Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Easter Holiday

I met up with Morgan, Kristine (schoolmates) on April Fools in an amazing orchestration of airline travel from all corners of Europe to ring in Jessie's birthday on the 3rd. We all crammed in to her tiny place in Espoo and popped in to the city from there. We started things off by snooping around J's school where her class is design-building her winning pavilion design (woot!). Some other light touring ensued, with highlights being an enormous lunch followed by the Rock Chapel which is absolutely mind-blowing. I saw the Rock Chapel the last time I visited Jess, but once again, it's probably the most stirring space I've been in so far. Later that night we celebrated J's birthday party with fellow classmates from the wood program with a Canadian flavour to it including Canadian food, dessert, and tunes. It was great fun.

The following day, J was parked at school tying up loose ends so Morgan, Kristine and I set out to see some buildings by Alvar Aalto. Checked out both the Studio and his residence which I didn't particularly fall in love with, but learned a lot from our tour-guide. After a day's worth of architecture sights, we met up with Jess and celebrated her real birthday over Chinese food and raspberry cake. After dinner we headed out on the town and bravely attempted some Finnish karaoke. Contrary to most karaoke bars, this place doesn't have private booths to sing embarassingly amongst your friends, but rather you're forced to deliver a request to the barman and grab the mic from him when he calls your name. THEN you sing to the whole bar -shudder-. I think you all know I didn't really inherit the greatest voice, and when it came to singing 'Mama Don't Let your Boys Grow up to be Cowboys', 'Desperado', and 'Enter Sandman', it was Jess or Morgan who were pulling the team through. We weren't so much bothered by our highly unevolved vocal skills, but rather the group of karaoke regulars who made everyone sound awful! It didn't matter though, we sang our hearts out and had a great time.

On our last day seeing Helsinki, we took the ferry out to Suomellina Castle which is on an island off the coast of the city, used as a defense against the old Russian enemy. The wind was biting cold coming off the Baltic Sea. We blazed through the place, probably missing about 3/4 of the things to see, but we didn't have much time. On the way back to catching our ferry before grabbing our flight to Dusseldorf, Morgan and I veered off from the pack and snuck in some last minute sights, which -ahem- was ... woooorth it ... but seriously punishable from the girls when we all sprinted onto the ferry at the very last second. This is the most that has been said about that event to date. On that note, we left Finland and onto the Netherlands!

(as always, have a look through the photo album link for all the shots)

Monday, April 16, 2007


The stranger you're gaily chatting with,
It's seven to five that he's a Smith,
That his first name's John, it's six to two,
And it's even money that so are you.
The empires tumble and kingdoms fall,
The Smiths still answer the mating call,
Producing daughters, but mainly sons,
In fours and threes, and twos and ones.
And, yes, it's said with considerable pith
That here is a name to conjure with.
For Smith is simple and Smith is neat.
It can't be fumbled, it's too complete.
In the Hall of Fame or the telephone book,
It's Smith as far as the eye can look.
There's "Gumboat," "Adam" and "Al: and John,"
And the "Village Smith" to continue on.
Remember the brothers "trade" and "mark,"
And "Kate" and the two on Noah's Ark.
The Social Register boasts of Smith.
The hotel register's dotted with
This oddly adaptable, useful name.
Smythe, Schmidt or Smith, it's all the same.
The Jones' struggle, the Johnson's strive.
The Browns lost out in the final drive.
In Dublin, Flanagan pokes at Flynn
And groans "Bedad, the Smiths are in."
From Edinburgh to Aberdeen,
Including the country in between,
MacDougall bows his head in shame,
As do MacTavish, Ross and Graeme,
To Smith, triumphant in any weather.
He rules the shamrock and the heather.
With little ado and loss of clamor,
And never a thought for Margaret Sanger,
He passed the word to his kin and kith,
And the "Emperor Jones " was "Mr. Smith."
In every region, in every nation,
Smith, the genius of infiltration,
Mockingly bows and explodes the myth,
"The name's not legion. The name is "Smith!"

Author Unknown