Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our Mis-trursted Allies

Not to be out done by the Royal Navy whose aircraft carrier "illustrious"made a courtesy visit here last week, the United States Navy decided to show the flag as well with the Destroyer USS Forest Sherman.

However unlike their British allies, the Americans did not open their doors to the public for tours. So in spite of their public relation sound bites from the ship's captain who was "so happy to be here in the great country of Estonia, to meet an important Allie", they weren't happy enough to actually allow any of these great people onto their boat.

I get the impression that the U.S. views Estonia as it does France, instead of calling both of them "A special Allie" they should publicly call them for what they are....."Mistrusted allies".

Friday, June 26, 2009


Last Tuesday 23rd June was JaaniPäav Eve, as you can guess it was the day before JaaniPäev, this is the celebration of the longest day of the year.

If you could roll your birthday, Christmas, Paddy's day and New Years eve all together, that is what JaaniPäev means over here. Very large bonfires are built, vast amounts of barbecued food and alcohol is consumed. Every town and village has it own party, but those held in the countryside are so much better than in the city.
As with any good national holiday, this day lasted for two days and hence two parties.

In the city there was a very experienced jazz band in a well supervised and maintained park, but in the country there was some "nearly skinny dipping", a band that played forever, cheap food and drink and some subtitled police fighting, yeah it was great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Me and H.M.S. Illustrious

A Couple of days ago the Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS IIllustrious paid a courtesy visit to Estonia and inspite of next to no advertising its visit in the press, there were long queues to get onboard. Tiiu and I waited patiently for well over an hour before a lumbering green army truck took us on a one minute journey from the harbour gates to the ship.

Although access to the ship only covered the main hangar and we couldn't go on deck, the waiting was well worth it. It really was a case of Big boys toys, as we played with a halicopter, guns, thermal imaging equipment and got up close with Harrier jump jets.

As big as the Illustrious is, it was dwarfed by a cruise ship from Italy that docked right next to, I never thought that there was such a thing as "a small aircraft carrier" but there as always a first time.

I guess that makes two more "First Time" events to be added to my adventures in Estonia.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review No. 7

Welcome to Zululand of 1879 and Ian Knights "Zulu Wars"
Lots of fun and games with spears and Red coats

Please click on MY BOOK REVIEWS on the right hand side of this page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Remarkable Night

Last night while Princess Christina Ronaldo was packing his handbags and preparing to leave Manchester for the even richer playing fields of Madrid, the rest of his of his team mates were outplayed by an Estonian football team rated 113th in the FIFA World ranking.
Tiiu and I headed along to the stadium in the hope of witnessing a valiant defence from the boys in blue against the multi-millionaires rated 11th, but expected them to eventually be overwhelmed.

Yet last night something astonishing happened, actually there were two equally amazing events. The first was that the minnows from Estonia did not lay down and die in front of a team that were European championship runners-up in 2004, in fact at the end of the goalless draw it was the Portuguese who were lucky not to be heading home well and truly beaten.

The match was a light year away from the performance that Estonia put up against Armenia a couple of months ago. The crowd truly were the proverbial twelfth man. Admittedly Portugal did not send their strongest team but who cares?
Certainly not a single person in the crowd, in fact we loved it.
This may have been Estonia’s finest footballing hour and we were there to see it.

The second was something that I would have missed had Tiiu not pointed it out to me. Yesterday there was a young boy with his father cheering on Estonia. What makes this seemingly normal event exceptional was that the boy was Russian, albeit Estonian- Russian. For months I have been complaining how Russians living within these borders were isolationist, apparently resentful of all things Estonian including their language, but not any longer (or at least not as much).
Here was a Russian boy, speaking his adapted country’s language, cheering on his team alongside his father.
Unlike the late and great Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankley, I don’t believe that football is more important than life and death, but football can heal old wounds that I never thought possible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Season One Syndrome

I’ve just finished Season one of Boston Legal and as with most TV shows it took a couple of episodes to have any real appeal and then began to shine.
This got me wondering if this programme will commit the same sin as so many others, that started in a blaze of glory before falling in love with their own greatness and letting their standards slip. By adding in a few extra episodes with nonsensical episodes just to pad up another season and make a few extra dollars, numerous great programmes quickly left fans, namely me, disappointed.

I refer to shows such as Prison Break and Hero's, and Battlestar Galatica. These first two were recommendations and were much better than I expected. For that matter they were more popular than their own producers apparently expected. Both shows were progressing nicely until the last episode of Season One when they were obviously re-written.
The producers must have realised that they had unexpected hits and needed to keep the proverbial golden goose alive and forced final episode re-writes, that added nothing but to open the door to mediocre second seasons. These final episodes must have been written during a three minute commercial break, as no worthwhile characters were killed off and nothing was resolved.

There are off course exceptions to the rule, The West Wing got better and better (apart from the Final season), “Band of Brothers“ is still is the finest TV show ever and was completed in one perfect season.
Anyway here’s hopping that Boston Legal manages to survive these perils and doesn't fall into the other trap of adding in new, yet totally useless characters over the coming episodes and seasons. But that is something for another day.

Finally what I still don’t understand is how the BRILLIANT “Firefly“ (you may have seen the movie version “Serenity“) was killed of after just one wonderful season.

That's all Folks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wonderful World of Infomercials

So there I was, watching TV and being seduced by this AMAZING new invention being advertised in an American Infomercial

Yes, yes I can hear you laughing already but come on this product was worth purchasing if for no other reason than the fact that they dragged out an old and overweight MR. T to tell the audience that he "Pitied the fool who didn't want one".

This AMAZING product is the "Flavor Wave Turbo Oven"

With all the charm of a second hand car salesman, the Sarah Palin lookalike ( have you forgotten her already?) invited Mr T. onto the stage and went on to amaze him with all the amazing things that this wonder of the new age can bring into our hum+drum lives.
Unlike Mr T I wasn't quite ready to give Sarah my credit card details just yet.

I wondered if it was possible that Mr T had been tricked and was even now was being drugged and his unconscious body bundled onboard an airplane?

I checked out a consumer web site to prove to those voices of doubt in my head that MR. T was safe, Sarah was no liar and that the "Flavor Wave Turbo oven" was indeed the equal to the creation of the wheel.

Alas all was not well in the land of Infomania, there were complaints and complaints aplenty that the oven overheated, back up was awful and spare parts were expensive. I now fear that Mr. T is destined to be brought out again and again, whenever the next great invention is to be put before the unsuspecting public.

Before I say farewell for now follow this link and watch Mr T greatest performance since he snarled at Rocky all those years.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Little Englander No More

Unlike the Irish and UK goverments I have given up the paranoid fight to keep National Identity cards as far away from me as possible in the fear that Big Brother knowing even more.

As you can see, I look your typical criminal in the photo.

Not really sure what all the negative hype is about, I use it to get cheaper travel and should the day ever arrive, to pay taxes when I get a job. The card can also be used as bank card, sending electronic signatures, health card, an alternative to a passport within the Euro zone, checking your government records such as exam results or creating a company.

Topically, Estonia will be the only country in the EU voting online in todays coming elections.

So what has the Estonian government learnt about me or anyone else for that matter?
My date of birth, nationality and current address.
Not really George Orwell's 1984 now is it?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Ambassadors Ball

Not wishing to sound like a commercial for Ferraro Roche, Tiiu and I went to a reception at the Hungarian Embassy a couple of weeks ago. Although the ambassador may not have exactly "spoilt us with these Ferraro Roche" it was an entertaining evening as we sampled the ever improving Hungarian wine, the more I drank, the more it improved.

One of my fellow students at the Estonian language class is the "Art History Critic" for the Hungarian Embassy in Estonia, so I was able to get passed security without too many problems. Of course I jest, security is no longer a problem since the Russians gave up this colony as well as Estonia within their Evil Empire
Oh please, I haven't made fun of the Russians in ages :-)

But serously, there were people from afar as Mexico city, Minnesota, Stuttgart, London and Ankara. It was interesting to hear how these people were drawn to Tallinn for various reasons, some for work, others for love and a couple who came to spread the word of the lord.
Yep, everybodys got a story to tell.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Intensive Training Intensive Care

From 9.00 to to 10.30 every Monday and Wednesday for the last X number weeks my Estonian language classes have gone along quite nicely, but for this week we switched to an extremely intensive approach. Concluding this morning classes kicked off at 8.30 every day this week, one day after another after another.
When the request was made to double up classes for a week it actually seemed like a good idea, in fact I welcomed it. Unfortunately it turned out to be one of those occasions when things seemed better as an idea than they are in reality. Admittedly we covered a lot of material in these last four days, but with so much information being thrown in at a rate where most of it proverbially overflowed and fell back out. With insufficient time to study the new material at home Ive ended up exhausted and potentially ending understanding less than I would have in a normal week.

I suppose you could say that "no good deed goes unpunished".
After class this morning I fell asleep as soon as I came home, relieved that it was all over.
On the up side I now have a week and a half to recover and assimilate the vastness of knowledge passed onto me and the opportunity to fully recover my desire for this subject.

Now its time for a spell of Intensive relaxation, alcohol and lots of fun......well at least until tomorrow.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in a week and a half my classes will be three times a week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

That's Entertainment

For two weeks I didn't post a blog and allowed a few things to slip by, so before they slip away completely let me entertain you with what has entertained me off late.

The Eurovision Song Contents
The source of much mockery in Ireland is a source of great interest on "The Mainland" and even pride in some countries" Estonia is a country where it is becoming unpopular to admit that you watch it, yet when the TV ratings were announced it seems that everybody did.

For those of you who REALLY didn't watch it or forgot what happened after the Irish entry was unjustifiably knocked out, the finalist were randomally called out, with Estonia named near the very end. Just moments before we were swearing at every country that gave Russia points and not enough to Estonia. Convinced that Estonia wasn't going to be nominated we agreed that this was stupid competition organised by idiots, but then Estonia was named as a finalist. Suddenly this was a fantastic event that everyone should be proud of and the celebrations started.
Here is the YouTube link to the Estonian song although I didn't have a clue what she was singing about the music is great.
In the Final Estonia came a respectable seventh, but how the hell did that annoying schoolboy from Norway win with that irritating song, that bloody stupid grin and eyebrows?
Oh well it could have been worse, the Russians could have won again.


With our new Iomega multi-media drive (PC to TV box) we are finally starting watch all those TV shows and movies that I've downloaded over the past five months, Countless seasons of "The Unit, Boston Legal, Prison Break, Two and half men Gilmore Girls" and "Felicity" as well as hundreds of movies.

Watching these shows on a large TV is so much better than on the PC monitor and watching a film at the cinema is the only real place to watch the likes of "Star Trek" and somewhat belatedly "The Watchmen". For those of you that told me this was not a film to bring Gary to, you were so right. Not really one for the kids.
However Star Trek!
Now there was a film for everyone, I loved it, Loved it, loveeeeeeeeeed it. It was completely void of bad acting and even worse special effects, so much better than I dared hoped.

Museum Night
One day last week all the museums in Tallinn were opened late into the evening and free of charge. For the first time ever there queues outside of them. Inside it was like the first day of a sale with people elbowing and nudging one another to look at muskets, coins and some old rubbish about Russia saving this country from themselves and foreign invaders.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rat Race 2009

Today was Rat Race Day, when the old town square was the start and end point for an annual charity race. With the contestants dressed up in their business suits, nurses and police uniforms, etc, the teams dashed through the cobblestone streets for their charities.
The race itself only took about ten minutes, but the build up took hours with countless speeches, introducing the teams to the spectators and a twenty minute warm up.
The race itself was merely the start of a week long series of events of "Old Town Days".

Today was another scorcher, the old town square was packed with tourists and locals alike, free ice cream was handed out all day long, when the band that played on after the race finally packed up, the usual buzz returned to the square as restaurants and bars filled up.

The Rat Race was merely the end of a busy day, which started with the first of a week long set of Estonian language classes, following that we had a cooling dip in one of the local swimming pools (the beach was just too much effort to get to), Rat Racing for the afternoon and early evening before retiring to Saint Patrick's bar for a drink. Finally back home for a spot of blogging.