Bartender: water on the rocks!

Bottled water is a pet-peeve of mine. Now, I can understand the fact that bottled-water is needed in places where tab-water is not drinkable. But take Finland for example. Finland has humungous amounts of fresh water available, straight through the faucet. Independent comparisons show that tab-water in Finland is clearly superior to Evian and other bottled waters out there.

So what is the hit-drink in Finland these days? Bottled water, of course! Hell, even my workplace is full of bottled water. Now, maybe that's due to the fact that we routinely have people over from all over te world, and they might not know that the tab-water is actually better than the water in the bottle. But still. Not only do we have bottled water, we have watercoolers as well, even though there's cool and pletiful water available through "normal" means.

What's the deal here? Let's haul waterbottles around in trucks, so that we can consume some more oil and pollute a bit more. Let's make even more plastic bottles because, let's face it: you can never have too many plastic bottles in a society! Yeah, we have humungous amounts of clean water coming in to every household, but since marketdroids say that selling people bottled water at about 200 times the price the tab-water costs is a smart thing to, who am I to argue? Well, it's smart for the people who are selling the water that is.... Hell, why don't I start selling regural tab-water in some stylish bottle? quality would be superior to to 95% of bottled water out there. I could say on the label that "this water comes from deep within the soil of Finland", and it would still be the exact same water I get from the tab.

Reality called. It told that bottled water in places like Finland is DUMB!

Yes! Finally!

The heuristic spam-filter on my machine FINALLY learned that messages with subject-line "our store is your cureall!" is in fact spam!

Technology with a soul

A word of warning: this is a "nerds gone wild" post. This post contains rambling, weirdness and everything else in between.

What happened to technology? More precisely: what happened to computers? In the "good ol' days" we had computers that were fun and interesting. They were the kind of machines that send shivers down your spine and they actually fostered creativity. I dunno, maybe I'm just sentimental or something, but still.

My first computer was a C-64. And that machine was a blast! Of course I was just a kid, so I mostly just played games with it. Games were loaded from C-tapes mostly, and it could take ages to do so. We simply don't have the time or the patience to wait for several minutes for some app to launch today. But when you waited for 20 minutes (worst-case scenario) for some game to load, it made the game feel so much more worthwhile. You really had to go the extra mile to do something with the computer. Today you just click an icon, and if it takes longer than 10 seconds for the app to load, we start to complain.

That machine was then replaced by C-128. I was the only kid in the block with C-128, rest had C-64 or MSX. Yep, I was cool even back then! And that machine was a joy to program! It came with BASIC that was very simple to hack, even for me. So I spent several hours in front of the machine with my brother creating simple programs. I was actually _creating_ something with the computer.

After C-128 came the biggest step in my computing-history: The arrival of Amiga 500. It's difficult to explain the feeling of moving from C-64/128 to the Amiga. Most people simply use computers, they are not otherwise that interested in them. And kids today don't really know anything about the Amiga since they were too young back then (hell, many of them weren't even born!). But the difference between Amiga and C-64/128 was huge. It had a GUI! The machine could actually talk! Stereo-sound! Multitasking! That was all new back then (well, Macs did predate Amiga on the GUI-front by a bit). And, in my opinion, that was the last time we have seen real innovation in computers. Ever since Amiga was introduced, all we have had is the same stuff, just a bit faster, a bit prettier. Never since the Amiga has there been such a huge step in computing, and I'm not simply talking about the performance of the computer, but the overall "experience" of using the computer. Amiga really changed things.

I still have my Amiga, and I use it occasionally. It works perfectly and it's a joy to use. Not bad for a computer that is over 15 years old. I don't care one bit what has happened to my past PC's, but I do care what happens to my Amiga.

Amiga, like the C-128 before it was a kind of machine that fostered creativity. I used paint-programs quite often. I wasn't good at using them, but I still used them. I also used trackers (SoundTracker mostly). My "music" sucked and I wasn't very good at it. But again: I _created_ something with the computer. There was something in the technology that fostered creativity.

All that ended when I took my next step in my timeline of computing: I bought a PC. A very serious-looking machine that ran DOS. It was "good enough to get the job done". But it lacked soul. It was no fun. Sure, it had good games and such, but the machine itself was boring. No GUI by default (and Windows sucked, so nothing much has changed since then), no proper sound by default. And there was no _community_. Amiga had a great community around it. There was the demoscene, where people pushed the machine to it's limits by creating kick-ass graphics and audio and we (the mere mortals) wondered at their creations. I swapped games (which, strictly speaking, was illegal....), music and demos with my friends , I had friends come over and we played together. There was a true sense of bonding going on. It was the apex of my computing-experience.

All that ended with the PC. PC's simply didn't foster anything like that. PC has that "do your job!"-attitude on it, it doesn't foster communities like Amiga did. Amiga was a computer created by enthusiasts (those enthiasts then turned to businesspeople with horrible results) for enthusiasts. I can even name the person who designed the Amiga: Jay Miner. Who designed the PC? I have no idea. Things like that are not important with PC's, PC is a computer designed by businesspeople for businesspeople. There is no soul, just technology. Technology with no soul is just a collection of chips, circuit-boards and metal. Technology with a soul is something more.

I have seen traces of that community in few places since then. Linux is one. Macs are another (although the hard-core Mac-fans are a bit too militant to my taste. But I digress). But it's just that, traces. It's nothing like it was in the late eighties/early nineties.

The New Light

Let there be light

And more

That is all

It's a sing-a-long!

The Annual International Humiliation Contest is getting closer again. Finland has been doing particular well there, coming in last or almost last for as long as anyone can remember. And considering the dreadful songs ("Yamma Yamma" from 1992... Sometimes I still wake up screaming....) we have kept on sending there, it's no surprise. Year after year we have sent a dime-a-dozen song, and every single year the media goes crazy saying "THIS year we will do well!". And then we'll end up being last. And it's pretty strange, considering that Finland does have quite a few excellent singers/bands. It's propably due to the fact that voters are usually 50+ years old, and they send their favourites to the contest.

This year it seems that Finns in general are fed up with the contest. A collective "fuck it" was heard all across the land as they voted in Lordi to represent Finland this year. We might still come in last, but at least we will lose with style. No more Mr. "I'll do my best, and let's see how far it takes me". This time it's fire and brimstone, axes, monsters and "if you don't give me points, I'll fucking crush your skull". One thing Finland has going for them this year is the fact that there are several boring pop-songs, and in middle of them all there is a hard-rock musical extravaganza straight from the pits of hell. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Some people feel that this will be an embarrasment for Finland, and that we are destined to lose this year. And that's different from previous years.... how, exactly? And, as it happens, religious fundamentalists are appalled by this, and they are demanding a presidential intervention to prevent Lordi from appearing on the contest. "Concerned citizens" are complaining that Lordi is turning the contest from family-friendly show in to something that will corrupt and destroy the moral backbone of our children (even though our previous entries in the contest have done exceedingly well in eternally scarring the mental well-being of the viewers).

I'm loving every moment of this.

Death Listens

For few days now I have found myself thinking about two paintings by Hugo Simberg: "The Garden of Death" and "Death Listens". I think those two paintings are my two favourites. I like them because of their symbolism and because they make us re-think things that we have taken for granted.

In the western societies, we find death to be something scary and sad. And why not, we lose someone we love. But I like how in those two paintings, Simberg shows Death to be compassionate and caring.

In "Garden of Death", we have Death gently taking care of the souls. The souls are on their way to their final destination (heaven or hell), but while Death is taking care of them, they'll be fine. I like how Death gently embraces one of the souls. It looks like it's very precious to him and he wouldn't want to let go of it.

In "Death Listens", we have Death on his way to "collect" someone from this world. But on his way, Death has stopped to listen a boy play his violin. It's quite obvious that the woman in the background (maybe the boys mother or grandmother) is the one who is about to die. But Death decided to let the boy finish his music first, possibly because Death enjoys the music and because he know that the music will cheer up the dying woman. Death silently listens as the boy plays the violin, his last act of kindness to a dying member of the family. There's no need to interrupt that beautiful moment, so Death waits, and listens.

Morbid? Maybe. But it's still beautiful and thought-provoking.

There's nothing on the silver-screen these days....

Few months ago I won a bunch of free tmovie-tickets. So life is good, right? I can go to the movies, and not spend a dime doing so? It has been several months since I got those tickets, and I haven't used any of them. Not one.

Yes, I can be pretty picky when it comes to movies, but it's extra hard when you are married and you have to find a movies that both parties will enjoy. And in the lasts few months, it has been exceedingly difficult to find movies that would satisfy just one. Last movie I saw was the "Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy", and it has been downhill ever since. There has been SOME movies that would have been worth watching, but not many.

What options have there been recently, as far as movies are concerned (in no particular order)?

King Kong: Yes, I'm a fan of Peter Jackson, have been since "Bad Taste". But King Kong just didn't interest me. Official score: Meh

Chronicles of Narnia: This might have interested me. But Soili wasn't that keen, mainly due to she has already seen the tv-series, so there's nothing new that this movie brings to the table (apart from better special effects). Oh well.

Brokeback Mountain: The idea behind this move is interesting, and everyone is praising it. But once I told Soili about it her reaction was "I don't like westerns". I tried telling her that it's not a traditional western, and she said "Gay cowboys? I don't think so". I tried telling her that people whose judgement I trust have praised the movie, and it's nominated for several Oscars, but no go. Bummer

Memoirs of a Geisha: Now we're talking! The movie seems like a really beautiful piece of filmmaking. But.... This might fall in to the trap Soili dislikes: People who are supposed to be non-English speaking (in this case, Japanese), still speak English, but with a suitable accent. Maybe it's for convenience's sake but still. I'm still working on this one

Äideistä Parhain: A Finnish movie. This was high on my list to watch, and Soili would have been pretty interested on it as well, due to the subject-matter being pretty close to her heart. But for one reason or the other, we never got around to watch it. Damn.

Pride and Prejudice: The new version. Now, this is propably a good movie, a definite "Soili-movie" :). But there is just one problem.... We already have the 1995 mini-series, and if we go watch the new version, we will end up comparing it to the previous version. And I'm 99% sure that the new version would fall short of it's predecessor (yes, the mini-series is that good). So we would end up being disappointed.

There is hope still: The Tiger and The Snow. This movie was Soili's suggestion. She likes Roberto Benigni (and I like Jean Reno) , and I'm willing to go watch whatever she wants to go see. She was a bit put off when she found out that the movie takes place during the invasion of Iraq (she's not to keen on war-movies). But since the point of the movie is not the war, she might still be willing to go see it :).