Sunday, November 29, 2009

Removing glass from under the skin (warning: really gross)

I removed a glass shard from my eyelid last night. It wasn't one of the best moments of my common sense, but it went well. This is something that is not advisable to do on your own, at 2 in the morning while being extremely drunk, but there was the damn piece of glass sticking out of my damn eyelid, and it was either remove it myself, or go to sleep with it (not an option), or try the emergency room in the middle of Saturday night during the high Christmas party season.

I've removed glass from my skin before, hundreds of shards, but those were fresh, and none of them was in my eyelid. This one had been in my eyelid for 18 years or so, until a couple of weeks ago it started to move from its habitual place outwards, for reasons unknown.

I whined about it to my friends, every one of them recommended seeing a trained professional, and for some reason (severe attack of sudden russiannness?) I failed to do so. I was sort of thinking of doing so. Next week. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Anyway, for more than a week now I had a little hole in my skin that wouldn't close and wasn't big enough to let that thing through, it was getting bigger and more uncomfortable, last night it was big enough for a little bit of glass to stick out, so I squeezed it the way you squeeze a zit (more carefully though), more glass came out, and I grabbed it and pulled. It came out, nothing is damaged, nothing is bleeding, and it sure does feel weird not to have any glass in my eyelid.

The glass came to be there 18 years ago, as a result of an accident (face, meet windshield, windshield, meet face). I was taken to the emergency room, the doctors put a couple of stitches where they were needed, disinfected everything that needed disinfecting, and let us home with an advice to use bacitracin ointment, which turned out to be rather good. (OK, there was a lot more trouble involved but it wasn't medical and is beside the point.)

When I got home and slept on it, I realized that my face was totally full of glass shards, and some of my scalp too. I wondered why the doctors did nothing about it, because they must have known they were there.

In any case I was not about to go back there. I took tweezers, washed them with vodka, and started pulling out whatever stuck out. The process was suprisingly painless and bloodless. After getting rid of everything that stuck out I realized that there is lots more under the skin, and that they are easy to find (those were the places where even a little pressure on top causes sharp pain). A very small amount of very intuitive experimenting showed that they can be squeezed out like acne, although more carefully, and that all there is to it is squeezing them from the directions where they are flat, not from the directions where they are sharp, and that it's very easy to figure out which is which.

After a few days of that work all the glass was out, except for the shard that came out last night (it was in the middle of a rather big wound which i didn't feel like squeezing). No more damage was done, because every piece came out exactly the way it came in, without cutting anything.

And here is the thing I've been wondering about all those years: how do the trained professionals go about removing small shards of glass from patients' skin? The procedure I have just described requires the person to feel what he or she is doing. Do the professionals just cut bigger holes? Do they have some special way of finding the glass and squeeze it out themselves?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I have gotten many Facebook friend invites lately, from people whose names I don't recognize. Usually I ask them "who the hell are you", but lately I was too overwhelmed even for that. (Overwhelmed by work, mind you. I am not that popular, to be overwhelmed entirely by Facebook invites.

I am trying to keep Facebook for my real-life friends and acquaintances. I also accept friend requests from Net acquaintances, and sometimes from blog fans who are friends of friends, etc, but please, people: if you are not sure I know your name, I probably don't, and if I know you as "blogger X" or "nickname Y from IRC" or "that guy who talked with me at that party and would like to talk again", please mention that in your request. I really don't know half of the real names of the people I meet on the Net.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Misery! Pain!

For a week now I have been having a project from hell and possibly-swine flu. I haven't been as miserable since, well, February.

The project is really not too bad, except that now it's late and I feel really bad about it. The flu was not really too bad either, except that I am not accustommed to fever, and except for the coughing afterwards.

As I have probably mentioned, I tend to throw up when I cough hard. And this flu was just the kind to cause severe coughs afterwards.

Basically, for a week now I have done nothing else besides working and speaking Norwegian into a big white porcelain phone. For a fucking week.

It's totally horrible. I can't sleep properly. And the difference between exploitative and nice workplace is that in an exploitative workplace they chew you out for a late project, and in a nice place they chew you out for a late project and then they chew you out again for working too much while sick.

And it's not like I am some damn work hero. I was just in no condition to do anything else. Half of what I eat comes out the same way it came in, I can't sleep properly because I wake up to the need to throw up, I don't even have the concentration to watch videos. Work, on the other hand, is something that sorely needs to be done, and something that I find cleansing in a way.

Well, complaining is cleansing as well, and here are my two complaints:

1. You can't buy any dextromethorphan in this country in the pill form. Why? Why? More importantly, why was I an idiot and forgot to buy the pills during my trip to the US? The only way to get this stuff here is the cough syrup. Do those people have any idea how hard it is to get the cough syrup down when you are already throwing up to begin with?

2. People always tell me when I am coughing. I have no idea why, but they tend to do it to everyone. Please. I know that I am coughing and that it sounds terrible. I really don't need to hear it from you. I noticed it the first 50000 times I did it, I noticed it the first 2000 times someone has commented on it today, and I noticed it the first 50 times you commented on it during the last hour. Please stop. Please. There really is nothing you can do, nor I. And yes, I have seen a doctor. A number of the fuckers, actually. They have stuff for various condition, but there is nothing they can really do for a person who coughs louder than most and tends to throw up while doing so.

This commenting is a strange phenomenon, really, not limited to me, but for some reason limited to coughing. People don't comment half as much when you just throw up. Or fart.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From Ilkka's keyboard to God's eyes?

Some kinds of development is not very hard to predict, but it's still very funny when somebody predicts something and the next day it happens.

Yesterday Ilkka mentioned that "there is a serious fracture hidden inside the progressive vanguard, lying in wait between the urban SWPL types and the green eco-activists".

Today, the nuts actually decided to separate themselves from the granola.

This is the page I saw on a few IRC channels and considered a joke until I noticed that Vihreä Lanka is linking to it as the actual program of the new party.

To quote a few:

Kaikki vihreän etiikan ja maailmankatsomuksen muodot sallitaan, kunhan ne kaikki ovat liikkeessä alisteisia syväekologiselle ekosentristiselle holismille.

Me hyväksymme kaikki toiminnan muodot vallitsevaa järjestelmää vastaan, niillä jokaisella on aikansa ja paikkansa.

Olemme linkolalaisia ja paloheimolaisia, olemme primitivistejä ja kommunalisteja sekä sosiaaliekologeja. Me olemme ekobolshevikkeja ja ekoanarkisteja, ekokonservatiivivallankumouksellisia ja ekososialisteja. Olemme ekofeministejä, ekouskonnollisia, ekonihilistejä, ekohumanisteja, ekosyndikalisteja, survivalisteja ja eläinoikeustaistelijoita.

Vallitseva ryösteliäs maailmanjärjestys, tämä koko ihmiskunnan kuolonmarssille pakottanut kaikenmurhaava sivilisaatiomme, huutaa päällensä oikeutettua kostoa. On lyötävä alas tämä koko vanha maailma.

Jos Linkola olisi kuollut, hän kääntyisi haudassaan.

Ihmisten on avattava silmänsä; aikamme tuhon ideologia ei ole uusliberalismi, vaan liberalismi yleensä.

Reformismipyyteistä irtisanoutuminen tarkoittaa, että jätämme aikaa vievän, työlään ja tarkoituksettoman parlamenttipelleilyn vähämielisempien koikkelehtijoiden temmellyskentäksi.

Emme aio myöskään siis hirttää itseämme naurettavaan legalismin ohjenuoraan. Käytännön vaatimukset, käytettyjen keinojen toimivuus päämäärien saavuttamisessa sanelevat toiminnan muodon. Jos päämäärä ei pyhitä keinoja, niin mikä sitten?

Suora toiminta on radikaaleimmissa muodoissaan suuressa määrin "ulkoistettava" autonomisille soluille31 ja yhteistyökumppaneille.

Äärimmäisen tarpeellista on myös luopua ns. positiivisen eli aktiivisen47 omistusoikeuden periaatteesta,48 ja siirtyä passiivisen omistusoikeuden periaatteeseen. Omistaminen ei siis ole luovuttamaton sisäsyntyinen ja automaattinen perusoikeus,49 vaan omistuksessa on kysymys siitä että toistaiseksi annetaan jonkun jotakin omistaa, sikäli mikäli siitä ei ole kokonaisuudelle haittaa.

Rikokset elonkehää ja tulevia sukupolvia kohtaan tulee tuomita mitä drakonisimman käytännön mukaan. Tämä oikeus ei tunnusta kansallisia rajoja. Mikäli kumousvalta tulee Suomessa voimaan, on se velvoitettu tätä oikeutta levittämään ja toimeenpanemaan myös rajojemme ulkopuolella.

Kaupunkien (sikäli mikäli niitä päätetään ylläpitää) tulee lakata olemasta ravinnontuotannollisesti katsoen loiskasvaimia. Niiden on kyettävä tuottamaan itse merkittävä osa ravinnostaan. Koulut, työpaikat ja kotitaloudet/taloyhtiöt tulee ottaa mukaan ravinnontuotantoon.

Imperialismin Suuri Saatana, Yhdysvallat, elonkehän suurin vihollinen on kurkottanut kuolettavat lonkeronsa yltympäriinsä rakasta palloamme näiden.

Nykyistä liberaalidemokratiaa voimme ainakin pitää kuoleman uskontona.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Please, people, put the Misanthrope Supreme back where he crawled out of

"Writer and fisherman Pentti Linkola is of the opinion that having children is the greatest environmental crime,", writes Antti Manninen in Helsingin Sanomat.

Damn, how can a journalist miss such a chance to be snarky? It should be "writer, fisherman and a father of two Pentti Linkola...", for the man who wants everyone else to die is still alive at 76, and certainly has not kept his dick in his pants, nor even in a condom.

The man is pure and unadulterated evil - the kind of evil that you laugh at as too much over the top when you see it in the movies. For those who are not familiar with him - he is a sort of environmentalist version of Fred Phelps, whose basic idea is "kill everybody, they are bad for the environment" and who rejoices every time there is a bombing or a tsunami or some other disaster somewhere.

The main difference is that Baptists are in general rather embarrassed about Phelps. Environmentalists, OTOH, are not nearly as embarrassed about Linkola - oh well, many of them are, but not near enough.

Linkola, of course, wants a dictatorship. (I assume he means the kind where he or somebody with similar opinions is the dictator and bans everything and kills lots of people who go to malls or own cars or something, not the kind of dictatorship where I am the queen of the world and all the "let's reduce the numbers of humanity by poisoning water supply" types are rounded up and summarily executed on the first day.)

That, BTW, is one of the answers to the question jmk asked me in the comments to the previous post: a lot of people are fond of Communism and other dictatorships because it provides a sweet fantasy of power: a dictatorship tends to elevate at least one Linkola to Pol Pot, which is a pretty nice deal if you are in fact the person who gets the power. The brighter ones remember what happened to all the candidates who did not get to be Pol Pot, and enjoy the fantasy of power from afar; the dumber ones get to be the bones in the killing fields; the really lucky dumb one gets to be Pol Pot. But I digress...

Anyway, Linkola is luckily not Pol Pot, has never been elected to any position of power and - thank God for small favors - is not even insane enough to go postal. I don't really care why he is the way he is. Homicidal misanthropic maniacs, including ones who don't go as far as actual homicide, do happen in the population. What I want to know why media tends to write about him as if he were somebody sane. I mean, a lot of media write about Phelps, but they always make it quite clear that they know the guy is a complete nutcase.

HS says that Linkola was interviewed in the magazine called Responsible Influential Person. Do they even realize how much red wine hurts going through your nose? That's the last time I am ever drinking anything while reading HS.

Just how desperate the people in the Responsible Influential Person are? Why are they interviewing the guy? Was Mugabe unavailable? Fidel Castro too old to give an interview? Ahmadinejad refused to talk to them?

If you as much comment on the sexual tastes of some group's prophet, you end up in court. You say you want to kill Jews, Muslims, Christians, blacks, whites, gays, heterosexuals - you will get convicted, and for a good reason. But try to incite people to commit what would be in effect crimes against humanity, and not only don't you get dragged to court, you get interviewed by supposedly serious magazines and idolized by the lunatic fringe of environmentalism.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Wall

I remember when it fell down. It was sort of a shock, even though a very pleasant one.

Nothing much happened to the Soviet system during my childhood, at least not as far as I could see. Brezhnev was the fearless leader when I was born; Andropov and Chernenko and the Gorbachev succeeded him. The adults could see subtle differences and occasionally pointed them out, but they were potentialities, not anything immediately obvious, especially not to a child. The only thing that was obvious was the stuff disappearing from the stores: when I was 5 or 6 there were occasional long lines for salami and toilet paper; when I was 10 or so the lines disappeared completely along with the salami and the toilet paper (you could still find both if you knew the right people, but there was none in the stores).

One more thing that we didn't have was immigrants. I'd never seen a single one during my 16 years in Russia. There were tourists, lots of them. I heard there were students from Africa and Vietnam, and I heard that sometimes they stayed, but I'd never seen any that stayed. There were people on business trips, diplomats, and sometimes exchange teachers for a few weeks of months. Probably exchange students, too, but I'd never met any. I'd heard there were some Communist immigrants from the West in the 30s and 50s, I'd heard what had befallen them after arriving in Russia, and didn't wonder why didn't get any new immigrants after that.

The closest I'd ever seen to immigrants were the folks who were born in Poland and didn't manage to get out when Russia annexed their part of Poland, and Laura. Laura was an Italian woman who was married to a Japanese man who was stationed as a representative of some company in Leningrad and Helsinki for a couple of years. The man commuted between the two cities all the time; Laura chose Leningrad because she was a student of Russian and wished to practice; needless to say, she wasn't planning on staying there, wasn't eating what normal people ate, or using the local public transportation, or standing in lines for anything, but she was the only actual live foreigner sitting in the yard of my grandparents' apartment building and talking to us, ever.

I never wondered why we didn't have any immigrants. In fact I'd have been very surprised if we had, considering what kind of a shithole the place was. (OK, now I know there is also North Korea, but at the time I was unsure of exactly how bad it was, and in any case suspected that all the evil countries probably return the defectors to each other.)

One thing I didn't quite understand was the existence of Communists in the West. I knew there were some because they sold the newspapers printed by the Western Communist parties in Russia; the newspapers were not in my opinion proper Communist newspapers; I suspected the whole thing was some kind of a money scam (people getting money from Russia to print newspapers that occasionally praised it).

We left Russia in April. One week later, on May 1st, we saw a small Communist demonstration in the streets of Vienna. The realization that those people were there entirely voluntarily, without anyone threatening them or offering them toilet paper or an extra day off work was stunning. "They are insane," offered an older neighbor for an explanation. I was a innocent young girl then, at least in some ways, and wondered why they don't move to Russia. "Not that insane," suggested the neighbor.

In the US we had a history teacher who was a Communist. He often used to tell the five Russian students in his class how we don't understand in what a great country we used to live. We usually responded with a suggestion what he should move there and find out how great it is for real. Strangely, he never did.

I was not entirely sure at the time why Western people become Communists, and in fact am not quite sure of it now (I do have some idea though), but one thing I firmly knew by the age of 16 was that not a single one of the fuckers ever moved to the thrice-befucked workers' paradise! (At least not after the Communists killed the last crop of movers. See? Even Communists can learn!)

But anyways, the Wall. It was sweet. God, it was so sweet. I felt a slight pang of regret at not witnessing its fall in person, even though by that time I was quite aware that historical events are best observed at a safe distance.

The teacher (who was not our teacher that year, but anyway) was absolutely livid. I probably shouldn't be mean to him, but at that moment I lacked other Communists to be mean to (life was terrible before the Net). The man looked like he was about to personally run to the Home Depot for building materials to keep that wall up.

I don't think he ever did that either.

If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck... just might be a fucking duck!

Seriously: yes, of course, a guy named Nidal might go postal just like a guy named John. (Hmm, Nidal, it means struggle in Arabic. At least they didn't name him Jihad.) Besides, being a soldier, a Muslim and a psychiatrist at the same time might be kind of hard on a person's mental health (no offense to people who are any of the above).

Still: according to quite a lot of sources, the man praised suicide bombers, was disciplined for preaching Islam to the patients, handed out Korans before starting his shooting spree, listened to the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, and screamed "Allahu Akbar" while shooting. What does it take to figure out what his motives were? Should Al-Qaeda print membership cards, or sell t-shirts?

Somehow it didn't take the media half as much time to figure out Sodini's motives.

Of well, Nidal Malik Hasan is alive, we'll see what he has to say. Maybe I should start a guessing game:

1. "Allahu Akbar!"
2. "Oops, sorry. Eek."
3. "Well, I was in such a state of shock that I completely blacked out; I can't remember a thing."
4. "Texas is occupying Palestinian land!"
5. "I totally need a lawyer!"
6. "Jews made me do it."

Citizenship: the process

First of all, forget about whether the residence requirement is 5 years or 6. It was 5 until 2003; then they made it 6; now they are planning to make it 5 again. The difference is not essential in comparison to other things: when the required residence period starts, and whether or not it can be interrupted.

The law of 2003 allowed the possibility of interrupted residence: you can apply after 6 years of continuous residence, of after accruing 8 years of residence during your lifetime. The new one reduces those to 5 and 7.

More importantly: the law of 2003, and the previous one as well, counted as residence only A-permit and permanent permit residence - you could live all your life here on a B-permit and never be eligible to apply for the citizenship. (I won't do into A- and B-statuses here; enough to say that the student and temporary workers get B, and some of the permanent workers get B for the first 2 years.)

In 2007 a court found a bug in the law, and after that everything started counting as residence. This was in fact quite unprecedented: there are other countries that count temporary-status residence for citizenship eligibility, but AFAIK Finland is currently the only one that also gives citizenship to people still living on temporary status.

The new law is a compromise: it will count half of the B-status time towards the citizenship, but will allow people to apply for citizenship only after they got A-status.

That, BTW, is why I only got the citizenship now. I have lived in Finland for about 14 years, the last 8 of them continuously, but since I was a student, a temporary worker, and for the first 2 years of the last 8 a B-status permanent worker, I only became eligible to apply after the 2007 court decision (if not for it, I would only be eligible to apply 4 weeks from now).

Anyway, once the Immigration Service mentioned the court decision sometime it March, the rest was easy. I signed up for the language test. I cannot really comment on the level of the test, because instead of signing up for the medium level (the one for the people who want the citizenship) I signed up for the high level (the one for people with stupid macho tendencies who want to pay extra 45 euro or so and take a harder test for a piece of paper they'll never use). It had 6 parts of varying difficulty - more about it later. I got 6 (the highest grade) on every one of them. Go me!

With the test result, 400 euro and a filled application I went to the immigration police sometime in early May. Yesterday I got a letter with two pieces of paper. One of them said "you are a Finnish citizen now". The other said "go to the immigration police and have them cancel your residence permit, a citizen is not supposed to have one".

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I guess they give the citizenship to pretty much anyone now. Even me.

Whee! After 14 years in the country, 400 euro and one language test, I am finally a citizen!

I am quite happy and still a bit incredulous. It only took the Immigration Service 6 months, I was expecting 12.

Answers to the common questions:

- yes, of course I am still a US citizen as well,
- no, this doesn't affect my taxes and/or social entitlements in either country,
- I am so looking forward to doing my part in voting Keskusta out of power in 2011.

I'll write more about the whole process later.