Urban Exploration, Swimming & Nerding Around

January 31, 2009 · Posted in Urban Exploration · 2 Comments 

When I woke up today, it was surprisingly cold and sunny outside. One of those nippy and bright winter days which have been in REALLY short order for the last three years or so. The previous week had left me feeling like a roadkill warmed twice over. All the hassle with the apartment and the fever, dealing with the insurance companies, searching for a new flat and trying to do some work at the same time had left me feeling pretty damn dead. Susi and I had to skip my little brother’s superhero themed masquerade party, where we had planned on going as Rorschach and Black Cat (although my current physique would have fit Nite Owl far better). Alas, all the hassle shot down that idea.

Right from the moment when I opened the bedroom curtains a veritable tsunami of stir craziness hit me – there was no question that some outdoorsy activities were in order. Hiking in Nuuksio would have been nice, but by the time I had got my gear together and hauled my ass to the location, the sun would have set. The second choice was to do some light urban exploration after a long pause.

On my way to work I walk past this abandoned silo, which is a pretty well known place for UE enthusiasts, but also for junkies, graffiti people and consequently, the authorities. The place is closed more tightly than George W. Bush’s asshole, but I decided to check it out on my way to the day’s main target.

A view of the silo from the street.

A view of the silo from the street.


A view from the back of the building. All the entrances are plugged tight and part of the building is actually covered with sheet metal from ground floor to the top.

A view straight up.

A view straight up.

I wasn’t really expecting to gain entry, but there was a faint glimmer of hope that someone else would have decided to break into there earlier. The basic idea of urban exploration is “leave only footprints”, which means that you don’t break anything, mess with stuff, steal stuff or generally don’t act like a dick. Apparently earlier some explorer had found a nice “secret door” which some homeless or a junkie had built, but it has apparently been plugged.

My main target was a big freight dock which was closed down recently. There wouldn’t be that much to see, just huge warehouses, some cranes and administrative buildings, but the weather and the lighting was pretty photogenic. Thinking smartly I was dressed in my work clothes, so I wasn’t really equipped to vault over barbed wire obstacles or crawl through holes in chicken wire fences. I treated the trip more as a “casing the joint” type of thing.

Approaching the area from the north I ran into a guard booth, which kind of surprisingly was occupied. One thing some people don’t realise is that social skills are handy in UE. Security guards are just people and if you are not up to something nasty, often they can be reasoned with. Of course, you get these morons who are still on a testosterone trip over getting a baton and a tear gas canister, but that’s a different thing. I know some long time security pros who get this really tired look in their eyes when morons like these are mentioned.

So, I basically just asked if I can go in and take some photos. Although the guard wasn’t supposed to let anyone in, he told me it’s ok if I stay within a line of sight from  the guard booth. This regrettably meant that I couldn’t go and roam in the buildings, but at least I got some photos.


A railroad leading into the loading docks.


Under the eastern main route out from Helsinki. The left one is for the subway, the right one is for cars.

A view from up high on the bridge. You know you are a nerd at heart when crates like this make you think of FPS game maps.

A view from up high on the bridge. You know you are a nerd at heart when crates like this make you think of FPS game maps.

Another view from the bridge, or rather the cliffs next to it.

Another view from the bridge, or rather the cliffs next to it.

Nope, this is not a research station in Siberia or in Antarctic, this is pretty much in Helsinki downtown.

"And this is a photo of the research station gamma in Siberia... no wait, is this Antarctic... ah, sorry, my bad, this is Helsinki downtown."

It didn’t really matter that I didn’t get into the area this time, since I managed to find a way in that requires the least amount of trying to drag my pudgy body over two meter high fences topped with barb wire. So, one of these nights I’ll have to steal in and check out the actual buildings.

From the docks I walked to Kurvi, where I jumped into a tram that took me to the swimming centre I frequent. I made a decision to try and go swimming twice a week before our trip to the Red Sea. Swimming has been something I was kind of  able to do, but in practice it took a shitload of learning to do well enough to matter. This learning took place last spring, when Susi and I went to the scuba diving course. One of the requirements was to be able to swim for 250 meters – my record being 50 meters of dog paddle.

I seldom get the experience of learning a completely new skill really fast. Last spring the first time I went to the pool I managed to do 25 meters of breast stroke and in total 250 meters of splashing forward with a pause every 50 meters. It took me a month to reach the stage where I swam for one kilometer non-stop and stopped not because I was too tired, but because I got hellishly bored. My current aim is to pick up my swimming speed from the rather pathetic one kilometer per hour – just because I get bored so goddamn easily that I’d need to get the kilometer done in half an hour.

In any case, here I am at home now, feeling relaxed from the outdoors stuff and exercise. Now it’s the time to cook some burgundy roast and fire up either one of the consoles or WoW, haven’t decided on which one. Nerdiness is afoot in any case this evening.

Next week – going to be a nude model in underwater art photographs, learning how to dive with Nitrox, hopefully a ton of apartment showings and whatever life throws our way.


World View: Confirmed

January 28, 2009 · Posted in Life · Comment 

In my Christmas update I wrote as follows:

I seem to feel that there has to be some kind of equilibrium with things – wild streaks of lucky breaks leave me feeling suspicious of what kind of nasty stuff will counterbalance them. I find these superstitious feelings amusing, but can’t really help them.

So, what has happened after that day? First the explosive stomach flu and high fever that ate up most of my Christmas holidays, leaving me starting the work year feeling blue and tired. Then having to pretty much handle the job of three people because of some staff changes and holidays, plus a ton of freelance work which the sickness and recuperation pushed forward. I drifted through January to the last weekend, feeling considerably less than 100% rested.

On Monday I woke up in early afternoon – the problem being that I was supposed to be at work at nine. Some retarded fan of the TV program has been texting and prank calling me so I had set the phone on silent mode for the night. I overslept the alarm clock, since it turned out I was running a fever. Cue a few angry text messages from the boss and a frantic work day done from home, running on flu medicine, tea and coffee, while letting go of the hope for going to a diving trip this week.

In the evening we got an e-mail from our landlady, where she told that she’s terminating our rent contract, since her daughter decided to move back to Finland. So we have half a year to find a new apartment. There was nothing in our contract about a minimum duration, but we kind of had the understanding that we would be interested in a long time contract, for five years or so. Well, we get half a year to look for a new apartment, so it’s not that bad – although there’s no hope in hell getting an apartment this size, this cheap and in this good a location.

Then comes yesterday evening and a ringing doorbell. A handyman came to tell us that the downstairs neighbours are a tad bit worried about a wet spot on their ceiling, with a diameter of about two meters. There’s water also on the apartment below them, but no sign of a leak in our flat. This morning a guy from water damage repairs company came to check out the situation, poking around with a cattle prod -like moisture detector and peeking at the walls with an IR camera.

So, what did he find? Well, right now a big chunk of our living room wall is missing. There’s an overpowering stench of mildew and dirt in the air and the estimate is that the repairs will take from five weeks to two months and involve ripping open an unknown amount of wall and floor. During this time the apartment is uninhabitable. The reason? The same goddamn inept handyman who had apparently molested the apartment earlier seems to have tried his hand on plumbing too, which resulted in an open pipe to the sewers being left inside the walls. So, probably a couple of tubfuls of bath-, shower- and washing machine water has leaked into the walls just during the last month or so. 

I’d really like to know who is responsible for the past renovations of the flat, since the condition of the apartment was one of the reasons why we got it so cheaply. The laths on the bottom of the walls are loose, the paint is peeling, the kitchen is badly thought out and the ceramic tiles are falling off, the plastering of the kitchen wall is less than perfect… The only saving graces of the apartment are the location and the price.

A-yup. That plugged piece of pipe was left open and it leads directly to our bathroom sewer pipes. It's the airpipe that prevents the sewers from bubbling, but still - it should be connected to SOMETHING.

A-yup. That plugged piece of pipe was left open and it leads directly to our bathroom sewer pipes. It's the airpipe that prevents the sewers from bubbling, but still - it should be connected to SOMETHING.

The bottom line is that  we’ll have to evacuate for a couple of months – after which we should move in any case. During that we should do some work from home, arrange a trip to the Egypt and I should do my daily work.

But, in the end, what can I say but World View: Confirmed.

Oh, well, we’ll probably get a replacement apartment from the insurance company for the duration of the repairs and I have agreed on a couple of showings of a new apartment. Who knows, maybe one of those will bite right away, so we’ll do a flash move next week or the week after that. Maybe we can even skip the temporary apartment hassle completely and end up in a better apartment than this.

Who knows. Maybe this balances the world for some other stroke of luck


Online Music – Just the Way I Like It pt 2: Fat Fucking Chance

January 28, 2009 · Posted in DRM & Online Distribution, Music, Tech & Gadgetry · Comment 

Sigh. Yep, it was too good to be true. In the end of last year I wrote this entry about how I’ve finally found an on-line music service that works like I want to called Spotify. Streaming music, a huge catalogue, a simple interface and a way to pay for the music.

I started paying attention that I couldn’t find some bands that really should be in the service anymore and what do you know. They are implementing region restrictions, because they don’t have rights to deliver all the songs and bands to every country.

Region-fucking-restrictions in a service that works globally, because the fucking labels can’t get their arse off the 1960’s. Fuck this shit.

Well, it remains to be seen how long will I continue paying the subscription fee. It really depends on how many times I run into a situation where I don’t find the music I’d like to listen to. This idiocy gets me livid, though. If the industry model seems to actively drive people to downloading stuff illegally, they are not allowed to say word one to complain about it.

I hope Spotify won’t die before it gets properly born, because damn – for the time I’ve used it, it’s been a really fucking excellent service. I won’t be abandoning it yet, though – because now more than ever services like this need support from the users.


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