Saturday, February 25, 2006

Quick Pic

Since I can't upload any pics from London or Stockholm because I've lost my cable I thought I'd throw up a pic that Liisa had of J├Ągala falls where Liisa and I were a couple of weeks back when it was really cold (-17C that day). I'll post more about my week of heavy travelling once I'm back in Tallinn next week.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Interesting Mail

I came home Friday evening and opened my mailbox where there were two interesting pieces of mail which made me chuckle a bit. The first one was from the Canadian Embassy (i'm registered as a Canadian living abroad), about Avian Flu, which has wormed it's way through a large part of Europe. The letter was warning me about the dangers, etc but also explaining that it was strictly informative and not to worry.

The second piece of mail was a warning about the dangers of all the factories in Tallinn and the potential blast radiuses and spread of chemicals if any of these factories were to have an accident. There's even a nice colour map with lots of circles showing who is in what danger zone, by the looks of it most of the city is in a danger zone of some sort. I'm not sure who this mail was from, it doesn't say on it anywhere, but I can only assume it is from the city itself.

Now the dilema, which one do I worry about more, bird flu or exploding factories? :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saaremaa and Music

This past weekend I spent an amazing 3 days on Saaremaa with Liisa. The weather was awesome, right around freezing and sunny. You couldn't ask for a better weekend. I took lots of pictures but it appears that I left the cable for my camera in Toronto. Not sure what I'll do now but I'll figure out a way to get pictures uploaded.

One thing that I've been doing a lot of lately is downloading new music and taking full advantage of my iPod (I even uploaded a movie to it which is pretty cool). Some of the stuff that I've been listening too recently are:

Clap you hands and say yeah: This album rocks in my opinion. The lead singer may have the world most annoying voice but there is somthing about this album that gets my blood pumping.
Arcade Fire: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) may be the best song I've heard in years enough said.
Artic Monkeys: These 19 year olds are the hottest thing in the UK since the Beatles. They set the record for highest selling debut album beating such names as Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, etc. Naturally any band that is this hyped is bound to disapoint. I'll let you decide.
Black Rebal Motorcycle Club: Yes, they were featured in a recent episode of The O.C.
The Shins: They are not new, but I haven't heard them much. Pretty decent.
We are Scientists: Another indie rock/Strokes-esque band that has a little something to offer.

There's a lot more but that enough for now. I suggest you give each of these at least 1 listen to.

Next week I'm off to London for work, then Stockholm to visit Liisa. Hopefully by then I'll have figured out some way to upload pictures.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Enough winter for everyone

From what I hear it's been quite a warm winter back in Toronto. Well, I can assure you that it's been cold enough here for two countries. This shot is across the Baltic towards town this past weekend. That frozen mass, that would be the sea and they even have cool animals like seals out there.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vaene Eesti

I don't really notice it that much, mostly because the people I tend to hang out with aren't that affected, but sometimes it really strikes you how poor Estonia still is. An article in one of today's Estonian newspapers was talking about wages and how the vast majority of people make around 8000EEK net a month (about $800). Only 13% of the country makes over 12000EEK a month which is astounding. Imagine the top salaries in Toronto being $1200! It amazes me that anyone can afford anything here on these salaries, just out of interest I've looked at a bit of real estate in town and the prices here are astronomical. For a 50-80 sqaure meter apartment in the Old Town or close by you'd probably pay somewhere between $2-300,000 minimum. Clearly the vast majority of Estonians have no hope of ever affording any of these apartments which is why places like Lasnamae and other suburbs are so packed. I also don't find things like food or clothes in the major shops that much cheaper here than compared to Toronto. Gas is about $1.30 a litre. Certain things are cheaper: booze, electricity, restaurants, public transport, etc.

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. Estonia's economy is sizzling, last years growth was over 10% and most expect similar results this year and next and there is further integration with the rest of the EU. And consider this, before WW2 Estonia was a wealthier nation than Finland. Now Finland is one of the richest countries in the world. I personally think that Estonians are smart enough and hard working enough so that the question isn't if Estonia can catch up, just a question of when.