Friday, August 31, 2007

Helsinki Fun

Mom is motivating me to embrace my final time in Finland. We had some tourist time in Helsinki. I've been to Helsinki millions of times, but there were many many tourist attractions that I had still not visited. This is the church in the rock, an architecture specialty.

Sennatori Finnish church:
Berries berries berries:

Mom in front of the lady statues in the Esplanadi:
Jump for joy in from of Sibelius's monument:
Thanks for a fun visit mom!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

World Water Week in Stockholm

World Water Week is held every August in Stockholm. NGOs, government ministers, and people in water and development fields get together and listen to each other speak, hold interactive seminars, panel discussions, and provide a venue for organizations to meet.

The conference had a strong focus on global warming this year, which was certainly appropriate with our numerous catastrophic disasters in recent years. Some of the messages that I brought home from Stockholm were:

  1. The poor will/have been suffering disproportionately from global warming induced natural disasters. Developed/wealthy countries have the responsibility to provide aid when disasters occur and resources to encourage development in a sustainable way. We developed inappropriately and now the entire world (developed, and less developed even more so) is suffering because of our mistakes. It’s time for us to pay, educate, and work together with the less developed world to find a solution where everyone’s goals are met.
  2. Communication communication communication! The water sectors, the health sectors, government, and private donors must work together, give each other feedback, and ask for help if they need it. This will make the reduction of diarrheal diseases more efficient, reduce overlapping work and responsibilities, and perhaps reduce conflicts in the management of water and development projects. This is especially important for me as a potential future NGO worker. NGOs are often funded to address a single issue (water treatment, HIV, TB, etc.), but these issues are quite complicated. NGOs are an important part of the picture, but communication is vital!
  3. Communication, communication, communication! I already said this one, but I’m saying it twice. Communication between different fields is also crucial in addressing water issues efficiently. At one of the workshops that I attended, we were discussing communication between policy people and scientists, and the lack thereof. The speaker asked all policy people to raise their hands. There was one! There were over 50 scientists present. Conferences are a good place to start with interdisciplinary communication.
  4. Sanitation needs more attention! We study sanitation a lot and we do not address it enough. Sanitation should be incorporated into water treatment installations and projects.
  5. Transboundary issues are important in water management! Transboundary issues can easily get a room full of people excited. We, uh, need to settle those issues because it’s a shame to see people die of preventable diarrheal diseases while we’re too busy fighting with each other to help them. Of course it’s complicated and I didn’t come up with any solutions to address transboundary water issues. International conflict is terrible!
  6.! This website has useful charts of world distribution of wealth and time dependent trends and predictions. Check them out and use them if you need them!
  7.! This website has compiled water quality data from countries all over the world. It links various databases together and returns a quick visually pleasing display of a variety of water quality parameters. It’s fun to flip through.
  8. What bothers me most about U.S. global warming policy is that we are not even trying. We have NOT even assessed the available resources, come up with a solution, tried it, and then failed. We haven’t even tried. We’re too busy fighting (again) over whether we should try or not. In the meantime people are dying in catastrophic disasters. The U.S. was criticized by various people at World Water Week, particularly in the area of global warming policy. I believe that the poorest people of the poorest nations are suffering the most from our lack of political cooperation. Let’s get ourselves together and be responsible world citizens!
I assisted in this conference with about 20 other young professionals and students. I was impressed with the other assistants' experience in the field as well as their interest. It was a fun group. The picture above is of Hannah and me. She's 19 years old and she's already worked on a project in India and is attending water conferences!
Highschool-aged students from around the world were invited to represent their countries and present water related projects. The team from Mexico was congratulated by Sweden's crown princess and awarded the 2007 Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Their project used eggshells to remove lead from water.

The conference organized a host of cultural events and entertainment. It was a huge success and a wonderful learning experience for me!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I saw both Bobby and mom on this trip! Both sort of random encounters and both very fun!!!If you like bikes, you should go to Copenhagen!
Of course, I had to take a picture of classic Copenhagen! Here it is as we always see it in the pictures:
We visited some old grain silos that had been converted into very expensive and fancy apartment buildings. We were eventually asked to leave, but got some photos first! Rebecca and Libby are architects from the UW, so I got to pick up bits and pieces of architecture trivia (in exchange for diarrheal disease trivia, of course)

Libby and Todd just bought this beauty to ride around Copenhagen in the Fall. They have two dogs back home that will definitely benefit (and look cool) chillin out in the passenger basket! These bikes were pretty common on the streets of Copenhagen. I even saw an entire family riding in one!
windmills windmills windmills!
Ain't it pretty? Copenhagen was a beautiful city! I want to go back! Thanks for the wonderful hospitality Libby and Emma!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vapriikki- VELOMANIA!!!

It wasn't just a good bicycle history exhibit, with lots of cools bikes that ranged from the running machine to modern day miniature tandems, but it put cycling right in the middle of Tampere's history. The museum, Vaprikki, is housed in one of Tampere's many re-used industrial buildings that line the Tampere rapids.
Cycling was transformed from a hobby for the wealthy to a practical form of transportation. At one point, next to skiing, it was the most important form of transportation for the Finnish army.

Bike registration was related to wars, economy, and industry. Since Tampere has been an important industrial center in Finland, perhaps the bicycle played a role in its success! At least that's what I think. There was even bicycle powered logging equipment, used in the paper industry.

There was a bit of a queue to ride this bike. Too bad I couldn't take it outside and ride it around the streets of Tampere!

Dad's Visit: Helsinki and Tallinn

Back in June, Dad dropped by Tampere. That was way back during field sampling. It was nice to see dad's calming face between intensive periods in the lab (that occurred due to a scheduling glitch on my end:-). He was a good sport about it. We spent several mornings walking around Tampere, but we also had some GREAT trips to Tallinn (Estonia) and Helsinki! I had a great time, but will look forward to future trips with dad when I don't have to run off to the lab almost every day! Here are a few photos of our adventures.



I was impressed by Tallinn's graffiti!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lone Lukonmakian

My flatmate went back to Slovakia on Tuesday.
Since she was almost the last one, except for me, it's pretty quiet around Lukonmaki. Lukonmaki is not a wild neighborhood, even in March or April. We have one grocery store within walking distance. In the winter time we have the famous ski hill, but its days are in remission. There are some nice little hikes, but that's it. If I wake up in the morning and I realize that I don't have any cash or any food, I have to hope I have some credit on my bus pass to make it seven kilometers into town. Four gentlemen recently moved into an apartment upstairs. They spend their free time getting so drunk that they can't walk and then stumbling around my (locked) apartment door. One of them invited me to one of their parties: No thanks! Please don't slobber on my door. I need some housing allies.Anyway, I was thinking about all of the fun times around Lukonmaki and all of the people who I wish were here. I suspect (and hope) the new students will move in any minute, and I'm only here for another month and a half (a substantial portion of which time I will be attending conferences in other countries). I appreciate the old Lukonmaki crew with the greatest respect and admiration! We had a lot of fun in Lukonmaki, with pretty much just ourselves (I'm realizing)!Especially right there. That's FUN that they're having! Especially Emnet.

I'm heading out to Stockholm (on my favorite ferry) next week. I'm planning to attend World Water Week, a conference that focuses on policy and scientific water issues with a goal of reducing poverty around the world. It's huge and it lasts all week long. A few weeks ago I thought I was going to Stockholm by myself. Then I found out about Ryan and Megan, some ex-Vallers who stayed in Stockholm for an extra year. I was super glad because it's nice to know people when going to relatively new places. They know special secrets and it's always fun to see other Americans since I hardly ever see any in Tampere. And then I randomly found out last night that my friend Bobby happens to be passing through Scandinavia (from California) during World Water Week. I haven't seen him in a year! That's going to be so much fun! And then, I'm embarrassed about this one, but I just realized today that MY MOM is actually going to be in Stockholm for the first two days of the conference. I can't believe I didn't realize that one a long time ago. She's flying in directly from Oxnard. It's going to be a huge U.S.-fest gathering in the evenings, after the conference festivities. I love Stockholm (even without all of my friends and relatives), it's going to be a great conference and fun times!