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Archive for August, 2008

As I’ve said before, I find it very embarrassing to take pictures of flowers, trees and other nature stuff, but today I ignored my personal issues and took my camera out for a walk.

Although I was very clear on what I would say if someone asked me what kind of birds I was looking for; I was not out there for the birds but for the graffiti.

I’d been thinking of going out to document graffiti for some time since I had seen some great spray-ons in the tunnels going under Lahtisleden/Lahtinväylä. But unfortunately you won’t see any pictures of those since we have such an efficient cleaning crew in our city. It seems like they go out and wash the tunnels once every month! Haven’t they got anything better to do with tax-payer’s money? Could I send in a complaint to the city asking them to leave the tunnels alone?

Even though I was sad and bitter for the cleanliness of some people, I did hit jackpot at the bridge at Grindbacka/Väräjämäki. These spray-ons have been left there for at least a year. I guess it’s easier to take a hose and wash down something from the walls of a tunnel…

(and just so you understand; I really hate the tags people leave everywhere, even on private property!, but the graffiti that actually portray something, that’s another thing all together)

And here is half a glue-on. It’s supposed to be a picture of the Reaper or Death, but some idiot has torn half of it off. It’s on public property for crying out load, why can’t they just let it be?!

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So I’ve added two more cousins to my blogroll. Both are starting a new chapter in their lives. Jakob is going to the Philippines and Linnéa is starting her studies to become a teacher. Good luck to both of you!!

And then there is Johan and Lotta who are now in Australia studying at Hillsong for the next x number of years. And Dani, who is in a bit of a financial and educational dilemma it seems.

(And for you who can’t understand Swedish; don’t bother with any other blog than Johan’s 🙂 )

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Highlight of my day

The post arrived. A package like any other, obviously containing flies. But there was something different, the shape of the carton box perhaps or maybe that the label looked somewhat foreign. And then we realized: Shinya’s flies had arrived!!

When you do research on insects you tend to study some organs in particular. The eyes are very favoured, but even more so the wings. Shinya is looking at the wing vein formation and needed to compare our sweet Drosophila (fruit fly) to some other similar insect species. He chose the bottle fly.

There are actually companies that grow these flies and sell them for medical purposes, so they are really easy to get your hands on. If you are a doctor, you can just log on to their web-site and buy a bottle of sterilized maggots!

The maggots eat bacteria, and everything else that makes ulcers look nasty. So the package that we received did not only contain maggots but also instructions on how to use the maggots, plus some clean gauze to put on the wound.

The treatment goes like this: you have an infected ulcer and you have your maggots. You place 5-8 maggots per square centimeter ulcer, put a patch of gauze on top of them and put tape along the edges so that the maggots can’t escape. You leave them there for 2-3 days, at most 5 days, and then change them into a new set of larvae. A simple and clean procedure. You now have maggots munching away on you. Mmmm, imagine the feeling. The tickle as the larvae move around to find new food, the slight movement of the gauze. Nice!

But they seem to be effective. And if I had an oozing ulcer I’d sure wouldn’t mind trying some living vacuum cleaners on it.

Here are some beautiful pictures.

The bottle fly and some maggots treating a foot ulcer.

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Review: Once

Some might say I watch too many movies, but whatever…

This is the Irish one about a street musician who has lost the love of his life to the big city. Now he is pining away in Dublin, writing songs and singing his heart out on the streets. Then he meets a musical immigrant who helps him make up his mind.

The movie is 95% music and 5% dialogue. You can summarize it in this way:

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Review: Dark knight

Ok, lets see if I got it right: A hero is not someone you can trust in, but someone you can trust to do it your way. A hero is someone to believe in because he shares your beliefs. A hero is untouchable but you should be able to slap him around if you’d like to.

A hero is in this case just a name for a person who can do things you can’t. Lift cars and such…

I could probably rant on about this forever. This is how brilliant the movie was. I almost cried at the end, not because I thought it was particularly sad but because it was just so perfect.

A hero meets his fate. To be truly good he has to stand alone and lay down his cape, his knighthood.

And the thing with Batman is that he doesn’t even have a superpower. Ok, so he knows his martial arts, but can he fly? And, yes, he has all these weird machines, but can he, on his own, freeze time. He is the most human of all heroes, but still has to stand outside society.

When every man has something of both good and evil inside him, and the selfish streak lies right in between these two, a man has to have a reason to do good. Does Batman have a reason?

If evil is a good enough reason, you are fighting every man with some darkness in him. Even yourself.

Who could live with that?

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And of course it’s Heath Ledger that makes the movie so fantastic. He is the heart that has stopped beating. Someone who can stop time by just being. He makes it stand still for us so that we can see ourselves through new eyes.

And we do.

And who is Batman? He is the little bump in the pavement that makes you loose your focus and come back to earth again. He is the one saying we haven’t understood everything quite yet.

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The only thing I though was missing was a powerful theme song. The silent parts were the best ones in the movie. Not that the music was bad but it did not live on it’s own. A movie might need some lyrics that aren’t spoken. Just to tie everything together.

Here is an example from another hero movie. Although the movie in itself, is quite bad, the music takes it to another dimension. Dare Devil: Bring me to life.

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So I know that the Olympics are soon to be over but I just couldn’t go without writing something about it.

Because we’re talking about heroes (see Dark knight review) I thought I should tell you that I was getting up at 5 o’clock every morning last week to listen to the US national anthem.

The way I choose the sports I’m interested in is quite simple. I either watch them because someone else is watching them with me, or I watch them if there is a hero who is destined to win the whole thing. An example of the first one is the 100m race that my father has always been very in to. Even though it is over in about 10 seconds, it is still a highpoint in the Olympic games. At least when I get to sit next to my dad 🙂 

An example of the latter, is figure skating. I started watching this when Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen became big names. Heroes to me, heroes to a nation.

Another reason is of course the program after the actual competitions, when skaters are allowed to do somersaults. And because the whole thing is soooo pretty 🙂

Well this Olympics I was watching another American hero, namely Michael Phelps.

I happily got up at 5 in the morning, only cursing the Americans a bit for making the competitions air at such an inhuman hour. And then I’d watch something that was over in about 5 minutes. Went and took a shower and then had breakfast watching a very touched Michael get up on the winners’ stand. I came to the conclusion that going to work at 7 o’clock isn’t all that bad, since it allows you to leave work at 3pm.

But after it was done and the eight gold medals were hung around his neck I had an anti-climax moment. What now? When everything is done, what is there more to accomplish?

But it is probably like the reporters said: He is not yet a great athlete. He still needs time to mature and grow in to a man. To be truly great you have to do something beyond sports. Like Mohamed Ali or Tiger Woods have done. But being a white kid it’s kind of hard to be a role model. Maybe he could stand up for the environment. He could start by driving a more environmental friendly car for example…

Even though I might not admire the person Michael Phelps, I still think of him as a hero in terms of athletics. And I was actually considering to buy this:

Or maybe this is more fun:

Another thing that is fun with the Olympics is working with a Chinese. It’s like having your own China Daily, the newspaper that all journalists in the Olympic village are laughing at, at hand at all times. Positive propaganda you could call it.

But he did find a critical article in the latest issue of Cell (of all magazines) that he could agree with. It’s about the enormous amounts of money that China has put into its sports programme. Here is some figures:

 

Funding for Basic Research and Sports in ChinaBasic sciences funding supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) from 1998 through 2007. Also shown is government funding for sports by the General Administration of Sports (GAS), from 2003–2007. Since 2001, lottery sales have contributed $350 million to the 2008 Beijing Olympics (the total cost is estimated to be $42 billion). (Source: MOST, NSFC annual reports; GAS lottery sales statistics.) Science in China: 30 years and on., Xin Hao, Cell, Vol 134, 375-377, 08 August 2008

 

Well if you have such a huge country to rule over it’s good to put the money where the people can actually see the results 😉 Science isn’t that visible if you know what I mean…

 

And China has got a couple of medals. Not in football (soccer) though. This is a sore point for every Chinese it seems. They have a very good women’s team, but the men seem to fail in everything they do. “How hard can it be to find 11 guys to kick a ball around” is the comment I get when I try to compliment them on their athletic success.

No wonder that Liu Xiang asked the Chinese people for forgiveness when he couldn’t run the 100m hurdles because of his injury…

 

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Sports day

And speaking of sports; we had a sports day at work. Starting at 8.30 in the morning when the bus left for Solvalla. At 10am we were forced to do some embarrassing games (building group moral I guess…) followed by lunch and two more hours of intense activity.

I had chosen to go out for a Nordic walk, the one where you use ski sticks. And after that I played badminton with Shinya. It was really good fun. We were almost equally good, and not so bad as I though we’d be 🙂 

The day ended in the sauna and we went back to the institute at around 6pm. There, of course, Shinya and Zhao, happily started their 8 hour workday…

But before we left Solvalla, Zhao dragged me in to the forest to pick some blueberries, lán méi (or is it lén mái?). He had found a perfect spot when he was out practising orienteering.

Every Monday Zhao takes a map and a compass and goes out to face the Finnish swamps when looking for orienteering posts that the Helsinki orienteering organisation has put out. I think he’s quite brave. I wouldn’t trust myself in a Chinese forest, that’s for sure!

Anyway. He had found a really good place for blueberries. The problem was that they were so far inside the forest that we didn’t have that long a time to pick the berries when we finally got there. But here is picture proof that we found some. Zhao and his friend Miau gave all the berries they picked to me. Miau, because he just didn’t like them, and Zhao because he just likes to pick them.

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