Sunday, May 29, 2005
As some of you may have noticed, I've changed the look to a more spartan one, trying to reflect what life is like here. Things are organized and practical, all the while maintaining a clean look. That, and I haven't gotten around to making something better. Here is my current report on my travels (be prepared for poor structure): The first thing I saw after getting off the train from Heathrow was a tube/metro/subway car proudly announcing "this train to Cockfosters". Apparently this is an actual train station with an amusing name. Insert your caption here. At the Tower of London, I encountered the legendary ravens of the tower. I have never seen a raven before - I thought they were just bigger crows. Apparently not. I think the sign should read: "Warning - Ravens WILL eat your babies. Because they can. Seriously." The people are about 10 feet behind the birds. Think of something as long as your forearm plus a little more. These are bigass birds. Finland is an intesting place. Everything is well designed, and has a practical purpose. The taps in my company's washroom have a little button you have to press to get water over 38C so that you can't accidently burn yourself. There are mirrors placed outside such that it is almost impossible to come out without knowing you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe. The kitchen has a drawer that acts as a built-in cutting board for bread with slots underneath for easy cleaing. The stoves have multiple heating areas for individual burners (all the appliances in the house I'm staying at are made by Siemens). Think of a Canada, but with smarter/cleaner ways to go about doing basically anything with more style. Something I especially have to commend is the engineer with a sense of humour who designed the toilets here - think of a cone shaped sound amplifier. Pooping brings to mind the phrase "depth charges". Using the bathroom has never been more satisfying. My Finnish boss told me something interesting about his truck; the "Pajero", made by Mitsubishi. Apparently, they couldn't sell it by that name because it also means (in my boss' own words) "a man who loves himself". I'll leave it to you to fill in the details. There are some other ridiculous things I've encountered, like the beer in the company cafeteria (which, while owned by Sodexho, makes some of the best food I've ever had. I don't understand). Think about it: next to the lemonade in the fridge is beer. Down the hall is a factory of some of the heaviest machinery on earth, barring the mining industry. Apparently, it's a "lower-alcohol" beer, so it's ok. I don't understand why there isn't any Valium in the candy machine if the former makes sense. The bar scene here is disturbingly the same as in Lennoxville. Think of the Lion, but change the language spoken by the people and on some of the beer served. That's it. The music is the same (Avril Lavigne and Shania Twain continue to plague me around the world in a very Borg-like fashion. Resistance is futile.), the people dress the same, everything looks the same, and the girls (sorry guys, I have to break the Scandinavian legend) are no more beautiful than those you would find anywhere else. Except for Montreal and Tempo women. Even some people look the same. Rebecca (Chad's s.o.) has a clone here named Hanna, down to her hairstyle. However, Finland does have some downsides; "where's the beef?" is a question I'm often asking. Finland has an acute case of missing dead cow. The only red meat I can find is pork, and it sucks. Finnish grocery stores also suffer from stupid-sounding product names like "Sugar Candy Cookies". Was it a cookie sporting massive amounts of sugar? Was it a magically delicious blend of candy and cookie? No. It was a generic cookie. Think of a tea biscuit. This all points to the question of what I'm doing in this place: When I asked my boss what my title was, he kind of stopped and stared at the ceiling for about 10 seconds, mumbled something like "technical ... engineering ... computer ... assistant", and walked on. The project I'm working on involves designing the next edition of a tool breakage-detection system for an automated drilling machine with 62 spindles. Basically, it listens for drills breaking and stops the machine when it hears the right noise. I quickly found out that this is not trivial. Each different kind of material being drilled sounds different, and the noise changes as the drill goes deeper. The sound also changes depending on the material and shape of the drill bit itself, e.g. a conical bit during normal operation sounds just like a normal drill breaking. Oh, and the system has to be scaleable so that we can put it on the slightly larger drilling systems with something stupid like 470 drilling spindles. I think the best part about it is that the most applicable thing I've learned in school that I can use in regards to the development of this thing are the Data Communcation and Circuits courses that I did so poorly in. Awesome. I think it's fate. As for what I'm doing usually after work, it involves hauling wood in my boss' wood lot. I'll post pictures later. In the words of Lin Jensen, "logs are heavy". My search for a non-crack dealership/apartment in Varkaus continues tomorrow.