Archive for 2012

December 31st, 2012

Excellent skiing in harsh weather

We stayed this Christmas with my parents in Polvijärvi. Our aim was to pop over to two local downhill skiing resorts, but the cold weather almost ruined our plans.

It was around -25C two days before Christmas, and the following day didn’t look any more compelling. Fortunately, the weather forecast changed during the night and it was only -17C in Koli, the bigger of the slopes.

Only Aapo (seven years) and myself were brave enough to confront the coldness and we set on our way to Koli — around 50 kilometers. The thermometer of the car showed temperatures around -25C to -30C on the way, and I kept thinking that it must be warmer higher. But nothing changed, it was -26C at the slopes.

We bravely unpacked our gear, bought the tickets, and went up. The slopes were almost empty, in excellent condition, the sun was shining, and there was no wind. It would have been a paradise without the coldness. We were able to make two runs before going inside to warm up, and then again two runs before deciding to have hot cocoa in the café. After that, again two runs and that’s it.

Fortunately, the runs are pretty long (1000-1500 meters) in Koli and we actually spent around two hours there. We could have been longer, but my toes and fingers were killing me. Aapo was fine.

While driving back, I decided that I need to study and find proper equipment for such harsh environment. Warmer socks, better gloves and something for the face. Otherwise I was cool — er, warm.

When we arrived back to Polvijärvi, my dad had heated sauna and oh boy, did it felt heavenly.

November 16th, 2012

The most beautiful flight ever

I visited eZ Systems in Oslo to attend their Nordic Partner Days last Friday. My company, Exove, has been their partner for a couple years.

Anyhow, this post is not about eZ Systems or Exove, but the flight from Helsinki to Oslo. Imagine this. It was early November in Finland, the darkest and most rainy season in northern countries. The flight was bound to leave 7.20, so I had to leave my cozy bed really, really early.

For some odd reason, the sky was completely clear in Helsinki and the sun was rising when the plane taxied to the runway. The sun was just bit below the horizon, so it painted the eastern sky red, orange, and yellow. We flied to west one time zone in an hour, so the sun stayed at the same exact position for the whole duration of the flight.

It had snowed in Oslo and the ground was white, trees were white, and roofs were white. The roads were black, and tree trunks were black. There were no other colours on the landscape at all. Everything was just black and white while the plane descended to the airport. It was like flying over the landscape of an old Chaplin movie.

It was one of the most beautiful sights that I’ve ever witnessed. Very dreamlike and most probably would never happen again. I decided not to take any pictures, as they would have flatten the feeling and I would have less fond memories to cherish.

The partner meeting was excellent, too.

October 20th, 2012

Lego fair in Ilmajoki

I’ve been participating — with my son Aapo, brother-in-law Juha and his sons Onni & Eino — to Lego building fair held annually in Ilmajoki, around 350 kilometers up north from Espoo.

This year was no exception and we spent two days with Legos and other manly things.

Aapo had built a few buildings of his own this year, and he was pretty nervous throughout the preceding week. My younger son Niilo was not so keen to join us — until the very last moment, like 45 minutes before we were to leave towards Ilmajoki on Saturday morning. I’ve never seem him so disappointed when I had to tell that there is no space in the car for him — it broke my heart. Fortunately, four years old seems to have a short memory and he was lured to rent a movie with Sanna. These “big boy” things are pretty handy to help preschoolers to change their mind.

The trip was pretty easy, boys have been growing up it seems, and we were at Ilmajoki without major incidents. Setting up our buildings took half an hour, nothing was fortunately broken badly down on the road. Boys were building new stuff from the bricks provided by organisers and adults were socialising.

We left quite early to have a dinner and sauna in Seinäjoki, the bigger town in the region. Surprisingly enough, we had to wait quite a bit for our table and the boys got to sit in a bar with coke in their glasses — based on their cluelessness, it was the first time for everyone. The food was good and there was plenty of it. The rest of the evening was spent digesting it and we had no further adventures.

The fair opened on Sunday at 12.00, so we killed time by going to the local swimming hall — in which Aapo learned to actually swim! Before Aapo was able to dive, but couldn’t get his head up for breathing and thus the distance he could go was not very long. It didn’t grow exponentially yet, but hopefully soon he’ll be able to swim 25 meters — the official measurement in Finland for ability to swim.

The fair was on the first page of the local newspaper and was crowded when we arrived. We met some old and some new friends, bought self-picked pre-owned Lego bricks by the weight, and had generally good time.

When the clock hit six in the evening, we spent less than ten minutes to pack our stuff, and headed to our car and towards Helsinki. After four hours of intense driving, we were back at home.

Aapo promptly dismantled his buildings on Monday. Mine are still unpacked.

Some photos of the event can be found in my Flickr set.

September 30th, 2012

Busy times

My September has been probably the busiest ever. And I don’t even have a clue why. A lot of small things have for some odd reason packed up and thus I’m been completely swamped.

It probably started from DrupalCon. The event was excellent, seeing a lot of brilliant people in the community, numerous excellent discussions, and huge amount of new business cards. I managed to visit only one session during the conference, and all the other times I was chatting with somebody.

Handling the items postponed by the conference and a couple of trips to Exove’s offices abroad seemingly had enough tidal effect to bury me under a heavy workload.

The start of my sons’ hockey season hasn’t helped, either. I’m the team leader for the team of the older one, and it has surprisingly high amount of work baked in.

Things are calming down now, as today is the first day in September that I’ve been able just to sit back and relax.

August 20th, 2012

DrupalCon in Munich

I’m writing this in my hotel room in MotelOne Sendlinger Tor, Munich. I’m here due to DrupalCon that will begin tomorrow. Today is our booth building day and I’ve got also a couple of meetings — and one telco in half an hour.

As the timetable will be ready hectic until Thursday evening and my flight back to Helsinki, I arrived already on Saturday morning. Early morning — my flight left at 6.35. As I’ve been in the city for three weeks in summer 2010, I didn’t need to waste my time orientating myself. Instead, I walked from shop to shop on Saturday — and with a pure chance visited a shoe store that happened to have pair of sneakers that I’ve been looking for for two years.

Everything commercial is pretty much closed on Sundays, so I visited local museum of modern art. The weather has been really warm, so I spent the hottest hours inside in the hotel and ventured out again in the evening to get some food.

As you’ve probably noticed from lack of updates, I’ve been busy at work and with our holiday cottage project. Exove launched a new website and opened an office to London, so my hands have been full. It seems that I’m able to post only when travelling nowadays…

Anyhow, regarding our Finland travelling that I wrote on the previous entry: we spent one day in Turku, visited the castle where boys were knighted on a tour (highly recommended, albeit in Finnish only), and did some shopping.

In Tampere, we visited Särkänniemi amusement park and the boys were really thrilled about Angry Birds Land. The heart of the land is a big climbing area and they were more interested in it than the rides. I mostly pushed Seela’s stroller and took photos.

The trip was maybe a bit too short, as we missed some shops and other interesting places in both cities, and boys (and parents) got cranky from time to time. Maybe one more night would have solved that.

July 12th, 2012

Holiday travels in Finland

My holiday started on Monday, and during the three weeks I’ll be travelling in Finland. This might be one of the first holidays after the late nineties that I’ve stayed in Finland.

Anyhow, we kicked off the holiday with a family vacation in Holiday Club Saimaa hotel and spa in Lappeenranta, near the Russian border. The town is around three hour car drive away from Helsinki, and hosts surprisingly many high-end boutiques — typical Finnish town has none. This is due to the huge amount of Russian tourists from the St. Petersburg region.

We strolled around for a few hours shopping and then drove to the hotel, another 35 kilometers towards northeast. After queuing quite a bit for the reception, we got the room and went for a plunge in the spa. Seela, our youngest and almost six months olds, was really thrilled with the pools and spent quite some time in the water every day.

The next day, Saturday, was reserved for Loma-asuntomessut (Holiday Housing Fair), as we are planning our own cottage by the lake. It was a fun event, and we took plenty of photos about ideas worth considering.

Then we had a two hour sales pitch about purchasing a timeshare condo. We got our room way cheaper, as we promised to attend to the sales event. It took two hours, and lead to nothing. I’ve participated in a couple of similar pitches earlier, and their sales model makes me suspicious. It is very American, starting with dreaming, keeping the prices hidden until very end, having other people joining in, and so forth. I’d love to see open and transparent discussion about the pros and cons.

After that, we spent both Saturday evening and Sunday morning in the spa. Then we drive, fast and furious, back to Espoo to meet my parents that had arrived to help us to cut some trees at our summer cottage.

That took three days, my hands are still hurting, and there is plenty of trees left for later. But the area looks way nicer.

Yesterday evening we booked hotels in Turku and Tampere for a night in each city. We’ll leave on Saturday morning and return on Monday evening — the programme includes visiting the first official Angry Birds theme park in Tampere. The boys can’t wait.

Spa among nature

Holiday Club Saimaa is a brand-spanking new (opened in 2011) hotel & spa complex located near the Russian border in Southern Carelia province in Finland. The hotel is located at the northern end of the city of Lappeenranta, about 35 kilometers from the city centre.

We had a standard room and it could fit five people without issues — two adults, two kids, and one baby. There was a foldable sofa in the room that fit the kids, and the baby slept between us. The sofa is not suitable for two adults or older teenagers, as it is merely 120 cm wide. The room was spotless and large in Finnish standards.

The spa is grandiose with a lot of different interconnected pools and a couple big waterslides. There are Finnish saunas for both genders included in the ticket price, and there is a “traditional” smoke sauna on the open air deck above the spa building. An additional sauna world is located upstairs. A day ticket costs €5 a person and grants access to four different saunas, well worth a visit for sauna aficionados.

There are two restaurants on the spot, and they are just ok — albeit pricey for the quality of the food served.

June 25th, 2012

Summer plans

Once again, summer is here and soon it is time for annual holidays. The spring has been so busy that I haven’t been able to make almost any plans at all, but now it is a good time.

We boug a summer cottage last week, so one week goes there cutting down the trees and other foliage. The lot has been unattended for half a decade, so there’s plenty to do. My parents arrive for a few days, so I’ll work on the trees with my dad.

Another week needs to be spent in Finland. We have made plans to go to Taivalkoski, to see Sanna’s parents, and then we’ve reserved a short trip to a new spa in Lappeenranta, near Finnish-Russian border.

This leaves one week of my holiday (I’m using only three of the usual four now) for something else, but what? I’ve been dreaming on going to New York, but haven’t been able to actualise the plans. On the other hand, it could be nice not to do anything. Options, options…