Wednesday, 25 April 2012

From hereon, all old and new texts of this blog will be at Teacups and Dictionaries at Wordpress
( http://teacupdictionary.wordpress.com/ )

Tarkempi meriselitys alla olevassa postauksessa.
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Tästälähin kaikki tämän blogin vanhat ja uudet tekstit tulevat löytymään Teacups and Dictionaries- blogista Wordpressistä
( http://teacupdictionary.wordpress.com/ )

Further explaned in the post below.

Please Update Your Bookmarks While You Can

(Sama suomeksi alla)

For some time now Blogger has at regular intervals vexed me with their "improvements". They keep pestering me for my phone number at every turn, demand that I switch to Google Chrome, implemented a horrid image viewer thingymajiggy, are seemingly inable to figure out that ALL their links and texts should be in English, and so on. But the proverbial straw was their latest interface update, with its needless complexity, utterly idiotic colours (white buttons with white text on white background??) and yet further admonishments about switching to Chrome.

No thank you. I do not appreciate having new browsers or services I don't want rammed down my throat whether I like them or not. Also I dislike the way Google signs me into every damn thing they own whenever I log into my blogger account, regardless of whether I have a previously held account there or not. No, I'm NOT interested in a YouTube account, if I were, I would already have one. There's plenty of talk these days of how privacy concerns and corporate data collection are in a collision course, with rumours about Google planning yet further agglutinations of their online empire, and quite frankly I'd rather not hang around to see what comes of it.

So, consider this my farewell to Blogger/Blogspot. Was fun while it lasted, Blogger certainly had it's good features, some of which I shall miss, but it's just not worth hanging on anymore. From now on, these two blogs of mine will be on Wordpress, at http://teacupdictionary.wordpress.com/ and http://wantonlunacy.wordpress.com/ . All the old posts have been exported there, so if you like you can forget that these blogs ever even existed. Wordpress is most definitely not perfect, the interface is messy with way too much gunk and not self-explanatory at all, not to mention it does appear to lack several small but rather nifty features I could easily employ on Blogger. The first few posts will likely be written amidst a cloud of swear words, but hopefully the biggest kinks get evened out before long.


There. Guess this is it then. Now if everyone will please update their bookmarks, fasten their seat belts, turn off their electronic appliances and all that sort of thing. We will take off shortly, the weather where we're going will hopefully include plenty of fair winds and sunshine.

See you all on the other side.
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Päivittäkää kirjanmerkkinne, olkaa hyvä.

Blogger on jo jonkin aikaa kiusannut minua epäsäännöllisen säännöllisesti "parannuksillaan". Minulta kinutaan puhelinnumeroa vähän tästä, minua neuvotaan vaihtamaan selaimeni Google Chromeen koska käyttämääni ei enää tueta, blogiin ympätään yllätyksenä aivan kamala kuvannäyttömikälieomituisuus, eikä blogger millään tunnu tajuavan että saitin omien linkkien tulisi olla englanniksi ei "paikallisella kielellä". Mutta sen kuuluisan kamelin selän katkaissut surullisenkuuluisa korsi oli Googlen viimeisin ulkoasu-uudistus, tarpeettoman monimutkaisine käyttöliittymineen, käsittämättömine värivalintoineen (valkealla taustalla valkoisia nappeja valkoisin tekstein??) ja iänikuisine nuhteluineen, koska en vieläkään ole vaihtanut Chromeen.

Ei kiitos. En juurikaan arvosta, kun minulle tuputetaan kerta toisensa jälkeen selaimia tai palveluita, riippumatta siitä haluanko niitä vai en. En myöskään erityisemmin pidä siitä, että Google kirjaa minut automaattisesti sisään jokaiseen palveluunsa aina, kun kirjaudun Blogger-tiliini, oli minulla tilejä kyseisissä palveluissa tai ei. Ei, minä EN halua YouTube-tiliä, jos haluaisin niin minulla jo olisi sellainen. Yksityisyydensuojan ja (internet)yhtiöiden intomielisen datan keruun välisistä jännitteistä on ollut kiertänyt melkoisesti puheita, mukaanlukien huhuja Googlen aikeista sulauttaa yhä uusia läänityksiä imperiumiinsa, eikä minua suoraan sanottuna erityisemmin kiinnosta odottaa ja katsoa mitä tuleman pitää.

Joten voitte pitää tätä viestiä jäähyväisinäni Bloggerille/Blogspotille. Oli hauskaa niin kauan kuin sitä kesti, Bloggerissa oli ehdottomasti hyvät puolensa, joista joitain tulee varmasti vielä ikävä, mutta ikävä kyllä ne eivät enää riitä kallistamaan vaakaa Bloggerin puolelle. Tästä lähin nämä kaksi blogiani jatkavat elämäänsä Wordpressin hoteissa, osoitteissa http://teacupdictionary.wordpress.com/ ja http://wantonlunacy.wordpress.com/ . Kaikki vanhat kirjoitukset ja kommentit on viety Wordpressin blogeihin, joten näiden osoitteiden olemassaolon voi vaikka unohtaa tyystin, mikäli sattuu huvittamaan. Wordpress ei tietenkään ole täydellinen vaihtoehto, käyttöliittymä on sotkuinen, aivan liian täynnä rojua, eikä parhaalla tahdollakaan intuitiivinen käyttää. Lisäksi sieltä puuttuu muutama pieni, mutta melkoisen kätevä ominaisuus, joita Bloggerissa saatoin helposti käyttää. Todennäköisesti ensimmäiset viestit tulee kirjoitettua kirosanojen leijuessa sankkana pilvenä ympärillä, mutta toivon mukaan aika siloittaa suurimmat rypyt.

Niin. Siinä se taisi sitten ollakin. Olkaa hyvä ja päivittäkää kirjanmerkkinne, kiinnittäkää istuinvyönne, sammuttakaa elektroniset laitteenne ja kaikkia sen tapaisia asioita. Lähdemme piakkoin, sää määränpäässämme toivoakseni sisältää paljon aurinkoa ja myötätuulta.

Perillä nähdään.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

House of Mister Hyde

If this house was a person, it would be schizophrenic. The neat and tidy doctor Jekyll would have a very insistent Mr Hyde whispering unpleasant things in his hears. You are probably a bit confused at this point, so allow me to demonstrate.


First, there's the fantastic original decor, such as this rather east blocky ceiling lamp in the bedroom. You may wonder why there's only one bulb in it. Well that's because the bloody thing is bright enough to burn off your retinas otherwise.



Then let's get to the infrastructure. Here, next to the kitchen window, is the gas pipe for the stove. Observe the graceful placement of the pipe and its carefully crafted wall attachment.



The correct way to attach things to a concrete wall is of course by hammering nails into it. Lots of them.



And why bother to hide plumbing, when you can make a modern art installation out of it? (Ed: I don't even know which pipes are in use and which aren't.)



Insulation? Phooey. We'll just wrap some rags strips of insulating material around it. It'll be fine.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Aforementioned Sprunging

The only garden photo in the last post was rather lacking in springy things, so here are some other photos to remedy that.

Sometimes a cat's eye view is the best view.



Pretty, aren't they? Helmililja in Finnish, grape hyacinth in English (Muscari armeniacum).



Tulips, of course.


And at the bottom of the garden, two rhubarbs the gran-in-common-law missed when she dug up the bed. I plan to safeguard them with great care.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fun in the Garden Bathroom

So spring is well on it's way to sprunging here and that means one thing. Seeds. I finally got some seedling soil, good tools and half a phone book to make pots out of. I originally wanted to do the sowing outside, but it was cold and drizzly and altogether miserable there, so I did the work in the bathroom instead. Hooray for painter's plastic is all I'm saying.

This is what I started with. 20L of soil, a pile of paper pots, trays for the pots, seeds, tools, gloves and the floor safely covered in plastic.


First the tomatoes. So far so good.


First set of tomatoes planted, cultivars "Black Russian", "Gemini" F1 and "vinbärstomat" (small berries). And I just run out of pots. Bugger.



No matter, I made more pots. Wanted to make 60 but run out of phone book by 57. Damn.
(If anyone wants to know how I make pots, look here.)
Second tray from the top, cucumbers (F1 "New Pioneer" and "Double Yield") and brussel sprouts ("Long Island"). The brussel sprouts are a completely new acquintance, I've never tried to grow them and don't personally know anyone who has either. That should get interesting.



I found more pots! Yay! That meant I didn't have to choose between basils and flowers, I could sow both! Third from the top is basils, large leaved "Genovese", red "New Guinea" and lemonbasil. Plenty of seeds left in each, I'll get to sow more of these as the summer progresses.
Bottom row (peat pots) is flowers, 12 pots of Ipomoea tricolor and purpurea (=päivänsini ja aitoelämänlanka, in English morning glories ), a seed mix of 5 different cultivars with different coulour schemes (yes, I went a bit nuts at the seed shelves, want to make something of it?) and 12 pots of Mina/Ipomoea lobata, Miinanköynnös for the Finns.
This is the whole lot, the trays hold 30+30+27+24 pots, making 114 pots alltogether, 2-3 seeds each, with most of the 20L of soil gone. Sounds like much? Well...



... this lot is still to go. The pile actually looks smaller in the photo.



This is where a lot of the first lot will go, the basils in the flowerbed on the foreground and the tomatoes agains the brick wall at the back. The cucumbers will get a cold frame that will be built for them and the vines will be planted against the garden fence facing the road (to the right of the photo). No idea yet where to put the brussel sprouts.


I know I'm late (again) with at least the tomatoes, but unfortunately it couldn't be helped this year. I'm hoping the tomatoes get a good enough start to produce more than a couple of fruit. I've been repeatedly told that one needs a greenhouse for tomatoes here, but I've repeatedly told back that I and my mother both have grown them outdoors in Finland without such contraptions with a perfectly decent success.
Next in order are the rest of the herbs, Indian cresses (Tropaeolum Majus, koristekrassi) and building cold frames for lettuces and cucumbers. I'm hoping the Ipomoeas and Tropaeolums both grow well enough to become self-maintaining, ie they'll produce enough seeds to grow again in the coming years. But we'll see. I'm not exactly averse to replanting my Tropaeolums every spring... after all it's an edible flower that likes poor soil and grows like mad. What's not to like?
Now, if only I could get my hands on another phone book...

Monday, 9 April 2012

A Not So Pet Peeve

I hate bureaucracy. I hate the idea that in order to achieve my objective I must jump through all sorts of hoops at the behest of someone who happens to have a bit of power, with the rationale from their part amounting to little more than "because I said so". I also hate being treated with the assumption of dishonesty, the attitude that I must first prove myself honest is something I find demeaning and disgusting. Lastly I loathe badly designed and poorly working systems. Having read all that, I'm sure you see how I'm not particularly relishing the prospect of acquiring my residence permit here.

There's a photo requirement which I can live with, though a few years back they just took a snapshot with a digital camera and were done with it. I'm required to show proof of residence, ie the house owner must produce a notarised (!) document stating I have permission to live in her house. Thirdly, I will need bank documents stating I have more than €99 on my account, to demonstrate I won't be begging on the streets. Not even joking about the last one.

Then I will need to go with my documents to the foreign police -not the same as normal police department- which has moved to another town and is open three days a week. All the while hoping that some requirement wasn't omitted from the info or that they don't have further hoops hidden somewhere.

This sort of thing always brings out my anti-authoritarian side and I then develop a strong tendency to get irritably impatient. Which I realise, is not very conducive to getting a petty bureaucrat to do one's bidding. I'm only hoping they will accept my -likely to be in Finnish- printed out bank statement, otherwise the risk of me getting stroppy at them will grow considerably.

So tomorrow the notary, bank statement print outs and photos, the day after the bloody foreign police in another damn town. I shall just have to swallow my desire to elaborate on my true opinions regarding the process and attempt to channel my righteous indignation into witheringly courteous behaviour. Oh, and mustn't forget to practise my best posh RP.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Beyond the Blood Feasts at the Colosseum

I'm reading a book written by a classical history professor from the University of Amsterdam, called originally "Gladiatoren. Volksvermaak in het Colosseum".
I expected the book to include gruesome sections, but nothing really prepared me for the truly shocking content which I found before I even made it to the blood and gore. The first half of the book deals with the history and cultural context of gladiator fights in Rome, from 300's BCE to 404 CE, and here I was so viscerally disgusted at times that I had to put the book down. The writer (professor Fik Meijer) describes a society that is barbarically hierarchical and sickeningly obsessed with sadistic machismo. Of course being a classical historian, he doesn't put it quite that bluntly, but I do. The Roman society is stratified to the hilt and human value is directly derived from a person's societal status. Not only that, everyone seems to take a gleeful pleasure in the torture and oppression of those below them. Gladiators started out as being the lowest of the low, prisoners of war, slaves or others with no rights in the society. They were despised, and their profession considered a shameful one, yet people crowded into the theatres to watch them perform. Gladiators were even expected to accept their lot with dignity and humility, while the cream of society was continuously terrified they might revolt. Over time gladiators became so popular that free men started to join their ranks, even senators and emperors entering the arena at times, but this did little to improve the lot of ordinary fighters.

The cheapness of human life in ancient Rome is well illustrated by the origin of gladiator fights. They started out as deadly duels of slaves or prisoners of war in the funerals of important citizens, likely influenced by a Greek practice of sacrificing slaves at funerals. I will not say anything of ancient Greece here however, since the book solely deals with Rome, beyond the fact that I have little faith that they would turn out to have been much better.

These people risked and sacrificed their lives in fantastically popular blood spectacles and received only pittance for it. The huge expense that went to hiring gladiators lined the pockets of school owners and fighter brokers, who lived luxurious lives. Not many gladiators managed to buy freedom for themselves and even fewer scraped enough money together for a secure pension. Though truth be said, according to the book an old age livelihood was out of reach of most unprivileged Romans anyway. They were expected to exemplify Roman virtues, which in my eyes amount to little more than brutish, bloodthirsty enforcement of anxious masculinity, wrapped in viciously stratified patriarchy and devoid of all sophistication. And I'm not a person who often talks about sophistication, or indeed the lack thereof.

If any society has earned to be described as one of savages, ancient Rome certainly has. I will keep on reading the book and am about to start the second half which deals with the actual goings on at the most famous of all amphi theatres, the Colosseum. Paradoxically I don't expect to be as shocked by that section, than I was by what I've read already. Although I haven't yet read about animals on the arena. I might put in a bit of an update when I've finished the book, but then again I might not. If counter to expectations my outrage metre is triggered yet again, I likely will.

This is one of those books one does not read gladly, but is glad to have read. It certainly has broadened my vision of classical Rome in a way no more general history book yet has, though it's possible I simply wasn't equipped to take in the full implications of what I read before. If I met someone from that time and place, I would certainly not want to associate with them without much suspicion, nor will I ever look the same way at any of the fantastic achievements they've left behind, be it sculpture, architecture, engineering or any other walk of life.

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Full Reference:
Meijer, Fik. 2008. Gladiaattorit. Taistelijat kuoleman areenoilla. Helsinki: Otava.