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Friday, December 10, 2010
The above headline had brought most traffic to this weeble blog. Thus, I thought I should tell you what I have learnt about watches.

1) Yves Camani is real!
Yes, it is a watch. So are Königswerks, Calvaneos and all the possible eBay brands. I bet my ass they work just fine. Just remember, there may be some clocksmiths who do not want to touch these models - whether it is the poor quality or disrespect to eBay platform, I cannot tell.

2) Yves Camani is not real!
No, the brands are not "real" brands, as Rolex once used to be. They are constructed somewhere, assembled elsewhere and the hefty pricetag is there just to increase the image. They do not have any real history, except the story the owner of the brand has created. They are not worn by Hollywood nor any other rich or famous people.

3) Yves Camani is as real as you believe it is!
Why you want to know whether it is real or not? Buying a status item, but cannot afford a real handmade Swiss? Are you afraid it is a cheap bootleg? You buy it, you wear it, and believe in it. It looks just as good as you do!

Practically, these branding companies seem to just carve their names on watches of decent quality. If they look fine, they may even be fine. But, just keep in mind they do not have the history they are using in marketing. Hell, I can find a fashion house today, and brand it as "1662", and you may be fooled to think that is the year my anchestors began their operations if you feel like it.

I don't want to judge these eBay brands, as the products themselves may be just fine. I have a "branded" watch myself - Cerruti 1881. And I believe you all know this fashion house does not specialize in time pieces. It is assembled in India/Switzerland, has some gold somewhere and is heavy as hell.

I could have as well bought some Formula One sponsor brand (cannot just now remember which was the made-up brand), or taken a watch from any other wannabe -brand. I almost did, but the seller of Yves Camani never accepted my payment! Strangely, a German clocksmith was fine with the same card, selling me a Lacroix and this Cerruti piece. Perhaps they were not the season's newest models, but time is timeless, and so are stylish watches.
Ho-ho-hoe.
The winter solictice in coming and soon it is the time to escape the Krampus, eat herrings and drink Coke. Not much Christianity in the feast, but then again, it never was a Christian feast in the beginning.

When I was a kid, we always had chocolate calerdars to make the 24/25 days to feel even longer. Not only did you have to wait for the evening to unwrap the presents (where I am from, we did the party on 24th day), but for the coming morning to get a shitty German piece of chocolate. Those candies were horrible, but for a child they still had some brown and sugary magic in them. Perhaps like D'Angelo for women.

Yesterday, I turned the tv on, and saw a commercial for a boob-calendar, Vakaru Zinios Mergaiciu Kalendorius, or such. Lithuanian wannabe-celebrities posing in minimal clothing. BS.

To celebrate this tasteless season of shopping, I present something as plasticky and tasteless:

Famous Women from Baltics gone nude! Woo-hoo! Ok, it's lame, or even hella-lame as Cartman once put it.

First, there is Oksana Pikul. She is nothing more and nothing less than a member of a famous Lithuanian girl band. They are not famous because of their golden voices, but due to their sticky-icky-plasticky breast enchancements. Here, she is before her career as a singer wishing you all a merry Christmas!

Then, to add some more northern spice to our Glühwein of nude girls, there is the wife of Risto-Matti Ratia. That is about all she is famous for in Finland, but in Estonia, she is some sort of a media personality. Here, she is posing for Playboy for 365 bottles of champagne. I bet she'll get some local brand like Alita or Rigas instead.

Now, all it requires is an addition from the lands of Ordo domus Sanctæ Mariæ Theutonicorum Hierosolimitanorum. That is Latvia, wherefrom these joyful German knights were raping and pillaging tastefully the whole region. So who shall it be.. ? No idea. Just go here, and find the local edition of Hefner's most famous and pick your own candidate.

That's about it. If you want to see more Baltic women gone tastefully naked, try a strip bar in London. Or fly to Tallinn or Riga!
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday night, it was said aloud in TV. What we all knew, what no one wanted to admit. Lithuania needs more immigrants, for the sake of immigrants. After the news came out, the people were given the vote. The message was as expected, and approx. 80% showed agreement upon that there is nothing the country would need less than immigrants. It sure is a pleasure to live here, feeling all needed and wanted and stuff...

They are all coming here, right?
source: liu.english.ucsb.edu

But lets forget the people, and focus to this piece of news. Why does Lithuania need immigrants? If you have ever played bullshit bingo, you know the answer. The keyword is the one that should help any Western nation to overcome and be the leading technology oriented and sustainable nation in the world. It is the godsent gift to the mankind. The Innovation.The make brief news short: more immigrants, more innovations.

At the moment, there are little immigrants in Lithuania, who would wear a tie or a blazer. They are now desperately sought after. It has been understood, that these people innovate the innovations, create the creativity and know the unknowable.

not.

Hey, I have seen this before. It is one of the thousand and one fads a country desperate to change its course tries just to notice it does not have anything to attract the people. Someone, somewhere has again taken Florida's Creative Class from the shelf, got inspiration and forgot to read more than the cover. Nah, the bare amount of foreign people is no guarantee on any innovation, prosperity or creativity - they don't just come here and make the country a world leader in anything. If that would be the case, IBM would have branch offices in every refugee camp.

Surely, some time has passed since I last time read that book, but if I am not totally wrong, one needed different people to be gathered to a creative cluster. May be that I am mixing some Porter in here, but what the heck.

Still, that book may well have the key to the future of Lithuania. That is, gays. Gays were part of the creative class, and why would not they be - every politician from far right and priest has been telling us how the gay possess a twisted mind. In other words, they are different, and differences culture creativity, when we take a different approach to daily issues. Perhaps mom can be dad, food can be drink, water can be dry? If you do not even try to question the "facts", there is no chance to create anything new. Before judging gays, one should remember that innovating and creating is also against God - he is the only Creator, isn't he? And as we have already taken blasphemy as the national strategy, why we try to create double standards?

However, Lithuania just happens to be one of the more homofobic countries in the Europe - which also could be a perfect reason to take the gay as a solution. The nation must find itself and question its old values. Non-gay is not a Lithuanian value - the country of jolly horsemen - but a standard set by fear. Gays are not going to hurt anyone - surely, some of prefer women and some men, but why to focus on that? I mean, that parlament member raging over the sex habits of gay people perhaps gets laid once a month - is he being just jealous?* That could also explain the reactions from the church, who just lost their right to copulate with children (a very twisted form of Catholic birth control).

If Lithuania would become a gay friendly society by accepting a part of the creative class, also other parts could be easier persuated to move here. One possibility would be that the sexual minorities would move here first from the oppressive neighboring countries. That would leave Lithuania to a situation similar to the "good ol times" when Vytautas the Great was leading the country. Those times the country with little interest in religious affairs was home to many cultures and minorities - even the Lithuanians were a minority. The first accepted minorities would create space for the others, and perhaps the educated would follow. If the minorities will be accepted to be part of the society, they are given the tools to work with and resources to innovate, the future of this tiny nation could be very different from the direction where the current path is leading to.

* there was a Lithuanian MP, who was totally shocked on how he should explain two men having sex to his children. I also would be really, really shocked, if I would have to describe how he is having sex with his wife to my children. But in the end, I guess I as well as he, would be better off not going into the details. When you tell stories on things you are disgusted of, whether it is people of different sexual preferences or barrel grown short-sighted right wing populists, you tend to get carried away.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Haven't spent too much time in Lithuania recently, been busy exploring Russian tourists in Eqypt and the wonders of hostel life in Tampere. As there was little more than the all inclusive hotel that I saw in the country of sand and 1001 leathal fishes, I guess it would be a much better idea to brief you on the all exclusive Tampere trip.
It was a dark and a stormy night, when we landed to Tampere last Sunday. But little did we know how the weather would turn its back on us - perhaps the first snowstorm of the year began the moment we were waiting for our luggage to arrive. The destination was Hostel Sofia, the YWCA hostel of Tampere. Earlier, this hostel was notorious for having a tight curfiew - either you were inside before 22:00 or the Christians showed no love to you: you were not let in after the deadline.
These days, Sofia is a all exclusive hotel. Yes, I believe that is a better description than a hostel on the 2 person's room we booked. It was actually a flat divided into two rooms, and the prices were on a regular hotel level - of any other city in Finland, except Tampere and Helsinki - the 2 person room without a lunch and with a shared toilet/shower did cost 72 euros a night. Breakfast was 13 euros for 2, thus the actual price was 85 euros. Surely, living in Tampere did not look too good at that moment, given the wet shoes, disgusting weather and baffling price level.
Thus, it was the time to find cheap places to eat - and good beer too! Quite obviously, Finns like to eat kebabs. Almost every corner in the city had a pizza-kebab restaurant, and the price for a kebab was from 4,5 till 7 euros. Quite much higher than e.g. in Germany. Also, there are quite a few Chinese places. Of them, the first we visited was Lotus Garden. The menu outside had very attractive prices: take away meals were less than 6 euros. However, inside, the reality bote with its sharp teeth into the groin area: all meals were more than 11 euros if eaten indoors and the water did cost 1 euro a person.
On the other side of the main street (Hämeenkatu), there is a much more affordable place, where the prices range from 7 to 10 euros a portion. Also, the food was clearly better there plus the service faster. Lotus Garden did offer a more authentic looking Chinese restaurant, but when a person living with a Baltic budget looks for a place to eat, the curiosities do not really matter. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the more affordable place, but it is close to the "Surprise Me" - gadget shop, the number one place in Tampere to buy your rubber duck.
The next place we tried was La Mamma, located in the shopping centre Koskikeskus. This Italian style restaurant seems to be also run by Turks, but what was a very refreshing change was the menu, which contained only one food with kebab meat. The pasta did cost 6,5 euros and a steak 7,5 - the portions were so huge they would fill your tummy for the whole day - but there is the danger of becoming over filled. The food was of a standard gasoline-station level - the steak was dry and the salad was barely defrozen - but still the restaurant was truly bang for the buck. And the coke was 2 euros of 0,5 liters - I guess that is almost cheaper than in a shop.
Then, it was time to test real Italian food - we went to Pizzeria Napoli. Napoli is one of the oldest pizzerias in Tampere and boasts a menu with 100+ pizzas. It was terribly popular during the lunch time, but we managed to catch the last free table. For 7,5 euros, one could choose from pizza or pasta meal, which did include a rather standard salad table known from any kebab pizzeria, a free drink (milk, water or soda water) and a cup of coffee or tea. The food was fine, although the pasta was significantly smaller than the previous one - which also included free water and salad buffet.
Then it was time for something more extreme - we fetched from Kebab Pizzeria Koikkari (located 2 kms from the centre) the largest pizza of the town. This 30 euro and 70 cm monster was more than enough for a group of 6. It was the usual, freaking greasy Turkish style pizza, but really worth to see. It kept me wondering, how it could fit a pizza oven.
The last restaurant was a bit more classy than the previous ones. In Tampere, there operates a local brewery Koskipanimo, which operates a brewery restaurant called Plevna. Not only does the brewery offer the best stout and wheat beer in the country, the food is rather good too. The German style restaurant offers some quite traditional Finnish foods, but there is certain hint of Teutons in it, offering a rather good selection of German sausages. The food is above average in quality, and it is mostly stewed in beer.
But eating only fills your stomach, one needs also food for the soul and the brain. That is, beer and coffee. For beer, the most recommendable place of the whole town is Oluthuone, which quite simply is also the best. This traditional looking bar, offering mostly Koskipanimo's products and having its very own lager too, is open every day from 12 to 02.
Another quite fine place is Hemingway's Pub, located close to Tuomiokirkko. The small and cozy restaurant perhaps does not have such a selection to offer, nor is it the cheapest pub in Tampere, but the people there are perhaps a bit more classy than in the Finnish style drinkers (there must be an equivalent for a diner, I'll call it a drinker) Ale Pub and Ale Bar. Those two are the places to go, if you fancy the cheap pint and the company that also fancies to drink it cheap. But back to Hemingway's: it offers surprisingly good coffee, if it is fresh at the moment.
Then, closeby, there are two other famous cafes, of which other is recommendable. Vohvelikahvila is a cafe famous of its waffles. They cost from 4-7 euros a piece and are usually topped with spray-cream. The coffee was perhaps organic, but one never can truly tell on a cup made with an automat. Avoid, unless you want to go there for the athmossphere. Instead, I recommend Satukahvila, Fairytale Cafe, located almost next door. Here the coffee actually is good, although in comparison to Hemingway's it is nothing that special. Still, the rather nicely decorated cafe looks unique: the ceiling is breaking, windows look like from 1960's and it is fille - totally filled - with paintings.
Monday, September 6, 2010
While I was writing my thesis(es) on standardization, I got quite much acquianted with the term vicious cycle. It was used in connection of dominant designs and how the choices on market actors tend to make one design de facto standard. These are all around from the ratio of your screen to the layout of your keyboard, but the cycle itself has hit my behavior when it comes to movies.
Once there was a time, when going to a cinema was a great experience. You could see the films 5-10 years before they came to television, the effects were great, and the screen was huge. It was back then.
These days, it takes 1-2 years for a movie to premiere in TV. Also, a 42" TV or a projector have a bit undermined the advantage of a theatre. Meanwhile, the incomes movies gain have gone quite much up, and the ticket prices too.
The lifecycle of a movie has got shorter, as effects look fresh only for a limited amount of time. Thus, the money has to be made faster, and thus, once you get a hit, you have to capitalize on it.
Yesterday, I ruined my weekend by watching the title Vampires Suck. The movie itself is horrible, sub par even to a Paris Hilton reality show. Still, I watched through the entire 1 hour and 20 minutes of mental rape that must likely caused me some severe brain damage.
The idea was to make money on the moneymaking vampire-movie series. The same characters were there, the scenery was similar, and the cast perhaps looked alike too. When it came to any added value, the movie rather subtracted it. Made Resident Evil movies look like Oscar laureates.
Did the movies become cheap while trying to reap again on their old harvest? Is it too big a risk to actually make a movie that would have a decent script and at least a bit of a plot? I guess it is. I actually did benefit on the advantages in technology to get this movie in my hands. It was crap, but I did not pay for it - thus I most certainly deserved all the shit that hit the fan, when I pressed the play button. Downloading should be the biggest threat to movies, which do not rely on effects, and which do rely on ticket income. Thus, Spidermans, Avatars and such should not be hit as hard as some smaller studio's plot driven well-scripted work. Then again, gaining access to alternative movies is very hard, as Universal, 20thCF and WB dominate the supply side with their big money flicks with milliondollar advertising budget. And I download it. Then, they produce another piece of shit, and I download that too. I get shit, they are paid shit, and the cycle goes on. In the meanwhile, some alternative studio produces a great movie, which just does not hit the screens. The distributors are too afraid to take the risk of another unknown movie that would be in H33T within hours. Instead, they vote for Spiderm4n or Mission Impossible XVII. And again, I download.
If I would stop downloading, would it mean the movies would become better? After changing to a 512 kbps internet, I hope really that's how it will work out. I don't even know how I ended up downloading movies (wait, perhaps it was that 10 Mbit internet and a scholarship to live with in Finland, where a ticket to cinema used to cost around 10 euros), but with the current ticket prices in Lithuania, I rather buy dvds - or when not available look the titles from the alternative markets. Not sure how it would work out, but perhaps the price for the ticket should be paid afterwards, depending on your conscience (or time spent in theater) - I'd be ready to pay for a good movie and if the movie would suck, I'd just leave the cinemas before the end, and pay for the proportion i saw. That way I think I'd be less choosy on what I will pick in the theathre.
Anyway, the verdict is still that if the movies are like Vampires Suck, noone should be required to pay to see them. That is just a 1,33h commercial for the other movie franchise. However, for The Expendables I am always willing to pay the pennies it takes. Jeez, they'd better take old Stallone/Schwarzenegger action flicks back to the cinema rather than make this vampire-crap.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Lithuania so far performing better than I expected. The games have been tough, but the team does not have its usual key players, and the earlier bench has to stand up. It's like a group of sixth men with Linas Kleiza.
Kleiza has been marvellous, and proving being worth every cent his current team in Greece pays him. Wierd expression? Well, I just simply forgot the name of the team - Panathinaikos, Olympiakos, or some other -os. I think they finished second in the Greek league this season.
But except Kleiza being the heart of the team, the formed Vytautas Magnus University trio of Jankunas, Maciulis and Kalnietis have done fairly well too. Of the rest of the team, Delininkaitis, Klimavicius and Gecevicius are worth a mention.
Sadly, Lithuania is a bit short of defensive effort, and a bit short generally this year. One can see surprisingly clearly that neither of the Lavranovic brothers are playing and that the SG place needs to be filled with a man capable of sinking 3 pointers with a constant performance. We can of course discuss, whether Maciulis os SG or SF, but anyway, this still leaves there the other of these two places empty. Also, Kalnietis may have issues with constant performance, as he sometimes can flash excellent game, but then from time to time performs very questionably. He has a small wannabe Jordan in himself, but either there is too much confidence or too little skill involved - being the university dunking champion does not yet make you a World Cup star.
For me, the biggest disappointment so far has been Simas Jasaitis. The man used to be one of the most consistent performers of the team, who just got better in a tight place. You may think what you want to, but I have a bad feeling the new celebrity girlfriend / singing pair of tits is giving a bit bad impact to him. Perhaps the head is not totally in the game having an ex-nude model as a bedroom partner?
Then there is this tall boy Andriuskevicius. Did not yet understand why he is needed in the team, as he has zero minutes on his belt, and there are no reports on injuries. Javtokas got his leg injured, but 218 cm tall Andriuskevicius would surely be needed in the team. Is there no effort from the players side, or is it the coach not giving a chance for the guy to show what he can do?
My expectations for the team? 3-2 record from the first round with losses to Spain and France and a victory from Lebanon. Then, a game against Turkey/Greece, which is not necessary a victory. Tactically seen, Lithuania's best chance is to become anything but third or first in the group. Spain is trying to secure 2nd place to avoid US, and Lithuania should thus beat Spain and lose to France for ruining the Spanish plans. Can the team really provide the scoring needed to a victory over Spaniards, and have the maturity to take a beating from France, which should be weaker as a team? Remains to be seen later today.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I love religions. They at the same time can motivate people to do a lot of good deeds while they may wake the inner monkey and let him go berserk. Now, in Warsaw, after the tragic death of the President, a cross was erected to his memory. Cross, Catholism, Pope, Poland... these things tend to match. However, now this cross caused some protests, and, among the protestors there were some Pastafarians.

Who? Pastafarism is a very archaic religion worshipping Durum and Mince in their purest form - that is - as a flying spaghetti monster (with meatballs).Spaghetti Monster, according to their views, created the world and... flies around? I don't actually know (thus the previous "according to their views" was very accurate statement), but surely, a flying spaghetti monster is the ultimate proof of evolution: you leave it in a kettle for a day or two, and you may actually see his sauciness evolving into various kinds of funghi.

But why pastafarians were against the cross? No idea, perhaps they just had some spare pasta to give away?

Link to an article on protests, unfortunately in Polish (more you can google).
Friday, July 30, 2010
Follow the link to read an opinion on the differences of Baltic States by Justin Petrone. Quite a lot about Kaunas there too. Surely, he could have been a bit more cautious with his opinions - now they sound very American in the worse meaning of the word (that is, ignorance). But let's forgive him for what he is, and read yet another opinion to the differences in the region. Link.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Web shopping is a rather convenient way to purchase items for a foreigner. First of all, the Google Translator is there to aid you, and sometimes the shops even have the menus in English. Not to mention, that in Lithuania it is often easy to make a simple mistake in the shops: No, there really are no customers servants in about any Lithuanian shops - they are all shop detectives hired to see whether you are pick-pocketing!

Web shops are in a way better: you can really see all the inventory without any "How may I bother you"s or "Could you please leave, we need to spend some quality time speaking to each other here"s. However, that still does not mean the service would not matter. And service may easily be the weakest link for  webshops too, and all too often the answer to any question is silence. For example, I was interested earlier in buying an AIO computer. I sent a few simple questions to 13 shops. Got one answer, and - perhaps this part surprises no one - bought it from there.

The web shops, as any shops vary a lot in quality, but here are a few places that are more recommendable than the others - with a few commentaries.

Domestic:
Fotofabrikas.lt - a webshop for anything related to photography (except the nude models, which of course was what we expected to find there :P ). They have price level which is quite much on par with German and French shops (especially when counting the delivery costs in). Inventory is rather good, and they even hold the descriptions of older models there for reference. I even found a Lithuanian instructions for my Panasonic LX-2 there - which is in my case better than the Italian ones I had.
Gerakaina.lt - here, the selection perhaps in not that amazing, but they did have in inventory that old adapter for my ancient HP laptop. The bad side is that this original part lasted for a few months only (which I cannot really hold against the reseller, but the JV of HP and our rabbits).
Intymipagunda.lt - If you are not looking for plugs or memory cards, then this is the shop for you. A bit spice to the bedroom in the form of Polish branded underwear. Prices are cheaper than at the high street retailers, plus you will avoid all the blushing and "I'm not looking this for myself, but for my wife" -situations.
Onnet.lt - one of the many web shops for computers and accessories, with one exception - they answer your questions. Already that makes them worth the purchase - and then they are not really that badly priced either. Unfortunately, you can pay for the items only by Swedbank web bank, or bank transfer.
Pigu.lt - a bizarre shop, which sells a bit of everything. I guess you could actually buy anything from there! Shower cabins, fashion clothing, computers, cameras... you name it. The selection is very limited, but then again, the prices are often rather fine.
Skytech.lt - a nicely priced web shop for IT-related equipment has also affordable prices, even though it is not among the cheapest ones. The selection seems good (perhaps a direct listing from the GNT reseller platform?), however they are not that strong in communication.


From abroad:
Pixmania.lt- the Lithuanian Pixmania site. It is not such a marvel it used to be some years ago, but still they have a fine price level, and the delivery costs are usually only 34 LTL (but it takes a week).
ebay.co.uk - the British eBay page is in the end the place to buy, if you want anything exotic or spares. When I paid more than 100 ltl for the HP charger when buying from Lithuania, now I got a spare with 20 ltl from China - including the delivery!

And yes, you most certainly can use most of these web shops even if you are a tourist. Just agree the delivery to hotel, and give your phone number. Most of the time, it will work out just fine - and some companies most likely allow you to pick up the items with web shop prices from the local dealerships (Fotofabrikas at least used to have an office in Molas in Kaunas,).
Friday, July 9, 2010
While writing this entry, the decisions have been taken: Soon the administrative fines for not having the national flag on pole on national holidays will go up. They will be from 100 to 600 LTL and sound like a new way from the conservative government to squeeze incomes from the already oppressed people.
As ridiculous as it sounds, one really must possess a flag and a flagpole (or a holder for a flag fixed on the wall), and yes, one has to hoist the flag on every event that has some significance to the nation. There are no exceptions - if you are not home or even in the country, you have to arrange a friend or a neighbor to do the job, or risk the fines.
As you perhaps have already guessed, the state will not aid the puchase of the flag nor the pole - if one can afford a house, it seems one must as well have the finances for the necessary equipment (a bit like a car owner should afford a fire extinquisher). No matter how nice view it might be to see every house flagging the death of a president or speculative coronation day of long dead king (and I am sure some mp is jerking off for the sight), I find it hard to support forcing people to such a worship of the state. Reminds me kind of the good ol' times.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
What's wrong with bootleg products? That the owner of the brand does not get compensation? That they are done in worse labor conditions? That they cheapen the brand? Perhaps all of the previous plus loads of other reasons. Still, bootleg products keep the brand visible in countries where people cannot afford the original ones.
Bootlegs are not necessarily cheap. I saw the other day a pair of Puma shoes sold in the market for around 60 euros, quite a hefty price for a pair of shoes that as original cost around € 100. Then, why would anyone buy these shoes from market?
Now, let's move to an even more ridiculous case. House brands. House brands are like these previous fake Puma shoes without the Puma logo. Usually they are cheap, and at most expensive they are still affordable. However, then we have also house brand watches. However, first a case of a bootleg one.
Some 4 years ago, I bought from Siauliai street market a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Time watch, or what ever it said. There was no date, but it did show time. It took a few months for the wrist band to break and in 1,5 years the silver color had faded away. Still, the watch worked, which definately makes it to qualify worth the 4 euros I paid for it. And it was lots of fun - no way a status product, but more of a party watch. I opened it once to look inside, and the Swiss made movement was quite plasticy. Quite much what I expected. Now, the item lays somewhere deep in my drawer after eating 2 batteries in 3 years. Quite a substandard efficiency, I would say.
This one was a bootleg watch. I knew it, the seller knew it, and everyone who saw it closer than 2 meters knew it. It did not really damage my idea of Rolex as a brand, nor did anyone really make money with it. However, what if I would sell you "Real diamong Swiss gold watch" with brand Calvaneo, Yves Camani, Koenigswerk or such?
House brand watches sold exclusively in internet - especially in eBay - are a bid of a dubious issue. Usually, they are replicas of brand watches when it comes to design. Usually, they sound like a real, expensive brand. Usually, they are made in China. Then what is wrong here?
Otherwise nothing, but they are sold as real brands. "Real Koenigswerk watch, Retail price 1449 GBP". How can you state a retail price for a product that is sold exclusively in eBay auctions? Also, some watches are stated to have real diamonds (coming with a certificate), while other sellers sell the same item as "with real Swarovski Crystals". There is in fact a quite fine list of these eBay watches: http://www.trustedwatch.com/community/blacklist. Another way to see which watches are not worth a price higher that your super market watch is to check here: http://www.uhrmacher-balster.de/welche-uhrenmarken-werden-nicht-repariert.html
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Again, it is here, the neighbor voting competition. One horrible song after another, badly written speeches --- and in the end it is even better humor than Nasha Russia!
The first semifinal was full of great surprises, and I liked the fact that this year quite a few countries did perform at least to some extent using their language. The voting result was the most exciting, and seems like the whole Europe just loves the Eastern European sound. Or then the people in these regions are more nationalistic (meaning: their citizens vote from abroad or via skype), or the west just does not care...
Anyway, that does not really matter! Today, at ... whatever PM, the first performer of the show will be InCulto from Lithuania. The band will play a song called East European Funk, which should - if the Europe really loves the East as much as on Tuesday - go to the finals. Sure, the song is not anyhow Eastern in sound, and the guys are easy to imagine wearing a sombrero while playing (or then I am just sick) - still, the simple, political and yet somehow funny song may be just about what you should have seen coming.
Finland was about to send Eläkeläiset, but it seems Lithuania sent the only real humor band - unless that Serbian guy is not counted as such (and I saw also a lot of humor in the Polish show, but it might be just me).
Thus, where ever you are, vote for the band that marginally lost to "Vote for the Winners" gig in 2005.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Nordic Walking, the Finnish invention from Vierumäen Urheiluopisto and later commercialized by Exel, has been rather slowly spreading in the Eastern Europe. For sure, it looks ridiculous, like demented people skiing during the summer, but the health impact in undeniable - as is with any regular excercise.

Today, the Finnish Ambassador - whose name I cannot remember - was in the morning news show marketing the sports.She emphasized greatly the research behind this sports, the health effects and the popularity. Below, a few claims she made:

1 million Finns do nordic walking
Nordic Walking is called Nordic Walking because it is not called Finnish Walking
Some people in Finland nordic walk to work, where they dress to their suits
She used to play tennis and run - until doctor recommended nordic walking

She also donated the host a pair of walking sticks wrapped in cellophane (and thus making quite a squeek while being opened) and advertised the embassy's event today, where people will be instructed on the sport. Over 100 people had already accepted the invitation!
Well, good luck.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Last weekend, it took place: Gay Pride Vilnius 2010.
The marketing of the event was wide: all the carneval pictures from theGerman parade were shown in TV, and of course people were given an image that it would be exactly like this also here. The resistance became stronger.
The anti-rainbow league began to from: right wing politicians, church, facists and those boys who just are looking for trouble decided to defend the decency of their home country. They did not see it in the way that two men loving each other would mean more women for the rest of the men - no! These gays walking in the capital were foreign conquerors who wanted to change the structure of the society! In Lithuania, women are either sexual objects or the "people who cook and clean", and gay might mix this up: there would be suddenly drinking women driving sportscars and men washing the dishes. That would be totally unacceptable.
Then the D-Day is approaching, and as a very straight and considerate man, the general prosecutor decided the void the permit for the march. He is joined by the vice-mayor of Kaunas, who just cannot explain to his kids, what two men do in bed. In other countries, he would be crying for the responsibility of the educative system to teach the kids, but not here - here, children are not allowed to hear a word on gay people in schools - that is, if I am not totally wrong, banned by a law. A few discussion shows later, the Gay Pride will still take its place.
From early morning, the anti-rainbow league has been collecting its troops, and they are heading to Vilnius. Due to bad earlier experience, some of the Kaunas extremists decide to take minibuses and use minor roads - that was perhaps smart, because the police was waiting for them on the highway. The morning in Vilnius begins with a prayer, where Monsignor and other people not tolerating such non-catholic act pray for God to cure the gays of their disease. It must have been the flu season.
Tension builds up. Police, armed from toes to teeth take their places and start the Segway patrolling of the area. People line up behind the metal fences, and then the first egg flies. The opposers are about to fight among themselves. However, some of them separate their leaders - the men have forgotten that this is exactly what those invaders want! They must keep strong and straight to oppose the real threat for their unity.
The march begins. Around 100 people dressed blatantly normally are walking with a few banderolls and a big rainbow flag. The 20000 people opposing this march are waiting them on the other side of the bridge.
Then it happens: A group of the boys who just are looking for trouble decided to break the fence. This stopped the parade and froze the development. Also, a politician runs through the fence and ends up in a fight with a police officer. Lithuanians have shown that the spirit of independence still flows strong in their veins and they truly can fight the oppressors and oppose the officials if it is for the good of the country.
The parade turns. The Lithuanians have won! Liberality and Equality have been crushed like an enemy of the society should be! But at what price the victory came? All those police and people buying bus tickets to gather to Vilnius, not to mention that openly gay people were actually let to step on the Fathers' Land. Also, it showed how un united the country is: the mayor of Vilnius is again showing that the true leaders of the people live in Kaunas - also, there were politicians in support of the occupation.
 It will take centuries to erase the horrors of this day from the mind of the nation.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Labas,
Just returned from Finland, and have again a lot to tell. Surely, plenty has happened, from the death of a murderer who became modern Joan D'Arc to a less restrictive law on double nationality being planned.

However, I thought today to write a bit on service, that is, I will nag.
Yesterday, a nice day that is was with a temperature close to +15, I went for a walk with my wife, and we ended up to the idea of having a simple piquenique. Well, not to make it anyhow too complicated, it was supposed to mean some oh so greasy KFC hamburger meals. Thus, we walk all the way to the closest restaurant, and give our order.
The whole day had been quite funny, as in nothing works the way it is supposed to, and the same trend continued. When I am offering my credit card, the cashier apologized that she in fact did just hit the cash payment button. First of all, it took quite a long time to get what she wanted to tell me, and finally when i got it, she was asking if I would have any cash. I checked, and found 3 litas, total we has 23 - and the order was for 30. I ask whether the order could then be changed, and she says, no it is not possible, and tells that the closest ATM is downstairs ( the restaurant is on 3rd floor of a mall). Well, that unfortunately was not my ATM, and I ask once more (hmmm... or did I? I guess I did) that whether it would be possible to anyhow pay by the card. No it was not, so the whole situation turns to the point that we cancel the order.
Wait a second. Cancelling the order was possible! And if cancelling the order is possible, then how could it be impossible to cancel the order and the remake it? Ahh... sometimes things just do not work out the way you expect they would.
Thus, we did what every respectable Finn would do in the situation: we headed to Hesburger for Garlic Burgers and to R-Kiosk for some Pepsi.
The whole day ended nicely when while walking home, we encountered some street players. "Would you like to support musicians?" the boy with a cannabis-figured scarf asked? "No", I answered. Later, I regretted. I should have said "Yes", and continue walking. That should have caused some confusion.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Universities in Lithuania have it hard: salaries are dropping for the workers, and at the same time, the fees for studies go up. No one is happy and quality of studies is eroding. However, now one Kaunas-based university has found a solution to make money quick with little effort: selling of diplomas.
First, they tried to sell a diploma to a girl living in France: she wanted to be master of political science, because she was from a diplomatic family, as I heard. She had no previous studies in politics, and the university did not teach the subject in English, but as enough money was put on table, there suddenly was no problems. However, when too many professors were requiring her participating in exams, it suddenly was too much for her, and she quit the studies.
Still, the university had opened the Pandora's Box, and it took only a few months until they were trying again this new financial planning. This time, a doctoral degree was for sale.
Lithuanian students studying for a PhD pay 12000 ltl for the studies, unless they get a scholarship. However, now a Dutch writer wanted to get the degree due to his book on his life in Soviet Union. Memoirs worth a degree, as they had agreed with the earlier dean.
This of course caused some turmoil among the staff, as first of all, he was not qualified, the book was not political nor scientific and third, he wanted to be given the degree without him showing any effort. Resolution: some people agreed to write him passing courses required for the PhD studies, and everything was prepared. However, the money became an issue: as Netherlands is a poor country, 3500 euros was an obstacle too big for the writer - he had been given the impression that it would cost only around 1200 euros. - this was solved, and he got the studies with a third of the price of the local students.
No outsiders were informed on the decisions taken, and the local students still have to study for the degree and pay the regular price totally unknowing of the new discounted degree.
Thus, if you ever see a foreigner who studied a PhD in Lithuania, ask to see the dissertation. It may be that he just paid a pittance for the title. However, the local students still have to work for their paper.
If you would like to use the abovementioned opportunity and get yourself a qualification to work in the scientific community as well as an expert on about anything, run to Kaunas with your master's - it may be just enough for a foreigner!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
That was the title of the runners-up song of Inculto at Lithuanian national Eurovision final in 2005. Partly I can agree with the message, but there are some issues in it, that is, sex tourism.

There's something wrong with the country's marketing: First, they cannot decide whether they want to market Lithuania as a country of honey, beer or as a crossroad to Russia, and then when everyone is having their own campaigns, what lives on is the sign near Vilnius airport, where a Lithuanian naked girl lying down on a hotel bed hopes you come back soon.

This ad did not really disturb me, before the I went to look for opening hours for Kaunas restaurants (I am pretty much behind the Finnish version of wikitravel guide for Kaunas - the English is most likely made by local tourism information centre). There are three sources for collective info: meniu.lt, restoranai.lt and einam.lt. The second presents only member restaurants that give a price reduction with their card, the first one is rather good, and the last one, decided somehow that all I need is to see naked Lithuanian girls. Sure I needed, on my work computer. Lithuania is not acountry of feminists, and a Scandinavian male can feel easily extremely progressive here.

Then there is this Olialia -thing going on in the country: suddenly it is cool and great to be blonde, stupid and having kilos of plastic as an airbag. They have a credit card from SEB (Wallenbergs' found a Sex Endowment Bank?), they run Pizzeria, sell cola (which got a bigger bottle after two of the olialia models got silicones), computers (as female nerds need the fastest there is with Swarovski - I always thought the longer the better, but these IT people just cannot wait)... and now even music. Please surf the web for Olialia Pupytes to find these wonderful ballades on hard knock life... ... that is playing with boys and spreading the legs.

Olialia album cover tells more on their music than you can imagine


A sort of an anticrisis plan this is: get tourists to the country to make the women pregnant and then earn with foreign child support. I guess it is only a matter of time before there comes a tax for that. On the other hand, it is still better for the country that the prostitution takes place here (if it is taxed, at least), as otherwise the New Baltic Way takes these girls to UK.

Soon the spring is here. That means the skirts will become shorter and the tights thinner. Then there comes the summer and quite a few more Ryanair flights to Kaunas. So far, here is only one strip club in the centre, but I bet they are going to expand. Let's see if there comes a wave of enterpreneurship or will the local mafia find a new life in pimping.

A bit on an anti-prostitution campaign: http://www.lygus.lt/ITC/news.php?id=773
Friday, January 29, 2010
A quick look to the index published today shows that it's all Europe. But where are the Baltics? Going though the ranks one can see that while Latvia is doing just great, Lithuanian and Estonian performance lags behind the region on average.

21 Latvia 72.5
37 Lithuania 68.3
57 Estonia 63.8
The index has two main components divided into sub components. Of the main components, state of environments seems to be rather fine in Baltics, from Lithuanian 74,3 to Estonian 76,9 (out of 100). However, the ecosystem variable shows really some variation: fro Latvian 79,3 to Estonian 50,4. While Latvia and Lithuania are ranked into a group of less industrially developed countries with vast natural resources, Estonia bundles with the industrial world - and this is perhaps visible in the ecosystem variable. When compared to each other, it seems Lithuania has issues with fishing, biodiversity and availability of water, and Estonia has poor air quality and high emissions. This is pure speculation, but perhaps the Estonian figures somehow reflect the use of oil shale in energy production and Lithuania on the other hand has very limited seashore and water flows only in dirty rivers coming mostly from Belarus.

However, I thought the ranking is very partial and does not give even slightest support for developing countries to keep on doing the good work with environment. On the other hand, it does not take anyhow into consideration how industrial countries have countless methods they could use to curb the emissions and health the world - that is money - and how the smaller ones cannot perhaps afford all the latest environmental technology, if they are even short of the basics like food and water.


Thus, A quick recalculation: EPI/log10(gdpcap07). Let's "standardize" the result of efforts to availability of methods, so to say. I removed Serbia/Montenegro due to missing data.

New results:  old result in parenthesis

New top:
Nepal 1 (38)
Costa Rica 2 (3)
Congo DR 3 (106)
Zimbabwe 4 (127)
Iceland5 (1)


Old top:
Iceland 5 (1)
Switzerland 10 (2)
Costa Rica 2 (3)
Sweden 11 (4)
Norway 43 (5)

Old bottom:
Sierra Leone 152 (162)
Central-African Rep 151 (161)
Mauritania 155 (160)
Angola 158 (159)
Togo 142 (158)

New bottom:
UAE 162 (151)
Bahrain 161 (144)
Eq. Guinea 160 (145)
Qatar 159 (121)
Angola 158 (159)

Significant leaps  (over 70 ranks)
Zimbabwe +122 
Congo DR +102
Burundi +95
Eritrea +91
Malawi +83
Mosambique  +81
Guinea-Bissau +77

Significant falls (over 55 ranks )
Luxembourg -81
Singapore -70
The Netherlands -64
USA -63
Canada -62
Brunei -62
Australia -59
Denmark -58

Baltic Sea Region
Sweden 11 (4)
Latvia 45 (21)
Finland 57 (12)
Belarus  64 (52)
Germany 70  (17)
Lithuania 72 (36)
Denmark 89 (31)
Poland 93 (62)
Estonia 100 (56)
Russia 103 (68)

The new ranks show the countries with lot of money but little relative effort, as well as the poor ones that showing some effort. Of the BSR, One can notice how it was earlier practically divided by West-East division (as the whole EPI). The new calculation, where the ability (assuming GDP per capita is more relevant that GDP itself - GDP per capita tells relatively the amount of usable money per person, while GDP just shows a lump sum) comes in, seems that only a few countries do what they really could do.  Baltics kept their order even in the new calculation, and seems the majority of Baltic Sea Region countries still are on the plus side (above rank 81) in the world. Just shame on Denmark!

Original EPI: http://epi.yale.edu/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Algirdas Semeta and a ... party member

The new Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud may be Algirdas Šemeta! Why should you care?

First, there are a few issues with the title and the country of origin. Lithuania is for sure fighting hard(ly?) towards fraud, but nevertheless, this is a country of some good ol' corruption. I have heard stories of medical passes being bought by people who were first deemed to have too bad eyes for computer work, then bribing of police is not perhaps an everyday issue, but something that even foreigners have met in the country. And then the officials and politicians? Quite a few are involved in a more or less shady affairs. I think you get the picture: Lithuania is not a country of customs, audit nor anti-fraud. Still this does not mean that the customs would not reveal all the time record high illegal imports from Russia, nor that there would not be any people that would be experts on this area. Just, not Semeta.


The man who mostly looks like the Finnish C-class celebrity Matti-Esko Hytönen, has some issues of his own. He was taken as a commissioner to fill in the current president Dalia Grybauskaite, and as the trend seems to be, once you are in, you are in. Thus, Semeta is now offered for second term, and this may be the biggest mistake EU can make.




 Matti-Esko Hytönen

You can all go to visit the EC web page and read through the impressive CV of the man, but you will perhaps also notice the huge hole in it: the education is not given. Mr. Semeta says he has finished the studies of cybernetics and economics in Vilnius University in 1985. Thus, this Soviet time economist has the formal education of 5 years of university. The man of statistics (which by all means must be just good for the post, unless he is expected to understand the always so overvalued "why?" of the events) holds just the first level university education that was offered those times, but it is not written anywhere that a commissioner should be a phd or even a master, or is it?

Still, Semeta may be just the perfect man for the post. Bad language skills, looks of an evil genius and charisma that is left second only by Silvio Berlusconi. I surely hope that he has a strong team if he gets through, as the post may be too much for his rather narrow shoulders. It just is not a good move to put a man from country that has bad relations to our largest neighbor to rule the customs...

What you should expect: bad English, lots of statistics, long truck lines on Russian borders, great performances of Mr. Charisma 2009.
What you should not expect: solutions
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A great new age is about to begin!

Hereby, we, the great omnipotent correspondent of the east shores of Baltic Sea, pronounce this blog as open. Surely, the development should soon take towards an integrated web page with more content, but the mismanagement of the EU funds has left us short of website development subsidy, and we can surely say that the evil forces of our sworn enemas are behind this all! We curse thee!

However, it is not a moment for panic yet. We shall return to glory, and make our name known! We shall be misunderstood many times during this process, but in the end, not even the glory of King Roman II will outshine our noble mission!

Thus, let's all hail the Baltics, denounce the denouncers, and oppress the oppressors!

And now, back to work...

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