tammikuuta 29, 2006

Piano and politics

I had all sorts of plans for how to spend my time when I came here to "babysit" the cats. One of them was to sit down at the piano and see if learning how to play would be fun. The piano has been moved from the living room and is right now behind locked doors in a room, which isn't kept warm (my dad wants to save in the heating costs), so I only remembered that the bloody piano exists earlier this week. And it was only today that I finally decided to give it a try.

I found one of my sister's old "piano for beginners" -types of books after trying to play something a bit more advanced and failing miserably. Starting from the beginning, however, turned out to be a good idea. Now I know a couple of more things about notes, managed to play something elementary two-handed and realised that playing is indeed fun. I am not going to buy meself a piano, but I could invest in a keyboard. For a beginner that's basically the same thing, isn't it?

Hmm, hmm, hmmmm. Couple more hours and we'll know the name of our next president. I still haven't followed the debates very closely, but I can't have helped noticing some of the things expressed in the local newspaper. Imatra has traditionally been a fairly socialdemocratic area and perhaps that's why Niinistö's supporters have been quite vocal in their opinions. I have nothing against Niinistö personally - I'll even admit to finding him rather charming sometimes - but reading the views of some of the people backing him up reminded me clearly why I do not want him to win. I had ever so momentary doubts after the first round because some of the things Halonen said started to annoy me. Then I read the readers' letters and remembered that it is about values.

Now I am sure - fervently hope - that Niinistö, even though being clearly on the right on the economic scale, is still fairly libertarian on the social scale. (If you want to know where you stand, take the following test . Also explains nicely why when grouping people it is not enough to take into consideration the old left-right division, but why you also have to pay attention to where you fit on the authoritarian-libertarian scale. I was happy to find out that my views coincided best with people like Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Thanks to P for bringing this test into my attention.)

Anyhow, it seems that quite a few of Niinistö's supporters definitely do not belong to the libertarian side, whatever he himself may think. I couldn't read too many of those viewpoints though. Is it because I'm too cowardly? Because I don't want to know that there are so many people who harbour such old-fashioned, intolerant ideas? Because if one were to admit to oneself, that those people do exist - in hordes - then there is always the decision: whether to close one's eyes and let things be or actually try to do something about them. I've never been active or political, but earlier it was mainly because I didn't have too many opinions. I didn't care. Now that I have accumulated some opinions it remains to decide whether one should be more active in promoting them. Or can one convince oneself that it is enough to vote always once in awhile?

tammikuuta 28, 2006

Music is good for the soul

I ha've five neeeewww CeeDeehees. Yaaaayyyy!!

I went to the store to get some groceries and started to wonder whether I ought to reward myself - for the healthy life - with some chocolate. After some contemplation I decided that it would be a smarter idea to buy a CD instead, if I now absolutely had to reward myself. One little chocolate bar just makes one mad and a complete cake or something along those lines - which I am quite capable of eating on a one go by myself - might ruin my diet completely. I have no self-control and therefore have to be kind of absolutist about this.

Anyway, headed for the CD-tracks hoping to find SOAD's Mesmerize. I got Hypnotize for X'mas and SOAD is now securily in my top three of favourite bands. They didn't have Mesmerize, but they did have one of their old ones "Steal this album!". Soad's first album "System of a Down" doesn't really appeal to me so much, but I am liking this one a lot. Good stuff. I also got Coldplay's X&Y (yes, naughty me) and some Finnish music: Kotiteollisuus, Children of Bodom and CMX. Yum. The good thing about being stingy is that once you DO want to buy something, you don't have to count the pennies. Plus they were all on sale, so it wasn't as expensive as it could have been.

Now I have to buy stereos.

tammikuuta 27, 2006

same-o, same-o

I have been away from here again - mostly because I haven't felt like writing the same thing day in and day out. I mean, is it so interesting how my healthy life is progressing? Going quite well, btw, I have lost nearly 1½ kilos since coming to Imatra and I think I will soon fit into some of my old clothes. I still have three more kilos to go to get to where I was a couple of years ago - put some weight on? who? me? - but I think I may just make it this time (this time refers to the fact that I've been on a diet for the past fifteen years or so. Tschk, tschk.).

I have fallen in love with my ministepper and I am seriously considering torturing my neighbours with it. It's so much fun that I don't know if I can give it up. Especially with the new 2005 tour DVD coming out soon. And all the bootlegs that I have. Ooh, just think of those hours of joy. Poor, poor neighbours.

I have created some babymuscles in my arms - or at least aching that leads me to hope I have - thanks to shoveling (scooping?) snow for the past three days. Pretty long driveway this house has. So far I'm still positively disposed towards all this snow related exercising. Or let's say that it is fun as long as it doesn't take so much time from working that one get's stressed. Hm, that's actually kind of ironic. Work is sitting inside at a computer or lying about on a couch with a book, whereas sweating outside with a snow scoop is recreational.

Okay, now I'll go and see if I could finally finish that book by Günter Grass. Yes, I'm still reading it, but it is pretty long. Kampela it is called - I have no idea what it is in English - and I will thoroughly recommend it to everyone. It's about men and women, relationships through the times, about hunger, and co-dependency, and things that tie us down and prohibit us from growing into what we could be. And a number of other things all expressed in words which keep flowing, flowing, flowing. Beautiful.

tammikuuta 24, 2006

Undue influence

The day goes by so fast. I didn’t get my page written today, because today I went to town to vote. And to finally see if there was anything for me in the sales. Politics and shopping. Politics and shopping, which shall we talk about? Politics, shopping, shopping, politics…. Okay, shopping it is. I did buy something today, but nothing that was on sale. Today’s fashions apparently aren’t my thing, which of course is a rather good thing, since then one doesn’t have to spend a fortune on clothing.

Or actually it is quite the opposite, isn't it? The fact that I want clothes, which are at the same time cheap (maximum 20 euros would be good), stylish and good quality, could be said to be a somewhat impossible combination. Maybe I just have to accept the fact that if I wish to have the type of clothes that I want, I have to part with a bit more cash. Which is a bummer, since on some basic level I can’t really see the point in spending money on clothes. I’ll have to start brainwashing myself: “nice clothes are good for your self-esteem, nice clothes are good for your self-esteem…” Or would that just be falling into the mindtraps of advertisers and clothes industry?

I also went to the store in order to get some food – it is more difficult to survive without food than latest fashions, you see – and I realised that most of the food being sold is very unhealthy and greasy and fattening and…stuff. It seems that if one wishes to follow a healthy and nutritious diet one has to learn to cook. Could I do that? A new hobby? Fun maybe? Eating healthy is expensive and time-consuming – and I’m not completely kidding here – but on the other hand it is good for a person. One could claim that subsisting on a couple of pieces of bread and a big bag of candy a day – which is what I have done more than once in the past – is not good for one’s physical and mental health. Yep, I’ll learn how to cook. And it WILL be fun.

tammikuuta 23, 2006

Are routines a good thing?

I don’t think I am going to tell you what I have been doing, since it involves books, old court records, clickety clicking the computer, ministeppers, music-DVDs, sauna and healthy food. There isn’t really terribly much one can do here. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that during winter time it is after all better to live in a city. Somewhere where there is more than one movie theatre and public transportation that works. Summer, of course, is another thing completely.

But it ain’t summer yet. It has gotten a little warmer, around minus twelve or so anymore. One might almost think that that smacks of spring. Almost. Might. Like never.

And think that in Australia they are having a heat-wave. 40 degrees Celsius there and here it’s been sixty less. Earth is a weird place.

With this mindblowingly exciting weather report I bid you good night.

tammikuuta 21, 2006

Cold, colder, gear sticks freezing

I cannot remember when I have for the last time worked so diligently for five days in a row. Writing, reading and going through the source material every day. I can see why people say that if you want to get something done, you need to get away from the normal surroundings.

It also helps that I'm working on my laptop, which isn't connected to the net here; so no quickies to the net to check sites when one get's bored. The house computer - even if it is fairly new - takes the insanely long time of nearly ten minutes to start, it screws things up if you put it on stand-by and because of some glitch or another, it's virus-databases haven't been updated in nearly a month, and therefore one is not in the habit of clicking it open the very first thing in the morning. Good for working; bad for up-dating the blog, since I usually write in the evenings on the couch while I am watching TV. Of course that is not impossible now either in this marvelous time and age of memory-sticks.

Ooh, speaking of sticks. I used the car today for the first time in a week (went to the store). The car started just fine, but the gear stick had frozen. Nearly broke the damn thing, when I first tried to get it to move. After five minutes' massage-session it finally started to switch gears and after a few more moves it stopped tearing itself from the whatever that part of the car is called. Cold out there, I tell you.

Yeah. Can you tell I haven't done anything even remotely exciting? Since the temperature is still around minus twenty, I have skipped my walks in the past few days. And patted myself on the back for bringing the noisy mini-stepper with me. I have found out that by watching Live aus Berlin or Lichtspielhaus (DVD's of guess which mid-European musical group) I am capable of putting the mini-stepper to good use for an hour and a half, singing most of the time and still not feeling too tired after that. And I can still remember the time when I was absolutely dead after ten minutes... It's a shame though I can't do the same thing at home; the neighbours would go mad.

Or mabbe the old couple living next door to me are secretly fans of hard rock played on full blast and accompanied by an appreciative ministepper. Alas, but even if they were, there is no way they could cope with my singing.

tammikuuta 17, 2006

Tyr's day

Fire is beautiful. It’s minus fourteen outside and I’ve been using the fireplace earlier today and now the sauna is warming up again. The cold weather is a lovely excuse to stare at the fire.

I’ve been busy work wise. Read my 200+ pages (since Saturday), written more than two pages thus far and spent six hours transcribing the judgments from 1780 (since yesterday). No conclusions to tell you yet, but if someone tells you that the concept Grand duchy (suuriruhtinaskunta / storfurstendömet) was used of Finland only in the Russian times, you can tell them to bugger off. Finland is called Storfurstendömet already in those documents from the 1780 – and probably had been for a long time before that, but don’t ask me how long. Can’t be bothered to google now for the answer to that question.

Off to sauna now, will be back in a bit. I need to go wash off my facial mask: I’m trying to prettify myself again and the mask is starting to be more than dry.

Back now, cleansed and nourished. What else have I done? I have been out for a walk every day, continued my healthy life and I am happy to record that since the beginning of the aforementioned “healthy life” I’ve already lost altogether three kilos. Two more and it should show, six more and I am hopefully happy. Right now I’m just happy that I don’t even want chocolate and that this time healthy life has continued past two weeks.

Other than healthy life, and work, and sauna, and TV and sudokus, and Günter Grass (who is excellent and fast on his way to my list of favourite writers), I haven’t really done anything. Maybe I’ll go out and buy some milk tomorrow.

tammikuuta 15, 2006

Presidential elections

The smell of tar is one of the most wonderful smells in the world. The parental units left today and I have the house to myself. I’ve been to the sauna again and I think I will continue to put it to good use during the next two weeks. If the firewood runs out before the summer you’ll know who to blame.

Oh dear, the weather forecast is promising -23 degrees for Thursday. Damn. I’m going to have to move to the sauna.

Today was the first round of the presidential elections. About eighty percent of the votes have been counted and it looks like a second round will be necessary. Two more weeks of televised debates then. I haven’t really followed them very thoroughly, since I knew who I would vote for and I find most of the TV-debates very embarrassing. The candidates can’t be very frank in their answers, some of the questions are completely idiotic and everyone is getting agitated and talking on top of each other. With just two candidates it might be better, more civilised and hopefully without the need to make the candidates play monkeys.

Now 96.3 percent have been counted and there will definitely be a second round.

tammikuuta 14, 2006

In the eastern lands

I'm here. The roads were good and for the most part nearly empty. I had to get annoyed at the slow driving people only after Somerharju - seriously, it's more hazardous to be driving ten kilometres per hour too slow than too fast. Perhaps not for the person driving, but everone else behind him. Snailing along makes you irritated, sleepy and is a bitch for concentration. Luckily I got past them relatively quickly and made it here in little less than three hours and ten minutes. With one stop and considering it's winter that's a really good time.

It's a real winter here. Not like home, where I noticed this morning that I can now see green lawn even from my kitchen window. In a way nice, I guess. I can do long wintery walks - and for those days when I can't be bothered, I took my mini stepper here with me. I used it once earlier this week, but before that I haven't touched it in years. I hate using it at home, since it is LOUD. It's okay for the first ten minutes or so, but then it starts squeaking and moaning like mad. I think it secretly wants to be a bed in a porn movie and practises with all the sound effects. Seriously, when I was still putting it into good use some five years ago, the downstairs neighbour one day came to complain about the noise. The look on her face pretty much said it all when she casually remarked that they had been wondering about the noise with her husband. Yep, mini stepper was sent into the corner to gather dust and I learned that when buying exercise equipment it is never a good idea to get the cheapest thing.

tammikuuta 13, 2006

Polite little boys and booksales.

I have learned today that not all wee lads are impolite little monsters. I was coming back from work today a bit earlier than usual, must’ve been around 3.30 when I passed the daycare centre close to my house. A little boy – probably somewhere between 4-6 years of age, I absolutely cannot tell how old children are – asked me to pass him a little red ball which they had accidentally hit on the wrong side of the fence (playing something they were). And – this is the point – he asked me if I could give it back using the polite you. Such a little thing and he knows how to use the polite you and to say thank you. I was quite impressed.

I went to that bookstore I was talking about yesterday and realised that I don’t need to leave in any pre-orders, since their sale had already started too. I did my best navigating through the throngs and came home eight books richer and nearly 50 euros poorer. There were only two books that I really wanted that I couldn’t find anymore and the rest I decided to leave after a closer inspection. Now I have some more nice books just waiting to be read: Vasili Grossman, Niko Kazantzakis, Günter Grass, Bernhard Schlink, Thomas More, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, V. S. Naipaul’s non-fictional book about Islamic culture and the odd book about the roots of the Christ-worship in pagan rituals, which I cannot tell whether it is written with a serious intent or whether it’s just sensational popularism. We’ll find out after reading it, won’t we?

It’s seven o’clock and I’m insanely tired. The house looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks – which is more or less true – which means that in addition to packing I also need to do some cleaning up (bollocks!) before heading to Imatra tomorrow. I’m hoping to leave before one o’clock so I don’t need to drive in the dark for that long. I guess I should start cleaning up now, but I’m really not going to. I’m going to have something to eat, some more tea – I have developed a serious tea addiction – and then either sleep, read, watch some television or see what the wonderful world of web has to offer. Absolutely – nothing – useful.

tammikuuta 12, 2006

Thor's day

Today for awhile it felt like spring. It's been above zero a couple of days and around here everything is icy and downtown the snow has pretty much melted away. I went to the main library of the University to get some more books to take with me to this cat-sitting trip of mine. Wait, I didn't mention that yet, did I? I'm taking off to Imatra on Saturday for two weeks because the parental units are heading to Egypt. I'll be minding their cat and mine, which stayed there after Christmas to wait for my return. The poor thing expressed so loudly her displeasure at the thought of travelling in the car again for a three hours and more, that we thought it best to leave her to enjoy the bigger house and some feline company.

Yeah, but the springly feeling. Next to the University main library there is this patch of land, from where the snow had completely melted away revealing a still nicely green lawn. That was so lovely - green nature-stuff in January! Purty. Well, spring of course is still two-three months away, so one can't start getting too excited yet.

The sales in some of the book-stores started today. I checked one place and got myself three books with less than 12 euros alltogether: one book by Imre Kertész and two by JM Coetzee. I've also been going through a pre-sale catalogue by another bookstore and I'm trying to decide where to draw the spending limit. They have something like twenty books that I'd like and even if the books are terribly cheap that would be more than 100 euros. On the other hand do I really spend on anything other than books? Nope. I'll have to drop by there tomorrow and see if it is possible to get someone else to pick up the order. It needs to be done by the 28th of January at the latest and I'll still be in Imatra then.

I was also planning to go to the movies today, since they had a 5 € day, but I wasn't the only one with that particular plan. Everything worth watching sold out by the time I turned up, so I walked to the bus stop and came home to make some dinner. I had my heart set on making some pasta with chilitomato-sauce, onions, garlic and red peppers and I had everything chopped down by the time I realised I have no pasta. Since I am a lazy soul, I decided to get creative instead of heading to the store again and so I used rice instead. It was actually very good. And despite this fairly late eating I've lost weight again. Yay, happy.

tammikuuta 11, 2006

I'm back

Hello again! I've been busy having a healthy life - which has included trying to stay away from them computer a little - and therefore you haven't heard from me.

I am happy to report that thus far I've been able to stick to my new year's resolutions. I've read my fifty pages everyday - and noticed while doing it that as important as deciding what you read, is to pay attention to how you read. I've also realised that there is just so much a person can read in a year and there is so so much I still need to find out.

My healthier life goes well at the moment too. I've eaten like a good bunny in a cabbage patch, been to the gym and to long walks and have managed to lose 1½ kilos already. Mostly the extra Christmas-kilos of course, which it is fairly easy to lose. Still this time I'm feeling hopeful that my healthy life might succeed for a bit longer than the usual two weeks.

I haven't found my own style yet, but I did go through my closet and threw some clothes out. I'll continue with that later.

I also haven't gotten cultural yet, but I am planning to go and get tickets for a performance at the Helsinki Philharmonics (Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri) on the 9th of March. A modern song cycle by the composer Torsten Rasch based on the lyrics of Rammstein songs. What, you're not interested?! Why not? It's like a modern opera. It'll be a classic in two hundred years. If you'd be alive still then you could brag to everyone that you saw it already before it became a classic.

I haven't had a chance to develop opinions yet - besides the one's I already possess - or become less nice. That is really hard work. I have also succumbed to playing sudoku once or twice, but not for any unreasonable times.

Yep, all in all I am very happy with the start of this year.

tammikuuta 01, 2006

A new year begins...

The last day of the holidays; the first day of the year. I’ve been reading mostly and not succeeded too well in starting my healthy life: pizza, potato chips, soda and no unnecessary steps. But it’s still the holidays and one can’t start a new life during the holidays. Right? I’ll start tomorrow.

I’ve been reading books today as I said, and wondering what makes a good book. These two that I’m thinking about are easy to read, entertaining, but I know I will forget them in absolutely no time. Especially when reading the first one I couldn’t help but think that I could probably produce something equally good. And then, of course, I got immediately struck by the doubts. Dear woman, are you a delusional egomaniac?! That book got published, it even got translated, someone must have thought it was worth it! Perhaps that is what bothers me. That if I am worse than her then I seriously do suck at writing. That if I am better then I have to stop making excuses and start writing for real.

Of course it isn’t always a question of being worse or better or even as good. Sometimes it is a question of the supply meeting the demand. An x number of people have a fondness for a “Bridget Jones” meets “Sex in the city” -style books even if they are second-rate versions. An x minus y number of people probably have a fondness for my style, which tends somewhat towards cynicism. Or even worse, in my early writings it tended towards pink, fluffy, everyone-has-to-love-everyone –worlds. I’d probably bore myself.

Hmmm, hmm, hmm, I'm getting ideas again, but I think it's too late to think anymore tonight. I'll watch some TV now and consider ideas later.