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Archive for August, 2007

So it took me less than two weeks to watch the entire first season of Heroes. But it was good! So good in fact that I hope they do a Lost and put the whole second season on the net at once. Save all of us some anguish. Although, if they were to do that then I would have to wait a whole year for the following season and that might be too much for my poor heart…

Some comments about the series. You might not want to read this if you haven’t watched the first season – Just jump straight to the next paragraph. I must admit that it took me a couple of episodes to realize that by saving the world they were actually talking about saving part of Manhattan. Because it was no way that that explosion would blow up the entire earth! Of course everything was explained in the last episodes but still… And can someone tell me why the cheerleader was taken to her grandmother’s place when the old lady was on the “other” side and cooperating with the people who wanted to catch her grand-daughter. Why not just put her in a safe-house somewhere? Someone who knows?

Ok, now that I’m done watching Heroes I’ve switched to Weeds. Although brilliant, this series leaves me with a personal dilemma. How can I as a Christian watch a show that is so apparantly pro-marihuana? Can I justify watching people get high on stuff that Snoop Dog then goes and writes a hymn for? This is not just some average gangsta’ series where you expect the bad guys to do some drugs. No this has turned into a respectable family business. Screw the opinions saying the mother goes through a moral dilemma when dealing in front of her teenage son. He’s smoking too, and he looks good doing it! So I guess there’s just no excuse for my conscience giving the series a moral high five when it’s so obviously polluted by non-Christian standards. I’m just going to say that its sooo good. How come they can’t do morally correct series like this? And for you who think I’m too sensitive if the only thing they do are some drugs I might add that there are also episodes containing: a 12 year old getting a hand job (isn’t that what it’s called) from a whore, a bi-sexual Jewish women giving it to a man in the ass AND uncensored teenage sex. (Hmm everything on this list was about sex…) 

The things listed above are of course not the reason why I watch, it’s for the episode where coke bottles start falling from the sky or the one I recently watched where the brother-in-law gives a speech about how to best masturbate. The latter should become a TV-classic. Sometimes I wonder how US allows for such series to exist.

   

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Shinya was pointing out the window at work beckoning us to look. As we weren’t able to see anything special we asked what it was that he was looking at. He replied: They are all red. He was totally amazed at the sight of four red cars parked next to one another. We Finns shrugged our shoulders at the weird Japanese guy who hadn’t seen red cars before.

But maybe we should have taken a moment and thought about the weird fascination we Finns have for red cars – it is in any case the most popular color for cars in Finland.

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like we were different…

Was talking with Zhao today about China’s geography. He reminded me that they are only able to cultivate 1/3 of China’s surface as the rest consists of mountains and desert.  And he told me that agricultural research is very well funded in China, even so that the most famous Chinese researcher he knows is one that found the new kind of rice they are growing now. This rice is more resistant to parasites and gives a higher yield in general. The new way of growing rice has made a lot of farmers unemployed which, according to him, is great. Now those that were previously bound to their farms are able to move to the cities and start working as cheep labor at one of the many new industries there. The only problem is that most of these industries are run by foreign companies. If China would devote as much money on industrial research as they do on the agricultural then maybe one day they would be able to use this cheep labor for themselves. He knows of course that China is in its early stage but, he reminded me, just look at Japan and Taiwan, they were just like China is now and they managed to grow into great economies.

As he was talking I could see that it had already come true. Millions of Chinese are thinking like him. What could stand in their way?

And another thing: I’m sure you know that it was US fault that China experienced famine during the 1960’s. US namely refused to give China  fertilizer/new technology thereby reducing the agricultural efficiency China was in such need of.

Hmm, I wonder what our history books would say about this…

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Mochi

This little sweet thing is loved both in Japan and in China. Mochi is its Japanese name and if I remember correctly it’s called something like loh maaih ji in Hong Kong. It’s one of my favorite snacks, a ball of sticky rice flour often filled with red bean paste. My absolute favorite, however, is the one filled with chopped peanuts. I was trying to find this in Japan when I went there last spring. As a result I ate every mochi I could get my hands on, or everyone I thought I could afford at the moment as they’re sooo expensive in Japan. But they don’t seem to have this special kind, at least not in Tokyo, Kyoto or Nara. I suppose there could be some remote village where everyone sits around eating peanut mochis, but my own hunt for the sweet things was fruitless and only led me to gain 2kg in one week.

As I searched the streets of Kyoto for mochis I came across a stall where they sold four mochis on a stick. They were covered in a brown sauce that I somehow related to chocolate. Encouraged by this new find I bought one stick and took a large bite of the first mochi to see if it happened to contain something yummy (peanuts that is). To my horror my mouth was filled with the salty flavor of soy sauce!! These were not sweet mochis they were horrible mutant mochis that were sold in four only so that the salesperson would get rid of them quicker.

                     mochi.jpg

I remembered these disgusting mochis last week when my colleague Shinya came back from visiting his girlfriend in Japan. He brought with him a whole box of mochis (the sweet kind) that was finished of in about 15 min. I however was not satisfied with the two measly pieces of mochi that I had managed to grab and wanted more. In HK I had, quite successfully, baked my own mochis using ready made rice flour. I therefore asked Shinya if I could get this flour in Finland. He explained that every Japanese family makes mochi once a year around New Years Eve and that they then make there own flour out of special mochi rice. As I don’t own the big sledge hammer that would be necessary for pounding the rice into flour, I politely asked if it was possible to find ready made flour. Shinya then got into talking about all the different kind of mochi that I could make, and that the one that he and his family makes is nothing but the disgusting salty one. Yuck! I could not help but show my utter disgust for the salty mochis which of course hurt Shinya’s Japanese soul.

As a result I learned about the wonderful taste of salty mochis and that this form was the only true form of mochi. I also had the privilege to learn their name: dango (or something like that) which I suppose stems from the Finnish word tanko or bar as in chocolate bar.

What do you, dear reader, learn from this. Well for one: you should always consult a local before you put any of their foods into your mouth. Second: you should never ever insult anything Asian in front of an Asian. It is not the same as if I offered salmiakki to a foreigner and they said it was disgusting, then I’d probably just laugh. Asian people don’t.

          

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Mites

Our poor little flies have got mites! Imagine that a kitten is sitting on your shoulder. Now imagine that it looks something like this:

                mite.jpg

I put it as a thumbnail so that those of you who have phobias won’t die of terror. Anyway, this is how our flies must feel having these little buggers all over them. And they’re hard to get rid of as well. I’m glad that I’ve only got three vials and not 300 as Shinya has.

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A marriage in numbers

I might have mentioned that most of my friends are married. I did a quick count and came up with the number of 13 married couples! And yes they’re all about the same age as I – 25 years give or take one year. (If someone wonders why I myself haven’t been able to tie the knot it must be because I’m just too busy buying wedding gifts and  buying shoes to fit the outfits I’m wearing to the weddings, to have time to do anything else.)

Well anyhow, it’s always a joy to attend a wedding, especially if you are close to the bride and groom. This Saturday I was one of the maid-of-honors at Ulrika and Janne’s wedding. I just wanted to show you a picture of the beautiful couple 

ju.jpg

here they are coming out of the church and people are getting ready to throw rice at them. I guess our traditions have become much Americanized, we even have the old-new-borrowed-blue tradition nowadays.

After the wedding ceremony we headed for the banquet that was held in a restaurant by the sea shore. They had about 130 guests which I think is quite a normal number, maybe a bit above average. I’ve (again) counted and only my relatives make up a hefty sum of 50 people – it will become a very expensive feast since you pay by the plate.

The party ended around midnight when they held a blessing ceremony where the guests place candles in front of the newlyweds. And after this there was the American tradition of throwing the bouquet. Of course she didn’t throw her own but a smaller one, as her bouquet – I must say – was a work of art! You can study the picture above but I personally think it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!

ju2.jpg    bukett.jpg

   

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Chinese influenza

I’m a huge fan of Chinese medicine! I wasn’t, however, until I took a course on the subject and realized that it was so incorporated in the Chinese way of living that Chinese people tend to consult it without thinking much about it. It’s something like when Finns just know that you should drink Jaffa (a certain lemonade) when you’re throwing up. It has not been scientifically proven but who cares when it works. Although someone could blame me of blasphemy now as Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years, been studied by wise men and developed through a process of serious amounts of research and Jaffa is something that has existed for less than one hundred years and is not actually curing anything. Well shoot me, it was just an example. But I think I’ve made my point quite clear, Chinese medicine is something that people deal with in everyday life.

I was reminded of this when I returned from my trip to Barcelona. I’d gotten the flu on the evening of my departure and the late flight didn’t do much to help, so when I went to work the next morning I felt quite lousy. When I told Zhao, my Chinese co-worker, about my flu he immediately stated that it was caused by the Spanish heat. When I, a bit later, complained about it to his girlfriend (I’m such a nag) she too asked me if it was because of the hot weather I’d had to endure in Spain. This can seem a bit odd to a Finn as here cold should be the cause of fever and heat just be darned pleasant. But I, with my infinite wisdom in Chinese medicine knew exactly what they meant. In China hot weather is considered to bring extra heat into the body, thereby causing fever. Cold, on the other hand, affects the lower extremities thereby causing vomiting and stomach problems. So in winter you’ll get the stomach flu and in summer you’ll have a fever. This is probably very true (at least in China)! The odd thing is that the people I talked to, my colleague and his girlfriend, are both scientists that would say that they don’t want anything to do with Chinese medicine, that it’s total humbug. Even so they have been fed its theories since birth and are now unable to stop themselves from practicing it. I find this very interesting indeed!

Other things I’ve learned from ordinary Chinese people:

  • You don’t eat fat food when you are ill
  • There are certain foods that are good for women other that are good for men. Red-bean soup is good for women (my Chinese friends didn’t know why, but I think it’s because of the amount of iron the soup contains).
  • If you have a disease treat it as it was deadly. So even if you’ve only got a sore throat you go see a doctor immediately. In Finland it’s the absolute opposite: An illness is not to be treated unless you have a near death experience from it. Therefore Finns endure sore throat for weeks before they have the courage to go to see the doctor.

Things that I learned from class, although I’m not so sure if I remember them correctly:

You can induce labour by pressing a point between your big toe and its neighboring toe. You can prevent yourself from vomiting by pressing a point between your thumb and your forefinger. And you can get someone who has fainted to wake up by pressing real hard on the area under his nose.

Well kids, don’t try this at home as I’m not so sure in which order they should be, so maybe you’ll just feel more alert after pressing between your fingers instead of feeling less nauseous…

  

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