Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cops and Idiots

So, I made my first ever call to emergency services yesterday.

I was watching TV in the evening (quite late), when I heard someone yell "Help, police" from the park outside. The park is a venue for teenager get-togethers and there's quite a lot of noise there especially in weekend evenings. Yesterday as well, it was a warm night and there was a group of people drumming etc. (damn hippies, Cartman would say). When the guy yelled "Help, police" again, this time at the top of his voice, I went to the window and tried to figure out what's going on. There were about half a dozen kids, clearly drunk, and it was very hard to tell what they were doing, they were sort of circling each other as if they were about to start a fight or something, I couldn't tell if they were 5 against 1 or what. Anyway, I decided to call the police, although I thought it might have been just something yelled at a bout of drunken idiocy.

I tried to explain what was going on in the park to the dispatcher, admitted it was really difficult to see what exactly was happening but it didn't seem anyone was injured or in immediate danger. She said she'd ask a patrol to swing by. They came just under 10 minutes from the call, and the kids had already left the park. There was absolutely nobody there, I saw the police looking at the windows of our building, as if to see who had sent them there for nothing. They backed out of the park and left, for donuts or other dispatches, I don't know, but at that point I was really angry with the idiots in the park. Wasting everyone's time, worrying me and everyone else who heard their screams... Plus, of course we all know Aesop's story of the boy who cried wolf. I hate to admit it, but I'm afraid I might think twice next time someone screams for help and maybe waste valuable time trying to figure out if they really need help or if it is just horseplay.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blue wings, white lies...

I flew to Edinburgh and back via Amsterdam, and on both occasions the departures from Schiphol were slightly delayed. This didn't really matter, as the delays weren't that long, but the reasons for the delays and what was told to the passengers were funny.

The Amsterdam-Edinburgh flight was flown with a small "City Hopper" jet, and so we all took a bus from the gate to the field where the youngling planes were herded together. We boarded (amazingly slowly given the small size of the plane) the Fokker that had been prepared for us, and then nothing happened. Fok.

Eventually the captain announced that we are waiting for some external equipment to help us start our engines, and we'll be off when it arrives, shouldn't be more than 5-10 minutes. He apologised for the delay and possible inconvenience, in that official tone that indicates it's not his fault and that he is making this apology for other people who also think these things just happen and are not that big a deal, while I dug in the New Yorker I had bought from the airport. In it, Haruki Murakami, one of my favourite authors writes how he started to run daily, without fail, when he was in my age. He had just sold his successful jazz club, moved to countryside and decided to become a writer. I had packed my running shoes, and while I was contemplating whether Jyväskylä counts as countryside and if running a jazz club could be a metaphor for a PhD, a van approached the plane and screeched to a halt next to it.

The insignia on the sides said "KLM Catering" and "Last Minute Deliveries". The driver opened the fridge door on the side of the van, took out a blue cardboard box that looked like a business class meal and rushed it up the steps. The air hostess received the box, paid for it with her smile, the driver gave her some change in the same currency, jumped into his car and sped away to make another delivery of external equipment to help start other airplanes' engines. The hostess knocked on the cockpit door to tell we're good to go, the engines were started and we taxied towards the runway.

On the way back, we flew grown-up planes, and so instead of the bus trip around the unisightly sights at the bowels of Schiphol airport, we got to do the usual anxious queuing inside a metal tube. The crew had problems in starting engines, and needed external equipment to get them going. This time, though, this involved being pulled back to the gate, lots of engineers and ground staff buzzing around the plane and various hisses and wails from the hydraulics of the plane. After 4 days in Edinburgh, one morning run and a jazz club later, I was reading reports of the latest cricket matches and eager to get home and back to writing.

(Pic: KLM MP3 player by
Shanghai Shininess Industrial Co. Ltd)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back in Edinburgh

I'm in a student bar in Edinburgh, watching a football match and having a beer. It's all good.

I'm very excited to be back here. There are two (maybe three) cities that I somehow always feel at home in. Paris, Edinburgh and Helsinki. I really loved living in Cambridge, I really like it in Jyväskylä, growing up in Kuopio wasn't bad, and London is somehow at the same time terrifying, awful, and enchanting and absolutely wonderful. I like the wibes in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Don't like Rome or Brussels at all.

But, Edinburgh I like. And here I am again. And will keep coming back with every tiny excuse I get. This time I'm here for a good reason, there's a fascinating conference. Scientists, therapists, b-girls and b-boys... Really. What else could you need? :)

I'm also excited at the moment, because my college has done amazingly well in Bumps today. May Bumps are the main event of Cambridge college rowing, and my old club has shattered all previous club records today and really done everyone proud.