Pierogies Are Awesome

Posted: 30th August 2010 by Chuck Flysh in New Horizons

Gonna make this a quick one as it’s getting a little late.

Not much to say anyway except that I’ve finally arrived in Joensuu, sitting in a quaint little hostel with free WiFi. Driving down those long Finnish motorways comes close to mediation. Forests, lakes, a few fields, forests with lakes shining through, forests and lakes. There wasn’t much of a freeway, most of it was country roads with little dirt paths forking off into the woods, and sometimes, if you were lucky, a lay-by next to a lake.

Well, maybe not upwards.

Well, maybe not upwards.

Finns seem to have a very laid-back driving style, and mostly going at a mere 80-100kph down the 450km drive from Helsinki to Joensuu cannot compare to the aggressive hassle on the German Autobahn. It also saves on fuel. Whether Finns only have such a relaxed driving style due to the many, many, MANY speed traps that line the way or whether they have their tempomats set to chill, I have yet to find out.

Also, I’m growing fond to the local cuisine, namely the incredibly tasty Karelian Pierogi. Had them for breakfast pretty much each day since I had set foot onto the ferry, and both for breakfast and lunch today. My rating: Extremely nommable. Addictive even. And quite inexpensive as well! Now don’t lecture me about the calory intake of carbs with fat and more carbs. I’ve officially stopped caring. <3

Sarcastic iPod Is Sarcastic (also, Helsinki!)

Posted: 29th August 2010 by Chuck Flysh in New Horizons
Not all too expensive... depends on how much you value your immortal soul.

Not all too expensive... depends on how much you value your immortal soul.

Mhhh. So, after watching a nice sunset over the Baltic Sea (and a nasty wind whipping up my hair), there was not much left to report about my ferry trip. The next day I was greeted by cold rain, and when I finally drove my car out of the ship’s steel belly and onto the freeway, my sound system started blasting Dropkick Murphys’ “Sunshine Highway”. Well screw you too, random iPod playlist.

In the city, I parked my car at the next convenient spot (free parking till 9am, yay) and had a first glance at Helsinki in the rain. I laid my eyes on the Finnish Parliament, the music park (under construction), and walked on the rocky roof of Temppeliaukio Church… with rabbits living in it! Egads!

Didn't get a better shot than that. Them little varmints is quick!

Didn't get a better shot than that. Them little varmints is quick!

A quick stroll through the surrounding area later, and noticing that next to nothing is open at 7.30am on a Sunday, I parked my car near the hostel and went up the Olympia Stadium’s tower to watch the city sprawl below me. Lucky for me that by that time the rain had finally stopped. The route was settled: Finlandia Park, inner city, the port, and pretty much everywhere else my feet would lead me. Now, what struck me most while wearing down my soles was the city’s architectural style. Or lack thereof. I can imagine that architecture-savvy travellers will be quite stricken by the many different styles from many different periods, all right next to each other, and sometimes even on the same building. Just check these little shots:

Come to think of it... architecture blogging would be a cool way to get around the globe. Now all I need is some knowledge on the subject...

Come to think of it... architecture blogging would be a cool way to get around the globe. Now all I need is some knowledge on the subject...

... I think I just outnerded myself.

... I think I just outnerded myself.

Sometimes it’s modern, sometimes Victorian, sometimes industrial and sometimes you have that ugly decaying grey concrete that can only be described as… Soviet. On my aimless walk through the southeastern city, I saw quite a bit of art and sins. Take Kallio Church for instance. Beautiful from the outside, and dwarfing all surrounding buildings on its hill. The inside, however, is as bland as my hostel room. The port, on the other hand, is completely beautiful, and by the time I reached the city proper it was swaming with people to liven the place up a deal. Before, I had seen more seagulls than actual people. Hell, in this city it seems that seagulls think they are people:

Second from the left be pimpin'.

Second from the left be pimpin'.

There's also the yellow super mutant variant... what?!

There's also the yellow super mutant variant... what?!

Johan Ludvig Runeberg, composer of the Finnish national anthem and his feathery friend Runebergull, composer of bird droppings.

Johan Ludvig Runeberg, composer of the Finnish national anthem and his feathery friend Runebergull, composer of bird droppings.

When I saw those streets filled with people, that’s when I realised… they open up their shops on a Sunday! (cue valley-guy speak) And I was like, amagad, I still need a new jacket, like, for Winter and stuff. Because it’s like totally cold here in Finnorwegimark. And they open up shops like on Sundays, so I was like “I’m totally looking for a jacket now”. Even though my hair was, like, all tangly because I had no time to, like, wash it on the ferry. And I was like, amagad, what if they, like, think I’m a drifter… *cough, sputter* Ugh. That is harder to pull off than it looks. Yeh. Well, the point is that even Finns don’t sell winter jackets in August. I found one that was slightly warmer than the rest and affordable, but I doubt it would keep me from freezing to death while watching auroras in Lapland… which does sound like a euphemism for something kinky, come to I think of it.

After a very late lunch in an authentic Finnish restaurant some noodle place, I made my way back through a few shops towards the hostel, longing to send those little tidbits over the ether to you. All in all, Helsinki is, even in rain, a beautiful city by the sea that doesn’t smell like it.

PS: I’ll set up a Flickr account later, for all those pics that our server can’t won’t should not have to handle.

IT Professionals of the Caribbean

Posted: 28th August 2010 by Chuck Flysh in New Horizons

Oh T-Pain, you old loon...
I’m on a ferry motherfucker, take a look at me
Straight flowin’ on a ferry on the deep blue sea
Bustin’ five knots, wind whippin’ my Burberry
You can’t stop me motherfucker, ’cause I’m on a ferry

Now that that obvious reference is out of the way, I think I owe you a little explanation. At this very moment I’m en route from Rostock to beautiful Helsinki, for a Sunday full of awe and wonder, and then on to scenic little Joensuu where I will spend my Autumn semester. Seeing as it’s the in-thing to blog about your happenings in a strange new world, I’ve started a new category going by the name of “New Horizons” where I will blog about my time abroad. I will also retroactively put that category on all my (two) travel-related posts from the past, for your convenience™.

While I’ve made some very uninteresting pics of the ferry’s interior and surrounding sea, the WiFi on board blocks all my attempts to upload them here. For the above pic I had to go some detours and have it saved to a rather unsavoury location outside the WordPress framework by our almighty webmaster. Some smart IT person on board must have blocked all features (even youtube!) that would drag down the WiFi’s performance and make it even more sluggish than it already is. But hey, I’m glad I can post at all.

So, I’ll just have to describe this bucket of bolts to you. As you can see on the pic, it’s the Superfast VIII, a ship of the Tallink-Silja fleet, that is so incredibly lighting quick that the trip from Rostock to Helsinki only takes… 28 hours. We cleared Rockstock port at 2am German time, which meant sleeping through most of the coastal view. I’m glad I shelled out an additional €40 for a shared cabin. The people staying in the deck seat area did look all but rested. And smelling some of them, I guess my sleep wouldn’t have been as tight next to someone down there… the other gents in my little 4-bed cabin, however, are pleasant enough. Two of of them actually didn’t show up last night. Kinda weird, come to think of it.

Food is okay-ish. A bit too expensive, but I guess that’s what you can pull off, if you have the on-board monopoly. The cakes we had for lunch however… mouthwatering. Let’s see what dinner has in store. Not much else to do here anyway, except maybe to stare out at sea and write; either silly blog posts or that nagging little paper that despite all my efforts did not cave in and write itself. They never do. Had a nice talk during breakfast with a German Professor, who took up teaching in Tallin. Judging from his tales, it seems I need to put Estonia on my map of “places to check out at some point” as well. Or Tallin, at least.

Well, that’s all for now. Tomorrow will be all about my sight-seeing adventures in Helsinki. Let’s hope that hostel has some free WiFi for me to pepper my post with some flavour pictures. Till then, moi moi!

Testing My Luck

Posted: 13th August 2010 by Chuck Flysh in Murphy's Law

Hello, my ghastly entourage. And to those who would not consider themselves ghastly… try harder! It is Friday the 13th all over the world and yada-yada-superstitious-hogwash. In fact, it does not matter how your day has been so far. Because, finally, you may consider yourself lucky!

The last month provided quite a bit of a hassle and procrastination for me at the same time. Apart from work and university, StarCraft II held me in its Ultralisk-like claws, giving me the guilty pleasure of wasting away in front of the screen for a few hours again. Well, wasting away in front of the screen doing something else than writing texts or fooling around with illustration software. God, that screen is shiny. And yours will shine as well, as soon as you lay your eyes upon a new (well, old remade) episode of Murphy’s Law!

Murphy's Law - Chapter 1, Episode 2
Welcome back to Murphy’s Law, now available in my usual slow update cycle. In this episode, we follow Corporal Florian Pleathers as he tries to hit up Detective Debjit Murphy. Irony ensues.

Well, what can I tell you about this one? Redesigning Pleathers was something for which I needed a sketch first. Going free-hand in Illustrator is nice, but I fail quite a bit at recreating my personal style without some reference material. The mission was clear: New Pleathers should be even more loatheworthy than the original one. From Murphy’s point of view, anyway. Basically I went with a weak chin, huge bulbous forehead and one of those 90ies gel’d up short haircuts. You know the one. Further abuse testing of their social interaction will show whether that works out visually.

As for the ranks, I’ve had a few switcheroos after reading up on American Police Ranks. Not really informed any more on that topic now than I had been in the beginning, but immensely more confused, I demoted the Chief down to Captain, as I hadn’t really intended him to be in charge of anything more than the precinct. But more to that, later. I’ve also made Pleathers a Corporal, complete with two inverted chevrons on his shoulders. I just hope that’s even remotely correct…

Adding the blood proved to be a whole new challenge. Or rather, I avoided that challenge by downloading a number of blood splatter brushes for Photoshop and slapping them onto my Illustration after I had already exported it. So, what you have here is the first post-produced Murphy’s Law comic in history, ladies and gents! Well, okay, apart from those with a sepia tone slapped on. And those where I enhanced the contrast and colours a bit. The first post-produced one I did in Illustrator anyway.

I will let you bask in its gory glory until the next issue hits the digital shelves. In the meantime, I shall ponder whether “splorch” really is a good sound effect.