Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Music can name the unknameable and communicate the unknowable
~ Leonard Brenstein
In the end I think of music as saving grace for all humanity
~ Henry Miller

Music is well said to be the speach of angels, in fact nothing among the utterences of man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite
~ Thomas Carlyle

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything

A painter paints their pictures on a canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence
~ Leopold Stokowski

See deep enough, and you see musically; the heart of nature being everywhere music
~ Thomas Carlyle

Music is the shorthand of emotion
~ Leo Tolstoy

Music was invented to confirm human lonliness
~ Lawrence Durrell

Without music life would be a mistake
~ Nietzche

Music expresses that which can not be said on which it is impossible to be silent
~Victor Hugo

The first time I heard Andrea Bocelli sing was with Sarah Brightman as a duet and the song was Time to say goodbye The song came from the radio, and I had no idea who the singers were, and since it was almost all in Italian I did not understand a word of it. I have always listened to the radio expecting a message from heaven. Some sound or words that would shake my foundations.

The music was so beautiful and the voices so majestic and soaring that I found tears welling up in my eyes. I had no idea what I was crying for. It was just uncontrolable. Was it deep communicating to deep? I remember as a child when the wind was high and blowing fiercely there would be a singing in the telephone wires. The wind which is just a movement of air drew a sound out of the wires, and so it was with me, some sonic resonance plucked a chord deep inside me that I did not know existed.

Perhaps it was about sadness and loss, or perhaps a deep yearning to be connected once again in a fresh way with all of my family. Music has always had a powerful effect on me, in that it stirs up my emotions. There is nothing much I can do about it. I have observed my children taking sidways glances at my face, and wondering if their father is going to start crying when listening to a particular piece of music.

Long ago I decided that if I ever got the opportunity to listen to Andrea Bocelli live, then I would do it. He just happened to be singing in Helsinki on my birthday on the 19th of November, so I went to see him. It was magical. He did three encores and received a standing ovation. The applause was thunderous and it was agumented by the noisey stamping of feet from 10,000 people. He finished the night off with a heartbreaking rendition of Time to say goodbye with Doriana Milazzo

So what was it like

It was like completing some code and getting a programme to work
It was like a thousand small birds fluttering inside your heart
It was like a dance on a sandy beach
It was like winning a penalty shootout
It was like having brown eyes in a blue eyed family
It was like snowboarding on powdery snow
It was like finding cloudberries in the forest
It was like knitting a pair of warm woolen socks
It was like eating new potatoes that you have grown yourself
It was like telling a story and making everybody laugh
It was like blushing when told you are loved
It ravished my soul.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The end of a perfect day

The end of a perfect day
Originally uploaded by HyperBob.
(Eric Bogle)

Have you stood by the ocean, on a diamond-hard morning
And felt the hor-izon stir deep in your soul
Watched the wake of a steamer as it cut through blue water
And been gripped by a fever you just can't control

Oh to throw off the shackles and fly with the seagulls
To where green waves tumble before a driving sea wind
Or to lie on the decking on a warm summer's evening
Watch the red sun fall burning, be-neath the earth's rim

cho: But to every sailor, comes time to drop anchor
Haul in the sails, and make the lines fast
You deep water dreamer, your journey is over
You're safe in the harbour at last
You're safe in the harbour at last

Some men are sailors, but most are just dreamers
Held fast by the anchors they forge in their minds
Who in ther hearts know they'll never sail over deep water
To search for a treasure they're afraid they won't find

So in sheltered harbours, they cling to their anchors
Bank down their boilers and shut down their steam
And wait for the sailors to re-turn with bright treasures
That will fan the dull embers and fire up their dreams

But to every sailor, comes time to drop anchor
Haul in the sails, and make the lines fast
You deep water dreamer, your journey is over
You're safe in the harbour at last
You're safe in the harbour at last

And some men are schemers who laugh at the dreamers
Take the gold from the sailors and turn it to dross
They're men in a prison, they're men without vision
Whose only horizon is profit and loss

So when storm clouds come sailing a-cross your blue ocean
Hold fast to your dreaming for all that your're worth
For as long as there's dreamers, there will always be sailors
Bringing back their bright treasures from the corners of earth

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cat cushions

"You know at airports they have these massage chairs?"

"Those big black things, as big as a leather porno sofa, and you just pop a coin in the slot, and you get a good going over, better than a security guard giving you a full body search at Munich airport"

"Yeah well in Hydra they have these famous cat cushions. They are fantastic. They are made to look like real cats, and you will find them on the chairs of most waterfront resturants"

"Are you sure they were cat cushions? They could have been real cats"

"Look don't you think a real cat would get up and run away if somebody was about to sit on them?"

"So was it comfy in a furry sort of way?

"Well when I sat on it I thought it was some sort of sophisticated whoopie cushion, except instead of the usual baked beans and pork sound of chronic flatulence, it made the sonic equivalent of a good bit of oak hardwood being pushed through a circular saw."

"But besides sounds was it comfy?"

"Well if it had some sort of control setting on it then it must have been set to maximum. It was vibrating like crazy"

"A cat cushion doing the Saint Vitus dance?"

"Precisely, but I reckon the batteries must have been low since it only worked for a short time then stopped."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Step right up and get your Ilo Ilo ice-cream

Step right up, step right up, step right up,Everyone's a winner, bargains galore That's right, you too can be the proud owner Of the quality goes in before the name goes on One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales You need perfume? we got perfume, how 'bout an engagement ring? Something for the little lady, something for the little lady, Something for the little lady, hmm Three for a dollar We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you They come in all colors, one size fits all No muss, no fuss, no spills, you're tired of kitchen drudgery Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business Going out of business sale Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man Don't settle for less How do we do it? how do we do it? volume, volume, turn up the volume Now you've heard it advertised, don't hesitate Don't be caught with your drawers down, Don't be caught with your drawers down You can step right up, step right up

That's right, it filets, it chops, it dices, slices, Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots, It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens And it finds that slipper that's been at large under the chaise lounge for several weeks And it plays a mean Rhythm Master, It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar And it's only a dollar, step right up, it's only a dollar, step right up 'Cause it forges your signature If not completely satisfied, mail back unused portion of product For complete refund of price of purchase Step right up

Please allow thirty days for delivery, don't be fooled by cheap imitations You can live in it, live in it, laugh in it, love in it Swim in it, sleep in it, Live in it, swim in it, laugh in it, love in it Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets, that's right And it entertains visiting relatives, it turns a sandwich into a banquet Tired of being the life of the party? Change your shorts, change your life, change your life Change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife, And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack, see you later alligator See you later alligator And it steals your car It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking

It's a friend, and it's a companion, And it's the only product you will ever need Follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing Well it takes weights off hips, bust, thighs, chin, midriff, Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job, it is a job And it strips the phone company free take ten for five exchange, And it gives you denture breath And you know it's a friend, and it's a companion And it gets rid of your traveler's checks It's new, it's improved, it's old-fashioned Well it takes care of business, never needs winding, Never needs winding, never needs winding Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis, Christ, you don't know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy, C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon' Cause it's effective, it's defective, it creates household odors, It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection It gives you an erection, it wins the election

Why put up with painful corns any longer? It's a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it We need your business, we're going out of business We'll give you the business Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale Receive our free brochure, free brochure Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,

Step right up, step right up, step right up You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away Step right up, you can step right up, you can step right up C'mon step right up (Get away from me kid, you bother me...) Step right up, step right up, step right up, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon Step right up, you can step right up, c'mon and step right up, C'mon and step right up

Tom Waits "Step Right Up!"

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You can keep your hat on

The problem is twofold, snoring and dampness. On a sailing boat the cabins are small and if chance has it you might land it a cabin with a mighty snorer. It is usually big men on their backs that can snore up a storm.

You just might get to sleep if the snoring is as regular as a cross-cut saw. If it has a rythme to it, you can imaging a clock ticking, or sheep jumping over a hurdle, and you just might be shepheded ito the sweet pastures of slumberland.

But if the snoring is vaugely reminicent of a misfiring motor bike which keeps having intermitant backfires then you are kept awake listening for the engine to run smoothly. It never does. At its worse the engine stalls and there is complete silence, and you wait and wait, wondering If it is going to kick into life again, and of course it does just when you are begining to doze off. I bought earplugs to help me get to sleep, but they kept falling out, and hence were of little use.

On the night after the storm we walked in the village of Poros, and I wore my wollen hat. We went into a resturant and I took off my wooly hat and I imediately felt cold. Someone said to me that 50% of the body heat is lost through the head, so I put the hat on and felt much warmer.

Now the beds in the cabin were damp after the storm and I had difficulty getting to sleep because of the cold and dampness, so I decided to put on my hat to see if I would feel any warmer, and it did seem to help, and in addition with the hat pulled well down over the ears, it stopped the ear-plugs from falling out.

So the wooly hat solved three problems for me. It kept me warn, It stopped my ear-plugs from falling out, and it added extra soundproofing so I was able to ignore the snoring and get some sleep.

Now here is a poem that mentions sleeping snoring and moorings

Being Boring

If you ask me 'What's new?',
I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.

Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work.
He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears of passion-I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last.I
f nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement,
steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life:
I aspireTo go on and on being boring.

— Wendy Cope If I Don't Know (Faber & Faber) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dogs are children too

Her coat was that green woolen Austrian type and she wore a felt hat with a peacock feather in it. She was short, Her hair was short, sort of like that designer woman in the "Incredibles". She was bossing a young man from the airport who was carrying a transport box with a dog in it.

"Put my baby on the back seat. He wont make a mess. He is a good baby. The animal hospital at Viiki and quick. What do you mean you don't know where it is? Look my baby has had an operation and he needs to be in intensive care. Don't you darling, don't cry mummy is with you"

I asked her for an address and she handed me a slip of paper and I entered it into the navigator. Viikintie 49, the road existed but the navigator could not find number 49, which usually means that the buildings are new.

"What do you mean number 49 does not exist. This is an emergency. The doctors are waiting for us, aren't they baby. Just drive to Viiki and we will find it there. This dog cost 8000 euros, didn't you baby, He's a stud, aren't you darling,"

Going down the Tuusalan road, the dog in its cage decides to vomit and void its bowels at the same time. I am gagging at the wheel. I open th back window.

"Close that window, do you want to give my baby pneumonia? Do you know where you are going? It seems to be taking a long time. What do you mean you don't know where you are going. You are a taxi driver, you're supposed to know. That navigator just told you to turn right but you are going straight on. Don't worry darling muumy is here"

I point out that you can't do a right turn from Tuusulantie to Koskelantie. I point out that Viikintie is ahead that seems to calm her but not her baby in the cage. Viikintie is long and I drive along it slow looking for the Animal hospital.

"Why are you driving so slow, my baby needs to be intensive care. Do you see any road numbers"

I explain that Viiki has now become a big Helsinki University site and perhaps we should drive onwards since the animal hospital might be there, and all the while I was thinking what if we can't find the place. What if the dog dies. What will this uberfrau do then. On the road to Hertoniemi I spot a sign for the Animal hospital and we finally arrive. She gets out of the car and orders me to carry her baby to the front door. The doors are closed and they won't open. It is 10:30 at night.

"What do you mean read the sign on the door. Where, where? Oh!!! the intercom. Open up... Open up, I've flown all the way from Oulu with my baby and he needs to be in intensive care, Why isn't there anybody here. The doctor in Oulu phoned and told them to expect us. This is just not right. I've spent thousands of euros on an operation. I have not slept a wink in the last 18 hours. My baby needs help now. Open up... open up"

The doors mysteriously slid open and we passed inside. I left her baby on a bench and left. I drove home with the windows rolled down.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sixties sailing

Excerpt from Dairy:

The rainbow boys beat us into the harbour at Hydra, and anchored safely behind the water break. Hydra harbour is small and messy and you have to drop anchor and reverse back to the moorings, which makes life complicated.

With too many boats attempting to do this at the same time the anchor chains were getting tangled in a mess. But that would be a problem for another day. We tied up alongside a red rusty tanker called CHRISTOS that was carrying sand for ballast.

We woke the next moring with the waves breaking over the back of the boat. The fenders which were seperating us from the tanker CHRISTOS were not doing their job, and were riding upwards, and threatening to pop out of place. Other boats were begining to come into the harbour to get shelter from the storm. There was a lot of shouting going on. Anchor chains were in a mess. People were in the water trying to free things up. It was chaotic so we decided to get away from it all, so we cast off an headed out to sea.

The waves were about 4-5 meters high and everybody got suited up in their waterproofs. The boat was brought around into the wind and the mailsail was hoisted and adjusted so it was a storm rigging. Only a quarter of the sail was used. The sea was very rough and the bow of the boat was diving into the troughs of the waves, and the spray broke over the decking and soaked everything. Life vests were put on and everybody was hanging on for dear life to some ropes from the rigging.

The boat was keeling over so water was coming over the scuppers and if you went down into the cabin below then the sea water was up past the windows. Everybody was getting drenched to the skin and the wind was so severe we had to shout to be heard above it. The skipper at the helm had to continually wash the salt water from his eyes because the spray was being thrown in his face evertime we hit a wave

We were heading for Poros and the sailing was like being on a roller coaster, with the exception that the ride went on for 5 hours instead of 5 minutes, and at every dive into the waves it seemed a bucket of water had been thrown in your face. Going through a narrow channel between two islands the waves were between eight and ten meters and the wind according to the GPS was gusting at 45 knots. In this photo I think Esa was saying something about the oncoming waves, and looking a bit worried.

It was about this time I was sick three times in quick succession. Eggs, bread, cheese, and yoghurt over the side and down wind. I did not dare to go below decks to get out of the weather since if you loose sight of the horizon then it brings back the feeling of sea-sickness. So I slumped down on the corner of the cockpit on a pile of ropes and let the sea water hit me for at least three hours. At least the water was warm.

When we arrived in Poros everyone was soaked to the skin. Right through to the underwear. It was good to change into something dry and clean, but the real problems begin when seven men strip off and hang their wet clothes up to dry in a confined space. Every peg or railing has wet clothes hanging from them and the floors are awash with water, and condensation is dripping from the cabin roof and the bed clothes are damp.

But it could have been worse. It might have been raining. Later we learned that 4 boats had been smashed to smithereens in the Hydra harbour, so even though it was a crazy sail from Hydra to Poros we were all glad we had gotten out of that harbour safely.

Monday, October 09, 2006

My mama said there would be days like this

The sky was supposed to be blue. The sun smiling down on us, but instead there was a miserable drizzle that set the boats packing. Nobody want to stand out in th rain selling pickled herring. So the weekend saw the end of the baltic herring market in the south harbour.

Everybody was shutting up shop, and they had cooked excessive amounts of muikku and salmon, so despite the rain people were still queuing up to buy muikku fried in butter and spiced with rye flour, black pepper and salt

Regardless of the horrible weather the car parks were jammed and brave souls were walking about with umberellas looking for a special deal. Herring in dill, herring with onions, herring in mustard sauce, herring with lime and corriander, herring with jamacian allspice, smoked herring, grilled herring, raw herring. If you had wanted herring and banana maninated in napoleone brandy then I think you could have found it.

I suppose it is all about the joys for the fresh sea air and the wonderful smell of freshly grilled fish that gives you an appetite. The fish market is the one time of the year when you can mingle with the crowds and eat al fresco, and no amount to stinking rain is going to change that fact.

The man selling miracle glue has a small green sign at the back of his tent saying "jesus is coming are you ready" The subtle message is that here is a righteous man who would not cheat you and that his miracle glue really is miracle glue. Perhaps the security gaurd was taking him to task over the claims he was making for his glue, or perhaps the salesman was laying down the gospel.

In bad weather almost everyboby wants to be in out of the rain, and any shelter will do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The ascent of the spining fork onions to heaven

There is a a project on Flickr caled the Iron Photographer, something like the Iron Chef where you are given a few ingredients and asked to concoct some meal from it, but in this case the creation is a photograph.

This time it was

Something from your fridge. I had some onions
Something from your toolbox. Well if you like eating the drawer where the knifes and forks are kept is considered your tools. Right?
One predominant colour. I went for the yellow of the onions.

To rig the whole thing up required very fine white thread. I think that was the most dificult part of the setup. Getting the forks and onions to hang just right. Then it came to taking the photo. I took it from many different angles bout none of them looked right. In the end I went for a shot from below.

To actually take the photo I set the camera onto infinate burst mode and spun the forks around, and shot 50 or more photos, and I selected the most pleasing one for post-processing

So how do you NEARLY get rid of the white threads. I bumped the ev up to over +1 was the first thing to do so as to over-expose the photo, and then in Picasa I croped and straightened and rotated until I got the look that I wanted, namely forks with onions spiraling upwards.

Once the composition was taken care of the saturation and highlights were increased so the background turned white and almost all shadows disappeared. In doing this a lot of noise and grain is generated so I got rid of that with a programme called Neat Image.

In the end the white threads holding the mobile together have almost disappeared and the chrome of the forks is smooth and sparkely.

The things you do when your wife is out of the country.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Living on an island

She was born and lived on an island that was 24 kilometres from Helsinki. Her father was a fisherman, and in the morning he would take her to school by boat. In the winter the sea would freeze over. That would have been fine because she could have walked to the mainland, but the ferry boats to Sweden passed her island everyday and smashed the ice, so she always had to make a short rowing boat trip through the broken ice.

To get an education it was long boat trips in the summer, and either walking or skiing in the winter. There were no taxis waiting on standby to take her to school.

At seventeen she was a nurse in the winter war, and saw lots of young men no older than herself die. They were brought to a field hospital near a lake by sea-plane. She married a soldier she met during the war. When death is so close at hand you have to make the most of life.

After the war she became a translator, and translated subtitles for movies. She remembers doing very bad B-movies westerns staring an actor called Ronald Reagan, and was very surprised when someone with so little talent for acting became the president of the United States.

The yard of her house is filled with apple trees. It has been a good harvest this year. She makes apple sauce with the ones that have fallen to the ground, and collects the best to keep in a drawer in the house or give away to her friends.

She wears a small silver oak leaf on her jumper. It is some reminder of the war and her part in it. She does not wish she had had a taxi to take her to school. She had the best father in the world to do that for ten years of her life.

At night she longs to be back on that island.

Monday, September 11, 2006


This is a medal won by my grandfather in 1905. He jumped over 19 feet 10 inches in the long leap, and I was told he won 10 shillings as a prize. He left Wick Caithnesshire and went to Argentina to become a Goucho.

He came back to Scotland and at the age of 40 married a girl of 16. They had four children. I never saw my grandmother. She died before I was born. The only time I saw my grandfather he was on his death bed, and a shell of the man who had rode wide horses in Argentina, and who had a 14 inch bicep from shearing sheep

But although when he died he was a husk of a man. I still have his medal to prove that once he jumped over 19 feet. It now has two nicks on the lower edge, because I use it to unlock trollies at the supermarket when I need them.

I do not have any medals to give my own children, and for them many things will remain locked.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We're like fire throwers man

Hey dude like that is one firey stick you got there.
What you say we do some flame swirling in unison.
You know like Ugh them Berkley babes or something.
Like when they swim in the water an all.
Synchronised stuff with flames instead of water.
Wouldn't that be cool.
I mean like it would be kalidescopic.
Psychodelic even
Jees did I just say Psychodelic
I meant psychedelic
You can't half twirl that stick man.
What you say I toss my stick in the air
and at the same time you toss your stick in the air
Yeah that groovy
Now you toss your stick to me and I toss my stick to you
Hey man I can't see a thing
What the... you nearly had my eye out then.
Shit my hoodie is on fire
Man that's not cool
What you mean it's Hot?
I'll give you hot.
You sumabitch

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And the band played on

Somebody drops down dead drunk in the street. People stop and stare. One person bends over him to see if he is OK. A woman with a shoping bag marches resolutely passed him. The man in the cowboy hat observes but continues to pick away on his violin and tap his toe in time. The models in the windows ingnore the whole scene. The man behind the camera he snaps and moves on.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A place to stay

Buildings that stay in one place have been around for centuries. Before that there were movable dwellings. A few sticks covered with skins. When the herd moved on the dwelling place moved with them. When the grass was no longer, the skins were rolled up and the sticks bound together, and new pastures were saught.

Mongolians lived in yurts, Indians in wigwams, Arabs in tents, and the Jews had a tabernacle to worship their God

This tent was pitched in Helsinki for the night of the arts. It did not have a door, and from a distance it sounded that druming was coming from inside it. The rythms were ancient, played by modern people, living in flats with treble glazing, and central heating.

Behind the National museum on the night of the arts they sang opera. For opera it would seem you need opera houses. Big solid buildings made of marble or granite. Halls designed to give the best acoustics. Plush velvet seats and lights that can be dimmed at the flick of a switch. Dressing rooms, heavy curtains and an orchestra pit to house the violin players and the man with the big trombone, not to mention space for kettle drums and tubas. The singers take the stage in all their finery and it is all about glamour and glitz.

As I stood on Mannerheimtie I was caught between the two sounds. The pagan acoustic druming in a mysteriously closed tent, and the amplified tenor doing a mighty John Mc'Cormack.

I will let you guess which one I was drawn to.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A fishy story

In the summer the well runs dry, but this year because of the really warm weather the well was empty earlier than expected. Still, being a few meters underground the well is the coolest place to store food, since the summerhouse does not have any fridge, due to the fact it does not have any electricity.

So a side of salmon was put into a bucket and lowered into the well to keep it cool. However the bucket tiped over and the salmon fell to the bottom of the well.

It was then that the intrepid Riina decided to go down the well to recover the fish. She had read all the Tarzan books ever written and this looked just the job for someone imbuded with Tarzan exploits. It was all a matter of doing a spiderman thing, feet against one wall of the well, and your back against the other and edging your way down to the bottom.

For some reason, as with many things in life, theory is one thing and practice is another. The narrowness of the well, and her adult size was a bad combination, that no amount of Tarzan novel reading, could have prepared Riina to accept failure. Some ideas just don't work.

But in the best Zane Gray tradition a pow-wow was held and various suggestions were put forth as to how to recover the fish from the well. Grab it chop-stick fashion with two long sticks. Catch it with a fish hook. In the end Olli, since he had a REAL spiderman suit decided it was his duty to save the fish from the murky depths of the well.

The final solution was to loop a rope around Olli's armpits, which had been suitably padded with cushions, and Harrison Ford style, lower the minature spiderman into the dark pit of the well, to recover the precious fish for dinner. Was hunger his real motivation, or did he have the heart of a hero? Those philosophical questions will perhaps forever remain unanswered.

Rinna and Raisa donned thick gloves to prevent rope burn and gradually lowered Olli down the well, while Noa and Jasper added vocal encouragement. Having secured the precious fish Olli was hauled out of the well to the mighty applause to the rejoicing crowd.

Having returned triumphant from his adventure down the well Olli proudly held the slab of smoked salmon aloft. He was like a champion standing on the olympic podium, cushions still tied under his armpits, and the smile of victory on his face, while and admiring audience gazed raptly at the fishy prize in his hand.

There would be fish for dinner after all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Photographing the moon and other things

Camera: Panasonic DMC-TZ1
Exposure: 15 sec (15)
Aperture: f/4.1
Focal Length: 28.2 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/1677721600 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

We think that if we know the details of something, then we have a better understanding of how that thing came to be. The existance of a photo depends on the presence of a camera and a person taking the photograph. That is only stating the obvious, but when I look at the information contained in the EXIF data that comes attached to every digital photo, then I have no idea what the Exposure Bias is, or what would happen if that value was changed, or even how to go about changing it.

I have a vague idea that the Aperture or F-stop deals with the amount of light getting into the camera and that it works in a way that the bigger the f-stop then the smaller the hole, and vica versa.

The ISO speed of the film gives some idea of how sensitive the film is to light. The higher the ISO speed then the more sensitive is the film to light, but since digital cameras do not have film, what is the point and what do the values really mean.

The exposure tim of 15 sec is easy to understand, since it was a dark night and the aperture had to be held open for a long time so enough light would get into the camera to be captured by that none existant film.

Sometimes I wonder if we analyse our lives like this, and we treat our lives as photographs. We think. I am a bad photograph because I have been exposed to long. I have a bad conscience and I am not sensitive enough. Or perhaps the photograph that we are depends on some value like 0/1677721600 EV and we have absolutely no idea what that means or how to change it or how it has affected us.

Is there such a thing as perfect values to give a perfect photo? I think not. Even if everybody set the controls of their lives to perfect values, there is no garuentee that the photo that is their lives would turn out OK, since some have shakey hands and others use a tripod, some use a Nikon, and some use a Kodak, some are born with a golden tripod in their mouths, and millions of megapixels in their bank account, some only have a cheap Holga and discount film from a bargain basement, yet they make better and more exciting photos of their lives than those who are more privilged.

Then there is the question of composition and framing. Some people do not have the eye for the right thing. The always seem to make the wrong choices, always make the wrong settings, and the photo of their lives is blurred and out of focus.

Perhaps we are who were are because the Flash did not fire

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Finnish fireworks competition

The last camera I had it was impossible to take photos of fire work displays. By the time the shutter clicked the fireworks were gone. My new camera does much better.

The run up to the fireworks night was not so good since I failed miserably trying to take photos of a full moon which was blood red... (something to do with the smoke and pollutants coming from the forest fires in Russia). Then I tried to get the photos by holding the camera steady in my hand, but at a 10x zoom and on a dark night with a long exposure it is just impossible to focus.

And even though the new camera has an anti-shake mechanism the moon was dancing about the LCD screen like a skittish firefly. So for the firework night I invested in a tripod, and read up on how to take firework photographs. The TZ1 has a fireworks setting.

On the night I went to Lautasaari, and was surprised that there were hundreds of cars rolling off the Lansivyla and down to the beach. It was impossible to find a parking space, andI eventually found a space about a kilometer away, down an alley-way and parked up on the pavement. When I finally got to the beach area it was thronging and it was difficult to find a place to set up the camera.

The camera in "firework mode" does a longer exposure and it is noticeable that it takes time to write to the SD card, and I seemed to be missing some of the most spectacular displays, so I set the camera to "burst mode" and just held the shutter down so there was a continuous capture onto the card.

Over an hour period between the shows I must have shot over 200 photos. Some of them were rubbish but some I felt were excellent. The battery was half drained by the end of the night, and when everyone had left I sat down by the seashore and edited out the bad photos. So at the end I had about 50 photos of the event which I liked.

It was then that I noticed the crescent moon over the docks and I set about trying to capture the moon I missed about a week ago... but that is another story.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Run and Spit dance

Run and Spit dance
Originally uploaded by HyperBob.
The run & spit dance is not very complicated. I basically has two major moves to it, namely running and spitting. You can also flail your arms about like a windmill, and shake your hair about wildly until it gets all tangled and knotty

The dance has been successful if you hair gets in such a mess that your mother can not get a hair brush through it, and it can be counted a roaring success if in the aftermath, as your mother brushes your hair, she exclaims, "Your knotty."

You can then argue in depth with her that you are not naughty, and that she should join you the next time in the run & spit dance, cos it is a dance to bring you joy.

Your grandfather remarks. "Modern people try to solve their problems by being rational, whereas primative people solve their problems by dancing," and wonders if the run & spit dance was a rain dance, to end the drought in Finland.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sunflower Sutra

Sunflower Sutra

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves
rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black
treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel
knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog
and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays
obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but death and human
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black
mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance
of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--
modern--all that civilization spotting your
crazy golden crown--
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless
eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the
milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs
& sphincters of dynamos--all these
entangled in your mummied roots--and you there
standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
grime, while you cursed the heavens of the
railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
flower? when did you look at your skin and
decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?
the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
too, and anyone who'll listen,
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed
by our own seed & golden hairy naked
accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black
formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening
sitdown vision.

Allen Ginsberg

Berkeley, 1955

Monday, July 31, 2006

And the eyes in his head see the sun going down

In Vantaa there is a field of sunflowers and on Sunday I went for a walk in this field. Vantaa city has a policy that anybody can go into the field and pick the sunflowers for themselves or to give away as presents.

I think it is a wonderful policy that flowers are grown for the pleasure and joy of the public. When I was there, many families were out for an afternoon walk and were moving through the fields of green. One small boy was almost lost in the jungle of greenery. One small girl was collecting ladybirds and was not interested in the flowers at all.

It has been dry for 6 weeks in Finland, with no rain at all, and even though the flowers are over the little boys head, they barely reach his parents knees. On the radio there has been talk of crop failure. My own crops at my allotment have suffered because I have not been watering them regularly.

I think of famine in Africa. People sowing seed, but nothing growing. I am reminded of a BBC documentary "Global dimming" and a poem by Alan Ginsberg about a sunflower covered by the pollution of cement dust from a factory.

It is a precious thing to be able to enjoy the wonders of nature, and to see the sunflowers turn their heads from the rising of the sun until the setting of the same.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

life in the slow lane

I remember when I was driving to India in a 1954 80" SWB Land Rover. We decided to be economical and drive there at 40 mph so as to get the best fuel consumption.

You do not do this on an autobahn in Germany because truck drivers have schedules to meet, and business-men have to do their business, and they don't want a bunch of long haired hippies sauntering along in the slow lane at 40 mph.

Taking things easy has always been frowned apon if you belong to those germanic or northern countries where the protestant work ethic hold sway.

Taking things easy is ifrowned apon and is often classified as laziness, and you know what they say... the Devil always has work for idle hands. It would seem that there should be no peace for the wicked, yet God himself took a break on the seventh day and rested.

It has been said that the Finns have only recently come out of the forest and at every opportunity they go back into it. I think this is a very wise thing to do. It is what keeps people sane. Living life in the slow lane with no electricity, no running water, no flush toilets, no cooking facilities, tends to slow you down.

You have time to fish, time to swim, time to paint, time to dance in the grass, time to relax.

To fish you have to dig for worms, bait the hook, pick your spot and time of the day, and then wait. Fishing is mostly about waiting. Fishing helps you to be patient. If you catch a big fish it is an incredibley joyous occasion. There is a fight with the fish and then the struggle to land it. The fish has to be taken off the hook, and if you are in a mind to eat it, it has to be cleaned and cooked. All of this takes time.

If you want to really relax then there is no better way than to watch paint dry. This is a very time consuming process. First of all you have to prepare a good wooden surface, let's say the side of a wooden house. Take a steel brush to get rid of all the old blistered paint, and then give the surface a good going over with a course sandpaper. Experts who are serious about watching paint dry can then give the wall a second going over with a finer grade sandpaper.

Now comes the most difficult part, making the decision as to what kind of paint to apply. I ask you where is the fun in using some quick drying paint.? If you are at all serious about watching paint dry then you need to choose an oil based paint. It will take ages to dry, and it will give you hours of pleasure, first of all when you apply it to the wood, and secondly as it slowly changes colour during the drying process.

Best results can be had on days of high humidity, The paint takes so much longer to dry. Painting on a sunny day is a short lived pleasure, and presents no challenge to anyone who is really serious about watching paint dry.

I watching paint dry seems too frenetic for you then a really worthwhile substitute activity is holding the ladder steady while somebody else does the work. That demands lots of patience.

If you do not have gas or electricity then the only way to cook is on an open fire. So the wood has to be sawn and chopped, and kindling made to get the fire started. Fire-lighters are not allowed. That makes starting a fire too easy. The kindling has to be built up in a criss-cross fashion on top of a layer of paper which has been screwed up in a secret way that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Twisting paper to make a fire is an essential skill.
It is imprper to throw a couple of newspapers, untwisted on to the fire. Twisting paper correctly takes time, and the more time it takes to make the fire then the hungrier you will become.

Then when it comes to preparing the food, it is a heresy to buy something ready made from the shop. That is just too quick. If you are living life in the slow lane then everything has to be done from scratch. First you kill a cow and saw its leg off... only joking... you can get away with buying micemeat but the incorporation of herbs and spices has to take place in a large bowl and it all has to be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon made from a 60 year old juniper tree. The frying should be done on a Hackman's cast iron skillet. Cook for lots of people, and eat everything slowly with plenty of talking.

If you succeed in doing this on a regular basis you will have learnt a secret that keeps Finns sane. Namely take a break from the hustle and bustle of the hectic life in the city and for a change live life in the slow lane.