A good reason not to learn the Finish language 
Thursday, 23 .February, 2006, 08:19 - English Entries, Finland, Thoughts

"Why do you not learn the Finish language?"

Up till now I only had excuses, when somebody asked this question. My answers sounded like: "I am too often away from Finland, I cannot attend a regular course" or "In my old age it is terrible hard to learn a new language" or "Finns anyhow talk English to you when they hear that your Finish is not perfect - because they are friendly". But let's admit it: if I would put some effort into it, I might at one day learn it. I am just too lazy (surprise surprise).

But then - when you live in Finland, you come across these words that you have no idea what they mean and they just sound great. They sound even - I dare to say it - poetic. Once you speak a language you forget the sound of the words (or can you tell me a well-sounding word in English without first thinking half an hour about it? See!). So the only way to preserve the poetry of a language is to NOT learn it.

Once you arrive in Helsinki, you will hear people talking abuot "Lentoasema" and "Rautatietori" and (one of my favourites) "Elielinaukio". English speakers, I am sorry for you, you cannot pronounce that right from reading it. Germans can, as Finns and Germans pronounce the letters in the same way (with few exceptions).

Nowadays I know what the before mentioned words mean. But there are constantly new ones. Last time I was in Finland I read this on the bus and I could just get wild about its sound - without having a clue what it means: "Valipalapatukka". I assume it is not an isult, as it was part of an advertisement. But even if it would be - I would be glad to be insulted in this well-sounding way.

Valipalapatukka - wow! Who wants to know what this is? You just listen to it, for several hours, again and again. That's for sure much more healthy than yoga!

As a disputed person once said: "It is not necessary to understand. It is enough to adore."

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About: Roger Cohen - "From Islam to Irving: A perfect moral storm" 
Wednesday, 22 .February, 2006, 08:06 - English Entries, Politics, Religion

Todays issue (Wednesday, February 22, 2006) of the International Herald Tribune has a very good summary of some of the currently ongoing events on page two. If you have the chance read Roger Cohens "From Islam to Irving: A perfect moral storm" you should definitly do that.

Unfortunately the International Herald Tribune does not publish this article for free on the web. So, they do not deserve a linke from here (I am sure, that makes them re-think their policy :) ).

Edited Monday, 3rd of April 2006: Finally I found this article online. It is available here.

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First impressions from Paris 
Tuesday, 21 .February, 2006, 22:56 - English Entries, Travel, Photographs

Here are some first impressions from Paris. I'm attending a conference and went out with two friends this evening.

Around Bastille

It's my second visit to the French captiol. The first time was only for 12 hours or so, several years ago. Not sure whether I'll see more this time.

A street Orchestra, underground

Notre Dame

Before the Wine and after (Moose and bear were really present)

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Visiting the High Plains 
Tuesday, 21 .February, 2006, 05:28 - English Entries, Travel, Photographs

Here are some pictures from a short trip through the high plains, that I took on Sunday before leaving back to Europe again.

After taking the I70 east I found an exit that pointed to "Kiowa", which sounded interesting. Kiowa was more than 20 miles and a dusty road away. The best views over the great land I had when driving further west from Kiowa.

The road to Kiowa

I recorded the Trip with GPS and put it on a map with GPSVisualizer, which now also converts the recorded route into Google Earth files. If you do not have Google Earth yet, I really recommend you to install it on your computer. It is free of charge and you can watch satellite pictures of the whole world.

Driving through the high plains -- Show in Google Earth

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Notes and Memories from Denver, Colorado 
Monday, 13 .February, 2006, 12:28 - English Entries, Travel, Photographs

On Saturday afternoon I arrived at Denver, Colorado, where I attend a meeting this week. On Sunday, we took for several hours a trip by car into the Rocky Mountains.

Denver – 16th Street Denver – in front of the Hotel Denver – walking down 16th street
Denver - minus degrees and sunshine.

I was in this region already in September 2001, when the 9/11 attacks took place. Johannes and I at that time drove for over a week through the Great Plains and the Rockies. I remember how I woke up on 9/11 and knocked on Johannes' door, to go for breakfast. He opend and dragged me to the TV. There the first plane had just flewn into the World Trade Center. We did not know what to make out of this situation. Few minutes later we were sitting down at the breakfast room, together with other guests - I think all of them were Americans and we stared at the screen of the TV there. When the towers were still standing I remember one man asking "I wonder when the WTC can re-open again". I know, it's a stupid memory, but on the other hand it also describes how clueluess everybody was at that moment.

Later that day, we were driving into the Great Plains, listening to the radio. I will never forget that. The tremendous land, stretching further out than anything I had ever seen, buildings appearing somewhere in the far distance and growing very slowly out of the flat land, and the reports and interviews on the radio. Obviously nobody had an idea what would happen next. Nobody had a clue what this all means for the future. During the afternoon the name Osama Bin Laden could be heared more and more often. A general said "We must pulverize their cities" and meant a not-yet defined enemy. Othere pleged to not run into a war, without knowing for sure who should be fought.

During the following week we drove through the mountains. It was autumn and the leaves of the birch trees were all showing a warm yellow color. The whole land seemed just to glow in this color - at least that is how I remember it. Whilst the political situation became clearer and first actions were taken, speeches were held, we drove through moutain towns where the roads were lined with US-flags.

Hoosier Pass View from Hoosier Pass on Mount Lincoln
Hoosier Pass
The usual tourist photos

These things came back to my mind, since we landed here. When driving through the moutains again the landscape had not lost any of its magic. It is winter now, the birch leaves and most of the flags have gone but the impression of greatness is everywhere. And the view on the flat land, when going back from the Rockies to Denver, just opens eyes and heart. I grew up next to the moutains and never was too fond of them. Maybe I felt they block the view to something more interesting. Anyhow - you'll never satisfied with what you have. Here, in Colorado, it is also the sharp natural line that is drawn between plains and the mountains, the contrast between a land that looks endless to a human eye and the roads that guides you between high mountains to their top and down again.

No, it was not <em>that</em> cold.
No, it was not that cold. (Seen in a restaurant on the way)

It's four o'clock in the morning now. The time difference is still playing its games with me. But that's ok. The meeting starts in five hours. As long as there is a good breakfast before that, even that might be ok.

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