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.