Thursday, October 30, 2008

Synchronized Debating - both candidates seem to be pro-recycling

So, they have their stump speeches and favourite verses that they keep recycling... Very funny. I have to say, I'm a bit mixed up with these elections, I'm watching the 7th season of West Wing at the same time as these real election news, and not sure whether it's Obama vs. Vinick or Santos vs. McCain or what? :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Marathon de Paris

I'm not sure if this was a good idea. However, sometimes the act first, ask questions later -strategy is the best one. So I signed up for the Paris marathon. It's in April, so there's plenty of time to get in shape - weather permitting. I think that (in addition to time limitations due to work etc.) the biggest obstacle is that the winter can be a difficult time for running practice. If the winter is good, there's skiing which is as good if not better than running, but if it is just wet and cold (like last year) it will be hard to get all the necessary training done.

Anyway, the idea of running through the centre of Paris, from Champs-Élysées through Jardin des Tuileries, La Louvre, a loop in Bois de Vincennes, then back on the bank of the Seine, by the Eiffel tower, to a final loop in the Bois de Boulogne captured my imagination. With Paris being one of my favourite cities, a city where I've always felt at home, seems like a good place to start running marathons.

Monday, October 13, 2008


First of all, congratulations to president Ahtisaari for the well-deserved Nobel peace prize. The list of his successes is long and impressive, ranging from Namibia to Kosovo and Aceh. The one aspect of his work that epitomises his qualities as a statesman is the work he has done in building the international infrastructure for crisis management and resolution. In this work he has provided many young people the chance to learn international cooperation at a top level.

Then, from the Italian to the English pace. I'm slow. Way too slow. Lately, everything has taken me ages. To write an email, to decide which article to use as course reading, to formulate the essay question... It's all process writing for me, even a simple note. Writing involves pauses, drafts, redrafts and leaving the work for a while, then coming back with fresh thoughts (ha!). And anything, even when done in a focused fashion takes a lot of time, just like the poster I just finished which took literally all night to put together. Looking at the finished product, I really can't say where all that time went. It's not that special, au contraire.

Every book has its own pace. I think I've written about that before. Thrillers, the Grisham or Clancy -type of affair needs to be read quickly, you get physically pumped up not just from the unrelenting pace of events, but also the speed at which you race through the plot, your mind's eye rushed along on a dolly from fight scene to the car chase. Then others slow down time, and slow down your reading speed as well. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a good example of this genre of books.

At the moment, something slows down my writing all the time. It's like wading in a pool of jelly and is very annoying because I have a lot to do and so work keeps accumulating faster than I clear it from my desk. Hmm. Maybe it's the long distance running, my resting heart rate is now slower than it was a few months ago? Not enough/too much caffeine/sleep/chocolate? Or perhaps it's the autumn, cold weather and growing darkness? Perhaps it's just laziness or lack of focus. I don't know, but it's annoying, as it's not even good and proper procrastination, just everything happening in slow motion.

I need to wake up.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Here's how to make a valve or a vacuum tube. Very hypnotic. These valves can be used as electronic amplifiers and do the same thing as transistors nowadays. But way, way cooler.