the novel in question. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2005


This is what happens when I am too busy. I lose the track of time and suddenly notice that the whatever event I had thought about as being in the vague future hits me in the face. *thud*

Luckily no irreparable damage this time. I had simply forgotten that my cousin is supposed to come and stay with me for a couple of days starting today, because she hasn't got the keys to her new apartment yet. I had made plans of going to Nousiainen to stay over, so I wouldn't have to spend yet another 4,60 euros for a busride to work tomorrow, but I guess I'm abandoning those plans now. I certainly hope I haven't forgotten anything else...

Just watched a fascinating document on tv. It was the second part of a document in which two groups of scientists were reconstructing Leonardo da Vinci's inventions. One group was building a huge crossbow for shooting cannonballs and the other team was hoping to build a glider according to da Vinci's plans.

The crossbow was one mean piece of work. Unfortunately the team failed to get the thing to work properly. Instead of hurtling the cannonball to a distance of some 150 metres, the ball fell to the ground after flying only about 25 metres at most. Understandably the modern engineers were bitterly disappointed, because they realised they themselves were to blame. They had made alterations to Leonardo's drawings, according to more modern knowledge of engineering, and they proved to be too radical. It seemed that the kind of skill the builders had in Leonardo's time was lost to the modern engineers and woodworkers.

On the other hand, the team that was building the glider was very successfull. They were able to follow Leonardo's plans more accurately and were able to put together a functional glider. They actually broke the first flying records of the Wright brothers with the thing. In other words, if Leonardo would've been a man to finish his projects and build the machines he visualized, he probably would've been the first man to fly. A staggering 400 years before the first flight was eventually a reality. Very impressive.

My heart just breaks when I think how much of Leonardo's (and other great minds') works have been lost forever. Today it's estimated that only about a quarter of Leonardo's papers have survived the centuries. And since it's most likely that at least some of the destroyed materials included the more radical ideas Leonardo had, it's even more heartbreaking. Did he really have extensive plans on making a mechanical man? There is some surviving evidence of it, for sure. But those plans, for the most part, must've been the ones to awaken the wrath of the church, especially during the purification period of Milan. What else might those papers reveal to modern researchers, were they to be found somewhere? Oh, what I'd give sometimes to have a time machine...

I love these kinds of documents where modern men try to figure out how the earlier generations did things. It never fails to amaze me how clever human beings have been throughout history. How wrong it is for us to point out to an older culture and label it primitive, when it's obvious that we might be able to learn quite a lot from the intellectual victories of previous bright minds of which ever period in history.

Keeping that in mind, I must say I can't understand the politics of some countries. A couple of weeks ago I was watching a document about the great seafarers, the Phoenicians. In the document they also interviewed a marine archeologist who had found the remains of I think a couple of Phoenician ships. The ships were situated close to the coastline of Israel. However, when he returned to the site of the wrecks a year or so later to begin his research, he was told to leave immediately. Turned out that the site had become a part of Egyptian local waters, after some rearranging of the marine borders of the two countries. The Egyptian government stated that the research of this archeologist was "a threat to the national security of Egypt".

Excuse me? Can someone explain to me how the discovery of two Phoenician ships and the following historical research is a threat to any nation's security? I felt so bad for the archeologist who had to turn his ship around and go back to scanning the seabed around the Mediterranean sea routes between Malta and Carthage used by the Phoenicians. To scan thousands of miles of seabed, when he knew exactly where there'd be magnificent remains to research. I can only imagine the bitterness, when he finally had to give up and sail back to the States without finding any significant Phoenician remains. Poor guy.

But honestly, to be so suspicious that the excavations of a few ships a couple of milennia old would look like a threat to national security... My mind boggles. I wasn't made to understand the reasons behind such statements. I would understand if they'd posted some kind of restrictions on the time the archeologist could spend doing his research in their local waters or something of the sort, but to completely forbid the whole project? I just don't get it.

I suppose I'm going to be left wondering in my extremely naive way why we all can't just appreciate history and live in peace... :)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

No loitering

Dear me, what a week. Feels like I've been riding on a rocket. Whoosh!

First there was the beginning of work and the birth of little Aure. In other words, the week started out with me having serious issues of spinning in my head. Do this, plan that, coo at the baby bundle.

Work, btw, has been good so far. Now I'm really looking forward to settling down, so to say. To get to the daily routines of getting to work somehow, teaching the daily dose of Finnish or legal matters and figuring out how to get home in the afternoon.

It's funny how quickly I've noticed that I really miss my old car. It's so much more convenient to hop in your own car, drive to work according to your own schedules and not having to figure out which bus goes where and when. But to be honest, I'd be cursing the car (my old one, that is) to the lowest levels of Dante's charming hell as soon as the temperatures begin to sink below zero during the night. (Which, I'm happy to say, isn't quite yet.)

But the car issue is going to have to be solved later. For now I'll settle for bus hopping (at least I can get some reading done during the 40 minute drive to/from Nousiainen), borrowing grandpa's car and commuting with co-workers when their schedules fit mine. Which they really don't do that often, unfortunately. I'm sure I'll appreciate having a car all the more after having to do without for some time.

Ah, back on track. On Wednesday I got some very interesting guests. The Australian GUFF-travellers came to stay over at my place for a night and naturally there was some programming to be done to entertain them. G(oing)U(nder)F(an)F(und) is a way to promote fannish cooperation between Australia&NZ and Europe. This year's Australian winners, Damien and Juliette, had already met people in Britain, visited the Worldcon in Glasgow (obviously) and were planning on going further to Sweden, Denmark and Germany to meet the local fans.

A small delegation of us Turku fans gathered with D&J to have dinner in Harald, where the brave Aussies had a taste of weird Finnish beverages like tar schnaps. Either they really sort of liked it or they put up a very polite face, since they did admit it "wasn't as bad as one could've thought". Heh.

On Thursday after work it was time for touristy stuff. D&J had found out that two other Australians were visiting in Tampere at the same time, so on that afternoon I found myself in the company of four nice Australians instead of just two, when Dave and Karen joined us after a quick train trip to Turku.

It was so much fun to show them around town. We went to the Turku Castle, walked around and had coffee in the castle courtyard. We didn't take the tour inside the castle, because that would've been sort of expensive and taken a lot of time. After that we walked back to the center of town. It was a nice walk on the bank of river Aura. We discussed, among other things, arranging cons the Finnish and Australian ways. It was very interesting to compare them. (There were a few other interesting matters to compare between the Finnish and Aussie living. Like for example Karen told me that she thought that the Finnish bumblebees were huge. I would've thought Australian bumblebees would be bigger. I don't know why, but just feels like it should be like that, Australia being warmer and all. And it was even more fun to compare ideal winter days. For them Thursday's weather, sunny and about 23 degrees C, was a very nice wintery weather. I would consider -5 degrees, 20 cm of snow on the ground and sunshine from a blue sky to be a perfect winter day...)

I can't even begin to describe how crazy I feel when I have to admit that after discussing con organising, I'm really getting excited about possibly arranging Finncon in Turku again, in 2008. I must be flat out mad to consider a project of that magnitude now, but as we already agreed that there'd be Australian visitors (hehheh), I suppose we'll have to get down to it pretty soon. Time for a first con committee meeting, yup. No escaping the fact that it's a heck of a lot of fun (there is no buzz like the buzz I get during the con week) even though it's also a heck of a lot of stress and work, on so many levels. But crazy is as crazy does, and I think I want to do another Finncon. :) (Somebody just please shoot me now, ok?)

(Be comforted. We're nearing the end of the week in this lengthy post.) During this part of the semester I have no classes to teach on Fridays, so instead I spent my first free Friday desperately trying to find brown dressy shoes to wear with my outfit for Saturday's wedding.

Considering that brown is the black of the day in clothing, it was amazingly frustrating to try to find brown shoes to match. Grr. Ended up buying no shoes. Decided to compromise my elegance by wearing black strappy shoes instead. (Oh, woe, what a fashion disaster!)

The wedding on Saturday was very charming. Kirsi and Matti had invited some 50 guests, which was (so I was told) a compromise between Matti's idea of a wedding for 100 people and Kirsi's idea of eloping without no guests at all. :) I'm so happy they decided to have a wedding!

The ceremony was held in the beautiful, medieval church of Nousiainen. The exact same church I met Kirsi in some 13 years ago. It all seemed so appropriate. Kirsi was wearing an absolutely gorgeous dark red silk dress, just like she'd always wanted. I remember us talking about my mom's red wedding dress already in high school and Kirsi being very convinced that she'd want a red one too. So she did. It was perfect for her. Matti also looked very handsome.

The reception was held in the old railway station of Nousiainen. A beautiful old building, which created a very intimate and well, rural (in a positive sense!), atmosphere to the whole reception. Everything was just like I'd imagined Kirsi would want it to be. She did seem pleased with all the arrangements when I talked with her during the evening.

Finally, everything was crowned by the most stunning full moon rising. I can't imagine a more perfect August night. As I drove home (I had dad's adorable VW Beetle, squee!), I felt so happy for my dear old friend. She used to be so scared of not finding anyone and there she was, beautiful on her wedding day, with her husband and their utterly, completely gorgeous little daughter Amanda. It's wonderful, when people's worst fears dissolve like the mist on a lake when the sun rises. Congratulations once more to the whole family! If I die tomorrow, I'll know I've done at least some good in this world by matching you two way back when... :)

Ah, I'm getting awfully sentimental here. Weddings do that to me, you know.

Anyhow, now it's time I begin thinking about the upcoming week, which should be somewhat calmer, thank goodness. I think I may even have a "free" weekend coming up, when it comes to prearranged social events. I'm thinking of going to Kurala to watch the primitive weapons' competitions instead. :) But that's not before I've taught a few lessons to a bunch of students, heh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

That's my girl!

She's adorable. Utterly adorable. She frowns when people take pictures (the flashes are eeevil), pouts her little mouth and likes to stretch her legs. I haven't yet seen her eyes, as she was asleep all the time we were visiting. I'm sure she'll be one charming little girl when she grows older, because she had us all cooing in less than five seconds. :)

Her parents were appropriately dazed with happiness (Kirsi probably also partly because of the painkillers she was still on, heh) and very much enchanted by the wee bitty bundle. As were we all. I bought her a fairytale book, a purple little shirt that says "I am gorgeous" and a small toy-lamb (which rattles). I thought that no goddaughter of mine will begin her journey in this world without a proper book of fairytales. :) These were the traditional Finnish animal tales, about the wily fox, the dumb bear and so on. I promised I'd also read the stories for her later.

Oh dear. I still don't have a "baby fever" myself, but as far as babies go, Aure sure was cute as a button. :) Tytti will probably post some of the pictures she took today in the hospital, so check her blog for pics. Mine will be available after considerably longer time. Unfortunately.

However cute the baby was, I have to move on with the program. Finishing touches to tomorrow's lesson plans and then frantic dishwashing and other cleaning before I fall down to bed exhausted. The Australian couple will be coming this way tomorrow afternoon and my apartment is a mess. I need to make my place more presentable so I can let them in... Although I'd much rather go to bed right now and sleep till morning... *yawn* But because that would cause me to fall into fits of sheer panic tomorrow, I won't do that quite yet.

Monday, August 15, 2005

New beginnings

What a wonderful day it has been. I began at my new workplace and became a godmother to a little wee princess.

First things first. My goddaughter Aure Eeva Johanna, Kirsi and Mikko's firstborn, saw the world for the first time today at 8.50 am. Strategic measurements are 3,425 kg and 51 cm. She and her proud parents are doing well, which makes me very happy. I'm going to get to go and see her for the first time tomorrow! Awwwww!

I got the message announcing the birth of the wee girl to work and for the rest of the day my thoughts kept wandering (and I kept smiling like a loon). As soon as I got home, I decided I needed to go giftshopping for my little goddaughter. There are sooo many utterly adorable babyclothes and stuff that it was not a quick trip to the stores. But I found some nice presents - I hope she (and her parents...) will like them. :)

Work was good, too. Today was a planning day for us teachers, or as my dad so fondly says, the day when the surroundings are optimal for a teacher. There are no students around! So basically it was a teachers' meeting and then some course planning and running about two separate school buildings for me today. Tomorrow I'll have the first lessons.

The first day did have some surprises (non-baby related) for me, too. Firstly, the course books I ordered for myself hadn't arrived to the school. When I called the publisher, the friendly lady of the customer services told me my order hadn't been completed. Why? Because the area representative who told me she would take care of the matter hadn't done what she was supposed to... So I'm going to have to begin the Finnish course without proper materials. Luckily mom's there to help - I got to borrow some of her materials.

And yes, I had been preparing mentally (and by reading a few novels!) for a seniors' course. So when it dawned on me that it wasn't the course I'd be teaching, I was a bit surprised. Turns out that I'll be spending my seven odd weeks from now on with first year students and their first senior high Finnish course. Well, it's fine by me, it's a nice course and it'll be fun to get to know some of the "freshmen".

But as it happens, I still have some lesson planning to do, so I'd better cut this short. However, I must confess that I'm very excited about this week, there's just so much to look forward to! Work, meeting my goddaughter, hosting two Australian fan fund -travellers for one night and my friends wedding on Saturday. Busy, busy, busy. Happy, happy, happy! :)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just out of curiosity

There's been this "Do you read me?" -meme going around at various LJ's I read. The point of it being that everyone reading that particular lj would "turn themselves in" by commenting.

As it's getting pretty near the first birthday of my blog, I decided it's time to find out who visits the Pool. I'm sure most of the people reading my ponderings are my friends and have commented at least once, but nevertheless, I'd like to find out if there are people just lurking around. :)

In other words, if you read my blog, please drop me a comment. Don't be shy, just say hi or something. I'd be delighted to hear from you. All of you. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Raindrops keep falling

Funny times I'm living. I seem to have so much going on and so much to think about that I don't seem to be able to express myself in words. Which is somewhat unusual. Or maybe it's just that I haven't really had time to sit down and ponder about, well, anything lately.

It's been miserably grey these past few days, with almost constant rain pouring down. It's beginning to look and feel like fall and that's just what I was afraid of - this year the summer hasn't really happened for me. In the spring I was worried about not having enough time this summer to do everything I needed to get done, in June or so I was worrying that the summer would come to an end before I could get anything done and well, now it seems that the summer really is coming to an end and I haven't had time to enjoy it, not really.

I'm not saying I haven't done anything. Because I have. This is probably the first time during my years at the University when I've actually managed to take the full set of summer exams. And double exams, too, to be more exact. Usually I've planned to take all four possible exams and ended up taking two at the most. So instead of that routine, I've already beaten all my old records - if I pass all of the altogether six exams I've taken this summer. The last trial is to be on Friday, and I'm very aggravated about that one already. It's the dreaded and whole-heartedly hated accounting and business econ exam. I hate it, I hate it, I HATE it. Oh, and did I mention that I loathe it, too? Blergh. But if I manage to drag myself to the exam on Friday and somehow miraculously manage to pass it too, I'm all done with economics after that. So I try to motivate myself with the thought of no more accounting when this is done...

In other words, I'm pretty happy about the way my studies are progressing. All of the exams I manage to pass are a step closer to graduating. Which is definitely good.

Unfortunately things aren't as great with my thesis. It's beginning to really dawn on me that I simply cannot concentrate on multiple (demanding, study-related) projects at the same time. This summer began with ridiculously optimistic plans about working, studying and writing my thesis, but I should've known better. I really, really should've known better. Because I should've learned by now that if I have exams to study for and work to go to, there's just no time to concentrate on doing serious research. It's really like having three jobs (or four) at the same time. I simply can't manage that. So, no matter how much it pains me to admit that I can't do it all at once, I probably should give myself a break.

Not literally, of course. I couldn't help but to give it a little dry laughter, when the principal of the junior high I'm going to be working at this year asked me if I'd had time to have a vacation this summer. Umm, well, lemmesee. No, not really. And it's a bit too late now. I'm sure most of the teachers that I meet on Monday when work begins are going to tell all kinds of wonderful stories about "reloading their batteries" and relaxing and doing only enjoyable stuff for all summer long. They're going to be well rested and so on, whereas I'm boasting with black rings around my eyes and stress levels of hungry squirrels whose nuts have been stolen from them. Yay, me. Isn't it fun to be young - you have so much energy! Gaah. I'm so looking forward to the time in my life when I really do have 10 weeks of paid summer vacation to use just as I please. *sigh*

After all that ranting I must admit that I'm getting both excited and anxious about work. I dropped by the school today, to see if my workbooks and materials had already arrived there (I ordered all the course books and such from the publisher some time ago) and heard that I'd been given more courses to teach during the year. Yay, says I. :) More lessons, more euros. I still don't know what kind of courses I'll have in the junior high (except for the course that begins on Tuesday) and I'm not sure what extra course I got from senior high, but it doesn't matter that much. I'll find out on Monday.

It is, however, just a touch bittersweet, this change in plans at the school. The fact that I got more lessons from the junior high is just great, but the extra course I got from senior high is actually taken from mom's work. Which makes me feel oddly guilty for being there. I had nothing to do with it, it's got to do with the lesson plans the principals make, but somehow I couldn't help but feel a bit bad that I'd been given that extra course. It'll be even worse, if dad's courses are cut (for a complicated school bureaucratic reason) and those end up falling to my lap. But I'm sure that won't happen, so I probably shouldn't be worrying about that in advance. Besides, I really shouldn't feel guilty at all, because I'm not the one behind the changes. Argh, it's so frustrating...

Does it seem to you that I'm a bit wound up about all of this? Yes, my thoughts exactly...

On a lighter note, then. I spent a few hours shopping in the local mall on Monday. I had dad's car for a couple of days (folks went to Stockholm) and I decided to cheer myself up on a miserably rainy day by giving my Visa a swing. I was (and to be honest, still am) in need of proper clothes for work. What's sad about it was that I went through all the shops and ended up finding only a scarf and a jacket. (I was planning on spending on shoes and jeans and slacks, too.) Darn it, I'm even a lousy shopper... :)

But that's not what I was going to confess, really. I was going to confess that I had a serious attack of "aaawwwww, how adorable" while shopping. :) No, I didn't go shopping for my future godson/daughter's clothes or anything, but instead I bumped into one of my students from the prep course.

He was one of my favorites from the course and when I noticed him in a store I just had to go and congratulate him for getting in the uni. Here's the best part, though. After very nicely thanking me for my help (first "awww"), he said there was something he'd been wondering about and wanted to ask my advice (enter the second "awww" here). He had a few questions about his minors and the student allowance and while talking with him, I felt like a big sister / guidance councellor. Here's this young man who is pondering about his future and he thinks I can be of help! (All together now: awwww!) We did chat for quite a while and when I left, I had a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and a wide smile on my face. I had mattered to this kid (well, young man, heh) and he thought I could help. Silly me, but honestly, at that moment I felt so appreciated that I could've just burst from happiness and on the other hand I felt oddly grateful, too, for some reason. Awww. :)

That's a good note to end my ramblings on this time. I think I need to go and ponder about average variable costs and such for a while more. Blech.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Nothing much

I have a rock festival going on in my back yard. Honestly, I do. Or actually, no. Not in the back yard, but in the neighbouring park. It's an annual joy, a kids' rock weekend. Which means I get to listen to all sorts of kiddie music played very loud and even some young kids performing themselves. Just a couple of hours ago I was reading my newspaper to the sound of old Finnish pop and rock songs performed by a little girl, judging by the sound she must've been something like 12 years old. Perhaps. Very endearing, but honestly, no matter who sings them, I just don't like the songs of the 1980's favourite Dingo. Urgh.

What left me wondering though, was the choice of music that was played in between the kiddie stuff. Or what would you say to the dj who played "gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight" to an audience of toddlers and pre-teens? It's not like they really understand what the song is about and they probably just enjoy (at least the older kids) the sound of more "adult" music. But still. I found it somehow a bit odd.

Went bowling last night. It was heaps of fun. This was, I think, the third time ever I tried bowling and the previous two times were in the States. Ten years ago. But seems it's a bit like riding a bike. Once you've got a hang of it, all you need is a few tries and you're back on track (on whatever track that may be). At least I didn't suck at it, because I had a few moments of triumph (four strikes, for example) and I think I may have had the best score of all of us 11 or so girls that were there. Heee. Not that I'm competitive or anything... (Well, let's see. Hmm. I think I am competitive after all. *grin*) So who's up to going bowling with me one of these days? ;)

Ah, I think I may have had something else in mind, too (although I can't remember what it may have been), but my dearest brother is coming to pick me up sometime soon and I think I need to get myself ready. He tends to inform me of his schedule within 5 minutes of his arrival. And then he's not too happy to be left waiting for long. :) In other words, gotta go.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Not something I see every day

Current events (like about ten minutes ago). Eye-witness report. Here as follows:

Here I was, studying for my exam, concentrating on the power politics of Sweden, Poland and Russia in the 17th century. In other words, minding my own business in the peace and quiet of my own bedroom.

Suddenly I hear someone bellowing "hey" outside and curious as I am, I immediately went to the window to see what was going on.

And what did I see? A police car parked in front of our house. Police officers directing traffic (including pedestrians), away from "my" street. That's odd, I thought. What on Earth for? Wuzzgoingon?

Answer came to me quite soon. They were closing down my neighbouring block and quite a stretch of street because the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, was to drive by. And how did I know this? Well, he's in town today and I live basically next door to Turku's top biotech centre plus some University facilities that the President could be visiting. And as I quickly browsed through the news from the local newspaper's website afterwards, my guess was confirmed.

So here I was, peeking from my kitchen window, when the police escort drove by, promptly followed by a huge black limo with the Russian and Finnish state flags, quite a few other big Finnish and Russian black cars, a dozen or so less luxurious vehicles and a few more police cars. Wow. Not something I see every day. :) According to the local newspaper the president travels with an entourage of about 200 people, and I suppose most of those people just passed my apartment from less than 50 metres away. Waah.

They're still redirecting traffic in the crossroads - I wonder if the whole procession will come back the same way? Maybe I should go and ask the nice police officers? Although I doubt it they'd tell me anything.

Oo, what excitement. :)