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Kitty corner

Recently our family size has grown by two. We took two lovely cats under our roof. The first, Didi, was found by my parents from a nearby field. The second, Unikko, we picked from an animal shelter in Raahe. Didi is quite a rascal and it’s actually sometimes exhausting to satisfy a little kitten’s need of play. Now that we have Unikko, it’s his problem. :)

But anyway, to the title of the story. I searched for cat climbing trees from internet and many of the regular examples didn’t satisfy my sense of aesthetics. But I did find some nice ones also, so I built a nice looking climbing corner for the cats using my internet finds as a basis for the plan.

General view of the kitty corner. The cat on the sofa is Didi. Here you can also see a preview of the half-panels in the corner room. I’m not posting any more pictures of the room so far because the room is not quite finished yet (floors need sanding and varnishing; there’s battens missing, etc.).

Unikko is spectating at Didi’s talented climbing.

I’m clicker training the cats. Here I am guiding Didi to the top hanging cat basket using a guide stick, clicker and cat yummies. Didi is taking a shortcut.

The queen of the castle!

Some points about the construction:

The baskets were made by sawing a spiral with band saw to edge glued boards. The table was tilted about 10 degrees. The tilting of the table prohibits the spiral’s inner part falling too much. The beginning of the spiral was glued back together.

There’s a scratching post on the wall (which the cats haven’t used much yet, unfortunately –  the stuffing between the logs is much more interesting!). It was made by sawing many closely separated grooves to a board with a table saw.

The stairs cat be adjusted to a variable angle.

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Laziness – the mother of inventions

After buying a laptop I thought I’d make a stand for it so that I could work while lying on the bed or sitting comfortably in an arm chair. I’d seen pictures of something like this so that was the basis from which I set out to do mine.

First I was just going to build “something” the quick and dirty way, and basic wooden parts were indeed ready in about 1.5 hours. But then I got carried away and tweaked, spackled, sanded, painted and made fancy height adjustment knobs for maybe another 3-4 hours.

The height and angle of the laptop support and the height of the mouse pad can be adjusted separately. If I’m lying on the bed they must be higher and laptop angle has to be steeper than when sitting in an arm chair.

In the autumn of the year before last I scavenged old theater benches with my wife from a burned down workers’ association building. They were kinda long, maybe 6 seats in one bench, but cutting away every second chair I made a bunch of single chairs. From those extra pieces (back rests) I made the laptop support and mouse pad. Looks good!

(BTW, a while ago we were cleaning places with my wife and she asked if I still wanted to save those extra bench pieces. I wanted and argued that “you never know when you need those.” To this my wife said: “You sure don’t.” Now I could needle her back and say: “You sure don’t!”)

Of course the seat numbers are almost covered when the laptop and mouse are in place. Bummer, because they are neat.

So now I’ve boosted my productivity to the max and can work even while lying down!

 

EDIT (25.8. 2010): I have since added wheels for the laptop stand so that it’s easier to push aside, but I’m too lazy to add any pictures.

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Protected: India 2010

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This year’s birthday cake

This time I practiced making marzipan decorations.  I’d seen cool marzipan rose tutorials so I wanted to try that. Pink marzipan was perfect for it (my wife had bought a batch of old-going marzipan to our freezer). Hmm. But pigs are also pink! So pigs there were. The cake had a nice surreal atmosphere around it now… with a huge rose in the middle and pigs running around it.

Oh dear, one of the pigs made a doodoo…

The happy pig:

The sad pig:

The pooing pig:

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Snow castle

It would have been more useful to make a door for the living room or continue my software project but we made a snow castle.

Rest of the images are in Picasa.

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Electing homosexual as the president makes a difference

The conservative camp of the Finnish presidential elections has made comments that have criticized (appropriately) that for many people Pekka Haavisto‘s homosexuality is the only reason to vote him. It is true that if Haavisto wasn’t a homosexual he probably wouldn’t have got to the second round of the elections. His popularity has been a counter strike against the extreme conservatives’ and fundamental Christians’ homophobia.

It is also true that he doesn’t have such a complete resume of state leadership as Sauli Niinistö. Luckily his resume is concentrated in the area where the president of Finland has official power – the foreign policy outside EU. Haavisto is certainly capable of being the president. I think it’s unnecessary to talk about which one of the candidates would be more capable. They would be different kind of presidents. Whereas Niinistö would travel around the world with trade delegations, Haavisto would also, but he would do peace negotiating at the same time. Haavisto does regard human rights more important than trade but thanks to his pleasantness he can criticize governments without them blowing their tops off – as he did in Vietnam with one trade delegation. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a president who would have balls to tell China that “Hey, I think you should honor human rights” and meet Dalai Lama?

I like that Haavisto has emphasized about him being a peace middleman and stressed the benefits of world peace to Finland. Wars bring asylum seekers and are expensive to the society. It’s more economical to solve the problems where they occur than deal with the consequences. It’s best for everybody to encourage business in third countries than watch living standard refugees gathering in developed countries. Haavisto has also talked about getting the social footprint to import product prices. It’s wrong that Chinese teenage girls do slave work so that Finns could buy products cheaper. If labor unions would prosper in China the prices of the Chinese products would rise which would even out the competition. If they won’t prosper, in long term we’ll be in a situation where Finnish workers have to give up their rights and benefits.

Haavisto has emphasized his foreign politics know-how so much that it has begun to irritate some people. He hasn’t forgotten to talk about the regular people’s problems, but in homeland the president can only be a value leader – a thing that is not an insignificant one, though. I believe that Haavisto could be the uniter of this scattered and each others scolding people.

Then the homosexuality. I’ve heard comments that “it’s not appropriate that the president is a homosexual” and “how could Haavisto’s partner Antonio Flores represent Finland?”. The first claim has barely ever been reasoned with anything but the Bible or the perception that Finland would be laughed at abroad or Finland’s status would deteriorate on the international political field. I’m not even going to argue with fundamental Christians. I’m just pointing out the anecdotal analogue of them: Arguing with a fundamental Christian is like playing chess with a pigeon. First it knocks over the pawns, then it craps on the board and finally flies to it’s own flock to tell that he won the match. The analogue means (I’m really explaining in words of one syllable) that people referencing the Bible throw away all the rules and laws by using a 2000 year old book as their source. A book that has not been written by God but people – some of which may (you can’t prove otherwise) have been total nutcases. I myself don’t regard Jesus as the son of God but a great religious leader who preached sympathy, love and equality. The fundamentalists read Bible as devils would and pick only the negative things. Oh yeah, but they love homosexuals too and support them in their quest to become heterosexuals. *Sigh*

Well does Finland’s status deteriorate abroad? Will Haavisto get hanged if he goes to Saudi-Arabia? One election worker from The Green Party told me that she had asked that from a Pakistani group of men when she was working on Rotuaari pedestrian street in the city of Oulu. The Pakistanis had stared at her like “Oh, you’re asking this?” They thought that the Finns choose their own president and if Saudi-Arabia mistreats Haavisto it’s their own shame. How bad self-esteem we Finns can have? Additionally I’m wondering why suddenly the nationalist party of Finland, The True Finns are suddenly worried about what the Saudis think… I’m also referring to the article in Kaikki Elämästä -blog (sorry, only in Finnish) that remarked that the openly gay foreign minister of Germany Guido Westerwellen has made several visits in the Middle East without problems. Also Haavisto himself has visited some very homophobic countries. The president is (also) protected by diplomatic immunity so he will certainly not be physically violated.

I think Finland would have this one opportunity to show an example in something. By choosing for the first time in the world an openly homosexual president with direct election Finland would show the rest of the world that it is a society that is slowly moving towards complete equality where origin and genes don’t determine how high a person can climb as long as he’s mentally capable. It would have a vast international significance. It would force all countries in the world to ponder their own attitude towards homosexuality. Then the question about how Antonio Flores could represent Finland would get a simple answer: by being Antonio Flores, a regular Ecuadorian hair-dresser who just happens to be the partner of the president of Finland. Who can claim that Sauli Niinistö’s wife Jenni Haukio’s market value would be higher than Antonio Flores’? Antonio Flores’ market value would be Jenni Haukio’s market value to the tenth power. I can only imagine the media rush around him if Haavisto would be selected as the president. Pekka Haavisto, Antonio Flores and Finland would get a lot of praising and of course a lot of criticism. But it would induce a lot of discussion and one motto and goal of The Green Party – “all different, all equal” – would twitch a millimeter closer to realizing. This would make me extremely proud of being a Finn.

Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish presidential election candidate

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Web design

I made a site where I offer web design and installation service for WordPress and Drupal: Neettisivuut. Don’t look at this site, look at that! There’s a saying that shoemakers shoes are always ragged :)

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Third glass to old windows (quick and cheap)

If you’re planning to upgrade from triple glass windows to modern argon filled selective glass window modules, your investment may never pay itself back. However moving from double glass windows to triple glass windows or better saves more energy and payback time is shorter.

In our case destroying the historically valuable windows by moving to modern window modules was out of the question. I could have added window modules between the outer and inner glass but that would have been expensive, since every window has multiple screens: three or six. Every screen would have required its’ own module. The modules would not have been invisible either and could have spoiled the historical looks of the windows.

Still, double glazed windows do condensate a lot of water during fall and early winter when the temperature is going down and the relative humidity inside is still high. It’s a drag to wipe them every morning.

So I ran a little test: I added a third glass on the outside of the inner window frame last winter. That reduced the condensation a lot. There was only a little condensation at the lower edge on the most extreme low temperature days (I think we had something like -35 C degrees here). It evaporated by itself during the day.

Recently I added a third glass to every window we have. I cut the glass myself from the windows we had gathered from various sources, so the glass itself was free. I attached the glass with small strips of thin sheet metal that could be bent with fingers. I punched holes to the other end of the strips and screwed them to the window frames. I sealed the gap between the frame and glass with P-profile window seal (P-profile allows a bigger gap). Note that you may have to leave gaps in the seal if you see condensation between the inner and middle glass (only the inner seal must not have gaps). The attaching points of the metal strips leave naturally small air channels, so I haven’t left any gaps, but haven’t seen condensation either.

The whole job, dismantling the gathered windows, cutting glass, making the metal strips, cleaning the windows (and scraping of spilled paint drops: I hadn’t done this earlier) and attaching the glasses took six days. That’s for 46 screens. But I believe most of the time was used in cleaning the windows. The whole thing cost only 83 euros for the 200 meters of window seal. I think the payback time will be short.

The third glass is also almost invisible from inside. Only if you look from a steep angle, you can see the metal strips. From outside you rarely pay attention on the inside frame, plus often you have reflections to block the view anyway, or it’s too dark.

Here’s some pictures:

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Outer hall (almost) finished

Our outer hallway is almost finished. I’ve been doing it last two and a half weeks, 10-14 hour days.

We tried to bring some Indian feeling to it. Since we loved the colonial English architecture (especially hotel Prince) in Mussoorie on our last visit to India, we took the popular colors green and white from there.

The big panel doors were in the house already when we bought it but I had to restore them first. Two of them were so badly burned that I had to put plywood on the backside. That’s alright since  it only shows when you open them. I made the upper cabinet doors myself.

The folding seats were inspired by some pictures from internet but I had to design the exact mechanism. I wanted them as flat as possible since the room is not that wide.

The hat shelf and shoe rack are made by me. There are “trays” under the shoe racks so that if dirt falls from the shoes, it doesn’t fall on the shoes below. The trays can be pulled out and cleaned. I bought a shoe dryer which I put on the wall inside the cabinet.

The key cabinet was found from the junkyard and was made by someone called “Teuvo” at school. I modified it a bit.

Floor tiles and seals are brown simply because it doesn’t show dirt so well and we bring it in all the time in our shoes.

The elephant head handles were bought from Rishikesh. They also bring Indian atmosphere.

I still need to make the door between outer and inner hallway (that’s why the title says “almost” finished). Then we need a bronze Shiva statue on the key cabinet, a red carpet and an old Indian man in white uniform, red turban and an old Enfield rifle on his shoulder standing by the door…

Here are some pictures:

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I painted a picture of myself

The last time I painted I was about 14. I used oil paints back then. Recently I read a book about painting and got excited again. Luckily there were acrylic painting sets and canvases on sale in Lidl (the pan-European cheap grocery store chain) so I bought them. Then I took a picture of myself, drew that and colored it. Drawing took about half an hour and coloring about two hours. So here’s my first painting in adult age and the first ever acrylic painting:

Cultural aristocrat

It’s name is “Cultural aristocrat”. I think it’s pretty damn good considering that it’s been twenty years since my last painting. Reading the book really helped.

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