Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy holidays!!

Progression of a holiday card from a departmentstore photo through quick photomanip to what I sent out to people.

This year's holiday cards

Have a good one! Be safe! Watch out for drunk Santas driving around in convertibles!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012

That video-thing and blogging

So I started this video.. thingy. Series. I suppose that's a fair description.
There's a vague idea I have of where it's going though it's just going to develop and unfold in it's own sweet time. If you've seen the Truman Show or Le Quattro Volte, then you know what sort of a thing I'm going for.  It's basically a video blog. Vlog, I'm told some kids say. Just... life, as it is. I'm just having fun with this ability to record video. I'll be uploading these for the next year (2013) on Tuesdays and Saturdays unles I not be near a computer when there's need for editing and uploading.



Out of these two though, I have to say I'm not entirely happy with #2, but there ya go. I set a schedule and that was the material I had, so... lesson learned; always do a little extra work.



On the rest of the blogging thing: I'm trying to get a list of topics together that I'll be writing about on here. 30 or so items. That would be something I'll post weekly, something more generally useful that requires a wee bit of research on my part and not just a butt load of rage-enduced opinions. That would be the written blog part for 2013: about one generally helpful post per week. Possibly other, less helpful posts around those. Next year's just going to be a tiny bit busy as far as I can tell, so I'm tying to not schedule myself into knot before it's even started. These video things don't really take that much time though.. but still. Someone stop me before I get too much ahead of myself.
So yeah, what with the book projects and studying and studying some more for exams and probably working for The Man a bit to pay for traveling.. I'd say it's looking kind of busy.
Now excuse me while I lazy a bit for tomorrow, because I got applications to send off on Monday. :) Edit: I've heard it said that people who make videos on YouTube are either bored or lonely. If you watched the two videos I posted there, you might make some guesses if that is an accurate assumption. XD

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Breaking new ground



I made a video.



Yes, it's basically a training video to learn how to use some of these editing tools and the video capture tool of mine (phone).

So here's why this is here taking up your time and space: I'm curious about video as a format for creating in general and have been wanting to try it out for a long while now. The only obstacle has been that my Nikon D60 isn't really capable of recording moving image but only making stop motion animation and stop motion animation is a big (nay, huge!) undertaking. My old phone was pretty hopeless with recording anything because, let's face it, it was a phone.
I've switched phones. I'm trying out some sort of "vlogging" thing (which just shows you just how damn hip and with it I am with what the kids are doing these days) with showing some documentary-style snippets of Finland. Or where ever it is I happen to be. It'll be brief, calm blotches of video about nothing in particular. Just breathing, basically.
Not like the video I just made and posted for you to endure.
Not sure how I'd feel about a talking part in them, but I suppose that's a bridge to be crossed when we get there.

I got 2013 pretty much planned out, but I'll get to it when we're closer to the End Of The Year.
I can tell you that it's going to be very busy and there'll be a whole butt load of all kinds of content. Including actually useful stuff on this blog. But that's all a subject of a different blog.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Practical tips for happiness



I realise this sort of a list or a post might come off as disingenuos coming from me, that is coming from someone who has spent the better part of this year in turn hiding under my foldable bunk bed or writing out letters filled with brimstone and every last drop of teendaged insecurity to absolutely no one and then maybe possibly told everyone who'd listen that I don't much care for living in this country. But I present to you that despite and because of all of that and still being alive/having friends/very much looking forward to everything that happens next I'm JUST the person to be writing this sort of a list.
Because I have been profoundly unhappy. Even more so than what comes with the perpetual dark and cold. And because in the past year I have not been unhappy but annoyed and occasioanlly scared and a lot of the time very much aware that I am exactly where I need to be right now and exactly where my actions have taken me. And that's cool, bro.

So, a couple of a practical tips for everyday happiness that are proven to work, on me, 100% of the time.

1. Exercise. Every few hours (particularly if you're doing something sedentary), do a few lunges or leg lifts or best of all, put on a good song and shake what you got like nobody's business.
Because it is nobody's business but yours. And you're awesome and so is what you got.
On a scietific level: this will increase blood flow to everywhere including your brain and your mind will keep sharper. Brain likes exercising. And it likes being challenged in different ways.

2. Eat well. Not "eat chips/burgers/ice cream/chocolate because that shit tastes good and oh my good I feel awesome afterwards". No. Eat well. Eat loads of foods. Eat things you made yourself. From scratch. Go to a proper restaurant with table cloths made of cloth and not plastic or a cafe with sandwiches that don't come out of plastic wrappers and protective gasses. You can have a cookie after you eat your soup/stew/risotto/that-thing-they-call-food.
On a scietific level: your body needs food. Your brain needs food. Not just all the nutrients in actual food, but the look and taste and experience of having a proper meal. You know those foodie pictures people lust after online? Like this one:
(picture found online at Creative Loafing)


There's a reason why you think it looks good enough to eat. Because it is. And more than likely, if you're reading this, it's not out of your budget to make something like that for yourself. If you're feeling crap, there's a good chance that you're not eating well and getting both enough energy to keep your body functioning and enough nutrients to keep it functioning well. Feeding yourself well is part of being a grown up.

3. Sleep well. Another thing that's part of being an adult and knowing that you and your body are the same creature that needs to take care of itself to be happy and do the stuff it wants to. Your body needs rest.
On a scientific level: there is such a thing as DSPD (Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder). What this means is that a person is not able to fall soundly asleep and experience deep sleep in the same pattern as "normal" people. Often times "sufferers" fall asleep between 1-5am and sleep past noon. I'm using a lot of quotes there. The thing is that our western capitalist/consumerist world is built to accomodate people resting in your regular 9-12pm to 6-7am patterns. This is how everything is timed. If you're resting outside of that pattern, no matter how rested you yourself feel, the rest of the world will not wait for you and you will miss out of a lot of the things going on while you sleep. HOWEVER, most of the western world is becoming increasingly 24/7 with factories and entertainment running at all hours of the day. This will undoubtedly increase the amount of people experiencing DSPD (along with increased use of internet which is basically another world running 24/7 already and the very very high use of energy drinks/similar) and it does make it worth a ponder if the anxiety and depression DSPD-"sufferers" experience is due to metabolical changes caused by the changed sleep patterns or due to the societal demands and blame heaped on them.
Regardles. However you do it, do it well. Sleep well. Sleep enough. You need to recharge and process. Don't over do it.

4. Go out. Even if it's raining pitch forks and frozen peas. Go out.
On a scientific level: it's a light version of this. On a non-scietific level: it's where all the stuff really happens.

5. Spend as much time as you can with friends. The ones that listen to you and who you in turn listen to. If you find yourself failing on either one of those points, then it's not the sort of friendship you should be cherishing. Hug them. Hugs are good for keeping warm on the outside and inside.
On a scietifinc level: Friends are like pets, only better because more often than not, you're not responcible for housetraining them, cleaning their vomit off everything, feeding them or putting them to sleep after having known them for 15 years. Hugging is known to reduce anxiety, strengthen bonds of belonging to a group and fight depression.. all of which are pretty much parts of the same big mass of being healthy inside your head.

6. Write it out. Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time, people have thoughts and things going on inside their heads. Things you don't understand, things that scare you, things that confuse you. Negative things. Sometimes those things are like a sweater with static electricity and they attract other crap to form a Crappy Dust Ball Of Doom and then you're in trouble because you're carrying around all this useless crap that attracts other useless crap and it makes you look like crap and feel like crap and it just not good for anything at all. And even if your friends might volunteer to get some of that off you, putting negativity out just means you heaped a bunch of your crap on someone else and made their day a tiny bit less awesome. So write it out. Write that shit out and write all the nasty words you want to use you'd never say to anyone to their face because when you have enough crap on your back, everything comes out disproportionate. Don't be horrified at how much anger or negativity there might be inside you. It's human to have emotions. It doesn't make you less of a good person to be angry. But negative crap attracts more negative crap and that's why it's important to not carry it around with you or throw it at other people. Put it in a letter and then burn that sucker. Also think carefully during every day communication. It's very easy to slip into being Judgy McJudgerson and spreading negativity without meaning to.
On a scietific level: I got nothing. It helps. And it definitely helps with putting your own emotions and reactions in perspective and not infecting other people with negativity they had no part in to begin with. When I find a study explainging just how this helps, I'll be sure to link to it. All of which bring me to...

7. Do difficult stuff you like. Why? Because the more you don't do the difficult stuff you'd want to be doing because there's this ideal You you have inside your head that does all kinds of stuff, the more annoyed you're going to get with yourself and your life. And the more annoyed you get with yourself and your life, the less you're going to enjoy it and the more you're going to enjoy other people being miserable (or, in other cases, the more you're going to be hating on other people seemingly enjoying their life because being preoccupied with their life makes it somehow ok for you to not think about your own life). Here's a secret: that difficult stuff you want to do? You can totally do it and it's not actually difficult once you learn it. Sure, you might not be the best ever at it, but people run marathons without feet and dogs drive cars and dolphins use tools, so whatever excuse you might have that relates to physically not being able to, is pretty much invalid. It's mostly a question of priorities. Is your life a priority to you. Is your happiness a priority. Is your health a priority to you. Yes, health. Healthy spirit, healthy body, the two are just facets of the same thing.
On a scietific level: neuroplasticity. Your brain is by far more adaptable and capable of learning throughout your life than people think. You CAN learn new things and you can learn to learn new things. Like enjoy learning.

And finally
8. Just say YES! If it's a choice between doing what you've always done and doing something you haven't (given that doing something you haven't doesn't get you/other people killed or seriously injured) always do the thing that you've never done before.
On a scietific level: see the bit about neuroplasticity. We're training the brain to be happy here. You wont know if you like something or not before you try it.

And that's all I got. 8 things that make you (me) happy.
I might not have much financial room to travel or be in another country right now, but I'm enjoying being in this moment. Every morning is a thousand new opportunities to change those bits that you don't like, accept the things you can't change and enjoy the bits you do. So you really can't lose.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Growing food where you live

The concept Dickson Despommier sets forth here is a really cool one:



BUT, and you knew there was going to be a but because IFs and BUTTs and such, there are a multitude of factors to consider in farming in this manner and in producing food in general. As the clip is just a few minutes long, I'm pretty sure Mr Despommier has taken into consideration most of these things and all that's left is making sure that when building these sorts of buildings, the usual shortcuts aren't taken. Which brings me to the first point: A structure that produces both food and electricity in a manner of a small microcosmos (narf) has to take into consideration the structural differences those areas require. Fish farming requires large areas of water that can't leak into the housing area or directly into drinking water or electrical wiring. In high risk earth quake areas? This would be an even larger factor.
Growing other types of farm/edible animals and hygiene in ventilation as well as breeding areas is a concern. Even if you're recycling the waste material inside the building, the recycling has to take into consideration the same sort of safety issues as the water tanks. Will the animals be slaughtered in-house or will livestock be limited to animals who produce edibles but are not so much eaten themselves? Again: recycling, hygiene, cross-contamination. I think it's safe to say at this point that this type of building will demand changes in building codes in a lot of places where the use of a space is strictly regulated.
Moving on to the plants. Again structural issues become the focal point. When building something like this, you absolutely cannot cut corners. With larger greenhouses indoors, humidity and molds in other floors need to be considered. Appropriate ventilation and water blocks and none of the type of building that's been on the rise in some places (not naming names) where a building is erected and needs to be thoroughly redone within a few years because of material deficiencies and unreasonable schedules during construction. Similarly with the power production. Alternative methods of using things like the heat animals/plants/people produce on their own should be explored.

And lastly, the most esoteric of issues: what will be the quality of the food produced by this small ecosystem? A lot has been said over the years about how our soil is getting depleted of nutrients due to intensive farming and the use of lab created chemicals over more natural methods of pest control and soil enhancement. Whether that is in any way true or not, I couldn't honestly say. There's data on all sides proving all kinds of things. However, you do have to question how well animals and plants would fare in a totally artificial environment. Well, besides fungi. Apparently they do splendidly pretty much anywhere. How sustainable and nutritious are crops farmed on a soil half a meter deep, devoid of elements, seasons and a natural source of sunlight?

Self-sufficiensy is or as near as, perhaps obviously, the way to evenly distribute the world's resources. The Problem has almost never been that there wouldn't be enough food to feed everyone, but that the food, like all resources, is unevenly distributed because of artificially created needs. Needs that are NOT food related. A simple We Should All Go Vegan is not going to resolve the fact that individual bodychemistry makes it impossible for some people to thrive on veganism, or the fact that there are a great number of areas in the world where plant food is simply not an option all year round. Would the world be able to house AND sustain enough farm land to house 7 billion people if we all went vegan and just lived  in the areas of the world where that's possible?

So, I guess we need to look at building stuff like this and consider the structures that support those needs that maintain the inequal distribution of wealth.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A most useless word

Gif by Nicolas Monterrat

"Can't" is the most useless word on it's own. Can't or cannot, they both convey the same: I will not and do not want to speak what is on my mind. I daren't admit to myself.
I dare not and will not tell you or anyone for fear of being less than perfect, for fear of other alternatives.

"Can't" on it's own is just a distraction. An illusion of certainty. A wall of our own design.
"Can't" is just a useless word, for useless fear, to deliberately bind.

When you "can't" you really could, but "can't" is such an easy word, so much easier to mouth and stomach than "I do not have the time right now" or "I do not want to". Shorter than "I do not know" and "I would have to learn" for sure. It saves you from admitting to your humanity.

Isn't that worth hanging on to?

I cannot hang on to things that are useless because I do not want to.

Now "want" on the other hand, is about as precise and clear as words come.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Facial recognition

I made a new avi/icon image to use around the net. This is how to recognize where I'm lurking or mouthing off online.


new look

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Day Off

Wishful thinking

As per previously stated: I'm making being offline for one day per week a thing. Wednesday is the day.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bee democracy

The bee "hive mind" turns out to be more like a very functioning form of democracy:



Now given all this, consider your last election (or the next one coming up); how many of the candidates will you go see in person? How many of them will you look into more closely to know what their opinions really are as opposed to what they might say in a public speaking engagement where the main focus is to be incredibly vague so as to not upset anyone. Or will you just form your opinion based on what this or that person heard someone might have tweeted at some point and man, that jacket does NOT look good on him/her and besides, their name sounds a bit like the name of someone that's a total buttnugget. Will you vote at all?

The bees do make a very compelling case for forming your own opinion and then making an interpetive dance out of it.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Why the night sky is dark

No edge. Just time.



There. Now you can explain this to your kids.

Doing things in short sentences

Feeding mah brain

There have been so many awesome things going on that updating anything has fallen by the wayside like a disoriented cyclist: my classes started. As you can see by the doodly doo on top, the brain does love a cup o' intellectual challenge. The classes provide. This has made it pretty clear that I'm going to be a scientist when I grow up. So there ya go.

Then I read a very interesting book on how the internet affects our brains and though I haven't read all the reference material (which I should), it has given me the impetus to do a few things: firstly I'll start linking to things not in the text, but after the text. This is to make things needlessly complicated for anyone reading. Actually, it's to allow whoever might read this to read in peace and let their brain relax into the process. Secondly, I'll be taking non-connected days. Haven't quite figured out which day of the week yet, but Wednesday or Thursday sounds like a good idea. I don't actually have to be logged on to anywhere these days, to post an update. This is why most sites provide "scheduled updates". It is nifty. I shall take advantage. This is to allow for my own brain to relax into reading and doing research for whatever I'm researching at the time. Or, like, go out. You know, into meat space.

I swear someone will create a social networking thing eventually and call it MeatSpace. "Tens of tables! In a single room! All new people! Come join us in MeatSpace!"

Thirdly, I'm sort of setting up a new blog here on Blogger, for reviews. It's still in pieces, so I'm not going to link to it before I get the thing going. If anyone is interested in seeing things from me more regularly, I suggest checking the Tumblr-blog. I'm trying to post there daily, or as close to that as I can manage. "But all that sounds like a whole lot of work and a lot of things to update!" you might say if you were either talking to me or talking to yourself while reading this. It sort of is and is not. Doodling doesn't take time. Doing an actual piece of work with recognizable people or backgrounds and colours and plot and things like that does take up more than a hour, but that's still not an overwhelming chore. The new blog.. well, if you look to the right side of this blog, you might notice that I've taken down one of the ads for my Zazzle stores. I went back and forth a long while with that and eventually came to the conclusion that there were more valid reasons for me to not keep up with the store I originally opened. It's still there, but I'm not going to be putting any effort into it. Haven't exactly decided if I might close it entirely, but for now, it'll just sit there on it's own. My time and energy are directed elsewhere. Hence some things get chucked out for not serving valuable purposes and other things are taken up.

Books. Books are taken up. Books are good. Also, being outside is good.

The shallows

This is a good book. Go read it now. The Queen of Everything commands thee. I think it's pretty cool too. :D

Tumblr blog: http://boogybunny.tumblr.com/

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Guilty of stereotyping?

All of us probably are at some point. But it's never too late to stop doing that.
Regardles of skin colour, religious convictions, family relations, gender, medical history, body shape, hobbies, home country... yup, we're all just people:


Monday, 3 September 2012

Family

traveling 2

My gran turned 85 this past Tuesday. Because it was Tuesday, there was no celebrating. Tuesdays are like that.
Instead we celebrated yesterday.

traveling 3

Family gatherings are by nature a mixed bag. You don't get to pick your family. You can divorce one and you can choose to not have anything to do with them, but going by pure biology, family members are the ones that are the least likely to eat you alive. Which is nice.
And in spite of all the differences in methods of communication between us (or lack of methods), there is a lot of love in my family. And I'll be forever grateful for that.

So Happy birthday, Grandma! Hope to see you again before you turn 90!


Oh, and the saunas and the nature were rawking. You don't get to wash your face in pure lake-water, sitting at the end of a pier too often. Quiet lake with a family of swans swimming around at the other side of the lake is definitely a good way to start the day.

traveling

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Where to put your money

Thank you, post office!

I'm not a huge fan of blindly donating money for any cause. Not because I don't think you should, but because there are a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of organizations of all different shapes and sizes for causes great and small which can make it downright confusing to both find information on how legitimate an organization is far as actually doing any charity and spending the money you give them AND because on occasion, the need to help overrides planning the means to help. That is, you would want to help, but you're not sure how and a bunch of other people also had that same want and lack of how, so they came up with a charity that sounded like it was addressing an issue, but instead ends up creating a situation where the help actually holds back improvement on the problem it's supposed to be helping with.
It happens. Mostly by accident.
And we're easily attracted by methods of helping that involve NOT donating our time directly. I'm not pointing any fingers but let's just say that there are a whole lot of companies that make a big profit out of selling pink consumer goods.

However, sometimes there are organizations that do benefit mostly out of people donating money to them AND wearing lil bracelets to make the cause more known. I got my lil bracelet in the mail today. I've felt unreasonably proud wearing it all day.
Why do I like This Star Wont Go Out foundation? Mostly because it acknowledges how connected we are on a different level to most any other organization I've come across. Our lives are not singularly our own. Our mere existence affects SO many other people on a daily basis without any particular effort and TSWGO foundation was created just for that. You can read more about the organization here and in case you want to donate by getting a bracelet yourself, you can get one here. 100% of the proceeds (minus shipping costs) go directly to the foundation.

And now that you're on a roll doing good with your moneys, you should also check out KIVA. I might have linked to them before, but I'll link here again because they're just the sort of thing that actually helps build a healthy infrastructure without neverending monetary dependency to "wealthy, donating countries". KIVA provides small businesses with community funded microloans. What that means is if you're a person in a poor country and you'd want to set up a business or expand on an existing on, you can apply for a loan through KIVA. The loans are always comparatively small. The loan application goes up on the KIVA website where you, the person who wants to support equal distribution of wealth across the globe, can contribute towards funding their loan. That is, you can lend them money. The operative word being "lend". 98% of all loans made to small businesses and individuals through KIVA are paid back in full. To find out more about KIVA and/or contribute, click here.

And now I have to get back to doodling. Amma write about the Helsinki Night of Arts later.
Oh and apparently we're going to have one more Restaurant Day this year. It might just turn out to be a very good year. :)

This thing is happening here right now. Acorns. Damn trees.

So this is happening

Monday, 20 August 2012

You break it, you will reuse it

I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but I kind of broke our electric kettle. Totally not a big deal in a household of 3 people who all exist on coffee/tea.
Ok, it was a slightly big deal.
But in my defence, the kettle did smell of burning rubber (or "hot fudge" depending on which one of us you're asking) before I actually "broke it" and I broke it trying to wash the insides clean.

I was not aware that the method of cleaning the insides of electric kettles these days involves not touching the inside. My bad.
So instead of just smelling like burnt crude oil products (or hot fudge), it stopped blinking lights and boiling water alltogether.
Today we put the ex-kettle to use.
Behold the Kettle-Vase!

Reuse


On an unrelated note, today was yet another Helsinki Restaurant Day: a public event sort of thing that anyone can participate in by setting up a booth/small shop on the street and selling food in it. This is at least the second time they've had this event this year. Maybe one more before the weather starts to suck wet testicles? I was instructed to go visit Mesa Criolla-tent for some Latin American foods. So I did.
And it was pretty awesome.

Boys serving goods.
restaurant day 3

Kidney beans!
Restaurant day 2

Plate of rice, veggies, chicken and beans. And some tamarind juice. Tamarinade?
Restaurant day

More of this sort of thing, me thinks.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cats and hipster lambs

I'm so hipster...

This is my toiletpaper. For real. This is my actual toiletpaper: it has an eyeware sporting hipster lamb on the package and bunch of "ironic" (or inspirational, I haven't yet wiped my behind with it, so I don't really know the full context) text written on the sheets.
I'm at a loss.

And obviously this stupidest marketing ploy of all time is incredibly effective, because I bought the damn toiletpaper.
Woe is me.

On a slightly unrelated note, I wanted to introduce a few hep cats from the shelter I've been volunteering at, to the world.
Afrodita:

Shelter cat

Eetu The Big Boned

Shelter cat 2

Kittens 1 through 5

Shelter kittens ^_^

Yes, the kittens are adorable. Unlike the 2 little geographically confused butthole ones I was working with today. They'd managed to unscrew a vent in the wall of their coop and take a dump in it.
How does one do that without opposable thumbs - the screwing, obviously not the dumping - is beyond me.
Pets rawk.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

But then I got distracted

Untitled

I didn't really. Frankly, dealing with the benefits office and their endless cycle of people-I've-never-talked-to-before-but-must-now-explain-my-situation-yet-again-because-nothing-is-moving-in-any-direction has sort of sapped me.
However, that's done now. I'm finally officially getting the benefits I should've been recieving for the past, oh... 5 months? Yeah. That didn't take long. So that's a load off my shoulders.
Alas, once one can of worms closes, another opens.
It's not nearly as bad as that sounds though.
The thing is that after having talked to my student counseling person (who is filled with awesome and a very lovely lady to boot) it seems that I can't study in the schedule I originally planned and I also can't take an open uni route to get a degree in this particular field because it happens to be one of the few degree programs where you can't do that.
I didn't know this. It's not information available in online resources.
What that means is that my original schedule for studying and moving is sort of kaput and I honestly don't know what sort of a schedule I can put together now. The absolute worst case here would be having to live in Finland for an extra year. As pitiful a consequence as that sounds, it might still be over my tolerance. Or it might not. We're pretty much into Autumn here right now and I'm having many mixed feels.
So the word of the day is "confusion".

There aren't many days when I didn't wish there was a button I could push to get to the point where things are happy and functional and stop being irritating and lame and filled with confusion.

On the upside, I do have some Captain America covers all sketched up, as you can see here, the bigger book project I'm setting up with my friend is moving along slowly and it's making me seriously consider if it wouldn't be best to set up my own publishing house to get what I need out of it, and I'm looking at options on how to get the smaller project published. Though to be honest, I haven't done nearly enough reading on any front. Not as far as research goes and not as far as maintaining my brain goes.
READ MORE BOOKS! TURN OFF THE INTERNET! THE INTERNET IS FILLED WITH LAMENESS!! I should know, I put it there.

Untitled

Oh, couple of things that are pretty awesome: my skin is very much liking switching to mineral products and I've been very busy hanging out with friends, who manage to prove every single time that I just have the best ones in the world. And we visited the Wintergarden. I've never been there. It was puuuurdy. And had this statue.

Saw this statue

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Captain America and feminine hygiene products

Kitties!

The Redraw Captain America Covers From 1996 project is on it's way and the first redraw is posted at that other blog. Not going to lie; I did run into bit of trouble with an idea I had for using classical paintings as reference simply on account of not being skilled enough and trying to draw with a broken mouse. Oh well... you hit a bump, you reroute. All of the covers I'll be redrawing can be seen here.
Yes, most of them are originally by Rob Liefeld. No, that's not a coincidence.

Besides that, this is what I found out today: you can purchase feminine hygiene products with green tea in them.

I don't even know

I don't even know.
Green tea is awesome, but I'm still thinking that I don't want to rub it on my privates all day long.  Maybe it's those magical rejuvinating properties? Your vagina can be as smooth as a baby's after just a month of regular use!
Ok, that's sort of ick.
I don't think I want to think about this any further.

Though I do have to say that the panic most female hygiene product manufacturers want to create over our vaginas and the things that happen to them and in them, is sort of endearingly entertaining.
Srsly, you don't need to rub green tea or vitamin E on your vag, it's not going to make it more magical or less bleedy. Not unles you have a fungal infection. And I'd really recommend using an actual medicine for those as opposed to menstrual pads. Just saying.

Moar kitties!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Illustration Friday - "lonely"

Illustration Friday - "lonely"

I really need to both actually learn to ink and to get that drawing tablet. Oy vey.
The monkey is ok, the rest of it not so much. :T

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Look, over there!

Cap without colours

I laid down some scheduling for my various projects, personal and otherwise and it turns out that I'm a) pretty good at keeping my own deadlines and b) just like everyone else in the world, less stressed out and irrationally annoyed when doing things I enjoy and achieving personal goals. Huzzah for personal goals!
Basically, the Captain America re-draws are going to be done by 13th of next month and posted in that other blog of mine. The one with the drawings. Yup. Because.. it's for drawings. This is just for shooting my mouth off in the hopes of decreasing WorldSuck with the power of mere lung capacity. No, wait, finger dexterity? One of those things.
But anyone who reads this probably already understands what I mean.
God I hope someone understands what I mean.

The idea would be post roughly 1 new redraw a day for the next few weeks. In case you're interested in that sort of thing. You should go see. I might draw Cap naked cuz I'm that kind of a person.


Another project, one about some ladies who made history,... well, I did my numbers and that's going to take me at least 6 months. And I don't have financing for that yet. And I'm going to have to do that while studying. In other words: expect me to maybe possibly go on Kickstarter or Indiegogo at some point for that. I've barely started doing research for it, but it's going to be awesome. I'll be posting more specific info and images of that thing on here and the other blog as it progresses. Right now, I don't even have an estimate of costs. But again, most pics will probably be in that other blog, so if that's what you're after, then keep clicking here.
There are also a couple of other things I might be arting on, but they're in such early stages that we're just figuring out what exactly it is we're doing. Yeah, there are other people involved.
When I know, you will know.

On a totally unrelated note, I have to say that I do quite like Andrew Zimmern. A man who likes foods that taste of something other than pizza or beer? My kind of a guy.
Yeah, I don't expect much. Don't blame me, blame society!

This sounds like a good place to go make another cup of coffee.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Fancy breakfast

eggs

It seems that the ink (or whatever sort of paint they used for the print on my napkins) does not hold against deshelled eggs. Naked boiled egg + lurid napkin = fancy breakfast.

breakfast1

They're really quite pretty. But I'll try to not do that again, since I have no idea if the ink is toxic or not. And if someone knows why the napkins - and yes I use napkins when eating alone in my room in front of the computer because it makes me feel like I have a proper life - don't smudge with water but do with eggs, I'd be really interested to find out.
The same reason you can clean your hair with egg?

So yeah, that happened. :D

Thursday, 26 July 2012

I did a thing

There's an online portfolio. Yeah. One of those things. Is it absolutely perfect? Oh hell no. There's no such thing as a perfect portfolio. But it's a start, it was free, and it's as good a place as any to start working on getting some actually good stuff on display online (and get like, employed).

Why does doing all this creative business always make me do more of it? It's like a vicious cycle.

You can view my portfolio here. Also feel free to share the link for any reason whatsoever with everyone you know. No pressure, but you have my permission. Just so you know.
Now if you excuse me, I'm going to check this thing off my To Do list and start spamming (did I say spam? Of course I meant some other canned meat) potential employers.

It's 7am. I think that means I can make a cup of coffee.

Randy Pausch tells you how to do it

If you'll only ever watch a single video in your entire life (or are determined that all lectures are a terrible waste of time and money so I'll have to promise you sexual favours to watch one) make it this one. This is how it works. No ifs and no buts, just a big smile and how do I do this. Everything else if window dressing. And mostly the sort of butt-ugly window dressing you pick out yourself so that other people don't want to look at your window and you don't have to look out of it.
I swear, there's a really good metaphore in there somewhere.

Anyhow. Sit. Watch this. Smile.



Randy Pausch's wiki-entry.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Work

This is pretty much what I do for at least 4 hours per day:



Or, you know, try to do, and end up trying to set up the tinies goals for myself such as aligning a piece of a single image on a single item before I'm allowed to take a break so that maybe, just maybe, I'd end up over-doing myself, exceeding my own miniscule expectations, and aligning TWO (2) pieces of that single image.


 Picture found online from here.

This is me working.
And this post is about not being addicted to brain crack but getting the derps out of my head and flourishing in the great wide world as soon as the derps appear. And by derps I mean ideas. Sometimes they fail in a stunami of firey explosions and sometimes they turn into beautiful butterflies. Fly little derps, fly!
This post is also about distracting myself from drawing a version of an 1996 Liefeld drawn Captain America comics book cover.
I want to and yet I fear I could not do it proper justice. So I derp.
But hey, at least I got other important stuff done while trying to avoid doing that one! #winning

Right. Captain America coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned! I'm going to bed now.

Monday, 16 July 2012

On crack

Mah damn feet

It's been a rather terrible couple of weeks in that my perspective has been on doing crack and then getting frustrated when nothing happens. There was the waiting for the university entrance exam results(1), the benefits office(2), the skin(3) and probably some other things that I forget now and what's terrible is that none of those things are as terrible as I'd want them to be so that I could indulge in brain crack(4).

I should probably include annotations in the entry.

There, added.
(1) I didn't get in the uni or the degree program I wanted. I'm on reserve spot #3. This is not terrible for the simple reason that I can study the first year courses through open university while NOT enrolled officially as a student and claim unemployment benefits as opposed to student benefits. The difference between these two is about 300-400€ per month in favour of unemployment benefits, which brings us to...
(2) .. the benefits office. After over 3 months of waiting for them to make a decision on my benefits (a process that should by law take 30 days) I got a negative decision for the first 2 months I've been in Finland and not a peep on the all the other months after that. This isn't good, but it's not as terrible as it feels. And I managed not to swear at the boy in the benefits office and told him I was sorry for being short with him because obviously it's not his individual decision and he said he understood that after 4 months of no income at all, I might be a little tense. The good thing about all of this is that for once, none of the hiccups in the proceedings are actually my fault. They're solely the failings of the system to function the way law requires it to function. And now we wait for another few weeks for the rest of the paperwork to pass through.
(3) The skin has not been reacting favourably to OCM which of course hasn't exactly improved my mood. Why is this ultimately a good thing? Well, it just struck me today that after cursing that silly doctor who wanted to fix my skin with topical ointments that obviously wouldn't address the actual cause of the situation, I was doing the same thing with the OCM. With some people it works perfectly for just this sort of thing, but quite possibly, with those people the reason for the skin acting up wasn't in the rest of their body not functioning properly. And to be fair, who wouldn't want solutions that were as easy as just changing the product that you put on your face because the alternative would be to change things that you just don't wanna.... like leaving out cappuccinos. I don't wanna. But if it's a choice between leaving comforting foods out for now and getting skin to calm the fuck down or keeping those comforting items on the menu and have to pay for paper bags to wear over my head and oh, use twice as much money and time.. there's really no choice. But I still kinda don't wanna. Because I should just be able to live like a 5 year old and run around the streets naked and pee where I stand and everyone should think it's totally charming and give me lollipops. And that sort of brings us to...
(4) ... brain crack. "Brain crack" is a term possibly coined by zefrank describing how addicting it is to come up with ideas and never actually do anything with them because you're "maturing" them or "nurturing" them or other such words that describe the fermenting process. We like the idea that ideas are like fine wine or cheese and the longer you let them sit in your head, the better they get because you're perfecting them so that eventually you'll have that Idea To End All Ideas that will solve world hunger and capitalism and syphilis and everything bad and wrong ever in the world and in the process make your life the sort of perfect that you want it to be inside your head. And hey, maybe there was once an idea that fermented in someone's skull like this and when it finally came out, it was awesome. But for 99% of people that nurturing process is just a way of a) not doing anything that would require actually doing anything, b) a way of procrastination and c) a way of holding on to the notion that we could be something great if we wanted to, we just don't want to right now. In short: change is scary! Failing is scary! The fuck I will put myself out there, people might actually see that I'm a human being just like they are and that I'm not perfect! Hell, I might have to face that! No thanks!
If you are addicted to brain crack, fear not, most of us either are to some extent or have been.

The thing to do with brain crack is to watch this video by zefrank on it. And then think to yourself that if this is how the brain works, by forming physical links between things that it finds pleasurable and gratifying and the things that you do, surely you can strenghten the link between immediate action and execution of an idea and immadiate gratification just like you can between eating pizza and feeling a bit less bummed out. I learned to like eating cheesy pasta when I'm bored or frustrated, so surely I can learn to like drawing when I feel those same things. Or taking a walk. The human body is nothing if not a constantly changing organism.
And if you need a bit of extra motivation, just keep asking yourself "if I didn't do this thing today (or now) how would I feel about it tomorrow? Would I want to kick my own butt for being a lazy bum and bumming around all afternoon/evening/morning/day instead of doing the thing I actually want to be doing?"
Believe me, you don't want to get yourself angry. You wouldn't like getting your butt kicked by yourself.

Oh and walked barefoot on grass. It was awesome. So I did it twice.
And I will never ever do crack again.

End note: there's a high possibility that "cheese" and words for other forms of dairy will make frequent  appearances in this blog in the coming month. I'm not sorry.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Illustration Friday - "Lost"

Illustration friday - "lost"

Pugs get lost too. Never trust a squirrel for instructions.

On a related note: I really neeed to get a drawing tablet. Trying to fiddle with the mouse is getting ridiculous.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Two plus two equals a bunch of things

What I wore today 26.6.2012

Ok, let's talk about a personal (yet not personal and goodness knows now that it's on then intertubies it's definitely NOT personal anymore) issue. I've always had trouble with my skin. Always. There might have been a few years in between coming out of the womb and having chicken pox and puberty when I didn't have issues, but we're not counting those for obvious reasons. The obvious reasons being that when you're a a wee one before hitting puberty, your hormonal balance and production is going to be radically different  from what it is when you're biologically an adult and capable of having your own wee ones.
I'm not going to say I did the same things everyone else did or did "the sensible" thing. The skin issues have usually been small enough that they can be either covered up so as not to be horribly emotionally scarring, or small enough to be considered negligible, or small enough that everyone including myself has thought that I'll grow out of them.

Welp, here we are, over 30, and we have not grown out of them, have we.

The official medical history is such: everyone of my cousins has had problems with their skin either long term or temporarily due to reactions to food/medication/growing up. So there's that. And when you have a mystery rash on your legs for 10 years that ALL the doctors seemed to think was nothing (turned out it might have been lord knows what in the beginning, but it definitely went away entirely once I stopped living with a cat and stopped using the utterly pointless topical creams doctors prescribed), the stuff on your face is also considered either nothing, or much like "female issues" in general, something I'm exaggerating. Sad to say, but that's often the attitude people get at a doctor's office. And let's face it (oh, pun!) it's not a full blown acne that would be terribly debilitating in wide terms. However, personal opinion here, physical symptoms making your body not function within bare minimum of norms, should always be looked at because they are, as the phrase goes, symptoms of something.
Anyhow, I used the usual over the counter products on The Face as a teen, though one doctor has later on remarked that such products are much too harsh on teenaged skin and shouldn't even be marketed to them while another said that they thought the first doc was full of it. So there ya go. I was on the Pill for many years and it affected the skin only marginally. The problem(s) of course being that it's an extra dose of hormones in your body which I'm not too thrilled about; it didn't actually make that much of a difference AND if I were to ever fancy having those wee ones, I would have to stop taking the stuff. I spot many holes in this "remedy".
I'm not going to go on a longer tangent on how contraceptive pills are generally offered as a treatment for acne/problem skin or many other symptoms women suffer from related to their cycle. That's a whole other kettle of fish because it's a kind of a large-ish topic.
I do pick at my skin which obviously isn't good, but even under conditions which would be normally considered ideal as far as stressing out (which always leads to picking at the skin) and letting the skin heal in peace go, the skin has still not behaved.

Now we get close to our current date. In Mexico, my skin was ok. It wasn't ideal, but it was ok. It's hard to say if it had gotten better with some more time to look into the changes I'm making now (and I'll get back to this later) or if it was something else.
That's the thing: when it's not hideously disfiguring, bursting puss all over bypassers and sidewalks or growing teeth and tails, your guess is as good as mine. Or specifically, my guess is as good as the doctor's. Especially if the doctor is one of those who thinks everyone should have to suffer things. In Mexico, I wouldn't really pick at my skin, but it would still be "not clean" and produce little blemishes or blackheads in certain areas and sometimes go completely wild a week or so before Aunt Flo came to town.
The benefits there were a relatively stress free environment and all the awesome foods everyone tells you to eat to make your skin glow. And yes, my skin did look better there.

So we're now at my current situation where we're back in Finland and my skin has had what would in person-terms be called a Complete Meltdown that's spreading down my neck. Contributing factors here are numerous: none of that awesome healthy food. No fresh avocados, mameys, pomegranates or oily fish. No healthy dairy, just the kind that will give you gas (I've learned today that it's also known as "dead milk" *shudder*). Definitely not a stress free environment. If you know me, you know how I feel about our benefits system right now. There are feels. They're not entirely positive. I also had to switch from a cover stick that I've been using for years to another product that seems to be blocking up my skin something fierce. The previous one was the only one in the market that I could actually use without ending up looking like the Elephant Man in the evening. I'm thinking that that particular switch is the biggest current issue, though obviously the situation wasn't exactly being handled before.
I did take this to the doctor. She suggested it was a mild form of acne (which it might), handed me a piece of paper that basically said whatever it is, it can't be cured and I definitely, definitely can't do anything about it on my own ("changes in diet have been proven not to have any effect") . Then she made out a prescription for a topical cream.

It's ok to roll your eyes at this point if you've read about acne. Or sensitive skin that's NOT acne.

And here's why: the cream is basically a bleach that will burn the top most layers of the skin. The tube says that it will bleach fabrics and hair (to be applied 2xday on the problem areas, which include arms and legs with me, so yeah.... ), it will make your skin worse for the first 4 weeks and it wont cure the problem but the treatment has to be renewed about 2-3 weeks after the previous round has ended. So basically, it's not going to help with anything and since acne has been discovered to be a hormonal issue, it's not actually going to address that either. And if my issues isn't precisely acne, why am I taking this again? Wait, why would I be taking this even if it was?!

Soooo.. since my options with this particular doctor have now been exhausted, the next doctor I might see is a dermatologist. And the huge fly in the ointment is that that will cost serious money (both the appointment and the medication/treatment, not to mention if there are possible lab costs) and making an appoinment that I would automatically have to pay for does not guarantee a better treatment/medication than with the previous guy. Obviously this will have to be a plan B.. or C.
What I AM going to do is not listen to a piece of paper that tells me not to try anything because it's not going to work and try to work at this from home. Isn't it better to be healed/helped through placebo than to suffer because there's no scientific proof that any of the things you do are actually working?

I'm giving myself a month. A month should be enough time for the skin to renew itself to see if anything is happening and weather at least 1 monthly poo storm from the Hormone Gods. Skin should not need cover up stick. I'm willing to bet some money that if I could get to a point where the skin would be blemish-free enough that I didn't feel the need to try and hide .. well, most of my facial skin under cover up stick, the skin would get to breathe and tan and it's natural balance would eventually be restored (to what it hasn't ever had the opportunity to be before). So I ordered mineral make up. It's supposed to be The Shizzniss for letting your skin breathe.
It's not actually called the Shizznizz though.
I'm adding chia-seeds (for omegas), mint tea (for proposed benefit for hormones related to acne) and proper green tea (for everything ever) in my diet.
Also keeping a really clean diet in general for the next month. You never know. I've been like a teenager in college with my eating habbits once mum stopped cooking all my breakfasts and lunches. Ok, a healthier teenager, but still. So basically that means following what I ate in Mexico as closely as I can, with the exclusion of drinks containing dairy.
Doing the Oil Cleansing Method and making sure I drink enough water and exercise enough.
I already switched my toothpaste to a non-flouride one because... hey, it's worth a shot.
And finally; getting a new shampoo. Barely related. Ok, it's not really related, but I'm trying something here and the store is kind of sort of in the same general direction as the place that sells the proper green tea and I really shouldn't even have to justify this because I'm a damn sprout-eating hippy and I already wash my hair with an egg once a week.

It's for seeing if it might help with my scalp and tired looking hair. My hair is tired because I am. Maybe the hair will perk up when I pamper it for a month.

So there. That's what I'll be doing here in the background while being busy with all the other stuff. This is all basically just background noise, but it's a big issue for me what with skin being the largest organ and all. Will write about this probably more in case there're movements one way or the other. If I remember. I guess I'm asking people to keep their fingers crossed for me, please.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

On hobbies and burning things

Untitled

I visited grandma's place for the midsummer holidays this past Friday/Saturday. The trip (figuratively you could say granny lives out in the sticks, literally, she lives right next to the sticks these days since the actual farm is inhabited by my aunt and a companion) was a while in planning and didn't really materialise funding-wise until the very last moment, which meant standing in line for bus tickets with the number 27  when the number being served was 250.
People travel. Especially for Mid Summer. It's a big deal here.

The short history of that is that Summer Solstice is one of the few remaining pagan holidays and we do pagan rites and the wee ones are encouraged to dabble in the dark arts during this holiday. So everyone's all excited about the prospect of getting to dance around the fields at night buck naked because we're stuck up enough not to know we could be doing that whenever.
And the reality of it is that most people just get blind drunk just like during all holidays and all the sacrificing we do is donating our blood to benefit the mosquito population.
Fat mosquitos make for happy birds? Eh, I dunno. I'm all out of silver lining for that one. Even with my 60 denier pantyhose and jeans, the squeeky little bastards managed to bite my legs and butt raw.

The trip was... enlightening. I love being in transit. Being in transit is going on my list of hobbies. It's the way you're doing something, seeing places all the while also being able to meet new people and do something that you enjoy, like reading or writing. Being in transit is all of those things bundled into one handy package. Seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles after a very long time was a sobering experience. Sometimes you forget how time passes. Sometimes, especially when you're locked up inside yourself, you fail to see other people clearly. This was a new experience for me, seeing these people as they were and not through my own distorted expectations.
The little cottage by the lake is still as beautiful as ever. That's where my god is. Even with the damn mosquitoes. You want to be in awe, you go sit on a pier midsummer night, listen to the cuckoo echo over the lake and tuffts of mist roll over the water, then warm your bones next to a bonfire and let the ash fall over you like snow.
I've missed those things from my childhood.

Untitled

Being away from my little cubicle, meeting people anew, being in transit and reading up on some great ladies in history got me to put some perspective on things again. Learning learning learning, this whole thing is a massive exercise in how to be myself which is becoming a lot less complicated the more I understand. Basically it boils down to just not making excuses for not doing things. I've taken up keeping a diary. Again. Well.. it's been a while since I had one, but now that I've reduced my blogs to just this one that's for wordy things and my Tumblr blog that's for pictury things, I needed a place to talk to myself, honestly, in my own language. Because we're built with a thousand ways to decieve ourselves with pretty words. Talking to yourself without evading is important.

So amma gonna be in transit a whole lot more in the future. There'll be pictures. And there'll be drawings of things and stuff and comics at my Granny Panties blog. Which ever you prefer. And if you see me, come and talk to me, cuz I'm always happy to meet new people.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

On learning and dead people

Best purchaces

This past Monday I finally started my classes. Just one course for now, but oh man does it feel good to be learning with an actual teacher again.
I could mention how Finns are not ones for joining in on class discussions (which sort of makes me the Loud And Obnoxious One.. you know, more than usual) and I could mention that the class so far isn't exactly what it said on the tin.
But all that's secondary.
It's learning. It's not-wasting-your-time. More specifically, it's minimizing-harm-and-maximizing-happiness. Our bodies and minds have this terrible desire to be used and to develop and if those needs (that were a biological necessity) are not met,  we are want to drown out their pleas with immediate gratifications in excess. And I say in excess because learning and moving and being connected and deriving pleasure from things that are not fashionably pleasurable are all things you can learn (narf) to enjoy and hard to do in excess, but things that are fashionably pleasurable, that is sex, food and similar, are very easy to over indulge in.

Yes, I've been reading about Epicurus. And Benjamin Franklin. And Hans Christian Andersen. And a whole bunch of other people. See, I started on this most awesome book called The Book Of The Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. It's basically cliffsnotes on all the people and biographies you ever wanted to read with a huge chunk of people you never knew about thought you should and a great big bucket load of happy for having discovered and learned about all of these people.
I did not know da Vinci was gay. It also never really entered my head that he used to be young and apparently very tall and incredibly handsome. Because you just don't think about famous masters in those terms. And the history books in school have this tendency to not mention when someone is gay or bisexual but just note that they had a "companion", like we're talking about puppets or cubes.

Getting back to Epicurus. There's an interpertation that when you tell someone to enjoy all worldly pleasures that you're telling them to stuff their face with cake (which is undeniably pleasurable when you're doing it) or to boink everything. Rarely if ever do people percieve wordly pleasure to mean ALL pleasures that you can take in this life. Not in western interpertations anyway. So how about reading and talking with friends or sitting by the lake listening to the birds and the breeze? I'd say these are pretty pleasurable things. Why I'm bringing up Epicurus is that he had some pretty good things to say: 1) necessities of life are food, water, warmth (I'll just understand this as clothing since most of us don't live on nudist colonies), shelter, freedom, thought and friendship. And now think honestly how many of those are you willingly giving up every day for the benefit of not doing anything at all because scary scary SCARY! 2) The things that are essential and good for you are surprisingly easy to come by. Looking at that list of necessities, do you think those things will cost you a lot of money? Do you think that having a lot of food/sex/money would increase the quality of these essentials and more so, make you enjoy them more?

There's a a phrase that gets uttered at all the wrong moments, by people who fail to understand timing or sympathising: "It's a question of attitude".
Once you get to the right state of mind, once you stop thinking in terms of "I fail at life because I'm not earning as much as my peers or have a house as big as they have and I'm ugly to boot and my pain is something that I need to keep to myself because surely it's a private thing that I wont uncosciouly take out on others once I get annoyed enough" and start believing that everyone has their soft spots and we all protect them the best we know how because scary scary SCARY!.. you'll notice that that phrase is dead on. Damn it.

Lil bird

Don't fear God
Don't worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.
           Tetrapharmakon according to Epicurus

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Illustration Friday - "Secret"

Illustration Friday - "Secret"

It's the Secret Society Of Hiding Animals On Your Body. They have a secret handshake too. I don't even know...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Illustration Friday - "Shiny"

Illustration Friday - "Shiny"

Prometheus


 
First a fair warning: this blog post will most surely spoil the movie for anyone and everyone who hasn't seen it and wishes to go in knowing as little as possible in order to form their own opinion. I'll let you know at which point the spoilers start rolling so you can stop reading.

The non-spoilery part of the review is as follows: I have mixed feelings about the movie.
The trailer seemed interesting.
And now SPOILERS!!!! *** SPOILERS!!!*** TURN AWAY!!!!***DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!!*** I WILL SPOIL EVERYTHING EVER FOR YOU RIGHT NOW!!!!***RUN AWAY!!!!

The plot goes thusly: Muscly albino humanoid drinks goop at the edge of a waterfall somewhere while a space ships takes off. Humanoid (henceforth known as Mr White) has convulsions and falls into the water where he promptly desintegrates. Que opening credits. Archeologist couple have been compiling a record of a certain constellation reoccurring in images created by various different cultures throughout Earth history. Heap Big Future Evil Corporation Weyland Industries funds their research trip to said constellation and specifically to a moon there that has vaguely Earth-like conditions. We meet the crew and pic out the red shirts. David The Robot has been artistic and sensitive and taking care of everything on the ship while the humans have been in cryostasis. The ship reaches destination and quickly discovers a bunch of humps in straight lines that might or might not be buildings. Crew goes in, finds a bunch of faces and stuff carved everywhere. Probably buildings then. Crew splits, there's a storm, some people get stranded in the building and some stuff from there is smuggled on the ship. The stranded crew members die, love-interest archeologist is infected with nasties, Noomi gets preggers, Weyland is NOT dead but on the ship and Charlize has sex. Love-interest archeologist dies, one dead crew member turns into a crab-zombie and kills a bunch of others and it turns out that Mr White and his mates are total dicks for no reason whatsoever. Noomi gives herself a caesarian, Charlize is Weyland's daughter and there are no xenomorphs. Mr White kills Weyland dead and rips David The Robot's head off and tries to fly the Space Croissant to Earth to smash puny humans. The good ship Prometheus crashes the Space Croissant, Charlize gets squished, Giant Squid Of Anger hugs Mr White to death, Noomi flies off to have amazing adventures with David's head (and the body.. but we don't talk about that) and there's finally something resembling a xenomorph, though not quite. End credits.

Since this is a mixed bag I'll start with the things I did like: The movie is very well paced. It kept me sitting and wondering and not wanting to skip ahead and at least the first act is quite brilliant in building the movie and the story arc up. There's a distinct lack of unrealistic assholes in the cast. These feel like real people, with real dialogue and real depth. Yes, the ones who lose their shit can be picked out from the get go, but they never act out of character or have unreasonable motivations. The first act is brilliant. There is so much set up that you start to genuinely appreciate how intelligently the movie is made. The look of the film is perfectly in-keeping with the first one and it seems like they might even have used further sketches from Giger to complete the set up of the cultures presented here (the structures they find on this foreing moon look like a take on the designs Giger did for Dune before leaving the project, though the giant faces are more reminiscent of Patrick Tatopoulos's work). The characters are given time enough to grow on you and become human. And there are gentle giggles. You genuinely don't want any one of these people to just die already even though you know that that's what's coming.
It's an Alien-film. If you go in not thinking that everyone or at least most of these people, are going to die, then you probably got tickets to the wrong movie. By the time the first seeds of destruction have been planted, that is by the start of the second act, you start feeling that this might be one of those unpleasantly good movies where you don't have quick bloody deaths, but you're going to have to watch these people that you care about slowly and painfully (literally) come apart.

And then it all gets silly.
So the things I really disliked about in this movie: let's start with cloak-wearing humanoids from alien planets wearing tighty whiteys. Yeah. That happened. I guess alien peen was too much to be tastefully covered up by random objects on the screen. So humanoids shop Walmart before getting their druidian cloaks on.
The tone of the movie is frustratingly uneven. The first part promises a wonderfully moody and thoughtful piece where the bits with violence are short and shocking and blunt and where the focus would be on keeping you invested psychologically and emotionally, making you think heap big thoughts about life, universe and everything. And then you're given a Guy Pearce with a bald-cap and a Giant Squid Of Anger and you quickly realize that this isn't as smart as it promised to be. It's actually pretty terrible if it wasn't for the wonderful pacing that keeps you from stopping to think about how silly it's getting for too long.
Peter Weyland of the Weylands That Are The Root Of All Evil In The Corporate World is played by Guy Pearce. Guy Pearce in the most unconvincing old age make up since Radu from Subspecies. And that's Peter Weyland as opposed to Charles Weyland who we've seen being played by Lance Henriksen in all the other movies, because.. Lance Henriksen isn't in this one. So we get Peter The Less Handsome Weyland Brother. Who looks like an actor doing a terrible job pretending to be old. And I'm not saying Guy Pearce is a bad actor, it's just that that amount of latex would make anyone look like a muppet. And I doubt it's a huge surprise to anyone that Weyland isn't really dead, but on the ship and that Charlize Theron's Meredith is in fact his daughter. Some spectacularly clunky dialogue follows when exposition is delivered on things that everyone already guessed (but for some reason the writers felt needed to be hammered home) and when plot points that require some huge leaps in logic are pointed out since the movie failed to show rather than tell. The famous croissant-shaped space ship is immediately identified as a space ship underground, even though no motors or control rooms have been located. It's shaped like the croissant from the first movie, so it must be a space ship.. that can fly. In space. Because.. croissants from space! The cylinders and the gunk in them the crew find are recogniced as Weapons Of Mass Destruction and the structure they're in is obviously a weapons manufacturing facility, because.. well, that's just how the universe rolls. We haven't even met the people who made them, but yeah... they're all weapons as opposed to foreing food that might have gone off in the 2000 years it's been sitting around. And the people who made them hate us. Because of The Reason.
In some of these cases (like the fact that there are several buildings found on the moon the crew land on and that this movie doesn't actually answer any of the questions it, or the first movie, poses about the nature of The Space Jockey Guys) the movie is fully aware that it doesn't deliver and has the characters plainly say so. "We don't know why they created us and now want to kill us". "I have to find out why they hate us". Yeah, we the audience were sort of asking the same thing. There's no motivation for being violent and evil and ripping androids' heads off. And the movie agrees. And then gives an ending that would've been better suited for something with a lower budget. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) goes off with the head off Michael Fassbender in one of the other ships the big nasty aliens left, to go find their home planet and presumably ask nicely why they hate us just before getting stomped to death under their giant albino feet.
So if the humanoids who hate us and made these bio-weapons that have oh-so-many-ways of killing us accidently kind of had an accident in one of the weapons' manufacturing facilities and died in that one facility, whatabout the guys in the other facilities? We see a bunch of the factories at the beginning. Were the other facilities already empty when they had their booboo in this one? Did they get bored of their work in 2000 years and think "Well fuck this killing-all-the-earthlings shit. I'm going fishing in my cabin in Alpha-Centauri."? Did they all die at work of old age? Boredom? And then the Space Jockey continuity got completely screwed when he wasn't killed by a xenomorph in his seat but by the Giant Squid Of Anger.
And what's with carving giant faces in your storage lockers and on top of your factories? It's like the biggest fan club of Skeletor was in charge of your weapons industry.
The xenomorphs we know and love turn out to be a bug created specifically as a bio-weapon. It's an interesting concept but the idea is a bit all over the place. Is it a parasitic thing that you put in the ecosystem that then proceeds to adapt to all other species and kill them off? Is it a zombie virus that re-animates dead crewmen and their cameras and makes them into bendy berserkers? Fucking bio-weapons, how do they work?! In 2000 years these highly adaptable little buggers that killed ya'll guys (the humanoids that made them) didn't manage to evolve any further? They had a whole planet to play with, you know. Nope, they're just gonna swim along in their black, unexplained goop and look phallic and vaginal all at once.
Oh yeah, there's a ginger rage-zombie who stalks his victims from a crab-position for no particular reason but because it makes for a neat visual. Ugh.... hate it when that happens. Or when you only know a crew member is alive (or undead) when their personal, helmet-mounted camera works.
There's further stupid when Noomi's love interest Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) heroically commits suicide because he's infected and would burst all over his space suit at any moment. So he forces Charlize Theron to burn him alive. Which would be terrible and effective.. if he wasn't wearing that space suit that can take quite a beating. The end result is a burst scientist in a a hot, but intact, space suit. Clever, that.
And because of his sexytiem with Noomi just before turning to goop, our heroine is now preggers with a squid. Not a xenomorph, but with what will eventually turn into a Giant Squid Of Anger with some serious vagina dentata. Squid-silliness aside, this is an interesting premise, which is immediately and unceremoniously resolved by her performing a caesarian on herself and then proceeding to jump and run all over the place. This bit was probably written by someone who didn't quite grasp what happens when you have a baby and  need to cut it out of a uterus.
Oh and Noomi manages to beat some people up to get to the operating table and no one seems to really mind that. Eh, just another day in space camp.
Speaking of the Giant Squid Of Anger: it should be noted that CGI and squids should only be used together when the intention is to cause hilarity.

Giant Squid Of Anger by Coahtemoc

And in the end Charlize is squished by the Space Croissant because Flying Space Croissants can only fall on witch-like protagonists and not anywhere else on the planet they're above.

So do the cons outweight the pros? I honestly don't know. The first act is brilliant and then it gets really silly and careless and non-xenomorphic and inconsequential. But it's still not a bad film. It's just scitzophrenic. Like after the beginning someone said "Wait, we're making an Alien-movie. We need to kill everyone right now! The world is a terrible place! We can't have all this pondering philosophical stuff.. it'll make everything lame! More Giant Squids!".
Final thoughts? A lot of people are going to like this and I'll continue on getting more and more angry about all the little things that were wrong with it because it could have been thoroughly brilliant. It could have been genuinely intelligent. But then someone took scissors to the script and glued a whole other script where the last 2 acts were supposed to be.
I'm happy for the Giant Squid Of Anger finally getting a role (s)he could sink their teeth into.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The days without internet

Töölö library

My monitor died last Sunday.
After years of emiting a low but terrible eeeeee-sound whenever the power was turned OFF, the monitor finally died a true death. I will not miss that sound.
Today, I got a new monitor and am, in a manner of speaking, "back online".

Sidenote: the new monitor apparently has an extra feature which allows you to turn it on its side so you can more easily read documents in your avegare A4 or similar letter size. Which is truly handy seeing as the monitor is almost perfectly square. Oh well, it's the thought that counts. XD

So here's the kicker: I did not miss being online. I miss hanging out with my friends, I miss taking classes and going for a cup of coffee (or a chai latte or anything with milk in it I could drink abundance off outside Finland that alas, is all forbidden here where all milk products, but especially milk of the runny-kind, makes my anus bleed) afterwards, I miss the unbearable heat and the close proximity to everything new and not understanding if people were insulting me or being nice. All of those things I miss daily, but being online? I did not miss being online.

The unfortunate thing though, is that our information society is built on the fact that everyone is online all the time. So when I went to look for a place that would sell cheap monitors I was told to look up the address and the public transports there online. Or to order online because it would be quicker for me to order things from the online version of the store I was standing in, than to have them make the order for me right then and there.
How this makes sense, I have yet to figure out.
Also, all job applications must be filled out/sent online as do all my drawing and photographing projects.

What did I do with my time? I slept better. I got to actually take my clothes off and get between the sheets and not just pass out in my jeans and wake up when some part of my body started hurting from being in the wrong position for too long or when the clock would chime 4am signaling a good time to go wash my face. I ate less and wasted less time doing so while still managing to eat well.
I read 2 books (Looking For Alaska by John Green which was very awesome and you should all read it and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner which was.... probably best viewed within it's cultural and publishing era context. The glowing personal profile articles in the added material were extremely annoying.) and checked out 2 other books that were on my reading list for this year and started on one of them (Kill All The Brutes by Sven Lindqvist). I wrote letters. I hatched a project to mess with this damn country and its fear of intimacy. And I got to terms to actually wanting to be a research scientist. How's that for 2,5 days? Yeah, I'm pretty much going to study, and probably practice to some extent, to be a research scientist. Which is nice.
And I hung out with a friend and had a small amount of alcohol and it was the best damn drink I've had in a long long while. Sitting at the terrace on a lovely pre-Summer day was nice too.
AND I might have been caught redhanded oggling at a cute guy. And my head might have exploded.
Yes, this happens to girls.

Today, there were sparrows in the sky.

I don't quite know how I feel about the internet. It obviously has it's place (though I have to say I was a little dismayed that the numberservice I called to find I number I'd stupidly forgotten to write down from an email, used Google to try and locate first the office of the organization, then the number of their front desk from their website, as opposed to using their own database with all the listed, non-secret phone numbers in this country), but most people I know are terribly illequiped to use the internet "wisely".
I'd go even so far as to suggest if quitting the internet and switching to using only phones might help a lot of people who currently suffer from various forms of dissociation.

Spreading information serves a purpose. Being in touch with people far away serves a purpose. But there's a very fundamental difference between shouting into the void like I'm doing now and sitting with a group of friends and talking about all of these things above. Like Smell-O-Vision, that's just something you can't artificially replace.

Chikun

Friday, 1 June 2012

The apocalyptic 2012.. no wait, 2011!

Mayan hieroglyphs

I went on a public (that is: free) lecture last Tuesday called The End Of The World 2012? A Journey In Time Into The Mayan Culture. Why? Because it was free and hey, it was a lecture by an actual professor (Harri Kettunen) on this very popular 2012 jive.
A couple of things: The information said the lecture was to be held at lecture hall 1001 which turned out to be a classroom. Nothing against classrooms, but they're very small in comparison. A classroom =/= a lecture hall.
The second thing: when you name your lecture like the above, you run a very high probabilty that a certain percentage of the attendees are... well... governing a different sort of a world view.

I went because I wanted to start to get a feel of how it is to be a university student. Apart from being stuck in a classroom with near 100 other people, it was quite nice actually. It's not exatly my field of interest/study. Not exactly, though it sort of is. But never mind. The best part is to come (and I did learn good things on this lecture).

What with the populistic name and the fringy type of personalities the lecture had attracted (which you could point out on their eagerness to take notes on such an Earth shattering (narf) mythological/premonitional concept, I wasn't really expecting this to be anything I hadn't already heard.
I was wrong.
Within the first 45 minutes (the lecture was about an hour and a half) it became apparent that this wasn't a populistic lecture on the omens and foretellings and general mythological awesomeness of the mayans, but instead a lecture on their awesomeness as astronomers, their linguistical principles and mathematics. And by the 45 minute mark, the people who came there to hear all that pop gubbins that's been polluting the media with visions of the apocalypse, had stopped taking notes.
I did giggle, because I'm an evil person.

So what did I learn? Well, besides the fact that yes, Mayans were incredibly skilled in astronomy, they appear to have been kind of dicks. I'm not even talking about human sacrifices. To each their own. I'm talking about them being about as straight forward about the use of language as cockneys. Or ze internerdz who communicate xklusivly via LOLcat-speak. If it sounds vaguely like a word that means something entirely different, they're going to make a play on words. And they're going to use different "fonts", as in the same numeral can be written in at least 3 different ways, not counting all the decorations they might throw in. The Mayan figure in that thar drawing is a full body version of the number 0 (zero). Yes, a version, not the version, because there are several and there might be more than we know.
Sidenote: I actually have a book on Mayan numerals on my desktop, just haven't read it, so I'm not equiped to say if the variation is down to individual artist interpertations or if there are similar figures used and the variation is more georaphical.
Which brings us neatly to the next point of why Mayans were dicks: unlike our numerical system which is base 10, they used a base 20 system. This bit is something I didn't grasp and you'll have to google how it works. It's not hard, it just takes concetration. But wait, there's more to it than that! Not only did the Mayans use a base 20 system, but they used several different kinds depending on the area they were living in.
Can you see why I'm calling them dicks now?
Yes, they didn't use a simple, straightforward base 20 counting system, but varied that between 18 and 16.
For the record, 18 seemed to be the more popular.
You think this is all a bit arbitrary? It's really only a little. Most things Mayans cared to count would in some way or another be derived from the movement of the planets, so while the counting methods are infuriating, they usually all line up to the cycles of a planet or another in our solar system.
Which is pretty darn neat.

Ok, so what about this end of the world 2012 business then?
Besides being based on something an american professor (who is coming to Finland at the end of this year for a seminar on the Mayas and I could image will then and has already been getting a lot of flack for setting forward these sorts of ideas) once wrote in his book on the Mayan culture. He made a very general and vague reference that someone, at somepoint, might have suggested that the world would end in 2012. Apparently there's a piece of stone monument, the kind that were very popular with the Mayan rulers, that states something the ruler of that period of that area of the mayan kingdom did at the time, will happen again in 2012 because it has happened before in ancient times before said ruler was even a twinkle in their great grandparents' eyes.
This isn't special.
Mayans had a notion of things that have happened sometime in prehistoric, mythical times, happening over and over again. Which you can say is kind of true. Things do have a tendency to repeat themselves, if only because there are only so many things people and animals can do. So let's say that I eat porrige today at 6am, it is likely that someone, at some point of history has also eaten porrige at 6am and someone, somewhere, will eventually eat porrige at 6am after me.
It's also true on larger scale that similar patterns do repeat themselves with slight variation.
And I have to mention at this point that even this bit about the Mayas isn't as simple as it looks as apparently their cyclical thinking isn't exactly the same as ours in that their cycles aren't quite what we're used to.

Why 2012? Why not? There are Mayan writings that reference things happening in 4000-something in our calendar. And there probably have been references to a great many other dates, but either the jungle or time or whatever circumstances have destroyed those writings. In 2012 a baktun cycle in the Mayan calendar does come to an end, however, as a baktun is 144 000 days, that has happened quite a few times before with little effect.

And you know what else I learned besides all this about base 20 maths being hard and our westerncentric-thinking making it harder for us to understand another culture and Mayans being so awesome at maths that they counted the lunar cycle with 26second accuracy with just their maths?
That apparently us westerners don't even know how to do calendars.
You remember that bit where a bunch of people at the eve of 2000 were all like "Well, the new millenia doesn't even start until 2001!" and the general populace was all like "Wut? U crazy bro" and went on celebrating like it was 1999?
I was in the latter camp because frankly, that made sense. If you're turning 5, the week before you turn 5, you have been alive 4 years and 51 weeks. The day after you turn 5, you have been alive for 5 years and a day. Right? It doesn't get any easier than this!
Unles you're the gregorian calendar and you don't know what a zero is.
Yes, the fault in our current global calendar is that it doesn't have a year zero. We go from year 1 Before Current Era (or Before Christ) straight to year 1 Current Era (or Anno Domini... whatever words you want to use). What that means in practical terms is that if you really wanted to count how long we've been in our current era, we'd still hadn't gotten to year 2012. We'd be at 2011 and 5 months and a handful of hours.
See what I did there? That's because we're also lacking a month 0 (zero) and a day 0 (zero).

And if you find all of this confusing, don't worry, there are people with academic degrees who make mistakes in counting our calendar years. :)

The missing number