Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Finnish Face

This is me practising my Finnish face. It's a lot easier alone. Not to mention a great deal more authentic.

The Finnish face is originally Kevin's joke. He would stare at people with a blank expression and challenge everybody to stare back without expression. It's really hard. At least I'm quite bad at it. My trick is to try to relax all the facial muscles. Here's Kevin practising his Finnish expression in Syracuse.

Now it seems that the name of the game is the Finnish Face. And if you're wondering about weird pictures to be come from last few weeks, this is the reason. Qian would insist on taking Finnish versions of almost all pics.

Anyways, the best pictures you can get are the ones taken of people trying to hold the Finnish expression and taking the picture right when they lose it. That way you can catch real laughter.

And before you complain, I admit that I'm really cheating here. It is rather easy alone. And I'm not begging for sympathy either, just trying to brag with my superiorly sad expression here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The End of Silence

Today I feel slightly worn out and infinitely sad after two weeks of summer school, conference and math friends who have now all departed from Helsinki. When I was walking back home from work the sky was covered with intense storm. The thunder started when I was halfway through.

I remember when I was still in school telling my mum enviously how elaborate scrap books one of my classmates had done. My mum told me that there are two kinds of people: those who document life and those who live it. I was proud to belong to the latter group. Now I'm planning to spend the next few weeks organizing all the pictures from the last weeks and writing stories about everything that happened.

Monday, August 13, 2007


This picture of me and Piipa, Tommi's sister, in my grandmothers garden marks the end of altogether four super weeks during which Tommi was here three weeks and Piipa two weeks.

On Thursday I was borrowing my grandmother's white sweater and we thought we looked so hilarious in the similar sweaters that I wanted to have some pictures. I have no idea what happened with my expression here. But look how we both stand with our hands behind our backs. Piipa said we looked just like two fair hostesses.

I miss you! Hugs to Iceland and Italy!

Now I'll have two more super weeks of math friends and then I'll be all alone again... With only my local friends to amuse me. :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

On My Way to Work #(n+1)

Today when I was coming home the air was full of flying ants. They were all glowing gold and seemed to be flying around aimlessly. They looked almost like tiny leafs or seeds from the trees being blown about by the wind. They would fly onto you.

These are hot-air balloons. They are flying towards Pasila from Kumpula. They flew way faster than I walked so by the time I could get to a decent spot to take the picture they were already quite far. But you can see five of them here. And some birds. This happenned on Tuesday.

This is a broken toilet seat. It's also from my way to work. It appeared last week and I think it's still there. Weird.

Finally these are big-leaved lupines. If you are an observant Finn you'll realize that the picture was taken way back in the beginning of the summer since the lupines have withered away ages ago already. Now the road banks are filled with fireweeds instead. I like them both. There are more lupines again on my Picasa account. No fireweed thoug.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Chocolate, Squirrels and Kinder Eggs: The Culmination

A friend of mine posted this link on her blog. I highly recommend. The story contains all the basic elements of my blog: chocolate, squirrels and Kinder eggs. And it happens in Jyväskylä, where I just decided to go next week.

Now somewhere there has to be a mighty big stash of Kinder surprises...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Workings of Workers' Tiny Feet

Since I'm back at work I thinks it's finally appropriate to post these pics. The first one was taken in the summer 2006 and the second one this June. I think the buildings testify that the place is the same.

The Kumpula Campus is build on a cliff in Kumpula. Previously there used to be just wilderness on the spot and the university had to fight for quite a long time to be able to build anything because of the heavy opposition of the local people.

Now the problem with the campus is that, yes, they've built quite fancy glass and iron buildings but apparently nobody thought of building roads to the hill. So the roads to the campus are still the same ones that led to the hill of wilderness.

I'm slightly exaggerating, of course. There are actually two real asphalted roads on the east side of the hill. One of them is so steep and narrow that there are regularly big trucks stuck in the middle. Unfortunately most of the people are coming from the bus stops in the south. I'm coming from the west.

In the summer of 2005 there was only a meadow and a small grove west of the campus. But people have been assiduously tramping up and down the hill to work and school and now the hill is filled with tiny criss-crossing paths that tell the morning routes of hundreds of people.

I have taken many different routes during the time the departmenet has been in Kumpula but lately this meadow has been the last stretch of my commute.

The path in summer 2006.

The path in summer 2007.

So you see, the workers tiny feet are indeed working and making a difference. And if you check the google map, you'll find that there is actually supposed to be a real road here, Pietari Kalmin katu, streching horizontally across the map. In the satellite image you can discern the path in my pictures.

Of course the road is in the city plans and will be build when the last screaming local activists have been shut down.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Houses and Gardens

I took this picture on my way to my mother's place. I've realized that there are actually equally stunning flower arrangements here as in Ann Arbor. But maybe not so many. For those who know: this is from the really small park behind the Kela building in Sofianlehto.

I went to water my mother's plants since she was out of town this week. And after I'd succesfully watered all the plants – and a couple of my toes on the side – I gladly sat on her garden chair on her porch. I sat about two seconds quite happily before all of a sudden a couple of liters of rainwater hidden under the supposedly dry padding decided to soak through. So instead of walking to the department I decided to stay at my mother's place and dry my jeans – and my other sock.

In the evening we were invited to Tommi's former advisor's allotment garden. Allotment gardens are something quite typical of Helsinki, I think. They are areas divided into small square gardens with small playhouse-like houses. It's like a summer cottage. There are quite a lot of these areas in Helsinki. There's one I walk by every day on my way to work (except on Thursday when I dryed my pants instead). But we were invited to the one in Herttoniemi, in the eastern part of Helsinki, you can take the subway there.

We had a grand barbeque with wine, Ultra Bra and many stochastic friends. We also took a walk in Kivinokka, a cape by the allotment garden. I'd never been there before. It was super cool. It's a recrational area, sort of. With forest and paths and small small cottages built here and there in the forest, like huge mushrooms. The cape used to be a summer place for the working class in the early 1900. People would build their own tents and small cottages for the summer and tear them down again for winter. But in the winter of 1940-41 all the men were at war and nobody came to pull down the buildings. And so the houses became round-the-year houses. The're all very tiny with virtually no gardens and just small paths leading to them.

It was fun how different the cottages in the allotment garden and in Kivinokka were. The allotment gardens are small Hansel and Gretel houses with flower arrangement and cute curtains and nameplates. The Kivinokka houses looked like someone just carried them there and put down wherever they happend to get tired of carrying not even caring whether the place happened to be level or not. These are houses that one is supposed to sleep in and store ones stuff in when one goes to the beach or has fun outside and not for playing playhouse garden owners.

We also saw some environmental art and a goats' running contest. Obviously, there are pictures. Although, I have to say that Oskari had a camera that made me almost embarrassed with my tiny little thing. But if we would have had a competition on the smallest camera there would have been no arguing about my victory.