A Finland Swede in Bavaria

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Running totals for 2008: 1382 km, 123 hours, 11,2 km/h

My personal running totals for 2008 are at a record high. Increased training paid off:

  • I made a new personal marathon record at 3:55:22 in Finland 16.8.2008

  • I made a new personal half marathon record at 1:45:58 in Munich 29.6.2008

  • I ran a total of 1382 km (plus 10 %)

  • I ran a total of 120 times (almost every third day)

  • I ran over 100 km every single month

  • I increased my average speed from 10,8 km/h to 11,2 km/h (plus 4 %)

  • I spent over five days of 2008 on the run (123 h 4 min 8 s), which amounts to 0,95 % of the year

  • I ran 82 times around Isarwehr in Munich, 13 times around Sellmo in Nagu, Finland and 21 times elsewhere

    Month      km                   Time  km/h       min/km  Ct
1 January 108 km 108 km 9:43:23 11,2 km/h 5:22,8 10
2 February 107 km 215 km 9:32:04 11,2 km/h 5:21,6 9
3 March 107 km 322 km 9:27:59 11,3 km/h 5:19,8 12
4 April 118 km 440 km 10:30:18 11,2 km/h 5:20,0 12
5 May 115 km 555 km 10:20:15 11,1 km/h 5:24,1 10
6 June 139 km 694 km 12:12:30 11,4 km/h 5:16,0 11
7 July 129 km 823 km 11:15:16 11,5 km/h 5:13,1 11
8 August 113 km 936 km 10:17:29 10,9 km/h 5:29,1 7
9 September 117 km 1 053 km 10:40:17 11,0 km/h 5:28,3 10
10 October 116 km 1 169 km 10:11:38 11,4 km/h 5:16,3 10
11 November 107 km 1 276 km 9:13:23 11,6 km/h 5:11,1 9
12 December 107 km 1 382 km 9:39:36 11,0 km/h 5:25,8 9

2008 1 382 km 5,1 d 11,2 km/h 5:20,5 120

Blue = 2007, green = 2008: Consistently over 100 km/month!

In my blog entry about the 1259 km I ran in 2007 I set these goals for 2008:
For 2008, I look out to run more and faster than 2007, and to be able to support more mountaineering, more snowboarding, and perhaps a “trans Alp” on a mountain bike. Whether I’ll go for my fifth marathon somewhere remains to be seen.

I still haven't biked the trans Alp, but I made the other items beyond expectations! If things go on this way, I will soon consider myself a former coach potato. But perhaps I had better not pursue such a thought, since then I might risk stop running.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Russia serves kajsher food at Elki Palki

Ёлки Палки means "firs poles", if you believe Google Translate. In this case, I don't.

But Elki Palki is an excellent place for kajsher food. "Kajsher" refers to my self-imposed dietary guidelines, which involve low fat, no excess sweetness, and avoidance of red meat, all while maintaining good taste. Basically, what I consider to be healthy food. Fish and vegetables made without unnecessary fat (steamed, grilled) are excellent examples of kajsher food, sushi is another.

After this self-indulgent description of food I enjoy, let me say that Russia is a place which nowadays very much complies with my wishes. This is what I had at Elki Palki today, at Domodedovo Airport, before heading home to Munich: Salmon, more salmon still, boiled vegetables, raw carrots, dark bread, some kvass to drink.

Good visual appearance; the decoration may indeed be made of fir poles

The food is easy to pick without knowing Russian

Clean surroundings

Monday, 1 December 2008

Moo-moo: Russian fast food

This blog post is dedicated to fellow Moscow visitor Zack Urlocker, with whom I strolled along the Arbat in Moscow, just when Zack had taken over MySQL Engineering in 2006. We quickly identified an outlet of the Russian fast-food chain Moo-moo. The black and white pattern is supposed to look like a cow. The Russian spelling "My-My" has nothing to do with MySQL.

Today, I passed another Moo-moo outlet, but resisted the temptation to enter.

I have shared some other experiences from this trip in Russian and in Swedish. In Swedish, I've described the very comfortable train ride from Helsinki to Moscow and the challenging local transport with the subway from the railway station to the hotel. In my own (and Google Translate's) version of Russian, I just managed to write about the train journey.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Dress code at airports

Airports are great for observing how people dress, even for somebody only moderately interested in fashion, like me. (I am hard to convince to go buy clothes, unless we're talking about a new top for my wife and we're passing the shop anyway).

Today when leaving Kiev, I saw a fascinating choice of colour. It is fairly close to the prejudice from 20 years ago in Finland, about what people would wear in what was then called "the Eastern Block". I wouldn't mention that, if it weren't for the fact that most of those countries are now more fashion conscious than Finland ever was. Just make a comparative study of contemporary Estonia and Finland.

I was reminded of the even more fascinating fashion I had noted in Turkey in November. For particularly festive occasions, male Turkish travellers seem to go on group travel dressed in white towels! I saw some of them in Istanbul in June, and now ieven more of them in Ankara. Hordes and hordes of them in the passport queue. I managed to shoot a snapshot of two of these. I am sure there is a perfectly good reason for travelling in bathtowels, and I have to confess that I am curious to know what that reason is, and where they're going.

But who am I to judge. I haven't even had the common sense to go get a haircut, for a while.

Out of Ukraine: On sequential interpretation, non-smoking and "Europe"

This was my third time in Ukraine. I had been in Ukraine in August 2000, and in March this year. Compared to earlier times, this visit had about 100% less tourism and quite a bit more business interaction.

I had the opportunity to talk to Ukrainian Sun customers, presenting for the first time since many years using sequential interpretation. I say something, и переводчик переводит мне, and then I say something else, который является также перевод переводчик. You get the picture. It provides for some advantages:

  • it gives the audience two chances of getting the message

  • it gives the speaker time to think about what to say next

  • it gives the speaker a fair chance of catching at least some of the incorrect translations

  • it saves cost (no electronic gadgets needed)

  • it ensures that the speaker won't speak so fast as for the simultaneous interpreters to lose half of the message

The obvious disadvantage of sequential interpretation is that it takes more time than simultaneous interpretation.

A private observation: I would hope for a quick adoption of Ukraine into the EU, and EU wide non-smoking legislation. Now that even Germany smells good, it's time also for the rest of Europe to stop inducing unnecessary headaches to innocent bystanders, to provide for the undisturbed enjoyment of food, and to promote the freedom to breathe. (Ne paliti in Ukrainian = ne kurit in Russian).

Another private observation: Ukraine and Finland have several things in common (beyond having Russia as a neighbouring country). One of these commonalities is referring to the rest of Europe as "Europe", as if we weren't part of it ourselves. "I will travel to Europe". "When were you last in Europe?". That wording was more prevalent in Finland 10-20 years ago, so perhaps there is hope for both of our countries to be slightly less self deprecating over time.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Purging love padlocks in Riga increases Latvian divorce rate?

Before (22.9.2008)After (12.11.2008)

Less than two months after the MySQL Developer Meeting in Riga, I had the opportunity to visit Riga again. And to my horror, I discovered that the love padlocks I had admired last time were gone!

The idea of love padlocks, according to Giuseppe Maxia, started in Rome. They are described by Wikipedia as follows:
Love padlocks are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolise their love. [...] Similar customs exist in Riga, the capital of Latvia, where married couples clamp padlocks on the railings of a bridge and throw the key into the lake below.

Horror! The love padlocks had been cancelled, deleted, purged, removed! What will this mean for the divorce rate in Latvia?

I got further melancholic moments walking through Riga, all alone, without fellow MySQLers who made the prior visit so fun. Here are a few pictures that I took during a late mid-November afternoon in Riga:

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: A Tour of the Three Baltic Countries

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the three Baltic countries for Sun Microsystems, talking about MySQL powering the Web economy. The tour started on Monday and Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania, followed by Riga on Wednesday and Tallinn on Thursday. Many similarities between the countries, which are externally often seen as one unit and which internally sometimes view each other as siblings.

I was joined during the trip by Dutch Sun colleague Martin de Jong, who observed that each of the countries have a larger area than the Netherlands, whereas the combined .lt .lv and .ee population isn't even half of that of the Netherlands.

But the economic importance of the Baltics is increasing. The Sun Microsystems activities are being managed through Sun Finland, whose country manager Hannu Nyländen accompanied Martin and myself through most of the tour.

I'll offer some country specific observations, but let me start by saying that the countries don't share a mutually intelligible language. While Lithuanian and Latvian are related and share some words, they are at least as far apart as German and English. They're both very old Indo-European languages, with Lithuanian being the older one, with one well-informed Vilnius attendee claiming close relationship between Lithuanian and Sanskrit. Estonian isn't Indo-European at all, but related to Finnish. Probably a bit closer to Finnish than German is to English (but quite a bit more distant than, say, Danish is from Swedish). At any rate, this leaves young Baltic people speaking English to each other, a bit older ones speaking Russian, whereas a generation or two prior to that, many would likely have spoken German to each other.

The trip started in Vilnius. Sadly, long-time MySQL colleague Domas Mituzas was in the US, so I didn't meet with him. Instead, we were hosted by Sun Microsystem's local Business Development Manager Rolandas Kymantas, who had gathered perhaps 60 Lithuanians into Reval Hotel Vilnius, where the venue was held.

I was very challenged to give the first five minutes of my speech in Lithuanian, as pronunciation is non-trivial and the stress was very challenging, on a par with Russian.

To continue my habit of writing blogs in languages I don't speak, I started a blog also in Lithuanian. The blog is at http://blogs.arno.fi/laisvas_zodis/, where Laisvas žodis means (or at least is supposed to mean) "Free speech".

The second destination was Riga, familiar to many MySQLers from our Developer Meeting two months ago. Here, we were hosted by Evijs Taube, Sun's Business Development Manager for Latvia. The event was in Reval Hotel Riga (the one with the bar on the 26th floor), and coincided with the Latvian Open Technologies Association's event. LATA (for Latvijas atvērto tehnoloģiju asociācija) and its sponsors (among them Sun) had managed to collect a whopping 350 participants to the event.

I was happy to note that my attempt at speaking Latvian was greeted by the audience. One attendee, Janis from Daugavpils (also known as Tvinky), posted a recording of it online. And my Latvian blog is live on http://blogs.arno.fi/labrit/, named Labrīt! for "Good morning!". I'm curious to see whether there will be any reaction to them, by MySQL's Latvian friends, such as Michael Dexter, who helped us a lot in September and whom it was a pleasure to meet again.

Estonia and Tallinn was the third and final destination. Again, the hotel belonged to the same chain. Reval Hotel Tallinn is somewhat of a double name, as "Reval" is the old Swedish and German name for Tallinn.

Martin de Jong and I were alone here, as Hannu had left for Finland. Our host was Sun's Estonian BizDev mgr Maidu Harjak. He had collected roughly as many attendees as Rolandas in Lithuania. On account of knowing Finnish, the Estonian speech wasn't quite as difficult as Lithuanian or Latvian. Creating an Estonian blog was a bit harder, though, as Google Translate doesn't help me with that. Instead, I had to resort to Aivar Joonas, my Estonian friend and reconstruction expert working at my country house in Finland. With his help, I chose to host the blog on http://blogs.arno.fi/vaba_lava/. Vaba lava is what you say when it's time for anyone to speak up, "The floor is open".

My blogs in Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian so far only contain my speeches in the respective languages. And realistically, I won't post very frequently to them (in particular, Estonian is not supported by Google Translate). Nonetheless, I hope there is some benefit from having my local presentations online.


Thursday, 6 November 2008

Del Ruiz meets his jefe in Montevideo

My colleague Del, the MySQL Sales Rep with Lat Am as his territory, met his boss Kerry Ancheta in Montevideo. Kerry is a user of Dior pour homme.

Del has just one "l" and works for Sun Microsystems.

(OK, so this isn't of interest to anybody else than those who have met Kerry)

Buenos Aires-Montevideo-Buenos Aires: Dual licensing passport control

1:55: The alarm goes off, as I had set my mobile phone to 4:55, forgetting that my mobile phone is in my home time zone of Munich
2:00: While brushing my teeth, I understand that I got up too early, so I got back to sleep
4:55: The alarm goes off again
5:15: Del Ruiz picks me up at the hotel
5:30: We're at the semi-domestic airport of Buenos Aires
7:00: We check out of Argentina and check in to Uruguay at the same dual-licensing counter, with one lady from .ar, another from .uy

7:15 The flight leaves Argentina

19:05 We check out of Uruguay and into Argentina at the same dual-licensing counter, with one lady from .uy, another from .ar

19:35 The flight leaves
20:20 We land in Buenos Aires
20:55 Back at the hotel