Friday, November 28, 2008

Puzzle Heaven

The flu does not seem to leave me alone. Sunday night I started coughing and woke up all the time. I slept most of Monday and Tuesday having also a headache. I had my Japanese puzzles course on Tuesday and I should have done lots of other things while the students were solving their puzzles, but I started to do the Mega-Pic-A-Pix on the Conceptis weekly puzzles. I had an amazing recovery or maybe I just forgot I even had a flu. Working with that puzzle and neglecting my other activities I finally finished it two days later on the same puzzle course :)

Here is a snapshot of the amazing picture:

This is bit blurry, but now it is on the 3 meters wide white screen in front of the class. I just had to show it to the students :)

Nowadays My Conceptis page looks like this. I solved some sudokus also, but I did not solve the first one and that is why it is empty.

After solving the Mega puzzle I just had to do the last black and white puzzle to get the page full. This was the first week Conceptis had 6 weekly PAPs. One was my favourite, the 2-colour puzzle. From now on the weekly treat will be 6 puzzles with one 2-colour PAP and one Mega about once a month ;)

I also took a snapshot of the Link-A-Pixes. The pictures are so beautiful! One was left unsolved.

New puzzles were published today. Now I have a new set and also the weekly review puzzle is a PAP. I think I am able to finish that one tomorrow to be able to review it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Handicraft and Recycling

My daughter and I have had a project which has been going on for at least a month. First of all I love candles. Whenever I see exceptional or beautiful candles I just have to buy them. I never throw the remains away but store them and my daughter has been doing the same. I have not made new candles in several years so we had lots of material collected. Some candles don't burn very well and most of the stearin is left unburned.

I have an old small kettle which I got from my mother and I have used it for melting the stearin for years. Earlier I did not use the right way but I put the kettle straight to the stove. It is actually dangerous if you are not standing right near the kettle with a lid ready. If the stearin gets too hot it can burst into flames.

Now I had to figure out something new. I had bought an induction stove a couple of years ago. Since the wikipedia article shows a totally different picture, you can check the Finnish Helkama here. This type of cooktop does not work with kettles that are constructed from non-conductive materials. Unlike normal electric hotplates an induction cooker creates no heat; only the vessel used for cooking is heated. The basis of heat generation is magnetic field hysteresis loss. So my old kettle did not work any more. Now I used a water bath like I always should have and the vessel next to the stove was made of steel. Like you can see the stove is not heated; I have a towel protecting the stove.

As moulds we used practically everything: Pringles wrappings, energy drink bottles, plastic jam jars and glass bowls which have had candles in them originally.

When the liquid stearin hardens again it loses volume and that is why the candles must be done gradually but that makes the task rewarding. You can see the result when you remove the container. I was totally fed up with the work after one day but my daughter wanted to finish all the materials. These are the ones where the containers were removed by cutting them with a sharp knife.

These are the glass candles

Some people don't want to burn candles but I think candles make the dark winter so much warmer. The Finnish candles are the best. They don't start running, but the extra edges are folded beautifully beside the candle.

Now I have so many candles that I don't have to buy or make new ones in a long time...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Successful Piitu

Last Sunday I was very tired and I felt a little feverish. Piitu was going to attend to her first official agility competition. She had taken part of some competitions "for dummies" but she was dismissed every time because of too many errors. All the obstacles have to be done in a certain order and Piitu usually does not care. I decided to leave home.

This time the coach was Piitu's teacher Noora Salonen who is very experienced in dogs and teaching. Here is a video of the first competition. No mistakes but 3 seconds over the time limit and third place in the competition.

When my daughter phoned us about the success, we decided to go and see this miracle. Maybe because we were there the second track did go wrong from the second obstacle... Result: dismissed. We went back home and Piitu was left for the third competition and this time no errors, not exceeding the time limit and second place. The first step in a hopefully long career. With three similar results Piitu gets to a more advanced level.

Here is the winner with her trophies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Snow

Yesterday morning the view from my bedroom window was like this:

It is amazing how much lighter and cleaner the world looks like. The snow is still there after two days and did not melt right away like usual.

It seems that I did not take the picture straight but in fact the trees are leaning to the east. The wind normally blows from the sea and the trees are unable to grow straight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Never Totally Trust the Navigator

My daughter graduated in May from the University and I had already bought her a book as a gift but somehow it did not seem valuable enough for such an accomplishment. We had very good experiences about navigators on our visit in Israel and we also had several problems travelling to unfamiliar places to dog shows. So I decided that we would buy her a GPS navigator and our choice was Tom Tom which is probably the most popular here even though we had Mio in Israel.

The following story is really embarrassing for both me and my daughter but I decided to tell it anyway. About three weeks ago we were once again leaving for a dog show in Hämeenlinna, about 140 km from here. We have been there often and if we had been wise, we would have used the navigator near the destination. However since the gadget was new, we started to use it from home.

We left very early, about 6 am and it was still a bit dark when we started the journey. The navigator asked if it could include roads with no asphalt and we answered yes. Here it is not a big deal. We have smaller country roads which are not covered. They are not very bad; maybe longer but they don't have so much traffic. That was our second mistake...

The start from home was different than we normally used but since we used the motorway, we thought that there was a link to the main road we normally use. The motorway was definitely the faster option. Then about 25 km from our starting point the navigator started to change our direction. At first all went well, but when the navigator told us to choose a very narrow country road, we were a bit hesitant. Our third mistake...

The road started fine but the longer we drove, the more bumpy the road got. There were rocks on the road and it was so narrow that only one car could drive it at a time. It had been raining a lot in the past days and there was wet clay on the road. By the time we realized we should not have taken that road, we could not really turn back anywhere.

The last thing was a steep downhill towards the river. The middle part of the road was so high that we got totally stuck. At that point the whole road was just clay, no solid part anywhere. Piitu did not make it to the dog show that day. She was not disappointed. She just loved to run around the field near by.

The next thing was to call a tow truck to get us out of there. The most curious thing was that the truck driver did not find us. He said that according to his navigator there is no road there! My daughter walked to the intersection and the truck backed up to us... well almost to us because his truck could not take the last 200 meters.

The truck driver contacted the farmer whose fields were surrounding the road and he came to take a look. He was a bit pissed off but promised to pull us up with his tractor. I can understand his annoyance; he told that we were the third ones he had to save that week (!) because the navigator had told to use that road even though he had several times informed the municipality that the road must get a sign informing that it can't be used. It really was a field road for tractor traffic!

Here is the tractor which saved us. It has the huge plough equipment on the back.

Here the car is finally getting out of trouble:

Safe and even working:

Here is the picture from the Google Maps and it shows the road also. We were stuck at the spot where the red cross is. I heard later that if we had managed to cross the river we probably would not have made it to the Google pointer anyway...the direction we should have followed is the yellow one.

Both of us blamed ourselves for what happened. Well, there is a saying that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. The wheels and the bottom of the car have now been washed and the toe has been adjusted.

One of the family members said that maybe this prevented us from facing a far worse accident. Well, we'll never know that :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Piitu - the Comedian

Now that I finally decided to take the time to update my blog, I noticed that I have not written in a month! This autumn has really gone fast. I have some reasons for missed weekends which I will blog about and my work seems to take so much time. Of course the puzzles take a big part of my time but sometimes I have felt I have not enough time for them either.

Now I decided to show some pictures of Piitu. She is one of the reasons my blogging is suffering. I have gone to so many shows with her and seen agility practises. Sometimes she just arranges shows for us at home. This is one of them. I guess she just got bored and decided to chew her big football to pieces...

I already told Piitu was picking mushrooms with us. Here she is taking good care that the mushrooms will be cleaned properly. Jumping to the kitchen chairs is no problem for her. Actually I have caught her several times climbing to the table...

Piitu really has only two modes, on and off. When she finally gets tired, she totally drops from standing feet. She can really find the most comfortable places to relax.

The last one is a video. Piitu learned to jump into a cardboard box a long time ago. We did not have the box available for a while and when we tried again, she had not forgotten the command, but she really had learned to jump. The jumps were really high regarding the size of the box. We had a good laugh watching.

Piitu's jumping skills are too good. She managed to jump over our backyard fence when she saw Lulu practising on the other side. The fence is 80 cm high and Piitu is very low. I still am wondering if she has acidentally been fed by a cat or something...