Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Some people never learn

An old computer of mine is here, running both Windows (poor defiled thing) and Linux (SuSE 7.3, to be exact). Being the kind of person who never learns from bitter experience and has a very strong OS-updating instinct I saw it as an opportunity to upgrade the thing to SuSE 8.2.

As the result it fell apart in every fundamental way, the BIOS is very obviously broken and so is possibly the motherboard. The motherboard was so ancient that it had probably been used by cavewomen to bash each other's heads in.

Oska came to see my efforts and their unfortunate results, and insulted my intelligence, common sense and moral character, as well as SuSE's both versions, Linus Torvalds, Athlon, the makers of the motherboard, the makers of the BIOS, the makers of the motherboards' battery, and for some reason the two presidential candidates although they surely had nothing to do with it. His battle cry was "now I'll reinstall Windows and everything is gonna be OK", but in the end even he was forced to admit that we have a hardware problem. He is a hardware engineer and tends to blame everything on the software.

Now we gotta get a new motherboard, and probably a new processor and memory as the current ones are ancient too.


Visited Anya on Monday. It was the first time I went to her current place by subway, and it wasn't so bad, just 25 minutes or so from Park Street. I'd never taken the red line so far south, but it did not turn out to be scary in the manner of orange line. She does not live too far away from the subway station, either.

Her neighborhood in Quincy has only Asian people in the streets and everything is written in Chinese. The local businesses offer their customers unlimited opportunity to practice both Mandarin and Cantonese. Cool.

Anya is very severely pregnant and looks really funny - she is small and thin and her stomach is so big that it's unclear how she stays upright. She is fed up with being pregnant and want the baby to be born already, but it still isn't. I suggested we should promise to show it the Ropecon, it worked for Kristel's baby.

We caught up on some news, but this is like a drop in the ocean. Gonna see her again today, if she is not too busy giving birth.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Visited grandma yesterday and today. Yesterday she told me that I am too fat and that my hair is ugly only once each, so I figured she was really sick. Today she called me a fat cow 17 times (definitely getting better), insulted my work and my salary twice (good), but forgot to mention how much she dislikes my hair even once (still clearly sick). She also forgot to mention how bad my clothes are, and to insult my sex life.

Hair and sex life are good indicators: she always insults those regardless of their actual condition.

No rest for the wicked

It's great to see everyone - well, almost everyone - but it's not particularly relaxing. Everyone seems to be stressed out, and it is contagious. I always forget how different from home it is. My home is well-lit, silent and messy, my parents' is dark, noisy and fairly clean. The TV is always on as a background noise, and the phone rings all the time, and people are screaming all the time (not at each other in a hostile way, just "you have a phone call!", "where the hell are you?", " did anybody see the plunger?!", etc.) Benka in particular has a habit of screaming just to summon somebody just in order to ask the summonned person where they were and what they were doing at the moment. It's quite annoying to have to jump out of the toilet upon hearing horrible screaming just to hear "hey, what are you doing right now?".

I have given up the struggle against noise and am concentrating on the struggle for light. For whatever reason, I find well-lit rooms pleasant, and dark rooms somewhat tiring to be in. My parents apparently do not share the feeling. Oska is trying to keep the minimal lighting for reason of having no need for more; I tried to explain to him that I do, in fact, have need for more; Oska generously informed me that I may indeed keep the lights on if I am such a depressive psycho who is obviously in need of professional help. Oska has an unfortunate tendency to consider any emotion that is alien to him to be a sign of mental disease, and himself the shining standard of psychological health.

But enough of parent-bashing for today. I like the buggers anyway; and they probably have even worse stories to tell about me, but I have a blog and they don't, so there.

Aunt Lyuda and suicidal squirrels

Got to Boston late on Saturday night. Saw aunt Lyuda from San Francisco (no relation to earlier-mentioned L) who was staying over at my parents' place. She is always very nice to see, too bad I don't see her very often (last time was 3 years ago, I believe). Looks really great for her age, too - I know of several movie stars who should be envious.

In the morning we went to drive her to the airport, and on the way saw dozens and dozens of dead squirrels on the highway and in the streets. Usually there is one or at most two. Have no idea what has caused so many squirrels to cross the roads and get run over by cars. A squirrel mass suicide cult? Sudden belief in the great bright future on the other side? They were crossing every which way.

Monday, September 27, 2004

"But they went the long way, and saw the elephant."

Been in London on Saturday, went to the Natural History Museum and saw a lot of stuffed elephants and other wonders. The Natural History Museum is an amazing place and probably the biggest and richest museum of natural history I'd ever seen, but it's not that much better than the one in Brussels and, unlike the one in Brussels, is overrun by an incredible number of families with ill-behaved children. The little monsters scream at the top of their lungs and have no concept of queuing, keeping their hands to themselves or self-preservation. Terry Pratchett's words "disqualified from the human race for shoving" came to my mind many times. Still, the visit was well worth it.

After the museum I went to Camden town in the hope of seeing no more children, and there really wasn't any. Camden town is a place full of young adults and small shops that sell shoes, jewelry, drug paraphernalia, magic mushrooms, souvenirs, scarves and scary pants. The place is really fun to stroll around in, although the shopping in expensive and not very good. They only things I would have possibly wanted to buy there were shoes, and I couldn't buy any shoes I liked since they definitely would have not been allowed on a plane as would have been considered a deadly weapon, and probably you need a tractor driver's license to wear that kind of shoes anyway.

Then I went to hang out in Leicester Square and to Chinatown, which was full of cute young guys, unlike Boston's Chinatown, which is usually full of senior citizens who look like they were not particularly pretty when they were young, either.

The morning flight had a screaming small child sitting in the row of seats behind me. The thing was screeching so horribly I sometimes wondered the windows did not shatter. Several times I turned around and gave it a glare of death that was meant to make it understand that screaming is not a good survival strategy right now, but it did not help. On the evening flight, OTOH, there was a nice couple sitting next to me who turned out to be as child-hating as I am, and we spent the flight in a pleasant conversation about whether children are at their best with garlic sauce or brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Friday, September 24, 2004

- common sense
- concentration
- underwear
- the latest credit card bill (although already paid so no big problem)

- passport and tickets
- keys
- several driver's licences
- Shaw's and Stop and Shop's cards
- 84 pairs of socks, and 131 unpaired one
- 3 bottles of Polar
- at least 6 jars of garlic stems
- 19 US dollars
- phone bill
- at least 20 empty soda bottles

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Who stole all my underwear? Confess now, you cowardly bastards!

Probably Al Qaeda.

Why are there cans of garlic stems all around? I was supposed to buy only 3. Did underwear somehow mysteriously turn into garlic stem cans?

Am I gonna be in trouble with the fucking stems? The customs' web page says they are OK, but I don't believe the customs officers read their webpage too often. Am surely gonna be arrested as an evildoer and sent to Gitmo. Or at least will be suspected of doing stem cell research.

Where the hell is everything?

Managed to apply hair color to my hair, which probably means that am not going to pass out before washing it off. Now gotta find all the unpaid bills lying around the place and pay them.

I need a vacation

Sorry for the old familiar topic, but I really need a vacation. Right fucking now. Can't concentrate on anything at all, even masturbation, and am constantly in a silly mood, which is, this blog nonwithstanding, not normal for me.

Can't really do anything either. Came home a bit after 7 with the intention of cleaning my place and packing a suitcase, and have not been able to do either, or anything else for that matter. Ate something; mostly just sat and stared into space; managed to collect empty coke bottles (an amazing amount for a person who never buys coke) into a plastic bag.

I have a feeling that if I am at work one day longer I will take all my clothes off, put some Russian disco music on and run naked along the hall, emitting terrifying battle cries, waving a banana like a spear and pinching horrified coworkers on the ass, albeit in a fairly nonagressive way.

Hark! Who is that, striding along the hallway! It is Vera, hands clutching a huge banana! She roars thunderously:

"I'm going to fuck you until you are unable to sit properly!!"

(OK, coworkers, don't get scared. I'll pull myself together and try to write that one document instead. Or, failing that, write something improper on usenet. Promise to keep my clothes on and bananas in the store, seriously.)

Matches in the toilet

Somebody keeps burning matches in our toilet. It does not smell like they are burning anything else, although if they burned wood or paper it would smell the same.

Wonder who is burning what and why. Maybe that makeup import company across the hall from us is really a secret document burning company. They are evildoers, I just know it. Making the toilet smell like this is certainly evil.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A modern computer

50 years ago a group of scientists created a model of what a home computer would look like in 2004. Wow, gotta get me one of these! They even put in a steering wheel for car games.

Car-free day

Today is the car-free day in Helsinki, which makes me feel like driving a car. This is a bit strange since I feel no such urge during the other 364 days of the year, unless of course I happen to be somewhere where there is not enough public transportation. My car is usually parked in my parents' backyard, where there is not enough public transportation (I mean in the area, of course - I don't really expect public transportation to run around my parents' backyard), and I drive it when I visit them.

Opponents of cars and driving usually (not all of them) irritate me, because they tend to live in or near the downtown, where you really don't need a car, and apparently either believe that everybody lives in downtown, or that people who live in the middle of nowhere do not need cars. I can even understand the opinion that people shouldn't live in the middle of nowhere to begin with, but most of those protesters don't really believe that.

Driving itself, on the other hand, irritates me because looking for a parking space is annoying and you can't read a book while driving like you can in a bus.

I don't really care about the environment, but I care a lot about my convenience (and to a much lesser degree other people's, too) and therefore am concerned about having enough oil for me to fly places every time I feel like it, which is quite often, and having enough parking spaces for people who really need them, which IMO usually means that most people in cities, myself included, should use public transportation.

That is a general problem in the US (and one of the reasons I moved out of there): if you have a city where most of the people drive every day, you have a problem, because there is never enough space for all the cars. Spreading the city out does not help any, you just get longer distances and less area covered by the public transportation. I wish we could do something about it, but I don't know what can be done at this point, with the suburban sprawl already being as big as it is.

Nice people, and hot chocolate with rum.

Had some rum hot chocolate with Leena before the movie. She has a bit of a flu, so I convinced her that rum hot chocolate would help or at least would take her mind off it.

Met Jarkko at the movie, invited him for a cup of hot chocolate too. It's been many months since I'd seen him and almost two years since the last drinking together (it was sake, I believe). Was nice to see him again.

He'd cut his hair short in order to avoid being taken for a tree-hugging bunny-loving New Age guy. I did not quite have the heart to tell him that it wasn't the hair, but rather all the tree hugging and bunny loving that gave people the idea. (And get your minds out of the gutter: Jarkko loves bunnies in the sense of caring for their well-being, and not in the same steamy erotic way in which Osama, for example, loves camels.)

Would like to have a drink with him again in some foreseeable future (which probably means sometime this year). Maybe this time we'll drink sake.

Hmm, probably should have some sake with Anya next week, too. If she is able to. Or tea, if not.

Shit, and I thought I'd seen everything (Running on karma)

Saw Running on Karma yesterday. I'd thought I'd seen everything, but that movie treated me to a view of Andy Lau with huge fake muscles like Schwarzenegger's but a lot bigger, which was a sight too terrifying for any human being to behold. The shock was not helped any by the fact the he was totally naked several times in the movie, and also by his acting, which imitated Conan the Barbarian so many times that I started wondering whether he was speaking Cantonese with an Austrian accent, too.

For those who don't know, Andy Lau is a pocket-sized Chinese guy with pretty eyes and fairly nice-looking face, who also happens to be a pretty good actor when he is not trying to imitate Conan the Barbarian. Just imagine putting twice Schwarzenegger's muscles on a man half Schwarzenegger's size. Or, better yet, don't imagine.

Ok, if you are curious, there are pics in this review, but remember that this information in on a want to know basis only, and you really, really don't want to know.

As you have probably noticed I have suffered a profound psychological trauma and am surely going to see nightmares for the rest of my life. Bugger.

Other than that, the movie was unremarkable. It was not boring in any way, but I just don't see any point in it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Beauty preferences, again

From the comments on the last entry on the same topic and from some live- and irc-conversations I figure most people's preferences don't change a lot over their lifetime. I wonder where the preferences come from, and how much of them are genetic.

Some things are sort of obvious, like the preferences for youth and health and strength and fertility, although with these I wonder about the existence of the people who do not prefer at least some of them - for example where do the women who do not prefer tall men come from? Or the men who prefer extremely thin or extremely fat women?

What is more interesting is how less survival-essential preferences come to be. What makes people select for a particular hair color, eye color, shape of the nose/mouth/cheekbones, hairy skin vs. smooth skin, etc.? How do preferences for unnatural things such as hairless faces on men and short hair appear?

I always found it a bit strange that people tend to have a strong preference for a body type, but I suppose it's me who is weird in paying so much attention to faces and so little to bodies. I have a sort of body preference - about 170-175cm tall and quite thin - but it's not a problem for me if a man is a lot thinner/fatter/taller/shorter than that. As opposed to, say, having a wrong kind of cheekbones, or way too much body hair. This face-centeredness unfortunately makes me very aware of how fleeting beauty is - it takes a lot to change one's body, but a very good-looking face can be made less-than-average-looking simply by failing to shave it for two months.


I think I'll actually learn it this time. Dragging myself to class in the middle of the night is much easier when I know Sini is there too, and yesterday's lesson was made so much more pleasant by the teacher explaining to us what various parts of characters mean by themselves.

The tones and the sibilants are a source of pain and suffering, but I think I'll manage.

Trying to learn Cantonese in parallel with Mandarin sometimes helps and sometimes interferes.

Krav Maga

Managed to get to Krav Maga more or less regularly last week and this one, and once again am convinced that the morning classes are better then the evening ones.

Practiced getting out of various holds last week. Realized that Krav Maga is not designed to repel an attacker with huge tits who grabs you from behind at about the waist level so that your hands are pinned to your body. They teach you to hit people in the balls in that situation, but if the people have very big tits it's quite impossible to reach their balls from that position. Of course, most of the people who have huge tits don't have any balls to begin with, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't kick them there.

Today practiced sparring (went pretty well, considering...) and various fun and games with baseball bats. I have a nice fingerprint of one of the sparring partners on the inside of my arm now. Also my foot hurts from kicking one guy in the balls. Apparently he had a metal ball protector, because the sound was much like ringing a church bell.

I wonder how come the guys who fight in the streets for fun do not use ball protectors?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Infernal Affairs

Finally saw parts 2 and 3. They were quite good. 2 was similar to 1, plot and pacing every bit as good as in 1, acting not quite as good due to having worse actors. 3 was a bit different due to jumping in time (it's an immediate prequel and sequel to 1, describing various events of the same year, and it's not always easy to figure out what happened before and what after 1) and also due to the fact that some of the events happen only in characters' heads. 3 had the same actors as 1 (Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Andy Lau) and in addition to that Chen Daoming and Leon Lai, who is a noticeably weaker actor than the other three, and it showed.

2 works perfectly fine even if you haven't seen 1. 3 relies heavily on 1 and has some references to 2.

The worse mistake of the whole trilogy was to get young actors (Edison Chen and Shawn Yue) to play young Ming and Yan. This is somewhat annoying in 1 and severely annoying in 2; in 3, thank god, we don't see them much. To begin with, Chen and Yue don't look anything like Lau and Leung. Makeup technology is fairly good now; you should not have to get different actors to play characters when they are only 10 years younger than in part 1. I think the problem might be that Ming and Yan are supposed to be much younger than their respective actors, Lau and Leung, even in part 1 - for example Ming and Yan are in their early thirties, they are played by actors in their early forties, but the makers of the movie don't quite have the nerve to make the same actors play them in their early twenties. Sorry, but if your actors are that much younger than their characters, you should either make the characters older or get younger actors. As it is, it looked horrible. I would much rather suspend my disbelief in pretending that Leung and Lau are 20 in a proper light and makeup, than suspend my disbelief in pretending that Yan in 2002 can be played by Leung (looking his own age) and Yan in 1997 can be played by Yue (also looking his own age, which is 20 years younger) who does not resemble Leung in any way.

Well, that's it for the rant. Chen and Yue are not bad as such, especially Chen. They are not nearly as good as the big actors, but they'll learn.

Chen Daoming was a very nice surprise, as was Carina Lau. I can't remember the last time I saw her not wielding a sword or some other sharp implement.

Hollywood is remaking Infernal Affairs (1, I assume) with white people, so that poor little audiences wouldn't have to look at Asians, especially Cantonese-speaking ones. An R&A guy was spreading a rumor that Pitt and DiCaprio were offered roles but couldn't manage divide them since both wanted to play Yan and neither wanted to play Ming, and Pitt left. Don't know if the rumor is true, but at least it's funny, so here.

Male beauty, again

Jukka asked whether women's tastes in men's looks change with time, and I decided that the topic merits its own entry.

To put it simply, can't say about other women, but for myself I can say no, at least not a lot. I still like pretty much the same things as I liked when I was 5. Some adjustments, however, happened during these years:

1. I've seen a lot more, therefore learned to want more and better. In particular, long-haired and Asian men (not necessarily in combination) are a lot more available to me (both to have sex with and just to look at) in Boston and/or Helsinki than they were back then in St. Petersburg. Not that I even particularly want Asian as opposed to white, but it sure was nice to try. Also, as a teenager I liked a particular kind of facial features. I still like the same, except that now I noticed that they are also sometimes available in a more intense and exaggerated version, at least in Finland.

2. I used to prefer black hair, which was not very constructive, since the facial features/eyes/skin that I like tends to occur mostly in combination with blond and light brown hair. At 18, after realizing that while I find bluish black hair pretty, most of the actual men that I fancy are blond, I decided to face up to the fact that I like blond guys. Don't care about hair color at all now.

3. Some features that used to be neutral to begin with became attractive during the years, simply because they were on men whom I found otherwise attractive and were available to my eyes, and occasionally other organs, on the regular basis. For example very light skin and golden freckles on shoulders. (I can almost imagine the owner of said freckles giggling while reading this.)

4. There used to be some peer (or rather older female relative) pressure influence, not enough to actually influence my taste but enough to make me apologize for it. That disappeared years ago when I told the relatives to stuff it. The pressure was applied especially against short men and men with somewhat upturned noses. I tend not to mind the former and to actively like the latter.

That said, now I am really curious how other people's preferences for the looks of potential sex partners have changed or failed to change with years. Please comment.

Blogger broken again?

On Saturday it ate my entry, and last night the entries came out in order different from the order in which they were written.

Lost embrace (El abrazo partido)

While seeing disfunctional Jewish families in somewhat-poor surroundings has a certain nostalgic value for me (no offence to any of my relatives, including the ones who tried to sell that old Zaporozhets to each other), I am not sure I can recommend it to perfectly innocent Finnish people. There is, however, some very definite entertainment value in this movie even for people without much experience with families that are either disfunctional, or Jewish, or both. Characters and dialogues are funny. Cinematography, OTOH, is so annoying that this is the first movie in many years that's I'd recommend seeing on DVD rather than on a movie screen. The movements of the camera gave me a headache.

Not for or against (Ni pour, ni contre)

Oh! Oooh! The best French movie I'd seen in a while, and a truly fine heir to the French crime comedy tradition. Was truly a great pleasure, and the best thing I'd seen at this festival so far. Want a DVD right now.


Was mostly at Rakkautta ja Anarkiaa-festival lately. I think it's a stupid name for the festival,but the festival itself is usually good. Gonna write about some movies, there will be a bit of spoilers but not a lot.

Walk on Water

Went to see it just because I liked Eytan Fox's previous movie, and surely am going to see his next movie as well. Fox seems to specialize in somewhat amusing and weird characters. This movie is about a surly heterosexual Israeli and a cheerful homosexual German who get to hang out together when the Israeli is given the assignment to find the German's Nazi grandfather. The movie is not a comedy, but both guys are hilarious. Hanging out together makes them learn stuff from each other, although whether this is an improvement on either of them is questionable. Liked it a lot, want a DVD when it comes out.

Azumi and social life

All the ingredients were kind of bad, except for cute Japanese guys, but the final result was still quite entertaining. It's a movie about medieval assasins with a teenage girl assasin as the main character. I expected much better martial art action, but did not get it.

The actress playing the main character was not convincing in any way. She was not a good actress, not particularly pretty, and, worst of all, quite unconvincing as a swordswoman. Was still fun to watch.

Ran into Kikka and Tane there. Had been looking forward to a quiet evening by myself, having had too few of those lately, but the temptation to invite them over proved overwhelming. Did not get any decent rest but had a very nice evening in good company, and suddenly felt very fortunate to have them, in the sense of knowing a number of people who are not my close friends whom I see on a regular basis, but who are wonderful people and whom I like well enough to invite them over on a night when I feel tired and unsociable, and who manage to make it a happy night for me. Thanks you guys for existing.

Sorry for being somewhat incoherent.

Adventures of the Iron Pussy

The first Thai movie I'd ever seen. Atrocious image quality due to a very low budget. An action comedy; expected more action, turned out to be more of a comedy, and a bit of a musical. Nice soundtrack. Lots of great lines, from Buddha's sound advice to the protagonist "be focused, be good, and always exercise" to one character's "who is this girl so smartly dressed for the occasion?" when a woman on huge heels shows up to save the day.

Noticed that a lot of people in the audience do not seem to understand the conventions of a musical and start to laugh when characters start singing to each other. As opposed to not laughing when soundtrack music starts playing out of nowhere without having any in-game sourse of music.


Went to see Gozu on Friday. It turned out to be in Japanese without subtitles. At first the audience just giggled, then some people went to find Someone and tell them about the absence of subtitles, and about 20 minutes after the beginning it was announced that the only copy they have indeed has no subtitles, and that we can go or stay, but we'll get free tickets for that anyway.

Kalle (not Killeri, the other one) and I decided to stay. Didn't understand a lot. I understood most of the grammatical particles and several forms of the verb "to be", which was linguistically delightful but not conductive to the understanding of the movie.

The movie was rather tasteless, which is why I went to see it in the first place, and fairly surrealistic in a way that I did not like. From what Kalle said I am not likely to like other Takashi Miike's movies either. I love movie violence when it is fast, involves kicks, guns or swords and makes blood flow all over the screen; I don't care much to see slow torture in horror and semihorror movies, at least not most of the time.

R&A tried to compensate everyone with free tickets, but they should understand that a festival is an event where people see a limited amount of movies in a limited amount of time, and if you run out either of time or of interesting movies there is not a lot of use for a free ticket. Using my usual intimidation techniques I got my money back and posted about it on an R&A forum to encourage other people to do the same; maybe I should get some official opinion from the consumer protection office and post it somewhere for everyone to see.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Saudi Arabia and religious freedom

According to Reuters, Saudis are saying that being put on the blacklist of the countries with no religious freedom was politically motivated and not a reflection of the actual situation. They got it backwards: the fact that they hadn't been put on the list before that is politically motivated. They have belonged on the list ever since they and the list existed. The fact that they are being listed there now for the first time just shows how many human rights violations our leaders are willing to disregard for political reasons.

'"I can't say Saudi Arabia is the freest country. But it is the cradle of Islam. Are they proposing to have churches or synagogues or Buddhist temples here?" said Abdulaziz al-Fayez, a member of Saudi Arabia's consultative Shura Council. '

"Is it all right for Israel to say their state must be a Jewish state -- and then criticize a Muslim state for being Muslim? That's hypocrisy," said Khalid Dakhil, professor of political sociology at Riyadh's King Saud University.

I can only imagine the howling that would rise from Saudi Arabia if Israel, being the cradle of Judaism, banned all mosques. Also if Greece and Italy, being the cradles of Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism respectively, did the same. Saudis seem very generous in donating money for mosque construction in predominantly Christian countries.

"All Saudis are Muslims and this is a Muslim state," said Abdulaziz al-Fayez. Therefore, apparently, its subjects don't need freedom to practice other religions. What if a subject decides to convert to another religion? No problem, they've got death penalty for that, after which the person will, again, have very little need for religious freedom.

They don't even mention little things like Moslems who practice a different brand of Islam from the officially sanctioned one. Shiites and other horrible heretics, you know. They are doing fine - at least being a Shiite is not punished by death.

The brave new TKTL

I am still sort of not quite well, which causes me to miss many nonessential activities, but this morning I managed to drag my ass to the new building of the Department of the Computer Science to listen to Lasu's lecture and take a look at the building. Lasu talked about the realities of life ot work, talked well, as he always does, and probably did not even scare too many people away from the field.

The building is quite OK, but the location sucks big-time. The only way from the bus stops to the buildings is an unpaved and fairly steep path through a little bit of forest. No problem now, but is gonna be a fairly big problem during the part of the year when all the roads become covered with ice that is in turned covered with a layer of water. That's when you slip while going down, fall on your ass and continue you descent on your now wet ass very fast, bumping into people who in turn fall onto you and also go down very fast on top of you.

Fucking neighbors, wines, patriotism and shopping

My neighbors have sex a lot. This is quite normal, but do they really have to scream so loudly in the process, especially when doing it at 1:30 am? They were at it again when I came home last night, and their blood-curdling screams resonated throughout the building, surely endangering its structural elements. Why do they need to scream so loudly unless they are using Tabasco sauce instead of AquaGlide?

Yesterday went to a Mikä Viini (a wine-tasting event) in the Sipuli restaraunt. Lovely event, lots of wines for very little money. Should've come there earlier, although if I did I would have probably not been able to leave the building on my own. Tasted a truckload of wines for 4 euros in 45 minutes. E&J Gallo Frei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 was the very best I tasted there, and filled my heart with a rather unusual amount of patriotic pride. Too bad I am not likely to taste it often, it's almost 30 euros in Alko. Vina Albali Gran Reserva 1997 was quite good too, and sells for a much more moderate price of 9.25. Tarapaca La Cuesta Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah was also very good, and is also 9.96. The rest were not very memorable.

We were there with Anu, Satu, Ebu and Juha. Didn't have enough chairs, so I sat in Juha's lap for a while. Juha survived and later in a whisky bar went on to demonstrate us that, contrary to the popular belief, I do not have the foulest mouth in the known universe. We played guillotine there, and those who like whisky drank it, and I tasted a blueberry cider instead. It was pretty good as ciders go, but I still wouldn't drink it on a regular basis.

About patriotism (or lack thereof): some time during the day yesterday I suddenly realized how much I hate Russia. I mean, I know that I hate Russia, and those of you who follow the blog regularly probably know it too, but every once in a while this hate comes up in a very strong and immediate way, and yesterday was one of those. I really do wish for Russia's destruction, at least to the extent that does not bother its neighbors much. I don't mean "bomb the cities, kill the population" kind of destruction but disappearance as a nation, falling apart into many small countries.

I'd always wondered about statements "hate only hurts the person who hates" and similar. You hear them often, and yet I haven't usually found my hatred to be hurtful to myself, in fact mostly kind of pleasant. Considering how popular hate is, I reckon a lot of other people don't find it very hurtful to themselves either.

Went shopping in Anttila. Shouldn't, really, as am broke once again, but who can resist Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li for 7.95? Also ordered Firefly from Amazon. Finally gonna have my very own copy of Firefly.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shit! Rosh Hashana!

Shit! Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year) is today and started last night, and nobody has told me, even though there are 13-14 million Jews in the world and at least some of them have my email address.

It's a bit depressing - 13-14 million Jews, and I am most surely the last fucker to find out about the New Year.

Should at least remember that Yom Kippur is next Saturday. It will be hard to forget, considering that I am likely to be in a place with no food. Well, at least Yom Kippur fasting will happen all by itself.

Shana tova to everyone.

In the news

U.S. criticizes Saudi religious freedoms
, says a CNN headline. Saudi what? Yeah, I understand that they really mean lack thereof, but it's still funny.

One of the Russian airplane terrorists paid a bribe of $34 to get onboard. I wonder whether it means (a) that the airline official knew there was something wrong with her, and still let her onboard (b) that a Chechen cannot board a plane without a bribe in general.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tired and educated

Sort of generally tired lately. Everyone is going to see some 2-for-1 movies today, but I have too little energy even for that. Haven't been to Krav Maga in a while due to too much sneezing. At work I just sit there, stare at the screen and flap my ears. Sometimes some bugs get fixed, but it happens sort of automatically without going through my brain. I need a vacation. I need the vacation money, too.

Nevertheless I managed to drag myself to a Chinese class today, where I was immediately rewarded by the presense of Sini. Sini is always nice to see in general, but it was especially nice to see her there, since I rarely run into a familiar face in my quest to learn all the natural and unnatural languages in the world.

The class has the same teacher as the last year (went there a couple of times, then figured it did not fit into my schedule). New book, though. On one hand it's a good thing, because the old one was atrocious, on the other hand it means I gotta buy the damn thing. Urgh. Hope they have it in Boston's Chinatown for less than here.

After yesterday's Japanese the Chinese texts look very understandable and familiar, which is funny. Also I realized that I have finally learn to distinguish Mandarin tones, at least when I concentrate on it and at least in about 80% of the cases. Cool. I feel so enlgihtened and educated. Now if I only learned to distinguish the triply-fucked sibilants...

Hope it has at least some use for my ultimate goal of learning Cantonese, although this is a bit doubtful since both the characters and the pronunciation are wrong. They should teach us the traditional characters as well, IMO.

Graah. I need a vacation.

Yesterday spent an evening with Killeri, who was very sweet and made me forget about being tired, at least for the time when he was there. Today I probably just need a rest. Too tired to go to the movies is a pretty bad condition for me.

Did I mention I need a vacation? Haven't had one since May.

Speaking about the vacations: if I arrive to Heathrow at 9 am and have to be back by 6 pm (plane leaving at 7:30), will I have enough time for the Museum of Natural History and Camden town?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Anu and Kristiina came over, and we discussed male beauty in great detail. Good thing there were no men listening, although after such discussions I always feel a little bit sorry that the men whom we are discussing in the positive light cannot hear us.

It feels somewhat politically incorrect to praise men's looks publicly, at least if I am talking about men I know and not about movie stars and suchlike. I am not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the potential of being interpreted as actively wanting or trying to have sex with them. At least it does not feel particularly incorrect to praise the looks of men that I really am having sex with. (But don't get any ideas when I mention that somebody looks good, sometimes I just say it even though it feels incorrect to me.)

At some point in the evening Kristiina got depressed, and then also got upset about being depressed, as opposed to being cheerful like she apparently intended to. Kristiina is suffering from human condition, literally. The world is bad in many ways and we all try not to think about the bad parts most of the time, but somehow she does not manage to avoid thinking about them. I sort of understand the feeling - sometimes I have a bad day and spend a few hours crying about some badness in the world (my favorite topic for pointless crying is the general fact of human mortality) but tomorrow there is a new day and I shlep off to work thinking about frogs, processors, tea, men's cheekbones, vacations, hiragana or some other thing that makes me forget about death for a while. I think with Kristiina the problem is not as much mortality as the meaning of life, which she wants to find but cannot. I wish I could say something that'd make her feel better, but I know bugger all about the meaning of life, and in general have been happier since I gave up looking for it, which probably wouldn't work for Kristiina.

Sunday, tiredness and the beginning of the semester

Was really tired on Sunday, spent most of the day in bed. In the evening went to Lasu's place. There were some nice people and some nice Scotch. Came home in a bad mood, though. Scotch is not good for me.

Yesterday was a HKL strike, buses did not run. Stayed home and worked. Went to a lecture, too. Japanese.

The semester has started and I have to drag my ass to some classes. Managed to go to a Japanese class in two parts, one taught by a funny Finnish woman who has the manner of a kindergarden teacher, and the other taught by an even funnier Japanese woman who looks like a manga character and always has a very amused smile on her face. I'd love to take a picture of her, but I don't think she would appreciate. Anyway, she told us that people who cannot be in every class should stay out entirely and should not even come in to listen, which sort of leaves me out. Bugger. Probably gonna go study Chinese instead. This is sort of a bummer, although I'd love to be able to read Chinese, because the Chinese they teach at the university is mandarin, and in simplified characters, too. The simplified characters are different from the normal characters, but in no way simpler, and Mandarin has a lot more sibilants than any normal language should be legally allowed to have, and I can't hear a difference between half of them.

I still want to learn Cantonese, but nobody is teaching it. It's a good language, has only three sibilants and those are not too hard.

Maybe should go study Japanese in kielikeskus instead, but I haven't signed up and all the classes are surely full.

Also am going to study Dutch, which is kind of embarassing since this is the fourth semester of it and I can't remember a fucking word.

The weekend, Stockholm and Half-life

Went to Stockholm for the weekend, or rather for the Saturday. On the way there and back we played Half-life.

Just a few days before that I had a feeling of "eek, why the fuck am I going to Stockholm, I am quite overstressed already and have no time or money for it", but on Thursday I got enlightened and realized that Stockholm was exactly what I needed right now, and it was.

It was a good thing all around: good company, good game, good gamemaster, good food (I recommend Viking Line's Food Garden's appetizer and dessert buffet), good booze, good city, good weather.

A few highlights:

We played with an open door since our air conditioner did not work very well. At some point Ville says "and then a monster comes in" (I think the word he used in Finnish was "ökymönkiäinen"), and at the same moment a drunk guy comes into our cabin. He seemed to be a bit taken aback by the thunderous laugh that greeted him, and even more so by a chorus of "no!" in response to his request for a permission to come in.

Woke up at 7 am on Saturday after going to bed at 3. Went out. There were unconscious people lying around all over the boat, which is normal. One of them was lying leaning on the elevator door. Took all the spiritual power I had to abstain from pressing the button. Took some pictures of him. (pic 1, pic 2)

Finally took some good pictures (and some not-so-good ones) of the sunrise in the Stockholm archipelago. All the pictures are here.

Went to the museum of maritime history. For some reason they had a meeting of Corvette club in their parking lot. Never seen so many Corvettes in one place.

The public transportation in Stockholm has become awfully expensive, 32 kronor a ticket IIRC.

Managed to avoid buying 2 movies in SF Bokhandeln. (Meaning, obviously, that there were two movies that I wanted to buy but didn't, not that I bought all the other movies and only left them the two.) The only thing that enabled me to avoid buying them was telling to myself many times that I am gonna be in Boston Chinatown real soon now and will probably get them there for less.

They have a lot of ice cream places. Good ones. They also had coffee shakes in one of them, which probably means that we are gonna have them in Finland real soon now. Ville found some really weird-colored ice cream, ate it and survived.

This was the first time that I saw a royal palace guard squad consisting entirely of women.

In the maritime history museum one exhibit proudly informed the reader that in the Swedish Navy men and women all have the same facilities: they share rooms, showers, mess halls. It was told in a very see-how-egalitarian-and-democratic-we-are way. What made it really funny was that they said that therefore they need only two sets of facilites: one for male and female officers and one for male and female sailors. Can't have officers and sailors in the same rooms, ugh! Perish the thought! There is apparently a limit to any egalitarianism.

Men just sleep and wash their hair all the time (this is a comment on my three friends there, and not on the men in the Swedish Navy). IMO men in general wash their hair very often and sleep an awful lot. The only exception to that are the men in my family, who tend to wake up early and make an awful lot of noise upon waking up.

Friday, September 10, 2004


On Wednesday night a few of them have beaten up Magomet Tolboyev, a cosmonaunt and a politician, for riding the subway while looking like a "southerner" (a person from Caucaus or Central Asia). Tolboyev is a person of some influence, so a lot of trouble is expected.

On July 31 one of them shot Rustam Baybekov for riding the subway without a ticket or a permission to live in Moscow while looking like a southerner.

In June one of them has beaten a passenger to death. It is unclear whether the passenger was guilty of looking like a southerner, but he sure was guilty of riding the subway at the very least.

On July 31 three of them have also beaten to death a guy who was guilty of being a resident of Tatarstan, although if the name is something to go by he probably did not look like a southerner.

And these are just the deeds of the Moscow subway police this summer. Think about it if you are thinking of visiting Moscow. Especially while looking like a southerner.


Granny had a bad heart attack yesterday. Been in surgery, had some clogged-up blood vessels cleaned, is alive. Don't know how well yet.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


The work stress is still on, we gotta fix everything by Friday.

Slept normally for the first time in a while - I don't know whether the workers who usually make noise in the yard were unusually quiet today, or whether I was unusually tired and just slept through it.

Made an unusual cleanup effort at home. The results cannot be seen with a naked eye, but now a lot of papers are in order and I've got a nasty allergic cough. Should learn to use a respirator mask, allergy pills and rubber gloves while cleaning, but I do it so rarely that I forget.

It's un-fucking-believably windy now here.

Took a picture of a rainbow yesterday. For the first time in my life my camera and a rainbow happened to be at the same place at the same time.

Found out that the horrible sound in my computer comes from the chassis fan. Usually the computer stops making scary sounds when I approach it, but I sneaked up on it and disconnected the fan, and immediately heard that all the other fans are working nicely and quietly. Don't know if should get another fan or just wash this one.

Russia is offering a bit more than $10 million for Basayev and Maskhadov, but did not say whether it's for both or per head, and if for both, what do you get for one? $5 million, nothing at all, or is it some $6 million each, both for $10 million - special offer?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A trendy bar

On Saturday we went to a trendy bar with Anu. At least Anu says it's trendy, I wouldn't know. The place was called Baarikärpänen.

The place advertises itself as a place with a dancing floor and suomi-pop. Anu'd heard that they have a cover charge of 7 euros after 10pm, so we arrived at 9:55. The place was quite empty. "No way they are starting to charge people 7 euros just to get in," - I thought.

For anyone who does not know why I am so out of the current Helsinki nightlife: for me, bars and nightclubs are mostly places to hang out with my friends in downtown Helsinki and drink. I don't go there to meet new people and very rarely go there to dance. For the last two and a half years I have lived in downtown Helsinki, and hanging out at home with friends has the advantage of cheaper booze, no closing hours and a guaranteed smoke-free and music-free environment, therefore my bar attendance has been minimal.

Anyways, got there, ordered a drink called cassis roska (a sugary thing that in spite of its name tasted of lime and not of blackcurrants, and in spite of tasting of lime was good). The place turned out not to be particularly compliant with anti-smoking laws. There are two rooms, one has ashtrays on tables and one doesn't, neither one has any "no smoking"-signs, as the result people just smoke and throw ashes on the floor and the staff did not seem to mind. Smoke was not much of a problem for the first hour and a half, though.

The place was empty for the first half an hour, then it started filling in. In the beginning they played some nice dance music, and we danced a few dances. Then the number of people increased and the quality of music went down - no promised suomi-pop at all, and we stopped. For a while it was interesting to watch people trying to pick each other up, but then it became too crowded for that, too.

We left a bit after midnight, and the biggest surprises all came at that time. First of all, it was too crowded to have a passage to the door - we had to shove (politely, of course) people out of the way in order to get out. Second, they actually were charging people admission. Third, despite the admission charge, lousy music and awful crowd people were actually standing in line to get in there, 50 or so of them.

I'd always wondered about lines in front of restaurants and now have finally seen a restaurant like that from inside while there is a crowd waiting to get in, but am still puzzled. Why are people standing in line to a restaurant while there are other perfectly good restaurant without lines? I can sort of imagine that someone might like this particular place, for example its drinks or music, but in this case why don't they come earlier when it's easy to get in. In general, why is it so empty at 10 and so crowded at 12?

The massacre in Beslan

What can I say? You know it all already. A school in Beslan; 3 days; 1200 or so hostages, 338 dead (the latest number); hundreds more wounded; 32 terrorists, of which 31 are now dead and 1 in custody; the surviving terrorist claims that the whole thing was organized by Basayev, which is probably no surprise to anyone. Three terrorist acts in Russia the previous week: two planes blown up and a suicide bomber in Moscow.

The special forces claim that this time around, unlike in the theater siege in Moscow, the fuck-up wasn't theirs. Don't know whether to believe them or not. Getting hostages back from semisuicidal terrorists is a fairly tricky business. ("Semisuicidal" here means that some were apparently suicidal and some less so. I wonder which ones are getting their 72 virgins in the form of 90-year-old nuns from the Order of Eternal Virginity, and which ones in the form of 72 leather-clad muscular members of the club "Homo Soveticus". OTOH, they might come to like that latter one.)

Basayev is, entirely surprisingly to us all, I am sure, a rather observant adherent of a certain religion of peace. (There is a wide variety of Chechen separatists; some of them are also Islamic extremists and some aren't. Chechnya in general has a wide assortment of various armed bandits, from Russian troops to separatist Wahhabist extremists.) This time he has loved to death 338 people of which about 20-25% statistically must have been of the same religion, but that did not seem to bother him. He specializes in taking hostages in buildings, but has also organized an odd airplane hijacking and suicide bombing every once in a while. He has also organized an attack on the neighboring Dagestan in order to free his Moslem brothers there from Russians. The Dagestanis were so happy at the sight of their liberator that they started to fire what I am sure were greeting shots into the heads of Basayev's people and Basayev had to go back without liberating them. (A certain president who wanted to liberate Iraq probably should've read this story beforehand.)

To my rather pleasant surprise the overwhelming majority of the Islamic world, including most of the fundamentalists, have condemned the attack. Maybe there is still hope for the Islamic world, though probably not for Chechnya (for reasons mostly unrelated to Islam).

The "blame Israel first"-reward goes to Ali Abdullah, a Salafist scholar in Bahrain who claimed that Israel is behind this.

I wonder what Basayev hopes to accomplish? According to the surviving terrorist, he actually said "an all-out war in the Northern Caucasus", but there is already pretty much an all-out war in the Northern Caucasus. It might increase his popularity among Chechens if the Ossetians also start killing Chechens, which they are probably about to do, but if everyone starts really killing Chechens, Basayev might run out of the constituents to be popular among. Which would be sad, because most of them want nothing to do with Basayev and really don't want to be run out of.

Seriously, we are coming - probably have already come - to the point when the majority of Russian population wants Chechens exterminated, and I really hope we don't come to a point when they'd actually do it. The terrorists don't even enjoy any widespread support in Chechnya, but I don't think Russians will care. Don't think the terrorists will care either.

The town of Beslan, BTW, just lost 1% of its population. Imagine what it would feel like if 5000 people in Helsinki were murdered in one terrorist act. Or 80000 people in New York.

Monday, September 06, 2004

"I aten't dead", as Granny Weatherwax used to say

The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
So he could do his job and never shirk.
The Lord gave man an arm of iron - but
With a little bit of luck,
With a little bit of luck,
Someone else will do the fuckin' work!

I think I am out of that little bit of luck right now, debugging a certain thing all throught the weekend and probably through this night. I suspect all my coworkers are doing the same, except for the poor bugger who will have to show that thing to customers tomorrow.

Hence no updates for the last few days, despite all the various events.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


I think there should be a special place in hell for people who make hardware and do not provide Linux drivers. There sinners shall be forced to install some ancient version of Debian on computers with a new video card and an ethernet card not supported by the ancient version of Debian. All of that with a boot diskette and an online installation.

Another department of hell should host Teosto in all its entirety. They will be forced to type "I won't levy taxes on blank media anymore" until they fill up all the blank media that they have ever levied taxes on.

Flu and hardware

Still have a bit of a flu. Stayed home yesterday, which did me much good. Had a good night's sleep for the first time in a long while. Stayed home today, too, but today I was working from home, and apparently looking for bugs in our software is a lot less healthy than just lying on my ass and reading a good book.

Wrote a blog entry yesterday, but my Konqueror ate it. It does so sometimes at home. What's amazing, it does not do so at work and it's the same version of Konqueror. I tried to see whether I can tweak the home Konqueror to behave, but in the life of every person there is a moment when they have to say "bugger it" and install Firefox. Also installed Galeon and Opera just for the hell of it.

Yesterday was not a very good day due to continuous sneezing and too much drugs, including the traditional Russian flu medication. Today is better.

After figuring out that the DVD+Rs do not work in Killeri's other DVD drive, and my DVD drive chokes on Verbatim DVD+Rs, too, and chokes big-time, I decided to stick both the drive and the DVD+Rs where the sun don't shine, in this case meaning back to Akateeminen and Verkkokauppa respectively. In Akateeminen they accepted the drive for warranty repairs, in Verkkokauppa they gave me my money back and sniggered in a way that suggested that I was not the first, nor probably the tenth, customer who is returning the lovely Commodore media.

Decided to do a bit of shopping to cheer myself up. Bought 256M of memory, and now have 512M like a good girl from a nice family. It sure feels good.