9/30/10

Home at Last

Yesterday was a long day of travel. Up at 530 am, bus to airport, then flights--2 hours from Helsinki to Frankfurt, 3 hour layover, then 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to Denver. Lufthansa was a great airline, though. Food, service, in flight entertainment--all superior to KLM, British Air, Air France, and SAS.When I arrived at the last stop for the airport bus, I looked out the bus window and saw my family, with the kids jumping up and down yelling "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" Are there any happier moments concocted by life? I can't imagine one.

9/28/10

Wrapping it up in Finland

It is hard to believe it has been a month already, but I am winding things down here in Helsinki. My original plan to post regularly was upset by a computer failure which knocked out my Mac for about 2 weeks, but in a way, that pushed me to absorb more and output less. It also helped me unplug from email, news, and all the usual noise we cannot seem to quit. This has been a great start to my sabbatical, full of travel and intellectual exchange. I have really started to know Helsinki and got an unexpected chance to see both an old friend, Beth G., and a city I would not have predicted I'd travel to--St. Petersburg. My head has started to clear a bit of all the day to day dross that prevents one from starting to think about what to do next, though I am now appreciating how long it takes to take stock. It's a good thing I am going to live to be 300 years old because my head clears very slowly, indeed.

Who knows what will come of this trip. It may have initiated things, affirmed things, planted seeds--or maybe it was a break, a caesura in the busy life of a rapidly-becoming-middled-aged guy. It certainly gave me a sense that I can travel, can figure out how to navigate a city by myself (which I have done many times, but not in a long time), and can be alone without being lonely. It has also convinced me that Finnish is probably a language just for Finns and that Russia is a country where you have to be careful. (My travel partner there was pickpocketed of passport and money less than 12 hours after we got there. Nice.)


9/23/10

Moonshot

23 September 2010 aboard Princess Maria, St. Peter's Line cruise
ship. A beautiful moon and evening planet over the Gulf of Finland,
heading toward St. Petersburg, Russia.

Venice of the North


Heading today to St. Petersburg, reportedly called the "Venice of the North." Over 300 bridges in SP, by the way.

9/20/10

Food in Helsinki

Sausage, potato, sauerkraut, meatballs, beets, mashed potatoes. Beer. Wine. Yum.

9/17/10

Helsinki Exchanges

Enjoying getting to know the pragmatists here in Helsinki. There's sizable interest in Peirce, Dewey, and James and of connections between pragmatism and communication and also sociological theory. I gave a talk to the Helsinki Metaphysical Club yesterday, "Dewey and Objectivity."





9/16/10

Walking Helsinki coast, Cafe Ursala

Kaivopuisto is a beautiful park and the walk there is lovely. Cafe Ursala was a yummy place!
From around September 8th or so.




9/12/10

Divided sidewalks


Helsinki divides sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. It works well, and keeps people out of their cars.

9/10/10

On Uncertainty of a Personal-Professional Nature

On Uncertainty of a Personal-Professional Nature

Sabbatical Journal, Helsinki

I don't know what to work on next. I am finally resisting all the habits I have to write on more of the same thing. I'm faced with a non philosophical problem--how do I stop doing what has become automatic for me and reconstruct my philosophical interests? Can I find the courage to be an 'amateur' again? It is harder than I thought to fail to answer people when they ask what I am working on.


Part of the issue is how to "live" in a space of uncertainty for a while. If you're like me, there is a tendency to indulge such a space--a nether world, a morass, a waiting room, whatever you want to call it--only for a brief while. And then one thinks of a way to escape! But if the choice of path is to be significant (e.g. a direction for one's work which might take years, or perhaps a commitment to learn another language, or get grounded in some factual subject matter) then one must choose carefully. This means, I think, that one must linger in the morass as long as possible; an uncomfortable prospect with uncertain results. Yesterday, I had the chance to sit and have a beer with Jakko Hintikka and I asked him if he had ever changed directions or reconsidered, in a fundamental way, what he was working on. (He is 80+ years old, so I thought perhaps he had.) He had not. Things grew out of and developed from his earliest ideas--with, of course, offshoots and side interests, many of them, along the way. But no major turnabouts. Then again, he is a logician, so perhaps that is relevant!

9/8/10

Finding the good stuff in Helsinki

 About 6 hours of walking from my housing on Hesperianinkatu south thru design district and down to water. Lots of nice discoveries today: Temppeliaukio church, chocloate shop (Fazer), coffee place (coffee roastery) and pastry places (Carusel and Cafe Ursala) near the water; a hip looking gourmet shop (Eat and Joy Maatilatori) too. Only ate at one, though! Now I need a suggestion for a good place to get a beer!

Travel update, Sweden, Helsinki, and Computer Woes

Here in Helsinki after 4 nice days in Stockholm and a cruise. Weather has been fabulous--mid 60s and sunny. Where's the depressing stuff? Where are all the dour faces? It has been great. I have not done too much touristy stuff yet, just trying to walk the city and get a lay of the land. It feels considerably smaller than Stockholm.  I visited the design district and am beginning to figure out where the major sites to see are, but I am still trying to gauge what trips out of town--farther than the Suolimenna fortress--should be on my short list. I don't know yet how many I will get to, so I am trying to figure out what the one or two best would be to see.
 
My computer screen went black after just a day in Stockholm so I have not been able to Skype with the family yet. Apparently it is a Nividia graphics card issue for MBP that everyone knows about. Great time to experience it. A store here in Helsinki is supposedly fixing it and maybe it will be ready this Friday.
 
The Finnish language is univerally admitted to be impossible and there are only about 6 million people in the world who speak it. Accordingly, there's not much pressure for foreigners to speak any, and no attitude of a condescending nature is ever directed at visitors. (Hear that, France?)

9/2/10

At Columbus Hotell in Stockholm


I made it safely to Stockholm and am in my hotel now. Easy trip if a bit long and uncomfortable seats. I slept maybe 90 minutes after waking up at about 4 the morning of my flight. I'm going to try to stay up and power through the day and walk around as much as possible.

Here's a photo in the *lobby* of the Columbus Hotell because the wifi in the room ISN'T WORKING. (And they call this a "developed" nation?).

Radio in lobby playing "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer. Oh boy.

9/1/10

Heading to Stockholm, Finland


First: DIA, Denver. Flying to Chicago to connect with SAS which will take me to Stockholm, Sweden.