Judging a Book by Its Cover: “Aaltojen alla”

June 6, 2009 · Posted in Books & Comics, Diving · 1 Comment 

When I go diving, I’m equally interested in the marine life and the wrecks – quite often my wreck exploration goes on a hold for a moment, because I’ll just have to see some little underwater critter up close. The Baltic Sea isn’t an overflowing cornucopia of diverse marine life, but there’s a lot to see under the surface: fish, crustaceans, shellfish, medusae – even things you really wouldn’t expect to see here in the north, like varieties of sea anemones, sea horses and biofluorescent comb jellies.

I finally got around to buying a book called Aaltojen alla (Underneath the Waves), which was recommended to us by a couple of divers we know as being the best practical guide of Baltic marine life available. I’ve been leafing through it for a couple of days, reading about and trying to recognize things I’ve photographed and seen. All in all, the recommendations were spot on. There’s just enough information for Sunday biologists such as I, plus the illustrations and the photographs both look good and make it easy to recognize the species in question. All in all, I can heartily recommend the book for every diver who is interested in the marine life of Baltic sea. The web page is also pretty nice, but unfortunately the English version is still under construction.


There is only one thing I did not like about the book: the cover. I mean, what the hell, look at that photo and the layout and imagine it in full size, so that 90% of the contrast just vanishes. Ok, it’s pretty descriptive of what you can see underwater in the Baltic Sea when you look up or forward: just a few meters mushy greenness with some distant blobs and shapes, but shit – as a book cover it utterly sucks. If I saw a book cover like that on a bookstore shelf, instead of checking it out I might just fall asleep on my feet, fall down and hurt my head. There were a lot of brilliant photos in the book, so why choose this?

In any case, to reiterate – cover aside, if you want to know more about the wriggly things you see underwater around here, go and buy the book. Well worth the money.


Peaceful Work Day with Sushi

June 4, 2009 · Posted in Life · Comment 

It’s now my work day number four in the National Library of Finland. The work room is cool and quiet, there are big windows with rain splattering on them and I’m trying to figure out what makes the Aleph library system tick and how does Unicode actually work, especially with Arabic, Devanagari and Cyrillic alphabets. Yesterday we went to visit a librarian who catalogues books in Arabic and assorted other Mid-Eastern languages and got to know the problems concerning those, which I should start fixing in the future.


Birthday-Jori enjoying his sushi

A moment ago I got back from a sushi lunch with Susi and Jori in Kurvi, in the rather improbably named Kahvikulma. I’ve walked past the place dozens of times, dismissing it as just another low-grade and messy cafe for Kurvi locals. Instead the place has a pretty damn decent lunch sushi buffet complemented with friendly staff, so the place is well worth checking out.

The atmosphere in the work room is timelessly peaceful. I have a ton of interesting stuff to study and learn, without any hurry to be somewhere or get anything done within strict deadlines. The novelty value of this for me can not be overstated. A room temperature that is under 26C and the absence of the sound of kids’ TV programs being edited are already a cultural shock of a kind after the last couple of years. Not to mention the lack of a towering pile of deadlines and people asking me stuff every 15 minutes either live or via e-mail.

In the turn of the millennium I didn’t really appreciate the slow and slightly disorganized pace of the academia, but now… I think I’ll like it here.


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