keskiviikko 29. heinäkuuta 2009


Last winter I bought a small calendar. One of those that stand on the table. It was probably the best thing I have bought in a long time. (Well, excluding my newish purse, which I love!)

This is August:

Best leaders inspire by example. When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well, too.
And this is October:

I want either less corruption or more opportunity to participate in it.

All the pictures are sarcastic, but October holds also personal irony for me, since during the last 15 months I have spend many a day pondering how to prevent and detect corrpution. Or corruption, either one...

And here is November. Sweet, depressing November.

I expected times like this. But never thought they be so bad, so long and so frequent.
On most mornings, I, strangely enough, find energy and drive from these demotivators. "The harder you try, the dumber you look." Yeah, baby, let's look dumb again today!

But on the rare occasion, I think I've had enough of the world and all the cynicism... then I just turn the page around, and feel immediately better.

In case you are not de-motivated enough as it is, and you are in despair how to lower your performance level these might help: you can find the calenders and some other staff from here

maanantai 27. heinäkuuta 2009


I joined a group of Chinese colleagues to a trip to Suzhou (about 160 km from Shanghai, if I am not mistaken). First of all, I had never been to Suzhou. And secondly, I would have taken ANY excuse that would take me away from the exam materials I should have been reading. As a matter a fact. I should be reading the right now...

The trip was overnight, but I chickened out from the over-night part. When you get a return bus-trip (Changshu-Suzhou-Changshu), meals, water park entrance, other park entrance (70 CNY) and a hotel altogether only 300 CNY's (30 euros), something has to be wrong. Or not wrong, but just... you know: when something sounds too good (too cheap) to be true, it usually is. And, I really, really had to study. So I joined with a separate car from Shanghai for the first day.

Water Park was on the menu, and what a day it was for it! Sun was shining from blue sky, and all was well in the world. Well not really, as that was the day J. went back to Finland, but considering the circumstances.

I mainly hanged out with my colleague and his wife, since the rest of the ladies where not really that talkative in English. Big surprise there, not something I anticipated at all. No, because that's just what always seems to happen: everyone speaks Chinese, no matter there is someone who can only guess 50 % of what is being said and is unable to say anything at all :o)

Well, it's partly my fault, I have no problem practicing with people a) I don't know at all b) I know well, but not with people I sort of know but not really. Thankfully I have a great colleague who has a great wife. One of the kids was very interested in me: he kept poking my feet and stared at me mischievously. At the age of 7 he might not have seen that many laowais yet.

But even he forgot me when they got down to the business: splashing and running and jumping in the water.

That big cone-looking thing was a good one!

Can you find an error in the photo? No? Don't worry, there isn't one. But there could have been, have I not been warned in beforehand that bikini isn't really what Chinese ladies wear when they go swimming. They were something to cover their buttocks and their bellies. I didn't have a swim wear that fulfilled those conditions, so I needed a new one. I had about 10 minutes to get it, so I doubt I will ever wear it again. Except, of course, if I try the Shanghai water park, which, I was told, is so much bigger and fancier, but like, crazily expensive. I have no way of guessing how expensive that is. Anyway, I did see one (out of couple of hundred?) yong lady with a bikini in that park, and noone seemed to discriminate her, so maybe I would have been ok in a bikini. Then again, I rose enough attention just by being a foreigner...

It was an ok park, with three bigger slides, wave poold, childrens climing/splashing pool, a river, showers, actual swimming pool and what not. But by noon it was... crowded. Again, totally unanticipated event in China, but that's just what happened. There was a separate "spa" section that required additional 20 RMBs to enter, but provided about 20 small pools: one with rose pedals, another one was filled with milk, another had lemon (essance?) in the water, another was with dead sea effect (salty, makes you float) another with rose wine, and so forth. It was nice: peaceful, only a handful of people, and some contemporary, western music on the background.

And then there was a pool with small fish, which eats the dead skin from your feet. Or any other part of you, depending what you offer them. First few fish come a have a try. Once they have concluded it is all ok, they come by hundreds. I guess. Oh lord. You could not help but laugh, so much did it tickle. I sat there for 4 songs (I didn't have a watch, so I had to measure time by songs) and only then I started to get used to it. I still giggled by myself, but at that point I was able to keep my feet steady. I don't know how much good it did, pedicure-wise, but it was such a good laugh, that I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Now, would I go back to Suzhou for this? Maybe not, as there is suppose to be a better one right here in Shanghai. But it was a nice day and a nice experience. And I am definitely going back to Suzhou for... the wedding district. No, not getting married, but they make the most gorgeous dresses there, for any party, and they say a fancy wedding gown only costs you about 60-100 euros. So a more simple party-dress should really be affordable... I'll keep you posted on that.

keskiviikko 22. heinäkuuta 2009


I would like to start by stating, that the weather has been really clear (and HOT and HUMID) here in Shanghai for the past days. Blue skies every day. And that is not given in Shanghai, with all the pollution and staff. But it has been really good for about a week now. But now to the topic of the day.

Today, Wednesday 22nd of July, about 9:30 in the morning, a "natural wonder" took place. It was "the greatest astronomical event in 3 000 years". The solar eclipse in lasted 6-7 minutes. That is one very long eclipse, say those who are in the know. Longest in the 21st century.

Some people have prepared for this for months. There were several hotels in Shanghai arranging special events to watch the eclipse. And there were trips from Shanghai to the near by island. I didn't plan to do anything extreme, but I purchased special glasses you should use to watch the eclipse and planned to go out to the roof and watch the thing.

That was actually a tough call, 'cause it sure would have been nice to see how people in the less developed areas react: had they heard about the eclipse? Where they freaking out? Anyway, I had no idea where to find people who are totally oblivious of what is going on, so I settled with watching the thing myself.

Anyway, the eastern part of China / Japan are the best places in the world to watch the eclipse. "The Chinese city of Shanghai is being touted as one of the best spots to watch the eclipse, with tourists coming from across the globe to view the phenomenon, during which the sun's corona -- the sun's outer atmosphere -- becomes visible." said
See Shanghai Daily for some good shoots.

Yeah right. From the early morning you could see that the skies were heavy with clouds, even the weather lady at CNN at the same time tried to claim that weather in Shanghai is clear at the moment. It was all a grey, thick blanket. Changes to see anything were... slim. Less than that.

Then, about 15 minutes before the climax, it started raining. Just pouring down. So no roof. No sun. Just darkness. Darkness for 15 minutes. That's all I got. So, all of you in the other continents: you didn't really miss much.
But think about all those solar-tourists...

maanantai 20. heinäkuuta 2009

Good choice

Did you know that as a teenager I thought I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up. A medical doctor. They do valuable work, sometimes even noble. Save human lives in hard conditions. And it is a "good profession" . And they make good money. And I didn't know many things a person could do.

But I never aspired that career. I got a Master's Degree in Accounting and Business Administration instead. Ended up as an auditor. That is SO not what I thought I would become. Even while studying I wasn't one bit of interested in auditing. I didn't really even took the audit related courses. Well, I still wouldn't want to be an external auditor, that's a whole another thing. But hey, good news is, I think it worked out for the best.

Let me tell you why. Firstly, on most days I truly enjoy my work. And still, I learn something new in ever audit. From selling of waste ash to treasury functions, and everything in between. And, my work takes me around the world, and I like that too. Occasionally, I am really really exited about my work.

Which is all swell. But why I really think it worked out for the best is this:

- When I know I have to go give a blood sample, I start to hold my forearms, in the area close to my elbows, to protect the area where they draw the blood. I do it even if I think about blood samples. I am doing it now, too.

- I nearly lost conciousness when a dentist took my wisdom teeth, when hearing the cracking sound of the bone breaking. After the procedure, in home, I was sure I am going to pass out from the blood loss, and J. will not come home before 6 hours later. Don't even get me started how well I handled the eye operation I had last year to correct my sight. The doctor said after the operation she was sure I will pass out in the middle of the thing, so white was my face.

- When I had a tic in my eye in May, I was sure I had a brain tumour (Google was a great help in arriving to this conclusion). I was nervous for a week and then when the panich grew, I went to see a doctor. Turned out I should be just fine, and the tic disappeared pretty soon after that. When my friend, who actually is an MD, had an epileptic seizure for no obvious reason, she was just bummed she could not drive a car for a while. Other than that, business as usual.

- Last time I was in Finland I went to pick up a dress from a seamstress. She, for some reason, started to depict to me IN DETAIL the blood disease her husband had gotten. The way he is bleeding INTERNALLY. How the blood is not coagulating (hyytyä, in Finnish) at all. How the inside of his mouth becomes black. I was standing there feeling horrible while she was finishing my dress. I couldn't run, but I wanted to.

I tried to concentrate on the sweet, soft ears of my dog. That usually helps for anything. But she kept going on and on about the blood. The skin getting dark brown spots, when he bleeds unders the skin... Oh Lord have mercy. Finally the dress was ready and I had to leave running out of the door. I reclined my car seat and sat there for 15 minutes breathing in and out. In and out. In and out. Then I drove home with an open window for fresh air, but still feeling very wobbly. This is one of the most traumatic events in my life. Ok, at least this year.

- But this might be my personal record. I watched the Simpsons, you know, the CARTOON today. Homer was suffering from heart problems. The heart was shown to pump in an erratic, frantic pace. And then he gets a heart attack. And I get dizzy. And nauseous. I have to lie down for a while. I certainly will not watch the full episode.

Now you see what I mean? It all worked out exactly the way it should.

sunnuntai 19. heinäkuuta 2009

Fancy rubber boots

I did not see a single pair of boring rubber boots in Seoul. Look at these: leopard pattern and checked.

tiistai 7. heinäkuuta 2009

Strike, while the iron is hot

Chinese are fast to pick-up business opportunities, that is already known. And I am not sure there is anything as hot as Michael Jackson, right now, business wise. So, couple of chinese made book, a Michael Jackson biography, in 48 hours. An instant book, that's what they call it.
High quality stuff, no doubt.
Jackson's memorial will start in two hours. J., mid-night Beijing time. I guess that must be watched.
Blogging has been a bit slow lately. I have been alone in China since May, but J. is now here, so I've been busy. He is fully and completely jet-lagged, and comes to bed couple of hours before I need to get up. Like 5 am this morning.