Thursday, 27 August 2009



How do you know that something has turned into a problem? How can you be sure you’re not exaggerating? Most conflicts are based on misunderstandings, but how can you be transparent enough to avoid those misunderstandings in the first place? And how do you solve the problem once it’s there?



Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Right now, I am...

Feeling… better than yesterday and enjoying the breeze (fingers crossed for some rain, but that might be too much to ask for?)

Wearing… a stripy tee and a skirt that is too short (well, there's nobody looking so who cares what I'm wearing? :))

Drinking… a mix of green, white and red tea (full of antoxidants…)

Listening to… the radio and the people working outside (any kind of music is good for cheering up people)

Watching… the clouds (there's an old Finnish song, Kauas pilvet karkaavat, that I like very much)




Monday, 24 August 2009

Back In Business

The holidays are over even if it is difficult to believe that it is
almost autumn. The trip was exhausting, yet relaxing and I feel that I'm
filled with new energy and a big dose of decisiveness that I didn't have
a couple of weeks ago.

Autumn is always full of promises and resolutions, very much like the
New Year. To a certain degree, it is more of a new beginning than
January, after all, the change between summer and autumn is more radical
than the slight differences between December and January.

So, here are my resolutions:

- Follow my study & exercise plan: now is the time to lose my time
optimism. I always think I have about 72 hours to spend each day, which
really isn't the case. However, I will be able to do everything I want
to if I do it according to schedule. Boring? Maybe, but hopefully the
end result will be worth it.

- Get my shorts back on. This is oh so sad but oh so true. I'm far from
overweight, but it would be nice to get back to my "Russia size". Having
learnt from my mistakes (i.e. fainting in public places) however, this
time I'll eat more than just porridge, kefir and coca cola light and
exercise more.

- Try a new activity and challenge myself: fencing, belly dancing and
tango are some of the things I might be interested in.

Does anyone else have any great plans for this autumn?

Monday, 17 August 2009

Good friends and intensive language training

Today I have spent all day in the company of good friends. First I hooked up with a friend at the library (the number one meeting place in Mariehamn) - it was so funny as we didn't recognise each other (I have gone blonde and she has dyed her hair brown!) at first. We managed to recap the last year and a half of our lives at high speed over raspberry smoothies, before going for ice cream (pear... yummy!).
After that meeting I went to see another old friend of mine, and I simultaneously got to practise my Polish language skills. Although the girl knows some Swedish, our language of communication has always been Polish. The first time we met on Friday was weird; she spoke a mix of Polish, Swedish and English. I, in turn, babbled away in Polish, Russian and Spanish. But, we understood each other perfectly! In general, I'm quite satisfied with myself, although yes and no are completely messed up. No in Polish can be translated as yeah, and all evening I have been trying to give my affirmation with a No, no even when speaking Spanish.
All in all, it has been a good day with great company!

Saturday: Family

One brother is missing, the rest of the people (except for the last boy) are family members. Last Saturday we all met up to celebrate my mother (who will be 50 in October) and my dad who turned 48 yesterday. It was very nice seeing everyone again!

Saturday: Food

What would Jane Austen do?

The other day I found a copy of the Jane Austen Book Club among my brother´s stuff and decided to watch it. I liked the film a lot, not only does it feature some of my favourite actors (Hugh Dancy and Emily Blunt) but it was both funny and romantic without getting to cheesy.
In the spirit of Jane Austen, the film concentrated on messy relationships with clever endings. Somtetimes the best solution is not to run away but to go back and give it another try.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Nobody ever tells me anything

There are two new sofas in our house. A huge TV. My mother has bought herself a digital camera. My brother has a tattoo. This is shocking, because nobody has mentioned anything to me and as a first child and big sister I should be entitled to know everything :(

First day in Åland

What a day! After getting up at 7 am, we spent almost two hours before getting to the ferry. The problem with living on an island is getting there and away; sea sickness is not fun! Fortunately the journey only lasted for two hours, and most of that time was pleasantly spent in the buffet; a brunch consisting of salmon, omelette, pancakes with blueberry jam and lots and lots of green tea is very yummy.

The highlight of the day was definitely my run: it felt so good and getting up that horrible hill really gave me an enormous kick. I'm getting somewhere! Apart from that, I have also been playing with my new laptop. Yey :)

Lost and Found

How can a big ship get lost? And what on earth is/was going onboard Arctic Sea? And why did the Russian marine have to go all the way to Gibraltar to hunt it down? Is it really that impossible to keep track of a boat that is located in international waters?

Note: the most recent update is that Russian frigate Ladny is following a ship similar to Arctic Sea outside of Gibraltar.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

(Scary) pics from Saturday

Cloudy Morning

A while ago I complained to someone that there is no real autumn in Valencia. This might still be the case, but the last few days have been quite a good substitute. It's been cloudy and fairly chilly since Saturday so I suppose that sometimes you really get what you ask for.

Today will be realy busy:

- meet M at 11 and go to the pharmacy
- take an exam
- finish packing
- go for a run if it's not too hot
- go out for dinner

Monday, 10 August 2009

Un lunes lleno de eficiencia

Ahora voy a poner un poquito de música alegre y limpiar el piso. Esta mañana ya he ido a correr y enviado dos mails bastante importantes. Yey, luego solo tendré que hacer la maleta y estaré lista.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Because the night belongs to lovers...

I have always loved the night, to just sit outside and ponder while the serious world is asleep and the restless take over. Sipping on sencha, watching lightnings, listening to the nightly sounds and feeling the chilly breeze caressing my legs. The last metro hurrying past and a plane taking off for a far-away destination.
The picture shows what the view would be like if the whole world wouldn't be covered in darkness right now.


Yesterday was so wonderful and relaxing, and today I feel like a new person! Sometimes the best cure is a good friend, four plates of food and a jar of sangria.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Crap day this far

Geez. I probably should put my head in the bushes and stay there until tomorrow or until the big grey cloud above my head has moved on to harass someone else. When I woke up, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. During our little walk I thought I would collapse on the street from exhaustion. Then a little bit of crying. Apathy. When I finally decided to do some exercise, I was interrupted so I just started crying a little bit more and now I'm sitting in the sofa, trying to decide whether I'm feeling hot or cold.

I don't feel like going out tonight, if I could decide, I'd stay home with my boyfriend, cuddle and eat Ben and Jerry's. But maybe, just maybe, it will be one of those nights that turn out great with great company, good conversations, tasty food and a couple of drinks.

Slavic Thinkers

Josette Baer's book Slavic Thinkers or The Creation of Polities is a good comparative study of six 19th century philosophers/politicians who were active in CEE. They all had very differing views on nationhood, history, region etc. and Baer is attempting to use these opinions in order to explain why the countries in question (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Macedonia*, Croatia and Serbia) have followed such different paths after the break-ups of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia respctively, despite a common communist past.
Furthemore, the books gives some useful information on the relations in the Balkans, as well as the internal relationships of the Austro-Hungarian empire to those who slept through history class.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the CEE-countries in particular, and in democratisation processes in general.

Women really aren´t that complicated...

... if she says that she is cold or her neck hurts, it really means that she wants a hug or a massage, and it should be obvious to every human being. Why? Well, women are quite good at taking paijavascript:void(0)n and other physical nuisances (does child birth or horrible period pains ring a bell to anyone?), so if we complain, it logically means that we want our feelings to be acknowledged. Furthermore, pure logic dictates that your second half wants what's best for you. If you know the other person is suffering (even if it's from a non-existent draught), why would you not want to make her feel better? The reason women do not ask for the massage/hug/whatever in the first place is that she does not want to seem horrible and demanding.

... never criticise her looks. Ever. Most women are highly cricial of themselves, and they are aware of every flaw of their body. If you think she's a bit chubby, she probably considers herself an elephant and suffers accordingly. Instead you should support her and give her compliments, especially about the body parts she is least happy about.

... do not look at or talk about other women when your girlfriend/wife is around. Whereas most women do acknowledge that the world is full of gorgeous ladies and that men have a tendency to let their eyes wander, they would like to tell themselves that they are perfect in their boyfriend's eyes (and this is a bit difficult to believe if your boyfriend keeps checking out stunning blondes that are about two metres tall and who have been improved the unnatural way). There is also a difference between, say a hollywood starlet and the neighbour; we can all safely agree that film stars are very pretty, but the neighbour is just too close to your doorstep, she just is, exists.

... remember her favourites: cook her favourite food, rent her favourite film, get her favourite flowers. You get the point, show her that you really know her.

... a kiss and a hug cures grumpiness. Women usually need more closeness than men (we are talking about cuddles now, not sex), when she feels comfortable and loved, she will also be happier.

... remember, her hormones might have a life of their own. Let her rage, and accept her apologies afterwards.

... last but not least - according to social norms your average woman should be pretty; friendly; funny; stunning; like sex but not be a slut; not be to straighforward because girls are not supposed to be cocky; happy; smart but not too intelligent; have a great career; make babies before turning 30; keep the house clean; stay fit by exercising constantly; have a great sense of style; renew her wardrobe twice a year; know how to wear high heels; go to the hairdresser every six weeks; remember people's birthdays; know how to cook; be in a relationship (or there is something wrong with you); take care of herself, her friends and her family; travel the world; avoid credit card debts; stay far way from physical imperfections; know a lot of jokes; be cool; stay super healthy and so the list goes on...

And at the end of the day, she probably just wants to be with someone who accepts her the way she is and will give her a hug when she needs it.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Yey, one more hour and I'm off for my summer holiday.  There is so much to look forward to; tonight I'm looking forward to cuddle with both my boyfriend and the dog, maybe watch a film and eat some popcorn, tomorrow the hairdresser will give me a nice head massage. Maybe there will time over for arguing with the lady at the bank. On Saturday I'll be going out with a friend who's come down from Madrid. On Sunday we are having lunch with my boyfriend's mum and on Monday I will put the music on and clean our house. Tuesday is reserved for last-minute panicking.


I can already tick off a couple of things from the list of things to do that I wrote the other day:  one of my borthers has his gift ready, we found some wine in the cupboard "by accident" and the plane ticket is printed. And I've been studying a bit, although it's more like revising the things we learnt at uni (the things we swore to forget the day after sitting the exam… err…)  




In the spirit of lists, I will begin with a summary of all the physical activity I have done this far this week:


Monday:     70 min walking (to work and back)

            10 min skipping as warm-up (it's been a while now so it was fairly exhausting)

            30 min legs and core (pilates)


Tuesday:    70 min walking (to work and back) + a little walk in the evening


Wednesday:  70 min walking (to work and back)

            30 min pilates on the ball (core) - not the most effective work-out as it was quite impossible to stay                 concentrated.


Thursday    70 min walking (to work and back)




Wednesday, 5 August 2009

random post about work

Seems that I'm not the only person who is a short step away from holidays: this morning three different Catalan customers have phoned half hysterically demanding help because they will be closed next week. (the fact that they are Catalan isn't really related to anything). Hence I have had to go through the experience of speaking to a funny French person on the phone: our e-mail communication is always in English, but he insists on speaking Spanish on the phone, but I am quite sure he didn't understand half of what I was saying in my ahundredmilesanhourSpanishwithoutsubjunctivesandnotimeforbreathing.



Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Testing testing: geography skills

Which of these geographical areas is the odd one, the one that does not belong?

Finland (FI)48
Spain (ES)26
United States (US)6
Denmark (DK)2
United Kingdom (GB)2
Aland Islands (AX)1
Sweden (SE)1
Slovakia (SK)1
Canada (CA)1
Slovenia (SI)1
Peru (PE)1
Poland (PL)1

Lists of things to do

First things first, before getting on the plane next Wednesday at 7.00 pm, these things should have been crossed off the list.


* Go for dinner with some friends on Saturday - because meeting friends is always very much fun

* Go to hairdresser on Friday - it's an emergency

* Pack - need to bring some clean socks

* Gift hunting - to show people that they are worth it

* Print ticket - to get through check-in

* Print the "reading" for trip - to avid boredom and to extend the intellect

* Buy Valencian wine (how and where is still a mystery) and ham. Possibly also olive oil and paella rice.  - because it tastes good.

*Clean house - it's always nicer to come back to a tidy place.

* Get music for mp3 - entertainment

* Make a CD with Spanish music - promised someone

* Go to Druni for various things - because I'm a girl?

* Write several letters  - i'm soo behind with this

* Study a module or two - better to do it now than later



Things to do in Finland


* Meet friends for a gossip marathon - haven't seen them for YEARS!

* Party (Saturday) - family, friends and lots of good food.

* Massage (Tuesday) - heavenly + quailty time with my mum

* Lahti (Wed-Thu) - more relatives and ski-jumper-spotting.

* Spa with grandma - the jacuzzi is quite cool and swimming is fun!

* Study - need to get as much done as possible before September when the craziness begins.

* Shopping: 2nd hand, tea, dry bread, pages for filofax, facial products, magazines, books, underwear - because it´s so much better there than here

* Send books in the post, esp. the Russian ones + Hungarian dictionary - because they are collecting dust under my brother's bed.

* Cuddle with cats - the most cuddleable cats in the world.

* Study again - see above.

* Take advantage of the cooler weather and go running - because it's healthy.

* Look for "Män som hatar kvinnor" ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", "Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres") on dvd. - because original versions are always better than dubbed ones.



And things to do just in general but asap.


*Sort out studies + course lit.  



And now back to work… although the builders singing along to Fito are quite distracting!

Basic translation tools

Google Translator: good or not? I have come across some very clever translations on the internet: some companies have obviously copied the texts from their webpages, pasted them into google translator and then happily left it as it is. Is this tool provided by Google a good option then? Let´s check it out, using two very different languages.


Sentence in English: my name is zsuzsi and right now I'm planning what to do during my holiday in Finland.


Google Finnish: nimeni on zsuzsi ja olen nyt suunnittelu, mitä tehdä, minun loma Suomessa (my name is zsuzsi and I am now a planning, what to do, my holiday in Finland)

Correct version: nimeni on Zsuzsi ja tällä hetkellä suunnittelen mitä aion tehdä lomani aikana/lomallani Suomessa

Comments: the google translation is not very bad, but it clearly isn't fluent Finnish. Firstly, in this context the word planning is a normal verb, suunnittelu in Finnish is a noun, the verb is suunnitella (I plan -> minä suunnittelen). The word during has been completely left out, and the word "loma" (=holiday) lacks the ending -ni (lomani = my holiday) which would come naturally to a Finnish speaker, albeit it isn't necessary. This ending denotes that it is "my holiday". and the word my -> minun could be left out. Besides, with the word "during" (aikana) the word "loma" would change anyway -> minun loman(i) aikana. Furthermore, in order to simplify life and reduce the number of words, the adessive case could also be used: "lomallani" -> on my holiday, during my holiday.


Google Swedish: Mitt namn är zsuzsi och nu Jag planerar vad de ska göra under min semester i Finland  (my name is zsuzsi and now I plan what they are going to do during my holiday in Finland)

Correct swedish: mitt namn är zsuzsi och just nu planerar jag vad jag ska göra under min semester i Finland.

Comments: all the words except one have been translated correctly, but the word order is completely wrong. In certain cases, Swedish (unlike English) adheres to verb+subject, instead of the other way around. The word "de" means "they", not "I".


Conclusion: it all depends on the language. Google tends to get the words right, so if the language pair consists of two languages that are very similar, there should be no problem. As soon as there are some gramamtical twists, the translation loses much of its worth. I would therefore only recommend this tool to people who know both languages so that they can correct any errors.


Exercise yesterday and this morning


skipping rope: 10 minutes

legs + core: 30 minutes


This morning:

walking: 30 minutes


Later today if everything goes according to plan:

walking: 30-40 minutes

skipping rope (?): 10 minutes

pilates: 40 minutes