May 29, 2006

19.5.2006 AY67 HEL-HKG

No, I'm sorry, this is not a long and exciting travel account with pictures and stories from the trip - if you're looking for that, visit Martin's blog. As you might expect, this is one of those love it or hate it -entries which flying enthusiasts all around the world will find fascinating. Others will probably be bored, but here goes!
Comparing pictures I took from the airplane with satellite images from Google Earth, I was able to make some quite mind-boggling picture comparisons. I hope you enjoy them.

The Russian city of Chelyabinsk close to the border with Kazakhstan.

Macau's airport (on the very right, the runway is in the middle of the sea).

Islands on the South China Sea.

Just before landing in Hong Kong.

May 17, 2006

One of the most ugly buildings in Helsinki... ?

Behold the towering inferno next to Vuosaari metro station. What's with the huge numbers on the floors?

Blast to the past, part two

While working today in the theory class of Meritulli while my students were tortuously going through their exams, which I managed to quickly compile, cut, glue and copy just before I had to start, I started going through some archives in the cupboards. I realised that all the theory exams from back to 1992 had been stowed in boxes and arranged in the cupboards, and this got me excited.

It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for. Instantly I was transported back to early 1994, when I was sitting in that very same classroom filling out the theory exam, which, I realised, was somewhat longer than the ones I usually make for my students. Attached to the exam was a form which the teachers filled out after hearing my singing and it was kind of freaky to read what they had written. First of all my nine-year old self had a "clean but frail voice" (18 points out of 20), and I got full points for rhytmical and melodic accuracy, while "musical wholeness (musiikillinen koknaisuus)" only merited 4 points out of 5.

I had forgotten we were also tested on correct and healthy ways of singing - there was a list of sentences which we had to mark as either correct or wrong (Example for right: Always keep your chin relaxed while singing - example for wrong: On high notes, lift your head up". Here, I made some mistakes - the most embarassing one for me now probably is the sentence "Only listen to your own voice when singing", which I marked as correct....

Moving on, it seems my I-fall-onto-the-underground-tracks-and-the-train-starts-chasing-me-in-the-tunnel nightmares are being replaced by a new theme - sinking ships. They recur very regularly in my dreams now, two days ago I was on Silja Line and it suddenly turned bottoms up, and last night Viking Line started sinking, and it was weird because all passengers knew about it already, like it had been part of the cruise program. Somehow I much prefer the comfort of a nightmare I already know and don't feel so afraid of anymore to this slightly more unsettling theme.

I'm sorry my entries look so boring nowadays - no good pictures lately.

May 12, 2006

Blast from the Past

Today in the music room of the Helsinki Cathedral's parish quarters in Meritulli, where I've been going to continuously since 1993 - it's also the headquarters of Cantores Minores - I stumbled upon some papers which were strown on top of an ancient harpsichord in a messy corner. Absent-mindedly, I picked up the topmost paper and realised it was a list someone had compiled of the choir's second sopranos who were present at a rehearsal.

My very first thought was that somebody has been really careless, just using a piece of sheet music to scribble a list of names on the back and then losing the paper. Then I had a look at the date: 7.12.1995. When I took a better look at the messy scribbles I suddenly realised the handwriting was hauntingly familiar.

An image suddenly flashed in my mind of a certain choir rehearsal ages ago, when the prefect of the second sopranos was sick and asked me to write down the names of the people present, and when I realised I was staring at that very same list, I almost laughed out loud. That piece of paper has been lying on top of the harpsichord for ten and a half years, almost as if it was waiting for me to pick it up and blast me back to when I was eleven years old and still wrote everything in block letters. Needless to say, I took the paper with me.

Today I rode on the back of a bike for the first time ever (at least according to my memory) when Jarno and I sped from Meritulli to Temppeliaukion kirkko through downtown to listen to a concert of the Helsinki Chamber Choir (previously known as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, before the radio decided nobody is interested in choral music anyway). The concert was an exciting experience (music by twentieth-century Finnish-Swedish composers), but not as exciting as the ride on the back of the bike.

May 11, 2006

Streak of self-irony*

I've been lazy to write any new posts in a while. It's funny how sometimes I write the longest and most interesting (at least they're interesting for me) posts when I actually should be doing a thousand other things, but when I've got time on my hands I tend to disappear from this blog.

Which isn't to say that I'm not busy at the moment - the past two days were relaxed enough, but today was like a real kick in the butt, probably one of the worst days this month so far. It's hard to pick the lowest lowlight with so many candidates - feeling completely pissed off without really knowing the reason, spending one and a half hours trying to keep a group of hyperactive boys quiet, playing at a concert where the number of people listening who are not performers (or mothers of the performers) is ONE - - then of course we always have missing a singing lesson or standing at a deserted bus stop in the middle of nowhere for twenty minutes at around nine pm. I just don't know how all these things seem to get crammed into one day all at once, but on the other hand I suppose I can now expect clear sailing for at least the weekend.

One of the most uplifting moments today was listening to a young woman in the bus almost yelling at someone on the phone about her stolen bicycle. She kept repeating she just couldn't possibly get through the summer without a bike and she needed it now. I don't know why such things amuse me so much. Is it just that I feel happy that someone else is having a really shitty day or am I just laughing at someone whose personal dramas seem so ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, of course having a bike stolen is horrible - I just mean that, ultimately, we're all just stuck with our own problems and it's sometimes so refreshing to eavesdrop on someone else's phone conversation about doomed summers and calling the police.

I'm really not making any sense now. I just read in Lonely Planet's newest Finland guide that Finns have a good sense of self-irony (Chapter: The national psyche), and first I thought this was a funny way of putting it, but it's actually true. I won't elaborate, but maybe someone will know what I'm talking about. One of my favourite sentences was also "it's perfectly normal for best friends to sit in a sauna for twenty minutes without saying a thing to each other" - and I really know I have something Finnish in me when I think: "of course that's perfectly normal".

Good night, Finland - and the rest of the world.

*alternative headline: Crape diem

May 02, 2006

Some languages to learn...

for being able to communicate with locals in at least 20 countries, most of whom are the friendliest people in the world. Because it's the mother tongue of 25% of my ancestors.

because one feels uncultured if one doesn't speak any French. For understanding Jacques Brel's songs without having to consult 97 dictionaries.

because three years ago I taught myself how to read and write script and it was immense fun. I'd like to brush up on the alphabet and then learn how to say some things.