Monday, May 09, 2011

The past month

Finally, an update. About time. Some glimpses:

A sunday in April:

"Yesterday was a good day,
of wandering on sun-kissed city streets,
a man bicycling by, whistling a merry tune,
sun-warmed asphalt and stone walls radiating heat"

A sunday in May, very much similar as above but warmer still, about +20 C and blazing sun. Also a contrasting mood:

"In the metro, a sad sight on this brilliant day - yet, tragically, not an unusual one: two alcoholics, a man and a woman, their features degraded by years (decades?) of alcohol abuse so that they look almost identical, as if they were twins. Ages: impossible to guess. The woman drones on and on about a horse - I get the vague idea that it may be a childhood memory - her words intercepted with frequent expletives."

Quite enjoyable recent developments: my brother and sister-in-law encouraged me to join the list of assistant writers for the University of Helsinki magazine. The people in this list can sign up for journalistic "gigs" - go listen to a seminar or whatever the task might be and write a short news item (of c. 1500 characters) for the magazine. I had my first gig a week ago and enjoyed the experience a lot. My brother gave me a frank review, and it was fun to learn the difference between academic writing and the style of writing required in a publication which popularized science. I've got the next gig this coming week already. Very much looking forward to it! Not only is this enjoyable but it also gives CV merits in freelance writing which I aspire to have. 

Starting from next week I'm going to be otherwise busy, however, as I'm beginning the summer university computer science studies which I plan to complete by the end of this summer.

More upsetting news in the country: the rightwing, "immigration-critical" (that's what they call themselves) populist party PS (True Finns) became the third largest party in April's parliamentary elections, with 19% of the votes. This means they will definitely get in the government. Worst of all, their worst racist was appointed head of the parliamentary committee in charge of immigration issues. This guy has opinions like: an individual's human value should depend on how instrumental he/she is to the society. That's practically fascism. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the news. The only good side in this situation is that the PS don't really have a consistent programme: very typically for populist parties they just promise whatever people want to hear. It's easy to shout out things in the opposition but being in the government is a much more difficult deal.

Ok, a part of the fault lies in the traditional parties' failure to deliver, but I still can't believe 19% of Finns are moronic enough to vote for PS. Not EVERYONE of the party's representatives is a raving racist but a great percentage of the supporters definitely is. And it's another thing I can't believe: why is it so easy to get people to blame the easy targets for their problems? Unemployment? Temp jobs? Economic uncertainty? It MUST be the fault of all those immigrants who come here and steal our jobs!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Some personal success

Oops, and a full month has passed since I last blogged. I've had a lot to do lately and not really anything to blog about. I received some very exciting news the other day however: a new photo sale through the photo bureau - but this time to a Finnish monthly magazine with over 700 000 readers and over 230 000 subscribers. Good as that sounded, I thought it would probably be a small picture not very prominently displayed. Of course I made my way to the closest news stand and had quite a surprise: page 7, FULL page, AND my name clearly displayed! Here is a scan of the page:

The title is 'dizzying sun!' and it's all about the spring sun and light, so I very much like the context where my picture appears. You might even say that the picture is the main thing in the piece, because there's only one other page with comments by four people about the spring.

This is really good news, not only because it's a big magazine but also because it's only one of many in the roster of a big publishing house. Since my name and the photo bureau address are printed in the picture, I'm hoping it will be effective as an advertisment for my work.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New resolve

It's a very long time indeed since I've last updated my blog, but in the meantime I have found new resolve an inspiration: I have decided to go back to studying, Computer Science. I will start with the 25 study points base studies at the open university during the summer. These include the basics of Computer Science, basics of programming and databases and a practice work which involves creating a small piece of software and documenting the process. This will mean at least 40 hours/week - and they actually warn against doing all of it in one summer - but I think it's doable because I am both bright and have good concentration skills. This, with good enough grades, will enable me to apply for a decree at the uni without taking the entrance exam if that seems the right path. I am going to discuss with the Computer Science department study counsellor about the different options. An option might also be self-acquired skills rooted in the base studies, as the computer stuff is about doing rather than theory. We'll see.

Computer Science is something I'm really interested in, as I am a self-confessed computer geek and proud of it. This month, I'm taking part in the employment office's training for doctors (job-finding strategies etc) and today was the first day (two more days in March). Today already gave me lots to think about. The big thing was: they emphasized the importance of concentrating on a main focus and working for it determinedly. So, while I had the Computer Science idea before, this strengthened my resolve. During the day, I also thought about WHAT specifically I am interested in with computers. These include:

-Web and other IT solutions in historical research (e.g. databases).

-Web and other IT solutions for teaching history, the sort that make history interesting and fun for kids, kids like my elder nephew who think history is just a load of stories someone invented about things that happened a long time ago.

-Website stuff/publishing involving photography and writing.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sense of Snow

Here, a few snow pictures from one of the sunny days we've had recently here.

And here, a little video from sunday:

It's funny how the sun at this time of the year always seems so miraculous, like a rebirth even, even though I logically know that days like this do come every year, eventually.

Nothing new to report on the job front, although I was informed today that the employment office is going to arrange in March a three-day course for their customers who have PhD, on the demands of modern work life, employment strategies and such. It's going to involve not only information but home assignments, group discussions and exercises etc. which all sound useful, so I signed up. Hopefully it will meet the expectations. Otherwise pretty much as before: writing work, photography, T.S. Eliot. Quite many movies too, all not at all incidentally featuring one Mr. Firth. His latest, King's Speech, is a stunning film, not only because of his performance but all the other roles, cinematography and all aspects. One thing I didn't expect was how much humour it has. I was expecting a very straight, even a tragical drama. Firth's previous film, A Single Man by Tom Ford made an equal impression on me. I had missed it originally when it was in theaters but saw it now. Such an acting performance in this one as well. To understand this one need only to see the scene where George receives a phone call that his lover of 16 years has died in a car accident.