Category Archives: Finland

Leaving on a…well, quite a few…jet planes

I know.

I’ve utterly dropped off the face of the earth.

I could give you explanations – I have them, and they are legion – but I don’t think you want them.

I just wanted to say, hello. And I am alive. And show you this:

And this:

This is the bag of someone who’s leaving for the airport in a little over two hours.

And the face of someone who didn’t sleep much last night. Trust me, the lady’s excited. More so than she can say. Bouncing-off-the-walls so. That’s the face that, in less than 24 hours, Andreas will be seeing in Stockholm when I get off the plane before we make our grand trip to the land of the Finns.

I have every intention of blogging while I’m there – thank you, wifi and international data plan! – but can make you no promises. Might be too busy hugging Andreas and his family until they’re all “GET OFF ME YOU CRAZY MERKAN!”

Dad’s pretty sure I’ll come back a commie, and so I’ve taken to answering all his questions with “DA, KOMRADE!” and he does NOT like that at ALL, and I told him I promised that, every new person I meet, I’d ask to see their arms, to see if they had two, and then ask if they were a truck driver, and as long as they passed those tests, we’d know they weren’t one-armed truck drivers like he thinks everyone on the internet is, and he was SO UPSET by this and he said “do not. DO NOT DO THAT. Then they’ll know you’re onto them and they’ll throw you in the gulag! There are no cell phones or showers in the gulag!”

Dad apparently thinks I am going to Russia in the height of the Cold War, which is equal parts worrisome and amusing.

There will be many adventures, and many surprises, and I hope to have a minute to share them on here (I do have a nine-hour layover on the way home – don’t ask – so that might give me a little blogging time…) because I think you might like to see some of the most fabulous bloggers in all the land in the same place and time. I plan on taking a lot of photos. A LOT. My camera might explode.

16 days in Europe. Here we go, you guys. It’s only been in the planning stages for the last 14 months…and surprisingly, I can’t believe it’s already here.

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Welcome to the land of Finns! There are reindeer and nude statues!

Today I had a play to go to, with a ticket in the front row and everything, but I stayed home. This was not an easy decision for me. I’ve been looking forward to this one for months and months. But I’m coughing terribly and I had a front-row seat and that’s rude to people trying to act and sing. Plus even getting up and moving around the house makes me kind of exhausted. Driving half an hour each way, sitting through a three-hour show, trying really hard not to cough…nah. Can’t. Just can’t today. Sadly. So it’s a couch-day and a Dumbcat-day and a TV-day for me.

Today, let’s talk about something near and dear to my heart. And that thing is:

FINLAND!!!

I officially got my passport in the mail a week after I applied for it, so apparently I have been judged as NOT TOO DANGEROUS TO TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY! That means my trip to Finland is on! Only 14 months to go! Get ready, Andreas and family of Andreas! It’s never too early to start planning an adventure!

There have been a number of fun Finland-related things that have come across my radar lately, so today let’s discuss some fun Finland-things.

First: Finland wins a VERY IMPORTANT HONOR!

According to this very annoying link that will start a loud obnoxious video on your computer so beware, Finland is the world’s best place to be a mother! In the whole WORLD! Well, THAT’S impressive! Apparently, expectant and new mothers are given much care in the land of the Finns, and the infant mortality rate is very low, so Finland wins the competition! Congratulations, Finland, for being impressive! On Saturday Night Live this weekend, Seth Meyers had a smart joke that said “Finland has recently been found as the world’s best place to be a mother. The world’s worst place to be a mother? High school.” Hee! I like that.

Next, we have very good graphics from the most impressive sj!

OMG YOU GUYS! POLICE REINDEER! How much do I want a police reindeer? THE MOST IS HOW MUCH! I don’t know if this is true facts or not, but I love it anyway. I mean, think about it. What would you do with a police reindeer? I don’t know that you could ride it. And it’s not like a drug-sniffing dog or anything. I mean, MAYBE it could sniff drugs, but what a mess it would make clip-clopping through your house, right? But whether it is a thing or not, I WANT ONE. Look how much it loves the Finnish policeman! It totally wants him to rub its nose. And ride with him on his Skidoo. Probably in Finland they don’t call them Skidoos. The internet says Finns call them “moottorikelkka” or if they’re speaking Swedish they call them “snöskoters.” OMG THOSE ARE BOTH MOST EXCELLENT WORDS! The Finnish word has WAY too many letters in it, and the Swedish word sounds EXACTLY like “snow scooter” which makes me smile and then smile some more.

Aw, no, poor Finland!

Finally, we have the MOST interesting thing. OK, so a couple of weeks ago, Andreas had the day off because it was Walpurgis Night. This is known as May Day in Merka. And we most certainly don’t get the day off, sigh sigh. ANYWAY, in Finland, here is what happens on Walpurgis Night:

  • Much mead is consumed
  • Many funnel cakes are consumed
  • There is much celebrating, some of it in the streets
  • Someone puts a cap on a nude statue in Helsinki
  • “Left-wing activists of the 1970s still party on May Day. They arrange carnivals. And radio stations play leftist songs from the 1970s.” WHAT? That makes me laugh. It would make Dad VERY ANGRY, though, and he would shout “SOCIALISTS!!!”

This all makes me happy. This is a very happy pagan celebration, dating back to Beltane. We don’t do things like that here. Sometimes children might do a Maypole (not a euphemism) in school, but only when a teacher can’t think of something better to do, and I’d be willing to bet most of the teachers don’t know the history behind what they’re doing.

You GUYS, in FINLAND, they have a day off where they drink HOMEMADE MEAD, they eat FRIED DOUGH, and they (for some reason) put HATS on NAKED STATUES. This is a most excellent country. MOST excellent. I can’t even find anything to complain about in this tradition.  We don’t have another day off until Memorial Day and that’s still a couple weeks away. Europe gets a lot more excellent days off than we do, that’s for sure.

MANY HAPPY THINGS IN FINLAND!

OK, it is the middle of the day but my eyes are closing so it’s naptime even though I’m usually terrible at naps. Happy Monday to you all. May your weeks be both productive AND pleasurable. Plus, I wish you all funnel cakes. I mean, don’t we all deserve more funnel cakes in our lives? I think most definitely we do. No question.


Norway: Finland, only a whole different country.

This is a story about Dad and Andreas.

First, Dad thought Andreas was a spy. Ken was an assassin and Andreas was a spy.

(Ken’s still “the assassin” but I don’t think he is AN assassin. I think it’s just Dad’s nickname for him. I’m pretty sure Dad doesn’t think Ken’s assassinating people. PRETTY sure, I said.)

Now Andreas is “that Finn” or “that man from the land of Finns” or “your friend from “FINN-LAYND” because it makes Dad laugh that I say Finland funny. HA HA DAD. So I guess he’s not a spy anymore, which is nice. Good job, Andreas, I’m glad you’ve moved up in Dad’s esteem. Or, I guess, if you really are a spy, you’ve fooled him. Either way: good job, you.

The land of FINNS!

The other night, Dad had a STORY.

“I have a STORY!” Dad said. “Your friend in Fin-LAYND! He is in TROUBLE!”

“He is?” I said. “Well, I just talked to him today, and he seemed ok? But I guess you’d know better? I don’t know, have you been talking to Andreas while I was at work today?”

“He’s FILLED WITH RADIOACTIVITY! Tell him NOT TO EAT THE FISH!”

“What fish. Is he eating all the fish? What’s happening?”

“I just watched a DOCUMENTARY!”

“About Andreas? Well, crap, I can’t believe he was in a documentary and didn’t tell me. I’m so yelling at him the next time I talk to him.”

“SIGH SIGH SIGH. NO. About U-BOATS.”

Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

“I’m…at a loss, frankly. What’s the connection?”

So Dad explained: he’d watched a documentary about this U-boat that sank in World War II off the coast of Finland and ran on radioactivity so has poisoned all the fish off the coast of Finland with radioactivity so no one in Finland should eat any fish.

“So tell your friend not to eat those Finnish fish. Or he will be like Spiderman. ALL RADIOACTIVE,” Dad said.

“I don’t know, Dad. I feel like Andreas would have told me this. Also, I think he likes fish, so this is a worry for me, frankly.”

“You ask your friend if he GLOWS IN THE DARK. You ask him if he can READ IN THE DARK WITHOUT A NIGHTLIGHT. Because he’s radioactive, get it?”

I'd like to read at night without a nightlight. That'd be cool, yo.

I’d like to read at night without a nightlight. That’d be cool, yo.

So I emailed Andreas about this but then we started talking about a billion other things and I never got an answer about this and the other things were totally interesting, it’s not like I was all mad about the lack of radioactivity discussion. That was Dad’s thing.

Then Dad was all, “WELL? What did you find out about your radioactive friend in the land of the Finns?”

“Oh, crap, Dad, he didn’t answer me. Sorry. We got to talking about other things and I forgot to follow up.”

“Well, THAT’S suspicious. Why’s he covering this up?”

“I don’t know if it’s so much a coverup. I think it’s more that we were talking about other things. It’s really not about the government. Promise.”

“IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT!”

So I emailed Andreas AGAIN about the fish thing. This time he answered me. (Seriously, he didn’t mean to not respond. We got to talking about other stuff. It happens.)

Oh yeah, I meant to answer the radioactive thing. I don’t glow in the dark, but I wouldn’t even if I had radiation poisoning. Obviously. Which I don’t. 

I’m trying to think what submarine he’s referring to; don’t think there were many (or indeed any) German U-boats in the Baltic sea during the war, and I haven’t heard of any that were sunk. Anyway, they wouldn’t have been radioactive, as they were all diesel-electric in those days.
Then he talked about a totally awesome story about Soviet subs and made me laugh and other things. Andreas is an excellent emailer.  So I told Dad this and he was all, “WHAT? He thought I was SERIOUS about the glow-in-the-dark thing? NO NO NO. You get rid of that Finn. HE HAS NO SENSE OF HUMOR NONE.”

“DAD. He was KIDDING. He has an EXCELLENT sense of humor. As you can see because of this joke. HE WAS KIDDING.”

“That is not funny. NOT FUNNY FINN FROM FINLAND. You need to tell him that is NOT FUNNY.”

“OK, I’ll tell him. But what’s the scoop on the U-boat? He’s never even HEARD of the U-boat.”

“That’s because it wasn’t even RADIOACTIVE. I never said it was RADIOACTIVE, Amy.”

“What? Of course you did. Because of the glowing.”

“No. MERCURY.”

“What? Mercury?”

Then Dad told a whole NEW story, which was there was a German U-Boat in 1944 that he thought was called U-834 that was bringing mercury to Japan and it went down off the coast of Finland and was just recently discovered, leaking all the mercury into the waters of Finland. So all the fish were filled with mercury and no one should be eating the fish.

(He also kept picking on me about confusing radioactivity and mercury, but I still aver that he’s the one that was confused, because why would he have said Andreas was glowing in the dark if he’d been talking about mercury?)

“So maybe he doesn’t glow in the dark. THAT IS STILL NOT FUNNY. But tell him – you tell him – MAYBE HE IS A THERMOMETER.”

Andreas? Is that you?

Andreas? Is that you?

“Dad. He didn’t mean to personally offend you with the glow-in-the-dark comment, you know.”

“I don’t want to talk about that thermometer anymore.”

(Sorry, Andreas, you went from spy to Man from the Land of Finns to thermometer. I don’t know that this is an improvement as you are now an inanimate object.)

So then I researched this and Dad totally wasn’t making it up. Well, he got some major POINTS wrong, but there’s SOME truth to this.

There was a U-boat. It was actually U-864, but he was pretty close. It did go down (1945, close to 1944) and was just recently discovered.

However, one slight issue…

Norway. This all happened in Norway.

As you can see, Andreas’ Finland is on the right (hi, Andreas’ islands!) and Norway is on the left. NO, not ALL the way on the left, that’s Iceland. On the left as in on the other side of Sweden.

I mean, it’s all the same WATER but it’s pretty far AWAY from Andreas’ water.

I know they’re all in a clump but I think they’re different countries and I’m pretty sure if you call someone from Norway Finnish they’d probably give you a dirty look. (Would they, Andreas? They totally would, right?)

That’d be like someone from FINLAND calling us CANADIAN, Dad, just because we’re on the same CONTINENT. Would you like that, Dad? No you would NOT. (Dad yells at the poor Canadians a lot since he lives right next to the border. See, they drive like normal people? And drive normal speeds? And he drives slow like an old person? So they’ll pass him – as would I – and he’ll yell, “GO BACK TO CANADA YOU SPEED DEMON!” and then look at me all “That taught ‘em!” and I’ll just shake my head and laugh a little but also grip the handle on the door for my life. FOR MY VERY LIFE.)

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn't you HATE that?

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn’t you HATE that?

So, in summation: yes, there was a U-boat; yes, it went down off A coast. Just not ANDREAS’ coast. So I think Andreas can eat his fish. And he is not really a thermometer. I’m pleased, I wouldn’t like Andreas to die of mercury poisoning. The internet tells me the symptoms of that are “sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination,” (do you think I have mercury poisoning? I very often have a “disturbed sensation,” usually when I’m thinking about things and getting so pissed about them) damage to the brain, kidney and lungs, and something called “pink disease,” which sounds equal parts stylish and distressing.

Don’t get mercury poisoning, Andreas, I don’t even know how you look in pink.

(Also, side note, you’re not supposed to eat the fish from my Hudson River here for the same reason. Mercury poisoning. We’re all kinds of toxic around here.)

So it seems Andreas is safe. What will Dad call Andreas next? Stay tuned for the next installment of “Dad makes up names for Amy’s friends!” An ongoing serialized dramedy here on the old Football! Whoo-hoo!


A strange and violent place!

There are a lot of things I like in the world.

Dumbcat. The Nephew. The smell of the air in the fall. Watching television virtually with sj. The excitement I still feel every single time right before the curtain goes up before a play starts, no matter how many plays I watch in my life.

A thing I like a LOT a lot?

Virtually travelling with my internet friends.

See, I’m a poor person? As you’re all aware. The farthest I get to travel is to visit my parents upstate. And even that doesn’t get to happen much anymore, due to unemployment and such. Sometimes to New York City but that’s only once every few years or something (which is NOT OFTEN ENOUGH.) I went to Florida this year but only because Dad paid for it because he loves me. This summer, if all goes well, I get to go to Massachusetts for the first time ever. I KNOW! That’s totally exciting, you’re all coming with me. (It’s all on the newspaper’s dime, too. As long as they keep me on over there, they’re sending me there to review shows this summer. To a SWANKY theater. Where FAMOUS people act. I KNOW! Sometimes I honestly pinch myself. OW STOP THAT.)

Berkshire Theatre Festival!!! I MIGHT GET TO GO TO THERE!!!

Anyway, I am lucky enough to know people who live in fancy places and who are VERY patient with me. The second part of that is equally as important as the first part. Just because they live in fancy places doesn’t mean I’d get to virtually bon vivant along with them. The fact that they are the most patient when I say things like “ZOMG WE ARE GOING TO BERLIN?!?!” or “I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME TO THE ZOO RIGHT NOW TO SEE THE PENGUINS” or “TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR VACATION FLAT FOR ME I DO NOT EVEN CARE THAT YOU ARE SLEEPING FROM THE JET LAG.” (Oh, yeah, I use a lot of all-caps when virtual bon vivantery is involved. It makes me very excited. Oh, fine, I can’t even hide it from you, I use all-caps all the time. I AM VERY EXCITABLE I CAN’T EVEN PRETEND I’M NOT.)

Anyway, I am very lucky I have bon-vivanty friends who are ALSO patient friends and find my loud excitement about all things more charming than annoying. THANK YOU FRIENDS.

This week, we had another opportunity for virtual bon vivantery!

ANDREAS WENT TO HELSINKI!!!

OK, so Andreas lives on the Åland Islands. The internet tells me they are an archipelago. ARCHIPELAGO! I think it would be fun to live on an archipelago. When I was a wee Amy I pronounced that wrong and a teacher laughed at me and I was HORRIFIED. Teachers shouldn’t be allowed to laugh at kids who are trying to pronounce hard words. They should be SUPPORTIVE and correct them NICELY. Just because third-grade-Amy thought it was “arch-ih-pell-AH-go” and not “ark-ih-pell-uh-go”  doesn’t mean you get to mock. I WAS A TEENY KID AND THAT IS A BIG WORD WITH GREEK ROOTS YOU JERK.

Here are the Åland Islands in relation to Helsinki.

See? There are Andreas’ islands over there, and then Helsinki off to the right.

Andreas told me his job was sending him to Helsinki for a work-thing. WELL! That is a fancy job, right? They have ice-cream Fridays (no, seriously, THEY HAVE ICE-CREAM FRIDAYS) and then last week they SENT HIM TO HELSINKI. On a PLANE. He didn’t have to get in a company van or ANYTHING. (I’ve never worked somewhere that sent me somewhere on a plane. Once I worked somewhere that sent me to New York on the train a couple times, which was awesome, and once I worked somewhere where part of my job was to go around the state and do these events but I had to go in the company station wagon or van depending on how many other coworkers went with me. NEVER ON A PLANE!)

Andreas assured me it was not a very long plane trip (because, well, I worry, and the whole time planes are in the air I have to send out “STAY UP PLANE!!!” vibes) and that he would totally get to spend the night. THIS IS FUN!

So of course I said ANDREAS ANDREAS ANDREAS WILL YOU SEND ME PHOTOS OF HELSINKI?

And because he is Andreas he said he would. He didn’t even seem annoyed. Isn’t that the best? Yes, it totally is.

Here, I think we’re going to need some background about Helsinki.

First: if you LIVE in Helsinki, you don’t CALL it Helsinki. You call it “Helsingfors.” Well, I like that a lot. Andreas said it was NOT exciting but as you can see, it is.

Well, after I said that, Andreas AGREED it was a VERY fun name. (Or maybe he just pretended he did. Or my infectious joy just amuses him. One of those things.)

Ooh, look at Olivier’s Van Helsing. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS YO.

If you look up Helsinki on Wikipedia you can find this very funny link that tells you how to pronounce “Helsingfors” and it is AWESOME. No, seriously, click this and listen. “HelsingFORSH!” The guy sounds VERY SERIOUS. I’ve played that ten times in a row and giggled every time.

Helsinki is the capital of the Land of Finns. There is much water and many islands. On one of the islands is a zoo. A ZOO! On an ISLAND! It is called the Korkeasaari Zoo. I like that word because it sounds like bubbles popping in your mouth. Here, the internet tells me these animals are at that zoo:

EUROPEAN OTTERS! I can only assume these are fancier than regular otters, and probably eat croissants for breakfast.

Also, there is an island called Pihlajasaari, which is where the gay people and “naturalists” hang out. “Naturalists” means nudists. So they’re both euphemistically and also literally hanging out, I suppose. I am all for going to the gay island but not as much into the naked island because, well, naked has its place, but all out in public makes the little Catholic girl in me giggle and hide my face behind a hymnal.

ALSO, in the WINTER, the sun only lasts for six hours. SIX HOURS! And in the SUMMER, it lasts for NINETEEN HOURS. What? What is this madness? Andreas, you so didn’t tell me that you lived in a land of the magical sun. Is the sun magical on your islands, too, or only in Van Helsing City?

Helsinki is VERY PRETTY. Look look look:

Isn’t that lovely? YES IT IS.

People in Finland speak Finnish. Well, obviously. But Andreas says – well, here, I’ll let him tell you:

No one says “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” to you if you speak Swedish in the streets anymore, although I’ve been told it still happens in bars sometimes.

Well, I was on my phone at the time, so I tried to make the phone translate this, but the phone was all NO NO AMY. (My laptop has a much better translation program on it. When you have fancy international friends, you need to translate shit all Johnny-on-the-spot. It gets a workout, that program.)

Does that mean something like, “You’re in Finland; speak Finnish?” I’m on my phone & my translate function here isn’t as good as on the laptop.

Andreas’ reply made me giggle.

Yes, it does: “In Finland, we speak Finnish!” It’s a dig against the Swedish speaking minority.
 
…One of my colleagues…told me that he had that happen to him when speaking Swedish with a few friends at a bar. Some random guy came up and said “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” My colleague then replied in Finnish: “I speak what I want. You speak what you can”, hinting at the general lack of Finnish speaking people of being able to speak any other language, including Swedish. A retort like that is usually cause for a fight in Finland, either with or without knives. It’s a strange and violent place.

I told Andreas “Finland! It’s a strange and violent place!” should be the national motto. I just looked online and apparently Finland doesn’t even HAVE a national motto. Well! Finland! Andreas and I just FOUND you one. You are WELCOME. We’ll take our commission in travel vouchers to visit your city, please.

So once Andreas got there, he sent me this:

I was ok with that. I can be patient, if I have to be.

BUT THEN WE GOT PHOTOS YOU GUYS!

Here is what is, according to Andreas, a “typical Helsinki street”:

Look! A train! Or perhaps a tram! Something trainy-trammy! Also the light is pretty and I like the buildings. I am very impressed by Helsinki. Also, I am very impressed that Andreas followed through on his promise to send me photos. MY ANDREAS IS THE BEST ANDREAS.

Then poor Andreas emailed me later in the day that they made him work ALL DAY and he didn’t get to play at ALL and so he didn’t even get to bon vivant. I felt awful. NO NOT FOR ME. I honestly would rather, if given the option, have Andreas have a wonderful time without me getting a single photo than him being in a happy city without being able to play at all. I do these things in my head a lot. Like these tests. “Would you jump in front of a car for this person” or “Let’s say this person was dying of cancer and you had the option of YOU dying of cancer instead of THEM, would you do it?” It’s how I measure how much I love someone. What, you don’t do that? FINE, I never said my brain wasn’t broken, sheesh. I’ve done this since I was a kid. It’s not normal?

Andreas was not fazed by the fact that he didn’t get to play, however. He still sent me photos. This is why Andreas is the best, and if a flaming out-of-control zeppelin was coming right for us, I’d push him out of the way and take the hit. ANDREAS PASSES THE ZEPPELIN TEST.

This is a picture out of the window of his office. Isn’t Helsinki pretty? I told Andreas that when I come to visit someday (BECAUSE I TOTALLY AM GOING TO DAMMIT) we would go to Helsinki and properly bon vivant it.

Then he sent me this, and this is how I know Andreas is meant to be my friend for the rest of my life. Well, I already knew. But this…well, this pushed it right over the edge.

Just because he thought I would find it interesting, he sent me a photo of his hotel room.

Without even KNOWING that I am OBSESSED with hotel rooms. Like, you don’t even know. The other photos were EXCITING – I mean, Helsinki! – but this one made me laugh and clap.

When I was a little kid (Andreas knew NONE of this) I always thought that people that got to stay in hotels were the fanciest and once I got to stay in a hotel, *I* would be fancy. So I went years and years without ever getting to stay in a hotel. Then when I was like, oh, I don’t know, ten or something, we went on a trip and I got to stay in a hotel. And it was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things in the ENTIRE WORLD. Someone else’s bed! With crisp clean sheets! VENDING MACHINES IN THE HALLWAY WITH ALL THE FOODS AND SODAS! Little soaps and wee shampoos and you could HAVE them! A bucket to put ice in, and a machine that dumped ALL THAT ICE in the bucket! A TV you could WATCH from your BED!

I decided I wanted to live in a hotel.

I still get that same thrill about hotels. There’s something so exciting about a hotel. You could be anyone in that room. You could be a killer or a celebrity or a spy on the lam. I only pretend t0 be citified; I’m really only a country girl at heart and things like hotels and tall buildings and trains and fancy restaurants make me very excited and I’m a ten-year-old who hasn’t left her teeny-tiny town ever and is all huge eyes and “ZOMG LOOK AT THAT!!!”

So Andreas showing me his hotel room, without him even knowing it, made me SO EXCITED.

And when I explained this to him, he was cool as ice about it, yo.

I thought you would!

He knows me well, you guys. Not even in the least bit surprised by this Amy-development.

THEN, as an Andreas-addendum (an And-endum?) I got home the other day and I had a PACKAGE from Andreas. I wasn’t even EXPECTING one. IT WAS A SURPRISE PACKAGE! Well, now, THAT’S exciting! I don’t get surprises in the mail!

Andreas asked me to make a video reacting to what was inside the package. So I did. YOU CAN SEE IT TOO! It’s not a secret. And you can see what’s inside the package of SECRETS from FINLAND. Andreas is the best, sincerely.

(The preview picture of this video makes me laugh; it looks like I’m about to teach you a lesson. A LICORICE LESSON.)

Then I told Dad about what I got in the package. His response?

“It’s licorice? But it’s salty? You can take the salt off, though?”

I said, no. It’s all mixed into the licorice.

“What the hell is wrong with Finland. You don’t put SALT in DESSERTS. They don’t know what the hell is going on in that land of the Finns. SALT IS FOR POPCORN OR FRENCH FRIES.”

Dad did not approve.

Andreas, I hope the next time you go to Helsinki, also known as the land of Van Helsing in Amy-speak, you get to play and bon vivant and have the best of times, but don’t get shanked in a bar for speaking Swedish. And if you see your way clear to bringing your crazy-eyed, unruly-haired Merkan blogger friend with you, well, she wouldn’t complain. Not even a little bit.

THANK YOU ANDREAS!


Using science (and Science Fellows) to our full advantage.

Hell week is OVER. Day off today! Well, day off in that I don’t have to go to work. I have a billion things to do. Laundry and grocery shopping and a project I promised to do and writing to do and talking to people that I have been sadly neglecting all last week that I want to talk and talk to and a cat who needs petting and SLEEPING SLEEPING SO MUCH SLEEPING. I’m going to do the sleeping first. Get that out of the way. The sleeping has become high-priority. I’ve gotten so sleepy I’m shaky, and I almost fell in the shower like an old person yesterday because I was not coordinated enough to both hold AND squirt the shampoo, so if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m probably going to die. What? Exaggeration? Yes, probably, you’re right. I think you have to get a LOT less sleep than I have been to actually DIE, right? Wait, I will research it. Andreas would want me to research it. It’s what sciency people do.

Well, according to this article (from Scientific American! Well, I’m Merkan. And I like to be Scientific. With a capital S) the longest anyone’s ever stayed awake is 11 days. It doesn’t really tell you about DYING from lack of sleep. It DOES tell you about a horrifying experiment they did on rats to see how long THEY could stay awake without sleep and they would continuously wake the rats up when they were about to fall asleep by threatening to drown them and the rats died after two weeks from someonthing called “whole body hypermetabolism.” Shit, Andreas, why are you never awake when I’m writing something that’s even remotely sciency? Using my math skills, it is currently…um…4:47am in the land of Finns. Sigh. That’s too early to wish you had a touch of insomnia, Andreas (I AM KIDDING I WOULD NEVER WISH THAT ON ANYONE I CARE ABOUT), so I could ask you what “whole body hypermetabolism” is. FINE I WILL SCIENCE IT MYSELF.

Aw, look at that face. STOP MAKING THE RAT STAY AWAKE!

All I can find is “an abnormal increase in metabolic rate.” So…um…you run fast and hot and die, then? I guess? From lack of sleep? This isn’t very sciency at all. You killed those poor rats for THAT? That seems wasteful. I’m so tweeting Andreas right now to see what he thinks about this shit, yo.

OMG YOU GUYS. This probably interests no one but me, but I am MADE OF MAGIC. I WISHED Andreas, and he APPEARED. No kidding. (The magic came into play because I forgot it was Monday and he was up for work, not because I am magic, but let me have my pretend-time, ok?) So I was all “hey if you get up I need you, my Science Fellow” AND HE WAS THERE BAM. But now I can’t get him the link to that totally sciency article; my theory is because he is not MERKAN and it would be seditious to let him read it. Seditious? Is that the word I want? I’m way too tired to research that.

Andreas is currently looking into this for me, leaving me free to watch American Horror Story and write about other things. Maybe have a popsicle. Do I even HAVE other things? Sure I do, I always have something. If not, I make it up as I go along, I’m good like that. SOON WE WILL HAVE SCIENCY ANSWERS, though. That’s something we all look forward to around these parts.

(Also, ZOMG, could American Horror Story BE more effed up this season? Holy HELL.)

OK. What else. Work was the worst today and I was tired and people were being so weird and it was a terrible combination and it seemed like the longest shift in the world. I need tomorrow off quite badly. Otherwise I think I might lose my mind.

But THEN, AFTER work, C. and C. came to visit! They went to see The Shape of Things, and then came and visited me and we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese place and talked and talked and TALKED and laughed so hard that at one point I had to take my glasses off because I was weeping with laughter and I miss them so much and it was so nice to see them again. Old friends are something special, you know? I’ve known C. since…let’s see. I was probably 19? 20, maybe? We moved in together when I was 20, if I’m remembering correctly. So that’s about 20 years. There’s a lot of history there. New friends are wonderful – hell, all friends are, let’s be honest – but old friends, the ones that know all your history and your baggage and just all your STUFF and you can say, “remember that time…?” with, that’s something special. It really truly is. Dumbcat was happy to see C. because she is one of his favorite humans, and once he stopped freaking out he even let both of them pet him, which was nice.

OK. We have a VERDICT from ANDREAS. He’s the scienciest, no joke, you guys. Have I mentioned how much I adore Andreas lately? (I’ve always adored him, I mean, have I MENTIONED it lately.) Seriously, just such a wonderful person. I can’t even, I’ll get all weepy.

Hypermetabolism is when the metabolism gets into turbo mode, usually after a trauma like multiple bone fractures or similar. It seems to be a way of speeding up the healing process, but it costs a lot in terms of food. 

You can also have organ specific hypermetabolism, like in the brain, so full body hypermetabolism means that the whole body increases its metabolic rate, not just parts of it.

Oh, THIS is exciting. Andreas TOTALLY knew what it was.

Does anyone else have ALL THE CURIOSITY about “brain hypermetabolism?” I think I might have this. My brain is ALWAYS buzzing. Good grief.

This is apparently a hypermetabolic brain? PRETTY.

Then I had a BILLION QUESTIONS FOR ANDREAS and he was kind enough to answer MORE of my questions. Here are some of them:

So, first, this seems like a terrible thing to do to these rats, yo. 

Second, the lack of sleep, for some reason, sped up their body processes? ALL of them? To the point that they DIED? 

How? Why? The article didn’t tell us at all. So the doctors don’t even know? And the rats died for no REASON? 

This is all very strange.

Andreas is very patient with me. It’s one of the million wonderful things about him.

(And yes, right now you are seeing how I actually write an email to someone. As you can see, my email is very similar to how I write here. I’m a complete dork EVERYWHERE I GO. Luckily, my people still love me.)

And yes, poor rats indeed. The cruellest of all sciences is biology – which sort of counts as ironic in my book (and is one of the reasons I got out of it). And I won’t even mention the kittens. 

Yes, according to this study, the rats entered a state of hypermetabolism due to lack of sleep. So apparently lack of sleep is like a physical trauma to the body. Or it could be an odd side effect. We clearly don’t know yet. Either way it’s lethal, so get some sleep you!

I am glad Andreas is not mentioning the kittens. *shudder*

NO NO ANDREAS DON’T MENTION ME!!!

So, apparently, if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to start burning fast and hot and then die. Like a rat. Or a COMET.

Also, this probably explains why I’m all shaky. I’m having PHYSICAL TRAUMA.

Tonight, I can go to bed WHENEVER I WANT. I can then wake up, again, WHENEVER I WANT. I’m going to just REVEL in sleep. I’m going to LOLL AROUND in it. I’m going to be SO LAZY. It’s going to be AMAZING. Then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do a billion things, but mostly I’m going to be rested. It’s going to be SO SO AMAZING I CAN’T EVEN.Let’s have a moment of silence for the rats that died so we can know…um…something, I guess. I don’t know what, exactly, and neither do the sciency types, or even my MOST sciency type, Andreas, who knows EVERYTHING. Sayonara, ratsies. I’m sorry you had to die for this strange study that really didn’t seem to prove much of anything at all other than scientists can be kind of sadistic and that no one should be forced to stay awake on a small floating island where they might drown at any minute.

Off to bed. Wish me happy sleeps. ALL OF THEM.


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