www.lavonardo.net : / : blog : [08/07]

Lääpsähdys Maximus

Friday night, and I'm so not into going out and about into the wide world outside.

Staying out of today's twin gigs (Turisas and Amorphis) is easy, they've both been sold out.

But the annual fireworks championships on Töölönlahti do sound somewhat attractive. Stressing the word somewhat in the previous, obviously.

31.8.2007 / 20:50 EEST | permalink | | haircut

Remixed Gothiana

Monte Cook, one of the most well-known figures among the role-playing game designers has gone and remixed White Wolf's World of Darkness setting.

And done it all with his traditional system of choice: d20.

The resulting book clocks in at a meaty 385 pages, and if previous output is any indication, will be good and balanced fun for gaming groups across the world. Our Wednesday Emperors-trupe never touched the originals (of either generation), and likely shall steer clear of this one as well.

28.8.2007 / 21:44 EEST | permalink | | games

Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Releasedated

The dvd release of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles has been almost as long-drawn project as the fourth Indy movie.

The impressively large (twelve discs) collection will be released in october, well ahead of the forthcoming movie. And this being a heftily bloated out product: two more such boxes will be released in the following months - increasing the number of discs to an even more unbelievable amount.

28.8.2007 / 21:26 EEST | permalink | | television, movies


Spent a vast chunk of the day in Tampere.

And paid a visit to Swamp Music, still the best record store of the country. They were out of the brand-spanking new The Coral record, and had to settle for a couple of alternatives instead. Of which more later.

Had a late lunch at the neighboring Bodega Salud. And was quite pleased with the steak and impressed by the menu - there's clearly incentive enough to re-visit the place at least a few times to try out some of the exotic dishes.

28.8.2007 / 21:18 EEST | permalink | | work, music, restaurants

Back online

And on the sixth day, the connectivity was restored.

And there was much rejoicing.

27.8.2007 / 23:18 EEST | permalink | | haircut

These are not the wonders you're looking for

Forget the tourist claptrap new wonders, the selection of fortean wonders brings the historical mysteries to the fore.

27.8.2007 / 23:12 EEST | permalink | | travel

Simpsons, 3.5 stars

Saw the 18-years-in-the-making Simpsons Movie. And while it's hardly a classic, it's quality light entertainment and worthy of the ninety or so minutes spent watching it.

Storywise it's pretty much an extended episode of the show, albeit with a somewhat grander scale. Apart from a few words thus far unuttered on the show, and a quick bout of frontal nudity, there's not much of an extra edge to the film - it still feels like the scriptwriters are pulling some punches out of habit.

The movie centers on the Simpsons family, with just a few of the supporting characters having any significant roles in the story. While that works well for dramatic purposes, a lot of viewers are going to be disappointed when their favorite yellow-headed cast members disappear after a gratuitous line or two. Or are left without any (such is sadly the case with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon).

An even more important question than "does it feature Chief Wiggum?" is obviously "is it any fun?" And the answer is, "sure, occasionally". The best gags are beautifully crafted, but there's a lot of dead air inbetween. And there's no avoiding the feeling that the choicest cuts were already shown in the trailer.

There are a couple of gags among the rolling credits, including Maggie's very first word. So sticking around is advisable.

27.8.2007 / 23:11 EEST | permalink | | movies

Really thunderstruck

Been five days without internet access at home.

Annoying and liberating in somewhat balanced fashion.

26.8.2007 / 14:57 EEST | permalink | | bitching

#56: Dream/sleep

This week's photo thursday challenge subject is sleep/dream.

My take on the subject is the attached image, a sleeping koala bear. Who probably dreams of nothing more than the two subjects occupying its very few daily waking hours: eucalyptus leaves and other koalas.

(As usual, the full-size photograph is available by clicking the attached image. And the previous photo thursday pictures are all available through the gallery page.)

25.8.2007 / 11:10 EEST | permalink | | photography, photo thursday

And the dream remains alive

FIN - KAZ : 2 - 1.

Not really up against a wall, but in a comfortable position.

Though with a tough program of remaining games in the group, the dream of EURO'08 remains distant. But with the other teams playing surprisingly uneven, it is by no means unattainable.

23.8.2007 / 23:05 EEST | permalink | | sports, football

Snakes On A Plane, three stars

Finally watched the highest budget B-movie with an A-list star and a C-level budget. Snakes On A Plane was surprisingly entertaining.

And unexpectedly anarchistic. Violence is heaped high and deep. Entirely viable characters with long-term screen potential are killed left and right.

Not art, but good light entertainment nonetheless.

22.8.2007 / 23:56 EEST | permalink | | movies


My my. How badly Helsinki coped with a minor weather incident.

Radio broadcasting interrupted for hours. Municipal traffic ground to a halt. A stern warning to remain indoors issued by the meteorological institue.

All this from a short (but suitably intense) thunderstorm, and accompanied with an overture of a general alert signal howling in the background.

Perhaps we ought to be careful that this is as violent as the conditions get, or otherwise Finland, as a nation, would have either learned to cope, or been eradicated a log time ago.

22.8.2007 / 20:18 EEST | permalink | | haircut

Ojos de Brujo

Saw Ojos de Brujo in Huvila yesterday. The band mixes flamenco with hip hop, and the result cannot really be described, it deserves to be heard.

Saw most of Trio Neb's world-music show for the warm-up act - impressive three-piece band whose songs were variable enough to retain interest.

The main event began exactly eight o'clock sharp, with the whole eleven-person band ambling onto the stage. Didn't recognize many of their songs - and not owning eny of the records (until yesterday) can't really even guess at a set list.

The band played until the mandated end, two hours of the weirdest mixture of genres I've seen in a long while. After all, it's not often that you see a stage shared by three percussionists, a DJ behind turntables and a flamenco dancer.

Ended up buying Bári, the second-newest of the band's albums. The newest one Techari was available only in the plain vanilla-version, and I assume the videos available on the second disc are worth the extra effort in picking Edicion de Lujo up.

20.8.2007 / 0:22 EEST | permalink | | music

Spreading the lack of clue

At a 3.60€ a trip I'd say that we are allowed to assume that drivers know the routes, and do not need constant navigation assistance from passengers.

Seems that the bus company has changed following the switch to winter schedule, and after two navigationally challenged trips (on the 362) the training methods (if any) of the new company ought to be questioned.

20.8.2007 / 0:02 EEST | permalink | | bitching


Had the semi-monthly gamenight yesterday.

Brought in Guitar Hero II, which ended up played a lot. With no easy possibility to transfer saved games, we had to resort to opening the songs the hard way: playing them. Good clean fun for everybody concerned (and a nice lesson from the most experienced player in the group).

The regularest of the regular of these evenings: Pro Evolution Soccer was another highlight. Of the four games played, three were very even, the odd one a truly lopsided contest. The next installment of the franchise arrives in october, and is on the "definitely buy"-list.

Continued less than decent games in both NHL 2007 and Virtua Tennis. Though in latter, there's some clearly visible improvement. The former still puzzles - unlike in traditional ice hockey, in this game there are no sudden stops or changes of direction, just implausibly wide arcs.

The demo for the soon-arriving Bioshock looked awesome. And clearly it's been far too long since Jack Thompson has been on the news, since he's piped up some nonsense about the game.

Didn't play much pinball - had a decent game of Scared Stiff, the others, not so good.

Utterly forgot that I had my camera along - a couple of shots of the pinball machines would definitely have been in order.

19.8.2007 / 23:59 EEST | permalink | | games


A sailboat on the bright blue seas

Spent most of yesterday on a long-planned trip to Bengtskär, the tallest finnish lighthouse.

But failed in the effort.

The journey stealthily turned into something else altogether. Despite an explicit acknowledgment from the ticketing booth, the target shifted from the lighthouse to Viking Experience Center in Rosala.

The journey itself wasn't bad at all. The late finnish summer in the archipelago showed its best sides in abundant sunlight and glittering sea. The salmon soup offered for lunch was less salmony than expected, a single big chunk in a big cup wasn't too thrilling. The lighthouse itself was passed by from afar, it was barely visible as a tiny spike on the horizon, miles away.

The Viking Experience turned out to be very much on the underwhelming side. While the buildings were authentically weathered replicas of the originals, the village of sorts was miniscule indeed. The highlight of the short walk was a rope-assisted climb up a few meters of cliff-face (photos to follow for those in disbelief).

A beacon (or some other kind of thing sticking up from the sea)
Viking ship in Rosala

Inside the viking center there were a couple of swords to be fiddled with, and a video that compressed Edda to creation/ragnarök-myths in seven minutes, missing out on almost everything in the saga.

The twin viking ships were not advertised at all, but were easily accessible, bobbing gently in the bay.

Rosala, as a secluded island, was an odd experience. In blatant contrast to the pristine fields and nice-ish houses, there was a lot of discarded junk on the sides of the roads, giving the place a definite white trash-look.

The stiff south/west-winds that render approach and disembarking in Bengtskär too dangerous didn't really materialize on the trip. But the alternate destination was much easier to sail to. On the ship called Summersea the waves weren't really felt (apart from a few stretches when the sea is unprotected by an intervening island)

An OK day altogether, but a vastly different one than planned.

A smith's hammer Jatulintarha A discarded trailer

19.8.2007 / 23:45 EEST | permalink | | travel

That's not a clock, this is a clock

Geographical clockface

Broke the strap on my trusty old Polar back in november.

The clock in the telephone has been usually sufficient, and haven't really missed the strap on my wrist.

Though this horological masterpiece might be just about enough to convince otherwise.

[ via boingboing. ]

17.8.2007 / 22:19 EEST | permalink | | gadgets

Heavy rain of penguins expected around midnight

Now this is going to come in useful when estimating the evolution of Linux.

A "weather report of sorts - explaining which features are on the verge of making it into the mainline, and which are just blips on the radar, far out to the sea. An even greater boon is the selection of pertinent links to further information about the prospective features.

17.8.2007 / 22:11 EEST | permalink | | work, linux

Fourth time's the charm, and evocation, and some abjuration

A metallic 20-sided die

Image: d20 by Mrs. Sloke (CC)

Dungeons & Dragons, the original role-playing game has begun evolving towards its next incarnation.

The game page on the publisher's site was replaced by a mysterious 4adventure-timer, and the new edition was revealed on schedule in Gencon, currently organized in Indianapolis.

The game indeed looks to be moving forwards. And quite a few of the steps it takes are rather bold: the use of a brand-new gamer-centered social network and a monthly subscription to vast tracts of extra material are something that hasn't been tried before.

The first book, unsurprisingly the player's handbook, debuts in may, with the other mandatory tomes following in the subsequent months. And doubtless a conversion guide (at least from the third/3.5th editions) will be provided at the same time to ensure that no hard feelings surface on account of supplementary materials going stale.

The information provided thus far is pretty thin on the ground, but the Wizards of the Coast marketing machine will move into overdrive mode soon.

Me? Not nearly as excited as back in 2000 when the third edition pretty much revolutionized the industry, and gave a nice little kickstart to the Wednesday Emperors. These days there's plenty of other fish in the sea, but the new edition needs to be checked out - that's for sure.

17.8.2007 / 21:59 EEST | permalink | | games

Back to the Island

Lost logo

Here we go again.

Back to observing the survivors of Oceanic's flight 815, after the rather WTF?-inducing finale of the second season.

And for three abbreviated sixteen-episode seasons more. Seasons that will run in the spring, meaning that the americans will be without the series until 2008. Unfortunately that also leads to a very late arrival of the third season on dvd - the scheduled release date is in december. An official tied-in video game will also arrive before the fourth season kicks off.

16.8.2007 / 20:59 EEST | permalink | | television

Embarrassment galore


No wonder no-one had left any comments on the blog for a good while.

I broke the haloscan-bit in the template, and thus prevented any interaction.

Fixed now. Thanks to Mr. Musicnaut for the heads-up.

A way more nastier problem is the fact that Internet Explorer (at least version 6) fails to render the post-renovation blog at all. Haven't booted my PC in a long while, and am thus without IE at home. But looks like it's time to take the plunge again. Or bring the IBM laptop from work.

16.8.2007 / 20:34 EEST | permalink | | blog


In a surprising turn of events the national broadcasting company has signed an exclusive contract with the production company du jour HBO.

The deal kicks in next year and means that shows such as Sopranos and Deadwood migrate to the YLE channels in addition to any new material, such as Pacific, the follow-up to the masterful Band of Brothers from 2001.

16.8.2007 / 20:18 EEST | permalink | | television

#55: What the ...

This week's photo thursday challenge subject is what the .... A picture whose subject is far from obvious.

My take on the subject is the attached image, a peppermint stick insect (Megacrania batesii), a rare critter from Queensland that just happened to be around on a rainforest walkabout in Cape Tribulation. The coloring has not been altered, the animal is shockingly turquoise in color, with splashes of other bright colors across the body.

The wikipedia article on this animal is a stub (but does feature two good images), fortunately the curious peppermint stick insect is the subject of many good pages.

Sadly the image did not turn out that well, the very low lighting conditions under the canopy and a shaky hand combined to lack of sharpness in the photograph.

(As usual, the full-size photograph is available by clicking the attached image. And the previous photo thursday pictures are all available through the gallery page.)

16.8.2007 / 00:51 EEST | permalink | | photography, photo thursday

A hoodie to commit crimes for

No end to shirt-related articles in sight in august, it seems.

But it's hard to say no to hoodies like these, especially the blueprint one.

But at a neat hundred dollars, the price is very much on the steep side. And counting the finnish customs/VAT/extra cost on top makes this quite an expensive shirt.

But I'm tempted, sorely tempted.

15.8.2007 / 22:41 EEST | permalink | | t-shirts

Yes, they are watching. Your every edit.

Enter Wikipedia Scanner, outing the nominally anonymous editors.

May the ones with dirty laundry go and hang their heads in shame.

14.8.2007 / 22:24 EEST | permalink | | wikipedia

Why bother shooting for the lowest common denominator

David Simon, the other creative half behind HBO's masterful The Wire has given a great interview to the Believer magazine, by Nick Hornby.

My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader.
David Simon

Exactly the attitude the scriptwriters of worthwhile television shows have been lately taking. Omit gratuitous exposition, and let the viewers learn as they watch.

Sadly, the entire interview is not available online, but based on the initial dialogue, purchasing it definitely seems like a good idea.

14.8.2007 / 22:04 EEST | permalink | | television

A maze of twisty passages, all alike

Dennis Jerz has put together an amazing two-headed article on the original piece of interactive fiction: the (Colossal Cave) Adventure.

The article covers both the cave system in Kentucky the game is loosely based on, as well as the original source code of the program. The photographs from the caverns (and their captions) wallow in adventure gaming lore, and the fortran code is downright frightening to read.

But the article itself certainly is not. It's the best piece of gaming archeology I have seen in ages.

13.8.2007 / 22:25 EEST | permalink | | interactive fiction

One more author to thoroughly check out

Presso had an interesting series on lesser-known mystery novel authors this summer.

The biggest discovery in the articles was the existence of George Pelecanos, a prolific author who also writes and directs The Wire, the best cop show on television.

Picked up a copy of his newest novel, The Night Gardener a while ago and wasn't disappointed. Quite the opposite. The story flows well, dialogue is believable, and the 400-odd pages were past quickly.

Too bad Akateeminen didn't carry any other books of his, as looking into his previous output is a lucrative prospect indeed.

13.8.2007 / 22:17 EEST | permalink | | books

Potter, Harry Potter

Finished the seventh Harry Potter book on the week it came out, not at top speed nor after an immediate purchase, but finished in decent time nonetheless.

One paragraph review: worthwhile ending to the saga, caps the storyline nicely, but has some narratively clumsy chapters.

Thus, no longer worrying about spoilers, glorious retellings of the story such as Potterdämmerung are no longer material to religiously shy away from. Be warned though, this one spoils the book - albeit in an amusing way.

The chinese have taken serious liberties with the Potter-series, haphazardly adding chapters to it. Chapters that according to the article maim the canon on a regular basis, and even introduce Gandalf as a sidekick to the sorcerous boy wonder.

13.8.2007 / 22:10 EEST | permalink | | books

More T-shirts

Yesterday's overview clearly wasn't enough, and ended up surfing to a few more sites that concentrate on t-shirts.

First up is a pop-culture infused shop pointered to by kasa a short while back. I so need the Ludovico Technique-shirt.

Preshrunk remains in business, I gave up on the blog after they ran into a dry spell a long time ago. Time to add yet another feed to regular readings.

Two previously unfamiliar offerings are tcritic and The T-Shirt Blog, both of which seem interesting enough for a second look.

And on the cool designs-side: the campaign shirt for Bruce Cambpell's 2008 effort gets top marks for effort, and the Jinx-provided lament on the lack of readers could come in handy too (though the google image search keeps tossing new readers into this blog day in and out).

13.8.2007 / 22:04 EEST | permalink | | t-shirts

5 on clothing

Missed a few of skrubu's weekly fivers lately (in an autobiographical movie I'd be played by Steve Buscemi, opposite Kate Winslet), but this week's fiver on clothing turned out irresistible.

1. What's the latest piece of clothing you have bought, where did you buy it, and at what cost?

It's an off-kilter Metallica t-shirt, from an on-field vendor at the concert in Helsinki, and cost me a steepish 25 euros.

2. How easy is it to find pleasant clothes?

Variably so. Proper shorts can take ages (black, canvas or denim, knee-length, with plenty of pockets), as can proper shirts - but jeans or t-shirts take just a minute on a good day.

3. What's the most common fault about the clothes offered in general?

Apart from decent shorts as per previous answer?

Lack of selection and/or sizes. Knowledgeable staff is usually available.

4. How much do you spend on clothes annually?

That's a tough one... Couple of jeans, quarter of a suit, couple of proper shirts, an incalculable amount of t-shirts...

Between 500-1000 euros, I guess, but that's a really rough estimate.

5. What's the next piece of clothing you expect to buy?

A jacket. Something to service between the last days of summer and first snows.

13.8.2007 / 21:50 EEST | permalink | | meme

Master T-list

It's been a seriously long time since the last blog about t-shirts, referred to them obliquely in some concert reports, but nothing concrete in a while.

Not that there'd be anything to report - been ages since the last order from threadless, and haven't picked up anything spectacular from other sources either.

So, the webware entry about online vendors is a good catch-up article. Apart from thinkgeek and imaginary foundation (whose Express Yourself induces immediate coveting) they've got a lot of the bases covered. Including a good chunk of the DIY sites - of which spreadshirt has received quite a bit of positive feedback locally as well.

And should there be a trip to Chicago lined up in the near future, I'd certainly check out the bricks & mortar threadless shop in the windy city. And these familiar wall graphics don't look bad either.

12.8.2007 / 21:39 EEST | permalink | | t-shirts

Ok, call off the sceptics, iPhone is a viable platform

After all, it runs Doom.

12.8.2007 / 19:49 EEST | permalink | | gadgets, games

Russell Beattie's back

In a long list of "why didn't anyone tell me", Russell Beattie's return as a blogger was obviously unheralded enough for me to miss it back in april.

Though the blog has lots on his new venture, mowser, the wide-ranging selection of topics is still as pleasant as it was back in the Yahoo days.

11.8.2007 / 19:59 EEST | permalink | | blogs, web2.0

Once again, with feeling (and a really loaded purse)

The english football leagues kicked off for the 2007-8 season today.

To a reaction of "meh" from me.

Still haven't settled on a new favorite team in the premiership (Chelsea's gotten just too big and bought for my tastes lately), and none of the twenty in the league really appeal. Maybe I'll just stick with Crystal Palace (firmly lodged in the Championship), and hope for a miracle. Or at least some televised games.

Mika Väyrynen, one of the potential replacements as a playmaker to the soon-retiring Jari Litmanen has been snapped up by Derby, and that team as a definite underdog might be something to pique interest.

11.8.2007 / 18:01 EEST | permalink | | sports, football


Paid an annual visit to Ropecon, the (by far) biggest finnish roleplaying event.

Spent a good chunk of the evening there, listening to a couple of presentations, running into friends and admiring some of the dresses visitors had gone to great lengths to prepare.

Jaakko Stenros (whose blog hasn't really been updated lately) and Markus Montola gave a presentation on Ethics of pervasive games, a topic I head no real clue about beforehand. The session turned out to be a good one - and the games in question not too tied to being larps, always a bonus in my book. Pervasive games were indeed a completely new genre to me, and the games, played out in public, seemed interesting. Ethics come into question as the game breaches several usually inviolate aspects of a game (space and time are used extensively, and there's never definite knowledge whether a randomly encountered guy is part of the game or just a talkative passerby). The ethics were discussed using a couple of case studies. The first, Prosopopeia: Momentum succeeded well, whereas the Vem Gråter ended after the authorities got involved. The slides were snappily done, and probably will be available somewhere on the web (the immediately googlable ones are different from the ones shown in Ropecon).

An SCA fight at the 2007 Ropecon

Skipped the first guest of honor-presentation by Emily Care Boss (author of Breaking the Ice), and ventured into the open air to watch some combat. Wasn't disappointed. The finnish chapter of Society for Creative Anachronism put up a good show on how to whack fully armored people over the head with pretty realistic rattan weapons. Which, considering the heat, was quite a display of martial prowess. The combatants ranged from users of the almighty two-handed sword to a more traditional sword and shield combination (both shown in the photo).

After the well-presented and quite safe-looking SCA session a finnish troupe called Harmaasudet showed that it is feasible to use real edged steel weapons in mock combat - which didn't seem like a really good idea, especially when the combatants were not decked out in full plate armour.

Robin Laws, the second guest of honor, gave a good two hour presentation/interview/workshop. The discussion (with lots of questions from the audience) ranged from his past, present and future games. Heroquest in all its guises got the most bandwidth, and the weird world of Mad Lands popped up several times in the discussion as well. The third (forthcoming) Gumshoe game: Mutant City Blues sounded like a sure thing. A police procedural set in a world of superheroes (like Alan Moore's mighty Top 10) is as close as sold to me as things can be. Best Friends got a heavy dose of props on a new twist on character generation (used effectively outside the high school setting in a thinly veiled Iraq-analogy), and Robin's commentary on character death (it's really painful on the GM) was spot on. Definitely a very good and worthwhile presentation, not on par with last year's masterpiece from Ken Hite, but I wasn't really expecting anything to supersede that.

Obligatory linkage: Robin Laws' livejournal, See Page XX: a semi regular column, Issaries: publisher of HeroQuest.

Merry and Pipping roaming the scene at the 2007 Ropecon

As expected, a lot of people had dressed up. A lot of them in very impressive suits. Though it may be possible to tire of blood-spattered girls in school uniforms, that didn't happen yet. The most impressive individuals were not 1:1 replicas of some World of Warcraft or Anime characters, but two small boys dressed up as hobbits. Merry and Pippin, as they claimed loud when asked. Me? The traditional baggy black cargo shorts and a non-band-logo t-shirt (definitely in a minority, especially Iron Maiden was prominently shown on dozens of chests).

Called it a day early. The auditorium got increasingly mobbed up during the tail end of Robin Laws' presentation. Mobbed up with people whose idea of decent behaviour didn't exactly agree to letting others listen to the man with the microphone. Figured that the next session might have been a disaster of epic proportions (like the last year's reality television-larp), and slunk towards the exit. A door-to-door service with 550 is just too convenient to ignore.

11.8.2007 / 09:46 EEST | permalink | | games


A Boston Red Sox cap, a worn baseball and a catcher's mitt

Image: Summer by x BriaN x (CC)

"With that Sox cap the score's 3-2 for the Yanks."

Oddest sentence concerning myself today.

In english. On the street. Loud enough to hear half a dozen meters away. Said to someone whose smile was dwindling.

Sure hope the guy picked up a couple more B's on the trip to beat his friend rooting for Steinbrenner's crew.

9.8.2007 / 23:19 EEST | permalink | | haircut

For the harder to persuade business associates ...

... we recommend this designer pillow.

It's got a seal of approval from several of the families. And you know how hard those guys are to please.

9.8.2007 / 23:14 EEST | permalink | | gadgets, humor, work

#54: Fresh

This week's photo thursday challenge subject is fresh.

My take on the subject is the attached image, a wild strawberry just about to reach ripeness. And no, I didn't eat the berry after taking the image.

(As usual, the full-size photograph is available by clicking the attached image. And the previous photo thursday pictures are all available through the gallery page.)

9.8.2007 / 00:44 EEST | permalink | | photography, photo thursday


Rest easily, Hank Aaron - Barry Bonds' home runs will always have an explanatory asterisk next to them - stating that there were some foul play involved.

A-Rod is now 256 homers behind him, and thus far untarnished. But it'll be a while, a long while, before he starts to approach the current record. Especially when Bonds has given no indication of retiring.

8.8.2007 / 23:59 EEST | permalink | | sports

Frisbee Day

Spent a good chunk of the evening tossing aerodynamic objects on the grassy fields of Tali.

Frisbee was the traditional choice, and this time we had to settle on a 175g disc due to the high winds. Hefty disc of course means nicely purpling bruising on the arms, since not every catch is a perfect one. No forehead picks this time, nor any mangled fingernails (frisbee, in addition to bowling, is one sport that rewards good clipping behaviour).

The new kid on the block was a boomerang. A plain wooden one brought from Australia last winter. Let's just say that this is much harder to throw well, and we managed neither any catches, nor even near misses in a couple of dozen throws. But practice will help, that's for sure. Were we stranded in the outback, there'd be no kangaroo meat tonight, the throws were wild at best and truly chaotic at worst.

8.8.2007 / 23:51 EEST | permalink | | haircut

Helsinki Comics Festival

Looks like I'll miss out on the annual Helsinki Comics Festival. Too bad, it's always a good source for new and interesting things to pick up.

This year's guests of honor seem unknown, which proves that my comics-fu has indeed got very weak. At least the finnish ones are familiar - and I sincerely hope that Pertti Jarla's Fingerpori ends up in collected edition format.

7.8.2007 / 22:15 EEST | permalink | | comics, Helsinki

Hiroshima @ 62

Panorama of Töölönlahti Bay, Hiroshima memorial lanterns floating

Hiroshima memorial lantern

Like last year, paid a visit to the memorial evening of the Hiroshima bombing yesterday.

Fell asleep on the couch and missed the first twenty-odd minutes (the finnish euphemism for that is, obviously, a hideous pun on the event).

Not much had changed in a year. The program was still run by the same guys, and contained music and speeches in pretty much equal proportions.

Styrofoam lanterns, probably numbering in the low hundreds, were once again released into the darkening Töölönlahti. Though this time the current seemed very limp, and not at all interested in pulling the contraptions into the sea.

(Yeah - all-black web pages are pretentious, but the photos come out so much better on a dark background, that a temporary lapse couldn't really be avoided.)

7.8.2007 / 21:59 EEST | permalink | | photography, news

Fake Steve Jobs Outed

In a surprising turn of events, New York Times blew the whistle on the great fake Steve Jobs.

We'll see what happens to the blog now that the secret's out. At least it wasn't a shill from Redmond behind the satire, that's a consolation.

6.8.2007 / 20:16 EEST | permalink | | apple, humor, blogging

Back in Cubeville

Wasn't too hard.

Meetings didn't pounce at the door.

Co-workers were supportive.

E-mail was plentiful.

Yeah. It'll be a while before the next vacation. Bite the bullet and let's go.

6.8.2007 / 19:59 EEST | permalink | | work, haircut

"English is Hard", says Barbie

Certainly. It's such a fluid beast and hard to tackle.

But there's help available.

Daily Writing Tips is a blog that provides coherently written selection of articles on a very wide range of subjects - not nearly all of which neatly fall under the subject. But considering that there are definitely multiple needles in this haystack, an occasional read cannot hurt.

[ via lifehacker. ]

5.8.2007 / 23:09 EEST | permalink | | language


The old church of Turku

So, four weeks of glorious idling later (mainly in pleasant weather), what's the final tally?

No links to individual entries. Mainly due to a sudden bout of laziness.

  • No trips abroad.
  • Hartwall's 1836 White Lager is by far the best new domestic beer.
  • Read books, lots of books.
  • Watched very little television, on the other hand.
  • Cats do not have owners. They have staff.
  • Suomenlinna is good. Even on not so good days.
  • Metallica was worth it. Even when the set was on the boring side, and the ticket priced at a steep premium.
  • Transformers turned out to be a really good movie.
  • Finally re-implemented the RSS-generator for the blog (and there was much rejoicing).
  • Didn't even seriously consider a second helping of NIN in Ankkarock.
  • A serious flu just before the vacation is not really a good thing.
  • VR takes you to places. Not cheap, but comfortably (if the correct train is selected).
  • Well-played, but badly chosen cover songs are good entertainment (I'm still perplexed by Children of Bodom's Oops I Did It Again).
  • The only hedgehog seen was sadly a recently deceased one.
  • Ladybugs were not entirely absent from Finland (like a couple of years ago).

My original aim was to have a dramatic picture of a sunset to signify the end of the vacation, but today's sunset turned out to be very much on the lame side on account of a very light cloud cover. Hence a quite different selection of an image.

5.8.2007 / 23:00 EEST | permalink | | haircut


110 meters of leaping horror in Kaivopuisto

Kaivopuisto in Helsinki is the location of a mightily high crane for the next few weeks.

110 meters of bungee-jumping thrills, suspended over the sea.

Saw someone take the plunge on saturday, far enough not to hear the inevitable screams, but close enough to see that the customer remains suspended in mid-air for an uncomfortably long time after the leap.

The world's highest (had to check, obviously) bungee-opportunity lies in South Africa, and is almost the double height at 216 meters. The Verzasca Dam-jump (as featured in the very beginning of Goldeneye) is higher, but contrary to Lonely Planet's claims is not actually a traditional bungee jump at all.

Me? It certainly would take a pretty steep offer of cold cash to even consider a jump. And even then the regularly scheduled acrophobia and a nagging sense of self-preservation might just say "No".

5.8.2007 / 22:46 EEST | permalink | | helsinki, haircut

IF by IM

In the long series on "playing interactive fiction with weird means": instant messaging.

5.8.2007 / 22:41 EEST | permalink | | interactive fiction

Flying's not supposed to be easy

As shown in Bruce Schneier's gloriously expositionary interview of Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Authority, there are some gaping holes in the logic and logistics of providing safe flights.

5.8.2007 / 22:39 EEST | permalink | | travel

Absolute Garbage

Garbage, one of my favorite 90s bands, just released a definitive "Greatest Hits" collection, Absolute Garbage. Whether that means the end of the road for the band is hard to estimate (especially when the bandmembers aren't saying anything), but the intervals between their records have grown significantly, and that's not due to a hefty touring schedule either.

The album is indeed a good selection of songs from their four albums, fortunately concentrating on the earliest two, where their creativity was highest - though the choices heavily favour old singles, and good songs have thus been left out. And their Bond-title track, off The World Is Not Enough is included in all its pompous glory as well.

The album is out in three versions: plain vanilla (18 songs on a single disc), with an extra remix-disc (13 re-renditions) and a dvd (15 songs). Bought the two-disc affair, and will keep an eye out for the dvd - it was curiously absent when I bought the record.

A couple of years back I started collecting Garbage singles on account of the widely varied and interesting B-side material included. The effort stalled after a couple of months, and while the remixes featured on this record aren't but a thin sliver of the recorded material, it'll probably be enough to prod to look into eBay once again for some of the elusive singles.

Definitely a piece of nostalgy from a past decade, but the attraction of the best songs hasn't really dwindled in the years since. And Shirley Manson's voice still melts ice cubes in seconds.

5.8.2007 / 11:55 EEST | permalink | | music

When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro

Despite the massive increases in visitor numbers lately, this blog won't attempt to go commercial any time soon. As a recent article in Hesari shows, blogging isn't the way to financial success in Finland. Especially in a blog where most of the inbound surfers follow image links.

But then again, I never assumed that writing could provide an extra chunk of income, so that's all right. For now at least.

5.8.2007 / 11:29 EEST | permalink | | blogs

Still a kind of magic

Spent an enjoyable four hours yesterday getting back to gaming roots: played a five-man sealed deck tournament of Magic: the Gathering, the original collectible card game.

This was the first time in five or so years (apart from an unorthodox single deck highlander variant in a new year's party), and the game was both the same, and very much evolved.

The basic mechanics and rules haven't changed, and there's quite a few of the old staple cards still in the set. But that's "quite a few" only, a huge portion of the set consists of cards taken from later sets - featuring unfamiliar (or at least recently renamed) abilities and even new victory conditions.

So, it's sufficient to say that getting to grips with both the game and the forty-card deck took a while. Didn't utterly suck (managed to win a few games), but was comfortably held to the last place in the tourney. But this occasion was pretty much as casual as things go - and the games were enjoyed by all.

The online version of the game seems destined to remain Windows-only, which is a pity - as a quick game or two online would simple enough to play whenever. Too bad, but as the FAQ-answer states, using emulation is always a possibility. Not a prime reason to acccelerate the inevitable upgrade to an Intel-based laptop, but a small factor nonetheless.

4.8.2007 / 12:48 EEST | permalink | | games

WYSAEWYG - What You See Ain't Exactly What You Get

At least when color output from a laser printer is concerned.

3.8.2007 / 13:23 EEST | permalink | | computing, big brother

An expected delay

GTA IV will be postponed till spring 2008. On a positive note though, it seems that 360 is the format of choice for the game.

Bioware's Mass Effect on the other hand has no set release date yet, and hazy signals point towards a delayed release in Europe. Which, obviously, would not be a good thing.

3.8.2007 / 13:04 EEST | permalink | | games

Blogs of Summer (Don Henley, music and lyrics)

Recent arrivals.

2.8.2007 / 21:54 EEST | permalink | | links, blogs, games, gadgets, interactive fiction, books, stupidity, bitching

Objets d'Art

No lesser expression is adequate for these two wondrous items.

First up: an alarm clock that hurts you where it hits the most, when you press the snooze-button: your wallet. Indeed, with SnūzNLūz a deposit to your favorite charity is just a moment of laziness away. Of course, the ultimate solution would be to combine this baby with the alarm clock that wakes you up in Jeeves' voice as well as a natural light-based one.

And if I was more of a tea-drinking man, the tea penguin would come in very handy, considering that half of my rare teacups are slamdunked to inky blackness after some event distracts enough to divert attention from prompt removal of the teabag.

(This entry oddly in white, due to less-than-optimal dithering used in the original images.)

2.8.2007 / 21:26 EEST | permalink | | gadgets

Top of the July 2007

Hit-wise the july just ended was by far the biggest ever in the history of this blog.

By far the most common inbound term was "Tomi Ervamaa", and variants thereof. I never expected a short personal honoring of the guy to bring in such a crowd.

But that doesn't account for the vast majority of the hits, hits from Google's image search. Seems that the attached picture (originally featured as an answer to photo thursday's challenge #41) is the most attractive to random surfers.

1.8.2007 / 13:20 EEST | permalink | | blog

Better living through fake receipts?

(Something odd happened the first time this got posted back in july, apologies to those seeing this double.)

I sincerely hope that the customreceipts.com is a joke...

After all, spreading bits of paper with embarrassingly big numbers on them can lead to nothing good.

[ via boingboing. ]

1.8.2007 / 12:52 EEST | permalink | | stupidity

Movie-review archives up to date

Picked out all movie-review related articles and subtle hints thereof from the last three years and put together a piece of xslt-code that'll craft no less than five differently sorted variants therefrom.

The alphabetical one is a good place to start, with others trivially reached through it.

The edges may still be rough, so take care when reading. Reports on misbehaviour welcome, of course.

And while this covers pretty much 90+ percent of the movies seen in the last three years, there's a few decades worth watched films missing.

1.8.2007 / 12:34 EEST | permalink | | movies

dead trees

Charles Stross: Glass House

Clayton M. Christensen: Seeing What's Next

Robert Bringhurst: The Elements of Typographic Style

Brooks Jackson & Kathleen Hall Jamieson: un*Spun

Lonely Planet: Blue List.2007

George Pelecanos: The Night Gardener

Boris Akunin: Patasotilas

Scott Lynch: Lies of Locke Lamora

Simon Oliver et. al.: The Exterminators, vol. 2: Insurgency

Jean-Claude Mézières & Pierre Christin: Valerian: Kivien Järjestys

top of the pod

Turisas: Varangian Way

Alice Cooper: The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper

Garbage: Absolute Garbage

Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet

Rolling Stones: Tattoo You

Killers: Hot Fuss

Linkin Park: Meteora

Nightwish: Amaranth

HIM: Kiss of Dawn

Turisas: Battle Metal

amusements galore

House, MD, season 2

Keskiviikon Keisarit

Mike Nichols: Catch-22

Bethesda Softworks: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Rare: Viva Piñata

Capcom: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Sopranos, season 5

CSI:Miami, season 5

Deadwood, season 3

Lost, season 3

David R. Ellis: Snakes on a Plane

Jeff Schaffer: Eurotrip

Jericho, season 1

Prison Break, season 2

CSI, season 6

Irrational Games: Bioshock

Llamasoft: Space Giraffe

flicks to catch

Josh Gordon: Blades of Glory

David Yates: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Robert Rodriguez: Grindhouse: Planet Terror

David Silverman: The Simpsons Movie

Paul Greengrass: The Bourne Ultimatum

Frank Oz: Death at a Funeral

ToDo here

topic tag the archives

add captions to photos

add flickr badge

add best of... selection

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