This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Helsinki from above (today)

HELfromtheairThese are the Eastern suburbs of Helsinki from above, at night. The bright spot to the far left is Vuosaari harbor. The black triangle cutting in to the top third from the right side is Vartiokylä bay. I grew up running around it and taking a plunge at the end. When my family moved to this part of town in the early 80s, our street was unpaved and ended in fields of crops and horse stables. The houses were all built right after World War II. There was an old broken horse-pulled rake of some kind lying by the side of the road for years. There were meadows and forests and a brook.

Now most of that is gone. The brook is still there, protected. But the meadow is tiny, and the forests, fields, and horses are gone. I am glad I had a childhood where I got to climb trees, jump around in ice cold water, and roll around in the meadows. The kids who grow up there today will not have such a childhood.

(Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


What is beauty?

factoriesWhat do you think, is this photo beautiful? Do you see light, color, and fluffy clouds matching the fluffy smoke? Or do you see a planet in destruction, no trees and no Nature anywhere?

Is there a collective, pan-human sense of esthetics, or is what our mind considers beautiful conditioned by the surroundings we are subjected to? How much of our sense of esthetics is objective, focusing on for example form, color, and light; and how much is subjective, weighed down or lifted up by our personal values, memories, and associations?

Complicated thoughts one morning above the Netherlands.

(The Netherlands; March 2018)

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Ice on the wings

deicingDe-icing aircrafts is the constant messer-up of winter flight schedules. You can do it like they do it on Heathrow: spend 10 minutes drenching each wing, minutely combing through every square centimeter of the wing with the flashlight, causing an average delay of 1 hour for a rush-hour departure. Or you can do it the Finnish style: zap-zap-final-finishing-look and done. All in a matter of 2 minutes. It saves drenching the airport in toxic liquids, and somehow, saving time and substance does not seem to cause any more accidents. Because ice on wings can be deadly.

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2018)

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Snow chaos? Never in Finland

airportwinterIn London, Heathrow airport closes after 5 centimeters of snowfall. If it can be expected, flights are “proactively canceled” even two days before, to ensure smooth running of most critical services. News broadcast snow warnings, and travelers are stuck on the airport for days.

In Helsinki it is business as usual after 20 centimeters of snow. Sure, it is a bumpy ride on the snow-packed, frozen taxiways. Sure, one has to jump into the freshly fallen snow and somehow drag one’s cabin bag behind, wheels locked and uncooperative. Sure, flights are a little delayed. But the eight or so huge brush-equipped snow plows zooming across the runway in formation at some 60 km/hour speed every once in a while is what makes most of the difference. Is it really not worthwile for Heathrow to invest in a little basic snow-how?

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2018)