Weekend with the Honeymooners

August 31, 2008 · Posted in Cabin & countryside · 3 Comments 

Jori and Riikka ditched their plan of spending the week after the wedding abroad, because the summer has been pretty hectic. Instead of a full-blown trip they went to Riikka’s family’s cabin, spending a week together and inviting a bunch of friends for the weekend. The people who made it were Susi, Ville, Katja and I.

Spending a weekend with friends in the countryside didn’t sound half bad for me either, since this summer has been very good, but there has been relatively little downtime. We got to the cabin on Friday, a bit later than I would have wanted. Jori was already warming up the sauna, so we got pretty straight to the business: saunaing, drinking and chatting. The tone of the evening was really nice and relaxed and afterwards Sandman used a crowbar.

Ice-cold vodka from wonky glasses.

Jori pouring ice-cold vodka to wonky glasses.

Saturday started off slowly and comfortably with a breakfast of coffee, garlic baguettes and Donald Duck comics. I dragged my ass to the sunny and humid early autumn day, which was a perfect choice. The cabin yard turned out to be extremely interesting in a biological sense. The lot is quite big and it contains dry forest, a sandy beachfront, a slightly swampy area with saplings and a deepish and very established ditch with a lot of semi-aquatic vegetation.

I spent a happy couple of hours stalking dragonflies, examining boat bugs paddling away under the surface and snapping a photo after a photo.

Beautifully coloured plants on the shoreline.

There were a lot of dragonflies, rustling and darting around.

I'm a total asshole with nature. I want to touch everything, provided I don't harm it. This is something that's going to bite me in the ass sooner or later - not proverbially, I'm afraid.

I'm a total asshole with nature, I want to touch everything, provided I don't harm it. This attitude will bite me in the ass sooner or later - and not figuratively, I'm sure. Once I almost handled a thing whose bite of neural toxins and digestive juices causes gangrene, but that's an another story.

Aquatic plants.

Semi-aquatic plants.

A bumblebee having its lunch.

A bumblebee having its lunch.

A mandatory autumny mushroom pic.

Another mandatory autumny mushroom pic.

There was a feather stuck on a lone blade of grass in the marshy area.

There was a feather stuck on a lone blade of grass in the marshy area.

Some moss.

Some moss.

Different kind of moss.

Different kind of moss.

On one point the shoreline was full of small, floating plants, with a lot of small, extremely fast insects scurrying over them.

On one spot the shoreline was full of small, floating plants, with a lot of small, extremely fast insects scurrying over them. Trying to get a photo of them would have required 20 cups of coffee just to keep up.

My expert opinion is that this is some kind of a bug. Umm... Jere, any help?

My expert opinion is that this is some kind of a bug. Umm... Jere, any help?

A flower fly eating the bumblebees leftovers.

A flower fly eating the bumblebee's leftovers.


Horseback Riding

Later in the afternoon the girls and I were off to a nearby horse stable for some horseback riding. I had never before actually ridden a horse, although I’m not stranger to the animals. My step-grandparents used to breed trotters for harness racing in their farm, so during the summers and winter-holidays of my childhood I spent time a lot of time around horses, seeing the grandpa shoe, race and tend them. I actually got to try riding on a sulky a couple of times, both an old chariot-like version and a modern really light and low cart. It’s quite scary to be drawn in a thing where your ass is almost sweeping the ground and the only thing you see is this enormous back-end of a horse and its flying hooves.

So, for me it was the first time actually sitting on a live horse. The stable had their own thing, which is apparently a mix of centered riding and their own hippie stuff. In practice you gave the horse hints of what to do with four increasing levels of strength, starting with very mild and so on. Long story short, I ended up having fun. It was nice to get the horse to do what I wanted most of the time, plus it was a new experience. Also, horses seem a lot smaller now than when I was about 10 years old, imagine that.

Horses - not built to look smart.

Horses - not built to look smart.

A view from the saddle.

A view from the saddle.

Me grooming the horse before riding. (Photo by Ville)

Me grooming the horse before riding. (Photo by Ville)

Two things not built to look smart.

Two things not built to look smart. (Photo by Ville)

Or course, nowadays horseback riding is thought to be a thing for prepubescent girls. In my opinion this is a perfect example of how people just toss around concepts without thinking about the concrete reality. What is it that you actually do when you ride a horse? You climb on top of 600 kg of herbivore, which is one car horn or a dashing dog away from going bugfuck nuts, running towards direction X while dragging you by your foot – or planting a hoof on your face when it wants give a friendly reminder that you are too close. How exactly is this is girly compared to driving a car, which pretty much obeys whatever you do?

Well, in middle of our riding session it started to rain, so when we got back to the cabin, all of us were thoroughly drenched and covered with dust and horse hair. Jori had apparently received a vision that something like this might happen and he had already warmed up the sauna when we got back. Perfection.

So, the rest of the day – sauna, napping, an insane shitload of food, beer, wine, pancakes and reading Fables until sunrise. On the whole, there isn’t much you could have improved about the day.

The Sunday was a little bit wasted on my part. I’ve been pretty stressed and sleep deprived, so combined with the physical exercise, sauna, food and alcohol, I ended up sleeping ’till early afternoon. Generally I genuinely hate sleeping past noon, but sometimes the body takes its toll. After that there wasn’t that much time to do anything apart from eat more food, pack up all the stuff and leave for home.

This was a very good weekend, certainly one of the most relaxing “pals in a cabin” -things I’ve done. I wish I could have got up earlier on Sunday to go and pick up some mushrooms, but can’t have all and there’s plenty of autumn left.


Tough Work Week & Child Abuse Conference

August 29, 2008 · Posted in Journalism & TV · Comment 

This week was a pretty hard on both at the office and after that with all the freelance work. When I got rid of the day’s job, I was mostly good for watching a couple of episodes of Shield and falling asleep with my dinner in my mouth.

Thursday was an especially interesting, but hardly a pleasant day. I spent it in a conference arranged by Save the Children Finland. The topic of the conference was There Is No Child Pornography – It’s Child  Sexual Abuse and it was mainly about the problems internet and new technology.  I was there to write an article about it in the society’s magazine.

I had been a bit surprised to get the job, since I’ve been speaking publicly against the DNS-based filtering system that has been implemented in Finland. I’m not against a filtering system in general, but in here the implementation is really half-assed. It was meant to be used against sites, which are hosted in countries, where there’s no legal way to shut the sites down. Instead we got a secret list of web pages, which was pretty easy to snoop out. It ended up containing loads of pages in Netherlands and US, some pages with no objectionable content at all and in a pretty famous way a page that was criticizing the filtering techniques. Not to mention the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of official appeals system for the sites that got to the list accidentally.

In any case, there were several speakers from Britain, USA and Denmark – some of them worked for non-governmental organizations, some of them for Interpol and so on. What made the conference interesting was the behind the scenes glimpse to how you could track people using clues left in the photos and the case studies of how offenders got caught. I’m not going to go to specifics here, but the sleuthwork required to track the offenders and the victims is really quite amazing. The case photos, obviously, were less than comfortable to see. For understandable reasons filming and recording was completely forbidden during the conference.

I of course brought up the issue with the filtering systems and it resulted in a very interesting, calm and informed conversation during and after the presentations, which was a welcome change after the emotional pro/con-hysteria in Finnish public discussion and the net. The system Internet Watch Foundation uses in UK seems to be far more sensible than the DNS-based things used in Scandinavia. They don’t block entire domains, but individual pages, plus there is an appeals process. Additionally, according to their representative, with whom I had a nice chat in between the presentations, they are under quite a lot of scrutiny and accountable for what they do.

From the man in Interpol I heard specifics on how the serious offenders hide their sites, which sounded pretty damn technically savvy. Well, now I have comments from two professionals, who told me that the filtering lists are trivial to circumvent and they don’t hinder serious pedophiles in the least (which earned me some stinking looks from the audience). According to them the lists might be an effective deterrent that skims the scum off the top, so to speak – practically they scare away people, who have tendencies towards kids. Apparently there are studies which show the effectiveness of these kinds of deterrents in other areas of net crime, but I haven’t yet received the research data I asked for. I’m very interested to see it, though – I’m sick and tired of hearing “by doing this knee-jerk reactionary thing, the society giving a clear signal about X”, which usually means “we are doing something symbolic, ineffective and ill-advised so that we feel we are doing something”. Now, some hard facts about the effectiveness of these things, thank you.

Well, the conference certainly gave food for thought. I’ve previously been volunteering in Finland’s Red Cross’ Youth Safe Houses in Helsinki and Tampere, but after the conference I sent an application for a volunteer work in Save the Children. I hope they’ll find some use for my skillset.


The First Shootings of the Autumn Season

August 22, 2008 · Posted in Journalism & TV · Comment 

The gaming program I’m producing starts its autumn season in a week, again with some changes to the format. The thing that impacts us the most is probably the fact that we’ll be filming the announcements outdoors, not in our stuffy and hot studio in front of a green screen anymore. I was a little bit nervous about the whole deal, since obviously the great room with a blue ceiling is not a controllable environment, unlike a studio. Our original plan was to film stuff in a gaming store, but it was a beautiful day outside, so we went to Kaisaniemenpuisto park.


The whole work-day ended up being quite fun. I have finally received majority of the materials I need for the beginning of the season and on Friday morning I managed to write most of the first episode. Filming the announcements was fun and although it was a bit more complicated than having Kristiina do the lines in front of a green screen, we all enjoyed it.

After the filming Susi and I went to grab burgers and then headed off to Jori’s and Riikka’s wedding place to check where it is and to help them out a bit, then to Kalle’s house to give our opinions about the bachelor and bachelorette party videos he had edited.

At home I took it easy, playing Civilization: Revolution and taking it easy after a stressing week. On Saturday Jori’s and Riikka’s wedding, on Sunday probably hangover pizza, more gaming and Shield, plus maybe, just maybe some urban exploration in the evening, if I’m feeling energetic enough.


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