Jan 312006

Aides of congressmen have been caught whitewashing their employers’ wikipedia entries.

The office of the most famous finnish copy&paster has engaged in similar activities.

None of the wielders of Big Eraserstm seemed to know that every action is logged, and easily revertable. Where the finnish entry seems to have settled on a truthful account of the events, there appears to be a constant buzz around the most controversially changed entries, leading to a temporary blocking of a large chunk of IP addresses.

Jan 312006

But you’d expect shoelaces to take a bit more punishment than is dealt out in mere two weeks. There must be some exquisitely sharp bits among the lace-runners in the shoe, as it’s invariably the same shoe whose lace expires first.

Oh well, yet another virtual mouse for my sister’s cats. They’re much happier with tossing shoelaces around than tackling rodent-shaped toys. Hope they get more mileage out of this baby than I did.

Jan 312006

Yet another corruption dinner, this time in the lapland-themed restaurant Saga on Bulevardi.

Had sautéd reindeer (poronkäristys), which was quite a bit better than just OK. And the accompanying mashed potatoes were a reminder that the facsimile thereof that sodexho produces is indeed an abomination. Skipped real dessert, and had a few pieces of dark cranberry chocolate instead.

This was my first visit to the restaurant, and I don’t think that it’s worth all the bad press it has received due to cliche-ridden interior design. True, it has some odd elements, but them being closer to home than dime-a-dozen elements in, say, italian or russian (especially the latter seem to wallow in nostalgic details) restaurants probably just makes them stand out.

And luckily I was not the last man sitting, as Seppo notes from his traumatic cab ride back. Usually I don’t mind talkative cabbies, but a topic like this is bound to bring out the worst in every passenger. Thankfully the drivers are not dependent on tips. This guy would have a hard time making ends meet.

Jan 292006

The artist of the message-wise sub-optimal, but technically good recent copyright-propaganda album, Anssi Rauhala, has been prolific lately.

This week’s suomen kuvalehti describes how a forthcoming comic album will tie together both global (Mary Magdalena, as expected) and local (Lalli and Henrik) histories of the church.

Sounds interesting, and the few frames of art seem good enough to maintain interest. The style is close to belgian classics from the seventies (Spirou, Natasha), which is definitely a merit in my book.

So it all depends on the execution of the story. If it manages to add something to the well-chewed legend it might be interesting indeed, but in the post-danbrownian era of biblical conspiracies everywhere a new point of view might be a bit too much to ask for.

Surprisingly enough the publishing company’s site has no mention of the album at all. Suomen kuvalehti was a bit premature in pushing information about the last Tintin-album, as it took several weeks as opposed to just one for that one to materialize into the shops.

Jan 292006

Indeed. Pink Floyd’s long-awaited live-dvd is badly delayed.

While the original release date on thanksgiving was quietly passed by, the new one is surprisingly far in the calendar: extending the schedule to september sixth probably gives the record company enough time to mix and remix the dual disc release a few times over.

Jan 292006

And Tarja Halonen, the current president, shall continue for six more years.

In the end the margin between her and the challenger turned out to be unexpectedly wide. At 51.8 / 48.2 it’s not close from any perspective. Not sure whether the old adage “the center never holds” hit home again, at least in the nine o’ news it was stated that participation percentage in rural communities had been on the low side.

And Conan O’Brien will now have yet another thing to gloat about.

Jan 292006

Second round’s democratic duty completed.

With the difference between the candidates well below the margin of error (especially when considering the amount of people who “cannot say”) it looks like a tight race.

And who knows, maybe Tarmo Ropponen’s illustrious career as the chief political commentator on tv will finish in an election that is not a landslide, but sees lead changes throughout the evening as results from various regions stream in.

We’ll see that in about ten hours or so.

Jan 282006

Despite a resolution to the contrary, this blog has pretty thoroughly remained an image-free zone for the most part of january.

Not that there’s anything wrong with good old plain text, but an occasional photograph would definitely spice up the page.

In the absence of any local images, Worth1000 has hosted yet another good contest: among the dozens of anachronistic images are some true pearls, such as pairing Oliver Hardy with the naggingest wife of them all as well as the Beatles crossing Abbey Road on Segways. Of course, the usual warnings apply: the crop is of an uneven quality and there’s quite a bit of repetition (there’s only so many times the idea of a modern tank in the civil war seems fresh) among the authors.

Jan 282006

The fourth season of 24 has been exceeding expectations for most of the time during the first eight hours of the storyline.

First of all, mtv3 is showing two episodes per week, which naturally increases the pace of the story. And the pace has not been slack lately, several major plot devices have already been seen and even closed.

The fictional CTU seems to be one of the most dysfunctional workplaces in the world. Indifference and enmity seem to be the order of the day, not to mention the frequently encountered moles. The personnel has seen a few changes since the last season – and most of them for the better. Especially Kim Bauer’s absence does the show a lot of good, the believability of the world’s most accident-prone girl was strected too thin during the first few seasons.

Jack Bauer keeps resorting to violent methods over and over again, and the scenes with torture seem well-placed after the reality show in Abu Ghraib (and probably in quite a few other undisclosed locations as well). Arabs are (again, like in the second season) the villains of the tale, but it’s likely that the conspiracy will be uncovered in an onion-fashion, with other groups being revealed as the 9mm retirement options are liberally distributed.

Jan 282006

This deal was rumored for a couple of weeks, but still somewhat of a surprise when it went through.

After all, in ten-odd years Pixar had established a thorough chokehold on the animation-front. While the other players (such as Dreamworks with Shrek) were successful as well, their output, bot quality- and business-wise never achieved the same level of consistency.

Disney’s own animation production has been in doldrums for a long while – recent releases such as Home on the Range didn’t excite the punters nearly as much as classics like Lion King and Aladdin. So the deal was probably a last straw approach for Disney, especially when their own first CGI-feature slunk in with a none-too-promising score of 48 in metacritic.

Jan 282006

Major office party in Dubrovnik lounge. Good food, plentiful good company, a great movie and several sessions worth of accompaniment by a good band, what more could you ask for.

Escaped with minor damage only, as got hastily bored in the nachspiel in (once again) Bakers. Somehow that place’s just not compatible with me.

Jan 262006

Never doubt the power of a good parody to undermine the best-laid plans of mice and men. It took less than a day before the overly moralistic anti-piracy comic funded by the perpetually clueless copyright advocates had been skillfully remixed into a much more believable, yet smugly twisted spoof.

And it’s not bad as a comic either (from a technical standpoint). Anssi Rauhala’s been known to be a skillful pen-wielder from the early days of Kapteeni Hyperventilaattorimies in Tähtivaeltaja.

Jan 262006

Saw Mike Judge’s Office Space on sale the other day. And refrained from buying despite having been hankering for a copy for a long time.

Because a Special Edition is out and about. Not that there’s much difference inbetween this and the vanilla version, but the five deleted scenes are hopefully worth the extra effort and price.

It’s been a while since the last fight against recalcitrant printer-machinery, but not so long that the ritualistic massacre of an evil fax machine wouldn’t still be appreciated.

Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.

Peter Gibbons

Oh yes, I so need to watch this movie again.

Jan 262006

The last untranslated Tintin-album finally made it to a finnish edition, as the 24th album Tintin and Alph-Art was published this week.

The publication omission may seem curious, the albums have been steady sellers for decades. That is, until the last volume is picked up and browsed. It is very much an unfinished product, with most of the pages filled with pencil sketches and snippets of dialogue. Hergé worked on the book until his death in 1983, and it was posthumously published a couple of years later.

I bought the book in french a few years back, but have never got around to reading it (and it’s by no means the only comic book waiting for me to pick up studying french again). The finnish version is an update from the original edition, and is supplemented by further material (such as an ongoing typewritten narrative on alternate pages – the original only had Hergés scribbled text) than what was originally available in 1986.

Pirate editions, with finished artwork, of the album exist, and I’ve even seen a finnish version thereof available on the web. It was located on a slow server, and the translation was suboptimal, hence I never bothered to browse beyond page four. But now’s the time to curl up on the sofa and read the last pages of the uncrowned master of adventure comic.

Jan 262006

Norman Spinrad has been one of my favorite authors for a long while. He captured a place in the all time top 10 with his post-cyberpunk Russian Spring, and has remained there since. While his late output has been rather genre-hopping and not that highly thought of, I’ve been looking out for a complete set of his books (and short stories as well, since those tend to be even less restrained than the longer form products).

He got into a major fight with his publisher about his biggest book to date, He Walked Among Us, which is either a show business satire or straight science fiction, depending on the reader’s perspective. The fight got so severe, that the book was published first in Germany, and languished for years without an english edition. An odd electronic release was followed by a print edition by eReads.com, and the small number of printed books was quickly consumed.

For quite a while the author himself has offered the book for download, unfortunately in the .rtf format. Expected payment is mere five dollars, and even that is doable via paypal.

I will download it, pay for it, convert it to pdf-format and look for a print-on-demand service in Helsinki. I know there used to be one such in Lasipalatsi, but haven’t paid any attention to it lately. Why bother with a physical edition, I can hear a hundred souls querying silently? Well, it’s close to 700 pages in length and I prefer my books as tangible objects and not something browsed on a laptop screen.

Jan 262006

Yet another corruption dinner. This time enjoyed the blini-week’s output in restaurant Lasipalatsi in the very center of downtown Helsinki.

Decided to go for the as many blini you can eat dish, with six toppings for maximal variety.

The blini were good, and the toppings plentiful – ranging from the classic roe and pickles/honey to mushrooms and reindeer. Despite their deceptively small size, the blini are quite filling. Managed almost four. Almost, in the sense that decided that some room must be left for the dessert.

Which was yet another strangely twisted variant of a classic, créme brùlée that had some crushed spruce sprouts in the mix. The basic taste was too strong, there was an occasional hint of something foresty in the yellow goo, but it was not pronounced at all.

The meal was definitely a good price at 23 euros, and the popularity is reflected in the almost consistently sold-out status of the evenings, and so the maître d’ advised us to book a table in advance if we have a hankering for more. I’m sure I will, one of these days.

Jan 242006

Waiterrant has a nice guide on how to order wine.

It’s a decent guide, but there are definitely other rules and corollaries that apply to the ordeal.

n. When in doubt, delegate. But never, ever complain about the suboptimal choice the volunteer made. You had your chance and chickened out.

n+1. Don’t be an ABC-bozo. It might be cool to resort to “anything but chardonnay/cabernet”-cliches, but it’s not worth it. Unless you’re desperate for strained laughter from tablemates.

n+2. Buying by the glass is OK. Unless the restaurant sells by the bottle. Don’t try this in Italy.

n+3. Never spill red wine. And never, ever send the laundrybill to the restaurant if you do.

n+4. Anything that’s successful in a testdrive by hesari will be sold out the same day. Unless it’s available in industrial quantities.

n+5. No matter what Sideways says, Merlot is not a terrible choice, and Pinot Noir is not always divine.

Jan 242006

Long time, no meme. Rectified with this, picked up from Visa Kopu.

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:

  • Handyman’s assistant.
  • Jack of all trades in engineering telecommunication platforms.
  • Book translator.
  • Packer.

Four movies I can watch over and over:

  • Dazed and Confused.
  • North by Northwest.
  • Donnie Darko.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Four places I have lived:

  • Meilahti, Helsinki.
  • Vapaala, Vantaa.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Haaga, Helsinki

Four TV shows I love to watch:

  • Twin Peaks.
  • Spaced.
  • Auf Wiedersehen, Pet!
  • Deadwood.

Four places I have been on vacation:

  • San Francisco, California.
  • Barcelona, Spain.
  • Kyoto, Japan.
  • Kopervik, Norway.

Four of my favourite dishes:

  • Good steak, medium-raw, with potatoes.
  • Unagi nigiri.
  • Chips and fresh salsa with lots of cilantro.
  • Toast, browned lightly and piled with the works.

Four websites I visit daily:

Four places I would rather be right now:

  • Asleep.
  • Sauna.
  • Lapland, watching the aurora borealis.
  • Eating a good dinner.

Four bloggers I am tagging:
Nah. Not gonna bother.

Jan 242006

Well, this was to be expected after Jed Bartlet’s tenure ran out.

Really liked the first three seasons, wasn’t too adverse to the fourth and fifth season where the plots started wavering, and went back to “really liked” with the sixth.

But the death one of the lead actors (John Spencer, whose character suffered a heart attack as well in the beginning of the sixth season, but recovered) was a blow that the show never recovered from. Too bad. I don’t think the Geena Davis-fronted equivalent soon to premiere on finnish screens as well will be an adequate replacement.

Jan 242006

Finally, one of the most reliable short yard gainers ever, Jerome Bettis, makes it to the superbowl. In Detroit, his hometown. And capping a season where he wasn’t exactly the first, second or even third rushing choice for the Steelers.

But despite the less than lofty beginning of the season he has now scored a touchdown in all three playoff games. And pretty much cemented his eventual entry into the football Hall of Fame.

Steelers played an efficient game against the Broncos, haven’t yet watched the Seahawks beating the Panthers, but according to reports, it wasn’t boring to watch either. So, here’s looking for an entertaining bowl on the fifth of february.

(Yeah, I ran Bettis in both this year’s and the previous year’s Yahoo! football league. Despite being both carried by his achievements and dismayed on his less than good days, there’s just something right about a guy who, in his 14th professional season just keeps ploughing through defenses, unhampered by three inches of snow on the ground.)

Jan 232006

From -22 to -8 in just 3  hours
As noted in the attached temperature gauge stolen from the pages of the finnish meteorological institute, the temperature was far from a constant thing today.

At its quickest, the temperature climbed from -22 to -8 in some three hours, which is plenty quick in my book.

Did stay above zero, which means that mr. Slush stayed away. Which is always a bonus. The rest of the week the weather’s predicted to be less wintry, with temperature hovering around -5. Still decent, but not as great as the two bright days of arctic glory.

Jan 222006

Whoo! MTV3+ (the digital channel) shows not just one, but BOTH NFL conference finals today. Live. With the original commentary, and not the usually lame finnish offering.

Whoo indeed. Will watch the first game, and record the second to be consumed at leisure later.

Too bad I don’t really like any of the remaining teams. With both Niners and Colts out of the picture, my only wish is to have as high-scoring and entertaining games as possible.

Jan 222006

Visited the annual Helsinki travel fair. Only walked through the non-domestic hall, and that was quite on the large side by itself.

Bought no trips, most of the airlines were selling cheap-o flights whose last usable day is the mayday eve, and I was looking for something to use in may. Oh well, I’m sure they don’t stray too far from the current prices (both DC and Edinburgh sounded very interesting as targets).

Grabbed a bunch of brochures, but apart from the lemur-visiting trips to Madagascar offered by quite a few local agents nothing really stood out.

Jan 222006

Awright. It’s been below -20 for several days now (and that’s below zero for the folks scoring temperature on the fahrenheit scale).

And not only has it been really cold, but the weather’s been quite amicable otherwise as well. Snowfall has turned Helsinki into a white city, the frozen sea now pumps no humidity in the air, and sun’s been shining. A lot.

Mamma Gaia is supposed to turn up the heat today night, and tomorrow’s expected temperature is a puny -1C. Right now it’s -22 in Haaga, so it’ll be an interesting bit of hot air that turns this arctic weather into such balm.

Jan 212006

This online-test is supposedly mensa-originated (at least the domain name points in their general direction), but seems quite well-tied to christian anglosaxon culture as opposed to measuring abstract intelligence.

And yes, I don’t believe the “get 19 and you’re, like, a genius”-bit either.