jims - Column for 8/16

A typical day (there have only been two so far) here in HElsinki is pretty eventful. Somehow, I thought the idea of a yoga workshop would be good. If nothing else, it means that I am keeping some semblance of sanity in my daytime hours (read that as 05:45 - 00:15), which is more than I can say for London. The favorite phrase among the group of us there, when at the club, 'Let's just have one more."
Awake before six, shit, shave, and shower, and I am out the door. Bike and yoga mat in tow, I head off for the shala (also known as a yoga studio). Practice is self paced, starting with warm ups which are known as suryanamaskar A and B (see www.ashtanga.com). Progress is then towards the standing postures followed by the beginnings of the primary series. Along the journey, the masterful hands of the instructors guide where help is needed.

Guide, however, may not be the right word. Yoga, at one level, is about opening the body -- stretching and making the body more limber. Each pose working a different part of the body. If you read deeper into books, each pose has a beneficial aspect to internal systems as well. But, enough of that, let's get back to stretching. Those guiding hands are there to help one better achieve a pose. While being assisted, you soon discover new muscles, tendons, and find your body stretching to lengths that either you did not know were possible or have not achieved in years. All the while, the pain slowly increases, breath quickens, and you feel it. Some affectionately refer to this as good pain. It is a type of pain that physical activity is good at producing.

After contorting, bending, and engaging mula banda, it is back on to the bike. A brief stop at the hotel for viewing the porn channel, changing clothes, and grabbing necessary items -- bike bag, computer, etc. Remounting the bike (*insert Beavis and Butthead comment about the word mount), it is off to work -- meetings near the mothership (Nokia offices) testing product interoperability. Given the prominence of the mothership world wide, the offices are fairly understated except for the helicopter pad.

The ride in is mostly uneventful, excluding constantly feeling like I am getting lost (despite being on the right track). People are fishing from the bridges, biking along the road, some people are rollerblading, some watching the water. One morning, rounding a corner, I see a line of clothes followed by two bikes. No one around, as I get closer, splashing. Looking back, briefly, the heads of two older men swimming in the water. Being this close to the artic circle, it surely can't be warm, though I am assured that it is. I don't want to test the amount of shrinkage that would occur in this water.

Meetings, like most computer related meetings, are high on the number of geeks and low on the number of women. There is more equipment here than anything else. Even after several beers, a router or vpn box still looks like a router or a vpn box. The day consists of 'test a, fix b'.

Evenings, well, yoga does not let me out late. There are a number of clubs here in Helsinki and they do not appear to be as pretentious as the clubs in London. However, one thing they do lack hear is good live music. I am not going to count the Nordic break dancing group with a back up band. That was just strange. Cafes and restaurants are plentiful, and crowded late.

Back tracking briefly, however, to revisit pain and suffering. With yoga, it is possible to stretch too far, one has to listen to your body. Sports injuries are never fun. They can be excruciatingly painful. The pain, possibly comparable to that first doctor's appointment when a male reaches the age of thirty -- the doctor, snapping glove, entry, and cough. It is the same feeling when dealing with the UK mail system and sending a package overseas.

The US postal system gets a bad rap. Considered slow, unreliable, and the employees (at times) surly, it is still pretty cheap. Three letters mailed for a dollar. Packages can be mailed internationally reasonably as well. A six pound package from the US bound for Britain sent via economy (surface mail) is about $25 with Global Express being about $40. To send the same package the opposite direction, it requires the same numbers, but in pounds instead of dollars. Thus, your $25 surface mail is at least $40. Express is no where near $40, much closer to $100. So, when you are visiting the UK and are wanting to mail a package home, make sure you are prepared to grab your ankles and accept what may come.

Columns by jims