Last night we went downtown Helsinki to take a tour. Finland appears to be a pretty amazing place. Here are some things that I learned:
1. Finland has about 5,000,000, of which 1,000,000 live in the greater Helsinki area. 2. There are only 17 people per km^2 in Finland. That is a pretty low population density. 3. Pretty much everyone owns a sauna. 4. And a boat. 5. And they all go to some island like twice a year (how is that for vague?) 6. May 1 is a holiday in which all of the college students come out and wash the statue of the naked lady in the main square (I sh*t you not). They even have invented this lift thing that raises them up to the statue's level. Maybe she is just hotter than you can tell from the window of the bus....??? 7. Sibelius is about the most famous Fin. There is a pretty cool monument to him in Helsinki. 8. They have good ice cream at the ice cream stand by the beach. You know the one? 9. The tour lady says that they have good ice cream because Italians moved up to Finland and opened an ice cream factory a long time ago. Yet another powerful piece of information. 10. The trolley costs 2 euros, and you can ride it for an hour. I think of that as expensive, but everyone else was, like, that is cheap ($3 for a bus is cheap???) And, if you get on the trolley without paying, and they catch you, it is an 80 euro fine. Wow. Yike. 11. They have beer stands in the middle of town in Helsinki. You buy a beer and sit down (or walk around) and drink it! 12. The Swedes controlled Finland for a long time (something like 700+ years). 13. The Russians controlled Finland for about 100 years. 14. They liked the first Russian leader (Alexander, I think), but hated the rest. So they built a statue to him and rubbed the statue in all of the other's faces, saying "why couldn't you be like him?" Nice. 15. Kids in Finland are required to take 2 foreign languages - one of which has to be Swedish (if your native tongue is Finish) or Finish (if your native tongue is Swedish). Which leads to... 16. Both Finish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland - every street is labeled in both Finish and Swedish. 17. Only 5% of the people in Finland speak Swedish natively. Which makes all of the street signs a little silly, if you ask me (which you didn't). 18. Finland was on the losing side of WWII. I had forgotten that. 19. There is a lot of meat and potatoes eaten in Finland. Even for lunch. And sometimes for breakfast. 20. The president of Finland is a lady. Our tour guide pointed this out. She also pointed out that when the president goes to a sauna no one seems to give a crap, but when a rock star or a soap opera star goes to the sauna everyone is googley-eyed. I guess we have more in common with Finland than just meat and potatoes.
Well, that was some good bits-o-info.
And with that, I bit you good night (or good mid-day, what ever time-zone you may be in).
Did you know that the internets are so smart that they can magically detect where you are and serve everything to you in your native language? When you go to a foreign country, say Finland, The Google gives you everything in some crazy language (what language do you people speak here??? It's crazy, whatever it is!) And another thing - English should be near the top of all 8 languages when telling people how to dial the telephone or hang your towel up in the bathroom, not near the bottom. Do you not know that America rules??? And yet one more thing - where is the Mt. Dew? I am dying here!
So far, I have not seen very much of Finland. The meeting that we are having has gone on all day, and we are in the middle of nowhere with no car, so it is difficult to go see anything. But, flying in, Helsinki looked pretty cool. The are lots of little islands off the coast, and it is quite beautiful. Tonight we are taking a bus ride downtown, which should be quite nice. I forgot my camera (what an a**), so I have to ask people to give me some pictures.
Crab update - Mrs. Crab is still on the front lines with the combs and Crab-boy may be finger maimed for the rest of his life ("and this scar is from when my parents didn't take me to the emergency room to get stitches and the cut just kept bleeding and bleeding....") Ahhh, there is no guilt when I leave my family.
Two more days of the Tour! Who is going to win? We are all biting our fingernails! It looks like it will come down to the last time-trial tomorrow morning! Ok, really, can anyone actually name a single person in the Tour this year? Sastra is in Yellow. Christian Vandevelde is the best ranked American at around 6th place, but he is a few minutes down. Cadel Evans is most likely going to win. Today is a fast forward day....
In case you care (which I am sure that you do not), the average speed for today is around 28 MPH. Ok, I can go 28 MPH also - with the wind at my back and going down hill. They went 28 MPH for 125 miles! Holy crap!
Crab-boy cut his finger today. Blood everywhere. At first he was only shocked. Then we got the band-aid on him, and he was relatively fine. When we got home, I took the band aid off, since he was complaining that it was too tight and his finger tip was turning purple (am I a bad dad for making his finger fall off???) This is when the bad stuff happened.... (those of you with weak constitutions, stop reading here.) Band-aid comes off, blood gushes everywhere, boy cries out ("It hurts! It hurts!"), I panic. Water only makes it hurt worse. Wash cloth seems to do nothing against the torrent of red. So, I quickly throw another Neosporan (crappy spell-checker doesn't even know how to spell Neosporan, or whatever) laced band-aid on the boy, and things settle down for a couple of minutes. Only problem is that there is too much blood and water and crap to allow the band-aid to stay on properly. So, we get a better band-aid, and Crab-boy bravely takes the other one off (Holy-Crap!) There is actually no bleeding now (Yeah Neosporan!!), but the next band aid goes on quickly (and tightly!)
Crab-boy goes to sleep just fine after reading a little "Fun in the Sun" to me.
Hopefully he is asleep. Could he be passed out from lack of blood? Oh crap, I better go check!
Today was a day of ups and downs. Crab-boy spent the night at the neighbors a few nights ago and has been a crab-a** for the last few days due to a complete lack of sleep. I set out to be a great father today, and seemed to fail miserably. I suggested that we all go to on a canoe trip (well, the kids and I - Mrs. Crab was at work). Crab-girl loved the idea, but Crab-boy wanted nothing to do with it (could it be because his sister want too? Hmmmm, we will never know.) So, we agreed to go to Jump-Zone, which is something like a big open space with a bunch of jumpy things in it. The bad news - it was closed! Holy crab! Turns out Jump-Zone is only open from 10 AM - 1 PM. What????
Next we go to Jungle Java - picture children running around through hamster habitrails, while parents sit around drinking coffee and working on their laptops. The kids start up the slides, and I got my computer ready for a couple hours of uninterrupted coding. Well, 2 minutes later, an announcement comes on that they need all of the kids to exit the habitrail. Turns out that they have to do some work on the electrical coming into the building and they need to turn the electricity off for a few minutes (only a few!) So, they want all of the kids to come out, so when the lights go off, they won't be afraid. So, we sit there waiting for about 30 minutes or so for the lights to go out, all the while mini-Crabs asking why can't they play on the slides? "We won't be scared!!!" I agree - they won't be scared. But what can you do - the manager won't let them play. So, after the lights go out, we figure a few more minutes. Wrong! 30+ minutes later, we just left.
We then have to run some errands, which makes everyone happy. BUT - I bought them the original Batman Movie (Adam West!) which they really love. It is so freaking campy. I love it.
Then - joy of joys, we have to do-louse our house! We learned last night that the neighbors kids have lice. Yikes! It turns out that the mini-Crabs have lice too! The first thing we try to do is give Crab-boy a haircut. He screams. He yells. He cries. He gets his hair cut. Then he informs us that he is not going to let any one see his hair until it grows back. Crab-girl offers to let her get cut (about 5 inches - shoulder length now!)
After all of the hair cutting, we did the shampoo crap. That was super fun. Then, showers for everyone. Sheets washed. Stuffed animals onto big bags. Vacuum everything (sorry Mrs. Crab). Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, all lice is gone, gone, gone.
Crab-boy and I went and helped another researcher install a magnetometer out in the middle of nowhere. We helped put a 200 foot cable through a bunch of conduit, then buried the conduit. Luckily, someone had dug the trench (Bob!) before hand. But, we still had to fill it in, then make sure the mag was working properly and such. It was a pretty good day.
Lunch at Wendy's. Crab-boy's choice.
Once that was done, we headed over to our "summer house", to get a radon mitigation system installed. They were 2 hours late, and only took 2 hours to install it. Nice guys, though. Just wished that I have remembered my laptop, so I could actually get something done, instead of sitting around with my thumb up my blackberry.
We call it our summer house, since we own two houses, and can't seem to sell the second one. It is a great house, and we finally (cross your fingers), have a buyer who is "willing" to take it off our hands, and we will only lose about $12K on the deal. Like, bring $12K to the closing. That sucks the big one. It's not like we bought the house while the housing market was flying high or anything, it has just dropped so freaking low in this great state that I live in that you can barely give the house away (or pay someone to take it off your hands!!!) The realtor asked me today if I was happy to be done. I am relieved to be rid of the house (if it actually goes through), but am I happy that I have to pay someone to buy my house that I have spent a huge amount of time fixing and calling my own? No. I am not. I wish the world was fair (how pathetic is that statement? Some people may argue that the world is fair, and I am a bastard who is getting what they deserve - you be the judge. If I am a bastard, dial 888-259-bas1, if I am not a bastard, dial 888-259-bas0. Or just post a comment that I am a bastard.)
Well, crap. It is late. Mrs. Crab just stopped snoring, so it is safe to go to bed.
Mrs. Crab has been working in Flint for the last couple days, which make me in charge of the little crabs. Crab-girl is going to a summer camp this week, while crab-boy is staying at home. It makes me realize how much easier it is to totally ignore a 10 year old than a 7 year old. He is constantly wanting attention, and not wanting me to actually work. I mean, come on.
I guess the main problem is that I am pretty freaking busy at work, and I have a hard time letting go of my outrageous stress. And the fact that crab-boy has no idea how irritating it is to be asked if he can go play with the neighbors 162,347 times in 3 minutes. He also doesn't want to go run a bunch of errands. Enter my rage.
Here is where the dumb-ass part of me comes out. Mrs. Crab and I call me "Dr. Dumass".
I should just abandon my want, no, my desire, to actually work. I should spend time with my son, building with Legos, going for a mini bike ride, or playing a board game, or something. Or, just let him play video games and watch Pokemon all day long (what he really wanted to do!)
Well, tomorrow, he is going to Grandpa's house. Let's see if he can get Grandpas to play with him!
I promise that Thursday I will be a better dad. Unless I am not.
Sundays are strange days. Sort of lazy, sort of busy. Many Sundays start out slow, like today. The mini-crabs and I watched Spiderman 3 this morning. I gotta say, the movie sucked. I just kept wondering when it would end. Crab-boy liked it a lot, since he is a superhero fiend. Yesterday, he dressed up as Batman pretty much the who day. He watched most of the movie wearing his Batman cape and sunglasses (don't ask what the sunglasses were for - no idea). Crab-girl didn't really give an opinion. Mrs. Crab was not present. She typically likes to spend Sunday mornings reading or spending a little time on her own.
After the movie, Mrs. Crab went to work for a bit, while I tortured the kids. Discovered a good way to get the kids to clean their room - bribery. $0.50 for a clean room. Not a bad deal. Since it would take me 30 minutes to clean each of their rooms, $0.50 is a steal. Crab-girl organized her PlayMobile, taking about 90 minutes to put it all away. Crab-boy discovered a great way to streamline the process - he put most of the stuff from the floor into the garbage can. When I asked him about it, he said that "Mommy did it, so why can't I?" Needless to say, we had to put that crap away ("Do I still get $0.50???"). While they cleaned their rooms, I vacuumed. We have hard wood floors, so we use a shop-vac for this wonderful task. Did I mention that we have a dog? That sheds? A lot? We also live on a dirt road, with a dirt driveway. So we get a lot of dirt in the house. Dirt and dog fur. Man, I love that crap.
Lunch. Stale bagel with peanut butter. Yum! Stale bagels are a staple in our house. I gotta say, though, that a stale bagel from a real bagel place is better than a store-bought bagel that is pumped full of crap. We used to get those types of bagels all the time. Man, they last forever. Literally. Now it is stale bagel heaven. Alright, not really heaven. Toasting it helps. Microwaving helps.
Crab-girl has serious food issues. For the last few years, it was nothing but three cheese tortellini, chicken nuggets, and hot dog buns (NOT hot dogs!). In the last couple of months, she has broadened her horizons a bit, but it is slow going. So, for her, stale bagel with cheddar cheese is pretty much IT for lunch. Every day. Every freaking day.
Crab-boy is much more adventurous. Stale blueberry bagel with butter. Open faced.
Then, it was a little forced school work (I have probably not said this yet, but I am a real jerk). Crab-girl did a timed multiplication test. Only missed one - 8*10=88 ("I though it was 8*11!!!"). Crab-boy had to read me a book (Drip-Drop - a classic). I read every other page, and helped with many word. We are hoping to get Crab-boy reading pretty well before the end of summer.
Next, a little work outside. Some digging to trench out a path for water to get away from the house. We have had a butt-load of rain lately, so we discovered that the trench that I dug before wasn't long enough. Mrs. Crab got a rain chain for her birthday (as one of our friends said - "you got your wife a gutter for her birthday???"), so it was good timing to do a little trench work. Crab-boy helped out a bit. He gathered a bunch of rocks and helped fill in the trench with rocks and gravel.
Mrs. Crab comes home. We all go outside. I mow the weeds. Literally - we have no grass, it is just weeds. The only thing I am really accomplishing is keeping the thistles at bay. I mowed around the garden a bit, which helped. Mrs. Crab did a little gardening. She has set up a great garden. We have all sorts of crap! I might have to actually start eating vegetables. Blerg.
Kids washed their bikes and sprayed each other off with well water (55 degrees!) Crab-boy shows me some great moves on his bike - he gets going, then stands up on his seat (holy sh*t!). I try not to scream at him. I try. The solution I come up with - "Well, if you don't mind falling off you bike and landing on your head, I guess you can do it...." - Crab-boy taps his helmet and says "that's why I wear this!" This is what he learns from his old man?
Dinner of chicken (organic, free range - as if the wife would let me buy anything else...), sugar snap peas (yes, locally grown), trader joe's baked beans (yes, organic), and lemonade (Ha! From concentrate!) Crab-girl eats the chicken (with ketchup), and tries the rest (miracle!). Crab-boy eats most. I eat the peas (another miracle).
Another miracle - I do the dishes after dinner. Mrs. Crab puts the kids to bed. Then, off to the store to get some brown sugar. Home, then make some cookies for camp tomorrow. Must have dessert in the lunch box. If you have to suffer through stale bagel in a lunch box, there better be a cookie. I make oatmeal chocolate chip. With a touch of peanut butter. That is some good crap.
Mrs. Crab comes down stairs and we finish the dishes. You may get the impression that we actually do the dishes a lot. Not true. Mrs. Crab does the dishes a lot. I dry them about 25% of the time. I am a poor excuse for a dish washing husband. But I make up for it in other ways. Trust me.
After dishes and other crap, we retire to the basement to play on our computers and watch a little Tour de France. I gotta say, this Tour sucks. I am not rooting for anyone, so I just watch and see what happens. It is not very much fun when you don't give a crap who wins. The sweat thing about this tour is that the two American teams are kicking ass. A word of advice about watching the Tour - TiVo it. Then watch the first 3/4 of the stage on fast forward - but watch closely for the crashes. Then, when the final climb or the final sprint takes place, watch in detail. I can't imagine watching the flat stages without TiVo. Holy crap would that be boring. The only reason the Tour has flat stages is really just to beat the crap out the bikers and soften them up for the mountains.
Well, Mrs. Crab already left the room, and went up to get ready for bed. With 2.5K to go. It's like she doesn't care who wins! I should have fast forwarded a little bit longer.
How many times does Paul Sherwin say "Completely and utterly" in the three weeks of the tour? Many, many times.
I love music. Here is a little bit of what I really love:
When I was but a wee child, I really liked 80s alternative rock stuff. Like New Order, Depeche Mode, OMD, etc. I guess I should confess, my first album was Cindi Lauper's She's So Unusual. But my favorite group was The Police. Ghost in the Machine is one my perfect albums. Wait, I almost forgot, my sister introduced me to many, many groups - Run DMC, The Bee Gees, Price, Egyptian Lover (ha ha!!!), Abba, etc.
In High School, I fell into a little White Snake. My mother was horrified. I mean, holy crap, I had a White Snake poster! Wow.
Then, I saw some of the light. I got a Pink Floyd album late in high school. It was something like a best of tape. Still didn't quite see the light, though. I listened to The Wall for the first time in college. And the Black album by Metallica. College. Can you believe it?
I guess everyone and their brother listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Alice in Chains. Smashing Pumpkins. Well, I bet you didn't listen to Underworld. Maybe you listened to Ministry? I did. Jesus and the Mary Chain.
Post College. Let's see. Uh.... More Underworld. They turned techno. Love the techno crap. But it needs more than just the beat.
And then I became angry. Metallica, Metallica, Metallica. Maybe a little Tool. Rage Against the Machine. Really, f*cking angry. Like, Stigmata off of Ministry's Live album is just about right.
Ok, at the same time that I had been very, very angry, I listened to a lot of other, more mello, stuff. Like Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel. Oh, I listened to Phil Collins a bit too. Genesis - Nursery Crymes is one of the best albums made.
Now what do I listen to? Pretty much the same thing as always. Lately I have been listening to Guano Apes, Flyleaf (chics rock!), Bach's Cello solos (but only when we are eating dinner), and Metallica's concerts (how cool is it that they make their concerts available on the web?).
What is my number one trait? That is really hard. Wow. Let's see, uh. No, that's probably not a good first trait. Hmmm..... I got it. I am a dad. I have two beautiful kids, ages 10 and 7. They are the best kids around, if I don't say so myself. No, really, they are fantastic kids. And I am a pretty good dad. They are the joys of my life. I am also married.
I am a professor at the University of Michigan. I teach all sorts of crap. Good crap, not bad crap.
Crap is one of my favorite words. We should just get that out there in the open. Crap = good word. Blerg. Now that is another word that I love. Blerg. You really just can't say it enough.
I like lists. I am a list man. I am constantly making lists. Lists lists list. I sometimes add things to my lists just so I can get cross them off. It is sick. And twisted. That reminds me, I should make a list of all the sick and twisted things about myself. I'll add that to my to-do list.
I am very busy. Pretty much all the time. I over commit myself, then get totally stressed out. Fun fun fun. I need to get the word 'No!' tattooed to my forehead.
I love to bike. But I don't have the time. I work and travel and spend time with the kids and other crap. I keep meaning to bike more. Lose some weight. I am not fat - just need to lose a few (well, maybe 20) pounds.