khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

Daylight reveals our hotel to be in the middle of some quite beautiful mountains. Not bad. We drive down to Balaklava and tour the submarine base, which is exactly as magnificent as expected, with large hallways, the dank, musty smell of water and concrete, and sound effects to further liven up the experience. Inspired, I buy a stripy sailor shirt, of which there is an abundance—apparently a typical Crimean souvenir. We also take a small stroll around the small harbour, marvelling at the beauty of the bay and the Crimean mountains. People are fishing, swimming and sunbathing at the harbour, cats and dogs trod around lazily and nap on chalk stone stairs.

Trying to find a panorama hill, we end up in the Malakhov hill museum, instead, but it's an interesting display, nonetheless.

Ah, Ukraine, the land of war monuments, endless fields, nutty drivers, and elastic toilet paper.

The greek ruins of Cherseson and the basilica of St. Nikolaus are next on the agenda, and we spend hours admiring gardens, strolling through ruins and watching swallows and other small birds by the strand. The basilica is actually very new, rebuilt since the original one was devastated during WW2, (mostly) finished in 2001, and gives the overall impression of a tourist spot and not much else. There's a mass going on upstairs, however, which we stare at and listen to for awhile.

On the other side of the bay is a beautiful park and a boulevard, which we inspect thoroughly, then have sushi for dinner at an amazingly inexpensive restaurant with English-speaking waitstaff. At some point, a guy dressed as a cowboy and two ladies in golden sequinned mini-dresses make a sales pitch at us, and all we understand is that it's about a drink called Olmeca. After sundown the boulevard is filled with party people and loud music, there's even a karaoke stand in the park.

Two very small foxes run by the road back to the hotel.

We hope for a clear sky so we might be able to shoot stars a bit before retiring for the evening.

khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

Godsdammit the Tactical Missile Museum was worth every hryvna. Not only were the tactical vehicles, heavy machinery and missiles outside incredibly impressive, but we also go to go inside the actual base, walk the cold concrete tunnels and climb ladders and cram ourselves into a tiny lift and end up in the bloody command centre itself, 35 metres below surface, and there was the red button of doom on the keyboard of doom, blinking lights and switches to flick, and we got to sit in the actual seat where the komendant sat. The guides were old military guys, which was very apparent from how they spoke and behaved, but under there they suggested all kinds of cool photos we could take (by speaking Ukrainian and waving their hands a lot)—and boy, did we.

As soon as we left the missile museum, we were taken by a massive rainstorm, and knowing the locals would be about as safe to drive among as nuclear warheads, we took a small break by a flooding petrol station. Heading south now. A hailing strikes, too, and we wait some more.

Lightless cars bug us severely, and surpassing lorries proves difficult at times. Slowly but steadily, the vegetation shifts from very familiar to familiar to slightly strange, and at times the landscape greatly resembles northern, rural Italy. Indeed, the word 'rural' describes the southern part of Ukraine quite precisely, as the vast fields (sunflowers, wheat and corn) are only sparsely punctuated by little villages, and in them, people selling goods on both sides of the road. Stray dogs wander around nearly every petrol station and market stall, crows and hawks fly over our heads, and butterflies flutter on and beside the road. There's a hillock with a numbered door in the field every now and then, presumably a bunker. The golden light of the setting sun forms a ukrainian flag together with the perfectly blue sky.

A few close calls happen with the traffic, specifically after nightfall in Sevastopol', where we also see the aftermath of a small car crash.

A vigorous search, consulting the map, and several language barriers later we arrive at the small village of Kujbyshevo near the mountains, our destination for tonight (and the night after that).

khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
Driving in Kiev is a complete nightmare. Impatient drivers take every chance they get to cut each other off, people park literally anywhere and any which way, and everyone drives extremely fast. Most cars are new, some very expensive, and, unlike in Italy, most are completely intact, despite the chaos. Finally we get to see the caves of the Cave Monastery. Dress code states no short sleeves or short trousers, and women must cover their hair and wear dresses or skirts. The near caves are completely crowded, hot, dark and humid, lighted only by small, hanging lanterns and the prayer candles of visitors. Photography is forbidden inside, but I wouldn't even want to, nor be able to. You just have to keep moving at all times or get told off by pissed-off tour guides. Narrow stony corridors, monks, pilgrims, icons, prayer niches, dead saints in coffins under vitrine glass—which the devout orthodox christians kiss and practically throw themselves upon—and awestruck tourists desperately navigating through the crowd. The other caves farther away are for 'praying only', and dad and brother take a pass, but me, S.O. and sister want to see them. They go a long way down underground where it's cool and nice. The passageways aren't any wider, but there's only a handful of people here, among them a small group of italian catholics and nuns. This was definitely worth climbing and descending all those stairs and hills. The monastery's garden is in full bloom, and the smell of roses is sweet, almost nauseatingly so. Next stop: The Great Patriotic War Museum, and it's exactly what it says on the tin. Just walking there to the sounds of uplifting Ukrainian music is an experience in itself. Inside. Massive granite halls full of war memoraphilia from both sides, weapons, pictures and various other exhibits from the late 30's to the mid-40's. There's precious little material in English, but there really wouldn't be time to read everything very thoroughly. Basically the entire take on WW2 here is that the evil Nazi Germany was evil and tried to conquer the world, and it was horrible, until the Soviet army gloriously pushed them back. Unlike in a similar museum in Arkangelsk, Russia, the attack on Finland was briefly mentioned. Clearly, the image they wish to convey is that of surviving severe oppression through the heroic deeds of common people and leaders of nations alike. We leave the place very impressed, and also convinced of ukrainian national pride. The nice fellow who keeps the hostel we just left helped us find a place for tonight, located along the way from here to Sevastopol', in a town called Pervomais'k. (There's plenty of places with exactly the same name, most of them in Russia. I expect giggles from any Finnish-speakers who are reading this.) Leaving Kiev, we spot a number of old and middle-aged ladies selling strawberries—wild ones, even!— on the highway. We buy some from a pleasant duo who shake their heads in wonder when we tell them we drove through Belarus. On a petrol station, two guys apparently try to swindle us, and they practically try to enter the vehicle, but we just don't understand enough of their babbling to react in any way other than repeating how we must go, and slam the car door in front of their noses. I check the phrasebook for a handy way to say "go away". "Pa!" ("Bye!") would have suited the situation, too. Pervomais'k is a town not unlike the ones we traveled through in Carelia, and the hotel is a bulky piece of concrete. Inside is mostly empty and dim, but when we get to go and see our rooms, the very ukrainian-looking receptionist takes us to a gleaming corridor with shiny black doors, and inside are very clean, spacious and new-smelling rooms with equally nice-looking bathrooms. Not what I expected! What's more, we get to park our cars behind locked gates, which is a relief. A quick stroll around town, then some grocery shopping, and back inside. Us vegans retire while the omnis go restaurant hunting, and a moment later we get a text along the lines of "No menu in English, waitstaff speaks no English, expecting surprise food."
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

This hostel is incredibly shabby. What better way to start a day than a dry shower and a toilet that doesn't flush? Yes, there's currently no water in this damn hostel.

Amazingly enough, there's yet another raw restaurant available, and even our omni company likes what they've got. After that, we plan a little, and walk through the city centre to the Dormition Cathedral to see the cave monastery. Unfortunately, we arrive too late, and take a stroll around the historical site around the cathedral instead. It's hot day, and we're all dripping sweat, walking up and down the old stairs and ramps around the monastery gardens. Sister buys a traditional embroidered shirt. Failed to buy a card. Still haven't sent any cards, but I promised, so I shall.

We loiter around town, and visit a high-end restaurant called Whisky Corner, and confuse the very polite and orderly waitstaff by ordering silly things like fries and fruit. The fruit plate is huge (700g, they always state portion sizes in menus here), and I'm given a fork and a knife. So there I am, in a fancy ukrainian whisky restaurant, cutting mega-sized grapes in half with a knife and fork, marinated in a whole day's worth of sweat and dust, feeling like one big exclamation mark.

A random guy asks us for light, then pot, but we haven't got either. Back at the hostel, I'm happy to notice the water's back. We'll try the caves again tomorrow, as well as The Great Patriotic War Museum and adjacent previously mentioned ginormous statue, called Mother Motherland.

khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

A quick stop to get some cakes to boost us up, then off to the border we go. Sparrows have built nests between and under the ceiling structures, and they whoosh above the queuing cars and lorries. Past the initial check-up the radio only plays Belarusian schlagers.

The amount of paperwork it takes to get to (and out of) Belarus is simply incredible. I keep thinking, "This is why EU. This very thing." They check our luggage every chance they get, and stall us due to some minor details in our documents, but after two hours we're done with it all and on Belarusian soil. It's warm. Fields and meadows everywhere. The road is brand new and in excellent condition.

Horse carts, doll houses, broken-down houses, storks flying over our heads, little rivers, forests. Cows, sheep. More cows. People working in the fields. Warnings for potential speeders ("Your licence will be revoked"). This country is extremely flat, and the highest point stands at 250 metres high.

TomTom takes us through Valožyn, which has us confused a while, but I consult the map, and everything is in order.

Overall I get the feeling that this country is run on strict rules and regulations, with little tolerance for deviants of any kind.

Approaching Minsk, the first thing we see are enormously tall buildings at the horizon. The closer we get, more buildings appear, then suddenly we're smack-dab in the middle of a 60's inspired science fiction metropolis, with buildings tall as the sky, neatly in rows, streets pristine and colours harmonious. Some SU era houses look unpolished—in fact, everything only seems to be either brand new or Soviet, nothing is older or in-between. I begin to understand what a belarusian fellow told us at the border. "You must visit Minsk", he'd said, "beautiful city, new city!"

We meet with my family by the Palace of Republic, a ginormous multi-column building that is impossible to miss, even amongst the other pompousness that is this city. We shoot some pics at the plaza, then we must carry on with the journey. I dread that we have yet another border to cross today.

The southern side of Minsk offers far less dramatic views, and sci-fi turns into modern Europe. Soon we're back at the countryside, with the endless fields, road construction sites and colour-coordinated cow herds. The police randomly stops both of our cars to check our documents. A little dog is trying to cross the heavily trafficked road, which breaks my heart. Everyone drives quite recklessly here, and there are lots of new cars on the highway.

Our plan now is to drive straight to Kiev, Ukraine, ETA 2:45 AM. The evening proves uneventful, and we watch the sun set at around 10 PM. This part of Belarus resembles the Carelian Russia in many ways, from the colourful but shabby houses to the weird bus-stops and the constant sightings of smoke from, one assumes, burning trash. The only significant difference is the quality of the road.

The four stages of Belarus are: 1) field 2) forest 3) tiny village, and 4) Minsk.

When we cross the border, the cars get sprayed with disinfectant. Getting out of Belarus is surprisingly painless, and into Ukraine the only additional nuisance (besides the mosquitoes) is an officer who searches both cars and asks strange questions, such as if we've got tazers, or either girls or drugs in our car—the guy's pronunciation was quite interesting. Well, we had none of those in any case, and got to be on our way.

It's stupid o'clock and still we drive towards Kiev, current ETA being 4:31. It sure paid off to get those two good nights in a row. Roads here are more random chance than in Belarus.

First impression of Kiev: shabby. We arrive at 3:51 AM, ogling at the blinking lights, lorries parked in the middle of the road, and very dodgy buildings. This looks a lot more like Russia than Belarus, only messier. Huge billboards dominate the cityscape. Some new buildings resemble the sci-fi ones at Minsk. On the other side of the river Dnjepr is clearly the newer and cleaner part of the city, also one mind-bogglingly gigantic statue. Clearly, this city has it all.

I'm posting this update a little late, since our hostel's Wi-fi didn't reach our room or, specifically, my bed.

khar_muur: (Default)

11 hours of sleep. We have breakfast at the incredibly picturesque hotel yard.

Driving through the sleepy Vilnius towards the border, we spot plenty of construction work, and notice how the roads worsen the closer we get to Belarus. Just before the actual control we're told we need an entry ticket from "a yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow wagon" one kilometre back—this turns out to be a tiny construction shack slightly off the road. A young guard hands us a small ticket without saying a word.

Waiting. A crucial document is missing, so we have to go back, (queuing on both ends for approx. 2 hours for nothing) and arrange so that we get the bloody paper delivered from Finland by tomorrow afternoon. We get a proper old-fashioned road map, since TomTom only recognises two roads in the entire country of Belarus. Sister, brother and dad get to go cross through, eventually, and travel ahead to Minsk; our visit there shall be brief.

My S.O. and I go find a hotel wait for the delivery. We wander around Vilnius, shooting pictures in old town, and find an excellent raw vegan restaurant—just think of that!—where we dine ourselves silly on soup, sushi, lasagna and pizza. A short trip to a local supermarket/ shopping centre, then back at the hotel. Lithuanian TV is in no way more interesting than I expected.

Tomorrow we'll just hang around until the letter arrives, queue at the border for hopefully no more than two hours, and meet with the rest of our troupe at Minsk; then we drive through the white spot on the map of Europe that is Belarus, and spend the next night and several days at Kiev.

khar_muur: (khar_muur07)

Napped all the way from Turku to Helsinki, having spent the night packing and tidying. A nightingale was trapped inside the tax free shop, between the window and soda cans. The buffet served mostly meat, but sister let me have some of her watermelon slices. Brother attempted death by bacon.

Saw a huge stork's nest, with the stork, standing there like nobody's business. Forgot how to language at gas station, but S.O. found beebi porgand there. Walkie-talkies randomly pick up russian channels. I have to constantly feed the driver with chocolate to keep them awake. Crossing borders just happened, no controls nor queue. A wind turbine had dropped its rotor on the field. "Moses taps drow" —sorry if that was rude.

Roads aren't half bad. BMW drivers are reckless and we warn each other whenever we spot one. Always give way to an east-European BMW. A motorcyclist decided to practice slalom on the motorway. Small falls of rain wake us up from the sun coma.

Another border in sight, and with it the remains of the day. I'm tired, but I sing along to my favourite tunes and watch lighting crack. Stupid jokes (selfish shellfish etc.).

Dozed off after finding a set of old jets and woke up in Vilnius just before arriving at the hotel. A nice, clean place, with a very friendly English-speaking receptionist. Wi-fi. Dad, sister and brother went shopping.

Exhausted. Need sleep.

Road Trip!

Jun. 2nd, 2013 12:57 am
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
At approximately 6:00 AM, it begins. The little journey we've been planning. See new countries. Speak new languages. Navigate new routes. Eat new foods. Capture new images.

We'll be leaving on a ferry at nine o'clock today, and returning somewhere around midnight on the 17th. First across the pond, then driving through the Baltics and to Belarus, then, circling the Black Sea, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania; and returning via Poland and again through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I'm just filling in an online form at matkustusilmoitus.fi so if we end up in a ditch somewhere, the Finnish foreign ministry will know which one to drench. I'm really excited, not very nervous, and slightly tired from all the organizing and tidying and shopping... mostly just excited.

Most hotels we've booked have free Wi-fi; if it's not a complete hoax, I'll be sure to send some signs of life when possible and/or convenient.

Yay!
khar_muur: (black unicorn)
They're still only processing my second name request for reasons unknown to me.

But. That other thing. The number and the letter which represent me in the legal system. Yeah, that one's in order now. Gotta learn that new cluster of numbers they gave me.

It's a small, silly thing, and yet enormous, and I am relieved.
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
You have no power over what other people talk about you.

You can't trust anyone. Everyone lies. (Is a lie really a lie if the misinformation stems from bad memory or inadequate information, therefore lacking intention to deceive?) And you might be better than you think at telling if a person is lying.

You have to let go of full control to be strong.

Everything can be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misremembered.

To survive, nearly everything is permitted, but there are no absolutes. There are no thought crimes, but repetitive thoughts have a tendency to actualize. Obsessive thoughts show on your face.

Fear, in small, consistent does, can be useful when you're trying to find the truth.
khar_muur: (muumi)
Palapelit. Videot: Valkoinen kilpikonna, Eläinten olympialaiset, Robin Hood. Sadat Kinder-yllätykset lasihyllyillä ja kipossa. Karvaiset tyynyt (oranssit), mustavalkoiset tyynyt, koirapehmolelut, ruskea sohva, nahkatuoli. Etuovessa kuusi pyöreää pientä lasi-ikkunaa, joista yhdessä (rikkimenneessä) oli pallo. Maisematapetit yläkerrassa (vihreä metsä ja joku muu, jota en muista). Sininen, kiiltävä linoleumlattia. Pöllöntapaiset haituvakarvaiset koriste-elikot portaikossa. Spagettia ja nakkeja. Herra Pippuri ja herra Suola. Pikkuinen sauna ja pesutila. Takapiha, jolla ei ikinä oltu. Parveke, jossa ei ikinä käyty. Kuntopyörä ja pieni trampoliini. Avattava kirjoituspöytä, jonka lokeroissa oli kirjepaperia ja -kuoria. Taulu, jossa on pieni lettipäinen tyttö, jolla on tumma iho ja mustat hiukset. Pyöreä ruokasalin pöytä ja valkoinen liina. Korttipakkakokoelma: isoja, pieniä, muovisia, pahvisia, koristeellisia, yksinkertaisia. "Hip-hurraa", "soronoo". Mummin hymy ja käkätys ja kirkkaansiniset silmät. Baskeri ja harmaanbeige takki, sukkahousut ja valkoiset kengät. Pieni vesilasi, jonka kyljissä oli maatilan eläimiä ja ihmishahmoja. Koristeellinen, lasinen tuhkakuppi, vaikka kukaan ei polttanut.

E: Lisäys - mummi rakasti musiikkia, etenkin vanhaa iskelmää, ja suklaata.
khar_muur: (vincent's cat)
Great. Now that I can sleep, I don't wanna. Someone reprogram my brain, please.
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
Q: People define commitment to their relationships in many different ways. We are interested in what commitment in your relationship(s) means to you. In the space provided, please describe for us how you personally define commitment and how it operates in your relationship(s).

A: Taking care of and being taken care of; being considerate; involving the person(s) in all the major aspects and decisions of your life; being emotionally open and vulnerable; spending a lot of time together; planning your future so that it involves both/all of you, and either defining the point at which said commitment will come to an end (due to circumstances that are clear and/or inevitable and known to all parties involved, for example moving abroad), or operate on the basis that it never will; a clear sense of what is expected and a willingness to compromise; mutual respect, honesty, communication, partnership, friendship, flexibility, passion, understanding, trust.


---


Q: Please use this space to tell us about anything more you think we need to know. For example, were there parts of the survey that you had problems with? Were you able to answer most things accurately?

A: All in all, I found the survey thorough and fairly precise. The only problem I had was with gender terminology and how gender was classified. (The options provided were 'male', 'female', 'transgender', and 'other' with an open text field.)

Firstly, it was unclear what exactly was being asked. 'Male' and 'female' generally refer to a set of primary and secondary sexual characteristics, not gender (although the two things are somewhat related). Therefore, 'male' and 'female' aren't identities per se, so if it was indeed gender that the inquiry was after, 'man' and 'woman' would have suited this purpose better.

The issue with listing 'transgender' as a stand-alone option for gender was problematic. While the term 'transgender' is often used as an umbrella term to describe a variety of different identities, it is not a gender. A trans* individual mostly identifies primarily as something else, and the term is only applied as an adjective (e.g. 'a transgender woman'); 'transgender' alone isn't an identity. A trans* man, for example, would choose 'male' from the options provided and wouldn't register in the data as someone with a transgender background (if this is relevant data at all). Additionally, any non-binary individuals would most likely fill the open text field, which would again render the standalone 'transgender' option useless.

For future reference, when mapping gender identity, a fairly inclusive list would have 'man', 'woman', 'androgynous', 'neutrois', 'dual-gender', and an open text field ('other: please specify'); if the trans* status of a participant is relevant, it should be asked separately from the gender options, not as one of them.

Thank you very much for participating in this important effort to further understanding of polyamory. We genuinely appreciate your time.

51 687

Nov. 30th, 2012 03:07 pm
khar_muur: (mongolian happy)
Winner-180x180

18875+

Nov. 16th, 2012 10:59 pm
khar_muur: (pyton)
I've got two characters cybering now. (Send help.) Solves the everlasting problem of how to write steamy scenes and not have it turn out like a 70's magazine for virile gentlemen–these people are just teenagers, and they're supposed to write awkwardly. This has partially silenced my inner editor's consistent howling. What's more, all dialogue is in IRC log or online forum form, so I can even forget about correcting typos–the characters either correct them, themselves, or not, if they can't be bothered, depends on the character.

I'm so much behind schedule it's not even funny, but I figure I can still make it.

9914

Nov. 9th, 2012 06:43 pm
khar_muur: (pyton)
What to write, what to write? How to motivate self?

But I'm proud of myself for one reason: I've managed to create actual dialogue; haven't had that in most anything I've written before, 'cause earlier it just came out fake and wrong. Learning!

Edit: 10859. Feels better to be on this side of 10k. Feeling better altogether, thanks to the little run.
khar_muur: (pyton)
Participant-180x180-2
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
Tässä vaiheessa prosessiani päätin kirjoittaa jatkoa aiempaan rautalangasta vääntöön. Syy päivitykselle on, että edettyäni tällä transtaipaleella olen oppinut lisää asioita kehostani, sosiaalisesta sukupuolestani ja rooliodotuksista.


Klikkaa. )

Kiitos, että luit! Kysymykset ja kommentit sallittuja, ja niihin suhtaudutaan suurella kärsivällisyydellä sekä avuliaisuudella. Niin ja typoista saa huomauttaa.
khar_muur: (khar_muur07)
Location: our new flat, which is still more like a camp than something you actually live in, but we'll get it done soon, I'm sure. More packing today at the old one, Thursday's the ultimate cleaning day of doom, and on Friday morning we hop-skip to the tenants' office and return our keys.

Due to moving, I'm horribly behind schedule with pretty much all my work, but once I get my work space organised here, I'll get back to business. Major stress, a tad anxious. Can't work like that.

Listening to: old concert recordings, mostly by Queen, getting a wee bit emotional on occasion. I tend to hate live recordings, but when it's on video and the band's no more, it's somehow completely different.

It's also my birthday today (which I'm sure anyone who reads this already knows, but what the hell) and, incidentally, also Fiore's. Little furball is turning one. Awwwwww. It's almost as big as Seitso now, although that's mostly because Seitso is too skinny. They're safe at my parents' while we're moving boxes around, and apparently S has been eating a bit better; it felt slightly fatter last night when I felt its sides. Hooray!

House hunting continues. I already found the perfect one, but it just so happens that I don't have an extra 500k sitting on my bank account right now, so... the search goes on. Our financial situation looks particularly grim at the moment, and isn't getting any better since my primary's going to study part-time this autumn. I fully endorse it, of course, and obviously it's more important than money. Just means we have to plan stuff more carefully.

We'll see how the next quarter goes.

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A Journey in the Dark

March 2016

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