Veckans ord: rappartist

Långt innan Papa Dee uppträdde rappartister på varieté med sina piskor.


Family gathering

All us remaining siblings went over for our father's funeral. Even though booking our trips independently, we all ended up on the same Silja ferry—in my case after my usual struggle with their website, this time because it doesn't work well with Safari 3, so I ended up having to do a (more expensive) phone booking. Getting on the boat did not entail any security check (yet I was for complicated reasons carrying no less than two Swiss army knives in my pockets this time around).

We would bump into each other on the concourse at various times, but had different dinner arrangements and didn't think of, or feel like, agreeing on a meeting later.

Helsinki next morning was chilly and grey. Honeybuns, the Only-begotten Son and I joined forces with my sister's family and walked from the harbour to our hotel right in the middle of the city. We were too early to check in yet, but had lunch and then changed clothes in the luggage room.

We continued to the funeral chapel where we met my mother and the other guests, exchanging subdued greetings and careful embraces. The coffin was waiting for us. A chapel official set out the Finnish flag to honour the fallen veteran, the funeral bells tolled, the organ went through various preludial exercises and then converged on a psalm, unfamiliar to us come from Sweden. The words and the melody had an uneasy relationship, but the chapel's singer carried the tune for us.

The minister rose and spoke of the life everlasting and then, in terms I recognised as my mother's, spoke of the good past life of my father and exhorted us to carry these bright memories with us.

We filed up to place flowers on the coffin, our better-practiced Finnish relatives carefully following protocol, reading out loud the condoleance cards on their wreaths.

Accompanied by more organ music the coffin moved out, pulled by invisible mechanisms, and we were left alone in the chapel to collect ourselves.

Directions given by my mother, we all walked to the nearby restaurant where a late luncheon had been laid out for us. The waitress was very discreet and professional and could handle any dietary oddities at a moment's notice. I note that these days basically all Finnish restaurants clearly indicate what dishes are vegetarian, gluten free, and/or lactose free. Minimal effort, but much simplifying the lives of many; time to take up this custom (requirement?) in Sweden as well.

My mother asked me to read to the assembled relatives the condoleance letters that had arrived. I made it through with my voice still mostly unbroken.

The various relatives exchanged the latest news, my sister's twins were cooed over and I promised to next summer visit Ostrobothnia, where I haven't been for some years, but still count as my roots. Eventually everybody said their farewells and our little group walked back towards the hotel. On the way we visited the family grave where a half-brother of mine, dead in childhood, rested, and where my father's urn would eventually be interred. The plot had been chosen by him after the wars, but now it seems unlikely that anyone else will be buried there, none of the family having any relation to Helsinki anymore.

We returned to the hotel and rested awhile, readjusting our minds to the present. I changed back from dark suit and tie to my usual jeans and sweater and felt more at ease.

The next morning the three of us set out to have a look at the city. These days central Helsinki is seemingly composed entirely of shopping gallerias. We tried to have a look in the cathedral, but it was closed for service just then.

Akateeminen kirjakauppa upholds proud traditions and is still a book store with a wide selection of books and newspapers, as opposed to its Stockholm namesake, which is increasingly more streamlined and gutted in an attempt to retain profit margins in competition with web book stores. Not so here, and we could well have stayed there the rest of the day browsing the shelves, but I satisfied myself with procuring a book on the Finnish Air Force that I had been lacking.

Eventually we picked up our bags at the hotel and strolled down to the harbour. Stockholm met us with drizzle when we returned.


Veckans ord: ståndpunk

Sex och rock'n'roll hör ihop och sällan mindre än i ståndpunken.


Veckans ord: knasli

Somliga bestämmelser är helt uppåt väggarna, de har uppenbarligen beretts av myndighetens knasli.


Coolth failure

Visiting my mother I had occasion to watch tv and it so happened that TV6 was running Johnny Mnemonic and I decided to watch. Commercial television, why hasn't it been outlawed yet? Commercial breaks chopping up the plot and I'm pretty sure they actually lost bits of the film, making it even more jarring. Even allowing for that, I was rather disappointed and even more so when I saw that William Gibson himself had written the screenplay, so no corporate script wrangler could be blamed for the results.

The main fault lies in the lack of cool. A major theme in Gibson's cyberpunk works is being cool, and Japanese vatgrown ninjas are the coolest of them all. The Yakuza are maximally inscrutable Orientals with infinite patience. In the original short story there is only one Yakuza assassin and that's because he's so utterly deadly on his own no more are needed—grenade launchers and assault guns are too crude and inelegant to be even contemplated. And Molly (in the film replaced by Jane with uncool shakes for copyright reasons!) shows her übercool by whipping the assassin's ass.

And that the data that Johnny is carrying happens to be the cure to all the world's woes? Please…

I briefly considered the point in having a person carry around data in their head, but to be sure, in many cases moving physical media around is faster than wire transfer and for stolen data it makes sense to hide the data inside the person. But the nosebleed effect of stuffing data in your head? It's not like the memory chip grows bigger with the data, you know…

Then of course, technology marches on and having information being faxed in 2021 made me laugh almost as much as the exhortation “Turn on your VCRs!”. The 320 GiB Johnny crams into his head were still upgraded a thousandfold from the “several hundred megabytes” he carried in the original story. And the virtual reality scenes? Too incoherent, but then Gibson never had a really coherent explanation of cyberspace anyway.


Look out, little snail!

There's an old math exercise with a snail crawling up a flagpost, which I've always thought was strange, but here was a snail on its way up a lamp post, on the next one two more. I wonder what they were looking for.

A snail on a lamp post


Not going gently into that good night

A few days after my visit my father passed away, finally overcome by heart failure and pneumonia.

My father and I never had a good relationship. Perhaps our innate temperaments were not all that different, but if nothing else, the differences between growing up in post-Civil war small-town Finland and 1970s suburban Sweden, betwen surviving new wars and living a laid-back academic life, ensured that we had few, if any, things in common. Possibly I would even strive to increase those differences to mark distance.

With time I came to better understand my father's motivations and the ideals he tried to live up to, but by then I could no longer communicate this to him, as he had descended into dementia. Perhaps it was even necessary for my understanding that I no longer had to keep my protective shields up, that my formidable father was reduced to a frail old man who I no longer had to be angry at but could pity and comfort as best I could.

Now, I am at peace and so is he.


Veckans ord: grisgryn

Fläskfärs = grisgryn.


Unsafe Swedes

I had business in Helsinki and Honeybuns accompanied me. Due to them being slightly cheaper we went with Viking Line this time.

To our surprise we were subjected to a security control on boarding the boat. Other passengers were also surprised, but the officials Orwellianly insisted they had had security controls for a long time. Our bags and jackets were X-rayed. A placard listed a number of items that were not allowed on board, including “sharp objects” (as we weren't metal detected my Victorinox was undisturbed in its pocket), “food obviously to be prepared onboard” (but cold food must be OK) and any alcohol. Yes really, the biggest alcohol purveyor on the Baltic Sea does not allow you to bring any alcohol of your own on board. This was enforced using a sink with sharp spikes where we could see a number of beer cans emptying. What their previous owners had to say about the matter we did not find out.

We had a pleasant journey over and watched the sunset from the top deck. A later attempt to go out and watch the stars was thwarted by the access stairs being closed off. Presumably the company does not want any drunk people stumbling about in the dark. (Wherever they might come from, since the consumption of both shore-bought and taxfree shop-bought alcohol is forbidden—the guy chugging from the 24-pack of beer must have received it straight from the heavens.)

When reboarding the ship after our Helsinki visit there was nothing in the way of a security control. Must be because it is impossible to buy booze in Helsinki on a Saturday. (snort)

On the way back the wind picked up and we got bounced around a bit, but we sailed through and arrived in a calm but cold Stockholm about ten minutes ahead of schedule.

I'm the king of the world!


Veckans ord: intänkter

De som bara kan ta till sig tankar som är tillräckligt inskränkta för att passa deras fördomar har små intänkter.