|There are fun things in life and then there are some that are not so fun. Last week one of those not so fun things that happened, my grandma passed away. Death is one of those things I try not to think about because worrying about death is worrying about something that is inevitable and even the best of us will go one day. Sure, there are people out there who hypothesise that my generation or the 90s-2000s babies generation will live for hundreds of years, but I hope that only happens when someone figures out how to live without getting sick/ageing and how not to have to work for up until about three years before you die. Can you imagine having to work for hundreds of years? Possibly doing the same job for all those years? That's enough to drive one insane.|
But I digress. The event made me think a bit and look at my relationship to my inner feelings and I've come to some very startling, for me, conclusions. First of all, the one that shocked me most was that I felt no inclination to go to the funeral. I was fine with flying in and being there in general, but actually just the idea of going to the funeral (and worse, seeing the body) made me very uncomfortable. The main reason being that currently my last memory of my grandma is that of my last visit and I didn't want it to be replaced by a memory associated with her dead body. It's not the first time I notice that I try to avoid associating bad memories with events or people and if I do have memories like that, I usually start feeling very uncomfortable when asked to bring them back up.
The second thing that felt rather strange was the fact that in the end what upset me most wasn't the death itself, it was the fact that people I cherish a lot were suffering because of it. Perhaps trying to put everything into perspective and trying to be rational and practical about everything is my way of dealing with things.
Rereading the whole thing above makes me think that I sound a bit cold-hearted. Oh well, as I said, that's probably how I try to keep everything together.
I actually tried finding a photo or two of my grandma to post, I know must have some in the old scanned folder or maybe in the blackhole known as "photo-archives" (photos go there after being on the harddrive for more than a year and then are never heard of again, it's a scary place I rarely venture into)... but I can't find any right now... so here is a funky photo of mini!me (it seems I haven't posted anything under that tag in over a year!)
|I don't know about you guys but for me a birthday isn't a birthday if there aren't candles involved. A birthday without material gifts is fine, a birthday without a special birthday cake is fine but a birthday without candles is not a birthday, they don't need to match or be fancy but they have to be there. On this occasion the candles lightly rested on a plum/apricot tart (recipe previously mentioned here).|
( +3 - food for thought )
Time flies when you're having fun but it also flies when you aren't.
This is Toulouse. Toulouse was eight (nine?) days ago and yet it feels like it was a month ago. Heck for work I'm already making plans for the 18th-19th and that feels like it's tomorrow and that the month is almost over but in reality it just began! November is always busy, there are always random deadlines, random things to attend to.
Is it really only the 2nd today? Really? Can I have some extra filler days? Like day 2b and 2c and then maybe I'll also need a 10a, 10b an 10c, same thing fore the 14th and the 17th.
( one more of sunny Toulouse 'pour la route' )
Today in France is mostly known as "la rentrée" which means that even though many came back to work earlier this week or will be coming back next week, quite a few were back today. I was one of those... Ah. The joys of work. For kids I'm not quite sure what the coming-back-to-school day is, for the "kids" (they're all 20-22 years old) that I may have the pleasure of teaching, or at least passing by in the hallway, that day is next Monday.
Anywho. I discovered my commuting route. About 20 minutes of driving (a bit more coming back because the sun is face on and it's distracting), 34 minutes of train, 15-20 minutes of walking. The train ride is still rather awesome, after all not everyone gets to ride along the French Riviera every single work day!
And in other news, it highly amuses me that when there is Mistral the planes have to make a detour to land and they actually pass close to the house. If I could just get dropped off right above it would save me that hour long trip to the airport!
BTW, carnifinda thank you so much for the card! Yay!
( 2x2 more photos - something else I got in the mail and 10 year old film! )
It's been a tad less than a week and I still feel like I'm in Marseille on holiday. I guess the realisation that I'm here for a year will come when I start commuting in September and when I'm back from Canada.
Still, so far, it's been good to be back. I know that my parents are making efforts to feed me varied food but so far it's a good thing, a bit overwhelming but still good. I will admit that I sort of miss my simple dinners and my miso-paste based "soups", I bet that in a couple of weeks the three of us will be back to that.
The best part, obviously, is also being able to eat together like in the good old days. For me, sitting down together at the dinner table and just talking about nothing and everything is what's normal, I was really surprised when some others told me that their parents just gave them food and went to do other things or just watch telly. Maybe that's why I have problems eating standing up. Some habits are hard to get rid of.
The other good thing is that we can eat outside. The other day there was a storm that was announced, in the end we only got about three five-minute showers, and the sky had the most amazing clouds. There were at least three varieties... and hey, I'm an official cloudspotter, that's exiting!
( fish, that's what's for dinner! )
Now this was probably two of the best experiences I had in Shanghai, the "magic troupe" and the aquarium.
The New Shanghai Circus, it's not so much about the show as about the reactions of the people sitting beside you!
I don't know if we fell on school night or if there are always that many students attending the performances but I would say about 3/4 of the place was filled with kids.
( rest of the story )
On the before-last day I headed out to the aquarium with a buddy. We had the subway system down by then, it's on the "other" side of the river so we could have taken the little under-river tunnel cars again but I think I would have died laughing if I had gone back that way.
( field trip to the aquarium )
Do you want to be epic? So epic that they will put up statues for you? So epic that people will find it boring to take photos of the front of that statue? Then be like Freddie Mercury, be epic like him!
Alright. So by that point I was sitting down on the steps of the market hall in Montreux and I had realised I didn't have a single statue!Freddie photo... so I took what I saw. (here is what the statue looks like from the front)
And then there is another way to be epic and that is to get a postcard sent by Gali from Korea! You know the drill, either fill in the form below, post a comment (they're screened) or send me an email with your address.
If you received a postcard from me from China then I have your address, if you haven't moved since then and you want a postcard, just drop me a line saying so.
Last Wednesday, on our yearly summer work outing we went to eat at Perho which is the restaurant of the Helsinki culinary school. It's on Mechelininkatu 7 if you're ever tempted and you happen to be in Helsinki... but I think you probably need to call beforehand to know how it all works.
What can I say about that experience? Well, it's a culinary school so obviously the same service as at a restaurant shouldn't be expected, they were just learning how to serve wine and there were some spills and some broken glass but I didn't master the art of derivation on the first try either back in school either and serving wine with one hand without spilling a drop will probably be forever out of my reach.
The food... hum. If you want my honest opinion, the starters were rather good, they were the usual buffet starters, fish, some exotic pork meat (I think it was the neck), salads, bread, etc.
( photos of the food and further thoughts )
The lighting wasn't exceptional (and I was seated in the corner furthest away from the windows) so the photos ended up rather funky. I should learn to stick to one setting because it seems that every single photo is in a different shade of yellow or green, ah well.
Dear world, let me state some opinions that I have and that I need to share:
- I don't get that's the hype with Glee. Really.
- Why do people assume that I have a need to go see the Sex and the City film? I have never even watched a single episode of that show in my life! It's because I'm female and in my mid-20s that I automatically will want to!
- I don't know why everyone is all over the new Doctor Who series. They're good but they're not all that good. I have to admit that I kind of struggle after about five minutes into each episode and I must convince that I must keep on watching it because otherwise I'd watching something else.
- I've been having cravings for udon noodles. They are of course only sold in Asian shops around here and the closest ones are in Hakaniemi or close to Sello. I've been rather lazy to bike there these days. I think it's the first time a craving hasn't won over my laziness.
In other news, it's rather a tricky business getting the tilt-shift effect without the proper lens or without relying on those tilt-shift makers online. In the end this photo didn't turn out too bad:
There were many, many, many other attempts but this is the one I'm happiest with. It's mini!Montreux as seen from above.
Yeah, that's how I like to waste about an hour on Wednesday nights.
In other other news, today opens the CS Helsinki Weekly Meetings at the park season... and of course it's foggy and rather cold. Bah. I hope the afternoon clears up this weather a bit... yesterday was such a lovely day, why can't we get a day like that today also?
Yeah... try going up all the damn time. Isn't there a story about someone who tried to go to fast and then they ended nowhere? I remember the story of the guy who tried to fly too high and ended up crashing... but the other one. It wasn't really the hare, the hare just went super duper fast and then ended being tired. Oh well. I sucked at those stories anyway.
(Btw, the above photos are from a hike I went on while in Montreux, further photos under the cut, it was really lovely but walking up all those damned stairs killed me and I could barely walk because muscles I didn't even know existed started hurting.)
The point is that today I went to a meeting for international staff about some new stuff at our "new" university. For those who didn't know, three universities in Helsinki joined forces and became "Aalto University". Why not University of Helsinki? Because there is already one... so they looked for another name and what exports well besides Muumin and Marimekko? Alvar Aalto. Plus the name starts with a double A, try beating that to be the first one on the list.
Anywho... as previous seen it really looks like they're doing everything too fast! I remember that when I came to TKK a little over two years ago there were just starting to talk about Aalto University. It became a reality about a year and a half later and it seems like a huge mess! We didn't get any clear answers! We still have no idea about the tenure tracks, who'll finance them, what are the specific areas, etc. And now they also announce that the university will not be three schools but six because the current "School of Science and Technology" (ex-TKK) will be separated into four schools based on the current faculties. Bah.
I have a feeling that when I leave to do my year in France everything will change again. I'll come back and I won't even recognise Otaniemi! Alright, so maybe not to that point but still so many things will change and perhaps a tad too fast.
I really hope that they're just really bad at presenting stuff to people and that they know what they're doing because it would be a shame to lose great people who could have come to work for the different universities in Finland.
That was the "Gali must complain about something work-related at least once a day" part of the post. Now let's go back to Montreux!
( Read more... )
Oh yeah and the fun part is that I just found some more photos of food from Shanghai I haven't posted. I really should get around to that!
Today is my dad's 50th birthday! If there is anyone in this world who makes 50 look young, that's my dad!
So Happy Birthday Dad!
At first I was going to post a picture of either my sister or I with my dad when we were babies but I can't find the photo anymore... oh well. In case anyone is interested, here is a photo of us 24 years later, taken this spring.
In terms of people who have heavily influenced my life, my father is right there at the top. I doubt I would have gone into research if he wasn't in that also. I certainly wouldn't know what GABA receptors and NMDA are if it weren't for him... He's done some crazy things with me, he's run the Marseille-Cassis a bunch of times just to help me stay motivated even when I was ready to give up at 100m away from the top. He's reworked the whole garden at the house, he's completely rebuilt the shed there. Hopefully sometime in the next year we'll be able to go climb some ridiculous mountain, I suggested the Kilimanjaro or trying for the holy trinity of Japanese mountains. I think the highest we've ever climbed together was somewhere around 3500m or so which in the end isn't that much compared to what's possible out there. Still, he's climbed about every mountain in the ex-USSR in his youth, that's how awesome he is!
Bah. That also means that I'm turning 25 later this year and I should really start thinking about acting my age... but instead I just told my whole family that we're going to Parc Asterix because I haven't been there in ages. How's that for acting like a grown up?
Finland did not make it to the ESC finals. People who did not vote for them suck. Yep.
Now that's the update about that... I have no idea who they were up against but as I said, a girl playing the accordion gets a thousand extra points. I have no biases.
And now for the spazzing! The book finally got to my house! I already have the dates where I'll be... first two days in Seoul, three days in Jeju, two days in Busan and then a week back in Seoul.
Now, unless you've been living under a rock, you will know that not everything is super duper calm between the two Koreas. People ask me if it worries me and honestly it doesn't. Maybe it's because I'm careless, maybe it's something else but unless it fully escalates into a terribly violent conflict, I doubt there is much to worry about. Sure, I'll be a few hundred kilometers from one of the craziest regimes in the world but just how much of that is intimidation strategy and how much is real?
Back to the spazzing. I already booked a lovely guesthouse room in what appears to be a traditional environment for my week of bumming around Seoul. Like no beds but sleeping "Korean style" and everything is wooden and all. Hopefully it's not too far from everything... we'll see. I'm so terrible with reading metro maps that I couldn't really tell. I think the metro system is bigger than in Paris and I still get lost in Paris, thank goodness Helsinki only has one line.
In Jeju, there are many places where to rent a bike and I'm going to be do that, if it's not rainig too much. The problem is that my plan to go there by boat seem a tad more annoying than a plane... they have a huge number of low-cost airlines with webpages with everything in Korean and GoogleTranslate isn't helping because almost everything text is written in images rather than plain text. But hey, I now know how to properly spell the names of the Korean airports in Hangul. This morning I also heard about a local speciality which is something along the lines of "milk-crab porridge", basically you take a small live crab, crush it in a bowl, cook it or something with milk and voila. I think I'll skip that one.
Busan is going to be awesome too. I can already feel it. I've only allocated two days for the city, hopefully that's going to be enough. They have beaches there and they have the biggest public baths in the world (apparently). Oh yeah, so going there. I'll be going back to Seoul by bus, it's only like 4 hours.
Wheee! So excited! I do have to admit that it's weird going somewhere for two weeks and not know that I have this and this company/factory/university to visit. I almost feel the need to contact someone from the local unis and visit their mechanical engineering department or organise a seminar to present a few ptts about my work. It's sad, very sad.
PS: The 365days project has been updated in the background (back-dated entries). Up to Day 202 now!
Ah, Montreux. I can see why so many people have picked this town as a place to come for a breath of fresh air. Not that it's that fresh these days with the highway right next door, but it's still rather pleasant.
Yep, there is a long list of famous people who used to live there on Montreux' wiki. Even Mannerheim lived there and has a statue. It seems no matter where I go I can't escape Finland!
|As for most of the trip to Switzerland, the weather wasn't that great. After we visited the companies on the French side, we came back to the train station in Geneva and took the train to Montreux and I was really afraid that it was going to rain the whole time. Thank goodness the evening wasn't that bad, just windy and dark but not rainy, so it was possible to go for a walk. |
Montreux and the towns next to it have this long path along the water with loads of flowers and weird statues (right now it's statues based on the Madagascar cartoon, having never seen it, I didn't quite get what the statues represented).
(and at one point this post was huge but then I clicked on the wrong button and of course the window closed without saving and therefore there aren't any comments on the photos under the cut. Oh well.
( +26 more of Montreux from the first evening there, still no Freddie Mercury )
It's official: Gali is going for mid-summer to Korea!
I already have all these plans, I'll be staying for almost two weeks and I am so going to visit Jeju and Busan! I've heard so much about these two that I am going to take a ferry to go to Jeju. I am. I'm thinking Incheon -> Jeju -> Busan as the start of my adventures. It's about a 12 hour overnight ferry trip each way and it's going to be awesome!
I plan also on spending my last days just bumming around Seoul, learning more Korean (hey, I can kind of read the alphabet now and I know some essential phrases). Or maybe find a nice park or beach and put on my 80SPF sunscreen and sit around catching up on reading while enjoying kimchi for lunch and dinner.
I'm going to be a bad CouchSurfer and actually stay in hotels because I want this to be a real holiday (with maybe some thesis writing here and there when I get bored). I'm only taking my travel backpack though to stop myself from buying everything awesome I see.
Alright, let me go back to squeeing and making drastic plans. I haven't been this excited in years!
I finally got my bike out of the bike shed and checked that nothing new needs replacing. It seems everything is fine except for the part where it's still freezing cold in the morning. I just went around the western part of the island and my lungs hurt a lot. I suppose it was a mix of both cold and tiny water droplets.
Still I'm courageous, I'm going to go to work by bike from now on. Yay. I'm still dreading a bit the 4C or lower that I'll have to face at 6:30am though.
Anyway, I still love my old school Helkama. And in the bike shed it spent the winter next to its Helkama friend!
(my bike is on the right)
The Expo 2010 is starting tomorrow in Shanghai and since I doubt that everyone can go there, here's what the site looks like at night. Or actually it's what it's supposed to look like. The pavillions are pretty funky there. The Finnish one looks like a huge bowl... I suppose it's to represent IIttala's stuff. The French one is a huge mesh that somehow reminds me of Centre Pompidou. The German one looks as if the designer took some paper and creased it a bit. I can't remember what everyone else is presenting.
Obviously this isn't the real thing, it's the model they have the Urban Planning Center.
( here's what it looks like during the day... and some more from the Urban expo center )
And of course tomorrow is Vappu, also known as Gali's favourite Finnish holiday. This evening we're going to see how the Manta statue gets her graduation hat and tomorrow we're at the picnic in Kaivopuisto with everyone. Yes, we'll brave the rain. We're great like that.
When I said spring isn't here, I might have lied a bit. Doesn't change the fact that tomorrow the maximum temperature should be 5C.
( +1 )
Finally, finally, finally I am done with that mini-thesis thing I had to write for the CERN trip next week. It's such a weight off my shoulders but it clearly showed me that I do know what I want from my thesis and it will really need 150 pages to write it all out, at least.
Now I have to finish off a project on smart grids and on PV/solar thermal installations in third world countries.
And on a non-work related note, I still have to buy everything for Saturday and I have to do it tomorrow... because Friday is going to be busy and everyone will be going to Alko to buy stuff. Sparkling wine, stuff to make fruit salad (for our "very-very-early-Vappu-breakfast-dinner-
In a way I can't wait, Vappu is my favourite holiday in Finland!
Oh... and here are some nice clouds I saw the other day.
Don't mind the weird exposure/contrast going on there. Just look at the funky clouds.