Friday, November 28, 2008

NO (100th) POST!


~ Budokan ~


This post is a bit delayed, because of the exams I had at the beginning of the week. But they're over now, so it's time to write!

As you might have guessed, this is another post about the weirdness of things Finnish. It has to do with locks (the mechanical kind, not the hairy kind). Take a look at this door knob (I'm sorry for the blurry image, it's still too early in the morning):

To lock this door, you would normally turn the lock clockwise, wouldn't you? I know I would. I'm basing all of this on my personal experience, so I might be wrong about this one. In all the countries I've been to until now, to lock a door, you have to turn the lock (or the key in the lock) clockwise if the knob is on the right, and counter-clockwise if the knob is on the left.

Here in Finland, this is inverted. Just watch:

It was actually a bit difficult getting used to, at first. It's the same with every lock I've seen in Finland so far. I thought it was the British who were supposed to be so uptight that they do everything the other way around (like driving on the wrong side of the road, and using imperial units instead of the metric system), but it seems they have competition. I'm gonna miss this strange country... Next time, Textbook Example of Gang-Rape and Mutilation.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Slut Machines

Good morning, everyone. I'm here to talk today about slut machines. That's not really their name, but I don't know the Finnish term. Advances in science have always resulted in a happier way of life for people, and the sex industry had its share of benefits from technological breakthroughs. Now, I've known about the existence of artificial vaginas (like dildos, only for men... I'm not saying that men can't use dildos), but I've never seen one in real life. I didn't expect to see them here in Finland, and not employed with this much lack of shame, in such a public manner. This result is what I call slut machines. These... What? I'm not supposed to talk about slut machines? I'm supposed to talk about slot machines? Well, that explains it... Sorry folks...

I'm here to talk today about slot machines. There's not really all that much to talk about. You know what they are. You know how they work. You may, however, be surprised as to how popular they are, here in Finland. You can find them everywhere, in casinos (though that's normal), in the cruise ship (though I guess that's normal too), at the post office, in supermarkets, everywhere. You can see elderly people, coming out of the supermarket, and playing away their loose change at the slot machines just outside the supermarket. Sometimes, they don't even have to go that far. Now, before all you skeptics jump saying "Pic or it didn't happen!", know that I'm a little reluctant walking into a supermarket to take photos of the slot machines they have there, I'm not even sure it's legal. The photos in this post are of the slot machines on the ship. I guess you'll just have to believe me (or ask finnish bug). Overall, I just found this thing very weird. Tune in next time, for Inverted.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well, here I am, talking about the weather. You remember me telling you how upset I was that the first snow wasn't what it was supposed to be, here in Finland, right? Well, it seems the weather got upset, so it decided to snow just perfectly, to prove that I'm wrong.

Before (this is the photo of the street, as seen from our balcony, after the first snow):

After (this is the same scenery, after the second snowfall):

It's amazing, isn't it? There are some swings and other kiddy stuff in the yard. Look what it all turned to:

It's simply beautiful. Too bad there wasn't anyone to play with, so I decided to take a walk, and take a few more photos of the surroundings. I was so joyful, that I stopped in the middle of the street for some shots (yes, the couple of lights heading my way, is a car).

I later made way towards the city centre, passing through my beloved forest. You remember that, right? Well, not surprisingly, it turned into this:

I remember a funny thing: one of the guys here, from Spain, said he'd never seen snow, because he lives in the south. In my opinion this is stupid. I understand if you don't see snow, because you don't have it in your country, but when you do, and in over 20 years of your life you don't travel to the places in your country where it does snow, that's just wrong. I guess he never saw the Christmas tree in its natural habitat:

Even the little ponds near the road thought it would be nice to freeze over:

It has kept snowing ever since, little by little. It still looks like this, and I'm pretty sure there will be more. This is so cool. This is what winter is supposed to be like. Thank you, Finland. Next time, Slut Machines!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That's a Cruise

As thrilled as I was at the sight of the first real snow we had earlier this week, I simply couldn't write about that, considering the amazing time I had on the cruise these last two days. So, here I go, talking about spending time on a boat. Be warned, this is an image-heavy post.

We were looking forward to this trip. After all, it was our first pre-Christmas cruise ever. Hell, it was our first cruise ever. We were really excited. We took the buses from the university, and they took us to Turku, where we were supposed to board one of Silja Lines's cruiseferries, on route Turku-Mariehamn-Stockholm.

There were sooooooo many people there! It was very crowded, and we had to wait quite a while till they let us aboard. Once they did, the fun started. I actually expected the ship to be different. I expected it to be longer, and have less decks, when it turned out to be the opposite of just that. You could traverse the length of the ship in a short stroll, but it had 13 decks! THIRTEEN FUCKING DECKS!!! Turns out, it is one of the largest cruiseferries in the world. I present you, the MS Silja Europa.

It even has its own Wikipedia entry. How cool is that?! I looked it up after I got home. Turns out, this ship had some troubles along the way, since it's maiden voyage on 14 March 1993. However, that doesn't change the fact that it's cool. Check out the ship map:

THIRTEEN FUCKING DECKS!!! Decks 3 and 4 are for cars. Deck 5 is for passengers's cabins. Deck 6 is the theatre and conference deck. Deck 7 is the tax free market and other shops. Deck 8 is full of restaurants, cafés and clubs. Decks 9, 10, and 11 are for passengers's cabins (again, since it can hold over 3000 passengers). Deck 12 is the sundeck, complete with swimming pool and sauna. Deck 13 is for VIPs only. I believe decks 1 and 2 are engineering and stuff. It's really really cool! It has everything, for everyone. From geeks to playboys, from kids to the elderly:

But up till now, I have only told you impersonal things. It's time to give you my personal experiences. Here is the three of us, waiting for the ship to depart; behind us, Turku harbour:

The first night was wild. Party, party, party! There was a setback, though. You weren't allowed to drink the beverages you bought in the tax free shop on board. Everyone was doing it, though. Everyone except us. And when I say us, I mean students. You see, there is this stupid thing, that if you bought a student ticket, you weren't allowed to buy alcohol until the second day of the trip. This was a precaution, to ensure that students buy the more expensive alcoholic drinks from the bar. It was so annoying. At 21 years of age, I was not allowed to buy alcohol, and was forced to resort to cheap tricks, such as asking the adults to buy it for us. Which didn't work, cause we only found assholes, who wouldn't buy us any alcohol. Fuck them! So, we ended up doing some karaoke instead. All those hours playing Rock Band really paid off!

After the party, we went to sleep, awaiting the wonders the following day would bring...

The next day, we woke up, and went to the café, enjoying a light breakfast, the ocean moving behind us.

After the breakfast, we went up to the sundeck, to take some photos, knowing that this time, we would actually be able to see something, thanks to it being midday. We got there, took some shots, fooled around, took some more shots...

I even managed to get a cool shot of the bridge (from the exterior, that's true, but it's still the bridge!)

And now, I'll leave you with some of the wondrous sights that can be seen from the MS Silja Europa's sundeck, on it's voyage from Stockholm to Turku. Next time, Snowfall. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last Trip to Tampere

Hey everyone! It did snow here, and it's wonderful, however, I'm going to write about my (last) trip to Tampere, because it's overdue.

My stay here in Finland is almost over, so I decided to make a final trip to Tampere before going home. Valkeakoski is a really nice place, but it is still a small town, and some things are missing. When you need one of those things, you go to Tampere.

The bus leaves you off right in the city centre, which is great. I've always found it interesting how you have industrious areas right in the middle of the city here. It's because they used to build mills on the rivers and use that for power in the old days. Now the mills are replaced with factories, the river is still there, and the town is larger around it. What you get is these kind of sites right in the city:

I've finally found a hobby game store, after spending nearly three months in Finland. The trick is, don't search for "hobby shop", cause you'll get places that sell power tools and whatnot. I am always grateful to the Wizards of the Coast site, for having that store locator.

The city is beautiful. Especially now that it's decorated for the holidays. It is then that I noticed, after finishing my shoppings at the hobby game store, the little characters made from the lights hanging between the buildings.

Yes, you guessed it, it's the Moomins. I remembered that there was a Moomin Museum in Tampere, and I soon went to search for it. It was an easy thing, being guided by the signs and all:

And this is the museum:

For those of you who don't know, the Moomins are fictional characters (aren't they just cute?), the creations of Tove Jansson, a Finnish/Swedish writer. I remember growing up on the Moomin cartoons (I also believe I have a comic book somewhere), and it is only now that I've visited the museum and revisited the Moomins in my head, that I realised how much they influenced my upbringing. I'm not going to write about them too much here. Read about them yourself, on Wikipedia. Here is the entrance, and on the right they have a souvenir store (full of Hello Kitty merchandise, though I have no idea why...).

For me it was a wonderful experience. Seeing the original art and all those figures was simply amazing. It almost drove me to tears. No, really... It was a very nostalgic moment. Anyone who loves Moomin as much as I do has to see this. I actually intend to buy the Moomin books, refresh my memory about them. They belong in the category of those books that can be read both as a child and as an adult (like the ones mentioned in an earlier post). How nostalgic...

(does anyone else think the original art is a bit creepy?)

I'll leave you now, for in a few hours I'll be leaving for Turku, and from their to Stockholm. It's the last outing I'll be making during my Finnish stay. Tune in next time, for Snowfall or That's a Cruise...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Weirdness of the Finnish Language

Yesterday, we had Finnish class, and the teacher said: "Students often say that to study Finnish you have to learn by heart. I think that in many cases this is true." I found it funny, since teachers tend to say the opposite of that, to encourage you.

There is a phenomenon in Finnish, where the beginning "b" of foreign words transforms into "p". For example, "baton" becomes "patonki" (it was very funny, we had to say "täytetty patonki", which means "filled baton", and it was a mouthful, especially in the partitive form "täytettyä patonkia", until I realised that it's so very similar to the Hungarian "töltött", after that it became easy); or "bank" becomes "pankki". So, I was wondering, why does "bus" change into "bussi", and not "pussi"? I then realised, people are making enough fun of this language already, without it having to have a means of public transported sound like an obscene word in English. So, they didn't call it "pussi"... but they kept "slut"?!

Later, I found out that the word "pussi" does exist in Finnish, it means "pack" or "bag", as in "a bag of potatoes". Really fucked up language.

By the way, the photo is from the Moomin Valley Museum in Tampere. I'll tell you all about that in another post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

First Snow

Yesterday, we had our first snowall here in Valkeakoski. It was pathetic. The flakes were so small and limp that at first we thought it was raining. It snowed for only a few minutes and, needless to say, no snow remained afterwards. I was expecting to take a photo of the first snowfall and post it here, but it very unspectacular (and from the photos you can't even tell that it was snowing). I was very disappointed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008



~ Out of the Shadows, Iron Maiden ~

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Minions, Henchmen and the Like...

I used to play a lot of Guild Wars some time ago. Even had a post about it, my second one, actually. The game has changed a lot since I started playing. It kept getting better and better. It had a unique flavour to it, and I fear Guild Wars 2 will lose that (although I highly anticipate it's arrival). But I'm not here to discuss Guild Wars 2. I'm actually here to talk about henchmen.

Henchmen were a very nice idea. In case you couldn't find a willing and determined party, you could always resort to hiring some henchmen to help you complete a mission or a quest, which you possibly couldn't do alone. They really helped a lot, and it sure was better than going against those nasty Mursaat alone. However, henchmen had a huge flaw. They were stupid. I mean, really stupid. They would always go where they weren't supposed to, they would keep fighting when you wanted to retreat, and they would stand by looking at the scenery while you were getting butchered by those Titans. At first, that was forgiveable, after all, the makers of the game wanted to give you only a little bit of help, they still encourage forming player parties.

When Guild Wars: Factions came out (that's the first expansion, for those who don't know), they made henchmen a lot more intelligent. They started using skills better and they showed you a lot more support, overall. They still sucked compared to even the least skilled of players (though that wasn't always true), they were a huge improvement over the first batch of henchmen. However, with the release of the aforementioned expansion, a new mode of PvP was released, in which you could compete against computer-controlled enemies. This was weird. PvP was pretty competitive. How could henchmen-like enemies survive more than one round in this environment? Turns out, they were nothing like henchmen. These computer-controlled enemies were precision killing machines. You needed a pretty good team to beat them. They had typical builds and used them to perfection. For example, the Elementalist had a skill that ignored armor, but had some cooldown time and even gave you exhaustion (meaning it reduced your maximum energy for a short amount of time). At a high enough level, this skill dealt around 100 damage (and since it ignored armour, it really did 100 damage), and your maximum life was around 480. Imagine a build of four Elementalist who cast this spell at exactly the same time. It meant that your party members died of one by one, with only a window of 5 seconds (the skill's recharge time) between deaths to actually hurt them. That showed us the truth: henchmen could be a lot smarter, but they are intentionally made stupid! Outrageous!

Why do I talk about this now? Well, I've been playing Diablo 2 recently, here in Finland. It brings back a lot of memories. One of the things I didn't remember was that your mercenary companion is stupid. It's a strange coincidence that they are also called henchmen, here in Diablo 2. It's so strange. They have so little to do, compared to the high-paced skill-clicking havoc of Guild Wars, yet they prove to be complete jerk-offs. I mean, how can you suck so bad?! They get lost, they get stuck behind walls, they fight monsters on opposing corners of the screen, and so much more. Once, I was playing with a ranged character and had a mêlée henchmen. Of course, he didn't want to go into the fray, so I was forced to draw enemies out, and then, when I retreat, instead of covering me, so that I could turn around shoot, he started running as well and I ended up being picked off by the enemy. Damn!

Do game creators get a sadistic pleasure from making computer-controlled aids of the player be more of a burden than assistance?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Menthos. The Freshmaker.

I usually have nothing against smokers. It's their life, they are free to waste it as they please. As long as they don't blow in my direction. I wrote in an earlier post about how most locals here in Finland prohibit smoking, and the clubs that do have a smoking area have it well isolated from the non-smoking one. I wish that were the case in Romania. It isn't, so whatever. Back home I have to resume to kindly asking smokers to hold their cigarettes in the hand that's farther away from me.

Like I said, usually I have nothing against smokers, but today I really got angry at them. It's starting to get cold here in Finland. There was no snow yet (at least not in Valkeakoski), but by the time we went to school (at around 10 a.m.), there was so much frost on the ground, that you could have sworn it had snowed the night before. The air was so fresh, that you didn't even mind the cold. As sleepy as I was, as soon as I stepped outside, I felt invigorated.

As soon as I get to school, a momentary hatred for smokers bust out of me. The school has two buildings, and in both of them smoking is prohibited. The walkway that connects the two buildings is the only place arranged for smokers on campus grounds. As we made our way from one building to the other, a fetid smell killed off a lot of the small hairs in my nostrils. There were no smokers there, but the smell left behind so utterly destroy the sweet scent of the cold morning freshness that it was simply outrageous.

I know, you could blame the smokers for smoking, or the administrators for making the only connection between the two buildings the only place where they can smoke, or a dozen other groups of people. I know it is not really anybody's fault, but it left me with such a vile feeling, that I simply had to rant about it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New Age

I woke up very early this morning (though I can't tell why) with a huge hunger for bread with chocolate spread on it (yum yum). While happily munching down on the aforementioned snack, I turned on the news (on the Internet, of course) and saw that according to CNN projections, Barack Obama is elected as the President of the United States of America. Now, I usually consider myself a non-political person, however, there are some political events that do interest me. The US Presidential elections of 2008 were one of them. And the outcome?... It thrilled me!

Unless he is a slave to the Puppet Masters, we are looking forward to a change for the better (in this stinking world of ours). Actually, there are a lot of changes happening around us. Not only are we witnessing the election of the first black US President, but a few days ago we could also enjoy (at least some of us) the first black F1 World Championship champion. Is a new age dawning?

Monday, November 03, 2008


I've noticed that I tend to a lot write about stupidity, and the source of stupidity, scientifically known as idiots. It's not a big thing, everyone writes about that, however, I seem to lack a tag for this genre of posts. So, as of today, I've incorporated the Idiocracy tag (though I doubt anyone browses my posts using tags).

So, to start this post about stupidity, I'll tell you about subtitles. When people set out to subtitle works, they should be aware that it's hard work. In case subtitles come out really stupid, it's probably one of the following: the subtitler (that word is probably inexistant) doesn't know the original language, the subtitler doesn't know the destination language, the subtitler has a hearing impediment, the subtitler is an idiot.

Recently I saw some good movies with bad subtitles and some bad movies with even worse subtitles. Let me give you some examples. The guy who's riding a motorcycle throughout the movie andat the end buys a car saying "I sold my chopper", translated as "Am vandut elicopterul". "People forget that the M in MRI stands for 'magnetic'", translates to "Nu uita ca razele X sunt magnetice". "You might want to avoid the red tape" some believe means "Poate vrei sa eviti covorul rosu".

And these are just a few examples of the stupidities I came across. If you know any similar idiotic (or funny) subtitle (or translation) cases, preferably ones you experienced, feel free to share it with us.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Does anyone know what happened to the LHC? A little while ago, before they started it on 10 September 2008, people were all over the place saying that the world was going to end. Since nothing happened, people calmed down and continued living their meaningless lives (ignoring the fact that the actual experiment would be held on 21 October 2008).

So what happened? Why isn't there talk about the Higgs boson? Simply because the experiment didn't take place. It seems that there was an electrical malfunction on 19 September 2008, which pushed back the schedule of the experiment a few months.

What I want to talk about is the reaction of the people. Don't you find this interesting? I mean, everyone (by that I mean "everyone stupid enough not to read the least bit about the LHC") was panicking when there was nothing wrong with the machine, but when it malfunctioned, no one gave a damn! Didn't they watch those old James Bond movies where hitting a console with something hard (like a steel pipe) made the whole machine blow up? If that were the case, I would certainly be more at unease since the malfunction of the LHC than before... And who knows, the malfunction may yet have destroyed the Earth... have you noticed the soon-to-be worldwide economic collapse that's happening all around? I'm sure the LHC had something to do with that, although it's not as spectacular as creating a blackhole that would swallow the planet...