A date with the end of the world

Dear people who await the end of the world,


1) To those who fret: please stop worrying over something that you cannot control. You might as well worry that you should be able to control your local weather, and you don’t, because you know you can’t.  If the world does come to an end, the world comes to an end: there would be nothing you could do about it because it would be a Pretty Big event. Also, save that suicide plan until the very last minute – when your end-of-the-world induced death is imminent – on the very-probable-off chance that you’re wrong, and you would in fact be alive, well and pretty relieved on December 22nd.


2) You folks who are digging bunkers under your house and hoarding canned food: just what kind of a lame ass end of the world is it exactly, if you’re fine as long as you stay in a bunker with canned food? An end of the world that couldn’t commit? Pfft.


 

Cheers to Deep Root Riesling Trocken.

Swedish saunas do not exist

Dear English-speaking world: please stop calling it a ”Swedish sauna”. It’s an irrational combination of words.


Sauna is not a Swedish word: it’s Finnish. The Swedes do have a passing knowledge and modest experience of saunas, but they call them bastu. Why would you call it a “Swedish sauna” when you could simply call it bastu? And more to the point, why do you feel the need to add “Swedish”, if you’re talking about sauna – which is a Finnish phenomenon through and through? There are approximately 2 million saunas in Finland, a country with a population of 5 million – and I couldn’t in fact find statistics from Sweden because they really are so much less common over the other side of the small pond. No one in Finland builds a house without a sauna; in Sweden virtually everyone does. Heck, even the Swedish Wikipedia entry on bastus talks mainly about the Finnish sauna phenomenon – bastus or saunas have not been researched, put into statistics, written or talked about much in Sweden, because the Swedes are a bit lukewarm about the whole sauna culture.


So quit with the Swedish thing. Sauna is Finnish.


… unless, of course, you’re talking about one of those sad versions you sometimes come across outside of Scandinavia: you know, the odd, brightly lit rooms with a temperature of +45 C and a big sign over the stove forbidding you to throw water on it (on account of it being deadly dangerous as you shouldn’t mix water and electricity – uh-huh, yeah) and where everyone insists on wearing a swimming suit, two towels and a hat; possibly sandals too. Then, as a Finn, I can’t begrudge the “Swedish” tag, because no Finn wants to be associated with an atrocity of that sort. Mind you, neither do the Swedes, in all probability. If you’re referring to a, er, “sauna” of that sort, just call it “a room in which one could practice hot yoga”.


This Has Been a Public Service Announcement Combining Semantics with a Smidgen of National Pride


PSA fuelled by Bucellas Arinto, which starts out currant and ends up lemon, and which I hereby proclaim a curmony wine.


On how-to videos

Whine wine: Anselmann Weißburgunder trocken. A fine whine wine, as whine wines go.

 

My queendom for a short and concise how-to video online. Why is it that all these people in fact want to make a video about themselves? If you want to see a demonstration of, say, how to finely chop an onion, you, more likely than not, have to sit through all of the following:

1) Opening titles (appearing one word at a time, naturally)
2) Chipper chopper-person smiling brightly and telling you HI!, who they are, why they are qualified to make this video, where they are, what this video will be about (because the two titles that you have seen so far are def. not enough to make you confident that you’ve opened the correct video), what they will be doing, and how this is all going to be so super-duper.
3) Chopper-person walking through the kitchen to fetch an onion from a basket, opening a drawer to retrieve a knife, and a cupboard to take out the chopping board, perkily explaining what they are doing the whole time.
4) Chopper-person placing an onion on the chopping board and taking a knife in their hand, explaining all details relating to the onion, the chopping board, and the knife.
5) Chopper-person actually chopping the onion, detailing how they do it as they do it.
6) Chopper-person smiling brightly with their chopped onion, telling us that they chopped an onion in an ever so effective manner and it was so great and awesome and you can now do all sorts of things with the chopped onion, like, wow, the onion got well and truly chopped.
7) Chopper-person smiling brightly without an onion and talking about what the video was about and hopes it was useful and that you enjoyed it and will come back with your other chopping needs and have a nice day and see you next time and wave!
8 ) Closing titles (long, rolling, include chopper-person thanking their dog for unwavering support).

 

You only need to film 5). Really.

 

On escalator etiquette

(Another bottle of Steininger Riesling – it seems to be my go-to bottle when I can’t be bothered with decision making at the local monopoly shop)

 

Look: this is very short and very simple and not difficult to grasp at all.

 

For Pete’s sake, DO NOT stop at the top/bottom of an escalator when you get off! Even though you stop dead on your tracks in order to contemplate where you should be heading, what you need from the grocer’s and what the meaning of life is, really, the escalator does not stop moving, and the people on said moving escalator behind you have to go somewhere, and you are blocking the way.

 

Shee-esh.

I hate silicone cake tins

(Whine wine: Fernway Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – nice, albeit a touch more herbal than I prefer)

 

Anti-stick my foot! Never, ever trust in the supposed releasing magic of silicone tins, for it does not exist. You still have to butter & flour the tin if you wish to get your cake out of it. As an added aggrevating bonus, if your cake does stick to the silicone tin, there is no way, no way at all, you can get it out in one piece. With your trusty old metal tin, you could try the cold towel trick, and in most cases it would actually work. Nothing can be done to save a cake that has become stuck to a silicone tin: you can forget about pretty cake slices and start planning a trifle.

 

Silicone tins are also bendy and twisty: this means that they only work with very sturdy baked goods anyway. A delicate cake is going to start going to pieces when you try and invert the useless, spineless mould, because it won’t hold its shape. Oh, and let’s not forget that you must always place the tins on a cookie sheet, for the very same reason. How handy.

 

Unless you only and exclusively bake very hard bread, the only thing silicone tins have going for them is the fact that they don’t go ”clangggg!!” when you put them in the cupboard.

 

On queueing

Fuel: Malat Riesling Kellergärten 2008. Very lemony – my palate prefers the curranty rieslings, but hey, I’ll drink it.

 

Let’s review the purpose of queueing. The purpose of queueing is for a bunch of people to get to where they need to go, one at a time, in an orderly, fair & just fashion. Nobody particularly enjoys it, but most people keep their urge to jump the queue in check, because they realise that the other people in the queue are not enjoying the queueing any more than they are. In other words, it’s agreed that you must keep things fair in order not to be an asshole.

 

For some reason, however, even otherwise sane people constantly commit these queueing sins:

 

  1. Ignoring the one queue rule. Two (or more) desks, one line, and the space has been clearly organised in a way that makes the one-queue system feasible, if not recommendable. Sensible people have formed one queue. An soon-to-be-asshole comes in, decides that the queue is in fact 10 centimetres closer to desk 1 than to desk 2, takes this to mean that the five people are all queueing to desk 1, and promptly positions him/herself behind the person at desk 2, feeling all smug. No. This is a sin.
  2. Upon leaving, handing the unused queueing ticket number to someone who just walked in. A person walks in, takes a number from the ticket dispenser, and sees that there are 17 people in front of him or her. The person waits, 10 more people come in and take numbers, the soon-to-be-asshole decides not to wait any more, and… for some reason, hands their ticket to whoever happens to walk in as they’re leaving. No. No no no. You just seriously pissed off the 10 people who walked in after you and hence became a queueing asshole. Stuff the ticket in your pocket or throw it in the bin, but do not let someone jump the queue with it. It is a sin.
  3. Not taking out the papers, cards and whatnots needed at the desk in good time. The at-this-point-already-a-queueing-asshole finally gets to the desk and only then starts to dig through their purses/pockets to find the cash card, and, hang on, I have a post-it here somewhere with that info I need, then I have the loyalty card, just saw it the other day, hmm, hmm, oh oh oh, and I have a coupon, let’s see where I put it… No. Plenty of time to do the digging when you’re standing and waiting. Do not unnecessarily add to the queueing time of others. It is a sin.

 

This has been a public service announcement against queueing sins leading to assholeness. Thank you.

On Finns and their recipes

Fuel: Weingut Steininger Riesling Kamptal 2010. Fresh and green and delicious; gives a few New Zealander sauvignon blancs a run for their money.

 

Bless my fellow Finns – we are weird and spunky sort of people with plenty of talents and strengths typically found in the smaller nations. One of those strengths is not recipe writing, however.

 

Enter a Finnish recipe forum. Ask for a recipe, for example: ”I would like to make some sort of quick and spicy pasta dish tonight – I’m thinking with chicken – anyone have a good recipe to recommend?” Behold the answers: ”Oh, I made the best dish last week, you should definitely try it! Here’s the recipe: chicken, pasta, tomatoes, tomato paste, cream cheese, onions (if you like), spices. It was sooo good!”

 

I’m glad it was good. However, what you just wrote there, dahlink, is not a recipe and does not help anyone to recreate the bestest dish you made last week. It’s just a vague list of ingredients.

 

But you must not say so! Do not make the cardinal sin of asking them to be more specific: How much cream cheese did you use? What kinds of spices? How much of each? What did you do with the ingredients? Bake them? Fry them?? Pray tell! If you do, you will most likely be subjected to a condescending, hurt answer along the lines of ”Well of course it all depends on you taste, doesn’t it, I can’t know how much cayenne you like in your food. Just make it as you like it. Haven’t you ever cooked before?” [insert implied huffs, puffs, and eye rolls]

 

You know, maybe I really haven’t cooked before. Does that mean I should never start? Everyone has been a beginner at some point, and some of those beginners do not start cooking by ear, but actually prefer to follow recipes. Some fairly experienced cooks do not cook by ear, but actually prefer to use recipes, maybe tweaking them here and there to their liking (because now they know what their liking is). Some of us never evolve into great, instinctive cooks and actually prefer to use recipes, like, always. So what? That’s why recipes exist. And it is, in fact, not particularly helpful to say to someone looking for a spicy pasta dish with chicken that they should make a dish using pasta, chicken and spices. No, I’m being quite serious: it isn’t.

 

A recipe is supposed to contain the following, at the very least:

First and foremost and absolutely: the required ingredients along with their quantities. It is quite permissible to say “or to taste” after quantities of spices if you feel a need to cover your ass, but for Pete’s sake give a quantity;

Equipment needed to prepare the dish (Pot? Frying pan? Bowls? Oven? Stovetop? What?);

A list of preparation steps – what you do with your list of ingredients does make a difference. And by this I mean the specifics of what you’re supposed to do, not vague nothingness á la “Prepare ingredients into a dough. Bake bread in oven until done.” (A real-life example!) When do I add each thing; do I whip, beat, or stir; what is the oven temperature; what size cake tin do I need – every step.

 

Gone are the days when recipes were written for professional cooks and served mainly as reminders for someone who already knew how to prepare the dish. Most dinners these days are made by non-professional cooks, and recipe writing conventions reflect that. Tempora mutantur, move with them, people.

On exercise

Fuel: Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. One of my current favourites: gloriously fresh and curranty. Nectar of the goddesses, nay, nectar for the goddesses.

 

One of the oft-repeated and uncontested truths of our time is that we all like exercising and that people who say they don’t, simply haven’t tried enough. You know what they say: you just have to find your own sport, the one you enjoy, and then you too can become a sporty, sweaty person who is ever so happy and healthy! Maybe you’re a solitary type! Maybe you enjoy team sports! Maybe dancing is for you! Just keep looking, you will sooo enjoy exercising when you find the one! Yeah baby!

 

What a load of tosh. The types of exercise I have tried in my life include but are not limited to: jogging, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, badminton, zumba, long jump, various forms of aerobics under fancy names and to various kinds of music, the gym, The Firm, high jump, latino dancing, ashtanga yoga, the exercise ball, sprint, circuit training, pilates, step, skating, cycling, and swimming. See? I have tried. I have tested the theory. I feel fairly certain I have covered most general types of exercise, from the simple to the involved, from the straightforward to the artsy. I fucking hated it all. I could stand some of the forms of exercise for about three times (I blame novelty), after which I fucking hated them.

 

Look: all exercise involves sweating, being out of breath and experiencing discomfort. I DO NOT enjoy sweating and being out of breath and uncomfortable, no matter how this state of affairs comes to be*. I enjoy sitting and reading.

 

At this point the happy sweaty person will pull out the next weapon: but you get such a high when you’ve exercised! It’s so wonderful, what a feeling! You’ll be hooked! Yeah baby!

 

I have no idea what you’re talking about. The only high I’ve ever experienced after exercising comes from the knowledge that I don’t have to do it again for at least 24 hours, likely 48. Now that’s joy, right there. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that if I never exercise, I can experience this high all the time.

 

The simple truth of the matter is this: you exercise fanatics are no more the norm than I am. So why don’t you stop harping on that I, in fact and quite unbeknownst to myself, do enjoy exercising, and I will refrain from telling you, with no restraint and in colourful detail, that you are all a bunch of masochistic freaks. Ok? Ok.

 

*And because someone who thinks s/he is very clever is planning to write a comment about sex right about now, I would like to point out and emphasise the word “uncomfortable”.

On karma

Fuel: Santa Ana sauvignon blanc inna box. Quite bad – left over from a recent house party. Will drink because I can’t bear to chuck wine into the bin.

 

I’ll readily admit I don’t get karma. It is not a concept that makes intuitive sense to me. It seems that whenever someone feels they’ve been wronged, they’re all KARMA WILL GET THEM! (the wrong-doers, that is) OH YEAH! So, the logic goes that a mysterious force in the universe will straighten everyone out and everyone will get their just deserts.

 

Now, wouldn’t this logically mean that the shitty thing that happened to you… was something you deserved?

On disliking David Nicholls

Fuel: Yellowglen’s Pink (with much thanks to Miss T who knows what I like). Marketed as a seriously girly, bubbly thing – I’ll readily admit I love its strawberry flavours and its spunk. It’s just on the border of a-touch-too-sweet, but never crosses it. Ah!

 

On to the gripe:

 

I’m sure I was more or less the last person to hear about the book One Day, only this autumn – I haven’t been following book news since I discovered Pratchett, Murakami and Stroud a few years back and have been busy reading everything they have produced (which, in the case of Pratchett in particular, is not a little). I only really heard about the book when I heard about the movie that was coming out, and like a true bibliophile, I will always rather read the book. My imagination is heaps better than anything Hollywood (or any other place, for that matter) can come up with. I did struggle slightly with the fact that, after having read that Emma was being played by Anne Hathaway, and I know what Anne Hathaway looks like, my mental image of Emma looked slightly like Anne Hathaway. This I could live with. David Nicholls, on the other hand, I could not. Oh, and nor could Emma.

 

You know the thing David Nicholls did in Cold Feet, where he went and killed Rachel for no good reason? He does the same thing in One Day. Yes, people (the 12 of you who have not read the book or seen the movie), Emma dies. About four fifths through the book.

 

Because that’s what David Nicholls does. Stupid, stupid, misogynistic, one-trick-pony David Nicholls. No great woman shall live! I shall shake you all to the core with this one turn of events I have been able to come up with! Ha ha! I shall create a character you really like and then kill off her for no reason, because life is shit and you should not become attached to anything! Ha ha! Look what I did there! *David Nicholls chuckles*

 

I have no idea what the remaining 1/5 of the book was about, since I cannot imagine anyone being particularly interested in what happened to the self-centred boring whatsisname who was apparently considered the other central character in the book.

 

Did I just ruin the book for you? Good. Thou shalt not spend money on it. It’s enough that I did. (And I shall be getting rid of said book through bookcrossing.com. Bwahaha! It will be somebody else’s burden soon enough!)

 

Gawd. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me, or some such thing. There will not be a third time, Mr. Nicholls. Just stop hating great women you’ve created, willya?