Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tale of the Pink Bike

Today is bicycle day, at least if you ask the good people of Theme Thursday. And you are in luck, because it just so happens that I am an expert on bicycles. Especially on pink bicycles with a tendency to break. It is also kind of creepy that today would be bicycle day, because yesterday while I was driving Muschu to the store, I stopped for a girl on a bike, but the car in the other lane didn’t. He hit the girl going 50 km/h, she crashed into his windshield, breaking it, the bike fell into parts and the girl was thrown onto the ground in front of my car. We called the ambulance, and helped the girl, but luckily she seemed to be fine. Just a few scratches and bruises. Which is pretty amazing considering she wasn’t wearing a helmet.

I’ve never been in a bad car crash, and while I have drawn blood when crashing with my bicycle, I haven’t had any major accidents. Knock on wood. This is not to say that I haven’t been close. For about 10 years, I was the proud owner to a pink bicycle who did everything in its power to kill me. Or itself. To this day I still don’t know if that bike was just self-destructive, or homicidal.

See, I loved that pink bike. I rode it every single day and we became best friends. I could almost make the 2 kilometers from my home to school without touching the handlebar once. It was my trusted companion for many years. After high school I moved away from home and went off to college in another city. I got an apartment not too far from the university I was attending and brought my bike with me so I could ride it to school.

And that’s when everything changed. During the next 4 years my bike would suffer horrible and often completely inexplicable damage, until finally meeting its demise on a cold September night. People will often not believe me when I tell them the story of my bike, and will say things like “No way that actually happened” or “They did what??” I have a new bike now that has two flat tires serves me well, but it’s fun to occasionally look back and remember that poor bike and have a good laugh or two.

I think growing up in a quiet place out in the archipelago left my bike unprepared for the real world and unable to defend itself. All the big city bikes knew how to take care of themselves and opened a can of whoop ass if someone messed with them. This is the only possible reason I can think of to explain how my bike would let someone saw off a vital part of its anatomy without saying a thing. Which leads me to believe that everything is my own fault. As a responsible parent to an adolescent bike I should have educated my bike on the hazards of strangers wielding chain saws. I was naïve.

My pink bicycle looked like this. Except it was pink, obviously. And another make. Also, it’s not exactly the same model, but other than that, it looked exactly like this.

When I left for the big city, my bike had a broken lock and needed a new one. I figured, why not get a padlock. No one would ever try to break a padlock. That was the first time things went wrong. Because they did try. Someone tried to take the bike while it was standing outside my apartment building. And in the process they managed to bend the padlock beyond recognition. It couldn’t even be opened with the key. But at least they didn’t get the bike. This, however, meant that for the first time ever I had to send for my dad to get the bike.

Like a knight in shining armor, he rode in on his white horse and took the bike away to his castle. Or mostly, he just drove to my rescue in his dark van and took my bike away to his garage. I wasn’t there when he parked outside my apartment and grabbed the locked bike, but afterwards he told me that quite a few people stopped and looked at what he was doing. He said he felt like a criminal and wanted to tell everyone that it was his daughter’s bike and that he wasn’t stealing it. I’m sure they wouldn’t have believed him anyway. Good thing Finns are introvert. No one would dream of interfering in anyone else’s business. In Finland, if you see someone walking around with a locked bike, you’re likely to think to yourself: “Goddamn thieves…” and then go about your business. And this is what the people did when they saw dad picking up my bike. Dad then used a bolt cutter to get rid of the ruined lock and brought the bike back to me a little worse for wear, but still very much functioning.

I continued to use that bike almost every day. I bought a new lock. It wasn’t expensive, but I figured it would do. It didn’t. One day I rode my bike to the grocery store and shopped. It must have been the weekend or something, because I swear, I bought the entire store. I had two huge bags of groceries and I was going to hang them on the handlebar while I rode the bike home. I remember thinking that I was going to have a hard time balancing with that much weight hanging off the handlebars, but it turned out I didn’t have to worry about that.

When I got back outside to the bike, I tried to open the lock, but instead of turning in the lock, the key broke into two pieces, leaving half the key inside the lock. No matter how hard I stared at the lock, the key didn’t magically fall out of there. I had no way of unlocking the bike and resorted to walking home with my groceries. By the time I came home, I was sure my arms would fall off. The last few hundred meters I had to stop ten times to let my arms and hands rest. I was miserable and swore I would leave my bike at the store for someone to take.

I changed my mind a few days later and once again sent my dad to get my bike. By then someone had already tried to take it, of course, and the front wheel was bent in a pretty 90-degree angle. Dad said that this time he wasn’t as bothered by people staring, pointing at him and calling the cops while he picked up the bike into his big dark van.

It’s a good thing dad loves me, because he did an awesome job fixing my little pink bike. He fixed my wheel and brought the bike back to as good as new. Well, almost. I went out and got a new lock. This time I paid top dollar for my lock. My new industrial grade, super strength lock would hold anything and would never break. This was the kind of lock they used to secure Titanic to the dock with, the kind of lock I had to bring an extra bag for just to tote it around. The kind of lock I eventually hired little third world children to carry for me.

I also tried this approach, but despite what you might think, it wasn’t very practical at all.

All was well for a while. I rode the bike and only occasionally would someone try to steal it. But one early morning after I had worked through the night at a bar, I made to go home and found my bike lying on the side on the ground. The reason it wasn’t standing up was that someone had bent the stand. It was jutting out on the side, making it useless to lean the bike on. It also made it impossible to pedal and impossible for the back wheel to spin. It was 8 am and I had to half lead, half carry the bike home. I was silently praying that the next time someone would actually succeed in taking the goddamn bike so I wouldn’t have to fix it anymore.

Daddy once again came through for me and he helped me get rid of the old mangled stand and mount a new one. But I should have known things were only going to get worse. With a brand new stand that worked perfectly, I was riding the bike every day. And then one day it stopped dead in its tracks. The brakes suffered a catastrophic failure, but instead of just stop working, they locked completely, making it impossible to move the bike even an inch.

The first time it happened I was in the middle of a busy intersection. I had a green light and I was cruising through when the brakes suddenly slammed on. I was thrown against the handlebar when the bike came to a dead stop in the middle of the street, cars everywhere. I tried shuffling the bike forward a little, but the brakes were clamped down on the wheel so hard I couldn’t move it at all. I had to get off the bike and carry it from the intersection. Cars were blazing past, drivers giving me the finger, horns blaring. I later realized I probably should have been afraid carrying a bike through a busy intersection, but at the time all I could think of were the unspeakably evil things I wanted to do to my bike when I got home. I won’t say anything, but my fantasies included a chainsaw, a tub of acid and a clown.

From that day on, whenever I was in a particular hurry, the brakes on my bike would malfunction, always leaving me stranded in the middle of an intersection. Often I would leave my bike somewhere after the brakes malfunctioned, only to pick it up a day or two later. And always, I was disappointed when the bike was still there.

As if someone had listened to my prayers, not long after my brakes broke for the first time, someone DID take a saw to my bike. I had left my bike outside the door to my apartment building, in the same place where I always left it. I was headed for class and grabbed my bike. I remember vaguely thinking something was off with the way it looked. I rode the bike to school, got off and proceeded to try to fold down the brand new stand I had mounted on the bike after the first one was bent and rendered useless. This morning, however, the stand was not only rendered useless. It was gone. I took a closer look and realized it wasn’t entirely gone. It had been SAWED off at the base. My brand new stand had been sawed off, leaving me with a little part of it dangling uselessly from the side of the bike.

I realize, of course, that the person who did it probably was in dire need of half a bicycle stand and he simply couldn’t get it from anywhere else, especially it being in the middle of the night. He was probably very sorry to have to chop off my stand and probably intended to leave me a note, apologizing, but was interrupted. Yes, chopping off someone’s stand made perfect sense to me. Cause if you wanted to vandalize a bike, why do something easy and predictable like emptying the tires when you could spend 2 hours in the middle of the night trying to take off half a stand. Also, taking the stand at the base where it was fastened with two bolts you could easily open with a screwdriver was too easy. After this I recognized the whole stand idea as completely worthless and tried telling myself it made much more sense to leave the bike lying on the ground whenever I left it somewhere. By then, what had started as love for my bicycle, had slowly turned into contempt and disgust.

After having been stolen, recovered, abused, maimed and generally broken down one piece at a time, my bike was still working, albeit sporadically and weakly at best. But there came a day when I realized it was a lost cause and donated it to my younger brother, who would subsequently pick it apart. That day came one cold September morning. I was once again headed to class and made to grab my bike off the stand outside my apartment building. For the longest time I stood there and just looked at what was left of my bike.

During the night someone had taken the front wheel. What was left was a sad carcass of a pink bike that I had once loved dearly but now come to hate with a vengeance. The back wheel was crooked, the front wheel missing completely, the industrial strength lock was twisted, but had held whatever it had been put through during the night, and on the side hung the sawed off stump of the stand.

It looked like this. But pink.

And that’s when I said goodbye to my little pink bike. It had served me well, but I had to let it go. The big city was too big for it. One last time my dad came driving in with his big dark van to take my bike away. Our relationship was over. Thank God. *

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Boobquake Day

Yesterday might have been the best day ever. Not because I’m absolutely swamped with schoolwork and I didn’t even have the time to blog, but because yesterday was Boobquake Day. For those of you who don’t know why there were boobs on display everywhere, I’ll explain. See the thing is, with all this seismic activity nowadays, experts have been at a loss as to what causes these earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But finally, the foremost expert has stepped forth and announced the cause of these natural disasters. Anyone care to take a guess on what the cause is?

If you answered breasts and women wearing low-cut shirts, showing too much skin, you were right. Women, with their promiscuous behavior and revealing clothes are spreading adultery in society and causing earthquakes, according to an Iranian cleric. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for someone to finally just tell it as it is. Of course earthquakes are caused by boobs, it makes perfect sense. I wonder what would happen if everyone showed their butt.

Just to show everyone that this Iranian cleric was indeed right, yesterday was declared Boobquake Day. Thousands of women bared their breasts in the name of science, aiming to show the world that disaster comes from pretty things. I even personally made sure to wear the most plunging neckline I could find. Katla will be going off any day now.

But I think my low-cut shirt yesterday made it difficult for M to think properly, because he was not making any sense at all:

Ziva (returning home from work): Jeez, there were cops everywhere, I had to drive like a common cuckoo.

M (staring at my cleavage and looking confused): A cuckoo?

: Yeah, slow, you know?

: Do cuckoos drive slowly?

: Well have you ever seen one speeding?

: Umm… No.

: Well there you have it.

(looking very confused): Okay.

: Why are you holding your passport?

M: I’m going to Sweden.

Ziva: Do you need a passport to go to Sweden?

M: No.

Ziva: So why the passport?

(still looking very confused): Well if you fly there they sometimes ask to see it.

: Are you flying? I thought you were taking the boat?

: Umm, we are taking the boat.

: So why the passport?

M: Just in case?

: Going to Sweden is like going to Helsinki, they’re not going to ask you for your passport. I’m not even sure Sweden is a separate country. Now, you know where a passport should be required? When you go to that place you grew up in. I know it’s on Finnish territory and all, but no one should have to end up there by mistake.

(looking both confused and a little offended at the same time): You’re mean.

: Yeah, and I drive like a cuckoo, I have no idea why you love me.

: Me neither.

The common cuckoo, albeit very pretty in a common kind of way, is a very slow driver.

M will be 26 on Monday, and I don’t have a present for him yet. Luckily, with him and his passport in Sweden, I have all the time in the world to find him a present. So today after school I went in search of a birthday present for him. I had a couple ideas about what to get him, and decided that I would not be allowed to buy anything else before I had found his present. I came home with new jeans, a new book, a banana and some roasted and salted macadamia nuts. No birthday present. This is what happens when you let a woman shop alone, I just walk around, with no goal, no plan and end up buying stuff for myself instead. I’m going to have to go back tomorrow with a proper game plan.

In, out, done.

Just like a man. *

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The One With The Farting Fish

Dear Santa,

I know it’s a little early to be writing you, it’s hardly even spring yet, but I really need to ask you for something. See, M is away this weekend, and I’ve spent the entire weekend in my pajamas, playing that online game. You know that one with a farting fish with glasses that flies through the air and leaves a trail of stink behind. It’s very addictive, you know. I figured I could do that, because I worked so hard for the exam I had on Friday. But then I had to take a break to watch American Idol (there’s a slight delay before it airs over here, but I’m pretty sure this one girl called Kelly Clarkson will win), and while I was watching TV, I realized I would have to do the dishes before M gets home. And there were a lot of dishes, because we hadn’t done the dishes since, well 2007, to be honest.

But Santa, then I completely forgot about the dishes, and just went to bed, and this morning when I woke up, I went back to playing that game, you know the one with the farting fish that flies through the air. I’m stuck on the last level, and I just can’t seem to win. The cats are throwing paper planes at me, and the hedgehogs are really spiky and even the fish on stilts are after me, not to mention the frogs and the ducks. It’s really hard and I’m starting to give up a little. And Santa, you won’t believe this, but while playing that game with the farting fish (I’m having a really hard time getting that 1-up on level 33), I forgot about the dishes, again!

Luckily, Santa, M sent me a text message (thanks for the phone, btw!) and said that he had left Kuusankoski and was coming home soon. That’s when I realized that I was still in my pajamas and that I still hadn’t done the dishes. Naturally, I panicked.

I immediately threw some clothes on, but of course I put the t-shirt on backwards and had to start over, and then I went to do the dishes. I cleared a small part of the sink and started with the glasses, then did the plates while I let the forks and knives soak and finished with the pots and pans. Oh Santa, you can imagine how relieved I was when I was finally done. It took forever and by then my hands were like prunes. Inedible and pasty white prunes. But at least I was happy. But then I turned around and realized I had forgotten all about the popcorn bowl from Friday night! It was on the kitchen table because it couldn’t fit on the kitchen counter at the time, what with the mountain of dirty dishes and all.

So I had to wash the bowl. But then I went to the living room and remember the apple I ate last night? I knew you would, Santa. Well of course the plate and the peeler were still on the coffee table! So then I had to wash those. But then I remembered that M usually likes to leave his soda glass on the table next to his computer, and you know what? There was a dirty glass right there next to the computer and I had to wash that as well.

Santa, I know it’s a little early to be writing you, since it’s not even spring yet, but I have been a really good girl, unless you count all the times I weren’t, and I could really use a dishwasher.

Kindest regards,

P.S. If Christmas could come early this year, it would be great.
P.P.S. Also, I appreciate the phone and all, but it sucks, so a new one would be fabulous.
P.P.P.S. Also, we really want to travel this summer, and that volcano on Iceland is really screwing with that, so if you could just turn it off, that would be awesome. *

Friday, April 23, 2010

Never Trust a Marsupial

It’s finally over! The past week, I’ve been studying like a dog. Not that dogs probably study a lot, but I like the way it sounds. A lot better than saying that I’ve studied like a student, or like a marsupial. Students are notoriously bad at studying, and very good at procrastinating. I’m good at procrastinating too, I consider it one of my special talents, but this time I actually did study. Marsupials could probably be good at studying, but they seem a little unreliable. Hence, I’ve been studying like a dog. So much, in fact, that I haven’t even prepared a suitably good Friday post for you, so instead of something funny and witty, you’re getting these incoherent ramblings about studying and exams. You should go back to where you came from; this isn’t going to get any better.

Can you see the intelligence in his eyes? He’s done a lot of studying in his time. Just don’t trust him with a secret.

Today actually started on a bad note with a bunch of snow on the ground, just when I thought spring had finally decided to grace us with her presence. What a bitch. After that, today didn’t get much better when I realized I had only dreamt that the exam was over and I was actually going to have to go to school and take it all over again. Then I got to school and saw the questions and today got just a little bit worse.

For your pleasure, I’ve written down the questions:

1. Discuss the Charter based protection of human rights within the United Nations.
2. Civil and political rights compared with economic, social and cultural rights: Similarities and differences in the nature of these rights as well as their international supervision.
3. The legal significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
4. Provide a schematic comparison of the African regional human rights system with the Inter-American and European human rights systems with focus on substantive norms and monitoring mechanisms.
5. Discuss the issue of sexuality and children in the light of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Are you asleep yet? If not, did you know the answer to any of those? If you did, where the hell where you earlier today?? I spent almost four hours scratching my head, making shit up, swearing to myself and writing until my wrist bled. Here’s to hoping I passed.

After that, today actually did get a lot better. After a minute of after-exam related anxiety, I realized that there was nothing more I could do about the exam, and I was finally able to relax my poor overworked brain. M left for yet another karate camp and will be gone all weekend, and everyone knows what that means. More popcorn for me! I had no idea a bowl of popcorn could last this long. Oh, the things you learn when the boys are gone.

Then mom called and asked me how the exam went, and told me to relax and have a glass of wine. And I think I’m going to do just that. Because when mom tells you to do something, you do it. I'll be back tomorrow with something interesting and witty. Or not. I'm a lot like a marsupial in that way. *

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Found Nostradamus!

2 years ago, a man in Sweden stole 82 metric tons of railroad tracks, valued at 154.000 Swedish kronor. That’s about 5 dollars. He was later convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to 4 months in prison. The court held that there clearly had been intent to steal the railroad tracks, as the theft had demanded "extensive organizing and planning." I’d say. I couldn’t steal 82 tons of steel even on a good day. This guy had some real talent.

Up until now, no one really knew why he stole all that railroad track. It’s commonly known that Swedes do weird stuff, like eating 27-year old meat, so stealing 82 tons of railroad track was just explained with "he’s Swedish." Actually, if you ever see someone doing something really stupid, chances are he’s Swedish.

Or high.

Or both.

I wonder if all Swedes are high. That would explain a lot.

I’ve digressed. What I was saying was that no one could figure out what this guy needed the railroad tracks for. Until now. During the last few days, it’s become painfully obvious. He’s the new Nostradamus. 2 years ago, he foresaw not only the economic crisis, but also the subsequent Icelandic revenge. He knew that we wouldn’t be able to fly anywhere, and he did what anyone with half a brain would have done. He stole his very own railroad track. He can go wherever he wants! I bet wish you had your own set of railroad tracks now, don’t you? There’s nothing stopping him now.

Except water. That’s going to be a problem.

Nostradamus never had any problems with water.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We Said Cash, Not Ash!

I don’t know if you guys have noticed this, but the economy is sort of fucked up lately. Many countries are battling with lousy economy, unemployment and bad weather. But some countries have it worse than others. I’m of course talking about Iceland.

Iceland went bankrupt. Then the rest of Europe bought Iceland, as a friendly gesture, and then told Iceland that they really should pay for their keep. Iceland didn’t like this at all. Which is completely understandable, since they did have wonderful horses and shouldn’t really have to pay for themselves. But no one seemed to notice the lovely horses with all the talk about money, and poor Iceland felt like no one was listening.

So one day, Iceland decided it was payback time. The Icelanders chose the most beautiful girl form the village, a young blonde girl named Brynhildur Hjálmarsdóttir. Brynhildur had been a seriously ugly child when she was little, and as punishment, her mother had given her the name Brynhildur. It had meant endless teasing in school and countless hours of therapy with the village witch doctor. Luckily, Brynhildur grew up to be a beautiful young woman, but forever scarred by her horrible name, she was more than happy to carry out the honorable task that the village of Iceland had bestowed upon her.

So one sunny day in March of 2010, Brynhildur took her pet goat and hiked up the volcano on Eyjafjallajökull. She prepared for the sacrifice with utmost care. She combed the goat’s fur, painted its hoofs and made it look its best. Then she sent the goat back down and jumped into the volcano, performing the human sacrifice needed for the volcanic gods to take note and send reinforcements.

Not Brynhildur’s pet goat.

It so happens that the volcanic gods didn’t mind Brynhildur’s ugly name, and sent up reinforcements in the form of lava, fire and most importantly, ash. Lots of ash. So much ash, in fact, that almost every major airport in Northern Europe is now closed. Millions of travellers are stranded at airports, feeling sorry for Iceland angry and desperate. Weirdly, the huge ash plume has drifted away from Iceland and their airspace is now as clean as a baby’s bottom. They are free to travel wherever they want. Except Europe, but who’d want to go there anyway?

That volcano clearly ate something inappropriate last night.

I know you’re all worried, but fear not. There is no need to worry about us poor souls, stranded in Europe. We will be fine. As long as we don’t breathe the air. Or are too fond of sunshine. I’m a dark person, so I’ll be particularly fine. And I have Brynhildur’s pet goat to keep me company. *

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Have Cookies - Honestly, I Do

I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy. At the moment I’m getting up at 5:15 every morning, working 8 hours at the hospital, then spending my evenings working on a 20-page essay and studying for a ridiculously big exam while feeling guilty about not working on my master’s thesis. I’ve neglected both my own blog and other people’s blogs, and I’m ashamed. I’m also turning into a zombie. I can feel the necrosis setting in already.

I wasn’t going to post today, mostly because I think I might even be asleep right now. Pardon me if I snore. But there has been some talk about my cookies. Or rather, the lack of them. It seems I’ve made false promises about cookies. The way I see it, I haven’t as much offered cookies and simply stated a fact. I have cookies. And to prove that, here is what I had for dinner today:

Freshly baked, warm chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold milk. Yum.

I lied. This wasn’t dinner. M made a lovely green salad with a nice piece of smoked salmon for dinner. But this was dessert, and everyone knows dessert is the most important meal of the day. And you know what the best thing is? There is enough for everyone!

I have cookies.

The cookies were especially important today, because I want to make everyone feel at home here in my inferno. Don’t mind the heat, the air conditioning is broken. The reason that I need cookies today is that the fabulous Reffie of Confessions of a Reforming Geek has awarded me with some gorgeous blog bling. She awarded me this “Feels Like Home” award, which is just about the sweetest thing anyone has every done to me.

If I knew you were coming over I would have hidden the dead mice better.

This is a pass-it-on kind of award, and I have chosen to pass it on to a couple bloggers who always make me feel at home:

Mike over at Too Many Mornings – A fantastic writer, wonderful commenter and great person in general. You will definitely feel at home over there. And he almost never bites.

Nicky, and the two penises she shares writing space with, over at We Work For Cheese - I’m fairly new to this blog, but I have a crush on Nicky, and the writing is awesome. If you like cheese, this is the place to be. Or if you don’t like cheese, just pretend. That’s what I do.

Now that I’ve proven that I’m still alive and that I have cookies, I’m off to bed. But be prepared, I’ll be doing my blog rounds tomorrow. *

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Silence Please

When was the last time you experienced real silence?

Silence is often thought of as the absence of speech. This type of silence can be found in weird places, like the forest, libraries, and Greenland. The absence of speech is often lovely, and after a day at work, where everyone wants you to do something, the absence of speech is what you want most of all. That, and a bottle of vodka.

But no matter how lovely the absence of speech can be, it is not to be confused with actual silence. When you go to the forest, a library, or, God forbid, Greenland, you might not hear nagging, but you will hear something else. In the forest there will be birds singing, deer walking around, cute little mice being eaten by foxes and just the simple sound of the wind in the trees. In a library you’ll hear people whispering, the sound of someone turning a page in a book, and probably the local winos hiding out in the textbook section. On Greenland, there will inevitably be the sound of snow falling, or snow melting, or snow just sitting there, and of course, the sound of Inuits running through the snow to escape the polar bears.

M is in Estonia, again, and I’m pretty used to the relative silence I get in our apartment when he’s gone. I don’t usually talk to myself, and if I turn off the music, the TV and stop typing, I have silence.

Or so I thought.

This morning, I woke up at 6 am by M’s UPS beeping like crazy. It kept beeping for a few minutes, then turned itself, and M’s server, off. And that’s when I noticed it. The silence. We were having a blackout and the back-up power supply to the server was the last thing to go. Even the compressor in the fridge was silent. There were no cars in the road, no electrical buzz that always seems to surround us. Nothing. Only silence.

And that’s when it hit me.

This is what it must be like inside M’s head.

Silence, unfortunately, will also be observed in Poland tomorrow, with two silent minutes, while millions mourn the loss of their leader. The tragic plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski this morning, also killed his wife, Poland's army chief, their central bank governor, and several members of parliament.

Naturally, this is a terrible loss for the Polish people, who lost the entire political elite in one horrific plane crash. With no President, and no army chief, Poland is in a state of shock. With every respect for the people who lost loved ones in today’s crash, I am just going to go ahead and pose the question everyone is asking themselves.

Does this mean Poland is up for auction? *

Friday, April 9, 2010

That Goose Is Gorgeous

Today I was going to write about US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev, signing the historic nuclear weapons treaty. I was also going to rename the blog “Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Russia”.

The treaty obligates the countries to reduce the number of warheads to only 1,550 each. That’s not even enough to annihilate the continent of Africa. I feel so much safer now. But that's all I'm going to write about Russia today. Because notice how I said I was going to write about the treaty? Yeah, that’s because this morning I woke up with a sore throat. I went to work, and came home 8 hours later with a sore throat, a sore body, a fever, a headache, and feeling like my clothes were made out of extra coarse sandpaper.

With that in mind, and head full of cotton, I went in search of something easier to write about. And it so happens that, a few days ago, the not-so-geeky-at-all Reforming Geek over at Confessions of a Reforming Geek, tagged everyone who were lucky enough to be reading her excellent blog with a little photo meme. The instructions said to pick the tenth photo in your first photo folder and post it.

My first photo folder happens to be named “Animals”.

Yes, I’m going to become that person who posts pictures of their pets on their blog. Don’t worry, though, I won’t make it a habit. I’ll be back to posting pictures of growing grass and collapsing bridges in no time. But while we’re waiting for my brain to grow back and the shivering to stop, let’s look at some pictures.

The tenth photo in my animal folder is this picture of Maja.

Maja is a wildcat that my sister and I saved from the evil claws of nature when she was just a little kitten. This is her in her natural element. You can’t really tell in the picture, but she’s about to attack me. Evil little thing.

The above picture, I took at my parents’ summer place during that sunny day in 2008. She likes water. She also likes to sit in the sink while the water is running. She’s weird like that. And while I was still living at home, Maja used to scare the crap out of me. She’d hide inside my closet and jump out when I opened the door. Freaking hilarious, Maja.

Now, you can’t have a girl cat without a boy cat to keep her company. Meet Alfons.

Alfons looks real ferocious, doesn’t he? Yeah, he’s not. He’s yawning. He’s the biggest coward ever. He can’t even catch his own birds, Maja does it for him. Lazy fucker.

Two lazy fuckers.

Obviously, you can’t have two lazy ass cats and no dog. This is Mimmi and I. Mimmi is the St. Bernard, I’m the girl. I was younger then.

Mimmi, Muschu and I. One month later.

Mimmi went to doggy heaven some years ago. She was very loved and missed dearly. Before she passed away, she had time to eat a house, give Muschu a concussion and scare the crap out of old ladies. Or was it scare the crap out of Muschu, get a concussion from a house and eat old ladies. I can’t remember.

The last picture of the bunch is another photograph I took at our summer place. Every year we’ll have a couple of these ducks swim up to our sauna and come say hello. Usually they’re friendly. As long as you don’t go too close, of course. Or look at them, in which case they will attack and poke your eyes out.

Three seconds later, the flamingo realized I was looking at it. Last time I ever used that camera.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We Might Be Illiterate, But At Least We're Stupid

Today is a very special day. I’m going to tell you a little story about Finland, about Russia, and most of all, about sisu.

Many years ago, when man first realized that we don’t actually have to stay in the trees all the time and are free to roam the earth, a group of people made the long trek from the mountains in Russia, although I think it was called the Soviet Union back then, to Europe. Around today’s Estonia, the group encountered a road sign. One arrow pointed south, saying “Over here you’ll find fertile soil, warm summers and mild winters. You will be able to grow anything you want, and you won’t ever have to hack a hole into the ice to take a swim.” Another arrow pointed north. This one said “Here you will find land that is uninhabitable during winter and inhospitable in the summer. You will have to work hard to grow even a single potato. Only idiots go here.”

Now, you’d think that the group took their collective asses south and went on to live happily ever after. But the problem was, like any decent African country, a small part of the group didn’t know how to read. They were stubborn and foolish, and decided to go north. They swam across the Gulf of Finland, some turned around, others drowned. Only a handful of people made it to the other side. What these people found, was Finland.

They immediately invented the sauna. Some would say this is the only contribution Finns have made to human life as we know it. Others might say Nokia is pretty nice as well. However, Finns soon realized that sauna wasn’t enough, and they had to come up with an advanced form of self-deceit, sisu, often mistaken for a property of character.

Sisu does not translate into any other language. It’s not just a form of courage. It’s the ability to persevere in the face of adversity. To keep going even after 2012. It’s the ability to live next door to Russia and say “Yum! This Chernobyl Chicken is delicious!”

Sisu is the ability to keep going against all odds. (Maybe Phil Collins was actually Finnish?) Sisu is to keep going even after you failed. Sisu is the sole reason why Finland is called Finland and not Russia. During the Winter War the Soviet forces had three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks. The Finnish army resisted the Soviet invasion far longer then anyone expected. Long enough to retain their sovereignty. Which is awesome, because I don’t know a word of Russian and it would suck to live in country when you can’t even say “get me outta here!”

Sisu, in all its glory, is also completely made up. It’s the only way we can deal with living so close to Russia. I wake up every morning with a scream and a sense of doom. Then I tell myself I’m a Finn. I have sisu. I can make it.

I’m off to bed. Perhaps I’ll wake up with a smile on my face tomorrow.

I doubt it.

Oh well, it could be worse. We could live next to Sweden. *

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


This is it, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I am back! I had a lovely Easter with M and his family. I ate the equivalent of a small horse, and read the paper a lot.

Before I left for Kristinestad, I left you with a little Easter game to pass the time. “Find the differences” was a great success, if I say so myself. No one found all the differences, but honestly, if someone had, it would have been too easy anyway, right? There were 15 differences, and since I am too lazy to write them all down, I have used my mad Paint skills and circled the differences with red. Without further ado, I give you the Key:

I bet you didn't find the egg that changed color.

On a completely unrelated note, spring has arrived! The past week, we’ve had temps of between 40 and 50 Fahrenheit and the snow is quickly melting away. The ice has drifted out to sea and rain is coming down as rain instead of snow. I am really going to enjoy our two weeks of summer this year. It’s been a long, cold winter and we could really use the warmth. It’s important to not become greedy, though. We can’t expect too much summer around here. Honestly, when the permafrost starts to thaw, it’s time for winter again.

Finally, spring is here!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dammit, I Lost Count Again

Today I’m blogging live from Kristinestad. Wikipedia has this to say about this quaint, little town: “Kristinestad is known for its old town with low wooden houses and narrow alleys. It's also plagued by poor management, resulting in constant cutbacks to schools and other services. The locals are starting to have had enough.” Wikipedia is clearly the place to go for honesty.

The locals are starting to have had enough.

100 kilometers from the nearest city, life is simple here. A little too simple. M’s parents are sweet and friendly, and are slowly trying to feed me to death. I think it’s a sign of affection. I can hear them reading the paper downstairs. When they’re done, they’ll start over, because that’s what you do around here.

Since I have nothing interesting to tell you about my Easter so far, I’m going to tell you about India instead. (Smooth change of subject, wasn’t it? I know, I’m a literary genius, you don’t have to tell me.)

India, also known as Customer Service, is counting its inhabitants. They are going to identify, count, enumerate, photograph, fingerprint and eventually issue an identity card for 1.2 billion people. I’m not sure why they’re bothering with the photograph, though. They could just take a picture of any Indian, use it for everyone and no one would know the difference.

I know what you’re thinking – how could they possibly take the picture and fingerprint of 1.2 billion Indians and be done before the Apocalypse, right? The thing is, they’re not sending out one or two census-takers. This is India we’re talking about. 2.5 million census-takers have been sent out in what can only be described as insanity the world’s largest administrative exercise.

To put things into perspective; Finland, where I live, has a population of 5 million. The United States Army is made up of about 1 million men and women. The census-takers could not only take census; they could take the US Army and then come back for Finland.

What this means, is that not only are there a billion of them, they’re organized as well! Tell me that doesn’t scare you? I always thought Russia was the great threat, but holy hell, if India made up their mind about wanting something… It could get ugly. Imagine, if you will, World War III, but instead of nuclear bombs and burning cities, we’d have millions upon millions of Indians, running around, taking our picture and issuing us an identity number. Come to think of it, so did the Germans back in the 40’s. That one was branded onto the skin, though. Anyway, peace negotiations would just be ridiculous with that Indian accent.

I believe India will be the next superpower, covering three continents and the lower right quadrant of the moon. Just imagine what that would mean. Everything you own would say “Made in India.”

No, wait…

It’s already happened! *

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yes, We Eat A Ridiculous Amount Of Kinder Eggs

The theme of the week, and the month, is yellow.

I like yellow. Yellow is friendly and reminds me of sunshine and warmth. Two things we don’t actually have here in Finland. Along with a good hockey team and cheap clothes. Yellow also reminds me of Easter.

Lately, I’ve been on a quest. A quest to grow the prettiest, greenest Easter grass this side of Hell. We’ve followed my grass from when it was just a tray of dirt in diapers, through its rebellious teenage days when I just wanted to give up being a mommy and throw it away, to this proud day when my grass is finally all grown up.

We’re going to be spending Easter with M’s parents, and we’re leaving today. Which, I’m sad to say, means that my grass will most likely be dead when I come home. Easter grass doesn’t have a very high life expectancy.

Don’t cry, we knew this was going to happen.

Instead of being sad, we’re going to celebrate this moment with one last game. Nope, we’re not spotting the foreign object today. We’re playing… Find the difference! The game is easy. First we have my grass, with a few added toys and whatnot. Then, we have my grass, with the same toys and whatnot, but in this picture I’ve changed a few things up a bit. How many differences can you find? If a strand of grass has moved, this does not count as a difference. If a toy has moved, on the other hand, it counts as one difference. If you find it hard to play, I recommend you click on the pictures to enlarge them. Or get new glasses.

Sadly, I don’t have a fancy award to give out, so this is not going to be a contest, just something fun to do over Easter. I’ll post the answer on Sunday or Monday, whenever we get back from the in-laws.

That said, let’s play!

Find the differences!

Good luck! Now go to Theme Thursday to see what other people have written about yellow. *